To Get Honey in the Comb

by Clara Nipper

To Get Honey in the Comb


Drive in the hot station wagon for an hour past prairie grasslands bleached silver and gold in the sun. Let the wind simultaneously cool and toast your face.

Pull down a rough dirt road to a local farmer’s market where honey is sold, gleaming amber in glass jars. Smile at your dirty bare feet sticking to the cool, concrete floor of the little warehouse where there is beautiful produce everywhere. Pyramids of tomatoes, bins of watermelons and cantaloupes just broken off the vines, crates of hot peaches whose blushing perfume was so strong it made your eyes cross; boxes of okra, piles of zucchini, flats and flats of mouthwatering crimson strawberries, small boxes of the first crop of blackberries the size of a man’s thumb and dark and shiny. Electric fans and flies everywhere. A wooden sign hanging from the ceiling that reads: ‘no profanity.’

Beg to taste the raspberry and lemon honey and pout when you are refused. Get distracted by the farm kids who are as shy and furtive as their cats you long to pet. The farm dogs lay panting on the floor, their tails thumping whenever anyone comes close. Wave flies away from your face and from all your mother purchases: two gallons of honey, an entire flat of strawberries, a bushel of peaches, a peck of tomatoes, a watermelon that reminds you of sitting in front of the floor fan with your friends yelling into the blast of air, loving your altered voices, waiting for the melon to cool. Once it was cut open, you swept away by the true scent of the melon as you close your eyes and inhale: freshly cut roses and cold sugar. Your Mom also bought two cantaloupes and a tiny container of blackberries.

Express disappointment to your mother that she always insists on buying “dark” honey because she believes it has higher nutrient value. Load the car.

On the drive home, make it your job to sit in the back and protect the melons from rolling around. Become entranced by the amber honey shine and the large combs floating inside the jars like prizes. Open a jar and fall in love with the pure, sweet flower scent. Imagine all the bees out in the fields with clover and sunflower and apple blossom and Indian paintbrush and abandoned wisteria and stray mints wandering south and then stick your finger into the honey. Put your finger onto your tongue. Close your eyes as the taste melts and spreads all over your mouth and into your veins. Forget that your hair is stuck to your forehead with sweat; forget your stubbed toe bruised black; forget all Mom’s constant Noes. Forget the stuffy car. Submerge your hand in the jar and pinch a corner of the honeycomb until it breaks off. Raise it to your mouth, not minding the dripping honey stream that follows your hand, landing on the jar, the car floor, your legs, your shirt and your chin. Cram the honeycomb in and chew. The wax sticks to your teeth a little, but keep chewing, exploding the cells of rich, thick honey. Your throat seizes at the intensity. Keep chewing. You swallow the honey in ecstasy as if it were sunshine. The comb shrinks, dries, hardens in your mouth. You chew as long as you can, until the sweetness is gone. Once you get home, you help carry in the groceries, getting patches of honey everywhere that will mystify and irritate your mother for days. You spit the bolus of spent wax into a Tupperware where all the other chewed and desiccated gobs are, rattling together like ivory stone bones, waiting for your mother to melt into candles.

You put the glass jars of honey into the cabinets within easy reach. You’ll need some more later. Go outside and play in the hose, your mouth still tingling with sweetness.


The Comeback Takes Longer than the Setback

by Clara Nipper

Why is that?

In spite of not being a sci-fi devotee, I have frequently wished to be a robot so that I can just make a list and set a schedule and stick to it and accomplish all the goals I set, bypassing entirely that weepy, scared, playful, sleepy, hungry, tired, pensive, discouraged, flexible, social, loving, weak link of human frailty that decides to take the day off and play with the cats or skate or spend time with friends or bird watch or go to bed early or relax with Pinterest and a popsicle (not being a vampire fan either, I asked Kris if she would be vampires with me and she said, "ewww, no!" She obviously didn't understand the point I was trying to make about the benefit of immortality. We would be together forever and neither of us would get sick or die. We fought about it, which is even more foolish, since it's hypothetical only-as far as I know-but now she knows to agree immediately when I say I wish we were vampires).

We've all experienced getting a minor cold that doesn't seem like much of a setback and then find ourselves playing catch up for weeks. And when the lovely holidays, or even great vacations are over, who doesn't heave a sigh of relief that things can finally get back to normal?

Don't get me started on fitness-how one day off equals a setback for a week. And having a short work week or a day off tends to make things harder on the return to the office.

It's just not fair.

So, I'm still struggling with a comeback; a returning home to myself after profound setbacks. After four devastating losses that knocked me out like body blows, I thought I would be "normal" by now; no, I thought I would be better than normal; I thought I would effortlessly reclaim my usual strict high standards of over-achievement and robot-like improvement and accomplishment like clockwork. But I'm not. I'm so flawed; easily angered and exhausted with trying. It's very humbling to my glazomaniac robot self.

Zen koan: I am sick to death of square one, but I am so grateful for square one. I do love and I do hate a new beginning. Square one is also known as a fresh start and the dawn of a new day.  Very hopeful-sounding. But love it or hate it, here I am. What doesn't come standard in the robot suit is the ability to feel heretofore unknown compassion and gentleness for those who are struggling too. Kindness really blunts my harsh critical judgment. And I get surprised by the amazing tenderness of people.

So greetings from the rough but beautiful road back. It's the square ones that keep you young, right? When you run out of square ones, you're done. I've got to go play with the cats now.

