Incense, Introversion, and Pesto.

A bright calendula flower on a rainy morning.

I’m sitting here with my beeswax candle lit, and a cup of rosehip tea bedside me. There’s incense, (ayurvedic rose) burning on the t’other side of the room, snaking its heart-magic upwards, towards the rafters.

Incense is such a crucial part of my daily ritual, that on the rare occasions I run out of it, I feel decidedly off-kilter. However, I’m very fussy about my incense, and it has to be high quality, and made from natural oils and resins. If this sounds a bit precious, or princess-and-the-pea-ish, it’s because the cheapo stuff can actually be trés dodgy.

In fact, the incense that smells strong and sort of like cheap and nasty perfume, (personally, it gives me a headache and makes me nauseous) is usually made from loads of artificial fragrances and chemicals. When burned it may produce one of the most volatile and dangerous chemical compounds in nature: the benzene ring. Highly carcinogenic, and best avoided.

There we go. Queen of trivia, me. I remember learning that alarming factoid in one of my biochemistry classes a few years back. In that same class, I also learned that boy-goat pheromones share the same molecular structure as smelly socks. The lady-goats can’t resist, apparently.

Anyway. Incense. My favourites are rose, nag champa, frankincense, copal, and kyphi. Although good kyphi, (I like to burn this as a mix on charcoal discs, rather than as stick incense) is quite tricky to find.


It’s been sublimely and unseasonably chilly here of late, and although the weekend promises to be hot, (possibly Summer’s last gasp), the past couple of days have involved rain and mist, and long walks therein; and the nights hotwater bottles, and blankets. Everything is lush, and the bright green of my garden has become a dandelion and clover meadow, a swathe of sunny yellow and amythest.

I wanted to mention something that I’ve struggled with. I am not an Initiator of Things. This includes all manner of things, but particularly initiating friendships. I can like someone for ages, but can be quite hopeless about calling or emailing, or proposing a cup of tea. I always think I’m going to be intrusive, that I’m overstepping, or that I’m imposing upon others; that they wouldn’t want such a thing.

And this is possibly true, because I am an intense person, and the few people that I give my heart to can possibly feel a bit swamped by me. So I hold back, for the most part. This can be frustrating, and is indeed a fault, because years can go by and I’ll be quite passive and silent. No doubt my behaviour gives others the idea, despite my generally friendly demeanour, that I’m indifferent. Which is sadly ironic considering how much I love people.

Also when I’m thinking about something, or listening closely to someone,  I (apparently) appear harsh and judgemental. But it’s just my thinking face. Particularly if there is problem-solving involved. I’m thinking about the Thing, the idea, the problem, not judging the person. Misunderstandings arise of course, which can leave me quite baffled and sorrowful. Someone told me that this is classic INFJ behaviour. I squinted moste sceptically at them. This no doubt looked judgemental.


In other not-news, between working, I’ve been whizzing up basil and almond pesto, using the last of the basil from the garden. I’d hoped to freeze some for the cooler months, but that’s proved to be a ludicrious notion, as it’s snaffled far too quickly to be squirrelled away.

I did have a batch of pesto that was about to make it to the freezer, but when my back was (briefly) turned, Merlin jumped up on the kitchen counter, and licked it. After scolding him fiercely, he sat and looked at me, licking his chops voluptuously, and without a trace of contrition. That creature was born under a moste wycked moon.

I’ve also been baking banana bread (with dark chocolate and maple syrup) using terribly ancient bananas. Said bananas were sitting reproachfully in my fruit bowl, looking more bitter, twisted, and gothic by the day. So I feel quite smug about my transforming them into a happy, healthy (well, sort of) cake. Feeding a teenager requires all manner of alchemical trickery. And also miracles with loaves and fishes. Not that I can remember much about that one, and I’m in danger of mixing my metaphors, so I won’t go there.

There’s also been some mending and re-purposing of old clothes. I had a stab at turning some rather unfortunate op-shopped $1 pants that I picked up for the Moon-girl a year ago, into some rather pretty shorts. A ridiculously simple project, so altogether satisfying. The fabric is rayon, so they drape beautifully, and most importantly, the Moon likes them, and wore them straight away.

I’ve been in part inspired by Dawn O’Porter’s tv series This Old Thing, in which O’Porter explores the history of vintage clothing, and subjects hapless victims subjects who are, (for the most part), averse to the notion of second-hand clothes, to trying on vintage outfits. I actually think Dawn O’Porter is lovely and engaging, and she has an infectious joy and passion for vintage clothing, fashion history, and feminism. Also, she looks spookily like my mum, when she was young.


And what else? Oh, a couple of things…

Books: I’m reading a book at the moment that I’m just not sure whether I’m going to finish, (The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic). I’m trying to give it a chance, but…I may defect to The Marriage of Opposites, by Alice Hoffman. Because I loved her book The Dovekeepers. To be honest, her earlier and possibly most famous book, Practical Magic did nothing for me. I do however, adore the kitchen and the conservatory in the film of the same name, (does anyone else watch that film just to look at that house?)

Also, in my last Friday linkies post, I mentioned that I’m doing Lisa’s HeartFull Living course, which started a few days ago. I’m so happy to be a part of this. It’s exceedingly well-timed, and I feel as though it came at the perfect time for me. I’ve been struggling lately with my energy levels, and with being able to connect with joy*, (which is something of a focus for me this year). As soon as I landed in HeartFull I felt welcome, and at home. This is not always the case, by any means. But Lis holds space and creates sanctuary with such genuine warmth and wisdom, and without a hint of any zeitgist pretentiousness. And it’s been such a delightful surprise to encounter lovely friends there. The whole experience is drawing me in to small, mindful acts of love towards myself and others.


