Wednesday, October 26, 2016



When someone moves away, they leave a space behind them. Like a gaping hole of a plucked tooth. But it will quickly fill up: their old apartment will be occupied with new tenants, their friends will find new friends to do similar things with, or move on to new activities altogether...
Meanwhile in the new country, everyone will need to squeeze elbows to make new room for the new people. In my case, I had to give notice to my tenants to leave so that I can renovate my home (much needed after nearly twenty years of absence), take up a room in my brother's home, and soon I'll be also practically kicking my mom's other tenant in her yurt. It feels rather awkward to create so many shifts and changes in my surrounding and be a burden on everyone - especially since usually I am the one who hoses and helps people in my community.

The challenges of moving back to Israel are many and countless and only after coming here I've learned that actually being an ex-pat coming back "home" is a much more shocking and devastating experience than moving to a new country altogether. That is certainly my experience. There's the mourning of the life lost in the previous country; and the shock of coming to a place I've expected to be familiar, only to discover that really is even stranger than a completely new place. People I thought of as close and familiar don't seem that way anymore. People who weren't here when I built this village (my family is among the founders, pioneers so to speak) don't even know who I am now.  The language tastes strange in my mouth, though I find it to be extremely satisfying to express my frustrations in it with slang that I would have never used when I grew up here.

On the bright side: I haven't shed a tear in four days, which is a huge accomplishment; healthcare is much better here (and my daughter is already receiving it for free). The bureaucracy hurdles that seemed unresolvable and were simply maddening to me before the 3-weeks of high-holiday craze (which put any normal life to a halt in this country) surprisingly resolved all on their own while I was doing nothing about it.

On the even brighter side: that haunted house (pictured above) is in the advanced planning stages for renovations, which will commence in less than two weeks. They will include adding a new, separate room for my perfume studio and school. Also the wild trees I've built my house near have grown to be amazingly beautiful and give awesome shade, which is much needed in this climate, and so are the trees I've planted around it twenty years ago. I am really enjoying the process of planning what to plant around it and how to turn the wild habitat around the house into a fragrant botanical garden that I can incorporate in my teaching and perfuming.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Yom Kippur + Thanksgiving

Pumpkin and thorns

Happy belated Thanksgiving to all of my friends and customers in Canada. I'm quite overwhelmed with the flood of Jewish holidays, and the time difference - so I didn't manage to get a chance to commemorate a tradition of gratitude which I grew to embrace and call my own. So I'm going to merge together the two traditions - Jewish and Canadian - and say sorry and thank you in one post... It's a perfect pairing for Yom Kippur and Thanksgiving, don't you think?

This year I'm particularly thankful for all my friends in Vancouver, old and new,  who jumped to the task of helping me wrap up 18 years of life and ship them to the other side of the globe. I know it was more painful for them at the time than it was for me  (with the tremendous pressure of preparations, the realization of what was really happening has only began to sink in after I've arrived here). So I'm also sorry for all the mess, trouble and sadness my departure was mingled with and sorry for leaving.  We'll have to arrange some trans-atlantic visits. I promise you: there's lots to see here in my new neighbourhood of the Western Galilee. The more I discover about it, the more excited I get about my new life here. 

And I'm particularly thankful for my family, who've received me here with open hearts and arms, and made my landing as soft as possible. Thank you for putting up with the shock and turmoil that immigration entails for those who experience it firsthand and those who support them. I arrived here in a state of shock and only learned after the fact that moving countries brings so much grief. Literally. People spend at least a year grieving the life they had in the previous country as if they've lost a loved one.  Not to mention the daily struggles with language, customs, geography. There is not a night when I don't wake up in horror from a realization (or a dream) that I left something really important back in my old home. Add to that many bureaucratic paradoxality that not only boggles the mind but also directly impedes on our daily life and my family's well-being. 

I have a newfound admiration for immigrants the world over and a deeper understanding of why my countries are the way they are - for better and for worse. Immigrants should be saluted to, not laughed at for their accents or weird customs. 

So I'm going to apologize in advance and ask my family's forgiveness for all the mess that we're going to be facing in the next few months until my home is ready and until we're fully used to our new surroundings. We're off to a very wild ride together... 

Gmar Chatima Tova!

