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Wednesday August 20th 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

Today will be cooler.  We had rain during the night and the day is overcast.

I woke up this morning, leaving a dream in which I had arrived late at an painting class (test?) in my basement shop. 

About twenty artists were there, already sitting at easels.  They were already working on 24 X 30 canvases and their work varied from blobs and smears to detailed panoramas.  That many people would not fit in that part of the shop, but who says dreams have to be practical?

I took my place at an easel and tried to figure out what was expected.  I had no ideas and no canvas, but I went and got one from the stack of 24 X 30 blank stretched canvases.  I took the first one in the stack and saw that it already had some images on it and that some were stick-ons.  About then I woke up.

I have not painted for decades.  My wife was the painter and did not appreciate my painting, too, so I found other things to do.

At any rate, Jon is coming up from LA on the September long weekend to hang a show that Ellen had assembled and framed, and I suppose that has stirred memories.

I reserved gallery space some time back for a retrospective when I was more enthusiastic but the kids found these twenty-six framed paintings and this show was a natural. 

Unfortunately, I do not at all care for this series and am not inclined to make a big effort to try to like it and promote it.  Also, now that she is gone, I'm burned out when it comes to showing Ellen's art.  I spent more than a little time and effort assisting Ellen in all the various aspects of obtaining materials, and arranging, delivering and and hanging shows over the years, all to very little thanks.

This show is not a commercial effort, it is just a show of recent work.  Ellen's work is in the Alberta Collection and she was widely acknowledged as an artist, but she had little interest in selling her work.  In recent years she seemed to actively discourage sales. Her website is still up.  (That reminds me, I should take down  the notice for the memorial).

Jon volunteered to hang the show, but I think that is all that will happen.  The show will hang in the gallery for a month, then be taken down. No opening, no promotion.

This show is an alphabet series and I have no idea if it makes sense to sell one or two works out of the set.  I doubt it, so I think we'll advertise it as for sale as a set, or NFS.

Anyhow, I am tired of showing paintings.  I am glad I have a house full of art work, but no idea if it has any value.  We could not sell much of Ellen's work when she was alive, even when we made strong efforts, so I doubt we'll sell much when she is dead.  People were effusive about her work, and happy to receive gifts, but slow to reach for their wallets.

I have a friend who sells in New York and Toronto for tens of thousands of dollars per painting, but I don't think Ellen ever sold for more than $1,200 or so, and sales were few and far between despite showing in good galleries in Edmonton, Calgary, and Toronto.

Will I take up painting again?  Good question.  I have a lot of paints and blank, stretched canvas right at hand.  I could, but had not thought of it until the dream reminded me. 

Today, however, I am still a plumber.  The sinks drain, but the system is still jury-rigged as a test and so I can wash dishes.  I am not a kitchen neatness nazi, but I do like to keep things tidy.

In some houses, my brother's is an instance, if you set down a coffee cup and look away, when you turn around it is gone and hidden away in the dishwasher.  I am not like that, but do wash dishes several times a day -- by hand.  I don't accumulate enough to run the machine except when I have guests.

I think I'll take the Sawzall and rip out the joiner section downstairs and run the line direct to the main  I may also change a sink drain section that is still galvanized over to plastic pipe and fittings.  Galvanized pipes get rough inside and attract build-up.  Plastic remains slick.

What would I do without my Sawzall?  It cuts off mufflers, drain pipes, tree limbs, and I even used it to cut off the truck box on my yard truck.  In the yard, it lops off branches in an instant and stumps under the below ground level when other saws would be clogged or dulled.   The blades are very expensive, but last well, and the time savings compared to using hand tools for hack-sawing and pruning are amazing.

I lit the furnace this morning.  Although it burns coal, I am heating with books, old catalogues and magazines at present.  I went through the shelves and have about five hundred pounds of outdated and inconsequential books to get rid of.  I called the recyclers, but they are picky, so I boxed the books and shove them one box at a time into the fire.  Examples are stock picking books and dated books like "Megatrends".

I've heard some say that recycling some materials actually uses more energy and causes more pollution than simply discarding the material.  I can believe that for may items, but not all.  I have to wonder how books could be recycled efficiently.

A day and a half after starting a project should have taken a few hours -- I thought, I have kitchen sinks that drain and pipes that don't leak.  If I knew then what I know now, I would have just cut out the entire drain and re-plumbed it from scratch. 

At left is a cross-section view of a two-inch galvanized pipe from the last section I cut out -- the joiner section -- and this is after I had run a snake through and it seemed clear. 

After a few years, the interior of galvanized pipe accumulates growths which catch passing trash.  We're much better off replacing it with plastic.  Things don't seem to get a grip on ABS the way they do on galvanizing.

Now I just have to clean up the water and dirt and put the tools away.

Hahaha... I love your dreams! Seems to me your most recent is just a metaphor for life in general (it's always just a bit of a test, really, and it always involves showing up, whether that's early, late, on time, or not at all for the moment), and it also could be about your current life stage in particular - as in, what's next on the canvas of your life? There's already some images present that could be completely painted over, but they'll still always be there, hidden underneath whatever comes next, or you could choose to keep them as a component of the next work... and there's some stick-ons that could be kept as part of the next painting too, or maybe pulled off and completely discarded.....

But then again, it might just be a call to take up a hobby you've lost touch with... :-)

Keep on keeping on!

p.s. I suspect the ball of wax in the pipes occurred around the time visiting children were happily squashing honey from the comb.

