Tag Archives: Monarch butterflies

Along Came Funny Bones

Most of us like to post our best possible work, but, sometimes, our best possible work is not all that flash.

Such is the case with my latest video. The camera work is poor, the editing is  poorer, the captions are poorly synchronized,  and so on and so forth…..

Should I subject you to it?  Probably not, but even the poorest of efforts has some merit. Surely?

You may watch (or not) and decide for yourselves.

For me, there is merit in the slow-ish progression of the video, which gives one time to move through weariness and respite to  jaunty, dog-eared joy. There is merit in learning new skills, such as caption writing. And there is merit in finding my public voice again.

But the greatest merit of all is the mirth that came to me from the video,

because it reminded me

of how slowly I talk ,

and of another slow-talking character called Jones,

Slow-walkin’ Jones, Slow-talkin’ Jones, immortalized/mythologized  in song http://www.oldielyrics.com/lyrics/the_coasters/along_came_jones.html and in  Cary Cooper’s film,  Along Came Jones.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAweLY10lUo

I started out bone weary. I finished with seriously tickled funny bones. The best possible outcome, I reckon, from my less than perfect but best possible effort.

ps I am not tall and thin, nor lean and lanky; I am more teapot, short and stout.

pps The monarch butterflies and their offspring have joined the cicadas in the garden  since I made the video.

© silkannthreades

Is it Mess?

Right about now, over at the home of  Muse-ings , vsperry will be orchestrating order in an area of her garden which she describes as “A Fine Mess”. I would simply leave out the word “Mess” and call it “Fine”, or, as in the case of my own garden, refer to the “Mess” as  ” Channelling one’s inner  “Piet Oudolf” (with apologies to Piet 😉 ).

For the greater part of the summer and fall, this wilderness of mostly self-sown plantings was the scene from my bedroom window.

Wilderness plantings

Wilderness plantings

It was a sight that gave me much pleasure, for all the weeds, entangled foliage and seeming disorder.

Unruly pleasure

Disorder?

The garden bed was not carefully planned like one of Piet Oudolf’s masterpieces (OBVIOUSLY), but I did have a plan of sorts, which was to let the garden follow its own course and,

Unruly or following its own rules?

Following their own rules?  Lightly organised chaos?

thus, provide a dense and closely woven safe haven for the monarch caterpillars, and a well-stocked larder for the bees and their larger selves,  the humblebees.

A haven for a caterpillar?

A haven for a caterpillar?

My plan was a success buzz vis-a-vis buzz the bees, but a failure as far as the monarchs were concerned.  Not one of the many caterpillars made it to butterfly status. That was a disappointment, after my successful monarch season last year, where I helped raise at least twenty monarch butterflies. I don’t know what went wrong this time; perhaps we had too much rain; too little sun? Or, as  Russel Ray pointed out to me, my wilderness garden may have provided a haven for the social wasp, arch-enemy of the monarch.

So, with winter approaching and no longer any chance of monarchs, I embarked on a clean up of the little plot.  It now looks like this. Clean and tidy….and dull.  Not a “Mess” but also not “Fine”. Not yet, anyway. There’s good manure in the soil, and worms, and caterpillar plus bee frass,

so, in a few months, it may provide solace for my senses once again. And, later, much later, the monarchs may be tempted to return. I hope so. I know the bees will come.

Virginia, how is your clean up going? There is no danger that your garden will succumb to DULL. 🙂 It will be clean, tidy and finer than ever.

© silkannthreades

Praise Be

The  swan plant I ordered to replenish my monarch caterpillars’ food supply came yesterday, just in the nick of time. It has been planted,

Praise be for more food

Praise be for more food

and my remaining caterpillars are now busily chomping on their fresh greens. Hopefully, the caterpillars will  have enough food to take them through their fifth  instar and into their chrysalis stage.  Most of them look big enough to be close to their final and complete metamorphosis.

Is this the 5th instar?

Is this the 5th instar?

Whilst the caterpillars are nourishing their bodies in preparation for change, I thought we might do the same. Would you care to indulge?…..

in a taste of the last of summer in this delicious, spicy rhubarb cake

Spicy Rhubarb Cake

Spicy Rhubarb Cake

or, perhaps, in a little something that speaks of cooler mornings and the colder days to come; a gingerbread cake.

