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  • Bee Diary March 26, 2011

    Spring                                               Waning Bloodroot Moon

    All three colonies are dead.  I rechecked them last weekend.  I have ordered three packages of bees, the larger 3 pounds boxes, that will arrive in early April, perhaps April 9th.  Hiving 500honey-extraction_0231the new packages takes place as soon as possible after I pick up the bees from Nature’s Nectary outside Stillwater.  They may wait a day, but not more.

    I’m weighing whether to take the route of several beekeepers I know who buy new packages each season and harvest all the honey that’s made, rather than trying to overwinter the colonies.  If I do decide to go that route, we’ll have to sell the honey to recoup the costs, perhaps show a little profit.

    There are arguments for and against this method.  Obviously it gives the bees only a season of a life, that’s a definite mark against it.  On the other hand, if colonies die anyhow, then there’s really no change except the certainty of their death.

    This does allow harvesting the maximum from a colony’s first year, which would have added about 100 pounds of honey last year, or maybe 12 gallons to the five we collected.  On the other hand, it doesn’t allow for maximum production because an over-wintered colony produces more, since it already has its stores and will proceed to fill honey supers right away.

    Another positive would be holding diseases down since they would have not have the overwintered, weakened condition that allows some diseases to take hold.

    As I write this, I can see the argument for only one season of the bees.  Still not sure which say I’ll swing.

    This will be the third season at Artemis Hives and I have a few new management ideas in addition to the one I’m considering above.  Instead  of a third hive box, I will use two honey supers instead.  This gives the same volume as a hive box, but in lighter by half units.  This will also make retrieving all the the honey easier if I decide to go with one season only for all 400_honey-extraction_0225the colonies.  I’m also going to check out better ways to have a bee proof environment in which to extract honey.  It was pretty bad last year.

    In spite of the cold weather projected now through June according to Paul Douglas, we will hive the bees in early April and begin to plant cold weather crops as soon as the soil becomes friable.  Early April through early October is a major season here at Artemis Gardens and Hives.

    At the end of it Kate and I will pack our bags and sail away to South America.  We’ll greet October 28th, 2011 somewhere in Ecuador.  That’s the time the world changes according to one understanding of the Mayan calendar.

  • Walking and Talking

    Imbolc                                        New (Bloodroot) Moon

    Took a walk along the road that goes around the Monastery.  A beautiful day with a blue sky and sun.  The sun has, like me, been on retreat this last week, and it seems to have returned bright and shiny, ready to get on with its job of sending us truly elemental energy.

    While walking, I talked to Kate.  Cell phone reception is fine outside the Monastery, but inside, nada.

    It’s rare for a person to find someone whose life and lifestyle fit so well as Kate and mine do.  At least I think it’s rare.  We both enjoy time alone and we enjoy being together.

    She says the plants, the dogs and herself are doing well.  The dog are outside and  have been nearly all day.  She’s been sewing and made grandson Gabe a new shirt, this one with trains.

    Today I finished writing early, still putting out about 6,500 words.  I tried to go further but the well was dry so I’ve been reading Conspirata, the Robert Harris novel about Cicero’s Consul  year and his life immediately after.  Cicero is a favorite of the conservative classes, but he seems more pragmatic than conservative, at least as Harris portrays him.  It might be his deep suspicion of populist politics that gains their favor, but that seems more complicated in this fictional biography.

    Just as I was in a Chinese phase last summer, I’m in a Roman phase right now, learning Latin, reading Roman novels, translating Ovid.

    If our plans for a fall cruise congeal, at some point I imagine I’ll turn toward South America and its ancient and contemporary history.  Read a few travel books on various ports of call.  We’re leaning toward a 37 day cruise that starts in NYC and ends in Rio, passing through the Panama Canal and traveling around South America through the the Straits of Magellan and Cape Horn to Buenos Aires and Rio.

    My lunch table  today had Hoosiers, monks from South Bend, north Terre Haute and Indianapolis.  We talked about the old home place, Wabash College, Indy, the crazy time change rules.

  • Snow in LA. Earthquake in Indiana. Ice Here. End Times?

    Winter                                                                         Waning Moon of the Winter Solstice

    Headlines you never expected to see:

    Wind gusts topping 90 mph topple trees in L.A. area, blocking roads; snow closes I-15

    Magnitude 3.8 Earthquake Rattles Indiana

    Whoa.  Earthquake.  Indiana?  What the…   Here’s an example of today’s news coverage.  My old buddy Ed Schmidt made a joke on his facebook page about an earthquake.  Just to be sure I checked google.  Sure enough:

    “Officials from the U.S. Geological Survey said an earthquake with a magnitude of 4.2 has been registered in Indiana, just north of Indianapolis near the small (hmmm. where are their fact checkers?) town of Kokomo (46,000+).

    (USGS earthquake epicenter map)

    No damages or injuries were reported as a result of the quake that hit at 6:55 a.m. central time, officials said.


