Sunday, 10 June 2018

Convolvulus Tricolour

"Convolvulus Tricolour - Dwarf Morning Glory" drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2018 rev.

I must confess that I am cheating just a bit with today's featured drawing.  As you know, I am supposed to be featuring drawings of yellow/white flowers exclusively at the present time; however, as is evident above, there's a lot more blue in these flowers than yellow and/or white.  Hopefully, you will forgive the large amount of blue in these lovely flowers and enjoy the drawing anyway.


Convolvulus is a genus of about 200 species of flowering plants in the bindweed family, Convolvulaceae. Common names include bindweed and morning glory, both names shared with other closely related genera. They are annual or perennial vines as well as a few species of woody shrubs. The leaves are spirally arranged, and the flowers trumpet-shaped, mostly white or pink, but blue, violet, purple or yellow are present in some species. 

Many of the species of Convolvulus are problematic weeds, which can swamp other more valuable plants by climbing over them, but some are also deliberately grown for their attractive flowers. Those of you who possess my 2018 Flower Calendar will note the similarities between the flower featured for the month of June (Convolvulus arvensis or Field Bindweed) and today's drawing.

Convolvulus tricolour, commonly known as dwarf morning glory is a member of the bindweed family. It is commonly called dwarf morning glory because of the similarity of its tri-colored flowers to those of the morning glory (Ipomoea tricolor). C. tricolour is a plant with solitary long-stalked flowers. The flower is a tricoloured, funnel-shaped bloom about three centimeters wide, blue with a white and a yellow centre. The leaves are rather small, dark green, narrow and pointed. 

Concolculus tricolour is commonly found on cultivated land, dry open habitats, sandy places and roadsides and is native to the Mediterranean Basin. In Spain it can be found growing profusely in the area of Costa del Sol. It has become a popular garden plant in any area that provides summer soil warmed to at least 18 to 20 degrees Celsius. 

The genus name, Convolvulus, comes from the Latin word convolvo, convolvere, meaning to twine around. The specific epithet, tricolour, obviously refers to the three-colours of these flowers: white, yellow and blue. 

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


The last weekend of May (Memorial Day Weekend for those in the U.S.) saw the boys and their parents (along with family members and friends) participating in a Cystic Fibrosis Walkathon.  Their group, known as Rònàn's Warriors, raised $2,700 for supportive care and research.  Congratulations to them all!

The brothers standing in front of Rònàn's marker at the
Cystic Fibrosis Walkathon, 2018



Well, at least she said "please"!

The past two weeks have provided Suki with a fortnight of rest and relaxation.  Her meals have been served on time, her sand box has been cleaned soon after each use and there have been no "monsters" preventing her from getting her preferred 16 or so hours of sleep each day!

I am glad that Suki has had this period of R and R as she will soon be having to make another trip to the vet.  On our last visit to the cat hospital, the vet discovered that Suki has another bad tooth which is causing her a bit pain and is in danger of becoming infected.  Obviously, the tooth needs to be removed which means that Suki will have to be sedated.  Unfortunately for her, being sedated requires an overnight stay at the veterinary clinic.  

Poor Suki.  As you may recall from my comments in this column several years ago when Suki had another tooth removed, she would barely deign to "speak" to me when I brought her home after her overnight stay in the vet's recovery room.  It took several days of  solicitous behaviour on my part before she returned to her normal, aloof self.

As for when this tooth extraction might occur, I am currently considering some date in mid-July.  I will certainly keep you informed.


 As for me, I have only had one bit of excitement over the past two weeks and that was the visit with my dear friend whom I had not seen for about six months.  Thanks to the chauffeuring assistance of another dear friend, we were able to meet, have lunch together and catch up on a lot of news and gossip.

You may recall my mentioning the plan to visit "the boys" as well; however, unfortunately, this visit had to be called off due to various family problems.  We are now hoping to reschedule the visit for sometime near the end of June.  

Otherwise, the past two weeks have been very quiet ones for me as well as Suki.  I have spent a lot of time reading books, as usual, and occasionally watching re-runs of British TV mystery series.  Sadly, my time of no medical appointments is about to end with upcoming appointments with my family doctor, the dentist and the ophthalmologist.

