Books and Other Reading Pleasures


Last year, Glacier County Honey Co. exhibited at the NorthWest Honey Festival.  While we were showing off our gorgeous water white honey and golden beeswax, Mama — a former journalist — got to chatting with a friendly reporter covering the festival.  Long story short – being the lovely Southern lady she is, Mama invited said reporter to come on up to Babb and take a peek at our bees and the crazy life we lead on the 49th parallel.

Well, he — Cecil Hicks — took her up on the offer, and a few weeks after Maggie Rose and the bees joined us for the summer, Cecil came to write a leetle story about Glacier County Honey for the American Bee Journal.  Or, we thought it would be a leetle story.  As in possibly a quarter of a side bar, waaaaayyyy towards the back.

Imagine our surprise when we went to the post office this week.

Wow.

Guess who is insufferable this week?

Yep.  That husband of mine has been a mighty fine pain in the rear for the last day or so.

I kid.  We’re all getting a pretty large kick out having him — and the Green Bay Packers supers Darling Summer Help 2010 painted us as a parting “gift” — on the cover of what we consider the premier beekeeping publication.

I look blonde.  Weird.

Anyway.  The article is far more than we ever dreamed of.

And on it goes …

Not gonna lie, I’m liking watching the stats on our website and our blog shatter every record we ever set, and I’m really loving watching the orders pour into my in-box.

To all of our new readers: thank you so much for your support, and your many kind words on the article in the ABJ.  We appreciate you more than you know!

And to all of our old readers: thank you so much for being with us, through the beekeeping, the babies, and the babbling, every step of the way.  We hope you’re enjoying the ride as much as we are.

2011.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

Of the gifts my parents gave me that I couldn’t lose, break, or tire of, the gift of language reigns supreme.  I can’t remember a room in my childhood that didn’t contain a shelf of books, and being read to, reading to others, and reading to oneself were all activities highly encouraged by Mom and Dad.  They wouldn’t buy me jeans from Abercrombie & Fitch, but I don’t recall them ever saying “no” to a book purchase – even if the book was Vol. 2,102 in the Babysitters Club series, and not War and Peace.

When I was very young, my parents enforced a 7pm bedtime for the three of us kids, and now that I am 30 and expecting a child of my own, I can understand that taking a few hours at the end of the day to engage in adult conversation, possibly about books, perhaps over a glass of chardonnay, has probably contributed to the longevity of their marriage, now 35 years in the running.  But as I grew older, I resented that early bedtime with a vengeance that foreshadowed what a teenage pain I would turn out to be.  Skilled generals on the battlefield of Parenthood, my parents struck a compromise with me: I had to go to bed at 7pm, but I could stay up as long as I wished in my room, as long as I was reading.

As a result, I think it is fair to say that I am widely read, that a life without books is unthinkable to me, that if I have no one to chat with and no internet connection, I will read the back of the cereal box at breakfast.  Recently, United stranded me at some-airport-or-another, and so I picked up a new book to read: My Old True Love, by Sheila Kay Adams.

The cover of the book is what caught my eye, as it reminded me of my childhood spent in the shadow of the Blue Ridge mountains, and of the years I spent in law school, living down in a hollow in that tumbled green space, streaked with coal, where Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky all clasp hands.

The contents of the book caught me by the heart – it is presented as the story of one family’s hardscrabble existence in the Appalachians – and of course, of thwarted love – during the War Between the States (that’s the Civil War to you Yankees), but it is not a typical novel about this time period – you won’t find a hoopskirt or noble cause in its lyrical pages.  Rather, Ms. Adams, like so many talented Southern writers before her, sticks firmly to a tale grounded on that all important sense of place – but not the rolling cotton fields, leading to the graceful plantation house.  Rather, she writes of the mountains, and their stores of rhododendrons, spring snows, and lions.  The hills of Appalachia are ever present, an unnamed protagonist in this book, and without them, the mountain dialect and personas of Ms. Adams’ characters might fall flat, or be incomprehensible to Appalachia-outsiders.  But woven together by Ms. Adams, this mountain yarn resonates with veracity, and beauty.

Another quality that puts My Old True Love in a category of its own is the author’s use of music in the novel – apparently, Ms.Adams is a celebrated performer on the clawhammer banjo, and has recorded several albums of what I grew up calling “mountain music.”  Ms. Adams’ familiarity with the cadences of Appalachian folk music create a back rhythm to the storyline that is always authentic, adding to her tale but never distracting from it.  She includes the lyrics of several ancient ballads that tell the age-old stories of heartbreak, betrayal, and love – these words were already time worn in the 1860s, but they still ring true today.

My Old True Love is beautifully written, and a little different.  If you’re looking for a new read, this might be the ticket.

I’m always looking for a new read – what do y’all recommend?

2011.  Glacier County Honey  Co.  All Rights Reserved.

after so many decades we know it so well

they don’t even need to transmit anymore

the constant message already inside us

you have to be perfect yet every year

ends although certain people are forever gone

this time of year is always the best

whole days by your hands collected

sweet baked apples placed on a tray

the end of the night now it is early

you are awake suddenly it is December

here come the days many people dread

like white sentinels coming to arrest us

for a better holiday here is the secret

put some bacon in the stock and don’t tell

grandma or Jeremy the pale

silently didactic vegan boyfriend

keep the wine away from the uncles

who with every glass become more conservative

until their hearts are very organized

everyone should have been an only child

maybe the one who would have soothed

barely the edges is gone so imagine

someone just closed the blinds in the rom

the one you grew up in so you could sleep

far into the morning

-Matthrew Zapruder, featured in Real Simple Magazine, December 2010

December at Hillhouse.

2010.  Glacier County Honey Co. All Rights Reserved.

Bucky Dawg and I spent many nights together this winter, curled up in front of the crackling wood stove, thinking about Glacier County Honey Company, our identity, our brand, and our future goals.  After some time, I decided to register “you’ve never tasted honey this good” with the State, and I went around conducting informal polls and tastings to back up my claim, as did dear friends of mine like Layla Jane and Ray Ray.  On Twitter and Facebook, I chatted Glacier County Honey up, and I became friendly with Flathead Living Magazine, a lovely quarterly publication out of, you guessed it, the Flathead Valley, Montana.

I sent them a box of honey with a note that said, “tell us this isn’t the best honey you never tasted!”  And so they did their own testing, decided it was, and gave us a little bit of press in their Summer Edition!  Here’s the photo they ran, that they kindly sent to us:

To see what else Flathead Living Magazine had to say about Glacier County Honey, pick up the Summer 2010 edition and turn to page 78!

2010.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

A quick laugh for y’all out there on the internets … or maybe a quicker cringe?  Check out the cover of this Harlequin Temptation book:

Pseudo Sister shared this with me, and it’s too good not to share with y’all.  Under what circumstances do you think is it appropriate for a shirtless cowboy with his pants unbuttoned to stare longingly at a baby?  Let’s hear your possible scenarios and captions …

2010.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

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.

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.

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