King Fire - Stumpy Meadows

Wildfires all over the region have cast a dark smokescreen over what seemed to be endlessly blue skies. Now there's smoke everywhere. You can look the sun straight in the eye through it without squinting or blinking. It's just an ominous circle of orange-red.

The mountains to the north are invisible, one can't see anymore than just a few buildings away - not unlike a heavily foggy San Francisco-esque day. Except that now there is also a multitude of sensations added to the experience: yesterday as I drove back to the city after spending the day at Golden Ears provincial park, the smell of burning rainforest welcomed my nostrils like sacrificial incense of the most eerily delicious scent. The kind of joss-sticks that only God should be allowed to be lighting afire: entire old-growth Douglas fir and red cedar, burnt in their entirety, from the fragrantly sweet needles to the moss-covered twigs, branches, bark, heartwoods and all the way to the roots. 

My eyes welled up with tears whenever I rolled down the window or stepped out again to realize this is not a bad dream. The mountain forests are burning. In some of my absolute favourite places here too, places I dreamed I would call home someday: Sechelt, Pemberton... By the time the ominous red sun has completely set, the smoke was so thick that my eyes were stung by this communal campfire of massive proportion. We were all walking the streets looking confused, unsettled, worried. Non of the cheery mood that accompanies intentional burning of cedar logs, and no marshmallows were roasted and no potatoes recovered from the embers and they were. Embarrassingly, I also have to admit I enjoyed that smell... If you want to get an idea of what that is like - dip scent strips in the following oils: red cedar, fir absolute and cade or birch tar.

The purpose of this post is not to whine about the smoke in the city (whose inhabitants like to complain about anything that slightly inconveniences us as far as weather goes). I know it is far worse than here where the fires are ablaze right now, and for days remain "contained at zero percent".  There simply have to be more measures to be taken seriously to both prevent and combat fires at such humongous scale. And I would be the first one to go up to those mountains and re-plant them with new forests. 

I know how terrible it is, because my home village is amidst wild bush, and that gets easily set on fire - either by human error, carelessness or simple nasty intentions. There is an illegal pile of garbage to the east of the village, and as much as a glass that catches the sunlight or an idiot trowing a cigarette butt from a passing car on a day where the wind from the East is blowing - can start a bush fire, if not burn down entire houses to the ground. Which it did, back in June 1988.  Five homes were lost, and it took a huge toll on these families and the entire community to rebuild it. Seeing old trees we used to play under disappear forever, and the fire line stop only 2m away from my family's home was a tough sight to digest and we too many years to process it and heal. Only now, 27 years later, some of the carob and oak trees begin to look sorta similar to their former ancestors that graced the hills behind us, and the thorny bush populations is beginning to tone down a bit... We continually re-plant the hills  and wild areas in the village with more local wild trees, to help bring it back to what it used to be - or maybe even better. But that taste in my mouth of burnt bush dampened by water is one I would never forget. Nor will I forget the same heavy odour soaked into every nook and cranny in our home, every garment smelling like it for weeks on end, and the scorched hills and meadows a charcoal-black for years and years to come until, finally, new perennial vegetation revived. 

I woke up this morning and the ancient-forest incense smell disappeared, and was replaced by the scent of fires that have had water poured all over them. I hope this means a good sign that the fire fighters are beginning to contain them and that this disaster will come to and end soon. But we can't be too optimistic: 
The extreme drought conditions, unusual for our rainforest province, have reached a worrisome levels. There hasn't been a proper rain (typically we get at least one good dose of rain a week, even in the hottest months).  And now the worst predictions have been confirmed. There have been over 800 fires in British Columbia this year. So I ask you all to pray for rain to return to our rainforest, and for those of you who live here - please, oh please be more frugal with your water use! We can handle dry lawns and shorter showers; but this planet can't afford to lose its largest temperate forest, with one of the most diverse and productive biomass

Splitting of the Sea

Today is the 7th day of Passover, which commemorates the Splitting of the Sea. The Red Sea, that is. A sea that has probably already lost so much of its wildlife thanks to human greed (too much fishing, too much boat traffic, too much garbage in the oceans, and too many tourists stepping on the coral reefs and taking souvenirs that don't belong to them). 
This is supposed to be a happy day; but instead, I've gotten the news about the oil tanker spill in English Bay.

There is no way to sugar-coat it. There is no silver lining. My heart goes to all the seals (whom I consider my swimming buddies), the whales, the fish, cormorants, seagulls, geese, mallards and other migrating marine birds; the starfish, jellyfish, crabs, seaweed, muscles and even the scratchy barnacles. 

Not to mention - I feel more than a little sorry for myself for needing to abstain from outdoors swimming this summer just because we have an irresponsible government that cares more about money and sucking up to the rich rather than truly investing in sustainable and harmless energy resources (which Canada is blessed with an abundance of).
This post is not intended to make you feel sad, but to make you so angry that me and my fellow Canadians will take to the streets and protest, send Harper and the other criminals in his government massive numbers of emails and letters; and do everything in our power to change the leadership of this country to one that cares about the future of the land, sea, air, wildlife and wellbeing of its citizens. 

