Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Freesia and Springtime

If you have got a very good memory, you might recall that I said, back on March 10th, that I had a third Freesia drawing to show you.  Well, here it is!

This variety is called Freesia lava (pink form) of the Family, Iridaceae.  If you want more information about Freesia, take a look at the posting for the 10th. 

Next I want to show you a couple of things that remind me of springtime.

First is this quick sketch I did recently of two lambs.

I saw a photo of lambs and it made me think of Easter and spring and so I decided to sketch a couple of them. I took a few liberties such as giving them smiles -- hope you don't mind.

I have been on a farm during lambing season and the baby lambs are truly adorable.  However, I also know how maddening it can be to watch them when they get separated from their mothers.  They bleat and the mothers call -- back and forth they go, seemingly forever, until they finally find one another.  Then after the lamb nurses furiously for a time, the mother, continuing to graze, gradually moves away from the lamb.  Soon the lamb notices that mother is no longer there and begins to to bleat loudly once again.  So it goes on and on until you wish desperately for really good ear plugs!

[Copyright Jay Thaxton]

Finally, there is this photograph that an acquaintance sent to me recently.

The photo was taken recently just outside Asheville, North Carolina and shows all the signs of springtime.  It actually looks a lot like the area where I grew up in Alabama.  The hills were not quite as high, but, otherwise, everything else seems familiar.  Just looking at this picture takes me back in time and reminds me of what the earth, air and sky were like at this time of year.  It is so beautiful when the earth awakens each spring. 

We are supposed to be having almost summer-like weather by the weekend here in Toronto so I am sure all the plants and trees will be busy trying to bloom.  It should be a totally beautiful Easter.

Peace be with you all.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Wild Ginger

Let me introduce you to Wild Ginger also known as Canadian Snakeroot.  Its formal name is Asarum canadense of the Family Aristolochiaceae.  I just call it Canadian Wild Ginger.

When you are walking in moist woods, valleys and ravines and suddenly smell the scent of ginger, then you know you are probably walking in a patch of Wild Ginger and you have crushed some leaves underfoot.

Although this wild plant is not related to the ginger you buy in the market, it does have the smell of ginger and was used for centuries in native cooking in much the same way that regular ginger is used.

Like most plants, it was used not only as a seasoning, but also as a medicinal herb by the Native Americans. They, in turn, introduced the European settlers to it, teaching them to add it to certain foods while they were being cooked and then using the roots to make a tea to aid with digestion.  The Iroquois used the roots to treat scarlet fever, colds, urinary disorders and headaches.  Other Native groups used the plant for heart trouble and blood disorders while the cooked root was put into the ear for ear-aches and sore ears.  As well, if the root was cooked with foods such as Mud Catfish, the flavour was improved so that an unpalatable fish went down more easily. 

The leaves are a bit hairy and roughly heart shaped while the flowers range in colour from purple to reddish-brown.  They tend to grow very close to the ground and in the right conditions Canadian Wild Ginger will spread rapidly.  I had a difficult time trying to capture the hairy character of the plant, but, hopefully, I was able to create an impression of hairiness.  
Next, I want to show you what I did with the well-known drawing of miz k.d.  As you can see below, I used it to create a drawing that looks somewhat like Suki (the new cat). 

The reason for doing this is to enable me to use the two drawings, side by side, as my logo.  

Those of you who have purchased either one or both of my paperbacks may have noticed that on the back cover there is a place that says "Colouration Books" and next to that is a small print of the miz k.d. drawing.  In the future, I want to have both cats, facing, side by side, each picture about the size of the first joint of your "baby" finger.  I think it will make an effective logo.  I haven't actually set it up yet, but when I do, I will show you exactly what I mean by including a copy in a future posting.  

May peace be with you.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Another Lilium plus Pandas

Well, I just can't seem to stop drawing the flowers of the genus, Lilium -- the true lilies.  This one is named Lilium primulinum var.  I think this name means that it may be a hybrid -- interbreeding between two species -- but I am not sure.  Anyway, I really like the way it looks although it is rather different in appearance from the more traditional "true" lilies.  

I have come across several other species that I really like so, be warned, their will probably be more Lilium drawings!

Now, using photos that my friend, Eugene, sent to me, I want to tell you a story about the "Cloistered Panda Nuns"...

Here we see the whole community of Panda Nuns fervently at prayer, early in the morning.  They are all dressed in their traditional black and white habit.

Following prayers, the nuns make their way to the refectory (dining room) where they prepare to eat their morning meal of one bamboo shoot each.  Here the Mother Superior leads the nuns in prayer, saying:  "Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts..."