Before I post again, North America will be celebrating Fathers Day (next Sunday) and the northern hemisphere will be experiencing the Summer Solstice on the 21st of June.  So, Happy Fathers Day to all those fathers who read this blog and Happy Summer Solstice to all of us in the northern hemisphere.  May each and every one of us experience much joy and contentment in the days ahead.


Sunday, 27 May 2018

Yucca glauca

"Yucca glauca - Soapweed Yucca," drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2018

This first offering of my "yellow/white phase" is more white than yellow although the Soapweed Yucca flowers do have a yellowish tinge.  This is a plant I remember fondly from the days when I had the good fortune many years ago to live in the beautifully, scenic State of New Mexico. 

Yucca glauca is a species of perennial evergreen plant adapted to dry growth conditions. It is commonly known as soapweed, soapweed yucca and Spanish bayonet. It is a member of the family, Asparagaceae. Yucca glauca is native to central North America. It can be found growing from the Canadian prairie Provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan in Canada, south through the Great Plains to the States of Texas and New Mexico in the U.S. 

Soapweed Yucca produces large sprays of sword-shaped leaves that grow densely in whorls from the ground. The flower head is usually large, often exceeding 3 feet in height and 2 feet in width and consists of a single upright stem with radiating clusters of creamy white or pale yellow blooms, sometimes tinged with purple. Each blossom is around 2 inches long and tulip-shaped with six pointed, downward-facing petals with only the occasional blossom  opening fully and showing its face. 

Soapweed yucca was a traditional Native American medical plant. Among the Zuni people, the seed pods were boiled and used for food. Leaves were made into brushes and used for decorating pottery, ceremonial masks, altars and other objects. Leaves were also soaked in water to soften them and made into rope by knotting them together. Dried leaves were split, plaited and made into water-carrying head pads. Leaves were also used for making mats, cincture pads and other articles. The peeled roots were pounded, made into suds and used for washing the head, wool garments and blankets.  Some of these practices are still in use today.  

In 1927, the legislature of New Mexico adopted the choice of the state's schoolchildren, who selected the yucca flower as the official state flower. Yucca is prolific in New Mexico and, while no species was specifically named, it is accepted that the official flower is either Yucca elata (see photo below)

Yucca elata

or Yucca glauca. The early Spanish invaders, who took note of the large and impressive flower heads, called them "Lamparas de Dios" or "the Lamps of God" rather than trying to learn one of the Native names for this plant. 

Yuccas and yucca moths are the classic example of a plant and animal obligate symbiotic relationship where each organism requires the other to survive. Yucca moths are the only insects that can successfully pollinate yucca flowers and the developing yucca fruits are the only larval food source for yucca moths. 

The genus name, Yucca, was mistakenly derived from the name for a totally different plant. Early reports of the North American species were confused with the cassava (Manihot esculenta) plant found in the Caribbean. Consequently, Linnaeus mistakenly derived the generic name from the Taíno word for the latter, yuca (spelled with a single "c"). The specific name, glauca, comes from the Latin and means “greenish-grey” in colour – perhaps referring to the colour of the sharply-pointed leaves of this plant. 

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


These two have been busy as usual including trips to the local park and to Ripley's Aquarium in downtown Toronto.  Below are the photos that prove it!

Tunnelling at the Park

Sliding at the Park

On the train into Toronto

Wow!  As Little Red Riding Hood said:  "What big teeth you have grandma!"

Brothers marvelling at all the fish



Suki expresses uncertainty over whether she should
be wearing a red ribbon ... "Perhaps," she thinks, "it would
be more fun to tear it off and chew on it!"
Poor Suki has had a bit of a rough time since my last posting. Her prescription pain medication became a problem. Let me explain. 

As occurred the previous time she was on this particular pain medication, after about 10 to 12 weeks, she started having periods of vomiting until finally being unable to keep any food down at all.

So, after 24 hours of watching Suki vomit every bit of food she tried to eat, I made the decision to stop giving her the pain medication.  Within 12 hours, Suki was again eating normally and keeping it all down.

