Sunday, 12 November 2017

Enkianthus, Magnolia and One Revision

"Enkianthus campanulatus - Redvein Enkianthus", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017

Enkianthus campanulatus, commonly called Redvein Enkianthus, is an upright, deciduous shrub which typically grows 6-8’ tall. It is native to open woodlands in Japan. 

Small, bell-shaped, nodding, creamy-yellow to whitish-pink flowers with pink striping and edging appear in pendulous clusters in late spring. Individual flowers resemble those of the genus, Pieris, another plant native to Asia. 

Medium-green leaves are crowded near the branch ends. Fall color is variable, but, at its best, features striking red foliage with tones of orange, yellow and purple. The genus name, Enkianthus, comes from the Greek words enkyos meaning pregnant and anthos meaning flower in reference to the rounded base of each flower. The species name, campanulatus, comes from a Latin word meaning bell-shaped. 

There are a number of cultivars of Enkianthus campanulatus. ‘Red Bells’ is probably the best known of these.

"Magnolia macrophylla -- Big-leaf Magnolia", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017

Magnolia macrophylla, commonly called Big-leaf Magnolia, is noted for its huge leaves (up to 30 inches long) which are the largest simple leaves of any tree indigenous to North America. Leaves are green above and silvery-gray below. It is a member of the family Magnoliaceae

In the southeastern United States, especially Alabama and surrounding areas, Magnolia macrophylla is sometimes called the "cowcumber magnolia," in contrast with the much smaller-leaved, cucumber-tree magnolia, Magnolia acuminata

This unusual tree is rarely found in the wild, being limited mainly to a few rich, wooded areas in river valleys and ravines in the southeastern United States. It is a pyramidal tree that develops a spreading rounded crown with age, typically growing 30-40’ tall. 

Fragrant, large, cup-shaped flowers, 8-10” wide, bloom in May/June. Flowers are white with a hint of rose-purple at the petal bases. Although quite large, the flowers are often located so far off the ground that they are not always easy to see close up. Flowers give way to spherical cone-like fruits which are red in colour at maturity. 

The genus name, Magnolia, honors Pierre Magnol, French botanist (1638-1715). The specific name, macrophylla, is from the Greek words macro meaning "large" and phyllon meaning "very large leaf".

"Lotus maculatus -- Parrot's Beak", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, rev. 2017

Blog posting of 21 July 2010 (revised): 

Lotus maculatus, known as Parrot's Beak in English or Pico de Paloma in Spanish, is a beautiful wildflower native to Tenerife. It gets its common name from the flower petals that are curved upward and resemble a parrot's beak. Lotus maculatus is almost extinct in the wild but is still surviving in gardens and parks. 

The genus name of Lotus is taken from the Latin, lôtus (from the Greek λωτός) and means “bathed” or “washed”. The specific name of maculatus comes from the Latin and means “spotted” or “stained”. 

These lovely flowers have great difficulty producing seed pods. “It has been suggested in Wikipedia that the endangered species of Parrot's Beak were pollinated by bird species that have themselves died out, although other sources say this is not true because there are birds such as the Chiff Chaff, which can pollinate the flowers.” Whatever the case may be, eventually, these plants may be entirely dependent on humans for their survival!

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


Suki watches to make certain that I am awake
and just about to get out of bed
You have no idea how much I dislike this time change business.  

I know it may benefit certain people (I am not sure who they are); however, it certainly makes life difficult for me.  Why?  Because of Suki, of course!

Suki does not understand "Spring forward and Fall back".  So, now, when the clock reads 4:30 a.m., Suki is still convinced that it is really 5:30 a.m.  This means it is time to start awakening me to ensure that she gets her food, promptly, at 5 a.m which Suki believes is really 6 a.m.  

Sadly, it will take a while (probably another week) before I will be able to get her retrained.  Meanwhile, I am now, too often, ending up being fully awake at 5 a.m. thanks to my "cat alarm clock"! 

However, other than losing about an hour's sleep each night, I am doing reasonably well.  While I am certainly not getting any better, I am, at least for the moment, stable.  In other words, for now, at least, I am not getting any worse.

