Hats Off …

… to Mom for finally giving therapy her best effort. She’s been walking further each day — using a walker (obviously) and with a lot of help getting up, but she’s making progress. Her doctor put her on Memantine for her dementia, and she seems (slightly) less confused, which I think helps. She also “self-propelled” her wheelchair all the way down a hall to lunch a few days ago. The goal is to get her strong enough to transfer from bed to chair/toilet with only the help of an aide. Reaching the point where she can get up by herself and walk with the walker would be a huge accomplishment, but may prove beyond her ability. Still, it is so wonderful to see her moving again. As my brother said, “I thought she was going to stay in a chair forever.”

… to our hives. We’ve realized we left our honey supers on too long because none of the six had as much honey as we’d like to see going into winter. Most of what they’d made was in the honey supers, although in our defense, the queens were laying so many eggs, many of the deep frames were filled with brood from May on! At one point, we had to borrow ten deep frames of honey to keep various hives from getting too crowded (to try to prevent swarming), so we had that to give back to them.

Also, we have a lot of goldenrod, and they were bringing it in (you can tell by the smell), so we left the boxes on for that. Since the Yellow Jackets were always present, trying to rob, we were reluctant to really open the hives and check things out. Once the goldenrod ended and the nasty yellow things calmed down, we went through them all. What we saw made us immediately start feeding thick syrup (2:1 ratio of sugar with some Honey B Healthy to stimulate their appetites).

Some of the hives responded by draining the jars. Others were a bit slower. And we discovered a ton of dead bees on the pull-out part of the bottom board I’d won. It was a different design than the others we have — kind of like a metal tray. I can’t say I recommend it. They seemed to be get stuck between the board and the bottom screen of the hive. Unable to reach food, they died.

Below is a diagram from https://bee-health.extension.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Parts-std-hive2.jpg, The bit that’s pulled out on the bottom board is what I’m talking about.

Because we saw the mother (queen), and she was still laying, we decided to feed them along with the rest, and hope for the best. Unfortunately, the next time we checked, the population remained small. Ultimately, we chose to move them into a nuc box, which would be easier for them to defend.

Another option would have been to kill the queen and try to combine the hive’s population with another hive. Two reasons we didn’t do this are: 1) We’d have had to find her again, and 2) If the problem is something more than the bees just getting caught downstairs, we wouldn’t want to spread whatever caused the problem to another hive.

Still, I’ll be very surprised if they last through the cold weather, which makes me sad.

This week, we’ve been taking the final steps to winterize. To our surprise, those hardworking sisters were still bringing in pollen! Yesterday and the day before, it was only a few bees, but today there were lots coming in just loaded down with orange protein!

The nights have gotten too cold for them to take liquid food, so the jars came off. In their places, we added supers filled with the honey we’d been saving, topped with either sugar bricks or newspaper with sugar spread over it.

The latter is called “mountain camp feeding,” and is a method we haven’t used before. The sugar is supposed to offer the added advantage of absorbing some of the moisture in the hive.

Moisture in a hive is a very bad thing for a variety of reasons. Go here, if you want to learn more about the havoc it can wreak.

Most people use sugar bricks, fondant or the mountain camp method in late winter or early spring, but I’m paranoid about the prospect of them running out of food, especially when it’s extremely cold and we’d be reluctant to open the lid.

Today, we wrapped and covered. In the past, we’ve used a variety of methods to keep our girls warm and dry. In the picture below, you see hive wraps, hive cozies, and some insulated boxes The Engineer made.

The grey and pink covers are foam insulation, the two outer hives on the right stand have bee cozies that just slip on, and the two hives in the middle of the stands are wrapped. I see they now make the wraps with velcro, which ours don’t have. In the past, we’ve used tape and rope to keep them on, but this year, we’re just using tape.

Prior to starting the whole winterizing procedure, we treated them one more time for Varroa.

All that remains now is to cross our fingers and hope … and tend to the woodenware. The Engineer spent a good hour or two scraping propolis today so we’ll be ready when spring comes, and the photo below is his.

If you don’t keep bees, you may not realize what a job this is, but he’d much rather do that then think about Christmas gifts and cards, which was on my schedule.

Division of labor — that’s what it’s all about!

Last of all, hats off to me, only this time I mean it literally.

I got my hair cut recently, which means the beautiful knit wool headbands my friend Lynne made me aren’t always enough to keep the heat in now, and I decided to crochet myself a beanie from a pattern I’d used before. (Thank you, Lynne, I do still wear them, just need something with more coverage for those very cold mornings!)

Because I have plenty of scrap yarn (both donated — again, thank you, Lynne — and bought at thrift stores), I decided to use what I had.

I’m not very good at the whole “gauge” concept, and if you knit or crochet, you can guess what happened next. I ended up “adjusting” the pattern to what I thought would fit me with varying results.