Next the sisters each go to their private prayer corners where today they are busy preparing themselves for participating in the weekly celebration of the Sacrament of Confession.  Here we see Sr. Patricia "Patty" Panda deeply immersed in her examination of conscience.

Soon it is Sr. Patty Panda's turn to enter the confessional where Fr. Peter Panda is waiting.  As he acknowledges her presence, Sr. Patty says:  "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned..."  For the remainder of her confession, we leave it "locked" within the seal of the confessional.

After completing her confession and receiving her penance, Sr. Patty returns to the chapel where she spends much of the remainder of the morning deep in contemplative prayer.  While it may appear that Sr. Patty is sleeping, she assured me that she was truly hard at work, praying for all her sisters and all the Pandas throughout the world -- especially those locked in cages in zoos!

Afternoon brings recreation time.  As you can see, the nuns really like to loosen up as they get their daily exercise while playing on the convent grounds.  Exercise is a very important aspect of the cloistered life of the Panda Nuns as they tend to be a bit roly-poly!

Finally it is time for the evening meal.  Sr. Patty has to stop to remind one of the novices that slurping noises are not allowed in the refectory.

The day is complete and now it is time for bed.  Sr. Patricia gratefully lays her head down on her pillow and falls asleep saying her bedtime prayer:  "Now I lay me down to sleep..."  

Silence falls over the convent -- other than the sound of the occasional snore.  All is at peace.

And I wish that peace may be with all of you.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Repeats and Horses

This first drawing is another example of the genus Dietes -- of the family Iridaceae.  This particular one is called Dietes grandiflora.

I spoke about this genus back on March 2nd when I posted a drawing of Dietes bicolour.  You may recall me saying that the genus name Dietes is derived from the Greek "dis" which means twice and "etes" which means an associate and is drawing attention to the position of this genus between Moraea and Iris which are its two relatives.

These South African flowers are really spectacular in their detailed beauty. 

The second drawing is of Magnolia blossoms.  You may recall the various times I have shown you other drawings of both the northern Magnolia blossoms (the above drawing is an example of that) and the southern Magnolia blossoms.  

I grew up in a part of the world where magnolia blossoms, with their creamy white petals and heavy, sweet fragrance, are found growing in very large trees.  I have drawn some of these blossoms in the past.  

When I first arrived in Canada and saw some smallish trees with purple-white blossoms, sticky petals and almost no scent, I was amazed when I was informed that these were magnolia trees!  I have since learned to enjoy these magnolia trees just as I once enjoyed those southern ones -- increasingly aware of the infinite variety of Creation.

Now on to tonight's photographs.  

I am on the mailing list of a photographer named Jay.  Jay lives, I think, in the area of Aiken, South Carolina which is horse breeding country.  A beautiful area of the southern U.S. with its forests of long-leafed pine trees and numerous lakes.  Jay often posts photos of events on one of the many horse "farms".  Recently, he sent me two photographs which I found particularly interesting. 

[Copyright Jay Thaxton]
This first photo shows some two-year-olds playing like colts.  Jay's comment was "these two-year-olds were at it all morning ... I have never seen anything like it."    They remind me of kittens who have been rolling in the catnip!

[Copyright Jay Thaxton]
This second photo is the one I find most amazing.  Jay said this photo was taken the day after these youngsters had run the Steeplechase.

I had no idea that horses were allowed to lie down like this as part of their recovery after a period of extreme exertion, but obviously that must be the case.  I would imagine that the spring sunshine and the warm sand would feel especially good on aching muscles.


So, may peace be with you and all of God's creation.

Monday, 22 March 2010

A Bear Story!

Tonight's artistic offering is a drawing of an orchid.  

I will probably be showing you a few more drawings of orchids as I find myself being drawn into the complex beauty of these unusual flowers.  I hope you enjoy this drawing and any other orchid drawings I may do.

Now for a Bear Story!

Here we see a "single, white female" who is looking for a mate.  You have to admit that she is quite beautiful.  I don't think she is going to have any difficulty finding just the right Mr. Polar Bear!

Here we see two male polar bears.  They have noticed the beautiful, young female and they know she is looking for a mate.  Here we see them fighting over which one will be chosen by this lovely lady -- only one can win her heart.

Some time later our beautiful female shows up at a gathering of the Bear clans with a sure sign that she is no longer single -- she is now the mother of a handsome, young polar bear.  He seems to be asking: "Is that really my father?  Wow!"

And so the cycle of life continues.

