A Few Good Things from this Past Week

Nothing amazing or earth shattering has happened, but this past week or so has been filled with so much goodness. My life is quite ordinary and I find such joy living in it. So here are a few of the high points.img_0584On their way from moving from Pittsburgh to Atlanta this sweet family asked if they could make a pit stop at our house for the night. They had been driving for I know, seemed like forever and around 8:45 that evening, I heard a little knock knock at my front door. I looked up and saw the happiest little boy waving at me! Hudson, Easton,  Bella and their mommy and daddy, Sara and Aaron blessed our home with so much joy. Unfortunately, it was a too quick of a visit. Early the next morning they piled back into the car and continued on their way. I’m so happy they decided to move closer to family.img_0585Two days later, I drove to Seabrook Island to refresh my weary soul. I am so blessed with such loving friends, like Angie and her husband Jack, who invited me to the beach. We rode bikes, snuggled with horses, walked the beach and found so many sand dollars! Luckily Charleston is on the way to Seabrook, so I made a quick stop to see my girl and her husband. Sometimes a momma just needs to hug her kid. My momma always said that ocean water is the perfect treatment for what ails you. I believe it…sunshine, salty air, waves lapping, toes in the sand and precious friends make the perfect medicine.img_5999On the way home from the beach, I decided to make a stop in Columbia overnight. Here I am with sisters Laura, Annie and Jane at my sister Jane’s house for lunch. That evening our brother David came by my mom’s for dinner, joining us girls. We were only missing sister, Susan. She was enjoying her grandsons Hudson and Easton! img_0586I could only stay in Columbia overnight because Superman, Adam, Elizabeth and I were going to our first hockey game! Watching the minor league, Swamp Rabbits, was so much fun! We have no idea how the players know when to hop on and off the ice, what the numbers mean that the announcer calls out when someone gets put in time out or what is this power play thing? It reminded us a lot like soccer in many ways. The adorable 4 year old little boys, who sat behind us, knew more than we will ever know. I guess we’ll just have to go to more games!

Hmmm….do you think they’d let me drive the zamboni?img_0587Guess what? Two days later Superman and I are driving to the Tennessee/North Carolina border to drop him off for his 6 day 75 mile solo backpacking trip. He packed and repacked his backpack for days. Measuring and counting each bag of Fig Newtons, freeze dried dinners and tea bags. It was forecasted to be cold and raining or snowing the entire time. Sounds fun right? This is the text he sent to the fam the first day: “8.5 miles today…almost all uphill with rain most of the day. Got to the shelter at 2:00 and chilled. It’s getting cold and it starting to snow–temp drops to 17 tonight. For dinner–2 cups hot tea + honey; Mexican rice with beans; cookies; almond joy bar; sipping on some merlot wine right now! Wine in first night only–have to rough it from now on. The shelter is full of young folks–an odd collection of weirdos who are out to do the 2000 mile AT in 4 to 6 months. It’s below freezing–one dude has no long pants so he is wearing a down parka with shorts. One gal is playing some sort of Indian flute–I’m waiting to bust out the “someone’s a crying me lord” song. All in all, we h she young folks don’t have a care in that the world–no job, no mortgage, no long term plan–I’m thinking about pontificating about Donald Trump is the greatest of all time and Obama’s a communist–I’m pretty sure I would be booted from the shelter so I’ll keep my mouth shut. All in all I’m as happy as a pig in mud right now. Everyone is talking about all the bears they have seen–I’m 👀 ING forward to seeing my share. I love all of you–a few of you should be here with me…” He is loves this stuff! Like Superman says “This ain’t no big deal”. img_0588This was his view the next morning. Beautiful.img_0589After dropping Superman off at the trailhead, I decided to stop off at the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway. As soon as I stepped through the doors, this lady was demonstrating weaving. Not only does she weave her own cloth, she sews it into gorgeous jackets and tops. I can’t imagine putting scissors into the cloth that just took me hours to weave! There were many artisans demonstrating their craft while answering questions and explaining the tools and process. I was mesmerized. As I walked up the ramp to the exhibition hall, I was taking pictures of everything. When I reached the top, I almost ran into a semi frantic woman looking for the person who was taking pictures! Who me?!? Not me, but some other unsuspecting soul. I get it. The artists don’t want their artwork copied. I respect that. So I put my camera down. Just remember No Pictures Allowed! img_0594I guess I’m so drawn to this type of artwork because it represents the common folk. According to Wikipedia: Folk art encompasses art produced from an indigenous culture or by peasants or other laboring tradespeople. In contrast to fine art, folk art is primarily utilitarian and decorative rather than purely aesthetic. Take for example Grandma Donaldson in the photo above. She didn’t go to a fancy art school or travel the world to be inspired. She used the materials she had around her and made something beautiful. Whether it was the farmer who used his knife and a piece of wood or a stick to whittle a toy or the mother who took the outgrown clothes and repurposed them into a beautiful warm quilt. I LOVE IT! img_0596When I finally got home that day it was raining, so it was the perfect time to finish up some stuffed animals that people have ordered. Luckily for me, Joann’s had a big clearance sale on yarn among other things, so I stocked up for other orders of rabbits, elephants, monkeys and unicorns. I’ve got lots of work to do!img_0595This weekend, I have two more boxes of bees arriving! I need to get their supers and frames ready. Here are 40 frames that need the wax panel put in each. This requires I chisel carefully out a thin piece of wood, slide in the wax sheet then hammer the wood piece back on to hold everything tightly in.img_6043I went to the local hardware store to buy some very small nails and a small hammer. When I found this beauty, the young man assisting me kinda sorta rolled his eyes when I squealed with delight. He just doesn’t understand how things like this can really make me happy. I got 20 of the 40 frames done. Tomorrow is a new day. I was feeling a bit pooped.img_6049Are you feeling as tired as I felt? I had the house alone. It was quiet, just me, Sam and Lilly. I poured myself a cup of hot tea, snuggled down in my favorite chair and started reading my favorite book/magazine. Quiltfolk is a bi-monthly, beautiful magazine of 180 soft pages of no advertising, wonderful stories about the people behind the quilts and what inspires them to stitch. Each issue takes you to a different state or area and tells you their stories in the quilt world. The issue above takes us to Arizona. It quiets my soul and feeds my heart with inspiration.

