Sunday, 23 March 2014

Brazilian Plume Flower "Jacobinia"

"Brazilian Plume Flower, Stylised", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014

Justicia carnea (formerly Jacobinia carnea) is more commonly known by such names as Brazilian Plume Flower, Flamingo Flower, and Jacobinia.  It is native to South America, particularly southern Brazil, Paraguay and northern Argentina.  Justicia carnea is a shade-loving, soft-wooded shrub (height approximately 1.5m) with large, lush leaves. 

Justicia is a genus of flowering plants in the large family, Acanthaceae. There are roughly 420 species in this Family and almost all of these are native to tropical/warm temperate regions of the Americas. 

The generic name, Justicia, honours Scottish horticulturist James Justice (1698-1763).  Internet searches on this plant will often refer to it still as "Jacobinia" -- its previous generic name.

In summer the plant covers itself with large, showy spikes of flowers. The colours available include shades of rose, magenta, pink, orange, purple, coral/apricot and white. Dense clusters of tubular flowers shaped like tongues make this plant unique. (See the image below)

Brazilian Plume flowers 
I am planning on doing a second drawing of Justicia carnea which will show these "tongues" as they really are -- not the stylised version I have posted above.  I would like to use one of the less common flower colours such as coral/ apricot.

The idea for the stylised drawing of this flower shown at the beginning of this posting came from a computer wallpaper design I came across while searching for images of this plant to use as my "model" for a drawing.  I was so taken with the wallpaper image that I decided to try to create my own design in a similar fashion.  What I ended up with bears only a slight resemblance to the actual Brazilian Plume Flower, but I do find the stylised symmetry appealing.



Suki resting in her favourite chair
(this used to be my favourite chair!)
Well, in this section of the posting most of the news is going to be about Suki. Poor Suki is sick.

You may recall that in last Sunday's posting I mentioned that I was considering finding a new home for Suki -- as difficult as I knew this would be for me.  As I mentioned, I was considering this because of the amount of pain I now experience when I clean up after her and I thought that it might bring down my pain level just a little if I no longer had to do all that bending and lifting of the litter box, etc.  Well, as my friend, Joycelyn, said, "it's almost like Suki understood what you were saying, Sallie, and decided to see to it that she did not have to leave her happy home!"  

What happened was that late Tuesday morning, I suddenly noticed that Suki was walking with a very pronounced limp -- not wanting to put any weight down on her right, back leg at all.  I was immediately concerned as I know that limping can indicate all sorts of diseases in cats.  So, I grabbed poor Suki up, placed her in the carrying case and called a taxi to take us to the vet.

A couple of hours later, after examinations and x-rays, the vet was still uncertain as to the cause of the problem.  She gave me opioid pain meds for Suki and sent us home with the promise that she would discuss the x-rays with her fellow vets at the clinic.  The pain meds worked well and enabled Suki to have a very restful night, although she continued to limp quite noticeably and did ask me -- in her unique kitty-cat way -- to lift her in and out of the litter box when she needed to use it.  

The vet called me the next afternoon to tell me that after careful scrutiny of the x-rays by some of her fellow vets, they had been able to determine that there were bone "mice" in the joint of Suki's right back leg!  I had never heard of such a thing before but promised to bring Suki in the following day for blood work and further examination.  Sadly, they requested that Suki fast from midnight until her blood was taken at 10 the next morning!  I am sure you will not doubt me when I tell you that even a sedated Suki was still hungry!

So, Thursday morning I bundled us both up again, called a taxi and arrived at the animal clinic at 9:45 a.m.  Soon thereafter the blood was taken from a vein in Suki's leg.  Thankfully, she submitted to all the poking and prodding with quiet dignity.  Afterwards, the vet explained to me that these bone chips in the joint were the result of feline arthritis and they were causing Suki to suffer quite a bit of pain.  

After discussing all the options, it was decided that Suki should be started on an anti-inflammatory medication which must be injected once a week.  I actually gave her the first of these injections right there at the clinic as I told the vet and the assistant that I wanted to be trained to do this so that I would not have to subject Suki to weekly visits to the clinic.  All went well with the injection and now, three days later, the anti-inflammatory medication does seem to be helping.  Suki is still, obviously, in some pain, but she is moving around a bit more easily.

I was also told that I could continue to use the opioid medication for Suki as well if and when she started showing signs of being in more serious pain. Fortunately, she does not seem to be requiring this medication at this time for which I am very grateful as I know from personal experience how hard morphine derivatives can be on the body. Of course, I realize that I have to be really careful when trying to determine the pain level for a cat. Cats, like most wild animals, try not to show any signs of weakness or pain since such signs, in the wild, act as signals to a predator that this animal might be easy prey.

