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Archive for the ‘Ah, Show Me Everything!’ Category

FYI:  We’ll be at the Paranormal Expo at Fort William Henry in Lake George on July 2 and 3, 2011.  Come and meet us!  There are lots of novelty scents specially made for this event to check out.  We’ll also have some of our newest summer scents.  So, look for the Country Wickhouse Candles table!

Chances are that at least once in our lives, as children, teenagers, or adults, many of us have been involved in some kind of magical or paranormal experience.  And guess what?  Chances are just as high that a candle played a role in one way or another—in the room, on the table or floor, in the clearing or basement.  I’d bet a dollar there was a candle somewhere in the vicinity (if you were doing it right, that is).  Whether it be a pair of high school students in front of the mirror in the upstairs bathroom with the lights out and a candle burning, trying to summon Bloody Mary, or a dozen grown men and women in Madame Zustra’s den trying to call forth the spirits of dead relatives in the throes of a séance, candles are necessary for paranormal activity.  Why?  Believe me, I’m no expert, but as our candle shop grows and we come into contact with many different types of people and personalities, I continue to learn how relevant and ingrained the human connection to candles is, both historically and presently.  There are seriously a million uses for these things!  And we’re not just talking about having a resource to help light our world when the power goes out and leaves us in the dark.  No, candles provide much more meaning to our existence than many of us even know.  

The use of candles in magical ritual or paranormal play, no matter how dangerous, dates back farther than anyone cares to remember.  It seems only logical that candles were initially used in the absence of electricity and the light bulb, but as time moved forward, people continued to use candles despite the technological advances of the day.  You see, candles offer a certain degree of simplicity and warmth that you can’t get by using your iPod to light up a séance table.  Moreover, the candle’s inherent connection to the earth and her elements is universal and timeless.  Besides, candles are just so much spookier than flashlights and laser beams.  

Candle magic is becoming more and more popular as ghost hunting and the fascination with all things paranormal skyrockets.  (Even I’m obsessed with SyFy’s Ghost Hunters!)  The truth is, candles enhance the overall effect of any paranormal activity, primarily because the flame serves as a point of focus or meditation, whereas the actual color of the wax has meaning and can stimulate certain areas of the subconscious mind.  The same applies to scent, which we already know has the power to affect moods, recall memories, and put us in touch with the most ancient part of the brain (see “Man, That Smells…Good!” below).  It is also believed that by adding certain crushed herbs to candles, one might invoke specific feelings or powers.  For more information on the significance of colors and scents in candle magic or other paranormal ventures (like séances, 100 candles, and the like) do what I did:  Look it up on the Internet.  You wouldn’t believe how much knowledge related to this stuff is out there!  

From a purely commercial point of view, we experience our best soy candle sales during the Halloween season and then again in early summer.  Tapping into my extensive knowledge of mythology and ancient religions, I know why this is and am thankful for things like solstices and pagan holidays, especially as a candle maker.  And we take great pains to offer the colors and scents that might be of use to many practitioners of magic or seekers of the paranormal, as well as to regular customers who just want to experience a great scent.  

(Note:  Soy candles, all-natural to the core, seem to be better “spirit batteries” than paraffin candles.  We’re just sayin’…in case you were wondering.)

And by the way, all of our candles are blessed for protection…Call it a mark of the double lives we at the little candle shop known as Country Wickhouse Candles live.  After all, we want to reach everyone, dead or alive!

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For many of us, this weather map is a reminder that we’re still well within the throes of winter. In case you haven’t heard, up here in Northern New York, we’re due for a doosey. Some of you may have already gotten, or are just getting the snow. Either way, the National Weather Service promises us that this latest winter storm will amount to something like a “2100 mile swath of one-foot snow potential” from Oklahoma City to Portland, Maine. Great…more snow. It’s being considered, as The Weather Channel so eloquently puts it, “a multi-day, multi-region potentially historic and destructive winter storm,” that just might affect the lives of one-third of the population of the United States, or about 100 million people.

You know, it’s about this time of year that most of us are wishing again for the pleasantness of spring flowers or the comfort of summer sunsets. But since, as I must continue to remind myself, it’s only February, we all can make the best of it. Why not drop by Country Wickhouse Candles and take a look at our winter scents? Out autumn scents are still up, too, because fall fragrances are popular even throughout winter. We have to move these candles out in order to clear our shelves for the new spring scents that we’ll be posting at our store come April 1. And we’d really like to move something other than snow for awhile.

