March 2010


Perhaps because as an undergrad I read every word ever published by Flannery O’Connor, I am obsessed with peacocks, more properly called peafowl – the males are peacocks, and the females are peahens.  Ms. O’Connor, after being diagnosed with lupus and returning to the family farm near Milledgeville, Georgia, set about raising over 100 peafowl.  She dearly loved peacocks, and often described them in her works, especially in the essay “The King of Birds.”

I once collected kitsch centered around another exotic bird, the flamingo, but I’ve since moved on to peacocks.  I have peacock feathers stuck in jars, peacock earrings as big as my head that I love to wear with soft white blouses, and a peacock printed silk blouse I just recently picked up at Target.  The ostentatious nature of peacocks somehow lifts my spirits, and I’ve been trying to get Honeydew to buy some for me to keep in the yard.  I really think such an addition would lock in my title as “that crazy white lady who plays with bees and lives near Babb,” which is how I heard myself described by one of my clients in the Glacier County Courthouse.  He did not know I was standing behind him.

Honeydew says no to the yard peacocks.  He says that peacocks are obnoxious and noisy and sound like women screaming.  I say that peacocks are like beautiful guard dogs.  I say why do the usual things in life, like adopt a rez dawg and a lab/golden retriever for the yard?  We’ve already done that.  Let’s get peacocks!

To placate me, Honeydew took me peacock chasin’ while I was down in California, visiting him.

Aren’t they just gorgeous?  Don’t you think we need them at Hillhouse?

2010.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

I originally signed up for Twitter as a challenge to myself to string together 140 characters or less in an attractive, writer-ly fashion, every day.  And I occasionally still do that.  But I really got into Twitter this winter as part of my quest to advertise our brand spankin’ new bizness, Glacier County Honey Co., without spending a dime.  In the process, I’ve ended up following, and being followed by, a lot of folks who are interested in honeybees.  One of these is @robincharlotte, otherwise known as Robin Humphrey, an artist and jewelry designer from Los Angeles, California.  She loves cats, tacos, estate sales and albino peacocks, and she creates absolutely gorgeous, one-of-a-kind jewelry from actual bees, fish, etc, that she preserves in resin and the like.  I would say that her work is not for a shy woman.  I would not say that I am a shy woman.  I would say that I would love to own each and every one of these pieces – check ’em out:

Leather & Sterling Silver Bee Necklace, $98 – like nothing I have ever seen before – Robin used red recycled leather, a bee encased in resin, moonstone, rutilated quartz and honey jade – wow.

Bee in a Rain Forest Paradise Handbag, $295 – the amount of detail in this shoulder bag/clutch/evening bag is stunning!

Pinch and Sting Earrings, $96 – so clever!  The left earring has a real fiddler crab claw, encased in resin, and accentuated by a Peruvian Opal – the right has a bee encased in resin, accentuated by a rutilated quartz.

Fire Sting Earrings, on sale for $72 – and strangely, the ones I want the most – hint, hint, Honeydew!

Indian Moon Yellow Jacket Necklace, $98 – Or maybe I want this one the most.  I think it would look rockin’ with my other two bee necklaces – I’m into layering necklaces right now.  Robin describes this necklace as incorporating a yellow jacket, and not a bee, but I think the effect is the same.  On this one, she used sterling silver, a large round coin Swarovski crystal pendant (to represent the moon), a feather, a yellow jade and a small teal crystal.  Well done!

You can find more Robin Charlotte designs on her website and her Etsy shop!

Disclaimer – I love Robin Charlotte jewelry, and my love is pure.  Robin did not suggest this post, offer me any compensation, etc.  I just like to share items of material desire on this little blog, every now and again.  And I hope you enjoy a little breather from beekeeping and life near Glacier National Park, too.

That said, I gave her a heads up that I would be blogging about her unique creations, and she created a coupon code for any one of you (Honeydew?) that might be wandering over to her website to make a purchase – just enter ilovebees in the coupon code box at checkout and you’ll get free shipping!  Can’t argue with that!  Thanks, Robin!

