Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Guaiacum officinale

Guaiacum officinale, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
This is an enhanced version using "colour balance software"

Guaiacum officinale, commonly known as Roughbark Lignum-vitae, is a species of tree in the caltrop family, Zygophyllaceae, that is native from the Florida Keys through the Caribbean and to the northern coast of South America. Guaiacum officinale is also the national flower of Jamaica. 

Lignum vitae means "long life" in Latin, from which comes one of its common names, Tree of LifeLignum Vitae is the heaviest and densest wood in the world and will rapidly sink to the bottom when placed in water. It resists rot caused by insects and moisture. In colonial days this hard, strong, and long-lasting wood was an invaluable construction material.

This small tree is very slow growing, reaching about 10 m in height with a trunk diameter of 60 cm.

The tree is essentially evergreen throughout most of its native range.  The blue flowers have five petals that yield a bright-yellow-orange fruit.



Roughbark Lignum-vitae was listed as an endangered species by the IUCN in 1998. It has been over-exploited for its valuable wood and medicinal products. International trade of this species is restricted.

Before the European colonization, which led to deforestation, there were many stands of Lignum vitae throughout its native range. This created a jungle-like canopy over large portions of the islands of the Caribbean, providing shade for tropical undergrowth. For example, on St. John, Virgin Islands, most large native trees were cut down to prepare for sugarcane cultivation or were harvested for their valuable wood. Once plentiful on the island,  Lignum vitae is now relatively rare.


Guaiacum officinale, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
This is the original drawing showing more natural colouring.


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UPDATE ON THE BABY



All he needs is his own smart phone!

Proud papa with his son.  You can certainly tell who this baby takes after!


Such a wee baby in the arms of his papa.  Truly a precious photo.


ANOTHER USE FOR AN ICON!


This interesting poster was sent to me by a member of St. Patrick's Anglican Church in Edmonton, AB.  They are holding a fundraiser which encourages people to pass along their un-used Canadian Tire Money.  They were requesting permission to use my icon of St. Patrick in the manner shown above!  I said "yes", of course.  The only thing I asked was that they place my name somewhere on the poster as the creator of the icon. 


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SUKI AND SALLIE


This is obviously NOT a photo of Suki!
Rather, it is a photo I am trying to use
to inspire Suki to eat less!

Isn't this one of the most beautiful black cats you have ever seen?  I think it may be one of those mixes of an American Shorthair with a Burmese.  It is definitely not a photograph of Suki! 
I have a copy of this photo on hand now so that I can show it to Suki each time she starts her begging routine where she acts as though she is starving to death.  I must say she is quite the actress!

Actually, at times like that Suki reminds me of my father.  As many of you know, my father was not a nice man and most of my interactions with him were highly unpleasant.  However, he did do this routine when we would be at table and my mother would have forgotten to put out his glass of iced tea or water.  He would look up and see that there was no glass at his place.  Since I was always watching him covertly as a matter of self-preservation, he would usually glance at me and see that I also saw that he had no glass.  If I made a move to get up and get something for him, he would motion for me to sit still.  At this point, he would start making choking noises and grab his throat as though he really was choking.  My mother would look up in alarm only to see that he was doing his usual routine and then she would say something like, "oh, Dan, honestly.  Stop being so silly."  She would say this somewhat playfully, of course, as she got up to get him something to drink.  My mother and I were supposed to laugh at his cleverness at this point and we always did.  It did not occur to me until years later that he could very easily have gotten up to get his own water or tea!  But I digress...

I must say that Suki does some similar things when she is trying to get me to feed her.  She flops about on the floor as though she is simply too weak to even stand.  Then, if I should actually be headed toward the kitchen, she will quickly head to her spot in front of the fridge and make certain that she is in my way so that I cannot ignore her.  I remind her that I know it was only 2 hours earlier when she last ate and I tell her that no adult cat needs to be eating every two hours -- especially an overweight cat! 

Today I started showing her the above photo each time she started begging for more food.  Her response has been to sniff at the image, look at me as though to say "this doesn't smell like food" and then walk away.  This is my opportunity to escape back to my little office -- Suki knows that once I am in front of my computer that I will not move for anything other than an earthquake.  So, she will settle down again, someplace where she has me fully in view so that at the slightest sign of movement she can be up and begging once again.  It is at this point that I will show her the above photo again although I really don't hold out too much hope that the photo will impress her!

This has to be an ongoing battle, I fear, as Suki simply cannot be allowed to gain anymore weight -- if she gets any heavier, I will have to make her some pouches to keep her fat sides from dragging on the floor!

As for me, I am doing reasonably well as usual.  I had an email from one of the Brothers in Br. Finnian's community today -- he is in a house located in New Jersey, USA.  He was asking if he could use my story about St. John of God in their next newsletter.  I said "yes" but to please send me a copy of whatever they publish.  That way I can let you know what they are saying about me in the States! It is wonderful to have a bit of notoriety because of a saint -- that way the saint gets all the credit while everyone see me of the recipient of graces.  Thus there is no reason for pride.

I would like to ask you to pray for a couple of my friends.  One is my friend, Brenda, who so kindly came up from Alabama back in the springtime to be with me when I was supposed to have had the stint put in my heart artery.  Of course, I ended up getting healed instead; however, now Brenda must have a Coronary Angiography on Thursday of this week. As well, my friend who was recovering nicely from surgery to remove a cancerous growth but then almost died from the first round of chemo, has never really started to recover from this bout with chemo and remains very weak. I have asked St. John of God to pray for them, of course, but would also ask that any of you who feel so prompted, to please pray for them as well.

Now, may the love, joy and peace of God be with us all -- today and always. Amen. Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us.

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