Thursday, September 27, 2007


I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a metropolitan port city in South America. At the age of three, my parents moved us to the United States to pursue the American Dream. Unlike the musical or film Evita, the Peron reign created havoc for the country. Thus, many immigrated to other parts of the world and continue to do so. Beginning in 1880 Argentina became one of the most prosperous countries of the world. Buenos Aires, meaning "Fair Winds" was considered the gem of South America. The downfall occurred with the arrival of Juan Peron in 1946.

We immigrated to America through New York City and settled in Southern California. My mother began working at a shop in Beverly Hills crocheting and knitting for the stars. Remember that little bohemian hat Ali MacGraw made famous back in the 70's? My mom made those! The producer Robert Evans would come to the shop and order them for his wife at the time, Ali. My mother also created the sparkly dresses Charo would wear on the Merv Griffin Show and Las Vegas.

Meanwhile my father began working with computers and eventually moved on to a clerk at LAX with Aerolineas Argentinas, the Argentine Airlines. This was a great advantage due to terrific travel fares. We would return to Argentina regularly, usually two times a year and often for extended stays during December and the Summer. Since Argentina is below the equator in December we would celebrate Christmas in Mar del Plata, a beach community. During our summer it was winter in Argentina, which meant skiing in the Andes and lots of rain and thunderstorms in Buenos Aires.

Two natural perfumers have made perfumes associated with my homeland. Mandy Aftel of Aftelier created Tango and Ayala Moriel is working on Gaucho. I find it so interesting that they have chosen to work with these themes. I have been developing a series of perfumes related to Argentina ever sense I first began to study Aromatherapy, however, they have been put on the back burner. The protection of the Coastal Live Oak has taken precedence. I will forever remember opening up our suitcases in Buenos Aires and my cousin Gaby exclaiming "Oh, there's that America smell!" Of course I was always partial to the scent of Argentina that permeated our suitcases on our return trip to the States.

Travel to Argentina
Wikitravel: Argentina
Feminine Style: Ali Mac Graw

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


"I rise through the strength of Mi-cha-el, Light of the Sun, Radiance of the Moon, Splendor of Fire, Swiftness of Wind, Depth of Sea, Stability of Earth, Firmness of Rock. Mi-cha-el!"
- St. Patrick

September marks a new season replete with the start of school and many celebrations. The Fall Equinox took place last Friday, September 23rd, marking another seasonal turn in the wheel. This "holy" day is often associated with the gratitude for the bounty of the harvest as well as signaling a time to move inward as the light begins to diminish.
Michaelmas on September 29th is my favorite of all the Autumnal celebrations. I came to know this feast day when my daughter Eve was four, attending a Waldorf School. Michaelmas celebrates courage, the heroes journey and conquering our dark side, symbolized by the battle with the dragon. The stories tell of Archangel Michael coming to the aid of St. George, a brave knight, who slays or tames the dragon. This festival calls forth our inner light as nature goes into her winter sleep. It is the first of a series of seasonal celebrations of light.

Waldorf Education
Michaelmas at a Waldorf School on YouTube

Friday, September 14, 2007

Canada: Sensorium, Scent

"Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived." ~ Helen Keller

The sense of smell has been critical to the survival of human beings. Early in our evolution, when we were on all fours, our smell sense was vital to our survival. As we became upright, olfaction was no longer the dominant system. We still depended on it for locating our food, mating, and hunting however the other sense systems began to play a much larger role.

Some interesting smell facts:
* The sense of smell is 10,000 times stronger than any other sense. * Every person experiences the same exact odor differently. * We have a keener sense of smell later in our day. * Woman have a more acute sense of smell than men. * Olfactory nerves can renew themselves. * Each of us has an individual odor thumb print. * The right hemisphere of the brain is responsible for odor recognition. * Smells fall into the following catagories:
minty, floral, ethereal, musky, resinous, foul and acrid.

