Finally, we're getting rain here in California. Not the buckets of rain we need, but nice, steady stuff that's already beginning to change the landscape. I now live in oak country (I've heard 7 or 9 different types of oak live in the vicinity) and some oak looked devastated by the lack of rain, while other trees, non-natives mostly, were absolutely shriveled and dead. Now bits of green are popping out here and there. The neighbor's gravel yard, a space somewhat larger than our back strip, is now host to trembling sun-seeking weeds, tender and green and hopeful. People in the area are saving rain, setting out 30 gallon plastic garbage cans to catch as much of the precious stuff as possible to use on their food gardens. Smart folks, and happy to live in an area that still allows that sort of thing.
I've been having strange dreams again, when I can sleep. Manzanita remains prevalent, their long, twisted red limbs spreading out like a giant spider across the landscape. I don't know what it means to dream of manzanita, but it's soothing to see them. I remember a witchy friend of mine from years ago told me the soul of the earth lived in the flowers of manzanita. She would pluck the flowers by the light of the full moon and make tinctures that nearly glowed with energy. Fairy food, she called it.
I'm trying to come up with a new business plan, something more suitable to my mutable creative style. As far as bottling preferences, which always seem to be an issue, I'm going roll-on and spray. I have several packets of Papilio, a clear label which adheres to bottles and appears seamless, but I can't get them to work with my perfumes -- the coloring is too opaque and the juice too dark (in most cases) and I end up with illegible, muddled looking labels. So I'm sticking with paper as it seems to better fit the art nouveau vintage style aesthetic I've adopted over the years. At times like these, I wish I had a boss to help direct me. Not a bossy boss, just someone to provide some clarity, who has the knowledge of an artist's heart and a perfumer's soul, with a smidge of business acumen. My other more ambitious, practical self.
So, I've done something I swore I'd never do again. I've committed to a small retail gig. I know I've spoken of the tea shop down the road, and I've taken to visiting it at least once a week (going on two weeks now) to shoot the breeze with the shop owner, Shannon. She's an inquisitive sort, and though I don't like talking about what I do or about myself in general, she has a way of pulling out information in a very subtle, unobtrusive way. She knows a bit about what I do and I was obliged to give her a business card, after which she hopped on the 'net and looked me up. So now I've got a little soap thing going with her, nothing too set in stone, flake that I am. I will be creating a couple of soaps for her, a rosemary and perhaps a lavender/peppermint. We'll see how it goes from there. I really don't mind providing small companies with bits and baubles of soap, but what I don't want to do again, ever, is get in with distribution. While I owned and operated Delicia, my business partner and I got in with a very nice distributor in L.A. who kept us pretty busy with soap orders, but being the businessman that he was, he was searching for the very best deal he could get, which ultimately ended up with us making between .03 and .05 cents per bar of soap when all was said and done. Not very profitable considering the work involved. I also feel like I have to cut corners when dealing in retail because wholesale customers don't want to pay a lot of money, regardless of how awesome the product is, if they can find something similar for a little less elsewhere. I don't like cutting corners. I have standards that I apply to what I do and I intend to remain there. We shall see how this works out.
I attempted to make kheer last night, rice pudding with rose water and milk and cardamom. My technique needs work. I think I'm going to try a vegan version with coconut milk next time, and crush the cardamom to dust. I added a pinch of saffron as well. The problems were with the cardamom and the milk. I kept getting big pieces of spice and it overwhelmed my palate, plus I'm somewhat lactose intolerant . . . and the massive amounts of sugar was off putting. I think I can cut that back as well. Problems all over the place.