Sunday, 23 October 2016

Malus x 'Prairifire' - Flowering Crabapple

"Malus x 'Prairifire' -- Flowering Crabapple", drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Malus is a genus of about 35 species of deciduous trees and shrubs found growing in Europe, Asia and North America and is native to the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere. Many of the species found in the genus Malus produce fruit, including apples. 

Malus x 'Prairifire' is commonly known as Flowering Crabapple. Crabapple trees are actually members of the rose family, Rosaceae. As with roses, there is a never-ending desire to develop new forms. This has resulted in approximately 800 cultivars of crabapples. 

Flowering Crabapple is a dense, rounded, deciduous tree which typically grows 15-20' tall with a branch-spread of a similar size. Pinkish-red buds open to become slightly fragrant, deep pink-red flowers in spring. These flowers, viewed against the bright blue of a prairie sky, often look as though they are on fire. 

In the late summer, these flowers are followed by masses of small, purplish-red crabapples which mature in the fall. The fruits are persistent and attractive to birds. 

Leaves emerge purplish in spring, mature to dark green with a reddish-tinge in summer, turning orange in autumn. 

The genus name of, Malus, comes from the Greek word, μήλων, meaning apples. The cultivar was introduced by Dr. Daniel Dayton, University of Illinois, in 1982 as a disease-resistant cultivar. His misspelling of the name, Prairifire, was intentional.


Just a note in reference to last week's featured drawing of Hymenocallis coronaria, known as the Cahaba Lily.  One of the regular readers of the blog sent me a photo showing the vanity licence plate for Alabama on behalf of the Cahaba River which includes a drawing of the Cahaba Lily.

Sample of Alabama vanity licence plate "Save the Cahaba"
featuring a drawing of the Cahaba Lily.
(Thanks to the kindness of J. Seymore) 


Portions of the above were taken from various Internet sources.


Here are some new photos of my boys getting ready for Halloween. As everyone knows, from Charlie Brown on down, this particular celebration requires a visit to the pumpkin patch. You never know... you might just meet The Great Pumpkin there!

Obviously, being boys, the brothers have to check out the rotten pumpkins first!

Ro has discovered a pumpkin just his size and, of course, he has to listen to it --
that's how you can tell whether it's a good pumpkin for carving!

Along comes the hay wagon.  It is intended for carrying the pumpkins, but
Braden decides he may as well hop on for a ride!



"OK, whose bright idea was it to put
this stupid red ribbon around my neck?"
First, I need to tell you that after a few years of being able to sleep in my bed again, I am now back to sleeping in the recliner -- too much pain in my neck and back otherwise.  The reason I need to tell you this is so that you will understand the following story about Suki's misbehaviour this past week.

The first couple of nights after I begin sleeping in the recliner again, Suki was a bit unsettled about it all.  In fact, she stayed away from me completely until about 6 a.m. -- the time at which she always becomes quite insistent that I get up and feed her. Otherwise, she left me alone. Perhaps it was the fact that my sleeping in the recliner was something new again and so she had to adjust her thinking.

Anyway, whatever the reason, by the third night Suki began to return to all the bad habits she displayed during those years when I could not sleep anywhere else except the recliner [as you may recall, it was the only sleeping arrangement I could find where my neck was supported in such a way so that the pain wasn't bad enough to keep me from falling asleep]. I would have thought that Suki might have forgotten all her nasty little tricks, I had. Unfortunately, her memory is still much too good.  

Here is an example of the kind of misbehaviour to which I am referring... For years now, I have had a medium-sized Peace Lily sitting on the table next to my recliner.  During the time I was using the recliner as a bed, Suki discovered that if she extended her claws, poked them into one of the leaves and pulled quickly, she could create a most unpleasant ripping sound.  This action, aside from waking me up, also destroyed the leaf. Waking up from a deep sleep and seeing the torn leaf would upset me sufficiently so that I would be almost instantly fully awake -- which meant that I was unlikely to be able to return to sleep.

I had completely forgotten about this behaviour until Suki returned to the practice early Wednesday morning, about 5:30 a.m.  I was awakened by the sound of something tearing, saw the poor, torn leaf hanging there and, immediately, the memories came flooding back. I yelled at Suki, but, by then, she was already at the entrance to the kitchen, waiting for me to come and feed her! 

The only solution to this problem, the one I used previously, is to add moving the plant to my list of bedtime chores.  This list now reads: feed Suki; make certain that her litter box is absolutely clean; wash Suki's dish after she finishes her bedtime snack (it needs to be ready for the morning); take my pills; clean my teeth; move the plant and, exhaustedly, fall into whatever I may be using for a bed.

