Wednesday, September 19, 2018

When the Desert Rains

When the desert rains, the land looks happy.

Sometimes it rains in a drizzle--and the plants, busy sucking up the water to store for the long months ahead, look greener than ever under the gray clouds.

Sometimes it rains in a monsoon--and the lightning bolts, the grand masters of drama, crash across the horizon like veins on a pair of hands.

The moisture doesn't make the earth smell like dirt or mud, or bland like wet grass. Instead, the rain brings out all the unique scents of the plants. And so it is that the smell of desert rain is unlike any other smell. It's like the smell of gratitude, from the plants and towards the water. It makes you feel so much more connected to the cycles of the land, so much more aware of what something like rain means to the health the earth.

When the desert rains, the land is happy.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Antique or Vintage Finds?

"Vintage" is the cool term. "Antique" is the less approachable term, the one that evokes either expense or undesirable relics left in someone's attic over the decades. At least, that's what I seem to observe. To me, though, vintage means newer items, from the fifties and up. Forties and thirties are kind of in that in-between time where I'm not sure where to include them. Antiques are simply older than that. So when I think of vintage, I think of trinket jewelry and felted wool hats and things like that--so usually things to wear. When I think of antiques, I think of lasting items. The vintage things have only lasted a few decades if that, so whether or not they will last much longer is not always certain. But the antiques, they've made it and they will make it. Beautiful wood pieces, rich in their natural color and detailed in their design. Cameos carved of shell. Silver utensils and serving dishes. Etc.

And when I think of repurposing things, I have a different perspective than seems to be most popular at the moment.

I keep an antique serving dish to hold my chalk eraser and a little silver cup that holds the chalk itself. A Victorian biscuit jar I use to hold tea bags (since I don't use many tea bags, mainly just loose tea, I wanted a separate and neat place for the tea bags that I do end up having around). A brass toothbrush holder (at least, I think that's what it is) I use to hold my eyeliner while my makeup brushes I keep in a little crystal vase.

But things that are still useful as what they are? I keep them that way. Silverware. Hats. Pictures. Wooden tables and shelves (including my two beloved whatnot shelves) (remember, they need no paint: wood is beautiful). And the serving dishes that don't end up holding chalk or perfume or whatever else can also still hold food.

I'm of the perspective that if there are things that still exist that are nice, why make new things? If I can buy a nice antique coffee table, why buy a newly made one? If that silverware is still useful as silverware, why turn it into something else?

It's cool to be all "vintage style." But when I look around at my things, I'm amazed at how many antiques I keep around me and just use as part of my day. I don't really do the vintage thing. I just look for quality pieces that I like that I know will last, things that lasted someone else's lifetime and will last my lifetime and will last someone else's lifetime once I'm gone.

I guess that's why I think of vintage as little bits of clothing, like a silk scarf or a pair or silver earrings, that I add to an outfit and antiques as the things on which I build my home's style.

Antique versus vintage--what do the words mean to you?

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Star Trek Feel

I always said I would get around to watching the rest of the Star Trek series eventually. I grew up with The Next Generation, watched the original series in college, and got to Voyager last year. Now I've finally started in on Deep Space Nine.

Each new one can take some time to get used to and settle into. I'm not quite settled in yet. And still, from the beginning, I had that feeling of comfort and familiarity.

The style of not just the uniforms but the clothing in general. The types of characters (in a good way and a bad way). The ships. The stars. The techie/sciencey talk. The style of the aliens. And the music. Not the same music but the same type of music that I know. Maybe it was the music that made it feel so familiar.

It's weird. I always said I'm not a huge Star Trek fan . . . but that I do like it because I grew up with it. And it's so true. It's almost like I reluctantly find comfort in it, the way you turn to your favorite junk food that you usually don't buy but have to cave in and get sometimes.

I don't . . . like everything about Star Trek. And yet that isn't enough to keep me away. It isn't enough to keep me from getting excited to do some more exploring. Which in itself says something about the franchise, about the unique world that it established. It's a created world like that of a fantasy story, something tangible and recognizable and distinguishable from other worlds.

Trekking through stars, endlessly exploring.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Rust General Store: Rum Candies

While in the Historic Old Town District of San Diego, one of the places that I like to visit is Rust General Store. They sell soap and things and food products like spices and tea and candy and chocolate. I felt like there was less chocolate this time than before, but I think it was the same. It just wasn't new to me anymore. Still, one can't pass up opportunities to buy chocolate that one doesn't always come across, so I picked up another bar from Eclipse Chocolate and some of Rust's chocolate candies.

Last time I was there, I chose the Rose Petal Savories. This time I switched from girly to the perhaps more masculine option of Rum. And, you know, it's candy, so why not go for something reckless?

