Life is too short to be bored

I have been saying this for weeks.

And they are finally here.

Local Honey Bees ready to be installed in their hive

Local Honey Bees ready to be installed in their hive

All 10,000 little souls that I ever so carefully drove home from the bee shop, stored in our cool cellar for this 88 degree day, and then (with great hesitation and full body coverage) released the queen and lowered the group into their new home.

Almost all of us made it out alive.

Now I leave the hive to adjust to their new residence for a few days before I do my first inspection. Which, honestly, I am already nervous about.

To prepare for the bees arrival I took a class at the local community college, from a known expert in the field. And I checked some books out from the library. So far Homegrown Honey Bees has been a good read. I took great solace in the chapter titled What Am I Getting Into? I have thought that very thing many times. It’s always one thing to read and study up on a subject, but another thing entirely when you’re standing out there holding foreign tools, wearing a bulky hat and veil with angry creatures swirling around your head.

So, why am I doing all this?

For adventure. For sustainability. For an awesome garden this year. For honey. And most importantly for the bees. (I hear it’s fun too!)

Unless you really don’t read any news, you must have heard about the plight of our honey bee in recent years. Colony Collapse Disorder, pesticides, cell phones, mites, die-off. These are all words associated with bees these days. Scientists aren’t exactly sure what is causing the great die-off of the bees worldwide but they sure have some theories. And I have mine, that I know its a man made problem.

Today, the EU announced a ban on a pesticide thought to be linked to the killing of bees. This is huge news and a great step forward. And fitting for the day that I venture into the world of bees, officially. I hope this is our answer, or maybe one of our answers to why we are losing our bees at such a rapid rate.

Most of us never stop to think about all the bee does for us. But without bees you could not have that juicy apple for lunch, broccoli for dinner, almonds for a snack, honey on toast, or stop to smell any roses. One mouthful out of three in our diets is directly or indirectly related to honey bee pollination. It is estimated that honey bees provide $15 billion worth of crop production each year. And they do it all for free, with gusto.

So my small contribution to the solution is to use a piece of my property and some of my time to care for a colony that will hopefully remain healthy and in return give so much of themselves. They will provide so many benefits for my health and enjoyment and for the land at large.

Hope I'm ready for this...



Earth Day is today.

And everyday.

Earth Day is not about plating a tree, or bringing your own cup, or going to some festival.

Sure, these things are great, and important, but it’s bigger than that.

Earth Day allows us to stop and pay respect to this giant being that sustains all we do. I mean, really think about that, there really is no ‘us’ without Earth.

So yes, we give her one day where we are all supposed to stop and say thank you, just like we do for notable people who have changed history for the better.

One day, everyone living on this planet will also be a part of history. The path this history takes is up to us.

We make choices everyday. Thousands of choices. Where to go, what to eat, what to wear, how to get places. It goes on and on. Every time we make a choice we cast a vote. We are saying yes to a product, a way of life. And the choices we make have a consequence for Earth.

We all know there are a myriad of problems. Deforestation, habitat destruction, drought, overpopulation, rising sea levels, oceans full of plastic, etc.

Luckily, there are so many people and organizations working on solutions. But we cannot just think there are ‘others’ working on these problems that are also affecting ‘others’.

No. That time is over.

The state of the Earth is everyone’s problem. But it is also everyone’s opportunity.

We can all do more.

I always use my reusable cup & other utensils, recycle and compost everything I can, drive a low emission vehicle, grow my own food, drink tap water from a stainless steel bottle, turn off lights, always have my reusable bags, have a ‘green’ cell phone company, sign petitions, boycott certain companies, buy organic and local.


We can all do more.

I challenge you to find a place in your life where you can do more. A place where you can educate yourself, your family or friends about the issues that affect us all and what things large or small we can do to help. Parents, teachers, commuters, shoppers, bloggers, artists, no matter what role in life you claim, everyone has this opportunity.

Tonight, say thank you to Earth. (And go see the meteor show she’s putting on to celebrate, best visible tonight). And challenge yourself to make tangible change for the better.

Because, really, where are we without Earth?

More Info:

Poisoned Kittie

Everything fun and exciting that happened this week was overshadowed by the fact that our beloved cat, Little Girl, ate rat poison.

She is going to make it. That is only because of a series of fortunate events.

Little Girl

We saw her on Tuesday acting weird but were unable to catch her. Wednesday was extremely hot and she hid all day. It wasn’t until Wednesday night when we called for her with a can of wet food that she came and let us pick her up and take her inside. She was completely limp, wouldn’t eat or drink or respond to touch. We knew we had to take her to the emergency vet.

After a long, scary night of tests and uncertainty it was determined that her blood was not clotting at all and the probable cause was poisoning. Rat poisons are anticoagulants and that is exactly how they work to kill rodents. The animal bleeds from the inside and sometimes outside for seemingly no reason.

Little Girl was admitted to the hospital where she spent three days. She was given a transfusion and Vitamin K, which is the best treatment to introduce healthy platelets that make the blood coagulate again.

Little Girl was very lucky.

Unfortunately, this is a common experience and not all animals survive this occurrence. Children are affected by this every year, too. It is likely that Little Girl ate a few rats that had ingested the poison (she is a true huntress) or even ate the poison herself, as they try to make it tasty to animals.

We need to work together to help stop the spread of unnecessary poison in our communities.

