Friday, July 31, 2009

A Coon Tale~

Creature of bedtime stories,
Rarely seen in the light,
Sleeping all day in a hollow log-
Venturing out into the night.

Skeptical, but fearless,
The dark forest is your home,
Mine is at the edge of yours-
And lucky me, You Roam!

Curious and hungry,
You scout for vittles on that deck of mine,
And I'd say you aren't too picky-
'Cause the cat-food suits you fine!

A friend or theiving foe?
Ring-tailed cat or fox?
Leaves no dish unemptied,
Turns over every box!

And when I sneak upon you-
For I can not help to have a peek,
At times you pause to look at me too,
Then scamper away on tiny feet.

My dears- you are always welcome,
I will fill the bowls just right-
And I'll wait at the kitchen window,
For your enchanted visits every night :)

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Birds and the BEES

"An advanced lesson- but less about the birds and more about the BEES!"
-The Honey Man ♥
I found myself one day last month with a Bee Keeper.

Not just any bee keeper... the "Honey Man" is a dear family friend who invited me to join him while he drove from one farm to another to check on his Apiary's (bee hives). He was preparing to gather honey.

I have known this particular bee keeper, "Mr. Tom", for over 20 years and we are related distantly by marriage. We spend time together almost every summer, and I normally see him during the Christmas holidays too. Well into his 70's- he's wise, careful, energetic, thoughtful, funny, and I've always admired his enthusiasm for life. Needless to say, I was impressed when he began telling me about his adventures in bee keeping a few years ago, and I indicated I would like to see his operation.
My request was granted one day in June.

Now first let me say that I am not particularly frightened of bees, although I have a "healthy" fear of them...they do have stingers after all. Some people are terrified of the little buzzing creatures, but I'm not. Snakes are a different story.
The 45 minute drive to Mr. Tom's house was gorgeous. The landscape was of green fields full of corn, soybeans, and tobacco. Loblolly pines, Mimosas, Oak , Hickory, and Elm trees stand together undisturbed on the edges of the growing fields. I always marvel of the breathtaking beauty of North Carolina near the peak of summer. Cool streams, gorgeous blue skies, stately trees whose age I can only guess, and bountiful crops which bear the fruit (and veggies) of the labor of men. I wondered "Could heaven be more lovely than this?"
Upon arrival we wasted no time going to the first set of Bee Hives.

This is not the actual Bee Hive, my camera died, but this looks almost exactly like the ones we were dealing with!

Under a shady grove of trees, with no extra apparel (meaning no hat, no gloves, no mesh protection of any kind) Mr. Tom set about the delicate task of taking the lid off the first hive, with his smoker in hand, and began inspecting it. Within a distance of 60 feet or so there were 4 active hives and at any given moment we were surrounded by no less than 300 bees flying around, but none seemed interested in what we were up to.

Mr Tom moved with confidence and skill. At no time did he flinch when a bee landed on him. He simply brushed it away and continued on with his work of checking the Super and pulling out the wooden slats inside to check the honey and to see if it was properly sealed. Honey which is completely sealed by the bees will last over 100 years (or more) and never spoil.

It was an amazing process. He showed me what the baby drones looked like, and the difference between them and the worker bees. The worker bees are all female, the drones are all males and their only job is to mate with the Queen. Wonder of wonders, he was even able to show me the Queen in one hive which is usually difficult to do. Even I, a lay person in such matters, was able to spot her when he pulled out the slat she was on. I took it as a good sign.

The average hive has 5,000 to 20,000 bees inside! When the smoke is pumped into the hive the bees make a sound akin to a massive vibration. It's hard to describe the sound, but it's not a noise I will ever forget. The smoke is meant to calm the bees, which it does, but the noise they make made me wonder if we wouldn't get swarmed, but alas, we did not.

I stood next to Mr. Tom most of the time. His confidence boosted my own and before I knew it I was helping him smoke the bees, inspecting the honey slats, and over all having a remarkable hands on learning experience. A few bees landed on me and I simply brushed them away.

The last 2 or 3 hives we visited were on another piece of land up the road a mile or 2. These bee hives were in direct sunlight and the bees seemed to be a tad more aggressive than the ones we had been dealing with earlier. No matter, the Honey Man and I moved in, got the smoker ready, and began inspecting the hives.

I was fearless. I was helping. Then the owner of the property arrived with his wife to see how things were going. They kept their distance, noting their fear of being stung. I just smiled and said. "Thing were going well so far!"

Within a few minutes of my confident statement the Honey Man was stung on the ear! He pulled out a can of "Hot Shot Wasp Spray" from the back of his truck and sprayed the tip of his ear after I removed the stinger. I'm not sure what's in "Hot Shot" that takes the sting out, but it seemed to work. Mr. Tom barely paused before returning to the hive, and I returned with him.

Unfortunately a few minutes later one little bee got a tad too friendly under the brim of my visor, and as I tried to brush him away-
He stung me...right on the tip of my nose!

