Gratitude, bees, garden, and kid update.

Oh sweetness of summer, I feel you. We celebrated the summer solstice simply with a few friends out by our lovely river on a warm balmy evening. I really love that I get to experience the changing of seasons here. I could never move somewhere with weather that is always predictable or warm. I love it all, and I feel like I need the variety to stay grateful for it. I feel that way about food, too. Eating seasonally has made me that much more grateful for each item of garden goodness as it comes and goes. And so it goes with Jeff's beard! I love it, and each summer he insists on shaving it off once. Everyone teases me about having married a minor for a couple of weeks, and then it grows back the way it was and we forget all about it. I never really understood why he did it until recently, thinking about it all in the same light as I do the other things. It's a small exercise in fasting and mindfulness. He says he doesn't think he'd appreciate it as much if he never shaved it, and that he wants the kids to have seen his face from time to time. 

Okay, so the big news over the past few days is that we got honey bees. People have been asking us when we were going to get some and we actually decided to be more moderate and hold off for another year. But of course, in true Yoder-style, we got an opportunity to get some and couldn't resist. Our new brother-in-law has been keeping bees for many years, and so he spontaneously offered to give us one of his hives. We made the trip out there on Saturday and it was so much awesome. We suited up and got a sort of Beekeeping 101 crash course. 

We have lots to learn. For instance, it didn't occur to either of us that it might not be the best thing to wear Birkenstocks to manipulate active beehives… Thankfully Dave (our BIL) had really thick socks to lend us, so we were in the clear. 

Here's his amazing set up. We learned all about how to smoke the bees so they are more docile, all about the parts of the hive and how to harvest honey, and how to identify the eggs, larvae, and queen. It was so fun, and got me thinking that it's like everything else in our life. It hardly seems like a lot of work. Mostly we'll just let them do their thing! I have no idea why we thought holding off would be a good idea… certainly not nearly so good as getting honey at the end of the year.

We had to carefully transport the hive back home and onto the land. The entrance was taped shut, and Jeff had to quickly undo the tape and run. All went well, and they are nestled into their new home. It's basically right on our house site, so we'll have to move it eventually, but for now it's fine.

Jeff and I got up early together to harvest, wash, and package our microgreens for the co-op delivery this morning. The kids were fast asleep, it was just the two of us under the awning working quietly. Jeff looked at me and said "I like this."

I like this too. He and I were talking the other day about how a larger and larger percentage of our work is becoming directly rewarding. It's all so relevant. I remember working other jobs and having to motivate myself by imagining the people on the other end of things benefiting- but it was so far removed from me. Often the only motivator was for the money or to avoid consequences. These days? My work is done because I want what I will get out of it. 

The garden is going strong. I am doing what I can, when I can, which is always more than not doing it at all. Bean plants are up and vining, although I don't see any beans just yet. 

I don't know that I'll ever get sick of this view… 

We put up that reed fencing over our chain link fence. I didn't really want to close people out, but after that incident the other day we got more attention (which was positive), and then some more negative attention… well, I guess it wasn't totally negative. Basically Jeff told a neighbor what had happened with the unhappy woman and he said "Well, I guess I can see why people are unhappy about it… you know, because of all the trash." Which is bizarre, because there is no trash in our yard. There's toys and stuff and activities in progress, but we have so little trash we don't even put out our garbage every week. So Jeff came back with that story, about how people look at our yard and see "trash" and I just rolled my eyes and opted for this reed fencing to just give us a break. It's nice to be visible most of the time, but it's also kind of tiring being on a busy corner and just *so* open. Mostly we did the fencing for Maya, who gets stressed and barks up and down the fence at people/dogs passing by. So yeah, it's still kind of opaque but it provides us with a little more privacy, which I feel good about.

Upon hearing the neighborly assessment of why certain people might be unhappy with us, I was reminded of the neighborhood talk about a family a block east of us. One family actually moved away because they didn't want to be neighbors with this family any longer. What I heard from multiple people was that there were suspected drug-deals, prostitution, and just general "trashy" behavior. I heard this stuff, thought "Oh wow!" and have ever since just kind of walked past that house with no desire to get to know any of the family who are frequently on the front porch. But what my experience has been? Well, it's been of a busy large family, who loves to decorate for Christmas with big silly decorations which stay up for a good 3 months beyond the holidays. The house is a little worn down, but it's also clear that the family is multi-generational and the house has likely been owned by the same family for a while. The men are often in the back fixing up cars and drinking beer and laughing. There are grandchildren who play in the front, and a couple of dogs who run happily up and down the fence. Other than that, I've experienced nothing. No disturbance, not a lot of cars coming and going, and I'm not entirely sure where the neighbors got the idea that there is any meddling in drugs or prostitution. Anyway, this experience has given me a little perspective, and I think I'll say "hello" next time I walk by. 

My squash plants didn't germinate as well as I'd hoped, so when I saw these volunteer plants all throughout the yard I decided to keep them. They are surely from the squirrels that ate at all my squash last year. They might be some kind of weird hybrid, so I'm excited to see what I get. 

This is out at my job, at the treatment facility. Pictured is about a third of the garden out there, the total garden covers about half an acre. I was worried at the beginning of the spring- it was a constant struggle to get my crew to follow my direction and show up to work duties. But lately it all feels better. It's coming together, and I'm not stressing as much because it's just not worth it. Plus it is a massive garden and will feed them well, even if it is not the exact vision I had for it.

This was a double rainbow that we saw the other night. It was so perfect. I don't think I've ever seen such a clear beautiful rainbow in my life.

Little Asa. He's getting such a personality. He's feisty like his sister. His favorite stuffed animal is there on his lap, his "funky monkey". He speaks in full sentences these days, and is very friendly to strangers, often saying "Hiiiii! I goin fo walk now!" or something like that. So sweet. I can't believe he's going to be two in just a few short weeks. Sigh.

Vera is wonderful. She's thoughtful and artistic and hilarious. Her favorite movie is "Matilda" and she loves Roald Dahl. We finished The BFG together and now I'm thinking she's ready for another. She wants the Fantastic Mr. Fox next. After that I'm thinking I'll start the Little House books with her. I seriously can't wait. We're working on sharing and patience a lot lately, and I can see a really conscious effort from her to do better with these things, which makes my heart just swell. She's always been willful and fiery, but she's also got this really kind and compassionate heart. I love watching the two things come together, to see the ways in which just simply being who she is is both a challenge and a gift. What else? Oh, she's kind of clothing obsessed and changes her outfit at least half a dozen times a day. Yeah. My girl. She often is shy with strangers, but only for about a minute and then she's talking their ears off and putting up four fingers to show them her age. 

Sigh again. I'm completely in love with my kids.


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