February 3, 2015

Shadows is here!

Nice Things*

HERO won the Newbery thirty years ago.  Thirty.  How scary is that.

Anyway some silly person thought it might be amusing to interview me on the subject.  Fortunately they sent me a list of questions which enabled me to choose questions I could, you know, answer.  The Tor list a few weeks ago was way too full of pop-culture questions I couldn’t answer;  this one was full of state-of-the-YA-book-world questions and I HAVE NO CLUE.  I read what I read when I read it, because I saw it on the library shelf, because another unsteady crag of books at the cottage overbalanced and cannoned across the room and I had an ‘oooh, shiny’ reaction, because someone recommended it/sent me a copy, because the Kindle ebook was too cheap to ignore.  At the moment I’m reading a Barbara Hambly I seem to have missed (cannoning crag), catching up on the Dana Stabenows that have come out since I wandered away from murder mysteries about a decade ago (you have to pass through the mystery section at the library to get to the F&SF section), OUTPOST which is a post-apocalyptic thriller by new writer Adam Baker (I DON’T READ POST-APOCALYPTIC THRILLERS but I picked it up off the library shelf and liked the first few pages—especially that a male thriller writer should start his first novel writing sympathetically about a fat woman) and QUIET by Susan Cain, The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking** (cheap Kindle, but I was going to read it anyway)***.  I’ve just finished SCULPTOR by Scott McCloud (amazing graphic novel, an early copy arrived unsolicited in the post, THANK YOU First Second Books) and have started THE HOMEOPATHIC TREATMENT OF DEPRESSION, ANXIETY, BIPOLAR DISORDER AND OTHER MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL PROBLEMS by two homeopaths I’ve been reading for years, and am about halfway through HOMEOPATHY FOR TODAY’S WORLD by another homeopath I’ve been reading for years.   Not a YA in sight.  Not this week.  Ask me next week.  I’m trying to remember the last YA I read—Jacqueline Wilson’s MY SISTER JODIE, possibly, but she’s not even YA:  she’s kids.  She’s real stuff, real life for kids, and I love her for it. †

Anyway.  Don’t ask me about any state of any book world, because I won’t know.  But here’s an interview with me on the subject of winning a Newbery and, you know, writing stories and stuff.

http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2015/01/guest-interview-open-road-media-chats-with-robin-mckinley-about-her-career-and-winning-the-newbery-award-for-the-hero-and-the-crown †††

 * * *

* Alcestis’ funeral went off very well, I think.  The speakers knew what they were doing, and Alcestis had an interesting life and so no struggling for material was necessary.  There were even some good laughs.  There were photos of her all over the walls which I couldn’t bear to look at—Admetus has promised me a private showing some time—and the day was clear and lovely and not too cold, and the track down to the tree she’d chosen to be buried under was not too muddy.  She’d said she’d chosen it for the view, and it has a good view:  but I couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that everything about the funeral was to her plans and instructions;  I could hear her saying that she’d chosen that tree and this view.

There was a Land Rover to take anyone who didn’t want to struggle with the footing—and the hill—and that included Peter.  The car followed us down to the gravesite, but preceded us going back up again, which meant I went frelling HARING up the blasted hill so Peter didn’t have to sit around in the empty café wondering if I’d fallen into a ravine or something.  I should have just gone in the car too.

** I ranked 18 out of 20 again on the standard introvert test:  the only questions I have to answer ‘no’ to are, do my friends find me self-effacing and laid back? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA and, would I rather die than do public speaking?  No.  It’s not that big a deal.  Which I’ve told you before always makes me feel like someone else is living in my body with me.  This personality should not be able to do public speaking but it/we can.

