Sunday, 21 August 2016

Agastache 'Blue' and Bumblebee

"Agastache 'Blue' and Bumblebee", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

This drawing should actually be named "Agastache 'Blue' and Bumblebee for Michael" since I did the drawing at the request of my friend, Michael. Let me explain...

A couple of weeks ago, Michael sent me a photo of what appeared to be a flowering, spiky plant of the genus, Agastache.  Visible in the photo was a portion of one spike with a bee busily at work on one of the flowers.  The photo came with the question...  did I think that I would be able to do a drawing for him of a flowering spike, including the bumblebee.  Since I love a challenge, I said "yes" and here, some days later, is the first draft.  

I have just sent a copy of this first attempt to my friend, Michael.  I will let you know in my next posting what he has to say about it and what kind of changes he may want me to make.

Now, here is just a bit of information on the genus, Agastache.

Agastache (also known as giant hyssop) is a genus of fragrant, flowering plants in the family, Lamiaceae. The majority of species are native to North America with one member of the genus being found in eastern Asia. 

Most species of Agastache are upright with stiff, angular stems clothed in toothed-edged, lance shaped leaves. Upright spikes of tubular flowers develop at the stem tips in summer. The flowers are usually white, pink, mauve, or purple and are very attractive to bees. Leaf tips can be eaten and made into teas. 

Agastache comes from the ancient Greek, ἄγαν, meaning “very much” plus, στάχυς, meaning “ear of corn”, so called on account of the multiple flowering spikes of the plant. Thus, Agastache is said to mean "many spikes".

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


Here are a few new photos of Rònàn and Braden.  Enjoy!

Braden and Ro working on the wrestling routines.
"Hey, guys, wasn't Braden supposed to end up on top?"

Braden reads to his little brother, Rònàn 

Braden and Rònàn, brothers.



Here is the poster I made for
"Black Cat Appreciation Day",
August 17th, 2016
I hope some of you knew it was Black Cat Appreciation Day on the 17th of August and took a moment to say a kind word to a black cat of your acquaintance!

I did not even know there was such a thing as Black Cat Appreciation Day until I saw a posting about it on Facebook on the 18th of August!  So, obviously, I was not able to do something special for Suki on her special day.  I begged her forgiveness and told her that I have posted a reminder in my date book in the note section for 2017. Next year, therefore, I shall do something special for Suki on that day -- maybe even make her a turkey and gravy "cake"!

As for how Suki is doing otherwise, let me just say that she continues to manage reasonably well within her limitations. Let me explain...

Although she continues to jump up onto her favourite chairs and onto the bed, I notice that she no longer jumps up onto the top of her scratching post -- she used to love to sit there and observe her world from that vantage point. Nor does she ever stand on her hind legs and lean into the post to sharpen her front claws as she did for so many years. 

As well, I have noticed that she no longer tries to play with any of her toys, all of which would require that she push and chase while standing on all fours.  She will still play with a ribbon if I hold it over her while she is lying down, but she no longer even tries to jump up and grab things.  Even the little laser light cannot get her moving.  She will try to grab the light, but she does so while continuing to lie down.

So, while her medication appears to be masking the pain well enough so that she can do the basics -- eat, use the litter box and jump up onto the places where she prefers to sleep -- she still must be in enough pain so that she is unwilling to be any more active than is absolutely necessary.

I, also, continue to manage reasonably well within my limitations! At present, the levels of pain medication that I am taking do mask the pain reasonably well -- most of the time.  My doctor has recommended a natural sleep remedy which seems to be working reasonably well -- well enough that is so that I am usually able to fall asleep before my awareness of the pain takes over and keeps me from getting any sleep at all (those are very bad nights).

I continue to be able to move the computer mouse easily enough so that for a few hours each morning I can work on my art projects before the activity begins to get too painful. In the afternoon, I continue to be able to find new movies and TV series to stream which keep me lost in various stories, seldom consciously aware of the pain, until it is time for bed.  Thus my life goes on...

As for any special activities scheduled for me in the week ahead, there is only one -- an appointment with one of my many doctors for prescription renewals and follow-up.  Not very exciting, but necessary. Otherwise, it looks as though it will be a very normal and quiet week for me -- my favourite kind....



