Beekeeping Revisited

Our lovely colony in our top bar hive is thriving. Calm is now the norm for me when opening the hive and refilling the feeder. You feed new colonies because they need the help getting started off well. This is because the new set up happens between big blooms, and without a lot of blooming plants close-by, the colony might starve before it can get things rolling.

I discovered the right sort of canning jars for the feeder at Tractor Supply. I did not know that Tractor Supply carried supplies for canning! This gives me plenty of jars for the bee feeders and I can make up bulk amounts of the feed, fill the jars, seal them, put them in the refrigerator, and speed up refills of the feeder! I am VERY happy with this.

Learning curve is steep. I know to leave the comb alone now that we know the queen is good and laying well. I have photos of comb!

Our colony is considered a very gentle one. There is no hostility at all when I open up the hive to inspect. A couple of puffs of smoke at their door to be sure, and easy work.

I’m starting to enjoy my forays into the bee yard. This is mostly due to our bees being amazingly gentle.

Now, I have found a couple of beetles between the roof of the top bars and the rain lid. I need to find out what sort of trap I need to place in that space to handle the problem. The little beekeeper squashed one of the beetles– so there is one less for the bees to have to manage.

Dear Lord, thank You for the bees. +Amen.

Puppetry and Ventriloquism

Ventriloquism is to Puppetry as Square is to Rectangle.  A Ventriloquist IS a puppeteer, but not all puppeteers are ventriloquists.

I am irked when ventriloquism and puppetry are separated out as if they were two different things. They are not. The misunderstanding comes from the time when the popular ventriloquists of the day used the hard figure or ventriloquist dummy exclusively, but ventriloquism is not limited to the use of these traditional style instruments. Shari Lewis’ Lambchop is a ventriloquist figure but is not a hard figure.

These days ventriloquists talk of hard figures and soft figures to differentiate between the types of puppets used by ventriloquists.

ANY puppet that is speaking and the voice is coming from a visible person who is not moving their lips and thus creating the illusion that the puppet is doing the talking IS a ventriloquist figure.

The puppeteer doing the voices in plain sight of the audience is a ventriloquist whether that puppet is the familiar dummy or a soft sock puppet.

Jim Henson was a great puppeteer, but he was not a ventriloquist.

Shari Lewis was a great ventriloquist who used hand puppets in place of the hard figure (I wish the American Heritage Girls would correct that part of their puppetry badge!).

I’ve delighted in puppets from childhood–who has not? In college I did more with puppets for use in education and found myself longing to be able to do ventriloquism. Years passed without puppets, until last fall when I suddenly got the wild hair to take an online class in ventriloquism.

The inspiration to pick up a puppet again is largely the result of being inspired by Habitica to revive dreams.


Dear Lord, thank You for puppets of every imaginable kind, and thank you for puppeteers and ventriloquists and classes. +Amen.

The Bee Keeping Home Educator

Kinesthetic learners do best when doing. Hands on, action, and linking this with the material to be mastered. This has been a huge shift in my understanding of my vocation as a home educating mom.

I’ve a bug nut. This is the kid who for most of her 7+ years has followed insects through the grass, getting up very close to see what they were doing. This is the kid who rescues bees from water buckets and places them on leaves to dry out and does not get stung.

This is the kid who needs to be channeled into pollinators and away from arachnids because mom is phobic.

Therefore this family now has a hive of bees.

Our first hive, first bees, and I honestly do not know what I am doing!

Of course, everyone has to have a bee suit. I have a white one, very thick layers of mesh, I can feel air movement through it but have not been stung yet.

The little bee keeper has a cute bee suit:

This is a really cute kids bee suit.

And this is part of the hands on style of education. Learning about insects, the environment, pollution, pesticides, plants, native plants vs invasives, native bees, other native pollinators, our food supply, simple basic economics…

Dear Lord, thank You for bees and all they do for humanity. +Amen.


