Saturday, July 20, 2019

Adventures in Buzzzzzzzzzzz-ing


Here recently I saw an ad for the upcoming 4th Annual Honey Expo in Angleton.  No ideal what would be going on but, it sounded interesting.  Today we went adventuring to Angleton.



You know, I have never been to Angleton before today.

“Angleton, founded in 1890, is the county seat of Brazoria County and is considered part of the greater Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan area.  It was named for Mrs. George Angle, the wife of the general manager of the Velasco Terminal Railway. (and nowhere did I find anything about her – the wife with only her husband’s name given) Angleton was originally a trade center for agriculture, devoted primarily to cotton, corn, truck farming, and cattle, and later to rice and soybeans. A bitter rivalry emerged between Angleton and the nearby town of Brazoria for the location of the county seat; Angleton was chosen as the seat in 1896 and rechosen by county-wide election in 1913.”

The Honey Expo was held at the county fairgrounds – inside a large building (with AC thank all the gods).  There were tables set up throughout with vendors selling honey and various honey and bee products.  There were several programs scheduled about beekeeping and using honey (unfortunately, it was so noisy, you couldn’t hear the speakers at all). 



Here’s a couple Did You Know? bee things -

During chillier seasons, worker bees can live for nine months. But in the summer, they rarely last longer than six weeks—they literally work themselves to death.

When aging bees do jobs usually reserved for younger members, their brain stops aging. In fact, their brain ages in reverse.

Honeybees make out faces the same way we do. They take parts—like eyebrows, lips, and ears—and cobble them together to make out the whole face.

One of the first things I saw was this – a sort of “ant farm” for bees.  It’s a teaching tool for children - - - of all ages – I thought it was very cool.



You could buy bee boxes (hives) and swarm collectors.


Honey frames
 

Bee Pollen

Ok – everyone knows what pollen is – the male seed of flowers.  Honey bees collect the pollen. 

And, here’s another odd fact - Bee Pollen can only be synthesized by a worker honey bee. So bee pollen can’t be made in a factory!  And, with all the superfood properties found in bee pollen, there are actually trace elements found in in it that cannot even be identified through modern science.  You know – magic bee stuff. 

It’s full of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and protein.  Interesting.

Beeswax
 

Mead


And, of course, Honey


And how, you ask, do they extract the honey?  A very chatty young man gave us all a demonstration.

First you clean the frame of dead bees
 

Then you remove the wax capping on each little honey hexagon.

Put the frame into an Extractor

And turn the handle.


Result – Honey!
 

And how cool is that!

Just a few honey facts –

Honey never spoils.  It is naturally acidic and low in moisture, making it an inhospitable environment for bacteria.

A typical beehive can produce anywhere from 30 to 100 pounds of honey a year. To produce a single pound of honey, a colony of bees must collect nectar from approximately 2 million flowers and fly over 55,000 miles.

Bees survive the winter by feeding on their honey. 

Honey is medicinal and can be traced back to ancient Mesopotamia. Because it is so inhospitable to bacteria, it was often used as a natural bandage to protect cuts and burns from infection.

And finally, when performing a money spell or other ritual of abundance, anoint your candle with honey to represent bounty, industriousness, and sweetness.  When cooking or baking for those you love, include a spoonful of honey with a brief incantation for lasting sweetness toward each other.

If we are going to continue to eat, drink, and be merry in this world, we need bees.

20 Jul 2019

Friday, July 19, 2019

Ramblings



July is Air-Conditioning Appreciation Month.  Celebrate by staying indoors out of the 100° heat!  Yes, I admit it, I am a spoiled 21st century woman – give me AC!  Of course, I’m thinking it should be Air Conditioning Appreciation Quarter (plus two) for June, July, August, September, and maybe May and October.  Yeah – I know, there are parts of the universe where AC is not a “I need it or I’ll melt into a greasy spot on the floor” priority.  That place is not here. 



Today, July 19, is Flitch Day.  (I know, sounds kinda naughty doesn’t it.)  However it is the day for awarding a flitch (or side) of bacon to married couples who can swear to not having regretted their marriage for a year and a day.  I wonder if it had to be 366 consecutive days or if you can just pick and choose over a period of years.



I haven’t been able to spend much time on the computer over the past several days.  Two sick kitties.  Trips to the vet.  Medicines.  They’re like small children, when they feel bad, they want to sit in my lap.  (Fortunately, I got two new books recently so sitting and reading a lot.)  The cause of the sickness has stymied my vet so we are treating symptoms at this point.  My sister did suggest I check out their food for any recalls.  No, no recalls.  However, I did read several comments from cat owners describing exact same symptoms after eating the same food.  So, I’ve changed that and we’ll see.



