Posts Tagged ‘seminary’

Exhale

My friends, I can finally exhale. The class is over, as is my commute down to Pasadena (at least, for now–but who knows what the future holds?).  Although I’m still not feeling great, I’ve been able to settle down into a functional combination of rest and work. Things have been changing inside the home, outside the home, and across the Tehachapi Valley in general.

The weather is finally consistently warm–almost hot–and the hillsides have changed from emerald to a dusty gold. The oak trees dot the hills with their dark green, reassuring presence. Things have turned dry, and it’s the time of year for hot, windy afternoons, snake sightings, and iced tea.

There are many things to do around the homestead these days, and there is never enough daylight or energy to do it all. Robert’s family is coming to stay with us in less than three weeks, and the house has a long way to go before they arrive. It’s been difficult to stay on top of housework with my class and feeling sick lately, so each day begins with a long list of catch-up household chores. And then there’s the outside! Wonderous things are happening, yet sometimes it feels like a bit of a treadmill. Stop running and something’s bound to fall off the track. Between bees, chickens, garden, and overall maintenance, we’re never lacking for something to do. I’ll admit to having an evening or two where I long for the cold, early darkness of winter and nights sitting under a blanket, practicing my fiddle. But everything has a season, and in the midst of a snowstorm I’ll inevitably long for a summer breeze.

Here are some visual updates from the homestead, since a picture tells more than I ever could describe.

The bees are doing great! We have four supers (boxes filled with foundation for comb, pollen, eggs and honey) already!

Our older grape vines (the ones already established, not the ones we just planted this spring), as with most of the things in our garden, are showing little signs of what is to come:

My husband looks quite natural as he rides our mower to get the most ferocious of the weeds in our yard (mustard weed really is viciously reproductive).  We tried tackling it with our push mower, but some things just need to be handled with a more powerful beast. Maybe someday we’ll trade it in for a tractor! 🙂

Finally, we decided to take a much-needed break from everything on the neverending to-do list and take a little day trip up to the southernmost end of the Sequoia National forest, about 3 hours away. The silence and grandeur of these ancient giants helped to put everything in perspective. It was as if they whispered to us about the smallness of our tiny daily emergencies. It was everything I needed, and more.

I hope to continue to update more regularly now that things have slowed down a bit. Thanks for your patience until now; exciting things are beginning to happen!

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Ugh

Hi guys–sorry I haven’t posted! Between a whirlwind trip and back to New Jersey, finishing up the quarter for my exegetical methods class, and feeling sick as a dog, I’ve had a hard time blogging.  Things are poised to calm down in the next week or so, and I’m hoping to go back to daily postings.

For now, I wanted to share with you the progress of our little chickadees. Is it strange to anyone else that they are self-segregating?

Perfectly Formed

This is a piece of burr comb that we recently took out of the hive before we added a second super (which is another box with frames inside it). Burr comb is wax comb that is made in empty spaces–in this case, they had made it when the sugar water ran low and they found the empty space inside the feeder too enticing. As you can see, they had already started putting pollen in some of the comb (the purple and yellow).

What struck me about the comb was how perfect it was. Each little “bee space” was perfectly formed. It was delicate, powerful, and beautiful.

We’re hoping to be able to melt this down a little bit to make a small candle. Not sure if it will work, but I’m hoping to get my candle-making skills up to par soon. I’ll admit that I will be a little sad to melt this down, but it also seems right to recycle it into something that can be used and appreciated. I’ll think of the perfection of bee-work every time I light that candle.

The bees themselves are doing great. Very active, and lots of capped comb last time we looked. In our last inspection, we actually saw the queen (she’s marked with a dot to help us locate her and be extra careful), made sure she was laying eggs, and assessed the overall health of the hive. Everything seems to be going well. I bet the bees are loving all of our wildflowers around here; it’s my guess that very soon we’ll be taking the top feeder off of the hive.  We’ll have a better sense of it this weekend when we do our next inspection.

So many exciting things going on–and in the midst of it, I continue to work hard at seminary. I’m commuting down twice a week for an 8am class, which is tiring. But the class is so exhilarating that the long commute seems worth it. I’m always excited to come home and share the day’s lessons with Rob over dinner. And my professor is intimidatingly brilliant. I feel blessed.

Everything’s a balance, I suppose. I try to balance all of the excitement of the homestead–and the work of it–with school, with preparing for my own work as a speaker and writer, with my health, with the daily chores that are necessary to keep the household going smoothly. It’s not by my own strength that I can do it, either. Thank God for God!

