Thursday, 22 December 2016

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Gladiolus alatus

"Gladiolus alatus", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

There are about 250 species of Gladiolus in Africa and Madagascar and into Eurasia with about 160 species found within the borders of southern Africa. Gladiolus alatus, today’s featured species of Gladiolus, is commonly known as “Little Turkey” because its flower petals resemble the colourful wattle of a turkey. 

Gladiolus alatus is native to an area from southern Namibia south throughout the Cape Peninsula of South Africa. It is found growing on sandy slopes with sandstone and granite soils. 

It is a very brightly coloured plant with its showy, fragrant orange and yellowish-green winged flowers. The flowers are short-lived, lasting about a week. The leaves are firm, sickle-shaped and ribbed, usually in clusters of 5 or more. Gladiolus alatus flowers from August to October. 

The bright colours and sweetly scented flowers of Gladiolus alatus attract numerous pollinators, particularly the honey bee in search of nectar. 

Gladiolus in Latin means ‘small sword', referring to the sword-shaped leaves of this plant. Alatus (Latin for ‘winged') refers to the wing-shaped petals and seeds. 

At this time, Gladiolus alatus is not a threatened species.

Portions of the above text were taken from various Internet sites.


What can I say about Miss Suki except that she has been reasonably well behaved for another week. Perhaps she has been listening to the words of the Christmas song which says: 
Remember, Suki, Santa is watching!

You better watch out, You better not cry, You better not pout I'm telling you why, Santa Claus is coming to town. 
He's making a list, He's checking it twice, He's gonna find out who's naughty or nice, Santa Claus is coming to town. 
He sees you when you're sleeping, And he knows when you're awake, He knows if you've been bad or good, So be good for goodness sake. 

If this is the case, then I suppose I had better think about getting her some presents to open on Christmas morning! I do have a big bag of her favourite cat treats hidden in the cupboard and there is a catnip mouse which has never been out of the package. So, I had better get them wrapped and into her Christmas stocking! 

Well, we were supposed to have a big snowstorm here in Toronto this past Friday evening. Actually, I was hoping we would have a blizzard. I know that sounds crazy (and rather unkind to those people who have to shovel their sidewalks and driveways), but after a blizzard the most amazing thing happens in this City of about 3 million people – it goes quiet – all the cars, buses, streetcars, trains, trucks, subways, etc. suddenly stop. 

Info about Toronto's 1999 Snowstorm
I remember going out onto my balcony soon after the worst of the snow ended in the blizzard of 1999 and I was amazed and awed by the silence. There were no vehicles anywhere that first day, but, by the second day, the first of the snow plows arrived and began their noisy, smelly task of turning all that beautiful, white snow into grey slush. 

There was another occasion back in about 1968 – soon after my husband and I had moved to Toronto – when there was a major snowstorm that shut down the City for a day or two. This was our first big Toronto snowstorm experience. So, we had been carefully watching the storm from our cozy apartment throughout the day and when the snow finally ended about 11 p.m., we bundled up in our recently purchased Canadian army surplus store coats and boots. This meant that once we put on our toques and mittens we were reasonably comfortable even in the bitter cold. 

Thus protected, we set off for a late-night walk in the newly fallen snow. By now, the moon, almost full, was visible in the night sky. As the snow was still blowing, we tried to walk in the spots where the wind had blown most of the snow into huge drifts. In the light of the moon and the occasional street light, it looked as though the snow had been sprinkled with tiny, silver flakes and the air sparkled with them as the wind made the unpacked snow swirl and dance. 

The place where we were living at that time was only a few blocks north of Lake Ontario – a location known as the Scarborough Bluffs – sandy cliffs (quite high in some places) that led straight down to a narrow beach filled with driftwood and such. We made that our destination.  As we walked through those snowy, moonlit surroundings, it seemed to me that we were walking in a fairy land. The strangest part of all was that it was so quiet that I could hear the waves hitting the shore from two blocks away. 

We walked all the way to the edge of one of the highest cliffs. It had been very cold before it had started snowing the previous night and with the moon shining across the water, we could see chunks of ice floating in the waves of that dark, inland sea. This was perhaps the most magical walk I ever took in my life. Truly, it was an unforgettable experience.

Hope you didn't mind my reminiscing, but it keeps me from complaining about all my aches and pains!

Are you ready for Christmas?  


Fourth Sunday of Advent


Sunday, 11 December 2016

Protea witzenbergiana - Swan Sugarbush

"Protea witzenbergiana - Swan Sugarbush", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Protea is both the botanical name and the English common name of a genus of South African flowering plants known commonly across the genus as sugar bushes (Afrikaans: suikerbos). 

