On Thursday night we were poised to see the last episode of The Office. I threw on some first season episodes around Xmastime when I was cooking and the girls got sucked in. Five months later, we watched all nine seasons. I was very disloyal when it was airing and would dip in and out, only to binge watch a season at a time. I think it was a lot more enjoyable pacing ourselves like this and getting all the way through.
So I popped out into the yard after dinner to water the garden, which is growing well after the little cold period we had recently. We have some volunteer cilantro and tomatoes in my lettuce bed, which I will roll with. I have to take pictures soon. It is awesome. Anyway, I watered and came in and the girls were watching something short and I put my hand on my hip…and…BZZT! Stung in the middle finger.
I brought in a hitchhiker. I scraped out the venom sac right away. Friday was kind of miserable at work, with my hand steadily swelling and the site around the sting turning purple. I thought that would be the end of it, but my hand got enormous. It looked like the hand of an obese toddler by Saturday, throbbed, and hurt all the way down to the tendons.
Normally I have knuckle dents and visible veins and whatnot, especially now that I’m not kind of swollen all the time like I was when I was sick. There were some bony-ass fingers hidden under my bloatpaws and I love them. They look like the hands of a 38-year-old, instead of a pile of dough.
This afternoon I was marinating some chicken thighs to grill later when I saw it: a black dot in the middle of the angry, red sting site, raised past the rest of the raised skin. I knew I would have to operate. I scraped the skin off and there was hardly any blood, to my surprise, and then I found the stinger! No bigger than a hair, of course, but causing a lot of trouble. Damn.
Isn’t it amazing that most of the time when you get something foreign in your body, your skin either eats it or serves it back up to you like some kind of gross offering? Feels better already.
Franny and I have been having coconut milk warz (TM 2007). I left an unused container of coconut milk on the counter one night when she was on dish duty and she picked it up and laid it on my chest while I watched TV. Like it was a present. I see your bullshit and raise you SURPRISE. COCONUT MILK.
It went in her bathroom drawer next. Then I found it under my pillow. Then it went in her boot. Then it went in my work bag. Then I snaked it into her guitar case, where she had to hide it from her guitar teacher due to adolescent shame (?).
“How would I explain that, Mother?” she said.
I let it idle for a bit and then on Friday, CHALLENGE REACCEPTED. Her toilet lid.
She one upped me Friday afternoon by taping it into the pantry, which I did not notice until today. I like it there for now, but I tell you…Imma get her. Mark my milk.
IN OTHER NEWS: Some Silent Hill Shit
As I mentioned recently, all the damn bees died. Poor girls. Our theory is the hives weren’t big enough to make it through via huddling for warmth. Also we had a moisture issue.
I’m going to say something that may make you think I’m overly concerned about the stock my business card is printed on, but I actually feel less bad about losing this hive than before we started keeping bees. It’s hard to explain. I guess it’s just that I know they would all die anyway, since they’re so incredibly shortlived. Of course it would be better if they made it through the season, but I know they did a lot over the summer as it was.
I pulled the existing comb out to clean the boxes. It still contains a significant amount of honey, which will be a good start for the new bees. We’re trying Carniolans this time. They seem to be very popular in this area, since they have that magic combo of hardy yet docile, etc.
Here’s the fallout when your whole hive croaks midwinter. You get a mat of moldy bees.
I scraped them out with a spatula onto the nearby ground, at which point the bock bock clean up crew came in and ate many honey-encrusted bee corpses. So we’re locked and loaded now, assuming we don’t get robbed out. If we do, there will still be comb.
NECK UPDATE: Can this Neck Marriage Be Saved
Check this out, I have some neck bone spurs and straight neck syndrome. My physical therapist was kind of over the moon. No spinal/disk compression.
“Can I get the curve in my neck back?” I asked.
“In your case, YES,” he said. He really looked genuinely happy. I have many exercises to do now. The feeling is coming back a little more in my fingers over time. I got sworn in to the union officially the other night…I just might make it after all *flying knit cap*.
