Sunday, 20 August 2017

Lady's-Slipper, Rose and Other Repeats

"Cypripedium calceolus - Lady's-slipper Orchid", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 rev.

From blog posting of November 8, 2015 (revised): 

Cypripedium calceolus, commonly known as Lady's-Slipper- Orchid, is a member of the Family, Orchidaceae. Other common names include Lady's Slipper, Slipper Orchid and Venus' Shoes. At one time it had a widespread distribution in Britain, almost every European country, including Russia, and the Far East. 

Typically found in open woodlands, its population declined over much of the European part of its range due to the shrinking of its habitat caused, particularly, by human clearance of the woodlands followed by the introduction of sheep. 

At present, it is a protected species in a number of countries. For example, in Great Britain, it was formerly widespread across northern England; however, by the late 20th century it had declined to just a single known plant. A reintroduction program for the Lady’s-Slipper-Orchid has led to a population of hundreds of plants in recent years.

The genus name of Cypripedium comes from two Greek words: Kypris (Venus) and podilon (sandal or slipper). The specific name of calceolus is taken from the Latin and means slipper.

"Rosa blanda - Meadow Rose", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 rev.

Rosa blanda, commonly known as the meadow, wild or prairie rose, is a species of rose native to North America. Among roses, it comes closest to being a "thornless" rose, with just a few thorns at the base. The meadow rose occurs as a colony-forming shrub growing to 1 meter or more in height and occurring naturally in prairies and meadows. The roses are quite variable in appearance and can sometimes be confused with Rosa arkansana or Rosa carolina, the two prairie rose species. 

The species name comes from the Latin word blandus, meaning "flattering, caressing, alluring, tempting", probably referring to the beauty of the flowers. Blooming in early summer, the flowers are borne singly or in flower clusters from lateral buds. The flowers have five large petals which are roughly heart shaped. These are coloured pink to pinkish-white with a pleasant fragrance. The dark green leaves are compound with coarse teeth. The hips (fruits) are bright red and rich in vitamin C. 

Rosa blanda grows naturally in meadows, prairies and fields occurs on dry hillsides, roadsides, fence rows, in either sandy or rocky soil. The range of natural growth is from Quebec to Ontario, south to Kansas, and east to Missouri and Ohio. The “wild rose” of western Canada’s “wild rose country” is related.

"Tropaeolum majus - Garden Nasturtiums"drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 rev.

"Poeticus recurvus -- Pheasant's-Eye Narcissus", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 rev.

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


Here are a few new photos of "my boys" having a busy day on a summer weekend...

Having an "after-breakfast" lie-in watching a children's film
(this gives mom and dad a chance to get some house and garden work done!)

Celebrating Canada on a cool and rainy summer weekend

"Hey, big brother, I think a storm is coming!"

After another busy day, time to watch a TV show about sharks!



"I will not go to the vet.  I will not go to 
the vet.  I will not go to the vet."  (The
power of positive thinking.)
How do cats and dogs always learn to recognize the word "vet"? They may not appear to understand a lot, especially the word "no", but when it comes to the word "vet", they cannot hide the fact that they understand as they immediately begin to take evasive action!

So, if you receive an email with a petition attached asking for your signature, please read it carefully -- especially if it is from my email address and the subject heading is "People Against Taking Suki to the Vet".

I mean, I wouldn't put it past her to do something like that now that she has heard me talking on the telephone to the vet -- making an appointment for more blood to be taken from a vein in her leg on August 24th!  Poor kitty -- somehow, I don't think her petition or her positive thinking will work.  She will be going to the dreaded vet this coming Thursday.

We have got to see if this new food regimen has finally done the trick and lowered her calcium levels.  If we can't find some way to accomplish this, then poor Suki will be at great risk of developing kidney stones and/or kidney disease.  

Any of you who have been long-time followers will know that the cat who lived with me for many year prior to Suki's arrival (miz k.d.) died from kidney disease and I really don't want to go through that again. So, hopefully, this new regimen will have done the trick and I will be able to stop worrying.

Suki, by the way, appears to be feeling just fine these days, but you really can't go by that as cats are very good at hiding pain -- especially when the word "vet" is mentioned. Of course, if the current treatment is working, she would, quite naturally, be feeling a lot better. This next blood test should reveal the facts and I hope, whatever the test reveals, it will news that both Suki and I want to hear!

As for me, I continue to struggle with my ongoing issues. Sadly, however, every time I think things have gotten stable, something new crops up or something old gets worse. I suppose it is all part of getting old which, as you have probably heard, ain't for the faint of heart.

