Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Wylie is Ten (and three weeks)

WyGuy did in fact have a birthday, the day after we returned home from our CA vacation.  He is officially 10 and as far as I can tell it is a fine age to be a boy (and the parent of said boy).  He asked for three things on his special day--a Minecraft tee shirt, an Arduino board (look it up), and that his presents be hidden as a treasure hunt.  Easily done.

For a party he wanted only his two closest cousins (closest in age and proximity) to spend the night, and ten hours of Minecraft.  Yes, ten.  Not so easy for this mama who tries to limit screen time to much more reasonable amounts, but it was his birthday.
Wylie asked to include this picture because--"it looks like I'm turning into a zombie from too much Minecraft!"

 Happy Birthday sweet boy,  hope your 10th year is full of adventure and discovery--and a bit of quiet reading and reflection for balance!  Love you.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

A word about the bees

Two weeks ago I discovered that my newest hive (the one formed from the split) with my trusty senior queen who had carried last year's hive through winter so beautifully, was limping along.  There was no brood in the hive, very little honey, and no queen that I could see.  Hmm.  I read, I asked, I attended our county bee keepers meeting.  Most every source agreed I should re-unite the hives I had split since the other one was not particularly strong either (turns out this has been a particularly hard season for bees in Maine). Combining hives involves taking the weaker hive and stacking on top of a stronger hive with a sheet of newspaper in between the two hives so the bees can become accustomed to the other colony's smell before they can actually make contact.  The idea is that by the time they chew through the paper they will no longer want to kill each other.   
Well, I did my best.  

The bees didn't love it.  Actually they hated it.  The poor ladies coming in from the field were confused that their home was no longer where they'd left it.  The ones that had been moved no longer had a normal entrance/exit available to them.  It was chaos in the bee yard for a day or two.  It settled down for one cool day, but the next day was in the upper 80's, and those confused bees had had enough.  They swarmed.  

This may be a lot of info for non-bee keepers, so I'll just say that a swarm in August is bad news. 
An old proverb states... 
"A Swarm in May is worth a bale of Hay, a swarm in June is worth a silver spoon,  a Swarm in July isn't worth a Fly."  

So you can imagine what a swarm in August is worth, less than nothing, especially if you can't catch it! Mine landed 60 feet up in an old pine, and 12 feet out on a limb.  Nearly impossible to retrieve.  They hung there for three days, then flew off when no one was looking.  
A bee keeping friend of mine with 15 years experience had two hives swarm last week, so at least I don't feel like it was all due to my novice skills.  

It turns out (in case we ever thought otherwise) bees do what they want, when the they want.  And those of us who try our best to "keep" them are fortunate to smell the amazing scents coming from the bee yard in August, watch their never ending dances among the flowers, and if we're lucky, we get to harvest a bit of their gold each summer.  

(Below--the swarm up close, and as viewed from the back yard, in various setting on my new camera!)


Thursday, August 15, 2013

In the Garden

Though the photos don't do it justice--I've switched to taking pictures with my iPad, which is a bit cumbersome, and the results are washed out color-wise--but hey, its better than nothing as I still haven't looked into repairing/replacing our camera.  You'll have to trust me, that the colors right now are fantastic--pink flox and echinacea, deep blue/green kale, rich golden rod and the berries on the asperagus as well as our first apples ever just turning red.  The garden is a very sweet place these days, with baby ferns creeping up on the cabbages which are finally forming heads, and the frog pond full of little jumpy guys.  The beets are being pulled slowly, two or three at a time for dinner (and one 5 lb. harvest for pickling) along with the single zucchini per week we've been averaging, and the handful of cucumbers.  I've put up one very small batch of basil pesto (that was disappointingly oily) but more to come for sure.  Dilly beans are in our future, and I picked the very first red tomato this morning (alongside our very first red leaf to spot the lawn-- oh August!, you are too quick to autumn). 

Oh August...

Monday, August 12, 2013

Junebug's Birthday

In the midst of packing for, and unpacking from California, we had a couple of birthday celebrations. 
Juniper turned 8 the last week of July, after a week of preparing (19!) paper dolls for all of her birthday guests and their siblings.  I told her she could draw one and photo copy it for the others, but she was insistent that each doll look like its recipient.  So she went to it.  

