Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Traveling Times

I just returned from a brief trip to the Bay Area for a little R&R with some perfumey types. Managed to get myself good and poisoned, too. I forget that I'm really sensitive to synthetic aroma chemicals, which is the main reason I chose to use naturals when I began my foray into smelly things. My first real perfume-induced illness occurred in my 20's when I began wearing Calandre by Paco Rabanne. I'd spray a bit on in the morning before work, and by 10 o'clock I was dizzy, nauseous, sweating, jittery, and having a difficult time breathing. Stupid me, I didn't put two and two together right away and thought maybe I was coming down with something. As much as I loved the scent of Calandre, this experience began a life-long 'scent memory' with it; I smell it, and immediately begin to sweat. And that reaction is how I figured out what was happening. Fast-forward to the present, and it happens again, every time I attend a perfume salon or event where synthetic aroma chemicals are being liberally sprayed in a small, un-ventilated space. That exact scenario played out this past weekend. One moment I'm being my usual socially awkward self, and the next moment I'm feeling like I want to pass out. Fast forward two hours later, and I'm lying on a wide, purple, feather-stuffed couch with a heinous case of the spins, completely screwing up my plans to have a bit of a sniffing party with my hostess and guest. By the next morning, I was myself again. I hate that I continue, year after year, to forget these things. If there were no event going on at this place and it was just the normal one or two Saturday afternoon crowd, if people weren't rolling in the door en masse and spritzing and spraying in every conceivable direction, and if there were some sort of positive air flow, I might have managed to walk away without a scratch.  As it was, I literally felt poisoned. Ah, well, live and probably not learn.

I also did something that I've been on the fence about for a couple of years -- I colored my hair in non-traditional tones. Purple and blazing red. I didn't do it for attention, because the devil knows, I'm not the type, and I do get really uncomfortable when people stare in my general direction and have whatever reaction they have -- though to most folks' credit, seeing purple and red hair isn't really a hallmark of a person living life on the edge, so the reactions are mostly non-reactions. It's just that I strive to pass through my physical life as invisible as I can. Yes, that's right, so I can be sneaky! No. Because attention leaves me cold, nervous, exposed, strange. I want to be noticed for my work, not for my big behind or my hair or tattoos or the number of children I've raised. I colored my hair because I'm old enough to get away with it, and my starved eccentricity deserves it, and it's pretttyyy!

Tonight, I leave for New Orleans. The housesitter is set up, the plants are watered, the animals fed, everyone who needs to know has been notified, and now I wait for the scheduled time to jump in the car and head east. I'm excited and I'm not. I'm not thrilled about riding in the car for three days with people who have so little sense of adventure and imagination, who, when asked how they feel about the upcoming trip, say they're excited and terrified. Terrified. I don't understand it. Terror shouldn't be a feeling a person has when taking a vacation. Nervous, maybe. Terror? I think not. Feeling terror should be reserved for when zombies are crawling out of your basement, or your house is being surrounded by hungry vampires, or being set upon by a bloody werewolf on your late night stumble home from the pub, but not for a vacation. Alas (hahahaha!), I shall strive to have as much fun as is possible for a clueless tourist in N'awlins.

While I was away in the Bay, a few packages arrived and one in particular has me trembling at the knees (in a good, non-poisoned way) -- boswellia rivae essential oil. I love -- no, adore frankincense. I can say with complete honesty that I have never met a boswellia that I didn't like immediately. This one is peppery, piney, grassy/green, and it flashes bright with turpentine and smoky incense. The moment I smelled it, it was as if something in my head clicked open. The anger I had felt all day long over someone sucking the spontaneity out of this NOLA trip by literally scheduling every moment of the drive (including toilet breaks) melted away. I'm still a little peeved, but I've decided not to be an asshole about it and just go with the flow. This rivae is coming along with me; a bit of bottled sympathy for my poor, abused psyche. There were a few other things in the packages I received, but I haven't had an opportunity to mess around with them. I have a few orders to process, then I'm off to the post office before closing up shop for a while.

