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We had a monster wind storm come through the area last night. Gusts easily into the 50s, and I suspect substantially higher in small areas. Our area was nailed hard. I got a call from Courtney around 4:00 telling me our fence in the back was coming down. I wasn’t really concerned until she said that the bees were in trouble as well.

Have you ever tried to move a hive in a wind storm? :-)

I’m glad I did. One of the fences that came down came down right where the bees were at, and had they still been there, they would have been crushed. Since we now have several inches of snow falling (what happened to spring?!?!?), they would have certainly died even if they survived the fence.

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Because of the wind and cold, I had to move the entire hive as a unit, and those little boogers have been very busy. I’d guess the hive weighed close to 120 – 150 lbs. I ended up tying it all together and lifting it using the ropes. What a pain, and the bees were very unhappy. Fortunately (or sadly…) any attacker was quickly blown away in the wind.

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All told we lost 12 big panels and had several 6X6 inch posts snapped in half. And I think we were one of the lucky ones in the neighborhood. Pretty much everyone lost their fence last night, but we didn’t have any big trees to worry about like some others did. The insurance adjustor is coming out today to tell us what the insurance will cover. We share the damaged fence line with three neighbors, so it’s going to be a royal pain figuring out who pays what. We spoke with everyone, though, and I’m hoping we can come to an agreement fairly quickly and easily about what and who should pay what. Some of the fence panels are probably salvageable, which helps.

Good thing we have an emergency fund….

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Myron’s New Room

One of the things that really attracted us to this house was the fact that it had four (!) family/living rooms! I love public, open spaces in houses, and this one just had plenty of them. We liked the idea that we could have our formal living room (formal is a very strong word there…) plus a family room for all of us and a second family room where we could throw the kids without worrying about the mess and noise. It’s made life so easy to be able to send them downstairs where they could just go crazy and have fun.

But that fourth one we’ve always planned on turning into a bedroom for Myron. We started Friday:
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The best part about all of this is that the house was laid out electrically to add this room. All we had to was put up a wall and a door. The light switch you can see just inside the framing on the right of the picture controls lights that are inside the room. There’s a second switch behind the camera that controls a “hall” light there.

Same progress from the other side:

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The room even has a closet already. About my only complaint is that the room itself does not have a heating register (you can see one on the opposite wall outside the room there. To heat that in the winter, we will need Myron to leave his door open OR get a space heater. I’m not in favor of the space heater because I just don’t see Myron playing well with it.

And a shot of the finished drywall:

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Today I’m planning on taping and mudding. Next week I’ll sand and texture it, and the following week, we’ll paint. I’m having Brandon (the guy who designed and built this) come back after that point to do trim, molding, and some other projects I just can’t stand to do. I’m not that great of a handy man (plumbing and a few other basics are exceptions), but I can follow directions well enough if I’ve got someone guiding me. Brandon is perfect and quite skilled at handling the things I can’t do. We’ll miss him when he moves from the area (all too soon probably).

Best part was I had Myron come and see it at this stage. he ran into the room, got a huge smile on his face, threw his arms around me, and shouted, “My own bedroom!!! Thank you, Daddy!!!!” He then immediately left to go play on the iPad. :-) At least he’s learned to express gratitude, right?

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Nothing has changed in regards to me being typically late for movie reviews. We finally caught this one off a Redbox the other night. It was fantastic.

Pros

More so than many of the “kid” movies that we adults are subjected to, this one was compelling and fun for Courtney and I as well. The movie is genuinely funny with the innocence of Baymax (the robot), intimate with the themes of death and grief, and engaging with the science, growth, and interactions. The friendship that develops between Hiro and Baymax is real and comfortable and attractive. The animation and artwork is stunning, and much like How to Train Your Dragon did, it drives the story by pulling you in.

One last plug… The combination of San Francisco and Tokyo was intriguing with cultural elements scattered throughout. Add a touch Mr. Lee and… This is a good one for the kids and the adults.

Cons

Hmmm…. Myron didn’t quite understand the death in the film. We had to talk through it a little. That’s not really a con; mostly just a “if you have a kid that struggles with that…” kind of statement.

