Sunday, May 13, 2012

Let's get this (deck) party started!

From Truffula's deck, where the kale is in flower, the asparagus is shooting up, and all will now be exquisitely pollinated...
Bees hanging out at the hive entrances
What an exciting week!  The short version is that Hotel Melissa is now totally a-buzz with inhabitants.  Our deck is any family member's first stop upon returning home.  Even guests have bypassed the front door to sidle around the side for a look.  There, we watch the party going on!

We opted to keep bees this spring. But, in a way, these bees chose us.  Our bee order hit a snag, and I was despairing over what to do.  Then, an email offering a swarm came across the bee club's email list.  The address was close by.  Within about five minutes, I was on the phone with the offerer.  The entire family piled into the car, and off we went.

The swarm awaited us in Ms. P's shrubbery
Kind Ms. P already had four hives, and was happy to share her swarm with us.  She suited up, and helped us collect it.  Our little car was filled with a loud hum as we drove carefully back home.

Using a branch from the swarm as a bee brush
I'd pored over instructions and studied YouTube videos about how to install bee packages.  In the end, none of that time was wasted.  But, pouring that swarm into our waiting top bar hive ended up being a by-the-seat-of-our-pants adventure.

Five days of comb building progress
We haven't seen the queen yet, but we sure hope she's in there.  In the meantime, the worker bees are hard at their task.  Truly, the process of comb building is amazing.

 But, let's get back to the theme here!  While the bee party has been going on outside on our deck, we're looking at parties here in the Booth...

Birthday parties short on cash and long on fun

The "make it, take it" approach to parties has yielded some good celebrations for us.  The main event of the shindig was a creative activity.  In place of a goody bag, the guests took their creation home with them.

One year, we made wilding sticks.  We collected suitable tree branches in advance, and then offered them to guests as they arrived.  Our living room was soon full of wafting feather bits as the children snipped and taped.  When they finished, we gathered the children and their sticks, and went on a walk.  An unexpected side benefit was that we had some really nice conversations along the way, as various grouping of kids and adults found themselves next to each other.

Another year, we dyed silks using Kool-Aid.  I had several pots with different colors set up in the kitchen.  The guests took turns coming in, selecting their color, and then dipping in their fabric.  The finished products went outside to dry.  Before the guests left, we took a group photo of them draped in their creations.

Silk scarves drying

Post-party cleanup

When we host gatherings at home, our table is full of mis-matched glasses, mugs, plates, bowls, and cutlery.  However, when we've been involved with away-from-home events, schlepping all of that along for a group is not always feasible.  

One of my early Booth posts described my composting after a pot-luck.  Since then, I've continued composting as much as possible after our church coffees on Sundays.  

Here's how my thinking has changed a little...  paper plates and napkins generally compost well.  Paper cups are another matter.  With their plastic liners, they end up being little wads in my compost, which I then need to fish out.  I'm ok with the fishing.  What's less ok with me is that a certain amount of compost clings on.  While I'm rescuing the paper fibers on the cups from a fate in the trash, I'm then wasting them when I toss out the plastic wads.  

So, I've stopped collecting cups.  For picnics, that might actually be fine.  So many people carry beverage bottles with them these days, making it less urgent for them to use a cup.  The problem is when you have events at which bottle-toting is less appropriate, like the reception we're attending this weekend.  I'm open to suggestions for solutions!

Party on, Booth readers!

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