    Some people in the Chicago area said they felt shaking from the earthquake, though it’s unclear if a 4.2 magnitude quake in Central Indiana could be felt as far west as Cook County…

    The earthquake’s epicenter was about three miles beneath a farm field a short distance south of Pingree Grove, near Route 20 and Switzer Road in western Kane County.

    That quake was caused by a previously unknown fault line that has not generated any shocks since geologists started keeping track 150 years ago.

    In Indiana, Howard County Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Steve Rogers says the department was bombarded by phone calls after the quake from people wondering what had happened. He says some people reported hearing a loud boom.

    Indiana University geologist Michael Hamburger told Indianapolis television station WTHR the quake was felt across Central Indiana and into western Ohio. He said the temblor occurred in an area “that’s seismically very quiet.”

    The Indianapolis Star is reporting the quake was felt as far west as New Castle, Indiana, and that items shook off the shelf in Martinsville, located in northeast Indiana.”

    Meanwhile, here there be ice.  Out, out damned ice.  Be gone.  Snow we can deal with, but ice?  Four-wheel drive’s no good, just slipping and sliding out of control.  Skidding into the New Year may be some people’s idea of a good time, but not mine.

    Kate and I had plans to go to the Spectacle shop today and spend year end money left over in our pre-tax medical account.  Will have to wait till tomorrow.  When we go, I plan to get some up to date reading glasses and a new pair of driving glasses with the graduated lens.  Gonna stick with round lenses, not sure why but I’ve come to identify myself with them.  My correction is sort of odd in that I can read without glasses since I have offsetting problems, but now when my eyes get tired or I read a lot of small type, blurring occurs.  In the past, when that happened, I could put on my reading glasses to sharpen things up, but now they’re just enough off that they make things worse.  An aging body is such fun.

    We have a grand-dog in surgery today.  Solly, Jon and Jen’s youngest dog, has some kind of digestive tract problem.  He doesn’t eat and has become thinner and thinner.  Hope he comes out of that ok.

  • Going to the Mailbox

    Samhain                                                          Waxing Moon of the Winter Solstice

    The storm seems to have slowed down a bit, winds have decreased as has the snow.  It looks we got around a foot, but I can tell you that many of the drifts exceed that.

    First, my insulating vest over my sweatshirt.  Then the wind pants over my sweats.  Down coat.  Mad bomber hat with rabbit fur flaps secured under my chin.  Scarf around exposed neck.  Insulated socks pressed into Sorels.  I was ready to get the mail and the newspaper.  Successful.   Minnesota, a state where getting to the mailbox from the house can be a challenge worth dressing up for.

    After that adventure, I strapped on my snow shoes and headed out to Ruth and Gabe’s playhouse to retrieve the little giant ladder system still standing out there.  I waited until a historic snow storm to grab it just to test my true mettle. I’d say it was thin aluminum.

    The damn ladder system is heavy and clumsy.  Walking in snow shoes is not an elegant dance in the best of situations, but navigating around small shrubs without snagging and trying to thread my way between an electric fence and a snow-drift narrowed passage up onto our deck, all the while dragging a ladder–priceless.

    The ladder went in the garage to melt off its snow and be ready for Adam Lindquist, the improbably named Chinese lighting specialist from Lights on Broadway, who is coming out on Wednesday to install our new fixtures.  Huffing and puffing I sat down to drink some hot chocolate Kate made.  Decided to give myself 20 minutes of aerobic workout since I also shoveled the deck some.

    Just finished my other 30 minutes on the treadmill.  Now I can settle down and enjoy the storm.  Tomorrow, more Latin.

  • OCD

    Lughnasa                                       Waning Artemis Moon

    I have OCD.  Obsessive Computer Disorder.  If something’s wrong with my computer, it’s like a raspberry seed stuck between my teeth.  I worry it and worry it and worry it until it’s not there anymore.  Latest example:  I lost my google search bar.  Not a big deal, you might say.  Except to me.  The google search bar is my window to the world wide web.  It also has my bookmarks that I use most frequently.  With the toolbar gone, navigating the web and doing things I do often became very complicated.  So, I futzed with it, jammed it, reloaded an reinstalled Firefox.  Upgraded to FireFox Beta 4.4.  Unloaded that.  Round and round.  Clicked off my add-on’s one by one.  Nothing.

    Finally, I uninstalled all my add-ons.  Ah, relief.  But.  It took the better part of a day.  No, really.  A day.  Geez.

    Still, when the google tool bar reappeared, I threw up my hands.  Yes!  Victory.

    Now I can get back to my life.

  • Build the Mosque

    Lughnasa                                Waxing Artemis Moon

    On mosques and sites and sealing wax.

    Are we fighting with Islam or with terrorists who use Islam as a cover?  You know the answer.  What message do you give to the ummah, the worldwide Islamic community, if you deny a mosque near a site where the terrorists who use Islam as a cover delivered a powerful blow?  That you don’t know the difference.

    Or.  What message do you give if you allow the mosque?  That you know the difference.  Which strategy has better long term potential both within the US and outside it.  Again, you know the answer.

