Books as a Passive Social Vector

This concept isn’t super well thought out, but I’ve discovered if I want for an idea to congeal in my brain I don’t end up writing the blog post about it. SO COME ON THIS MENTAL JOURNEY WITH ME.

Yesterday I gave a book to a friend and as I did so, I realized it was one of the rare times I had highlighted passages. I apologized for it, I mean, I don’t want people to think I’m SOME MONSTER who defiles the pages of a book.

But later (like now) I was thinking about how oddly fascinating it is to come across highlighted and underlined passages in used books I’ve picked up. Or, books passed to me by family members. Or even when terrible monsters make notes or underline things in LIBRARY BOOKS. After the initial shock of “HOW DARE THEY” it’s weirdly enjoyable. It’s like someone in a different time and place time traveled to say “hey I thought this was worth a second look.” Sometimes the passages are utterly baffling. Even if I was the past person who underlined something. “What made this so special?” I find myself asking, trying to either learn more about the passage itself or about the person who thought it so curious. It can make a weird, but also strangely visceral, connection.

My favorite example of this lately was a graphic novel my friend group all got and read from the library which had little scraps of paper slipped in that said “right arm?” “left arm” (or some such) as a previous reader thought it worth noting that the artist either got mixed up and switched a character’s missing arm or something went wonky when they printed the pages. It didn’t change my life or philosophy, but it was oddly social.

In fact, I find myself ALSO drawn to leave notes or make corrections in books when I come across them. It’s almost as if that other person was the icebreaker, and now I don’t have to worry about “starting” the conversation. There isn’t social pressure to contribute, but there’s an open door. You don’t have to worry about keeping up a dialog. But, if you want, you can add something for whoever else may pick up the book.

For some reason this reminds me of something I read in Tribal Leadership, which, if I had highlighted it, wouldn’t have taken SO LONG to find again I suppose. It’s about having a “tribal leadership epiphany” but one of the actions they talked about stuck out to me. “People who’ve had this epiphany read books differently, often highlighting sections for others, hoping to spread the insights that changed their lives.” (Tribal Leadership, The Tribal Epiphany, pg 111.)

I guess I had never really seen highlighting, or note-taking in that way before. Not as something I may want to come back to later, but with the intention of improving someone else’s life through my own reading. Granted, that can take SO MANY FORMS, but I think it’s worth noting that it can be as simple as a quick highlight and a shared book.

So what do you think? Is highlighting bad? Has your curiosity been piqued by a note in a book?


State of the Bees: Sugar Roll

This is yet another beekeeping update, and very belated. The events in this post were from 05/21/2017.

After the last bee update, I knew there were mites present in at least one of my hives and I needed to do a mite check. The method I employed to do said mite check, was via a sugar roll, suggested by theProspetOfBees who commented on my last blog post (thanks!).

With nice warm weather scheduled for that weekend, I set about getting my necessary materials together:

  • A wide-mouthed canning jar and two piece lid
  • #8 (1/8th inch) hardware cloth
  • Powdered sugar
  • Measuring cup
  • White tub

The canning jar, lid, powdered sugar, measuring cup, and white tub (I used a small bucket) were all pre-owned. Well, technically I got a new bag of powdered sugar just for the bees, but that wasn’t hard.

I went to the local hardware store for the hardware cloth (after calling and confirming they had the right size), and the employee who helped me was a former beekeeper! He also might’ve been the guy who recommended the sheet metal guy I got the hive roofs made. Basically I wish he could help me every time I go there, CAUSE HE IS GREAT.

After getting that (which I think was around a buck since I got so little), I took it home, traced out the size needed with the lid and a sharpie, then used my hardware cloth cutters and VOILA. READY.


A little friend ready to watch the action.

A friend came over and we popped open the hives, and began the…interesting task of scooping up 1/3 cup of bees. People use different size measuring cups, theoretically 1/4 cup = 200 bees. And ideally you don’t want more than 1% varroa mites. (At least, this is my current interpretation.) The first one measuring cup was definitely not full, but I think I got at LEAST 100 bees. Then comes the fun process putting ~ 1-2 tablespoons of powdered sugar in the jar and shaking them up for a minute. Obviously, they aren’t too happy about this, and I felt bad, but it was VERY IMPORTANT. Ideally you cover the opening while shaking so no mites accidentally fall out and corrupt your count but I either didn’t see this in any of the instructions or they weren’t in any of the instructions I read. After that you let sit for 2-3 minutes, then you tip it upside down in your white container and shake all the sugar out. The idea is that the powdered sugar makes the varroa mites fall off the bees, and then you shake out all the sugar and loose mites.


