Category Archives: Photography

Eco-Saturday: Beekeeping

Hive inspection.

Assuming you don’t have anaphylactic allergies, beekeeping is pretty much the greatest hobby ever. Given the role of honeybees in the ecosystem, it’s also one of the best things you can do for the environment.

Rescuing a swarm. And baby-talking them, because OMGfuzzybees!

We started keeping bees when we lived in Belleville, Ill. I was having trouble finding cut comb to use as a treatment for hay fever, and I liked the idea of having pollinators living in my garden, so Ron’s parents gave us some old beekeeping equipment, and we ordered our first package of bees.

Mites killed them before the season was out. That could have been the end of the story, but then I interviewed a pair of beeks in Tulsa a couple of years later, and the next thing I knew, I was giving my credit card a workout on the Dadant website.

The first time I went out to inspect a hive myself, I was terrified, but I sucked it up, suited up and opened the cover.

(More after the jump, along with umpteen photos that will terrify my friend Marilyn if I post them without warning.)
Continue reading Eco-Saturday: Beekeeping

Small hint of spring

Before the sky decided to dump another round of ice on us, the weather warmed up briefly, and I caught a flash of yellow peeking from the layer of leaves huddled around my front porch.

I brushed back the leaf mold to find this:



One of the best things about moving into a new house is spending the next year finding the surprises previous occupants planted for you along the way. At our old house in Tulsa, we discovered grape hyacinths, one regular hyacinth, crocus, calla lilies (until too many years of drought killed them) and — once — a single red tulip. To that, we added a flowerbed full of peppermint and chocolate mint that release fragrance as you brush against them on the way to the front door, a prickly pear from Texas in one corner of the front yard, and a wisteria vine that festoons the pergola with clusters of soft purple blossoms from April to October. I hope the new owner enjoys them as much as we did.


Scenes from a relaxing afternoon

I spent part of last Saturday unwinding on the Makanda Boardwalk and wandering around Giant City and Carbondale a little bit. Here are a few visual highlights:

View from the log where I stopped to play ukulele and sing old Dylan songs quietly to myself.
Found this little guy in the garden behind Rainmaker. I can’t decide whether an eroded, crumbling Pan-cherub is cool or just creepy. Maybe both.
I will never get done being impressed with these crazy metal trees. Also, I am in love with that retaining wall.

In other news:

1. All my seeds have sprouted, and my mini-greenhouse has created a wonderful micro-climate. I need to put a rug or something under it to protect the floor from excess moisture, but it’s wonderful to open it up once a day and breathe in warm, moist, earth-scented air while I wait for spring.

2. A stylist recently informed me that my hair is now 50 percent gray, so I have spent the past few days diligently seeking a viable means of either lifting my henna or masking my roots while they grow out. I still think henna is the most magnificent dye on the planet, in terms of both color and conditioning properties, but ginger will never be as sexy as salt and pepper, no matter what the Doctor might think, and the plan has always been to use henna as a way to showcase my gray streak and keep my hair healthy until it’s ready to go full-on Emmylou. To that end, after fading the henna from auburn to copper with Color Oops! (which I’m told would strip out all of the henna if I had the patience to endure another nine hours’ worth of sinus-crushing brimstone fumes, which I don’t), I rustled up a red mousse that precisely matches the remaining color, rinses out in a single wash, and should keep my roots from looking too unkempt while they grow out. I caught a three-for-two sale, so by the time I run out of the stuff, the transition should be complete. W00t!


Little feet



Y’all know I pretty much hate winter. One of the few things that makes it tolerable: itty-bitty footprints in the snow. I think these are little squirrel footprints.

One of the other things that makes it tolerable: the contrast when you walk out of a warm gym on a cold night after a good workout. I don’t like being out in the cold very long, but the walk to the car is a nice way to cool down. (A nicer way to cool down is to walk out of a warm gym on an 80-degree night and hit a shaved-ice stand on the way home, but sadly, we’re still a good three months from that.)

Ah, well. By my calculations, there’s only one day of winter left.

That’s right, kids: Phillies pitchers and catchers report tomorrow. Whee!


Image from Highway 51

Here’s another photo I found in my archive as I was sorting it. I don’t think I’ve already posted this. It’s a long-abandoned grocery store we spotted one afternoon last summer as we were cruising Highway 51 in Southern Illinois:


If I remember right, this was just a little north of Cairo. I couldn’t resist shooting through the yucca that was blooming at the edge of the property. It was nice to catch a little glimpse of New Mexico in the middle of Southern Illinois.

On a completely unrelated note, I have been wildly productive today.

Despite blowing off a pretrial conference I’d planned to cover this morning in Illinois, I wound up filing two stories, finishing up the lifestyle section layout for Sunday, and editing and prioritizing all the local copy for one of our sister papers that operates out of our office. When I got off work, I picked up groceries, started a batch of yogurt, made hummus to take to work tomorrow, cleaned out the refrigerator, made a batch of red beans and rice and a Buffalo chicken casserole, and loaded the dishwasher.

I’m tired.


Sorting it out

The glory of digital photography is that you can take 30 shots to get the one you want, without having to worry about the cost of film or processing. The flip side is that you end up taking 30 shots to get the one you want, dumping ALL of them off onto your hard drive, and keeping them forever, just in case you might need them, as opposed to looking at prints and scanning only the keepers.

