Two years ago I had LOTS of butterfly sightings. It was so much fun to snap the pictures and determine what kind of butterfly had come to enjoy my garden. Last year I think I had a total of 3 sightings. 3. Not even a full hand. This year is even worse so far. One. I had ONE butterfly sighting and it wasn’t even on my flowers. TTTT – I’m a little concerned that the only reason this one was on the chair so long was that it was injured or dead. 😦 I have been planting native pollinator/butterfly friendly plants. I have lots of pollinators out front but nary a butterfly. That makes me sad.
Oh my goodness gracious! FINALLY! Had both my shots, passed the 2 week wait, the governor said we could gather in groups outside. Obviously the word has gotten around and I had TWO visitors this week!!! The first was the swallowtail butterfly, who wouldn’t stop flitting here and flitting there. I’m not sure which version of swallowtail but definitely a BUTTERFLY! And then as I sat outside relaxing, enjoying the warm sunny day – a Tufted Titmouse dropped by!!! (I only know THAT because TT was much more cooperative about having a picture taken. I could text it to my sister the bird expert to find out who had dropped by.) Wonderful to FINALLY be entertaining guests once more!
Subtitled: You Had LOTS of Time to Prepare
Oh my. Frustration is SO exhausting. For at least a week now NJ has known we were in the path of Hurricane/Tropical Storm/Big Messy Storm Isaias. NJ has weathered (hah hah) several storms – sometimes well, sometimes not as well, but I *THOUGHT* we’d been learning with each one. Maybe the individual people are, but apparently our utilities still can’t seem to grasp the concept of “Be Prepared”. There’s a HUGE storm coming. Wires will come down. Power will go out. Things will break.
I no longer remember the big storm that came after Hurricane Sandy. Sandy was one of those events where everyone remembers where they were, what happened, and how many days they were without power. After Sandy, whenever we had warning of an impending storm, the utility companies would assure us that they were prepared, had their crews positioned all over the state, ready to ride and restore once the storm had passed.
Apparently my internet provider forgot the lessons. We lost the internet & cable just before 3 pm. It is now 24.5 hours later and we have no internet & cable, no estimate on when it might be restored. My neighbor actually received a call from a human being (I had NO faith in the automated voice mail system myself, or I, too, could have gotten a callback.). My neighbor was assured that “it is out all over and they will get to it as soon as they can”. I wasn’t upset with that attitude yesterday. I get it – a storm, damage, things broke. BUT. You KNEW it was coming. You KNOW that all of your customers are working from home because of COVID19. You KNOW connectivity is a true necessity these days. I’m disgusted, truly disgusted.
My son was living in Florida in 2017 when Hurricane Irma roared ashore. Of course they lost power, might have been as long as a week. I was impressed with their power company, however. THEY posted estimated dates by when they hoped to get different localities up and running. It didn’t change anything – my son still had no power. But at least he (and I) knew there was some hope that the utility WOULD restore it, and how long he needed to manage without. Optimum either has no clue when things will work or can’t be bothered telling its clientele when the service might be restored.
How am I posting this blog? It is MY good fortune that my next-door neighbors use a DIFFERENT internet provider. Back in the spring, after the lock-downs, Optimum went out of service. Again, I wasn’t angry because it was around the time when EVERYONE in the surrounding metropolitan area all stayed home and hit the internet at the same time. I had a very important meeting, however, and I freaked that I’d miss it. I ran next door and discovered they were up and running AND I could see their wifi from my house. They gave me the password and saved my sorry self. I contacted them again today and they graciously allowed me on again. All of my work apps are running off of my neighbor’s wifi. My brother-in-law brought me his – okay – I’m going to get this wrong – Google WiFi. I think that is what it is. It looks like a cell phone, it’s something Google, and it finds whatever service is closest and strongest. I guess there is some app and a fee but wherever you are in the country, you can find a service provider and hook up and have the internet. My personal computer and all apps that are NOT behind the company firewall are running off of this thing. My phone is using that now too. Sigh.
I was supposed to run a training session today. We rescheduled it to Friday. I’m supposed to run a training session tomorrow. As I was proof-reading this, my OTHER next-door neighbor called – the one who also had no internet. He says it was UP! But as we talked it went down. Another neighbor texted to say she was back UP! “It’s like Christmas in August!!!:)” She lives 3 blocks away, but I went down to reboot my modem and reboot my router anyway. Nope – still no internet here. I guess there is hope. Maybe. It does look as if the storm passed/is passing far west of Honour. That’s good – it means I can’win’ when we compare complaining! 🙂
I have mentioned that I did not think I had ever seen a hummingbird until I saw one in June in Phoenix. My next-door-neighbor had a humming bird feeder and she saw them. My husband said that he had seen one in our yard once also (years ago). Other folks in town have said that they have hummingbirds. I have now seen one with my OWN EYES in MY garden!!!! I am SO EXCITED!!!!!!
