Beauty Everywhere

scoronado1August is such a weird month.  There’s that particular light (the first time I read Light in August August, sitting at Duff’s outdoor table in St Louis with the cicadas sawing their legs off and the trees!  A green so dense and heavy it seems to permeate the air around it). I find August light to be the sharpest light of the year, yet it has a warm roundness to it; the very fact that I can’t describe it makes it indescribably poignant.


who could hate this gorgeous parkway?

August is, oddly enough,  a great time to visit a garden.  There are people who would gasp! at that notion – roses are blown, Japanese Beetles are everywhere, grass is crunchy, the ‘green’ of the kitchen garden is all but gone….  But it’s my favorite time to visit.  You get to see the bones of a space, what held its own through the Summer, what didn’t work (sometimes spectacular disasters, like my furthermost vegetable bed in my kitchen garden.  That bed has given me splinters ever since I laid my garden out.  I’ve finally cried ‘uncle’ and am going to have El O build a raised bed.  A ton of dirt will be in the back of the pickup come Saturday – and I will be a fat, sweaty, happy mess, come Sunday)…but I digress.  I don’t want to talk about my garden – I want to talk about a wonderful garden I stumbled upon, via…good grief!  I don’t even know how I stumbled upon it!   But no matter – this garden belongs to Shawna Coronado, who writes a wonderful blog about gardening, living a green life and making a difference in your community and the world, one little bit at a time.  I have not been in the best frame of mind these past months and the urge to just go to bed and stay there has been strong, indeed.  I fight that urge, daily, and the thing that makes me feel most like I might actually win is when I force myself to do something different.  My ‘different’ for last week was to message Shawna on Facebook and see if I could visit her garden in Warrenville.  She said yes, so I hied on over there and……..this is So Damn Strange…so we’re making the Hellos and I tell her where I live now….y’all understand that Where I Live is in the middle of absolutely nowhere, right?  Not like ‘oh, I live in Morro Bay’ – a half million people live in MorroFreakin’BAY!  Wyoming IL is 1,400 people strong, surrounded on ALL FOUR SIDES by miles and miles of cornfields.  The chances of ANYBODY knowing where the hell this town is…..unlikely.  Yet Shawna knew PERSACKLY where it is….because her mother-in-law is from here.  SHUT UP!   Your mother in law is from….(not sort of near – but actually FROM) Wyoming IL, population 1,400 Christian souls???…  So once I picked up my jaw from the driveway, we went on a tour of her garden.    It’s a delight, full of texture and color and fun…and wouldn’t you know it?  Because she lives in the suburbs, she gets agita from the HOA and City all the blasted time.  Research has shown that the suburbs are actually less ‘green’ than urban areas – there are so many rules and restrictions and lawns RULE!  She planted the parkway at the back of her property with native plants to help pollination…and OMG! you’d have thought she punched a kitten in the face!  I remember this from living in the suburbs – there is much resistance to ripping up lawn and replacing it with beneficial plantings.  Shawna has prevailed (and is now something of a gardening celeb) and, perhaps, some of her neighbors will take a shovel from her shed and do the same.  I’m slowly but surely ripping out our lawn (El O was adamant that I not do it so I’m going slow…so far I’ve widened the borders 12inches each year….by next year I will have cut the front lawn by 40%!  shhhhh! ).  I really admire that she is walking her talk.  I won’t waste your time blatheratin’ about her life – you can read it on her blog.   But I am of the Posse, so I wanted to know how she felt about perfume in the garden  (it’s August – and the ragweed is high, so I’m faking the perfume thing.  In truth, I can’t smell anything other than oregano and habaneros right now)……..she is not a perfumista and her garden isn’t chockablock with fragrant flowers – but we talked about herbs and their gorgeous scents.  She crushed some chocolate mint – and suddenly I was surrounded by York Peppermint patties!  Yum!


And we looked at her back wall….and if I wasn’t already half in love with her, I was all-in when I came upon this:

I LOVE this!!!

I LOVE this!!!

Alas, we had to cut it short but I came away with a newfound respect for what one person with a vision (which started with her planting around her mailbox, btw –  nothing more than that!) can do!  It doesn’t have to take a lot of money (in her garden’s case, a good 80% of the structural/accessories are found/traded/repurposed) – and it doesn’t have to be done all at once – she’s been working on her garden for quite awhile, in bits and pieces.  And, of course, it doesn’t have to be a garden.   It doesn’t even need to be a ‘known passion’ – she liked to garden but I don’t think she ever envisioned how much of her life it would become.


