Friday, February 24, 2006

How's the Diet Going?

I've had to become diet obsessed to lose this accretion of fat. I'm using the Nutridiary website to help me stay in the healthy range, and it seems to be working. Right now I'm balancing on a plateau and learning what it takes to change the eating habits. One thing I've learned is that it's difficult to get enough iron and calcium. I thought that if I was eating meat and broccoli I'd be OK. Not so. I have to eat 3/4 cup of Total cereal to get the RDA for both those and A & C. I'm so surprised. I am aiming for 20% fat, 20% protein, and the rest carbohydrates. Most of the time I'm way over the limit of sodium, and I crave the stuff. I'm working to gradually lower it. It's a learning experience and my curve is very long and low. At the end of this Blog you can see my weight loss.

My goal is a modest one pound a week, and I'm losing at 2 pounds a week so far. As I lose the rate will slow, and the plateaus will get longer. I figure my body's getting readjusted to itself, and I'm content to let it do so. My mind, appetitite, and body image has to do that too. I figure plateaus are a learning experience. I'm on that 5 year plan: 2 to lose it and 3 to learn how to keep it off. The goal is to maintain a normal weight. The process, not an end-point, is the true goal. I'm weighing daily, to see how the water/salt combination makes my weight fluctuate. I also have 'off' days where I eat too much. No matter, as long as I record everything so the computer program is correct. GIGO...Garbage in = Garbage Out. I want to keep accurate information so I can plot my progress. So far, so good.

Today I made a big meal: pork loin, broccoli, baked potatoes, biscuits, tomatoes, rice, cornstarch gravy, broccoli, baked carrots & onions; ate mostly the veggies, and 2 biscuits. Sam was so pleased!

So that I will look in the fridge and find something healthy to eat, I chopped up lots of onions, celery, etc. to go with the chopped lettuce, cucumbers and grated carrots already there. I'll also use some to make faux crab salad and chicken salad for Sam and Susan. BG is keeping us in fresh tomatoes and cucumbers. A huge salad, with 1/2 cup homemade croutons is about 250 calories.

I'm still enjoying figuring out lower calorie recipes. Two days ago I concocted a big pasta salad w/ beans, celery, onion, tofu, grated carrots, grated cheese, etc with Fat Free Caesar salad dressing. It's really good, Susan even likes it. I figure for each 1 1/2 cup there's a cup of pasta and rest veggies, beans & tofu. It's about 250 calories for a cup and 1/2. I got some red miso & agar thickening @ the RIC health store, which I will try in my veggie-heavy chicken soup. That should fill me up

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Taxes tax more than my income.

Every year I do my taxes myself. I figure that I'm the one who'll have to talk to the IRS agent, and I want to know precisely what I've filed. It's a matter of control. The buck stops here. I'm responsible. I do them with the idea that I WILL have to justify them to someone. Even if it's myself. Just the facts, Ma'am.
I start in February and finish by the end of March, at the latest. Then I think about it for two weeks, so I haven't missed anything, hopefully. I couldn't pay anyone to do this. I was given an estimate of $1000 to do them, and that was years ago. It would irk me to pay what it's worth, especially since most of the preparers these days want you to do all the adding up before they tackle the job. So I use the tax program and noodle all the figures myself. I take every deduction that is legal, down to the penny. I used to figure all the medical costs, even though they weren't deductible for us. I quit that. I am obsessed with taxes and accounting for TWO months.
Think of all I could do if we had a flat tax system. It'd put alot of folks out of business!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Maple blooms = Spring!!!

These arches between the raised beds are to grow beans and cucumbers,. or even indeterminate tomatoes. They're spaced over alternate walkways so we can work the beds from the non-arched side. The space will be filled with welded wire to make a continuous tunnel. We'll pick from the underside. The drawback is that they will cast shade on the beds. Another summer, another experiment.

Look up!

I showed CC the log with the older oyster mushrooms, pictured below. He looked at both it and the log I'd picked the 12 pounds off of, gazed around and said "Were those too high?" I finally saw this cascade of mushrooms about 13 feet off the ground. They're on both sides of the dead oak.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Snow is a Memory

Spring snows are so convenient. They come, they're gorgeous. They leave. A bit soggy, but that's fixed by the following sun.
I took the pictures in the vertical Flickr badge just as the sun was coming out. Within an hour most of the twigs had no more snow and by evening the only snow was where the sun couldn't reach. By Thursday it's supposed to be 65F. Spring is here. I know because I saw a maple blooming in the treetops where the sun hits. In the shade the bright scarlet blooms will be later. A beekeeping friend said that his girls were bringing in pollen in that last warm spell. Sunday the air will be back to 40s.
I'm hoping that the higher humidity, cold snap, and then the warm-up will bring out some more oyster mushroom flushes. I'll start hunting tomorrow.
BG and I potted up the plants that had sprouted and replanted all the flats with fresh dirt and new seeds. We didn't get a good germination rate on what we'd planted before, so we've used a planting mix that has a fungicide and fresh seed.
BG's foot massage, Reflexology based, has helped Sam's feet and legs immensely. He's sleeping without pills and walking steadier. She's going to work on a friend's feet this week.
I put all of my Flickr pictures on the 'Public' setting so they can be downloaded. No pride of authorship. The one with daffodils in the snow is my sister's favorite.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

OH ! Snow !