"Strive to enter through the narrow gate...", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Jesus passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” He answered them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, ‘Lord, open the door for us.’ He will say to you in reply, ‘I do not know where you are from. And you will say, ‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’ Then he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!’ And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out. And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God. For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” Luke 13:22-30

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Oxalis versicolor - Candy Cane Sorrel

"Oxalis versicolour -- Candy Cane Sorrel", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Oxalis versicolour, commonly known as Candy Cane Sorrel, produces a number of strikingly spectacular flowers. When open, each of the 1 to 1½" flowers show off five white petals tinged with red.  As attractive as these flowers are in full bloom, they are even more striking when they have not quite opened completely and display a red and white striped pattern – looking for all the world like one of those trees children dream about – a candy tree full of peppermint sticks!

Sadly, the flowers and leaves of Oxalis versicolour – like all members of the genus – contain oxalic acid, giving the leaves and flowers a sour taste. While some people are said to find the taste refreshing, it certainly is not the taste a young child would be looking for when it comes to candy! As well, if you ingest too much oxalic acid, it could prove toxic. 

Oxalis is by far the largest genus in the wood-sorrel family Oxalidaceae. The genus occurs throughout most of the world, except for the polar areas. Species diversity is particularly rich in tropical Brazil, Mexico and South Africa. Today’s featured plant is native to South Africa.

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 term “versicolour” originated in the early 18th century and was created by combining the Latin word “versus” (changing or turning) with the word colour.

"Oxalis convexula", drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2010
Although Oxalis is a large genus, I have only tried drawing one other member of this grouping, Oxalis convexula, which I featured in a column back in 2010.  The flowers of this particular wood sorrel are normally pink in colour; however, back in 2010, I was experimenting with some software that allowed me to change the colours of a drawing with one keystroke.  So, I ended up with blue flowers and a drawing which I enjoy revisiting even to this day. 

Some portions of the above text were taken from various Internet sources.


My boys stay very busy these days doing lots of interesting things, including:


The boys feed the goat -- with a bit of help from their Dad!

Braden shows his little brother how to milk a cow!


Braden gently holds Python reticulatus!

Ro reaches out eagerly to pet Python reticulatus!


The brothers take a "road trip" in this vehicle with two steering wheels!  


Playing safe -- and enjoying the water!

Braden turns out to be the tallest boy in his first martial arts class!



Suki the Contemplative!
The vet telephoned me on Wednesday of this past week to see how Suki is doing.  She asked me two specific questions regarding Suki's health...

First, she asked me if Suki's medication appeared to be managing her pain; secondly, she asked whether Suki had thrown up again since we had last adjusted the amount of the pain medication she was taking.  I answered "yes" to her first question and a cocky "no way" to her second.  

Now, I'm thinking that perhaps I jinxed the situation when I assured the vet that Suki was doing fine and hadn't had any problems with anything, including throwing up just after eating.  And why would I think that I had jinxed things?  Well, because that very evening, shortly after Suki finished eating her supper, she threw it all up again!

Then Friday night, shortly after I had given Suki a bedtime snack, I heard the unmistakable sounds of Suki "losing her cookies" as they say.  Half an hour later, after cleaning things up, I collapsed into my own bed.  As I fell asleep, I was trying to figure out what I should tell the vet when I telephone her on Monday!

Poor Suki... she has enough problems without having this food problem as well.  Thankfully, she hasn't thrown up again since Friday night; however, from now on, I will never again be so cocky when it comes to reporting on Suki's health.

As for me...

It was another quiet week with no medical appointments or any other kind of appointment!  Joycelyn came to help me at her regular times throughout the week, I visited with my neighbour, as usual, on Friday morning and several dear friends telephoned me. In fact, I expected this past week to be without anything unusual or unexpected.

Then on Thursday I received an email from a dear friend I had not seen in a year and from whom I had not heard for at least the past six months.  Her email told me that she in visiting her family here in Toronto and that she was hoping she could come and visit me while she was here.  I replied immediately, telling her that she was welcome any time.  In response, I got an email asking if a visit on Saturday (yesterday) would be OK.  My reply was "Yes, yes, yes!". We had a wonderful visit and even celebrated her birthday (today) with coffee and trifle!   

