Tow Zen

I left work at 3:15 to go to our Peds unit to assess a new admit as well as to deliver a few supplies… a drive that takes about 20 minutes.
1 hour and 15 minutes later, I am still not out of town, and I find myself being detoured downtown because of an accident on the main expressway out.
Oh, and there is a major downpour going on.

Inches and inches of water.

One hour later, still not out of town, because there are only 3 streets out and when the biggest one is down, the traffic is impossible….

Finally, now turning left to get on the street that leads to…
The expressway out of town.

Those who know Savannah also know that there are low spots where streets and neighborhoods turn into small ponds.

Simply put, I turned left into a pond, couldn’t change course and my poor little car drowned 20 feet later.

So I turn on my emergency blinkers, and call my boss to tell him
a. I won’t make it to the peds unit.
b. My car has drowned.

He assures me that it will dry out and in 10 minutes I can restart it.

Granted, he doesn’t realize I’m sitting in a pond, in a downpour and larger vehicles going past me are throwing sheets of water over the roof of my car.
So didn’t see dry happening anytime soon.

I call my insurance/roadside assistance and they say they will send a tow truck. They ask if I’m safe, I look around and realize I’m in Gang Banger Central.
Yippee…. So I tell them my situation and they assure me they’ll be there ASAP. They ask if I need a ride home, and I say yes, or at least to the towing place and then I can call friends.

Luckily, I have a book (Kristin Ashley, I’ve torn through 4 of her near 600 page books in 6 days) so I am happy to sit and read, only flinching when sheets of water wash over the top of my car.

One hour later, to the minute, the tow trunk arrives, in the downpour, with another car on the back. The driver jumps out, quickly attaches my car to the back of his truck and takes off down the street.

Did I mention I kept waving to get his attention, and he didn’t see me?

At this point, I’ve been in my car over 3 hours, I’m tired and a ride down the street that resembles a ride at the fair is amusing, and par for the course.

So I go back to reading and about 10 minutes later, he pulls over to adjust something on the front of my car.

The downpour is now a light rain, so I roll down my window to ask him if it’s OK for me to ride in my car…. causing him to scream bloody murder and fall on his butt in the street.
He swears he didn’t see me, is extremely apologetic and lets me ride in the front of his truck. He’s very nice, talking about how he sees his job as a service and he realizes that even working over, no matter how bad his day is, it’s never as bad as the people he’s helping.

A bit of Zen in a tow.

I finally get the towing garage and the office manager is waiting…she lives in my neighborhood and is offering me a ride home.

Another bit if nice in a very wet and frustrating day.

She’s a wonderful, fun person to talk to, and exactly 4 hours from leaving work, I arrive at home.
She assures me that in 24 hours, there is a pretty good chance that my car will crank, so to call them in the afternoon and they’ll see if it starts… and I can come get it.

I get in… call my boss to inform him that
a. The assessment won’t get done and supplies won’t be getting to the peds unit.
b. I won’t be coming into work the next day.

He laughs and says he’ll get the supplies there by someone else.

I call a friend to ask for a possible ride back out to the garage Friday and then I call the insurance company while fixing a drink.
Something in the tinkling of ice and story had the girl on the phone in tears of laughter.

Two drinks and 6 more chapters later in my book and I crawl into bed,
Thanking God for kind people, good bosses, tow trucks, good authors and alcohol.

Today I’m enjoying the gift of a quiet day at home, praying for a car that starts and debating whether to download another book or make bubble bath, and not allowing thoughts of a non-starting car to ruin my day.


Dear Insurance Fellas

Dear Insurance Fellas,

This letter is to let you know that, after several phone calls, I’ve been able to figure out exactly what was expected of me. I have taken care of the hazards you found during the castle inspection as well as I am able to verify and answer certain questions you posed. I’ll be responding in list format from the original letter I received, grouping like issues together; pictures will verify most of my responses.

