Sunday, 9 June 2013

Flying Duck Orchid (Caleana major)

"Caleana major, Flying Duck Orchid", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

Caleana major, Flying Duck Orchid is a small orchid found in eastern and southern Australia.  This terrestrial plant features a remarkable flower, resembling a duck in flight.  Occurring from Queensland to South Australia, to even Tasmania, this plant is found in eucalyptus woodland in coastal or swampy shrub-land and heath-land.  Mostly near the coast, but occasionally at higher altitudes.  Because of the small size, it is a difficult plant to notice in the wild (see photo below).  
Flying Duck Orchids growing wild in
Australia -- you can see how small

the flower actually is and how easy
it would be to overlook it.

The genus Caleana was named after George Caley, an early botanical collector. Latin for "larger", major refers to the contrast with the other smaller Duck orchid, Paracaleana minor. The original specimen of this plant was collected at Bennelong Point, the present day site of the Sydney Opera House in September, 1803. In 1810, the species originally appeared in the scientific literature, Prodromus Florae Novae Hollandiae, authored by the prolific Scottish botanist, Robert Brown. 

The Caleana is more often known as the Flying Duck Orchid – and for fairly obvious reasons. It looks like a duck in flight, its wings swept back, head and beak held high and proud. This attractive yet amusing addition to the orchid genus is a native of Australia; however, if you have suddenly been gripped by the desire to own your very own duck orchid then you will be disappointed.  Despite numerous attempts, this orchid stubbornly refuses to be propagated, and is only found in the wild. This is because the roots of Caleana have a symbiotic relationship with the vegetative part of a fungus which only thrives in the part of Australia in which it originates. The fungus helps the plant to stave off infections and without its help the duck orchid never lasts long.



I had a wonderful experience last night that almost made up for
the fact that I couldn't be in Alabama on Saturday, June 8th!

There are 10 boys standing in the very back row -- and one girl --
wouldn't you just know it, that girl is me!
My phone rang about 7:10 our time (6:10 p.m. in Alabama) and it was the high school friend at whose home the class reunion was being held this year.  He generously made his phone available for the next 45 minutes while I got to speak to as many of my former classmates as he could round up at the time.  I spoke to so many people I haven't spoken with in over 50 years!  Some of them I have been in contact with by email in these later years of Internet availability and some I have even seen several times in the years since high school.  However, many of the people I spoke with last night still, in my memory, look just as they did in this photograph above!

Too many of them have already passed away through disease or accident and so will be forever remembered by me as the young person I once knew.  But, really, it is amazing how many of us are still around after all these years -- and almost all of them are still living in the same area of the U.S where they were born and grew up.  For the most part, they all have had children and grandchildren and now many also have great-grandchildren.  What a joy that must be to be able to look out at a family gathering and see all these younger people and know that they are all here as the result of the love between you and your wife.

I am still feeling the after affects of all those conversation I had last night and will be remembering who I spoke with and what they had to say to me for many days to come.  I feel truly blessed .



Suki says:  "Don't take pictures of me while I am grooming
myself.  Can't a cat have a little privacy around here?!"
I have been trying to find a way to get more oil into Suki!  The reason for this is that Suki has dandruff.  [Shhh, don't tell her I told you that or she would be very upset with me.]  Anyway, at first when I noticed it I was afraid that it might be fleas -- although I had no idea how she could have possibly gotten them after this many years without any contact with another cat or dog.  After doing some research, however, I decided that it was simply of case of not enough fatty acids in her diet combined with living in the dry air of modern apartments.

Since then, I have bought a number of liquids and sprays to put on her food.  These are not cheap and promise all kinds of good results; however, she doesn't like them -- surprise, surprise!  If I put even a little bit of one of these concoctions on her food, she simply refuses to eat it and drives me crazy begging for "proper" food.

After doing a bit more research, I think I may have come up with a solution -- coconut oil.  I know that it is basically harmless for people and animals plus, supposedly, it has all sort of health benefits.  And the delivery system is easy:  I simply put a supply of the oil on the tops of her front paws and then you know what happens.  Right.  She spends the next hour carefully cleaning off her paws.  I try to do this several times each day so that I don't have to put too much on her paws at any one time.

Of course, Suki is somewhat offended by my actions and looks at me every so often, while cleaning her paws, as though to say:  "why are you doing this to me?  What have I done to deserve this?"  When I tell her that it is for her own good, she looks at me incredulously before returning to her grooming.  As I have only been doing this a short time, I really haven't seen any changes, but I am hopeful.  

If any of you have suggestions about a better choice of oils and/or how to get it into Suki, please let me know.  Remember, Suki does NOT like anything that tastes like fish.  The few times I have tried to put any kind of fish oil on her food, she sniffs it from a distance, backs up with obvious dislike and then vigorously scratches all around her dish as though she was covering up some really unpleasant mess in her litter box!  I have thought about putting fish oil on her paws instead of coconut oil, but knowing how she feels about fish, it seems rather a cruel thing to do.  On the other hand she seems to be quite fond of coconut oil just a bit put off by my delivery method.

As for me, I continue to do much the same.  The scars on my face are gradually fading, but it looks as though they are never going to look normal again.  For some reason ever since all this nerve damage occurred and especially since the surgery in February, my eyes have remained so very sensitive to light.  Whenever I try to stay in a room with sunshine pouring through the windows or where there is a lot of bright light from lamps and overhead light bars, I find I simply have to put my sunglasses on!  

I hate doing this in situations where people around me really don't have any idea what is wrong with me, but I simply have no choice.  If I don't, I find myself trying to squint as tightly as I can -- of course that doesn't really work now that the nerves on the left side of my face are so damaged due to the surgery.  What ends up happening when I try to squint is my right eye is almost closed while the left one is as wide open as ever!  Do I ever look funny -- sort of like I am trying to wink and just can't figure out how it is done.

I don't have any more medical appointments until next week so all is quiet on that front.  However next week, beginning on the 18th or 19th, I think I have four different appointments.  There will be much to report -- hopefully good news -- by Sunday the 23rd.

The only feast day before I post again is that of St. Barnabas.  Any of you coming back to look at this section a second time may notice that I have deleted what was written here originally as I realized just yesterday that what I wrote was totally wrong.  Today, my friend, Eugene, kindly sent me an email about my mistake so I decided it was time to correct it!  St. Barnabas appears first in the book of Acts when he comes to the Apostles with all the money he made from selling his property and gives it to the fledgling Christian community in Jerusalem.  He was not one of the 12 apostles as I had originally stated incorrectly.  He was sent to investigate the conversions of the Gentiles being made by St. Paul and ended up accompanying  St. Paul on several missionary journeys to various parts of the Gentile countries.  He was also apparently instrumental in reconciling St. Paul and St. Mark when they had a "falling out".  He was later martyred as were all the apostles and leaders of the early Church except St. John who died of old age after an attempt to put him to death had failed dramatically.  

So, let us ask:  St. Barnabas, pray to the Lord on our behalf, asking that we will remain strong in our faith to the very end  just as you did, no matter what challenges we face.  Amen.

Wishing you all a blessed Sunday and may the peace of God be with us all -- today and in the days ahead.  

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