Sunday, November 1, 2009

October 31st in the Mission: A Sunny San Francisco Afternoon

We spent the day wandering around the Mission district on Halloween afternoon, looking at the festivities preceding tomorrow’s Dia de los Muertos (November 2)

What a day to find inspiration for new projects! The colors, sights, sounds and smells were spectacular.




At the heart of the Mission, I bought marigolds (for my offrenda/ancestor altar), looked at the many tables of calaveras (the skeleton sculptures), papel picado (colorful paper cutouts hung around altars), and listened to some incredible, joyful samba music. What a blissful afternoon!



(above): marigolds (flor de muerta, flamenquilla, among other names. I was told by Mia of Encantada Gallery that it was also called Semper Seche (sp?), but I have yet to find this in my internet researches – still trying, though). The stone bowl is full of burning copal incense, sacred to ancestor altars. Once you serve a celebration feast to honor your ancestors, you burn copal incense which takes your prayers and words up to the stars to them. To the right of the copal are sugar skulls, offered to ancestors with prayers written in foil on their foreheads

Fantastic band – Being a djembe player, I’m always blissed out over a great conga or samba…and these guys started the day off right! More fabulous music was heard when we went to the Mission Cultural Center for the Dia de los Muertos exhibit.

Here are some pictures from the exhibit at the Mission Cultural Center:


An altar to those who died trying to get into America (illegally or not). It was a powerfully symbolic altar – with jars of milk and honey alongside dirty glasses (the land of milk and honey definitely not what was expected), rusty keys and the Madonna on top of dirty pots and pans.
A beautiful sculpture of a South American death goddess, Opening herself to accept new souls.



Loved this.

Afterwards, we went to tackle more of the “100 things to eat and drink in SF before you die’ list, by having Margherita Pizza at Delfina Pizzeria, and before we headed home we had fresh, warm bread from Tartine Bakery with Brillat-Savarin cheese from Bi-Rite Deli…and yes, a cup of salted caramel ice cream from Bi-Rite Creamery. Ahhh, decadence prevailed.

Many more pictures, but I'm very tired today, so will close with a wish that you had a good weekend. :)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Here's Esme (in slightly better light)!

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Esme, the huntress. :)

Beautiful Autumn: Bees and Art.


Last weekend was the third harvest of Urania Hive, and unfortunately I wasn't there (caught a 'bug' after my infusion on Friday, and decided it was best to lay low). This week, M bottled the honey and washed bottles for more wine making, so more fun is on the way!

Terpsichore Hive also got a good dusting of powdered sugar last week, thanks to M. :) This is our natural way of battling against the deadly Varroa mite, one of the causes of bee deaths. The brood boxes get a liberal dusting of powdered sugar once a week for three weeks. As bees are fastidiously clean, they clean themselves off and any mites that may be in the hive as well - a clean fest! I hope to be there for the next dusting, as I'm told that the bees who fly off after being dusted are something to see: ghostly white, like apparitions of themselves (J says, 'they're ghost bees!'). It's risky taking pictures when they're upset, but will try my best (where's that zoom lens, haha!).

Bit by bit, I'm getting more courageous about posting ideas I have for artwork,
or pictures of things I've done or working on.

It's been so inspiring to explore art blogs from all over the world, and it's opened up the 'artist's block' I've had for a few years. So, here's to new friends, new art, and to the bees as well!



I'm hoping to make a light box this weekend, and take proper photos of pieces. I've got the cameras and tripods, but light is the biggest issue so found some articles on how to photograph jewelry online, and will give it a go. :)

Have a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A productive weekend, but...

Not in the manner I had expected. I've been sick most of the weekend, but things feel like they're sorting themselves out now. The cough is all but gone, and the fever has almost disappeared.

Because I was 'home bound' this weekend, I got started on some long overdue projects. These photos don't do the work justice, but will make up for it this week with photos of separate pieces, finished assemblages, etc. It was very satisfying to see the result of three days of work like this!


