Saturday, April 30, 2011

Patchouli Problem SOLVED

imageGuardianAngel-mIf you remember a few Blog entries back I had a personal crisis!
A Patchouli Problem
The patchouli oil I had used for years was no longer being sold, and I couldn’t find it anywhere else.
But eureka! A guardian angel was looking out for me. ( It was really my sister in California) She found the particular scent of Patchouli oil there and sent me a bottle by personal courier ( really my mother and father) So it seems my personal crisis appears to be solved!
How do I know it’s the same Stuff?
Well I have a secret weapon. One of the ladies at work has an amazing nose for scents ( I mentioned her in the previous blog) She has indeed confirmed that that it smells the same (see the email below) (Names have been redacted to protect the innocent)
imageI have even found a supplier online in Tucson AZ That sells it in bulk.
Kumba Made Tunisian Patchouli Oil
There is however a dark side to this happy tale off personal redemption ( Hey! take your personal redemption wherever you can get it!)
This particular type of Patchouli Oils is fairly rare. Its called Tunisian or sometimes African Patchouli and it is much more expensive than the run of the mill Patchoulis that are out there.
It also seems that it is often used as an ingredient in Witchcraft! (see the excerpt from the Wiccan and Pagen shop below)
imageSo now we now why this particular brand has served me so well over the years. It has mystical powers of mastery and love!
Beware coming to close to me while wearing my Patchouli oil as it may cast a spell over you!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The First Mini Road Trip (A Big one!)

MapA great two weeks vacation is almost over, and a new MINI Cooper S convertible waits in the driveway... ready to take its first road trip!

We're Off!

Up at 5:00AM a quick breakfast and the final touches on the closing up of my parent's Arizona place for the summer. Shut off the electricity, water and lock up the last door before hitting the road for the 3 day 1840 mile trek to the likely still snow bound north lands of Minnesota.

Cloudy skies and light traffic at that time of the morning, as we whizzed north in the speedy go-cart like little Mini Cooper.


imageThe little Cooper is a fast car. It likes to drive 80 in 6th gear and has no trouble at all keeping up with the bigger cars in the fast lane on the high speed Interstates.

Just outside of Phoenix we saw a funny sign. Winter driving conditions? What the hell? It’s summer. It was 95 yesterday. This must be a test or a mistake! Onward!

About an hour later as we approached 7000 feet in Flagstaff the sign began to make sense.

There was blowing crystals of snow whipping across the road. No worries we just have a few miles before we turn left onto Interstate 40 east and go down hill from Flagstaff, AZ towards Albuquerque, NM where I’m quite certain there is no snow.


Just a couple of more miles before that left turn. Seems like the snow is getting a bit heavier!


Wow! The Mini does quite well in the snow. Who would have thought that! Did you know that Mini Coopers drive pretty well in a blizzard?


At last 4 or 5 miles west of Flagstaff the wind blown snow lets up and there is clear skies!


The front that was causing the blizzard in Flagstaff sure was windy. Looks like its starting to pick up some dust!


First a blizzard, now a full blown sandstorm this was suppose to be a road trip not an adventure trip!


After stopping in Winslow, AZ for fuel and a bathroom break we learned that the roads in and out off Flagstaff had just been closed. Seems like we made it just in the nick of time.

We did see lots of Motor-homes pulled off to the side of the road waiting out the wind. The little Cooper with it low profile wasn’t really affected that much by the wind.

Well things did eventually start to get better as we moved further east towards Albuquerque,NM. The wind did get a little less violent and now with some ground cover in the fields it’s at least not blowing sand anymore.


Santa FeSanta Fe was the stop for the night at The Hampton Inn. We checked in around 4:00 with about 560 miles under our belts and 8 1/2 hours of driving. Looks like we thankfully left the snow and sand storms back in Arizona.

However the little car is a mess and has to be cleaned so it’s off to find a car wash to clean up the Cooper before tomorrow's ride. Then of course a stiff happy hour drink.

About a half hour of milling about asking questions and running up and down side streets produced a good old fashion high pressure wash bay where the Cooper got its first bath.