Apart from all of this, it has been a busier week for me than I expected when I wrote last Sunday's posting.  I went to my scheduled medical appointment on Thursday as planned and, as usual, visited my friend on the 6th floor on Friday morning -- these were my only outings for the week.  However, I did receive a number of enjoyable phone calls, some unexpected emails which required lengthy responses and one unexpected visit from a dear friend. So, I guess you could say it was a good week in spite of having to sleep in the recliner and having to deal with a very naughty Miss Suki!

This coming week should be relatively quiet since I only have one doctor's appointment scheduled for Tuesday.  Otherwise, all the rest of the week should be what passes for normal for me these days!



[Just a note about the drawings I have been using lately in this section of my posting.  

You have, no doubt, noticed that several of the drawings I have posted recently have contained some of the same figures used over and over again in different drawings.  

For example, the Pharisee in today's drawing was a figure I drew several years ago for another icon; however, it is also the figure I used in last week's drawing of the Unjust Judge.  Previous to that, the same figure represented the wealthy landowner who decided to "eat, drink and be merry".  The clothing may change somewhat, but the basic figure remains the same.  

I am, of course, able to use the grouping function of my software to bring all the elements of a particular object or person together, save that grouping and then use it wherever I wish in later drawings. This is what I have done here. ST]

"Icon -- The Tax Collector and the Pharisee"
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016 revised

Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else. “Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity -- greedy, dishonest, adulterous -- or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’ But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for whoever exalts themselves will be humbled, and whoever humbles themselves will be exalted.”       Luke 18:9-14

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Hymenocallis coronaria -- Cahaba Lily

"Hymenocallis coronaria -- Cahaba Lily", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Hymenocallis coronaria, commonly known as the Shoal lily, Shoals spider-lily or, in Alabama, as the Cahaba lily is an aquatic, perennial, flowering plant in the genus Hymenocallis. It is endemic to the Southeastern United States -- being found only in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and, originally, parts of North Carolina. Within Alabama, it is known as the Cahaba lily as it is found growing primarily among the shoals of the Cahaba River which is located just south of Birmingham, Alabama. 

Hymenocallis coronaria requires a swift, shallow, water current and direct sunlight to flourish. The plant grows to about 3 feet in height and develops from a bulb that lodges in cracks in rocky shoals. It blooms from early May to late June. Each fragrant flower blossom opens overnight and lasts for only one day. The plant is pollinated by certain moths and butterflies. 

Hymenocallis coronaria is under consideration for protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act due to entire populations being wiped out by dam construction. There are only approximately 50 extant populations of Hymenocallis coronaria left and these are found in the states of Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. 

Of course, Hymenocallis coronaria is not a true lily but bears the name just like numerous other non-Lilium flowering plants. It is actually a member of the same family as the amaryllis plant (Amaryllidaceae). The genus name, Hymenocallis, comes from a combination of two Greek words and means “beautiful membrane”. The species name of coronaria is derived from the Latin word coronarium which means “crown”. 

The inspiration for drawing this flowering plant came from a recent look at a lovely painting of these flowers by the wife of an Alabama cousin of mine. She did the painting several years ago now. When I first saw it, I made a feeble effort to copy what she had done, but ended up with something which left me totally dissatisfied. When I came across her painting again a couple of weeks ago, I once more felt the desire to attempt another drawing of these lovely flowers. So, while I am far from satisfied with the result presented in this posting, I am sufficiently satisfied.  This means that I am willing to let you have a look at what I have done rather than just deleting the file!

Much of the above text was taken from various Internet sources.


"There had better be a good reason for waking me!!"
Why do young children and pets have so much trouble remembering what you want them to but, somehow, always manage to remember all those things you want them to forget?  I mention this because of an experience I had this past week with Suki.

For the past several years, I have made it a part of my bedtime routine to pick up the wastebasket I have in the bedroom and place it in one of Suki's least favourite chairs. Then, taking a small pillow from another chair, I place it against the wastebasket so that it is firmly wedged against the back of the chair.  Anyone watching might think that I was suffering from some mild form of dementia.

However, there has been a definite reason for this behaviour... If I did not do this, then around 5:30 a.m. Suki would begin using the wastebasket as an alarm clock.  You see, I like to keep those recyclable plastic bags in my wastebaskets so that they are easier to clean, but plastic bags, when moved about rapidly with cat paws, can make a most unpleasant noise -- the kind of noise that is bound to awaken you no matter how deeply you are sleeping.

Then, this past Monday night, for some unknown reason, I forgot to put the wastebasket in the bedroom chair before going to bed.  In the morning, as I was getting out of bed, I noticed that the wastebasket was in its usual place on the floor.  This observation was followed by the realization that Suki had not used the plastic bag in an effort to try and awaken me.  I was quite pleased and thought, hopefully, that perhaps Suki had forgotten about using it after so many months of not having access to her homemade alarm clock.

