November 17, 2016

(Photo from Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl blog)
(Photo from Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl blog, but this looks like late autumn on our farm.)

Sunshine and short sleeves.


Laundry on the clothesline.

baby-eNew baby nephew!!! Born this morning, good healthy size, baby and mommy doing just fine. Welcome, Baby E.

Doggle being snuggly. (I think he might suspect we’re going away. We’ll probably come home to find all the furniture in shreds.)

Packing for Belize.

Mini Diptyque Le Redouté candle and glorious, joyous Teo Cabanel Alahiiine.
Gentle, gracious words of reconciliation from friends on both sides of this ugly, ugly election.

Feeling grateful.
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No Scent Diary, Oct. 7-13, 2016

No diary this week. Just nope. Come Wednesday night, I couldn’t manage to focus long enough to write about the week.

Though I will tell you that I wore Chanel No. 19 EdP on Election Day. And that I was very proud of Gaze for giving up a free day to go and hang out at the polling place to distribute literature for our Congressman running for reelection. As for the current political situation, I’m not happy.

George is TICKED OFF.George is ticked off.

(I would probably have been about 80% this unhappy had Hillary Clinton been elected. I’m embarrassed by the whole thing. Couldn’t we have managed to find people more qualified to run the country than an egomaniacal, disgusting boor with no experience and a person ambitious enough to use her office to excuse away her extremely poor judgment with regards to the security requirements of her job/borderline-treasonous acts? But enough about the mess here, except to say that if we don’t at least start trying to understand each other’s concerns, we’re gonna make it worse.)

I wore Sonoma Scent Studio Tabac Aurea and Teo Cabanel Early Roses and Le Galion La Rose (yeah yeah I promise I’ll get around to reviewing that one soon), as well as Frederic Malle Iris Poudre – a no-brainer comfort scent for me – and a dab of FM Musc Ravageur. I wanted the cinnamony goodness of Organza Indecence at some point, but it seems to be still packed away in the bedside chest, so I didn’t go digging for it.

I did notice, however, that I still have a few “end-of-summer/early fall” frags in the Hatbox of Current Rotation, so I should probably put them away and go digging for some cooler-weather scents now.

belize-by-f-ermert-creative-commons-1200x640Want to hear some good news? We leave on Friday to drive to my sister-in-law’s house near Dulles, and on Saturday, we’ll fly to Belize for a week. The whole family this time, because it’s been seven years since we vacationed with all three kids; summer internships and college tours and summer school have all interfered with taking a trip together. But since The CEO and I got booted from not one, but two flights on our trip to Hawai’i in July and had vouchers of $2600, we were able to swing the airfare for Belize.

One of the three (four?) sets of Mayan ruins in Belize. This is Lamanai Archaeological Refuge.
One of the three (four?) sets of Mayan ruins in Belize. This is Lamanai Archaeological Refuge.

We will snorkel over a reef, visit a tropical-animal zoo, and make a trip to some Mayan ruins. I hope the AC in the hotel rooms works as promised. I may or may not get a chance to post or check in via internet there; we’ll have to see how things go.

I’m sorry to be missing Thanksgiving at home; that’s Gaze’s favorite holiday, and one of my favorites as well. We may have to come home and do a family meal the next weekend!

 

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Election Day, 2016

dont-wanna-voteThis is how I’ve been feeling about the current presidential race.

I’ve been longing for this day, because it means that the political ads will stop, and (I hope) my friends will stop posting political stuff on Facebook. But I’ve been dreading this day, because it means that as a responsible citizen I have to exercise my right to choose between two major candidates I find entirely unsatisfactory, both of whom disgust me and one of whom actually frightens me.

gollum-candidatesOr I could vote for the Green Party (eco-socialist nut jobs), the Libertarian Party (what, this is the Wild West ca. 1871? Good Lord, don’t you people own cell phones?), or a Republican running as an Independent because Trump stole the right to have that big fat “R” next to his name on the ballot (which I think he did, but only because Republicans couldn’t agree amongst themselves on a real candidate).

No political party is running a moderate.

No moderate is even close enough to touch this race with a 4000-foot pole.

There is no candidate on the ballot I feel even vaguely comfortable choosing.

dont-wanna-vote-2We got up at the normal time, because Virginia Tech is holding classes and The CEO is on a normal schedule. Gaze surprised me by getting up at his normal time, too. Several schools serve as polling places around the county, so there is no school today, and I’d expected him to sleep in late. (Taz is a morning person; he’s up around 6:30 a.m. or sometimes earlier, weekday or not.) Gaze decided to volunteer for our current Congressman’s re-election campaign.

I waited until I expected that the morning rush would be over – that’s a luxury, and I know it! – and got in the car at 9:38. I arrived at the NRV Fairgrounds at 9:42 and spent two minutes parking and walking to the building. I said hello to Gaze, who was handing out materials for Morgan Griffith, and then walked inside at 9:45.

There was a line.

There was a line! I’ve been voting at the fairgrounds since 2002, and the longest I’ve ever had to wait has been behind seven people (for three voting booths). Didn’t count bodies today, but the line was considerably longer than it has been in the past.

With all the vociferous whining, on Facebook, in print (digital or otherwise), and in person, that people have been doing about their choices in this election, I thought those of us not already committed to a candidate might stay home.

I’m very, very glad we didn’t — at least in the West Cloyd District of Pulaski County, Virginia. We’re also electing a Congressman and voting on two proposed amendments to the state constitution, and those items are at least as important as the presidency.

I saw twelve people I knew in line, including my mother-in-law. Had a nice chat with some people we used to go to church with.

Gaze told me that he hadn’t had a chance to vote yet, but would do it when the line died down. This will be his first time to vote! He just turned 18 last month, and procured his voter registration on his own, without parental guidance. I’m proud of him.

I wore Chanel No. 19 edp, for backbone and comfort. I needed it.

So for whom did I vote? Was it Devil, or Deep Blue Sea? Rock, or Hard Place? Scylla, or Charybdis?

ace-ventura-bad-choices-gifNeither. With heavy heart I wrote in the name of a person who, in my opinion, should have run for President. I’ve never done that before. I hope that my future choices are more reasonable, and that I’ll never feel forced to write in a candidate.

I hope that we Americans look back at this election and say, “Dang, y’all, that sucked. We have got to come up with some better options, because we can’t do that again.” If it happens again, I may wind up voting for my sister’s cat, Fergus, who at least would be better than the options on the ballot today.

Fergus, wearing a toupee made of his own fur. Unfortunately, he has been known to attack women - but only with his claws and teeth, and only if they moved him off the couch.
Fergus, wearing a toupee made of his own fur. Unfortunately, he has been known to attack women – but only with his claws and teeth, and only if they moved him off the couch, to which he is clearly entitled, being the Cat of the House.d choi
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Scent Diary, Oct. 31 – Nov. 6, 2016

416743892-endora-2t
Those false lashes tho

Monday, Oct. 31 – It’s never very Halloweeny around here. The CEO doesn’t enjoy the holiday, and we no longer have little ones to dress up in costume and take trick-or-treating, and living out here in the boonies we don’t get trick-or-treaters coming to the door. So, no Halloween. (Could have gone to our church’s block party at a member’s house, but I was just Not In The Mood.) Wore L’Arte di Gucci, which smells like I imagine Endora would: loud, proud, colorful, in-your-face witchy.

Tuesday, Nov. 1 – First day of NaNoWriMo. I was seriously on the fence about doing it again this year, given my recent lack of success in revising an earlier novel, but I did decide to go ahead and write a story that’s been in my head for years. Switched it up, though: instead of writing it from the perspectives of the college lovers, I’m now writing it from the POV of the wife of one of them. She’s going to be absolutely blindsided by her discovery of the 20-years-ago affair.