I do want to preface this with I was raised here, I’m a farm girl, and my goal, when I built my house was to have a South Georgia House and Garden version of a Thomas Kinkade painting. (That’s Kinkade the artist, not the gunfighter).

So some things may have had a rustic, dishelved, maybe even wilder look than a more urban dwelling.

Now for your answers and verifying pictures–
1. Debris in yard needs to be cleared and trim overgrown vegetation away from home.

As you can see the job has been done, by the hiring of a friend’s father and his two 14 year old grandsons. Young men who had just started their summer vacation, with great plans to spend hours playing video games. Their plans were thwarted by the lure of money and a day with Grand Dad in the great outdoors. They did an excellent job and I’m happy to say that I’m proud to have contributed in teaching youth of American learn the value of hard work. 

2. Trim overgrown vegetation away from propane tank.

By the pictures you can also tell this has been accomplished by above mentioned gentlemen, leaving me with a nice path to the back of my property and a very exposed, ugly propane tank with peeling silver paint. However, I have since found, in calling the company that I rent the tank from, that I can paint it and even put a low fence in front of it, so all is not lost and I don’t feel quite so despondent when walking out the back door.

3. Trim limbs touching roof.

Again, job completed by above mentioned team. Pictures attached of Windows 1, 2 and 3 of the Crepe Myrtles who had gotten too tall next to the house and whose limbs needed trimming. I also notice that in picture 2 there is a piece of Christmas light remnants that broke in 2006. It’s on the side yard that no one usually sees…and I’ll get them down because it has too much of a redneck trailer vibe.

4. Clean mold and mildew from front steps.

This job I accomplished myself with the aid of a garden hose, a gallon of bleach and a wire grill brush. And a Mojito.

5. Damaged fence needs to be repaired or removed.

Actually, that wasn’t a ‘fence’ as much as a section of fencing I stuck in the side hedge as a fake fence because I was so exhausted from putting up all the other fencing and I didn’t have it in me to go buy two more posts. For years, it made a passing fair fake fence with honeysuckle vines growing all over it. But as you can see, it has been removed and repurposed. The red can in Picture 1 and the cat/light in Picture 2 show where the fence once was.

6. Verify number of rabbits and birds and use of animals.

(please note that the Pheasant in the picture is no longer with us).
There are two rabbits, Ebony and Ivory, brothers from their Mother Bun Bun who escaped a through the pet door over six years ago and has been living the wild life in the neighborhood ever since. I’m not sure how the abandonment has effected them, they may aspire, like their mother, to greater things. Such as Easter Egg delivery or maybe going on the road with a magic show. But as of now, their use or purpose in life is that of companion animals, out in the aviary with the other critters.

There is also a Cockatoo, Diva, who believes her use is to remind me that she’s more beautiful than any human could aspire to be. And her constant companion, a White Eyed Conure named Brat, who doesn’t get that they’re different species.
He’s in love, and love is blind, and because of this, he’s missing a few toes from the days when Diva has had enough of her little green gigiglo.

There is also a Blue Cap Conure named Ted Bundy (he bites) who is happy just being left alone, and I do.

A tortoise named Tank whose purpose is to sit in the sun and eat grapes and collards.
There are also four Doves; Bob, Carol, Ted (who are pictured wtih Ebony) and Alice whose job is to look pretty and well, eat and poop.

Lastly, there are feeder rats for the snakes inside the house.
Their use or purpose is snake food. As of this morning, there are 20, divided by gender. I started out with just two that Ball Python Poe refused to eat, I let them stay together and how you see why I have 20, divided by gender.

There are other animals; cats, a dog, as well as aformentioned snakes, all with the use or purpose of companion (with the exception of the rats). I do know that times are hard and their intent may change if my straights become dire. At that time, I’ll notify you of their change in status from pets to pantry.

7. Verify business on property due to sign posted “Belly Dancers Parking”.
The irony is that the sign was a gag gift one Christmas from a friend. Yes, I teach belly dancing in my loft. Been doing it for 14 years this coming November. Pictures attached.

