Monthly Archives: April 2009

Finding the Silly in the Serious

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My buddy, Michelle Rafter, has issued a Blogathon challenge. Participants are challenged to post a blog a day during the month of May. Michelle, I officially accept your challenge. Should I throw a blog glove down as I say that?

So get your eyes ready for some good reading, folks. On May 1st, I will post participating bloggers’ links for your viewing pleasure. Oh, and since most blogs have a theme, here’s mine : find the silly in the serious.

May is going to have its serious side for me, and I will share that when we turn the calender page. So, I am making my own personal challenge : to learn something new (and perhaps a little silly) every day.

You learn something new every day. We have all heard this phrase. We usually mutter it after we have read something we hadn’t thought of before, or when someone shows us a surprising way to accomplish a task. Next month, I will attempt to learn something small-but-new-to-me every day. Ahhh, now you are curious, eh?

Stay tuned. I might post pictures. Britain’s Got Talent hasn’t seen anything like it.

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Ewe Go, Girl!

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Coco with lambs

The weekend flew by with a fun evening in Lebanon, NH on Saturday. We were able to attend a sold-out Indigo Girls concert held in the Lebanon Opera House. The Indigo Girls had the entire house on their feet by the end, grooving to their sweet old late-80s folky songs, but concert opener Lucy Wainwright Roche became a house favorite. Her soft voice and airy personality was endearing and her music was a hit with the Indigo Girls fans. No one in our group was fooled by her spacey stage persona – Roche completed a Master’s Degree in Education and was an elementary school teacher in New York City before hitting the road.

My friend Susan lives in upstate New York, about a half hour’s drive from my place. Her homestead includes a small flock of Icelandic sheep, and this past week her ewes, Flora and Coco, became moms. Each ewe gave birth to twin girls! The lambs are named Juno, Calypso, Freyda and Yum-Yum. It was so wonderful to smell baby lamb’s wool and fresh timothy hay again!

Freyda

I also took a quick look at Susan’s beehive; a colony that was started from the bees I maintain at another friend’s blueberry farm. Although it was just over 40 degrees, the hardworking girls were out foraging for water and any type of food they could find. The ground was littered with debris from the overwintered hive. It looked like the bees, too, were having a bit of cabin fever!

Spring lambs and song – a lovely way to spend a weekend!!

A little green and a little street scene.

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Check out this eco-entertainer: www.SteveTrash.com. Steve was voted a Fast 50 Favorite by readers of Fast Company Magazine. He helps teach children that it’s actually easy being green! Steve explains in his bio at Stevetrash.com that he turned to magic to help him with dyslexia. After earning a degree in theatre, Steve performed as a busker on the streets of America, and went on to star in his own show on Comcast Cable.

Here’s another busker I’m crazy about: Emery Carl can be found entertaining the crowds at Seattle’s Pike Place Market and other establishments. I listened to him sing at Soul Food Books in Redmond – another cool place to hang out and drink fantastic coffee. Listen to Emery’s tunes at www.thetroubadourshow.com.

Trees, Please.

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Several years ago, a storm ripped through Randleman, North Carolina and tore out almost 400 loblolly pine trees in the town’s World Summer Youth Camp.

Loblolly pines have roots that grow close to the surface of the ground, and groups of the pines will intertwine their roots like the weaving of a blanket. When one tree falls, sometimes others are pulled up with it. Boy Scout Mark Case, then 14, saw the devastation and knew he had to help. But he quickly realized he needed his Scout Troop and their teamwork skills to get the job done. He came up with a plan to turn the camp into an arboretum where people could learn about different species of trees and shrubs.

With the help of his parents, Mark applied for grants from local and national organizations. He collected about $1500 from different organizations, and used the money to buy trees and tools for his project. Mark asked arborists to help him pick the best trees and shrubs for the project. “I had to learn about the surface of the ground, and I had to plan how much fertilizer to use for each tree,” says Mark. “We have red clay here, so we needed to put in a lot of fertilizer and mulch so the trees would grow.”

On planting day, Mark hoped a few volunteers from his community would come to help the Troop with digging and planting. But he was surprised when over 90 people, ages 7 to 60, came to plant trees. Out of 92 trees that were purchased or donated for the project, 59 were planted on Join Hands Day. The rest were planted later that fall or were left in pots and protected for the winter. Mark’s Join Hands Day project won a Points of Light Foundation National Award of Excellence from the Points of Light Foundation.