Actually, even though I continue to try to be positive about my various issues, it is becoming more difficult of late.  I think my eyes have a lot to do with it as they seem to be getting worse in spite of all the drops I am now using.  I suppose this means that I had better make another appointment with the ophthalmologist so that she can try to determine what is happening. Hopefully, it will be something easily fixed.

My next posting will be on the Sunday before Labour Day Monday, September 4th.  At the moment, here in Ontario, we are in the midst of our annual, end-of-summer celebration known as the Canadian National Exhibition.  This event, known locally as "The Ex", has been occurring here since 1879 when it was opened as a venue for displaying the latest in agriculture and technology.  Last year, over 1.5 million visitors attended the CNE.  I used to attend regularly back when I was able to walk with ease.  However, once I was required to use either a walker or a wheelchair, it all became too difficult so now I just enjoy seeing bits and pieces of the various events on the local news. 

Say "Goodbye to Summer" at the Canadian National Exhibition!  [Main entrance to the
CNE, the Princes' Gate, as the staff prepare for the arrival of the crowds who will suddenly appear on opening day.]

Hope you are all able to enjoy these final days of summer. Whatever the case may be, I wish you the very best in the days ahead.


Sunday, 6 August 2017

Lilium Repeats

"Lilium bulbiferum -- Orange Lily", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 revision

From the blog posting of August 26, 2012:

Lilium bulbiferum -- commonly known as Orange Lily, Fire Lily or Tiger Lily -- is a herbaceous perennial plant with underground bulbs, belonging to the genus Lilium of the Liliaceae family. The specific name of bulbiferum is from the Latin, meaning "bearing bulbs" which refers to the secondary bulbs on the stem. 

Perennial lilies are native to the continental climate of the steppes, the Mediterranean countries, south-east Europe and central Asia. However, they have "escaped" from gardens in countries with similar climates worldwide and can now be said to be established in many other places. Evidently, according to people who know these things, this is one of the easiest lilies to grow. 

In Japan, it is cultivated in large quantities for the edible bulb which is described as tasting something like a sweet potato!

"Lilium martagon -- Martagon Lily", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 revision

From blog posting of October 17, 2012:

Lilium martagon (Martagon or Turk's-cap lily) is a true species of lily. It is of the Family, Liliaceae, and the genus Lilium. It has a widespread native region extending from eastern France east through northern Asia to Mongolia and Korea.  However, just like the Orange Lily, they have "escaped" from gardens in countries with similar climates worldwide and can now be said to be established in many other places.  

The name, Turk's-cap, comes from the characteristic reflexed shape of the petals. The specific epithet, martagon, is a Turkish word which means turban or cap.

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


"Why do people have to bother me
when I am trying to sleep?"
Good news!  Suki suddenly decided that this new food I had purchased for her was not so very bad after all. Of course, it may simply have been hunger which drove her back to this particular wet food.  

Whatever the cause, I am very grateful that she changed her mind. I am now back to feeding her at the regular times and she still has this new dry food to snack on between meals. Interestingly, she is also now drinking more water than ever. For the first time since she came to live with me all those years ago, she actually uses her water bowl several times a day.  Wonders never cease!

Otherwise, she seems to be feeling fine and staying slim.  I will still have to take her back to the vet at the end of August for another blood test. Hopefully, the results will reveal that the calcium level in her blood has decreased.  This would mean that these new, expensive foods are finally doing the trick.

As for me, I continue to have the same issues which I continue to deal with in the usual ways.  I am, thankfully, no worse.  I haven't had any medical appointments since my last posting; although, I do have a couple coming up before this new month is over.  In fact, I think I have one scheduled for the week ahead.

Of course, here in Ontario, tomorrow, Monday, is a holiday.  It is now listed simply as a "Civic Holiday", but, originally, it was known in Toronto as Simcoe Day in honour of John Graves Simcoe, Upper Canada's (as the area of what is now Ontario was known at that time) first lieutenant governor and the man who initiated the abolition of slavery in Canada. The Act went into effect in July of 1793 and remained in effect until August 24, 1833, when Britain's Slavery Abolition Act put an end to slavery in most of the empire. Toronto City Council established the civic holiday in honour of Simcoe in 1869.  There are only 5 provinces in which the first Monday of August is a holiday and Ontario just happens to be one of them.  

