Sunday, 27 November 2016

Adonis annua

"Adonis annua -- Adonis Buttercup", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

The Family name of Adonis annua is Ranunculaceae, meaning that it is a member of the buttercup family which provides us with one of its common names of “Adonis Buttercup”.  For some reason, this plant, native to Africa, Asia and parts of Europe has a plethora of common names including Autumn Pheasant’s Eye, Blood-drops and Red Morocco, to mention just a few. I would attribute the large number of common names to this plant’s wide growing range.

The Adonis annua plants can grow up to 50 cm in height and be many-branched. The leaves are finely dissected with bright-green, narrow segments. The flowers resembles those of the anemone with deep red petals and a dark basal spot. The flowers range in size from 15 to 25 mm. There are rarely more than 30 bright red flowers per plant. A. annua is described in ancient documents as a "Eurasian herb cultivated for its deep red flowers with dark centers."

Adonis, Greek God
of Life-Death-Rebirth

The genus name of, Adonis*, is taken from the name of the Greek god of plants. The specific name of “annua” is Latin for annual.
 * Modern scholarship sometimes describes Adonis as an annually renewed, ever-youthful vegetation god, a life-death-rebirth deity whose nature is tied to the calendar. His name is often applied in modern times to handsome youths, of whom he is the archetype.

I, actually, did a drawing of Adonis annua back in 2009 in which I attempted to show the flower, leaves and seeds of this ancient plant. (see below)

"Adonis annua -- Flower, Leaves and Seeds",
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2009 

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


Suki emerges from under the
blanket on my recliner!
Now that the cooler weather is finally here (although it still isn't as cool as I would prefer), Suki has returned to her practice of interfering with my after-dinner activities. In other words, she insists on spending the evening hours either under or on top of the blanket which I throw across my legs as I stream my movies or TV series or read one of my many Kindle books.

I realize that to many of you this situation will sound like something pleasing and pleasurable.  I mean, the idea of spending a wintry evening comfortably ensconced in a comfortable recliner with a blanket across your legs while your house cat curls between your legs sleeping soundly does sound cozy, almost idyllic. However, that cat is 12 lbs. of dead weight which can only be moved with great effort -- which means that every time I need to move my legs, scratch my knee or re-arrange my blanket, I have to expend loads of energy trying to move the cat without disturbing her too much.  

Should I unintentionally awaken Suki fully, then I am required to endure another 15 to 20 minutes of her movements as she first tries to find a new spot on top of or underneath the blanket which is followed by the full face-and-paw-bath which she insists on giving herself before she can finally settle down to sleep once again. Unfortunately, I find all this moving about to be very distracting when I am trying to follow the intricate plot of a British-TV-mystery-series or a P. D. James mystery novel.

Finally, and please don't tell Suki I said this, her weight is becoming more and more painfully uncomfortable.  I do not want Suki to know this, however, or she might stop climbing up onto my lap.  And, as I am sure most of you realize, in spite of all my complaining, I am always secretly pleased when Suki jumps up onto my lap -- letting me know, in so many little ways, that she likes being in my lap and she feels completely safe there.  

To know that another creature, smaller and weaker than we are, believes that, with us, they are completely safe is one of the most precious gifts that Life can give us -- and to break such a trust is one of the most evil things that we can do to another creature -- and to ourselves. 

Speaking of pain, I must admit that this has been a particularly painful week for me.  Not sure why, but, hopefully, things will ease off a bit before too long.  Part of it could be my continuing frustration over trying to integrate my old computer files into my new computer software.  Most things seem to have meshed properly; however, the difficulties of trying to move my old files from Outlook 2007 to Outlook 2016 continue.  Any of you who have gone through something similar know how time-consuming and frequently frustrating such activities can be.

Otherwise, Suki and I continue our somewhat solitary lifestyle as usual.  I am supposed to be seeing a specialist this coming Wednesday; however, I am thinking of cancelling the appointment tomorrow morning. The problem I had several months ago when I complained to my Family Doctor -- the appointment which led her to request this visit with a specialist -- has since cleared up! That is actually one of the good things about our health care system in Ontario -- we rarely get to see a specialist immediately so that often, by the time the appointment rolls around, we no longer need to see the specialist.  No doubt, when I cancel my appointment tomorrow morning, some person, on a cancelled-appointment-waiting-list, will be delighted to receive a call.

