Thursday, December 29, 2016

In Tones of Sepia

Grief is snowballing. As each day passes, the grief, a living, breathing creature now, grows larger. I am seeking joy, but that little fairy eludes me. 'Live in joy', 'Live in joy', is what I hear myself say, a mantra, a conjuring that hasn't reached the ears of the conjured. Toxicity is all around me, embodied in the family whose goals are to make everyone as miserable as they think they are. Live in joy despite the darkness. It's a choice, right?

Live in joy.

A long time ago, Littleflowers sent me a bottle of her then latest perfume, Sepia. Sepia, by definition, is a color -- a reddish-brown color to be specific, or a tone found in monochromatic photography of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. When thinking on 'sepia' as a scent-character study, what is summoned becomes metallic, acidic and tangy, like licking the business end of a D-cell battery. Sepia perfume was just that. Littleflowers nailed it. But the piercing harshness of the opening disappeared after a moment and then a warm, enveloping citrus-meets-leather-meets-dry-old-books-and-resin note took over, thick and heavy, and lingering to the end. I remember being surprised at the accuracy of the perfume Sepia compared the mental scent image of sepia, and while I was taken aback by the opening, I loved it as a representation of both sepias (color & photography). It was also a very calming and meditative scent after the initial copper-charged scent burned off.



~ Sepia weeps. She laments.

Scents of powdery frail paper and murky resinous ink layer atop shy, sparkling lemons and yuzu, citrus fruit bowls took over by a monk’s black-fingered writings.

Sepia is a perfume by Littleflowers. She evolves from thin veils of citrus over spices and leather to dark resinous waxiness and finishes with soft powdery-sweet old paper and apothecary medicaments.

Do I like it? It's right up my olfactory alley. So yes, I do like it. Love it, in fact. It's precious and rare. Like old books bound in copper written in dead languages ~

Having the ability to create a scent that embodies certain non-perfumy elements so perfectly ~ metal, soil, air, water, fire, old books, lightning, rust, dust, and ink ~ using only natural raw materials, AND making them wearable is an art form in and of itself. Most natural scents created to embody these elements are interpretive, in the mind of the creator, and almost never direct and precise. Who really wants to smell like moldering dirt? Or musty old books? Or brackish water? Almost no one. But as an exercise in natural perfume formulation, it is a hard-met challenge.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Unbound

Wow. It's been some time since I posted here -- a few weeks at least. In that time, a lot has happened. I suppose I should say that I finally (just today) got my 'office' put back together. Which is why I'm here now, writing this post. It's not the optimal set-up, but it'll have to do until we move into the Plum Palace.

So.

December 22nd is the anniversary of my mother's death. This year marked three years she's been gone. Every year, I light a 7-day candle on that day and pray/talk to her. I tell her how much I miss and love her, that the family's doing well, although she and I both know that is subjective commentary. On Saturday last, I got the news that Nicole Meredith, sweet Littleflowers, had passed from this world, and the news hit me like a ton of bricks. On that day, the 7-day candle, burning for just two days, burned out. It was later that I found out Nicole had chosen to go on the anniversary of my mother's passing, and I couldn't help but feel a little bit of her poetry in that move. I'm am gutted. I feel like what I'm writing isn't going to make much sense. For a few days after hearing that she'd gone, I dreamed about her. I dreamed she was preparing to go and I was selfishly trying to convince her not to.

I don't think I can do this right now.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Half Back

We're settled in our new temporary home. All of my product is packed in storage and almost inaccessible. Almost. There will be climbing, cursing, and breakage involved in locating everything. I was to reopen the Etsy shop on the 1st of December, but that didn't happen. My computer isn't set up, so I can't continue with the books until I figure out where to squeeze that bit of equipment. I'm using a loaner computer at the moment so the posting here will be wishy-washy for a while. And to add insult to injury, my partner is in the hospital with an infection of unknown origin. There have been tests and scans and xrays and echocardio-whozits out the ying-yang, and still no answers. After three bags of IV antibiotics, the infection is at least getting under control.

When it rains it pours, eh?

But I'm back -- well, at least half back.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

2013 All Over Again

While perusing the blog earlier this morning, I found another post about moving from October of 2013 wherein I wrote that my 'spiritual advisor' told me that I would never live in Fresno again, and my initial reaction to reading that was, "Bullsh*t!", but then I checked myself. I'm not going to live in Fresno proper, I'm going to live in Clovis, an entirely different town nestled in the curve of Fresno's neck. My temporary home and my new permanent home are both in Clovis, each further east of Fresno, and the permanent home is halfway to Sanger, another town about 15 miles east of Fresno. So, as dubious as that prediction was back in 2013, it was technically correct. But, of course, I had grand ideas of moving further and further from my disreputable hometown, perhaps landing somewhere interesting and exotic. I suppose the universe knows what's best for me, and so chose the 'exotic' city of Clovis, CA as my landing spot, the land of ultra-conservatism and cowboys who've never wrangled a cow.

Random photo of The Scented Djinn soap inserted for your viewing pleasure


I woke in a sweat last night despite the near-freezing temperatures when I realized that where I'm going for the next six months has zero space for my projects. Once installed in the Plum Palace, the workspace will be a corridor of shelving in the front of the garage, which is what I had here, and it worked beautifully. Yay for being organized. I may have to carve out a small spot where I am headed for the interim, otherwise, I'm surely going to go bat sh*t crazy. I'm about 1/3rd of the way there now since I haven't had my hands on any creative work since November 5th. I am itching to get to work on some Christmas incense cones and sticks. And maybe a lovely frankincense and myrrh oil. Nothing will be ready for at least a week after I get set up, maybe around the 7th or 8th of December, so my holiday sales this year will be dismal, I'm sure. No worries. What I sell isn't one-time holiday type stuff anyway.

It's all becoming terribly real right now. This chapter is coming to an end, and the next chapter begins.




Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Almost There

I completed packing the garage -- the entire garage -- by myself. I've discovered muscles where I didn't know I had any. In the garage, there is a pile of charity stuff (a loveseat, Christmas ornaments, baby clothes, adult clothes, shoes, books, household items) and a stack of packed boxes. There is also a stack of boxes in the dining room, living room, and my bedroom. It's like a maze inside the house. And yet, the realtor keeps bringing prospective buyers in. The house is upside down, the garbage cans are full, and there are heavy duty bags of trash in a queue waiting their turn in the bin -- it's a mess, and I don't see how a prospective buyer can make a decision with all the distractions. The landlord owns the house next door too, and that's been put up for sale as well. The tenants there just moved in around February and they were out within two weeks of being told the house was for sale. According to the realtor, they were none too pleased. We aren't either, but it's turned out to be a blessing for us as we're moving back where the family is, and we're buying a house, and the house just increased in value $10,000 over what we're paying, and there's work for me there. Our former neighbors were quiet people. Extremely quiet. Now there are workmen coming and going from the house next door, and today is wash-the-house-day as there's a guy out there with a pressure washer (extremely loud contraption) hosing down the walls. Yesterday was hammering day, the day before was landscaping day -- it's been non-stop racket since the neighbors vacated. And with all the noise coming from the not quite so empty house next door, the back neighbors' Maltese mop dogs won't stop barking at the 'threat'. It's almost as disconcerting as life in The Tower. Almost.

I didn't discover anything out of the ordinary while packing the shop. It's been too recent since I went through everything, that I'm pretty familiar with what I have. I did find a lot of old friends, though. Like the kilo of arnica root oil I've been hoarding. And the big jars of finished incense that I haven't put up for sale. There were some other things that I marveled over briefly, such as the multitude of bottles of patchouli. I have nine different patchouli oils, and somewhere in my mushy little mind, I still think that isn't enough patchouli! At any rate, it's done. The goods are packed and ready to go. But am I?

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Persuaded

Today is the day. It's shop packing day. And it's raining, which lends the process more of a hermit's work than a chore. I have not been looking forward to packing the shop in even the tiniest of measures, but I know, as it always happens, that once I'm in the scents, the joy level will increase exponentially until I'm done, my elated heart abuzz.

Sorry for that. I watched Persuasion before bed last night. Ha! It's my absolute favorite Jane Austen book to film.

I very recently pulled everything out of the HP closet --well, a bit but not all -- and set up shop in the garage, so repacking won't be such a big deal. It's the other stuff around the shop that I need to pack that is going to be a hassle. Lyll's expensive blow-up oasis pool is lying in a heap, there are boxes of odds and ends, things from my mother's house, errant picture frames and motorcycle helmets. I've also cleaned out the chest freezer, so tonight's dinner will consist of fried cod, buttery broccoli, and a frozen strawberry mash over freshly fried, previously frozen beignets, all complements of the deeper depths of the chest freezer. I also have two big bags of mini guava whose fruity-floral scent is filling the house now that they've been liberated from the deep freeze. I'm re-freezing them and I think I want to distill them for hydrosol. I was going to use them in incense, but I've changed my mind. Distillation with guava is on the list.

I suppose I'd better get to the shop and begin. I left it for last because I felt it was the biggest job to tackle. The thought that once in there, once the picking and sniffing commence, I won't need too much persuasion to continue.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Shop Closed Until Dec. 1, 2016

I've made the decision to shut down The Scented Djinn's Etsy Apothecary and Thurifercorum until this move is over. I'll reopen on December 1, 2016, possibly with a few new things to share. I feel like with the shop closed I can finish up packing more efficiently and get this move over. You can still chat with me here if you need anything.

So Over It

I'm feeling very frustrated right now. It literally seems like I've fallen down Alice's rabbit hole and things are not as they should be. I pack and pack and pack and sort, and the more I do it, the more I find to pack and sort! It's maddening! And to add insult AND injury to an already stressful time, the neighbor's dogs, just five feet from our sliding glass door, have been barking non-stop for four hours, and their puppies haven't stopped whining for that long either. I'm in knots right now with this packing and yapping stuff. I'm doing 99% of it alone, and it's really beginning to wear on me. I have until Friday the 25th to finish. So, I guess I'd better get at it.

Ta-ta!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Work That Mojo

I'm moving at a snail's pace these days. The weather changed to cool days and colder mornings. My hands feel frozen all the time. I pack and pack and pack, wipe off the sweat, stand up and see a house full of more crap to pack. With as much stuff as I have packed, and have left to pack, it still won't fill the new house we're building. Not even close. It will be years, perhaps even a decade before we get close to turning our new home into the eclectic and whimsical gallery/museum of our dreams. Hell, I could be dead by then.

We were going to rent a small apartment in Fresno until April or May when the house is projected to be done, but we changed plans and are moving in with our daughter and her family, into her wee haunted house where things DO go bump in the night and closed doors open by themselves, and door handles rattle at 3AM. Yeah, that should be fun. And I am unpacking NOTHING. Well, except my spiritual stuff, and the things I sell on Etsy. Everything else stays put unless it goes to the Farm to be worked on. There's a lot of work to be done on the Farm, so I'm sure those months in Hannah's Haunted Hootch will pass by quickly. Then it's off to the Plum Palace with our insufficient furnishings, two dogs, four cats, a wee child, and the exhaustion that comes at the end of a long journey.

I miss formulating! I have a notebook that I'm trying desperately not to lose in the mess of boxes and things pulled from cabinets and drawers, that I write down all the ideas I have for things to make and put up on Etsy. Wonderful things, a la Howard Carter. Well, maybe not quite THAT great! The incense book is on complete and total hold, though the rough draft sections that are fleshed out are decent, and all the notes and research and personal experience stuff are sitting in a folder ready to be put into the book. Again, this is a magic wand moment. I wish I could think the book into existence. We'd all be authors then, right?

Sales are up again since the election has come and gone. I think now the sales reflect retail therapy and perhaps a bit of celebration. The Scented Djinn Etsy shop is picking up new customers, which I love! I remember a time just a few years back that nearly all my sales were long-time customers who stocked up every two or three months. They kept me afloat during those rough, lean times when I was considering chucking this whole bag and moving to Alaska to make money fishing.