It’s gloomy and windy today, perfect for vintage Magie Noire. My mini is super-old and still smells amazing, but it sort of eats my head and I can hardly think of anything else while I’m wearing it, so it’s a rare occasion when I do.

Wednesday, Nov. 2 – Very foggy in the morning, gorgeous later. I only managed to get 932 words down yesterday, so I had some catching up to do today. Getting excited about this one, now, so I got up to 3759 before the end of the day. Working title is “Personal Injury,” because two of the characters are lawyers, but I may not keep that.

Mowed the grass for what might be the final time this year. The lawn is decorated with scattered fallen leaves, but I never mind that; they’re not thick enough to kill the grass, and I figure the soil can always use the organic matter, once I crunch them into bits with the lawnmower. SOTD probably should have been Arpege, because it’s amazing in the fall, but I wound up testing a bunch of samples. Bedtime scent was Le Galion La Rose, which I thought was going to be a soliflore. It’s a warm woody rose, though, pretty and comforting.

The boys went off with the cross country team to the Regional meet today, after last week’s triumphant Conference 24 win. They were, however, non-triumphant today. Nobody on the boys’ team ran well today. We did have two girls qualify for State, but that was it. Bummer.

The newly-painted bathroom, with new bronze accents and framed mirror. I might replace the faucet as well, because this one is a)builder grade and b)the chrome is pitted and flaking. Photo via my terrible cell phone camera.
The newly-painted bathroom, with new bronze accents and framed mirror. I might replace the faucet as well, because this one is a)builder grade and b)the chrome is pitted and flaking. Photo via my terrible cell phone camera.

Thursday, Nov. 3 – Warm again. The bathroom is finished TA-DAAAA!! and I’m pleased with it. SOTD was samples in the morning, and Le Temps d’une Fete in the evening.

Friday, Nov. 4 – Met my parents and aunt and uncle and we drove two hours to Bristol to meet another aunt and uncle for lunch. Nice. I wore sunny Chanel 1932 edp, and my mom told me I smelled good (well, she would, she’s a Chanel girl). Chatted with Bookworm and my sister A while we were there together, too.

Senior Night, 2012, with Bookworm.
Senior Night, 2012, with Bookworm. Photo by David Gravely.

Then home and a few chores before it was time to go to the high school for Senior Night. Before the football game starts, the seniors participating in fall sports (football, volleyball, golf, cross-country, cheerleading, and marching band*) are introduced and walk, escorted by parents and/or other significant people from the end zone near the field house down the track, in order to be recognized for their efforts. *Yeah, band. A couple of years ago — oh, I guess this was after the year that booster parents wound up taking five kids to the ER during band camp — the school began requiring that band students take the annual sports physical as well.

This final game of the regular season was against Salem, our school’s traditional rival, and a bitter rivalry it is. (I didn’t attend this school; the two of my cousins closest to me in age went to the rival school and I didn’t have a poor opinion of it until I got fed up with the treatment the band received every time we played there. Typically, the on-field nastiness does not reach the band, and there is friendly feeling between fellow musicians. Not at Salem, and that’s all I have to say on the subject.)

Senior Night, 2016, with Gaze.
Senior Night, 2016, with Gaze. Photo by David Gravely. (New band uniforms arrived at the end of marching season 2015, which is why Gaze’s looks substantially different than Bookworm’s.)

Salem returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, and the game went south badly from there, ending up with a score of 56-14. Worse, the band seemed to be having a very off night. Star Spangled Banner sounded awful, the stands tunes were rough, and the halftime show lackluster. I don’t know why. It was an emotional time for me, seeing my band kids together for the last home game. Some of them I’ve known for five years, and I’ll miss them very much. I was kind of a wreck; it’s Gaze’s last year at home full-time, and since Taz quit band, this is the end of an 8-year run as Band Mom for me. Stupid thing to be sad over, but there it is: I was very sad.

Saturday, Nov. 5 – The CEO and Gaze went off to watch Virginia Tech play football at Duke. Taz had declined a ticket, so he and I stayed home, cleaned the house, planted two chrysanthemums, ate pizza, and hung out together. It was pleasant.

SOTD was Pierre de Velay No. 11 extrait – one of those creations based on a recipe book from defunct French perfume house active in the early 20th century, given new life by Roja Dove’s perfumery in the UK. It’s very much a classical chypre: the bite of bergamot, some beautiful rose and jasmine, patchouli and oakmoss and amber to ground it. It reminds me a great deal of Coty Chypre parfum, except it’s sharper, not nearly as soft as Chypre smells now (after a good 50 years of maceration, of course). It’s also similar to Soivohle Centennial, also based on a classic chypre recipe, but Centennial has a peculiar and lovely animal fuzziness I can’t pin down. The de Velay No. 11 has no fuzz at all. It’s toothy and joyous and very, very retro. I love it. Picked it up at Surrender to Chance, which I think is the only place that has it (unless you want to contact Roja’s place and see if they’ll ship to you).

My Low Brass boys! I'm going to miss them. L-R back row: Isaac, Jeremy, Jake, James, and Gaze. Right in the center there is rookie Branden (whose big sister taught Gaze to march!), then Briggs and Lakin on the front row. Photo by Stacey Utt.
My Low Brass boys! I’m going to miss them. L-R back row: Isaac, Jeremy, Jake, James, and Gaze. Right in the center there is rookie Branden (whose big sister taught Gaze to march!), then Briggs and Lakin on the front row. Photo by Stacey Utt.

Sunday, Nov. 6 – GAH I AM SICK OF POLITICS. Sick, I tell you. I think the worst part is that after one of the candidates wins the election… that person has won the election. And then we have to live with him or her.

SOTD was By Kilian Sweet Redemption. Taz told me I smelled like lollipops. I’d roll my eyes, but the thing is, I do smell kinda like lollipops.

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Scent Diary, Oct. 24-30, 2016

In the instrument closet, post-concert: Cowboy Gaze on the left; French-horn-player Soren on the right, as "French Kiss." (Clever!)
In the instrument closet, post-concert: Cowboy Gaze on the left; French-horn-player Soren on the right, as “French Kiss.” (Clever!)

Monday, Oct. 24 – Busy week ahead. It’s windy and chilly (which I happen to love in the fall), and I wore Samsara to the high school’s fall band concert. The kids can choose to dress in costume – poor Gaze was so flustered at forgetting, after cross country practice, that he had to just throw together a cowboy costume. He has a pair of hand-me-down boots that he hardly ever wears; the jeans and hat were easy. He added an old suit vest and a kid’s metal badge saying “TEXAS RANGER” I bought in San Antonio, and a big buckle belt he borrowed from a friend. Looked pretty good! Sounded good, too, during his solo. He gets a really beautiful tone out of his baritone horn.

Tuesday, Oct. 25 – More chilly-windy. Neb’mind, I’m painting the bathroom. Looks pretty good. No scent today because the smell of paint (even the low VOC stuff) covers up everything else.

Wednesday, Oct. 26 – The boys headed off early from school to the Conference 24 cross-country championship meet, hosted by Bassett HS. (Pretty place, but a huge pain to get to from here because you either go over a couple of mountains on small twisty backroads, or you go 50 miles out of your way to Roanoke so you can drive on something that’s paved the whole way. I’m not even kidding! We played a football game there earlier in the season, and I went with another band mom who was driving separately from the bus. Her GPS was set to “shortest distance,” and boy, lemme tell you: an hour and forty minutes of potholes and mountainsides each way, not to mention getting lost on the way home in the dark.)

