Sunday, February 19, 2017

Perfume Post: Gaultier Classique vs. Classique Intense

"This smells like my grandmother!" That's what my DH said when he first smelled Gaultier's Classique, from 1993 by Jacques Cavallier. Now my DH is from Eastern Europe, and he means this phrase as a high compliment. Florientals were well made and worn with pride: his grandma smelled good!
In fact, Cavallier designed Classique with his own grandmother in mind:

"One part dusty loose powder, like my grandmother wore -- I think it was old Coty; one part that smell you get when you are sitting in the front row of the theater -- for me, I think of going to The Chatelet when I was 12, and the curtain goes up, and the hot lights are on the costumes, wigs and sets, and you breathe it all in. And, just to be modern, one part nail polish remover!"

Yup, that nail polish remover bit makes you think the perfume's gone off, but don't worry, it hasn't. This is the perfume that Rita Hayworth could have worn in "Cover Girl" with Gene Kelly in 1944.

Then, suddenly, it was the new millenium, and time for an update. Francis Kurkdjian redesigned it in 2014, and Classique Intense was born. He said it was 40% the old Classique (classic Classique??) and 60% his own stuff. The result? Well, I love them both. The original feels retro and comforting. The Intense, very light and, though the word is now a cliche in perfumery, solar. It really feels like the most intense sort of golden light is permeating my skin. Great for mornings when I have a new project going and need to be totally focused. Flankers don't usually add much to the olfactory conversation but Classique/Classique Intense is an exception you should really seek out!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Weekend Walkabout: Infrared Beach and an Owl Cactus???

Well, yeah, it's been a little weird here, I guess. But fear not, I always share the fun.
Conversing, MRobb, mixed media

 Back in the Jurassic when cameras were manually controlled and film was actually made of stuff that you had to develop and print with other stuff, I loved to shoot in infrared. Ordinary scenes (which of course, were never ordinary, I was just used to them) turned sort of...mythical. So I was delighted to learn how to create infrared photographs, digitally. Here is my beach with our handsome terns, beloved winter visitors:
Terns on the Beach, MRobb, 2017
And here's what the scene looks like without all the high-tech tinkering:
Terns 2017
I really love their sassy orange beaks, and little black head tufts...!
In addition to all this, my Mammillaria is still blooming, after many months. Why? I do not know. She tries on different looks. This week, she is clearly an owl:
Mammillaria Owl Cactus, MRobb, 2017
Can a cactus be a frustrated actor? What do you think?

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Weekend Walkabout: Let's Visit the Ant Farm!

Thanks to Alert Gardener Jim from Florida, we are going to learn more about ants today than might make us comfortable:

Hello, fellow gardeners! We all know about ants herding and tending aphids for their nectar. This work demonstrates that ants actively cultivate a supportive, growth-friendly ecosystem for six different species of epiphytic plants in Fiji. The ants manage the growing conditions, disperse the cultivated plants' seeds, and pollinate their flowers. The ants then eat the fruits from their gardens.

Pretty remarkable considering that H. sapiens only mastered the technique about 13,000 years ago!

Ants farming plants     Sacha Vignieri  Science  11/25/16 

Mutualistic interactions between ants and plants are relatively common, most often occurring in plants that produce specific structures for ant occupation. A relationship that more closely approximates farming occurs between ants and fungi, in which ants actively create growing conditions for and propagate the fungal partner. Chomicki and Renner now describe a system in Fiji in which ants in the genus Philidris conduct such gardening activities in six different species of epiphytic plants, often simultaneously. Specifically, they not only manage growing conditions but also disperse and plant seeds and pollinate flowers. This more intensive management helps to ensure reestablishment of plants that provide fruits and resources to the ants and that might otherwise be harder to come by.       Nat. Plants 10.1038/nplants.2016.181 (2016).
Tillies Living Free and in the Wild, MRobb, 2014

Some of my Tillies only do well if they are outside attracting ants. Some do well inside, but only start to pup if they are outside, full of ants! Are the ants bringing them needed nutrition, or are those tickly little feet a signal that it's time to start reproducing? I'd sure like to know, and I'd like to know what that swarm of black ants was doing near my living room window yesterday....
C. Addams from Monster Rally: "Goodness, Murray, it wouldn't be a picnic without ants!"
Have a wonderful weekend walkabout, and be careful what, or who, you step on!


