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Desert Solitaire
by Edward Abbey

Hey! Cow!

Another lap around the celestial skating rink has come and gone, as have the corresponding festivities.  This year’s party was a bit scaled back from last year’s owing mainly to the fact that I’ve moved to another town and need some time to rebuild my forces.  Of course, by “scaled back”, I mostly mean that the party went on for something less than 24 hours this year.  I doubt that anyone could say that I was truly slack.

The day started with late breakfast in preparation for the Hey! Cow! tournament and wine tasting around the county.  For those not familiar, Hey! Cow! works as follows: each vehicle has a driver’s side team and a passenger side team.  The object of the game is to attract the attention of cattle.  Each team member is permitted one Shout per pasture.  The Shout consists of two words, the first being “Hey!” and the second being “Cow!”.  One point is scored for each cow that turns its head to look at the shouter.  At the end of the day, the scores are tallied and the winning team receives some concession from the losing team.  An excellent example of The Shout is as follows:

Experience suggests that the quality of The Shout is directly proportional to the number of vineyards visited.

Post-Hey!-Cow!, we returned to the Log House, where a crack team of specialists (which is to say, three of us with beers and hand drills) had assembled a dance floor the night before.  There was a potluck, there was music, there was square dancing and hula hooping, and there was an unusually high concentration of Italians.  It seems you just can’t keep Italians away from square dances.

So thanks to everyone who attended and contributed their energy and talents to a memorable evening.  The square dance floor will be making an encore appearance at Musicalia next weekend, and probably at other festivals throughout the summer.  Look for it!

Update: Additional Hey! Cow! footage follows:

Summer Hike

I did some backpacking on the AT this weekend between Daleville and Catawba.  A paltry 20 miles and I covered it a lot faster than I meant to, and so ended up with some time to kill up on McAfee Knob.  I set my bag down to make my morning coffee, and realized I had set it down right next to this beauty.  I initially thought whoa, snake! and then noticed the head and thought SHIT! COPPERHEAD! Fortunately, she didn’t seem too upset by it, and I went back to my breakfast and she to her sunbathing.  Thanks for being laid back, babe.

I didn’t take too many pictures during the hike, but the ones that I did take are here.

Burnin’ the Yule

Those of you who don’t have calendars, families, or contact with the outside world may not be aware, but there was a holiday this week. It’s called “Christ-Mas”, and it’s a time of year for shooting marshmellows out of your nose, playing dissonant ocarina music, engaging in deadly combat, and passing out under the piano. Truly a magical season.

This year, the clan came to my place, which meant no matching napkin holders and a tree made out of spare parts, but nobody seemed to miss all of that too much. The primary attraction, of course, was The Larvae, aka “Sharkypants”. For a guy who poops his pants multiple times per day, he’s pretty all right. We got along fine, anyway. Give him a few years, and I’m confident that his uncles will have him drinking and cursing like a champ, if he hasn’t been quarantined from us by then.

After dinner, we did a bit of token gift-swapping, but mostly just played games and hung out. Looks like we really are past the buying-lots-of-crap thing, at least until The Larvae becomes interested in things that don’t secrete milk. I’m going to start socking money away for his first drum kit. Merry Christmas, Mom!

In all, ’twas a fine holiday season. A shame we only do it once a year. Anyway, the full photo spread lives here.

Of Bees and Birthdays

First things first: thanks to all who helped to make my (2^5) birthday party the rousing success that it was. The announced hours were from 3-3, but I’m pleased to say that we really got started around 1:00 and didn’t wind down until 4am. Not quite a record, but a good run. There was yard bocce with gin and tonics, a Spiral Joy Band performance with red wine, capped off with late night old-time music and good ol’ corn squeezings and a surprise appearance by Leonard Nimoy. The cleanup was nearly as epic as the party. Fortunately, I had help with that part, too.

List of gifts, as I remember them: 1 Leonard Nimoy record, 1 Josh Hernandez CD with tote bag, 1 jar of corn liquor, 1 tablet of erectile medication, 3 packages of revitalizing eye patches, 1 Charles Bukowski pin, 1 diner-style spatula, 1 fig tree, 1 hibiscus. And probably some other stuff I just can’t recall due to item #3 in the aforementioned list.
For everyone who’s been wondering; dem bees are doing just great. The ladies of Troy had started to build comb out the top of the inner hive cover, so we added another set of deep frames and gave them plenty of new space. They’ve been reproducing, and there are a lot of them in there now. Ithaca will get their chance for a second story tomorrow. Many thanks to the Apostate Appalachian for her photographic assistance.

And for the attentive — yes, I cut my hair. It’s shorter than the day I was born. And feels good.

Ye Bees

Bees 2008
This was the big weekend — I went to North Carolina and picked up my bees. The installation was pretty quick and easy — I had the hives ready in advance, sprayed the bees down, popped open the package, set the queen in place, and dumped the ladies in. So much for the easy part. Now the hard part: managing them and keeping them healthy. Judging by the poop that’s collected on the outside of the hive, I’m afraid the girls have dysentery, hopefully just from the damp weather and travel stress. If it keeps up for a few days and they don’t clear it on their own, I’ll probably have to look into nosema treatment, which would be a bummer so early in the project.

I’ll check back with the girls in about a week to see if they’re still shitting the hive and to see how they’re getting on with their new queens. With any luck, I’ll be able to post photos of healthy brood in a couple of weeks. Anyway, the full photo spread is here.