Saturday, December 26, 2009

12 Days of Christmas

12 Days of Christmas...the winner of the First Day of Christmas Gift was Nancy Caltagirone - who will be receiving a Week of Bliss. Tune in tomorrow to see the 2nd day winner.

Monday, December 21, 2009

"Soldiers Stories"

Tonight I received a PDF file from my friend Sylla at the United Aromatherapy Effort.

It was scans of thank you notes... hand written on legal pads... thanking us for the products we sent to our "soldier on the ground"... well, they weren't thanking us... they were thanking the UAE. But they named and wrote of using our products...and the gratitude these young (and some not so young) troops expressed has me in tears.

Blogger won't let me import a PDF file. I could save them as text files and post them here (and I might)... but the original PDF file may be viewed on our website at: Please go read their thanks for some simple basic aromatherapy products. And consider donating to the UAE to support their work.

You will need a copy of the Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader to view the file. You probably already have it on your computer. If not, you may download it here.

Well, because they are all hand written, the file refused to save as text. (The computer can't read their writing ;)

Will we be sending more? Of course we will!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Healing - on so many levels

The healing power of these oils always leaves me in awe.

Sometimes we receive an email that just brings tears to my eyes. Many of you know the story behind our Magdalene's Anoint.

This afternoon I received the email below from a first time client who ordered a week or so ago. Among the items were a bottle of Madalene's Anoint, and a package of sample vials.. Today she wrote the following:


You see, I have this difficult sister and every time I hear from her I
tend to get lost in circular thinking for a few days. I just cannot
stop thinking about this woman. I have these ridiculous conversations
with her in my head, where I really make my point, all the while
knowing that she will never see the point. It's torture.

I heard from her the other night. So I thought I'd put your
Magdalene's Anoint to the test. I put some in one of my little
containers and just sat it by me as I went about my business. Every
time the scent would waft over to me, I would pick it up and take a
bigger whiff. I found it impossible to think about her at all. The
next day she was gone, I didn't waste any thoughts on her.

I've been trying to master this problem for years,
Thank you,

my response?

Arriba...thank you so much for writing...

I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes....

see... I am ohsofamiliar with letting people live in my head, rent free... and I do know the conversations...and then she'll say, and I'll have to...and and and... the dialogue and the drama, and the CHAOS.

the interesting thing is... Magdalene's anoint is about SELF forgiveness, as well as forgiveness of others... more, I think, about forgiving us... letting ourselves heal...

Thank you..

What is interesting is the fact that the Magdalene anointing oil is far and away the *weakest* of our blended oils... (because it originated as a Hospice blend... before we redesigned it)... and so aromatically, because it IS so diluted, it's very mild..almost below the conscious level of perception... but the energetics of it... ah... now that is another story...

NOW... this is the question that gets difficult... it is SO important that we share experiences like this... Because *I* can say all day long that it is capable of aiding in some powerful spiritual healing... but that's ME, and folks just think it's sales hype or whatever...

I would love to be able to share your experience... perhaps in our Nature's Gift blog or ??? with your permission. I suspect you'd not want your name used ;)...

again, thank you for writing... you letter has been a true bright spot in a cold wet NASTY day ;)

and...she said yes. So here it is. I *know* the oils have an important role to play in our journeys of spiritual healing. But having this sort of feedback is.... a reminder of why we are here!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Care Packages

Some of you may remember that a month or more the United Aromatherapy Effort sent out a request for aromatherapy supplies to support troops in Afghanistan. As usual, Nature's Gift responded immediately. After seeing the conditions to be addressed, and the requests, we sent a huge box filled with our SineEase inhalers, and bottles of FreshAire and GermBeater room sprays. Last week Sylla received a thank you note that seemed to refer directly to the products we had donated... here it is:

Here is his email (with permission and name removed of course!)-just so you
all know we are serving ALL troops, not just our own from USA; Jim (The "Soldier on the Ground" who distributes the goodies) has access to NATO troops from over 50 countries besides ours.....and he is quite enjoying strolling his supplies through undiscovered parts of CampPhoenix and handing out stuff, meeting lots of soldiers he wouldn't have
met. (and this means that even if you don't live in the USA know we are
taking care of your troops too).

""Dear ladies,

By way of introduction, my name is Major *************, and I am currently
serving in support of the International Security Assistance Force in
Afghanistan with Jim. I was taken aback by your organisation's generosity
and consideration with the care package of aromatherapy goods that you have
sent to the forces.

Your aromatherapy items were received in the most positive manner here. As
you can imagine we live in quite confined living quarters with limited to no
ventilation. Now I have the pleasure of walking into my sleeping space with
a scent I feel more relaxed in and I am certainly no longer confronted with
the musty smell of Afghanistan.

