Violets, Gin, and Pavlovas

When I live in the forest there will be pavlovas, and gin, and Violet Syrup made from an embarrassment of violets! Huzzah! Violets, the modest bloom of spiritual wisdom and faithfulness. A devotion. The color of the Crown Chakra, everlasting love, and remembrance. The shy but mighty violet.

I discovered something. When I live in the forest there will be pavlovas, and gin, and Violet Syrup made from an embarrassment of violets! Huzzah! Violets, the modest bloom of spiritual wisdom and faithfulness. A devotion. The color of the Crown Chakra, everlasting love, and remembrance. The shy but mighty violet.

My absolute favorite flower.

Not all violets have a scent. Here in the midwest corner of the USA the scent of violet is soooo faint. But the classic perfumery material, Violet Leaf Absolute is a personal favorite. Green, fresh, slightly aquatic, with a faint hint of what we consider the scent of violet.

I adore violet scent in perfume, and olde timey violet candies. The scent is delicate, soft, ethereal, and recalls the elegance of my grandmother’s generation. Victorian ladies with names like, Molly, Lily, Rose, and, of course, Violet. Because scent of violet is elusive, oils for perfumery with a violet note are generally not made from the flower itself, but by other magickal and highly secret methods involving dancing winged faeries clad in gossamer fabric that cleverly covers only the sexy bits but leaves them mostly naked (like the violet, violet type faeries are modest) and, of course, violet floral crowns.

Image not my own.

To get ready for my move to a tree house in the forest one day, and inspired by the Green Witch on YouTube, I indulged in my passion for violets and created a couple of sweet batches of Magickal Violet Syrup.

Here’s how to do it.

The first delightful step is walking in the woods and collecting violets. I also found a patch at the border of a farm behind my house. Please say “Thank you” with each you pick. It’s a wonderful chant of gratitude. (Incidentally, here is where you might catch a glimpse of one of those faeries flitting by. You will see them out of the corner of your eye and may think they are a hallucination. Trust me, they are NOT!) The violets will keep in a jar in the refrigerator for several days, so you don’t have to forage them all at once.

After you have your violets, contemplate the nature of the violet with deep reverence. This (and hot, not boiling, water) will coax the color out of the violets.

Here’s where you bring in the sweetness. Add sugar to the violet water, dissolve over heat, and voila you have a simple syrup. I enhanced that elusive violet taste with a single drop of Alpha Ionone (a natural isolate created by Violet Type Faeries mentioned earlier). A few drops of fresh-squeezed lemon will turn the syrup from a brownish purple to a more brilliant violet. Too much lemon and you have a fuscia. See my 2 bottles, and you will know why I made 2 batches. My first has more lemon then desired and is a brilliant fuscia color. They are both lovely, but I wanted to find a true, purple-violet color.

What next? Make a pavlova, of course! Toss the berries in the syrup, drizzle it on the whip cream, and shamelessly eat all of it on your porch. Then bring one to your neighbor!

Yes, Missy got some whip cream ūüėČ

Another joyful way to use violet syrup is in cocktails. Summer Solstice will find me toasting with a Violet Champagne Cocktail. Here’s a Gin Aviation Cocktail we enjoyed on Memorial Day. Any gin fans out there? It is also delicious in sparkling mineral water and ice tea.

So that it’s for now.

I hope you are finding ways to celebrate beauty and find joy in these dark times. These things feed our souls and are what life is about. When you feel joy, it radiates out and touches others. Go on and shine as you do your good life’s work.

Thanks for reading!

For a more exacting recipe of violet syrup, please visit The Green Witch on YouTube.

I’m Going To The Forest To Live Off Wildflowers Now

I will learn to make dandelion wine from it’s golden petals purified by bog water and sunshine. I will tincture the subtle power of violets and offer it to the moon with songs of the strange.

This seems the only sensible thing to do at this point.

I will learn to make dandelion wine from it’s golden petals purified by bog water and sunshine. I will tincture the subtle power of violets and offer it to the moon with songs of the strange. Perhaps I will finally learn from the faeries how to survive by hovering delicately above the blossoms whilst absorbing their scent as food. Thereby never having to harm a single blossom…

My first forays have included civilized greens with violets and forsythia accompanied by butterfly pea blossom and lavender tea.

Here in the bouquet below are more edibles. Chickweed for pesto and mustard to bring wild yellow joy. More violets.

