Zen weekending

I'm going to the beach this weekend armed with blankets, beats/bass, books on bees, brioche, boyfriend, beautiful people, brauts, boil*, yurts, journals, camera, wine...Bring it, Nehalem!

*Boil is apparently some sort of delicious stew that a fellow beach-comber is concocting.

Meanwhile, here are some bits for a lovely, creative, relaxing weekend.
Anju Mulder's photography (that's one of her photos above), especially her "Illustrations and typography," has me swooning.

Vanessa Paxton's flickr stream has me mesmerized. Check out her photos here

Erotographomania: a mania for writing love letters

Here's another student poem:

I'm the time between day and night at the end of fall
and the beginning of a long gray winter season

I'm a spore floating on the spring wind
spreading new life to wherever I drift

I'm just there, no greater goal; no purpose
I'm just there


waxing moon, raindrops fat

This weekend, in addition to a 13 mile hike along Eagle Creek through the Columbia River Gorge, I flurried with restless, creative, April energy that included a trip to Portland Nursery, a curtain cutting session with my girl Kara, cleaning the chicken coop, composting, scattering seeds
(I just couldn't help myself. I had to get the fairy's meadow!), decorating flower pots, and creating fabulous tomato plant holders out of unused two gallon water containers (See the spout on the bottom right?) into hanging tomato planters. I have to say that this may be one of the best ideas I've had.
The container is large enough for a tomato plant. Plus, I can plant two different plants on either side of the top. Above has basil seeds, and below, I planted marigold and nasturtium seeds. I also threaded the twine into the handle of the container, so I believe it will hold when the tomato plant is full grown and fruiting.
(The vine with the purple plant to the right is a Japanese wisteria; I'm in love with it.)
Yesterday, I planted 12 tomato plants in the beds seen above: orange smudge purple flesh, brandywine, and Oregon spring during a waxing moon and rain, the ideal planting time according to lore. The bushy plants on the left are salmon berries and in the back left is the pea trellis that Brian made out of bamboo.
 Above, my seedlings await planting or gifting. In addition to my salmon berries, my strawberries (transplanted from 18th St) are blooming: I never realized how lacy the petals are until I went to snap this picture.


 Here's what the ladies and drones are up to. It's mind blowing to think that they've done all this and more since April 6. If anyone out there sees anything in this photo that a novice like me might not notice and need to worry about, please let me know. I think they're looking pretty good. That third from last comb is being built between two bars, so that's going to need to be moved.
 The rain cleared up earlier this evening. I worked late, and tonight, I'm going to read, sew, eat ice cream, watch tv, chill with kitties, and dream about the artist who built these shelves.


first tastes

Yesterday evening when I did a hive inspection and maintenance, words and phrases that I'd read or heard echoed back to me, becoming real; for one, I heard an echo of people snubbing top-bar hives because you have to destroy brood or kill bees in order to harvest honey. And I did indeed destroy brood yesterday (although I did not harvest honey). Upon looking into the hive's window on Tuesday, I discovered, instead of a clump of bees, bees on combs! They'd built all the way to bar 7. But not all of the combs were straight, and I knew that I had to get in there. Plus, the queen's cage was still in there, and this has been gnawing at me. But with all the bees clumped around it, I had no idea how to remove it. So, yesterday, I went into the hive with immense help from Brian.

The first thing that we found is mold in the hive. It's extremely damp in there. I removed the honey water in the ziplock back that I had placed in there to feed them and there were some dead ants floating around in that. I moved the false back to the rear of the hive, and then I worked my way up to the combs. The good news: the bees are not building comb along the sides, so the sides must be angled enough. Also, there's already honey! After two weeks and two days of getting my bees! There was also a lot of pollen stored up. And there was brood.

As gently as I could, I trimmed comb that was crooked and removed comb that wasn't being built straight across the top bars. We also managed to get the queen's cage out, which, thankfully, had not been surrounded in burr/brace comb (I'm still learning the terms and what all these things are). At first, the bees were fine with me being in there, but the closer I got to the front, the angrier the bees got, especially since I was slicing off edges of comb that were completely warped. We did use some smoke to try to calm them. 

My knowledge is scant, and I was so nervous that now I'm feeling overly critical of what I did/didn't do. I did kill brood. I did piss off the bees. But I was gentle and slow. I tried to save as much as I could. I evacuated the hive as soon as I could, once the bees had had enough (in fact, I need to go back in and remove some of the hive that was cut and left on the bottom). I replaced the bars carefully so as not to squish any. And I didn't rob more than the tiniest little lick of their amazing honey. I hate that I killed brood, though. I'm a baby bee killer. I'm haunted by the sight of bee larvae which looks something like this and which one beekeeper I found on youtube said could be disastrous for a young colony.

