{ Big News BIG NeWs !! }

I've been putting this off .. 

At first, I guess I didn't want not to externalize the happy news and possibly lose some of it to evaporation. 

So we've kept it in our hearts and swirling in our giddy bellies ... but at the same time we quietly posted this soundbite online and buzzed with delight (in fact, this is the way we told our family and friends ... just a random sound file titled
 { The Sounds of Anticipation }.

So time has passed, and passed well. 

I've searched for the perfect words to say, but I finally just settled on the diagram below : )

loVe !!!

-p&j .. & .. c&e .. & ?

   ** We don't know that it's twins ... the "babies" reference below is directed at you, babies : ) Although juwels keeps talking about triplets. Brave girl ....

    .... Oh, and for those of you who don't follow us on Facebook or Instagram -  I shaved my head.

Yes : )

    And no, it has nothing to do with becoming a father. I've been talking about it for years.



{ Follow Your Dreams }

*** Audio Blog ^ Up there : )

   I had an interesting dream last night, lucid. I know a lot of you know about lucid dreaming, but it's where you look around while you're dreaming and realize that you're dreaming. This shouldn't be very hard to do because things rarely make sense in your dream, hence the retelling of dreams which normally goes, "I was at my house, but it wasn't my house because this place was three stories tall and the walls were purple" .. that's what they call a "dream sign" .. the added two stories and purple walls, nonsense, but your brain actually shuts down the logic center when you're dreaming.

   It's a complicated thing when you realize that you're dreaming in the dream. For me, it normally happens in a stressful dream, like last night, because you're really trying to figure things out, find a solution, and with that tiny bit of stress induced logic, sometimes you'll look around and say, "This is not my beautiful house. This is not my beautiful life. This is a dream."

   But like I said, to awaken is complicated. For one, most times you can't stay asleep once you realize that you're asleep. It's a bit of a shocker, and it will normally pull you out of your dreams. This is unfortunate, because once you find out that you're dreaming, you can do anything ... or many things. Flying is one of my favorites. And if it was a stressful dream, you're instantly liberated from that situation, knowing it's not real.

   Staying asleep it tricky, especially if you take a moment to think that your body is lying someplace, paralyzed below the sheets, while you run wild in the dream world. Many artists and inventors find their works in dreams. The murder mystery novel I wrote came directly from a dream, and I'm constantly waking up with new ideas and realizations to write down. What a strange thing that we take for granted, that DMT trip that all must take every night - cats, dogs, priests, and school teachers, there's no opting out on these out of body travels and hallucinations.   

   Another interesting thing to consider: Once you know you're dreaming, you'll also have to accept the fact that nothing you're seeing around you exists, not the trees or the sky or the people around you. The physical surroundings won't pose much of a problem - once you become a dream artist (which I am not) you can change the sky, make it stormy, sunny, add a rainbow, but the people can be difficult.

   Example - the first lucid dream I ever had took place in the Winnie back when we were living on the city streets in Venice, and Juwels was there with me. She's in most of my dreams. Anyway, in the dream, I was getting into it with some homeless guy who was outside the Winnie's window making a ruckus. I told him to go get drunk and crazy someplace else, not wanting the cops or the neighbors to roll by and see him there outside our rig and think that we were together.

   The guy finally walked away with his cart, and when I popped my head back into the Winnie, I was annoyed that he even knew which motorhome was ours, thinking he might be nagry with me and vandalize it later when we were away. But then I looked down at my feet and saw that there was carpet. "Oh," I said in relief, "but this isn't our Winnie, we have bamboo floors." But when I turned back around to look at the front cab, it looked just like ours. I must have been having a strong night of awareness, because I burst out with, "This doesn't make sense. This is a dream! I'm dreaming !!"

   I was so excited that I ran over to juwels, who was sitting in a rolling computer chair (which was another thing that we don't have in the real Winnie) and I spun her chair around and yelled, "Babe, I'm dreaming! I'm dreaming!!"

   I didn't take a moment to consider that if I was dreaming and nothing was real, that would mean that juwels wasn't real either. But when I swiveled her chair around, still hollering about how I'd figured out that I was in a dream, I was a shocked to find that she had turned into a mannequin. I turned away from the thing to see that my other friend who was there was also sitting lifeless as a mannequin, and there was a baby mannequin lying on the floor. The bum, the carpet, the Winnie and everyone else, except for me, where not real, and I became panicked, saying, "I'm all alone, I'm All Alone!!"

   And then I woke up.

   Anyway, one of the spookiest things about the lucid dreaming deal is the "dream people" because although you create them, they aren't exactly robots to be controlled, they have their own agenda, and if you tell them that you think you're dreaming, they'll almost always tell you that you're not. In fact, they can get angry about it if you push the topic.

   I was sitting in a kitchen once with a few guys when I realize that I was dreaming, and I told them I was dreaming.

   "No you're not," they said.
   "Yes, I am. I can tell."