May peace be with us all.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

True Lilies -- Lilium II

Tonight I want to show you some additional drawings I have done of plants in the Genus, Lilium.  You may recall my describing this group of "true lilies" a few postings ago.  Now I have completed two more.

The first drawing I want to point out [see above] is the species Lilium 'Gran Paradiso'.

One well known member of this genus is the species Lilium candidum or the Canada Lily -- a plant most of us are familiar with.  There are a number of plants whose names include the word "lily", but unlike those in the genus, Lilium, they are not real lilies.

Remember, the genus, Lilium, are herbaceous flowering plants growing from bulbs.  Most species are native to the temperate northern hemisphere.  They comprise a genus of about 110 species in the lily family (Liliaceae).  Some species are sometimes grown or harvested for the edible bulbs. 

This second drawing is of Lilium rubescens.

I think that is probably the last "lilium" drawing I will be doing for a while.

I came across some paintings by the artist, Anton Gorevich, recently.  I really delight in the whimsical nature of his work.  A friend sent me a pps of his art and I wish I could show you more than just this one image.  I chose this one, obviously, because of the cat plus the almost "Alice in Wonderland" presentation.  If you ever have a chance, take a look at more of his work.

Speaking of cats (see how cleverly I was able to sneak that in there!), Suki is doing very well, but I am exhausted!  She is quite the kitty!

May peace be with you.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Childhood and Fantasy

Here is a sketch I did recently of a young girl eating cherries.  The only part of the drawing I am really pleased with is the girl's right arm and hand reaching for another cherry.

While working on this drawing, however, I started trying to recall the few happy memories I have of childhood.  As I was thinking about these things, I came across the following photograph.  

This little girl sitting with her dog on her suitcase while staring into the distance seemed to symbolize my childhood -- my growing up in the country.  There was even a gravel road up to our house.

What I used to do so often when I felt so lonely, isolated and imprisoned was lose myself in fantasy tales of my own creation.  Sometimes I would use the animals and trees around me as a starting place while, at other times, I would see a picture in a book or magazine that would inspire me to start another story in my head.  The type of pictures that would definitely have inspired me are the two that follow.

This image would have been a wonderful starting place.  I could have been watching for my beloved to come home or waiting for the attacking army to arrive.  Or, I could have been imprisoned for my faith like the stories of the saints.  The possibilities seem almost endless.

A ruined castle on a small island in the middle of a lake, surrounded by barren mountains -- what marvellous stories could be created about what happened to the people who once lived there.

Strangely enough, I have never had any inclination to write down these stories.  When it comes to writing, as you are aware, I am only interested in non-fiction.

Well, that is enough of this non-fiction piece of writing for tonight.  Suki is already sleeping and I hope to be doing the same fairly soon.  I have to get to bed early these days as she thinks 5 a.m. is the proper time for me to get up in the morning!

May peace be with you all.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Signs of Spring

Spring is very much in my thoughts tonight after an unusually warm day filled with sunshine.  I was actually outside today without a jacket and felt perfectly comfortable!  So I have chosen some items to show you that speak to me of springtime.

First is my drawing (above) of pink Dogwood blossoms.  Growing up in the southern U.S., Dogwood trees were one of the early signs of spring.  Almost before any other trees were showing leaves, the Dogwood trees would be in bloom.  

I can recall standing on top of the hill on which our house was located and looking over the woods that surrounded us and seeing these beautiful, slender trees breaking into bloom.  My heart would always be filled with joy at the sight of those bright trees amidst all the winter grey.

Another sign of spring, of course, are animals giving birth to babies.  I heard from my vet this past weekend (she was here to give Suki her first checkup) that all the kittens that she was aware of being born recently were already spoken for -- thank goodness.  Below are two photos a friend sent me that show another animal that was born recently!

While it would be very exciting to see a baby moose born in your front yard, I would think it might create a bit of a problem if you wanted to get into or out of your house! 

I have no idea what happened after these photos were taken, but, hopefully, mother and baby soon moved on back into the forest!

We have had such an easy winter in Toronto and now we are experiencing a week of spring-like weather.  It is supposed to get cooler again on the weekend, but I am hoping that we don't get one of those freakish, late-March snowstorms.  Many of the spring flowers are already poking their heads above ground.

Suki continues to do well although she still can't get through the night without waking me up and asking me to play!  Groan.  Where do these youngsters get all that energy?

May the peace of God be with you all.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Floral Repeats

Another Freesia is tonight's first drawing.  

I posted the information about Freesia plants in the entry for March 10, 2010 so take a look there if you want more information about these beautiful flowers.

Next is another true lily.  This one is known as Lilium callosum.  

