There are few of us over the age of forty who does not look in the mirror every morning ,and secretly wish to erase those troublesome signs of age. Those horrendous reminders that we are not eighteen years old and haven’t been for quite a while. Passing years leave us with fine lines, freckles, age spots, soften jowls, droopy lids, double chins, and, dare I say it, wrinkles. Short of a nip and tuck, Botox, or a full face lift, there is not too much we can really do about it. They are our certified badges of having lived life. But need they be so obvious?
Some people do go for the ultimate enhancement, and if they hire a good plastic surgeon, they regain about ten years. I’m told that the perfect face lift is never recognized by any of your friends as such. They say, “You’re looking good. Did you lose weight? Dye your hair? Just come back from vacation?” A perfect face lift is never really noticed as such. It’s when people come up to you and ask, “Who did your face lift?” you know that you’re in trouble. May as well put on a red rubber nose and an orange fright wig or wear a sign on your back, “This is not my real face.”
Still, even though we may choose not to go under the knife, that does not mean we will give ourselves up to those youth stealing years. Like most people I want to look the best I can for the rest of my time on this earth, be it five months or fifty years. How I fight father time is with creams, lotions and make-up. Sleep helps too, if you can get it. But ultimately, when I remember to apply it, it’s the creams.
Americans as a whole spend billions of dollars a year on make-up and creams. We buy under eye cream, dark spot reducers, chin tightener, fine line filler, wrinkle eraser, facial hair remover, sun skin protector (15 – 30 – 45), and moisturizer, moisturizer, moisturizer.
We purchase a product, try it for a week, then run right out to purchase the next highly touted fountain of youth. Once this new cream is in hand we slather it on with a spatula in order that we shed those tokens of years before the Saturday night twenty year high school reunion, or some other such event.
Yes, we do all this to recapture a vision of ourselves that probably never really existed anywhere except in our own minds.
Do any of these products work? I imagine they help to some limited degree if you remember to use them every day and night, as directed, and stay out of the sun. I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I love the sun and its warmth. Especially, after a long cold winter.
Which brings me to another issue. What do we do with all the expensive jars and bottles of moisturizer and creams that are filling our medicine cabinets? For me, I rub it on my elbows, knees and butt so I am always baby smooth. Now how can you turn the clock back further than that?
Today was a beautiful day to sit back and appreciate nature. I was just hanging out in the screen room, with my back against the house, chit chatting with Jim, who was sitting opposite me, when I noticed a flurry of flying things beyond the screen wall. The air suddenly blackened and it was accompanied by an ever-growing buzz. This deepening mystery actually got Jim and me out of our, oh so comfortable, lounge chairs.
We both peered through the screens, as our vision was impaired by the winter protection still in place. We were not so foolish as to slide open the door for a better view. In short order we concluded it was bees, not a few bees but a swarm of bees. This swarm, which I had never witnessed before, followed the outside contours of the room from the east side to south. There they came to rest on the exterior deck table and chairs. Now there wasn’t a hundred bees, nor a thousand, but perhaps ten thousand. For a few moments you couldn’t see the white table top.
My God, this was ‘Wild America‘, or as close as I wanted to get to it. Figuring they were just passing through, we watch them doing their bee dance for a while, then sat back down. Sure enough the next time we looked they were gone, or so we thought. Cautiously, I slid open the big doors and stepped on to the deck.
Good thing my movements were gingerly. Not fifteen feet away, clustered about a thick branch of the lilac bush and not two feet from the swing, were all of the bees. All ten thousand of them in classic bee huddle. I back peddled, stepped up into the screen room and ever so gently slid the door shut. What were we to do?
I grabbed the iPad and looked up the habits of swarming bees. We certainly couldn’t have them live in our yard so close to where we sat. But I didn’t want to kill the honey bees which are so beneficial to the environment. I would have to look up a beekeeper to come get them. Before I made the call, I read about swarming bees in its entirety. That’s when we determined, since it was going to be inclement weather for the next couple of days, and we wouldn’t be outdoors in the yard anyway, we would see if nature would take its course.
Every once in a while you really need to trust in the miracles that nature provides. The very next time we looked, about an hour later the bees were gone. Every one of them. They behaved in a text-book fashion. So glad it didn’t cost us hundreds of dollars to relocate the little honeys and their virgin queen.
Following, for your education, is a bit about the habits of swarming bees, from Wikipedia.
Swarming is the natural means of reproduction of honey bee colonies. A new honey bee colony is formed when the queen bee leaves the colony with a large group of worker bees, a process called swarming. In the prime swarm, about 60% of the worker bees leave the original hive location with the old queen. This swarm can contain thousands to tens of thousands of bees. Swarming is mainly a spring phenomenon, usually within a two- or three-week period depending on the locale, but occasional swarms can happen throughout the producing season.
