THE SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE HAS BEEN BUZZING WITH HONEYBEE ARTICLES!
A teenage girl found her father dead inside his home that was infested with thousands of bees living inside the walls, report the Miami Herald.
Donald Mason, 49, was found in the upstairs bedroom of a Miami home that he was renovating. Investigators have not determined the cause of death, but his brother told the paper, Mason hit fell from a chair while swatting at a swarm of bees and hit his head.
Mason was trying to renovate the home on a limited budget and had tried to fog spray the hive in the wall, and then tried to patch up the hole in the wall with tape.
Police told the Herald that Mason's death is considered unclassified, but it's more likely his death was due to the fall, rather than anything to do with the bees.
Willie Sklaroff, also known as 'the bee man,' who runs a bee extermination company was called into help and said there were at leas 60,000 bees living inside the walls of the house, reports Local10.com.
*My notes: I agree his death was more than likely from the fall, but the investigative reporter in me asks the following questions: any dead bees found around him? any stingers found in his body? was he allergic to bee stings? Any evidence of anaphlyaxic shock?
Word to the wise: let the experts remove the bees. Not worth it to go on the cheap. Trying to kill them with bug spray just leaves a sticky mess when the hive is unattended, wax moths take over and chew the wax that seals the honeycombs, which then start to drip and make an even bigger and more expensive mess to clean up.
What a story for Itty Bitty Betty to tell. She'd come to the defense of the bees.
Southern Breeze/SCBWI Conference 2011
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Attended a fascinating regional children's book conference in Birmingham over the weekend and had a critique on a manuscript I'm hoping to sell. There are some wonderful, knowledgeable, and giving people in this industry. Was thrilled to hear Young Adult author Lisa Yee in a keynote and the creator of SCBWI (The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators)and Lin Oliver deliver her 10 success stories keynote to end the daylong conference.
I attended Gail Karwoski's (of Watkinsville, GA) workshop called The Nonfiction Expedition. She was really my first introduction to non-fiction and to what is called narrative non-fiction (I learned this term today--used to call it creative non-fiction) through her book SEAMAN, Merriwether Lewis' dog from the expedition. I've always recommended this book when I perform SACAJAWEA SPEAKS for fourth grade audiences. She is energetic, a very thorough researcher, full of curiosity, skill, prolific, and truly genuine. She writes with a passion for her subjects. I could very much follow her research paths that lead to so many tangential material, material you hate to not include as sidebars, etc. I think in going this route, we're encouraging our readers or listening audiences to use our material as a starting point (first off) and then to show them that we too find connections and side stories that take us to more interesting facts and stories. Learning is a never ending process.
Secondly I attended Linda Pratt's session on achieving tension in your work and by accepting diagnostic evaluations by editors, agents, critics. I had a private critique session with her and found her very insightful. I trusted her "diagnosis" and plan to utilize her suggestions. Unfortunately she feared my book garners regional interest, not national. I hope to prove her wrong as I love this story. Don't all authors fall in love with their story? This one will be a hard one to put down or file away. She's an agent who formed her own agency with another woman. They deal specifically with children's and young adult authors, but not really with non-fiction writers. She told me adapted folktales books were popular 10 years ago. Sigh.
From Alexandra Cooper, an editor with Simon Schuster Readers (ages 1-4) I learned that the children's book market is very narrow these days, with Borders closing and Barnes and Noble doing away with their children's book wall and leaning more towards educational material. Isn't that the purpose of chains like THE SCHOOL BOX, etc? She said she's looking for books with 500 or less words! And here I'm thinking 1200 words is slim for a children's book. Apparently you're allowed more words if you're in the non-fiction genre. Talking about making every word matter. It is a special gift and skill to economize your writing. At first I thought how can you have any substance in a 500 word book? But I saw some truly beautiful and artistic ones, such as Jane Yolen's SCARECROW DANCE, written in rhymes (something a lot of editors, etc. DO NOT LIKE!) I can see how this is a challenge--just having completed narrowing my 7,000 word manuscript to a 1200 one. This is where the rewriting and thinking about the value of every word makes writing children's books so difficult.
