Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Peaceful Rose of Sharon

   When you feel peaceful, does that feeling have a color? Or a texture, or a fragrance, or a sound? Does your inner peace taste like anything you can describe? When you remember your peace at a needful moment, do you contrast it against a certain pain to enhance the pleasure, or is it strong enough on its own?

  Gardens personify peace and beauty for me, as do both sparkling cleanliness and coconut cream pie. And also perfect coffee. Sunsets, especially when they can be enjoyed at leisure, following plenty of satisfying work, are symphonic in their expression of peace. Feeling and savoring that sweet, buttery, succulent, breezy, warm, perfumed, humming, musical, sparkling nucleus of peacefulness is a gift. Peace is a gift I do not take lightly in the face of so many storms in life.

   For a while I felt incredible guilt in celebrating sensuality so much, in noticing, craving, and magnifying the physical details of this world as much as I loved to do, as if they could somehow steal richness and gravity from the spiritual rivers that run around and through us. But then I felt and accepted that every spiritual urging seemed to have a physical parallel, or at least a physical expression. A sensual translation exists for every unseen emotion I have ever felt, how about you? 

   And so it goes with peace. Thankfully, the spectrum of colors and flavors and other wonderful expressions of peace are vast. Tonight, as I watched the sun sink behind the back field and the dense storm clouds gathered for a second night in a row, I caught a glimpse of  the dark pink Rose of Sharon right outside my kitchen window. Despite the storm, she stands here resolutely, gracefully, in full bloom. 

   Mahatma Gandhi once said, "Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace, to be real, must be unaffected by outside circumstances." Clearly we are not islands. We are very much affected by outside circumstances and we also can be or bring about the outside circumstances that affect others. But finding and celebrating inner peace that flows and radiates despite difficulties, this is beautiful.

   The Lazy W is not without storms, both meteorological and spiritual. But we have been blessed with an abundance of beauty and peace. We have our eyes open to the ocean of grace and creation from which we came ourselves. And we know that while storms are always brewing, so is life and so is peace. I don't have to look very far to be reminded and comforted by a thousand physical expressions of Love.

"Peace is its own reward."

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Wedding in Instagram

 Hey you guys! Remember how we had no personal photos of the wedding we hosted here two Saturdays ago? Well, thanks to my friend Marci, who along with her darling offspring and gentleman beau also helped a ton with Brian & Rebecca's wedding, we have a few more photos at our disposal. She shared her Instagram snap shots with me, and I am sharing them with you. Thanks again Marci!!

   Incidentally, these are some of the best visuals of a few of the Pinterest projects we chose as a group.

   This sign is cool because the picket itself came from my Dad. Mysti stenciled the lettering. Susan painted over the stenciling in white. Handsome nailed it all together and sank it into the rock hard earth. Juliana helped me decorate it after sunset the night before the wedding. And now Brian, the new groom, has placed it in the happy couple's new garden! A team effort if ever there was one.

   Here is the beautiful bride making her gentle way down the aisle. Rebecca looked incredible and treated everyone with love and warmth, from the first wedding conversation a month ago till the last minute of the wild reception. And do you see the blue hydrangeas? Debbie brought two such gorgeous arrangements to mark the aisle. The day was so windy that we had to place a thousand rocks at the base of each one but everything turned out just fine. Also, you can see Luis, the talented photographer in the background. Have you watched his artistic slideshow yet? Beautiful.

   Here we have the precious 8-year-old Juliana and the slightly less precious 38-year-old me. The previous night we had agreed to both wear sock buns, a'la Pinterest of course. This little girl was not only a LOT of help; she was also a true joy to have flitting around the farm, and I think she made fast friends with Madison, Rebecca's sweet little girl. Hey there's Luis again!

   Who has two thumbs and is a sucker for blurred white twinkle lights??? This guy. Oh, and here is one way we used the four million coffee-filter poms sewn and fluffed out by Jacqueline, Susan, Rebecca, Marci, and probably more wonderful ladies. 

   This was hands down my personal favorite part of the wedding decor. Our exuberant Oklahoma wind really made the most out of these free-form blue and white tree streamers, wildly installed by Juliana and her big brother Koby. Later that Saturday night, we had some pretty hefty thunderstorms, and so these fluffy tissue beauties became shrunken, pasted beauties. But the effect was wonderful for the special day, and I will definitely be doing this again.