   This went back and forth, until one finally said, "So what if you are ?!!?"

   "So then none of this is real, and I can do anything I want," I said, picking up a stack of plates and dropping them on the ground.

   "What are you doing???" he yelled as they shattered.

   "It's not real," I said, "And you're not real either. I made you up."

   And then I woke up.

   So the key is to stay asleep, and awake in the dream, and stay cool about it. Nobody likes to be told that they don't exist, not even dream people. 

   I've had dreams were I've told juwels that it was all a dream, and rather than turning into a mannequin, she would just look up at me with her big brown eyes, so sad, and that would rip me from the dream. I've approached her before in the dream telling her that she could stay, and that I would play along with it, and that kind of worked. 

   But last night when I realized I was dreaming, in the middle of a beekeeping dream, I didn't tell her or anyone else that I knew I was dreaming, I just looked at the hives, all single stack hives (and we only have doubles, triples and quadruples) and I thought, these aren't my hives, I must be dreaming. It was a stressful dream with a fire and the fire truck and groups of men and all of our hives swarming away, and when I realized that it was all made up, I had the urge to spin around and yell, "This is all a dream !!" but thought better of it. Juwels was there, and there were all the men in uniform, working, and they wouldn't be too happy with me if I yanked the curtain down.

   So I turned back into the field, and saw Juwels standing there looking worried about the hives and the bees, and I thought that I'd give her a big hug, showing her I wanted her there and cared for her even in this made up reality, and then I was going to whisper in her ear that it was all just a dream and that we should go away from the drama and go have fun. But when I hugged her, she wouldn't hug me back. It was the strangest thing, like she knew that I knew. I asked her why she wouldn't hug me back, but she was barely animated. I tried it again later, and the same thing happened. I was happy that I'd awoken in the dream, and that I could stop worrying about the bees, but then I fell back into the dream and laid in the grass and just watched everybody hurrying around in their roles.

   We sleep 1/3 of our lives. That means that I've been asleep in this dream world for over 11 years. And the subconscious plays tricks on us in this other consciousness, not always fun. I'm fascinated with these years we spend paralyzed in bed with our logic sensors turned off, and little by little, I've been trying to wake up to these scenes and fly around the room or bring back the dead.

   There are some really interesting Stanford studies on lucid dreaming, one of which where they play back a recording to the test subject (in their own voice) which says, "Hey - Brian, you're dreaming. Look around. This is all just a dream."

   Maybe I'll try that : ?

That's all for dreaming for now, loVe,



{ Spouting about Holiday }

    Juwels is taking a nap. She’s been  taking one almost every day these past couple of weeks. She’s deep charging before the holiday rush. I told her to figure out which muscles in her shoulder normally seize up on her every holiday, and work them, stretch them, strengthen them. Get acupuncture –before- you're hurt. I can’t have her talking about her “dead arm” again this season. It’s too painful, for me, gritting my teeth and helpless to help.

   “Should we cancel these orders?” I’ll ask. “I can just tell them that we’re dead. They’ll find other indie artists to support.”

   But we could find uses for the money, and we both know this, so she declines, not wanting to stop in the first place, but just mentioning that her arm has no felling, and that she’s looking down on it and not knowing who’s arm it is, but I’m a fixer, and wish I had some Caractacus Potts skills to help swipe those candles, and fry those eggs and wash those dishes, but I don’t, so I just pre-trim her wicks and "fire" her from time to time. This happened last year, and I did her job and mine, and banished her to bed with a hot water bottle. Oh, the holiday’s are fun. That feast of feasts where no other animal could ever catch so many fish in such a time, and even if they could, how could they eat them ? Unnatural, this holiday harvest, but I didn’t make the rules to the game, and we just brace ourselves.    

   We’ve been doing this long enough to know what’s coming, growing each year, well, besides that first year when we accepted an order to supply the entire Anthropologie franchise  with a twist ending of, surprise, a feature in the holiday catalogue and web sales. Ha Ha Ha …

   We've got stories about drowning in milk and honey …

   That was madness. Seriously madness. Sixteen hour shifts, everyday, and “days” consisting of 7pm to 11, 12, or 1pm the next day.  Not sure why we worked through the nights - I think we just slowly burned ourselves later and later into the night, and woke up later and later, until we'd crossed over that daily divide. Vampires? 
   We were freshly moved from sunny Los Angeles to the mountain, shacked up in a warehouse (we couldn’t fit the wax alone for that single order in the Winnie … by the way, I always found it crazy that Anthro would be so bold as to book a forty-eight-thousand dollar order with us after seeing the etsy interview where we made no secret of the fact that we’d just started out and operated off the tiny four burner stove in our 24 foot Winnebago. How did they think we’d get it all done in two months … a month and a half, really. But I figured they just thought about buying and not making, and thought, “they’ll figure it out.”

