Sunday, 15 October 2017

Purple/Pink Repeats

"Mirabilis nyctaginea - Four O'Clocks (Wild)", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 rev.

Blog posting of 20 July 2009 (revised):

These wildflowers are one variety of Four O'Clocks -- so called because that is the time of day when they usually start to bloom. Sort of the opposite of morning glories -- a flower I will be discussing later in this posting! 

The proper name for this plant is Mirabilis nyctaginea. Mirabilis means "wonderful" in Latin; while nyctaginea is derived from the Greek and means "night-blooming”. The plant blooms each evening (night) and has a wonderful fragrance. 

While Four O'Clocks are lovely to look at and have a fragrant odour, they also have little black seeds that look like peppercorns and are extremely poisonous.  So, if you find this plant growing in the wild, treat it gently!

One of the more interesting things about this drawing for me is that the photograph, which I used as my "model", was taken just outside of Las Cruces, New Mexico -- a place very dear to my heart. If you know that area of the States at all, you know how unexpected it would be to come upon such lovely, sweet-smelling flowers as wild Four O'Clocks.

"Dodecatheon meadia -- Shooting Stars", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 rev.

Blog posting 17 February 2013 (revised):

Dodecatheon meadia is a species of flowering plant in the family Primulaceae. It is native to an area of mid-North America stretching from the Province of Manitoba down through the American mid-west and south. It grows in woods and prairies and tolerates partial shade. 

Dodecatheon meadia is generally known as the Common Shooting Star, though this name may also be used to refer to other species. This Shooting Star, as well as other varieties, was used medicinally by the Indigenous peoples living in this area of North America. An infusion of the roots was used as a wash for sore eyes. A cooled infusion of leaves was used for eye drops. An infusion of leaves was gargled, especially by children, for cankers. 

The genus name Dodecatheon is derived from the Greek dodeka meaning "twelve" and theoi meaning "gods" -- the twelve gods. The specific name of meadia is in honour of Dr. Richard Mead, 18th century English physician. 

This is one of the most beautiful spring wildflowers on the prairies -- much more beautiful than my drawing would indicate. One of the nature writers has said: "A colony of these plants in bloom is a sight not to be missed." I would like to try drawing these flowers again to see if I can capture a bit more of the elegance! 

Any of you who have more than a nodding acquaintance with wildflowers may notice that the flowers of Dodecatheon meadia resemble, in form, those of the Nightshade family. A commentator says: "This is an example of convergent evolution between plants of different families because of the similarities in the method of pollination."

"Ipomoea purpurea - Morning Glory", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 rev.

I was unable to find the previous blog posting for this image.  The original drawing of Ipomoea purpurea was done back in 2007 or 2008, I believe, and some of those early columns were accidentally deleted.  So, here is the information on this particular Morning Glory from my files.

Ipomoea purpurea is commonly known as the Purple Morning-glory or Common Morning-glory. Ipomoea is the largest genus in the flowering plant family, Convolvulaceae, with over 500 species. It is a large and diverse group with common names including morning-glory, water convolvulus, sweet potato, bindweed, moonflower, etc. 

Like all morning glories the plant entwines itself around structures, growing to a height of 2–3 metres. The leaves are medium-to-dark green and somewhat heart-shaped. The flowers are trumpet-shaped, predominantly purple or white. 

Ipomoea purpurea is native to Mexico and Central America, but it is naturalized throughout the temperate and subtropical regions of the world. Although it is often considered a noxious weed, Ipomoea purpurea is also grown for its beautiful purple or white flowers and has many cultivars. 

The genus name of Ipomoea comes from modern Latin and is derived from the Greek (ips ‘worm’ + homoios ‘like) meaning worm-like, referring to the coiled flower bud. The specific name of purpurea is Latin for the colour purple.

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


"Suki Staring"
(pencil sketch made from photo
taken by J. Gordon, 2017)
Well, this may be a very short column today as neither Suki nor Sallie have very much to report -- not even after two weeks of silence.

Thankfully, Suki continues to appear reasonably healthy and seems content to continue her diet therapy for the hypercalcemia. She will have to have further blood tests in December in order to determine how well this regimen is working so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, Suki continues to behave reasonably well (for a kitty cat, that is!).  I am very grateful that this is the case as I have been too unwell to clean up any extra messes or search for new foods to tempt her finicky appetite. In fact, she seems to know that I am in a lot of pain most of the time as she no longer jumps up onto my lap.  Instead, every so often, she comes up to the side of the recliner so that I am able to easily scratch her head and ears until my fingers begin to hurt too much and I have to stop.

I have seen the various doctors involved in my treatment and, while they are all very sympathetic, they really don't have much to offer me.  At this time, their suggestions include back surgery (something I do not intend to do), gentle physio (I'm waiting to see if I will be approved for physio in my home) or higher doses of my various pain medications.  

As for the various options that I referred to in my posting of 1 October 2017, I am still considering some of those choices for my future living arrangements.  However, there are several "pieces of the puzzle" which are still missing at this time, such as the state of Joycelyn's health.  She is having to have a number of medical investigations at the moment and until she gets the results, I really am uncertain as to how much longer she will be able to care for me.  Hopefully, she will be fine and her companionship and caregiving skills can continue for the foreseeable future.  If not...