*** It’s even better than I’d hoped.  The problem with the current fashion in popular science is that certain of the tropes MAKE ME NUTS, like the way everyone the author interviews has to have their clothing and their twinkling eyes described.  Cut to the chase.  I usually object to the author writing him/herself into the story constantly too but in this case it works a treat because Cain is writing as an introvert in an extrovert-preferring world.  I was reading an article in TIME recently^ about the internet-fueled explosion of grass-roots sharing, bartering, selling.  One of the fastest growers in this market is car pooling and the author remarks blandly and cluelessly that of course commuting in company is preferable because driving by yourself is SO BORING.  There speaks the unthinking extrovert.  Driving is bad enough without having to make frelling conversation.

^ Mind you the magazine could be anything up to years old.  Speaking of unsteady crags of reading material.


†† And there’s also this, which several more people have sent me links to since Open Road first pointed it out:


And it’s lovely, and I know I’m being a black hole of negativity but . . . she read it when she was eight?  I know precocious preteens read it all over the map and that’s great, the sooner and oftener girls growing up get told that girls do things too^ the better, but EIGHT?  She was precocious even as precocious goes.  And this fills me with dread and trembling for a whole fresh onslaught of angry eight year olds and their teachers, parents and librarians telling me that HERO is too hard for children.  Well yes, it is.  It’s not for children.  I got entire classrooms of kids writing me letters of protest when HERO’s Newbery was new:  the Newbery does say children’s literature.  I hope maybe that people reading the TIME article will go, oh, wow, well, she grew up to be a writer, so she was probably a precocious reader, and the headline does say YA novels . . . Listen, everyone, it’s really depressing getting bashed for something you wrote for any reason^^, but it’s extra depressing when you think, guys, if you’d only waited a few years. . . .

^  I’ve said this a gazillion times on the blog, but when I was a Young Writer Starting Out I assumed my generation of writers would have totally solved the Active Protagonist Gender Bias.  This hasn’t happened.  There are still a lot of frelling wet girls out there, including in books written recently.  So we still need heroines that do their own dragon-whacking.  Aerin has plenty of company . . . but not enough company.  Okay, you following generations of writers.  Get with the programme.^

^ Although I’m preaching to the converted on this blog.  Fans of Elsie Dinsmore or Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa are not subscribers.

^^ Except sheer jerkitude.  ‘I didn’t finish your stupid book because I wanted to read endless mushy romance when they stand around staring into each other’s eyes for chapters and chapters and the dragon was REALLY BORING!’ +

+ You’d be surprised.  Except for the ‘mushy’ this is nearly word for word.

††† The bio is about forty years out of date.  I will ask them to let me bring it up to 2015.^  And I don’t put commas before ‘too’.  That’s a copyeditor following house style.

^ YAAAAY.  They did.  Thank you!





Have I really not done a KES-comment post in . . .



. . . forever?  Bad me.  House move, worrying about husband’s health and well-being, Samaritan training, hellhounds giving up eating etc . . . are NO EXCUSE.  And now it’s been so long I can’t find/remember where I left off.  ARRRGH.  Well, if I miss/repeat anything . . . I’LL BLAME YOU.*  YOU SHOULD HAVE SAID, HEY, YOU HAVEN’T DONE A KES COMMENT ROUND UP IN TOO LONG.


Random thoughts: I like Watermelon Shoulders much better than Torpedo Shoulders.

I would guess so do we all.  I do anyway.  I will say that Torpedo Shoulders will prove to be a little more okay than you think.  Like Murac, drat him.  I had no intention of Murac becoming anything like either an important character or almost a hero sort of person.  Or, you know, attractive, other than in a ramshackle sort of way that would appeal to deranged 11-to-15-year-olds.  Arrrrrrgh.  You see here an author hoist by her own petard.  This happens regularly—right, EMoon?—in my case pretty much every frelling story about something or someone**, but it doesn’t usually happen in public.  By the time the story hits print I’m kind of over my crisis about it/him/her/them and can pretend, or at least pretend to pretend or make a good story out of it, that this was the plan all along.***

I’m very glad we had so much time to get to know Kes in the ordinary, everyday world before she got tossed into the Defender role. It’s not that her personality doesn’t come through in the battle & just-before-or-after-battle sequences, but I like knowing that she likes muffins & is fairly good at making friends with good ordinary people. (I’m not sure I’m expressing myself well here.)