I have made use of the scented air spray and germ spray consistently in my
room to rid it of bad odors and to clean my living area to remain germ free
and healthy. Along with being more relaxed the scents also generally remind
me of the normalcy of home. With the flu season now upon us I am aware that
your products have also brought some relief to my mates affected with sinus

Jim has done a great job explaining to people about our organisation and
distributing the items in the care pack.

Just so you are aware of who your care packages are reaching, I am actually
an Australian from Darwin in the Northern Territory. I understand that you
have visited Australia Sylla, and I can only hope that you were treated with
the same friendliness that your countrymen have treated me both here and
from people like yourselves back in the States.

With my thanks, yours sincerely



Australian Cavalry

(I was so excited to see a copy of that email, that I just had to share it. And if you are the parent or loved one of someone serving ... this is a suggestion for adding to the care packages I am sure you are sending.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Which Essential Oil Are You Most Thankful For?

By Christi
With all of the recent Facebook posts from friends sharing what they are grateful for; it started me thinking about which essential oils I am particularly thankful for in my life. Of course, I love aromatherapy & most all essential oils, but the one I truly could not live without is Patchouli. It is a staple I’ve worn every day for around 20 years. I never tire of it & find it centers & grounds me in a way that without it, I somehow feel incomplete or not quite put together!

A close second is Sandalwood, although I’ve had to learn to ration it, due to its “precious oil” status. Most recently, the Pinion Pine Essential Oil which Marge shared from her trip to the SouthWest, made a huge impression on me & I believe it is an oil I could live with for the rest of my life.

There is something magical about finding an oil that truly resonates with your spirit & essence. Robbi Zeck captures this general idea in her book, “The Blossoming Heart.” Which oil or oils resonate most with you?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Mouse in the House Update

by Christi

Some eight days & twelve eliminated mice later, I finally had a quiet night in my house last night. Of course I live in an old house on the National Historic Register, built in 1918, in one of the only communities of “kit” houses in the South, so it is a challenge to find & fill every little “nook & cranny” that a mouse might be able to use for entry. (Supposedly they can squeeze through an opening the size of a dime.) I also found their entry points UNDER the house with the help of a neighbor & have sealed those off, as well.

Now, the good news regarding the use of Peppermint Essential Oil…I put it on cotton balls & placed them throughout my kitchen cabinets when I initially encountered the problem (day one) & I am pleased to report that no mice got into my cabinets or around my pantry food stored there. Yes, my granola bars had a slight “pepperminty” taste yesterday, but it was well worth it. I know the mice were in my kitchen because one of their entry points I sealed was behind my refrigerator. I found droppings in other areas (yuck, lots of cleaning done!) but NONE in my cabinets, no chewing there, nothing. Although my cabinets close quite tightly, I know mice can find a way to squeeze in just about anywhere, so what a relief!

I used our Peppermint Midwest USA essential oil for the job, although I prefer our English Organic Peppermint for headaches & other purposes. You might note that I’ve read it is best to avoid using the oil around the traps because they might “hide” from traps & go into other areas. So don’t use the Peppermint around traps or areas where you suspect they are frequenting until you get the problem under control. Because I had no evidence of mice in my cabinets, I went ahead & used the Peppermint as a preventive measure, to kind of “stave-off,” the little critters from my all important food supply! You do need to refresh the cotton balls every 2 or 3 weeks. I believe I will use them throughout the cold winter months. If you really dislike Peppermint, you might try Spearmint Essential Oil. It also reportedly can help.

After my experiment, I can conclude it is true what you hear about Peppermint Essential Oil & mice…I don’t think they like it!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Synthetic scents and marketing

I'm remembering a small town in Colorado during our recent trip west. One of the things we did upon occasion was drop in on businesses that just seemed interesting. Sometimes left samples, sometimes a 'finished product', sometimes an autographed copy of my book. "Marketing visits"

There was a charming little shop on a charming little Main Street. The signs out front advertised "Handmade Soaps and Toiletries." Oh, wow. Of course we had to visit!

Walked into a delightful shop. Packaging was attractive, nice range of products. The bell on the door rang as I opened it, and the resident soapmaker, complete with long apron and elbow length gloves came out from the back.

Unfortunately, I was headed for the door as she arrived. Not sure what fragrances she was using in her products, but I could feel an asthma attack coming on. My throat and chest were closing up, going into a spasm, and I knew if I didn't get out of there we would be headed to the ER.

I apologized to her, said that I couldn't BREATHE in there. She nodded understandingly. I forget her comment; but it was clear that I was not the first person to react that way to her shop. She was familiar with the reaction.