I was chatting with a neighbor. He is always threatening to steal my Rudbeckia Laciniata Hortensia (my big gorgeous yellow flowers). One year I gave him seeds from the flowers. I believe one year I even dug up a plant and gave it to him. He has not had any luck growing them. This year I gave him the botanical name AND the name of the place from where I get a few new plants each year (Heritage Flower Farm in Wisconsin). As we were chatting – that’s when I saw MY hummingbird! It was wonderful. It checked out the big canna lilies and flew away. My neighbor said that is where he sees them as well – feeding on his cannas. You KNOW next year I’m going to plant a FIELD of canna lilies!!!!
I never did anything about harvesting the seeds from the scarlet milkweed (Asclepias curassavica). I’m not sure the pod is even still there. I don’t think I have them in a very good spot. I may get some more for next year and put them elsewhere – maybe in front of the porch. The false starwort (Bolton’s Aster) is doing fantastic! It is indeed putting forth dozens of little white flowers. I don’t know if that’s a moth or a butterfly enjoying them. It flitted too much for me to get a sufficiently clear photo so that I could search on it. The black swallowtail was back as well. I think it might be a female. I have such a clear picture of it now but I can’t tell if the difference between the male and female on the web site is because they happen to have slightly different markings by the tail end, or if those different markings are how you tell male from female. I think this one looks more like the picture of the female black swallowtail
The big bushy weed thing that was growing behind the zinnias and next to the cosmos – it’s not a weed!!!! Look – it has little flower buds on it! I can’t wait to see what comes up. I KNOW I have pulled that plant out in the past thinking it a weed. There is something growing out from under the yellow peony that I’m sure is a weed. But it, too, seems to have flowers so it gets to stay. The only flowering thing I pull is my goldenrod. The goldenrod would take over the entire yard if I let it. Its runners are extremely aggressive. 🙂 Even pulling out easily a dozen runners this spring, I will still have a nice crop.
Among my many “let’s just try it” this year was an attempt to grow cucumbers. I love cucumbers. I gave my niece my Mexican cucumber plant for last year, and thought maybe I’d see if I could get real cukes this year. As you can see from the picture, it does not appear that I succeeded. I probably did not give it enough light, and maybe it needed friends to pollinate properly. It does seem as if it’s TRYING to make a cucumber. We’ll give it more time and see what develops. Maybe I should tell it that it is a WEED and it would be more productive?
The weather is definitely cooling. It’s still summer, but we hear and sense Fall approaching. I know this because my husband and I are both back in the kitchen cooking. 🙂 He wokked two meals last week and I made another summer salad. Once the humidity dropped last week I felt energized sufficiently to tackle a new recipe. I decided to make the Mediterranean Cracked Wheat Salad. I’ve made tabouli before, usually from a box mix. I’ve also bought it pre-made from the store. I’ve never done anything fancy with it. As I mentioned in my Wheatberry Salad post, I have always shied away from “things” in my food. I also mentioned that I seem to be overcoming that attitude, thank goodness!
This cracked wheat salad is the last of the recipes I saved at the start of the summer, when I was searching for tasty, healthy food that wouldn’t require heating up the kitchen. This recipe called for boiling some water, but that was it for ‘cooking’. The rest was chopping and combining. I wasn’t able to pull anything from my garden for this salad. I’d already snacked on all of the grape tomatoes and I discovered that caterpillars were embedded in my parsley. Given all my support for butterflies, I abandoned my parsley to the caterpillars and used dried parsley. (If I identified the caterpillar correctly, it will be a black swallowtail, which makes sense.)
I had to substitute on the peppers as well, since I did not find pepperoncini peppers at the farmers’ market. I used jalapeno peppers. I’d like to try again with the pepperoncinis because jalapeno is still a bit hot for my taste. My husband, however, loved it. My other change was to ditch the olives. I don’t like olives. I knew I’d just pick them out of the salad, I wouldn’t eat them, and if I didn’t tell my husband that they were missing he’d never know. 🙂 No olives. I loved the taste and look of the julienned radishes. That’s something that would have never occurred to me. See – learning new things. I followed the instructions to only pour some of the dressing on the wheat/vegetable mixture. When I decided it need more dressing, rather than pouring or spooning it on, I used a fork. That way I was getting mostly the ingredients in the dressing and not much of the oil and lemon juice. That kept the mixture from becoming soggy yet it all got some of the dressing. Next time I will probably reduce the olive oil and juice.
This passed our taste test! We are both enjoying it, it’s going fast. It was easy to make, very clear directions which anticipated things such as liquid remaining after the wheat had been absorbing the directed amount. Definitely another keeper for the kitchen files!
Thanks again to Lisa at Garlic & Zest for sharing the recipe!