I left the wastebasket on the floor the following night as well and was extremely delighted the next morning to realize that another sleep had passed without Suki noticing the plastic bag.  After she ignored the bag again on Wednesday night, I was convinced that I would never again have to put the wastebasket in its easy-chair "bed".  I was sure that Suki had forgotten completely about how she once used that plastic bag to awaken an irritated and angry me!

Well, you can just guess what happened next.  At around 5:25 a.m. the next morning, Friday, I was awakened by that most irritating sound of cat claws ripping at plastic.  Suki had definitely not forgotten how to use a plastic bag as an alarm clock.  I painfully got out of bed, yelling all the while, placed the wastebasket in the chair topping the whole thing off with a pillow.  Meanwhile, Suki was sitting in the hallway, watching, just in case I decided to head towards the kitchen.

I tried going back to sleep, but after a few minutes, I knew it was hopeless.  So, I got up, said numerous nasty things to Suki -- which she blithely ignored -- while I fixed her breakfast and then began my own daily routine.  From now on, it is back to putting the wastebasket in the chair each night before going to bed.  

Still, the question remains, why do we and other creatures so often forget what we really need to remember -- things that would make our lives easier and safer -- and remember those things we really should forget?

Speaking of forgetting, there are several nights from the past week that I would like to forget and that statement has nothing to do with Suki's behaviour.  Rather, for some reason, I have had some unpleasantly painful nights recently.  I have no idea why, but, fortunately, the past couple of nights have been easier.  So, I am hoping that those bad night were just aberrations and not symptoms indicating that things are getting worse. 

As for this coming week, I have a medical appointment on Thursday, but, otherwise, it should be quiet. 

I want to finish the "Suki and Me" column today by posting a drawing I did recently for a birthday card.  Many of you know that this time of year is my favourite (with winter being my second favourite season -- yes I said winter!).  Every so often I try to draw another tree showing the changing leaves of Fall -- one of the reasons why I enjoy this season so much.  Here is my latest effort.

"Autumn Leaves", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016



"Icon -- The Widow and the Unjust Judge", drawing by
Sarah " Sallie" Thayer, 2016 revisions

Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said, “There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, ‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’ For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, ‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.’” The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”  Luke 18:1-8

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Nerium oleander

"Pink Oleander (Nerium oleander)", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Nerium oleander is an evergreen shrub or small tree in the dogbane family, Apocynaceae, and is toxic in all its parts. Oleander is the only species currently classified in the genus Nerium

Oleander tree and shrub
Source: ©  
N. oleander is most commonly known simply as oleander. So called, it is thought, due to its superficial resemblance to the unrelated olive tree whose oil was known in Latin as Olea. Comparing the photo of the Oleander tree (see photo at right), you can easily see a superficial resemblance to the European Olive tree. (see photo below).

Olive Tree (Olea europaea) 


Oleander shrub showing the longer leaves
Source:  Wikipedia
The flowers grow in clusters at the end of each branch; they are white, pink to red consisting of 5 petals around a central corolla tube. They are often, but not always, sweetly scented. The leaves are in pairs or whorls of three, thick and dark green in colour. The leaves of the tree-type oleander are smaller in size, more like those of the olive tree, while the leaves of the shrub type (see photo at left) tend to be longer and broader. 

Interestingly, the oleander flowers require insect visits to set seed but since the flowers are nectarless and offer no real reward to their visitors, the plant is pollinated through what is known in evolutionary theory as the “deception mechanism”. Similar to the orchid, oleander’s showy corolla acts as a potent advertisement to attract pollinators from a distance. Although the plant gives the insect nothing, the insect's brief visit gives the plant what it needs for continuing pollination. 

Obviously, since all parts of the oleander plant are toxic to some degree, they should not be ingested, rubbed on the skin or used in the preparation of food. Knowledge of the poisonous nature of this plant has led to the creation of an “urban legend” about a family (sometimes it’s a scout troop) all succumbing to oleander toxins after using small oleander branches for roasting hot dogs and/or marshmallows over a campfire! 

And, finally, a mystery – what is the exact origin of the genus name of Nerium? It could have been derived from the Greek, Nerion, which supposedly refers to the Greek Sea God, Nereus, and his daughters, the Nereides. It has also been suggested that the Greek word, nerion, is derived from the Greek word, neros, which means moist and refers to the wet places where the oleander plant grows wild. 

Whatever the source, the name remains... Nerium oleander or, simply, oleander.

Much of the above text was taken from various Internet sources.


Suki was sleeping in the sunlight --
until I came along and bothered her by
taking a photo! (enhanced using Sketch Artist)
Another week with nothing much to report about Suki. She has been her usual self and done her usual things.

