There are times in life when it seems as if the most sensible thing I can do is to run screaming into the wilderness and keep running  until a bear catches and eviscerates me.  No- wait.  Let me try again.  There are times in life when it seems like  the most sensible thing to do is to run screaming off a cliff into the ocean.  Hold on.  What if there are sharks below, and the fall hasn’t killed me?  What if the impact breaks both arms so I can’t swim, and I drown slowly?  This train of thought is taking me nowhere I want to go.  Today’s been hard, but not that hard.

Today has been another “your life has changed forever, and you must change accordingly” kind of days.  And, I must confess, I was overwhelmed:  overwhelmed by the administrative stuff I still have to do; overwhelmed by the foreign language of financial investing; overwhelmed by the puny stone I have in my hand to fight the giant ahead of me.  Ignorant, unskilled, and terribly, terribly alone. (And that’s where the bear and the cliff came in).

But I am not alone, and I never will be.  During the drudgery of the day, when I made myself and my troubles the center of the universe, my soul suffered, and my spirit was oppressed.  When I forgot to be thankful, hope flew away.

I think Habakkuk says it well:

“Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines,

Though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food,

Though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls,

Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will exult in the God of my salvation.

The Lord is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places.”

I think I will skip the bear and the cliff.  All that I am, and especially all I am not, is in good hands after all.



Whoo-whee, it’s hot tonight.  I’m shriveling in the upstairs heat like a raisin in the sun.  And for an old Alabama girl, who can remember life without air-conditioning, when we slept in cotton pajamas, sprawled in front of an electric fan, that’s saying a lot.  My grandmother had a fan that blew air over ice cubes, and when we came in hot and sweaty from the backyard, we stood in front of that fan until our faces tingled.  Well, I’m sitting in front of a fan in an air-conditioned house, but I’m not tingling.  As I said, it’s mighty hot.

It’s cooler downstairs where I usually work, but I kept getting interrupted by the dog or the kids or the laundry, so I had a brainstorm and moved the computer up to the master bathroom- the only room in the house that is too big for its britches.  I’m not sure what the previous owners and builders of this house had in mind for this room, but it’s way too large for the purpose of bathing and -well- meditating on the throne.  So I thought, “Why not?”, and ordered a desk for my bathroom.  As I said, the room is plenty big…So here I am, writing my first bathroom blog.  I have no doubts about what Martha Stewart would think about this, but, since I can’t afford the price of her magazine, who cares?  Erma Bombeck would sympathize.  Sometimes doing a strange thing is necessary to keep the soul healthy.

Jon’s Birthday Party

It’s been almost four months since Jon “re-located”.   Some people will say that he just plain died, and that the idea of Heaven is comforting nonsense.  Well, when I need money, I know that no amount of wanting  will make  it materialize.  Staring in a skinny mirror doesn’t take off  pounds.  And I can think positively about my teaching skill ’til the cows come home, but unless I plan my lessons, I waste my students’ time and look like an idiot.  I am the practical product of a bookkeeper and an engineer, not given to wishful thinking, and based on my experiences with a faithful God, Who has  communicated plenty, I’d say that Jon is having the time of his life. Believing this doesn’t make me miss him less.  It makes me miss him more- and want to be where he is.

But I am still fixed in earth time, and May 18 was Jon’s earth birthday.  His mother said that she labored all night on the 17th of May, 1953,  thinking “If the sun will just come up, I can bear the pain”.  And the  sun  finally rose,  and Jon arrived- blue eyed and jaundiced.  Miriam had packed a yellow going- home outfit for him, and I am told that the combination was unfortunate.  Eventually though, Jon pinked up, grew strong and determined, and the rest is history.  So on May 18, 2012, we celebrated the creation of Jon E. Shehane- only in this case- as the sun was going down.

For the first time in his life, Tim was in charge of building the traditional bonfire.  This took some doing, as the fire pit was heaped high with the green wood of a chopped down smoke tree.   I suggested that he unpile the green wood and start with kindling, but he  was disinclined to do that much prep work.  So, he squirted lighter fluid over all the pile and lit a match.  The fire blazed magnificently for a minute, and then crapped out.  He tried it again with the same results.  Finally, we all trudged off to look  for kindling.  Shauna was especially enthusiastic about doing this; Papa had always let her help.  Cardboard, sticks, scrap wood and dry logs later, the fire was blazing gloriously, and the grandchildren couldn’t contain their joy.

