Beech-Nut Factory

Over the summer I read an awesome travelogue about a writer, Dana Spiotta, and her friend who canoed a portion of the Erie Canal in order to experience the waterside view and feel of the towns and landscape along the waterway.  Okay, maybe it wasn't a travelogue in the true sense, but this article for the New York Times Magazine sucked me in.  The small towns dotting the Erie Canal are long past their prime.  Commuters and truckers on I-90 race past these long forgotten towns day and night, without much thought.  One of the landmarks that struck me in her article was the recently abandoned Beech-Nut factory in Canajoharie, NY.  I sought out the Erie Canal on a recent trip back east and found myself drawn to this old factory.  I passed it several times during my travels at various times of the day.  Always beautiful, not a soul around, and the distinct hum of I-90 in the background.


I always thought I knew what I needed to know about bees. Bees are cool.  Bees make honey.  Bees sting.  Keep your distance from bees.  The bees seemed cool with this arrangement as I mostly left them alone to do their thing. Then I was in Northern CA a few weeks back and spent some time learning about bees.  I saw the film Queen of the Sun | What are the Bees Telling Us? about the plight of the honeybee. A must see film for anyone concerned with the state of agribusiness in our country and the world.  I then had the pleasure of meeting and photographing two wonderful beekeepers.  The first, one of the film’s featured beekeepers, was Guther Hauk.  Gunther is a gentle soul with an amazing knowledge of bees and beekeeping.  He is an advocate for sustainable beekeeping, having “retired” to The Spikenard Honeybee Sanctuary in rural Virginia.   The second was Barbara Schlumberger.  She, along with Priscilla Coe and Michael Thiele founded The Melissa Garden at Barbara’s ranch in Sonoma County.  She too is a sustainable beekeeper and bee advocate.  Barbara was nice enough to give me a tour of the garden and introduce me to their bees.  It was an incredible experience.

So I have a newfound respect and love of bees.  And the bees and I have a new understanding.   I will not steal their honey or fear them and they will not sting me.  It’s worked out well so far.

Here are 10 fun facts about bees.

1. Honey bees have four wings, six legs, two compound eyes made of up many, many tiny lenses and three simple eyes on the top of the head that are light sensors.

2. Honeybees perform a waggle dance to communicate the location and the directions to distant food sources that are 100 yards to 2-3 miles from the hive.

3. In one trip honeybees visit 100-1500 blossoms to fill their honey crop, an organ separate from their digestive stomach that is used to transport nectar.

4. Forager bees, steadfast and committed to their task, make up to 30 trips a day. Using their long, straw-like proboscis they collect nectar from the wild flowers and herbs of meadows. As Johannes Wirz says in QUEEN OF THE SUN, “Bees are the golden thread from flower to flower, keeping the world in bloom.”

5. The honey bee’s wings beat at incredible speeds! About 200 beats per second, creating the their un-missable “buzz”. A bee can fly up to 15 miles per hour and can fly a total of up to six miles.

6. Bees were not only one of the first sources for sweetness, but also for light! Beeswax candles were used by humans to provide long-lasting light in the darkness. Secreted from glands of the bee’s abdomen, beeswax is used by the honeybee to build the honey comb in the beehive.

7. In their entire lifespan, a worker bee only produces 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of honey.

8. The beehive is a “super organism”. All of the bees work together as a single entity. A lone bee cannot live on it’s own outside of the hive for even 24 hours.

9. In winter bees live on stored honey and pollen and cluster into a ball to conserve warmth. Their “body” temperature in the hive is close to human body temperature, 95-97 degrees, regardless of the temperature outside of the hive.

10. Some big numbers to think about! In producing just one pound of honey, bees from the hive visit approximately one million flowers. The entire hive of bees will fly 90,000 miles. This is  equivalent to one and a half orbits around the earth just to collect one pound of glistening honey.

The Women of Azucar

I've been in many kitchens over the years.  Big ones, small places, 5 star establishments and greasy spoon joints. First as a server and now as a photographer.  For me, there's nothing like the energy of a kitchen abuzz with activity.  There's something magical about a team with a common goal.  Working together to produce something that we all crave, yet many of us take for granted.  Food and eating.  I've posted previously about Azucar.   I focused on the process and the ingredients they use to produce these wonderful desserts.  But there is a special core of people, women actually, that bring these sweets to life.  Azucar is a small kitchen, to say the least.   It also has the greatest vibe I've been around in quite some time.  And it is because of the women that work there.  The energy would be totally different if there was a male in the mix.  We tend to alter the balance of things.   The 3 women that work in these tight quarters are Elodie, Jolene, and owner / chef Vivian.  They love what they do and that feeling radiates from the kitchen.  Not only in their laughter and banter but in the incredible confections they create. Below are a couple of portraits of the women of Azucar...