The information about the  genus, Lilium, was posted on the 12th of March -- the posting previous to this one -- so take a look there if you want to refresh your memory.

[Copyright Jay Thaxton]
And for tonight's funny "foto", I want to show you this young man.  

I laugh every time I look at the expression on his face underneath that funny hat.  Then I sit and wonder what is going on with our modern "coachman".  All sorts of possibilities come to mind from boredom to a bad case of prickly heat.  What do you think?
Although Suki continues to do well, I did have to call in the vet to take a look at her on Saturday.  Basically, she is quite healthy, but, unfortunately, she does appear to have worms!  She was treated for worms when she first came into the Humane Society back last November, but after four months of incarceration, it is not surprising that she needs treating again.  Thankfully, this is a situation that is easily treated -- it just takes a bit of time.

May peace be with you all.

Friday, 12 March 2010

True Lilies -- Lilium

The most familiar of the true lilies is the Tiger Lily (see my drawing above).  The Latin name is Lilium lancifolium, genus, Lilium and family, Liliaceae.

Although this plant is now cultivated in many countries (including ours), it is native to northern and eastern Asia, including Japan.

The more ancient form of this plant is known as the "Turk's Cap Lily" (see the drawing below).

Lilium lancifolium, like other true lilies, has flowers borne on an erect stem, clothed with the more or less linear leaves.  It is one of a very small number of species that produce aerial bulblets, known as bulbils, in the leaf axils along the stem. (see below).

Lilium lancifolium is cultivated in Asia for its edible bulbs.  It is also grown as an ornamental plant for its bold flowers and has become naturalized in parts of North America.  While most parts of the plant are edible for humans, the pollen is considered poisonous.  All parts of the plant are toxic to cats, resulting in kidney failure in a few days after eating it.  Therefore, it is not a flower I would want in my home!

For the first time in a while, I am including the "topographic" version of the drawing.  I think this is one time that the topographic effect really works.  I find the resulting picture to be very attractive.

Finally, tonight, I wanted to show you this cute poster I found hiding in one of my older picture files.  Although cloning is not as much in the news these days as it was a few years ago, it is still an issue to be dealt with in the years to come.  At any rate, I think this is poster is cleverly done.

Suki continues to do well.  I am very grateful that she has short legs as now she can only look with longing at all the shelves and cupboards on which she would love to jump -- places that I don't want her getting onto in the first place!

May peace be with you all.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Freesia Plus

Tonight we are having a Freesia Fest with two different drawings of Freesia flowers.  I actually have a third drawing to show you, but will save it for another time as I don't want this posting to be too long.

Although there are many different species of Freesia, I have had a difficult time figuring out which is which.  So, I will just be presenting these as examples of the genus, Freesia.

Freesia, in the family Iridaceae (the iris family), is named after a German physician by the name of Friedrich Heinrich Theodor Freese.  The flowers, with their bell-shaped blooms and sweet, citrus scent, are among the most popular fragrant blossoms.  They are frequently included in wedding bouquets and are listed as the correct flower for celebrating your 7th wedding anniversary.  In the language of flowers, Freesia are said to symbolize innocence and friendship.

While researching these beautiful flowers, I learned a new word, "corm".  A corm is a blub-like plant stem that serves as a storage organ which produces certain flowers such as Freesia.  These plants are perennials growing from a corm. Corms are also known as "bulbo-tubers".

Another word I learned was "zygomorphic" which means that these flowers grow along one side of the stem, in a single plane [see the drawings above].

Freesia, in its numerous varieties, is almost exclusively found wild in the Cape Province of South Africa, with a couple of variants native to tropical Africa with just one species extending north of the equator to Sudan.  Of course, they now occur in many other places through cultivation.  

I never cease to be amazed at the variety of God's creation.  Billions of flowering plants throughout the world and all of them uniquely beautiful in their own way.  God has provided us with beauty to bring joy to our hearts.

Now for an update on Suki the cat!

By the way, I have learned that Suki is a Japanese word which comes from "to like" -- some translations are "Loved One" or "Beloved". So, now I don't want to change the name after all!

Anyway, Suki is doing very well and settling in nicely.  She is a lovely young lady and I think we will be able to get the weight problem under control as she is very interested in playing with her toys and with me.  The only drawback so far is her desire to wash my face at 5 a.m.  For the past two mornings I have finally given in and just gotten up shortly after 5.  She is not asking for food as she has dry food out all the time.  She just seems to think that is the right time for face washing and purring!  