That struck me as so sad. Now, I have topical reactions to many of our Essential Oils...I've managed to develop Multiple chemical Sensitivity because of unwise use of undiluted oils decades ago. But I never have respiratory problems from exposure to pure, natural aromatics. (One possible exception...there is a "Bishop" in Greenland who insists on mailing us incense that he makes. We no longer allow his "gifts" in the building!)
But that only makes me question his ingredients.

This woman is devoting her life to creating her products. Her shop is charming, her products visually appealing. How much better they would be if she used pure essential oils to fragrance them? I know had I been able to stay, visit, and talk soapmaking I would have been a customer.

At the recent AIA convention, Debbie Freund gave a wonderful moving presentation on Olfaction. One of the points she made was how the toxins in our environment affect our blood chemistry, and she referenced the rising tide of diseases that, evidence shows, may be tied to the overload of synthetic scents that surround us. Our bodies are made to co-exist with natural aromas, not with synthetics. I remember that presentation while remembering the charming little shop I couldn't visit.

Monday, October 26, 2009

There's A Mouse in the House

By Christi

Well, the wettest October on record in Middle Tennessee is resulting in furry critters aka field mice trying to take shelter indoors. For the first time in the 11 years since I bought my house, I have mice. I learned at Dollar General in my neighborhood that eradication products for mice are flying off the shelves due to the problem. I bought several types of traps, including the new "humane" type where you place food inside, set it up, the mouse walks in, & click, it snaps shut. You then take the mouse at least one mile away & free it. Oddly enough, I've caught two mice so far, & both with the humane trap containing some dry cat food. The others have eluded me & none have gone for the harsher traps (smart mice?) even though they contain peanut butter.

I decided this would be a good time to test the Peppermint Essential Oil theory in my house. For years there have been reports that mice HATE Peppermint Essential Oil. The method most recommended is putting the oil on cotton balls & placing them around the known places of entry. (or where you have seen mice droppings) Of course, you need to be mindful of household pets when placing the cotton balls. I also filled an atomizer with water, Peppermint, & a small amount of alcohol, & sprayed around doors, windows, etc. Will be interesting to see if Peppermint is a deterrent, once I get rid of all the mice that are currently scurrying around.

Any natural advice for getting rid of mice other than what I've mentioned?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

AIA Conference Review

Friday, close to midnight we arrived at the hotel in Crystal Lake to enjoy the second half of the Alliance of International Aromatherapists 2009 conference.

You can see the list of speakers and presentations at the link above. I was a bit nervous about attending - I am probably their newest member, and the membership is mostly composed of true professionals in this field I love. Teachers, health care professionals, researchers. (What am I doing here?) I'm here to learn, of course, and perhaps introduce Nature's Gift to some new friends.

Laraine Kyle greeted us in the lobby, bless her heart. Helped get our luggage up to the room, and visited and played scratch and sniff with some new oils for awhile. Then off to bed. (After 10 hours in the car on a rainy night, we were exhausted.)

Saturday started with a big hug from Jim Llewellyn of Aroma-Tours. It's been over a decade since we met in Seattle, and it was good to see him and Robbi again.The day's presentations started with a stirring talk by Robbi Zeck, author of The Blossoming Heart. "Passion and Purpose-Live a Visionary Life"... What remains in my mind is her acronym for "Passion"... Pass *I* On. She shared a collection of tools to help us live an authentic, passionate life... to live our passion. It was an empowering speech.

After Robbi, Laraine Kyle, of the Institute of Integrative Aromatherapy shared her success in using the oils in an inpatient psychiatric setting. Laraine established an ongoing program that allowed the most ill and chronic patients to participate in some aromatic self caring activities. One comment in her report leaped out at me: "It was gratifying to witness the ability of severely depressed and overtly psychotic patients to be relieved of psychological distress, overcome inertia, and respond to the positive influence of essential oils." She described several methods of "aromatic intervention" that really made a difference in the comfort level, both physical and psychic, of the patient population.

After Laraine, Anita James from the UK shared her experiences using the oils in two classroom situations, one for an "Infants School" (ages 3 and 4) and a "Nursery School" (ages 5 to 7.) The children were allowed to select their favorite oils...a blend of which were used in a diffuser in the classroom (the favorites were Orange, Lemon, and Roman Chamomile.) "At risk" children were allowed to select their own oils to create their own "Happy Blend". When possible, parents were involved to carry the activities over to the home. Parents were often taught the benefits of a stable routine, a bedtime bath (perhaps with the chosen oils) or back rub, again with the use of the oils. The results were marvelous, hyperactivity calmed, improved focus, and a general improvement in many of the problems the children brought with them from home.

After the lunch break, Mindy Green shared resources for both the organization and individual aromatherapists. She strongly urged that we at the very least get on the mailing list for the American Herbal Products Association, since they have been dealing with government regulation for years. This talk was a direct lead in to a presentation by Ashish Talati on regulatory compliance, "What you can and can't say on your labels".

