Thursday, January 06, 2022

in pandemic times

I've been so freakin careful about staying clear of COVID. 
I've skipped family stuff, I've avoided friends, I've done most of my gathering outside for 2 years.

And then, despite full PPE... I catch it at work. 

I'm so annoyed. 

(I'm fine. Seems to be mild/omicron) 

What a world. 

Wednesday, January 05, 2022

farmer in training

(edit to add, this post was started prepandemic)

When can you call yourself a farmer? 
I think about this a lot. Is it when you are feeding yourself, yourself plus others? Is it a matter of breaking even? Does there need to be a cost (or a gain) involved?  I don't consider having chickens or bees farming. I probably should. Especially with the bees, they are livestock, and I'm finally breaking even on them .. and occasionally making a little money. 

(And now today)

I think maybe farming is when you start to care for your land and plan for the future of it. 

So... Yeah. I guess we're there. 

Thursday, June 18, 2020

(june 17, 2004)

This year my blog is old enough to get its driver's license.  Sixteen years of digital records.   

When I started it, it was a place to put my travel adventures as I got ready to head to Togo, West Africa.  A few years before I had traveled to East Africa and done a series of newsletters-all in the time before things like mail chimp existed to sort and send bulk messages... half the messages would bounce back, and it being 2001 at the time, my hotmail account would have a hissyfit and stop functioning.  I figured that on this trip, I'd save myself some grief and let folks come to me if they wanted to know what was happening. 

Writing has always been a thing for me, I started journaling in grade five after reading Anne Frank, "what if this becomes the only living record of the greatest upcoming world tragedy?"  
I literally wrote 14 full journals about boys and horses and really vanilla teen drama between the ages of 12 and 18. 
Very useful.

But, here we are. 
My style continues to change, things that are important to me continue to change. I edit out most of the stuff about boys and horses (now bees) and drama.
The most constant thing in my entire life. 
I'm thankful for it. 

Saturday, May 23, 2020


I dreamt of touch
And hammerhead sharks
Swimming in your livingroom 
I opened the door and let them free
A sideways smile as they slipped by to the street
We sat as old friends do
Limbs over limbs
A gentle hand resting
The weight of intimacy 
Even in dreamland, oxytocin healing


I dreamt of touch

And hammerhead sharks

Swimming in your livingroom 

I opened the door and let them free

Sideways smile shared 

Slipping to the street

We sat as old friends do

Limbs over limbs over limbs

A hand resting

The weight of intimacy 


I don't like the last line. But I hate the sound of the word "oxytocin". Though that's exactly what happened in the dream, that pulse of hormone from touch. 

Friday, May 22, 2020

more nerding

One more bee nerd out post. 
To make up for lost time. 

On Wednesday I went in to inspect the 3 hives that got new queens (was that just 2 days ago?). 2 of the 3 were rejected, or killed, or not laying, or something. Hive #4  had an emergency cell already capped, but not attended? So that's a day 7 brood at least, if it's still alive... earliest I'll see eggs is June 6th. That's not too bad? If it lives I mean? I gave that hive one frame of day old eggs and mixed aged brood, just to keep the "open larvae " smell going on, and give them another opportunity to make a new queen if that one has already failed. 
Same deal with hive #11, minus the queen cell. I gave them a frame of mostly eggs. 
The other hive was #6, it had been a smallish sized cluster when I did my first check this spring. They must have lost their queen in February, there were a couple of youngish bees in the mix. They took that queen and she's laying. 

If it wasn't for the fact these girls are selling for $58 a pop, I'd be ok. 

I'll try to make up some nucs with swarm cells next week. I should be able to get two, I have 2 hives that should have been split, I just didnt have the queens for them. 

Friday, May 15, 2020

nerding out about bees

For something that has taken over my life the last 4+ years (and occupied brain space for decades before then), I have never really posted about beekeeping here.
Super weird. 

I'm thankful for a sidehustle/hobby that has nothing to do with everyday life.  One that allows my brain to fully shut the outside world out and allows me to be fully present in a moment. 