I have no idea if these flowers below are edible. If I eat them, will they make me a shaman? Or possibly put me to sleep until a frog kisses me awake and turns us into forest nobility? (I am just kidding about this of course. One should never eat wild things without knowing if they are poison or good without consulting a local green witch herbologist). I will learn.

But aren’t they beautiful companions?

More Violets please… Don’t rinse them. Have a little faith.

Will Missy like them? Faeries will put a spell, and yes she will.

Please let me know if you’ll be joining me for dinner! Bring your friends!

Deeper Self Care

Feeling pleasure, experiencing beauty, and playing in freedom in our imagination is our natural state. We are creatures of bliss and peace.

I have loved and appreciated so many articles and newsletters with solid suggestions of how to stay healthy and sane during this quarantine – keep hydrated, move your body, breathe, nutrition, wash yer paws, smell exquisite things, keep busy with those long overdue projects or be gentle with yourself when hours and days slip by with nary a single productive task crossed off the to do list, and limit the intake of negative media.

Yes, to all of these.

Let’s include pleasure, beauty, gratitude, and imagination. Are you with me?

‚ÄúIf you are depressed you are living in the past. 
If you are anxious you are living in the future. 
If you are at peace you are living in the present.‚ÄĚ

-Lao Tzu

We are right now creating this very moment by how we interact with the moment. We can choose to be ok and even feel good. We really truly really can.

Creating positive thoughts and feelings are key to staying healthy. We know this, we call it a positive attitude. Let’s take it one step further.

Feeling pleasure, experiencing beauty, and playing in freedom in our imagination is our natural state. We are creatures of bliss and peace. Please release self-judgements and guilt for wanting and experiencing positive things. And let go of fear.

It does not mean we cannot take action. Nor does it mean we don’t care. We are not being disrespectful when we allow ourselves to feel good. We are strong & beautiful creatures with room to encompass it all.

So how to get there? The key is to move towards the yummy things. Make the intention to live in beauty. Use your imagination and step into worlds of wonder. Fill your hours with uplifting music and images whilst feeling gratitude for simple things, the beauty of bird song or a cup of warm tea. The negativity will slip away.

If you are stuck in negativity (anxiety or depression) and struggle with allowing yourself to feel good try this quick fix.

5 Minutes. Sit or lie down. Draw your awareness gently inside. Take 3 deep inhale/exhales. Now make a picture in your minds eye. See someone you love dearly, it can even be your cat or dog, see them in a beautiful place. A place that will make you and your beloved happy. Fascinate on the details of the place, colors, scents, temperature, sounds. Now see your beloved’s face in total bliss. Your beloved is sooo very happy, their fondest wish is come true and you see it in their smile and the sparkle in their eyes. Relish in their happiness. Their happiness is your happiness. Take a moment to experience how this feels in your body. Let this good feeling grow and saturate your entire being. Your physical, emotional, and energy body… your consciousness. Savor this feeling. Make an intention to bring this feeling with you. Slowly let your eyes open and take a deep breathe in and out.

This is an especially good one if you feel guilty about feeling good because (hopefully) you will get a contact high from your beloved feelin’ good. But check it out, it is all your imagination! YOU created it! Yet you still feel good!

Here’s Missy – She is my contact high. Who do you love to see blissed out?

Thank you for visiting, Gentle Reader!

Where Have We Been?

After all, sunshine, bright crisp air, steaming hot peppermint tea laced thick with honey, and exploring mysterious bogs are still advised, are they not?

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After all, sunshine, bright crisp air, steaming hot peppermint tea laced thick with honey, and exploring mysterious bogs are still advised, are they not?

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We went to the bog to dream.

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We knew glorious creatures hid under the spring half ice and green.  Lurking in the water weeds just under the mosses.

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Fae and feral things who cast visions sometimes shadow or light.  But always true.  We knew because we could feel them buzzing.  And hear the pleasing sounds of water lapping on the wooden planks as they stirred and called out to us over the softening of winter’s retreat.

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It was a wonder.

Will you stay in wonderment with us?

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Rose Is The Navy Blue Of India

It was before I became a perfumer.  I was returning a rental car to a destination car rental joint in a forgotten, questionable neighborhood somewhere in southern California.  A creepy, greasy, smelly, filthy, shit-show of a place.

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Image not my own.

It was before I became a perfumer.

I was returning a rental car to a destination car rental joint in a forgotten, questionable neighborhood somewhere in southern California.  A creepy, greasy, smelly, filthy, shit-show of a place.

But the rental agent employed by this dubious establishment – now he was an altogether different deal.

