Sunday, 31 May 2015

Milk and Wine Lily (Crinum zeylanicum)

"Milk and Wine Lily (Crinum zeylanicum)", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015


"Crinum lilies are one of the most common old garden and cemetery plants. They always remind me of the southern USA where I grew up. They're huge, the biggest of all bulbs. They're so showy and fragrant that they border on being obnoxious. Although not common in commerce anymore, many country yards still have a clump or two. Crinums became common southern dooryard plants around the beginning of the 1900s. There are about 130 species of Crinums, native mainly to the tropics and South Africa."

Crinum zeylanicum, commonly known as Milk and Wine Lily, is a member of the Amaryllidaceae family. Crinum comes from the Greek krinon, meaning lily; zeylanicum means of, or from, Ceylon (Sri Lanka).

In the tropical and subtropical areas where the Milk and Wine lily is native, both the bulbs and the leaves are used for their medicinal properties. It is reportedly used as a febrifuge (i.e. as medication to reduce fever) and as an analgesic (i.e. to relieve pain). The roasted bulbs are crushed and applied to abscesses and used, as well, as a treatment for “rheumatism”. The juice of the leaf is used to relieve the pain of an earache.

Of course, I was attracted to these flowers for two reasons: I remember them from my childhood and I love the strips of colour on the milky white.  

To be honest, I really do not care much for most lilies as I have always found the odour to be somewhat overpowering.  I do enjoy Crinum zeylanicum, however, from a distance.  As most of you are well aware, I do love Calla Lilies, but these, as I have told you often enough, are not true lilies at all.



Portions of the above information were taken from various Internet sources.
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SUKI AND SALLIE


Suki in a moment of contemplation!
Well, Suki hasn't done anything especially outrageous this past week.  That is not to say that she has been well-behaved -- no, she has been her usual frustratingly, lovable self.

Actually, I had expected to be able to tell you about Suki's latest interaction with the "noise monster" as workmen were scheduled to finally fix the hole they left in the back of my entryway coat closet (they plan to install a metal door so that, in future, they can reach the pipes behind the wall without breaking through the wall again).  However, they were evidently called out on some emergency or other and so the work on my wall was postponed.  I'm sure I will be getting another letter requesting "permission to enter" sometime in the near future.  So, you can look forward to soon hearing about Suki's behaviour when the "noise monster" comes to visit once again!

As for me, I had a lengthy visit with the pain specialist this past week during which we talked about the results of all the tests I have had recently. Unfortunately, there was no good news.  The whole spine/neck disease has definitely gotten worse and the prognosis is that it will continue to worsen.

There were, however, a couple of painful areas in my arm and leg that he thought might be unrelated to the disease and, if so, there may be a way to provide me with some long-term relief in these areas. So, a couple of additional tests are now scheduled. I will let you know what we find out.



Ronàn playing with a bucket full of toys!
By the way, next Sunday Ronàn will be baptized.  Please pray for him.











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TRINITY SUNDAY



"Icon - Holy Trinity (Hospitality of Abraham and Sarah)", by the hand
of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2010, rev. 2015


Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  Mt 28:16-20


For Trinity Sunday, I am using my icon of the three angels visiting Abraham and Sarah.  As most of you know, this event, found in the 18th chapter of the Book of Genesis, has been seen by the Church for centuries as a "foretelling" of the doctrine of the Triune God.

You may recall that back in 2010 I featured an icon of Rublev, the Russian iconographer, famous for "writing" the icon of the three angels.  The icon has been known ever since as "The Trinity". 

Here is my icon which includes a copy of Rublev's famous work:


"Icon - Rublev the Iconographer", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer,
2010, rev. 2015


The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is, in my opinion, so far beyond human understanding that I, an ordinary laywoman, would be an utter fool to attempt to comment.  So, I won't.  I just hope that the images will speak to you about this Community of Love.

St. Andrei Rublev, pray for us.

In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Amen. 

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Daydreaming

"Woman Daydreaming", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015


Daydreaming is defined as a short-term detachment from one's immediate surroundings -- a time during which a person's contact with reality is blurred and partially substituted by a visionary fantasy, especially one of happy, pleasant thoughts, hopes or ambitions, imagined as coming to pass and experienced while awake. 

There are many types of daydreams and there is no consistent definition among psychologists; however, the characteristic that is common to all forms of daydreaming meets the criteria for mild dissociation. 

