Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Three Stooges Decide to Keep Bees Part I

Famous first words--Of Nikki's, ( the three stooges decide to keep bees) when we first committed to keeping bees. I remember her laughing pretty hard after she said it. There were three of us and yes, in hindsight, Nikki wasn't that far off.

But we were ready and curious, Lisa, Nikki and me-- anxious to learn a new skill: beekeeping.  And Saturday we picked up our bees and the fun, the guessing, the agony, the simple joys began.

But first, the beginning thoughts and how we ended up as novice beekeepers: We were on our regular Tuesday hike where we talk about politics, books, goals, hobbies, children, everything and anything to make the miles fun. I distinctly remember asking, "Do you know what I'd like to do? I'd really like to keep bees." Nikki's voice took a leap, Lisa was positive, and maybe, I thought, they will do this with me.  Because I'd never do it alone.

Time passed and nothing was spoken about bees until the day Nikki informed us she'd signed up for a bee class and sent us the link. The next email included a link to register for a bee license. Wow.

  Lisa remembered it like this: "When we talked about beekeeping, I was like, whatever, and next thing I knew, Nikki had signed up for a class." And then Nikki got a bee outfit and a smoker for Christmas.  Lisa  stepped up to the plate and started reading Beekeeping for Dummies.

I can't tell you how many times, I decided not to keep bees. Even after the class. Husband and I would be living in Nice France during a critical stage of the developing hive. I mentioned this to the other stooges. "We'll take care of it while you're gone."

Anticipation was high on the morning we picked up three packages of 10,000 bees each. Lisa compared it to adopting a newborn--which reinforced my insecurities of not knowing what I was doing.

On a Sunday evening after putting the last bees in Nikki's hive, I breathed a sigh of relief and marveled that yet another idea had come to fruition. It had been less than a year since the idea floated, landed and sprouted in fertile ground. It's amazing what can happen with the right idea, the right chemistry, when three women decide to change their world.

Next post: Never tell a curious, educated woman (or any woman for that matter), to do exactly what you  say, no questions asked.
Followed by: The bee installation weather conundrum.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Friday, April 25, 2014

Sort of Like Parenting

The BEES ARRIVE tomorrow. I've done everything I can to learn about the art of beekeeping. I've taken a class. I've read books, read websites, watched videos, youtube tutorials, spent hours hiking and discussing bee theory with Lisa and Nikki.
The hives are ready, swarm trap set, smoker engaged, bee water source set-up, even the state of Utah has issued me a beekeeper license; yet, I'm clueless.

I feel as prepared as I was for my first child. Remember? The crib was set-up, Bradley classes under my belt, the nursery was stocked with clothes, blankets, diapers,...then labor. Then we brought "it" home.

Writing is at least a fraction comparable to bees and children. We think a lot about it. But it's only in the doing that makes us experts. Or is it the same way with bees and children--we never become an expert--  we only have moments of frustration, growth, perfection, pseudo-mastery, happiness. The commonality the three endeavors all share is that success is dependent on the behavior, the attitude, the acceptance of others. But nothing gets in the way of doing and the enjoyment that comes from the endeavor. One guarantee only: we'll always get stung.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Strange Little Morels--To Eat of Not to Eat

These little $20 a lb. gems were growing in my backyard. There was a family debate whether or not we, Tony and I, should eat the fungus I'd plucked from the dirt. A friend had done some research and thought they were fine. After checking through several internet photos (always a surety), I pulled the trigger by tossing butter into a pan and turning on the heat. And they were delicious. Never mind the tiny pieces of dirt that had stowed away in those lovely combs, the flavor was scrumptious.

So of course, the children wondered if we were okay after we had eaten the not-competely-sure-these -are-safe-to-eat MUSHROOMS.

The text thread was initiated by our oldest daughter who had just served a tri-tip, asparagus, and raspberry bread pudding with vanilla cream sauce. The end of her menu bragging read: Are you still alive Mom and Dad?

The youngest daughter replied: Yes, they are alive. They are running around the neighborhood naked. It's safe to say they weren't morels. Something else in the mushroom family.

My reply: No, I'm the naked one. Dad's in a cowboy hat and boots. Followed by a few LOLs.

Good food and a few laughs. Can't wait to search for morels next spring.