Part 4, Work
So here’s the thing. I want to tell you every goddam moment of every day, but I am so unholy tired right now. Which is normal. But I keep hearing these amazing conversations. And you know I remember conversations years later–so it’s all in here. But let me tell you a short story about a type of man I have met on the job now. I call them…Neggers.
You know what you really can’t say to a lady on a job site anymore? “Get back into the kitchen. Sit on my face. Get out of my dreams, get into my car.”
But you know what you can say? A thing you heard.
“What’s it like being a woman in the trades,” a guy asked me, who is not an electrician. I’ve been working with him since I started, and sometimes we’re in the same “zone,” him doing his trade and me doing mine.
“Oh really great,” I said. “I love my job.”
“Anyone act weird towards you?” he asked.
“Not really,” I said, truthfully. “I’ve had a little random stuff like ‘Good morning, sweetheart,’ but nothing gross.”
We chitchatted a little more and I mentioned that Washington State has the highest number of women in the trades (~19%). He insisted on telling me there was a study going on about women in the trades at the UW and seemed to think I should hie myself over there. He told me that Some Guys say that the trades are no place for women, and they Don’t Belong on Jobsites, but that attitude was probably dying out. Oh really.
A plumber I just love jumped in and said, “We have a female plumber up the street. She’s one of the guys. It’s a little weird when she burps and swears though, I don’t know why.”
I had to get back to work but I closed by saying I felt like I fit in. “I never really fit in with polite society so I like the burping.” I keep it light.
I worked on Saturday and the guy was there and trying to start conversations with me. He did that kind of jackhole thing where he was insisting on figuring out what SJ was short for. “Nothing!” I said, but he didn’t believe me until my boss affirmed it.
“That’s a weird name,” he said.
“Thank you?” I said.
“Have a good day. SWEETHEART,” he said, and walked off. My coworker apprentice, who is all of 25, looked at me quizzically.
“It’s a conversation he and I had the other day. No big deal.”
“Ok,” he said.
Later I got off work and waited for my friend outside of a bar we like, for a little catch up and pre-dinner drink. She and I are Saturday walking buddies and I was SUPES SAD to not walk with her that day.
The bar was not quite open yet. One of the bartenders emerged and began unlocking the cafe tables, which involved dragging around chains. A random barfly from a nearby all-day bar walked up to spectate.
“I just love seeing a woman in chains. HA HA HA!” he chortled. “I mean, a pretty woman.”
I watched, ready to jump in and Jerry Springer a chair over his ass if needed. The bartender smiled at him and made a couple of comments. He walked off and she started sweeping near me.
“Men don’t have an ‘off’ button, do they?” I said to her.
She laughed so hard, and I was relieved that I hadn’t been too presumptuous.
“I just deflect,” she said. “It’s easier than trying to challenge them.”
Wow, story of my life. Er. Sometimes.
“I work construction,” I said. “I work with men all day. I might be wound up.”
It’s that funny part of summer where I feel like I’m assessing every day. Is this the last warm day? How about this one? Are the rains coming back? The clematis is blooming again. It does this little last hurrah mini-bloom, I think when the light gets the same as the beginning of summer.
The bees are packing away the honey and the combs are getting really heavy. The girls are also getting shitty when we crack open the hives now. The theory there is because they have something to protect and know the season is ending. Wasps descend and attack when we open the lid now, and we try to help the girls kill them with the pairing knives we use to cut propolis off the bars. I didn’t know wasps and bees would literally tear each other apart until we starting keeping them.
The orange hive, which is the one that lost its queen, is still struggling. We have moved more bars over and they did hatch some queens, but I think they were suffering from a lack of food. We’ve put syrup feeders inside the back of the hive, behind their active bars, where they can access them without fighting with wasps.
