Sunday, 8 February 2015

Papaver orientale -- Oriental Poppy

"Papaver orientale -- Oriental Poppy", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015


Papaver orientale, the Oriental poppy, is a perennial flowering plant native to the Caucasus, northeastern Turkey and northern Iran. P. orientale naturally produces brilliant orange-scarlet flowers; however, since the late 19th century, selective breeding for gardens has created a range of colors from clean white with eggplant-black blotches to clear true pinks and salmon pinks to deep maroons and plum. In addition petals may be creased or fringed. The Family name for poppies is Papaveraceae

Papaver comes from the Latin and means “anesthetic” – referring, of course, to the plant’s well-known qualities for numbing pain – and is the genus name for all members of the poppy family including the well-known Papaver somniferum, native to Southeastern Europe and western Asia. (Also known as the opium poppy, the species is cultivated extensively in many countries, including Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan, Holland, Poland, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, India, Canada, and many Asian and Central and South American countries). 

Orientale is Latin for “from the East”.  As to the species name of Orientale, I have read articles where the authors have declared that this is a misnomer as the plant is native to southwestern Asia and not the Far East. However, I would disagree as the Latin “Orientale” simply means “from the East” – not “from the Orient”.


The various varieties of the poppy plant have been used medically throughout the ages. As we all know too well, those same properties have been misused throughout the ages. However, I, personally, owe a debt of gratitude to this ancient plant as it provides me with the morphine I need in order to keep moving each day including the ability to produce this blog posting each Sunday! 

As you probably know, almost all parts of Papaver contain some amount of narcotic alkaloids; however, the poppy seeds, and the oil that can be expressed from the seeds, have extremely low levels of such alkaloids because they develop after the capsule has lost its main opium-yielding potential. 

So the next time you have a piece of delicious poppy seed cake or a poppy seed muffin, not to worry – you won’t spend the rest of the day stoned unless you consume about 2 ½ to 3 lbs. of the seeds! True, eating a couple of poppy seed muffins can give you a false-positive on a drug test (remember the Seinfeld episode "The Shower Head", where the character, Elaine Benes, was not allowed to visit Kalahari Bushmen with J. Peterman after testing positive for opium from the consumption of poppy seed muffins?). So, if your company is planning on doing random drug testing any time soon, take my advice and stay away from those poppy seed bagels! 

Seriously, though, all members of the genus Papaver have provided mankind with much aid throughout the centuries -- mainly through the relief of all types of pain but also as effective sleep aids, muscle relaxants, aid for the control of severe diarrhoea and as a means of controlling various types of spasms (Restless Legs Syndrome, for example). 

As to the Oriental Poppy featured in today’s posting, I have only seen one photograph of this particular cultivar. I found the colours so striking and unforgettable that I finally decided to try and draw it.


Some portions of the above were taken from various Internet sources.
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RONÀN AND BRADEN


Ronàn is all ready for playtime!




Sorry about the fuzzy photo, but I wanted to show you what 
Braden thinks about all this snow!  Now he can't even seen out of his window!!




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SUKI AND SALLIE

Suki wondering why I am not
sitting in my chair as she feels
it is time for a nap in my lap!
For some unknown reason, this has been a fairly quiet week for both myself and Suki. The crazy cat has been reasonably well behaved and the snowy, cold weather has kept us both snugly indoors for the duration.

Suki has not provided me with any more opportunities to "sleep-in", but, then, neither has she tried to awaken me at an unreasonable time of the morning.  

She continues to insist on sleeping on top of my legs which in the afternoon and evening are stretched out fully in my big recliner and covered with a warm lap robe.  As most of you know, my big recliner is like a second bed for me.  Actually, on some of the really bad days, it is the only place where I seem to be able to arrange myself with the least amount of pain.  Fortunately, Suki tends to stay very still once she has gotten comfortable which means she usually doesn't add to my discomfort.

We both sit and look out the window occasionally.  I have been watching the snow accumulate and Suki has been watching for any signs of those dastardly pigeons that only rarely try to make a landing on my balcony.  

Speaking of pigeons, reminds me that I am, actually, very fortunate. Having had one cat or another all the many years I have lived in this apartment means that the pigeons seldom land on my balcony. I suppose that the sight of a cat chattering away at them (you know that funny sound cats make when they site their prey) must make them rather nervous.  So many of my neighbours have had terrible problems with pigeon mess on their balconies while mine has remained almost pigeon free.

So, Suki keeps the pigeons off the balcony and keeps me from having to purchase an alarm clock.  Are there any other services she provides?  Let's see, she helps to keep my head warm when I am sleeping by crawling onto my pillow; she makes me laugh when I am feeling blue; she's always ready to interact with me should I feel lonesome...  I guess I can say that she earns her keep!


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FIFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME




"Icon -- Christ the Teacher and Healer", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2009

On leaving the synagogue Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them.
When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. The whole town was gathered at the door. He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him.  Mk. 1:29-34

Today's Gospel is actually Mk. 1:29-39; however, I chose to only post the verses 29-34 as they relate directly to Christ healing -- and by those healings, I feel, He was actually teaching the people about God's love.

I've often wondered about the healings that Christ did during those three years he wandered around Palestine and its environs.  What an interesting and exciting thing it must have been to either witness such a healing or be healed yourself.  

Of course, even after experiencing such a healing, a person was not invulnerable and would eventually get sick with something else and die -- just as we all do. That's why I have always thought that those healings -- both by Christ and by the early Church -- were ways of teaching about the love and compassion of God.

I have heard people say that if God exists and really loves us, there wouldn't be sickness leading to death in the world.  But if we believe in a loving God, why are we so reluctant to die?  True, this life has many good things in it, but isn't it only an introduction to an eternal life free of the sickness, suffering, pain and death that we seem to fear so much?  Or do we really believe that to be true?

When things are dark and the pain of life seems almost unbearable, may I never forget those words:  "let not your heart be troubled... in my Father's house there are blessings beyond imagining... I would not have told you these things if they were not true..." (my paraphrase of John 14:1-2).

May that peace which comes from trusting that we are loved beyond imagining be with us all today and throughout the week ahead.

Amen.

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