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...