As usual on statutory holidays, I will stay at home and enjoy my air conditioning!  I am too old and have too much pain to be trying to sit on picnic-table benches or lawn chairs, swatting at mosquitoes while trying not to inhale any fumes from the barbecuing!

There is one special event that occurs during this long weekend every year, which I would attend -- something I did attend when I still young and active -- and that is the Caribana Parade.  The celebration called Caribana has been regular part of the Toronto experience for 50 years now. It begins in late July and ends on the 1st Monday of August. Caribana celebrates the peoples, music and cultures of all the Caribbean nations including Guyana.  Below is a photo from the Parade taken from Caribana Facebook page. 

So, whatever you are doing in the weeks ahead, holidays or no holidays, I hope you will be happy and safe.  Remember, please be kind to one another, to the earth and to all its creatures.

"Fawn Fast Asleep", drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011


Sunday, 23 July 2017

Lewisia and Lewisiopsis

"Lewisia cotyledon -- Cliff Maids", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017

Lewisia cotyledon is a species of flowering plant in the Purslane (Portulacaceae) family known by the common name of Cliff Maids. It is native to southern Oregon and northern California, where it grows in a rocky, sub-alpine, mountain habitat. 

It is an evergreen perennial growing from a thick taproot. It produces a basal rosette of many thick, fleshy oval- or spoon-shaped leaves up to 9 cm (4 in) long. The flowers have 7 to 13 petals. These petals may be whitish with pinkish-orange striping, solid orange to yellow or pale pink with darker veining. 

Lewisia cotyledon was among 178 species of plants that were first collected by Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis and Clark expedition in the early 1800s during their quest for the Northwest Passage. Thus the genus name of Lewisia in honour of Meriwether Lewis. The species name of cotyledon comes from the Greek, “kotulēdōn,” meaning a cup-shaped cavity,

"Lewisiopsis tweedyi -- Tweedy's Bitterroot", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017

Lewisiopsis tweedyi is the only species in the genus, Lewisiopsis. The species, formerly known as Lewisia tweedyi, is now classified in the Montiaceae family instead of the Portulacaceae family. The plant is known by the common names of Tweedy's Bitterroot and Tweedy's Lewisia. It is native to western North America, particularly in certain areas of British Columbia and adjacent north-central Washington State. 

Lewisiopsis tweedyi, a perennial, is typically found at elevations of 1,500 to 4,500 feet (460 to 1,370 m). The plants produce blossoms in May, June or July, depending on elevation. The blossoms normally have eight to twelve broad petals which are cream-coloured at the base, becoming lavender, apricot or pink near the tips with 12 to 25 stamens. It has numerous, evergreen, smooth, succulent leaves. 

The genus name of Lewisiopsis retains the original genus name honouring Capt. Merriweather Lewis, who - with William Clark - made the first transcontinental expedition across North America (1804-1806) and brought back samples of this plant. I am not sure exactly what Lewisiopsis is supposed to mean. I do know that “opsis” is a Greek word meaning “appearance” so, perhaps, Lewisiopsis means “appearing to be Lewisia” but isn't. Just a guess. 

The species name of tweedyi is taken from the name of Frank Tweedy, an American, 19th-century, topographic engineer who collected specimens for the US Geological Survey of the States of Montana, Idaho and Washington.

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


Suki refusing to eat her wet food
Life has not been easy for Suki (nor for the person with whom she lives!) this past week.  

On Monday morning, she suddenly refused to eat any of her vet-prescribed, wet food.  I have been aware for some time that she really didn't like it all that much, but, at least, she has been willing to eat it -- until this week.  

I wasted 4 (very expensive) cans of this food before I finally gave up. For the next four days, she only ate the vet-prescribed, dry food, grudgingly, complaining morning, noon and night about not having the food she wanted.  I felt that she was waiting to see if finally, in desperation, I would go out and get her some cans of Fancy Feast Turkey with Gravy!  

Then, on Thursday evening, as I was preparing for bed, I suddenly had an idea.  "Why not stop off at the pet food store close to my house on my way home from the doctor's visit on Friday morning?" So, there and then I decided to get the taxi driver to simply drop me off on the corner near my building, just across the street from the store, I wanted to see if the folks who run the store could help me help Suki.

So, on Friday morning, after I had seen the doctor (it was just a follow-up visit), I arranged things as described above.  Fortunately, when I entered the store there were just a few other customers and so I was able to get a nice young woman to assist me right away.  I described the type of food Suki needed, showed her one of the cans of the food prescribed by the vet and, then, asked her if she had any suggestions.  She proceeded to show me various possibilities, all of which I rejected. Finally, she brought down a case off one of the top shelves which I thought just might work.