If there is more I need to do with this, I’ll be more than happy to comply.

8. An additional endorsement needs to be added to the policy effective the renewal.
I don’t know what this means but I’m sure you’ll explain it to me. Please let me know if I need to take more pictures or write more information.

Until then,
thank you for your time and have a great day!

Snake Story

OK, so here is the story….

Midnight Saturday, I go in my bedroom to go to sleep and I notice that the cats are both sitting on the bathroom counter, frozen, hair up and hissing…
and Buddy Dog is refusing to come in the room.

Silly dog! He’s getting old and senile I think…so keep calling him and he just looks at me like “you crazy bitch!” and looks at the foot of the bed.

I look down and the last 2 feet of Set is crawling under the bed. He is a Red Tail Boa, about 10-12 feet? Long and about 15 pounds and also getting old and senile.

Now Set is a bit cranky at times and known to strike just randomly. He’s also strong!
He can be a bastard when he wants to (to quote Rachel).
Also, much to my chagrin, because he’s so big and cranky, I haven’t handled him… just been a caretaker.

So I’m not really sure in my mind how our confrontation might transpire….
No, he can’t kill me, but he could try to eat a cat, or bite me, or make me upset and it wouldn’t be fun for either one of us.

Plus it’s really late, and I’m tired, in my underwear and the last thing I want to do is get on my hands and knees and crawl under the bed to deal with a renegade snake face first, with that much skin exposed plus having crappy reflexes from a long day of yardwork.

SO…. I quickly do the following:
Turn down the thermostate to 65 degrees.
Grab the cats and put them in the guest bedroom.
Also grab my sleep mask, cell phone, and the litter box.
All that goes into the guest bedroom.
Shut the bathroom and closet doors (just that fewer places for him to go).

In the process, I glance under the bed and there is Set sticking his head out watching me like “WTF is your problem woman? I’m just looking for a place to sleep.”

I shut the bedroom door and put a chair in front of it….at this point, I feel like “THE STUPID CHICK” in horror movies… the one you yell at for being such a ninny.

Then I Facebook, email, text and even leave phone message SOS’s to Rachel the Snake Charmer and the rest of my buddies
All I really wanted was someone here in the daylight to help me deal with him and with full permission to laugh there asses off at me being such a dork.

I then go to check how he got out of his hab and I find that I’ve been getting lazy and only closing it with two clips— instead of the usual 4.

Plus his heat lamp croaked about 2 weeks ago and I guess the poor guy was trying to find some place warmer to go.

I also realize that I’ve left all my clothes in the bedroom so I go to the laundry room and find some dirty clothes to put on the in the morning and then I go to sleep.

Buddy kept looking at my bedroom like “Why does he get to stay! My bed is in there.” so I had to pull him by the collar to the guest bedroom and show him the dog bed made out quilts and he was fine.

Now the cats… bless their hearts…
Shelby literally slept with his nose pressed to the door as if to smell for approaching snake.

Princess Fancy was so nervous that when I touched her at one point and I swear she hit the ceiling, knocked over a lamp, ran around the bed and landed on my head.

About 8:30am Sunday morning, I get a phone call from Rachel that is a conversation of questions punctuated by gales of laughter.

Yes, she knows he’s a bastard…. she named him that.

Yes, she understands why I would like someone there to deal with him.

Yes, she’s coming to help (Yay! My hero!)

So about an hour later, Rachel arrives with Damien and Maria (aka Snake Bait) in tow.

And what transpires is embarrassing in it’s simplicity.
Granted, Rachel laughed a lot in the process and I’m glad she was entertained by my dingyness.

But she pretty much walked in the bedroom with a hook, saw Set coiled by the bed and picked him up.
End of drama.

Seems the cold room and made him calm and still.
Seeing him in her arms made me realize “Oh, I probably could have picked him up myself” well, duh.