In any case, the varsity boys won their second C24 title in a row, and the girls came in a good solid third. However, Gaze had a horrible race and ran his slowest time of this season, and didn’t make the all-conference team (the top 15 runners). He was pretty disappointed, because if he’d run his average time, he would have been 12th, and this was his last chance for the honor since he’s a senior. I’m disappointed for him – sometimes these things just happen and you have a bad day for no obvious reason.

Back-to-back champs! L-R: Sam, Gaze, Cade, Nathan, Jake, Shaun, and Noah. Gaze is the only senior. Sam and Jake are juniors, and the rest are sophomores, so they'll be back strong next year.
Back-to-back champs! L-R: Sam, Gaze, Cade, Nathan, Jake, Shaun, and Noah. Gaze is the only senior. Sam and Jake are juniors, and the rest are sophomores, so they’ll be back strong next year. Photo by Tasha Myers Cox.

Scent of this sunny, chilly day was DSH Perfumes Giverny in Bloom. Gosh, it’s good. If you love galbanum or green florals, snap some up.

Thursday, Oct. 27 – The CEO and Gaze went to a local Republican dinner meeting, while I skipped out of choir practice to stay home and hang out with Taz instead. (I try to stay away from political stuff whenever possible, even if food is involved. I just don’t enjoy these things at all. Wouldn’t enjoy this kind of event if they were Democrats, either. Just no.) Taz and I ate leftovers and watched “Apollo 13” together. He put his head in my lap and asked me to rub it, which was nice… gotta get those teenage boy snuggles when you can!

SOTD was Iris Poudre, because it was easy. (I usually don’t feel that aldehydes are too dressy for normal wear; I’m comfortable in them. Your mileage may vary.)

Friday, Oct. 28 – No football game tonight! Our opponent shares a field with another high school in Roanoke, and the other team was playing on it this evening. Game tomorrow; the band can’t go because they’ll be hosting a competition.

Instead, we had The CEO’s birthday dinner. His mother came and brought shrimp cocktail, and I made his favorite broiled herb chicken. Good times. SOTD was Cuir de Lancome.

Saturday, Oct. 29 – Gaze and I were gone all day to the competition (a success, though there were fewer bands than last year). We had beautiful clear, sunny, warm weather. I’m going to miss being a band mom. Never put any perfume on because I was too busy, and then I was too tired.

Sunday, Oct. 30 – another lovely day. SOTD was Mariella Burani, because it’s an easy aldehydie. Did some cleaning, did some cleanup-touchup on the freshly painted bathroom (pics to come soon). Man, I’m tired.

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Perfume Review: Chanel No. 5 L’eau

Only this commendation I afford her, that were she other than she is, she were unhandsome, and being no other but that she is, I do not like her.

                        Shakespeare, “Much Ado About Nothing,” Act I, Scene 1

I could say the same thing about the most recent flanker to what may be the most iconic and easily recognized fragrance in the world: Chanel No. 5.

Giovanni Strazza's "The Veiled Virgin," which has always amazed me. How does cold marble look soft and tactile? No. 5 is, in my opinion, similarly amazing.
Giovanni Strazza’s “The Veiled Virgin,” which has always amazed me. How does cold marble look soft and tactile? No. 5 is, in my opinion, similarly amazing.

Created in 1925, with the addition of aldehydes – not widely used in perfumery at that time – to suggest the aroma and sparkle of clean snow, this floral creation is still the best-selling fragrance worldwide. This wasn’t the first commercial, or even successful commercial, use of aldehydes in a fragrance (those would be Armingeat Rêve D’Or, 1905, and Houbigant Quelques Fleurs, 1912, respectively), but No. 5 is overdosed with them, specifically C10, C11, and C12. As a consequence of its popularity and the growth of aldehydic florals in the industry, the use of aldehydes came to be so closely associated with Proper French Perfume that soap manufacturers began scenting their products with aldehydes, and now we tend to think of aldehydes as smelling soapy.

Full disclosure now: my mom wore No. 5 parfum, the mid-1960s stuff, until her bottle ran out in the early 1980s. It was her “dress-up” fragrance (the everyday one being Jovan Musk for Women, another aldehydic floral musk). My dad bought her a bottle of EdT for Christmas, but she didn’t care much for it. She took to wearing clean florals like Coty L’Effleur and Elizabeth Arden 5th Avenue instead, until recently, and now she is devoted to the No. 5 Crème Velours pour le corps, the body cream. It is truly wonderful on her!

Although I always liked No. 5 on her, I didn’t want it for myself. What young woman wants to smell like her mother? Not this one.

cannes-med-klieg-lightsAlso: those blinding aldehydes. Klieg lights in the face, dude, at least before the florals pop up. I like them now, but No. 5 has always had that aggressive alde-slap opening, and it takes some getting used to. I’ve never smelled the early-90s Elixir Sensuel version (reportedly focused on ylang, with the aldehydes toned way down), but I liked 2007’s Eau Premiere very much, so I was looking forward to trying the new L’Eau variation, created by Jacques Polge and released this year (2016).

The SA who’s been working at the New River Valley Mall Belk since the mall opened in the late 1980s was there when I popped by last week, and offered me a manufacturer spray sample of L’Eau. L’Eau’s notes are Rose de Mai, lemon, mandarin, bergamot, orange, aldehydes, jasmine, ylang-ylang, sandalwood, cedar and “cottony” musk notes.

I was excited about trying it, and sprayed more liberally than I am wont to do, thinking that it would be a light scent that would need the three spritzes I gave my wrist.

no-5-leauAt first sniff, it was recognizably a light, citrusy version of No. 5, with the aldehydes damped to barely-there levels. (Which is fine; I was expecting any new version of No. 5 to be updated in this way.) As the minutes passed, the beautiful mix of florals that is the heart of No. 5 came up and the citrus receded, and it was even prettier. Lighter weight than Eau Premiere, and less rosy, it was more light-hearted and, probably, more wearable for many people.

Half an hour later, the florals were faint and there was an undeniable savor of white musk in place of the attractive woody-rosy-musk drydown of Eau Premiere. Two hours after first spritz, there was white musk, period.

Instead of No. 5’s glorious rose-jasmine-ylang-iris-sandalwood-skin musk, instead of the luminous and lovely Eau Premiere version, L’Eau smells mostly of… laundry. The first 15 minutes to an hour, depending on how much you put on, are really beautiful, a cheerful lighthearted summer-sundressy No. 5 being all friendly, and then? Dryer sheets in attack mode. GAH.

dryer-sheetsNow listen up. I don’t mind white musk per se; a lot of other reviewers hate it with a passion I don’t share. If it’s the only noticeable note grounding an otherwise-lovely floral, and it starts disappearing into my skin shortly after the florals recede, leaving very little drydown, I’m okay with that.

No, really, I am. Witness my fondness for Chanel’s own 1932, a sparkly citrus-jasmine-iris that ends in musk. (I just bought a decant of the soon-to-be-rolled out EdP version of the Les Exclusifs collection, having recently drained my 5ml decant of the original EdT. See? I don’t hate it when Chanel uses musk in a light floral.) I didn’t like No. 19’s flanker, Poudre, because it stripped out all the Amazonian qualities of the original and made her a Stepford Wife, all her individuality gone. But Poudre is not awful taken on its own merits; in fact, when I think of it as “a greener take on Prada Infusion d’Iris,” I find it cool and calming and very pleasant.

