Background Information


There is a church in Georgia that soothes my soul.

My parents were married here.

I was baptized here.

My Pa Pa is buried here.

In between, I’ve attended plenty of Sunday services here, listening to the beautiful music Miss Carolyn could coax from the old organ, to the hushed footsteps on the faded runner dividing the pews, to the creak of the old beams supporting the small steeple.

Fair Haven United Methodist Church was erected in 1846, before Jenkins County even existed.  It was Burke County, back then.  My grandparents’ farm is just a mile or two from Fair Haven.  Sherman cut a wide swath through this area on his infamous “March to the Sea,” but did not burn Fair Haven.

His soldiers took only a drop leaf table, but changed their minds, and the table was reunited with the church.  It lost a small drawer during its journey, and that drawer is still missing today.

Though I’ve struggled with faith since my brother died, I always feel at peace within the walls of Fair Haven.  This tiny church is, to me, everything that church should be, and when I think of it, a smile always comes to my face.

As a result, Honeydew and I recently had Maggie Rose baptized at Fair Haven.  And it felt so good.

The minister did a lovely job, and seemed to delight in Maggie.  She liked him, too.

My grandma Betty and Sissy had beautifully decorated the church, with hydrangeas on the doors and objects we are thankful for: cotton, and the beloved picture of Pa Pa and Howard hugging on Christmas morning.

Maggie enjoyed her introduction to Fair Haven.

Maggie’s Big Mama and Sissy, for whom she is named, gave a lovely brunch after the baptism.

And it was a wonderful day.  Thanks to everyone who made it so special.

2011.  Glacier County Honey Co.  Photo credits also to Wanda Winn and Charlie Stone.  All Rights Reserved.

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With a new baby and an extra semi of bees, we didn’t wax too much about our darling 2011 Summer Help, Keith and Chase, but now that summer is over, we want to thank them once more for their cheerful dispositions and unflinching work efforts.

We get a lot of inquiries each year about employment, and although I always tell potential employees that beekeeping is not as romantic as presented in The Secret Life of Bees, that in addition to being unable to escape from us (our employees live in camper trailers in front of the Warehome), there will be many days requiring work in the dark hours before dawn and after dusk, that some days the stings will make their heads throb, that they’ll be so tired of being sticky by the end of it they’ll swear off even eating honey, and that the wind will blow so hard they’ll feel the grooves forming on their faces, somehow, we end up with summer help anyway.  And thank goodness.

Enjoy your Glacier County Honey Co. Carhartts, boys.  Thanks so much for all your hard work this summer.

2011.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

For weeks after Howard’s death, I knew how many hours I’d been without him.  For months, I could tell you the exact number of days.  For years, I referred to his death the way the parents of small children refer to their ages, in months and not years.  And that made sense, as the amount of change contained in such a period of 12 months is far more intense than in a “normal” year, whatever “normal” may be.

This morning is Howard’s birthday.

I laid in bed for a few minutes this morning, and did not know how many hours, days, or months I’d been without him.  Seven years, I thought.  Does that really mean that Howard would be 27 today?  I tried to do the math in my head, clumsily subtracting 1984 from 2011 sans calculator, which, if you know me, you know was difficult for me in more ways than one.

I determined that it was, indeed, Howard’s 27th birthday, and wallowed in the sheets for a moment, letting tears slide across my face.

And while most of the tears were for Howard, some of the tears were for myself, that I no longer knew the hours, days, months, or his age.  There is some joy in not knowing, but there is fear, too.

Fear of not honoring his memory properly, of not making him part of Maggie’s life, of not celebrating his joie de vivre, his enthusiasm, and his easy love for others.

 

And so this morning, I am thinking of Howard on his 27th birthday.  Oh, how I wonder who you’d be today.

2011.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

Editing pictures this morning, I realized that we really don’t talk enough about Pseudo Sista.

At first, she was Brother Dear’s Friend, working at Johnson’s of St. Mary, more years ago than any of us cares to admit.

And then she was Superglue, the one who kept Hillstock/Hillhouseapalooza together from the very start.

Over the years, she came to Hillhouse with each season, loving this extreme corner of Montana as deeply as the rest of the Stone/Fullerton crowd does, going so far as to live in our barn during summers.

And then one day we started calling her Pseudo Sista.

