Sunday, 28 February 2016

Camellias and Geometry

"Camellia japonica cultivar", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Certain flowers and plants easily reveal their geometric patterns -- like the Camellias above.

Golden Spiral Collage -- Source Unknown
I have always been fascinated by those bits of the natural world that we see around us each day that easily reveal their "template". For example, we can quickly think of any number of spirals that are part of our daily lives such as the Nautilus shell, a hurricane, a spiral Aloe plant, an egg or even the human ear.

By the way, for those who might not know, this spiral that I am referring to in today's column is known as the "Golden Spiral" and you can't say much about the golden spiral without bringing in Fibonacci numbers which provide us with the Golden Ratio. The Fibonacci Number sequence is named after Italian mathematician Leonardo of Pisa, known as Fibonacci. His 1202 book Liber Abaci introduced the sequence to Western European mathematics. No need to worry, however, I will not be giving you a lesson in geometry or the Fibonacci Sequence of numbers! Rather, I am going to post a drawing which demonstrates the relationships found in these naturally occurring spirals. (See diagram below).

Golden Spiral inside box formed by
Fibonacci numbers relationships 
Here is a brief paragraph on how the Golden Spiral is described mathematically along with a bit of information about the Golden Ratio. If any of this information interests you, then, by all means, pursue it farther. 

"In geometry, a golden spiral is a logarithmic spiral whose growth factor is φ, the golden ratio. That is, a golden spiral gets wider (or further from its origin) by a factor of φ for every quarter turn it makes. Approximate logarithmic spirals can occur in nature and golden spirals are one special case of these logarithmic spirals.  [Just to let you know, the particular Camellia featured today is a Japanese cultivar named "Phi" which is the way the name of the Greek letter "φ" is pronounced].
Johannes Kepler (1571–1630) proves that the Golden Ratio is the limit of the ratio of consecutive Fibonacci numbers, and describes the golden ratio as a "precious jewel": "Geometry has two great treasures: one is the Theorem of Pythagoras, and the other the division of a line into extreme and mean ratio; the first we may compare to a measure of gold, the second we may name a precious jewel."  

Why mention all of this? Well, while working on today's featured drawing, I could not help but be aware of how visible the curves, spaces and spirals are in these particular flowers.  So, when I finished the drawing, I made a sepia and white copy on which I quickly traced the Golden Spiral and then tried placing the rectangles formed by the Fibonacci in their proper places.  (See drawing below).

"Camellia japonica with Golden Spiral overlay", by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Of course, I was doing this freehand, without measuring, and so the placement of my lines is far from perfect, but I am able to give you some idea of how these spirals and ratios can be applied in art. (Also see examples below).


As you can see, my drawing does not sit as perfectly as it might within the frame formed. However, while a drawing will appear more pleasing to the eye the closer its arrangement falls somewhere within these patterns, Nature does nothing perfectly and the wise, repsentational-type artist never forgets this.  In real life, you may find a flower whose petals appear to form one perfect spiral after another and then, suddenly, you come across some petals that don't form any shape at all. So, while there may be universal templates, remember that every single thing in creation is unique -- thus there will be naturally occurring variations in every created thing.

Certain sentences and images above were taken from various Internet sources


"Suki Drinking from the Lily Pond", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

I  have no idea why on earth I decided to put Suki into a recent drawing I did of Water Lilies.  A moment of whimsy, I suppose.

I actually did the above drawing a few weeks ago while working on a mandala composed of Water Lilies -- but, then, decided not to use it in the mandala.  So, as I was putting the file away in its proper folder, I suddenly had a thought: "Hey, Sallie, why don't you add Suki to your drawing?  You can show her drinking from the Lily pond."

This idea in itself is rather whimsical as Suki would never drink from a Lily Pond or any kind of pond for that matter.  Even if she were an outdoor cat, I am sure she would continue to do what she has done all her life -- get her "water" from the liquid in her food! However, as you can see, I went ahead and included Suki in the drawing anyway.  Perhaps I was feeling very affectionate towards her at that moment!