See, I don’t really mind a Chanel frag ending in musk… unless the musk comes across as vapid. And in this case, I think it does. Chanel could very well have sent No. 5 L’Eau in the same direction as No. 19 Poudre: musk, yes, but a nice woody or skinlike one shaped with iris, vetiver, and tonka, a cool smooth drydown very poised, groomed, and collected. Chanel-like. Instead, they gave us a laundromat.

Lasting power on me is about as expected with a light eau or cologne: 3 hours with one generous spritz on each wrist, a little over 4 hours if I follow the Annick Goutal spray-until-wet protocol. Sillage is soft to moderate, again depending on amount applied. I have no complaints for either. I am less happy, however, that the last two hours of L’Eau are so laden with clean, cottony, boring, dull white musk.

No. 5 L’Eau still smells enough like No. 5 that I’m encouraged. There’s no froot, no sugar, very little vanilla. It’s not a disaster. It doesn’t stink. Chanel could have screwed it up in a bazillion different ways. It pays homage without smelling overtly retro, and as such, might convince some young things with disposable income to spend it on Chanel fragrance. Being other than she is, she were unhandsome.

But there’s that laundromat. … and being no other but as she is, I do not like her.

Sigh.

Other reviews of Chanel L’Eau (all from people who liked it better than I did):
Victoria at Bois de Jasmin
Persolaise
Angela at Now Smell This
Gail at Ca Fleure Bon
The Candy Perfume Boy

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Scent Diary, Oct. 17-23, 2016

autumn-leaves-light-wallpaperMonday, Oct. 17 – It was downright warm for October today, into the low 80s. Indian summer, I suppose… I went out to do errands, and had to roll the windows down for comfort. Among other places, I went by TJ Maxx to see if they had any more of those Paddywax Pumpkin & Spice candles that are a gorgeous mix of PS and mellow tobacco, but of course they’re gone. Did some grocery shopping, had the MDF molding boards for the bathroom mirror-framing project recut to the CORRECT SIZE 😳 , and picked up a pair of black dress pants for Gaze since he’s been wearing his suit pants for every. single. FFA activity (he’s an officer). As I came home, I could smell that beautiful dry-leaf scent, as my tires crunched over them.

Sigh. Autumn is wonderful. Annnnnd – I later found a couple of those candles for sale on eBay, too. Yay me. 😀 SOTD was Le Temps d’une Fete, because I can’t resist it on sunny fall days.

Tuesday, Oct. 18 – ‘Nother warm one in the low 80s. I don’t particularly enjoy it. In some ways, I wonder if I should just move to England and live most of my life in weather between 32 and 65 Fahrenheit, except of course I’d have to learn that in Celsius. (The quick-and-dirty formula for F to C is: Subtract 30 and divide by two. That’s not entirely accurate, but it’s close enough for government work, as they say. So, 5C to 20C. Once I’d spent a few months living with Celsius, I’d probably be okay; I just don’t have the reference points, such as 17C feels like 65F.)

SOTD is Amouage Myths Woman, which I like just fine, and which feels like Le Temps d’une Fete and Jolie Madame extrait made a baby. I adore LTdF, and I have five little bottles of JM parfum stashed away because it is just. so. good, but somehow I don’t love Myths. It is maybe too dry for me? Maybe not quite floral enough (the narcissus is there, but not very petally)? Dunno. The drydown does last for hours, even on me.

Wednesday, Oct. 19 – Warm again. Dang it, I want my sweater weather back! And by “sweater weather,” I mean the kind of weather in which one only needs a light cardigan or jacket outside. Like, 65-75F, or late August in Kensington. 😉 SOTD was a sample from SIXTEEN92, one of six that I’ll be reviewing in two batches soon.

ja-frisbee-9-16Bookworm was supposed to be driving home for Fall Break today, but she fell during an Ultimate Frisbee tournament on Sunday evening, and hit her head. They didn’t think she had a concussion – she had no memory loss, no nausea, no changes in vision or eye focus, no passing out – but she’s had some headaches since then, and I insisted she go to student health yesterday to get it checked out. We decided it would be best for her to stay in Connecticut and just rest as much as possible instead of subjecting herself to a 10-hour drive home and another one back on Sunday. Which is fine. I want her to feel better, and we’ll see her at Thanksgiving when we take that family trip to Belize. But I’m bummed. (But I’m FINE.)

Apparently, this is AN ACTUAL CAT, despite looking like a fluffy stuffed toy with gigantic sad eyes.
Apparently, this is an actual cat. It just LOOKS like a stuffed toy with gigantic sad eyes.

Thursday, Oct. 20 – I miss my girl. Snif. I’ll see her in a month, when we go on our family vacation to Belize(!), but I would love to hug her now.

Today: warm again, though it’s supposed to start raining tomorrow. Wearing another SIXTEEN92 sample.

Friday, Oct. 21 – Aaaaaaand fall is back! We had an ugly storm this morning: torrential rain, plus wind whipping through the trees and ripping off leaves everywhere. It was gone by noon, and the weather was back to chilly, windy October. The rain was gone by late afternoon, in time for the stadium to dry out for the football game. SOTD was Tom Ford Tuscan Leather, sweet coziness that kept me warm in the concession stand. (Or maybe that was the heat lamps.) We ran out of hot chocolate before halftime, and for some unknown reason, the athletic department had failed to stock the always-popular Dr. Pepper, but we sold tons of popcorn. Taz came and helped; he isn’t allowed to handle food because he’s not 18, but he can take money and pass prepared food across the counter. He did a great job, not only distributing drinks and foil-wrapped hot dogs, but also keeping the stations stocked between customers. Proud of my boy.

Saturday, Oct. 22 – Went to my cousin’s renewal of wedding vows ceremony. The boys were at a cross-country thing, and The CEO had a work thing, so I went on my own. Susan and Richard started dating in high school and have now been married almost 26 years, with three lovely daughters and a son as well as a granddaughter. Congrats to them! The weather was far nicer than yesterday – windy and chilly but at least there was sunshine.

SOTD was Teo Cabanel Early Roses over a small application of Tauer Rose Delight body oil. Nice. On the way home, I stopped to sniff things at Macy’s and was disappointed to see that the perfume department at the Roanoke store seems smaller than it was a few years ago. It’s now about the same size as the one at Belk’s, and while there are a few differences in the fragrances stocked, there still aren’t many interesting scents there, and only a few that Belk doesn’t carry – Armani Sì, for example, and the Vince Camutos, nothing that caught my attention.

Having tested No. 5 L’Eau from a manufacturer spray sample the Belk SA gave me a few weeks ago, I wasn’t tempted by that tester. (I’m currently working on a review.) No. 5 always smells like its wonderful self, and Eau Premiere is still lovely, so I grabbed the EP tester and gave myself a spritz for the drive home. It was still great when The CEO and I went out to dinner at the Mexican restaurant.

Speaking of our Mexican restaurant: El Ranchero has upscaled since they moved out to the strip mall near Wal-Mart, just off I-81, a couple of years ago. They’re not just offering that list of numbered specials consisting of various combinations of burritos, tacos, and chimichangas; now they’re doing seafood and steaks, too, as well as mixed drinks they didn’t serve when they were in the old building. I mean, I don’t kid myself that it is Real Authentic Mexican like you would get in Mexico (or in Texas, for that matter!), but they’ve made a move toward higher-quality ingredients. I’m so glad to see that they’re thriving. The restaurant is clearly a family enterprise, too. All members of the service staff speak English, but most of them have noticeable accents except the two younger guys who must have grown up here, given their Southwest Virginia drawls. There’s this one guy who has been there since the restaurant opened sometime in the early 2000s, and he regularly carries six plates at once. Six!! He puts a long hot mitt on his upper arm and one on his left hand, and loads that side up, then gets another plate in his right hand. Now that is some skill.

