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.
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SUKI AND SALLIE


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.  

Peace.





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TWENTY-SIXTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME







"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.
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SUKI AND SALLIE





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.







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TWENTY-FIFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME





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


GOSPEL 


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 
www.strangewonderfulthings.com  
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, 
https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25209566]

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.
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BRADEN AND RÒNÀN 





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 AND SALLIE



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.







__________________________________




TWENTY-FOURTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME






"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

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Carolina Allspice

"Carolina Allspice -- Calycanthus x raulstoni", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016



Calycanthus raulstonii (Family: Calycanthaceae) is commonly known as Carolina allspice, Raulston’s allspice or sweetshrub. It is a large, rounded shrub which typically grows to a size of between 8’ to 10’ both in height and width. 

This species is the result of a cross between Calycanthus chinensis and Calycanthus floridus. It produces mildly fragrant maroon flowers in spring and early summer. The leaves range in colour from light green to bright olive green until the fall when they turn buttery yellow. 

The genus name comes from the Greek words: 

  1. κάλυκας, meaning “covering”; the transliteration is calyx;
  2. ανθοσ, meaning flower or blossom; the transliteration is anthos

The specific epithet honours the late J.C Raulston of the North Carolina State University Arboretum who was one of those who helped develop this plant until his death in 1996.

‘Hartlage Wine’ was named after student, Richard Hartlage, who crossed Sinocalycanthus chinensis (Chinese species) with Calycanthus floridus (U.S. species) in 1991 at the JC Raulston Arboretum at North Carolina State University. 

Although today’s featured plant, Carolina Allspice, and several other plants are commonly known as “allspice”, they actually do not have any direct botanical relationship with the plant from which we get the condiment known as Allspice. 



The Real Allspice -- Pimenta dioica 
Real allspice comes from the dried, unripe fruit of Pimenta dioica, a mid-canopy tree native to the Greater Antilles, southern Mexico and Central America. The fruits are picked when green and unripe and are traditionally dried in the sun. When the fruits are dry, they are brown and resemble large, brown, smooth peppercorns. 



Dried, unripe fruit of Pimenta dioica -- 
Allspice
The name 'allspice' was coined as early as 1621 by the English, who thought this spice combined the flavours of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Allspice went on to become one of the most important ingredients of Caribbean cuisine. As well, allspice is indispensable to Middle Eastern cuisine where it is used to flavour a variety of stews and meat dishes. 

In the U.S., it is used mostly in desserts, but it is also responsible for giving Cincinnati-style chili its distinctive aroma and flavour. Allspice is commonly used in Great Britain and appears in many dishes, including cakes. Even in many countries where allspice is not very popular in the household, as in Germany, it is used in large amounts by commercial sausage makers. It is also one of the main flavourings used in barbecue sauces.





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





Changes are in store for my boys...  Next week, Braden begins JK (Junior Kindergarten) and for the first time, Ro, will be without his brother by his side at play school.  Changes ... life is full of them!

Below is a photo of a moment during their last day together at play school.



Braden and Ro on their last day together at play school




______________________________________




SUKI AND SALLIE



Suki Sleeping
I just checked and, yes, Suki is sound asleep in my recliner!  I will never understand why it is so very important to her that she grab my chair as soon as I vacate it each morning!

I mean, these days, she always goes and settles down on the seat of the wing-back chair just after she finishes eating her breakfast. Once she has given herself a good face and paw cleansing, she curls up and appears to fall into a deep sleep. However, I have learned over time that she is only pretending to sleep soundly and is, in fact, listening carefully to my every movement.  I say this because the moment I begin to make any noises that might suggest that I have finished my morning coffee and am in the process of getting out of my recliner to head for the computer room, Suki's eyes are instantly open and looking at me.  

As I have told you previously, the moment I am actually rising from the chair, here comes Suki, darting under me in order to lie down on the seat I have just vacated.  Once there, she will not move again until about 11:30 when she begins her campaign to get me to give her lunch just a bit early!  

Interestingly, Suki shows absolutely no interest in getting onto my chair during the afternoon or evening.  Of course, that could be because I am using it much of the time during the P.M. part of the day. However, there are moments when I am out of the chair for short periods of time during the afternoon and evening, but she never even makes any effort to usurp my domain.

How I wish I could see things from her perspective for just a few moments at least.  Maybe then I could begin to understand some of her more peculiar behaviours -- or maybe I would just end up more confused than ever!

