tweet tweetMy Tweets
Pining for pinning…
Working with bees is exhilarating and empowering. There is a lot of deep breathing involved, especially if you are stung, because bees will react to your fear.
A couple days after I arrived in Florida, Sierra got called out on a live bee removal for some friends of friends. The family was reluctant to see the bees go, but they were ready to renovate a small wooden shed in the back yard and the bees who lived in the soffit (eaves) were very much in the way (read: nobody dared approach that general area). As it turned out, the hive was REALLY BIG.
The three of us arrived late afternoon – it’s sweltering in those bee suits – and assessed the situation and set up the area. Basically, every beekeeper needs a bee jacket, a hive tool, and a smoker. For the removal, we also had a swarm box inside a larger vacuum box with a hose attached, large plastic trash bags, clean 5-gal buckets for honey, ladder, saws, and various other potential useful tools.
The main object is to find the queen, because she is the vibrant egg-laying fertile heart of any bee colony. The queen is essential to a healthy colony, but there are several circumstances when a hive is (momentarily) queen-less. When this is the case, the bees are typically cranky (no leadership!) and even make a different sound than a queened hive. Once the queen is captured (there are special queen cages for this purpose) the hive will follow. The problem is that the queen, essential as she is, usually lives deep in the layers of comb, attended by a worker bee retinue. This hive proved to be queen-less, a theory that was substantiated by the finding of several queen cells. The colony was awaiting a new queen to emerge and the old queen had probably taken off (“swarmed”) with approximately half the worker bees several days previously.
My favorite bee fact is the fact that the queen and the worker bees start from the exact same eggs laid by the exact same queen. While all the larvae are initially fed royal jelly for three days, most are switched over to bee bread for the rest of their larval growth stage. Larva intended to become queens are only ever fed royal jelly and their growth is not only accelerated but queens are nearly triple in size when born. Plus queens have extra special reproductive mating and egg-laying powers.
The only difference between a queen and a worker is what she is fed as she is growing up. How’s that for a sobering lesson on the importance of childhood nutrition?
So the first thing we did was to puff smoke at the bees. It’s supposed to help, but the buzzing of the bees gets distinctly louder and angrier when smoke is involved. Then we began to vacuum as many bees as possible into a bee box that is enclosed inside a larger wooden vacuum box. The idea is to get as many bees as possible plus the queen and take them away – alive – to start a new home elsewhere. The problem is that the old bee home, the hive, smells like bees and honey and will attract other bees who might move in, so the other goal is to scrape every single bit of comb off and to take it with us.
Taking off the comb is a tricky business. The comb is tenaciously plastered to the wood with propolis, which is code for bee cement. Basically, it was like scraping dried glue up above my head while on a ladder, with swarms of angry bees buzzing, with very sticky heavy honey raining down on me; all done with limited vision because of the mesh veil and rivulets of sweat running into my eyes. I only managed to do it for 30 seconds. It was scary, hard work! Note in these pics that Sierra and Nicole are cool as cucumbers. Pretty impressive. Bees can sting through jeans, you know.
Sierra would cut the wood back with an electric saw and expose the bees. One of us would begin vacuuming while another scraped the comb off in long lengths. Every length of comb was vacuumed for more bees before being sorted into the appropriate container. Cut, scrape, and vacuum; cut, scrape, and vacuum; we did this for three hours; we did this past sunset with flashlights.
The cells of bee comb are extremely versatile and are used for everything from a larva nursery to a food larder, so some comb was full of brood and others were full of capped honey. Honey comb was put into a 5-gal food grade BPA-free bucket that was lined with a paint strainer bag. Brood comb was put into a black 50-gal trash bag to be later processed for beeswax. While a live hive removal is clearly vastly ethically superior to a poisonous extermination, some bees were definitely harmed in this process. I can see why vegans don’t eat honey.
