What a week!

Hi Everyone,

Hope you are well.  I/we have had a crazy week here in the wilds, thus the delayed posting this week.  I started writing on Friday and evidently while I was waiting for a few pictures to go from my phone to my computer, I got sidetracked.  Two days worth of sidetracked!

Why does it seem like when you commit to a project the fates do their best to stop you?  Last weekend started with a bad case of Spring allergies.  I haven’t had Spring allergies in years!  They usually hit in the Fall.  So, trying to work and function have been a struggle for days now.  Somehow I carried on to some degree.

I finished painting the guest bathroom just barely on schedule.  I have to finish the room currently called “the office” this month so we can move my son’s bed in after his graduation in May.  On Monday, what I can only describe as banking hell, started.  Without going into all the gory details, thanks to a new bank buying out our old bank our bills have been paid numerous times this week.  Can you make two or more mortgage payments in a month??  Neither can we.  Needless to say, I have spent WAY, WAY too may hours dealing with this situation which ended Friday by my closing the account.

Insomnia kicked in again as well and last night was my first good night sleep in several days.  Somehow I prevailed and got my work done, most of the necessary housework done, deliveries made, D’s retirement paperwork and insurance dealt with along with all the nasty bank stuff AND managed to get four 100 days paintings done to this point.  I will not claim they are great pieces of art, but they got done.  Perseverance, my friends. That is my one true talent that has gotten me through a lifetime of ordeals.  Dogged perseverance.

So here are my first three drawings/paintings of things I am grateful for:  A New Day, Clean Water and Sleep (wonder why that is in there?).


 

Yesterday (Saturday) I missed making any art for The 100 Day Project.  I am having to rethink this 100 drawings/paintings thing. I am still going to do it, but trying to do something different each day is causing me a ridiculous amount of stress.  I take deadlines deathly serious and uh, this is not my job, just a thing. So from here on out my plan is to start a piece and take it as far as I feel necessary but doing what work I can on it each day.  There are some skills and experiments I am trying to achieve with this project and trying to do a different project each day isn’t really accomplishing that.  So, hopefully this week I can make more stress free progress.

Gotta go sketch my daughter and son-in-law’s other dog…for the SIL’s birthday present.

Have a great week. Persevere.

Backyard mayhem 

I have had three very stressful days. When you hear why, you may think “she’s been out in the sticks too long already.”

To catch my new readers up to speed, this Spring I became a newbie beekeeper.  I grew up with my Dad and Grandpa beekeeping as long as I could remember and often helped my Dad when he harvested honey. Beekeeping today is nothing like back then. I never remember Dad stressing out over his bees (for the record, he doesn’t stress about much anyway). You put a swarm of bees in a hive, then a few months later had honey. The bees did their thing and you stayed out of the way. It may not have been completely that simple but close.

Now, everything is out to get the bees. I have one hive that I have watched over this year like a newborn baby. Dad brought the new hive to me and said he thought they had been robbed (bees from another hive will take honey and food from a new or weak hive) early on. So I fed them sugar water every day until they were gathering enough nectar on their own. 

In July I saw small hive beetles and put in a trap. By September they were strong with good honey and brood (future bees). My queen seemed to be doing a great job. I started feeding them sugar water and essential oils to prevent mites (one of the major bee killers here in the U.S.).  I decided to leave them all the honey for their winter food. I was feeling good about their chances of getting through the winter.

Then came October. No more blooms. A few wet days from the hurricane. Then yellow jackets (for those of you who don’t have them, they are an evil wasp species). They started to try and sneak in the hive. Not a lot, but an ever present evil pest. I had already covered the front entrance of the hive with a wire mesh to keep out mice as the temperature fell (mice want to live in the warm hive but make their usual nasty mess). Now I stuffed the mesh with grass and leaves to reduce the space for the yellow jackets to sneak through until I could get an official entrance reducer that closes the entrance to about a one inch opening. 

Last week I left for a couple of days to visit my college girlfriends and came home to find the yellow jackets broke through the grass/leaves and were coming and going freely into the hive. NOT GOOD!

I quickly duct taped (yet another use for it) most of the entrance closed and Tuesday night got the entrance reducer at our local beekeeping meeting. I live almost an hour away from the nearest supplier and shipping on a $1 ER is about $12. Finally Wednesday morning I installed the ER, took off some unused honey racks, installed an enclosed top of the hive feeder to reduce the chance of the yellow jackets smelling the sugar water, then let out a sigh of relief to have gotten my bees safely tuck in for the winter. 