From Lola Schaefer (also from Georgia), I saw beautiful narrative non-fiction books, some are her own. I purchased her book JUST ONE BITE and heard her "tell it." She serves a a consultant in schools, as well as an author in the schools. Her passion, skill, knowledge is infectious. I wanted to see her more in action, with children. She is a force, very animated and skilled. Her subjects deal more with science and nature. I'm thinking this way I guess, obviously, since my book coming out is on honeybees. But obviously my own work as a performer and playwright, for the most part, deals with historical subjects. She got me thinking about symbiotic relationships...and I think I'm beginning to find the answer to a book/subject I'd like to tackle.
Lots of things to follow up on from this one day. Was grateful to have a 3 1/2 hour drive home, to mull over some things. To be around people who's full time focus is on writing was wonderful...getting published, of course, is the hard part. Great to hear and see so many success stories and witness would-be writers as well as on-the-way writers to very successful ones.
I'll conclude with one of Lin Oliver's morals of the story...DO THE WORK. Perseverance and hard work are certainly the first prerequisites. And now that my first children's book has gone to press, it's a different kind of work for me--GETTING OUT THE BUZZ. More to come.
I found some google links to the debate over what's narrative non-fiction; what's memoir; what's historical fiction. Google away or check out bookendslitagency.blogspot or laureltarulli.wordpress.com.
In the meantime I've got to go back to working as a storyteller. Performances tomorrow at the Atlanta History Center--Halloween tales.
Today's the day that THE BUZZ ON HONEYBEES goes to press! I made the final edits yesterday and it looks beautiful with the soft, whimiscal watercolor illustrations by Kathy Coates of Charlotte, NC. Itty Bitty Betty, she's a honey of a bee, is the star of the book, sharing the news she's collected. She's a bit of a gossip, but an interesting one, full of facts and information told in a fun way about Georgia's state insect and the state insect for 17 other states.
Bee facts are called BEEZNESS in the book. BEEZNESS number one (not in the book, by the way): did you know that bees were brought into this country by some of the first settlers from Europe? Imagine bringing honeybees in hives on a several month voyage on a sailing ship. Bees are not native to the Americas. The native Americans called them white man's flies. The settlers knew the importance of honeybees pollinating their crops.
More beezness to follow in other blogs. Am off tomorrow to Birmingham, AL for the Southern Breeze fall conference. They're my region's branch of the SCBWI (Society of Children's Books Writers and illustrators.) Am hoping to come back with lots of marketing and social networking ideas for promoting a book once it's out. Am also having a manuscript critiqued about Sowbelly, the largest wide mouthed bass on record, caught in Georgia during the Depression. So far no luck on finding a publisher. Maybe the manuscript is to blame? It's difficult to hear anyone criticize your work. Perhaps it's easier coming from a stranger. So I'm hoping to come back with some good ideas to make this story come across more effectively. It's a fish tale that needs to be told once again and treasured.
Other beeziness happening now as I get ready to leave tomorrow for two days of performances at the Thomasville, GA Ars Center, some four hours away from Atlanta. Looking forward to revisiting this beautiful, historic city that was once a get away resort town for the wealthy, and hosts the Big Oak--one of the largest, widest oak trees in the south. Performing TURN HOMEWARD, HANALEE, a Civil War tale for fourth and fifth graders who'll come in bunches of 400 plus. Don't often get to do this show or any other on a real stage with lighting and sound. Really looking forward to it. Now to load up with a wonderful book on tape for listening pleasure. Back to the bees when I come back in town!
So excited to create a blog diary with news and updates. And so excited to start the buzz about my first children's book THE BUZZ ON HONEYBEES due out in early spring through Pelican Press, starring Itty Bitty Betty, she's a honey of a bee (pun courtesy of good friend David Fore of Tiger, GA.) Itty Bitty Betty collects gossip instead of nectar and she's all a buzz with swarming stories, all true! More to come.
Have a day off from shcool performances to work on the frustrating stuff-how to link blogs, how to twitter, how to start new self promotion as a children's author--stuff I'm all thumbs with and witless to boot. Ah to become mofre savvy???? How??? Slow learning curve. Mostly have to undo the mistakes I make messing up my systems that are already in place.
Am frustrated enough to take a break and go on to a new project--rewriting my script as Rhoda Kaufman for the Oakland Cemetary Halloween Haunts coming up this month. This I can do! And enjoy doing!
March 12, 2011 Obama as a ray of hope?