   We almost didn't ...  
   And to top it all off, we’d just invested most of our etsy interview money in a booth at the California Gift Show (this was before we knew about Anthropologie) but we went to the show anyway, no refunds, and we booked a ton of indie stores. And all this before we’d really done the math to see if it made sense to do wholesale at all, where we'd be selling everything 50% off… Shut up and GO! Ha Ha Ha. . The American Dream, but forget about sleep.) 
   That order alone could be a chapter or three. The shop heater was out, and the studio mates who worked below us could be cold and strange and inconsiderate. The roof leaked, but that didn’t matter because it was so cold inside that the puddles froze. We were on the backside of the building, in a shadow, with ice slicks, and game-show-style pallet stacks on hour 28 of the shift. 

   And Juwels broke her pinky as we frantically yanked pallet straps, and one snapped back on her.

   She cried, more from exhaustion than pain, but I'm sure it hurt. And the truck driver just stood there with a stupid look on his face, waiting beside us with his floor dolly and idling truck in the snow, and I wanted to scream at him to go away and stop staring at us. And I wished he’d just told us that he was in no big hurry when we’d talked about our crazy last shift before the shipping deadline. Maybe we wouldn’t have snapped that strap? Maybe it was just a warning of something bigger? 

   And this was just the internet segment of their order, less than half, and on we worked, eating cereal and fried eggs at four in the morning, and choking down green powdered super foods in place of salads.

   I didn’t want the money anymore. I just wanted the job to be done and over, and to have the two of us set free from this crazy contract.

   Since we had little money in our startup, there was an investor involved in dealing with the realities of producing this order. She was a woman from a 1950's novel, a small but very wise and powerful woman from the Hollywood hills. We used to watch her cats and plants and swim naked in her pool while she was off in Paris for fashion week. Those were good little getaways. The Winnie would have a break from the streets and the nasty notes and tickets left below her wiper back in Venice and sit empty and at a severe angle in Barbara's magnolia shaded driveway.

   Anthro wouldn’t pay until thirty (45) days after they inventoried the product, but we tightened our belts and got it done in a blur of beeswax and red sleepless eyes. We sent that spooky amount of money back to Hollywood with a thank you card and a gift certificate for a float in a local deprivation chamber. 



   Then we got to work on the pre-booked store orders and tag teamed etsy sales. That was our first holiday, happening at the end of a nightmare move, but at the beginning of a movement. Last holiday wasn’t as bad. Chia did break her leg in the middle of the madness and had to live in the house (under the table) and be carried out every two hours through the night to "go potty" .. but she's potty trained now, both of them are since ezzie had to move in and go out nightly, too. She doesn't like being alone ... But we had a helper, two helpers, and this year, we’re doing it mostly alone, intentionally, and we’ll be cutting back on wholesale and cutting it all off a tad early if need bee. We’re not looking for Everest : ) 
   Aaaaanyway ... more true stories to come. And !! To all our friends who think they’ll bee getting pollen arts goodies for friends and family this holiday, feel free to send your orders in advance. We'd loVe to get some of it going now !! And you can even pay later if you’d like : ) We trust our friends !! We're just looking to dig some irrigation channels to future fields and be as sustainable as possible : ) 

    Here's a list of all our candles - { Click } 

We'll make sure you get a Free Bee !!

 ---- > email us at pollen arts (a)t) g male : ) 

loVe !!!! 
p&j .. & c&e .. &?


{ Bees in an Apple Tree }

alOha Friends : ) 

    We got a call the other day while we were off walking in the woods with the goats (and Maya the chicken - Juwels insisted) and we found out that there was a late swarm stranded on the other end of town. (It's fun never knowing when you're going to get one of these calls. In the morning, you've got one plan and in the evening, you're up in somebody's apple tree with a crowd gathering on the sidewalk.) 

   When bees swarm at this time of year, it's pretty much a suicide mission. The flowers have all froze, so they can't make honey or wax, and they'd basically just die in a tree : ( So were were very happy to come to the rescue !! 


     Here's a few pics from the catch - the bees are living with us now, happy and warm : )

   We were just talking to a beekeeper friend of ours up here in Flag, and when he mentioned that he doesn't waste his time trying to catch swarms anymore, we told him that he should refer any calls to us. 

   He's been the bee guy up here for over 30 years, and everybody knows him, and this suggestion turned out to be a good move because just 3 days later, he had a lead for us : ) 

   Hey said the bees were on the ground (not such a good sign as they should be hanging in a tree) but we suited up and head out to see what was going on and if we could save them. 

   The cluster was tiny, and I poked around with a finger to see if the queen was in there, but we decided that we better just get them into the box and not scare them into the air. if they didn't have a queen, they wouldn't be a functional colony, but we can always combine them with one of our other small hives : )  

   We had a whole box of fresh honeycomb from one of the hives we recently lost, so these bees would have a place to live and lay right off the bat and not have to build comb from scratch. A lot of the time when people try and catch a swarm, the bees just leave again, so having extra motivation for them to stay really helps.  

