Saturday, December 31, 2005

Wishing You a Happy & Productive New Year!

This year our family is looking forward to new members arriving. There's not much that says HOPE like a newborn baby.

Each new year is a tabula rasa, a blank sheet, to be written on in our best hand. I hope that our actions, in the aggregate, will inscribe this new year in such a way that we can look back proudly on our accomplishments. We will never walk this path again. We write in stone. Pray we write well.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Hope your Christmas was a good one!

My family has been to see each other in various places... Enjoying the catching up of news and the sight of loved faces. Face to face meetings are more than just seeing and talking. I believe that the scent, touch and body language of our loved ones fills the space in the meetings. Physically touching is so very important to our animal nature.

My brother has some traits that are remarkable in these transient times. He works to keep his family close and to keep his friends. He has never lost a friend, to my knowledge, and actively works for their success. When he has a business going he finds ways to profit his friends, who then work hard to make the business a success. Quid pro quo. He is well known in his business circle as one who treats his colleagues as well as he wanted to be treated when he worked for others. He makes friends wherever he does business. He gives, of himself, his time and his experience.

My brother also leads the way in family relations. He epitomizes the loyal, generous patriarch. He reaches out to us, even to the ones who are veering off the path and headed for trouble. I admire his constant reaching out to the extended family... Even those who might not answer him this year, but might the next. Gradually they realize he is not a fair weather friend. He treats family as if they were friends and works to make them his friends.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Back on the wagon!

OK, friends, start praying for this old tub of lard to shed some poundage! I'm using the website '' to post food, exercise and thoughts about my struggles. The website has lots of solid info on nutrition and health. There's also a nice forum at '' that seems supportive, along with calculators to see what you have to do. I used their calculators to find that my BMI is 35+ and it'll take me 18 months to lose this 77 Lbs. That's June 07! Sounds like by that time this new way of eating will be engraved in my head.

It didn't accrete quickly, so it will have to slide off gradually too! That's assuming no backsliding.

This is the third day, so I'm not feeling deprived yet. If I can manage it I won't get far enough into the calorie deficit to feel as if I'm starving. I really have to control the desperation that that engenders.

I have to push myself on the exercise part. Macks would love to help me with that, I think!

We have been given 3 gifts of oysters, so one of my meals today was 2 cups of them. I shucked them... then ate them, like the walrus in Alice in Wonderland... or was it Through the Looking Glass?

Friday, December 16, 2005


I’m thinking of doing a portable beekeeping library to carry to the meetings and let folks check out books. I have a step by step booklet on queen rearing which I think my fellow beekeepers would like to borrow.

I used a stethoscope to listen to my hives today (Friday- 48F so far). Most of them in the sun were flying. The ones I knew were weak were still alive, according to the hum I heard through the box walls. Mine aren'’t taking down any feed. This time last year they were all still taking down HFCS and brooding. This year they had no brood in October, except for the weakest one, which had a small patch.

Sledding & “Grown-up": Maturity is facing responsibilities, doing what you need to do, unpleasant or not. You can sled and clown around all you want and still be grown-up! When you're young is the time to experiment, and learn by failure/success. When you have youngsters/oldsters depending on you, you won’t have the latitude of your youth. When I see a fine young man working to improve himself it makes me proud to be his friend.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

She's Home !!!!

I thought I'd posted here in the recent past... Sorry, I must have done it in my daydreams!
Sam's had another IVIg treatment that knocked him silly for about two weeks. BA massaged his feet and did him worlds of good, which helped him through the bad parts.

GT is in the states for about 3 weeks, too short a time to do all she needs to do. My brother invited her along on a trip to see the California part of the family. Babies galore! She's trying to see everyone, and still get the medical appointments and repacking done. Grenada is now in the past and she'll be doing hands on training and classes in St Vincent and the Grenadines, just Northeast of Grenada. She already has a apartment and will share a car with Julie to get around to the clinics. Busses are too undependable and dangerous for single girls. They'll still have to cook for themselves, though. She will at least be with her classmates. The class has shrunk by about 100 to 250. GT really misses some who were close friends, but have to decelerate. I'm pleased she's worked hard enough to stay up with the class.

In May GT returns for her Medical Licensing Board Exams. I think she'll chose the 6 week program in Delaware. Clinical Rotations start in the fall, hopefully in a setting where she won't have to travel extensively. Then she'll get assigned her place of Residency or Internship.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Black Booger Boy

Down at the bottom of this Blog you can play with Booger, a virtual pet who represents our horrid kitten, a spawn of Satan if ever there was one!!! He draws you in with his sweet purring and snuggling ways... then rips your hand into shreds. We originally named him Jazz, after WT's mean-as-a-snake black cat. This one must be a reincarnation and is determined to live up to his namesake. He 'nurses' Mack's, our male German Shepherd's, vestigial teats. Macks even moves his legs so the kitten can nuzzle in. Yesterday the kitten was chewing on Mack's teeth. Macks was holding his mouth open and looking at me with big brown eyes: "Am I being gentle enough?" We don't worry about Macks being bored while Booger is with him, since they play chase around the house. This was never a fluffy fat little kitten. He's always been lean and mean. We got him as one of the 2 week old babies that Daisy asked me to dropper raise. Booger was too dominant to leave alone with his sweeter brother, so I had to separate them. Daisy decided she only wanted the sweet fluffy boy. Sam got attached to this rascal. I thump him hard when he bites into me. He rarely bites Sam. He really is the 'Kitten from Hell'. The virtual kitten is fun. Click on the 'more' button and you can get a toy to play with this sweeter Booger.

Update on Bees and Garden

The sun is shining on the colorful trees, making the outside look like stained glass windows in a cathedral. The fall change came late this year, and slowly. The warming trend has extended our Fall season into mid to late November. Usually the leaves are in piles by now. Instead they are still on the trees, and some trees are just changing.
My thanks to all whose insights have helped me though my fourth summer beekeeping in Mid Virginia, USA.
My bee buddies and I have started a round-table group to share info from the web and otherwise help each other (2-125 hives). Your info is the major part of my input.
The following is an update on the bees here. Most beekeepers are treating, some with Apistan, others with Checkmite. Varroa is a major problem. A couple larger guys have left Apistan in all winter, despite warnings.

Referrings to my bees... note the starvation, which is rampant, after a promising spring:
After everything I have 23 going into winter (17 last spring). I'll be happy to come out with half, with no treatments & a hard winter. The Russians are wintering with smaller clusters, since they slowed down during the drought. We really suffered from July through September with no rain; had too much rain for several weeks into October. No nectar, little pollen, then rain washed out both.
I've ordered my Purvis Bros. Gold-line Queens for June 06. They are the mite resistant Italian bees. With last year's Blue-Line Russians mixed into the gene pool I'm hoping to produce honey & not have to treat. I'm hoping to give the Russians some drone brood to flood the area with better genetics. If I do then the supercedures and swarm virgins will have a chance at the resistant genes.

The bees are full of syrup, but have little pollen. Some pollen is still coming in, though. I spotted a couple hives that might not make it, but since they're Russians I couldn't be sure. If they were Italians I'd join them with stronger hives. Only one hive has brood, and that is the weakest of the F1 Jester hybrid Russians, with only two frames of bees and a three-inch patch of brood on those two frames. We'll see if she survives. There were no drones, and I saw every queen.
Without brood, and with small populations (one box), the bees should have shown some phoretic mites. I was looking very closely and saw one only, in a hive where there were three 'greasy' bees. I'm sure that's caused by a virus. I killed all of those. I went in very late in the day to forestall robbing. It was about 59-60F, and the long shadows were falling, so most of the foragers were home. They were feisty, but not unmanageable, since I took off all the tops and they had to defend every hive.
All in all, with the outbreak of EFB and my scare with AFB, they look really good. I'm confident I'll still be a beekeeper next year.
My bee buddy and I made a trip to Brushy Mountain Bees and bought 424 gallons of HFCS 55 at $2.02/gal. With gas & taxes it came out to $2.40/gal. We borrowed the truck and trailer for free and didn't charge for our labor. It probably would have been $3.00/gal with all that. That would still only be $15.00/5 gal bucket. ADM quoted me $17 plus shipping ($12.50 for a truckload with no shipping
Since I last wrote the garden has been cleaned up. Lessons learned are: 1. Plant earlier. 2. Don't plant Brandywine or Heritage Tomatoes (newer varieties are better) 3. Put row covers on the Brassicas early. 4. Do all the work before the heat comes. 5. Plant fewer beans in the same space. 6. Put up a canopy for beans that spans the grass walkway between the beds to save bed space and let the beans grow higher. 7. Put up higher pea-fences. 8. Plant more peas, lettuce, radishes, & beets. 9. Try carrots in the deep dirt. 10. The raised beds are better than the main garden area. 11. Weed more & Work harder.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

New Behavior vs Old Behavior

Change is painful. Changing how one eats is painful & difficult. There are so many triggers to eating. Besides the obvious ones of smell, tummy growls, sight, mouth watering, the habit of eating certain foods at certain times really grabs me. I find myself eating before I think. I'm thinking of writing down the projected food intake the night before so i don't go on auto-pilot eating.

All day today I kept correcting myself, chanting 'New Behavior'. My mouth rarely stops watering. Time will solve that.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Cheap Cooking

Oatmeal additions:
Boullion cubes
Salsa and/or Cheese whiz
Strawberries and/or whipped cream
brown sugar and cinnamon

Cook bacon/sausage in a skillet, remove it and put Oatmeal in the grease, toast the Oatmeal until brown, stirring, and add water and beef cubes. Cook until thick and crumble bacon on top. Yummy! I have money now, but still eat it (draining the bacon fat)

You can also cook rice until it's creamy by adding water until it's cooked down and use the additions.