Arrivederci. So long. Sayonara. See ya, wouldn't wanna be ya -- or maybe I would. Depends on who you are. Peace out!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Just a Quick Note

Just a quick note here (maybe) -- I'm feeling the hay fever in ways that I can hardly describe. I'm in misery. It kicked into high gear yesterday when I began a batch of incense and forgot to wear my face mask. Yes, folks, you HAVE to wear a face mask when grinding herbs and resins or you're more likely as not to have a reaction in your sinuses from breathing in all the powdery dust created. I don't know why I thought I'd be okay, because in the past I've NEVER been okay to not wear a mask while grinding. I suppose it was my enthusiasm taking over, making me reckless and stupid. I was already suffering from just regular old normal hay fever from the oaks and honeysuckle and olives blooming, but I guess I thought I wasn't suffering enough. My eyes are nearly swollen shut (though on an up note, all the baggy eye wrinkles are gone) and my sinuses literally burn.

A couple of projects were begun yesterday; one incense, and one scent formulation for lotions. I'm also writing down the bones for a couple of perfumes for Lylli's Petals. We had a meeting her last visit and she agreed that the peach perfume should be completed before the rose perfume. She seemed genuinely intrigued by a lily-of-the-valley perfume too, and she indicated she'd like a marshmallow perfume some time in the future. So those are on the list for this summer. AND I have a special request for re-batches of Serj, Oshiba, and a custom perfume -- this customer wants 'barrels' of these scents for future use. And speaking of barrels, I've been on the hunt for used wine barrels to use in the production of apple cider vinegar for the skincare toners. What I hope to do is pick apples in the fall at one of the many local organic apple farms, and use them in a single, very large batch of apple cider vinegar to be used throughout the year. Now that I'm working on in-home studio space, and potentially off-site studio space, I'll have plenty of room for these larger, though still quite small in industrial terms, projects.

As I am prone to feats of derring-do, I plan to take a walk today in the direction of the second-hand store in search of another herb grinder (coffee grinder), in the swirling, twirling, pollen-filled wind blowing through the mountains. Wish me luck that I don't die from an accident brought on by a sneezing jag. I might sneeze myself off the curb and into the street, and be crushed under the wheels of a toddler on a tricycle cruising down the bike lane with his mother Jane and his dog Spot.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Lotions, and Snow Balls, and Smoothies (oh, my!)

Lotions. What's your opinion on them? I just purchased a gallon of organic lotion base into which I plan to add some delicious organic oils (probably hemp or borage), and then some simple little scents (probably blood orange, patchouli, and vanilla) and put those up in the apothecary. Later, after I finish a bunch of these projects that are piling up, I will formulate pretty and intense perfumery-style scents to add to the lotion base. Some things with more complexity and nuance. You may be wondering why I, the crazy apothecary experimentalist (word?), am not creating my own lotion base. Good question -- or wonder? . . . because I'm not very good at it. The pieces and parts of lotion making are complex, plus there's the preservation issue. It's a bit out of my wheelhouse. The scenting of said lotion, however, that I can do. Why lotions and not oils? No particular reason. I prefer oils during the cooler months as they keep my skin better moisturized, while the warmer months require something a bit less heavy than oil -- a water-based lotion. This stuff is really light, perfect for summer wear, made up of water, organic coconut oil, organic sunflower seed oil, shea butter, apricot kernel oil, aloe vera, a naturally occurring (though perhaps here a 'nature identical') preservative, Vitamin E, and some naturally derived binders (so the oils will mix with the water). Giving this truncated description, you can see why I have no plans to make this stuff from scratch. Getting this to work requires warming and stirring and adding just the right amount of this with that and . . . well, at this point in the game, I am completely disinterested. And relying entirely on the honesty of my supplier.

Now that my life has changed again, I'm thinking of becoming much more pro-active in terms of my health. I'm getting 'up there' in age, and I could be in much better health with some effort. Today I begin with meals of smoothies from the fruit bowl. Right now it's a zesty banana and orange juice smoothie with ginger, celery, cucumber, pear, cranberries, and sunflower seeds. Later I'm thinking more celery, cucumber, red pear, cabbage, and perhaps an avocado. I'm a depression eater, so when I get in a funk, I eat crap. When I first moved here from Fresno, I missed my family so much and felt so out of place here, that I once sat in front of the TV watching 'Where the Heart Is' and ate an entire box of Sno Balls. Now I have a super-duper snazzy professional smoothie making machine, and a new bicycle. And I'm on the hunt for new hiking shoes. And I'm working on building my business and I can't be an out-of-shape moose for the hurdles ahead. Fat I can handle; not being able to walk up a flight of stairs without getting a cramp is out of the question.

