Thursday, April 10, 2014

Splitting the Bee Hives

We examined our hives last week on a nice warm day and, oh my, the queens are doing an incredible job of providing workers for the nectar season. Such a good job that we need to split the hives and hopefully prevent swarming. We sure wouldn't want to lose these two ladies with another good year of laying ahead. So the past few days,

1) Larry went to the bee store to buy new equipment while I played with two little girls whose mommy just had a new baby.

2) Larry and Bianca put the boxes together.

3) Marinna and I filled the frames with wax foundation (sort of life a blueprint for the bees to draw honeycomb).

4)The girls helped us prime the boxes before they went home to love up their new baby brother.

5) Larry and I finished the painting the next day. (I love the green and yellow!)

6) Then we went out to play with the bees and introduce them to their new homes. Lots of fuzzy, healthy looking Spring newbees! We couldn't find the queen and ended up making a nuke with four frames of bees including queen cells with larvae and a frame of capped hone. We left active queen cells in the old hive as well.

7) Next to the last step, take the nuke to a temporary location so the foragers don't return to the original hives and leave the queen and nurse bees without outside workers. My brothers house several miles away makes a perfect temporary home away from home for the new nuke hive.

Bianca keeps an eye on the hive that will house "Queen Bianca" and her court.
(From a safe distance. She knows that, "Bees sting me.")

8) Last step will be to bring them back to our bee yard after a week or two when we see that a new queen is established and laying.

NB. We didn't get into our other hive until the next day when we realized Queen Elizabeth must have swarmed because there were at least twice as many bees in Queen Ann's hive and it was always the weaker colony. We put an extra super on to give them more room, but expect Queen Ann will swarm and hope we will be able to catch her and her court before they disappear. It will be an interesting new experience for us if we do. Meanwhile, the bees are busy as can bee and the early nectar flow is in progress.

Queen Bees: Queen Marianna and Queen Bianca

We are in the process of expanding our hives and it appears one of our original queens swarmed with a bunch of her followers. After searching around the current hive location we saw no evidence of the swarm so they obviously have headed to a new home. So we are now waiting for the bees to finish raising a new queen to the throne. My friend Dan sent the following picture which I love! When the new queen is crowned we will name her Queen Marianna after one of our little beekeeping helpers. We also have a nuke hive from the original with queen cells and that hive will have Queen Bianca in their court. We look forward to these two new queens doing a good job at producing top quality honey for the two our two little queen helpers! Thanks, Dan for the great picture!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sunday Fun: It Didn't Feel Like Servile Work!

It occurred to me while we were making bee boxes today and filling bee frames with wax foundation that perhaps that is "servile work" that shouldn't be done on Sunday.

On the other hand, when something is so much fun it brings a smile to your face, how can it possibly be classified as work?

 Especially when you are doing it with two little girls who think it's the most fun on the face of the planet?

Whenever we go into our bee hives I tell people I'm going out to "play with the bees."

So, what do you think? Did we do servile work today? Or celebrate Sunday joy with our two little granddaughters?

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Sometimes Lent is Literal

Well, it's been a challenging winter and the Lord apparently is not finished with me yet. I took a fall last November (off a skateboard - don't ask) and ended up with a massive right rotator cuff tear. After doctor visits, an MRI, and more doctor visits I ended up with surgery at UVA on January 20th to repair the tear. Another surprise turned up during surgery. My biceps had shifted and had to be cut and reattached. After several weeks I went into PT and have been doing well at regaining my range of motion and strength. Then about a week before Ash Wednesday I started having slurred speech and ended up in the emergency room at Shenandoah Hospital with them thinking I might be having a TIA (mini stroke). So they sent me for a CAT scan - no bleeding in the brain thank God. And then off in an ambulance to Winchester where they did an MRI - no active stroke, but couldn't rule out the TIA. So home again and a search for a neurologist to find out what's going on.

The neurologist wasn't sure so she ordered some tests. This was the day before Ash Wednesday and on Friday we left for our daughter's in Zelienople, PA to see one granddaughter play Auntie Em in The Wizard of Oz and enjoy a piano recital with our other four granddaughters. Over the weekend I started having blurred vision and a drooping eyelid (fortunately the day after the play). Oh joy!

So when we returned to Virginia I called the neurologist and she had me come in the same afternoon. The new symptoms gave a clearer diagnosis and a shifted direction in tests and treatment. After a neuro-muscular test with shocks and needlepricks the next morning the diagnosis was confirmed. I have an auto-immune disease called Myashenia Gravis. (What a mouthful!) It is a disease of the junction between nerves and muscles. For some reason my body is attacking the chemicals that send information to the muscles to do their thing. Antibodies gobble up the chemical causing muscle weakness which explains the drooping eyelid, the slurred speech, and the double vision. In retrospect I can identify some minor muscle weakness in my legs making it a little difficult to get up out of a chair.

In some ways it was a relief to get a diagnosis, but I can hardly call it good news to hear that you have an incurable disease, especially when the doctor told Larry it would be prudent to take a course in the Heimlich maneuver. Fortunately, while I've had some difficulty chewing, swallowing hasn't been an issue. And as the doctor said, "Don't hang up the crepe." So I'm working on being optimistic and cheerful.

I confess, though, that Stations of the Cross last evening was difficult. To be saying, "I embrace all the sufferings You have destined for me until death," takes on new meaning when one's in the midst of real sufferings rather than offering potential ones. To say, "I will not refuse the cross as Simon did: I accept and embrace it," is an easy proclamation when all your sufferings are minor, but can I do it? I want to. So I cling to the plea, "I beg You, by all You suffered in carrying Your cross, to help me carry mine with Your perfect peace and resignation." I think  I will pray that often.

