Sunday, 26 October 2014

Gigasiphon macrosiphon

"Gigasiphon macrosiphon Flower", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014

The seeds of the Gigasiphon macrosiphon tree
Today's drawing is of a very beautiful flower produced by the Gigasiphon macrosiphon tree in East Africa. Gigasiphon macrosiphon is a medium-sized tree, one of three species in the genus Gigasiphon (family Fabiaceae [legumes]).
It produces large, very striking, white flowers striped with yellow. The tree grows to about 20 meters in height. The seeds are hard, smooth and button-shaped, with a light stripe around the perimeter.  [see photo above -- the seeds look so satiny as though they would be a pleasure to hold and rub]. 

G. macrosiphon grows in moist lowland and coastal forests in Kenya and Tanzania where continual destruction of coastal forests, combined with use of this tree for firewood, tools, charcoal and lumber, has reduced the G. macrosiphon population to less than 50 known mature trees in the wild. These are to be found in four forest reserves in Kenya and two forest reserves as well as the Kihansi Gorge and Rondo plateau in Tanzania.  Even though it seems such a shame that this beautiful tree would be destroyed for firewood and charcoal, it is understandable that the poor people in these countries desperately need these items in order to cook their food and keep warm. 

I have been unable, thus far, to find out what common names have been given to this tree by the local people; however, the "proper" names have fairly well known Greek roots! Gigasiphone comes from the Greek "gigas" meaning "giant" and "siphon" meaning "a tube". Macrosiphon comes from the Greek "macro" meaning "large" and "siphon" (see above).  We are left with a name which means, basically, a"large, giant tube".  Of course, I am not really sure to which part of the tree this designation refers -- maybe the tubular-like branches that hold the flowers. (If anyone out there knows why this tree was so defined, please let me know by either posting a comment to the blog or writing me at

Gigasiphon macrosiphon was designated as endangered in 1997. A report, issued in conjunction with the Zoological Society of London in 2012, placed this species on the list of the 100 most endangered species on the planet.  What a sad thought that this tree may disappear from its native setting on the planet in the not too distant future.

Sections of the above paragraphs were taken from various Internet sources.



"Big-Eyed Suki", drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014
Poor Suki met a new monster this week... a man from one of the City departments who was going throughout our building checking on all the fire and smoke alarms in each apartment -- including the one where Suki lives!

Suki and I were having a nice, quiet, ordinary morning when, all of a sudden, I saw Suki's ears go back and watched as her fur bristled up around her neck.  At that point, even though Suki was obviously concerned about something, I had no idea what she was hearing.  Soon, however, I, too, could hear the unmistakable noise of fire and smoke alarms going off in the distance and appearing to get ever closer to us.

As the sounds grew louder and louder, Suki appeared to become larger and larger (she soon looked rather like a porcupine) as cats do when a threat is perceived.  As well, I began to hear that low growl coming from her which says:  "you had better not mess with me!" Of course, all of this was simply a bluff evidenced by the fact that the moment we heard someone banging on the front door of the apartment, brave Suki "deflated" and with her ears flat against her head, made a mad dash for the bedroom closet.

It only took about five, very unpleasant, minutes for the man to test both the smoke and fire alarms in my place; however, Suki remained safely hidden in the back of the bedroom closet for the next hour and half.  I guess she didn't want to take any chances that this new "monster" might return.  

As for me, I didn't like having to put up with the noise in the building and in my apartment, but I fully understand the necessity for such testing .... and once they had finished on my floor, things became relatively quiet again in my home.

As for the rest of my week, I did receive that expected visit from my dear friend and it was lovely to see her again.  As well, another friend, who is a professional hair stylist, came by for a visit and gave me a haircut while she was here.  Now I no longer look like a shaggy sheep dog with hair hanging down over my eyes!

Otherwise, things have been quiet, thankfully, as the pain has actually been a bit worse this week.  In fact, I am saddened to report that some really serious pain has now moved from my neck and into my right shoulder and arm.  Once again, this is nerve pain caused by the pressure of my spinal cord.

I am hoping that these new pains will subside somewhat, but, if not, I am concerned as to what this may mean concerning my future art work.  As you can imagine, it will be very distressing for me should I lose my ability to express myself through art .... And should I find myself unable to continue drawing, then I will lose the express purpose for which my blog, "salliesart", was established.  I may have to rename it, calling it something like "Suki's Page"! I will keep you informed, of course.



"Icon, Christ Healer -- Let the Children Come", by the hand of
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2009, rev.

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees they got together and, to disconcert him, one of them put a question, ‘Master, which is the greatest commandment of the Law?’ Jesus said, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second resembles it: You must love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang the whole Law, and the Prophets also.’  Matt 22:34-40

As you can see, I am using an one of my older icons showing Christ the healer.  It is also the icon of the passage "let the little children come unto me for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven."  I decided to use it to express the second great law mentioned in today's Gospel:  "love you neighbour as yourself".

Even though so many of us do not really keep the first great law of loving God above all else, a great many people do keep the second law of loving their neighbours.  We only have to look around us to see the evidence of this.  Everywhere we turn there are people doing kind things for others whether as part of their vocation, as volunteers or simply because they want to be kind to others.

True, our motives are usually mixed with everything from altruism to that desire to be seen by others as "good people".  Whatever the motivation, however, many of us do end up putting others first occasionally.  Thank goodness for that as this life can be so difficult and it is so often only love that makes it bearable.

I pray for the ability to be really kind to others -- the ability to be really generous with my gifts ... however limited they may be -- and the grace to love when being loving means putting my neighbour before myself.

May we all experience the joy and peace found in loving others and in allowing others to love us.


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