One of my favorites when I had little money was to put tunafish in a cassarole, add a vegetable and put a slice of cheese on top. If you don't have an oven, then use a saucepan with water in the bottom and weight down the cover. Put it on low/Med heat to cook. Or use the microwave. Works with any combo, the cheese makes a sauce in the juices. OOOOHHH.

Letter from the Enemy

If there was ever a letter that should strengthen this country's determination to stand and fight THIS is it. It is from Osama's right hand. READ it at

I am looking for another translation of it, since so many words in Arabic don't translate exactly. But the gist should be close. Note that he says that the Islamic Militants only have to wait until the US Media forces the US to desert Iraq as happened in VIETNAM. Our past comes to haunt us. As a democracy we can be led to make bad moves by skewed information. We must require our media to report facts, not rumor or emotional reactions, as they did and continue to do in New Orleans.

Just the Facts, Ma'am! And all the facts, without selecting the ones that will lead us to their desired conclusion. I used to respect Daniel Schor. After hearing him distort stories by selecting facts that made his conclusion valid, and ignoring facts that contradicted him I have no more respect for him. Yes, he's an editorialist, but he calls himself unbiased. He lies.

Bless the Internet: if you look you can triangulate on the truth and don't have to depend on the distortions of biased reporters. "Biased Reporters" is an oxymoron. The only bias should be in the Editorial section and plainly labeled as such.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Volunteer Heroes

Cliff Morrow's Blog ( tells about the local Volunteer Fire Department (VFD) saving his crop when a spark set off the dry foliage in a field. And then the local insurance agent heard about it and filed a claim before he could start it himself! Small Towns are wonderful. The Hurricane victims are finding out about that!

My comment on
Here in Mid-VA, Rice, VA, it's the same. Small towns are the glue that holds the country together. Local high school boys become heroes when they join the VFD. At close by Hampden-Sydney College the Local VFD is manned by college students, who are excused from class to answer the fire horn. Many find local jobs so they can man the VFD during the summer! Every year there is an EMT class that requires many hours of work and study, but the boys happily take that on in addition to their studies. The HSCVFD has won competitions, too. Volunteer Fire Departments are working clubs, tightknit groups of friends helping neighbors. And the Rescue Squad!! WOW! I know a local lawyer who spends more time running and working the Squad than practicing law!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

The Rest of the Disaster: Mississippi and Texas

On both sides of the Louisiana borders are towns and neighborhoods that are pulling themselves up toward civilization. They have pitched tents in yard clearings, or are driving in from less damaged areas to clear and rebuild their lives. Some are lucky enough to have jobs, still, and have to balance work and cleaning, clearing and reconstruction. Others are selling what's left - as is, where is - to the Real Estate Investors buying up land for the casinos and construction companies who have deep pockets. Whether you sell or rebuild depends on how deep your pockets are, mostly. If you have, or can get a good line of credit and have a construction crew available you probably will rebuild. Construction guys are flocking down to that area, but matching needed workers with companies will be the crux of the solution. The guys at DirectNIC ( are thinking of setting up a matching service. I hope they do, since I think they'd do it well.

Oh, NO! Wretched Kitten!

The stronger of the two kittens chews on the weaker's hind parts... left alone this would cause a bladder infection and death for the weaker. I have kept them apart and the weaker was getting fiesty and doing well, so I allowed them to play for about 10 minutes. OH, NO!!!! Poor littlest one is now all swollen and tender. Of course I parted them again, but poor little fuzzy one is still sore this AM. Shame on me for not recognizing the problem sooner, DUH. I thought they were play-fighting. I wonder how long this will be a danger? I may have to let DC take them home one at a time. Until I can be sure the littlest is strong enough to defend himself.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Positive Overviews of Hurricane Recovery

The best so far from onsite folks is the DirectNIC guys
They saw it through, with pictures, from the main business district area in NOLA.

TAG at Gulf Sails has gone through both storms on the ground in a NOLA neighborhood. He went out on foot, bike and boat taking pictures of areas and specific houses. He helped rescue animals by boat. His story is a vital and frustrating one. Kudos to him. He posted through the dark times using car batteries and salvaged gas from neighbors cars. His shows us what it was to survive and thrive in the middle of the chaos of the storms.

He's getting burned out by now and hoping to head West for a while to clear his head. I hope his audience, who owes him so much, will offer hosting for his trip. I think he should be appreciated for his perseverance.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Remnants of Rita back in the Gulf

Rita joined a cold front that moved East. The Southern end, the part that Hurricane Rita joined, are now circulating in the Gulf. These are being watched closely. There is also a weak depression coming into the Gulf in the Yucatan area. Time will tell.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Hurricane Rita

Yes, it's a major storm, but it's not Katrina. Read really good information at Steve Gregory's Wunderground Blog at

I read that the storm may be Cat 3 but the surge will be Cat 5 due to the way the storm is strengthening so close to the shore, then weakening and turning North.

It will hit New Orleans hard. Pray for the levees to hold. Even so, the pumping system is impaired and the rain water won't be able to be pumped out. Maybe it will wash off some of the muck. At least it will be clean water. The critical factor will be the extent of the surge. It would be awful if the dry areas get flooded due to Rita. Possible, since NPR had the Corps of Eng official saying that they were surveying the levees and found lots of weaknesses in the ones they'd seen, but more worried about the ones they hadn't seen. They have 500 miles of levees. Weakening by scouring action of the water was extensive. Hints that some levees weren't built properly.

Gulf Sails for info on the conditions in NO:

And there are some who will be reporting from inside the area Hurricane Rita hits. If you find them send the link!

Daisy's Kittens

I was warned kittens would suck on each other, now the reality sets in. I've had to separate these two because the stronger is really bothering his brother. Both are doing better. I'm increasing the baby food meat part of their food and hope to have them off the eyedropper by the end of next week. I never could get the bottles to work, but the eyedropper works like a charm. I also think I caught a gut bug; lesson learned. Daisy is excited and wants them as soon as they get big enough. I'll second that!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Hurricane Rita

Whenever there's a Hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico all of us who live there, or have lived there, perk up our ears and go to our favorite tracking websites. Here are mine:

Jeff Masters is my #1 professional; Steve is really close behind! They give you all the FACTS and their professional opinion.

I really like the discussions at both NOAA and Wunderground. They tell you the discrepancies in their models and encourage responsible actions.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Tiny Bits of Protoplasm

DC called me this morning, and asked if she could raise two week old kittens in her exercise shed. I explained that they need feeding frequently and probably wouldn't survive in her shed, since she has to work. So, of course, who is now feeding two tiny bits o' protoplasm. AW was here & pulled out her trusty (if dusty) kitten rescue kit. Neither of us could get the bottles pierced enough to allow the kittens to suck and get milk. We are lucky W-M had kitten formula. I am valiantly keeping my eyes open until 10PM to give them their last feeding, then I'll collapse and start again tomorrow. Eyedroppers and milky kittens are in my immediate future. We figure they're about 3-4 weeks old, so it won't be too long. I offered DC Cecil if she just wanted a mouser, but will happily give these back when I get them weaned to kitten food. Shoot me! Two more cats bring the total to 8 again. Macks is facinated. I feel a headache coming on. Yeah, but they're cute: black with white markings.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Meanwhile, Back on the Farm....

The melons are ripe, and over ripe. I'm going to try making watermelon jelly and maybe jam. The cantaloupe jam turned out great! Everybody loves it: Smooth and sweet with a completely different taste that makes you wonder about what went into it. Cantaloupe wouldn't occur to you, unless you knew.

GT got wonderful grades on her mid terms!! Woweee! 24/7 studying really paid off. She celebrated with an afternoon at the beach. She's still sickly with the croup, though. I'm a great believer in the healing power of a med rare steak: lots of B vitamins.

I clean picked limas & green beans, so will be able to pick fresher beans in a couple of days. Still have tomatoes, & they are smaller, sweeter and dryer than earlier.

Started feeding the bees, too. Thanks to BC for helping me get them reorganized for the winter. I have 24 hives, now, but too many are down to 3 frames, awfully weak. The drought (4 weeks) has shut down the Russian queen's laying. They keep smaller clusters through the winter, but the feed will revitalize them and get the queens laying the longer lived winter bees. No mites!!!! We didn't see mites or any evidence of them. Good genetics. I'm taking a risk, but I'm not treating them for mites this fall. I may be down to very few hives come spring. I'll use powdered sugar on them on one of the warm days in the winter when they're without brood and that will cause the mites on the bees to drop off. It makes them unable to hold onto the bees & makes the bees groom themselves and dislodge the mites.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Update info on N. O.

I stumbled on this excellent Blog that updates conditions in the city:

There's a good deal of back postings on his trip through the storm. Thanks for all those who documented their experiences we will have a good database to work from for planning for future disasters. Scholars will mine this trove of data for centuries.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Headlines We'll See in the Future

New Orleans Rebuilding: Fight of the Century!

Con Men steal Katrina Widow's Mite

Bulldoze it over my dead body!

Evacuees Find Relocation to their Benefit

Dead Zone in Gulf Larger Due to N.O. Water

Dutch Engineers Assist Louisiana's Recovery

Last Evacuees Evicted from Shelter

Katrina: Nature's Urban Renewal

Whole Gulf Coast Evacuates in Path of Hurricane

President Federalizes Guard over Governor's Objections

N.O. Children Get a Better Education After Katrina

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Incorrect info!

Thanks to a comment the post from the WL Loop about the Merritt Island info has been refuted.

