Sunday, October 29, 2017

Weekend Walkabout: Only a Few Years Ago

What a difference a mere handful of years can make in the 21st century on Earth. Here are a few photos from my island "back then":
The Always Charming Florida Marsh Rabbit, MRobb

Florida Dunes in Bloom, MRobb
The Florida Marsh Rabbits and nearly all the flowers are gone now after being Cuisinarted by 2 strong hurricanes. I do not think they will return. Of course, a friend of mine who's been here longer than I have reminded me that my island is a human-created dune. It's only existed for a handful of decades-- so is its return to the sea less sad because of that? I miss the way it used to be, even if that was only the bat of an eyelash in Gaia-time.

Sometimes I feel that when I'm uploading these images to Google, I'm uploading images of our fragile, changing world to the New Virtual Ark. Will Google's AI find them interesting enough to preserve? Will Google's AI survive on a planet where humans cannot? I don't know! And I do remain optimistic, which is perhaps silly at this point, but we've come through crises before. Still, I do feel like uploading some more photos of my little island each week....

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Perfume Post: That Which Survives (Hurricanes and Heat)

Perfumistas like me often debate the ideal conditions for perfume longevity. What precise temperature and level of humidity is optimum? Well, I can tell you what temperature and humidity is not at all optimum....
Hurricane Weather.
Hurricane Weather, MRobb
I've gone through what I call Speed Prioritizing My Life twice in a year, first for Hurricane Matthew, then for Hurricane Irma. In both cases, I had to leave my home and was told that, due to storm surge, I might never see my home or neighborhood again. In both cases I got to return to a damaged, but habitable, abode. Did my perfume collection suffer? OK, that sounds like the most trivial silliness, and on one level, it is. But most of us have collections, and all of us have possessions that just, for no logical reason, make us happy. My perfume collection and tiny perfumery lab has been a sanity keeper for decades.
A few of my lab creations.
So...civil and military authorities are telling you to get out NOW. You have a couple of cars in reasonable shape, some gas in the tank, a family, probably pets, and a whole bunch of Stuff. What do you take with you???

This is why I call it Speed Prioritizing Your Life, and it happens for anyone dealing with a natural disaster, like hurricanes, fires, tsunamis. Earthquakes, you don't get any warning, so they don't count.

Here's what I took for Irma: Sauf Contre Bombarde 32, possibly the finest incense perfume ever created, L'Artisan Parfumeur Traversee du Bosphore, because it's immensely comforting, and there is a charming family story connected to its creation, and Ormonde Jayne Champaca, because I'm nuts for that one, and a bottle of Angel that one of my children gifted to me in London, again, connected to a lovely family story. Those were all I had room for. I couldn't take my scent library or anything from my lab, except for my book of formulae for perfumes I've come up with over the years. Oh, wait, I took a bottle of frankincense eo, because I'm a Frank Nut.

We had all agreed, if the storm surge was severe and our homes and boxes of Stuff headed out into the Atlantic, we'd have a beach salvage party afterwards. Would I find some of my collection out there in the waves? It was a pretty funny image!
OK, Guys, where's my Stuff???

So as it turned out, my home was sort of OK. But with a third of it blasted out, and none of it with A/C for awhile, in days of tropical heat and humidity, the collection did indeed take a hit. What died?

Pretty much anything with natural citrus or florals. Toast. Gross, nasty, burnt and moldy toast. Thrown out with the furniture and drywall. What survived?

Everything based on resins and spices. Not surprising, because these have been used since ancient times to preserve. In Egypt, preservation of the dead for millenia was managed with these fragrant substances. So they are fine. I'm wearing them.

Lots of synthetics like the woody-ambers and the musks were also fine. I think they'll be in our ecosystem, intact, for millenia! Whether that is a good or bad thing is left to be discovered....

Pondering an Uncertain Future....



Thursday, October 19, 2017

Who Will Give a Bug a Hug? (and plant native plants)

Thrips, yeek. Aphids, yuck. Bees, get hugs, wasps, too, even, well, a mental hug. Spiders are groovy. And OK, ladybugs eat aphids, and I love ladybugs, so I guess some aphids are OK. Some beneficial probably eats thrips, too.

And there are so many beneficial insect species on this planet, some we haven't even identified yet. And they are leaving! As I've said before, humans are insuring that this is the Age of Loneliness....
Humans Alone in a Dreary World?
Just because we CAN spray more pesticides doesn't mean we SHOULD. Just because we CAN build another minimall or parking lot doesn't mean we SHOULD.  When we do these things, we lose insects, the very base of the food web, and our crucial pollinators. The BBC has an alarming story which SHOULD keep us all awake at night:

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-41670472

And of course, the birds and amphibians are leaving, too. Ditto non-human mammals. What kind of planet are we making?? Do you want your kids to live in such a world? I sure don't. Can we convince the Captains of Industry, the One Percenters, that they don't want to live on a barren planet, either, assuming anyone can live on a barren rock...?

On a personal, homey level, this is the time to plant insect-friendly gardens. Bring back our butterflies and moths, our bees and wasps, our beetles and mayflies. My garden got trashed (again) by a hurricane this year, but as soon as hurricane season is over, I'm off to my Native Plant Nursery and I will rebuild. Even if it lasts only a matter of months before it's smashed by the next hurricane, it will give a welcome home to some lonely bugs. How about you?