I could have done it, but then, there wouldn’t have been much of a story, now would there?

And with much gratitude, I paid Rachel with soap, bath bombs and vodka.

The kids with cream puffs and candy.
And Damien left with Dooma the Milk Snake.

So the story has a happy ending.
That and I’m getting Set a new heat lamp today.

Resolution Number 1

OK, I have a New Year’s Resolution.
Not that it’s necessary, but I realize that I have one.

It’s to not comment or make fun of how people look and stand up to defend fat girls, old ladies, people with wrinkles. Cuz I R one.

It’s also to point out that ‘that ain’t sexy, that’s unhealthy’ when someone calls a BMI of 16 hot. Not letting little girls get a message that they have to destroy their health to be sexy. Or that it’s OK to poke fun at someone because of their looks.

It’s been on my mind for a while, not feeling comfortable at certain pictures posted, not getting into the joke. Also seeing excellent dancers trashed on You Tube by cretins, and occasionally by the well meaning dancer. But more disturbingly, by teenage girls who think a size 10 is obese as they struggle with their own body image.

Thanks a ‘effin lot media.

Sometimes speaking up causees others to say something. Sometimes it causes a flame war, but either way, I don’t feel like a jerk for being quiet. It’s a win win.

Then I read this

And thought, “OK, that puts the nail in it.” So no more.

Granted, that’s pretty obvious. Don’t be cruel. But sometimes you catch yourself wanting to say something snarky about the person with the bad plastic surgery, or the person wearing something too tight, or with a really weird wig.

Of course, that’s self inflicted, so it’s OK.

I don’t know anymore. That bad plastic surgery job could be post trauma reconstruction, or they could be the victim of a monster doctor and are waiting for the settlement to get the mess fixed. To tight clothes could be their baggage was lost in flight and a friend loaned them something to wear until their money and clothes arrived. The weird wig could be gift. Or they lost a bet.

And that really ‘large’ woman could have lost 100 pounds and be at her healthiest and best size ever. She could be more cardio fit, have better blood pressure, blood glucose levels and overall, be better off than the person posting the ugly remarks.

So I’m going to tell the world to STFU (not that it will listen, I’m doing it for me).

Really it’s more about glass houses and rocks.
I’m not getting any younger, much skinnier, or less wrinkled. So ….
It’s also about life being short and if they’re harming no one, then who am I to care?

What you give out comes back to you.

It’s also about learning to look a little deeper than the surface. That fat dancer is very good, better than most and she is so happy with a beautiful smile. That weird couple with the odd clothes and clearly deviant lifestyle seem to be very kind to each other and that is rare today. That woman with the ugly face is clearly loved by her grandkids and they see her as beautiful.

And so forth.
There is enough ugly in spirit floating around without me adding to it.

So I’m going to stand up for the weird, the ugly, the fat, the just plain odd. Someone out there loves them. What good comes from the negative?

However, if they are a rotten person, mean, unkind, whose fundamental beliefs go against everything I believe…… I will point that out. 🙂

One Year Today

I gave myself permission and I took a year off.

From writing, from blogging and keeping up the web page. My heart wasn’t in it.
But I promised that I’d write today.

I just didn’t expect to be so sad.

I woke up this morning in bad mood and as I puttered around, I marked the time.
One Year Ago Today:

11:00, making a heart cake with the intention of taking at least half of it over to Danny. In the process discovering that the pump at the well had died again.

11:15, tried calling Danny, but not expecting an answer so I called Jay, laughing about bothering him on a Sunday morning, that the well and pump were still giving us fits and Danny was for sure not answering his phone.

11:30, getting the call from Jay that he’d found Danny. I remember turning off the oven and running out the door, through the hedge, down the trail and thinking “Shark bite time”.

That period of time after a tragedy that you’re numb, just functioning and frantically processing. Making mental lists of who to call, what to do. In this case, answering questions by police officers, filling out pages of questions, taking business cards politely and them asking why.

