Sunday, 4 September 2016

Carolina Allspice

"Carolina Allspice -- Calycanthus x raulstoni", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Calycanthus raulstonii (Family: Calycanthaceae) is commonly known as Carolina allspice, Raulston’s allspice or sweetshrub. It is a large, rounded shrub which typically grows to a size of between 8’ to 10’ both in height and width. 

This species is the result of a cross between Calycanthus chinensis and Calycanthus floridus. It produces mildly fragrant maroon flowers in spring and early summer. The leaves range in colour from light green to bright olive green until the fall when they turn buttery yellow. 

The genus name comes from the Greek words: 

  1. κάλυκας, meaning “covering”; the transliteration is calyx;
  2. ανθοσ, meaning flower or blossom; the transliteration is anthos

The specific epithet honours the late J.C Raulston of the North Carolina State University Arboretum who was one of those who helped develop this plant until his death in 1996.

‘Hartlage Wine’ was named after student, Richard Hartlage, who crossed Sinocalycanthus chinensis (Chinese species) with Calycanthus floridus (U.S. species) in 1991 at the JC Raulston Arboretum at North Carolina State University. 

Although today’s featured plant, Carolina Allspice, and several other plants are commonly known as “allspice”, they actually do not have any direct botanical relationship with the plant from which we get the condiment known as Allspice. 

The Real Allspice -- Pimenta dioica 
Real allspice comes from the dried, unripe fruit of Pimenta dioica, a mid-canopy tree native to the Greater Antilles, southern Mexico and Central America. The fruits are picked when green and unripe and are traditionally dried in the sun. When the fruits are dry, they are brown and resemble large, brown, smooth peppercorns. 

Dried, unripe fruit of Pimenta dioica -- 
The name 'allspice' was coined as early as 1621 by the English, who thought this spice combined the flavours of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Allspice went on to become one of the most important ingredients of Caribbean cuisine. As well, allspice is indispensable to Middle Eastern cuisine where it is used to flavour a variety of stews and meat dishes. 

In the U.S., it is used mostly in desserts, but it is also responsible for giving Cincinnati-style chili its distinctive aroma and flavour. Allspice is commonly used in Great Britain and appears in many dishes, including cakes. Even in many countries where allspice is not very popular in the household, as in Germany, it is used in large amounts by commercial sausage makers. It is also one of the main flavourings used in barbecue sauces.

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


Changes are in store for my boys...  Next week, Braden begins JK (Junior Kindergarten) and for the first time, Ro, will be without his brother by his side at play school.  Changes ... life is full of them!

Below is a photo of a moment during their last day together at play school.

Braden and Ro on their last day together at play school



Suki Sleeping
I just checked and, yes, Suki is sound asleep in my recliner!  I will never understand why it is so very important to her that she grab my chair as soon as I vacate it each morning!

I mean, these days, she always goes and settles down on the seat of the wing-back chair just after she finishes eating her breakfast. Once she has given herself a good face and paw cleansing, she curls up and appears to fall into a deep sleep. However, I have learned over time that she is only pretending to sleep soundly and is, in fact, listening carefully to my every movement.  I say this because the moment I begin to make any noises that might suggest that I have finished my morning coffee and am in the process of getting out of my recliner to head for the computer room, Suki's eyes are instantly open and looking at me.  

As I have told you previously, the moment I am actually rising from the chair, here comes Suki, darting under me in order to lie down on the seat I have just vacated.  Once there, she will not move again until about 11:30 when she begins her campaign to get me to give her lunch just a bit early!  

Interestingly, Suki shows absolutely no interest in getting onto my chair during the afternoon or evening.  Of course, that could be because I am using it much of the time during the P.M. part of the day. However, there are moments when I am out of the chair for short periods of time during the afternoon and evening, but she never even makes any effort to usurp my domain.

How I wish I could see things from her perspective for just a few moments at least.  Maybe then I could begin to understand some of her more peculiar behaviours -- or maybe I would just end up more confused than ever!

As to the health of Suki and myself, we both remain about the same. The medications we are taking seem to be working as well as possible. Well enough, that is, so that Suki is able to jump up onto her various sleeping locations each day. Well enough so that I am able to keep moving so long as I "walk with my eyes" and have my walker or some other solid object in hand.

I did have one very lengthy medical appointment this past week with the ophthalmologist. Unpleasantly, the appointment included getting those "dilation drops" in my eyes. This meant that I could not focus clearly on anything for the remaining hour and a half that I spent at the eye clinic nor for the next couple of hours after getting back home.  As it turns out, the glaucoma has gotten worse and so I am being sent for more tests.  Do any of you notice a certain pattern to the events that occur in my life? Just asking...

One happy event occurred yesterday when two friends came by for a visit.  The lady of the couple has been a very dear friend since the early 1990s and I see her all too seldom these days as she has become disabled as well.  So, it was a wonderful treat to actually communicate with her and her companion in person instead of over the phone or through email and Facebook. Since it was a lovely summer's day, we went up to the member's roof garden where we sat in the shade and had a lively discussion for almost two hours. At that point, I knew I had reached my limit and needed to return to my place to rest.

Suki and I wish all of you a safe and happy Labour Day weekend!    



"Icon -- Carry Your Cross and Follow Me",
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, rev. 2016

Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.  Luke 14:25-33

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