Will you give a bug a hug??

Fairchild Tropical Gardens, Miami, Florida: home to many insects.

The Rare and Exquisite Cannonball Tree, which loves bugs.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Hurricane Irma: That Which Survives

I'm referencing a classic Star Trek episode because I did think that my garden, post Irma, was like Losira, just a scary zombie. I'm glad to say I've been proven wrong. Some plants survive. But what exactly did they survive?
Irma approaches Florida courtesy of Slate
Category 3 winds for many hours. 15 inches of rain. Salt spray for 36 hours. Most of my garden was pretzelized, brown and twisted beyond recognition. I didn't have the heart to photograph it. It was just plant carnage. (Not gonna talk about my house! It's semi-habitable.)

But almost 3 weeks later, these plants are trying hard to survive. Here's the list of which plants are doing their best to keep going:

1. Schefflera- considered pests in many areas, these trees just can't be kept down! I am very fond of them at this point. No one touches my Scheffleras!
2. Tillies. Yup, I was right to say Tillies are the future. They were blown all over the place, but they are still growing and thriving, even after tornadoes and a Cat 3. Here's one I found upside down in a flower pot:
If Harvey, Irma, and Maria are harbingers of the superstorms of our future, Tillies are ready to meet the challenge.

3. Sansevieria, superstrong, supertough, nothing can knock these guys out!
4. Texas Buttonwood. This tree was a gorgeous creature, lush and 12 feet tall, and harbored many reptiles and cottontail rabbits. It was pretzelized by Irma, but it's trying to come back. I've been giving it Reiki and water with dilute fertilizer daily. It's trying!
Two hurricanes in less than a year. And we are much more fortunate than so many of our neighbors to the north, south, east, and west. This is climate change, as hurricanes have a mission to move excess heat from the tropics poleward. And we have a lot more heat to move these days. That means there will be more of these superstorms until we get this mess cleaned up ourselves, if we can, and I think we can. I'm scared about the future, but I think we have an opportunity here to make it better. No politics here, just real experience. Blessings and peace, everyone!






Sunday, September 24, 2017

Hit Hard By Hurricane Irma. Will Post Again Soon!

Two hurricanes in less than one year, I'm really tired. My outdoor garden is now a blasted heath, worse than after Hurricane Matthew. My house is having extensive repairs done. I'll post when I can!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Late Weekend Walkabout: Tropical Storm Emily

Such a pretty name for a storm, and thankfully, very pretty and helpful for us. (For western Florida, not so much, lots of people trapped by floods.)

 But there was a beautiful sunset and some much needed rain from surprise Tropical Storm Emily on my sand dune yesterday:
Tropical Storm Emily: MRobb, 2017

It's nice when a tropical cyclone is a good thing, isn't it? Hope you all had beautiful weekend walkabouts.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Perfume Post: What is an Oriental Perfume? And Why Do I Have So Many???

So here I was thinking I was much more into green, herbal thingies. Right. I'm not big on florals, but I do own quite a few, not big on roses but I own at least 3, etc., etc.. One thing I was quite clear on is that, living in the Tropics, I do not love Oriental Perfumes. Nope, not me, not a bit.
She likes oriental perfumes...a bit.
Well, maybe a little....
I did live in very cold climates for years. That's my excuse and I'm sticking with it.
Dolomiti, MRobb, 2015

So what makes an oriental perfume an oriental? There's a great discussion for those who really want to get into it on Basenotes:

http://www.basenotes.net/threads/237169-What-exactly-makes-an-quot-oriental-quot-perfume

Generally speaking, three vital ingredients are vanilla or vanillin, labdanum (rock rose resin), and benzoin. Patchouli or sandalwood are usually considered the fourth vital ingredient. They are meant to be warm and rich, perhaps also spicy. They are generally considered good perfumes for winter, or cozy evenings spent with significant others. They conjure the boudoir and the hamam. Guerlain's Shalimar is usually spoken of first, but weirdly, I can't stand Shalimar (it's lovely, just can't bear it). I do, however, own several versions of Guerlain's Samsara, and wear it often, particularly its lightest version, Samsara Shine. The heaviest oriental I've ever worn is Serge Lutens' Ambre Sultan. It is actually quite amazing, practically psychedelic, worn in very hot weather. Might injure bystanders, though.

Orientals typically overlap with gourmands, incense 'fumes, and florientals. Gourmands just smell more gustatory, though where the line is drawn depends on the sniffer. Florientals emphasize, well, flowers. Incense fumes are based on frankincense, but often have hefty doses of vanilla, benzoin, and labdanum, so they're in the club.

Some of the orientals that I wear frequently, even in the heat, are Lalique's Le Parfum, L'Artisan Parfumeur's Safran Troublant, Guerlain's Samsara Shine, and Sonia Rykiel's Woman (original). I wear incense frags constantly, and make my own, as I am basically addicted to frankincense at this point, and labdanum follows close on Frank's heels.


Orientals have not been fashionable for some time, but I guess I really do love them. If you've never tried an oriental perfume, do try one before going to sleep, at the very least. And try it again before a cuddly interlude. I think you'll agree, there's nothing else like them!