Halloween pompoms

🐇🐇🐇 From a visit to Palo Alto’s Gamble Garden on Saturday morning with Kim Darnell and their sister Diana, a plant apparently designed for Halloween: Kleinia cephalophora ‘Orange Flame’:

(#1) A plant for this season (photo by K. Darnell); its many flower heads are orange-red globes, and it blooms late in the season (October), making it an appropriate Halloween plant

About the plantKleinia cephalophora (Greek-derived cephalophorus ‘head-bearing’, referring to the flowers), aka Senecio cephalophorus, variety ‘Orange Flame’ (also ‘Mountain Fire’ and ‘Blazin’ Glory’): a tender perennial, native to South Africa. It’s grown as a house plant in colder climates (and as a garden plant in Mediterranean climates, like the one I’m in). It has blue-green succulent leaves, with many orange-red flower heads that look like pompoms.

From Wikipedia on the genus:

Kleinia is a genus of African flowering plants in the sunflower [Asteraceae / Compositae] family. Kleinia contains around 50 species and is distributed from the Canary Islands, throughout Tropical Africa to India and Arabia. It is closely related to the genus Senecio but is distinguished primarily by having succulent stems and/or leaves.

[The genus name] Kleinia commemorates Dr Jacob Theodor Klein, a German botanist.

Pumpkin-orange flowers. For the season. There are a huge number of flowers that naturally come in suitable shades, or have cultivated variants in the right range, so that you can get Halloween-colored flowers of many types. Here are four more, all from one (very large) plant family, the composites or Asteraceae (known commonly as the daisy, aster, or sunflower family).

(#2) marigolds (Tagetes)

(#3) gerberas

(#4) heleniums

(#5) gazanias

Notes on my life. The last time I was able to visit the Gamble Garden, the cherry blossoms were falling (see my 4/4/21 posting “White petals”). The time before that was (I see by rooting through notes) August 2019, 27 months ago, oh my. It’s been a long, extremely lonely time, filled with a series of medical unpleasantnesses, some annoying, some deeply alarming (many of which I haven’t posted about, because posting just encourages friends to give me well-meant advice that’s almost impossible to cope with, in part because it’s incredibly rude to just not respond to genuine concern from a friend).

In any case, it was almost absurdly pleasant to be back in the garden, even though about half of it isn’t currently functioning because of the pandemic. Especially nice to have Diana with us, because she’d never been there and was unfamiliar with many of the things Kim and I took for granted — like the countless varieties of genus Salvia (sage) spread out through the garden, almost all of them in bloom at the moment. I trooped through the garden (using my excellent outdoor walker) for much longer than I’d expected to, but without completely exhausting myself — so that we were able to go on to having brunch with EDZ (my daughter Elizabeth) at the Peninsula Creamery (huevos rancheros con carnitas for me, yum). Then of course I was pretty much zonked for the day.

I’m now hoping that this can be the beginning of another period of opening up, another period in which I venture cautiously out (maybe not going into stores; I haven’t been inside a store of any kind since early in 2020), to have some meals in local restaurants, among people; and to have friends in to visit, and talk with. All of which happened in my previous period of opening up (which I’ll call COVID3), extending from early in April through July 2021.

So far,  the period COVID4 includes (among other things) these events, in order (warning: please take to heart my comment on well-intended advice above):

— August and September 2021 in isolation, in fear of the world because of (a) the spread of the COVID Delta variant and (b) the crazies who’ve refused to get vaccinated.

— Meanwhile, my thyroid levels dropped quite a lot — I’ve suffered from hypothyroidism since my teenage years, and the medication levels have to be adjusted fairly frequently — with attendant constant sleepiness and an alarming drop in my pulse rate (sometimes below 40 beats for days), making me uncertain on my feet and foggy of mind. My difficulties in thinking were absolutely terrifying; I’m not afraid of dying (that’s going to happen), but I am scared witless of sliding into dementia, having had only too much experience of it from the other side.

My levothyroxin prescription was jacked up, but it takes a very long time to kick in, so I’m just now getting the full effects of that. As of about two weeks ago, things were back to what feels sort of like normal. Blood tests again on 12/2.

