Bees & Distraction

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There are times in my life that I am given the gift of distraction. Sometimes distraction works well when the rest of life is a bit overwhelming. It also may bring with it small miracles, new friends and lessons, always lessons.

Chemotherapy is not fun. Mix it with radiation and it becomes even less fun. After Jim was diagnosed with salivary glad cancer, he had to endure a summer of this mix. It was a challenge and not much fun, at all.

IMG_1258Enter the major distraction of that summer. One afternoon at the end of June I was working in the yard when I happened to look down and there were bees swarming around my legs. They were not landing, I was just being paid a lot of close attention. I noticed they were going under our shed in the backyard. When I informed Jim that I thought there were honey bees under the shed, he brushed it off and said they were probably miner bees and would be gone in 6 weeks.

The next few days showed increased bee activity and still Jim’s response was unchanged. I finally took a few photos of the bees and started to do my own research. The following Saturday there was a free lecture on bees at one of the local library branches. I informed Jim that we were going to the talk. I knew if I went alone he might still doubt the outcome.

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Eric ready to work

Enter Eric, the man that both of us quickly labeled the bee whisperer. He confirmed my suspicions that we did indeed have a hive of honey bees under our shed. We wanted to remove the hive, alive. Eric came to the house and after observing the shed and the bees he gave us three options.

  1. Cut the floor out of the shed and he could remove them. Nope, Jim didn’t like this idea.
  2. Lift the shed up on that side and work with removing the hive that way. Nope, Jim didn’t like that idea either.
  3. Since we had already put a fine mesh screen around the bottom of the shed, Eric suggested putting in a one way bee door. This would allow the bees to come out but not to go back in. We would put a portable hive outside so that the bees might find a new home. Then we had to wait for the queen, herself, to emerge.
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Eric & Jim putting in the Bee Door

Jim chose option number 3. I, also, was good with this option. So began the six week saga of removing the bees. This was a practice in patience. The first bee door did not work, so we tried again. Eric would come by about every third night to see how things were progressing. We became friends with Eric. Jim and he had wonderful long conversations about many common interests. What I appreciated was that Eric never asked what was going on with Jim, they just got to know each other as people.

As more and more of the bees could not get back into the hive they started hanging in a huge clump on the side of the shed. On one of Eric’s stops at the house he brought a spray bottle with something that bees don’t like the smell of and sprayed it on the clump of bees on the shed. He did this in hopes that the bees would check out the portable hive and think it was a good alternative. With a huge swarm of bees circling above, Eric walked to the hive and got down on his knees and said “Oh look the girls are fanning their wings” He told us that the wing fanning meant they were sending out pheromones to let the swarm know they had found an alternative home. Within five minutes the bees were in the hive. It was amazing to watch.

Click on the photos above and it will become a slideshow.

A few nights later I noticed all these bees hanging on the side of the portable hive. Eric was called. When he arrived he took the lid off the portable hive and noted that the queen was inside. Success!!!! There were about 20,000 bees in that hive. Whoa! It took about 6 weeks for this to occur. After waiting a few more days, one night, after dark, Eric arrived, climbed into his bee keeping suit, smoked them so they would be drowsy, bungie corded the hive and took them to their new home in Rancho Santa Fe.

When Jim completed chemo and radiation and was feeling more normal, he spent an afternoon cleaning out the hive from under the shed. It was amazing the number of combs that he pulled out. It was a major hive, successfully removed. Once all of this was finished we re-meshed the whole underside of the shed and once again, were free of bees.

For most of the summer Jim and I stood on the deck every day and watched the bees. We had major discussions of what we would do if the alternative we chose did not work. Both of us looked forward to Eric’s visits. And, both of us learned  a lot about bees. We felt good, because we had saved a hive of honey bees. For those of you who are not aware, honey bees are endangered. It is important to save every single one.

