Wednesday, March 29, 2017

John In The Wall

Life switches up on a dime. One minute you're minding your own business, sewing curtains or whatnot, and the next minute you're the bewildered 'grandma' of a new baby pig. A literal pig. "Meet Jake," she says, stuffing a cold black snout in my face. A. Pig.

There's been some speculation here at the daughter's new homestead that something is off. First, she claimed ghosts, now we're beginning to wonder if she's not too far off the mark. No one has had the courage to find out, but we must, and soon. There's a smell in this house that when traced to its source is found in the hallway under the heater in the closet, a crawly space that serves as the intake for both heat and air. It's an odd smell, not quite mold, and not quite poop, but somewhere in between, with a bit of rot and toe jam thrown in for 'flav'ah'. While the entire house appears sound (there are no water stains on the ceiling or crumbly walls), the closet which houses the heater tells another story -- one of dry rot and general abuse of sheetrock. It looks as if someone took a hacksaw to the closet ceiling (a dropped ceiling as the house doesn't have a proper attic space except for where the ducting resides in the hallway, bathrooms, and that nasty heater closet), and just ripped the thing to shreds in order to get a too-tall heater in with its piping. Below the heater is an elevated floor, and beneath that floor is the intake, where the scent of withered zombie emanates.

A few weeks ago, on one of the rainiest nights we've had this winter, a young man and his mother came to the door claiming to be the previous tenants. They asked if my daughter had received any mail for them, which she hadn't, and then the woman stated that her husband had passed away and things were crazy with life, and maybe some mail of hers had come to her old address, my daughter's current address. They didn't leave us a forwarding address, or even their names, as they walked away from the door in the dark and the rain. I thought nothing of this encounter until the weather began warming up and the smell in the hallway began to bloom. Then I remembered the woman saying her husband had died, but she didn't say where. I've been trying to get someone to open up that vent or check in the attic above the heater to get some idea what the stench might be, but so far everyone's poo-pooed my concerns. My son-in-law said he will wait until we move (within the next six weeks or so!) to call the landlord to check what's up with the stink. In the meantime, there could be body parts inside the walls and nobody but me seems to be the least bit concerned by it. Go light some incense, they say.

We now live with a pig, Jake, and Rotten John-In-The-Wall, whoever or whatever he may be. 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

I can feel it in my bones, the impending move. For giggles and grins today, me and two of my offspring drove through the new neighborhood to see how far along the homes are, and lo and behold! People are beginning to move in on the street over from ours! That means soon, folks. Very, very soon. It's hard to believe that less than four months ago our new 'house' was literally a dirt pile and today it is a house! A full on house, albeit without inside walls or toilets, but a recognizable house, nonetheless.

Today I've been spending a bit of time in the garage picking through incense materials and working on a loose incense project -- I know, I said it's difficult to do with the space restrictions and time and generally not having anything to inspire me to create, but this itch struck this morning while I was doing laundry, and again when I got the mail and in it was a wee package from a land far away -- frankincense seeds nestled in paper ready for the hazards of germination. Wish me luck. I hear it is notoriously difficult to germinate frankincense. All I need is lime, sand, and lava rock crushed to dust, a spray bottle, and the blessing of all the gods, and about 40 to 50 years of growth. Shouldn't be too difficult. Ha!

I have an enormous bag of balsam fir needles just yelping for some companions and a lighted charcoal. In fact, I'm burning some of the balsam fir with myrrh and previously distilled frankincense resin right now and it's quite frankly divine. It's put me in quite the uplifted mood, let me tell you. I'm thinking of soap with that black frankincense resin throughout, and perhaps a sprinkling of balsam fir and balsam fir absolute atop.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Another Rainy Day, and a Full Body Rash

So we're staying with my daughter until our house is built, and all of my studio stuff is in various and sundry boxes spread from one end of her garage to the other end of her garage, and a few boxes are MIA, which means they're at another one of my children's garages, that I feel like I'm spinning my wheels here getting nothing done because of space restrictions. I don't feel motivated to open and empty too many boxes because, in a month or two, I will be repacking those boxes to move. I've managed to locate most of the boxes with most of the things I normally sell on The Scented Djinn at Etsy, but I'm having zero luck creating anything new unless it's at the farm, and there are some temporary space restrictions there as well. I've also not been cooking much, one of my other great passions, for a few reasons. One, the stove here is electric and I have a hard time cooking on electric stoves, and two, there's no space make things. The stuff I love to cook and make, like bierocks, homemade pizza, enchiladas, marshmallows, bread, they all take up counter space, and there just isn't any here. It's a wee cottage of a house, cute as a bug's ear, but not for someone like me unless some major kitchen remodeling is done. I'm really feeling the short-timers fiercely. I cannot wait to get into my own place again.