Even more important: We now have a new source to use to check information:

Thanks a million to the commenter (though he could have been a tad nicer about it)

The linK:

Friday, September 09, 2005

Just the facts, Ms Katrina.

Doesn't it just brown you off when folks take the facts and force them into a mold to fit their preconceived notions?
Please, just tell us the plain, unvarnished truth in our public media. I know the selection of what to report is biased, but couldn't we try to weed out the folks who are most biased? Reasonability, common sense, and a little less grinding of one's own ax is required of the editors in the newsrooms of the world. Bias belongs on the Editorial Page.

The best sites I have found are [These guys are SUPERMEN] [a friend's brother] [Law student who took time off to help the world] [an annotated Google map]

These are the least biased and the most non-political. Just the facts, Ma'am.

I apologize for posting such long items. Since there's SOOO much on the web now, I will go back to posting only about my little world!!

Thanks to all of you thousands of peekers at this site. I wish you well and hope you live wonderful, rich lives believing the best, and working to alleviate the worst.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Katrina Timeline Info

Try this link for a timeline:

Thanks to one of our kind readers!

And this site for another view:

YES !! I know they're both biased. That's OK. Later it will all get straightened out. We need multiple viewpoints right now.

And this:

Tulane Hospital : A Katrina Story

From the LSU Alumni - Richmond - Online Newsletter
Date: Tue, 06 Sep 2005 07:36:55 -0400
Subject: Tulane Hospital Story - Compelling

This is my dad's story from his experience last week. Thought you might like to read it. Thanks for your concern & prayers. M.

I thought it might be easier to compose an email to all of you at once that tells some of the story of the past few days. First and foremost
I felt your prayers and heard your concerns that were registered with
Donna and others and they comforted me and kept me calm which was essential in this time.

In this crisis the images were moving so fast that I think it'll take awhile to put it together but here's an attempt to do so.

This storm as of noon Friday the 25th didn't seem like it would be much of an event, but by 5pm things began to look different. We met as a group on Saturday to begin our routine preparations for a hurricane, I went home to put things together there. I started to think what do I absolutely not want to lose in case the house would be swept away and the answer only revealed the photos of the family thru the years so that and few clothes was all I took.

The Storm: God's Natural World has an awesome power. From the small observation windows [in the Hospital] from our tallest floors, we observed awnings
being blown off, a blinding rain and a general sense if God's ever angry we're going to lose big. Our first inspections revealed little damage. A few broken windows and some roof damage but the building held up well. In fact, if you were in the inner core of the facility you only vaguely heard it.
We even walked around late in the afternoon since there was only limited flooding no worse than a heavy thunderstorm. Overconfident, we even stated we had
absorbed the best punch that nature could throw and we seemed intact.

At 1:30 am on Tuesday morning began the biggest crisis and challenge of my life and in the life of Tulane and no doubt New Orleans. I was awakened by my COO who told me the water in the boiler room was rising a foot an hour since midnight and if it continued at that rate at best we had only another two to three hours before we would lose all power since we already were on emergency power since early Monday morning. We had only 7 ventilator patients whose lives would be in jeopardy, and we had to move fast
to get them out. We had no boat and no helicopter pad. Houston we have a problem.
I called Acadian Ambulance (who I know well) but had no business connection to our hospital and asked their immediate help. We have a parking deck connected to the hospital that we had evaluated as sturdy enough to support helicopter flight, but it had four light poles in the
middle. I want to tell you what happened in the next four hours was nothing short of a miracle. Our maintenance group got the light poles down; Acadian agreed to pick our patients up, we made arrangements with our other HCA
hospitals to take them. Our staff and physicians got their
patients ready,and most importantly, the water rise began to slow to an inch/hr and a little after the sun came up copters were on the roof and patients began to be transported.

Early on Tuesday morning we met with our key managers who were at the hospital. We prayed for support and comfort and guidance for what we knew was going to be a difficult period. We talked about what we knew,
and what
we didn't know which was considerable because we had no contact from FEMA or the Mayor's office. We had no idea why the water was rising and from what limited facts we had, no one did. We had to assume that it would keep rising and we would lose power and then we would have no power at all. Thus, no light, no ac, suction, oxygen, elevators, phones ie. everything that is precious to good care. We had to get out so we hatched a plan and I tried to stay out of the way and let our physicians and nurses triage patients; others determined what vital supplies we needed replenishing; HCA was working frantically to coordinate a transportation effort to pick up patients and eventually, our staff. How many people? Good question. At least 1200 which included a total of 160 patients, employees and physicians and their families and 76 dogs and cats that I didn't know about at the time.

Tuesday: The looting began. We witnessed people, dozens of them, wading in front of the hospital with bag after bag of stuff from different stores in the vicinity. Bandits took over two hotels adjacent to us and forced out many of our employees families who had been housed there forcing them back to the hospital creating further complications. That night our people on the roof evacuating patients heard gunshots in the air but they continued their work. The lawlessness and insurrection certainly was a distraction but our Tulane Police were great, and they are very capable.

Late in the day we ran out of fuel so our generators shut down and the building began to get hot. The last of the ventilator patients had to go up six stories by way of pickup trucks since the elevators shut down and our ambulance was too tall to squeeze to the top. During the day, I had a conversation with a patient's father who told me that the parking deck pad would hold big helicopters. How did he know? Because he was a Blackhawk pilot. Ok. Then there appeared out of nowhere this guy, John Holland, who was sent in by HCA to be our Flight Coordinator - whatever that is. "The man" had arrived who would communicate with the birds in the air and boy is that important because our patients had begun to fly away.

Wednesday: If you would like to know if we slept. Here's a little experiment. Try heating the bedroom up to about 90-95 degrees. First, you're hot and then you sweat and get cold and then the cycle repeats. Daybreak and I tell you patients are being moved into a queue to move. I saw our staff, residents, and faculty move sick patients with a grace and dignity that was most impressive. This was our third day and the stress on our people began to show. Everyone was asking when, where, & how were we going to get out. The city sewer system was obviously backing up and spilling out and creating an acrid smell that over the next few days made it almost impossible to breath. With no water pressure you can't bathe. But here's a general observation: if everyone smells the same you really don't notice it, you just feel unclean. On this day, the La. Wildlife and Fisheries Department showed up to help us move some patients that we had inherited from the Superdome on Sunday night. Yes, over 60 extra medically
needy people with chronic conditions. So by boat we sent them and their loved ones away. I met a woman whose most valuable possession was her pillow and her radio that I personally promised her to protect. It's in my office now.

The Big Birds began to fly. Blackhawk's down. Instead of one or two patients they could move up to four with some additional staff. Beautiful sight but there was more to come. By the end of the day we had moved all but about twenty patients including two who weighed more than 400
lbs and one artificial heart assist-device patient, which was the challenge of the week since the device itself weighted more than 500 lbs. So imagine hauling this weight three to four floors down a dark stairwell at 90 plus degrees. It was a young man's job and it was done. Let me tell you that the coordination from the patient's room to the staging area to the helipad into the helicopter was a work of art composed by many painters. It truly was a thing of beauty and it touched everyone who was there.

By the end of day, HCA had constructed an extraction plan for the remaining staff. Helicopter to the airport, buses to pick up and take to Lafayette.
Sounds good but there were lots of needs and who knows what the government may decide to do.

Thursday: Line up and get ready. Have a little breakfast. We basically were living on Strawberry poptarts, honey oat bars and for dinner a little
protein, tuna fish. Fortunately, I like all of them but I'm sure I lost ten lbs. or so. Anyway, the line was formed and I personally counted. 700 hundred people. Our staff, physicians, their children and spouses, and just to top it off 76 dogs and cats. Holy God. How are we going to deal with that? So we relegated them immediately to second-class citizenship to another line and pray we don't have to put the pets to sleep if no one will haul them.

At first there were just a few small copters and we had some patients to move and it was slow. Moving through the line people were calm with a few exceptions but overall they managed their plight well. Then a situation developed. A frantic Medical Director of Critical Care showed up by boat from Charity. Major problem. Charity was in a meltdown. He had 21 critical care patients many being hand ventilated for two days and he couldn't get any help from the state. You may have heard this story reported by CNN. Their version and ours differs but raise your hand if you think the media gets it right all the time. Can you help me he asked? This was a tough question but it had only one answer. We would give them access to the small aircraft, which wasn't going to help us move our staff anyway.
So that process began much to the chagrin of our non-professional staff and family. They just didn't understand it. Our nurses and doctors did but it increased the crowd's intensity. Midday and it was moving slow.
It didn't look good. Then from 3 to 5 things happened.

A Chinook helicopter is big. Two rotors and it carries about 50-60 people. It moves with a slow deliberate confidence that is hard to describe. But one showed up. We had questioned about could it land so we asked "the man, John" and he said yes but nothing else could be on the pad when it did due to the turbulence. I want to tell you as it approached cheers broke out from below and people thought they had a chance. So for a few hours we made progress and then it stopped. No more big birds, big problem.

What happened? Don't know. I called my daughter Megan where Donna was staying and she seemed elated. "You're back". "What?" I asked. She tells me Gov. Blanco had just announced that Tulane had totally been evacuated.
According to my account she was about 400 people short in her analysis. But we now had a new problem. They think we're not here. Better let someone know. I called the La. Nat'l Guard. Guess who answered, Brad Smith, the patient's father I spoke of earlier. He had gotten a ride back with some of the Wildlife boys and was now flying sorties into New Orleans. He quickly got a hold of the Office Of Emergency Preparedness and let them know we still needed help. So maybe Friday we'd get out. People were remarkably calm when we told them they'd be there another day. The just sat down and began to prepare to go to bed.