The endless hours of free time stretch before me, and I plan to fill them with as much adventure and experimentation as I can.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Kombucha and Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

My first batch of kombucha turned out beautifully -- a nicely fermented, not too crazy pickly, sort of sweet lavender bergamot kombucha, with a second batch already mothering away. It'll be at least three weeks before the second batch is ready to bottle, so I have some time to think about what to use for flavoring, and time to savor the two big bottles I have made. I love kombucha, especially the perfumery flavored types, like lavender, and jasmine, or rose. Rose is rare, so that will probably be the next batch. No one else here drinks the stuff, so I can flavor them in any crazy combination I choose.

I've also been making my own organic apple cider vinegar for skincare purposes, and now I'm going to share these delightful creations -- well, not right now now, but as soon as this batch is finished doing her thing. In early June she'll be ready to filter, then the botanicals will be added, and then another month will go by before that part of the potion has done its thing, so she'll be done and ready to bottle for sale in early July. But she's made beginning to end right here in my little studio. No bottles of Dr. Bragg are hidden away in the HP closet, the botanicals are the best quality around, and my hope is that the ultimate skincare juice is peerless.

These pictures are from almost two weeks into the fermentation process, and it's looking perfect. Well, it's relative as to how perfect it looks -- to you it might look like hot garbage, to me it looks like heaven. And it's beginning to take on the acetic acid smell (vinegar) with a lot of sweet apple nuances.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


It only strikes at night, when I'm here alone (hubs works nights) and little feet aren't digging into my back in the middle of the night. I love my alone time -- passionately -- but this is different. This feeling reminds me of when I lived in the Van Ness house and was alone there in that huge, hollow house in the weeks before I moved to the central coast. It feels like a little bit of my purpose has been shed. But you know me, I'll be fine once I'm elbow deep in a vat of Kyphi mush.

Yesterday I had a very long phone conversation with a dear friend whose marriage of 28 years is coming apart at the seams. She vacillated between being deeply distraught to being righteously angry and borderline vindictive -- y'know, the normal feelings one feels in these circumstances. What struck me was that she, like me, is an artist at heart and spent nearly her entire marriage out of the job market to pursue art and creativity, while raising children, and now that she's forced into the job market, she has few skills one might consider job-worthy. It's especially difficult for women past the age of 45 to be taken seriously, and this is usually a time when we need this type of support the most. We've raised our children to adulthood, often our marriages dissolve, and we're left with cobwebby art studios, a seemingly bleak future, and a decade or more before we're eligible for social security. I plan to do something about that situation, once I'm set up in the studio and it goes retail. Older women have a lot to offer in terms of experience and intuition, and coupled with a few youngsters with wild imaginations and no sense of a ceiling on the possibilities, the combination can be explosively beneficial to a business.

So far this month I've gotten five requests for more Egyptian and otherwise types of Kyphi. I'll probably begin a couple next week. They won't be ready until the end of summer, and one may end up being put away for a year or more to really set the scent. It seems like all my 'projects' are culminating in mid- to late-summer. F12016CH is still ageing in its diluted form, and already I see that it needs more extending notes -- a heavier butt, if you will. It doesn't sit firmly on the skin, but floats away and feels unfinished. I'm surprised how at a higher dilution rate it seems more fruity/violet than it did in its whole form. It's nice, it's just kind of thin. It reminds me of Easter smells -- Peeps and white chocolate and frozen berries, and the scent that rises while rustling through tall green grass and damp soil for hidden eggs. Maybe I'm just taking this sh*t too seriously! Naw.

Oh! The tea shop that I made soaps for has them packaged up and ready to sell:

Nice, eh?

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Give Me Civet, or Give Me Death!

I spoke too soon about how easily I'm sailing through spring -- the hayfever is kicking my a** right now. The hubs keeps pushing nasal sprays, and I keep telling him no way. First of all, I like saline sprays, which we don't have right now, and I won't use nasal sprays if someone else has used them. I'm not interested in spraying some booger busting solution up my nose when I know YOU used the same sprayer two weeks ago when you had a cold sore on your lip, and a mucousy case of bronchitis. Ditto with the neti pot. Using your nasal spray or neti pot would be like wearing your dirty underwear. Hiding personal nasal sprays around here is a joke -- even the grown ups have no sense (except for me, of course). I'm not using nasal sprays, but I am using the Benadryl; only at night, though. Otherwise, I'm just honking into tissue and keeping indoors -- where the cats are right now because it's cold outside. So basically I'm miserable no matter where I go.

