Bees will not thrive if you quarrel about them.


It is unlucky that a stray swarm of bees should settle on your premises, unclaimed by their owner.

Going to my father’s house one afternoon, I found the household in a state of excitement, as a stray swarm of bees had settled on the pump. A hive had been procured, and the coachman and I hived them securely. After this had been done, I was saying that they might think themselves fortunate in getting a hive of bees so cheap; but I found that this was not agreed to by all, for one man employed about the premises looked very grave, and shook his head. On my asking him what was the matter, he told me in a solemn undertone that he did not mean to say that there was anything in it, but people did say that if a stray swarm of bees came to a house, and were not claimed by their owner, there would be a death in the family within the year; and it was evident that he believed in the omen. As it turned out, there was a death in my house, though not in my father’s, about seven months afterwards, and I have no doubt but that this was taken as a fulfilment of the portent.

Bees will not thrive if you quarrel about them.

I was congratulating a parishioner on her bees looking so well, and at the same time expressing my surprise that her next-door neighbour’s hives, which had formerly been so prosperous, now seemed quite deserted. ‘Ali!’ she answered ‘them bees couldn’t du.’ ‘How was that?’ I asked. ‘Why,’ she said, there was words about them, and bees ‘ll niver du if there’s words about them.’ This was a superstition so favourable to peace and goodwill in families, that I could not find it in my heart to say a word against it.

It has been shewn in a contemporary publication, that it is customary in many parts of England, when a death takes place, to go and formally impart the fact to the bees, to ask them to the funeral, and to fix a piece of crape upon their hives; thus treating these insects as beings possessed of something like human intelligence, and therefore entitled to all the respect which one member of a family pays to the rest. Not long before penning these notes, I met with an instance of this feeling about bees. A neighbour of mine had bought a hive of bees at an auction of the goods of a farmer who had recently died. The bees seemed very sickly, and not likely to thrive, when my neighbour’s servant bethought him that they had never been put in mourning for their late master; on this he got a piece of crape and tied it to a stick, which he fastened to the hive. After this the bees recovered, and when I saw them they were in a very flourishing state—a result which was unhesitatingly attributed to their having been put into mourning.

C. W. J.

a rissotto too far

I foolishly decided to throw caution to the wind and cook a meal that took a little more effort than throwing some frozen vegetables into a pan along with meat and a jar of sauce. Elder daughter loves risotto so I thought  I would be a good mama and make her one a Mushroom and Asparagus risotto as effortlessly created by Martha.

My first  mistake was that it was Monday night. Who cooks  gourmet, well pseudo gourmet, meals on a Monday night? Monday nights are for sitting on the couch and moaning ,”oh lordie, it is only Monday night”. I think I coerced myself into doing it by all day Monday  imagining myself  dressed in a cute apron (which I don’t even own. I do have aprons but none could be classed as cute, or Mother knows best style)  standing with wine glass in hand while I stirred the risotto with the other hand, blissfully listening to music as I cooked.

Never happened. Well the wine did  make it into the glass and the glass made it on to the bench next to the stove, but there ended up being so many steps to the recipe, involving so many saucepans that the wine only got gulped down just before  I served the meal. At that stage it was to dampen the hysteria welling inside of me like a tsunami.

Martha should have warned me that I would need 3 pairs of arms to cook this risotto. I checked afterwards, and the recipe carried no warning on needing extra appendages to handle the configuration of the recipe. I felt cheated. Martha let me down. It was not a good thing.

 First I had to make mushroom stock, then the rice mix, while still keeping the stock warm. Then I had to prepare an ice bath for the asparagus at the same time I was blanching its tips and stems separately.  There was wine to add – to the risotto! Then cheese to grate. All the while I had to decide if the liquid had almost evaporated or not. Define almost. I mean, really, is your almost, my almost? What does an almost look like? Too much or too little and obviously the risotto would be lost. Made mental note to self to petition government to cut the word almost from the dictionary as too ambiguous and open to conjecture.

I felt and acted like a whirling dervish. I think I used every pot in my set and every large spoon as well. I ran out of ice and then had to fret that the ice bath would be too warm and my asparagus would not stay a crisp green.  The kitchen looked akin to a bomb site by the time I had finished! I huffed and puffed like a marathon runner crossing the finish line., perspiration trickling down the side of my face.

But, it was a winner. Daughter said that she would actually pay money for my risotto  at a restaurant, so I am going to take that as a compliment. And know what? Next time she wants risotto, she can pay money for it at a restaurant, and buy me one too!

Debates in the night hours

Suggestions for when you know that your partner has had trouble going to sleep (mainly because they kept you awake with their tossings) and has finally drifted off to sleep, but they are now snoring with so much gusto that your nerve endings are jangling.

a. Earn you way to heaven and allow them to snore on, sacrificing your own slumber

b. Wake them up and ask them to roll over

c. Move excessively on your own side of the bed in the hope that they waken enough to cease snoring

d. Move to another room

e. Put a pillow over your head, resisting the urge to put the pillow over their head


f Poke them with one finger to try and break their rhythm?

Heck, I’ve been married for 30 years. I wake him up and threaten him with physical harm. His reply is that he doesn’t snore and that I must have been imagining it.