As for the week ahead, it should be another quiet one, but, then, I thought that was going to be the case for this past week as well. We just never know, do we?



"Icon -- Christ the Teacher", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, rev. 2014

Jesus said to his disciples: “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”  Luke 12:49-53

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Hosta clausa var. normalis

"Hosta clausa var. normalis 'Plus' ", drawing by 
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

This drawing was inspired by a couple of photos taken by an acquaintance of mine. One photo showed a laneway lined on both sides by rows and rows of tiny lavender-coloured flowers; the other photo was a close-up of one of the blossoms. I was so intrigued by these stalks of tiny flowers that I decided to do a drawing of them.

When I researched the flower featured in these photos, I discovered that it was a member of the genus, Hosta and was, most likely, a cultivar of the species, “clausa”. There are a number of varieties of Hosta clausa including Hosta clausa var. normalis. Even this cultivar comes in several variations. Today’s featured drawing illustrates this. Let me explain... 

Hosta clausa var. normalis is a variety of Hosta clausa whose flowers open normally. Clausa, by the way, is Latin for “closed”. This particular plant is so named as the flowers produced by Hosta clausa never open while those of the variety “normalis”, open normally. 

The cultivar in my drawing is another variety of Hosta clausa var. normalis as evidenced by the colouring of the leaves. The usual leaves of Hosta clausa var. normalis are a solid, rich green in colour. The leaves in my drawing have green centres with greenish-white borders similar to another variety of Hosta. Unfortunately, I do not know the name of this cultivar although it reminds me of a Hosta clausa var. normalis that I saw once which, I believe, was called ‘A Many Splendoured Thing’! Since the actual name of the cultivar in my drawing is unknown to me, I am simply calling it 'Plus'. 

Hosta clausa
var. normalis 'Plus'
By the way, the genus, Hosta, was named after Nicolaus Thomas Host, 19th century Austrian botanist and physician to the Austrian emperor. Hostas are members of the family, Asparagaceae

Hosta clausa is native to central and northern Korea. As I was doing this drawing, I often found myself thinking about all those North American men and women who, after suffering through Korea’s brutal winters in foxholes and tents, would have been delighted to see spring arrive and to see these lilac-coloured flowers growing wild – covering the deserted fields now filled with land mines and the rusting remains of modern warfare. 

I was in the 4th grade when the “police action” began in Korea. My family was living, at that time, in a small town in central Tennessee. My sister, Janet, whose passing I told you about in last week’s posting, was already in Grade 11 and her steady boyfriend, Pete, had just finished high school, grabbed by the army and sent to Korea. 

Janet wrote letters faithfully as did Pete and even though I was only 8 years old; I was fascinated by these letters and would try to sneak a peek at them if possible. The very best letters contained black and white photos – the kind taken by a cheap brownie. In these tiny photographs were pictures of young men standing beside unbelievably high snow drifts. You really couldn’t identify anyone as everyone’s faces were almost completely covered! In the months that followed there were also photos of what looked like lovely fields of wild grass filled with tents, jeeps and big guns. 

Hosta clausa
var. normalis 'Plus'
At that age, I really couldn’t understand what this all meant, but I knew that my sister, Janet, was concerned and if a week went by without a letter from Pete, she would begin to look very worried indeed. 

Years later when M*A*S*H appeared on our TV screens, I begin to understand what was really going on at that time in Korea and why young men and women from so many countries had suffered and died there. As well, I finally understood why my sister had waited so anxiously for those letters to arrive each week.



Suki was enjoying a fairly quiet and uneventful week until Friday. I have no idea what changed between Thursday and Friday, but Friday morning begin with Suki regurgitating her breakfast almost as soon as she had eaten it!

Personally, I think this problem occurs because Suki gobbles her food down so quickly that her poor,  little tummy is overwhelmed ... but what do I know.  Anyway, throwing up is one of those events about which the books say "watch your cat carefully and if there are any further signs of distress, take the cat to your vet immediately."  So, I begin to "watch carefully".

It was a very boring watch as Suki settled down to sleep and did not move again until shortly before noon.  So, I thought: "well, maybe it was just one of those things that happens and it means nothing" and went ahead and gave Suki her lunch.  She gobbled it down and then immediately threw it up again!  Now I was really getting worried.