I'm liking the juxtaposition of the new pieces with the jars in the back, as though I have just spilled them out from another jar. Some of this series are buttons, and some are meant to go onto necklaces and a bracelet, like this one:


This bracelet, on elastic cord, needs restringing as I've created a focal bead that is still drying.





I have high hopes for these. I've been working on palettes all weekend, which is something new for me. In the past I've just thought, 'oooh, purple is a pretty color', and then I'd make 50 purple beads ready for 'something' but nothing more would come of them. This is different. And I can't wait to share them in more detail (if it only weren't 10PM already!).


The color of this photos isn't great, but again - the good camera will take better shots. These were glazed, and are both in the leaf palette from above as well as a gorgeous, 'by chance' sunrise palette. More tomorrow, for now - good night and have a wonderful week!!

Meet Esme. :)


This is Esme, our new Abyssinian/Tabby kitten. She’s made herself right at home.

(for those who know about it, note the toy she's adopted. I had nothing to do with it!)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Coming back soon.


It's been a while since I posted here. Some ups and downs have kept me 'inside myself'.

However, it's time to think about getting back into a routine, and to post about the many projects I've been working on.

It's also time to post on our beautiful Muse hives and this year's harvest - we have one more Urania harvest to go, and then it's time to focus on winter! Keeping those beautiful girls warm and healthy is a huge priority.

I'll be back very soon, and will have lots and lots of photos and words to share!

With love.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Rest in Peace, Ruby Salai.


Ruby Salai
February 17, 2007-August 4, 2009

You are sorely missed, but you will always live on, my little Bean.




Thursday, July 30, 2009

Two honey recipes, and some honey facts :)

Honey Egg Shampoo
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons liquid soap
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon witch hazel
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tablespoon wheat germ oil or almond oil
1 tablespoon rosewater or cologne

Place all the ingredients in a screw top jar, cover and shake well. Makes about 2/3 cup.

Honey-Pollen Shampoo
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup glycerin
1 tablespoon witch hazel
1/4 cup orange flower water or cologne
2 tablespoons bee pollen
1 teaspoon liquid soap
1 tablespoon alcohol

Place the ingredients in a screw top jar, cover and shake well. Makes about 2/3 cup.

Did you know…?

• Honey is antimicrobial due to its high sugar content, low pH and the presence of organic acids (Use it to treat cuts, scrapes and burns as well as to prevent scarring!

• Local honey may help treat your allergies!
• Honey is high in carbohydrates and is therefore a great energy source.
• Honey contains the vitamins B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin and pantothenic acid.
• Honey contains the minerals calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, sodium and zinc.
• The natural antioxidants found in honey are chrysin, pinobanskin, vitamin C, catalase and pinocembrin.
• Unprocessed honey contains enzymes that are considered essential for good health!
• Generally, darker honeys and those with higher water content have stronger antioxidant potential. The antioxidants identified thus far in honey are pinocembrin, pinobanksin, chrysin and galagin. Pinocembrin is unique to honey and found in the highest amount relative to the others. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C), catalase and selenium are also present.
• Honey is used as a hair and facial treatment due to the fact that it attracts and retains moisture.
• Honey never goes "bad". It is slightly acidic and, therefore, not conducive for bacterial growth.
• Honey is the only food produced by insects that is eaten by man!
• Honey is good and it is good for you - it belongs in your medicine cabinet as well as your cupboard!

Colors of Honey

White Color is from Clovers and Alfalfas
Very Light Amber Color is from Wildflowers
Light Amber Color is from Orange Blossoms
Plain Amber Color is from Buckwheats, Tupelos and Others.
The colors of honey comes from the nectar of the plants.
The lightest colors of honey have the mildest flavors, while the darker colors have fuller flavors.

from this website.

Inspire Me Thursday Entry

Sandstone cliffs, Pescadero Beach, California
Sandstone cliffs, Pescadero Beach, California

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

To the gardeners and beekeepers: Ecoregional Planting Guides

Pollinator Partnership: http://www.pollinator.org

Saw this site today and thought I'd pass it on. Lots of good information!
Additionally, you can get a free personalized guide to selecting the right plants for pollinators in your region.