2010.  Glacier County Honey Co. All Rights Reserved.

David Baumbauer is a hobby beekeeper down in Bozeman, Montana, and he blogs at http://www.bigskybee.com.  He uses his site to keep beekeepers in the Northern Rockies in the loop on all things bees.  Today, he’s featuring Glacier County Honey!  Check it out here.

2010.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

I spent last weekend at Freezeout Lake, a gorgeous little spot on the Rocky Mountain Front near Fairfield (home of the camels! literally!).  I was there because somehow, my hippie friends all grew up to become Bird Nerds … I’m calling them Berds for short.

And I mean that they are serious bird nerds … some of them are even getting their master’s degrees in Berd-ery.  Dare I say that a flock of them came up from Missoula to camp at Freezeout and watch the snow geese migration?  I will.  According to the Berds, up to 10,000 tundra swans and 300,000 snow geese rest at Freezeout Lake as they return from their winter stay in the south.  Now, that is a lot of birds.  Sheer heaven for the Berds!

Layla Jane invited me to stop by Freezeout and visit them, as I was heading home to near-Babb from Helena that day.  I thought I’d just stop by and tease them about the size of their binoculars, but I quickly got sucked into the drama of the sheer numbers of geese and swans … absolutely gorgeous.  When they took off, around sundown, they flew over our campsite, momentarily blacking out the sky and sending the sound of thunder reverberating across the plains.

Reminds me of a Shriner’s Convention, though I can’t say why.  I don’t think I even know what a Shriner is.

\

More Berd-ery.

Here’s beautiful Freezeout Lake:

Buck was a bit miffed that he wasn’t allowed to stalk the birds.

I was cheered to see yet another sign of spring:

Thanks for the invite, Berds.  It was good to see y’all.  With or without binos.

2010.  Glacier County Honey Co.

Next year, I’m going to bring a photographer with me to the Made in Montana MARKETPLACE, not Fair, as I was recently corrected.  Fair is much more festive.  I’m sticking with Fair on this site.  At any rate, I would say that I left my booth for a grand total of seven minutes during the entirety of the Fair, which ran from 9-5 on Friday and 9-4 on Saturday.  So, despite the beauty of all the booths, and the fantastic people watching, I have very few pictures of the weekend, and even less that are any good.  Which is a real shame, because there are Montanans out there making truly fabulous products, and we should all be buying our birthday, wedding, baby, anniversary, and just-because gifts from these fine folks, and not from Target/Wal-Mart/Sears/K-Mart/Starbucks/Red Envelope/Macy’s/Neiman Marcus/Anthropologie/Crate & Barrel/William Sonoma/J.Crew/etc.  I’m sorry Anthropologie.  I love you, and I especially love how you’re helping to save the honeybee, but until you start carrying Made in Montana products, I’m going to have put myself on restriction from your offerings.

Happily for me, I will have one photograph to remember the Fair by (not to mention the hours of work I put into preparing for the Fair)  — the Great Falls Tribune dropped by my booth on Friday, and took this picture, which I absolutely love!  Thank you, Rion Sanders.

The Tribune included Glacier County Honey Co. in their slideshow from what they called the “Made in Montana Trade Show” – we are slide of #20 of 20, here.  See, I’m not the only one who has trouble with “Marketplace.”

Here is a picture of our booth, from above:

Don’t you know that I wish I had bothered to remove my tea from the table before snapping away.