However, after she begged a bit to be fed again, Suki went back to her favourite chair and settled down to sleep until close to her supper time (6 p.m.).  By now, I was afraid to give her any more of the turkey and gravy and, instead, gave her just a bit of her "crunchies". She ate them quickly and they stayed down.  So, at bedtime, I gave her a bit more of the dry food. That stayed down as well.  I went to bed a bit more hopeful that I wouldn't be making a trip to the vet on Saturday. 

On Saturday morning, I bravely decided to give Suki a small helping of her beloved turkey and gravy.  To my delight, it stayed down.  However, I knew the big test would come at lunch time when I not only feed Suki but I give her the daily dose of pain medication as well. 

I gave Suki her daily dose of that good painkiller and that was followed by a dish of turkey and gravy.  After she finished eating, I watched her carefully and, once again, nothing happened.  She remained in the kitchen while I prepared my own lunch -- all the while begging for me to give her a couple of her cat treats (she loves those things). When Suki realized that she wasn't going to get anything else to eat, she headed for one of her "favourite" chairs and settled in for a long sleep. 

So, here it is on Sunday morning and Suki continues to do well.  If things continue this way, then I won't be having to make another one of those incredibly expensive visits to the vet!

As for me, I am not doing too well these days.  Not to worry, it is nothing serious. I am just feeling the effects that result from trying to establish new medication levels in my body.  When I saw the pain clinic doctor recently, he decided that several of my medications needed to be changed so that I was achieving a better balance between the drugs I take for joint and bone pain and those I require for nerve pain.  It is never easy to make changes and so my body is presently in a state of mild rebellion over it all!

Ah, well, this too shall pass.  Meanwhile, I am facing a week without any appointments scheduled.  This pleases me very much as the weather in this part of the world continues to be really hot and humid with daytime highs in the 90s.  This means that I can stay inside in my lovely, air-conditioned apartment and avoid the heat completely.  

Still missing my sister very much, of course. I am now thinking about how to make certain that all those things I have in my home which hold special meaning for our family can be gotten to my niece and nephew and their families. I also want to make certain that they know the stories behind these items -- so I am determined to make my aching fingers write down some of those stories so that they won't be lost just yet.



"Icon - The Transfiguration", by the  hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016 rev.

Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up a mountain to pray. While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem. Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep, but becoming fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” But he did not know what he was saying. While he was still speaking, a cloud came and cast a shadow over them, and they became frightened when they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.” After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. They fell silent and did not at that time tell anyone what they had seen.  Luke 9:28b-36

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Hemerocallis -- Daylilies

"Hemerocallis -- Daylilies", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

This week's drawing features a daylily that I recently saw growing in a friend's garden. I know it is a cultivar, but I could not find its name.  All I know is that since it is a daylily, it is of the genus, Hemerocallis

Since plants in the genus, Hemerocallis, are not considered to be true lilies, they are placed in family, Asphodelaceae (any lily-like plant whose roots can be eaten).  Asphodelaceae used to be one of the subfamilies of Liliaceae (which includes true lilies) which daylilies once called home, but now daylilies have been given a separate family since they are not true lilies.

[Notice that the preferred spelling is "daylily" as one word. Many dictionaries spell it as two words.] 

Hemerocallis is native to Eurasia, primarily eastern Asia, including China, Korea, and Japan. This genus is popular worldwide because of the showy flowers and hardiness of many kinds. There are over 60,000 registered cultivars. Hundreds of cultivars have fragrant flowers, and new scented cultivars are appearing frequently in northern hybridization programs. 

The word Hemerocallis is derived from two Greek words meaning "beauty" and "day," referring to the fact that each flower lasts only one 24 hour day. To make up for this, there are many flower buds on each daylily flower stalk, and many stalks in each clump of plants, so, the flowering period of a clump is usually several weeks long.

Portions of the above were taken from various Internet sources.

MY SISTER, JANET, AND ME (usually the Suki and Sallie section)

My sister, Janet, caring for her 9-month-old sister, Sallie (me!)

Today, instead of writing about Suki and myself, I am devoting this space mainly to the memory of my sister, Janet.  She passed away on Monday afternoon, July 25, 2016.

