Saturday, 23 June 2012

Aristolochia gigantea

Aristolochia gigantea or Giant Dutchman’s Pipe,
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
The Giant Dutchman's Pipe Vine Plant (Aristolochia gigantea) is one of the most outrageous flowers in the world.  This species from Brazil is huge--over ten inches in length. Each flower displays an intricate pattern of white and mottled reddish brown. The mouth is ringed in black and has a center of golden yellow. Draw close to it and smell its lemon scent

Aristolochia gigantea is a vigorous climber with remarkable, huge flowers.  It is a vine that can climb 20 meters high but usually grows 5-10 m high. The bark is cork-like and deeply grooved. The leaves are egg or heart-shaped, alternate, densely covered with white hairs on the underside, measuring up to 15 cm long and 11 cm wide. The color is a beautiful bright green. The flowers appear singly or in groups on older lots. They have somewhat the shape of a pipe. The color is dark red with cream-colored veins. They spread a smell to attract flies for pollination.  The other common names for this plant are Pelican Flower and Calico Flower.

The following was written by someone at the Georgia Department of Agriculture, but I could not find a name. Anyway, the person writing sounds like someone I would enjoy knowing so I thought you might find his or her comments of interest.
“I have a child-like fascination with odd plants. If it is unusual and attention-grabbing, the better I like it. It was that fascination that led me to purchase a pelican flower from a local nursery last spring. This tropical vine is also known as “giant Dutchman's pipe” (botanical name Aristolochia gigantea). There are numerous species of Dutchman’s pipes. They get their name from the flower’s resemblance to a meerschaum pipe. On some species this is more pronounced than others.
Aristolochia baetica

The most prominent feature of the species I grew is its large corolla. Before it opens, the corolla swells and resembles the throat of a pelican, hence the name. It then splits open into a huge heart-shaped maroon flower. The fragrance of the pelican flower has been described as “lemony.” However, in my garden it was more like dishwater with lemon detergent. It wasn’t strong or particularly unpleasant, however, and compared with some other maroon flowers, the fragrance of the pelican flower is delightful! You see, flowers shaped and coloured as the pelican flower usually rely on flies as pollinators and have an odour that attracts them. Odours that are attractive to flies are usually not attractive to humans. In fact, the open blossom of the pelican flower can be said to resemble a piece of well-marbled rotting meat with a center the color of bone or fat! Would you be more grossed out if I told you that most garden visitors said the unopened flowers looked like human lungs? It was fun, and children as well as adults were fascinated by it. In spite of some of the descriptions, the open flowers are very attractive, a fitting subject for a Georgia O’Keefe painting.” 



I know of four babies that are due any day now.  One in particular is extremely special to me while the other three are also very important.  I have been praying for these babies ever since I heard the good news that they were on their way to join us.  So tonight with babies very much on my mind, I want to post a few baby-related photos.  You may have seen them all previously, but, if so, I am sure you will enjoy seeing them again!

Now we are a family.
(I think this is so beautiful.  I have such fondness for photos of hands as you may recall
and this one makes a truly powerful statement. I wish I knew who the photographer was
so that I could give them credit and also could see their other photos!)

"I'm a baby human.  What are you?"

What a wonderful expression on that face!

This one has been around for a while, but it, too, is another "family" photo.
I always wanted to have a family, but life did not work out that way.  Instead
I have gotten to be "auntie" for lots of children over the years and that has, indeed,
been a great blessing.

Suki has decided that she wants to
try on my reading glasses!
All things considered, Suki has really been quite well behaved for the past four days.  Maybe she felt she had really pushed her luck with the most recent episode regarding the big letter "S".  Whatever the case, I have certainly enjoyed having something of a reprieve.
We did have one bit of trouble regarding the big letter, however.  I had almost forgotten about it since it did not occur while I was sleeping but during the day when I was working on the computer. 
Suki had spent a bit of time sitting in front of the big letter before she finally started pawing at it ever so gently while meowing softly.  When I moved her away from the letter and tried to distract her, she continued to meow plaintively, wandering from room to room until she finally ended up back at the letter again.  As usual, I was left to try to figure out what could be going on.  After a bit more pawing and meowing, she took off for the bathroom and her litter box!  At the time I begin to wonder if there was some connection in her mind between the letter and the litter box, thinking I may have discovered something that would explain her behaviour.  But it hasn't happened again which is probably why I had put it from my mind as just another dead end.
Other than that, she has been pretty well behaved.  Although I did learn from Joycelyn, the lady who works with me and does my cleaning, that whenever she has to move Suki in order to clean where she is sleeping, Suki always growls at her, continuing to growl until she is able to return to her sleeping spot.  It is very embarrassing, of course, to have your cat behave in such an ill-mannered way, but I guess I should just be grateful that all she ever does is growl -- she never attacks or bites.  Thank goodness.
As for me, I am doing better than I was four days ago.  My almost daily gym workouts continue to help me feel better.  It is so good to be able to be active again and I do love to experience those little endorphins.  It is also very nice to be seeing all the friendly people who work at the gym once again.  I had forgotten how much I enjoy their companionship.
Otherwise, not much else is happening.  I continue to do my art, experimenting with various ways of drawing things -- some work, some don't.  Sadly the computer is very limited when it comes to being creative.  I never thought I would say that, but I have discovered it to be true.  Basically, it is the means by which I can draw and colour.  There are all sorts of software for manipulating things, but the manipulation has to be on the computer's terms, not the artist's.  When I try to create something I see in my imagination, I find over and over again that I am limited in ways I was not when using various types of paint, brushes and surfaces.  But I know I can no longer work with brushes and knives the way I once did so I just end up being grateful for what I am able to accomplish on the computer.  There is still a lot I can do and room for tremendous improvement in what I am able to do.
So, that is enough rambling for today.  It is late and I need to finish this and answer some email.  My prayer, as always, is that the peace and joy of God will be with you each and every one.

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