September 16th, 2011

From the turret at Castle Gaiman

I'm in Minneapolis for the next few days visiting with Neil & Maddy Gaiman and the Fabulous Lorraine. Maddy G & I are working on a Top Sekret Projekt which you may see something from or you may not. Fablor & I are working on some Not Top Sekret Roller Derby Photos because, it's ROLLER DERBY and therefore awesome.

Neil is mostly away in the gazebo scribbling things that we will later read. Occasionally he ventures out and looks like this -- which is something like a cat burglar, because it's cold in the Gazebo. The dogs, I've discovered, and suddenly dogs make sense to me, the dogs, they like other people, (Lola is at this very minute licking my knee), but they are devoted to Neil. They hang on the other side of doors waiting for him to come through, they frolic when he arrives. I know that when I get home after being away two weeks my cats will wander into the living room, voice their displeasure about something, and then they'll wander off and go to sleep somewhere.

Clickenzee to Embiggen, wallpaper sized for your desktop joy

The Cats of Castle Gaiman are off in the cat-safe wing of the house, where the dogs are not, and they're very happy to have a person to sleep on, the dynamics I've been live tweeting (I kid you not, though I figure it's the sort of foolish thing Twitter was made for).

Last night Neil & I took the dogs for a long walk along a corn field beneath a nearly full moon, it was bright and we had flashlights, and I wondered how easily it would be to get lost in a cornfield. At which point Neil vanished into it and I followed and for some time all I could see where the tops of corn stalks wavering in the moonlight, the occasional flash of something big and white running past me, and nearby cornstalks lit up by my flashlight if I turned it on. I could hear the footsteps and the rustling shiver of the leaves, I followed the noise, after a few minutes I saw a flashlight ahead of me and came from the rows into a stand of trees.

"The rows sort of make sure that you go in a straight line," Neil said.

I'm still not sure how easy it is to get lost in a cornfield on a moonlit night, but I know how marvelous it is to try.

Clickenzee to Embiggen, wallpaper sized for your desktop joy

I'm sitting out in the back yard right now with Lola and Cabal and Woodsman Hans, it's chilly, it's wonderful. I got to see the opening of trillian_stars' new play before I left, it's marvelously funny and you should go if you have the chance.

Now there are derby photos to come and cat battles to document.

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Mosied out the door today with a camera about my neck, announcing that I was walking down to the bee hives.

"Do you want a bee suit?" asked Lorraine.

"Will I need one?" I asked.

"If you're going to open a hive and have a look around inside," said Neil and my stroll through the woods got that much more interesting and complicated. I donned a bee suit and was given a "hive tool" which is basically a crowbar for undoing hard work done by bees to get at the frames.

"Make sure you have it velcroed under the chin," said Lorraine after she'd helped me into it, "the scariest thing is when the bees decide that it's time for you to go and you realize your hood is open at the bottom."

I packed a flash though I hadn't brought a macro with me, and walked slowly down to the hives like a space man. I watched the hives from the outside first, seeing the bees come and go, and then finding a likely hive I took the top off and after the bees didn't seem to mind much, I took out one of the frames and had a look. The bees didn't seem bothered by the intrusion and, indeed, occasional vigorous attempts at brushing one away from a place where she might get crushed if she stayed didn't incur their wrath. They stuck to their work and didn't seem to consider me a threat.

I photographed the frame and put it very carefully back, scooping up globs of bees to get them out of the way.

"Sometimes I like to let them eat honey off my fingers," Lorraine told me when I got back. I didn't feel I was that far along yet but who knows, in a couple weeks I could be wearing a bee beard.

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