Daydreaming is a natural, human activity --  especially among younger people.  Recent studies have shown that it can be beneficial for people in creative or artistic careers, such as composers, novelists and filmmakers, developing new ideas through daydreaming. Similarly, research scientists and mathematicians have developed new ideas by daydreaming about their subject areas.

Of course, throughout the centuries -- especially once mankind began working with tools that require concentration -- daydreaming has often been frowned up.  Sayings such as "idle hands are the Devil's workshop..." (Proverbs 16) have been used frequently to reprimand anyone appearing to simply sit and think.  So, daydreaming has often gotten a bad rap even though it appears to be something beneficial to the human race -- and like night dreams, maybe even necessary for good mental health.  

Of course, as most of us can admit, many of our daydreams, especially during our adolescent years, were often about us accomplishing great things -- we would see ourselves as a mix between Superman/woman and Mother Teresa -- righting the world's wrongs -- particularly those in our own lives!  Even though I can recall many such daydreams of my own, I also realize now how important those dreams were in helping me to cope, successfully, with the frightening, and often violent, world that was my family.

Now let me speak a bit about the inspiration for this particular drawing.  

Quite by accident, I came across a painting entitled La dormiente (The Sleeper) by Tamara de Łempicka (1898 - 1980 -- born Maria Górska in Warsaw, The Kingdom of Poland [Królestwo Polskie] under the rule of the Russian Empire, into a wealthy and prominent family).  In Łempicka's painting, the woman has her eyes closed in sleep; however, I decided that I wanted my drawing to be of a woman awake, but daydreaming.

Of course, I was first attracted to La dormiente by the sleeping woman's hands.  I knew at once that I wanted to try to draw those hands in that position and it was those hands on which I spent the majority of my effort.

Łempicka, by the way, was a Polish Art Deco painter and "the first woman artist to be a glamour star". Influenced by Cubism, Lempicka became the leading representative of the Art Deco style across two continents, a favourite artist of many Hollywood stars, referred to as 'the baroness with a brush'. She was the most fashionable portrait painter of her generation among the haute bourgeoisie and aristocracy, painting duchesses and grand dukes and socialites. Through her network of friends, she was also able to display her paintings in the most elite salons of the era.  

Łempicka's distinctive and bold artistic style developed quickly, influenced by what André Lhote sometimes referred to as "soft cubism" and by the "synthetic cubism" of Maurice Denis, epitomizing the cool yet sensual side of the Art Deco movement. For her, Picasso "embodied the novelty of destruction". She thought that many of the Impressionists drew badly and employed "dirty" colors. Lempicka's technique would be novel, clean, precise, and elegant.

     

[Portions of the above information were taken from Wikipedia]
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SUKI AND SALLIE


Suki -- Too clever for her own good!

As you know, Suki has this annoying habit of beginning her campaign to awaken me about half an hour before my preferred time for arising in the morning.

Most of the time, her campaign techniques include such things as rattling the Venetian blinds or knocking small objects off the bedside table so that they hit the hardwood floor with bang. 

Recently, however, she has tried a new technique:  she sits on the bed, as far from me as possible, and repeatedly taps my head with her paw. After each tap, she quickly moves away from me until she is ready to tap again. She has tried the tapping technique on other parts of my body a couple of times, but she seems to realize that my head is the most sensitive area. 

So far, she has only used this technique when she sees me sleeping a bit past my usual time for arising and becomes, therefore, quite convinced that she is going to starve to death at any moment! However, she has learned, to her sorrow, that attempting a "wake-up" technique that requires her to get so close to me while I am still asleep puts her in grave danger.  

Suki has discovered that my hands and feet can strike out quite suddenly when she touches me while I am sleeping and, that my reach is much greater than she has calculated. As a consequence, in spite of her efforts to move away quickly, she has gotten knocked off the bed more than a few times now.  Of course, she may consider that the risk is worth it as my hitting her causes me to instantly become fully awake and full of apologies which means that she gets fed almost immediately!

I do feel rather badly about striking out that way, but I can't be held responsible for what I do in my sleep, can I? 

I'm hoping Suki will decide that this newest "wake-up" technique is not worth the risk and will quickly discontinue using it -- both for her sake and for mine.

