Sunday, May 29, 2011

Facing my Fears

Well folks, I've done the unthinkable! Last Thursday I went INTO the Bee yard with Dan the Bee guy. He was stepping up for Jerry, who has not had time for the bees since he's working full time. And so, with Dan's tutelage I faced my fears, donned the bee suit and went in. I was dressed in Jerry's bee outfit (which by the way does not win any awards for fashion) and felt confident that NOTHING could penetrate it. Truthfully, the bee suit is made up of camo pants (quite thick) and a white hooded number along with the hat, veil and leather gloves. I did think at one point that if this is something I'm going to make a habit of, we've got to work on the fashion aspect of it. But anyway, once I was suited up with all of it (including the gloves which were quite big) and with Dan's help tying off the veil, I stepped through the now opened electric fence, again thanking Dan for his expertise. There is lots to learn if I am ever going to take this on myself, without assistance. Getting INTO the yard is the first thing. I wouldn't know how to declassify the electric fence, and never felt the need to pay attention, even though Jerry tried to explain it every step of the way. "Go into the Bee Yard? NEVER!" I thought. Bees being my nemesis (what is plural for nemesis? Nemesises?) But with the bee yard languishing and all that honey going to well, the bees, I figured I better get with the program. And so Dan agreed to help me out and show me the ropes so to speak. Inside the bee yard, the drone of the bees got quite loud, surprisingly. I didn't think that bees could make that much noise. Having run from the drone of one single bee, I never gave the multitudes a chance to make any noise, and noise they make. It is truly a sound unlike any other I've ever heard. Dad loaded the smoker and gave that to me, to handle while he uncovered the top box. There are technical names for all of this but forgive me, I was terrified and not really paying attention to the small details. Mostly, I was looking for my point of egress in the event of a swarm. Dan was pleased to see that our hive was very active with apparently docile bees. A little smoke will do that. To us all. But I digress. The bees came out of the hive, interested in this intruder, but not really too concerned. As I said, I was smoking the hive to make them more concerned about the smoke than the intruder, as is the purpose of the smoker. Dan had to warn me a few times that we were interested in "gently" smoking the hive, not frying the bees, gently being the key word. But as I was learning, the smoke was effective and became my "go to" tool whenever fear got the best of me. This was a very foreign place for me, standing still while bees swarmed about me. Normally, you would be seeing my dust, but I was determined to do this. I stood still and let them check me out, praying that every point of closure was indeed, closed. I don't know how I would have reacted if a bee had gotten INSIDE the bees suit, as they have been known to do on occasion. I like to think I would have professionally ignored it, as these are the makers of the honey, the holy grail. But something tells me I would have squashed it pretty readily. I guess we won't know until it happens. I was at first breathing a little heavily, with the smell of fear in every breath, but I eventually got a little calmer and began to really watch what Dan was doing. The inside of an active beehive is an unbelievable sight. You cannot be prepared by watching it on the TV screen, as I have done many times, because the drone is of stacked beehives, not only the one you're peering into. There are virtually thousands of bees, working at their jobs. Most are uninterested in the large persons standing over their hive, and continue on their way. You can view all types of bees at work. Drones and workers are readily visible throughout their metamorphosos. We were searching for the Queen, who I would not have recognized without some more instruction, but we looked unsuccessfully throughout the entire hive. We were cleaning up the hive for splitting, moving some of the trays of honeycomb into a new box (again, I will know these names eventually) for splitting into a new hive. So taking a full beehive of bees and moving half into a new hive, hopefully bringing the Queen over with them, was our job. Somehow, the old hive will produce a new queen and continue their labors. That is how it works. I felt quite productive by the end, scraping the sides of old honeycomb and making room for the new bees. It seemed at this point in time that our bees are doing beautifully without our help. That makes me happy. It means we have provided our bees with a good environment to do what they do naturally, produce honey. I hope to have a nice harvest at the end of the summer, with enough for us, and enough to sustain our bees through the winter. See how I have changed my terms in to "Us" instead of "Me" and "Them". It happens quite naturally, and although I don't know what I would do without a bee suit, as Dan seems perfectly happy without (he's a little nuts that Dan) I was not as fearful coming out as I was going in. Mission Accomplished! As we speak I am observing a Turkey walking around our campfire and enjoying the seed that I have planted around the pond. I am a lover of nature, and this just beats all. We've never seen a turkey this close on our property. We assumed the scent of three dogs was enough to keep them away-apparently not! It has been a great week. Next week, we're back into the bee yard to make sure our changes have been well received. I hope so. I kinda like those bees. Who knew? (Pictures of these adventures will follow-as soon as Allison wakes up and shows me how to upload the new camera!)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Blogging. right. I forgot