This live bee removal was one of my major highlights of my Florida trip. It was a huge adrenaline rush to be surrounded by bees and to continue breathing slowly while working on the important task of saving this beehive. At one moment a bee was crawling up inside my jeans. I nearly panicked. I was stung and it HURT. I learned to tape up the bottom of my pants after that, but one sting compared to the enormity of this hive (how many thousands of bees we relocated?), made my pain feel relatively minute.
I’m in hot, humid Boca Raton for 18 days and it’s turning out just fine. I’m learning tons of new things (beekeeping, canning…); experiencing some incredible wild life (nesting sea turtles); and spending time with some of my favorite people (the Malnove babies are now 10, 8, and 5).
Besides doing some mind-blowing things with bees (remove a live hive! split a hive! harvest honey!) here is a list of a few things we hope to do during my short stay – new skills and sierra’s household to-do list included indiscriminately:
stalk baby sea turtle hatchlings (saw mama laying instead)
learn to cut old t-shirts into single lengths (for crocheting into rugs)
clean up craft room (Sierra’s sister Gen did this!) call natural pest guy
finish bubble chandelier in bathroom
organize Sierra’s pantry (Sierra’s sister Gen did this!)
trailer hitch on car
carve spoon out of gumbo limbo wood (local tree adapted to FL storm weather)
prepare akee (Jamaican fruit in freezer)
make mango- jalapeño jam
make mango-passionfruit jelly
make Korean BBQ (done this twice now) make fresh coconut jello (not a great success-none of the kids would eat it)
elderflower champagne (still puzzled how this will happen)
make carembola/starfruit jelly (I fell asleep halfway through this, but I’m still counting it) all-you-can-eat sushi (going to happen again next week)
Charm City Burgers (train conductor from Deerfield beach rec’d – we have been to BurgerFi which was also delicious)
see live ‘gators in the Everglades (long shot bc it’s 2-hour drive south)
make jewelry in Joe’s metal shop across the street (scheduled for Monday! excited!)
make craft room curtains
hook up BBQ grill (got advice, now need to get parts)
order hankies (from dharma trading just like in the old days) Costco (organic olive oil) infuse calendula, comfrey, plantain, yarrow, St John’s wort, chickweed sourdough rye bread get kombucha SCOBY back to life (it’s weak, may need reinforcement) harvest starfruit make vodka rainbow cake
hang stained glass
start a batch of mead
check photostamp gift certificates snorkeling (Debois Lagoon 2x, Blue Heron Bridge)
Here is my niece performing “The Hunter’s Song” at her recital.
The sound of one of Zimoun’s installations is the multitude of many identical noises: often, the buzz, beating, or swiveling of hundreds of the same small motors running simultaneously. The sound could be likened to pattering raindrops, clicking typewriters, droning honeybees, or the vibration of a hundred air conditioning units in a condo community. It is a musical sum of an everyday happening. Although Zimoun might refer to his installations as “static sound architectures and spaces” and tell you that “What you hear is what you get”; the acoustic experience of entering “Wall of Sound” at UCI’s Beall Center for Art + Technology might be less like entering a building and more like entering a living bee hive; such is the collective energy generated by so many moving simple machines. Like the cloned sisters in a hive each making an individual buzz, dancing a unique waggle, and adding in her small way to the hum of the larger swarm mind, the 400+ cardboard boxes stacked throughout the gallery space, each with a small dc motor swinging a cotton ball drumming against the surface of it, creates the insistent sensation of entering something organic, albeit mechanized.