After buying a case (that is the only way they sell stuff) and packing it securely in my walker basket, I set off for home with much fear and trembling.  By the time I reached my front door, it was just about 12 noon and there was Suki waiting for me.  She began immediately to try to shepherd me into the kitchen.  I allowed myself to be "shepherded" (which seemed to please Suki greatly) and quickly set about preparing a small dish of this new food.

I placed the bowl on the floor and watched in amazement as Suki gobbled up every last bite.  She then drank a bit of water, gave one of those full-body stretches expressing absolute contentment that cats are so famous for and then, after jumping into her favourite chair, set about giving herself a thorough bath.

There have been six more feeding times since that first one and, so far, she continues to appear to really enjoy this new food.  I know how fickle cats can be so I am just keeping my fingers crossed that this will turn out to be a food that Suki continues to like for years -- just like she did with the Fancy Feast.

As for me, I had quite an exciting outing on July 15th: I had a visit with Braden and Ro and their parents!  You may recall that we had to cancel the visit we had planned for sometime back in May. Then on Tuesday, the 11th, I received an email from the boys' father saying that Saturday morning would be fine for a visit if I was able to make it. I immediately wrote back and said that I was definitely available (even if I had had an appointment, I would have cancelled it in order to visit with the family and see the boys).

So early Saturday morning, I set off in a taxi to take the 40 minute drive to their house where we had a wonderful visit.  I stayed until around noon and then set off, by taxi once again, for Toronto.  This time the normally 40 minute drive took almost two hours!  First of all, there was a big accident on the other side of the highway -- which meant, of course, that all the folks in the four lanes on our side had to slow down and take a look!  

Then, there was the fact that the Toronto Indy was going strong at the CNE grounds that weekend (I could hear the roar of the cars underneath us as we travelled the major "overpass" highway across the bottom of the city). This meant that large portions of the 4-lane major artery along the lake shore was closed off and made into part of the speedway.  In turn, this meant that all those cars that would normally be travelling from one part of the downtown to another using local access streets now had to use the major highway on which the taxi driver and I were travelling.

Fortunately, I had a very pleasant driver so we were able to chat during the times traffic slowed to a crawl.  Finally, I reached my home where I found a very concerned kitty waiting for me by my front door -- after all, I was almost two hours late in feeding her! After taking care of Suki and changing into my house clothes, I collapsed into my recliner where I stayed until supper time. Yes, I was tired and in pain, but I had had a wonderful visit so that made any discomfort easy to take.

Big brother "reading" to younger brother -- one of those
precious quiet moments that parents of young children value so highly!

These next two weeks (before I post again) should be fairly quiet. I have no appointments scheduled and there are no visits planned with anyone -- even my friend, Sharon, has gone off to visit family for a week or so.  Of course, as we all know, just because nothing is planned doesn't mean that interesting things won't occur.  However, these are now the dog days of summer which are, in my opinion, meant to be "hazy, lazy days" (as the song says) -- so an empty appointment book for this time of year is not a bad thing!

Writing the above paragraph made me stop and think about the meaning behind the expression "dog days of summer".  So, I went and checked the details, for accuracy, online.  Here is what one web site says: 
The "dog days of summer" actually refers to an astronomical event. From mid-July to late-August, the star, Sirius, the Dog Star, Canis major, in the Orion constellation (which is represented by a dog in ancient Greek and Roman mythology) appears to rise and set with the sun. As the brightest star in the night sky, Sirius was already associated with light and heat. Its perceived proximity to the sun during the summertime only added to this reputation. 

So, keep cool.  
Hope the next two weeks are full of good things for you all.


Sunday, 9 July 2017

Two Kalanchoe Repeats and a Primula

"Kalanchoe blossfeldiana -- Flaming Katy",  drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017

From my blog posting of 05 October 2010:

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana is a member of the family, Crassulaceae. The plants in the genus, Kalanchoe, are succulents of the same family as the Jade plant. Common names for this plant include Flaming Katy and Christmas Kalanchoe The Christmas name refers to the fact that Kalanchoe blossfeldiana is often purchased at Christmastime – particularly, the variety which has bright, reddish/orange blossoms such as those in the featured drawing above. 

