The Day I Caressed a Butterfly

That was today, actually.

It was around noon. I was in the garden, watering because it’s uncomfortably hot here in SoCal. Not as bad as Paris, cos there’s still a bit of an ocean breeze, but HOT.

A pretty orange and black spotted Monarch butterfly began to follow the spray of water from the hose, and she and I had a little chat.

Well, she listened while I talked to her.

“Hey, pretty girl, are you thirsty?”

By way of response, she floated to the ground and folded up her wings like a beautiful fan. Or like pressed together hands in namaste.

“Are you OK?” “Are you injured anywhere?” At the same time I wondered how in the world I could take a butterfly to the emergency vet.

I turned off the water and crouched down to get a closer look.

What do you need? Are you having a little rest?”

Again, no response, but I inched closer and slowly sat down, hardly daring to breathe.

We stayed that way for a moment or two, each of us motionless.

Can I touch you?” I asked. “I won’t hurt your wings, I promise.”

(By the way, the powder on the wings of a butterfly or moth is actually tiny scales made from modified hairs, and it doesn’t actually damage them if they’re touched.)

Ever so tentatively I reached out my right hand and ever so gently touched the charcoal gray folded up underside of her fan wings, and then I simply sat still as a statue.

After a few seconds in which time stopped, she opened her wings once, twice, three times, and then lifted off the ground and fluttered away.

Thank you” I whispered, and held my heart to keep the love from spilling out.

It was nothing short of an amazing encounter, don’t you agree? One of my most enchanting and enchanted days.

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Gangsta Butterfly

Rain of any kind in SoCal is something to be grateful for because for a brief moment, we can enjoy green and lush hills and gardens.

Now that we’re back to sunshiny blue skies again, I took pics of the lawn ‘cos it’ll never look this velvety smooth again.

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Even though I have the flu or some version of it in spite of a flu shot, no way would I miss spending an entire day working in the garden. Dirty hands, twigs in my hair, muddy shoes. HEAVENLY.

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But I wasn’t alone.

This happy gangsta butterfly not only followed me everywhere I was, but sat on my head for a few marvelous seconds, too! It’s too bad I couldn’t snap a pic but it was impossible, so you’ll have to trust me. Fluttering and flapping wings all around my face and head. And listen to the birds! So much joy.

Was there a message or a lesson the butterfly was attempting to convey? Or maybe just a shared joie de vivre?

We can coexist in peace, my friendly Mourning Cloak butterfly.

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Yes, s/he was upside down or maybe I was upside down? It’s all in your perspective. Totally LOVING the apple blossoms.

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Knowing that our rains are brief, all the plants put their best foot forward. The rosemary is a riot of blue flowers and bees.

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Bees, so many bees!

 

Happy all planets direct and Super Blood Wolf Moon eclipse tonight!

 

Garden Treasures. Winter Gratitude.

Freshly picked gifts from Mother Earth in all the brilliant colors of the season.

Red leaf lettuce, peppery arugula, baby romaine, and baby kale fill a pristine white bowl.

Accompanied by steamed brown rice and a glass of crisp chardonnay, it’s a purely simple and fulfilling dinner.

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Drama in the ‘hood

For the last week or so, there’s been something otherwordly going on in the gardens at Casa de Enchanted Seashells.

At approximately 6:30 on another beautiful and shiny blue sky morning, I was on the verge of that first gratifying sip of freshly ground and brewed French roast coffee (no Starbucks for me, I like to be in total control of my java) and as I looked out the kitchen window, THIS was perched on my patio umbrella:

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I could barely hold my camera steady as you can see by the blurriness. I mean, that was just a few feet away from me!

As she flew away from the deck to the ash tree, she was joined by another one!

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Now there were two hawks!

And they were VERY interested in this juvenile crow who was all alone, very unconcerned, blithely eating his fill of mulberries one by one from the tree and the grass:

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Hello, Mr. Crow!

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Just hanging out…along with one of the bunnies that lives under the deck…

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The bunny ran away,

For a couple of hours, there was a lot of drama, some of it happened so fast, I couldn’t catch it with a camera. The hawks hung around, flying from one spot to the next, here on the roof of the shed…IMG_6067

…walking around on the GROUND in front of the shed!!!

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And picking up a mulberry leaf that had fallen on the lawn. He flew away with it in his beak! Again, sorry for the bad photos, but it was impossible to capture it all perfectly.

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There seemed to be a sort of relationship emerging between the crow and the hawks.. Although typically they’re not known to be friendly with each other, but when it does occur, there are mystical and magical meanings attached to the encounters.

