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!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

A New Cactus Joins the Group: Astrophytum ornatum

I haven't acquired any new cacti for a couple of years. I tried, several years ago, to grow the spectacular Astrophytum from seed- they didn't even germinate. They are notoriously hard to grow from seed I know, but still, I've grown Lithops from seed, so I did have some hope. Ah well.
Growing Lithops From Seed
Astrophytum are also known as Star Cacti, and they are simply gorgeous creatures. So I was thrilled to find one at, of all places, Lowes, a big box store.
Look what I found!
I like how the nursery makes a little basket pot so it's easy to transport your new cactus, injury-free. Great idea! And now, a closeup:
Astrophytum ornatum
Astrophytum ornatum is the largest of the Astrophytums (or is that Astrophyti??). It's a native of Mexico and can grow about 12 cm wide and 1 meter tall! Of course, that takes a long, long time. Yellow flowers arrive in summer. The white flecks on the stem are unique to this genus. They can tolerate high temperatures and high levels of sunlight, and are somewhat frost-tolerant. Water sparingly, as this genus is very prone to root rot. I'll be keeping mine indoors, as we get flooding rains on a frequent basis here.



Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Weekend Walkabout: It's So Hot!!

It's too hot for a Weekend Walkabout anywhere but in the house. Summers keep getting hotter and hotter. We have less of our old, daily, polite rains. Now we get nothing for weeks at a time, then a monsoon that causes floods. It doesn't cool off at night anymore, and we are literally dependent on our air conditioners. Scary. Our Avian Cooling Station is running full tilt-- here are our Fish Crow Fledglings, cooling their toes....

Hoppin and Pippin are amazing. They've learned to take frequent showers at the cooling station. They bring little shells from the beach to float and play with in the Avian Cooling Pool. Corvids are remarkable and charming creatures.
Since I'm kind of stuck inside with the A/C, I've been painting. My Nebula 3 is getting there....
Here is Nebula 2, the Gold One....
And for all my American Readers, Happy 4th of July! Here is Dahlia, celebrating....
Wishing you all happy Weekend Walkabouts!



Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Perfume Post: Our Human Sense of Smell Is Not That Bad!

I was taught that Homo sapiens has a lousy sense of smell compared to other mammals. Well. Not so.
Perfumistas take heart! (Thank you, Alert Gardener Jim!)


Humans have a good sense of smell    Peter Stern   5/12/17 

In comparison to that of other animals, the human sense of smell is widely considered to be weak and underdeveloped. This is, however, an unproven hypothesis. In a Review, McGann traces the origins of this false belief back to comparative 19th-century neuroanatomical studies by Broca. A modern look at the human olfactory bulb shows that it is rather large compared with those of rats and mice, which are presumed to possess a superior sense of smell. In fact, the number of olfactory bulb neurons across 24 mammalian species is comparatively similar, with humans in the middle of the pack, and our sense of smell is similar to that of other mammals.

Science, this issue p. 597
 
Head out to your local perfume shop, or botanical garden, and have a terrific sniffa without feeling like a lowly class of mammal! Here's to the olfactory arts....
 
 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Weekend Walkabout: Fish Crow Bowls!

As you know, I am Corvid Fangirl. Bigtime. Our local crows are Corvus ossifragus, the Fish Crow. They are playful, intelligent, and highly sociable. Our local Clan Munin has two new fledglings this year, which I named Hoppin and Pippin. They are on the sand dune right now, hunting ghost crabs and bugs. Brunch! They have found good use for my avian cooling station during this hot spring, also.
Hopping in for a second bath.

And then a third....
To mark the end of nesting season, I designed and made Fish Crow bowls. Duncan has a great glaze called Shimmer Black Diamond which has flashes of deep blue, just like a crow's feathers. You can't see it in photos, but it's great IRL.
Fish Crow Bowl central design.

Greenware bowls.

Finished Fish Crow Bowls and SeaCeramic beads.
Have a wonderful weekend walkabout and enjoy the company of your local birds!


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Five Years and Counting: A Big Thank You to My Readers!!

I can't believe I've been keeping this blog for 5 years! I'm so happy you've found a spot to learn more about Tillandsias and Mesembs, and share in my gardening adventures. I hope you have enjoyed the posts on all sorts of sundry and various things of passing or abiding interest to me, your humble blogger!
Our celebrity Mesemb, Babytoes
So a big shout-out to my readers and followers, and a big bloom from Babytoes, perhaps the first internet celebrity Mesemb?? Or is that going too far? ;-)

And yes, I still grow Lithops. I've come to feel, however, that it's best to support policies and laws that support their wild environment, where they grow best. Growing them at home certainly improves their fan base and helps more people become aware of how precious and amazing these little plants are. So let's grow some more! I think we can all agree on more Lithops in the world....
My sand dune at night. Painting by MRobb

Lithops!

Mesembs in bloom
Learning about all sorts of Mesembs and cacti is a wonderful hobby, and I'm going to continue, most likely, for the rest of my life. Tillandsias are native to my area, and frankly, I'm running out of space to grow them, as they are extremely happy in my home and garden. So you'll be reading more about them, too.
Tillies!
Los Tres Amigos.
And my artwork and pottery continue, so thank you for your wonderful compliments.

So have a wonderful weekend walkabout, and once again, thank you so much! See you soon!






Sunday, May 28, 2017

Weekend Walkabout: The Avian Cooling Station

We're in an extreme drought. That's the actual, scientific category name. Extreme Drought. And yeah, it's hot, too.
But we have A/C and fresh water (for now). The birds don't. Nesting season has come smack in the center of this drought, the worst since the 1800s. Birds suffer heat stress and dehydration and can easily die from it. If you see a bird with its bill open, it's suffering from heat stress. How to help our avian neighbors? With an Avian Cooling Station!
By keeping a patch of lawn green and unmowed, the small reptiles, insects and bugs that ibises and other birds need can thrive. Letting some backyard go to seed gives the seed-eating birds some desperately needed food. Here are some local ibises getting some tasty grubs for breakfast.
Here's a local mourning dove taking a bath. Bird mite populations have exploded in the hot dry weather. The heavily infested birds need water in the form of rain or baths to keep the mites from making them anemic. (FYI: Bird mites don't affect humans, generally speaking.) The setup is simple. A small lawn sprinkler set on low creates a great bath and doesn't use much water. Several clean basins with fresh water, changed several times a day to prevent the spread of disease. Don't mow the lawn. Plant some native plants. That's it!