Smell Idioms:
To win by a nose. The sweet smell of success. I smell a rat. Everything is coming up roses. Smelling like a rose. Nosy. The nose knows. Something smells fishy.
Wake up and smell the coffee!

The word for smell in Spanish and French is "sentir" which means to feel / to smell.

When I heard we were going to Vancouver the first thing I did was to e-mail fellow botanical / natural perfumer Ayala Moriel. Ayala and I have known each other and participated in a few perfume groups and exchanges, but we had never had the opportunity to meet in person. Having arrived in Vancouver late in the afternoon, Greg suggested we go on a walk. As we toured the city by foot he mentioned that the following morning we would be shown an apartment as a potential live space during his stint at Rainmaker Studios. When he told me the address, I looked at him in disbelief. It was the same building that Ayala lived! What synchonisity.
My first visit with Ayala was fun, insightful and inspiring. Like illustrators, niche perfumers spend much time in solitude, cloistered in their ol'factories. It is a delight to meet
other artists working in the same medium, and a double treat when given the opportunity to see how they work. The arena of Natural/Botanical perfume often resembles Gladiatorial contests of ancient Rome. Ayala and I choose not to be part of the adversarial games and see the benefits of an inclusive perfume community.
Upon my arrival I was treated to a custom blended tea made specifically for her perfume Tizrah, meaning linden in Hebrew. In addition to the delicious tea she brought out fresh dates and Ethiopian tahini, as well as chocolate truffles. What an unforgettable and wonderous combination of flavors. I was enchanted with the fresh date and tahini pairing.
Ayala took me up to the studio and introduced me to her consultation process which was followed by experiencing her perfumes and witnessing a bit of her working methodology. She is very warm and willing to share glimpses into her scented realm, including some fragrances still in progress, soon to be released. My favorite of the perfumes I experienced and have samples of include Tamya: a cheerful floral, Caberet: a warm, rosy fragrance and Espionage: a deep, leathery perfume which dries down with a lovely soft and sweet powder note.
Ayala has just debuted her new, very expansive and informative website where you can read more about her and get samples. Additionally you can view a feature of her on CBC TV creating a custom perfume.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Canada: Sensorium, Taste

There are almost 10,000 taste buds located in our mouths, which can distinguish five different types of flavors: sweet, salty, sour, bitter and unami. We are all familiar with the tastes of sweet, salty, sour and bitter, but, what is unami? Unami receptors pick up the taste of glutanic acid salts such as MSG.
The sense of taste is the weakest of all our senses and depends in part on the sense of smell. Evident by when we have a cold, and can't taste our food.
We were quite well nourished during our stay in British Columbia. Close to the hotel we had a lovely farmers market on Saturday mornings. The market had all sort of delights which we would bring back to the kitchen in our hotel room and create feasts with. The three of us are still yearning for those yummy welsh cakes we picked up one morning. There was even an accordion player at the market who played a lovely Argentine tango for me. It was great to see plenty of Organic Certified produce as well as many farmers using the biodynamic method of growing and tending the earth.
The Public Market at Granville Island was another wonderous place to buy groceries, although we only found one Organic vendor. There were stalls with pasta, bread, pastries galore, fudge, and flowers...all FRESH. We also purchased Canadian maple products and some treacle for Eve.
Besides cooking regular meals we ate out quite a bit, meeting with many of the other production artists from Rainmaker after their arduous workday.
Vancouver has some splendid eateries, with lots of variety and interesting fusion restaurants. Finding places that did not include MSG in their food preparation was an interesting challenge I was not prepared for. One of our regular favorites was Earls, it reminds me a bit of Jerry's on Prince Street in NYC. Other favorites were; the Sandbar in Granville Island, The Pacific School of Culinary Arts where the students are both your server and cook, Azia for asian fusion and really delicious roti, Arbutus Market Neighborhood Coffeehouse was a regular when we were
in Kistalano for lunch and craved their panini sandwiches, Baru was fun, although super slow,
Rebar Modern Food in Victoria had the most amazing veggie burgers on the planet, Moxies was very good, similar to Earls in it's classic grill quality,

Eve and I liked to get homemade gelato after taking the ferry over to Granville Island, YUM!