So, go ahead and take a good, long look at that weather map again, then imagine yourself snuggled up in the living room, bedroom, or den by a warm fire or near the heater, sipping a mug of cocoa and watching the snow fall down the windowpanes. And what’s that burning softly on the coffee table, on the mantle or hearth? Well, now, it looks to me like an all-natural soy candle from Country Wickhouse Candles. Pretty good image, don’t you think? Ordering is easy and secure; just use this LINK, purchase what you want, and let us do the rest. Piece of cake. And never worry…cabin fever has made us even more efficient in getting our orders out.

Hope you stop by because we’ve got a bunch of reasons to make you smile. And, hey, this winter will end, eventually…

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We debated whether we should post the newly released photograph of Jared Lee Loughner, the alleged gunman who killed six and injured 14 in Tucson, Arizona on Saturday.  Initially, we posted it, but have since removed the mug shot.  You can view the disturbing image here, and come to your own conclusions.  We’ve never been ones for controversy, or confrontation for that matter, and we certainly do not want our blog to become a political forum, but that face haunts us.  That face has become a mask of hate, a symbol of how far political rhetoric can push a single individual to lethally attack defenseless people because he believes, and has been made to believe, that our government aims to strip him of his civil rights.  That face is contrary to the ideals and principles that we hold dear.

Loughner’s apparent mental illness, no doubt, exacerbated his paranoia, but the seeds of hate had already been sown in him by the popular media and careless political leaders.  At 22 years of age, he had not only the time to let it all sink in, but also the capacity to make some sort of sense of it.  There will be those who will argue that Loughner was not, or is not, mentally capable of making the distinction between rhetoric and action, that he is incapable of interpreting what he hears and instead lives in a literal world.  But what is he or any other impressionable young person supposed to understand when they hear one of the most visible female politicians of our era instruct her followers not to retreat, but to reload?  Somewhere along the line, the idea took hold that our basic civil liberties are on the verge of disappearing into the mouth of some massive government machine, and we continue to be cursed by its negative innuendo and less subtle calls to “second amendment” modes of action.

Some claim that the negative, paranoia-inducing rhetoric is coming from the far right.  Perhaps it spawned there, but now, unfortunately, it’s everywhere.  Hate groups have formed that don’t know the difference between the left and right, politically or directionally.  They only want to hate and will latch onto any idea that helps them to do so.  It’s a horrifying notion to think that the claims hate groups and other radicals live by are coming from political leaders and multi-billionaire newscasters.  When one says, “This president…has a deep-seated hatred for white people,” the other counters with, “…all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson.”  Where is the accountability, and how do these people sleep at night?  Limbaugh tells us, “We need segregated buses…This is Obama’s America,” and Glenn Beck, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, claimed that, “the only [victims] we’re seeing on television are the scumbags.”  And we need not forget the memorable words of a past vice presidential candidate and former Alaska governor, when she announced with glee, “Don’t retreat, reload.” 

But if we take a good, long look at Loughner’s face again, we finally come to terms with the fact that that face, like negative political rhetoric, doesn’t advance the American Dream, it destroys it.  That face doesn’t protect our civil rights, it threatens them.  That face doesn’t save lives, it ends them.  The proof?

  • Christina Taylor Green, 9, third-grader, student council member, deceased;
  • Gabe Zimmerman, 30, community outreach director, deceased;
  • John Roll, 63, US District Judge, deceased;
  • Dorothy Morris, 76, neighbor, secretary, deceased;
  • Dorwin Stoddard, 76, husband, savior, deceased;
  • Phyllis Schneck, 79, mother, grandmother, deceased;
  • And the 14 other victims lucky enough to have survived Loughner’s senseless rampage, and whose lives have been scarred forever. 

Jared Lee Loughner now sits in an Arizona jail wanting us to believe that he is a victim, that our government is manipulating us, while US Representative Gabrielle Giffords, shot through the head at point-blank range, lies in a Tucson hospital bed learning how to scratch her nose again.  Look at Loughner’s face, then look at what we, as Americans, are allowing ourselves to become.  “Don’t retreat, reload.”  Seriously?  The rhetoric is misguided, dangerous, idiotic, and contagious. 