    When demagogues pander to the lowest common denominator on volatile matters like this, it corresponds to yelling fire in a crowded theatre.  This is intentional inflammation of an issue not because you believe the matter is substantive, but because you know it will rouse the sleeping dogs.

    There is, in fact, no issue here.  Let me say again.  No issue.  The first amendment, even earlier than the holy and blessed 2nd, protects freedom of religion and freedom of association and freedom of speech.  Which of these constitutional, black letter law freedoms do you wish to ignore?  Where’s a strict constructionist when we need one?

    Let them build.  Let them demonstrate that the United States can discriminate between friend and foe.  Let them demonstrate that the constitutional protections that make us a desirable place for immigrants from around the globe are still in place.

    Let us demonstrate that the coward and the bully will not, should not win this kind of rhetorical battle.

    Let them build.

    Here’s the contrary argument from the New York Daily News:

    “…But what about common sense and decency? If Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf had either, he and his group would reconsider the location out of respect for the hordes of Americans, many of them 9/11 family members themselves, who think that this idea just plain stinks. And if it weren’t for political correctness and our decidedly 21st century paranoia over offending Islam, our national leaders would proudly echo those sentiments.

    Enough is enough. The speechifying and pontificating on the mosque’s constitutionality are a distraction and a straw man. No one in serious circles who opposes the mosque at Ground Zero is suggesting it should be made illegal to build a Muslim house of worship near the site of the 9/11 attacks.

    What they’re trying to say, and largely to plugged ears on the left, is that having the right doesn’t make it right.”

  • Ordinary Stuff

    Beltane                                       Waxing Strawberry Moon

    The half Strawberry moon hangs just above the basswoods in our woods.  The night has a velvet texture, not the Elvis portrait kind but the backing for a stunning diamond necklace kind.  The moon lays upon it as a gem of unique character, instead of fire it has a subtle glow, a depth that promises mystery.  As it always is here at this time on night, it is quiet.  Solitary.  Right now it’s just the moon and our house floating along on a dark, silent river.

    Somehow melancholy can be transformed now, as if the inner and the outer merge for a moment and the ache dissolves, only a small blackness measured against space.

    A friend from long ago, the Alexandria days, wrote on facebook that he had had a tumor removed from his bladder.  His sister-in-law wrote to say she loved him.  I got a quick jolt of time having passed, so much time.  We were high school buddies when I left and now he’s an aging baby boomer like me with health problems and a family that loves him.

    This is ordinary stuff, yes.  But it has history, breadth, too, for Larry and I know many of the same people, grew up with them, played little league and sat through 5th grade with Mrs. Craig and listened to Hit the Road, Jack on the high school public address system.

    We remember when Alexandria had a thriving downtown, a strong sense of itself, a small town with muscle.  Now it has and has had for a long time, a wasting disease.  Empty storefronts.  Chain businesses on the edge of town with big box architecture and big city charm.  Ferguson’s, a women’s clothing store, is gone.  So is Baumgartners for men.  There was a moment when Alexandria had two movie theaters and plenty of patrons.  We all remember it.

    The place where the child has played can never be recovered or repeated, only remembered.  It was there, for me, in that little town, with all those others.  My friends.

  • The Horse

    Winter                   New Moon (cold M00n)

    At breakfast this morning I sat two tables away from Miss Rodeo Wisconsin.  I know this because she had a big sash on that said so.  She looked like a wholesome gal and a good choice.

    I’m not at the Doubletree.  Instead, I learned my reservation was for the Courtyard Marriot.  I did this back in August of aught 9 so the details had become fuzzy.  Oh, well.  I gotta get on the road more.

    The love of small children is a gift freely given, honoring this gift may be the prime directive of adulthood.  Ruthie, after an initial hesitance, was glad Granpop had come.  She spent a good bit of time running, then jumping on me, sometimes asking me to close my eyes.  Then she jumped as a surprise.

    She also showed a me a move she learned at dance class.  This consists of a left hand on hip, the right raised in the air and loping around the house like that.  When asked what it was called, she said, “Horse.”

    It’s always fun to catch up on grandkids and their parents.

    Gabe has a few words now, one of which sounds a lot like granpop.  or, maybe, blastoff.  or, maybe bad dog.  something like that.

    The stone porch Jon and Jen created looks spiffy, too.  I hadn’t seen it.

    Stock show later today.

  • Woolly Monday

    Winter                              Waning Moon of Long Nights

    Woolly Mammoths

    And a Red Stag

    In the Black Forest.

    Woollys met tonight at the Red Stag.  Ode takes off for Mexico Wednesday morning.  Taylor is getting booted out of the teen cd program.  Bill’s brother with prostate cancer and the 500 PSA lives on, long past the four months projected last summer.  He’s using naturopathic methods.  Scott’s daughter and baby Lela are doing well.

    I took Frank home tonight.  The cold weather is tough on his heart condition, as, apparently, too, is eating.  Glad he got home safe.