Monday, September 26, 2011

In good company . . .

I worried about attending a class reunion . . .

This is a telling photo. I think it is from our senior prom.
Yes, we all felt like losers with no dates.

But you can survive high school if you have a good friend. I was blessed. I had a good friend and a group of good friends to hang with . . . to ride the bus together, celebrate birthdays, go to church, go to ballgames and more.

And I had a tiny place to succeed.
I sang in a trio through high school.

There were others that I enjoyed spending time with as well . . . all girls. I did not have a boyfriend nor did I have boys that were friends. Somehow, I wrapped much of my self-worth around that detail. I assumed that on the “most likely class list”, I was the one most likely to never marry and never have children. I am so glad that I was wrong! I was blessed—abundantly blessed. Even so, I still got cold feet and nearly did not attend my class reunion.

But I went. I did a little self-talk . . . “This is not about you. Let others tell you their stories.”

I had a conversation the night before I left with my good friend, Carol. We both chuckled at the dialog that we never expected to have, "Okay, then I'll meet you at Ickeys."

Another conversation that made us chuckle was that we marveled over the great price of gas in Archbold. who would have thought we would be appreciating gas that was over $3.00 per gallon! We actually saw it a couple of cents lower at another station.

My three most enjoyable and heartfelt conversations at the actual reunion were with men—boys from my class that I never had one conversation with in high school and I would remember if I had. I loved hearing a piece of their stories.

But my real highlight was my dear girlfriends—staying up until
3:00 a.m., catching up and reveling in the real friendships that have spanned our lifetimes. (One of our group of six was unable to attend.)

All six of us have experienced deep grief and sadness and all of us have received unbelievable blessings and happy times. Through it all God has sustained us and held us in His hand.

After the reunion luncheon, a group of attendees discussed “doing high school again.” Some have much fonder stories than I. Some were successful athletes. One thought high school was “a blast.” We agreed that the pressures of high school are much more complex and challenging than when we attended. Our issues were simpler.

Three boys got sent home from our senior trip for attending a Yankees ballgame without permission.

Regarding high school, one man said, “Sure, I would gladly do it again if I could know all that I know now.” But in that particular group the consensus was, “Definitely not. I would not want to go back.”

As I looked around the group, I sensed camaraderie between those that were in my class—somewhat of a recognition that age was taking its toll on all of us and life experiences have had somewhat of an equalizing effect on us. Everyone has a story. I am sorry that I did not have time to hear more of their stories. I will attend my next high school reunion.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Rollin' in the Rain

As we said our good-by’s today, Judy casually said, “You just have to roll with it.”

Although she could have been referring to riding a segway, she was really referring to things not always going the way that we had hoped. We had hoped for a sunny beautiful day today but it rained instead.

At Oak Park Segway, we saw a very scary introductory movie with a stick figure showing all of the things that could cause a fall on a segway. By the time it finished, we were not very confident signing the release form. After all, none of us are less than 62 years!

But the wonderful couple, Cecelia and Luke Thorton, were patient and encouraging and gave us lots of time to practice.

We immediately liked Cecilia and Luke—owners/tour guides/teachers. They spoke kindly and with terms of endearment and respect to each other. It was no surprise upon further conversation to learn that they are believers.

When the rain started falling harder, they offered us red ponchos and then offered us a rain check to come back again on another day—even offering us an upgrade if we could come back during the week instead of on a weekend.

It wasn't long until all of us were feeling quite comfortable.
This is Tim—flying like Superman!

Our friends have a sense of adventure.

This is our proud “Look Mom [or kids] no hands!” photo.

What a blessing to have friends that are willing to “Roll with it!”

Saturday, September 17, 2011

# 7 The Headache Hazard

We have this very nice area under our new deck—not very tall—54 inches to be exact—perfect for something—perhaps to store supers.

So, after hubby finished extracting the last of the honey today,

he stacked a few supers in said area

and then he stood up.

. . . Which is why I am wearing a bike helmet and stacking supers under the deck.

Because experience is a good teacher.

However . . .

The good report for the day is that there were no—none—not any at all—wax moths in the supers today. Yay!

Also, my eye is much better. My drops are only every four hours today instead of every half hour.

A little ibuprofen for hubby and he is feeling good.

We just had one small Oops! to add to our growing beekeeping list.

All in all a very successful harvest.

Now we are done with the extracting and almost done cleaning. Yay!

Tonight we will go to the DuPage Beekeeper's Meeting and see how our fellow beekeeper's fared. There are bound to be some good stories.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Seeing and believing

This was our first honey extraction in our new garage. It worked well. We were thankful for good help. The job would not get done without Kevin. He is one of those people that see a job that needs doing and does it. In fact he sees it before most of us are aware it is going to need to be done. Bob and I think that we could do the work by ourselves but we would be at it for a very long time—probably weeks—with just the two of us.

We got a late start this year because of so many other activities that took precedence. Usually, we start on Labor Day weekend but we chose to go to a garage sale at my sister’s house instead.

Usually, we start early in the morning—this time we started in the afternoon because we went for a Suicide Prevention Walk with some other family members first.