For a gift she requested a birthday dress, "like Maria at the abbey", from the Sound of Music, "but blue"  Hmm.  We worked out the details and after a trip to the fabric store and a bit of bitching (to myself, and any adult who would listen) about how I certainly could have bought her a Hannah Anderson dress for this price and not have had to make it myself... got down to business.  Truth be told, I was kind of ready for a more complicated sewing task, and I hadn't sewn a thing really since last winter.  And, surprisingly it came out better than expected.  Its the first fully lined garment I've sewn, so I'm kinda feeling like a rock star with this one (just don't look too closely at the seams).  
We did a lot of trying on throughout the process, and I negotiated for a colorful apron, since I knew a white one would be brown in a matter of days.  I also went with a kerchief in place of the postulant's habit, because, well, yeah.  

Her day started foggy, and ended rainy.  We persevered with the lake birthday party regardless of the weather and it worked out well.  Kids don't care if its raining, and the parents can suck it up for two hours. 
It ended up being a very sweet time with many good friends, some we hadn't seen in ages.  And they each got a paper doll.


More on the next birthday later.... 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Summer fun, and funny quote

"Mama, you would have dump out your whole piggy bank, and all of your friend's piggy banks if you wanted to buy a fire truck."  --Kale


Friday, August 9, 2013

A Blog post without kids--and a whole week too!

So, we went to California, without our kids!  It was pretty amazing in so many ways, from the ease with which our kids relaxed into Mimi's home for six whole days, to the ease with which she accepted them; the smooth flights, gorgeous weather, beautiful wedding, wonderful friends and our readiness for home at the end of the week.  It couldn't have worked out better.  The one bummer of the trip was that my camera broke on our first day out there.  Rob's phone takes great pictures, so we could still document the trip, but you'll notice way more pictures of me than usual.  

We spent two separate afternoons in San Diego, at Seaport Village, the Gas Lamp District, and Old Town San Diego.  Then, hopped in our rented Mini Cooper (my new favorite car!--you should see the thing pull a U turn! And while I'm thinking of it, how did people ever travel before GPS?)

We drove north out of the city until we saw a place to sink our toes into pacific sand.  "From one corner of the US to another" --kid in front of us at the rental car place.  
I was stunned by the difference in landscape.  Southern CA was much more desert than I expected, and the succulents growing everywhere were a surprise to me.  There were jade plants growing as hedges in front gardens, and amazing cacti blooming along the highways.  I've never really been a succulent fan, until now.  There's something sexy about a succulent (aside from the name) don't you think?  Maybe you have to be an adult to appreciate them.  

We spent the first two nights at Hotel Laguna, built in the 1930s directly on Laguna Beach.  It was stunning. Old architecture, sweet little tile bathrooms and classy furniture, real brass room keys, and a back staircase to the outdoor dining and beach.  We had coffee on the board walk shortly after sunrise, and watched the surfers from the beach front patio over breakfast.  I ran on the beach, and boogie boarded on huge (compared to east coast) waves, in surprisingly cold water--though nothing like our icy Maine Atlantic. We kissed more than we have since our wedding day.

Then we headed inland for two days to celebrate with some of our favorite guys (Rob's childhood friends, and my high school pals) and their wives who happen to be some of the funniest women I've had a chance to hang with.  Eric and Tauna's wedding was sweet.  Their minister was a beach-volleyball friend who told their love story in laid back California style for 20 minutes, then said, "but you came for a wedding right?" And married them.  The ceremony and reception were held at a vineyard in Temecula, CA, with views of the mountains, rows of grapes, and a DJ with real turn tables, who really mixed it up--second only to the band at the "Beer Garden" from the night before who rocked Adele, Vanilla Ice, and The Commodores equally well. We even managed to convince the groom to break dance.  

When day six rolled around we were reluctant to leave our friends, but ready to be home with our kids again.  The flight home was a red eye, reverse time change, so we arrived in Maine after 7 hours travel, 10 hours by the clock, and 3 hours of airplane sleep.  Oh well.  Anyone complaining of air travel should watch this skit from Conan O'Brien.
We arrived home sleepy but happy.  It was sweet to spend a whole week appreciating my Honey.  It's really easy to let our relationship take the back seat to parenting.  This trip was a good reminder that kids sit in the back for a reason!  Of course, now that we're back to the daily rhythm, keeping that in mind will be another story.