As to the health of Suki and myself, we both remain about the same. The medications we are taking seem to be working as well as possible. Well enough, that is, so that Suki is able to jump up onto her various sleeping locations each day. Well enough so that I am able to keep moving so long as I "walk with my eyes" and have my walker or some other solid object in hand.

I did have one very lengthy medical appointment this past week with the ophthalmologist. Unpleasantly, the appointment included getting those "dilation drops" in my eyes. This meant that I could not focus clearly on anything for the remaining hour and a half that I spent at the eye clinic nor for the next couple of hours after getting back home.  As it turns out, the glaucoma has gotten worse and so I am being sent for more tests.  Do any of you notice a certain pattern to the events that occur in my life? Just asking...

One happy event occurred yesterday when two friends came by for a visit.  The lady of the couple has been a very dear friend since the early 1990s and I see her all too seldom these days as she has become disabled as well.  So, it was a wonderful treat to actually communicate with her and her companion in person instead of over the phone or through email and Facebook. Since it was a lovely summer's day, we went up to the member's roof garden where we sat in the shade and had a lively discussion for almost two hours. At that point, I knew I had reached my limit and needed to return to my place to rest.

Suki and I wish all of you a safe and happy Labour Day weekend!    










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TWENTY-THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME





"Icon -- Carry Your Cross and Follow Me",
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, rev. 2016




Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.  Luke 14:25-33


Sunday, 28 August 2016

Peonies

"Paeonia 'Red' -- Peonies", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016






The peony is a flowering plant in the genus, Paeonia, the only genus in the family, Paeoniaceae. The plant is native to Asia (mainly China) with some species being found in Europe and Western North America. At present, there are 33 known species. Most of these are herbaceous perennials, but some are woody shrubs. They have compound leaves and large, often fragrant flowers, in colors ranging from red to white or yellow. Peonies are among the most popular garden plants in temperate regions. 

Both the proper name, Paeonia, and the common name, Peony, come from the Old English word, peonie. These names originated with the Greek word, Παιών, (Paeon in English script) which was the name of the physician who looked after the gods and goddesses of Greek mythology. 

There are two common myths about how the peony came into being: 

In the first account, we are told that Paeon was a student of Asclepius, the god of medicine and healing. He was once instructed by Leto (Apollo's mother and goddess of fertility) to obtain a magical root growing on Mount Olympus that would soothe the pain of women during childbirth. Asclepius became jealous and threatened to kill his pupil. Zeus saved Paeon from the wrath of Asclepius by turning him into the peony flower. 


[In ancient times, peony seeds were, in fact, used by pregnant women who believed that they did, indeed, soothe the pains of childbearing. In fact, during centuries past, peony seeds were used to soothe the pains of childbearing. As well, the plant’s roots and seeds were believed to cure over twenty diseases including epilepsy and snake bites. In England, very young children once wore peony root necklaces to prevent seizures and help soothe the pain of teething.] 

In the other account, both the name and origin of the peony are said to have originated because of a nymph by the name of Paeonia. Paeonia was beautiful and attracted the attention of Apollo, who began to flirt with her. When Paeonia realized that Aphrodite was watching them, she became bashful and embarrassed, blushing a bright red.  In her anger, ever-jealous Aphrodite transforms the nymph into a red peony. This might well be the reason the peony has come to symbolize bashfulness!




"Paeonia 'Pink' -- Peony",
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer
As some of you may recall, this is not my first drawing of peonies. There have, in fact, been a number of other drawings of this plant featured over the past years.  Here is a sampling...






"Paeonia 'Salmon' -- Peony",
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer
















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






"Suki Settles Down for Her Nap"
Today, I had planned to write a bit about some of the silly mischief that Suki still gets into in spite of all her pain. However, after a week of fighting with her about the amount of food she needs, I am going to tell you about her cunningly clever way of trying to get me to feed her all she wants.

You may recall my telling you about the vet's request that I make certain that Suki begin dieting so that she could lose a couple of pounds.  According to the doctor, less weight would mean less pain for Suki as excess weight tends to increase the problems associated with arthritis and ruptured ligaments.

So, I put Suki on a very strict diet of 1/2 a can of her favourite food 4 times each day -- these cans are the small ones, 85 grams in total weight.  For over two months, I forced myself to put up with Suki's begging, pleading, crying for more food.  Even though I wanted to give in many times, I kept reminding myself that I was doing this so that Suki would eventually experience less pain.

After eight weeks, I weighed Miss Suki and was delighted to discover that she had lost 2 pounds! However, while I was pleased with the results, I also realized that I had to make certain now that she did not lose any additional weight. After all, two pounds is a lot of weight loss for a cat whose top weight has only been 13 pounds.