Presently, my evenings and nights are now sometimes so pain filled that I think the only solution is to get my doctors to put me into a medically-induced coma (if only they would!).  Then the morning comes again and, for a few hours, the pain is bearable and I feel that just maybe I can continue living on my own with Suki for company and Joycelyn for companionship and caregiving.  We will just have to wait and see how things unfold.

In spite of the pain, I do have plans to visit my favourite young lads today (this explains why I am posting this so early).  A dear friend has offered to drive me to their home and back. This will be far less costly than a taxi and much more comfortable with my various pillows for support and the freedom to adjust the seat however it best suits my back and legs. 

Hopefully, when I post again two weeks from now, I will have some new photos of the boys (and me) to show you.  It really depends on just how rambunctious Braden and Ro are feeling while I am visiting.  If they need more supervision than usual because they are trying to outdo each other in showing off for me, then the parents might not have time to think about taking photos!

During the two weeks between now and my next posting, I hope that your lives will be filled with all those things that bring you true happiness and joy.  And, as always, I wish you peace.


Sunday, 1 October 2017

Wildflower Repeats

"Anemone nemorosa - Wood anemone", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 rev.

From my blog posting dated 10 June 2010 (seriously revised): 

The proper name of this plant is Anemone nemorosa of the Family, Ranunculaceae. It flowers early in the spring and, while it can be found in many gardens throughout North America, it is actually native to Europe. There is a similar plant, Anemone quinquefolia, which is native to North American, but it normally has only 5 “petals” instead of six. 

As with all Anemones, A. nemorosa has no true petals. What appear to be petals are really sepals which have assumed the colouring and characteristics of petals. These sepals are normally white in colour although, occasionally, the colouring is pale pink or blue. The dark, green leaves are divided into three segments and the flowers, produced on short stems, are held above the foliage with one flower per stem. Sadly, this gentle-looking plant is bitter to the taste as well as being poisonous.

In sunshine, the flower expands fully, but at the approach of night, it closes and droops its head so that dew may not settle on it and injure it. The same thing occurs when it rains. Country folk in the past used to say that the fairies were what actually caused the plant to close at night and in the rain as it gave the wee sprites a "tent" to keep them warm and dry. 

The genus name, Anemone, is taken from the Greek and means “wind”. The specific name, nemorosa, is derived from the Latin and means “of the woods” or “woodland”.

"Gomphocarpus physocarpus (Asclepias physocarpa) - Balloon Plant"
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 rev.

From my blog posting dated 6 March 2013 (revised): 

Gomphocarpus physocarpus is a species of milkweed. This plant, commonly known as the Balloon Plant, is native to southeast Africa. In 2001 its name was changed from Asclepias physocarpa to Gomphocarpus physocarpus to reflect that it is in the family of African milkweeds and not the North American variety. The name "balloon plant" is an allusion to the swelling, bladder-like seed pods. 

Gomphocarpus physocarpus is a perennial herb, that can grow to over six feet. The plant blooms in warm months. It grows on roadside banks, at elevations of 2800 to 5000 feet above sea level. The flowers are small, with white hoods and about 1 cm across. The leaves are light green, shaped like a lance and 3 to 4 inches long. 

Gomphocarpus physocarpus is widely used in traditional medicine in South Africa. The roots are used to treat stomach ache. Leaves are dried and ground into a powder that is taken as snuff for headaches. The milky latex is used to treat warts. Seeds are blown away from the pods as a charm to placate the ancestors. The stems are used for fibre. These treatments seem a bit risky, however, as this plant is poisonous if ingested. 

The genus name of Gomphocarpus is derived from the Greek gomphos meaning “a club” and karpos meaning “fruit”. The species epithet of physocarpus is derived from the Greek physa meaning “bladder” and karpos meaning “fruit”, referring to the inflated, bladder-like fruits.

"Mertensia virginica - Virginia Bluebells", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 rev.

From my blog posting dated 21 August 2009: 

The drawing above is of "Virginia Bluebells" a member of the Forget-Me-Not family.

The above text is all I had to say about this plant back in a 2009 posting.  However, I would now like to add a bit more information...

Mertensia virginica, commonly called Virginia bluebells, is a native North American wildflower. It occurs throughout the southern U.S. and much of southern Canada in moist, rich woods and river floodplains. 

M. virginia is an erect, clump-forming perennial which grows to between 1 - 2' in height and features loose, terminal clusters of pendulous, trumpet-shaped, sky-blue flowers which bloom in early spring. The flower-buds are pink and flowers emerge with a pinkish cast before turning blue. The leaves are smooth, oval and medium-green in colour. Foliage dies to the ground by mid-summer as the plant goes dormant. 

The genus name, mertensia, honours Franz Carl Mertens (1764-1831), professor of botany at Bremen University. The specific epithet, virginica, means “of Virginia”.

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


"Now what could Suki be thinking about?"
(photo by Jaleh G., 2017)

Suki and I have had several visitors during the past two weeks and one of them, my friend, Jaleh, took a lovely shot of Suki perched on the arm of the sofa.  It really looks as though she is contemplating something rather serious.  

