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On Fragrance & Pheromones

Man, the last couple of weeks have been *busy*! Crazy at work, and a bit chaotic at home too. I’ve been trying to figure out new routines for my weekends, easier mornings, and my late-night writing time with little success. And I switched up my vitamins in the middle of all that, which was an incredibly stupid thing to do (although in my defense, I didn’t know all that was going to happen just then).

One new thing I did try that seems to be having a positive effect is to plug in a diffuser with feel-good doggie pheromones for the Murph. These have been around for a long, long time, and several studies have shown them to be moderately to highly effective in a decent percentage of test subjects, so I thought I’d take a chance. The pheromones emitted are like the ones a mother dog would give off around her puppies – calming and comforting. And it does really seem to make him less anxious and less prone to licking his legs…for a surprisingly long period of time. Combined with the CBD oil and flower essences, we might have stumbled on a winning combination for getting his legs to heal. Fingers crossed!

I’ll admit to using pheromones to my own advantage occasionally as well. We all know at least a few people who can make us feel good just by being in the same room with them (closer is better, obviously, but a few feet works fine), without any interaction whatsoever. That would be a pheromone-driven oxytocin “hit” to the brain, and it’s good stuff. When I need a hit, I’ll intentionally seek one of those people out, just for a few seconds of semi-nearness. I have no idea how my own pheromones affects them, but I figure as long as they’re not running away screaming, it’s probably not all bad for them either. LOL

Pheromones are odd things in that we sense and process them through smell, but they’re so subtle that we can’t really label them with a specific fragrance. But man, I tell you what. It’s springtime, and the flowering trees are in full bloom around here, and I have such a bittersweet relationship with them it’s not even funny.

I love the smell of tree blossoms of all types. Our Sand Cherries don’t smell at all during the day, but at night? Oh man. So sweet and thick in the backyard…it’s beautiful wafting through the darkness.

And the ornamental trees that are in more and more places throughout the city, including right in front of my parking spot at work? *sigh* The fragrance walking the two blocks to and from my office is intoxicating. I could sit out there under one of those trees, breathe in that perfume and probably get high if you left me there long enough.

I’m not a fan of flowers indoors, perfumes on people, or fragrances in room sprays and such. All that just plugs me up and makes me sneeze. But I do so love the flowering trees and the delightfully sweet scent they put out. It’s even worth a few sneezes just for the happiness and peace it brings me.

They’re almost, but not quite, as good as a good pheromone hit. 😉


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Beauty, Patience, & Dog Food

This past weekend as I was working in the yard and exposing my oh-so-pasty legs to the sun for the first time since last summer, I thought about beauty, and the patience it often requires. Effort too, to a certain extent, but while I trimmed the rose bushes and maple saplings and cleared away last year’s weeds, it occurred to me that while in that moment it felt like a lot of effort to facilitate growth and eventual beauty, the effort on my part wasn’t actually necessary.

The thing is, despite the dead leaves and weeds and dead grasses, the roses were budding out (and in one case, growing new canes under the weeds), the trees were budding out, and geraniums were pushing up through the dead leaves. Nature really does “find a way”, no matter what we do for (or to) it. And even weeds can be beautiful if we’re not trying to keep them from strangling our favorite “domestic” plant or tree.

Beauty is a very subjective thing, of course. We used to have an apple tree in the backyard that I absolutely adored. Every spring, it would bloom with these huge clusters of single pink flowers that filled the yard with a divine scent – especially at night. It provided shade and privacy for the yard, and the apples it produced were small and tart and perfect for just eating or making all sorts of fun treats with. I found great joy in just watching the flowers in spring, picking the apples in the fall, and having shade from the hot afternoon sun.

My husband, on the other hand, hated that tree. The sprawling branches that I found intriguing and interesting just got in his way while he was trying to mow, the fallen apples made a mess all over the lawn and attracted yellow jackets, and the leaves were just one more thing that had to be cleaned up in the fall (along with any leftover apples).

Needless to say, the tree needed to be trimmed, and when we decided to replace the back fence it was growing by, hubby happily said the tree had to go. They could have worked around it, I think, but I knew hubby would never be happy with that tree in the yard, so I agreed to let it go.

Yes, I miss it. One day hopefully our maple trees will be as tall and provide their own kind of beauty to the back yard (without annoying the hubby). Will we put effort into supporting them with water and nutrients and pruning? Absolutely. But they’re tough, and I’m fairly certain that without any interference from us, they’d still leaf out and be beautiful every summer. It’s just the destiny of a tree. Or a rose bush, as it were.