Well, you’re expressing well enough for me to agree with you and to say I’m glad that this is how you’re reading what I’m writing.  Yes.  It depends on the story, of course, but in this case Kes needed to be really clearly and emphatically a more or less normal modern woman—okay, a New Yorker and a fantasy writer, not absolutely normal†—for the high fantasy stuff to work the way I wanted it to work.  It’s not like what I’m doing is original—LEST DARKNESS FALL is the book that pops first into my head, and probably a lot of other people’s heads for modern people dropped in ye olde time††, and you could go back another generation or two to THE TIME MACHINE if you wanted to, and there have been gazillions since—and Kes isn’t trying to invent a printing press or alter any courses of history††† or make sweeping political statements in allegorical form‡ she’s just having an adventure.  But for the adventure to go ping whap YIPE in the way I hoped the two worlds have to be vividly incompatible.

At least Flowerhair was still alive. Yes. I was keeping her alive. What—or who—was keeping me alive? Hello?

::giggle:: And suddenly the story gets a bit meta.

This is me having some fun.  There’s a lot in KES, starting with Kes herself as a fantasy writer, that I would NEVER EVER have put in a book that started life as something I was expecting a publisher to pay me for.

. . . SOMEWHERE someone asked me if the colonel of the Falcons might by any chance be Flowerhair.  Have I answered this?  I can’t remember/find answering this.  If I did, this is what I would already have said:  What a great idea.  No.  Rats.  The thing is, Flowerhair has stayed alive partly by keeping a low profile.  I’ve told you, haven’t I, that I’m going to give you the first chapter of the first FLOWERHAIR book, one of these days?  I know what happens‡‡ and I know how she got started on this mercenary thing, and why, and also why she distrusts the formal military.  She’d also hate being in command although privately, as her author’s author, I think she’d be good at it.  She’s put temporary gangs together occasionally to bring off some feat she couldn’t pull alone.  Eh.  Maybe while Kes is resting up after Part One finally comes to an end I’ll mess with Flowerhair a little more.‡‡‡

I’m glad Silverheart seems to be determined to help Kes out both with being Defender & convincing other people that Kes has some small right to inhabit her heroic role.

Well . . . this is also just McKinley’s preoccupation with ordinary people rising to extraordinary occasions.  Kes is a bit more tongue in cheek than, say, Harry, but it’s the same story arc, from  MEEEEEEEP, to . . . Oh, well, if I have to. . . .


Eowyn had never been a satisfactory heroine because of that whole seeking-death-because-of-unrequited-love thing to which I had had a strong ‘spare me’ reaction

But Eowyn faced the ring wraith lord when all around her had fallen and for that I loved her. Besides, there was really only her and Galadriel who could possibly be role models for a 10 year old girl reading LOTR, and Galadriel did a lot of standing around looking stately while doing not a lot, which had no appeal at all. Get out there and DO something woman!  

I agree, except for the fact that it’s not enough.  I went through the tortures of the damned as only an introverted book-mad ten, or, in my case, eleven-year-old girl who WANTS HER OWN ADVENTURES can go through if she’s of a Previous Generation and when she was eleven years old LOTR was what there was, full stop.  Robin McKinley, Elizabeth Moon, Patricia McKillip, Tamora Pierce, Diane Duane, Patricia Wrede etc hadn’t been invented yet.  Eowyn does beg to accompany Aragorn into battle because she’s a shield maiden not a wet nurse, and in fact that scene rings very true to me and it interests me that Tolkien—manifestly not a bloke who gets it about women—could write it.  But he then, as if horrified at his own ability to understand a woman’s desire for action, undermines the flapdoodle out of her for that famous scene with the Nazgul captain:  she doesn’t kill him.  Merry does.  Which is probably why, when my eleven-year-old mind had to have a GIRL in there somewhere, decided that Merry was a girl really.