I am at heart a non-blogger. I blog in my head all the time, to myself. But babbling on paper for all to read...that seems to go against the grain. Are my comments worthy? Are they well thought out? Do they add anything of substance to the barrage of "stuff" already out there? But after months of self doubt as a blogger, I've decided I must say this. I'll throw it out there.
Yes, I voted for Barack Obama and yes I still believe in him and perhaps I've bought into a piece of him being saintly. However, I do know the power of one voice making a difference. There are examples from history of this being true, over and over again. So here it comes.
It strikes me that after Obama was elected, his victory being cheered INTERNATIONALLY, and after he won the Nobel Prize and then settled into the horribly deflating business of being an American president....trickle down effect. Symbol of hope...A black man being elected an American president. The United States, a country that stands as a country of hope for the rise of the common man and all...What I'm getting to is this (and I've heard it from no one else, not a pundit, not an historical observer, friend or foe) is that this domino effect--toppling of regimes in Egypt (fairly easy) to the more difficult ones in Libya, countries ruled for decades by despots and tyrants...something is out there, that spirit of hope, that a voice can be heard and ought to be taken into account. And it is spreading. The possibility of...dare we think it, change for the good Think back to the magical mystery of the fall of the Berlin Wall. To our far away ears it appeared miraculously--one day here and the next gone. No doubt to those suffering behind the wall, it was a lifetime. But there was something out there that said it's time, it will fall, voices can be heard now.
What is happening in the mid-east and in Africa has that same sort of magical feeling. Something is out there in the wind. Something positive. Something hopeful. Dare I think that Obama being elected president and his campaign of hope and inclusiveness sparked a universal light? That magical feeling on his inaugural day--it's still out there. If this is true, then he indeed deserved the Nobel Prize for Peace.
Let me know what you think.
September 10, 2008: can't keep silent any longer
I have been told my writer's blog is not the place to talk politics, but I can hold my tongue or pen no longer.
Last March I had the wonderful opportunity to appear as Abigail Adams at a community college in Silver Springs, MD. I performed my one-woman show in its entirety or in abbreviated fashion several times, stayed in costume as I lunched and walked through the school cafeteria, and then spent the afternoon appearing in some classes. Of particular interest was a women's studies class. I let Abigail change centuries, and after answering some questions by the young women, Abigail turned around and asked them: what do you think of a woman for president? At the time, Hilary Clinton's campaign was in full swing and it looked as if she would be the Democratic Party's choice. These thoughtful, bright young women had no qualms about expressing their thoughts and opinions. They were definitely for a woman as president, just not Hilary Clinton. They thought she was too divisive in a campaign year that needed to represent hope for the future and getting America back on track. EIght years of a presidency they had no faith or respect for was enough. They were all strong Obama supporters. He to them was what Eugene McCarthy was to me back in the late 60's. It took me back to my first years and slightly before as a voter--to the McCarthy (Eugene--peace candidate, not the Senator from Wisconsin) and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Days, of hope, youthful exuberance, faith that we'd emerge from VietNam as a nation back on track. The similarities between my 18-21 years and theirs struck me and struck me fast.
I came home so excited by the prospect that young people were again ready to believe in our government, in our choices, in what we represent, and in a future for them. It made me look at Obama in a totally different way (being in the Hilary demographics prior to that.)
And so we had the Democratic Convention and Obama was proclaimed the candidate and he gave a calm, thoughtful, reflective, hopeful, let's pull together kind of speech. And I was convinced.
And then came the Republican Convention--or should I say circus. The choice of Sarah Palin as McCain's VP, the pit bull attacks, the claims of COUNTRY FIRST and back to the ugly, divisive way of politics with convenient truths, lies, partial stories, emotional rhetoric without substance and ATTACK ATTACK ATTACK. I feel crushed. And if I feel crushed, I'm thinking what about those young college students, who were so full of hope and belief?
I am hoping, I hope not against hope, that our country will get out of attack mode and back to reflective thinking mode and not be stirred by emotionalism and abusive untruthful politics. John McCain and gang should be ashamed.
