BWFs: Tuberose

The Tuberose Series OpenerThe Aztecs called it omixochitl, bone flower. The Mexicans call it nardo de San José, St. Joseph’s staff. Its common name in English refers to the tuberous nature of its bulb. Everybody has an opinion on the flower’s smell! What more is there to say about tuberose that hasn’t already been said by a million people, not to mention perfume bloggers? Fragrantica says: No note in perfumery is more surprisingly carnal, creamier or contradicting than that of tuberose. The multi-petalled flower is a mix of flower shop freshness and velvety opulence. Victoria of Bois de Jasmin says: Nothing captures better the essence of tuberose than its meaning in the language of flowers, used in Victorian England. Tuberose signified both dangerous pleasure and voluptuousness. The scent of the flower is a fusion of white petals and warm skin, an arresting sensual and heady fragrance. On a blotter, tuberose absolute opens up with a faint green note before warming into a sweet jasmine-like scent underscored by a rubbery accord. It vacillates between the coconut sweetness and the warm skin impression, as it dries down.

It’s funny – I don’t have an impression of tuberose as being “sexxxy” – it just smells good to me, luxurious and heady and rich but not slutty in the least. I’ve loved it from the start.

Tuberose is the Queeeeeeeen. She just is. And if you disagree, she will cutchoo. It’s okay with me; I love her. Most people either love her or hate her. For the lovers, here’s a list of BWF’s that feature tuberose, whether as a soliflore or as the centerpiece of the composition. (For the haters, you can keep this list for reference of Things to Avoid.) I’ve tried a number of these; the ones in black text I haven’t. Bolded ones I really enjoy.

glorious tuberoseSoliflores:

By Kilian Beyond Love
Le Galion Tubéreuse (newly rereleased)
DSH Perfumes Tubéreuse
Annick Goutal Tubéreuse
Santa Maria Novella Tuberosa
Caron Tubéreuse
L’Artisan Tubéreuse (discontinued)
Creed Tubéreuse Indiana
Il Profvmo Éclair de Tubéreuse
Serge Lutens Tubéreuse Criminelle (The opening doesn’t work for me, but it’s not the camphor/gasoline/menthol – it’s the rotting raw chicken note in there. Bleargh. Can NOT handle it. If you can get through without smelling that, you’re golden, because the rest of it is a wonderfully uncomplicated, simply-beautiful floral tuberose.)
Prada Infusion de Tubéreuse (infusion de boring, if you ask me)
Prada No. 6 Tubéreuse parfum (limited edition)
Parfumerie Generale PG17 Tubéreuse Couture
I Profumo di Firenze Tuberosa di Autonno
Maître Parfumeur et Gantier Tubéreuse
Hiram Green Moon Bloom (all natural)
Floris Tuberose
Terra Nova Tuberose (oil format)
Bruno Acampora Blu (oil format)

mixed flower tuberose arrangementCompositions:

Honore des Pres Vamp a NY (all natural)
Robert Piguet Fracas (There’s a ton of orange blossom in here, so much so that Fracas actually smells like tuberose-scented cold cream to me. Still the Queen. Still intoxicating.)
Robert Piguet Petit Fracas
Robert Piguet Douglas Hannant
Miller Harris Noix de Tubéreuse
Pilar & Lucy Tiptoeing Through Chambers of the Moon
Mona di Orio Tubéreuse
Versace Blonde (Huge. Somewhat synthetic. But nicer in the parfum.)
Serge Lutens Fleurs d’Oranger (as much tuberose as orange blossom)
Ava Luxe Tuberose Diabolique
Bath & Body Works Velvet Tuberose (YEAH YEAH I LIKE THIS ONE FOR A CHEAP THRILL, SO SUE ME)
Juicy Couture Juicy Couture (Again, SO SUE ME. But it’s really good in the parfum.)
Frederic Malle Editions des Parfums Carnal Flower
Estee Lauder Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia (one of the very few Lauders that doesn’t go nasty on me after 2-3 hours)
L’Artisan Nuit de Tubéreuse
Histoires des Parfums Tubéreuse 1 (Capricieuse), 2 (Virginale), and 3 (Animale)
Dior Poison
Nasomatto Narcotic Venus
Roja Dove Scandal
Giorgio Beverly Hills (It’s dead. Don’t try the new stuff – but the old, despite being huge, was rather nice.)
Diptyque Do Son
Carolina Herrera Carolina Herrera
Parfums DelRae Amoureuse
Givenchy Ysatis
Arquiste Flor y Canto (tuberose and marigold and copal)
ByRedo Flowerhead (tuberose, jasmine and rose)
Parfums d’Empire 3 Fleurs (tuberose, rose and jasmine – pretty but I found it soulless)
Serge Lutens Cedre
Serge Lutens Datura Noir
Karl Lagerfeld Chloe
Givenchy Amarige
Tableau de Parfums (Tauer) Loretta (plum/grape/tuberose/PATCHOULI. A freakfest. Like Poison on acid.)
Guerlain Jardins de Bagatelle
L’Artisan La Chasse aux Papillons (smells like perfumery linden to me, not like tuberose, but everybody ELSE says tuberose)
Annick Goutal Gardenia Passion
Balenciaga Michelle
Madonna Truth or Dare
Kim Kardashian Kim Kardashian
Michael Kors Michael
Providence Perfumes Cocoa Tuberose (all natural)
Anya’s Garden Starflower (all natural)
Aftelier Cepes & Tuberose (another all natural)
Parfums de Nicolaï Number One
Ramon Monegal Kiss My Name
Jean Paul Gaultier Fragile
Amouage Honour Woman
Jil Sander No. 4
Jo Malone Tuberose Angelica

Goodness, there are a LOT of tuberose/tuberose-centric perfumes. A LOT. This is by NO MEANS a complete listing. Rather terrifyingly, I’ve tried 48 out of the 68 listed here (that’s about 71%).

