Monday, January 31, 2011

Cups of Stinging Scent

The first time I smelled these beauties, my sister had returned from California with some buds.

They were so strange, mysterious, stinging musky, captivating and odd. 

Years later, I end up in the land where they grow, some with lemony scented leaves, some with stinging medicinal odor. I love, love, love them.

Eucalyptus flowers, with hard, protective, cup-like structures
Greek roots

eu = well
calyptos = covered

In 1770, eucalyptus specimens made their way to Europe from Australia. Captain James Cook's explorations of the Australian coast allowed botanists to collect and catalogue several different species, bringing them to London. Over 700 species.


photos: lastor

Monday, January 24, 2011

the wavelength spectrum of 380 nm to 740 nm/nanometers gives me such pleasure

I met Darius Monsef IV, founder of, some years back in Portland, Oregon.

 Life and color are completely different experiences for everybody, he says in his recent interview in San Francisco Magazine here acknowledging that people see differently.
I know that people also smell, perceive smell, differently. For a bunch of us, color is right in there in the mix, what I call olfactory synasthetes.

Darius also said, Mark Zuckerberg told me he’s color-blind, and that’s why Facebook’s header is blue. It’s the easiest color for the color-blind to see.

As kids, my sister, brother and I were upset to hear that our dog only saw in black and white. Dad reassured us by saying, it's like he's watching black and white television, which is what we had - I'd watch TV at the neighbors to see the Emerald City in color after a black and white journey to the Land of Oz.

In my research on synasthesia among perfume people, a wide range of differences emerges. Though I smell in color, texture, shape, energy, etc., I don't see letters in color. It is similar among healing work practitioners - the wide range of how we smell, feel textures, see light patterns, and more.

Experiencing color is a great pleasure in my life, whether I see it, smell it, taste it, hear it.

photo: Wedding Cake of Darius & Kaili

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Do Plants Smell?

the same verb coming and going ... smell

to smell it, a something
to be smelled

The ability to smell their surroundings is vital for all plants.

It is now known that plants have, in different forms, the same innate abilities as those with which animals and humans make sense of their environment.

Plants see, smell, taste, feel and even listen to their surroundings.

Read about it in this article link here

Shout out to Deb I for turning me on to this

photo: a rose is a nose is a rose lastor

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Florida Water

Lanman and Kemp's Florida Water reminds me of my now passed older brother who brought it back after a trip to Cuba right before it closed to American citizens in the 1960's.

Cracking open the foil seal

his musk, tan skin that he liked to peel off as a sheet of map with his crooked smile and fisherman muscles

cinnamon, joyous neroli, sun-bleached hair lemon

bergamot, settling clove, sensitive heart whom I adore

lavender that I grew well with inherited green-thumb 

rose - family pets were buried under their bushes

jasmine – an eternal favorite shared in tea

All in a bottle ! Instant! Sniff ! 

John Elliott Hirsch 03/16/1944 – 01/20/2003

illustration/photo: lastor

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Monday, January 17, 2011

Heart and Nose

A nose is like antiquity,
the nose was the man
who made and created aromas,
through smoke.
He was the shaman, the alchemist.

Today’s nose is a technician with a wide range of technology at his disposal for the task, making it easier but he must remember
that he has to use his shaman side as well,
meaning he should
use his heart
otherwise his nose won’t work.
- Ing. Eugenio Alphandery

Direttore Generale e Contitolare
Officina Profumo e Farmeceutica Santa Maria Novella
at Esxence: The Scent of Excellence
The Art Perfumery’s event
Milan, Italy

link here (scroll down to view video)

Illustration: Bast Bottle Lura Astor

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Hero Sniffer Rats

A man who teaches rats to sniff out land mines & tuberculosis - from Bart Weetjens:

Rats have more genetic material allocated to olfaction than any other mammal species. They are extremely sensitive to smell. Moreover, they have the mechanisms to map all these smells and to communicate about it.

Last year about 6,000 recorded people walked on live landmines .... worldwide almost 1.9 million died from tuberculosis as a first cause of infection.

TB can be diagnosed based by the volatiles exuding from patients.

The rats only need 200th of a second to discriminate the scents. (LA note: I want a Reality TV show - professional noses, rats, dogs, on your mark, get set, go!)

A microscopist can process 40 samples in a day, a rat can process the same amount of samples in 7 minutes only.*

Can you imagine the potential offspring applications, environmental detection of pollutants in soils, customs applications.... and so on.

- Bart Weetjens

(*Lurana says: I'm not for unemployment, I am for people being employed in more meaningful work. Let the rats do this sniffer work.)


Like any hero, simple - give it a food reward. Gentle.

more here at TED Series


Hero Rats Headquarters link here

APOPO Detection Rats Technology click here
Adopt-a-Rat click here

photos: courtesy of TED and APOPO
A Shout Out to Deb I for sending this info my way

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Sense of Smell is Invisible

What is interesting about the sense of smell is that it is connected to everything else. It is a connecting sense. And in terms of academic research, it's wonderful because it is so interdisciplinary.

-Hans Rindisbacher

Author of The Smell of Books: A Cultural-Historical Study of Olfactory Perception in Literature

Professor of German
Chair, Dept. of German & Russian
Pomona College, Claremont, California

Rindisbacher's current research is in Soviet perfumery from socio-historic perspectives. It includes how the ideal of the feminine changes in controlled political climates, as do relationships to perfumery and cosmetics.

A previous article click here


Art does not reproduce the visible, rather, it makes visible.   - Paul Klee

photos: Lura Astor

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Taste Bud Test

Hey kids, try this at home!

A scent/flavor test
from Givaudan

click here

photo: Taste Buds: Filip em/Neuroscience

Partial Solar E-Calypso Happy New Year EYeah

Heal thyself smellers ... Dance of the Nose ... listen

Zebulon par Laurent Assoulen

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Click here for the online tour
The German Pharmacy Museum
located in Heidelberg Castle

Deutsches Apotheken Museum

29-30 November 2010
Perfumery and Ritual

The Use of Incense, Flowers, Distillates,
and Aromatic Objects in Asia
Workshop took place at Universitat Heidelberg.
A few photos by William A. Franklin here

photo: Rane Abhijeet

Center of the Universe

Though I can't put my hands on the research, Rob Brezsny mentions that according to an article in the Max Planck Germany Institute, the Center of the Universe smells like raspberries.
That wasn't in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy!

In Chandler Burr's The Emperor of Scent, Luca Turin's mention of Bois de Lune with its smoky, red berry sillage and souchong notes, set me on a chase.

A sucker for lapsong souchong tea, or the blend of Russian Caravan, its steam instantly transports to the inside ribs of whaling ships, first smelled as a kid at Connecticut's Mystic Seaport - old tar, sturdy, smoked timber.

Serendipity parked me in front of Bois de Lune years later. Driving through crowded, Portland, Oregon rainy downtown streets on the way to an interview. I did not yet know that ...

At the interview the woman said she would never hire me. When pressed, she answered, because you have worked for yourself. And you asked me here, why?
... the reward! Inside the French lingerie boutique I had parked in front of, tucked away on a back, high shelf ...
Bois de Lune by Manuel Canovas. A candle
of red cedar, red berries, rosewood, and smoky, haunting souchong.

Reward and closure to one of the many fragrance hunts that continues to move me around the chessboard of this world.

Perfume can be like forensics ... unraveling the mysteries ...

Raspberry: KoS
Charles W. Morgan Whaling Ship: Mystic Seaport