School has been open for a week here, but August is my slow
month, really my vacation month. Or so I like to think of it that
way. After a busy summer with too many projects and work commitments
and personal obligations/ complications, I like to think of August as
my personal time to crash and recoup. After all I have a year of
school performances facing me starting after Labor Day. But then I
forget--what about all those projects I've not completed, including the
new school shows planned and new study guides, not to mention all the
cleaning and reorganizing I need to do to prepare. And then there are
the phone calls and emails of people wanting to schedule and the
contracts/invoices to do. And there are the Olympics to watch. And
all the books I meant to read. And the tan I never got. And the great
shape I was going to get in. And before you know it the month is
slipping away and all I want to do is vegetate and take note of all the
things I need to do.
Panic is about to set in. But not just yet. I'm
at the point in my August hiatus (which is not really one) that I can't
get to sleep at night. And I stay up late. The wee, quiet hours,
would be a perfect time for a burst of energy. But I don't really
accomplish much. Do you know you can do do overs in spider solitaire
until you figure out how to win the game or realize it's futlie, but in
the meantime two hours have passed. I'm waiting for my energy and drive
to kick back in. Just one more game. I look around and see all the
incomplete projects--now messes throughout the house and I wait for the
urge to go around like a madwoman and accomplish nine tasks at once.
But that's what I do all school year. And after all, this is my summer
hiatus and I'm allowed to procrastinate. So I indulge. But this week,
I really mean to turn things around. Or do I?
What a summer! I've been thinking that I should be blogging instead of
playing spider solitaire these anxiety ridden late nights when my brain
won't shut down and my body is wishing it would. My now 91 year old
mother has been living with us and I'd love to blog about that
experience, which has turned out to be wonderful when I thought it
would be stressful. She is sweet, thoughtful, wanting to be helpful,
with a very dimiinshed short term memory, which she allows us to kid
her about and she laughs it off. She sleeps a lot... I had hoped we'd
have a summer of reading together her love letters and my father's
during their World War II courtship.
However, this is the summer of drought in Georgia but
when-it-rains-it-pours in the Kaemmerlen/Gaare household. We have been
dealing with a terminally ill sister-in-law for me, sister to my
husband. And a series of medical disasters since March with only a
week or two that hasn't been crisis ridden. I have been
working/reworking my one-woman Rachel Carson show--during the
research/writing of her famous book SILENT SPRING, she suffered one
medical problem after another, breast cancer, radiation treatments and
chemo, with so many complications keeping her from finishing the book,
so carefully documenting what DDT rampant sprayings were doing short
term and long term to the balance of nature and ultilmately to the
health of all living things. And at the same time, her body was
manifesting itself with the problems she was predicting would affect us
all if we continued to use these chemical pesticides/weapons.
My sister-in-law's health is... what we hate to admit... in a steady
decline. She is an end stage renal patient, undergoing hemodialysis 3
times a week. Getting to that place was a process too--kidneys
shutting down, peritoneal dialysis, peritoneal infections,
hospitalizations, overcoming one crisis before the next one ultimately
set in. Her 7 week hospital stay this spring was the result of home
dialysis, hemo needles that missed the mark, causing a giant hemotoma
over her entire upper left side, leading to a staph infection that
settled in her heart valves, and at first unbeknownst to us, hiding in
her spine. The vertebral decline led to the second spring
hospitilization and spinal surgery and fusion. Inability to walk.
Hospital rehab, then off to a rehab center (formerly called nursing
home) for a lengthy visit. Then seemingly over the hump, positive
about her progress, walking some in therapy, the left knee buckled and
she broke her tibia and fibula.
The renal disease causes soft
bones--falling in her case means something gets broken. Back in the
hospital. One step forward, two steps backwards. We start all over,
dealing with many doctors, waiting for each and every one of them,
trying to coordinate a diagnosis or two or three. Ordering tests,
which means days before the results, waiting for doctors, trying to
find out the plan--so much waiting... and in the meantime, the patient
lies in bed and gets weaker... Hospitals unfortunately make people
sicker. One thing I have learned is when you have to be hospitalized,
get your family to advocate to get you out of there as soon as
possible. Is that the point of all this rambling? I am supposed to
have a point in here somewhere. It's hard to find the point when
you're dealing with the next crisis- in the fix this thing mode and then
all will be okay. But it's never okay. So when do you get to the
point? When is everything fixed? How long does the light at the end
of the tunnel last? When does reality set in? No, I think you never
give up. There's always hope. You give up when there's no longer