So, is tuberose your BFF, or your worst enemy?

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BWFs: Lily

Gold Band lily. (All photos in this post are from Wikimedia.)
Gold Band lily. (All photos in this post, except the last, are from Wikimedia.)

Lily, in my opinion, isn’t the chiefest among the big white florals, but it’s a lovely one. I won’t get deeply into the definition and explanation of why white florals smell the way they do; I will simply point you in the direction of this blog post and this one by Elena of Perfume Shrine, for further reading.

I love lilies. Madonna lilies, Easter lilies, stargazers, orientals, all of them. I can’t have them in the house, however, unless I snip off the stamens. For one thing, the orange pollen stains, badly. I once ruined a white eyelet dress by getting too close to these monster 6-foot tall white lilies that bloom near the door at our old church. For another, the pollen is murder on my allergies. At that same church, they always used to decorate the rail of the choir loft with lilies at Easter, and before the service was over my head was stopped up and I was sneezing nonstop. Once the stamens are gone, though, I’m just fine.

Stargazer lily.
Stargazer lily.

And the smell – floral, green, spicy, creamy – is heavenly. Luca Turin famously commented that lilies en masse smell like ham, and I don’t really get that specific reference, but I do understand that thick, almost-salty, almost-fleshy smell. It’s gorgeous. It’s funny, but lily scents tend to highlight either the spicy aspects of the flower, or the creamy ones. Hard to find a photorealistic one, and I’m not sure I really want one of those; I’d rather just have a lily in a vase, sans stamens.

Lilies in perfume can sometimes take over – not that I mind that much.

(I’m not talking about lily of the valley, which has a completely different smell. Yes, they’re white florals, but I never think of muguet scents as “Big” white florals. No, not even Diorissimo.)

Easter lily.
Easter lily.

In the lists below, I’ve included both soliflores and scents where lily is the star among other noticeable components. The fragrances I’ve smelled myself are in color, and the bolded ones are favorites of mine. Any lily lovers out there? Please suggest some good ones.

Soliflores:
Serge Lutens Un Lys
Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums Lys Mediterranee
Donna Karan Gold (discontinued)
Cartier Baiser Volé
Annick Goutal Des Lys
Yves Rocher Pur Desir de Lys
DSH Perfumes Madonna Lily
Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Lys Soleia
YOSH Stargazer
Antica Farmacista Casablanca

Mixed lily bouquet.
Mixed lily bouquet.

Compositions:
Cacharel Anaïs Anaïs (a floaty, green mixed floral centered on lily)
Tom Ford Shanghai Lily (spicy lily with milky-incensey woods, sort of as if DK Black Cashmere and DK Gold made a baby)
Ineke Gilded Lily (fruity modern chypre with lily)
Hermes Vanille Galante (lily intersecting with vanilla, a soft billowy scent)
Serge Lutens La Vierge de Fer (stern metallic lily)
L’Artisan Passage d’Enfer (faint lilies and soapy incense)
Oriza L. LeGrand Relique d’Amour (lilies and incense and cold stone – similar in concept to Passage d’Enfer, but in my opinion this one works where Pd’E doesn’t)
Penhaligon’s Lily & Spice (discontinued – lilies, spice and musk)
Le Labo Lys 41 (another soft billowy white floral with gardenia, jasmine and vanilla)
Keiko Mecheri Soussanne (lily, datura, and sandalwood)
Tom Ford Jardin Noir Lys Fumé (lily, ylang, and labdanum)
Jovoy Paris Lys Epona (woody lily)
DSH Perfumes Mother of the Bride (big mixed bouquet of lily, rose, and carnation)
DSH Perfumes 1,000 Lilies (Susinon) (lily, cardamom, sandalwood and incense)

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BWF January

Handmade paper flowers.  I'd rather have a ginormous bouquet of real ones, of course, but since THAT ain't gonna happen, here are these. (Click the picture for details on purchasing these. Not affiliated, I just admire.)
Handmade paper flowers. (Click the picture for details on purchasing these. Not affiliated, I just admire.)

So it’s January, and it’s dreary outside, and I want flowers. Big ones. Big smelly ones.  I keep hearing perfume friends talking about “picking up a couple of stems of tuberose at the market” with which to scent their houses, but I don’t live in a big city with a well-stocked flower market, so that’s out. (I could special order them… at a minimum $75 order, so THAT ain’t gonna happen.)

The Big White Floral, or BWF, is one of the most polarizing genres of perfume available. People either love it or they haaaaaate it, and they bring out the cross and the garlic to defend themselves (sort of the way I get with dusty tolu/patchouli orientals). I, of course, love me a BWF.

Andre', WWE baddie wrestler and consummate showman, who played Fezzik in "The Princess Bride," was a sweetheart... but he was huge. 7'4", 450 pounds huge. Sometimes BWFs are like that.
Andre’, WWE baddie wrestler and consummate showman, who played Fezzik in “The Princess Bride,” was a sweetheart… but he was HUGE. Like 7’4″, 450 pounds huge. Sometimes BWFs are like that. (Photo links to the book at Amazon, but I’ll warn you that the book is roundly panned by readers.)