These plants are native to Madagascar. They produce clusters of small flowers above dark green, waxy leaves. The flowers of four petals each are found in many colours including red, white, orange, yellow and pink. Parts of Kalanchoe blossfeldiana are poisonous if ingested. 

The generic name of Kalanchoe allegedly originated "from the Chinese name for one variety of this species." The specific name of blossfeldiana is derived from the name of the German botanist (Robert Blossfeld) who introduced this species to the West in 1932.

"Kalanchoe (Bryophyllum) manginii - Beach Bells", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017

Kalanchoe (Bryophyllum) manginii is a species of flowering plant in the family, Crassulaceae, native to Madagascar. It is commonly known as Beach Bells or Chandelier Plant. 

As regards this plant’s binomial nomenclature, there are two camps – one using Kalanchoe manginii while the other uses Bryophyllum manginii. The generic name of Kalanchoe allegedly originated "from the Chinese name for one variety of this species." The generic name of Bryophyllum is derived from the Greek bryo (sprout) and phyllon (leaf), referring to the ability of the plant to propagate via leaf cuttings. The specific name of manginii, is used to honour Louis Mangin (1852-1937), professor at the Natural History Museum of Paris. 

Kalanchoe manginii is a succulent perennial, it has branches of fleshy, narrow, spoon-shaped leaves paired along wiry red-tinged stems. Small clusters of bright pinkish-red, bell-shaped flowers with protruding yellow anthers dangle from the stem tips in spring.

"Primula japonica - Japanese Primrose", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017

Primula japonica, commonly known as Japanese Primrose or Candelabra Primrose, is a species of flowering plant in the family, Primulaceae, and is native to Japan. 

Primula japonica produces whorls of blossoms, suggestive of candelabras, emerging from rosettes of dark green leaves. This species, and its cultivars, features flowers in a range of shades, from white through pink, to purple. 

The genus name of Primula is taken from the Latin word “prime”, meaning first (blooming). The specific name of japonica, means, obviously, something of or from the country of Japan.

Portions of the above three texts were taken from various Internet sites.


I recently received a bunch of wonderful new photos of the boys taken, mainly, I think, by their mother.  She has taken many excellent photos, but one from this recent batch, to me, seemed outstanding in its simplicity and beauty.  

“ Sometimes being a brother is even better than being a superhero.” – Marc Brown.
Brothers walking down the road of life, hand in hand.



"Why are you bothering me?  Can't you see that I am
engaged in very important work here?"
-- Suki
Poor Suki!  She, once again, had to suffer the indignity of attending the vet and having blood taken. Since she had been fasting from the night before, I was grateful that I was able to get her an early morning appointment.

The vet's first attempt to take blood from the large vein in her left leg was unsuccessful so she tried the same vein in her right leg and this time she was successful. Ever-patient Suki was very concerned about the pressure bandage that the vet put on her left leg to stop the bleeding. Fortunately, it was taken off after a few minutes as Suki was in danger of tipping herself off the examination table as she tried, unsuccessfully, to dislodge the pressure wrapping from her leg.

Finally, all was completed and, with Joycelyn's assistance, I managed to return home with a reasonably-subdued kitty, 2 cases of her special low-calcium wet food and a big bag of her low-calcium "crunchies".  Fortunately, we had a very helpful taxi driver who assisted us in get everything into the lobby of my building.

As soon as we reached my apartment, I opened the carrying case so that Suki could be free again.  She was out in an instant and then begin to meow, loudly telling me how hungry she was. So, I left everything else and set about feeding her as she had been fasting for well over fifteen hours prior by this time.  

Suki was delighted to see food again and ate greedily until I finally took the bowl away from her and suggested she digest what she had eaten before having any more food.  She must have already eaten her fill as she promptly left the kitchen, jumped into her favourite chair, gave herself a good bath -- especially where the vet had been working on her and then settled down for a long nap before lunch time! 

Now I will have to wait for at least a week before the lab results are in as these samples, once again, have to be sent to a special lab somewhere.  I hope everyone is still keeping their fingers crossed that the results will be good news.

As for me, I continue to be about the same as last reported.  I did have a few very painful days last week, but the pain was the price I paid for giving into my desire to see a certain exhibit at the Ontario Art Gallery.

The AGO has been hosting an exhibition of the works of the painter, Georgia O'Keefe, along with photos by some of the important photographers in her life, including:  Alfred Stieglitz (whom she eventually married), Paul Strand and Edward Steichen. I have admired O'Keefe's work for years now and it was quite wonderful see her actual canvases along with the photos taken of her by various well-known photographers.