Thus, I began my current project of trying to find the right balance between Suki's desire for food and what she actually needs to stay healthy and lean. I mean, if I listened only to Suki instead of common sense, I would be feeding her at least 4 cans of turkey and gravy every day plus a handful of cat treats every couple of hours! She does like her food.

So, instead of just giving Suki what she craves, I have been offering her a small amount of her favourite dry food after she has finished her breakfast and lunch portions of the turkey and gravy.  She is very fond of this dry food and would eat quite a bit of it each day back when I left a bowl of it out for her to "graze" anytime she felt like it.

Somehow, now that I am offering Suki this additional food, she has made the assumption that this means that I must have been influenced by all her "begging, pleading, crying" -- although it took two months for me to react. So, instead of being satisfied and appreciative because I am now giving her a bit more food each day, Suki has actually increased her efforts to manipulate me into returning the amount of food available to her each day to those pre-dieting amounts.

Suki's latest tactic in her fight to win this food war is so extreme that she is now putting both our lives at risk.  Don't laugh, I am not exaggerating.  Once I explain what she is doing, you will see just how serious her behaviour has become. Now, let me tell you just what she is doing.

At mealtime, I always give Suki her food first so that she leaves me alone while I prepare my own food.  Although she finishes her meal before I finish my activities in the kitchen, she has, in the past, usually gone elsewhere after completing her meal to give herself her after-eating bath.  

These days, however, after finishing her meal, she waits, expectantly, for something additional -- the small bit of the dry food that I give her. After finishing that, she now no longer leaves the kitchen, but begins to follow me around the kitchen the same way she does when she is very hungry.  Do you see the problem here?

As I try to finish the few tasks required in order for me to prepare my own meal, Suki puts us both in danger by following me and then lying down behind me each time I stop.  This means that in order to keep from stepping on the cat with possibly deadly force or to keep from tripping on the cat so that I fall with possibly deadly force, I have to remain constantly aware of Suki's whereabouts, looking down at the floor carefully before taking any steps at all. This is very difficult for an old lady who easily forgets things.

Because of Suki's behaviour, I have almost fallen a couple of times during this past week.  I have, as well, also stepped on Suki's tail twice and her right, front paw once -- much to her distress I might add!  So, I am trying very hard to teach myself to always remember to look down at my feet before taking a single step when Suki and I are both in the kitchen at the same time. Still, even with my best efforts, I do forget occasionally. 

Thus far, nothing serious has happened, but I fear for the future. It seems that Suki has made the matter of getting her food amounts returned to the pre-dieting days level a matter of life and death.  I actually feel as though she is coercing me into doing what she wants. It seems almost as though she is saying: "give me what I want or risk our lives every time you go into the kitchen!"  But, surely that isn't the case as no cat could be that devious, could they?


As for me, other than having to risk my life four times a day in the kitchen, I am doing much the same.  For the moment, all my medications continue to do their job at their present levels which means that my pain awareness has not increased.

I did have some unexpected visitors this past week -- a dear friend and her daughter.  They phoned on Tuesday afternoon to ask if it would be possible for them to drop by for a visit on Wednesday afternoon.  I, happily, told them to please stop by for a visit which they did the following day.  

I met this friend almost 30 years ago when we did a course of study together.  She was at least 25 years younger, but we became good friends anyhow.  I have watched over the years as she met and then married a great guy, had a daughter and then raised that daughter, with her husband, so that today she is a lovely, young woman just about to enter her second year of university.  It was really good to see them again.

This coming week I have an appointment with the ophthalmologist and I am not looking forward to it.  I am pretty certain that I will get scolded rather badly for being a non-compliant patient -- in other words, I haven't been using the drops that will keep my eyes from getting worse.  Well, what can I say ... the drops make my eyes burn for a long time after I put them in.  In fact, sometimes the drops cause so much discomfort that I can't do anything for hours afterwards except keep my eyes shut.  How can I do any art work with my eyes shut?  

Oh, well, what can I say other than my usual ... c'est la vie!





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TWENTY-SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME





"Icon -- Christ the Teacher", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, rev. 2015




On the Sabbath, Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees and the people there were observing him carefully. He told a parable to those who had been invited, noticing how they were choosing the places of honour at the table.
“When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor. A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him, and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then you would proceed with embarrassment to take the lowest place. Rather, when you are invited, go and take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you he may say, ‘My friend, move up to a higher position.’ Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table. For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Then he said to the host who invited him, “When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Luke 14:1, 7-14


Sunday, 21 August 2016

Agastache 'Blue' and Bumblebee

"Agastache 'Blue' and Bumblebee", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016




This drawing should actually be named "Agastache 'Blue' and Bumblebee for Michael" since I did the drawing at the request of my friend, Michael. Let me explain...