Supply table. Yep, those are sugared bees in that jar!

The first hive had ~ 1-2 mites which obviously isn’t great, but I wasn’t too concerned. I noticed that the hive was still maintaining their varroa graveyard at the end of the hive, so they’re being very hygienic. There were several dead ones there. I’m both concerned and pleased. After all the abuse, I dumped the bees back into the hive to get cleaned off. Unfortunately some didn’t make it as the shaking was too vigorous.


Dumped sugar bees.

The second hive appeared to have zero or possibly one mite after their shake, and I got more bees for that one. YAY! They too had some in a “graveyard” area at the end of the hive. The moisture was still slightly present, and I can only assume it is caused by them evaporating nectar and from their body condensation. At this point they have three entrances open and I think the airflow is helping a lot.

We didn’t do too terribly much during this hive inspection since it took me a while to do the sugar roll, but we saw some uncapped larva brood which was fun. They still hadn’t built out much more lengthwise, but the combs towards the front were now VERY large, built out larger than the one below.


Looking at a couple combs!

About a week(?) later we got some REALLY warm temps that were sustained for several weeks, so at that point Devin and I gave them all but 2-3 bars at the end where they could continue to have a little varroa graveyard separate from the hive.

I went ahead and have left them alone so they don’t constantly have to repair the damage of me tearing into their hive, though I will probably do an inspection in a week or two and another sugar roll. From all outward appearances they seem to be THRIVING, with new records of “most bees I’ve seen doing orienting flights” every couple days.


Personal Ruminations on Grief and Loss

Every grief and loss is different and therefore is felt differently. These are my current thoughts surrounding my own journey, but I am in no way an expert. I am simply trying to understand this key aspect of life. Please forgive any “conclusions” of mine that don’t ring true to your situation, or any statements that inadvertently lessen your grief or experience.

Grief comes in a variety of ways from the disappointment of a missed opportunity to the death of a close loved one. No grief should be tossed aside as invalid, but must be worked through and reckoned with.

Romans 12:15 (NIV)
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

I generally try not to quote verses without context (the context is how to love each other and what it looks like), but this line has been on my heart lately.

See, it seems straightforward. But it gets…complicated in practice, as many things do. I came to realize my problem with how it seems to be practiced is made more evident when I phrase it differently – when you see someone rejoicing, don’t cause them to mourn; when someone is mourning, don’t make them rejoice. I don’t claim this is equally spiritually true or a just interpretation, but it’s something I’ve experienced, and I’d like to talk about it.

In my recent and past mournings, I’ve noticed a lot of weird things that happen. At the beginning – some people, not wanting to experience the grief themselves, become cold and distant. This usually happens to acquaintances, or professionals along the way. It’s brutal, and if it wasn’t the cause of healthcare service failures, I would totally understand. Empathy hurts. A lot. And expressing grief about others’ troubles is awkward.
On the flip side, some people mourn A LOT. When I talk to other grievers, we describe it as having to manage THEIR grief as well as our own, and how frustrating it is. Again, I understand it. Either they genuinely have a great amount of grief at the situation and are trying to work through it, or feel like “sorry” isn’t enough and have to “put on a show” thinking that will help. Whatever the reason, it’s exhausting. It feels wrong to say “hey I’M the one who needs support, not YOU” even though we often feel it in our hearts. At the end of the day we didn’t even manage to get around to working on our own grief because we were busy trying to handle everyone else’s. We’re even closer to the maw of agony than we were when we woke up.

In the case of something like a miscarriage, and I imagine others, throughout the grief process we receive a good helping of “stats” sprinkled in. I think this is meant helpfully, like most things, but for me, it really doesn’t help. I hope (dearly) that people don’t go up to someone who has lost a loved one in a car accident and say, “You know, we all have a 1 in 114 chance of dying that way in our lifetime.” How does that help? It doesn’t matter if the number is low or high, it still crushes my heart. It won’t change anything that has happened. In our darkest moments it makes us think it’ll happen again, or think about how we’re the most unlucky person in the world. In our most optimistic moments, it will make us think this will never happen to us again. Neither is a true representation of an individual life. It’s an average. And there are no averages in the grieving process.