You would see a horrible Paint drawing. Just joshin. The point I am trying to make is that the fragile orange hive bees are protected from the kamikaze predations of the wasps because you’d have to go in through the front entrance, where you’d hit a solid follower board with a hole about the size of a small plum. Then you’d have to fight past all the comb covered in bees, who know you smell funny, make it through the last follower board/small hole in the back, and then get the syrup and come back out again.
We have found dead wasps in the very back of the hive. It feels like an Indiana Jones thing when we open it up–behold the skellingtons of the foolish tomb robbers who have come before. We don’t see a lot of that in the purple hive because they have SO MANY FUCKING BEES OMG so there’s always a clean up crew.
Ladies’ Hammer Club was busy busy this week but not very satisfying. I didn’t expect to have my head turned by any of the trades we visited this week, and I was not pleasantly surprised. I think because it’s summer and people are very busy working that we are kind of getting the bum’s rush quickly. Ironworkers were supposed to have us for six hours, but we got there and our guide said, “The usual guy is out crabbing, and we don’t have any ladies to pull in to talk to you today.” We cut some steel with a torch and were hustled out in two hours. The brick and tile masons seemed kind of similarly unprepared and indifferent about having us there. The trades that have been the most gracious, surprise, surprise, have the highest numbers of women and want to recruit them. I want to talk to you about the gender politics I’ve observed but I’m going to have to put a pin in for now since I have a frittata in the oven and am heading out to pick apples this a.m. Soon!
I enjoyed being at the plasterers, but I don’t really want to plaster for a living. I wasn’t aware that McMansions, which look like stone, etc from a distance, are made of thick foam siding with a plaster or faux stone overlay.
It was a great workout though. The mud is very heavy and you’re holding 10-20 pounds of it all day on your hawk and trowel, or heaving huge buckets of mud.
I had fun pressing the hemp threads into the molds, which keeps it from crumbling.
Yesterday I went back to Habitat for Humanity. They’re trying to expand into maintaining communities in need, rather than just building new structures, so I helped with maintenance at a retirement community. An area utility was there as well, providing LED lightbulbs, and the mayor of Renton gave a little talk. I changed furnace filters and fire alarm batteries while my Americorps partner gave a disaster preparedness talk to the home’s residents. I worked with her on the build I went to a couple of weeks ago and she taught me how to use a nailgun. She likes women in my program because we are handy efforty buttkickers and I like her! She said she was hoping I’d join her group.
I was the only person in my cohort there, in part because yesterday was extra and voluntary. Lots of my classmates have to work around class time this summer. I really, really like my group, but it was fun to be solo. It reminded me of when I was doing apartment maintenance right out of high school–landscaping, change light bulbs, dig ditches, whatever. I was outside for most of the day and as soon as my head hit the pillow I fell asleep. We had a second partner, who was my sister’s age and had never done basic home maintenance, and expressed amazement when I could do things like take panels off furnaces without obvious handles or screws, and knew different models of fire alarms and how they worked (which I used to sell/copywrite for at Amazon, plus I’ve always been a little handy).
I heard a lot of stories yesterday, about 50+ year marriages and divorces and children and retiring from good jobs from the state 30 years ago. I cannot fathom being retired for 30 years. I don’t think it’s going to happen.
I’m in the home stretch now–four weeks left. We all have senioritis. I have two more three-day weeks, and then a four day week the week of Labor Day, and then my last week is a five-day including graduation. Next week we are going down to King County Metro to see the mechanics’ shop where they work on the busses, and to a real working construction site to get the lay of the land.
I thiiiiink I may actually get a job when this is over. Whew.
Compared to the usual, things have been very exciting around here this weekend. Don’t get me wrong, I LOOOOVE boredom. Super into it. But a couple of things actually happened.
I got up early on Friday and fed the chickens and made coffee. I heard a car running outside the fence and peeked over–there was a sedan, running, empty, with the windshield wipers intermittently flapping. P. was actually wearing pants so I sent him outside the fence to investigate.
“It’s stolen,” he said. “The ignition is completely gone.”
