Greetings from Seattle

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Do You have Bees In Your Refrigerator?

I do. 
 In fact we have bees from two sources: Crown Bees, from whom we purchased bees that came in the mail, and Rent-a-Bees, from whom we are renting bees and picked them up on Saturday.

They look like this - fully developed but still in their cocoons, staying chilled until it is warm enough to put them outside. 

Tom has tried keeping Mason Bees before, with limited success. Mason bees are non-social, or non-hive, bees that are native, unlike honey bees.  They are gentle, non-aggressive, and great at pollinating. 

When it is warm enough and there is enough blooming to provide pollen, Tom will begin to release them.  They will be put out on the houses where they will come back to lay eggs. 

This is the house for the purchased bees. Whatever eggs are laid here in these tubes with straw liners will be harvested by Tom and wintered over again in our refrigerator.  
 Hopefully the placement will be right this year, on an east wall with morning sun and afternoon shade. 
 The rented bees came with this block of wooden "tubes". If you look closely you will see that the block can be opened up and the cocoons can be harvested and the blocks reused. These bees will be returned to the company from which we rented the starter bees. 
That bag of "mud" is clay that will be used to line a hole in the ground near the bee houses. The bees search for pollen, return to the house, crawl into a tube, lay an egg and then leave a pollen plug. The pollen plug supplies food for the developing bee. When a tube is full the bees make a mud plug to cap it. Since we have very sandy soil, the bag of clay supplies better mud for plugging the tubes. 

This is what a mature Mason Bee looks like. All those hairs are pollen catchers, so as the bees go from flower to flower, they do a great job of spreading pollen. 
The bees live for about two months. During that time it is hoped that they will have spread lots of pollen and laid lots of eggs to grow into next year's busy bees. 

Tom hopes this year he will be a better bee manager, and our fruit trees will grow lots of fruit. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Busy Weekend

I'm just getting around to posting about the weekend, because Monday was also busy.

Starbucks has Spring Cups! The first ever. And No, they ARE NOT Easter cups. There are three colors - blue, green and yellow,  some have hand drawn designs, and some are blank so you can draw your own. 

I know about the Starbucks cups because we stopped at a Starbucks near the stadium on Sunday, but first I have to back up to Saturday. 

We picked up the grand kids because Jill was in the mountains again. It was another rainy day. We took them to Furney's Nursery so Tom could get his bees and some mud. I'll have to explain the bees and the mud on another post.

The kids enjoyed the pancake breakfast at Furney's. 
Point a camera at them and they get goofy. 

 Isaac thought we should buy a banana tree. 
Then we went to the mall to check out some "important stuff". It gave us a chance to walk around inside since outside was WET!

We took them home, fed them lunch, and then deposited them back at their house because we had a memorial service to go to. 
My Aunt Evelyn, my mother's sister, died just before Christmas. We celebrated her life on Saturday. I had time to be with people close to me. In this photo are my cousin Dan, my sister Laurie, my cousin Kris, Tom, me, and my sister Ilene. It was Kris and Dan who lost their mother to complications of dementia. 

I didn't take photos, but I did visit with my brother Hank too, my  Aunt Jeanne and Uncle Don, and some friends from way back in my childhood. After the service and reception and visiting at Kris's home, we met my cousin Susan and her husband Jim for dinner and conversation in Bellevue. Sorry, no photos. I just enjoyed myself. 

It was late by the time we settled in back at home.

The view of the city from the light rail.
Sunday was sunny! We went for our walk, read the paper, had a light lunch and then geared up to go into the city early to have coffee, walk around, then meet up in Occidental Park for the March to the Match. It was the Sounders season home opener. 

 We sang and chanted our way to the stadium.

The Sounders flags were flying. 

It took a while for the 46,500 fans to get in to the stadium. The Sound Wave band plays us in. 

Last season, which ended just a little over two months ago, the Sounders won the MLS Cup. The cup was presented to the fans and the championship banner was unfurled in the stadium. 

 Jill moved her seats up from the 100 level to the 300 level this year, near where we sit. Irene found us. 