BWFs can range from soliflores to mixed florals to floral orientals (and possibly even white-floral chypres, depending how strong a floral presence there is), but quite often, the operative word in the sentence is “BIG,” like Andre-the-Giant BIG, and that might be part of the issue. I’m not generally fond of potent sillage, and I prefer to keep my waft within a couple of feet of my person, but I’ll break that rule for a beautiful BWF.

I’m going to list a few of my favorites, just the tip of the iceberg, today, and will follow it up with more detailed listings, organized by central note, over the next couple of weeks. Here are some fragrances that come immediately to mind when I think of BWFs:

Karl Lagerfeld Chloë, the original. It’s still being produced (now by Parfums Chloe), but it’s strictly an online-stock thing now, and it’s had the heart sucked out of it long ago. If you loved it in the late 1970s, don’t bother smelling a new version now, it’ll break your heart. The vintage is still available on eBay, and the three samples I’ve smelled of 80s Chloë all smelled wonderful. This is a big, generous, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink floral on a bed of woods and moss, with peach and citrus and a tiny flourish of aldehydes up top for sparkle.  Carnation and rose are also present, as are muguet, jasmine, and honeysuckle but it is, first and always, a BWF centered on tuberose.

Christian Dior Poison. Yep, the Beast That Ate My College Dorm. It’s tuberose and orange blossom, plus resins and a few spices and a jammy plum so overwhelming you could swim in it. Definitely a white floral and a huge one (the sillage on this, even the reformulated stuff, is monster), but I can only think of it in terms of deep amethyst. Is that marketing, or is it truly a purple smell? I don’t like big sillage, I don’t even like purple, and I still don’t know why this stuff is so addictive.

Frederic Malle Editions des Parfums Carnal Flower. Centered on tuberose, with a lush, fresh jasmine backing it up, it is nonetheless somehow green, with menthol and green leaves up top. I first smelled it on a winter day so cold that warm breath turned to frost, and it was perfect. I’ve worn it on muggy summer days, too, and it was perfect. It’s never been not-perfect for me.

Robert Piguet Fracas. A ton of virtual ink has been spilt over Fracas, the first widely-popular tuberose-centered fragrance, created by Germaine Cellier to serve as the femme-est, pinkest, bombshelliest fragrance evarrrrr.  Despite assertions of it being THE Tuberose Fragrance, it is also completely and utterly jam-packed full of orange blossom, jasmine, gardenia, lilac, peach, and a zillion other things. The orange blossom is particularly prominent to my nose, and Fracas smells like nothing so much as it does a starlet’s dressing table, complete with lipsticks and cold cream and swansdown powder puffs and lavish bouquets.

Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur.  Big bad Black Orchid’s ingenue sister, this EdT version is discontinued. It centers on tuberose and ylang-ylang, with a milky, peppery veil over them. There is a light but persistent oriental base under it, with benzoin and woody notes.  I can’t find the right text color for it, but it’s a sunsetty orange-pink color, pretty but vivid.

More BWFs to come.

 

 

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It’s Cold, but I Smell Good

We haven’t had quite the frozen-tundra effect that some of the rest of the country has had recently (Facebook friends were posting about their under-zero temperatures), but it’s been pretty cold over the past couple of days, getting down to single digits at night… with WIND, giving us a wind chill factor of below zero. Brrrr.

Aren't these gorgeous?
Aren’t these gorgeous?

I’ve been fighting the cold with white florals – looks like my January tuberose/white floral obsession has rolled back around again. I’ve been wearing the following:

Houbigant Orangers en Fleurs. This is a very floral orange blossom with jasmine; a bit soapy but not overly so, as many many orange-blossom fragrances go on my skin. There may be a bit of tuberose in here too.

Robert Piguet Fracas. Not for nothing is Fracas the Queeeeeeeeen – she’s a movie star in cream satin and diamonds, with a dressing room jam-packed with bouquets, and a dressing table littered with cosmetics of every kind, lipsticks and face powders and mascara and beauty patches and eye shadows and kohls and blushers and cold cream. Enormous, and exaggerated to the point of artificiality, but beautiful. This is not, to my mind, “a tuberose perfume.” It’s a mixed white floral in which tuberose and orange blossom share the billing.

Le Galion Tubereuse (2014 rerelease). According to Grain de Musc, the original 1939 version of this tuberose soliflore predated Fracas, and reportedly influenced its creation – though I don’t see a lot of relationship between the two, honestly.  This one is very green and fresh – Fragrantica lists several fruity notes in the rereleased version, fruity notes I don’t get at all. It also lists orange blossom, but pretty much all I get from the Le Galion is tuberose and green leaves.

ByRedo Flowerhead. Tuberose, jasmine, and rose, with some bitterish stuff up top that mimics the delightfully pungent smell of marigold (though reportedly marigold, an important component of the Indian brides’ headdresses that Flowerhead refers to, was too difficult to add to the composition). I was wearing this for the first time when Hayley-dog died, so I’d been reluctant to wear it again, but it is very beautiful.

Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur. Sadly discontinued, this gentler version of the polarizing original (I can’t stand Black Orchid; the florals are completely overwhelmed with a cucumber/dirt thing that smells like dank basements) is heavy on tuberose and ylang, with a milky, peppery veil. I’d like to smell Velvet Orchid, the newest flanker to Black Orchid.

