City Life · Construction · Lazer Creek Apiary · Products and Vendors · Supplemental Feeding

A Mule for Christmas (and other distractions from grading).

During a job interview many years ago,  I was asked whether I’d rather be an art critic or an artist.  I’ve never figured out what that had to do with being a computer programmer, but I do finally know the answer — I want to be an artist — or at least be creative!   I only spent 90 minutes grading this morning before the urge to empty the compost pot became the most important thing in my life, and that led to seeing a bee flying, which led to visiting the bee yard, which led to taking pictures, which led me back to the computer and this blog!   To grade, one must be a critic, and I find it hard to “criticize” according the criteria on a rubric.  Yes, I agree that it’s a fair way to grade, and, yes, students knew what the expectations were for their oral exam, but the happy feelings that blue skies and sunshine evoke makes it hard to give a student a failing grade!   Never mind that my dominant learning style is hands-on activity, my second most dominant is visual, and my least dominant is listening — and here I sit with 17.5 hours of oral exams to listen to.   I should not have procrastinated, and I probably shouldn’t be blogging, but just like every other year I’ll get through it somehow.

Feeding pollen and sugar to bees
Feeding pollen and sugar to bees

It’s only 48 degrees out this morning, but the bees are foraging and we want them to have as much stored as possible going into the predicted 20 degree nights next week, so it wasn’t just procrastination that led me down to the bee yard.  Cold as it is, there were so many bees on the pollen feeder station that I couldn’t get to the trays and had to scatter the pollen-sugar mix where the bees can get to it but the dog can’t.   (Maggie climbed a stack of shipping pallets to get to a pollen tray yesterday — you’d think we didn’t feed her sometimes!)   I so enjoy standing there listening to the sound of happy bees, especially on a day as beautiful as today.   We are just so lucky to have this little piece of heaven to call our own.

Work boots

What does any of this have to do with a mule?   Not much, but our Christmas present to each other this year was a Mighty Mule gate opener.   Well, it was hubby’s Christmas to me, and my gift was to graciously concede that it is money well spent!    Even on a good day, having to get out of the car and walk across the gravel to unlock the gate becomes tedious.   If I’m wearing anything other than my trusty work boots, the likelihood of a twisted ankle increases with the height of the heel.   Rain makes the process even less fun.  Last week’s thunderstorm actually made it somewhat hilarious.   If we do end up moving here before retirement, we need to somehow be able to get out of the gate in all weather still looking presentable enough to show up at work.

It took hubby a while to install the gate opener, partly because of the instructions,  partly because of all the adjustments and settings, and partly because the dog and I were hibernating in the camper instead of helping for much of the time.   By the end of the day on Christmas Day, he had everything working, but then spent most of the next day trying to get it to work right!   The gate opens fine, and even closes after 30 seconds.  The problem was that it randomly re-opened.   That doesn’t offer much security and is likely to run the battery down.   I searched the Internet for answers on our way to the family dinner and found that many people have problems with the wand that detects when a car pulls up to the gate to leave.   Hubby spoke with tech support and tried many things, but the final solution was along the lines of Hotel California — guests who have the code can check in any time they like, but they can never leave!   The wand is going back for a refund and hubby will research other solutions.

Maggie - exhausted
Maggie – exhausted

Well, it’s time to listen to at least a couple more exams — 7 down, 30 to go!   It makes me want to curl up with the dog and just take a nap.




City Life

Thankful students

It’s so easy to get bogged down with grading and challenging students throughout the school year, but this is the time of year we can step back and look at the forest instead of the trees — or is it look at the trees instead of the forest in this metaphor?



Thank you card

This is the time of year we receive thank you notes from students — those who do not surprise us with notes because they have shown appreciation all year long, and those who do surprise us because teenagers do not always show on the outside what they feel on the inside!

Another reminder is our senior assembly which we started doing because graduation takes place during the school day most years and not all teachers and students are able to attend.   It’s a wonderful time of hearing about the wide-array of accomplishments of individuals and groups.   I am in awe of the young people who sometimes frustrate me so much in the classroom, but who are so very talented!

Then today the school blog included a picture of one of my students playing a violin he had printed on the 3-D printer in his CAD class.   I remember when he showed me his first 3-D printed project and never dreamed he would graduate to printing violins in less than a year!

So…. my students say thank you and this time of year makes me stop and say thank you to all the people and events that led me down the twisty-turning path I took to becoming a teacher.   It really is a rewarding profession once you step back and look at the forest, or the trees, or whatever it is you need to focus on to see the beauty in the moment!

City Life · Hive equipment

Delays, delays, and more delays!

Bee on lavender, June 2016

Last week we spent two days at the farm, went to workshops, and returned home for dental appointments.  We had planned to head back to the farm yesterday, but that didn’t work out.   We intended to check the bees in the out yards on Saturday, and are just getting around to doing so today.  It’s been a busy weekend and week.

The good news is that I was able to get the bones of the website coded and uploaded.  It took me a while to get back into writing HTML, but that part of my brain finally kicked back into gear and I’m happy with the design.  I have used CoffeeCup Software for web design for at least 15 years, but this was my first time using their Responsive Site Designer to create a template which I then edited through the HTML editor.   If I decide to start creating websites for other people again, I will probably buy and spend the time learning to use the site designer, but for now it was less of a learning (relearning) curve to just do things the old-fashioned way!   I’ve also really enjoyed taking and editing photographs to use on the site.    We still have to take inventory and then decide on pricing for items, but updating that won’t take me long at all.  The deciding is going to be what sucks all the time out of the days ahead!


Brushy Mountain English Hive

We used one of the website pictures for our business cards so that the site and the cards have similar themes.   We realized that we needed to get cards when we met many great people at the workshops last week.  The business card picture features the English Hive that hubby won at the Bee Institute — we set it up next to one of our Adirondack chairs  and I love sitting there watching the bees fly in and out.

Hubby also cut wood and built hive boxes, covers, and bottom boards, which I then painted.  I do have to wonder about his math sometimes as I’m sure he told me there were 10 covers to paint.  I stopped counting at 13…..   Maybe he didn’t think I’d go outside to start painting if I knew the real scope of the project.  (He’s probably right — it was HOT out there!)

Now we just have to replace the rusted-out bolts from a toilet tank, check the other toilets to see how close they are to springing leaks, vacuum seal and freeze the whiskey-honey ribs I cooked yesterday , and then maybe take a nap before deciding when to leave the big city for the peace and quiet of the country.   Not being on the farm has been frustrating, but the days in the city have been productive and satisfying.