In total honesty, I found that presentation totally depressing. Our labels must say "for external use only, not for internal use" or something similar. If one is offering a herbal supplement, one may legally say "supports the respiratory system" for example. But if a product is not for internal use, it is obviously not a supplement, and one can't even hint that it might have an effect on health or wellbeing. A frustrating dilemma, being unable to state what we know is truth about aromatic products.

To end the afternoon, Farida Irani gave a presentation on the use of Ayurvedic Aromatherapy. In honesty, I had trouble wrapping my brain around what she was saying. (Reminds me of the first time I read Gabriel Mojay's "Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit"... the emphasis on Traditional Chinese Medicine concepts was a challenge.)

After that, a book signing that didn't happen, but I *did* get to spend some time visiting with Ann Harman, of MorningMyst Botanicals... Hydrosol producer par excellence! (Why she wasn't a presenter is a puzzlement to me!)

Then..the banquet..which we hadn't planned on attending, but are delighted we did. We got to watch, stand and applaud as friends were honored by the association. FUN!

More on the Sunday program later.

Overall impression...I came away from so many presentations just in awe of the differences that can be made in individual lives by appropriate uses of the powerful oils we all love! The members of the AIA are doing such important work!!!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Nature's Gift Sharing the Gift of Aromatherapy with U.S. Troops in Afghanistan

We’re partnering with the United Aromatherapy Effort (UAE) to provide aromatherapy care packages to U.S. Troops serving in Afghanistan. We recently shipped over 150 items for the cause, including: Sine Ease Inhalers, Fresh Aire Spray, & Germ Beater Spray, after receiving an urgent call for action from UAE’s Sylla Sheppard-Hanger. The packages are being distributed by soldiers at “Camp Phoenix,” near Kabul, among some of the 60,000 troops stationed in the region.

We were made aware of service members suffering from sinus problems, congestion, & other respiratory ailments due to the dusty terrain & immediately thought of offering free Sine Ease inhalers to help out. The Fresh Aire & Germ Beater Sprays are for freshening up the air in small tents & living quarters, as well as wiping down cabinets, counters, & other dirty areas. We were told the soldiers had grown very tired of industrial “pine” type cleaners & we know both Fresh Aire & Germ Beater smell delightful which will no doubt be a nice change. Plus both sprays contain antibacterial properties, & the Germ Beater includes oils with anti-viral & anti-fungal effects.

We’ve been involved with the UAE since 2001 (it was set up in response to 9/11), but Sylla recently expanded its mission to offer aromatherapy relief to active U.S. Military Service members serving in Afghanistan after learning about the need & in hopes of making the year-long tour of duty a little more tolerable. Our donation is just a small way we can serve our troops & boost morale, while letting them know we appreciate their continued efforts and sacrifice.

For more about UAE programs visit:

Saturday, October 10, 2009

It *works*, it really does!

Some of you know that I was spending last weekend (the first weekend in Oct.) on a women's retreat. The dear friend I was riding out with, and rooming with, had been ill the previous week. A horrible cough, a fever, all the normal "flu or virus" signs. I knew she had been ill the previous week; we had taken her a CoolMist diffuser, some FluFoil, and some cough syrup the previous weekend. But she had gone back to work, and was, as far as I knew, better.

Early Friday afternoon she picked us up (a third friend was riding with us.) "Did you bring the diffuser and FluFoil?" "Oh, no, I forgot it."
I grabbed my nebulizing diffuser and my bottle of FloFoil, tucked them in a box for safekeeping, and off we went. By Friday night my roommate was feverish again, flushed, coughing and generally feeling crummy. I diffused FluFoil all the time that we were in the room that weekend, and used our KleenHandz during the day while the other women at the retreat were using the provided hand sanitizer.
Now, those who know me know that I have a compromized immune system; if I am exposed to something, I'll catch it. And since I have COPD, "it" will normally turn into bronchial pneumonia before I even realize I'm sick.
Somehow I managed to avoid catching whatever viral ailment my friend has battled for almost three weeks. (She, by the way, had to take Monday and Tuesday off from work, but reported on Friday that she finally is better. Whatever it is had run its course.)
Now, I have an opinion on the wisdom of attending a weekend long event when you are sick with something apparently contagious. (Everyone at her office has been passing this illness around for weeks.) I also think that the combination of sleeping with FluFoil in the air, and using our KleenHandz during the day protected me from her mystery virus.

For whatever my experience is worth...

