Sunday, 28 May 2017

Some Floral Repeats

"Oxalis acetosella - Common Wood Sorrel", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017

This week I am featuring three new drawings which incorporate elements from previous drawings. You are likely to see more of these “repeats” in the near future as I am presently going back through all my files from the past 10 years. I am doing this in order to take a look at those items I once said that I wanted to try drawing a second time. 

Now, let me tell you a bit about each of these flowers… 

Oxalis is by far the largest genus in the wood-sorrel family Oxalidaceae. The genus occurs throughout most of the world except in the polar areas. Many of the species, including Oxalis acetosella, are simply known as wood-sorrel or common wood-sorrel as they have an acidic taste reminiscent of the unrelated Sorrel proper. Some species are called yellow-sorrels or pink-sorrels after the colour of their flowers. Others are known as false shamrocks because of the shamrock shape of the leaves. 

Oxalis acetosella is native to most of Europe and parts of Asia. The plant has trifoliate compound leaflets which occur in groups of three. It flowers from spring to midsummer with small, white flowers with purple/pink streaks on each petal. During the night or when it rains the flowers close and the leaves fold.

"Oxalis -- Pink Wood Sorrel"
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2010
The genus name of Oxalis is Latin and was derived from the Greek word “oxus” meaning sour -- referring, of course, to the taste of oxalic acid which is found particularly in the leaves and roots of these plants. The specific name, acetosella, is of Latin origin and was the pre-Linnaean* name for common sorrel and other plants with acidic-tasting leaves *(Carl Linnaeus is famous for his work in Taxonomy, the science of identifying, naming and classifying organisms).


"Schizanthus x wisetonesis -- Poor Man's Orchid", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017

Schizanthus x wisetonensis is native to Chile and is a member of the Solanaceae (nightshade) family. This plant is a hybrid between Schizanthus pinnatus and S. grahamii. In Spanish speaking countries, it is known as "planta de la mariposa" (Butterfly plant) and in English speaking countries as "poor man's orchid" or "angel's wings". The flowers are a combination of white, pink yellow and dark maroon. The foliage is light green with deeply incised leaves. 

Schizanthus is a compound word taken from the Greek.  "Schiz" is a combining form meaning “split,” used in the formation of compound words. In this case, Schizanthus means  “split flower”. 

"Schizanthus x wisetonensis",
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2010
As you are probably aware, there are other plants that are referred to as "butterfly" flowers. For example, the butterfly weed (Asclepias) and the butterfly bush (Buddleja). However, Schizanthus are called Butterfly Flowers because the blossoms look similar to showy, South American butterflies. Asclepias and Buddleja have "butterfly" as part of their common name simply because they are well known for attracting butterflies.


"Camellia x 'Night Rider' ", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017

Camellia x 'Night Rider' is a hybrid of Camellia japonica and is a member of the family, Theaceae. It is also sometimes listed as Camellia japonica 'Night Rider'

Camellias are broad-leaved evergreens from warm temperate regions of eastern Asia. They are known for their abundant showy flowers, their handsome leathery foliage and their longevity. As for Camellia x ‘Night Rider’, the flowers and young foliage of this slow-growing camellia are deep reddish-purple with the underside of the flower petals tending towards black. 

The Night Rider Camellia originated in New Zealand from a cross between Camellia x 'Ruby Bells' and C. japonica 'Kuro-tsubaki'. The cross was made by the late Oswald Blumhardt (1931-2004) in New Zealand and the plant flowered for the first time in 1980.

"Camellia x 'Night Rider' ", drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2010
Blumhardt was a plantsman, nurseryman, hybridizer, and plant explorer of the first order. Working with a variety of taxa including Magnolias, Rhododendrons, Camellias, and Orchids, he produced a quantity of hybrids, many of which are important commercial plants. 'Night Rider' is his best-known Camellia hybrid. 

The genus, Camellia, is named in honour of Georg Josef Kamel, a 17th century Jesuit missionary from Moravian-speaking region of the Czech Republic.

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


Suki demonstrating that 
she can easily out-stare me!

It has been a quiet week for both of us other than having to suffer through all the fireworks set off in our neighbourhood over the recent Victoria Day weekend.  Actually, they don't bother me that much, but Suki does not like them.  They make her very restless and, if they get too loud, Suki heads for her safe place in the back of the bedroom closet.

Otherwise, I have just been watching Suki closely in order to see if I can spot anything that would indicate that her health is somehow worsening. So far, the only change I can see in her behaviour over the past few months is her inclination to spend a lot more time under the "heat" lamp (this is a table lamp with three "healthy plant" light bulbs to help keep my house plants healthy).  Of course, this just may be an indication of her increasing age and have nothing to do with her "idiopathic" hypercalcemia.

Two good things to report:  (1) Suki has finally decided that her new food is worth eating after all.  I guess this is what hunger does to any creature -- you end up eating whatever you can get your mouth into that is even somewhat edible; and (2) Suki has lost a little more weight due to this change in diet and is now at the proper weight for a cat of her size and age.

As for me and my activities, I have quietly maintained my normal routine over these past two weeks.  There haven't been any medical appointments, but there have been visits and phone calls from friends.  In the week ahead, I have two medical appointments and the same is true in the following week. Hopefully, I will have only good news to report from all four of these appointments.

