Sunday, 31 January 2016

Primula Mandalas

"Mandala -- Primula auricular cultivar in Spirals", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

The term "auricula" is used collectively for plants which have been developed from a hybrid between P. auricula and P. hirsuta. The cultivar I have drawn and used in these mandalas is based on the Primula auricular cultivar known as  "Mark".

Primula auricula (family Primulaceae), is most commonly known simply as Auricula. Other common names are Mountain Cowslip or Bear's Ear (from the shape of its leaves). 

"Mandala -- Child of the Universe -- Primula auricula cultivar"
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Above is a "unexpected" mandala which resulted after I had finished drawing the face of a young girl and was "playing around" with the possibility of intertwining the Auricula flower in her hair. As I continued drawing, I went from drawing swirls of hair with flowers to curves of colour with flowers. When I sat back to evaluate what I had done, I suddenly realized that I was in the process of creating a mandala without even intending to!

Below is an enhanced version of the above drawing which also resulted while I was "playing around" with some new photo-shop-type software. I apologize in advance for the future "adorning" of drawings of mine with various special effects from this software, but I just can't resist seeing what happens when I use it to manipulate my images -- at least until the novelty wears off.  

"Mandala -- Child of the Universe -- Primula auricula cultivar -- Enhanced"
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Now, back to Primula auricula (x Mark).

"Primula auricula leaves --
'Bear's Ears' ", drawing
by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer
The name Primula is from the Latin and means “prime” or “first-blooming”. This name can possibly be explained by the fact that the common primrose (Primula vulgaris) blooms extremely early in the year, sometimes even in January. The specific name auricular is also from the Latin and means "ear" (it refers to the common name of Bear's Ear" in reference to the shape of the leaves -- see drawing to your right). The cultivar name, as mentioned previously, is "Mark" or "Red Mark".

"Primula auricula cultivar -- 2016 version", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

There are over 450 species of the genus Primula in the wild as well as an amazing number of cultivars. They range in height from a few millimetres to over a metre tall. They range in colour from purple-red to white and all shades in between. They grow from the far islands of Japan in the east to the shores of Alaska in the west. They probably originated in the Himalayas and adjoining regions of western China, from where they spread across Asia to Japan, Europe and the Americas. There is even one species (Primula magellanica) indigenous to South America. These plants have been cultivated in western gardens for over 500 years.

Just as there are many varieties of Gazanias, there are also many varieties of Primula -- so it is very possible that you will be seeing more Primulas (and more Primula mandalas) in the future!

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


Suki waiting by the front door for Joycelyn to arrive so she can play
"catch the red dot"!

I have always been impressed by Suki's ability to tell time so accurately without the use of a watch or clock.  Now, however, she has revealed a new talent which leaves me quite flabbergasted.  It appears that she can even tell which day of the week it is!

Allow me to give you some anecdotal-type proof...  

Joycelyn always comes to my place on Monday and Thursday.  She may occasionally come on other days as well such as Tuesday or Friday, but her regular days are Monday and Thursday.  

Also, as most of you are aware, after Suki received a laser pointer as a Christmas gift from Joycelyn, it was Joycelyn who began to play with it -- to Suki's great delight -- every time she came to take care of me (I tried playing with the laser pointer, but I found that holding down the switch with my thumb causes too much joint pain).  At any rate, it soon became an established pattern that as soon as Joycelyn had gotten off her coat and boots and given me a hug, she would pick up the laser pointer and began the game where Suki chases and chases that "uncatchable" red dot.

Prior to this, for the 6 years that Suki has lived with me, she also has had a pattern.  Every morning after finishing her breakfast, she would give herself a quick bath and then settle down to sleep in the wingback chair.  For years she has quite happily jumped up into that particular chair and slept soundly in it until time to begin her campaign to get me to give her lunch before the scheduled noontime feeding. However, now that the laser pointer has been introduced into her life, everything has changed.