This all occurred last weekend (our long weekend here in Canada) so I wasn't able to talk with the vet until Tuesday.  After explaining things to her, she agreed that I had done the right thing and that I should, for now, not try to give her any more pain meds.  

The vet did suggest that if Suki's pain becomes too problematic in the near future, I might try giving her a much lower dose of the medication. I'm not really sure that I want to try that; however, I will just wait and see just how much loss of mobility occurs due to Suki's ongoing issues with pain due to arthritis. 

Since being off the pain meds, Suki appears to be managing fairly well although I am very careful not to touch areas such as the base of her spine or the hip joints.  She is still able, after thinking about it for 30 seconds or so, to jump up onto her favourite chair. As always, she continues to enjoy having me scratch around her ears, her jaw and her chin.

As for me, I continue to be about the same -- "structurally disabled but internally sound" as my family doctor puts it.

Over the past months, I have been trying to bring my use of pain medications down as much as possible.  As a result, I am now taking far fewer pills each day and still managing reasonably well.  Unfortunately, over the past week, I have again started being awakened by pain in my feet and legs at night which means that I might need to return to taking just a bit more of the pain medication prescribed for me.  I plan to contact my doctor tomorrow and see what she recommends. 

Leaving the unpleasant subject of pain management aside (both for Suki and myself), let me tell you a bit about the two trips I have planned over the next seven days.

On Wednesday, I will be chauffeured by a dear friend to a home just outside the Greater Toronto Area where we will collect another dear friend of mine -- a friend whom I haven't seen for at least six months due to the difficulties we both now have with travelling.  Once the pickup is completed, the three of us will drive to a nearby shopping mall where we can sit and visit over coffees and a light lunch for a couple of hours.  By that time, I will have reached my limit for visiting and my dear, chauffeuring friend will drive me back home (thankfully, my friend lives in the City of Toronto as well so she doesn't have far to go after dropping me off).

Next Sunday, this same, dear friend will chauffeur me to the home of my precious boys and their very special parents.  Once there, I will get to visit with the children until time for brunch at which point I will finally get to visit with the parents (they settle the children down with their food and a good video so that the adults have a bit of time to talk among themselves!).  After about two and half hours (my absolute visiting limit), my wonderful chauffeur will drive me back to my home in Toronto.

You can easily see how fortunate I am to have such wonderful friends in my life.  Perhaps, during these visits, someone in the group will take some photos on their phones and send them to me so that I can use them in my next posting.  The problem is that once we all start talking, no one seems to remember to take any photos.  I might try tying Suki's red ribbon around my wrist as a reminder -- that is, if she will allow me to borrow it!

This posting occurs in the middle of the U.S. Memorial Day long weekend and I hope that all my American family and friends are safely enjoying their holiday.  As you know, we celebrated our long weekend in Canada last weekend.  Now there won't be another long weekend until July.

Meanwhile, I hope you are all doing well, staying safe and enjoying our summer weather.  I particularly hope that my family and friends in Florida and Alabama stay safe during whatever Hurricane Alberto throws at them over the next few days! 



Sunday, 13 May 2018


"Helenium x Rubinzwerg - Sneezeweed", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2018

Today's posting will be the final one of my "red phase" drawings.  My next posting, on May 27th, will feature the first of my "yellow/white phase".


Helenium x Rubinzwerg, commonly known as Sneezeweed is native to North and Central America. This well-known hybrid is a member of the family, Asteraceae.  

Sneezeweed is a clump-forming perennial which produces large, red, daisy-like flowers with central, intricate yellow/brown balls. Rubinzwerg Sneezeweed will grow to be about 28 inches tall at maturity with a flower spread of about 24 inches. The upright stems have slender, slightly-toothed leaves of medium green. The flowers are particularly attractive to butterflies and bees during the summer months. 

Most Heleniums are hybrids of Helenium autumnale (Common Sneezeweed) or Helenium bigelovii (Bigelow’s Sneezeweed). All Helenium are commonly known as Sneezeweed due to the ancient use of their dried leaves in making a form of snuff, inhaled to help sneezing thereby, as was commonly believed at the time, ridding the body of evil spirits. 

