Motivational Monday….Act X 2

Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does! — William James

…what we do today, right now, will have an accumulated effect on all our tomorrows….Alexandra Stoddard

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

Steve’s Bees….A lesson in backyard beekeeping!

I would venture to say that most people have a hobby or two…something that you enjoy when you’re not working…right??

Well, one of my neighbors, Steve, decided to take up a different kind of hobby….bee-keeping….quite by accident, about 20 years ago. It all started with a swarm of bees at the golf course he owns. Nobody wanted to go near it, but the branch it was on was near a wash rack that they needed to clean off their equipment at the end of the day. Steve and one of his employees put a big cardboard box under the branch where the hive was, cut the branch and the ball of bees dropped into the box. The bees were very quiet. They sealed it up, cut a little triangular hole so the bees could go in and out and put it in the corner of the maintenance yard.  A few months went by and one of the workers told him he needed to come and see it. The box was bursting and he realized it was filled with honey. He eventually got a wooden bee box and the rest, as they say, is history.

What started as a curiosity has turned into seven colonies, which, he says, is a fairly small number for a bee keeper. So, about a month ago a few of us were out chatting in the neighborhood and he was in his garage getting ready to “harvest” some of the honey. I had to see what it was all about and ask a bunch of questions. Here are some pics of the process…

First they collect the honeycombs, sliding them out of the hive (with Maggie, Steve’s wife)

Then they scrape them with a “hot knife” to strip the wax and expose the honey.

….and then he spins them in a machine that sucks the honey from the hives & then transfers it to a bucket.

…then it’s time to bottle the delicious bee creation…

….slave labor….mom and sister

Here’s some fascinating information that Steve shared with me about bee keeping….

  • They only harvest honey twice a year, once after winter and then early to mid-summer. You don’t harvest in winter because the bees use the honey as food until plants start to flower in the Spring.
  • After harvesting, most of the wax honey comb remains in the frames. They reinstall those frames in the hives, so the bees can start refilling the honey comb with honey instead of having to make all the new honey comb.
  • Honey lasts forever and never spoils. It has even been found in Egyptian tombs.
  • Eating local honey helps with allergies.
  • Burning candles made of bees wax purifies the air.
  • Bee stings have been used to treat joint pain similar to a cortisone shot and has also been used to help treat the symptoms of MS and arthritis.
  • Bees create a new queen by selecting a bee larva and feeding it royal jelly.
  • After a queen bee is born it takes a mating flight and drone (male) bees fly after her and impregnate her. She will take other mating flights throughout her young life.
  • If a hive gets too big, they will create another queen and split off to form a new colony.
  • When you see a ball or swarm of bees, like the original one Steve and his employees found, they are usually just resting and protecting their new queen until they find a new home. Scout bees fly out and find potential new homes. They fly back to the hive, do a little waggle dance and tell all the bees about the new home and then it’s “follow me!!” to the new hive location.
  • Bees communicate by pheromones and dancing. The waggle dance tells the quality of location, distance and direction of the potential new home.

So what’s it like inside the honey bee hive??

  • There are 20-60 thousand bees in an active hice
  • Worker bees live 4-7 weeks
  • Drone bees live until they mate…they are then pushed out of the hive before the winter to conserve food (HARSH!)
  • Queen bees live 3-5 years
  • The bee larva is called a brood
  • A hive contains one queen, a few hundred drones and lots of worker bees. The queen tells the worker bees what they need to do. Besides foraging, they also sound alarms when the hive is in danger and they protect the entrance of the hive from instruders.

Not only does Steve harvest the delicious honey (not like any you’ve tasted from the store), but he and his wife, Maggie, harvest the wax caps that have been scraped away from the comb to release the honey and make candles, body bars and lip balms. They’ve even made medicinal salves and lotions.

….and that’s your education in backyard bee-keeping! As I said, fascinating!!