   Rebecca's nephew cut dozens of sheet music triangles, and Debbie and Susan constructed yards and yards of these paper pennants for decorating the reception trees. 

   We placed various succulents and potted ivies along with sand-and-candle-filled mason jars throughout the reception. The tables were all dressed in old linens and lace, borrowed from so many generous ladies.

   Dusty was feeling amorous that day.

   And apparently he was rubbing off on Daphne.

   What a relief to have a few more photos. What a fun collection of projects. And most importantly, what a memory-rich day. 


Friday, May 25, 2012

Five Senses Tour in the Bee Yard

   This morning I ushered in my last work day before a long weekend 
sitting out near the bees, about fifteen feet from their hives. 
I got very nearly lost in thought and forgot time for a while. 
Here are some things I noticed...

See: The translucent moon still lingering in the western sky, obscured sometimes by clouds. Reflections of those clouds on the pond. Pale yellow moths or maybe butterflies dancing on the breeze in front of me. Bees thick at the entrance to each hive, crowding each other, then spiraling out into the early morning pastels. The Pine Forest layered and bright behind the bee yard. Some of the trees in there stripped clean of their bark by rutting deer.

Hear: Chickens clucking and skittering through fallen leaves and pine needles. Roosters crowing when they find a meal. Daphne and Dusty giving those sweet, breathy horse ruffles. Behind me, nearer the smoke house, a menagerie of wild birds singing to each other in the tree tops.

Touch: Matted grass, wildflowers, and some short weeds on the sloped middle field where I sit. Light breeze on my arms. Goosebumps when Dusty sneaks up behind me and nuzzles my shoulder. I love that dang horse so much.

Taste: The last swallow of sweet, creamy coffee, no longer hot but still delicious. Something weird and tangy when I lick my finger, then I remember I groomed a tomato plant on my way downhill.

Smell: The sharp, grassy fragrance of dried manure, chlorine suddenly wafted down from the pool, and a new perfume: crushed larkspur seeds still on my fingers. Also pine needles and horse breath.

Feel: Overwhelmed and undeserving. Content and restless.

Think: Of the future, of the many wild, wonderful possibilities for our girls, for Handsome's career, for this little farm... but also of how beautiful the present moments always are, of how good and strong life is. Of how powerful Love proves itself to be every single time.

Happy weekend, everyone!
Soak up the details. Marinate in them.
Know that choosing joy now 
does not mean you are giving up on future dreams;
you're only preparing to appreciate them even more
when they finally come true.

Feed Your Faith
Enjoy Your Life

Thursday, May 24, 2012

How I Know My Husband Doesn't Listen to Me

   I walked outside early this morning to slip an empty pizza box in our concave burn pile, knowing that tonight we will be lighting it. Pizza boxes are excellent fire fodder, after all. And look what I discovered...

   An almost brand new wooden palette laying defeatedly on top of some dried pear tree branches.

   I would never have done this, you guys. not in my sleep, not while heavily medicated, not even under threat of bodily harm. 

   Any sane person who listens to his wife and pays attention to the wisdom of up-cycling would never so nonchalantly toss a perfectly good, plenty strong and usable wooden palette into a fire pit! Who's with me on this? 

   Well, Handsome is on his way to the Commish now, and I have the farm to myself for the next eight to fifteen hours. So as soon as this coffee mug is empty and the animals are fed and I iron a few shirts, I have some important business that needs tending. Some up-cycling, palette-saving, creativity-nourishing type business. 

   What would YOU do with this palette? Would you make it into a vertical growing space? Or cut it apart for skinny little book shelves? Or would you find a few more just like it and stack them and add casters to make an awesome coffee table? Or how about a super cool head board? Or a spice rack? 

   See, babe? The possibilities for this simple piece of carpentry are just endless. You don't need it for fire fodder. We have pizza boxes for that. I love you, but I am gonna have to reclaim this palette. Like, today.

P.S. I'm Only Kidding, He Listens to Me Until it Hurts.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Some Photos from the Wedding

   Perhaps you heard the unfortunate rumor that both Handsome and I failed to charge our cameras before the much anticipated Saturday afternoon wedding. Is that the saddest thing you have heard all day? Sorry. But it's true. All I took is a couple of Instagram shots, and so far only two other candids have surfaced from our friends. Surely more are out there, right, you guys??? Umm, guys?

