Sunday, 28 August 2016


"Paeonia 'Red' -- Peonies", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

The peony is a flowering plant in the genus, Paeonia, the only genus in the family, Paeoniaceae. The plant is native to Asia (mainly China) with some species being found in Europe and Western North America. At present, there are 33 known species. Most of these are herbaceous perennials, but some are woody shrubs. They have compound leaves and large, often fragrant flowers, in colors ranging from red to white or yellow. Peonies are among the most popular garden plants in temperate regions. 

Both the proper name, Paeonia, and the common name, Peony, come from the Old English word, peonie. These names originated with the Greek word, Παιών, (Paeon in English script) which was the name of the physician who looked after the gods and goddesses of Greek mythology. 

There are two common myths about how the peony came into being: 

In the first account, we are told that Paeon was a student of Asclepius, the god of medicine and healing. He was once instructed by Leto (Apollo's mother and goddess of fertility) to obtain a magical root growing on Mount Olympus that would soothe the pain of women during childbirth. Asclepius became jealous and threatened to kill his pupil. Zeus saved Paeon from the wrath of Asclepius by turning him into the peony flower. 

[In ancient times, peony seeds were, in fact, used by pregnant women who believed that they did, indeed, soothe the pains of childbearing. In fact, during centuries past, peony seeds were used to soothe the pains of childbearing. As well, the plant’s roots and seeds were believed to cure over twenty diseases including epilepsy and snake bites. In England, very young children once wore peony root necklaces to prevent seizures and help soothe the pain of teething.] 

In the other account, both the name and origin of the peony are said to have originated because of a nymph by the name of Paeonia. Paeonia was beautiful and attracted the attention of Apollo, who began to flirt with her. When Paeonia realized that Aphrodite was watching them, she became bashful and embarrassed, blushing a bright red.  In her anger, ever-jealous Aphrodite transforms the nymph into a red peony. This might well be the reason the peony has come to symbolize bashfulness!

"Paeonia 'Pink' -- Peony",
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer
As some of you may recall, this is not my first drawing of peonies. There have, in fact, been a number of other drawings of this plant featured over the past years.  Here is a sampling...

"Paeonia 'Salmon' -- Peony",
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer

Much of the text above was taken from various Internet sources.


"Suki Settles Down for Her Nap"
Today, I had planned to write a bit about some of the silly mischief that Suki still gets into in spite of all her pain. However, after a week of fighting with her about the amount of food she needs, I am going to tell you about her cunningly clever way of trying to get me to feed her all she wants.

You may recall my telling you about the vet's request that I make certain that Suki begin dieting so that she could lose a couple of pounds.  According to the doctor, less weight would mean less pain for Suki as excess weight tends to increase the problems associated with arthritis and ruptured ligaments.

So, I put Suki on a very strict diet of 1/2 a can of her favourite food 4 times each day -- these cans are the small ones, 85 grams in total weight.  For over two months, I forced myself to put up with Suki's begging, pleading, crying for more food.  Even though I wanted to give in many times, I kept reminding myself that I was doing this so that Suki would eventually experience less pain.

After eight weeks, I weighed Miss Suki and was delighted to discover that she had lost 2 pounds! However, while I was pleased with the results, I also realized that I had to make certain now that she did not lose any additional weight. After all, two pounds is a lot of weight loss for a cat whose top weight has only been 13 pounds.

Thus, I began my current project of trying to find the right balance between Suki's desire for food and what she actually needs to stay healthy and lean. I mean, if I listened only to Suki instead of common sense, I would be feeding her at least 4 cans of turkey and gravy every day plus a handful of cat treats every couple of hours! She does like her food.

So, instead of just giving Suki what she craves, I have been offering her a small amount of her favourite dry food after she has finished her breakfast and lunch portions of the turkey and gravy.  She is very fond of this dry food and would eat quite a bit of it each day back when I left a bowl of it out for her to "graze" anytime she felt like it.