And Galadriel is a wet.  Just by the way.  The most interesting thing about her is that she’s a bigger deal than her husband, which is another of those oopsies from Tolkien the Bloke.  Hey, pack her off to the Grey Havens before she spreads.  And for utter iconic girlie uselessness I give you Galadriel’s granddaughter . . . Arwen.§



* * *


* Readers are great.  I love my readers.^

^ Mostly.  Except the ones who think they and I are twin souls and/or want me to collaborate with them on their great novel.


Oh, do shut up and write.  —Story.

*** ::muffled gurgling noises::

† All my New York friends are going HEY!

†† Anyone wants to suggest there’s no magic in LEST DARKNESS FALL . . . um.  No overt magic.  But one dorky little guy TOTALLY TOTALLY TOTALLY CHANGES HISTORY I MEAN TOTALLY?  Uh huh.  De Camp just decided not to mention the magic wand.

††† And since 1939 when LEST came out they’ve kind of decided the Dark Ages weren’t all that dark after all.

Uggh.  The Story Council sends me one of those and after I set fire to it I’ll start lobbing plastic bags of dog crap through their windows.

‡‡ I think I know what happens.^

^ Murac.  Grrrrrrrrrrr.

‡‡‡ Mainly I have to get on with PEG II a little more briskly.^

^ Although, speaking of messing around, I’d like to know a little more about Aldetruda.  And Kes, in a bit of wish fulfilment, writes a lot faster than I do and has at least one other serial heroine and some one offs lurking, any of which might make an interesting digression or digressions.

§ And no, I cut Peter Jackson no slack for trying to jazz her up a little.

Intellectual Rigour. But I never claimed to have it.


Okay, enough with the happy Peter Dickinson book news and the adorable puppy photos and all that chirpy stuff.   I am still kind of reeling from a couple of days ago* which may help explain why this evening . . . I am having a CRANKY ATTACK.**

            I’ve been reading a very interesting book, THINKING, FAST AND SLOW by Daniel Kahneman.   It’s had a huge amount of positive press (as in this link:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/dec/13/thinking-fast-slow-daniel-kahneman ) and is a mega best seller and as someone who is even more depressed by the FIFTY SHADES OF GREY phenomenon than she was at the TWILIGHT phenomenon, which was as low as I was expecting the common denominator to get***, I say splendid, and may it sell trillions.  But . . .

            I found the first half a lot more compelling than the second, although I’d been making occasional spluttering noises of disbelief or disagreement from the beginning†.  But he lost me completely near the end.††  He decides to use LA TRAVIATA as a coat hanger to drape some stuff about the irrationality of human emotions over.  And he gets details of the plot wrong.  He says that Violetta’s lover, Alfredo, is an aristocrat.  He is not.  He is bourgeois.  When Papa Germont comes to do the heavy-dad thing at Violetta and convince her to give Alfredo up for the sake of Alfredo’s family and especially his sister, innocent flower that she is, and about to be sold, I mean married, to a man who won’t have her if her brother is shacked up with a whore.  There is no way this scene would work the way it works if Germont were an aristocrat.  It might work some other way, but that’s not the opera Verdi wrote.    

             Kahneman goes on to describe the end:  Violetta is dying surrounded by a few friends.  She is NOT.  She is ALONE, except for her maid, and occasional visits from her doctor, and the fact that the doctor who professionally declares the death sentence††† is treated like a friendly visitor underscores just how terribly alone she is.‡ This makes her last-minute reunion with her bourgeois lover and his thug of a father—who can afford to be generous because she’s going to be dead in a minute—infinitely more poignant.  Someone might have written what Kahneman says Verdi wrote.  But that’s not what Verdi wrote, and what Verdi wrote breaks your heart.  Stuff irrationality. 

            But if Kahneman is this careless over such easily checked details, what else has he been careless about?  

