March 2012

I spy …

With my little eye …

One heck of a mischievous child …


2012.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.


Go away.

Come again some other day.

Preferably in May … after we’ve gone home.

Oh, I know the lakes and rivers need the moisture.  And I know that all of Southern California will shrivel up and die if Northern California doesn’t get the water.

Which might not be such a bad thing?

But two weeks of rain is just a little much for Maggie Rose, who loves eating dirt above all else.

And two weeks of rain, with yet another week of moisture in the forecast, is too much for her mama, too.  Rain means no queen mating, no internet connection, no walking the Sacramento River Trail, and no dining al fresco, which is one of the greatest things about California, to me.  I’ve lived in Montana the better part of ten years now, and I’d forgotten cabin fever can be caused by precipitation other than snow.

Yes, yes, I know.  There are starving children in Africa.  And Browning, for that matter, and wherever you’re reading this, too.

And it’s not like the roads are closed and I actually can not go anywhere, as happened to me so many times last winter.

But please, please, please, Sun, come back!

2012.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

This is an experimental, transitional year for Glacier County Honey Company, in that Maggie Rose and I accompanied Honeydew to California for the entirety of the pollination/queen season.  As we planned for our departure, I twisted myself into knots trying to figure out how much inventory to leave behind for orders.  And it turns out I did not plan very well, and/or that our customer base has been mighty loyal to us, and ordered twice what it ordered during this same time frame last year.  As a result, shipping from will be very limited until we return to Babb, as we are pretty much sold out of everything but 1# squeeze tops, and those will soon be gone as well.  We apologize for the poor planning and hope that you’ll stick by us until we’re able to restock in early May.  Please feel free to email me with any questions or orders, and I’ll do my best to answer and fulfill.

And thanks again for all of your business!  In hard times, we have been blessed by your loyalty.

2012.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

Now, let’s not lose our collective sense of humor, shall we?  In the days that I wore my lawyer hat, I represented children more frequently than any other type of client, and calling CPS (child protective services) is not something I take lightly.

But I realized over the weekend, as I was brunching with Pseudo Sista and Maggie Rose, that perhaps the State should step in for poor Maggie.  As we brunched, Pseudo Sista and I became extra-animated, discussing something so hilarious that I don’t even recall what we were, in fact, discussing, although I do remember laughing so hard I may have drooled, and in all the hilarity, I — we? — failed to notice that Maggie Rose, who was, to start with, standing in a booth and jumping up and down, jangling my car keys and trying to gouge out her eyeballs, or perhaps, mine, had gotten ahold of the sugar packets and was DUMPING them into her mouth and acting like they contained crack cocaine, and further, that crack cocaine was THE. BEST. THING. EVER.

No, I did not notice this act of addiction until I observed the couple in the booth across from ours, older than me and clearly seasoned parents, doubled over with laughter that seemed to be pointed in Maggie Rose’s direction.  Oh, boy.  Note: this couple had not lost their sense of humor, so y’all don’t lose yours now.

There is no picture of our sugar-crack baby, but here’s another good example of our parenting skills, or lack thereof:

Yep, that’s our precious baby, nine months old, standing on top of a hive of bees for the very first time.

Now, off to work on our joint 2012 Parents of the Year acceptance speech.

On a different note – perhaps next week will bring us better weather, which would be good for the bees and the blogging.  When it rains in our part of California, our Mi-Fi internet connection becomes slower than dial up, thwarting queen rearing and picture uploading all at once.  Frustrating times in the Glacier County Honey Company rental home … if there are any Verizon Mi-Fi wizards out there with good suggestions, please, by all means, post them!  Shockingly, Verizon has been of very little assistance with this issue.

2012.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

In years past, I’ve spent the first part of March racing around getting ready for the Made in Montana Marketplace, a fair held each year in Great Falls that allows members of the Made in Montana program to connect with wholesalers and the public prior to Montana’s insane summer/tourist season.  We’ve loved being exhibitors, and right now I’m missing pouring hundreds of candles and labeling endless one pounders of honey in preparation.  We hope to exhibit again in 2013!

But we’re not sitting around in California twiddling our thumbs.  Honeydew, as in every March, is running around like a crazy person – the bees are out of the almonds and back into the holding yards – and I promise if I ever get a strong internet connection again I’ll do a big blog post on this topic!.  So, every morning, Keith and Honeydew head out to these yards to catch queens and prepare the hives for requeening.

And every morning, after I clean up the mess from a hot breakfast and packed lunches, I load Maggie Rose into my car and we head to the gym.  Another beekeeper in the Redding area recommended this particular gym to me, and I love belonging there.  It provides a very nice break from pouring candles, and I am finally seeing the baby weight come off.  Hurrah!  But the best part about this gym is that it offers childcare, and so Maggie gets to experience an hour or so of daycare every day, which I’m sure is how she picked up her horrible illness back in February, but on the whole, I am so happy that she gets to interact with lots of young children, without me.  I think this is very, very good for her.  And an hour to lose myself in earblasting rock through my headphones, as I push myself in the weight room and on the cardio machines, is also very, very good for me.

