A place for family and friends to see what I'm up to. Visitors welcome here.

Hail Guest, we ask not what thou art.
If Friend, we greet thee, hand and heart.
If Stranger, such no longer be.
If Foe, our love will conquer thee.
-Old Welsh Door Verse

Saturday, September 29, 2012

...its only seed.

I never get tired of the message of this song and I never hear it without crying.  Christopher Maloney's brilliant performance is the most powerful I've ever seen or heard.

And produced the most tears.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Birdsong and Butterflies

What a morning!

My son took the dog in with him last night, which gave me a morning without sunrise visits to the lawn.  I don't mind them, really.  I had one yesterday.

Not too shabby a way to start my day.
But today was special.  Quiet here.  I had been wakeful during the night (some good stuff growing to pleasure in) so had a hard time waking up to the alarm.  Don't usually mind waking up to Jim Brickman's "Harvest" but this morning Jim got snoozed.  When I did finally wake up enough to take a look around, I noticed that the monarch crysalis that has been hanging on one of my candle holders (a rescue from the bottom of the big bowl I usually raise the butterflies in) was black.
This is exciting!  I got closer to take a good look and indeed I could see orange and black wings tucked in there.  In fact, when I looked closer, I realized the shape of the crysalis had changed, too.
I've hatched dozens of butterflies over the last few years, but have never actually seen one emerge from its crysalis.  I set up my camera, and tucked in to witness one of the Universe's miracles.
There is a fairy garden outside my window.  Over the two hours that it took this Monarch to emerge the garden was visited by a family of goldfinches, still in breeding plumage.  The bright yellow papa bird perched on the tall shoots of "Cecile Bruner. " I wished I had an extra camera to snap his portrait, bouncing the sunlight off his matching chest against today's bright blue sky.  Next I watched a small "flock" (four birds) of mourning doves land in the tree on the back property line.  Occasionally they will visit the fairy garden to see if the goldfinches have dropped any seed on the ground, but today I was happy to enjoy watching them climb along the tree branches.  A hummingbird flew through, stopping long enough to nag me through the window screen to refill her feeder, and a scruffy young mockingbird stopped for a few seconds on the top of the passion vine trellis to see what all the excitement was about.
The Monarch did finally break out of her shelter, but it wasn't as I had always imagined.  I thought it would be a bursting out, but instead it was a slow, gradual ripping.  I noticed the first holes a good hour before she actually, finally split the shell in several places and rolled out.  I left the camera to record until the battery gave out. 
I rarely have quiet times like this, when I force myself to be still.  It gave me time to reflect back and to see how different I am now than I was just three years ago.  Three years ago I frequently woke in tears, asking myself "What the hell happened to my life?"  It has been almost exactly three years since the first domino was toppled and I landed - with help - to toddle along a new path.  Three years.  A stack of books a yard high.  New friends to love.  And to love me.  Such a gift these years have been.
It's time to release him.  He has about three weeks to make his life as good as it can be.  How lucky we are to have years to accomplish the same.  Three years, and I am very different.  My life, though it seems the same from the outside, has completely changed for me on the inside.  If there are tears in the morning now, they are tears of gratitude for what I have been given.
All morning a melody was floating through my mind.  I finally recognized it from a summer drama production my brother played drums in while in high school.
Who will buy
This wonderful morning?
Such a sky
You never did see!
Who will tie
It up with a ribbon
And put it in a box for me?
So I could see it at my leisure
Whenever things go wrong
And I would keep it as a treasure
To last my whole life long.
Who will buy
This wonderful feeling?
I'm so high
I swear I could fly.
Me, oh my!
I don't want to lose it
So what am I to do
To keep the sky so blue?
There must be someone who will buy...

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Friday, September 21, 2012


My son has pulled together a magical trio.  I am so excited to see him following his passion, and to see things come together.  His calendar for this week is filled with opportunities to work with fine musicians.

Happy man.  Happy mom.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


My son is a happy man.  Drumming for Mike Gangemi and the Lane 29 Orchestra again.  It's been nine years.  Both sons played with Mike and they were the best times of MY life.

