Daybook for May 23

Because I’m out of ideas and haven’t the time to think of something clever today:

For today…

Outside my window… birds singing and a car that needs to be cleaned and repainted before I go on vacation.
I am thinking… I should go get my hair cut today.
I am thankful for… my new glasses.
From the kitchen… probably Spaghetti-O’s on toast for lunch.
I am wearing… jeans from Drysdales, rope sandals from the Tijeras Arts Market, and an old Route 66 Marathon T-shirt.
I am reading… The Fly on the Wall — one of the few Hillerman novels that isn’t set on the Navajo reservation.
I am hoping… to finish the updates on the new edition of Route 66 for Kids so I can upload it to Kindle before tourist season gets into full swing.
I am creating… a new chapter in my life.
I am praying… to enjoy the day.
Around the house… boatloads of leftover stuff from my classroom that needs to be sorted and put into storage.
One of my favorite things… quiet mornings to myself.
few plans for the rest of the week… finish the book update, steam the carpets at church, clean the car, repaint the hood, watch the movies I promised to review for our school librarian, head west on 66 with a more or less clear plate.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you…

Ludlow Coffee Shop, Ludlow, Calif.

This is where I intend to be exactly one week from now. Best breakfast stop on Route 66, bar none.


Vegan experiment

It will be a cold day in Goffs before my beekeeping, cappuccino-loving, chicken-owning self goes all-out vegan, but since I’m planning to whip myself back into marathon shape this summer and have a little down time to spend in the kitchen next week, I thought I’d look into the feasibility of swapping about three-fourths of my usual diet for vegan alternatives, which tend to be an ideal fuel for distance runners.

With that in mind, I test-drove a couple of recipes today. I forgot to take pictures, but the results were good enough that I thought I’d share the recipes, such as they are.

The first recipe was a mock tuna salad made from chickpeas. I know what you’re thinking, and I thought the same thing, but I found this recipe over at Namely Marly and decided to riff on it a little bit. Here’s my version:

Drain a can of garbanzos and mash ’em up with a fork. We’re not talking hummus-smooth here; just knock ’em down to a coarse mush and call it good. Stir in a finely chopped rib of celery, a handful of halved grape tomatoes, a handful of chopped pecans or walnuts, about a tablespoon of mustard, and about half a cup of Nayonaise and serve as you would tuna salad. It’s doesn’t taste precisely like tuna salad, but it’s close enough, and Ron liked it, so I’ll probably make it again.

As I was buying bananas for smoothies the other day, I noticed a sticker on the bananas for something called “Yonanas,” the description for which sounded like a glorified smoothie. I Googled it, and lo and behold, it is a glorified smoothie made in an overpriced small-batch food processor.

I looked over the recipes and decided I could get the same results with a blender and a Mason jar. I peeled and chunked up a couple of bananas and stuck them in the freezer last night. This evening, I put them in the blender, a little at a time, with a splash or two of horchata (which was all I had on hand, but soymilk would work just as well) and processed them until they were the texture of slightly melted soft-serve ice cream. Not bad. I’ll swap chocolate syrup for the horchata next time to give it more flavor.

Tomorrow: tabouli with couscous instead of bulgur.



I’ll have a post about my experiences at Webster later, but right now — at the conclusion of our last day of school, and with things 99 percent wrapped up in my classroom — I’m content just to sit and rest and gloat over the fact that by this time next week, I will be in the passenger’s seat of the (hopefully by that point freshly cleaned and painted) Amazing Technicolor Dreamcar, sipping a slushie and heading west toward Tucumcari with the Flaming Lips in the CD player and absolutely nothing on my mind but the passing scenery.




Feel free to skip this post if you’re not interested in the minutiae of beekeeping; this is just recordkeeping. I keep hoping somebody will come out with an app for beeks, but so far, all I’ve found are glorified ebooks telling newbies how to set up a hive and whatnot — nice but useless for my purposes. In the meantime, I’ll just keep records here.

Mid-April 2012: Opened hives for inspection. All colonies progressing relatively well except Hive 3 (newer Buckfast), which seemed a bit sluggish. Minor hive beetle infestation in Hive 1 (Italians); evidence of beetles in 2 and 3 as well, but nothing serious. Good brood pattern in all four hives. Will need supers for all within the next month if nectar flow continues at current rate. All colonies smell good.

April 21: Could smell bees all the way to the back door. VERY good sign. Colonies all appear active and healthy.

May 1: Installed shallow supers on Hives 1, 3 and 4 (swarm hive). Hive 2 will need a super within the next couple of weeks. Need to order more supers from Dadant.

May 5: Discovered evidence of tampering in Hive 3. Learned that two men (non-beeks) had attempted to look into and/or remove honey from hive while we were out the evening of May 4. Girls successfully defended hive and drove away intruders. Top super damaged beyond repair. Installed old super full of Ross Rounds to keep colony from running out of space and swarming in interim. Hopeful that bees will accept unfamiliar setup; previous efforts to get them to use RRs have been unsuccessful. Concerned about possibility of swarm. Awaiting shipment from Dadant.

May 6-8: Bees in Hive 3 still agitated. Bearding more heavily than other colonies.