As for the rest of my week, it was fairly uneventful other than a visit to the ophthalmologist this past Wednesday.  He was very displeased with my failure to use the drops he prescribed some months ago.  I tried to explain to him how much the drops irritated my eyes and interfered with my ability to work on the computer or stream my shows and movies, but he was insistent that I had to use the drops.  I was finally able to convince him to prescribe another type of drops and I started using these on Friday. So far, they have turned out to be just as irritating and painful as the previous ones! What to do? What to do? Why is nothing easy?


"Altocumulus Clouds and Diffused Sunlight", 
photo by G.W., 2015
One nice thing that happened was that my friend, G, posted some more of her photos on Facebook.  She is definitely demonstrating some real creativity in her newly-discovered talent for photography. There was one photo, in particular, which I found quite exciting (see right).



"Altocumulus Clouds and Diffused Sunlight (colourized)".
original photo by G.W., colouration by S. Thayer 


Of course, the moment I saw this photo, I wanted to play with it, turning it from a scenic photo into a something like abstract art (see left).

This is not to imply that there was anything wrong with the original photo.  It's just my love of taking ordinary things and "playing" with them in an effort to turn them into something else -- something not easily defined.  

I have actually "played" with a couple of G's photos now changing them from photographs into something like abstract art.  Let me show you a couple of examples:
"First Tulips", photo by
G.W., 2015


"First Tulips -- Abstract", original
photo by G.W., abstract form by
S. Thayer, 2015

"Spring Multicolour", photo by G.W., 2015

"Spring Multicolour - Abstracted",
taken from original photo by
G.W., abstract form by S. Thayer,
2015























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PENTECOST SUNDAY


"Icon -- (Detail) Pentecost", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2009


On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”   John 20:19-23

I am not posting the traditional Pentecost icon that I drew some years ago now.  I did go and take a look at it, but discovered that I will need to do a complete revision before I am willing to post it again -- so maybe next year at Pentecost if I am still around. Instead I just pasted in a detail from that icon -- of Our Lady.

"The descent of the Holy Spirit" -- what a strange and difficult concept.  I have never met anyone who could easily explain what we mean by the Holy Spirit (or Ghost as it used to be called in English).  I mean, I understand that it is like the "breath of God" breathing in us and so I often use the Hebrew word ruach which means wind, breath or spirit (as in “The Spirit of God [Ruach Elohim] was hovering over the waters” Genesis 1:2) when trying to make sense of "the Third Person of the Trinity".

But even then, I am faced with a mystery -- something beyond my understanding -- which is how it should be, I guess. All I can say is: 
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

Amen.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Hippeastrum not Amaryllis!

"Hippeastrum 'Baby Star' ", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015


For many years there was confusion among botanists over the generic names Amaryllis  and  Hippeastrum. One major result of this confusion is that the common name "amaryllis" is used almost entirely for both Hippeastrum and Amaryllis. 

The plants in these two genera, available in stores in North America and Europe particularly during the Christmas/Holiday season, are usually found under the section heading of "Amaryllis". They are, however, two different genera. Hippeastrum is native to the tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas -- from Argentina north to Mexico and the Caribbean. By contrast, the genus name, "Amaryllis, applies to bulbs native to South Africa. 

Hippeastrum is, like Amaryllis, a genus in the family Amaryllidaceae.  The name Hippeastrum, given to the genus by William Herbert, (1778–1847, a British botanist, botanical illustrator, poet, and clergyman) means "Knight's-star-lily", although precisely what Herbert meant by the "knight" part of the name remains unclear.

The hybrid, Hippeastrum 'Baby Star', is reddish-orange with a white star center and green throat. However, don't be misled by the term "miniature" as they produce 2 (or even 3) stalks to a height of 18".


"Hippeastrum 'Baby Star' ", drawing, with
special effects, by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

After completing the drawing, I decided to play with it just a bit -- ending up with a somewhat interesting effect (see right). It now looks almost as though the drawing had been done using coloured pencils.

I tried using some new sfx (special effects) software that promised to turn my photo or drawing into an oil painting. I am not showing you the results of that experiment as I find what remained of my drawing rather distressing. In fact, the finished "painting" looked less like an oil painting of flowers and more like some really bad abstract art with reddish-orange and green blobs everywhere!



Portions of the above information were taken from various Internet sources.
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BRADEN AND RONÀN




How great is it to be the only grandchildren in the family?!!



Braden taking his sports car out for a spin!





While younger brother, Ronàn, ends up with the VW convertible!  Ah, well, 
he is just learning to drive after all!

