Bees, Laundry, and a Golden Birthday

28 February 2013

Today is the 28th, and it is my 28th birthday.

It's already been a perfect day. I showered and washed my hair, I'm wearing polka dotted jeans, I'm completely ignoring a stack of student papers that I should have graded by tomorrow, and I'm staring out at the loveliest day we've seen in weeks.

I've spent most of the day drawing pictures of balloons for Jake. He's obsessed. I think I've drawn 500 balloons in the past two days.


I asked him to draw his own balloons, and he proceeded to write on my legs.


Other than that I've been doing housework.

I tend to be pretty productive on birthdays. My inclination is to be lazy, but in preparation for being lazy I end up cleaning my kitchen and bathroom and sweeping and mopping. I walk around the house all day seeing messes and saying to myself: "It's your birthday! You DESERVE a clean sink!" And then I clean it.

One thing I haven't done much of today is laundry. A few weeks ago we had to move the hives, and now they sit happily side by side on the tier down from our apartment. Here they are all pretty.


The move went pretty well. Except I'm not in love with their location. Why? Well take a gander back up at that picture and ask yourself about those green wires extending off the image to the right. Here we go zooming out.


That would be my clothesline. Half of which is now retired. And I can only hang laundry before the sun hits the beehive or after the sun goes down because otherwise I'm in the flight path. So with half the clothesline and only early morning and late evening for hanging clothes you can imagine how far behind I am in laundry.

Very. Far. Behind.

So this morning had me attempting in my birthday fervor to get a little ahead. I tootled down to the yard to retrieve dry clothes and string out some newly washed diapers while Jake wandered precariously on the brick steps. 


There are lots of unforgiving steps on the property, and we've recently let the leash out on those steps for the toddler. He's pretty good, but it makes me SO nervous. But we're not talking about toddler milestones, we're talking about bees and laundry.

So I was a little late to do the laundry job. The sun was just hitting the hive, and the bees were beginning to get active. I figured I'd make it quick.

But then the bees seemed extra loud. Alarmingly loud. Like not coming from the hives but from right next to my head loud. And low and behold, I turn around and I'm eye-level with this:


So no laundry got hung, and I ran away.

This is the fourth time our hives have split since the bees moved in last year. One of those swarms we caught, but the rest we've let fly away with a prayer because two domesticated hives is more than enough for our little corner of LA. I did go get the camera though - for my readership - and managed to snap the above picture right before they began to swarm. As the clump began to dissolve, I hightailed it up the steps with a toddler under one arm and a DSLR under the other. Within moments the sky was filled with bees.


Bees bees everywhere slowly moving to the southwest. 

The ancient gardener at our last apartment, Rosario, used to say that bee swarms are good luck which seems very appropriate on this my golden 28th.

The mad photography skills in this post warrant a link up with The Clan. The theme is Happiness or Joy, so I think pictures of bee swarms and body-painting toddlers will fit right in.

Alright. Off you go to make me feel special with well wishes and congratulations in the comment box. And go see Cari for all the other pictures people are taking on my birthday. 

Creative Katie

14 February 2013

As Ana is hosting a Valentines Creativity Link Up I thought it was about time to post a couple of my recent projects. So get ready for some amateur sewing and photography. Here we go.

As soon as we recovered from Christmas, and the craziness that is syllabus writing was in my rear view, I began to think about my teacher wardrobe. For the past three semesters I've only taught once or twice a week, but this semester I teach three times a week. And that, my friends, is a lot more outfits. Trust me. It is. I'm good at math. So while looking through my woefully ill-fitting wardrobe, I decided to sew myself something. A friend of mine had recently hooked me up with a bag full of fabric that she'd gotten for almost nothing at a garage sale, so this garment would only cost me a zipper.

I found my tutorial here and gave it a go. I've never sewed anything more complicated than a pillow case, so this was promising to be a real challenge. But Jacob - in his Waldorfian glory - has a lot of sewing experience so I figured that with him on my left and internet tutorials on my right, I'd be able to manage.

And after three naps and three night nights I had myself a skirt.