The genus name, Helenium, is taken from the ancient legend which tells that the first Helenium flowers sprang from the ground, watered by the tears of Helen of Troy. I think that the cultivar identifier, Rubinzwerg, comes from the name of its German "creator"; however, I was unable to confirm this.

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


Suki Thinking about Her
Upcoming Appointment
with the Vet
Poor Suki has to go to the vet this coming week.  No, nothing new has occurred that requires her to receive urgent medical attention -- rather, it is time for more blood work.  The vet wants to check once again on the hypercalcemia and, as well, she wants to see how Suki's kidneys are handling the use of long-term pain medication.

On Thursday, Joycelyn and I will be taking a taxi from my place to the veterinary clinic with Suki in her carrying case.  Thankfully, Suki doesn't run and hide when she sees the case come out of the closet.  Rather, she seems to accept the inevitable, allowing me to put her in the case with little resistance.  She cries, pitifully, for a few moments and then settles down to await her fate.

The worst part of the whole ordeal will not be the trip to the vet nor the needle in her vein.  No, the very worst part will be the fact that she will have to be fasting from bedtime the night before until her 10 a.m. appointment.  I have taken Suki in for enough fasting blood work now to know just how much she suffers from not being able to have her breakfast -- and how much she will make me suffer as well for not providing breakfast as usual! 

Hopefully, we will have good news from the vet once the results of the tests are available. 

As for me, I am doing as well as possible.  Thankfully, no new medical problems have occurred nor have the chronic diseases I live with gotten appreciably worst during the past two weeks.

I have been trying to arrange another visit with the boys and their parents (you know who I mean from previous postings); however, trying to arrange a visit with a young, busy family is not easy.  After numerous attempts to find a date that suits us all, it now appears that a visit will take place on Sunday, June 3rd.  

Today is Mothers Day so let me wish all of you mothers who read this a very happy day.  Of course, most women are mothers of one kind or another whether they are mothering their own children or those of others.  As well, philosophically, women mother all sorts of creatures other than human children and, in some cases, even the earth itself.

Before I post again, we in Canada will be celebrating our long weekend in May (Monday, the 21st, is Victoria Day).  As well, my next posting will be on the Sunday in the middle of the long weekend in the U.S. (Memorial Day).  I hope all of you who are able to be out enjoying these holidays with family and friends will stay safe -- especially on the water and on the highways.  


Sunday, 29 April 2018

Canadian Columbine

"Aquilegia canadensis -- Canadian Columbine", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2018

Aquilegia canadensis, commonly known as Canadian or Canada columbine, is an perennial native to woodland and rocky slopes in eastern and mid-western North America (Canada and the US). In Canada, its range extends from Nova Scotia to Saskatchewan. 

Canadian Columbine produces drooping, bell-like, 1-2", red and yellow flowers with 5 distinctive red spurs, yellow-limbed petals and a mass of bushy yellow stamens. The round end of the spur contains nectar, which is sought by butterflies and hummingbirds. Aquilegia canadensis may grow to a height of 90 cm (35 in). The leaves are lobed and grouped in 3s, growing from the base and off the flowering stems. These are somewhat suggestive of the leaves of meadow rue. It readily hybridizes with other species in the genus Aquilegia

Indigenous North Americans used various parts of Canadian columbine in herbal remedies for ailments such as headache, sore throat, fever, rash caused by poison ivy, stomatitis, kidney/urinary problems and heart problems. Indigenous North American men also rubbed crushed seeds of these plants on their hands as a love charm. 

It should be noted, however, that Canadian columbine contains a cyanogenic glycoside, which releases poisonous hydrogen cyanide when the plant is damaged. Contact with the sap may irritate the skin. 

The genus name, Aquilegia, comes from the Latin word for eagle (aquila) in reference to the flower’s five spurs which purportedly resemble an eagle’s talon. The species epithet, canadensis, means of Canada.

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


A Very Sad Suki with images from Yonge Street Memorial in the background

Suki and I are both feeling very sad as this new week begins.  Tomorrow it will be one week since a young man, driving a rental van, drove into lunch time crowds along Toronto's famous Yonge Street and ended up killing 10 and injuring 16 (5 of whom remain in critical condition).  