Like I said, I'm just itching to get back to working my mojo ~ ha!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Future Forward

I wish my magic wand had an autopack setting. I am just about sick and tired of it already. The house we're moving to during the interim while the new house is being built won't see a picture or a piece of art from my boxes because I absolutely refuse to unpack them. Any of them except those necessary for running my business. Basically, I won't see my personal stuff again until May, when it's being moved into the Plum Palace. Almost everything except my shop is well on its way into boxes and bags. I didn't realize how much stuff we have until I began pulling it all out of cabinets and drawers. I'm getting too old for this crap. It is my wish that once stationed in the Plum Palace, it is the last place that I live.

I started burning some of the incense created by the free class students. I'm quite impressed by them. I couldn't tell you who made what because I was a bit punch drunk from all the aromas in the air and didn't think to sort them out and label them. What fun we all had! It is reflected in these wee witches' hats of incense (aka cones). None seem to be self-combusting because the students added more resins than they should have. They burn great on the handy-dandy electric incense heater. Each cone on the burner with the heat turned at about 150 F will disperse scent for a couple of days. The things in my room, from my clothes to my art, are being infused with scent almost 24-7. None of the work the students did is bad. They all smell wonderful. Some more wonderful than others. I ran a free-for-all kind of class. Each student chose the ingredients for their incense after getting some very basic information about resins, woods, herbs, etc. The point, after some consideration, was changed from an attempt to get cheap labor to provide my shop with incense to a day of grinding incense in a mortar and pestle, and an electric spice grinder, and choosing elements for inclusion into their incense, and then working with the materials to get a feel for what they were doing. It was about experiencing what incense-making was all about. The next class will be the labor class. Since they all know what they're in for now, it should be easier to separate those who want to help from those making social calls. Even though the event was very social, full of energy and joy, I could tell a couple of the folks just weren't into the work. I hope by the next time around I'll have a new professional spice grinder and a few more mortars and pestles to make things move more smoothly. I had a blast, and so did everyone else, and though the event was scheduled from 12-4 pm, many of the participants stayed as late at 8:30! We're building a community out there at the farm. There's a store that is being prepared to open in an old 1950's something trailer (cute as heck!), and soon there will be a classroom building to keep us out of the elements while we're learning about incense and soap and perfume and herbs and medicinals and homemade vinegar, and setting up harvest days to wrap and package white sage bundles and other herbals. Great things are happening at Seasons of Spirit's farm.

We all need something to look forward to. Community and spiritual progress is the path I've chosen.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Incredibly Mesmerizing Up Close Look at Burning Incense (psst, turn up the volume)


Homeward Bound

I told'ja it was gonna be a sh*t show. And, boy howdy, is it ever. Gird your loins, boys and girls, because whether you were a 'winner' or a 'loser' in this year's US election, there's trouble brewing.

So, enough of that (for now). It's back to business, not as usual, but with renewed vigor and a whole lot of grace.

We went to Fresno to plunk down cash for the new house. The hubs signed his life away in a two-inch-thick ream of 8.5 x 14" legal paper with all the weird and wonderful details of our soon-to-be home. We've dubbed her The Plum Palace as decor inside and out looks to be leaning toward shades of periwinkle and violet, amethyst and orchid, mulberry and wine -- but I was warned that these colors were to be complementary and not primary -- in other words, no lilac sofas or royal purple ottomans, but throw pillows, patterned rugs, curtain sheers, and art can have shades of plum and eggplant all day long. Suits me just fine. There is such a thing as too much purple, but just barely. When we got to the builders' office, we were told that our house had just gone up in price by $10,000! But we were safe as we had signed for our home prior to the price hike and are paying the original agreed upon price quoted by the lender. We also discovered that our new neighborhood is full with a mixed bag of folks of every age, gender, marital status, race, and religion, and there are walking paths, wee parks with benches, and lots of room for the kids to romp around. I am so excited to be moving there! We've been planning the layout of the backyard for weeks now and have decided on putting together a pergola for climbing perfume plants (jasmines and honeysuckles) and a raised bed of herbs, with the entire back fence holding up tomato plants and cukes and squashes. I just can't wait to have space to grow and permission to do what I need to do for a change.

All of my incense gear is in Fresno with my friend Shannon. I left it all there after the incense class on the 5th because it just seemed silly to drag it all back only to return it to Fresno once again. There won't be any new incense until mid-December, which may be too late for the holidays. I am currently running a 25% off coupon at The Scented Djinn's Etsy apothecary -- the details are 25% off of orders over $10 using coupon code HOMEWARDBOUND. The coupon is good until November 17th, then I won't be doing any more discounts until the new year. This would be a good time to stock up for the holidays if you're so inclined. There is a lot of great stuff in the shop at the moment, lots of well-aged incense, some really pretty scented incense, some luscious perfumes, body oils, and soaps. I normally don't accept international orders as shipping just kicks me in the teeth every time, but if you're out of the USA and are interested in purchasing a few things, with the coupon code in place, I'd be happy to make special arrangements for you. Contact me at my Etsy shop and we'll get it going.

That's something else I wanted to share with you all -- after the first of the year, I will be shipping internationally those products which don't cause a ruckus with customs (soap, body oil, incense), but restrictions of alcohol-based perfume remain in place and I cannot ship those out of the US.

There's been very little creative activity going on lately, just a lot of packing and sorting and planning moving sales and trips to the dump. I have started that new book on incense making, and I fiddle with it every so often, when an idea or thought I can't let go pops up and I want to save the nugget for expansion later on down the road when I have time to work on it.  I have been reading a lot more than usual. I guess that's what happens when the creativity is stunted -- I fill my head with words.

Anyway, that's it for now I guess. I miss sharing the creative ideas with you -- and more than that, I miss being creative!

Be nice to one another. xo

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Politics and Incense

Sales have been super slow this past week, and I was sitting here scratching my head wondering why, and then I realized it's because of the impending election! Yeah, people are scared. No matter who wins, it's going to be a sh*t show. People are straight up losing their minds over this election in a way I've never seen before. The amount of vitriol -- it's way beyond what has ever happened in the past.