   Most times, swarms are starving when you get to them, so we brought along a cocktail of spring water and organic evaporated cane juice as food, and I had the idea to sprinkle it into the empty comb before placing it over the bees. This tempted them up from the grass and into the box, and they ate with glee : ) 

   As I was sitting there waiting for the bees to climb aboard, a neighbor across the street came walking over and said, "You guys have bees over there, too?" 

   I asked him if they had bees, and he pointed to a beautiful overturned octopus of an apple tree, and said, "Yeah, a bunch of them."

   He told us that an old fence had been taken down a few days ago, and that the bees had come from there. He also mentioned that he didn't know what to do with them, and he was worried about his kids, so he'd sprayed them the other night with long distance wasp spray : ( 

   Next season, we're going to start advertising like crazy, so everyone will know who to call when they see a swarm : ) 

   Luckily he didn't kill them ... probably just shot into the tree and ran like hell, and we were able to inadvertently find out about them through his neighbor's call.  


   We checked out the cluster. It was much bigger than the one on the lawn, and we figured they must have been from the same swarm. A few minutes later, I saw another clump lower in the tree, so we got ready to catch them, too, and reunite the family : )

This is the smaller clump - not sure why they split off. Maybe they were getting too hot together ?

   Luckily, we'd brought along the bee vac. We plugged it in at the second house and got to work !

   I got a big bunch of them, and then emptied the chamber into the hive, and we wondered if we'd gotten the queen in that batch. 

   Normally, if you get the queen in the box, you'll see bees standing on the edge of the box and "fanning" ... this is when they stick their butts in the air, and fan the pheromone to the others in the tree,  saying, "Come on down here .. the queen has moved !!" 

   And we were happy to see a bunch of striped bee butts in the air after the first round : ) While I was back up in the tree, Juwels flipped through the frames and somehow found the queen !! She was a tiny queen, a sweet little pixie : )  

   I did two more passes with the bee vac (this is rigged up to have very low power, just enough to move them down into the vented chamber) and every time I'd empty the load, less and less bees would go back up into the tree (the queen leaves some kind of scent on the spot in the tree, and it takes the bees a little while to figure out that she's in the box and not in the tree anymore.)
   The lady of the house loaned us some perfume, and after I'd removed all the bees from the spot for the last time, I sprayed the area with the perfume - strong stuff - and that threw the others off the scent, and they just kind of hovered around. 

   We asked if we could leave the box under the tree until after dark, when it got cold, and she was happy to help in anyway, and when we came back at around 8pm, there wasn't a single bee in the tree, and everybody had moved in : ) 

   We covered up the entrance, strapped everything down, and let the little girls ride in the truck with us.

   The catch was a success, and they're now happily part of the Fair Share Honey crew !!

Thanks for reading, loVe,


Here's a couple videos of other swarms and hive relocations we've worked with : ) 

and ... 


tags: flagstaff, arizona, bee removal, hive removal, 
swarm removal, friendly bee relocation, flagstaff beekeepers


{ A Meditation on the Backyard }

alOha : )

    We were just flipping through old videos on our Youtube channel, and I don't think we ever posted this one on the blog ...

     A meditation on the backyard : )

  ... . and almost silent film.



   .... oh, this one's fun too : )

{ the holy goat } 


{ A long day's journal - raw }

  I’m sitting at my desk. Dark and stormy outside. Juwels, spent after the day's events, is asleep on the futon in the piano room. We both laid there for a while,listening to an audio book, but then I woke up to find her sleeping on my shoulder, and her head felt heavy on me, and I felt a clarity in my head that meant I wouldn’t sleep again for a while. I made coffee and scooped vanilla ice cream on top, and now here I am. Warming up my hands, watching the grey clouds pass through the wall of windows and feeling the breeze from the open window to my left.
   The goats are sleeping under the packing table, happy to be out of the rain, chewing their cud, and breathing this indoor air and exhaling their magic. And I imagine the indoor plants soak it up, non-grounded, hanging, potted, but happy to have the out breath of man and beast and sleeping beauty.
   Yesterday was a long day. Starting early with a bee swarm catch 50 miles south of here, down from the mountain and in the desert, which was still hot in my bee suit even in mid September. We got a call the day before, just before dinner, while we were still down in Sedona. 