Crisp shirt, impeccable hair, gracious smile, and smelling of roses.  He circled the car with clipboard poised, suavely investigating for dents and dings.  An elegant gentleman from India who classed up the entire experience.  I was transfixed.

“Pink is the navy blue of India” I heard in my mind’s ear… ¬†A guide stone adopted in the ’80’s as inspiration by my performance art co-collaborators and I while brainstorming shows.

We grabbed it from fashionista and Vogue Magazine editor Diana Vreeland, who famously observed, “I adore that pink, it’s the navy blue of India.”

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Diana Vreeland

As artists, we got it.  We took its message of subjectivity all personal-like and it drove us and liberated us.  We questioned rules and limitations.  We expanded and created. We invented ourselves and reinvented ourselves.  We became ourselves.  We expressed ourselves as any seriously silly color of the rainbow we wanted to be.  And we invited our audience to do same.

Back to the greasy car joint.  Here was a man, elegant, masculine, and smelling of roses.

His rose infused elegance reminded me of the Vreeland quote.

I buried the experience in the recesses of my mind.

Years later, as I launched my little perfumery, I struggled to categorize the scents as I thought was required. ¬†Affixing labels on ineffable ethers. ¬†Earnestly weighing them I’d ponder, “Would a man wear this?” ¬†I thought I should conform and slap that label on each fragrance. ¬† Men smell like this. ¬†Woman smell like that. ¬†This one feminine, that one masculine, etc.

Naturally, at my first public fragrance “showing” (scenting?) this fussing was proven utterly unnecessary. ¬† A man strode up, grabbed a perfume I had dutifully classified as feminine – InVisioning Roses – and before I could steer him to the more ‘masculine scent’, he generously doused his wrist and voila! ¬†Mind altered. ¬†Like a second skin, it was a scent made for his very body chemistry. ¬†The rose prevalent but still masculine with spices simmering and electrifying citrus.

It took me back to the elegant rose scented man at the car rental joint, and I got it!  Rose is the navy blue of India!  Rose is for everyone.  Roses all round!

He has been a return customer, my InVisioning Roses fan.  Smelling lushly of Bulgarian rose and bergamot, frankincense and cardamom.

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Image not my own.

I’m grateful to live in a time and place where we can overcome these limitations. ¬†Roses are not just for women! ¬†Woodsy scents are not restricted to men. ¬†Grown up ladies can smell like vanilla and toasted marshmallows and boys can smell like Ylang Ylang. ¬†I mean who the hell cares? ¬†Do you?

 

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Me and my performance art buddies – the group Somebody’s Daughters from Dirt, Food, and the Cleansing Influence. ¬†Left to right – Anna Brown, Kiki Ciesielski, and me.

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Vlasta Gerhardová in her crown of roses!   A model for Magaela Accessories  picture borrowed from the ever inspiring Enchanted Living Magazine

 

Early Autumn Forest Bath

Go ahead and revel and twirl! ¬†Don’t be perfect! ¬†Be wild and wonderful! ¬†Be present! ¬†Be you in the deep, deep woods of autumn!

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October in the woods in SW Michigan, just minutes from my Three Oaks home…

Moving from the heated expansiveness of summer, a refreshing and introspective autumnal forest calls.  Come walk and linger, enjoy scents and colors, experiencing the restoration and inspiration of the trees, plants, and earth.  The shadows are long and the days shorter, heightening our pleasure of the moment.  Falling leaves reveal the skeleton of a tree.  Scent of decaying leaves is both dank and sweet, a curious embrace.

I imagine most of us woodsy fans are aware of the Forest Bath movement, Shinrin-yuko. ¬†(I rambled about Forest Bathing previously in a wintry blog – Winter Forest Bath). In Japan, formal studies are conducted regarding the health benefits of spending time in nature. ¬†A recent¬†study¬†explores the immune strengthening abilities of essential oils from trees and plant life. ¬†‘Scuse me while I dab on some Hinoki Oil…

Most beguiling is the personal creativity that awakes in a Forest Bath.  If we step into the woods with senses open we begin to feel very deeply.  We let the forest in Р into us, our psyche Рand we experience profound pleasure and the rarified activity, play.

Yeah, it sounds “woo-woo.” ¬†Well, it is “woo-woo.” ¬†Let’s just lighten up go with it.

Here’s some sensory forest bath games to explore.

Scent

Find a scent and breathe it in.  Close your eyes.  How does it make you feel?  Where do you feel it in your body.  Open your eyes and follow the scent until you discover another. Repeat.