I think the wax just exacerbated a problem that had been developing over time.  This sink has had a way of clogging the day I am about to leave home and I have unclogged it numerous times.  After slicing the pipe with the Sawzall (above), I can see why.   I should have taken drastic action years (decades) ago.

As for the metaphor, hmmmm... could be. I had not thought deeply about it.  After all, I had just woken up when I wrote that.  Writing is what I do in the morning until I wake up.

As I recall, the existing images were isolated and on central regions of the white gessoed canvas and not particularly painterly.  They were more like sci-fi pulp novel cover illustrations although not as stark, and the stick-ons were actually paisley shaped and seemed to be floating slightly off the canvas, not actually attached.  (Things in dreams don't have to have real-world equivalents).

I could have probably stayed asleep a little longer and maybe even steered the dream a bit, but I didn't.  I was surfacing and the day was dawning.  I'd slept nine hours with a few interruptions like a rainstorm during the night and it was time to meet the day. 

After all, I had a morning of adventure plumbing to look forward to.

Looking at the forecast at 1700, I see that the expected nighttime temperatures have been increased two degrees, making frost less likely.  Bonus!

I started a request on its way to get permission to publish the entire manuscript for the entire Green Certificate program I wrote a decade ago for  Lakeland College  and Alberta Agriculture online.  Only the most basic portion of it has been published, but I understand the program is fairly popular. 

The file is designed to be printed right into a book from the Word document.  The content format is also somewhat unwieldy -- sorta like answers on Jeopardy -- since it was written as an outline for a trainer and trainee.

The basic manual should be available from Alberta Agriculture on request without signing up for the course -- AFAIK.

For those who want a  great northern prairie beekeeping manual (I did not write it), I you can't beat Beekeeping In Western Canada.  I have three copies on hand.  I used to hand them out to employees.  Did they read them?  I doubt it.

Note to self: Write about the time I neglected my bees.  Is it time to do that again?

The last two days have been quite a detour.  There is nothing quite like having the kitchen sink plugged to throw things off in a home. 

A cult is a religion with no political power.
Tom Wolfe

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Thursday August 21st 2014
One more month of summer

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

I slept eight hours and awoke refreshed.   I fell asleep without CPAP, then awoke a half-hour later and decided to use the device.

My results in Sleepyhead software (right) indicate that using the CPAP machine was a good decision; I see that the air pressure ramped up a number of times during the night and there was a little apnea and hypopnea.  Some nights, there are almost no events and almost no pressure change.

It seems that sometimes the machine is comfortable and sometimes it keeps me awake.  Sometimes I sleep better with it and sometimes not.  Curious.

I see that three degrees is again predicted for Friday night.  Given the time of year, variability of terrain, and limits of prediction, there is a good chance of frost in some low-lying areas that night.  Hope not.

I'm going to have to read through the last year in this diary to see what I have been up to.  Tonight, I was looking at making reservations for US Thanksgiving.  I know it is early, but flights for that holiday are likely to fill up fast and I figure to begin watching.

I checked back and found out that Mckenzie and I went south a week late for Thanksgiving last year because Jon's kids were in R.I. for Thanksgiving with their mother. So, we had our turkey a week late. 

Then on our return date, we were delayed a day in California due to cancelled flights caused by storms in Alberta -- and I returned to Gull lake to find my van door smashed by a helpful neighbour of Oram's who had been clearing their driveway with a Bobcat.  On arriving home, my driveway was impassible.  That date is only 104 days or a little over three months away.  Time flies.

Of course, I remember now, but I wonder what else I have forgotten.  This was quite a year.

I did not reserve a flight.  I missed my chance and I'm betting better opportunities will come up.

Airlines run computer models to see how their sales are matching expectations after each weekend and if things are slow, they release some surplus seats onto the market at a deep discount.  This effect become most noticeable for seats about three weeks from the departure date --if there are any excess -- but seldom under two weeks.  

For holidays like Thanksgiving, the pickings will be slim and bargains will end weeks sooner but the airlines almost always pre-sell some seats just in case... I want to be booked at least month in advance.

The airlines know they can squeeze maximum dollars by keeping back some seats for last-minute flyers, or fly with them empty and still do better than they would selling them cheap.  However, sometimes, when flying in a half-empty plane after seeing no bargains online and no available seats when choosing seats at check-in, I have to wonder if their algorithms screwed up.

Monday midnight (Eastern) is the time to begin watching seat prices and the best deals are often gone by noon on Tuesday.  By Tuesday night, all the surplus is generally sold and prices are back up.  The advertised so-called seat sales are always more expensive than the same seats purchased when the airlines sell off the excess weekly.

Should I neglect my bees?  And, why do I like TV series like "The Good Wife", The Guardian", and other "nice" shows on Netflix?  These are future topics for discussion.

I started the furnace the other day and and noticed that the chimney is not drawing the way it should, so I took the Shop Vac to it. There is a fifteen-foot horizontal run to the stack from the furnace and  it collects fly ash over time.  I last cleaned it on Thursday November 24th 2011

One would think it would be a clean job with a vacuum cleaner, but I managed to get covered with soot from head to toe.  Last time, Jon and I simply removed the horizontal section, carried it outside and dumped the soot into a barrel.

I'll be off to The Mill for supper tonight.

*   *   *   *   *

I got to The Mill at 1900 and we had a supper Maddy and Annie made out of pickings from Maddy's garden.

We had a good time and in the three hours I was there, I drank four small glasses of red wine and a shot of Bailey's in coffee.