The autoharp is an instrument I never tire of hearing or strumming. Not that I am a musician by any means, I love music, but my natural talent is meager at best, and my inclination to make time for practice is weak. However, I have persisted in collecting several lovely instruments and wanting to play them in spite of myself.

Enter Habitica. I wrote about this useful tool in another post here.

On the site of Habitica, there are groups called Guilds. I joined a guild for people who were struggling. The premise of this group is to discover ONE SMALL THING we could do to move forward some dream that we’d felt was too overwhelming or difficult. I decided to work on my dream of playing the autoharp.

All the autoharps were in cases, put away. One was waiting for me to get around to restringing it to a two key AE configuration. So I made a list of steps to get that done. Accepting that I was unlikely to get it done myself, I decided to send it off to a luthier who does these things. But even THAT was tough.

So here was the list I made for Habitica. Pull autoharp out of the closet. Contact Luthier. Email details of what I needed done. Find address of the Luthier. Locate string set. Locate new bar set. Print three address labels (inside, outside, and other). Pack to ship. Take to UPS store. SHIP.  As you can see, the steps are each small, each easy, but there were quite a lot of them(10)!

Practice happens when the instrument is easy to access. So I determined to find a place to safely have one or more instruments out.

I also needed to put them on stands. I found one stand, could not find the other stand, ended up buying two more stands. This was NOT a fast thing as I kept hoping to locate the missing stands.

Then I pulled an OS set up in BbFC out. I got the AE back from the Luthier. I pulled my Orthey chromatic out in its bag, and finally placed them at the head of my bed. Where they SAT.

Clearly, having them out was not enough to over-come whatever prevented me from practicing (mostly, time, “I ought to be doing…” and then I never practice).

So I added to Habitica a habit “touch the autoharp” and this was ALL I asked myself to do. It felt silly to walk past and touch the autoharp.

Next I added a habit “strum the autoharp” and again, for a month it felt quite silly to pass the autoharp, touch the strings and strum them in passing. But I did it and it felt good.

Third month, I added, “pick up the autoharp” to “touch the autoharp” and “strum the autoharp” AND I got credit for each autoharp I did this with– easy points, fast, and suddenly I was growing a HABIT of picking up and strumming on my autoharps every single day.

I added “tune an autoharp” and “play a tune” to my habits as well.

Current challenge to myself is to play the tune I chose on each autoharp, in different keys or the same keys, every day. I’ve been doing this for weeks now. I estimate that it has taken me 8 or 9 months to get to this point, however, this is more than in the previous eight years.

Nobody in the family can figure out the song yet. I figure, if I get good enough at playing that one song, somebody is eventually going to recognize it!!

Dear Lord, Thank You for music, for autoharps, for time to practice, and for the people who helped me see that I could take tiny tiny steps toward a dream. +Amen.

Home School Days, wherein I rant

What to do when your first grader is NOT an early reader? What to do when readiness is slow to arrive? What do you do when well-meaning friends and family fuss because it looks like this child is going to be behind? You take a deep breath and evaluate.

Learning style of teacher and pupil.  It is a constant question–what curriculum do I use? I used Seton for a very long time. It was not the first curriculum I tried back in the day more than twenty years ago when I first embarked on home schooling. I tried Kolbe (classical) and loved so much about it, but it was not a fit for us. Seton, an academically sound program, turned out to be just what we needed–then.

Now THIS member of our family is a little kinesthetic learner. Seton is more sit down, listen and read. Seton worked well for the auditory and visual learners. Not so this learner who only seems to absorb information through movement.

Evidence? Tell her how to do something– not going to go well.  Show her how, better, sometimes. Walk her physically through doing it–much much better right off.

It has NOT been easy. My entire teaching experience puts the emphasis on auditory and visual learning. My older children were auditory and visual learners. The younger children are appearing more and more to be the kinesthetic style of learner and this has been a challenge for me. I’m apparently slow to adapt, but adapt I am!

