Saturday, April 29, 2006

Mostly about perfume oils.

I didn't get much done this week. Including, as of yet, the mask. Oops.

I got my order from Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs, though. And have been playing with scents. Since I mentioned it before, I figured I would follow up with my impressions and some notes. A lot of people rave about these scents. They neglect to mention the downsides. I understand why: the oils are great (though not all work with everyone's skin chemistry - Morocco and I, for example, do not get along - if I wanted to smell like a department store perfume counter, I could do that a lot more easily...). The two big drawbacks I see are shipping (which is fairly clear on the site - they give times in business days on one of the pages - it took 3-4 weeks for me to get my oils) and opening the imp's ears (which almost no one talks about).

Opening a new-from-the-lab imp ear is an experience. It's hard if you're just guessing how to do it, and it's likely to get you coated in perfume oil (waaaay more than you need, trust me) if you lose patience or if you are just unlucky. It can be done and, in fact, once you find a method that works for you it isn't even that hard. I was advised to rotate the cap or to rock it back and forth. The latter worked for me; the former didn't; but for others the reverse is true. What I found works really well: use a thin cloth (or a bit of kleenex, in a pinch) to wrap the bottle and cap - no more than one layer on the cap. Use your dominant hand to rock the cap back and forth while your other hand holds the bottle gently. Eventually the cap will start to actually life a little with the rocking. Do NOT pull, even when it does this. Rock it some more until, when one side rises, you can leave it there if you take your hand off. At this point, lift very slightly as you rock it back the other way and it should open.

It will almost invariably spatter at least a few drops, sometimes more. That's what the light cloth is for: so that you don't wind up wearing too much oil if it spatters. If it spatters at all, some will soak through the cloth and get on your fingers, though.

Seriously, seriously impressed by these blends, however. Very glad I did order. Just...don't want to enthuse at people without warning about opening the samples as it is a bit too exciting when one explodes all over you....

Also, the unofficial but affiliated forums have a lot of good commentary, reviews of scents, etc. (They're not maintained by the lab, but the reviews are linked from the names of the oils on the search page, so....) You can't see everything that's in there by a long shot unless you sign up, but you can see the reviews.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

A current project....

I got out the remaining full-face mask form I had and started working on it this past week. Which is to say, I got it to stage one and then couldn't figure out what to do with it next. At Contagious Creativity, one of the optional tasks for this week is: "Make a piece of art in the moment. Make art with no plans, without an idea or sketch. Sit down surrounded by art supplies and create. See what colors, shapes, images are calling for you, use them. When you stop, check in with yourself, what do you want to do now? Play and see what comes forth."

So I plan to, sometime this week (probably not tomorrow because it is going to be busy) do just that, with this as the base, and see what it becomes.

Still alive, honest! General update / weekly memes

Sorry, I fell off the face of the 'net this week, didn't I? It's been a pretty stressful week. Being on call for work has not been awful as far as call volume, but the calls I have been getting have been coming in at hours when I'm asleep, more often than not. Shooting my sleep schedule is a very very fast way to make the rest of my day go on the fritz, but, such is life. We went to our aunt and uncle's for Easter dinner and they have pets - who are often not in the house during such moments but were this time, because this one was just their family and us. I like their pets. But, I think they contributed to my allergies being in high flare most of the week. On Friday they got better, but I wasn't feeling well for stress/sleep reasons. Besides being uncomfortable, the allergy flare and then Friday meant that I did not get my allergy shots and I should have done that this week. I'm planning to do it Monday if I feel good then.... So far, the weekend is promising. I'm almost human again. I think.

Books I've read in the past two weeks, mostly in the past week: Jennifer Fallon's Medalon (high fantasy, has a dash of humor but is a basically serious story, first in trilogy and the rest are out, I like it a loooot), Trudy Canavan's Priestess of the White (high fantasy, first in trilogy and the next one comes out in May, I liked this one at least as much as Medalon, maybe a bit more), Anchee Min's Empress Orchid (historical fiction based on fact, and really, I found it to be more uneasy than pleasant reading and often skipped sections), and David Kline and Dan Burstein's blog! (which I am still reading and is interesting).

Yes, I've been burying myself in books. Self-care, right? Goodness knows I've needed that this week! Now, to catch up because I have not been reading stuff online as much...yargh. First, a spattering of memes, then I'm off to catch up with all of you! Oh, that and I'm going to try adding tags, though they'll link to technorati since Blogger doesn't support them natively. So I'll try to make them look as little like links as possible.... Not in this post, though. In a day or two.