The black swallowtail butterfly has been much more cooperative than the orange and black butterfly. The other day I managed to catch a few photos of her, although she moves so fast! She is much more aware of my presence than the black swallowtail, which allowed me to get close enough to take several decent pictures. This butterfly moved every time I moved. All the photos are just that bit out of focus, but I think she’s a Painted Lady. Now that I’ve gotten this close, I’m wondering if it is this butterfly I’ve been seeing or if I really was seeing Monarchs earlier in the season. Maybe I’ll have another lucky day and will be able to catch her, or other butterflies in the act! I’m happy to see that they are enjoying the zinnias as much as I am!
I love the tropicana canna lilies. They are simply stupendous. I was listening to a garden show this morning that was explaining how I should dead-head the flowers, but it sounds a bit tricky. Apparently the new flower is growing right next to the old flower and if you cut in the wrong place you lose the new one. Sounds too risky for me to try. She was also giving instructions on how to dig them up to over-winter them. Sigh. I suppose I SHOULD try to do that – the plants are so expensive, and I do want them every year. But by the time it’s digging-up time, I’m really “over” my garden. 🙂
I have also figured out that what I thought was the false starwort is actually the butterfly weed. And what I thought was the butterfly weed is probably some huge weed weed(you can see it behind the cosmos and zinnias and to the left of the canna lilies – it’s green 🙂 ). I guess the false starwort died. I started reading to see what I’m supposed to do with the huge butterfly weed seed pod. Apparently I should harvest it, which seems to be easy but messy. I think one of the reasons I’ve been so confused is that I tend to buy very tall plants – ones that grow to be 3 feet or taller. Butterfly weed does NOT grow that tall. It’s possible that at the point when I planted everything I knew that and knew what I was doing. 🙂 I must have ordered them because I wanted to support the butterflies. 🙂 That’s actually ironic, because I NEVER see butterflies over in that part of the garden. I guess they don’t like marigolds.
I KNOW that I bought, planted and HAVE the Agastache foeniculum (anise hyssop). I’ve posted pictures of that here. I also know that I planted things where those 2 huge weeds are growing. I’m waiting to see if they flower – it looks as if they might. But they are NOT false starwort by any stretch of the imagination. Here’s the bottom line – they will flower and I’ll decide whether or not they stay, or I’m going to pull them out.
I went out to water the plants in pots yesterday when a large dark something darted across my vision. It was a BUTTERFLY!!!! One I’ve not seen here before (I have seen Monarchs and white moths). It was huge and beautiful and it was flitting about checking out all the flowers! My garden strategy seems to be working for attracting butterflies and pollinators. YAY!!!!! It hung around for awhile on that dahlia (I guess IT didn’t mind the dark color). I had to leave so I don’t know how long it stayed, but it gladdened my heart for sure!
And PLEASE don’t tell me it is a moth, even if it is. 🙂
I have been trying to add native plants to my garden in order to support the pollinators and to make it easier to maintain. Some things have been working and some have been a bit disappointing, but all in all I’m seeing progress. One of the new additions this year is the anise hyssop. I put 3 plants near my gorgeous rudbeckia laciniata hortensia. The pictures online look much more attractive than what I’m seeing but maybe next year it will look more appealing. On the other hand, it doesn’t matter if *I* think it is appealing – I planted it for the bees and butterflies. SUCCESS!!!! I saw a bee feasting in the hyssop just the other day! I’ve seen a few butterflies flitting about as well, but they have been much more difficult to capture in a picture. I’m encouraged by this bee and the butterfly sightings. More native pollinator plants next year!!!!
Subtitle: How to Creep Out Your Sister
After viewing Taliesin West it’s a bit of a challenge to find something to do that is as stupendous. So we switched gears entirely. We moved from architecture and bringing the outside geology and flora in, to getting up close and personal with the fauna. We went to Butterfly Wonderland (we also made a stop at DSW for shoes, but I’m guessing you won’t be much interested in THAT stop – the shoes were for my son. Oy, shoe shopping with guys is just NOT shoe shopping. *rolls eyes*).
I’m not sure why Butterfly Wonderland is described as a “tourist attraction”. It seems to me that it is an attraction whether you are a tourist or you are a resident. Nearly everyone loves butterflies and enjoys seeing them up close and personal (we’ll discuss the exceptions in just a moment). Butterfly Wonderland not only has butterflies but, as we discovered to our great surprise, it has fish and reptiles as well. It also has a honeybee hive but that is not, in my opinion, an especially exciting attraction.
So who doesn’t like butterflies? Well, butterflies are a lot like moths. In our family, the word “moth” is a very, very bad word. You see, long long ago, when I was a mere child, there was an incident. Oh, not MY incident. *I* slept (happily) through the entire event. No, it happened to my sister. She was doing that teenage thing and was out at a party. An outdoor party. I don’t know how this happened and as she is traumatized to this day it’s difficult to get a coherent description, but apparently a moth flew in her ear. I understand that in fact this is NOT that uncommon. Apparently our ears are warm and smelly and there is warm smelly air from our ears that attracts flying insects, including moths. It does leave unanswered how they can actually fit. Anyway, at the time when my sister was the main attraction we were not so well informed.