One of the emails I received from a dear friend this week included a photo she had taken of one of her newest neighbours  (see photo below).  Since these neighbours do not like noise and commotion, she and her family are going to have to go in and out of their doorway very quietly for the next month!

Mr. or Mrs. Robin doing egg sitting duty!
Photo by G. Wiercinska, 2017

I should be posting again in two weeks.  In the meantime, I wish all of you the very best.


Sunday, 14 May 2017

Upside-down Flowers

"Artabotrys hexapetalus -- Ylang-Ylang Vine", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017

As you know, most flowers grow upright, facing the sun; some flowers grow sideways, facing left or right; and some even grow upside-down, facing the ground. Artabotrys hexapetalus is my most recent drawing of such an upside-down flower. 

Artabotrys hexapetalus is a shrub native to most parts of Asia and the Far East. This plant produces large, canary-yellow flowers which are greenish in the beginning and turn bright yellow as they age. The most common names for Artabotrys hexapetalus include ylang ylang vine, climbing lang-lang and ilang-ilang. When young, it appears to be a shrub but once it attains the height of about 2 meters, it turns into a strong climber. 

The ylang ylang vine is a climbing evergreen reaching a height of between 8 - 10 metres. It is a powerful, far-reaching, many-stemmed climber whose old, woody stems achieve great thickness. It supports itself on other plants by means of modified leaf stems that are shaped like hooks. It also produces bunches of large, round fruit which have long been used in the far East as a medicine for the treatment of scrofula (cervical tuberculosis). 

The plant yields an essential oil and is also used as a flavouring in tea. It is commonly cultivated as an ornamental in the tropics, especially in southern China, Indo-China, the Philippines and also in Java, valued especially for the intoxicating aroma of the flowers. Some call it the “Juicy-fruit-gum” vine as they say the flowers smell similar to that particular brand of chewing gum! 

Fruit of the
Ylang-Ylang Vine

The genus name of Artabotrys combines two Greek words: artao meaning “support” and botrys meaning “a bunch of grapes” (the fruit grows in bunches and looks like a very large bunch of grapes). The species name of hexapetalus also combines two Greek words: hexa meaning “six” and petalus meaning “petals”.

Some previous "upside-down" flowers I have posted:

"Sandersonia aurantiaca - Chinese Lantern Lily", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015
(originally posted October 25, 2015)

"Passiflora parritae -- Passion Flower Vine", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016
(originally posted on September 11, 2016)

Much of the information given above was taken from various Internet sources.


Some recent photos of my boys:

Older brother explains to younger brother the nature of dwarf planets in our solar system!

All I can say is that I hope Mom isn't the one who has to pick up all these Lego pieces afterwards!

After the hard work of playing, what better way to relax than with a snack and a movie!




Well, thankfully, Suki continues to appear to be feeling fine -- except for her complaints about the food situation!

As you may recall from my posting a fortnight ago, I was sharing my woes and lamentations regarding Suki's diagnosis of probable idopathic hypercalceamia and the problems I was having regarding her food.

Suki can now eat only special food I have to purchase from the vet.  Supposedly, eating this special food, and only this special food, should help to bring her calcium levels back down closer to normal.  When I first began feeding her this new food, Suki would only eat the dry stuff. However, after spending lots of money and experimenting with various types of canned food, we have discovered one kind of wet food that she will eat -- grudgingly -- and only in small amounts.

So, with a small amount of wet food and a large amount of dry food plus water each day, Suki should be OK.  Hopefully, not only will her calcium levels improve, but her weight will go down as well. Loss of weight should give her some additional relief in her back leg joints where she has had ongoing problems with arthritis plus a ruptured ligament.

Of course, if you listen to what Suki has to say, you will hear a very different story. According to her, she is being abused and mistreated by me and, as a result, she is close to death. I am actually trying to starve her by giving her food that is practically inedible.  Worst of all, I abandoned her at that place called a "cat hospital" where she was tortured for hours before being returned home. I am a wicked, wicked caregiver.

Seriously, every time someone comes into my home these days, Suki runs up to them and starts meowing piteously. It is really quite embarrassing as people always ask me what is wrong with my cat. In desperation, I have started fibbing, saying something like: "Oh, it's nothing, she is just part Siamese and so she likes to talk a lot." Somehow, I have a feeling that I won't be getting a Mothers' Day card from Suki anytime today!

Apart from the "crisis" with Suki, everything else remains pretty much as usual.  The adjustments my pain management doctor made to my medication regimen about five months ago seem to still be working fine.  I will be seeing him again in June for my regular 3-month follow-up appointment.

Meanwhile, I have a few weeks here without any medical appointments at all, including none for Suki.  I feel almost as though I am on holiday!


Today is the day most North Americans pay special attention to their mothers.  My own mother died almost 40 years ago now. As well, my older sister, Betty, who was 17 when I was born and who was always like a second mother to me, died ten years ago. So, I shall remember them with much love and affection today -- forgetting any bad stuff and remembering only the many kind things they did for me and all the good times we had together.  

To all you mothers out there, may this day be an especially happy one for each and every one of you.  Peace.

"Mother and Child on Rainy Day", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, rev. 2017