Let me say this about aging. My memory is taking quite a beating. Whether it is age related, medication related, or early alzheimers, I'm not sure. But I actually have a problem remembering things that should come quite easily to me, and remembering things (like the first day of kindergarden) that should be well outside of my memory. As a result, blogging was one of those things that got thrown under the bus. I changed my e-mail from to due to a hacker. Now I hope those "HeyTryViagra!" e-mails to my friends, family (and clergy-how fun) will stop. Please note if you're trying to reach me with no response. Anyway, because I haven't been blogging, I have a multitude of blogging topics that I have yet to delve into. Fist and foremost is PROM! Johnstown H.S. Prom was last weekend and I was lucky enough to have a hand in my beautiful daughter's choices and preparation. This is an honor that I do not take lightly! Prom girls are a difficult bunch to please, and I am happy to report that I did the job with pride, honor and a bit of trepidation. No one wants to be responsible for a prom disaster, least of all a Mother who is already treading on thin ice just by virtue of her existence. I came out on the other side happy and with my self-esteem intact. We were a team to be recognized that Allison and I! She provided me with the hair and instruction tutorials and I paid attention and got it right! The makeup was my own creation, because no one knows more about makeup and its bonuses than an aging prom-queen herself. And so, off she went happy with her hair and makeup, looking beautiful and way more worthy of the title "Most Beautiful Girl in the World" than she realises. Thank you Allison, I loved every minute and I'm already planning for next year. That being said, I realised that the mystery of shopping for women's clothes is much more different than picking up your tux in which they just took your measurement, sent you home. Oh no my friend, this is big business. Prom dresses can run up to $500 for the "budget conscious" and even more if you are out of your mind, and many girls (and Mother's with checkbooks) are out of their minds. This Mother was as practical as would be allowed, both by budget and the knowledge that this is one of the more important dresses in a girl's life, notwithstanding her bridal gown. They are in close competition. I will give you a brief tutorial on women's sizing and how women really perceive it: Size 0 to 4: These are not real sizes. They can never be found in a store, other than the big tag that hangs on the rack. This rack tag exists just to mess with your head. No one could possibly fit into these sizes. It's just not humanly possible. Size 5/6: This is the smallest of the real sizes. I was a size six for an hour and a half back in 1965 when I was in the second grade. I have been trying to re-achieve that size ever since, to no avail. It causes me to feel bad about myself. That's what they want. Women's sizes are doubled up (5/6, 7/8) because even the companies that manufacture the stuff can't decide what size it should REALLY be. So, they go with the generalization. Size 7/8: We're getting into the area of "Possible". Real girls can fit into these sizes, although they are girls who stopped eating. They may have an occasional salad or yogurt, but essentially, they are not eating anything worth eating. There is not a macaroni and cheese to be found on the menus of these 7/8 champions. I bow to them, they are incredibly well-disciplined and beautiful. Size 9/10: This is the cusp of the dark side. If you are a 9/10, you are dabbling in real food and maybe even dessert. And yet, against all odds, you are "carrying your weight" beautifully. No one calls a 9/10 "tiny", they say you carry your weight, implying that they are the same size, but have the misfortune of being "big boned, or short", none of which is in their control. It is a ridiculous comparison and should be erased from our vernacular, but these are sizes, not wishes. I am merely stating what is fact, that women are harder on each other than anyone else will ever be, except of course, herself. Size 11/12: You are now in the dark side. This is not a good size to be. You will feel bad about yourself the minute you realize that this is your true size. You will suck yourself into a size 9/10 to the point where it cuts off your circulation, as long as you can stay out off an 11/12. Better stores like Talbots and LL Bean simply re-do their clothes so that most women who are willing to spend on their clothes will find themselves in a size 6. It's not really a size 6, but just the fact that a tag will say 6 is enough of an incentive to spend more on the better brands. The more expensive the clothes, the smaller the sizes. It's a fact. Size 13/14: You are now entering the area of elastic waistbands and no style whatsoever. Polyester is a big design element in the 13/14 sizes and above. Polyester and cheesy florals. I don't know why this is, but sizing in these areas seems to be leaning towards nursing gear. Everyone looks like a nurse when you are size 13/14. If you're going to work as a nurse, that is fine. But when I'm dressing for weddings and coctail parties, scrubs is not my first thought. Maybe it's me. Size 15/16: This is the size where you march out the door and join weight watchers, where you pay for the privilege of getting on THEIR scale and being humiliated. Losing ten pounds seems to be the answer for all life's ills, and you are paying for that motivation and deprivation. You will PAY TO EAT LESS AND BE PUBLICALLY HUMILIATED. I have never understood this route, and yet a multi-billion dollar business is succeeding all on the backs of women who are feeling bad about themselves. I can do that with just a 7.99 mirror, but I digress. Size 18: This is never a 17/18. Just an 18. This is because they want to cut right to your heart. There is no shortening anything to 17, just go right to the worst number in the wardrobe field. This is the number that will cause you acute pain and possibly even tears in the dressing room. I have been there, and it does produce tears. This is not a goal number for anyone. This is the number where friends stop saying "you look fine" and just remain silent when you begin your self-bashing. No one, including Pollyanna (who was a size six-of course she was cheerful) can put a good spin on this. It is no-man's land. So, there you go, better educated for clothes shopping with women, which if you listen to your heart you will know that it is not a good idea for the faint of heart. There is not a women in the world who will remain rational when faced with a size they are not comfortable with. Be advised, there are exceptions to every rule, but it is a fact that women are harder on themselves than they need to be, and should be told from the time they are five years old that WHATEVER size they are is the right size. We need to start spending more time on IQ numbers than rack-size numbers. Women are beautiful, no matter what their size. I've seen lots of girls at this past prom weekend, and they seem poised and fun and wonderful at every turn. I was blessed with a few of my own, and I hope that humor and reality is something they have learned about their sizes. No size is the right size, obviously, and so I am hopefully going to take some of my own advice and lay off the self-criticism. But that doesn't mean I don't enjoy shopping at Talbots or LL Bean.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Urgh. Just urgh.

After writing a very clever blog this morning, and really giving it a determined and creative effort, I hit some button that wiped the entire thing from my screen, leaving me with the letters "ppe". If you need me, I will be at home today, drinking large quantities of herbal tea and sobbing into my delicately embroidered pillow. I will try again at another time, but not today. Along with the rain and the cold temperature outside, it is just too much.