Life as I know It

My photo
San Luis Obispo, California, and South Bristol, Maine, United States
Author ~ Illustrator ~ Lecturer

Friday, April 24, 2015


For the Butterflies

The butterfly dipped,
and circled to smell
His floriferous dinner,
Which suits him quite well.

But, wait just a minute,
My story's not through,
His feet have more talents––
He tastes with them, too!

From Hollyhock Days

Dear Friends,

If absence makes the heart grow fonder, well, you must adore me by now.  Thank you for the sweet cards, letters, and e-mails. They make my heart happier. Many of you know that I was hacked and off the computer for awhile. It took a few weeks to get back on line and then, Whap!, we were hacked again. Thousands and thousands of spams and more.

This morning when I sat down we were again having problems. Jeff sat on the phone and awaited some tech help for a long, long time. Who would ever believe that we have become so dependent on our computers for so much?

My garden is bursting with life and my windows are flung open. Scents of Verbena de la mina (it is so fragrant), roses, and jasmine fill my little house with spring. I love it.

So much has happened that I can't include it all in this posting. Each posting takes many, many hours of concentrated time, which I don't have right now. So please, if you love the beauty of butterflies, just stay with me for this to the end. Also, look for the winner of the beautiful Josie Iselin Beach book and the possibility of winning this glorious little teak side table sent to me by Teak Closeouts.

The little table has a slatted top and a bottom shelf. It is so handy and useful. It does come unassembled, but it took Jeff only about 10 minutes to put it together. Sorry, the supplier cannot ship outside of the continental U.S. A.

I hosted a meeting of The Questers at our home last month. The organizer (trouble-maker), Kit Long, is a fabulous woman with many interests. Look what she brought as a hostess gift! A pot with a twiggy tree branch. On each twig was tied the jade-like chrysalis of a Monarch butterfly. What a gift, maybe the best one I've ever received. Glad this isn't a video or a might break your eardrums with my screams of joy!

Can you see them dangling from the branches?

Close up. The gold spots are entry points for oxygen.

You can see the miracle going on inside the chrysalis. I took this photo about an hour before the butterfly emerged from it.

I spent hours next to the chrysalis tree and recorded everything, but I NEVER got the actual emergence. I literally turned my head for a split second, and wham, the butterfly was out of the chrysalis and all crumpled up like a slightly used prom dress. See how fat the abdomen is? As I watched the newborn, the abdomen elongated and thinned.

Starting to pump fluid and unfurl.

Look at this beauty shot!

I spent hours watching them and became intrigued by the shadows of their legs. You can clearly see how they are able to hold onto flowers even in high winds. This shot sends me into the stratosphere. I love how mysterious it looks.

This male fell to the ground, and I quickly rescued it. You know it is a male by the dark spot on each hindwing. He stayed on my hand for about 15 minutes until his wings were rigid and he was able to beat them.

My garden dances with butterflies now and sways with the slow moving (and always hungry) caterpillars.

If you want to have the awe-inspiring presence of caterpillars and butterflies in your own garden, just do some simple things to suit them.

1. Plant a diverse array of flowers (native wildflowers, bushes and trees are most important) that will feed both the caterpillar and the butterflies. Monarch caterpillars feed ONLY on Asclepias species. Go for the natives if possible. See or visit the Xerces Society for guidelines.

2. Provide a tray or saucer of soil that can be kept moist. Butterflies will puddle on the mud and sip nutrients.

3. Lay out a few flat basking rocks. They'll sun bathe on them.

4. NEVER use toxic sprays; insecticides, herbicides, fungicides. NEVER.

Fruits ripen, flowers burst into bloom...and the adventures and joy continue.

Thanks for the visit. I post daily photographs, quotes, and ideas on my Facebook page. I also have a business page Sharon Lovejoy: Home Gardens Books with upcoming events and public appearances. Both reach a broad audience. I enjoy interacting with readers. Like the blog, I have made some wonderful friends through this medium. 

