Archive for the ‘Plants’ Category

The Buzzzzz

So most of you already know that I recently took up the hobby of apiary this past year.  And with no prior experience and little teaching on the subject it has been quite an adventure with a rather steep learning curve to say the least. My hive swarmed, I was stung several times, and to top it off, I didn’t collect any honey.

This hobby of mine however, has turned into quite the obsession for me, recently perpetuated by the documentary, Vanishing of the Bees (watch it!).  I’m sure most of you have heard of Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD for short, that is, the unexplained vanishing bee populations that have occurred throughout the US for the past several years. But there might be a few things you didn’t know so I’m going to climb on up to my soapbox and preach a little:

– That other countries have experienced a similar phenomenon?

– That the likely culprit stems from systemic pesticides typically used on large-scale commercial moncultures and produced by the company Bayer CropScience?  (Systematic pesticides are contained in the plants tissue and therefore cannot be washed off or removed by peeling the skin off a fruit of vegetable.)

– That little research has been done on the effect systematic pesticides have on multi-generational bee populations and the the EPA accepts research on the subject from the very company that manufactures the chemicals?

– That to begin with pesticides originated from leftover chemicals used in chemical warfare of WWII and re-engineered for use on crops? (The very substances we used to wage war on other humans, was now being ingested through our food. Brilliant. You got to do something with it, right?)

– That one out of every three bites we take is dependent on the pollination of a honeybee. 1 IN 3!!!

I don’t know about you, but this is all very disturbing to me.  The good news is, is that everyone can help in their own way.  Here are some things you can do:

– Watch the movie, Vanishing of the Bees, and educate others by spreading the news.

– Create bee-friendly habitat in your own backyard by planting bee-friendly flowers and providing a source of water for bees.

– Take up apiary

– Minimize the use of pesticides around your home and seek out natural and organic alternatives for dealing with pests.

– Buy local honey. A lot of honey in the US is supplied by China and contains filler ingredients.

– Eat organic fruits and vegetables when possible. People often argue the host cost of organic foods or that they aren’t concerned about the affect of pesticides on their health (ah, a little bit won’t kill me!) but it is important to have a more holistic and global viewpoint. Cheaper, inorganic foods come at a high cost to the overall health of humans and the planet. When you spend your cash, you cast a vote. If you buy at least some organic produce, your purchases, along with those of others, will send a signal to retailers, which will ultimately send a signal to farmers.

– Write to your local representatives and politicians, urging them to help save our bees.

– Sign the PAN (Pesticide Action Network) petition to the EPA.

To help out and do my part, not only will I continue apiary, but I plan on adding some bee-friendly plants to my garden next year and I’ve also decided to donate a portion of the sales from my hand-dyed scarves to various efforts geared at saving the bees. After all, I have them to thank for many of the wonderful plants that I get beautiful colors from!


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Suki's Birthday Morning

Blueberry Picking
Well I think winter is here to stay in the northland.  We finally had some snowfall Halloween weekend and it promptly blew away after two straight days of wind with 55mph gusts (did I mention how miserable that kind of wind is!?)  Anyway, we had a beautiful fall, full of sunshine and color, albeit too short for my liking. There have been so many things to squeeze in and prepare for winter’s coming so it has been quite busy around here.

I’ll recap some of the highlights:

We celebrated Suki’s 2nd birthday on September 6th and her first year in our home shortly thereafter. We woke her up from her morning slumber with too many presents; I think she was a bit overwhelmed.  It was a day of gifts including treats, bones, toys and her favorite squeaky balls.

We enjoyed a visit from Wayne’s mom Kathy and her friend Soni for two weeks in September.  They came to help celebrate the wedding of my brother in-law Randy to his new wife and with this the Jenski family promptly grew in number with the addition of five new nieces and nephews into the Jenski family.

I tucked my bees in for winter which involved a series of steps including regular feedings of sugar water, insulating their homes and relocating adjacent the house.  I’ll post some photos and details later.

We enjoyed lots of foraging and learned to identify quite a few plants and fungus this fall.  A trip to Girdwood for Fungus Fair 2011 gave us a proper introduction to the world of fungus and we even sauteed up our first loot of mushrooms, a variety called “angel wings”.  I learned to dye material with fungus while Wayne learned to propagate oyster mushrooms; he took home a spore filled bag and I took home two hand dyed scarves and a new-found hobby of natural dyeing.  We picked high bush cranberries, wild blueberries and raspberries from our backyard and made up some yummy jams while I proceeded to collect other goodies for various tinctures and dye projects. I also learned about and made some yummy fermented foods which are so very very good for you. More on these adventures to come!

We also celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary with a trip south to Valdez.  Lots of hiking, sightseeing, glaciers, wildlife and time together.  I’ll post pictures of that trip soon too.

