Saturday, April 30, 2022

Wine by Eden Monroe



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Wine is often referred to as the elixir of the gods, and indeed the making of it is one of the oldest practices of man. Viticulture dates back to Neolithic times, about 8,000 years ago, and Georgia in the ancient world is usually considered the “cradle of wine”. For a frame of reference, wine was being made thousands of years before beer according to, or indeed the invention of the wheel.

And since wine flows through a good part of Dangerous Getaway, although not in the way you might imagine, a few more wine tidbits might be in order.

It’s believed Roman winemakers were the first to store their product in glass bottles, the oldest bottle of wine unearthed so far dating back to 325 AD. It was also interesting to learn that instead of corks, the Romans poured a thin layer of olive oil on top of the wine after bottling, to preserve the contents within.

It also seems that winemakers in every part of the world are only limited by their imagination, with excellence being the universal standard. That’s likely why wine tasting is so popular, and while I am not in any sense of the word a connoisseur … of anything … it was fun to see what’s out there for those who might be looking for a bit of an unusual sip. I found a few, and here are some of the most unique offerings:

First up is lizard wine, a potent drink produced in China. The gecko has been the traditional choice of small carnivorous lizard to marinate in rice wine or whiskey for the better part of a year, before this delicacy is ready for the table. Another daring choice might be wine that’s made using snakes. Vietnamese snake wine is created by steeping a snake (preferably venomous) in rice wine, but if that isn’t tempting enough, why not consider snake bile wine? This is probably not for the faint of heart, and amateur winemakers should be aware that for the main ingredient, other than rice wine, you’ll have to extract the bile from a filleted cobra’s gallbladder. Presentation is key too, and like lizard wine, snake wine also has the reptile still inside the bottle.

For those who pale at the thought of reptilian wine, I found something I’m guessing might be substantially more inviting: wine made from chocolate and oranges. There’s also pumpkin wine for those who enjoy adding a little spice to their life, and how could you go wrong with wine made from handpicked rose petals? For tree lovers, how about a sparkling wine made from the sap of the silver birch tree?

Ahhh, the beautiful birch tree…. That’s the perfect segue to Dangerous Getaway and the intrigue of Birch Shadow where, shall I say, wine is a polite enticement … well, sort of, along with the inevitable wine cellar, because a large part of the wine experience, is storing it. And really, it’s all about scale, a wine cellar being functional for most, and a personal luxury for others.

Wine cellars date back to antiquity, in fact the largest, oldest wine cellar found thus far in the Near East, was unearthed during excavation by archeologists of a 3700-year-old Canaanite palace in northern Israel. The wines in that cellar, both white and red, were stored in fifty-litre clay jars. Of course the fermented drink had long ago evaporated from those ancient vessels, but the residue still clinging to the pottery suggested ingredients such as honey, mint, cinnamon bark and juniper berries. There was also evidence of tartaric acid and syringic acid, indicating it was indeed wine “consciously crafted and brewed according to a sophisticated recipe.”

Just like the drink itself, wine cellars can be a tribute to creativity. I did some digging to find the most noteworthy. The first is Castello di Amorosa: Napa Valley Castle Winery in Calistoga, California. It’s a 121,000 square foot winery housed in a 13th century medieval Tuscan-style castle. Ninety-five of the hundred and seven rooms are used for winemaking, and there’s one heck of a wine cellar. A VIP tour experience, which offers a private chef, a photographer, a barrel of Cabernet Sauvignon, transportation by limo and a key to the castle, is available for the price of  $20,000 per couple.

And did you know there are wine cellars under the Brooklyn Bridge? The next time you cross over to the Manhattan side, think of fine wines resting in the cool dark caverns beneath the 60,000-ton granite entrances. Established in 1876 (seven years before the official opening of the bridge to vehicle traffic), the Manhattan cellars have been storing wine ever since, except during prohibition of course.

And how about the largest wine cellar in the world? The Milestii Mici located in Maldova in Eastern Europe (between Romania and Ukraine) held that honour in the 2005 Guinness Book of World Records with 2,000,000 bottles in storage. But you’ll need your car to view the thirty-four miles of underground galleries, complete with streets named for each wine.

I even came across a few haunted wine cellars, and those on record for having resident spirits are all located in the United States. For instance at the Mansfield Winery in California’s Napa Valley, “several odd and frightening events” have been recorded.

There are no ghosts in Dangerous Getaway, friendly or otherwise, but let me ask you this, would you want to be in an old wine cellar, in the dark … alone?



Sources:;;;; and




Friday, April 29, 2022

Love, Madness & Mozart


That persistent character who keeps coming back; I think most writers have a few of them. Sometimes they inhabit a book that can’t, or won't, ever be satisfactorily finished. These conundrums are in every writer’s desk drawer and on every hard drive. 

My particular dark horse always returns around her birthday, at the end of April. She’s here, hanging around, just behind the curtains, even during day-light. I’m once again re-re-imagining scenes I’ve already visited many, many times. I’ve journeyed to her world for forty years now.

My Mozart is the first book I ever completed. A satisfactory ending, I think, still eludes me. Like Konstanze of Mozart’s Wife, this young heroine insists on speaking in the first person, which both narrows and deepens her POV. It’s like writing while pinned inside her dress. 

I’ve heard authors talk about having a “channeling” experience with their characters. There are many accounts of automatic writing and spirit dictation, some sounding as if they should be taken with salt. At least that's what my day-light self thinks. However, after the experience of writing this initial, and, perhaps never-to-be-finished story, I believe other-worldly communications can happen. Ordinarily it takes a period of concentration and study to make your characters  ("the dolls") get up and move independently, but in the case of a channeled story, they arrive fully realized, walking and talking.