I don’t have cable or dish TV.  And, our town doesn’t have a newspaper that recognizes a world outside big W’s city limits, so I don’t always know what’s happening in the world.  Today I was able to get on the computer for more than 5 minutes.  Checked the news feed . . .

Trump's 'Go Back' Rhetoric Is Sign Of A Racially Divisive And Turbulent Year To Come
NPR

Earthquake hits Athens, Greece 
Bloomberg

Refinery Explosions Raise New Warnings About Deadly Chemical 
NPR

and last but not least –

FDA: Big Penis Comes With a Hidden Surprise
“The Food and Drug Administration is advising consumers not to purchase or use Big Penis, a product promoted for sexual enhancement because the capsules secretly contain sildenafil, also known by the brand name Viagra.” 
Gizmodo

I 'X’d' out of the news feed.

My brother is a versatile man.  He has a bunch of interests and recently, one is Beekeeping.  He built himself a bee hive and filled the surrounding area with bee attracting plants.



This year, the hive attracted a swarm of wild bees.



And, recently he collected honey!  He sent jars to my sister and I.  It’s really good honey!



I am tired of summer now.  Anymore, I’ve given up on walking the neighborhood in the early morning hours.  (I try for 1½ to 2 miles per day.)  At 630am it’s already 80° with 85% humidity making it feel like 90°.  At 630 IN THE MORNING.  So, it’s back to the treadmill – borrring but we all do what we have to sometimes. 



Well, I think I’ll ramble into the kitchen and think about lunch.

19 Jul 2019


Thursday, July 18, 2019

SALE -- uh, rummage? jumble? No! Estate – Estate Sale!



It’s ESTATE SALE Thursday!



First of all – if you enjoy going to estate sales and looking at the odd, wonderful, weird but you don’t always know when/where they are located, then this website is for you!


You just put in your zipcode and the distance you are willing to travel and zip, zap, zop estate sales in your area.  I subscribed and they send me emails. 

My sister and I are estate sale experts now.  We can judge within minutes the quality of the (estate vs junk vs ohmigod-I-have-to-get-rid-of-this-stuff) sale.  And, yes, we always look and see, no matter if it’s estate, junk or omg (you just never know what you’ll find).  We never travel to sales toward the city.  However, we have been known to drive along pothole studded dirt roads to see some odd place filled to the ceiling with possible treasures.  Anyway, one popped up in my email yesterday in Bay City which is about 30-ish miles south of us.  And, like sensitive thoroughbred race horses hearing the bell ring, we were off heading out by 9 this morning.  (It didn’t start until 10 and that should have been the first clue.)

Bay City is a nice drive south on Hwy 60.  The “estate sale” was easy to find.  Hmmmmmmm.  Not an estate sale.  Not a junk/junque sale.  Not even a 'ohmigod' sale.  It is a flea market.  Still we’re here, we looked.


School lockers – hmm, somethings never change.

And traffic signs – don’t you know some street is in trouble!

Metal cow heads – actually there were two – a matched set!

 I feel like these are some sort of martial art weapon, maybe??

Rightie-o – giant rusty metal letters

Rhett and Scarlett along with Danny and Sandy

Don’t know, don’t think I want to know.
  

Remember all those times you need an extra arm/hand?

I don’t know why these are – obviously they’re giant rusty metal balls with smaller balls inside.  I just don’t know ‘why’.

So, I’m pretty sure this is a giant hornet nest inside a cage.  Don’t know why.  Just know the nest was $35 by itself.  The cage thing was $65.

Ooookay, old tv or radio tubes – oddish.

There was much, much more.  Everything from broken crockery to rusty metal doorknobs to old doors, windows, and other misc architectural items to signs to huge fishing nets to a big pile of cypress knees to rusty bikes and on and on.  And everything was excessively expensive.  You know, the “burn your fingers if you touch it” expensive.  So, after walking around for a while, we left.

18 Jul 2019

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

And More Oddities



I am occasionally surprised by things I find at my grocery store.  Well, actually, I shop at Walmart – I don’t like our only grocery store.  Anyway – while doing a little shopping, I stopped in front of the jelly/jam/preserves isle.  Did I want any ? ? ?  hmmmm.  (yes, no, maybe).  Then, I saw something new -



According to what I read – “Bacon Jam is a bacon-based relish that is made by slow cooking bacon, onions, garlic, brown sugar, vinegar and spices.” 