Personally, I don't believe she was thinking about food as Suki had only had her lunch about an hour before the photo was taken.  As well, she had been getting lots of attention from both Jaleh and myself so she was unlikely to be thinking that she was neglected.  

No, Suki seems to be contemplating something much more serious -- like how to manage to catch one of those pigeons she sees from the window, always tormenting her by sitting out on the balcony railing just out of reach!

Anyway, Suki has once again been reasonably well-behaved during the 14 days since my last posting.  She continues to awaken me too early for my liking (6 a.m.) although, for some unknown reason, yesterday morning (Saturday) she let me sleep until 7.

Of course, her sleep, as well as mine, has been very disturbed over the past five days.  Let me explain...

About 4 a.m. on Tuesday morning, I was awakened by severe pain in my lower back on the left side and all down my left leg.  When I attempted to get up and see if that would ease the pain, I found, to my dismay, that my left leg was not only painful but was also weaker than normal.  Meanwhile, I continued to have these burning pains shooting down my leg from my back.  As a consequence, I have had to increase all my pain medications including those for neuropathic pain.  

During these past days, it has been impossible to get a full night's sleep.  While I find that I eventually fall asleep from sheer exhaustion, after a few hours, I am awakened by the pain which never seems to go away.  Even now, as I write this, I am having to try to ignore the pain which persists no matter whether I am sitting, standing or lying down.

As well, I now have to use my walker for every activity.  Prior to Monday, I could usually manage at home by holding onto various pieces of furniture and could even go short distances without holding onto anything.  Now, however, I find that I can barely walk even with the walker as the least little movement in the wrong direction causes such awful pain as well as leg weakness.  I fear this means a return to using a wheelchair and I do find that idea to be rather depressing.

I did see a couple of my doctors during the past week (these were appointments that had been scheduled some time previously) and, although they both checked on my back and leg, they could offer nothing in the way of a "quick fix".  Each doctor said that this latest difficulty is most likely just the continuing progression of the disease I have in my spinal cord.  I have always been told that the prognosis for this disease is gradual worsening, with or without treatment, and this certainly seems to be the case.

So, as you can imagine, I am not at all certain what the future holds in store for me.  It is so difficult now to perform even the simplest tasks which leaves me wondering how much longer I can manage with Joycelyn just coming in three days a week.  In fact, I am uncertain as to whether I will be able to continue my computer drawing or even this blog for very much longer as even sitting in my special computer chair is painful.  I am also having to seriously think about whether it is time for me to consider the possibility of moving into some sort of full-care facility or, perhaps, taking some other action.

Meanwhile, I hope to be able to post again in two week's time.  If , for any reason, that is not going to happen, then I will certain post a note here to that effect.  Whatever the decision, I will not leave without saying goodbye.

On a happier note, we are celebrating Thanksgiving Day here in Canada on Monday, October 9th.  So "Happy Thanksgiving" to all my fellow Canadians.  

To all those who read this blog posting, I wish loads of happiness and joy for you and your dear ones in the days ahead.

Peace be with you all.

"Autumn's End", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 rev.


Sunday, 17 September 2017

White Liliaceae Repeats

"Prosartes maculata - Spotted Mandarin", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 rev.

From Blog posting 24 Jan 2013 (revised): 

Disporum maculatum, also known as the Spotted Mandarin or Nodding Mandarin, is a relatively rare wildflower in the Lily Family. They can be occasionally spotted in their native, deep-woods habitat from southern Ontario down to northeastern Alabama. 

The small spots on the "petals" give them the maculatum part of their Latin name. When disporum if placed in front, it translates into something like "organization of spots" -- at least that is the conclusion I come to using my fractured Latin! Literally, disporum, from the Greek, is a combination of dis (two) and spora (seeds) while maculatum is Latin for “spotted.” 

Even though the Spotted, or Nodding, Mandarin can grow up to 60 cm in height, they are rarely seen unless you are looking for them. One of the main reasons for this is the fact that as the thin stem grows taller, the flower heads tend to bend over towards the ground so that only the leaves are showing (thus the common name of “Nodding Mandarin”). 

Flowers are bell-shaped while maturing, and, at maturity, they appear to be star-shaped. The blossoms are creamy white in colour with numerous brownish-purple spots on each petal. The dark green leaves can reach 10 cm in length. Disporum maculatum produces white berries which eventually turn yellow.

"Calochortus nuttallii -- Sego Lily", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 rev.

From blog of 18 June 2010 (revised): 

Calochortus nuttallii, commonly known as the Sego Lily, is a member of the Lily family, Liliaceae. This plant has a fascinating history in the U.S., as reported in the State of Utah's description of Calochortus nuttallii, regarding its selection as their state flower. They write, in part, that between 1840 and 1851, food became very scarce in Utah due to a crop-devouring plague of crickets. Many “families were put on rations, and during this time they learned to dig for and to eat the soft, bulbous root of the Sego Lily. The memory of this use, quite as much as the natural beauty of the flower, caused it to be selected in after years by the Legislature as the floral emblem of the State.” 