I really can’t say much else on the negative side. We ended the film and I immediately added it to our Christmas list.

Rating

This was a good one. I’d give it a solid 4/4 stars. It’s clean, it’s fast, it’s fun, it’s beautiful, and while the storyline is a little too cliche (and easy to guess), it was still interesting and engaging. It’s got replay in it for sure.

My New Apiary!

I’ve been debating since moving where to put my bees. Our new house has a huge yard, so you’d think it’d be easy enough to figure out where to put the bees, right? Well, I’ve gone back and forth a dozen times about the location, and I finally set on a location.

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This sits on the east side of my house (I’m facing south-east for the picture). Code requires a six-foot fence between my bees and my neighbor, and this does it. As you can see, the bee yard is completely enclosed in the old dog run that I moved a couple weeks ago. I lined the bottom of apiary with wood chips to help cut down on the heat and reflection off the concrete. I’ve got enough space on the boards to line up three Langstroth hives and a nuc OR two Langstroths and two nucs. I’ve also got my top bar against the back that is still empty and certainly won’t be filled this year.

Here’s another angle:

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I’m going to line the two outside edges of the fence with burlap to force the bees up and out instead of letting them fly through the fence. We also have a very consistent northwind, and the burlap will provide a partial windbreak. The burlap will also protect whoever is going to the shed right there.

My only big complaint about the setup is that the apiary is more shaded than I normally like. In the winter, the southern most hive (most distant in the photo above) will be quite limited for sun. That’s good for our bitter summer heat, but I’m worried that it might be a little too cold come winter. If it is, my backup plan is to take the whole thing and drag it to the other end of the fence. That would put the hive in full sun most of the day. I might also cut down the front fence a bit. I should be within code if I do that.

Still, I’m thrilled with how this is turning out. I’ve been worried about the kids being too close to the bees and getting stung, and this provides for their safety and opens that back concrete pad for play while still keeping the bees close and convenient for me.

As for my last survivor hive, I think it’s doing pretty good, but you tell me:

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:-) That is around 3:00 today. It’s pretty cool outside, and the activity is still quite heavy. I need to get in there and split them before too long. I’m going to get a swarm if I don’t do it.

This hive will take the northernmost position on the bars in the apiary, but I’m moving them slowly over the next couple weeks so as not to completely disrupt them. It’s going to be a pain to get this done, and I’m hoping to finish in time to give them a week of rest before I split. And holy crud is that thing heavy. It’s like dragging a boulder across the ground.

Setting Boundaries

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I have long loved Robert Frost’s Mending Wall. (Go read it, I’ll wait.) Like most of his work, it leaves itself open for wonderfully simple insights, and one line has long stood out to me:

“Good fences make good neighbours.”

I’ve always pictured a scene from the film Shawshank Redemption as the perfect scene for that poem. The picture (above, Andy’s Oak) epitomizes what Frost was trying to say about fences, though in a round about way. The wall in that particular image is the symbol of trust, friendship, and respect that developed between Andy and Red, and it becomes a basic–but powerful–metaphor to all that is good in life.

When I first encountered this poem, I remember asking, like the voice of this poem, why? But as I’ve grown and experienced life, I’ve learned that fences do indeed make good neighbors. Fences make good neighbors, good friends, good family, and even good spouses. Over the last few months and even years, I’ve had a lot of opportunity to ponder the purpose of healthy boundaries in our lives, and I want to share a few of the ideas I’ve come across.

Identity and Self Worth

I’ve found that boundaries help define who we are, and perhaps most importantly, who we are independent of others. My self-worth and identity are not found in the approbation of others. Neither is my confidence. While we all can benefit from the positive influence of others and the positive contributions they make in our lives, any relationship that begins to be defined by and requires another person in order to be sustainable is concerning. Even in the marriage covenant, I would hope that Courtney’s ability to find value in herself and know who she is goes far beyond my approval. Similarly, we are responsible for our own happiness (or sadness) and condition rather than dependent on another person.