These are little round pieces of shiny chocolate like before, except that these came in a small rectangular container versus the larger pouch from last time. I did find a surprise when I attacked the first one: I found a sugary coating inside the chocolate that held a liquid inside. I realized I'd been expecting for the rum element to just be blended in with the chocolate.

Besides the fact that I hadn't expected anything liquid, I also found this odd because usually I associate the liquid alcohol-flavored chocolates with the ones that you need to be 21 and over to purchase. There were, however, no such restrictions for this one. This liquid tastes alcohol-y to me, but must not really be much, after all. Maybe they just overdosed the vanilla extract on purpose, eh? (And I can't look at the ingredients list for help because there is in fact no ingredients list.)

The overall taste is definitely better than that of the aforementioned 21 and over chocolate candies (the ones that are usually shaped like little bottles). The alcohol element in those just tastes weird to me and the chocolate is ridiculously cheap. This chocolate is better. It's more of what I want to call average chocolate but is in fact a little above average (average chocolate, unfortunately, means bad chocolate). The sugary coating throws me off a bit, though it does help to give that sweet rum effect.

Probably I personally preferred the Rose Petal Savories. And sure, a handmade rum truffle would beat these easy. Yet they're nice little nibbles, something to share as dessert perhaps.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

I Was Just One

I was just one, solitary. 

Looking out to the horizon.

And then I met you--and we were two.

That's when the sun set on the past and the future began. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Jedi, Thou Art Not the Last

Has it really been nearly five years since Ian Doescher's Shakespeare's Star Wars series began? It was just one of those random, fun concepts that could have played out and died all in a moment, except that the combination works so naturally and he plays it out so well that . . . keep it coming.

When you begin the eight book in a series like this, you kind of pause, like, okay, here we are again. And you're not exclaiming over all the verses and the references like you did the first time, except that that's what suddenly makes it all so wonderful. You're reading it at a regular pace, like a piece that simply flows. This language, elevated and poetic, fits the story perfectly.

If there is anyone who had mixed feelings about character actions or motives in The Last Jedi, this is the perfect book to read. When I talked about The Force Doth Awaken, I mentioned how Ian was able to do less of a look into characters' heads than he'd done in previous books because for the first time he was going over a story where we only had one piece so far. He couldn't add extra bits about, for instance, Kylo's motives because we didn't really know all of his motives or all of his story yet. The same thing is happening here but to a lesser degree because, of course, there is much about the story that Episode VIII reveals. And even with what we don't know, he did such a beautiful job at expressing what we do know that it hid the fact that there may still be a little more to the story.

Kylo's conflict. Rey's similar identity crisis. Luke's feelings of failure. Poe's reasons for going against Holdo and Holdo's reasons for doing things the way she did.

As I've mentioned before, this series has moved on from being just a humor series. There are beautiful and genuinely moving passages in here. I particularly like the moment in which Kylo and Rey touch fingertips and also the moment when Kylo defeats Snoke. Does anyone truly think Kylo is weak; don't they see how much strength it would have taken to do the sneaky thing he did there? Wonderfully expressed.

So, yes, may this series live on.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Dagoba: Chocolate Mint Lip Balm

Something a little bit different today. It's a chocolate product but not an edible chocolate product. It's a chocolate beauty product, the Dagoba Chocolate Mint Lip Balm.

The thing is, even though it says Dagoba right in the center there, Dagoba makes chocolate not beauty products, so this lip balm is made by Eco Lips. The chocolate elements in the ingredients are cocoa butter, chocolate flavor, and cocoa powder. The cocoa butter of course makes a nice companion to the beeswax in a lip product. But the rest of it? A little weird--but perhaps there isn't any other way to make it.

I don't know exactly what ingredient(s) "chocolate flavor" means, but the chocolate flavor that you taste when you use this lip balm is more of the contrived type of chocolate flavor than the flavor of biting into a piece of chocolate. That doesn't really make it worth it to me, though it might for you. My guess would be that the cocoa powder is there just to give the balm the brown color that will make our minds think of chocolate more than if this were simply a white balm.

Honestly, though, the mint is probably stronger than the chocolate. You can almost forget that the chocolate is there but the mint will be present. Mint is kind of the go-to for lip products, isn't it?

Now back to that brown color for a moment. Might you be wondering if it will tint your lips? Possibly, depending on your own natural coloring. The first time I put it on, I thought I could discern just a slight earthy tone as opposed to zero difference if I use a completely untinted lip balm (not that this one is meant to be tinted). So I suppose if you are very fair-skinned, you might get a little bit of darker color from this one. I don't expect that even then it would be too noticeable, though.

It's a good lip balm, as far as lip balms go. I'm definitely for going more natural in beauty products: your skin absorbs things. And something you put on your lips? Well, that should definitely be something you would be willing to eat. So if you just need a lip balm, go for it. But if you're looking for a good angle on chocolate, well, I'd say that this isn't the most exciting option.