I assume that these settlers learned about this life-saving food source from observing the Indigenous people who were already living in the area. They had been collecting the Sego Lily bulbs for hundreds of years before the settlers arrived ("sego" was the Shoshonean name for the plant) and used them roasted, boiled or made into a porridge. These days the bulbs are mostly the food of pocket gophers and similar creatures. 

The Sego Lily, a summer flower, has white, lilac, or yellow flowers and grows six to eight inches high on open grass and sage rangelands in the area of North America known as the Great Basin. 

A cautionary note about this plant for those who may be considering foraging for wild food. Be careful to distinguish Calochortus nuttallii, the Sego Lily, from the somewhat similar, early-spring-flowering Toxicoscordion venenosum, also known as Poison Sego or Death Camas, which is native to the same general geographic areas.  Please notice very carefully the common names of T. venenosum!

The genus name of Calochortus comes from the Greek words kalo, (beautiful) and chortos (grass). The specific name of nuttallii is derived from the name of the English botanist, Thomas Nuttall, (1786-1859).

"Tulipa turkestanica - Turkestan Tulip", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 rev.

Blog posting 3 Feb 2013 (revised): 

Tulipa turkestanica (Turkestan Tulip) is a species of tulip native to central Asia (Turkestan, Iran and northwest China) in the Lily Family, Liliaceae

The flowers of Tulipa turkestanica are creamy white to pinkish-red, with a yellow or orange centre. Each plant produces from 1 to 12 star-shaped, fragrant flowers in early spring. The grey-green leaves, up to 15 cm in length, clasp each stem. 

The genus name of Tulipa is derived from the Turkish word, tülbent, which means “turban”. The specific name of turkestanica comes from the name of the country, Turkistan.

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


Celebrating the End of Summer

The boys enjoying the final weekend of Summer before returning to Senior Kindergarten and nursery school.

Big brother in policeman's cap

Little brother in policeman's cap

Brothers Together
(not sure what the facial expression are all about; however, I find them quite charming!) 

"Just follow me in your car, little brother. I'll show you the way!"

Ro riding on the merry-go-round
(Mom's got her arms around him just in case he decides to jump off while the horses are still moving! I understand that he is quite fearless.)

Braden rides his merry-go-round horse and dreams, perhaps, of galloping away, through the valleys and over the hills, to fight the dragon and save the kingdom!



"Suki Looking Pensive"
(Drawing, using Sketch software, by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer)
Photo by A. Porobic
Well, I'm afraid that I really don't have anything much to say about the two of us today. Thankfully, it has been a very quiet two weeks for Suki and me.

Suki has been reasonably well behaved and not gotten into any mischief (as far as I know).  As well, she has been exhibiting more signs of energetic playfulness which makes me think she is feeling better than she has for a while.  I am, of course, very happy about this development and hope it continues for a long time.

As for me, I have had a couple of medical appointments, but they were routine follow-up appointments.  I do have a couple of appointments scheduled during the coming two weeks; however,these are fairly routine as well -- like the "once every-three-months" appointment with the Pain Clinic at the hospital.

Thankfully, at the moment, none of my medical issues seem to have gotten worse and all my medications seem to be working.  I know this bit of "remission" will not last, but I intend to enjoy the situation for as long as it does.

During the two weeks ahead (until I post again), we will see the celebration of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.  So, I will take this opportunity to wish my Jewish friends (and readers) happy new year and best wishes as they celebrate these special days.

As well, the next two weeks will see the official end of summer and the beginning of autumn (Autumn Equinox, September 22nd). Plus, especially for those of us here in Ontario, we will see the opening of the Invictus Games by Prince Harry on the 23rd of September. Very exciting.  (

I will end today's posting with a photo of Suki.  It was taken recently by my friend, A. Porobic, and shows Suki settled comfortably between my legs as I lean back in my recliner. Evidently, this is her favourite place to sleep now!

Here's hoping that we all experience lots of happy peacefulness during the next two weeks.

Suki settles down for her afternoon nap!


Sunday, 3 September 2017

Orange and Blue Repeats

"Ornithogalum dubium - Orange Star", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 rev.

From my blog posting of 5 June 2016:

Ornithogalum dubium, commonly known as Orange Star or Star of Bethlehem, is a species of flowering plant which is native to South Africa (Cape Province). It blooms from early spring until mid-summer (August to December) on mountain slopes and flats, growing in stony clay soil. 

This long-blooming, showy plant has beautiful large star-shaped or cup-shaped orange flowers. Originally, it was assigned to the family Liliaceae. Now you will find it assigned to either Asparagaceae or Hyacinthaceae. There continues to be controversy about the Family to which it rightly belongs. 

The bulbs of all Ornithogalum are considered to be poisonous as they contain cholestane glycosides and calcium oxalate.

Ornithogalum is derived from the Greek words 'ornis' meaning bird and 'gala' meaning milk. The Greeks referred to something that seemed fantastical and rare as being “bird’s milk”. 

The species name, dubium, is derived from the Latin word dubiosus, meaning doubtful. The story is told, whether truth or legend I do not know, that the author of this species, the Dutch naturalist, Martinus Houttuyn, may have been dubious and doubtful about certain aspects of the plant when he described it – wondering if it should be placed under a different classification!