This area has an annual clean-up-your-junk garbage pick up where you can get rid of your old appliances, furniture, and general junk, so my daughter and her husband cleaned their junk out of the garage, as well as a few pieces of furniture of mine that did not pass the test of time in a leaky garage, which led to her husband getting a severe allergic reaction. The cause is all speculation, of course, but my feeling is that he moved a box of eo's of mine in which something leaked and got on his skin resulting in a full-body rash that required a visit to the ER, a megadose of Benadryl, and a handful of Epi-Pens to take home.  I could be entirely wrong on the eo's. I don't know what else he's been doing, eating a new food or using a new body wash, I just found the timing of the rash fit perfectly with the garage cleaning. He's okay now, thank heavens. This demonstrates the need to get my stuff out of here, inventoried, and then safely stored. Besides, when they "clean" the garage and move all my things, they're like baboons looking for food, pushing and shoving and dropping and smashing everything in their path. I'm not surprised I lost furniture given their propensity to uncover the covered and stomp around on top of boxes clearly marked "do not crush".

With the house nearly done, we've been doing a lot of window shopping for things like washers and dryers, curtains, ceiling fans, chandeliers, cabinet and drawer knobs, and things that are both functional and reflect our eclectic tastes.  We've also been looking at and "collecting" more art for the house. I was at a discount home goods store the other day and found 10 gorgeous Moroccan tea glasses for less than half the cost of what I'd been finding them everywhere else. I love my Moroccan tea and it just doesn't taste the same in a regular old teacup. I bought a couple of prints from Harold Roth that I feel would fit perfectly in the Plum Palace. There are a few new things stashed here and there, but for the most part, it's all seeking out and making a mental record for when we are in the house. As I said, space here is restricted.

We go to the house on Monday for a pre-drywall inspection. Can't wait.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Chapman Plan B

It's raining and things are on hold at the farm. There's just too much to do to have a deadline for opening the shop and farm, so we're going to wait until we have things set up and ready before setting the date again. Today is a shop day. We'll be working to get things in order in there. Forward motion, always.

I'm getting the final submissions in from the perfumery students at the Natural Perfume Academy, and I must say that these perfumers are pretty good already. They are thinking outside of the box and putting in a lot of effort to formulate cohesive and harmonized scents. I'm so proud of them all! When I work on their evaluations, I feel guilty that I'm not working so diligently on my own formulations. I think to get more deeply into it, I'm going to work on formulas I've already created, like Sahar, and perhaps tweak and twist until I get something much more beautiful -- though, Sahar won a blogger's choice award a few years back as-is. I think a less sweet version of Atay, and an exact duplicate of Jamaal are in order as well. It requires space and that's being worked on as well, in the Plum Palace.

It's coming along, our new house, but with this new spot of rain which is to last for a few days, things will be delayed -- again. The electric is finally in, and the outside of the house is being prepped for stucco, all the windows are installed, and the plumbing, air vents, AC lines, etc., so the guts of the house are there. Because we are gluttons for punishment, we spent a good deal of time Sunday looking at other model homes and came to the conclusion that our house was made of better stuff. One model home we looked at had trim in the kitchen area that was broken off, and when I picked up the broken piece and tried to refit it, I noticed that there were several nails in it and the wood that it attached to, and I saw the reason why it kept falling off -- the wood that made up the counter was not cut but torn, as if someone had set it up against a rock and stomped it to break it in half. It was that jagged, uneven piece that they tried nailing the trim. That was never going to work. Plus the cabinets and countertops were made of the cheapest materials they could get. And the homes were about $50,000 more than ours for less square footage. One set of models was made of nicer stuff than our house, but they cost more, and they were being built by the same developer as our house. Speaking of which, when we went to the model of the Plum Palace, we noticed the decorators were there in the back resetting the patio furniture and changing out cushions and whatnot. One of the decorators came in when he noticed we were talking about the upgrades we were going to do with the house on our own, and he said we were right on track with that idea. Why pay the installer all that money when you can have it done by yourself after you buy the house and pay two-thirds less for it? We all agreed it was a good idea. How do you like the house, he asked? And we told him we were having one built and were over the moon about it. Then he asked, "What's your name?" and extended his hand. I took it, told him my name, and then he said, "I'm XXX XXXXXX, good to meet you." He was the developer -- the builder of our home! He was incognito for the first few minutes of our conversation to get a feel for what we thought of his houses. I took it as a sign our home is going to be a good one when the guy building it takes a personal interest in how the models are decorated, and, more importantly, that he thinks it's a good idea to make upgrades after the home is in the owner's possession. He also told us a lot about the appliances that come with the house, which was nice.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Back Out On the Farm

Things are rolling once again on the farm. All of the hyacinths bloomed and have been picked and are stewing in coconut oil for next season's extract. The calendula is really popping and throwing off flower buds for delicious skin-loving potions. We've been planting seeds to grow some seriously witchy herbs, like rue (which are starting off their germination in the refrigerator), elfwort, mugwort, sweet william, black-seeded poppy, black hollyhock (which I'm SUPER excited about), and various other medicinal and magical herbs. We also planted seeds for a seriously well-rounded vegetable garden -- dill, basil (two types), tomatoes, rainbow carrots, several types of cucumber, beets, peppers, cabbage, lettuces, mustard -- you name it. Later this week and into the coming weeks we'll be planting more and more as seeds and plants we've ordered come pouring in. We also planted lavender in the Four Points Garden. When we first broke ground in the spot that we call the Four Points Garden, it was nothing more than a flat expanse of freshly plowed earth. I think if you come out to visit on the 26th of March for the grand opening, you'll be surprised with what's been done there. Prior to the plowing, there was a travel trailer, two large car canopies, and a mound of chipped mulch where the FPG now resides. It's an amazing transformation. Plus the gardens themselves have been transformed. We have a row of table grapes and Oregon grape and blueberries and boysenberry and in between each large plant is a creeping strawberry plant -- this was fallow ground two months ago, and all the plants dormant, but now they're just bursting! Even our wee hops plant has shown signs of life just as we were wondering if it had gone to green heaven. It's all coming together.