I'm almost as happy the band is up again as he is.  Rehearsing for a fundraiser this Sunday.  Westlake High School, Westlake Village, SoCA.  Lane 29 will play 4-5 PM.  If you're in the neighborhood, come by and rock it with us.

Cannot wait.

My son...

...doing what he does best.

Jazz drums.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

More Butterfly News...

...good for a laugh.

Here's what's left of the potted milkweed.  Fortunately, a good chomping acts like a good pruning and it should all come back even better than before.  Sadly, there were a few little cats that didn't get enough to eat and didn't survive.  But I was able to rescue a handful that I brought into the house.

It was my weekend with my Mom.  I went to her place directly after school Friday, spent the night and got home tonight (Saturday) about nine.  Lots of jewels.

Happily, I have lots of seed and a promise of a stack of pots from a friend.  Going to sow more tomorrow.  I'm looking forward to a "field" of pots full of milkweed by the time they come back through in the spring.  Meanwhile, things are going to get real colorful here in a few days.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Butterfly Farm


It's been a while since I posted about the butterflies.  I started with one tropical milkweed plant that - as tropical milkweed does - seeded the yard.  My son got the bug (pun intended) and declared to his girlfriend (who was helping us weed) that milkweed is sacred and allowed to grow wherever it wants to.  Since then I've added two varieties of passion vine for the frittilaries and a Dutchman's Pipe for the Pipevine Swallowtail (and I've had violets, host food for the little blues, for years).  But my first and still biggest love are the Monarchs, and we're ending our summer with the biggest crop ever.

This could get ugly.
Fresh sprig was gone in minutes.

New babies.  The giant finger is my pinkie.  It is touching the leaf.

Part of our first crop potted from intentionally sown seed.  Each plant had 2-4 baby cats.

Once I see a cat I cut a couple of sprigs of milkweed and bring it in the house, where we can enjoy the show as the babies make their way to the pupae stage in this bowl.  Eventually the butterflies emerge and are released back into the yard.
At this point I think there were nine in the bowl, but every time I cut a piece of milkweed and checked it for eggs, I found babies.

The last time I checked the bowl I counted nineteen cats in sizes ranging from about 1/2 inch to a full 2 inches and ready to pupate.  I had to give up bringing the baby caterpillars in.  At least outside they can migrate from plant to plant to forage.  I can only fit so much milkweed in the bowl at one time.
My son and I are excited to get started planting a variety of milkweed (mostly native California varieties) from seed in the coming year.  It may develop into a small business to encourage Monarch support, or we may just continue to have fun with it all.
Last year I read a self-help book on finances that asked me to reflect on times that I felt prosperous.  This summer, as I've worked (played?) with these beautiful, peaceful creatures I realized that I have felt prosperous every time I've found one of these caterpillars in my garden.  As if the Universe has seen fit to gift me with one of its most precious treasures.
And when I release a newly emerged butterfly back to the flowers, I feel privileged to share a connection with the ages.
September 11.  My son was living in Brooklyn that year.  He went to school and taught in Manhattan and his fiance worked near the Empire State Building.  That day was the most terrifying in my life.
But rather than commemorate the day with a post about politics or anger or fear, I choose to share beauty and love and peace.  Butterflies stun with their beauty as they serve as pollinators. 
Small acts of kindness to nurture nature.
We should be so generous.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Practical Magic - Sally's letter to Gilly

Today was the bi-monthly overnight with my Mom.  Friday evening dinner at Red's, Saturday with Mom and my sister.  Sis is a Mary Kay consultant and is kicking it up several notches so could only spend a couple of hours with us, but that's OK.  It was great to see her excited and to watch the Universe dropping things into place for her.

We got to talking about desert island stuff.  You know, the "if I was lost on a desert island and could only have one..." conversation.   Most days my make-up routine begins and ends with skin care and a flick of mascara, so I guess the mascara would be my desert island cosmetic (although Sis argued that she didn't think I'd keep my sanity without my Suncare lip protector; she's probably right.)

Anyway, my desert island movie would be Practical Magic.  I watched it the other day and loved it just as much as the other gazillion times I've watched it. 

Especially Sally's letter...

...But still, sometimes when the wind is warm or the crickets sing I dream of a love that even time will lie down and be still for. I just want someone to love me. I want to be seen.