As you no doubt are aware, yesterday was Remembrance Day (Veterans Day in the USA).  However, today, along with lots of other folks, I am still "remembering" from yesterday.  I salute all our veterans, living and deceased, with gratitude for their many sacrifices.

Thoughts about Remembrance Day reminded me of a drawing I did back in 2007 or 2008 -- back when our soldiers were still fighting in Afghanistan (see below).  I was inspired to make the drawing by a news photo -- a photo that showed that even in the violence of war, we humans can, often, exhibit kindness and gentleness.  

"A Moment of Kindness in the Midst of War", drawing by 
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2007, rev. 2017

By the time I post again, my American family and friends will have celebrated their Thanksgiving Day (23rd of November) and we will all be very much closer to the beginning of December -- a month full of special events (including my birthday!).

Until my next posting, I wish all of you much happiness and joy.



Sunday, 29 October 2017

"Lilies" -- 2 Repeats and 1 New

"Stypandra glauca - Nodding Blue Lily", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 rev.

[Many plants are called "lilies" even though they are not true lilies at all.  Usually, these plants have flowers which have that familiar lily shape and, so, folks just started called them lilies -- and it stuck.  The following 3 plants are perfect examples.]

Blog posting of 10 Feb 2013 (revised): 

Stypandra glauca (Nodding Blue Lily) is a member of the family Phormiaceae. It is native to Australia where its distribution is widespread from southeast Queensland through to the western part of the continent. The plant produces numerous lily-like flowers which are bright blue with yellow stamens. 

The genus name of Stypandra comes from the Greek words “stype” meaning flax-like fibres and “aner” man. This combination is in reference to the staminal filament hairs which are beard-like in appearance. The species name, glauca, comes from the Greek word “glaukos” referring to the sea-green colour of some of the foliage.

The Nodding Blue Lily is found on sandy or poor stony soils in woodland or open forest. This is one of those wild plants that appear in great quantity after a fire, preventing soil erosion and giving cover to the small creatures of the woodlands. It may be toxic to livestock if eaten when flowering.

"Zephyranthes sylvestris - Zephyr Lily", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 rev.

Blog posting of 17 Jan 2010 (revised) 

Zephyranthes sylvestris is a species of Rain Lily and is native to the Brazilian Nordestes* where it is popularly known as “Calango Onion”.  Zephyranthes sylvestris belongs to the family Amaryllidaceae – the same family to which all the well-known Amaryllis plants belong. I could only find a small amount of information on this attractive little flower -- possibly because it appears to be found in such a small geographic area. 

Z. sylvestris is a tiny plant. So, when you are looking at the drawing above, please try to be aware that these flowers are much smaller than I have drawn them. At its mature height, the plant is only 10 inches (25 cm). The diameter of the flower is only about 2 inches (5 cm). It likes warm temperatures and a semi-arid climate -- which it evidently has at its location in Brazil. 

The genus name, Zephyranthes, is derived from “Zephyrus”, the Greek god of the west wind, and “anthos”, meaning flower, because the flower is native to the Western hemisphere. The specific name, sylvestris is taken from the Latin “sylvestri” meaning ‘of the woods, wild’.

"Zephyranthes candida - Fairy Lily", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017

Zephyranthes candida, commonly known as Fairy Lily, is a species of rain lily native to South America including Peru, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Brazil. Its family is Amaryllidaceae. The species is widely cultivated as an ornamental and, apparently, is now naturalized in many parts of the world. In the wild, plants often burst into bloom immediately following periods of significant rain, hence its most common name of Rain Lily. 

The flowers, which bud late in August (in the Northern Hemisphere) at first resemble a new leaf, but emerge from their papery sheaves to a stunning whiteness. Leaves are a deep glossy green. They grow best in full sun to part shade and require a medium-wet soil. 

Zephyranthes candida was first described by John Lindley in 1823 as Amaryllis candida. It was transferred to its current genus in 1826 by William Herbert. The genus name, Zephyranthes, comes from the Greek words “Zephyrus”, the Greek god of the west wind, and “anthos”, meaning flower, because the plant is native to the Western hemisphere. The specific name, candida, is taken from the Latin and means purest white.

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


I had a wonderful visit with the boys and their parents two weeks ago.  Their maternal grandmother was also visiting and it was delightful to see her again as well.