So here's what I've learned, forty years after my attempt to tell this ghostly story. For a while, at least, after Mozart's death, Miss Gottlieb coped with her tragedies, until, in a final cruel blow, she lost her voice. After that, she appears to have lived on, among of the walking wounded, enduring a life of poverty until her death. Such was the fate of the first Pamina, pure heroine of The Magic Flute.

I'm glad I hadn't known her true ending before I wrote the one for this story. I was willing to follow the fantasy of a limited kind of HEA , not only for my sake, but also, the rational self argued, for marketing reasons.  Any darker ending was too painful--for me, for prospective readers--and, no doubt, for my spirit informant herself.

Wild Tulips 

So now it’s tulip-time April, and Green May is on Her way again. Tomorrow is Miss Gottlieb’s birthday, and once more I have glimpses of her spring-time, numinous world, animated by youth, love, and music. It makes sense that the “old” holidays too are upon us, Saint Brigitte’s Day, May Morn, Saint Walpurga’s night, Beltane, and all the other Divine Feminine Maidens who rule the second Cross-Quarter Day of the year.
My Mozart is “romance” in the original sense of the word, in the much the same way Romeo & Juliet  may be called "romance." Not romance in the commercial sense, but the old-fashioned bloody insanity of love, the madness which can, so easily, end in tragedy. The true domain of "Romance" is Castle Perilous, which makes drawing a final line under a tale of a hopeless passion so very hard to do. 

~~Juliet Waldron

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Thursday, April 28, 2022

Vintage Perfumes: The Fragrances that Defined Each Decade by Connie Vines #Vintage Perfuming,

 Vintage Perfumes

Nothing can transport you back in time like a fragrance. They say that your sense of smell is the most powerful and evocative sense, and it’s true: Emeraude reminds me of my mother, Quorum, my husband, and Halston Z-14 reminded me of my teens and guys who bathed in a cologne—rather than indulging in a spritz or two.

“A woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future.” Coco Chanel.

This may have been a dramatic overstatement.  However, when I was in the business of selling perfume, quotes such as these, gave women confidence when she entered a room! And Chanel No. 5 is one of the most popular fragrances of all time. A bottle of it is sold every 30 seconds (including me).

Coco Chanel also stated that women should wear perfume wherever they hoped to be kissed. Wise words indeed – please note that this does not mean ‘layered’ in perfume, as perfume counter girls armed with spray bottles will advise you.  No one should be able to smell your perfume unless they’re that little bit closer than is polite; then, it should be something delicious and intoxicating.

While researching which perfumes were favored over the decades, I was surprised how many of these I’ve actually owned. Over the years, I’ve tried Anais Anais, Shalimar, Opium, Poison, Red, and Patou 1000 before I finally settled on Chanel No. 5. Of course, I selected one of the most expensive perfumes on the market, but I guess there is a good reason why it’s been a bestseller since it was launched in 1921!

Vintage Perfumes: The Fragrances that Defined Each Decade

It’s surprising how many of these perfumes are still best sellers even now, but then why would they go out of fashion?

Popular Perfumes in the 1940s.

L'Air du Temps by Nina Ricci (in a pretty glass bottle with a bottle stopper fashioned as two doves).

After the war, lighter and fresher perfumes became more popular, one of which was the still-popular Miss Dior by Christian Dior in 1947

Popular Perfumes in the 1950s.

Femme de Rochas was a rich, sultry perfume aimed at the femme fatale created in 1944.

Arpege by Lanvin is a romantic floral perfume created in 1927 but became particularly popular during the 1950s.

Max Factor’s Hypnotique and Primitif (as advertised by Jean Patchett above) were popular and affordable perfumes for the masses compared to the fragrances by the big fashion houses.

Soir de Paris by Bourjois was a popular fragrance amongst teenagers during the 1950s. It was discontinued in 1969 but relaunched in 1992

Popular Perfumes in the 1960s.

YSL Rive Gauche was a popular 1960s scent.

Hubert de Givenchy created L’Interdit for Audrey Hepburn, and she wore the perfume for many years before it was released to the public in 1957. She featured in the adverts for L’Interdit throughout the 1960s.

Tuvache’s Oh! de London is a bright, sparkling scent that perfectly captured the mood of the swinging sixties.

Guerlain introduced the heady oriental scent Chamade in 1969.

Popular Perfumes in the 1970s.

Charlie by Revlon and Diorella by Christian Dior, a perfume for the independent woman who has everything, were both very popular (both contain citrus and musky notes).

Opium by Yves Saint Laurent was launched in 1977 and was a heady, rich oriental evening perfume.  (I also wear the recent release: Black Opium for evening events.)

Anais Anais by Cacharel was launched in 1978 and was an immediate hit (my brother gave this to me as a Christmas Gift).

Did I list one of your favorite perfumes?

Or, did I mention a perhaps a fragrance you’ve never dared to try?

Perfuming is an art.  

Indulge your senses, enjoy the fragrance—it’s mystical; it’s magical, it is the new you!    

Why does Connie know so much about perfume and the art of perfuming?

Flash Back Moment: 
While attending college, I was employed as a fragrance consultant at an ‘exclusive’ Perfumery.  I was trained by the House of Versailles (at the Hotel Del Coronado). 

Condensed Version: I was trained to select a client’s fragrance by her/his pH level and fragrance family preferences. 

You will discover more about the art of perfumery in my current release, An anthology titled: "Gumbo Ya Ya" for Women who like Cajun Romance.
Happy Reading! 


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