Janet had not been well for the past seven months.  The cancer, with which she had been diagnosed and treated 5 years ago, returned at the beginning of this year. After chemo, she seemed to be doing well for a few months but then she collapsed this past Monday afternoon and never regained consciousness. She leaves behind her husband, two grown children and their families which include 3 wonderful grandchildren.  Her funeral was held yesterday in her home town in Tennessee (see photo below).

Janet's family arriving at the church 
She was my only remaining sibling.  It feels so very strange to be the last member of my immediate family still living.  I have often thought about all those stories, traditions and secrets which make up a family's history. These are the things that will be lost unless they are passed along to children and grandchildren. Knowing this makes me think that, perhaps, I should write down some of the things I remember so that I can share them with Janet's children since I have no children of my own.

Janet left home to attend university when I was 10 years old.  Our older sister had left home years before so, when Janet went away, I was left alone with our aging parents. At this point, my father moved us to a new home he had built located out in the middle of nowhere.  Our closest neighbour was a sharecropping family who lived over a mile away.  I had to take two school buses each way, each day in order to reach my school. 

This meant that I spent many hours each day with only my parents, my books, my special trees and all the farm animals (for which I was assigned responsibility) for company.  During the next 7 years, before I, too, left for university, I heard many stories from my mother that neither of my other sisters had heard. As well, I experienced many things in that isolated setting that had not been experienced by my sisters.

As I come to terms with my sister's death, I recall so many things that I shared with her in our adult years. Since Janet was 7 years older I was, we had to wait until I was a young adult myself before we really got acquainted and became not only sisters, but good friends. I am so grateful to have known her -- she was truly a wonderful lady and I am going to miss her very much.

Suki looks at me as if to say:
"Isn't it time to eat yet?"
As for Suki, she is doing reasonably well. She had a fairly quiet week and hasn't gotten into any mischief -- as far as I can tell! 

I have been able to decrease the amount of pain medication she is getting each day without any signs of distress on her part. This also means that she no longer is showing any signs of stomach upset.

Braden listens carefully as I read to his brother
As you know, I had arranged a visit to "my boys" and their parents this past Sunday.  I was able to make the trip and really enjoyed seeing them all. I arrived about 10 A.M. and had time to visit with the boys before we sat down to enjoy a delicious brunch together. After that we were able to visit a bit more before it was time for the boys to go for their naps. I had a wonderful time and did not suffer too much discomfort.  Of course, I was exhausted by the time I returned home, but it was worth it. Now we are talking about arranging another visit in a few months.



"Parable of the Rich Fool", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.” He replied to him, “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?” Then he said to the crowd, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” Then he told them a parable. “There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’ And he said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.Luke 12:13-21

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Canada's Tulip

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

Recently, my dear friend, Joyce, sent me an email which contained a photograph of a very special tulip -- the 'Canada 150 Tulip'.  I had heard someone mention it several months ago and had meant to check it out; however, as with so many things these days, I forgot. So I was delighted to receive a reminder.

In fact, I was so delighted that I decided to go ahead and do some drawings of this special tulip.  I ended up with 5 drawings.  I am not quite satisfied with any of them yet; however, here are two with which I am somewhat pleased (see drawings above and below). Now, let me tell you just a bit about this special flower.

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

The Canada 150 Tulip was "bred" in the Netherlands.  I googled it and came across a quote from His Excellency Cees Kole, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which read:  

The Canada 150 Tulip represents gratitude and the long-standing friendship between Canada and the Netherlands. Blooming in the colours of Canada’s flag, [the] Canada 150 Tulips will bring both pride and joy to gardens and communities from coast to coast to coast.

By next July, as we celebrate 150 years since Confederation, over 300,000 of these red and white lilies will be showcased in the National Capital Region's flower beds in Ottawa with thousands more expected to be planted in community gardens across Canada. What a glorious sight that will be!

Dows Lake, Commissioners Park, Ottawa
(Wikipedia -- Photo taken 2006)
Wikipedia states the following: 
"The Canada 150 tulip, also known as the Maple Leaf tulip, is the official tulip of Canada’s 150th anniversary and was unveiled May 9, 2016 in Commissioners Park, Ottawa. The tulip was selectively bred with an elegant white flower and red flames, which resembles the flag of Canada." 