Like the Three Bears, the first was too big.

The second wasn’t quite right either.

So, I made another, which turned out fairly good, but the color was wrong for my coat. I may give it as a gift, so I’m not showing it here.

The next one was made from velour yarn and looked like a tea cosy. It’s been repurposed as such.

But, finally, finally(!) I made one that works. Matches purple coat — check. Fits my head and does not look like a tea cosy — check and check.

I would have modeled it for you, but today was a no-makeup day, and sadly I’m too vain.

If you’d like to try your hand at a tea cosy, I mean beanie, you can find the pattern here. It really is pretty easy, even if you have to adjust for different yarns and head sizes.

And on the plus side, our local thrift store is getting two hats out of my venture as well. ๐Ÿ™‚

P.S. I apologize for neglecting to post in the last weeks. I could offer many excuses including the fact that we took a little trip to Kentucky and Tennessee. Mostly though it’s just trying to get into a new normal that involves working around my more frequent and longer visits with Mom. I feel we’ve dodged the bullet this time, but I know the gun is still out there in our future, loaded and waiting. And yes, I do realize this is a dark image. I’m using it anyway because it’s accurate.

Q. What Have I Got to Complain About?

Nothing, that’s what.

I had a frustrating day yesterday –five hours with Delta online and phone trying to straighten out a change they made in our flights. During the last hour of it, as I was talking to the agent or on hold, Mom called me eight times and left five messages.

It’s become clear the anesthesia has sent her reeling into dementia.

But this morning, after I went to see her, I saw two women who had clearly come to visit someone. One of them was developmentally disabled, and the other used a cane, but probably really needed a walker.

I felt ashamed of myself. What right did/do I have to feel sorry for myself when things don’t go my way when there are people in the world whose every action requires just that extra bit of effort?

Sometimes I just need to get over myself and remember that whatever I’m dealing with, someone else is struggling with something far worse.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

That’s all — just in case someone else needed a reminder too.

Mother, Sisters and Princes

It won’t surprise you to learn I follow a lot of beekeepers on Instagram, and I’ve recently encountered some new beekeeping terminology I fully support.

It has to do with the three castes of bees, previously known as the queen, the workers, and the drones. But, no longer! Two of the beekeepers I follow (both women) have introduced new phrasing for these hive members.

Above is a picture that illustrates the three bee castes. (It also illustrates how poor my photo editing skills, but that’s beside the point.)

The photo above was taken of a poster we have hung in our downstairs bathroom. (There is no escape from bee education at our house.) And it was only after I took this picture that I realized that once again, the worker bees have gotten short shrift. They are at the bottom.

Not to be too opinated about it, but THIS IS COMPLETELY WRONG! They belong at the top.

Members of this caste of bees run the hive. Not only do they do all the foraging, make all the honey and propolis, clean the hive, care and feed the larvae (as well as the layabout drones), they also manufacture all the wax, guard the hive, and make all the cells.

Also, because they make the cells, these bees decide on the size of those cells, which is what tells the queen what type of egg to lay — fertilized for another female bee or unfertilized for a male.

Not only that, these girls are the ones who decide when and if the hive needs a new queen, and then they raise one.

Actually, they usually make several and let the new queens figure it out from there, but you get the gist.

Meanwhile, the drones wander around the hive begging food and fly to the drone congregation area to try to mate with a queen. Such a hard life.

While all this is going on around her, the queen is frantically laying eggs in the cells provided by her workers. Her entire life is summed up below. (Or you can read more here.)

1. Emerge from a queen cell.
2. Immediately locate all other queen cells and chew through the wax and kill the queen inside.
3. Rest and mature for a few days.
4. Fly to the drone congregation area to mate with multiple drones (who then die).
5. Repeat #4 a few times, sometimes many times. The more drones she mates with, the better the genetic diversity, which translates into a stronger hive. This is one time that promiscuity pays off, assuming she manages to return from all those flights.
6. Come back to the hive and spend her life laying eggs.
7. If she is very successful, the hive will get crowded. The workers will decide to swarm, and start making new queens in preparation.
8. Before those new queens hatch from the queen cells, the workers make the queen run to get her in shape to fly again. Or so I’ve heard.
9. The old queen then leaves the hive with half of the bees, and they find a new home.

There are other possibilities of how a queen’s life can end, but this is the happiest. Her life isn’t an easy one either.

All of this leads back to the topic of this post, the new names for the bee castes.

Ladies and gents, henceforth, I shall try to remember to refer to my bees as the sisters, the mother, and … wait for it, this is soooo accurate … the princes!

To be honest, I can go either way on worker vs sister bees because worker bee is 100% accurate, but mother and prince have to stay.

And that’s all I have to say on the matter.

