My {fence} field of dreams with Kevin Kostner.

Way back in December, when the world was semi-normal we started working on updating much of the landscaping.

I wanted to add in more butterfly-friendly elements. I already had everything set for my monarch, queen, eastern black swallowtails, Giant swallowtails, and gulf fritillary community of flyers, but wanted to add in some more swallowtails to the mix. {why so many links, Suz?}

I have a secret to tell you.

I haven’t shared this with everyone.

I have my very own butterfly guru.

I have only had him since December, but I do adore him. His name is Michael, but I refer to him as my guru. I thought I knew about butterflies but darnittoheck, he knows everything about butterflies.

He told me I needed to plant pipevine; I’d read about the pipevine prior and I did want it, so no arm twisting was involved.

He said if you plant this THEY WILL COME!

Perhaps less ominous-sounding in real life.

He brought over two pipevine plants. Hmmm…they, they look like a regular vine. So far, nothing to wet myself over.

But, can you just plant them in the ground?

Hell to the no.

This is a special vine that needs special equipment; it needed a professionally designed and installed espalier. 

Did you know that there are people on the planet that their job is to design and install these?

Kind of reminds me that I need to blog about the guy who injects our palms; he’s a professional palm injector.

Now that I say that out loud, it sounds dirty.

I digress.

Here are my baby pipevines back in December on their custom espalier.

Then a few months later.

This is the weird bloom it makes.

My eyes have seen a lot of things, but they ain’t seen nothing like that…see how I slipped into my southern drawl? 

Do you remember health class in school? Is that an ovary or a fallopian tube? 

Again, I’m off track.

The pipevine attracts different types of swallowtails depending on where you live; in SW Florida, it attracts the polydamas swallowtail.  Which, I swear I have NEVER seen in person.

Not sure why I have to swear so much but it feels good.

Unknown
Polydamas pic borrowed from UF/IFAS

So, I’ve been training my vine every few days; I move the growing vines around the wires to keep them attached as they grow.

Remember training bras?

This is nothing like that I just wondered if you remembered those.

When I’m out there doing my training, I can hear Michael, aka the Guru, saying “if you plant this, THEY.WILL.COME.”  He doesn’t even look like Kevin Costner, but he’s in my head.

The other day I went out for my training, and guess what.

Wait, did you hear a sudden high pitched squeal around noon Eastern time on Thursday?

IMG_3861
Max is such a poser.
IMG_3858

I have polydamas babies!

I wanted to shout it from the rooftop that I have eggs and larvae thriving on my vine.

But, our roof is really tall, I struggle with vertigo and it’s hot outside, so a blog post will have to suffice.

I was so excited I almost wet my pants. Which really, at this stage isn’t unusual.

BTW: spellcheck wants me to change the name to polygamous. Weirdos. 

So, that was my exciting butterfly news for last week.

Life is good in my butterfly world and that makes all the hard to swallow pills easier.

XOXO

I’m certified and I’m finished.

My gardens are officially certified.
And you thought I was just certifiable.

Notice my Monarch model; he approved the signage.

Bona-fide.
Authorized.
To be prized.
I’m rambling here.

I wish I could ditch the electrical boxes and irrigation stuff off the walls, but electricity and irrigation are essential to me.
Also, this is the side of our house, not the front. The front is prettier. But don’t tell the sides and back; they’ve never met.

I’m sure the signs will lure even more butterflies to my lair.

I really try to keep my posts short and sweet so I don’t lose anyone, but I never know where exactly to stop.

Stop here? 

Maybe stop here?

Nope.more.to.chatter.about

The puzzle is finished.

Can I stop talking about that damn puzzle already? 
No. I can not.

I know, you were probably not sleeping a minute wondering how I was doing with it; it’s finally done and yes, I was missing two pieces. MAX!!

I complained to Linds that it was hard to do because my right arm hurt so much.

Linds: Do it with your left arm.

Why do my children use logic against me?

When I was finished, I wrote a note on the box for my future self or someone else’s future self that two pieces are missing and I sharpied the spots on the box.

If my arm felt better, I’d pat myself on the back for that.

Actually, my arm is feeling a bit better. Thank you all for your wonderful advice; it’s appreciated.
Also, icing it a few times a day has been awesome and something I didn’t think to do before. *duhh*
It’s no picnic being me.

NOW, I’m done.

Kidding.

Does anyone have plans for the weekend?

Suzanne, that was cruel and uncalled for.

Oh, wait.
One more thing.

