What is the Perfume Project?

This blog is a constantly evolving forum for thoughts on perfume, perfume-making, plants (especially orchids and flora of the Pacific Northwest) and life in general. It started out chronicling the adventures of Olympic Orchids Perfumes, established in July 2010, and has expanded in other directions. A big part of the blog is thinking about the ongoing process of learning and experimentation that leads to new perfumes, the exploration of perfumery materials, the theory and practice of perfume making, the challenges of marketing perfumes and other fragrance products, and random observations on philosophy and society. Spam comments will be marked as such and deleted; any comments that go beyond the boundaries of civil discourse will also be deleted. I am grateful to all of you, the readers, who contribute to the blog by commenting and making this a truly interactive perfume project.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

WHAT’S KEEPING ME FROM WRITING? (And Winner of the Draw)

Fall is clearly approaching, with loads of ripe figs and spiders all over the place. I feel like I haven’t posted anything here in ages, and as usual am having a hard time getting back into the habit. A combination of factors have conspired to keep me away from the blog and away from other things that are not at the very top of my crisis mode to-do list.

First there was urgent family business to take care of. Then, I suddenly got a small window of time in which to do orchid care that had been deferred for too many years. There’s still a long way to go on that, but at least I’ve made a start on repotting big plants and potting out small ones individually. I wrote a short, one-act play to submit for our fall show, the deadline for which is fast approaching.

At the same time, I was scrambling to get pre-production samples of the new bottles ready to go to Elements. If anyone is in New York and going there, you can see Olympic Orchids’ new look at the Blackbird display and get to meet Nicole, Liz, and/or Aaron, all wonderful people. I have filled all but one bottle of my set, and will be photographing them within the next few days.

I’ve also been preparing for my class that starts a week from Tuesday. It’s a spinoff of the old one that I’ve been teaching, but is a completely new reincarnation with less “arts” and more “science”, which seems to be what students want these days. They apparently are all suffering from the illusion that “hard science”, math, and engineering courses will get them into high-paying jobs or high-paying professions, and that they can’t afford to waste time on frivolous things like the arts. I’m not so sure about that.

This weekend is full of events as well, including a training class for lavender judges. It happens tomorrow morning so I’ll probably write about it here once I experience it. Who knew that there was such a thing as lavender judging?

Last, but not least, I just realized that in all the chaos I forgot to do the drawing for those who responded to my questionnaire about gift boxes. The little scrap of paper tells me that the winner is GAIL, who gets to choose a 15 ml bottle of perfume. 


  1. WOW! Thank you, Ellen. Now I have to choose!

    In the above photo of the lavender field it looks like Brad sniffing the flowers! He is so into lavender now. A still is definitely on the short list. I have to contact Misha again about how and what best to plant on our bank.

    About the spiders: We were out planting more cedar trees and Brad was attacked by small spiders or chiggers or something. They really got him! (I think I was protected by the perfume I was wearing.) We have more the the usual number of big house spiders this year and garden spiders everywhere. Spiders and fruits all seem to be earlier this year. I would give our plums about four days, which means we will have to pick them earlier. The raccoons can read my mind!

    1. That is Brad sniffing the lavender!

      I don't think we have chiggers here, but I've been bitten by mosquitoes this summer while chopping down blackberry bushes. The garden spiders are everywhere!

  2. How does a lavender judging class go? I'm quite curious o_o And how do figs taste like? Those don't exist where I live, and they don't import them much either.

    Ugh, I hate how much focus there is on hard sciences. Art gives us the chance to explore and express ourselves, wherein science is more static and structural. Plus, money isn't everything in the world. In my opinion, it's more about living life is what's worth.

    And congrats to you, Gail!

    1. Belle, I'll write something about lavender and lavender judging later this week. Figs taste like ... well, they taste like figs. Sweet, juicy, honey-like, fruity, green, lactonic, and aromatic. Different varieties have different tastes. We grow three different varieties, all of which thrive and produce prolifically.

      The course I'm teaching is for beginning university students. Over the years I've seen interest switch almost completely from the arts to the sciences. All of the students sign up for the courses that sound like prerequisites to get into medical school or an engineering program, and no one signs up for arts, music, writing, or anything creative, so those classes get canceled. It's a consumer's market.

      In the US. many students graduate from the university with a huge amount of debt because tuition is so expensive and the economy is so bad. I think that's what drives the preference for courses that are perceived as "practical".

  3. I'm sorry you have had to modify your upcoming class to suite the economic expectations of your new students and/or their parents.
    I like the way Belle puts it in her comment "Art gives us a chance to explore and express ourselves..." (and thank you Belle for the congrats!).
    I imagine these hard science kids, if they are lucky, will figure this out when they are in their mid forties or so and perhaps lament the years they spent working for the man and the corporation. Or maybe not!

    Living and teaching music doesn't afford us every material product and convenience but we enjoy our lives everyday. And thanks again, Ellen, for making "perfume for the people".

    1. Gail, I hope that I can inject some appreciation for exploration, self-expression, and creative endeavors into the "hard science" class. If things continue as they are now, I think a lot of the kids will find that they can't even work for the man and the corporation because everything has been completely automated and outsourced.

      I'm afraid what they will experience is being trained to work for the corporations, and unable to adapt and make their own way when the promised high-paying jobs don't materialize. That's why I try to emphasize communication skills, ability to work independently, and critical, creative thinking in all of my classes. A lot of students don't like it because they just want to mindlessly memorize information up to the point of recognition and take multiple-choice tests.