06 November 2012

With Charity For All

Because ultimately, "we're all in this together" is a higher moral stance than "I got mine, suckers."

Because we ARE going forward; it works better to face that way.

With malice toward none, with charity for all. 

21 October 2012

George McGovern

…we will call America home to the ideals that nourished us from the beginning.
From secrecy and deception in high places; come home, America.
From military spending so wasteful that it weakens our nation; come home, America.
From the entrenchment of special privileges in tax favoritism; from the waste of idle lands to the joy of useful labor; from the prejudice based on race and sex; from the loneliness of the aging poor and the despair of the neglected sick — come home, America.
Come home to the affirmation that we have a dream.
Come home to the conviction that we can move our country forward.

10 October 2012

Honey and the end of summer

Thanks to these gals, we got over 5 gallons of honey -- most of it off the big purple hive.

The bees are put to bed for the autumn, with boards under the bottom screens and the extra entrances closed up. I've been feeding them, and pink hive has has been enthusiastic about taking syrup, while purple hive mostly ignores it. Both hives have a full box of honey up top, some honey in the brood boxes, and pollen with a little honey in the bottom box or two... these are big hives and we haven't been able to take much out. They've been bringing in pollen up through last week, though I doubt they're finding nectar so dry and so late in the year. They worked the oregano and hyssop and mint and SEDUM as long as they were in bloom.

  I still haven't treated for varroa mites, though Gunther Hauk says that formic acid (sold commercially as mite-away) is nontoxic. Maybe in the spring. The pink hive is Carniolian, the purple is the Russian-wild survivor mix from Olympic Apiaries; both seem fairly mite-tolerant.

27 August 2012

Dark Mountain 3 & the Paradox of Civilization

The new Dark Mountain, Issue 3, is loaded with interesting ideas, writers, and art & I'm excited to have 3 poems in it. The art of holding conflicting ideas in the mind: unfortunately civilization is headed for a crack-up of epic proportions, but on the other hand, poems in print!

In Chicago last week I walked around the Armitage-Fullerton-Lincoln Park triangle taking pictures and admiring the beautiful houses and growing garden culture. The sedums and sages in the formal garden by the conservatory have honey bees all over them -- who's keeping bees? I want to talk to them!

The "blue angels" military air show raged overhead, burning jet fuel, making a huge noise, causing dogs to howl and babies to burst into tears. How can you not love this civilization of fountains, conservatories, gardens, diverse people taking picnics to the park? How not be horrified by our wastefulness -- wasting jet fuel, enticing young people to the military, and creating sonic booms -- as entertainment?

22 August 2012

Bookman's Alley

Bookman's Alley in Evanston was the greatest bookstore around Chicago... on trips to the midwest I always made a trip up there to browse the vast stacks and inhale the special aroma of literature, local history, printing press, wool blanket, and bison skull that permeated the place. The owner had announced that he was selling off his inventory and closing up shop in the spring, and it seemed the time to visit had passed. When I was in Evanston on Monday for lunch we stopped by Bookman's Alley and found it locked up, but the young woman working in the frame shop opposite told us that he had been open over the weekend. It seems like it's still possible to visit, though I don't know how much of the inventory is left. Well worth a trip, last chance to see, carpe diem!

My best find there was an old copy of H.L. Mencken's The American Language. A treasure.

24 July 2012

Excitement in the Bee Yard - Requeening

We are requeening our hives using Steve R's no-kill method. On the right, the Big Purple hive and the new purple nucleus hive. The nuc. hive contains the new Russian queen from Olympic Apiaries, along with ready-to-hatch brood and a lot of young workers from the Purple hive, and honey. Later in the summer we'll combine the two hives, with the nuc. hive and young queen on top.

On the left, the combined Blue swarm hive and the Pink hive from which it originally came.We are recombining the two so that the young queen in Pink can be the queen of the whole colony. Right now there's a double-screen board between the two colonies, but in 2 weeks we'll remove it and spray with syrup and Honey-B-Healthy to make them all smell the same (yummy) and stimulate feeding, grooming, and good vibes.

This method allows you to requeen without killing the old queen, or even finding her. Putting the new queen on top and making sure she has lots of workers and a strong colony on her side seems to be the trick.

21 May 2012

preparing for collapsatopia...

At my house we talk about What To Do in preparation for the big crash, the Collapse of the Economy As We Know It. Which we assume is not too distant; maybe next week like JH Kunstler is forever promising, or maybe next year, or maybe somehow not for ten or fifteen years.

11 May 2012

Our bees got through the winter pretty well and had a big population build up in March and April. When we took off the bottom board it was easy to see the mites that had dropped during winter, and I started noticing a lot of dead bees under the hive and bees unable to fly because their wings were mis-shaped or missing.  Decided that we should treat for mites, and still not wanting to use chemical treatments I decided to go for the powdered-sugar treatment. A few bees inevitably get crushed when we start moving boxes around, but the bees seemed okay with the sugar treatment -- their first reaction looked like "hey, what are you doing?" and the second one seems like "oh, it's sugar...sugar is goood!"  It took them just a few minutes to calm down after we put the hives back together -- they all were inside grooming each other and knocking off mites and putting away some of the good stuff. Though I'm not happy about the cornstarch in the sugar -- undoubtedly GMO corn as even I am not insane enough to use organic powdered sugar to dump by the cupful on my bees.

10 March 2012

This patch of  moss is growing in a giant chain which is turning to rust at Maury Island Marine Park.

A Tale for Middle-Aged Women

One is tempted to call Lolly Willowes a fairy tale, but that implies romance, which it has none. Ursula K. LeGuin mentions Sylvia Townsend Warner in her essays, and quotes her at the beginning of the lovely story"The Poacher." It took a while, but I have fallen into Lolly Willowes -- a perfect book to discover in one's fiftieth winter. Here's a favorite passage:
All day the wind has risen, and late in the evening it called out to her. She went up to the top of Cubbey Ridge, past the ruined windmill that clattered with its torn sails. When she had come to the top of the Ridge she stopped, with difficulty holding herself upright. She felt the wind swoop down close to the earth. The moon was out hunting overhead, her pack of black and white hounds ranged over invisible quarry. The wind routed through the woods. Laura from the hill-top heard the different voices. The spent gusts left the beech-hangers throbbing like sea caverns through which the wave had passed; the fir plantation seemed to chant some never-ending rune.

(135-36 in the Cassandra Editions edition of 1979).

Apparently this part of Buckinghamshire in the Chilterns is now quite suburban -- the wildness that Laura encounters in the novel has perhaps been dispersed. Was there ever a village truly called Great Mop?