Sunday, 9 August 2015

Wurmbea stricta -- Rice Flower

"Wurmbea stricta -- Rice Flower", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

Wurmbea stricta is another one of those little-known flowers from South Africa. Identified in the past as Onixotis stricta, Onixotis triquetra and Dipidax triquetra, botanists have finally decided that its correct designation is Wurmbea stricta.  This plant is a member of the Family, Colchicaceae (of the order, Liliales [Lilies], this family includes some two hundred species of herbaceous perennials with rhizomes or corms).

It has spikes of pale, purple-pink to white flowers with reddish-purple centers. The foliage is about 10-12” tall and rush-like, which seems appropriate since this plant prefers bog-like areas.  The species distribution is the western reaches of the Western Cape and northwards into Namaqualand (an arid region of Namibia and South Africa) even though the probability of finding suitable conditions for this water-loving plant must be low. It also grows on the eastern coast west of Port Elizabeth, South Africa. 

Wurmbea stricta is commonly known as Rice Flower, Spike Lily or Water Phlox. In Afrikaans, it is called Rysblommetjie which means “little rice flower”. The genus name of Wurmbea comes from Friedrick Wilhelm von Wurmb, a merchant and botanist in 18th century Batavia (Jakarta, Indonesia). I assume that he must have been the first to describe this plant in the literature.  Stricta is from the Latin and means “erect, upright” referring to the flower spikes and the erect, dark-green leaves which have been described as looking like knitting needles. This plant is sought out by bees, butterflies and some birds.

The flowers of Wurmbea stricta, I believe, are not that large, but as is the case with Nature, even the smallest things are beautifully and intricately designed.

Most of the above information was taken from various Internet sources.


Another very quiet week for both of us. Monday, of course, was a holiday in most areas of Canada which made things even quieter since neither Suki nor I did anything special ... it was just another day for us. There were no special visitors during the week -- just the usual visits of Joycelyn and Sharon.  As well, there were no appointments of any kind.  

There were a few phone calls from friends, but most of the phone calls were computer- generated calls from the campaign offices of politicians trying to get me to vote for them in the upcoming elections in October.  I really do hate those calls as I know that my slamming down the telephone receiver has no effect whatsoever on a computer!  Occasionally I get a real, live person calling to tell me about the wonders of their particular politician. When this happens, I stop them mid-spiel and tell them that they are wasting their time as I have never become a Canadian citizen and, therefore, am not able to vote in Canada.  Usually this ends the conversation abruptly; however, sometimes they reply by saying something like: "well, wouldn't you like to tell your friends and neighbours to vote for so-and-so?"  To which I always respond:  "piffle" or something a bit more explicit before replacing the receiver with a loud bang. 

As you no doubt have noticed, I am not providing you with any special stories about Suki for the second week in a row. This is due to the fact that she continues to be reasonably well behaved! I must say that I am still feeling a bit uneasy about her "good" behaviour; however, I keep telling myself that I should just relax and enjoy it for as long as it lasts.

Instead of a Suki story let me tell you about an email conversation I had this past week. A friend of mine was asking me about how I make decisions about identifying people in some of the photos I publish on my blog.  For example, I sometimes only give initials or a first name when identifying the person in a photo or the person who took a particular photo.  On the other hand, I sometimes provide the full names of people along with other identifying information. I thought some of you might be interested to read my response:
I make it a rule to never show photos of people or give their full names unless I am certain that they are willing to be identified and exposed that way. In spite of today’s trend of “selfies” and posting of personal photos all over the place on Facebook, I tend to be very cautious about such matters as I know about too many cases of problems and even crimes that have resulted from such exposure. Any photos you see posted on my blog these days, along with any information that would enable others to identify them, are there with the express permission of the person who took them and/or of the person photographed.
In the case of people who have already chosen to let themselves be identified in the various social media, I give only that information that I know if easily available online. For example, I don’t have to be too concerned when identifying someone like my friend, Rose Marie, who has often had her photo and identity made public due to her participation in art shows and various teaching jobs at art camps, etc. This is not the case with many of my other friends and acquaintances. While they have posted photos of themselves on Facebook, they have used privacy settings so that, hopefully, only their Facebook friends can see their private information.
Of course, most of us realize now that the Internet, for all its advantages, can be a dangerous place. Whatever you post on it can be seen by all sorts of people – many of whom you might not wish to see how you look, know your full name or where you live. I have made a choice to be a “public person” and I am fully aware that this involves a certain amount of risk. So much crime is happening on the Internet these days, especially hacking into other people’s web sites and email accounts, that people really need to learn to never post anything that they would mind anyone seeing or reading. If you want to keep something private, don’t write it in an email, post it on Facebook or publish it on your blog or web site!



"Icon -- Mother of the Bread of Life", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, Rev. 2015

Jesus answered and said to them, “Stop murmuring among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day. It is written in the prophets: They shall all be taught by God. Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”   Jn. 6:44-51

The passage from last Sunday continues with Christ reiterating, even more firmly, the things He has already said.  He speaks words that over 2,000 years later are still impossible for us to really understand in spite of all the commentaries, sermons and meditations that have been written about this chapter in St. John's Gospel.  I certainly would not be so foolish as to try to add anything to these learned comments; rather, I will simply sit in silence before such incredible words and ask Our Lady for wisdom and understanding while repeating those ancient words of the Archangel and St. Elizabeth:

"Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee... blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb..." Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us...


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