In between, yelling into the voice mails of relatives that they needed to call back ASAP. It was Sunday morning, people had their phones off. Gradually the word got out and neighbors flooded the yard before the police cars had left. One of Danny’s friends arrived and broke into sobs.

Me leaning through the car window comforting him, grateful that I was still numb. Him asking why.

One year ago today, or probably last night, my brother ended his life.
Some time he woke up, in some kind of pain… of the body, the mind, the soul and….
In a hallway, with his back propped up against a door, with a shotgun.
After 49 years.

All day I’ve been looking at the clock, I can remember what happened as the minutes ticked by…..
Now as I write this, is when my half-sister and husband arrived with cases of water and KFC, her breaking into
heart wrenching tears over and over. Me comforting her. Her asking why.

It wasn’t a surprise.
He’d tried before, talked about it many times.

The why was in some ways obvious…. too much alcohol and in tractable pain, a vicious circle.
Which came first??
Toss in not being able to drive and work.
Toss in decades of battling depression.
Toss in having a childhood from hell.

We all shared similar memories and fought many of the same demons, though the abuse varied some from child to child.
All four of us formed a web of commonality. The strongest thread being that of like parents, blood kin. And of dealing with a mercurial father who was in turns physically, emotionally, mentally, sexually and even spiritually abusive. And a mother who did nothing to protect or save us, but declare her own victimhood while minimizing ours.

Caught between a monster and an equal victim. Learning to survive and even find happiness in spite of adults who were insane, a threat to our survival and a God who was totally oblivious, not matter how much one prayed. I often said we were so close because we’d survived the same war.
Except Danny didn’t fully survive.

And to quote Alexis when got home for the funeral “Dad won.”

But that is another story….. with a moral quite simple–
Love your children and let them know it, don’t hurt them, protect them from monsters, even if that monster is the other parent.

From there, threads of our web grew thinner, shared by 2 or 3.
Love of growing things and social issues– Alexis and I.
Strong political views- Alexis and Danny
Veganism- Marvin and Alexis
Sleepy heads and love of animals– Marvin and I.
Love of the farm and managing it- Danny and Marvin
Totally embracing being country and love of food— Danny and I.

Danny and I also shared darker memories that the others didn’t. Either due to being born later or simply being able to selectively forget. But we didn’t.

The night terrors when the morning seemed centuries away, were every fear, pain, horror and misery crept in and sat on your chest. The insomnia, self contempt, depression, fear, anger and anxiety. All results of not surviving our childhood totally intact.

When I was a little girl, I’d pray for Danny. He seemed to be hurting the most and the most hurt by what was happening. I continued praying, though my prayers shifted and changed from him finding happiness to his pain ending.

And a year ago, today, it did.

So, I’ll remember the best things I can.
Danny like us all, found bits of happiness in his life and those are the things I’ll tell about him.

He never met a stranger.
No one worked harder than he did.
He loved working out of doors.
There wasn’t any piece of machinery he couldn’t drive.
He’d give you the shirt off his back.

He was far smarter than people realized, having a surprising grasp of all aspects of current events, finance and the world in general
He was the ultimate believer in rights of the individual, understanding how it felt to be viewed as less because you were different.

He adored kids and would play with them for hours.
He believed in family first and always.
He adored our sister in law and our niece and nephew were the most important people in his life.

Sometimes I wish he was still here… but then I have to remember how much pain he was in and I let it go. I regret that he missed Alexis wedding and the birth of his newest niece.

Rosa, that I’m sure he would have spoiled as rotten as he did the others.

Emily with wagon

Like buying Emily John Deere everything, starting with a wagon.

Emily with tractor

And not stopping with a tractor either.

Emily and Buddy

He loved my dog and treated him like a best Buddy…right down to buying him hamburgers and ribs when he picked up his own take-out.