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Friday, October 07, 2016


Guavas from my mom's tree

Autumn in Israel has a completely different feel to it, having very little to do with fallen leaves or spooky celebrations, and more to do with the sunlight mellowing and the days shortening. Being on the merging point of three continent, this is a season of migrating birds (southbound from Europe, mostly), striking white flowers that rise fro the dead hay of summer, and carob blossoms with their disturbingly sexual smell.

There's also an overwhelming abundance of fruit that are coming out now, literally falling to the ground daily. Guavas are one of the most symbolic aromas that dominate this season. A single fruit will suffice to impregnate the air of an entire home, and families are often divided based on their attitude to this fragrant fruit with grainy flesh and creamy seed-filled core.

Homemade #guava #jam

My mom's trees are bursting with fruit, and even though we try to eat as many as we can, we're running out of ideas for what to do with them. Either way, they make a great environmental scent (at least for those who like the fragrance) so no complaints for having a basketful in each home in my family's little "neighbourhood". We already made a parfait with them (it was supposed to be gelato but I put too much gelatine so it congealed well before getting a chance to be frozen). I think we will need to make something else with them to preserve their goodness - maybe a jam or confiture if I can find a good recipe. Guavas also make excellent candy - such as the popular Mexican "Rollo de Guayaba" - a rolled fruit leather of sorts, and guava pate, very similar to quince, but often packed in flat wide cans. Guavas are also used in cooked and fresh, Cuban-style salsa (the pink guavas, which are more watery and less fragrant, go particularly well with tomatoes and onion). Paired with soft cheese, guavas make a sweet filling for empanadas.

Fresh guava & papaya salsa for our breakfast quesedillas and beyond.

Guavas belong to the Myrtle family, which may sound surprising, but when you bite into a firm fruit, or one that is not all mushy and ripe yet, actually makes sense. There is a fragrant green herbal note to guava. And that is the stage I enjoy eating it the most - when the part that is close to the stem still resists the bite a little bit, and has that slightly acrid taste while the rest of the fruit yields to the teeth and melts in your mouth. When the fruit is completely ripe, it has less pleasant odour in my opinion, suggestive of stinky feet.

There is a chemical explanation to this complexity, of course: "in immature fruits and those in their intermediate stage of maturation, were predominantly the aldehydes such as (E)-2-hexenal and (Z)-3-hexenal. In mature fruits, esters like Z-3-hexenyl acetate and E-3-hexenyl acetate and sesquiterpenes caryophyllene, α-humulene and β-bisabollene are present."

To further explain: (E)-2-hexenal is an important component of strawberry's fragrance, and (E)-3-hexenal is a green-smelling aldehyde, reminiscent of fresh cut grass and tomato leaves. So that partially explains why the unripe fruit is so interestingly fragrant and why strawberries and guavas go so well together. The fruit esters that develop when the fruit ripens - Z-3-hexenyl acetate also appear in berries such as blueberries and strawberries, while E-3-hexenyl acetate is described as the green odour of unripe bananas and pears. α-humulene is an isomer of caryphyellene, and is also responsible for the characteristic smell of cannabis - which might explain the offensive odour of the ripe fruit. β-bisabollene has a sweet taste and a balsamic odour, and also acts as pheromone in fruit flies (which is why they probably like ripe guavas so much).

Guava's objectionable aroma prevents them from becoming popular as a perfume note. And when they do make an appearance, it seems to be in commercial-smelling fruity florals and tropical-themed fragrances that I don't usually even bother sniffing. If you can enlighten me on a good scent with guava note I'd be grateful.

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Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Return to Sea

Return to Sea

Shana Tova uMetuka to everyone who's celebrating. I've been up to my ears in adjustment mode and taking care of little details to start our new life here that my celebrations have been restricted to the Rosh HaShanna dinner. Otherwise most days just seem to continue merging into one another in one endless loop of tasks that remain undone and problems that are still unresolved. I know I should give myself a break (moving homes alone is one of the most stressful life events, and immigration amplifies this a hundred fold)  - but I have major responsibilities and there are some things I'm absolutely unwilling to compromise about (such as my child's health and well-being, at any age really).