Biodynamic Farming
Demeter International
Sandbar Seafood Restaurant
The Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts
Arbutus Neighborhood Coffeehouse
Capers Market
Granville Island directory
GI Gelato & Coffee House

Canada: Sensorium, Hearing

Hearing, unlike the sense of smell, taste and vision, is a mechanical process. Hearing is based on movement. Sounds produce a vibrational wave which is picked up by the ears.

In Vancouver we stayed at the Carmana Plaza Hotel, a modern, Asian influenced high rise in the heart of downtown with spectacular views of the city, harbor and tree covered mountains. The benefits of being in the middle of the city were tremendous, however, the noise level was very high. This was a strong contrast to the stillness and quiet found in the woods.
The main language in Vancouver is English, however, on the streets you hear a variety of languages. The Asian influence is high and thus Chinese, Korean and Japanese are very common. The French influence is found more in the eastern portion of Canada.
My very favorite musician is Loreena McKennitt, a Canadian singer-songwriter. Her music weaves together celtic and arabic sounds combined with a sweet melodious voice and well written songs often inspired by great poems. She is currently touring, although it does not appear she will be coming to our City of Angels. (Darn!)

Loreena McKennitt
Loreena McKennitt wiki info

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Base note

We don't have TV hookup here at the house. We prefer watching films, and in the case of LOST, we download it off iTunes. My daughters father, Ben, works in the advertising world. When he comes by to see Eve, he shares, via the internet, some of the cooler commercials. This is one of them:

Canada: Sensorium, Touch

The sense of touch is the first and last one that we experience. It has the ability to distinguish between something soft, hard, smooth, wet, dry, etc. We experience this sense through receptors located on the skin, some areas being more sensitive than others. The skin is the largest organ of the body, like a sponge it is a porous membrane. In Aromatherapy the skin is one of the pathways we focus on when utilizing pure essential oils therapeutically. Vancouver is much cooler than Los Angeles in the month of August, so much so that most of the time I was cold.
Vancouver gets an average rainfall of about 43 inches per year, which is why it is called a temperate rain forest and the city is so green.

On our first visit to Granville Island we discovered the Silk Weaving Studio. The moment I saw the shop name in combination with the display of lustrous rainbow colored silk hanging from the wooden racks, I was drawn in. The shop is set right on the edge of the island, with large windows overlooking the waterfront onto False Creek. One enters through a gallery space with exquisite woven garments on display, including iridescent scarves, Irish inspired shawls, locally made hats, etc. Having been completely seduced by the beautiful creations, you then enter into a secondary room with the hanging silk threads, several looms, balls of colored yarns and a small area on the counter showcasing the industrious creators of the silk, the silk worms. A cocoon contains one continuous strand of silk that measure nearly one mile! The silk is incredibly soft and seductive to the touch. The labor intensive process involved in preparing silk for weaving is akin to that of creating botanical perfume. In fact, all these artisan trades of ancient times, require huge amounts of hand work that the industrial age managed to simplify, for better and worse. Personally I choose to support businesses that incorporate nature, the human being and hand work. There is great magic and so much evident love in products produced in this manner.
We explored two other yarn shops while in British Columbia, "Stitches, Quilts and Yarns" on Salts Spring Island and "The Bee Hive" in downtown Victoria. Each of these independent boutiques exhibited great aesthetic appeal for the eyes and incredibly soft to the touch. The feel of handwoven silk and spun wool is captivating. The warmth provided by a a woolen scarf around the neck is sensual and snuggly. Eve was a very busy bee while in Vancouver, she produced several scarves, many of which were made from yarns purchased at these inspiring shops.

Silk Weaving Studio, Granville Island
Silk Worm Information
Stitches, Quilts and Yarns, Salts Spring
The Bee Hive, Victoria