We are going back to the Rez today! B and I are flying outta Chicago and going home to visit my side of the family! It is going to be a whirlwind of family, like a lot of family. Pictures later, I go now!


Apiary 101

Carrying the Bees

This is my first year in which I am attempting to understand the process of beekeeping. B is the real engine behind this undertaking. Last year at the organic farm he worked at he was in charge of the bees. It was, to put it simply, an immediate passion. His love and excitement for beekeeping has been infectious and because of that I am finding my inner insect love. Which, for the few who’ve known me for long, is kinda amazing. Now, I am not scared of bugs, just spiders, but I am not, until recently, ever been interested in bugs. I hate the outdoors. I am more interested in clean beds, room service and late nights out at friends houses. I have always thought I was to be a urban kinda lady. I mean, I have lived in Chicago for years and until the last few years, I had never gone outside the city limits, unless it was to go to Ikea in Schaumburg. That sentence sorta embarrasses me. I think up until my 30th birthday those feelings were true, for the most part. The reality is that I have always been capable of living off the land. I grew up learning how to herd sheep, take care of the chickens, butcher and my first pee was outdoors on top of a tender pine sapling. There is nothing inherently urbanized about me but it’s not to say that there also isn’t anything I haven’t enjoyed about 4 am bars, 24 hour post office hours and all night Korean BBQ joints.

Getting back to the bees, we got ours late in April. Much of the below pictures and videos are from around then. I had meant to upload these a while back but as summer tends to do, the month and a half flew by and here I am finally blogging a month late.

B is explaining the process here.

And here.

Since these were taken we have had a few problems. During the day we moved the bees from their packaged home it had been rainy and stormy out all day. When a small window opened up B jumped on it to try to get them safely into their new hive. Of course the weather started to turn again and so in a quick decision, later to be regretted, he left the package in the hive and we ran for cover. This very thing has caused much strain on my man since. Because he left the package in the hive for a couple of days the studious bees decided to incorporate this into their new home. Suffice it to say, it has been an uphill battle trying to convince, trick and force them to leave the package alone, even AFTER we took it out and shook them down into the hive. This annex hive has caused more grief, guilt and anger then any other tiny animal probably ever has to my man, B.

And so I pray to you, oh dear Bee Queen, move your ladies into their palace and leave the shack for thee wee and insignifcant!

The wind was so strong this morning that it woke me up around 7am. The doors through our apartment started slamming shut and all I could think about were things getting blown over and broken. So I got out of bed and raced around the apartment shutting windows and securing the doors. By the time that was all taken care of, I tried to lay back to down to sleep, but I was awake. So with hot tea and a boiled egg in hand, I decided to take some pictures of our plants.

Here is a picture of the cucumbers! They are getting huge and need to be transplanted soon, like tomorrow.

This is the tiniest bud of Dill. I have had the hardest time getting the Dill to germinate. So far this is the only one that has popped. Actually, when I planted the 2 seeds into this can I only did it because I wanted to use the can. I actually have been negligent watering this little guy and so far it has worked. I am afraid of caring to much, lest it dies.

We are growing lettuce and arugula in containers on our little front balcony. Under each container are holes to let the water drain, they also rest on some wood so that the water can easily flow out. We put them out there last month because lettuce and arugula do well in cold weather to germinate. They can withstand temperatures as low as 30 degrees.
Greens Bins

The window pane on top of the containers is from The Rebuilding Exchange which has been acting like a greenhouse. The combination of the glass and the awesome wet weather we have had in the last 2 weeks has allowed the vegetables to really grow.

This is our self-watering tomato buckets that we have in front of our apartment on the ground floor. B bought 2 buckets and drilled holes on the bottom of the top bucket and the 2nd bucket has a slit on the bottom side that allows for water to be replenished, if there is a dry spell. The self-watering containers are a time saver and wonderfully sufficient.
Self-Watering Tomatoes

I am really excited about the huge growth spurts that we have been seeing here in our apartment. My plan this weekend is to try to get my medicinal plants going and situated in our apartment and to plant a few in a vacant lot nearby. Sorta for future wild cultivation.

Opening of Ciclo Urbano in Humboldt Park

DJ Bone & little girl with big glasses

The newest community bike shop to open in Chicago is located in the beautiful Humboldt Park neighborhood, Paseo Boricua! With the help of the community, Westtown Bikes has moved their location from their previous home on North Ave. and Campbell to Division and Campbell and the Puerto Rican Cultural Center. The GRAND OPENING was this past Friday. It was a beautiful day out for this and a amazing effort put together by the people in the neighborhood.

I think my feelings for the event and the future was sorta wrapped up in “Magical Realism”.

If you live in Milwaukee get ON THIS TRAIN! Will Allen is ahead of the times and gratefully so. (If you live in Chicago there are like a bazillion organizations and groups to inquire to and join. I am going to post an extensive directory list soon!)

