Friday, August 31, 2007

Revenge of the Bees

About a month ago I discovered a bees' nest in a shrub outside of the dojo where I take karate classes. Unfortunately, it was right beside the sidewalk so the nest needed to be removed before someone got stung. Not a big story - a can of Raid did the trick, although I did feel a bit bad about the mass killing, even if they are "just bees".

About a week later, I was sitting on my nephew's deck around dusk minding my own business and I felt something land in my hair. Since it was getting dark, I assumed it was a beetle or some other large night insect. The stabbing pain in my hand when I tried to brush it out of my hair told me I was mistaken. It was a bee. That was the first time I've been stung by a bee in the last 15 years or so. Then, a week later, I was hiking in the woods with some friends and again, without any sort of warning, I got stung in the arm by a bee. I'm starting to think they know I'm a bee murderer.

Now this past week, I've started finding a stray hornet or two in my bathroom. I thought it was a bit odd since I've been leaving the windows closed all the time, so I couldn't figure out how they were getting in. Since the ceilings are so high in my condo, and the wasps have generally been keeping to the ceiling area, I've been trying to avoid killing them, but I did have to vaccuum up a couple that were getting a bit too aggressive.

Tonight it appears the most recent wasp brought a bunch of friends. I looked up at the ceiling in my bathroom to see if the wasp was still around and was surprised when I saw this:

Two groups of hornets appear to be sleeping up on the ceiling. Here's a close-up of one group:

I'm not really sure how I should handle this one. The ceilings are 15 feet high, so it's not like it's easy to reach them. I'm hoping when morning comes they'll go back out the way they came in. Then I can try to get up on a ladder and find the hole they're coming in through and plug it. It would be a lot easier if they aren't still inside my condo when I try this. I'd prefer not to be balancing on a ladder 15 feet off the ground while dodging swarming hornets.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Best birthday present ever!

I must be getting sentimental in my old age. Today I received what I consider the best birthday gift ever! One of my sisters (you'll occasionally see her comments here under than pen-name of "shiloh") put together a scrap-book of sorts for my 40th birthday.

It includes photos from various times of my life, interspersed with comments and greetings from friends and family written on index cards , along with a healthy dose of Buddhist quotes and sayings. It must have taken her quite a long time to coordinate and put together and I definitely appreciate all the hard work. It made for a nice close to my birthday - quietly sitting at home alone after karate class thoroughly enjoying soaking up the words and photos from the scrap book.

To all who took the time to leave a message in the book, a heartfelt thanks. And to "shiloh", thanks a million! I couldn't have asked for a happier birthday.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Why Work?

Some friends of mine recently gave me a book. It's called Zen and the Art of Making a Living. Yes, you might say, it's yet another product riding on the trendy "zen" name recognition, but so far it looks to be a very good book. It even mentions Zen more than just in the title of the book. It's a thick meaty book about career choices and finding personally meaningful work. I haven't yet gotten through the first chapter, but I found the following quote thought provoking:

"Work offers the individual the opportunity to share acts of love and beauty, to see himself reflected in the image of his work. By the work that a society chooses to do or not to do, it defines its values and shapes its future. Since work is what we do with most of our waking lives, we must, if we count life valuable, consider what we are working for."

That seems like a pretty good explanation of why I keep revisiting the thought of what I'm doing with my life and the question of should I be doing something different and more meaningful. It's a thought I imagine most people have from time to time. The big question for me is what to do about it. If I ignore the thought, I know it will eventually go away for a time - especially if I just surround myself with enough distractions. Then I can continue in my blissful self-obsorbed existence. But, it does seem to be a compelling thought and given enough time I'll start thinking again about choices I've made in my life, what, if anything, I've been doing that is actually meaningful or helpful to others in the long-term, and wonder why I still haven't made any serious change in what I'm doing. Sure, I donate money to charity, I volunteer some time at a soup kitchen every week, but couldn't I be doing more? Shouldn't I be doing more?

I dunno. It's something I'm trying to figure out. Me and a whole lot of other people, I suppose. Especially given that this Zen and the Art of Making a Living Book is in it's second "expanded and updated" edition.