“Other Scouts can do this for their own communities,” said Mark. “If you set your mind to do something you can do anything. It’s like climbing a mountain – you just have to keep moving. You can do things you never dreamed you could do.”


Mark is a great example to all of us – we can all help our Mother Earth by planting a few trees in our own communities. Not only is Arbor Day coming up at the end of this month, but Join Hands Day 2009 is celebrated on the first Saturday in May. Every tree – and every person – counts. Want to know how to properly plant a tree? I’ll add a page with easy instructions!

Lessons on Home Remodeling – From a Honeybee

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The recent focus on honeybees and Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has caused more Americans to learn about – and appreciate – the hard-working honeybee.

As a beekeeper, I know that honeybees are social creatures with their lives centered on their home. Each time I stand at the entrance of one of my hives, or open the top to peer inside, I come away with a few tidbits of information. Here are a few tips on home remodeling from one of the best architects in nature:

  • Expect to sweat.

Nothing substitutes for good old elbow grease. Honeybee workers secrete or “sweat” a thick fluid that is chewed and formed into light yellow wax. The honeybee pulls and packs the wax into perfect, six-sided cells that will hold eggs, brood and food for the entire colony.

Count your blessings – your sweat builds equity, and you only have to wipe it from your brow.

  • Have a plan

That honeycomb? The colony doesn’t make it up as they go along. The honeycomb blueprint has been around since time began, and it still works the best. There is no wasted space in a honeybee hive – each cell is created from the last one and the walls never vary in thickness. No self-respecting honeybee would dare to change it.

If something works, don’t Be-Dazzle it.

  • Sometimes you just have to make do.

When times are tough and nectar is hard to come by, honeybees will happily swig Gatorade from a can, lick a Popsicle, drink pool water and roll in cattle feed for the bits of protein dust they can substitute for pollen. Anything to feed the crew.

When times are tough, you may have to settle for quality laminate instead of hardwood to stay within your budget.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

There is a social structure within the hive. Honeybees dive in to make living bridges from one space to another, to clean cells or feed larvae or wipe the Queen’s face. There is no guilt – only a collective need to get the job done.

Sometimes a girl just needs to shout out to a sister.

  • Prepare for winter.

Honeybees send out groups of workers to insulate the hive as it gets closer to winter. Every crack or knothole in the pine wood of the hive boxes is plugged with a sticky brown substance called propolis. This keeps the winter hive warm and snug for the colony, brood and queen. But there is also strategically placed ventilation to keep the air moving.

Find those heat-sucking leaks and repair or weatherstrip before the winds howl, but let your house breathe the way it should.

  • Protect your turf

Honeybees are docile and easy-going – until something tries to invade their space. Then the militia is called in and lines are drawn. Guards are posted at the entrance, the queen buries herself in the middle of the hive and is protected by hundreds of nurse and guard bees, workers rush to drink their fill of honey in case an escape is in order. And safety is in numbers – thousands of the little girls can ward off a hungry black bear.

Lock up when you leave – and beware of bears in bee’s clothing.

  • Look for the sweetest flowers.

The nectar doesn’t come to the hive. The honeybee uses her uncanny ability to discern flower nectars and heads for the ones that will give her quality and quantity. Time is honey, and the straightest and sweetest path is the best one.

Develop a skill for finding quality materials and craftsmen who offer the best return for the money.

  • When it’s hot, sit on the porch.

Ah, you thought a bee never rests? Not so – when the summer sun heats up the hive, a large group of workers move out to the porch and fan their wings to create a breeze inside, keeping brood and honey at the proper temperature. The girls take breaks from their fanning and hang out in clusters called “beards,” cooling themselves and storing energy for later flights.

Remember to re-hydrate and take a break from work to appreciate what you’ve already accomplished.

And the most important lesson I learned from my honeybees is this:

  • Sing while you work. And hum if you don’t know the words.

It’s a Whole New World

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Well, here I go! Off on another adventure – blogging in space. I must admit, I probably should have devoted the time to rebuilding my sad little temporary (for a year and still counting) website. But for some reason, this seemed like the right challenge. I trust that it is.The universe always sets us up for opportunities to learn and to grow.

So, if you happen on this lovely unspoiled blog, take a good look at the name – and tell me what you would like to see here. I’m open to suggestions! Otherwise, you’re at my mercy. And I have an long list of interests, so you never know what might appear. A look at the Zen of beekeeping, or why I like sheep. How I’m crazy about our Mother Earth and all her amazing gifts . You might read an interview with a cool person, or a warm one. You might even have to read a – gasp –  haiku. It’s your call, for now.

Always Rosie