It is a continuing battle as I try to make certain that Suki keeps off the weight she has lost.  She has a real talent for begging for food so piteously that it takes all my willpower to refrain from giving her just a bit extra.

On the other hand, I have had a busier week than I would have liked.  As I mentioned last Sunday, I did have company early in the week, but that was a very enjoyable visit and did not cause me any difficulties.  However, my medical appointments on Thursday were a different matter.

First of all, let me just say that I would have had an easier time of things if I had not experienced a serious, senior moment Thursday morning prior to leaving for my appointments at the hospital. Although I knew the time for my first appointment, and had even written it down in my date book, for some mysterious reason, I started thinking my appointment was at a different time! So, I planned my morning accordingly.

It was only when I was in the hospital elevator on my way to my first appointment that I checked my appointment slip and discovered that I was already 45 minutes late!  There was nothing I could do then except explain to the receptionist what had happened, apologize and ask her to give me the next available appointment.

Instead of reprimanding me, however, the nice, young lady, told me to sit down and wait while she checked to see if the doctor could fit me in at the end of his morning schedule.  If he could, then she would arrange for me to have the required breathing test before I saw him.  The doctor said "yes" and so then I began the waiting process.

After playing numerous games of Solitaire on my phone, I was finally called in to do the breathing test.  I thought I did really well; however, when I finally saw the doctor, I was informed that my lung function has now decreased almost 14% since this time last year.  So, the doctor and I talked about puffers and the importance of using them regularly and not just when you feel like it (this doctor must have a spy camera in my house!).  Finally, it was decided that I would continue using the same puffer but would now use it at least twice daily.  

What made the day so difficult for me, however, was that due to my senior moment, I ended up waiting for my second appointment -- the one with the doctor, himself -- for almost two hours.  So those two hours, combined with the hour and a half I spent waiting for the breathing test and taking the test, totalled about three and a half hours.  Then, when I finally left the hospital, it took me almost 1/2 an hour to get a taxi due to construction on all the streets surrounding the hospital. Let me just say that Thursday night was not a good one for me. 

Suki says:
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
(Photo Source:  Pinterest)
For those of you reading this who do not live in Canada, let me inform you that tomorrow is our Canadian Thanksgiving Day (the second Monday in October).  So, although this may not be your celebration, please allow me to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving, Canadian style. 



As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him.
"Icon -- Healing the Lepers, Part 1",
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016, revised

They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” As they were going they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”

"Icon -- Healing the Lepers, Part 2",
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”  Luke 17:11-19

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Philesia magellanica -- Bellflower

"Philesia magellanica -- Chilean Bellflower", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Philesia (Family Philesiaceae) is a South American genus of flowering plants first described in 1789. The flower is mostly pink in color, but some darker, more purple variations have been recorded. 

Philesia magellanica, is the only known species of this genus. It is native to southern Chile and southern Argentina, although rarely seen in the wild, and is commonly known by its Chilean name of Coicopihue

Philesia magellanica -- Chilean Bellflower
Source:  Wikipedia
With only a cursory examination, the flowers of Philesia magellanica look almost exactly like those of its cousin, Lapageria rosea, the national flower of Chile. As with P. magellanica, L. rosea, commonly known by its Chilean name of Copihue, is the only species found in the genus Lapageria. On closer examination, however, it is easy to determine whether the plant is a shrub (P. magellanica) or a vine (L. rosea). 

Sephanoides sephanoides -- 
Greenbacked Firecrown Hummingbird
Source:  Wikipedia

Philesia magellanica tends to form a compact shrub about 3 feet tall and wide, with small, evergreen leaves. The vivid, pink blossoms are 2 inches long and are largely pollinated by the Greenbacked Fire-crown hummingbirds. 

As to the proper names of this plant, the genus name, Philesia, is from the Greek word philesis which means “loving affection”. The species name of magellanica refers to one of the areas native to this plant – the Magellan Straits, Chile.

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


Suki Sulking on Rug

With gratitude, I report that the two of us have had a relatively quiet week.  To the best of my knowledge, Suki has not done anything aggravating, irritating or devious since last Sunday.  (You notice that I qualified the above statement with the words, "to the best of my knowledge" -- the reason for this is that too often in the past I have discovered something naughty that Suki has done several weeks after the fact)!

I do want to comment, however, on the above photo (taken early this morning).  It shows Suki sulking.  And, why is she sulking? Because I won't give her any more food!  By the time this photo was taken, Suki had been fed her normal breakfast portion of turkey and gravy PLUS about 12 pieces of her beloved "crunchies". Normally, I would only give her turkey and gravy, but she still seemed so very hungry after eating that I gave in and gave her a small portion of her dry food.  Even that did not seem to satisfy her and when her begging-meows remained unanswered, she went and plopped herself down on the rug and glared at me unhappily. Eventually, she gave up and settled down in one of her chairs for a nap that will last until close to lunch time.

