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Black Velvet
December 16, 2012 – 3:09 pm | 17 Comments

Childhood memories are vivid, almost indescribable in their detail, and impossible to forget. A Christmas memory I have is that of a black velvet dress  a family friend gave to me for my seventh Christmas.
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Soap and Memory

Submitted by on November 11, 2009 – 4:17 pmNo Comment

There’s a little island in Galicia, off the coast of Spain called La Toja. (Lah Toh-HAH) I have never been. But I know it is there. And I dream about it.

One of the items on my Bucket List involves visiting the legendary health spas in this beautiful spot (I’ve seen photos).  The actual line item on my list begins like this: “When I am wealthy….” but that’s not important right now.

My fascination with this spot began years ago when, as a kid in Cuba, I found a bar of Magno soap in our bathroom.

Ah, the fragrance. It is the smell of my Cuban youth. Of abuela. Of opulence. Of pampering. Of abundance.

Magno, for the uninformed in matters of Spanish bathing, is an amazing black soap that makes the most incredible white, frothy, it-could-be-whipped-cream lather. And that fragrance! It has an intoxicating woodsy smell like nothing else I’ve ever known.


It’s hard to come by Magno. They don’t sell it at any of our local stores, although a few years ago there was a snooty, way-out-of-my-price-range bed and bath shop in Newport Beach that carried Magno. I made the pilgrimage to this shop about once a month to stock up and to buy bars for each of my sisters.

And now, they make a surely-I-have-died-and-gone-to-heaven Magno Bath Gel.

I go out of my way to get Magno for my dearest friends and of course, my family. One drop is all it takes to make that are-you-kidding-me-with-this foamy white lather and to perfume the bathrooms in the house in the most delicious way.

“You found Magno?!” They cry with excitement and delight. (Seriously, it’s almost a religious experience for us.)

So, back to La Toja and My Bucket List…

I continue to dream of that far away day when we can get to that tiny island and its health spas and amazing lathering black soap with the incredible, inimitable fragrance.

Until that day, I have to console myself with the internets and the beauty that is Online Shopping and just step into my shower and close my eyes.

I’m back in Cuba when she was still the Pearl of the Antilles. When crisp linens and laden tables were the norm. When my family was very extended. When there was abundance and wealth and all those other lovely perks of capitalism. ;-)

Magno and islands. It all works out in my head.

Is there a fragrance in your memory that makes you remember and dream? Tell me.

Share, por favor!

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