None the worse for wear from the snow and sand after cleaning it up the Cooper looks good as new again. All shinny and sparkly!



Up and on the road at 6:30 again after a free Hampton Inn breakfast the intrepid road trippers zoom north towards the Raton pass and another 7000 foot high Interstate experience.

Fortunately this time there is no snow, and we have a pleasant drive into Southern Colorado. Heading toward Colorado Springs and our old stomping grounds we can see Pikes Peak in the distance.

Ten years ago our home was in beautiful Colorado Springs for a couple of years!

After not having seen the big mountain for some time I had forgotten how beautiful the mountain was against the blue skies when it was capped with snow.


Just for giggles we went up to see our old house in Colorado Springs. This was the view we looked at all the time from that house. Tell me again why we moved back to Minnesota from here?


The longest and most boring road on the planet is the section of Interstate 76 from Denver to Nebraska. Even this boring road was exciting in the MINI Cooper! We did eventually make it to Nebraska along with a few insect friends on the windshield.


The Hampton Inn in North Platte Nebraska is where we washed the bugs off the front of the little Cooper tonight.


Up again at 6:30 and on towards:


Traveling through downtown Omaha around 11:00 in heavy heavy traffic and whack! The Cooper takes a rock to the windshield


Seems like the first ding on a new car is always the worst.


East across Iowa stopping to pee along a gravel road because Iowa has a road sign every 20 feet, but no wayside rests on their Interstates. North at Des Moines and soon we find ourselves in Minnesota. WOW! No Snow!


Three days of driving the New Mini Cooper. 1846 miles and it found its way to Minneapolis. Stay tuned for more MINI Cooper Convertible "ROAD TRIPS"!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The M…. C…..M…. C…..Road trip

Life with me can be interesting. Sometimes!

So what’s this “The M…. C…..M…. C…..Road trip”

Well it’s really “The Margaret Curry Mini Cooper Road Trip”
It started out as a normal vacation in Arizona. One like we have done many times before. Fly in fly out, two weeks, a little work, lay by the pool, a few hikes, close up the place for the summer… all good.
It was a Tuesday midway through our vacation and we were going to go shopping and look around Scottsdale. Off we went down the 101 to Scottsdale Drive North to go south into Scottsdale.
Oh look a Mini Cooper dealer! (I should tell you we had been looking at Mini Cooper convertibles in Minneapolis,but didn’t find any nice ones. One of Margaret’s dreams is to do a road trip in a Convertible Mini Cooper)
Lets stop and look we have time were on vacation! We walked around the lot and didn’t really see anything interesting and were about to go when a salesman in a golf cart pulled up and said hop on there is a bunch more Minis way out back . I can take you.
He was right way out in the back there must have been a hundred brand new Mini Coopers. We walk down a few rows and look what we found! The most gorgeous black convertible Cooper S you could imagine!
Brown luxury leather interior, Super charged! (that’s what the “S” is for) Sports package.
We talked with the sales guy he made an offer. We told him we could do better in Minneapolis, and asked him if he knew a place for lunch. He recommended a place near by. We left him our phone number and went off to lunch.
Lunch in the garden at "Gordon Birch” in Scottsdale. Great beer, good pizza!
Just as we had gotten into the rental car to move on down the road my phone rang. Our little sales guy had talked to his manager and managed to find another 1000 off the sales price. Imagine that! What do you think Margaret it’s part of your dream?
Short story: That’s me signing papers. All that’s left of Margaret is her hat. She is busy pacing the floor in a cold sweat wondering what she just did!
All shined up and ready to go.
But where to go? This is Arizona? Phone calls,canceled airline tickets, travel vouchers for future trips, refunds for rentals cars, hotel reservations…………… ROAD TRIP!
Back at the Arizona homestead for a few days of cruising with the top down in the Arizona sunshine before taking off. It sure looks good in that car port doesn’t it?
Boy Oh Boy the neighbors are sure talking now! (We told them we sold the park model to pay for it!)
We were going to leave Monday the 11th on an airplane but now we will have to leave a little early for the Margaret Curry Mini Cooper Road trip!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The New (time consuming) Hobby