This is a time for new beginnings, and that means a lot of letting go. Before I left Vancouver I returned all the shells I collected over the years to the ocean. To me this was a symbolic way of giving thanks to nature, and the Salish Sea in particular, which gave me much needed comfort throughout the years. The conception of so many ideas - and perfumes - happened to me as I walked along the seawall, in varying weather conditions and lighting degrees. The water helps me reflect on my life and recollect my thoughts. The fresh salty air around the water cleared not only my lungs but also the mind.

I'm thankful for being able to see the Mediterranean from where I live, and  that it is only a 20 minutes drive away. I've never seen a sea I did not like, and returning to my childhood's beaches is one of the most blissful part of this move (on par with my nephews and nieces' enthusiastic welcome and the fact that they remember us even though we didn't visit for a year and a half).

There is a strip of wild sand dunes and lagoons of the northernmost beach spanning all the way from Banana Beach to Rosh HaNikra/Ras El Nakura  - the grottos which are right on the border with Lebanon. I'm curious to see how it behaves throughout the seasons and the sea's mood cycles. There is plenty of wild life there, both in the water and along the shore - fragrant beach lilies included. I'm looking forward to being able to swim and enjoy the sea and its salty water almost year-around (it gets only as cold as the summer temperatures of the Pacific in wintertime; but it's also most stormy then). I can't wait to see what inspirations these waves will bring me.

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Monday, October 03, 2016

Lost in the Lagoon

Lagoons in Achziv beach

We landed in Israel a few days ago, greeted by unbearable heat. As soon as I set foot in Ben Gurion airport, a dreadful realization sank in: we're now homeless and have left everything that is familiar with free-fall into the complete opposite culture, climate and lifestyle.

Nothing remains the same in our life, except for miss T's breakfasts and tea rituals, and my insistence of making it to the beach once a day, if at all possible. Hiking (or even walking) has become unbearable a by the 3rd day after our arrival. The vicious desert winds from the east set in an apocalyptic mood and bring a heat wave that makes even walking the 50 meters to my mom's house next door rather intimidating.

Plus, I won't bore you with the details of Canadian customs regulations about liquids and anything fragrance related; nor Canadian insurance companies' reluctance to cover anything going into a country considered. I'll just say that as I anticipatead, this is going to be a wild ride and we may be without a home or our belongings for quite some times. I packed accordingly, which is to say not particularly light - with 2 small carry-on suitcases and 3 large ones (one of them entirely dedicated to perfume stock, so that my customers can continue shopping online as usual and receive their orders without delay). So suffice to say - my apocalyptic approach to packing those 5 pieces of luggage, although seemed to have lack some coherence at the time will come handy. We have clothes and footwear to take us into winter, and have plenty of paperwork and books to keep us busy for a few months. Mark my word: If you have a perfume business, don't move it. Ever.

Achziv beach
We traded in our comfortable city lifestyle, and what I consider perfect weather (all in all, I always liked rain), our backyard rainforest and next door beach for dusty olive groves, unbearable heat, and village life off-the-grid (although thankfully my family has set up wi-fi in all three household on the "ranch", which makes that transition much easier at least from business and communication point of view). But all those opposites aside, the one winning reason for being here is not lost on me. I'm most grateful for having our free-fall cushioned by a loving and warm family and being surrounded by so much love and support. Their encouragement through this very rough transition is a proof that when tough things are going to happen in life (as they tend to be) I won't be there all on my own like I had to be before. Not to mention, if I were to do this 20 years from now, it would have been a thousand times harder.
Beach Lilies

The beauty of this country (not that this is why I came here) lies in small, hidden things. Stunning wild flowers in unexpected places, like these pure-white beach lilies (which smell much like hyacinths, by the way). People seem utterly impatient, vulgar and uncourteous at first glance but if you look past the few loud shroud voices that squeak too much you discover true kindness and generosity, openness and compassion.

And speaking of flowers: I've already started collecting bulbs of fragrant flowers (with the help of my gardener brother) so that I can start the mini perfumer's botanical garden that I've been dreaming about as part of the new location of my perfumery and perfume school. I've gotten a number of narcissi, hyacinths and Easter lilies to start the garden, and will also get some rhizomes of Iris germanica from my other brother's garden. I've got my seeds of Parma violets and shiso, and there's already jasmine and rose in my garden and some citrus trees in the orchard. But that's just the beginning. Come spring it will become a very happy place.

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