After a few weeks, or whatever time-frame, the general feeling around a griever progresses to an unspoken opinion of “why are you still grieving?” This is definitely the worst. At this point, the shock of grief has worn off, and many people are just now experiencing the full weight of what has happened. But to others, it appears like the brave griever of the previous weeks has given way to a bottomless pit of depression, and they’re tired of it. This is the point where the current emotional polar opposites collide – the griever in the depths of despair and the friends who have bounced back. It can appear in many ways: requests or demands to get back to “normal,” suggesting the person be more joyful, or being ignorant of the continued hurt and exhaustion if the person has returned to “normal” life.
I should also clarify that “normal” is usually defined by such people as “normal before the event” whether that be in practical, emotional, or spiritual terms. There is no going back to that “normal.” There is only a new normal which must be sought out and established. And that’s usually what onlookers don’t realize.

Then we reach what we think the new normal is, or is developing into. We’re starting to experience life again, we’re starting to experience “joy” even. And it feels like as soon as we get there, instead of joining in the rejoicing, we are reminded by others of our grief. Again, I’m sure this is well meaning, and maybe even them processing their grief, but more often than not I experience well-intentioned reminders of why I should be sad. I hate these the most. A strong word, I know. But the thing I dislike most about them are that they make me feel like I shouldn’t be happy. They always seem to come on really good days, and they always take me down to the absolute depths. They seem to say, “Why did you forget about your grief?” It’s hard because I think this, most of all, probably depends on the person. I’m sure some people, on the anniversary of something like losing a parent, would LOVE someone to say they’re thinking of them. Others, I think, would be horrified. We all have different ways of honoring our losses, but to indicate that you “should” do something indicates if you don’t there’s something wrong or dreadful with you.

So, I’ve complained a lot, some would say. What SHOULD we do? Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. The problem is, that’s hard. You have to observe, you have to listen. I have not figured this out at ALL. In fact, I consider myself one of the worst at helping grievers.
But here’s the thing: it’s not your job to help. It’s your job to support. I’m not great at that either, but I try, desperately, to take cues from the person I’m with. I try to ask how they are. I let them bring up the grief if they want or don’t want. I try not to change the subject, whatever that subject may be. It’s not my job to make them talk about the grief or something other than the grief. It’s my job to listen.
If appropriate, I try to share my struggles, with an emphasis on that being my own PERSONAL journey. That theirs will be different and that’s not bad, not weird, and not to be afraid of. I try to make sure their feelings are understood. I think we have a weird relationship with feelings where we either embrace them as “truth” or dismiss them as “unimportant.” In my opinion they are neither. Until I acknowledge my feeling about something, I will never be able to see or address the root cause of it. If it’s dismissed by others or myself, I will shove it down deep to come spewing up with the rest of the prisoner feelings at a later date.

I’m sorely tempted to summarize with a bullet point list of “do this, don’t do this” because it’s in our nature and it’s so much easier than the real answer. Which is listen. Put others first. Be sensitive. Don’t do what you need, do what they need. Forgive. Understand. Love. I know I’m still working on and praying through every single one of those things every day.

“I Will Not Suffer a Woman to Teach”

I don’t know anything, so don’t take my word for it. Search the scriptures yourself. But these are my musings.

Sometimes (pretty often, honestly) I run across something in scripture that I don’t understand. I’m not saying it’s usually Paul’s writings but I think Paul assumes we have a lot more common sense than we actual do. OOPS I SAID IT.

Today, let’s look at 1 Timothy 2:8-15.

(King James Version)

I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array.

But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.

Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.

But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

For Adam was first formed, then Eve.

And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

Modern church: oh yeah this uhhhh this wassss because the CULTURE then didn’t believe in women teachers. Our culture is fine with it now (LOL) so it’s k.

Me: Oh, the culture then also liked stoning and/or otherwise hurting people who came in with ideas they didn’t like, so since our culture is swinging that way, that’ll be fine now too, right?