Wishing you all a very good week.    


1st Sunday of Advent


Sunday, 20 November 2016

Geissorhiza splendidissima

"Geissorhiza splendidissima -- African Wine Cup", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

An immaculate deep blue flower, with a conspicuous satin sheen, Geissorhiza splendidissima is commonly known as African Wine Cup. It is native to the Northern Cape area of South Africa and is also found in the vegetation surrounding stony clay flats on the Bokkeveld Mountains. Geissorhiza has 84 species that are endemic to South Africa, of which 83 occur in the Northern and Western Cape area. The genus Geissorhiza is a member of the family, Iridaceae (Iris Family) and was first described as a separate genus in 1803. 

The mature bulbs of G. splendidissima are the size of peas. The stem is velvety with narrow leaves. The adult plant grows to between 80–200 mm high. The colours of the flowers range from aqua-blue to dark purple-blue with a yellow to greenish-yellow centre, surrounded by black. The anthers are orange-brown. The seeds are small, fine and dark brown. Flowering is normally from late August to September. The seeds generally ripen on the plants and fall quite close to the parent plant, resulting in large colonies growing in damp areas. 

The genus name of Geissorhiza is derived from the Greek word, geisson, meaning tile, and rhiza, meaning roots. This is a reference to the regular overlapping of the sections of the covering of the bulb (corm) in most of the Geissorhiza species, much like tiles on a roof. The specific name, splendidissima, is from the Latin and means extremely splendid. 

Unfortunately, Geissorhiza splendidisima is listed on the Red Data List as Vulnerable, mainly due to loss of habitat due to farming.

Geissorhiza splendidissima blossom and bud
showing fingers of left hand in background
(Seeds by Post - Shopify)

This plant is actually not very large and has an almost fragile look about it. (see photo to the right) 

Actually, I was first attracted to photos of the flowers by both the colours of blue found in the petals and the way that some of them seem to be painted with high-gloss lacquer!  (see photo below)

Geissorhiza splendidissima blossom showing
sheen. (  -  ReiNoir)

Portions of text above taken from various Internet sources.


Well, Miss Suki was reasonably well behaved this past week; however, if I were to measure her behaviour on a "nuisance meter" numbered 1 - 10 with 10 being the worst behaviour and one being the best, I suspect that I would give Suki about a 7!!  
Suki -- when she's awake, she is always watching and
waiting -- waiting -- waiting ...
For some reason, Suki has become much more demanding in the mornings.  I mean, she is always worse in the mornings than any other time of day; however, in the past, she seemed to take more notice of my displeasure and try to avoid incurring it on a regular basis.

Of course, when you think it, you really can't blame Suki for her behaviour -- at least, I can't as I know full well what it is like to be confined with only the limited options of an enclosed space to provide you with entertainment and distraction.  I'm not referring to my current living situation as this confinement is the result of my own choice. 

I say I know what it is like because I still recall, vividly, my experience when, in my 20s, due to certain medical problems, I was required to spend 6 continuous weeks in the hospital.  After the first 48 hours, when most of the various medications given during the initial surgical procedure had drained out of my system, my meals became the highlight of my day.  Each morning I carefully completed my menu choices for the next day and waited with eager anticipation for each tray to be delivered.  It really wasn't that I was very hungry for the food and actually ate very little, but I was hungry for distraction and entertainment.  

Perhaps that is what it is like for Suki...  She is confined to a known space and the only real sources of entertainment she can expect each day are the appointed times when those food dishes are set down in front of her.  So, I find I really cannot get seriously upset with her.  I may yell loudly on occasion, but she knows that there is only bark and no bite.  True, I do not like being awakened at 5:30 a.m. when I was planning on getting up at 6 a.m.  It is only 30 minutes, but all of you reading this know how precious those 30 minutes can feel when you really want to get just a wee bit more sleep.

Of course, maybe I was just more aware of needing that extra sleep this past week because events conspired to make this past week an extra-difficult one for me.  It all started Tuesday morning when my trusty computer began to show signs of being seriously unstable. Let me explain...

