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Borrego Springs, CA

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

If only these sticks could talk

Back in 2004, I had a small Coachmen trailer and went on a seven week caravan trip to Alaska.  I had my 87 year old mother with me, and my daughter Robyn.  What a time we had!  Less than half way through that trip, Robyn got called up to active duty with the Army Reserves and had to fly out of Fairbanks immediately to report for duty.  The rest of that story would take 16 posts to talk about, but that’s not what I'm thinking about tonight.  I’m remembering that on that trip I was introduced to diamond willow walking sticks.

I fell in love with those walking sticks, but didn’t want to pay the exorbitant prices for one that the local merchants were asking.  Instead, I purchased a bundle of unfinished sticks, and so began my hobby of carving walking sticks.  Lots of ladies on the road quilt, or do crafts, or cross stitch, etc.  Not me.  Those kinds of things have never called out to me, and just made me nervous when I tried them.

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But just give me a section of diamond willow, and I can sit for hours just working on it.  It can be rather tedious work, and I’m no expert, but the wood tries to speak to me like fabric and thread never could.  Each piece is different, and has its own special markings. 

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Back in 2009, when I was pretty new to this bogging thing, I ran a “Name this Skull” contest.  A couple of people actually responded!  The prize was one of my hand crafted diamond willow walking sticks.  My brother, Carl, was one of the winners that recognized this feral pig skull.

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The other winner was a Vet in Missouri.  As it turned out, I was able to let her choose a stick as I traveled through her area.  That’s when Emma was truly a ‘wild child’ and didn’t have any grey hairs. Who me?  I haven’t heard from her in quite some time, and wonder where that stick has gone.

While in that area, a couple gifted me with some fresh trout they had caught, so I left a stick with a note in the back of their truck just before they left the campground.  Don’t know where that stick has gone either.  Also had a guy approach me about buying a stick, but I told him I only give them away to special friends.

It’s been some time since I’ve worked on my sticks.  I have a small supply of unfinished ones that I’ve been carrying around with me for a couple of years, but two things have prompted me to once again work on this hobby. 

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First of all, my brother Kurt (aka Nurse Ratchet) mentioned that he would like one when he was helping me recuperate from my hip surgery in January.  It seems the least I could do for the bed pan emptying and miserable white sock putting on.  Nyah-Nyah  Then Rachel showed an interest recently about how they are made.

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So tonight, I got the sticks out along with my trusty box opener, and once again found the sweet calmness of slowly carving off the bark of these sticks to find their uniqueness buried beneath the surface.  I’m thinking that one in the middle might be special enough for Kurt, but who knows what lurks beneath the ones yet untouched?

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

33 comments:

  1. That will sure make a nice gift for Kurt. The next time he plays Nurse Ratchet he'll have something to poke you with.

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  2. How nice to give someone a one-of-a-kind curly willow walking stick -- and that stick can't be bought at any price: Priceless!!!

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  3. Oh what a neat hobby! Love those walking sticks. I've never heard of Diamond Willow - is it a tree that grows only in a certain area? Lucky folks that receive your gift!

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  4. It is a good outside hobby! The grands all have Diamond Willow walking sticks. I love the way the diamonds show through:)

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  5. Nice hobby to have. Can't wait to see what you come up with.

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  6. The walking sticks are beautiful. Where do you get the unfinished sticks now - surely you didn't buy that many in Alaska!

    I think I need a hobby too, and I've thought about quilting. But I tried that years ago - actually didn't get any further than looking in pattern books - and i doubt if my eyes are good enough now for fine stitching. Of course, if you have to use a knife to make the walking sticks then it would be out for me, I'd cut myself. You do a beautiful job on them.

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  7. The best walking stick I have ever found was when we were in New Zealand. I don't know what kind of wood it was but it was strong, golden in color, and just the right weight ad length for me. I kept t for the tie we were there, but left i behind. I have occasionaly wished I had thought to bring it home. No bought hiking pole can really matCh a good stick.

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  8. That is a good hobby and I think it's great that you give them as gifts.

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  9. They each do tell a story. Each one filled with Love. What a treasure for each recipient and joy for them. It is truly wonderful to discover a develop a gift we didn't know we had. I would love to see the look on each recipients face and they receive them.

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  10. What a unique and interesting hobby. I made a walking stick from a piece of driftwood. It's more of a cane really but I loved working on it. Your sticks are beautiful - love that wood. Each one must be so special to the recipient.

