Sunday, October 24, 2010

One time, I had these bees....

 It took me half the summer to move the green bin, where my bees had taken up residence, 
to it's new spot at the top of the hill in my front yard. 
I had to move it 6 inches every day.   This was a familiar sight as I came in from work in the afternoons; my sweet bees humming busily away in the lilac bushes they love so much...working, working, working.  I love those bees.
My family has been slightly less enamoured.  I was (happily) surprised at how supportive Erik was, all summer, when it came to the bee colony.  He NEVER complained about them, even when the green bin temporarily blocked the only walkway into our house.  We all trundled up the hillside, inching the bin along in the meantime, and there was no grousing or grumbling at all.  He thinks the bees made decidedly creepy house guests, so his general lack of ire was well and truly appreciated.  

I have so many pictures like this one, with my family shouting from the doorway about "the bees! the bees!  are the bees coming to get us?!?"  I never once worried that the bees would ever, ever harm or swarm or attack anyone.  Those were (yes, were) the sweetest, sweetest creatures.  

Do you know?  As I mentioned, I would come home after work and walk right into their busiest hours.  I would set my belongings down in the house, and come straight out.  I stood next to their bin every single day, and I talked to them.  I thought they would get used to me, the more I did that.  I can't say for sure what circumstances led to our ultra-peaceful co-existence; I can only tell you that I would often reach out and literally pet those bees...and they would let me.  

When we were in Los Angeles and DisneyLand, our housekeeper came by every couple of days and watered the gardens and moved the bees.  It is ridiculous how happy I was to see my bees when we got back in mid-August!!!  I was so happy to see them, swarming and collecting and bearding and carrying on, all the bee-goody-bee-ness that I had become addicted to.

Then we had a blistering heat wave.  And the honeycomb collapsed into the bin. And I frantically called my bee whisperer, who was on vacation in Canada.  What's that all aboot?  She said she'd call when she came back in a few days.  And she did.  But it was too late.

For a few days, it seemed like all was seemed not to affect them at all!  The bee whisperer had already explained that we'd have to (carefully) cut up the honeycomb to move it, with the queen installed, into the new hive, so I thought maybe, maybe there was a chance that they would be fine.  As long as the queen hadn't died in the collapse, they would be fine.

Within a few days, though, with a sinking heart, I knew it was over.  I came home from work, and there was one bee walking on top of the can.  And no other bees in sight.  With tears in my eyes and dread in my heart, I carefully lifted the lid to find...nothing.  No bees.  

Oh, how I cried.  I cried mostly because I knew that this meant my bees would soon be, if they weren't already, dead.  They wouldn't survive after they abandoned their hive.  The one thing I wanted, all along, was that the bees not die.  I was so afraid of killing them!  I can't say that anything I did caused this to happen...nature can be so cruel, without my help...but of course I couldn't help but feel responsible.  They were counting on me; I let them down.

It was many days before I could even talk to Erik about it.  And, obviously, it hurts me deeply still since it's been more than 7 weeks and I can still barely write about it here.  When I talked to Erik, he was so sweet...he even said we could try for another hive in the spring.  Not too shabby, coming from a guy who had no interest in being an accidental beekeeper.
 Those sweet, sweet bees left me a beautiful gift, of their gorgeous honeycomb.  I asked my bee whisperer why some of it was so dark (was that a sign that there was sickness in my hive all along?) and she told me, "That's from their feet, where they walked on it and used it over and over for their nursery."  It broke my heart to hear that (their feet!  oh dear) and it breaks my heart all over again to write it down.  

But I loved those bees.  I love those bees.  And even though their disappearance was a huge, unbearable loss for me, I can't imagine never having had them at all.  I'm so grateful to those visitors who chose us.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Don't Stop!

I have been soooooooo busy this week, trying to get the Giants through this playoff series!  It's exhausting.  LOL

My cousin (love love love his wife's blog, and both of them!) took Tommy to the game on Tuesday.  Oh, my, he's been on cloud nine!  What a ball he had, a real once in a lifetime experience with, I swear to you, one of his favorite people in the world.  I love that picture of those two, if you click through to this baseball entry!  Moose (or Uncle Moose, as Tommy calls him :) is a HUGE fan, and I was so hoping that they would clinch last night, just for him, because he was at all three home games, but that's not how it worked out.