Monday, October 5, 2009

Diffusing Blue Tansy for Chronic & Seasonal Allergies

By Christi

Last week was allergen hell for me getting worse & worse by the end of the week & totally full blown misery. None of my normal over the counter remedies were making any difference & then I realized on Thursday that I had been out of Blue Tansy, which is a staple for me in staving off histamine reactions. Friday night I took home our office aromastone, along with a 5 ml bottle of Blue Tansy Essential Oil, & immediately set it in my bedroom. As it warmed, my entire upstairs filled with lovely Blue Tansy. Since I was feeling so badly, the dogs & I got into bed, & were asleep in no time! I took a few breaks from plugging it in throughout the weekend because diffusing Blue Tansy tends to make one nod off to sleep...but using it while sleeping made a huge difference. It took away wheezing & much discomfort within 36-48 hours. Today (Monday) I've taken NO medication & my chest & nose & throat & eyes all feel relatively normal & allergy free. I don't normally diffuse Blue Tansy, but use it in an inhaler or on a tissue. However, after my experience this weekend, I am truly amazed at how well it works in the aromastone diffused throughout my bedroom. Remember, when diffusing, it can be quite relaxing, so you might go easy on it if you are trying to study or get ready to go to work or anywhere you need to be alert. I am convinced it is more healing & gentle than any of the OTC medicines that were not really working plus making me feel crazy. Blue Tansy relaxes and calms. It is definitely worth a try if you suffer from chronic allergies or even seasonal ones. For more about Blue Tansy, see

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Kaposi's Sarcoma

We recently received some email that seemed too important to keep to ourselves. The essential oils seem to have helped with the lesions caused by Kaposi's Sarcoma!

Brian, from Oregon recently wrote:

> hello marge and thank you for all you do! i have enjoyed the oils
> and aerosols that i have ordered from you-they work! i wanted to
> ask you a question before i place my next order. i have been
> layering ravensara and Tamanu on old karposi's sarcoma lesions and they have been
> slowly going away. lately, after going off my antivirals (hiv)
> med's for a few months, i developed an additional 3 lesions on my
> leg. once i realized just what they were, they were gone after
> about a week using the oils-thank you! however, i am concerned that
> there may be lesions forming internally on organs (lungs, kidneys,
> roof of mouth, etc.) that i am not aware of. is it possible to use
> these oils internally by placing in capsules? i realize that you
> cannot give advise on what i should do, but if this were happening
> in your body, what would your course of action be?

First, Brian... THANK you for sharing your success with the lesions... that is
a use I have NOT heard of, and wouldn't have dared suggest. Could I have your permission to share your results in our newsletter, or blog, or somewhere? This is IMPORTANT news! (and Brian later wrote giving permission, of course, or you would not be reading this.)

second... no, I would NOT take them internally. Internal use of the oils puts your liver at risk for severe damage, and I don't think it would be worth it. I want to remind you that the MOST effective "internal" method with the EO's remains inhalation. Esp. for problems in the lungs, but they also pass both the /blood/brain barrier and are excreted thru the digestive system. This wouldn't work with the calophyllum, but with the eo's. I would use the ravensara by inhalation for possible internal lesions, and perhaps add an antifungal essential oil.. tea tree, or eucalyptus citriodora???
I am TRULY not qualified to consult on this and wouldn't dream of requesting payment...I am just delighted that you are having some success... Hope some of this is helpful!!! PLEASE keep me posted, and please allow me to share this publicly...others may learn from your experiences.

> after looking at my blood for the past 2 years through live blood
> microscopy, my healer and i have realized some startling patterns.
> it seems that the virus is enhanced by the presence of a
> pleomorphic fungus (this could be the one being sprayed through the
> federal "aerosols project"-chemtrails). in the last installment of
>, (the last week of august of this year), the good
> doctor described this fungus as having the ability to produce red
> blood cells, thus indicating that the fungus has been visiting bone
> marrow i guess. indeed, at my sickest a few months ago, my blood
> was a continuous matrix of this mutating fungus. i have had good
> luck with chlorine dioxide (MMS) in eliminating it, but this is
> difficult to take for long periods of time. are there oils or
> otherwise that is good at eliminating fungus? if this were
> happening in your body, what course of action would you take?

(It may not be clear from the 'order' of the correspondence, but if it were MY body, I would use the Ravensara (or Ravintsara!) by inhalation, and add some anti-fungal essential oils.)

There are times that we are strongly reminded that what we do, at Nature's Gift, can make wonderful differences in someone's quality of life, or well-being. This email exchange was one of those times, and I thank Brian for letting us share his experience.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Colorado Mystery - and Serendipity

Having accepted the fact that the mountaintops were closed to us, we headed south, toward the Great Sand Dunes national park. Along the way the road hugged the mountainside, and looked down at the Arkansas river, across it to the single line railroad track hugging the foot of another mountain. And we saw again a site that had puzzled us. Thousands of freight cars...parked and abandoned. This time we checked the length of the 'train'... 3.7 miles! Three and a half miles of abandoned freight cars. They appear to have been there for years. Why? A Colorado mystery!