If I hadn’t used  up my sample of Serge Lutens Fleurs d’Oranger – the newer stuff, less packed with cumin than the first version released – I’d be wearing that too, as it’s just as much tuberose and jasmine as orange blossom, and very lovely.

I once looked into getting fresh tuberose stems at the local florist. They were available – by special order, $75 minimum. Wonder if I could force the bulbs, and if so where I could get some…

Anybody else craving white florals in the cold?

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Monday. First one of the year. Yippee.

Friday faceThe boys go back to school on Wednesday, so I got them up at (close to) their usual get-up-for-school times today, to get used to it again – and you wouldn’t believe the ill temper and grouching.

Oh, wait, that was me. I’ve been sleeping as late as 8:30 am… I know, I know, slugabed. 6:45 came way too soon today.

I’ve noticed over the past three or four months that I haven’t felt like trying new fragrances. Sure, I’ve taken sniffs of the newish drugstore cheapies, when I’ve been picking up prescriptions and replacing my mascara, and I think I even got inside the mall once and smelled… oh, what was that thing?  Some Lauder thing, I think, or was it Oscar de la Renta? I can’t even remember. But I have all these samples from Surrender to Chance languishing on my dresser, and I hadn’t been able to muster any enthusiasm for them.

Until today. Today I’m trying a sample of Sisley Soir de Lune, a floral chypre that Luca Turin called a “cheap and nasty knockoff of Parfum de Peau.” You know, I rather liked PdP, at least in small doses, but it’s a bit… okay, it’s raunchy when you get right down into it. Leather and castoreum, if I remember correctly. Soir de Lune reminded me of a cross between L’Arte di Gucci and Coco Mademoiselle, without that screechy quality that Coco Mlle has on me. This is the diva on a Sunday afternoon, lying on her couch and reading romance novels. It’s a modern chypre for sure, and I can see why lovers of the old-school mossy chypres dismiss it, but I am finding it rather pleasant, a “clean” and floral scent giving homage to the rose chypres of the past. This is a Dominique Ropion creation, and I don’t know what his budget was (which often seems to make the difference between Ropion scents that I like and Ropion scents that I don’t), but it has that roundness and self-confidence that I associate with fragrances composed by him.

Anybody familiar with this one?

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Scent Diary, Christmas week 2014

HNY 2015Actually… looks like the last time I wrote any sort of Scent Diary entry was four months ago. It is hopelessly out of date, and I include it here simply for reference.

Monday, Aug. 18 – First full day of school this year – it was a two-hour early release last Friday. Taz almost forgot his lunch, and Gaze forgot his trombone. I had to take it to him.

RAIN. Super rain. All-day rain. It was like the weather on Venus in that Ray Bradbury story, “All Summer in a Day.” (Which, do not read it if you are a) concerned about the scientific feasibility of constant rain on Venus, or b) emotionally sensitive. It will annoy the crap out of you Sheldon Cooper types who have to have all the facts right or the story doesn’t count, in the first case. And it will flat break your heart in the latter case. Oh, but Bradbury is such a genius of the short story.)

SOTD is Ralph Lauren Safari. Again. Man, I could get addicted to this stuff. Fragrantica calls it a Floral Green, but elsewhere I’ve seen it described as a green chypre. Don’t care. I suspect that its style was, well, out of style when it was introduced in the early 1990s: too perfumey. Too green, too loud, too far removed from the smell of “clean” in the days of cKOne and L’eau d’Issey. Not that it’s a dirty perfume exactly; it’s not Joy or Bal a Versailles by any means, but neither does it smell like Windex.
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Wednesday, Dec. 24 – The CEO’s sister J has been visiting. We went to the Christmas Eve service at the church where my mother-in-law attends, and ran into one of my aunts along with my cousin and her husband, so that was lovely too. SOTD was Prince Matchabelli Potpourri, a wonderfully clovey carnation-woods scent (long discontinued, of course – I paid $12 for a full 1 oz bottle via eBay), with a spritz of Parfums de Nicolai Vanille Tonka for the evening.

I notice that my newish bottle of Vanille Tonka is missing its spritely, delightful lime opening. The lime’s still there, but it’s very subdued and there’s more of a root-beer feeling to the scent now. This is not bad, exactly, but I really adored that lime+spice thing. Sigh.

Was up late, but I managed to finish  not only my MIL’s chenille hat but also Bookworm’s Minion Hat. It is ADORABLE. (Here’s a link to the pattern, in case you would like to make it.)

Thursday, Dec. 25 – a quiet Christmas. The kids slept late, we slept late, and it has been so warm that there was no reason for The CEO to go out and have to feed cattle, so we dove into stockings first, and then had breakfast, and then opened presents. No scented gifts for me this year. (Which is okay. To a large degree I feel satisfied with my current collection, though I would of course love a bottle of Iris Poudre. I’ve gotten through a 5ml decant and I have two partial 10ml decants I’m still working on. The only thing that worries me is the impending purchase of Frederic Malle by Estee Lauder… Lauder owns Jo Malone as of Jan 1, 2015, in case you didn’t know that… I would hate for IP to be irrevocably changed because I love it.)

Bookworm loved her crocheted hat! She knew I was making her one… but when she opened her package she kept repeating, “It’s a MINION! It’s a MINION!” and didn’t take it off all day. Success, I proclaim.