We left the hospital and remained in the parking deck. One it was cooler, two, there would be less confusion in the morning and three it was safer since there was less territory for our Tulane Police to patrol. I know the media has played up the anarchy, and no doubt there was some concern, but I always thought we were safe.

So imagine trying to fall asleep on your concrete driveway without a pad or pillow. It's kind of tough. Then throw in an unexpected helicopter landing at 1 am. The wind is a little dicey. The bird dropped off 50% of the Marines in New Orleans. One guy who need to go to Charity so we had to take him over. Next event for the evening: at 4 am we were treated to a massive explosion at a warehouse on the river several miles away. I happened to be looking directly at it at the time. It must have reached a 1000 ft in the air. Then by the end of the evening we began actually to get cold. But it finally ended.

Friday: The end is pretty anti-climatic. At 8 o'clock unexpected Chinooks began showing up taking 60 people at a time. I wonder if our pilot friend in the Guard had anything to do we it but I haven't asked him yet.
So in a matter of 2 1/2 hrs. everyone was gone but our Police and the last remnants of management. So after attempts to arrange a coordination with Charity to use the helipad, we left for home sweet home.

Obviously, this is only phase one of a complicated recovery for New Orleans. Each of you no doubt is praying for this recovery. So many people have lost so much and it reaches far beyond New Orleans.

I talked to the Chairman of the Board of HCA yesterday upon returning and told him it was the worse and most difficult challenge I have ever been personally involved with but at the same time I don't think I've ever felt as great a sense of accomplishment from anything I've been
involved with.
Our staff performed like clockwork and it was a beautiful thing to observe.
Our success in this week is simply measured by the fact that we didn't lose a patient during this trying time.


P.S. This event is just below a nuclear catastrophe in its degree of magnitude, and it's clear we're not ready and if we don't do better the next time a really hard rain's a-gonna fall.

Katrina Timeline Info

Grim Mission in New Orleans
Aired September 5, 2005 - 07:00 ET
S. O'BRIEN: There are people who say your evacuation plan, obviously in hindsight, was disastrous.
S. O'BRIEN: Your evacuation plan before -- when you put people into the Superdome. It wasn't thought out. You got 20,000 people in there. And that you bear the brunt of the blame for some of this, a large chunk of it.
NAGIN: Look, I'll take whatever responsibility that I have to take. But let me ask you this question: When you have a city of 500,000 people, and you have a category 5 storm bearing down on you, and you have the best you've ever done is evacuate 60 percent of the people out of the city, and you have never issued a mandatory evacuation in the city's history, a city that is a couple of hundred years old, I did that. I elevated the level of distress to the citizens.
And I don't know what else I could do, other than to tell them that it's a mandatory evacuation. And if they stayed, make sure you have a frigging ax in your home, where you can bust out the roof just in case the water starts flowing.
And as a last resort, once this thing is above a category 3, there are no buildings in this city to withstand a category 3, a category 4 or a category 5 storm, other than the Superdome. That's where we sent people as a shelter of last resort. When that filled up, we sent them to the Convention Center. Now, you tell me what else we could have done.
S. O'BRIEN: What has Secretary Chertoff promised you? What has Donald Rumsfeld given you and promised you?
NAGIN: Look, I've gotten promises to -- I can't stand anymore promises. I don't want to hear anymore promises. I want to see stuff done. And that's why I'm so happy that the president came down here, because I think they were feeding him a line of bull also. And they were telling him things weren't as bad as it was.
He came down and saw it, and he put a general on the field. His name is General Honore. And when he hit the field, we started to see action.
And what the state was doing, I don't frigging know. But I tell you, I am pissed. It wasn't adequate.
And then, the president and the governor sat down. We were in Air Force One. I said, 'Mr. President, Madam Governor, you two have to get in sync. If you don't get in sync, more people are going to die.'
S. O'BRIEN: What date was this? When did you say that? When did you say...
NAGIN: Whenever air Force One was here.
NAGIN: And this was after I called him on the telephone two days earlier. And I said, 'Mr. President, Madam Governor, you two need to get together on the same page, because of the lack of coordination, people are dying in my city.'
S. O'BRIEN: That's two days ago.
NAGIN: They both shook -- I don't know the exact date. They both shook their head and said yes. I said, 'Great.' I said, 'Everybody in this room is getting ready to leave.' There was senators and his cabinet people, you name it, they were there. Generals. I said, 'Everybody right now, we're leaving. These two people need to sit in a room together and make a doggone decision right now.'
S. O'BRIEN: And was that done?
NAGIN: The president looked at me. I think he was a little surprised. He said, "No, you guys stay here. We're going to another section of the plane, and we're going to make a decision."
He called me in that office after that. And he said, "Mr. Mayor, I offered two options to the governor." I said -- and I don't remember exactly what. There were two options. I was ready to move today. The governor said she needed 24 hours to make a decision.
S. O'BRIEN: You're telling me the president told you the governor said she needed 24 hours to make a decision?
S. O'BRIEN: Regarding what? Bringing troops in?
NAGIN: Whatever they had discussed. As far as what the -- I was abdicating a clear chain of command, so that we could get resources flowing in the right places.
S. O'BRIEN: And the governor said no.
NAGIN: She said that she needed 24 hours to make a decision. It would have been great if we could of left Air Force One, walked outside, and told the world that we had this all worked out. It didn't happen, and more people died.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Wall Street Journal Katrina Info

Blame Amid the Tragedy

September 6, 2005; Page A28

As the devastation of Hurricane Katrina continues to shock and sadden the nation, the question on many lips is, Who is to blame for the inadequate response?

As a former state legislator who represented the legislative district most impacted by the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980, I can fully understand and empathize with the people and public officials over the loss of life and property.

Many in the media are turning their eyes toward the federal government, rather than considering the culpability of city and state officials. I am fully aware of the challenges of having a quick and responsive emergency response to a major disaster. And there is definitely a time for accountability; but what isn't fair is to dump on the federal officials and avoid those most responsible -- local and state officials who failed to do their job as the first responders. The plain fact is, lives were needlessly lost in New Orleans due to the failure of Louisiana's governor, Kathleen Blanco, and the city's mayor, Ray Nagin.

The primary responsibility for dealing with emergencies does not belong to the federal government. It belongs to local and state officials who are charged by law with the management of the crucial first response to disasters. First response should be carried out by local and state emergency personnel under the supervision of the state governor and his/her emergency operations center.

See the Wall Street Journal Online for the rest of the article


The article below doesn't begin to do justice to LTG Russ Honore, who is commanding JTF-Katrina. I am hoping some other reporters can do better.

The real story might be the fact this guy ever made it to three stars. Some might recall that a few years back, when he was an Assistant Division Commander in the 1st Cavalry Division, he made a speech at some sort of gathering --AUSA ?-- that was outspokenly critical of Army policy with respect to maintenance and supply. Copies of his speech made the rounds back when email was still new, and many thought the Army would show Russ Honore the door.

That it did not is perhaps a story to the Army's credit -- the type of story we all complain seldom gets told.

Gen. Ragin' Cajun
By Andy Geller
New York Post
September 3, 2005
The three-star Army general tapped to lead the National Guard's recovery operations along the battered Gulf Coast is a cigar-chomping "John Wayne-type dude" with a Cajun accent.

Lt. Gen. Russel Honore was commander of the 1st U.S. Army in Fort Gillem, Ga., when he was named to head the newly created Joint Task Force Katrina, based at Camp Shelby in Mississippi.

In flood-ravaged New Orleans yesterday, he hit the ground running. Mayor Ray Nagin, who has been very critical of the actions of President Bush and the feds, singled out Honore for praise.

"Now, I will tell you this and I give the president some credit on this he sent one John Wayne dude down here that can get some stuff done, and his name is General Honore," Nagin said.

"He came off the doggone chopper and he started cussing and people started moving. And he's getting some stuff done."
One of Honore's hobbies is throwing tomahawks. The other is collecting military medals and decorations. He's earned more than two dozen, including the Bronze Star and a Distinguished Service Medal.

See the New York Post Article for more

Monday, September 05, 2005

Katrina Disaster Blame

Once folks see the event's timeline and focus on the communication problem they will, hopefully, stop pointing fingers. Each person in the situation was acting on the information in front of him and assuming that others had full knowledge, which they didn't.

In Sept 04, after Ivan tested the N.O. Evacuation Plan and disaster response the local authorities were supposed to correct the plans. Unfortunately, they forgot. Food, water, security all were supposed to be planned for, but weren't. Wait to place blame until you see the actual timeline of Who Knew What & When. Bet you it'll be that local officials ASS-U-ME-d that someone else was doing "That".

Remember the airliner that crashed into the ground while the whole crew tried to change a lightbulb. They all assumed that the auto-pilot was doing it's job. They all died, along with hundreds of innocents. The black box recorded the crew's argument, all the way to the ground.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Controlling Basic Human Nature

When you are in charge of a crowd you need to organize them into 'natural groups (families, neighbors, etc), give them responsibilities (caring for weaker ones, keeping the area clean, running messages, etc). and show them how to make their lives as much better as circumstances allow. Partitioning into areas, giving names to the areas, asking them to elect or appoint leaders, are all ways to keep large groups busy. If you have a hierarchy/chain of command you will automatically have order and communication. The families/neighborhood groups will know the natural leaders and feel more secure in their dilemma. I hope we will find that this was done. Eventually this organization will occur anyway, but the leadership may fall to the rowdiest, most vocal and not to the most level headed.

The Events in Katrina's Wake

will change drastically the ways we respond to emergencies... I hope.

Yes, we learn with every mistake. I hear from the WL Loop that even now the 'Forward Thinkers' in our government are making notes to rewrite plans. I pray those plans are not put into a cabinet and lost. As we can see today, some plans, thought to be very good, have gone wrong.