On the way south, my new friend Laraine Kyle called. "Are you on 285?" "Heading that way." "Well, you might want to detour to Krestone; it's a lovely spiritual community you might enjoy seeing." Having no time pressure, we decided to. Then she called back. "I have a friend who does some artisan distilling, perhaps you'd like to meet with him?" And she was kind enough to place some phone calls and send some emails. (Mind you, we had cell phone service perhaps five minutes out of each hour...she caught us during the "active" times.) As we made the turn to Krestone, the cell rang again. "Marge, this is Peter May." And thus began an afternoon of sheer aromatic magic!

We were met by Frederick, Peter's associate. We discussed my quest for Pinon Pine Oil. Yes, indeed they distill it. No, they most definitely would not allow me to purchase any. But I could sample, the pinion, the ponderosa pine, the juniper wood that they distilled.

I have never encountered such reverence. both Frederick and Peter are volunteer fire fighters. Part of what they do involves clearing land, to form fire breaks, to protect the land. All the trees they distilled are sacrificed to save the land. They are not cut down or harvested to provide the oil, the oil is from trees that must be cut. Why would they not allow us to purchase and share their magical Pinon Oil? Because they use the oils they produce...and oils they purchase from others, to make set of amazingly powerful essences called "Stardrops"... blends for physical healing and chakra balancing, based on the essential oils, with the minerals from sea salt and specially charged water. Amazingly powerful essences.

A shot of my new friends outside their 85 gallon still.
We visited for the whole afternoon, sharing insights, experiences. They are just starting out in the business of marketing their products, and I got to share some of my experiences. I strongly advised them to attend, as vendors, the upcoming AIA conference in mi d October to share their essences. (And started rethinking my own decision not to attend!)
Several hours later we tore ourselves away, awed by the magic of this "chance encounter" and totally understanding why the northern mountains had been denied us. We were fated to be in Southern Colorado to meet these two amazing young men!

Monday, September 21, 2009

"Make God Laugh - tell Him your plans!"

Last night we left Boulder, headed to nearby Longmont, for a visit with a professional associate, to be followed by three days visiting Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. Trail Ridge, the Continental Divide, our opportunity to see all the native creatures we've missed so far...Elk, Mountain sheep and goats, lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

After a short drive, and a night spent in a hotel that, in my opinion, deserves -1 star, we awoke to find that 4 or so inches of snow had fallen in the Rockies, the entrance to Rocky Mountain park was closed, all the higher mountain roads were closed by snow, it was gray and rainy in Longmont, and our plans were...not going to materialize. I am NOT fated to see the beauty of the mountain tops this year.

But we had scheduled a visit with Cindy Jones, of Sagescript. I got to know Cindy through various Cosmetics Chemistry lists. She is,among other things, a microbiologist who tests products for contamination. If you make homemade creams, lotions, and other products which are subject to contamination, Cindy can test samples for you, and tell you if they are, at least, starting off "clean"... She can also do challenge testing to see if your preservative system is effective. (Yes, I know many of my friends make and sell "natural" toiletries products. I have received some...that grew green nasties in no time at all. In my professional opinion, proper preservation is a requirement for any toiletries product you are selling.)
Cindy has shared her knowledge generously, and has tested some hydrosols for us. To the best of my knowledge she had a lab somewhere, and we were going to go see it. So much for my assumptions!

The directions took us on what should have been a 15 minute drive. (It took 45 minutes because we went in the wrong direction on the wrong road for a LONG long's been that sort of day.) We finally arrived...tired and grouchy and disheartened... in a corner of heaven!
Cindy's warm welcome was the first glimpse of sunlight on this gloomy day. This is the view from the back porch of Cindy's rambling farm house. Don't know if you can see the snow blanketing the mountains. We visited, drank tea, ate her son's chocolate chip cookies, talked about our respective businesses, and the challenges of raising teenagers, then went outside to visit her garden. She apologized, because this is only their second summer in this house... but there are rows and clumps of organic herbs everywhere I looked.

Clumps of deep orange Calendula, for infusing and distilling:

A clump of feathery Russian Sage

and rows of thriving Lavender plants...for hydrosols, dream pillows, all the uses of dried lavender.

Onward to the converted barn that forms her workshop. Past bottles and jars of dried herbs, infusions, drying herbs, boxes of handmade soap...(WHY didn't I take pictures of the soap!!!)...she gifted us both with bars of Rosemary/Eucalyptus/Shea which my traveling companion has claimed as his own. ;)

Bottles of lotions and creams, tiny purse sized hydrosols... I had forgotten Cindy's "other business"... Colorado Aromatics. She gifted me with a small bottle of her Rose Hydrosol, distilled from aromatic roses in her garden. I wasn't able to sample the bottles of lotion, waiting for labeling and slated for the Farmer's Market...they were Lavender, and I'm sensitized to Lavender.