The genus Protea was named in 1735 by Carl Linnaeus after the Greek god, Proteus, who could change his form at will, because this ancient family (Proteaceae) has such a wide variety of forms. In fact, Proteas’ ancestors were known to be growing in what is now the Cape area of South Africa 75 to 80 million years ago. 

Most Proteas (92%) occur only in what is known as the “Cape Floristic Region,” a narrow belt of mountainous coastal land located in the southwestern corner of South Africa. The extraordinary richness and diversity of species characteristic of the Cape Floristic Region is thought to be caused in part by the diverse landscape where populations can become isolated from each other and in time develop into separate species. 

Today’s featured drawing bears the name Protea witzenbergiana and is commonly known as the Swan Sugarbush. It is a perfect example of a specific plant which developed in a “diverse landscape where populations can become isolated from each other and in time develop into separate species”

The Swan Sugarbush, also known as “Creeping Mountain Rose”, is a sprawling shrub with grayish-green, needle-like leaves (they look similar to pine needles). The stems bear cup-shaped flower heads composed of red/reddish-brown bracts. They are found only in the area of Witzenberg Municipality, a local municipality located within the Cape Winelands District Municipality in the Western Cape province of South Africa (see map at,+6835,+South+Africa/@-33.39775,14.8228421,6z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x1dcd699073578c4b:0x392808e69c847c75!8m2!3d-33.4006883!4d19.295048).

Together, with the springbok antelope, the Protea had been treated as a sometimes controversial national symbol in South Africa both during and after apartheid. For example, today the South African national cricket team is known as "The Proteas". During apartheid, the team composed of white players was known as “The Springboks” while the so-called “coloured team” was known as “The Proteas”. 

Unfortunately, in spite of the greater awareness of Protea witzenbergiana and all the other Proteas, this plant, along with many of its relatives, is now on South Africa’s “Red List” of endangered plants.  So sad...I wonder sometimes if it is even possible for us to ever learn how to co-exist peacefully with the rest of time.

Portions of the above text were taken from various Internet sources.



Suki waiting impatiently for me
to come home

I am too tired today to say much of anything about either Suki or myself!

I will take the time to tell you that I left home at 8 a.m. yesterday and then travelled by car for about 55 minutes until I reached the home of "my boys".  I got there in time for a delicious breakfast cooked up expertly by their parents.  Afterwards, the parents and I tried to just sit and visit a bit over coffee; however, the boys were determined that they should be the centre of my attention and thus, effectively, kept us adults from anything close to a normal conversation.

The boys getting ready to tear
into their Christmas gifts from me.
After a while, we made our way to the front of the house where the Christmas tree is located and the boys got to open my gifts for them -- it was sort of an early Christmas for the boys and a celebration of my birthday. The gifts I had given the children kept them busy for a few minutes while we adults also exchanged a few small gifts.

By about noon, I was exhausted and the boys had to get ready to go to a party. So, soon I was on my way back home. An hour later, I opened the door to find Suki sitting there, meowing mournfully. It was an hour past her lunch time and so she was very hungry. As well, it was time for her medication.

After Suki had eaten her fill and I had gotten myself into comfortable clothes, I plugged in the kettle on so that I could make myself something to drink. Then we both collapsed into my recliner -- me sitting with my legs stretched out covered with a throw and Suki curled up on top.  We stayed this way for several hours before either of us moved again. Suki fell asleep almost immediately and although I was trying not to sleep (sleeping during the day tends to ruin my nighttime sleep), I am pretty certain that I fell asleep, briefly, a couple of times at least.

Now, although I did manage to get a decent night's sleep last night, I find that I remain very tired and all I was to do right now is get back to my recliner, my comfy throw and Suki!

Hope you all understand and I will try my best to provide you with a new story about Suki next week.



Third Sunday of Advent


Sunday, 4 December 2016

Leucospermum cordifolium -- Pincushion

"Leucospermum cordifolium -- Pincushion Protea", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Leucospermum cordifolium, commonly known as “Pincushion”, belongs to the Protea family and is indigenous to South Africa. It is native to a fairly small area of the South Western Cape where it can be found growing in acidic, nutrient-poor soils. The bright orange "flowers" combined with abundant pale green leaves make it a very recognizable plant.  Other genera of the Protea family, which produce striking flowers, are Leucadendron and Protea

Cape Sugarbird
An added attraction during flowering time are the numerous birds found near the plants. In the early hours of the morning the abundant nectar flow attracts a variety of small insects, which in turn attract the Cape Sugar bird and three species of Sunbird. These insectivorous birds consume the small insects as well as the nectar, and in the process transfer pollen from one flower to the next. The flowers are not self-pollinating and depend on the birds and the small Scarab beetles for pollination. 