It took me about a week after Christmas to begin to realize that there was a pattern to these changes.  What I observed was that Suki's behaviour was the same as it had always been on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, BUT on Monday and Thursday her behaviour changed dramatically. 

Now, on Monday and Thursday, after eating breakfast and giving herself a very quick wash, Suki goes and sits in a wooden, fiddle-back chair near the apartment entryway.  This gives her a clear view of the front door.  As the time draws near for Joycelyn's arrival, Suki moves from the chair to the rug by the front door.  She lies there and waits. However, as soon as she hears Joycelyn exiting the elevator, she is on her feet, almost trembling with excitement.  

Once Joycelyn is in the apartment, Suki makes it quite obvious that she expects Joycelyn to move quickly in order to begin the great game!  Thankfully, Joycelyn is very obliging and after a few moments she picks up the laser pointer (designed as a mouse) and presses down on the switch that turns it on. Suki immediately begins to chase that delightfully, exasperating red light -- arthritis pain and all!

So you see, it would appear that Suki is able to tell which day of the week it is as she only exhibits this "waiting" behaviour on Monday and Thursday -- the two days when she knows for certain that Joycelyn will be coming to take care of me.  I, for one, am really impressed. 

Now, if only Suki would reveal some sort of extraordinary talent that could make a bit of money for us, then I would be even more impressed!

As for me, I continue as usual.  I made it to my appointment this past week with no problems. 

With the advent of February, I will be having more and more medical appointments because certain doctors want to check up on me every 3 to 6 months.  I'm not sure why, but they do seem to take an interest in how I am doing!  So, this coming week I have an appointment with one of those specialists.

Otherwise, I expect all to be fairly routine at the home of Suki and Sallie in the week ahead -- except on Monday and Thursday! 



"Christ on the brow of the hill", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Then He began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” All spoke well of Him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from His mouth. They said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” He said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Doctor, cure yourself!’ And you will say, ‘Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.’ ” And He said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown. But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove Him out of the town, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl Him off the cliff. But He passed through the midst of them and went on His way.  Luke 4:21-30

I have always been fascinated by this passage because of Christ's ability, when confronted by that terrifying lynch-mob mentality, to peacefully walk through the midst of it all without anyone being harmed -- especially Him.

Having spent far too many years of my life in situations where I have been confronted by the terrifying anger of others, I often thought to myself how wonderful it would be to be able to simply be untouched by it all -- to be able to peacefully walk away without anyone being harmed -- especially me.

Of course, in our lives, the lynch mob usually goes on and satisfies its blood lust while people like me end up getting harmed.  But, in spite of that reality, I often recalled this passage while waiting for the next blow to fall or the next cruel word to be said and longed for the ability to "pass through the midst of [it]" and go on my way. I've never wanted revenge, just peace, real peace. How about you?

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Tree Mandalas Plus Osteospermum

"Tree Mandala with Phases of the Moon", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Well, it seems I have climbed back into my lovely trees once again... and here are the results.

The above mandala drawing does, indeed, represent both our planet (the earth, trees, clouds and sky) and our small part of the universe (the four phases of our moon).  At the centre is fire -- both the fire at the earth's core as well as the "fire of life".  There are several other representative symbols I have included as well, but I will leave it up to you and your imagination to discover them should you be interested in doing so.

"Tree Mandala -- Lady Tree in Moonlight", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

In the second tree mandala drawing (see above), I have tried using the moon, itself, along with the light it emits, as the framework for the mandala. The tree could be representative of the Tree of Life and since it contains a face (did you notice it?) it could also represent Mother Nature.  The other trees and the night sky in the background of the drawing might seem to just be part of a natural scene; however, their darkness could indicate how even the purest light can get polluted the more it co-mingles with the darker elements of life.  Once again, I leave it up to you -- if you are interested -- to see what other symbols might be present. 


As well, I have continued to play with flower drawings from the past out of a desire to create more "flower mandalas".  Today's offering combines three different Osteospermum drawings. 