* * *

* The state of this society, in which I was born, grew up and am now growing old in, on the subject of sex, power and women’s rights, APPALS me.  You all know about Todd Akin’s recent, fabulously grotesque remark that a woman’s body will reject rapist sperm so she won’t get pregnant?  Uh-huh.  That alone does my head in, but now read this, any of you who haven’t already, it was a popular retweet on Twitter a couple of days ago:  http://www.xojane.com/it-happened-to-me/dear-representative-todd-akin-i-got-pregnant-from-rape  Here’s the paragraph I wish to draw your particular attention to, emphasis mine: 

Today, I am an attorney and the busy single mother of an amazing second grader. My rape is responsible for both of these roles. You see, I enrolled at GeorgetownLawSchoolafter learning, firsthand, that pregnancy from rape creates unimaginable obstacles for women who decide to raise the children they conceive through rape. In the vast majority of states, a rapist has the same custody and visitation rights to a child born through his crime as other fathers enjoy. In 2010, a paper I wrote on this topic was published by the Georgetown Law Journal, and I continue to travel throughout the country speaking on this issue. 

              I despair.  Sometimes . . . I despair.  

** If you want to put your iPad down and go hunt up your hellgoddess SPF 157 dark glasses at this point, that would be a good idea. 

*** I AM BORED TO DEATH BY PORN, BOTH SOFT AND HARD^.  And pretty much always have been.  I went through a phase of watching quite a lot of, ahem, hard commercial porn, because it was all about sexual liberation . . . and is some of where I woke up to the reality of the fact that it isn’t.  And the apparent fact that some form of tie-me-up-tie-me-down^^ is the fantasy du jour of gazillions of women today frelling desolates me.  It makes me wish I was born on the second planet of Tau Ceti, where it’s all about tentacles and there are thirteen genders which are reassigned by blind ballot every other year. 

^ I’m a Scorpio.  We like sex.  We think sex is great.  

^^ No, I haven’t seen the Almodovar film, and I won’t.  Sue me.  I haven’t read FIFTY SHADES either.  Yes, I read TWILIGHT.  Well, most of it.  I tried.  

† I’m willing to entertain the possibility that to run experiments at all the lab coats have to simplify.  But simplifying human beings’ reactions is risky.  I’ve loaned my hard copy of the book to Gemma and have been listening on Audible while hurtling, so I can’t look up chapter and verse.  But one example that sticks in my mind is about an experiment in—let’s call it compassion.  A group of strangers are in a series of little booths, and each in turn has a chance to speak.  A plant by the admin, when it’s his turn, says that he is inclined to fits when he gets stressed, this is stressing him . . . and then apparently goes off in a fit.  The point is that almost none of the genuine guinea pigs attempts to go to his rescue, and this is supposed to prove that we’re less nice than we think we are. 

            Wait a minute.  You mean nobody was screaming for the admin, phoning for an ambulance—okay, I don’t know if this was since mobile phones became ubiquitous—or demanding to know what the hell was the problem that whoever screened experimental candidates didn’t find out that one of their prospects might have a fatal fit from the stress of being in this study?  Nobody either objected to the set up or smelled a gigantic rotting rat here?   No, I don’t want to deal with a stranger having a fit, so, fine, I’m not a nice person.  But I haven’t got a clue about fits^, and there ought to be safety precautions in place.

            And something else I kept thinking over and over as yet another bunch of credulous humans fell in yet another trap laid for them by the devious lab coats, isn’t anyone ever suspicious when they’ve turned up for some kind of unspecified psychological testing and are shown into a booth or handed a page of curiously bland instructions?^^ 

^ Or perhaps I should say that on the blessedly few occasions that I’ve been the conscious human on the spot, the first thing I did was go for expert help.     