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

A Visit to the Whitney Museum

the iconic American Gothic

I’ve always loved visiting Austin and Kate in NY two to three times a year…to see them and take advantage of their proximity to Manhattan. Since baby Jude was born back in December I go visit them much more often to hug and spend time with them….and hopefully give A&K a night or two off from their parental duties. I’ve been pretty successful in going every two months since she was born (okay, I’ve been 4 times, but who’s counting?) and I hope I can continue as time goes on…I already have my July and October plans in the works. I’d be visiting them if they lived in the middle of nowhere…but they don’t…so I try to take advantage of all that NYC & Brooklyn have to offer by spending at least half a day going to a museum, play or just hanging out in my favorite city.

I happened to read in the NY Times that there was an exhibit of artist Grant Wood’s work at The Whitney Museum of American Art. You know him as the guy who did the iconic painting, American Gothic. I’ve also wanted to stop for coffee at The Laughing Man since seeing Hugh Jackman talk about it, and his foundation on the Sunday Morning Show. It’s just a tiny coffee shop in Tribeca with a little outdoor seating area (there’s another larger one on North End Ave), but I was going over that way, so thought I’d stop for a morning cup and a croissant. I had the turmeric latte and it was delish…and the weather was so gorgeous that I continued walking  up the west side to The Whitney.

It moved to this much more beautiful building, in my opinion, on the Hudson in May of 2015, from it’s older uglier building on 75th & Madison on the Upper East Side. This was my first visit!

I was so pleasantly surprised by the artwork of Grant Wood. American Gothic seems a bit serious, with somewhat muted colors, but I discovered that so much of his artwork is whimsical, with bright colors, polka dots and patterns. I loved it! Here’s a sample…

The detail, color and whimsy were so refreshing…and still so bright after all these years!

I was also fortunate enough to see some works by Edward Hopper, depictions of  scenes from his hometown, Nyack, NY & some Americana….

…and one of my favorites…a beautiful, colorful, piece by Henry Koerner called Mirror of Life. As you walk by, at first glance it looks kind of fun, colorful and silly, but looking more closely it is a depiction of his life. He was Jewish, born in Vienna, fled to Italy and then ultimately America, finding out later that his parents, who remained in Vienna during WWII perished in concentration camps.

I heard some people talking about these next “works of art” dismissing them, because…. REALLY??? Okay, anyone could probably do this, but, as a traveler, I loved what these two displays evoked…traveling, vintage luggage and a life of adventure….

I so want some of these pieces!!

Lastly, I have to mention that The Whitney’s location is great, at the base of the high-lineright on the Hudson with beautiful floor to ceiling windows on couple of the floors. I decided to have a quick bite for lunch before heading back to Brooklyn and opted for the 8th floor Studio Cafe  (a Danny Meyer restaurant)..with, again, beautiful view of the Hudson. I opted for the popcorn chicken with the herbed buttermilk…basically a really good ranch dressing…and it was soooo good. I happened to have tasted the, much hyped, fried chicken strips from David Chang’s place, FUKU the day before at EEEEEatsCon in LA and was not impressed at all. The popcorn chicken at The Whitney was so much better, crunchy, with the perfect amount of spice. I’m looking forward to going back some time at sunset, to enjoy a glass of wine, some of these delectable snacks and the beautiful view.

I still had about half an hour to walk along the high line, taking in the view, the ambiance and reading my book. I enjoyed the Whitney so much that I became a member and can go for free, avoiding the lines, whenever I’m in NY…with reciprocal benefits at a few other museums around the country. YAY!!! I’m looking forward to whatever their next exhibit might be!!

….and then I got to go back to Brooklyn and pick up this adorable little girl from daycare!!

…then pizza Monday on a Brooklyn rooftop with these awesome people…

….another great NY adventure with the people I love!

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

Motivational Monday…No Regrets

“The only thing people regret is that they didn’t live boldly enough, that they didn’t invest enough heart, didn’t love enough. Nothing else really counts at all.” — Ted Hughes

I’m doing my best to live up to this ethos, with a little help from these peeps!
….how about you?

….and, unrelated, I just love the colors & composition in this pic!

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

Motivational Monday…Powerful

We celebrate Memorial Day in memory of those who’ve lost their lives fighting for our country….may they never be forgotten.

I’d also like to share this powerful, amazing commencement speech given by Abby Wambach at the Barnard College. (thanks to my cousin, Beth, for sharing it with me) It’s a bit long, but worth the time to listen.