To be honest, I have never known a cat that was so uninterested in water. Over the years, I have often tried putting out a water dish for Suki and every time she refuses to go anywhere near it. Instead, it sits on the floor gathering dust.  Obviously, she needs some liquid in her diet and that is probably why she turns up her nose at any food that doesn't contain some sort of gravy. As well, I always top up any gravy the canned food contains with a spoonful of water (what she doesn't know can only help her!).

The only exception to Suki's general attitude towards water seems to be water dripping from the tap in the bathroom sink.  I discovered this years ago when I once failed to turn off the tap completely.  I came back a few minutes later to find Suki sitting on the counter-top, gleefully splashing water everywhere.  Sadly, she wasn't drinking any of it -- just making a big mess for me to clean up.  

Now, of course, she can no longer jump up on the counter due to the arthritis in her hip.  Every so often, though, I turn the bathroom sink tap on just a tiny bit, pick Suki up and place her on the counter, letting her play with the water for a while.  She may not drink any but she does get an extra bit of moisture into her system when she thoroughly grooms her wet fur after her watery play time.

As for me, I have had a to deal with additional pain problems this past week so I am back to experimenting with my medication regimen again.  I did have one medical test this past Friday, but won't know the results until sometime later this week.  Otherwise, things are much the same -- sadly.



"Christ Teaching the Parable of the Fig Tree", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you; unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.” 
Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’ ” Luke 13: 5-9

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Datura and Ganesha

"Mandala Datura with Lotus Blossoms", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Today's posting contains a rather unusual component -- which may be obvious from the title:  Datura and Ganesha

'Datura stramonium bud", drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

The first component is a flowering plant I have featured previously: Datura. This wildflower is known by the common names Jimson Weed or Devil's Snare and is a member of the nightshade family (think poisonous plants). It is now found growing, in one form or another, over most of the temperate zones of the earth, including India. 

The second component, Ganesha, refers to Lord Ganesha, one of the Hindu deities.  Although Hindu deities (Devas and Devis) are represented by separate icons and images, they are, in fact, ultimately aspects of the One Divine Unity.  Lord Ganesha, for example, is known as the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences and the deva of intellect and wisdom. 

When seeking the aid of Lord Ganesha, many worshipers bring Datura blossoms to the altar.  Here, then, is the connection of the these two parts of the title.

The other influence in today's posting is the fact that Joycelyn is a Hindu and recently gave me a small image of Lord Ganesha as a gift "because you're so smart, Sallie"!  This led me to do some research which eventually brought me back to a Datura drawing of mine from 2014 which gave me the idea of today's mandala (these also originated in Hinduism).

Below is a drawing I did of a statue of Lord Ganesha sitting under a quickly-sketched spray of Datura blossoms.  I need to go back and do more detail work on the flowers, but I wanted to go ahead and include it in today's posting as an example of these components combined.

"Lord Ganesha and Indian Datura Blossoms"
 drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Below, you will see a revised version of the drawing I did of Datura back in 2014.  In the revision, I added a few more buds as well as a half-opened blossom in the centre.

Datura has been used in traditional medicine to relieve asthma symptoms and as an analgesic during surgery or bone setting. It is also a powerful hallucinogen, which is used spiritually for the intense visions it produces. However, the tropane alkaloids responsible for both the medicinal and hallucinogenic properties are fatally toxic in only slightly higher amounts than the medicinal dosage. Careless use often results in hospitalizations and deaths.

"Datura Explosion, 2016 Version", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014

Of course, no one should be surprised that I "played around" with the Datura Mandala.  Using my new enhancement software, I tried to create some new constellations in the night sky! 

I showed this "enhanced" image to a dear friend who suggested it might be even more effective if the stylized Lotus blossoms were removed from the corners "for an expansive feeling".  I decided to try her suggestion. You can see both versions below.

"Mandala Datura Enhanced", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

"Mandala Datura Constellations", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Finally, I want to show you the drawing I prepared especially for Joycelyn.  I drew the image of Lord Ganesha holding various symbolic items sitting in an explosion of golden light.  Then I asked Joycelyn whether the image was correct as this was my first time trying to draw something of this sort.  After getting Joycelyn's approval of the drawing, I printed a copy for her as a gift. She said she plans to frame the drawing and put it in the prayer corner she has in her apartment.