Leucospermum cordifolium is a rounded spreading shrub which can grow to about 2 m. in diameter and 1.5 m. high, with a single main stem and horizontally spreading stems with abundant, heart-shaped, green leaves. Leucospermums are brilliantly coloured in shades of red, orange and bright yellow with orange being predominant. The “blossoms” consist of a large number of small flowers. It is the stiff protruding styles of the flowers which are the source of the common name of "pincushion" for this genus. 

Only a few large, hard, white, nut-like seeds are produced by each “blossom”. In their natural environment the seeds are collected by ants, stored in the soil, and germinate only after a fire has killed the mature plants and returned the nutrients back to the soil. 

The genus name of Leucospermum, meaning “white seed”, is a combination of two Greek words: leuco meaning white and spermum meaning seed. The species name of cordifolium, meaning “heart-shaped leaf”, is a combination of two Latin words: cordi meaning heart and folium meaning leaf.

Portions of the above text were taken from various Internet sources.


For more than a few years now I have taken time on every Sunday morning to reflect on Suki's behaviour during the past week.

As you will be aware, if you are a regular reader of these postings, Suki often does some interesting, unexpected and, occasionally, comical things. However, every so often, she goes through a period of weeks where her behaviour is almost exemplary -- and, it would seem that we are going through such a period at present.

For the past several weeks, Suki has, indeed, been relatively well behaved. Not only has she refrained from nocturnal naughtiness while I am sleeping, but she has also allowed me to sleep (most days) until 6:30 or even 7 a.m.

As this is about the third week in a row during which her behaviour has been relatively decent, I am now beginning to get just a bit nervous.  It is like waiting for the other shoe to drop. You know something is going to happen and as you wait and wait, the tension and unease seem to grow with each passing day. 

Suki is one of the cleverest cats I have ever known so I'm sure it won't be much longer before she comes up with something new -- something that will make her life more pleasant and my life more difficult.  What a cat!

As for me, I continue to feel rather grumpy.  I have been feeling this way ever since my computer crash early last month.  I know I don't have any real cause to complain as I, prudently, had long ago installed an external hard drive which did an update every night at about 3 a.m.  This means that I didn't lose anything of importance. However, I still feel somewhat irritated as I try to find my way on this new machine with its updated software. Ah, well, I'm sure I will feel better about things in time.

Otherwise, my life remains reasonably quiet and not too uncomfortable.  I have no medical appointments scheduled but there are a number of visits planned in the weeks ahead as we approach my birthday and Christmas. One of the most exciting of these visits will occur next Saturday when I am scheduled to visit "my boys" and their parents for an early Christmas celebration. If all goes as planned, I will be able to tell you about it in next Sunday's posting.


Second Sunday of Advent


Sunday, 27 November 2016

Adonis annua

"Adonis annua -- Adonis Buttercup", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

The Family name of Adonis annua is Ranunculaceae, meaning that it is a member of the buttercup family which provides us with one of its common names of “Adonis Buttercup”.  For some reason, this plant, native to Africa, Asia and parts of Europe has a plethora of common names including Autumn Pheasant’s Eye, Blood-drops and Red Morocco, to mention just a few. I would attribute the large number of common names to this plant’s wide growing range.

The Adonis annua plants can grow up to 50 cm in height and be many-branched. The leaves are finely dissected with bright-green, narrow segments. The flowers resembles those of the anemone with deep red petals and a dark basal spot. The flowers range in size from 15 to 25 mm. There are rarely more than 30 bright red flowers per plant. A. annua is described in ancient documents as a "Eurasian herb cultivated for its deep red flowers with dark centers."

Adonis, Greek God
of Life-Death-Rebirth

The genus name of, Adonis*, is taken from the name of the Greek god of plants. The specific name of “annua” is Latin for annual.
 * Modern scholarship sometimes describes Adonis as an annually renewed, ever-youthful vegetation god, a life-death-rebirth deity whose nature is tied to the calendar. His name is often applied in modern times to handsome youths, of whom he is the archetype.

I, actually, did a drawing of Adonis annua back in 2009 in which I attempted to show the flower, leaves and seeds of this ancient plant. (see below)

"Adonis annua -- Flower, Leaves and Seeds",
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2009 

Portions of the above text were taken from various Internet sources.


Suki emerges from under the
blanket on my recliner!
Now that the cooler weather is finally here (although it still isn't as cool as I would prefer), Suki has returned to her practice of interfering with my after-dinner activities. In other words, she insists on spending the evening hours either under or on top of the blanket which I throw across my legs as I stream my movies or TV series or read one of my many Kindle books.

I realize that to many of you this situation will sound like something pleasing and pleasurable.  I mean, the idea of spending a wintry evening comfortably ensconced in a comfortable recliner with a blanket across your legs while your house cat curls between your legs sleeping soundly does sound cozy, almost idyllic. However, that cat is 12 lbs. of dead weight which can only be moved with great effort -- which means that every time I need to move my legs, scratch my knee or re-arrange my blanket, I have to expend loads of energy trying to move the cat without disturbing her too much.  

