Saturday, August 28, 2010

A visit from Aunt Dolores

    Aunt Dolores came to visit a few weeks ago. It was such great fun. She is one of those cheerful people that is just very fun to be around. She brought her guitar so we were able to play some together and she yodeled for the grandkids. It makes you feel kind of sorry for those cuturally deprived kids who don't have a great aunt who can yodel. Yodeling is such a lost art these days that I image that would be over 99 per cent of the population in most parts of the country.

    Dolores spends the summers living next door to her daughter near Eugene. During the winter she lives in Lake Havisu, Arizona, the town that bought the London Bridge.  Its a shame we don't see her more often, but she only lives near us when the bee store is at its busiest.  By the time things slow down in the fall she has gone back south to Arizona.  In addition to the music we did get to spend some time talking about genealogy and their youth in Arkansas and elsewhere, but not as much as we should have done.

     After playing with Dolores, I feel inspired to work harder on my fiddle playing. I even spent a few evenings watching instructional videos on You Tube and have set a goal to learn to do a decent vibrato. A slow song like a waltz sounds kind of flat if you can't vibrato some of the long notes.  I also need to commit more songs to memory.  I'm working on memorizing Ashoken Farewell as that is one of her favorite waltzes.

     My other main incentive to improve my fiddle playing is the weekly violin lessons I'm giving to Madelyn Rosenauer, a friend's 9 year old daughter.  I feel a little guilty nagging her to practice more if  I"m not getting my fiddle out more often.  That is also another incentive for me to watch violin instructional videos so I can do a better job teaching fundamentals to Madelyn.   

Evergreen State Fair

    It's that time of year again.  A friend relieved me a few hours early at the bee store on Friday so I could spend the evening working at one of the bee booths at the Evergreen State Fair in Monroe, Washington. I worked as a host at the honey and beeswax exhibit in the display hall with the able assistance of two of my grandchildren, Autumn and Chloe Kang.  The exhibit features various hive products people have entered in the fair.  Some of the categories include extracted honey, various types of comb honey, pollen, beeswax, candles, mead, and beekeeping gadgets.  The exhibit also has an observation hive which is a pretty big attraction to the general public.  Its a great opportunity to help educate the public about bees and honey and reduce people's fears about bees.  The booth is located between the grange displays and the handspinners and photography exhibits.  Chloe and Autumn are both a little on the shy side but they did talk to some of the visitors and helped people locate the queen bee in the observation hive. Locating the queen is like an insect version of  "Where's Waldo".

    I had 5 fair entries this year.  They have eight classes of extracted honey according to the color of the honey. The color descriptions range from "water white" to "extra dark amber".  Since I had some maple honey this year and it was slightly darker than my blackberry honey I was able to do two extracted honey entries.  Each honey entry consists of three jars, equally filled.  The honey is graded on things like cleanliness and the absence of air bubbles and foam on the top.  I also entered pollen (again three jars), cut comb honey, and a chunk honey entry.  The cut comb honey is simply a square of honey comb cut from a frame and placed in a square clear plastic container.  The chunk honey consists of three jars with a chunk of honey comb covered with extracted honey.

     I did pretty well with my entries.  All five got blue ribbons and three got big purple "Best of Division" ribbons.  I also got a creative presentation ribbon for my chunk honey entry for a grand total of nine ribbons for my five entries.  Rather than just have three uniform pieces of honey comb in the chunk honey entry I did "I Love Bees" using a letter "I" , a heart, and two letter "B"s in the respective jars.  It didn't turn out as well as I wanted as the heart floated to the top of the jar so that it wasn't as readily apparent that it was a heart.  The pollen entry also got a best of division ribbon, but then it was the only pollen entry.  I have to admit that my main motivation for doing a pollen entry was not particularly pure.  The honey judge is a personal friend.  I knew the judge didn't care for the taste of pollen and he would be  required to taste each pollen entry. The pollen is tasted to make sure it has the proper texture and isn't over dried.

    It is somewhat ironic that my maple honey entry got best of division for the extracted honey.  The extracted honey isn't graded based on how wonderful it tastes as that is very subjective and different people prefer different types of honey.  If the general public were to taste the various entries and grade them based on flavor my maple entry would probably have been rated pretty low.  Maple honey has an odd medicinal flavor that many people don't care for. Rachel has described it as tasting like cough syrup. While I think it tastes a lot better than cough syrup that is a great example of "Damning with faint praise". It is by far not one of my favorite honeys.  However, it was very pretty and clean so it won the beauty contest so to speak.