Swiss-born artist, Zimoun, is fond of repetition and he has a history of reiterating large grids of simple objects. Like a favorite quilt square, he has made a number of installations that involve cardboard boxes; for instance, in 2010, he created a spacious room with 111 large open boxes stacked from floor to ceiling. The boxes created a grid that was stark and clean; and each box housed a single frenetic jumping wire that was turned by a hidden motor. This immersive installation (all the installations are named simply by the listing of materials used) presented the opportunity to oscillate between experiencing one and all; between non-living and living; and between control and spontaneity. The boxes evoke cells and the wires evoke highly magnified cilia; but strangely, there is no distance in the magnification, because as each wire hits its own cardboard surface with every twist and turn, a unified orchestra of musical pattering results. The making of sound is observable and transparent, but somehow the comprehension of the total is elusive. Each box or cell is made with the assembled with the same components – mass-manufactured by a team of assistants or volunteers – but each wire wriggles according to the minute differences in length, density, and human error. All the wires wriggling at the same time creates the feeling of a mass that somehow approaches an organism. Does that mean that enough mechanized movement can approach the quality of life?
An earlier work such as 25 woodworms, wood microphone, sound system (2009) does explicit homage to the sounds of life or the sound of nature, and is the flat-out amplified noise of live woodworms chewing a hunk of rotting wood. Recent work continues to make extensive use of cardboard and other basic industrial materials and massive repetition, but explores even more deeply aleatoric, or chance-controlled sound. The level of deliberate control and rigor is counter-balanced by the inevitable (de)generation of the overall sound, although Zimoun is clear that he is “not using chance to discover unexpected results, but to elevate the works to a higher level of vitality.” “Wall of Sound” appears to be less structured than past works, as there is no room or substantive wall constructed; instead, uneven stacks of percussive boxes sprawl apparently haphazardly throughout the gallery space like a maze with no perceptible grid. Indeed, the reference to a “wall of sound” is pointedly directed at Phil Spector who is famous for his early 60’s sound production technique of layering multiple guitarists playing the same parts to create a density in the background music. Here, the gallery space itself becomes the instrument, and as the viewer moves through the space, “the wall” of sound will change and shift.
The commissioned “Wall of Sound” is a coup for curator David Familian, as Zimoun has exhibited infrequently in the US, and even more rarely in California. The installation is the crowning finale in the gallery’s year-long dedication to sound art, a notoriously difficult and under-represented art form. As Cage famously said, “music… is not an attempt to bring order out of chaos…but simply a way of waking up to the very life we’re living.”
Every year at Not-Back-To-School Camp, I make time with my advisees to write a letter to our future selves – to be mailed by camp six months down the road. It’s a way of carrying those special weeks forward.
I got my letter today:
“Last day of Camp
Myrtlewood, Sept 2013
Third year of camp over the span of 12 years and I can really feel the difference of coming more deeply into myself. I’m not so worried what people think and more able to be receptive and connect.
I loved that Chad and Christian got to be here this year. Chad and I started the session rushed and irritable and now feel loving and relaxed. Taking the time and space to take care of myself: Downtime, morning time to regroup for the day, time outside, exercise, really helped to make me grounded and clear-eyed versus emotional and snippy.
I would have loved to have given more physical attention and cuddling to the campers, but it’s harder to do with teenagers. Enjoy those Forest Kinder kids. So cuddly.
C loves it here, especially the creek. I love being here – the location, perhaps even more than the reason.
This is the year to work on Chad’s book. DO IT. Personal stuff is important.
Lots of sleep
Raven cawing overhead.
Yellow frog in hand
Enormous myrtle marked
Art conversations with Tilke
Girl time with Abbi
Baking with Rosa
Good people. Keep carving out space for myself. SIMPLIFY. DO LESS. DO MORE. HAVE LESS TO TAKE CARE OF.
Kale salad is something I always like to pick up already prepared at Mothers or Whole Foods, but it seems simple enough, so I finally dared to try my own – on Christmas Day no less.
It turned out fine!
The trick to make it palatable is to cook the kale a bit. This can be done on the stove or in the microwave.
I took three bunches of washed organic curly kale and de-stemmed them and tore the leaves into bite-sized pieces in a big glass mixing bowl. Then I added a 1/2 cup of water, covered the bowl with a paper plate, and nuked the whole thing for 6 minutes. I was surprised to find that the kale was barely wilted, but it was enough.