The older I get the more militant I get about race, gender equality, sexism, justice and the environment. I think about how the world sees me and how I see myself in this world. I try hard to change the things that add to the bull shit fed to me by our system but it’s hard. Like, caring about what others will think about me if my house is not sparkling clean when company comes over. That’s hard! I know that my limitations are mine and that at any point in my life I can change them. Sometimes when I find myself staying quiet when someone says something racist or sexist I try to muster the guts to do the right thing and sometimes I fail. Navigating this life can be hard but I never ever forget how much harder it could be. Being a woman of color with a rich but grossly misunderstood culture (Native America/American Indian) I know exactly what it feels like to be marginalized. Passive racism is everywhere and it is stealth. As quickly as things can turn dark and stormy, they can also turn bright and sunny. I don’t believe I can control the weather but I can control the way I interact with it.

The way that we view the world is tried and tired. The fact that there still is a lot of people who continue living as if there are endless resources is mind boggling. Especially those with means to be able to choose between renewable and responsible food and energy sources. That shit just pisses me off. I always feel like the real change comes from the people most affected by the ebb and flow of the world. Which are the people in need; the poor and the destitute. And from there it trickles up and slowly through the hardwork of the people, things change. It sounds corny, probably because we are all tired of seeing the same shit just different day, but I am a believer. I believe in the power of the people. I subscribe to the nutso Kool-Aid that every voice counts and as long as we fight hard for the small truths and make simple changes in our lives that the reverberation will be felt world wide!

And with that I leave you with these 2 songs to invigorate and electrify you for your day.

Dead Prez “Hip Hop”

Bikini Kill “Double Dare”

In the past 48 hours I have been offered four free tickets to a White Sox game and to the Flight of the Conchords show at the Aire Theater. I couldn’t make it to the Sox game yesterday because I had made prior plans. It was a minor tough call, but with the weather being all wet and chilly, I felt good about my decision and didn’t give it another thought.

So, about an hour ago I get a gchat from a friend who has 2 tickets for the Flight of Conchords live show and says, “It’s Free!” WTF! Just Yestereday I was lamenting that I hadn’t thought to buy tickets earlier. Damn. Now here is the rub, I made dinner plans again for tonight with friends I haven’t seen in awhile. Getting older means that you and your friends availability to one another is cut in half. Pre-planning and organizing your shit has to happen in order for you to see their faces. And so, planning a week in advance for dinner comes quite natural now. But having been offered these free tickets, back to back no less, I wonder what is the point of having to look at your calendar to make time for friends? Whose dream am I living? Am I just being responsible? Am I incapable of being spontaneous anymore?

The answer? Mine, yes and God, I hope not.

I can’t make the show tonight because I have two lovely people coming over for dinner. I could just blow them off and we can try to reschedule for sometime next month. But I won’t because I have planned and purchased the necessary ingredients to create maximum gastointestinal enjoyment and the booze to wash it down. I will probably think about the show a few times this evening as we relax on the couch but knowing that when tomorrow comes, there is nothing like talking shit about a pretty sunset with people that you love. And EVEN if they were just people I mildly liked, the part about being an adult is about making choices. Choices that you know are just the right things to do, because karma is whimsical and the universe is just playing patty-cake too.

And who knows, I could still end up doing something totally off the wall tonight! TOTALLY OFF THE MOTHERFUCKING WALL!

Stay posted.


Around mid-April we started working on germinating our seeds. At least the ones that we knew we could transplant later in our apartment and at the small plot outside of the city. So far, this is what we have started:

Vegetables: At first they were having a hard time until B brought a big warming mat for them to rest on. Once that was in place, plah-dow! They were germinating left and right!

Heirloom Tomatoes
Sweet Tomatoes
Hot Peppers
Swiss Chard
Moon & Star Melon

Moving seedings to the balcony
Mid-April, we had just seeded our little planters.
2 days ago, everything is busting out of it’s shell!
Warming Mat Germinates Hard
The wonderful, wonderful warming mat. All hail the warming mat!

Herbs: They were having the same problem as the vegetables, and once we had that warming mat placed, eruption!

Bouquet Dill
Common Mint
Sweet Basil
Tulsi Basil
Broad Sage*

Fedco & Seeds
B ordered all our seeds from Fedco & Seeds
Herb Farm
My herbs before the warming mat. 😦 [sad face]
Minting for the Sunshine
Herbs loving on the warming mat. 🙂 [Grills showing]

Herbs to be Planted: I have ordered these in and am waiting for the delivery. Due to placing my order so late, the seeds will be a little late. (http://www.seedsofchange.com/)
Lemon Balm
North American Echinacea**
Garlic Chives

Eventually, when the weather gets warmer and not so insane, as it has been the last 2 weeks, we will be direct seeding a variety of other vegetables. Like zucchini, summer squash, broccoli, white corn, blue corn and etc. We have whole bunch more, but off the top of my head I just can’t remember what else was ordered.

*These ones have not germinated yet. I am hoping that they will get going as the weather turns warmer and they can have the warm air along with using the warming mat.

**North American Echinacea is an at-risk and/or endangered plant. My goal is to eventually try to replant this one out near our farm plot and try to reincorporate it’s species back into the wild.

King of the Balcony - Senor Fuzz
Fuzz on our front balcony, to the right of him is one of our green bins that has just sprouted, as of yesterday: Arugula and Kale!