 
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SUKI AND SALLIE

Suki resting comfortably in the mid-day sun
I know you will find it difficult to believe -- I certainly do -- but Suki has been reasonably well behaved this past week.

What can I say?  It must be the result of my excellent cat-training techniques!  No?

She did all the usual, but nothing strange or unusual -- which leaves me without any new stories to tell you in this week's blog posting. Personally, I wouldn't mind having this problem every week; however, knowing Suki as we do, we know how unlikely this scenario will prove to be.

I just stopped and asked Suki if she thought she might be well-behaved for another week.  She opened her eyes ever so slightly for half a second and then, promptly went back to sleep.  Ah, well, what can I say?

As for me, I have had a rather busy week with both an MRI and a doctor's appointment.  

The MRI took place at the hospital on Tuesday evening about 7:30 p.m. (they seem to have appointments scheduled for people from early morning until very late at night these days).  It has been just long enough since my last MRI for me to have almost completely repressed my memories of the experience -- so much so that I had forgotten about the noise!  It all came flooding back, however, when they put those big, padded headphones on me just prior to pushing me into that tiny, tiny space. By then, of course, it was too late. I was already trapped. Then the banging begin and went on and on and on for the next 30 minutes.  All of this in an effort to see complete pictures of my neck/cervical spine. I do hope something good was accomplished by all of this.  I won't get the results of the MRI or the other imaging tests until I see the specialist the last week of May.

As well, I had an appointment with my family doctor on Wednesday to get the results of the ultrasound that was done a few weeks ago.  I may have mentioned that my doctor wanted to take a look at my kidneys. Well, it turns out that my kidneys are doing just fine; however, my poor, old liver isn't!  The ultrasound revealed a possible problem with my liver. However, if it is a type of liver disease, it is in the very early stages.  I won't know anymore until after I see the specialist (gastroenterologist) and he/she has a look at the ultrasound. My doctor said that probably it will turn out that there is nothing serious going on. Most likely, I will just have another long-term physical "affliction" to add to my ever-growing list of things that cause me discomfort and pain. Oh, joy, oh, bliss! 

This coming week I only have one medical appointment -- my annual visit to the ophthalmologist.  It shouldn't be too unpleasant except for those tests they want me to do with the tiny, blinking lights.  Too often I seem to end up with a migraine after having to watch those little lights blinking off and on, over and over again.

Tomorrow is a holiday -- Queen Victoria's Birthday is celebrated on the Monday preceding May 25th each year. The holiday is also known as the May 24th weekend as that is the actual date assigned to the birthday. This is our long weekend in May since we don't celebrate U.S. Memorial Day which this year will fall on Monday the 25th of May -- we almost got to share our holidays with the U. S. this year! Anyway, happy Victoria Day to you all.



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SEVENTH SUNDAY OF EASTER (OR ASCENSION SUNDAY WHERE TRANSFERRED) 



"Divino Niño Jesús", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012, rev. 2015



Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying: “Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one. When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me, and I guarded them, and none of them was lost except the son of destruction, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you. I speak this in the world so that they may share my joy completely. I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth.”  John 17:11b-19
OR

Jesus said to his disciples: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God. But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.  Mk 16:15-20


Even though the Canadian Church is celebrating the Ascension on Sunday the 17th, having transferred the Feast from Thursday the 14th, I have chosen to focus on the reading for the 6th Sunday of Easter.  

----------

"Lifting up his eyes to heaven..." I suppose that Christ had prayed this way since childhood -- having been taught by Joseph and Mary to pray standing -- as is traditional for people of the Jewish faith. The only drawing I have ever done of Christ standing, quietly, in prayer is the one of Him as a young boy -- known as the Divino Niño Jesús. 

Although, as a Catholic, my normal prayer posture is to be on my knees, I remember some particular moments when I, too, have stood in prayer. In particular, the times I stood and prayed at the Western Wall (all that remains of the Jewish Temple that was in existence while Christ walked the earth) in Jerusalem.  At those moments, I thought particularly of Christ standing, perhaps in the same location, lifting His eyes upward and saying: “Holy Father, keep in Your name those that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one ... so that they may share my joy completely ... Keep them from the evil one ... and consecrate them in the truth.

So, I pray that we may know, in our own lives, that joy and peace for which Christ prayed.  May we, too, be consecrated in the Truth of Him who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Amen. 

