Sunday, January 31, 2010


I just brushed the silvery green leaves of my rue plant which emits topnotes of diesel fuel and coconut perhaps karo karounde.

A powerful plant, the oil an abortifacient used by midwives of old. Delicate looking it emits scent quickly upon the lightest touch, perhaps a warning to certain insects. 

photo: Rue Lura Astor

Thursday, January 28, 2010

5 & 6 February 2010 Smithsonian Washington DC

in collaboration with the Embassy of France in Washington DC

Two Aromatic Events
with Luca Turin
Tania Sanchez
Patricia de Nicola

reservations required

ticket includes the book Perfumes: The Guide, bevvies, and gift bag
from Bloomies

The Art of Fragrance
Friday 5 February 2010
6:45 PM
$25 members, $40 general admission
click here for Friday ticket information

Perfumes: An Exquisite Exploration
Saturday 6 February 2010
10 AM - 1 PM
$125 members, $150 general admission
here for Saturday ticket information

Embassy of France - Auditorium
4101 Reservoir Road, NW
Washington, DC
Business Attire & Photo ID required

Friday's lecture, with scented examples, discusses enjoying fragrance, chemical breakthroughs that make modern perfumery possible, and the still-a-mystery how do our noses figure it all out?

Saturday, you get to smell new scents,
natural and synthetic raw materials, and You Lucky Duckies !!! masterworks that have been unavailable for decades, courtesy of a rare collection from the Versailles’ Osmotheque, International Conservatory of Perfumes.

Perfumer Patricia de Nicolaï is director of the Osmotheque, founder of Parfums de Nicolaï, and author of Once Upon a Time... Perfume.

Luca Turin, biophysicist at MIT,
author of The Secret of Scent, founder/CTO of Flexitral - an odorant molecule design company; Seen on TED and BBC regarding how the sense of smell works; Co-author of Perfumes: The Guide,
with Tania Sanchez, who publishes on the topic of perfumes.

Books & authors available for signing
! Report back.

Related links to right under Feed Your Inspiration.

photo: French Embassy in Washington DC

Scented Food for Season Four: The Tudors

A scent lover got me hooked on the series The Tudors. While I haven't watched Desperate Housewives, I do call this series The Desperate Royals. Even my local librarians are hooked and pointed out the fact that there is a poster of Henry on a throne of nekkid people.  Drive by a postered building Here
or view the poster Here
listen to the lovely reminder of Herman's Hermits singing the song that bore into pop consciousness with the refrain, second verse, same as the first.

Spring 2010 - cook meals to watch with your Final Season

Eugenia R. Van Vliet's book Dinners with Famous Women: From Cleopatra to Indira Gandhi you can cook historical feasts and find out behind the scenes tidbits. These meals included the use of many scents as ingredients.
Hear Natalie Dormer's voice (she plays Ann) as you read Ann Boleyn's menu and her descriptions of hunts with Henry, you will also hear of his eating habits that so disturbed Ann, she had to make her exit to eat "in peace and quiet".

This reminds me of Richard Dreyfuss as the exasperated shrink dad bursting into his son's room crying, I just need some peace and quiet, to which the son replies, I'll be quiet and What About Bob says, I'll be peace, and they have to pull the bed covers up to explode in not supposed to have giggles - the absolute best kind.

'enry's gout inducing gluttony makes you just know he looked nothing like actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers! I don't understand gout, but know it to be painful, so no wonder the boy's anger got out of control. Ben Franklin was another gouty guy.

Gout through History ... gout and the French word goûte crossover ... to taste, enjoy, to have taste, or, an afternoon tea ...

If you're caught up in the series Rome, no problem! Menus á la Cleopatra are covered in Van Vliet's cookbook.

Caryl Churchill's play Top Girls 1982 is a great dinner set-up of five characters from various times in history. Food preferences come in as they take you on a ride, revealing the stories of their lives.

Tudor Rose: ipankonin

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Don't Judge a Book by ...

Our local, largest independent bookstore in Southern California is Vromans and up in the Northwest, it is Powells. Vroman's is next to the local independent film movie house, the Laemmle with a coffee house and indoor/outdoor seating. It sits on the Rose Parade route that fills the area every New Year's.

Vromans sells a tee-shirt that reads

Don't Judge a Book by its Movie

I like stories in song, book, movie
and perfume in a bottle.
I like stories told, woven, cooked, eaten,
painted and sculpted.
I like choreography and technology
and bleeps of family story expressing genetically.

Illustration: Art From Above Lura Astor

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Teabag Prophecy 2

You will never
feel lonely
with a poet
in your pocket.

This teabag label wisdom may
be a typo (it is attributed to John Adams
1735-1826) but I prefer it to simply having a poem in my pocket.