A description said “spreadable meat immersed in liquid. It looks a little like the contents of a sink’s garbage disposal. At first taste, it’s sweet, like any fruit jam would be. It has a baby food-texture that ends in little chewy bits of meat. The sweetness subsides and opens up a smoky, savory roundness that eventually lands on a tart aftertaste.”

One man recommended “toasting a sliced baguette and drizzling olive oil on it, then spreading a bit of jam on each piece during a dinner party” yes, of course, I go to/have those all the time.  A couple other suggestions were

On a PB&J (sorry, that sounds just a bit weird to me)
On top of avocado toast
On top of waffles (this sounds sorta doable)
In s’mores (so what – you’d spread it on a graham cracker, add a Hershey’s chocolate square, and then the melted marshmallows??? – ewwwwww gross – tho, truth said, I don’t eat marshmallows – ever - so that may color my perception)
With vegetables
In a grilled cheese (maybe)

Actually, jelly/jam wasn’t on my shopping list at all so I passed it by.

Then I walked through the produce section.  More and more I see unusual fruits (you know, not  just watermelon, cantaloupe, peaches, plums).  Today they had
 
Dragon Fruit!
Now, I’ll bet you think dragon fruit is native to southeast Asia.  You’d be wrong.  It has its origins in Mexico, South and Central America.  I haven’t ever tried it but, after reading all sorts in interesting things, I think I might get one next time I’m at the store.


Dragon Fruit is rich in nutrients and low in calories, may be beneficial for fighting chronic illnesses, improving gut health, and boosting immunity. It is high in fiber as well as various vitamins and minerals including manganese and iron. Health benefits of dragon fruit include its ability to aid in weight loss, control diabetes, improve digestion, lower cholesterol, and boost energy levels. It may also be protective against certain cancers and heart diseases, defend against bacteria and fungi and optimize the overall functioning of the body.  It tastes a bit like a cross between a kiwi and a pear. 

It grows on a type of cactus - Hylocereus Species, common names - Dragon Fruit, Strawberry Pear, Night Blooming Cereus, Queen of the Night.  (I like Queen of the Night best – know why they call it that?  Because, the flowers are showy, fragrant, and only come out at night.)



TaDa!  I have one of those, although mine hasn’t even bloomed since it sat under nasty river water for three days in 2017.  It is, however finally starting to look like a healthy plant again.

Well, the kitties had just discovered that I’m at my desk and there MUST be something up here they both need.

16 Jul 2019


Sunday, July 14, 2019

Once Upon a Time






Storytelling describes the social and cultural activity of sharing stories, sometimes with improvisation, theatrics, or embellishment. Every culture has its own stories or narratives, which are shared as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation or instilling moral values.
  
This seems like a good thing to do on a hot day while the blinds are closed against the heat . . . .

The Spirit of the Whirlwind

TWO men were walking together when they saw a haystack carried away by the wind. The elder man said it was the Spirit of the Whirlwind; but the other would not believe him till they saw a cloud of dust, when they turned their backs to it, and the young man repeated a spell after the old one. When they turned round, they saw an old grey man with a long white beard, a broad flapping coat, and streaming hair, devastating the woods. He took no notice of them, but the elder one cautioned the other not to forget to repeat the spell whenever he saw him. However, he forgot it, and the whirlwind in a fury carried him many miles from home, and ever afterwards persecuted him till he went to his friend and learned the spell again. Next time he saw the whirlwind he was fishing; and on his repeating the spell, the spirit passed him angrily, and a great wave surged up from the river, and wetted the man to the skin. But after that the spirit never reappeared to him, and left him in peace.

wanwavoitë vanwa vangwë quenya
so mote it be


How the Sea became Salt

Our story begins with a poor man who asked his rich brother for help before Christmas, so he could have a meal for him and his wife. His brother gave him a very nice ham, but made him promise to go straight to the Devil in return, being fed up with his brother being poor and asking him for help. The brother agreed, and eventually found the Devil’s shack. He made a deal to trade the ham for a mill that could produce anything and was told by the Devil how to stop the mill and restart it again at will. He returned home and quickly went to work, making any food or other object his heart desired. His brother was furious at this, angry that he had given his brother food, and now he seemed to be richer than him. Once his brother explained the mill, the richer brother offered him a large sum of money to buy it from him, but he never learned how to stop the mill. With the Devil’s mill in his possession, he started using it to make herring and porridge, but he couldn’t stop it and it started flooding the entire town. He returned it to his brother, who forced him to pay even more money, and then went on to become absurdly rich. Eventually, a visiting merchant learned of the amazing abilities of the mill, and set about trying to find a way to get it from its owner, for he envied its abilities. He captained a ship and traveled the seas carrying a cargo of valuable salt. After very difficult negotiations, for the man did not want to give up his mill, the captain was eventually able to buy it for a princely sum. He was worried that the man might want to renege on the deal, for it was a very valuable device, and so he immediately set out on his way. Before he had even reached home, his greed got the better of him, and he immediately set the mill to begin churning out salt. Unfortunately, like the rich brother, he had absolutely no clue how to stop the mill once it started. It quickly sunk his ship, taking him to his death at the bottom of the sea. And so even today, the mill continues to churn out salt and this is the reason why, the sea is full of salt.