Well, that’s more than enough for now. I won’t be doing my Friday linkies tomorrow, because the next few days are choc-full, with all manner of things. Ta-ta for now, and I hope you’re having an excellent week. xx


*I’m realising that I have a somewhat Presbyterian relationship to joy. I’m really not sure what to do with joy. I tend to find happiness and solace in work and being of service. I told you it was Presbyterian. But that’s a whole other conversation.

10 thoughts on “Incense, Introversion, and Pesto.

  1. that calendula flower is its own little sun, so it is. it really couldn’t be anything but healing, could it? it positively radiates goodness.

    i so understand the reticence thing…the not wanting to intrude. that phrase gets regular use in my mind. i also get the crossed wires with the thinking face and the displeased face thing…my most prominent wrinkles are those vertical lines by my brows, the result NOT of anger, but of a lifetime of pondering things intently. resting bitch face is alive and well and lives on my visage most deceitfully.

    i think there’s a special sort of satisfaction in turning something that would have been useless into something useful and even delightful…manky bananas into tea loaves. unfortunate clothing into something wearable, or a lovely patchwork lap rug. it’s magical, really. and respectful of the gifts of the earth too. the choice of vintage clothing brings a similar pleasure—the joy that comes from not wasting resources or worrying about corrupt market practices AND getting to wear beautiful, better-made things. i did a year in which i bought only vintage or thrifted clothes (exceptions made for some shoes and some lingerie), and at the end of the year i was so happy with my purchases that i’ve not returned to buying much newly manufactured clothing. if i see a special thing that makes my heart sing, that i know i will cherish long time, i’ll get it. but more often, the special things tend to be vintage anyway.

    i suspect that you are quite fine with joy. the presbyterian bit probably comes in as a tendency to put off joy until the “work” is done, to defer sensual and emotional delight until all service and duty has been fulfilled first. in natures that also truly embrace being of service to others, that find being helpful genuinely rewarding and more compelling than money or fame, the presbyterian slant on top of this will ensure that we don’t get to self-indulgence (joy) until everything else is done. and everything else is NEVER done! that nasty protestant work ethic exists quite strongly in my family too, and they are atheists…it’s a poisonous little trickle from generations trained to view pleasure with suspicion, or at the very least, to view it as unimportant. it has tainted lives in so many ways. i’m going with walt whitman on this one, and celebrating the self, inviting the soul to speak and be at its ease, and in doing so recognizing our kinship with all that lives, and remembering that our native tongue is joy:

    ” I Celebrate myself, and sing myself,
    And what I assume you shall assume,
    For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

    I loafe and invite my soul,
    I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.”

    or in my case, at the moment, a hyacinth poking through residual snow…

    a good weekend to you!


    1. haha – the lines between the eyebrows – “scholar’s lines”, (as I like to refer to them!) They come fromt years of thinking, reading, and intellectual pursuits. Along with laugh lines, to me they indicate a life well spent : ) And yes, resting bitch face can be moste deceitful. When I consider how completely ok I am with many things that shock or offend others, I find my face quite ludicrously lets me down, at times.

      There is great satisfaction in transforming, or reinventing the old. I hadn’t done it for a while – I’m attempting t resurrect old pastimes that gave me pleasure.

      And when I’m not railing against it, I do find it fascinating how the ethos of generations that came far before me, can seep through into my own existence and value system. Because I do come from heathens and rebels who bucked old systems way back. And I love the Walt Whitman – thankyou for that beautiful reminder : ) xx


  2. “…have a somewhat Presbyterian relationship to joy.”

    -sigh- Seems we never can fully escape, the lingering tentacles, of what we were raised in… With me it’s a Roman Catholic upbringing… -sigh-

    And damn it!!!


    1. It’s funny how strong those tentacles are, hey Tessa? I wasn’t even raised in any religion, but my forebears left an iron trace behind them, and it shows through in their descendants’ stoicism. And the fact that most of us prefer a cup of tea and a book before bed, and are mostly bored out of our minds with bacchanalian excess. Which to me has always felt kind of unimaginative. But that’s a whole other tale. xx


  3. Oh I can sympathize with this – I am just the same and I get so frustrated with myself and make a big deal of things which really are very simple in reality. Just being myself and not overthinking things is hard for me to do.
    Enjoy your weekend and summer’s last gasp.


  4. “I always think I’m going to be intrusive, that I’m overstepping, or that I’m imposing upon others; that they wouldn’t want such a thing.” Yes to this. I can relate on so many levels and on so many different occasions. This is something I’ve wanted to write about on my own blog. It is so hard to keep up with everyone. And that is a good tip on the incense. I’ll remember to buy mine more consciously and organically. I really enjoy your journal writing here. I don’t always have time to reply but I always read. Sometimes I have to save them up in batches.


    1. Finally, I managed to get in here and respond to your comment : ) It is hard to keep up with everyone, I agree. Sometimes I get a bit overwhelmed by it all, because there are so many people I want to visit, as well as get to know. I often have to save in batches now, particularly since my workload has increased of late. Lovely to chat to you here, and I’m planning on paying you a visit also : ) xx


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s