You may be interested in knowing that the rug on which Suki is lying was made about 100 years ago by one of my fraternal great-aunts.  It was given to my mother as a gift, passed along to my sister, Betty, after our mother died and, now, since the death of my sister, Betty, back in 2007, it has come down to me.  I intend to pass it on to my niece.  The carved stool legs behind Suki belong to a handmade, wooden stool with hand-painted tiles on the top.  It belonged to my mother-in-law who told me that it came from Mexico where it had been created by a well-known craftsman. I would guess that it must be about 80 years old. Then there is Suki!

I am expecting a visit this week from a dear friend.  We don't see one another very often now what with all my problems; however, the moment we start catching up on each others "news", we will swing easily back into enjoyable conversation and laughter. Friendship is an amazingly, wonderful thing.

I also have my regular six-month's appointment with my pulmonologist/internist this coming week.  This visit will include a breathing test. As you may recall, last time I took this test, I was informed that I only have about a 5% margin separating me from continuing to use the mild puffer I now require and having to start using a much stronger one.  So please cross your fingers that I will "pass" the test easily.  Thanks.

On this day in the year 1869, Mahatma Gandhi was born.  Today we commemorate his birthday as well as the International Day of Non-Violence. Please be kind to one another.



"Mulberry Tree ('If you had faith the size of a mustard seed...')"
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” The Lord replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. “Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’? Would he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat. Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink. You may eat and drink when I am finished’? Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded? So should it be with you. When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.’”   Luke 17:5-10

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Clerodendrum trichotomum

"Clerodendrum trichotomum -- Harlequin Glorybower"

Clerodendrum trichotomum, commonly known as Harlequin Glorybower, is a species of flowering plant in the genus Clerodendrum. A member of the Family Lamiaceae (the Mint family), it is native to China, Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and India.  It is now found in gardens throughout the world.

Harlequin Glorybower shrub 
(Internet -- source unknown)
C. trichotomum  is a shrub which grows to 3–6 metres (10–20 ft) in height. The leaves are long, soft and downy. The fragrant flowers have white petals, held within a calyx which turns red as the fruits ripen. The berries (known as drupes) are white, changing to bright blue and eventually dark blue on maturity (see drawing below). They contain the novel, blue pigment Trichotomine

The genus name, Clerodendrum, comes from the Greek words: kleros (meaning chance or luck) and dendron (meaning tree). The species name, trichotomum, comes from the Latin and means “branching into three”. 

Speaking of threes, this fascinating plant has three interesting characteristics: 

1) When crushed, the leaves emit the odour of peanut butter which is why one of the common names for C. trichotomum is the “peanut butter tree”. 
2) The blue pigment contained in the berries has a novel chromophore structure which differs from previously studied plant pigments. 
3) The seeds and other parts of the plant are poisonous if ingested and handling the plant may cause mild allergic reactions in some people.  So, handle with care.

"Berries of Clerodendrum trichotomum (Harlequin Glorybower)", drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

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


Often, it feels as though my home really belongs to Suki and she is just kind enough to allow me to live here!  How has this cat with the arthritic hips been able to work such magic on me?  

I'm sorry -- I am ranting away here while you are probably wondering what on earth Suki has done to cause me to be this upset.  So, let me try to explain...

About a week ago, Joycelyn and I figured out a new arrangement for the furniture in my living room.  This arrangement, it seemed to us, would provide sufficient seating whenever guests came to visit and, the remainder of the time, could easily accommodate me and my special needs.  In the past, I have always had to move a few things around in order to have my living room in good order for visitors.  Then, after they had left, I would have to move things back again to make it easier for me to get in and out of my recliner and to walk around the living room safely.

Joycelyn, with a bit of help from my building's maintenance man, moved the furniture.  In just a few minutes, everything was moved into place, leaving us very pleased with the results.  With this new arrangement, I now have a good set-up for keeping medications, walker, etc. close at hand while the remaining area of the living room appears, it seems to me, as a cozy and comfortable place for my visitors to sit and talk, easily able to visit with each other and with me.

In order to achieve the right balance of chairs, tables, etc., I moved one of Suki's favourite after-supper-napping chairs, which has been sitting in the entrance hall for some years, into the living room. Even though I know that cats hate change, I thought Suki might approve of this arrangement as this would mean that now her two favourite chairs for evening sleeps were located in the living room. Now, the usual trip from one chair to another would be shorter and less painful.