So, I won't be trying to write any funny or newsy stories today in my usual way -- my heart just wouldn't be in it.

As we contemplate this and all the other similar tragedies going on in our world, let us try to be kinder, gentler and more forgiving of others.  Apparently, this young man who chose to kill and maim did so, mainly, because he blamed women (and successful men) for his unhappiness and sexual frustration.  

If only we humans were able to really understand that blaming others to the point of hatred and murder accomplishes nothing except our own self destruction.  Even if we don't go so far as to actually carry out our hateful and murderous fantasies, we are still left bitter and dysfunctional -- losing whatever chances we might have had for making our lives better.

This event also reminds me, once again, how important it is to always try to part each day from those we love with kind words and actions.  We simply cannot know, for certain, if we will ever meet again.

Be safe.


Sunday, 15 April 2018

Cardinal Flower

"Lobelia cardinalis - Cardinal Flower", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2018

Lobelia cardinalis, commonly known as Cardinal Flower, is a species of flowering plant in the bellflower family, Campanulaceae. It is native to the Americas from southeastern Canada south through the eastern and southwestern United States, down thru Mexico and Central America to northern Colombia. 

It is a perennial, herbaceous plant that grows up to 4 ft. tall and is found in wet places, along stream banks and in swamps. The dark, green leaves are long and alternate. The flowers are usually vibrant red, deeply five-lobed. Like other Lobelia, this plant displays the characteristic "lip" petal near the opening of the flower and the "milky" liquid the plant excretes. It was introduced to Europe in the mid-1620s, where the name cardinal flower was in use by 1629, likely due to the similarity of the flower's colour to the vesture that Cardinals wear in the Roman Catholic Church. 

The Zuni people used this plant as an ingredient of "schumaakwe cakes" and used it externally for rheumatism and swelling. The Penobscot people smoked the dried leaves as a substitute for tobacco. It may also have been chewed. 

As a member of the genus Lobelia, it is considered to be potentially toxic. Symptoms of ingestion of large quantities include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, salivation, exhaustion and weakness, dilation of pupils, convulsions, and coma. The plant contains a number of toxic alkaloids including lobelamine and lobeline. 

The genus name, Lobelia, honours Matthias de l'Obel (1538-1616), French physician and botanist, who, with Pierre Pena, wrote Stirpium Adversaria Nova (1570) which detailed a new plant classification system based upon leaves. The specific name, cardinalis, means scarlet or cardinal red.

Much of the above text was taken from Wikipedia and other Internet sources.


These two young men, who are so very special to me, have been having a rather busy time over these past weeks -- and here are the photos to prove it.

Decorating Easter eggs...

(and here's the finished product -- with mom's help, of course)

...working on their piano duet...

...improving their karate skills...

...enjoying the Maple Sugar Festival...

...and celebrating St. Patrick's Day!



Suki Enjoying a Tiny Bit of Spring Sunshine

Good news -- Suki seems to be feeling much better than she was when I posted back on April 1st.  I am still uncertain as to why she went off her food for a few days, but, thankfully, she is now eating normally again.

Along with the return of her appetite, there is also a renewal of her normal energy levels.  Once again she is enjoying hiding behind things and then jumping out at me as I pass by as well as playing with her favourite toys.

Perhaps she was just feeling a bit depressed for a few days.  If feeling low for a time can happen to us human animals, I don't see why it can't happen to other animal species as well.  Interestingly, I heard about a woman with a depressed Doberman for whom the vet prescribed Prozac!  Personally, I think that is taking things just a bit too far, but what do I know.

I also have good news -- when I visited the ophthalmologist last week (after suffering with those dastardly drops for the previous two weeks), she discovered that my eye pressure is now back in the almost normal range.  This means that I am once again using only my original drops for the glaucoma and am no longer having to suffer with the additional (and very painful) drops.  She wants to see me again in three months in order to make certain that the pressure is staying down.  

Otherwise, there is nothing new to report.  I did have one other medical appointment this past week, but it was just a follow-up appointment with my family doctor.  