Us and the Gator

He bought Emily a Gator for Christmas and she’s the envy of her neighborhood Dads 😉

Truck with Stacks

Danny was known for his truck with it’s stacks. Now when I see Jay driving it, I smile.

Old House

The Old House that our Grandparents built around the 1900’s and it’s still standing. Danny would go sit there and enjoy the quiet.

Play Set

He drove all the way to Atlanta to help put together a play set for the babies. He drove to Atlanta frequently, when he could, to see them, play with and spoil them rotten.

Survivors of the Same War

Our last ‘Family’ picture with all of us together.

Horsing Around

Last New Years week, him playing on the floor with the kids, though it hurt him a lot.

Last Christmas

And the rest of us, hanging out and talking until after dark.

Favorite Christmas Light Shows

Things I Just Don’t Get

1. Cruises: Fair enough, I hate crowds. But I know that I can get away from them in an hour or so. However, a cruise!?!? Where you are stuck on a ship with a few thousand strangers in the middle of the ocean…..

With no hope for escape, much less quiet or privacy? Sounds like one of Dante’s Rings of Hell to me.

2. Teddy Bears: OK, I don’t hate them, I think they’re cute for little kids but as a gift for an adult woman? Does he come with a chocolate center or a bottle of vodka? Then what’s the point?

Only in the front seat of my new Lamborghini would I understand the gift of a teddy bear.

3. The beach in summer: There is no appeal to me. It’s hot, sandy, windy and crowded. I burn, no matter how much sun block. I hate wearing a swimsuit in front of strangers and so forth.

However, the beach in winter is wonderful. Cool, windy but perfect for kite flying, unpopulated and I don’t burn (much less need a swimsuit).

4. Traveling: Yes, I’ll be the first to say it, I am a Hobbit, and I hate traveling. HATE IT! I like being in new places and seeing new things etc, but the actual act of getting there is pure misery for me. Either by car, train, plane or boat. I’ve yet to experience any method of travel that didn’t have me regretting my journey within a few hours. The upside is nothing makes me happier to be home than traveling.

So, until a transporter is invented that gets me to new and wonderful places instantly, I’ll only do my traveling by nessessity.

5. Movies: I can count on one hand the number of movies I have sat and watched all the way through in the last month year lifetime. Movies are utilitarian parts of multitasking but alone can’t hold my attention. Only when I’m totally exhausted and unable to do anything else do I sit and watch without interruption. They’re what I put on while reading a book, surfing on the web, cleaning house, working on projects. They are not something I stop and sit and watch as ‘entertainment’. That act alone is misery and worse when there is someone who keeps saying “sit and watch this movie with me”. I just don’t get it, my watching it with you isn’t going to change the story or outcome of the movie?

As for going to the movie theater? I haven’t been in 12 years. Part of that is the crowd thing, the other is the experience is creepy—or as one friend put it, sitting in the dark hearing strangers eat is like being in a barn full of rats.

All I Want Is One Good Showdown Fight

and a chapter or two of groveling.

This discussion has come up more than once: The too-quick to forgive heroine who borders on a doormat. Linda Howard has a few of those- the heroines in “Angel Creek, “A Game of Chance” and “Lady of the West”.

Kleypas has are recent one with Poppy in “Tempted at Twilight.”

There are others and I’ll add them as I remember them.

Now the hero’s crimes vary from cutting off the water supply to the heroine’s farm, to deceitfully manipulating scandal that forces a break-up with her beau and her to marry him instead, to lying about his identity, getting her shot and almost killed to outright hitting her.

In each of these cases, the issue was never discussed or brought to light adequately for the reader. OK, maybe a sentence or two of internal remorse from the hero, maybe a bit of the same from the heroine, but never the nasty, no holds barred, screaming banshee, beat the issue to a bloody pulp catharsis that the reader needs. The kind of fight we know we’d have with our SO’s if something like that happened to us.

At least we’d like to think we’d do it. Demand an apology, explain the loss of trust, express in words the hurt and anger; or best of all, put forth the aspect that it would be better to walk away from him and the relationship than to stay.