So, verily I say unto you:  what, other than perfume, have you stumbled upon that has become a driving force in how you live your life?    Mine is homesteading – no one, least of all me, could’ve imagined me raising chickens!  Sometimes I feel like wearing my Loubs out to clean the coop!  Tell me your story and we’ll do a giveaway!!.  I’ll have Leg peck a random dot org and the winner will get a little bag of perfume fun.  It’s the least I can do for you guys putting up with my August garden ramblings!

Steve Tsotras August 27, 2013

Many years ago, my little brother came home one day with 4 goldfish he had one at fair. I have won plenty of fish in the same manner during my childhood, but I would always let my parents take over the task, only to see the fish flushed down the toilet within a week (luckily they were more apt at raising human beings). I figured that I'm old enough to do this myself, and I took charge. What began with a few goldfish in a plastic container being fish fish flakes from Walmart has really taken off into a passion for raising and taking care of fish, so much so that I am now studying fish in graduate school

susan August 23, 2013

I guess the other driving force in my life is urbanism and local politics. Oh, or maybe Star Wars.

Yulina August 22, 2013

I acquired a passion in pets, especially exotic, small, unusual ones. I've had civet, sugar glider, hedgehog, hamster, etc. before perfumes caught up with me. For now, I only have sugar gliders left. My couple have got two babies, and they may be expecting another ones soon. Besides, I have less time to take care of them.

Elia August 22, 2013

I go through modes, this perfume one is lasting longer than expected :) I've been passionate about cooking before, baking breads only at one point, the bread passion, and even gambling.

Nemo August 22, 2013

I love this topic, and I also love gardens! I have nothing but admiration for gardeners, and I've never attempted to do much except keeping a cactus around now and then :) I recently discovered I have an interest in martial arts, which completely came out of the blue. Through my hobby, I've met all sorts of interesting and friendly people, and I have also learned to appreciate myself and what I can do (despite being rather short and not particularly athletically gifted). It has definitely helped my self-confidence in many ways!

HemlockSillage August 22, 2013

whoops! my reply to you got stuck below :D You have the most amazing collection of interests. Weaving, dancing, perfume. . . It will be neat to see what new interest takes your fancy. Be well.

HemlockSillage August 22, 2013

Yes! Bellydancing is the best! I took an introductory course from a school that has been in town for over 30 years. . .and realized I could do this for a lifetime. It brings me such joy, and makes me feel so empowered, so womanly. Amazing. The dancers who've studied for years are amazing, and have such control in a dance that appears so wildly sensual. I love the contrast. I agree with Gweneth's post below that perfumistas tend to be sensualists in the best sense of the word. Opa!

Gwenyth August 21, 2013

Musette, you are a Wonder! I adore your posts - how you write, what you write and I adore you. Reading about life passions or interests simply shows me how much Good there is in this world. I feel uplifted and joyful. Thank you. This little community of perfumistas is great, also. I love reading the comments and thoughts. We are a diverse group of really nice folks with fascinating interests. In general, I've noticed that Perfumistas are true sensualists, meaning that each of us tends to enjoy things that stimulate our senses. We love art, we love cooking, we love music, we love scents (however we come by them).

solanace August 21, 2013

As many from our little community, I enjoy gardening, cooking and baking, little pleasures that make my house smell like home. Now I'm planning vegetable and herb beds concentric to the trees - various citrus and some native friut. If it works, it should be cool. The zombie apocalypse kit is beyond amazing!

dinazad August 21, 2013

Honestly, life changing things turn my life around so often I feel I'm whirling all the time. 20 or so years ago it was bellydancing. I took one lesson and POW! I knew that was MY dance, the one made for my body. Then there were perfumes - I went from the "why should anybody have more than 3 perfumes" stage to the "why not have 300?" stage in the blink of an eye. Weaving: I suck at it, I tear my hair, but in the end it calms me down and I still can't believe I actually made those shawls I wear all the time! Lately, it's walking. I used to walk all the time as a student, but I sort of lost the habit when I joined the work force. Now I get cranky if I can't walk six or seven miles twice a week. Who knows what will be next? Can't wait to find out!

Maureen August 21, 2013

Well, after a bad breakup of a 5-year relationship, I was encouraged by friends to "get back out there." This was about 2 months ago. So recently I met a younger guy at a nice place where a friend of mine was entertaining. He was charming and seemed nice and was very generous, but after a few weeks of him, I am totally exhausted. He liked me so much he wanted all my free time. He does not have to work, and all he wants to do is drink & party & go out and then keep me up all night. While it was so much fun and Oh so flattering, he just wore me out . I have to work full time, so I cannot be up all night with him. I laughingly broke it off, and have decided to paint my living room & kitchen instead of "getting back out there". I need the rest! (He did smell good, he wore The One, and it was nice for a dept. store fragrance.) I admire you with your garden. I replaced annuals with perennials 2 years ago, and it is so much less work and looks nice, all I have to do is keep up with the weeding. The black eyed susans are taking over though, I have to thin them out. I really enjoy your posts, you make me laugh.