Pine, I feel in the head, ¬†throat, and heart. ¬† I walk through the woods tracking pine until I discover a fungal-mushroom scent. ¬†This I feel much lower in my body, it is heavy and rich. ¬†Something about the mushroom seems mischievous to me… ¬†Colors seem brighter after the scent of mushroom.

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Vision

Let yourself gaze at something until your eyes go in and out of focus.  Explore trying not to focus on anything!  Find some lovely objects and make a design with them.

I feel connected to my inner child when I do this.

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Hear

Sit in silence.  Close your eyes.  What do you hear?  Repeat, this time with a smile.

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Touch

Here’s a favorite. ¬†Find a tree. ¬†Go ahead and rest your hand on it. ¬†Feel. ¬†Move your hand away, slowly, and see what you feel now. ¬†Ok, umm. Just wow! ¬†Next, silently introduce yourself to this tree. ¬†“Well, hello there, Tree. ¬†I’m Doreen. ¬†It’s so nice to be in your company.” ¬†See what happens…

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Have Fun!

Go ahead and revel and twirl! ¬†Don’t be perfect! ¬†Be wild and wonderful! ¬†Be present! ¬†Be you in the deep, deep woods of autumn!

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Faerie Festival Roundup 2018

I dreamed a dream
of pretty things
Of starlit nights
and Fairy Wings…

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Dust off your wings!  Faerie Festival season is here! 

First, here’s a little bit about faerie festivals. ¬†Then the roundup of festivals I’ve been to, or want to go to, or want to go back to.
But first – Questions.
Just what is a faerie festival?
A bit of a hybrid festival, faerie fests are a little like a music fest, only more family friendly.  A little bit renaissance fair, only with faeries, and in any time period.  A bit steampunk and rainbow tribe.  Only with, faeries.  Expect music, dancing, activities, street performers, craft vendors and lots of creative expression.  Expect Рyou guessed it Рfaeries!
Are costumes required?
Nope! ¬†Although, many folks do dress up in costumes though. ¬†And you’ll have more fun! ¬†All kinds of costumes are welcome- ren fair, pirate, steampunk. ¬†Faerie costumes are very imaginative, have fun with it!
Is there food?
All the festivals have food, but some have more selection than others.  Check the website for each fest.  Bring water.
What about shopping?  Is there cool faerie stuff for sale?
Absolutely! ¬†Bring cash! ¬†Sometimes swipe devices don’t work so well in the woods.
Do people spend the weekend or the night?
Yes!  Most festivals have camping or bunk houses of some sort.  Recommended Р bring twinkly faerie lights and such to deck out your tent.  The camp ground and the after hours parties are where much of the fun happens.  Plus you make friends and get to hear impromptu music jams.  And many festivals have the best after hours dance parties ever.
Are pets welcome?
Mebbe. Again, check the websites of each fest.
Tickets?
If you can purchase ahead of time, do it.  Camping may fill up.
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Here’s the Round-up

(Photographs are my own but not necessarily from each festival they are tucked under)

Friday May 4 – Sunday May 6
York County, PA (Near Baltimore)
A lovely long-standing faerie celebration Р27 years!   The last year at this sweet location as the festival has grown so!
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Friday June 8 – Sunday June 10
Darlington, MD
A friendly and easy meeting of the faerie community with camping or rooms to let. ¬†Don’t miss the Friday night drum and fire jam.
verdant faerie Blogs:
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Thursday June 21 – Sunday June 24
Twisp, WA
This is a meeting of faerie minds and consciousness. ¬†Where you can go immerse and experience true faerie faith. ¬†Seeds of healing…
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Friday June 29 – Sunday July 1
Ouagaquaga, NY
Remote, wild, magic. ¬†This festival is really out there in the woods with tremendous community, spirit, and magic. ¬†A faerie queen on horseback and trolls thrill. ¬†Do camp out… ¬†It’s transcendent.
verdant faerie Blog:
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July 14  РJuly 17
Western Newfoundland, Canada
Costumes and ugly sticks will be available.
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Saturday August 4 & Sunday August 5
South Elgin, IL
This little sweetheart of a fair is getting better (and sweeter) every year.
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Friday August 24 – Sunday August 26
North Plains, OR (Near Portland)
Glamorous, magical, sizable! ¬†Music and a fantastic dance “floor.” ¬†Camping is extensive the food trucks are amazing!
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Friday September 1 – Sunday September 3
Stuart, VA
More east coast faerie fun because we cannot get enough.
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Friday November 9 – Sunday November 11
Delta Baltimore Hunt Valley
Indoors РGet your Faerie fix in the cold months!  Workshops and fantastic music and vendors.
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A Faerie Poem