[As you may recall, after Suki has had her supper, she likes to sleep for a couple of hours in one or other of these two chairs. She spends a couple of hours in the first chair, then she awakens and moves to the other favourite chair where she sleeps until around 10:45 p.m. From that point forward, until I say "time for bed", Suki "sleeps" on the top of the wingback chair -- the highest point in the living room suitable for "sleeping" (I put "sleeping" in quotes because she is really just watching me for any signs of movement!).]

Since the re-arrangement of the living room, however, something new has been occurring in Suki's evening ritual.  Now, instead of perching on the back of the wingback chair in order to carefully observe me, Suki is waking up in her second favourite chair about 10 p.m. rather than 10:45 p.m. Then, instead of heading for her usual high point on the wingback, she comes over and jumps up onto my recliner while I am still reclining in it!  Next, she searches for a spot where there seems to be a bit of space and then she begins pushing against me until I move just enough to allow her to curl up, give herself a brief paw-and-face washing and then go to sleep.  

And, when I say sleep this time, I really mean sleep.  This surprised me at first but then I realized that when Suki was on the back of the chair, she had to stay awake just enough so that she would hear or see any movements on my part.  Now, however, she knows that I cannot move with waking her up.  And, somehow, this sitting-on-me-business seems more like punishment than kitty coziness! 

Do you have any idea how heavy a cat lying on your legs can begin to feel after about an hour? Then there is the inevitable problem with "pins and needles" which leaves my legs feeling so numb that even though I want to kick Suki onto the floor, I am no longer able to do so!   

So, here I am almost 7 days after re-arranging the living room, wondering such things as:  

  • how much space in our home will Suki allow me to keep for myself; 
  • if I put everything back the way it was before, will Suki go back to behaving the way she did prior to my changing things; and, 
  • how much is Suki going to make me suffer for changing things in the first place?
Woe is me for ever putting my needs ahead of those of Suki! 

Other than this on-going battle with Suki, I am doing reasonably well although I did have a difficult week due to my own foolishness. Let me explain... 

This past Tuesday, I ended up trying to cram too many tests and doctor's appointments into one day.  By the time I returned home, after spending almost 5 hours in the hospital going from one place to another, I was experiencing such severe nerve pain that I thought I might have to return to the hospital -- to the emergency department.

The discomfort finally begin to subside around 4 early Wednesday morning and, over the days since, has continued to lessen somewhat.  Hopefully, by this time next week, things will be completely back to normal -- whatever normal is!

Otherwise, I am expecting a quiet week ahead and I wish the same for all of you.  




"Icon -- Father Abraham", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, rev. 2016

Jesus said to the Pharisees: “There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man's table. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores. When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he cried out, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.' Abraham replied, ‘My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented. Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.’ He said, ‘Then I beg you, father, send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place of torment.' But Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.’ He said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ Then Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.’ ”  Luke 16:19-31

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Globba winitii -- Dancing Ladies

"Globba winitii -- Dancing Ladies (Ginger)", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Unlike the members of the “ginger” family that are used for spices and medicine, Globba winitii is one of may “ornamental” ginger plants in the Family Zingiberaceae – a family which claims 50 genera and approximately 1,600 species distributed throughout tropical Africa, Asia, and the Americas. 

Commonly known as Dancing Ladies (Ginger), Globba winitii is native to the forests of warm, humid Thailand. Striking flowers bloom from late summer though early winter on stalks which appear from the base of the leaves. Each dangling flower spike has lilac-purple "leaves" trailing down the spike and small, tubular, yellow flowers which spread out from the stalk. The bright, green, lance-shaped leaves have pointed tips and heart-shaped bases. 

The genus name, Globba, is derived from the native name for this plant in Thailand. The specific name, winitii, is taken from the name of Phya Winit Wanandorn, a 20th-century Thailand botanist. 

Detail from
"Globba winitii -- Dancing Ladies (Ginger)"
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016
Globba winitii got its interesting common names, "Dancing Ladies or Dancing Ladies Ginger", because of its delicately balanced yellow flowers, which start to dance around when touched by the slightest breeze. In Thailand the long-lasting flowers are very popular and used as cut-flowers for offerings presented to Lord Buddha and Buddhist monks.

As you can see from the image on your left, I decided to take some details from the original drawing and incorporate them into another drawing using letter- rather than manuscript-style page placement.  

Birthday card created using a detail from
"Globba winitii -- Dancing Ladies (Ginger)"
 drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Using this format makes it easier to include the drawing when creating greeting cards, for example.  

I used the image this past week in a birthday greeting (see drawing on right) which I prepared for my niece who is quite a world traveller.  Dancing Ladies, a plant native to distant lands, seemed to me to be the perfect image for her birthday card!  It is also a plant found in many gardens of the southern U.S. which is where my niece lives. How serendipitous!  