Nightmere basking in the morning sun in the chicken pen
We called the cops and an officer came shortly afterwards, and told me that the car had already been reported as stolen. It turns out the owners were right up the street, because a man and woman walked up a few minutes later. Franny espied on what they were saying–they had last seen the car at 8 p.m. and had gone to bed later, and it was gone in the morning. They got in and drove their running, ignitionless car home. It still had half a tank of gas (I looked).
There’s been some progress with the bees. Somehow, we lost our first queen in the orange hive. It’s very possible that we crushed or drowned her, or maybe she up and died on her own. We could tell things were going wrong, because one week they were pretty mad, and then the population began dropping, and the only new bees being produced were drones. This means you have laying workers.
It’s kind of cool if you think about it. No queen equals no fertililzed eggs being laid (fertilized eggs result in girl bees). So the workers take over and create as many boys as possible, which will then go out and hopefully spread their genetics with a queen in another hive. Nature is smarter than just waiting for everyone to die. This condition is commonly referred to as a “colony of lost boys.”
However, you can maybe help turn things around if you have a “queenright” hive. We pulled bars with open larvae out of the healthy orange hive for three weeks in a row, brushed the adult orange hive bees off, and inserted that bar in between existing bars in the ailing purple hive.
Miraculously this can do a few things. The larvae emit a scent that smells like a queen and can suppress laying in the workers. The workers are aware they are missing a queen, so they accept the open larvae, and raise them up to be a new queen. Old hands say this process of adding new bars can take 3-4 weeks before things get corrected again. In the meantime we knew we were providing the purple hive with already capped cells filled with girl worker bees, which would hatch and help nurse new bees and feed the hive. Bees accept unhatched bees as their own.
Yesterday, on the third week after we had begun Operation Purple Queenright, we found many queen cups, which are special cells workers build when they are creating a new queen. Possibly the first strong queen to hatch took over. She then races around and kills any other hatching queens.
So there they were as we peeped in–hatched queen cups. They look like they have little porch roofs over the cells, unlike worker cells (flat) or drone cells (domed).
Here’s a close up of what was happening:
The arrow on the left points to a vacated queen cup. Worker cells are flatter. As a bonus, you can see an emerging worker bee. This is what I meant by the bonus influx of workers you get from sharing bars among hives. So, already in this first year I am very happy to have two hives. Three might be ideal, but that adds a half hour a week to maintenance, and I am not sure we’re ready for that just yet.
The weather is causing the bees to beard (aka “hang out on porch”) in the afternoon to cool things off. We are doing the same.
I bought a silly pool from the drug store.
We’re getting highs in the low 90s here, so the garden is doing great.
“THERE WAS A RAT IN MY ROOM LAST NIGHT,” she said.
“Oh lord. Was it big?”
“YES IT WAS HUGE. IT WAS ON MY HEADBOARD.”
Uh oh. We did some investigating and I found poo behind her bed, which did not actually look like rat poo to me. I brought the dogtectives in. Strudel had slammed her door shut, and if the rat was truly as large as she described, it was probably still trapped in there.
Edith found the poo and gave it a good sniffing.
“Yes, without a shadow of a doubt, this is definitely poo, Mother” she said.
“Find Squirrel, Edith!” I said, hopefully. Extrapolation has never been her strong suit.
“Yes, Mother, I have found this amazing poo that you have seen and discovered on your own and it smells weird. My job is done here.”
I called in Det. Horace, who had been sent out to take a morning wee first. He inspected the poo.
“FIND SQUIRREL, HORACE!”
Within thirty seconds, had had tracked the rat to under a dresser. P. sighed and got some gloves and tongs (?), not knowing what he would encounter. He emerged with a baby possum that was the size of a large rat.
“A cat definitely brought this in,” he said.
“Put it in our sucky neighbor’s yard!” I said. He did not. Det. Horace got a raise!!
Franny made a wee card. She said this is what you get when you die.