Make it clear that the heroine demands his respect and that he must re-earn her trust —and both deserve a higher value than he has given.

Instead, in all the above…the couple either ignore the issue and move on, discuss it with a ‘well, that happened- won’t happen again’ or the heroine decides to ‘love him anyhow’.

Okey dokey. I don’t think so Louise.

Authors who do get it right or at least learn from past mistakes are—
Linda Howard in “Loving Evangeline” (the book, not the gosh-awful, WTF was that, Made for TV movie that bore zero resemblance to the book). Here, the heroine tells the hero to take a hike at the end of the book because he was a cold bastard. YAY!

OK so they do get back together, but only after said cold bastard has gone off and marinated in his misery a bit. Realized what a screw up he was and how he threw away the best thing he ever had.

Works for me.

Another favorite of mine is Christina Dodd’s “That Scandalous Evening” which has probably my absolutely favorite grovel scene ever because… he actually is on his knees groveling! On the docks! While she ponders getting on a ship to sail to Italy, leaving him and his perfidy behind!

Double YAY! For his kneeling and her leaving.

The scene goes on for several pages, she gets to vent and is seriously about to leave him. Granted, it’s not chapters long because it’s at the end of the book, but it’s enough. You really do believe he’s sorry and remorseful and won’t do it again.

Which I think is the issue with the above mentioned books without said scenes. You never totally believe he won’t do it again because he hasn’t been scared enough at the prospect of loosing her— she came back too easy (Game of Chance, Tempted at Twilight) or never even acted angry (Angel Creek) or was angry/hurt enough in the first place (Lady of the West had her hurt, but she was also busy trying to get him to understand her side of things).

The books leaving you feeling unbalanced, like there was an injustice that was never dealt with, that a wrong was never righted. That the heroine never placed a high enough price on her self worth, selling herself too cheaping for love. It is because major deceit/mistreatment/crime was given a pass, meaning an even worse incident is almost certain to happen in the future. Call it experience, or human nature, or simply we know what can and will happen when woman is a doormat.

She’ll get walked on again, just worse the next time.

It’s hard to believe in a HEA the issues of remorse, forgiveness and trust have never fully been worked out.

So give me more scenes like the one in “That Scandalous Evening” and I’ll believe the HEA no matter what the hero does (almost).

My Few of My Favorite Things

In no particular order.
1. Sleep.

2. Chocolate, raspberries and whipped cream.

3. Shiny!!

4. Camels

5. Boxes

Searching for Ormonde Jayne

Let me preface this with I have a moderate genetic Anosmia meaning my sense of smell is limited. Not totally lacking, I’ve discovered, just like a black and white movie. Scents do record as being present but not all of them and often not in detail.

Some do register is ‘good’ and I can place them either with a food (vanilla, citrus, green) or ‘flower’ smell. Others register, but not as good or bad. It’s like looking at a black and white picture, except with scents. So while others can smell a fragrance and pick out various notes, I can pick out one basic theme of citrus, or sweet, floral or sometimes ‘dark, odd, off’. BTW, my sense of taste is almost hypersensitive, so my eating has never been affected.

I’ve also learned that my sense of smell improves in the bathroom, hence my fascination with soap. Maybe it’s the combination of warm moist air, an enclosed environment, cleared sinuses and being encompassed in a fragrance. Even moreso was that often there was a name to go with that fragrance and I could cognizantly train myself that “this is what ____ smells like.”

I’ve been doing this for years, discovering much to my joy that fragrances like “Angel” or L’Occitane’s “Citrus Verbenna” I could pick up on without reading the label. I can smell the vanilla in “Shalimar” and the roses in “Fantasia de Fleurs”.

It has taken effort though but it’s been worth it.

And probably my biggest reason for entering into soap making: So I could have soap, bubble bath, even shampoo that smelled like my favorite scents and expensive perfumes in the volume and combinations I wanted. However, without paying the ridiculous prices that everything I liked seemed to cost. Plus being able to put into them the things I could smell.