"1) The federal government took more than 12 hours to notify the city of Vancouver about the spill. 
2) A special pollution response boat formerly stationed at the now closed Kitsilano Coast Guard base is sitting empty with no crew at Sea Island base in Richmond. It is designed to deal with this type of spill and could have been at the site in 6 minutes had they not closed the station last year.
3) They have recovered close to one tonne of oil, which is likely less than 10% of the total spill.
4) In the best of circumstances, a successful clean up recovers 10-15% of the oil. So, when the government talks about "world class oil spill response" that's what they're aiming for.
5) Bunker fuel is a viscous liquid that is considered toxic and both an acute and chronic health hazard.
6) Bunker fuel is similar in nature to diluted bitumen, which would be transported by the proposed Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline and into more than 400 oil super tankers a year through English Bay.
(quote from Jodi Stark)"

Sorry, this is not related to perfume. Oh, I wish I was able to sell a lot more of my products to have the buying power to save the seas and oceans and keep our blue planet's water clean...  

Update on Sunday, April 12th: It's "only" 2.7 tonne of toxic fuel. And there is now only 6 litres that are not recovered. But nevertheless, very discouraging to see the inefficiency of response and lack of coordination from the authorities. Not to mention - without the forced closure of Kitsilano Coast Guard Station (by the Federal Government, lead by Steven Harper) - this could have been avoided if not dealt with much quicker (AKA within 6 minutes rather than 6 hours!). 

Clean Laundry Scent

Never forget You by Cereal-Killer 72
Never forget You, a photo by Cereal-Killer 72 on Flickr.
These days, I'm working on scent project that are different than perfume. Namely, the clean laundry scent. The scent of clean laundry should be crisp, and symbolize renewal. Yet there are so few green options out there. The scent I've created is versatile and can be used both in the laundry cycle (if like me, you are using an unscented, eco-friendly laundry soap); as well as scent reusable dryer sheets or felted wool ball that is used for the same purpose - reducing static, and freshly scenting your clothes and linens.

Lavender comes from the Latin word "Lavare", to wash, and has affirmed its association with linens and cleanliness. However, there is nothing original or particularly interesting about it, not to mention it is very fleeting. Therefore, I've combined lavender with other essences that will make the laundry smell fresh yet soft and comforting.
The scent will become available in April 2014, that you too can enjoy a green, clean and fragrant spring!

Clean Laundry, For Real

clean laundry by Belouni1012
clean laundry, a photo by Belouni1012 on Flickr.
Modern laundry scent engineering is quite sophisticated. Scent that is designed for laundry has to not only smell enticing from the bottle (most consumers make their choice of laundry detergents based on the scent, right in the household products isle); but also withstand the laundry cycle. This is possible thanks to micro-capsule technology, which means the scent is entrapped in microscopic capsules that will only release close to when the laundry cycle is complete, or - more sneakily, after the laundry is done (so that the scent keeps getting released long after the washing process is complete).

But is this laundry truly clean? I think not. While this still does remove the dirt and grime, it replaces them with chemicals that are likely just as harmful as the bacteria and mold that your washing machine has worked so hard to clean.

Another unfriendly component of many laundry scents, is polycyclic musks, which have replaced nitro musks and are used in nearly all scents in the mainstream fine fragrance world, as well as in functional fragrances. Not only do these musk retain their scent for long after the washing is done; they also never break down in the environment, creating sediments in our water sources. They accumulate in the bodies of many organisms, including human beings, creating hormonal disruptions, as well as reduce the body's ability to protect itself against toxic chemicals. Musk molecules are so persistent and have become such an inescapable pollutant that they have been found in nursing mothers' milk and in infants. While nitro musks' carcinogenic and health hazards have been long recognized and lead to them being banned, polycyclic musks effects are still largely unknown, and we only now begin to find out how they affect our health as well as the environment's.

Do we really want to wait and find out the hard way? I for one have stopped using synthetically scented body products and functional products. The laundry dryer sheets were the first to go. As well as scented laundry detergent. My laundry smells fantastic, simply by washing and drying it. And when I want to get rid of some greasy, moldy and other foul smells (usually accumulating in my kitchen towels), I add essential oils with solvent properties (such as coniferous and citrus oils) that and those that fight bacteria and fungi (i.e.: tea tree and eucalyptus). If you live in a rainy place like mine, where laundry never dries up on a clothes line, adding a few drops of essential oil such as lavender on a wool felt ball or a cloth and adding it to the dryer cycle will add a fresh and environmentally friendly scent to the laundry if you so desire. And of course you can add a true lavender scented linen spray if you iron your clothes. Your laundry can smell good without risking your health and ruining the environment on the way!

Chemerical: Redefining Clean For A New Generation

The documentary film Chemerical premiered tonight in Vancouver, as part of the Projecting Change Film Festival. The film documents how a family is trying to detox their home from chemical in all cleaning and body care products, which is no small feat!

You can watch the trailer for Chemerical here.

For celebrating the premiere of Chemerical in the film's after-party, Ayala Moriel Parfums also donated a soywax candle of ArbitRary, a mini of Rainforest and a Bois d'Hiver tealight candle.
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