Thursday, May 29, 2008

Busy Days!

No, I haven't abandoned ship .... yet! It's been a busy time and I've wondered from time to time over the last weeks whether I can keep up with my blogs. I decided to just let this one go for a bit and to do my weekly posts at Rivanna River Herbal because it is my class project after all.

I've been feeling quite overwhelmed by lots of things this past month, with the garden taking most of my attention. I'm trying to thin, prune, plant and help it all to look beautiful while nursing a back injury that was doing great until this past weekend when I went on a hike and shouldn't have. Then on Monday, I worked in the garden for almost 4 hours. Since then I've been hurting and feeling very frustrated. For me, the garden is where I want to be ... and not just sitting. I always see something that needs doing and the weather for working outside has been unbelievable ... warm, not hot days, very little humidity and chilly nights. Perfect! Too soon the hot, hazy and humid days of summer will be upon us. Then I'll take to the shady corners of the garden or the indoors. Early morning and late evening are the only times I can handle the great outdoors in July and August, unless we have a cool spell and then I'm out and about.

This morning I managed a bit of pruning and planting but quit after an hour. Now I'm just trying to stay still and let my back recover a bit ... not easy for an antsy person like myself who sees so many things that need attention. Do I sound like a obessive type? Hopefully, this too shall pass. I mean the backache ... though it would be good to get rid of some of my craziness as well.

I am very much wanting to simplify my life and to begin weeding out those things that don't really interest me that much any more. But it's difficult and every time I let something go the space fills up with some other obsessive activity. I can't seem to let empty moments just be empty, though I am trying and one of these days, maybe, I'll get it.

Good news came yesterday! My brother's surgery to remove his esophageal cancer went well and they believe they got it all. Now we await the results of a biopsy to let us know if the cancer was still alive. I pray the chemo and radiation killed it so that he can start with a clean, healthy body. In the meantime, they say he is in lots of pain and I realize my backache is really nothing to complain about, especially if I take care of it better!

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Lushness Of Spring ...

Oh, how lush the garden is!! To date this month we've had 6 inches of rain. Shrubs and trees I've planted have grown more in the last two months than they have in the last two years. The life force of water is truly amazing. We cannot live without it. Without it, the land would become bare, crack and crumble. Everything would shrivel and die.

The birds seem more active these days. Yesterday, I discovered the nest of a pair of cardinals in the climbing roses by the garage and watched a pair of mockingbirds do their hop, hop mating dance in the driveway. Pairs of bluebirds have nested in the boxes we've set out for them and one group of babies should be fledging any day now. This morning two families of Canada geese strolled along the water's edge ... one family with 3 gawky children, just beginning to sport real feathers, the other with only one baby, still tiny and golden in color.

I cannot get enough of the outside ... the garden, the flowers, the pulse of the planet, the new life all around me. Unfortunately it is not so for everyone. The tragedies unfolding in Burma and China are heartbreaking. There is no way I will ever be able to comprehend the loss those people in that part of the world are enduring ... unless of course I were to experience what they are going through. I do not wish for that. What I do wish for is that my prayers and those of all of the other people who are concerned be heard and that they will bring some measure of peace to those in need of caring for.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Muddy River ...

There were big weather doings in the area last night. We had thunder, lightning, torrential rain and some hail. But the biggest deal was that we were under a tornado warning for several hours. My husband is away, so the dogs and I spent the night in what used to be my mom's apartment on the the bottom floor of our home. The dogs shivered when the thunder boomed and looked to me for safety. If they knew I couldn't change anything or protect them from that horrible noise, they'd probably leave home.

We woke to a gray, cool morning and 4 1/2 " of rain in the rain gauge. The dock is swamped. I haven't seen it as an island in a number of years now because of the drought. But it's beginning to feel like we may be on our way into some "normal" weather patterns for a change ... whatever "normal" might be. When I first moved to Virginia in 1979, torandoes were a rarity. Just a week or so ago there were devastating twisters in the southeastern corner of the state.

You can see in this photo the "stuff" that comes down the river when we have a heavy rain. There is garbage of all kinds, dead tree limbs, stumps and what remains of last year's leaves. The silt is visable in several tones with the currents bringing in just a bit at first, then later the full monte of good old, Virginia red clay. That is beginning to be a problem for this reservoir as it is silting in at a pretty good clip. I've noticed big differences in the the shore line since we moved here 8 years ago. There is big controversy over what to do to keep the area in water for the next 50 years. Once I understand a bit better what exactly is going on, I'll be writing some about it. Water is a big issue every where and it's getting bigger by the day, around here.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Bees ...

My son, Mark, arrived a week or so ago with a hive box and about 10,000 bees. He has 2 hives at his home but wanted to spread out a bit so here we are with our own hive, carefully being tended by him. They are Mark's bees and he does all the work, but I cannot help but refer to them as "my bees."

Mark came by a few days ago to release the Queen, who was encapsulated in a tiny, sugary box which the workers are chewing through. The bees were calmed by the smoke. A few did try to sting him but his protective gear kept him from feeling it.

The bees are already building comb in the box and pollinating plants in my garden. When they first arrive bees need to be fed, so yesterday Mark came by with a gallon of sugar water (5 lbs. of sugar to 1 Gallon of water) to refill their reservoir so they can eat while they begin bringing their new home together and producing honey. They will be fed again in the fall before winter comes to help hold them over. We will not harvest any honey this year, letting them spend their first winter living on the honey they themselves produce and the extra sugar syrup Mark feeds them.

Honey is a very magical food and an antimicrobial healing agent. My dog, Molly, recently had surgery to remove a nasty cyste on her tail. After the cyste was removed the veterinarian dressed the wound with honey and then bandaged it. I had no idea that honey could be used in this way. The site has healed on Molly's tail and she is as good as new. I will use honey next time I cut myself to help the healing along.

Besides providing us with honey, bees are critically important because they pollinate the plants we use for food. Without them and other pollinators, the growing food crisis around the world will become more than a crisis. Starvation will not only effect the poor, it will effect the richest of the rich. Food growers as well as the world's bee keepers will be without work.

Bees have been mysteriously dissapearing. Called "Colony Collapse Disorder," hives around the world are found abandoned with no sign of the bees. It is believed that a mite and/or a virus are involved and scientists are at work trying to discover what else could be to blame. Other pollinators such as bumble bees are at risk as well. I often wonder about the tons of pesticides that are being used to grow our food crops. Could that be part of the problem??

We'll see what happens with this hive. I'll keep you posted on this latest adventure!