Like, what? Since when do we take our cues from culture? What happened to John 17:14–19? That’s a whole different rant though, I’ll try to stick with this one.

Off the cuff, phrases like “let women learn in silence” and “I suffer not a woman to teach” are REAL AWKWARD for women who have opinions, are well studied in scripture, and are good teachers.

But putting aside any personal feelings, there’s a scriptural disagreement. If women aren’t supposed to teach, why on Earth was Deborah, in the 12th century, in Judges, solving disagreements among the Israelites (probably mostly men)? Like, Deborah, babe, read 1 Timothy 2! You’re not allowed to do that! She did that for 40 years. YIKES. Also, bonus points, her name means “bee” so she was the ORIGINAL QUEEN BEE. (Edit: her husband’s name, Lapidoth, happens to mean torch, light, or “enlightened” which I think is PRETTY COOL.)

So, did women lose teaching powers in the New Testament?

Before we look at the Greek, let’s look at context. We start off chapter 2 talking about respecting and praying for those in authority or power, such as kings you really don’t like. “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have ALL men, and to come unto the knowledge of truth.” (Emphasis mine.) You didn’t think I’d manage to slip in an admonition about hating and making fun of leaders who God wants us to pray salvation for BUT I DID. BOOSH. (Self conviction, nailing it.)

So, respect, prayer. Then we get into verse 8-11 on conduct within worship. Then we get the bomb drop of women teaching in vs 12 but it’s part of this thought about Adam and Eve? And then making babies.

This is usually the point where I go, “Paul…what…what…is happening right now.” I will probably do a Google search and turn up pretty meh articles saying basically “IT’S SUPER CLEAR,” and I go on my way, still confused. But SOMETIMES I flip open The Complete Word Study and see if I can find some answers. If you don’t have a resource like this, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT. I mean, you can also use online resources (like BibleHub) but sometimes a book really does the trick.

If you’re a man and you don’t think women should teach, hopefully you didn’t learn anything above, but this quote is written by a man so YOU’RE GOOD:

(Page 688-690)


These verses indicate that women were full and active members in the early church (cf. 1 Cor. 11:4-5; Titus 2:1-10). From an examination of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, it is also clear that both wives and husbands could pray and prophesy in the worship service (see not on 1 Cor. 14:33-40). In all this discussion, Paul’s chief concern is that no woman would be of immoral character by having short hair or a shaven head, because in this manner she dishonors God, her husband’s character, and herself. Peter also had something to say concerning the witness of women and their conduct at home (1 Pet. 3:1-7). In marital relationships, a woman is not presented as having any fewer rights over her husband than he has over his his wife. The key to understanding what the Apostle Paul is teaching is that women should not try to appear or act like men. In addition to this, they should not attempt to usurp the position of their husbands in the home and in the church. God has appointed specific tasks for both women and for men. Childbearing is reserved for women, just as the role of a husband is set aside for men. Paul emphatically states that these were differences created by God Himself.

Furthermore, in Galatians 3:28, Paul made it clear that there are no distinctions between male and female in Christ. He indicates that there are differences between the sexes, but no distinctions of believers in Christ. Moreover, Paul explains that the general attitude of Christians should not be to flaunt one’s customs even if they are the proper ones. If the acceptable code of behavior indicates a definite distinction between the manner of dress of a man and a woman, adhere to that which will characterize one’s own sex. In addition to this, differentiation should exist between women and men by the method of hair grooming or style, and it is necessary to maintain that accepted distinction. Paul’s other concern is that a woman should not dress in a provocative manner, bringing the attention of men to herself. A Christian woman should be one man’s wife, and in like manner, a husband should have only one wife (1 Cor. 7:2).

In 1 Timothy chapter two, the Apostle Paul is concerned about women appearing modest in their clothing. In verse nine, the Greek word sóphrosuné ([4997] cf. v. 15) provides the clue for the interpretation of this difficult passage. This Greek word, translated “sobriety,” means “the voluntary limitation of one’s freedom of thought and behavior,” or “sober mindedness.” The truth is that in Christianity women became free and equal to their husbands. Nevertheless, there was always a danger that they might take this freedom beyond the limitations that God had placed when He appointed man as head over woman in the marital relationship. No two people or things can be exactly the same. The inherent differences in people and things must be recognized by a sōphrōn, or “sober minded” person. This is one who recognizes his abilities and his limitations, and is mindful of his behavior in certain given circumstances.