If you are a blog follower, you will get an alert whenever I write a new blog. Blogs take hours and hours, which is time I sometimes don't have to spare. I continue to write infrequently for those dear friends who do not use Facebook– Lori, Julie Marie, Darla, and others.

I am happy to let you know that my little book Trowel and Error by Workman Publishing, has just gone into its 13th printing! Hurrah.


my beloved old book A Blessing of Toads is now in its fifth printing with Down East Books!

This iteration has a new cover with black and white illustrations inside. The same information is still packed in the pages.

Thanks dear Aline for sharing this photo with us! I treasure seeing the two of you reading my book, The Little Green Island with a Little Red House.

This little book explores the world of colors and critters and is a fun read aloud with children. Jeff and I designed the text to reflect the words.

Now, some reader letters:

I want to share with you one of the most special young people I have ever heard from. Move over writers, we have a new one on the way! I love this! 

Your words keep my words flowing. Thank you for your many kindnesses!

The lucky winner of the Josie Iselin book, Beach: a book of treasures is: A Facebook follower, Paulette.

Enter the new drawing for the little teak end table, a $99 value from Teak Closeouts, which would be perfect in your garden, on your porch, deck, or?

To enter, simply send an email to Sharon's Give Away at

Happy Spring to you all!

Love across the miles,



Julie Marie said...

Hello sweet cousin... love love love this post and that is sooo incredible to see a butterfly emerge!... your photos are fantastic!... so happy you are enjoying your gardens and beautiful weather... as for your books, I do believe my favorite is my original copy of A Blessing of Toads... sooo much information there, and I refer to it often!... your letters from young readers and nature lovers/gardeners are wonderful too... see, you inspire so many, and we all love you!... thank you for thinking of me as you post... I know how incredibly busy you are, and how much time it takes to post, but I am so happy always to see one pop up!... thank you also for the email and prayers for my Tessy girl... she got a wonderful report at our new vets today... I will email you later about it!... hello to Jeff... love you both... xoxo... Julie Marie

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Dear Sharon
II am so sorry your blig has been hacked! How terrible and annoying. I make a rule never to click on links from people I don't know...and sometimes even from people I do know, as they have also been hacked! I look to make sure the email that has a link in it really came from them, as often it has their name "from" but the e-mail address is not theirs.You also have to caution on facebook about links that ask for passwords. It is sad the world is so nefarious!
I love your monarchs! Did you ever visit the monarch grove in Pacific Grove,CA? Beauriful!
Your give away is wonderful! Such a pretty table!

Pom Pom said...

Yay! I've been wondering about you! I'm happy to hear you are busy as ever! The butterflies! Amazing!

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hi Cousin Julie Marie. We are so glad that sweet Tessy is getting a good report. Hurrah! Write and let us know the details.

Hi Pat, Yes, I've gone to the Pacific Grove butterfly spot, but we have one here on the Central Coast in Pismo, and also one in San Simeon. You just need to be here from about October to April and you'll see them. Sadly, the grove in PG is not as busy now.

All best,

Terra said...

Glad your blog is back to life, and that is a great photo essay about monarch butterflies. The two fan letters are keepers.

Blondie's Journal said...

I can see that you are busy and yet I'm amazed by your wonderful post! It's hard to post when we are being "lifey"! But I do love hearing from you and hope that life becomes less hectic for you and that we hear more. I love hearing about your spring and summer gardening-selfishly~

Jane xxx

Pat said...

Incredibly wonderful sequence of a new Monarch...isn't Nature brilliant!! Reading your post is like a cool glass of fresh water - so refreshing and satisfying. Sending wishes that your computer issues are well and resolved. If those individuals would only fill their time with being surrounded by the butterflies and flowers instead of causing problems the world would be much happier.

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

What a wonderful post! I am glad you took some precious time to write out a post for this blog. It was a delight to read.

Have a lovely weekend ~ FlowerLady

Vee said...

Hackers...that explains it!