When I picked Maggie Rose up from this daycare yesterday, my heart lurched.  My little mullet baby was sporting the two most darling pigtails that have ever graced the planet, the first pigtails she’d ever worn, the first time her hair was in any way styled.

I’ve never even put her hair in a headband or a bow.  I don’t know why.  She has plenty of them, and I know she would look precious in them.  I think in some silly way my subconscious realizes that all too soon, she will be doing recklessly horrible things to her beautiful hair – like dyeing it dark, dyeing it with Kool Aid, dyeing it to cover up her grays.  Not that I’ve ever done those things.  And so I suppose my subconscious has whispered to me, “Plenty of time for hairstyles, in any way, shape, or form.”

But I do think it’s time for pigtails.

And maybe barrettes and headbands, too.

Once she’s at least ten months old.

Which is next week.

Oh, Time, please, please slow down.

2012.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

Confession: I like to drink wine.

How did a girl who grew up a few miles from NASCAR’s Martinsville Speedway get into wine? Ah, past waitressing employment at The Babb Bar Cattle Baron Supper Club, DePalma’s, and The Depot, quickly taught me that the easiest way to increase my tips was to gain a working knowledge of wine. And that gaining such knowledge was pretty fun, too.

I am by no means a wine snob – fine wine is festive and a treat for the senses, but paying off Warehomes and drinking Opus One do not hand-in-hand go. Plus, anything but Black Box at a Hillstock event would just be … wrong.

I am also by no means an expert on wine, but I know enough to enjoy tasting it and pairing it, and I’d heard nothing but rave reviews about trips to the area of California where so many American wines are crafted. So, I asked my mom and Sissy to come visit us in California, and to go with me to see wine country. Being foodies more than boozers, we mostly ate our way through wine country, which is yet another outrageously beautiful area of Northern California. Here are a few highlights from our trip:

We took a tour at Domaine Carneros and learned all about the art of sparkling wines – the tour was well done and ended with a seated tasting of their fabulous bubbly wines and equally delicious pinot noir. The place itself is gorgeous and the patio lends itself to cheese nibbling and champagne sipping. Loved it!

Being foodies and farm girls at heart, I think our exploration of the above gardens of the French Laundry, said to be the best restaurant in America, was probably the highlight of the trip for us.

We marveled over the perfect rows of garlic, the immaculate greenhouse, and the least-mangy bunch of chickens I have ever set eyes on. The French Laundry’s gardens were simply inspiring, and a lovely way to while away a morning while we waited for our next lunch reservation, at Mustards Grill.

Photo credit to Mustards Grill.

Which was, no surprise, simply divine. I’ve never tasted fresher ahi tuna anywhere. And I must compliment the staff on their acting skills – Maggie Rose also loved Mustards, and expressed her approval by throwing rice and bits of everything else we tasted onto the floor, leaving the kind of mess that the former waitress in me inwardly groaned over.

Our waitress acted like the mess was the highlight of her day, and we tipped her handsomely. I am so glad that motherhood has not completely eliminated occasional fine dining from my life. Thank you, Mustards.

Photo credit to Cakebread Cellars.

Our next stop was at Cakebread – quite a treat, as Cakebread is a wine of celebration and not of any ole Friday night. An appointment to taste is required, and is worth the effort. Our wonderful tour guide, a wine maker and viticulturalist, led us out into the vineyards, and we learned a good bit about the science behind the growing of the grapes, as opposed to just learning about the wine making process itself. The sun poured down on us, honeybees buzzed about, and the pours were generous and a sensory delight. Cakebread’s sauvignon blanc and big reds already occupied a special place in my heart, but I didn’t think I liked chardonnay of any kind until I tasted Cakebread’s. Wow.

My friend Damian – see his handsome face below – lives in Napa, and joined us for our adventures at Mustards and Cakebread. He suggested an impromptu stop at Chandon, and we tasted white bubbles, rose bubbles, and red bubbles on Chandon’s sun soaked patio. Outside the realm of the ever-reviled Cold Duck, I’d never heard of red bubbles, and I must say I expected a cloying assault on my tastebuds. Oh, no no no my friends. Chandon’s red sparkling would be new my favorite wine, if only it were available for purchase outside of the winery! To me, it is the best parts of a big red and of champagne, and as we discussed during our tasting, it would be the perfect accompanionment for Thanksgiving dinner, or any other heavy meal. If you can get your paws on a bottle, give it a try!

After our fun at Chandon, we returned to our home base of Sonoma, where we continued eating (I know, I know) and thoroughly enjoyed a meal at The Girl and The Fig. How fun is their wine flight presentation?

Dear childhood friend from our mutually long abandoned hometown, Damian, joined us for dinner, and I think I will have to change his characterization to “life long friend,” as it seemed we picked up right where we had left off, at graduation. So great to see you, D.

Then, just when we thought our tastebuds couldn’t handle any more culinary wonders, our dear friend Maie hosted a dinner at her home in Sacramento:

Maie, I’ve never eaten at the French Laundry, but I don’t see how it could possibly be any better than our meal together. I’m so glad you joined us!