Thursday morning- 9:30 am. I take a casual stroll out to the bee yard. There I see my hive surrounded in a cloud of bees. Not yellow jackets, not my bees. From parts unknown, either a distant neighbor’s hives or feral bees, my hive has been invaded.  My little guard bees are fighting valiantly to prevent the robbers from pillaging their honey and killing the queen.  I can’t stop hundreds of bees. I run into the house and grab a sheet and a jar of sugar water.  I drape and tie and pin the sheet over the hive, trapping some robbers and my bees together, but stopping the onslaught from the cloud of bees swarming around me and the hive. I dump the sugar water in a pan away from the hive to entice the robbers away. I have done all I can do and can only stand, watch and listen to the battle go on. It is heartbreaking.

At dusk, when all good and bad bees go home, I untied the sheet, dreading what I will find. A pile of dead bees are on top of the hive. I suspect a battle to the death between good and evil. A couple of bee bodies on the ledge and a couple of guard bees dragging a dead body out of the hive.  

Some frantic research on my part revealed I should close down the entrance to one bee size hole and rub Vicks Vapor Rub around the entrance. As I am doing this, one brave, but I’m sure, exhausted guard bee thought I was another invader and stung me. She survived all that then died trying to keep me away. It’s the only sting I have gotten from my bees and yes, I cried over her death. 

I was miserable all evening. I could not open up the hive to see how bad the damage was or see if the queen was dead or alive. I knew the robbers would be back today and yes they were. I got a jump on them, had the hive covered with the sheet before they arrived. There were not as many today. I called my Dad for advice. He told me to keep them closed up, but give them more food at night. They should be ok for a few days like that and hopefully will make a new queen if the existing one was killed. All may not be lost, but I am bracing myself for the worst. 

We have not had rain here for almost two months. Wildfires are burning in our mountains. I would ask again, like last week, pray for rain and while you are at it, plant some flowers for the bees. They need all the help they can get. 

My son will be home next week for Thanksgiving so a post here may not happen so I will have more time with him.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my U.S. readers. Have a wonderful week everyone else. 

How slow can you go?

My recently finished piece. Hope to have in my Etsy store soon.
My recently finished piece. Hope to have in my Etsy store soon.

Happy Mid-August!  Where has the summer gone?  School started back this week and there are hints of color in the leaves here already.  I’m not ready for cold weather!!!

It has been a productive week for us.  The floor is installed in the laundry room, the dryer is fixed and back in place (no more having to rush out and get the clothes off the clothes line before the afternoon storms) and the washer has moved out of the kitchen to it’s rightful place as well. One more little bathroom to go and the floor will be finished.  Of course I have to paint the new cabinet this weekend before I install the flooring.  It just never ends.

As life begins to finally settle into a rhythm I am facing a new adjustment.  Slowing down.  Well that should be easy enough!  Yeah, you would think so, but…

Is your To Do list longer than your arm every day?  Is every minute scheduled? Do your kids think their names are Hurry Up and We’re Late? I have also been living under that craziness as long as I can remember or since my first kid was born, whichever came first.  Work (often two jobs), house, dog, car, yard, two kids in several sports, volunteer work, church involvement, etc.  Years and years of hitting the floor running early in the morning and collapsing into bed late at night.  Stress, stress, stress.

One of the most insane moments I remember is being at work at our then family business, rushing to pick up both kids at two different schools, coming back to work and supervising their homework, then rushing them out the door at closing time to grab another fast food dinner and drive them both to soccer practice in two different towns.  It had been “one of those days” all day and when we pulled out of the fast food drive through my kids decided that their Mom might need to be committed.

Why? First, what I thought was closing time was actually an hour earlier.  I had looked at the clock wrong.  Then after screaming at them to get their stuff in the car and driving like a maniac to Wendy’s for dinner, I paid for the food in the drive thru window and then proceeded to drive away WITHOUT THE FOOD! It wasn’t until my son gently and tentatively asked me if I was OK that I realized what I had done.  I would not chalk that day up as one of my best parenting days.

That was the point where I started dropping some unnecessary obligations and trying to regain some sanity in our lives, but things have still been “go, go, go” even after my kids left home.  D. warned me that life up here has a different time frame, but I did not realize how different until this week.

I decided to get a haircut at one of the local hair salons.  I got an appointment for 5:00 pm.  My hair is very short and it has never taken more than 15-20 minutes for someone to cut it.  I arrived 10 minutes early and got to sit for about 15 minutes listening to the local gossip and meeting some of my new neighbors.  My haircut started at 5:05.  I left at 6:00!