The following poem is by east coast photographer,  and faerie soul Cathleen Newberg.  I met Cathleen at Maryland Faerie Festival and she kindly responded to a verdant faerie newsletter with this inspired enchanted poem.  Enjoy!  Thanks, Cathleen for letting me share here!
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I dreamed a dream
of pretty things
Of starlit nights
and Fairy Wings
Of dancing lightly
with feet bared
As if Gravity
no longer cared
My spirit soaring
no longer bound
Celestial  murmurings
such sweet sounds
Expanding, expanding
dreaming the dream
of starlit nights
and fairy wings
~ Cathleen Newberg

Know of any of faerie festivals not mentioned here?

Maybe I’ll glimpse you fluttering by…

 

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Copal + Dunes = Bliss

Life wants nothing of you, except for you to do and be yourself.  Life wants you to live.  To live and feel your extraordinary self in this extraordinary experience of life no matter what you choose to do.   Be present with the extraordinariness of you. Society will try to tell us life is ordinary and mundane.  But it is not so. Do not believe this.  Choose otherwise.

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Was it the new moon?  Already?  And a spring new moon!

Time to plant seeds of intention!

If it wasn’t for my dear friend and aromatherapist, Miriam, (Kindred Earth Botanicals) reminding me of our shared monthly new moon mermaid card spread ritual, I’d have missed it in the frenzy of all my doing and then subsequent crashing overwhelm in the form of a nasty cold.

I’m doing and busy and running and late…

Trying to do all the things. ¬†And be all the things to all the people I hold dear. ¬†Which sometimes seems like everyone…

If it wasn’t for this new moon reminder (thank you Miriam!) I would have neglected, again, to tincture my Copal Resin. ¬†(I got a sizable chunk on a trip – read here – and was instructed in sacred Mayan alchemy to tincture on the new moon for 9 days.)

Back to all the things.  The dilemma.   All the things!  I want them all!  Do them all, be them all.  And how to impart the faerie message to humans the beauty that is life and that each person is a perfectly imperfect incarnation of beauty, power, and infinite love?

Admittedly, I get jealous of people with single-minded focus.  They make progress.  They get shit done.

Me? ¬†I have so many passions and struggle to coax myself into just one or maybe two. ¬†But I get itchy feet, and I love so much all the things…

Sometimes I am harsh with myself though.  You must decide, Doreen!  Sigh.  It happens.

So I thought this new moon I’d ask life, aka spirit, what to do with this dilemma of passion for many things. ¬†After all, why must I hold the reins?

Life, what will you have of me?  That is what I will plant this new moon.  Send me little messages, drop me a trail of breadcrumbs through the forest, and I will follow you.

First bread crumb.  The mermaids (cards) told me to go to the water and feel. (Typical mermaids, water, sensuality, emotions, feelings, sex, love.)

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I took the already scent-blossoming Copal tincture , a thermos of tea, my journal, and my dog, and hiked up a dune to a favorite contemplation spot…

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Missy kept a look out.  She can be very protective when I go into meditation / ritual mode.

Second breadcrumb.  Scent-savor the copal.  Inhale.  Open the flood-gates.

Ethereal-sweet-resinous copal, I see you. ¬† I feel you. ¬†When I anoint myself and inhale slowly, I feel you in my heart and solar plexus chakra. ¬†You melt into me a lover’s caress for my psyche. ¬†The tingle-glowing within begins. ¬†From my heart you spiral down warmly engulfing my radiant center. ¬†A sweetness of crying for beauty of life. ¬†Love-tears crystallize and drop but do not sting. ¬†Bliss. ¬†You bring a miraculous bliss, sacred Copal. ¬†You bring me to my nature. ¬†My nature is bliss.

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From this state, I persist with my query. ¬†What does life want of me? What does it want me to do? ¬†I’m ready to take notes…

I wait. ¬†In my mind’s eye I see a flash of lightening. ¬†Then, the surprising answer.

Nothing.

Life wants nothing of you, Doreen, except for you to do and be yourself.  Life wants you to live.  To live and feel your extraordinary self in this extraordinary experience of life no matter what you choose to do.  So, the activity you choose to do matters not.  Only feel into it.  Be present with the extraordinariness of you.

Yes, do all the things.  Do anything.  Do nothing.  Just feel.

Including having a nasty cold from overwhelm.  Feel the sweetness and bliss of THAT!

