A little over a month ago, Ann started writing for Busted Halo, an "online magazine for spiritual seekers" published by the Paulist priests. She is answering scripture questions for their "question box," and you can see all of her articles here. Feel free to submit some questions and see if you can stump her! This new job coincides with her teaching another section of her Intro to the Four Gospels class this summer at a local Paulist parish - Newman Hall on the Cal Berkeley campus.
Yes, as you can see here, Ann is very pregnant. The baby's estimated due date is May 2.
This pregnancy has been quite a ride, including a lot more first trimester "all-day-sickness" than with Madeleine, and a little one that decided to go breech on us for a few weeks recently. At the moment, she/he is head down, and we're hoping it will stay that way.
Once again we're among the 7% of Americans who choose not to find out the gender ahead of time, and when people ask, "What are you having?" Paul takes devilish delight in responding, "Well, we know it's a baby."
Madeleine is pretty excited, and we're planning for her to be present either for the birth itself or in the first few moments afterward if the baby is born at home as we're hoping.
Ann wrote up the story of the labor and delivery leading up to Madeleine's birth and submitted it to the journal Midwifery Today. It was accepted and has just been published in the Winter 2008 issueas "A Surprise Posterior Brow Birth." The article is not available on the MT website to non-subscribers and we decided not to publish it here because of some graphic anatomical details, but we can email you a copy if you let us know you want to read it. They published a few photos of Madeleine with the article: a family photo with her as a newborn, a family photo on her second birthday, and one with her breastfeeding her baby doll.
For two years an Oakland beekeeper kept a beehive in our backyard. After he went missing-in-action when our last colony died off in the fall our neighbor, Dell, and I decided we should go ahead and learn the art and science of beekeeping ourselves. What that has meant practically is that for the last three months I've been learning beekeeping while Dell has been fronting half of the start-up costs for two hives. I read some books about beekeeping, attended the Alameda County Beekeeper's Association meetings, visited other beekeeper's hives in Alameda, and took a local "Introduction to Beekeeping" class.
It has proven to be an intellectually stimulating and exciting diversion from chasing around a toddler, hanging laundry, and cooking meals. The more I've studied, the more intrigued and excited I've become. The science of honey bees is fascinating, and I've been reminded why I was a science major in college. Every time I get home from a class or a meeting I spend the rest of the evening regaling Paul with random facts about bee behavior. For example, the queen bee leaves the hive once in her lifetime when she mates with several males in mid-air. Then she returns to the hive to lay approximately 1,000 eggs a day, every day, for the rest of her life until she dies, gets displaced in the hive by a younger queen, or gets eaten by said younger queen.
Last week, I suited up in a full beesuit for the first time to inspect three colonies at an fellow beekeeper's house a few miles from here. I came home encouraged that I now know enough to begin colonies of my own.
I've been having many nighttime dreams about bees, and have been wringing my hands about where and how I wanted to procure the bees to fill our two hives. Finally, yesterday I got a call from a veteran beekeeper that I could come to catch a swarm with him. It was an exciting afternoon as we had to capture the swarm that was 25 feet high in a tree. The end result was that my neighbors and I drove home from Berkeley with somewhere between 10,000 and 30,000 bees in my trunk. Today as Paul, Madeleine, and I checked on the hive several times, we witnessed hundreds of bees taking their inaugural flights around Dell's backyard as they got their bearings around their new home.
I hope to capture another swarm before the swarm season ends this month to put in the other hive. We'll probably get a honey harvest this year, although some beekeepers have warned me it will probably be "small" -- just 50-60 pounds per hive this year since we're starting from nothing. That will be just fine with me. When Dell and I decided to do this in January, it was because we wanted all our fruit trees well pollinated, so the thought of honey was like the icing on the cake. Now, of course, I'm pretty excited by the prospect of a honey harvest too.
It's a little tricky to make out, but the first photo shows the swarm of bees clinging to a tree limb 25 feet up in the tree. To capture them we attached a painter's bucket with metal hinges to a long pole, raised the bucket to just beneath the swarm, gave it a sharp jab, and all the bees fell into the bucket. Then we literally poured the thousands of bees into my waiting hive on the ground. At dusk, when all the remaining bees found their way into the hive, we closed it up and popped it in the trunk for the ride home. Dell and his wife Pat decided that to celebrate we should stop for a drink on the way home. Before going into the bar and after coming out, we opened the trunk to let the bees get some fresh air. They survived their trip just fine, no worse for the celebratory stopover.
Ann's article "Meeting Jesus Again" is featured on the March 7, 2005 issue of America magazine. Also, her article "The Way of Perfection for Lay Communities" appears in the Spring 2005 issue of Spiritual Life: A Journal of Contemplative Spirituality. You can read the text of these articles and others by Ann right here.