Friday, September 02, 2005

3 Sep 05 Katrina Info

This from a WL Looper:

Jefferson Parish Emergency Ops Center Director says that 17th St canal breach is now "under control." In same brief pointed out that local emergency response plans assumed that Federal support would be on scene in 48H.

From aerial images, water levels continue to drop - NO East bus farm two days ago water was up to bus roofs and now up to windows.

Explosion on west bank was not a result of illegal activities. Local authorities reporting occurred at abandoned warehouse, not chemical plant (as AP reported). Initial hazmat team reports are positive.

Separate local report that Chalmette refinery, the largest location to process Venezuelan crude, is largely intact. Another lg fire burning downtown.

US Chamber of Commerce reports over $100M corporate pledges made to date.

Heartfelt mea culpa from New Orleans media in defense of Federal government - we all new it would be bad (poor city, poor public transport infrastructure, laissez les bon temps roulez approach to life, etc.), but no one thought it would be this bad.

Kenner (in Jefferson Parish, western NO suburbs and location of main airport) is safe and being used as staging area for rescue operations. Still planning on letting residents return next week to visit homes, salvage personal belongings, then leave. Anticipate at least a month before able to move back into homes, at best.

Washington Parish (where Bogalusa is located) President Taylor drove to Baton Rouge to emphasize need for help for north shore areas. Reports that 50% of homes uninhabitable, confirms no water, food, power. St. Tammany Parish President yesterday requesting medical supplies to care for the refugees. Tangipahoa President requesting assistance - power, water; power returning, but had to evac Hood Memorial Hospital in Amite due to lack of fuel for generators. If return of power continues, should be able to begin flushing water system Friday. Livingston Parish President requesting food, water, security assistance; pulled back their two SWAT teams which were providing security for LSU SAR Team, so SAR team pulled out (reported people attacking boats).

FEMA director said last night that he did not know about refugees at Convention Center, so had not been coord'ing help to them.
Ascension Parish President request law enforcement assistance; overwhelmed w/refugees.

St Charles Parish requesting generators for hospitals to care for refugees. Have New Orleanians who walked 40 miles and need help.

Shelters in Baton Rouge are full. Refugees are being diverted further north. Astrodome is full (cap 20K+), and overflowing to other facilities in Houston and Dallas. At one point when all facilities were full last night and message went out over radio for assistance, 500 Houstonians showed up to take people to their homes.

Medical reports indicate that dehydration is common among refugees.

7.6K prisoners evacuated from NO prisons to other prisons. Setting up a tent prison in Orleans parish and NOT planning on moving looters, etc. out of the area until all others evac'd

Farm report from Minneapolis:
50% of US grain exports go through NO. Two week window to determine if river and port re-open, then will need to begin diverting to other locations. Prices are already low already due to bumper crop this year; combined with rising transport costs may make it uneconomical to plant next spring. Comprehensive survey of railroads highlights that if they can find rolling stock to move the crops, they have alternate routes they can use, but note that other ports are at capacity.

Unemployment stats for July just released and shows lowest unemployment rate since Aug 2001. 169K jobs added in July.

From Reuters this AM:
Sept 2 (Reuters) - Hurricane Katrina has devastated New Orleans and other parts of the U.S. Gulf Coast, killing hundreds of people and possibly thousands, and drawing pledges of support from all over the world.

The State Department said offers had come from Australia, Belgium, Britain, Canada, China, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, France, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Russia, South Korea, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, NATO and the Organization of American States.

The United Nations has offered to help coordinate international relief. Following is a detailed list of aid offered by governments.

At Home

Finally got the corn cut off the cob and frozen, and now have figs, BB Jelly and Tomatoes in the jars. Seems like so little when it's in the jar, but it was a couple bushels of corn and at least a bushel of tomatoes. I listened to the TV while I canned.

Have to get into the bees soon. Mowing around them today to make moving around easier. Wonder what shape they're in.

Sam is putting all his lectures into a book format this semester for publication. It's a little more work, but should have been done a while ago. This is his heavy semester: 2+ classes. He loves the boys, but his energy is limited.

GT said the news from her friends in the Gulfport area is distressing and hopeful: Their houses are standing, but gutted or seriously damaged.

Lawlessness in the Big Easy

Susi - I thought you would find this interesting. This is from an email we just got from one of the single mothers who adopted in Kazakhstan and now lives in LA.

"Luckily, the hurricane did not seriously affect Baton Rouge. All of my family is fine. It's a terrible situation, though, because so many people have family and friends in New Orleans. One of my good friends last heard from his father and brother on Monday when they were in their attic as the water was rising in their house. The latest problem here in Baton Rouge is violence from the refugees. We just heard that the city government buildings, which are next door to the Centroplex where refugees are housed, were closed because of violence at the Centroplex. We're not far away and were told that we couldn't leave the building. The SWAT team was sent in and supposedly the situation is under control. The situation in New Orleans is far worse. People are shooting at rescue helicopters, ambulances, and boats. It's like a war zone. Bush needs to send in the military. In my view, the response from the federal government has been woefully inadequate. The FBI actually turned down a request from State Police to help provide security for the rescue operation because the situation is too dangerous!!! This is just unbelievable."
Sounds like they need help down there! Good luck with all of your gardening! Love, AS

and from other reports:

There are reports of a police station outside NO under attack; that the cops defending themselves inside have put out a sign that says "Fort Apache." Gov. Blanco has issued shoot to kill orders. Plaquemines Parish Sheriff has deputized 50 survivors to guard the border w/Jefferson Parish (where part of NO is located) with instructions to shoot to kill anyone armed trying to enter Plaquemines to prevent spread of looting/lawlessness

Thursday, September 01, 2005


There are those who are morally bereft. Upbringing, emotional shortcomings, personalities, etc. are some of the causes. Asking governments or schools to mitigate the causes, or restructure the society that engenders them is like swatting flies with a wreaking ball. Communism, and to an extent Democratic Socialism, has tried: No good results.

Unfortunately, the "Big Easy" has attracted this kind of people, and we are seeing them acting like the uncivilized animals they are. Less visible are the damages they cause daily, by preying on more civil people and the weak.

We are seeing only the surface damage when we see looters: worse damage is deeper in the fabric of society, and it is a worldwide problem - A Human Problem. It is the way people act who have not been socialized by their parents and community to behave in "proper" Human ways

Another day, another chance

To do the right thing!

Sam has class tonight, so I'll go to bed early... I hope.
The figs need picking - asap!
The corn needs picking - asap
Beans, both Limas and Snap, need picking
Tomatoes, ditto!
Eggplant, ditto!
Fall/Winter garden needs preparation and planting - NOW!!!

And I am watching and praying for New Orleans. But I'd better do it in the garden.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005


There but for the grace of God...
Last night was surely a long one for the folks in the disaster area. The nation is pulling together it's resources and coming to their aid, but it must seem slow to those sitting hungry in the dark heat, surrounded by fouled water.
It is hard to see that in months this devastated area will start rebuilding and will end up, in a year's time, renewed.
Hard to see that the people who have nothing now will disperse into this rich land, find other areas to live in and be surprised to find themselves better off than they were back in New Orleans. This is what tragic diasporas do: like seeds blown on the wind, some will find deep ground, better than they had before. Some will not.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Thanks to all who donate Blood and Platelets

Having been a blood donor since 18, I appreciate the inconvenience and sometimes discomfort of donating. Watching Sam walk steadily last night for the first time in a very long time I appreciate the wonders blood products can cause. This is one of their minor miracles. He ran a 100 degree temp and for a while his blood pressure soared, but he gritted his teeth and sat the infusion out, in great discomfort. His IV line was burning badly, so he asked them to do a new one this AM. He is so hopeful now that he has started walking better.
Macks and I found out that there is a doggy daycare in C-ville, behind Bodo's Bagels, and off US 29. For $22 they will let him play from 7AM to 5:30 PM. That might be useful if Sam has to be hospitalized again.
Honey Bear, the neighbor's female who seems to stay here more than there is in full heat now and Macks is frantic. A part-lab is hanging out in the yard, waiting for her to be ready. I have her on the downstairs porch with food and water to keep her from being bred. It is more dangerous to spay her if she's carrying puppies.
Back to C'ville, and to see who's at the dog play lot...

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Trip to CharlottesVille

We went over to C-Ville to get Sam an IVIg treatment for his peripheral neuropathy. Apparently his version is an autoimmune problem. This treatment is designed to get his immune system to stop destroying his myelin sheath, the insulation on his nerves. It usually tires him; more with each treatment.

Macks went with us and he and I found an off-leash dog play area. I look forward to going there tomorrow and watching him gambol with the other dogs.

I have been looking for a good explanation of the blood lipids (fats) for my sister, CH. I recommend the June 28, 2005 Jane Brody article in the (Archives: Know Your Numbers and Improve Your Odds). It's the best short explanation I've seen.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Dark Side of the Diplomat's Life

From an e-mail to a friend, passed along to us:

I think enough has been said on the subject of diplomats' lives abroad, but I also think some people have skewed ideas about "diplomacy" in today's world, and assume it's all big embassies in capital cities. Not nearly! So here goes:

This State Dept representative is assigned to a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan. I share a dusty tent with three other guys (including a very capable L-- diplomat), and we can't keep it clean because of the incessant dust storms that send 95mph whirlwinds through the area every day. The wind last week was much stronger, and the tent next to mine simply disappeared. The sink spigots and showers are outside, near the outdoor toilets - all about a block and a half from where I sleep. We get one hot meal a day. My feet are cracked open from wearing heavy boots and never having a flat surface to walk on (the camp is covered with loose stones to keep the lunar quality dust at a livable level, and there is no asphalt road or flat sidewalk that I know of anywhere in this area), and the temperature extremes have removed - painfully - a thick layer of skin from my face and head. My clothes are always dirty because of the dust, and because we have to wash our clothing in mesh bags that can't be opened during the washing. But this is the pleasant season, because roads to Ch-- become inaccessible most of the winter, and the temperatures in this mountainous area hover way below zero. And yeah, my colleagues and I will be staying through it all.