Its been a long week or so. Thanks for stopping by!

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Spring Chores at the Bee Hive

Spring is upon us. When I stand outside on my deck in the morning, the birds are singing an amazing chorus. The buds on the trees are bursting open. And I have to get ready for two more bee colonies arriving in a couple of weeks!Two Sundays ago was one of the first warm days we’ve had, so I knew I had to take the opportunity to open up the hives. Remember bees like their home to stay at an even 91* all year long. During the colder months they will huddle together to keep it warm. And during the hot days of summer they will beat their wings to fan the hive down. Knowing this, it is important to open the hive when it is sunny and warm, without a lot of wind. To do so otherwise will result in a bunch of angry girls who will let you know of their disapproval with their little stingers.

Taking my time and moving slowly, I started with the yellow hive. I saw before even opening the lid that there were many bees moving in and out. That’s good. Also, I tried to see how heavy the hive was, which tells me if there is any honey and or many bees. It was too heavy for me to lift a corner, so that made me excited.

When I opened the lid, I looked to see if the pesky beetles were in check; if there was lots of activity; and if the frames looked full. All three of those things were looking great!

In the picture above, do you see the queen? She’s the one with the fancy yellow dot on her back. Without the dot, I would have a hard time finding her. She does look much different, but with so many bees walking around, it can be tough to spot her.

Check out this video I took of their activity.

I was pretty pleased with the yellow hive. I saw capped brood, larvae and the queen. And that’s good. Unfortunately, when I went to the second hive my heart sunk a bit. There wasn’t much activity at the entrance and the hive felt very light.

This picture was taken last year, but I wanted you to see that there are two supers or boxes on top of each other. When I lifted the cover off, I saw that the upper box was completely empty of honey. Not horrible, but that meant they were probably hungry. Then I lifted that box off and took a peak into the large green box. Ugh. I didn’t see much going on. I lifted frame after frame out looking for eggs, larvae and hopefully a queen. There were a few spots of brood, but I never saw the queen. Only two or three frames were showing any activity. Most of the frames were just plain empty. This made me sad.

I did what I thought was a common sense approach. I gave both hives a sugar cake and laid a mite-away strip on top of the brood frames. I wanted to give them a little boost of food and help get rid of any mites that might be hurting the hive.

The next day I went to the bee store for supplies for my new sets of bees coming in. I asked the lady there about my poor hive. She said I may have to kill the queen and replace her. Kill Her?!?! Yup. I was to pinch her head and drop her in the box so her pheromones would tell the hive that she was done. Then the next day I would install a new queen. (Yes, you can buy queen bees. Maybe one day I’ll learn how to raise my own, but for now I’m good with buying one.)

So yesterday I went to the farm prepared to have to kill the queen. But when I approached the hive I saw this! The entrance to hive was just buzzing with activity! I didn’t want to get too excited quite yet, I still needed to look inside.WHA-WHAT?!?! I was so giddy! This looks so good! Do you see the brown comb in the bottom left hand corner? Well ten days ago that’s what most of the frames looked like…empty. Now today…there is lots of capped brood, larvae and bees!🐝🐝🐝Look at all that pollen those girls are bringing in. The bee at the very top has orange pollen and the others have yellow. I wonder where they got their stash? So fun to watch! As you can see they are all bunched up at the small entrance, so I decided to flip the entrance thingy over to the bigger hole.Now that the weather should be warm, this bigger entrance will allow more bees to get in. Uh oh! Looks like some of the girls don’t realize I closed up the small door. They’re really smart, they’ll figure it out.

Ok new bees are coming I have to get the site ready. Luckily Superman was on hand to help carry the cement blocks from the barn. On these four blocks a hive will sit, so it needs to be level.I’m thinking that looks pretty darn good!

Back at home, I’ve started painting the supers for my new bees. It’s important to seal the outside, just the outside, from the elements. Otherwise the boxes can mold, thus not too good for honey. I could put one more coat of white Kilz on them but how boring!In full MerryMary style, these hives are going to be fun!

Don’t these colors scream happy? I like to think I have happy bees, who are going to make happy Honey one day.

Thanks for stopping by!