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


Suki asleep under my housecoat -- that's
her tail and backside showing!
Today I thought I would present a photo essay about Suki which I first entitled: 

"What Awakening Suki From a Nap Looks Like!" 

However, as you can see, that is a rather bulky, somewhat grammatically-awkward title.  

After spending a bit of time trying to create a title that was less wordy and grammatically correct, I finally threw up my hands in dismay.  In that moment of defeat, however, I thought to myself: "why not create a title that reflects the entire story, no matter how wordy it may be?"  

Thus, this is how I ended up with the following title for my photo essay:  

"Photos Showing Me Waking Suki From Her Nap and Forcing Her to Move so that I can Sit in My Bathroom Chair." 

Hope you enjoy it.

Suki exposed -- you can tell from her 
eyes that she is not pleased.
As is obvious from the photos, Suki is highly displeased about being awakened in the middle of her nap.  Heaping indignity upon indignity, I then force her to move from her favourite bathroom chair.  

Sadly, I did not get a photo of Suki exiting the chair as it required both my hands, pulling and pushing, in order to convince her that I seriously wanted her to move!

Suki, now completely exposed, looks at me with real displeasure.
I can almost hear her saying "You woke me up!  It had better
be because it is time to eat or else I will be extremely unhappy!"

However, I do have a lovely picture (above) of Suki looking very displeased and, no doubt, already planning her revenge.  Just look at her face.  Doesn't her expression "warm the cockles of your heart"?!

Otherwise, life goes on as usual at our home.

This past week, I had some tests on my eyes at the hospital and will get the results when I see the ophthalmologist again this coming week. Hopefully, there will be no surprises.

Aside from my regular days with Joycelyn and visits and phone calls from friends and family, it was very quiet around here during the past week. I am hoping the days ahead will also be peaceful and quiet -- for us all.



"Christ Teaching to the Crowds", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, rev. 2016 
[mammon = the lust for money and the power it brings]


Jesus said to his disciples, “A rich man had a steward who was reported to him for squandering his property. He summoned him and said, ‘What is this I hear about you? Prepare a full account of your stewardship, because you can no longer be my steward.’ The steward said to himself, ‘What shall I do, now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me? I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg. I know what I shall do so that, when I am removed from the stewardship, they may welcome me into their homes.’ He called in his master’s debtors one by one. To the first he said, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He replied, ‘One hundred measures of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note. Sit down and quickly write one for fifty.’ Then to another the steward said, ‘And you, how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘One hundred measures of wheat.’ The steward said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note; write one for eighty.’ And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently. “For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones. If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth, who will trust you with true wealth? If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you what is yours? No servant can serve two masters. They will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon.”          Luke 16:1-13

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Passion Flowers -- Passiflora parritae

"Passion Flower Vine in Bloom -- Passiflora parritae"
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

The gold medal winner of passion flowers, Passiflora parritae,
is as rare as it is beautiful. Possibly extinct in the wild, this species is now seen only in botanical gardens. The genus Passiflora contains 465 species and five subspecies; yet, few rival the size and beauty of Passiflora parritae

The genus name of Passiflora is derived from two Latin words: “passio” (passion) and “flos” meaning "flower". The specific title of parritae is taken from the name, Señor Parra (better known as “Parrita”), who first brought collected specimens to the attention of botanists. 

Passiflora parritae vine
Copyright © 2004-2016 by Strange Wonderful Things  
Passiflora parritae is native to the mountain forests of Colombia, South America. The blooms are 5-6 inches wide, and are an exquisite shade of orange-peach-orange. The flower tubes are unusually long, as are the stems. These enable the blooms to swing in the breeze, which attracts its pollinator, a local species of hummingbird. 

It appears that in the wild Passiflora parritae's pollinator is an extraordinary hummingbird by the name of Ensifera ensifera. Sadly, it is very likely that global warming has caused a shift in the population of E. ensifera to higher altitudes leaving the massive P. parritae flowers unpollinated in an evolutionary dead end. 

Sword-billed Hummingbird - Ensifera ensifera
[By Joseph C Boone - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,]

It is generally accepted as a fatal error for both plant and pollinator to become exclusively dependent on each other. In this case it appears to be P. parritae that made the evolutionary error since E. ensifera, which can feed from many flowers, is not at risk.

How sad to think that this beautifully flowering vine may now exist only in a few botanical gardens throughout the world.  Its fragile existence has been irrevocably damaged by slight changes in the earth's temperature... 

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


Just a few snaps of the boys -- four taken on Tuesday morning as Braden set off for his first day of JK and two taken later in the week as the boys enjoy Baka's krofne! (Serbian/Croatian for Grandma's donuts).

First Day of JK for Braden

The Brothers hug goodbye as they go to their separate schools!