Sunday, 10 May 2015

St. Theodore (Božidar)

"Icon -- St. Theodore, Soldier and Martyr (Božidar)"
by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014


Some of you may recall that when my godson's son, Braden was born, I posted both of his given names: first name, Braden, middle name, Božidar.  The name "Braden" is Irish (his father is of Irish heritage). Božidar is a Slavic given name used by Serbian and Croatian peoples (his mother is of Serbian/Croatian heritage) meaning "God's gift". It is a calque of the Greek name Theodore, itself derived from the Greek word "Theodoros".
"Icon--St. Ronàn", by
the hand of Sarah
"Sallie" Thayer, 2014 

So, for some time, I have been planning on "writing" an icon of St. Theodore to give Braden as a special gift.  I kept procrastinating, however, until Braden's brother, Ronàn, was born and I decided that I wanted to "write" an icon for him of his patron, St. Ronàn. [You may recall my posting last year in which I featured the icon -- see right]. Finally, amazingly, I have finished both icons!

Now, let me tell you a bit about St. Theodore (Božidar). There are actually a number of  saints with the name of Theodore in both the Orthodox and Roman Catholic traditions.  I want to tell you a bit about the best known of these: St. Theodore, Soldier and Martyr. 

St. Theodore (
Božidar) is said to have been born in the Near East (Syria or Armenia are mentioned by some writers) some time after 280 A.D. While still very young, he enlisted in the army and was sent with his cohort to winter quarters in Pontus. 

When the fourth and final Diocletian edict against the Christians was issued in 304 A.D., Theodore (Božidar), a Christian, was brought before the Court and asked to offer sacrifice to the gods. Theodore, however, denied the existence of such gods and made a noble profession of his belief in the Divinity of Jesus Christ. Normally, he would have been condemned to death immediately; however, his judges, apparently, felt pity for Theodore because of he was such a very young man and so gave him some time for reflection.

Theodore (Božidar), however, used this opportunity to burn down the Temple of the goddess, Cybele. After this, he was again taken prisoner and tortured for quite some time before being burned at the stake. His martyrdom occurred in the year 306 A.D. In only 7 more years, Constantine, who became emperor following Diocletian, would issue the Edict of Milan which finally lifted the Roman ban against Christians permanently.

Due to the number of saints bearing the name, Theodore, it is difficult to say, with certainty, the date on which his feast should be celebrated.  The feast days I could locate included September 19th or 20th and November 11.

St. Theodore (Božidar), pray for us.




Much of the information on the life of St. Theodore was taken from the Catholic Encyclopedia.

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BRADEN AND RONÀN 





Braden intently watching everything at the recent Monster Jam
while just about to have some cotton candy for the first time!
(no report yet on whether he liked the candy or not.)




Ronàn's arms are getting stronger and stronger -- soon he will 
be crawling everywhere -- poor mom will be playing "chase the baby" again!




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SUKI AND SALLIE






Suki looking out the window --
just in case a pigeon should fly past!

Let me tell you about my fur stole!

Recently, sometime during the early morning hours when old ladies like myself should be comfortably sleeping, I was awakened out of a terrible dream.

I had gone to bed at the usual time and although it was one of our first warm days, the evening air was cool on my face as I fell asleep.  There was no reason for me to suspect that only a few hours later I would be sweating profusely while fighting for my life!

Of course, the fight for my life wasn't a real fight, but while I was still dreaming it seemed totally real and very frightening.  In the dream, I was being chased by men who, I somehow knew, wanted me dead.  As I ran, I was getting so hot and winded that I knew I had to find some place to hide from them or pass out from exertion. Finally, I saw an open door ahead of me.  Rushing into the darkened room, I quickly shut the door behind me while trying to control my breathing so that it would not be heard by my pursuers.

Suddenly, I heard a loud clicking noise coming from the door and realized, too late, that I had just allowed myself to be locked into this room.  Frantically, I began trying to find another way out, but, in the absolute darkness of this room, all I could find were the walls which seemed to be made of some sort of stone.  

Then, without warning, the lights came on. This was followed almost immediately by the noise of something that sounded like a generator.  The next thing I knew, the room began to fill with steam and I quickly begin to realize that the room, into which I had run in hopes of safety, was actually a sauna or steam room of some sort. As I stood rooted in place, I could see the steam getting ever more dense while the temperature seemed to be increasing rapidly. In that moment, I realized that if I could not find a way out, I was going to die and by the time anyone found me, I would be well-steamed and very dead.

