Bucket list boo-boo

Yeah, it was really cool last week, meeting the beekeeping club members, a few retired guys similar to me, even though I’m not technically a guy. I’ve just never been girly or interested in girly things.

The guys cracked open the hives with a hive tool, a flat piece of metal with a bend in one corner. The bees glue all the wooden boxes together with dark brown propolis, sealing the cracks, and those sticky links have to be broken when you open up the hive boxes, called supers. We pulled out each rack, one at a time. The bees fill the outer ones with honey. The inner ones are filled with brood cells.

We were looking for the queen, so we had to check every rack. That means lifting it out and examining both sides in detail. Ten racks, 20 sides. Why is the queen always on the 20th one? Well, with a sample of two, I shouldn’t be generalizing, but if you think about it of course you always find something in the last place you look – because after that you stop looking.

While looking for the queen, I got to notice the difference between the ordinary worker bees and the hulky drones. They are plumped up like someone obese or a body builder. Hard to tell under all that fuzz. Is a teddy bear fat or ripped? You never know.

Also got to see the brood cells, which are larger for bees that will be drones. Looking for the initial egg that’s set down is very hard. You have to get just the right light. Then a little curl forms that is the larva. The guy showing me all this had a good idea of if a larva was at the three, four or five-day stage. They just looked like little curls of DNA protein to me, whether from a quinoa seed or anything else.

Then I saw something amazing. A couple of the brood cells had little black legs sticking out of tiny holes. The bees were hatching. So cool. They don’t all hatch at once. They are deposited each day, and some hatch each day, but it’s an ongoing process. I had no idea. at some point the bees stop making drones. Not necessary over the winter, I think it was.

I even got to hold one of the racks. Not too heavy, maybe five pounds or so. Some honey dripped out of one of the racks. I took a drop and tasted it. Honey. “That’s five cents, please.”

Then I got stung, which was never on my bucket list. It was like a needle, and then it was like nothing after I pulled out the black stinger. I felt like a tough guy for a second, because I didn’t make a fuss about it. “You should brush it aside, not pull it.” Later I googled and it tells me if you pull it you can inject more venom into yourself. The next day it swelled up and itched like crazy. The thickened pad of skin was a few mm thick and about 10 cm across.

I donno if I gave myself extra venom, but a week later it’s still ugly and itchy. Part of it looks bruised. I tried steroid cream, baking soda, cold, etc. I don’t want any more bee stings. I got stung one of the most common ways, when the bee is on you and you put your arm down against your own body. Something to avoid when beekeeping.

Also, a really good reason for the head coverings is that an eyeball sting is the worst, I’m told. One guy showing me the hives had had one of those. I’m glad it didn’t happen again, since he lent me his head covering and went commando, so to speak, that day.

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Science clickbait, really?

Guess no one should be shocked that even Science journal uses clickbait in their news section. But I was surprised. These were in my newsfeed this week.

Eight year old publishes in scientific journal? Wha-a-a-t? Lucky kid. Probably has a scientist or two as a parent. Oh, wait, the kid didn’t publish some peer-reviewed research. She was the subject of a news article. Yeah, she was exploring insects, but she didn’t discover anything worthy of publication. Clickbait. Nice feelgood story, but not what was posted in the headline.

And now, scientists have discovered 300 kinds of snow, really? I have read a bit about glaciers and permafrost and that surprises me. Wait, no, they have theoretically defined that there “could be” 300 molecular positions for water, but structures that are not known to exist, at all. Could be, the ultimate weasel words in journalism and journal articles.

Bucket list triple hit

I wasn’t looking forward to the weekend, at all, but I got through it. A cabin where people keep coming in and out is not conducive to sleep. The cabin and my bed were each a box of rough plywood. My home-brought bedding was not enough to make up for that. The food was not enjoyable and the people were not like me and not easy to relate to. I got a real look into a world I will never be part of, the world of hunters.

But, I ticked two things off my bucket list – trying archery and learning how to shoot a gun. The archery was interesting, peaceful, and I’d like to do it again. The shooting was smelly and noisy, but interesting. They were only .22 guns, but I learned several different actions and loading mechanisms. Did you know that not only shotguns make that chick-chick sound? No, a .22 can have a slide action, as well, even though it holds a wee little .22 cartridge, or what we non-hunters would usually call a bullet. I could have shot some higher powered rifles, but they were very noisy and smelly. People were talking about getting addicted to the activity and the smell. I’m addicted to quiet, so I think I’m immune to any gun habit.