Despite the swollen nasal passages, I'm still able to smell stuff. Sometimes. It goes off and on like a bad light bulb, but when it's on, it's interesting. I'm still going through the things I received from Dan at AG. I just noticed that there's donkey dung in one of the packets. The words donkey dung are written in quotations, so maybe it's not authentic donkey dung, but something else that's just called donkey dung? Or maybe it really is what it says it is. I'm afraid to open the bag. Last time I did that (with the raunchy tobacco) I got zebra sh*t. Really, today, I'm over the outhouse smells. Give me civet, or give me death! (In this case, death would be preferred).

Things around here are beginning to feel . . . good. I still have moments where I miss the kids' presence something awful, but for the most part, the quiet soothes me. I am filled with peace when I imagine going for a walk completely unhindered, or riding my bike without first arranging babysitting schedules. Or thinking. Or sitting. Or using the bathroom without separation anxiety getting in the way. Or making dinners people will eat without a fuss. It feels nice, like I'm wearing clothes that suit me. I don't know that I'd be this put together if I didn't have my work to look forward to. One thing that's really pushed to the fore since they've all moved out is getting that studio. I'm about to walk down there and slip another note into the mail slot. I've looked at other spaces, and even been offered a space at the tea shop, but nothing else feels right like this spot I've been looking at for six months. It's THE place. Period. If I don't get it, I won't fall to pieces, but I will be very disappointed. And then I'll look for something else -- something that feels right.

Monday, May 09, 2016

It's Done

They've gone. Their new place is set up, they both start work tomorrow, and life goes on. I'm sitting here staring at an empty room in dire need of cleaning, and remnants of childhood tucked here and there -- a wee sock in a corner, an empty bottle of 'bubbles' in the bathroom sink, a torn 'Frozen' poster lying crumpled on the floor. I'm sure the weeks and months will continue to present these pieces of a past life. Changes like these change us. Every time it happens, it's like hitting the reset button, time to begin again, under new and different circumstances. I vacillate between weeping and jumping for joy. Weeping wins more often. I'll get over it. I have so every other time it's happened. Now that it's done, I feel the brakes on the creativity train slowing me down a bit. It's a temporary hitch as there are dozens of new things lined up -- busy work, productive work, inspired work, goal oriented work. Sadness tends to temporarily paralyze me creatively, so I seek escape in books -- which isn't an entirely terrible thing to have happen. I mean, there are worse things to lose myself in, like meth or heroine or bottles and bottles and bottles of blue gin. Tempting as those things are, I think I'll stick with the less destructive book regimen, y'know, just in case I have to drive somewhere later.

The time consuming projects are still brewing away, and beautifully so. These things are mostly hands-off and require only time to finish. Later, like June something, is when I'll be working to get things put together. Packaging happens in July -- early to mid-July. And somewhere in there are a few weeks of R&D scheduled, to make sure that what I'm creating actually does what it's supposed to. It amazes me now how things I poo-poo'd and waved away as too archaic years ago fascinate me to no end today. I blame it all on Kyphi. She is the culprit. It was that slow, ritualized process that did it, bringing to the fore the love and passion of the work. It feels better than it did when I was in the early learning/obsessive phase of perfumery. I'm still pretty obsessed, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't learning something every day, but the ardor is a bit cooler than it was in the beginning. The honeymoon is over and now the deep, respectful love has set in. The enduring stuff.

I got a bunch of raw (and I do mean raw) materials from Dan of Apothecary's Garden. I loved some of the samples so much, I immediately ordered other things, and I've got my eye on a few other items I want, but I'm saving those purchases for later. I got some boswellia thurifera, a frankincense resin, that I'm sure I've never experienced before. It's lovely, and smells like no other frankincense I've smelled before. It's powdery and nearly floral and presents as a whole, complete, compounded incense -- crazy. I can't wait to put it into something. There is also a small sampling of onycha (shells) from the Red Sea. My nose is bruised from all the oak pollen in the air, so I can't get a real hold on what this stuff smells of, so I will have to wait for further evaluation. As it is, it smells of nothing, but it's kind of an interesting looking . . . thing. It is to be used in incense, but since I can't smell it, I can't be certain where it would go in an incense, or why (referencing the lack of scent). There were a lot of other things I got from Dan, strange things, things I've never heard of before, like raunchy tobacco from Ethiopia, which, honestly, I think is probably something like camel or elephant dung because, well, that's what it smells like. Zoo animal poop. A few years back, I was meeting with a very famous aromatherapist/perfumer who had ordered ambergris from someone in one of the many Yahoo perfume groups, and when she got the 'ambergris', she knew something was fishy (or not so fishy) and had the sample tested -- turned out the ambergris was camel poop and grease. Crazy, huh? For all those perfumers who bought that ambergris, tinctured it, and then used it in their perfumes -- yeah.  L'eau de Chameau Porc et Faux Ambergris.