Tuesday we needed some lumber to finish our barn and fix a room in D.’s new business.  We arrived at 3:45 with our list.  Said hello to the owner who was helping another customer.  Sat in his office for another 15 minutes. Then he and D. proceeded to discuss hunting for another 15 minutes.  Finally out to load the lumber we went. Then the fork lift stopped working.  Another 15 minutes of fork lift discussion until it was decided to use THE OTHER forklift. Another 15 minutes picking out the right pieces. Yep, another hour bites the dust.

I used to start work at 6:30 in the morning. Now that I am down to one job I sometimes just stand in the middle of the room trying to figure out what to do with myself.  With the yard, house, dogs, horses, bees, work and an hour drive anytime we go somewhere, there is plenty to do, but there really is a time difference.  It’s like a Twilight Zone episode (if you are younger than 45 years old you will have to Google that reference).  Honestly, it’s going to take awhile to get used to this.  I have a physical reaction when I have unoccupied time on my hands. I get anxious and antsy.

Oh, it is a much better and saner way to live and one that our grandparents had everyday.  We have made time into our enemy.  Something we have to race again the clock to beat everyday.  Time should be our friend.  Time to get to know our neighbors.  Time to pay attention to what you are cooking and eating. Time to enjoy a walk in the woods. Time to read a book or get lost in a project.

I finished this guy this week. It takes so TIME to do all those dots.
I finished this guy this week. It takes so TIME to do all those dots.

 

I’m working on it my friends!  I’m taking a deep breath when I start feeling the anxiety coming on and sitting down in my lawn chair and watching the butterflies do their thing on my zinnias.  I hope you can find some “country time” too.

 

Christmas came early

Window

I’m sitting here watching it rain buckets, but the town’s “Blinkie” lights and the Moravian stars are keeping my mood festive.  I am not a big celebrator of holidays.  That probably comes from the whole commercialization aspect that has taken hold of our celebrations.  I hate shopping and dislike the obligatory gift giving.  I would much rather buy a gift for someone at a random moment that would actually be special than having to figure out what they might want or need at the end of every year.  And who doesn’t like an unexpected gift? That is much more fun for the giver and the getter than the Christmas gift gluttony.

Having been the Grinch/Scrooge many times over the years I finally decided I needed an attitude adjustment.  I quit beating myself up for not having a budget for extravagant gifts.  I discovered Etsy and Amazon (no affiliates here folks) thus ending the need to fight through crowds.  I simplified the decorations to what I really liked and took little time to put up.  I stopped trying to cook ridiculous amounts of goodies that none of us needed.  Instead I perfected my Chex party mix recipe and live off of it for one month, once a year.  I quit trying to win Most Beautiful Package of the Year with my gift wrapping. Now I don’t even put on bows. They just get squished.  Most importantly, I quit looking for Christmas “cheer”.  The expectation that all was wonderful and bright about the season.  Ok that sounds pretty Grinchy but let’s be real.  It’s stressful not cheerful most of the holiday season.

All these changes had the effect I wanted.  I’m rarely stressed now at the holidays. Instead, I get to appreciate what Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year should be about in my opinion.  If you thrive off the hustle and bustle, go for it and celebrate on!  I’m a low-key, introvert, borderline hermit.

Yesterday my Christmas came early. Not the gift giving, but the Christmas spirit.  We celebrated the life of my uncle Chester who passed on Saturday.  I know that sounds strange, but bear with me a few more minutes.  First, Chester was 88 years old.  Most of those 88 years he was the life of every party and a prankster extraordinaire. For about the past year he had been confined to life with a feeding tube. I don’t think any of us wanted him to continue on that way for much longer.

His funeral was more laughter filled than tear filled as just a drop of his many antics were shared. The Christmas spirit part for me was the time I got to spend with family and old friends.  I rarely get to spend more than a couple of hours Christmas day with my aunt, uncles, cousins frantically trying to catch up on each other’s lives.  Many have stopped coming to the family gathering as their own families have grown and new traditions are made.

The funeral was held at my home church in the community where I grew up.  Thanks to Facebook I manage to keep up with some people there but so many others I don’t.  Though very brief, the hugs and conversations were wonderful.  I even discovered a couple of them read this blog.  Thank you, my highly patient and tolerant friends and cousins! I left the funeral with those all too rare warm and fuzzy feelings that come from tears, laughter and love.  I think uncle Chester was enjoying it immensely too.

Have a wonderful hug filled week!