Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. Thomas Merton

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Buns at Rest

A couple of shots of Gabby and Matilda chillin' in the bunny pen. The other two wouldn't be still long enough to photograph.

The grassy areas in the pens are just about gone from hopping and munching and dry weather these last few weeks, but the dirt makes a cool place to relax.

I find it interesting that the color of Matilda's points varies through the weeks. Always darker after a molt, they fade to pale gray before she begins another one. Not having done much research on Californians, I don't know if this is a usual trait of the breed or if it is possible that she is not purebred. At any rate, she is a lovely, large, pink-eyed bunny with a mind of her own and quite dear to me, although she does have a bit of bunitude now and then. Then there's Gabby, a Britianna Petite mix--just too cute, but not the most sociable bunny. Her bunitude abounds, but you gotta love her.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Monarch Journey

I could not find the larger of the two monarch caterpillars yesterday morning. I found that the smaller one had shed its skin and took that as a good sign. My son came out onto the front porch as I was looking for the bigger one and told me that there was a caterpillar on one of the chairs. Since it was attached to the chair arm and beginning to go into the "J" position to form the chrysalis, I decided to leave it alone and put some cord on the chair to keep people from sitting in it. I was really looking forward to watching the rest of the metamorphosis.

I was surprised to find it on the chair because I had already covered the milkweed with tulle after finding the caterpillar under one of the leaves. I wondered how it had managed to get from the plant to the chair. I did leave a small portion of the plant uncovered a few inches from the ground. The caterpillar would have to crawl across the flowerbed, up the brick, across the porch, and up onto the arm of the chair. One of the black swallowtail caterpillars had done a similar escape act from the butterfly cage I'd made earlier in the summer and made its way up to a plant hanger hook at the top of the porch, but it only had to crawl up the length of the cage to the hook where the cage was hanging. I've never had them do this before.

This photo gives you an idea of the journey the caterpillar made from the milkweed to the chair. PetCat contemplates the caterpillar's journey, too.

Unfortunately, later when I returned home around 2:00 in in the afternoon, I discovered that the caterpillar was not doing so well. It was limp and had straightened out. I feared the worst. I checked it out as best I could and was not hopeful. I left it overnight and by morning was certain that it was dead.

I removed it from the arm of the chair and put it under some mulch near the base of the milkweed plant. I have been unsuccessful in locating the smaller caterpillar this afternoon and have not spotted any smaller (or larger) ones on either of the plants. Perhaps others will hatch and grow into butterflies to make the flight to Mexico.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Quick! Grab the Tulle and a Camera!

When I went out this morning to see if the little monarch caterpillar was still there, I didn't see it at first and was disappointed that something had gotten it before I could get tulle over the milkweed plant. However, I was determined to search the plant and was delighted when I finally found not one, but two caterpillars. The one my daughter had spied last night was hiding on the underside of a leaf and there was a smaller one under another leaf on a different stalk. The sun was quite bright and it was difficult to see (should have grabbed my sunglasses, but time was short, so I squinted), but it appeared that there were some eggs on a few other leaves. As usual, the camera on the cell phone in my pocket was the closest available photographic device.

This isn't the greatest shot (click to enlarge), but I was in a hurry to get the tulle over the milkweed before any marauding wasps or other critters could get to the caterpillars. I had to get ready for work, so my time was limited.

Oops! In my hurry to get things finished and get ready for work, I cut the top off the milkweed in this shot. You get the idea. There is another milkweed plant in the flowerbed on the other side of the porch, but I didn't really have time to look closely for caterpillars. I decided it would be better to leave that one uncovered for any monarchs that might come by looking for a snack. This is the first year I've planted milkweed and I'm not sure how many caterpillars my limited supply can sustain, but perhaps I can save a few from predators so that they can mature and make the trip down to Mexico. I don't think I have anything on the agenda in the morning, so I hope to have more time to look for caterpillars and eggs before going to work.

I'd like to give my daughter a big thank you for spotting that caterpillar last night. You got some good eyes, Girlie Girl!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Monarch Caterpillar!!

My daughter was at the house late (past midnight) and as she was leaving, spied a caterpillar on the milkweed in the flower bed at the front porch (see the post for 9/12 just below this one). I couldn't see well because I didn't have my glasses on and the only light source was from the front porch light. It appeared to be a monarch caterpillar. I just checked it out on Google and, yep, that's what it is. I'm excited! I just hope it's still there in the morning so that I can try to get a photo. Here are a few links (hope they work).
(there's a video you can watch featuring an extremely hungry caterpillar)

Sunday, September 12, 2010


I finally managed to get a photo of a monarch in the yard. This one was flitting around the milkweed and it took me several attempts to get a shot.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Life with Cats

Just a few ways that cats are useful

Helping at work

(Drechmacher, the museum cat, at Chucalissa, early 80's)


(Twinkie snuggling in the blanket, 2009)

Keeping an eye on things

(Stormy in the backyard, 2009?)

Decorating the Christmas Tree

(Twinkie, Christmas 2009)

Helping at home

(Pants and John fold laundry, 2009)


(Pants snoozing on the blanket, 2009)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Back to the Salt Mines

Started a new job on Monday. That's me in the right foreground. Kind of kookie hours, but I can't complain after having been unemployed for 18 months. Besides, my normal routine (routine? what's that?) is pretty kookie, anyway, so it's really pretty much a fit for me. Best part is no standing for long hours at a stretch (my arthritic hip is thankful), no digging square holes in the ground and screening heavy loads of dirt for artifacts (again, my hip thanks me), and I get paid (my bank account thanks me). Worst part is that it cuts into the time I have to spend enjoying everyone's blogs and tending to my own. Well. . . could be worse.

Cigar factory workers 1927; RenBoggio at photobucket (