^^ One of my terrible secrets is that I do sometimes read amazon reviews for nonfiction.+  THINKING gets mostly good customer buzz too, but the few objectors are instructive.  This one pretty much reflects my feelings.  http://www.amazon.co.uk/product-reviews/1846140552/ref=cm_cr_pr_hist_3?ie=UTF8&filterBy=addThreeStar&showViewpoints=0  And since I’m not sure how amazon customer review links work, the one I mean is by M D Holley. 

+ If you’re looking for a basic Japanese grammar or a knitting reference book, your means of making even a semi-informed choice are limited.  

†† Which I just listened to this evening and had to explain to the hellhounds since there was no one else around.  Possibly because I was trying to explain it to the hellhounds. 

††† The ridiculousness of the doctor declaring ‘she has only a few hours to live’ almost wrecks it.  But not quite.  Especially if you don’t speak Italian.  

‡ Maybe Kahneman is confusing it with the end of La Boheme.  Another heroine dying of tuberculosis in Italian, la la la la, who cares?  I care.

Signing, illustrated.


I can do without days like this one.  What I know to try when a computer disputes me is pathetic, but it does take a little while to run through.  Rather like running through my pathetic repertoire of things to try to make hellhounds eat.  Also, there’s the adrenaline factor.  Crashing off the internet when you’re trying to organise and then post your nightly blog provokes a rather substantial fury spike, which is slow to drain away again.*

            Especially when hellhounds decide not to eat their supper.

            At least there weren’t any bats.

            I’m still very, very short of sleep and very, very, VERY grateful that I HAVE PHOTOS FOR TONIGHT.  These are Vikki’s;  I’ll put some of Cathy’s up tomorrow.


The Nice Man had asked me if I’d do a reading or a Q&A or a presentation of any kind and I said that I’d be happy to do a Q&A as a lead in to the getting out of the favourite fountain pen.  The very first question was whether I was going to write a sequel to SUNSHINE.  I’m out of practise.  I did not immediately laugh lightly and answer some other question, which is what, when I’m in practise, I do, when someone says something punishable by instant death.  I could hear the Blog Contingent going very still on the other side of the audience** and then Ajlr, BLESSHERATHOUSANDTIMES, not only asked a question, but asked an interesting question about what it’s like being a writer writing about a lot of different imaginary countries, and do they feel different–the answer to which is yes, they do.   I dream about them, and I always know which one I’m in before I see the pegasus or the sashed, bridleless riders or the guy with the long teeth.


I was sufficiently unnerved by Question One that I spent most of the rest of the evening talking to the floor.  This is something else I’m better at not doing when I’m in practise being an author in public.  Make eye contact!  I don’t want to make eye contact!

The relentless march of the grocer's apostrophe.

A very nice poster.  Although there may be something just a little bit WRONG with the top line. 

Yes! The famous dwarven whatsit!

Cathy got a more comprehensive shot of it which I’ll post tomorrow.  And I apologise for my look of total disbelief, but . . .  

Not so random members of the audience.

One intrepid photographer and one smiling bull terrier.  Oh . . . well, the last time I saw that pink feather boa a bull terrier was wearing it.***

Intrepid photographer and hellgoddess.

And book.  And chocolate.#  And a lovely pink knitted bag courtesy Mrs Redboots.   The cables are bits of (ringing methods) Kent and Cambridge.  Cathy and I were trying to figure out which was which.  This should be embarrassingly easy, but somehow it isn’t, when it’s pink knitting.

Asssembly line.

That’s asssssembly line.  At the end I signed all the stock that was left.##  The Nice Man pulled it off the table in stacks, opened each to the title page, I scrawled, and my official Penguin minder was waiting to slap on the ‘signed by the author’ sticker### and put the completed trophy in the book cart.

More photos tomorrow.  I’m going to bed.  But first let me just say THANK YOU VERY MUCH to everyone who came to Forbidden Planet last night and bought book(s), both blog readers and–er–non-blog-readers, and friends and readers known and unknown, and who generally made this not one of those occasions when I go home declaring I’m giving up this writing scam and getting a job stocking shelves at Sainsbury’s.   It was good energy last night, you guys.  Thanks. 