This is a picture taken from the catwalk of the Civic Center, showing about 1/2 of the exhibitors at the Fair – nothing special about it, just trying to give y’all an idea of the Fair’s size – I believe there were between 100 and 125 exhibitors – for a state with a population of less than a million, I think that’s pretty good:

I talked and talked and talked and talked some more at the Fair.  Kind of felt like I was in sorority Rush once more, minus the singing.  I reached down into the most outgoing, extroverted part of my soul, swallowed my deep-rooted, Presbyterian-style disdain for self-promotion, and drew people in.  I demonstrated how fabulous our 1# bottle of honey is – it has a  flip top diaphragm seal that sucks the honey back in when you’re done squeezing, meaning no honey drips and a non-sticky kitchen – very cool.  I described how we extract honey and render wax.  I offered honey, bread, and compliments.  Shamelessly.  We talked about:

colony collapse disorder

how darling their shoes were

how much my feet hurt

the fact that a beeswax candle will purify the air around it, when burned, because it contains negative ions

almond pollination in California

proper wicking of candles

how a 100% beeswax candle with a 100% cotton wick and no additives has the same light spectrum as the sun, as opposed to a parrafin candle, which has the same light spectrum as an incandescent light bulb – disorganized, and much harder on your brain than the sun’s light spectrum

how darling their scarves were

how darling my bee necklaces were

what beeswax is, and how it takes 800,000 scales of it (produced from glands in a worker bee) to make one pound

the various nectar sources of Glacier County Honey: alfalfa, white sweet clover, and wildflowers, to name a few

how we ship our bees to California (on flat bed big rigs)

how beautiful my Christmas tree decorated with 100% beeswax ornaments was, and how delightful it was to see a tree without a single Made-in-China decoration on it

why a paraffin candle is not “green” – it is a petroleum byproduct, and when burned, emits a petrol soot – yuck

how honey is priced – it is a commodity, and the USDA grades it on its color, of which there are 7 grades, some of which are more desirable, and pricey, than others – that “Grade A” you see on honey labels is sheer puffery and I generally find it to mean that the honey is from a big distributor and is just a mix of many beekeepers’ honeys – double yuck

whether I think Congress thinks (I offered no comment there, beyond saying that Congress needs to get a chokehold on foreign honey coming into our country that’s got high fructose corn syrup mixed into it to make it go further – triple yuck)

whether I think honey might be good on vegetables (I know for a fact it’s great on carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkins, and kale)

whether I think bees think (I’ll have to think about that one)

how darling our booth was

how darling their babies were

how darling my husband is, and how happy I am to have married into a beekeeping family

It was beyond exhausting.  But very rewarding.  Although I’ve been here and there this winter, visiting Honeydew, friends, and family, most of my days since January have been spent in the silent cold of near-Babb, Montana.  My only constant companion, besides Bucky Dog, has been the wind’s voice, sometimes shrill, sometimes fierce, sometimes subtle, but never very friendly.  I found that I absolutely loved talking with my fellow Montanans, and gushing to them about Glacier County Honey.  I am so proud of our products – I truly believe you’ve never tasted honey this good, and I wish I could properly express my gratitude to our lovely ladies, the Glacier County Honey bees.  Guess I’ll just have to squeeze our #1 beekeeper, Honeydew, extra tight, instead.

Totally unrelated to the Made in Montana Fair’s Retail Day – Glacier County Honey Company is sponsoring a photo contest, with fabulous honey and beeswax products as prizes!  Click here for details.

2010.  Glacier County Honey Co. All Rights Reserved.

On my recent trip over the purple mountains majesty and amber waves of grain, I meant to draft discovery and read through the latest updates to the health care bill.  I read Real Simple magazine instead, one of my favorite things to find in my Babb PO Box.  During my flight, Real Simple informed me that champagne coupes, or saucers, are “back!”  Which I suppose means they’re fashionable once more, as opposed to the ubiquitous flute, which is symbolic worldwide of celebration by champagne.  Quasi-related note: there’s a book out right now called The Widow Clicquot, whose author I’ve forgotten, but it discusses the founding of Veuve Clicquot, quite a lovely champagne, and how it came to worldwide power, along with Tattinger, Dom, etc.  Veuve is French for Widow, and Veuve Clicquot was brought to staggering success by the Widow Clicquot, against amazing odds.  My friend Amy E recently lent it to me, and I recommend.