Things were so busy while I was there that everyone forgot about taking pictures.  The boys' mother and grandmother served a delicious brunch.  Then, since it was an unseasonably warm day, we spent a lot of time sitting outside watching the boys playing together,  The time passed all too quickly.  Hopefully, I will be able to visit again in December.

Happy Halloween everyone!

I think the boys might be just a bit frustrated that they actually have to wait until Halloween
to get all those treats they've been hearing about!

Braden in his Halloween outfit.
(I find him just a bit frightening with that "Star Wars Storm Trooper" 
mask covering his face!).

Ro is also ready for Halloween (and a lot less frightening
than his older brother!).


Happy Birthday!

The brothers are ready to celebrate an October birthday



"Suki and Ornithogalum dubium", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017

I think Suki is ready for Halloween although I am not certain about what she thinks is involved in the big day.  Lately, she has been opening the door to the broom closet and then making her way through the various mops until she comes to the only broom in the closet.  At which point, she sits down in front of the broom, looks at me and then meows expectantly a few times.  
Suki's Fantasy

I am wondering if maybe Suki has been watching too many children's cartoons about witches and broomsticks. If so, then she is in for a big surprise -- although I may be a bit of a "witch" at times, I definitely don't know how to ride a broomstick!

Actually, the truth of the matter is that Suki has discovered that there is an unopened bag of her formerly favourite crunchies in the back of that closet and the broom is sitting just in front of the bag.  So, the meows are nothing magical. They are, in fact, just another plea from Suki asking me to stop this current healthy diet she is on and get back to the "good stuff" -- all that yummy stuff she was allowed to eat before she developed her current illness.  Dream on, little kitty, dream on!

Otherwise, Suki still seems to be doing reasonably well and her current diet, underappreciated as it may be by her, appears to be continuing to be effectively keeping the hypercalcemia in check.

As for me, I have had good news from Joycelyn -- thus far all her test results have come back negative.  There is still one remaining result she is waiting for so let's hope that it will be negative as well. 

My own issues still appear to be manageable although I now find it more difficult to perform any tasks that require me to stand for more than a few minutes.  Interestingly, I can walk for longer than I can stand.  Thankfully, having the walker with me at all times means that I can sit down whenever the pain of standing becomes unbearable.

I had a very quiet time this past week with my only visitors being Joycelyn and Sharon.  I do have a doctor's appointment this coming week, but it should be just a quick visit. I only need to get a flu shot and to follow up on a few things with the doctor. Hopefully, these next two weeks should be reasonably quiet for Suki and me.

By the time I post again, we will be well into the month of November. Three important events will have occurred: Halloween; All Saints Day; and Remembrance Day (Veterans Day in the USA). I'm uncertain which of these events are part of the lives of those who will read this blog posting; however, I wish all of you much happiness and joy whatever you may be celebrating.

Peace be with you.   


Sunday, 15 October 2017

Purple/Pink Repeats

"Mirabilis nyctaginea - Four O'Clocks (Wild)", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 rev.

Blog posting of 20 July 2009 (revised):

These wildflowers are one variety of Four O'Clocks -- so called because that is the time of day when they usually start to bloom. Sort of the opposite of morning glories -- a flower I will be discussing later in this posting! 

The proper name for this plant is Mirabilis nyctaginea. Mirabilis means "wonderful" in Latin; while nyctaginea is derived from the Greek and means "night-blooming”. The plant blooms each evening (night) and has a wonderful fragrance. 

While Four O'Clocks are lovely to look at and have a fragrant odour, they also have little black seeds that look like peppercorns and are extremely poisonous.  So, if you find this plant growing in the wild, treat it gently!

One of the more interesting things about this drawing for me is that the photograph, which I used as my "model", was taken just outside of Las Cruces, New Mexico -- a place very dear to my heart. If you know that area of the States at all, you know how unexpected it would be to come upon such lovely, sweet-smelling flowers as wild Four O'Clocks.

"Dodecatheon meadia -- Shooting Stars", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 rev.

Blog posting 17 February 2013 (revised):

Dodecatheon meadia is a species of flowering plant in the family Primulaceae. It is native to an area of mid-North America stretching from the Province of Manitoba down through the American mid-west and south. It grows in woods and prairies and tolerates partial shade. 