Should I unintentionally awaken Suki fully, then I am required to endure another 15 to 20 minutes of her movements as she first tries to find a new spot on top of or underneath the blanket which is followed by the full face-and-paw-bath which she insists on giving herself before she can finally settle down to sleep once again. Unfortunately, I find all this moving about to be very distracting when I am trying to follow the intricate plot of a British-TV-mystery-series or a P. D. James mystery novel.

Finally, and please don't tell Suki I said this, her weight is becoming more and more painfully uncomfortable.  I do not want Suki to know this, however, or she might stop climbing up onto my lap.  And, as I am sure most of you realize, in spite of all my complaining, I am always secretly pleased when Suki jumps up onto my lap -- letting me know, in so many little ways, that she likes being in my lap and she feels completely safe there.  

To know that another creature, smaller and weaker than we are, believes that, with us, they are completely safe is one of the most precious gifts that Life can give us -- and to break such a trust is one of the most evil things that we can do to another creature -- and to ourselves. 

Speaking of pain, I must admit that this has been a particularly painful week for me.  Not sure why, but, hopefully, things will ease off a bit before too long.  Part of it could be my continuing frustration over trying to integrate my old computer files into my new computer software.  Most things seem to have meshed properly; however, the difficulties of trying to move my old files from Outlook 2007 to Outlook 2016 continue.  Any of you who have gone through something similar know how time-consuming and frequently frustrating such activities can be.

Otherwise, Suki and I continue our somewhat solitary lifestyle as usual.  I am supposed to be seeing a specialist this coming Wednesday; however, I am thinking of cancelling the appointment tomorrow morning. The problem I had several months ago when I complained to my Family Doctor -- the appointment which led her to request this visit with a specialist -- has since cleared up! That is actually one of the good things about our health care system in Ontario -- we rarely get to see a specialist immediately so that often, by the time the appointment rolls around, we no longer need to see the specialist.  No doubt, when I cancel my appointment tomorrow morning, some person, on a cancelled-appointment-waiting-list, will be delighted to receive a call.

Wishing you all a very good week.    


1st Sunday of Advent


Sunday, 20 November 2016

Geissorhiza splendidissima

"Geissorhiza splendidissima -- African Wine Cup", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

An immaculate deep blue flower, with a conspicuous satin sheen, Geissorhiza splendidissima is commonly known as African Wine Cup. It is native to the Northern Cape area of South Africa and is also found in the vegetation surrounding stony clay flats on the Bokkeveld Mountains. Geissorhiza has 84 species that are endemic to South Africa, of which 83 occur in the Northern and Western Cape area. The genus Geissorhiza is a member of the family, Iridaceae (Iris Family) and was first described as a separate genus in 1803. 

The mature bulbs of G. splendidissima are the size of peas. The stem is velvety with narrow leaves. The adult plant grows to between 80–200 mm high. The colours of the flowers range from aqua-blue to dark purple-blue with a yellow to greenish-yellow centre, surrounded by black. The anthers are orange-brown. The seeds are small, fine and dark brown. Flowering is normally from late August to September. The seeds generally ripen on the plants and fall quite close to the parent plant, resulting in large colonies growing in damp areas. 

The genus name of Geissorhiza is derived from the Greek word, geisson, meaning tile, and rhiza, meaning roots. This is a reference to the regular overlapping of the sections of the covering of the bulb (corm) in most of the Geissorhiza species, much like tiles on a roof. The specific name, splendidissima, is from the Latin and means extremely splendid. 

Unfortunately, Geissorhiza splendidisima is listed on the Red Data List as Vulnerable, mainly due to loss of habitat due to farming.

Geissorhiza splendidissima blossom and bud
showing fingers of left hand in background
(Seeds by Post - Shopify)

This plant is actually not very large and has an almost fragile look about it. (see photo to the right) 

Actually, I was first attracted to photos of the flowers by both the colours of blue found in the petals and the way that some of them seem to be painted with high-gloss lacquer!  (see photo below)

Geissorhiza splendidissima blossom showing
sheen. (  -  ReiNoir)

Portions of text above taken from various Internet sources.


Well, Miss Suki was reasonably well behaved this past week; however, if I were to measure her behaviour on a "nuisance meter" numbered 1 - 10 with 10 being the worst behaviour and one being the best, I suspect that I would give Suki about a 7!!  
Suki -- when she's awake, she is always watching and
waiting -- waiting -- waiting ...
For some reason, Suki has become much more demanding in the mornings.  I mean, she is always worse in the mornings than any other time of day; however, in the past, she seemed to take more notice of my displeasure and try to avoid incurring it on a regular basis.