And finally, when I got back, tired as hell and covered in bruises, I went off to a beekeeping club and learned a heck of a lot about bees. How to identify the queen, drones, and workers. How the workers develop through their life stages. How to test for varroa mites. I even saw a couple bees hatching out of their cells. We were examing about 40 frames or dividing sections, looking for the queen bee. Since you have to kill some bees to test for mites, you wanna make sure the queen isn’t in there. She’s expensive and critical to the life of the hive. I liked the bee keepers, except when they drowned the bees in alcohol and didn’t even try to rescue them with some water afterwards. I had to be the one to bring that up and do it.

So, bucket list triple hit. Can’t say I’ve done that before. Nor hit anything off my bucket list in years.

Smoking

Smoking

Dear people who smoke –

That’s an expensive habit you have there. Can I just ask that you keep it to yourself, though? Why are you breathing out all that smoke and letting it go everywhere? You should have a system whereby you get the full benefit of what you’re paying for! I can’t even see you, but your smoke has travelled all the way down the street and into my apartment window. I had to turn on the air purifier. It seems such a waste of your personal resources to let all that smoke just blow “away.”

Couldn’t you do this in some sort of vessel that could capture more of this smoke for you? Hang onto it til you can breathe it in. And never breathe it out. Seriously, you need to work on this. What is the point of breathing it in… and then just blowing most of it out again? I donno if you can hold your breath for a bit like the pot-smokers in high school did, but seriously this technology needs improving, stat.

I was a passive smoker in the womb and through my childhood til I left home. At least that’s what the respirologist told me when I had pneumonia. I had told her I never smoked, you see. And I never intend to. Hence the air purifier. So, tobacco industry people and product developers – get with it so you are not selling something that people have to waste probably more than half of the product they buy! Let them get the full use and benefit of this stuff.

I’m a lifelong nonsmoker, healthy as a horse at age 55, and don’t want to have the next 30-40 years tainted by this acrid airborne chemistry that other people want to inhale and deposit deep in their lungs. Please, don’t share. Sharing is so 1960s. Get the full benefit and experience and keep it selfishly to yourself.

Loneliness

Loneliness

Really, I’m quite happy to be alone most of the time. I love that I can work alone at home. I just wish it were quieter. Noise is a major weak point for me. Or, I love quiet. I drink it in. It soothes me. But I don’t want to be alone all the time. I enjoy our one or two employer-sponsored parties in a year, and not just for a free gourmet meal, either. Mainly it’s a chance to socialize.

I really needed some human connection today, and had no idea how to get it. So sick of relying on posting on discussion websites. I really want friends, and to see people’s faces. But it never seems to work out. This is a lifelong problem. I had one friend as a kid and puberty killed that. She went boy-crazy and fashion-crazy and I was alienated. As well, my parents split up and my mum moved us away. That girl was my best friend, and my last best friend.

Oh, sure, I have my canoe buddy. We’re taking a course together next week. That’s the social highlight of my year, no doubt. But even though she’s my oldest and I suppose best friend, and I do treasure her, it’s not enough.

I got married to what I thought was a friend for life. That didn’t work out. He’s still around in my life, though, and we saw each other today. Or, I saw him. Not sure he saw me at all, even though we met to see this art show toether. See, he’s proudly autistic, doesn’t make eye contact. Got his diagnosis now and validation to behave as badly as he always has, or worse. He’s totally self-centered. It feels strange even now to spend time with him, though I’ve gotten over much of the extreme hurt. It’s not personal. I don’t like that it’s not personal! I want to be treated as a person. He literally has contempt for social things, and expresses that disgust regularly.

I knew he wanted to go to a crappy amateur art show, and I was desperate to get out of my four walls, so I suggested we go. It was as crappy and pointless as I expected. Nay, more so. Not only was it amateur art or the driest and kitschiest manner, but it was a small exhibition of all works done on square canvasses. Just no interest whatsoever, for me. My interest was in interacting with SOMEONE. And I have no one.

There have been people in my building who reached out to me.  One was a very caring woman who literally let me cry on her shoulder one day. That was a high point for me. A mothering moment that I really needed. I don’t feel like I got any mothering from my actual mother, you see.  Mum’s dead, I’d been grieving the loss of my marriage, my friendship, and my life plans that I invested in for 10 years, and crying on someone’s shoulder unrestrainedly was a high point for me. A connection.