"Lord Ganesha, Hindu Deva of Intellect and Wisdom"
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

If you are interested, below is the mythical tale of how Lord Ganesha came into being plus some comments about why the image has one broken tusk.  First, the story:

One day Goddess Parvati was at home on Mt.Kailash preparing for a bath. As she didn’t want to be disturbed, she told Nandi, the Bull belonging to her husband, Shiva, to guard the door and let no one pass. Nandi faithfully took his post, intending to carry out Parvati’s wishes. But, when Shiva came home and naturally wanted to come inside, Nandi had to let him pass, being loyal first to Shiva. Parvati was angry at this slight, but even more than this, at the fact that she had no one as loyal to Herself as Nandi was to Shiva. So, taking the turmeric paste (for bathing) from her body and breathing life into it, she created Ganesha, declaring him to be her own loyal son.
The next time Parvati wished to bathe, she posted Ganesha on guard duty at the door. In due course, Shiva came home, only to find this strange boy telling him he couldn’t enter his own house! Furious, Shiva ordered his army to destroy the boy, but they all failed. This surprised Shiva. Seeing that this was no ordinary boy, the usually peaceful Shiva decided he would have to fight him, and in his divine fury severed Ganesha’s head, killing him instantly.
When Parvati learned of this, she was so enraged and insulted that she decided to destroy the entire Creation. At her call, she summoned all of her ferocious multi-armed forms, the Yoginis arose from her body and threatened to destroy all. Lord Brahma, being the Creator, naturally had his issues with this, and pleaded that she reconsider her drastic plan. She said she would, but only if two conditions were met: one, that Ganesha be brought back to life, and two, that he be forever worshipped before all the other gods. Shiva, having cooled down by this time, agreed to Parvati’s conditions.
He sent Brahma out with orders to bring back the head of the first creature he came across that was lying with its head facing North. Brahma soon returned with the head of a strong and powerful elephant, which Shiva placed onto Ganesha’s body. Breathing new life into him, he declared Ganesha to be his own son as well, and gave him the status of being foremost among the gods, and leader of all the classes of beings.

As for the broken tusk, there are various anecdotes which explain how Ganesha broke off one of his tusks. Devotees sometimes say that his single tusk indicates his ability to overcome all forms of dualism. In India, an elephant with one tusk is sometimes called a "Ganesh". 

Certain paragraphs above were taken from Wikipedia


New photos of my two favourite boys:

The two brothers playing their parts in their own re-enactment of the "Jaws" movie.

While Braden imagines flying a helicopter, Ro' is stacking blocks.

These firemen seem to be rescuing butterflies and spiders as well as people.
Good for them!

While visiting the reptile exhibit in the Botanical Gardens, the lizard container
was an obvious point of interest for the boys.

Braden telling the story of the dangerous rescue of Ms. Spider and Madam Butterfly!

Tiredness brought Ro' to the point of needing a nap.

Here is a boy who already really loves cars.



As I have said previously, Suki can sometimes do amazing things. On the other hand, she can sometimes appear to be pretty dense!
Suki resting her hip after an intense
15-minute encounter with the "red dot"! 

Yes, I am still talking about this blessed laser light, but, please, bear with me. I know that I have already covered this topic quite thoroughly, but, believe me, there has been a new development.

This past holiday Monday (Family Day) even though I had told Suki repeatedly that Joycelyn would not be coming, she did just what she had done the previous Monday:  she stayed awake waiting for Joycelyn until she got so sleepy around 10 a.m. that she finally fell asleep.  Then on Tuesday morning, just as Suki was settling down for her morning siesta, she "heard" Joycelyn in the building and was waiting by the front door even before the elevator stopped on my floor (how do dogs and cats do that?).

All of this is pretty much the same as I reported in last week's posting.  However, this time, Suki suddenly became quite "dog-like" in her behaviour, surprising both Joycelyn and myself. 