I’m hoping to do a series of posts on curriculum for the kinesthetic learner. This will be slow to come along as I am NOT finding this easy. Painful, actually. Still, there are several exciting discoveries we’ve made, and some really difficult activities we’ve entered into, and hopefully this will result in the learning that we want to see happening.

Meanwhile, I am getting really tired of hearing how she might be happier in a school, and how so and so was reading by now. Why is it that a school with a teacher who has NO MORE EDUCATION THAN I HAVE gets a pass when a late reader is taking more than just a few months to learn to read, but I who am more than qualified to teach (BA, education certification, MA) am not trusted to know what I am doing? Yes the kids are bright but that does NOT mean they are ready.

Dear Lord, thank You for the blessing of my children. Thank You for good home school curriculum. Thank You for people who care enough to drive me up the wall. Please help me be patient with them. +Amen.

PLANNER-a tool for keeping track

Planners are a tool that I have used for many years. I’ve gradually learned what elements in a planner work for me, and which do not work for me. Our lives are complex and a planner can help us keep track of the many aspects of our vocations. They are a good tool.

I have used Daytimers, Dayplanners, FranklinCovey, Erin Condren, and other planners. I learned something useful from each and every planner I tried. For ME, smaller is not better but the larger format (8×10) is too big. I use the middle size which FranklinCovey calls the Classic, and which is the most popular form of the Erin Condren.

I had a Daytimer, both a pocket size with monthly spiral inserts (did not work for me) and a larger ring bound (this I found bulky so not good either). Next I had a Dayplanner “week at a glance” that was 8×10 and set up for making appointments. Daily pages are too much waste, weekly spreads work, pocket is too small, 8×10 too big.

I switched to a FranklinCovey Classic in a spiral. Two page spread for each week and a section for the months. I liked the format, size, spiral, ease of use, ease of carry, the place for the pen on the cover I put it into, and the organizational aids in the leather cover. Very nearly perfect. SADLY, when I looked for a colorful version, FranklinCovey had several–all ring bound and I did NOT want a ring binder! The planner that worked ONLY came in bland.

I looked into the Bullet Journal. This is amazing, creative, and infinitely adaptable. I LOVED the idea. The FUTURE PLANNER pages in particular were a revelation to me. A place to put everything onto a calendar which I would LIKE to do, which I might do, but where it is still not nailed down as something I MUST do. Future planning is for me!! Pages for projects and brainstorming fit a need in me. However, you must make all your own calendar pages, drawing out what you want. This is great for those who love doing that sort of thing. But for me, I needed a pre-made planner.

I found lovely book bound planners with Bible readings and places to journal about those readings–but I was not seeking to replace my plan of life with a new one.

I found lovely notebook planners with lots of pages for tracking health, weight, diet, meal planning etc.. These might be perfect for someone else, but not me.

I found colorful and creative planners that were filled with good things mixed with religious ideas contrary to my own.

I found places to get pages to put in a ring binder–but I had already learned that I actually don’t LIKE ring binders.

A friend suggested Erin Condren. This planner is expensive but has a delightful colorful version, it has a vertical format option in three sections that you decide how to use. I call mine Day, Kids, and Evening. I place appointments in DAY,  homeschool or scouting in Kids, and evening club meetings and practices in Evening.  I use the monthly pages for future planning.

I also have a notebook (classic size) for my SCA projects. I have a small bound notebook for my Puppetry. I have another small notebook for Beekeeping, and this works for me too. Lots of room for brainstorming and taking notes, but I only carry what I need that day.

It was a LONG process of using and discarding planners. Most I attempted for a year, few made it that long.

My message is don’t give up, make lists of what you liked, and did not like, what worked for you and what was wasted paper, then keep trying planners and refining that list. The inexpensive Dayplanner and FranklinCovey actually worked for the entire year. Learn from each planner you use, and be bold in seeking out what you need.

This is my first year using the Erin Condren, project notebooks that are separate from my planner, a small pocket planner by my bed is my gratitude planner(this from a Michaels craft store), and Habitica at my computer. THIS is working.