When we did start, the kids had ballgames and practices and meets and other interests. Steven came and donated a few hours of hard work.

David showed up to be on bee patrol for a bit before his football game.

We only got in a couple hours of work on the first day. The second day we also could not start until the afternoon. Kevin graciously appeared again and then we gladly welcomed the help of Joe and Kathi and Jessica, too.

Joe did most of the uncapping and heavy lifting,

Bob ran the extractor. This is a bad picture. I did not take many pictures this year. It was at a rare moment when Kevin was sitting. Kevin barely took time for a bite to eat. He washed equipment and moved and scraped supers and mopped our ever sticky floor and did all kinds of dirty jobs.

The girls efficiently and tirelessly bottled honey.

When we quit for the day, we still had one short stack of supers to do. A few years ago, we would have worked until 10:00 pm or until the job was done but we tire more quickly now and when our help needed to go home towards late afternoon, Bob and I quit as well. We were tired.

I am paranoid about wax moths. We lost a couple of hundred pounds of honey early this season to wax moths because we brought the honey in and did not get around to extracting for a couple of weeks and the honey and frames were destroyed by wax moths. It was devastating.

I knew that Bob was going to be traveling and that we would have to let our honey sit for a week before we extracted. Being concerned about the wax moths, I brought pails, bottles and everything portable that we use to extract our honey into the house.

I covered everything else and used many very large plastic bags to cover our honey supers and seal them as tightly as possible.

Then I closed up the garage and set off a bug fogger. I saw a moth on Tuesday evening and so I set off another fogger. However just after I started it, I noticed something to bring inside. In my haste to retrieve it and get in the house, I knocked over the fogger—reached for it to set it upright and at the same time, the force of the spray turned it towards me and I got some spray in my left eye.

I went in and flushed my eye with contact solution and took out my contact and thought little else about it, figuring it would be fine in the morning—and it was—or so it appeared so I put in my contact lens and went to Bible study. At Bible study, my eye really began to seriously bother me. However, I could not take out my contact because I had not brought any reading glasses and reading is essential in a Bible study.

When I got home, I was very glad to take out my contact and wash my eye and continue with my day—particularly a hair appointment. It is too hard to reschedule and I was desperate for it. Following that, I went on to my tutoring class because they were depending on me. By the time I arrived home at 5:45, my eye looked disgusting and was hurting.

Today, I had an eye doctor appointment. I have a nasty eye infection and am putting drops in my eye every half hour. It is hard to get anything done as they sting a bit each time. I will see the eye doctor again in the morning. He says it should heal in a few days. I hope he is correct. I am very grateful to live in a place where doctors are accessible and knowledgeable. We are blessed!

The eye doctor said, my infection could be from the spray but perhaps not. He thinks it is more likely that I scratched my eye when removing my contact lens and had a mild abrasion which was a good entry point for the infection. In any case, I believe this is another beekeeping hazard. We have had many in the past so this just adds to our repertoire. Ben Franklin said, "Honey is sweet but the bee stings."

Today, I would not be a persuasive person to recruit new beekeepers to our hobby. They would take one look at me and run. But here on the blog, you can’t see me and I must say, “This fresh honey on toast is the best!”

I have been enjoying our fresh honey more than ever. It is delicious. I took some fresh honey in the comb for my tutoring kids to taste and to chew the wax. I told all of them, “You do not have to eat it. Try it, and if you don’t like it, please put it in your napkin and then in the waste can.” Every single one of them ate it—wax and all and asked for more. They asked if they could get a jar of honey for good behavior rewards on Friday. They can choose from all kinds of treats on Fridays, if they earn enough behavior points and they want honey!

I'm still a believer. Beekeeping is worth the risks.

Friday, September 9, 2011

On This Day . . .

I need to put a disclaimer on this post, at the very beginning. This is one of those personal trips down memory lane written in a public forum. It does seem a bit presumptuous to post it here. I'm counting on my experience being similar to other women. When I look back, I rejoice at what God has done.

Thirty six years ago, I gave birth to a son—my firstborn. It was an incredible experience. I was taken by surprise at the overwhelming love that I felt for him. I identified with Eve—as if I were the first person to ever give birth to a son. I could not stop smiling. One of the nurses handed me a note with his statistics—his weight and height and she wrote on the note, “He’s beautiful!”

I thought, “It’s not just me. She’s seen lots of babies and she thinks he is the most beautiful baby, also!”

I was embarrassed when I took Andy to church for the first time because I could not stop smiling. I tried to look modest but I was so happy. I imagined that everyone else was jealous of me and I felt sorry for them and so blessed that I had this beautiful child.

That thought lasted for a very long time. I remember when Dale and I would go look at our boys sleeping, just before we went to bed at night, we would marvel to each other over how cute they were. I wondered, “How did God take our very ordinary [at best] genes and create these two marvelous and adorable children?”

And now both of my sons are married and fathers—wonderful fathers of five beautiful children [combined]—three delightful boys and two very special little girls! Children truly are a blessing from the Lord.