Sunday, Oct. 23 – Looks like we’re settling back into the normal October weather I love so much: clear, bright, cool. SOTD was Cuir de Lancome. Gosh, this is good stuff. I’m sad it’s discontinued (and feeling juuuust a little bit smug about the two backup bottles in the bedside cabinet).

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What I’ve Been Reading, October 2016

kindleI’ve been reading. (Surprise, surprise!)

Mostly on my Kindle, mostly free fiction I pick up from my Book Bub subscription (also free, and you can subscribe for e-book bargains here, and btw I’m not affiliated but I’ve been pleased). Also books from the library. By the way, most of the links in this post are to Goodreads, except the one to Book Bub, the one to IMDB, and the one to an author page. Not pushing you to buy anything. 🙂

I told you how I finished The Wheel of Time recently, but I also read Room and Bastard out of Carolina (both heartbreaking, both worthy).  I started Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver, whose prose can sing when she’s not flat-out hectoring people, but she began to hector, and I stopped reading.

Kingsolver’s technique reminds me of the story about the minister newly installed in a church in Virginia horse country. The first Sunday he preached a sermon warning of the evils of alcohol, and afterwards was greeted by an elderly churchgoer at the door. “Mighty fine sermon, preacher, mighty fine,” she told him. The next Sunday he warned of the dangerous risks of dancing all up-close-and-personal, the way people do at honkytonks (how shocking!), and his parishioner pronounced his sermon “mighty fine” again. On the third Sunday, he preached against the uncouth and troubling habit of cursing, and again his favorite member of the flock congratulated him on his fine sermon.

On the fourth Sunday, fired up from his success at renouncing ordinary evils, he preached an inspired message against the evils of gambling. He warned against playing cards for money, or gambling on a game of pool, or betting on the ponies. Even those $1 lottery tickets down at the Piggly Wiggly, he claimed, were instruments of the devil, for making people believe they could gain riches from anything other than the word of the Lord, and for taking the bread out of the mouths of babies. He shook hands at the door afterward, already planning his next sermon to address the sin of smoking tobacco and expecting to be congratulated again by this elderly lady.

However, she set her cane close to his toes with a thump and pointed a finger at his chest, and said, “Preacher, you have quit preachin’ and gone to meddlin’, and that’s about enough of that.” He watched her high-dudgeon exit with his mouth open, and it was only then that one of the deacons explained to him that she owned a string of racehorses and had been involved with the racing industry since her childhood, and any criticism of gambling on her beloved horses was bound to meet with stony disapproval.

Am I criticizing Kingsolver for having an opinion on issues and trying to convince people that her view is the right one, through her novels? Nope. I’m not. I am, however, criticizing her for going at it all ham-handed and pretending that she’s “just telling a story,” when she has a thinly-disguised agenda. Her subtext has become her text, and it’s clumsily done, poor noveling, and I do not approve.disapprovalI have also been reading some lightweight romance novels – largely because that’s the genre that most often shows up for free on Book Bub. #sorrynotsorry Some of them aren’t bad. Some of them, are just awful. Unbelievable characters, improbable plots, ridiculously perfect best friends… Sigh. Trouble is, you never know just from the description which ones are going to be good, and which ones clunkers. You have to get at least a couple of chapters in before you can tell. I think I won’t bother to tell you which ones I enjoyed and which were duds; it’s kind of pointless because these books are like popcorn and it’s hard to distinguish between kernels.

The other thing I’ve been reading lately is The Circle of Ceridwen, by Octavia Randolph. This is a four-book series set in Angle-land (England) of 871, a time of war and politico-cultural upheaval on this island that would become so powerful centuries later. Ceridwen, aged 15 when we first meet her, is the acknowledged illegitimate — and only — child of a Saxon thegn (thane, a minor lord) in Mercia. Her mother was Welsh, enslaved through war, and Ceridwen thinks she might be dead because she has never met her. Her father died a few years before, and the local priest seized his lands on the grounds that he was a heathen, devoted to his Saxon gods. Ceridwen came of age in the priory, having been taught to read and write, as well as to perform tasks expected of a highborn wife and hallmistress: spin, weave, direct servants, and oversee a household. As the book picks up, she has decided to refuse both of the choices for husband the prior has offered her, and to run away to find a situation more acceptable to her. On the road, she meets Ælfwyn, daughter of a higher-ranking Saxon lord who has promised her as peace-making bride to one of the most powerful Viking raiders now gaining a foothold in the country, and proposes to serve her as friend and companion in the Norse town where Ælfwyn is bound.

The four novels cover the next 12 to 15 years of Ceridwen’s life, which not only involves the marriage and childbearing that would have circumscribed the life of a typical woman of her time, but some extensive travel, war experiences, and changing circumstances. She’s an enjoyable character — quick to take sides and make judgments, brave, resolute, and warm-hearted. Sometimes that warm heart and impulsive judgment gets her into tangled situations, but her deep desire to improve the lives of those around her allows her to salvage much. 

The mixing strains of Welsh, Saxon, and Norse cultures point out how much of a “melting pot” England itself was, back in the day. Interesting. Much food for thought.

The series was recommended to me thusly: “If you love Outlander, you’ll enjoy The Circle of Ceridwen.”  It’s not a terribly valid comparison, except that they’re both historical novels that also have elements of romance, everyday life, battles, and strong heroines. I can see them appealing to the same kind of reader, but it’s more a Venn diagram thing; there will be people who like one and not the other, as well some who have overlapping tastes. You might try if it you liked Karen Cushman’s YA historical novel-in-journal-format, Catherine, Called Birdy. Bookworm had to read it for class in middle school, and liked it so much that she bought a copy at the book fair, and then she made me read it too. How do you not love a teen novel that begins, “Corpus bones! I utterly loathe my life”?

(I do love Diana Gabaldon’s massive Outlander series, now comprised of 8 giant enormous main novels, 3 shorter emergency backup novels, 6 tangential novellas and a short story. Very highly recommended, but only if you don’t read slowly.)

So what have you been reading lately?

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Scent Diary, Oct. 10-16, 2016

Monday, Oct. 10 – Jenny the donkey is settling right in – and no sheep jailbreaks since she got here. We moved the sheep from the shop lot right next to the house out into the large pond field pasture, in with the cows. (They could get out under the gate, but why would they want to? No grass on the road that runs next to it.)

The leaves have juuuuuust started to turn. YAY FALL!! SOTD is Cuir de Lancome, gorgeous almost-smoky floral leather.

Yeah, so I like candles... the Paddywax one is the black one right in front of the dried-flower arrangement.
Yeah, so I like candles… the Paddywax one is the black one right in front of the dried-flower arrangement.

Tuesday, Oct. 11 – I am still digging that Paddywax Pumpkin Spice candle, because it smells a lot like drinking a PSL coffee* while wearing Tabac Aurea. Yum.

*Er, not that I do that often. I’m actually not a big Starbucks fan: it’s too expensive for me. I’ve had a Pumpkin Spice Latte exactly three times in my life, and while it is delicious, it is also pretty much more dessert than beverage.

SOTD is beautiful Le Temps d’une Fete.  The weather is cloudy and chilly, and I needed some green-and-gold sunshine today.