"Mandala -- Osteospermum x 3", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer,  2016

Osteospermum is a genus belonging to one of the smaller tribes (Calenduleae) of the sunflower (Asteraceae) family. The scientific name is derived from the Greek osteon (bone) and Latin spermum (seed). It has been given several common names such as African Daisy, South African Daisy, Cape Daisy and Blue-eyed Daisy. There are about 50 species native to Africa.  As well, a number of "spooned" cultivars have been developed which are commonly known as "whirligigs".

"Osteospermum ecklonis ‘Whirligig’", drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

Here are the three drawings of the individual flowers used in the "mandala" above.
I drew this white spooned flower last year.  It is a cultivar of Osteospermum ecklonis and is known as a Whirligig or Whirlygig.

"Osteospermum Purple", drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2010, rev. 2015

This second drawing is of an unusual variety of Osteospermum which I drew back in 2010 and revised sometime last year.

"Osteospermum ecklonis 'Serenity Lavender Bliss' ",
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2009, rev. 2016 
The final flower was my first attempt at drawing a "spooned" African Daisy.  The drawing was completed and featured in my blog back in 2009.  

Recently, I made a few changes in preparation for using this flower as part of my "times three" Osteospermum mandala.

Next week, I will be featuring more flower mandalas -- probably either Primula (Primrose) or Magnolia.

Portions of the above information about Osteospermum were taken from Internet sources.


"I mean, you folks don't think I'm crazy,
do you?"

I want to apologize for my long-winded list of "Rules for Visitors Regarding the Use of the Laser Pointer When Playing with Suki" in last week's posting. 

One of my regular readers pointed out to me how tiresome it would be to have to read such a long list before sitting down for coffee and a visit.  And, after some reflection, I feel I must agree.  I mean, half of the time for the visit would be over before my friends could finish reading the entire list of rules!

So, I have decided that the best solution is to simply allow my friends to use the pointer -- and laugh over Suki's amazing gymnastics as she pursues that red dot -- for an appropriate amount of time. Then, I can strongly urge them to turn their attention to coffee and conversation. Hopefully, they will be able to take the hint.

You see, one thing I failed to mention previously is that not only does Suki seem to become addicted to trying to catch that red dot, the person holding the laser light also seems to reach a point where they don't want to stop moving the red dot back and forth!  I really do wonder if these laser lights have some sort of strange effect on the brains of cats and humans.  I think I am going to have to do a bit of research on this matter!

There is another oddity that has become apparent since the advent of the laser pointer in my home ... but I think I will save that until next time.

Suki's only new problem has to do with her arthritis.  She is obviously experiencing more pain in her hip joint as she is showing a lot of hesitation now before jumping from the floor into her chair and has, on occasion, requested my help.  I spoke with the vet about this matter on Wednesday and she suggested adjusting the dosage of one particular pain medication so that Suki will receive the full benefit of the medication but will not become overly sleepy.  I began her new regimen on Thursday and, so far, it seems to be helping.

I, on the other hand, continue as usual.  I have no new problems to report nor do I have any special appointments this week.  There will just be the usual -- Joycelyn and Sharon -- plus a quick visit to the podiatrist.  Unfortunately, I did receive a letter from the building management this past Friday stating that there will be a test of the fire alarm in our building on Tuesday morning.  This means that Suki will be making a mad dash for the back of the bedroom closet while I will head for my computer desk which is located at the one point in my apartment where the alarm is least loud. Otherwise, I hope to have a quiet week.



"In the Synagogue at Nazareth", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news of him spread throughout the whole region. He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all. He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”  Luke 4:14-21

Sunday, 17 January 2016

More Mandalas

"Mandala -- Aeonium-x-3 Mandala", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

I have always liked the geometric appearance of most members of the genus Aeonium so, as I looked back at the drawings I have done over the past years, I felt that these three plants would be perfect for the "mandala treatment".  