Of course, after all the walking, including standing and looking at all those paintings for over two hours, my feet and legs felt as though they were on fire.  So for the next 48 hours or so, I was most uncomfortable and even with my pain meds, barely able to distract myself or sleep at all.  

I knew that the price I would have to pay for attending the exhibit was going to be a period of discomfort, but I didn't realize that it would last for so long! Anyway, I am better now and well aware that the next time I want to do something like this then I will just have to set my pride aside and rent a wheelchair for the occasion. 

I did have a very pleasant Canada Day on the July 1st (below, please see the drawing I posted on Facebook for Canada Day). Hope all my Canadian readers had a good holiday as well, including my American readers on the 4th.  While it is good to be proud of our countries and to remember all the fine people who have gone before us and whose sacrifices brought our nation into existence, I feel we all need to be careful these days to avoid nationalist fervour and jingoistic thinking.  

Most of us in North America are all immigrants of one kind or another -- other than the Indigenous peoples, of course. Newly arrived immigrants have as much right to be here as we do and, if we are really honest about it, we know that our countries need new people with new ways of thinking and new approaches to creating a better life for everyone.  I also think it is good to remember as we celebrate that many of our ancestors were crooks, scoundrels and such like -- some were even illegal immigrants.  Yet, look how positively many of our family members, over the generations, have contributed to our various countries and cultures.

Enough preaching -- I do get carried away at times, don't I.... 

Anyway, until I post again in two weeks time, things should be fairly quiet for me and Suki (unless we get bad news from the vet, that is).  I do have a few more medical appointments scheduled but they are all just follow-up appointments.  Additionally, I am hoping to hear soon about when I can next visit my two favourite little boys and their parents. 

So, until next time, take care and remember to keep your fingers crossed that there will be good news for Suki!

"Indigenous Dancer", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, rev. 2017


Sunday, 25 June 2017

One New, Two Repeats

"Ixia viridiflora -- Turquoise Ixia", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017

Ixia viridiflora, also known as Turquoise Ixia, is a member of the Iris family. It is native to only particular areas of the Cape Province in South Africa and it is a very rare plant. Its habitats are continuing to be destroyed by human activity so, sadly, its conservation status is now listed as “Vulnerable” in the Red Data Book, and is likely to be upgraded to “Endangered” in the near future. 

Turquoise Ixia gets its name from the really spectacular blue-green turquoise colour of the flowers. Turquoise is a rare colour for flowers. These lovely blossoms are grouped in long rows and are traditionally star-shaped. They have a black-purple centre. This flower is pollinated by specific scarab beetles known as monkey beetles. 

It is said that Linnaeus derived the name for the genus, Ixia, from an old Greek name for a plant noted for the variability of its flower colour. The species name viridiflora is from the Latin and means "green-flowered".

"Impatiens niamniamensis - Congo cockatoo", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017

As posted 5 November 2009:

There is a species of Impatiens that is one of the most unusual members of the genus and that is the type pictured above. Its name is Impatiens niamniamensis, commonly known as Congo Cockatoo or Parrot Plant. This shrub, native to tropical East Africa, is of the Family, Balsaminaceae

These truly fantastic flowers are said, by some, to look like parrots. One commentator has said that they actually remind her more of candy corn! I think I agree with her as I really do like candy corn! The stems of this shrub can get so thick that after a while, the whole plant looks like a dark, tropical tree. 

The genus name of Impatiens is from the Latin and refers to the seed pod's habit of bursting open when touched. The species name of niamniamensis means of or from Niam-Niam (a 19th century name used by Europeans for central Africa -- a name which is now considered pejorative).

"Eustoma russellianum - Prairie Gentian", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017

As posted 9 July 2012:

Eustoma represents a genus of 3 species belonging to the family Gentianaceae and can be found in the warm areas of Texas, Mexico, the Caribbean and northern South America. They thrive in grasslands and places of disturbed ground. 

Eustoma grandiflorum is one of the best known of the species and is valued because of the large number of cultivars that have been developed from this species. The cultivated plant is frequently listed as Lisianthus. In North America the common names include Texas Bluebell or Prairie Gentian. As well, the cultivars have been developed in colours such as white and pink. 

The meaning of Eustoma (eu = beautiful, good....stoma = mouth) is good tasting or well spoken, but in the case of this plant it may mean "beautiful mouth" referring to the extraordinary colors of the flower as you look down into its "funnel" shape. The species name of grandiflorum is from the Latin and is used as a scientific name to indicate a flower with large blooms.