No, sooner had Joycelyn arrived, even before she could remove her scarf, hat, gloves, coat and snow boots, Suki began meowing and looking towards the living room where the laser pointer is kept. When this didn't get her what she wanted, she began to butt Joycelyn on the leg with her head and then turn and take a few steps in the direction of the living room.  She would then meow loudly and take a few more steps towards the living room.  Then, when she saw that Joycelyn was still near the coat rack, removing the rest of her winter weather gear, Suki would return to Joycelyn and begin the process all over again.

After about 5 minutes of this dog-like behaviour, Joycelyn, who was now free of all the snowy-day paraphernalia, turned and followed Suki into the living room.  At this point, Suki was practically walking on air and glowing with excitement. She began moving her head from side to side as she watched the floor, waiting for the "red dot" to appear.  Joycelyn picked up the laser pointer, turned it on, and the game was afoot -- as Sherlock Holmes was supposed to have said in a totally different context.

It took between 10 to 15 minutes for the battery to wear down, but for that period of time, Suki was in laser-light-heaven.  She was even running back and forth along the hallway although it was soon obvious that her hip joint was causing her pain.

Once the battery died, Suki sat in the middle of the living room waiting for it to re-appear.  When nothing happened, she began to meow plaintively.  At this point, I started saying "No" in that voice that really means no.  This is one word that Suki appears to understand and so, after a few more minutes, she turned, sadly, and jumped up into her chair.  Sometimes she doesn't give up so easily, but I think her hip was probably really bothering her.  

It will be interesting to observe Suki's behaviour when Joycelyn comes to see us this week on her usual day -- Monday.  Of course, before long, on one of these Mondays or Thursdays, the laser pointer battery will be completely dead ... I do wonder what Suki will do then. 

Actually, I have a suspicion that Suki might end up acting "child-like" in order to get what she wants.  In other words, she just might pester me so much that I will finally reach the point of giving in and purchasing a new laser pointer just to get a bit of peace and quiet for myself. 

As for me...
I am doing better than I was this time last week as my blood pressure is completely back to normal.  As I mentioned last Sunday, a routine doctor's visit revealed that my blood pressure was dangerously high and there was increased swelling in my feet and hands.  My doctor immediately started me on a diuretic, told me to go to emergency if things seemed to be getting worse and gave me an appointment to return to see her the following week.

When I was ushered into my doctor's office this past Thursday, it was obvious that the first thing on the agenda was the taking of my blood pressure.  The cuff was placed securely on my arm and the machine turned on.  I was watching the faces of my doctor and her nurse as we waited for the B/P machine to finish its dastardly procedure.  They could see the readout on the machine which was hidden from me.  When I saw the huge smiles suddenly appear on their faces, I knew immediately that the diuretic had worked.  In fact, the average of all those B/P readings was exactly 120/80! 

I have another medical test scheduled for this coming week. Hopefully, I will receive good news then as well. 



"Icon -- The Transfiguration", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, rev. 2015

Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray. While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem. Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep, but becoming fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” But he did not know what he was saying. While he was still speaking, a cloud came and cast a shadow over them, and they became frightened when they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a Voice that said, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” After the Voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. They fell silent and did not at that time tell anyone what they had seen.  Luke 9:28b-36 

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Mandala Leftovers

"Mandala Tulipa -- Tulip 'Salmon Impression' Enhanced"
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016 

Today's posting includes my remaining efforts to create mandalas using only my own flower drawings. There will be a mandala in next week's posting, but it came about accidentally as I worked on an entirely different kind of drawing. Today, however, please bear with me as I talk a little bit about the types of flower drawings included in the mandalas above  and below.

"Tulipa 'Salmon Impression', 2015", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, Revised 2015

The tulip is a perennial, bulbous plant with showy flowers in the genus Tulipa, which comprises 109 species and belongs to the family Liliaceae. Tuplia's native range extends from Southern Europe to Iran and then from there westward into northwestern China. 

Although tulips are often associated with The Netherlands, commercial cultivation of the flower began in the Ottoman Empire. The word tulip, entered the language by way of French "tulipe". Other sources include tulīpa from Modern Latin and tülbend meaning"muslin" or "gauze" from Ottoman Turkish.

The salmon-rose coloured tulip shown above is one of a number of large tulips developed as a result of a crossing between the Single Late (Darwin and Cottage) Tulips and the Early Fosteriana Tulips.

