Monday, October 20, 2014

Day # 602 Scotland Here We Come

As you know - if you've read most of my blog posts, I sing with the Gwinnett Choral Guild. Last Saturday, we performed "A Diminished Mass" by Scottish composer Alan A. Craig. Not only did Mr. Craig travel from Glasgow, Scotland to be here for the North American premier of his incredible composition, he brought with him a letter from the First Premier of Scotland, congratulating him and acknowledging the GCG and the friendship between Scotland and the USA.

Believe me, it was a BIG DEAL.

Naturally, Alan wore his kilt.

Fran Stewart & Alan A. Craig

At the dress rehearsal, he told us he had written this version of the Mass to paint a picture with music of what the words said. "Do what you're doing with it," he told us, "only do it more." His Scottish r's rolled as he spoke, and we stepped up to the challenge.

Fortunately, I'd managed to memorize the entire 44 minutes of the piece, so it allowed me to focus all my intention on projecting the images he'd woven into his stunning music. The Gloria was glorious, the credo was declarative, the Sanctus felt truly holy, and the ending - dona nobis pacem / give us peace - brought tears to many eyes (including mine).

There was a long, magic moment of silence when the music ended.

At the celebration afterwards, Alan invited us to Glasgow to perform there.

Scotland, here we come!

And don't you just know, I'll be getting all sorts of ideas for my next ScotShop mystery while I'm there.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Day #601 - I Just Had to Come Back

Okay, Okay. I know I said 600 days. But that was two years ago. It's time to start up again.

I can't promise I'll blog every day, but so much has been going on, I want a place in addition to my website to talk about it.

As in the past I'll deal with bees and other stuff. I've become much more interested in our native bumblebees (ever since developing the allergy to honeybee stings).

I know you've heard the word about how bumblebees are structurally unable to fly. The wings are too small for the bulk of the body. 

But we all know the bumblebees pay no attention to scientific theories. They just keep flying.

What does all this have to do with why I'm starting up my blog again?

Well, there was a time when I thought I'd never fly. My Biscuit McKee Mystery Series wings seemed too small to let me soar.

But then a New York agent found me online, offered me a chance to write a new series "with a Scottish flavor," and was I interested?

Ohmigosh, was I interested! 

This bumblebee took off flying, writing about Peggy, the owner of the ScotShop in Hamelin VT, and Dirk, the 14th-century Scottish ghost she just happened to acquire on a buying trip to Scotland.

A WEE MURDER IN MY SHOP will be released March 3, 2015, I've already submitted the manuscript for the second book, and am busy researching the third one.

In future blogs I'll clue you in on some of the behind-the-scenes goings-on in the world of a bee-loving writer.

Am I continuing the Biscuit McKee series? Oh yes. In fact, GRAY AS ASHES is being released this month. If you're in the Buford GA area on October 25th, stop by Books for Less mybfl.com  between 1 and 3 p.m.

GRAY AS ASHES deals with multiple cases of arson in Martinsville, Biscuit gets pretty ticked off when a firebug burns down her beloved garden shed. And then there's the dead body in the fourth place that burns.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Day #600 Goodbye to the Bee Blog

© Yelloideas Photography
Six hundred blog posts ago, I wasn’t sure I’d get this far. Each evening, when I sat down to write the post for the next day, I simply cast around for whatever topic was on my mind, wrote about it, and scheduled it to publish the next morning at 12:01.


Some entries were thoughtful, some informative; some were silly, others were sad. I never worried very much about what to say, though. After all, there was always going to be another day. Another day to be wiser. Another day to be better informed. Another day to shine. I'm a writer. I can always write. Right?




Well, all those other days have disappeared. I’m left with the knowledge that this will be my last post on this blog site, and I quite frankly don’t know what to say.


I feel like I’ve already said it all. When you read this blog, you see me as I am. You know a great deal about my life--not just what’s been happening for the past almost two years, but how my life has been shaped by the forces of history, of habit, of whimsy.

I hope you’ve learned not only a great deal about bees, but a great deal about life itself, and I hope you realize, as I do, that there need never be an end to the learning.


I leave you now, trusting that you’ll keep in touch. It’s easy to do: just go to the CONTACT tab on my website. While you're there, sign up for my new blog/newsletter and find out about my next adventures.

And now, 
  • If you’ve been with me from the beginning of the BeesKneesBeekeeping Blog, I give you my deepest thanks.
  • If you came in somewhere around the middle, I’m glad you joined the parade, and I encourage you to browse through the archives.
  • If you’ve been an occasional drop-in visitor to the blog, I do hope you’ve enjoyed your time(s) here.
  • If you've left comments, I'd like you to know I've thoroughly enjoyed our conversations.
To borrow (and change) a line from an old song:


"The bees and I are whispering goodbye..."



