Let's say we're all bees. Each and every one of us is buzzing about-
buzz buzz buzz.
The honey that we make is our lives. Experience has taught me two things...


...and LIFE is only as yummy as you make it!

Are YOU a Killer Bee?

bee my guest?

bee my guest?
Howdy Beezers! I'm excited to share something new with you... Over the upcoming months, most of the content you'll be seeing here will be from special guest contibutors! This is sure to add a new texture to this thing we've been weaving over the years. I know that many of my readers (yes, you!) are writers, artists, musicians and filmmakers. PLEASE feel free to contact me if there's something you'd like to contribute! I'd be most honored to pollinate... send me a note: m.mckinley@rocketmail.com

please be seated

March 30, 2012

"Quote, Unquote" #7:

A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.

Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

-- Albert Einstein

The Jewell Box

The first time I walked through the threshold and into the foyer, I knew instantly I had to live here. It was visceral. It would have seemed that any number of barricades should have prevented me, so the sheer fact that my wish came true (and in such a timely fashion) is proof in the pudding that this was a  match meant to be. Built in 1927 with character to spare, this Spanish Storybook gem had been a builder's showcase on a block that was the 1928 Milwaukee Parade of Homes, and was now on the National Register of Historic Places. And I now have the privilege of living here. Yes, me!

Fast forward just over a year when my friend Marianne Kohlman recommended me for a weekly feature in The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel called "At Home With". I was hardly photography ready, but the idea of publicity for the shop was too hard to resist. So I kicked it into a high gear and with a little help from my friends, I completed a slew of projects in just 4 weeks- burning the midnight oil on several nights. Do you know what I learned? I'm not 30 anymore. I'm still recovering!

Special thanks to Nancy Herrick for writing such a nice piece, and to photographer Gary Porter for taking such awesome pictures. You can read the full article here, and there's a full gallery here.

Finally, I have a little story to share.
Shortly after moving in I decided the house needed a name. It's so that kind of house. Over the last 15 months I've tossed several monikers around, but nothing sounded right. Then just before the photo shoot, I learned that Paul Jewell had passed on. Paul lived here with his wife Sharon for 4 decades, and they raised their family here. I was thinking about how Paul and Sharon had so lovingly cared for this very special house, and suddenly her name became crystal clear; I would call her Jewell Box. And so it is.

Since the house was so clean and there were fresh flowers about, I took a bunch of pictures of my own and put this little video together...in Paul's memory.


The Decorator

My friend Richard recently shared this un-aired treasure from 1965 on Facebook. Who knew that Bette Davis had ever filmed a pilot for television...produced by Aaron Spelling?! Its rather delightful. What a shame it never saw the light of day...until now!

"Especially something British with allot of grey going for him in the temples."

Trust me, if you have a few minutes to be entertained, you'll want to watch part 2  and part 3  as well...enjoy.

March 24, 2012

My Media Maven

I remember the night Cassandra came next door for dinner and she told me her radio show was ending. She looked at me silently with a peaceful expression of "knowing" that it was time, even if it was tinged with "So now what?" I told her that this would simply be the catalyst to a new era for her. "Sweetheart, you belong on television anyway." Another silent, knowing stare..so now what?

Several weeks after that conversation we started filming This Is What I Know So Far and what I knew instinctively was confirmed for the world to see. Not only was she a natural for television, but that the camera would love her. A few months later (and with some crazy leap of faith) she asked me to manage her. I said yes knowing only that I couldn't say no. It had never occurred to me to "manage" someone before! I had been put in position. So now what?

It was August 2010 when the call came from FOX that they were developing a new morning talk show, and that they wanted to talk to Cassandra about being a part of it. We thought it had the potential to be a hit. What it became was a local phenomenon. At the desk, the chemistry between Katrina, Nicole, Rob, and Cassandra (and with Tony Clark on the road) was instant and infectious. The show is incredibly popular, and a consistent  ratings champ. In the last year and a half Cassandra has had a slew of lovely press, not to mention her Shepherd Express nominations last Fall for Female Vocalist of The Year and Jazz Artist of The Year.

Can you tell I'm just a little proud? (Insert smiley face here.)

On Friday afternoon Cassandra was honored by the USPS for "Putting Her Stamp on Metro Milwaukee" in recognition of her Outstanding Achievement in Media. In all there were 14 women honored for their achievements in various fields, and the lovely presentation was well attended. The chicken wasn't bad either.

Here's a short news clip from Friday night-

With Real Milwaukee Co-Hosts Katrina Cravy and Tony Clark, and Producer Sara Smith

They have allot of fun on REAL MILWAUKEE it's true, but the following clip from last week illustrates the kind of intelligent and thoughtful conversations that Cassandra and her equally articulate co-hosts are having on the show as well...and clearly shows why she's so deserving of her award. You GO baby!

Finally and last but not least, we relaunched Cassandra's website this week. With a sophisticated new look created by the multi-talented Cindy Malin-Peterson and au courant photography by the uber-gifted Douglas Krimmer (Who's the man behind The Bees original photo shoot), the new look rolled out on Thursday. Be sure to stop by and CHECK IT OUT!

Its more than amazing, what has manifested since that night she came across the hall for dinner. So now what?