Last month we had over 75 people in our house as part of the Palmer Art Council’s underground tour in which Wayne’s plants took center stage.  He also completed a series of botanical illustrations of recently discovered carnivorous plants for a book that was just recently published and is working on three more for another upcoming book.  Our local paper, the Frontiersman is schedule to come over for an interview with him tomorrow morning and he continues giving lectures to classrooms.  So as you can see, he is quite busy with his plant hobby.

I’ve religiously attended belly dancing and yoga class for over a month now and am really starting to improve on the dance front which is really exciting.  And for the record I haven’t cut my hair since JUNE! Working towards a few things on my 30×30 list….

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Mama Musky

Daffodils (top left), Horsetail (top right), Musk Ox Mamas (bottom)

In celebration of Mother’s Day we headed to the Musk Ox farm for their free day celebrating all the new moms and baby musk ox.  There were 11 this year, all named after state capitols…Tallahassee, Madison, Augustus.  They were all huddled up in the corner so we didn’t get a real close look but could tell they were cute.  Enjoyed live music and yummy bbq too!  (Oh, and take note of the mountain in the foreground, that is Lazy which I mentioned in my previous post.  The picnic table must be the first peak on the right.)

Also pictures of the daffodils in our front yard and some horsetail plants sprouting!  Spring is here!

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Birch Tree Tapping and Sap Extraction

It isn’t really the beginning of April but how time sure has flown by!  We’ve had rain, sun, snow, wind, sun and more sun this month and it is beginning to feel and look like spring, oh glorious spring!  You can feel an incredible energy in the air, a vibration of activity and growth as people, animals and plants awaken.  I guess this is why we have winter, it makes us really appreciate the spring.

April 1st, while indeed Fool’s Day, also marked a few anniversaries for Wayne and I.  It marked our sixth year of dating and also the day in which we set off from Boston in 2010 amid a torrential downpour headed South to Philly.  In fact, at this time last year we would have been visiting Wayne’s mom in Cloquet, Minnesota with nearly five weeks to go on the road trip.  I was hoping to get some more road trip blogs done but can’t seem to find memory card; Wayne must have packed it with him.  It is hard to believe it has been a year since we left our old life, our friends, our sunny second-storey flat.  How time does fly!

I think it has been going extra fast because I have been extra busy!  Work has been crazy but good.  (I’ll post more on that later.)  And, quite frankly, I have been a workshop junkie lately.  In the past month I’ve learned about goats, bees, and net zero energy buildings, I’ve tapped birch trees for sap (above photos), and embarked on an 8-week meditation class.  I have also planted two flats of seedlings (with 2+ to go), submitted a project to a design competition, felt firsthand the amazing healing powers of acupuncture, and am just wrapping up a four-week soul-searching session via an amazing book titled “Soul Coaching: 28 days to Discover you Authentic Self“.  What a whirlwind of activity.

There is plenty more on the horizon too!  I’ll keep you posted.

Wayne is off in Venezuela until the 28th having an amazing backpacking adventure in celebration of 30 years on earth and I’m sure he’ll have lots to share upon his return.  I, in the meantime am enjoying some alone time, doing some spring cleaning (inside and out), and feeling alive!

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Mel ❤ plants. Plants ❤ Mel.

Oh the greenness!  What a joy in the middle of winter.  The snow is beautiful and all but lately I have been feeling like it is time to escape to someplace tropical and warm.  Feel the sunshine, put on a tan!  These photos remind me just how great the green of plants can be.

From the very cool greenhouse at the Denver Botanic Gardens that we ventured to on another outing with Tauna and Bryan.  The photo with me in it shows some of my favorite plants….air plants, that simply grow in the air without soil.  They are super fun and easy to care for.  These particular ones were huge! 

Stay posted for more picture from the Gardens….

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Snowscape (Part III)

These pictures just don’t do the beauty of winter justice!  It was sometime between 3:00 and 4:00 when I was out photographing and the color of the sky was just beautiful, casting a warm pink glow on everything.  I tried to capture it in the treeline on the top photo.  And again, another picture of ice crystal seeming to spontaneously grow from the last years yarrow stock.  I never noticed this kind of beauty in Cambridge in the winter.  I think I was always too cold there, life was too fast.

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I enjoyed getting out the other day with my camera while the sun was shining (a rare occurrence)  to take a few picture of the beautiful snowscape just outside my front door.  It has been awfully cold, hovering between -2 and 10 degrees during the day, but all the better to grow snow crystals I suppose because that is exactly what it looks like out there.  Everything covered in delicate white feathery crystals as if to say they are alive, moving, breathing, growing!  So amazing!

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