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.
So imagine taking the roof off of the hive and looking down into it.
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.