Friday, May 06, 2016

It's Moving Day

Today is the day. All their boxes are packed, the trailer is on reserve at the moving company, the i's are dotted, the t's crossed. We leave at 2 to make the drive across the hills back to the valley and into their new lives. I get an early Mother's Day gift in the form of a little five-year-old who will be traveling back with us and staying for a few days while her mum and step-dad prep their new home. Daughter wants to set up the wee one's bedroom with her new bed, put her posters on the wall, and set out her toy boxes so the move for her is as easy as it can be. We've all noticed her attitude has been a bit off since she received the news of the move. Things like this can affect children in all sorts of ways; for the wee one, it's manifested as easily hurt feelings and lots of time spent at the desk painting abstract scenes. We're all trying to show her that even though the day-to-day will change, the big picture is the same. She's safe. She's loved, and her parents would do almost anything to make her happy. And so would her grandparents. If you had any inkling as to what she's been through this past year, you'd understand how especially important (as normally important in any child's life) those things are to her.

Yesterday I finished up a few things. I finally diluted the master formula of F12016CH. I'm going to set it aside until late June before evaluating and determining if it needs some manipulation. It seems my patience these last few months has improved -- I can actually wait for a project 'to become', and sometimes even forget that I have something brewing. It's primarily because I've got a few things brewing at the same time. And I was able to dilute/tincture a few unctuous elements that needed careful handling. I'm also gathering incense materials at an almost alarming rate (alarming to my bank account, mostly) -- little bits of this and bags of that. I'll stop when I'm satisfied I have enough to keep me busy compounding throughout the summer.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have some things on the burners that will be released this summer -- I've taken the long road on a project that could have easily been finished by now had I purchased all the raw materials instead of brewing them. But brew I do. It's the alchemy of the thing. It's about provenance and creating something exquisite from the ground up. It's about knowing, without a shadow of a doubt, a thing is real. You're going to laugh when you find out what it is, and then, hopefully, you're going to love it.

Lylli's Petals is also receiving some attention, mostly from other perfumers who think it's grand that a little girl is being taught the art of perfumery at such a young age. I plan on sneaking in a LOT of teaching moments during her formulating sessions. She won't even notice she's being trained. The truth is, she's been in training, in a peripheral sort of way, since she was born. She spent her early months in a carrier in the studio, watching me pore over formulas, tincturing, weighing, evaluating. She spent her toddler-hood attempting to break into the studio to lie on the rug in the middle of the room and look at all the pretty bottles lined up everywhere. She spent days at my knee, watching, squirming, lightly touching, as I wrote notes, tested perfumes, ground herbs. A month ago she was helping with the hyacinth enfleurage, and it was then that I noticed how seriously she took the work, and what a steady and delicate (gloved) hand she has with the materials. When we were working on Honeysuckle Rose, she was patient and studious, sniffing everything before adding it, counting drops (even though we were weighing everything), and being very aware of how careful she needed to be. She truly enjoys the work. There may come a day when she becomes bored with it, but until then, I'm here to guide her hands.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Topsy Turvy Day to Day

Ah, here we are, and things have shifted -- again. The kids WERE moving in a couple of weeks, and now they're moving RIGHT NOW. They were able to get a place, find jobs, and daycare, all while still living here. Amazing what people can do when the motivation to do so is strong. I'm kind of tossed on the feelings bit. I'm really going to miss the little girls -- I mean, it's empty nest all over again -- however, I'm really going to enjoy my so-called free time, y'know, the time I use to CREATE! Yep. It's back. I've got a few things brewing, and I mean that literally on a few items, that will be making their debut in the coming months. Exciting stuff. Back to my roots kind of stuff; stuff a friend from years ago hounded me to do but I just wasn't 'there' yet. I'm there now. It's going to be good.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Intuitive Data Base

I know. I said I wouldn't be writing here for weeks or months because I have a lot to do. Turns out what I have to do will have to wait until the kids' move is done. I have some things that were backed up done -- the custom work is finished. The rest is too time and materials' intensive to get into with everything turned upside down as it is. So here I am. At your disposal. Sort of.

