Monday, May 31, 2010

Back in bees-ness!

Sorry for the pun! My bees arrived Saturday night. My mentor forced swarms into my two hives and I have two young and possibly sexy Carnolian queen bees hard at work, laying eggs:

They are closer to the house this year, behind the garage with several varieties of mint plants growing around them, which they should love! Last year they were way out in the back of beyond, by the pond in our woodlot. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

The hive on the left is my fancy new hive of British design, the one on the right is my old used standard hive. It'll be interesting to see if one hive fares better than the other, although the green one is already ahead because it has drawn comb (the wax has already been drawn out into hexagonal cells by the bees, rather than being a flat sheet of foundation), whereas the one on the left does not.

My mentor William brought the hives over in his truck after sunset on Saturday, and he and Gordon quickly put them in place. The girls were, not surprisingly, quite cranky after their journey. Poor Gordon didn't move away fast enough; he came up to me in the semi-dark, gesturing at his firmly shut mouth. Impaled on his top lip was a very agitated honeybee! I quickly pulled her off, then we went inside the house and I removed the stinger. The unfortunate bee did not survive. When honeybees sting, they do it as a last measure because if the sting a human/mammal, the stinger gets caught in the skin by its barb and rips out the bee's abdomen!

The result is that Gordon now has lips that would be the envy of Goldie Hawn:

Meanwhile, things were going fine at the hives on Sunday. Here's a worker bee being met by a guard bee as she flies back with a load of pollen. That yellow "ball" at the top of her hind leg is actually pollen stuffed into her pollen "basket." She has one basket on each of her rear legs:

And here are the cranky bees in the green hive. After I took this, one came at me and started bouncing off my hair, buzzing angrily. This is always a sign that it's time to walk quickly away from the hive!

I have to put a new super (in this case, a deep box like that already on the hive) on top of this, because according to William, the girls have almost filled all the comb in this hive already with honey and brood! Tight quarters -- no wonder they are cranky.

In my first year of beekeeping, I was not stung once! Gordon and I have both been stung in the past, though, and didn't have allergic reactions, so we should be safe from anaphylactic shock, (although I understand that can develop at any time, but isn't all that common.)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Art Fayre 2010

One of our local papers, the bilingual Hawkesbury Tribune Express, has done a write-up on our upcoming Art Fayre at the Glengarry Pioneer Museum in Dunvegan, Ontario. They featured a photo of one of my rugs in the write-up:

This year the Art Fayre runs June 12 - 13th from 11am to 4 pm each day. Sixteen local artists will be featured in the event (including me and my bloggy friends Ronna and Fran), with lots of fun activities like artist demonstrations, a "Doodle Tent" and the "Artist Trading Card Table", plus of course lots of wonderful art for sale!

The Pioneer Museum is located at 1645 County Rd. 30 in Dunvegan, about an hour from Ottawa and an hour from Montreal. I encourage you to attend! All the info can be found here.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Birds of different feathers

This adorable Eastern Kingbird was hanging around my house all day yesterday, peering in the windows. The photo is murky because my office window is FILTHY and I used the zoom on my camera, but you get the idea...

I love these guys! They are very spunky.

Meanwhile, down in Chicken-Land, somebody laid the biggest egg yet, at 116 grams or 4.0918 ounces! We haven't had a whopper like this in months (which is good, because they shouldn't be laying these monstrosities on a regular basis!)


Friday, May 28, 2010

I took a bite out of the Big Apple...

I just got back from two nights in New York City, where I went to pick up the IPPY silver medal for the kids' book I illustrated, Katie of the Sonoran Desert. Here I am with my friend Brian and the arm candy employed for the event. (Very nice young man and woman!) The author couldn't attend as she is currently on a herpetological expedition in the Congolese jungle!

Brian and me amongst the revellers. I should employ Brian as my agent; he was talking up the book to everyone and making lots of intros.

Brian and another award winner, the highly-amusing and well-hydrated author of
L.A. Nuts!

Before the awards, we walked around NYC a bit. Brian took me to Times Square. "Arrest me, officer, on the crime of loving NYC too much!"

Times Square. Complete and utter chaos!

W. 43rd and Times Square... the lights are very bright!

Uncle Sam wants you, and so do I. The recruitment centre at Times Square. Because why else would you visit Times Square, if not to join the army? Although I hear Uncle Sam is not so keen on pink in his army. :((( One hopes that will change soon.

Me and Brian, who is not only a great friend but an excellent book promoter and a fabulous tour guide.

The very cool Westin Hotel.

Traffic cop in New York, a job I would NOT want!

I love New York rooftops!



That's the Empire State building peeking out against the blue sky.

Remember our visit to NYC last year, when Brian was entranced by the ad outside the subway entrance across from Carnegie Hall?

At the time, I attempted a re-enactment of the ad:

This year, it was Brian's turn:

(Click to enlarge to appreciate the full effect!)

I love New York, but it's always good to get home.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

It's a dog's life...

We recently threw out the dogs' beds, which were completely revolting -- too many direct hits with vomit and mud and God-knows-what else! We have mail-ordered some interesting air-mattress dog beds from the US (with double protective covers) that I hope will never descend to the depths of stench that our usual dog beds do. Meanwhile, the poor tortured dogs are sleeping on towels, worn blankets, and old patio furniture cushions. But lately there has been an interloper in doggy-land...

"Mummy, make it get off my bed!"

Ah, that little cat Naomi knows where to find comfort!

"One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn't belong..."