On Tuesday morning, I discovered that my computer refused to stay on for more than 45 minutes at a time.  I could wait a few minutes, turn it back on, let it completely re-load and start using it again. However, within 35 to 45 minutes, it would suddenly and completely shut down once again.  I know that this is the sort of thing that can happen as the hard drive begins to fail and that the periods of time I would have access to my files would become shorter and shorter until finally nothing ... so I figured I had no alternative other than to buy a new computer.

Before making my purchase, I did talk with the computer "experts" at the store about getting their diagnosticians to take a look at my old computer.  I was told that while this was certainly an option, the results of such testing could take at least 10 to 14 days -- maybe longer.  Considering the age of my old computer and all the problems it already has, I decided that I purchasing a new one was the better option for me.

The store offers a free, in-home installation so after leaving them my external hard drive so that all my information from the old computer could be easily downloaded onto the new one, I went home expecting the computer to be delivered and set up the following afternoon.  Sadly, the following afternoon came and went without the arrival of my new computer.  I did receive numerous phone calls from the store apologizing for the delay. 

When I asked them why they were delayed, I was told that whoever was responsible for doing the downloading had not started the process until just about 1 and 1/2 hours prior to my appointment time of 2 p.m.  Only then did they start to believe my comments of the previous day regarding the huge number of files on my hard drive, many of which were large art files.

After three attempts to reschedule on Wednesday afternoon, it was finally decided that the computer delivery and installation would be scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Thursday.  And, thankfully, the young man arrived with my new computer the following afternoon at the appointed time.  All went well until I discovered that the Microsoft software that I have used over the past 20 years -- the software that was always, in the past, a part of the basic software provided with any new computer -- now must be purchased separately!  So, this meant more money for me to pay and another visit to schedule with the store.

My final appointment was scheduled for 9 a.m. yesterday, Saturday, and another nice, young man arrived promptly at 9 and stayed until everything was done to my satisfaction. All my software is now installed.  As well, after a lengthy conversation with my Internet provider, my email account is back open and functioning normally -- although I hope no one expects any answers to their emails of the past week any time soon!

I must say that it has been one of the strangest weeks in recent memory as it is the first time I have been without a computer for more years than I can recall at the moment.  It felt almost like there had been another death in my family. Fortunately, I am now once again part of the "computer generation" and, thus, am able to publish my Sunday blog posting as usual.  I will admit, however, that this is the only thing I have done on my new computer since I got it set up yesterday afternoon and it is likely to be the only thing I will do on my new computer until tomorrow.  I am still just too tired.

This is how I am feeling at the moment!

Wishing all my U.S. readers a Happy Thanksgiving on Thursday and may they and all the rest of us have a safe and happy week.


Sunday, 13 November 2016

Gentiana asclepiadea -- Willow Gentian

"Gentiana asclepiadea -- Willow Gentian Branch in Bloom",
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Gentiana asclepiadea (Willow Gentian) is a species of flowering plant of the genus Gentiana in the family Gentianaceae. It is native to central and eastern Europe and is found, primarily, in mountain woodlands though it does occur in less wooded open pasture occasionally.

Called Willow Gentian for its willow-like leaves and graceful, arching growth, it is one of the larger species within the genus, Gentiana. It produces pairs of leaves, sometimes whorled in threes or fours around particularly vigorous shoots on stems that arch elegantly outward from the base of the plant and grow to between 60–90 cm. (2–3 ft.) in length. Trumpet-shaped, deep blue flowers occur in late summer into autumn. 

The genus name of, Gentiana, comes from the name, Gentius, a 6th-century king of Illyria, who found the roots of the yellow gentian plant to have a healing effect on his malaria-stricken troops. The species name of, asclepiadea, is from the Latin and means “similar to Asclepias”. As you may recall, Asclepiadaceae is the family name for all the milkweed plants and refers, in part, to those plants whose stems, when broken, exude copious amounts of milky juice. This attribute gives rise to the other common name for this plant of Milkweed Gentian.   

For me, the name “Blue Gentian” will always be associated with the painting, of the same name, by the artist, John Singer Sargent. I remember when I came upon a print of this painting for the first time. I just couldn’t stop looking at the richness of the blue colour of the flowers. Personally, I don’t really like the painting that much, but the shades of blue Sargent had achieved in his work have always intrigued me. I wanted to be able to find those same colours and use them in a painting. 

