Thursday, July 31, 2014

There Is A Reason I Call Him Mr. Marvelous

When we first got married, Mr. Marvelous would show up at the school where I taught every month on the eighteenth and bring me a dozen roses.  He would wait until almost the end of school, peek around the corner to make sure I was finished, and walk in with a big grin and a dozen roses.  Sometimes the day was finished and the kids were gone.  Sometimes they were still there (and they loved it!).  For one year I got roses every single month. 

Since then, I have gotten a lot of roses, although not every single month.  I have gotten roses for every anniversary.  I have gotten roses for my birthday.  I have gotten roses on Mother's Day.  I have gotten roses just out of the blue for no particular reason at all.

I started a tradition during that first year of marriage.  Once the roses started to wilt, I would pull them off the stems and put the petals in a basket to dry.  The basket ~ or another incarnation of it ~ has lived on my dresser all these years.  I don't think there has ever been a time when it got completely empty.  It has been challenging at times to convince Mr. Marvelous' kitten that the petals belong to ME and not to HER, but I think I have won that battle.

A couple of weeks ago Mr. Marvelous had to go spend a week in Wisconsin for training on some new equipment his company is servicing.  He had to be gone over our 27th anniversary.  When he was coming home I had the computer logged onto the airline website all day that let me track his flights (I kept waiting for Homeland Security to come knocking at my door!).  We sent each other little text messages when he was between flights and he called when he got safely back to the Birmingham airport, so I had a rough idea of when he would walk in.  I was ready!  When I heard the van I went running out the front door and there he was walking up the walkway....with a dozen roses in his hand!

They were beautiful lavender roses; a color I hadn't seen and that doesn't sound as lovely as they really are.








When the petals began to wilt, I pulled them and put them into the current basket.










I looked at the bare stems and I suddenly felt like Morticia Addams.


Mr. Marvelous was amused!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

About Those Bees....

I posted an update a couple of weeks ago with pictures of what is going on around the homestead.  When I posted the link on Facebook a friend asked about the bees.  It's a sad and painful (literally) story. 



I have detailed the steps in this post, so I won't go through all the process again but it was quite involved.  Going through all those steps on a hot day in blue jeans, long sleeved shirt, long gloves, work boots, and a veil over your face, is challenging.  Try getting a good look at your frames through the mesh of the veil with sweat  perspiration "glow" dripping into your eyes.  Hold on; we're getting to what the sweat perspiration "glow" does.



In late March/early April, I realized that I needed to get into the hives.  It had been a long and difficult winter.  I had been feeding the bees with sugar water, but I had not inspected things for far too long.  I had already lost a large number of bees to swarming (we lost a total of three swarms).  I went out and started the process.  I don't know if it was the sweat perspiration "glow", or if I got some honey on my veil, or exactly what happened, but suddenly there were some bees inside my veil.  They liked being there even less than I liked having them there.  Before I knew what was happening, I had two bee stings inside one ear and three more on my face.  There was yelling involved.  I am a stubborn, red-headed Reed and I refused to let them beat me completely.  I stomped back out there fussing about "stupid apis mellifera" and managed to get everything put back together.  Then I went inside and fumed for a while.  It took a while for those stings to recover.  I developed some mild cellulitis in the ones on my cheek and nose.  The ones inside the ear canal hurt for too long. 

A few weeks later, still of the mind that no stinkin' bees were going to get the best of me! I suited up and went out to do a more thorough check.  I got the two tops off the hive and without any warning I suddenly had three stings on my arm above my glove and several bees trying to get inside the (clean) veil.  This time the stings took two weeks for the swelling to go down.  That, my friends, is an escalating reaction.  And that is "not-worth-the-risk". 

I hated to do it.  We put a lot of time, energy and money into this project.  I had hoped that having our own honey would 1. help Mr. Marvelous with his allergies and 2. eventually turn into something of a cash crop.  I did not want to give up but I did not want to risk developing an anaphylactic reaction.  I was talking one day to a good friend and she reminded me of the risk of anaphylaxis.  She's been through it herself.  She urged me to let go of the project.  Still, it was hard to make up my mind to quit at something.  A few days later I was talking to another friend and she gave me the gift of these words: "Some projects just aren't for us.  You don't have to be able to do everything.  Sometimes it's OK to accept a project as a learning experience and let go of it."