Sometimes he:

Earns his way to heaven and allows me to snore on, sacrificing his own slumber

Wakes me up and asks me to roll over

Moves excessively on his own side of the bed in the hope that I waken enough to cease snoring

Moves to another room

Puts a pillow over his head, resisting the urge to put the pillow over my head


Pokes me with one finger to try and break my rhythm.

I tell him ladies don’t snore, and that I must be coming down with a snuffly case of pneumonia.

We maintain the status quo, but gee, after 30 years we could both do with a really good night’s sleep…

On a Clear Day I may not see much of anything.

On a Clear Day I may not see much of anything.

I wear graduated lens spectacles. My eye glasses also have an anti-glare surface to make reading a computer screen easier and self-tinting for when I go outside. Pretty nifty if I do say so myself.

On Saturday I had to pay $8.95 AUS for a cloth to clean them, and $11.95 for a very small bottle of a spray lens cleaner. I have been wearing glasses since I was 14. As stated previously, I will be 50 this year. That is in the vicinity of 36 years of glasses wearing. Never have I had to buy a special cleaning cloth, or a bottle of lens cleaner. No using common tissues please. No using the front of my tee-shirt.

If I live another 50 years, as I have every intention to (in Australia we get a message from the Queen, and a message from the Prime Minister if we achieve 100 years, reason enough to live long and party hardy!) then how many more of these little cloths and little spray bottles am I to purchase? What happened to good old fashioned water? It is ok for me to ingest the water, but not ok for my glasses. When did my lens go elite?  

Now, I have to put more effort into my glasses than I do into my relationship.  Slightly less than my hair care, though.  I have had to buy one cloth and spray bottle for home and another set for my office, because I know that I will never remember to carry them back and forth. I may need to go back and buy one for my handbag for what will happen if I cloud up in the supermarket and can’t read the special prices on the 2 small cans for the price of a large can offer. That is 3 sets of cleaning products for my glasses. I feel like I am living that credit card ad – “don’t leave home without it”. Some days I can barely remember the birth order of my children, how the heck am I going to remember all of that?  

Will the stress of it all cause me to develop agoraphobia? At least then I can downscale cleaning products and stay at home. I walk around in a fog there most of the time, so dirty glasses wont be a problem at all! It might even be an asset – cleaning might be cut in half, as I wont be so concerned about dirt I can no longer tell is real or just lens created. So, giving into the stress of it all might in fact ease my stress? I can see it all so clearly now.

to yurt or not to yurt is today’s anxiety

I am going to live in a yurt (the traditional felt tent of the Mongols). I am going to erect it in the back yard, just over form the compost bin and not too close to the garden shed. When I am tired of the view I may move to the other side of my yard. Variety is the spice of life after all. That way I can minimize my household, and no longer have to take responsibility for the possessions that we have accumulated in a 30 year marriage that has produced three children.

I will come into the house to use the bathroom and dishwasher. And maybe to watch television and use the computer. Aside from that…oh and the laundry … I revoke my house usage.

The open life for me.  My family may visit me, as long as they promise not to bring any odd pieces of paper, store catalogues, junk mail, old magazines, research notes for a degree completed in 1992 or the 7th draft of their latest job application. 

I have tried adopting the “one new thing in, one old thing out” but my husband refuses to go. Just joking . The theory of buy a new thing, discard an item that you already own, should work well. How to choose though. Like for like? A skirt for a skirt? What if I love all my skirts, and wear them on a regular basis? An item for an item? A skirt for that disgusting bright orange blown glass vase that we got as a wedding present,  in 1977? But what if the relative that gave it to us visits and it is nowhere to be seen? Could I handle the family rift on top of all my other anxieties?

The yurt (pronounced ger, by the way) seems like the best possible solution to me. No decisions to make about “stuff” and if I am lucky no one will notice where I am for a day or two.

What has brought on this desire to abandon all? The pest control man is coming on Friday. He is going to open all my cupboards to search for white ants/borers. I am going to be socially embarrassed in front of someone I do not know and will probably never see again. Why does it worry me? Why should I care?  I don’t know, but it does. However at the same time it doesn’t motivate me to go to Olympian efforts to turn my house upside down and declutter on a major scale. I  just wallow in my own physical and psychological mess yearning for the elusive yurt..

kitchen table debate

Pathetic adjective  – Arousing pity, sympathy, or compassion.

  • French: pathétique
  • German: erbí¤rmlich


Elder Daughter , Younger Daughter  and I were kitchen table debating whether it is more pathetic to know one is pathetic, than not to know if one is pathetic? This led us to ponder that if one knew one was pathetic, was it even more pathetic not to do anything about it?

Younger Daughter thought that the unknowing Pathetic were best off as they didn’t know they were pathetic and were often happier than the more self aware.

But what if you are pathetic, and want to do something about it, but all efforts lead to no visible improvement in your patheticness? You are obviously subject to feeling, indeed capable of deep feeling, impassioned to action, but your efforts fail – what degree of pathetic is that? Would it be better to ere on the side of apathy and refrain from any endeavours to change your condition, thus not risking arousing even more pity, sympathy and compassion? Or would that be the penultimate pathetic response?