List Friday: List the reasons you love to live where you live.
  1. The Japanese Garden! It's not in my backyard (alas - that would be a lovely back yard - hehe), but it's close enough that I can go after work in the summer (in the winter it closes too early) or on a weekend - on a whim. (If I'm not on call, at least....) And it's gorgeous. And soothing when not full of chattery people. (And I'm learning to stay calm and soothed even if it is full of chattery people - sometimes.)
  2. Our lovely library system. Every book I mentioned above except Priestess of the White came from that library system. As have a number of other, less-worthy-of-mention books. The other two main metro counties also have wonderful library systems.
  3. Powell's! Gotta list the book addict's dream place, after all. (I link to the info for the Burnside store because it's the biggest, neatest one. I actually usually go to Beaverton - sometimes I go to Burnside, sometimes I call and have the books I want transferred to wait for me at Beaverton....)
  4. So much green and nature and beauty and joy. The Columbia River Gorge, for example. Where I mostly love the waterfalls and the water.
  5. Two hours to the ocean.
  6. My family is here - not just my husband, but my parents, my husband's aunt and uncle...not all our family certainly, but enough that we are blessed with being able to see our relatives regularly.
  7. The social climate in the Portland area is very liberal in general - which matches well to my sensibilities on those issues. (The whole state isn't, but...can't have everything.)
  8. The weather. Probably 80-90% of the time, the weather here is something I like. (I like rain, yes.) I don't care for lots of weather-type heat because I can't go out as freely (I get ill from heat easily), but we don't have weather that hot that often.
  9. The ocean. It's two hours away, but that's still close enough for a day trip if you don't mind a lot of driving. We don't take advantage of that often, but it is nice that we can if we want to.
  10. The variety of places to shop that are available to me - I don't think I'd enjoy living in a small town with few shops any more (I kind of did, in college).
Sunday Scribblings: Week 4, Chocolate

Ah, chocolate. Sweet, sweet chocolate. The candy bars so common on American shelves are nice - but so full of fat, and I need to avoid that. But certain cookies, certain chocolates, are much lower in fat and so very yummy. I'm not a chocolate addict, but I do love a good chocolate - the rich taste - as a child I was much fonder of chocolate candy than I am now but I still like it. Now, give me a good maple sugar candy, that's a whole other matter...that I can't resist....

I've ordered some imps ears (samples) from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. I haven't ordered Bliss or Vice (both chocolate scents) yet, but I think I probably will be trying them out. The perfumes at that site sound just wonderful - I only hope that I can actually use even a fraction of the ones I'm interested in without setting my allergies off, and that the fraction I can use overlaps with what smells good on me.... (I can always move to a scent locket if it just upsets my skin, but not if it triggers my allergies just to smell it, obviously.)

Sunday, April 16, 2006

CC: Self-care

This week for Contagious Creativity, we are asked to focus on self-care. What an interesting focus considering I am on call this week (which is always one of the more strsesful parts of my job for me).

So, some questions/ideas of my own to add to those Kat posted; feel free to reply, not reply, think about these, or ignore 'em. I'll post the questions first, then my answers.

  1. Name some of your favorite ways to pamper yourself.
  2. What have you wanted to do to pamper yourself, but haven't?
  3. If you won a free, weeklong vacation and it really made your eyes light up - where would it be? What would you be doing? Why did it make your eyes light up?
  4. What can you do for yourself to echo part of that?

And, my answers:

  1. Reading a good book. (Which I spent this weekend doing.) Napping. Long hot showers. Finding "treat" foods that are within my diet, but still tasty.
  2. I've wanted more perfumey things. But my allergies make that hard. I've ordered some samples, though, and when they get here - well, hopefully I will eventually find a few more that I like and can use....
  3. A whole week sprawling on the beach beside brightly sparkling ocean, soaking up the sun. Water. Peace. Nothing to do that I don't want to do at that moment - total laziness - no responsibilities. The sun is a negative, in many ways, but the heat is a positive if I can go cool off when I want to. Soft surfaces. And, I think, it's a "traditional" vacation.
  4. Continue my search for a place I can go to swim. And lie in bed (almost as good as the beach, maybe better some ways) with the heater on when I want the temperature higher.

The funny thing about #3 is that I almost never do enjoy beaches. I've too many skin issues to just sprawl in the sun and I'm too restless to lay about lazily in new/strange environs - there's too much to do! But we will be going to the beach (just for a few days) in early June so perhaps I'll enjoy that more than I give it credit for. :)

Monday, April 10, 2006

Photos and Poetry

I went to the Japanese Gardens this weekend, and today I uploaded photos, which can be seen here.