Perfect gift of Monarchs! I was gifted with one a few summers ago and will never forget the experience. It was a fun day. My little Monarch flew away on an adventure. I am glad that yours have stayed in your garden where they have many delights.

Yes, Fiona is quite the writer! Hope that she writes often and hones those skills.

Happy spring to you and Jeff!

Faith said...

beautiful picture of the pollinators. They are so awesome.

rebecca said...

Kind of hope you don't give up posting here. My facebook account is so FULL that I seldom plumb its depths! (Psychologically, it just seems overwhelming & stressful - as opposed to blogs.)

Lemon Verbena Lady said...

Inspirational dear Sharon as always! Love the butterfly and well everything. Also the letter from one of your young readers. Such a blessing! Hope we can see each other some day soon! Love to you and Phone man! xo

Kay G. said...

Dear Sharon,
YOU are a blessing!
Thank you for sharing the photo of the chrysalis tree!
And I want to link to this post, if I may when I do my next post about Monarch butterflies...would that be okay with you?
By the way, that friend who brought you that tree...I wonder, could she use another friend?

Katie Kleber said...

Hello. I am an Adjunct Instructor of Biology at Brunswick Community College in SE North Carolina (near the SC state line). My partner just emailed me this entry! I love it! I have been using the emergence of Monarch butterflies as an example of ecdysis (shedding the old exoskeleton) and I have been looking for a photo showing the crumpled wings and fat abdomen. I have "Googled" it with little success. May I use your image (with credit, of course) in my presentations? It would only be to college students in General Biology II (BIO 112). I would not be taking this on the road or using it beyond the classroom.

As an aside: I am also falling in love with your books!

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Good morning Katie,

You are most welcome to use my photos for teaching. It makes me happy to know they will help open the world of nature to students.

All best to you and thanks for your kind words about my books. They are a labor of love and passion.


Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hi Kay,

Good hearing from you again. Of course, I would love a link to this posting. Let's share the magic!

All best and happy spring, I'll bet it is beautiful in your territory.


Val said...

What an incredible gift. Lovely friend! ♥

Jimmie said...

Lord love a duck, I think this might be my favorite of all your posts!!! The photos are magnificent. I, too, had the experience of just missing the emergence of a swallowtail, but I did get to enjoy watching the chrysalis for a while beforehand. Such a wonderful miracle, it all is. I also had a once in a lifetime experience of standing in a mud puddle several years ago just as at least a hundred butterflies fluttered around me. I tell you that I almost lost my breath because it was just so beautiful. I don't expect to ever have that experience again in my life.

I've missed you and I'm glad you're back.

Diane in North Carolina

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Diane, I hooted when I read your opening sentence. I am imagining what it was like with all the butterflies fluttering around you. Wonderful memory to give you peace and to usher you to sweet dreams at night.

I once had hundreds of blue damselflies all around me and I've never forgotten that feeling. Pure joy and wonder.

happy days ahead,

Dee Nash said...

Oh, how I enjoyed the butterfly unfurlings. I know that last bit isn't a real word, but hey, it works. How on Earth did she tie those Monarch chrysalis on the branches? I know how much time the blog posts take, but I so enjoy reading your voice on here. I feel like we're chatting. ~~Dee

jerilanders said...

I can't imagine a gift as wondrous as a "tree-full" of Chrysalis. What an event to watch them emerge! Congrats are in order for all your book successes, I thoroughly enjoyed "Running out of NIght". You are right about Fiona, I see in her a future of garden-writing and magnificent GARDEN-making.

Sharon Lovejoy said...


It WAS WONDROUS and is lodged in my mind forever (or for as long as my mind works!).

Thank you for your comment about "Running Out of Night." It makes my heart sing.


Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hi dear Dee,

She used fishing line and tied them by their cremasters. Imagine the time it took to separate them from their plants and tie them onto the twigs.

Every one of the chrysalises hatched perfectly.

What a gift, just like your friendship.