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

One Week, Two trips & A Lighthouse Discovery…Part II

a gorgeous walk along Monterey Bay…complete with baby seal sitings

So I got back from San Francisco late on Wednesday night, went to work on Thursday and got up early Friday to head up to my sister’s for the annual drive up the coast for the Big Sur Marathon weekend. I don’t think I’ve mentioned how incredibly understanding and generous my co-worker, Monica, is about all my travel. I couldn’t do it without her understanding of my wanderlust and the need to frequently see my son, daughter-in-law and grand-daughter in NY. I’m a pretty fast and efficient worker when I’m there, so she knows I’ll get caught up when I’m back, but it can be stressful when your in the attendance office of a high school working solo! Best job and best co-worker ever!!

but I digress….back to Big Sur! I’ve posted many times about our adventures in Big Sur, but it basically comes down to a weekend in one of the most beautiful places on earth, with fun conversation, lots of laughs and incredible hospitality from our hosts. Hwy 1 is still closed at Ragged Point, so we opted for the 5 Fwy and over through Salinas this time….not as pretty, but we still made it down to Nepenthe for lunch. Here are a few pics…and then it’s on to the lighthouse!

Hwy 1 road closure didn’t stop us from making our annual stop at Nepenthe for their yummy fries…and a glass of wine of course.
Can’t beat that view at Nepenthe

We arrive mid-day Friday and have all day Saturday to shop, relax, get our race packets and enjoy all that Monterey and Carmel have to offer. We’ve been coming up here off and on since 1995 and I’m embarrassed to say that I just discovered Point Pinos Lighthouse, right there in Pacific Grove! What?!!! Where have I been, why haven’t I been paying attention? I love lighthouses…in case you didn’t know….and I try to seek them out whenever I’m traveling on a coastline.

Point Pinos is the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the West Coast, opening in February 1855. Did you know that each lighthouse had it’s own “signature” intervals of flashes….alternating short and long bursts…. to identify each one so the ships would know where they were. Of course, now most ships have GPS and many lighthouses have been closed permanently. The Point Pinos Lighthouse was transferred from the Coast Guard to the City of Pacific Grove in 2006 with ongoing restorations today. It’s a beauty!!

one of the earlier lights on display
I wouldn’t mind being the lighthouse keeper with this view!
the winding staircase
the view from the kitchen out to the beautiful gardens & cypress trees beyond

Sunday was race day and we’ve had every different kind of weather over the years, but this year was a beauty (even if there was a little bit of light drizzle later in the morning)!

Monastery Beach…kind of like going to church, right?? the beach church!
…after the race. They did 7.4 miles of running…I did 3.1 miles of walking…on gorgeous Hwy 1
..the racers and the dogs and the view (missing Connie, our photographer, in this pic)

….another amazing weekend on the coast, with good friends, good food, lots of laughs….and a beautiful lighthouse!

