Sunday, October 30, 2016

In The Meantime

Back in the 1990's, one of Oprah Winfrey's friends (also known as a FOO, or Friend Of Oprah) wrote a book titled "In The Meantime." It was a book for women about relationships, and was good in a New-Age-y, self-esteem-y kind of way. It talked a lot about being "in the meantime" until you found your soulmate. People talked about soulmates a lot in the 80's and 90's. I blame Ronald and Nancy Reagan, as well as every crappy book ever written by either Richard Bach or a FOO.

Anyway, that phrase, "in the meantime," has been sticking in my head a lot recently, and it's not about my chakras aligning so perfectly that I attract the perfect mate into my life. He's here already, thank goodness, a little grumpy on occasion but Eastern European DNA and a stressful job will do that to you. And perhaps he's also grumpy because we are both smack dab in the middle of what I'm calling our Meantime Experience.

A Meantime Experience happens when you are between places, jobs, or anything else; it's a point in your life which you will look back on someday and see a big line in the sand between "before" and "after." But you can't see the line right now because you don't have the perspective, so it's a little like trying to see those giant south American Nazca Lines from ground level. You could be on a line and not even know it. 

 A Meantime Experience can be bad -- people go through divorce or health concerns in The Meantime, and I feel it's important right away to state those things are NOT the case with us. We're blessed, certainly, to not be facing them.

But we have seen some possible signs that our life here is going to be changing soon. And unfortunately, because the internet is a very public place, I can't say more than that. Which is why blog postings have been a little sparse recently. Sometimes when you can't say anything, you say nothing.

But I can talk about what it's like to be in the meantime.  You basically stop investing in your current life (beyond the minimums) because you don't want to throw time, energy and money into something that isn't going to be in your life forever. You don't know exactly for sure where you are going to end up, which is a strange feeling in and of itself. 

In the 40 years the Israelites wandered around the Middle East, they were having one whopper of a meantime experience, whether you believe the actual story or that it's a metaphor for Life. By day, a cloud shaded them and kept them cool, and by night a pillar of fire kept them warm. But God indicated to them it was time to move by moving the cloud and the pillar. In other words, they had to pack up and follow their comfort if they wanted to survive. They'd get a little overheated, and realize it was time to go. The cloud of shade had moved on and was calling them onward with it.

I know that feeling. The cloud could stay here a week, or another decade, but we're definitely getting the impression that it's moving, and so we have to be ready to go, too. 

In the meantime, and I do really mean that phrase, we are making our best attempt to enjoy the present. A nice dinner out, a day working in the garden at the winery, a beautiful sunset and the changing colors in the vineyards are things I'm savoring and will probably be sharing more of in the weeks to come.

But serious plantings? Renovations? No, probably not. Because "in the meantime" days are not the ones where you nest, dig in and pull up the drawbridge. They are where you eye the horizon and pack lightly. And watch the clouds.

Welcome to my meantime, friends. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Way to be, bees!

Yesterday the Bee Lady came to take care of moving our hive. And I got to don a beekeepers outfit, long gloves, and help out!  I have always believed I was somehow meant to live in a society where I could wear an elegant hat with a veil, and I think perhaps I've found a way to do that now. Plus with all the velcro tabs and elastic on the suit, at no time did I ever feel my bee allergy would become an issue. I felt very safe.

The first thing she did was start cutting comb from the hive, which was more well-formed (and had therefore been there longer) than we thought. She placed the combs into the bee box my boss owns and began moving the hive over. She allowed me to have a small piece of honeycomb, which I took inside. It was, hands down, the best honey I've ever had in my life. And since it came from the plants and flowers in my garden, it meant far more to me than any store-bought honey could.

As you can see (above), they were well ensconced in the base of the water fountain. They certainly made a pretty hive, didn't they? It was a shame we had to cut it up and move it. But obviously this was not a good long term place for them, for many reasons, the biggest of which is that they had no protection from ants, being so close to the ground. Silly bees.

Eventually she moved a lot of the comb over but was unable to get the queen without more specialized equipment. So we decided to leave it as is and wait until tomorrow.

Then last night at sunset, all the bees flew off, back to their original hive (the one this offshoot hive came from), someplace west of here. I stood next to the bee box as one by one, they all took off to the west and did not come back.  I was crushed.