Wednesday, Oct. 12 – Big day. Beeeeg, big day. Our cross-country team hosted a 12-school invitational meet, our first at the new course, and The CEO was just totally crazy right now with organizing stuff for it.

Varsity team with their trophy. L-R, that's Cade, Shaun on Gaze's back, Jake, Noah, Sam, and Ryan.
Varsity team with their trophy. L-R, that’s Cade, Shaun on Gaze’s back, Jake, Noah, Sam, and Ryan.

The meet turned out quite well, actually, no major problems. The closest thing to a hiccup we had was with some runners taking a much longer time than anticipated to finish, and I think most people understand how that can cause delays. Typically, high school female runners’ times will range from 19 minutes to just over 30 for a 5K distance, but we had a couple of runners take more than 45, and one almost 50. (For comparison, the slowest varsity male runner was just under 27 minutes.) As it turned out, our boys’ varsity, boys’ junior varsity, and girls’ JV teams won, and we had the first individual finisher in each race. On top of that, most of the coaches were pleased with the course and meet organization, so we hope they’ll come back again next year.

SOTD was Le Temps d’une Fete, with a little dab of DSH Chypre to amp up the base notes. Nice.

Thursday, Oct. 13 – Happy birthday to sweet Gaze! He’s 18 today. Can hardly believe it.

I made four batches of cupcakes for the band kids, since they would be playing in the Fire Parade this evening and boosters were providing food after school. SOTD was the friendly Hilde Soliani Il Tuo Tulipano. It’s a floral, but a creamy fruit-salady one. Nice.

Friday, Oct. 14 – Gray and chilly today, a real contrast to Wednesday’s absolutely-perfect autumn weather. I should have done laundry and hung it out on Wednesday, but was too busy, so today it’s all going into the dryer. 🙁 The weather is, however, wonderful for SSS Tabac Aurea, which I lurve, and The CEO smelled really fabulous in his sexxaay Halston Z-14.

Incidentally, a number of fragrance reviewers, mostly the guys who do Youtube videos, have called the current formula of Z-14 an abomination because it’s so different from the old stuff. They say it used to be chock-full of moss and patchouli and other good stuff now restricted (and expensive), and that now it smells mostly of cheap furniture-polish lemon oil and Big Red gum. I don’t want to call them crazy, because we allll know that reformulations have messed with so many of the classics. And I don’t want to call them whiny, because I certainly have complained about the changes to Le Temps d’une Fete (yeah, before it finally got the axe  🙁 ). BUT. I picked up a tester bottle for Z-14 in the summer of 2015, and spritzed it on a card… and my knees got weak. I was reduced to near-incoherence at how wonderful it was. Reader, I bought it on the spot. There’s cinnamon in there, but it only peeks out from the woods from time to time, and the citrus note is subdued. It smells like a Rainbath Intense EdP, and I love Rainbath. Shrug. I don’t care that it’s been messed with, I just know it smells great. If the old stuff smelled better than this, my knees had no chance.

Chaperoned the band to the football game… where we lost, to a local rival who has been so awful in prior years that they didn’t win a single game. Apparently they’ve got their stuff together this year.

Saturday, Oct. 15 – Even though we got home late (after 11 pm) last night, poor Gaze had to get up at 5:30 to get breakfast before he and Taz got to the high school to go to an all-day cross-country meet just south of Richmond. It’s a four-hour drive, and neither The CEO nor I felt compelled to go. SOTD was By Kilian Sweet Redemption, yummy candied orange blossom. (OB tends to go either sweet or soapy on me, and I much prefer the sweet version.) We cleaned up, and he watched college football, and I searched the internet for “upgrade bathroom mirror,” because the one in the powder room just off the kitchen is showing its age.

See the discoloration at the bottom of the mirror?
See the discoloration at the bottom of the mirror?

Most of the stuff in this house was builder grade to start with, which was fine with me at the time. Building a house is expensive, and I didn’t feel the need to ask for high-end finishes when we were paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for the entire house! I didn’t mind the cheapie mirrors put in with metal clips, and I didn’t mind the very basic faucets. Over time, I’ve managed to replace some of the towel bars and toilet paper holders, and paint most of the rooms, as well as replace some of the horrid baseline light fixtures. But now this mirror is losing its silvering, and like I say, it’s never been interesting. That’s about to change. Pics to come, as the project is complete.

james-milestat-2016-8th-jvThe boys got home after 10 pm, with the news that Gaze had run something similar to his previous times, and Taz finished 8th out of 297 runners in the JV race. He’s got a new 5K PR time of 18:20, as well.

Sunday, Oct. 16 – Taz came down with some kind of stomach bug last night, right after he showered. I felt so bad for him! And Gaze has been just run off his feet lately. We let them sleep and went to church without them. SOTD was Tauer Une Rose Chypree, from a large sample I’ve now had for… gosh, must be 7 years now, because I got this sample when the fragrance was new. It’s almost gone now, despite the number of times I’ve worn it; URC is sort of nuclear in its lasting power so I only wear a tiny bit at a time. It’s perfect at this time of year.

I mowed the grass, The CEO did laundry, Gaze did homework, and Taz recuperated. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, 68F, sunny, with the sky that stunning autumn blue. Sigh.

After I mowed, I had to shower – I’m allergic to grass, and my lawnblower blows bits of it everywhere, so I itch and itch until I shower it off. I used a small bottle of gel I picked up on a whim for $3 at TJ Maxx recently: The Body Shop Smoky Poppy. Now, I know that Smoky Poppy was supposed to be sort of an homage to YSL Opium, which you probably remember that I haaaaaate. And I didn’t like the fragrance spray when I tried it at the Duty Free shop, but the shower gel smells great and goes quite well with URC, if you were wondering. I was a little freaked out to find that not only is the bottle black, so is the gel! Oy. Creepy… but I do smell good. Gaze told me that when he hugged me good night.

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Scent Diary, Oct. 3-9, 2016

Blue Ridge Autumn
Blue Ridge Autumn

Monday, Oct. 3 – Another first Monday of the month, another band booster meeting… It’s finally gotten cooler, though I’m still spending the days in capri pants instead of long ones, and I only need a jacket or a sweater in the evening. A friend on Facebook was bemoaning the end of summer; I think she’s crazy. This is perfect weather. SOTD is Safari.

There was also a meeting for the Homecoming Court and their parents, to practice for the court’s introduction at halftime of the football game on Friday (which is in danger of being interrupted by nasty weather, courtesy of Hurricane Matthew). You wouldn’t think it would take 75 minutes to figure out where we’re supposed to walk and stand, would you? Sadly, it did.

Tuesday, Oct. 4 – Have been making icing decorations to place on cupcakes I plan to take to the cross-country meet tomorrow. It’s fun, but probably a waste of my time. SOTD is Mariella Burani.

Hunter-doggie had an exciting day, because the sheep escaped through the gate into the front yard. He really wanted to play with them! really really! I escorted them back into their lot and gave them some sweet feed, and got rewarded for my efforts by canine pouting. But I wanted to play with them, Mom! poutpout

Taz is 16!
Taz is 16!

Wednesday, Oct. 5 – Happy birthday to Taz! He’s 16 today. The boys’ team came in 3rd at the meet, with only one kid in the top 15 but everybody finishing with a decent time. The girls fared less well, except one who finished 9th. It’s a difficult course. The cupcakes went over well.

Weird fragsperience today: I pulled out a half-empty decant of Iris Poudre and spritzed it hastily on my way to the meet, and it smelled truly awful for the next hour before gradually returning to bearable. Up close, it smelled normal (a pale floral wrapped in a fluffy feather boa), but the waft! Remember that elderly lady who used to trail overspritzed White Diamonds behind her through the grocery store, and she smelled like a giant hotel-lobby flower arrangement accented with giant messy diapers? This was like Iris Poudre’s incontinent little purse-dog.