This is fine until you end up with so much crap on your hard drive that you realize it would take a full day to back it all up, so you just live dangerously until the inevitable happens and your hard drive goes bad, at which point you start using language that would make Samuel L. Jackson blush as you contemplate dropping the damn thing off the Bill Emerson Bridge on your way to pick up film and a new typewriter ribbon — except you can’t, because you pretty much have to order typewriter ribbons online. Kind of like how you have to download a slide rule app for your iPhone, because video killed the radio star. Or something. You kids get off my lawn.

Anyway, while I was rummaging through a flash drive last night in search of the one folder of images I was sure I’d backed up and absolutely could not stand the thought of losing, I ran across a keeper I’d scanned a little over 10 years ago, when I was still using 35mm:



Ron shot this during the weekend in 2003 when we repainted the sign at the now-shuttered Vega Motel on Route 66 in the Texas Panhandle. Last time I was through there, a little over a year ago, the sign still looked pretty good. It’s probably in better shape than some of the buildings at this point.



Warm drink on a cold day.


It’s cold out, and getting colder. We’re supposed to get several inches of snow before the day is out, and we’re looking down the barrel of subzero temperatures. Days like this make me miss my woodstove. I hope the guy who bought our old house is enjoying it. Today would be a good day to have posole simmering on the stove.


A road trip was out of the question today, so Ron and I just went to breakfast at the Sands Pancake House on Highway 61, made a trip to the hardware store and then spent part of the early afternoon at the Sears tire shop after pulling into the driveway and noticing one of the tires on the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcar looked low.

When we got back, Ron started laundry, and I put a clothesline in the basement so we don’t have to run the dryer so much.

Now I’m just sitting around listening to Joan Baez and sipping ginger lemonade while the snow falls outside.

Ginger lemonade is nice on a cold day — warm and spicy, and it tastes like candy. Here’s the recipe, in case you’re cold, too:


1. Start with fresh ginger root. You can get it in the produce section of just about any grocery store. It’s a popular ingredient in Asian food, so a lot of stores keep it near the bean sprouts and snow peas.


2. Cut off a chunk about an inch long and peel it.


3. Use a garlic press to mince the ginger and squeeze the juice into a microwave-safe cup. You may have to cut it into smaller pieces and squeeze it several times to get it minced up. It’s OK if it doesn’t all mince; the juice is the important part.



4. Squeeze a lemon into the cup.


5. Add honey to taste and microwave about 30 seconds, then add enough water to fill the cup and microwave for another minute or two until it’s good and warm. Stir it up and add more honey if needed.


6. Enjoy with a warm blanket and your favorite folk record. Ginger will warm you up from the inside out.

Stay warm, wherever you are.


You guys.

So I made a quick run up to Carbondale this evening to pick up some stuff from the Co-op. On my way back, I came through Anna to discover this:


I have always loved this sign, but this is the first time I’ve seen them light the flashing arrow and the excellent googie bubbles at the top.

Sadly, this was the best shot I could get, because the property owners are weird about people taking pictures of the sign, so I had to roll down the window and shoot fast from a nearby driveway, then Photoshop the crappy Hardee’s sign out of the background when I got home.

One day, I need to pay them a visit and show them the kind of stuff I’ve been known to do for indie businesses in the past. We’ll see if they’re any friendlier after they figure out I’m good for free websites, free murals, free elbow grease, free bathroom renovations, and all manner of free design work.


Artwork by Ollie

Ollie made me a picture tonight at Mom and Dad’s:


Yes, I framed it. Of course I framed it. It’s a hand turkey. Made by a 3-year-old. The teal-colored wattles on the turkey actually started out as a teardrop, which made it look as if it had killed someone in prison, but I think Jamie convinced Ollie to modify it.

If you wouldn’t proudly display a toddler’s rendering of a turkey with a prison tattoo in your home, I’m not sure we can be friends.


Hazel had a birthday party today. She’s 5. Mom asked me to take a picture of all three kids together. I think she was hoping for something suitable for use on Christmas cards. This was the only one that didn’t have someone making a face or squirming or wandering off or giving bunny ears or some combination of the above. The boys have cake and Kool-Aid all over their faces, and Hazel is completely distracted, so obviously the party was a success.


A pleasant surprise

One of the best things about moving into a new house is finding nice surprises left by the previous owners.

For instance, the presence of fall crocus bulbs in the front lawn:


Isn’t that gorgeous? I found it blooming in the front yard last week. There were two of them, with big purple blossoms nearly the size of a shot glass. What an awesome surprise.

When I installed the pond last weekend, I also grabbed a drill and found my Green Men, who hadn’t gone up yet because I was waiting to hang them on the fence.

Here’s the traditional one:


And here’s the one I bought at a nursery in Tulsa a few years ago:


I love this guy. He reminds me of my oldest friend, Margaret, whom I’ve known since 1975, and with whom I passed many happy hours as a little girl, making faces that looked about like this.

Love the ladybug crawling on him, too. I forget the name of the company that made this, but I’d love to buy some more of their stuff. They make really cute decorations.