My next appointments are all occurring in the middle of May by which time, I am hoping, I will be able to stop wearing my heavy winter coat.  Yes, we are continuing to have unseasonably cool temperatures up here which makes me a bit envious of all my family and friends in the southern U.S.  Ah, well, I am still grateful to be living in Canada -- cold weather and all.

Speaking of weather, I do hope that all of those affected this weekend by the ice storm (in my area) and the freezing rain in areas in the U.S. will be free from harm.  Hopefully, none of us will be losing electrical power as today's ice and freezing rain weigh down those electrical wires.  Stay safe!

While I'm not aware of any special holidays occurring in the next two weeks, let me just say that if you are celebrating something special, I wish you the very best.


Sunday, 1 April 2018

Pinkroot and Fire Pink

"Spigelia marilandica -- Pinkroot", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2018

In this posting, I want to describe two different North American wildflowers --  both of which are largely red in colour.  Interestingly, their common names both contain the word "pink" although there is really nothing very pink about either of them!  The first one is commonly called either Pinkroot or Indian Pink (I prefer not to use the word "Indian" so I will refer to it as Pinkroot) while the second is known commonly as Fire Pink (it can often be found growing in the woods soon after a forest fire has passed through).

Now, let me describe, in more detail, these two interesting wildflowers.


Spigelia marilandica, or Pinkroot, is a member of the Loganiaceae family. Woodland Pinkroot is a clump-forming perennial which normally occurs in moist woods and streambanks in the southeastern part of the United States. However, with gradually warming temperatures over the past number of years, it can now be found, occasionally, as far north as southern Michigan or southern Ontario. 

Spigelia marilandica features one-sided cymes (a flower cluster with a central stem bearing a single terminal flower) of upward facing, trumpet-shaped, red flowers atop stiff stems which may grow up to 18" in height. Each flower is yellow inside and flares at the top to form five pointed lobes (a yellow star). The flowers begin blooming in June and have no noticeable floral scent. The leaves dark to medium green on top and light green underneath. They can grow up to 4" in length. 

Pinkroot is one of the most strikingly beautiful of North America’s native perennials. They are a favourite of butterflies and hummingbirds. 

As their season ends, the Pinkroot flowers are replaced by 2-celled seed capsules. At the end of the summer, these capsules split open to explosively discharge their seeds. 

The genus name, Spigelia, honours Adrian van der Spiegel, 17th century Belgian professor of anatomy. The specific name, marilandica, means “of Maryland” (USA) probably because that was one of the first places where these flowers were recorded and described (by Europeans).

"Silene virginica - Fire Pink", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2018

Silene virginica, or Fire Pink, is a wildflower in the family, Caryophyllaceae. It is known for its distinctive and brilliantly-red flowers. Fire pink grows in open woods and rocky deciduous slopes in eastern North America, ranging as far north as extreme southern Ontario. It is protected as a state-endangered species in Wisconsin and Florida, and as a state-threatened species in Michigan. 

Each flower of Silene virginica is approximately five centimeters in diameter and composed of five notched, brilliant red petals which extend into a long tube. This small, short-lived perennial has dark-green, lance-shaped leaves. 

Although Silene virginica is generally referred to as Fire Pink, another common name is Catchfly. It was probably given this name due to the sticky nature of the stems and leaves. Small insects may become trapped against the tacky foliage. As well, the broken stems of Fire Pink produce a foamy, sticky sap. 

Fire Pink begins blooming in late spring and continues blooming throughout the summer. Fire pink's principal pollinator is the Ruby-throated Hummingbird which is attracted by the flowers bright red petals and sugary nectar. 

The genus name, Silene, is probably taken from the Greek word “sialon” meaning saliva, referring to the foamy “sap” of this plant, or possibly from the name “Silenus” who was the foster father of Bacchus who is sometimes depicted covered in a foamy substance. The species name, virginica, is taken from the name of the State of Virginia and probably refers to the place where Europeans first officially described this plant.

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


Suki resting in her favourite chair

Poor Suki hasn't been feeling very well these past couple of weeks.  

She doesn't really seem to be sick, but she does seem to be a bit more lethargic.  As well, she is no longer exhibiting her normal appetite although she does continue to beg for her wet food at the usual times each day.  It's the dry food (so necessary for her low-calcium diet regimen) that she is now only nibbling on, occasionally, during the nighttime hours.