I wrote a bit about my granddaughter's (and mine) new little business venture, perfumes for children, which she named 'Lylli's Petals', but what I haven't written about is how a perfumer who 'plays' with raw materials long enough can 'intuitively' -- not really intuitively; more like scent memory built up over the years creating a rare data base of information in the brain -- pick just the right natural oil or natural isolate to create an effect. Like honeysuckle. While setting up the organ for the granddaughter, I was thinking of all the sweet and delicate scents that intrigued me as a child. Honeysuckle. Lily of the Valley. Sweet pea. Buttery rose. Peachy citrus. A lovely apricot body powder. For her first perfume, I chose heliotropin, methyl anthranilate, lots of citrus (orange and lemon and bergamot), lavender, a touch of spice (cloves), and roses, both natural and isolates, and a few other smells to fatten up the body of the scent. Even though I had played around a bit with the ratios prior to her beginning to formulate, it was her hand that dispensed the aromatics into the alcohol, so we're going to say she made these because some day, she will be doing it all on her own. Or so she says. Slowly, with each addition of the formula, a scent appeared -- honeysuckle with a shimmer of rose. I would be lying if I said I wasn't surprised by what we got. I knew it would be feminine, sweet, innocent, floral, girlie, but I had no idea it would be honeysuckle. After creating her first perfume, I began to pore over my books -- mostly the old ones that have formulations for honeysuckle and lily of the valley and sweet pea, and found to my utter surprise that all the materials I used to create this accidental honeysuckle were indeed in vintage formulas for honeysuckle accords. It was that intuitive-not-so-intuitive data base taking over . . . intuitively.

The CEO, COO, and President of Lylli's Petals has announced that her next project will be a rose perfume. Then after that, peach. I do so love that she is in love with perfume. It gives us just one more thing in common.

Tumultuous Times

I can't lie -- or, rather, I can't hide it anymore. I'm a mess right now. My daughter, her fiance, and our sweet little grandchildren are moving away. The house is in turmoil. Money's an issue (more on that a little later), and bad news just keeps coming.

A long-time online friend, someone who I admired and loved, passed away. We made cyber soap together, laughed at ourselves together, encouraged one another, and displayed our flaws for the other to see. It was a comfortable relationship full of trust. I will miss her words of wisdom more than anything. A couple that I thought were the poster children for surviving with a smile the roller coaster ride of marriage are splitting up. This news stunned me more than the dear friend's departure. I got a rather demeaning review on the first natural perfumery book, Working the Bench, on Amazon. Again. The remarks were aimed at illuminating how the book was for beginners, and people with no lab experience. No kidding? It's aim is that group, and it says so in the description. Granted, I'm not 100% proud of that book as it's very, very basic, and yes, a lot of the information can be got from the internet if you go searching for it. I think I'm more disappointed in myself for not doing better -- for not doing as well as I know I am capable of doing -- and then getting my panties twisted because someone points out what I already know about the work. Every time this happens, I am tempted to pull the plug on the books.

Money. Or lack thereof. It's why I can't get a firm foothold in my business. I won't take a loan, or look for investors because I can't be certain someone else's life won't bleed into mine and cause upheaval to the point of my becoming mentally paralyzed (usually it's someone causing undue fear in my life because they have it in theirs), thus wasting the investment. I'm almost positive I'm overthinking this -- at least I hope I am. And even though there will be more space in the house, what with half of the household moving away, I still long for an outside of the house studio. It's the negative energy flow I'm attempting to avoid. The energy here is not always good, despite routine ritual. That space I was looking at earlier this year is still sitting there. I even got a phone call in March from the owner, after I pushed a note with my written desire to occupy the space through the mail slot. Since then I've not been able to get back in contact with them. And the space is still open. Available. Waiting for me.

On a lighter note, F12016CH is getting better. In fact, I think I'm done. Time and alcohol and then more time (and alcohol for me), some cute spray bottles, and off she goes. With a name, of course. 