Update on Mom: I come away sad every time I visit. She’s exhausted by therapy, but there’s no alternative. If she doesn’t do it, she’ll be bedridden for the rest of her life. If she does it, there’s a chance she may regain enough strength to have again some small control over her life. To even be able to go to the bathroom on her own again would be a huge win. But at this point, neither alternative is very attractive.

Also she’s still a little confused (although she’s not asked for my dad lately). She’s dependent on others for everything, when she’s always been independent, and is so grateful and happy to see me when I visit even though I boss her around. I know she feels she’s had a good life, a lot longer life than she expected, but she’s tired. It’s a lot to ask of a 92-year-old to learn to walk again, and I’m not sure she’ll have the physical strength and the emotional desire to succeed. Even though she has kept her good humor, I can see she’s tired of fighting and sometimes when she’s laying in bed, I can see her mind is very far away.

When she was in the hospital, I was telling the doctor how my grandmother died — doing as she pleased until one day she sat down in her chair and died — and how I was hoping that was how it would be for Mom.

He said, in the kindest way possible, “Most people don’t get what they want,” and something about it being very uncommon.

It makes me think that we need to get much better about death in our culture. There has to be a better way to ease my mother’s (and all of our) last days/months/years on this earth.

Sadly, I don’t know what that might be, or I would be seeking it out for her.

And now, I’ll end with something beautiful — two pictures of a Sweetgum tree leaf on rain-varnished blacktop that I took this morning. I know they are Sweetgum because I tried a new feature on my phone I didn’t know I had, which identified them.

Amazing! Honestly, sometimes technology makes me feel so old.

Update on Mom: Not Great, Not Horrible Either

I hoped the familiar surroundings of Mom’s room at her nursing home might jog her memory about when and where she is, but that has not proven to be the case.

Her personality has returned, but it somehow left behind many of her memories.

When I visited briefly yesterday, she was very annoyed not only by the fact that my brother hadn’t visited (due to being hospitalized and then quarantined for COVID — a fact she can’t seem to digest enough to remember), but also because “your father” couldn’t be bothered to come see her.

She was, of course referring to my dad, who died twenty years ago in December and whom she left in the late 1970s for the man who eventually became my stepdad.

When I reminded her of the above facts, she said somewhat plaintively that she’d like to see Dad again.

So would I, Mom, so would I.

Still it’s weird to hear this from her because the breakup of my mom and dad’s marriage changed all our lives forever. At the time, I blamed him, believing some of his actions caused the divorce, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to see Mom certainly bears a great deal of the responsibility.

For me, it’s like, “Now you feel this way? After completely changing everything for all of us, now you look back and wish you could see my dad again?”

It’s just seems odd that she’s dwelling on this.

Physically, she seemed to possibly, maybe be making some (excruciatingly slow) progress, but today she was, ahem, indisposed due to the effects of the antibiotic on her stomach and didn’t get out of bed.

And yes, she remains ticked off at Dad for not visiting.

However, she always seems glad to see me. For this reason, I am visiting every day, at least for now, despite –or possibly because — nothing much seems to be happening.

The possibility of this kind of outcome of her fall hadn’t occurrred to me. I imagined she’d either move forward with PT — maybe not to her previous level but close — or this would be the health crisis that her aged body could not overcome.

It sounds heartless, but when your parent reaches such an advanced age, you can’t ignore what will certainly be the outcome one day (and likely sooner rather than later).

Instead, we are in this sort of twilight zone, unsure how things will go.

And yet, personality-wise, she’s her old self. Except for some frustration with Dad (and with me and her brain when I explain why he’s not coming), she seems pretty happy. Also, she’s not in pain (at least she says she’s not).

So, even though her body and mind seem to be letting her down, her spirit remains indomitable.

I take heart in that.

Hello, My Name Is …

It seems appropriate to drop a quick update on the situation with Mom.

She had surgery for her hip on Thursday — a screw and rod rather than a replacement, and it went smoothly thanks to the care of the surgeon and anesthesiology team. However, by that time, the pain meds were having quite an adverse effect. She would rally from time to time, but was very confused and spend much of the time staring blankly at the wall.

Sunday morning I was convinced she’d had a small stroke. Her mouth was drooping, and she was having problems swallowing when I tried to feed her the applesauce and other soft foods she’d previously eaten for me (although not for the aides). A scan showed this wasn’t the case.

Obviously, she was unable to respond to any efforts at PT.

Yesterday, we seemed to have rounded a corner. When I came in, she was sitting up (with help from the therapists) and not only ate, but also fed herself.

More importantly, her feisty personality seemed to have reappeared.

Thankfully, that’s still true.

However, today when I walked in, she said conversationally, “My daughter has a bag just like that.”

When I responded I was her daughter, she was adamant that I wasn’t, although she was not quite sure who I was — someone who was supposed to come see her, maybe the therapist.

When I helped her take a drink and encouraged her not to drink too fast, she responded that she’d been drinking for sixty-two years.