   “It’s the lady who lives next door to where we used to keep the hives in the desert,” Juwels said to her visiting sister as she answered the phone and walked away from the parked truck.
   “You’re kidding?” I heard her say, and I thought the lady might be calling to say that our bees had attacked her dogs or something, but we’d moved our bees up onto the mountain for a feast of wildflowers almost two months ago.
   “So they’re just hanging in your tree?” Juwels asked. “How big of a clump would you say it is?”
   And I knew it was a swarm. We’d given this woman our number on one of our first visits to the desert, just in case there was ever a problem, but we’d also mentioned that she should share our number with any of her friends if they found a swarm that we could relocate.
   It was late, and there was still dinner to make up on the hill in Flagstaff, and we were all a little groggy from sleeping in the heat of the day at Buddha Beach. And Lily was in town all the way from New York. But bees in a cluster at this time of year would never make it on their own. The mesquite had stopped blooming down there, and the Cat Claw, too. They’d never have enough time to follow the scouts to the location, build comb, and fill it with winter stores of honey before the freeze, so we’d have to come save them. We wanted to, of course. But it had already been a long day, and we were tired, and Camp Verde was a good hundred miles of driving, climbing ladders, and shaking bees. And Juwels had chili to make. So I said I’d go alone. 

   Back up on the mountain, I picked through old frames of honey comb, filled a box, found the straps, and plugged the entrance hole with beeswax to keep everybody inside when I raced back up the hill at seventy five miles an hour.
   They hold over in these clusters when their tanks run dry during the swarm, or if there’s a problem with the location for the new hive, and they need to rest and regroup while the scouts find another suitable place. 
   I was being lazy before. Not wanting to drive and struggle with the swarm and trying to get them off the tree and into the box. But there was a Queen in there, a swarm of chosen workers and nurse bees, and maybe even some babies who’d been invited to make the split. There were all the makings of life, minus the hive and stability of the honey stores and pollen, and I’d be happy to see if I could get them to move in with us, and work the following season and enjoy life under our wing.
   But then we got a call, missed a call and got a message. “Hey guys, it’s Karen. I just wanted to mention that the bees aren’t hanging on a branch. They’re actually on the trunk of the tree, up towards the top. So I’m not sure how you’re going to shake them into the box. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know what it looks like. Let me know what I can do. I have a big ladder and a smaller six-foot one. Okay, thanks guys. Bye.” 

   So that was it. There’d be no way for me to do it on my own, and Juwels said to just to wait for her, and that she’d come the next morning. Early. And that we’d do it before she headed off with everybody to the Grand Canyon.
   That sounded good to me, and I took a shower, put away the tools, and sat in my padded rocking chair with little Chia on my lap and a hot water bottle behind my poor neck, which I’d thrown out sleeping the night before last.
   The chili was slow coming, and we ate late with the shredded cheese sticking to the spoons, and pads of butter melting on the blue corn cakes with honey. Night sucked us under, and we woke an hour later than we wanted to, but hit the road with the feeling of adventure as the sweetener to our thermos of strong dandelion root tea. 