What we can all do:

  • Do no use ingestion style poisons. (See alternatives below)
  • Talk to friends family and neighbors about the harm these poisons cause.
  • Do not create habitat for mice/rats around your home. Clean out garages, barns, wood piles and brush and do not leave food/trash around.
  • Value the neighborhood cat’s hunting abilities (or your own cat’s)
  • Adopt a barn cat (cool program in Sonoma County, CA and likely elsewhere)

Alternative Traps to Poison

  • Humane traps- a plastic or wire cage that holds bait and triggers when the animal enters. You can then take the animal out of the house or drive it away from your property.
  • Sticky traps- not so humane but not as harmful to pets.
  • Old fashioned snap trap (kills on contact)
  • Electronic trap- a plastic house that has voltage inside (not as humane if it fails)

If you suspect your pet has been poisoned:

  • Call your veterinarian, the nearest animal hospital or the Pet Poison Helpline at at 1-855-213-6680, especially if you notice your cat is bleeding.
  • If you can find the container or label for the poison, bring it with you to the veterinarian.

Remember, if a poison can kill a rodent it can kill a pet.

Eddie the sea otter plays basketball to help with his arthritis.


View my previous post which has more about sea otters.

Oh, to be a Sea Otter.

I love sea otters.

Ever since a 6th grade science report I have been hooked by their cuteness, curiosity, and their ability to just have fun. They also love to nap. And I appreciate anyone who likes a good nap.

Sea Otters Holding Hands

As you may know, the California sea otter (Enhydra lutris) is an endangered species.

Since they were nearly hunted to extinction for their fur from 1741-1911 they have had trouble recovering their once large numbers. Through a ban on hunting, conservation efforts and a surrogate reintroduction program spearheaded by the Monterey Bay Aquarium their numbers are steady, but not numerous.

Unfortunately, by law they have been restricted to a small portion of our coast for many years. If otters were found living outside this human created line, or the “otter free zone” stretching from Point Conception to the Mexican boarder, they would be relocated. But in December of 2012, it was decided that this ban would be lifted and the otters can return to their full native swimming grounds.

Sea Otter at Vancouver Aquarium

 One of the best places to see sea otters up close and better appreciate their adorable playfulness is at the Monterrey Bay Aquarium. The sea otter exhibit just went under a retrofit and reopened. They have many new otters who have joined the group. Some will be on display and some will be used in their surrogate program (SORAC) where orphaned pups are brought to the center and a surrogate mom teaches them all things otter.

There is even an Otter Web Cam where you can watch the fun from home. 7am-7pm PST (If the camera says ‘off air’ in the bottom right corner click that, it should go live. )

Many groups are working to keep the sea otter population strong and healthy.

How can you help?

  • Learn more about the sea otter and share with others.
  • Visit the Monterrey Bay Aquarium
  • It’s almost tax day, did you know you can donate money right on your tax form? In 2012, Californians donated $351,037 to the program. So far, the program has raised over 1.7 million dollars since it was created. We need your help to keep this program alive!
  • Adopt a sea otter here or here (I’m not kidding!)

                              Sea Otter Wave 

  Some of my favorite facts about sea otters:

  • They help fight climate change! By eating animals such as urchins that eat kelp forests they keep these carbon sequestering forests healthy and alive.
  • They are the only marine mammal that uses a tool. (to open hard shellfish)
  • Otter fur is soft and dense, they have 1 million hairs per square inch.
  • Otters can eat so many sea urchins in a lifetime that their teeth and bones can be stained purple.
  • Otters only have one pup.
  • Otters have retractable claws like a cat.

This last week I took a trip to Quarry Hill Botanical Garden in Glen Ellen. Quarry Hill is a world renowned Asian themed garden that was all started from wild seed. It’s a great and unique collection. This is a slideshow of my photos from the trip. Lots of macro shots.

Belly Flops

What does a food manufacturer do when their product is the wrong shape, color or taste? Normally, they go into the trash (or compost I could only hope). But in the case of Jelly Belly, the makers of ‘the original gourmet jelly bean,” they are repackaged into 1 pound bags and sold as Belly Flops. 


According to the package, Belly Flops are “special beans that taste great but don’t quite meet all of our demanding standards for size, color, shape and flavor.”

As a long time Jelly Belly fan I have also, over the years, come to appreciate Belly Flops for certain reasons:

1. No two bags are ever alike.

2. The shapes are always entertaining.

3. You can get some wild tastes you would never expect.

They are almost always delicious tastes. I’ve had super tropical fruits, extra buttery popcorn, rich coffee, creamy cheesecake and some other flavors I can’t even describe. It was only today while preparing for this blog post that I had to spit out a bean. It was the spiciest cinnamon/paprika taste I have ever experienced from a candy. I spit it out immediately and honestly, I’m a little afraid to eat the rest of the red beans in this package. But, in all my packages of flops over the years this is a first.

4. Flops are cheaper than regular beans.

Jelly Belly beans are not cheap. The best deal I have ever seen is at Costco where you can get 4 lbs (64oz) container for under $20, I think… But if you buy them at the grocery store or candy store they can be as much as $6.99/ quarter pound.

Flops, depending where you find them, can be as little as $2.99/lb.

I hear Flops are available for purchase at the end of the official Jelly Belly Factory tour in Fairfield, CA. I have yet to make that trek, but it is on the list.

If you’re a long time Jelly Belly fan, like me, you will appreciate the change of pace that is the Belly Flop. If you’re a casual jelly bean consumer you will enjoy the novelty.

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