Little Garden of Horrors

Sue is back, and it’s a good thing she goes on her daily walks – as her garden provides more stress than it should!


Pak Choy (AKA Audrey)

Early this year, I decided to tame the strawberry plants that had wandered out of their raised bed and filled the pathway. I dug out the bed, filled it with compost, added fertilizer, and replanted it with the biggest plants. The bed looked nice and neat, and I was very pleased with myself.

Later, when I weeded the bed, I left a few mystery sprouts “to see what they were.” In the blink of an eye (well, maybe a few weeks), the mystery sprouts were already growing much taller than the strawberry plants. When I finally had time to attend to the bed again, the mystery plants had grown into monsters, towering above the strawberries.

I named the biggest one Audrey 2 and slowly backed away, being careful not to make any sudden movements. I knew I needed to do some research and come back with the right arsenal. (If you’re a sci-fi fan like me, you know this is the correct strategy for dealing with a potential space alien invasion.)

Consulting last year’s seed packets, I found that Audrey and her seven sisters are not from outer space and are actually pak choi (AKA bok choy). It’s one of those veggies that are in a lot of Asian dishes — nondescript, but tasty. When I tried growing it before, it was scrawny and flowered right away, and so it went right into the compost pile. Ah-ha! The compost!

Audrey will go into the dinner pot tonight before she gets any bigger. Her sisters will soon follow. I guess the life lesson of the story is don’t be too quick to discard things that are unexpected and don’t fit the plan. Sometimes waiting to see what grows can provide you with tasty results.

Walking; Exercise for your Head

Scenario: You get to work and there’s ????????????????an empty donut box in the break room. The coffee pot is empty. In your email, there are already four fires and an invitation to a three-hour meeting. By lunch time, it’s hard to hear what your coworkers are saying over the sound of steam coming out of your ears.

When the pressure is on, how do you keep your head from exploding? One of the best remedies out there is going for a walk. I’m not saying that a walk will magically refill the donut box, but it may offer a timely escape so you can reset your brain. In fact, walking every day is good preventive medicine. I usually walk five days a week. (Coincidentally, I also work five days a week.)

If you’re ready to take the cure, here are my top five tried and true tips:

  1. Pick a convenient time. I hear morning walks are nice, but there is no chance in H that I am going to get up extra early. Plus midday or right after work is usually when I need the chill time, not the morning. So I use half of my lunch hour to walk.
  2. Schedule your walking time on your calendar. Since I work at a computer, I schedule a recurring appointment using my email software. A reminder pops up five minutes before it’s time to head out the door. (By the way, I schedule my lunch, too.) Another option would be to set a similar alert on your cell phone.
  3. Wear comfortable shoes and have them at the ready. This is the point in the article where I get on my soapbox. I sold shoes back in olden times, so please believe me when I tell you wingtips, work boots, pumps, or flip-flops won’t cut it for walking. Running, walking, or cross-training shoes all work well. Make sure they fit well and have plenty of room for your toes. The insole should be thick and cushy to absorb some of the impact of your heel hitting the ground and save your knees. And the shoes should have a nonskid tread so you will be less likely to slip if you walk on a smooth or wet surface.

    In addition to the shoes I have at home, I keep a pair of walking shoes at my desk. That way, I always have the right footwear when it’s time to walk, and I don’t have the schlep them back and forth between work and home.If you want to buy new, snazzy shoes for walking, you certainly can, but you don’t have to.

    Once my good sports shoes start wearing out, I turn them into new designated walking shoes and take them into work. Then, the old walking shoes become beach or garden shoes (or go into the trash).

  4. Hook up with walking buddies. You might be surprised how many other people need to escape. Pick friends/coworkers who don’t mind listening to a vent from time to time, and be a good walking buddy yourself by being willing to listen. I meet my walking buddies at the same place and time every day. Since we’re all at computers, I usually send an instant message reminder to the group about 30 minutes in advance. It helps to know who to wait for and who’s not going to show.
  5. Be safe. Walking with friends also increases your personal safety. Be aware of your surroundings—traffic, people, things on the ground. Let other people know about your walk. Keep safety in mind when choosing routes. Bring your cell phone with you.

Like any prescription, this comes with a warning: Side effects may include weight loss, more energy, and feelings of wellbeing. If you experience any of these symptoms, keep up the good work!

All I Need to Know, I Learned from My Bees

At times, the best part of being active is clearing your mind from the everyday stresses. This is what our guest blogger, Sue, has been doing with her bee keeping. Although Sue is young in her bee keeping years, she already has a great appreciation for the bee’s and the lessons they provide:

This spring, I took the plunge into beekeeping. I got the gear, set up a hive in my backyard, and bought two pounds of bees plus queen. (Yes, they are sold by the pound.) Although beekeeping isn’t for everyone, I think it’s pretty cool and I’ve already learned a lot—and not just about bees. I’ve noticed that bees have a lot to teach us.Sue Roberts In Bee Gear 2

If you try something and it doesn’t work out, try something else. Nobody likes flowers as much as bees. That’s where they get their food. But once a clump of flowers is done, the bees move on to other flowers. They don’t worry about it, take it personally, get angry, or wait around on the chance more flowers will bloom; they just move on and try something else. By letting go of things that are done and being open to new ideas and opportunities, bees are more successful.

If something happens, get back on track as soon as possible. You might think the life of a bee is all flowers and sunshine, but that’s not the case. For example, the day I picked up my bees, they had a long trip in a small box. I’m sure their experience was like a car trip with coworkers from Medford to Portland with no lunch or bathroom stops. When everyone finally got out of the box, they didn’t go right to work. After first using the bathroom, they started flying around like crazy. By the way, when a big event like this happens, bees figure the day is blown and don’t do much after that. However the next day, the bees had adapted to the changes and were right back on track.

Make good use of your time. From dawn to dusk, the bees are all busy doing something. Once the morning sun hits the hive, nobody hits the snooze button. EverySue Roberst bees-May2015body has a plan for the day and gets right to it. Even if a bee stops for donuts or a little shopping on the way to the flowers, they still get right back on task after the break. And bees don’t stay out very late in the evening. After a full day of doing bee things, they’re ready to head to the hive, put their six feet up, and call it a night. Life is short, especially if you’re a bee, so they make the most of it.

We all matter. When it’s really hot, bees turn on the fans. A group will line up in the hive and fan their wings to move the air. This line of bees extends right out the front door onto the porch. (The hive porch probably has a technical name, but I always think of it as the porch.) While other bees may have more glamorous jobs like gathering pollen or building comb, the fan bees are vital to cooling the hive. And each one in line is important to the whole organization. So, think about this the next time you’re feeling the heat or your work seems tedious. Even if you’re the last guy in line with your bee hind hanging out the door, what you do is important and you matter.


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