I suspect — I hope — that it was merely some juice caught in the sprayer and contaminated by air, or perhaps an adverse reaction to something on my skin. In either case, let us hope it never happens again, because GAH AWFUL.

pc-cupcakesThursday, Oct. 6 –  I tried hanging out some clothes to dry on the line, but it’s both overcast and chilly, so it’s not working. Dryer to the rescue. The sheep knocked the gate off its hinges AGAIN (that’s the fourth time in ten days), but since I can’t rehang a gate by myself, I propped it back up and buttressed it by shoving the cooler full of Gatorades from yesterday’s meet in front of it. It weighs about sixty pounds, so they could knock it over if they really gave it a concerted effort, but they’re sheep. I sincerely hope they’re not capable of concerted effort.

There's no discernible rose note in it, but Floral Romantique smells like these David Austin Juliet roses look.
There’s no discernible rose note in it, but Floral Romantique smells like these David Austin Juliet roses look.

SOTD is the last half-ml of a sample of Guerlain Elixir Charnel Floral Romantique, which I tried a couple of years ago and got rave reviews on. I had been considering getting a decant of it, if not a bottle, but it is riDONKulously pricey, so I zipped over to The Posh Peasant and picked up a large-ish sample to help me decide whether I really want that tester bottle from German eBay. I guess I don’t, but since the decant services recently closed out all their Guerlains, my only other option for getting any at all is a 3ml manufacturer sample also on eBay, for $25. Grrrrr.

I should try to find a dupe of this somewhere, because it is really nice on me, and it does have that wonderful your-skin-but-better quality. CEFR has gotten a long string of, “Come on, Guerlain, you should be producing better stuff than this nondescript mall-rat juice!” reviews from perfumistas, and I don’t want to argue with those, exactly… but it’s just so NICE. Sigh. Victoria at Bois de Jasmin called it an overpriced orange-blossom version of D&G Light Blue (I get tiare instead of OB, fyi); Olfactoria’s Travels said it was the most generic white floral to ever come from Guerlain; Perfume Shrine deemed it boring (see the comments).  Only Mark Behnke at CaFleureBon enjoyed it, calling it luminous. I don’t care. It “melts in” and smells lovely.

Finally closed the windows this evening, because it was 55F outside. Brr.

Gaze escorting Celie, who would be chosen Homecoming Queen just a few moments later. Photo by David Gravely.
Gaze escorting Celie, who would be chosen Homecoming Queen just a few moments later. Photo by David Gravely.

Friday, Oct. 7 – Wearing Iris Poudre again, and luckily the Nasty Waft seems to have worked itself out. It smells right, so probably there was just some juice caught in the sprayer, and air exposure decayed it. The decant is fine now.

It is raining. (Thanks a LOT, Hurricane Matthew. For the record, nobody invited you to Homecoming.) The Cougars won their football game, and the members of the Homecoming Court looked nice. It rained so much that my behind got soaked from water collecting on the concrete stands! Gah.

homecoming2016Saturday, Oct. 8 – No fragrance today. House cleaning instead. H. Matthew is sticking around and making a nuisance of himself, while all the ACC teams are practically swimming up and down the football fields. My brother and SIL who live in Florida lost power for about half a day, but the rain seems to have left them behind and hit farther north with a fury.

Gaze looks nice dressed up for the dance, doesn’t he? So does his lovely friend Cayla. From all accounts, everybody had a nice time. Man, Homecoming is a lot bigger deal than it used to be in the 80s – hardly anybody dressed up, if they bothered to go to the dance at all, and it was right after the football game anyway. I was usually too tired after doing band stuff all game, and just went home.

jenny-oct-9-2016Sunday, Oct. 9 – Michael, our farm guy, bought a donkey last night and brought her over this morning to hang out with Gaze’s sheep. Jenny will provide security for the sheep, in exchange for companionship and good pasture. Hunter is dying to meet her (not that he can escape the Invisible Fence to do so).

SOTD is Cuir de Lancome. I smell great!

Exciting baptism at church this morning, and then we had a joint birthday party for Taz and Gaze this evening with their grandparents. Since I made a gazillion cupcakes for Taz’s birthday on Wednesday, and will be making two gazillion this coming Thursday for Gaze’s birthday, we decided on chocolate satin pie instead of a birthday cake. Yummy!

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Scent Diary, Sept. 25 – Oct. 2, 2016

boys-airport-raceSunday, Sept. 25 – Pretty day for a race! The New River Valley Airport (open to cargo and private aircraft) has been under construction to improve its facilities. It had to be closed to air traffic due to the construction, and the manager offered the airport as the site of a 5K race to benefit the high school cross country team. (Thanks, Keith.) SOTD was Chanel No. 19 EdP, delicious. I helped register runners and do administrative stuff; all three of my boys ran in the twilight, with the airport lights shining. Gaze won! And Taz came in first in his age group. The CEO, who ran in high school, finished with a decent time as well. I’m proud.

Monday, Sept. 26 – SOTD was the lovely and comfortable Mariella Burani. Thing’s an aldebomb, but the drydown is just gorgeous. Sigh. I managed to get all the race results tabulated.

Tuesday, Sept. 27 – I am glad to see the end of September (though not quite as grateful as I was for the end of Hateful August!) and the beginning of cooler weather. The CEO brought me some lovely pumpkins and potted chrysanthemums to decorate the porch, and I am happy to be wearing Sonoma Scent Studio Tabac Aurea again. I also picked up a “Pumpkin Spice” Paddywax scented candle at TJ Maxx recently, and it has a mellow tobacco note to it that blends really nicely with Tabac Aurea. Yum.

mvc-noms-sept-2016This seems to be a very good season for Gaze, as well. He was selected as one of the five nominees for Most Valuable Cougar (the cougar being the high school mascot). The program honors students who were voted by their peers as being engaged in many aspects of student life, intellectual, athletic and/or talented, of good character, and friendly. Bookworm was also nominated for this honor her senior year as well. He just won that 5K race, and has now been selected for the Homecoming Court.

Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit! Homecoming Court. Huh. Who’da thunk?

Wednesday, Sept. 28 – Sent off Gaze’s applications for Senatorial recommendations to the service academies today — FedEx. 2-day service, $34, ouch. His application to our Congressman isn’t due until the second week of October; I suspect that if he receives the necessary and sought-after recommendation, it will be from Morgan Griffith and not from Sen. Kaine or Sen. Warner. Virginia’s a tough state to get that recommendation from a senator, because there are just so many students applying for it. Virginia has a large contingent of military families. SOTD is Cuir de Lancome, and I smell faaaabulous.

Thursday, Sept. 29 – I wonder where I put my vintage mini of Lanvin Arpège extrait? The weather is absolutely perfect for it. The box is in the cabinet, but where’s the juice?? Puzzling. Arpège is technically a floral aldehyde, but to me it is far more woody than it is aldehydic. That drydown… sandalwood and vetiver and totally addictive. I am sampling Chanel No. 5 L’Eau today, and while I don’t think it is a total disaster or a stupid waste of time — for some reason, I just don’t like it, due to the presence of that dreaded baby-aspirin/Tang-dust note. Bleargh.

