A Beautiful, Very Dead, Moth

“Who could look at these pictures and not believe in God?” my Muslim friend asked. My Christian friend had expressed a similar idea as a statement. I wasn’t going to disagree with either one.

Figure 1: Digital Color Photo of Moth Body: The wing was pulled off, stuck onto an electron microscope stage, and coated with palladium.

Indeed! Insects are always interesting to look at in a scanning electron microscope. But the beauty of this dead moth far exceeded my expectations.

I save dead bugs when I see them, for educational purposes. This poor moth had been sitting around for quite a while, before I decided it’s time had come.

Figure 1 shows the moth in question, after I had broken off one of its outer wings, and taped it down to an electrically conductive specimen holder (aluminum) and sputter coated it with palladium to render it electrically conductive. A kindof boring motley brown, but surprising orange and white on the hidden pair of wings.

The moth wing was also surprising in how soft it felt when I broke it off.

If you zoom in to Figure 1, taken with a Olympus Tough Gear 5 digital camera, in microscope mode, you can see that the individual scales have different colors. This camera is currently available on Canon’s website for $500.00. It can do a lot of things. It will also take me a while to make it do what I want! (It’s pretty complicated.)

Figures 2 – 4 show additional views, obtained with my scanning electron microscope, at magnifications up to 6000x. But it is still impossible for me to tell if the “holes” are empty, or filled with a thin film of some sort.

Figure 2: Center of length of the wing
Figure 3: Note scalloped scale edges.
Figure 4: Note lacy structure. Are the holes empty or filled with some thin film?

Figure 5 shows the pointed end of the wing, where it used to be attached to the rest of the body.

Figure 5: The wing at the “shoulder” attachment point.

 

The different shapes of the feathery scales are beautiful. Figures 6 and 7 show how the scales are attached to the underlying shell of the insect.

Figure 6: Detail of how the individual scales are attached to the shell of the insect.
Figure 7: Broken off scale. How like a leaf!

I don’t know the cause of death of the moth. I found it whole, so maybe it simply came to the end of its life span. I’ll never know. But I honor the moth, the miraculous world we live in, and the “ugly beauty” of this plain insect.

The Doorway of No Return

This was written in response to a prompt in my writing group Thursday:

A doorway of no return…..

I have also been thinking of the superior philosophy brought to my attention by Vivekananda: “You are all children of bliss!”

How much better to believe this than the horrible sickness of the belief of original sin perpetrated on the West by Augustine, a lie that Jesus never taught, and before him, that the Jews never believed.

I have been wanting to let my fictional wise woman, Merwegon, who I invented for my currently failed “Moses of Kosbar” science fiction book, share more wisdom with us through the channels of my keyboard and prepared mind. Merwegon and her people are beings with two arms, two legs, two wings, who have a whole body language. Sounds for communication come through their mouths, noses, and special tubes on the sides of their heads, and these sounds are supplemented by waves of their wing tips.

Not so strange. Humans do the same thing. When traveling in Italy years ago, it hit me that everyone on the bus must be deaf, as there was so much expressive hand waving, I thought, at first, that they were all using sign language.

Merwegon Says:

Every doorway is a doorway of no return. As you can’t step twice in the same river, you can’t come back through the door you entered. This is self evident truth. If you think about it, you will see that first of all, the you that walked through the door has breathed and assimilated new air molecules, and some of your feather tips have broken away. Perhaps more importantly, either new neural connections are forming in your brain, or old ones are becoming more persistent. Even with neither action nor inaction on your part, the waves of your thoughts, emotions, and actions are ever spreading out from you, as those of every other center of consciousness spreads out from it. Each of us thus affects each other of us. These waves of consciousness affect beings regardless of their level or type of consciousness. The rock affects me as I affect the rock. What bliss it is to know this. It is the foundation for the ultimate understanding of our true place in the multiverse.