At the back of the workshop, the Lab where Cindy tests both her own products, and those of her clients.

I am reminded that, online, we sometimes see only one dimension of a person. That we miss the fullness...all the other dimensions.
When we were finally able to tear ourselves away I told Cindy that she had totally turned around what started out as just a dreadful day. In the car heading south, my traveling companion and I discussed the two visits...the two wonderful women who had welcomed us into their homes and their lives...and agreed that even tho the trip to the mountains was a total bust, the trip north was so very much worth it!
This evening we are back in Canon City. There is much to be said for a hotel with *five* hot tubs!... and trying to decide where to head tomorrow. The local weather forecasts snow as far as the Colorado/New Mexico border. (We had hoped against hope that this front would move off, and we could head back north...but the weather is against us.)
"Each day a new adventure"....

Sunday's Visit

On Sunday we headed north, to Boulder, to visit someone I've not seen for probably 10 years. Laraine Kyle, cofounder and coprincipal, (with Valerie Cooksley) of the Institute of Integrative Aromatherapy, an AT course for health care professionals.

Every time in the past that I've met Laraine, she has been a presenter at a conference that I've attended as a "listener" I have always been in awe of her, and hesitated to ask if we could get together while we were in CO. She is just so knowledgeable in our field, and so very very busy, that I felt like I'd be bothering her. I thought, perhaps, we could get together for a cup of coffee, or lunch somewhere.

Instead, she opened her home to us, and we had the loveliest visit! There is no one in my local area who does what we do, so I never have time to "talk shop" with anyone except via email. We sat and caught up with news about friends and events for hours.

We sat on her lovely patio and talked and drank iced herb tea (Peppermint and Hibiscus...yummm!), then went into her office and played 'scratch and sniff' with her collection of oils.

I got to browse through her course material, and was TREMENDOUSLY impressed with the scope of education offered. (In fact, I wanted to buy a copy of the course material...but she couldn't let me ;(

We talked about suppliers, and courses, and oils and healing. It was wonderful! And if the visit and the tea and fruit weren't enough - she cooked us supper!

I had talked about the Pinion Pines that I'd fallen in love with...and she shared some resin...and treated us to a proper Japanese Incense ceremony, which I'd read about, but never experienced.

I'm reminded once again how, with just a few exceptions who shall remain anonymous, this industry of ours is filled with open, giving, loving spirits.

A bit more about Laraine.... in addition to co-authoring and teaching the course mentioned above, she was one of the original founders of NAHA (the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy), one of the original authors of the Aromatherapy Registration Council standards and the earlier examinations; and one of the founders of the newer Alliance for International Aromatherapists, which latter association I have dragged my feet on joining... but finally did, Sunday evening. You can learn more about her, professionally, at her personal website. Nothing that I've read online, however, gives a sense of her humor, her humanity, and her warm and loving spirit.

We left Boulder Sunday evening feeling relaxed, rejuvenated and enthusiastically headed for Longmont and the Rockies, and a visit with a "friend I've not met yet."

More to come!

Train ride!

We spent a lazy weekend. On Saturday we were bound and determined to visit Royal Gorge...a thousand foot deep gorge in the mountains near Canon City, with the worlds highest suspension bridge...that people actually walk across. After our experience with Pike's Peak, neither one of us were up to walking across a 1000 foot high bridge, so we chose the easy way, a trainride through the bottom of the gorge. The old single line track parallels the Arkansas river...rafters and kyakers waved, and we waved back. The ride skirted wonderful vistas, this shot shows some "Miners Candle" - the upright plant - in the front. I'm told that the foliage is soft and 'furry'... natives and early settlers used it for baby diapers, toilet tissue, etc, and the tall spires were dipped in tallow or wax to light the way into the mines. Behind you see the ubiquitous Rabbit Brush, and, I think, a cottonwood tree.

YES, I'm glad we didn't try to cross that bridge!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

High Country Ramblings

30 years ago, my friend Michael lived in a small town called Buena Vista. He's talked about a magical place he called Buffalo Meadow for years, and promised to take me there some day. Friday, he did.

We set out down a road called "Four Mile" and turned on a dirt road, and another dirt road, and off onto a trail that made my little Blazer struggle. This high country space is located between the group of 14ers called "the Collegiates"...named for Ivy League colleges, and the 'back side' of Pikes Peak and its neighbors. Rolling hills, studded with boulders. The meadow is lowgrowing, golden and grey.
This is just some of what I saw:

The countryside is studded with rock formations that put The Garden of the Gods to shame.
The air is dry, and clear, and filled with the winey tang of Pinon Pine Resin. I wanted to bottle it, and am starting a quest for someone who distills this wonderful pine. I *need* this essential oil for my collection.The Pinons are lowgrowing, rounded, with short needles. Very different from the taller Scotch Pines that sometimes grow near them. Had I not wanted to capture the mountains in this picture below, and used the zoom, you could have seen more clearly the pinions, Scotch pine, and desert brush in this shot. But we needed the mountains.