It reminds me of when we were young and romantic and parting with a loved one, saying I wish you were as small as a mouse and I could put you in my pocket - kind of what today's texting devices can do, without the heartbeat. I wish you were ... and on the game would go.

In today's world a little poet in our pocket could be a fun way to have some rhyme, rhythm and directions from a portable muse.

Art Hand Series: Lura Astor 1998

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Clifton Fadiman, once described cheese
as “milk’s leap into immortality.”

While the magic within perfume bottles
and books can still talk
after the author is gone

cheese ya just gotta eat up
and with it, some of
milk's immortality!

Illustration: Lura Astor

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

teabag prophecy


Flowers leave some
of their fragrance
in the hand that
bestows them.

- proverb
from teabag I steeped

Art Hand Series: Lura Astor 1998
Cup Series:
Lura Astor

Serendipity Strikes Again! Coincidence Dreams & Smell

The Andaman Islands are home to a people who actively smell and dream.

Their calendar is based on bloom seasons, cycles of emitted fragrances. Each season presents its vital energies of aroma-forces. Navigation in these islands of fragrance is smell-based ... such as closer to the sea = saltier, further from the sea =
sterculia flower. Space differentiation is known by fluctuating olfactory perimeters of village and environment.

Coincidentally, while revisiting the article on smell cultures, I was revisiting Robert Moss' books on dreams, coincidence and imagination. Moss relays that the Andaman Islanders are an active dream culture. This means that people individually and as a community share dream work for life-supporting information, often dreaming as a group. It is documented that they left their fishing areas for hillside shelter prior to the 2004 Asian tsunami and survived, specifically due to heeding their shared dreams. There are nasal-centric and dream-centric cultures.

Coincidentally, perfumer Vedat Ozan's radio show Koku this week covers, you guessed it here is the radio show link, the show is in Turkish.

Ozan's show covers:
- "Calendars that change on aromas/scents, not on the movements of the sun

- Places fixed by aromas/scent, not by meters/latitude/longitude

- Andaman Islands and the Onges

- Rain Forests and the Dassanetchs

- Colombia, South America, and the Desanas

- 'All these primitive savages* stink ! Oh god, why are they not clean as us ??'"

Smelling and Dreaming. lastor says it doesn't get much better!

* Savage comes from the Latin silvaticus "of the forest"

The Three "Only" Things: Tapping the Power of Dreams, Coincidence & Imagination
The Secret History of Dreaming
both by Robert Moss
Aroma: The Cultural History of Smell
by Constance Classen, David Howes, Anthony Synnett

for your pleasure may I recommend

On Dreams, Coincidence and Imagination
Dreamers through History
Cultural History of Smell

Coincidentally, Arianna Huffington wrote of her dreaming today read here about Luxor Temple sleep/dream chambers and more.

The Andaman Islands photo: Venkatesh, K

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Kookoo for Koku

Koku, translates to English from Turkish as
in a previous post
Vedat Ozan's smell/scent radio show.

Not speaking Turkish, for me the sound koku evokes the cooing of morning doves or pigeons, which I find lovely.


Here a current article on perfumer, photographer, radio show host of Koku Vedat Ozan, as the title says, the man who beautifies his life with photography and smell.
Vedat Ozan's photography here and here The perfumes I have smelled to date are divine, fun, bracing,sensuous and other adjectives depending on the one.

The title Kookoo for Kokuechoes the sillily sung tagline for Cocoa Puffs cereal, repeated by the mascot coocoo bird. Actually it was as catchy as the idea of having a chocolate breakfast cereal. In my family we kids weren't allowed to have its sugars, so of course I got it "bootleg" from a neighbor or snuck it somehow, fascinated with how the milk became chocolatey brown.

So coocoo or kookoo, obsession comes up among the perfume/scent/olfaction crowd.

"Until you dream it," used to be the training ... whatever you were studying, a different language, choreography, a new topic, music, software, recipes. It was not merely eat, sleep, read, talk, live it ... you had to dream it. When young, overhearing my ballet teacher from France saying, I knew I had the language (English) once I was dreaming it, left an impression, as well as a memory every time I dreamed something I was learning - both in waking life - and learning in dreaming life.

Obsession. I am not talking about having to wash your hands 50 times before you can proceed to the next square of your move, trying to control life, but, you may try something 50 times, sketch it 50+ times, play with the variations 100's of times because you know you are working towards it, you are making yourself available for it to get you! Thus the practice of practice. With practice the form emerges.

Outside my prior journalistic purview, people sometimes stop mid-conversation and say, but I don't want to bore you with my rambling, I could go on forever about (geology, star formation, nanos, music, movies ...). It is there where the gems are. When people get onto the topic of their passion, if they have a passion, I hope they have a pash, a light lights up behind the eyes, the voice ignites lyrically playing through accent and dialect. On that bubble you can just take a ride around the world they're sharing.