“Ninety-two, you mean,” I said.

No, she was 62, and not a day older. And her oldest child was 24, her youngest almost 23, with the middle one being somewhere in the middle of the two.


She’s also sure as can be she never broke a hip in her life.

This is a little worrying. She’s been off pain meds for at least three days, and surgery was five days ago.

On a positive note, she did mention that “Everyone keeps telling me I need to co-op-er-ate with the therapists.”

“Or what?” I asked.

“Or I won’t improve.”

“And if you don’t?”

“Then I will be S. O. L!”

In some ways, it’s nice to have Mom back in spirit, if not dwelling in reality. And I’m sure glad she understands the importance of doing PT.

She also seems pretty chipper, happy to chat about anything I brought up.

I don’t even mind her not recognizing me because whoever “Kym” is to her, she clearly holds a place of great affection in my mother’s mind.

Also, my father had Alzheimer’s for many years before he died, and he had no idea who I (or anyone) was for at least a few of those years.

I just wonder if the thirty years Mom has misplaced will come back and what it will mean if they don’t. And like watching my father lose his own memories, it makes me ponder the essence of what we deem to be reality.

Resilience and Expectations

I’m sitting in my mom’s hospital room as she sleeps, waiting for time to pass and the doctor to make her rounds. 

The phone call came as we were preparing to work the bees yesterday,  to reorganize two hives and start to feed for winter. 

“Kym?” Mom’s voice was strained. “I fell. They think I broke my hip.” 

Sometimes plans change as quickly as that. 

Mom, as I’ve mentioned, is old, having turned 92 in August, and she’s had some health issues in the last fifteen years — a broken arm at 80, a crushed elbow plus surgery for vulvar cancer in the years following, and several hospital stays for pneumonia. She has a-fib and congestive heart failure, wears hearing aids (when she remembers), glasses, and dentures. Both knees have been replaced, and cataracts removed from both eyes. Recently, she had laser procedure to remove scar tissue left by the cataracts, and the doctor said her eyes have reached the middle stages of macular degeneration. Her kidneys don’t work so well either.

Also, in the last two years, she’s begun to lose her short-term memory, which means she sometimes calls multiple times to check in when we’ve spoken just hours (sometimes minutes) before and repeat the same questions in a conversation.

At least it’s not dementia, for which I am profoundly grateful.

Despite all this, she gets up every day and dresses (most days), reads her library books, and strolls the halls of her nursing home with her walker looking for trouble. 

The staff love her because she is feisty, and many say they want to be her when they grow up.

In short, she is — and she would tell you this herself — a tough old broad. But she will also tell you getting old is not for sissies.

Being the daughter of a tough old broad is also not for sissies. I am becoming a tough old broad by default as we face these unwanted developments together.

Each time a health crisis springs up, I mentally prepare myself for the possibility that this one might be that finally pushes her body past its capability to survive.

I know it will happen, just as I know no matter how hard I try, I will never be prepared for the loss that is surely, surely coming my way.

And yet, each time so far, this resilient, tough old lady has managed to recover.

Still, every bout with illness, every fall, and every injury leaves her just a little below her previous level of wellness. 

It’s like that expression (and gosh, I’m just full of quotes today, aren’t I?), “Fall down seven times, get up eight,” except I know someday — no matter how tough and resilient she is — someday, my mother’s body won’t be able to get back up.

I know genetics have a lot to do with her longevity. Her mother lived to 86, her father to 84, and many of her aunts and uncles died in the eighties and nineties. 

But she’s one of seven siblings. Five are now gone, and two of them were younger than Mom.

So, it’s not just genetics.

If you ask me — and I know you didn’t, but this is my blog so I’m telling you anyway — I believe Mom has survived partly because of her resilience. The ability to roll with the punches, without worrying overmuch about the future has surely been a factor.

I don’t mean she’s spent her life not thinking ahead, or that she was impetuous and foolhardy (although leaving my father after 27 years of marriage sould imply a certain level of impetuousness).

But Mom’s always seemed to trust things would work out okay, while at the same time not hinging her future happiness on any one set of expectations. 

Photo by Ann H on Pexels.com

Here’s what I mean: When I was younger (so much younger than today), I would get super excited about future events, thinking, “When that day gets here, I’m going to be so happy.”

Of course, that day would come and go, and although I might have enjoyed it, my life remained basically the same … a normal ordinary life. 

Eventually, I came to understand John Lennon (and/or whoever may have said it before him) was right. Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. 

Sometimes those happenings are wonderful — an unexpectedly fun time with friends, the sight of a beautiful sunset, an opportunity you never thought you’d have. 

And sometimes, they are not wonderful — finding a lump in your breast, falling and breaking a hip, losing a loved one. 

It follows that happiness also happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. 