While I am pleased to a degree with the result above, I am thinking that perhaps Aeonium lancerottense (the plant in the centre of the design) might actually make an interesting mandala all on its own -- so long as I used not only the entire plant but the individual petals as well.  It is just something that I am "sitting with" at the moment.  You will certainly know about it if I, eventually, decide to give it a try!

For now, however, let's return to today's mandala composed by using the three drawings posted below -- all members of the genus Aeonium.  

Although I did write a bit about them back in 2010 when I did the original postings, here is a bit a of information about each plant just in case you have forgotten.

Aeonium is a genus of about 35 species of succulent, subtropical plants of the family Crassulaceae. The name, Aeonium, comes from the ancient Greek "aionos" which means “immortal.

"Aeonium nobile", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer,
revised 2015
Most of the various species of Aeonium are native to the Canary Islands although some species are found in Madeira, Morocco and parts of eastern Africa.

Aeonium nobile (to your left) has one of the largest rosettes of any Aeonium -- up to 15 inches in diameter. The individual light-green leaves with reddened margins are quite succulent and fleshy.  It is native to the Canary Island of La Palma where it grows among volcanic rocks at elevations up to 2600 ft. above sea level.  The specific name of "nobile" comes from the Latin and means notable or noble.

"Aeonium lancerottense",
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, revised 2015

Aeonium lancerottense (to the right) gets its specific name from the location where it is thought to have originated which is the area around Lanzarote in the Canary Islands.  

Below is a revised drawing of Aeonium 'swartkop' with its large head of deep purple black foliage. The original drawing, done back in 2010, showed only a portion of the "rosette" and I needed the entire head in order to use this plant in the mandala. Aeonium 'swartkop'  is a cultivar of Aeonium arboretum. Its cultivar status is indicated by placing the species name in single quote marks.  

"Aeonium swartkop",
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, revised 2015 

Aeonium 'swartkop' looks like a flower because of the arrangement of its leaves which are deep red/black in colour. In fact, one of its common names is Black Rose. There are other forms of the specific name for this cultivar including "Schwarzkopf "and "Schwartzkopf".  I presume that these are various forms of the name of the individual who first successfully created the cultivar. 

Even though it is not really a mandala, I want to show you another design I made recently which I created using the flowers and petals of Tulipa stapfii.

"Mandala -- Tulipa stapfii mandala", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

I did start out intending to create a mandala using this particular tulip --  I planned to combine it with a couple of other tulip drawings. However, when I started working with Tulipa stapfii, I decided that I so liked the patterns I was able to create with this one flower that I ended up creating a design using only this one flower along with various parts of the flower such as the centre of the flower, the petals of the flower (greatly reduced in size) and the leaves.

"Tulipa stafii", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer,
revised 2016

At the left is the actual drawing (after just a bit of recent revision) that I did of Tulipa stapfii back in March of 2011.

I must say that the more involved I become with the attempt to create mandalas, the more I want to continue working on them well past my usual daily time limit for being on the computer.  Too often now I find myself working on these drawings until the pain in my hand and arm becomes unbearable and I am forced to stop. Of course, the incredible aspect of this is that up until I reach the point of unbearable pain, I am so intensely involved in the creative process that I am almost completely unaware of the pain that is always present!  If only someone could put this "creative intensity" into a medicine bottle so that people everywhere would be able to use it in order to leave their pain behind for at least a few hours each day...

Some of the above information was taken from various Internet sources.


Suki in one of her reflective moments!
Well, I much as I dislike setting up rules for visitors to my home, I have reached the point where it has become absolutely necessary.

As of this coming week, I will be posting certain rules next to the coat tree where my visitors hang their coats and leave their shoes and boots.