— Meanwhile meanwhile, I developed two trigger fingers on my left –my good — hand, and the osteoarthritis in both hands zoomed up several notches, to the point where I was barely able to use my hands. Invested in various assistive devices, just gave up doing a lot of stuff, took a lot of Tylenol, and on 8/12 got prednisone shots in my left hand. The prednisone is very slow-acting, but within a couple of weeks the joints began to unfreeze and become less painful.

By now I’m back to previous levels of pain and disability — far from a picnic, but at least it’s all familiar.

— COVID booster shot (Pfizer #3) on 10/9. Went pretty smoothly, thanks probably to the prednisone injections. Sort of entertainingly, the next day, two knuckle joints started to swell and redden and get hot — and then subsided, completely, two hours later. And that was it for my joints. I did sleep most of a day away.

— flu shot on 10/16. Just like always, a bit of a sore shoulder and nothing else. But the event is probably significant, as I’ll point out below.

— breakfast with EDZ at the Creamery on Sunday 10/17. And then that night both Kim and I came down with a truly rotten cold that’s been going around. It’s now down to residual (but annoying) stuff, and we’re hoping we’re no longer contagious (colds being highly transmissible).

Since Kim and I came down with it simultaneously, and we’d both been very careful about our interactions with other people, the most likely site of infection was the line we stood in. for maybe 20 minutes, at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation for me to get my flu shot. (Second most likely, the COVID booster shot, but that was a week before.)

And that brings me up to yesterday’s outing.

The period COVID3. Four months, from early April though July 2021. The set-up was the first shot of the Pfizer vaccine (on 2/25), the second shot (on 3/19), and two weeks of waiting, until 4/2.

— Then there were cautious ventures on my part out to the Creamery, to the local Caribbean restaurant Coconuts, the New Orleans restaurant NOLA, the Greek restaurant Taverna, Tacolicious, and Tai Pan.

— EDZ and my grandchild Opal and I had breakfasts at the Creamery most Saturdays in June and July (Opal’s now off at college in Pittsburgh).

— Max Vasilatos came down from San Francisco for lunch on 6/4; Anneli Meyer Korn turned up for dinner on 6/28; then Paul Kiparsky for brunch on 7/19 (the only time I’ve seen a Stanford colleague face-to-face in years); and Max again for lunch on 7/29.

— So four months of getting out of the house at least every few days, seeing people (not just Kim, the birds on my patio, and the squirrels), talking with them, eating someplace besides at my worktable. And then Delta COVID and the unvaccinated drove me back into isolation.

The two preceding periods, very briefly …

The period COVID2. The days of alcohol poisoning, withdrawal syndrome, treatment, and (partial) recovery: mid-November 2000 through April 2001. It started in early November when I realized I was drinking way, way too much and decided to stop cold. Which I did, setting off alcohol withdrawal syndrome and unmasking the effects of alcohol poisoning.

The landmarks of the early days:

— to the Stanford Emergency Room on Thursday 11/12

— to a rehab center in Palo Alto on Tuesday 11/17, where I learned to walk again (though with a walker or cane) and much else; some of it is gone forever, but I persevere.

— back home on Saturday 12/5, where I set out learning how to use a computer again and much else; there are postings from this time.

You will note that I’m about to earn my 1-year badge (well, figuratively; there isn’t any program and there aren’t any badges). Also that I got some real work done in this period, despite it all.

The period COVID1. From early March (when things came to a halt) through mid-November 2000 (when things fell apart for me). I think I’ll just let this stand for now.

And now it’s the Day of the Dead. I should be preparing celebratory offerings to those who have died, but especially Ann and Jacques.

Maybe something with pesto in it; this is the time of year when in Columbus we’d harvest wheelbarrows full of basil to make into a freezer full of pesto to tide us through the winter. We’d all smell of basil, with a hint of garlic. That was nice.

And if we were lucky, some pumpkin-orange chrysanthemums — another composite! — would still be blooming.

One Response to “Halloween pompoms”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    On Facebook:

    Tim Evanson: Some years ago, I saw an image of a well-endowed young man who had painted his testes to look like jack-o-lanterns. Talk about your Halloween pom-poms!

    That I would love to see.

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