"Mandala Magnolia -- Magnolia grandiflora, Enhanced"
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Above is my attempt to create a mandala using a Magnolia blossom surrounded by the Magnolia cone (or follicetum) and the dark, green leaves of Magnolia grandiflora.

"Magnolia grandiflora -- Southern Magnolia"
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, Revised 2015

Magnolia grandiflora, commonly known as the southern magnolia, is a tree of the family Magnoliaceae native to the southeastern United States. Its range stretches from Virginia south to central Florida and west to eastern Texas and Oklahoma. Reaching 27.5 m (90 ft) in height, it is a tall, striking evergreen tree with large, dark- green leaves and large, white, fragrant flowers.

Magnolia grandiflora was one of the many species first described by Linnaeus in his Systema Naturae, 1759. The genus name of Magnolia is taken from the name, Pierre Magnol, a 17th century French botanist. Its specific name of grandiflora is derived from the Latin words grandis "big", and flor "flower".

"Mandala Zinnia -- Stylized", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

"Zinnia x hybrida", drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2009
Finally, I created a mandala-type drawing using a very stylized Zinnia.  I was inspired by a drawing I did some years ago of Zinna x hybrida (see image to your right).

Zinnia is a genus of plants of the sunflower tribe within the daisy family. They are native to scrub and dry grassland in an area stretching from the Southwestern United States to South America. Members of the genus are notable for their solitary long-stemmed flowers that come in a variety of bright colors. The genus name honours German botanist, Johann Gottfried Zinn, who died in 1759.

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


Suki wondering what day it is!
Poor, dear Suki...  She has had a most difficult time this past week. Why? Because Joycelyn came to see me on Tuesday rather than her usual Monday time slot.  

This meant that Suki was alert and all primed to play with the "red dot" on Monday morning.  I tried to explain to her that Joycelyn had changed her schedule for the week and would be coming to see us on Tuesday; however, Suki refused to believe me and thus spent most of the morning awake and waiting.  

By about 10:30 a.m., Suki was so tired that she gave up and went to sleep. In fact, she was so exhausted that she slept through lunch time!  I delayed my lunch as well so that she could get a bit more sleep, but by about 12:30 my stomach was complaining so much that I got up and went to the kitchen.  This caused Suki to awaken and soon she was in the kitchen with me begging to be fed.  

When Joycelyn arrived the next morning, Suki was even more confused, but she happily allowed Joycelyn to move that "red dot" enticingly across the floor until the batteries gave out again after about 10 minutes. 

Then, to make matters even worse, Suki was totally unprepared for Joycelyn to arrive to see us on Thursday morning as it had only been two days since her last visit instead of the usual three.  Once again, she enjoyed playing with the "red dot" until the batteries gave out, but all of this has left her very confused.  

Since then, she has been spending more time awake each morning after breakfast than she has been doing in the past.  As I had mentioned previously, she seemed to know which days Joycelyn was coming -- normally Monday and Thursday -- and prepared herself by staying awake after breakfast on those days and waiting for Joycelyn by the front door. Perhaps Suki senses which day it is by the passage of a certain number of light and dark periods ... just a thought.

Now, poor thing, she is all confused and I don't have the heart to tell her that Monday is a holiday (Family Day) so Joycelyn won't be coming back again until Tuesday!  After a second week of confusion, I'm not sure what Suki will be doing come the following Monday when Joycelyn will return to her regular schedule! I hope I won't have to end up taking her to see a cat psychiatrist!

[As an aside, I would just like to mention that Suki is now playing very differently with the laser light.  Rather than chasing after it, she now seems to prefer to have the light moving slowly right in front of her so that she can try to grab it while lying down.  I gather that she has finally decided that the arthritis pain caused by chasing the "red dot" is simply not worth it.]

As for me, I had a rather interesting week with a couple of visits to my doctors.  