Saturday, February 4, 2017

February Perfume Post: Kenzo Flower and Olympic Orchids Sakura

There's a lot to be said about perfumes that smell nothing like anything in nature. At least, those that work. A hot synthetic mess is no fun to wear and even less fun to smell. But when "unearthly" or "unreal" is part of the brief, some amazing perfumes are born. I'm looking at you, Mugler Cologne! My favorite "unreal" perfume is Kenzo Flower, which is based on an imagined flower that links nature with urbanity:
My Kenzo Flower Collection (bottles mostly empty now)
Alberto Morillas designed Flower in 2000, and as you can see, there are many flankers available, and yup, I've pretty much tried them all, and bought most. Flower smells nothing like an actual flower, though notes of violet and rose are mentioned. It's a synthetic wonder.

There is as much, or more, to be said of perfumes that conjure up a piece of Gaia in her entirety. The designer does not need to use only naturals for this, but must be intimately familiar with the territory she/he wishes to evoke in scent. My favorite indie perfumer, Ellen Covey, excels at this art. Her perfumes can create utterly realistic "scent scenes" and "scents of place". Dr. Covey is also an Alert Gardener, primarily of orchids, and she knows her plants! The Olympic Orchids perfume I am reaching for almost daily this winter is Sakura, an ode to cherry trees in bloom. Not just the flowers, the whole bloomin' orchard, dirt included!
Cherry Trees, MRobb, 2015, mixed media
Cherry blossom perfumes are a staple of late winter and early spring in Europe and Asia. Even the most renowned don't smell much like actual cherry blossoms, and they certainly don't smell anything like the trees themselves, or the ground they grow in! Dr. Covey has included accords for every aspect of a cherry orchard in bloom, and I can attest to its realism. It's a springy heaven for a gloomy winter, and I'm charmed and amazed a perfumer can create such a realistic tableau. Great work!
Olympic Orchids Sakura, photo by MRobb, 2017
If you want to read more about Kenzo Flower or Olympic Orchids Sakura, here are the links:

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Goodbye, Crazy 2016, and Hello 2017!

2016 was one crazy year. For quiet gardeners like you and me, even. Just a few highlights from the garden:

Unprecedented heat. Exceptional aridity. In March, the worst toxic algae event on our river in remembered history. It killed every living thing in the river, and poisoned many of the inhabitants who lived on its shores, including me. I won't show a picture, too heartbreaking.

Then TS Hermine. TS Julia. Hurricane Matthew. And much worse for people living on the islands, especially Haiti and Cuba, and for the Carolinas, Georgia, and Louisiana, than for us here on our sand dune.
TS Hermine approaches.
Munin and Hugin, Fish Crows In Residence
Horseshoe crab in the garden after Hurricane Matthew.
After Matthew roared by (thank you for that wobble!!) the sun came back, the air was cleaner than it's been in years, and I found wonderful paintings by Andy Lakey. Finally, rebuilding it all.  That's some gardening year....
Andy Lakey's cheerful "Brilliant Nature" painting.
Related to gardening, because the garden is probably where we met some bad mosquitoes, Zika Virus roared through my family, turning us into scarlet-speckled aliens with bright red eyes. Not a pleasant disease, but again, much worse for those who were starting or building their families. We lost several beloved family members in 2016 also. We know they're in a good place, but we miss them terribly.
Sooo, with all that in mind, I set to painting my annual New Year watercolor. This one is more subdued than usual, but I like it- It's called "Angels, Blue and Green"- Here's to a peaceful 2017 full of growth and joy!
New Year 2017: Angels in Blue and Green- MRobb

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Bloomin' Schwantesia and a New Soul Window

So just before the sun illuminates this little Schwantesia, the bud of its single flower is still closed- most photos show the full bloom, but here it is in the moments just before....
Schwantesia ready to bloom at dawn, and a Soul Hand. MRobb 2016
And behind the little mesemb is one of my new Soul Windows; I've done several hands now, this is the Night Hand, I'll show the Day Hand later (too lazy to photograph it!). On the right is a bowed psaltery by James Jones. I'm learning to play it, gorgeous sound!

Have a wonderful holiday!

Friday, December 23, 2016

It's the Bloomin' Holidays Again!

Yup, it's winter, and that's when Mammillaria and some mesembs love to bloom. Both have already bloomed this year (Mammillaria all the time, it seems, and Schwantesia in April). They just can't help it! Several orchids just finished blooming, too.

Mammillaria blooms again in winter, now you can see the "crown"!
This winter I've been in my studio making stoneware "fairy doors" and windows for outdoor gardens. They are attached to trees (these will be attached to aspens), in order to invite the Fairy/Faerie Folk to live in the garden. Lovely idea!

Fairy Doors and Windows, glazed stoneware, MRobb, 2016
And of course, to accommodate my ever-growing, ever-pupping garden o' Tillies, I've been making more Tillie Trays, also:
Maya Blue glazed Earthenware Tillie Trays, MRobb, 2016
I wish you all a very happy winter holiday and a creative, lushly growing New Year!