To speak the language of koku is a gift
and I love all those who can speak it with me

we cross boundaries of land, language and time
for, the magic in the bottles and books still talks
long after its author is gone

photo: Silver Lunar Landscape Cactii Lura Astor
Illustration:  Femme Lura Astor (original fragrance by Edmond Roudnitska for Rochas (and his wife Therese)

Thursday, January 14, 2010


I disagree that it (click here) is the first study ... however,
here's another take
on the same old chestNut

"men’s testosterone
responses to
olfactory ovulation cues

title phrase from Eric Francis

Illustration: Bottle Series Lura Astor

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Life Likes to Rhyme ... Lessons in Soulfulness

Always liked how the name of Maya Plisetskaya rhymes, with rhythm it's fun to say.

If once you have seen her leap, like a match scratching the earth and a flame jumps up, she is fire in air, after an attitude of the slightest hesitation, grabbing the space and you with her.

After 27 curtain calls following one of her Swan Lake's in Paris, she said her friends agreed that

"I had forced the audience to switch its interest from abstract technique to soul and plasticity."

Illustration Winds of Color Lura Astor

Monday, January 11, 2010

smells so good


Secrets can be ... seductive
  - from the film Notes on a Scandal


Secrets of Scent Revealed through Textiles, Color, Food

The language of flowers and spices is spoken throughout cultures’ life and death passages, with variant uses in courting, grooming, anointing, pleasure, medicine, and within spiritual and sociological arenas.

Flowers and spices are included in pattern, are found in tombs, and with mummies. click here

They fragrance hats and baths, adorn necklines and icons, show status by the ear and in the hair, wrap the waist, present laurels, and are seen being given and received.


Scent includes the language of forests: wood, resins and animal products.

With technological advances we identify fragrant residues left within pomanders, vials, bottles and rings.

Snuff boxes, and their earlier equivalents, reveal not only tobacco leaf, but lavender, rose, and ingredients such as the medicinal, or shamanic, anadenanthera colubrina var. cebil (fabaceae).

Fabrics drape over incense burners throughout cultures and paintings.

Moth repellent scents of patchouli or vetiver were proof of authentic import in the profitable, early shawl trade.

photo: Train Nose Lura Astor
excerpt from presentation

Saturday, January 9, 2010

I love tango, piano ... and creative duos

This'll make you practice, huh kids?

their website here
tour info, bios, videos

Astor Piazzolla, Yo Yo Ma and others Libertango here:

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

olfactory imagination

as we forge ways,

new and old,
of delivering olfactory imagination

in conjunction
with other media -LA


Bottles, Jars, Apothecary, Alchemists, Amphoras, Vials, Pomanders and Jewels

the marriage of heated sand in the form of glass with volatility in the form of perfume, cologne, fragrance

Timelines of containers, ceramic and glass work, pomanders and jewelry, reveal layers of understanding when one has a guide explaining what the contained scent was used for, made from, smelled like, during any period of human existence and expression.

These relationships are inseparable once one clearly sees, truly smells, the archeology, for then … craftsmanship, symbology, beauty, history and iconography come to renewed life.

Private and public collections throughout the world include the art of the miniature, or “minis”, exact replication of the original bottle and fragrance in miniature, and, factices, the large bottles used for display, holding colored liquid that is not perfume, but is often the same color of the original perfume.

Along with the written word, creative merging of performance, fine and curatorial arts is of keen interest to me. As scent designers in both the fragrance and the flavor worlds continually look for new delivery systems, I believe new delivery systems of fragrance knowledge, with its growing language and mediums, create opportunities and visibility for venues and institutions.

Integrate the information that scent ethnology unlocks into cataloguing and timelines. Our interpretation of history then improves as well as our understanding of artistic play and expression.

As I cast bait to various institutions and imaginations - let's see who bites! When they don't, I chew the bait myself. yum.

-Lura Astor

Listen With Your Nose

Illustration: Shimmer Lura Astor

Bottle Lura Astor



You might enjoy an
excellent read Violin Dreams by violinist Arnold Steinhardt

for your listening pleasures

Peter Salem's Beau Brummell
Ed Alleyne-Johnson, Oxford Suiteand Orange

Jerry Goodman, if you remember The Flock, the group was the first time I heard the electric violin; The Blues Project was the first time I heard electric flute.

And, of course, Yann Tiersen, here Sur le Fil and La Traversee

new year's photo: Felix Fernandez-Penny

Friday, January 1, 2010

new baby

it's a new year,
depending on which calendar ticks
your linear time.

With a focused mass attention on quarkisizing a year of 2010
I'll play

toasting you


play more
laugh more
love more
risk more
perfume more
create more
share more

feed the baby new year well!

Watercolor: Green Beauty Lura Astor