Sometimes it is very difficult to make someone smile.  But we’ll keep trying.  Like Fitzgerald wrote in The Great Gatsby, “To-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…And one fine morning—”

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What’s all of our holiday cheer worth, anyway?  How many dollar signs can we really hang on the season of gifts and giving? 

We were just chatting the other day at Country Wickhouse Candles about how commercial the holiday season has grown over the past decade.  Of course, this is an age-old dilemma and discussion; I remember my own parents complaining about how much things cost when I was a child.  But whether you embrace Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, or some other special holiday, there’s no doubt that sometimes all of us get caught up in the material world.  So, we went looking for a holiday message that might bring us back to the true meaning of this time of year, no matter what our religious or secular beliefs may be.  We hope that you enjoy Robert Frost’s classic poem, “Christmas Trees,” included below, and that you can share this message of friendship and meaning with your loved ones.  We’ve lit a candle for you here at the Wickhouse, and we want you to do the same in honor of all the good things in your life.

Happy Holidays from all of us at Country Wickhouse Candles!

 

Christmas Trees

Robert Frost
(1920)

 

THE CITY had withdrawn into itself
And left at last the country to the country;
When between whirls of snow not come to lie
And whirls of foliage not yet laid, there drove
A stranger to our yard, who looked the city,
Yet did in country fashion in that there
He sat and waited till he drew us out
A-buttoning coats to ask him who he was.
He proved to be the city come again
To look for something it had left behind
And could not do without and keep its Christmas.
He asked if I would sell my Christmas trees;
My woods—the young fir balsams like a place
Where houses all are churches and have spires.
I hadn’t thought of them as Christmas Trees.
I doubt if I was tempted for a moment
To sell them off their feet to go in cars
And leave the slope behind the house all bare,
Where the sun shines now no warmer than the moon.
I’d hate to have them know it if I was.
Yet more I’d hate to hold my trees except
As others hold theirs or refuse for them,
Beyond the time of profitable growth,
The trial by market everything must come to.
I dallied so much with the thought of selling.
Then whether from mistaken courtesy
And fear of seeming short of speech, or whether
From hope of hearing good of what was mine,
I said, “There aren’t enough to be worth while.”
“I could soon tell how many they would cut,
You let me look them over.”

“You could look.
But don’t expect I’m going to let you have them.”
Pasture they spring in, some in clumps too close
That lop each other of boughs, but not a few
Quite solitary and having equal boughs
All round and round. The latter he nodded “Yes” to,
Or paused to say beneath some lovelier one,
With a buyer’s moderation, “That would do.”
I thought so too, but wasn’t there to say so.
We climbed the pasture on the south, crossed over,
And came down on the north.
He said, “A thousand.”

“A thousand Christmas trees!—at what apiece?”

He felt some need of softening that to me:
“A thousand trees would come to thirty dollars.”

Then I was certain I had never meant
To let him have them. Never show surprise!
But thirty dollars seemed so small beside
The extent of pasture I should strip, three cents
(For that was all they figured out apiece),
Three cents so small beside the dollar friends
I should be writing to within the hour
Would pay in cities for good trees like those,
Regular vestry-trees whole Sunday Schools
Could hang enough on to pick off enough.
A thousand Christmas trees I didn’t know I had!
Worth three cents more to give away than sell,
As may be shown by a simple calculation.
Too bad I couldn’t lay one in a letter.
I can’t help wishing I could send you one,
In wishing you herewith a Merry Christmas.

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Country Wickhouse Candles wishes you and yours the very best this holiday season!  We spend the year interacting with some of the most creative, interesting, and supportive customers there are, many of whom are just discovering the joys and advantages of soy candles.  So, in honor of our customers and people all around the world, we’d just like to take this chance to tell you how much we appreciate all of you, and to express glad tidings for the new year. 

We’d also like to pause a moment to remind you of the benefits of burning soy candles, just in case you’re thinking about taking advantage of the great gifts soy candle products make…

  • For starters, soy wax is safe and biodegradable.  It’s made from pure, 100% natural botanical oils with a soybean base.
  • Environmentally friendly, soy candles promote the growth and care of the environment by using plants, a renewable resource.  So remember, when you’re enjoying soy candles, you’re supporting America’s farmers!
  • Soy candles burn at least 50% longer than candles made from paraffin wax, and produce about 90% less soot than paraffin candles. Soy wax is a favorite of environmentally conscious people because it’s not made from petroleum, like paraffin candles, thus there is virtually no soot or smoke generated through the use of soy candles. The incorporation of soybean oil lowers the melting point of the candle, which translates into cooler burning candles and faster scent dispersion throughout an entire room or area.
  • Unlike paraffin wax, soy wax can be removed from furniture, carpets, clothing, and other surfaces simply by using hot soapy water.  
  • And don’t forget, soy wax is also a great natural skin moisturizer!  Rub what’s left of your soy candle wax into dry skin and cuticles. 