The summer of the bees was a great distraction for Jim and myself. Rather than focusing inward, which is not uncommon, in times of crisis, we were given the opportunity to continue to be part of the larger world, thanks to Eric and the honey bees. We had a story to tell to our friends and family. There was something we needed to check on every day. Often you could find us sitting on the deck with our binoculars watching these little creatures do their thing. When Jim was feeling really awful, he would sit himself in one of the zero gravity chairs on the deck and watch. It got him outdoors and gave him a welcome distraction and something to tell his friends when he would meet them at the beach on Saturdays.  Those little honey bees helped us make it through that summer, providing a most welcome distraction.

Praise Bees-Praise Distractions.

 

 

 

An Idaho Summer

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My Idaho summer is coming to a close. Summer in a home surrounded by water and mountains, what more could I ask for? I knew very little about this state before I arrived. Although I have only explored a small section of a rather large state, I now know it is a place I will return to again.

I have relished my stationary time. I was able to nest and relax. I did not feel like I needed to be on the go every minute. There were many benefits to being here. An outstanding benefit-getting to know Linda better,strengthening our friendship and enjoying her company. It was delightful.

I became part of a community, if only for a short time. It doesn’t take long in a small town for the major players to take notice of a new person. The post office in Donnelly, by the time I left, knew me by name. They also told me they would see me next summer.😁 I have enjoyed becoming part of  a community even it was temporary.

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Elsie bathing in the late Afternoon Sun

Elsie also enjoyed the larger digs. I think she was glad to be left behind to nap at will. She enjoyed having space to run. It was hard for me to have to move her again. It was me being emotional, she really hasn’t seemed to mind.

We are in Boise this week. I am, once again, house sitting for Misty the Invisible Cat. When Linda asked me if I could help them out while they are off on vacation, how could I say no? They gave me their second home without hesitation. This is what friends do for friends.

I am, temporarily,  going to become an advertisement for Idaho as I create one of my list about why Idaho is truly the “Gem State”.

  • It is called the “Gem State”, because nearly every known type of gemstone has been found in the state of Idaho. More than 72 different precious and semi-precious gemstones are mined from Idaho.
  • Idaho’s state seal is the only one in the U.S. designed by a woman. In 1890, Emma Edwards Green submitted the design for the State Seal competition sponsored by the First Legislature for the State of Idaho.
  • The drivers give wide berth to bicyclists. As a cyclist,  I noticed this again and again. It is greatly appreciated.
  • The lakes are beautiful and become warm enough in the summer to swim in. I really appreciate this, as I grew up on a lake in northern NJ and love swimming in fresh water.
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Cascade Lake

  • Outdoor activity is everywhere. Hiking? Yep. Biking? Yep. There are a lot of off the road bike paths, that are well maintained. I didn’t have to worry as much about traffic. Kayaking or Paddle Boarding? Yep.
  • Summer is full of special events. I spent one three-day weekend at the Roseberry annual Music Festival. There were three nights of great music. It was very much a family affair. Young children ran among the adults. I brought my folding chair, set it in place and wandered. The entertainment included local and nationally known bands. fullsizeoutput_80a9It was a great way to spend the weekend. The person who was in charge of parking gave me my favorite spot every night. Small towns are fun that way.
  • Wildlife abounds. I enjoyed all of it. The Sandhill Cranes called to me several times, early in the morning hours. I loved the fox that lived over near Roseberry and am happy that I got to take photos of her.

 

  • There were reminders that I was in the west. A favorite of my time here, was the day my friends and I came upon a herd of sheep, being herded by sheepdogs and people to the high country for the summer.
  • I looked forward to the drive across Cascade Lake every time I needed to go somewhere.
  • There were so many nicely graded dirt roads to venture off on.
  • Wildflowers abound. When one season is done the next one is coming into full bloom. Beautiful, just beautiful.
  • Have I mentioned the people? Everyone was welcoming. I could always find someone to aid me when I needed it. I walked into a dentist office, in McCall, and asked if I could make an appointment for a dental cleaning. No problem. They didn’t need x-rays, they didn’t contact my dentist they just got me in.
  • Water abounds. Lakes, rivers, streams, waterfalls and all were running wild and well above normal this past spring.
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    Sawtooth Mts & Stanley Lake

    I love water.