Years ago I used to put presidential bumper stickers on my car, or bumper stickers opposing the person I didn't like having as president. On more than one occasion I would park my car in a public parking lot at a shopping mall only to return to my car to find a message on my windshield (once the message was written with a crayon) about how I was a child molester and pedophile because of my bumper stickers. Another time my son and I were nearly run off the road by another driver who didn't like my bumper stickers. So that was the end of bumper stickers for me! My life and the lives of my children weren't worth having an opinion misconstrued by someone with poor impulse control. I mean, never once in my entire life have I ever thought to oppose someone's bumper sticker by actually writing nasty notes or yelling from a car window while speeding down the road. I have a definite live-and-let-live kind of attitude until you actually step into my space and become a problem. I guess in light of what's going on, I'm pretty naive. I actually believe I have rights to have an opinion without the threat of violence. Never did I imagine that what I experienced years ago would be elevated to where it is today. Never did I think that those anomalies would become the norm.
But, here we are.

I received a box of delicious incenses from various incenseurs around the world in a swap yesterday. I began with an aged Kyphi on the heater at bedtime and it smelled like heaven! It was juicy and sweet, like peaches and amber. I've never smelled Kyphi like this! Before it burned away entirely, I replaced it with a piece of Malaysian white benzoin resin, which melted into a puddle and emitted the most beautiful sweet, almost floral, slightly vanilla scent. This box will take me months to get through as there is a lot of stuff in it. I will keep you posted -- in the meantime, try to be nice to one another.




Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Money, Get Away, Get a Good Job With More Pay and You're O.K.

I had the grandkids over for the weekend, not all of them, just two, so I got zero packing done while they were here, and, in fact, ended up repacking a donation box because the smaller of the two is a land-dwelling octopus who is into everything. Monday morning I drove them back over for Halloween trick-or-treating, with the intention of just staying until the next morning so I could get some errands done (like procuring a home for the next six months), and I ended up running all over town getting money orders and giving jump starts and picking up kids from school and looking at rentals, and didn't make it home until nearly midnight. Driving in Fresno is insane. A far cry from the way driving is over here. On the main streets here, everything is posted at 25mph, and it still takes about 10 minutes from my house to the bank and back. Or my house and pretty much anywhere and back if the stop is just to grab something quick and head back home. In Fresno, not so easy. The two mile trip to the bank from where I was staying took almost 30 minutes, the drive back was almost the same amount of time, just a tad faster. Driving over to give my son a jump start on his truck, roughly 2.5 miles, took 35 minutes to get there and then -- well, you get the picture. Traffic in Fresno compared to A-Town is beyond the scope of comprehension. I spent the majority of my day in the car going from one place to another in bumper to bumper traffic running errands that had I been on Atascadero's roads would have taken maybe an hour. That traffic is going to take some getting used to. Hopefully, if the house deal goes through, we'll be on the very edge of town and won't need to venture too far in to get things done.

I'm just now gathering up stuff for the free class this weekend, and in the middle of it decided I'm taking it all. I'm indecisive on what kinds of incense to make, so I thought I'd choose a few and then do a class made batch or two where we all kind of put our heads together and choose the elements. I'm hoping that within the chaos of this move and all the anxiety it's bringing to the fore (not entirely mine, either) that this class serves as a balm. Great things are happening business-wise and I feel like I've finally hit my stride. I don't want to lose that momentum or enthusiasm because of a relocation. I just refuse to fall into that pit again. I could have been where I am now a long time ago if I had been stronger and understood that I'm important too. What I do is important, even if it's only important to me. The fact that no one in my immediate family respects or understands what I do no longer shadows my work. I don't care what they think. It's working for me, I'm paying bills, saving money (because that's all they care about, the $$$), and working in a very spiritual and creative way. I love it. Perhaps what they are really feeling is jealousy. Know thyself, right? I know me. This is me. And this is me releasing energy, fulfilling my creativity, lifting my spirit, and making the all important cash. I say that last bit with a smidge of bitterness. Don't get me wrong, I love cash, but for me, cash is just a means to an end and not the goal itself. Cash means I can continue. Cash means kilos of resins and herbs and oils that I can then turn into something beautiful. Cash means I can keep a roof over my head, food on my table, and socks on my feet WHILE I create the things I love best. Continuation of the creation is the goal. And hot soup.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Look!

Look what I just found!


Tempest's actual formulation was in this box, as were all the formulations for the numbered bottles, and Khodum, and Atay, and a host of others! I am content.

The Weather

I've been so immersed in the packing and regular daily life that I've had little time to set down what those incense projects for the class will be. That's on the agenda today. I'd like to make a batch of Christmas incense cones, and another batch of woodlands incense cones. For the sticks I'm thinking something floral, maybe magnolia or -- geesh, I don't know. I haven't really thought this through! I'll have to go out to the studio/garage and dig around in the goods a bit to find out what I'd like to build in the class.

As most of my customers know, every time they order something from my Etsy shop, they receive a sample of something similar to what they've already purchased -- if they fill their cart with incense, I send them a sample of incense they didn't purchase; if they fill their cart with skincare items, a balm, butter, or serum, I send a sample of a serum they didn't purchase, etcetera. There have been a lot of incense orders in the past few months -- I mean a lot -- and I've been sending bits and pieces of incense samples to all of them, and one, in particular, has really struck a chord -- May Zahr -- who is NOT yet ready for the shop, the slow drying little bugger! I've got folks champing at the bit for that one to go up. I'm getting kind of anxious about it too, as I don't want to have it sitting about while I'm packing and moving and have it there on the last day, still a sticky puddle. I've been going out and working it every day, rolling it, folding it, exposing the wetter bits and working the dryer bits in. I'm thinking that I will have to put a fan on it for a while so it dries faster, especially since we've hit our rainy season here. Yes, it is raining in California, folks. My area is predicted to receive up to 2" of rain today. We shall see. The local meteorologists might as well be looking into a dirty crystal ball for their weather reports as their 'predictions' haven't quite been on point lately. But I do currently live in one of the varied coastal microclimates, so what goes for the town 10 minutes away is a different story where we live.

Not for long, right? Once in Fresno, the weather is easy to predict. It's a watered desert nestled between two mountain ranges, and it catches rainfall like a big cup. The storm gods like to play games over here on the coast, pushing their rainmaking machines' buttons off and on, as if they'd put their pet monkey in charge. Over in Fresno, the rain button gets pushed and the monkey takes a nap for an hour.