"Punica granatum -- Pomegranate", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 rev.

From my blog posting of 5 July 2010:

Pomegranate, or, properly, Punica granatum is one of only two member of the family, Punicaceae. The only other species in this family is found on the Island of Socotra (an archipelago of four islands in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Yemen). 

Pomegranate plants have been with us as far back as time itself which means that the plant has a fascinating history. It is native to an area stretching from Iran to the Himalayas in northern India and has been cultivated since ancient times throughout the Mediterranean region of Asia, Africa and Europe. The fruit was used then as it is today. Punica granatum is praised in the Jewish scriptures (Old Testament), in the Babylonian Talmud and in many other ancient sources. 

The genus name, Punica, is derived from a contraction of the Latin, punicum malum, which is the proper Latin name for the Pomegranate plant. The species name, granatum is also taken from the Latin and indicates the “many seeds” of the Pomegranate fruit. 

Below are a couple of other recent drawing using elements of my earlier works:

"Polemonium 'Bressingham Purple' - Jacob's Ladder", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 rev.

"Nelumbo nucifera - Indian Lotus Blossoms", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 
2017 rev.

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


"Suki Awake and Unhappy
(after hearing me on the phone with the vet)!"
[coloured pencil drawing using Sketch software]
Well, getting Suki to the vet for her blood work was a wee bit easier than I had thought it would be -- but that was simply because Joycelyn was here to help me!  

As soon as the carrying case appeared from the cupboard, Suki made a mad dash for the back of the bedroom closet. Normally, as you know, I would not violate her "safe place"; however, I really needed to get Suki to the vet.  So, with Joycelyn blocking the closet door as well as holding the hanging clothes off my head, I managed to grope my way to the back of the closet and pull Suki and her box to the front.  She was quite disgusted by my behaviour but once she realized that she was trapped, she stopped resisting and allowed me to gently push her into the case.  Once inside, she gave a long, mournful-sounding meow and then settled down to await the "horrors" ahead.

As it turned out, it took two tries before the vet was able to get the needle into Suki's small veins; however, once the blood was drawn, it was all over.  I paid my bill and we took Suki back home where I gave her an early lunch since she had been fasting for the previous 12 or so hours.  By the time she had eaten her fill and had a bit of water, she was ready to settle down for a good nap.  I thought she might be a bit distant with me -- the way she gets when I have displeased her in some way -- but, happily, she was as friendly as ever.

Best of all, the vet phoned me this week with the good news that Suki's calcium level is now back in the normal range.  This means the new diet is doing what it is supposed to do.  The bad news, according to the vet, is that sooner or later the diet treatment will stop working and then her calcium levels will start to rise again. I could worry about that, but, for the moment, I have decided to simply enjoy the good news and deal with the bad when it happens.

As for me, I continue to be about the same.  I have had several medical visits since I last posted, but they were just the usual follow-up type of appointments.  I do have an appointment on the Tuesday after Labour Day Monday; however, I will simply be seeing my family doctor again.

One of my dear friends came to visit this past week so that we could catch up on all our news. While she was here, she took a number of photos of Suki on her phone so, hopefully, she will be sending me one or two to use in future columns.

Greetings to all my readers, acquaintances and friends who are celebrating Eid al-Fitr today.

Wishing all of you the very best today, tomorrow (Labour Day) and each and every day ahead.
Until next time... 


Sunday, 20 August 2017

Lady's-Slipper, Rose and Other Repeats

"Cypripedium calceolus - Lady's-slipper Orchid", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 rev.

From blog posting of November 8, 2015 (revised): 

Cypripedium calceolus, commonly known as Lady's-Slipper- Orchid, is a member of the Family, Orchidaceae. Other common names include Lady's Slipper, Slipper Orchid and Venus' Shoes. At one time it had a widespread distribution in Britain, almost every European country, including Russia, and the Far East. 

Typically found in open woodlands, its population declined over much of the European part of its range due to the shrinking of its habitat caused, particularly, by human clearance of the woodlands followed by the introduction of sheep. 

At present, it is a protected species in a number of countries. For example, in Great Britain, it was formerly widespread across northern England; however, by the late 20th century it had declined to just a single known plant. A reintroduction program for the Lady’s-Slipper-Orchid has led to a population of hundreds of plants in recent years.

The genus name of Cypripedium comes from two Greek words: Kypris (Venus) and podilon (sandal or slipper). The specific name of calceolus is taken from the Latin and means slipper.

"Rosa blanda - Meadow Rose", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 rev.

Rosa blanda, commonly known as the meadow, wild or prairie rose, is a species of rose native to North America. Among roses, it comes closest to being a "thornless" rose, with just a few thorns at the base. The meadow rose occurs as a colony-forming shrub growing to 1 meter or more in height and occurring naturally in prairies and meadows. The roses are quite variable in appearance and can sometimes be confused with Rosa arkansana or Rosa carolina, the two prairie rose species. 