That being said, I readily acknowledge that there is far too little of building in this world, perhaps especially in marriage and in family. While I do not allow the opinion of another to limit me, I would be the first to say that a friendly word of praise and encouragement is weighty and substantial. You should give it often.

Personal Responsibility

You and you alone are responsible for the mistakes you make, the consequences of those mistakes, and any efforts to repair them. You are responsible for your decisions, and you owe it to the other half to own those decisions. Anything less is selfishness and pride at the root.

There was a time when in the name of making peace, I would allow others to require of me things beyond my ability to give. I have since realized that peace making is not enabling poor behavior. Enablers do not provide ways in which to eliminate the cause of conflicts. Rather, like Chamberlain of old, they sacrifice that which is of most worth in order to falsely proclaim, “Peace in our time.”

Asking me to bear through an inability to express yourself maturely, refusing to accept responsibility, and any other effort that disregards your need to own your actions and decisions is offensive, out of line, and emotionally immature. It speaks to a wealth of issues beyond the immediate offense.

Commitment and Respect

I’ve found that in many relationships, the level of commitment and respect is different for the various parties. This is healthy. It’s normal. It’s also really hard to deal with. I’m sure we can all think of a relationship where you were willing to give much more (or less) than the other. Where that imbalance exists, conflict also exists.

It’s hard to be expected to give (or receive even) more than you are willing; respect for each other is key to finding a way through that murkiness of any relationship. I’ve had several good friends who have existed in that place for a time, and it’s a wonderful feeling. I’ve also had several who have not and could not arrive at a point where the imbalance could be resolved. That’s okay, too. Friendships can ebb and flow naturally, and seeing one end doesn’t diminish the original value… unless you choose to diminish it by not respecting the decisions of others. Which leads to my next point….

Accepting Decisions

Related to this is the need to be able to accept decisions. There are those who feel that relationships are fully two-way streets, and they almost are.* A healthy relationship is both give and take, it is honest, and it provides for safety and security. However, in matters where decisions are made, it is not a group decision. If one is ready to move on, they need to have the right to do so freely, without anger, and without needing to make the decision again and again. Friendship does not imply ownership; if it did, it would not be friendship.

*I will, of course, make exceptions for covenant relationships, especially marriage and family relationships. While a single party still has the right to make decisions for their own benefit, those decisions would hopefully be made in counsel with the other party. It doesn’t always work out that way.

Absolutes

To end this, I wanted to list a few absolute boundaries that are automatic and should be in place in any relationship:

  • Abuse–This includes emotional, physical, mental, verbal, or any other abusive behavior. And in my mind, this isn’t “give them second and third chances” territory. While I am eager and willing to work with you through your troubles, abuse is out. Period. You abuse me, and I reserve the right to end things on my terms, immediately, without recourse.
  • Games–This is a matter of personal responsibility and includes manipulation, aggrandizement/minimization, exaggeration, deflecting blame or responsibility, and any other tactic to influence or sway the opinion of another. It’s pathetic and calls into question your motives and ability to have real conversations. If you witness this behavior, it should serve as a warning flag of the other person’s ability to maintain a healthy relationship. In my experience, this is often the first and most visible red flag.
  • Communication–We owe it to each other to be honest, but there’s a big difference between sincere, honest communication and whining, fighting, nit-picking, and whatever else. Blunt and frank are not excuses for willfully causing pain in another and counts as abuse. You can be direct without being rude, and if you can’t do that, Thumper’s advice was spot on: If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all. If a relationship matters to you at all, it is much better to find yourself in a position where you can speak reasonably and gently than not. Obviously, this rule is secondary to protecting yourself (see Abuse).
  • Commitment–I’ve often said that when you are my friend, you know it. When you are my friend, you will never see me speak ill of you. You will see me defend you. You will have my full willingness to help, to lift, and to comfort. There is no place for gossip, for back-biting, for name calling, or any other practice that calls into question my commitment to you. I assume the best before I assume the worst. I choose to look past your faults and see the things that were valuable (obviously, this only extends to a certain point when boundaries are being crossed).