How sick is that? I haven't had an opportunity to work in the studio for so long that all my creative efforts are going into writing about the weather! Ha!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

An Ordinary End

I went to see Uncle Buck at the hospice the other day. It wasn't a sterile ward in a busy hospital, but a cozy little house in a quiet neighborhood on the 'good side' of town.

"It's a lovely place," Mom said, over and over again, trying to make herself feel better about being there. She was wringing her hands and kept putting them in her purse, her fingers pressed on the crackling skin of a pack of Doral's hidden inside, her touchstone.

A long table stretched across the wall in the foyer. It was covered with little angel statuettes, vases of flowers, and in the center, dominating the space was an open reception book. A woman stood next to the table. She spoke softly, "Good morning. My name is Betty. Please sign here." She handed Mom the pen first. Mom's hand shook as she scribbled her name.

"Which guest are you here to see?" Betty asked.

"Guest? You call these poor dying people guests?" I said under my breath.

"Buckshot," Mom answered. "Well, Phil. His real name is Phil."

Betty stepped out of the room for a moment, then returned. "You can go in and see him in a minute or two," she said. "They're turning him so he doesn't get sore."

When Betty walked away, Mom asked, "Did she say they turned him so he wouldn't get bored?"

"No, Mom," I answered. "Sore. So he wouldn't get sore."

"Oh," she whispered.

We sat in the living room, Mom squeezing away on the cigarette pack, me staring at one religious icon to the next. It was a zealot's home, all crosses and Jesuses and Marys and lambs. A chubby Buddha sat grinning from a window sill. Betty returned and told us he was ready. She was smiling. What, I thought, is she so damned happy about?

"This way," she waved, drawing us down the hallway. "He's unconscious, but he'll know you're there. Say whatever you need to say. He'll hear you," she finished knowingly. The hall was short, one quick turn and there lay Uncle Buck, his head to one side, his mouth open, a bid, dark, toothless "O" under his bony nose. I don't know what I was expecting. Except for the open mouth, Uncle Buck looked just like, well, Uncle Buck. He was still bald, still freckled, still skinny. None of the 'signs' of impending death were upon him.

Mom took the chair next to his head. I chose the one by his feet at the other side, near the wall. I couldn't look at him anymore. The sadness of his dying clogged my throat, and instead, I concentrated on the box of generic tissue that sat on the foot of his bed. From the corner of my eye, I saw Mom's hand, steadier now, brushing the few wispy white hairs from his forehead.

"Oh, Buck," she whispered.

I dug around in my bag, searching for the picture I had brought him. "Here," I said, holding the brittle photo across the bed.

Mom just looked at me, "You give it to him."

My voice caught and I shook my head. "No, you do it," I whispered hoarsely.

She took the picture and held it before his half-closed eyes. "Look, Buck," she smiled. "It's your Army picture."

Uncle Buck's hand moved across his chest, his mouth opened and closed like a fish's, croaking words that didn't form.

Mom laughed softly, "I'm giving it to Jeri for you, okay?"

His hand, gnarled and thin, brushed against her arm.

"Yes, Buck," she said. "I love you, too."

The man who shared Uncle Buck's room laughed out loud at something on the television, then he looked at me with a small, sad smile. I marveled at how he could laugh in a place like this. then I began to weep. Not heaving sobs of sorrow, but those imperceptible tears, the kind you don't know are there until you need to wipe your runny nose. Sneaky tears. I stood up quickly, knocking the hospital tray across the room. The man in the other bed stopped smiling.

"I have to get out of here," I said, wiping my nose with a tissue stolen from the generic box at the foot of Buck's bed. "I'll wait for you out there, Mom. Just take your time." Then, without thinking, I said, "See you later, Uncle Buck."

I stepped out of the door and leaned against the wall in the hallway. Now my hands were shaking. Uncle Buck and I were not close. As a matter of fact, I hadn't seen him in almost two years, so I knew those tricky little tears weren't just for him. They were for me. In front of me was an open door, which led into another 'guest' room. The curtains on the windows were thrown open. Green light filtered through the leaves of the tree outside, giving the room an almost mystical glow. A tiny woman lay in the only bed in the room. Her eyes were closed, and she murmured softly while her empty hands knitted the air. I stepped closer toward the door, watching her in her dying, her wrinkled brow furrowing and relaxing, her dry lips smiling, pouting, pressing together. She was involved in a conversation with her dreams.

Betty hustled down the hall and poked her head in the door past me. "Sweet thing," she said. "She's been here a week. Nicest lady you  might ever know." Betty was still smiling. "Too bad about the pain. She's really very engaging when she's not too far gone." Then she looked at me, the smile fading a bit. "Look at you," she said, pulling a tissue from her apron pocket. "You face is dripping."

Sneaky tears, for me and my children and everyone I love who will someday lie dying, hopefully with someone there to brush their hair away from their closed eyes, thin lips open in the shape of constant surprise, mumbling or dreaming or thinking nothing at all, slipping quietly into the tunnel of light.

My Uncle Buck died, having never fully regained consciousness, two days later. There was no smell of sulfur, no cries from the damned, no harps plinking or angels singing There was just a quiet, ordinary end.

From my journal/writings, circa 1998

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Tempest!

I've found about seven or eight bottles of old juice from the early 2000's that are only numbered and not named, except for one, Tempest. I remember Tempest. All of these early juices were made with a very heavy hand -- this one is no different. It's heady with jasmines sambac and grandiflorum, sandalwood, patchouli, and spices -- and I think I detect a hint of mushroom. I cannot find the card catalog for this perfume as it's buried deeply in the archives (and probably still packed from the last move), and I was attempting to find it on Etsy as one of the earlier offerings to get the exact profile, but I can't find it. I was able to find a review of it, and it states the perfume is old-timey Victorian evoking, with opening notes of dried Calimyrna fig tincture and a tincture of strawberries. It is that, but it's also jasmines and patchouli and sandalwood and amber and maybe rose and mushroom and a handful of spices, probably black pepper and clove judging by the dry down. It's intoxicating! There may be enough in the bottle to decant a few 4ml ambers to put up on Etsy. The rest, the drizzle, I'm saving for my library, as I've done with all the perfumes I've created. Once I get into wherever I will live after the move, I will dig out those other bottles of juice and their respective cards from the archived catalog and put a few of those up as well. They're good. They could also handle a bit of dilution, but I won't be doing that. I'm leaving them as I sold them in those early years, fat with scent and enthusiasm.






