Marvelous Monarchs

We know pollinators are precious.

And we know that, among pollinators, monarchs are particularly marvelous.

Not only are their delicate wings dressed in a daring, dashing fashion reminiscent of tiny sky tigers, they use those fierce little wings to migrate hundreds of miles each year.

Like I said, marvelous.

Photo by Jiuguang Wang via Flickr

“But have you ever seen what exactly millions of monarchs in Mexico looks like?” asks Treehugger’s Melissa Breyer.

Admittedly, few of us have actually witnessed this famous phenomenon. So, to bring the monarch’s marvelousness into focus, up close and personal, filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg created a short film for all of us to, well, marvel at.

“I’ve seen photos; they’re lovely. But this short film, ‘Wings of Life,’ offers a glimpse into this phenomenon that is nothing short of magic,” Breyer shares. “[Monarchs] fill the sky like paper in a tickertape parade; clouds of confetti, orange and fluttering. They sleep on the branches of oyamel trees, sometimes in numbers so dense that they break the branches. And to see them all together, as shown in the film, is a thing of unforgettable beauty!”

See for yourself, and feel your heart take wing …

P.S. If you’re a Midwest farmgirl, you may be able to help monarch butterflies on your property.





Driving Miss Norma

We’ve talked in the past about passing—dying, and doing it your way.

But what about those precious months, weeks, days … moments … leading up to the big event?

If you could suddenly hear the ticking of your life clock, what would you do with the time remaining?

Many people, right or wrong, throw themselves desperately at the feet of the medical profession, hoping beyond hope for a cure. They are willing to suffer through brutal treatments to try and extend life, often trading quality for a shot at quantity.

But not Norma Bauerschmidt.

Photo courtesy of Driving Miss Norma on Facebook

Last fall, two days after her beloved husband Leo’s death, 90-year-old Norma received the news that she had uterine cancer. Surgery, radiation, and aggressive chemotherapy were options, but she didn’t even pause to consider them.

“A tiny woman at 101 pounds and under five-feet tall, an exhausted Norma looked the young doctor dead in the eye and with the strongest voice she could muster, said, ‘I’m 90 years old, I’m hitting the road,’” recalls her daughter-in-law, Ramie.

And, by golly, Norma meant it.

Photo courtesy of Driving Miss Norma on Facebook

Norma’s son Tim knew that his mom couldn’t—or, rather, wouldn’t—sit still, living out her days in the quiet of a home she had shared with Leo for most of her life.

But what did that mean, exactly?

“Having recently read Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande (please put this on your reading list), our best idea was to take her on the road with us. Norma currently is not in pain, her mind is sharp, she loves to travel, and she is remarkably easy to be around,” Ramie shares on the Driving Miss Norma Facebook page, where you can keep up with Norma’s adventures.

Photo courtesy of Driving Miss Norma on Facebook

Photo courtesy of Driving Miss Norma on Facebook

So, together, the family “hit the road” in an RV for the journey of a lifetime.

Ocean in a Bottle

For all of you landlocked ladies who feverishly need an ocean fix …

Photo by Skeeze via Pixabay

I have one word … well, it’s an acronym, really:


That’s right—a do-it-yourself ocean.

This cool concept puts a lusciously liquid spin on the dusty ol’ bottled-ship idea.

We’re talking real water here,

BLUE water.

Whether you call it your captive Caribbean, personal Pacific, or mini Mediterranean, you’ll love this simple craft from Rose Matthews of Dream Gem.

“This miniature bottle charm creates an ocean in a bottle just by using oil and water. When you turn the bottle side to side, the oil and water create the effect of a wave,” Rose explains.

Here’s her video tutorial:

I love it that you can actually wear a bottled-ocean charm, carrying a smidgen of sea with you wherever you go. Bigger bottles, by the way, look beautiful illuminated against a sunny window.

Rose offers another watery craft on her Dream Gem You Tube channel that you might want to add to your coastal collection. Take a look at this marvelously mesmerizing jellyfish in a jar:

Shasta, Glamperized!

If you’ve read my Glamping with MaryJane book, you might remember my little story about a Shasta trailer I fell in love with after seeing it for sale on craigslist. After all, my family had an almost identical one when I was growing up (that’s me in the tire swing at our deer hunting camp).

Butters-Family-Album-scan047So when I saw this craigslist ad …


… I couldn’t resist buying it sight unseen. So much for the “no disappointment” part. Here’s the tale of woe I told in my book:


“Let me be your example of why sight-unseen can be a problem. If you’re like me, you’re an optimist. You hope for the best. Plus, you’re short on time. When I talked to the owner of this Shasta (that I ended up buying sight-unseen for $2,500), he said there wasn’t any mold or water damage. (I asked twice.) And all the windows and outside lights had been recaulked. But he failed to mention a cheap caulk had been used that you can scrape off with your fingernail. Oh, and there was definitely mold and water damage. In addition, he didn’t mention the gaping holes in the side or rust in the fridge or the fact that the stove didn’t work OR that it had a shady history and had been stolen in a former life (revealed during the title transfer). When my farmhand pulled it into my driveway after a five-hour drive, I wrote the seller an e-mail expressing my dismay. To his credit, he said, “I would be happy to take it back and pay for the gas for the return trip.” Once I got the windows washed, I could see her potential. So I kept her, but I will never buy a trailer again without seeing it first.”



After reconsidering the extensive renovations it would need, I ended up selling it for the same price I bought it for to a woman from Boise, Idaho, who’d seen it in my book. When she asked if I knew of anyone in the Boise area who could help her glamperize and renovate her new baby, I posted that question on our Gampers on the Loose Facebook page, and was able to put her in touch with someone willing to renovate it. She recently wrote, “We are getting close to finished—just minor touchups and polish-it-to-a-mirror-shine and we’re good to go. It’s been a worthwhile journey that we couldn’t have done without help.”

Here she is all gussied up and ready to roll. All’s well that ends well.