I called our neighbor who had gotten us started to see if he wanted the bees to add to his yard.  He didn't.  I discovered that another local bee-keeper had lost most of his bees over the winter.  I called him and talked to him and he came over with his padawan late one evening and they removed the hives. 

So the bees have a new home.  Our local bee-keeping society has some gently used equipment.  Mr. Marvelous has some of his garden back, and I have a bit of honey in the pantry.

I also learned some valuable lessons along the way; specifically, I'm not a bee-keeper!


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Contest!!

Remember the new rooster?

 

He is settling in well.  He's a handsome guy, and he doesn't crow constantly (what more could you ask for in a rooster?!). 

When we got him, the folks we bought him from had three little pullets (future layers) that we decided to get as well.  When we got them home, we found this sweet pose in the carrier:



I have seen Mama hens do this with baby chicks, but I had never before seen a rooster do this with a little pullet.

He still takes good care of the three little ones who came with him, and he has started being a little more assertive in looking out for the rest of the flock ~ especially the other Buff Orpingtons (the leghorns are still a bit stand-offish) (bless their hearts).

We just have one problem.  We can't think of a name.  HELP!  We have decided to have a Name-The-Rooster-Contest.  We need you to either leave a comment on here or ~ if you are more of a Facebook kind of person ~ on Facebook.  Mr. Marvelous and I will choose the one that seems to fit him best.  The winner will receive a nice prize. Winners will be announced Monday, August 4th.  The choosing will be completely arbitrary. 


Get ready, get set.....send me your entries!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday Memories

Many years ago my family moved to Miami, Florida.  It was a challenging period.  During our time there, one brother graduated high school and moved away to college, one sister decided to skip her senior year and do early enrollment in college (not as common at that time as it is now), and one sister finished college and came back home to live while she worked and waited to be able to move overseas to the mission field.  Whew.  Talk about a life-changing three years!

When we left there and moved back to upstate South Carolina, my Dad moved from pastoring a church to finding, building and establishing a camp and conference center.  That meant that we did not have a manse to live in.

We had some dear friends, however, who had a mountain lake colony cottage.  They found out about our situation and very graciously allowed us to live there for a season.  That was one of my best springs ever.  It was a little cottage in the woods with a creek in the back.  It was a rather cool spring, so the weather was just what you would imagine a mountain spring ought to be.  The dogwoods, daffodils and mountain laurel bloomed right on time.  The cottage came with lake-privileges, so we could go fishing, swimming and canoeing whenever we wanted the work got done.

The most fascinating thing to me about this house though, was the porches.  The man who lived here had a son.  Every summer he and his son would design and build another porch.  There were porches connected by walkways (some of which went over the creek), porches that wrapped around full-grown trees, screened porches, porches that had steps going up and porches that had steps going down.  In my memory I am sure that I have elaborated on these porches beyond what they really were, but it was lots of fun to live there for a while. 

Dad on one of the smaller walkways.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday!

Whether you spend it gathering materials and making something amazing...

(Like pollen to turn into honey)                

...Or if you decide to take a risk and open up to someone....



...Or if you just decide to go ahead and bloom for the glory of God...


I hope you have a wonderful weekend!
God's peace to your homes!               

Thursday, July 24, 2014

About Potatoes

It might have made me sad to look at our potato patch. 

Wilted...


dying, dried up stems.


It might have.  Except that I am married to Mr. Marvelous.  So I know that potato plants have to be wilted, dying and have dried up stems before you can harvest them.







Doesn't he grow pretty potatoes?!










One Saturday we got up early and got busy. 









He operates the complicated machinery....




















...and I work the buckets
































...while the overseer made sure we did not miss any.








One red bucket of russet potatoes for baking and scalloping, one red bucket of red potatoes for boiling and mashing, and one bucket of Yukon Gold potatoes for potato salad.

I hope that will get us through til winter when we harvest our late crop!


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The View From The Rabbit Hutch

And we have babies!








I love the wide open beaks!

 In case you are wondering, they are wrens.