In other, completely different news, I’m on the hunt for new dog food again. For the second time, a favorite dog food brand made in Canada has set up a plant somewhere in the southern US, and I hate to say this, but even though the ingredients list doesn’t change, the quality of the food goes way, way down when that happens. Murphy and Mica are both having problems with the food they’ve been on for several years now, so it’s time to find new foods for them both.

This sounds like it should be an easy task, but my dogs are never *that* easy. Murphy needs fish, and lots of it for the anti-inflammatory properties of the omega-3 oils. Too little omega-3’s, and he’s gimping around like he’s 80yrs old, due to the self-inflicted damage and resulting arthritis on his right front foreleg. Good omega-3’s, and he’s hopping around like a puppy. Magic.

Yes, we can supplement, but it’s a tough balance without a predominantly fish-based food to start with (too much fat alone is just as bad as not enough). There are few foods out there based solely on fish, and none raw that I could tell, so we’re going to try a dehydrated human-grade food instead. Hopefully that will work, otherwise it’ll be back to reading a million dog food labels again. Oh goodie! Said no one ever.

I’m going to try a dehydrated food for Mica too, though he’s hard to find food for too, because he’s allergic to pretty much any grain and…yes, he’s allergic to fish, too. Trying to find a kibble without added fish oil is next to impossible. The food he’s on right now used to be fish-free, but they added herring oil awhile back. He can tolerate it, but it’s pretty obviously not optimal for him. He’s an odd dog in that he doesn’t do well with raw feeding either (tried that back when I was making Lucy’s food from scratch), so raw is out too. I’ve considered cooking for him, but it’s a big time commitment (which is why I stopped making raw food…though I regret that, which is another story for another time).

I have to order the fish-based food in specially…our local pet shop carries The Honest Kitchen dehydrated line, but not that particular food. She’ll order it if I ask her too, but I want to have Murphy try it first, to make sure he’ll do okay with it. I got a box of a limited beef-based/grain free version for Mica to try, and gave some to both dogs last night with no ill effects, so I’m optimistic, but you just never know.

It’s expensive, but health always is, it seems. I haven’t always been able to afford specialized diets, and I did the best I could (especially with Lucy’s very specialized needs). That’s all any of us can really do. But I do feel like I need to make the best choice I can at the time, which generally involves a lot of label-reading and googling and gnashing of teeth until I find something that “might” work. And then there’s testing, and trying again, and maybe trying something different….

Crazy process, that, but if I’m patient *and* put in a lot of effort, I should be rewarded with beautiful dogs in good health for however many years they have left (too few, at this point).

Except they’re already beautiful, without any effort *or* patience on my part. Which is exactly as it should be.

What kind of beauty have you noticed recently? Did you put any effort into it, or was it just…there?

Silk & Snail Mucus

“Oh man,” I can hear you thinking as you read that title. “She’s really gone off the deep end now…”

And you would be right, but that’s not what we’re discussing today. Although I have to admit, I nearly didn’t use this title on this post, because as soon as I typed it, I thought, “That would actually make a great book title…” I still might use it, actually. The deep end, indeed. Join me?

ANYways…

I was recently reading Jezebel (yeah, I know – judge all you want), and one of the regular features is a beauty box run-down. You know, those monthly delivery boxes that are all the rage these days? I have been getting a tea box that has just now been discontinued (sad, but I was having trouble making it through that much tea in a month – I’m seriously backlogged and I drink a *lot* of tea), and I still get a monthly yarn box from my favorite eco-friendly online fiber shop, Darn Good Yarn. Their claim to fame is recycled silk yarn…the factory remnants from making silk saris in India, and they also sell said saris as well as oddball yarns made from things like banana fiber (which is seriously soft and silky, let me tell you).

I’ll be honest, the yarn isn’t the easiest to work with, but it’s funky and fun and I love it. And I love getting that monthly “surprise” of sensory deliciousness too. For a not-so-touchy-feely-person, I cannot resist the feel of silky or fuzzy fiber across my fingers. Mmm, mmm, good.

I used to have a couple of real silk shirts (short-sleeved button-downs). I loved, loved, *loved* the feel and drape of them. Sadly, I am really not good at caring for things that require hand-washing…

In any case, back to Jezebel and the Beauty Boxes (sounds like a somewhat risque band, eh?). In this particular round-up, one of the things our intrepid blog reporter was most excited about was…snail mucus.

