Travel Agent? C’est moi.

Spring                                                      Waning Bloodroot Moon

As travel agent for our house, I make reservations, check on them, plan itineraries and handle changes to travel plans.  Like several of my domestic responsibilities I have these duties because of misspent time over the last couple of decades + learning how to use computers, then the web.  Mostly I find it makes life easier, quicker, broader and deeper.  Once in a while, like this morning, it takes more time than a comparable activity would have a few years back.  When I made Kate’s travel plans for her upcoming birthday junket to Denver (Ruthie’s 5th!), I inadvertently clicked on an incorrect e-mail address,  I made this mistake years ago, but somewhere in this infernal machine, it helpfully brings back all my past sins against perfect computing.  So, I had to call the airlines to get them to resend the info.  Talking to a real person.  How 20th century.

We fed five dogs this morning:  Rigel, Vega, Kona, Sollie and Gertie.  We’re used to this, but each collection of dogs has a different personality and require different food arrangements.  We’ve not got this one perfected quite yet.  But we will.

Gotta go now.  A China tour to prepare and a legcom agenda to flesh out.

Carpe this Diem

Imbolc                                                 Waxing Bridgit Moon

OK.  Today is a new day.  I do not plan to torture my computers anymore today in regard to my legacy laserjet printer.  It has been a faithful companion throughout the last 19  years and I do not plan to give up on it yet.  Even so, I’ve experienced my tolerance level of geek futility since I tried to convert it from parallel processing to usb, so it will rest on the sidelines for a while as I install the new multi-function printer later in the day.  If I can find a new laserjet printer for under $300 I may just get one with a native usb connection.  Not sure I’d do with old faithful.  I might bring it in here (the study) and see if I can convince it to mate up with the Gateway in here.  I might give it to somebody with a parallel printer port.

I know, too, that losing colonies is still common for beekeepers and that my experience is not unusual.  In fact, as I said a bit earlier, I was not surprised by the deaths of two of the colonies. Only the package colony’s demise surprised me, since it seemed to have plenty of honey and a healthy group of bees.  Another year is another year.

With temperatures above freezing the dogs are frisky, staying outside longer, bumping, running, tails held high.  They both hunt between the honey house and the play house, noses to the ground, body alert.  Kona still finds the outdoors a bit too cool and no wonder, she no longer has any hair on her butt.  I know how it feels when there’s no hair on the head, probably a similar sensation.  And it is hard for Kona to put a hat or a scarf on that particular location.

I’m inclining toward a Renaissance theme for the Titian tours.  This exhibit showcases the High Renaissance in Venice from its beginnings in the early 1500’s through its end in the 1580’s.  Venice held on to the Renaissance longer than the rest of Italy, though even its extension ended well before the Renaissance limped toward its end in the 1700’s in northern Europe.  The Renaissance gave shape and content to our era, actually doing what those embroiled in it thought they were doing, ushering in the modern age, shifting from the ancien regime to the days of democracy, individualism, capitalism and science, days within which we still live.

Not often do we have the chance to experience such a clear visual record of this dramatic change in the lifeways of Western civilization, a record written not in words, but in the brushstrokes and vital imaginations of artists who distilled the time and painted it.  On canvas.  Using oils.


Winter                                                                    Waxing Moon of the Cold Month

I’m sitting here, waiting on Kate to come home from her retirement party at work.  It’s at an Applebees, noisy and with people I don’t know so I stayed home.  With my hearing loss a noisy room makes a party, not my favorite place to begin with, much worse.  Since we’ve never found anything to help my unilateral hearing loss, it’s important to know my limitations.  Still, I miss being with her right now, though our work places have always been separate.  A doctor can’t take her husband to work with her so he can see what she does.  As a result, I’ve not hung out there, gotten to know her colleagues.  We did go to group events in the first years, but those long ago petered out as the corporate side of medicine fragmented the docs.

Kate came home while I was writing this.  She had a wonderful evening out and received several gifts, including a pricey bottle of champagne.  Which, of course, I can’t help her with.  Darn.  Excitement still radiated from her polished, sprinkled fingernails to her equally polished and twinkly toes.  Now she’s up and we’re getting ready to take Vega, Rigel and Kona over to Armstrong Kennels, their home away from us while we fly to Denver.