First, the hawks would swoop and dive at the crow who seemed fearless; totally ignoring the faux attack, but then did the same exact thing to the two hawks perched on that same branch. It looked like they were playing and having fun; there was no aggression.

And then they shared a branch together. All in harmony!

I did a little research on the phenomenon of crows and hawks playing, and found this: http://www.thenerge.com/bird-nerge/crows-and-hawks-playing/

Crazy, huh?

This similar scenario replayed for the next few mornings; the crow is still here, but I haven’t seen the hawks.

However, one thing’s for sure, it doesn’t take much to make me happy, but I think I really really need to hone my photography skills. Hee hee.

The Senescence of a Rose

And yes, you can infer by this that I’m also facetiously and metaphorically referring to myself.

My camera’s eye followed this beautiful rose’s life on a newly transplanted bush from conception to senectitude (my new fave word.)

As the petals were soon to loosen, wrinkle, fade, and drop, the next gen formed.

The story of Princess Rosebud.

SIGH.

(Slideshow gallery of photos.)

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Strawberries, Sage, and Stevia

Sorry to most of the rest of the country but here in SoCal, our growing season is pretty much never over.

Here’s the raised bed tugboat man built for me the day before he left. I planted tomatoes, kale, red leaf lettuce, beets, beans, and broccoli — I packed a LOT in a 4×8 space. He was supposed to build a second bed, but this is another one of those “such is the life of a tugboat wife” moments where I need to wait until he’s home again.raisedbed

There wasn’t any room for the eggplants or these spicy jlapenos.

jalapenospotI dug a fresh, new herb garden directly under our bedroom window. I’m hoping the lovely aromas will waft up and in.Herb garden

There’s a couple different kinds of sage; basil, thyme, oregano, parsley, lemon verbena, cilantro, and STEVIA.

SteviaDid you know you could grow stevia?

Neither did I, but when I saw a pot of organic stevia at Armstrong’s Nursery, I had to try it. The leaves are super sweet. I’ve seen stevia extract on the grocery shelf as a sugar substitute but I’ve never tried it.

From Mother Earth News, a few facts about stevia:

If growing your own calorie-free, natural sweetener sounds too good to be true, it’s time to get to know stevia.

Native to Paraguay and other tropical areas of the Americas, the stevia plant (Stevia rebaudiana) produces leaves packed with super-sweet compounds that remain stable even after the leaves have been dried.

Stevia leaves have been used to sweeten teas and beverages throughout South America for centuries.

More recently, diabetics and dieters alike have turned to stevia to reduce their sugar intake because, unlike honey, maple syrup, agave or molasses, this natural sweetener has zero calories and is not metabolized by the body.

Stevia is especially well-suited to sweetening drinks, fruits, salad dressings, yogurt and most creamy desserts. Stevia can substitute for some, but not all, of the sugar used when baking, because it does not provide all of the multiple functions that sugar does.

Many commercial drink mixes and packaged sugar substitutes are sweetened with a derivative of stevia.

This sweetening compound is called Rebaudioside A and is listed on labels as either Reb A or Rebiana.

These are highly processed products developed by large food corporations. Most of the raw stevia used to produce these products is grown in China. These “natural sweeteners” have been stripped of many of the plant’s healthful properties.

On the other hand, growing your own stevia to produce teas, extracts, and tinctures made from high-quality, whole-leaf stevia contains up to seven sweet compounds (glycosides) and an array of antioxidants. Growing stevia is easy in well-drained beds or large containers, and the leaves can be dried for winter use like any other herb. Stevia grows best in warm conditions similar to those preferred by basil.

Here’s a link to making your own stevia powder and liquid:
https://wholelifestylenutrition.com/videos/how-to-make-your-own-pure-stevia-liquid-stevia-part-2/

Last weekend I hosted a community garage sale for a local nonprofit (post to come) and someone brought a box of strawberry slips. I took a few, quickly dug a bed, and put them in the ground. Since we hardly ever throw stuff away, I found a length of white wire fencing tucked away behind the greenhouse. There’s nothing better than organic strawberries! Yum, can’t wait!strawberrybed

The weather is so crazy here, my apple and plum trees are blossoming again.

During the last few days SoCal broke tons of heat records along with a few drops of rain —and then nothing.

But it was a beautiful sunrise over the lagoon, right?sunrise looking toward lagoon

A Whole Bunch of Dirt, Sand Dollars, and a Riddle

This is a riddle of sorts but there are no clues.