There are numerous references in the Scripture where women are recognized as friends and coworkers in the gospel (Rom. 16:1-4). Peter refers to women as “heirs together of the grace of life” (1 Pet. 3:7). In one such instance, Paul does not differentiate between Priscilla and her husband Aquila, rather he refers to them both with the same word, sunergos (4904), meaning “fellow workers” (Rom. 16:3). He does not distinguish between the work each can do because one is male and the other female (cf. Rom 16:21; Phile. 1:24).

To function properly, everything needs a person in the position of leadership, especially a family. The marriage unit consists of two people that have two distinct personalities. These two require a “headship,” that being the man according to God’s creation and ordinance. In 1 Timothy 2:11, there are several key words that show how a wife should convey a proper relationship to her husband. The first of these terms is guné (1135) which, depending on the context, may indicate a woman in general or a wife. The close relationship of this word with the word andros (from  anér [435]) meaning “husband,” not simply “man,” requires that the word be translated “wife.” The subsequent term to consider is hésuchia (2271), translated “silence.” In the NT it occurs numerous times referring to tranquility or the state of being undisturbed. This should be the understanding in this verse. One must bear in mind here that during the era of time when Paul was writing, it was usually men who were the ones to receive an education. If this word meant “complete silence,” women would never have the opportunity to ask questions or increase her knowledge of the Scriptures. Simply speaking, the wife out to be displaying a tranquil spirit in her attempt to learn. The final word of key importance in understanding the “silence” mentioned in this verse is hupotagé (5292) meaning “to place in proper order,” translated “subjection.” Paul wanted to express the idea that in the wife’s desire to learn, she should respect her husband’s position over her in Christ (cf. 1 Cor 11:3).

The phrase in 1 Timothy 2:12, “But I suffer not a woman to teach…” should be understood as “But I suffer not a wife to teach.” The discussion continues drawing contrasts between the Greek words for wife and for husband. The usage of guné in this verse must be translated as “a wife” corresponding to the reference in verse eleven. However, andros (435) is translated as “man” in verse twelve. However, it is better rendered “husband” when usage of this Greek word occurs in relation to a discussion of wives. Furthermore, the word for “teach” in this verse is the Greek infinitive didaskein (1321). In this instance, it means “to teach continuously.” The situation refers to the home, an assembly, or anywhere the husband and wife may be interacting together. If this were the case, the position of the husband as the head would be undermined, and would not be in accordance with God’s ordained order in creation. A wife should place limitations on her speech. Paul does not want women to be lackluster or mute, but to be careful lest they go beyond the bounds of accepted propriety (see discussion on v. 9).

Moreover, the word translated “to usurp authority over” is the Greek word authentein (831). Essentially, a wife’s private or public life should be beyond reproach and never undermine the position that her husband has been given by God. Also, a wife should never encroach upon the role of her husband. In verse thirteen, Paul explains why this is so: “For Adam was first formed, then Eve.” This is not because the husband is better, more intelligent, or more worthy than she; rather, it is the order originally ordained by God, for her to respect. See not on Titus 2:1-5.


A few personal opinions:

  • It’s important to remember that two things Paul is trying to combat in the early church are: marital strife caused by a wife wanting to be the man (from role to appearance), and the temple prostitution culture coming in from the other religions at that time. I mean, it’s a bad combo when you have couples fighting tooth and nail and also people who are all “HEY SEXY LET’S DO IT, I’M ALL ABOUT FREE LOVE.”
  • Either in this book or another I read commentary about Paul advising women be silent because since they generally weren’t educated at this time, they would be asking their husbands to explain things during the teaching which was obviously really distracting to everyone. So Paul was trying to solve that very specific problem. (See 1 Corinthians 14:34-35.)
  • I find it hilarious that I’ve never heard this explanation before now, and that if this commentary is taken as a correct interpretation, it almost feels backwards of what we’ve done with the verse. Because let’s be real, when you take a woman who is an excellent teacher and tell her she can’t teach, if she’s married you better believe she’s “continuously teaching” her husband which is what Paul is trying to tell us not to do. OOPS. SORRY, DEVIN.
  • Looking back at Deborah in this light, I don’t see any conflict at all. Her husband clearly had gifts in other areas, and was fine with her exercising her gifts of teaching and leading while he got to focus on his gifts. I actually have a huge respect for them as a couple because I personally think it’s clear that they were following God’s model of marriage and yet not denying each other the use of their God-given gifts. I have a bad feeling there may be some husbands who end up in heaven answering for why they didn’t let their wives use their gift for teaching, and a few wives who will be asked why they harassed their husbands with continuous berated teaching instead of using their gift for the benefit of all.