Guess what?  5-10 inches of snow predicted for Denver on the day we arrive.  Oh, joy.  The good news is it will be 25 degrees warmer than home at 26.

Today is a get ready to travel day.  Stuff to do.  Talk to you later.

The Cold Month

Winter                                                                       Waxing Moon of the Cold Month

Sunlight has begun to grow, but as is often the case here in January, the snow keeps the air near the ground cold and the amount of light increase will not begin to warm us until February, though by then the train will have left the station for winter.   It’s days then will, again, be numbered by rising temperatures, melting ice and corners in the city where cars on intersecting streets can be seen again.  But not now, not January.  This is the Cold Month.

Kate’s next to last day at full time work.  Her friends at work will take her out to Applebee’s tomorrow night after the shift ends at the Urgent Care.  Afterward she will come home and we’ll sit together a bit, listening to music or watching a recorded TV program, the last time we’ll play out this late night ritual save for the occasional, 4 0r 5, nights she’ll work a month for the next couple of years.

Vega and Rigel will go to Armstrong kennels for the first time since they came to live here.  They’re pretty flexible dogs so I’m sure they’ll have a good time.  All of our dogs have liked it there.  Emma, our eldest whippet who died last year, loved the kennel, eagerly whining and straining to get inside.

My friend’s wife has chosen a hormonal treatment for her adenocarcinoma.  They’ll go with that and see what results they get, if the tumors shrink.  Again, if you have a quiet moment and can remember her and her family, they would appreciate it.

Digging In

Fall                                        Waxing Harvest Moon

Here’s a book recommendation:  36 Arguments for the Existence of God by Rebecca Goldstein.  It has the shetl resonance of Singer, the contemporary Jewish life feel of Chaim Potok and philosophical skill worthy of a Talmudic scholar gone over to the dark side.  This book recounts a few events in the life of Cass Seltzer, a psychologist of religion whose book, The Varieties of Religious Illusion, contains an appendix-36 arguments for the existence of God.  Since he dismantles each argument, he becomes a famous atheist, but “an atheist with a soul.”  This book is funny, sad, romantic, disillusioning, deep and wide.  An excellent read.

Pink daffodils and the baroque.  After I get done here, I plant two bags worth of pink daffodils, then work on Baroque tours for the Friends of the Institute.

On a dog note.  Vega and Rigel continue to dig and dig and dig in what I have decided to name the D.R.A., the dog recreation area.  This amounts to giving up.  After having spent a lot of time keeping Rigel in, expanded electric fencing, new barriers at the upper deck gate and hardening the chain link fences bottom against digging, and after having spent more money than I’m willing to acknowledge on keeping both Rigel and Vega out of the garden and the orchard, I’m gonna give’m this play area.  They know have more than hole they can stand in and only their backs show above the ground.  I think they’re after gophers, but whatever it is, my dog restraint activities have a limit and I’ve reached mind.  Let’em dig.

A Bit More Zap

Lughnasa                                        Full Back To School Moon

Over to Fleet Farm in Blaine for more electric fencing material.  This time I purchased a gate kit that will allow me to connect the fence across our large truck gate.  I’m hopeful that this represents the solution, at least for now.  I plan to extend the fence back toward the house about 8 feet and on from its current terminal on the west side of our property to the wild grape vine on our northern fence line.  Gotta  get this done before I leave since Kate will have to find and retrieve our pooch while I’m in Indiana.

We ate lunch at Axel’s Woodfired Grill, then motored over I-35 to Fleet Farm.

We have a flood watch posted since much of the ground has reached saturation levels with recent rains.  This portends bad news for the spring, too.


Lughnasa                                        Waxing Back to School Moon

Rigel escaped.  Again.  This after I don’t know what iteration of foils and barriers.  The neighbor thinks she scaled the fence.  It’s possible.  I have not electrified that part 05-15-10_bee-diary_0002670because it’s six feet tall.  Maybe I’ll have to do that.  Geez.

