It’s Summers Time

CA in January, And Good-bye to a Dear Friend
By: Kathy Summers

We spent most of a week in southern California attending the two big meetings in January. The first part of the week was spent in Manhattan Beach at the American Honey Producer’s Association meeting and then over to Anaheim to the Disneyland Hotel for the American Beekeeping Federation conference.

This was one of those rare occasions for Kim and I in that we had no responsibilities – no talks to give, no books to sell – so we actually got to sit in on some of the talks. The two locations were only about 30 miles apart, so several of the speakers jumped back and forth giving talks. Of course, even 30 miles in Los Angeles traffic can be a challenge. We chose not to tackle that obstacle and hitched a ride from one to the other.

It’s always good to get to these meetings and see folks you haven’t seen for awhile. And we get to see things that usually doesn’t show up at the smaller meetings. Cowen was there with all of their big (very big) equipment. They took up one entire hallway – very impressive. And A&O/Hummerbee with their forklifts inside and outside in the parking lot, also very impressive.

I have to tell you though, as impressive as both meetings were, the weather was a big plus for us from Northeast Ohio. It was about 75 and sunny most of the time we were there. The same week at home in Ohio they saw single digit highs and minus numbers at night. It was a good week to be away from home. This week is a little better – 34 today, back down to 19 tomorrow for the highs.

The Disneyland Hotel is a “Magical” place. If you don’t believe it just ask anyone who works there. They always leave you with “have a magical day” – whether it’s one of the several restaurants or gift shops or any of the places that make up the adjoining Downtown Disney which is blocks of shops, restaurants, ice skating, movie theatres and more. The headboards in the hotel rooms are carved to look like Disneyland and they actually light up and play a short Disney tune when you flip a switch. One thing that caught my attention is the music. There are four separate towers that make up the Disneyland Hotel, so you’re outside a fair amount of time getting from your hotel room to the meeting rooms to the restaurants – and there is music that follows you everywhere. It never stops as you walk along whatever path you take. It’s loud enough that you notice it, but not loud enough to be offensive – and it never stops. Disney has an incredible sound system. I haven’t been to Disneyland or Disney World since my boys were in their mid teens, but I remember there seemed to be music everywhere we went.

And the landscaping and topiary are beautiful. Bird of Paradise in full bloom, roses, geraniums, bananas, all beautifully landscaped. And of course – Goofy, Minnie and the chipmunks were also out and about.

One thing that made the trip extra special was a visit with my brother. He lives in Oceanside and he and his wife drove over on Thursday night so we could all have dinner together.

We had a good time, sat in on good talks, visited with the vendors and ran into several old friends that we hadn’t seen for awhile. All in all it was a pretty good week.

On a sad note I lost a very good friend a couple of days after Christmas. Lori had been fighting cancer for more than two years and she finally got tired of fighting. She was only 52. Lori was very special to me. We’d been friends for over 30 years. I’d known her before I had my children. So my boys had known her their entire life. She was one of the very few people I trusted to watch them when they were little.

Long ago when I first worked at the Root Company in 1984 Lori was here. We just seemed to click and became fast friends. I left the Root Company in 1985 and had my two children, but Lori always kept me in the loop of what was going on here. I watched her son before and after school so I got to see her just about everyday. She’s the one that got me to come back to work when Bee Culture and Kim were looking for someone to enter copy on a book project. So I guess you could say Lori is the reason Kim and I are together today. So she was special to both of us.

Lori had a lot of bumps along the way in her life journey, but she was always smiling and trying to make the rest of us feel better about things. After leaving the Root Company she raised a bunch of adopted children that all had issues. She dealt with things that most of can’t even imagine. She was an amazing person and we don’t understand why she had to leave us so soon and why she had to fight so hard. But while she was here she was a wonderful example to many of us who knew her. You couldn’t be sad around her. Just a week before she died a friend and I got to chat with her for about an hour about old times when we were all much younger. Even then she made us laugh.

At different times over the last two years sometimes Lori was unable to speak because of sores in her mouth. This was especially true over the last months. However, due to modern technology we were able to communicate through texting. There were weeks we texted almost everyday, sometimes having some pretty lengthy conversations. I never dreamed I’d be so thankful for something that sometimes seems so trivial.

I will always be thankful that she was my friend. And I miss her terribly. But now she is happy and pain free. And I know I will see her again some day.