   Anyway, it's not all bad news. On Saturday we had our hands full anyway and probably would not have been very effective photographers. More importantly, our friend and a truly talented fine art photographer Luis Saenz came to the rescue. Here is a link to his incredible slideshow of Rebecca and Brian's wedding so you can browse the beauty yourself.

   If you're interested, you can also look at some of our Pinterest boards and see how the finished products measure up against the inspiration... Here is mine. Here is Rebecca's. And here is Susan's. Over the past few weeks we all used Pinterest to brainstorm, collect feedback on images and ideas, and delegate jobs. It's not just eye candy, you nay-sayers! Pinterest actually helped us plan this wedding. LOL


   You know how I hate to tear down a party? How I hate for it to be over and prefer to take my time letting the memories soak in nice and deep before clearing out and scrubbing up? Well this gorgeous, happy wedding has been no exception. In fact, there really are elements of it I'd kinda like to see made permanent here at the Lazy W. We'll see how that rodeo goes. In the mean time, I'd like to share a few aftermath glimpses of what the wedding team created for our new friends...

   This is a view of the ceremony area around 6:45 Saturday morning. The arbor was built on a traditional brass frame borrowed form Handsome's Mom. It has been used in countless weddings and vow renewals over the decades, so it feels pretty special. Lots of memories are wrapped up in those skinny bars, folks. On the Thursday preceding the wedding, Handsome and I walked to the Pine Forest next door and brought home several dry, naturally curved pear tree limbs and twigs to fatten up the brass frame. Then on Friday morning Debbie, Susan, and I added one strand of greenery after another, then some white flowers, then burlap ribbon, and then some hanging glass lanterns. And maybe more tulle and greenery whenever someone walked past... It was a fun canvas. 

   That scrappy "I do, We did" sign is my favorite. Thanks to Mysti for stenciling the letters, and thanks to Susan for finishing it with white paint but not dripping any on the piano!

   Back to Saturday morning... In the chaotic hours that followed this above Instagram shot, we added to the ceremony area a pair Debbie's blue hydrangeas, right there at the entrance of the aisle. It looked so soft and bridal. And those mismatched chairs were filled with almost three dozen smiling people, all shaking hands, hugging, and celebrating a new beginning. The grass, blessedly soft, was tracked back and forth with happy, running children and one tulle-wrapped dog named Buster, but no geese. The geese skeedaddled as the crowd grew. This is good. 

   Around 8:30 Saturday morning my sweet Momma drove all the way to the farm with my two be-YOO-tiful nieces to lend us some of her larkspur. We plumped up the arbor area with two five gallon buckets filled with these wild, happy, voluptuous blooms. They were the perfect dressing for the base of the arbor. I just slipped each water-filled bucket inside a burlap coffee bean sack and called it gorgeous. Big thanks to Heather over at New House, New Home, New Life for the burlap gift certificate! 

   At the last minute, Juliana carefully placed paper fans on each chair. They had been glittered with the names of the bride and groom, and she told me she had made sure they alternated: Rebecca, then Brian, then Rebecca, then Brian... 

   I personally think these rustic flower arrangements look incredible against the distressed white obelisks we borrowed form Tyrene, Handsome's uber talented designer sister. Isn't that pretty? By the way, there were enough larkspur blooms to cut for both the bridal bouquet and the flower girl's bouquet without even making a dent. Thank you Momma! I can't wait to plant the seed heads and have my own wild meadow. The fresh flowers we collected from Mom, Debbie, and Marci the day of the wedding were my favorite element.

   This is a big grapevine wreath that hung outdoors the day of the wedding. We had to bring it inside early Sunday because of some pretty heavy thunderstorms. The cool-beans memory for me here is that I glued it together Friday night while watching an OKC Thunder basketball game with a room full of my favorite laughing people and a belly full of good, greasy pizza.

   Here is a glimpse of the sweets buffet. There were so many delish treats available for sampling, you guys, so very many. Having only sweets made it feel like a secret paradise. Adults and children alike filled and refilled their mismatched plates and saucers with chocolate-dipped fruits, cupcakes, pastel meringue bites, monogrammed cookies, and of course wedding cake. This Instagram shot reveals only the tail end of a fruit and marshmallow selection that sat adjacent to the chocolate fountain. See the curvy, elegant chocolate letters? Marci made these on a whim, and they added such a cool effect. We had a team of really talented, really out-pouring people working on this wedding. I know I am not the only one who feels like we were all part of some extra special memory making.