Frantically, I began to pound the walls in a futile effort to break out. There were no windows, of course, and the only door seemed to be the one through which I had entered the room.  As the full reality of my situation hit me, I suddenly found myself feeling extremely angry -- so angry, in fact, that I hurled my body against the door in one last effort to break free.  

The impact in the dream was sufficiently real, I guess, so that I finally woke up only to discover that there was something wrapped around my neck -- something frighteningly hot and heavy.  As I groped with this "thing" in the darkness of my bedroom, I suddenly realized that the thing wrapped around my neck was Suki!

As I began to fully comprehend what had actually been going on, I realized that Suki had somehow gotten herself wrapped around my neck, like a fur stole.  The resulting heat generated by her heavy body lying on top of one of my major arteries had led my poor subconscious to create a dream trying to explain my ever-growing discomfort.  I realized that I had become so, so hot that not only were my p.j.s damp through and through, but my hair was wet with perspiration!   

Shaking my head in disbelief, I grabbed that crazy cat and dumped her, unceremoniously, onto the floor beside the bed and begin a rather lengthy lecture on what can happen to bad cats -- especially very bad cats. Suki observed me for about half a minute, yawned and then headed off towards the kitchen to see if the "food fairy" had visited her food dish in her absence!

By the time I had dried my hair and changed into dry p.j.s, it was almost time to get up.  However, with a few last warning words to Suki, I managed to drift off again for another hour or so.  What a night! What a cat!

Otherwise, the past week has been a quiet one with no medical appointments or special visitors.  Starting this week, however, things will be a bit busier for me and will remain that way for the remainder of the month.

The pain management problems persist, but I am hoping that by the time all these latest tests are completed, the specialist will have a better idea of how to use my pain meds to their best advantage. We'll see.



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SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER




"Icon--No Greater Love", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015 rev.

Jesus said to his disciples: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.”  
John 15:9-17

Christ says that if we keep His commandments, we will remain in His love ... what commandments did He give us?  As you recall, He said that He was giving us a new commandment: 1) love God above all else; and 2) love your neighbour as yourself. I call this "the commandment of love".

Of course, how we put this commandment into daily practice is, has been and will continue to be, a matter of some controversy and, sadly, the conclusions people have often reached about the "how" have been anything but loving.  So, I ask myself, how can I live out this commandment; how can I be that person who dwells always in the Love that is God?

First, I seek to always "keep it simple". In other words, I try not to get tied up in knots over theological niceties but rather attempt to do whatever is most kind, generous, thoughtful and loving and to do, to the best of my ability, whatever will possibly most benefit the "soul" of another person. As well, I always seek to be true to myself and to the Truth, as I understand it -- remembering that my understanding is limited and flawed. Finally, I try to always be mindful that it is not my place to judge or condemn... that is a job for God who is all-knowing Truth and Love.

So, I pray that we may all be granted the wisdom needed to know how best to love one another and ourselves -- how best to serve one another and ourselves. May this wisdom bring us peace and joy as we seek to apply it in our daily lives. 

Amen.   

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Flame Tree -- Delonix regia



"Flame Tree Blossoms -- Delonix regia", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

Delonix regia is a very distinctive tree with large, bright red/orange flowers. The genus name is derived from two Greek words: delos, meaning conspicuous, and onyx, meaning claw, referring to the appearance of the spectacular flowers. The species name of regia is Latin for royal. The tree is commonly cultivated in the tropics and subtropics, including the Caribbean and south Florida, for its ornamental value, but is under increasing threat in its native environment (Madagascar) due to habitat destruction. 


Flame Tree -- Delonix regia -- in full bloom
The Flame Tree, which produces striking, flame-coloured flowers, is also known as Royal Poinciana (named for Phillippe de Longvilliers de Poincy, an 18th century governor of the French West Indes). It is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful tropical trees in the world. For many years, this tree was placed in the genus, Poinciana before being moved to Delonix, a genus of flowering plants in the pea (or bean) family of Leguminosae.

As the trees mature, they develop broad umbrella-shaped crowns, and are often planted for their shade-giving properties. The delicate, fern-like leaves are composed of small individual leaflets, which fold up at the onset of dusk. This tree also produces brown, woody seed pods that reach lengths of up to 60 cm; they turn reddish-brown to almost black when ripe. In the Caribbean Islands the pods are used for fuel.  It is here, as well, that the pods are called "woman's tongue" because of the rattling noise they make as they strike against one another when the wind blows through the tree. Please don't let me get started on what I think about that!  