But this morning they returned! I guess overnight sleepovers at other hives are permitted. And now I'm just waiting for the Bee Lady to arrive again and get our queen moved over. I still have no idea if this will be a successful move or not, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

And yes, as you can probably guess, I am now hooked on bees. Look for bees to find a permanent place on our property as soon as it can reasonably be done!

Friday, October 14, 2016

About a Hive

The hive's within.
So we now have a the base of our backyard decorative fountain. This is the thing about living in the country -- you never know what you're going to get. You might have deer, a fox or even a mountain lion roaming your property. Or you might go outside one day and find a hive of bees has decided your yard is the address where they want to make their home.

Which I think is kind of an honor, actually. Talk about creating a bee-friendly habitat -- that moment when 500 or so of them arrive and let you know you've done it right is a great feeling.

Point of entry.

Our bees arrived en masse a few days ago, and unfortunately, set up shop in what (of course) is a totally inconvenient and unsafe place for them to stay. Being that it's inside the base of the fountain, it's highly susceptible to an ant invasion, and of course is impossible to manage the honey production safely.

But the thing is, I love these bees.  I'm also allergic to their sting, to the point where I keep an epi-pen on hand when I'm in the garden, so most of my bee enjoyment tends to be in small doses, and from a safe distance. I will never be a beekeeper for this reason, and the hive cannot remain where it is for that reason as well. But I'm still happy the bees chose us.

But what to do with them was a conundrum.

It didn't take me long to come up with a solution. Because you know who else loves bees, to a point where he actually has a beekeeper's outfit and beekeping equipment? My boss at the winery, that's who. He had a hive until last year, when the queen died and the minions deserted the bee box, and he's been looking for a replacement hive ever since.  And now he has one. Mine. 

Better Homes for bees.

It turns out this hive is an offshoot -- excess product if you will -- from a much larger hive which exists someplace on this property (I don't know where, but it's certainly not in the way of anything and therefore no danger to me). So this new hive can be moved and we will still have plenty of bees here.

So next week, we have an apiarist coming to remove the hive from the fountain and put it into the winery bee box. Then we will move it away from here, down the road to the winery, where they can hopefully live out their days and make lots of honey.

Ready for occupancy!

It's not a done deal yet, and it may be trickier than we've all imagined (isn't it always?) but I'll keep you up to date as we go and let you know what happens to these awesome little guys. They are a mellow bunch, not even minding when I get close to take pics of them, so I think they'll make a great addition to the winery. And, you know, if they ever do get a little grumpy, there's plenty of Cabernet on hand to settle them down again. Hey, it works for people.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Acquisitions and Harvests

Still blooming.
Well, things around the homestead have settled down nicely in the time since I've last blogged.

We measured and saw that we now have 100 feet of standing water above our well pump, which in a time of drought is a very good thing and gives us confidence of good water for years to come. 

Partial autumn harvest. and gorgeous corn

The pumpkin harvest came in in fits and starts, but we probably got at least 50 pounds worth of orange-y goodness, which will keep us in pies, soups and bread this year.  And my "glass gem" corn is ready to harvest and is prettier than I ever imagined it would be. Really, it is amazing! I am saving enough to plant next year, and giving a lot away to friends who are suitably impressed when I show it to them (amazing how I can work the phrase, "would you like to see my rare corn?" into so many conversations.)

"Have you seen my rare corn?"

My other news is a great boon for us...we are now in escrow for the 2 1/2 acres of property which lies directly to the west of ours. It's a large, unimproved west-facing slope that allows the entire hill to belong to one owner -- us. It's great for two reasons: First, because it guarantees our view into perpetuity -- no one can ever build on it and obstruct our views of the Coast Range, which from our back porch runs from San Luis Obispo all the way up to Cone and Serra Peaks in Big Sur (truly, we have one of the best views in the county but up until this moment, it could have vanished if the lot next door to us sold to someone who wanted to build at the top of the hill). 

The other boon for us is that our septic leach field is located on this other property, which could cause huge problems if it was ever owned by someone other than us!  This is something we did not realize until after we moved in, and so it's been a little tense figuring out just how to deal with it.

And both those things will make our place a better real estate value, always a good thing to know in uncertain financial times, which I think we've basically been living in since 2008 or even 2001, depending on where you sit on the Pessimism Scale.

I'm on the Optimism Scale and enjoying it!

Our view is too large to fit. Graphic design folk, turn your head.