Good fences do make good neighbors. You owe it to yourself and to those around you to walk the fence line on a regular basis and make sure it is sturdy and solid. It’s much easier to have it in place and hold the line than it is to repair it.

To end this on a lighter note, this sign came to mind as I wrote that last paragraph:

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Eh… maybe that’s not as funny as I think it is. I thought it was funny…. Isn’t that enough? :-)

This was a particularly potent General Conference for me. If you missed it, go check it out, especially the Saturday Afternoon session. That session was particularly meaningful and uplifting for me.

As I come away from the conference, I find myself feeling inspired to be a better person, especially a better husband and father. I find myself looking at some of the things I’ve been worried about lately and realizing that those fears and even the desires they promote are good, but not best. They are not the things over which I should consume my energy, my capacity to worry, and my time. The things I should fret over–my wife, my children, my testimony and standing with God–are things of infinitely greater worth and happiness.

One thing that stood out particularly to me was that I need to be anxiously engaged in good causes. The scripture that comes to mind is one from the book of Mosiah:

Mosiah 12:29–Why do ye commit whoredoms and spend your strength with harlots?

To provide some context, this was the prophet Abinadi standing before the wicked King Noah and his wicked priests. And when I use this scripture to emphasize the feelings I have, I would gently point out that the issue here for me is not harlots. :-)

As we apply this wise counsel of Abinadi’s to ourselves, we can replace words like whoredoms and harlots with other words that take us farther away from God, from the hopes He has for us, and from the mission He would has us lead. The real point is to note that which we “spend [our] strength with,” and then determine if it stands up to the intent and hopes of our Father in Heaven. Would He approve of that which we spend our strength with or would He see those things as lesser things?

I feel in my heart that time moves forward and with it the plan that Heavenly Father has for me, for my family, and the people I and they could influence and bless. We allotted in this space we call life a finite period in which to work those works and speak those words by which we will be judged. Is doing those things which are good or merely adequate sufficient for you or for me when they take the place of those things that are best?

A dust storm has been kicked up to the south of us. The wind has been blowing mightily all day. Hot and dry. The not-so-distant mountains have been obscured with a layer of muted sand and dirt that has hidden their normal majesty. As I’ve sat in my living room today listening to the words of modern day prophets, I’ve also watched a light layer of dust gather on the coffee table in front of an open window. The table is not dirty, but it is not nearly as bright and clean as it was earlier before the storm. In our own lives, have the windows stayed open during a storm? Have we recognized the light layer of dust that mutes the shine of polished surfaces or hides the height of lofty mountains? Have we allowed things of lesser worth to replace those things that truly matter?

As I walk away from conference, I think I am more committed today than I have ever been to do what is right, to stand for truth, and to seek those things that are truly best. To dust the corners so to speak. To find the merely good things and replace them with the best things.

Today is Autism Awareness Day, and here’s your friendly reminder that the large number of people who experience autism daily (both people who have autism and the people who support them) are all around you. As someone who deals with my aspie son on a daily basis, I always appreciate when someone recognizes him and loves him and treats him just like he deserves to be treated.

Like a person.

And to help, here’s a small handful of some of my favorite recent Myronisms:

Myron on Eating

Me: Myron, you need to hurry and finish your food.

Myron: [waves his hand toward me aggressively] Avada Kedavra!

(Can you tell he’s been enjoying and loving Harry Potter?)

Myron on Movies

His new favorite movie is the Iron Giant. At the end, the Iron Giant “dies.” Even though Myron has seen this movie upwards of 50 times and even though Myron knows quite well that the Iron Giant isn’t actually dead, he still wails like the damned each and every time. It’s only slightly ridiculous. :-)

Myron on Math

Me: Myron, what’s 1+1?

Myron: (thinking) … … 2

Me: Good job! What’s 1+2?

Myron: Dad… That’s not possible.

Myron on Church and Health

Myron: Dad?

Me: Yes, Myron?

Myron: I’m sick. [fake cough] Can we stay home from church?

Me: You’re not sick, bud. We’re going to church.

Myron: Can I have candy then?

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