Monday, April 26, 2010

s24o Number 3

The gang(from l. to r.): Jeremy, Silas (in trailer), Randy, Solveig, me, Nancy, Anda, and Sally

On our way

Randy's secret weapon

Nearing our campsite

Setting up

For the third year in a row, our close knit group of our loved ones have come together for another s24o. What's an s24o? Only the most fun thing ever! "s240" stands for Sub-24 hour Overnight. (You can read more about the whole concept here. Or read about last year's adventure here.) In a nutshell: its a quick overnight camping trip with loaded bikes.

Kids on trail-a-bikes, infants in trailers. Destination is vague, spirits are high, weather is excellent. Stuff packed in panniers, bags, and more trailers.

We were all a little slow to gather as it always takes a bit more time to pull stuff out of storage and pull some food together then you plan on, but by about 4:30 we were all joined up and ready to go (with the exception of my sister Liza and niece Maia who had to make a brief trip to the emergency room--they were able to join us later).

We arrived at our high elevation location with only a little daylight left to get our tents up and start on heating up some food. After a great meal and some treats, we all made for our sleeping bags.

The morning started with a chilly breakfast as the sun was coming up through the trees. We then all went for a walk up the hillside and warmed up.

After packing up, I had the pleasure of towing Maia home on a trail-a-bike. We both made droning sounds with our voices that waivered with the bumps in the road. Fun.

Morning breakfast

Two guys with striped caps

Our morning walk


Maia's trail-a-bike hooked up. It was really fun to ride home together. Solveig rode with Liza

All of this started three years ago when Nancy asked what I wanted for my birthday. Without a moment's hesitation I said "A sub-24-oh with Lize, Randy, Sally, Jeremy and the kids". We did it, had a great time and haven't stopped yet.

It is the best birthday present I could imagine.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bears

You can see scratch marks on the frame in this hive

Nancy, with her keen eye, noticed tracks. That's her hand next to the paw print

The electric fence--ready for nightime

Nancy and I have been keeping bees for something like 6 years. In this time we've never had a problem with bears going after our hives, despite them having gone after hives within a mile or so of where we live. Not sure why, perhaps its just been luck.

On Monday morning we received an email from the Central Vermont Beekeeping group detailing how someone's hives had been got by a bear. At dinner we were discussing this and Nancy said something like "You know, we're not immune". I admit that a certain whiff of feeling like it just wasn't going to happen to us had settled in over the years as we seemed to pass each season unscathed.

Late Monday night I had just climbed into bed and was doing a little reading before nodding off when "WHAM!" I heard a crash coming from a direction that suggested only one thing. With my heart racing I ran outside in a t-shirt and no glasses and had the briefest glimpse of something. I ran back in woke Nance up, threw on some clothes, grabbed my glasses and went back out, clinking a spoon on a metal coffee mug. As I moved through the garden I heard rustling as the bear moved into the woods. When I got to the hives I could see that the bear had pulled one hive over completely and was just starting to pull things apart when I scared him away.

Knowing the bear was gone for the time being, I suited up in my bee veil and went back out, only to discover that in fact this hive was dead. Not because of the bear--hives die and this one wasn't able to hold on all the way through the winter. As it turns out, this was probably a good thing in that the bear alerted us to his or her presence before doing any damage to a living hive. Fearing the bear coming back, the best I could do was gather all the wratchet straps we own and strap the hives together as a unit so if the bear came back and knocked over another hive, it would likely hold together like a big box rather then a series of stacked units. This took some work, but I managed to strap all six hives and carried away the dead hive. Nance and I laid in bed and considered everything we might be able to do, but for the moment we had done our best. It was with an anxious ear that we fell asleep sometime after one.

"DAVE, THE BEAR!!" I shot up in the thickness of dream turning to panic. Nance had heard another crash and we knew the night's work was not over. This time Nance went out with a pot and banging away cried out "Go away you bear!!" (Nancy had to comment on this: For those of you from our Bowdoin days, this was a familiar, yet little twist on our "Go You Bears" rallying cry!) Once again the bear departed. This time the bear had knocked over two hives that were very much alive, so we again donned our bee gear and went back out to stand the hives up. Luckily the strapping worked pretty well, so the hives were mostly fine. That said, its no fun to be messing with mad bees in the dark with one flashlight and a general feeling of bewilderment. Again we crawled into bed and decided we could only hope for the best. By this point a few birds were starting to sing, so we were hopeful that dawn might carry us through without another incident.

The morning showed that the bear had not returned.

Despite a very full schedule related to taking down the garage we knew we had to erect an electric fence before the next night. Among my errands, i stopped at the local farm supply store and bought everything we needed to put an electric fence around our apiary. Just as the sun was going down Nancy, our neighbor Erika and I finished installing the fence. Nancy took some raw bacon and clipped pieces of it to the fence with clothes hanger clips to bait the bear to get a most unpleasant zap. Knowing we'd done our best, we went to sleep with our finger crossed.

To our relief, there was no sign of the bear returning that night or any night since.

Bears are hungry at this time of year, so we know we need to make it into the late spring when the danger will really be past. If you are wondering, bear around here are generally black bears and present no significant threat. Of course I wouldn't want to challenge them or threaten them.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Dancing

Nancy, Joanne, and Aaron

Germaine firing up the fiddle

The all-comer's orchestra at the Chestnuts dance at the Grange

Dancing



On Friday Nancy called the Burlington Queen City Contras dance with Joanne Garton and Aaron Marcus playing. It was a really nice dance and went smoothly. We've helped to organize this dance for about five years or so and its been heartening to see it become a healthy flourishing dance over time.

There is a woman named Germaine Leclaire who has been the person stationed at the table taking money and offering stories of her life for twenty-five years. At the break she was given a plaque and a big thank-you from the dancers. Later on she played a few of her favorite tunes on Joanne's fiddle. Germaine was born in Quebec and married a farmer from Charlotte.

Saturday we went to special dance that featured what are known as "chestnuts", which means they are older traditional dances--often dating back to the early days of American history or even earlier. These dances tend to a little less aerobic then modern contra dances, but have a charm that is really a nice to experience now and again. The band was an all-comer's event and they sounded great. Rebecca Lay came and called the dance on short notice and did her usual excellent job.

Lastly, Nancy called another dance this afternoon here in town as a benefit for the school. I've gone with her to many of these events, so I opted to remain at home and continue work emptying the garage. I did show up for the lasagna dinner afterwords though.

All in all a fun weekend of dance and music. Good stuff.

Monday, April 5, 2010

My brand-new very old bike

The bike, sans front fender

The inspiration, viewed at a recent conference

Today my brand-new very-old bike showed up, thanks to UPS.

The bike is a 3-speed Raleigh 20 (twenty being the diameter of the wheels). It is a folding bike and I saw one a couple weeks ago at a bike conference I went to and knew in a moment that I wanted to find one for myself.

Nancy and I are joining her family in Florida soon for a vacation, and rather then casting my lot to the humiliation of whatever the rental shops have, I thought it'd be great to bring a bike I already know, hence the Raleigh 20.

I've only just had a chance to look it over, and, despite some problems in shipping, I think it's going to be a lot of fun. There's a lot I'll do to upgrade it as I can, but for the moment I'm glad I got it and I look forward to some fun times riding it and the option of bringing a bike with me when I travel.