If you’re thinking about giving the gift of soy this holiday season, Country Wickhouse Candles has just posted their WINTER scents online.  Below are some quick descriptions of each scent to help you choose from all of our wonderful scents!

  • Bayberry – Bayberry is a signature favorite for the holidays.  Enjoy this woodsy scent infused with sweet berry notes.
  • Christmas Tree – Christmas morning comes to life all throughout the holidays and winter with this delightful pine aroma.  Spruce notes are combined with subtle wood tones to create this smooth yet strong scent.
  • Christmas Cookies – Made with sugar and vanilla, these tasty cookies are fresh from the oven.  You’ll want to enjoy warm, delicious sugar cookies after lighting this candle!
  • Cranberry Citrus – A blend of cranberries, red grapefruit, tangerine, orange, lemon, and lime, this delightfully classic mix is sure to wake up your senses this holiday season! 
  • Eggnog – Enjoy the classic aroma of this traditional rich and creamy holiday cup.  This fragrance is swirling with pleasant scents of sugar, milk, cream, and light rum. 
  • Gingerbread – Our gingerbread candles combine warm vanilla and spice notes to recreate the pleasant scent of homemade gingerbread cookies.
  • Sugar Plums & Berries – Lose yourself in this dreamy combination of plum, raspberry, pear, and clove scents!
  • Spiced Pear – Spice up your holidays or any day with the aroma of juicy pears, brown sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, and a touch of cinnamon.
  • Under the Mistletoe – Who’s that kissing underneath the mistletoe?  Sweet berries and green apples come together with the festive scent of Siberian pine needles.  Enjoy subtle notes of fir needle, cedarwood, fir balsam, and tree moss, too!
  • Winter Wonderland – Surround yourself with the peacefulness of fresh snow, festive lights, and cozy winter spices!  Indulge in warm notes of cinnamon, clove, vanilla musk, and mulberry with hints of fir balsam, pine, and cedar.

And don’t forget our entire line of AUTUMN scents, the list of which is still available on our website.  These scents include Candy Corn, Caramel Apple, Country Cider, Fireside, Football Field, Happy Harvest, Hot Cocoa, Nutty Banana Bread, Pumpkin Latte, and Pumpkin Pie.  For complete scent details, check out the website at Country Wickhouse Candles.  And, of course, all our COUNTRY scents are available throughout the year on the website as well, so take your pick!

Once again, Happy Holidays from Country Wickhouse Candles!  May all your days be filled with happiness and blessings!

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Every now and then, we get questions at Country Wickhouse Candles about our “production model,” or the process by which our candles are made.  I’d invite anyone interested in watching our manufacturing process to drop by our megalithic, six-story, 90,000-square-foot factory, but we don’t have one.  True, we are remodeling a studio apartment space above our garage so we can move our operation out of the kitchen and into its own space, but you won’t find a Country Wickhouse factory or plant anywhere in the world.

So what does this mean?  It means exactly what our website claims about Country Wickhouse Candles:  Handmade, hand-poured, all-natural soy candles.  Every candle you order from us has been handled multiple times by an actual human being.  And we can do even better than that—your candle order has been handled by only two people, me or my wife.  Wax is melted, scent is pitched, and dye is added all on the white Whirlpool electric range in our kitchen.  Tins and molds are filled and wicks are pinned on the counter next to the double-basin kitchen sink.  Wax is set and released with the aid of the freezer in our Kenmore side-by-side refrigerator.  All very technical and impersonal, right?  Unfortunately, machines and robots can’t make a handmade, hand-poured, all-natural soy candle intended to leave our country kitchen and live in the warmth of your home, no matter what the container looks like.  We don’t care what Yankee, Party Lite, or Scentsy want you to believe.  It’s impossible to mass produce personality.