I left at 2200 and drove home the back way, avoiding Linden.  I was sober enough, (see table at right) but with the draconian new 0.05 limit, I did not feel like having a conversation with a cop.

Driving the back roads at night took me past some of my old bee yards and reminded me of being out at nights moving bees.  I noticed a lack of insects on the windshield and wondered about that.   A deer considered crossing in front of me but retreated over the fence at the sound of my approach.  My old Ford Power Stroke diesel sounds like a sack of hammers falling downstairs.  They all do.

`Examinations are formidable even to the best prepared,
 for the greatest fool may ask more than the wisest man can answer.
Charles Caleb Colton

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Friday August 22nd 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

Cool and rainy.  I slept fairly poorly.  Drinking affects my sleep and my shoulder was bothering me, too.  I think I did my shoulders harm wrestling with the snow blower last winter.  Cranking the winches on Cassiopeia did not help, either.

I got up at 0630, had breakfast and coffee, took an ibuprofen for the shoulder, read email, and went back to bed.  At 0812. I awoke, feeling much more wide awake.

I began reading through the past year of diary entries and was impressed to note that we were experiencing almost minus forty on late November and early December, and the amount of snow we had.

No segue.

Our economy is a Ponzi scheme.  Like a chain letter, people expect to get more out than they put in, and like a chain letter, a Ponzi scheme only pays out to current participants as long as an increasing number of new recruits pay in.  When everybody who possibly can join and paid has joined and paid, or the number of new joiners decreases, it is all over.  None of the newest recruits can be paid more than a fraction of what they contributed as their contributions have already gone to early participants.

This is one reason why the developed world tries to develop 'backward' countries and bring more people into the world economy and why immigration is encouraged, even if immigration has cultural risks.  When countries develop, the birthrate drops below the number necessary to replace those retiring and dying and the economy is in risk of collapse. 

It only takes a small shrinkage to set in motion a series of events that cascade.  Consider what happens when a cheque written to cover a purchase bounces.  The recipient may have written a cheque on that deposit and as a result, his cheque will bounce, and on down the line.

When workers are laid off, all the people who were selling them goods and services suddenly lose business and have to lay off workers. and so it goes until everyone suffers and expects less.  Savings are used up and governments give out 'free money' in various guises to attempt to stop the cascade. 

Of course, there is no free money and all that happens is that this largess dilutes the value of everyone's money, a fact that is not obvious until the remaining savers try to use their savings for something real at later date.

(Regardless of what the libertarians might suggest, this is not necessarily a bad thing.  The social disintegration that would result in the absence of this redistribution could be far worse).

This is not a new problem. Ancient manuscripts call for a "Jubilee", a sort of timeout every seventy-five years where everything is given back the original owners.  Of course this is not a popular idea to those of us who are playing "for keeps", but something of the sort is necessary to prevent a lopsided and unstable society.

Wikipedia says that a Ponzi scheme is 'a fraudulent investment operation'.  I am not so sure that many Ponzi operations are fraudulent so much as ill-considered or even inevitable.  People are dazzled by the present rewards  and don't seem to be able to see the inevitable ending, or care if it seems far-off.  If you are starving today (or think you are) you'll be inclined to take a chance on something that might or might not happen tomorrow, or even in your lifetime.

I recall the difficulty I had convincing friends not to send out $75 in response to a chain letter we received.  They sent off the $75 and never received even a penny in return.  Easy money?

In a case like a chain letter there is definite potential for fraud, since one can simply move one's own name up the list or send off copies of the letter and no money, and in the economy, we definitely see cheating, too, but IMO, the problem with the Ponzi aspect of the economy is that we have no way to avoid playing, even if we know that there are limits to everything and that everyone can't get something for nothing. 

If someone gets something for nothing, someone else gets nothing for something.

Life is a Ponzi experience. We take as children, contribute as adults, and hope there will be enough people contributing when we retire that we can be supported.  We can't eat money, and have to turn our savings into food, lodging and services.  Obviously we are lucky if we get back what we put in, but most of us expect more.

Anyhow, Daniel Amerman has studied ways to explain why societies build Ponzi structures, then collapse, and says all this far better than I ever could.  I haven't bought his courses and probably never will, but he makes great arguments and explains things we need to consider if we want a comfortable old age.

Here is one of his best: Apple Pie, Economic Growth & Fatal Stock Market Flaws.   In it he asks these simple math questions

1) Can the average person really become wealthier than the average person – or do things need to add up at some point?

2) Can an entire society create paper wealth at a far greater rate than the actual economic growth rate, and then simultaneously cash out this paper wealth into real goods and services?

3) If the economy is made up of corporations, individuals, and all levels of government – and the corporations and individuals, as well as state and local governments are all using investments to attempt to compound their wealth through the markets because neither the corporations, nor the individuals, nor the state and local governments can afford to pay for retirement promises and expectations without those investment sales – then who, precisely, is it that steps in and cashes their investments out? And with what?

Think about it. If we want to get more goods and services than we contributed, we either have to beat the averages and/or pray that new participants continue to enlist.  The conventional strategies simply have to break down at the saturation point.  In history, they always have.

*   *   *   *   *

Poor Amos.  He is getting grey and a bit lame.  Each night he runs out to hunt and each morning he hobbles in to sleep the day away.   One of these days, I expect he won't come back.  It's a wild world out there and the hunter is also hunted.  Grey owls and coyotes are common around here.  I saw three grey owls sitting on a drum in my yard the other day and at night the coyotes can be heard outside our windows. I haven't seen any foxes for a year or so, but they are around.