What is it about opening a hive that shuts the crazy off? From the liturgy of setting the smoker- each step building for the perfect thick cool smoke, flame, bank, smoke, bank, bellows bellows bellows. To the first crack of the hive body, propolis snapping or bending. Listening carefully, is it the gentle hum of a healthy hive? Or the roar of an unsettled/unbalanced colony? The scents... wax, propolis, honey, the bees themselves. The vibrations, the tiny feet across my fingers and hands. The stilling of bees on a frame, the queen dragging her body, pushing through the crowd of workers. The perfect "wall to wall" laying pattern. 
The problem solving. Sorting it as I go. 

They are everything. 

Inspection notes for this week:
Finally some weather cooperation! I was able to get the last foulbrood treatment onto the hives today, and made a few splits.

I lost half my hives again this winter. Only one starved to death- and I kind of knew going into winter that that particular hive was likely going to have issues. It was FULL of bees in October, and they had eaten most of their stores by then. I'd even fed them supplimentally, and had given them frames of honey in September.  Really sad, she was such a pretty queen, no stripes, and so blonde. 
Two other hives went queenless probably in November/December, and then 3 hives that I have no explanation for. Those are the frustrating ones. 

I had ordered 5 queens for spring splits, but with the pandemic, the queens I ordered didn't come in. They were from Chile and they are a bit of a hot spot in terms of the virus right now. I was given some Californians instead, but they cost an extra $20... $58 per queen!! Crazy money. Just. Ug. Queens from California,  I dont know when they shipped, and I didn't stop to feed them before popping them in their new hives. 

1) queen right, bottom box brood, empty top box. Check in 1 week
2) Natural split, in original location, give frame of brood next week
3) queen right, could be split next week
4) split with new queen on frame 4 check on 18/19th to see if queen was released/if shes laying. 
5) empty 
6) was a queenless hive (but no roar), given 2 frames brood/eggs last week, no emergency cells, no eggs, no brood. Gave it new queen, and 2 more frames of brood. Check on 18/19th
7) empty
8) queen right, split moved to this location. 
9) Kim's hive, queen right, new brood box, undrawn comb.
10) empty
11) small hive, queen right. Could leave it for 2 weeks. 
12) split very strong, new queen, check 18/19th.

Plan? Watch for swarm cells, build a nuc or 2 out of swarm cells. See if I can get local queens early if not. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2020


A hollow feeling
Do I roll into myself
what's left of my shell

But these toes in soil
Fingers woven through roots
Saturation by tears
Green from dry pods
The life I can touch

- I wasn't ready today for the actual gut wrenching pain from not being able to touch someone. I stopped to drop off some equipment for repairs at the home of an old friend. She's been in and out of my life since we were in our early teens. I saw her and without hesitating said "I really wish I could give you a hug right now", then dissolved into tears. Masks are good for at least some dignity I suppose. 

And the thing is, she's been playing safe, I've been playing safe. But I could not vouch that everyone in my circle (work mostly) has made those same safe choices. And I could not deal with the guilt that would come from giving the virus to her or by proxy, her children. 

So my chest squeezed with the pain, the tears rolled down my face and I went another day without connection. 
This is absolutely the worst part of the whole situation. 

Fucking pandemic. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

week 9

Pandemic life, week nine. 
This one has been a sad week. Random tears, lots of them. Some warranted... some hormones.... others, part of the grieving process. Grieving the loss of normalcy.  

We're all dealing however we can. As usual, I'm not looking for sympathy,  just an outlet... 

Mother's day was this weekend. That one is a hard one at the best of times, it definitely added to the current feeling of loss.

 I've been struggling with the feeling of a loss of independence a lot lately too. So much of my life is reliant on the actions of others right now. Wrapped up in work, house building, day to day activities. I feel like I have so little control over so many things. 

On the lighter side,  I let my pandemic-boyfriend "go" this week. A relationship that wasn't really a relationship,  just two lonely people leaning on eachother for interactions. I started referring to him as "pandemic-boyfriend" as a joke. I had this nice idea in my mind, "wouldn't it be wonderful to find love in the middle of a pandemic?"... but realized I was putting pressure and expectations on someone without including them in the conversation. And, while it started as a personal joke (he is the KING of mixed messages), I noticed that I was placing more of my emotional needs on something that wasn't real... and therefore allowed myself to get hurt when it wasn't reciprocated... which obviously was going to happen as I'd made this entire thing up in my mind without including "pandemic-boyfriend" in the relationship.

