Today I took some time out to dry some leaves and pine needles. Let me explain: Yesterday we checked the beehives and when the smokers needed refilling we discovered that, oops, we had no dry leaves to put in them.
The rain of the past few days had done its work, and despite plenty of matches and a fire-lighting thingie, no smoke would emerge. Now, standing next to two open hives of agitated bees, without a good smoker to keep them pacified is, um, a tad uncomfortable. Bees have a way of crawling inside one’s shirt.
So we buttoned everything down fast and headed for open ground. The good news was that we also removed a piece of new comb that was being built at an odd angle. This was about a third filled with fresh nectar, the stuff that bees store before it becomes honey, and it is fragrant, light, delicious and … so much more. It’s also a bit like a high concentration energy drink. Wow! Someone should market this stuff, with an appropriate warning label.
Even though it All Ended Well I’m taking no chances next time. I have trays of pine needles and leaves drying in the sun. Bees, it seems, respond best to smoke that is not hot, and not made from petroleum products because they don’t like the smell. They’re particular about that. That’s one reason you can’t really use a great fat cigar, either. Not that I would, personally. Who can blame the bees for wanting gentle smoke? Hence the usefulness of leaves.
So I’m prepared for the second wave of bee tending. I wish I could say the same about that other second wave….
The lockdown is easing in some parts of the country (although Texas and Arizona aren’t in that category) and I find that certain tasks I have happily ignored until now suddenly become possible, even imperative.
For example, the leak around the windshield on my car needs fixing. Until now it hasn’t really been possible, but with the change in circumstances I suppose I have to address it. And the dining room table has been very unsatisfactory for a long, long time, but now I have no excuses left for not getting a replacement. The chimney’s needed a cap for years, too. And so the list continues.
Luckily the July 4th holiday is approaching and I can put things off for a few more days.
Personal fulfillment or worldly success - that was the theme that echoed through several counseling meetings I had over the last few days. Alas, ours is a culture that holds worldly success as sacred. Why else would we have a ‘president’ who stresses winning at all costs, and being great (and so on)? Why else would we have that haunting picture of a couple brandishing their guns at a peaceful demonstration, determined to protect their opulent home against an imagined threat?
And yet, it’s hard to believe that money is all there is. What is becoming increasingly obvious to many of us is that personal indulgence has a way of encroaching on others’ human rights. My feeling of entitlement to certain luxuries does not out-vote the needs of certain other people, whose daily needs are not being met.
Don’t tell that to our gun-toting citizens, though. They have sacrificed to the gods of wealth, and they believe only in the holiness of their amassed fortunes. What they don’t believe in is happiness, or love, or anything much except their grasp on money.
I am sad for such people, because I recognize in myself that I am attached to my physical comforts. I am just like them in many ways. How can we say to ourselves, as well as to others, that a new world is waiting to be born, and that it may require us to relinquish certain things?
The answer is pretty simple, actually. Without some happiness, some love, some connection to others, the physical trappings of this world aren’t worth very much.
The State, in its wisdom, is saying that it expects to open schools in September, with students wearing face coverings all the time, and teachers potentially instructing from doorways, also while wearing face masks. Really? And how do we think that would work for the five year olds? And the fifteen year olds?
Rather than walk into that horror show I think many parents will get together to form small home schools. Not all can do this, of course, but some will, and some are already planning for it. Can you imagine it? I can. Small classes, lots of time to ask questions and go on tangents, no standardized ‘testing’, no busy work, and far less of the seven hours of prison a day most children experience. As for the social skills that one gets by being in the playground, well, those can still be learned in smaller groups. And with luck the anti-social skills - like bullying and victimizing and racism - won’t be learned, at all.
We can transform education from child-warehousing into something far better, one small group at a time.
Interestingly, Harvard, which would normally expect thousands of students from all over the globe, has cancelled the Fall semester.
And, BTW teachers are not expendable. Asking them to risk their lives for that level of pay is revolting.
The US currently has recorded 2.5 million cases that require treatment, with over 120,000 deaths and …. Well, you know the facts as well as anyone. Open the schools? I’m not so sure that’s a great idea.
Today brought some bee activity and a lesson. What I didn’t know was just how sticky beeswax is. Trying to clean up was an unexpected struggle.
Hot water, scrub, scour, more hot water; repeat.
How, I wondered, did people living on farms with a million other tasks manage this?
As a white male of a certain class I had always just paid my $4 and bought a jar of honey. Now, seeing up close just how sticky and awkward bee products could be, I began to recognize that things that for me were easy, were for many others a real struggle.