Like I told Tommy, though, don't stop believing!

I have the marketing department working on finding the camera battery charger, so hopefully life will get back to normal in these parts soon enough!  Of course, here's what constitutes "normal" around here.

Tommy:  Mom!  Scotty said p...h....e.....n....u.....s.
Me:  [Confusion, slowly] Fennus?
Tommy:  [Arches eyebrows and points, discretely, to his crotch]
Me:  Oh, he...he... [helpless laughter, manage to finally squeak out...]  That's okay, honey, that's what he's supposed to say.

Am now wondering what Tommy calls his penis, and hoping whatever it is does not turn out to be an arrestable offense.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Weekend Freakout

Apropos of nothing, I found this picture when my iPhone synced with my Mac Book.  It was taken at the Lego Store when we went to DisneyLand in August (how could it be that it's already been two months?!?!) and it makes me crazy happy.
It's been a weekend of extremes around here...
The Giants game was SO FUN on Saturday and SO NOT FUN on Sunday.
It was sunny and breezy on Saturday and cold and dreary on Sunday.
Saturday was a whirlwind of activity between farm visits and lunch with friends, errands, a visit with a dear friend for most of the evening and a late-night grocery store run.  Sunday was a nothin' doin' day, with the first fire of the season and whole lot of cozy-ing up around The Shire.

 Typical of this nutty weather, for the week before our drizzly Sunday, we had near-record setting highs.  Each morning, I would get up early and hang a load of wash on the line.  When I got home, everything was plenty dry, so Scotty and I would remove everything and start over again the next day.  I needed a refresher of clothes pins last weekend, so I chose to stop by a local hardware store, instead of a Target, to pick up a package.  I need a clothes pin bag.  I really do.  I keep them in a bucket that hangs on a hook on the back fence, and that's the reason why I needed new clothespins...the bucket pools water whenever there's precipitation, then the wood gets moldy or the springs get rusty or the whatever gets however and then, next thing you know, I'm down to a small handful of working pins.

 This cute and simple pin bag was at the local hardware store.  It was only $5.00 so the price was definitely right.  A little too right, if you know what I mean?  So I flipped it around and, sure enough, made in china was stamped on the back.

I started to wonder:  where, exactly, would I be able to purchase something like this that wouldn't have come from China?  How do I show my monetary support for products that come from fair trade practices, support local economies, and don't come with the social and ethical burden of being made in countries unhindered by child labor laws or environmental protections?

I went home and decided to just make one myself.  I used one of Scotty's old shirts, and basically just sewed up the bottom.  Nothing could have been easier.  Also?  It turns out?  It was free, which is actually cheaper than even $5.00.  And I love it, I do.  But I also recognize that I'm no closer to solving my original dilemma.

This turn to cold, fall weather, reminds me that our family needs a slipper refresher.  I found some adorable slippers at Satch and Sol and The Boys and I will get some (nothing there for Erik sad!) and you know what?  I will pay about $100 for the slippers.  I guess if I went to Wal Mart I could get three pairs of slippers for less than half that.  But I can afford it, in the sense that I have the money, but the real trick is that it's how I choose to spend what money I have.  Since I'm going to spend twice as much on these slippers, I'm not also going to have money to buy...what?  I'm not sure.  But whatever it is, I don't need it.

So.  Now.   I need to get rain coats and boots for the boys, and Scotty really wants an umbrella.  
And who can blame him?!  That's fun, right there.  But I find it so distressing that I can't even find these items made (locally) (in my state) (okay, I give up, anywhere in the country) even though I am ready and willing to pay 3 times what their cheap import counterparts command. 

I'm going to go wash my face and lie down.  Somebody fix this while I'm gone.  Thanks.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Clean Kitchen Strategy

 We're getting another mini-heatwave this week.  It's crazy, but I'm getting new growth on bell peppers and all these tomatoes ~ still! ~ I bet I'm getting a kilo of tomatoes a day.  Plus, cucumbers!  And new growth on the cucumbers!  And so many eggplants, and squash.  It's been kind of a wild growing season...but I'm starting to feel like I say that every year!

