It’s four o’clock and I’m taking a break. Today has been mildly productive. It’s an unseasonably warm day so we took the opportunity to work on our bees a little bit. We opened up the hive and placed a couple of hive beetle traps inside for the winter. A while back we noticed a lone hive beetle scurrying about. Hopefully the traps, filled with cooking oil, will manage the beetles in the off-season. It was strange when we approached the hive because there were a ton of bees outside the hive flying in and out. I guess they figured it was a warm day so they should cram in as much work as possible, too. I even saw a few with the last remnants of pollen, taken from our otherwise drab, brown, lifeless fields.
To help protect the bees from harsh winter temperatures I cut up a 4×8 sheet of 2″ thick rigid insulation, forming a “box” that I will eventually place over the outside of the hive. I’m covering all six sides of the hive, and will leave a 3″ slit up front for the bees to get in and out. I used 2-1/2″ drywall screws to join the pieces of insulation. I’m guessing that will be fine. Also I pounded in stakes every four feet, about ten feet away from the southwest corner of the hive to act as a wind break. The prevailing winds come from the southeast in that part of the north meadow, so I think this will help. Christine will span burlap from post to post before we get too much cold weather and snow. Once again, we’ll see how this worlds and adjust as necessary in the future. My theory is they are bees so they should be able to survive the winter without help. I also think that bee hives can probably be made differently or insulated better for year round protection. Why not employ passive solar techniques like the ones we use for our home. We bring the house up to temperature and the passive solar tactics keep the temperature there. I think it’s worth looking into for bee hives, at least from a design and experimentation perspective. The example in nature I would think of would be an old rotted tree that bees naturally live in, with air spaces and plenty of insulating qualities; certainly better insulated than a wooden box.
While outside our son wasn’t having much luck “building a house” out of the lumber scraps in the driveway. So I begrudgingly grabbed my screw gun and the last of my outdoor screws (I’m an awful parent, my neurotic behavior makes me want to get my to do list done first so I can fully enjoy my family time – but my list will never be done so….cats n the cradle, blah, blah, blah). Putting my busy list aside, he and I worked together to construct a sad-looking hovel next to the driveway in about a half hour. We ran out of decent wood, and screws, but the end product looked good enough for a small boy with a big imagination. We even put a board on its side on a “window sill” to act as a place to rest a drink. It got me thinking, making a fort by just fasting random boards together assures that whatever you make has a home-made, eclectic quality that probably does wonders for the imagination, as opposed to planning everything out. I didn’t cut a single board or use any tool other than our hands, our eyes and the screw gun. We built it on the fly and I’m sure the results are all the better for it. I’m kind of thinking that when we go to do the “real” fort in the woods, next year hopefully, I may do something very similar. Maybe spend some more time on a solid framework but then after that just do whatever. It gets the kids involved more with the design decisions, and makes quick work of the project, and the final product always will look like something you couldn’t have imagined.
Back inside, this afternoon, I finished clear coating the studio adjustable shelves. My advisor says I can probably start putting things away and not have to wait a full week for the poly to cure; just be careful to place items, not drag them. So maybe I’ll do that after I’m done writing.
I also started painting the last kitchen cabinet, the one above the coffee center. We’re painting it black. We shall see if we like it.
The wife has made huge progress whipping the house back into shape inside. And we also discussed the plates. I’m waffling so we’re going to go back out soon and see if we want to get something different. The new plates are too deep we feel. If we cooked like Martha Stewart every night making magazine quality food the plates would be perfect, but in reality serving tuna casserole on them would seem odd, even to us. Something just as eclectic, just maybe a bit shallower.
So we are accomplishing things. And we are even finding it easy (and necessary) to say “time for a break” to ourselves, grabbing some random leftover supplies and making a fort (a shack is more like it) for a little boy to enjoy. As I always say, this is the “life” part of life. It’s tough to appreciate it at the time, at least for me, when there are things to do and bills to pay. Trust me, the irony that I might be making a shack not too dissimilar to the one I erected today for us to live in soon, was not lost on me as I passed each screw through wood. But we manage and keep plugging away. I’m fairly confident the boys are living a blessed, memorable childhood that very few in this, horrific at times, world get to have. Hopefully they will look back as adults with fondness for these times. Really that is all we can do as parents.
I’m lucky as well, because my time is my own. I read a great article in the Cleveland PD, via the NY Times (here) that alluded to the richness in owning your time. It’s worth a read. While my responsibility is greater than some musician living week to week (we actually live week to week, but I can’t play the guitar), I’m not stuck in some rat race with dreams of retiring someday to do what I love. I’m basically doing what I love now, and doing what I have to out of necessity to survive. I know I will never retire. It’s nothing I aspire to, and I know it will never happen. I will work until the very last day I take a breath. Not because I love work, it’s just that the traditional model that society created years ago isn’t really relevant to how we live now. I was fine playing the game, but then the game decided it didn’t need me so we adjust. We evolve. We design a new game. On any given day I can build a hovel, or goto the zoo, or work for 22 hours straight. I can write, read, paint, raise bees, run for dog catcher, or start any number of random companies if the mood strikes. Seriously, who do you know has that degree of freedom? Is it happiness and rainbows every day? Hell no. But that’s how it goes. And don’t get me wrong, we’re not destitute. It’s just less linear and predictable. Point is every day is a new adventure. So when I get to the end, and they’re figuring out which tree in the yard to cast my ashes around, the universe can rest assured I lived a rich, storied and colorful life. Which about all that can really be asked of any one of us.
Alright it’s 5 o’clock. Time for a beer – plus I’m going to jump the gun and start organizing and decorating my art studio. Exciting times indeed. At least for me. 🙂