We had a lovely dinner with The CEO’s mother and both his sisters, as well as his sister E’s husband and their kids. Very nice. SOTD was Teo Cabanel Alahine, because it smells like joy and Christmas to me, and it’s become tradition over the past five years to wear Alahine on Christmas.

Friday, Dec. 26 – We spent the morning of Boxing Day at home, straightening up a bit, before heading on to my parents’ house for Christmas Part II. I wore Alahine again, of course, because that is My Christmas Perfume, Period. I love Alahine so much. We had a nice time with family – a nice meal, an excellent time Skyping with my sister. My father recently replaced his 10-year-old Sebring with a Jeep crossover vehicle which seems rather sporty for him… in any case, he gave us the Sebring for one of the kids to use. I think he’d intended it for Gaze, who will be eligible for his driver’s license next month, but we decided that it might make more sense for Bookworm to drive it back and forth to Connecticut. Even with the $400 garage fee charged by the university, and the gas for it, it might be cheaper than airline flights! We’re still waffling on its name. Sebastian? Sabrina? Seabiscuit?* And Gaze, in any case, wants to drive the Ranger, which is way more “manly” than the Sebring.

*Yes, we are those annoying people who name their cars. Cameron (The CEO’s Camry, which is blue) and Stevie Ray Van (my Caravan, which is red) and Walker (the Ranger, which is black) refuse to share the driveway with an unnamed vehicle. ;)

Saturday, Dec. 27 – sunny day, temperatures in the 50s. Niece and nephew came over before the Virginia Tech – Cincinnati bowl game and hung out, and then The CEO’s mom and sisters and brother-in-law came over to watch the game. (My mother-in-law doesn’t have ESPN. In fact, she doesn’t have cable. Nor does she have internet access, or a computer, or even a touch-tone phone. She does have a cell phone, but only turns it on when she’s away from home and wants to ask someone a question. On the other hand, she seems to be getting along just fine.) So we did the basic house clean-up super-fast, and then settled in with some pizza to watch the Hokies trounce the Bearcats. SOTD was Caron Parfum Sacré, reapplied before dinner back over at the MIL’s house.  VT won the game, btw. Everyone was happy.

We have now determined that Gaze is a couple of inches taller than his same-age cousin Curiosity, Taz is now just a hair under my 5’4” height, and the cousin that’s Taz’s age, Primrose, is maybe half an inch taller than Bookworm. Everybody’s been growing except Bookworm, and she finally seems to have accepted that she’s just going to be a peanut. She did comment to me, however, that her friends have told her that she seems like a bigger person than her actual size – possibly because of her confidence and her grown-woman speaking voice.

By the way, I still don’t know why none of the Carons have captured my heart. True, the classic ones seem to have been reformulated badly, but even the vintage-ish stuff I’ve tried has seemed flat and dull to me. I did like Aimez-Moi, which was a more modern composition, but to be honest I never wore it so I traded it off to someone who loves it. Have I been influenced by the lukewarm reactions of Perfumes: The Guide? Perhaps. But I think it’s more likely that I simply don’t have an affinity for the style. I expected to find Narcisse Noir interesting, but the current stuff is way more orange blossom than narcissus, sort of a little girl’s yellow dotted-swiss dress, and the vintage sample I tried was so boring that I kept checking to see that the sample service hadn’t given me Narcisse Blanc by mistake. Tabac Blond is a wack combination of sweet, oily and musty, and Nuit de Noel is all that plus moss. The lovely Blacknall of A Perfume Blog sent me a sample of Or et Noir, which is said to be the precursor of Parfum Sacre, and I found that one difficult to wear, as its first hour or so is a sour, insistent rose soliflore before it relaxes into a beautiful soft ambery, mossy-woods drydown. (I suspect that it’s geranium I dislike so much in the rose scents that go sour on me.) Now, I do like Poivre, very much.

Sunday, Dec. 28 – a gray morning. Niece and nephew came over and played with our kids; I took a nap. We all went to church in the evening (our church, which normally meets at a local school on Sunday mornings, uses the sanctuary of another local church on Sunday evenings in the month of December) with my mother-in-law, as well as E and K, Primrose and Curiosity. Leftovers for dinner and football on TV… rain outside. SOTD: Organza Indecence, so cozy.

Monday, Dec. 29 – RAIN. Bleargh. A quiet day. SOTD was Shalimar Light. My first bottle of it (after the 5ml mini) is half gone; luckily I have one more stashed away. Best Lemon/Dirty-Vanilla EVAH. Made a batch of Nell’s Boiled Custard (YUM)!

Tuesday, Dec. 30 – The CEO’s laptop, or at least its screen, died last night and all attempts to revive it have failed so far. This is the Horrible! Clicky! Computer that I hate and despise because its “enter” key noise is so, well, offensively clicky that I literally cannot bear to be in the same room with it, so I am ambivalent about the matter. I’m sorry he’ll have to deal with the annoyance of a nonfunctioning computer, but maybe Virginia Tech will give him a new laptop that’s quieter.

Incidentally, over the month of November I found out that I have misophonia. That is, there is a name for the irrational feelings of rage/frustration one feels when hearing certain (generally soft and repetitive) noises. There is a NAME FOR IT, PEOPLE!! I am not (entirely) crazy! Gum chewing/popping… chewing sounds in general… the sound of toe/fingernails being clipped… that blasted clicky computer… gah. I have to leave the room. I cannot stand to sit in front of people who are innocently, but ANNOYINGLY, crunching popcorn at the movie theater. It is with the greatest difficulty that I restrain myself from turning around and killing them utterly dead. But at least I am not craaaaazy, even if very few people believe me about the soft-noise rage.

