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A TALE OF TWO DUCKS

Lucy and Snow, watching the air.

Lucy and Snow, watching the air.

For our seventh anniversary, after breakfast out, Carter and I spent part of the day assembling a Costco chicken house. It is not especially well-constructed, but is better than we could have built on our own. I really had no immediate plans to fill the abode. But critter houses rarely sit empty with us for long.

The next day, I followed my long-pondered desire to add a pair of ducks to our mix. We took our five-year-old granddaughter, Taylor, off on a farm adventure to a place nearby selling muscovy ducks, chickens, turkeys, and red worms for vermiculture. From the flock of speckled ducks of all ages we selected two juvenile muscovies: one with green and white blotches, and the other mostly all white. On the drive home, the ducks were dead quiet. Not a peep.

Although I had thought about keeping a pair of ducks for years, the act of bringing them home happened rather suddenly in the end, and as we neared our house I began hazily awakening to the awesome responsibility of incorporating new creatures into our family.

The older I get, the more sensitive I become to “inflicting” my intentions on others. As I carried the ducks into our backyard, my mind was ticking off directives: “Now, Susan, don’t rush the ducks. Let them find their way into their new yard. Be patient. Leave them alone. Don’t force this…” Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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MORPH 2: THE REST OF THE STORY

From the happy kingdom.

From the happy kingdom.

Our last post ended with me leaving the newly combined Rose Hive Tower to “sort things out.” I stepped out of the bee yard, stripping off gloves, veil, bee jacket, and heavy shoes as I made my way to the back door. Normally, I don’t “suit up” as extensively—or at all—but I had expected to be tinkering around in Rose and Freyja pretty extensively and sometimes the gear comes in handy. Handy, yes, but bee gear is an extra layer of heat on a warm day. This day, I finished my tasks in a drenching flood of sweat.  Yanking off the jacket and hat was—literally—a breath of fresh air.

Actually, though, I love putting on my bee gear as much as I like pulling it off. I’ve put on sacramental robes before to assist in church services, and at Sundance when I dressed each morning in my sage wreaths and shawl. There is a joy to stepping into the traditional garb of sacred realms, and I’ve come to view donning my bee gear in the same manner. But sometimes I don’t follow through with ritual in the ditching of the garb. On a hot day, I tear it off as fast as my hands will work. I think I made it from the bee yard to the shower in a minute flat.

After my shower, I hurried back to the bee yard to check on the progress. My concerns about a possible bee battle melted the instant I saw the hive. Bees clustered as usual on the entrance landing to the Rose Hive. Maybe the cluster was a bit larger than usual, but not by so much. The air around the hive was no longer a buzzing amber cloud. Yes, hundreds of bees were coming and going to and from the hive, but with the focused purpose the Rose Hive exhibited daily. There were no battles at the door, bee-on-bee. There were no bees milling frantically where the two hives had formerly stood. All was in order…. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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MORPHING: PART 1

Happy bee on phacelia.

Happy bee on phacelia.

The weather has been glorious here at MillHaven this past week. Some heat, some clouds, some booming thunder, and some blessed rain. A little bit of everything, and all of it good. Things are changing in the garden quickly at this time of year. Many summer flowers are brown and bent now, and my lawns, which I don’t water, are getting crispy. Things that were lush and juicy are going woody and dry.

Some plants are still waiting to show off their colors: asters, goldenrod, coneflower, and herbs. The bees are waiting for them. It is a time of dearth for them as the big bloom of summer flowers is over. I see honeybees drift over to flowers they don’t normally spend much time with, like the yellow-blooming cat’s ears. Today, I was inspected by several curious bees who were wondering if my blue garden dress was, perhaps, some large, exotic flower… Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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SHANTI

Chopping "Freyja" out of the floor.

Chopping “Freyja” out of the floor.