Dear Lord, Thank You for all the creative options in planners that are out there. Thank You for making people creative. Thank You for helping me to find the right mix for my needs. +Amen.


HABITICA-a marvelous tool for productivity

Habitica is a marvelous online tool for organizing your day. The way Habitica works is to turn your work day into a role playing game. In this way, those things you need to do anyway are given instant rewards in a fun and stress free game setting.

You have this little icon, and some options for hair and skin color and clothing. The tasks that gain you gold and experience points are all linked to whatever tasks you input on the Task Page where you list your Habits (like practicing a musical instrument), Dailies (like home schooling, or showering), and To-Do (that to-do list for the day, week, month…). As you complete these things you will check them off and be instantly rewarded.

Dailies can hurt you. If there is a task that must be done every day, so you placed it on the daily list, you must do that task every day or it will remove some of your health!

By clicking off your Tasks, you gain gold, and are randomly rewarded eggs, armor, and food for the pets. When you level up, your health is restored and you have the opportunity to gain even better rewards.

At level 10, you are free to choose a role for your icon. Healer, Warrior, etc.

The success of your Icon character is dependent on what you get done that day. The more of your To-Do list you finish, the more of your Dailies you do, the more times you repeat that new habit you are working to develop, the better your little character does in the game!

An entire office group could use Habitica together, each developing their own character but then the characters can join together to go on a QUEST. Well, this quest only moves forward when the collective group is doing their Tasks! The success of the Quest also depends on the members choosing different roles so that there is an array of abilities represented.

I’m playing Habitica all alone–except I joined a few of the support groups, and that has been good too. I particularly like one that is about beginning again when you fail. We discuss the struggles and how to break down some goal into the tiniest particle of forward progress. I shall blog on that when I discuss Autoharp and Puppetry in later posts.

I use it in conjunction with my favorite planner but you do not have to do the same. I prefer a planner. I future plan on the monthly calendar, then move what I will actually do each week to the weekly planner page. This gives me the concrete planner I need when away from the computer AND the game setting helps me complete the tasks.

For those who do not wish to use a paper planner when away from the computer, Habitica does come in an app for use on smart phones and tablets. I prefer to combine with the paper planner.

Dear Lord, Thank You for the planners both paper and online. Thank You for the creative people who designed each and who run the website for Habitica. +Amen.

Apology for my lack of posting

I note that I am neglecting my blogs, there are several reasons, all due to being quite busy!  I attended a Society for Creative Anachronism event called Gulf Wars in March, which was a blast. I also decided a few months back to begin updating my skills in puppetry and add ventriloquism to what I knew. It seems there are now some excellent resources for ventriloquism online, so this has been a great boon to me. AND I have been working on ONE song playing it on each of my autoharps in an attempt to learn to play something.  I picked up a program to help me organize my work and hobbies and family commitments, and this sort of started the entire cascade of activity.

Habitica is an online program where you list your To-Do list, your Daily actions, and Habits you wish to develop. It plays like a game, with the completion of tasks to key to gaining the energy and gold needed to succeed in the game. This is a really GOOD and useful program for those of us who are chronically airheaded. I’ve put most of my vocation into this program, and seen improvement in many areas. I have my prayers listed, and even weekly activities like Mass on Sunday. It dovetails wonderfully with my planner (I’m using an Erin Condren weekly planner) and I’ve managed to improve in ways I had despaired of doing!

Autoharp is one area. I have owned and strummed and longed to play autoharp for years and years. The instruments sat in their cases and I made no improvements at all. WELL, enter Habitica, and there is now a DAILY practice listed, AND a set of habits listed. So the smallest practice is a daily and anything extra gets rewarded in the habits column. I now practice every day.