   Jack rabbits ran in our path on the last line of dirt roads, and we slowed to a crawl beside the chain-link pens of the neighbor’s yard. Juwels squealed and called all sorts of things at the three bearded dwarf goats and big black Nubian. She sounded like a child begging for something, or finally receiving something which tickled her, and then we crossed the bridge and found the house at the bottom of a steep dirt road that caused the front-heavy truck to slide out and kick up rocks.
   Karen flagged us down the drive, and pointed to a tall skinny pine with a small dark lump near its tip. We talked as she showed me where the ladder was, and I tucked it into the resistance of the lower branches, crawled around and shimmed a floating leg, and climbed up to take a look. They were in two clusters, with the higher one being much smaller. Why two clusters, I wondered. Could the Queen be in the upper? Shrouded by security, but kept cooler than she’d be within the bigger ball below? Should I try to sweep that one into the box first?  
   I put on my suit and tall leather boots, but soon after changed them for my open-ankle  hiking sneakers when the wooden heal of my boot slipped on the upper step, almost sending me eight feet down through branches and onto a small but fully-functional metal windmill.
   Juwels steadied the ladder below, wearing a suit but no gloves, and in just a minute, she’d shed her veil below the cloud of confused and buzzing, but very sweet bees. Karen watched from the sidelines and talked and smoked in her cast iron loveseat.
   Normally, you want to shake the bees directly into a hive box with honey comb, this way the bees fall into a familiar situation and more of them stay. But this clump of bees was up high, and incidentally the thickest bunch of them were on the opposite side of the tree, away from me and above a steep embankment where I couldn’t setup the ladder. And I was happy when Juwels came up with the idea of just shaking them into a plastic bucket and then dumping that into the hive.
   I hugged my left arm, the one with the bucket, around the narrow trunk of the pine and below the bees. I leaned in, off balance, but Juwels kept the ladder planted below, and I shook the tree violently. The bees dropped and floated and buzzed, and I handed the bucket down to Juwels.
   She dumped the remaining bees into the hive on the ground, and many of them flew back into the air and back into the tree. We waited a moment, watching the ball of bees collecting again in that spot on the tree where the Queen had left her pheromone. A good group of the bees stayed on the comb, but I didn’t see any bee butts in the air “fanning”.
   Normally, if you get the Queen in the box, you’ll find bees all along the edges fanning their chemical message to the swarm and letting them know that the Queen had changed locations. She was still in the tree, I believed, and not many bees would stay in the box until she was onboard. The clump over my shoulder was almost the same size as when we’d started, and I wondered if this was going to work.
   A few minutes later, I hugged the tree again, steady, and then shook a good chunk of bees into the bucket, and Juwels dumped them into the comb. Karen offered us some raw desert honey for the job, and after smearing it on the walls and into the comb like thick marmalade, the bees seemed more inclined to stick around and fill their hungry bellies, but many more bees went back up into the tree.
   I walked over into the shade, feeling the beads of sweat rolling down my chest and stomach and wanting breakfast and sugar in my blood, and Juwels set into the frames, searching for her highness.
  “Oh !! There she is !!” she said, and I came over to see, and Karen joined.
   She was a good looking Queen, small and tapered and natural looking. A fine Queen, and she walked around, looking over empty honey comb and no doubt sending signals to the colony. A few bees started fanning, reporting the location of the Queen, but probably speaking of the gobs of honey and comb, too. And bees started to drift in.
   I shook the tree again and again, sending buckets down to Juwels, and finding that more and more bees were staying in the box, but many were still reading the Queen’s message up in the tree, too, so I lit the smoker, and stood there at the top of the ladder and bellowed a cloud of smoke in the breeze, and kept the stragglers at bay. We’d used citrus oil on the branch of another swarm before as a means of covering up the pheromone, and upon hearing this, Karen offered us some organic eucalyptus spray, and I coated the branch. I shook another stubborn bundle down after that, and then smoked some more. We tied the tightly sealed hive down in the back of the truck with the majority of the colony intact, hugged and said our goodbyes.
   It was a good catch, and we couldn’t have asked for sweeter bees, and now it was time to race back up the hill to make food and drink for the day’s trip to the Canyon. I stayed back that day, and let Juwels visit with Lily and Anthony solo. A few days earlier, I’d taken a new friend up on a last minute invite to a private camp and hot spring just before Lily had arrived, and it was longer in the car and hotter in the camp and louder in my mind those couple of days than I’d anticipated, and with Sedona and now the swarm catch, I was ready to stay home and unwind.
   I woke up from a daydream in the hammock chair with the breeze turning me slowly and the tree house creaking overhead like an old ship, and I found that it was almost time for me to meet with a craigslist buyer who was coming to take away the camper shell of the old truck.
   Juwels was already staring into the abyss by now, listening to the many voices and dialects on the rim of the canyon with the sound of shutters and camera phones miniaturizing the Grand Canyon all around.
   Clay, a young guy who reminded me of the kid from Donny Darko and also my dearly departed best friend, Brian, showed up right at three thirty, and we began our dance of unbolting the shell from my old truck and discussing the options for attaching it to his. He’d bought the wrong clamps and brought no help, so I became the volunteer foreman, with him acting as buyer and assistant. I told him that we could just drill and bolt the shell to his truck and skip the clamps, and he jumped at the opportunity to get it done and over with while he had use of my tools and help, and I made it clear that I was no professional, and that things could go haywire, but that I was happy to help.
   He didn’t leave for three hours, and we just barely finished before dark.
   For the old me, this might have been maddening. And if I was alone or with somebody who really knew me, I might have howled and growled and hated every re-do, every permanently misplaced hole in the truck bed and readjustment. But he had a great disposition for it, even commenting on how he excelled at obnoxious situations, so I had him on the more awkward end of the wrench, sprawled in the truck bed, straining for a grip on the bolt, and he was laughing and swearing near the end, and I just sat with it, taking the next rational step, forward or back, and I watched the cloud shapes above the peaks as I cranked the ratchet and kept an eye on the goats across the yard, standing on two legs and eating the ripe leaves off the neighbor’s tree, but never did I get upset or unpleasant, just more Zen and humored by the never-ending nature of it.
   We finished, after drilling way too many holes into his new truck. And after I'd already put the drill away and come back to count the payment still to come, I looked at the tailgate lying open and realized that we’d never even made sure that everything closed right, and I said, “I just had a not-so-funny thought, but we’ll see in a second.”
   He looked confused as I closed the bed of his truck, and then tried to close the door on the camper shell only to find that we’d installed it too far forward, and that it wouldn’t seal, so we did it again, faster this time, and I joked about how we should go into business together, and he said, “Yeah, right? But we’ll charge by the hour.”
   “We’ll make a fortune.”
   And in the end, he threw all his climbing gear back into the truck, and paid me an extra twenty dollars on the purchase price, for my “troubles.”
   I walked up the hill and down the hill, returning the extra tools I’d borrowed from the neighbors when we’d hit a hard bolt that never broke lose, but rather had to be drilled out, and then I rounded up the goats, set them up in their nap spot under the packing table in the Hive, took a shower, and felt about as good as I’ve felt in a long while, the master of my own madness. Toying with that install, wrenches and hot drilled metal shavings. I’d won in a way I’d never won before. There was a kind of ecstasy in watching that situation unfold again and again and not letting it bother me for a second. It was as if I’d sucked its power rather than the other way around, and I looked forward to the next opportunity I’d have for a three-hour Zen practice of futility. 