If we are very lucky and/or particularly insightful, we’ll recognize this contentment/happiness as it’s happening in our normal every day life. If we aren’t so lucky and/or insightful, we may realize it later, which will hopefully help us to  learn to notice — and be grateful — when we are in a life phase where things are uneventul, unexciting, just, well … normal.

There’s a meditation that goes: 

“A normal day! Holding it in my hand this one last moment, I have come to see it as more than an ordinary rock, it is a gem, a jewel. In time of war, in peril of death, people have dug their hands and faces into the earth and remembered this. In time of sickness and pain, people have buried their faces in pillows and wept for this. In time of loneliness and separation, people have stretched themselves taut and waited for this. In time of hunger, homelessness, and wants, people have raised bony hands to the skies and stayed alive for this.

Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, savor you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it will not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky, and want more than all the world your return. And then I will know what now I am guessing: that you are, indeed, a common rock and not a jewel, but that a common rock made of the very mass substance of the earth in all its strength and plenty puts a gem to shame.”

It is normal days that are the true treasures of our lives. We would be better served to recognize that fact instead than searching for happiness in future events that may or may not live up to our hopes, events that may or may not even happen.

How much better it would be if we could keep in mind that none of us know how many long those normal days will last. (For that matter, none of us have any idea how many days we have left, normal or not.)

A long time ago, I read a poem comparing the cycle of ocean waves to the cycles of life. I wish I could find it again because there was a phrase that’s stuck with me, something about “When nothing is happening, something is building up to happen.”

I have found this to be true. When things are at their most normal, and we are settling into a routine — perhaps even growing a little complacent — currents are growing. Hidden and beneath the surface, they will eventually reach the shores of our lives, and no one can know how much they will wash away.

I won’t say I don’t sometimes get caught up in planning for the future — I’m a control freak, after all! Nor do I claim to be a particularly evolved human being. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you already know this because not only am I controlling, I’m also selfish, judgmental, and sometimes inflexible, occasionally unfocused, and yes, even neurotic. 

But I have at least learned to not tie my happiness/contentment/self-worth to outside events and other people, and to understand that sometimes life just doesn’t go as planned. Sometimes things happen, and there’s not a damned thing you can do about it. “What’s for you won’t pass by you,” “Que, sera’, sera,'”, and all that.

I learned from my mom. ๐Ÿ™‚

Actually, life taught me, and I count myself lucky it did.

I’ll end with another quote, this one familiar to many, and the words are worth pondering, no matter what your faith.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Umm, isn’t that the whole hospital?


I subscribe online to a small, local, online newspaper, and in each issue, there’s a poll about news or opinion pieces in that day’s paper. 

One of the questions last week was based on a column titled Blue State Residents are “Real” Americans Too. So, the question was, of course, “Are blue-state residents “real” Americans?” 

Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of voters answered “Yes.”

However, the percentage of those who said blue state residents were “real” Americans was only 75.4%, with 12.8% saying no, they aren’t, and another 11.8% saying maybe. 

Ponder that a moment, please.

A whopping 34.6% of those responding to the poll thought Americans who live in “blue states” either aren’t “real” Americans, or they just weren’t sure. 

I still find it hard to believe, even if I do I live in a “red state,” meaning the vast majority of people who live here, and thus might have voted in this poll, define themselves as Republicans. 

For the record, I amย notย a Republican, having considered myself as an Independent until our 45th president was elected. After that, I found myself unable to vote for any representative of a party who would consider him as a nominee for any position in our government.ย 

Also, for the record, I will admit while our 45th president was in office I often referred to him as our “so-called president.” But here’s the difference between me and his supporters: I never claimed he didn’t win the election. I may have said he didn’t win the popular vote (he didn’t), but that that’s not the same thing.

Nor have I ever said his supporters aren’t “real” Americans.

How in the world is it possible that some people apparently believe they have the right to decide who is and isn’t a “real” American? And what is the criteria on which they make that decision?

Is it based on what others believe or how they worship? 

On the fact that these “not-real” Americans have the audacity to speak against something the “deciders” hold dear?

How can that be correct when the freedoms of religion and speech are listed in the Bill of Rights of our Constitution? 

It’s right there in the Third Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

That’s same Bill of Rights many in the “red states” hold as holy when it refers to the Second Amendment: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Unfortunately for them, the Bill of Rights is not multiple choice, but a list of freedoms for all Americans, not just those who agree with you. 

True, it’s taken some time, with the abolition of slavery and women’s suffrage coming much later, and we’re still working on it, but I don’t understand how anyone can think they have the right to say someone else isn’t a “real” American. 

On the other hand, South Carolina is a “red state,” and their legislators are apparently trying to outlaw websites tell people how to find an abortion, so maybe those who live in “red states (like mine) believe the freedoms of speech and religion only apply to their own. 