BEEattitude for Day #600:
       Blessed are those who gather nectar when they say they will, for they shall collect rich yellow pollen along the way, and shall enrich the hive.







_______________________________ 
The teeny details:
my books: Please buy them from an independent bookstore or directly from my website.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Day #599 Garage Door Saga

Pat Gerard, the archivist who is working on my papers (doesn’t that sound official?), sent me this link last week when she read that I was being required by Gwinnett County to get rid of the “graffiti” on my garage doors.


I wish I had the courage (and the artistic talent) to do this, but I’m sure it would be labeled graffiti as well.

The tag line on Pat’s email, by the way, was a quotation from Tennyson:
Proverbs are "jewels five words long, that, on the stretched forefinger of time, sparkle forever."


My garage door went from looking like this:













to looking like this: 





















to looking like this (with the second coat of purple and the green around the windows):


















Not a bad trade after all, I’d say. And now, I’m not going to say anything more about that door. Except to say that I painted the front door of my house purple, too!



BEEattitude for Day #599:
       Blessed are those who look on the bright side, the way we bees do, for they shall have sunny days despite the clouds.

_______________________________ 
The teeny details:
my books: Please buy them from an independent bookstore or directly from my website.



Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Day #598 Remembering September 11th


I firmly believe that if it’s a person’s time to leave this planet, nothing can hold that person back. I also believe that if it’s NOT time for the soul to go on to other work, nothing and nobody can force a death to happen. That said, there still is no way to know when it’s time. 

On this day, besides remembering with deep respect the people (particularly the firefighters) who gave their lives, I like to think about all the people who missed the bus, didn’t make the train, had a sick child and needed to stay home from work. People who missed their flight. People who quit their job the day before.  All the people who would, should have been in those buildings, but who, for a higher reason that we do not, cannot understand, were not there.

I’ve experienced the death of a close friend only twice in my life. And I was with my parents when they each died. Those four times were not events that affected you, however. Still, I know that, if you are of a certain age, you and I share a few deaths that hit everyone in this country and maybe even around the world. People older than I will recall exactly where they were when they learned that Pearl Harbor had been attacked. Maybe you do, or perhaps you’ll remember only the last of these four dates:

  • 11/22/1963 - I was a junior in high school, home sick for the first time that year. My mother called me from work and told me the president had been shot. I turned on the television and watched for the entire day, alternating between all three channels.

  • 4/4/1968 - Living in Vermont. Unwilling to believe that MLK was gone.

  • 6/6/1968 - RFK’s assassination felt like a gut-kick. Twice in two months.

  • 9/11/2001 I was babysitting my 1-year-old granddaughter that day at my daughter’s house.

Where were you for each of these events?


BEEattitude for Day #598:
       Blessed are those who do the job they’re meant to do, and who love the work they do, for the honey they produce shall be sweet indeed.

_______________________________ 
The teeny details:
my books: Please buy them from an independent bookstore or directly from my website.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Day #597 The World As It Isn’t


Someone sent me a link to one of those TED shows recently, and I thoroughly enjoyed a speech by Kathryn Shultz, in which she spoke about the value of recognizing that we make mistakes. One of the things she said, though, really struck home:

“The miracle of your mind isn’t that you can see the world as it is. It’s that you can see the world as it isn’t.”

Her idea seemed to be (and I’ll admit I may have missed something here) that this quality of being able to think into the future or the past, to use our imaginations, was what set human beings apart from other species. Maybe she didn’t say that, but I know there are folks out there who believe something along this line.

But then I go to Koko.org or read some of their newsletters and see Koko (at 35 years old and nearing the end of her reproductive years) talking in sign language about how she’d love to have a baby, or telling how she was sad when her good friend and fellow gorilla Michael died.

Or I read Jodi Picoult's beautiful, thought-provoking book Lone Wolf, and learn what wolves are capable of planning for the future.

The world as it is, and the world as it isn’t, is a lot bigger than we think.


BEEattitude for Day #597:
       Blessed are those whose world is bigger than the inside of their head, for they shall live a rich, full life indeed.

_______________________________ 
The teeny details:
my books: Please buy them from an independent bookstore or directly from my website.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Day #596 First Coat


The saga continues::

Yesterday morning I got up early, went out and put a first coat of paint on the garage door. 
The faces are gone.

Rats!

It still needs a second coat before it looks halfway decent, and I'm almost ashamed to post a picture of it at this stage of the game, but I promised to keep you informed.

The ragged-looking first coat.


I’m thinking of putting a thin line of emerald green around the eyes--’scuse me, I mean the windows--to match the shutters. And then I may put a thin line of purple around each emerald green shutter. 

