Sunday, 17 September 2017

White Liliaceae Repeats

"Prosartes maculata - Spotted Mandarin", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 rev.

From Blog posting 24 Jan 2013 (revised): 

Disporum maculatum, also known as the Spotted Mandarin or Nodding Mandarin, is a relatively rare wildflower in the Lily Family. They can be occasionally spotted in their native, deep-woods habitat from southern Ontario down to northeastern Alabama. 

The small spots on the "petals" give them the maculatum part of their Latin name. When disporum if placed in front, it translates into something like "organization of spots" -- at least that is the conclusion I come to using my fractured Latin! Literally, disporum, from the Greek, is a combination of dis (two) and spora (seeds) while maculatum is Latin for “spotted.” 

Even though the Spotted, or Nodding, Mandarin can grow up to 60 cm in height, they are rarely seen unless you are looking for them. One of the main reasons for this is the fact that as the thin stem grows taller, the flower heads tend to bend over towards the ground so that only the leaves are showing (thus the common name of “Nodding Mandarin”). 

Flowers are bell-shaped while maturing, and, at maturity, they appear to be star-shaped. The blossoms are creamy white in colour with numerous brownish-purple spots on each petal. The dark green leaves can reach 10 cm in length. Disporum maculatum produces white berries which eventually turn yellow.

"Calochortus nuttallii -- Sego Lily", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 rev.

From blog of 18 June 2010 (revised): 

Calochortus nuttallii, commonly known as the Sego Lily, is a member of the Lily family, Liliaceae. This plant has a fascinating history in the U.S., as reported in the State of Utah's description of Calochortus nuttallii, regarding its selection as their state flower. They write, in part, that between 1840 and 1851, food became very scarce in Utah due to a crop-devouring plague of crickets. Many “families were put on rations, and during this time they learned to dig for and to eat the soft, bulbous root of the Sego Lily. The memory of this use, quite as much as the natural beauty of the flower, caused it to be selected in after years by the Legislature as the floral emblem of the State.” 

I assume that these settlers learned about this life-saving food source from observing the Indigenous people who were already living in the area. They had been collecting the Sego Lily bulbs for hundreds of years before the settlers arrived ("sego" was the Shoshonean name for the plant) and used them roasted, boiled or made into a porridge. These days the bulbs are mostly the food of pocket gophers and similar creatures. 

The Sego Lily, a summer flower, has white, lilac, or yellow flowers and grows six to eight inches high on open grass and sage rangelands in the area of North America known as the Great Basin. 

A cautionary note about this plant for those who may be considering foraging for wild food. Be careful to distinguish Calochortus nuttallii, the Sego Lily, from the somewhat similar, early-spring-flowering Toxicoscordion venenosum, also known as Poison Sego or Death Camas, which is native to the same general geographic areas.  Please notice very carefully the common names of T. venenosum!

The genus name of Calochortus comes from the Greek words kalo, (beautiful) and chortos (grass). The specific name of nuttallii is derived from the name of the English botanist, Thomas Nuttall, (1786-1859).

"Tulipa turkestanica - Turkestan Tulip", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 rev.

Blog posting 3 Feb 2013 (revised): 

Tulipa turkestanica (Turkestan Tulip) is a species of tulip native to central Asia (Turkestan, Iran and northwest China) in the Lily Family, Liliaceae

The flowers of Tulipa turkestanica are creamy white to pinkish-red, with a yellow or orange centre. Each plant produces from 1 to 12 star-shaped, fragrant flowers in early spring. The grey-green leaves, up to 15 cm in length, clasp each stem. 

The genus name of Tulipa is derived from the Turkish word, tülbent, which means “turban”. The specific name of turkestanica comes from the name of the country, Turkistan.

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


Celebrating the End of Summer

The boys enjoying the final weekend of Summer before returning to Senior Kindergarten and nursery school.

Big brother in policeman's cap

Little brother in policeman's cap

Brothers Together
(not sure what the facial expression are all about; however, I find them quite charming!) 

"Just follow me in your car, little brother. I'll show you the way!"

Ro riding on the merry-go-round
(Mom's got her arms around him just in case he decides to jump off while the horses are still moving! I understand that he is quite fearless.)

Braden rides his merry-go-round horse and dreams, perhaps, of galloping away, through the valleys and over the hills, to fight the dragon and save the kingdom!



"Suki Looking Pensive"
(Drawing, using Sketch software, by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer)
Photo by A. Porobic
Well, I'm afraid that I really don't have anything much to say about the two of us today. Thankfully, it has been a very quiet two weeks for Suki and me.

Suki has been reasonably well behaved and not gotten into any mischief (as far as I know).  As well, she has been exhibiting more signs of energetic playfulness which makes me think she is feeling better than she has for a while.  I am, of course, very happy about this development and hope it continues for a long time.

As for me, I have had a couple of medical appointments, but they were routine follow-up appointments.  I do have a couple of appointments scheduled during the coming two weeks; however,these are fairly routine as well -- like the "once every-three-months" appointment with the Pain Clinic at the hospital.

Thankfully, at the moment, none of my medical issues seem to have gotten worse and all my medications seem to be working.  I know this bit of "remission" will not last, but I intend to enjoy the situation for as long as it does.