"Suki -- the Undercover Cat"

I am delighted to report that Suki has had a good week.  She seems to be handling her medication well.  She is showing only a slight bit of hesitation now as she goes to jump up on something and her limp is barely noticeable.

Thankfully, she has retained her fondness for turkey with gravy.  In an effort to help Suki lose weight and following the vet's advice, I have stopped giving her any dry food at all.  This means, of course, that Suki is very hungry now as we approach her meal times. Hopefully, by the next vet visit, her weight will be down by a pound.  [BTW, in case you have forgotten, Suki needs to lose a bit of weight so that there will be less strain on her ruptured cruciate ligament.] Of course, occasionally I still give her a couple of those little cat treats she loves so much, but I try to do this only once or twice a week and I limit her to just a couple each time.

Otherwise, this has been a reasonably quiet week for both Suki and for me. I did have one medical appointment, but that was an easy, follow-up-type appointment.  Apart from that there was just my usual weekly visit with dear Sharon as well as the regularly scheduled time with the irreplaceable Joycelyn!

As you may recall me mentioning, today, the 24 of July, is the day of my visit with "my boys".  So, I am actually writing this text on Saturday, but I won't be posting it until tomorrow morning just before I leave for early brunch at the home my boys share with their parents.

Here are a couple of recent photos of these two amazingly, wonderful children.  Judging from the photos, I would think that older brother, Braden, is "reading" one of his books to his little brother, Rònàn. After listening for a few moments, little brother decides he has had enough and strikes a pose which shows exactly what he thinks of this particular story!

Braden reads a story to his little brother

Little brother decides to graphically express his opinion of the story being read!

Next Sunday, I can tell you all about my visit -- and maybe, if the boys will stay still long enough, there will even be some photos!



"Icon -- Our Father...", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, rev. 2016

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples." He said to them, "When you pray, say: Our Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us and do not subject us to the final test."

"And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?"  

Luke 11:1-4, 9-13

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Eremurus stenophyllus -- Foxtail Lilies

"Eremurus stenophyllus -- Foxtail Lilies", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

"Kniphofia uvaria -- Torch Lilies",
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer,
Back in June of 2013, I posted a drawing of Kniphofia uvaria (see left), and even though they are not part of the Lily Family, they are commonly known as Torch Lilies. Today's featured drawing, Eremurus stenophyllus, commonly known as Foxtail Lilies, is, in fact, a member of the Lily Family.  

Although these two plants are barely even distant cousins, they both have something in common other than being called "lilies" -- with both, the "flower-head" is composed of many, many tiny "flowerets".  While I find these types of plants attractive and appealing, all those little flowers and buds require a lot of work -- not only drawing them but also the "building-up" of the whole "flower-head" part of the plant. 

By the time I finish, I have created a huge file which slowly becomes more and  more cumbersome to work with.  I know I need the type of Mac that runs software built to handle large art files, but somehow I never seem to get up the nerve to try to transfer all my art work from Windows to a Mac!

Anyway, enough complaining... let me tell you instead a bit about this fascinating plant from the genus, Eremurus.

Eremurus (family, Liliaceae) is a genus of deciduous perennial flowers, also known as foxtail lilies or desert candles. They are native to eastern Europe (Russia and the Ukraine) and temperate Asia in an area stretching from Turkey, north to Siberia and then eastwards to China. 

The many, small flowers produced crowd together on the long stalk in such a way that Eremurus actually looks similar to a group of bottle-brushes waiting to be used. 

The flowers of Eremurus stenophyllus (the drawing featured in today’s posting) are coppery to bright yellow in colour; however, the flowers of the many other varieties of Eremurus range in colour from white to pink to orange or any combination of those colours. 
The leaves grow in tufts of thin, green, strap-like strips. 

The various species of Eremurus are known for their thick roots which grow out from a central hub as well as for their height -- sometimes rising up to 10 feet over the foliage. 

The genus name, Eremurus, is taken from the Greek and means “single tail”. The species name, stenophyllus, is also taken from the Greek and means “narrow leaves”.