Colour sample from
A few years after I first discovered Sargent’s painting, I began to experiment with working with acrylic paints after a couple of years of working only with oils. As I perused the various tubes of the acrylic paints in the artists’ supply store, I came across one labelled “Blue Gentian”. With great excitement, I added that tube to my purchases. 

I do recall that the painting I completed using that small tube of paint was very satisfying simply because of all the wonderful shades of blue I was able to achieve in it. Unfortunately, that painting, along with many others, has since disappeared during one of the many moves of my lifetime. To this day, however, the name of this beautiful flower always brings back pleasant memories for me.

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


Rònàn recently celebrated a birthday.  His big brother helped him celebrate along with many other family members and their children.  Here are a few photos showing how the brothers shared this event...

The birthday boy and his brother with THE CAKE!  Yum....

Opening presents, whether your own or your brother's, requires
strength, speed and absolute concentration!

The brothers enjoy acting silly with these funny birthday balloons!

The birthday boy finally decides that he'll just have a
wee bit of a lie down after all that excitement!



Suki getting prepared for another nap!
Except for one morning when Suki was determined to have her breakfast at 5:30 a.m., she has been relatively well behaved this past week. I have no idea what happened on Wednesday morning to cause Suki to be so doggedly determined to get me out of bed and into the kitchen so early in the morning.  I can only assume that something awakened her, disturbing her sufficiently so that she couldn't continue resting for another half hour. Whether she was just awake and bored or had suddenly become ravenously hungry, she kept those blinds clattering constantly so that there was no way I could possibly continue sleeping!

Usually, when I yell loudly, Suki stops whatever annoying noise she is making long enough for me to get another 10 minutes or so of sleep -- but not on Wednesday morning.  She just kept it going.
I finally got so frustrated that I threw my pillow at her.  Of course, then I was so uncomfortable that I really had no choice -- I had to get out of bed.

Once I had fed her and she had eaten her fill, Suki jumped into her chair, gave herself a good washing and then settled down to sleep. With just a touch of envy, I watched her as I ate my breakfast and thought about how nice it would be to be able to eat my fill and then go back to bed -- just like Suki.  Sadly, I knew all too well how impossible that was as sleeping during the day or "sleeping in" past my usual getting-up time have been migraine triggers for me all my adult life.

Thankfully, that was the only morning Suki carried on this way. The rest of the week she behaved in her usual fashion. In other words, she did not start her "get-up-campaign" until almost 6 a.m. each day and when I yelled at her, she acted like a snooze-alarm and gave me 10 more minutes of sleep before she started making noise again.  Truly, she is the world's best alarm clock -- and not only is she that, she is also soft, furry and makes a lovely purring sound when she is contented.  And, if you are feeling a bit low, she will notice and will gently jump onto your lap, making you suddenly feel all warm and cozy and not so low at all. 

As for me, I had another week without any appointments so I just stayed at home.  I find it fascinating that I have reached a point in my life where I am utterly content to simply stay in my own home day after day after day!  Once I would have considered such a life to be almost like being in prison; yet, I now find it liberating, even, you might say, freeing.

How on earth could anyone find that being locked in day after day, whether by your own hand or another's, could possibly be "freeing"?  I cannot speak for others, but for me it is freeing because being alone enables me to deal with the constant pain in any crazy way I may see fit.  For example, I can use any distraction technique I can discover without worrying about how it looks to someone else or what others will think of me.  Most of all, it means that when the pain is really bad, I can react to it however I wish. I can yell, swear, curse or cry and I never have to worry about offending anyone with my language, having to explain my behaviour to anyone or, worst of all, feeling as though I have to put on a brave face for someone's benefit.

Wishing you all the best in the week ahead...


Sunday, 6 November 2016

Lilium catesbaei - Catesby’s Pine Lily

"Lilium catesbaei -- Catesby’s Pine Lily", drawing by 
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about the pine tree and mixed growth forests of Alabama -- the kinds of trees that surrounded the home where I spent most of my growing-up years.  As I recall the many happy hours I spent out in those woods, I also remember all the creatures I saw and the many wild flowers I found.  One of those wild flowers was the Pine Lily -- always easy to recognize with its bright orange colour and the backward-curving petals. 

Lilium catesbaei, commonly known as Pine Lily or Catesby's lily, is native to the wet pine woods and savannas throughout the southeastern United States, usually found growing in damp areas from Louisiana to Virginia. 