  • Idaho is home to beautiful mountain ranges. I loved the short time I spent at the edges of the Sawtooth Wilderness. It was stunning.
  • Boise is known for it’s Greenbelt. It was off-limits to me this spring (too much water) yet now I am able to get out and bike distance with little interference. It rides along the Boise River where a late summer past time appears to be floating the river in rafts and inner tubes.

I will treasure my Idaho summer for a long time to come. It has given me time to be introspective, have fun out there in the wilds and be reminded of the importance of community.

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Next stop, Oregon and the Eclipse.

 

Life is an Adventure

Sometimes I try to get creative when I write a new post. After leaving it for a few days, I come back, review it and am amazed that it sounds awful and pretentious. I delete it and start over.

When I first started this blog, I sat in front of my computer and tried to think creatively and I was an utter failure. I could think of nothing to say. Then this little voice inside me said “write from your heart”. I have been doing this ever since.

I just deleted a post I started a few days ago. What makes me think I can write as an expert or an authority on anything? I am mucking through my existence like most others. Each day I can look at what I have accomplished or not accomplished and realize I am still trying to figure “it” out. Some days I feel like I am a bit closer to knowing and some days it feels like I am just starting out.

 

Life is an adventure. When I was single, back in my 20’s and 30’s, I explored and questioned and found amazing things. Many topics helped me stretch my boundaries and grow in ways I would have never imagined. I traveled to exotic and not so exotic places. I studied with teachers. Everything I did shaped me into who I am today.

So the real question becomes, who am I today? I know I am an accumulation of my life experiences, which seems like a pat answer, with no definition at all. Over the past few months I have had time to reflect on this question and, guess what?, I still have no answer.

I like to think of myself as an honest and kind person. Most of the time I am there, yet, not always. I keep learning from others. Linda who, along with her husband, loaned me their “cabin” in northern Idaho has been a good example for me. We have had some long and interesting talks. I realized that I would like to follow her example of taking a situation and looking at it from many perspectives. There is no black and white, not really, in this world we humans inhabit. I realize that I do not have the whole picture in any situation I walk into. It is good to step back and observe more, create less opinions or judgement too early. By doing this I have met and developed some very good and loving friendships. I have grown in my own person and feel I am the better for it.

It is hard to acknowledge that I am full of human frailty, like most others. What I choose to do with this knowledge leads me in repeated and new directions. It helps me to grow and change and I would like to think become more bendable, like trees blowing in the wind. It is OK to be frail because within that is strength, determination, growth and kindness. I don’t mind bending like the wind, as long as I come back up straight, sure and strong and enjoying life as it is, in this moment.

 

 

The Life of a Swamper

As many of you may know, I am spending a part of my summer in Donnelly, Idaho. It is up in the mountains and is, simply, a delightful place to be. I came into the area late in May and have been spending time, first, in Boise (a great medium size town) and now here in Donnelly.

I interrupted my stay for two weeks, so I could travel to northern Montana and join a group of people and raft down the North Fork of the Flathead River. I have never been on a private multi-day raft trip before. It has a very different flavor than a commercial trip. It is work!!! The rafts have to be hauled to the put in, blown up and outfitted. It takes approximately 3 hours to complete this project. It is not easy work. Many items are heavy.  Team effort is a definite must and this group of sixteen excelled in helping others.

I was the swamper of my friend, Mary’s, raft. What, you may ask, is a swamper? Originally the term was used in the logging industry but when it comes to rafting, well, it is a whole different story. Swampers help with everything. Loading the raft?  Yep. Unloading the raft? Yep. Hauling stuff from point A to point B? Yep. Now those tasks sound easy but there is a lot involved. Each item on a raft has a certain place. Everything is double checked to be sure it is strapped down and locks, locked. Does the raft need to be pumped up? Here, let me do that. If anyone needs help in and around the campsite, well there is another job to be done. I decided early on I wanted to make Mary’s and my life easier. I chose to learn quickly so she had less to do with the boat as each day progressed. She could, then, focus on other tasks. By the end of the week, I was pretty much responsible for packing the raft for the day. Mary and I worked well together and made quite a team. I am proud to be called a swamper.  Next trip, if there is one,  I want to learn to row.