I have an association with the word pro–as just a positive thing meaning “for” as in “pros and cons.” Today I learned that propolis literally means “before the city,” or “suburb.” I like this perspective on beehives. In the literature and on websites I can read, people explain propolis as “bee glue,” which it is, but if you look at a hive holistically, it is the coating that is used on the outside of the hive, before you get to the city.
We have to pop propolis seals every time we move the bars. P. and I talk every time we go in about what our goals are for the day. For the past couple of weeks, fortunately, our only goal has been to make sure things are going okay and not to fix the comb structure. Since everything was pretty mellow in the hives this morning, I asked P. if he wanted to try excising one of the hair clips we’d put in to save some comb, when we were removing doubles.
Originally we had clipped the comb and tied it to a bar. The bees fixed what we did and built more comb to attach it to the bar above it. I had heard that sometimes bees will totally submerge a clip, but ours left some bee space, so it was slightly easier to cut out. Unless something weird happens, the bees will now backfill the empty space the comb left.
The capped cells are drones and the empty brown cells are where newbees have already emerged (this empty area was the original size of the comb when we first added the clip). This is from the purple hive and they have put in a baby BOOM. I bet we saw ~500 capped cells. Next week at this time the hive will probably have 500 more bees in it!! This hive seems to have completely recovered from its early steep population drop. To the right you can see empty, new cells. They will probably contain a mix of pollen, honey, and more brood.
When we first attached the clip to the comb, the teeth went right through some brood and honey. Some brood cells were inside the hairclip itself, and it looked like the bees had successfully hatched from inside the clip and had been cared for properly.
I cleaned off the hairclip as best I could and put it back in my bee crate that I keep my supplies in, like the smoker and the bee brush.
This was white kitchen twine like you would tie a roast up in, and was used to hold the clip to the bars. Now it is yellow from propolis and fuzzy from being chewed upon.
When we are finished and put the roofs back on, and empty the remains of the smoker into the firepit, we check each other for stray bees before taking our beecoats off to prevent crushing them, getting stung, or carrying some into the house. I had three bees on the back of my coat. P. gently brushed them off and they all went plop plop down to the patio.
“I’m going to put them in this geranium so they don’t get stepped on,” he said. He lifted each bee up and put it on a leaf. It’s possible they were a little chilly yet, since it was before 9 a.m. Bees do best in some heat and part of the reason they get pissed when we look at them is because they like their brood areas to be around 90 F. We can often feel the heat rolling out of the hive when we move bars.
One of the bees was very soft and fuzzy, with a clearer body and looked perfect. “Uh oh, I think we picked up a new hatcher,” he said. Her first flight might have been to land on my back, and she might not have been completely ready to be that far away from the hive. A second bee on another leaf rushed over to her and began stroking her face.
Then she started feeding her. I could see her tongue going in, but my camera cannot. I am increasingly irritated by my point and shoot. It just doesn’t capture what I see.
Then a second bee came over and started feeding the new bee as well. I don’t know what happened after that, because P. moved the whole plant and put it on top of the hive, to give her a better shot at getting home.
In other news, my period came on little cat feet this month instead of with big cramps that make me want to lay in bed and moan. I am starting to notice a really tragic correlation between the amount of sugar I eat and how bad my period is. WHY GOD WHY :/
Call me Samuel Beepys. If you have not seen this really cool video yet of a bee metamorphosis, I highly recommend it.
pollen baskets ahoy
Over the past three weeks we’ve been fixing a self-inflicted disaster. I was gripped by indecision paralysis about something called comb guides. Here is what the inside of our top bar hives look like, basically. You can see that there are literal bars that are supposed to remain movable, that is to say, not glued together with comb (wax) and plant goo (propolis). Check this out: it did not occur to me that if I did not make “guides” on the bars that the bees would get in there are perceive it as a big cave and just start building comb anyfuckingplace. Because surely horrible smoky bears will not come once a week and tear the roof off and poke around, right? Wrong. It’s like Minecraft except I’m the monster.
