Got Chaos? Look Up at the Sky

Helen Baldwin avatar

by Helen Baldwin |

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As teens, my husband, Randy, and his brother kept bees in their family’s tiny backyard. Way back then, the protective gear was flimsy at best, and they both eventually sought less painful hobbies.

The opening of a new local beekeeping store just before Randy’s retirement a few years ago rekindled his interest, however, and we were off to the races — or rather, the hives.

While I love watching the fascinating bees at work, living with a beekeeper who strives to teach others and make money with bees and honey is, um, never dull. In a workshop Santa would envy, and with skilled workmanship, Randy assembles woodenware, or hive components, for us and others.

Two hives Randy built for fellow beekeepers. (Photo by Helen Baldwin)

Over the years, Randy amassed so many hive boxes that he was on the brink of — horror — discarding some, until he learned how expensive they had become. No longer were they in jeopardy of being tossed, he’d just clean them up and use them.

All the boxes and used frames had to be stored somewhere, though, and that somewhere is currently our modest deck and side porch — the one we use to come and go. Not only is there clutter all over, but also the bees tend to be quite curious as to what Bee Daddy is hiding on the porch, which can make coming and going somewhat challenging.

Randy is in the process of demolishing our ramshackle storeroom and replacing it with a honey shed for all things related to beekeeping. Based on his various past construction masterpieces, it should be wonderful in every way.

Meanwhile, many of the necessities of beekeeping (not on the deck or porch, that is) hog up our small kitchen. Randy extracts honey, bottles honey, creams honey, mixes up gallons of sugar water to feed the bees before pollen appears, and on and on. As almost everything is sticky, the ants have begun their annual pilgrimage.

Honey, honey everywhere. (Photo by Helen Baldwin)

Our dining room houses boxes of jars full of honey and empty ones for future honey. My desk serves as the labeling station.

Add any of my own various projects, and our house looks like it’s about to implode. Or maybe it already did.


Besides the beekeeping chaos is our three-legged washer that has to be restrained from wandering off during spin cycles, and our nondrying dryer (the heating part hopefully won’t get lost in the mail). And then there’s the leak in the kitchen when it rains, and the kitchen window that won’t open all the way. (But at least it opens, unlike one in the living room. And it does close all the way, unlike a few others, so there’s that.)

Should I mention the two old riding mowers that can pull a little trailer for hauling hive boxes and tools to the hives — but not mow?

Adding insult to injury, because the siding to half the old shed has been pulled off, random pieces of junk scattered all over during a recent big wind. Two large pieces of insulation board made their way into the two cow pastures across the road (because retrieving them from just one sloppy pasture wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun). The cow fence stopped numerous other items from meandering off any farther, and thank goodness for that.


Ironically or not, I signed up for our local litter sweep recently. Considering the state of our shed, and the yard chaos in general at the moment, I could have filled bags without leaving our property. However, I ventured out on our relatively short road and stuffed two big garbage bags before running out of time. At least something looked cleaned up.


The beautiful scenery (mountains, the New River, streams and creeks, cow/horse/bison pastures, Christmas tree farms) and peaceful vibes in the rural area where we live keep our gratitude cup full. The sky is especially noteworthy, no matter what, day or night, sunny or cloudy, hot or frigid. The stars, without competition from bright city lights, never disappoint. The night our baby Jeffrey snagged his wings and freedom from spinal muscular atrophy several years ago, the twinkling star was a true godsend.

Running errands usually provides me some beneficial pondering time. On my way home the other day, frustrated and overwhelmed with the mess that would greet me, I looked at the sky ahead and almost burst into tears.

It was such a simple scene: patches of heavy fog lifting to reveal sunny skies. It symbolized perfectly what I felt (fogged) and what I desired (sunny skies). As if forewarned, by the time I arrived home, Randy had already packed up the cumbersome honey extractor and gathered spare honey buckets to deliver to a beekeeper friend. Valuable space was freed in our kitchen and in my head.

Today is Look Up at the Sky Day. Whether you have chaos or not, do just that.

It’s like a prayer with no words.


Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today, or its parent company, Bionews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.


JoAnn Derden avatar

JoAnn Derden

What a simple solution to all kinds of problems! When we are surrounded by troubles and kinks which have a habit of bunching up and beating us up, let's search for calm, and in the blink of any eye we have an abundance of peace and beauty beyond our dreams. Helen has reminded us of this powerful, simple solution which surrounds every one of us.

Another one of God's magnificent gifts!

Helen Baldwin avatar

Helen Baldwin

Thanks, Mom! There's often a pretty simple solution to all kinds of problems, thank goodness!


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