At the end of the floating day, my fun began. I set up my tent and took off exploring with my camera. We camped mainly on sand or rock bars on the non-National Park side of the river. Glacier National Park was our east river backdrop. Each day was a beautiful ride. There was always something interesting to explore. I found bear tracks, Sandhill Crane tracks, and we think, wolf tracks. Now how cool is that? One night I camped near a Spotted Sandpiper’s nest. We made good room-mates for a night. I felt honored.

 

I found that the moments of alone time, helped me balance living for a week with sixteen other people. For those of you who have been following my blog, you may recall that being around large groups of people has been an issue for me since Jim’s death from cancer. I enjoyed all of the people I traveled with for the week. It was interesting and fun to watch the group dynamics unfold. Please remember that the majority of this group had already been traveling together for about a week. Some of these folks have been traveling together for many years. They were like one big happy family with all their quirks and fun. I enjoyed getting to know all of them. I enjoyed the stories and laughter. It was fun to join in.

Beaver

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now I am back in Donnelly, Idaho. I am recovering. I am healing sun burned lips. I have an infection in my big toe. It has given me the opportunity to soak my foot and relax a little. It is a good time to write blog posts.✍🏻 Soak and Write.

I am getting to know the area I am staying in for the next month plus. I take long walks, am hoping to rent a kayak and explore the lakes. I am also catching up on some much needed chores. Daily chores do not go away just because I am leading a gypsy kind of life.

My closest lake.

Sunset not too far from my door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As this swamper rests and heals, I can look out the door at the mountains and get ready to hike. Life is an adventure I am glad to take on.

 

What to do Next

Have you ever read a seemingly light fiction book, only to discover it is exactly what you needed to read? I have just finished “The Undomestic Goddess”. It is a delightful little read, a great summer book.

“Sometimes you don’t need a goal in life. I reply, lifting my chin. You don’t need to know the big picture. You just need to know what you are going to do next.”                                                                  The Undomestic Goddess, Sophie Kinsella

For close to five years I have been trying to figure “it” out. When I was finished with the treatment for breast cancer, I tried to figure out how this changed my life and what I should do next. When Jim was diagnosed with cancer, I wondered why this happened. What do I do with this information? After he was diagnosed with metastasis from the original cancer, I started to plan what my life would look like without him. What if the worse happened? What do I do then?

After Jim’s death over five and a half years ago, I once again asked myself “What do I do next?”. What is the plan? How do I figure this out? Grief took over for a while, then I realized hard grief is not a place to stay for very long. It is overwhelming and all consuming and not much fun. There is no reward in grief.

Once the first couple of years was done I began to ask myself, what is next. What do I do now? I have been waiting for someone or something to come along and say this is it. This is next. I have been waiting for the great “Aha Moment”. So far that has not happened. My goal of “figuring it out” is still an illusion or a distant desire, yet to be fulfilled.

When I read the quote above, on some level, I got it. I don’t have to figure everything out. I just need to know what I am going to do next. That is it, no more-no less. I know, many of my friends and some strangers, as well, have been saying things like this to me for quite some time. Until I read that quote, I didn’t get it. I kept waiting for my life to fall into order, like magic.

Why I feel like my life should fall into order now, is beyond me. My life has never fallen into order. I have made my life happen. We all make our lives happen. Sometimes I trip and stumble and that is where friends and family come into play. They listen and sometimes advise and continue to support me, no matter what. Then I pick myself up and go off to explore the next adventure. The next edition of my life.

So for now I am going to work on what I am going to do next. And I know, that the big picture will fall into place. I don’t know when or where and that is OK. It will fall into place. In the meanwhile I hope I can catch the magic of the small moments and not be just waiting for the “Aha Moment”

My Adventure Two Weeks Ago. Rafting in Montanna

to happen.

It’s All About Water

Payette River

I am about water. We are all about water. We are made of water. Without water we and this planet would not exist as we know it today.

I love bodies of water great and small. This spring is about water in the west. There has been an abundant supply of snow this past winter and spring runoff is happening, in the lakes, rivers and streams. I have heard several comments from the locals here in Idaho regarding the amount of water in the rivers this spring. “I have never seen the Payette River this high.” “There is usually a beach here.” “Wow!”