Dodecatheon meadia is generally known as the Common Shooting Star, though this name may also be used to refer to other species. This Shooting Star, as well as other varieties, was used medicinally by the Indigenous peoples living in this area of North America. An infusion of the roots was used as a wash for sore eyes. A cooled infusion of leaves was used for eye drops. An infusion of leaves was gargled, especially by children, for cankers. 

The genus name Dodecatheon is derived from the Greek dodeka meaning "twelve" and theoi meaning "gods" -- the twelve gods. The specific name of meadia is in honour of Dr. Richard Mead, 18th century English physician. 

This is one of the most beautiful spring wildflowers on the prairies -- much more beautiful than my drawing would indicate. One of the nature writers has said: "A colony of these plants in bloom is a sight not to be missed." I would like to try drawing these flowers again to see if I can capture a bit more of the elegance! 

Any of you who have more than a nodding acquaintance with wildflowers may notice that the flowers of Dodecatheon meadia resemble, in form, those of the Nightshade family. A commentator says: "This is an example of convergent evolution between plants of different families because of the similarities in the method of pollination."

"Ipomoea purpurea - Morning Glory", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 rev.

I was unable to find the previous blog posting for this image.  The original drawing of Ipomoea purpurea was done back in 2007 or 2008, I believe, and some of those early columns were accidentally deleted.  So, here is the information on this particular Morning Glory from my files.

Ipomoea purpurea is commonly known as the Purple Morning-glory or Common Morning-glory. Ipomoea is the largest genus in the flowering plant family, Convolvulaceae, with over 500 species. It is a large and diverse group with common names including morning-glory, water convolvulus, sweet potato, bindweed, moonflower, etc. 

Like all morning glories the plant entwines itself around structures, growing to a height of 2–3 metres. The leaves are medium-to-dark green and somewhat heart-shaped. The flowers are trumpet-shaped, predominantly purple or white. 

Ipomoea purpurea is native to Mexico and Central America, but it is naturalized throughout the temperate and subtropical regions of the world. Although it is often considered a noxious weed, Ipomoea purpurea is also grown for its beautiful purple or white flowers and has many cultivars. 

The genus name of Ipomoea comes from modern Latin and is derived from the Greek (ips ‘worm’ + homoios ‘like) meaning worm-like, referring to the coiled flower bud. The specific name of purpurea is Latin for the colour purple.

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


"Suki Staring"
(pencil sketch made from photo
taken by J. Gordon, 2017)
Well, this may be a very short column today as neither Suki nor Sallie have very much to report -- not even after two weeks of silence.

Thankfully, Suki continues to appear reasonably healthy and seems content to continue her diet therapy for the hypercalcemia. She will have to have further blood tests in December in order to determine how well this regimen is working so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, Suki continues to behave reasonably well (for a kitty cat, that is!).  I am very grateful that this is the case as I have been too unwell to clean up any extra messes or search for new foods to tempt her finicky appetite. In fact, she seems to know that I am in a lot of pain most of the time as she no longer jumps up onto my lap.  Instead, every so often, she comes up to the side of the recliner so that I am able to easily scratch her head and ears until my fingers begin to hurt too much and I have to stop.

I have seen the various doctors involved in my treatment and, while they are all very sympathetic, they really don't have much to offer me.  At this time, their suggestions include back surgery (something I do not intend to do), gentle physio (I'm waiting to see if I will be approved for physio in my home) or higher doses of my various pain medications.  

As for the various options that I referred to in my posting of 1 October 2017, I am still considering some of those choices for my future living arrangements.  However, there are several "pieces of the puzzle" which are still missing at this time, such as the state of Joycelyn's health.  She is having to have a number of medical investigations at the moment and until she gets the results, I really am uncertain as to how much longer she will be able to care for me.  Hopefully, she will be fine and her companionship and caregiving skills can continue for the foreseeable future.  If not...

Presently, my evenings and nights are now sometimes so pain filled that I think the only solution is to get my doctors to put me into a medically-induced coma (if only they would!).  Then the morning comes again and, for a few hours, the pain is bearable and I feel that just maybe I can continue living on my own with Suki for company and Joycelyn for companionship and caregiving.  We will just have to wait and see how things unfold.