The poster will read as follows:

As a visitor to my home, you are welcome to do the following:

  1. Play with Suki whenever you wish and for however long you wish so long as you do so using your own fingers or any of the many conventional cat toys available.  
  2. Give her a small bit of catnip (I will show you where it is hidden) if you are so inclined -- with the proviso that you are not to complain if she drools all over your nice clothes.
However, you may wish to touch, examine or play with the laser pointer sitting on the coffee table in the living room.  If so, here are the rules you must agree to follow:

  1. You will not use the laser pointer sitting on the coffee table in the living room for any reason without my express permission.
  2. Having gained my permission, you will then be allowed to examine said pointer at your leisure; however, if you wish to turn it on, then you must be prepared for Suki to pester you for the remainder of your visit.
  3. Having turned on the laser pointer, you should be willing to engage in game playing with Suki -- said game playing may continue for a period not exceeding 15 continuous minutes.
  4. If you wish to do so, you may use the laser pointer for an additional 15 minutes of play so long as there is at least a 10 minute rest period between the first and second 15 minute segments.
  5. After having played with Suki using the laser for a total of 30 minutes, you will not be allowed to touch the pointer again during your visit.
  6. Any attempts to sneak in some extra minutes of laser play will result in your being escorted to the door with the strong suggestion that you behave yourself next time you want to come for a visit.

I hope this doesn't sound too harsh, but, unfortunately, something must be done to protect me from a cat whose brain seems to get all messed up after a prolonged bout of laser-pointer play.  When Joycelyn plays with Suki using the laser pointer for longer than 15 minutes at a time -- let's say 20 minutes -- it's almost as though Suki ends up on "speed". Even after this extended play time ends, Suki stays on high alert for at least another couple of hours and drives me a bit crazy in the process with her constant searching, whining and begging.  

However, I have noticed that the shorter the play time, the more quickly Suki "decompresses".  That is the reason for my limit on the time guests may play with Suki using the laser pointer while the rest period of 10 minutes between play periods seems to be just enough time to break the intensity of Suki's search for that damned red spot!

So, while Suki continues to become more and more addicted to the search for the laser light, I continue to be about the same as usual. 

I am having some new pain episodes in an part of my body that hasn't been affected previously; however, I am not surprised or particularly distressed by this since I have been told many times to expect the pain to spread and worsen over time.

However, the week ahead should be a reasonably quiet one for me as there are no special appointments or visits planned.  As usual, Joycelyn will be here on her regular days and I will have my regular Friday visit with my friend from the sixth floor.  Otherwise, hopefully, there shouldn't be any surprises.



"Icon -- Wedding Feast at Cana", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, rev. 2016

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it.
When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.  After this he went down to Capernaum ... and they remained there for a few days.  John 2:1-12

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Mandalas, Past and Present

"Supernova Mandala", painting by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 
acrylic and white glue on canvas board, 1972

Mandalas (Sanskrit for circle) originated as a spiritual and ritual symbol in Indian religions, representing the universe. Over time, the term “mandala” has become a generic term for any diagram, chart or geometric pattern that represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically. 

As well, the word has been adopted in modern usage for any geometric pattern that forms a cohesive unit, usually in some artistic format. The basic form of most mandalas is a square containing a circle with a center point. Mandalas often exhibit radial balance. 

The term "mandala" appears in early Hindu religious and political thought and writings but, over time, the term has appeared in other religions and philosophies as well, particularly Buddhism. In the various spiritual traditions, mandalas may be used as an aid for focussing the attention of practitioners of meditation, used as a spiritual guidance tool or used for establishing a sacred space. 

As well, forms which are evocative of mandalas are prevalent in Christianity. Some examples of this would be the celtic cross, the rosary, the halo or nimbus, the Crown of Thorns, rose windows and the dromenon on the floor of Chartres Cathedral (said to represent a journey from the outer world to the inner sacred centre where the Divine is found). As well, many of the illuminations of Hildegard von Bingen can be viewed as mandalas.