The species name comes from the Latin word blandus, meaning "flattering, caressing, alluring, tempting", probably referring to the beauty of the flowers. Blooming in early summer, the flowers are borne singly or in flower clusters from lateral buds. The flowers have five large petals which are roughly heart shaped. These are coloured pink to pinkish-white with a pleasant fragrance. The dark green leaves are compound with coarse teeth. The hips (fruits) are bright red and rich in vitamin C. 

Rosa blanda grows naturally in meadows, prairies and fields occurs on dry hillsides, roadsides, fence rows, in either sandy or rocky soil. The range of natural growth is from Quebec to Ontario, south to Kansas, and east to Missouri and Ohio. The “wild rose” of western Canada’s “wild rose country” is related.

"Tropaeolum majus - Garden Nasturtiums"drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 rev.

"Poeticus recurvus -- Pheasant's-Eye Narcissus", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 rev.

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


Here are a few new photos of "my boys" having a busy day on a summer weekend...

Having an "after-breakfast" lie-in watching a children's film
(this gives mom and dad a chance to get some house and garden work done!)

Celebrating Canada on a cool and rainy summer weekend

"Hey, big brother, I think a storm is coming!"

After another busy day, time to watch a TV show about sharks!



"I will not go to the vet.  I will not go to 
the vet.  I will not go to the vet."  (The
power of positive thinking.)
How do cats and dogs always learn to recognize the word "vet"? They may not appear to understand a lot, especially the word "no", but when it comes to the word "vet", they cannot hide the fact that they understand as they immediately begin to take evasive action!

So, if you receive an email with a petition attached asking for your signature, please read it carefully -- especially if it is from my email address and the subject heading is "People Against Taking Suki to the Vet".

I mean, I wouldn't put it past her to do something like that now that she has heard me talking on the telephone to the vet -- making an appointment for more blood to be taken from a vein in her leg on August 24th!  Poor kitty -- somehow, I don't think her petition or her positive thinking will work.  She will be going to the dreaded vet this coming Thursday.

We have got to see if this new food regimen has finally done the trick and lowered her calcium levels.  If we can't find some way to accomplish this, then poor Suki will be at great risk of developing kidney stones and/or kidney disease.  

Any of you who have been long-time followers will know that the cat who lived with me for many year prior to Suki's arrival (miz k.d.) died from kidney disease and I really don't want to go through that again. So, hopefully, this new regimen will have done the trick and I will be able to stop worrying.

Suki, by the way, appears to be feeling just fine these days, but you really can't go by that as cats are very good at hiding pain -- especially when the word "vet" is mentioned. Of course, if the current treatment is working, she would, quite naturally, be feeling a lot better. This next blood test should reveal the facts and I hope, whatever the test reveals, it will news that both Suki and I want to hear!

As for me, I continue to struggle with my ongoing issues. Sadly, however, every time I think things have gotten stable, something new crops up or something old gets worse. I suppose it is all part of getting old which, as you have probably heard, ain't for the faint of heart.

Actually, even though I continue to try to be positive about my various issues, it is becoming more difficult of late.  I think my eyes have a lot to do with it as they seem to be getting worse in spite of all the drops I am now using.  I suppose this means that I had better make another appointment with the ophthalmologist so that she can try to determine what is happening. Hopefully, it will be something easily fixed.

My next posting will be on the Sunday before Labour Day Monday, September 4th.  At the moment, here in Ontario, we are in the midst of our annual, end-of-summer celebration known as the Canadian National Exhibition.  This event, known locally as "The Ex", has been occurring here since 1879 when it was opened as a venue for displaying the latest in agriculture and technology.  Last year, over 1.5 million visitors attended the CNE.  I used to attend regularly back when I was able to walk with ease.  However, once I was required to use either a walker or a wheelchair, it all became too difficult so now I just enjoy seeing bits and pieces of the various events on the local news. 

Say "Goodbye to Summer" at the Canadian National Exhibition!  [Main entrance to the
CNE, the Princes' Gate, as the staff prepare for the arrival of the crowds who will suddenly appear on opening day.]

Hope you are all able to enjoy these final days of summer. Whatever the case may be, I wish you the very best in the days ahead.


Sunday, 6 August 2017

Lilium Repeats

"Lilium bulbiferum -- Orange Lily", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 revision

From the blog posting of August 26, 2012:

Lilium bulbiferum -- commonly known as Orange Lily, Fire Lily or Tiger Lily -- is a herbaceous perennial plant with underground bulbs, belonging to the genus Lilium of the Liliaceae family. The specific name of bulbiferum is from the Latin, meaning "bearing bulbs" which refers to the secondary bulbs on the stem. 

Perennial lilies are native to the continental climate of the steppes, the Mediterranean countries, south-east Europe and central Asia. However, they have "escaped" from gardens in countries with similar climates worldwide and can now be said to be established in many other places. Evidently, according to people who know these things, this is one of the easiest lilies to grow. 

In Japan, it is cultivated in large quantities for the edible bulb which is described as tasting something like a sweet potato!

"Lilium martagon -- Martagon Lily", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 revision

From blog posting of October 17, 2012:

Lilium martagon (Martagon or Turk's-cap lily) is a true species of lily. It is of the Family, Liliaceae, and the genus Lilium. It has a widespread native region extending from eastern France east through northern Asia to Mongolia and Korea.  However, just like the Orange Lily, they have "escaped" from gardens in countries with similar climates worldwide and can now be said to be established in many other places.  