It's so nice to have a clean kitchen!  It's inspiring, and I can't tell you how happy I am to have such a modest amount of (manageable!) produce on the counter.  Let's just turn around and...
 ...argh!  Well, I guess I could do the dishes.  And take out the garbage.  And clean off the counters.  Put away the food.  Sweep.  Or...wait, you know what? 
There!  That's better!  Let's just turn around.
 This way, we'll have plenty of time to take in the Giants game (hummmmm baby!!!) and we can also  enjoy this tidy and lovely stack of hot-off-the-presses embroidery patches.  Easy does it.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Quilt Along ~ Episodes Done and Done!

 Quilt along ~ finished!
I'm so glad that Carmen and Nancy did this, it's so much funner to do together....even when "together" means thousands of miles and too many weeks apart.  :)  Plus, you have to click over and see Nancy's finished's pretty spectacular.  ;)
 I used fabric from the give-away I had won over on RoseHip.  The fabric is so wonderful, and it made quilting a pleasure.  I usually get all twisted up with 'what colors' and 'what patterns' and argh!
 Beata makes the most wonderful crocheted edgings.  I've been wanting to make some pillow cases from some repurposed sheets, and I've known I would try my hand at the edgings when I do so.  She's such an inspiration!  So at some point, when I was imagining this blanket done, I thought maybe I would do the crochet edging on it, as a tribute to sweet Betta and her generous fabric give away.
I struggled with the decision because I couldn't find any source that described sewing, turning, closing, then quilting.  It seemed like you need to quilt first, then bind.  It just seemed like the whole "quilting thing" was sort of the point of doing the quilt along, so it gave me pause to skip it.  I wasn't in the mood to experiment with my blanket (the cutting!  so much cutting!) and Carmen encouraged me to stop fretting and go for it, so that's exactly what I did!

And you know what?  I LOVE it!!!  I've always been in awe of Betta's (and Alice's, too!) perfectly perfect blanket stitches, and I have to say that the green gingham check fabric provided the perfect pre-made grid so that even I could have perfectly perfect blanket stitches.  I used 100% cotton for the edging.

Did I mention that I love it???  It's the perfect size for cuddling on the couch, but I really picture it on the sand at the beach, the star of a picnic; later, you can cozy under it as the sun sets on the water.

Or is that just too much pressure to put on a blanket?

Thursday, October 7, 2010


 My quilt-along-quilt.  Dude.  It's a six week project.  I'm fifth month?  Yeah, I think that's right.  Five months.  June to October, give or take?  I found this perfect green gingham sheet at the thrift some time ago (ahem) and knew it was exactly the backing I'd been looking for.  Score for three bucks!  There's a few steps left to go, on this one, but there's a chance that it will be done some time this weekend.  Or, in three months.  Just saying.
Okay, here we go.  I started this ripple lap-ghan almost two years ago.  I'm serious.  I tried to convince myself it was last November, but no, I'm sure it was the November before that because I had started it for Erik's dad when he started chemo.  Pancreatic cancer, however, is a merciless thug, and not even 10 weeks later, he passed away.  I set this blanket aside, because his passing was so hard on my honey, and it wasn't until Easter of 2009 that I pulled it out again and decided to finish it for Erik.  

It's a lovely variegated wool, and I am hopelessly in love with the (excessively boring to crochet) ripple stitch.  It's so sweet and old-fashioned!  Last time I set this project aside, I had purchased more of the yarn, in order to make it even bigger, thinking Erik would prefer a full-sized blanket over the lap-sized..  The ripple stitch just eats skeins!  I finished a dozen more rows this week, but you know what?  When I laid it out it was starting to look like a runner...all long and I went back to the original lap-ghan tip and ended up pulling out ten rows.  

I won't cry though, because it's just right at the moment, and I have to say, I think it's going to be just perfect for bleacher seats at little league games this spring.  :)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


If you've been looking for me, I can be found right here!
Embroidery, crochet, and quilting....I couldn't decide which one I wanted to work on first, so I am working on all three!  It feels so nice to be able to come home from work these days and have nothing doin' except spending time with my boys and bustling around the house and making a little something.

