Confessions of a (chronic pain) graduate student

So I’ve bought clothes from a store and worn them straight from plastic bags or hangers without washing first. Seriously, who has the time and energy for that?




I do PT at at a massive facility devoted to “post-acute” care. It doesn’t often look very “post-acute” to me. But since it is so large, there are walking paths and courtyard with a fountain. There’s green space. Ideal butterfly hunting ground before heading into therapy, on the (ahem, VERY) rare occasions when I’m early.

The clouded sulfur is listed as a common butterfly, and prolific in my area. I’ve read that they can occur in massive kaleidoscopes in fields. I’ve been informed that it’s a very bad butterfly day indeed when you don’t see a few of these.

I hardly ever see clouded sulfurs! Or orange sulfurs. They show up occasionally, but are difficult to photograph, even though they’re so much larger than the skippers and hairstreaks. That day there were about four though, coyly peering out from among the clover, and slyly leading me ever further from the facility.

Black Swallowtail

black-swallowtailIf at first you don’t succeed getting a picture of that one butterfly, in 7 easy steps:

  1. Move to a different spot. Then another. Then a 3rd… and then look back and see the butterfly just leaving the first spot and flit over a 20 ft hedge.
  2. Sit outside on the ground getting muddy pants for 4 hours, pretending to read a book and in reality wondering how come the only butterfly to come around is a cabbage white that doesn’t even settle on the lantana.
  3. Spot the butterfly out the window from the 3rd floor while sitting in a puddle of research, writing. Try to get body to cooperate, swim out from drifts of printouts, collect camera, stagger down stairs, only to see butterfly soar effortlessly out over the lawn … and into passing traffic.
  4. Spend an hour meandering blissfully through a friend’s garden with camera around neck. Don’t see A. Single. Thing. With. Wings. Still end up with 3 bug bites.
  5. Juggle books, groceries, dry cleaning, and a leaking water bottle while exiting car. See butterfly peacefully feeding on lantana. Manage to snag cell phone by holding grocery bags in teeth and using books as coat hanger for dry cleaning. Take picture that has that curiously flat yet distorted quality of cell phone pics regardless of supposed pixels.

Confessions of a (chronic pain) graduate student

I split my time in waiting rooms at medical appointments between studying and playing kid’s games on my phone.  I forget nine words out of ten that I read, but hey, I have acted the dutiful graduate student. I’ve also played the Cinderella Free Fall game through to the ball levels … twice.

Other Butterfly Garden Visitors


About partway through a shooting expedition to the local park, this hummingbird came around. Not only the butterflies seek nectar in a swirl of sparkling wings. Unfortunately my camera was set for the speed of butterfly wings, not a hummingbird’s. 😀


This little guy was perched on flowers. I’ve seen finches actually bounce on dandelions to bring them to the ground, going after the seeds. I *think* that this is an American goldfinch.



Spicebush Swallowtail

The first thing that a butterfly must do upon emerging from the darkness of its chrysalis is assemble its proboscis. This new form for the insect, so strange, so ungainly, has no ability to eat until it coils and uncoils the long thin straw through which it will obtain those vital nutrients. As the butterfly flexes what is essentially its mouthpiece, the separate parts zipper together, allowing the adult to live.



Peck’s Skipper

Strangely enough, a few weekends ago that was my adult life as well, severely dehydrated and starving from a bad reaction to some meds, getting my nourishment from tubes. It’s among the most buggy bit of a butterfly to me, that proboscis, although it’s tied with those eyes one some… But the butterfly emerges from the dark, and proceeds to work out the details of its survival. However that may. So do we all, and it doesn’t matter if it’s the most buggy bit, or how uncomfortable it may be, or how difficult that initial assembly of adulthood is… survive. Fly free, in whatever form that takes.