   Again, no luck on snapping shots of the cake on display... Though I do believe Luis has some in his slideshow. Here is a photo of the bride's cake in the cake-maker's fridge. It is wrapped in scripture, you guys. So beautiful and so perfect for this couple. The groom's cake was a half sheet, chocolate in every way, and frosted to look like a tuxedo. 

   More of the sweet leftovers and the flowers that we brought in out of first the rain and then the steamy heat. As I sit here typing out my memories, a plate of cupcakes is whispering terrible things to me. Or, as Charles Barkley would say, turrbull things.

   Brian and Rebecca chose a special song for their special day... "All Your Life" by the Band Perry.

   To incorporate their memory and amp up the rustic feel of the wedding, we made this chalkboard. Handsome found a long sheet of scrap plywood in our barn loft and cut it to about six feet long. Then over the course of a work day I sprayed it with layer after layer of chalkboard paint. Long after sunset on Friday night, Marci's kiddos primed it with colored chalk. Enthusiastically. On the day of the wedding Susan very sweetly filled it with the song lyrics. Then we just propped the chalkboard up between some trees at the wedding reception and walked around humming the tune...

I just wanna be the only girl you love all your li-iii-iii-iiife...

   This was one of the prettiest details in my opinion. Another nod to the Band Perry song, Rebecca wanted sand in very old mason jars, some clear and some that wonderful antique aqua blue color, all topped with candles. We borrowed most of these jars from Maribeth. And yes, we did burn the candles, even though it was a morning wedding. And the effect was quietly dazzling. Thanks for remembering to light them, Marci!

   Wait, maybe this is my favorite part. I deeply regret not photographing the original wild exuberance of our reception trees all dressed in their white and blue finery, but here is a two-days-later shot. It's still pretty fun looking if you ask me, but seeing those trees freshly draped with paper streamers blowing in the Oklahoma wind was enough to make me laugh out loud! What was even more fun than the finished product was watching our volunteer kiddos throw and wrap the stuff everywhere! Awesome. Just plain fantastic.

   Do this at your house at your next party. No, wait, do it now. As soon as possible. Yes, I am suggesting that you tipi your own property. With great, exaggerated, overhanded arm movements. You can't not be cheeered up when your very old, very serious trees look this great! And it erased any doubt as to where the reception was being held. These streamers and the sheet music pennants constructed by Susan, Debbie, and Rebecca's nephew made the shady smokehouse grove extra special. Thank you, Carolyn, for providing all of that lovely sheet music! And thank you Debbie and Rebecca for all the ironing of mismatched linens for the reception tables!


   Well, so much more happened that day. We danced the chicken dance. We ate and giggled. We posed inside empty wooden frames. We admired the bride and got to know a few new faces. We threw seeds at the happy couple as they left for their honeymoon. The stories and details abound, but I am fresh out of wedding photos. I hope you took a few minutes to go look at Luis' slideshow, and I hope you have enjoyed this. We sure have. More important than the creativity and friendship, though, has been that we are all witness to the start of a new love story. We are all fortunate to be embedded in this family's beginning, and they in turn are embedded in us.

   Sincerest congratulations, Brian and Rebecca! We wish you thousands of happy, special days ahead. We wish you captured sand for wishes fulfilled and millions of fireflies to brighten the dark corners. Thank you so much for letting all of us be part of your wedding. The Lazy W is a richer place now because of it.

Believe in Lightning Bolts

Monday, May 21, 2012

This Past Week

   Life is brimming these days you guys, with activity and love, with work and play, with little time to sit down for reading and writing. As this coming week progresses, I hope to share with you guys both photos and stories, but for now... while a pot of water boils for some midday pasta... a quick run down:

