Sunday, 17 November 2013

Astrantia major

"Astrantia major", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

With a name derived from the Latin word for 'star', Astrantia is well-known and loved for the star-like quality of its flower heads. Major, meaning "larger", distinguishes this species from its smaller relative Astrantia minor.  Astrantia is a genus of plants in the Apiaceae family. Ten species exist in the wild. Astrantia belongs to the same family as the humble carrot. 

Astrantia has historically flourished through widespread growth in Central, Eastern and Southern Europe and the Caucasus. Astrantias have been cultivated in Britain since the 16th century and have numerous common names, such as “Melancholy Gentleman”, “Hattie's Pincushion” and the more well known “Masterwort”. 

Growing rapidly to be about one or two feet tall in just one season, Astrantia comes in a variety of colours, ranging from green through to cream, pink and deep reddish-purple. Astrantia’s tiny, delicate, star-shaped flower heads are held on fine stems radiating from a central point with a ruff of bracts protecting them and their seeds.

Astrantia major details

I enjoyed drawing these star-shaped flower heads.  In studying the flower heads before beginning to draw them, I discovered that when you look at them head on, you see the star shape but when you view them from the side, the white/pink "bars" actually stand up in a rounded form from the flower head so that you only see them. It was like drawing two different flowers. 



I have shown you a photo of this house previously, but the new photos I received recently show it in a much better light! The cousin who has taken on the responsibility of looking after the "ancestral" home has had it painted and it is looking much better.

This house has the standard arrangement of many houses of the early 1800s with a central hall on both floors with two very large rooms on each side.  Each room had a large fireplace on the outside wall and that was the only source of heating.  

I mention this because when I was young there were caretakers living in the house on the bottom floor.  I remember stopping by there with my parents during an Alabama winter.  Now, while it doesn't get as cold down there as it does in Canada, it can go below freezing every night for a couple of months.

As my parents and I stepped into the large sitting room this couple was using, I saw a huge fire burning in the fire place.  They were sitting in chairs pulled up as close to the fire as they possibly could without getting burned and I immediately understood why -- the room was freezing except right in front of the fire!  In fact, it felt colder by the door of that room than it did outside.  

I have often thought about that experience as I have tried to imagine my ancestors living in that house winter after winter. Somehow that image always seemed to clash in my thoughts as I imagined myself at Klein playing the part of Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh) running down the stairs at Tara into the arms of Rhett Butler (Clark Gable)! How lacking in romance it was to have to imagine them huddled close to the fire place in the winter time, trying desperately to keep warm!  So much for romance!

My Mother's family's ancestral home



Suki resting on my favourite blanket

Well, Suki hasn't done anything out of the ordinary this past week -- she has just been her usual kitty-cat self.

One thing those that never ceases to amaze me about my furry companion, however, is how cleverly she devises ways of waking me up in the morning!

I have tried over and over again to remove anything from the bedroom that Suki might use which would enable her to get me to wake up in the morning when she is ready to eat.

I look around the room before bedtime and every where I gaze I can see nothing that she can wiggle, move or scratch in order to awaken me.  Anything that I can imagine could be used for such purposes has been either taped down, tucked in or hidden away for the night.

As most of you know, Suki once used her scratchy tongue to awaken me at feeding time.  However, she is no longer doing this as she has learned that when I am wake up this way, I tend to be rather unpleasant and will dump her rather unceremoniously onto the floor.  Since she doesn't seem to like this, she has now found other ways to accomplish her goal -- ways which keep her just out of my reach!

The frustrating part, for me, is that no matter how hard I try to prevent it, Suki always finds something I overlooked to use for that early morning wake-up call!  This morning, for example, she managed to get a pencil from the pen holder on my desk!  Have you any idea what a loud sound can be made by a clever cat rolling a pencil back and forth over a hardwood floor?  Well, let me tell you, it certainly makes enough racket to awaken even the deepest sleeper.

Tonight, the pen holder and everything in it will placed into the closet before bedtime!  Although, I really wonder why I even bother -- I should know by now that this cat is cleverer than I am. She will undoubtedly find some way to awaken me when she decides it is time for her to eat....

Now, as for me, I am still trying to get this cold to go away.  I thought for sure that it would have left me alone by now, but no such luck.  I continue to go through boxes of tissues at a rapid rate. I will have to admit that I am feeling just a little bit better today and so I am just a bit more optimistic about the possibility of being cold free by next Sunday.

I did have an appointment with the sleep specialist this past week and now that he has increased my medication considerably, I am finding that I am able to stay awake just a bit better with each new day.  I am now hopeful that after I have been at this dosage level for a couple of weeks, I may even be able to go through the whole day without falling asleep at inappropriate times.  It would be wonderful to have that kind of freedom again.

As I mentioned last week, I do have several medical tests ahead of me still, but they won't be happening for a few weeks yet. Meanwhile, I am just enjoying staying awake more normally.

On a sadder note, one of my friends here in the building had to move into a nursing home this past week.  She moved into this building about the same time I did 16 years ago.  We have lived on the same floor all that time and I will miss her presence here in the co-op very much.  As well, this is a reminder that we are all getting older and more in need of caregivers to help us stay as independent as possible.  

As I end this posting, let me remind you -- if you need reminding -- that we are almost at the beginning of another Church year.  We will celebrate Christ the King next Sunday.  I am already beginning to prepare for Advent with the recent purchase of an Advent book of readings and reflections.

I pray that the week ahead will be filled with blessings for all those who read this blog posting, those who are followers of this weekly message about my art, my life, Suki the cat, and my faith.  Thank you all for allowing me to share all of this with you -- especially the gift of my art work.  May the peace of God be with you all.


Anonymous said...

I think I will buy Suki her own private dinner bell for Christmas. I think it would be the perfect present.

Sallie Thayer said...

Don't you dare! The last thing Suki needs is one more way to wake me up!!