He didn't go out last night and has been downstairs.  He came up once, this morning.  I think he is sick.

*   *   *   *   *

He is sick.   He was downstairs, hiding out, so I brought him up where I can watch him and keep him company.  I feel helpless like a mom whose child has a fever and a stomachache.   He'll probably get better, but I can imagine the worst.

He is sluggish and looks as if he would like to throw up, but can't.  I phoned a few vets, but decided against taking him in.  He hates going to the vet and I doubt they can do much except charge me $75 and keep him overnight for observation -- even though they will go home right after and not be there until the morning.

At least I can keep him company although I can do nothing more except sympathize.

There are only two kinds of men: the righteous who believe themselves sinners;
and the sinners who believe themselves righteous
Blaise Pasca

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Saturday August 23rd 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

I slept nine hours and awoke at 0830.  The day is sunny, but expected to be cool.  Nonetheless, the bees will be working today.

Amos still looks about the same.  He was downstairs this morning and I found him and talked to him.  A while later, he came looking for me and cried a bit.  His sides are heaving.  I called the vet and made an appointment for 1315 today in Drum.

*   *   *   *   *

I took Amos to the vet in Drum and $215 later, including an X-Ray and examination , I learned he is dying.  I guess I already knew that, but at least I know I have done what I can.  His immediate issue is an abscess in one ear.  It gave off a lot of green pus during examination, but that is secondary.  He has a lot of fluid around his lungs.  No, it is not congestive heart failure.  Even though he has always had a murmur, his heart looks fine.  The vet had a term for it, FIT if I recall.  Anyhow, it seems his days are numbered.  I hope not.  Even if he is a PITA, he is a pal.

This brings into focus how important my animal companions are to me.  They have kept me company since Ellen died and blunted the pain of the loss.  Losing one of them would hurt a lot.

I increasingly understand how life must look to my mother.  She has lost friends and pets, replaced them, then lost the replacements and still keeps going.  Me, I always figured that I am here for a good time, not a long time, but maybe I get both.  The long time may not be a good time, but as they say, any day above ground is a good day.  We'll see.

“You are entitled to your own opinions — but not your own facts!”
Author Unknown

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Sunday August 24th 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

I slept in again. As nights get longer, dawn comes later, and nights get cooler, this becomes easier.

I am not at all ambitious today.  I spent some time looking at yachts for sale in the Caribbean.  Frank and I looked at a Beneteau 505 at Nanny Cay  on January 5, 2013.  I've been dealing on it ever since.  At the time, I could not get away in the winter, but now, assuming I can solve my home management problem, I can.

Amos is not eating.  He seems better than he was at his worst, but is pretty subdued and sleeps all day.  I was able to get a pill down his throat tonight and have to do this twice a day until they are gone.  There were 28 pills.   I plan to go east next week and wonder how that will work. I need a cat caretaker.

I did not do much except some accounting.  I spent about two hours off and on looking for and trying to fix a lost entry.  I thought I found and fixed this same problem in a previous session.  I think I have it fixed now. (Again?)

 Sometimes when I start up where I last left off, I wonder if gremlins have been at work.  The accounting file always checks out for integrity, but sometimes it seems that entries have been reversed and reconciliations changed or undone.  Any time I check the balances, the accounts balance.    I wonder if QuickBooks is doing some sort of integrity and link check and fix on startup or shutdown. 

It is easier to get into something than to get out of it.
Donald Rumsfeld

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Monday August 25th 2014
Four more months until Christmas
and two months until snow that stays

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

I slept until 0800. According to Sleepyhead, this is the poorest sleep I have had in a while with an AHI of 2.94.  Why?  I don't know.  I did work in the basement yesterday, and also did not have much exercise, but I have no explanation, only suspicions.

When I got up, Zippy was anxious to go outside, so I let her out.  Then Amos ran upstairs, clawed his scratching post and went out too.  I'm supposed to give him another pill this morning.  I hope I can find him.

We seem to have dodged the bullet as far as early frost is concerned and the days and nights are in a warming tend again.  Today promises to be warm and sunny. I have bee work to do.

A while later, Amos came back in and acts like nothing happened.  I think the abscess in the ear was the main issue that laid him low, but am now aware that there is a background condition that may kill him prematurely.  I already knew he has a murmur.

A message today:

Abscesses are funny things - they may not look like much from the outside, but they are able to spread bacteria throughout the body, and sometimes life-threateningly so. The abscess likely weakened Amos to the point that his other issue(s) took hold. Get those pills into him on schedule (I'm assuming you were given antibiotics), and hopefully he'll feel much better soon and go on living for a while yet.

Thanks for the concern, folks.  I'll do what I can.  I was not even aware of the abscess until the vet was palpitating him to feel for issues and quite a bit of green pus squirted out of his ear. 

I knew something was wrong and whatever it was had come on quickly, so I assume that this was the main cause of his weakness.  The other issue is in the background, I guess.

I found Amos and he took his pill without too much hassle.  He is still weak, but looking brighter than he has.  He comes around and and complains a bit every so often.  He sounds a bit squeaky.

Ken sent some pictures from the memorial earlier this month.  As I said, I put on a suit for an hour or so since I was the one who led the event.  This does not happen often, so I thought I'd post a picture for everyone's entertainment.

This morning, in spite of the beautiful day outside, I have been working at the desk, catching up on the books.  It is a thankless job, but keeping caught up makes things easier down the line.