Yamaha FS720S
It’s certainly been a while since I have written a blog entry. Well there is a reason for that. You see writing in blogs takes a lot of effort and quite a bite of time. It can take several hours to get a blog entry just right and if you have nothing else to do ( a common condition in the middle of a Minnesota winter) then it’s time well spent.
Flash back to late last November just after Thanksgiving:  The snow was already everywhere and you couldn’t even get out of the house to go for a walk. The sidewalks and trails were full of snow and it looked like all winter we were going to be stuck inside pacing the floors. I had to find something to do or I’d go nuts!
Then inspirations struck! I had all this time this winter, I’d learn to play a musical instrument!
So with that thought the next Jimi Hendrix, or Carlos Santana was born.  After a little research I  found myself at the local guitar center looking for a guitar. The research had lead me to believe I should start with a middle of the road acoustics guitar.  It seem that really cheap guitars are harder to play. So after a discussion with the sales folk I left the store with A Yamaha S720 all wood acoustic you see on the right, and all the associated accessories required to be a professional guitarist by late summer. It was a several hundred dollars for the whole arrangement, so I wasn’t out much if  this didn’t work out.
fingersI worked at his pretty hard practicing an hour a day and sometimes on weekends for 5 or 6 hours. As it turns out I had to revise my estimate of being a professional guitarist by late summer. This guitar playing thing is really hard! Pressing on the strings to obtain the right tones on the fret board takes a lot of pressure and reeks havoc on you fingers. So in the beginning its hard to practice for more than a hour or two.
imageAfter two months I had worked my way through the first beginners book on guitar and could peck out Jingle Bells and part of Dueling banjos, but I was having a good time. I was hooked!  I was almost a guitar store groupie.  The Guitar Center where I bough my guitar has a policy that you can return or upgrade your guitar within 2 months of purchase for any reason. Late in January I took them up on the offer of an upgrade and brought home a very nice carbon fiber “RainSong” acoustic electric guitar.
The “RainSong” can plug into an amplifier and is a fine guitar, but upped the ante on the cost of this little hobby of mine. Along the way I have learned a lot about guitars, and music. Guitars are very different and produce a very different sound. Some music works better on one guitar than another. I have a couple of songs I’m working on that sound good on the acoustic guitar, and if I continue to practice hard maybe in a year the songs will sound the way they are suppose to.  Carlos Santana and Jimi Hendrix don’t have to worry for a while.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

A patchouli problem!

PatchouliIf you were alive during the sixties, you most likely know the scent of patchouli, even if you don't know that's what it's called. You probably even have an opinion on it, whether positive or negative. Patchouli was a very popular scent among the counterculture, featured in both perfume oils and incense, often burned to disguise other burning odors.

But did you know patchouli is a plant? The familiar fragrance is derived from a distillation of the leaves of the patchouli plant into an essential oil, which is often used today in modern perfumery. The scent is rich and earthy, combining a floral sweetness - even though it is made from leaves - with a musky scent reminiscent of fresh-turned soil. Some people loathe the scent and say it smells like dirt, while others adore its vivid and powerful fragrance.

patchouli 2 bottleFlash back to 20 years ago: (just like those books that jump around in time)

I was on a business trip to the Boston area and I was looking for a gift for my wife Margaret. Walking down the street I walked into a “Custom Mixed Oils” Perfume shop. It was an interesting place. It smelled so good. Ultimately I walked out of the shop with a couple of bottles of interesting smelling oil for Margaret. One of them was patchouli oil.

As it turned out I liked the patchouli oil so much that I ended up wearing it as a cologne instead of Margaret. On and off I would order Oils by mail from the “Custom Mixed Oils Shop “ in Boston always including patchouli. Over the years I found other sources of patchouli oil here and there. Sometimes it was not as good, sometimes it was better.

imageWhen we came back from Europe in 2001 while I stumbled upon one of the best smelling patchouli oils I have ever run across. Not only did I like it but it seemed that everyone liked it. I would be walking down the street in a strange city and people would stop me and ask me what was I wearing that smelled so good. Standing in the check out lines in grocery store clerks would ask me. Strange looking leather clad men of questionable sexual orientation would ask me. People at work would ask me.Men or women it didn’t seem to make a difference. In fact it seem like a month wouldn’t go by that someone would comment of that wonderful smell!

