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, July 26, 2017


First things first. The winner of the Bad Birds drawing is YUKI.
Please contact me with your complete shipping address at olympicorchids at gmail dot com or by PM on Facebook

The announcement of the latest random drawing winner was delayed due to my old car breaking down beyond repair and the scramble to find a replacement before I have to start commuting to the university again. One of these days, in the far distant future, we are supposed to have functional public transportation where we live (assuming all goes well), but for now I have to drive.

The outcome of the process was a nice “new” car, but the search for one and the bureaucratic paperwork associated with the sale took a lot of time. The whole transaction brought up a question that I’ve had for a long time. In addition to the cost of the car, the cost of the title transfer and registration paperwork, there was sales tax. I was not the first owner of the car. In fact, there had been two owners before me, each of whom presumably paid sales tax when they purchased it. This means that the state has collected tax on the same item three times.  Somehow the triple-dipping seems illogical, if not unethical. On a smaller scale, our local thrift store also charges sales tax on used items. Taxing of used clothing and household goods seems like the ultimate regressive tax on people who have minimal resources.

Now that the car problem is solved from a practical point of view, we will be taking off soon for a two-week vacation in Aruba. This will be the third year that we have actually taken a real vacation, going somewhere far away from home and spending an extended time without our laptops and phones. That’s not quite true – if I can get wi-fi, I check e-mail on my phone once a day and deal with anything urgent, but that’s it. I’m putting up notices on my websites saying that orders placed before 13 August will not ship right away, and giving a small discount to compensate for the delay, and have already set up my automatic “out of the office” messages to start at the end of the week. Needless to say, I won’t be posting here while I’m gone. 

Nevertheless, I will start a new contest, with the usual goodies – 100 grams of random perfume samples and a few miscellaneous larger fragrant items. To enter, just say what you think about charging sales tax on used items - justified or not?. The winner will be chosen by random drawing.

[Photos taken as is or adapted from Wikimedia] 

Monday, July 17, 2017


It seems like summer has just started, but in less than two weeks we go on our now-traditional August vacation, with a break from phone and other tech time sinks. Once we come back, there’s a week to catch up, then I start teaching again. Where does the time go?

The last couple of weeks were spent trying to keep up with the summer sale and special promotion, as well as wholesale orders. I think today’s industrial-size run to the post office must be the culmination of the summer madness! It’s been a scramble, but it’s great to have so much business from long-time customers and new ones.

Today’s drama was the attack of the robins on our blueberry bushes. They have been eyeing them for the past couple of weeks waiting for the berries to ripen, and today they were all over the bushes, ripping and tearing at the clusters as they stuffed their greedy mouths. Some people like robins, but I have developed an intense dislike of them. It started when I put some baby orchid compots outside to water and went away to do something else for half an hour. When I came back, I found several robins gobbling down baby orchid plants! Of course they chose to eat the rarest and most expensive plants, not the ordinary ones. I recently discovered that robins are responsible for the pre-dawn bird-screaming that wakes me up way too early in the morning. Another bad mark. For years they have eaten our blueberries. One year we tried putting bird-netting over the bushes, but the robins just lifted up a corner, crawled under it, and ate the blueberries anyway. These robins are the fattest, greediest, most aggressive birds I’ve ever seen.

As I try to clear my shelves of excess items, I continue with the Monday giveaways. This week it will be another 100 g of random perfume samples worldwide; for a US winner, the samples will be accompanied by some larger items up to the 1-pound limit for first-class shipping. To enter the drawing, leave a comment about which bird you most dislike. If you don’t dislike any birds, answer the ridiculous corporate interview question of which bird you would like to be and why.

The drawing will be held next Sunday so that I have time to ship your prize before leaving for vacation.

[The blueberry pic is mine. The others are from Wikimedia. The robins appear to have been photographed east of the Rockies, and are much slimmer, cuter, and more benign-looking than than the Seattle variety.]

Thursday, July 6, 2017


Just a week after the trees in back of our house caught fire, we had another fire at the front of our property, where the woods and field border the road. One thing I need to mention is that people in our corner of the Pacific Northwest are obsessed with fireworks. For months before every fireworks-heavy holiday (New Years and Independence Day), tents pop up selling fireworks with names like “TNT”, “Shock and Awe”, and the most appropriate of all, “Redneck Fireworks Stand”. The local populace starts setting off all sorts of explosions a week before the holiday; on the actual date it sounds like a war zone from morning until well after midnight. People must stockpile fireworks because they also set them off whenever a Seattle sports team wins.

There is always the occasional mishap when fireworks are set off by people in various stages of pre-adolescence, adolescence, machismo, and/or intoxication. This year, houses and cars were set on fire, fingers were blown off, and our bamboo grove was set on fire. 

We were calmly having guests over for dinner in the midst of continuous explosions large and small when there was a commotion up by the road. Michael went up to investigate and found a  section of our bamboo grove on fire, with flames flying up to the sky and spreading like wildfire (no pun intended) through the leaves and dry grass below the bamboo. 

The culprits were two teenage boys and their goofy father, who had shot off some sort of explosive device that was “supposed to go up, but went off to the side”. I did not witness the firefighting operation in person, but was told by those who did, that someone in the group was trying to carry water to the fire in an orange bucket full of bullet holes caused by its having been used for target practice (probably the bucket in the photo, which I took from a distance). Imagine the comic effect of a boy carrying water in a bucket spouting water out of multiple holes, ending up empty by the time he got it to the fire!

Eventually, mostly with the help of Michael and our friends, the whole bumbling crowd managed to get some water to the fire through a sort of bucket brigade, and finally through a hose. There’s no serious damage, just a lot of charred grass, some dead bamboo, and some semi-traumatized teenagers who were abjectly hauled to the house to apologize to those of us who hadn’t even realized that all this was going on.

I hope this is the last fire for a while!

[Photos are mine]