I read recently that St. Jose Maria Escriva would lament on a day he had no serious suffering, "Don't you love me anymore, Lord." I know Mother Teresa told suffering souls that Jesus was kissing them. And St. Therese of Lisieux often said she preferred the vinegar of suffering to the sweetness of consolation. I hope to walk in their footsteps; I'm not there at present. But I know Jesus and His sweet Mother are walking with me on the road of trials  along with my guardian angel and patron saints. So I've decided to consider my disease, called MG for short, as "my gift from God." Please help me, Lord, to embrace it with joy and use it for your glorification, through Christ Our Lord, Amen.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Life is Full of Disappointments...

...some of the biggest are those that happen to loved ones. I just found out that our long distance running daughter who was looking forward to running the Boston marathon will not because of an injury last summer that has never healed properly. So instead of training for Boston she's heading in for surgery later this month, then six weeks in a cast, and then into a boot before she can begin regaining what's lost. The doctor says she will be able to get back to long distance running but it's still a big disappointment for her especially since she will have to requalify for Boston. Please pray for Tara's surgery and recovery. We're praying through the intercession of Fr. Hardon whom we depended on for my own recent rotary cuff surgery. If you have any challenges of your own, I recommend this holy priest as a powerful intercessor!

Almighty God, You gave Your servant,
Father John Anthony Hardon of the Society of Jesus,
the grace of religious and priestly consecration after the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Through Father Hardon,
You provided for your Flock an extraordinary teacher of the faith.
You entrusted Father Hardon into the loving
care of the Blessed Virgin Mary
whose counsel, "Do whatever he tells you" (Jn 2:5)
he faithfully followed and whose intercession he unceasingly invoked.
If it be Your holy will, please grant the request I now make,
calling upon the help of Father Hardon,
so that his heroic sanctity may be recognized in the whole Church.
I ask this through Your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who
with You and the Holy Spirit, is one God forever and ever.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Where are they now? A Walk in the Twilight Zone with Jim Verrecchia and Jim Haley

The Lamberts in happier days
In 1998, a scandal boiled at All Saints Catholic Church in Manassas, VA. The pastor, Fr. Jim Verrecchia was giving "spiritual" direction to a parishioner, Nancy Lambert, who spent more and more time with him. They walked, they danced at church functions, they hot-tubbed and nuzzled together in full view of the entire parish. Meanwhile, Nancy's husband, Jim, became more and more concerned, confronted the pastor, and tried to convince his wife to stop, if not for him, for the sake of their four children. The behavior of the two "lovebirds" grew so egregious and so open it made the pages of the Washington Post and the Washington Times particularly after Jim Lambert, the aggrieved husband, sued the diocese which aided and abetted the adultery. To make a long story short: Nancy got pregnant, divorced her husband, married Verrecchia, and, with the help of Fr. Steve Leva, who testified for the adulterers at the custody hearing, got the couple's four children. Jim Lambert got a heart attack.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What a Country!

I've seen very little of New England so a trip to the northeast was very appealing. Larry and I started in Auriesville, NY at the Shrine of the North American Martyrs. What holy ground! To walk where men were actually struck down and killed for the faith is to be linked directly to those saints. The ravine at the shrine is just such a place and like Rene Goupil and St. Isaac Jogues who prayed the rosary there, so did we. Rene was killed by an Iriquois brave because he had made the sign of the cross on the head of child and the superstitious Indians thought it was sorcery. Fr. Jogues held him as he died fully expecting to be the next victim, but God had work for him to do still and he was spared.
Rene Goupil instructing an Indian child

One of my favorite spots on the grounds was "Theresa's rosary." Theresa was a young Indian girl who learned the faith from the Ursulines in Quebec. She was captured along with Fr. Jogues and his companions and Indian guides. Theresa was staunch in her faith and when her captors confiscated her rosary, she made another from rocks so she could pray it walking alongside the "beads." She later married one of the braves from the tribe, but never abandoned her faith. Like Kateri Tekawitha, she was one of the beautiful Christians baptized and taught by the blackrobes.

Theresa's rosary
First chapel at Auriesville
We also visited the Shrine of Kateri Tekawitha in Fonda. Kateri was born in Auriesville, but was raised in the Indian village located in what is now Fonda. The shrine includes the excavated site where metal posts mark the actual double stockade and the outlines of the long houses where Indian families lived. Not far from the site is "Kateri's spring" where she would have gone to get water for washing and cooking. Our two days in Auriesville were an opportunity to begin our trip as a pilgrimage. We prayed the 20-decade rosary both days and attended Mass at the second chapel built on the grounds in the 1800s. The first chapel is tiny, like a small gazebo, but it is lovely and reminds one how eager people were to honor the martyrs even when they could only build a tiny shrine. 

From Auriesville we visited Vermont and Maine passing through the White Mountains of New Hampshire. What a testimony to the glory of God. If Auriesville was like being with the saints washed clean in the blood of the lamb, driving the highways and byways of the northeast was like watching "the word" creating in all his glory. I'll post just a few pictures to illustrate. The glories of God's world made me pause often to sing How Great Thou Art! 

Sailboat on one of Maine's "ponds"

Scene from an overlook in Jamaica State Park, Vermont

One of the amazing examples of Vermont flora

Nature "reflects" the glory of God!

We met this German biker who visits the U.S. twice a year to bike around our wonderful country with friends. (There were half a dozen of them.) He said his favorite trip was following the Lewis and Clark trail from St. Louis to Portland. 

A New York honeybee collects nectar from asters. Beekeepers say aster honey is terrible, so the bees can have it! LOL!