So today started out dumb, but this afternoon was AWESOME.
I’m on the porch attempting to construct a railing for the stairs when I notice a weird noise. Like, a kind of droning or buzzing? And it’s getting loud. So I investigate. It’s coming from the neighbor’s yard.
It is a metric fuckton of bees. I have never seen so many bees in my life. It is a fucking swarm of bees, and I have been reading about bees because I got a wild hair a few weeks back about wanting a hive of my own, but haven’t yet convinced Husbandthing, and there is suddenly a SWARMING HERD OF WILD HONEYBEES IN THE NEIGHBOR’S YARD.
I see postings on the neighborhood page all the time for feral swarm collection, but I also know the guy in the house across the alley just set up a hive. “Hey I think your hive escaped,” I text him.
He calls me back about three minutes later. Turns out, the swarm he was supposed to get never came; the company went out of business and his order got cancelled, and he’d found out HALF AN HOUR AGO. And he says he’s got a friend who is a professional beekeeper, and he’s going to go pick her up and would it be okay if they came and got this swarm please please please?
So Bee Neighbor and Professional Beekeeper show up and immediately don bee suits. Apparently there is fierce competition for feral swarms, and the swarm in the neighbor’s tree is HUGE, and also twenty feet off the ground, and Bee Neighbor wants them very badly.
The tree the bees are in is in a yard belonging to neither of us, so we go knock on the door, but there’s no answer. I knock on the house adjacent to it, but that guy’s not home either. Finally, I text the neighbor on the other side of me to see if he’s got contact info for the property owner, who is incredibly shy and in three years has never made eye contact. No luck.
So…we trespass. We get my extension ladder, and Bee Neighbor climbs the tree while Professional Beekeeper stands on the ladder and walks him through the swarm collection. Turns out, you just shake the swarm into a box, and as long as the queen makes it into the box, the rest of the swarm will eventually follow. Bee Neighbor has never collected a swarm before (this is, in fact, his very first swarm of bees ever) and it takes the two of them the better part of an hour in the tree trying to shake the swarm into the box.
Bees eventually get into the box. Bee Neighbor gets out of the tree without dying, and Professional Beekeeper examines the swarm and makes pleased noises. At this point, the box is the neighbor’s driveway, and about two thirds of the swarm is still milling around the box all confused. Since the neighbor isn’t home and we can’t contact him, he risks coming and parking right in the middle of a huge cloud of bees. Professional Beekeeper doesn’t want to move the box too far away, because we risk the milling bees losing the queen’s scent and never going into the box. An equidistant point between the current location and Bee Neighbor’s yard is the top of my recycling bin.
So they put the box of bees on my recycling bin, and I text Husbandthing.
Now I have a box of bees that I am babysitting. They’re being all lazy and dopey and bumbling around. I think I might be in love. Bee Neighbor will pick the box up later tonight and put them in his hive, and then the bees will be MY neighbors too!!
Box braids didn’t become popular until the early 80′s when the GOAT Patrice Rushen took to the R&B and jazz scene
But at the time, they weren’t really called “box braids.” They were individual braids inspired by North African cultural aesthetics, especially Egyptian. However, box braids have their roots in our home region, West Africa as well.
Early on, you saw a peep of these beautiful, intricate hairstyle in the late 70′s from the female singers in Oddysey and S.O.S. Band
I believe both singers from these bands appeared with these hairstyles in the year 1977. So box braids have been here in African-American culture for a LONG time. It just didn’t really become a fad until the early 90′s because before then, these hairstyles were looked at as “trippy” Afrocentric hairstyles that artists would wear to get in touch with their African roots. The 80′s was a time where a lot of African-American artists’ fashion were inspired by West and North African roots.
At the turn of the decade, you began to see box braids become more mainstream with Janet Jackson, Naomi Campbell’s ethereal ass, rapper Yo-Yo, and Jada Pinkett Smith.
Then in the mid 90′s, Stacey Dash makes braids en vogue by sporting the famous look in Clueless.
All the middle to upper-class girl caught on to box braids because of this but who should really get credit is the incomparable, Brandy Norwood!
Ask for “Moesha” at the hair salon, and it was say no more.
Mariah’s white-passing ass tried them on for size in her Thank God I Found You remix video and they looked dope!
And then here comes sexy stemme Alicia Keys bringing back our great-great-great North African ancestry in 2001
She made cornrows cool for all the black girls in grade school!
And I almost forgot! Beyonce really made kinky twists hot in the early ‘00s as well
Always looking like somebody’s cool redbone cousin rollin’ up at the family cookout
Then Christina Aguilera tried to join in on the fun, but we said, “Nah, sweetie. You Latinx but you not afro honey. But you look cute sis”
*fast forward to several years later*
Unfortunately, box braids were no longer as popular as they were in the early ‘00s. Bad, synthetic weaves dyed a tacky brown were in from 2004-2008.