Jackie b August 21, 2013

Ooh, my flag came up as Italy where I am visiting, but frogs were dinky di Australian!

Jackie b August 21, 2013

OK time for weird confessions...I have a thing about frogs, and tadpoles. For years I was a frog carer for a study group that rescued frogs that came to markets in fruit boxes, we would quarantine them and give them out to members to keep. I had tanks all over the house before I moved interstate, you should have heard us at night!! We had frog ponds in the garden too, but oversexed frogs drove the new tenants mad and they drained them. Are your chickens quieter I wonder?

Portia August 21, 2013

I wrote to you but it got eaten. I love you Musette, you know it, Portia xx

Martha August 21, 2013

I love gardens and wish I was a gardener, but I'm not. Several neighbors have gardens for front yards/lawns. I am envious because these gardens are practical as well as pretty. The practical part is No Mowing. I despise mowing! Anyway, these gardens full of low-maintenance plants that do well in almost any situation. It is an absolute delight to walk my dog past these gardens every day. Carry on, Musette, I admire your dedication.

Michelle August 21, 2013

I love reading your posts, no matter what they are about. Right now I am fully facing the damage to my once fit 30-something body after 7 years of grad school and 1.5 years of seeing my partner through catastrophic health crises. Today is my first trip to the megatron boobie squasher 2000, and just the other day, I had the awesome pleasure of having a Dr. ask me if I knew what BMI is. It's super-fun to have the realization that in this world, no matter what you strive for and accomplish in your life, if you're fat, forty & female, you are [email protected]!#ed. Off to take fish oil, calcium supplements and my morning power walk (at least I smell awesome in Aterlier Cologne Silver Iris).

Ann August 21, 2013

Lovely, lovely post, Musette, as always! We live in a traditional subdivision and lawns are it, although we've tried to landscape and shrink ours down with drought-tolerant plants and shrubs. But this year we've had so much rain that the lawns are a wonderful emerald green, courtesy of Mother Nature.

Musette August 21, 2013

LOL! on the lawn conversion. Lizzy, I feeeel yer paiiiin! What is it with guys and lawns? Perhaps it dates back to our first post- hunter/gatherer days, when men needed a clearing to lookout for predators, whilst women needed space to grow food. Both are essential for survival but now, with sidewalks and 911, a huge expanse of water-sucking lawn is just wasteful and unproductive, imo. Your garden sounds lovely. I have had that in the past and will have it again....1 foot at a time! :-D xoxoA

Connie August 21, 2013

Dad and I are remodeling the kitchen- does that count? :) I'm still trying to find the things that I like beyond the rest- or maybe the problem is that I have too many. I love horseback riding, classic literature, art, classic movies, gardening, cooking.

masha7 August 21, 2013

For me, it's been ceramics. I was an Art major way back when, but ceramics was my Waterloo. The worst moment was when I finally got my blob of clay centered on the wheel, then accidentally whacked it when someone scared me with a sneeze...the blob flew with great power across the studio, hitting my teacher squarely in the chest! She fell over, mayhem ensued, and I switched to metalwork that semester! So when we had a very stressful move across the Pond, I decided I needed to shore up my happiness and self-esteem, and I found a ceramics teacher. A year on, I'm making some good pieces, and getting some notice for it, though I still dislike wheel work and mostly make hand-built things. If I can learn ceramics, anyone can learn anything! Oh, and you can write about your gardening anytime, Musette! Love it!

ncmyers August 21, 2013

I started doing yoga a year or so ago to treat some chronic pain I'd been having. It has changed my life! Cheesy, I know, but not only is it wonderful physically and mentally, but I've met the best people and tried things that I never thought I'd do. I'm almost, gulp, grateful for that pain that got me into it. Getting ready to do some now!

poodle August 21, 2013

I love my garden and I am also gradually getting rid of more and more of the lawn. I'd rather pull weeds than cut the grass and have that constant battle all summer to keep it green and pretty. I'm trying to grow more veggies each year but this year was a bust. I'm also learning how to put herbs to use more than I do. There's always work to be done in the garden, but I also love just sitting outside and watching the hummingbirds and butterflies it attracts. For me that's a wonderful payoff for the work. Next project to get rid of more grass will be to put in a small pond. Over the winter my plan is to get back to doing artsy crafty things like painting and possibly turn that into a part time job that I actually enjoy. So many ideas, so little time.

patriciaC August 21, 2013

My cats-i have two of them and they are my fur-babies. I have to say they are a driving force in my life right now. My therapy and somthing to care for and not have to worry if i'm spoiling too much. I have a tendancy to over care for family and friends. With my cats george and LuLu its ok to over love them.