I made a simple honey mustard vinaigrette in the dijon mustard jar with the last couple tablespoons of dijon (trader’s joe’s): Mustard, honey, olive oil, basalmic vinegar, salt, and fresh cracked pepper – all shaken thoroughly. Add to the kale salad and massage in well. I use tongs for this, but tongs with a round flat end that really squeezes the kale well. Hands would work.
I tasted it and it wasn’t enough, so I made a second round of the same honey mustard vinaigrette and I also added some dressing we’d brought home from a restaurant. More salt and pepper to taste.
Then I started to add extra stuff I like: dried cranberries and coarsely chopped pecans.
I tasted again. It was starting to taste good but not enough bite, so I very finely diced half a red onion.
Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller have long crafted space, whether physically manifest with plywood and façade or immaterially delineated by recorded audio; and that space is often a surreal or dreamlike place reminiscent of an empty de Chirico piazza with the sound of children’s laughter echoing in the distance. Cardiff first gained attention with her audio walks in the 90’s, where the viewer put on headphones and ostensibly was guided along a path, but the “tour” was complicated by overlaid audio tracks – snippets of intimate dialogue and ambient noise – and the shivery result was the feeling that the viewer had just slipped into somebody else’s skin and intrigue for a few brief minutes. Miller’s solo practice included more electronics, robotics, and surveillance in both a futuristic and nostalgic sense. Together, Cardiff and Miller are deft manipulators of perception and makers of immersive environments. They have created an impressive oeuvre that is ripe for a more complete retrospective. In the meantime, the exhibition, Lost in the Memory Palace, is a purposeful and concise selection of “room works” spanning 18 years of collaboration that provides a chronology of a diverse range of shapes of space.
Although The Paradise Institute, 2001 and Forty Part Motet, 2001 are notably absent, viewers will discover that this show is greater than the sum of its parts and is, in fact, deliberately curated to be an experiential installation as a whole. The Museum of Contemporary Art La Jolla has been transformed into a maze of sound corridors and isolated rooms, each containing a single work: a labyrinth intended to provoke wandering and perhaps, a little disorientation. The title of the show aptly references a “memory palace”, a mnemonic device in which a person creates a place or series of places in his mind where he can store information that needs to be remembered. This exhibition can be explored as a tangible memory palace and every encounter with a meticulously scripted installation is sure to trigger some kind of transmogrified awareness.
The earliest work, The Dark Pool (1995), is nearly a memory palace in and of itself and clearly speaks to the obsessive art mind: a cluttered room carpeted with flattened cardboard and made claustrophobic by makeshift desks on sawhorses covered with stacks of books and dirty tea cups (science experiments?) The viewer’s motions inside the room activate fragments of music, noise, and a story that never quite coalesces. The room as a physical object contains the viewer, but the disjointed and unexpected audio combined with the sheer quantity of detail of fictional pseudo-scientific memorabilia, is what allows the room to shift place in time and become something of a dream-like experience.
On the other hand, The Killing Machine (2007) is an open-walled installation that cannot be entered by the viewer; however, the viewer is directed to push a button, which then activates what appears to be a torture chamber. Implicated by the start button, the viewer cannot then stop the two large robotic arms that begin a choreographed interpretive “dance” over the empty reclining doctor’s chair; first hovering, then jabbing, then drilling. Although the impulse of this piece may have been Abu Ghraib, the theatricality of the piece operates more as a sci-fi than an indictment of the spectacle of war; and frankly, as such, probably has more access to shifting the viewer’s perception of reality. The sequence of clinical horror is muted by the sense that the enlivened machinery is re-acting a dream sequence. It’s no surprise, and a real bonus that the YouTube video of the installation is as spine-chilling than the real-life experience of the installation. In an era where worth can be defined by number of hits, this piece lives on and lives well, beyond the museum.
