Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Rudbeckia aka Black-Eyed Susans


"Rudbeckia aka Black-Eyed Susan", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

Rudbeckia is a plant genus of 23 species in the family Asteraceae. The species are commonly called cone flowers and black-eyed-susans.  All are native to North America and most species are found growing in the great prairie lands where their showy yellow or gold flower heads are evident in abundance.  Many of the species were almost lost to overgrazing and cultivation but have now been restored, through careful land management, to most of their native areas.

Because a large number of the species of Rudbeckia are popular garden flowers, many cultivars of these species have been developed.  Often, many of the cultivars escape back into the wild and then mix with the original native plants.  This leads to a great deal of variation and often a great difficulty in trying to determine exactly what is what when it comes to precise identification.  For example, the ones in the drawing above are drawn exactly as they appeared in a series of photographs taken by a photographer friend. However, when I attempted to identify the exact specie of Rudbeckia, it proved hopeless for an amateur like me.  It seems that the flowers I have drawn are members of the common species, Rudbeckia hirta, but since I am unsure, I am just calling the flowers Rudbeckia and identifying them as black-eyed susans.

The name, Rudbeckia, was given by Carolus Linnaeus* in honor of his teacher at Uppsala University, Professor Olof Rudbeck the Younger (1660-1740), and his father, Professor Olof Rudbeck the Elder (1630-1702), both of whom were botanists. Rudbeckia is one of at least four genera within the flowering plant family Asteraceae whose members are commonly known as cone flowers or black-eyed susans; the other genera are Echinacea, Dracopis and Ratibida.
*Carl Linnaeus was a Swedish botanist, physician and zoologist, who laid the foundations for the modern scheme of binomial nomenclature.  Born 1707, died 1778.


This poorly taken photograph is the result of my efforts to learn how to take photos 
with my new cell phone!  Ah, well, I trust I will get better in time.  
The reason for taking the photo in the first place was so that I could show you a gift I was given earlier this week by a friend who wanted to share with me some of the bounty of her 
garden allotment.  What you are looking at is a vase full of Heliopsis and day lilies.

Heliopsis aka ox-eye or false sunflower. These flowers are a wonderful, summer blooming “daisy” native to grassy prairies of North and South America. They get their name from the Greek sun god, Helios for "sun" and opsis for "appearance . They tend to be bushy plants with triangular leaves and stout stems that carry bright yellow flowers with golden yellow centers. 

 When I, as an untutored amateur botanist, looks at them, right away I would think “oh, here is another variety of black-eyed susans!"  I would be very wrong as they have more in common with sunflowers than they do black-eyed susans!  You can now see why I dropped out of university level botany class after the first few weeks.  My head was spinning in the same way it did when I tried, uselessly, to study trigonometry!



Vancouver art!  I really wonder sometimes at the things that get put in
public areas and parks in cities.  I have three questions when I look at something
like this:  why would an artist work hard at creating this?  why would the City 
use taxpayers money to purchase it?  FINALLY, why would the city fathers (and 
mothers) then see fit to foist it off on the unsuspecting public?

More Vancouver art!  Please see the questions 1, 2 and 3 above.   



Aerial view of the Shrine Church on a day quite unlike today!

Pope Francis as he prays before the image of Our Lady of Aparecida.

I was able to be watching EWTN earlier today when the Holy Father arrived at the Shrine Church for Mass.  The very first thing he did upon entering the Shrine was to go directly to the image of Our Lady of Aparecida (one of Central and South America's "black" Madonnas).  As the pope stood there, it seemed to take only about 30 seconds for him to go from being outwardly involved to being inwardly centered.  He appeared to be able to completely shut out all the activity around him and all the shouts you could still hear from outside of "Papa Francisco, Papa Francisco".

For the next few minutes he stood there apparently focused on Our Lady, perhaps asking her to continue her intercession for the events of World Youth Day.  Whatever his prayer was, he seemed to be completely absorbed in it for those few moments.  Then, he went close to the case housing the image, touched his hand to it and then made the sign of the cross.  After this, he was immediately present again to all those around him.

This, I thought to myself, is what prayer is really meant to be.  That ability to enter quickly into intimate conversation with God whenever the opportunity presents itself.  Just as you would be able to continue a conversation with a dear, dear friend, picking up right where you left off even after a period of separation.
Later in the day, I was looking at some images with quotes related to prayer in my pictures files and came across two that I felt were so appropriate as commentary on what I had witnessed earlier in the day when watching our Holy Father.

This first really says it all: 

While this second image, quoting St. Therese, seems to speak directly to what I had witnessed earlier in the day.

So many times I have heard people say:  "but I don't know how to pray."  I ask them:  "Do you know how to talk to a friend?  Do you know how to really listen to a friend?"

The answer, of course, is always "yes".  I then say:  "Well, allow God to be your very best friend and if you talk to Him like that dearest friend, you will soon find that when you stop talking and really try to listen to Him as you would an intimate friend, you will soon hear Him speaking to you in the depths of your heart."  

Of course, you also need to try to have these conversations in a setting that is conducive to intimate conversation.  If you and a friend want to have a really personal conversation, you usually go somewhere suitable.  In my opinion, the very best place is in front of the Tabernacle in a Catholic Church that is open during the day time -- usually those found in the downtown area of the city.

If you haven't already tried it, give it a try.



Suki taking her turn in the desk chair.
 I have noticed recently that a pretty regular routine has developed with Suki and myself when it comes to chairs.

There are two comfortable chairs in my little office area:  the one at my desk and my recliner nearby.  First thing in the morning after feeding Suki, I get my coffee and come and sit down in my recliner where I can sit comfortably while praying the morning offices (the prayers of the Church).

As soon as Suki has finished her breakfast, here she comes into the area and promptly jumps up into my desk chair.  She spends some times trying to distract me with invitations to scratch her head.  She does this in ways I cannot quite describe in words, but I know what she means and so eventually, I will pull the chair a bit closer to me (it moves easily on its wheels) and scratch her ears while I continue with my morning readings and prayers. 

Eventually, I get tired of doing this and Suki settles down and goes to sleep in the desk chair until she hears me start to get up after about an hour.  As she looks up, I say, "OK Suks, it is time to change chairs."  And so we do.  She jumps up into the recliner while I settle into my desk chair in front of the computer.  I don't stay there for too long as I only want to check my email before going to fix some breakfast.  Usually when I finish with the email and go to the kitchen, Suki stays behind sleeping for a while longer.

This chair exchange seems to happen over and over again throughout the day.  In the evening after I have an early supper and sit down to watch the news, Suki makes her way to the desk chair once again where she stays until I have watched the news for an hour and then we go through the chair exchange once again.  

Right now, for example, I am on the computer and Suki is asleep in the recliner.  When I want to return to the recliner and watch something on TV, we change chairs once again.  

Unfortunately, things don't work quite as well when it comes to bedtime.  Suki may begin the night in her own bed or even on the back of the sofa in the living room, but within a few hours she climbs into bed with me and insists on staying their the remainder of the night.  I have spoken to her about this -- quite sternly at times -- but so far, she just doesn't seem to get it.  Or, perhaps it isn't that she doesn't get it, but rather that she realizes that when I am half asleep, I will allow her to get away with things I wouldn't if I was fully awake.  Smart kitty.

As for me, since there is nothing really new to say and the hour is very late for posting on my blog, I will save any personal comments until Sunday's posting.

May the peace of the Lord be with us all.

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