So I began researching fragrances, first finding sites like Basenotes and Fragrantica to expand my understanding. This was more fun than a trip to Disney; the process of learning all the components of a fragrance and perfume making. Why some are considered world class and others as trash. What combinations work and what are horrendous.

This is the process that taught me there are two ways to scent a product: Essential oils or absolutes- which are extracted or derived from the source itself. Or fragrance oils which are created/synthetic versions of the fragrance.

The pros and cons I worked out over time. Obviously, essential oils are more expensive. However, for some, there is no viable substitution. They’re best suited for perfumes and toilettes and so forth, where there is direct skin contact and pure fragrance is important. Most of the time, essential oils need to be diluted by a % with a carrier oil to be used directly on the skin. Some swear by them for aromatherapy.

Fragrance oils (in my opinion) are well suited for items where there is secondary transfer as in soap, lotion or shampoo or they’re used in a non-body manner (berger or oil lamps, linen sprays etc). They are much less expensive and can handle the chemical reactions that can occur in mixing.

Lye is notorious for morphing fragrances and colors in cold process soaping. The thought of dropping $50 a gram Attar of Roses in lye with a ph of 13 makes my palms sweat. Not so much ethanol or perfumer’s alcohol. Maybe it’s because I know I can drink the alcohol and survive. Not so much the lye.

Same for my poor Rose Absolute.

Even many of the ‘created for soap and candle making’ fragrance oils do change and morph during saponification, some changes mild, some drastic enough to render the finished soap nothing like the original intent.

Better to face that tragedy having only spent $5 in fragrance oil than $50 in essentials.

I’ve also learned that in the land of fragrance, there is a lot of smoke and mirrors. A lot of hype.

That a lot of it is mystique and showmanship. As with Ormonde Jayne’s “Woman”, the scent that put her and her shop in Mayfair (UK) on the map. That story of the perfume alone hooked me.

Reviewers described the fragrance as being like a walk in the woods with the smells of the trees, grass and flowers enveloping you. As a woman who lives in the woods, who loves taking walks through the trees, a chord was struck. The components are not amazing or unusual. Cardamom, coriander, grass, violet, jasmine, vetiver, cedar wood, amber and sandalwood. Oh! And one surprise element: Black hemlock. Not the little scrubby plant used as poison, but instead, as I discovered, it is a tree, a mountain hemlock or Tsuga Mertensiana.

Now talk about your showmanship. Linda Pilkington (the nose of the company) admitted she was looking for unique scents and the name intrigued her. The end product has become legend of sorts in perfumery.

Out of curiosity, I tried to find the components and all were easy finds. EXCEPT for the Tsuga Mertensiana. I found a black spruce that left my end product reminding people, oh so cheerfully, of laundry detergent.

So far, the closest I’ve come is in a spruce of sorts, a Tsuga canadansis essential oil that has gotten good reviews from friends as smelling ‘almost there’ to the Ormonde Jayne perfume.

Not that I want to duplicate her perfume. I just want to make a soap that smells like that bottle of wonderful stuff I finally got my hands on!

I’m working on building and filling out my essential and fragrance oil collection. I’m still trying to hone my Ormonde soap recipe, hoping to get something that smells as good as the perfume. Other things I’ve found in the fragrance oil and used in soap with good results: Tom Ford’s Black Orchid, Paloma Picasso, Lolita Lempicka, Angel, Jickey, Bulgari Black to name a few.

With vendors, there are advantages and hard to find items with each. So far,
Majestic Mountain Sage, Sweet Cakes , Save On Scents, Snowdrift Farm , Day Star , Coastal Scents ,
Camden Grey ,
Brambleberry and of course, EBay have been wonderful sources for fragrance as well as other soaping supplies.

I’ll keep you guys posted if I come across any others.

Previous Older Entries