So where did I find this wonderful variety of patchouli oil  might you ask.  Hang on to your seats because your not going to believe this. I found it at the “Como Zoo” gift shop. Hard to believe I know, but for the last 10 years I would visit the Como Zoo gift shop from time to time to resupply my personal stash of patchouli oil.

One of the ladies at the office where I work asked me one day what that wonderful smell was and where I got it. I told here the Como Zoo”. She didn’t believe me. So I brought here a bottle one day. After that now she sneaks to the Como Zoo to resupply her stash!

smell cartoonThe smell is so noticeable that it has become my signature. If people at work smell patchouli  they assume I’m around somewhere. A while ago Margaret handled the bottle of patchouli oil sitting on the bathroom counter and got some on her hands. She whipped it on her throat and thought nothing more off it. Later at work when she suggested to a co-worker that they could use my office for a meeting because I was not there the coworker replied “ Yes he is! I just smelled him go by!

DSC00390x“Queue the spooky music that portrays impending feelings of Doom”

A few days ago my stash of patchouli oil had run low so it was off to Como Zoo to resupply. To my horror when I got there this time ready to take  home several bottles as I usually do THERE WAS NONE! It was gone. Where’s my patchouli oil! I need my patchouli oil!

I sought out the clerk in charge and asked “What happened to the patchouli oil?” she blithely replied “Oh were not stocking that anymore.” I was devastated! What will I do without my special brand of patchouli oil? Will I still be me if I don’t smell like me?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

40 days and 40 nights and 40 degrees

image30Some time ago, I mean a really long time ago (think Genesis), the big guy upstairs thought the world had become a bad place and he needed to clean it up, so he caused it to rain for 40 days and 40 nights. Now after the wet spell was over and life began anew he promised not to do it again. Well with rain anyway, and clouds are suppose to be a sign of his promise.
imageNow with the world seemingly getting to be a bad place again, has the old boy got something up his sleeve again? Maybe snow this time since he promised not to use rain? The snow in the month of December has indeed been biblical! It even set a new record for snowfall in the month. Do you suppose we should start building an Ark sized snowmobile?

When you get  20 inches of snow at one time and another 4-8 inches every other day after that for a couple of weeks finding places to put the  snow gets to be a problem.
Driving down the street lately is interesting to say the least!
Mostly along the boulevards where the snow plows pushed the snow, the snow is piled higher than you can see over.
If there is a retail parking lot around after they have cleared the lots its really high!
So what’s a person to do? You might as well give up, buy some new snow boots and go out and play in the mountains of white.
This particular pile was from a church parking lot, and those are real 20 or 30 foot tall evergreens.
As you might remember from past adventure blogs we have this thing for climbing to the top high things to look around.
Not a bad view from the top of the icy mountain!
That’s some pile of snow stacked up as high as the tree.
At the base of the piles between trees is a nice spot out of the wind where the local riff raff hangs out.
imageOkay back to the fire and brimstone again. So if you were the big guy and promised not to use rain to destroy the world, wouldn’t it be a pretty slick way around your promise to make it snow for 40 days and 40 nights then after all the snow is there raise the temperature to 40 degrees and melt it all at once! Lots of irony there Huh? Still keep your promise, and flood the world at the same time. 40 days 40 nights 40 degrees! great play on words. In the next version of the bible that would make a great story!
Well on Dec 30th 2010 after 40 days and 40 nights of snow (well it seemed like it!) it hit 43 degrees in Minneapolis. It didn’t quite flood, but it sure knocked down those piles of snow. Now the piles are half as high, but they are solid ice. I think we will still have piles of ice in June! The glaciers are coming!
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