14 Jul 2019

Friday, July 12, 2019

Summer’s Dog Days



Sirius rises late in the dark, liquid sky
On summer nights, star of stars,
Orion’s Dog they call it, brightest
Of all, but an evil portent, bringing heat
And fevers to suffering humanity.
                          Homer’s Iliad



I may have mentioned a time or two that it is hot now.  Hot, humid, dry (I know, sounds weird to use humid and dry in the same sentence but we’ve had no rain for a while now and the ground is cracked and the plants are panting).  Officially we are in the Dog Days.  Doesn’t actually have anything to do with dogs of course.  Has to do with the rising of Sirius, the dog star. 

Officially, the Dog Days are 40-days beginning July 3 and ending August 11.  I really wish that means that by August 11, things will begin to cool down.  Well, maybe somewhere but certainly not here in Texas.  We’ll be lucky if it cools down by the end of October!

Just a few odd facts –
Sirius is the brightest star in the sky, other than the sun, of course.
Ancient Greeks and Romans believed Sirius signaled a time when evil was brought to their lands with drought, disease, and discomfort. 
And, according to other thoughts and superstitions you can expect:
1 Bad luck, intense heat, abrupt thunderstorms, fevers, flooding, and a generally more ill-tempered population.  (yeah – ok I believe that)
2 Snakes get meaner during Dog Days
3 From the first time you hear the Cicadas sing, the first frost will be six weeks later.  (Ok – I’ve been hearing Cicadas since the first of June – so it will be cooler by – oh yeah, now – hahahahahahaha)
4 All dogs could go mad.
5 Wounds won't heal, they'll just fester and cause pain
6 Put your right sock on first during the Dog Days or you'll fall and break your leg
7 It's easier to get drunk so there are more drunks during this time of year
8 If the cat eats grass during the Dog Days, it's gonna hail hairballs (the demon kitties are not allowed outside, so no eating grass for them)
9 Cars don't drive as good because gasoline gets thick during the Dog Days

I’m sure your wondering why I mentioned the Dog Days.  It’s because it too damn hot to go outside for more then a few minutes.  And, therefore, I’ve been a bit of a slug lately. 

Well – not a complete slug.  I do go out in the mornings to walk the neighborhood.  My goal is 1½ miles; two miles if it’s early enough.  By early enough, before 730am.  After 8am, it’s too damn hot.  I have seen some interesting things, like –


This gorgeous huge Oak Tree.
I keep wondering how I can move
it to my yard without anyone noticing!

I miss having Banana Trees

This little guy was crawling
through the Staghorn Fern.
It’s about an inch long.

With it being so hot, I’ve stayed inside and done a lot of reading lately.  One such book is a non-fiction historical type. 

Queens of the Conquest
England's Medieval Queens Book One
by Alison Weir

It’s about the first Norman Queens –

Matilda of Flanders, wife of William (the Conqueror, the first Norman king).  She was the mother of ten children all of whom survived to adulthood, including two kings, William II and Henry I.  She was queen from 25 Dec 1066 – 2 Nov 1083.   

Matilda of Scotland, wife of Henry I (son of William).  She was "a women of exceptional holiness and in her own character exempt from all evil influence."

Empress Maud, daughter of Henry I and England’s first female ruler.  She spent 18 years fighting for the throne during the civil war known as “The Anarchy” 1135-1153. 

Eleanor of Aquitaine who was queen consort of Louie VII of France (obtained an annulment) and then queen of England with Henry II (son of Maude and great grandson to William).  She was the mother of  the Plantagenet dynasty.  And, she led more than one revolt against Henry II for control of the throne with result being her imprisonment for 18 years.

It was an interesting book though, I think I’m done with “strictly historical” reading for a while.  The men of those times just irritated the puddin’ right out of me!

The demon kitties are doing well.  They like to watch out the front window.


