Sunday, 6 December 2015

Protea cynaroides, the King

"King Protea (Protea cynaroides) times Four", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

Protea cynaroides is a distinctive member of the genus, Protea, with its claim to having the largest flower head in the genus. Protea cynaroides is commonly known as Giant Protea as well as King Sugar Bush, or Honeypot. It is native to various parts of Southern Africa. The King Protea is the national flower of South Africa. 

P. cynaroides is a member of the huge family Proteaceae. The family comprises about 80 genera with approximately 1600 species. 

The "flowers" of Protea cynaroides are actually composite flower heads (termed an inflorescence) with a collection of flowers in the centre surrounded by large colourful bracts. The flowerheads vary in size, from about 120 mm to 300 mm in diameter. Large, vigorous plants produce six to ten flower heads in one season, although some exceptional plants can produce up to forty flower heads on one plant. The colour of the bracts of the Giant Protea vary from a creamy white to a deep crimson but the soft, pale pink bracts with a silvery sheen are the most prized. 

The name of the plant family Proteaceae as well as the genus Protea, to which P. cynaroides belongs, is derived from the name of the Greek god, Proteus, a deity that was able to change into many forms. This is an appropriate image, seeing as both the family and the genus are known for their astonishing variety and diversity of flowers and leaves. The species name, cynaroides, refers to the artichoke-like appearance of the flower-heads. Cynara, the family to which artichokes belong, comes from the Greek kynara which means "artichoke".

"King Protea (Protea cynaroides) --
Bud and Flower", drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer,  2012

As many of you who are faithful readers of my blog may recall, I have featured Proteas previously. 

Back in 2012, I posted a drawing (see left) of Protea cynaroides or King Protea (also known as the King Sugar Bush) showing the flower heads in two stages:
(1) the bracts still completely closed; and,
(2) the bracts just opening to the point where, soon, the tiny flowers in the centre of the flower head will be revealed.    

"Cape Sugar Bush (Protea repens)",
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011 
In 2011, I posted a drawing of another Protea known as Protea repens or Cape Sugar Bush (see right).  These flowers, unlike those of the King Protea, normally have colourful red bracts -- instead of the white or pink of the King Protea. 

This drawing shows the flower heads in three different stages: 
(1) the bracts still completely closed; 
(2) the bracts beginning to open; and, 
(3) the bracts open so that the flowers at the centre are beginning to be revealed.

Protea repens was the National Flower of South Africa up to 1976 at which time Protea cynaroides was named as the national flower in its place.

Rather than just doing a typical drawing of the flower heads of the Giant Protea as I had done previously, I decided to try to create a design using both the flower heads as well as the leaves.  At this point, I feel somewhat pleased with the result, but this sense of satisfaction will most likely fade away soon enough and I will end up experimenting with some other pattern or design!  

Much of the above information regarding P. cynaroides was taken from Internet sources.


"Suki in Sepia"
It has now reached the point, my friends, where I am only allowed to spend the first hour and a half of my morning sitting in my comfortable recliner!

Usually, I sit myself down, bowl of cereal in hand, at 6 a.m. At which point, I turn on the TV and watch my favourite Canadian news channel for the first half hour and my second favourite Canadian all-news channel for the next half hour. Then during the following half hour I watch one of the U.S. news channels while switching back and forth between it and my favourite Canadian news channel (I apologize to my U.S. readers, but I can only watch so much U.S. news before I need a break -- especially if they run interviews with certain politicians presently trying to move up in the polls during this pre-pre-pre-primary time).

It is close to the ending of the 3rd half hour segment that I now can expect to hear a loud meow coming from somewhere below my reclining chair.  I know, without even looking, that Suki has now placed herself just beyond where my feet would be if the chair were in a sitting position. As the meowing continues, I sigh resignedly and lower the chair so that my feet are now on the floor and Suki is very visible.  At this exact moment, the meowing stops and the staring begins.  

After a few minutes of staring, I can see that Suki is tensing her body in order to make the required jump that will land her in my lap.  I know that if I want to be able to get up and continue with the activities of my day that I need to move now or else allow myself to be used as a seat cushion for the next several hours (remember, Suki does not take at all kindly to a seat cushion that wiggles, moves around or attempts to dislodge her!).

As soon as I begin to rise from the chair, Suki make a leap which takes her to the exact centre of the recliner's seat cushion -- probably the warmest spot of all.  Then, after she slowly turns a couple of times, she plops herself down and curls herself into a ball-like position.  Next, she either takes a moment to wash her paws or she just goes quickly to sleep.  

I, on the other hand, am now chair-less and faced with the need to do certain chores before I sit down again.  So, for the next few minutes I do a few task including straightening things up a bit in the kitchen until the pain level begins to rise noticeably.  At this point, I head for the second most comfortable chair in my home -- the ergonomic one that I have had my computer desk.

And so my life goes... everything else remaining much the same.  I have a couple of medical appointments scheduled this week.  As well, I will be busy getting ready for next Sunday -- that's the day that my boys will be visiting with their parents so that we can celebrate an early Christmas together.  I ordered a number of little gifts for the boys online and am really looking forward to watching them open their presents.  Braden is just the right age to still find Christmas to be "that most wonderful time of year." Rònàn, at 13+ months, is just the right age to get terribly excited by whatever excites his older brother.

Then there is also the matter of my birthday on the day after next Sunday so I imagine that the boys (with their parents' assistance) will have a birthday card for me as well.  I hope Braden doesn't ask my age.  The last time a child of 3 or 4 tried to guess my age, I was told that I was probably very old -- maybe 16 or something like that!  



"Icon -- St. John the Baptist -- A Voice Crying in the Wilderness",
by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014

In the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar’s reign, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judaea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of the lands of Ituraea and Trachonitis, Lysanias tetrach of Abilene, during the pontificate of Annas and Caiaphas the word of God came to John son of Zechariah, in the wilderness. He went through the whole Jordan district proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the sayings of the prophet Isaiah: A voice cries in the wilderness: Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley will be filled in, every mountain and hill be laid low, winding ways will be straightened and rough roads made smooth. And all mankind shall see the salvation of God.  Luke 3:1-6

"... and the rough roads will be made smooth."  Whatever else may be implied by this statement, made both by Isaiah and St. John the Baptist, the cessation of discomfort would seem to be primary. As well, filling in valleys, leveling mountains and straightening roads would all seem to indicate ways of making life much easier for a people whose main mode of transportation was walking or riding donkeys. 

In other words, or so it seems to me, what is being promised here are ways to not only make transportation easier, but, more importantly, ways of decreasing discomfort of every kind.

Like so many promises made in Scripture, we are still waiting for their complete fulfillment.  This is what makes faith and hope two of the three parts of that essential trinity required in order for us to live as well-balanced followers of Christ.

And so I pray: 

As I continue to walk this journey of such great suffering, may I never forget these words -- "And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three ..." (I Cor. 13:13)

May I always remember that these three, kept in balance, will bring me that peace which passes all understanding even when I am faced with the highest of mountains and the roughest of roads.


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