The name, Turk's-cap, comes from the characteristic reflexed shape of the petals. The specific epithet, martagon, is a Turkish word which means turban or cap.

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


"Why do people have to bother me
when I am trying to sleep?"
Good news!  Suki suddenly decided that this new food I had purchased for her was not so very bad after all. Of course, it may simply have been hunger which drove her back to this particular wet food.  

Whatever the cause, I am very grateful that she changed her mind. I am now back to feeding her at the regular times and she still has this new dry food to snack on between meals. Interestingly, she is also now drinking more water than ever. For the first time since she came to live with me all those years ago, she actually uses her water bowl several times a day.  Wonders never cease!

Otherwise, she seems to be feeling fine and staying slim.  I will still have to take her back to the vet at the end of August for another blood test. Hopefully, the results will reveal that the calcium level in her blood has decreased.  This would mean that these new, expensive foods are finally doing the trick.

As for me, I continue to have the same issues which I continue to deal with in the usual ways.  I am, thankfully, no worse.  I haven't had any medical appointments since my last posting; although, I do have a couple coming up before this new month is over.  In fact, I think I have one scheduled for the week ahead.

Of course, here in Ontario, tomorrow, Monday, is a holiday.  It is now listed simply as a "Civic Holiday", but, originally, it was known in Toronto as Simcoe Day in honour of John Graves Simcoe, Upper Canada's (as the area of what is now Ontario was known at that time) first lieutenant governor and the man who initiated the abolition of slavery in Canada. The Act went into effect in July of 1793 and remained in effect until August 24, 1833, when Britain's Slavery Abolition Act put an end to slavery in most of the empire. Toronto City Council established the civic holiday in honour of Simcoe in 1869.  There are only 5 provinces in which the first Monday of August is a holiday and Ontario just happens to be one of them.  

As usual on statutory holidays, I will stay at home and enjoy my air conditioning!  I am too old and have too much pain to be trying to sit on picnic-table benches or lawn chairs, swatting at mosquitoes while trying not to inhale any fumes from the barbecuing!

There is one special event that occurs during this long weekend every year, which I would attend -- something I did attend when I still young and active -- and that is the Caribana Parade.  The celebration called Caribana has been regular part of the Toronto experience for 50 years now. It begins in late July and ends on the 1st Monday of August. Caribana celebrates the peoples, music and cultures of all the Caribbean nations including Guyana.  Below is a photo from the Parade taken from Caribana Facebook page. 

So, whatever you are doing in the weeks ahead, holidays or no holidays, I hope you will be happy and safe.  Remember, please be kind to one another, to the earth and to all its creatures.

"Fawn Fast Asleep", drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011


Sunday, 23 July 2017

Lewisia and Lewisiopsis

"Lewisia cotyledon -- Cliff Maids", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017

Lewisia cotyledon is a species of flowering plant in the Purslane (Portulacaceae) family known by the common name of Cliff Maids. It is native to southern Oregon and northern California, where it grows in a rocky, sub-alpine, mountain habitat. 

It is an evergreen perennial growing from a thick taproot. It produces a basal rosette of many thick, fleshy oval- or spoon-shaped leaves up to 9 cm (4 in) long. The flowers have 7 to 13 petals. These petals may be whitish with pinkish-orange striping, solid orange to yellow or pale pink with darker veining. 

Lewisia cotyledon was among 178 species of plants that were first collected by Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis and Clark expedition in the early 1800s during their quest for the Northwest Passage. Thus the genus name of Lewisia in honour of Meriwether Lewis. The species name of cotyledon comes from the Greek, “kotulēdōn,” meaning a cup-shaped cavity,

"Lewisiopsis tweedyi -- Tweedy's Bitterroot", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017

Lewisiopsis tweedyi is the only species in the genus, Lewisiopsis. The species, formerly known as Lewisia tweedyi, is now classified in the Montiaceae family instead of the Portulacaceae family. The plant is known by the common names of Tweedy's Bitterroot and Tweedy's Lewisia. It is native to western North America, particularly in certain areas of British Columbia and adjacent north-central Washington State. 

Lewisiopsis tweedyi, a perennial, is typically found at elevations of 1,500 to 4,500 feet (460 to 1,370 m). The plants produce blossoms in May, June or July, depending on elevation. The blossoms normally have eight to twelve broad petals which are cream-coloured at the base, becoming lavender, apricot or pink near the tips with 12 to 25 stamens. It has numerous, evergreen, smooth, succulent leaves. 

The genus name of Lewisiopsis retains the original genus name honouring Capt. Merriweather Lewis, who - with William Clark - made the first transcontinental expedition across North America (1804-1806) and brought back samples of this plant. I am not sure exactly what Lewisiopsis is supposed to mean. I do know that “opsis” is a Greek word meaning “appearance” so, perhaps, Lewisiopsis means “appearing to be Lewisia” but isn't. Just a guess. 