Lilium catesbaei requires hot, wet, acidic soil inhospitable to most other lily species. Producing a single flower, it blooms from late spring until late in the year – depending on the geographic location. The flower is upright with 6 tepals (petals and sepals that look very similar). The tepals are curved backward and are bright orange toward the tip, yellow with purplish-brown-spots toward the base. 

It is resident to open habitats that routinely become very wet to saturated during the summer rainy season -- places such as the flat pine woods of north Florida, south Georgia and south Alabama. This species is primarily pollinated by a native species of swallowtail butterfly. Loss of their specific habitat is the principal threat to the species.

The genus name, Lilium, is Latin for “lily”. The specific name of, catesbaei, is derived from the name of Mark Catesby, an 18th century English naturalist and botanical collector.

If I still had the ability to paint these flowers on a canvas, I would be able to show you what it really looks like when you come across one or two of these lilies as you are walking through the shade of a pine tree forest.  The colours are so bright that they seem to have a light within, brightening up the shadows like a candle flame. 

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


Suki playing with two of her favourite "mice"!
Well, Miss Suki did something this week that she hasn't done for over a year now: She went into her toy basket, pulled out two of her favourite toy mice and began to push and chase them around the apartment!

Truly, I watched her in amazement as she pushed one of the toy mice along the hardwood floor with just enough force to make it slightly slide under the sofa.  Next, she begin walking alongside the sofa, casually strolling past the place where the toy mouse was "hiding".  Then, just as she reached the location of the hidden mouse, she would turn quickly, stick both front paws under the sofa and pull out the hapless mouse. Grabbing the poor stuffed mouse by her teeth, she then proceeded to shake the mouse so vigorously that I thought the tail would surely fly off!

She begin playing this way on Tuesday morning and has continued to do so almost every day since.  True, her play times only last for about 20 minutes a day, but when you compare that to all the months she has been so inactive -- in too much pain to even jump up onto some of her favourite chairs -- then I think this is pretty amazing.

I am not sure if there has been a bit of healing of her ruptured ligament or if the pain medication is suddenly working better, but, whatever is going on, I do hope it continues.  Until Suki begin feeling better this week, I had not realized how much I was struggling with her each day as I watched her painfully trying to maneuver herself from the floor to the seat of a chair so that she could settle down for one of her much-needed naps.

If these signs of decreased pain continue then I will ask the vet about the possibility of decreasing Suki's medication.  I will keep you informed of Miss Suki's progress in this important matter.


As for keeping you informed about my progress, I will say that this past week has been a bit easier for me as well.  I think I have fully recovered now from my reaction to the flu shot and I do not seem to be any worse for the experience.

I am grateful for the emails I received regarding my comments about my health in last week's blog posting.  You are all very gracious and I thank you for your kind words.

The general consensus seems to be that if I am not well enough to post weekly, then I should continue to post only when I am able -- maybe once every two weeks or once a month.  This makes perfect sense.  

This solution, however, is complicated by my own desire to lose myself each day in some kind of art work. When I am able to do this, I, obviously, end up drawing something.  Every drawing, remember, involves my taking time to research the object I am trying to create. So, by the time I finish, I have all this information, along with the completed drawing AND the desire to share this with my friends.  The easiest way to do this is to publish it in my blog.

I have been able to keep myself from posting more than once a week for several years now, but I really don't know if I could cut back even more.  The only thing that will slow me down or stop me, I think, is when my hands are no longer able to create the pictures I see in my head.  

So, for the time being, I am going to try to continue to post a weekly drawing along with a bit of news about Suki.  I have, however, decided to stop posting the Sunday gospel with an appropriate drawing. This way, I will have one less piece of art work to try to complete each week.

Wishing you all a good week...


Sunday, 30 October 2016

Echeveria agavoides 'Romeo'

"Mandala -- Echeveria agavoides 'Romeo' ", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

I decided to portray today's featured drawing in the style of a mandala.  The centre of the mandala shows the leaves of Echeveria agavoides 'Romeo' as they usually appears by early summer. Notice the 5-pointed star that Mother Nature provided as the central point. The bunches of blossoms placed in the four corners represent E. agavoides blossoms which occur in late spring and early summer. The flowers are found growing at the end of long stalks high above the rosette formed by the leaves.