I meet with Afghans of all kinds all day long, and I conduct my meetings in Dari. Yes, I speak it, along with a couple of other regional languages. (But I am also giving an English class every night to our local interpreters, so that they can communicate with the soldiers better.) My colleagues and I walk on the streets, go shopping, visit the local villages, listen to what the Afghans are saying and laugh and joke with them, and in general cooperate with our Afghan friends here on a range of assistance projects involving the local schools, bridges across the town river, construction of better facilities for the town hospital and general security for the upcoming elections so that the voters in this Province can cast their ballots freely and safely. In between these activities, I try to write reports that will help the State Dept and NATO recipients understand this area better. And late in the evening, I finally get to my email (we have a generator here), where I sometimes enjoy the luxury of accessing Gulf List to remind me that there is a wider world.

The funny thing is, there are lots of diplomats like me in places like this in Afghanistan. Americans and Europeans and many others who have left their cuff links and silk ties and dark suits back home. We tend to show up for meetings with back packs and wearing jeans. And funnier still, we think we have the best of worlds here. I know I wouldn't trade my tent for the biggest Ambassadorial residence in London, Paris or Rome. If any of the recent critics of the State Dept and other countries' foreign services care to make the 3 day overland trip here (via a very bad dirt road from Herat) I would be happy to introduce them to this version of the diplomatic life.

The Lost is Found: A Peripatetic Bag

Fedex says that the wayward bag from Grenada was mis-sorted and landed in Miami. It's being sent to DC, where I will have to go to get it. Better to drive six hours to pick it up than confuse the FedEx folks by changing the address for delivery. AS is on her abbreviated honeymoon and GT started Pathology classes this morning. I put a note on Instant Messaging so she'll know asap.
It's raining and drizzling so I can only dash out for short forays, but I picked the greenbeans since the wetness seems to enable them to be seen. I also found that the long sleeves of the rain jacket help protect me from the fiery itch they cause. I thought we'd picked the tomatoes clean, leaving only green ones. They must have ripened overnight!
Today is going to be a bookkeeping day. Since I have everything on auto payment I only have to do this about once every three or four months, and this is a good time.
Also, since I'll be gone most of the days this week I will spend Saturday making Blackberry Jelly to box up with the rest of the canned goods to take to DC when I go pick up the wandering Bag!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Back to the Wonders of the Real World

It was a lovely interlude, and a lovely wedding of two classy people. My brother was a generous host, and my sister stayed with us so we got the maximum out of our short time in Pensacola. GT worked hard at her role as the Maid of Honor to AB (now AS). We stayed at the Hilton Garden In on Pensacola Beach. It is very family and child friendly with shallow pools with fountains for the kids to run in amongst. P&B's two girls, 5 & 8, were adorable flower girls, taking the role very seriously. They impressed us all with their excellent behavior. In sum, it was as picture perfect a visit as it could have been. We all caught up on each other's lives and laughed alot at our various soap operas!
I returned in good shape, found tall weeds in the garden, but help coming to tackle it, in the form of BG's daughter and sister.
GT is back in Grenada, facing a term of Pathology, where they learn the symptoms of most diseases. I wish there were two terms of that, but surprisingly there's only one: Very Intensive !!
Sam and Macks are glad I'm home, too.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Off like a Herd of Turtles

Headed to the SD Box and then to the plane. Miss home already.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

A Happening Place!

GT is in Texas, but her luggage from Grenada is still in La-La land in the FedEx system. They want itemized lists with actual values,,, but will only reimburse $100. Go Figure!!! Bureaucratic rubbish!
The tomatoes are ripening, and we gave away a bushel of them and a bushel of cucumbers and other Veggies to the local Food Pantry. It's the constant picking that keeps me going.
The B'hse got rented. A retired single man was happy to pay the price to occupy it until he can find acreage for his retirement home. Next time I'll raise the price!
Macks is settling back into the routine. Sam is much more relaxed with him home, and now wants a breeding female! Another German Shepherd to take up floor space! I'm happy with a house full of dogs, but I worry that Sam might not like it as well as I do. He talks of building a dog pen. I'm OK with that - if it's only used when we're gone, but not as a normal thing. I'm researching tracking collars!
The weather has turned cool and drizzly. The bees don't like to have their hives opened on overcast, and especially on drizzly days. It makes them bad tempered. I'll wait for sunshine! I have to start joining up hives so that they can organize and build up for the winter.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Prodigal Dog: Macks

Macks is Back!!!! A lady called from Curdsville area, where he'd been spotted and said she was holding him for us. One look and I knew. He was glad to see us. He'd be fairly well cared for, and been tied up since Sunday by another woman who'd then given him to a friend. The woman we got him from saw him on US 15, knew he'd escaped from the man and took him home. No names given, since it's a small town. Sam is paranoid he'll run off again. I'm resigned to it.
You can't keep a wandering dog home, unless you're willing to tie or pen him. I won't do either. So we're ordering a tracking collar.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Hot Smot!!! Killer Bees are softies!

I girded my loins, ankles, & wrists with duct tape, double dressed and, taking a big smoker, went into that "Hot" hive this morning at about 8AM. They'd had a change of attitude! Maybe they were sleepy? Who knows? I reorganized the hive to suit myself: put the queen down on drawn empty comb, separated by a super of undrawn foundation from the brood in shallow combs, that I've been trying to empty, with a queen excluder to assure that the queen stays down while the brood hatches up above. Thank goodness for marked queens, since I'd never have found her without the marking. So I went into a few more hives, and then came inside due to the heat building up under all the clothes and duct tape. Shoot, I thought I'd have bee covered gloves like I did last time I opened those girls. Situationally bad bees.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Sweatin' with the Bees!

Went into the bees, until 10 AM when I had to go show the B'house to a potential tenant. Just before Sam called me to go, I hit a really HOT, angry hive. I walked off into the trees - they followed... So I left the hive open. I didn't get back until 2PM, too late into this super hot day to go out in full regalia and close them up. I've napped and cooled down. It's 5PM and I'll go out and close them up, clean up my mess and come in for a shower. Beekeeping is a good way to be sure your sweat glands work properly!
If I can, I'll get up at 5AM and go back into the bees for a couple hours early in the AM before I go to DC.

Away I'll Go...

Leaving home is very hard. Living here is such a comfortable routine. Away, I'll have to readjust myself or my environment. Probably good for me, since I'll appreciate home more when I return.
The list of preparations is long: Clean the Van; Straighten the house and wash all the clothes, kitchen, baths; stock up on the necessities; Arrange for someone to pick the garden and distribute the vegs, and someone to water it.
In FWB I need to attend to the water problems in the big house, find out why the guys haven't put siding on two rental houses and get the MH lots into order for renting out, since I've finally made a decision to do that and not to sell them. I got a fair offer, but turned it down since I'd only Net 3/4 of it and couldn't find an investment that would bring in the same income. At least it flushed the covey. CH is coming home in Sept and will work to get the lots in shape to rent. I need to see WH and CI to find out if they've done anything about the estimates of costs to develop the property. I also need to start the bidding process on the adjoining strip of land. Lots of work and too little money.
I'll be in FWB for about two weeks, so I'll have time to relax a bit, too; maybe I'll read the new HP book. Difficult for me to relax away from home.
Sam is sanguine with my absence. Two weeks is enough so that he'll get used to doing for himself. BG will come twice a week and his buddy EFL will check on him. Without Macks here (he hasn't come home) there is less chance of a fall. Macks absence also means Sam can leave the house without worrying about him. We still miss him, though.
We're having to put our oldest dog, Pat, to sleep today. CC came and dug a deep hole with the new tractor and front end loader. Jim will come over and give him the anesthesia as gently as possible. I wish they'd let people make they're own deaths as easy. Poor Pat has suffered for the past weeks, with no hope of better days. I'll still sob, though I know we're doing a kindness. Sam is heartbroken, with no Macks to console him.
Susan, our disabled daughter, will be very happy while I'm gone, because she'll play Queen of the House, without the limits I enforce. We'll see how she does. I might be pleasantly surprised.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Counting Down to Florida

I'm leaving Saturday to pick up my daughter, GT, at Dulles and we go to FWB, FL on Monday. Two weeks gone,,, OH, NO!!
The To-Do list is huge! Garden, Bees, House, Groceries, BB JELLY!!! I'm going out and spend this 102 Heat Index day picking berries. The ones in the sun have dried up, so I'll go into the brambles in the woods. I wear as little as possible, because skin is easier to shed the thorns from than cloth! I'll be full of tiny thorns, and all scratched up, also covered with Poison Ivy. The Tecnu poison Ivy wash will eliminate that, so I wade into it happily, now. Hope for a bucket full! I'll rinse the bugs out and put them into the freezer for when I get back and can make jelly. Early morning in the woods.... Bliss!!
Tomorrow morning is Bee Business. Assess the Hives, put on supers, join up weak to strong. I'll try to do it in the Wee Hours at barely daybreak. It's even too hot in the evening.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Mission: Blackberry Jelly

My brother has run out of blackberry jelly. A real crisis. He's stopped asking, begging and crying for me to make some: He Demands it, nay, Orders me to make it! Really!
OK, I really want to make some blackberry jelly. But things keep getting in the way. Such as work on the garden, social obligations, etc.
I have finally picked some, and I'll persevere, and he, sweet, patient brother, will have his blackberry jelly! It's a necessity.