  • Josh, our couch surfer, visited. He brought this little dog Ben. We made him work and play outdated video games and then we all watched funny crash clips and I made some saltine toffee with chocolate.
  • The okra, tomatoes, soy beans, squash, flowers, sweet corn, green beans, cucumbers, peppers, and herbs are all growing like bananas. But there are no bananas growing. But I am considering some grape vines.
  • My two beautiful daughters and their adorable stepbrother spent a day at the farm last week. We made smoothies, played with the animals, and talked. We talked so much. They are growing and changing faster than ever but still remaining the same. My heart is full.
  • We've been watching lots of excellent NBA basketball, allowing our Thunder fever to build to a rolling boil. They playoffs have been hot from the beginning, and the fun continues tonight with another game against the Lakers here in OKC. 
  • We've been doing lots of gardening, cleaning, rearranging, crafting, and decorating all over this crazy place. It has been a blast and worth every second.
  • Handsome has lit and tended a few blazing bonfires this week. I love the lingering fragrance out there the next morning.
  • The past week has borne us some ridiculous egg collecting. Ridiculous. 
  • Because of our unusual schedule, Handsome and I have had a little less home cooking than we're used to and more eating out, but that is getting fixed today. To. Day.
  • Late nights of laughing our faces off, both alone and with great friends.
  • A small group of bees has been spotted drinking en force at the edge of the pond. This is cool, you guys. They are finding their way around the farm and are thriving. 
  • I shipped some  Green Goose products to California to see if my lil' sis can peddle textiles as hard as she skates and breaks.
  • Wedding. Did I ever tell you we were hosting a wedding? It was this past Saturday. It was so beautiful and happy...xoxo
  • We scooted off to a car show this Saturday too but forgot our wallets. It was post wedding and sans any real meal that day, and we were so very hungry. My stomach growls now when I think about it.
  • Saturday night we slipped into short but intense comas then spontaneously woke up at midnight to watch a recorded basketball game. I ate a weirdly satisfying dinner of excessively sweet watermelon (seven and a half slices) and excessively salty almonds and cashews (three handsful).
  • At church on Sunday we barreled through the book of Jude. Do you have any idea how interesting that stuff is?
  • I ran out of deodorant and bobby pins. Oh well.
  • We hosted and thoroughly enjoyed our nephew's vow renewal on Sunday afternoon.
  • I attended Oklahoma Blogger's Ball #2 at  Red Dirt Kelly's  house and came home further inspired and further motivated! I also brought with me a branch of fresh oregano from Katie and a sample jar of decorator paint from Allison.
  • Some excessive but much needed sleep has graced both our bed and our couch.
  • I keep forgetting to go pick up a prescription.
  • Missed the flippin solar eclipse, yo.
  • And I really, really want to leave some of the wedding decorations up around the farm. They are so happy and beautiful, it just feels so good.
   I am going to go take another nap, okay? I hope all of you have had a magical week and are all set for a great new series of adventures and accomplishments!  

High Five, Yo. I'll be in Touch.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Quick Farm Update

   How grows your garden so far? Is your corner of the universe lending you regular sky showers and plenty of warm, windless days to sow your seeds? Our new raised beds have been like a playground for me this month. Clean, level, and packed with compost and black soil, they draw me out every morning and seduce me into slipping just one more herb or just one more packet of seeds into an empty space. At last count I had nestled almost twenty squash plants in the dirt out there and almost that many peppers and tomatoes. It's a numbers game, you guys.

   We also now have a bed jam packed with what will become edamame, thanks to a gift from our neighbor Robby, and we are celebrating the rise of the green bean tipi. But you know what? Some of what I have been doing in the garden this past week is sort of against regulation. Oklahoma is smack in the middle of a waning moon, which means I should have been focusing more on weed removal and soil cultivation than the installation of above ground crops. The thing is, I lack willpower.

      Things are growing steadily and with few obstacles, and more importantly Rebecca's wedding is just a few days from now; so the temptation to plant new stuff is just too strong to resist! The photo above, though, is actually an old clematis vine. One which I believed to have perished in last year's heat wave. But look! Just like the abandoned, rusty blue bike from the Pine Forest, she made a comeback! When I look at this pairing I see three months into the future, when that misshapen front wheel is draped lavishly with green vines and heavy blossoms. And then I go plant some more seeds.

   Before we all go scoot to our Tuesday chores and appointments, will you be kind as to cast a vote? Yesterday I collected lots of normal chicken eggs... and then the behemoth egg you see on the right in this photo. It is heavy, folks. And I have yet to crack it open to see its contents, but it could be a goose egg. Before you vote, here are some facts:

  • This giant egg was found in the same nesting box as six average sized hen eggs.
  • That nesting box is about three feet off the ground, inside the chicken coop.
  • The geese have in fact been sleeping in the coop lately, but...
  • Momma Goose is, well, she's just not athletic.
  • But seriously, that is a big egg. And it is as heavy as a brick, no kidding.
   We have a predatory snake robbing eggs this past month (more on that soon), and I kind of imagine him catching a glimpse of that beasty egg and suffering a phantom gagging-choking event then slithering away, empty bellied.