In spite of the pain, I do have plans to visit my favourite young lads today (this explains why I am posting this so early).  A dear friend has offered to drive me to their home and back. This will be far less costly than a taxi and much more comfortable with my various pillows for support and the freedom to adjust the seat however it best suits my back and legs. 

Hopefully, when I post again two weeks from now, I will have some new photos of the boys (and me) to show you.  It really depends on just how rambunctious Braden and Ro are feeling while I am visiting.  If they need more supervision than usual because they are trying to outdo each other in showing off for me, then the parents might not have time to think about taking photos!

During the two weeks between now and my next posting, I hope that your lives will be filled with all those things that bring you true happiness and joy.  And, as always, I wish you peace.


Sunday, 1 October 2017

Wildflower Repeats

"Anemone nemorosa - Wood anemone", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 rev.

From my blog posting dated 10 June 2010 (seriously revised): 

The proper name of this plant is Anemone nemorosa of the Family, Ranunculaceae. It flowers early in the spring and, while it can be found in many gardens throughout North America, it is actually native to Europe. There is a similar plant, Anemone quinquefolia, which is native to North American, but it normally has only 5 “petals” instead of six. 

As with all Anemones, A. nemorosa has no true petals. What appear to be petals are really sepals which have assumed the colouring and characteristics of petals. These sepals are normally white in colour although, occasionally, the colouring is pale pink or blue. The dark, green leaves are divided into three segments and the flowers, produced on short stems, are held above the foliage with one flower per stem. Sadly, this gentle-looking plant is bitter to the taste as well as being poisonous.

In sunshine, the flower expands fully, but at the approach of night, it closes and droops its head so that dew may not settle on it and injure it. The same thing occurs when it rains. Country folk in the past used to say that the fairies were what actually caused the plant to close at night and in the rain as it gave the wee sprites a "tent" to keep them warm and dry. 

The genus name, Anemone, is taken from the Greek and means “wind”. The specific name, nemorosa, is derived from the Latin and means “of the woods” or “woodland”.

"Gomphocarpus physocarpus (Asclepias physocarpa) - Balloon Plant"
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 rev.

From my blog posting dated 6 March 2013 (revised): 

Gomphocarpus physocarpus is a species of milkweed. This plant, commonly known as the Balloon Plant, is native to southeast Africa. In 2001 its name was changed from Asclepias physocarpa to Gomphocarpus physocarpus to reflect that it is in the family of African milkweeds and not the North American variety. The name "balloon plant" is an allusion to the swelling, bladder-like seed pods. 

Gomphocarpus physocarpus is a perennial herb, that can grow to over six feet. The plant blooms in warm months. It grows on roadside banks, at elevations of 2800 to 5000 feet above sea level. The flowers are small, with white hoods and about 1 cm across. The leaves are light green, shaped like a lance and 3 to 4 inches long. 

Gomphocarpus physocarpus is widely used in traditional medicine in South Africa. The roots are used to treat stomach ache. Leaves are dried and ground into a powder that is taken as snuff for headaches. The milky latex is used to treat warts. Seeds are blown away from the pods as a charm to placate the ancestors. The stems are used for fibre. These treatments seem a bit risky, however, as this plant is poisonous if ingested. 

The genus name of Gomphocarpus is derived from the Greek gomphos meaning “a club” and karpos meaning “fruit”. The species epithet of physocarpus is derived from the Greek physa meaning “bladder” and karpos meaning “fruit”, referring to the inflated, bladder-like fruits.

"Mertensia virginica - Virginia Bluebells", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 rev.

From my blog posting dated 21 August 2009: 

The drawing above is of "Virginia Bluebells" a member of the Forget-Me-Not family.

The above text is all I had to say about this plant back in a 2009 posting.  However, I would now like to add a bit more information...

Mertensia virginica, commonly called Virginia bluebells, is a native North American wildflower. It occurs throughout the southern U.S. and much of southern Canada in moist, rich woods and river floodplains. 

M. virginia is an erect, clump-forming perennial which grows to between 1 - 2' in height and features loose, terminal clusters of pendulous, trumpet-shaped, sky-blue flowers which bloom in early spring. The flower-buds are pink and flowers emerge with a pinkish cast before turning blue. The leaves are smooth, oval and medium-green in colour. Foliage dies to the ground by mid-summer as the plant goes dormant. 

