When I think of Bri, I think of the spirited, happy person in this pic. It was taken in July – three months before she passed away.
I’d eaten persimmons before, but never the Hachiya variety which she had been extolling. I read the first paragraph, saw the lovely pics, and picked up a couple of them on my next visit to the market. They felt ripe. Jai and I took a bite each from the first one we cut up and spat it out. They were nasty!
I went back to Bri’s post and read the whole thing. I’d missed the bit where she said it needed to be “fall-apart ripe”. If it wasn’t, it would leave an “ass-puckeringly awful astringent experience on your tongue.”
I hadn’t waited until they seemed soft, pulpy and borderline rotten – which is when the flesh turns sweet and ‘eat-with-a spoon’ silken.
From then on, I learnt to be attentive and not to skip paragraphs while reading her posts. She championed pure, natural, chemical-free ingredients, grown locally. She doggedly ensured that she knew where almost everything on her plate came from. She treated the farmers who produced them with appreciation, care and respect.
During the next six months, I met her once, spoke to her twice, and exchanged a dozen or so e-mails. It was a brief interaction, but I can honestly say we forged a deep and close connection. She embodied a certain wisdom and spirituality that made each of my interactions with her joyous and uplifting. She emanated a deep affection for all life forms in the cosmos and was quick to recognize the beauty, wonder and creativity in its various facets.
She was incredibly perceptive. I remember asking Bri if she would like me to send her some music. I told her that I had a collection of Indian classical music – two types, North and South Indian. Was she familiar with them? She said, “Not really, but I’ve noticed that the music in the sag paneer place is different from that in the masala dosa place.”
I laughed and told her she needed to get well soon, so that we could go out and have some fun. Bri was a butterfly with a broken wing who didn’t let her physical constraints limit her imagination or the scope of her dreams.
She said, “Bee, I have a plan. I’ll come to Boise and then the two of us can go on a blog buddy tour around the world to thank and visit with everyone who contributed to my treatment in various ways.”
I said, “Yeah, we have buddies in some really pretty places.”
“What about Hawaii?”
“You are good,” she laughed. Suddenly her voice turned serious.
“Who was it from Hawaii? I do not recall thanking that person on his/her blog.”
As soon we finished the conversation, I sent her the link. Later that day, she made sure to visit Manju’s blog and leave a thank you note.
Here’s what she said:
Thank you so much for your support, Manju. I was just telling Bee that I would love to take a tour of blogging friends when I am healthy and strong, and mentioned that I wish I had blogging friends in Hawaii. Lo and behold, she sent me a link to your site. I love the layout, and am so grateful for your publicity of the fundraiser.
When I was sick the first time, I was able to get weekly Reiki treatments that really helped me get through all the yucky Western stuff. Reiki is such a noble medicine.
She also had long-term plans which she dared to harbour and share with me. I was always astounded by her strength and humanity.
Cynthe (her mother-in-law) would update me about Bri’s condition from time to time. I would send Bri e-mails which Marc (her husband) read out to her. Her neck was in a cast and she couldn’t sit at the computer. She couldn’t respond to most e-mails, but when she did (through Marc), it was because she intuitively knew that the person at the other end needed comforting.
On August 7, she was told by her oncologist that she needed to look into hospice as there was nothing more they could do. I sent her an e-mail. She responded:
“The western mind with all its doubts can be so compelling sometimes, but I don’t buy into her perspective” and outlined the pain relief options she meant to pursue.
It sounds strange and selfish to say this, but through her darkest hours, Bri knew how to reach out and assuage the pain of those around her.
When I think of Bri, and it is often, I am filled with joy and gratitude. Even though the circumstances of our interaction were clouded in uncertainty and sorrow, we shared many laughs. Each time I bite into a Hachiya persimmon or eat a masala dosa, I will remember her bright smile and tinkling laughter. There’s no other way she would have liked it.
Bri died on October 27. That week, I was walking around my yard and smelt the heady fragrance of English lavender.
Pleasure is the flower that passes; remembrance, the lasting perfume. ~ Jean de Boufflers
I wanted to capture and preserve the aroma of lavender, just as Bri had captured the essence of roses in her Ecstatic Organic Rose Vanilla Ice Cream.
In that post she explained how pure rose extract involves a process requiring steam distillation and differs from commercially available rose water.
No matter which flower you use, make sure it’s organic. We use an organic fertiliser once a year on our lavender plants and avoid chemical sprays or pesticides. Unfortunately, we cannot say the same about our roses. We treat them yearly with a systemic insecticide, else in spring the blooms get overrun by thrips.
I set out to make lavender oil with my English lavender blossoms – not essential oil (as in lavender extract), but regular oil infused with the fragrance of lavender. English lavender is the most fragrant of them all and we have two varieties – Hidcote and Munstead. It’s quite simple, really.
1. Cut off the lavender stalks and leave them standing erect in a bowl (like you would keep them in a vase) in a dark room or closet for a day or two until they air-dry a bit.
2. Pull out the flowers from the stalks, bruise them lightly with your fingers to extract the essential oils, and place them in a clean, dry clear glass bottle. Try and ensure that the bottle is the right size – after you put the flowers in, there should not be too much of an air gap between the flowers and the lid.
3. Pour oil into the bottle – just enough to cover the blossoms. I like to use an oil with a neutral taste and smell, like light olive oil, safflower oil or grape seed oil, preferably organic.
4. Put the lid on, shake gently and leave the bottle to sit in a sunny spot for between 48 hours to a week, depending on how strong you want it. It wasn’t strong enough the first time, so I strained the oil out (make sure to squeeze the flowers with the back of a spoon to extract it all), then added a new batch of flowers to the oil and kept it for another week.
5. When the oil smells strong enough, strain it out and store in a dark bottle in a cool place. It should last about 6 months.
1. As a flavouring, in lieu of vanilla extract.
or in ice cream, the way Bri used rose extract.
2. A few drops can be used to scent your bath water. It is also an excellent body oil.
3. I use a few drops to scent my all-purpose cleaner. (We use Simple Green, which is odourless.)
4. This oil can be used to perfume homemade bath soaps or candles.
5. Dab a few drops of scented oil on cotton balls and place them in your linen closet. Sometimes I throw in a damp cloth with a few drops of scented oil with my dryer load. It generates steam and perfumes the whole load.
Organic scented oils are a great holiday gift. Lavender oil is our entry for Homemade Christmas Gifts – an event organised by Happy Cook @ My Kitchen Treasures.