"Mandala -- Indian Lotus (tip of the hat to Carl Jung!)", drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

It is said that we owe the re-introduction of mandalas into modern Western thought to Carl Jung, the Swiss psychoanalyst. In his pioneering exploration of the unconscious through his own art making, Jung observed the motif of the circle spontaneously appearing. The circle drawings reflected his inner state at that moment. Familiarity with the philosophical writings of India prompted Jung to adopt the word "mandala" to describe these circle drawings he and his patients made. 

In his autobiography, Jung wrote: "I sketched every morning in a notebook a small circular drawing,...which seemed to correspond to my inner situation at the time....Only gradually did I discover what the mandala really is:...the Self, the wholeness of the personality, which if all goes well is harmonious." — Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections 

Jung felt that the urge to make mandalas emerges during moments of intense personal growth. It was his opinion that their appearance indicates that a profound re-balancing process is underway in the psyche and that the result of the process is a more complex and better integrated personality.

Many people have become aware of mandalas through hearing about or experiencing art therapy.  On the web site called "Art Therapy", I found the following statement: 

The very nature of creating a mandala is therapeutic and symbolic. The shapes and colors you create in your mandala art therapy will reflect your inner self at the time of creation. Your instinct and feeling should inspire and guide you through the process of creation. Ultimately, you will be creating a portrait of yourself as you are when creating the mandala.  
To read the entire article, go to:

"Lotus, Indian -- Nelumbo nucifera", drawing by Sarah " Sallie" Thayer, 2010 

As for me, I am discovering, as I continue to re-visit older flower drawings, that I am beginning to see mandalas forming almost spontaneously as I set about re-working the various parts of the original image. So prepare yourselves for the presentation of any number of flower mandalas in the weeks ahead!

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


Suki waiting for the "red bug" to re-appear!
I don't blame Joycelyn for getting the laser pointer as I was the one who thought it would be a good idea in the first place; however, I am beginning to rue the day that she brought that thing into our lives.  It has certainly changed a thing or two.

In the past, when Joycelyn would arrive early in the morning, Suki was open her eyes, blink once or twice in the general direction of Joycelyn and then go right back to sleep.  Now, as soon as Suki hears Joycelyn getting off the elevator, she is at the front door, waiting.  When she sees Joycelyn, Suki's eyes get all big and black. She is actually all aquiver with excitement! 

The more I observe Suki's behaviour in relation to this laser light, the more convinced I become that, for her, it is almost like a drug and she has quickly become one very addicted cat.

As I mused on these matters, I decided to take a look on the Internet at what various folks have had to say about these "toys" in relation to their own pets.  In doing so, I came across the following:


Only under certain circumstances -- and you must use them in ways that are good for your cat.  Marilyn Krieger | May 9th 2013

The problems with laser play

It’s not news that lasers are hazardous. Shining laser beams into eyes -- human as well as feline -- can cause permanent eye damage. Recent news reports highlight the dangers of laser pointers aimed at helicopters and airplanes. Yet the problems with laser pointers are not limited to eyes and aircraft. People typically play with cats using laser pointers in a way that frustrates and teases cats. Laser players usually point and dance the beams randomly on the floors and walls for their cats to chase. Certain of a successful catch, they pounce only to find there is nothing under their paws. The bright red dot disappears, or it lingers on the wall or settles for an instant on a paw. Cats are left frustrated, without the opportunity to feel the tactile sensation of their hard-earned prey. Felines need to have the satisfaction of the hunt — to catch and feel their prey beneath their paws.

Laser play the right way

Before getting into action, set up the environment for the game. In addition to the laser pointer, soft cat toys and highly prized cat food are needed for the job. Before playing, place the toys strategically throughout the play zone. Have food and treats at the ready. Begin the laser game by aiming the beam in front of the cat and zigzagging it away from her. Periodically, encourage the cat to "catch" the elusive beam by pausing the light on one of the stuffed toys that is now doubling as prey. Before moving the beam off the toy, the cat needs to feel the toy solidly under her paws. The intensity and length of the sessions will vary and depend on the individual cat’s age, physical conditioning, and level of interest. The play session endings are as important as their beginnings. Instead of ending abruptly, gradually slow down the beam until it finally comes to rest on a soft toy..... see the remainder of the article at:
Used with permission

I tried to do what the article suggests, but, lo and behold, Suki is such an addict that she completely ignored the "soft toys" Joycelyn had spread around the floor.  Instead, she just sat there waiting for the red dot to start moving again.