Jolene - who has since moved on to open here own place. I can't wait to see what see has in store for us...!

Vivian - Owner | Chef

The Point Loma Pointers Cooperstown Dream Team

AJ Favorite Baseball Team - San Diego Padres Favorite Baseball Player - Josh Hamilton Favorite Position - 2nd / 3rd Base Favorite activity outside Baseball - Playing outside Best Cooperstown Trip Memory - "Going to the big house, walking around Cooperstown and the games!"

Mitch Favorite Baseball Team - San Diego Padres Favorite Baseball Player - David Wells Favorite Position - Shortstop & 2nd Base Favorite activity outside Baseball - Swimming with his buddies at San Diego Bay Best Cooperstown Trip Memory - "the hurricane (Irene) and swimming in the backyard of the parents cabin"

Townsend Favorite Baseball Team - Boston Red Sox Favorite Baseball Player - Adrian Gonzalez Favorite Position - Shortstop Favorite activity outside Baseball - Soccer Best Cooperstown Trip Memory - "Watching the Home Run Derby with my team"

Frank Favorite Baseball Team - Colorado Rockies Favorite Baseball Player - Robinson Cano Favorite Position - Center Field Favorite activity outside Baseball - Ping Pong Best Cooperstown Trip Memory - "hitting a home run"

Joe Favorite Baseball Team - San Diego Longhorns Favorite Baseball Player - Albert Pujols Favorite Position - Pitcher Favorite activity outside Baseball - Snowboarding Best Cooperstown Trip Memory - "the Slumber Parties"

Seth Favorite Baseball Team - Tampa Bay Rays Favorite Baseball Player - Adrian Gonzales Favorite Position - Pitcher Favorite activity outside Baseball - Basketball Best Cooperstown Trip Memory - "Hitting 2 home runs"

Mitchell Favorite Baseball Team - Boston Red Sox Favorite Baseball Player - Ozzie "The Wizard" Smith Favorite Position - Shortstop Favorite activity outside Baseball - Basketball Best Cooperstown Trip Memory - "hitting a home run"

Dan Favorite Baseball Team -  Washington Nationals Favorite Baseball Player - Joe Mauer Favorite Position - Pitcher Favorite activity outside Baseball - Air Soft Best Cooperstown Trip Memory - "Hanging out in the Dorms"

David Favorite Baseball Team - Atlanta Braves Favorite Baseball Player - Craig Kimbrel Favorite Position - Pitcher Favorite activity outside Baseball - Basketball Best Cooperstown Trip Memory - "getting $10 for hitting the ball to the opposite field from Coach Don"

Brady Favorite Baseball Team -  San Diego Padres Favorite Baseball Player - Mat Latos Favorite Position - Pitcher / 3rd Base Favorite activity outside Baseball - Watching Baseball on TV Best Cooperstown Trip Memory - "When I hit both my Home Runs"

Evan Favorite Baseball Team - San Diego Padres Favorite Baseball Player -  Adrian Gonzalez Favorite Position - First Base Favorite activity outside Baseball -  XBox Best Cooperstown Trip Memory - "at night in the barracks"

Jr Lifeguards - Cal State Games

The Cal State Games for the various Jr Lifeguard programs in Southern California were held yesterday at Coronado State Beach.  Boys and girls aged 9-17 competed in a variety of events including distance runs, distance swims, relays, water rescues and beach flags.  It was great to see so many young people compete and have fun in positive atmosphere at one of San Diego's many natural resources.  And it was a beautiful day to play hooky from the real world...

Knife Studies

Long ago I used to work in restaurants.  While I always worked front of the house, I've always found the back of the house process captivating.   So any chance I have to get into a commercial kitchen I jump at the chance.  In this instance, I found out a new friend was a baker.  So I've shot a couple of times this month at Azucar, a Cuban Patisserie in Ocean Beach.  Here are a couple of preliminary still lifes...