In the end, one thing is resoundingly true:  Every Country Wickhouse candle, from the label, to the packaging, to the soy product, is carefully, thoughtfully, and personally created, not in a “production model,” but in our kitchen.

Keep smiling…We are! 

P.S.  We’ll post pictures of our new “factory” for our grand opening.  Our 90,000-square-foot plans had to be cut down to 680 square feet due to budget concerns!

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Interesting and fun facts about candles aren’t exactly the subject of Trivial Pursuit or the evening news, but there are some very intriguing pieces of knowledge associated with the commodity nonetheless.  Seriously.  Just the other day, I was browsing the National Candle Association (NCA) website (yes, there really is such a thing, and at Country Wickhouse Candles, it’s kind of our job to keep abreast of industry news) and I happened across a page full of facts and figures related to candles and the candle industry.  You wouldn’t believe, for instance, how much candles are intertwined with our very existence.  I know, that sounds extreme, but it’s true.  You can check it out for yourself on the very page I read, or you can read on.  For your convenience, which is most important to us, I’ve listed some of these facts below, taken directly from the NCA website (this statement and its corresponding link reflect my best attempt at a citation via a blog article).  Truly, you’ll be amazed.

Did you know…?

  • Candles are used in 7 out of 10 U.S. households.
  • Manufacturer surveys show that 90% of all candles are purchased by women.
  • Candle industry research indicates that the most important factors affecting candle sales are scent, color, cost, and shape.
  • Candles are principally sold in three types of retail outlets:  Specialty or gift shops; department and home décor stores; mass merchandisers (discount stores, drug store chains, grocery stores, etc.).
  • Approximately 35% of candle sales occur during the Christmas/Holiday season. Non-seasonal business accounts for approximately 65% of candle sales.
  • More than 1 billion pounds of wax are used in producing the candles sold each year in the U.S.
  • Consumers are increasingly purchasing candles as a focal point for their home décor, and for aromatherapy-like relaxation and stress reduction.
  • Fragrance is by far the most important characteristic impacting candle purchases today, with three-fourths of candle buyers saying it is “extremely important” or “very important” in their selection of a candle.
  • The majority of U.S. consumers use their candles within a week of purchase.
  • Nine out of ten candle users say they use candles to make a room feel comfortable or cozy.
  • Candle users say they most frequently burn candles in the living room (42%), followed by the kitchen (18%), and the bedroom (13%).
  • Approximately one in five women says they use candles to decorate the yard, patio, or other exterior areas, as well as the interior of their home.
  • Both men and women consider candles to be an always-acceptable and highly appreciated gift for a wide variety of occasions.
  • Candle purchasers say they view candles as an appropriate gift for the holidays (76%), as a house warming gift (74%), a hostess/dinner party gift (66%), a thank you (61%), and as adult birthday gifts (58%).

Interesting, huh?  Just when you thought you knew a lot about candles…If these facts and figures have piqued your interest or inspired your warmer side, stop by our candle shop and take a look around.  You can find us on the web here (click the link). 

Thanks for reading!  We hope to see you browsing our soy candle products!

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At Country Wickhouse Candles, we’re always blogging about the environment, all-natural products, conservation, and recycling.  However, this isn’t an advertisement or a ploy to increase revenue while so many others suffer.  This is an appeal.  It’s true that many people have written about the Gulf oil disaster and that this catastrophe has headlined newscasts for the past month.  But we need to continue to blog about it, talk about it, report about it until we finally have the collective power to take back our environment and to make a genuine effort to preserve, once and for all, our earth.  We need to do this with the energy and commitment of our own will, now, and not wait for the fulfillment of promises via some government program or legislation that will take years to initiate and maintain.  Chris Matthews, on his MSNBC news show Hardball, noted that the Gulf oil crisis is a prime example of mankind’s power to destroy his own environment.  What a sad reality this certainly is.  

Where I live, in northern New York, people have for years waged war against the installation of windmills in our countrysides.  In light of tar balls on the pristine beaches of southern Florida and gobs of toxic oil in Louisiana’s sacred wetlands, this anti-windmill mentality seems insane.  How is it that off-shore drilling is a healthy, logical alternative to solar and wind power?  Why is it supposed to make sense that oil-covered animals, poisoned wetlands, and eleven men dying on a faulty oil rig are all merely “collateral damage” in an endeavor to feed a nation with an addiction that is killing us?  