Society will try to tell us life is ordinary and mundane.  But it is not so.  Do not believe this.  Choose otherwise.

But we all know this, yes?  Inside, yes, we do.

I guess I just needed a little reminder. ¬†Don’t we all from time to time?

Thank you, Sacred Copal.  Thank you, Mermaids.  Thank you, Missy.  Thank you, Me.

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Belize & Guatemala Part II

…I was touched to see a young taxi driver holding my mom’s hand and slowly walk her to his old cab with the cracked windshield and peeling window darkeners.

People and Places

People, The Group

Belize and Guatemala happened for me this past January because of adventurers Deb and Bob Stelton, through their mom and pop travel company Mexi-Mayan Travel.

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Deb and Bob Stelton climbing the ruins, Mexi-Mayan Travel

And they really are my mom and pop.

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At the Ruins of Tikal

Forever curious, an inspiration to countless students and seekers, hosts and trip organizers of expeditions since the 1960’s, they are only now at 88 and 91 years young just starting to slow down.

I’ll admit to a tug at the heartstrings. ¬†Climbing around ruins and getting in and out of boats or beat up trucks is a challenge at their age. ¬†I am an arm for my mother to lean on, (darn arthritic knees!) or a cheerleader as she navigates a high ledge, on her butt, backwards. ¬†I am an ear for my dad’s failing hearing, and also sometimes a stabilizer for him also. ¬†It’s not easy for them and sometimes I worry. ¬†Well, enough of that. ¬†You get the picture. We treasure each of these excursions.

It has been an honor and delight to accompany them and sometimes work as guide on many of their madcap journeys.

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Travelin’ in high style!

Talk about gratitude, my life has been rich with culture and experience. ¬†They’ve modeled viewing the world with wonder and curiosity.

Follow their lead, my friends! ¬†Pursue your passions, interests and loves as long as you can! ¬†It keeps the mind, body spirit, strong and supple like a cheetah…

Other than the ‘rents and I there were 12 more adventurers. ¬†All intelligent, mature, considerate, and often hilarious individuals,¬†including 3 archeologists. ¬†All curious about and considerate of the culture of Belizeans and Guatemalans. ¬† Many archeology passionistas who appreciate a cold local beer at lunch.

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The group at the Mayan ruins of Tikal

More People, Local People

A few words about the people of Belize. They are funny, kind, patient, and generous.  Names of businesses and street signs reflect their humor and generally easy-going nature.

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More good natured monkey bizness…

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Out in the jungle some funny guys transformed this tree stump into cigar smokin’ creatures with pebbles as eyes and sticks for cigars, can you see? ¬†Oh, and the tree moss as hair.

Our local guides took care of us like family.  Once even ingeniously packing a home cooked lunch feast (made by one of their sisters in the wee hours of the dawn) which we enjoyed at a ruin in the open air replete with china plates!

I was touched to see a young taxi driver holding my mom’s hand and slowly walk her to his old cab with the cracked windshield and peeling window darkeners.

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A verdant house with a red sofa in San Ignacio?   Yes, please!

In San Ignacio the dogs are plump and adored.  They wander the streets freely and bark all night. All night.  They bark all night!  All.  Night.  Yawn.  Supposedly they are watch dogs, but I think they are more just party animals.

I’ve been to Guatemala about 6 times. ¬†Here too I find the people are kind. ¬†Traditional Mayan spirituality is intriguing and very alive in Guatemala. ¬†If you can experience a Mayan shaman ceremony or visit a Maximon¬†shrine, go for it!. ¬†The shamans will speak directly to the gods on your behalf, building a sacred ritual fire. ¬†Maximon is the saint of drunkards and whores. ¬†He can be bought off with offerings of cash, booze, and cigarettes. ¬†I mean just do it! ¬†Can’t hurt, right?

Places

In San Ignacio we stayed at the¬†Rolsen Hotel. ¬†The Rolsen sits atop a hill a bit out of the hustle and bustle of downtown. ¬†Modest and clean accommodations, very kind and helpful staff. ¬†Nice Pool. ¬†Although the coffee was dreadful, the breakfasts were hearty and the fruit plate was super fresh. ¬†Best thing on the menu – Pork Pibil. ¬†There is a lovely view of the city from the dining room. ¬†And it’s easy to get a cab or tour company and take excursions from here. ¬†We used the dependable and friendly family-run local tour company,

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Restaurant at the Rolsen Hotel (See the green house over there?)

BTW ¬†– we about fainted over the food at San Ignacio’s restaurant¬†The Crave.¬†¬†So yummy!

