Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Apprenticeship Beegins!

Two years ago, my Dad decided that we should have a beehive in the backyard. We all thought he was joking but he was very persistant and kept talking about it. I was actually excited, which doesn't come as much of a surprise because I tend to get overly excited about things that are suggested, most of which never end up happening. I like to think I was slightly instrumental in his beekeeping endeavours since I always encouraged the idea and I bought him "Beekeeping for Dummies" to read on a long flight to Peru a few years back. We actually did end up getting bees the following spring! We had the bees for two summers, and even gave away honey as wedding favours at my brother's wedding this past October, but unfortunately the colony didn't survive the winter. I love the idea of having bees, and I've read a beekeeping textbook to try to learn more about bees, but since I wasn't home last summer, I haven't really had much of a chance to learn how to bee-keep. Since our colony died over the winter, my Dad decided to replace them with not just another colony, but two more. When I learned that we were getting new bees, I decided that I would be my Dad's unofficial apprentice this summer and learn as much as possible about keeping bees so that I could have my own colony when I eventually have property of my own. Since the weather was so crappy at the beginning of the summer, it wasn't until two weeks ago that we actually got our bees.

It seems strange that you can buy a colony of bees. Strangest of all, the bees come in a box. We literally bought two boxes of bees, that emit a low hum that is somewhat calming until you start to actually think about it, at which point it gives you goosebumps, especially when they're in the backseat of the car with you. The boxes each come with a Queen in a plastic casing so she doesn't get lost and 3 frames of her royal subjects. When you open up the box of bees, you transfer the 3 frames into your beehive. When you take the Queen out and place her in the hive and seal it up, her followers stick with her and make the new hive home since that's where their Queen is.
Two Boxes of Bees!

Beehives have layers (supers), and each super has 10 frames. The bottom super doesn't produce honey because it is usually left for the bees to use for personal use (winter reserves, etc) and then you can take the honey from the upper layers. When you first buy them, you only get 3 frames full of bees, but as the hive matures, all ten frames in the bottom super fill up with bees and when you add honey supers they fill up too as the colony expands.

Getting the Smoker Ready for the Transfer

Transferring a Frame From the Box to the Hive

Even though we only got the bess two weeks ago, we opened up the hives to see how they were doing a couple days ago and already the colonies have expanded exponentially! The 10 frames are not quite full but all contain bees and the hives are buzzing happily. I love bees! This post wasn't very technical but I'll be sure to post about all my adventures in apprentice beekeeping this summer!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

New Lead

I went in to have my defibrillator tested out on Tuesday. The procedure meant having my heart forced into arrhythmia just to see if my defib will shock it back into a normal rhythm. They put you to sleep while it happens and it only takes about 2 minutes so it's not nearly as bad as it sounds. The pre-admission for this test includes going to the pacemaker clinic where they checked out all my stats. I use my pacemaker about 3.5% of the time, but they found out that one of the two leads that go from the device to my heart muscle, has dug too deep into my heart muscle and was at risk for perferating the muscle completely. There was some fluid built up around the lead on the outside of the heart from the irritation. My cardiologist recommended that I get another echo just to check everything out. Based on the echo, the cardiologist thought that the perferated lead could cause issues in the future and that I should really have the lead replaced so that it can't poke through the muscle completely in the future which could cause bleeding and all sorts of problems. These meant surgery all over again!

Since I've been home for the summer, I joined a half marathon clinic at the Running Room and have been running 3-4 times a week. Our distance is up to 16 km already! I also borrowed a road bike and have been biking several times a week and swimming several times a week in hopes of participating in my very first sprint triathelon laster this summer or early fall. After having to give up everything at Christmas to recover from the initial surgery when the pacemaker and defib were put in, I finally felt like I had my groove back and like I was finally getting back into shape. I was happy! I had a routine and training buddies (who all happened to be men in their 50s..but at least they were reliable and always showed up for practices and swims!) and events to train for. Having surgery again, and having to take off 6 weeks AGAIN and losing the ability to lift more than 5 pounds or move my left shoulder AGAIN after finally getting to do all that stuff again was more than a let down, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't cry when I found out. I could have opted out of surgery, but with the risks of internal bleeding and punching a whole in my heart with this wire, there really was no point in ignoring it. I figured if I needed the surgery I might as well get it over with and get it done asap. Plus since I was already admitted to the hospital, they could rush me through and get me in asap instead of being put on a wait list that was a few months long.