Of course, when you think it, you really can't blame Suki for her behaviour -- at least, I can't as I know full well what it is like to be confined with only the limited options of an enclosed space to provide you with entertainment and distraction.  I'm not referring to my current living situation as this confinement is the result of my own choice. 

I say I know what it is like because I still recall, vividly, my experience when, in my 20s, due to certain medical problems, I was required to spend 6 continuous weeks in the hospital.  After the first 48 hours, when most of the various medications given during the initial surgical procedure had drained out of my system, my meals became the highlight of my day.  Each morning I carefully completed my menu choices for the next day and waited with eager anticipation for each tray to be delivered.  It really wasn't that I was very hungry for the food and actually ate very little, but I was hungry for distraction and entertainment.  

Perhaps that is what it is like for Suki...  She is confined to a known space and the only real sources of entertainment she can expect each day are the appointed times when those food dishes are set down in front of her.  So, I find I really cannot get seriously upset with her.  I may yell loudly on occasion, but she knows that there is only bark and no bite.  True, I do not like being awakened at 5:30 a.m. when I was planning on getting up at 6 a.m.  It is only 30 minutes, but all of you reading this know how precious those 30 minutes can feel when you really want to get just a wee bit more sleep.

Of course, maybe I was just more aware of needing that extra sleep this past week because events conspired to make this past week an extra-difficult one for me.  It all started Tuesday morning when my trusty computer began to show signs of being seriously unstable. Let me explain...

On Tuesday morning, I discovered that my computer refused to stay on for more than 45 minutes at a time.  I could wait a few minutes, turn it back on, let it completely re-load and start using it again. However, within 35 to 45 minutes, it would suddenly and completely shut down once again.  I know that this is the sort of thing that can happen as the hard drive begins to fail and that the periods of time I would have access to my files would become shorter and shorter until finally nothing ... so I figured I had no alternative other than to buy a new computer.

Before making my purchase, I did talk with the computer "experts" at the store about getting their diagnosticians to take a look at my old computer.  I was told that while this was certainly an option, the results of such testing could take at least 10 to 14 days -- maybe longer.  Considering the age of my old computer and all the problems it already has, I decided that I purchasing a new one was the better option for me.

The store offers a free, in-home installation so after leaving them my external hard drive so that all my information from the old computer could be easily downloaded onto the new one, I went home expecting the computer to be delivered and set up the following afternoon.  Sadly, the following afternoon came and went without the arrival of my new computer.  I did receive numerous phone calls from the store apologizing for the delay. 

When I asked them why they were delayed, I was told that whoever was responsible for doing the downloading had not started the process until just about 1 and 1/2 hours prior to my appointment time of 2 p.m.  Only then did they start to believe my comments of the previous day regarding the huge number of files on my hard drive, many of which were large art files.

After three attempts to reschedule on Wednesday afternoon, it was finally decided that the computer delivery and installation would be scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Thursday.  And, thankfully, the young man arrived with my new computer the following afternoon at the appointed time.  All went well until I discovered that the Microsoft software that I have used over the past 20 years -- the software that was always, in the past, a part of the basic software provided with any new computer -- now must be purchased separately!  So, this meant more money for me to pay and another visit to schedule with the store.

My final appointment was scheduled for 9 a.m. yesterday, Saturday, and another nice, young man arrived promptly at 9 and stayed until everything was done to my satisfaction. All my software is now installed.  As well, after a lengthy conversation with my Internet provider, my email account is back open and functioning normally -- although I hope no one expects any answers to their emails of the past week any time soon!

I must say that it has been one of the strangest weeks in recent memory as it is the first time I have been without a computer for more years than I can recall at the moment.  It felt almost like there had been another death in my family. Fortunately, I am now once again part of the "computer generation" and, thus, am able to publish my Sunday blog posting as usual.  I will admit, however, that this is the only thing I have done on my new computer since I got it set up yesterday afternoon and it is likely to be the only thing I will do on my new computer until tomorrow.  I am still just too tired.

This is how I am feeling at the moment!

Wishing all my U.S. readers a Happy Thanksgiving on Thursday and may they and all the rest of us have a safe and happy week.


Sunday, 13 November 2016

Gentiana asclepiadea -- Willow Gentian

"Gentiana asclepiadea -- Willow Gentian Branch in Bloom",
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Gentiana asclepiadea (Willow Gentian) is a species of flowering plant of the genus Gentiana in the family Gentianaceae. It is native to central and eastern Europe and is found, primarily, in mountain woodlands though it does occur in less wooded open pasture occasionally.