Also the Belize Zoo is lovely place, small in size with lush flora.  I am not keen on zoos but this zoo is more of a rescue center.  I petted a rescued jaguar!

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A walk through the Zoo.

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Junior, a rescued jaguar.

In the Peten area of Guatemala we stayed three nights at the remote ¬†El Sombrero Lodge. ¬†Run by an Italian woman who came to visit as a young lady then fell in love with the land (and a man) and never left. ¬†She is assisted by her adult sons. ¬†This lodge was my favorite on the trip. ¬†Outstanding service and delicious home cooked meals (they baked me a birthday cake with only an afternoon’s notice, and served it warm for desert!) ¬†The lodge is tucked in the jungle on a crocodile filled lake (no swimming). ¬†I found the rooms utterly charming – screened-in thatched roof structures. ¬†You will hear the howler monkeys! ¬†Some rooms are more “communal” then others. ¬†You may hear your neighbors! ¬†The lodge generates their own power (which goes off at night unless you make other arrangements), keep their own bees, and serve the honey with homemade pancakes. ¬†Excellent coffee. ¬†The owners are highly knowledgeable about Mayan archeology and offer excursions to nearby ruins by boat, horse, or car. ¬†The road to this place was exceedingly bumpy, but worth it!

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El Sombrero dining room

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Walkway at El Sombrero

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My lodgings at El Sombrero

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The bar at El Sombrero

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The lake at El Sombrero

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The boat we took to see ruins at El Sombrero

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Happy horses

 

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Tree roots in Guatemala

Deb had the brilliant idea to finish our trip at the most luxurious of the three “hotels.” ¬†So we were off by a scenic boat ride to, The Lamanai Outpost Lodge. ¬†Private, quiet rooms, service, food and cultural and ecotourism activities here were first rate. ¬†Hot showers, air conditioning, comfy beds, beautiful landscaping, hummingbirds everywhere. ¬†24 hour coffee is forever in the communal room. Our hosts mysteriously and repeatedly offered drinks on the house. ¬†Was it something about us? ¬†Or is it the norm? ¬†Hard to say… ¬†Regardless, cheers!

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View from the restaurant at Lamanai Outpost Lodge

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Restaurant at Lamanai Outpost Lodge

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Lamanai Outpost Lodge

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Lamanai Outpost Lodge

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Lamanai Outpost Lodge

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Lamanai Outpost Lodge

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Lovely view from my cabin…

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The river ride to Lamanai Outpost Lodge

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The river ride to Lamanai Outpost Lodge

Beautiful Ruins

Finally, we visited many ruins… ¬†I’m sorry the names escape me (there were so many!) but here are a few favorite pictures…

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My feet on the top of a ruin

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Me

Thank you for reading! I’d love to hear about your adventures – please comment!

More Links

Here’s the itinerary for the trip:
Belize and Guatemala – A Mayan Ecological Adventure

Belize & Guatemala Part I

If you’ve more interest in Mayan culture, and scent here’s a little Mayan Story I wrote:
Sex and Scent – A Cautionary Mayan Tale

And here’s another blog about Guatemala and coffee from a previous trip:
Smelling the Coffee, Generosity of Spirit

 

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Me again…

Belize & Guatemala Part I

Careless as I might be in packing clothes, not so with perfume.  Not always.  But mostly.  Laying the potential fragrances out ahead of time to sniff and dream gets me in the mood.

Scent & Faeries

What perfumes to bring on a jungle faerie hunt…

“A cozy one, a sexy one, one for the weather, and a wild card.” ¬†Inviting advice offered ¬†from friend and blogger Julie Johnson of The Redolent Mermaid to my quandary on a last trip.

I confess that mostly I’m a last minute packer. ¬†Sure, I have grand plans to pack ¬†two-three days before a trip and then re-pack the day before, ¬†removing half of the stuff, etc. ¬†But no, mostly, I just end up shoving everything into the suitcase last minute. ¬†Yoga mat? ¬†Check…

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Hmmmm – packing bags in my bag…

Careless as I might be in packing clothes, not so with perfume. ¬†Not always. ¬†But mostly. ¬†Laying the potential fragrances out ahead of time to sniff and dream gets me in the mood. ¬†And it’s an adventure to see if the way I predict fragrance interacting in an environment will play out in just that way.

For this jungle faerie hunt I selected a small vial of rare Hawaiian Jasmine in oil for my weather (tropical) scent. ¬†A gift from a friend who procured it at a farmer’s market in Kauai it seemed an obvious choice.