   Juwels returned home shortly after, with stories of lightning over the canyon, and pictures and a fresh pair of native suede moccasins which her sister had made a present of on a roadside stopover, and we ate another late dinner of potato Indian curry by the light of many beeswax candles and said goodnight.
   It was a long day, and a good day, and the bees are now setup on the hill, so far so good : )




{ The Moth & The Spider }

**** Above you'll find the audio version of this : ) 

  I was reading it to juwels, and just punched the recorder ..


I found a moth and a spider stuck in the bathroom sink a while back. Not sure what was keeping the moth there since she had wings – maybe her wings were wet, maybe she was old and tired?  But I found the whole thing odd. This predator and prey, both stuck in the same situation, victim to gravity and tough footing, not enemies anymore, but strange comrades.  

Anyway, must have been warming up my hands for the morning, so I wrote this.  


"You know.." the spider said to the moth, "if you just hopped on my back for a few seconds, I could scramble us both a little closer to the rim, and then you could flap us the rest of the way right out of here.

The moth had been hiding on the other side of the bathroom sink, trying to catch her breath. She stopped breathing at the shear thought that he'd spoken to her, this great fanged creature who just moments ago had tried to kill her.

They’d both fallen into the sink when he'd ambushed her from behind the electric toothbrush earlier that same morning.

"What do you say?" the spider asked, noticeably tired after dashing for the rim more times than he could count. 

She didn't say anything but finally caught her breath from where ever it'd gone. She’d been in a panic and it was all she could do to stand on her own legs. But now she could see that he was tired; she could see the glow around him change from red to blue to green-yellow.

The spider, and impatient fellow, got tired of looking across the drain at her googly eyes and coiled tongue, and started walking slowly clockwise away from the faucet in her direction.

He tried to speak softly this time, explaining how they'd both benefit from the exchange, but he knew by his second word that he sounded cocky and taunting, so he paused to reconsider.

If he spooked her now, with the fright in her blood, she just might get enough juice to clear the rim and leave him stuck and hungry, not even having the chance to drink her tired body to a shell. And this nutrient boost could maybe give him the juice to get up and out himself. But he was too tired to catch her, so he tried to talk instead.    

So with all of this in mind, he walked back to where he'd been before, at the farthest possible spot on the sink, directly across. That's how she kept it - with every move he made, so did she. "I'm too tired to catch you and anyway, and if I ate you, I'd be stuck in here forever. Do you think I want that?" he said. "The only way I get out of here is with you, and you with me."

She started to speak softly in a voice he could hardly hear (spiders aren't known for their hearing) and was interrupted mid sentence by a drip of the faucet which fell like a wrecking ball.

"I'd never trust a spider," she said, "you're the reason that I'm in here now, because you're vicious, and you have no respect for the life of another, it's just who you are."

He started speaking over her, politely. His voice was quiet now, like a soft piano coming in behind a sad monologue. Devils advocate of sorts, spoken by the devil himself. "Moth," he said, "You've never really been in a situation where you might have to trust a spider. The only thing that you need to trust and believe is that I want to live, too."

She uncurled her long tongue and spiraled it around her bulbous eye. She always did this when she was nervous.  

   There was a lot of talking, the moth growing more bold and the spider sinking more lowly into his funk, which would soon turn to a last burst of frustration, and he knew if he got to this point, he'd surly pounce the moth, making a liar out of himself and most likely boosting his life force only to watch it fade again, endure it and fear it, shutting down.

   They came to an agreement only after he'd tried again to walk to her, and she gave him such chase that he said, "Don't do that to me again. If I lose anymore energy, I won't be able to make good on my part with these eight legs. I only have enough for one go, and I can't make any promises at that."

She came to him this time, and as she started to climb on his back, he shuttered a little, and this spooked her.

He felt her squeeze harder, and he called out, "Ahhhh .. gentile!! That really tickles!" He started to laugh, and couldn't stop. This felt wonderful, but scared him too, because he felt out of control, and he'd never really felt a tickle before. He only knew the word because he'd caught and killed a fly once as his wife lie laughing hysterically and screaming, "That tickles!!!"

He was surprised to have remembered the word when he heard it pass by his wiry mustache. "Tickles??"

He normally went blank while killing, eating, because he really didn't enjoy it to be honest. He was a curious fellow, and most times had sadly killed the actor of the play he'd just been watching. He'd try to hold back and wait as long as possible, soaking in every word that these social creatures would say, the little things they'd do. (spiders don't have friends, only competition and prey. It's lonely, but he'd always snap when the hunger came on. It wasn't him really, just the voice that kept yelling, "It's us or them! Do you want to be a suicide?? Do you?" And the spider in him came out.  