Called Willow Gentian for its willow-like leaves and graceful, arching growth, it is one of the larger species within the genus, Gentiana. It produces pairs of leaves, sometimes whorled in threes or fours around particularly vigorous shoots on stems that arch elegantly outward from the base of the plant and grow to between 60–90 cm. (2–3 ft.) in length. Trumpet-shaped, deep blue flowers occur in late summer into autumn. 

The genus name of, Gentiana, comes from the name, Gentius, a 6th-century king of Illyria, who found the roots of the yellow gentian plant to have a healing effect on his malaria-stricken troops. The species name of, asclepiadea, is from the Latin and means “similar to Asclepias”. As you may recall, Asclepiadaceae is the family name for all the milkweed plants and refers, in part, to those plants whose stems, when broken, exude copious amounts of milky juice. This attribute gives rise to the other common name for this plant of Milkweed Gentian.   

For me, the name “Blue Gentian” will always be associated with the painting, of the same name, by the artist, John Singer Sargent. I remember when I came upon a print of this painting for the first time. I just couldn’t stop looking at the richness of the blue colour of the flowers. Personally, I don’t really like the painting that much, but the shades of blue Sargent had achieved in his work have always intrigued me. I wanted to be able to find those same colours and use them in a painting. 

Colour sample from
A few years after I first discovered Sargent’s painting, I began to experiment with working with acrylic paints after a couple of years of working only with oils. As I perused the various tubes of the acrylic paints in the artists’ supply store, I came across one labelled “Blue Gentian”. With great excitement, I added that tube to my purchases. 

I do recall that the painting I completed using that small tube of paint was very satisfying simply because of all the wonderful shades of blue I was able to achieve in it. Unfortunately, that painting, along with many others, has since disappeared during one of the many moves of my lifetime. To this day, however, the name of this beautiful flower always brings back pleasant memories for me.

Portions of the above text were taken from various Internet sources.


Rònàn recently celebrated a birthday.  His big brother helped him celebrate along with many other family members and their children.  Here are a few photos showing how the brothers shared this event...

The birthday boy and his brother with THE CAKE!  Yum....

Opening presents, whether your own or your brother's, requires
strength, speed and absolute concentration!

The brothers enjoy acting silly with these funny birthday balloons!

The birthday boy finally decides that he'll just have a
wee bit of a lie down after all that excitement!



Suki getting prepared for another nap!
Except for one morning when Suki was determined to have her breakfast at 5:30 a.m., she has been relatively well behaved this past week. I have no idea what happened on Wednesday morning to cause Suki to be so doggedly determined to get me out of bed and into the kitchen so early in the morning.  I can only assume that something awakened her, disturbing her sufficiently so that she couldn't continue resting for another half hour. Whether she was just awake and bored or had suddenly become ravenously hungry, she kept those blinds clattering constantly so that there was no way I could possibly continue sleeping!

Usually, when I yell loudly, Suki stops whatever annoying noise she is making long enough for me to get another 10 minutes or so of sleep -- but not on Wednesday morning.  She just kept it going.
I finally got so frustrated that I threw my pillow at her.  Of course, then I was so uncomfortable that I really had no choice -- I had to get out of bed.

Once I had fed her and she had eaten her fill, Suki jumped into her chair, gave herself a good washing and then settled down to sleep. With just a touch of envy, I watched her as I ate my breakfast and thought about how nice it would be to be able to eat my fill and then go back to bed -- just like Suki.  Sadly, I knew all too well how impossible that was as sleeping during the day or "sleeping in" past my usual getting-up time have been migraine triggers for me all my adult life.

Thankfully, that was the only morning Suki carried on this way. The rest of the week she behaved in her usual fashion. In other words, she did not start her "get-up-campaign" until almost 6 a.m. each day and when I yelled at her, she acted like a snooze-alarm and gave me 10 more minutes of sleep before she started making noise again.  Truly, she is the world's best alarm clock -- and not only is she that, she is also soft, furry and makes a lovely purring sound when she is contented.  And, if you are feeling a bit low, she will notice and will gently jump onto your lap, making you suddenly feel all warm and cozy and not so low at all. 

As for me, I had another week without any appointments so I just stayed at home.  I find it fascinating that I have reached a point in my life where I am utterly content to simply stay in my own home day after day after day!  Once I would have considered such a life to be almost like being in prison; yet, I now find it liberating, even, you might say, freeing.

How on earth could anyone find that being locked in day after day, whether by your own hand or another's, could possibly be "freeing"?  I cannot speak for others, but for me it is freeing because being alone enables me to deal with the constant pain in any crazy way I may see fit.  For example, I can use any distraction technique I can discover without worrying about how it looks to someone else or what others will think of me.  Most of all, it means that when the pain is really bad, I can react to it however I wish. I can yell, swear, curse or cry and I never have to worry about offending anyone with my language, having to explain my behaviour to anyone or, worst of all, feeling as though I have to put on a brave face for someone's benefit.

