Sunday, 9 February 2014

Feijoa -- Acca sellowiana

"Feijoa -- Acca sellowiana flowers", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014


Acca sellowiana also known as Feijoa sellowiana is a species of flowering plant in the myrtle family (Myrtaceae) is native to the highlands of southern Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay, and northern Argentina. Common names include feijoa, pineapple guava and guavasteen. It is an evergreen shrub or small tree, 1–7 metres (3.3–23 ft) in height, widely cultivated as a garden plant and fruiting tree. The German botanist Otto Karl Berg named feijoa after João da Silva Feijó, a Portuguese botanist born in the colony of Brazil.

The showy Acca sellowiana flowers, borne singly or in a cluster, have long, red stamens topped with large grains of yellow pollen. Flowers appear late, from May through June as the plant prefers cool to moderate temperatures. Each flower contains four to six fleshy flower petals that are white tinged with purple on the inside. These petals are mildly sweet and edible and can make a refreshing addition to spring salads. Birds eating the petals pollinate the flower. It has been said that feijoa pollen is transferred by birds that are attracted to and eat the flowers, but, in fact, bees are the chief pollinators. 


Feijoa -- Acca sellowiana fruit
Photo from Wikipedia

The fruit of Acca sellowiana is the important part of this flowering shrub. The fruit, maturing in autumn, is green, about the size of a chicken's egg. It has a sweet, aromatic flavor and the flesh is juicy. The fruit drops when ripe and at its fullest flavor, but may be picked from the tree prior to the drop to prevent bruising. The fruit pulp resembles the closely related guava, having a gritty texture. As well, the feijoa pulp is used in some natural cosmetic products as an exfoliant. Feijoa fruit has a distinctive, potent smell.  

Large quantities of the fruit are now grown in New Zealand as it has one of the best growing seasons for Feijoa. The feijoa fruit may be used as an interesting addition to a fruit smoothie and may be used to make wine, cider and feijoa-infused vodka. The flavour is aromatic, very strong and complex, inviting comparison with guava, strawberry, pineapple, and often containing a faint wintergreen-like aftertaste. In New Zealand and a few other places in the world, it is possible to buy feijoa yogurt, fruit drinks, jam and ice cream; as well as vodka. It also may be cooked and used in dishes where one would use stewed fruit. It is also a popular ingredient in chutney.

As for my drawing, the most arduous task was, obviously, the long, red stamens with the large grains of yellow gold pollen on top of each one!  Yet, as much extra work as such elements make in a drawing, for some reason, as you may have noticed, I have a fondness for flowers with an excessive number of stamens!  I have no idea why the is true, but you can see for yourselves by taking a look at just a few examples of such flowers posted during the past year: the Matchstick Plant drawing (December 29, 2013), the Caper Bush flower drawing (November 3, 2013) and the Red Spider Lily drawing (January 8, 2013).  Interesting...

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EXTRA STUFF   

A friend sent me a photo taken by his friend on one of the more extremely cold days we had a week or so ago.  The photo was taken while the photographer was standing on Ward's Island, looking over the Lake at the City of Toronto skyline.  

It truly gives a strong sense of just how cold it was (and how cold it may be again before this Arctic Vortex is fully gone!  Take a look and see if you don't suddenly feel the need to turn up the thermostat just a notch!

I think this was taken on the day when the wind chill hit -40!  What a cold day in January that was!  I hope we can avoid having any more days like that for the remainder of the winter.


Another item of possible interest was a request from my friend, Eugene, to use one of my drawings of a saint to make a greeting card for a very special pro-life lady of his acquaintance.  The drawing he requested to use was one I did a year or so ago of St. Gianna Beretta Molla.  This modern-day saint, as you may recall, was the wife-mother-doctor in Italy who put her life at risk by choosing to keep her baby.  She had developed a medical problem that would normally have been treated by having a hysterectomy, but, at the time the problem was discovered, St. Gianna was already well along in her pregnancy.

When I went to look at the file of the drawing, I realized that it was really only a sketch and had never been completed properly.  So, I set about to finish it off as quickly as possible.  Eugene ended up using the revised version and I ended up getting a thank you note from the lady who had received the card (my name was on the back of the card as the artist)!  Below you can see how the outside (front and back) of the card appeared.

The front and back of the greeting card created by my friend, Eugene.  He has a real talent
for making professional-looking cards -- holy cards, greeting cards, etc.


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SUKI AND SALLIE

Suki always manages to look displeased
whenever her naps are disturbed!
There is not a great deal to say about Suki this week.  

It isn't that she has been particularly well behaved -- because she hasn't -- however, she has continued to spend a lot more time napping than previously. Ever since the weather turned so cold (even though it it not quite so very cold these days), Suki has been behaving more like a black bear than a black cat!  The back of the bedroom closet seems to have become her "cave" where she spends much of her time in hibernation mode.  I have spoken to her about the fact that cats do not hibernate, but, as usual, she ignores me! So, I just let her sleep.  