Sorry…

In fact, this probably makes no sense at all right now, but all will be revealed, and even then what’s going on in my head that makes perfectly logical sense to me will still have you scratching your collective heads.

Trust me.

Before he left, tugboat man built this beautiful raised bed so I can plant healthy veggies.

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A nice friend stopped by with all of these sand dollars!
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If only you could plant a sand dollar so they’d multiply!Sand dollar2

One particular sand dollar is being chased by a several other types of seashells.

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This means *something*.

I promise.

Me, Mostly Naked, With a Hawk

Our bedroom window looks out over the garden. Yep, it’s HUGE, a lot of work with neverending projects, but I love my sanctuary.

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This is where I see bunnies and roadrunners and all sorts of wildlife.roadrunner

One day last week, early in the morning, I was getting dressed to go to the gym and spied a hawk perched on a low branch in the eucalyptus tree. I think it’s the same hawk that’s been hanging around for years.

He was facing the pond, quietly and patiently waiting for breakfast to appear.

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Therein lies the dilemma. What’s a girl to do?

If I finish getting dressed, I’ll miss this amazing shot; but if I run outside half naked, will anyone see me?

Because we have six-foot fences all the way around our property, I felt pretty certain that no one would catch a glimpse of the real me in my bra and bikini bottoms, so I grabbed my camera and ran outside.

I felt so NAUGHTY hee hee.

This is what I was rewarded with — and do you see how he gave me a shady side eye — so much human flesh this early in the morning clearly offended his sensibilities.

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Isn’t he gorgeous? The hooked beak and talons are MAJESTIC.

My presence was distracting (he was looking right AT me) so I went back in the house to allow him to catch his breakfast without further interference.beautifulhawkjuly1620152

Don’t worry, I didn’t snap a selfie in my state of undress; you didn’t actually THINK I WOULD, did you?

If nothing else, this screams the sad fate of my tugboatman-less existence — running naked in the trees to catch a perfect pic.

P.S. Hub was able to make one last call before he was once again out of cell phone range and I told him what I did, just to give him a lasting visual for the final leg of his voyage, and I can still hear his laughter ringing in my ears. At first he thought I had been running around out in the front yard with cars driving by, but once I clarified, he was able to picture the whole scenario as it really happened, and I’m sure it’ll sustain his imagination until he returns SOMEDAY.

Nasturtiums in Orange #WordlessWednesday

So much is upsetting at WordPress…the change in the Reader and the format of the write/edit/publish page–whoever thought one could HATE to see “beepbeepboop” as much as I do — so in order to recapture my ZEN, here’s one of my favorite pictures of nasturtiums from the garden.

Because ORANGE.

It looks like a painting.

Enjoy this mostly #wordlesswednesday

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Plant Motherly Milkweed for Monarch Butterfly LOVE

The motherly milkweed provides sustenance to the Monarch butterfly and is crucial to sustain the species.

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Everyone who loves butterflies should plant milkweed and since NObody doesn’t love butterflies, there should be enough milkweed planted to sustain the entire cosmos.milkweed7To clarify, I’m not referring to the plural of one my fave cocktails, but the cosmos of our universe.milkweed2

According to Monarch Joint Venture…

Monarchs cannot survive without milkweed; their caterpillars only eat milkweed plants (Asclepias spp.), and monarch butterflies need milkweed to lay their eggs. With shifting land management practices, we have lost much milkweed from the landscape.

Please plant milkweed to support monarch populations, and their incredible migration!

Planting milkweed is a great way to help other pollinators too, as they provide valuable nectar resources to a diverse suite of bees and butterflies.

For a brief how-to flyer on planting and gardening, download MJV’s Gardening for Monarchs or the Wild Ones “Wild for Monarchs” brochure.

As soon as I put the plant in the ground, it became inundated with all the Monarchs in my little part of the world.milkweed6

I planted it FAR away from the vegetable garden so the hungry little caterpillars wouldn’t decide to vary their diet and eat all my veggies.

Reminder! Don’t use pesticides or herbicides. milkweed3Click here for free butterfly garden and milkweed seeds:
https://www.livemonarch.com/free-milkweed-seeds.htm
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More information at Bring Back the Monarchs
http://monarchwatch.org/bring-back-the-monarchs/milkweed/milkweed6

Californians can help save the monarch butterfly by restoring habitats where they can thrive. Take action now: Tell lawmakers to vote “YES” on AB 559 to restore monarch butterfly habitats. http://ecovote.org/SaveTheMonarch >>