Once, I lived in Provence.

A dear friend recently scanned in lots of pictures she had in albums, and this got me wishing I could a) find my pictures, and b) scan and clean them up for posterity. I've got several VHS tapes that need the same attention.

When cleaning out the garage a few weeks ago, I found some pictures I've been thinking about for a long time. To my delight, they were all together in one little package. I scanned them at work the other day. They still need cleaning up, but I was so happy to see them again it doesn't matter, for the moment. There are more photos, but these were in the little found bundle.

They don't do the experience any justice, mind you, they're just inexperienced shots taken in 1993. But they mean so much:

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Side street, Arles - I didn't live in Arles, but went through on my 'pilgrimage' to Les Saintes Maries de la Mer (pictures that need to be scanned) and the tomb of the Maries, home of Saint Sara la Kali and pilgrimage sight of the Romani.

Arles is where Van Gogh had his famous studio, where he painted his Sunflowers. When I lived in the area, a large exhibit was being presented where hundreds of school children painted their versions of his Sunflower paintings - they were hung all over the outside of the building.


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There was a lovely (and very peaceful) view from the apartment I shared in Avignon. I didn't live here very long, only two weeks, as I was waiting for my new job to start. The placement firm allowed me to live in a little apartment they had in their offices. As long as I stayed out of sight during business hours, I could stay rent-free. Not a problem. :)


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A place very near and dear to my heart. I lived in Isle sur la Sorgue, a famous Provencal market and antiques town. The family I worked for (family helper, artist assistant) owned a compound. The extended family lived and worked here together. They sold trout and goat cheese to the public.

I miss them a lot sometimes.

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Milou, one of the many dogs who lived on the property. These are the canals where the trout were farmed, and the tracks are for the wagons that carried the fish out into 'other places.' ;) When a canal was cleaned (both of fish and of dirt), all the kids (including me, the 25 year old kid) were told what canal number was open and we could swim in it until late afternoon (or until our lips turned blue, whichever came first). In 110 degree heat, it was HEAVEN to hear the kids run by the house screaming 'HUIT! HUIT!' or some such number.


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Wow, great photography skills, I tell you. :P
Anyway, this is where I get a little misty, as I have two pictures of the house where I lived. Here is the entrance way, and it is in every way perfect to the memory I hold of it. Whenever I walked up that staircase, I felt taller, sager.

Anyway, underneath these steps, and under part of the house, ran a lovely creek. It provided not only fresh water but a very cool and very accommodating cellar for the incredible goat cheeses made there.



Wish it were clearer, but maybe when I work on all of these I can clean and enlarge them as well. I loved working with these goats. They made the most wonderful goat cheese, flavored with the blackberries they ate all day.


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OH this picture brings back so many good memories. I smile as I look at it. My room was the top right hand window.

I must get this one framed.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

One of the most incredible experiences I've ever had.


Hive Urania, Hive Terpsichore’s sister hive, was ready for harvest last weekend (Sunday, July 12 was the big day). It really was unbelievable, but not because we doubted the bees, but because we were told (by various Guild members, library books, blogs, etc.) not to expect much (if at all) of a honey harvest the first year.

It’s hard for me to think of words to describe the experience, so I’d like to share pictures, a little video, and words as they ‘transpire’.

Cliché it may be, but ‘words fail’.

The adventure

New equipment: Extractor, capping tub, extra frames, sieve.

The hose was set to ‘mist’, the smoker was set, and armed with bunches of rosemary, oregano, and/or lavender (to brush bees, it’s best to use plants instead of brushes and/or leather), we all had our stations.

Jennifer and Mark lifted the heavy, honey –laden supers (one at a time) and placed them on the table. (keep in mind, there are four honey supers here, and we only harvested two of them)


The best tool, the one that lifts heavy, honey filled frames from the super.

a frame completely full of the most gorgeously golden honey!!

Brushing the bees gently from the frame with branches.


And then...


