Thursday, May 26, 2022

The Bee's Knees

62 and raining.

I miss having honeybees. There is something completely satisfying about a busy hive nestled under a springtime tree, the hum providing the perfect music for this time of year. There are still some wild bees around our place, very likely from a swarm from our former neighbor, who gave up on his bees and left them to their own devices. We would like to have hives again, but the cost of replacement bees nowadays makes beekeeping almost a rich man's hobby, it seems. But maybe one day we will dive in again, because it just seems odd not to have a hive or two on the place.

Yesterday someone said something about a thing being "the bee's knees". A funny saying, when you come to think of it. What does it mean, anyway? And where did the saying come from?

A quick google search turned up the following: "The phrase was first recorded in the late 18th century, when it was used to mean 'something very small and insignificant'. Its current meaning dates from the 1920s, at which time a whole collection of American slang expressions were coined with the meaning 'an outstanding person or thing'. Examples included the flea's eyebrows, the canary's tusks, and one that still survives – the cat's whiskers. The switch in meaning for the bee's knees  probably emerged because it was so similar in structure and pattern to these other phrases." from .

I have never heard the expression, "the flea's eyebrows" either, but I kinda like it--so descriptive of a tiny thing, isn't it?

Then I got to thinking of other sayings about bees. We all know sweet as honey, of course, and it's self-explanatory, and about how some cultures go out to tell the bees when someone has passed away. But how about the one that says if a bee enters your home, a visitor is coming? Or if a bee lands on your hand, that's good luck? There are plenty of others, such as:

Using bad language around the bees will get you stung. Similarly, you should never argue around bees. These make sense to me, as animals, and probably bees, can sense the change in atmosphere when someone is angry or scared. Maybe we put off a certain scent, or pheromones, when we're angry.

Bees should be told when someone dies, marries, or another important event occurs. They should also be introduced if they get a new beekeeper. 

If a bee comes in the house, don't try to force it out. Just leave a window or door open so it can leave on its own.

A bee landing on your hand means money is coming to you, and a bee on your head means great success is in your future.

image from wikimedia

The name Melissa comes from the Greek, and means "honeybee". I know several ladies named Melissa, and I wonder if they know this little fact. The name Deborah also means "bee".

Bees are considered symbols of loyalty and diligence. Which makes me think of the expressions "working like a bee" and "busy as a bee".

Most of us have heard that "A swarm of bees in May is worth a load of hay, a swarm in June iss worth a silver spoon, but a swarm in July is not worth a fly". This is because the bees will not have time to make enough honey to survive the winter if they swarm in July. Of course, in warmer climates, this old saw doesn't really hold true.

 This old proverb really gets to the point, doesn't it? Words are like bees – some create honey
and others leave a sting. And an old Arab proverb says, "When you shoot an arrow of truth,
dip its point in honey." 

So with all of that, I'll buzz off for today, leaving you with this, one of my favorite songs by Judy Collins:

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Family Reunion

52, overcast but some sun later. Humid.

One reason we worked so hard on yard and gardens last week was because we would be away for 3 days at my family reunion. Isn't it funny how hard we will work to get ready to be away? I wanted to leave the house clean and tidy, the porch clean and pretty, the lawns mowed and the gardens in as good as shape as possible, so that when we came home we wouldn't be behind on any of it. Of course, when we got home, the grass needed to be mowed again, the weeds had thrived, and Larry immediately tracked up the porch with muddy boots. Ah me. Still, it was much better than it might have been if we hadn't done all that work, right?

I came home with more plants too, so in addition to pulling more weeds I have plants to put in. We found the most marvelous greenhouse in Elkins, WV, called Mary's Greenhouse, and I was in heaven walking around there. There was one whole greenhouse just for herbs! I found the parsley and rosemary I've been looking for, that beautiful new peony and lots more besides. About 200 dollars worth, actually. Cringe. I've spent a lot on plants this year, but it has dawned on me that I only have a few more years, probably, when I will be able to do this work, and I have always put off buying plants I want because of the cost. Now I am determined to have the gardens I have dreamed of, if only for a few years. I don't get manicures and pedicures, I don't drink a lot or do drugs, I don't gamble or get my hair done, I don't buy many clothes and most are used anyway, I don't go out much or go to concerts--so this is my vice, and so be it.

But wait, I intended to write about the reunion! It. Was. Wonderful. There were not as many people as there have been in the past, due to many reasons. Some had graduations to attend, some had the state track meet in which their kids were competing. One had a broken hand, and one sister and her husband came down with Covid just days before the reunion. But we were so glad to see those who could make it. Several of my nieces and nephews came with some of their children. Cousins from Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina came, as did my dear Aunt Georgette, who will celebrate her 88th birthday this year. I was thrilled that two sons, three daughters-in-law, one sort-of son-in-law, and 2 granddaughters were able to join us this year--it made the weekend extra special for me that they made the effort to be there. Perhaps next year there will be more people, now that life is somewhat normal and they all know the reunion is on once again.