Somehow the house is a mess again.  I do the dishes regularly and vacuum often, but somehow, there seem to be dog hair dust balls in the corners again.  That will have to wait, though.  I have things to do outside.

Enough procrastinating.  It is now noon, eighteen degrees and sunny, and time to go outside.

I went out and resumed pumping duckweed.  I have not worked on that project in the last week, but got back at it. 

I also went and opened the 'grumpy hive'.  It is happy, with lots of brood and in good humour so I continued to the next hive.  That hive was not so jolly and I needed smoke.  The brood was off-centre and there were some poor centre frames, so I smoked it well and rearranged the brood frames.

This hive looked to me to be a candidate for a varroa alcohol wash, since sometimes varroa can make a hive cranky, so I did a wash.  I saw one immature varroa (plus some stingers and junk) in a sample of about 200 bees that had been standing on open brood.  Nothing to worry about.

The next hive has five boxes and is finishing the fifth, so I left it.

I don't usually waste time looking at drone brood, but I came across some drones in burr comb and checked them for varroa.  Nothing.

By the time you see varroa in drone brood, you are in trouble by today's thresholds.

I worked through the rest of the South of the Hedge Yard and four out of seventeen were duds. The rest are good for the fall.

One thing that becomes more and more obvious to me as the years go by is this: 

In my country, real beekeeping takes place before the end of July, and maybe, in some years, the end of June.

After that time, all that can be done is maintenance, harvesting and cleanup. 

Hives started later than mid-July will not make wintering strength. They may winter, but in spring they will be a lot of work. There are exceptions, but we can't let them distract us from the real truth. 

Up until the end of June, split.  After that, begin combining back down.  Combined hives rock!

The South of the Hedge Yard  yard came from the far south last fall and never did very well.  Goes to show that it can take a year or more to recover from a bad year.

At right is an white Acorn frame I came across.  I put it in about a month ago. (See past diary entries).

Note the excellent brood pattern for a newly drawn frame.  You can see young bees emerging in the centre.

I hear Roy is here, cutting my hay. 

Elijah came over to work again today.  He had an eventful trip to Saskatchewan and now it is time for him to go back to school.

Amos is looking better every time I see him go by.  By the way he glances at me, I can tell he appreciates what I did for him.  I hope he keeps eating his pill.  I know he hates taking it, but knows it is necessary.  He is still not eating much.

Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion,
for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
Bertrand Russell.

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Tuesday August 26th 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

Amos went out last night and came in this morning looking good.

I did some housework and went out and worked through more hives.  Frankly, I don't know what I am doing or why.  I don't have enough equipment and what I do have is full of honey.  Getting the honey to extraction is a problem.  What I did last year worked well, but this year I have no supers.  I've pulled off some honey, but it just sits here and if I pull more, I don't have replacement boxes other than brood comb and a lot of it is full of honey, too.

Beekeeping is easy.  It is dealing with the honey that is hard.  I can't even give it away, it seems. 

The bee business is odd.  In spring, people fall all over one another to buy overpriced packages and weak hives, but in summer, when they could buy good hives, suddenly there is no interest.

Lack of supers and extracting capacity was one reason we retired after pollination was cut back: not enough supers.  Another was the lack of good staff.

We used to hire Canadian kids, and they used to have a good work ethic, but starting about two decades ago, we noticed that the kids did not expect to have to work hard, get dirty or stung, or work outside office hours, or at times when they were needed.  They expected weekends and holidays off, even in peak season, and took the time off, causing all sorts of problems.

Currently, beekeepers hire foreign workers and that works well, but we were not willing to make the commitment and investment required to step up to that level.   We'd have had to spend a lot of money building new facilities and accommodation for workers.

My bees have kept me busy and worried all season.  I need to get rid of them.  I have been home since the end of June.  The memorial was a reason to be here some of the time, but the bees have kept me tied down.

The day turned hot and I had a swim in the afternoon, even though the pool is only getting up to 18 degrees now that the days are shorter

The wages of sin are death, but by the time taxes are taken out,
it's just sort of a tired feeling.
Paula Poundstone

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Wednesday August 27th 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

Amos seems to be back to normal.

We're expecting another hot day today.  I have bee work to do and I am beginning to hate the thought.

I got out there fairly early, but the day was already hot and by noon, I'd been swimming twice.  I'm making progress and feel a bit more enthused, but really wonder why I am doing this.  Raising bees is fairly easy, but getting rid of the honey is a hassle.

If I give people reason to think I am miserable, I am from from it.  I am quite happy, but frustrated that I have given myself a big job when I have a cottage and boats that I should be enjoying.  Of course, I am enjoying this place, too and it has been a wonderful summer, but I have bitten off more than I can chew with the bees.

I was interrupted by a phone call from a charter outfit that handles boats in the Caribbean.  I came in shortly after, had lunch, made another of my famous bean stews then had a good long nap and did some research dealing with spending time in the Caribbean next winter.  I'm still thinking of buying a boat there, but it has to pay  for itself. 

I'm stupid that way.  I got to where I can afford boats partly by good luck (lots of it) and partly by being frugal. 

I hate to buy anything that depreciates and prefer to buy something that earns over something that costs.  I verge on being a fanatic that way. 

I bought my one and only new car in 1967.  I learned my lesson when I sold it two years later for a big loss.  Since then I try to buy things I can sell for close to what I paid and preferably more.  Failing that, I look for things that generate cash flow.  Of course, one can carry that too far, but it is a good goal to try for.