When Shauna is happy, she giggles, talks a mile a minute, and hops up and down;  Eagan screeches and runs.  Unless you see his expression, it’s impossible to tell if  his are happy or unhappy screeches, but in this case, he was clearly happy.  Whether it was staying up late and being in the dark, or the fire, or the prowling cats and barking dogs that juiced him up, I don’t know, but he ran and hollered and was almost too excited to eat the s’more we offered him.

Finally, we lit the sky lanterns, held them while they expanded, and  released them into the darkness.  For a second, their light illuminated the upturned faces of the children.  We stood together, watching  as the glowing paper balloons sailed over the treetops into the sparkling night sky, and disappeared in the distance.

For a minute, it seemed to me that the darkness was bigger and the bonfire paler because Jon was not standing on the hill with us;  I missed his strength, his laughter, the intensity of his gaze.  But then hope began to drift into the darkness of my soul, just as the sky lanterns drifted glowing, across the night sky.  For now, Jon and I live in different abiding places, but  we abide in the same Presence.  And someday, we will all be together again enjoying the glory of that great Presence.  Until then- I just have to wait.

Bee Guardians

My grandson Christian called me the other day and informed me that he was a “bee guardian”.  He made this announcement with the undiluted enthusiasm and sincerity  found only  in small children.  This is my fault.  Ever since they watched an organic, freshly-squeezed, Colorado- based beekeeping video with me a few months ago, all my grandchildren are determined to become “bee guardians”.  They plan to defend and protect  honeybees from pesticides, antibiotics, unnatural cell size and things that go bump in the night.  And this is good.  But who is going to defend me from the bees?

It all started in Mississippi when we bought our first acreage.  I suggested to my husband that we begin beekeeping.  He gave me a quick biology review on the hind end of the honeybee, and that ended that- I thought.  Eleven years later and eleven years older, we moved to Ohio, bought another acreage, and got settled.  We focused on the horses, dogs, cats, ferrets and kids, and all was fine, until one day, Jon heard about the honeybee situation; how mites and viruses were afflicting our bee buddies, and how experts were encouraging concerned people to invest in back yard hives.  Well, we were biologists.  Why not?

We attended local beekeeping meetings.  We read books.  We surfed the net.  Finally, Jon lit upon a plan he liked.  It called for using top bar hives- hives where the bees make their comb without prefab frames.  He ordered plans so that we could build the hives ourselves, and  he spent hours decoding them.  Then he got sick, and the project was put on hold for a year.

Well, in January, Jon relocated to a place free of bee diseases and pesticides, and where, if there are bees, they aren’t endangered.  But, as we still had the plans, and as bees ARE still endangered here, my sons and son-in-law decided to follow up on the beehive construction.  Meanwhile, I read more about honeybees, attended more meetings, and ordered equipment and hippie videos on the subject.

Come April 15, my three hives are standing proud and pretty in the back yard, and I drive off to pick up my 3 bee packages and  attend an installation demonstration.  Nooooo problem.  The Ohio State expert shows us newbies exactly what to do.  He gently spritzes the package of bees with water, pries out the queen cage and deposits her and her entourage in the hive, and opens the cage to dump the workers and drones in.  Shake, shake, shake, most of the bees just pour into the hive.  A lot of bees end up flying around trying to figure out where their new home is, but nobody gets stung.  And nobody is wearing protective gear.  The distinguished demonstrator makes his point:  bees in packages have no hive to defend and are not aggressive.  That suits me just fine.

So…. I load three bazillion bees in my Toyota (a few are loose!), and I drive home, full of confidence.  I am so full of it, that I disdain to don the protective gear I ordered.  I spritz my bees; I put the queen in my first hive; I shake, shake, shake the bees from the first package.  And then, and THEN…. I run like crazy!  Apparently, the bees resented that third shake.

The bees on the back of my head bothered me, but not as much as the one worker exploring the interior of my right nostril.  Now I run AND yell.

Ten minutes later, Josh has brushed the bees off the back of my head,  has supplied an ice cube for my nose, and I don’t care if the three bazillion bees die of famine, homeless.  Twenty minutes later, I put on the bee veil, jacket and gloves,  put rubber bands around the bottom of my jeans, and return to the bee battleground.  Only now, there is no battleground.  The remaining bee packages have had time to cool down, and they pour quietly into their new homes.

All my life, I’ve been impatient, but I think beekeeping-no- bee guardianship- may be the hobby that slows me down!  I wonder if that’s what Jon had in mind?