Perhaps it all has something to do with her daily dose of pain medication -- although, she only has one dose at noon each day just prior to eating her lunch -- and this dose of medication does not seem to affect her desire to eat her lunchtime helping of wet food.  Of course, this daily dose of pain medication, while easing her joint discomfort, could, obviously, account for her apparent lethargy.

Most likely, she has "gone off" the dry food prescribed by the vet.  If so, this could be a big problem for two reasons.  Firstly, she needs this extremely high-fibre, dry food to help control the hypercalcimea.  Secondly, we are almost finished with the big bag of this very expensive dry food and, so, I will have to purchase a new bag this coming week -- and if Suki has "gone off" this particular food, as I suspect may be the case, I could be wasting all that money.  

I am keeping a close watch on her and if she doesn't perk up a bit a few more days, I will telephone the vet and see what she thinks.  How often I have wished that the animals in my life could speak and tell me exactly how they are feeling and the nature of any unpleasant symptoms.  

You know, a number of the indigenous peoples of North America shared a belief that there was a time in mankind's earliest prehistory when we and all the creatures could speak to one another.  According to the old stories, this ability was lost for many reasons -- especially once mankind got such ideas as "domesticating" other creatures and making them into servants or begin killing other creatures without first communing with the animal and asking permission to take its life so that the hunter and his family might live. 

Anyway, back to Suki.  I realize that she, like me, could simply be suffering from "structural disability" (as my doctor calls it) plus old age.  Hmm, that sounds familiar!  Whatever happens, I will certainly be telling you all about it when I post again in two week's time.  Let's hope it will be good news.


As for me, I am, thankfully, coming to the end of this two-week period during which I have had to use these additional eye drops that are causing me such grief.  I am hoping that when I see the ophthalmologist on Tuesday, she will find that my eye pressure in the left eye is now much lower and this will lead her to say that I no longer need these additional drops.  Should she try to tell me that I need to continue to use them, I will have to say that I can't do it as they simply cause me too much pain.  Not only do they cause me actual pain, but they irritate my eye so much that it makes it very difficult for me to read my beloved e-books!  I will let you know what happens. 

Otherwise, these past two weeks have been very quiet ones for me.  I have had my usual visits and phone calls from friends.  As well, Joycelyn as been here on her regular days making certain that I, and my apartment, are kept clean and that my pantry and freezer are well stocked with supplies and delicious meals.

As today is Easter Sunday, I want to wish all those who are celebrating today a very Happy Easter.  Next Sunday, April 8th, all my Christian Orthodox friends will be celebrating their Easter so my good wishes go out to them.  Happy Passover greetings to all my Jewish friends as well.

On a lighter note, tomorrow is Dyngus Day (also spelled Dingus). This is a interesting Polish holiday custom which remains very popular in Poland and in Polish communities across the world. After the long, penitential season of Lent, Dyngus Day is a day of fun. It is always celebrated on Easter Monday. On this day guys get to throw water on the ladies. The fellows are permitted to chase after the ladies with squirt guns, buckets, or other containers of water. In the past, ladies could get their revenge on Tuesday, when, tradition had it, they could throw dishes or crockery back at the guys; however, it has apparently now become increasingly popular for the ladies to get their revenge on Monday by tossing water right back at the young men!  So Happy Dyngus Day to all my Polish friends. 

Let me wish all my readers, whether they are celebrating any particular festivals or not, a very happy and healthy time until my next posting on April 15th.  

Peace be with you.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Scarlet Beebalm

"Monarda didyma - Scarlet Beebalm", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2018

As promised, with this posting I begin a series featuring red/pink flowers.  While this first choice, Beebalm, is not a particularly pretty plant, it is a plant I have enjoyed finding in the wild as its bright colour and raggedy look have always made me smile!


Monarda didyma, also known as Scarlet Beebalm or Oswego tea, is an aromatic herb in the family Lamiaceae. It is native to eastern North America from New Brunswick west to Ontario and Minnesota and south along the eastern seaboard from Maine to northern Georgia. 