Of course, one of these days, I'll have to do just one of these long enough to actually finish something, but just for today, I'm not too worried about that!  Tomorrow...that's when I'll worry about getting the to-do list checked off.  Today is for rocking.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Perfect October Treat

Applesauce Muffins

4 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
2 t baking soda
(Mix all, set aside)

Cream together:
1 cup butter, softened (yes, 1 cup.  Shut up.)
2 cups sugar (yes, 2 cups.  Do it.)

2 eggs.
2 cups applesauce
1 tablespoon vanilla

Add dry ingredients, stir until moistened.
Option:  Add 1 cup raisins.  I put it up to a vote in my household.  No raisins.
For some reason, on my recipe card, I have written:  "Raisin tip:  Pinch of flour to coat before folding in."  I've never used this tip, but I find it hilarious that it's documented here.

Fill lined muffin tins.  This recipe made 2 dozen good sized muffins.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 - 25 minutes.  These smelled AMAZING while cooking.  The aroma actually caused Erik to ask me if I was making apple pie.  Erik really appreciates my cooking, in general, but he loves when I get bit by the baking bug.  We always have the same conversation, where he comes in and gets faux-beligerent about the amount of time it's taking something to cook, and then I explain that I'm just obeying the laws of physics.  

In this case, I downplayed these muffins just a bit.  First of all, I was not so sure about the 'batter'.  This was not a pourable consistency, in the least.  It was quite dense, and had to be spooned into the liners.  Plus, I'd never made these before.  I have NO IDEA where I got the recipe.  Perhaps it came from you?  I just don't know.  Plus, I used applesauce that I had made myself.   So.  You know.  I just couldn't be sure what would be coming out of the oven.
Turns out?  They are delicious!  I've got three little mice who tell me so.  It took them a half dozen muffins to be certain, but their thoroughness is appreciated.

Monday, October 4, 2010

I Don't Care!

Scotty's bangs were down to his nose, so I trimmed them.  I left the rest of his hair wooly and wild (though it looks awfully tame, in this picture!) and everybody was making fun of me ~ and him ~ and you know what?  I.  Don't.  Care.  I think he's adorable, and I happen to think he's even cuter now.  He has such an expressive face....both of my kids do, actually.  They have their father's eyebrows, and I'm telling you, those things move around the forehead like a caterpillar.  They really start winging around when they get wound up, and I couldn't love it more.   So, if you don't like his hair-do (or hair-don't, if you must) I understand.  I understand, but I don't care.  Just saying.  :)

Sunday, October 3, 2010


I'm already loving October!  The heat wave broke on the first, leaving us 30 degrees cooler than we were in September.  I sent off my manuscript on September 30th at 6:30 in the morning...two hours before it was due!  And I don't have any consulting work due until late October, and just so you know, that work is just about done already.  Me!  Ahead of schedule! 

I spent this weekend mostly with my family, doing some sewing, some crocheting, some partying (of the kid variety...happy birthday Niece!) and even doing some chores around the house.  It just feels good.

On my to-do-list, and officially done:
These turtles were the one thing I asked for after Marie died...and her wonderful, sweet children agreed.  So my mom brought them back from Healdsburg on Wednesday, I picked them up from her house on Friday, and I floated them around the house all weekend before hanging them in the very first spot I had considered.  Isn't it always like that? 

I may have told this story, but it's worth repeating because it's so very Marie, but right after she was diagnosed with lung cancer, my mom and I headed up to see what's-what.  Marie was showing me some things she had brought back from Hawaii with her, after Glenn died, and these turtles were hanging on her wall.  "These are for good health and long life...." then she turned to me and deadpanned, "And you can see how well that's working out for Glen and I!"  She was so funny!  So twisted and funny.  I miss her.  :(

I love love love turtles myself, and so I was so happy when my mom let me have them.  I know she would have gladly accepted them herself, so it was very (uncharacteristically) sweet of her.  My own sweet dear childhood friend Tracy had sent me these just last week, and I've been so grateful to wear one or the other daily....
My students love the silver one (his legs and head wobble!) as do I, but I am also quite enamoured of  the mother of feels so heavy, and it reminds me every day that friendships that last a lifetime are precious.  I love you, Tra!

I was also so happy that both Jenny and Michael wanted the blanket I had made with their parents' clothing and pictures.  My told me that they agreed to 'share it', trading off who got to keep it at their house.  Love!