I have three hives of bees right now, all stacked next to each other under a sun-rain roof in the upper part of our yard. The first hive I collected off a rosebush in Portland, and I call them the Rose Hive. They were a small but mighty bunch, and are now populated with thousands of new, young bees. No robber bee would think of setting so much as a toe on their entry board. The guards are always out, policing the perimeters.

My third hive, I cut out of the floorboards in someone’s home. It was a mess of a job and I got stung to pieces, but they are settling in well and are busy and focused at their door—just what you want to see. I named them the Freyja Hive after the Goddess of  War and Fertility, which I thought suited them to a Tee.

My second hive I named the Shanti Hive, as they have always been very quiet and gentle. And from the day I brought them home, I sensed that in addition to being quiet and gentle, they were just not quite right.

Now, I am very new to bees. I’ve only seen four hives in daily action in my life since I started with bees last year, but I have learned to trust my gut, and my gut said “Uh-oh.” While the Rose and Freyja hives gained in numbers and were always very intent on their work, the Shanti girls were distracted, wandering about on their entry board as though they weren’t quite sure what to do next. Sometimes no one would be attending the door at all, as if the guard bees were napping or playing bridge or something. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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BE GOOD MEDICINE

imgres I was in Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago for a few days. I wrote most of this post while there, but held onto it and did not post. It seems especially timeworthy, in light of Luna and Dex:

Over the solstice, Carter’s daughter, Jessica, married a wonderful young man, David, in an informal, sweet ceremony. Southern California is about as different as it gets from my little town in Washington. I had forgotten what real traffic looked like. And wall-to-wall buildings and houses that go on forever. I was surprised to see an empty lot there, a bit of weedy wild amongst all the pavement and tamed plants.

In the course of six days there, Nature granted me two miraculous moments, unseen by anyone else in my company. The first was a hawk that catapulted down right next to our car as we were stopped at a red light. Its target was a large pigeon, who exploded in a mass of feathers as he was struck and knocked over. The whole thing happened so fast I only had a chance to blurt out “Did you see….?” before the hawk noticed the traffic and lurched back into the sky on muscle and wing. The pigeon leapt to its feet, fluffed itself, and flew off in the other direction. Lucky pigeon, I said to myself. Lucky, lucky pigeon. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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DARK ANGELS: LITTLE DEX AND LUNA’S BIG ADVENTURE

 

Little Dex, head down.

Little Dex, head down.

The day began in a whirl of confusion. I was up early, planning carefully for a swarm removal an hour from my house. I had all my goodies packed in two large baskets: sheets, tools, carry boxes, gloves, bee jacket, honey water and far more, because you just never know what you will find when you arrive. Unless, of course, you have a brainstorm at the last minute to ask the person to send you a photo of the swarm.

Which she did. And the swarm of honey bees turned out to be a hornet nest hanging beneath her mailbox. I made a quick note to myself to always ask, from now on, for a photo, if they can get one easily.

Well, suddenly, I had about four unexpected hours on my hands. What to do? It was going to be ninety degrees by that afternoon. I was wanting something cool for dinner. So, I grabbed my large pot and put up some water to boil pasta for macaroni salad. When I dumped the pasta into the boiling water, I turned on my stove hood fan. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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FROG, DEER, AND STEVE BUSCEMI

Ruby, at home.

Ruby, at home.

No doubt, you are aware that the world is a mess these days. From wars, to environmental catastrophe, to filthy politics, to gun violence, to domestic and animal abuse—you name it, we got it. I spend time pondering the why of our collective insanity, but not too much time, because pondering insanity is a waste of time. What I ponder more is how we might possibly get out of this madness and find some way back to collective health and more “humanness.” Because too many of us behave like jerks and nut balls instead of human beings, both on the public stage, and in our homes, as well.

These are a tiny assortment of the solutions I hear proposed to cure our ills: Energy independence, vote out the dopes and vote in the “good guys,” get rid of Obama, get rid of the Koch brothers, fully instigate carbon credit programs, raise/lower taxes on the rich/poor, buy an electric car, meditate, join Occupy, jail Occupy, implement permaculture everywhere right now. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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