Apparently, it’s a “thing” over in Korea to collect the slime trail from snails (the snails are supposedly not harmed), and use it to make concoctions that are supposed to heal small wounds and blemishes faster – like pimples. According to said reporter and several people in the comments, this actually works. Who knew?

What I want to know (really!) is…who was it who thought it would be a good idea to put snail slime on your skin? On purpose, I mean. Did someone study the chemical composition of snail slime and think, “hey, this would work great for getting rid of pimples!” Or was someone just laying out in the garden (do they have gardens you can lay in in Korea?) when a snail crawled across their face and instead of jumping up and flinging the snail off and getting all grossed out (you know, like a normal person probably would – ohm…), they just stayed still and let the slime sink in, and then later realized, “OMG! My skin looks great! It must have been that snail that crawled across my face! I should tell everyone!”

Or was it one of those bets in a bar one night – you know, one of those “hold my Redd’s and watch this” sort of things (do they have Redd’s Apple Ale in Korea? Or hard apple cider? Things that make you go hmm…)?

“Bet you wouldn’t let this snail crawl across your face!”
“You’re on – gimme that!”
“Hey, your skin looks great! We should market this! Think if we eat the snail, it’ll cure tomorrow’s hangover, too?”
“I don’t know…any French people here we could ask?”

I’m gonna get crap for that one, aren’t I? Yes, Americans eat escargot too, but the word itself is French, so…

Yes, I know. Google could probably hook me up with the right answer on how snail-slime-as-beauty-treatment was discovered in a matter of milliseconds, but sometimes it’s still fun to ponder and pretend that we don’t have all the knowledge we could possibly ever want (and plenty we really don’t) at our fingertips. Don’t you think?

No, I’m not planning on trying snail mucus for my complexion (or anything else) anytime soon. And I’m not having escargot for dinner either – I have a pork roast in the crockpot, thanks. But I may sign up for one of those beauty boxes. Ironically, the one that appealed most to me was one mentioned in the comments – Goodebox. Because…goodies. In a box. What could go wrong?

Aside from snail mucus, I mean…


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On Beautiful Things

I took some pictures late last week to illustrate today’s post, and then decided at the last minute (12:12am, to be exact), not to use them. The fact is, beauty really is in the eye of the beholder, and the things I think are beautiful, you may or may not, and if you do, it may well be for an entirely different reason than mine.

I started thinking about things I consider “beautiful” and why when I was admiring some pottery at our local renaissance fair a week ago or so. I was thinking about how the different artist’s work affected me differently, and some “spoke” to me more or less than others. I have some theories that still need to percolate before I try to express them, but the overreaching truth is, it matters who handles the clay. And that’s not to say any of it is better or worse than any other piece, but merely to say that what makes a piece of pottery beautiful to me personally is more than anything I could actually describe satisfactorily.

I have been trying for days to put words to what called me to the tiny little brown pot/vase that now sits on my desk at work. I could tell you that it’s the lines of the piece, the gentle curve that leads gracefully up to a longish neck, or the glaze that somehow came out in the subtlest of pinstripes that give the piece dimension and movement. I could even tell you it’s the imperfections, the little mistakes that maybe happened during firing or when something was jarred in transit and marred the glaze.

The fact is though, it’s all and none of those things all at once that I find attractive about that tiny little pot. There is a quality about it that maybe wouldn’t draw the attention of anyone else, but every time I look at it, it’s almost mesmerizing to me. Does it have that effect on other people? Probably. But certainly not all.

This past Saturday, my mom and I were perusing the local Strawberry Festival vendors, and there was an older lady there selling her tole painting pieces. Most of it was stuff that…looked to me like most other chairs and tables and platters and such, but then on our second pass through, I saw a wooden box that for whatever reason, I found incredibly, undeniably attractive. There’s really nothing special about the pattern or painting, but I find it soothing and restful to look at, and it puts me in a calm, relaxed state of mind just to see it. I bought it, of course, and my mom brought up the fact that sometimes, we just have to surround ourselves with things we find beautiful, even if we have no other practical use for them (like my tiny pot – I’ll use the wooden box for stamps).

I don’t really have a point to all this, but it did make me think about what we perceive as “beautiful” or “attractive” vs what other people see. The filters we all bring to the table with us are so incredibly complex that it’s amazing any of us ever agree on anything as far as beautiful and/or attractive.

In any case, I’ll be writing a book this fall where beauty and what it is is the central theme, and I can’t help but wonder whether my character and I will agree on what is beautiful and what is…not. It should be a very interesting and intense journey we take together…


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