We wouldn’t want conformity to be too boring, would we?

Several butterflies came by to check it out. The good news is -- they didn’t land in the wet paint.

I don;'t think we're in Kansas anymore, Toto.


BEEattitude for Day #596:
       Blessed are those who make the best of what they have on hand, for they shall be able to entertain themselves.

_______________________________ 
The teeny details:
my books: Please buy them from an independent bookstore or directly from my website.


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Day #595 Arisaidh


You’ll never guess what I did -- 

Ancient Stewart Hunting
But before I tell you what I did, you’ll need to understand that I’m working on a new book - a brand new mystery series that has a character who is from Scotland, and another one with some pretty strong Scottish connections.

I figure I’ll be doing some book signings here and there when the book comes out.

So . . .

I bought an arisaidh from Misty Thicket Clothing.

I can hear you. You're saying, “What the heck is an arisaidh?”

I’m glad, as I so often say, that you asked. An arisaidh is sort of a cross between a skirt and a kilt and a cloak, worn by 14th-century women in the Scottish Highlands. 


Nowadays the usual spelling is a-r-i-s-a-i-d, but I think it needs that extra letter on the end to make it look - well, Scottish.

It's worn belted around the waist, and the top part can be pinned at the shoulder or used as a cover-up when the weather is inclement -- I always wanted an excuse to use that word,

Or it can be worn down.



These pictures are from the Misty Thicket website, by the way.

Keep in mind, I ordered a Stewart Ancient Hunting Tartan (see the example at the top), so the pattern of mine will look different than this one the model is wearing. Mine will have more greens and lighter blues.

And the other difference is than my hair doesn’t flow down my back like hers. <<<<< sigh >>>>>



BEEattitude for Day #595:
       Blessed are those who live life to the fullest, for when their wings wear out, they will be able to say, "Life was good."

_______________________________ 
The teeny details:
my books: Please buy them from an independent bookstore or directly from my website.


Friday, September 7, 2012

Day #594 Car Wash


Before I talk about the car wash, I want to let you know my new, long-awaited website is up and running. You can now order books directly from FranStewart.com. It's a beautiful site -- I hope you'll check it out -- and tell your friends who might want to pick up a good mystery! 

While you're there, sign up to receive my newsletter, and check out my new blog. There's only one entry there now, but it will fill up soon enough, I'm sure.

Now, on to today's saga:


I had my car washed a couple of days ago, at no extra charge.


I’d gone to Rancho Alegre, the organic farm in Dacula, GA where I buy produce and meat and all sorts of other goodies.


When I came out, I found that my car had been washed by two of the Rancho Alegre employees.


They did a pretty good job, too. No soap, of course, and the lick marks are hardly distinguishable. Rubbing their sides against the car helped to dry it afterwards.


Of course, I had to wait until the wash and dry was completed before I drove home, but I wasn't in a hurry. I live on bee-time now.

























BEEattitude for Day #594:
       Blessed are those who give good value for the jobs they do, for they shall rest easier when they return to the hive.

_______________________________ 
The teeny details:
my books:  http://www.franstewart.com Please buy them from an independent bookstore or directly from my website.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Day #593 Pokeberry Dye


The next time you eat honey, take a moment to appreciate the work (by the bees) that went into creating it and the work (by humans) that went into harvesting and packaging it. And that reminds me of another close-to-the-land industry: yarn.

When I was in Washington DC a year or so ago, I met the wonderful people at Solitude Wool. I signed up for email notices, and get some of the cutest pictures as a result.

In yesterday's newsletter, they were talking about making dyes from pokeberries. I doubt I could ever gather enough pokeberries because the cardinals in my yard eat them faster than imaginable. At any rate, they gathered a huge pan full of berries, mushed them and strained them, cooked them like crazy for hours and hours, and got enough dye for one skein of yarn.

In their own words, “it took 2.5 pounds of pokeberries to dye 1.6 oz of yarn. That is nuts! To do a 4 pound dye lot, I would need 100 pounds of poke berries. Don't expect to be seeing pokeberry dyed yarn for sale at the market…”

BEEattitude for Day #593:
       Blessed are those who appreciate the work we bees do, for their honey shall taste sweeter.

_______________________________ 
The teeny details:
my books:  http://www.franstewart.com Please buy them from an independent bookstore or directly from my website.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Day #592 DBF in 90-degree weather


Last Saturday, when I was working the Atlanta Writers Club booth at the Decatur Book Festival, a woman stopped by and asked if she could take my picture. “Sure,” I said, and held up an AWC brochure.