* * *

* It turns out to have been the exchange.  It was peculiar that both Peter and I were off the air—we’re at opposite ends of this tiny town but we’re also on different servers.  I did of course ring Computer Men today, who were booked solid, it being a Friday and all, but being angelic, one might almost say seraphic, as they are^, Raphael did his remote-meddling trick after I’d wasted forty-five minutes on the phone to my server who clearly had no more clue than I did.^^   Meanwhile I’d gone off for my Friday cup of t—I mean, my music lesson, with Oisin, and he was off the air too.  He was busy swearing at his server^^^ who did, however, have more of a clue than mine did, and then BT finally got its finger out, and Raphael twisted the pipe cleaners back together and . . . 

^ Hey.  I wonder if either of them sings? 

^^ When I rang Raphael back he was positively testy.  He rarely gets testy, except when other computer professionals are being morons. 

^^^ Relatively speaking.  Oisin does not swear the way I swear.  You can still hear what he’s not saying.

** As one of them commented drily later, Not a blog reader.

*** Anyone who came to my last London signing will remember this clearly.  PS:  Her t shirt says Doctor Pooh. 

# Several people gave me chocolate.  I have no idea why.

## One of the things Forbidden Planet gets enormous points from this author for is that they made a real effort to rake in a good selection of my backlist.  This is good anyway and enormously in their favour when I’m mostly as rare as hen’s teeth and reliably eating hellhounds over here.  And it’s a good thing, not a bad thing, that they had a lot of stock left over to sign.  It means they think they can sell it.^  I hope they’re right. 

^ They do have several stores to share the burden.

### Very carefully designed to have glue that peels OFF again.



On Tuesday, this arrived in my inbox from Ajlr: 

To share the excitement, message below just received from our bee tutor. We’ll have our own bees in 48 hours! :) :) :)

Think of us on Thursday evening, driving around with a box full of bees…


I understand all went well at the weekend and . . . I’ve just looked at the nucleus and the queen is laying to the point that the little box is brim full of bees.

 So if you would like to come and collect it, it’s yours.  You will need to come late evening when they have stopped flying and we can seal the entrance and strap it closed for travelling. . . .

I suggest you take it to the apiary and put it where you are going to have the hive and let the bees get orientated for a couple of days.  Then at the weekend or early next week you can move it to one side, put the hive in its place and transfer the occupied frames over. . . .

I replied in suitably modest, restrained hellgoddess manner:

YAAAAAY.  Okay, I’m stoked.  :):):)

Do I get to mention it on the blog?  That Ajlr is driving around the east of England with a box full of bees????  :)

And she generously replied:

Yes, mention it by all means – lots of positive thoughts would be very welcome. :)

I won’t be back until about 8 on Thursday evening, but we’re going to go over then and pick the bees up, to move them straight to the apiary area  that evening. I think I’ll have to be suited up when we unblock the entrance in their new home though…I’m not sure they’ll be that happy after 15 minutes in a car.

Oooh, my bees, my bees. ::goes into nurture mode:: :) **

If you think of it (and have time) send me an email.  I’ve written it in my diary . . . but that still means I have to remember to look in my diary.  And Thursday is handbells AND Muddlehamptons, so I will be distracted.

This then came in while I was Muddlehamptoning:

Off to pick up and move our box full of bees in about 15 minutes. Keep your fingers crossed that they don’t try and break out of it while we’re all in the car together! :)

And when I got back to the mews*** I wrote: 

YAAAAAAAY.  Well, you *must* be back by now . . . I hope ALL WENT WELL.  :):):)

This then arrived with the subject line ‘A car with 5864 passengers’:

So, we picked up the nucleus box full of bees from out tutor’s home just now. She let us borrow a hive strap, so the lid was securely fastened for transit, and stuffed a good lump of foam rubber into the entrance hole of the nuc so no one could come out and start insisting on different driving techniques during the journey. And off we went, with our young colony of bees carefully wedged in the back of the car. I can’t say that was the most relaxing four miles we’ve ever driven, not with our ears constantly assessing the level of grumbling coming from the box. R drove as carefully as possible but small country roads are not noted for their level surfaces. When we got to their new home, I suited-up and put the box on its stand, removed the strap and then, from the back, leaned over and pulled out the plug from the entrance hole. A small and agitated cluster of bees immediately poured out of the entrance and looked around with an air of bewildered belligerence. However, there was no-one there for them to pick a fight with and when I tiptoed back 30 seconds later there were only 30 or so crawling over the front of the box, near the entrance. It was 21.45 by then, dusk, and chilly, and as I watched they all went back inside. 

On Sunday we will move the colony into their full-sized brood box, on the same spot where they are now in their nuc box. It looks like being a fun morning!

I’m sure these are going to be the most wonderful bees in the history of beekeeping. I’m not sure how long it will take us to learn all their names though…

If any of this is useful for the blog, it’s all yours. :)


I’m glad to know you aren’t driving frantically for the Channel with 5864 angry bees in hot pursuit.  :)

I’m quite glad we aren’t heading for the Channel, too. :)

. . . But by that time last night I was already most of the way through a blog entry about handbells and singing.  Today I emailed: 

I think it is VERY NOBLE of you not to have mentioned your bees on the forum.  All this goes in TONIGHT.†† 

I haven’t mentioned it at all, thinking you might want to use it. And yes, I’m EXTREMELY noble, it’s almost unbearable. I’ll even add to it and offer to write ‘Steps to bee-keeping IV’ in about a month’s time, if you wish. Now, where’s my halo gone…:)

The rain is coming down stair rods here at the moment. My poor bees will be sitting in the entrance to their box, looking out gloomily at all the wet and probably squabbling with each other. And the queen will be humming ‘now children, children, settle down’. (Anthropomorphise? Moi?) †††


Yes, I’ve been thinking of your poor bees sitting in their new home and wondering drearily why they’ve been horribly magicked to this watery place.  Stair rods here too.  At least cranky hellhounds don’t sting.  :)

Must go to bell practice.  NIALL’S HOME!!!  I’M NOT IN CHARGE!!!!! YAAAAAAAAY!!!!! 

 * * *

* And yes, I did ask her first. 

** Aside: note that I am totally on board with the nurture thing.  Oisin keeps telling me that I must apply for the bat-exclusion license whether I use it or not—that it’s sensible to be prepared.  Noooooo, I keep saying, my bats, my bats!  He says, look, I know you’re a pathetic wet knee-jerk liberal.  Get the frelling exclusion anyway while you have a sympathetic Bat Lady.   She could move to Canada^ and her replacement could decide that you are superfluous to bat requirements. 

^ I’m sure there are lots of splendid bats in Canada

 *** And had fed the hellhounds.  And begun a blog post.  First things first. 

† Hmmmmmmm.  Maybe we should have a bee-naming contest???  Hmmmmmmmm.^ 

^ As a happy, well-named bee might say. 

†† I might even conceivably get another paragraph of PEG II written/bent/tied to the chair/negotiated for better terms with^ tonight.  Or maybe I’ll ring some Cambridge on Pooka.  I might even try to get the fragment of a song I wrote while I was waiting for Oisin to get back from looking at electric organs for other people onto Finale.  It looks more singable than my stuff usually is.  I wonder how that happened.

            Or I could knit. ^^

            The possibilities are dazzling.  

^ I keep telling you we can’t grow llyri grass in this world.

^^ We are not discussing Sewing Up Secret Project #1.

††† Some of you may remember it was Ajlr who helped name my bats.  Eadgyth is her fault.

 ‡ Okay, all you blog readers.   Sign on the forum and leave an EAGER COMMENT about more bee-keeping posts.

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