Joy of Baking; Gingerbread Cake

Joy of Baking; Gingerbread Cake

But, if you are wanting a lighter indulgence, may I suggest a serving of the apple, instead of the cake.  Again there are two choices; Cherry Gala apples lightly cooked with a squeeze of lemon, a pinch of sugar and a handful of rose petals;

or Royal Gala and Eve  apples , sautéed gently in a sliver of butter and a sprinkle of sugar.

Mmmmm…How was that? Delectable? Are you feeling suitably indulged and ever so glad that we are not limited to one food type like the monarch caterpillar; that we are able to experience so many taste sensations; that we have such variety in our menus.

Praise be to the  butterflies  and bees that make that possible.

~

At 12.51pm today we marked the  third anniversary of the  February 22nd earthquake. At the memorial service in the Botanic Gardens, the Mayor said “Let us unite as we did after the earthquakes. For those of us who have been able to move on, let us reach out to those who are still struggling. .. For those who cannot move on, please do not be afraid to ask for our help… We can get through this together.”

In caterpillar terms, ( because I have this essential life form so much on my mind 😉 ) most of us have made it through the first instar; some of us are almost ready to be butterflies; indeed, may already be  flying freely. Some of us, such as myself, are still  ambling along in the third instar. But there’s no rush. With nourishment and nurture, we will, eventually, be transformed.

( I think I will make a good  butterfly, don’t you?  🙂   Better keep my feet clean, though. Butterflies taste through their ‘feet’! )

© silkannthreades

Survival of the fittest… ?

Since the beginning of the week I have been watching the monarch caterpillars, outside my bedroom window, slugging it out over the few remaining swan plant leaves. They have been pushing and shoving and head butting in their fight to secure their place at the food table.

Everyone temporarily in harmony.

Everyone temporarily minding their manners.

I tried to help by providing some delicate cucumber slices, as suggested by those in the know .

Tasty?

Tasty? Cucumber minus the sandwich.

Some of the larger caterpillars tested the new menu but were not enthusiastic. They preferred to continue in their old familiar ways and went back to munching every last shred of the swan plants; some of which must have been seasoned by the eggs of what was supposed to be the next generation.

Inevitably, as the food supply has dwindled, so, too, have the caterpillar numbers. One by one the caterpillars have disappeared. Some may have gone to pupate in the dense foliage of the adjacent oregano; others have simply gone.  Where, I don’t know.  Have they moved to new feeding grounds, strengthened only by their will to survive? Or have they gone off to die? The ground is not littered with caterpillar corpses. If they have disappeared to meet their death elsewhere, it is in a manner reminiscent of that noble adventurer Captain Oates; a story beautifully retold by Valerie Davies in her latest post Very gallant gentlemen.

If they have died, I am glad I have been spared the sight of their demise. Watching the caterpillars squabbling over food was hard enough, not to mention the feeling of helplessness over being unable to supply them with more swan plants. ( New plants on order but not available till tomorrow 😦 )

Last year the first of my monarch butterflies emerged on March 1st, the official first day of autumn. (What a lot of firsts 🙂 ) Maybe, come March, this year, I will be surprised and delighted all over again by the birth of  new Royal Beauties but, so far, I have not seen a single chrysalis.

To be continued……

© silkannthreades

Inspiring transformations

Ladysighs teaches herself to write Minute Poems  and  Lanterne poetry.   Mrs P  of Destination Unknown challenges herself to create Villanelles. Their willingness to play with form and words inspired me to attempt a haiku; my very first haiku, ever, emerging, as I near the completion of my fifties!

The monarchs return

when the plums ripen and fall

and  the winds blow home.

The monarchs return

The monarchs return

Plums ripen

when the plums ripen

Plum drop

and fall

There it is; short and sweet 😉

Will I write more haiku, or try my hand, and brain, at another form of poetry ? Maybe, but probably not yet. I would like to concentrate  my spare creative energy on my  chap books.  They need a massive transformation before they are ready to fly.

© silkannthreades

Thank You! and Go Me!

Go Me! says I. Go where? says Me. Who knows, we smile, because who does? I may not know where I am taking myself, but I do know where I am (most of the time), and where I’ve been.

Where I am, is here, writing my 243rd post. This is where I was one year and one day ago, publishing my very first post about Gallivanting and Roses.

What lies ahead?

What lies ahead? Beverley Park 2012

I have been on a grand journey, and still am on it. Yesterday, 28 October, was my first blog birthday.  Will there be many more? Again, who knows?