Ladies, it was a pleasure! And now, to the gym to work off the excesses of our wonderful time in Sonoma County.

2012. Glacier County Honey Co. All Rights Reserved.

Back at the turn of the century — I’m practicing using this phrase to encourage Maggie’s future mastery of The Eye Roll — I filled out an application to work at St. Mary, The Resort at Glacier, and in fact got the job and had just as much fun driving across the country with my best friend as I did working across the country with my best friend.  Rocketing through the seemingly endless expanses of North Dakota’s I-94, my brain wandered across the globe, pulling up photographs and possible job opportunities in New Zealand, Patagonia, and Thailand – all corners of the globe I wanted to see.

All corners of the globe I still want to see.

That job on the border of Glacier National Park reset my compass, and although I finished my undergraduate degree at the University of Georgia, and later returned to the South for a law degree, I’ve never really left Montana, in all that leaving entails, since those early days in St. Mary.  In fact, I’d never even gone further west than Spokane, Washington, until I became engaged to Honeydew and flew to California to meet his beekeeping family and learn about almond pollination.

So when I was weighing the pros and cons of accompanying Honeydew for the entire almond pollination/queen rearing season in California, a definite pro for me was Redding’s centrality to other areas of California I really wanted to see, including the Redwoods and the Pacific Ocean.  Once we got all the bees safely ensconced in the orchards, Honeydew, Maggie Rose and I took off to see those mighty trees.

We drove California’s Highway 36 from Redding to Fortuna, a narrow, twisting strip of pavement that rollercoasters its way through the mountains to the coast, and is sorely in need of guard rails.  But my mouth fell open from the beauty of 36 as often as it did from fear – there are places in Humboldt County where the Mad River runs in that shade of turquoise that I previously thought belonged only to Glacier’s high mountain lakes and perhaps Anguilla’s shores.  Wow.

We stopped in Fortuna for a great meal at the Eel River Brewery, the first brewery in the nation certified as “organic.”  I wasn’t particularly impressed with the “organic-ness” or not of the beer, but the seafood salad was killer and the patio seating looked like a real treat on a warm day.  Driving south from Fortuna, we cruised onto a state park scenic byway and saw truly massive redwoods for the first time – wow.

That is a stump, y’all.

Some of the Redwoods are older than the Roman Empire would be if it were still around and we were more than suitably impressed!  Redwoods are mighty hard to photograph, but I hope these pictures will amuse Maggie Rose when she is older.

Pulling into Eureka, I finally got that view of the Pacific Ocean I’d been waiting for.  It was worth it!

What are these gorgeous yellow and red flowers?

We spent the night at the Eureka Inn, which is steeped in history and claims to have recently been renovated – that, my friends, is a pack of lies.  It is still very much in the process of being renovated and I have never stayed in a more expensive dump.  And I am not one to turn my nose up at a Super 8, either.  Do yourselves a favor and stay at the Best Western Plus in downtown Eureka.

We wanted to stay the night in Eureka because Honeydew’s favorite beer, Great White, is produced here by the Lost Coast Brewery.  The big plus to the otherwise disappointing Eureka Inn was its proximity to the brewery, so around 5pm we threw on our rain jackets, tucked Maggie Rose securely into Honeydew’s jacket, and trotted off.  The food was average, the beer was exceptional, and we loved the 10 Samplers for 12 Dollars tray!

Next morning, we sampled the famed Crab Cakes Benedict at Gill’s By the Bay, which lived up to their fame, and having taken in our allotted calories for the week, we headed north for hiking in Redwood National Park.  As it turns out, the “National Park” is really a string of state parks and other protected areas along California’s Lost Coast, and so I never really got that pristine, uninhabited national-park-feeling, but that is not to say that the scenery is anything less than spectacular, or that we had anything less than a blast exploring all the pockets of fairyland trees, deserted, rocky coast, and Roosevelt elk habitat.

Look at those trees!

While in the National Park, we stumbled across an eight mile dirt road to Gold Bluff Beach – Honeydew and I rarely feel more at home together than driving down a dirt road, so we detoured and were thrilled that we did.  Driving through 8 miles of ancient, dripping Redwoods, springing out from each other, dancing together in fairy rings, supporting the growth of more types of ferns and mosses than I ever dreamed existed — the word lush took on a new meaning for us.  And then.  Then we arrived at Gold Bluff Beach and felt like the only people on earth.  The elk had recently visited the beach, but we saw not another soul as Maggie Rose tasted sand for the first time.

Just like the beach of my youth: Myrtle.

I kid.

Gold Bluff Beach, you are in my heart.  I will come again.

We returned to Redding via Hwy 299, which is not quite as car-sickness-inducing as Hwy 36, but is nearly as beautiful.  It follows the Trinity River for much of the way, and I am itching to raft that gorgeous river in the spring.  We stopped in Weaverville for dinner at La Grange and it was perfect – not particularly fancy, but excellent food.  That’s the way I like it.  Especially with a 9 month old in tow!

And that was our trip to the Lost Coast.  I think I am on the cusp of a major love affair with Northern California.

2012.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

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