I started this blog to share some of the thoughts I have along the journey of life. I love to travel and spend time with my family and friends. A good meal, breaking bread with those I love, gives my life meaning. So does travel. I adore dreaming of sites to visit, not just to check them off on a list. Rather, I consider myself a student of life, traveling as an explorer, to open my mind to all the possibilities the world holds in store for me and for others. I love to travel to discover how different the world is in terms of climate, cultures, politics, terrain, economy, etc. but also to discover how SIMILAR the people are. Despite language barriers, much can be communicated with a smile or gestures. Language is simply a means to communicate, yet there are so very many other ways to communicate. Once when I was in French-speaking Canada, I realized that my 7th grade French class didn’t teach me the word for “straw”. However, when I thought about it, I was able to communicate to the very French-speaking waiter in a very French-speaking restaurant about my need for a “cylinder through which to drink” in my limited French vocabulary. Travel challenges the mind and soul, stretching us to problem solve and form conclusions about all that we experience. THAT is the type of travel I enjoy best. “All’s well that ends well”, as they say………….”Life is Good” as well.
As you may recall, I purchased some Painted Lady caterpillars a while back as a diversion during the state “safer at home” orders during the pandemic. The caterpillars arrived along with their “muck in a cup” (or pre-made food).
After about ten to twelve days, the caterpillars crawled to the top of the cup in which they arrived and started to form the tell-tale sign that they were about to form pupae. The tell-tale sign that signals the beginning of this stage is seen when the caterpillars begin to look like the letter J, as they prepare to bundle up to make a case which is attached to the cup lid by a silk pad they have fabricated. After about twenty-four hours of hanging upside down, the caterpillar skin splits off and exposes a case or pupa.
Seven to ten days later, the painted lady breaks free from its pupa and metamorphisis has been completed. During this stage, the adult structures are formed, and finally the pupa has now turned into a butterfly that needs to dry his wings before he can fly.
Wings dry and harden after about twenty-four hours, and the butterfly continues his life for about two weeks during which the butterfly can travel up to one hundred miles a day at thirty miles per hour. The butterflies can mate around five to seven days after emerging from the cocoon, and the female can lay as many as approximately five hundred eggs in their short life time. Eggs are singly laid on a host plant, such as thistle, mallows, hollyhock, legumes, and others. Once the butterfly reaches the adult stage, their diet includes many nectar plants, such as blazing star, cosmos, New England aster, Joe-pye weed, Mexican sunflower, purple coneflower, and zinnias. They will visit other nectar plants, though, including red clover and milkweed, too.
In our home, when we woke up one morning to find that the first one of our pupae had hatched into a butterfly, there was a great deal of red exudate on the side of the net cage. This exudate is not blood, as many people think, but is meconium, which is waste products of their metamorphic activity.
Shortly after, a second butterfly emerged before we knew it, about a half hour later. We decided to watch the remaining pupae and actually had the good fortune of actually seeing a butterfly emerge from its pupa stage. It was a magic moment, watching life literally unfold before our eyes.
After giving the painted ladies some orange slices and sugar water on a cotton ball on dish in their cage, we decided to let them go free. It was yet another magic moment for us, as my daughter reached inside their cage, and the each butterfly crawled onto her hand in order to be released.
“Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.” -E.B. White
If you are interested in raising butterflies, I would recommend you order a kit with pre-mixed painted lady food to start (“the muck in a cup”). Now that we’ve gotten the butterfly “bug”, we plan to raise butterflies from eggs to caterpillars, then caterpillars to pupae, then pupae to adult butterflies. Each type of butterfly needs a certain host plant to lay eggs upon, but there are often many nectar plants that they will eat from as adults.
Three valuable sources of information and supplies can be found at:
We have been busy gathering a few host plants and many nectar plants for containers around our yard and likely will try malachite butterfly eggs next.