A couple of weeks ago, Michael sent me a photo of what appeared to be a flowering, spiky plant of the genus, Agastache.  Visible in the photo was a portion of one spike with a bee busily at work on one of the flowers.  The photo came with the question...  did I think that I would be able to do a drawing for him of a flowering spike, including the bumblebee.  Since I love a challenge, I said "yes" and here, some days later, is the first draft.  

I have just sent a copy of this first attempt to my friend, Michael.  I will let you know in my next posting what he has to say about it and what kind of changes he may want me to make.

Now, here is just a bit of information on the genus, Agastache.

Agastache (also known as giant hyssop) is a genus of fragrant, flowering plants in the family, Lamiaceae. The majority of species are native to North America with one member of the genus being found in eastern Asia. 

Most species of Agastache are upright with stiff, angular stems clothed in toothed-edged, lance shaped leaves. Upright spikes of tubular flowers develop at the stem tips in summer. The flowers are usually white, pink, mauve, or purple and are very attractive to bees. Leaf tips can be eaten and made into teas. 

Agastache comes from the ancient Greek, ἄγαν, meaning “very much” plus, στάχυς, meaning “ear of corn”, so called on account of the multiple flowering spikes of the plant. Thus, Agastache is said to mean "many spikes".




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




Here are a few new photos of Rònàn and Braden.  Enjoy!


Braden and Ro working on the wrestling routines.
"Hey, guys, wasn't Braden supposed to end up on top?"





Braden reads to his little brother, Rònàn 





Braden and Rònàn, brothers.







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SUKI AND SALLIE





Here is the poster I made for
"Black Cat Appreciation Day",
August 17th, 2016
I hope some of you knew it was Black Cat Appreciation Day on the 17th of August and took a moment to say a kind word to a black cat of your acquaintance!

I did not even know there was such a thing as Black Cat Appreciation Day until I saw a posting about it on Facebook on the 18th of August!  So, obviously, I was not able to do something special for Suki on her special day.  I begged her forgiveness and told her that I have posted a reminder in my date book in the note section for 2017. Next year, therefore, I shall do something special for Suki on that day -- maybe even make her a turkey and gravy "cake"!

As for how Suki is doing otherwise, let me just say that she continues to manage reasonably well within her limitations. Let me explain...

Although she continues to jump up onto her favourite chairs and onto the bed, I notice that she no longer jumps up onto the top of her scratching post -- she used to love to sit there and observe her world from that vantage point. Nor does she ever stand on her hind legs and lean into the post to sharpen her front claws as she did for so many years. 

As well, I have noticed that she no longer tries to play with any of her toys, all of which would require that she push and chase while standing on all fours.  She will still play with a ribbon if I hold it over her while she is lying down, but she no longer even tries to jump up and grab things.  Even the little laser light cannot get her moving.  She will try to grab the light, but she does so while continuing to lie down.

So, while her medication appears to be masking the pain well enough so that she can do the basics -- eat, use the litter box and jump up onto the places where she prefers to sleep -- she still must be in enough pain so that she is unwilling to be any more active than is absolutely necessary.

I, also, continue to manage reasonably well within my limitations! At present, the levels of pain medication that I am taking do mask the pain reasonably well -- most of the time.  My doctor has recommended a natural sleep remedy which seems to be working reasonably well -- well enough that is so that I am usually able to fall asleep before my awareness of the pain takes over and keeps me from getting any sleep at all (those are very bad nights).

I continue to be able to move the computer mouse easily enough so that for a few hours each morning I can work on my art projects before the activity begins to get too painful. In the afternoon, I continue to be able to find new movies and TV series to stream which keep me lost in various stories, seldom consciously aware of the pain, until it is time for bed.  Thus my life goes on...

As for any special activities scheduled for me in the week ahead, there is only one -- an appointment with one of my many doctors for prescription renewals and follow-up.  Not very exciting, but necessary. Otherwise, it looks as though it will be a very normal and quiet week for me -- my favourite kind....
    




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TWENTY-FIRST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME






"Strive to enter through the narrow gate...", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016





Jesus passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” He answered them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, ‘Lord, open the door for us.’ He will say to you in reply, ‘I do not know where you are from. And you will say, ‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’ Then he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!’ And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out. And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God. For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” Luke 13:22-30