Wednesday, November 28, 2012

New musings at Sweetpea's Bees

The Flight of The Turquoise Bee Apiary and Sweetpea's Bees have gone on hiatus. We are making our last trip of the season to the bee yard on Monday to remove all the combed out frames inside The Turquoise Bee. After having mice take up house in Crazy Comb I don't want to leave a single frame in an empty hive. December 1st I will order three packages of bees and then we are free until early March. In the mean time I am launching "Updates from LA Fitness" for my off season musings.

Beyond bees and honey we had an over the top year last year. We are on an academic calendar around here so when talking about a year in review I am talking September to September. Tina was on sabbatical and we had way too much fun. Too much fun led to too much eating. Too much eating led to too little exercise. Too little exercise led to too much weight gain and too much weigh gain led to a very unhappy camper. I wouldn't take the year back but I do wish I had not eaten my way though it like there weren't any consequences.

Once upon a time, not too long ago I was an avid walker, 10 miles a day, every day starting at the crack of dawn. I am one of those people who get up to watch the moon set. I loved my walking. Rain, shine or 30 below zero I left the house at 5 am and logged 10 or more miles. It was a routine I took for granted for the past 15 years. When we vacation in Florida I often put in a few 20 mile days. I guess you could say I am/was a distance walker. When I had my first bone density scan the endocrinologist who read my scan actually wrote in my report "bone density of a postal worker". I was flattered and relieved since Celiac Disease can lead to osteopenia. I am no stranger to extreme fitness adventures either having completed the Chicago Marathon in 1986 in under 4.5 hours and riding a three speed bike from St. Paul to Chicago in five days in 1996, I am quite capable when I set my mind to it.

 About a year ago I stopped walking and took up space in a chair, in our kitchen. A leather lazy-boy like chair. I monitored the news like it were my job and I planned one fabulous trip after another and one fabulous meal after another. We traveled well and we ate well. Now all I have to show for it, other than some really good memories, are 30 plus pounds right in my middle. I am not much for appearances. I could really care less what I look like but the fact of the matter is that I don't feel good. My clothes don't fit and I don't have any energy. The idea of going outside for a walk is more than I can face.

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I lost 100 pounds. This isn't a new problem. I kept it off, most of it for 10 years.  The I started jumped up and down 10-15 pounds, moment to moment. It was just that easy to gain 15, lose 10, gain 5, lose three. You can see that eventually  the math started gaining on me. So when this particular episode got underway I was probably up by 10 from my baseline and then went on to add another 30 pounds. My usual methods of dropping 15 pounds simply aren't going to work this time around.  I've considered just getting back out there walking again but it hasn't come easily. After contemplating my options I finally decided the routine was so off kilter it would need a real jarring to fix.

 I decided join a fitness club which admittedly makes me groan. I hate health clubs. I hate paying money to do something I can do outside on my own. I hate how they smell. I hate all the skinny girls running around in skimpy outfits. I hate spending time getting there and getting home. I don't like "working out" and I don't like exercising with other people. I don't share space very well. All that and I haven't even mentioned the equipment. I loathe exercise equipment including weights.

I am smart. I operate very sophisticated live saving equipment at work. I program pumps to deliver complicated medications. I hook up all kinds of monitoring equipment. Hell I can even calibrate a scale to weigh a diaper. But turning on a damn treadmill is so complicated it takes me 10 minutes. I am dumbfounded by how difficult it is to simply program the treadmill to go for 40 minutes and a certain pace. I am not a quick study so once I finally get it going I have no idea what particular combination of buttons I pushed actually made it start so when I return the next day it is like starting all over again. If the treadmill isn't mind boggling enough let me tell you about the recumbent bike. That little stinker isn't even programmable until you actually start to pedal. Seriously, how I figured that out I'll never know.

I decided to join LA fitness for several reasons. Most importantly I can pay month to month. I didn't want to be locked in for a year or more. It is close to home, another important feature. When I visited the facility I was impressed with how clean it was. I also love to swim and there is a lovely lap pool. So I joined and have been going for three days in a row.