Sunday, October 23, 2016

Melancholia Sets In

I was wondering when this was going to happen. The dreaded drop in enthusiasm when the realization that this ends. This current situation, the next situation, and all of it, eventually. Oh, sometimes I wish I could take my brain out of my head and give it a good slap across the cerebrum! The drop started as I was digging into and tossing things in the HP closet. Well, if I'm going to be honest, the drop started gradually a day or so ago and has been gaining speed ever since, but the closet -- that tipped me over. I'm pouring out expired hydrosols and finding things I had forgotten about. And then that lead to thoughts of where the hell am I going to put all this stuff -- or rather, live without this stuff -- for the next six months? I do not live a Zen life at all. I'm very connected to things, I guess, even though I'd like to think I can just walk away. My heart hurts a little doing this, and I'm not giving it up at all! I'm just tucking them away for a while. Aaaaahhhhh!

I poured a cup or so of expired frankincense hydrosol from a couple of years back into my cleaning spray bottle. Even expired, the sauce was crystalline and smelled as sweet as when I made it. The rest of the older hydrosols didn't fare so well. One in particular, a grapefruit hydro, smelled like rotten oranges. Not good at all. I also found a near-full bottle of cocoa resinoid that I cannot for the life of me get out of the bottle! Who puts resinoids in narrow necked bottles anyway? They dry out over time and lose their elasticity and end up like putty. I may use the resinoid in incense someday, but I'm going to have to find a very long, skinny spoon to dig it out.

Getting all this stuff sorted out is difficult for me. I feel like I just did this. Twice. The idea is that this next move is the last. One would hope.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Go With the Flow

Ah, the miracle of a single cup of coffee and the bliss it brings! I've been struggling for a week or so with a niggling little sinus thing brought on by MOVING. It's the dust and the dusting and the swirly whorls of sparkling dust in the air, oh, and the dust bunnies hopping about under the sofa and the bed and the corners of every room, scurrying away from the dust mop. I've not slept well in a week or more, so last night I broke down and bowed at the temple of NyQuil for relief. And slept like the dead for a full eight hours straight, except for that episode at about 5AM when my pajama bottoms got twisted up and the fiasco of flipping, flopping and extrication that ensued. Then I was gone again. But as per the usual, I woke groggy and foggy and stumbled like a zombie into the kitchen to set up the percolator. Within 10 minutes of gulping down the first cuppa joe, I felt energized and ready to face the --- DUST! I have got my work cut out for me here. These are the dilemmas: the realtor and her caravans of prospective buyers are here almost daily, which means the house must be in some sort of order for them to do their walk-through; next is the packing -- it's 99% me and I haven't been feeling well, and the going's been slow, and I'm being given directives by other persons NOT doing the packing and there is resentment on my part, understandably, so I balk; next are the weekly trips to Fresno (4 hours both ways) to organize where to live temporarily, where to store our stuff, and work on getting that house, which, if it goes through, will be move-in ready some time in May; then there is the big moving sale wherein we get rid of many of our useless possessions, like redundant furnishings (we have FOUR sofas and more pots and pans than a restaurant); and last, but certainly not least, continue working on Djinn stuff to keep my business vital and alive. No biggie, right?  Oh, yes, and there's the FREE incense class/workshop on November 5th, just days away, that I have to be in Fresno to work on.

So. Yeah.

I'm going in later this morning to fuss with May Zahr, whether he likes it or not. I think he's going to be a jar incense as he's being a total slug with the drying out. He's oozy and gooey and super, duper stinky (in a good way). I burned one of his toes on the electric burner Thursday morning, and when we got back from our Fresno trip Friday night, the house smelled of him. His toe, to be precise. It was amazing! My room especially smelled like orange blossom, and what a lovely scent to come home to after a stressful week of all the sh*t that's been going on.

The house that we're maneuvering to buy isn't even built yet. We were invited by the realtors to look at the space it is to occupy once it exists, and the space was, well, a pile of dirt. If all goes well, and they don't decide to put up another two-story right behind or slightly to the east of the house, then we'll have a lovely view of the Sierra Nevada mountains from the upstairs master. We opted for a smaller house to gain more back yard. My domain. The space of retreat and food and scent.

I know, I'm changing the plan here. What about the Thurifercorum, you ask? Well, it'll happen eventually. There are options. It may end up being a mobile thing, like a wee wagon that gets hitched to a car and is pulled around to different places, or a space in a shop -- right now, it isn't something I want to invest time and energy into. I want to travel, I want to bring my goods when I travel, like an old timey snake oil salesman with a cart and a slogan. Perhaps just the cart. And no snake oil. I definitely do not want to put my stuff in shops, or sell through distributors. Been there, done that, lost the farm. This moving event has shown me that putting down roots through the Thurifercorum will probably be a huge hassle anyway -- or it could be an anchor? So what if I'd been able to get that little shop down the street and really gotten it going? I'd be moving more stuff and looking for something in Fresno, and to be perfectly honest, I don't think the Thurifercorum as a physical shop would work in Fresno. If we had planned to stay here, we'd be scrambling for housing, and housing here is scarce, as demonstrated by the constant flow of folks looking at this house, and the fact that we did briefly look for housing when we got the news we had to move, and there wasn't any, or, rather, nothing that would have worked for us.

Go with the flow, is what I say, even if the flow is full of sewage.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

OCTOBERLUV2016 15% Coupon Code Discount at TSD Etsy Apothecary

I just wanted to remind anyone bothering to read this wee blog that there is a discount coupon code at The Scented Djinn Etsy Apothecary for 15% off orders over $25. Just enter OCTOBERLUV2016 in the coupon section for your discount.