As Louisiana fisherman struggle to feed their children and small businesses all along the Gulf Coast shut down and inevitably fold, as British Petroleum (BP) scientists and engineers attempt to stop the oil gushing out of the seabed only to fail again and again, as politicians make promises and speeches and presidents wag threatening fingers in the faces of those responsible, another pelican fights to free itself from a thick puddle of oil, unmindful of the fact that the eggs it laid only a day before have already died.  

So, yes, we preach about the environment as do thousands, perhaps millions of people everyday.  The question is, in the face of the worst “natural” disaster in the history of the United States:  What are we going to do about it?  Not just to stop and clean up the oil, but to make sure that it will never happen again?  Think about it.  This is OUR problem, not BP’s or President Obama’s.  This is our country, these are our loved ones, our wetlands, our beaches and birds and crawfish and shrimp.  This is America and it is ours.  Or is it?  We’d fight for our own livelihoods and families.  But will we fight for every family and every life in this nation?  We have to.  

Whether you’re reading this on day 57, 58, 59, 60, or whenever of the Gulf oil crisis, remember this:  More than 19,000 gallons of oil are spewing out of the seabed of the Gulf of Mexico every single day, and BP seems no closer to containing it today than they were on day 1.  The oil will stop, however…someday, either through the means of some humanly-engineered contraption, or because the well runs dry.  But the damage is already here, and it will still be here long after the oil stops and BP has packed up its operation and headed for Nigeria or some other country to drill somewhere else, leaving behind their corporate lawyers to fight the residents of the Gulf Coast who have been left with nothing.  Goliath fell, and so, too, can those responsible for destroying our environment.  But the fight starts with us.  Are you ready

Maybe we haven’t said or written enough here, in this blog, so leave your comments and let the world know what you think.

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Huh?  That’s the highly scientific name for the infamous June bug (namely the one that haunts the northeastern United States).  By the way, am I the only person in America who’s terrified of these monstrous insects?  The fact that they come out of the night like phantoms and thump against your body is disturbing enough, but when a hoard makes contact with the vinyl siding on my house, the stony snap of misguided projectiles with writhing little legs is downright nightmarish.  For the record, they’ve always scared me, and I don’t know why.  I remember as a kid scrambling through St. Peter’s baseball field down the street from my parents’ house in Ogdensburg, New York, screeching, “Is it on me?  Is it on me?  Get if off!  GET IT OFF!”  And, of course, by then it was no longer a quarter-sized, hard, brown-shelled creature in my adolescent mind, but a heavy, flesh-eating goblin sucking on my Trans-Am t-shirt (it was the ‘80s).  The only help I got from my friends was point-and-laugh intervention.  The memory still makes me sweat.  

Through education, “they” say, we learn not to fear…Well, not a chance; I still fear June bugs, and I’m even a teacher!  Oh, the irony…First of all, adult June bugs are about one and a quarter inches in length and make a loud buzzing sound, so you can hear them coming, though you can’t see them.  But even more unattractive is the sickening reality that their larvae are two inches long, are thick and white, and have dark heads.  These nasty things make cheesy SyFy “original” special effects look good.  At any rate, the larvae have legs, too―six of them―that are basically useless, so they flop onto their backs and wiggle around upside down.  (This is all true; I did the research.)  Talk about a freak show!  And if you’re looking to buy tickets, just check out your local compost pile sometime around late spring or early summer…right around JUNE!  

From childhood trauma comes a recipe for distress in adulthood.  But it’s just a bug, right?  In the end, the nightmare wins:  I begin to dread June in March, though I know full well that at my house, they always come in May!  

FREE STUFF CLAUSE:  June bugs give you the creeps?  Do you dislike them as much as I do?  Hey, maybe you really like the gross critters.  Either way, join my “June Bug Therapy Group.”  Visit our little soy candle shop at Country Wickhouse Candles, place an order, and enter the phrase JUNE BUG in the “instructions from buyer” box during checkout―or email us the phrase at countrywickhouse@gmail.com after you place your order―and I’ll refund 10% of your total charge.  That’s right, I’ll take 10% off your sale and give it back to you!  Just don’t tell my wife that I’m giving money away…

This offer expires on June 30th at midnight, the official end of the horrid June bug season!  But don’t worry, it’ll be back next June…

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Soy is a bean.  And like any good bean, it must be grown.  Hello!  But how does this bean become soy wax, you ask?  Well, here’s a crash course in soy wax production and its ultimate dependence on America’s wonderful farmers.

