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 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.


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.”


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.


Self Evident Truth About Distracted Driving

Earlier this week, the topic of discussion on NPR’s “On Point” radio show was the scourge of distracted driving. There are people working on smart technologies to  stop people from doing tasks that require too much attention when they are moving at high velocity. There are apps that track high cognitive activities such as browsing and texting. These apps would be the equivalent of a “breathalyzer,” and cops could ask to see your device if you were stopped for a traffic violation. Supposedly our legal system would let people off the hook if the passenger stated under oath that they were the one using the device, not the driver. Just as social pressure has been used to greatly reduce the acceptability and frequency of drunk driving, social pressure is being used to bring awareness of the dangers of distracted driving.

The main danger is often said to be the driver taking eyes off of the road. Usually the eyes are linked to using the device while it’s in the hands. Hands are surely linked to the brain.  But there have been studies showing that hands free driving is still distracted driving, and causes just as many accidents.

We See with our BRAINS

We have to remember, or realize, that we see with our BRAINS as much as we see with our eyes. The largest part of our brain is devoted to visual processing. While some people are undoubtedly better at multi-tasking than others, most of us over-rate our abilities in this area. See  which includes the following

Ophir et al. [8] found that persons who frequently multi-task ….may be those who are the least cognitively equipped to effectively carry out multiple tasks simultaneously.

When we’re talking on the phone, it is not like talking with someone riding in the vehicle with us. It might be more like having a crying baby or a bunch of rowdy kids with us. The person at the other end of the line, the crying baby, the misbehaving kids, do not quiet themselves to allow you, the driver, to pay attention to the road when the situation demands. The person at the other end of the line, the crying baby, the misbehaving kids, are unaware that it would be safer for all if they were quiet, to allow the driver to pay attention to rapidly changing circumstances. In the case of the person at the other end of the line, they entangle the driver in their local “thought field,” (see this related article on shared consciousness), which is usually related to something other than the road conditions.

This realization came to me some years ago, when almost everyone believed that hands free cell phone use while driving meant safe cell phone use. That was well before the advent of smart phones. I had a client who had told me he thought that there should be two levels of drivers licenses. One for regular people, and one for those who had demonstrated that they could read while driving. He was a smart guy overall, and the above referenced work at the University of Utah leads us to believe that there could be test to allow the competent multi-taskers to be certified. But I still do not think I like the idea. A lot can happen in the blink of an eye when traveling at high speed.

Despite this, I’m also not a fan of driverless vehicles.

When is someone going to show that this emperor has no clothes?

We can’t keep our credit cards, bank accounts, medical information, social security numbers secure. We can’t keep our computers free of viruses and malware. How are we going to prevent hackers from creating giant accidents?

I guess we’ll “just have to get used to those giant “accidents,” as we are having to “get used to” attacks by terrorists and the neglected mentally ill.

Update October 30, 2016

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration is taking action after the entrepreneur had tee shirts printed bragging about how rich they were going to get.

Hallelujah. Greedy, hubris drenched capitalist gets his come-uppance!


Peaches, Peaches, Peaches

Drowning in peaches, peaches, peaches.

You have to be drowning, you have to have access to and responsibility for the tree.

Otherwise you’d eat the peaches as they ripen. Only when you have too many peaches,  some inevitably go past the stage of perfection to a stage of super-perfection. Because that’s when they are sweetest and most full flavored. And when you get them off the tree that way, starting to ferment a bit, turning brown in the pit, maybe some  bad spots that you have to cut away, those are the ones that make me want to have my own peach trees. Those are the ones that make it worth going through all the work of pruning and fertilizing and all the rest of it.

This was a great year for peaches. I had help in the orchard and thinned the fruit. The result was some really big and beautiful peaches.

Here’s my poem…

Peaches, peaches, peaches.

Not straight from the tree.

Even the warm ones bursting with flavor are too fuzzy straight from the tree.

Mother Nature’s fuzz functions too well.

Rub first in running water.

Cut along the edge of the pit. Grasp the halves and twist.

Open mouth. Bite. Turn so the flesh is down on the tongue.

Chew. Sweetness and flavor explode.

Behind Falling In Love

Based on another prompt from my writing group…

I wasn’t planning on this. Falling in love with you was the last thing I wanted. Because I know our time will have to come to an end. Yet here I am, begging you not to turn the page.

Time marches on at its own pace. You are not in love with me. It’s just the name you came up with to describe the cloud of reactions to hormonal releases during the exciting events we recently experienced together.

You sound like a Buddhist.

Well that’s because the Buddhists have the most practical advice for getting over doomed or failed romances. Remind yourself that I am nothing but skin and bones, flesh and blood, urine and fecal matter, hair and fat.

That’s BS. Even the Buddhists know we have an immortal essence.

Exactly my point. But that’s not what you fell in love with. You fell in love with the experience of the effects of the hormones. It’s time to turn the page.

The emotionally entangled state is the natural one for humans. That’s why we evolved all the complex hormones that give us these sacred experiences.

No. The hormones were evolved in earlier mammals. I have come to understand that only by liberating myself from those outdated entanglements can I be free for the next exciting adventure!