Sunday, 24 December 2017


"Euphorbia pulcherrima - Poinsettia", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017

Back on Sunday, December 23, 2012, I published another drawing of poinsettias and this is what I posted with it: 

These plants, which were found by the Europeans growing wild in Mexico after their invasion in the 1500s, were called "the Christmas Flower" as they bloomed in December. Some years later, the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico had some of the large plants shipped to his home in the Carolinas after finishing his assignment there. The plants survived and begin to be distributed throughout the southern U.S. From this time on they were called Poinsettia after the name of the ambassador, Joel Roberts Poinsett (1779 - 1851). 

Now, let me provide you with fuller information about this well-known Christmas plant. 

The poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) is a species of the diverse family, Euphorbiaceae. Where it is found growing wild in its native Mexico and Guatemala, it is actually a straggly shrub or small tree, typically reaching a height of 2–13 ft. with dark green leaves that measure 3 to 6 in. in length. 

The colored bracts—which are most often flaming red but can be orange, pale green, cream, pink, white, or marbled—are often mistaken for flower petals because of their groupings and colours, but are actually leaves. The colours of the bracts are created through something called photoperiodism. This means that they require periods of darkness (12 hours at a time for at least five days in a row) to change colour. At the same time, the plants require abundant light during the day to achieve the brightest colours. 

The actual flowers of the poinsettia are those unassuming little blossoms grouped within the small yellowish-green structures found in the center of each leaf bunch, and are called cyathia

The poinsettia plants we find in our stores during the holiday season are very different from those first plants that were brought into the U.S. by Ambassador Poinsett back in 1824. It took an immigrant who arrived in the U.S. at the beginning of the 20th Century to make the difference. 

The immigrant’s name was Albert Ecke. He emigrated from Germany to Los Angeles in 1900, opening a dairy and orchard in the Eagle Rock area. He became intrigued by the poinsettia plant and began selling them from street stands. His son, Paul Ecke, developed a grafting technique that made their plants much more attractive. This technique produced a fuller, more compact plant by grafting two varieties of poinsettia together. A poinsettia left to grow on its own will have a somewhat weedy look. The Eckes' technique made it possible to get every seedling to branch, resulting in a bushier plant. 

The genus name, Euphorbia, honours Euphorbus, a Greek physician to King Juba II of Mauretania – the king was a close friend of Julius Caesar. Euphorbus wrote about the medical uses of a latex producing plant similar to those found in this genus. The species name, pulcherrima, is Latin and means “beautiful”.

And just one final note... For years I believed the stories that I heard that said Poinsettias were very poisonous for cats and other creatures.  While preparing this section on these plants, I did some careful research and found out that they are not.  It seems that Poinsettias may make you a bit ill if you insist on chewing the leaves and stems or might cause you a reaction if you are allergic to latex; otherwise, they are reasonably safe for all animals, including humans!

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


As you can see from the photos posted below, the boys have paid a visit to Santa and are now waiting to see if they get everything they asked for.  Chance would be a fine thing!

Brothers -- all bundled up and ready to brave the cold in order to see Santa!

Finally, it is their turn to speak to Santa and tell him all they are wishing for.

Now that the important business has been taken care of, it is time to enjoy
the free candy canes!

Back home again (still working on those candy canes), they settle in to wait for Christmas Eve when they expect those BIG stockings of theirs to be filled by Santa!

Photos courtesy of their mom.


"Suki watches as dawn breaks on Christmas morning", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017

I have promised Suki that on Christmas morning I will give her a couple of those treats she loves so much -- even though they are strictly forbidden on her diet sheet from the vet.  I figure that a couple of small cat treats on one day out of 365 shouldn't do her any real damage and doing this will make her so happy -- for about a minute.  Oh, well, I say a little treat is better than no treat at all.

By the way, the drawing above was actually done for a Christmas card without any sign of Suki in it.  However, I decided it would be fun to take that drawing and add an image of my favourite black cat to use in my last posting prior to Christmas Day.

Meanwhile, Suki is prepared to have a very merry Christmas.  Her stocking, which still smells of catnip from last year, has been hung in its usual place waiting for Christmas Eve.  Suki has shown a lot of interest in it -- most likely due to the smell of catnip -- and seems to expect that it will eventually be filled!

As for me, I will not be putting up a stocking this year as there is really absolutely nothing that I need.  I received a lovely gift from the boys and their parents when I visited them on the 10th and there is truly nothing else that I want.  

Since the 10th, I have had enjoyable visits with a number of friends wanting to wish me a happy birthday and a merry Christmas.  Today, Christmas Eve, I am glad to be quietly on my own with just Suki for companionship.  On Christmas Day, I am looking forward to another quiet day with phone calls from family and friends and perhaps a brief visit with a dear friend who lives in my building.

My health remains about the same although I do seem to be having more discomfort in my lower back these days.  I do hope that this is just a passing thing as I would hate to have to increase my pain meds again after working so hard to decrease them as much as possible.  

Meanwhile, as Hanukkah ends and Christmas begins, let me wish you all the joys of the season.  

Peace be with you.


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