Saturday, September 19, 2020

Part II of Lavendar Sticks

As I mentioned in Part I of Lavendar Sticks, the new, "improved" platform that hosts my blog is not user friendly! Especially not for photos. After searching for how to move photos around and wrap text with its new design, I've come to the annoying conclusion (along with many others who are loud and clear online about their disasatisfaction with this change) that I cannot manipulate the photos for the time being. Therefore, this is really just a postscript to the prior blog called Lavendar Sticks. The captions (a built in component) don't stay with the photos, either, so I will narrate instead.Harvest lavendar with blossoms are dry. Then: 1.) wrap uneven number of lavender stems in cheesecloth and tie off with narrow ribbon (9-13 stems best).  2.) bend stems down as closely as possible to the tie-off.  3.) Start the weave: over one, under one, over, under, etc.  4.) Pull ribbon tightly as you go, and keep going until you can't weave any longer (the stems get too bunched to continue).  Wrap the stem with ribbon and tie with a loop (see Lavender Sticks Part I prior post.) As the sticks dry, you'll want to snug up the ribbon on the stems. 


Lavender sticks Part I

I have a wonderful source of beautiful and fragrant lavendar every year. My sister and her husband grow an abundant crop in their Seattle home's front yard and always invite me to harvest as much as I want.  For the past few years, I've dried the equivalent of a few cups of flowers, which I then stuff into little organza bags and bequeathe to friends and family at Christmastime. This year I created Lavender Sticks, also, something I haven't done for years. 

I learned to make them as a teenager when my dad gleefully pointed out an article in periodical that I think was called The Herb Growers' Magazine. He was a hobby gardner and loved herbs in general, but he was partial to the scent of lavender and wore Yardly aftershave, which had a predominantly lavender scent. He didn't do crafts himself, but could elicit sachet-making activity by announcing that his abundantly fragrant crop of lavendar in a given year was ready for harvesting. At least one of the three women who lived in his household would rise to the occasion. When I first saw the photo of lavender sticks in the magazine and realized making them meant weaving stems of fresh lavender through ribbons, the challenge was on! They were so satisifying to create and I loved making them, happily giving them to my mother to use as tuck-in gifts for her friends. (None of my friends wanted a lavender stick for Christmas!) 

Multiple years later, I made once or twice when my children were small and the lavendar plants were still thriving at my mother's home, but when she moved the source disappeared. And lavender doesn't winter well in Wisconsin, so after we moved there in 1972, there was no way to source the main ingredient. But even though I've been living back in Washington for the past thirty-four years, I have  made sachets only by bagging loose blossoms, no sticks . . . until this year

I'm not sure what triggered my decision in August, as I harvested an abundant crop at my sister's, to try making 'just one,' but I got carried away and made more than twenty-five! They have to be woven within hours of picking so that the stems are flexible enough to weave. And because the sticks always smell best when they are newly made (unlike traditional blossom sachets that can be squeezed for renewed fragrance), most of the twenty-five have already found homes. Only a few will be Christmas gifts this year. But weaving them was a satisfying activity (and a tad compulsive, too, as I tried to weave each one better than the last one), so I'm looking forward to another season of lavender sticks next year. God willing.

P.S.  Part II of the article carries more photos. The host of my website,, has made radical changes to the way its users create posts, siting 'new, easier' technology. Easier for someone, not doubt, but not for me. Seems that placing pictures with wrap-around text is impossible. It's not just that I'm a bit handicapped in terms of technology, either--I've been on help sites where I find lots of rants by other users of blogger with the same disappointed rsponse. I think my posts will probably be limited to one photo each from this point forward (until fixes something).  

Thursday, September 10, 2020

The Apple doesn't fall far . . .

Walking in a local park where an orchard was planted in the 1930s, I had to laugh. There are a few straggler trees remaining, and this time of year the apples drop to the ground. The apple in the photo didn't fall far from the tree--it was lodged in a little crevice in the tree-- so the picture becomes a graphic illustration of the cliche. And that made me think of something that happened a couple of weeks ago. I was at my local Farmers Market, masked up, wearing a hat, carrying several cloth bags loaded up with produce. From behind me a voice called out, "Sallie?" I turned to see a friendly looking woman hurrying toward me, her arms filled with two flats of blueberries. It took me a minute to recognize who was behind the mask, but I did--just as she identified herself as L. "I was pretty sure that was you. I recognized you by your walk." What a flood of memories that brought back. My mother was easy to recognize by her how she walked, and as soon as L. said that, the expression, 'The apple doesn't fall far from the tree,' jumped into my head. I remembered lying in my hospital bed after the birth of my first child more than fifty-six years ago (in the days when a new mom rested up from the ordeal of childbirth for a full three days before returning home) and listening to footsteps in the corridor. I heard my mother approaching from a long way away, recognizing her by the sound of the her footsteps, the same ones I heard every morning as a child. Because my bedroom was over the kitchen, I woke up every school day morning to hear her stepping to and from the fridge, the stove, the table, as she made the family's breakfast. CLICK, click, CLICK. click. She favored one foot more than the other, just I apparently do. 

And since we're on the topic opf like-mother-like-daughter, there's a request that seemed silly to me when she made it while in her early sixties: "When I'm old and feeble-minded," she said, "promise me you'll pluck my chin hairs when you come visit me in the nursing home." I think of my mother whenever I stand in front of my mirror with my tweezers in hand. She didn't live long enough to need someone to help tweeze chin hairs, and maybe I won't need the service, either . . .  but her comment always makes me smile in solidarity.  Yup, THIS apple didn't fall far from the tree.  Maybe that's one good thing about our COVID lifestyle. No one can see what's growing under the mask.