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.
Incense has been around so long that no one really knows
when, where, or how it originated. It has probably been used almost since
humans discovered how to use fire. If you’ve ever sat around a campfire or
walked on a winter night when people were burning aromatic wood in their
fireplaces or stoves, you might agree that the idea of burning plant materials
and resins came from smelling something amazingly good while using a fire for
warmth, to cook, or for other purposes. The challenge then would have been to
discover what material produced the pleasant odor and isolate it for burning to
mask bad odors, for pleasure, or as a ritual.
I’ve always loved incense, and tend to want to try
everything that’s available. As a result, I find that I have some favorites and some I don't like as well. Of
the sticks, one of my favorites is Nippon Kodo’s Seiun joss sticks in Chrysanthemum scent. However, I have gone more and more to using raw materials on a
burner, especially frankincense - and oud on special occasions. I
also like to experiment with all kinds of other “burnables”, from resins through
woods and grasses.
With any sort of experimentation, you win some you lose
some. However, in this case winning and losing are subjective because what I
enjoy is different from what you might enjoy. I have a big incense collection,
some of which I’ve tried and will never use. To pare the collection down to a manageable size, this week I’m offering a random drawing and giveaway of a set of several
types of manufactured incense sticks. To be entered, just leave a comment saying what type
of incense you enjoy.
Unfortunately, incense packages are bulky and would cost more to ship than they're worth, so this is a US-only draw. The winner will be announced early next week.
First, about sabbaticals. Ever since our summer trip to the
Bahamas, I’ve been unintentionally keeping a low profile. I didn’t release any
perfumes in 2016, I didn’t work much on new ones,and I hardly posted anything on this blog.
Earlier this year I realized that this is Olympic Orchids Perfumes’ seventh
year in business, so it seems logical to rationalize this lack of activity by my
being on sabbatical this year, which, for Olympic Orchids, starts and ends in
July. In academics, sabbaticals are a longstanding tradition that helps protect
us from burnouts, gives us an opportunity to try new and risky things,
formulate new ideas, and come back with greater-than-ever enthusiasm and
creative plans. Now that I’ve officially (in my mind, anyway) declared myself
on sabbatical until July 2017, I’ve gotten back into the studio, engaged in a
flurry of activity that culminated in mods of several new fragrances that are
to be released this year, and will be working mostly behind the scenes to bring
some new features to my business websites, which are badly in need of
Now, on to frustration. We were planning to travel to San
Francisco this weekend for a trunk show at Tigerlily Perfumery last night,
followed by the Taste TV Fragrance Salon today. However, our late morning
flight from Seattle to San Francisco was cancelled. The airline rebooked us on
an afternoon flight, but when we arrived at the airport the status of that
flight was unclear. It was delayed twice, and by the second delay it became
clear that we would not arrive in time for the Tigerlily event and highly
probably that nothing would be flying out that night. We opted not to spend the
night in the airport waiting for the weather to improve, so cancelled
The airline people were as helpful as they could be under the circumstances. They were
upfront about the cancellations and delays and the reasons for them. They tried
to rebook us via Oakland, but there was a huge demand due to the problems in
San Francisco and we wouldn’t have arrived in time anyway even if we had scored
a flight. In the end they were cooperative about cancelling our reservations
The biggest sources of frustration were our powerlessness in
the face of weather issues and the fact that I was looking forward to bringing
preliminary versions of three new perfumes to the events. However, I did learn
that traveling in winter is not a sure thing in a region where we get severe
winter storms and dense fog. The whole experience also renewed my belief that
most airline personnel are competent and trying their best.
And on to embarrassment. This morning I received an e-mail
informing me that this blog had been named one of the “Top 50 Perfume Blogs”,
along with a badge to display. I’m not sure how many perfume blogs there are in
existence, but at the very least this award indicates that we are on someone’s radar.
Those considerations aside, I’m delighted that this blog has achieved a significant level of recognition and grateful for having been chosen to be among so many
excellent blogs and online publications.
I will admit that it feels a little embarrassing, given how
little I have posted here since last summer. The silver lining is not only the
recognition, but also the impetus to work on making the blog even better, and worthy of recognition. Thank
you to everyone who has continued reading during my "sabbatical"!
[Bahamas beach photo is mine, fog photos are from Wikimedia, and the award image is from Top 50 Perfume Blogs]
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