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  11. That sounds like a wonderful, relaxing hobby. I never cared for cross stitching or crafts either, but this one I would like too. They are unique. Someone would be very lucky to receive such a nice gift.

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  12. I meant to say Diamond Willow, but my fingers wrote curly. Another "senior moment"

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  13. What a very special gift for folks-very nice:)

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  14. Nothing like a good walking stick. Those who receive yours are truly lucky.

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  15. Nice hobby ... and all the more special for the recipient since they were lovingly hand carved. I've been told that once you use a walking stick, you never want to venture out without one. Perhaps when we get west next year and finally start walking and hiking as haven't done this year, I'll give a stick a try.

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  16. Neat hobby! Those sticks have a totally different personality than the Leki we use!

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  17. Hi Judy! What a surprise to see me in your blog today! I am still in MO, and still wanting to fulltime, but alas! Am still working. Know anyone who wants to buy a vet clinic? I do still travel though, and the walking stick goes everywhere. So far, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Okla, Texas, Colo, N and S Dakota, Utah...maybe more. It is patiently waiting in my 5 th wheel for our next great adventure (Glacier NP this fall), unlike me, who is NOT patiently waiting to fulltime. Still read our blog every day. Give Emma a treat for me! Deanna

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  18. What a nice post! And a great hobby! I am curious also, where do you get the unfinished sticks? Joe has done lots of wood carving over years and might be interested.

    We visited our first refuge yesterday...National Bison Range near Polson, MT. Just beautiful! Thanks to you, we will be looking for more.

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  19. Great hobby! Maybe next time we meet up (I'm heading up that way next summer, perhaps you'll return?),you can demonstrate? I used to make hiking sticks but mine were very primitive. I've been wanting to get back into it.

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  20. What a great, wonderful thing to do!!! I love walking sticks, have a couple from different areas. Had to restrain myself from getting a carved one in West Virginia, they wanted $284!!! BUT oh my goodness the wonderful creatures that were carved on it, I would never have gotten tired of looking at that stick!! But common sense prevailed :)

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  21. I've never heard anyone else refer to the needle arts as making them nervous... boy, me too. that little bitty inning and outing business ... not for me ~ that's why I did macrame ... bigger knots and stuff to work with.

    never thought about debarking sticks! what a cool thing ~ to see what they're like under their bark. I love wood. dangerous with a knife though. always something.

    I do have walking stick ... got a giraffe head.

    And your Vet posted and told you where your stick is! how cool is that...

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  22. What a great story and hobby, Judy. I especially like the way you say they're not for sale but gifts to special friends. That part to me is what helps keep a hobby a fun thing and not a 'job'!!

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  23. I have longed for a Diamond Willow walking stick and was told a long time ago you can find those trees growing in Minnesota. You just made me remember and now the longing comes back.

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  24. What a wonderful hobby, Judy. And how fun to get a blog comment from your vet winner!

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  25. I'm with you, not a craft person, but carving walking sticks looks like fun.

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  26. Judy...you never cease to amaze. My brother is a gifted woodcarver and has carved me a few things...Hand carving is a very personal and wonderful way to become one with nature...Coaxing the wood, carving with love, carefully crafting a simple branch into a wonderful treasure...Kudos, girlfriend...Keep on carving.

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  27. How fun - for you and your special recipients! A true labor of love, much like a quilt or needlework of any sort. And they truly are beautiful! I am having my own hip issues (and have been for years), so we recently invested in a walking stick - what a difference it's made! You are mighty talented if you can produce that beauty from a lowly box cutter...the only productive thing I ever did with a box cutter was try to remove my thumb! Thankfully, I'm left with my thumb attached and a gnarly scar.

    catch us at www.thecallanders.name

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts & handiwork!

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  28. Once again, you've amazed me. A very interesting hobby, for sure. How nice your vet friend responded and gave you an update on the stick you gave her. :c)

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  29. Great hobby, but how much space do they take up?

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  30. Diamond Willow sure is beautiful, you never know what's in there! I had a stick given to me as a present by Mike, a regular at the Vallecito campground in California. When I asked one day if he would sell me one he said he only gave them away to special friends. How honored I felt when he gave me one before he left a couple of weeks later. He even carved my name in it! Great memories.

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  32. Nice Post.Thanks for Sharing this in your Blog

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