Echeveria agavoides
Echeveria agavoides is a species of flowering plant in the Crassulaceae (plants with thick leaves like succulents) Family. These plants, native to rocky areas of Mexico, are stemless, star-shaped rosettes of fat leaves up to 20 cm in diameter. They are often solitary, growing offsets only slowly or not at all. Some forms have reddish tips and some forms have slightly red to very red margins. 

Agave attenuata
Source: Fox Tail Agave Seeds by SmartSeeds on Etsy  

The genus name of Echeveria is used to honour Anastasio Echeverria y Godoy, an 18th century Spanish botanist. The specific name of “agavoides” means “looking like an agave plant” [Agave is a genus of succulents native to the hot and arid regions of Mexico and the Southwestern United States.] 

Many hybrids have been created from E. agavoides in order to obtain more brightly colored flowers or leaves. An example of one such cultivar is the subject of today’s featured drawing: Cheveria agavoides ‘Romeo’

This succulent forms clumps of individual rosettes that are around 6 inches tall by 8 to 12 inches wide with red wine coloured leaves with darker red edges showing the occasional bit of green. The red flowers, slightly smaller than other Echeveria agavoides cultivars, have a greenish-yellow interior and bloom in the spring through early summer. The leaves are not as pointed as the other forms so it is less “agave like”. The colour however can, sometimes, be amazing as it ranges from rosy-red to aubergine (the colour of eggplant).

Below is an "enhanced" image of today's featured drawing:

"Mandala -- Echeveria agavoides 'Romeo' Enhanced"
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

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


Halloween Greeting from Suki and Sallie

I won't be telling you any new stories about Suki this week. Rather, I need to write about the possibility that I may be reaching the point where I can no longer continue to publish this blog posting each week.

The fact is, I almost did not publish anything this week.  I had not planned to use the Echeveria mandala as a featured drawing.  It was one of those drawing that I completed but had not felt inclined to post as I was far from satisfied with the result.  

However, on Tuesday morning, I got my flu shot in preparation for this winter's onslaught of flu bugs.  I have only had one bad reaction to the flu shot and that was almost 20 years ago now so I really wasn't prepared for the next three days of discomfort.  My symptoms consisted, mainly, of a swollen and itchy arm, really bad headaches and extreme exhaustion.  

I was certain that I was going to have to post a notice on my blog saying "sorry, but I hope to be feeling better next week". Thankfully, however, I began to feel a bit better yesterday and so am able to at least publish a little something today.

The reason all of this unpleasantness has led to my need to discuss the future of "Salliesart" is that this extra illness piled on top of everything else has made me very aware of all the many problems I have been dealing with these past months. I have been "suffering through" a number of new aches and pains without admitting to myself (or others) that my disabilities, and the problems they cause, are worsening rapidly.

Too often now, the pain caused by the dying nerves in my feet and legs becomes almost intolerable and the only way I know to escape is by taking the extra pain medication that I am allowed at such times.  This means that I end up sleeping away the night and half the day.  

Then when that pain has eased for a while, I try to keep up with any important email correspondence, deal with my bank account, pay my bills, etc.  After that, if I have any energy and/or interest left, I can spend some time losing myself in my art work. Finally, if I have any strength left at all, I try to take a quick look at Facebook in order to see what the children of my niece and nephew are doing these days.

Of course, this obviously means that there is much time for drawing and such so that I reach Sunday without having had the time or energy to produce anything new.  Thus, I am then forced to try to find some older, unsatisfactory drawing and whip it into shape in time for Sunday's submission.

Unless something changes rather radically, I can see the day approaching when I will no longer have any new art work to show you at all.  Perhaps, when such a time arrives, I could plan to publish every other week or even once a month.  Of course, the more time that elapses between postings, the more likely many of my followers and regular readers are to lose interest. Eventually, I may well end up posting a blog only for myself.

At any rate, I felt this was a matter that I wanted to go ahead and write about to you folks.  In fact, I would like to know if you have any comments or opinions about what I should do regarding the future of my blog.  If so, please feel free to write to me at my address. 

You can, of course, always post comment on the blog itself, but I have often found that people, particularly those who want to say something of a personal nature, feel more comfortable writing directly to me.  As usual, if you say something in your email that I think would be good to share with everyone, I would get your permission before posting it anywhere.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Happy Halloween!


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