During the two weeks ahead (until I post again), we will see the celebration of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.  So, I will take this opportunity to wish my Jewish friends (and readers) happy new year and best wishes as they celebrate these special days.

As well, the next two weeks will see the official end of summer and the beginning of autumn (Autumn Equinox, September 22nd). Plus, especially for those of us here in Ontario, we will see the opening of the Invictus Games by Prince Harry on the 23rd of September. Very exciting.  (

I will end today's posting with a photo of Suki.  It was taken recently by my friend, A. Porobic, and shows Suki settled comfortably between my legs as I lean back in my recliner. Evidently, this is her favourite place to sleep now!

Here's hoping that we all experience lots of happy peacefulness during the next two weeks.

Suki settles down for her afternoon nap!


Sunday, 3 September 2017

Orange and Blue Repeats

"Ornithogalum dubium - Orange Star", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 rev.

From my blog posting of 5 June 2016:

Ornithogalum dubium, commonly known as Orange Star or Star of Bethlehem, is a species of flowering plant which is native to South Africa (Cape Province). It blooms from early spring until mid-summer (August to December) on mountain slopes and flats, growing in stony clay soil. 

This long-blooming, showy plant has beautiful large star-shaped or cup-shaped orange flowers. Originally, it was assigned to the family Liliaceae. Now you will find it assigned to either Asparagaceae or Hyacinthaceae. There continues to be controversy about the Family to which it rightly belongs. 

The bulbs of all Ornithogalum are considered to be poisonous as they contain cholestane glycosides and calcium oxalate.

Ornithogalum is derived from the Greek words 'ornis' meaning bird and 'gala' meaning milk. The Greeks referred to something that seemed fantastical and rare as being “bird’s milk”. 

The species name, dubium, is derived from the Latin word dubiosus, meaning doubtful. The story is told, whether truth or legend I do not know, that the author of this species, the Dutch naturalist, Martinus Houttuyn, may have been dubious and doubtful about certain aspects of the plant when he described it – wondering if it should be placed under a different classification!

"Punica granatum -- Pomegranate", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 rev.

From my blog posting of 5 July 2010:

Pomegranate, or, properly, Punica granatum is one of only two member of the family, Punicaceae. The only other species in this family is found on the Island of Socotra (an archipelago of four islands in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Yemen). 

Pomegranate plants have been with us as far back as time itself which means that the plant has a fascinating history. It is native to an area stretching from Iran to the Himalayas in northern India and has been cultivated since ancient times throughout the Mediterranean region of Asia, Africa and Europe. The fruit was used then as it is today. Punica granatum is praised in the Jewish scriptures (Old Testament), in the Babylonian Talmud and in many other ancient sources. 

The genus name, Punica, is derived from a contraction of the Latin, punicum malum, which is the proper Latin name for the Pomegranate plant. The species name, granatum is also taken from the Latin and indicates the “many seeds” of the Pomegranate fruit. 

Below are a couple of other recent drawing using elements of my earlier works:

"Polemonium 'Bressingham Purple' - Jacob's Ladder", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 rev.

"Nelumbo nucifera - Indian Lotus Blossoms", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 
2017 rev.

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


"Suki Awake and Unhappy
(after hearing me on the phone with the vet)!"
[coloured pencil drawing using Sketch software]
Well, getting Suki to the vet for her blood work was a wee bit easier than I had thought it would be -- but that was simply because Joycelyn was here to help me!  

As soon as the carrying case appeared from the cupboard, Suki made a mad dash for the back of the bedroom closet. Normally, as you know, I would not violate her "safe place"; however, I really needed to get Suki to the vet.  So, with Joycelyn blocking the closet door as well as holding the hanging clothes off my head, I managed to grope my way to the back of the closet and pull Suki and her box to the front.  She was quite disgusted by my behaviour but once she realized that she was trapped, she stopped resisting and allowed me to gently push her into the case.  Once inside, she gave a long, mournful-sounding meow and then settled down to await the "horrors" ahead.

As it turned out, it took two tries before the vet was able to get the needle into Suki's small veins; however, once the blood was drawn, it was all over.  I paid my bill and we took Suki back home where I gave her an early lunch since she had been fasting for the previous 12 or so hours.  By the time she had eaten her fill and had a bit of water, she was ready to settle down for a good nap.  I thought she might be a bit distant with me -- the way she gets when I have displeased her in some way -- but, happily, she was as friendly as ever.

Best of all, the vet phoned me this week with the good news that Suki's calcium level is now back in the normal range.  This means the new diet is doing what it is supposed to do.  The bad news, according to the vet, is that sooner or later the diet treatment will stop working and then her calcium levels will start to rise again. I could worry about that, but, for the moment, I have decided to simply enjoy the good news and deal with the bad when it happens.

As for me, I continue to be about the same.  I have had several medical visits since I last posted, but they were just the usual follow-up type of appointments.  I do have an appointment on the Tuesday after Labour Day Monday; however, I will simply be seeing my family doctor again.

One of my dear friends came to visit this past week so that we could catch up on all our news. While she was here, she took a number of photos of Suki on her phone so, hopefully, she will be sending me one or two to use in future columns.

Greetings to all my readers, acquaintances and friends who are celebrating Eid al-Fitr today.

Wishing all of you the very best today, tomorrow (Labour Day) and each and every day ahead.
Until next time...