Yesterday my kids surprised me with a trip to Murphys, CA. I haven't been there in over five years and I really missed the place. We did a little wine tasting, got a little tipsy, bought a few bottles of wine, ate a great dinner at the Fire Wood restaurant, and then brought our tired bums home. It was a nice, easy, relaxed mini-vacation that really lifted my spirits.

I've begun burning frankincense again for the purpose of mental health. I found that I had gotten away from my daily doses and was feeling the difference in a big way. I was becoming easily stressed out, snappy with the grandbabies, slightly depressed and completely off-balance. I've been burning for three days now and I'm back to my old self. Who needs valium when there's frankincense to burn? Well, some people do, but not me.

Friday, March 10, 2017


I've been feeling a bit of melancholy the last few days. The fervor and frenzy on the farm have slowed as we wait on a few major projects there that need to be done before we continue and also waiting on seeds for germination to arrive in the mail. It's a case of hurry-up-and-wait at the moment. We were forced to move the opening date from this Sunday, March 12th, to March 26th because of delays. A lot of work has been done, it just turned out to be a much larger project than anticipated when we set the opening date for the Farm/Shop. Plus the elderberry bushes we planted in the Four Points Garden were killed by a brief night of frost last week. We potted up a lot of bamboos and only a fraction of those have made it. This is all normal stuff for a gardener, but it is a bit disheartening to see some of your hard work take a dump in a pile of fallen leaves and wormy soil. But there are the seeds coming, and in a few weeks the vegetable garden will get set up and we'll have tomatoes and peppers and cukes and other delicious food to care for in the coming months. Forward progression, however slow, is better than no progression.

It's just been a bummer of a week.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Home & Garden Show

Normally these home and garden shows aren't my cups of tea, but this time around (the 31st if we are to believe the advertisers), I put on my long-sleeved shirt and gardening hat and bore the teeming masses of folks who went to see that treehouse guy, Pete something. No, I didn't go see him, y'know, because of those masses, but I did at least a 10-mile walkabout in and out of exhibit buildings and over the roasting asphalt to see what kinds of things we can do at both the farm and the Plum Palace. My favorite exhibits were the plants and the antiques. The rest of the show was a repetition of solar panels, outdoor grills, metal yard art, and salesmen of every ilk forcing exhibitions of dog hair gobbling brooms and knives that cut through rocks down our throats, and, of course, fried twinkies. There were also soap and lotion booths that seemed out of place, and jewelers and other things that just didn't seem to fit the prevailing garden theme at the 'home and garden' show. One heirloom seed salesman commented that it was his first time ever at this show as his farm in Half Moon Bay was flooded and he had nothing better to do this weekend. His seed offerings were great and I plan on ordering a few of his beans to plant -- purple beans -- ha!

We also took a ride over to the Plum Palace to see what progress has been made since the weather's gone from monsoonal to spring cool, clear, and breezy. I've been driving by at least once a week after hours to see what's been going on with it, and from the curb, it looks like nothing. The only visible change was that the roof now has bundles of Spanish tiles on it. Yesterday, we got out of the car (something I had been told by security NOT to do without permission from the builder, which we got) and strolled in. Apparently, they've been busy as bees in there. All of the plumbing is in -- the sprinkler systems, the sewage lines, the water lines, the AC lines, the valves and hoozits, and the showers and tubs. So there has been some progress, but the PP and the bigger house next door are the only ones on the block without stucco and, well, walls. We met our new neighbors, Victor and Angela, who were out looking at their home, which had only the foundation framed and isn't expected to be occupied until sometime in July or August. We also spoke to the builder's rep and she said that all of the houses being built were now on the fast track since the weather dried up, which mean the weekly visits will reveal big changes, and most of the promised move-in dates would still hold. Ours is April/May -- the wee one predicted April 14th, but given the current status of the Plum Palace, I am more than doubtful. All I can say is moving day can't come soon enough.

It's another beautiful sunny late winter day and I'm champing at the bit to get out to the farm and put some things in order. I ordered several packets of witching herbs' seeds (mugwort, elfwort, vervain, yarrow, black cornflower, black viola, black hollyhock -- you get the idea), among other medicinal herbs, to have a nice stock of out of the ordinary herbs for the farm nursery. At some point, once we get a greenhouse going, I may donate a couple of patchouli bushes, and in the field try my hand at frankincense trees. All in good time.


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