But, she moved away, said she’d contact me, and didn’t. Of course I contacted her several times, and not just to forward her mail, since I moved into her old suite. But she never got back, never had time. I know she has a terminal illness, so I could put it all down to that, but I conclude that I was not a net positive in her life, apparently. You can only reach out so many times and then ya gotta stop bugging people. I wish her the best.

Another person in my building reached out to me and we had visits at her place, and even thanksgiving dinner. But… she invalidated me several times and we do not share views. Well, I don’t share her views and I don’t think she stopped talking long enough to find out what mine were. So when I went away for a year during my separation period, we exchanged a couple emails that quickly resulted in a conflict. She sent me stupid forwards. I just asked her to please not send these to my work email. I had entrusted her with my work email. She apparently got offended, because she told me I should learn some tact. And that was it. She never responded to my boundary request. I repeated it. Silence. Fine, we are done, I thought.

But I came back after the separation period and she was all friendly. WTF? People who do things and then act lik enothing happened – very invalidating. Finally, I told her one day recently that the reason I don’t respond to her is she didn’t respond to me. Finally, it seems, maybe she has stopped trying to jolly me into another bullshit conversation.

What the hell should I have done differently? Nothing, I think.

Then there was the platonic F2F friend I made off Craigslist. We had some trauma in common. I liked that we could talk about it. But apparently that was too much for her as she started complaining that people (me, when I inquired) don’t want to visit her, and similar issues about what she wants. Well, I want someone who can talk about the dark stuff without fear. Sure, I can play board games and visit, but not if it has to be all superficial, too. I’m not losing my mind, as she seems to be. I remember things. I’m not ready to let everything slip away. Her chaos drove me mad – couldn’t remember where anything was, where we were going, or to prepare whatever was needed for the agreed upon plan. Sorry, I’m not ready for dementia. I will fight that by learning, thinking, remembering, thank you very much. Not my kinda people, if they choose to be okay with chaos.

Are there any of my kinda people? I need people.

Glorious soil

Glorious soil

Spent some time reading up on something that is a genuine interest, soil. Picked some cukes from my garden, too. They’ve been slow coming this year. Was not a good garden year with the cold spring and overheated midsummer. My beans wouldn’t even set fruit for quite a while there during the heat wave. It just cooked the pollen before it could get down the tube, I understand.

I want to have a life, finally. I want a real job, something with some meaning and purpose. I want to be connected to people who share interests, like in soil and science and soil science. I’ll probably live another 30-40 years, given how healthy I am. In the pre-industrial era, 30-40 years is basically a lifetime, I tell myself, so there’s still time to start over. I’m not ready to retire and shutdown. I feel much younger than my years, anyway.

I want all these things. What am I doing to get them, besides reading about biogeochemistry? Well, I researched jobs and applied to ones I thought I could do and would want to do. Didn’t get a job, though. I’m trying to sell my old truck and get moved out of here. I’m trying to buy my own place, either an apartment in the Fraser Valley somewhere or a house further afield. I need a change. This is a really good building, but I’m tired of renting and I want out of the building where my ex still lives and where I spent most of my ill-fated marriage.

I want connection. Friends. Community. Why is that so hard? I never had those. I thought my soil, my personal stock of attributes, was rich. But nothing’s growing, not those things I want and need, anyway.

noise

noise

Noise is killing me today. I can’t live like this. I am ready to hang myself softly in the shower stall, put a plastic bag over my head while I incapacitate myself with a bucket of downers, and hopefully slash my femoral artery via the femoral triangle, before succumbing to one or the other.

Why do people have to screech into their cellphones on the street?

Why do people use power saws and hammer out on a deck, broadcasting to hundreds of people nearby?

Why do idiots sit in their cars with motor and music going, idling, polluting air with both chemicals and sound? And why do they give me wanker answers like, “I can still play my music” when I ask them to turn it off and stop bothering me. No idling, eh?

I don’t want to live in this world.

I don’t want to live.

The man from Porlock. I have no peace. Earplugs and industrial earmuffs means I have no access to my work (sound recording) or joy (music and birdsong.)

I’d rather be dead.

But what if… just what if all these noises were just like an annoying mosquito to some much larger being. And what if a big hand came slapping down on those cars, say a 16-ton hand. It’d leave some holes in the road and some squashed metal and an obstacle course. And then there would be quiet.

Yeah, yeah, until people started yelling, and ambulances and tow trucks. Well, it was a nice fantasy.