Sisters Mary, Judy and me.

Even though the kids are older, the creek still draws them like a magnet.

Catie gets her hair braided by her granny Judy.

Cousin Ken discussing his prison ministry with Sandy and Grace.

A great confab going on here!

Granddaughter Haley with my nephew David. 

In our cabin:

Look at this fabulous light fixture!

On the porch of our cabin.

Only 2 of my 12 siblings came, which was kind of disappointing, but we seem to have dwindled down to a core group of 4 sisters who are committed to the reunion, with the others occasionally attending. I felt so bad for my sister who had Covid as I know she really looked forward to the weekend, but I did call her from the park and we had a nice long chat.

The nicest thing about the weekend was the connections being made and re-established. Several plans were made to get together by different ones, which made me happy because as scattered as we are, maintaining contact is not so easy. But with social media we've been able to stay in touch, thank goodness, and now there will be more visiting in the future.

There were two things that were quite different from past reunions: no little children, and lots of dogs. At our first reunions, there were so many children, and several pregnant mamas, but after 15 years of these gatherings, the littles have grown up, some are married, and pets have become a big part of people's lives, perhaps because of Covid? 

We are all looking forward to being together again next year at Lost River State Park. It was something we all needed, I think, and we came away feeling well loved and peaceful. 

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Coming Up for Air

55 this morning, cloudy and light showers. Weekend was hot, in the high 80's, with a storm yesterday.

Friends, the past couple weeks have been such a blur I am not even sure where I left off writing here. Mainly, it's been garden work. We've been planting again, squash, cucumbers, beans, and corn, and today, in this cool, cloudy weather, Larry is putting in our first tomato plants. We're a little behind there, but we were away over the weekend and I didn't want to plant and let the poor things fend for themselves in that high heat and hot sun.

So what's been going on in your lives? I haven't even been reading my usual blogs, so I have catch-up to fo there too. I hope everyone is still well and thriving. Tell me what you've been up to.

The weather has been perfect off and on for pulling weeds, and I have done a LOT of that. Especially that ubiquitous gill-over-the ground, creeping Charlie, ground ivy or whatever you call it. I've pulled several wheelbarrow loads, and Larry has helped too. We have it pushed back a bit but will never be truly rid of it. A pity that it's so invasive, because it's really a pretty little plant.

So here's some photos of the gardens. I've posted most of these on Facebook, I think, but I know that not all of you use that platform.

This is a drift rose, so named, I think, because of its spreading habit. I would love to have more of these. The photo doesn't do justice to the variation of peach and yellow colors.

This rose, and the yellow iris, both came as gifts from a young friend. 

Self-sown lamb's ears. Years ago I got a start from a friend, and apparently there's no end after you once have it because it self-seeds easily. It's great for color and texture variation on the garden.

A cheap rambler rose, bought for a dollar about 5 years ago. Behind it are self-sown daisies and litte pink primroses that also self-seeded.

Same rose, different view, with a few Dame's Rocket on the left.

This is my newest peony, not yet in the ground even. I've added 4 peonies to my gardens this year, and hope to continue to add them--such beauty and fragrance.

Another rambler, that was once a tea rose,but got killed back to the rootstock. It's in entirely the wrong place, and every year I think I'll get it moved, but it never happens.

The Japanese iris are just starting to open. 

More peonies, this one planted a couple years ago.

And the old-time white peony. This one got knocked to the ground by rain, so it's now in a bouquet in the house.

This is about 1/3 of the tomato plants from my greenhouses. Some are quite large, others still small but very sturdy. Larry is planting these today.

Also planting these today--Better Boy hybrid. They're a good canning tomato. We have many heritage varieties, though--Black Crim, Cherokee Purple, Dr. Whyche's Yellow, Belgium Giant Pink, Brandywine Black, Yellow Oxheart, some others. Also black opal cherry, a red cherry, and yellow pear.

What's left in the greenhouses:

Those pots of small plants in the front are rhubarb I'm growing from seed. Who knew you could do that?? We'll see how this goes.

This is a new garden this year, or rather an extension of an older one.

Garlic also self-seeds here, and this area looks like these will be especially nice.

I wish I coud remember the name of this rose. I planted it two years ago, and the deer kept eating it back. So I covered it with chicken wire last fall, and this year put a metal chair over it. So far so good.

How about these little primroses? They self-seeded from another bed and here they are, thriving in that crumbled sidewalk.

Spiderwort only opens in the sun, and according to folklore, the flowers turn pink when radiation is in the air or soil.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.
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