” And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”
Life is good; find something new in some hidden spot that excites you. Carpe diem, friends………
I am always of the mindset that if we don’t like whatever situation we are in, or if we can’t change the situation, we must change our thinking. Changing our thinking puts our life back into our own hands and allows us a choice as to how we proceed. Self- isolating was (and is still) difficult while we cope with the pandemic, so I began to think of all the wonderful ways I could connect with others beyond my narrow little world in the last few months. I really enjoy reading, so I found an on-line book club which met weekly during the pandemic. Although I didn’t love the books we read, it was such a welcome break to speak with others on-line about a shared experience. Talk centered around the book, but also drifted from time to time to how everyone was feeling about the pandemic. Talk continued also about what our experiences were like, which stores were opening, what restaurants were closed, etc…as the United States began to re-open in the last month or so.
The link below contains a small list of on-line book clubs for avid readers that want a shared experience or wish to try something new:
I have found it helpful in my life to exercise my body, to exercise my mind, and to exercise my soul regularly to stay healthy and well, and during this pandemic it was no different.
Life is good; try out something new today to help you cope with the trials and tribulations of the pandemic. That’s been the beauty of the pandemic, if there is any. That is, we all have found new ways to re-connect with others and to what we may have enjoyed in the past. Find a way to change your thinking and come up with a new diversion, too.
Carpe diem, friends……..
(If you belong to an on-line book club, feel free to message me, and I’ll post a link for others to hear about it, too.)
-“The Bare Necessities” song sung by Baloo in “The Jungle Book”
For some reason, I thought about this song yesterday. It has been years since I’ve seen the movie, “The Jungle Book”, yet that song has stuck with me through the years. It’s application is universal and very timely. When I think about the song’s meaning for my own life I am constantly reminded about what’s really important to me. Time with family. Friends. God. Laughter. Health. Food for the mind. Food for the soul. Food for the body. Exercise. Free will. Freedom. Perhaps everything beyond that is a luxury, even certain brands of toilet paper, napkins, or paper towels in this pandemic. Certain brands of hand soap, too. All luxuries. The pandemic has taken us back a bit to examine what is really meaningful in our lives to help us get back to basics. For every drop of rain that falls, as it has been said, a flower really does grow……..
Life is good. Find and think about what your own bare necessities are if you haven’t already.
In my search for finding exciting things to keep myself busy during our continued self-isolation during this Covid pandemic, I remembered how much I enjoyed watching painted lady caterpillars change into butterflies when my daughter was little. We did this a few times in our home and then released the butterflies into the yard. We still have the butterfly net “cage”, so I decided I would clean it out with the recommended ten percent bleach/water solution to raise butterflies again now. There was something indescribable about watching the butterfly life cycle unfold before our eyes. We ordered the caterpillar, watched it eat the food source that it came with, a certain mush-in-a-cup and then watched it turn into a pupa before becoming the butterfly.
I ordered some painted lady caterpillars in the mush-in-a-cup to start with today. They will arrive in just a few days, and I am so very excited. The painted lady caterpillars take one to three weeks to reach the pupa stage, then the pupa takes about ten days to turn into the butterfly.
The painted lady butterfly is orange, black, and white, an impressive sight. These butterflies are very easy to raise without a host plant and often come in “kits” with a food source. Often, this painted lady is the first experience a person has with raising butterflies, as these are the most common in classrooms, kits, etc.
(photo courtesy of Nebraska Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources Cropwatch)
I decided that I wanted to delve a little more deeply into raising butterflies than muck-in-a-cup, so I did a little more research. My favorite butterfly, the Blue Morpho butterfly, isn’t found in these parts of Florida naturally, so it seems like an ecological no-no to raise them for release in my yard. I decided, however, that I wanted to see the WHOLE butterfly life cycle, from egg to caterpillar, then from caterpillar to pupa, then from pupa to butterfly. I also decided that I wanted to raise something other than a common orange butterfly. I found out that the eggs are laid on a certain “host plant” that can be different from butterfly to butterfly. The caterpillar, when it emerges, also eats the host plant with a voracious appetite. Once the butterfly emerges from the pupa stage, it eats things OTHER than the host plant. Some butterflies require nectar from a different plant, some butterflies require sugar water, and some require rotting fruit.
I finally decided that I would raise either the malachite butterfly (green and black butterfly pictured above) or the zebra long winged butterfly, a black and yellowish-white striped butterfly. I learned that the host plant for the malachite butterfly is the green shrimp plant or the Mexican petunia, which was a bit hard to come by in these parts, as both are highly invasive plants in the landscape. I finally found a local supplier for the Mexican petunia, which I plan to keep in a pot in the yard to contain it. I also found a local supplier for the corky-stemmed passion flower, which is the host plant for the zebra long winged butterfly.
