Friday, October 30, 2009


Crispness in the air, wonderful recipes for roast and baked comfort foods retrieved, the last madness of canning for this year (I think... who knows? I may go madder yet.) It must be October.

Fall is my favorite season, and not just because I was born in the fall. I love the tinted leaves that crackle on the ground. I love the mornings snuggling under the covers and dreading the cold floors of the kitchen and bathroom. I love the wild migration of my beloved waterfowl straggling across the sky. I love the ripe, rich apples and fragrant pumpkins. Even though the days are shorter, they are tinted with an intensity that is, to me, filled with raucous joy.

And, of course, this is when "Phoebe" the hummingbird always sets up her nest. The view is better than ever this year. Go see her new camera.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Laugh at something baffling today.

Not the most scientific source, but hey, she cited HER sources. This little article on Hillbilly Housewife explains why a good belly laugh can be better for you even than smiling at something that gives you pleasure.

Evidently it works better if your brain has to work at it. It's also supposed to work better when there are not deep, sad connections to your own life, but I have had really good results from laughing -- deeply, unkindly, and with unholy gusto -- at my own misfortunes and idiocies. So don't hesitate to crack wise (among the right people, of course) about your own sorrows, if you can and are so inclined.

I am not seeking sympathy, and don't want to appall those of you with tender sweetness in your brains, so I will withhold my most recent hyena-giggles. However... I have never gotten such a good laugh from my mom as several years ago, when I shocked myself unconscious by putting a wet sponge between one hand and an electrical outlet and my other hand in the stainless steel sink and called mom to ask her if I'd die when I woke up. The electricity blew an exit wound in my hand and stopped my heart for a moment, and I woke up feeling kind of lousy and hella stupid. Thing is, I had decided that I should not touch the outlet to wash it with my hand, because it was, you know, electric; instead, I decided to put the sponge between me and it because it was rubber and thus non-conductive. So I dipped it in the tap to get it WET, and...

Mom hung up on me because she was laughing so hard she dropped the cell phone in her lap (she was driving, this was years ago before we all knew how dangerous it is). Then I called back again, got my grandmother in the passenger seat, with my mom shrieking laughter in the background. Grandma laughed so hard she hung up, too. On the third call they managed to tell me to call the E.R. and ask a nurse if I was in danger (my heart was hammering).

The E.R. nurse, with perfect Chicago south-side aplomb, listened to me with sympathy. She told me that if I felt WORSE I should come in, but probably if I was doing all right I would be okay. As I was going to hang up the phone, she told me, "Now, Linda, sweetie -- listen to me. Are you listening, honey? Don't you EVER do that again."

And you know, years later I find it hilarious. Heck, it was pretty funny then and there. Whether it has healed more pain than it caused, well, who knows? But Mom and Grandma got a really good laugh together at it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Going bonkers on fumes and deadlines

I'm getting bottles of perfume ready to offer for two charity sales: one is the Christmas bazaar for which I am donating 10% of my proceeds to help local school theater departments (not my brainchild, unfortunately, I am just a participant!) The other is a fundraising silent auction for my local UU church, for which I am donating a bottle. Because it's not just me noodling around, I am actually sticking to a deadline. But also, I am feeling deadline pressure.

I am doing something like 35-45 bottles for sale/auction/donation. I know that sounds like very few to market, but when all aspects are handmade, it becomes an energizing, but daunting, project. It's a great size for a pilot offering because ... well, if I can be honest, because I HAD ENOUGH MATERIALS to make JUST this much. When I do another "big" batch of pretty much anything, it will require a reorder of aromatics.

I cut the dip tubes for the sprayers today. Lordy! It's nervewracking but not particularly difficult. I also mixed up another "big" batch of concentrate, to be diluted tomorrow or Thursday and bottled ... well, let's face it, probably Monday.

High on fumes. I hate all three scents that I am offering right now, because they get in your pores/hair/brain/memory when you mix over, say, 1 oz. of them, and become phantosmic impressions for later, too. That thing they say about familiarity and contempt? Oh yesssss. But I know I will love all three of them again. Just as soon as I "etch-a-sketch" them out of my sinuses and scent memory. (Shake, shake, shake that head!)

I will be offering these fragrances:

1) North Star -- my 2009 holiday scent. It is based on scents I associate with the sacred and the holidays: frankincense and myrrh from the Wise Men's gifts, spikenard (the precious oil with which Mary Magdalen washed Jesus' feet), fir balsam for the holiday scent of the tree, and other warm, luminous components, such as spices and precious resins. The effect is of cozy, lingering warmth.

2) Faun -- a playful, feral, and green fragrance that recalls the undergrowth of the redwood forest at Big Sur. Spicy, smoky woods and wild greens are lightened by the unexpected aura of sweet mint. The whole effect is both bright and sensual.

3) (I need a name for this one!) -- the familiar, happy smell of root beer. Alive at first with citrus and birch, and drying down to a creamy, vanillic spice scent -- just like good root beer. (Who wants to help name this? I am trying for names that recall stories or mythic creatures/personages, and am toying with the idea of "Inner Child" as a name... but is that too corny?)

Nothing in particular other than excitement to share... cutting dip tubes felt like a huge step.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Synthetic aromachemicals

Spent a happy hour and a half or so this afternoon diluting powdered chemicals so that I can use them later. Most of them are vanilla-esque because, shhh, I am trying to create a lush vanilla fragrance for Mom for Christmas.

Heavenly. I suppose I should have worn a face mask, especially for mildly toxic Coumarin, but I would have missed out on the love.

Vanillin - pure, sweet, piercing vanilla without its woody/boozy aspects. Ethyl vanillin is the same with additional depth, according to Pat -- I was nasally stunned by the time I got to it and could not detect much difference. Coumarin - like tonka beans, rich and sweet, somehow creamy-dreamy. Heliotropin - I know a lot of people hate this vanilla/almond/cherry pie aroma, but I think it's beautiful. Ethyl Maltol - perfumistas almost universally revile its cotton-candy sweetness, but it is precisely its beauty that gets it included in every juvenile-market and celebrity vanity scent out there... it's an olfactory trip to the ice-cream shop, surrounded by heady heaven. And Cetalox... look, it's not a foody vanilla scent like the others, it's an unabashedly synthetic cedar/violet/plum scent that is ravishingly pretty and I am thinking very versatile.

I have a number of liquid aromachemicals too from this order... those were just the powders that required muscling into an alcohol dilution this afternoon.

I am on a vanilla scented cotton candy cloud. Don't be hating -- you know you're jealous.

So, here's a filled bottle (filled with Faun, the scent I did for my brother -- an earthy, masculine fragrance lightened with mint) and a mock-up box. Not bad, eh?

Lots of work to do. :)