Sunday, January 09, 2011

The skies 'round here are gloomily gray, thanks to high floating all day long fog. Some mornings we get the regular, on the ground tule fog that wreaks havoc with school buses and creates the school kid's happiest of days, foggy day schedules. But for now, it's just dark and depressing with no indication of time of day -- 8 am looks exactly like 3 pm. It's disconcerting, this loss of the sun compass. Can't even feel good about going out to dig up the vegetable beds in preparation of planting, even though the newly christened "bulb bed" is showing signs of life. Little green tentacles are beginning to reach out of the dark loamy soil and by late February we'll have fat-headed purple hyacinth, sparkling bright jonquil and a smattering of paperwhites. They are all being groomed for a trip to the new glass butane extractor I scored on Ebay. I don't expect to get any significant amount of absolute from any of these, but the experimentation is well worth the results, however small.

These gloomy dark days are filled with kit building here. I am currently working on another round of essence evaluations' kits for NNAPA, and have I said before how tedious and mind-numbing it can be? It can also be inspiring too. I'm working on the RF and F series, the rose florals and the florals, and it's quite nice reacquainting myself with some friends I don't always get to play with. The tedium, or rather, the disgust will arise when I get to the animalics, the A series, the group of aromatics which embody the lovely smells of butts, feet, hooves, and hoo-hoos. The life of a perfumer never sees a dull moment. So I'm barely into the kits, with a deadline of one week (self-imposed) and approximately 385 1.5 ml vials to fill, each kit comprised of 55 separate and individual essences, each vial individually labeled, each grouping bagged by fours into fourteen weeks, also labeled. Woe is I.

Not really.

Someone recently suggested I write down all the recipes I tweak using aromatics and bind it into a little booklet, and I may do that. It will require digging through notebooks and cookbooks for loose bits of paper and ink notes written on the pages. I know there are a couple of cookbooks out there utilizing aromatics, but hey, it's a cookbook. How many cookbooks are too many cookbooks? Did I mention at any time during the 6 or so years writing this blog that I also collect cookbooks? My all-time favorite has to be 'Julia's Kitchen Wisdom' by, of course, Julia Child. Everything is simplified yet so very, very elegant. Plus Julia Child herself reminded me of my crazy aunts; witty, brilliant, funny as hell, and talented. If it weren't for Julia, my meatballs would still turn out soggy.

I, with the help of a dear friend, managed to score something of a rarity this winter -- a few grams of antique orris root oil. Technically it isn't an oil, more like a powdery resin or flaky butter. I even scored the original bottle, an old brown squatty Fritzsche Brothers bottle with label intact. The orris itself is beautiful; fatty, violety, sparkly, like carbonation, a cream soda. I have yet to do any work with it as it's -- it's just too pretty. I don't want to use it up, as is my normal mode of operation. Good orris butter is hard to find, and fortunately I've managed recently to get my hands on several examples of antique orris, so my stock is full. For now. I also scored a vintage bottle, about 30 or 40 years old, of patchouli oil. I haven't evaluated that one either. I tucked it away, decanting just a few mls to use in a couple of projects. Some things aren't meant to last forever, and other things you just can't let go. My miser mode is kicking in, I guess.

Well, it's a new year and everything feels the same. Let's hope it gets better and better, yes? More jobs out there, less unemployment, more self-reliance, less mindless consumerism. It's a lesson we'd all better learn from.


  1. One can never have too many cookbooks. I collect them too, and most of the time, I only make a couple of recipes out of each one, but still I love reading them; they're a wonderful sourcer of inspiration.

    I'm greatly impressed at how you can lead such a busy life and still turn out these very thoughtfully written blog posts. Have fun with your antique orris oil. One of my New Year's resolutions for 2011 is to sample some of your creations. Until then, Happy New Year to you!

  2. Hello Suzanne

    Thank you so much for your kind comments. Yes, one can never have too many cookbooks! I too use only a few from each, and they are definitely the source of much culinary inspiration.

    As for being busy, if I weren't busy, I'd be crazy. Or crazier :) An idle mind with idle hands attached are not my best features. I prefer busy over not busy, so I make it a point to be exhaustively busy.

    Again, thank you for your kind comments!



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