Braden waves to his parents
as he enters his school for the first time

Ro, minus Braden, talks
to his teacher at playschool

Braden all "present and correct" for his first day of JK

Enjoying Baka's krofne! (Serbian/Croat for Grandma's donuts)

Ro is all set to dig into his second krofne -- deliciously made by his Baka

While Braden may not be as messy as his younger brother,
he, too, is wearing a bit of chocolate as he gets ready
to eat his second delicious krofne!



Suki pensively contemplating tactics in
her never-ending battle to outsmart me!

I have been shocked and dismayed, over and over again, each time I realize that Suki has played me one more time!

No matter how careful I try to be, Suki continues to be one move ahead of me all the time -- it is almost like she has the ability to hypnotize me! I am really getting tired of being conned over and over again... I mean, it starts to make me feel more than just a little stupid each time I have to admit to myself that, once again,  I have been outsmarted by a cat.

OK, let me stop ranting and explain....

You know that the vet insisted that I find some way to get Suki's weight down by a pound or two.  I took her admonitions seriously as I had seen for myself just how much pain Suki was experiencing and I wanted to do whatever was necessary to help her.  Thus, several months ago, I began to restrict Suki's food to meat and animal by-products only -- no carbs.  

In the wild, cats do not normally eat carbs except for whatever may be in the stomach of the poor creature they have killed and on which they are feeding. They eat any creature they can catch and kill but they do not have this main course along with potatoes, peas and carrots on the side.  Yes, you do see cats eating grass occasionally, but that is more in aid of helping them to get rid of fur balls in their stomachs.

Anyway, back to Suki.  After about six weeks on this diet, I placed Suki on the scales and was delighted to see that she had lost two pounds (remember, her top weight was only 13 lbs.).  Since I did not want her to lose any additional weight, I decided to relax the "no carbs" rule just a tiny bit.  That day, for the first time in almost two months, I gave Suki about 10 pieces of her beloved Iams TM crunchies when she started begging for a second helping of her lunch.  Suki was delighted.

As the days have passed since, I have continued to give Suki a small handful of her crunchies each time she begs for a little something extra after finishing her dish of turkey and gravy. Almost without thinking, I have simply responded to her begging by giving her 10 or so pieces of her favourite, crunchy carbs.  It was only yesterday that I suddenly realized, almost like coming out of a trance, just how often I am now giving Suki extra food -- after every single meal. How did this happen?

I really need to check Suki's weight again as any day now the vet may be calling me -- it could be as soon as tomorrow -- to check up on Suki.  When she calls, I am sure she will be asking me:  "Is Suki keeping the weight off?". This means that I had better place Suki on the scales today. I mean, the sooner the better, right? Obviously, if she has gained the weight back, I am going to need a fair bit of time to work out a version of the story that keeps me from looking quite so dumb.  I mean, how do I make myself look good when it is going to be so obvious that, once again, I have been outsmarted by Suki?

Other than feeling just a bit blindsided by Suki, I am much the same as last Sunday.  It has been a fairly normal week for me with no appointments other than a visit to my family doctor mid-week. 

I had to see my GP to get some prescriptions renewed and we also discussed her plans to refer me to a neurologist once again.  My family doctor will be asking him if he can figure out why the nerves in my feet and certain parts of my legs appear to be malfunctioning so frequently -- causing me extreme numbness, discomfort and actual pain. I think my GP has her ideas as to why this is happening, but wants to have it confirmed by a specialist who will know if there is any sort of treatment available. Meanwhile, I just have to deal with what is and not fret about what might have been.

Otherwise, I have an appointment scheduled for the week ahead at the ophthalmology department at St. Mike's Hospital where I will be having some specialized tests checking on the glaucoma.  I do hope they won't insist on putting in those drops that dilate your pupils.  If they do, that means 4 or so hours of not being able to focus properly!

Enough grumbling...  Instead, let me be thankful for all that I have. As I look at the coming week, I am hopeful that it will be a peaceful one for me, Suki and all those reading this posting.  I say that even though today is the day we remember what happened on September 11th, 15 years ago -- a day that was anything but peaceful -- a day of death and destruction for so may -- a day which changed forever the way we look at the world and at each other.



"Icon -- The Prodigal Son", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, rev. 2015

". . .  Then Jesus said:  “A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father, ‘Father give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’ So the father divided the property between them. After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation. When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need. So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens who sent him to his farm to tend the swine. And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any. Coming to his senses he thought, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger. I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’ So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.’ But his father ordered his servants, ‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.’ Then the celebration began. Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean. The servant said to him, ‘Your brother has returned and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him. He said to his father in reply, ‘Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns, who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’ He said to him, ‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ ” Luke 15:11-32