May 9: Bees in Hive 3 starting to settle down but still more agitated and bearding more heavily than usual.

May 10: Dadant shipment in. Will prep on Saturday and install new supers as needed Sunday.

May 12: Installed new shallow supers on Hives 2 and 4. Hive 4 has filled an entire super since May 1 and is halfway finished capping it. Hive 3 appears to be accepting Ross Rounds. Hive 1 has drawn out comb on all frames and is rapidly filling them. Some capping already in progress. Will need new super within a week if this pace continues. Airing out frames for that purpose this week.

The continued adventures of the Red Fork Bee Ranch

Beekeepers encounter all sorts of challenges in the course of establishing and maintaining healthy colonies. Ron and I have done battle with wax moths, small hive beetles, varroa mites, velvet ants, heat waves, cold snaps, and various other issues in our own apiary. We’ve lost queens, captured swarms, and scratched our heads in bewilderment after an apparently happy colony of Carniolans suddenly absconded one summer at the peak of nectar flow, taking their honey stores with them.

In northern regions, black bears are a common adversary, and rodents have been known to pillage weak colonies. African apiarists might tangle with honey badgers, and pesticides are a constant issue for beeks all over the United States.

After keeping bees for the better end of a decade, I thought we’d seen just about everything, but nothing could have prepared us for the latest madness:

While we were out to dinner with some friends last Friday evening, our neighbor’s son — a good-natured twentysomething who sometimes seems to possess more idealism than brain — and his buddy inexplicably decided to come over and open one of our hives. The guy was under the impression that he and the bees were “friends” because the girls frequently drink from mud puddles in his dad’s backyard, so he figured they wouldn’t mind if he looked into the hive.

I’ll let you guess how well that worked out for him.

Unfortunately, while the bees drove away the invaders easily enough, a super broke in the process, and we didn’t have a replacement because we had just worked the hives earlier in the week and were waiting on a Dadant shipment to replenish our supplies. We wound up having to replace it with a box of Ross Rounds, which our girls HATE.

A week later, they’re still grouchy, and they’re bearding more than our other three colonies. Mercifully, the new supers came in yesterday, so hopefully we can get them assembled, swap them out, and get the colony calmed down and back to normal.

Meanwhile, our miscreant reimbursed us for the broken super, and he has agreed to suit up and help me with this summer’s harvest. He is very excited about this. I expect his enthusiasm will wane after eight hours of capping, extracting, bottling, rendering, and mopping up afterward, but at least he’ll learn something, and I’ll have an extra pair of hands to help with the process.

It’s always something….


Next adventure

This is where I’ll be working when I get back from vacation next month. Fabulous, non? It’s even better inside. It was never a Harvey House, but it feels as if it should have been.

So far, it looks like I’m going to be writing a blog, helping organize events, and leading Route 66 tours.

Yeah, I don’t know how I pulled that off, either, but I’m pretty amped about it.


Whatever blesses one

September 2007. I’m driving along, minding my own business, when a question flashes across my thought, in second person, as if it’s coming from somewhere outside my own consciousness: What would you say if I told you I wanted you back in the classroom?

“Let me get back to you on that,” I choke, and for three days, I wrestle with the idea, remembering how rough my first year was and why I swore I’d never teach again.

I finally come up with a less-than-reverent response: “I don’t know how you think you’re going to pull this off, but you’re the omnipotent one. I’m not helping you with this, but if you’re bound and determined to do it, you just knock yourself out.”

Never, ever dare God to do anything.

March 2008. I get pink-slipped from the best job I’ve ever had.

September 2008. After a series of job changes, chance encounters, and offhand conversations, I find myself back in a sophomore English classroom. This time around, I’m ready for it, and I love it more than I ever imagined possible.

November 2011. I still love teaching, and I adore my students, but the constant demands of the job are wearing me down, and I can feel myself starting to burn out.

February 2012. Once again, I’m driving along, minding my own business, when another thought flashes across my consciousness:

You’ve done what I needed you to do. You don’t have to teach next year if you don’t want to.

Lovely thought, but I don’t trust it. I don’t have to teach next year if I don’t want to? What the hell is that supposed to mean? This is not how I understand God to work. People do not just get permission to make completely selfish decisions because they are tired. I shrug it off.

April 2012. We get word that our building will lose four teaching positions due to funding cuts.

I do the math. I’ve got enough seniority to be safe. But the most vulnerable person in my department also happens to be one of the best teachers in the building. He’s gotten through to kids I couldn’t reach, and he’s pushed kids past their own self-imposed limitations and demanded that they reach the potential most of them don’t even realize they have. We can’t lose him to budget cuts! My kids need him!

You don’t have to teach again next year if you don’t want to.

Suddenly it makes sense. I don’t have permission to make a selfish decision. I have permission to make the right decision. I need a break, and my kids need my colleague. It’s a no-brainer. I turn in my resignation, effective at the close of the school year.

Mary Baker Eddy once wrote, “Whatever blesses one blesses all, … Spirit not matter, being the source of supply.”

She was right.

I will miss my kids, but I’ve already lined up an interesting new job, so in the end, I get a graceful exit from the classroom, a friend gets to keep a job he loves, and my kids get the teacher they need next year.

We are all blessed indeed.