Soybeans are either crushed mechanically or solvents are used to extract soybean oil.  After some color modification (bleaching) and refining, the oil is hydrogenated to make it more solid.  Hydrogenation is nothing more than the process by which poly- and monounsaturated oils are solidified, thus increasing viscosity.  All that’s needed to do this (just in case you have it laying around the house and want to try making soybean wax) is hydrogen, heat (somewhere in the vicinity of 280 – 500° F), and a nickel catalyst.  A nickel what?  I don’t know either.  At any rate, the whole experiment makes saturated fats that can be used as soy wax.  The drawback?  Soy wax is super soft with a low melting point, so any creative soy candle maker usually works with a soy blend that contains not only soy wax, but also other natural botanical oils.  Incidentally, what’s left of the bean after the beginning stages of the process is recycled as cattle feed.

So, what’s this got to do with farmers?  Let me remind you that soy is a bean that must be grown by the millions, and hence soy candle makers and enthusiasts must depend on the commitment, hard work, and responsibility of our nation’s farmers.  These men and women, after all, are not in the business of deciding whether we make a votive or a tealight, but rather they plant and produce a renewable resource that is all-natural and environmentally friendly.  America’s soy farmers may not be erecting solar panels or windmills (though thousands of them have and will!), but they are contributing to the ecological well-being of our planet.  And to me, that makes them heroes.  Their product is renewable, so they’re not involved in the depletion of our natural resources.  Soybean husks are recycled as cattle feed, thus nourishing livestock while offering the world a commodity that is both waste-free and biodegradable.  And like many vegetable farmers, stalks and other “plant parts” are composted, which dramatically decreases the need to use chemical fertilizers.

Ultimately, American soy farmers pose virtually no threat to our environment, and instead produce a useful vegetable from a renewable resource whose primary use is dietary and not wax.  At Country Wickhouse Candles, we may make what we believe are the best soy wax candles on the market, but we owe much of our success to the farmers who complete the dirty work none of us is willing to do.  And this isn’t just the case with soy farmers.  Each and every one of us should count ourselves grateful for the dairy, cattle, and vegetable farmers of America.  As candle makers and general consumers as well, we honor and thank our farmers.  We’d literally be nothing without them.

But perhaps Thomas Alan Orr, in the poem “Soybeans” from his work, Hammers in the Fog, captured the soybean farmer the best.  In his poem, he illustrates not only the plight of the farmer, but also how underappreciated many of them are.  Farming is not easy, and in hard times (like the ones we’re still having) it is often a battle simply to survive.  I’ve included the text of the poem below.  I hope you read it.  Its message is powerful and memorable.  Oh, and the next time you’re taking a quiet drive through the country and you see some guy or gal in a tractor in a field, pull over and thank them.  They’re most likely American farmers.

The October air was warm and musky, blowing
Over brown fields, heavy with the fragrance
Of freshly combined beans, the breath of harvest.

He was pulling a truckload onto the scales
At the elevator near the rail siding north of town
When a big Cadillac drove up. A man stepped out,
Wearing a three-piece suit and a gold pinky ring.
The man said he had just invested a hundred grand
In soybeans and wanted to see what they looked like.

The farmer stared at the man and was quiet, reaching
For the tobacco in the rear pocket of his jeans,
Where he wore his only ring, a threadbare circle rubbed
By working cans of dip and long hours on the backside
Of a hundred acre run. He scooped up a handful
Of small white beans, the pearls of the prairie, saying:

Soybeans look like a foot of water on the field in April
When you’re ready to plant and can’t get in;
Like three kids at the kitchen table
Eating macaroni and cheese five nights in a row,
Or like a broken part on the combine when
Your credit with the implement dealer is nearly tapped.

Soybeans look like prayers bouncing off the ceiling
When prices on the Chicago grain market start to drop;
Or like your old man’s tears when you tell him
How much the land might bring for subdivisions.
Soybeans look like the first good night of sleep in weeks
When you unload at the elevator and the kids get Christmas.

He spat a little juice on the tire of the Cadillac,
Laughing despite himself and saying to the man:
Now maybe you can tell me what a hundred grand looks like.

—Thomas Alan Orr, “Soybeans,” Hammers in the Fog 

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