I wish they had some handout on fitness club etiquette. I like to know the rules. For example since everyone else seems to have on headsets can I just go ahead and sing out loud. I don't really like music except for Christmas music which is all I have loaded on my ipod. I just want to belt out the lyrics but I am not sure that's a good idea. This morning I was very troubled to find the only treadmill open was in front of the TV stuck on fox news. I can't actually get the sound but just the idea of exercising to Fox news was disturbing. I tried to distract myself, following along to the fake track of multicolored blinking lights in my "dashboard" but that only amused me for so long. Then I got a little excited about my next door neighbors reading material "Making your way to sexy curves" only to realize she wasn't reading about highway 1 in CA. So I came back to the blinking track pondering why there were three different colored lights blinking at different intervals. So boring. My reward, after 40 minutes on the mill and 10 on the bike is 10 laps in the pool.

I am nothing if not determined. My goal this week is to just get another routine going. We are entertaining Tina's colleagues from Budapest tonight. Crab cakes, smoked porterhouse, Minnesota wild rice with chanterelle mushrooms, green beans with gremolata and creme brulee. Starting tomorrow food is going to look very different around here until I get these 30 pounds reined in.

So, jump on board and cheer me on. I need all the motivation I can get. I'll be musing here every once and awhile about my progress so stay tuned. Hopefully by the time the new girls arrive in April I will be back in shape.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Uninvited House Guests Take Up Residency in Crazy Comb

You can't imagine our surprise to find a nest of mice had take up house in Crazy Comb. Thank goodness we had removed all but one box and all of the frames three weeks ago. Otherwise the mice who moved in would have had a hay day with our beautiful comb.

We went down to the bee yard today, hoping to pull all the frames out of The Turquoise Bee. It was a warm sunny day 60 degree, very unusual for the end of November. We were hoping to find a pile of dead bees inside Turquoise and we thought it would be easy, just pull out the frames and load everything into our car. It was to be our last visit to the bee yard. We would say good night to the girls and be done for the season.

We we so confident we headed into the yard without any of our protective gear on only to find a flurry of activity coming from Mr. Abbott and The Turquoise bee. Katran'a Drone Den seemed quite but not dead with a few bees flying about. We had one box standing from the demise of Crazy Comb. Last time we came down we pulled all her frames and all but one box. I was perplexed, why had we left a box in place. Paula wanted to make sure it was indeed empty, that we hadn't left a few frames for some reason. When she opened the lid we both took a step back as about 7 mice looked up at us. Whoa, what a nest they had made. I actually had to admire the work and the determination and wondered where in the world they had gotten the beautiful ornamental reddish orange feathers. They stirred a bit and Paula quickly put the lid on. How in the world had they gotten in, the mouse trap was in place. Then Paula noticed the cork was missing from the hive hole that we usually plug and had plugged weeks ago. Some how the cork plug was dislodged and was laying on the ground next to the hive. I quickly ran to the car to get my camera to capture some images of the little critters before kicking them out. I don't like mice and yet these little pile of rodents sort of captured my attention. I tried to visualize them haling in all that stuff to make their next, almost wishing we had a video camera pointed on the hive so we could watch this kind of activity.

We suited up and tacked The Turquoise Bee. We had two boxes full of frames and when we opened the hive I think both of us were surprised by how many bees were still there. We got the first box emptied but the ill tempered girls were giving us a run for our money so we closed her up after pulling the top box and decided we would have to come back in a few weeks for the last box. We have never gotten a good idea of how strong this hive really was, I guess the population was much stronger than we thought. A few more weeks should take care of the rest of them. We will have to get down there and pull the frames before mice decide to move in. I would be sick to loose a box full of drawn out comb and pollen to field mice.

Back to the mice and giving them the boot. Oh so sad but they had to go. Paula dismantled the box, pulling it off the hive stand which was covered with maggots. Ew, how gross! Before Paula turned the box onto its side so the mice could scamper out she asked how I felt  about mice running a muck, even up my leg. Well, I wasn't keen about the idea but I knew they had to go. So I just said go for it. The mice scampered out, ran about a bit and then took off so we  dumped the nest and stacked the hive stand behind Katrina's Drone Den, hoping rain might clean off the maggots.

We packed up the car and skipped our good byes knowing we will have at least one more visit in the next few weeks. I guess it was a good thing we found the mice now and not in the spring when we might have just had an infestation. Seven mice is enough for any beekeeper, a box full of mice would be too much!