You know from my genealogy posts that my family has been in this country a long, long time. I have many ancestors who fought in the Civil War (mostly for the Union — here’s the story of one — though at least one fought on the opposite side against his brothers). My own father served in World War II, and at least one of my ancestors (possibly more), Zackquille Morgan (my 5x great grandfather) fought in the American Revolution. 

Some might think this “pedigree,” and I use the term ironically, would make me, I don’t know, a “real American?” 

I disagree. I am a real American because I was lucky enough to be born in this country. The Engineer is a real American because he immigrated here and eventually became a citizen, though he is also still a British citizen. Likewise, Darling Daughter is a real American because she was born here and a real Brit by virtue of her father’s birthplace.

If you want to be pedantic about it, and apparently I do, if you go back far enough, we all came from elsewhere.

And, as an American, I believe my fellow Americans have the right to speak and believe as they choose, just as our constitution promises. 

And this means neither I, nor anyone else, has the right to say someone else isn’t a “real” American.*

*I would have to say, however, it seems those who follow the constitution as it’s written might have a very, very slightly stronger claim to being a “real” American. 

Regrets, I Have a Few …

Sometimes, not often, I lay awake at night, unable to sleep because I am remembering things I’ve said or done that I regret.

Photo by Nadi Lindsay on Pexels.com Unfortunately, what I’m writing about wasn’t all a dream.

Mostly, I think about words I’ve spoken that I should have held back. It’s bad enough when I know I was I spoke thoughtlessly, but there are many, many things I’ve said because I was so convinced I was right, or at least that I had the right to say them.

I won’t share any examples with you because, frankly, I know I was wrong, and I am ashamed of myself.

And yet, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realize what they say is true … the past is prologue, what’s done is done, and you can’t go backward.

On the other hand, I believe it’s good for us to look back on some of our actions with regret, because by doing so, we realize we were wrong. And even if we can’t correct our mistakes, we can try not to repeat them.

Instead, we can move forward and make completely new ones. ๐Ÿ™‚

I know I’ve made mistakes, and I’m willing to deal with the consequences, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve also become less willing to shoulder the burden of other people’s poor decisions.

I’ve always tried to look ahead, to consider how my decisions will affect myself and others. Obviously, it’s impossible to predict the future, but most of the time, we can make an educated guess about what might happen.

If you keep making the same mistakes, without learning from the consequences, you won’t move forward.

If you don’t sock away any money, you likely won’t have a leisurely retirement. And in this case, I’m talking about people who had the money and the opportunity to invest, but chose not to do so. I understand this isn’t possible for everyone.

If you jump in and out of relationships without giving them time to develop, it’s likely you will not find a long-term partner.

If you have a partner, and you cheat, you will likely be found out and lose that partner.

Sometimes I think there are people who expect life to always be easy, happy, and fun, as if that’s a God-given right.

It’s not. And let’s face it, life isn’t fair.

I know I was born into a life with advantages others don’t have, and because of that, I’ve always felt it my duty to do the best I could with what I’ve been given. And to try to share some of those blessings and help others when I can.

That’s all anyone can do. There’s no promise our lives will be wonderful or fulfilling. The only way that can happen is if we play the hand we’ve got, using the advantages we may have been given. And if we expect another person or a job or a way of life to make us happy, we’re doomed to fail.

I’m sorry my thoughts are meandering. I’m writing partly to sort them out.

You see, The Engineer and I are at a stage where — to use a cliche — we are living our best lives. It’s a life we’ve worked hard to be able to enjoy, and we’re old enough to understand there’s no guarantee we’ll have a lot of time to do so.

So, when I think of others close to me who have made other choices, choices that mean they are not in a similar situation, I feel I can choose to feel sorry about that, without feeling obligated to try to step in.

This makes me feel guilty because I know there are others who would step in and try to do something. And just to clarify, I’m not talking about someone who is starving or homeless or in a situation that is not the direct result of their own decisions.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this, so feel free to leave a comment.

9/11 – Let Us Pause to Remember

Photo by Aidan Nguyen on Pexels.com

Let us pause to remember those who died on 9/11, and think as well of those who died later, as a result of that day.

How can it be that our country, which appeared so united in the aftermath of the tragedy, seems now in the process of falling to pieces?

And now, it’s more critical than ever that we work together to at least begin the process of solving the problems we are leaving behind. We owe it to our children, who are being left vast obstacles to their very existence caused by the unsustainable way of life we have created.

We could start by remembering we share this world with millions of other humans, all of whom have their own struggles, that we all inhabit this earth we are in the process of destroying.

That, at the very least, is something we share with every other person in existence.

The war in the Ukraine and the unrest in many countries including our own — these are big problems, to be sure. But if we continue on the road we are traveling, soon there will be no road, no war, no unrest, because we won’t be here.