May peace be with you all.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Bouvardia and Big News


Bouvardia ternifolia, commonly known as Firecracker Bush, is native to the American southwest.  It grows in semi-shaded, canyon areas above 3,000 feet.  The approximately 30 species in the genus Bouvardia belong to the Family, Rubiaceae.

Bouvardia was named after Charles Bouvard, the personal physician to Louis XIII and the superintendent of the Royal Gardens in Paris.  The star-like flowers grow in clusters on thin, branching stems, like small flower bouquets in soft shades of pink, white, yellow, salmon and red.  With a delicate scent and "feminine"  appearance, in the language of flowers, Bouvardia represent enthusiasm.


Here is my funny photo for tonight.  I call it "Well, it's a lot cheaper than gasoline!"  Personally, I don't think the camel minds laying around on the grass waiting for the occasional customer to come along.  They generally seem ready to lie down at a moment's notice -- at least that has been true of my limited experience with camels .

Now for my BIG news.  There is a kitty living in my home once again!

After my attempts to bring home three different cats all failed, I decided to try the Toronto Humane Society.  I went there today and came home with a cat.
She is exactly one year old this month and is almost completely black.  At the moment she is a bit overweight due to having spent the past 4 months in a cage.  I will have to watch her diet carefully so that she doesn't carry the extra weight into maturity.

Unfortunately, she already has a name and after a year it may be difficult to change it.  I say unfortunately because the name is "Suki".  Perhaps you don't see any problem with such a name; however, when I was growing up on the farm, "suki", "suki" is how we used to call the pigs.  Not only that, I know from my Polish friend that in Polish, "Suki" means "bitches".  So, if anyone has a good suggestion for another name that sounds similar, please pass it along and I will give it a try.
Anyway, Suki and I are getting acquainted and I must say, she seems to be a very loving and friendly cat.  I will keep you updated.

May peace be with us all.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Various Flowerings


Tonight I want to show you various drawings of flowers -- types of flowers that I have drawn and discussed previously.

This first drawing is of water lilies and leaves reflected in water. 


This second drawing is of one of my most favourite flowers -- Calla Lilies.  If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that I have done a number of drawings of them. I would actually have my home full of them if I could keep them alive!  Every time I give into temptation and purchase healthy Calla Lilies, they quickly weaken and stop growing.  If any of you have any suggestions about how I might keep them healthy, please pass them along.


This third drawing is actually of a flower I haven't tried drawing previously.  This flower is called Crocus Biflorus isauricus which is a subspecies in the huge Crocus tribe. This flower is native to southern Turkey. 

Another member of the Crocus tribe I talked about recently was Sativa -- the variety of Crocus that gives us the wonderful spice, Saffron.

Now, turning to the subject of kittens and cats, things did not work out as I was hoping.  

The kitten I was hoping to adopt did not come through the spaying surgery very well and, in fact, may not recover due to an underlying condition that became evident during surgery.  So, I am back to considering a certain pair of twins that are still waiting for adoption.  The decision will be made on Monday.  So, by the time I am ready to write in my blog on Monday evening, I should have some news for you.

May peace be with us all.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Desert Five-Spot


This strange looking plant is known as Desert Five-Spot.  The explanation of the name is fairly obvious in that you can see there are five "spots" and you can assume (from the name) that it probably grows in the desert!  

The scholarly name for this plant is Eremalche rotundifolium (it was formerly in the Family of Malvastrum instead of Eremalche).

The range for this plant is very limited as it grows in the Mojave and Sonoran deserts of southeastern California, southern Nevada and western Arizona -- below 4,000 feet -- in dry, open washes and flats.  

These flowers open in the afternoon and close at night and are generally considered to be one of the most beautiful flowers growing in the desert.  Desert Five-Spot was originally considered to be a member of the Mallow Family hence the family name of Malvaceae.

When light passes through the petals of the flower, the resulting "globe" sometimes resembles a glowing lantern which has led to the plant being called the Lantern Flower and Chinese Lantern.


Tonight's photograph captures one of those rare moments in Nature when something spectacular occurs and you have your camera with you!

I like the photo not just because it shows a stunningly beautiful scene, but also because it looks like this scene occurred in spring -- I think I can see small buds on the tree!  

Spring is very much on my mind these days.  First because we have been having unusually mild weather and lots of sunshine, but also because we are approaching time-change weekend followed by the first day of spring on the 20th.  How quickly the year seems to be passing!

Meanwhile, it appears that there may be a new kitty coming into my home very soon. I need to wait until Saturday to find out for certain, but once things are confirmed, I will tell you the whole story.  I am very hopeful, however.

May peace be with you all.