I needed to be reminded that food production depends upon a lot of repetitive and messy tasks that I as a rule do not have to face. The pollinators of this world need attention and support, and it’s not just distant appreciation. It’s hands on, dirty, sticky and a nuisance. And without it there wouldn’t be much food.
I link this to our political situation. For too long I, and many like me, assumed all the necessary work would be done by the politicians we voted for. That didn’t happen quite as planned, did it?
A word about the media –some media, I should say. I hope we all understand that some branches of our media love to relay bad, dramatic and scary news. This type of content improves their ratings, so they can sell more advertising. My best friend was a news man (he was killed in Iraq, reporting) and he freely admitted that he and his colleagues got paid extra for a really bad news-type story. Things haven’t changed since then.
The astonishing thing is that we pay for this. We buy tv sets and pay for cable channels and on-line news. We pay to be scared. No wonder the blockbuster Netflix series all seem to involve scary situations. I doubt that this is entirely good for our health.
And we pay for this. Aren’t we silly?
We need a responsible and independent news media -- of course we do. We don’t need a lot of what we seem to be getting these days.
I feel that with the 100th entry there ought to be a fanfare or something, but alas, I don’t think so. At 100 days in, the covid figures are surging in all kinds of places. Many of those places are the same locations that refused to take masks and safe spaces seriously. In other words, this isn’t the second wave. This is still the first wave.
Our ‘president’ seems to have abandoned the issue. Bored, no doubt, with not having something to talk about that involves winning or being the best, he’s slunk off stage. Thanks for the leadership.
Angela Merkel has announced that we should not assume that the USA wants to be a major power or role model in the years ahead. Because, my dears, it certainly isn’t one now.
We may as well get used to that.
Leaderless, we can begin to make a few decisions of our own. We can decide to wear masks and exercise social distancing. We can decide that Black Lives truly do matter. We can face the fact that this pandemic is going to be here for a lot longer than anyone in ‘authority’ is telling us. We can take care of making our immune systems stronger by not eating toxic junk. We can pay attention to the underlying truth that the rules of almost everything have changed in various subtle and less subtle ways.
Bicycles. I’ve spent the last few days re-furbishing various bicycles for my small granddaughters as well as for myself and my wife so we can keep up with them when we go along the river path. This has meant claiming dumped/trashed bicycles, going onto craigslist for free parts and so on, and then assembling said parts. It’s been fun. It’s re-cycling.
What I’ve noticed is that more people than ever are using bicycles around my town. With the covid-19 decrease in passenger vehicle use, riding has become less of an exercise in avoiding self-annihilation and more of a statement of keeping fit while not being on public transport with public germ-exchange.
I sense this whole drive-to-work thing is fading, and fast, in cities.
One of the tid-bits that came my way today was that archaeologists have discovered what appears to be a huge circle of holes, 15 feet deep by 30 feet across, on a radius of about 1000 feet, constructed by the people who built Stonehenge, around the monument called Woodhenge. Some twenty of these holes have survived and more are being explored. The things we don’t know are, well, astonishing.
It occurs to me that while Bolsonaro is busy killing off Amazonian tribes, and the US is energetically trying to eradicate Native Americans, that there’s plenty we just don’t know about what appear to have been peaceful, organized and very spiritually aware societies. These might well have been societies superior to our own, out-of-step-with-Nature society, our grab-the-money-at-all-costs “civilization”, our strange world that has produced our ‘president’.
Indigenous cultures: they’re fading fast. We’ll miss them when they’re gone.
Perhaps when they’re almost extinct, like Giant Pandas, we’ll take the time and trouble to learn from them. And, then, if we’re paying close attention they’ll show us the way back to the best version of ourselves.
Today was Father’s Day – admittedly a Hallmark holiday, but let’s not throw it aside for all that. For me it included messages of love and a visit from my granddaughters, 5 and 7, who were very excited to wish me a Happy Grampy Day.
I had built them a “Fairy House”. That’s what the picture is.
Family, however constituted, is the support structure that allows us to survive our earliest days, and, with luck, helps to guide us thereafter until they help us navigate our last days. It’s a reminder that we’re not all about ourselves, but that we need others. Psychologists tell us in no uncertain terms that separating families is one of the cruelest things one can do, guaranteeing a blight on all members.
So I choose to remember Father’s Day and all those family days because they let me recognize how much we all need each other, and that alone, isolated, smug in ourselves we’ll be bound for catastrophe.
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