Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The State of FL vs.....

... a DUI chick.

Yup, I've been picked. Jury Duty.

I spent the entire day at the courthouse yesterday, waiting, and waiting, watching my tax dollars get pissed down the river. Not only did the snack bar lunch wreck my insides, my brain was swollen and my last nerve frayed after listening to a state attorney and a local TV-trial attorney question potential jurors for a case they'll be representing. Lucky me, I was selected. I couldn't believe it, nor could some of my fellow jurors after they heard my retorts. But I must have charmed the legal eagles because I'll have my happy ass at the courthouse again on Friday.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

A Good Sign of Things to Come

When I think of bees, I think of buzzing. When I think of buzzing, I think of being stung. When I think of being stung, I sometimes think back to that day when I intentionally stomped on a bee to experience a bee sting for the first time. But more times than not, I think back to that day when I unintentionally punted a football directly into a hornet's nest. I ran for what felt like three states, trying, unsuccessfully, to avoid getting stung. A couple (or maybe a couple gazillion) hornets got tangled in my hair and all I could hear was buzzing. Loud, angry buzzing. After that, all I could feel was extreme pain. My ear and the side of my face were swollen, red and hot by the time I ran the three blocks back to my house. From that day on, I have acted like I was on fire when I'd hear a buzz getting near me. Stop, drop, roll!

Fast forward to a couple years ago. While visiting the quiet community of Wewahitchka (home of the movie Ulee's Gold) I had my first encounter with loud buzzing bees, honey and the life and work of an apiary. Much to my surprise, I was able to endure the close presence and perpetual buzzing of the bees. I wasn't so sure I'd have the fortitude to withstand such a hostile environment, but I did. (Yeah! GO ME!) Part of it was vanity. The simple truth was I didn't want to look like what I know I could have looked like had I allowed myself to react in a fearful manner. Envision Seinfeld's Elaine dancing on ice. It just wouldn't have been pretty.

Since that visit with Don Smiley, I have held an interest in beekeeping. I am intrigued by honey harvesting and beeswax by-product as well as contributing to plant pollination. I think if there is such a thing as a "sign", I had a good one a couple days ago while watering the garden. As soon as the sprinkles started to fall, several honey bees gathered to drink. Some walked along the saturated soil and many flew to the lettuce where pools and puddles of water formed on the leaves. Their timing was remarkable since I'd decided to enroll in a hands-on Backyard Beekeeper Short Course offered by the University of Florida. A good sign, indeed.

When my recent Tupelo honey order arrived from Smiley's Apiary, I remembered an interview I heard with author Holley Bishop. She was on NPR a few months ago promoting her book, Robbing the Bees. I found her enthusiasm for beekeeping contagious. Like her, I plan on managing a couple of hives in the backyard for honey extraction. It is also my intention to use beeswax for candle making. The keeping of bees will be beneficial for me as I learn a few new crafts but it will be highly beneficial for the gardens and flowering plants nearby. Apparently, a couple of natural enemies of the honey bee are limiting the number of natural colonies in this part of the state. I will be proud to protect these hard workers and to promote pollination in my neighborhood. I really like the thought of being a part of a solution.

** click on the photo for a larger image

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

All About the Romance

Yup, I'm all about the romance. When asked "What would you like for Valentine's Day?" I replied, without pause, "a worm bin". So folks, as usual, I'm getting what I want: a worm bin AND one pound of worms!

I hear the collective *sigh* of envy.

Actually, vermicomposting is quite beneficial for folks, like us, who are maintaining gardens. It takes little effort and is a much better option than disposing most kitchen/food wastes in a landfill. There are cities and universities actively promoting the value of these wonderful wigglers. It's another way, a simple way, of decreasing our footprint.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

My What a Big Foot I Have

I'm sorry to report that my footprint is 17. I AM making changes to reduce that footprint and that process started prior to taking the quiz. I want to reduce my number of planets from 3.8. :(

With that in mind, how about a lettuce update?
This was the lettuce last week so imagine it even BIGGER this week! I expect harvest in another week or so. No driving to the grocery to buy lettuce that was grown and chemically treated more than 200 miles from here.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Postmark: Antarctica

A few months ago, I received an email from a Canadian named Jason Shim. Apparently, I'd mailed him a postcard through PostCardX a long time ago. He remembered receiving that postcard and offered to send one to me from the bottom of the Earth. He was pursuing a dream of his by visiting Antarctica and was kind enough to include me on his mailing list. His postcard arrived last week, a first for me! Never have I received mail from that continent! How exciting! *mail nerd, yes, I know*

The timing of the postcard was uncanny considering I'd just watched March of the Penguins. Jason has a photo of a penguin protecting its egg which relates directly to the film. I strongly recommend viewing that photo and his many others here. They're absolutely fantastic! I'm sure his experience was even more fantastic. Congrats to Jason for holding on to a dream and making it happen!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Good Monday Morning

I woke up wrapped in the aroma of fresh baked bread. No, I didn't crawl under a table and doze off at Panera's.... we baked bread from scratch last night and the aroma lingered til morning. Not bad for first-timers! I was a bit leery since I failed miserably using a bread machine. The recipe was for "Homemade Bread" and sounded simple enough so we were willing to forget all of the bread machine debacles and go for the real deal. There is half of one loaf left. I think we liked how it turned out.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

How Does Our Garden Grow?

The wheelbarrow with yard soil/sand. Peat moss, composted cow manure and a few other natural nutrient promoters were added to the plot. The veggies have 18" of yummy goodness to feed on. A cloche was constructed from PVC tubing to cover the garden from freezing temps. We've actually had a few nights that required protecting the tender plantings.
These pictures were taken mid-December (when the cedar posts were purchased and laid down as framing for the raised-bed garden) and last week. Planting was done January 2 and twenty days later, I was nibblin' on baby leaf lettuces. They've been thinned and are continuing to grow along with carrots, onions and broccoli.

By the way, I l-o-v-e the cedar frame! When the cloche cover is removed, the garden has the warm aroma of cedar... it's wonderful! I am also very fond of the reddish coloring. The wood is not chemically treated and it naturally deters weather deteriation and insect damage.