I plan to raise the painted lady muck-in-a-cup caterpillars while I grow the host plants for the zebra long winged butterfly and malachite butterfly into sizable plants in the meantime, and I can’t wait to delve into something a little more complicated. I am told it is best to raise the different species of butterflies separately if I have a small cage, so I need to simply decide which one to raise first, then look forward to raising the other species afterward.
On a side note, I was walking with my best friend at a closed outdoor shopping center at an appropriate social distance the other night, discussing how I was looking forward to raising butterflies. I also told her that, if it all went well, I planned on raising some blue butterflies on the first anniversary of my my Mother’s death in October as a special remembrance of her that day. Blue was my Mother’s favorite color, and she would be delighted in hearing all about my new butterfly interest, so it seemed like a good way to keep her memory alive in my heart. My Mother was always interested in hearing all about whatever I was interested in. I told my friend I was having a bit of trouble sleeping this week, as this was my first Mother’s Day without my beautiful Mother, and my heart was a bit heavy from time to time this week. No word of a lie, the song that played on the loud speaker in the closed out door shopping mall just SECONDS after talking to my friend about my Mother and the butterflies caused us both to stop in our tracks and took our breath away…….
“So I put my hands up They’re playing my song, And the butterflies fly away Noddin’ my head like, yeah Movin’ my hips like, yeah I got my hands up, They’re playin’ my song You know I’m gonna be okay……”
-Miley Cyrus, “Party In The USA”
Coincidence? Maybe not. What is true is that I knew my Mother will live in my heart forever, and I really would be okay.
Find and celebrate those moments that take your breath away and stop you in your tracks. Hug those you love while you can. Know also that we all will be okay, no matter what is going on right now in our lives…..
Today, among the pandemic at hand, I still count my blessings. My daughter, “Teen Traveler,” decided she wanted to try something different to break up our Florida stay-at-home orders this past Sunday. “Teen Traveler” is only fourteen, yet she is what I have called an old soul from the moment she was born. She has always been my hundred-year-old woman in this teeny tiny body. I joke to myself that maybe she is even evidence of reincarnation. She is just beginning to enter the world of cooking but decided she wanted to make a several course dinner BY HERSELF because we haven’t been out to a nice restaurant in some time. She decided she would serve pretty simple food attractively in small portions. She is a real “go-getter” to be sure.
She spent a significant amount of time on Saturday planning her menu and thinking about items that could be prepared ahead of time. Of course, as “Graph Guy’s daughter,” she sorted her thoughts onto a spread sheet and list after list, breaking down the task at hand into manageable chunks.
She looked high and low for items around the house, mostly in the craft bin, that she could use as a table decoration, having no access to fresh flowers from a florist. She really wanted to celebrate the spring.
First came the appetizer. She decided she wanted “comfort food” for this pandemic. Nothing like a little tomato bisque soup and a grilled cheese sandwich to meet this goal. That’s my girl: goal set, goal met.
After the first appetizer, she served some sort of tomato stuffed with Mexican meat, beans, and cheese as her “salad” course, which was garnished with a dollop of sour cream and a cilantro leaf.
After the appetizer and salad came the main meal, which was mini Mexican burgers mixed with a blend of brown sugar, cumin, paprika, and chili pepper, attractively served with a pickle, cheese, lettuce, and a cherry tomato on an attractive skewer. “Mexican street corn” was the side dish she made and served in a hollowed out red pepper quarter. She made the burgers herself but “Graph Guy” grilled them for her.
She spent lots of time deciding which dishes to use to create the mood she wanted to create and placed the dishes around the kitchen the night before in the arrangement she liked.
Finally, the desserts were served. She decided she liked the idea of several mini desserts and baked mini red velvet cakes stuffed with a cream cheese frosting and served with a dollop of whipped cream, a drizzle of chocolate syrup, and a piece of Ghirardelli chocolate. She even sprinkled confectioner’s sugar on the cake and plate as an additional garnish. The girl thinks of everything.
