Saturday, July 31, 2010
I know it's not a popular topic but the way we die is so important that it SHOULD be a popular topic.
This is a great article for everyone who expects to die. Or expects to help a parent die. Or is interested in modern medicine, or the crumbling health-care system. If nothing else, I suggest you read it to see one of the rare cases of a physician being humble.
These Roman shades were in this house when we bought it XX years ago (XX = a long,long time). I'm a very casual home decorator. If something works I let it live its natural lifespan. That means it stays in place until it falls apart. Just think of the money I've saved over the past XX years not replacing perfectly good, but way out of style, fixtures and furniture. Am I proud of this? Maybe a little. Is that wrong? I have many friends and relatives who must shake their heads upon leaving my home. "Did you see that wallpaper (carpeting, tile, paint, chair, couch, table, etc etc etc)?? Mygod, what is she thinking?" On the other hand, I live with the knowledge that my friends are my friends even in the face of my slothful ways. Mildly comforting.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
On the street(s) where I live. Nasty storm blew through on Sunday. 90 mph winds. Lucky we only lost the blue spruce. Still standing but just barely.
All of the pictures below are from other yards. The ventilated spruce above is still standing in our side yard but it will have to come down. I have mixed feelings. I always hate to lose a big tree but it will open up a nice garden area. And my herb garden will get a LOT more sun now. It was one scary storm. Lasted about 15 minutes but wow what a punch. Some people in the DC area are still w/o power.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
I found this bee on the entrance to the hive. She was soaked to the skin (this was a day, long long ago, when we had hard rain) & I thought she was dead or dying b/c she was so docile. But she shook off the rainwater and all seemed OK. Then I saw what I thought was a big hole in her thorax area. Injured? Attacked by other bees? Dying? Maybe none of the above. In studying a diagram of a bee I saw that there is a distinct separation between the thorax and the abdomen. I think maybe it was more apparent on this bee b/c (a) you don't often get such a good look at a bee, and (b) the rain had matted down her hair. Bees have lots of hair that gathers pollen -- sort of like static electricity -- while they are gathering nectar. I think I got all of that right. Counting on Kitt to correct any errors.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
A few days ago someone on my street planted this home-made sign in his or her front yard. Anyone know what the message is? Google doesn't help.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
These kittens have their own bedroom, and they use it just like babies and toddlers use a bedroom. They sleep there, in that basket on the little couch, including through the night. During the day when they get tired--every 3 or 4 hours--we take them into their room, put them in the basket, shut the door, and miraculously they go to sleep! They don't wake up until we open the door and tip-toe into the room. Once they see us, they're up and out in a flash. But then they play-play-play and eat and poop and get tired and back to bed they go. Today Georgette put herself to bed. So Doug put Hank into the basket with her -- about 2 hours ago -- and they've been sleeping ever since. It's like having a newborn, except quieter. And newborns don't climb on top of antique clocks hanging from the walls.
There were two problems. No. 1: I underfed them. No. 2: I panicked and lost confidence.
Of the two problems No. 2 was probably the most serious. The underfeeding was pure stupidity. I had all the clues -- my peaceful bees suddenly turned mean, the hive was full of bees and brood (eggs growing into new bees) and not so full of capped honey, and it had been very hot (as in 100 degrees hot) and dry. But I didn't put the pieces together until last Sunday at about 1 PM during an unplanned conversation with an experienced beekeeper at the Takoma Park farmers market. He heard my clues and said "feed them." So I came home and fed them. And all would have been well if a neighbor hadn't picked that afternoon to invite his grandchildren to use his pool. I can't see the pool from my house but I can hear when it's being used and I can see the top half of adults standing near the pool. All I could think was "the bees are chasing me into the house they're so mad, it's hot as blazes and they probably want that pool water, and look at all that uncovered flesh on the owner as he strolls around watching his grandkids." I always, always leap to the worse possible conclusion in situations like this. I envisioned a child stung by one of my bees going into anaphylactic shock and dying and that would make me a murderer because I was so irresponsible about feeding my bees.
I had learned, but forgotten apparently, that the Mid-Atlantic area is actually not a great place to keep bees. Not nearly enough of the right kind of flora for them to succeed on their own...we're already in a dearth situation.
I've now added a fourth box with fresh frames (the darker green) and I'm feeding like crazy. The bees are now nice and calm and my plans to get rid of the entire operation are on hold. Until the next scare...