But, again, what I do know is that  I am here, on the unbirthday of my blog birthday,  inviting you to share my enjoyment in this day, in this moment.

Draw near and enjoy my  easy-care flowers, for all seasons, in a copper vase which has great sentimental value for me. It is one of two that belonged to my paternal grandmother and dates, I think, from the 1920s.

Silk and Copper

Silk and Copper

If you look very closely, you may find that I have cared so easily for my flowers that spiders have settled in and spun their way through the arrangement  🙂

You may also see little ribbons and little pictures like this…….

They are not new-fangled floral ornaments but bookmarks that I make using photos from some   of my favourite   posts.

As most of you, my blog readers, are also avid readers of ‘real’ books, I would love to thank you for being  with me today by offering you the gift of one of my bookmarks. They are very simple and ordinary bookmarks, but if you would like to have this tangible memento of our journey together, you are welcome to email me, with your details, at kaahend@gmail.com. Tell me which bookmark you would like and I will do my best to send it your way as soon as I can.

Go Me and THANK YOU ALL for helping me to get to my first blog birthday.

© silkannthreades

Waiting for you

PurpleStill on the theme of Waiting, this post is dedicated to my New Zealand born parents who, once upon a time, spent many happy hours at Mona Vale. They would have enjoyed being with us yesterday afternoon, were it not for the fact that they now live thousands of miles away in Queensland. Even though they live in Australia, they consider themselves more” Kiwi” than ever because, like New Zealand’s national bird, the Kiwi, they no longer fly.

Let’s start our stroll at the herbaceous border, near the car park.The Blues

More BlueStill blueWeird and white

Next we cross the bridge and look towards the railway line View to the railway and, then turn the other way, to follow the flow of the river.View to the walk bridge no longer walkable

Here is a seat waiting for youA seat for you

with blue flowers  like little satellite dishes, tuned towards you and the sun.Blue to you

And, if you get too hot, you can move to Hilda’s seat and test drive the perspective of a hundred year old lady.Another seat for you A bird in hand

As soon as you are seated, the birds will seek your company and your ducks will come looking for bread.Ducks will come to callThey are as eager as ever to be fed. There were a few white ducks today. I wonder if they are ever confused by their reflections. Their reflections confused me.Which side is up?

That’s all for now except for a brief stop to smell the roses. They are not at their best but the onesWish you were blue

that remain are harvesting the sunshine.

© silkannthreades

Playing the waiting game

In Christchurch, these days, we are learning to play the waiting game. We wait for insurance companies. We wait for repairs. We wait for phone calls, and on phone calls. We wait in traffic. We wait for businesses to reopen, for buildings to be restored or built. We wait for plumbers and carpenters.  We wait in lines of traffic and we wait for rain……..sometimes we play the game well and with patience; other times, not so much. Our health authorities, worried about the stress levels, particularly the ones generated in those “other times’, has launched a campaign called All Right? (http://www.cdhb.govt.nz/communications/media/2013/130225.htm) ( http://www.allright.co.nz/ )

Today, after almost a week at home waiting for workmen and assessors, and for the house to dry out, we finally decided it would be all right to venture out for some early autumn sunshine. No one was scheduled to visit the house after 3pm, so we were free to flee.

We went to a favourite spot; Mona Vale. Funny thing was that, when we were there, everywhere I looked, I seemed to be surrounded by signs and scenes of waiting. I was still involved in a waiting game.  Follow my photos and see what I mean.

Waiting to fall Waiting to fall

Waiting on a bridge for a breeze to a final destinationWaiting for a breeze

Waiting to fly Waiting for the moment to fly

Waiting for an audienceWaiting for the audience  Waiting for a meal; or a dusterWaiting for a meal

Waiting for Hilda; a special seat for someone’s special great-grandmother from CanadaWaiting for HildaHilda's place

Waiting for someone to remember where they left itNow where did I file it?

So how did you find that variation on the waiting game? Am I playing it well?   Am I doing all right?

© silkannthreades

The presents of this day

I don’t know the origin of this saying …… “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, that’s why we call it the present.”, but it is one of my favourites.  It always brings a smile to my heart.  It was especially apt for today because, it seems to me, that this present day was full of gifts….. or is it, this gift of today was full of presents? Either way, I have had so many presents since I  began my day  that it almost feels as though it should be my birthday.

Here are some samples from the gift list.