Our marina has opened back up (with VERY limited contact) so the Coach is excited to get on his boat and go fishing tomorrow. He’s been working a lot and being home with me a lot.
He needs some fun because I can only entertain him so much; that wasn’t a part of our vows.

I DO wish you all a nice weekend doing something you enjoy with people that you can semi-stand being around.
I consider myself fortunate in that way.
I never thought to ask my husband how he felt about it.
Probably just as well…

Bee good
Bee silly
Bee well

XOXO

butterfly lessons and denial

When I was vlogging about my obsession, need, want of the Giant Swallowtails, I assumed everyone knew what they were. Here is what they look like, and they really are large compared to other butterflies.
You know size doesn’t matter, big, small, tall, thin, they’re all beautiful. That was me remembering that butterflies might read this and have body issues. 

Underside of the Giant.

And when they want to hide from the butterfly po-po.

Topside of the Giant

It’s like they are two different critters when sitting as opposed to flying.
Giant swallowtail butterfly images borrowed from here.  They love citrus trees/plants.

Aren’t they gorgeous?

I’ve had some luck with the Eastern black swallowtail; they love parsley, dill, and fennel, which I have growing in the garden.

This boy was released a few weeks ago:

I have to be more diligent in collecting the baby larvae of these because if not, the birds eat them before I can save them.

The birds act like I don’t have food for them; the feeder is always full and still, they want to eat caterpillars. Pretty freaking rude if you ask me.

I’ve released about 25 monarchs this week and I’m going to be forced to slow down because my milkweed can’t grow fast enough with the last batch or four of caterpillars.

I’ve got the whole world in my hand

The world might be falling apart, but here is Suz running around the yard playing with butterflies.
Denial is my favorite place to be. Oh, and Home…home and denial are my favorite places.

Any plans for the weekend? A concert? Shopping at the mall? Moving from the bed to the couch? 
XOXO

She Vlogs again; I finally got what I wanted. Spoiler alert, it’s not a baby dolphin. This time

What day are we on for quarantine? 6, 7, 58? 


I’m so thankful for a large yard that I can wander around to get some fresh air; it makes me less sassy. Can you imagine? 

When I was a kid, both my Dad and his Dad were always (when not working) in the yard; planting, trimming, watering, growing stuff.

I always thought that was just what old people do.

And.here.I.am. 

Happy Tuesday.
So, tacos tonight? 

{virtual} XOXO

A few big things

I’ve been so busy with home/party/holiday/medical stuff and I feel like December is trying to crush me.
And not the kind of crush that makes you wear lip gloss 24/7.
But in the words of the great Gloria Gaynor: I will survive.

I just wanted to drop a few big things here on the blog.

My kale. (planted 8 weeks ago)
DaYuMMMM, it’s big.

And it’s also delicious sauteed with some garlic.

We’re still working on our landscaping and I have a butterfly whisperer helping me out. He’s eons ahead of me with butterfly knowledge. I mean he uses real names for them and not ‘that big yellow one with spots on it’ and has chosen some great plants; there is going to be a butterfly orgy when it’s all said and done. Rated R for Ridiculous!

Look at the (BIG) size of this pipevine flower. Have you ever seen anything like this?

Well, now that I think of it, it resembles something I might have seen in health class.
This pipevine will attract the elusive (to me) polydamas swallowtail. If you hear some loud screeching soon, it’s me finally seeing one in person!
Did you just roll your eyes and call me dramatic? 




I started to put up Christmas decorations and it was all good until I realized that I loathe my Christmas tree. I used to love it, but after the last 4 years of it losing sections of lights here and there, I declared that we are going to break up.
The new (unlit) tree is ordered, just trying to figure out what to do with old tree to avoid the landfill.
I’ve had two different Dr. appointments this week (it’s only Wednesday) with two Orthopedics. I’m gonna just say that 52 is the age that my body is starting to turn on me. (knees & elbow/arm)
But again, I will survive. Thank you, Gloria.

We have a full weekend of fundraisers/parties and house guests.
Then I have two weekends of hosting parties; personal and our business party for employees. And I think Christmas is a minute after that.
And then someone has her 24th birthday. Spoiler alert, it’s not me, hence the Dr. appointments.

I’m really not complaining because life is beautiful and I’m fortunate enough to have alll these plans. Also, we have health insurance. I’m gonna blame the orthopedic issues on something that one of my ancestors did in the past that I’m now paying for karma-wise. 😉
Thank you great-great-great-grandfather for doing something unkind to another person. You fart blossom you.
That made me chuckle; I love calling someone a fart blossom. Even if they’re no longer with us.