Yesterday’s rain turned to snow overnight, and we woke to a light dusting of the white stuff outside, though it isn’t particularly cold. SOTD: Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur. Mmmm, white florals.

Wednesday, Dec. 31 – Glad to see 2014 go, for some reason. The CEO and Gaze have been watching college football bowl games most of the day, and I’ve been writing some, and doing a few year-end errands. My new Tracfone Android phone arrived today but is not completely functional yet; Taz will be getting my old phone when my new one works. Hope he doesn’t lose this one as he did his first phone and his second (a castoff from his brother); I’ve been fond of that phone.

The Christmas decorations come down tomorrow. Three weeks of those are about all I can manage, though I have friends who enjoy having theirs up for nearly two months. I can’t do it. I don’t mind leaving my nutcrackers out into the second week of January, but the tree has to go, and the garland and lights on the porch railing do too. Incidentally, the whole my-Christmas-tree-is-trying-to-kill-me thing seems to have been confined to the Canaan fir varietal. We had another Fraser fir this year and I’ve had no problems. And it was lovely, too.

SOTD is Memoir Woman. Mmmmmmmmm. I got an order from Beauty Encounter today – a candle that was on clearance/sale, plus a few samples and some mini shower gels. And my new crockpot, ordered from Amazon with my gift card, came today too! Yay! Delicious ham for dinner, and I’ve got an El Cheapo bottle of pink moscato (HEY! Don’t judge me!) in the fridge for The CEO and I to share at midnight.

 

Wishing everyone a wonderful, fragrant 2015!

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Goodbye 2014

Goodbye-2014-card2014, we hardly knew ye.

Or maybe I’d just prefer to skip over the year, filled as it has been with political crap and turmoil and…

Oh wait. That’s hardly unusual. Nebmind.

It wasn’t a bad year, I suppose, at least personally. The family is generally okay. The fiction writing is going slow but not badly. The blogging stunk this year… and I really don’t have a reason for that, except maybe that one new commenter who skeered the bejesus out of me earlier in the year. Or the gazillion changes to the blog theme/image. Or the fact that everybody else seems to have so much to say about perfume, and lately, I kinda just want to smell it without talking about it. I dunno.

There have been some changes here in the house, too: Gaze suddenly got tall! He’s now standing even with his dad at 5′ 10.5″. And Taz got tall-er! He’s shot up four inches since this summer, when he passed Bookworm, and now he’s only got about a quarter of an inch to go to be as tall as I am, at 5′ 4.5″. Gaze now has five ewes for his FFA project, and will be eligible for his driver’s license next month. (You may pray for me at any time, thank you.) Bookworm had a difficult and stressful fall semester of her sophomore year at Yale, but seems to be settling down now. Taz insisted on giving up trumpet in his last year of middle school, which makes me a little sad because someday I won’t be a Band Mom anymore. Gaze has both sets of braces, upper and lower, on his teeth now. He says it affects his trombone playing, but it doesn’t mess too much with his good looks. ;) The CEO is still teaching business classes in the Agriculture Technology school at Virginia Tech, and we still own seedstock bulls.

I plan to be posting one article a week this year, or at least one a week. I’ve got a haphazard sort of Scent Diary to post, and I hope to pick it back up on a regular basis, but I may write some new reviews as well.

Wishing anybody who might still be reading, after four months of silence, a wonderful year. Smooches.

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Green and Gold

mountainsIt’s September. It’s the Autumnal Equinox, and I’ve been watching the color of the sunlight shift ever so slightly away from hot summer glare, almost metallic, to the gentle warmth of Autumn afternoons.

The whole world is green and gold, rimmed in deep blue enamel. I love this time of year. Soon enough the mountains will go all russet tweed, but not yet.  For now I am wearing green and gold perfumes and glorying in this all-too-brief weather. It’s perfect.

Horse chestnut tree in autumn
Horse chestnut tree in autumn

Parfums de Nicolai Le Temps d’une Fete is still beautiful, even in its current eau de toilette state. The old stuff was labeled EdT, but it wore more like an EdP – deep, rich, floral but glowing woody underneath. Almost too wistfully gorgeous to bear. Smells like sunshine through leaves.

Ralph Lauren Safari is another green-and-gold I am learning to love, after finding the parfum version too sweet. Safari smells like cut grass drying into hay, plus freshly waxed wood furniture and a hint of vanilla. Its green shades straw-colored, and its gold is the warm gold of polished maple.

Guerlain Chamade is a round ball of bitter-green that gradually melts into the creamy pale gold of good custard, from cold shoulder to surrender.

Cstormy fieldoty Chypre (the really old stuff, not the 1980s Chateau Collection rerelease) is an elemental green, and there is a power and strength to it that smells like being outside with a storm approaching… eerie billowing shadows of clear olive green and dark gold.

There are other green fragrances, certainly, and I’ve made no bones about how much I love greenies in general, but these four capture my heart in early fall. Soon enough I’ll want leathers and spices and dried fruits, Smell Bent One and Givenchy Organza Indecence and Jolie Madame and Amouage Memoir Woman… but for now, I luxuriate in mellow, vibrant green and gold.

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Mini-Review Roundup, Sept. 19, 2014

roundupYee-haw!!! A mini-review roundup again, after, like, months.