Friday, Sept. 30 – The marching band was not required to attend the football game tonight, so Gaze stayed home to study for tomorrow’s SAT exam, and I didn’t go either. The CEO went, and watched the football team’s first loss of the season. I cuddled up in Ralph Lauren Safari instead. PSA: Safari is Just SO Good.

autumn-bridgeSaturday, Oct. 1 – YAY OCTOBERRRRR!! All my Facebook friends are posting cozy soup recipes and links to cute Halloween crafts and talking about Peak Fall Foliage. I love autumn, too, but I’m just trying to avoid the ugly political beast right now, and I’m sorta skimming through my FB feed with one eye closed (and hiding every single political post that pops up, because UGH NO). SOTD is Soivohle Centennial, because it’s chilly and Centennial is gorgeously fuzzy and warm. I could have worn Organza Indecence, but I think it’s tucked away in a purse I haven’t worn since, like, February.

Sunday, Oct. 2 – I have been reading the series The Wheel of Time, by Robert Jordan (later books co-authored by Brandon Sanderson). I’m still puzzled as to how I missed reading it when it was new in 1990, fantasy-book freak that I was. Maybe I was too busy? Maybe I heard they were too involved? Not sure. As for now, I’m glad I’ve read them, but I’m also glad I waited until the series was complete, because A) I had none of the impatience of having to wait six years for the next book to be published, and B) I don’t love this series. Why not? I don’t know. I don’t mind the ridiculously long cast of characters, nor the glacial pace of the books in the middle of the series (okay, Book 11 was frustratingly slow and very little plot development occurred), or the excruciatingly detailed descriptions, all complaints that have been leveled at the books. I think it’s just that I don’t love any of the characters.

I have, to be honest, given up on GRR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire. I have grown tired of seeing my favorite characters either killed or grown hopeless in the face of loss and despair. I will read no more of that series – and yet I still somehow care what happens to Jon Snow and Arya Stark.

The difference? I have no idea.

SOTD was lovely Teo Cabanel Early Roses, although Late Roses might suit the scent better, with its deep ambery-woody drydown. I still have bright pink blooms on my Knockout Rose bush.

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Early Fall Seasonal Switch, Sept. 2016

early_autumn_path_falling_rays_nature_nice_hd-wallpaper-1592318Autumn is coming. It’s still hot during the day – middle to upper 80sF, but we’re heading into the time of year when it’s a little cool in the mornings, and foggy enough that you must drive with headlights on until the sun burns the fog off. Then it’s wickedly humid and steamy from 11 a.m. until the sun starts to go down around 7 p.m.

And there’s the matter of the light. The earth has tilted enough on its axis that the sunlight has lost its ugly summer glare and become mellow and golden, a blessing on us. The trees are still very green, no leaves changing color yet. Everything is green and gold, glorious, peaceful.

I need that peace. Fall tends to be a hectic time of year at my house, what with marching band in full swing and cross-country. Since The CEO teaches at Virginia Tech and only farms in the summer, we don’t have the crazy weeks of third-cutting haymaking and silo-filling that we used to have when he was farming full-time, thank goodness, but it’s still busy. There’s usually one all-day kid activity every weekend plus a couple of late nights every week (XC meets or football games where the band is playing). There won’t be many of these busy fall-sport seasons left to us: Gaze is a senior and Taz a sophomore. Carpe diem, baby, carpe diem.

Since the weather changed from Ungodly Miserable Sweaty Heat to Still Hot But Less Pit-of-Hell, I switched out some of my summer fragrances for others. I put away DK Gold, with its heady warm lily. I put away Elizabeth Arden Green Tea Yuzu (a $9.99 TJ Maxx purchase) and Moschino Funny!, the light citrusy scents I wear in lieu of cologne proper in horrible summer weather.

This is the current rotation (front to back, left to right):

Yes, that's a 2015 pic of Gaze in his band uniform up there in the corner of my dresser mirror.
Yes, that’s a 2015 pic of Gaze in his band uniform up there in the corner of my dresser mirror.

Front row:
DSH La Fete Nouvelle – the only fragrance I’ve ever found to smell like drying hay: fresh, airy and sweet, like featherlight baked goods made out of grass. La Fete Nouvelle’s got some meadow flowers in it and a sweet musk as well, but it gets the drying hay smell just right and it’s perfect for the tail end of summer. I liked it in the oil version too; don’t know if it’s still being sold.
Carven Le Parfum –  It’s another of the ubiquitous pink chypre Coco Mademoiselle clones, but one that doesn’t set my teeth on edge. The flowers sparkle and the patchouli is very very clean, and the whole thing is just pretty.
Chanel No. 19 eau de parfum – No. 19 is symphonic in the best kind of way, in that I can identify individual notes in it (primarily galbanum, rose, iris and vetiver), but it mostly smells like itself. I like both the softer edp and the sharper-edged edt; there’s also a decant of vintage edt that lives in the Current Rotation Hatbox.
Ines de la Fressange (1999 Calice Becker version) – this is a fruity floral done right, like a mimosa with the balance of champagne and orange juice just perfect. A garden-party sort of fragrance. Sadly, it’s long gone, and my bottle’s getting low. Also, the first minute I see a leaf fall, Ines will go straight into the bedside cabinet.
Second row:
Mary Greenwell Plum – a pink-and-white floral (rose, tuberose, jasmine) sandwiched between a tangy, acidic fruit top and a svelte modern-chypre base.
Smell Bent One – a cozy, sheer spiced wood, lightweight enough for cool evenings.
Teo Cabanel Early Roses – At first you think it’s just another boring fresh/simple rose scent, but the woods and light amber keep it grounded and warm.
Hermes Kelly Caleche eau de parfum – grapefruit, rose, vetiver and leather. Very refreshing. (I find the edt considerably too vegetal. No, thanks, I’d rather not smell like carrot peelings and celery root.)
Mariella Burani eau de toilette – basically, this thing is bergamot, aldehydes, warm-skin musk and vanilla-y benzoin. It doesn’t smell complicated; it just smells nice.  Too bad it’s discontinued.
Back row:
L’Arte di Gucci eau de parfum – Diva hot-pink rose with sculpted cheekbones, wandering an untended Gothic garden barefoot with spike heels dangling from her hand. I don’t wear this one often, but sometimes nothing else will do. It never leaves the current rotation, so that should tell you something. Another discontinued gem.
Parfums de Nicolaï Le Temps d’une Fete – Green and gold glory: galbanum, jasmine, narcissus, sandalwood, a very green-smelling aged patchouli, and honeyed opoponax. Green and gold, green and gold. I’m utterly wrecked that it’s discontinued; even in its later, much lighter, iterations, it was perfect. (I pulled out my empty 2010 bottle the other day – I can’t get the last few drops out via the sprayer, but when I take the cap off I can smell it, a thrumming woody base under all those flowers and all that galbanum, an alto vibrato of emotion.)
Jacomo Silences parfum de toilette (vintage) – Otherworldly silver and green, comtemplative as a Zen Buddhist monk. Again, discontinued, though the modern take on it, Silences eau de parfum Sublime, is pleasant.

This is the hatbox where the current rotation (whatever season) lives on my dresser. The lid keeps light out.
This is the hatbox where the current rotation (whatever season) lives on my dresser. The lid keeps light out.

Not pictured (because the bottle was either on my nightstand or in my big tote purse): Ralph Lauren Safari – I love Safari. Love it. It was not love at first sniff, because I think I’d been expecting it to be a cool green like No. 19, and also the parfum I first tried was heavy on the sweet base notes. But my response to it at the second trial was immeejit Baby-where-you-been-all-my-life.  It’s a dappled, warm, sweet green, and a year-round favorite now.

I’m eagerly awaiting cooler weather. You?

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