The first visit was just for general follow-up; however, while I was being checked over, the doctor discovered that my blood pressure was rather alarmingly high.  So, she brought in the "torture equipment" -- you know, that machine that automatically takes your blood pressure six times and then gives the average on its little screen.  I call it torture equipment because each time the cuff tightens around my arm it feels as though someone is trying to break my arm off.  Then, the cuff stays tightened in that position for what seems like an eternity before the pressure begins to decrease. I really hate that machine.

At any rate, the average of all the BP's taken was still too high and so now I am taking a diuretic.  What fun that is.  As well, I have to return to see the doctor this coming week to have everything re-checked.  I think I will ask her to sedate me before she forces me to undergo the "torture equipment" again!

My second appointment was due to something that I can only assume was a spider bite.  On Thursday morning, I noticed a red mark just above my upper lip on the right side.  Within a few hours my lip was swollen so much that I looked like I had just come from the dentist.  It was difficult for me to speak clearly and when I tried to drink from a cup, I had to hold a towel under my chin to catch the "drips".  In fact, the right side of my face felt a bit swollen and numb and I was also having a bit of trouble swallowing because my throat felt too tight.

Of course, I rushed off to the doctor who, after a thorough examination, declared that other than these obvious symptoms, there seemed to be nothing else wrong.  There were no signs of any kind of neurological deficit and I passed all the strength and reflex tests easily.  So, the only explanation would seem to be a bite of some sort.  Anyway, whatever it is, it is gradually getting better and the swelling is decreasing a bit each day -- so, not to worry.



"The Temptation in the Desert", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’ ” Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’ ” Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’ ” Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.  Luke 4:1-13

Ah, temptation... we are all faced with it every single day of our lives.  How we respond to it, I think, truly reveals the quality of our inner moral being.

What I am referring to has nothing to do with belonging to one religion or another.  Nor am I referring to the temptation to take an extra cookie when you are trying to watch your diet or telling a little fib on occasion to keep from hurting someone's feelings. No, I am talking about the stuff that defines our significant choices -- how we treat others, no matter who they are.

The very best people I have ever known during my lifetime are those who truly do treat others exactly as they, themselves, want to be treated.  Those who always seek to make choices that will cause the least harm to others. Those who truly hope that someday all people will be able to live in harmony and peace and, as a result, always try to make choices that will further that goal. Those who will set aside their own comfort in order to be kind and generous to others.  

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Mandala Nymphaea -- Water Lily

"Mandala Nymphaea -- Water Lily", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Sorry, but I am still in my "create a mandala from flower drawings" mode. Hopefully, for your sake, I will be moving into some new modality fairly soon, but for now I want to show you today's mandala effort in which I combine a Water Lily blossom, a number of Water Lily buds, a circle and the infinity symbol.

I have featured drawings of Water Lilies in several postings over the past seven plus years.  However, just in case you can't recall the details about these fascinating "flowers that float," here are a few details.

Nymphaea (Water Lily) is a genus of aquatic plants in the family Nymphaeaceae. There are about 50 species in the genus. Its original habitat may have been along the Nile and in nearby locations of East Africa but it now can be found in almost any suitable habitat on the planet. 

The common name, shared with some other genera in the same family, is "Water Lily". The generic name, Nymphaea, comes from the Greek term "Νυμφαία", related to "Νύμφη" meaning "nymph". In Greek mythology, the nymphs were supernatural, feminine beings associated with springs of water so the application of the name to these delicately-flowered, aquatic plants is certainly understandable.

"Daylilies, Burgandy",
drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer 

"Calla Lily -- 'Mothers Day' ",
drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer
Despite their name, water-lilies are not related to the true lilies (Liliaceae). 

The name "lily" is applied to a number of plants that are not at all closely related, such as daylilies (see above left) and, my favourite, calla lilies (see right). 

Even though the genus, Nymphaea, includes a water lily known as the Egyptian Lotus, it is not related to the well-known Indian and Chinese lotus of the genus, Nelumbo. These aquatic plants are the true lotus blossoms and, as such, are considered sacred to the followers of Hinduism and Buddhism (see my comments regarding my drawing of the Indian Lotus mandala posted 10 January 2016).  

"Water Lily Blossom and Bud --  Nymphaea -- Pink", drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, rev. 2016

Above is my drawing of a water lily from several years ago, The main elements of today's mandala creation were taken from this drawing.