At any rate, this disease means that Suki is with me for the duration as I could not ask anyone else to take on the cost and effort of taking care of her at this point. Thankfully, I do have pet insurance and so the majority of the costs for Suki's continuing care will be covered.  

I do not know how quickly this form of arthritis will progress or if it is also affecting her left leg -- she does seem to favour it sometimes as well.  Hopefully, she won't become completely crippled anytime soon even though she has already had to give up jumping up on most things.  She still makes the supreme effort to jump into her favourite chair (shown in the photo above) and onto the bed (fortunately the bed is not too high), but such things as her "crow's nest" bed are now beyond her ability.  High jumping with only one, relatively-good, back leg and one very painful, lame back leg is not something Suki seems to want to try!

The vet also wants me to help Suki lose a couple of pounds as any extra weight on these joints increases the pain level.  Suki presently weighs about 12 lbs. and the better weight for her would be about 10 lbs.  As you might imagine, Suki is not particularly pleased about the smaller amounts of food I am now giving her!

Anyway, all of this extra activity has not been easy on Suki or on me.  Aside from the emotional aspects of seeing Suki suffering, I am also exhausted from the trips to the vet.  Thankfully, the clinic is only a short taxi ride from my place and the folks there were very helpful when it came to getting myself, my walker and Suki in and out of the taxi and in and out of the clinic!

Otherwise, things remain much the same with me.  As I mentioned last Sunday, I had no medical appointments scheduled this past week -- thank goodness -- but this week I will finally be seeing the ophthalmologist.  Hopefully, he will be able to find out what is happening with my eye and provide the means for me to treat it so that the pain and discomfort levels in the eye decrease somewhat.  I will let you know the outcome of the visit in next Sunday's posting.



Meanwhile, the days of this Lenten Season continue to roll quickly along. Here we are already at the halfway point.  The Scripture passage below includes some of the verses from the Gospel reading for this Sunday.  

This passage always amazes me in that Our Lord reveals so much about Himself to this woman of Samaria.  Most amazingly, He says plainly that He is, indeed, the Christ, the Messiah whose coming was foretold.  Yet this woman is not only a "hated" Samaritan -- she is also a woman who has had numerous husbands and is currently living with a man to whom she is not married.  As well, she is a village outcast who chooses to come and get water in the heat of the day so that none of the other village women will be there to mock and insult her.  Yet, look what Our Lord reveals to her and how powerfully it changes her life and, through her, the lives of all the people of her village.  

This encounter reveals so clearly something the Church has always taught:  no one, no matter how terrible their sins, is beyond the redeeming love of God!  Amazing. 

" [Jesus] came to the Samaritan town called Sychar near the land that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.  Jacob's well was there and Jesus, tired by the journey, sat down by the well. It was about (noon) the sixth hour.  [T]hen a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, 'Give me something to drink.'  His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.  The Samaritan woman said to him, 'You are a Jew. How is it that you ask me, a Samaritan, for something to drink?' -- Jews, of course, do not associate with Samaritans.  Jesus replied to her: If you only knew what God is offering and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me something to drink,' you would have been the one to ask, and he would have given you living water. Whoever drinks this water will be thirsty again; ... but no one who drinks the water that I shall give will ever be thirsty again: the water that I shall give will become a spring of water within, welling up for eternal life.  'Sir,' said the woman, 'give me some of that water, so that I may never be thirsty or come here again to draw water.'  'Go and call your husband,' said Jesus to her, 'and come back here.'  The woman answered, 'I have no husband.' Jesus said to her, 'You are right to say, "I have no husband";  for although you have had five, the one you now have is not your husband. You spoke the truth.... ................ But the hour is coming -- indeed is already here -- when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth: that is the kind of worshipper the Father seeks.  God is spirit, and those who worship must worship in spirit and truth.  The woman said to him, 'I know that Messiah -- that is, Christ -- is coming; and when he comes he will explain everything.'  Jesus said, 'I am he, the one who is speaking with you.' " (Jn 4:5-10, 14-18, 23-26).

As you may recall, I did an icon of this scene a couple of years ago. This is a revised version, but it is basically the same icon I first posted in 2012.

"The Woman at the Well" icon by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

In closing, I pray that the week ahead may bring us all some measure of peace and well-being and that all those who read this posting and gaze upon these drawings will be blessed -- just like the Woman at the Well. 

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