Secondary afterswarms may happen but are rare. Afterswarms are usually smaller and are accompanied by one or more virgin queens. Sometimes a beehive will swarm in succession until it is almost totally depleted of workers.
Entomologists consider the colony as a superorganism. An individual bee without a colony cannot survive for long. The colony also needs a certain colony size to reproduce. In the process of swarming the original single colony reproduces to two and sometimes more colonies.
A swarm of bees sometimes frightens people, though the bees are usually not aggressive at this stage of their life cycle. This is principally due to the swarming bees’ lack of brood (developing bees) to defend and their interest in finding a new nesting location for their queen. This does not mean that bees from a swarm will not attack if they perceive a threat; however, most bees only attack in response to intrusions against their hive. Swarm clusters, hanging off of a tree branch, will move on and find a suitable nesting location in a day or two. Beekeepers are sometimes called to capture swarms that are cast by feral honey bees or from the hives of inattentive beekeepers.
The worker bees create queen cups throughout the year. When the hive gets ready to swarm the queen lays eggs into the queen cups. New queens are raised and the hive may swarm as soon as the queen cells are capped and before the new virgin queens emerge from their queen cells. A laying queen is too heavy to fly long distances. Therefore, the workers will stop feeding her before the anticipated swarm date and the queen will stop laying eggs. Swarming creates an interruption in the brood cycle of the original colony. During the swarm preparation, scout bees will simply find a nearby location for the swarm to cluster. This intermediate stop is not for permanent habitation and will normally leave within three days to a suitable location. It is from this temporary location that the cluster will determine the final nest site based on the level of excitement of the dances of the scout bees.
When a honey bee swarm emerges from a hive they do not fly far at first. They may gather in a tree or on a branch only a few meters from the hive. There, they cluster about the queen and send 20 – 50 scout bees out to find a suitable new nest locations. The scout bees are the most experienced foragers in the cluster. An individual scout returning to the cluster promotes a location she found. She uses a dance similar to the waggle dance to indicate direction and distance to others in the cluster. The more excited she is about her findings the more excitedly she dances. If she can convince other scouts to check out the location she found, they may take off, check out the proposed site and promote the site further upon their return. Several different sites may be promoted by different scouts at first. After several hours and sometimes days, slowly a favorite location emerges from this decision-making process. When all scouts agree on a final location the whole cluster takes off and flies to it. A swarm may fly a kilometer or more to the scouted location. This collective decision-making process is remarkably successful in identifying the most suitable new nest site and keeping the swarm intact. A good nest site has to be large enough to accommodate the swarm (about 15 liters in volume), has to be well protected from the elements, receive a certain amount of warmth from the sun and be not infested with ants.
Swarming creates a vulnerable time in the life of honey bees. Cast swarms are provisioned only with the nectar or honey they carry in their stomachs. A swarm will starve if it does not quickly find a home and more nectar stores. This happens most often with early swarms that are cast on a warm day that is followed by cold or rainy weather in spring. The remnant colony after having cast one or more swarms is usually well provisioned with food, but the new queen can be lost or eaten by predators during her mating flight, or poor weather can prevent her mating flight. In this case the hive has no further young brood to raise additional queens, and it will not survive. As soon as an afterswarm (the second and subsequent swarm after the old queen leaves with the prime swarm) is established at a new location, the bees raise a new queen, or sometimes a replacement virgin queen is already present in the afterswarm.
Africanized bees are notable for their propensity to swarm or abscond. Absconding is a process where the whole hive leaves rather than splits like in swarming. Being tropical bees, they tend to swarm or abscond any time food is scarce, thus making themselves vulnerable in colder locales. Mainly for lack of sufficient winter stores, the Africanized bee colonies tend to perish in the winter in higher latitudes.
Swarming is to the beekeeper what losing all of his calves is to a cattleman. Beekeepers try to anticipate swarming and assist the bees to reproduce in a more controlled fashion by “splitting hives” or making “nucs.” This saves the “calves” and keeps the “cow” in condition to accomplish some work.
Old fashioned laissez-faire beekeeping depended upon the capture of swarms to replenish beekeeper colonies and early swarms were especially valued. An old English poem says:
A swarm of bees in May is worth a load of hay;
A swarm of bees in June is worth a silver spoon;
A swarm of bees in July isn’t worth a fly.
(Or possibly for the last line, “A swarm of bees in July, let them fly.”)
Another baseball season is underway. That positive only decorates my face with a smile, and
uplifts my spirits like few things are able to do. At Winter’s end I count down the days until Spring training. When the pitchers and catches report, it is cause for celebration. Time to have Jim hang my beautiful navy and white Yankee Flag high on the corner column of the house. Just about that much lower than the beautiful Stars and Stripes of our American Flag.
Is it all about baseball? Maybe in part, but I doubt it is the sole reason I anticipate the season’s arrival with such unbridled glee. To me it’s a symbol of the rebirth of the year. Never mind what the calendar says.