Below, is today's featured mandala after it had been subjected to my new software.  As I mentioned in a recent posting, I don't think I will be able to resist playing with the software -- so, until I get bored with it, expect to see all sorts of additional sunbursts and starry skies overlaying my drawings! 

"Mandala Nymphaea -- Water Lily -- Enhanced", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Information regarding Nymphaea was taken from various Internet sources.


Suki enjoying the winter sunshine

Well, as I mentioned last Sunday, the batteries in the laser pointer are almost depleted.  

When Joycelyn was here on Thursday, she could only get the laser light to work for a couple of minutes before it began to fade -- much to Suki's dismay, I might add!

So, we discussed whether to get some new batteries and we decided against it.  Even though these watch-type batteries cost quite a bit and the laser pointer requires three of them, that was not our main concern.  Rather, we are both worried about the way Suki, who pushes herself to the limit when chasing that "red dot", is suffering after these play times.  

On Monday (the laser pointer was still working reasonably well), after Suki had madly dashed up and down the length of the hallway several times, we both noticed that she was starting to limp rather badly.  When I touched her hip joint, it was obvious that she was experiencing quite a bit of pain.  I immediately gave her some of the pain medication the vet has prescribed and within a short time, she was walking normally again.

So, even though exercise is good for Suki, too much exercise can be bad.  She will play with her "normal" cat toys at some point during the day, but none of these have the same effect as the light of the laser pointer does.  It almost seems to do something to her brain so that she pushes herself to the point of harm and, even then, still wants to continue to chase that "red dot".  

Now, it will be interesting to see just how long it takes for Suki to realize that the "red dot" won't be coming back -- and then observe what she does about it!

I, on the other hand, continue as usual.  In fact, at this moment, my pain awareness level is lower than it has been for some weeks.  I attribute this to the fact that I have finally worked out a regimen for using my THC capsules effectively.  [For those of you who do not remember, Tetrahydrocannabinol is the main active ingredient in Cannabis (marijuana) and which is now being isolated and put into capsules for use in pain management].  

Anyway, when I first tried using these capsules several months ago, I found that my body seemed to function less well, not better.  So, I actually stopped using them after the first 24 hours as I had made a snap judgement that they simply were not going to work for me.  

Thankfully, after the pain problems increased to the point that I was feeling rather desperate, I decided to give the capsules another try. This time, however, I made the decision to try taking less than the prescribed dose and that seems to have made all the difference. Over the past few weeks, I have started to notice that the pain, while still present, is just a little less often in the forefront of my bodily awareness.

Pain, and the way we individually experience it, is a fascinating topic.  I say this not only because the management of pain takes up such a huge amount of my time and awareness, but also because I have observed such different kinds of pain in my own body over the past 18 to 20 years.  As well, there is the whole area of my awareness of those different kinds of pain depending on what else in my environment is trying to capture my attention.  Then these elements must be combined with my mental and emotional state at any given moment. 

One of these days, I will share some of these insights so you can see if they, in any way, correspond to your own experiences.  For the moment, however, I am just happy that my body is a tiny bit more comfortable than it was a few months ago.



"Icon -- St. Peter: Fisherman and First Pope", drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, rev. 2016

Once, while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake. The fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I I will let down the nets.” When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signalled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” He and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.  Luke 5:1-11

 Is this not the most amazing story?!

Not because of the miraculous catch of fish after the men had fished all day and "caught nothing".  No, that sort of thing could happen for all sorts of reasons -- both logical and illogical.  

Instead, what makes this story so amazing to me is that these hard-working men with families and responsibilities suddenly left everything and followed Christ. These four men -- Peter, Andrew, James and John -- "left everything".  

Without making arrangements, settling accounts, packing a suitcase or saying goodbye, they simply walked off down the road, following this man, this Messiah!


As an addendum, I have always wondered about the families of these men. I mean, we know that some of these guys were married and had families. I can't resist trying to imagine what "Mrs. St. Peter" was thinking when, instead of her husband arriving home with a couple of fish for supper, she is given a basket full of fish while being told by her neighbours that her husband has left town to follow the Messiah!