Measuring out the fumagilin-b for the nosema treatment. (bees)  Talk about fine measurements.  5 grams to a treatment, roughly one gallon.  5 grams is .176 of an oz.  Not much.  Kate and I got out the parchment paper and played pharmacist, dividing the powder into 5 equal parts.  That’s good enough since the powder comes in quantities of 24 grams per smallest bottle, which is what I have.  This goes into half a gallon of water heated to 120 degrees or so, our water heater puts out water that hot.  8 pounds of sugar gets stirred into to make a super-saturated liquid with a quantity of roughly a gallon.  The liquid goes in the feeder I have that sits over the whole hive box.  I may buy another one.  I like them better than the plastic pails.

Out to Wayzata to the Retreat, the old grounds of the Cenacle, now turned into a treatment center for alcoholism.  Dick Rice, one of my sheepshead buddies, works there.

Tonight each of the Woollies gets a pint of Artemis Honey and Mark Odegard, the label maker, gets a quart.  It feels good to have something to share that comes from our property.

Rigel. Again.

Lughnasa                                             New (Back to School) Moon

The partisans of summer have begun to moan its passing here in the north country.  Those of us who love the fall and the winter have only begun to savor the cooler nights, the lower humidity and the reduction in thunderstorms.  The harvest has begun, though much lies ahead.

Rigel, again.  So, I got up early this morning, took my peavy and my swede saw, and trudged, a bit bleary eyed, back to the fence and the fallen down tree.  The peavy was no help, as I suspected it might not be, because there was no way to achieve leverage with it.  The tree balanced on the fence above the ground.  Nothing for it then but to use the swede saw.  After some huffing and puffing, the trunk broke in two and fell away from the fence on both sides.  I put the electric fence back in place, then walked the entire perimeter to be sure I hadn’t missed anything.  All this before my morning tea.

Got inside, the tea on its way and cereal in the bowl when I noticed a flash out of my eye and saw Vega looking down into the perennial garden.  I got up to find Rigel just on the other side of the gate.  She had pulled herself over it.  Sigh.  This time Kate and I decided what we needed to do and since Kate was on her way to pick up meds and money for my trip she went to her favorite store, Home Depot.

We let Rigel out to eat and I watched her.  She started to pull herself over again.  I went and said, NO.  She moved away from the gate, ate some food, went off in the yard to romp with Vega.  Not five minutes later I saw a blur on the deck.  She had launched herself over the gate from a full run.  Geez.  Kate, the front door.  I’m going after her.  Rigel went into the front yard, ignoring me.  Kate came out and called her.  Rigel ran, not toward Kate, but toward the front door to the house.

She is now in her crate as we seal off yet one more escape route.  She tests our ingenuity.  Regularly.

Rigel and the Fallen Tree

Lughnasa                                                        New (Back to School) Moon

The DEW line here has no flaws.  The Distant Early Warning system, also called Rigel, found the tree that fell over the fence during the winds of today.  She walked on and crossed the road.  The Perlich’s brought her home not once, but twice.

No electric fence is good enough to counter a fallen tree.  I don’t have time (light) enough now to get out and take care of it.  That’ll have to come tomorrow, even ahead of the final bee run before leaving for Georgia.

Not to mention that all the electrical off and on bungled up the internet again and I spent another couple of hours reestablishing connection. It’s not a trivial matter since Kate’s work life requires internet access while she’s home.  My day finds me in the front of the computer, on the internet several times, and it has become a fixture in my regular routine.  Still, it’s fixed.

Problem solving on the estate.

Photo Time: Late Summer

Lughnasa                                            Waning Artemis Moon


Late summer taste treats.  We have red and golden.


These are the hives with their maximum honey supers.  We extract honey on Monday.


This is just one of several deep cave descents attempted by the Andover Speleological Society, Rigel and Vega founding members.


The newly mulched orchard from the perspective of one of our sand cherry bushes.


Our fruit trees have not really begun to bear yet, but there are six apples on this tree.  More as the years go on.


Kate spearheaded this project and it looks great.  Not only does it look great, but it is more functional, too, especially from a weed suppression point of view.


Kate plants coleus all round the yard; they add needed color to shady spots.