So they started building their hanging combs on the cracks between the bars, or two to a bar. This was causing everything to be fused together and to fall down when we would try to inspect. I am so dumb. It’s like any hobby you get into–there’s a million ways to do one thing, and everyone has a different opinion. I just never decided on one thing.
So we went in and retroactively added some square “dowels” to some of the bars and fixed what we could. But this has caused a lot of chaos in the hive and for me to be stung many times now. Sooo I am over that fear. I get kind of feverish feeling and semi-useless for the rest of the day. Plus there is the big adrenaline dump (for me, some people are probably super casual about it).
Also I have discovered that it is terrifying opening a hive and looking into it sometimes. I get kind of frozen, just seeing the thousands of bees and hearing them raise their buzz until it is louder and truly angry-sounding as we get close to the queen. I think this is the last day we will be wrecking shop and the new comb is being drawn straight.
Even though you have done nothing wrong I have still made you a terrible drawing in paint to show how this works.
cutting away the double comb veeeery carefully
Fingers crossed next week I will not be stung. So far I think this is going well in that they are still alive and reproducing, and we have seen combs full of honey, but we are just leaving them alone for now.
This is some wayward comb that we had to remove that had some drones hatching out of it. As we have been moving comb around and removing fallen comb from the bottom of the hive, we’ve been putting it back on top of the bars if it has capped brood. This means the baby bees are done eating, they are just sealed up and growing at that point. If they stay warm and safe they seem to hatch out okay in the “attic.”
This is some of my favorite bee-behavior (beehavior): festooning. You can see fallen comb bits on the bottom of the hive. We had to clean those up, which caused the stings.
They make funny little daisy chains between the combs. When we pull the bars to inspect them, they are often chained together like this. After we were done and my heart was all racing and I was starting to swell from stings, I had a snort of gin and then mopped the kitchen. I really look forward to Saturdays now.
This morning I made sunscreen, because the last time I put on my (corny) regular sunscreen a few weeks ago I had one of my “narcoleptic” episodes where I fell asleep randomly, as I mentioned that I do recently.
It was pretty easy. I joke about my narcoleptic episodes sometimes, but corn is no joke for me. When I worked for M$ I had a loooong bus ride home and I would deeply, deeply pass out. One time I woke up and the bus was packed and a guy was kind of pawing me. A. that shouldn’t have happened to anyone but B. if I am honest, I have to say it didn’t bother me that much. Would I like to kick him in the kidneys until he pees blood? Yes, I would take that chance. But (hey let’s get darker) much worse things have happened to me. I didn’t have anyone to tell at the time, so I didn’t tell anyone. I went into my trusty ol’ Don Draper mode of “it will shock you how much this never happened.”
BUT LET’S AVOID THAT MOVING FORWARD, OKAY. Homemade sunscreen. HIGHKICKS.
Let’s have a picture of a dog terrified by a robotic vacuum. I’d just gotten back from a run yesterday. She does this every time it runs. Poor baby.
WHEW. This is going to be picture-heavy. I will try to go easy on the commentary for this one because I know you gots other things to do with your day.
I’ve been dragging my feets on posting in part because the weather is SO DAMN NICE now, following the trend of this winter. Also because my laptop is a problem child and makes using the internet painful. (Hence me blogging at work *cough*.) I finally pinned it to the wifi adaptor. It randomly drops the wifi signal. I tried updating it, but the manufacturer doesn’t even have a page, and the random site that was hosting updates seems to be corrupted…anyway this thing works great if I am right next to the router. BRB the kitchen is my new home.
ALSO we had a little “staycation” for the first week of May, which was nothing too dramatic. Our only plan was to go see art at the Frye and we walked in and nothing was on display! We wandered around Capitol Hill instead. I like to joke that we are vampires now because we used to go out to eat but now we go into a restaurant and order whatever drink won’t make me ill (water/gin) and then watch the humans stuffing their gobs with any damn thing. SO INNOCENT. I USED TO BE YOU.