I almost ironed it for the photo shoot. But then I didn't.
Rudimentary darts? Check. Poor seam to zipper transition? Check. A slit that's not quite tall enough and flaps up a little? Check and check.
And here is the satin lining which makes me feel like Mammy from Gone with the Wind.
And the zipper. The tears I cried. Not really. But it was a doozy.

Enough pictures yet? No? OK. Here's another one of me standing on the table and awkwardly kicking up my leg.

The skirt's been finished for about four weeks, and I've worn it about eight times. I haven't gotten a single comment on it, but I'm still crossing my fingers for the moment when I get to drop the "I made it" bomb, because despite its flaws - of which there are many - I'm ridiculously proud of it.
 Part Deux

This second project took about 20 times longer than the skirt and got me through a lot of bad TV. Behold. Pillow:
I love love love embroidery and embroidering. Holding that hoop and all the stitches and colors. Now that this is done I'll probably embark on something a little more elaborate. But that might be after Easter when TV is no longer on the Lenten altar.

  Any. How. Happy Valentines day. Do something pretty and pink.


13 February 2013

Last Wednesday Jacob and I found ourselves at the Chinese Theater for the premiere of this film which was produced by the good ole employer and payer of most bills Rhodes and for those reasons I will refrain from saying too much about the movie...except that neither Emma Thompson nor Jeremy Irons attended the premiere.  


I don't have any prom-esque pictures for you. Just this one of Jacob biting his lip and that will have to suffice

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. We’ve been to similar events before, but I’m sure I’ll always vainly enjoy seeing our name on The List. And the after parties are always top notch. Free food. Free drinks. Fancy hotels. Over the top décor. I mostly want to just retreat to the one open seat (Oh, wait. This couch is reserved for celebrities? And that one too? Oh all of them? Smile. Nod. Scurry away.) to drink in peace and talk to Jacob whilst eyeing the room for famous people. In no other circumstance do I catch eyes with strangers as often as I do at these parties, because everyone else – just like me – is looking around for famous people.

But the wifey didn’t get to hole up in a corner with her glass of red and instead had to go socialize with the coworkers. I don’t do a good job at this. I’m constantly juggling a plate of food, a glass of wine, and shaking hands with people while racking my brain to remember if I’ve met them before. At one point we were talking with the head of Jacob’s department, and I took a bite of salad and felt some roasted beet go tumbling out of my mouth. I figured it wasn’t too noticeable, and I didn’t want to draw any attention, so I played it cool, kept chitchatting, and internally apologized to the wait staff who’d soon have to clean up my droppings. The apology was ultimately unwarranted, however, because fifteen minutes of “hellos” and “how are yous” later I found the bit of food clinging to my bicep.

The night ended when the dessert was too sweet to warrant seconds and the memory of a 5:30 wake up was calling me back to my bed. But not without hi-fiving this old friend on our way back to the parking garage.


Such is another brief encounter with Hollywood since I know you, and I know you’re all just red-carpet-starved.

Mardi Gras Stings

09 February 2013

I'm sitting on my couch eating cookie dough and thinking about the impending darkness of Lent. 

When I first converted to Catholicism I LOVED Lent. It was my favorite liturgical season. Today I get tired just thinking about the sacrificial lengths I went to then. I couldn't get enough of the privation before the feast, and I would make lists and lists of self-denying, soul-ennobling activities. Now, a few years in, I've calmed down a lot - maybe the cool Catholic kids will finally start hanging out with me.

I was pretty chill last Lent. I think my primary sacrifice was avoiding Jacob's and my "signature fight." I don't know if every couple is this way, but it didn't take long for me to realize that Jacob and I only had one real fight - we had it over and over again to be sure - but it was always the same one. It always boiled down to a central issue. So last Lent my goal was to avoid the triggers to this fight. It was a really rewarding experience, chock full of lip-biting. I'm currently trying to think of a similar sacrifice for the impending lenten desert and simultaneously devouring the cookie dough in case said sacrifice happens to involve sugar or chocolate or...raw eggs.