   So far I have two votes for this being a double-yolker chicken egg and one vote for it being a goose egg. Once I hear from a few more of you adventurous souls I'll crack it open and see what's going on inside that pretty shell.

   Is it a goose egg or just a huge chicken egg, maybe a double yolker?

   Have an amazing day, friends! I am headed outside with my last cup of coffee. The bees need to discuss something important, and the horses have asked to play in the pond. 

   Waning Moon reminder: Pull those weeds this week! The moon is full again this Sunday.

But Then Again,
Gardening Rules are Made to Be Broken, Right?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Trading Wrath for Gratitude

   Today I cracked open our book club's current selection, which we'll discuss over dinner in June, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. Just in case you don't know, this is a novel partially set in my beloved home state of Oklahoma, during the brutal Depression and Dust Bowl. It follows the struggle of a native Oklahoma family who suffers from all the ramifications of the agricultural and economic failures of that time. This was a century ago, but how many bells are ringing in your heart right now?


   I sat down to start this papery adventure after a morning of cruising junk and antique shops that were as lovely as they were tiny and unique, spending a few dollars on perfectly frivolous luxuries. I bought a heavy turquoise pendant handing from an old shoelace; a super long chain necklace with a kitschy locked heart charm at the bottom that desperately wants to be gold when it grows up; a medium sized but tarnished silver tray with wooden handles, the kind you use to serve breakfast in bed or maybe decorate a vintage-themed outdoor wedding which is coming up in seven days; three threadbare cotton handkerchiefs; a set of pink seashell-encrusted salt and pepper shakers from Florida; and an opulently  matted and framed oil painting for my dining room. None of these things were expensive (though the oil painting really should have been), but I acknowledge that none of them are really necessary, either. My life is brimming with undeserved luxury, and I know it.

   In addition to the material bounty, it happens that I soaked up the first four chapters of Grapes of Wrath while soft, cool rain fell in steady showers all over this grand land and flowers bloomed in every available container.

   The stark contrast between feast and famine, parched and verdant, would not be lost on any reader.

   This year, today, in this entire lifetime, I am so grateful. For the rain which is nourishing us again and for the milder temperatures we are enjoying at the moment. For the fields that are stacked deep and dotted and dressed with hundreds of beautiful, golden bales of soft hay. For every lake, river, and pond that glimmers past its banks with clean water. For the animals and gardens that feed not just our bellies, but also our souls. For the people who drive and toil toward every paycheck, especially my husband who has my deepest admiration.

   I am so thankful for living, breathing romance and for solid friendships and for children with better memories than I had feared. I am thankful that for every heartache we see hope. That for every frustration we eventually find relief. And that for every drought, somehow, mercifully, we get to see green again. I am really thankful that my bees are happy and that my watermelon vines are blooming, you guys. You cannot even imagine!

"The unthankful heart... discovers no mercies; 
but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, 
as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, 
some heavenly blessings!"  
~Henry Ward Beecher

   I still believe very much in miracles. The small, nearly imperceptible sort that we sometimes call minutiae and also the most shocking, most unlikely ones, the ones that make headlines. Naturally tragedies continue and not every prayer is answered the way we expect. But unplanned joy and sudden relief are also facts of life. We just have to seek them out and then celebrate them when they appear. 

   Enjoy the lushness while you have it, however it looks for your life, today. Cultivate joy. Give thanks. Wear way too many necklaces that don't match, it's probably fine. Keep hope simmering on the back burner. It will nourish you from the inside out and ready you for the next lean year.

By the Way, Someone is Grateful for You, Too.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Bee Adoption Day

   So, if you are kind enough to be following along, you probably know that last night I drove to Noble, Oklahoma, to collect my bees. Just out of curiosity, what image does that conjure up for you? I'd love to know.  This whole experience has been replete with learning, so plenty of what I have expected along the way has been wrong.