One thing I learned is that asset values only hold up as long as people have money and confidence.

It is easy to say, "My home, my hives, my whatever have increased in value so I should borrow against that value.", and people do it, but oftentimes, it comes back to bite them when their income dries up, the asset becomes unsalable, their relationship breaks up, their job forces a move...

The problem is that when a recession hits -- as it always does sooner or later -- all assets drop in value and often cannot be sold, but the loans don't change and the payments continue.  After a recession, older items may fall out of fashion and never regain the price that was paid in better times, but the debt continues to drain resources.

This is a trap that gets the young and naive over and over and enslaves them in debt or forces bankruptcy.

I see I am already thinking about my talk at the BCHPA -- The Financial Side of beekeeping this September 25-27.

How I Screwed Up and Why I'm Hoping You Won't
Why Money Matters, Even if Beekeeping is Your Hobby
Why are You Doing This, Anyhow?
What is Your Time Worth?
Pricing Your Products
Social Responsibility and Reputation
Turning Your Hobby into a Business - Is it a good Idea - For You?
Running a Beekeeping Business
Dealing with Competition - Making it Pay
Value for Money
The Law
The Taxman
The Bank
Happy Ending

Thomas Jefferson stated,

“If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and the corporations which grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.”

Personally, I would not blame this phenomenon on the banks so much as human nature and natural cycles of fear and greed.

Benjamin Franklin said,

"I conceive that the great part of the miseries of mankind are brought upon them by false estimates they have made of the value of things."

And I think he is right.  First we humans overvalue, then undervalue things. Most things are never worth more than the day you buy them and often drop in resale value by a significant percentage by the time you walk out the door or drive off the lot.  Real estate is expensive to buy and sell, and even if you get a good buy, the moment you decide to sell, you'll have to net as much as twenty percent less after commissions, transfer taxes, etc. etc.

I think I just made an offer on the boat I looked at two years ago for a broker friend.  I have been communicating with him since then, but we never agreed.  Now he is hot to sell the owner a new boat and maybe he will meet my terms. 

I don't know if having my offer accepted would make me happy or worried.  Owning a boat on Tortola would open up a whole new chapter.

Now, at 1600, the temperature is 29.3 out there.  I think I'll go back out.  It's hot, but the sun is lower and I was accomplishing quite a bit, so would like to keep it up. 

Back when I was first in bees, I used to work at candles in the morning, swim all afternoon in the local creeks, then get to work on the bees at 4 PM and work until dark.  That worked well.  Bees are busy at 1600 and the heat makes them easy to work with.  I have the pool for refuge if my rad starts to boil over.

I would not swim in the creeks these days, but forty years ago, they were clean, even if the water was the colour of tea.  Since then intensive agriculture has polluted them and new weeds have moved in to choke them up.  There is also much less water now because farmers upstream have cleared bush and some are using creek water for irrigation.

It is now 1658 and I did not yet go out.  I got busy with a few things, like writing here and outlining my talk for the meeting in September. 

It is hot.  My living room is now up to 80 degrees F.  I don't have A/C.  On the radio just now, they say tomorrow will only reach twelve degrees Celsius.  Quite a change.

I went out with the best of intentions, but got distracted by the duckweed, then the swimming pool.  After a swim, I came in, barbecued a steak and quit for the time being.  I may go out again in a while, but maybe not.  In the meantime, I am dreaming of the Caribbean and working on my presentation.

Trying to determine what is going on in the world by reading newspapers
is like trying to tell the time by watching the second hand of a clock.
Ben Hecht

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Thursday August 28th 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

Rain is predicted and a high of nineteen.

I slept poorly last night, even with the CPAP machine. 

I have not been able to puzzle out why sometimes I have a zero AHI and other times, I have a number of apneas.  It was hot in the house last night, I had a long nap during the afternoon, I made a stew with crushed rather than diced tomatoes, I worked on the bees... None of these are things I can finger and say, "that is it".

I'm going to clean house, water the plants, tidy my desk and have people over for supper -- I think.  I have yet to hear back.

I may get out to the bees.

Here's that perceptive email I got yesterday.

"hello allen would like to say hope every thing is going great for you but reading your diary entries things are not you seem to really have your hands full I would like to make a suggestion you really seem to be torn between keeping your home and bees my suggestion is to sale your bees im sure you could get some good stock back if you wanted to start bee keeping again later on

Actually, things are going quite well and I am just grousing because I have too much of everything and am not managing my time or assets well.  I have a habit of taking on things that limit me, like the memorial and these art shows -- and too many bees. 

I'm reasonably happy and just feel like the donkey that starved to death halfway between a bale of hay and a bucket of oats because he could/would not decide.  I tend to spend too much time weighing options, planning, and thinking when others are already doing.  That said, I do seem to get a lot done, and when I do something, it usually works out, so maybe that is not all bad.

"and get a friend or relative to live in your home for 1 or 2 years and don't go back to you home in that time to see how it really feels not to be able to go back because once you sale you may not be able to get it back and discover that may be the biggest mistake you ever made by selling

That is good advice.  I talk about selling, but if I did, it would have to be to someone who likes it and takes it just the way it is.  I don't have what it takes to spruce it up for sale. 

They would need cash, too, because nobody would be willing to provide a mortgage, and I would not take back a mortgage.  That is always too risky. Rent?  That is also fraught with problems.  In short, I probably won't sell.