Guerlain Vol de Nuit (modern EdT, from Surrender to Chance) – after a brief hit of galbanum, this smells like… um… nothing, really. Musty nothing. I keep spraying it multiple times, trying to find it, but it is so pale it’s like it doesn’t WANT to be found. The notes list and descriptions I’ve read say that this is supposed to be a woody oriental. The only thing I can call it is confusing.  I’ve heard that the current version isn’t good (see Victoria’s comparisons of vintage and current Guerlains at Bois de Jasmin), but I assumed it was another one of those “compared to the old stuff it’s terrible.” Boy, they weren’t kidding. It’s awful. Doesn’t even smell like a Guerlain to me, whatever that means. (Notes: bergamot, galbanum, petit grain, jasmine, daffodil, spices, iris, vanilla, amber and woody notes.)

Carven Ma Griffe (vintage EdT, again from Surrender to Chance). Another big hit of galbanum to start, but also a blast of decaying aldehydes, followed by moldering whitish floralish stuff and then a ton of vetiver and musk. Vetiver/musk/aldehydes seems to pop up a lot in fragrances that had their heyday in the 1960s and 1970s (Madame Rochas, Rive Gauche, Prince Matchabelli Cachet – and even in the wonderful Chanel No. 19), but I don’t like it. It bores the crap out of me. The reason I love No. 19 and like Annick Goutal Heure Exquise is the galbanum-iris-rose stuff, not the vetiver-musk. Borrrrring.  I thought I’d love this. Nope.  (Notes: aldehydes, gardenia, green notes, asafoetida, clary sage, lemon, iris, orange blossom, orris root, jasmine, ylang-ylang, lily of the valley, rose, labdanum, sandalwood, cinnamon, musk, benzoin, oakmoss, vetiver and styrax.)

Also, I hear that Carven has reorchestrated and rereleased this one with a “soft” rollout, no heavy advertising, but I can’t find a sample of the current version anywhere. Guess you have to live in Europe to get it, even though their recent Le Parfum is available in the US.

Speaking of which, I really enjoyed my carded spray sample of Carven Le Parfum. So pretty. So, so, SO pretty. I am often just as thrilled with a just-so-pretty floral fragrance as I would be if you came up and thrust a dewy bouquet right into my arms. I’m not ashamed.

sweet-pea-0210-lIn any case, Carven Le Parfum starts off with citrus and a tart apricot note, and then quickly eases into a gentle mixed-white-floral. It is clearly a Francis Kurkdjian fragrance, which is generally a good thing from my viewpoint – I like FK’s stuff, generally. There’s some clean patchouli in it, which absolutely ruined Elie Saab Le Parfum (also composed by Kurkdjian) for me, but here it isn’t too hijacky, it’s just a support for the lovely florals to rest on.  I’d say that it skews a bit younger and more innocent than the Elie Saab, and despite the apricot, less sweet to my nose. The hyacinth is prominent to my nose, but it does also actually smell like sweet peas, which my mother used to grow up against the wood fence in our yard when I was a child. The only other sweet pea fragrance I can recollect trying was Lolita Lempicka’s Si Lolita, which was also jam-packed with pink and black peppers, but ended with a lightweight amber. That one was sweeter, and spicier, less floral in character.

I like it. If I owned this, I’d wear it. So what if it’s not groundbreaking or dramatic? It’s pretty.  Fragranticans are calling it “sweet,” but it’s real fruit as opposed to the fakey-fakey stuff I call “froot,” and as I say, not particularly what I would call sweet. No cotton candy here, though if you’re a fan of dry, woody, incensey stuff you’ll probably hate it.  (Notes: mandarin blossom, apricot, white hyacinth, sweet pea, jasmine, ylang, sandalwood, osmanthus, and Indonesian patchouli.)

Historiae Jardin De Le Notre – apparently this was an exclusive fragrance created for sale for the Domain of Chantilly at the Le Notre Gardens, and it’s no longer available. But it’s a pretty, gardeny floral that came my way as a carded sample, and I enjoyed it so I’m discussing it.  It starts out with a green-leaves accord, which slides into an attractive mixed-floral bouquet (rose, hyacinth, lily of the valley). The notes list on the card also includes gardenia, but that’s clearly delusional; I get a lot of clean jasmine out of this. It eventually goes a little screechy, but not more so than my 2006 Diorissimo; I just have less tolerance for that these days, and after three or four hours, I’m ready for something else.

DSH Perfumes Peony – this is, well, peony. Plus a bit of rose and a good bit of greenness, and it is another bundle of pretty flowers atop a tiny bit of musk to extend the florals. I like it a lot, though not quite as much as the delicate, lovely peony/fresh-rose MDCI Rose de Siwa. But I can’t afford Rose de Siwa, so if you loved that you might want to check out DSH Peony.  (Notes: peony, grass, green leaves, rose.)

Van Cleef & Arpels Collection Extraordinaire California Reverie - OOOOOH, I said to myself upon smelling it for the first time.  Citrus floral! So pretty!  That lasted a fairly long time for this sort of light floral thing, at least about three hours, before I started getting tired of the jasmine.  (Notes: mandarin orange, neroli, jasmine sambac and frangipani, beeswax and vanilla.)  If I owned this, I’d respray every two hours for the addictively beautiful citrus-floral opening.  And then I’d kick myself for literally blowing, like, $2 a spritz.