I was admitted Tuesday night, spent Tuesday night in the hospital, got to go home on pass for Wednesday and Wednesday night,and then went back in Thursday night for surgery on Friday. Surgery went well and I got to come home today (Saturday) and am taking a weekish off work (probably less..). So far, the day of surgery was WAY worse this time than last time because I had a general anesthetic instead of the local anesthetic I had last time, but the day after and recovery seems to be much less painful. I've only taken 2 percosets since the surgery as opposed to the 1 or 2 perks I was popping every 4 hours at Christmas.

It's incredibly frustrating to have another 6 weeks without being able to do anything just as I was getting back into sports and finally feeling like my old self again. Not doing anything athletic or physically active made me feel sluggish and grumpy and really unhappy. I felt so horrible about myself because I wasn't fit anymore, I couldn't run very far or very fast anymore, I couldn't lift any weight and my clothes weren't fitting. I was definitely in a funk, and it took getting back into training to get me out of it. I'm hoping that I can find a hobby or something to prevent me from going back into the funk. I'm not good at being bored or at sitting at home staying immobile while everyone else I know is out training and being active nad doing fun stuff. I'm hoping that the second tiem around is easier than the first.

4th Annual Souris Village Feast

I have to admit, I'm always a lot less motivated to write blog posts when I'm at home. If you go through the timeline of posts, you will notice that whenever I am home for a week or more, there are huge gaps in my posts. I don't know why, but I'm always uninspired and unmotivated to write when I'm home. A lot has happened in the last three weeks!

First, I went to PEI for the Souris Village Feast and
Canada Day. It was incredible and one
of the best weekends I've had. I arrived on Friday and went straight to Tuck's for a Canada Day BBQ and drinks, then we all went downtown to watch fireworks at Victoria Park and then to Peakes for a dance party. Saturday morning we spent chopping vegetables and shucking muscles at Chef Michael Smith's house. We were feeding 1200 people the next day and had to do all the prep work for the seafood chowder and potatoes. Luckily there were a lot of volunteers and lots of people to help out. The military and the local biker gang were among the volunteers. After chopping veg, we went to Basin Head Beach to waste some time before going back to Michael's house for a HUGE feast prepared by the 8ish famous chefs that Michael had flown in for the occasion. They were all guys he worked with at the Vancouver Olympics, and they did not disappoint! There were about 12 different dishes, and each were mouth wateringly delicious. Needless to say we left for home stuffed, tired and very happy.
Sunday was the big show! The 4th annual Souris Village Feast. The Feast is a giant steak dinner with all the trimmings prepared by famous chefs. Tickets are sold and a
ll the proceeds go towards buying a cookhouse for a school in Kenya. They also raise money for the food bank in Charlottetown. Tuck and I got involved with this because we gave a presentation to the Feast committee last winter to talk about the impact these cookhouses have on the kids in the schools and the community at large since we spent all last summer working in the communities and with the schools that have received cookhouses in the last few years from the funds raised by the Feast. We were asked by the committee to speak to the 1100 paying guests plus the volunteers about the cookhouses back in the spring and we happily agreed and I booked my flight to PEI for the weekend. On Saturday, we were also asked to speak to all the volunteers, chefs and military guys about the impact of the cookhouses as a pep talk once everything was all set up and before paying guests started to arrive. They wanted the volunteers t
o be emotionally committed to the cause and t
o really understand what we were accomplishing by raising the money to buy the cookhouse. To add to everything, the Food Network happened to be filming a documentary on the event! I was more nervous to give the pep talk than I was to speak to the 1100 paying guests! We had a small group of people's undivided attention and cameras in our faces! It ended up going really well though, and we even had people coming up to us after to congratulate us on the work we had done, and on speaking so well. I think we managed to pull a few heart strings which was exactly what we were asked to do! We had more aprons made to sell at the feast, and we me
ntioned the apron project in our pep talk incase anyone was interested in buying some. The Food Network director came up to us after and said that our apron project embodied everything they want the audience to feel during the documentary and asked if they could interview us for the documentary.
We ended up selling about 100 aprons and still have more to sell. I'm really looking forward to seeing the documentary which airs this fall and I hope to have a screening party of some sort when it airs. If I was smart, I would have written about this a few weeks ago when it actually happened because soo many little details get blurred over the weeks. When we were getting interviewed, the light being reflected onto our

