Sunday, 20 July 2014

Hedgehog Blossoms

"Hedgehog Cactus -- Echinocereus triglochidiatus"
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014

As most of you are aware, I alternate the type of drawing each week... one week I post a flower drawing, the following week I post a drawing of a person.  This week, though, I am posting a flower drawing (even though I just posted a flower drawing last week). The reason for this?... well, I simply did not have a finished drawing of a person that I felt like posting.  

The drawing I had planned to post feels just too unfinished somehow.  I am not sure as to why I feel this way about a particular drawing, but it happens every so often. Sometimes I can rework the drawing so that I feel comfortable about posting it; however, there are some drawings which will never be seen in my blog or elsewhere (and there are some which were posted in the early days which I wish I could also permanently delete!). These drawings usually remain hidden away in my software files. Occasionally, I end up deleting a completed drawing because I find myself being unable to even look at it -- it seems as though everything is wrong with it!   

Maybe by next Sunday I will have completed one of several "people" drawings I currently have underway.  Well, enough about me and my art work -- let's move on to Hedgehogs!


Echinocereus triglochidiatus, Family: Cactaceae, commonly known as Hedgehog Cactus, Claret Cup Cactus or King’s Cup Cactus, is a small barrel shaped cactus that grows in clumps of a few to a hundred stems. The flowers are a beautiful red (varying in colour from orange-red to deep red), with many petals that form the shape of a cup. The spines can be up to three inches long; however, there are "subspecies" which have no spines at all.  The fruits are red, and edible (see photograph below).

Fruit of the Hedgehog Cactus
(spineless variety)
The flowers bloom from April through June, and are the first to bloom in the desert. Unlike other cacti, they stay open at night, and bloom for about 3 to 5 days.  

For many decades, Echinocereus triglochidiatus has been separated into a dozen or more varieties found throughout the Southwest. There have been numerous revisions of the genus attempting to sort the many varieties into distinct species on the basis of flower structure, spine structure, chromosome number, etc. As of the end of the first decade of the 21st century, there still is no consensus. The drawing I have done, however, is of the "variety" that seems to most commonly be referred to as 
Echinocereus triglochidiatus.

Echinocerens is from the Greek echinos, meaning "a hedgehog," and cereus meaning "a wax taper (candle)." These names refer to the plant's shape and spiny resemblance to a hedgehog (or so the early Europeans thought) and the spines themselves which look like the tapers or candles used at Mass. Triglochidialus means "three barbed bristles" and refers to the fact that many of the spines are arranged in clusters of three.

Echinocereus triglochidiatus is native to North America being found primarily in California, the southern part of the Rocky 
Mountains, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado Texas and Northern Mexico The plants often grow against a rocky outcrop or within a rocky outcrop in the middle elevations of deserts and mountain deserts and occur from 150 - 3000 m. in elevation.

As mentioned, the Hedgehog produces edible fruit.  As well, some Native Americans collect the flower stems, burn off the spines and mash them. Sugar is added and then the mashed stems are baked to make sweet cakes.

I was attracted to the possibility of drawing this plant the first time I saw a photograph of the blossoms.  It just happened to be the variety that has the orange-red petals -- and you know how much I love this colour!  As I began my research in preparation for doing a drawing, I came across all the different colour variations in which these blossoms can occur.  Each shade of red is beautiful and, for a while, I was tempted to forgo using orange-red and using the deep red instead.  Of course, as you can see above, my favourite red won my internal contest!

Much of the information given above was taken from various Internet sources.


Suki wondering why she has been disturbed
during her nap time!  [Photo by Sarah "Sallie"

Thayer, 2014 -- enhanced by Pencil Sketch app]
Suki, for some reason, has been reasonably well behaved this past week. Even her early morning noise making has been modified somewhat. I hope she isn't coming down with something!

Actually, speaking of her early morning noise making, I have discovered that if I can just manage to ignore Suki from between 4 to 5 a.m., she will usually give up and let me sleep until I wake up on my own around 6 a.m.  Of course, the difficult part is ignoring her between 4 to 5 a.m. as this is the hour during which she finds all sorts of ways to make those unpleasant noises.  Lately, I have taken to just putting one of my pillows over my head and waiting for the noise to end.  Some days I manage it and some days I don't.

I can only assume that hunger awakens her around 4 a.m. and pushes her to pester me until I feed her (this is a technique that usually works fairly well for her during the daytime). For whatever reason, the hour between 4 and 5 a.m. seems to be critical.  It is as though she believes that if she can get me up during that time period, she will get fed. On the other hand, she seems to believe that if she hasn't been able to get me out of bed by 5 a.m., then she may as well give up and just go back to sleep and wait!

Of course, this morning Suki had lots of help in the noise making department...  

It seems that some sort of road work, pipeline work or whatever was going on throughout the night just a half block away from my apartment.  I first became aware of the workmen around 10:30 last night when both Suki and I were startled by the sudden eruption of loud, booming noises.  At first I thought we might be in the midst of a really bad thunderstorm, but after checking the balcony for rain, I knew this wasn't the case.  As well, after listening more closely to the noise, I realized that the booms were too regular to be thunder and must be man-made sounds.

Much to my relief (and Suki's), these booming noises stopped by around 11:15 and I was finally able to fall asleep.  Unfortunately, I was awakened a few hours later by a high-pitched electronic sound. It made me feel as though I was trapped in one of those spy movies where the hero is being tortured by the bad guys who are using high-pitched sounds to drive him to the point of revealing the secret computer code that will enable them to control the world's banking! Seriously, it was a most unpleasant sound.

After shutting the balcony door and putting a pillow over my head, I was finally able to get a bit more sleep until Suki started her campaign around 4 a.m.  After such a night I find myself longing to spend a few nights in the house in rural Alabama where I grew up. At night, the only sounds you could hear, other than the occasional faint whine of a big truck as it geared down on the highway a couple of miles from our home, were the sounds of the night birds such as the Whippoorwill or the owl and in the summertime, the cicadas and the distant sound of the frogs who lived in the pond at the bottom of the hill. 

I apologize for so often writing about me and my sleep difficulties, but sleep is one of the ways in which I can escape, to some extent, this chronic physical pain.  When I talk about my sleep problems caused by Suki or outside noises, I am not including the many times I am awakened each night by pain. All it takes is one wrong move in my sleep to bring me fully awake, desperately trying to find a position, quickly, that will bring me just a bit of relief.  

After each of these episodes, I have to try to calm my body down again so that I can fall asleep once more.  Sometimes I have to get up and take additional pain meds, but I try very hard not to do this once I have fallen asleep each night as it is too easy to get confused about the number of pills I have already taken. Sometimes, however, I just don't have any other choice than to get up and take something. I do, however, try to keep the pill bottles situated in such a way so that there is little chance of overdosing.

My only outing this past week was a visit to the lawyer as I had to make some revisions to my Powers of Attorney, etc.  It was tiring, but much less so than going for medical tests would have been! Otherwise, I have had my usual, quiet week with only a few visits from friends along with phone calls from family and friends.



"Jesus Teaching to the Crowds", icon by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2009

All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables. He spoke to them only in parables, to fulfil what had been said through the prophet: I will open my mouth in parables, I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation of the world.  Matthew 13:39

May peace be with you.

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