Whirlwind

Like our land in spring, life is moving so fast that it’s sometimes hard to keep up.  The oak leaves are beginning to tint the branches with green. The lilacs are showing their potential, hinting at what is to come. Grass is growing at an incredible rate. We even had a tulip pop up out of nowhere!

The garden is coming to life. We painted the inside of the fence and, weather permitting, will finish the outside this weekend. We need to get that protective coat of paint on so we can secure some hardware cloth to the inside. We’ve seen plenty of rabbits hopping around, and I don’t want our seedlings to become anyone’s dinner anytime soon. We’ve also laid down a thick layer of road gravel along the pathways inside the fence to discourage grass, gophers, and other things that would like access to our garden boxes. Along the outside of the fence we’ve planted all sorts of bee-friendly flowers, laid down mulch, and installed a drip irrigation system. As far as the garden itself, all of the beds have the properly amended soil and drip irrigation lines put in. But we’ve only put kale seedlings into the groud so far (with straw as mulch so it will compost well when we’re done with it). We’re in the midst of hardening off our onions and leeks–which essentially means putting them outside during the day and in the greenhouse at night to get them used to the cold. But we have plenty other things to get into the ground in the next few weeks. The last potential day of frost (May 15) is approaching fast, and I can’t wait.

All in all, things are going really well. The bees are settling in–I’ll have an update on that soon. But the hive looks healthy and active.  The bees are calm and I love seeing them dive in and out of the hive every day. The fruit trees are blossoming, and our berry canes are looking great. I’m learning how much exercise a push mower can provide! There’s always something to do around the homestead, and often we end our weekends exhausted, sore, and satisfied.

As far as school–you can probably guess that it is keeping me pretty busy. But the class itself is amazing; it’s one of those classes that requires you to pick your jaw up off the floor on your way out. I’m blown away by some of the insights that I learn. The work is hard, but manageable. I’m glad that I only took one class this quarter. I feel like trying to balance school, housework, and working the land is a constant juggling act. But things are beginning to come together, and I can see it happening.

Back to my strong cup of coffee, cleaning rag, and homemade all-purpose cleaner. It’s supposed to rain today, so I’m off the hook for my yard duties!

Whew!

The bees are coming, and we’re ready for them.

We spent the weekend putting the finishing touches on the hives and creating some wind-breaks that won’t blow over in our sometimes 75-mph gusts.  We painted the hive a light yellow. The paint is necessary to seal the wood, but it has to be a light color. Dark colors will absorb summer heat, and that’s not good for the bees–they work very hard to keep the hive at a perfect 95 degrees.  Thus, a lighter color makes that job a little easier for the workers who spend their days regulating temperature in the hive.

We’ve added a top feeder, instead of a front-entry feeder (makes it harder for the nectar-substitute to be stolen by other insects/animals). We also added a queen excluder, so the queen won’t be able to get into the super that will have the honey frames (you don’t want eggs in your honey!).  The bees are set to arrive Friday, and we’re waiting with great anticipation.

Also, we’ve finally got a few answers about our poor Sugar, who is still not feeling very well:

Turns out she has a little protozoa infection. We’re going to get medicine for her in the next few days (unfortunately the vet who finally figured it out is 2 hours away in LA), and she will hopefully be as good as new in a week or so.

Finally, I’m immersed in one of the best and hardest classes of my life. I’m translating more Greek and thinking more critically than ever before. My professor is notorious for being an enormously hard grader–so I’m needing to constantly remind myself that I am there to learn, not get letters in a grade book.  But the class has re-awakened that seminary fire in me, and I’m grateful. It makes the commute a little more bearable!

Our seedlings should be in the ground in the next few days or so. I’ll keep you posted.

New Schedule

It’s been a little tough getting used to our new schedule, but hopefully everything will begin to fall into place. Last week was my first week back at school, but with the added 2 1/2 hour commute each way (well, 2 1/2 hours in the morning, 2 hours in the afternoon). I’m doing my best to juggle schoolwork and homestead responsibilities–so far, so good. I’m thankful that I love spending my time with both activities, which helps.