Struggle and courage

by Clara Nipper

Dearest readers: I know we have all experienced loss and then really struggled to get our lives back on track. A little over a year ago, I had three devastating losses all within one week and although I have recovered and my life is actually better than before; I am still adjusting and have emotional flashbacks and setbacks. So the mantra I am focusing on these days is "stop hating yourself for what you aren't and start loving yourself for what you are." Also, "suffering comes from wishing things were different than they are." So these words may or may not be of use, but if there's anything I've learned over the past year-people care about you much more than you think and you are not alone. I wrote the short piece below on a plane ride after a particularly hard trip, but as hard as it was, I am still realizing the gifts that came from it.


You tell me you are so proud that I did that book reading in San  Francisco . You say I am courageous.

I am impervious to praise.

I wish I could feel that flush and thrill, absorbing that I accomplished something;

But it was just the last step in a long path of careful and rigorous preparation;

So it is only the sum total of a painstaking equation that I began years ago;

Like wiping one’s mouth after a Thanksgiving meal

Or taking a shower after a hard workout.

There is no pride in that. It is merely finished.

But what about pride in the secret daily things that are much more difficult?

Invisible struggles that require so much private effort.

Such as riding my bicycle to work every day through the cold, dark winter, carrying breakfast, lunch, manuscripts and a change of clothes on my back.

Such as having incapacitating panic attacks and still doing the laundry.

Such as going to work the day we had to put Katey to sleep.

Such as practicing my book reading aloud while walking at lunch instead of going to a restaurant with friends or playing computer games.

Such as giving up caffeine cold turkey.

Such as shaving my head bald just out of curiosity.

Such as being afraid to fly but doing it anyway.

Such as vomiting in the hotel room sink but then getting dressed and doing my hair and makeup for the event.

Such as eating fresh fruits and vegetables daily when all I want is potato chips and chocolate.

Such as driving across the state by myself to attend a class.

Such as being sick but still writing thank you notes.

Such not being able to sing well but joining a choir because I love to sing.

Such as facing that blank page day after day, year after year, rejection after rejection,

As published mediocrity continues to amaze and embitter me.

Such as the world telling me to give up and go to hell and I refuse

Such as working ten times as hard and it is still not the book I meant to write.

Such as missing you so much it stops my breath but still smiling and going on stage.

Such as watching the miles count down to home and not running full-speed, sobbing, headlong into you when I arrive,

Instead, walking sedately into your arms.

Getting the hang of it...

by Clara Nipper

Derby Clara’s Second Blog

 by Clara Nipper

In case you were wondering, I taste like glitter and venom. So today, I’ll focus on glitter.

Here we are with my second blog and I’m just as clueless as I was with the first, but I have included a photo of me in derby gear as a few people requested that.

So, for aspiring writers, here is the best advice I was ever given and therefore, the best advice I can give: meat in seat. Make a commitment every day to have your butt in the chair with the intention to write and stay there no matter what. If you stare into space; if you doodle; if you weep; stay there and I guarantee, you will write eventually.

Clarissa Pinkola Estes also said that “stories are medicine” and I find that inspiring enough to get my meat in the seat.

Regarding works in progress, I am in continual conflict with a manuscript entitled At My Mother’s Table. I just have too much material and so must decide what to cut. But the wonderful thing about this coming-of-age story is that it creates conversations about food. There is a chapter in which the main character eats mulberries right off the tree and when I shared that section aloud, it began an entire discussion of eating “wild” food as children. Green apples, sour cherries, blackberries wrestled from thorny canes, jam grapes loaded with seeds and honeysuckle blossoms were regular additions to our culinary fare. You really know you’re an adult when you walk past honeysuckle instead of running to it. And sharing these stories, I learned so much about my loved ones that I never otherwise would have known and that is one way I believe stories are medicine.

Until next time, derbylove to everyone. And I’ll be the one eating tomatoes off the vine and drinking water from the hose, come over and play!

World premier

by Clara Nipper

MY First Blog Ever Published February 21, 2012 Bold Strokes Authors , Lesbian Fiction 11 Comments
Tags: Bold Strokes Books, BSB Authors, Clara Nipper, Femme Noir, Kiss of Noir, Lesbian Fiction, lesbian mystery


by Clara Nipper

Hello, Readers!

This is my first blog ever, so please be gentle. As I continue blogging, I intend to become more polished and to learn what I should and should not post. I hope to inform, to entertain and to engage and never to bore but perhaps it is already too late for that.

A little about me: I am the author of the erotic murder mystery Femme Noir and its sequel,Kiss of Noir, both are available from Bold Strokes Books.

I am currently working on three books: a new murder mystery, tentatively entitled, Murder on the Rocks, a coming of age novel entitled, At My Mother’s Table and a young adult story called, Life Do Get Daily. I may be posting excerpts soon and soliciting your opinions.

 I also have a small artisan candy company called Andy’s Candies. It is named after a beloved cat companion who died.

Because I am happiest when I am busy enough to disappear up my own backside, I am also a devoted derby skater with the Green Country Roller Girls.  (author note: Green Country is now Roughneck Roller Derby We had our first practice of the 2012 season last night and I am so sore, the only muscles I can move are in my fingers.

Since I’m both a writer and a derby girl, it’s obvious that I’m in love with both punishment and pain. But as other writers and derby girls know, along with the suffering comes great joy and profound satisfaction.

I thought to close my first blog entry, I would address the question I am most frequently asked, which is, how does one become a writer? And here is my response, as it was given to me: if anything can stop you from writing, let it.

So I look forward to seeing where this e-path will take us! Thank you for reading. Thank you for reading anything and everything. You can reach me at my website:, Facebook, Twitter: @mindybendy, and my author’s pages on both and