A Death in the Family and Mr. Bee

OK, so yes, we had a death in the family. Well, so to speak… Let me explain. Mr. Bee has been with us a year plus or minus. He is a carpenter bee and boroughs under the wooden steps on our patio. At first, I was freaked out by these massive creatures buzzing about, sometimes purposely running into our heads. Then I Googled them. Turns out they are harmless- ‘cept the female can sting if extremely provoked. Well, now this I get. These are my “people/insects.”

First of all, I have made peace with the fact that the generations have felt safe in my softwood stairs. My cats love chasing them around. This year there were at least 2. I know this sounds crazy but they literally fly up to my kitchen sink window and hover, much the drones that haunt me while watching the moon and trying to sleep over the ocean at our ocean place.

Our first summery day happened yesterday. 85 and sunny. Yet, the pollen is fallin’ like rain. So, before our family day by the pool today I cleaned out the skimmers. There was this enormous insect in there. I was totally freaked. No hair on the body at all, but long legs. Gross. I tried to analyze the oversized body, but my mortician skills are weak at best. Then it dawned on me. MR BEE! No, it couldn’t be. I know their lifespan is limited, but he had a happy home, I was hoping for some longevity. Strangest connection, the one I have with nature. Seriously, I go to my friend’s house to walk together and as I wait in her driveway- low and behold, two massive carpenter bees come by to hover right next to me. Looking at me. Hanging in the air like drones. Now, again, I know this sounds CRAY CRAY. But people, I recently read a boredom article about a chick who befriended at bee with a broken wing. The bee took to her, would climb on her, recognized her.

Listen, just pay attention to nature-and no, I am not on acid. 😉

Share with me a story about your experiences with nature like this!




A decent amount of “US” seem to start the summer with the greatest of intentions. Torn between just plain LAZINESS and the ever-present old-fashioned GUILT, we honorably and optimistically see summer as a BONDING opportunity with our children. The alternative, SHLEPPING them back and forth to CAMP each day sounds like GROUNDHOG DAY as we are BONE TIRED from the 9 month GRAND SCHLEP of the school year. The idea of NO STRUCTURE beckons us, lures us in with visualizations of sleepy mornings and BUCOLIC scenes in the park.

The WORKING contingent in our family, in this case my HUSBAND, sees MAMA CAMP as a FISCAL NO BRAINER and, from his perspective, a CAKE WALK.  “You have the FREEDOM to do anything you want with them!” he proclaims, excitedly. The SUPER HERO ROAD WARRIOR, HEROIC PROVIDER,  GRAND PRIX RACER AGAINST THE CLOCK, LIST MAKER and PERPETUAL DOER has no qualms whatsoever with “suggesting” an ongoing, INSURMOUNTABLE list of activities and adventures. You see, most of the week, he will live vicariously THROUGH me, WITH us by virtue of the APPLE GODS as he traverses the country WORKING.  With us in SPIRIT, yet armed with the incredible SUPER POWER of gracefully bowing out with a light tap of his Ichabod Crane-like pointer finger.

And so the Summer of 2014 began with this NOBLE vision. I told everyone I knew that the REAL beauty of our OCEANFRONT pad was the incredible playground that is our FRONT YARD. Truth be told, we have MANY incredible MOMENTS scattered though out each day.  It’s just that, well, turns out that MAMA CAMP is as BONE TIRING as all of the SCHLEPPING. Beginning with the HIGH BAR set by not just the WORKING CONTINGENT, but MAMA and the KIDS too, we struggle with an ALL or NOTHING (read:sleep drunkenness) approach to our days. Trouble is, once you FEED these MONKEYS the GOOD stuff, the ROLLER COASTERS, the 130ft BUNGEE  jump at THE FABULOUS DEL MAR FAIR (which, by the way, is probably what most kids AND adults think HEAVEN looks like),  the DRIVING of the GOLF CART, the MONSTER ice cream cones, the SIMULATED WAVES to ride, etc. etc. there is literally and figuratively, no where to go but DOWN when you are the JULIE McCOY, Cruise Director/Camp Counsellor/Entertainment Coordinator of the MALONE FAMILY LIFE.

IF you know me well, you probably know MY story.  It begins in my toddler years when my family nicknamed me “MOTHER.” I was the middle child who nurtured my 5 siblings with EASE, like I had somehow done it before…(PAST LIFE?). We ALL have stories, recurring THEMES in our lives. As you hit The Illustrious MIDDLE AGE—-who came up with this? It should be a stage people can look forward to like “The STAGE of ENLIGHTENMENT”—-you FINALLY START to make sense of the often EXCRUCIATING lessons that vividly begin connecting in a positive way to your SELF ACTUALIZED, (wiser?) SELF. If I manage to hook you with my anecdotal musings, I promise you will laugh, cry, and be able to envision these now connected, sometimes DANGLING, LIVE WIRES (trust issues), nerve endings if you will, that will no doubt be familiar to you as you live out your OWN story.

So perhaps now you can see where I am GOING with this whole MAMA CAMP thing. After being completely, methodically alienated (PARENTAL ALIENATION is a real epidemic) from my 2 older children-now in their upper 20s-Devan (girl) and Cody (boy),  I was eventually BLESSED with 2 more, Russell and Shea (girl), at a time in my life where not only can I afford it (HA!), I can actually LIVE it with an OPEN heart.  The road to MAMA CAMP has been long and littered with intense lessons and heartbreak (NOT only mine). Not until RIGHT NOW have I TRULY been in a safe “place” to share it, with humor, a WEE bit of wisdom, and an OH-SOOOOOOO-BITTERSWEET heart.

Before I break, I want to share a BEAUTIFUL anecdote from MAMA CAMP with Russell early this week. In trying to keep the excitement level HIGH for my 10-going-on-16 bungee jumping THRILL SEEKER, we rented a wave runner and headed out to the NO SPEED LIMIT ZONE in the bay. As he climbed on the seat behind me,  he said, “THIS IS GOING TO BE THE LONGEST HUG I HAVE EVER GIVEN YOU!” Because Russell is so deep, (and get this, he REALLY likes ME…) he ALWAYS thinks like this-his innocence still in tact. Once we got out to the OPEN WATER, he slid into the seat in front of me and proceeded to take me on a FULL THROTTLE HELL RIDE.


Shea and Russell, living THE LIFE
Shea and Russell, living THE LIFE

Hope your hooked…more soon. 🙂