Of the six installations (sadly, there was not enough room for Storm Room, 2009), only The Muriel Lake Incident (1999) utilizes binaural technology, a method of recording that produces an astonishing fidelity by using microphones in the ears of a dummy head. The viewer stands in front of a diorama of a theater (perfectly to scale) and puts on headphones while watching a video projection on the screen in the miniature cinema. The recorded ambient sounds of a large theater cunningly layered on top of the soundtrack for the “film” is so life-like that it will likely cause unease as the invisible neighbor leans in close and whispers in the viewer’s ear. Via the audio, the viewer is propelled into the miniaturized space and locked in engagement. Here, as Bartomeu Mari has described it, is an “audio event akin to sculpture”; and the space is not so much the plywood box on legs containing the theater as the sonic reality projected into the viewer’s mind. A precursor to the award-winning The Paradise Institute (2001) which was originally produced for the Canadian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, Cardiff and Miller continue to mine this rich vein of fabricating an immersive space to house an experience.
These six discrete installations will make you want more – and luckily for transcontinental types, The Forty Part Motet (2001), a binaural recording of 40 a capella singers performing the 1573 “Spem in Alium” by Thomas Talis is at the Met until December 8, 2013.
Link to the online article here.
Two nights ago, I noticed Christian had something in his mouth. It was something thin, like a coin, and he was holding it casually between his back teeth and his cheek.
I wouldn’t have barked at him to spit it out, but he was lying on his back, for pete’s sake.
He immediately tried to get up and comply, but you know how you have to open your mouth a little wider to move something around? I saw him do just that, and gag just a bit.
When he was standing, I put my hand in front of him, “Spit it out.”
He shrugged. And opened his mouth wide.
“What happened to that penny in your mouth?” I screeched.
He shrugged again and pointed to his throat.
This was followed by frantic googling of what to do when your kid swallows a coin. Chad went a bit berserko.
Apparently pennies made before 1982 (?) could contain corrosive metals and are very dangerous to ingest. Could it be a dime? Chad had just handed C a handful of coins with both dimes and pennies.
ER? We paced and googled five minutes more.
URGENT CARE! I remembered from my days leading bike tours that urgent care was a great place to bring injured or hurt kids for dramatically less than emergency rooms. The closest urgent care was closing in 15 minutes – We began grabbing clothes, purses, books, and knitting. C was quiet through all this, but when he heard we were going to see a doctor, he began screaming and holding onto furniture. We got him to the car with a lot of sweet talk and cajoling. But we’d lost time while prying his fingers off the door frame.
It was 7:01 when we arrived at the firmly locked and definitely closed doors of the urgent care facility that was supposed to be open until 7 pm. Granted, this was July 3, and I couldn’t blame anyone for cutting out early the day before the July 4th.
Deflated, we sat down on the curb and I began doing what I should have done to begin with, which was CALL DR. BOB SEARS. Dr. Bob is our trusted pediatrician.
His answering service message asked all callers to please check with www.AskDrSears.com before paging the doctor.
I knew this was the right thing to do. In fact, I’ve said it myself a hundred times, “Have you checked www.askdrsears.com?”
Reading about swallowed objects on askdrsears.com was tremendously reassuring. Basically, anything small enough to be swallowed and reach the stomach is small enough to come out in the poop. It is recommended to check the poop for at least a week, or until the object come out. There was no mention of toxic pennies, only the incredible anecdote of an open safety pin passing through a child without any discomfort or discernable harm.
So, for the last two days Christian has been very reluctantly pooping on a plastic potty. And I have been very reluctantly going through aforementioned poop with gloved fingers. GROSS. And VERY SMELLY.
I was rewarded with a poopy dime this morning. Unbelievable.
It was scrubbed and disinfected and photographed for posterity.
Christian swear he will never put another coin in his mouth.
I’m putting it on my list of things-I-never-had-to-do-with-Bella.