The moth stopped what she was doing with her little barbed slippers, knowing well what tickles were. Her wings kind of tickled her flanks as they'd dry out from the dewy morning and the fuzz would rise in thousands of tickely pricklers (that's what she would call them).

He caught his breath, and said, "nobody's ever tickled me before," almost to himself.

"What?" the moth said, "never?"

He furrowed his brows.

"Not even your mom?" 

"I don't really remember meeting her," he said, "there were so many of us.."

"Nobody really touches me, hell, until ... you know." He chattered his feet on the cast iron sink, and the moth thought it sounded like a little tune, an ominous one at that, like something from an old western showdown. "Plus," he went on, "The venom gets them pretty quickly, they never really feel a thing. It's actually much faster and painless than the death of a spider, that slow and painful rotting of the body and mind. Nobody takes us out with a mercy spike. Death comes slow and lingers." 

She noticed a few scratches on his spongy back, probably put there by his victims as they tried to avoid the fangs. "Wait !" the moth said before he could continue, "How do I know you're not just going to kill me when we get out?"

"I won't," he said, almost offended. "Just trust me. I can't make you believe, but what other choice do you have?" He no doubt was offended, transitioning from one of the closest and most pure encounters he'd ever had, directly to being called a murderer again. He had no choice, it was his cross to bear, but he felt able to be something else the rest of the time. He loved life in his own kind of way, not so much his own life but observing the lives of others, even if it was through these hard black eyes.

She dug into his flanks again as he spoke so animatedly, but this time he didn't laugh, he was somewhere else. "Okay, let's just do it before I change my mind," she said.

He did that little tap dance again, and she shuttered. He stepped a few paces back, closer to the drain to get running speed. She looked up through the top of her eye and saw a giant bead of water hanging just above them. "We're not going to make it," he said, "I can't get high enough, and you're not strong enough to make up the difference. Unless.... " 

"What?" she asked. 

"If I give you just a little bit of venom ..." 

"Give me?" 

"Yes, just a tap. It will spike your adrenalin, and you'll pull us right out of here."

"You want to bite me??" 

"No, well ... yes, kind of, but just a little bit .. a little bite."  

She was not interested, and tried to climb off, but he reached around with his two middle legs on each side, and held her there.

She screamed, but there was no point. She dug her barbed slippers into him, but he didn't notice. "Here's the new options, okay, and I can't keep toying with you on this .. I'm tired. You're going to make us both dead, okay? Just listen, and then make your call. What I do next happens regardless. We're either going to run for the rim, I stick you, at the last moment, and you blast us out of here, or I'm just going to eat you right here and now." (the second part was a bluff, he was a thinker, and would have moved onto some other kind of negotiation .. no doubt harder now with her heart racing so quickly.) 

She was really scared. He could feel her heat on his back, and he thought that he might not even need to stick her with this new energy that she had. And he wondered if he might just be able to pretend to get her mid scramble, tap her with his foot not fang. After all, it was a tricky cocktail that he was serving .. only once before, when he was just learning to hunt, did he stick a beetle with less than enough juice. This sent the beetle into a chemical frenzy that almost cost him two of his legs.

He did his tap dance. She grabbed on tight, and as he made the halfway part of the bowl, near vertical now, she started flapping with strong strides that left him feeling weightless. He forgot about the pretend bite, and before he knew it, they were both hovering above the rim.

He called out in victory, and just then, she let go. 

Gravity had him now, and although he swung all his legs and even cast a ribbon of silk, he fell in silence to the bottom of the bowl. It didn't hurt him, physically. He caught the slope of the bowl with his fuzzy back, and just watched her beautiful grey-white wings flap away as he slid farther down and almost dropped into the drain. 

His reflexes popped him immediately back onto his feet, and in anger, he dashed up the bowl, catching the rim with just one leg.

As he hung there for a second, he could see that the moth was still there, crying. His grip slipped, and down he went. He was confused over why she hadn't left, and what on earth she could've been crying about. She was out. She was safe. 

He saw her antennas come over the ridge first, and as she looked in, a tiny tear, which caught the full metallic spectrum of color, fell in and streaked a glossy line along the path they'd just covered on the cast iron.

"I'm sorry," she said, "It wasn't me. It's the fear that got me. I didn't even feel myself let go." 

He considered this for a moment, "Well, then just fly back in. We'll do it again, and you won't let go." 

"I can't. I'm too tired now .. I can hardly move." She couldn't look at him in there, looking so sad and scared, confused and hopeful, and she took a slow step back. 

"Wait !!" he called out. "I never stuck you..." 

She figured he meant to say that if they tried again, with the venom, that they could make it, together, but she said, "Even if you did it this time, I could do make it. I just don't have it in me. I'm not a fighter like you .. I barely have enough flight left in me to leave this house." 

"I believe you," he said, "I just wanted you to know that I never stuck you." 

She flew away just as a man with long wild hair passed her in the doorway, and as she turned the corner, still crying, she heard grumbling and the hiss of the faucet. 

The end.