But in early 2013, box braids had a revival!
Thank you, Keri Hilson! You may not be shit, but you did that thing! I always said you was my hair-fashion icon tho. I can’t stunt on you.
We had Zoe Kravitz make braids cool for the edgy, sarcastic and loner black girls like me!
Soon, we saw so many pictures of black girls modeling box braids on Tumblr and Instagram!
Solange soon rocks these braids because she’s hip and poppin’
Then Christina Milan being Afro-Latina, she had to get in on this
Even Tia or Tamera
Soon, these 90′s R&B girls came back for a reunion with their beautiful, braided locs!
We all saw Ayesha Curry try to butter up to the black female community by taking an adorable selfie with her mama
Now we got Instagram models and actresses making braids en vogue!
(Babyhairs aren’t mandatory and I recommend women with type 4 hair to get these styles. If you are under, I wouldn’t keep these in for very long)
So now box braids are everywhere, and they are the go-to for a black girl’s protective style, especially if they have my hair type! But anyone who is black and of African descent can wear them. You don’t have to have tightly-coiled hair to wear these, but they are what the styles are intended for since the hair is apt for them.
And notice something else; none of these styles were coined or invented by white or non-black women. They were all made and adorned by black women. And Patrice Rushen is the Godmother of protective styles. Don’t whitewash these!
… Lena sneaking vegetables onto Kara’s plate every time Kara flies off to rescue someone or stop some robbery
… Kara noticing every time she gets back and looking over at Lena who, in turn, just looks back all innocently and asks how Kara’s latest outing as Supergirl went
… Kara pointing out that her enhanced metabolism means she needs to consume a lot of calories and that a thousand calories of french fries is a lot easier to eat than a thousand calories of broccoli as she puts the ‘healthy’ food back on Lena’s plate
… Lena pointing out that she’s personally seen Kara fit no less than 5 potstickers into her mouth at one time so a few pieces of broccoli shouldn’t present a challenge to either Kara or Supergirl as she puts the broccoli back onto Kara’s plate
… Kara trying to think of a counter counter argument only to sigh before eating the broccoli
… Kara complaining about Lena never cleaning hair out of the shower drain
… Lena asking how Kara knows its hers
… Kara pointing out that she’s blonde and this hair is not and, oh yeah, it takes a frick’n laser beam to get hair off her head unlike Lena.
… Kara going into the shower the next morning to find Lena’s installed a laser based auto drain cleaner.
… Kara showing up to the DEO with a brown paper bag of lunch/snacks Lena made for her complete little hearts and stars and the Kryptonian symbols for ‘good luck’ ‘love you’ and ‘be safe’ (all of which Kara taught her) drawn around Kara’s name on the front and a note inside warning Alex/Winn not to steal anything from the bag.
… Lena calling Kara to let her know she’ll be late getting home because of some work thing and Kara landing on her balcony 2 minutes later with a picnic basket and a bottle of wine
… And Lena thanking Kara for the gesture but she really doesn’t have time to-
… And Kara interrupts her with ‘Broccoli’ and Lena just sighs (and smiles) and joins Kara on the couch for dinner.
… Lena slowly taking over Kara’s half of the closet/clothes rack
… And Kara pointing this out.
… And Lena pointing out that if they’d moved into her apartment, they’d both had all the room either of them would need
… And Kara asking if Lena’s asking her to move in with her
… And Lena saying yes.
… And Kara saying yes.
… And then there’s a beat and then Lena starts taking things out of the closet/off the rack and when Kara asks what she’s doing, Lena replies ‘Packing’
… And Kara, after a beat, flies off to get some boxes and later that night she gets a text from Alex saying “What the hell happened to your apartment?” and Kara replies ‘Um, yeah, about that…
… And Kara’s cleaning up after the housewarming party the next night (the first Lena’s had in her apartment) and Lena tells her that cleaning up can wait. Besides, she has something more important for Kara to do
Let’s talk about a cat who spent a whole day waiting on a wall, while everyone else was celebrating, because she had heard something and she couldn’t believe it. Because people were laughing for the first time in years, and all she wanted to do was cry.
Let’s talk about a teacher who was strict and severe, but fair and caring. A woman who fought for her students until the very end, with her green robes and stern look, three silver cats flying out of her wand. And they fought for her too.
Let’s talk about Minerva McGonagall.