It costs me little but worry to keep the place, and as you say, I need someone to live here or a caretaker.  I have considered taking in a boarder, but then I have a stranger in my house.

I am considering a paid caretaker and have some local prospects, but the biggest issues are in the dead of winter when the roads are blown in and the heat might fail.  I need to deal with heat and get a better system installed, but I have been saying that for three decades. This place is neither a typical house nor a commercial building.  We got a quote and it came in at $30K, and that was just a guess.

"don't get me wrong I still really enjoy reading about you your home and bees I my self im going to get me some more bees in the spring because I miss them so badly

Just don't do what I do and get so many they become a pain.

"all thro life we all need some thing to make us feel useful some people like working on cars others like working with bees


"I believe you need a good long vacation and you may find that things aren't so bad after all also

As I say, I'm not finding things all that bad.  I'm just a bit annoyed that I let myself get trapped by my own agenda.  I can just walk away from the bees.  I've done that before. (More to follow on that).

"for give me for saying so but maybe your missing companionship I do not know you in person and never knew your wife but as for any one im sure she would not want you to continue thro life unhappy I know you will never stop missing your wife 45yrs is a long time to be with same person the memories you shared will always be with you but life does go on

What is interesting is not so much that I miss her as that I replay the past sometimes and see things I did not at the time.  I always say, "No regrets", but I can't imagine any sensitive person who has none at all.

I am not lonely and not looking for another mate. I have friends, family, and these two animal companions, and I plan to do some visiting shortly.  I'm working on plans to get out in the winter more.

"I was also wondering about amos im glad you up dated us I read where you and him had a run in over clawing furnisher I though you had gave him away

I told him sternly that one more time and he was gone, but he listened.  Once Ellen was going to take him to the GuZoo, but she could not find him.  He was hiding out.  People don't think animals understand English, but mine do.

"im glad you still have him

I am too, most of the time.

"also how have your bee sales done this year is the sales up or down in your area seems to me you had sold quiet a few hives this time last year

In a word, crappy.  I suppose I may have priced above the market, but I was sick at a critical time, and the bees were slow developing.  That was partly my fault for not splitting earlier and raising queens, but that was what happened.

"but one more quick thing I hope you continue with your diary and your bees but you have to do what is best for allen and I believe we all will understand that take care

Writing here is how I focus my thoughts and although I gave it up at one point, I reinstated it.  I have no plans to quite at this point in time.

"sincerely troy from ky, usa

p,s, that was a fantastic frame of brood if only they all were that good

It looks as if Acorn frames are a success.

I have promised to write about the time I abandoned my bees for a few years and the surprising result I did not recognize at the time, but sitting is the new smoking and I need to get going.

BTW, if you smoke, you need to see this.  I used to smoke heavily when in my twenties, then seemed to lose interest and not smoke except in social settings.  I never did "quit'.  I just forgot to smoke.

After watching what happened to Ellen (who did not smoke) and Frank who still does, but can do little else, I did stop entirely.  I have no interest in taking even one puff, and now it just looks stupid to me, and why anyone would want to do that mystifies me -- even though I did it myself.

I still get some smoke from my bee smoker, though.

I spent the morning cleaning.  Mid-day, I drove to Three Hills  for groceries.  On my return I finished cleaning and cooked supper. 

Somewhere in that time, I emailed the broker and think I bought a boat in the Caribbean.  There are procedures to go through, but I made an offer than will be accepted I am told.

People started arriving around 1800 and we ate around 1900.  Fen arrived in her new pickup truck and we all went out and admired it. 

We had just started supper when Bruce and Bruce arrived and joined us.  They are on a motorcycle tour from Saltspring Island and are planning on touring the Drumheller badlands before returning west.

Most of the guests left around 2200, but Bruce P. and I sat up until 0200 talking.  I have not done that for along time.

If your parents never had children, chances are you won't, either.
Dick Cavett

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Friday August 29th 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

Today is sunny and cool.  I woke up around 0800and had breakfast with Bruce and Bruce.  Then they headed off to Drumheller for the day.

I heard back from the broker that my boat offer was rejected.  I told him that I stand firm and that my offer will continue to be valid only until 6 PM MDST.  I don't like being left hanging.  I had already compromised.  Enough is enough.  Buying that boat will be stressful. Good stress, maybe, and maybe not.  Paying too much will not reduce the stress.

I'm having a lazy day, recovering from the late night.  I pried the glass off the back of my Nexus 4 and replaced it.  The phone now looks like new.  In the process, though, I damaged the coil antenna that allows charging without plugging in.  I never used that feature anyhow.  I don't have that type of special charger, and reports are that the phones tends to fall of them, so have not been tempted to get one.

After more than a year, it is still the best phone I have ever owned.

I went out and had a good several hours working on the bees.  I have some honey to extract and hope I can manage to get it done before I go east.

Bruce and Bruce returned, we had supper, then Shirley dropped by to see if the plants were okay and sat with us a while.

If we don't change direction soon, we'll end up where we're going.
Irwin Corey

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Saturday August 30th 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

I slept right through the night, using  the CPAP machine and Sleepyhead reports an AHI of 0.24, which is excellent.  Last evening, we shared a bottle and a half of red wine, so I anticipated sleep problems -- red wine sometimes does that to me -- so I took a melatonin, two Benadryls and an aspirin before I went to bed at 2230.

That seemed to work. The melatonin was to fall asleep early, the Benadryls to ensure no congestion or allergy, and the aspirin so my shoulders would not bother me.  I know it seems like a lot of medicine, but sometimes a good night's sleep is worth a little "Living Better Through Chemistry".