   Fortunately, I was able to make the drive with my mentor in tow, which soothed my jangled nerves considerably. Maribeth and I enjoyed a leisurely drive brimming with more of that sparkling conversation. Have I said lately how lush and healthy Oklahoma is right now?

   The apiary is not too far off of the interstate but at the end of a long, green tunnel of a road, surrounded by horse farms. Once we found the driveway, it was unmistakable.

Royal Bee Supply, Oklahoma
   What a humble, happy entrance. And the owners/operators, Marcy and Brian, are just as warm and friendly as you might imagine honey lovers to be!

   Did you know that bees crawl at night instead of fly? And that they return to the hive every night, after a day of collecting? We arrived at dusk purposefully so that the boxes we purchased would be as full of bees as possible.

   I'm sorry these photos are a bit fuzzy. My gloved hands were not cooperating so well with the tiny camera buttons. Anyway, here you can see a lidded cardboard box with a river of bees on the side. This is rush hour traffic on the crosstown, taking bees home after a long day at the office.

   The atmosphere last night was slightly different than what I sensed at the bee yard last month. I heard the bees, certainly, and I saw plenty of them; but the mood was a smidge more intense than during those previous morning hours. Perhaps that is the most important difference, that we were visiting at dusk when workers were returning home instead of during the time when so many would have been absent. 

   Also, these hives are all in transition, perhaps not perfectly acclimated to their surroundings. I never felt afraid, just more alert than before. I kept close track of every bee that landed on my veil.

   Oh, and I wore better jeans this time. Here you can see the cuffs duct taped to my rubber boots. Scraps of the yellow badge of honor are still on my boots this morning, and I plan to leave them there.

      This is one of my two NUCs being loaded into the truck bed. Do you remember the first time you drove your newborn baby around in a car seat? Dilute that feeling just a little bit and add to it the fear of getting pulled over by the highway patrol car and then witnessing the officer's subsequent violent stinging, and you can sort of imagine how I felt driving home.

   None of that actually happened. It just crossed my mind. About seven times.

   On the way back toward Oklahoma City, where we would deliver Maribeth's full hive, we stopped for an ice cream refreshment at Braum's. This was a life event worth marking with a really special memory, you guys. Ice cream was most definitely in order. We went inside wearing our full bee suits. Much to my eternal disappointment, not one person asked us about our amazing costumes.

   We finally made it back to the Lazy W around 11:00 p.m., and Handsome met us at the little bee yard he had built for me. At a safe distance but wearing only flip flops, shorts, and a tank top, he took a few photos of Maribeth and me placing the NUCs. That inky blackness behind us is the infamous Pine Forest which definitely houses a large deer family and may or may not be populated by Sasquatch. 

   I could barely settle down at bedtime. It felt like Christmas Eve, the last day of school, and my birthday rolled into one, since I knew that in the morning my 80,000 new fuzzy babies could be out exploring our farm. 


   Somehow, though, I did manage to sleep. Then at dawn my eyes popped wide open, long before the alarm sounded or the roosters crowed.
   I ran to the upstairs west window to see if the NUCs were okay, although from that distance all I could see was that they were still where we left them. Handsome, still in bed, asked wearily, "Are they swarming the windows yet? Hey, do you know how to do a trach on yourself if you get stung? We should have had you tested for bee allergies before doing this." 

   "Umm, no, they're not swarming babe. Yes, I know how to do a trach if needed and I can put a bandage over it too, but don't worry, I don't think I am allergic. Everything is fine."

   I have a really good husband. And my reply was at least 65% true. Actually I have no clue in the world how to do a safe tracheotomy on myself or any other living creature. But we do have a lot of Benadryl.


   This morning has been cool and mild. Almost no breeze again, very similar in feeling to that day we visited Cripple Creek Farms. As soon as I could, I ran outside in yoga pants, a pajama top, and flip flops to see what was happening. The grass was so dewy that in just a few steps my legs were splashed and flecked with mud. My arms were gloved in goosebumps, but I wasn't sure if that was from the cool air or more nervous excitement.

     Chunk-Hi was breathing steam as he grunted and patrolled the sunrise.

The moon was still lingering like a gypsy earring over the back field.

   Good morning Daphne! Look at that sleepy little ankle... Almost done shedding, she looks like she's wrapped in black and chocolate satin. When I first walked down to inspect the bee yard this morning, she had been watching it too, as had a tiny wild rabbit, three Canadian geese visiting from a nearby pond, and most of our chickens. Handsome and I remarked on how the animals all notice promptly when something new arrives at the farm. It's pretty fun to watch our little society react to subtle changes.

