Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Fucshia -- Dollar Princess

Fucshia x hybrida -- Dollar Princess (modelled from photo by Michael Cooper)

Fuchsia is a genus of flowering plants that consists mostly of shrubs or small trees. Its Family name is Onagraceae. The first, Fuchsia triphylla, was discovered on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola (present day Dominican Republic and Haiti) in 1703 by the French monk and botanist, Charles Plumier. He named the new genus after the renowned German botanist Leonhart Fuchs (1501–1566).

There are currently almost 110 recognized species of Fuchsia. The great majority are native to South America, but with a few occurring north through Central America to Mexico, and also several from New Zealand to Tahiti One species, Fuchsia magellanica, extends as far as the southern tip of South America, occurring on Tierra del Fuego in the cool temperate zone, but the majority are tropical or subtropical. Most fuchsias are shrubs from 8 in–13 ft 1 in. tall, but one New Zealand species, Kotukutuku (Fuchsia excorticata), is unusual in the genus in being a tree, growing up to 39–49 ft. tall.  Fuchsias are popular garden shrubs, and once planted can live for years with a minimal amount of care.  The plant is now found in gardens and homes throughout the world and the majority of these are hybrids (cultivars) of just a few species.  Of interest is the fact that while the original pronunciation from the word's German origin is "fook-sya", most English speakers tend to say "fyusha" . As a consequence, Fuchsia is often misspelled as "fuschia" in English.  It is, thus, a good word to use in a spelling bee!

My drawing is of one of the hybrids.  I am pretty certain that it is one called "Dollar Princess", but I was trying to make an identification from a photo and not from the actual plant.  So, if any of you know that what I have drawn is not "Dollar Princess", please let me know -- even if you don't know what it actually is.  That way, I will continue to look for another possible hybrid.

 Below is a drawing I did of what I thought was Fuchsia magellanica at the time; however, looking at the drawing now in light of what I have learned, it may very well be my attempt to draw Fuchsia excorticata, the New Zealand species which is a tree and not a shrub.

I did this drawing at least three years ago, maybe four, and I find it quite interesting to look at the difference between my abilities then and now.  I have learned so much more about how to use the limited tools available with my software and over time, in spite of the arthritis, my hand has gotten more sure of itself.

Fuchsia magellanica -- drawing from three (or four) years ago


Now for a few cat photos.  These are special cat photos in that they are photos of almost all of the cats who have shared my life during my adult years. 

The first cat I invited into my home was a beautiful Siamese; however, I have long since lost any photos.  I am not certain if he was pure Siamese, but he looked like the breed and had all the characteristics of the breed.  I called him Nose (short for Nosey) as he literally had to stick his nose into everything.  As you know, there are few places a Siamese can't reach so I had to go to great lengths to prevent that nose from getting into food dishes and such.  He had a short but, I think, happy life due to a very untreatable (at that time) illness. 

Come to think of it, there was another Siamese cat in my life, but just for about 10 days.  This occurred because someone who knew how I had loved my previous Siamese cat gave me a Siamese kitten as a gift.  Sadly, he had purchased the kitten from a pet store, and as is so often the case, it must have come from a "kitty mill" for it was already ill when it arrived and died about 10 days later as it had such a weakened immune system.  My warning to everyone:  never buy cats or dogs from pet stores -- rescue the ones in pounds and shelters instead.  If everyone stopped buying pets in stores, then maybe all the strays would end up with forever homes.  I know that sometimes pet stores now invite shelters to set up shop for a weekend in their store, but that is different as you are still really getting the pet from a shelter.

Now for the remainder of "my" cats.

Furfur -- He came into my life as a little kitten back in 1965!
Furfur was truly a "black" cat.  Sadly, he was named after one of the demon princes of Hell (according to arcane literature) and he must have realized this as he truly lived up to his name!  He was such a sweet, little kitten when I brought him home, but it did not take long for his real character to emerge!  He would race around the house like he was, indeed, demon possessed (maybe he was part Siamese).

I remember when I took him to be neutered.  I tried to tell the receptionist that I could handle him, but that he did not like strangers at all.  I pleaded with her to allow me to take him into the back and put him in his cage, but she simply would not listen and pulled him roughly from my arms (I was too poor at the time to afford a carrying cage).  Of course, Furfur promptly sank his teeth into her lovely arm!  At moments like that it is always a good idea to resist saying "I told you so".  The vet clinic did the necessary surgery, but asked that I never return with this particular cat.  Fortunately, Furfur was an extremely healthy cat.

miz k.d. (just a few months old) and my 4-year-old cat, Mr. Ginger, the bully!
 The next cat was Mr. Ginger.  Mr Ginger grew to be a b-i-g ginger/orange tom cat.  Had he not been neutered, he would have been an holy terror.  As it was, he grew into a lovable though possessive adult.  When he was about 4 years old, I made the mistake of getting another cat, miz k.d.  You see the two of them here together.  Any photo you see of them appearing to like one another is wildly deceptive.  Mr. Ginger secretly hated miz k.d. and tormented her cruelly whenever I was not around.  It took me some time to figure this out.  Meanwhile, miz k.d. went from an friendly, adventuresome kitten to a frightened adult who would only come out of hiding to spend time with me.  Ah, what a mess.

Anyway, as you can see in the above photo, miz k.d. had a black mark on the top of her forehead.  When you looked down on that mark it made the shape of the letter "H".  I used to tease her and say she was the cat from Hell.  Of course, she was totally the opposite.  Interestingly, the H completely disappeared within a few weeks of her first birthday and from that point on, she was pure white.

Mr. Ginger and miz k.d. when she was about 3 years old -- do the expressions tell you anything?
Here they are again when miz k.d. was about 2 years old.  I think their expressions say a great deal about their relationship.  This was about the time when I began to realize how badly Mr. Ginger was treating miz k.d. and knew that I could no longer keep both cats.

One of the saddest days was when I had to let someone else adopt Mr. Ginger.  He went to a good home, but I never saw him again as it was the vet who arranged the transfer and, like with any old-fashioned adoption, the "parents" never knew each others names!  You might ask why I kept miz k.d. instead of the lovable, outgoing Mr. Ginger, but you have your answer right there.  By that point, I knew that miz k.d. would simply never adjust to a new home.  For the remainder of her 15 years, miz k.d. never returned to that sunny, adventuresome personality of her early days.  She remained a one-person cat which she made very clear to almost everyone who tried to pet her!

Suki -- this is a photo from last year which I have shown you previously
And, finally, we come to Suki -- my current companion.  I have told you all enough about her so that nothing more needs to be said at the moment.  She remains a great joy while being an equally great nuisance.  I would not trade her for anything, of course -- but I do consider it every morning when she awakens me about 4:30 because she is now awake and hungry!  At least I am able to get back to sleep quickly after I feed her! 

Another one you have seen previously -- Suki and me, airbrushed!
Suki and I continue to do as well as possible.  She wishes I would let her get away with more mischief than I will, but, otherwise, she is doing fine.

I continue to be a bit more disabled by my newest problems with my neck and spine; however, I am learning to manage.  I am even beginning to get to the place where I can accept how old I look now that I am so bent over.  You know what was said by the famous author:  "Vanity, thy name is woman".  Actually vanity, ego, is a problem for both sexes, but perhaps more of a problem for us women when it comes to how we appear to others.  Anyway, I am learning to "offer it all up" as the old saying goes and hoping that God will use my suffering for the good of others.

May the peace of God be with us all.

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