Found in Les Halles French Market On June 102014: Dried morrels $1000 for a kilogram.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

One Step At A Time--Start Today


Over fifteen years ago, I read a story in the Ladies’ Home Journal that changed my life—not in one grand sweeping moment, but by continual small steps taken over the next fifteen years. Jaroldeen Edwards’ article, The Secret Garden, tells of a bleak, rainy day when Edward’s daughter insisted she accompany her on a short journey. Grudgingly, Ms. Edwards went along and was rewarded with an awe-inspiring scene of a daffodil covered mountain. For forty years, the woman behind the daffodil covered mountain, planted daffodil bulbs one at a time. The scene left Ms. Edwards speechless, contemplative and determined to make small-step changes to add beauty to her own life. Jaroldeen Edwards writes: “Imagine—if I had had a vision and had worked at it, just a little bit every day for all those lost years, what might I have accomplished by now.”
The Secret Garden, inspired me to plant over 600 daffodil bulbs on the hillside beneath my own home. Over the years, the bulbs have multiplied and every spring, I reap the rewards of my labor. For three weeks, I have huge bouquets of daffodils on my kitchen table and vases of fragrant flowers on my desk at school. Students love the display of yellows and oranges that assure them spring has arrived and summer vacation is only a few short months away.
For four years, the one page article The Secret Garden, rested in my school filing cabinet.
It was the end of the school year, and I was preparing to pass my ninth grade class to a new teacher, as I prepared to teach twelfth graders. After welcoming the new ninth grade teacher, I gave her access to all my files. As Mrs. Richardson thumbed through my filing cabinet, she stopped and turned to me with tears in her eyes. In her hands was The Secret Garden.
“This was my mother,” she said.

Summer passed and the new school year started. I pulled out The Secret Garden, still unsure of what writing project I could base on the story; but I wanted to inspire the students and I knew it would be an honor to have the author’s daughter read the story.
As Mrs. Richardson read, tears welled in her eyes and the students were silent. I had expected them to ask questions and when they didn’t, I was a little embarrassed. When she left, I asked my students, “So, what did you think?”
Silence again, until a quiet voice from the back of the room said, “I think we should plant daffodils.”
The energy in the room picked up. It was already the second of November and probably too late to plant bulbs. But while the east coast was pelted with horrific weather, the west coast was blessed with unusual record high temperatures. I read that bulbs should be planted around the same time that trees were losing their leaves. I looked around; it was the perfect time to plant daffodil bulbs.
The garden shop selection was slim, but I still purchased 300 daffodil and tulip bulbs for students to plant. On a beautiful fall day, we gathered to shovel hard dirt and place bulbs into the ground. I hoped students would learn what Ms. Edwards learned, what I had learned: One step at a time. Start today.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What Simple Act?

For ten years, I planted a garden every spring. For ten years, the deer ate almost the entire garden. I would get an occasional tomato and the deer seemed to leave the zucchini alone. They ate most of the raspberry leaves on half of the raspberry plants. Hey, I was happy to have half a harvest of raspberries. Finally, I put up a fence and oh my, what joy! So many raspberries, I had to freeze bags and bags. One year, I remember freezing almost ten one gallon freezer bags of raspberries. The rest of the garden looked like the Garden of Eden. I even got bold enough to plant tulips. Deer love tulips, so I'd avoided planting tulips.

This year, I was especially excited for the tulips. They had a year behind them and tulips multiply year after year. My visual feast was going to be doubled. And when the feast did come, it was everything I expected: purples, yellows, oranges, pinks, sculpted into forms more artistic than a Monet landscape. The espaliered fruit tree was finally thriving too! I'd moved it three times and this seemed to be the winning location. It was covered with thick green leaves.

When the weather was good, I spent hours in the garden. Planting, weeding, turning soil, and enjoying the tulips. One night I stood on the deck and looked out over the garden. It didn't get any better than this.

Then the painting started. I primed the cold frame and the bee boxes. I had to move throughout the entire backyard, beyond the fenced part of the garden. I had to go in and out of three different gates. It was much easier to leave the gates open. Not once did I worry about shutting the gates--my garden was so beautiful, I had forgotten about the deer.

This morning, I walked into the garden. As I passed the espaliered tree, I took a double take. The leaves were sparse. What happened? Was it a wind storm last night? Had insects gotten to it? My eyes swept over the rest of the garden. The triangle of 50 full-bloom tulips was empty of color. Deer.

I had let my guard down and the enemy came in for the tulip kill. I was heart-sick. How could I have been so careless?

Richard St. John gave a TED talk titled: Success is a Continuous Journey. So many of us do what it takes for success and when we get there, we discontinue the steps and habits that made us successful in the first place and the success seems to slide away. How many times have I done that?  He says, " we get there, figure we've made it, we sit back in our comfort zone and we actually stop doing everything that made us successful and then we start going downhill."

I'd taken the success and beauty of the garden for granted. The success of the garden only depended on  the simple act of shutting a gate.

What simple act might be keeping you from success?