Whenever the person moving the red dot gets too tired to continue, Suki sits there and begs for more.  When she finally realizes that nothing is going to happen, she spends the next two hours searching intently for that blessed red light.  

At this point, I am uncertain as to whether I should ask the vet to put Suki in some sort of drug withdrawal program or just try to ignore the worst aspects of her behaviour and simply be grateful that she is getting more exercise!

A gift from some friends
As for me, I am doing about the same.  I did have a good number of visitors this past week -- people still catching up on their holiday visiting -- and even though I found the visits tiring, I must say that I did enjoy seeing my friends.  

To the left is a photo of a beautiful orchid that my friends brought me as a gift when they visited on Friday.  Not only will I enjoy its beauty, but I will probably end up using it as a model for a new drawing.

This coming week should be a quiet one as there are no visitors or medical appointments scheduled -- just me, Joycelyn and laser-pointer-mad Suki.  What fun!



"Icon -- The Baptism of the Lord", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, rev. 2016

A feeling of expectancy had grown among the people, who were beginning to think that John might be the Christ, so John declared before them all, ‘I baptise you with water, but someone is coming, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to undo the strap of His sandals; He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Now when all the people had been baptized and while Jesus after his own baptism was at prayer, the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit descended on Him in bodily shape, like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on You.’ Luke 3:15-16,21-22 

Collect for this Sunday:

Almighty ever-living God, who, when Christ had been baptized in the River Jordan and as the Holy Spirit descended upon Him, solemnly declared Him your beloved Son, grant that your children by adoption, reborn of water and the Holy Spirit, may always be well pleasing to you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.   


Sunday, 3 January 2016

Gazanias, Gazanias

"Gazania 'Christopher Lloyd' ", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

Above, you see a drawing of another Gazania (a cultivar by the name of 'Christopher Lloyd').  Just below is a flower mandala I created using the three Gazanias I have drawn thus far plus some Aloe Vera "leaves".  

"Gazanias and Aloe Vera Mandala", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

Below is another pattern creation -- this time in straight lines -- using the Gazania 'Fiesta Red' flower and leaves.  

As well, I ended up using this design to make bookmarks (see template) which I gave to friends as a Christmas gift.

"Gazania 'Fiesta Red' in Rows", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

Bookmarks created by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

Gazania is a genus of flowering plants in the Asteraceae (Daisy) family. The genus is native to South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique, Tanzania and Angola. They are widely cultivated as ornamental garden plants as the gardeners among you are well aware. Gazania cultivars have a number of names including 'Aztec', 'Burgundy', 'Copper King', 'Fiesta Red', 'Goldrush', 'Moonglow' and 'Christopher Lloyd'. Gazanias were named for Theodorus of Gaza, a 15th-century Italian scholar and translator of the botanical treatises of Theophrastus. The species name of rigens comes from the Latin and means frozen, stiff or rigid.

Aloe vera is a stemless or very short-stemmed succulent plant. The leaves are thick and fleshy, green to grey-green, with some varieties showing white flecks on their upper and lower stem surfaces. It is unclear where the plant originated as the plant has been widely cultivated throughout the world since earliest times. Even though there are, to my knowledge, no proven health benefits to aloe vera, it has been used in herbal medicines throughout the ages and even until now. Scientific evidence for the cosmetic or therapeutic effectiveness of aloe vera is limited and frequently contradictory. Despite this, the cosmetic and alternative medicine industries regularly make claims regarding the soothing, moisturizing, and healing properties of aloe vera. Aloe vera gel is used commercially as an ingredient in yogurts, beverages, and some desserts, although at certain doses, its toxic properties could be severe whether ingested or topically applied.  Aloe come from the Arabic word "Alloeh" and may mean patience.  Vera comes from the Latin word for truth, "verum" or "veritas".