First and foremost, my laptop has been successfully repaired and is now back in its rightful  place, on my bench, and working like a dream.  I want to sing and dance and give a medal to the patient technician who carefully and lovingly restored my old machine to its former pristine glory.

Next, because I have my own laptop at my fingertips again, I was able to access Facebook easily and, there, I found a wonderful quote waiting for me. I have read this one before but it was good to be reminded of it : ” Joy is what makes life worth living, but ,for many, joy seems hard to find. They complain that their lives are sorrowful and depressing. What then brings the joy we so much desire? Are some people just lucky, while others have run out of luck? Strange as it may sound, we can choose joy. Two people can be part of the same event, but one may choose to live it quite differently from the other. One may choose to trust that what happened, painful as it may be, holds a promise. The other may choose despair and be destroyed by it. What makes us human is precisely this freedom of choice.”
– Henri Nouwen    I am not sure that I agree totally with these words but I do like the idea that we may have the option to choose joy.

After Facebook, I checked in to my favourite National Gallery website to see the Painting of the Month http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/painting-of-the-month/. And here I discovered the amazing Rachel Ruysch, and her Flowers in a Vase , painted about 1685.  There is such exquisiteness in this featured still life that I could spend all  day looking at it.

However, if I did that, I wouldn’t have time to share my other delights of the day which, of course, relate to my monarch butterflies. When I woke this morning, I peeked out the bedroom window to check the weather and I saw four butterflies trying to warm up under overcast skies.  What a wonderful sight to see first thing in the morning. Good Morning Sunshine

And I also saw this chrysalis which maybe the mystery waiting for its tomorrow.Tomorrow's mystery

Another  present was the present of laughter, given to me by the cat; naturally. She is so resourceful and an expert in cuteness.  She slipped inside this afternoon when my son came by and, a while later, she was discovered in a state of extreme purrtentment, on my daughter’s bed.  My daughter left home a couple of years ago, so we think Zoe Cat  was saying,” Well, if my sister is not here, I am not going to let a good bed go to waste.”  I am only surprised she hasn’t thought of this before now.

Here is the warm orange fluffball on a cloud of blue bliss. Purrtentment

My unexpected bonus gift of the day was the discovery that my michelia tree  is covered with  beautiful russet coloured buds with the texture of the richest and most luxurious velvet. How about that; a gift wrapped in velvet 🙂Wrapped in velvet

Question; do you notice a certain, orange-y autumnal theme in this post? I think there is but it wasn’t intended. It happened of its own accord.

© silkannthreades

Happy Birthday my Beauties

Such excitement when I came home from shopping just after midday……..I noticed one monarch butterfly hanging under a desiccated courgette leaf and, next to it, the remains of a delicate chrysalis. I rushed inside to get my camera and, as I was doing so, I saw another butterfly drying its wings on the thyme bush. Then, whilst trying to take photos of the two relatively still butterflies, a third monarch fluttered about us. It was resting a lot in the sun and taking only short flights, so I suppose it was newly emerged too.   I managed to get photos of the two resting butterflies .As I write this post, I can see the three butterflies testing their wings in the gentle breeze along my driveway and, from time to time, alighting on whatever plant takes their fancy.  Imagine the freedom of finding your wings for the first time and being able to explore further than your swan plant world. It’s sunny and warm with a pale blue sky and a sweet, light whisper of wind. What a day to start a new life. Sensational.  Here is the butterfly under the courgette leaf. Note the old chrysalis to the side.Emerged

The butterfly is slowly moving to a sunnier spot.Climbing

This is the second butterfly I saw.  It had moved from the thyme to the zinnias where there was more sunshine.Zinnia Sunbed

After a while it flew to a hanging basket of heuchera where it rested and I waited patiently for it to spread its wings. My patience was rewarded.Spread your wings and fly

For those of you wondering about the status of the lone long ranger who set up home next to my  door, here is a photo taken today of the chrysalis. You can see that it is now darkened which, I believe, means it won’t be long before a butterfly appears.Not long now

Considering that the other monarchs seemed to take at least a month to emerge from their chrysalis forms, I think I now know why this caterpillar took such a long journey to attach itself to the brickwork on the warmest side of the house. It knew that time was getting short if it wanted to be ‘born’ before the first cold days of autumn. If only we humans were as responsive and concerned about climate change and how it affects our survival.

Happy Birthday my Beauties on this, the first day of Autumn.

© silkannthreades