Wishing you all the best in the week ahead...


Sunday, 6 November 2016

Lilium catesbaei - Catesby’s Pine Lily

"Lilium catesbaei -- Catesby’s Pine Lily", drawing by 
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about the pine tree and mixed growth forests of Alabama -- the kinds of trees that surrounded the home where I spent most of my growing-up years.  As I recall the many happy hours I spent out in those woods, I also remember all the creatures I saw and the many wild flowers I found.  One of those wild flowers was the Pine Lily -- always easy to recognize with its bright orange colour and the backward-curving petals. 

Lilium catesbaei, commonly known as Pine Lily or Catesby's lily, is native to the wet pine woods and savannas throughout the southeastern United States, usually found growing in damp areas from Louisiana to Virginia. 

Lilium catesbaei requires hot, wet, acidic soil inhospitable to most other lily species. Producing a single flower, it blooms from late spring until late in the year – depending on the geographic location. The flower is upright with 6 tepals (petals and sepals that look very similar). The tepals are curved backward and are bright orange toward the tip, yellow with purplish-brown-spots toward the base. 

It is resident to open habitats that routinely become very wet to saturated during the summer rainy season -- places such as the flat pine woods of north Florida, south Georgia and south Alabama. This species is primarily pollinated by a native species of swallowtail butterfly. Loss of their specific habitat is the principal threat to the species.

The genus name, Lilium, is Latin for “lily”. The specific name of, catesbaei, is derived from the name of Mark Catesby, an 18th century English naturalist and botanical collector.

If I still had the ability to paint these flowers on a canvas, I would be able to show you what it really looks like when you come across one or two of these lilies as you are walking through the shade of a pine tree forest.  The colours are so bright that they seem to have a light within, brightening up the shadows like a candle flame. 

Portions of the above text were taken from various Internet sources.


Suki playing with two of her favourite "mice"!
Well, Miss Suki did something this week that she hasn't done for over a year now: She went into her toy basket, pulled out two of her favourite toy mice and began to push and chase them around the apartment!

Truly, I watched her in amazement as she pushed one of the toy mice along the hardwood floor with just enough force to make it slightly slide under the sofa.  Next, she begin walking alongside the sofa, casually strolling past the place where the toy mouse was "hiding".  Then, just as she reached the location of the hidden mouse, she would turn quickly, stick both front paws under the sofa and pull out the hapless mouse. Grabbing the poor stuffed mouse by her teeth, she then proceeded to shake the mouse so vigorously that I thought the tail would surely fly off!

She begin playing this way on Tuesday morning and has continued to do so almost every day since.  True, her play times only last for about 20 minutes a day, but when you compare that to all the months she has been so inactive -- in too much pain to even jump up onto some of her favourite chairs -- then I think this is pretty amazing.

I am not sure if there has been a bit of healing of her ruptured ligament or if the pain medication is suddenly working better, but, whatever is going on, I do hope it continues.  Until Suki begin feeling better this week, I had not realized how much I was struggling with her each day as I watched her painfully trying to maneuver herself from the floor to the seat of a chair so that she could settle down for one of her much-needed naps.

If these signs of decreased pain continue then I will ask the vet about the possibility of decreasing Suki's medication.  I will keep you informed of Miss Suki's progress in this important matter.


As for keeping you informed about my progress, I will say that this past week has been a bit easier for me as well.  I think I have fully recovered now from my reaction to the flu shot and I do not seem to be any worse for the experience.

I am grateful for the emails I received regarding my comments about my health in last week's blog posting.  You are all very gracious and I thank you for your kind words.

The general consensus seems to be that if I am not well enough to post weekly, then I should continue to post only when I am able -- maybe once every two weeks or once a month.  This makes perfect sense.  

This solution, however, is complicated by my own desire to lose myself each day in some kind of art work. When I am able to do this, I, obviously, end up drawing something.  Every drawing, remember, involves my taking time to research the object I am trying to create. So, by the time I finish, I have all this information, along with the completed drawing AND the desire to share this with my friends.  The easiest way to do this is to publish it in my blog.

I have been able to keep myself from posting more than once a week for several years now, but I really don't know if I could cut back even more.  The only thing that will slow me down or stop me, I think, is when my hands are no longer able to create the pictures I see in my head.  

So, for the time being, I am going to try to continue to post a weekly drawing along with a bit of news about Suki.  I have, however, decided to stop posting the Sunday gospel with an appropriate drawing. This way, I will have one less piece of art work to try to complete each week.

Wishing you all a good week...