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

One Week, Two trips…and a Lighthouse Discovery

I’ve been signed up for “alert” emails from various airlines and travel websites for quite some time…and every once in awhile there’s an amazing deal I just can’t pass up! (okay…maybe that happens a lot?) One was a few months ago on Southwest Airlines to San Francisco for $58 RT ! The only catch is that you have to fly on Tuesday or Wednesday…no problem. I booked the flights, took two days off of work and headed up for a quick getaway.
I used to live in SF and have been more times than I can count, but each time I go I try to explore an area a little more in depth…you know when you live somewhere you don’t tend to go to the touristy/popular places! It’s just fun to have a quick change of scenery to re-energize…no matter where it is!
So, I headed up there a couple of weeks ago and decided I’d stay near Golden Gate Park and spend my time there and in the Marina district. I arrived just in time for lunch and had to go to my favorite, BurmaSuperstar…that I’ve mentioned every time I’ve posted about SF. Getting there from my hotel looked like a beautiful walk through the Presidio and it was only 2.1 miles. What I didn’t quite realize was the steep incline of the hills involved from the bottom of the Presidio up to Clement St….but I did it. The walk through the Presidio was gorgeous and the smell was heavenly through the rustling trees.
this wasn’t even the top of the stair climb!
Spent the afternoon just wandering and then walked over to a place I’ve been meaning to try, Bar Crenn…since seeing the Chef/owner Dominique Crenn on Chef’s Table (I’d highly recommend this series on Netflix) . It is a sister restaurant/bar to Atelier Crenn, which was the one featured on Chef’s Table….and which is $335 for her multi course tasting menu…yikes! She also has the more affordable, but still expensive, Petite Crenn, $95 for her tasting menu….hence the reason I chose Bar Crenn.
The ambiance and decor at Bar Crenn was just what you’d expect from a little French hideaway. It was cozily dark, with gorgeous chandeliers and comfy seating areas, as well as the bar. I usually just like to get a glass of wine and something to nibble on because, first of all, it’s expensive, but also because I’m there to enjoy the experience and let the warmth of the place envelope me in a warm hug. That’s how I felt about Bar Crenn. One of my favorite French foods is pâté, so I opted for the pâté en croûte, and it didn’t disappoint. My mouth is watering just writing about it. After a quick bite, I walked over to browse the adorable shops on Chestnut and decided to see the movie I Feel Pretty, with Amy Schumer at the Marina Theater….hilarious, with a great message at the same time. Your confidence, the way you look and feel, is all in your mind and up to you to portray to the world!
Wednesday was wandering through the park, enjoying the botanical garden, blooming trees, a windmill, lunch looking out at the ocean, reading on a bench…and just enjoying all the beauty Golden Gate Park has to offer.
I planned on going to the California Academy of Sciences, but didn’t do my diligent homework and when I got there was shocked to find out it’s $35.95 to get in! Okay, granted, it’s three museums (planetarium/aquarium/natural history), but I just wanted to go to the Steinhart Aquarium and see the underwater coral dive and the penguin feeding. Even the MET in NY is only $25.00. It seems to me they’d make more money by separating them into three different admissions…but what do I know?!
It was a gorgeous day, so instead of the aquarium, I decided to take the bus down to the Marina Green, where my dad’s memorial bench is located. I sat on the bench and read my book with a gorgeous view of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate bridge. I then meandered back to the very cool Presidio Social Club , an old military barracks erected in 1903 converted to a restaurant, for a glass of wine before heading to the airport. The end of a fun 36 hour getaway!
Next up…Big Sur and discovering a new lighthouse…..stay tuned

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

Let’s talk about Depression

I wish I could show you, when you are lonely or in darkness, the astonishing light of your own being….Hafiz

My daughter was diagnosed with depression in ninth grade…although the symptoms started in middle school (she actually says elementary school)…but they definitely escalated as she got older. Up until that point in my life I didn’t really know pain…not the pain that she had endured silently…or the pain of parenting someone with depression. As a parent you want to take the pain away, kiss it and make it all better. With depression it’s not that easy…for you, but mostly for your child…in fact, it’s really, really hard. When I think back on that time now I’m not sure if some of it wasn’t puberty and hormones, but does it really matter now? Here’s a glimpse of our journey through depression…from my perspective.

When she was in ninth grade, while we were away on a trip, she reached out to my dear friend and asked if she could talk. My friend came over and told her she would listen and chat with her, but that my daughter would have to tell me when we got home…which she did. I will forever be thankful to that special friend. This started a long journey of discovery…for both me and the was-band, but more importantly for her. As much as I wanted to go inside her and take away the pain, I could only stand by and support her as she navigated some dark thoughts and feelings.

She went to some great doctors and therapists (who helped me too…to be a better parent for her), she was put on medication and all of it was making a difference. Things seemed to be going well, although you never stop worrying and hope everything is okay….then junior year of high school happened.

As we lie asleep, she decided that life at that time was too much for her…and she took 16 Advil. Thank g-d she texted a friend, who insisted she hand the phone to us. She came into our dark room and it took us awhile to realize why she was handing us her phone. Obviously, we jumped out of bed and drove to the emergency room immediately. We waited for what seemed like forever…I kept saying “Don’t you need to get them out of her! You’re wasting time!” What I didn’t know is that they don’t “pump your stomach” anymore, they give you charcoal to ingest, which absorbs whatever toxin is in you. It was painful to watch her drink charcoal…gagging as she swallowed and me insisting that she finish all of it…her mouth turning black. I was trying to stay calm through the tears and talk her through it so she’d finish it all. The doctor came in, asked her a lot of questions and deemed her “safe” to go home, but to check in with her doctors tomorrow.