So, let us pause to remember 9/11 and the days that followed. Let us remember not only because those whose lives were cut short by those inhumane acts of war deserve to be remembered. Let us remember because, despite the events of that day, and the thousands of years of other, equally cruel acts of war, for one brief spell, our country felt united.

Only by making that belief a reality that encompasses all people can we hope for a human future on this green planet.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

What We Did on Our Summer Holiday: A Photo-Blog

I’m stealing the title from one of my favorite movies to try to get everyone caught up with what we’ve been doing.

If you’ve not seen “What We Did on Our Summer Holiday,” you must. Go ahead and borrow, rent, stream or whatever it is you do for movies. This post will still be here when you get back.

Okay! Now that we’ve all seen the movie, I’ll warn you this post’s entertainment value pales in comparison, partly because I already wrote most of it once before, only to have WordPress swallow it up and refuse to regurgitate it on command.

I apologize. I’m not as amusing as Billy Connolly, Rosamund Pike, and David Tennant, not to mention the scene-stealing children actors in the movie. I’m not sure anyone could be.

Grass strip between the corn and bean fields of Illinois

Anyway, first we went to Oshkosh. Well, strictly speaking, first we went to Illinois to our friends’ grass strip, and then we fly to Oshkosh.

Actually, if I’m being completely accurate, first we drove to Detroit to pick up The Engineer’s Little Sister, who came in from England to go to Oshkosh with us, then we flew to Illinois and went to Oshkosh from there.


The point is, we’ve done a lot of traveling in the last month.

Oshkosh was as Oshkosh always is, a whirlwind of catching up with friends from all over, sleeping in a tent under the wing of a plane, cooking outside, and enjoying sights like this at the end of our group’s rows of planes.

Only this year, we had the added pleasure of having Little Sister along. Experiencing Oshkosh can be a bit full on, at least the way we do it, and she was a great sport about all of it, even when I lapsed into mothering mode. She turned 45 while we were there, and to celebrate we went for a ride on the Ford Tri-Motor.

The rides are quite short, but seeing Lake Winnebago from one of these historic planes is an experience to remember.

I won’t go into much detail about Oshkosh, having written about it many times in the past, both on this blog and my old one.

We returned home — happy to once again sleep between sheets and enjoy the novelty of indoor plumbing. A few days and several immense loads of laundry later, we were on our way back to Detroit to bid farewell to Little Sister.

Then, it was time to check the hives we were unable to check before Oshkosh because of the weather.

They all seemed fine — with larvae, brood, and eggs — and we were able to steal a few more frames of honey.

We even saw one or two of the queens. Bet you can find one of them below even though I didn’t circle her.

We did notice something weird.

In all three hives there was more drone brood than we would have expected this time of year.

For comparison, below are photos of worker brood.

When we first saw the drone brood, we thought there might be a laying worker in that hive, but there was plenty of regular brood and larvae, so that seemed unlikely.

We opened the other two hives, and were surprised to discover a similar situation in both.

Complicating things is the fact that queens slow their laying toward the end of summer, resulting in a higher Varroa load. And those nasty mites love drone brood because it’s most similar to their own development cycle, so having a large number of drone brood right now didn’t seem a good thing.

In the end, we decided to get rid of the capped drone brood by scraping those cells off the frames, a disgusting job I won’t describe for you.

Was that the right decision? I couldn’t tell you. I only know we didn’t want to take a chance on our hives becoming Varroa bombs.

We also moved three of the hives, converting the pink nuc box hive into an eight-frame in the process. Now, they’re all on hive stands, instead of being spread out on the picnic table.

Some beekeepers say if you move hives, it needs to be two inches at a time, or over two miles all at once. This is because when bees become foragers, they orient to the hive’s location.

If you move the hive more than two miles, they have no choice but to re-orient. If you move it two inches, it’s still close enough to the old spot that they can find it.

Other beekeepers say you can move it however you like as long as you force them to re-orient by putting something in front of the hive (like a big leafy branch).

The first few times we moved a hive, we did this.

Then, we forgot.

The bees milled around where the hive used to be for a couple hours, but then dispersed, and all was well again in bee world.

I still think the branch is a good idea, especially if you (or anyone else) need to be near where the hive was previously located, because confused bees are not happy bees.

Sorry for the anthropomorphizing, but can anyone really say unequivocally bees don’t get unhappy? I mean, no one really knows for sure, do they?

Anyway, all the hives are on hive stands now, which is the first step in preparing them for winter.

We also ended up visiting our friend MJ to have a look at her two hives because she’d seen open queen cells but no larvae or eggs the last time she’d checked one of them.

By the time we saw them, the new queen had started laying, and everything was fine.

Still, it was a good excuse for a visit, and I was able to take a photo of this glorious sunflower from her yard.

In our own yard, the bees have been loving the mint I planted in a pot last year. Wonder if any of our honey will taste minty?