 Oooo Birdies!

Wahoo!  I finally finished my most recent major sewing project.  I started on it many, many months ago.  Originally, the designer had it all one color.  But since I seldom pay attention to what someone else does, I added some color throughout.  Gold, red, blue, green.



It’s hard to tell but the cats are each a different color and there are small beaded sections throughout.



Now, I plan to dye the thing.  Yes, yes, I should have dyed the fabric BEFORE I started but . . . . I didn’t.  So, I am trying my hand at tea dying.  I’ll let you know how it turns out!

One last thing – I think someone needs to take Mr. Trump’s phone away from him.  How sad, tacky, and unpresidential to publicly tweet about England’s ambassador to the US, Kim Darroch – as "wacky," "incompetent" and a "very stupid guy."  It seems to me that with the resignation of yet another cabinet member, the Trump administration is "inept" and "chaotic." 

12 Jul 2019

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Art: Ceramics, Glass, Jewelry, Mixed Media, Painting, Wood, Sculpt …


It is so hard to sit down at the computer these days.  Seems like every time I do, two pairs of gray ears pop up and the demon kitties come running.  One wants to sit on the keyboard, one wants to try to unplug every cord, one wants to climb in the trash can, one wants to walk along the shelf above my desk and knock everything over.  Yes, there are only two of them, however, seems like three-times as many when I’m trying to do anything! 

Yesterday Ellen and I drove over to Rockport to the


We went for the first time, last year.  It was very impressive.  So, we started watching for dates for this year.  We made our plans to go Saturday.  There were a few challenges.

It takes roughly 2 hours to get to Rockport anyway you go.  Ellen and I wanted to take the scenic highway along the coast.  Takes a whopping 9 minutes longer but, that’s what we wanted.  I set the map directions on my phone; pressed start.  

So, and I know this NOW because I paid attention coming back, you take Hwy 59S to Hwy 71.  Then a couple farm roads and ultimately land on Hwy 35 going south and west.  Lots of  planted farm land, lots of pretty ocean views, not much traffic.  

About the time we got to El Campo, Siri announced “You can save 9 minutes!” and changed the directions.  Aarrgghhh!  I don’t like the phone (or any inanimate and many living things) to tell me what to do.  If you’re paying attention and holding the phone, you can tell her NO, argue a few minutes and eventually she'll give up and go the way you want.  However, I was driving – and - we took Hwy 59 most of the way with traffic, trucks, and no nice views.  I fumed the whole way.  Okay, okay – in with the good air; out with the bad.

Got to Rockport.  Found a parking place. Walked over to the art festival.  So, if you live anywhere around here you know, yesterday was hot, humid, no cloud cover, minimal breeze, lots of sun, and HOT.  That’s fine – we expected this.

Now, and this is a personal “rule” for me, I generally don’t go to art festivals that have an entry fee.  Primarily because, I go with a specific amount of $$ to spend and I’d rather spend it on something I want and that benefits the artists and/or food vendors.  This show is held outside.  I might feel differently if the show was held in a large building with AC.  The artists are located under canopies outside in the heat.  They are slap-dash up against one another so if it’s crowded, you sort of shuffle from booth to booth.  The cost is pricey - $10.  Alright – we expected this also.  What we didn’t expect was to get there just a few minutes after it opened and find the place jam-packed-full of people.  When I said “shuffle from booth to booth” I was not kidding.  Just trying to get in the line going one way or another was hard (like 8am traffic in Houston!). 

There was good, bad and just odd.  Art is a very personal thing so I'm not going to denote good from bad, just some of the ones I really liked -
  

Stacy Gresell
Encaustic and mixed media

 Amy Lancaster
Raku Pottery

Letty Tijerina
Painted Tiles

Cindy Gentry
Lampwork Glass

Bill Killian
Wood Sculpture

Kathy Scofield
Coastal Art

Barbara Francis
Pottery

Christopher Alan Smith
Hand Drawn Maps

Ann Feldmeir
Unique Earthware Ceramics

Aly Winningham
Mosaics

Rita Marie Ross
Woven Metal Sculpture

I know, I know – I need to quit soon.  This is one of the odd ones and I want one for my yard!  I love it! 

Unfortunately, I didn’t get the artist’s name.

These all make me smile!

 SD Meadows
Folk Art

There were more food vendors this year.  And, it you go, plan to share lunch with someone – the amounts are huge!

We left Rockport around 130-ish for the drive back to big W.  And, this time, we took the coast road.  Nice and pretty drive back.

7 Jul 2019