Somehow, now that I am offering Suki this additional food, she has made the assumption that this means that I must have been influenced by all her "begging, pleading, crying" -- although it took two months for me to react. So, instead of being satisfied and appreciative because I am now giving her a bit more food each day, Suki has actually increased her efforts to manipulate me into returning the amount of food available to her each day to those pre-dieting amounts.

Suki's latest tactic in her fight to win this food war is so extreme that she is now putting both our lives at risk.  Don't laugh, I am not exaggerating.  Once I explain what she is doing, you will see just how serious her behaviour has become. Now, let me tell you just what she is doing.

At mealtime, I always give Suki her food first so that she leaves me alone while I prepare my own food.  Although she finishes her meal before I finish my activities in the kitchen, she has, in the past, usually gone elsewhere after completing her meal to give herself her after-eating bath.  

These days, however, after finishing her meal, she waits, expectantly, for something additional -- the small bit of the dry food that I give her. After finishing that, she now no longer leaves the kitchen, but begins to follow me around the kitchen the same way she does when she is very hungry.  Do you see the problem here?

As I try to finish the few tasks required in order for me to prepare my own meal, Suki puts us both in danger by following me and then lying down behind me each time I stop.  This means that in order to keep from stepping on the cat with possibly deadly force or to keep from tripping on the cat so that I fall with possibly deadly force, I have to remain constantly aware of Suki's whereabouts, looking down at the floor carefully before taking any steps at all. This is very difficult for an old lady who easily forgets things.

Because of Suki's behaviour, I have almost fallen a couple of times during this past week.  I have, as well, also stepped on Suki's tail twice and her right, front paw once -- much to her distress I might add!  So, I am trying very hard to teach myself to always remember to look down at my feet before taking a single step when Suki and I are both in the kitchen at the same time. Still, even with my best efforts, I do forget occasionally. 

Thus far, nothing serious has happened, but I fear for the future. It seems that Suki has made the matter of getting her food amounts returned to the pre-dieting days level a matter of life and death.  I actually feel as though she is coercing me into doing what she wants. It seems almost as though she is saying: "give me what I want or risk our lives every time you go into the kitchen!"  But, surely that isn't the case as no cat could be that devious, could they?

As for me, other than having to risk my life four times a day in the kitchen, I am doing much the same.  For the moment, all my medications continue to do their job at their present levels which means that my pain awareness has not increased.

I did have some unexpected visitors this past week -- a dear friend and her daughter.  They phoned on Tuesday afternoon to ask if it would be possible for them to drop by for a visit on Wednesday afternoon.  I, happily, told them to please stop by for a visit which they did the following day.  

I met this friend almost 30 years ago when we did a course of study together.  She was at least 25 years younger, but we became good friends anyhow.  I have watched over the years as she met and then married a great guy, had a daughter and then raised that daughter, with her husband, so that today she is a lovely, young woman just about to enter her second year of university.  It was really good to see them again.

This coming week I have an appointment with the ophthalmologist and I am not looking forward to it.  I am pretty certain that I will get scolded rather badly for being a non-compliant patient -- in other words, I haven't been using the drops that will keep my eyes from getting worse.  Well, what can I say ... the drops make my eyes burn for a long time after I put them in.  In fact, sometimes the drops cause so much discomfort that I can't do anything for hours afterwards except keep my eyes shut.  How can I do any art work with my eyes shut?  

Oh, well, what can I say other than my usual ... c'est la vie!



"Icon -- Christ the Teacher", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, rev. 2015

On the Sabbath, Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees and the people there were observing him carefully. He told a parable to those who had been invited, noticing how they were choosing the places of honour at the table.
“When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor. A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him, and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then you would proceed with embarrassment to take the lowest place. Rather, when you are invited, go and take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you he may say, ‘My friend, move up to a higher position.’ Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table. For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Then he said to the host who invited him, “When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Luke 14:1, 7-14

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