Monday, May 24, 2010

Scrabble cats

Last night we played a rousing game of Scrabble, and Alex found a great place to nap:

For the record, according to the Scrabble dictionary, "gook" is not just a racist insult, but also means "guck" or thickly-applied make-up. Gordon wanted that clarified, since it's one of the words on the board!

Meanwhile, Julius snoozes on the kitty credenza, high above us all...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

One left...

One copy of Katie of the Sonoran Desert is left on Amazon. Buy it now so I can brag about it being sold out. I am off to NYC on Tuesday to pick up a silver medal at the IPPYs. :)

Buy me. I am lonely here all by myself!

Relentless, yes I am! (Yoda, I aspire to be!) If you want to see some interior pictures from the book, check out my online portfolio here.

I need to sell books to fund my ticket to A Little Night Music on Broadway! (Angela Lansbury and Catherine Zeta-Jones, ooooo! Wednesday matinee, I am so there.) As I was out sweating in the torrid heat today, weed-whipping up a frenzy and spraying myself with grass bits as I fried in the sun, I thought, "I bet Catherine Zeta-Jones has a cabana-boy for stuff like this!: My own cabana-boy, aka Gordon, was inside making me lunch at the time.

I have to go do laundry for NEW YORK, where I intend to schmooze with the independent publishing set.

And I promise to stop harping on about this very soon!

Honeybee in May

I have a feeling that this summer is going to be a much better one for honeybees, given the spring we've had. I took this with my little Canon Elph and I have to say, I'm really impressed with the video quality on that thing!

My two hives of bees unfortunately died last November. My mentor thought they starved to death; it was a rough summer for them due to all the cold and rain. He lost four of his 40 hives in November too.

Two of my beehives are currently at my mentor's place. He is forcing swarms into them, and will then drive my hives (and the thousands of bees inside!) back to our farm.

If you watch the video, you can see Miss Honeybee's straw-like reddish tongue sucking out nectar. The dandelions are extremely popular right now, as are the flowering trees.

For all you who are terrified of honeybees, try not to be. If you have an allergy, of course you should stay away, but as you can see, a honeybee at work isn't really interested in you unless you are deliberately harassing her. I was holding the camera very close to this one and she paid no heed. I often sit in the garden closely watching the bees on the flowers and it's fascinating. Honeybees are not generally aggressive unless you are swatting at them or invading their hive. Hornets are another story...

If you ever notice yellow pollen on the back legs of a honeybee, that's because they have pollen "baskets" there where they store the pollen they are collecting. The sacs get bigger and bigger as the foraging goes on. When the bee is all full up with pollen and/or nectar, she goes back to the hive to drop off her delivery!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Ten hours in a car with my beloved

Ah, memories of our anniversary trip to Massachusetts! More of the usual silliness. Sorry about the fuzzy bits; that's what happens when you hold the camera with your toes.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The ladies

The ladies are always eager to get out of their coop in the morning, however they are no longer allowed to free-range unless we are out there with them, because I'm tired of losing chickens to coyotes and the neighbours' dog(s).

Gordon finished a sturdy but unattractive outside run for them. The ladies are locked in the coop by sunset, because this run would not survive a predator determined to spend a long time digging underneath it, and it just has bird netting on top. However, the ladies seem to like it. They have killed the grass, spread the gravel (that was in a thin band up against the barn) over two-thirds of the coop, and are digging holes to dust-bathe in. They are also patently ignoring the delicata squash I tossed in there for them.

Not to worry, that black one in a heap on the ground is dust-bathing, not dead!

Last Sunday, the girls got to run free all day, as we were outside gardening with them. Anastasia looks quite pleased with herself:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Another nice walk...

We're having beautiful weather this week, and the dogs and I had a nice walk this afternoon. We saw lots of honeybees:

A hawk moth (aka hummingbird moth, aka super-cool moth!):

The dogs had a nice swim in the river:

Lots of frogs hopping about today:

Tristan had a dip in our algae-clogged pond:

And a non-rainbow rainbow... it wasn't raining, so there must be another name for this horizontal prism-thing in the sky. Anyone?

Meanwhile, Alex enjoyed a nap on the front porch.

A lovely day!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Spring weekend

It was a lovely weekend! Saturday night we had a great dinner with our friends Ronna (Poutine Queen) and Richard. Gordon was honoured that Ronna's 20-year-old cat Domino settled down on his lap for some lovin'. Despite appearances to the contrary, Gordon did not have her in a death grip!

Domino gets a milky cup of tea every night, made especially for her by Ronna. Lucky kitty!

Ronna made a fantastic cake (she makes a lot of fantastic cakes). This one was a veggie patch cake, with a line of carrots and a line of radishes (or beets!)

And when you sliced it, you found carrots and radishes (or beets!) growing beneath the surface:

Yummy yum yum! Ronna is a true cake artiste.

Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day, and we spent it outside.

The black walnut trees next to the barn and a very blue sky.

Tristan the noble Vizslador (Lab/Vizsla cross!)

We have a bunch of fruit trees to plant, so Gordon worked on that. We got plums, pears, apples, sour cherries and flowering crabapples.

Tristan likes to help. He lay down next to Gordon and stared at the hole being dug.

My very good doggies!

The lilacs are blooming and they smell divine.

The hens were outside with us and the dogs all day, and were very happy to have a chance to run around (with us keeping an eye on them!)

And my young French hairdresser decided I needed a new hairdo...

It was a looong week, but a great weekend!