Sunday, 27 March 2016

Springtime

"Double Snowdrop -- Galanthus nivalis f. pleniflorus", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016



A sure sign of spring, Galanthus nivalis, the Common Snowdrop as it’s normally called, is the best-known and most widespread of the 20 species in the genus, Galanthus -- family, Amaryllidaceae. Snowdrops are among the first bulbs to bloom as winter ends and spring begins and can form impressive carpets of white in areas where they are native or have been naturalized.

Galanthus nivalis is widely grown in gardens, particularly in northern Europe, and is widely naturalised in woodlands in the regions where it is grown. It is, actually, native to a large area of Europe, from Spain in the west, eastwards to Poland and the Ukraine. It is naturalized in parts of North America from Newfoundland to North Carolina.

Snowdrops contain an active substance called galantamine (or galanthamine) which can be helpful in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, though it is not a cure.

Today's featured drawing is that of an early cultivar, the common double snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis f. pleniflorus 'Flore Pleno', which was in appearance by 1703 when it was illustrated in The Duchess of Beaufort's Book. This cultivar spread rapidly throughout northern Europe. It is very similar to the common snowdrop except it has extra flower petals often marked with light green.
"Common Snowdrop --
Galanthus nivalis"
, drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

The generic name, Galanthus, comes from the Greek gala (milk) and anthos (flower) – probably referring to the milk-white colour of the flower. The epithet, nivalis, comes from the Latin and means "of the snow", referring either to the fact that a field full of snowdrops looks as though it has a light carpeting of snow or the fact, once again, of the flower’s snow-white colour. 

As mentioned previously, the snowdrops featured in the drawing above are cultivars known as Double Snowdrops. Their proper name contains the word, pleniflorus, which is a combination of two Latin words and means “an abundance of petals”.

There is a German legend which says that when the gods created snow, they gave it no colour. Instead, they gave Snow the task of visiting the flowers of the earth to get one of them to share some colour with Snow. Snow respectfully asked flower after flower, but they all refused to give up any of their colours. Finally, Snow visited the gentle snowdrop. Seeing that the snowdrop was a kind and generous soul, Snow decided to make a deal. In exchange for sharing her colour, Snow agreed to allow the snowdrop to bloom first every spring. The delicate snowdrop agreed and cheerfully blooms amid the snow each spring reminding us all that springtime is here. Thus, this delicate bloom came to symbolize hope and rebirth -- those very qualities associated with the Easter season. 

Finally, here is a "petal wheel" (or mandala) I designed featuring one of my drawings of snowdrop blossoms as the center-point of each "petal".


"Snowdrop Wheel", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016









Portions of the above text were taken from various Internet sources, including Wikipedia.
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SUKI AND SALLIE




Suki fervently praying to Bast, Goddess of
cats and bringer of protection, joy, dance,
music, family and love.
Well, Suki continues to mope about quite a bit as well as spending a lot of time in the morning watching the front door. She is obviously missing her playmate, Joycelyn.

It is interesting to me how things have changed over the past few years.  Up until 2013, Joycelyn came once each week to help me with the cleaning, laundry, etc. At that time, she had been coming to help me once a week for the past 15 years.  For many of those years, as some of you may recall, my wonderful cat, miz k.d.. was still alive. Suki was not born until early 2008 and did not come to live with me until the beginning of March, 2009.  By then, miz k.d. had died from kidney failure.  So, from 2009 until autumn 2013, Suki saw Joycelyn for a few hours a day one day a week.  During those 5 years, Suki basically ignored Joycelyn.

Then somewhere in late 2013, my health deteriorated rapidly and it became obvious that if I wanted to stay in my own home, then I was going to have to arrange for a lot more assistance.  I discussed this with Joycelyn and she was able to arrange her work schedule so that she could come to my home more frequently and could also do all my shopping, cooking and running errands while continuing to do the cleaning, laundry and so on.  

We were several months into our new regimen when I became aware that Suki was paying a lot more attention to Joycelyn than she had previously.  I mentioned this to Joycelyn who then took the first steps in the process of learning which games Suki liked to play.  Once they begin playing together whenever Joycelyn made her visits to care for me, Suki became much more interested in what Joycelyn was doing. Suki would often follow Joycelyn around as though hoping she would stop her work and play with her a bit more.

Then, last year at Christmas, when Joycelyn brought Suki a laser pointer as a gift, everything changed once again.  From the very first time Joycelyn used that laser pointer and showed Suki that tantalizing red dot, Suki became Joycelyn's new, best friend.

As I have told you previously, this was when Suki began waiting, watching and listening by the front door on those days when she somehow knew that Joycelyn was supposed to visit.  Then, as soon as Joycelyn arrived, Suki would begin meowing at her and trying to lead her towards the table where the laser pointer is kept.  Poor Joycelyn barely had time to take off her coat and shoes and give me a quick hug before she felt compelled to begin the "chase the red dot" game with Suki.

They usually play with that thing until Joycelyn's arm gets tired and she has to tell Suki that playtime is finished.  Suki, of course, continues to be always hopeful during the remaining time that Joycelyn is here. I know this to be true even though Suki appears to have given up and settled down for a nap. I can tell from the position and occasional movement of her ears that she is not really sleeping the way she will once Joycelyn has actually left the premises!

So, I was thinking about how Suki, if she really was able to pray, would undoubtedly pray to the Egyptian goddess, Bast, who is not only the "goddess of cats", but who, in the earlier centuries of Egypt's history, had been represented as an actual cat and not the cat woman shown in the drawing above.  

These thoughts led me to do a quick sketch of a Suki-type cat at "prayer", praying for the one thing I know she is really missing -- Joycelyn and the "red dot".

Of course, I am missing Joycelyn very much also.  There is still a full week to go before she returns; meanwhile, we are muddling through as best we can with other arrangements.

Thankfully, I have not gotten any worse during these last few weeks.  I continue to have problems at night when the pain either awakens me or keeps me from sleeping at all.  However, this would be occurring whether Joycelyn was here or not.

I was supposed to have a medical appointment this past Thursday, but I ended up cancelling as the weather was quite bad with snow and freezing rain predicted. I try not to ever go out anymore whenever the sidewalks are reported to be icy.  I have seen people with walkers like mine lose their footing when the wheels of the walker suddenly begin sliding on the icy surface. I have no desire to take a tumble -- especially now that winter is actually over and the cold weather this past week was just an early spring, freakish-type storm.

I do have a doctor's appointment this week. I don't expect any problems as today's weather report predicts that the temperature will remain spring-like for the entire week.  Also, this spring-like weather will include lots of "April showers" even though it is still March! Thankfully, rain is much safer for walking than icy sidewalks.




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EASTER SUNDAY





"Icon -- Christ is Risen, Alleluia", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, rev. 2016




Gospel for the Mass of Easter Day:

On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.
 John 20:1-9



Happy Easter greetings to you all from Suki and Sallie.


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