What I thought was sagebrush, but later was told is "rabbitbrush" grows in clumps, adding varied shades of gold to the subtle coloring. The soft shades of this meadowland make the lush greenness of my Tennessee hills seem overblown and too ostentatious. This beauty is subtle, and patient.
An occasional cottonwood, near a streambed, shows its gnarled bark and delicate leaves.

If you follow the stream bed, if you are truly blessed, you may find a beaver's dam. We did, and sat on a rock in the sunlight for almost an hour, listening to the song of the water.
I have probably uploaded too many pictures (I shot over 120 that magical day) but I wanted to give you a feeling of the beauty and majesty and peace of that hidden sacred place. And if any of you know of a distiller who distills the needles or cones of the Pinon Pine, please put me in touch with him or her.

Pikes Peak or Bust

Thursday morning we set out for Pikes Peak. It had snowed the night before and we were told the last two or three miles were closed, but might be open by midday. First stop, though, was the famous Garden of the Gods. This is the view from the entrance, with snowcapped Pikes Peak centered in the background. The Garden of the Gods was awesome...nature has carved statues we could fit a cathedral in.

Sometimes we felt like we were standing on the edge of the world.
This one seems to be pointing the way! (and, yes, that's my intrepid traveling companion climbing the rocks.) Exiting the Garden, we headed up Pikes Peak. The first 16 miles were an easy drive, easier than Phantom Canyon. I was on the phone to T, and told her "this is a piece of cake!" We crossed over the Crystal Resevoir that feeds Colorado Springs. We stopped at the "shop" at the 16 mile post and found the road was open to the top. GREAT! (My mistake!... the next 2 1/2 miles held more terror than I have ever experienced.
Hairpin curves, 1 1/2 lane wide with two way traffic, visibility perhaps 15 feet. The scariest views didn't get taken because I was reassuring Michael that of course he could do this! Shots are thru the windshield because there is *no where* to pull over. We both felt that our lives were at risk. And all I could think was....we have to come back down! We crept upward at 5 miles an hour.
Finally, the summit. We were told on a clear day you can see for miles, and that location was the inspiration for the lyrics of "America The Beautiful." Our view of the summit? The sign says "You made it! The Summit" or words to that effect.

It was worth the terror...almost. We can say we did it; and they serve wonderful beef stew at the restaurant up top. And hot out of the fryer donuts. Thankfully, by the time we started down, the clouds had cleared. The downward road is steep, Low-low gear needed to prevent burning your brakes out. But breathtaking views.and friendly (but bored) wildlife looking for a handout.

We agreed we wouldn't have missed it, but once was enough! Our souvenirs? Two bumper stickers... mine reads "Got Oxygen" (because I needed some, and was grateful to the friends who urged us to pack some) and his "Real men don't need guardrails"

Next blog: the high country meadows.

Friday, September 18, 2009

On The Road Again

Sorry for the 'time lapse'... Some evenings I've not had internet access, and some evenings I've been too overwhelmed (and exhausted!) to type! Or look at photos. Anyway... after leaving Boonville we headed west on Highway 70, through the rest of Missouri (which I fell in love with) and Kansas. Which I'm afraid I didn't. Missouri was green and rich and lush. Fields of thriving soybeans and corn (Monsanto heaven?) while perhaps the season was over in Kansas. We were almost out of the state before I could find the "fields of amber grain" that I wanted to shoot, and, turned out, they were really fields of russet Milo... but at least they were growing. Perhaps all the others had been harvested? (My apologies to our friends in Kansas; I am sure parts of the state are beautiful, but not the parts we traveled.)
Eastern Colorado was almost indistinguisable from Kansas, until:

Yes...those dark clouds on the horizon are the Rockies. We drove south to Canon City, to visit my friend's family. The next day, headed for Colorado Springs and Pikes Peak, we chose a "scenic route" called Phantom Canon Road. Probably 50 miles as the bird flies, but a good three hours drive, punctuated, of course, by stops for "Photo Ops" and ohhhs and ahhhhs. Some of the photo ops:

Bright sunshine, windy steep roads (the car going up has the right of way, because there's mostly not room to pass.) And breathtaking views.

My camera doesn't show depth well, the stream was, perhaps, 1000 feet below us.What I loved most about this last shot was the tenacity... a tiny bloom growing from near solid rock. I had to salute its spirit.
My apologies for the lack of aromatics in this blog post... there will be some, in the future.