I live in the North East, Spring training heralds warmer weather, budding flowers, turning of the garden, and sitting outdoors with a cool drink and my feet up on a chair. It’s lighter clothing, less wash, and fewer closeted days wearing warm sweaters. No need to worry about television repeats, which happen more often at the change of season, I can usually find a Yankee game on YES or ESPN. It’s brand new and it’s happening now.
This year the face of my Yankees is slightly askew. No more Jorge Posada, who was a fixture in pinstripes for seventeen years. Giradi platoons Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, sometimes making them designated hitters instead of allowing them to play at short stop and third base. This to save the older men’s legs. And the legendary Mariano Rivera’s ERA is inching up, but he is still the greatest. But wait, all is not lost, Andy Petite just missed the game too much. He will be back on the mound this year. I’m looking forward to it.
Although the aging Yankees are a reflection of myself, the beauty of this musing is that I don’t have to acknowledge it to anyone not even me. I will just cheer and encourage the younger team members, Swisher, Cano, Nunez, Gardner and more.
Yes, the face of the Yankees is changing But to me it’s as dear as ever. I wonder if pinstripes become me.
Having been born and raised a Roman Catholic I know the traditional stories regarding The Last Supper, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. I learned the reason for, and the meaning of Palm Sunday, according to the teaching of the Catholic church. It’s a great story. All of this has to do with love as shown by Jesus for mankind.
Long ago I fell away from the rituals and traditions, like going to church on Sunday, novenas, reciting the rosary, etc. All the rules and regulations. I left these things behind for a variety of reasons, not the least being laziness, although there were and are many items in the doctrines that I just don’t agree with or believe.
I’ve always enjoyed keeping the religious holidays special. Cooking certain dishes and special foods, shopping and decorating. Setting aside those holidays and marking them with family and friends in some way, but it became more about the tree, gifts, the Easter bunny and the food.
Busy lives rarely allow us time to think about God or spirituality. But when you are blessed with a quiet moment in time, and or length of years He seems to slip back into our lives. In reflection, He was always there. Look up into a blue sky on a cloudless day, feel the cleansing of a pounding rain, or the reminder of His power in a clap of thunder and a bolt of lightning. How is it when odds were against it, that the babies were born with all their parts, alive and healthy? Are we just that lucky?
Which one of us doesn’t call on God when a love one is ill, or we are in pain? Don’t we often take those extra moments to gather and fold discarded items around the house, and still serviceable articles of clothing, to donate to those less fortunate? Why do we do that? Isn’t it so much easier to throw something in the trash as you come across it? Perhaps our hearts have been touched by the hand of God, call Him what you will. Over the years I have walked into a church or synagogue and felt the vibration of thousands of good people who had worshiped within the walls of those beautiful buildings.
Every day in so many ways, we do things that are good. Smile at a stranger, buy a $2.00 box of cookies for $4.00, from a child at the door, bent to pick up a dropped item for an elderly person, or a pregnant woman, hold a door, invite a lonely someone to dinner, or throw your change in that box by the cash register for a charity. He shows Himself in us in so many ways.
How about when you are feeling sad or are missing loved ones, that have long since passed on, isn’t it the belief that they are in the hands of a loving God that eases our hearts and gives us comfort that we will see them once again?
Having ruminated on all these things I still don’t know what my beliefs are except they cannot be defined by any one religion. Perhaps love and kindness sums it up. None of us can go wrong if we practice those basic tenets. Maybe throw in a healthy dose of gratitude for what we have in our lives. It couldn’t hurt. And no matter what you call Him/Her it’s wonderful to have that Supreme Being in our back pocket.
Hi friends, followers and fans, this WordPress Blog is written to mark the one year anniversary of my Blog, ‘Life As I Remember It’.
At the beginning of April 2011 I thought it was time to begin yet another adventure, since I am not content unless I am embarked on one. I returned to one of my first loves, writing, with no rules, freedom, and no one to judge or grade. Since I began with no expectations for myself there could be no success or failure. Without too much planning, I sat down and initially began sharing my thoughts and history. I have found out some things about myself that I was unaware of, and along the way I made some new friends, reconnected with old friends, and had a lot of fun.
On this Anniversary I have completed about 96 blogs, accumulated over 3800 hits and have had visitors from Japan, Chile, Brazil, China, UK, and all parts of the United States. There are about 65 individuals who subscribe to my Blog and that thrills me to no end. I love when visitors comment on a piece. I get to know something more about them. Often we have had some great interchanges. I then get an opportunity to visit someone else’s Blog. A writing that I was previously unaware of. When we have similar interestes I subscribe to their Blogs, and so my world continues to expand.
The very act of revisiting my life, through my writing, has lifted me when I have been down, and enabled me to honor a few people who have marked my world with their lives and love. It has also allowed me to hone my skill. Who knows where I will go from here!
I thank you for your support and hope to continue visiting with all of you, and perhaps some additional readers during the next 12 months.