Every so often, I hear her begin to yowl (meow) in the manner I described for you in a recent posting.  As you now know, this sound continues until she finds me.  Once she has found me, she either sits by my feet, watching my every movement until I become so irritated that I get up and feed her, or -- and this is the more usual behaviour -- she jumps into my lap and begins to "pester" me until I finally give in an feed her!  Either way, she knows how to get that food dish filled.  Once she has eaten all she wants, she settles down for a quick but thorough wash before returning to her "cave".  

I hear that the temperature is supposed to finally get above freezing again by Thursday and I am wondering what will happen to Suki's "hibernation mode" when this occurs?!  If her behaviour changes, I will give you a report in next Sunday's blog posting.

As well, I have little to report about my activities -- mainly because I continue to remain very inactive.  I can tell you that I have a consultation coming up in a few days with a specialist as St. Mike's. This is the "consult" prior to the procedure scheduled for the following week which will take a good look at my upper G.I. tract. So, there may be some health news to pass along by next Sunday. It would be wonderful to finally have some encouraging news about my health -- but, based on my past experience, I am not counting on it!

Otherwise, I have been a bit distracted this past week by two news events.
  

SOCHI

One event is, obviously, the news coming out of Sochi, including the funny stories, cartoons and photographs regarding the facilities the athletes, officials and guests are having to deal with.  One of my favourite photos thus far has been the bathroom which appears to have only one toilet in it (a rarity in Sochi it seems) but just across from the toilet are three, straight-backed chairs facing the toilet.  It made me wonder just how closely the security people were planning on keeping an eye on folks when they are using the toilet!

U.N. Report on the Catholic Church

The second news item is neither funny or clever!  I am referring to the "report" by the U.N. on the Catholic Church!  With all the really awful human rights violations going on in the world at the present moment (particularly those children being kidnapped worldwide for use in the pornography industry and as sex slaves), why on earth does the U.N. feel the need to produce this biased report on the Church?!  Of course, the U.N. certainly has its own agenda, especially regarding the Church, and I assume this is just the next step in their plan to attempt to discredit and marginalize the Church.

The report's focus on sexual abuse by priests and religious is so obviously biased since the U.N. seems to treat these events in isolation from similar events occurring in every religion, organization and culture throughout the world.  Not that such behaviour can ever be justified, but the total number of abusers in the Church continues to remain lower than most other organizations, including many other Christian churches.  Of course, when you include the number of sexual abuse cases that continue to occur in families -- even in countries such as ours -- along with all the other sources of such abuse, then the focus on the statistics regarding the Catholic Church can be seen for what they really 
are -- as I said before -- an agenda to discredit and marginalize.

It seems to me quite possible that these negative feelings on the part of the U.N. stem from the refusal on the part of the Catholic Church to change or dilute the teachings that the Church has taught for over 2,000 years now -- teachings that Catholics believe were given to us by God -- through His prophets, apostles, disciples and, especially, through the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ.  As you are probably aware, the U.N. wants the Church to change its "attitudes" towards abortion, contraception and homosexuality.  For Catholics, these teachings are not man-made, but God-made, God-given and, thus, mankind does not have the right to change them -- no matter what the cultural and politically-correct attitudes may be at a particular time in history. 

The most important aspect for Catholic to remember about these teachings, however (and for non-Catholics to be aware), is our belief in an all-loving, merciful God. As our Lord Jesus said to those ready to stone the woman taken in adultery, "Let the person who is without sin among you cast the first stone." We are told that each member of that crowd who had gathered to stone the woman quietly dropped the stones they were holding and walked away. Of course they did for there is not one of us who can claim to be free of sin.

This is why the Church has always taught that it is not an individual's task to judge and condemn their neighbour -- heterosexual, homosexual, asexual, someone who has had an abortion, a couple using contraception or whatever -- judgement belongs, in the final analysis, to God.  He alone can read the heart and mind of each individual.  We are reminded of the danger of judging others each day when we pray the Our Father -- the prayer taught to us by our Lord Jesus -- when we say: "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." Do we really realize what we are saying? We are telling God to judge us in exactly the same way we judge others! 

Concluding comments:

I had no intention of going on at such length about the report from the U.N.  However, I feel much better now that I have had my say. I hope you find my comments of interest and I will be delighted to post any legitimate comments you may have regarding this report, the news coverage of it and my comments given above.
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So, I leave you as I usually do on Sunday with a final prayer...
May each and every one of us realize how precious we are to God who created us.  Even though at times it seems as if the things that God allows to happen to us, and to those we love, could not possibly be the permissive will of a loving Father, I pray we will never forget that God has loved each one of us into being and will continue to love us into being for all eternity -- for God is love. Loving Father, keep us from fear -- let not our hearts be troubled -- and, may that peace which You alone can give fill our hearts in the days ahead.  Amen

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