Proud Women Warriors

A friend asked his granddaughter, who now runs Humint Teams in Baghdad, how female soldiers were doing, given the recent spate of female casualties and renewed press speculation on the merits of assigning women to combat units. Here is her response:
"My females and males have the exact same jobs and responsibilities. We are all Gunners, TCs, Drivers, Collectors, whatever the mission dictates. We wear sterilized uniforms and no one is special in our missions. Everyone pulls security and everyone is as capable as the next person regardless of gender. Having females allows us to get closer to the truth in some cases, especially with other females in this Iraqi society.
Anyone here is at risk from mortars, rockets, SAF on the FOBs and lately the rash of EFPs everywhere, even places that used to be "safe." All of this and I am still statistically more likely as a female to die in a car accident at Bragg or just outright die in the DC area by about 7% higher chance. At least I have a job I love and I can make things happen. It is really, truly amazing what my teams have done for intel in this area. Of course I can't say more than that. I love you guys and the care packages are great thank you. We are on a "no mail" streak again. Love, V.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

See The Queen?

Hot Time in the Country!

We had a nice, if VERY HOT, lunch in the garden with our guests. Lots of iced tea, food and fresh hot rolls to put honey on. Sam told stories, and the guys who'd trekked from DC listened raptly. Each got some 1-1 time with Sam on rambles in the gator around the farm and a Sayler's Creek tour. One is a publisher, one is a preacher, and our favorite guy is doing Intel in the puzzle-palace.
JFL brought her 3 year old G-daughter. We all rested our eyes on her. She's like an animated doll, exquisitely beautiful, but alive.
Everybody learned how to stay cool in the heat, and I regretted having the lunch out there, but we all managed. The fans and cool cloths around our necks and shoulders eased us. A bonding experience, unique in these days of A/C. When I judged the heat was at it's peak I asked the group to move to the basement living room, no A/C, but cool enough. I think they had a good time, all in all.

Friday, July 15, 2005

All the World is Local

Yesterday was a beautiful day, except for the humidity. Overcast with a dribble of rain off and on. I wish our stamina was up to the tasks we need to do. We worked in the garden until we were about to drop, rested and worked some more. Went to bed tired! Tomorrow we have guests and I have to do lunch for 7 in the garden... That will take up all day today and tomorrow.
GT's in Italy, and her baggage is still in Grenada, after seeing Hurricane Emily come through. I wonder if it got wet? Emily is now a Cat. 4 and headed for Texas, better them than us AGAIN. P'cola/FWB seems to be a magnet for hurricanes.

Circumstantial Happiness

I sure must love gardening. There is no end to the weeds, I can see them spouting behind me as I pull them up before me!! Sisyphus had a harder job though. As I sat and rested my eyes on the trees I realized how HAPPY I was. How I want to remember the soft silken feel of the breeze on my sweaty skin, and the sound of the trees and birds, along with the insects. The smell of the dirt and fresh vegetation is so sweet. I can hardly describe the feeling of contentment. If someone was making me do this task for a living or rushing me in it, I'm sure I'd be cursing it! Not happy at all. Circumstantial happiness, accidentally stumbled upon.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Dennis the Menace

The Florida houses escaped flooding by Hurricane Dennis. AF stayed in the two main houses, for which I'm very grateful. Dennis turned out to be a very small, but strong storm, concentrating it's power in a small area, unlike H. Ivan, which stretched all the way across to J'ville on the East, and N.O. on the West. Hope we don't get another Super Hurricane like Ivan for a long while. A&J's church on the beach in P'cola, where they are to be married in August had it's roof removed again. The church had just finished refurbishing from the Ivan damage.

Catching up with my tail!

Gwin has come, shopped to replace her lost luggage, and gone... to Italy for a couple weeks time with my brother's family. Like some tribes in Africa, our family seems to depend on Uncles as Father figures. My brother, raised to be a good Father, falls into this role easily and generously. He has taken Gwin almost around the world on his family's trips. A 'Mensch" in every good thing that yiddish word implies. Gwin returns as generously as she is given.
Sam and I are trying to conquer the weeds in the garden. Sitting down weeding a row, it feels as if the miles of weedy rows will never be cleaned. Once cleaned of weeds, the plants will grow vigorously. Otherwise they will struggle. Thank goodness for machinery. The rototiller, a Troybilt Horse, is powerful enough to dig through our heavy clay. With the liberal application of horse manure, the tilth of the soil is looser, not the usual concrete we normally have. I need to talk to the local horse farms to see if I can collect their manure! What a windfall that would be!
I played Mah Jong with a new group yesterday, for a few hours. Nice to see new people, and I had to dress better than usual. I'll break them into my normal way of dressing slowly. I'm allergic to fancy clothes, preferring my jeans and tees exclusively.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

The Differences between Farming and Gardening

• You care for a garden; work a farm
• You weed a garden; harrow your farm
• You cultivate your garden; plow your farm
• You use your hands in the garden; a tractor on your farm
• You pick from the garden; harvest the farm
• Gardening is a hobby; farming is a living
• Garden fruits are counted in the tens; farm harvest is measured by the bushel
• Gardens grow flowers for blooms; farms grow flowers for seed

Can you think of any others?

Coping, without an old saw!

I've been on tetter-hooks since Thursday... waiting for GT to leave Grenada, where she's in Med School. She's due to leave for Italy on Monday, so she's just going to be in the US for a drop off of her large bag; kiss all and leave again, not to return until the 23rd.
Hurricane Dennis is the delaying factor. It hit Jamaica; she's flying Air Jamaica. She was scheduled to leave last night, but it crept up to Saturday PM. I'd hoped to meet her in NYC, but now it'll be in DC, and maybe only for a day, or shorter.
I've been coping with my frustration by reading, frozen in time until the call comes. I should be working, but that would take me farther from the phone.
Macks disappeared at about 8:30 AM on Wednesday. My velcro-boy decided to go see the puppy down the way, then must have seen a deer and lost his way home. He ended up late in the day about 5 miles across the river at a huge estate owned by a local lawyer. It was my call to my bro-in-law's radio station that connected loser and finder. The L's who found him fell in love with him! Meanwhile we, the left behind, had a really bad day. I was getting ready for my trip to NYC and could only tour the area a certain amount. Sam had meetings, but fretted. D, the stepson, improved my perception of him by taking the JD Gator into the woods and looking all day. I won't forget that.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Be Coooool, Stay Coooool!

How do I stay cool in this 97F heat? Well, first I wear as little as possible, to let the air evaporate my sweat. I turn on the sprinkler and work in and around it. I soak a kitchen towel, wring it out and put it around my neck, or over my shoulders. And especially I start out in the cool of the morning and let my body get used to the heat as it rises. I drink lots of water, preferably iced, to cool my core temperature. I work slowly and rest in the shade when I can. Coming into the A/C is the last resort. Today I went swimming in the lake. Under the foot and a half of hot surface water was water that was almost icy, but probably about 60F or so. The depths are probably 55F. It was really cold! I wish we had done the geothermal system when we had the chance! Just pump the coolnes up out of the lake!

Hot, Hotter, hottest: Life in the garden!

Today the heat index is supposed to hit 105F. As a former Florida girl I am thankful that the Virginia Sun doesn't get as fierce as the Florida Sun. So I am working a little, resting and working a little more. Boy, does A/C feel good! I hoed a few rows this morning in the cool and shade. Bit by bit the weeds are getting whacked. And the squash just keeps on coming. Soon I'll take it to the Post Office so the neighbors can get it. Then I'll take a pile to the Food Bank. No one is exempt from Squashing!

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Pawnbroker Susi

One of our family is chronically short of money,, so I have become his 'Pawnbroker'. Rather than 'Loan' him money, which he can't repay, I will 'purchase' the Civil War artifacts that he treasures (he finds them in this area) at wholesale prices, labeling them and storing them until he can earn the money to redeem them. Over the years he has sold many of these at a fraction of their value when he needed the money, and deeply regretted it when he was making money. I hope to at least stop that, and maybe he will then sell them the slower, more profitable way.

Latest from Troops

This came in over the transom... I have sanitized it to protect the writer.
Whatever your politics, please send your best to our troops this July 4th.

Subject: Iraq Update

Dear Friends,

And more than four months later, another note. True, I am not the most
faithful correspondent at the best of times, but the way time moves here is
like nothing I have ever experienced. Minutes can last all day, and months
can pass instantly. Not a good excuse for my delay in writing, but there
you have it.

We have gotten into a routine within the brigade where we deploy for six
weeks, return to refit for three, and out again. At my last note, I was
still in Fallujah, tracking unit administration after a frustratingly short
time in actual combat to the north of the city. The day-to-day work of the
unit (any unit) is not especially interesting, but it's worth mentioning
that across the board, our Iraqis impressed all of the Marine and Army units
they worked with. Near the end of the Fallujah deployment, two thirds of
the advisors within the brigade swapped out with a replacement unit, leaving
me as one of the three most experienced advisors here, with less than 60
days in country.

I am not sure how exactly the Army personnel folks decided whom to send on
this mission, the main effort of Iraq war. A guess is that, with Special
Forces being busy right now, they figured one bunch of elderly senior NCOs
is as good as another, so they sent us a bunch of Army Reserve drill
sergeants and basic training instructors. Oddly enough, but for a few
exceptions, our elderly reservists are working out brilliantly. Their age
and maturity have actually worked in their favor (more level headed, less
prone to panic), and many have prior active duty time. At this time, I am
the only Regular Army major assigned to an Iraqi unit at or below division
level. My NCOs make me look positively youthful, and I am the youngest man
on the team, though I am second in charge. Pretty scary, when you consider
the fact that there are NCOs fighting over here who were not born when I
first joined the Army. Well, thankfully none of them are assigned to my
brigade team!