Since Jim’s death the ocean has been my friend. I sent his ashes into the Pacific and I have found some comfort in being close to the ocean since then. Leaving the ocean behind was hard for me and I was wondering how much I would miss it. When I discovered these wild flowing bodies of water, I find, I have not missed the ocean one bit.

Pacific Ocean in all it’s Glory

I love water. I love it when it is quiet and meandering. I am attracted to weather at it’s worst. I think many of us are. There is something about nature in all it’s fury that beckons me to go outside, climb the mountain, stand on the sand and witness the un-tameness of it all. Big waves? You bet. Wild surf and bad storms? Yep. I once had to crawl under a boulder on a mountain peak while lightening struck and hail was coming down, fast and furious (it was a surprise storm). At these moments, when nature is in it’s full fury I am reminded that I am a speck in this universe. It is a good reminder and humbling.

Spring is a juicy time of the year. Water abounds and is usually at it’s most prevalent. There is still snow on the mountains, more water is still to come. This year I am going rafting for six days on the Flathead River in Montana. Ah, more water. I love to put my feet in water and if it is warm enough I love swimming in it. In San Diego, the summer is boogie-boarding season. There is a quiet joy in kayaking or paddle-boarding a peaceful lake. It is fun to  meander the shore-lines and see what I can see. There is nothing better than the sound of a loon on a quiet lake.

Fields near Donnelly

Since I have arrived in Donnelly, Idaho, I have been surrounded by large bodies of water, Cascade Lake and Payette Lake. As a nature photographer I really enjoy all this water. It attracts birds and all sorts of wildlife. If I want a chance to photograph, all I have to do is put on some mosquito repellant and sit by a lake or stream and wait. Right now the open fields have quite a bit of water in them. I can stop almost anywhere and wait. If I am quiet and patient enough the animals and birds will come. My favorites this spring are grebes and sandhill cranes. They are my current favorites until something else attracts my attention.

Greebe

Greater Sandhill Crane

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cascade Lake

Ponderosa State Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Water attracts all of nature, People, animals, birds, bugs-the list could go on. Water is a part of my life and I am happy to have it there. I like to camp next to it. Fishing is fun. There are times that I enjoy renting a hotel room right on the beach and sit and contemplate life, as the waves gently or not so gently crash onto the sand. When evening falls and a lake is still, the sunset is awe inspiring. It quiets my spirit before sleep.

Today and every day I celebrate water in all of it’s wondrous forms.

 

A Quick Update

Poncho

I made it to Boise, Idaho. I am house sitting in this beatifully situated town for a week. My charges are Poncho the dog and Misty the Invisible Cat. Why is she invisible? She resides most of the time under the master bed or under the covers. Ah it reminds me of Elsie the cat.

I am including a link to my latest post on the Roadtreking site.

Roadtreking: Celebrating the Small RV Lifestyle.

I thought you might enjoy reading of my adventures as I was heading for Idaho. Click on the underlined link above and it will take you to this post. I guest post for this site approximately twice a month. If you enjoy RV’ing you may want to follow this blog.

I also have updated my photos of my travels. If you would like to see more of these click on the link below and it will take you there.

Photos of Life in a Small Motorhome

When you look at the page on Shutterfly I have added some new albums. Zion National Park would be a good place to start and then move on from there. Idaho will be starting soon.😀

I am in Boise until later this week. When Linda and Steve return I will be heading north to Donnelly and McCall, Idaho. I am looking forward to spending some time in one place. It is time to catch up and reflect on a year since I sold my house and moved into my small and comfortable RV full time. There is more to come.

Meanwhile, I hope you are celebrating Memorial Day, well. Get out the grill and enjoy the day. While you are having fun and enjoying the beginning of summer, never forget what this holiday is all about. I remember as a child we would drive by cemetaries and see the American flag flying from the majority of graves. It was and always is a touching thing to see. Remember to honor those who have served or are serving today. It is part of the freedom we enjoy.