We went to a supremely awkward Mardi Gras at church this evening. We are constantly hopping between two parishes here in LA. One is in Beverly Hills and has a lovely choir and the other hosts Jacob's Knights of Columbus chapter. The two parishes have rivaling Mardi Gras parties. The Beverly Hills one is tripping with all kinds of cool. It's filled with young-ish people and lasts until the early morning hours, mountains of crawfish and cocktails. But the Knights...well at the Knights' party the florescent lights stay on in the parish hall. The forty people in attendance offer a median age of around 70. The jazz band is decent but almost everyone leaves during the band's first break and people start cleaning up. The band returns to about three elderly couples who unabashedly rule the dance floor for the last set. The dessert table is filled with lemon flavored bundt cakes. And it's perfect. I love it so much. And that's where we were tonight. Jake was adorably mellow throughout the evening since it was way late for him. He sat in my lap and watched the band for about fifteen minutes, and that is a toddler record for him by far. One sweet little lady introduced him to the joy of Mardi Gras beads and he adorned himself with every strand he saw.

Mardi Gras Jake 
It was adorable, and Jacob and I shamelessly played parent paparazzi as he pulled necklace after necklace over his little towhead. 

Jacob has spent the last half hour moving the beehives about fifteen feet away from their current location - at our landlord's insistence. It's unwise to move hives in such close proximity to their old location because the similar surroundings cue them to head to their old spot instead of acclimating to their new one. Even though it's dark and most of the bees are in the hive, a few minutes ago, so many lost bees were attracted to the light in the living room that it sounded like rain hitting the windows.

So I turned off the lights. And now I'm blogging in the dark. But I must go because Jacob is insisting that I come "take care of him." He guesses he got stung about fifteen times and even feels a sting on his "buttox." 

Saturday night. QED.

Blogoversary Thoughts on a Quiet Morning

02 February 2013

The Jacobs went to the gym this morning and to score some 2/1$ avocados at Sprouts. So here I sit, sipping on the last mildly warm drops of my chai tea reflecting on two whole big years of maintaining a blog - however spotty.

I wouldn't have remembered that today was any type of -versary except that it is Groundhog Day. Which for the UDer is a sacred day of dancing and music and ideally sylvan inebriation (i.e. a kegger in the woods). So tonight I will be meeting up with other alumni to enjoy some free beer and toast the alma mater.

Life is very different today than it was two years ago when I started this blog. Two years ago I was pregnant and finishing grad school and we lived in a tiny converted garage that they have sense demolished and replaced with a mega mansion. Two years ago we'd just lost our beehive and were about to lose our primary income. Two years ago we hadn't met our son.

I could list all the ways our lives have changed in the last couple of years for a VERY long time, but it's more difficult to talk about how I have changed. But I know I've changed a lot. Certainly, I'm still the same person generally: the same quirks, the same annoying habits. I still get uncomfortable and frustrated whenever I try to do my hair or paint my nails. I still tackle all types of labor intensive projects - sewing, crocheting, food fermenting, gardening - without ever mastering any of them.  I still make all kinds of To Do lists and almost never complete the tasks.

So perhaps I'm pretty much the same person I was two years ago. Except now that I have a little one, I'm looking at the world from an entirely different angle, and with this new perspective I feel changed to the core.

It reminds me of a painting by an artist I once got to hear speak at a Christians in the Visual Arts (CIVA) Conference I attended as a teenager. I went to a talk by the artist Makoto Fujimara about some of his Images of Grace. He showed us a slide of one painting in particular. The painting was huge and a deep deep red. On the left side of the painting was an unassuming vertical gold line that stretched to the top of the canvas. He talked about this painting - this image of grace. In his broken English he communicated that, because of how the painting was installed, as you approach it all you see is the red. But when you arrive at the painting, when you stop and look - he said - you see the gold line. And then that is all you see. 

So. Abruptly done with my somber ramblings. Off with you to other blogs to find some chuckles. Here's a pic of Jake copying his big friend on the swing while wearing his "bastetball shoes."

Happy Groundhog Day!  Drink a beer like it was my idea!
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