Some say the paths of the planets, moons, even stars and galaxies were set by mindless action, on random paths. I say no, I don’t believe so. Usually I, Merwegon, refrain from using the word believe. I prefer to think about things before I flap my communication outlets. Then I can say I think. If it’s only a feeling, I try to keep it to myself. In other words, until I have subjected the content of the impending communication to epistemological scrutiny, I refrain from intentional broadcasting.

Should someone be exceedingly interested in my thoughts, they may simply tune in to the waves of the Akashic Record, and read for themselves. If they haven’t yet developed that skill to such a degree, they have no business knowing my personal thoughts or feelings.

As I was saying, I don’t believe that the planets, moons, stars and galaxies were set by mindless action, on random paths. No. These planets, moons, stars and galaxies have sought out an intermediate stable motion state, on their way from outward impetus given them by The Big Bang, toward the first Black Hole they encounter a gravity pull from. Here’s where the science ends and I am forced to admit my belief. That Black Holes may be worm holes into a new Universe. Our scientists refuse to acknowledge that possibility, even though surely there’s nothing telling us it is impossible, and it would explain a lot of things, were it true.

The real reason that scientists have any foundation on which to stand when stating that all supposedly dead matter is mindless, is to ensure that we don’t have answers to every question. For it is the unanswered questions that drive us to continue to seek.

Chrysalis Has Turned Dark

Butterfly’s orange and black wing pattern is now visible.

It won’t be long now!

Arrows show orange and black butterfly wing pattern through the now milky chrysalis.

High resolution version without the ugly arrows is shown below. The chrysalis seems to be sweating everywhere now. Note the profiles of the beads of “sweat” on the edges of the chrysalis as viewed here.

Arrows show orange wing pattern through the now milky chrysalis.

The monarch chrysalis is not only the archetypal symbol of transformation, it is the archetypal symbol of MYSTERY. Mystery has sometimes gotten a bad rap. It comes from parents and other authority figures acting like there is some reason other than their own personal preference as to why someone under their sway should do things the way the authority wants. That’s BS, to be “polite.” But there are enough real mysteries, and how a fat, slow moving, ever pooping caterpillar becomes a beautiful, weightless, never-know-where-it-will-be-in-a-second butterfly is one. Science has shed some light. There are microscopic life forms that carry the waste products out of the chrysalis and help air to diffuse in to the inner core of the insect’s body. But ultimately, even if we have all the DNA code, it’s a mystery, of the kind that drives curiosity, wonder, learning, and love.

Chrysalis Day 11

Monarch Butterfly Chrysalis Day 11

Note the symmetry of the gold (secretions) and clear (water?) beads. Can you see the water droplets where it looks like the eyes might be forming?

The miracle of life! The joys of a close up camera lens… I found these bugs on the glass door to my office on June 26, 2011. So we are pretty seasonal here.

Who knows what these bugs are? But they are doing what they were made to do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Detail of the loving couple.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EIGHT HOURS LATER, they were still on the door, but had apparently had enough of such intimacy.

Enough is enough!

 

 

 

 

 

2011 was a good year for bugs on my office door. I named this on “linoleum bug” since it’s pattern reminded me of said floor covering. Look at the shape of the head. Compare to what is visible toward the downward hanging end of the monarch chrysalis. Maybe two the gold spots are for antennae.

Head Shot: We think of beetles as hard shelled, and this kindof looked like some sort of beetle to me, but the color patches look more like feathers from up close. Note the blue rim at its “neck.”

 

 

 

 

 

Sroll down to the next post to see more views of the Monarch chrysalis.

The Archetypal Symbol of the Miracle of Transformation

Side View of Monarch Chrysalis, Day 10

Do you think you see?

What does seeing mean?

Do you think you see with your eyes only?

Look! Look at the glowing turquoise chrysalis.

Really see what is in front of your eyes.

See the butterfly forming inside.

See the black wing markings already taking shape.