I am so happy to see some of this white stuff! It's probably the last we'll see until the end of 2006, so I'm determined to enjoy it. It's supposed to snow all night, so I'll take more photos tomorrow.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Pictures can't do justice!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

This Beech's earliest date is 1925

A kitchen full

The tree with older mushrooms

12 pounds of Oyster Mushrooms

It would have been 25 or more if I'd gotten out yesterday or before. I took a short-cut behind the sheds to check on a log that had been sprouting oyster mushrooms. Farther back there were two big tree boles covered with them. One had sprouted earlier than the other, so those were too old to pick. I picked most of the others. I'll clean and dry as many as I can fit in my dehydrator, and stew the rest for freezing. Oyster stew tonight!

Otters in the Lake!

I stand at the kitchen window and watch the waves in the lake made by our resident River Otters. I thought they were only passing through, but now they've been here long enough to be called resident... until they eat all the slow moving fish, that is.
I rarely see them, but I see huge rings of water and swirls rising from their antics underwater, mostly in the mornings. When I've walked around the lake they get curious enough to float with their heads and bodies just out of the water, like sea otters in California, and watch me. If I stop and look at them they'll dive, like porpoise.
I figure they're the ones who've been eating the Israeli Carp and leaving the skulls and sometimes the skeletons. They're called 'Fishermen's Friend', but all my redneck buddies tell me that I should let them kill them. A good pelt can sell for $1500!
Not in my lake! Too interesting to watch. Our lake needs some fish culling. Supposedly Bass are too fast for the Otters. We'll see!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Yesterday was a Gift!

It was 70F, but felt like 75 or more. Warm sun, light breeze, birds singing and most important: the bees were flying.
That meant there were fewer bees in the hives to get upset when I opened the hives.
It was predicted to be 50F & rainy. What a gift!
I loaded the Gator with the buckets of syrup (super thick, gooey), the bee tool bucket, bottles of water warm from the greenhouse & an empty bucket for trash. I raided the kitchen for scooping tools and a bag of rags.
Once into a couple of hives (nice girls!) I found out that some of the styrofoam top feeders had sprung leaks from being chewed on by wax moths. One feeder has wax moths salted through the whole bottom. They went straight in. Grrrrrr.
I think that I can coat the bottoms with fiberglass, silicone or something similar.
I was happily through four hives when I opened a feisty one. Like a cloud of avenging angels! I walked through the weeds back to the shed, looked for the duct tape, taped the ankles and wrists and lit the smoker. They were with me all the way! Fewer, but enough so they were a bother. Serious Girls: Bent on a mission!
When I got back and smoked them down, I found that they'd gone through about half of their pollen patty. It's two boxes, and they seem to have it filled. I really need to get some "Imrie shims" to give me enough room for a larger pollen patty and a bag feeder. All the bees were eating their pollen patties well. I need to make more and put them in the freezer.
That was one of the feeders that leaked, so I pulled an empty drawn frame and, using my hive tool, scraped some of soft sugar syrup into the wax cells. It worked fairly well. I did that on a couple other hives. I also filled the inner cover on the downhill side with the soft crystallized syrup. The bees will put it in cells where they want it.
Overall, they looked good. I think the tape and smoke will be necessary until 'real' spring comes. I still think I have a couple of losses to come. It may depend on the weather.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Down Two: 18 left

I found two hives that had dwindled and died. I now have 18 hives, two of which might still die. The girls were not happy to have their hives opened to put in the pollen patties! They told me so in unmistakable terms. Finally, I brushed them off my ankles and wound duct tape around my socks. Relief. Think of all the bees I saved from a kamikaze death. I still smushed too many by opening the hives. Woe.
I hope the addition of the pollen patties outweighs the bee's deaths. Some folks say that the bees prosper in spite what we do. It could be that my adding the pollen patties, breaking the seal of propolis that keeps the wind out, will cause enough of a heat loss that a weaker hive will die.
After the rain that is predicted for the next few days, I'll go back into the hives and give them more syrup. If I see a chance in between showers I may do it tomorrow.
Meanwhile, back to taxes.

Bees! Bees! Bees!

Today I answer the BIG QUESTION! How many hives do I have?
Everytime someone hears about the bees they want to know that number! So do I!!!
So, today, about 3PM the temperature should get close to 65F. I wish that would happen earlier, but this is still winter. I am going to put a pollen patty on the top of each broodnest, which should be in the top of each hive, by now, & I'll top up their corn syrup supply, adding water where needed to soften it. I'm debating putting a jar of water in a front feeder (boardman feeder) on each hive, since the bees need water to thin the syrup and to raise the humidity for brood rearing. I can do that another day. I won't leave the hive open for longer than necessary, so I don't chill the brood, if any. The forsythia are blooming, so there should be at least a tiny patch.
We have had some nights that were very cold, but no snow this January, so if I have dead hives I know that it's fewer than it would have been with a hard winter. We could have winter coming, but I'll be surprised. You can see the pictures of the daffodils in the snow from last years Mardi Gras snow! That cold spell killed two hives (sniff, sniff).
When broodrearing starts it will be a tiny patch, maybe only a few cells, that they can keep at 96F constantly. After capping the pupating bees don't need outside warmth as much. Once they hatch, they'll warm the hive so more larva can be raised. Even the tiny clusters of bees will raise some brood.
This is where the parasitic mites take their toll. If the wintering bees were not properly nourished as larva, their lifespan may not match the length of the winter, and the cluster will lose their warmth. That's often the case where lots of hives die in the spring. When the Tracheal Mites hit England the beekeepers had huge early spring losses. The mites can only be seen in the spiracules of the affected bees by a microscope. It took alot of research to find the cause. Now the bees and mites have developed a modis vivendi. We are all hoping that will happen with the Varroa mites. We are breeding for it, and the mites are inevitably working toward it.
End of lecture! I can see you're all asleep! Will report on the girls.