All is well.

   Around 6:45 a.m. the bees were just beginning to peek out of those small entrances, probably explaining why the chickens and guineas suddenly found other things to do. I have spent my morning so far doing one little chore at a time, layering each one between additional trips downhill to see the bee yard.

   Today promises to be full of equal parts work and beauty. I feel so blessed to be surrounded by all of this, to be so steeped in nature and miracles.

   Thanks for following our little bee adventure! I will keep you posted.

Life is Just Too Sweet

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Hive Painting Day

   This past Sunday afternoon a dozen or so talented people from different corners of our life descended on the farm for some art and fellowship. And of course there were snacks. It was a two-fold event, intended on one hand to decorate my two unfinished wooden bee hives and then on the other hand to start some wedding preparations. (The wedding is in exactly eleven days, folks. The air is thick with anticipation!)

   I had sort of planned to participate in the painting of the wooden-ware, but as the artists moved around and manifested their ideas, I wanted nothing more than to watch the magic happen.

   Haley and Lauren came prepared! They had ahead of time sketched four or five possible hive illustrations and did a wonderful job bringing them to life! 



   This is Juliana giving me a slightly skeptical look and Mysti focusing intently on her first wall. Mysti, freshly twenty one, is our youngest book clubber. She is also on the brink of graduation form hair design academy. Congrats, Mysti!!

   This is Mysti's first beautiful creation of the day, the painting on which she was concentrating so hard in the photo above. I groove this so much, you guys! The lettering is almost old fashioned, which is perfect.

   Mother and daughter, Marci & Juliana, starting their purple wall. This is a custom-blended color, which later they coated with blue glitter! I am flat out crazy about these ladies. And not just because Marci is a phenomenal cook. But that does not hurt one bit. 

   Marci is never very far from a Diet Coke. That is a cold, hard fact.

   Here is Haley concentrating on her beautifully detailed bee mural. It doesn't show in this photo, but one of the bees on this wall has arms extended, cradling a huge golden chunk of nectar! Or it could be honey, the girls informed me. Love it. I would never have thought to paint that.

   You might remember that Tracy accompanied me to that first bee class back in March. She is always up for a new experience! Here she is again, cheerfully painting this field of flowers, which I immediately loved to pieces. To my eye, her abstract blooms resemble Coreopsis, poppies, and gladiolus. Wouldn't it would make a great stationery set?

   I did not realize the day of our painting fun that Tracy's birthday was right around the corner! Happy Birthday, sweet woman! You are setting such an incredible example for your kids, feeding that happy appetite for life.

   Can you even believe how sweet and bright these girls are? By the way, Lauren is Tracy's youngest and Haley is Lauren's friend. They are sheer joy to be around! Well mannered, protective of the little kids, and just plain happy. When all the bee art was complete and they had each made a tie-dye shirt, these girls dove right in and helped with wedding prep! Thank you ladies.

   Our Lazy W ranch brand!! Thank you Mysti, this is so darn cool as beans. Now if we could only figure out how to get the brand of each of our tiny little bees...

   Everyone was in awe of the glittered side of this hive! 

   Here is Tracy adding some cheerful polka dots!

Can you see those painted little paw prints on the concrete? 

   They came from this dog. His name is Buster, and he is a natural-born goose herder. He can swim in muddy ponds. He can paint sidewalks like nobody's business. He can beg and jump three feet in the air. But he is terrified of running horses. Everyone has a kryptonite.

   The sun began to sink behind the pond as the hives were relieved of every last speck of bare wood. The visiting artists started looking around the farm for more blank canvases and found them in cotton tee shirts and old worn out fence pickets.

      Can you see the lettering? This is a carving, not a painting. It says, "BEE'S HOUSE!" That should clear things up around here.

   Priceless. I can't help but think this needs to go to the girls' mothers. So sweet.

  As I mentioned, we did more than paint hives on Sunday. We circled the wagons for some brass tacks wedding crafting, too. But those photos and stories will come later...
  That is all I have time to write, you guys! Any second now I am off to Noble, Oklahoma to adopt my two fuzzy little colonies! Wish me luck. I'll check in tomorrow.

Pollinate Your Friendships


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