Most of the above text is taken from various Internet sources.


"Suki Daydreaming"
Photo by Amra, 2017
Well, Suki continues to behave as though she is feeling quite fine. So far I haven't seen any indications of unusual lethargy or discomfort.  In fact, she seems, on occasion, to be feeling better than she has for some time. Perhaps this expensive, low-calcium diet the vet has her on is really making a difference.

At any rate, I plan to take Suki to the vet some time in the next couple of weeks so that she can take more blood from the poor kitty.  I will then pay the $300 this specialized blood test costs and wait to see if the results of this second test show any improvement over the results of the prior test.  Please join me in keeping your fingers crossed! 

As for me, I, too, continue to do reasonably well -- all things considered. My eyes are still causing me discomfort; however, until the doctor finds a medication that consistently controls the ocular pressure, I suspect things will remain a bit uncomfortable.

I have been very fortunate to have had friends visiting this past week.  In fact, I had visitors on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  It has been quite wonderful to see some of my friends again and catch up on the news.

I have also have several medical appointments over the past two weeks and have still more appointments in the weeks ahead.  I'm uncertain as to why I suddenly have a batch of doctors visits here at mid-year -- must have something to do with needing follow-up appointments every six months.


Between now and the time I post again, we will be celebrating Canada Day here in my country.  This year's celebration is a somewhat special celebration for all the immigrants (that includes me) to this country as it is 150 years since the federation of Canadian provinces was first established [the Dominion of Canada, as per the British North America Act of 1867 that unified the provinces (Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick)]. 

Of course, the indigenous peoples in this great land look with something of disapproval on these celebrations and who can blame them!  After all, this land had been their country for hundreds of thousands of years before the European invasion began in the early 1600s.

At any rate, we will be celebrating and, as you may recall, I prepared for this celebration by doing a drawing of the Canada 150 Tulip some months ago.  This is the tulip produced by the bulb that the kind folks of the Netherlands cultivated for us in honour of our celebration.  (see below)

"Canada's Tulip -- 150 Years, July, 2017", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

"Canada Tulip 150" blooming in
St. James' Park, downtown Toronto
Photo by Mercedes
One amusing thing regarding these tulips occurred after masses of the bulbs were planted across the country.  When they burst into bloom this spring, a surprising number of them had orange petals instead of the desired red and white! Fortunately, the majority of the bulbs bloomed in the appropriate colours as you can see in the photo above taken by a friend of mine back in the spring of this year as she passed by St. James' Park.

So, I wish you all a very happy Canada Day, a happy 4th of July (USA) and a happy International Gay and Lesbian Pride Day. Celebrate and enjoy! 


Sunday, 11 June 2017

More Floral Repeats

"Mertensia paniculata - Tall Bluebells (Lungwort)", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017

Here are three more repeats -- in other words, three flowers I have featured during the past 10 years and of which I have now done new "drawings".

Below, for two of the drawings, I have used the information I posted previously; however, it appears that this first item, Mertensia paniculata, was published on an occasion when I was in a big rush so all I posted was the drawing itself.  

Hope you enjoy another trip down memory lane.


Mertensia paniculata, also known as tall bluebells, bluebell lungwort or northern bluebells, is a dwarf shrub with drooping bright-blue, bell-shaped flowers. A member of the Borage Family (Boraginaceae), it is native to north-western North America as well as the Great Lakes region. Mertensia paniculata occurs naturally in the temperate zone of North America and is known to thrive within boreal forests. 

The buds of Mertenia paniculata are purplish-blue and green, turning bright blue when the flower opens. The blue flowers are bell-shaped, hanging on slender stalks. Leaves are dark green with a long tapering tip and rounded base. 

Mertensia paniculata has been used for medicinal purposes throughout the centuries. The dried leaves of the plant would be made into an herbal tea to stimulate the respiratory system. Thus, the common name of bluebell lungwort. Externally, the leaves were used as poultices on cuts and wounds. 

The genus name of Mertensia honours Franz Karl Mertens, early 18th century German botanist and professor of Botany at Bremen. The species name, paniculata, is taken from the Latin, panus, diminutive panicula, which, in this case, means a loose, branching cluster of flowers.


"Convolvulus arvensis -- Field Bindweed", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017

From salliesART posting May 30, 2010: 
Field Bindweed is considered to be a pest and nuisance throughout the world -- but even such a despised plant has its own beauty. I hope I have captured some of that beauty in my drawing. 

