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!