Thursday, August 31, 2006

Cloudless-sulphur (Phoebis sennae)

Originally uploaded by tardigrade.
Wonderful news! This Cloudless sulphur dropped in this evening at early dark, to sleep the night in my Night-blooming Jasmine
(Cestrum nocturnum).

These animals migrate from Mexico north up to Palos Verdes Peninsula. I have found them as far north as in Mugu Marsh in Ventura. Cloudless Sulphurs are desert butterflies and their larvae eat Cassia alata... They used to be more plentiful in Southern California perhaps, when people planted Crotalaria agatiflora in their back yards. . Certainly people have planted the good the bad and the ugly with their particular needs for ornamentals for their houses (that become invasive species) , or if they or they plant monocultures, or people just accidently walk them in

This shot was taken with a leaf filtering the bright flash from my camera....

Monday, August 21, 2006


Originally uploaded by tardigrade.
How much do we value life?

Our lives? the lives of our children? the lives of our parents? the lives of our spouses? the lives of our friends? our neighbors? our countrymen? other life?

How do we rate life?

Which lives are more important? Which are less? Why do we think humans are more important then other animals and plants? Do we value those animals with fur over those with six legs? How do those with scales rate to those with feathers? Why do we have such a system of worth?

What would life really be like without other life forms?

Other life is important to me. I would never want to be in a position to choose which lives and which dies especially if it came to deciding whether my child or parent or friend .... or even a stranger.... were more important....

But somehow, we do. We do it everyday. Knowingly and unknowingly. We use chemicals to have large strawberries and kill birds and insects and reptiles and mammals and increase our own body burden of toxins...... And just for some big strawberries.... and maybe not even very delicious ones at that!

We do when we go to war. We decide which people have more worth then others. It's not magic. It's not some edict from heaven. It is one then another then another person declaring that 'those people over there must die.' And it is as simple as that.

It is hard to live with differences. People that think differently, People that look different. People that do things and eat things and say things that are different. It is hard to reconcile that we have the same body and behavioral plan yet we have these small differences that irk us.

How do we live with animals that don't have the same body plan? that cannot speak as we do? that cannot understand our shape and smell and movements and our life styles? But what makes us love and love other animals? and care for each other when not caring is so easy? not loving is so easy?

I felt somewhat silly when the Cicindela that I studied for ten months died, I cried. I cried over the death of an insect. But then, why not. Maybe it's just a simple decision to care.

My mother is loosing her cat. She found him 17 years ago wrapped in bamboo leaves with his sisters. My mother said his mother gave birth to her babies in the bamboo stand and left the kittens in the nest like a collection of easter eggs. The kittens were of various colors mixed with white. The mother was eaten by a coyote but my mother collected the kittens and she and her mother loved them.


Originally uploaded by tardigrade.
Two of the calico sisters were eaten as young adults by other coyotes, one sister lived to 14, but the boy, Torchy is almost 18 years old. His life represents moments in time. My mother's mother and father were alive. My children were little. I lived in Ohio. I was married. But this cat's life is more then place holders for our lives, more then our memories. What is it? What is this life worth?

My mother strokes and pets and gives her cat his medicine for his diabetes. She takes him out into the garden, his little body of sticks with a fluffy tail. He tries to walk but is tired and upset with himself and so lies on his side and cries and huffs and then lays silent in the grass.


Originally uploaded by tardigrade.
My mother loves this animal. She carries him and talks to him. She sits brushing the flies away.

When I was about five years old - ready to run up into the hills to hunt for lizards and bugs, I heard someone crying. I didn't recognize who it was so I followed the sound. I peeked around the corner and watch my grandfather carefully placing our cat, Shadow, into his grave. I had never heard him cry before.