The proper name for this plant is Convovulus arvensis, known in English as Field Bindweed. It is a native of Europe and Asia that has spread throughout the world. It is considered to be a serious weed in 14 countries and a problem in 19 others, including Canada. The first observation of Field Bindweed in North America was in 1739 in what is now the State of Virginia. 

Field Bindweed is a twining perennial vine. Characteristics distinguishing it from other vines include arrowhead-shaped leaves, thin stems, pinkish petals fused into funnel-shaped flowers. These flowers only last for one day, while a single plant in a single season may produce up to 550 seeds! Stems, which usually attach themselves to objects, always twine around those objects in a counter-clockwise direction.

The genus name of Convolvo comes from the Latin, meaning "to entwine". The species name of arvens is Latin for a "cultivated field". 


"Erythrina bidwilii - Coral Tree", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017

From salliesART February 24, 2012: 
Erythrina × bidwillii is the botanical name for two different hybrids (cultivars) produced from hybridizing Erythrina species at Camden Park Estate, New South Wales, Australia, in the early 1840s. 

Although the flowers of both cultivars are similar, the form of the plants is different - one is a small tree (Camdeni), commonly known as “Coral Tree”; while the other is a shrub (Blakei), commonly known as “Shrub Coral Tree”. The tree form, when protected from frost, can obtain the height of 20 feet. 

The genus name Erythrina comes from the Greek erythros meaning "red", both the flower and seed are bright red. They are members of the Fabaceae (legume) family. There are over 100 species of Erythrina that grow in warm, frost-free regions of the world. 

The wood of the Coral Tree is strong and lightweight with the buoyancy of balsa wood. The wood has been used for canoe out-rigging, fish net floats and surfboards. 

In Africa the tree was considered a royal tree and was planted on the graves of Zulu chiefs. When the tree began to flower, farmers knew it was time to plant their crops. Medicinal use suggests that species have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects (it is rumoured to also have narcotic effects). The seed is said to be a lucky charm. 

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


"Suki sitting on place-mat",
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014
Suki had to recently deal with another visit from the "monster" that comes to my apartment every so often and frightens her into her bedroom closet hidey-hole!  This time the "monster" was a workman with a big drill which he planned to use on my balcony in order to create a larger drainage hole for rainwater.  

When the workman, along with my building's maintenance supervisor, first knocked at my door, Suki bristled-up like a big, hairy puffball and growled menacingly. However, as soon as these folks entered, Suki decided that a full retreat was a better choice than trying to fight this particular "monster" and so she made a swift exit to the bedroom.  As I spoke with the maintenance supervisor, I could hear Suki frantically pushing open the bedroom closet door.  

It was an hour after the workman had finished his noisy job and left my apartment before Suki would come out of her hidey-hole.  After sniffing around a bit, she must have decided that the "monster" had well and truly gone and, thus, she then begin pestering me, indicating that she deserved an early lunch after her harrowing ordeal. 

Since then, things have been as they usually are in our home:  quiet and calm.  Of course, I have had a number of medical appointments over these past two weeks.  Visits with members of the medical profession have become the source of most of my social interactions these days!

Most of these visits are simply follow-up appointments -- just checking to make certain that the various conditions from which I suffer are still being managed properly by the medications prescribed.  

There is only one of these that is not being managed as well as hoped and that is the glaucoma which is in both eyes now. The ophthalmologist has been trying several different drops over these past months in an effort to bring down the pressure in my eyes, but so far nothing has worked.  I am now on something even stronger in the hope that it will finally do the trick.  I have to use it for the next four weeks before the doctor checks my eyes again. So, here's hoping!

Before my next posting, we will be celebrating the summer solstice here in the northern hemisphere (it will be the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere of course).  Although we humans have strayed far from our hunter/gatherer/agrarian roots, which kept us so aware of the changing of the seasons, I think most people still sense something, however vaguely, when their side of the earth is closest to the sun. 

I have often wished that I had travelled to someplace like the Canadian far north or the Shetland islands at midsummer when it never really gets dark at all. I understand from those who live in such places that it is very difficult to sleep during these weeks of "simmer din" (summer twilight in Shetlandic when, from mid-May to mid-July, the sun only dips below the northern horizon for a few hours), but I still wish I had taken the opportunity to experience it for myself.  Ah well, thank goodness for photos and videos.

Midsummer night on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides
Photo from BBC production "TWO Midsummer Live"


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.