Living in Florida, she thought it would be fun to serve something citrus for the other desserts but wanted a different flavor than expected. She decided that lemon and lime might be fun. She made lime crumble with freshly squeezed limes that she squeezed, along with a blueberry lemon crumble. Her piece de resistance, however, was home-made lime sherbert. She had never made home made sherbert, so she needed our help under her leadership, however, to get the old ice cream maker going.
“Teen Traveler” decided that the presentation was as important as the food itself, evidently, and served the home made lime sherbert in a hollowed-out lime.
I can still remember how calmly she served us in the dining room, coming from behind a closed door to the kitchen each and every time. She walked confidently and calmly, making us think she had done this sort of thing her entire life. I will always remember the joy in her eyes when she presented us her savory samples and the creamy confections she had made.
There was joy in our hearts that day. There was joy from being her parents and joy from watching her experiencing her success before our very eyes. So very much for which to be grateful.
Coping with Covid-19 was that day centered around consuming the creamy confections and the meal that my daughter lovingly prepared for us. For the moment, for that sliver in time, all was well in the world, and I will always be grateful for that day that time stood still and there was joy in the moment. There was joy in ALL the moments that day, thanks to my daughter.
It has been said “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade “(Elbert Hubbard). The logical axiom that follows, then, is “If life gives you limes, make lime sherbert!”(Caye Smith)
Life is good. Enjoy the gifts of the day. Carpe diem, friends………
During this time of self-isolation and stay-at-home orders, I try to look for something that makes me smile. During a drive in our town the other evening after dinner, I couldn’t help but notice that the stores that are normally open until nine o’clock or ten o’clock at night, including the grocery stores, were closed right before or right after dusk. I am reminded of growing up in New England when the “Blue Laws” were in effect in a big way and most stores, with the exception of the malls prior to the advent of the big box stores, were closed after dinner to give the shop keepers time to be home with their families. On Sundays, stores were either closed or had very reduced hours because of the “blue laws”, which were designed to restrict or ban some or all Sunday activities for religious or secular reasons, particularly to promote the observance of a day of worship or rest. In fact, until recently in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, the “blue laws” prohibited stores from being open on Thanksgiving or Christmas.
Technically, the state of Rhode Island can still fine a company for making certain employees work on Sunday. Luckily it’s only a maximum fine of ten dollars.
Professional sports, with the exception of hockey and ice polo, need a special license to play on Sundays.
Furthermore, it’s illegal in Providence for a store to sell a toothbrush and toothpaste to the same customer on a Sunday. I’m not sure how or ifTHAT law is enforced at this time though. I can’t even imagine the logistics of that one.
Speaking of petty archaic Rhode Island laws, evidently exercising any labor, business, or work, or using any game, sport, play, or recreation, or causing any of the above to be done to or by your children, servants, or apprentices on the first day of the week (Sunday) results in a penalty of five dollars for the first offense and ten dollars for the second.
Finally, for those of you in the home audience who lose sleep wondering, yes, it is still unlawful in Rhode Island to throw pickle juice on a trolley as well. I’m not even sure the last time Rhode Island had a working trolley.
Thinking of these crazy archaic laws in Rhode Island brings a smile to my face today and reminds me we have come so far in recent years. We have come so far, but I miss the times when the focus of our community was on the family. Admittedly, the nostalgia I feel about the closing of many stores for the time being reminds me of a kinder, gentler time not too long ago.
Life is good. Find something to make you smile today. Remember good times of the past, and look forward to good times in the future. Maybe the best times of our lives are stillahead of us on the horizon. Certainly, better days are ahead but enjoy today while it lasts. THESE might just be the “good old days” for one reason or another….
“I wish somebody would have told me babe Some day, these will be the good old days All the love you won’t forget And all these reckless nights you won’t regret Someday soon, your whole life’s gonna change You’ll miss the magic of these good old days…”
-“Good Old Days” by Macklemore
“…Cause I might be crazy…
I think it’s high time We break out the good wine Raise a glass and say These still are the good old days…”
-“Still the Good Old Days” by James Taylor
“And tomorrow we might not be together I’m no prophet and I don’t know nature’s ways So I’ll try and see into your eyes right now And stay right here ’cause these are the good old days
And stay right here ’cause these are the good old days… (These are the good old days) (These are the good old days) (These are the good old days) (These are the good old days)….”