Mary Gilmartin, the one taking the picture, had invited me a number of months ago to speak to her writers group. I did, and we had a great discussion. It was good to see her again.

Yesterday, she sent me a link to her blog post about the book festival. The following paragraph was just one of many describing the wonders of that Labor Day weekend event. I was honored to have been a part of it, although I didn't see a single honey bee the entire day...

I first discovered Fran Stewart when she hosted a one-year project in 2009 on Mystery Matters. Every Friday morning she would interview a mystery writer. As an author herself, Fran has written many books. The first line of Chapter 1 in her first mystery book “Orange as Marmalade” is one of my favorites: “There had definitely  not been a body on the second floor landing when I had run upstairs to the attic  earlier in the evening.”       -- Mary Gilmartin
Thanks for the plug, Mary!

It was a fun, exhausting event. The fact that the temp hovered around 90 degrees the whole time contributed to the exhausting part. Thank goodness for the tent.


BEEattitude for Day #592:
       Blessed are those who share their knowledge with others, for they shall keep the hive functioning smoothly.

_______________________________ 
The teeny details:
my books:  http://www.franstewart.com Please buy them from an independent bookstore or directly from my website.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Day #591 Cats Are Easier


I’ve been dog-sitting my granddogs for the past few days.

Whenever my daughter & Edwin have to be out of town, I go over there around 7 in the morning and again around 7 in the evening to let the dogs out, feed them, play with them a bit. I enjoy doing it.

I’ve found something interesting. My granddogs seem to be regular muses for me. Whenever I go there, I always stay for an hour or two, and I generally taking along some writing or reading to do between playtimes.

Saturday morning, I took my computer, because I’d made a lot of corrections/changes to my printed copy of my most recent book endeavor, and I had to get those transferred into cyberese.

I wrote and wrote and wrote.

Ditto Saturday evening and Sunday morning.

When I went back Sunday evening, I wrote and wrote and wrote. It occurred to me to Google a couple of what I thought were facts, but wasn’t 100% sure. Sure enough, I’d made a mistake (several of them), which meant I had to go back through the whole manuscript and correct numerous scenes. I'd had my fourteenth century ghost wearing a kilt, for instance, but I found out kilts weren't used until the 1500s. So I put him in a belted plaid, which is much more fun to describe anyway. I had to change his name for his knife from "dirk" to "dagger." Things like that.

I had great fun. The rain was pouring outside, I’d already taken the dogs out to pee, and all was well.

At midnight-thirty I looked at the clock. Ohmigosh. So rather than drive the three and half miles home, only to have to turn around in a few hours and come right back, I curled up on their couch and slept all night, surrounded by Max lying on the floor beside me and Belle lying on her soft cushion at the end of the couch. I didn't worry about my cats. They had plenty of food and water, and the litter boxes had been scooped.

Max licked me awake at 8:29 - I NEVER sleep that late when I’m at home ! ! !

So we went through the feeding, peeing, playing routine, and then I wrote until about 2:00, when we all went outside again. 

Then I drove home, to find Miss Polly and Daisy perfectly content. They did wonder where I’d been overnight, but they each took a sniff at my pant legs and decided that all was okay. They’ve met Belle, after all, when she used to come for visits, before big ole Max came along. 

My daughter and Edwin are home now, safe and sound. And their dogs are, I'm sure, delighted.

As my title for this blogpost says, though, Cats Are Easier.


BEEattitude for Day #591:
       Blessed are those who cover their windows so birds and bees won’t try to fly through them, for those people will have happy birds. And happy bees, too!

_______________________________ 
The teeny details:
my books:  http://www.franstewart.com Please buy them from an independent bookstore or directly from my website.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Day #590 Rain, Rain, Rain


The ground around here has been gasping for such a long time, but today, there’s rain. Not just a little bit. A lot. And it reminds me of something.

I went without a piano for a number of years, from the time I left home to go to college until well into my married life. Finally, though, I got tired of feeling like parched earth. I wanted the rain of music back in my life.

So I bought a piano. The music started falling, just like tentative raindrops. I hadn’t touched a piano in so many years, it was almost like starting over again. Scales. Finger-limbering exercises.

But then the floodgates opened, and music filled my life once more.

Nowadays I don’t play the piano often. But I sing with the Gwinnett Choral Guild. I play my mini bongo drums just for the fun of it when I walk past the kitchen counter. I hum along as I drive.

It’s just like the rain. A little here, a lot there. A little here. Some more there. And my world is satisfied.


BEEattitude for Day #590:
       Blessed are those who fill their combs with pollen and honey, for they shall be well-nourished all their life long.

_______________________________ 
The teeny details:
my books:  http://www.franstewart.com Please buy them from an independent bookstore or directly from my website.