In other, less whiny news
I’ve been monkeying around with bread lately. I like these little “Paleo” biscuits, but not all the time. There is something about them that is very squishy white-bready, which is not really something I’ve enjoyed much for the past few years. They make pretty good biscuit subs, as in “biscuits-n-gravy.”
Ninety seconds of nuking later…
They creep up the side of the mugs. As far as “starchy” things go, it could be a lot worse. We’re still on the mostly veggies plan.
HOWEVER. I do like injera at home now. I let the batter sit for two days and get really sour. They are trickier to cook than pancakes or socca, but I am getting the hang of it.
Speaking of gluten free, Mother’s Day was nice. We got the yard pretty much spiffed up in time. Lights hung, more flowers planted…
P. spent a couple of weeks fretting about my request for petit fours. He found a cake recipe that was acceptable to everyone and spent some time testing things. It’s REALLY good. Many of my MD pics turned out blurry, so, ugh. Sorry about that.
In the end, there was CAKE!
He made enough for an army and and I basically had four pieces over two days. I sent some home with my sister, who was happy about that I think.
Evidence of happiness
“I’m a pupa” GET OUT OF MY HAMMOCK WITH THAT
“You eat borscht and get strong like ox, pull cart to village.”
In other, other news
Franny and I are both having nightmares about our respective problem parents right now. I feel bad for her because I basically married my mother, so this is 100% my fault. “Here, kid, have the same parenting experience I did.” GOLD STAR FOR ME.
In my dream I was having extreme angst over the direction in which I am trying to take my life, and my mother was there. “Why can’t you just help me?” I pleaded with her. “Help me break into your field.” I don’t want to be in her field, but in my dream I think I was looking for a quick fix.
“I can’t do that. I’ve never done that,” she replied, scoffing. I teared up had a moment of being deeply ashamed of asking for help from her when I knew what the outcome would be, and felt rejected like I used to when I would ask for things as a child. I felt myself steel-up like I used to when I had to rely on just myself.
“I can do this,” I thought in the dream. God, that’s a heavy one, isn’t it!
I’ve had some serious and not-so-serious talks with my sister lately about the past. I don’t think I could really accept until pretty recently that she was kind of in the same boat I was in–which is to say looking for a mother outside of our biological mother. When I was much younger it was super complicated. I almost felt jealous of her, since our mother was present from the time of her birth without any major gaps unlike my upbringing. However, I also felt really guilty for moving away and “abandoning” my sister when I became an adult. I’m grateful that my mother (inevitably) hosed up her third marriage and moved to my city with my sister. That was when I was able to take care of some needs that I didn’t really understand that my sister had. Regardless of the different phases of our mother that we got, the outcome was about the same. I inadvertently (and often very poorly) filled in a lot of the parenting and it was still a much more satisfying situation for my sister. Loooongtime readers may recall my sister was at my house when she was in high school A LOT. She practically lived with me at one point. I have apologized to my sister for so many times for some of the dumb things I did, but have made peace with the fact that I was in my early twenties and did not really understand how much she was relying on me! I don’t think any of us knew what was happening.
Can we say HERO/CARETAKER ROLE? Gee, I wonder why I have 284 animals. HA HA. Quick, someone pour me a glass of something before I become completely sapient.
This is dark, but sometimes I think it would have been better for everyone in the past if my mother had aborted me, like she told me she wanted to. It was always clear to me that I was unwanted and a burden as a child. But I’m glad in my adulthood that people have me, like my sister, since I know what it feels like to lose the people you bond with as your parents. I’m glad my girls have me. And childhood is relatively short, and then you go on and make your own life. I’m the buffer (ordering business cards with that title now). We may not be walking down the correct path, always, but it will be a new one, by god. Mother’s Day made me have some deep thoughts, I guess.
The medlar has decided to make exactly one bloom on the top of itself, like the tree that thought it was a primrose, I suppose.
We got up early and went to a site near Boeing Field to pick up the bees. It was pretty cool to roll up on a trailer full of bee boxes, and feeling the mild terror that two of them were ours. I added some more pics to the top bar hive album and there’s a video in there as well. If you look closely you may notice that P. and I have matching hats with bills to keep the mesh off our faces. If the mesh rests against your nose, you will likely get stung right there.