The genus name, mertensia, honours Franz Carl Mertens (1764-1831), professor of botany at Bremen University. The specific epithet, virginica, means “of Virginia”.

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


"Now what could Suki be thinking about?"
(photo by Jaleh G., 2017)

Suki and I have had several visitors during the past two weeks and one of them, my friend, Jaleh, took a lovely shot of Suki perched on the arm of the sofa.  It really looks as though she is contemplating something rather serious.  

Personally, I don't believe she was thinking about food as Suki had only had her lunch about an hour before the photo was taken.  As well, she had been getting lots of attention from both Jaleh and myself so she was unlikely to be thinking that she was neglected.  

No, Suki seems to be contemplating something much more serious -- like how to manage to catch one of those pigeons she sees from the window, always tormenting her by sitting out on the balcony railing just out of reach!

Anyway, Suki has once again been reasonably well-behaved during the 14 days since my last posting.  She continues to awaken me too early for my liking (6 a.m.) although, for some unknown reason, yesterday morning (Saturday) she let me sleep until 7.

Of course, her sleep, as well as mine, has been very disturbed over the past five days.  Let me explain...

About 4 a.m. on Tuesday morning, I was awakened by severe pain in my lower back on the left side and all down my left leg.  When I attempted to get up and see if that would ease the pain, I found, to my dismay, that my left leg was not only painful but was also weaker than normal.  Meanwhile, I continued to have these burning pains shooting down my leg from my back.  As a consequence, I have had to increase all my pain medications including those for neuropathic pain.  

During these past days, it has been impossible to get a full night's sleep.  While I find that I eventually fall asleep from sheer exhaustion, after a few hours, I am awakened by the pain which never seems to go away.  Even now, as I write this, I am having to try to ignore the pain which persists no matter whether I am sitting, standing or lying down.

As well, I now have to use my walker for every activity.  Prior to Monday, I could usually manage at home by holding onto various pieces of furniture and could even go short distances without holding onto anything.  Now, however, I find that I can barely walk even with the walker as the least little movement in the wrong direction causes such awful pain as well as leg weakness.  I fear this means a return to using a wheelchair and I do find that idea to be rather depressing.

I did see a couple of my doctors during the past week (these were appointments that had been scheduled some time previously) and, although they both checked on my back and leg, they could offer nothing in the way of a "quick fix".  Each doctor said that this latest difficulty is most likely just the continuing progression of the disease I have in my spinal cord.  I have always been told that the prognosis for this disease is gradual worsening, with or without treatment, and this certainly seems to be the case.

So, as you can imagine, I am not at all certain what the future holds in store for me.  It is so difficult now to perform even the simplest tasks which leaves me wondering how much longer I can manage with Joycelyn just coming in three days a week.  In fact, I am uncertain as to whether I will be able to continue my computer drawing or even this blog for very much longer as even sitting in my special computer chair is painful.  I am also having to seriously think about whether it is time for me to consider the possibility of moving into some sort of full-care facility or, perhaps, taking some other action.

Meanwhile, I hope to be able to post again in two week's time.  If , for any reason, that is not going to happen, then I will certain post a note here to that effect.  Whatever the decision, I will not leave without saying goodbye.

On a happier note, we are celebrating Thanksgiving Day here in Canada on Monday, October 9th.  So "Happy Thanksgiving" to all my fellow Canadians.  

To all those who read this blog posting, I wish loads of happiness and joy for you and your dear ones in the days ahead.

Peace be with you all.

"Autumn's End", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2017 rev.


Sunday, 17 September 2017

White Liliaceae Repeats

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

From Blog posting 24 Jan 2013 (revised): 

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

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

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

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

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

From blog of 18 June 2010 (revised): 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blog posting 3 Feb 2013 (revised): 

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

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

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

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


Celebrating the End of Summer

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

Big brother in policeman's cap

Little brother in policeman's cap

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suki settles down for her afternoon nap!


Sunday, 3 September 2017

Orange and Blue Repeats

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

From my blog posting of 5 June 2016:

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

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

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

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

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

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

From my blog posting of 5 July 2010:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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