See the gold spots.

Notice the gold spots.

(Click on the images to zoom in, they are high resolution.)

What do you see now?

Wing Markings of Monarch Butterfly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please tell me what you see.

I found the caterpillar that became this chrysalis as it was climbing up my storm door on June 21, 2017.

I am pretty sure the spirit of my recently departed mother sent it to me. She was an Aquarius, which is an air sign, and thus symbolized by a butterfly, which moves in air.

These photos were taken July 1, 2017.

Front view of Monarch chrysalis. What are the water drops?

I’ll try to update the progress of the transformation.

By the way, the black blob at the top is the scrunched up remains of what was the caterpillar’s skin. Usually it falls away from the chrysalis, but this time it got caught in the threads the caterpillar spun to attach itself to the jar I put it in.

After you have looked at the photos, or gone out and found your own caterpillar, read up on how to take care of them. It’s pretty easy. I was lucky to have the bookSally’s Caterpillar when I was young. By the way, do not believe that you can download this book for free. A web search sent me to ahdio.co.uk/sallys/caterpillar/sallys_caterpillar.pdf which sent me to a bunch of other places and I got sucked into giving a credit card number but the file is NOT there. Maybe US residents are not allowed to see the file, but the book is apparently out of print.

You can also read or listen to my story (click on this link) about a little boy who finds a monarch caterpillar.

Super Shorts

A tiny poem…for your listening pleasure

The ant hills were a bit flattened by the time I thought to snap a photo.

AND….

a piece of “micro-fiction” from a prompt about an idea lighting on the mind like a butterfly… for the Peninsula Writers Group spring newsletter. This is a little different from my usual style…

Cecil and Eileen Go Camping

The idea fluttered by, and by again, finally lighting on her mind for a nano-second, before fluttering off once again. The second time, the spark at the synapse was a  stronger blip. This time she could see the butterfly for a micro-second. It was an Eastern Black Swallowtail. Eileen had trained her intuitive mind to show her a specific series of butterflies when a new idea was forming. There was nothing she could do about it but wait, until the Red Admiral and Painted Lady had come and gone. When the Mourning Cloak showed up, the idea was ready for daylight.

 

“That’s crazy!” Cecil said, his lips split in a wide grin. “I’ll help.”

 

***

 

Eileen emerged naked from the tent, followed by Cecil, in the same condition, for moral support. He turned, reached back into the tent opening, and pulled out a paint brush and the jar of bait.

 

Eileen’s breathing quickened a little as Cecil opened the jar, and then more as he dipped his brush and started painting her.

 

The buzz of giant wasps could be heard from afar. Eileen’s breathing steadied. The wasps arrived. Eileen opened her arms and welcomed the sting. Soon the nightly pains would be over. The kindness of the anesthetic paralyzer acted quickly. The atoms which had combined their essences to be Eileen would soon disperse into millions of wasp larvae, some of whom would become bird shit, and others of whom would wing their way around the world.

 

Cecil didn’t know if Eileen could still hear him, but he stayed, and played his guitar for her. He sang her songs. He watched over her, until the larvae hatched, ten days later. Then he drove down the highway, to home.

 

Seeing in Poetry

The earliest blooming shrub in spring in most of the places I have lived, the forsythia has been sad in recent years, thinking it’s spring and blooming a second time in November. For whatever reason, (very mild winter?) the blooms all around West Michigan were gorgeous this year.

A Day in Spring

Reds and yellows mist the branches of tall trees,
followed by innocent green.
I look past open polygons to tiny skies beyond,
noticing a stray branch pointing westward.

The forsythia flowers crowd their limbs.
Butter yellow, no longer innocent,
hidden by new leaves,
soon they’ll drop to their doom.

Now dandelions carry the forsythia’s forsaken
yellow flags.
Shortly, they too, will surrender, and the tatters
of white ones will wander,
in search of a bit of earth.