Later, she became a Hot Bun and favored hiking companion.  Then she directed my weddin’ to Honeydew.  And later still, she also moved to this extreme corner of Montana, to her own little hobbit house about an hour south of here, though she still lives with us in summertime.

Summer is coming to an end, and I will cry when Pseudo Sista leaves.  I’ve never met anyone with a sunnier disposition.  She is, as Cap’n Call would say, “cheerful in all weathers,” and helpful in all endeavors.  And, most importantly, no one gets a smile out of Maggie quicker than Pseudo Sista.

2011.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

Today marks the start of Hillstock/Hillhouseapalooza, the party we throw each summer in honor of Howard Hillhouse Stone, my youngest brother, who died too young, seven years ago.

Seven years ago.  Hardly seems real.

The above picture of Howard is one of my favorites – his mischievous streak would certainly have approved of Hillstock/Hillhouseapalooza, which generally involves tubing, dancing, Beer Olympics-ing, and most importantly, hiking together with a large group of those friends and family who love us best, in Howard’s honor.  I look forward to this week of the year all year, and my heart overflows with love for those friends and family who are here to say, silently, we haven’t forgotten.

Let the games begin!

2011.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.


Thirty-one years ago today I became a mother for the first time.

Late on June 23 I thought I had indigestion from the BBQ ribs I had eaten for dinner.  But at midnight Charlie drove me to the hospital and barely two hours later, at 1:50 a.m., Ivey Courtney Stone was born.  When my doctor said, “It’s a girl!” I said, “are you sure?”  Then he said, “she’s beautiful but she doesn’t have her mother’s tan.”  Funny, the things you remember.

Overnight I was transformed from a 26 year old woman used to breaking down barriers as a female reporter in the male dominated newspaper business to fulltime, stay at home mom.  I never regretted my decision.
Courtney didn’t come with instructions so we learned together.  I never took a Lamazze class or bought Dr. Spock’s baby book (I was a little headstrong and stubborn … maybe a trait we share?).  I relied on instinct and advice from my Mom, sister-in-law, and best friend.  There were no internet baby forums or Mommy blogs or WebMD back then … just my precious baby daughter and I at home all day figuring it out together.
I didn’t know she was supposed to be swaddled or shushed or have tummy time.  So Courtney and I did all the things I liked to do: worked in the garden, played with our dogs, sat out on the porch to wait for Daddy to come home from work, read books, and played in the plastic baby pool.  I used cloth diapers and pureed her food and she wore the little smocked dressed that her grandmother sewed by hand.  We lived a simple life in the country.  She made my life complete in a way I never dreamed possible.

Now she is a mother.  And her love for her Maggie Rose is well documented on this blog.

Happy birthday darling daughter. Welcome to motherhood.

I love you,

Mom

2011.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

Sometimes I write about the the family that my family chose as our family.

They chose us back, and this is how it happened.

I think.

Two mischievous and beautiful young women became sorority sisters, and roommates, at the University of Georgia.

About the same time, these two strapping young gentlemen became roommates at the Washington & Lee School of Law.

And after graduation, the strapping young gentleman from West Virginia took a bride.

And at their wedding, the strapping young gentleman from Southwest Virginia met the bride’s college roommate from Georgia.

And a few months afterwards, the strapping young gentleman from Southwest Virginia and the Georgia Belle married, too.

And the pairs of roommates were very happy.

And they were made happier still by the additions of their firstborns, daughters destined to be great friends.

The daughters were very different.

One would grow to be a model of grace and discretion, the kind of friend one can whisper a secret to when one wants that secret to be taken to the grave.  The other would grow to launch a blog and blab incessantly about her life and the lives of others, including that of her classy and graceful friend.

But their differences didn’t thwart their deep friendship, and the pair would eventually sustain each other in the best of times – Jimmy Buffett concerts! – and the worst of times – Jimmy Buffett concerts!

They would hold each other’s bouquets as each was married.

The older would help the younger bury her brother.  The younger would help the older bury her mother.

In the spring of 2008, the older welcomed a son into the world, and she became a mother, and the younger became a godmother.

And in the spring of 2011, the pair both welcomed daughters, one of whom is named for the older’s mother, the irreplaceable, irresistible, Betsy Davis.

Welcome to the world, baby girl.  We loved your grandmother as much as we already love you, and we can’t adequately express our joy over your safe arrival!

2011.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

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