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


Suki sits and stares at me!
You may recall my posting of July 3, 2016, wherein I recounted how Suki was commandeering my recliner first thing in the morning just as I was ready to sit in it, sipping my coffee while watching the news.  I made a statement in that posting which read: "I have informed Suki that this is one battle she cannot win."  Perhaps I should not have put it quite so forcibly -- anyway, let me tell you how things have progressed since then.

After pushing Suki out of my chair morning after morning for about a week, she decided that it made sense for her to get into her other favourite chair instead of trying to begin her after-breakfast nap in my recliner. The first morning this happened, I congratulated myself on having achieved a great victory in this ongoing battle between what I want and what Suki wants. However, I soon learned that this was such a Pyrrhic victory that it was really no victory at all. Let me explain by describing the sequence of events of my normal morning these days.

I am awakened at exactly 6 a.m. by Suki rattling the blinds.  Once up, I am "shephered" towards the kitchen by this feline where I sleepily prepare her food.  Once I have served her breakfast, I am free to take care of my own morning ablutions.  

After eating my breakfast, I pour myself a cup of coffee and head for my recliner which, thankfully, these days, is empty of any cats! I sit myself down, turn on the news and settle back in the chair with my coffee cup within easy reach on the end table. This all sounds perfectly lovely, doesn't it?  However, just wait...   

After about 25 minutes, my peaceful morning routine is interrupted by the sound of a cat meowing as she jumps out of the chair nearby where she had appeared to be sleeping soundly.  In fact, she has simply been waiting.... waiting for what she considers to be sufficient time to pass before she claims her absolute right to take her morning nap in my recliner.

I, of course, have no intention of giving up my chair quite yet which is what I tell Suki in my best schoolmarm's voice.  She ignores me and continues to sit in my line of sight and simply stare. So, at this point, I can't watch TV without seeing Suki staring at me.  So, I force myself to try my best to ignore her which, as you can imagine, is almost impossible.  

When I still haven't moved after about 10 minutes, Suki ramps up her campaign by going behind the recliner and using it as a scratching post. Although this is a major infraction of the rules, which all my yelling does nothing to stop, Suki knows I can't reach her without actually getting out of the chair.  

Finally, I give up and get up ... by now I have missed half my morning news show and my remaining coffee is cold.  As soon as Suki hears me begin the process of getting myself out of the recliner, she stops her naughtiness, sneaks past me and quickly jumps up onto the seat cushion the instant it is free.  She quickly settles down to sleep and, I swear, it almost looks as though she is smiling!  When will I learn that the cat always wins?

As for me, I continue to be about the same as usual.  I only have one medical appointment scheduled for the coming week and it will be an easy one.  Otherwise, I expect that, once again, this will be another fairly quiet week for me.  

I do have a big event occurring next Sunday -- I will be visiting "my boys" and their parents.  Since I have to leave here fairly early, I will try to finish my blog posting on Saturday and attempt to set the scheduling timer on Google so that the posting will actually be published on Sunday.  I hope it works!  



"Icon -- 'Mary has chosen the better part' ", by the hand of
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, rev. 2016

Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”  Luke 10:38-42

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Sarracenia chelsoni -- Pitcher Plant

"Sarracenia x chelsoni -- Trumpet Pitcher Plant", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Today's featured drawing is another one of those carnivorous, "bug-eating" trumpet pitcher plants.  While these plants do not fit the ideals most of us hold for defining something as beautiful, they are fascinating nonetheless. These are plants with an obvious task -- too help control the bug population -- the same bug population that causes mankind so much distress and suffering whenever it gets out of control.  Thus, this plant is just one more reminder of how interdependent all the components of this planet -- including us -- were meant to be. Yet, we continue to casually destroy the wetlands and grassy plains -- the home of the trumpet plants -- in order to put up industrial parks and parking lots.  Then, when summer arrives with its huge populations of attacking bugs, we bring out the poison spray!  In my opinion, we should have kept the wetlands and allowed the trumpet pitcher plants -- along with the bug-eating birds and larvae-eating snakes -- to help manage the problem naturally... no poison involved.

I will now get off my soapbox and tell you about Sarracenia

Sarracenia x chelsonii, family Sarraceniacee, is a hybrid developed as a result of crossing Sarracenia rubra with Sarracenia purpurea – at least this appears to be the case from my research. 