The name Beebalm comes from the folk use of crushed leaves to soothe bee stings. The name Oswego Tea comes from the fact that the leaves were used as a tea by the Oswego Nation living in what is now New York State. Early European settlers in this area also used the plant for this purpose when regular tea was scarce. Its odour is considered similar to that of the bergamot orange (the source of bergamot oil used to flavor Earl Grey tea), hence this plant is occasionally called Wild Bergamot. 

This hardy, perennial plant grows to 1.5 m in height. The leaves are opposite and dark green with coarsely toothed margins. Beebalm has raggedy, bright red tubular flowers borne on showy heads with reddish bracts. It grows in dense clusters along stream banks, thickets, and ditches, flowering from mid- to late summer. 

Beebalm has a long history of use as a medicinal plant by many Indigenous North American groups, including the Blackfeet. The Blackfeet peoples recognized this plant's strong antiseptic action, and used poultices of the plant for skin infections, minor wounds and insect bites such as bee stings. Herbal tea made from the plant was also used to treat mouth and throat infections caused by dental caries and gingivitis. Beebalm is the natural source of the antiseptic, thymol, the primary active ingredient in modern commercial mouthwash formulas. The Winnebago peoples used a herbal tea made from beebalm as a general stimulant. It was also used by Indigenous peoples to treat excessive flatulence. 

The genus name, Monarda, honours Nicholas Monardes (1493-1588), physician and botanist of Seville. The specific name, didyma, comes from the Latin and means “in pairs” in reference to the plant stamens being in pairs.

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


Suki wondering why I called her name!
Suki has had a couple of relatively quiet weeks since my last posting.

The fire alarm did go off around 10:30 a.m. one morning last week which caused Suki to make a mad dash for her box at the back of the bedroom closet.  However, it was a false alarm and as soon as the fire department arrived at the building and made a quick check, they turned off our incredibly loud alarm system.  It took about an hour after the alarm ceased ringing for Suki to finally emerge from the closet, but, apparently, the trauma was soon forgotten in her anticipation of lunch!

Otherwise, Suki has spent portions of every day curled up under the blanket I still need to keep over my feet when I am resting in my recliner (our daytime high temperatures are still just a few degrees above freezing!).  

I am continuing to give her the pain medication each day and, so far, it seems to be controlling her pain.  I still have to be very gentle when I am brushing the area around her hips and tail, but so long as I don't press too hard, Suki seems to be willing to endure my efforts to control the normal shedding of her fur.  

She loves it when I brush around her head and ears and frequently tries to keep me from stopping when my hands begin to tire and ache.  I think I need to invent some sort of brushing machine that Suki could operate on her own although, knowing her, she would probably keep brushing until she was practically bald over her chin and cheekbones (her favourite places for hard brushing)!

As for me, things have been pretty quiet as well.

Week before last, I had a follow-up appointment with my family doctor who decided that since I hadn't had any blood work or ultrasounds for a year, I should have them.  Fortunately, I was able to have the blood work done prior to leaving the clinic that day although I had to return for the ultrasound a few days later since I needed to be fasting.  I will be seeing her in order to get the results of these tests this coming Thursday .  

As well, I have my "every six months" appointment with the ophthalmologist this coming week.  Fortunately, the week after this one should be another quiet week for me -- and, hopefully, for Suki.

I was saddened this past week to hear about the death of Stephen Hawking.  We have lost a great mind, a preeminent scientist and a fascinating personality.  How interesting it is to recall that when Hawking was first diagnosed with ALS, during the time he was studying for a graduate degree in physics at Cambridge, he was told he had, at the most, two years to live -- and yet he lived to be 76.  

Before I post again, there will be the Christian celebrations of Palm Sunday and Good Friday as well as the beginning of the Jewish Passover celebrations.  My next posting will actually be on April lst, Easter Sunday.  How quickly we seem to have gone from Christmas to Easter.  I know they say that time seems to pass more quickly as we age, but this is ridiculous!

Anyway, let me wish those who celebrate these festivities all the blessings and joys that they are meant to bring.  And, may those of you who do not celebrate these occasions continue to experience many blessings and joys as well.