Each frame was brought to the capping tub. Another ingenious tool awaited us there, a simple screw on a piece of wood, allowing the frame to balance over the tub without crushing any of the honey and allowing a smooth capping ‘experience’. And experience it was!! This video is only about 16 seconds long, but it captures much of the beauty of the moment:

The extractor we have only takes three frames at a time, so after they are loaded in:



The crank is turned rapidly, much like a giant salad spinner. :)

Frames emerge free of most of the honey! The almost-empty frames are left out for the bees to clean.

The honey pours out from a spout into a sieved bucket.

In all, a bit over five gallons of honey was collected, and a large amount of gorgeous beeswax.
Five gallons=about 60 pounds of honey!

To be continued…but until then, Viva Hive Urania!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009




SO much to share, and it must wait until after work tonight! But honey was harvested on Sunday, and it was one of the most incredible experiences I've ever had. Many pictures and words forthcoming.

Happy Day!


(closeup of a bee from Terpsichore hive)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Am taking it a bit slowly tonight, just staying quiet. Today was a work day with lots of ups and downs so slow and peaceful is the goal tonight. :)

But what a joy to see this beauty this morning, the first of my beloved Dahlias this year!

These have been growing for 4 years now, with only one experiment of taking them out of the ground in the winter. Their gorgeous coloring and elegant leaves never cease to amaze me.

I'd like to experiment with pruning, so as to enlarge the blooms, but that takes much more time than I have to devote, so I do the best I can. Now, if someone could only show me how to keep Begonias in my area, I'd be very, very grateful! Enjoy your evening. :)

Monday, July 6, 2009

I'm due to post some pictures and updates. Hopefully in the next day or two (need to get the camera out too - forgot it today). I've been enjoying watching members of Terpsichore hive sitting and 'sipping' from the lion fountain. It's really sweet!

Went up to San Francisco with Seeds in the City yesterday, and visited a brand new beekeeping/honey store, Her Majesty's Secret Beekeeper. What an absolutely beautiful place! I really wish her all the best, and look forward to future visits there. Have a look at her blog - she's just started it, but there are pictures of her beautiful store.

Hope you had a great weekend.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I've just moved here...

Hello all,

It's hard to be inside at my desk when the light over the fields is so incredibly luminous. I want to be out there with my camera! The fields leading up to campus are turning that soft golden yellow and there are whisps of fog straying through an almost-blue sky. The effect of the bright sun shining through this is incandescant.

Anyway, just a quick note to say that I've just moved to Blogspot from Wordpress. I've migrated a few posts over here, but if you'd like to see the past posts, please feel free to visit: http://abeilleamiel.wordpress.com

Happy Wednesday!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

beehiving :)

They are busy, but …

Since Urania hive is pretty much overflowing with honey already (!!! yay !!!), we were excited to see what was going on…

Not overflowing with honey yet; in fact, almost all of the action is still in the the boxes below the extruder, and virtually none above. I would love to have another look later, especially since I have to remember that the bees had a lot of work to do on the one side of one box that had a little mold on it. They’ve been busy, but more likely than making lots of ‘extra’ honey, they’ve been cleaning. :) There was some burr come on the wood top under the telescopic cover, which made me excited, but the frames underneath were virtually empty.

More later, I’m sure – Honey Man will want to wake up and see what happened. Oh, that’s another thing – my first time out solo! :) It went well, but no pictures this time because of it :)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Summer Solstice

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Bits and pieces of the weekend, in pictures:

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But first, a thank you to the computer that makes blogging, art, music, etc. all happen.

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Fresh homemade peach and strawberry cobbler.

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Lots and lots of tomatoes (and peas) coming on their way

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Sweet Pea and Prayer Flag.

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Prayer Flag in the garden.

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Ruby Salai supervising.

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A field of young sunflowers and raspberries.

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Another prayer flag (near the fountain and roses). There are 5 in all, I think – 3 of them have honeybees on them. I tried to put one up on the fence near Terpsichore, but several drones gave me warning buzzes, so I honored them from a distance. They are very, very busy up there.

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A prayer flag for a special herb garden – if you look closely, it says ‘Go on, be a devil.’