My little granddaughter, Lylli, and I started a business together called Lylli's Petals. She helps create the perfumes at Lylli's Petals (so far just one) by allowing me to tell her how the ingredients smell, and then her testing to make sure I'm not trying to fool her, and then she decides if she wants those ingredients in her perfumes, and then geared up in her apron and rubber gloves, she disperses a pre-measured amount of raw material into the blending flask. She's got a pretty decent nose for a little kid. The first perfume is an eau de toilette (I think they will all be edt's because her intent is to make them available to kids like herself) made up of citrus and florals and a few natural isolates that turn it into something else -- in this case, the first perfume from Lylli's Petals is called Honeysuckle Rose. We used a little heliotropin natural isolate, a little phenethyl alcohol natural isolate, a very little valerolactone gamma natural isolate, and loads of naturals, like rose, neroli, lemon, lavender, a vegetal musk, and a hint of cloves to create this pretty little perfume. When I say 'little' regarding the amounts of natural isolates used, I mean little, as in highly-diluted drops of 5 or 10 in a blending flask of natural perfume base and organic alcohol that measured out to about 100 milliliters to start. She even picked her label background and the font used to write 'Lylli's Petals'. She seems pretty sure of what she wants, which is a lot more than I can say of myself. We started her store on Etsy, and the profits from any sales will go into a savings account for college. Or to travel. She claims that when she grows up, she wants to be 'a traveler' and see 'stuff'.

Lylli's Petals ~ Honeysuckle Rose

You can find her perfume for children here, at Lylli's Petals.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Heed the Call

When did 'news' become advertising? I just followed a link for what appeared to be a juicy mystery, only to discover it was garbled sound bite style article writing surrounded by a dozen adverts for cars, drugs, and investment 'opportunities', followed by AT&T logos everywhere. The logo was even in the background of a photo used to illustrate the story. The story itself was a dud. Completely, but, man, the side bars were loaded with distracting stuff I neither need nor can afford. It makes me sad for our society that so much sh*t is being forced down our necks as 'necessary' to our survival when it is not necessary to anybody's survival except for the very financially wealthy, y'know, in order to keep them that way. I apologize if I sound a bit anti-capitalist -- I'm not -- not even close, I like money just as much as the next girl, but I've never found the idea of 14k gold water faucets as a plausible end goal. That kind of 'rich' is gaudy and desperate. Snap the handle off your bathtub and feed some hungry people, why don't you? Invest in education. Start some companies where people actually have jobs that create a living for them. Not everyone wants to be bloody rich; some just want to shop for their kids' school clothes at Target instead of Goodwill.

I'm done. For now. Ha!

The weekend was great. The soap workshop was a lot of fun, even if turnout wasn't the best it's been in the past. Fresno's a hard sale. As I've said before, that area isn't made for this type of work; people there are underpaid, overworked, and hanging onto their pennies -- because they have to. Soap workshops, perfume workshops, and Kyphi workshops just aren't in the budget for most. At any rate, it was a great class; my grandson showed up and was the alchemist's helper, stirring the pot, asking very important soap-related questions, sniffing, and moving things along at a near-manic pace. The gardens at Seasons were in bloom with rose geranium, different types of roses, lavender -- even the white sage, which now stand over six feet tall, are budding and blooming. The bees around the white sage were intense! Bumbles and honeys were everywhere, just giving those plants tons of bug love. Seasons now permanently hosts bee boxes, and white sage honey will be part of the honey crop this year.

I think I'm going to go off the grid a bit for the next few weeks. I've got tons of custom work that's backed up, plus I'm anxious to begin work on re-formulations and re-batches of perfumes that I'm getting requests for. I need to immerse myself in study again, re-acquaint myself with the creative, in what ever ways appear to me. Work/Creativity is beckoning and I must heed the call. That means I probably won't be posting much here for a while. For weeks. Maybe months. Love ya.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Soap Workshop April 23, 2016

The soap making workshop is this Saturday, the 23rd, from 1 to 4, or whenever we finish the work, at Seasons of Spirit in Sanger, CA (15 minutes east of Clovis, CA) ~

 I am offering a two-fer of sorts -- for every pair, couple, friends in twos, cousins in twos, mums and daughters, sons and fathers, etc., you get a discounted fee rate of $80 the pair instead of the $65 per person for those coming one-by-one. In other words, if you bring a friend, you get to ride the Soap Class Choo-Choo for less than if you came by yourself.