Also, on this day . . . sixteen years ago, my husband, Bob, asked me to marry him. It was after a very long day and I was very tired. I had been a wedding coordinator for a Hawaiian couple and I needed to be a delicate arbitrator for a few small details. There were lots and lots of decorations to help take down and put away. My feet ached and I was exhausted. My hubby who was not yet my hubby had helped with many details and crawled around on the platform wiring for sound and making changes as part of the tech crew. I knew that he was tired also. So when at a late dinner, he said, “Will you marry me?” I responded in somewhat of a tired exasperated way, “Yes. I already told you, yes.” After that he dug a beautiful diamond ring out of his pocket that he had been carrying around all day. I was very surprised and immediately changed my attitude. He told me how hard it had been to wait until dinner to ask me. Oh my, I am so thankful that he didn’t change his mind. We wanted to share our excitement with someone and so we went and told Paul and D’Ann, my first husband’s brother and his wife. We knew that they would be glad with us.

Here is a picture of us when we were much younger, celebrating our engagement.

I’ve been remembering my son’s birthdays . . . the cakes. . .

Cubs games. . . and lots more . . .

I am very grateful for my husband who still loves me though he knows me and my flaws so very well.

September 9th . . . On this day, I like to remember.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

You just never know . . .

It started out with hubby worrying about the “junk” collecting in our [old] garage.

A day or two before the closing, he was concerned so he followed me in the other car and watched in amazement as I stuffed all in one vehicle.

Later at home, he graciously asked if I would have my feelings hurt if he repacked the van.

And since there was more room following his reorganization, I brought more things—and even he added a couple of items and the van was completely full to the very tip top. I had to stuff things like underwear and sleeping attire in corners and under the seat rather than packing a regular suitcase.

Then dear hubby insisted that he drive the packed, no-visibility car for the week prior to my sister’s garage sale—well—not really her garage sale—a garage sale that she reluctantly agreed to host for her out-of-town daughters on the designated day of the mother-of-all-garage sales in the Midwestern college town—or maybe it is a village where she lives.

The car was smelling stale, like the old dusty stuff and he was just being nice—he intimated but I have a strong suspicion that he was not sure—with good reason—if I knew how to drive a car using only side mirrors.

A day or two before departure, I confidently invited hubby to go with me to said garage sale, knowing quite well that he would refuse because I knew that he planned to pull honey but it seemed a nice thing to do—invite him, that is.

And then, he said, “Yes, I think I will go!”

Following that, I began a very persuasive campaign lasting several days to dissuade him.
He had too much work to do. When would he have another opportunity to pull honey.
It was predicted to rain anyhow.

He would be bored. It would be a lot of sitting around time and he is not used to that.
“I like sitting around.”

He would feel agitated.
He would not feel agitated, he would enjoy the family. He likes my family. He loves being with them.

It would be sad for him to waste a perfectly good opportunity to set up for extracting.
Maybe we could go home a day early.

It would complicate sleeping arrangements.
I am totally flexible and sleep fine on an air mattress anywhere but he does not.
“We can get a hotel room.”
I explained, that would negate the profit of the garage sale.
He would book the room on points.

I did not want him to go because I whole heartedly believed he would put a big damper on my fun.
I knew by then that sister Lou and sister Donna had both offered us lodging in their homes but . . .

I wanted to:
Leave when I wanted to leave and
Stay as long as I wanted to stay!

When traveling with children we frequently hear questions like, “How much longer?”

Not so with my hubby. He likes a road trip. It is when we arrive that the perpetual questions begin: "Are you about ready to leave?" "Do you know what time it is?" A couple of his favorites are: "When did I agree to this?" and "Remind me, why do we like this?" Or a question that I think reveals his age, "How can you stand all of this noise?" Finally he moves on to statements like, "I have a big day tomorrow.” And then one that always gets me, especially when it is MY family and MY friends that he is speaking about . . . “They are waiting for us to leave.” and “You go ahead and finish up; I’ll just go sit in the car and wait on you.”

So we came to an agreement and Hubby went with me to the first garage sale he has ever fully experienced—for two entire days!

I was wrong. He did not ask one of the above questions—not one!

He loved it! The whole weekend. The whole experience.

He thought it was a “Hoot!”

He loved people watching.

He particularly was amazed and tickled at all of the forms of transportation—

from mules, four wheelers, ATV’s, utility tractors, motorcycles, bikes, trailers, and more golf carts than you would see on a golf course in a summer season.

He loved the conversations, the food,

the camaraderie and the children—all of the things that I love about the event.

The children were particularly fun to watch!

Most of them motivated to earn money for a family vacation.

They were energetic, creative, tireless, and innovative in advertising and stopping cars and selling their wares.

I never heard a contentious word between them. They were a delight.

Hey relatives—don’t you adore Maddie’s new haircut? What a cutie!

All of our “good stuff” sold in the first hour and after that we continued to rake in quarters and occasional dollars.

I wonder if we intimidated some shoppers and buyers with all of our sellers and observers.

We ended up with a few things to toss, a few things to donate and even a couple of things to save but the sale was a huge success.

We were happy that the storms waited until after the last tables were returned and brought inside. It was hot, really hot but no one complained much although you can tell that by midafternoon, we all were feeling weary.

A good kind of weary.
And we had a happy ride home.