-“Anticipation” by Carly Simon
Enjoy today; THESE are the good old days. Carpe diem, friends…………..
For many, self-isolation and stay-at-home orders are getting old. VERY old. We all long to get back on with our lives, going places we want to go to, seeing people we want to see. It is true that for our world, these are dark times while we wrestle with the pandemic. Just a reminder, though. Don’t forget to “turn on the light”. Be that bright spot on a dark day.
“Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, when one only remembers to turn on the light.” -Aldous Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
It always amazes what I don’t know that I don’t know. With both a whole wide world and a world wide web around me and with access to a barrage of information at any given point in the day, I am always amazed at what I have missed. When I was in elementary school, we were told that Saturn’s rings were comprised of rock. I’m not sure if we even knew there is a great deal of ice in the rings of Saturn at that time. Evidently a whole lot has happened since then. I knew we had sent several probes to Saturn over the last years, but I somehow missed how much information was gathered during the last exploration of Saturn.
It was in 1979 that we first saw Saturn and just a few of its moons in a series of flyby shots from the Pioneer 11 spacecraft. The images were blurry and not good enough to get information about Saturn’s surface.
In 1980 Voyager I did another flyby of Saturn and some of its moons, giving us much better images. We saw the surface features of some moons and atmosphere.
In 1981, Voyager 2 again showed us some more photos and temperature findings as well. We saw that the rings of Saturn had changed as well.
In was in 1997 that the Titan spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral and carried the Cassini craft that was tasked to find out new information about Saturn, the ringed planet that is the seventh planet away from the sun. In 2002, twenty months from reaching Saturn, the probe captured its first image of Saturn. In 2004, Cassini discovered two new moons around Saturn (Methone and Pallene) to total sixty moons around Saturn. Also in 2004, on June 30, Cassini became the first spacecraft to orbit Saturn, a breathtaking example of technology in action. On January 13, 2005, the unthinkable happened. The Cassini launched a probe, the Huygens probe, which actually landed on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, for seventy-two minutes, which represented the first time, and only time so far, that anything landed on any outer solar system world. Scientists realized that Titan contains large clouds of water vapor above it. Scientists also discovered that there are geysers of liquid water and organic material that burst from another moon, Enceladus, and decided that they are from pockets of water near the surface of that moon. Fascinating discovery. Scientist also discovered (in 2013) that it rains DIAMONDS on Saturn (and Jupiter, too), as the element carbon is present. Evidently when there are lightening storms there, methane is turned into soot which hardens into graphite and finally into diamonds as they fall to the planet. According to the BBC, there are theorized to be about 1000 tons of diamonds created per year on Saturn. Some sources (Nova series, “The Planets: Saturn”, season 46, episode 15) say the size of the diamonds can range from a small speck of dust to the size of a small apartment! This is absolutely amazing to me. On Earth, diamonds form naturally when carbon is buried about one hundred miles below the surface. After being heated to approximately 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and being compacted under pressure of around 725,000 pounds per square inch, it needs to quickly move to the Earth’s surface with magma in order to cool down. What is rare here on Earth is ubiquitous on Saturn.
If you are interested, Saturn is visible in the early morning sky in April, along with Jupiter and Mars, approximately one hour prior to sunrise or just before dawn in the Eastern Sky. You will be able to see Saturn with the naked eye but will need a high powered telescope to see its rings. Today, on April 15, Saturn and our moon will appear close together in the sky from Earth. Normally, Saturn is visible in the evening sky from July to December, which is something to look forward to after our stay at home orders likely will be lifted.
“Shine bright like a diamond Shine bright like a diamond
Find light in the beautiful sea, I choose to be happy You and I, you and I, we’re like diamonds in the sky...”
-“Diamonds” by Rhianna
Try something different. Why not get up early tomorrow to see this wonderful sight in the morning. Find “light in the beautiful sea” and “choose to be happy” during this uncertain pandemic. “Shine bright like a diamond” by helping others, checking in on family and friends, and staying positive during this tough time. Attitude is everything, they say.