Franny was very brave and took pictures in her flip flops and shorts. She is the insect whisper. She was picking up loose bees off the ground at the pick up site and looked sad when P. told her she could not take a loose one home. Then her new friend flew off her sleeve and into our trunk as we loaded the packages in, and she beamed. “I always pet bees,” she said.
It’s really a perfect day to install them. Mild, clear, warm, not windy. The backyard is full of bees now as they get oriented in their new homes. The air filled up when the sun finally hit the hives. We didn’t get stung once, which was a relief. I was just kind of bracing myself for it.
The queens looked active in their little cages and we plugged the holes up with marshmallow, which she and her new friends should chew through in about 3 days. Shan’s coming in a bit to hang out and spend the night as she’s up here on a little business. Lucky me! Haven’t seen her for a year and a half. Very excited. I made sure she’s not allergic to honeybees.
I’m sure I’ll post pictures here ongoingly (I love this non-word), but I’ve also started a hive album on le flickrs. The set is fetal right now, and my first hive is still a pile of wood on the back porch. But, it’s supposed to be sunny on Saturday and we kind of know what we’re doing now that we’ve cut one out. I am also hoping to have a better camera soon so we can get some good bee and honey porn going.
I know it looks like I’m doing fuck all in these pictures, but he is the cutter. He has more practice. I learned to use power tools in art class in high school, but I used them then for dubious projects like “cut legs off thrift store Barbies for repurposing into angst sculpture.” GOD BLESS my high school art teacher who had a bandsaw and let 17 year-old stoners use it. I also sawed up all my Crown Hill coop parts myself. For this project, I did a lot of measuring. I am the measurer and he is the cutter. A shared duty was arguing about “What does this part of the plans mean?”.
I’m using these plans. They are in British but they are in imperial measurements and contain this note on dimensions:
The author still thinks in feet and inches, despite all attempts to modernize him, so that is mostly what you will find used here. As a concession to people who insist on using metric measurements (a wholly artificial system, based on an erroneous calculation of the circumference of the Earth), if you convert using 1 inch = 25mm or 1 foot = 30cm you will be close enough. Anyone pedantic enough to convert using several decimal places will get the result they deserve.
Awesome. We are keeping with the plans except doing a front entrance for the bees and hinging the roof so it doesn’t need to be lifted off and set somewhere.
We decided on top bar hives in part because historically both of us have had touchy/injured backs over the years, though they’ve been mostly fine since we changed our diets last year. This is a significant consideration, because the big hives that you may think of when you see bee hives, that look like file cabinets, can be quite heavy when they need to be opened and worked. You can be tasked with picking up a “file drawer” of ~60 pounds of wood and honey, whereas with a top bar hive you can open the roof like a treasure chest lid and pull out one comb at a time, which will be more like ~6 pounds. We could handle that, even with tweaky backs. So the bees will not ever be neglected due to illness or injury, I hope.
I realized as I was emailing with a Victorian Concerns friend a couple of days ago and nattering on about bees (just like now) that the Langstroths were invented in 1852, smack in the middle of Victorian things. It seemed so right, this idea of putting bees in tidy boxes (filed away if you will) with fixed-size frames that the bees must conform to, rather than letting them build free form combs. MAN’S DOMINION OVER NATURE.
The weather has been CRAZY here. Two days ago it snowed, lightninged, and hailed in various places in the city. Lightning is rarely seen here, and snow is extremely rare beyond February, let alone April. After we’re done assembling them, I am going to have Franny paint the hives over her spring break and I hope she’ll be able to do it unhindered and undampened.
This bee chatter is just me enjoying talking out of my ass though. Where the stinger meets the choad is the 18th of this month, when the two packages of Italian honeybees get here. Something we’ve been talking about for about ten years now! Boom, accomplishment’d.