We recently visited the Butterfly Palace in Branson, MO with our granddaughter. My granddaughter greatly enjoyed the amphibian room with its creepy, crawly things. I find frogs, lizards and bugs fascinating but the butterflies are my main attractions. We loved feeding them and the release of new butterflies by children.
The visit renewed my interest in Monarchs. These beautiful creatures, so much a part of my childhood, are endangered. Urban sprawl, pesticides and mostly loss of milkweed has lowered their numbers remarkably.
Monarchs are dependent on milkweed to lay their eggs, usually one egg on a leaf. If mistakenly laid on similar looking plants, the hatched larva will die. Surprisingly, milkweed is highly toxic, but this is a good thing for the Monarchs. The poison enters into the caterpillar and stays there through adulthood. The poison in their system makes the Monarchs toxic to predators.
In metamorphoses the Monarch caterpillar molts its skin five times. Four of those times it stays a caterpillar and true to a caterpillars voracious appetite, it will eat its own skin. While in this process the caterpillar is called an instar. The fifth time it forms a chrysalis and begins the process of becoming a butterfly.
Adult male Monarchs have a small black spot on the inside hind wings. Their wings are larger and their bodies heavier. The female wings are thicker which helps in migration. Monarchs are a curious creation of God. Their tongue or proboscis draws up nectar like a straw. They smell with their antenna and taste with hairs on their legs and feet. They also do not possess lungs. Small vents in the thorax and tubes called trachea move oxygen through the body.
Monarchs normally live from two to six weeks. But the migrating Monarchs are considered super butterflies and live up to eight months. During migration they depend on food consumed in the caterpillar stage. In the Spring they leave the southern forests of Mexico and California. They travel one hundred miles a day and journey two to three thousand miles one way, many arriving in Canada.
I hope you’ll join me. I have planted milkweed to help support the Monarch population. Many greenhouses now carry the plant and it does have a sweet blossom.
Spring and Fall have been my favorite seasons, but springtime in Oklahoma has a special appeal. It starts so early, compared to Connecticut. The harvesters have already arrived to harvest the massive fields of wheat. Root crops, like carrots, potatoes and beets have been in the ground since the middle of March. Other garden crops, like tomatoes, squash and watermelon are planted around April 15.
We did not plant a garden, this year, but our peach trees are doing well.
I have spent my leisure time, when I’m not sewing or writing, working in the flower beds. I love seeing things grow. I and my siblings inherited this love from a displaced Tennessee farmer, our Dad. He left the farm for the military and ended up marrying Mom and settling in rural Connecticut. He couldn’t kick off the sod, though, and produced beautiful gardens every year of his life.
I feel at peace in a garden. I enjoy watching the soil improve year after year. When we came, five years ago, I didn’t find worms or insects in our soil. Working and mulching have now produced healthy scores of the helpful subterranean creatures.
Morning glories Lillies
and violas have made their appearance in all their splendor. If you’ll notice on the yellow petal, even the lady bugs are out in full force.
Flowers give life. Life for the butterflies and bees who visit but also life to us. God knew we needed things like this to stimulate our eyes. To lift our spirits. Take time today to enjoy God’s nature.
I had major surgery last March to reconstruct my ankle. I have CMT (Charcot Marie Tooth Atrophy). It has destroyed a lot of nerves and muscles in my feet and hands. There is no cure and no treatment but new advances can help correct the damages of the disease. Because of the weakness and instability in my ankles, I was walking mostly on the side of my right foot. They cut a bone, straighten the ankle and screwed everything back together. It has been a long year. I no longer have constant pain in that foot and now walk on the sole and not the side. Thank God.
I was prepared, somewhat, for the post surgery pain. I wasn’t prepared for the depression. Facing limitations have always been hard but facing a future with a crippling disease was something I wrestled with this past year. Besides having the surgery, in the last 2 years I have lost the use of my little fingers and most of my ring fingers. This might not seem like a big deal to most, but as a writer it’s hard to adjust to typing with five fingers instead of nine.
I was also following the blog of Julianna Yuri. A precious, precocious little five year old. Her mother wrote her outrageous, hilarious comments. I enjoyed her wit and wisdom. Julianna also had CMT. Probably the worst case known. The sweet child passed away this past year. I felt her loss as if I were a close companion.
But with all this year has thrown at me, I am alive and will continue to go on and adjust when it’s needed. I will try not to mourn the losses ahead but be creative to overcome them. I face reconstruction of my other foot in the fall but know it will give me more mobility. I wish my dad could have had the advances that I am enjoying. I also know some great writers only typed with two fingers. God is still in His heaven and all is well with my soul.
In the early 1990s, I worked for Christian Book Distributors. They were a forward thinking company that cared a great deal for their employees. Periodically they gave out health brochures. In one of these, I read about Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and how these chemicals were in our hair products and caused hair loss. I went home and checked, finding out that my hair products did indeed have these chemicals in them.
I did a personal test. When I used them I had a handful of hair, when I used products without them, two or three strands. Needless to say, I watched what I bought for a long time.
Unfortunately as time passed, I became less vigilant. So recently I decided to look these chemicals up to find out if what I read so long ago was true. I find that it’s worse than just a loss of hair.
Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) are foaming agents called surfactants. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is the worse. These chemicals are found in shampoos, conditioners, soaps and TOOTHPASTE! They can damage hair follicles, skin, give permanent eye damage in children, and cause liver toxicity.
The Journal of the American College of Toxicology in 1983 showed that 5% concentration of SLS could cause skin irritation. 10 to 30% caused skin corrosion. Some soaps have 30%.
Why would companies use these dangerous products? – They’re incredibly cheap and Americans associate suds with clean. Please google these products and read for yourself then check your health care products and make better choices.
When our kids were young we were able to take a month and visit most of our country’s major national parks. We traveled to Mount Rushmore through the Black Hills to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, up to Montana and down through the Redwoods and the Sequoias. Ending our trip, we visited the Grand Canyon and Carlsbad Cavern. It was all exciting and very interesting.
Yellowstone was fascinating with Old Faithful and other geysers soaring high.
The numerous hot springs had colorful mineral deposits glowing in their depths.
We enjoyed the woodland and the many vast roaming herds of bison and antelope that live there.
Little did I know, we were walking and driving on an active volcano. Yes, Yellowstone is an active supervolcano! AND it has erupted! Of course, as you may have guessed. that was ages ago.
But scientists say it is still possible today and may even be overdue. There are two massive chambers of magma miles below Yellowstone. (Magma is what lava is called while it’s still underground.) One chamber was measured in 2013 to be fifty miles by twelve miles. The second, underneath this one, was found later. The heat and pressure, geothermal activity, from these chambers are the reasons for the superheated geysers and springs. If that pressure were to build up, an explosion, much worse than Mount Saint Helen, would devastate several states.
Scientist believe we would have ample warning if this was about to take place. For which we are all so very thankful. So, if you get the opportunity to visit, I highly recommend going to Yellowstone. Enjoy the amazement of walking on top of an active volcano.
For all who have shown an interest in the Orphan Train West Trilogy but have not yet purchased. I have uploaded chapter one of the first book, The Promise, for you to view. I hope you will enjoy this true to life story of the orphan train riders. Book three, Forever Home, will be out in late 2019.
Books may be purchased at Amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com or you may send a check for $12.95 ($9.95 plus $3.00 shipping) to Carolyn Johnson, 208 South 8th Ave, Arapaho, OK 73620. If you would like it autographed, please include name.
This little creature is known as a clusterwink snail.
The tiny (about the size of a fingernail) sea snail gives off green luminescent light flashes to scare away predators. The flashes trick the enemy by making the snail look larger. The thick, heavy, opaque shell acts as a powerful reflector.
The clusterwink snail is found along the New Zealand and Australian rocky shores. When the tide is out, the snails cluster together, hiding under rocks and in crevices. When the tide comes in, they journey out to graze on algae.
Embryos of the snail are incubated in a brood chamber located internally behind the female head. When mature they are expelled into the sea.
Several research studies are being done to learn the biological cause of the luminescence and how the shell works to reflect.
Laminin. Some people think it shows the way to God, others think it looks like a wilted flower.
What is laminin. It is a heterotrimeric (has three units) glycoprotein (proteins that have chains attached to chains). In other words it is a protein made up of three units sticking together. It has an a chain, B chain and y chain. These chains intersect to form a cross shape. The following picture is from Wikipedia:
Laminin can only be seen through an electron microscope. It’s part of the basal lamina which is part of the cell lining. The next picture, from cc.edu. might give you a better understanding.
What good does it do? Laminin binds to other cell membrane and extracellular matrix molecules. The three short arms bind to other laminin molecules to form sheets. The long arm binds to cells, anchoring tissue cells to membrance. Without laminin our tissues would not survive. Dysfunctional laminin is linked to congenital muscular dystrophy.
This last picture is of actual laminin molecules. Snopes thinks the cross shape is merely a coincidence. After all, lots of things in nature are cross shaped.
Personally, I believe in a Creator, a Master Designer and I believe He has left clues throughout nature to point us to Him. So you decide for yourself. Is laminin a wilted flower, a simple coincidence, or a Master stamp.
Have you ever seen the Helix Nebula before? This is a composite of pictures from Nasa’s Hubble telescope and Kitt Peak National Observatory. Yes, it is real, but the color was added by Nasa. I suspect for more impact, for a cover layout they were doing. Nasa, also, never gave it the name Eye of God. I wonder if the first man to visually see it had to be picked up off the floor. I know I would have passed out.
A nebula is a dying star. The Helix nebula is 650 light years away in the constellation of Aquarius. It’s a trillion mile long tunnel of glowing gases. If our sun died it would look pretty much like this.
Stars like our sun and Helix burn by turning hydrogen into helium by nuclear fusion. When the hydrogen is exhausted, the star starts burning the remaining helium at a greater temperature. When the helium is used up the star dies sending off gas layers around the hot core. The core is called a white dwarf and so dense that a teaspoon of white dwarf would weight more than a couple elephants.
The following is also a picture of the Helix nebula. You will notice a small dot in the center. This is the white dwarf. I’m not sure, but I think this one also has color added. It helps to see it better.
Nasa photo from Spitzer space telescope
I can’t help but be amazed that God would put this in the heavens just so we would be reminded that He is watching over us.
“The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” Psalm 19:1