The species name of tweedyi is taken from the name of Frank Tweedy, an American, 19th-century, topographic engineer who collected specimens for the US Geological Survey of the States of Montana, Idaho and Washington.

Portions of the above text are taken from various Internet sources.


Suki refusing to eat her wet food
Life has not been easy for Suki (nor for the person with whom she lives!) this past week.  

On Monday morning, she suddenly refused to eat any of her vet-prescribed, wet food.  I have been aware for some time that she really didn't like it all that much, but, at least, she has been willing to eat it -- until this week.  

I wasted 4 (very expensive) cans of this food before I finally gave up. For the next four days, she only ate the vet-prescribed, dry food, grudgingly, complaining morning, noon and night about not having the food she wanted.  I felt that she was waiting to see if finally, in desperation, I would go out and get her some cans of Fancy Feast Turkey with Gravy!  

Then, on Thursday evening, as I was preparing for bed, I suddenly had an idea.  "Why not stop off at the pet food store close to my house on my way home from the doctor's visit on Friday morning?" So, there and then I decided to get the taxi driver to simply drop me off on the corner near my building, just across the street from the store, I wanted to see if the folks who run the store could help me help Suki.

So, on Friday morning, after I had seen the doctor (it was just a follow-up visit), I arranged things as described above.  Fortunately, when I entered the store there were just a few other customers and so I was able to get a nice young woman to assist me right away.  I described the type of food Suki needed, showed her one of the cans of the food prescribed by the vet and, then, asked her if she had any suggestions.  She proceeded to show me various possibilities, all of which I rejected. Finally, she brought down a case off one of the top shelves which I thought just might work.

After buying a case (that is the only way they sell stuff) and packing it securely in my walker basket, I set off for home with much fear and trembling.  By the time I reached my front door, it was just about 12 noon and there was Suki waiting for me.  She began immediately to try to shepherd me into the kitchen.  I allowed myself to be "shepherded" (which seemed to please Suki greatly) and quickly set about preparing a small dish of this new food.

I placed the bowl on the floor and watched in amazement as Suki gobbled up every last bite.  She then drank a bit of water, gave one of those full-body stretches expressing absolute contentment that cats are so famous for and then, after jumping into her favourite chair, set about giving herself a thorough bath.

There have been six more feeding times since that first one and, so far, she continues to appear to really enjoy this new food.  I know how fickle cats can be so I am just keeping my fingers crossed that this will turn out to be a food that Suki continues to like for years -- just like she did with the Fancy Feast.

As for me, I had quite an exciting outing on July 15th: I had a visit with Braden and Ro and their parents!  You may recall that we had to cancel the visit we had planned for sometime back in May. Then on Tuesday, the 11th, I received an email from the boys' father saying that Saturday morning would be fine for a visit if I was able to make it. I immediately wrote back and said that I was definitely available (even if I had had an appointment, I would have cancelled it in order to visit with the family and see the boys).

So early Saturday morning, I set off in a taxi to take the 40 minute drive to their house where we had a wonderful visit.  I stayed until around noon and then set off, by taxi once again, for Toronto.  This time the normally 40 minute drive took almost two hours!  First of all, there was a big accident on the other side of the highway -- which meant, of course, that all the folks in the four lanes on our side had to slow down and take a look!  

Then, there was the fact that the Toronto Indy was going strong at the CNE grounds that weekend (I could hear the roar of the cars underneath us as we travelled the major "overpass" highway across the bottom of the city). This meant that large portions of the 4-lane major artery along the lake shore was closed off and made into part of the speedway.  In turn, this meant that all those cars that would normally be travelling from one part of the downtown to another using local access streets now had to use the major highway on which the taxi driver and I were travelling.

Fortunately, I had a very pleasant driver so we were able to chat during the times traffic slowed to a crawl.  Finally, I reached my home where I found a very concerned kitty waiting for me by my front door -- after all, I was almost two hours late in feeding her! After taking care of Suki and changing into my house clothes, I collapsed into my recliner where I stayed until supper time. Yes, I was tired and in pain, but I had had a wonderful visit so that made any discomfort easy to take.

Big brother "reading" to younger brother -- one of those
precious quiet moments that parents of young children value so highly!

These next two weeks (before I post again) should be fairly quiet. I have no appointments scheduled and there are no visits planned with anyone -- even my friend, Sharon, has gone off to visit family for a week or so.  Of course, as we all know, just because nothing is planned doesn't mean that interesting things won't occur.  However, these are now the dog days of summer which are, in my opinion, meant to be "hazy, lazy days" (as the song says) -- so an empty appointment book for this time of year is not a bad thing!

Writing the above paragraph made me stop and think about the meaning behind the expression "dog days of summer".  So, I went and checked the details, for accuracy, online.  Here is what one web site says: 
The "dog days of summer" actually refers to an astronomical event. From mid-July to late-August, the star, Sirius, the Dog Star, Canis major, in the Orion constellation (which is represented by a dog in ancient Greek and Roman mythology) appears to rise and set with the sun. As the brightest star in the night sky, Sirius was already associated with light and heat. Its perceived proximity to the sun during the summertime only added to this reputation. 

So, keep cool.  
Hope the next two weeks are full of good things for you all.