March 20, 2012

Winter Light

Something starts to stir in my soul around the middle of October when the days grow noticeably dimmer. I always say that Fall is my favorite season, but honestly Winter runs a close second. In the 21 Midwestern Winters I've now seen through, this California boy has embraced what many choose to flee. Some people find the short days depressing and they feel anxious. Not me. I look forward to Daylight Savings Time, to the long dark nights of December and January that wrap me in the comfort of their cocoon. But it's the light, the Winter light, especially in its last hour- that is truly something to behold...

For the last couple of weeks I've been completely preoccupied with preparing my house for a photo shoot which will be featured in the newspaper. As I was upstairs in my bedroom painting radiators and ceilings, I noticed the delicious Winter light filtering through the window, casting long and gorgeous shadows. Realizing the Season for it would soon be coming to an end and wanting to savor the moment, I grabbed my camera and turned off the flash...

The luster of Winter light creates a sense of mystery that I love. Beware its piercing shimmer can blind you...

The crocus in my yard screamed hello as I sprinted past them on my way out the door this morning. It was good to see them. I didn't even need the denim jacket I wore, as it was warm and buttery for my 9 block walking-commute to the shop. I suppose in the same way that Winter inspires me to go inward, the advent of Spring reminds me that renewal is constant...and that's very much a comfort. It may come in as third choice on my menu, but I think that's only because in southeastern Wisconsin it's all too fleeting. That simply means I'll have to savor it too. So on that note and on this first day of Spring 2012, Jackson and I would like to wish you all a glorious start to a new season. Anew.

By the way, I'd like to thank the fabulous Teamgloria (and all that gorgeous, histophabulous photography) for inspiring this post, which is rather different fare 'round these parts. I just might do more like this...


"Quote, Unquote" #6: Science of Heart

If we listened to our intellect, we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go into business, because we’d be cynical. Well, that’s nonsense. You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.
— Ray Bradbury

March 9, 2012

Saturday Morning Chuckle

Guilty as charged....


[dee-vuh, -vah] 
noun, plural -vas, -ve [-ve] 
a distinguished female singer; prima donna.
1880–85;  < Italian  < Latin dīva,  feminine of dīvus  god; compare divine

I'm one of those gay men who does all that stuff that gay men do well, well. You see contrary to popular belief, we all don't. I'm not pulling the diva card here, its just the cold hard facts.

Do you know how many gay men I've met who can't match a pair of socks let alone a bedding ensemble, and still believe they're God's gift to interior decoration?  True story. You know the types. They bring 7 Layer Dip and Fritos Scoops to cocktail parties and call it haute cuisine.

Many years ago I used to pal around with a swell couple names Christopher and Ruby. They were a transgendered twosome who had actually met in a gender reassignment support group. You can't make this shit up. Anyway, they thought my propensity for making everything perfect was so precious that they bestowed the nickname "Martha" on me. At first I thought it was cute, but once it started catching on with other folks it quickly became an irritation. Don't get me wrong I loves me some Ms. Stewart, but she comes with a crystal clear connotation of controlling, privileged, and aloof. Like Diana, I'm a people's princess. I ain't got time for that.

As long as we're talking perfection. Divas also have a reputation for perfectionism. Isn't it ironic that the people who care the most always get persecuted for it? Believe-you-me I've suffered my share of badgering for wanting to "make everything nice". Well as the kids say nowadays, haters gon' hate. Actually one of the most beautiful things about arriving at this place in my life has been letting go of perfection. Of allowing things to be exactly what they are. Because creating the illusion of perfection is truly exhausting. It so much easier to be Michael these days.

I'm even claiming that with diva-like conviction.

An ex once told me that the only reason I liked to entertain was to show off my culinary prowess. He didn't mean it as a compliment, nor did he understand me very well. Sure my ego gets a gentle massage when the 7th person moans in literal ecstasy over my pumpkin cheesecake (with the gingersnap crust), but I also derive a tremendous amount of pleasure and satisfaction from feeding people I care about delicious food, because it makes them happy. Its a gift from my heart that comes through my hands. When a design client calls for the third time in a week to let me know how much more they're now enjoying their home because it not only looks beautiful, but it's working better-  I know I've done my job. 

Divas get a bad rep. Thank you very much Aretha Franklin.

It isn't an exercise in self absorption to give the Universe proper recognition for your own gifts, its a celebration. I say learn to celebrate you and others will too. There's a difference between "owning it" and showboating. A real diva knows the difference.

Because I long ago learned to embrace my inner diva, I can own my stuff! I'm a gifted Interior Designer, a burgeoning painter, Christmas isn't a day- its an event, and if you've been to my house for any manner of a meal then you know that I know my way around the kitchen! I also write, direct videos, design furniture, and can wrap the fuck out of a package. I don't sew though. I have people for that.

The only thing I can't seem to do well is keep a husband, which is unfortunate because divas need love too.

After losing 40 lbs last year I discovered that crow's feet had been lurking beneath the plumpness of my now less ample visage. A real diva would never admit that. "Marcella, book me at week at the Capri Anacapri."

Meanwhile, here's a gentle reminder from our resident Queen Bee Cassandra McShepard to embrace your inner diva-  from the Season 2 archives of  This Is What I Know So Far....

March 8, 2012

Style, Baby!

These fierce divas show us just how its done. You see its not about an age, its an about an attitude. More importantly, its not about an affectation, but an expression...how authentic are YOU on the outside? Exactly who are you going to be, if not you? Thank you Chris Harper for sharing this with me, so that I might share it here! How very, very lovely.

Buzz Out!

Buzz Out!