Laurels August 21, 2013

In recent years, chamber music. I found an organization that presents free (but first-rate) chamber music concerts, and now I'm on the board of directors. Live music is wonderful, and classical vocal music, especially, is not done justice by recordings.

Sally McSweeney August 21, 2013

When I first came to the US 28 years ago as a Brit who was raised on mugs o' tea that were guaranteed to shake you awake and keep you going until the sun went down, I was appalled to find that the definition of that magnificent brew stateside translated as "Liptons." Surely there must be some mistake, I reasoned. This wishy washy liquid that barely has any recognizable color can't be that divine beverage upon which an Empire was built! If that wasn't bad enough, the worst was yet to come. Iced. With enough sugar to keep dentists nationwide employed for several lifetimes. It almost sent me back across the pond. But I was British damnit - I would keep calm and carry on and introduce the real deal to this tea-starved nation. Slowly but surely I began serving my friends Assam, Ceylon, Darjeeling, Earl Grey; in a pot to boot (my granny would have been proud, she was never far from her Brown Betty teapot) and not the ubiquitous tea bag. A trip to China sealed my fate - I became a self confessed (and proud of it) tea snob. Gazing in awe at the array of teas in beautiful tins from floor to ceiling in a tiny tea house in Suzhou, I knew I was doomed, but wonderfully so. My love for my homeland's favorite beverage became my passion which in turn became my business, offering over 300 different teas and tisanes. My personal stash (no pun intended...) soon outgrew the shelf in the cupboard and so my long suffering husband who has gamely sniffed, slurped and sometimes spat each new brew before it passed The Test, built some beautiful shelves that run all around our kitchen on which to display my treasures. Finding the perfect tin for each tea has become a quest in and of itself - at last count, there were 218 of the beauties. Sometimes, when everyone has gone to bed and the house is in that delicious settling-down-for-the-night place, I just sit and look them over, remembering where a particular one came from, as each has a story to tell - with a cup of tea, of course.

leathermountain August 21, 2013

I stumbled upon my profession!

Mary P. August 21, 2013

A major turning point in my life was when I first learned about the healing power of plants. I was standing in the back garden one day after having been diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening illness and the thought occurred to me that plants had always been used for healing. It ignited a passion to learning about herbs, health, healing and wholeness that has been with me ever since. I had always had a love and reverence for the Earth, and it has only deepened since I stepped on that path.

eldarwen22 August 21, 2013

It's yellow jacket season and my dad and I are the yellow jacket killers right now. I am now looking for something to take care of that stupid nest that is in our garage door. We keep spraying it with the wasp stuff but it don't get rid of the nest. It's the side door on the garage. My mom and I are sick of getting stung by these things. On the other hand, I don't ever recall having a year where I am not rotating my perfume closet. Yes, all of it is on my dresser because we have pretty much stayed in the 70's temp wise. Thus far, I have only 1 person that is waiting to grab my perfume and sell it.

Lizzy August 21, 2013

Mine has been converting the yard from lawn and hedges to native and drought-tolerant, water-wise plants. It's been a struggle with the hubs and (somewhat less so) the neighbors, but folks are coming around. I now have people exclaiming how wonderful my yard smells (thanks to all the sages, artemisia, lemongrass, chocolate mint, lavender, rosemary, and bee balm) and asking "what is that beautiful plant/shrub/tree?" (Western redbud, manzanita, California fuchsia...). We now have heavy traffic of bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies--I feel like ours is the most unique and alive garden on the block! It surely is the most water efficient one.

Spiker August 21, 2013

A few years ago, I was going through a rough time at work. On a much needed vacation I went to Bryce Canyon. Looking at the rock formations and beauty of the canyon, I decided I needed more of that in my life. It hasn't turned me into a huge fan of roughing it, but any chance I get now I try to enjoy the natural beauty of parks and the outdoors. Those are almost always the best parts of my travels.

FeralJasmine August 21, 2013

My passion for many years was urban homesteading. I live on less than an acre but had layers and meat chickens and milk goats in addition to a front-yard veggie garden and a mini-orchard. About eighteen months ago, orthopedic disaster struck, and has not yet been resolved, although I have high (and reasonable) hopes. This summer my goats loaf around unbred, my five remaining layers eat more than they produce, and my garden produces mostly lambs-quarters (utterly delicious,by the way.) my spirits, though, aren't half bad. My years of urban homesteading gave me a deep respect for the cyclical nature of life, and this is just a different cycle. My time will come again. Meanwhile, I discovered the Posse and the world of perfume, and had the chance to live in my senses in a way that my former frantic schedule didn't allow. And after my upcoming surgery, those goats better be ready to get off their duffs! Musette, as I watch you move into homesteading, I'm so grateful for everything it gave me. You go, girl.