Thursday, July 15, 2010
The gardener is a retired surgical room nurse. I love her garden and try to remember to take pictures every summer. Left unchecked I may end up doing the same thing to my garden. There seems to be very little actual lawn, no plan, no order, and no desire to have a theme. Her house is next door to NIH, in particular the employee pickup area where I scoop up old work friends for lunch every so often (the friends aren't old... but I, well, I guess I am). Right across the street from the chaotic garden is a very simple, very tailored front yard with this statue smack in the middle. (I took a bad picture; next time I'm over that way I'll take a better one.) I imagine the owner of the statue looking out at the chaotic garden and thinking "what a mess!" And of course the owner of the chaotic garden doing the same but thinking "hideous! what IS that thing?"
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
A 9-year-old daughter's plea to keep a cat who sauntered up to the house one day and decided to adopt us.
June 1993. Socks was a grand cat, dominant and domineering, who lived just a few more years after he adopted us -- he was the victim of too much outdoor living in a place with foxes and possibly an overly territorial attitude about his yard.
The "colar" refers to a tag he was wearing. It didn't have his name or address or any contact information but it did have the name of an animal clinic and a serial number. So we called the clinic and learned the name of his owner...someone in the neighborhood a few blocks away. Meanwhile Socks was fast growing to spend much more time in our yard than in his own, and one day a couple walked by and saw him sitting on the front porch with my daughter. They greeted Socks -- "hi Tommy," they said. They kept on walking and when my daughter asked if he was their cat they laughed and said something about him being anyone's cat---theirs, ours, whoever would have him. I still see cats on their front porch who look a lot like Socks. The line continues!
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Losing our two beloved cats --- Gus in March and then Oliver on June 28 --- has been hard. Doug summed them up very well I think. These sweethearts will be loved just as much as Gus and Oliver, but you never really replace a cat.
These guys studied The Official Kitten Manual very closely before they arrived. They do ALL the appropriate cute kitty things.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
14% butter fat. What's not to love? Bought peach melba and peanut butter. Wish I'd bought some of that Fear the Turtle. Next time.
This ice cream has been made on the U of MD College Park campus and sold in this campus building for 80+ years. I spent many breaks between classes eating and studying in this building. I mostly ate those pre-made, plastic-wrapped, triangular-shaped sandwiches. Egg salad, peanut butter & jelly, maybe ham salad. You know the kind of thing I mean. I rarely bought ice cream in those days...so why wasn't I svelte? Anyway, flash forward to 1982-84, when I was married and having two babies...just down the street in an old section of College Park. I decided that ice cream was just the ticket for a nursing mom. We would often have four half-gallons in the freezer at a time and we ate gallons and gallons of it over those years. And you know what just occurred to me....both of my kids are lactose intolerant although neither of their parents is. Hm.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Everything in this front yard garden comes up on its own each year. All I have to do is cut back the very invasive lemon balm from time to time.
My beloved 4 o'clocks at the top. The lemon balm is in the bottom picture, spiky green plant on the left between the red amaranthus.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Here he is lovingly holding his girls in his ungloved hand. It's not my goal to be that casual with my bees but it would be nice. He says that beekeepers are "playing the faux hand of god." I guess so. Yeah, I think so. I don't know. What I really want is a pair of those John Belushi bee antennae.
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Friday, July 2, 2010
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Anyone who has read both To Kill a Mockingbird and Gone With the Wind might find this short essay interesting.
I don't think I'll ever forget these words:
"I was born in 1959. Mockingbird was published in 1960. I read it for the first time not long after reading Gone with the Wind. I have long divided the world into Scouts and Scarletts—and I have always wanted to be Scout.
"And for every year of my life but the first, Mockingbird’s very existence, reader by reader, thirty million strong, has made the world a better place for me and for mine, just as before I was born and for every single year of my life Gone with the Wind has made the world more difficult for people like me."
Girls are mooning me. What they may really be doing is laying down some propolis* where those hive parts meet.
*Propolis is a bee-manufactured glue that they use to seal their homes. I think I've read that they make the propolis by using a sticky substance they gather from tree bark. Plus they add their own spit (which contains certain enzymes maybe??) and the final product is this high-quality glue. I think. Bee people will speak up, I hope, if I'm wrong.
Personal goal: learn to use camera better so I can get better close-up shots.