Puppetry is something I loved as a kid. Captain Kangaroo was my childhood favorite show. Movies like LILI grabbed my imagination and I wanted those puppets so bad. So, in college I picked up puppets as part of teaching elementary school. But really needed to learn ventriloquism as I rarely had access to a proper puppet stage (which I longed for!). Well, I happened upon the International Ventriloquist Society at a website called Maher Studios. Where I found a link to five free lessons on ventriloquism! Needless to say, I am still working on the course, learning and having fun! Currently I have done a couple of videos to show myself at this level of skill.  I’m terrible at it but improving.

Of course, Gulf Wars was a blast and has nothing at all to do with anything else. Camping and dressing in medieval clothing for an entire week. I will most certainly go back again.

This is why I have not been updating this blog and I really ought to do more. 🙂  I even have blogging on my weekly Habitica! More on each topic soon. 🙂

Dear Lord, thank You for all the good things of this world. +Amen.

Links Page for Beyond Appearances Home School Co-op Presentation

Lovely Garb Links for recreating historical clothing:


SARTOR:  Reference page to see fabrics recreated from archeological finds. Currently, they have a Viking fabric in polyester and rayon that could be trim. But this is more for reference as these fabrics (especially the silks) are very costly.

LINEN:  The ILO19 is a nice weight and good for our climate. The price is reasonable for linen and they run daily sales.

WOOL: absolutely period, for every region of the world, for every part of the period you are studying. Every person at every economic level would have had garments made from this material.

Other options: Linen look cotton: while not period, it is less money and will make nice garb. I think JoAnn’s has a good coupon for a single cut of fabric right now.

BYZANTIUM/Eastern Roman Empire:

Anna’s Rome:  This blogger has a Masters degree based on her research into Roman and Byzantine clothing. She offers links to how to make either, I recommend the page: Byzantine Garb Basics She plans to redo it with the changes based on her most recent research but the links from this page in red are still good. The basic shape of tunics for Byzantine change very little during the Empire, with the earliest including more pieces similar to ancient Roman, and very late in the period (1400’s) there would be a tendency to start to fit the torso more and include wide sleeves as a European influence. The women of Jesus’ time all the way through to late Byzantine/Eastern Roman Empire, wore their hair covered (unless they were scandalous or so wealthy they wore hats or turbans, often with jewels attached). Take special note of the blog post where she discovers how to make her veil match what is seen on early Christian icons of Mary.

10th Century Byzantine: has a bit of general reporting on SCA educational events in our region. Lots of pictures in the most recent posts.

Levantia: Dr. Timothy Dawson has garb and armor pages and books out. The website has pictures of garb he has recreated from the historical record.

SOCIETY FOR CREATIVE ANACHRONISM: history, fun, education. The web portal for people to discover the SCA.  HERE is a web portal for the schedule of events in our region. Events have a fee, and everyone attending is required to wear a reasonable attempt at period clothing. That is what we are eager to help you accomplish for your history project and feast.

MET: Metropolitan Museum of Art: COPTIC/Byzantine/early period.

Coptic Child’s Tunic. This is from Egypt. A Coptic Christian could easily have worn this garment. Note that it is made from simple rectangles sewn together, it would be loose fitting.

Common Tunic Style, Child or adult: This child’s dress is the same cut as an adult’s tunic. Again, this would be in perfect order for Christians in this time period, anywhere in the Eastern Roman Empire. Eastern Rome controlled Egypt until the region fell to the forces of Islam.

VIKING:  This person plays a Viking persona and teaches. There are some good links on this page for anyone seeking to create historically correct Viking clothing.

12th Century Scotland  Nice blog page on clothing in the 1100’s. Has some links as well.

PATTERNS: While a pattern is not needed for much of the clothing of this time frame, these patterns, while confusing to some people, are well researched. : Period Patterns.


Jewelry: not so much a link as a bit of information: Glass was not cheap in our period of history.  Bold colors were even more costly. Women wore glass beads with as much pride as we might actual gemstones. Not that gemstones were not even more valued, but glass was so valuable, a broken item would be gathered up, every shard, and taken to the glassworker to be sold for the weight of the glass or directly commissioned to be remade.