Sunday, 30 October 2016

Echeveria agavoides 'Romeo'

"Mandala -- Echeveria agavoides 'Romeo' ", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

I decided to portray today's featured drawing in the style of a mandala.  The centre of the mandala shows the leaves of Echeveria agavoides 'Romeo' as they usually appears by early summer. Notice the 5-pointed star that Mother Nature provided as the central point. The bunches of blossoms placed in the four corners represent E. agavoides blossoms which occur in late spring and early summer. The flowers are found growing at the end of long stalks high above the rosette formed by the leaves.

Echeveria agavoides
Echeveria agavoides is a species of flowering plant in the Crassulaceae (plants with thick leaves like succulents) Family. These plants, native to rocky areas of Mexico, are stemless, star-shaped rosettes of fat leaves up to 20 cm in diameter. They are often solitary, growing offsets only slowly or not at all. Some forms have reddish tips and some forms have slightly red to very red margins. 

Agave attenuata
Source: Fox Tail Agave Seeds by SmartSeeds on Etsy  

The genus name of Echeveria is used to honour Anastasio Echeverria y Godoy, an 18th century Spanish botanist. The specific name of “agavoides” means “looking like an agave plant” [Agave is a genus of succulents native to the hot and arid regions of Mexico and the Southwestern United States.] 

Many hybrids have been created from E. agavoides in order to obtain more brightly colored flowers or leaves. An example of one such cultivar is the subject of today’s featured drawing: Cheveria agavoides ‘Romeo’

This succulent forms clumps of individual rosettes that are around 6 inches tall by 8 to 12 inches wide with red wine coloured leaves with darker red edges showing the occasional bit of green. The red flowers, slightly smaller than other Echeveria agavoides cultivars, have a greenish-yellow interior and bloom in the spring through early summer. The leaves are not as pointed as the other forms so it is less “agave like”. The colour however can, sometimes, be amazing as it ranges from rosy-red to aubergine (the colour of eggplant).

Below is an "enhanced" image of today's featured drawing:

"Mandala -- Echeveria agavoides 'Romeo' Enhanced"
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Portions of the above text were taken from various Internet sources.


Halloween Greeting from Suki and Sallie

I won't be telling you any new stories about Suki this week. Rather, I need to write about the possibility that I may be reaching the point where I can no longer continue to publish this blog posting each week.

The fact is, I almost did not publish anything this week.  I had not planned to use the Echeveria mandala as a featured drawing.  It was one of those drawing that I completed but had not felt inclined to post as I was far from satisfied with the result.  

However, on Tuesday morning, I got my flu shot in preparation for this winter's onslaught of flu bugs.  I have only had one bad reaction to the flu shot and that was almost 20 years ago now so I really wasn't prepared for the next three days of discomfort.  My symptoms consisted, mainly, of a swollen and itchy arm, really bad headaches and extreme exhaustion.  

I was certain that I was going to have to post a notice on my blog saying "sorry, but I hope to be feeling better next week". Thankfully, however, I began to feel a bit better yesterday and so am able to at least publish a little something today.

The reason all of this unpleasantness has led to my need to discuss the future of "Salliesart" is that this extra illness piled on top of everything else has made me very aware of all the many problems I have been dealing with these past months. I have been "suffering through" a number of new aches and pains without admitting to myself (or others) that my disabilities, and the problems they cause, are worsening rapidly.

Too often now, the pain caused by the dying nerves in my feet and legs becomes almost intolerable and the only way I know to escape is by taking the extra pain medication that I am allowed at such times.  This means that I end up sleeping away the night and half the day.  

Then when that pain has eased for a while, I try to keep up with any important email correspondence, deal with my bank account, pay my bills, etc.  After that, if I have any energy and/or interest left, I can spend some time losing myself in my art work. Finally, if I have any strength left at all, I try to take a quick look at Facebook in order to see what the children of my niece and nephew are doing these days.

Of course, this obviously means that there is much time for drawing and such so that I reach Sunday without having had the time or energy to produce anything new.  Thus, I am then forced to try to find some older, unsatisfactory drawing and whip it into shape in time for Sunday's submission.

Unless something changes rather radically, I can see the day approaching when I will no longer have any new art work to show you at all.  Perhaps, when such a time arrives, I could plan to publish every other week or even once a month.  Of course, the more time that elapses between postings, the more likely many of my followers and regular readers are to lose interest. Eventually, I may well end up posting a blog only for myself.

At any rate, I felt this was a matter that I wanted to go ahead and write about to you folks.  In fact, I would like to know if you have any comments or opinions about what I should do regarding the future of my blog.  If so, please feel free to write to me at my address. 

You can, of course, always post comment on the blog itself, but I have often found that people, particularly those who want to say something of a personal nature, feel more comfortable writing directly to me.  As usual, if you say something in your email that I think would be good to share with everyone, I would get your permission before posting it anywhere.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Happy Halloween!