It is an elegant plant with a wine-red color which it probably inherited from Sarracenia purpurea (see below).

"Sarracenia purpurea"

The genus, Sarracenia, was named for Dr. Michel Sarrazin, 18th century physician and botanist in Quebec, Canada. As for the name of the cultivar, chelsonii, I have, thus far, been unable to determine exactly who this “Chelson” person might be. 

Sarracenia is a genus comprising 8 to 11 species of North American pitcher plants, commonly called trumpet pitchers. These are carnivorous plants indigenous to the eastern seaboard of the United States, Texas, the Great Lakes area and southeastern Canada, with most species occurring only in the southeastern United States. The plant's leaves have evolved into a funnel or pitcher shape in order to trap insects. Sarracenia tend to inhabit permanently wet fens, swamps, and grassy plains.

Once again, I would remind any reader who is eligible to vote in the local elections in the U.S. states of Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina to please consider helping those who are trying to protect, through state legislation, the land these plants inhabit. This protection needs to include not only public land but privately held land as well. I know that trying to tell a landowner what he can and can’t do on his land goes against the whole American ethos, but, remember, if we don’t start protecting all aspects of the interdependent functioning of our planet, we will end up with a world so broken that, like Humpty-Dumpty, it can never be put together again.

Portions of the information given here were taken from various Internet sources.


Recently, "my boys" went to Cuba for a holiday with their parents and grandparents.  According to the reports I have gotten from their parents, both boys had a great time.  Ro, who was seeing the ocean for the first time, seemed to be particularly delighted by the surf.

Following are a few photos I chose from the many that their mom shared with me upon their return.  While there are a number of pictures I plan to share in the future, today, however, I just wanted to give you a sense of their trip -- showing you a bit of how "my boys" seemed to deal with the whole holiday experience.

The boys check out the hotel lobby after arriving in Cuba with
their parents and grandparents in tow.

The boys discover all sorts of interesting things on the hotel grounds, including this
vehicle.  Braden very kindly offers to take his little brother for a ride!

Next morning, the boys take a good look at the ocean -- and from the expressions on their
faces, I would say that they are not too sure about all that sand, water and waves!

Braden is the first to get into the surf .... and he looks as though he is enjoying it ...

... however, his little brother is close behind!
You can easily see that he is very pleased with this watery experience!

After having a consultation, both brothers agree:  "This is going to be a great vacation!"  
(and according to all the reports I have had thus far, it was a very good holiday, indeed.)



Anyone who regularly reads my postings
about Suki should be able to tell me instantly
what is happening in this photo!
You're correct ... this is indeed a photo (taken
by my friend, Amra) of Suki waiting to be fed. 
Suki and I had a visitor this past week -- my friend, Amra. She is not only my friend but she is a friend of Suki's as well. She even brought a gift for Suki: four cans of her favourite food (turkey with gravy).  Suki was very pleased to see her. After all, the way to Suki's heart is definitely through her stomach!

Did I tell you that I have had to lower the dosage of Suki's medication? Soon after she begin getting a large daily dose of the pain medication just prior to her noon meal, Suki seemed to be unable to keep her food down. After several days of experiencing this problem, I contacted the vet. She suggested that I try cutting the dose of medication in half. I did so and immediately Suki stopped vomiting after her noon meal. 

Since then, there have been no new occurrences of this problem and, as best as I can tell, Suki doesn't seem to be in any additional pain or discomfort. I plan to watch her carefully, however, as we all know how hard cats work at concealing any disabilities they have -- a leftover from the days when predators were always watching for any animal showing signs of weakness as they knew they would be easy prey.

As well as having a guest this past week, I also had a medical appointment.  Nothing serious, just the usual follow-up with a specialist.

This coming week, I only have one medical visit scheduled; otherwise, the coming days should be fairly quiet ones.



"Icon -- The Good Samaritan", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, rev. 2016

There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said, "Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus said to him, "What is written in the law? How do you read it?" He said in reply, "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself." He replied to him, "You have answered correctly; do this and you will live." But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbour?"  Jesus replied....  
"A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn, and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, 'Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.' Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbour to the robbers' victim?"
He answered, "The one who treated him with mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."  Luke 10:25-37