I'm trying to comfort myself with the notion that I did what had to be done in the interest of preventing a larger mess later on, with a queen's cage covered in brace comb and brood and bars that cannot be opened and would have to be destroyed.

It wasn't perfect but it is what it is.

We closed the hive back up and Brian leveled it out again and drilled some more holes in the bottom and on the sides for ventilation.

I have no pictures, because my camera's memory card has gone kaput. Great timing, I will sardonically add.



I am in love with this idea from Contented Sparrow (photo is from Megan's blog) of using embroidery frames as hoops for colorful textiles. What a fabulous way to add color anywhere while simultaneously using that piece of scrap material that's been hiding out in a bin/basket/shelf for the past year. I love how she has them clustered on the wall that way. She also used fabric to recover that lampshade.

For more color and inspiration, go here.


seed love!

Yesterday, planting joy!

I planted sunflower seeds along the fence next to the chicken coop, nasturtiums along the border of the raised beds, black-eyed susan vines in containers and a hanging basket, pincushion flowers under the holly tree, and scattered cosmos seeds under the rose bush.

I dream of mammoth sunflowers taller than me with shorter varieties of red and gold and white around their skirts and lettuce and kale at their feet. I envision raised beds surrounded by comfrey and nasturtiums around the border and marigolds interspersed amongst the tomatoes and carrots. Next to my hive will grow wild flowers and mints and catnip and lemon balm and dandelions. Vines of climbing black-eyed Susans will stretch around my front porch railing, and sunflowers, columbine, lupine, foxglove, thyme, and hollyhock will beckon the bees and fairies in my front garden.

I'm on a planting frenzy. I feel like since this is the first year with a real yard and a real garden, I can go crazy. I can experiment and throw seeds wherever my heart desires, and if they grow, hooray! If they don't, I'll learn, study, observe, solve. 

I do need to keep better notes, which equates to being a better observer. I need to write down when the apple tree blooms and when the petals start to fall. I need to record dates of the opening of the first daffodil. Little did I realize that such signs may be better harbingers of auspicious planting times than calenders are. Welcome to the world of phenology.

But currently, the comfrey grows bushy and the garlic grows green and tall. The strawberries are expanding, and the first flowers on the salmon berries have bloomed. The lemon balm leaves are deliciously lemony and green again, and the bluebells are still blooming. The apple petals are starting to fall, and the tulips are past their prime. The rapini seeds have germinated. Mesclun and arugula that I planted in the colander are more lush every day. I took two seedling trays from inside and moved them outside under the cloche. Time to start hardening them off. Are the lillies of the valley blooming yet?


leafy dreams

 Yesterday's hike was notable for the views and for the wild flowers. Here are a couple of my favorites; if anyone can identify, I'd love to know what they are. Especially this one: an orchid? In the Columbia River Gorge of Washington State?

Here's another photo: it's growing right out of the ground, in a shady area covered in in pine needles.
My creative writing students wrote haikus, and I thought I'd share my favorite one:

In a tree I sleep
dreaming my leafy dreams
then I fly away.


a study in sunflowers

Today, we went for a hike in the Columbia River Gorge, where I wooed the honeybees and daydreamed amongst the wild flowers.

There were hundreds of sunflowers in bloom along the cliff's edge that we walked along, overlooking the Columbia River and Mt. Hood.
(I'm not sure why these lines are suddenly appearing in my photos. Corrupted memory card? Poor program for editing photos? Anyone know?)
There was also lupine:


I could watch them all day long

The bees love the bluebells.
This makes me wish I were a bee and could just crawl up inside of the blossom. I try with my camera, but it's not quite the same:
I sit in the sun, watching them buzz around me and imagine that one day, I will be eating their nectar made from the essence of dandelions and bluebells and a myriad of other summer flowers from my garden, planted by my hands.

And Genera Tsao and the gang grow larger and more distinguished. They take dirt baths and threaten annihilation of my seed beds.

Elijah sometimes thinks he's one of them, perhaps a big brother.


ladies' craft night

Owls and flowers and fabrics and modge podge and stripes and Meryl Streep and polka dots and wine and lots of laughter about boys.

Meryl as Julia may be the best thing ever to put on a flower pot!