How weird is that? Your daughter just tried to kill herself and “you can go home!” like it was a routine trip to the emergency room. My life as her parent would take on a new focus. Again, I wanted to fix it, but have come to realize that the only person who can truly make it better is the person with depression. I printed out a list of all the people that would miss her if she wasn’t on this planet and affixed it to her visor in her car. A daily reminder of the people that love her. I reached out to family and friends for support and I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have done it without them. It takes a village!

I’ll try to fast forward from this point to now….
The psychiatrist switched up her medications a bit and eventually she was back on an even keel..but the worry is always in the back of your mind. She decided on a college in NY, 3000 miles away, and that was a scary thought for me. I had a conversation with her that basically told her that she was the only one who could manage her depression. It had to be her choice to find a therapist at college and continue the work she had started here. It was time to step back and let her be in charge of her health, and life.

I’m so thankful that she found an amazing partner, now husband, in her freshman year of college. It does take a little pressure off, knowing that someone is looking out for your little girl when you’re not there. She actually got some great therapy from a “brother” (kind of like a priest?) at her school. She really connected with him and he even did a thing called  EMDR (eye movement and desensitization and reprocessing) that seemed to really help. All was good, until junior year of college, when she called me to say she had called her psychiatrist and changed her medication “cocktail”….because she had been having “bad thoughts”, which is what she always called her dark moments of suicide. Again, thanks to her boyfriend, now husband, she got through it.

After college she just started forgetting to take her meds and, eventually, weened herself off of them and stopped taking them completely…definitely not the recommended route, but it worked for her. Things were going well! She graduated, she & her boyfriend got jobs, moved in together and eventually married in 2015. All was right in her world!

….and then she recently had a baby. She had discussed her concern about postpartum depression with her doctor and was assured that they would keep an eye on her after she had the baby. She left the hospital seemingly happy to be a new parent. I didn’t mention that she always seems happy…even back in her junior year of high school and college…but she’s a good faker. I think part of it comes from not wanting to burden anyone and really wanting to be happy…and thinking that there’s something wrong when you have this new baby in your life. Let’s just squash that! Being a new parent is REALLY hard and those new babies don’t give you much feedback in those first months. Sure, they’re adorable, but it’s still very hard being a new parent. There were some really tough days where I was very worried about her and the welfare of the baby…but she had an incredibly patient and empathetic partner who stayed home from work when he had to and helped her get through it. Eventually she did go on medication and has passed through the fog. I’ll never forget the days she called and said, “Mom, I think the medication has kicked in!”….”Why?”…”Because when she cried last night I felt really bad for her!” She felt the empathy that had been lacking. That phone call was such a relief and I knew she was on the road to a more joyful parenting experience.

She recently said that she THOUGHT she liked being a parent from the beginning…but she was faking it…and that now she honestly loves her daughter and gets joy from being her mom. I do think that “fake it till you make it” can work, or at least get you through some tough times. As I’ve said to many new parents…every stage is a different kind of easy and a different kind of hard. It’s easier when they can interact more with you than when they were babies.

So, why a post on mental health now? It’s National Women’s Health Week , Mental Health Awareness Month and May 2nd was World Maternal Mental Health Day. I thought it was time to share, in hopes that it helps others (and Taylor agreed)…whether it’s battling depression, anxiety, postpartum depression or being a loved one of someone dealing with it. It’s hard…let’s talk about it and keep the communication going!

One of the things that has made me so proud of her is her willingness to talk about it. It’s not taboo to her and it shouldn’t be to anyone! Depression sucks, Postpartum depression sucks…but you can get through it, medication and therapy helps, and it’s getting it out in the open and talking to someone can really help! Here’s a link to phone numbers that might be helpful for those in crisis. Taylor also said that anyone can reach out to her if they, or anyone else they know, wants to chat about it…so email me and I’ll forward your contact info to her. Get the conversation started!

Let’s get rid of the stigma of depression and talk about it like he does….or she does. Please share this…in hopes that it helps someone in need and let them know they’re not alone.

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!