Tuesday, August 04, 2015

The Season's First Butterfly

Today Robb released the first Anise Swallowtail to emerge from its chrysalis. 

Clearly, we need to move the butterfly tank outdoors, so that Robb isn't stuck herding confused butterflies out of our pantry window. 

Saturday, August 01, 2015


Back in 2012, I planted my odd little collection of slightly sad fig trees in the narrow strip of ground that separates our house from the neighbors' driveway. 

Since then, California has been suffering through a multi-year drought. Keeping any garden plants healthy has been a struggle. Robb and I have tried to re-use as much of our household water as possible. We capture our laundry water in a re-purposed winebarrel, and use that water on our lawn. Dishes get cleaned in a washbasin, and that water goes directly out the kitchen window. 

This prompts me to make the following observations:

It's very obvious which fig plants are nearest the sink, and which are under the dining room windows. 

Robb has been doing a lovely job, re-pointing and re-painting our 1920s windows. 

And finally, our neighbors must think we're total lunatics, every time we chuck a basin of dishwater out the window. 

Friday, July 24, 2015


Once again, Robb and I are raising Anise Swallowtail caterpillars, in the hopes that they will thrive and transform themselves into butterflies. 

We haven't seen as many caterpillars as usual on our fennel plants, so this year I've been bringing foliage with eggs attached in to our butterfly hatchery. Robb and I figure that by bringing them inside, we protect them from predation. 

At this moment, we have one chrysalis, one caterpillar who is in the writhing process of attaching itself to a branch in preparation for turning into a chrysalis, and a variety of caterpillars in various stages of growth.

To me, this is a truly magical process. 


I was walking with my friend Emma, when she spotted this jeep. Crammed with layer upon layer of pea sprouts. 

What wonderfully odd things have you stumbled upon lately?

Monday, July 06, 2015

One Stitch Follows Another

It's been a while since I've posted to the blog. I had gotten myself into the stupid mindset of thinking that I had to write something truly momentous, and so of course, I wrote nothing at all. 

I'm going to cut myself some slack, and not worry so much about perfection. I'm going to give myself permission to use unedited cellphone photos, because I'd gotten a bit hung-up on only posting "real" photographs. 

What is it they say?  

Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien.

Thursday, April 16, 2015



For the last few summers, Robb and I have collected the Anise Swallowtail caterpillars that we find on our fennel, and raise them in our pantry.  This keeps them safe from hungry birds, and other predators.  The caterpillars eat voraciously, and form chrysalises quite quickly.

After that, it's anyone's guess how long it will take for the butterflies to emerge.  Most come out in a few weeks, but some overwinter.  We need the space, so we don't keep a tank of chrysalis-encrusted twigs in our pantry all winter.  We stick them in a flowerpot in the garden, and hope for the best.

On March first, I was watering my plants when I noticed this butterfly, freshly emerged from it's cocoon.  It was unfurling its wings and gaining strength.  It was a lovely surprise on a beautiful spring morning.

*  *  *  *  *

Blog readers who haven't abandoned us must be wondering when Robb and I are going to emerge from our blog-stasis.  In truth, we've been hugely busy, and I've been simply too tired to write about any of what's going on.

And this week, I'm also sick as hell with laryngitis, and what's probably bronchitis.  My physical state is not particularly enchanting at the moment.

But at some point, I'll re-emerge.  And I'll write about all the lovely things that have been going on.  

But it may take a little while.


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