I'm working on the scent combination for the workshop sample soap today and finishing with the actual creation of the soap this evening. The soap will also be given away to participants of the workshop, along with my soap making booklet.  It'll be a lot of fun, so if you can, come on out.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Camphor Wood of Indonesia

After a couple of years of searching for camphor WOOD -- not crystals, not essential oil, not tincture of crystals -- I finally found someone by pure happenstance who sells the shavings. If you've been creating Kyphi with camphor crystals or camphor oil, you're missing out on something enriching and historical. The camphor wood (Cinnamomum camphora) is so much more multi-faceted and layered than straight camphor crystals or oil; the wood is deeper, richer, woody (think of the dry sun soaked nature of cedar wood chips) and subtle at the same time. Unlike camphor crystals and white camphor oil, the wood contains high amounts of safrole, a toxic substance known to cause cancer. I initially thought I might make a nice camphor wood body incense, which I announced on my business FB page, but after a few minutes of research, I realized that won't be happening. I can, however, make a beautiful powder incense and Kyphi using small amounts of this luscious camphor wood. Camphor wood is the historical ingredient used in Kyphi, not the oil or crystals. I'm anxious to get a batch of Kyphi started and replacing my crystal/oil combination with the wood -- 7 grams, a minuscule amount compared to the weight of the whole  -- and watch as the scent unfolds over the next few months. It's exciting that the closer I get to using authentic ingredients in Egyptian Kyphi, the more I feel as if I'm stepping back in time and calling upon the same forces they might have called upon in ritual. One can (day) dream.

Camphor Wood Shavings
More and more ideas are rolling in, and I'm especially surprised by how those stupid 'memories' things that pop up on my feed at FB have turned on a few lights as well. For example, Vintage Rose 10 ml perfume oil that I made in 2014 popped up, and I'm sitting here wondering why I'm not making more of that and selling it for cookie money. It sold like mad and was very popular. I guess it's a problem with how I perceive certain types of work that I do. With Kyphi, production is complicated, semi-ritualistic, semi-experimental, and the time involved to raise the energy (mature) the incense can make even the most patient of people tear out their hair; with perfume, it's more the work of the alchemist, things are a bit more scientific, I have a better hold on how things will turn out, but again, it's a time thing, so more hair tearing. Those little oil works, the soliflores and the simples, those take almost no time at all because they're straight-forward, and the elements used in them are limited to what will enhance the core without overriding. I say that as if they are easy to create. They are, and they aren't. I mean, it only took me a dozen or so years of studying this art form to have that knowledge when something will work -- or not. So easy after years of hard work then. The rate at which I create things depends upon how long it will take to make it, and how deep into the closet I'm willing to dig. Mostly that. The digging thing. Yeah. I think that's why I buy so many new scenting elements -- because it's easier to have the package delivered to the door than it is to pull out box after box and dig through each one to find a bottle of whatzit that I need. So now I've got stockpiles of whatzits everywhere. Lame.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Mote of the Strange

As the days have progressed, I have been working on F12016CH, and though it is turning out beautifully, if I do say so myself, it's missing something. I haven't as yet put my finger on what it's missing, but I hope that with ageing, the missing piece will present itself. It's something worth sleeping on. The last time I had this problem with a perfume not quite coming together, I was advised by another, very well-known, perfumer to add more jasmine. That may be the fix, but I'm looking for a prestige note to do the work for me. And I'm thinking green is the way to go. However, every single day I evaluate this new scent, I am surprised to find it is changed. It is possible that ageing is all it really needs, and some serious dilution. I'm finding that the more tinctures and alcoholic extracts I add, the more expansive and multi-faceted the scent becomes. Time may very well be the final component here. It never ceases to amaze me how something dreamed up in my tired old mind can become what I imagined it would only after time has been applied. Modhlim, for example, is now quite beautiful, much more so than when I first created it. All the sharp notes of basil and the dusty, rusty iron-like piercing quality of green tea mellow behind a veil of soft spices and lush florals. Perfuming with natural raw materials is never boring, as their chameleon qualities serve to enhance almost any pot they're thrown into, given time.

There are some advantages to living in a perfumer's (or creative's) bubble, and one is not allowing oneself to become influenced by trends. I've been a victim of trend following in the past, when I was seeking the all mighty dollar above all else, and it always ended disastrously. I would be left holding the bag, both figuratively and literally. The only times I've been rewarded for my creative work was when I went against the grain, when I did something different, or explored something with a mote of the strange -- or at least strange for my clientele.  The creative juices are flowing, my friends, and I'm back! It took reading off the grid works and a change of familial circumstance for the block to dislodge, and, boy, what a backlog of ideas and future projects came pouring out. I have yellow sticky notes posted everywhere with new ideas, names for future work, materials to explore. They're on my desk, on my computer's screen frame, on the walls around my work station, tagging up on pages in books stacked high on the blending desk, the kitchen table, the computer station, the chest freezer that serves as a printer stand. They're fluttering to the floor when papers are being shifted about, and have to be retrieved and arranged in an order my mind can make sense of. I feel lighter. Back in tune. Ready to create.


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