Whew! "Pandemic-boyfriend" has been equal parts hilarious and exhausting.  
I am so good at pretend and built-up relationships! 

This is what happens when I'm left to my own devices for too long. I become a 14 year old girl. 

I need to double down and read some new books... get myself out of my brain for a bit! 

Monday, May 11, 2020

things Jimmy says

I have a sweet and wonderful coworker. "Jimmy" is kind and funny, and sometimes just misses the point. 

Jimmy mixes her metaphors. Jimmy has misheard and often misuses phrases. Jimmy might have snoozed through some portions of school. The results are charming and hilarious and true.  I've been writing them down in a note on my cell phone for years. 

Here are some of my favourites, on a rainy/snowy May day where my heart is full of sad and needs some silly joy. 

"They are not the sharpest tool in the crayon box"

L: My friend is in Ecuador 
Jimmy:  where's that? 
L: South America
Jimmy: like Australia?
L: more like south America
Jimmy: is that the United States?
L: Not really, we are in North America with the US, then there's Central and below that, South America. 
Jimmy: oh. Ok. That makes sense. I just found out Africa was an island. Wait. Not Africa, Australia.
L: It's good to keep learning.
Jimmy: I learn new things every day.

 "so, I know there aren't any on the moon, but are there people living on Mars? Didn't they go there last year?"

"when you rent something, you get the money back right?"

L: what type of pop do you like?
Jimmy: I don't like carbon. 

(With frustration) You guys are frigging childs!
(A few minutes later) I think the word I wanted to use there was "immature".

that's a crack of shit

I have to tell you a question

Wait... can they do brain transplants? Do they do those?
How would that work? Like... would you get new memories?

Wait... what's a Wombat... bat? So like.. do they fly?

"Since it's gluten free, that means it's better for us right?"

L: He's Korean.
Jimmy: so, Korean isn't Chinese right? 
L: right.
Jimmy: but is Korean Asian?
L: yup! 
Jimmy: I'm just figuring these things out.

And a long one, an exchange about aging and food "issues" with Jimmy and N. 

L: do you think it could be an allergy?

N: no, I think I'm lactose, like I only have problems when I have like cheese and eggs and toast.

L : (muttering something under her breath about allergies/intolerances and "lactose intolerance", not "I'm lactose")  : but what about when you don't have toast?

N: same thing

L: what about when you only have eggs?

N: I buy lactose free cheese, but not eggs. 

Jimmy: I found out last year that eggs aren't dairy

N: Wait? What? They aren't?

L: blink blink blink (looks back and forth between the two and realizes they are serious)

Jimmy: yeah I always thought they were because of that pyramid 

N: Yeah they are dairy aren't they? Because of that pyramid thingy that they just changed.

L: Do you mean the canada food guide?

N/J: yeah that one

Jimmy: When they changed it, that's when I figured it out. 

L: I think you have an egg allergy.  

Jimmy: getting old sucks.

Thursday, May 07, 2020

the bright side of the moon

There's this weird thing about pandemic life too, I mean, beyond this crazy new world that we are living in, lock-down. 
There's this part where technology allows us to touch base with people we never thought would be a part of our lives (again). 
Tonight I had a group meeting online with the women I went to university with (and Mark/M.Do). 

University friends... the first real friends you make who aren't based on proximity.  The people you actually choose to befriend. The ones who fit you so well. Who challenge and uplift you. The people most likely to "get" you. 

But they are also the friends you are most likely to drift away from.. your time together is too short, and those bonds are stretched by time, distance and life changes. 

Talking with these ladies was so easy. We haven't been together in that full group in 20 years.  We've known eachother as long as we haven't known eachother. 

While I felt the old imposter syndrome settle in a for a second or two, for the most part I was simply me, enjoying time with people who got me. 

Actual conversations.  

It felt so good. 

Bits of brightness. 

There's a full moon tonight. It's going below zero again. The spring peepers are silent. And the bucket feeders all lost their vaccum seals on the hives, so I pulled them off before they drowned all the bees. Now I just hope they don't freeze or starve to death. 

2020... Australian fires, covid-19, aliens, Asian Hornets, polar vortex.