Sunday, 14 September 2014

Seemannia sylvatica -- Bolivian Sunset

"Seemannia sylvatica -- Bolivian Sunset", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014

The flowers in today's drawing are most often seen as houseplants. This is hardly surprising since they are native to only a small area of the world -- primarily the higher Andes (Bolivia, northern Argentina, southern Peru and southern Ecuador).  Seemannia sylvatica, a brightly-coloured, tubular-shaped flower, is not only the most widely grown of the Seemannia species, but it has also contributed to a number of equally-beautiful hybrids.

All the species in the genus Seemannia (including sylvatica) were previously placed in the genus Gloxinia until a revision of the group in 2005 (this is why you will still sometimes see this plant listed as Gloxinia sylvatica). The revisions resulted in a number of other changes to the Family, Gesneriad, to which both
Seemannia and Gloxinia belong.

The genus name, Seemannia, was given to honour the German botanist Berthold Carl Seemann (born 1825 in Germany – died 1871 in Nicaragua) who travelled widely and collected and described plants from the Pacific and South America. The name assignment was made by the German horticulturalist and botanist, Eduard August von Regel, (1815 - 1892).  Regel ended his career serving as the Director of the Russian Imperial Botanical Garden of St. Petersburg. As the result of naturalists and explorers (such as Seemann) sending back biological collections to the Imperial Botanical Garden, Regel was able to describe and name many previously unknown species from frontiers around the world. 

The species name of sylvatica comes from old Latin, meaning 'of the woods'.  This is the same Latin that gives us such words as sylvan -- a word still used to describe wooded areas in a pleasantly pastoral setting.  Seemannia sylvatica also has common names -- the best known is "Bolivian Sunset" (obviously for the rich colours of the flowers) and "Hardy Gloxinia".  When these flowers are found in gardens, the air around them is often filled with the whirring sounds of hummingbird wings as these birds find the flowers very appealing for satisfying their almost constant need to feed.

Of course, I find the flowers very appealing as well -- particularly the rich colours which were what first attracted me to the plant and made me desire to draw it.  Sadly, even with my almost unlimited palette of colours, I am still not able to capture the natural glowing quality these flowers possess.  Mother Nature always does it better! 



Suki sitting peacefully -- waiting for me 
to wait on her!
Suki has been very pleased with me lately ... I have been sleeping more than usual.  Obviously, you ask, how could my sleeping more possibly please Her Royal Catness? -- I mean it's not like she gets fed every time I fall asleep! So, what is going on here?

Well, my experience is that as much as Suki likes to eat, she likes getting to sleep with me equally well -- or so it seems.

This statement may cause you to remember all the stories I have told about Suki's tricks to awaken me in the morning -- leaving you to wonder exactly what the truth is here.  Well, the truth is that Suki thinks she should eat breakfast at 5 a.m. (even though I have told her over and over that breakfast will be served at 6 a.m.).  Once she has eaten her breakfast, she would be perfectly happy for us both to then return to bed -- together!

Now, what do I mean when I say that I am sleeping more? Well, I am not going back to bed after breakfast -- that's for sure. However, I am going to bed earlier in the evening as I seem to "run out of steam" about 9:30 or 10 now instead of 11 p.m.  This means that Suki's bedtime snack, which I serve her immediately prior to going to bed, is put out at 9:30 or 10.  

As I settle in for the night, I can hear Suki munching away on her favourite food.  Then, usually just as I am about to drift off to sleep, I feel Suki jump up and snuggle in beside me.  For cat lovers, there is no sweeter sound than that of a purring cat settling in next to you as you fall asleep.

Of course, as most of you know, I do not sleep for more than a couple of hours at a time -- no matter how tired I may be.  Usually, after an hour and a half or so I am awakened by pain in some part of me and spend the next little while trying to find a position in which the pain becomes bearable and I can fall asleep again.  

During these restless times, Suki often makes her displeasure known with a plaintive meow or two, but once I have settled down again, she also falls back to sleep.  Sadly, by about the third time I wake up and start moving about, Suki gives up and moves elsewhere for a few hours ... but she almost always comes back to bed with me the next time she hears the sounds that indicate that I am once more awake.

So, as far as I can tell, Suki is pleased about the extra time that we are spending together in bed.  I know she really likes to eat, but that is only when she is hungry and takes about 5 minutes to accomplish.  The requisite bath afterwards takes about 10 to 15 minutes and then that's it... then it's time for more sleep.  So, sleeping takes up a lot more of her time than eating and she seems to like sharing her sleeping time with me.

Otherwise, my week, which included more sleep than previous weeks, was a quiet one.  I do have an appointment this coming week with my doctor at the Pain Clinic where we will be discussing possible changes in my prescriptions for pain medications as well as possible options for surgically relieving some of this pain I experience daily. 



"Icon, Look Upon the Cross and Live", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014 rev.

"No one has ascended into heaven except the One who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him."  John 3:13-17

Remember the story about Moses and the bronze serpent?  It is found in the book of Numbers 21:5-9.  Following is my telling of it:
During the long years that Moses and the Israelites wandered in the desert, the people grew tired and frustrated -- they wanted to reach the "promised land" immediately, if not sooner!  So they began to grumble and complain with poisonous words against God and Moses.  The next thing you know, their camps are suddenly overrun with poisonous serpents and the complainers were being bitten and dying.  So, the people went to Moses, confessed their bad behaviour and asked him to pray to God on their behalf.  Moses did so and God told him:  "Make a poisonous serpent [of bronze] and set it on a pole.  Then let everyone who is bitten look at it and they shall live."  Moses did so and it came to pass that anyone who was bitten only had to look upon the bronze serpent and they would live.

In today's Gospel, Christ calls this story to mind and uses it as a comparison to what He will accomplish when He is placed upon the cross -- "a pole".  So, what does it mean to me, to you, when we hear the words "look upon the cross of Christ and live"?

What does it mean when God says that He loves the world so much that He is willing to give up everything for us -- even allowing us to attempt to kill Him, to crush Him out of existence?  That kind of love is truly beyond my comprehension.  Think of the world, the people, us, and then think of how we treat the earth, its creatures and one another. I marvel that Love still loves, even now ... that God loved the world so much that He gave (and continues to give) His only Son...

I pray for mercy and peace for us all.  

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