A couple of observations on the Iraqis as we finished our Fallujah mission
and began to redeploy. The brigade commander was dissatisfied with the
performance of one of his battalion commanders, and relieved him. The
battalion commander complained to higher levels, and ended up keeping his
job. The brigade commander was corrected for not seeking guidance from his
higher HQ, despite having a strong case for the dismissal of the officer in
question. The Old Iraqi Army aversion to initiative is not yet dead, even
at the highest levels. This should not, of course, be a surprise-every army
has its politics. To get great generals, we will have to grow them-they
cannot be hired off the street. So, for the time being, we are stuck with
merely good generals, until we can train a new crop. Good should be enough
to get us through, though, especially compared to the opposition.

The Iraqi tendency to narrowly define one's sphere of interest is alive and
well also. An Iraqi house usually has a walled courtyard. Trash is dumped
over the wall-not in my yard, not my issue. Thus, when an Iraqi unit
departs an area, if they are not made to police up after themselves, they
will not do so-none of the "leave it a little better than you found it"
ethos here! When our brigade's main body departed Fallujah, the results
were predictable. Decaying food, filthy uniforms, equipment, etc., all
scattered around the place they had lived. Defies description-I'll show you
the photos if you visit! Easily preventable by an old Iraqi hand, but we
had none at the time. We all learned fast, though. The Iraqis have made
positive strides in this area since Fallujah, as I'll discuss in my next

Back home in Baghdad for three weeks, the Iraqis went on leave, and the US
advisors prepared for Christmas. I had a little tree from my wife and kids,
and several packages from my family. Many of the others had similar setups.
We were all also very happy to receive Christmas cards from an Elementary
School class in Florida. It is wonderful to have the public support we have
been blessed with here! Christmas, and then New Years', passed almost
quietly. On New Years' Eve I was on the roof of my barracks, talking on the
satellite phone, when I was sent scrambling for cover by the sound of a
single incoming 122mm rocket. Part of a second later, I realized it was
actually a red parachute signal flare that one of the British officers from
another unit here had earlier told me he was going to fire off at midnight
in lieu of fireworks. I had heard parachute flares before, but the things
sound different after you've had rockets fired at you! Made for a slightly
elevated heart rate.

After sweeping away the Christmas tinsel and wrapping paper, we packed up
again and went off to Mosul, this time to help secure the town for the
January elections. The elections went quietly for us, thanks in part to
aggressive patrolling beforehand, but we managed a casualty around that time
anyway. A US advisor found a way to shoot himself in the upper arm while
clearing a Soviet pistol he had been carrying, so our higher HQ immediately
issued a blanket prohibition against using "non-standard" weapons. This was
a good move on higher's part-many of the midlevel HQ loafers who almost
never leave the Green Zone were carrying around AK-47s with folding stocks,
and, in at least one case I saw, a 90-round drum magazine. Not sure what
the HQ types meant to convey with their weapons choices (most heavily armed
PowerPoint mechanic in Baghdad?), but the new policy coincided with the
arrival of a shipment of US M4 rifles (shortened M16s) to our brigade
advisors, so I was at last able to swap out the Iraqi Army AK-47 I had been
carrying for five months for a lighter, handier rifle that doesn't draw as
much unwanted attention.

After the election, several of us took a convoy up to Dahuk, a trading town
within the Kurdish part of Iraq. What a difference an involved population
makes! The Kurds have been semi-autonomous since after the 1991 war, and
they have made the most of it! The entire area was secure. For the first
time since arriving in Iraq, we were able to walk in a town without
bulletproof vests, our rifles slung over our shoulders. I window shopped,
bought bread, and ate in a restaurant-luxuries I had not been able to enjoy
since arriving in Iraq. I know that all of us spent much more money than we
had intended. If the rest of Iraq could see Dahuk, this "not shooting at
the Americans" thing could become a trend! I hear the south, Basra and
environs, is the same.

Sadly, it was not a trend in Mosul. After the elections, stepped-up
operations in western Iraq caused a good number of the insurgents in the
Ramadi area to flee towards Mosul, giving us more targets, and more action.
A terrorist sniper scored several good hits on advisors, with one going
between a Marine First Sergeant's flak vest and his back, giving him a scar
across his shoulder blades. An officer was knocked unconscious by a round
that struck his helmet, and a friend of mine was shot in the face and
evacuated to Germany (he's fine-he has been critically injured on and off
duty more times than I can count, always does well). A number of advisors
were also hit by IED ambushes. Luckily, nobody's injuries were fatal.
Still, by the time we left Mosul, we were ready to leave! An officer I met
who had served in the area earlier with the 101st Airborne Division said
that right after the invasion he'd been able to walk the street and buy food
from the local markets, but those days were over by the time I got there.

Mosul was also noteworthy because it snowed while we were there. Many of
our Iraqis from the south and west had never seen snow before, so it was a
nice break from operations and staff work when we made snowmen and tossed
snowballs at one another. For most of us, myself included, if was a brief
chance to be 14 again.

Air power hasn't been particularly important in this war, but when you need
them, they are great to have around. I was with the Iraqi brigadier general
who commands our brigade during a visit from Mosul to Talafar, where we had
a battalion going house-to-house rooting out terrorists. They had hit a
point where they were stalled by one persistent shooter hiding behind a blue
pickup truck. Most of a company had been shooting at him, but just when
they thought they'd killed him and they started to move forward, he would
pop back up and send a few more rounds their way. The battalion senior
advisor got on the radio and learned that there were USMC aircraft nearby,
so he asked them if they could help. They were able to. There was a sudden
roar as the airplane raced to its target, then a loud explosion and black
smoke cloud. No more bad guy, and no damage to the house he was standing
next to. Nobody compares to the US when it comes to putting steel on
target! The brigade commander and I had been observing the fighting from an
elevated position (for a better view), and were taking heavy, but
ineffective fire (enemy small arms fire here is not very accurate). After
the explosion, the rest of the terrorists stopped firing for the day. I
guess they realized they weren't going to be able to top the day's
entertainment from the Marines, so they went home.

Shortly before we left Mosul, I bumped in to two soldiers from my parent
unit, here to observe operations in Iraq so that they will know what their
training focus should be. When I am with a regular unit, I normally have my
head shaved on the sides, and only a little hair on top. Here, to keep from
frightening my Iraqis, I wear my hair in a longish civilian cut, within
regulations, but only just. The haircut threw them off-neither of these
men, one of whom I have pulled jumpmaster duties with several times and the
other of whom had worked for me for the year before I came here, recognized
me. After we got together and they figured out who I was, I took them to
our Iraqi camp and gave them a quick rundown on our training and operations.
Amazing how small the Army can be!

Well, that catches me up through Mosul (end of February). All in all,
things with our Iraqi brigade are proceeding extremely well. Not sure why
the media always finds the weaker Iraqi units to report on, but I can assure
you that the units in the papers are not the whole story, and that my
brigade is not the only one that is reaching our level of professionalism.

Salaam! I will try to get my next note out faster.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Gardening Report

I've got to put up some pictures. The big garden is up about five inches, and the raised beds are doing well. I'm already covered up with squash, but tomatoes aren't red yet. We'll have a bumper crop of everything. We had a big meal with all our own veggies, and a store bought chicken. I still miss my girls.

Bees are OK

The bees are building up or maintaining. I treated the ones that had EFB again, twice. That makes three treatments. Some have recovered and taken off, if the other's don't respond I'll have to do something drastic. I think that the old comb I have is spreading the disease. I'm segregating it for removal.
The woman who came to look at bees is very nice, but probably needs to go into it slowly. She got a little concerned when they started flying. I made sure she didn't get stung... she left, and I finished going through the rest of the hives: one apiary a day. Too many to do in a day, especially these hot days. Yesterday I released a queen that I'd caged because the workers were balling her. I had caged her and joined her small hive with a queenless hive next to it. I released her into the lower, larger hive four days after the join-up.
I need to go back in today and finish the third treatment for the some remaining hives. Thank goodness for my pencil notes on the sides of the hives; writing in a notebook and referring to it is too cumbersome.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Bee Musing

I go into the bees tomorrow with a woman who's got the "Bound to's & Can't help it's" about beekeeping. She really, really, really wants to have bees in her tiny suburban yard. I know how she feels, though. I was the same way and tried to talk myself out of beekeeping for a couple of years. Now I have about 30 hives, more or less. She's due here at 7AM and we'll look into all the hives, checking for queens, joining up the ones that are queenless, supering, and checking on the health of the brood since their bout of AFB. I plan to go into all of them over the next few days... in the cool early mornings. Since our current cool weather has gone.
Most of the splits need to be prepared to go into the winter by adding the supers that they can start storing their honey in.
Some of the larger hives have got some nice honey already and need to have it moved up into the upper box to free up space for the queen to lay in the lower box. I aim for 3 mediums for overwintering as both honey storage and brood box, so now is the time to get them drawing comb for their winter storage. Since I have Russian type bees they winter on much less honey than Italians. They are known for having small clusters and being very cold hardy. Mine seem to build up fairly fast in the spring, and will swarm before they've even filled out their brood box.
And this is the time of year to order next spring's queens from Purvis Bros @ Mountain Honey. I am pleased with the development of the one's I got this spring and will test them by not treating for varroa this fall or next spring. I expect to lose half of my hives and split from them to build up again next year. Of course, I'll feed them the HFCS I held back from last year's order.