DIY: Soap Making

I have a very serious case of multipotentialitism. Believe it or not that’s actually almost a real word. A multipotentialite is “an educational and psychological term referring to the ability and preference of a person, particularly one of strong intellectual or artistic curiosity, to excel in two or more different fields.” But the problem is I don’t really EXCEL in any of them. I SURE LIKE ATTEMPTING THEM THOUGH.

Speaking of attempting things, this blog post will be about my SOAP MAKING ATTEMPTS. Why soap? I went to an intro class on “urban homesteading” and the teacher said that making your own soap is the most cost effective of all the things he did classes on, and honestly that’s all the encouragement it takes for me to try weird things sometimes.

Granted, previously I have never EVER had a desire to make soap from scratch. I make our laundry soap, but that’s hardly from scratch (as I use Fels Naptha as an ingredient), but a few library books, blog posts, St. Vinny’s pans, and Amazon orders later I was ready for my first soap making attempt.

Attempt #1

I went into this VERY excited, feeling like I was back in chemistry class. I mean, I guess I sort-of was. What I didn’t realize was that soap making takes way more patience and preciseness than I bargained for. Unfortunately I’m generally fresh out of both 99% of the time.

There are a few Important Things about making soap:

You have to use stainless steel pans. Using aluminum gets you more of a chemistry experiment than you probably bargained for:

Per the usual chemistry rule, you want to add your acids/bases INTO the water, NOT the other way around. This is because water combo’d with strong acids or bases (lye, used in soap making, is a base) causes a strong exothermic reaction (read: HOT) and can potentially cause the water to boil. Putting the primary reactive component into the water means you can do it slowly, and there will be less of it in the water should it boil up onto you.

THAT BEING SAID, you should use proper safety equipment.


I took safety VERY seriously the first time. Devin was quite concerned when he came home to find me looking like this.

So, you know how I said it was very exact and tedious. YES.

The recipe I did for my first batch is as follows:

  • 18.5 oz Canola oil
  • 12 oz Coconut oil
  • 9 oz Palm oil
  • 1 oz Shea butter
  • 10-15 oz water
  • 5.71 oz Lye

As you can see, those are weights, and they’re PRETTY DANG EXACT. The exactness is pretty important because in order for soap to become, well, soap, it has to go through a chemical process called saponification which is (this is the very short version, click here for longer) where the lye and fats in the oil react to form what we know as soap. A nice, lovely, pretty pH neutral cleansing agent to adorn your bathroom counters.

ANYWAY, if you have the wrong proportions of ingredients, you’ll be left with too much lye, a REAL strong base. It’s about a 13.5 on the pH scale and if it’s been a while since you chemistried, the scale goes from 0-14 with 7 being neutral.


How does one accomplish this? First, make sure you run your recipe through a lye calculator such as this one. Secondly, BE PRECISE. As you can see below, I sprung for a digital scale for this project. (Secretly I’ve been wanting one my entire life for weighing animals but that’s neither here nor there.)



I’m not going to go into all the details because others have done it better (I personally used Small Notebook’s blog post, but after getting my water/lye mixture going in the sink I started measuring and melting down my oils. The biggest problem I found was that I was using a lot of hard oils, which I had been refrigerating, and it was ANNNNNNOYING to scrape out enough that I needed. Also I was originally going to use olive oil but OOPS I was out. Canola oil it was!


Melty melty little oilies! Also I added mint leaves because I have problems.

After everything was cooled down to a reasonable temperature (they say 100 F to 125 F), I combo’d them up and used my garage sale immersion blender. I’m not 100% sure that it’s made from stainless steel but nothing terrible happened so I think it’s safe?