Needless to say it must have seemed like I was praying because the first words out of my mouth were, "Jesus! It stung me!!!" The pain was unlike anything I ever expected. My eyes began to water profusely, and while I wanted to rub my nose, (which was also watering!) the stinger had to be removed first, which the Honey Man did very quickly. Next he grabbed his can of Hot Shot- and my first thought was "Wait, I have asthma...what's in that can of chemicals?"- but honestly at that moment I'd have let him douse me in toxic waste if it would help the pain.

He sprayed some of the foam on his fingertips, graciously, and applied it to my nose. It did help. I don't recommend anyone using the stuff on their face, but it helped- what else can I say?

It took about 10 minutes for the awful throbbing in my nose, and for my eyes to stop running (NO, I was not crying! :), but as soon as I could see clearly again I went right back to the hive of the offending bee (but this time with the mesh hat on) and finished helping with the job at hand.

I figured if you have to get back on a horse as soon as you fall off of it, the same must be true of handling bees...mindful that I've never been stung by a horse before!
Aside from a minor headache and funny numbly feeling in my upper gums, I was fine. I couldn't even tell where I had been stung, but trust me, I could feel it!

Of course the reward came later the next week when I went back to Oxford to help process the honey from the comb, which was a sweeter and less dangerous adventure, but an adventure all the same. From all the hives Mr. Tom owns or operates he gathered several gallons of honey, which he sells for $10.00 a pint, and I assure you it's worth every cent! It's even worth getting stung, but I'm probably the only one who thinks so! :)

As you can see, from a photo of me at the beach the following week, my nose is fine.

And if you want some honey- send me an email, I know exactly where to get it :)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Anesthesia~ the foggy land between here and there...

For good reasons, which I don't care to explain in detail, I arrived at the hospital on Friday morning for an outpatient (gyn/girl stuff) surgical procedure.
General anesthesia was required because the procedure is rather painful, but luckily the recovery time is fairly quick. I was nervous. Very nervous. I don't scare easily, and while there was nothing to really be afraid was personal and private- and strangers were going to see parts of me that I don't expose to the general public. "Sigh...I know, I know"- those Dr.'s and nurses see it all the time, but they don't see ME all the time. It wasn't an issue of pride, it was an issue of modesty. Well, mostly.
I suppose in this era of pantiless Paris Hiltons and wardrobe malfunctions my feelings might be a tad old fashioned, but they are my feelings (and body) after all. I also suppose that if I were shaped like Paris I might not mind being so exposed...but I'm not. Really NOT.

Once I was being prepped for my IV- I asked if someone could hook me up to a large Mojito, as this usually seems to help me with modesty issues :) I was informed that the mint leaves tend to clog up the plastic tubing in the IV line, at which point I said I would be happy to chew on the mint leaves if that would help. It was 8am and whether the OR crew was glad to have a patient with a sense of humor...or were concerned I was a lush- they promised the IV drugs would be better than a Mojito. They were true to their word.

I remember nothing between the moment they slipped the oxygen mask over my face and the moment I awoke in a good deal of pain, wondering if someone had left me alone with wild monkeys who poked me in the gut. Yeooowwwch!

The staff did all they could to manage the pain, but what couldn't be managed was my mind. I've had some interesting experiences with pain meds after surgery (hallucinations) but anesthesia seems to open some strange closet doors I have in my head. (no monsters though, because I have only ever know the friendly kind!)

While in the OR recovery room I thought (dreamed) I was sitting at my desk. Someone walked up to me and asked me for a pen or pencil, of which I have many, and with my left hand I was searching my desk drawer for the writing instrument. However, when I opened my eyes (because I couldn't find anything) I was merely reaching around under the sheets of the OR bed and pulling on the metal bar at my side. Thankfully no one seemed to notice. They did notice when I tried to pull the blanket over my head, but I have no idea why I did that. Maybe I was looking for a Mojito? lol
Once they moved me to the regular recovery room I drifted in and out of consciousness. At one point (and in a great deal of pain) I felt like I needed to find some information about the procedure I had just gone through. I was standing with a group of medical students who were looking at a wall (trying to read) which was covered in Latin. I stood there for a long time looking at the wall. Some of the words I understood and some I needed to copy into a note book. When I woke up (probably looking for a note book) I was in bed looking at the BARE wall of my recovery room. I was rather disappointed.

I probably had 10 or so of these dreams/visions, or commercials, in my head during the time of my recovery- but unfortunately I can't remember them. I do recall some were worrisome to me...dreams where I had forgotten something important, or I failed to do a vital task, or I was lost- or worse, one of my children were lost. I would wake up in a panic and then have to remind myself that it was just a dream...just a dream Cora.

I didn't have the presence of mind to relay what I had seen, not that any of it would have been coherent or logical. The next time I need surgery though I am going to ask whomever is with me to stand near me and listen to what I say and ask me questions to validate and/or record what I'm thinking. Who knows, there might be a story in there!

I'm home and resting now. I am definitely over the worst part of the pain issues, but still struggling with feeling a bit green. I think by Sunday afternoon I will feel almost normal again. I hope so~
Tomorrow my plans are to listen to the Golden Ganesh (I can hardly wait!!!) and read a great many blog posts which I have missed. Thank you for your thoughts and hugs- both past and present. I look forward to catching up with you all very soon <3>
(PS- any and all "Post-op" stories you have to share are most welcome! :)