I also took a photo of the painted ivy jar sitting on the windowsill in the sun. I've never taken it to work; I find I don't want to; but I do like it here.

And poetry. Taking inspiration from this week's Contagious Creativity post, I offer these (both are first-draft, as written, without intense editing - please forgive any typos or sillinesses that crept in that I have not noticed):


You have given me your whispered
careful words spaced breath by breath
beneath a blue sky, no mist
and no questions, this impression
that the world believes, this escape
into the silences between words,
into breath, a leaf floating down
between us. And I, wordless, trust.


It is night. A single leaf scrapes
along the sidewalk; a cat yowls
some proposition unthinkable
in the distance, to fight or to

something more. The mist
comes slowly up from the creek,
careful as it pulls itself over dirt
and onto pavement, this gift

in the silence and the dark,
this offering, this moment
of plausible escape, as I
bite the cold air. Alive.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Sunday Scribblings: Real Life

This week's topic at Sunday Scribblings is Real Life.

Is real life the real world, driving to work traffic jams working fingers numb from typing too much nose cold from the wind sneezing the sun setting watching the bills?

Or is it real life to see what is around you? To listen to songs that lift and teach? To watch how the trees slowly bud into spring, to feel the breeze along the cheek, to listen to the pattern of the rain on the roof, to smell the heady scent of the first sweet blossoms? (Even if it does mean a sneeze....) The press of the ground beneath your feet. The heady scent of warm pavement struck by rain. The crunch of gravel. The calls of the birds, greeting this land after the winter. The brilliance of sunlight on glass and flower alike. The tall, drawn-up dignity of trees just beginning to pull on their lightest green coats. The wistful drifting of the clouds. The words that flow between us and within us....

Sunday Scribblings: What would you attempt....

Yes, I am very late on this - considering it is for last Sunday - but I am doing it! This is last week's question at Sunday Scribblings. Maybe I will do this week's before next Saturday.... :)

What would you attempt if you knew you would not fail?

I would try to live a healthy, complete life without a formal full-time job. I would want to spend more time writing, more time playing, more time keeping the house, more time volunteering with the hours I got back that way. And I would probably still work (even at my current job!) but not full-time. And my life would be complete, and I would be healthy, and I would have everything I need. I could, of course, cut my hours back at work, but these niggling little things like money and health insurance and so on (not to mention the fact that I'm not sure my company needs someone part-time in my role) make that very not-comfortable for me at this stage of my life. Maybe some day, but not now.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


I am grateful for....

  • The wonderful creative community that began with The Artist's Way and continues with Contagious Creativity
  • The abundance in my daily life
  • My wonderful husband
  • Spring - even if my allergies are on the rise, so too is the temperature (and not yet to uncomfortable levels) and the sweet sound of birdsong
  • Libraries: a wealth of books for no additional fee when you want to look for them. We are able to have so much more collectively than we could individually.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

AW: Week 12 Check-In

End of the road....

1. Morning pages?

Every day. I'm going to keep them - they seem to help - but modified. Three pages neatly written is too much sometimes. Three pages sloppily written bugs me. So I will keep them as 1-3 or 2-6 pages (depending on the size of the journal), where how much I write depends on the morning and whether I think I need to keep going. I did that for the first time this morning and it felt so good - and I wrote smaller and wrote more and raced less.

2. Artist date?

Hmm. Unless you count hauling the shelves around, not so much so. I'd just come out of a whole long vacation week where I enjoyed myself at whatever. I did the shelves on Sunday - then I was back at work, and on call, which restricts what I can do a fair bit. I did spend part of each evening for several days reading in bed, though, if that counts. I don't think it really does....

I do intend to continue to do AD's, maybe weekly, maybe only every other week or once a month, but not less than 0once a month. What I really want to do more than formal ADs is I want to learn to live with more care for myself, so that there is that underlying element of taking care of myself always.

3. Synchronicity?

Yes. I had something happen that made me think "I have to write about that in my check-in, how perfect!" I've forgotten what it was.... Sigh.

4. Other issues?

The shellllves are up!

And, honestly, I'm gleeful the AW is over. It was probably good to finish it out but the process had become quite stifling. I'm very glad I did it - the early parts were very useful and the later parts weren't a loss - but I'm glad to be clear of so much Process too. And I'm deeply, profoundly grateful to have found all the wonderful bloggers that I have - I sincerely hope we find some way, such as Kat's proposed creativity work or some other approach, to have some common/connected ground. I also hope we stay in touch, whether or not there's a specific link. :)

Now to take notes on the exercises I didn't do throughout the process, but might want to do at some point....