Because we have so little sun in our yard, we belong to a CSA, and I needed to turn my attention toward that to try to catch up on our vegetable and fruit shares. On the drive to the farm, I pass this barn and was finally able to take a photo.

This Mail Pouch barn looks freshly painted, so it’s either not original or it’s been touched up. Either way, I love to see these painted barns, not because I’m a fan of chewing tobacco (or any tobacco really), but because they are pieces of Americana culture and history.

That trip to the CSA farm, along with friends’ “donations” of zucchini, resulted in many jars of hot pepper jelly and zucchini salsa.

Making and canning anything is a little time-consuming, but the results are worth it. In fact, I hope to can some tomatoes this year. I’m still behind on my CSA share and hoping they can provide me with enough tomatoes to get some in jars.

We managed to get in a quick flight to a local airport for breakfast and a wash of the plane (filthy from Oshkosh), and then were off again, this time for four nights camping.

We camped at Mohican State Park in a spot near the Clear Fork part of the Mohican river.

We shared our campsite with this creature, whom we saw every day. It’s a Common Watersnake, and apparently can give a nasty, although not poisonous bite. Fortunately, the breed only does this if a person does something stupid like swing them around by the tail. As it was, we kept an eye on it from a respectful distance, and s/he mostly laid in the sun.

These days, most people camp in large RVs, but we saw a few other tent campers and some small trailers.

I loved this vintage one, which reminded me of the kind of trailer that was common when I camped as a child with my family.

On our first full day, we hiked to where we hoped to put in our kayak the following day, a distance that was supposed to be two miles each way. It turned out to be closer to four, but was a nice escape from a campground that is always crowded due to its proximity to the water.

Beautiful fungi on a dead tree.

There were many fallen trees, some of them across the path, so it made for an interesting hike.

Also, we crossed a swinging bridge.

I was quite proud of myself because I don’t like bridges or heights. Plus, at the end of the day, my FitBit said I had walked over 20,000 steps for a total of more than eleven miles!

The following day, we drove to the put-in spot, kayaked back to camp, and then did the same hike again, only going one way this time to pick up our vehicle.

The scenery was beautiful from the river, but I’d be lying if I said it was a wonderful kayak trip. The water level was low, and we had to walk over slippery rocks more times than I can count. If we do that river again, it will be earlier in the season when the level might be higher.

On our third day, we drove to the Kokosing Gap trail, a bike path we hadn’t previously ridden. We only cycled about eleven miles — from Howard to Gambier and up into the town of Gambier and back — but plan to visit again, if only to dine at the “Howard Hilton.”

Howard is a very small crossroads town, and we were quite taken with this little bar calling itself the Hilton.

I look forward to further exploring the trail.

This stone arch, at Howard, was a railroad bridge, built in 1874.

And this train is parked at Gambier. You’re allowed to ring its bell, so I did. ๐Ÿ™‚

As you can imagine, we had to eat heartily to provide energy for all this physical activity, and most of my cooking turned out well, like this chile and pie iron cornbread dinner.

On the other hand, my second attempt at Dutch Oven pizza turned out rather charred.

Fortunately the crust was thick, and there were lots of toppings, so we kind of ate the middle. Lest you think poorly of my camp cooking abilities, the first time I made this, it was perfect.

If you’re into camping and cooking, below is the menu for our trip.

Sun โ€” Ham and cheese baguette (Cut a baguette in half, butter one side, mustard on the other, add ham and cheese, wrap in foil, and grill over fire until done), Grilled zucchini marinated in Garlic Expressions, topped with romano and grilled until cheese melts.

Mon — Breakfast: Tomato scrambled eggs (canned tomatoes cooked in buttered pan until liquid is released and thickens into a sauce, add eggs beaten for scrambling, cook gently until done, add chopped cilantro), Lunch: Sandwiches/veggies/munchies, Dinner: Cornbread and chile โ€” beans, peppers, chorizo, chile powder, 1/2 can black beans, canned tomatoes, cumin โ€” Dutch Oven on stove, Cornbread in pie iron (butter pie iron very well, drop 4 T. cornbread dough, close iron and stick in coals, flipping after five minutes and checking after ten).

Tues — Breakfast: Ham and eggs, with home fries, on tortilla if desired, Lunch: sandwiches/veggies/munchies, Dinner: Camp quesadillas โ€” tortillas, chorizo (fry ahead), salsa, guac, olives, beans, cheese, done in pie iron, toppings: guacamole, salsa.

Weds — Breakfast: Cereal, milk, Lunch: Sandwiches/veggies/munchies, Dinner: Pizza โ€” pizza crust (make ahead), sausage (fry ahead), onions, peppers, olives, cheese, basil, pepperoni, fresh tomatoes, garlic.

Thurs — Breakfast: snack bars, bananas, melon.

It was a great trip from the misty mornings …

… to the beautiful sunsets.