At this point I definitely stopped taking pictures and let the stress consume me. Basically you want to mix to the point where it “traces” which is essentially the consistency of “slightly thickened custard.” So…good luck with that scientific description, especially if you’ve never made custard. After I got to…that point (look up pictures, seriously, that’s the only way), I dumped it into a stainless steel pan I had bought, which I lined with wax paper because A Book said to line the mold with that. I think that was for wooden molds. Anyway, in hindsight I WOULD NOT have lined the pan with wax paper it was a wreck. I feel like I took pictures of this but I don’t have them anymore so who knows.

After THAT I put a box over it, wrapped it in a towel, and let it do its thing for 24 hrs at which time I popped it out, crudely chopped it up with a wire I had, and let it rest. Essentially while the bulk of the chemical process has happened it will continue for about a monthish, so you let it “rest” for that period with lots of air flow.


My very resty soap. That looks like a caveman chopped it up.

A month later, and I’m using it! It’s really lathery? I LIKE IT? I used it to shave my legs and it was like, GREAT? It lengthened my shower times because it makes me feel so luxurious? I have PROBLEMS???

Attempt #2

Shortly after Attempt #1 of soapmaking I was reminded that a mom of a friend of ours is like The Soapmaking Queen. She used to make it and lotions to sell at local wineries. So OBVIOUSLY, the next thing I did was call her to set up a soap making date!


When I saw the quantities we were dealing with, I knew we were in the house of an EXPERT.

The process and recipe were pretty similar, though we went sans protective equipment (don’t tell!). I think next time I do it myself I’ll probably go somewhere halfsies, wearing safety glasses because I value my eyes and don’t want splashies. Also maybe light gloves. IDK.

Our recipe was as follows:

  • 40 oz Canola Oil
  • 10 oz Cocoa Butter
  • 25 oz Coconut Oil
  • 25 oz Palm oil
  • 32 oz Water
  • 14.1 oz Lye
  • 1 oz Lemongrass Essential Oil (for scent)


Her stash of scents for soap was MIND BLOWING, I resisted taking a picture because I thought it’d be weird but there were DRAWERS. #GOALS?

The other things of note were her soap cutter (handmade!) and the molds she uses for her soap. She prefers circular soap, and pours her post-trace mixture into the following:

Essentially a 3 inch (I think??) PVC pipe with a cap on it. Then, after it has set, she uses this soap cutter:


She very kindly gave me a PVC pipe tube to take home, and after a couple days of sitting and some time in the freezer, my husband held the tube while I Falcon Punched the soap out. It was both harder than expected and yet still easier than Attempt #1’s soap mold removal.

After a few more days resting (it was still pretty soft) I made a rather MEH soap cutter to test it out:


It turns out I can be precise until the point where I cut the soap and then I’m just like EH WHATEVER, SOAP!


So now it will rest for a month, and then WE GET TO USE IT. I’m so excited, the lemongrass scent is just DELISH.


I don’t know where I was going with this blog post but YEAH. SOAP. PICTURES. CHEMISTRY. IT’S OVERWHELMINGLY GREAT.

Provoked Thoughts #2

This continues my weekly series on things I saw that tickled my noggin. There are a lot more JUST FOR FUNSIES this time. And yes, I realize I definitely missed a week. OOPS.

SPOILERS I watch LotR videos way too often oooooops sorry NOT SORRY.

Blooming flowers are obviously VERY PERTINENT to my interests lately.

Instagram worst social media app for young people’s mental health

I always take these articles with a grain of salt but I thought it was interesting!


This, curiously, was in a graphic novel biography I didn’t like but it PROVOKED SOME THOUGHTS if you know what I mean. Free speech is one of those curious things for me wherein I think it’s very important but also how uncomfortable or problematic it can be at times. Case and point, the lady this biography is about was an anarchist (the political party) and some of the things she said were…sketchy. Very sketchy. Borderline criminal? But also getting abused and locked up for exercising your free speech is BAD. So yeah. Free speech. It’s surprisingly complicated?

Not every new beekeeper needs a mentor

Good notes for everyone who is looking for a mentor or thinking about becoming one. I have never had a “real” mentor…I tried it a few times in game development but it always fell through, which was definitely mostly my fault. Finding a good match in any industry or hobby seems HARD. Then again, I am not the easiest to get along with.