But I digress.  I laughed at the Real Simple article letting me know that it is once again permissible to imbibe one’s favorite champagne from a saucer.  They’ve certainly never been “out” of fashion to me –

Those are my unkempt fingernails holding a champagne saucer as Honeydew and I toasted each other at our wedding. And not just any ole champagne saucer – those gorgeous sterling and crystal champagne saucers were a gift to me upon my law school graduation from my grandma Ivey.  This grandmother is my dad’s mom, and I am named for her – before I got mixed up with Honeydew, I filed my taxes as Ivey Courtney Stone, though I’ve always gone by Courtney.  There was a little hitch in my breath when I applied with the Social Security Administration for a name change, dropping Ivey.  I revere my grandmother.

My grandma Ivey is a grandmother, clearly, though I’m going to refer to her as Ivey in this post, because she is the most dignified woman in my acquaintance, and I am almost 30, and something about calling her grandma has never quite set right on my tongue.  Ivey is a Presbyterian, a philanthropist, a champion of education.  Ivey wears fabulous brooches.  Ivey is a dedicated correspondent.  Ivey is a graduate of Duke University, with degrees in English and Math.  (Ok, so I got her name, but not her left-and-right-brains.)  Ivey is a world traveler, and has seen continents all by herself.

In World War II, her entire family signed up to defend, right down to their dalmation.  Ivey joined the Navy WAVEs (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), working in DC as a message translator.  In DC, she frequently walked past a department store that displayed beautiful champagne saucers.  She admired them greatly, and a friend got word to her brother Vince, serving in the Army Air Corps in Britain, that she fancied these saucers.  Although it was wartime, Vince, adoring his sister, managed to send 12 of these champagne saucers to her as a wedding gift.  Ivey married my grandfather on June 20.  She found out on her honeymoon that Vince had died on June 6, at  D-Day, in the battle for Normandy, France.

I would like to say that I can’t imagine her pain, but as readers of this blog know, I’ve lived it, too.  I asked Ivey, the day after Howard died, what to do.  And she told me that she did not know.  That was my first clue as to just how hard grieving my brother would be, that my grandmother, a fearless and accomplished woman, would tell me some sixty years after her own brother’s death, that she had no game plan for me.  As time went on, and my tears became less crippling, I realized that she was right, of course.  There was nothing to be done except let grief have its way.

This is Ivey with her brother, Vince.  Everyone says that I look just like my mama, and its true that we favor closely, and I am flattered by the comparison, but I think this picture shows you that I have my equally beautiful grandmother’s cheeks and nose.  And feet, though I shouldn’t mention them!

This is Ivey with her father, on her wedding day.  She married my grandfather in Charlotte, North Carolina, at 8pm, because they were both on passes from the Navy, and couldn’t be sure when their trains would arrive to Charlotte.

This is Ivey just a few months ago with my first-cousin/older-brother-type-Will’s youngest, Ivey.  Aren’t they beautiful?

And this is my favorite picture of Ivey.  All alone, as I have always known her (my grandfather died in 1973).  Calm, exuding confidence.  When I drink out of her champagne saucers, and she has advised me to use them frequently, not to wait for a “special occasion,” to recognize, like my mother does, that sometimes the first flake of snow, or the last thank you note written, is reason enough to pop a cork, I always toast to Ivey.

Photo credit to Tom Whisenand.  2010. Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

Wholesale Day wasn’t quite Christmas for Glacier County Honey … but it might be a delayed gift, who knows?

Made some wonderful connections with wholesalers who are committed to promoting the sale of Made/Grown in Montana goods, including Glacier County Honey’s.  And even better, met an awful lot of really nice people and collected a stack of intriguing business cards.  Will likely be linking to some of their pages in the future, but for now, I’m going to put my feet up, and conserve my energy for Retail Day tomorrow, which the Smoots promise me will be three times busier than today was.  The Smoots make the best creamed honey in the free world.  We make the best all-other-honey in the free world.  So fun to have our friends at the Fair!

2010.  Glacier County Honey Co. All Rights Reserved.

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