The individual flowers have four, spoon-shaped spreading scarlet or orange-red petals. Most of the blossoms also have one slightly upright, larger petal (the standard) which is marked with yellow and white although I have seen photos which show the flowers without "the standard". As you can see from the drawing above, I chose to omit "the standard". In both versions the flowers contain the same basic colours -- lovely reds, oranges and yellows. Of course, as you can imagine, I enjoyed once again using my favourite section of the palette.




Portions of the information given above was taken from various Internet sources.
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RONÀN AND BRADEN


Ronàn discovering the pleasure of playing with one's toes and fingers -- 
especially when no soother is available!





Braden discovering the pleasure of playing hide 'n seek behind mom's curtains!




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SUKI AND SALLIE


Suki sitting in the sunshine as she enjoys the first warm
days promising that summer is finally on its way!
You should hear the conversations I have with this cat almost every morning after she awakens me.  I am sure I sound quite mental!

I sit on the side of the bed while Suki sits, ever hopeful, at my feet and I tell her such things as:  "well, Missy, just because I am awake that doesn't mean you are going to get fed.  I think I will just sit here for an hour or so before I even consider opening that can of food you want so badly!"

If I am feeling particularly grumpy and in more pain than usual, I may do something like stick my finger in her face and say, with mock anger, "I am sick and tired of having to get up according to your schedule and not mine.  From now on, I am going to put you in your carrying case and stick you in the closet before going to bed.  You will be stuck in there all night and I won't be able to hear a single meow.  So how do you like that?!"

By this time, Suki, ignoring everything I have been saying, has gotten up onto the bed next to me and is busily rubbing her chin against my hand while emitting a very loud purring sound. She knows all my threats are idle ones.  As well, she knows that all that rubbing and purring is more effective than any words would be in getting me to give in to her request.

So, up I get and into the kitchen I go with Suki close by my heels. It's time for the kitty to have her breakfast.  Then I will be allowed to prepare my own breakfast in peace.

Otherwise, things are pretty much the same with me.  I did have two unexpected visitors this past week.  One was an acquaintance I hadn't seen in about 10 years.  It was wonderful to see her again and catch up on a bit more of our news than we would have time to share in our occasional emails.

The next day I had a visit from a dear friend who actually was instrumental in getting me an apartment in the co-op where I now live when it opened 18 years ago. This is the best place I have ever lived and is an excellent apartment in which to spend my "golden years"!  My friend and I have stayed in touch through the occasional email or phone call, but it was wonderful to be able to finally sit down together again and just visit.

I expect this coming week to be a quiet one; however, after that there are all sorts of medical tests and appointments scheduled for the rest of May.


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FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER



"Icon -- I am the Vine", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015 revised


Jesus said to his disciples: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. ... If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”  John 15:1-8

Throughout mankind's history, people have continually yearned to be rooted in something greater than themselves -- something that gives our short, difficult lives meaning and purpose.  So many systems have been "devised" over the centuries and most of these continue to evolve in some form or another into belief systems that have value and merit.

I was born into a family whose tradition was Christianity and, except for a brief fling with Buddhism in the 60s, I have never seriously considered being a part of any other tradition.  Of course, there are plenty of people who believe that my tradition within Christianity -- Roman Catholicism -- is a branch long ago broken off the vine that is Christ!

Be that as it may, even though I have carefully studied most of the major religious traditions currently practiced in the world, I have never really desired to turn my back on my faith -- even when things look very dark and God seems very far away.  

The reason for this is simple:  I have longed all my life to know a parent's love -- a father's love; a mother's love. These were not really available to me.  However, in spite of my negative experiences, I still feel that child within me yearning for love. Christ promised us love. In fact, He taught us that God is Love -- not Judge, Torturer, Sadist or Killer, but Love.

So, when I read the verses in today's Gospel, I hear Him saying:  "I am the Vine; you are a branch in the Vine" or, to put it another way, "I am Love and if you remain in Me, you will be rooted and grounded in Love forever."

May all of creation catch a glimpse of this Love in the way we live our lives and in the love we show to others -- thereby being "attached" to Divine Love for all eternity.

Amen.