So, how are my people? Anything positive that you can share with me?
Sharing is caring.

XOXO

Ingesting the good herbs {I rue the day!}

I’m sure you remember a few weeks ago when I found my first swallowtail caterpillars on my overgrown fennel. I mean, what else could you have been thinking about all this time?
Well, I raised and released about 8-10 of those beauties. They’re so different from monarchs; very unpredictable. My Monarchs, in chrysalis form, cook for only 9-10 days.


Eastern black swallowtail chrysalis-they look like mini alligators, because Florida. They create their own ‘girdle/sling’ that holds them at a desired angle. Nature is cra-cra!

Some of the swallowtails took 10-20 days to become butterflies, but I still have several in chrysalis form.
They could be like that for over a year.
A YEAR. 
I’d never heard of such a thing. They come out when they want….like they have NO schedule whatsoever.
Just willy nilly with this beginning of life thing.
As if I have nothing else to do but wait around for them. I have THINGS to do.
I liken it to those 35-year-olds living with Mom and playing Xbox for a living.
Grow up and get out there.

Anyhoo, I wasn’t finding many more swallowtail cats on my fennel, so I ran to my local nursery (not Lowes or HD because they use pesticides on ALL plants, even herbs and for that I hate them) to get some parsley, dill, and rue. Swallowtails love those herbs. They might like the Mary Jane herb too, but I’m not going there.
I’m still flying my Blue Line flag in the front yard y’all, as well as obeying the law.
Well, most laws. Is it against the law to floss your teeth while driving? Asking for a friend.
Wait, what was I saying?
Oh-I found a few nice parsley plants and rue. Honestly, who uses rue? I’ve never had anything with rue in it in my life, but I bought the cute little plant to attract some beauties. And also, now I can pick up the plant and spout out: I RUE THE DAY I MET YOU!
I really wish I’d been offered drama class in high school.

The plants sat on my garage counter for a few days before I took them outside. I don’t even bother putting these types of things in the ground now as the caterpillars will eat them so quickly and then I put the devoured potted plants (mostly milkweed) that are down to the nubs on the screened lanai so they can recover and swap them out again. It’s a whole song and dance with me, which is how I get most of my cardio.
So when I went to deposit these newest plants outside, I realized they already had eggs and some larvae on them. I got a two-fer. They came with swallowtail caterpillars and I didn’t have to wait for the Mama Swallowtail to come to lay eggs; I had a head start.
WINNING.

This baby is probably 5-6 days old here. 

And then it happened. I had a realization. I get them every once in a while.
My jaw dropped when I put it all together.

I bought a parsley plant that had butterfly babies on it.
How many times in our lives have we eaten dill, parsley and (one of you) rue and we (you, me, JoeBob and BettyLou) have unknowingly eaten an egg or caterpillar? How many times do you think?

I’m thinking at least 43 times.

I know for sure I’ve felt butterflies in my belly THAT many times and now it alllll makes sense. 
How about you? Butterflies in your belly? Beuller? Beuller?  It’s all the rue, boo. 


XOXO

Expanding my butterfly business.

Last fall when I was putting in my veggie garden I decided to add in dill and fennel hoping to attract the elusive Swallowtail. I see them randomly in my yard. As in randomly rare. And I love them.

A few weeks ago I noticed that my Fennel plants were 6 feet tall and an absolute mess with no eggs/babies in sight.  *sigh*

I finally went out yesterday and started cutting them down and tossing pieces into my compost bin when I noticed an elusive caterpillar. Thank goodness I don’t have neighbors too close because they might have thought I’d lost my mind. I shrieked in delight!
I pulled out all the pieces and then went to the ‘still a mess of plants’ to discover a plethora of swallowtail caterpillars.

MY DAY WAS MADE!

I ran in and googled How to Raise Swallowtails and voila-I was an instant professional swallowtail mom.

I didn’t bring them all inside at first, but later on when I was cleaning up from dinner I could see a male cardinal hopping around my fennel-surely he was feasting on my new babies. I went out and shooed him away and then rescued any I could find. *phew* Damn bird should stick to the feeders I have for he and his family.

I’ve ordered a much larger tent for them, but for now they’re using a smaller monarch tent and some are residing on my craft table. I hope they don’t run off before Amazon gets here with their new home.

 

There’s quite a variety of swallowtail in SW Florida, but I think these are the Black or Eastern Black flavor. I’ll know in a few weeks if my guess is correct or not. Stay tuned.

Not Suz’s photography



Have you found anything that made you shriek out loud lately?