Something I've noticed is that if I sleep really well, I sometimes don't have to make a trip to the bathroom in the night. I find that very interesting.

People assume that their bladder wakes them up, but I have noticed that it is natural to not have that urge until a few minutes after awakening naturally after good sleep.  I think that where sleep is undisturbed, the bladder does not normally fill much  during the night (except where a lot of fluids were consumed before bed), but rather fills naturally as part of the morning awakening process as the body adjusts from lying asleep to activity and alters temperature, heart rate, breathing and fluid balance.

I suspect a lot of midnight washroom trips are due to poor sleep.  People with sleep disturbances waken multiple times during the night, and even multiple times an hour, without knowing it.  If they (we) do so, I am guessing that these wakenings set off the natural process that fills the bladder, resulting in full consciousness and the need to make the trip.

When I was milking goats, I learned that although the udder distends visibly as milking time approaches, most of the milk is not released until milking is actually underway, and I suspect that the bladder works the same way, not filling completely until the wakening process is complete.

So, it is a chicken and egg question.  I suspect that if the sleep were undisturbed that the nocturnal washroom trips might be fewer -- or none.  That seems to be the case with me.

Using the CPAP machine and Sleepyhead software allows me to examine my sleep each morning and learn.  Sometimes I find the machine interferes with sleep, but other times helps. 

I like to use it just so I can look at the cool graphs the next morning.

The machine also draws fresh air from beside my bed, not the air from from my pillow that I breathe when not using CPAP.  I have wondered if the nighttime congestion I sometimes experience is partially due to dust from my hair or unavoidable dust mites in the pillow and bedding.  Even with regular and careful washing of bedding, dust mites are everywhere.

Bruce and Bruce are leaving today for B.C..  We've had a good visit.  Although I enjoy living by myself, I enjoy company, and Bruce and Bruce are easy guests to have around.  I pick Jonathan up at YYC this afternoon, so I will have him around for a few days now, and I always enjoy having him here.

I enjoyed my bee work yesterday and hope to get out early today.  I'll have to leave for the airport at 1630 at the latest and if I plan to shop along the way, earlier.

We are now experiencing the transition to fall weather and the days are shortening noticeably.  This, is in many ways, the nicest time of year -- until we awaken to frost on the windshields and wilted flowers.  The cooler weather makes my bee work much more comfortable, but the swimming pool is usually a bit too cool these days.

I went out and worked for a few hours.  In the North Yard, a few hives had developed drone layers or gone queenless, so I used the boxes to augment the other hives.  I am really short of empty comb, and even the duds are full of honey.  When I find a dud, I just use the boxes, bees and all on a nearby hive.

The pool thermometer read 15° C (59° F.) mid-afternoon and that is pretty chilly, but I was hot from my work and I went in anyhow.  It was pleasant enough, but I seldom stay in long.  There is not much to do in a small pool except cool down.

After that, I drove to YYC to meet Jon.  We had a burger on the way home and spent the evening visiting at the kitchen table.

I tend to live in the past because most of my life is there.
Herb Caen

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Sunday August 31st 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

I slept in until 0900 and woke up to a beautiful day.  The sky is clear, the sun is up, and sunlight shimmers on the poplars that surround The Old Schoolhouse as the leaves rustle in a light breeze. The thermometer reads 14.3° C. 

Sleepyhead reports an AHI of 0.46 which is good.  I notice the pressure was up to 12 twice and the median pressure was 7.64, so the machine was providing a benefit.

I awoke congested and with a slightly swollen left eye, so I assume a bee must have stung me there yesterday.  I don't really recall.  I was working without a net or gloves as is my custom, and occasionally bees get me in the face.  I took an antihistamine and assume it will go back to normal within and hour or so.

Usually my beard distracts attacking bees, but the eyes are an instinctive target.  I wear sunglasses to deflect any direct hits, but their colour and outline contrast with my face, and contrast areas are where the bees naturally try to sting.  Beekeepers know that a watchband, for example is likely to attract stings.  The outline of eyeglasses can have the same attraction.

Jon and I are going to visit the Orams this evening and he has work to do today, but otherwise, I have nothing scheduled.

Looking in the mirror, I see that both eyes are a bit swollen.  I must have had a few stings yesterday.  Can't recall.

Yes! (peeing in the night) I have often wondered exactly the same thing, whether it's chicken or egg, as I occasionally don't wake to pee even once if I go to bed super tired and sleep deeply, regardless of my liquid intake the day/evening before, whereas my usual, much lighter sleep always has me up and in the bathroom every couple hours...

Loved the lung video! Watched it several times, a miracle of engineering, really, how large a good lung will expand! Fabulous thing to see! The *other* one was absolutely horrifying by comparison, and now you've got me really wondering what my ex-smoker lungs (not for 20+ years) might look like.....

I pulled some honey yesterday and left it tipped on top of hives.  Going back today, after lunch, I see a little robbing, but not as much as one might expect after an overnight rain.  A little robbing does not bother me and can be useful fro cleaning up dripping burr comb on boxes of honey.  It also stimulates any remaining bees to fly.

Jon spent the day working on a remote server, transferring files, so he was fully occupied.

I'll have to pick it up.

I did that, had a dip in the pool, and around 1530, Jon and I drove to Gull Lake, arriving in time for supper.  I went to bed early.

Human beings are the only creatures that allow their children to come back home.
Bill Cosby

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