Somehow this reminds me of this most dear clip from Brooklyn 99:

Devin shared a video with me this week that’s going viral of ducklings jumping off a platform into a pond. I told him THAT WAS NOTHING, and realized he’s never seen how several waterfowl species nest in trees and expect their tinies to jump to their what-seems-very-assured deaths.

So Nerdwriter1 is ONE OF MY FAVORITE youtubers, probably because he does amazing videos on LotR (yeah, I’m a one trick pony). But I thought this was also very interesting.

I should have more articles but I’M NOT SO GOOD AT READING LATELY. OOPS.

Tragedy in the Beeyard

This is probably a clickbait title. This title should probably  be reserved for bears ripping open hives or death-by-bees. But it was devastating to me and I write the titles so THERE.

I’ve been meaning to go into the hives and check to see if they need more empty bars. The weather turned rainy so I hadn’t gotten a chance but today when we returned home from church IT WAS MAYHEM out back. I couldn’t tell if the whole world was robbing my hives or if just, EVERYONE had hatched and shoved the next batch out to do their orientation flights, or WHAT. So, I had Devin suit up and we opened up the hives.


It’s impossible for the camera to capture how many bees were flying. But also there were about five ON the camera at this time soooo

Devin is not super comfortable with bees. That’s too gracious. Devin is 95% terrified of bees but he loves me VERY MUCH. But still, considering how ACTIVE and NUMEROUS the bees were, this was a major test of love.


This is where Devin feels comfortable. Well, actually, even this is probably “too close for comfort.”

The smoker WOULD. NOT. START. which I should’ve just given up because I basically didn’t use it anyway. Ah well. Practice.


Devin, being my BELLOWING MAN, giving the smoker oxygen.

I opened up the hives, with fuzzy (at best) goals. See if they need more bars. See if there is obvious robbing. See if there are even food stores to ROB? See if there are drone brood, maybe pop one open to look for varroa mites.

Varroa mites. I meant to write a blog post about them but I thought “I have time.” In short, they are probably The Biggest Nemesis. (There are many but this one is winning.) The short version is, they’re like the ticks of bees, if ticks were half the size of our face. Think headcrab. But on bees.


This poor bee has three visible.

Like ticks, varroa mites (also called varroa destructors) carry a plethora of Bad Things. Bad Things like viruses which cause bees to hatch with deformed wings as one tiny example. Needless to say, they can wreak havoc and double their population in one month.

I’m scared of varroa. I don’t want to treat, but I don’t want my bees (my very expensive and loved bees) to die. I am still formulating what methodology I want to adopt in dealing with that type of issue.

Which is why it was devastating when today I watched one of the brood bees drag a pupae body out of the hive and see a varroa mite scrambling to get back in after clearly having laid an egg with that pupae causing it to get tossed out.


Removed pupae.

I had a lot of feelings. One of those stomach dropping, assume my hives are basically all dead, I killed my bees feelings. I don’t like it. My more reasonable side says, “Hey now shhhhhh. They aren’t dead YET. Yes, you found a bomb in the hive, you don’t know how to diffuse it, BUT you have probably enough time to read some bomb manuals and TRY to diffuse it!” Thanks, reasonable me. I feel sooooo much better.

So now, I have to figure out what to do. Oh, and bonus points because also the “tree hive” had TONS of water in it again??? HOW??? WHY??? I checked the roof and it’s not a leak. Unless it’s coming in through the sides or something, or just bee-living condensation, I don’t get it. I also DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT.



In lieu of not knowing what to do about THAT EITHER, I scattered a few pine pellets in the bottom so at least it’d be getting soaked up by something. Seriously, what a crap day.



With regards to my goals, I think I identified some drone brood. Of course, now that I know THERE ARE MITES (though other hive), this is NOT GOOD.


I believe the drone brood are those raised caps there in the middle. A lot of those are empty too or uncapped, so probably that hive has varroa as well. I HATE EVERYTHING.

All and all, a crap day in the bee yard and a lot of problems to solve. SIGH.

I did manage to take a bad selfie though, sooooo


One of the new bars of comb! They’re up to 12 now.