When Minerva McGonagall saw Harry for the first time, she didn’t see his mother living in his green eyes, like Severus would. She didn’t see James’ ghost in his shy smile, like Sirius; or a hero to be shaped by manipulative hands, like Albus. She didn’t even see an orphan, like the rest of the world did. She didn’t see the boy who lived. She just saw a boy, her student, and for her, that was enough.
Minerva McGonagall survived a war and all that came after. The funerals and the sorrow, but also the laughter that was back. She survived the ghosts and the mourning. She let her heart break over Lily’s death, her hands shaking because James would never make another joke; a sharp, disappointed pain over Sirius’ betrayal (they had been her students. They had been her children) and then she collected the pieces and moved on. It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, Albus said once. And she didn’t dwell on dreams. She was stone and she would not shatter.
She survived a war, and, when she had already buried the dead and forgotten the nightmares, another one came. And she survived it too. She was a rock, and rocks may be weathered, but they don’t break.
When Fred and George Weasley abandoned the school, leaving behind a trail of cheers, admirers and laughter, and a petition (give her hell for us, Peeves), Minerva saw Umbridge’s fury and Peeves’ bow, and hid a smile in the corner of her lips. When Neville Longbottom came to her office, asking for advice, with his clumsy hands and a respectful fear in his eyes, she offered him a biscuit and some tea, and she gave him reassurance with her stern frown and her steady voice.
When Remus Lupin became the DADA teacher, she invited him to her office. She offered him biscuits too, some chocolate this time. They talked for a long time, about old times and forgotten joys, about four friends and their mischiefs and pranks. They looked back on their bets and their antics, their hopes and their dreams. They didn’t talk about death, not that evening, and the Marauders came back to life in that room, their voices rising and stealing pieces of a future they hadn’t gotten to live. They also talked about their students, homework and assignments, because they were teachers after all, and that was something worth remembering.
She gave him a knitted jumper for Christmas. He gave her a box of chocolates. Years later, she would stand by his grave and leave a single flower on it. A flower for the boy she’d known and the man he’d become. The man who was kind and quiet and healing. The man she’d like to have gotten to know better.
Albus died then, a shout and a blaze of green light. A fall, and it was all over. It felt like the end of an age. “Are the rumours true?”, she had asked, once upon a time. Now she wanted to ask Harry the same thing, trying to keep her voice from shaking, because Albus Dumbledore couldn’t be dead, could he? But then again, James and Lily couldn’t have been, either, and yet they had been, they were.
When the Second Wizarding War began, she stayed at the school. She kept teaching, because she was a teacher and she would not let them take that from her. Because her students were there, and she wouldn’t leave them alone. She wouldn’t let them die, all those brave children, if she could do something to save them. She wasn’t like Albus, who had prepared himself to sacrifize a boy in the name of the greater good. A boy’s life for the sake of the world.
After the Battle of Hogwarts, there was a destroyed castle and ashes. Minerva stumbled when she saw George’s desperation and Fred’s frozen smile. She wanted to cry when she came across Lavender’s body. She finally collapsed to her knees, when she found Colin Creevey. She had seen him this still, once before. But there were no mandrake leaves to save him, not this time. He was too young. He shouldn’t have been fighting a war, the brave and naïve boy.
Pomona Sprout kneeled next to her then, and Minerva sobbed on her shoulder.
“A boy”, she cried. “He was a boy, he was a child. Children, they were children.”
Pomona let her weep, and then she said,
“There are children here still. They are alive, and they need you, and more will come, and you’ll be there. And you’ll be fine.”
And she was right. Minerva collected the pieces once again, and she moved on. She sent a box of chocolates to Dennis Creevey, as Remus would have done, because he was so much better at being kind than her. Than any of them, really. Dennis sent her a photograph, an old picture of Albus and her, the Weasley twins laughing in the background. She met Molly Weasley for tea, and they shared anecdotes. And she went back to Hogwarts and she kept teaching, because she was a teacher before anything else. She became the new headmaster. The best one of them all.
Some years later, Neville Longbottom knocked at her door, asking for a job. She remembered all the times he had come, asking for advice with his stammering voice. She remembered the way he had led the resistance, the way he had stood up and defied the ones who had made his parents lose their minds. The way he had worked hard and stubborn, never giving up. She offered him a biscuit and some tea. She had never felt so proud.
When he left, she went through some papers. She looked up and the portrait of Albus Dumbledore winked at her. She smiled and went back to work.
When Teddy Lupin arrived at Hogwarts for the first time, expectation in his eyes and bright colours in his hair, he was nothing like the other orphan who had stared at her once upon a time, the one who had had skinny elbows and broken glasses. Teddy Lupin wasn’t looking for a family, he already had one. But, as she had done before, she saw another student, and for her, that was enough.
She was a teacher. Students were her children. And she was their rock.