Today we ride to Fresno to talk to a realtor. It looks like we may be having a house built, something multi-gen so we can comfortably stack bodies (live ones) to share in the expenses and so I'm not rattling around in a big old house by myself when the hubs is off working in far off lands. I've been packing non-essentials, which I'm learning is pretty much everything! There's a charity box for things that are nice and cute, goo gaws and whatnots, that I would normally haul straight to Goodwill, but I'm not liking much how they run their business, so the plan is to take all of the charity stuff to one of the local thrift shops. Clothes I'll take to Goodwill, but stuff goes local.

Not making stuff and packing all of my materials away is excruciatingly emotional. I wake every day ready to get into the studio to put something together and within seconds I realize that's not going to happen. Not today. Not for a few more days. Maybe even months. Aaaahhh! I soothe myself with burning incense in my bedroom on my fancy-pants electric burner from Mermade Magickal Arts on the daily. While packing away the studio hutch, where I store all of my wee jars of Boswellia, I made a point keep them out of the boxes and they sit in their sweet painted jars for their turn on the grill. They are my constant companions, literally, as I carry Boswellia in my purse, in my overnight bag, and in my suitcase wherever I go. Boswellia is my Xanax, my little helper, my drug of choice as it calms me like no pharmaceutical ever has. I sound like a crazy person, but I'm here to tell you, Boswellia works for me. If not for Boswellia and black salt (another issue altogether), I'd be a complete mess over here!

The final incense I created before finding out I had to pack it in was May Zahr, which I fancy myself releasing on the masses in a week or so. It's still pretty gooey, and I'm thinking that's just its nature. I've been burning it on my electric burner for the past few days and I can't even begin to tell you what a gorgeous and sublime scent it is. It's complex and very un-incense-like in terms of traditional styles of incense. And it is 100% natural, which is even more amazing given its complexity. But then I say that about most incense these days, especially Kyphis and compounded resins.

The book is on hold for now, obviously, and I honestly hadn't considered really digging into the work until January, when the anxiety of the holidays and the abrupt move are over. I got some feedback from a few of you reading this blog (which I GREATLY appreciate -- both the feedback and the fact that such intelligent human beings read this thing) about other types of incense I should be writing about. This adds the burden of studying and reading more books and researching more, but, hey, that's kind of my thing. I can really dig into a subject and get to the juicy, meaty bits, but unfortunately after I devour them, the information kind of seeps out of my head. I don't forget what I've learned, per se, but I do have to be reminded of them, a trigger must be pulled before the curtain obscuring the knowledge falls and, oh, there it is! That's where I hid that stuff! It's a good thing I'm writing it all down ~ ha!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Fresno Bound

It's official. Well, about 80% official -- I'm moving back to Fresno. Buying a house, too, a big'un so there's space for an office and whatever else I need. We were offered the house we're in by the owner at a price that was easy to refuse. It's far too much, though normal for the market here, on an iffy corner with tons of traffic and lots of noise at all hours -- you don't know noise until the local motorcycle gang decides to cruise through town and use your corner to rev their engines before hauling off at break neck speeds. Twenty or 30 bikes later and the windows are threatening to shake out of the frames, and the dog is hiding under the bed. Plus there's the 5AM diesel truck run that runs five days a week, and the elementary school across the street. It's just a loud corner, and it rattles my nerves something fierce! We considered buying this house because even though it's expensive (in our eyes) we qualified for it, but I just can't handle the noise. I'm ready for a peaceful house in the middle of a block or on an acre or just not on this corner! The Van Ness house in Fresno was scary to live in because of the neighborhood -- it was situated a block from a methadone clinic and was host to the city's many homeless. I can't tell you how hard it was to sleep alone in that house when any little sound would wake me, however harmless, because more than once a stray person wandered into the backyard and attempted to open the back door. Or how often I was panhandled walking out my front door by someone walking up the walkway to my front door, or how many times I discovered a drunk person passed out on my lawn, or people having sex -- yes, having sex! -- in between my house and the house next door, right under my bedroom window! And then to come here to this slow pokey little town with almost zero crime and zero craziness but with this crazy noisy corner that even now is driving me nuts!

I went through the list of pros and cons of staying or moving back to Fresno, and found that there were more pros to moving back, which kind of bothered me. I love it here! The people are great, the weather (and I've said this a million times) is awesome, the ocean is 20 minutes away. But there is work in Fresno for me, classes and workshops and growing crops and helping a friend run a sweet little store in the country. And there are my babies in Fresno. And the mountains! I've so missed the mountains. There are many more opportunities for distillation in Fresno than here because I know folks with plants that can be distilled. With my own home, I can finally put things in the dirt to grow for distillation as well. Fresno is still a poop hole; there's still rampant crime and homelessness and drug addiction and insane traffic -- it's the wild west over there! -- but at the same time, it's my hometown. I know the streets like the back of my hand, I know the landmarks and the little gems and the hideaways. I will miss Atascadero dearly. I have adored the isolation it has afforded me.

So. There.

I will begin packing tomorrow. Those things that aren't essential to the day-to-day living situation are going into boxes or being sold off. There may be a few perfume/incense/soap related items in the 'sold off' section as well, but not much. I've culled my collection a few times in the past few years and I'm not willing to let go of anything significant anymore. Oh, and I guess we have to maintain some kind of homey look to the place in the midst of packing because the realtor will be bringing prospective buyers into the house as early as this week. The thought of people wandering around my house gives me anxiety. I'm a very private person and knowing that a stranger is giving my life the once over disturbs me.