faces made my eyes water hard-core, so it's probably going to look like I'm crying throughout the whole interview!
On Monday, in the morning before
my flight, I waited outside the confederation building and got to see Will and Kate! Their plane was parked at the airport when I was there too which was kind of cool!

Friday, July 1, 2011

3 Down, 7 To Go!

3 weeks of my 10 weeks placement are officially dunzo! The past few weeks have been unreal! I absolutely love my internship placement and learn new things and am challenged everyday. This past week I spent a day working with the morning cook who prepared breakfast and lunch. I know I shouldn't have been surprised but pretty much everything that is served comes preprepared and in buckets of boxes. The cooks pretty much just heat things up and pour pre-made batter into muffin tins or cake pans. Although this job doesn't sound particularly challenging, I had to admit that the cooks complete these tasks with an efficiency and finess that I severely lack. I ended my first cooking shift with splatters of every single dish on my shirt. Both only does each meal consist of 2 separate meat, veg and carb choices, but each of these choices needs to be both minced and pureed for those individuals requiring texture alterations. My job for the day was primarily manning the Blixer-6V (AKA fancy food processor) and mincing and pureeing everything. It's soo time consuming! I've decided that out of sympathy for the cooking staff, when I become an RD I am going to do everything in my power NOT to prescribe minced diets or pureed diets.

I have a love / hate relationship with HR. As a manager, you have to deal with employees all the time. You make schedules, you deal with discipline, you have to hear about all their complaints. It seems as though no matter what, every single day there is a staff member in the office with a silly issue that needs to be dealt with. I hate this. I hate that so much time gets wasted dealing with silly little things that shouldn't need dealing with, such as "this person didnt help put the groceries away or that person stole my butter knife from my floor" etc etc. Like really? This past week, we had a cook chop the end of her finger off while cutting lettuce for coleslaw. Policy indicates that all staff using knives must wear a no-cut glove, which this staff member wasn't. She pretty much cut her finger nail right off the top of her finger, so she couldn't finish her shift, and ended up going to the ER to have it coterized (spelling?). Because it was a workplace incident, the company takes 200$ from our account as punishment for not ensuring all staff were following safe workplace practices and the employee has to be disciplined. It sucks for the employee who chopped her finger off but it also sucks because it's now a few hours of paper work that needs to be dealt with.

I got to work the other day and had it pointed out that my pants were split a few inches along the seam in the outside of my leg. I have no idea how I missed that, but I had to strategically staple my pants back together and try not to move very much all day. I was worried that as soon as I sat down the staple would buckle so I did everything I could to give myself busy work that required that I be standing to do it.

I've joined a Running Room Half Marathon Running clinic! I've been running 3 times a week and have even made a few friends through the clinic. A couple of my new running buddies happen to be men in their late 50s but they are super keen and are training for a triathlon. I took up road biking a few weekends ago when the owner of the restaurant I work at's husband mentioned he wanted a training buddy and had an extra bike he could lend me for the summer. I also decided to train for a triathlon and do one with Rach when she gets home from the states in August. I think those plans may have changed but I'll be doing one in either August or September or both! So I've been biking and swimming with my new training buddies and loving my life. Now that I'm working and training for something I feel a million times better and am finally getting back into a groove of sorts. It's hard to be home and not training for paddling during the summer, because I never have been home and not training before. It's taken a while to find a groove but I'm super happy now that I have! I'm still paddling war canoe this summer so it's like the best of both worlds!

I'm at the airport right now about to board a plane to PEI for the Souris Village Feast! We're selling our aprons there and speaking about our projects and the Food Network is filming a documentary about the event. Should be a really good time! I'm moving back home on Monday from where I was house sitting so I'll have my laptop and internet access again so I can post regularly again!