Coming Attractions:  

In next week's posting, I will be featuring a mandala I have created using a lotus blossom I drew several years ago.  As well, I will be including a photo of a mandala oil painting I did back in the early 1970s. So, please stay tuned!

Some portions of the text above were taken from various Internet sources.


"Suki Celebrating New Year's",
drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

This drawing illustrates what those folks in the Fifth Estate call "spinning a story". Anyone who thinks that this drawing depicts anything close to the truth about how Suki spent this past Thursday evening has not been paying attention!

The truth is that Suki spent New Year's Eve the same way she always does: sleeping soundly until 11 p.m. at which time she began her campaign to try to get me to feed her the usual bedtime snack just a bit early.

The honest truth is that both Suki and I were sound asleep at the stroke of midnight when all you revellers were out there shouting "Happy New Year" to one another.  We both were briefly awakened soon after midnight by my noisy neighbours as they said "goodnight" to their friends at the elevators which, unfortunately, are located close to my apartment.  Thankfully, both Suki and I were able to return to our sleeping soon thereafter.

Otherwise, it was a fairly quiet week for both of us.  Joycelyn did spend a bit of time "teasing" Suki with the laser pointer during each of her visits (I will be saying more about cats and laser pointers in next Sunday's posting).  As well, I had a few visitors early in the week. 

On New Year's morning, I went upstairs to visit with my friend, Sharon and in honour of the New Year, we shared a piece of chocolate fudge cake that a friend had dropped off the day before.  Both Sharon and I figured that there was really no better way to bring in the New Year than by having a piece of sinfully rich chocolate cake!

This coming week should be a quiet one as well.  Joycelyn will be here as usual and a friend plans to drop by for a brief visit on Tuesday.  Otherwise, I should be able to use my usual pain distraction techniques as usual in order to get myself through the first full week of 2016.

I did ask Suki if she had made any New Year's resolutions and, surprisingly, she said "yes".  When I asked her to tell me how she planned to make her life better in the coming year, she told me that she has resolved to eat more, sleep more and to finally catch that "!*%!#* red dot".

I didn't make any resolutions, but if I had it would probably have been something like "try to just deal with today's pain without worrying about how you are going to deal with tomorrow's!"  It sounds good, but since I know I won't keep it, I decided not to make it in the first place.  Maybe next year.

Anyway, I do hope that 2016 will be a better year for us all.



"Icon -- Epiphany of the Lord", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2010, rev. 2015

After Jesus had been born at Bethlehem in Judaea during the reign of King Herod, some wise men came to Jerusalem from the east. ‘Where is the infant king of the Jews?’ they asked. ‘We saw his star as it rose and have come to do him homage.’ When King Herod heard this he was perturbed, and so was the whole of Jerusalem. He called together all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, and enquired of them where the Christ was to be born. ‘At Bethlehem in Judaea,’ they told him ‘for this is what the prophet wrote: And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, you are by no means least among the leaders of Judah, for out of you will come a leader who will shepherd my people Israel.’ Then Herod summoned the wise men to see him privately. He asked them the exact date on which the star had appeared, and sent them on to Bethlehem. ‘Go and find out all about the child,’ he said ‘and when you have found him, let me know, so that I too may go and do him homage.’ Having listened to what the king had to say, they set out. And there in front of them was the star they had seen rising; it went forward, and halted over the place where the child was. The sight of the star filled them with delight, and going into the house they saw the child with his mother Mary, and falling to their knees they did him homage. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh. But they were warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, and returned to their own country by a different way.  Mt. 2:1-12