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.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


There’s no easy way to say it, especially after such a long hiatus on here, so I’ll just say it. My mother died on the morning of September 4, after a long illness. It was not unexpected, but it was still an upheaval of my world. This remarkable woman who had always been there for me, is no longer a part of my life. I can’t visit her, listen to her reminiscences, talk to her on the phone, go for a walk with her, listen to her sing or complain about her neighbors or the broken elevator in her building, treat her to a tub of halvah, a bottle of perfume, or a music compilation on CD. I’m still grappling with the reality that I can’t just dial her number and talk to her. She’s gone. Disappeared from the face of the earth. Living only in my memory.

I took some time off from everything this summer so that my son and I could spend time with her while she was still able to appreciate it. When I wasn’t with her in person, my husband and I talked on the phone with her almost daily. My brother and I became a lot closer. I don’t regret a second of it. So what if I got behind on everything? I’ll eventually catch up on those things that are important, and the rest can just go undone forever. Sometimes it takes a death to make us realize what is truly important and what is just meaningless busy work.

This is going to be a short note just to let my readers know why I haven’t been posting anything here and to help me break out of the emotional paralysis that has been part of my life for the last few months. Fortunately I have supportive friends and family, but ultimately this is still a shock that I have to deal with on my own. Today is the first time I’ve felt like writing about it, so I hope it’s a trend that will lead back to doing the things I love to do, including writing, while minimizing all of the things I have to do but don’t enjoy.


  1. Ellen, I'm very sorry to such sad news.

    It's a good sign that you wanted to write today. I hope you will feel like writing again soon.

    Take care. We'll be here waiting for you.


  2. Dear Ellen,

    We were so sorry to learn of your family's loss. Please accept our most sincere sympathy and understanding.

    Gail and Brad in Issaquah

  3. Ellen--

    I am very sorry to hear about your loss. Having lost the two grandparents who (mostly) raised me and my bio father, I can appreciate how much a shock it is, no matter how expected. I wish you peace and prosperity as you work through it.


  4. Ellen,
    I'm so sorry to hear your news. But I think you'll always have your mother with you. Just ask, "What would Mom have thought about this?"


  5. So sorry for your loss. My mother is now 96 and definitely slipping away from us. I think of her every day. It is nice to know that you have supportive family and friends. I've missed reading you, so it is also nice to know that you have begun in a small way to feel like writing again.

    Be well,

  6. Many thanks to all of you for your sympathy and kind words. I think the worst is over and I'll slowly get back to writing. It's good to have friends here!