I’m only taking one class this quarter, which means I spend double the amount of time in the car to go to and from schodol than I actually do in class! But this class will be one of the best classes I’ve taken yet. It’s entitled “Exegetical Method and Practice” and is taught by one of the best in the field of New Testament, Dr. Joel Green. Basically, in this class take everything we learned in our year of studying Biblical (also called Koine) Greek and find out how to responsibly apply that knowledge when actually translating the Bible. This takes into account the cultural and historical aspects of Biblical texts, the dialogue of the contemporary culture with such a text, the ways in which to interpret a text based on a genre of a particular Biblical book, and so on. I’m proud to say that I just finished translating my first-ever entire book within the Bible: Paul’s letter to Philemon. Okay, okay, so it’s only 25 verses…still, I’m proud. And those 25 verses took over 5 hours to translate. It’s not as simple as translating from, say, French to English–there is deep nuance to the text, with the added challenge of the inability to talk to any of the original writers about their intent, their inferences, and their overall purpose. In any case, it will prove to be a very, very exciting class.

On the homestead, the weather up here keeps us on our toes. It was in the 70s last week, and this morning we had snow. The threat of frost until mid-May makes planning our garden very difficult. However, we do have a few things started indoors: eggplant, kale, lavendar, rosemary. Hopefully in the years to come we’ll get some UV lights to help us start our seedlings so we can time our planting perfectly. We also hope to finish off the greenhouse before next winter, which will also help extend our growing season. But for now, we work with what we have. My biggest concerns right now include having enough warm days to paint the garden fence so we can put in our last gopher barrier; getting the beehive ready for the arrival of our ladies on April 16th; getting a proper wind barrier for our beehive (and, in truth, our garden as well); figuring out our watering system; and finally, saving enough money to fence the property. I’d love to have chickens this summer, but if it’s not in the cards, then I’ll just have to be patient. We want to do this the right way.

On a final note, prayers for our little Sugar would be greatly appreciated. We’re going on over a month with a very strange gastro-intestinal problem that doesn’t seem to be abating. The vets are baffled, and I’m worried that it might progress to something worse if she doesn’t get some relief soon. 

That’s it from the cold, windy homestead for now.

Knee Day

A couple of years ago St. Patrick’s Day ceased to be a day for green beer and pinching–at least in our family.  March 17, 2008 changed the course of events in our calendar, overwriting St. Patty for the evermore infamous “Knee Day.”

This was the day of my second ACL reconstruction. The final ACL reconstruction, my orthopedic surgeon emphasized. A day that would ensure that I wouldn’t have the recurring pain of bone-on-bone (I have no cartilage or meniscus in that knee, either) or the uncertainty of whether or not my knee would hold together during a fall. The knee reconstruction was also a reconstruction of my future.

Today I’m thinking a lot about my life just two years ago, on Knee Day. Our lives were so different. I hadn’t even started seminary yet; in fact, it was my recovery after the reconstruction that brought me back to theology and study. We didn’t have any intention of moving out of Los Angeles, and backyard chickens were for quirky people who baked their own bread and probably their own granola, too.  Tehachapi? Where was that? And I guarantee that a dog wasn’t anywhere near my husband’s radar.

Today, exactly two years later, I’ve changed the course of my career (or, rather, my vocation) and Rob has changed to a new job that we hope we’ll some day be able to work him out of. We own not only our own home, but the acre and a half that surrounds it. There isn’t the sound of planes or traffic in the morning; rather, there is the silence of a still sunrise…just before a chorus of birds sings its hymn to welcome the day.  I know how to demolish and reconstruct a bathroom. I know how to plant a garden. I’ve had to clean dirt out from under my nails more times that I can count. We’ve expanded our family to include our sweet dog Sugar, and on April 16th we’ll welcome a hive of bees. We’ve planted a cherry tree, an apple tree, an almond tree, asparagus, blueberries, boysenberries, and grapes (syrah, merlot, zinfandel, and chardonnay).  We have lavender seedlings started, and the seeds for our garden are simply waiting until the threat of frost passes soon. We have cows that frequent the hill behind our house. Neighbors always smile and wave when they drive by. We don’t have cable anymore. In fact, we haven’t even unpacked our television.

Life is very different.

The past week or so has been filled with grief, but today I want to focus on the joy. The gratitude of what we do have, rather than the pain of what we lost. I honor that pain, but I need to feel normal again. I need to remember that pain isn’t the sum of this story. It’s only a chapter. And it’s certainly not the final chapter.

Thank you, Knee Day, for reminding me that my life is continually undergoing reconstruction. The recovery can often be painful, but the fruit of the experience is sweet.