I really have my work cut out for me. I'm exhausted by the idea already!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Boswellia Sacra Infused Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

One of the summer projects at The Scented Djinn was to create an effective toner using apple cider vinegar. I began with store-bought raw organic apple cider vinegar and a handful of boswellia sacra resin and allowed it to 'ferment' for a month. The results were nice. I used it sporadically before deciding I wanted something original, something that I'd created from scratch. I had already embarked upon a path of creating my own kombucha with great success, and it was a friend who inadvertently suggested I make my own apple cider vinegar too when she mentioned that she wasn't able to drink her homemade kombucha due to health reasons, but used it often as a skin cleanser. Now there's an idea! And there is kombucha cleanser coming to the shop soon as well. Back to the cider vinegar -- I did a fair bit of research on methods for creating homemade apple cider vinegar and realized about five minutes into the research that it was going to be incredibly easy. Making good organic apple cider vinegar follows the same standards for making good anything -- cleanliness, exceptional raw materials, and patience. I started with a gallon-and-a-half of filtered spring water, and a 5-lb bag of organic gala apples, an investment of roughly $5 USD. The apples were washed in apple cider vinegar, as were the tools and container used to create the new apple cider vinegar. The apples were cut into quarters, with seeds and skin intact, dumped into the cleaned glass container, and then the water was poured over the top. Some recipes I had found suggested using a ceramic plate to hold the apples down under the water, while others suggested nothing, to simply allow the apples to float freely. I then covered the container with cheesecloth and tied it down with cotton twine, set it in a dark closet (the HP closet on a shelf), and forgot about it for a month. By then, it was absolutely vinegar, though unlike any apple cider vinegar I had ever smelled as it still had a LOT of apple scent to it, which was surprising. I then filtered the new vinegar into another clean glass container and added a few cups of boswellia sacra resin, and let that stew for another month. The results were the lovely amber bottles of infused Viniagres, which quickly sold out. I'm on the second batch -- a larger batch -- of frankincense/apple cider vinegar and the results are turning out even better than the first batch because the frankincense I'm using is better than the stuff used in the first batch. This is a fresh batch of frankincense/apple cider vinegar which will be ready in about two more weeks.



Also on this shelf is a big batch of homemade health cider, formerly known as 'fire cider', but we're not allowed to call it that anymore because of . . . well, it doesn't matter why. Just another case of people being asshats. Oh, and the health cider was made using my own homemade organic apple cider vinegar. So there's health cider, an infused apple cider vinegar, the apple cider vinegar mother, and a big batch of kombucha, as yet unflavored. All of these projects require patience, a substance most of you know I possess in short supply.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Aromatics & Books

I finished up a couple of new products in the past few days; a sweet amber creme, and a sweet amber beard and body oil. Next up, sweet amber solid parfum. The newest incense is drying nicely, though, by some estimations (mine), a little too slowly. Though with incense, especially compounded resin and Kyphi, the longer the 'fermentation', the better the result. I've given the new incense a name -- May Zahr -- and a rough estimate as to when it will be ready for the shop -- end of October. Ish.

So remember when I posted that I had begun a new incense book and I had initially wanted to create a booklet of recipes for the holidays? Remember I mentioned it had grown into something else? A monster book is on the way. And it may very well take two years to finish because a lot of hands-on research needs to go into it.

Here is a rough outline of the book as it sits today:



SECTION 1 ~ BASIC INFORMATION AND HISTORY
            Chapter 1 ~ The King of Incense ~ Kyphi
                        Types (Edfu, etc)
                        Syriac-Kupar
                        Modern Kyphi
            Chapter 2 ~ Historical Incenses
Japanese Incense
                        Chinese Incense
                        Tibetan Incense
                        Middle-Eastern Incense
                        Church Incense
                                    Greek Orthodox
                                    Catholic
                        African
                        East Indian
                        European
                                    North European
                                    Mediterranean
                                    Balkans
                                    The ‘Stans’
                                    (etc.)
                                    Russian
                        North American
                        South American
                        Australian
                        Islander
                        Indonesian

Chapter 3 ~ Resins & Gums
Frankincense (Ethereal)
            Dakkara (Boswellia neglecta) Ethiopia
            Hammaderoh (Boswellia elongate) Soquotra
            Hojari (Boswellia sacra) Oman
            Cricognimu (Boswellia dalzielii) Burkina Faso
            Maydi (Boswellia frereana)
            Salaai Gugul (Boswellia serrata) India
            Beyo (Boswellia carteri) Somalia
            Makker (Boswellia papyrifera) Ethiopia
            Zama’ano (Boswellia socotrana) Soqotra
            Matabut (Boswellia rivae) Ethiopia
            MORE . . .
                         
                        Myrrh  (Ethereal)
Habek Hadi (Commiphora guidotti) Ethiopia
Opoponax (Commiphora holziana) Kenya
Omumbungu (Commiphora kraeuseliana) Namibia
Echte Myrrh (Commiphora kua) Yemen
Molmol Myrrh (Commiphora molmol) Somalia
Guggul (Commiphora mukul) India
Yemeni Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha) Yemen
Omumgorwa (Commiphora tenuipetiolata) Namibia
Omumbiri (Commiphora wildii) Namibia
MORE . . .  

                        Gum Arabic
                        Gum Tragacanth
                        Damar
                        Benzoin
                        Amber
                        Ammoniacum
                        Acacia
                        Pine/spruce, etc.
                        Copal
                        Copaiba
                        Elemi
                        Asafetida
                        Galbanum
                        Balm of Gilead
                        Labdanum
                        Breu Claro/Breuzinho ~ brittle resin, Protium heptaphyllum, Brazil, used ceremonially and medicinally
                        Palm Resins ~
                                    Sandarac
                                    Mastic
                                    Dragon’s Blood
                        Balsams
                                    Balsam of Peru
                                    Balsam of Tolu
                                    Styrax
                                    Benzoin
                                   
            Chapter 4 ~ Herbs
            Chapter 5 ~ Leaves (gum leaves, monkey ball leaves aka liquidamber (American styrax), etc.)
            Chapter 6 ~ Spices
            Chapter 7 ~ Woods
            Chapter 8 ~ Animal derived (beeswax, honey, propolis, civet, ambergris, castoreum)
            Chapter 9 ~ Binders
                        Water
                        Wine
                        Sugars
                        Waxes


SECTION 2 ~ CREATING INCENSE
            Chapter 10 ~ Balancing Formulations
                        How much of what and techniques
                        Sticks – textural references
                        Cones – “ 
                        “Chips” – “ 
                        Loose powder – “ 
 


 It's a bit much, yeah? And that's just the beginning, I have reams of notes and research documentation, some sections already have information written in them, plus there's a Section #3, beginning with Chapter 11 which is entitled "Rites of Kyphi", and a Chapter 12, 13, and 14 all full with formulations for Kyphi, Syriac-Kupar, and other 'compounded' types of incense. I'm already feeling the typical emotions I get when beginning a new writing project -- exhileration and exhaustion. With a bit of bloodletting. And nausea. And repeatedly questioning my sanity.

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