Winter was unkind to my pussy willow,
but the bamboo, neglected for decades,
has marched forth and multiplied,
in the shadow of the spruce.

In the shadow of the spruce. End of poem. Going to prose now. But I just liked how that phrase sounds. In the shadow of the spruce….

Anyway, lots of people notice the changing leaf colors in fall. The changing leaf colors of spring are more muted. I didn’t used to notice. My friend and spiritual mentor, Reverend Dan Kivel, told me that I’d be able to tell if I had a spiritual awakening because colors would look brighter. I found this to be incorrect. However, I did notice that there were a lot more subtle changes in the colors of the living world around me. In earliest spring, I noticed that what I always thought of as green, because they were tree leaves, which “are green,” were really red, yellow, brown, pink, and then maybe some were really green. I can’t remember if he acknowledged that my change in perception counted as a spiritual awakening at that time or not.

Try Googling “change of leaf color in spring.” Good luck. Not much out there. It’s all about fall.

 

 

Wrong about Worms!

The worm, surprised by the sudden appearance of daylight, quickly retreated into its tunnel.

“Do worms have eyes?” asked Danny.

“Hmm, good question. I don’t think so.”

“Either did I. Maybe they can sense light though. Or maybe it simply felt the air move. Or maybe it was resting against the bottom of the flower pot when you picked it up.”

I had recruited Danny to help me clean up the yard, his young skeleton being more flexible than mine, and his muscles stronger.

“It’s hard to say what a worm knows!” Danny pointed out.

“Well, it’s easy to find some verbiage about worms. But saying something meaningful and truthful requires mental wrestling,” I reminded my young neighbor.

Worms do not have vertebrae!” retorted Danny. “That did not require too much wrestling.”

I nodded, happy to hear this entity of tender years producing such a pithy aphorism, and replied to him.

“We do have vertebrae, but we are still subject to the winds of fate. Our vertebrae help us stand straight, but we can’t avoid making some wrong turns in life.”

“Yeah,” mumbled Danny. “I’m still calculating the worth of that last explosion of wrath I indulged in.”

My eyes involuntarily sought the exit to the wormhole. I knew the feeling. We had met in the advanced anger management class. Our warped personalities were both on the mend. We were cultivating our minds. Tired of having to wriggle away from the complicated conditions we had created for ourselves, we were learning new habits. We were learning how to un-braid the strands of our troubled lives. We were learning to unwrap the layers of weird circumstances that had trapped us in inner turmoil. We were learning that prose is preferable to fists. Versatility is what we can learn from the worm.

Your face is wreathed in smiles,” noted Danny.

“Versatility is what we can learn from the worm,” I cheerfully replied.

“Right!” said Danny. No damn vertebrae to get in the way.”

MUSE

Our homework assignment in writing group was to randomly pick a word from the dictionary and write something about it or with it. I usually don’t do the homework. Most of the others in the group are retired and have more time. This time, I was inspired to write something though, but “WREATHE” (the verb) just did not give me much to go on. So I turned to the “Indo-European Root” dictionary at the back of the American Heritage Dictionary that I got a few years back. Word origins are very interesting. I read and underlined the entire Indo-European and Semetic root word appendices when the book arrived.

“Wreathe” comes from the root word “wer” of which there are three unrelated versions. (They’d sound different in the original Indo-European language, but all are represented as “wer” in modern American English. Wreathe comes from “wer” #2.) This version of “wer” has to do with turning and wrapping. It’s amazing how so few root words have generated so many individual expressions of nuance in the last 5000 years or so.

The highlighted words are all derivatives from “wer” #2. Of course some of the derivations in this dictionary are (IMHO) wrong. It’s tough work and the professionals tend sometimes to ignore the obvious in favor of the obscure. Sovereign, for example, (meaning self rule) obviously comes from whatever roots generated “swa” (self) and “raj” (as in “raja, king, also like reign!) but they have a different take.