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Rare Hawaiian Jasmine and Butterfly

A small potent vial of verdant faerie’s Butterfly was my cozy scent. ¬†More of an aromatherapy scent than a perfume, Butterfly is bright with Geranium and Mint, and grounding with Clary Sage. ¬†It is perfect for jet-lag or the disorientation that sometimes accompanies travel. ¬†The bottle is now empty… ¬†Somehow it’s brightness was a soothing tonic. ¬†Helping me to feel stronger and ready for adventure.

My sexy ¬†scent was verdant faerie’s Eau De Parfum, Duskblossom, a rich scent with a seductive heart of Jasmine & Tuberose and a complex narcotic patchouli / tobacco base.

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Duskblossom

On the trip I ended up slathering Butterfly on my wrist to wake up and then layered my sexy pick DuskBlossom on top, day and night. ¬†During the day I would occasionally layer on the straight up jasmine. ¬†I found the Hawaiian Jasmine and Jasmine-heavy Duskblossom perfect for the jungle. ¬†It’s heady seductiveness lured me into lush jungle spirit. ¬†Blooming, thick, both ethereal and and of the earth.

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The wild card was J. Hannah’s award-winning Skive. ¬†I especially love to take this one traveling because of it’s nifty eco-lux and travel ready packaging. ¬†The scent itself is always a surprise to me, although I’ve known it for several years. ¬†And its smokey, woodsy, musky, tea scent always brings out unique nuances in the environment I am exploring. ¬†I reached for Skive just once. ¬†At the Lamanai Lodge deep in the jungle. ¬†On a night when I got the itch to enjoy a scotch at the lodge bar. ¬† Stay up late listening to the songs of night critters as the Howler monkeys finished their last throaty bellows. ¬†The smooth smokiness matched the scotch and the sounds. ¬†I felt far away.

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J. Hannah’s Skive with its leather ‘glamping’ wrap

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That’s my scotch over there at the Lamanai Lodge.

Once, as an experiment I put some drops of Butterfly into a pair of smelly sneakers. ¬†My brilliant idea did nothing to mask this funk. ¬†Then they just smelled like funk and Butterfly. ¬†C’est la vie. They are now sitting with good ol’ baking soda.

Interestingly, the lush intensity of the jungle softened all the fragrances, and I was really digging DuskBlossom with Butterfly as I wandered around under massive vine covered trees investigating endless variations of miniscule mosses.

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Copal

In the off-the-beaten-track shop of Miss Garcia I hit gold in the form of Copal Resin.  Miss Garcia opened the door of her pink shop to us on a Saturday night.  Her smile and transcendent Saturday night copal smudging scent greeted us. Still soft and fresh, she unwrapped the copal and cut me off a 1/4 pound piece.  I mentioned I wanted to tincture it for perfume, and she instructed that it should soak for 9 days, a sacred number as per the Mayans.

I left the shop floating on an incense cloud basking in the radiance of the kindly Miss Garcia.

I will tincture some in organic alcohol and oil.  For 9 days, as recommended.

Incidentally, Copal is a resin from the Copal Protium Tree.  It is used mostly as an incense but can add a lovely incense base note to perfumes.  A bit like Frankincense only sweeter and more ethereal.

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Miss Garcia

 

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Miss Garcia’s shop.

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All the gorgeous imperfections.

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Cutting it is like cutting a very firm cheese

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The tree is nicked to cause the resin to flow.

Mayan Faeries – The Alux

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The faerie hunter.

This dapper fellow and frequent travel companion is my dad.  In addition to being an incredibly literate professor, he shares my curiosity in faeries.  He always gets his question out in the most serious and professorial of manners, asking our local guides what they know of the Alux (pronounced ah-loosh) a Mayan sprite or faerie.

As children our Belizean guides were cautioned not to go into caves.  In the caves the Alux lie in wait and will get you.  And parents are advised to have more than 1 child as the Alux are less likely to talk a child into going off with him if a sibling is present.

“Does anyone ever come back from there after being caught?” asks yours truly.

“Ummm. ¬†No.”

Now, doesn’t that make you just a touch suspicious? ¬†Don’t you wonder what it’s like in the land of the Alux? ¬†Maybe it’s super nice and the children don’t WANT to come back… ¬†Hmmm.

Belize & Guatemala Part II coming very soon..

In the meantime for more scented beauty, check out Julie Johnson’s blog –

The Redolent Mermaid

Do you travel with perfume?  How do you decide what to bring?

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