After the National Anthem, the tifo we had worked on during those cold evenings at the stadium in February was unfurled. 
The "Champions" banner and the curtain above it are 100 feet wide. That's what I helped sew together. It all started out as bolts of 45 in wide white fabric. Lots of seams later, lots of drawing and painting hours, and this is the result. The gold star in the middle of the card section is earned by being champions. The team now wears it on their uniforms. 
 And we won! We stopped the NY Red Bulls from setting a new regular season unbeaten streak record. 
 It was still light when we left the stadium about 6:30. We got back on the train, back to our car and went out to dinner.
We got back home just in time to watch "Madame Secretary" on TV, one of our favorite shows. 

Today, the first day of Spring, was mostly sunny and dry. We went for our walk and then worked in the yard.  There's still lots to do out there, but the rain has come back this evening. We'll be dodging showers this week to get any more done. 

Maybe things will actually start to bloom!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Change Happens

We knew when our next door neighbor of 40 years moved into assisted living several years ago that there would be changes. A contractor bought the property and rented out Maxine's old house.  It is a tear down really, but several tenants have lived there since. The current ones have junk piled in their back yard. 

When the proposal for development was posted on the property, we were unhappy to see that the plan was to develop two lots behind the house, but leave the old house in place. This is a lot 300 feet deep and borders our driveway and one side of our property.  We knew there would be several houses built on it and were hoping they would tear down the old one and build three new ones.  

Maxine and Leroy, the original owners, were very good neighbors, and were very conscientious about keeping their lovely arborvitae hedge trimmed and cared for. It has been in place along the 300 foot property line for the 40 years we have lived here.

Now it is gone.

When I went out to get the newspaper this morning, workmen were cutting the hedge and using heavy equipment to start clearing the lot. 
 Right next to the fence was a big clump of Crocosmia Lucifer. I knew it would just be ripped out, so I asked if I could have some of the bulbs,
 They used the digger to lift the clump  and set it gently over the fence.

 Tom spent the morning at Jill's house supervising her on going remodeling project. Floor covering were installed today. I went for my walk and did my exercises and stayed caught up on the news.

This afternoon we got out into the yard to do some work. As you can see, it is not raining! 

I had company.
 I could finally get the roses pruned. The tete-a-tete daffodils have finally come into bloom. Everything is late this year. 

Now the roses are pruned, and the hedge is gone. A silt fence has been put in place.
 After pruning the roses, I tackled that clump of croscomia bulbs. It was massive, and my hands hurt now from prying it apart. The result is half of a garden bin full of bulbs to plant. 

 Tom got the full moon maple in the front of the house pruned, a big job too. 
 I think I'll plant some of the crocosmia up on the wall. It will be full sun now, and what we can now see is ugly. 
The hummingbirds will love them. 
The digger is still working next door, clanking away. We hear that building will start in the fall, after the site preparation.

We are trying to be resigned to it all. Change happens. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

A Whidbey Weekend

A mattress set was being delivered to the cabin this weekend, and since we had not been there for a while, we decided we would be the ones to be there and spend the weekend on Whidbey Island.
We also hoped to get some gardening done. We knew we would have a lot of weeding to do. Fitting it in between the rain showers and waves of steady rain was the trick. 
We had just got started Saturday morning when the rain started, so we just kept going. We gave up after about an hour and a half, and managed to finish up Sunday morning without rain. We got a lot of trimming and cleaning out done. 
Friday afternoon we took advantage of a break in the rain to get in a four mile walk. 
Things looked brighter over there in Seattle, but the clouds hung heavy over Useless Bay.

Jill and the kids decided to come up Saturday and join us for an overnight. We all watched the Sounders match at 4:00 Saturday afternoon. Our team came from behind to pull out a draw in the last seconds. Yay!

There was even a ray or two of sunshine on Saturday afternoon.

After dinner we spent the evening playing games. 

They left about 1:00 Sunday afternoon. We did some cleaning up and enjoyed some quiet time.  I had time for another short walk, in light rain. A heron kept watch over the lagoon. 

A marsh hawk tried to hide from me in a pine in the front yard of a cabin. 
And these swelling cherry tree buds reminded me that spring is around the corner, even if the weather gods don't seem to know it. 

The daylight lasted longer today, but it didn't matter here, with steady rain all day and on into the evening. We cleaned house and did laundry here at home today, and I went grocery shopping, did my half hour of physical therapy exercise, and spent 50 minutes on the stationary bike. 

Tomorrow I might have to find another project to work on. It doesn't look like it will be gardening weather here any time soon.