My father had to get my sister from the party and take her to the emergency room. This is where the truly horrific part of the story happens – the part that to this day elicits a bitter cry from my sister, who is unable even now to forgive. My father said to the ER doctor: “She SAYS a moth flew in her ear.” Oh the pain!!!! The betrayal!!!! He DOUBTED the existence of a moth in her ear. Now understand that we both loved and adored my father immensely, and he adored us, so to have him DOUBT us???? Salt in the wound.
Anyway, as it became evident, there WAS a moth in her ear. The doctor extracted the moth, cleaned her ear, and she was all better physically. The emotional scars have lasted til this very day.
This event proved soooooo traumatic to our family (okay, not to ME *grin* I laugh. Remind me to tell you the story about how Mary and I ran across the floor at the Y, and my sister walked and SHE fell and broke her ankle. *laughing* ), so traumatic to our family that MY SON now has a slight phobia about moths and butterflies. He’s a lot like my sister. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised he inherited this. Whenever we visit a butterfly world, my son cringes as the butterflies swerve near him. Should they land on him, rather than enjoy the experience he begs me to get it off of him. *grin* Okay, maybe not BEG, but trust me – until it’s OFF he is NOT happy. He recites the sister/moth story and empathizes. The shoulder that serves as a resting spot for a butterfly in these photos is his unhappy shoulder. 🙂
When we entered Butterfly Wonderland we were just in time for a movie about the life cycle of monarch butterflies. The movie was okay, but it didn’t answer my question – WHY do monarch butterflies migrate to Mexico? Apparently all monarch butterflies do NOT migrate, and of the families that do, not every generation migrates. My understanding from the film is that the 3rd generation migrates back to Mexico. The film never explained what triggers the migration.
After the film we went into a room where there were cocoons and emerging butterflies. It is fascinating to see how difficult it is for the butterflies to get out of the cocoon. They have a matter of seconds to get free and clear before their wings are hardened in a crimped position. We cheered the ones that made it out safely and felt very sad for the ones that just couldn’t do it, even in such a protected environment. They told us that these butterflies that had just emerged would be released into the exhibit in about 30 minutes.
We headed into the big butterfly enclosure and wandered about. There were some stunning electric blue butterflies but they moved so quickly and so high that I could not get a picture of their open wings. I have many shots with their wings closed but the outside (underside?) of their wings is brownish/black, not that electric blue. We did stay and enjoy (well *I* enjoyed) the exhibit for quite a bit, waiting to see the newly hatched insects released. After that we headed out and discovered the fish and reptiles. Pictures for a different day. This post is butterflies. (and moths)
I’m scripting like crazy. 🙂 I love it. But I’m not doing much of anything else. My latest script is an intruder alert. It senses when people are within 20 meters. It IM’s the owner to say how many intruders and list their names. The sensor repeats. If someone is still there, the alert does not repeat their name but keeps them in the total count of intruders. If someone has left since the last time the owner was notified, the owner is told who left. If that person comes back, the alert knows to tell the owner that name again. The sensor knows that the owner is not an intruder. The owner can create a notecard of authorized visitors. 🙂 It works!!! And I’ve given it away to friends. Wheeeeeee!!! Next up: sliding and swinging doors and a dance floor. 🙂
In the meantime……
You absolutely positively MUST read Prad Prithivi’s blog today!!! Even if you are NOT a scripter, it is hilarious. (Okay, if you are not a scripter….. there are 2 ways to complile your script: LSL and Mono. Mono is newer and runs much faster. I think that the only downside may be that there are either some bugs or some things that are not recognized. But trust me – Prad will make it ALL clear!!) .
And of course – it’s the day for the Shengri La Ode butterfly hunt. Since I’ve only just gotten around to writing, I’m a bit late to let you know about the one starting in 5 minutes. 🙂 Sorry. But there is another one later tonight. This really is a wonderful event. It’s like eating potato chips – you think you can resist chasing those darned little butterflies, but then one flies by and you just HAVE to touch it. Wham. You are hooked. 🙂 It’s fun. Bring the newbies – it is wonderful practice for moving and touching and using inventory and all the rest. Not to mention all the cool jewelry. This really is a wonderful event. It’s like eating potato chips – you think you can resist chasing those darned little butterflies, but then one flies by and you just HAVE to touch it. Wham. You are hooked. 🙂 It’s fun. Bring the newbies – it is wonderful practice for moving and touching and using inventory and all the rest. Not to mention all the cool jewelry. I will see you there and then!