Badass of the Week: Doc Maynard

Warning: I'm going to use the word "badass" like 50 times because there is no other word to describe the awesome that is Doc Maynard. I'm supposed to do a tutorial today, but, well, I'm just so excited to introduce my men's colognes that I couldn't wait to share a little history lesson behind the inspiration for my first cologne.

I first heard about Doc Maynard when I read Boneshaker by Cherie Priest. Seriously, if you like steampunk, alternative history, zombies and badass female heroines, you need to get on that stat. At that point, I didn't live in Seattle, I was still in either Los Angeles or San Francisco I don't even remember, so frankly nothing outside of that had entered my mind and I just thought he was some made up character. NOT SO!

After I moved here, I got really interested in local history because there's a ton of it and, well, BONESHAKER!! I went on the Underground Walking Tour (yes! you can go underground to old Seattle that burned down) and that was basically a love song to Doc Maynard. So who was this mysterious man with the name straight out of Tombstone or something?

Doc Maynard was a frontier doctor and friend to the Native Americans, famous for becoming one of the founding fathers of Seattle. After losing his fortune in Cleveland, he bade farewell to his family promising to send for them as he made his way to California seeking a new life. He totally didn't send for them though because he found out his wife cheated on him... but he didn't want to totally screw her over so he stayed with her for a time (nice guy!). On the trail to Oregon he used his medical knowledge to help fight cholera which proved fortuitous as he met the love of his life, the widow of the wagon train leader, Catherine Broshears. He accompanied her to Puget Sound where he got involved in logging and swindled San Francisco for 10 times what he paid amassing a small fortune. But it was city building that interested Doc Maynard saying that he wasn't interested in wealth, just building the greatest city on earth. He opened a store, became Justice of the Peace, befriended local Native Americans, helped start brothels (he felt vice was necessary on the frontier) and even petitioned for a separate Washington Territory. It was at his urging that Seattle was named for Chief Seattle, leader of the local tribe and his bestie. At that time, Seattle was an upstart little village that made its fortune first with logging and then ultimately being the last stop for supplies on the Alaska Gold Rush Trail. Jesus, this dude was awesome, I need to visit his grave. Writing this I was getting jealous of such cool state history but then I remembered I'm from New York.

photo (19)
photo (19)

Aaaannnyway, I make my fragrances with historical and literary figures in mind and when I decided that I wanted to venture into colognes... Doc Maynard was the first person I thought of (actually second behind King Henry VIII but I haven't perfected that yet). This cologne is a tribute to Seattle's original badass and brings to mind sasparilla and old saloons. The sassafras lends a root beer scent while the underlying juniper berry (used to flavor gin) smells fresh and clean. Layers of moss, sandalwood and tobacco round out this cologne.

I LOVE HISTORY!!

Tart of the Week: The Duchess Georgiana Cavendish

For fans of Georgiana, the title of this post is written in jest, you'll find out why below. For those of you who don't know who Georgiana is, or if you just don't like Keira Knightley which seems to me the only reason why you would not have heard of the Duchess, it's story time. Georgiana Spencer (Princess Diana’s great-great-grandaunt) was delighted to find out that she had caught the eye of the influential (and rich!) Duke of Devonshire. Always the aristocrat, Georgiana supported her husband’s political affiliations with friendliness and charm – becoming at one point one of the chief fashionistas in England. She was even pen-pal to Marie Antoinette. However, difficulty in producing an heir led her husband to grow distant and he began a not-so secret affair with Georgiana’s friend Lady Elizabeth Foster. The trio lived as a ménage-a-trois (not by Georgiana’s choice) for the rest of her life.

Despite her marital unhappiness, Georgiana found solace in the arms of Charles Grey who later became Prime Minister. They had an illegitimate daughter whom Georgiana was forced to give up. Charles Grey is the namesake of the ever popular Earl Grey Tea. She died at the age of 48 most likely due to alcoholism.

One day whilst searching for information on historical figures, like I do, I found a website written as a gossip blog in Georgiana's "voice." It's called The Duchess of Devonshire's Gossip Guide to the 18th Century, and while it's a cheeky Georgian version of TMZ, it's clear that the author's focus is history because there's tons of interesting stuff I didn't know. They even have a Tart of the Week section!! Anytime someone uses the word "tart" as an insult I feel warm and fuzzy inside. I wish all people would talk like that, I'd be less weird. There's also a companion site for Marie Antoinette but we'll talk about that tart later. While the discovery of these sites validated the fact that there are other people out there like me, I was kind of jealous I hadn't thought of it first.

Anyway, the point. So, as you know I make perfumes. I read a lot of historical fiction, and biographies for that matter, and thought it would be cool to make perfumes inspired by what I think historical figures might have worn based on their personalities. I love grandeur and tragedy because I'm crazy.

Georgiana was one of the first I made. This perfume is dedicated to the star-crossed lovers by a mix of Black Tea and Bergamot (ingredients of Earl Grey Tea) as well as the delicate florals of Jasmine and Lavender. I giggled like an absolute school girl when I realized that not only had I made a pleasant perfume, but I'd made one that smelled like Earl Grey tea. Because Georgiana and Lord Grey were lovers. SEE WHAT I DID THERE?!?!?! As of last night I only have one more bottle left of Georgiana. But don't worry, I'm going to make more. It just takes about a month for it to be pretty and I wasn't expecting it to be popular so let's chalk it up to poor planning on my part and call it a day.

If you are intrigued by Georgiana's story, you should read Amanda Foreman's biography which the 2008 movie The Duchess, starring Keira Knightley, is based on. The original title of the book was Georgiana, The Duchess of Devonshire, but since the movie came out you might only find it as The Duchess.

In Which I Rationalize This Blog's Existence

Hi! Howdy! Bonjour! Hola!

I suppose I should introduce myself. My name is JT (not of any relation to Justin Timberlake) and I have what one might call an "interesting" resume. Right out of school I worked at a tech PR firm even though I barely know how to use Photoshop. Then I worked as a content writer for a psychic hotline's blog. Are you psychic? You're probably asking. Nope, I'm not. Sorry. After a while, I left my psychic friends and became a high school English teacher in schools they label "at risk." That was fun, but too stressful for someone with a Victorian disposition such as myself.

Whilst writing a steampunk adventure during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month - I told you I'm kind of random) I started thinking about history and literature, and how much I love the two. I'm basically Owen Wilson in Midnight in Paris, but I don't limit myself to just the 1920s. I love grandeur and people who are tragically flawed. Alison Weir books are crack to me.

I thought about how fun it was to make and create. I thought about all the palaces in Europe I've been to (a lot). Then one day, I saw a tutorial on how to make solid perfume. I've always loved perfume. It's the one luxury item that I will gladly spend obscene amounts of money on. I decided to make a batch of solid perfume and put it in a locket as a gift for my friend's birthday. That was supposed to be the end of it... but all of those random interests started swirling around in my head.

So I started an Etsy shop called  Sweet Tea Apothecary. I don't actually like Sweet Tea, I think its disgusting to be honest (unless it has vodka and then it's ok). But I am a tea fiend (another interest!) and wanted to have a feminine, flowery name, so there you go. With Sweet Tea Apothecary, I think about the legends of history and literature and craft a perfume or cologne that I think they'd enjoy. It gives me the opportunity to make, read, and then write about the concoctions and the people involved.

I am random. I love that about myself. I'd have it no other way.