Parfums d’Empire Corsica Furiosa – not “furiosa” at all.  Nope. It’s a pleasant herb-garden fantasy with grass and plenty of tomato leaf, and something that smells like juniper to me, as well as some light woody notes. Stays green all the way through, but it is quite light and fleeting, with minimal sillage to me.  Reading Kafkaesque’s review of it has me wondering if I *am* anosmic to ISO E Super after all, because I’m not picking up rubbing alcohol or pepper at all, and Corsica Furiosa is so light! There and gone. (Notes: mastic, lime, grass, hay, honey, moss, labdanum, mint, tomato leaf, pepper.)

I’ve also recently tested Piguet Douglas Hannant, which reminded several people (including me) of a lightened-up Fracas. Then I reacquainted myself with Fracas. I’m planning on a Throwdown for those two soon.

Enjoy the weekend! Our high school football team travels about 75 miles away for tonight’s game (WHAT were they thinking, scheduling that? Driving right past a dozen other schools? Silly), so the band isn’t going. I get a rare band-mom night off. :)

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Well, this is embarrassing…

After all that hullabaloo about the blog format and finally going with that girly Parisienne-ish black and pink, and the back-and-forth of “I can’t read it,” from my husband and “I have no problems” from some readers and “the background’s in the way” from others…

It transpires that the black and pink was actually sort of making me feel depressed.  I don’t mean Clinically Depressed, because I have family members and friends who deal with that, and I spent a good 4-5 months being it several years ago. I know what that looks like/feels like, and I don’t mean that. I mean simply that looking at that pretty black and pink made me feel heaviness of spirit.

Frankly it made me want to avoid my own website.

This just in: that’s a bad sign.

It’s funny how much color affects us, isn’t it?  I’m sure there are those of us that it affects more than others, and the marketing gurus absolutely know that. There’s a reason why McDonald’s uses red and yellow, for example. I’d like to think that I’m at least aware of the practice, and I do try to stick to my shopping lists (and coupons) wherever possible. As a matter of fact, I buy a lot of house brands, so unless I’ve found a house brand to be unsatisfactory (i.e., house brand Cheerios always get the texture wrong), I’m usually spending the least amount I can.

My bedroom walls are painted the color of this door. I love this color, though I admit it isn't particularly flattering ON me.
My bedroom walls are painted the color of this door. I love this color, though I admit it isn’t particularly flattering ON me.

But I digress. There are colors I like to live with, and colors that make me feel down, unenergetic, just-plain-wrong. I like the colors in my house. My bedroom is painted a soft buttery yellow, and the wall hangings and bed linens are a gentle silvery blue and cream, with accents of sage green (in summer I switch to a white comforter). I love turquoise and coral and pink and apple green; I love tan and tomato red and Delft blue too.

I don’t want to live with black, and I suppose that furnishing my blog with that much of it was a bad idea for me. So. I’ll be trying this blog theme out to see if I can live with it.

As for fragrance? I’m in that transitional niche, where as the weather is changing to Really Autumn, I’m setting aside my light florals. Ralph Lauren Safari, Parfums de Nicolai Le Temps d’une Fete, and Cuir de Lancome are getting a lot of wear these days. And I need to go dig out my decant of Dior Cuir Cannage, because I think it would be lovely in this cool, rainy weather.

Oh, and I’m behind on Project Perfume Divestiture. The dog has now eaten three perfume boxes (an Ungaro Diva mini box, the box for Rochas Tocadilly, and the one for… oh, a Love, Chloe mini I think it was). He has not yet tried to eat any actual perfume bottles, but GAH it is like living with a toddler, and I’m kind of frightened to get the To-Be-Divested box out of the cabinet again.  I’m WORKING ON IT, I swear.

 

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September Start

Here-Comes-September-August-2013Yay, it’s September. Have I mentioned how much I hate August? I hate August.

On the other hand, somebody forgot to tell Mother Nature that the calendar flipped over, and it is mizzzzerably muggy around here. They’re even letting the kids out of school two hours early today because of the projected heat index.

(I’m quite sure all the Floridians are laughing. However, I bet all the schools in Florida are air-conditioned. They’re not, here. Both county middle schools and at least one elementary school are un-air-conditioned.  Heat on the upper floor of the middle school where Taz goes has occasionally topped 85F, and it is even worse at the elementary school all three of my kids attended.  The elementary school – built on the cheap according to plans drawn by an architect who specialized in strip malls – has tiny, tiny windows, and its halls are not constructed for air flow. The heat at DES can be over 90F. The school board has been trying, for the last two and a half years that The CEO has been on it, to convince the county Board of Supervisors to build a new consolidated middle school to replace these badly-aging structures and to substantially renovate that one elementary school. I think everyone agrees that something must be done at the elementary school, but there is ongoing argument about what should be done with regards to the middle schools. AAAARRRRGGGHHH. If  one new school had been built in the 1990s and another in the early 2000s, as planned, we wouldn’t be in this mess. However, it was apparently felt that the buildings were “adequate for now,” and construction/substantial renovation was put off until renovation is no longer a good and inexpensive option. But nobody wants to spend the money to build a new school, even though renovating two schools is nearly as expensive as building a new one, centrally located near the high school.)

Gaze is going to go to cross-country practice with Taz – there’s a meet on Saturday – for the short workout Coach O has planned, then come home, shower, eat something, and zip back to the high school around 4 pm for a trombone sectional before the band has their pregame practice at 5.  The football game will start at 7 pm, assuming that the storm seen approaching on the weather radar misses us.  I’m supposed to help sell pizza on the visitor side of the stadium – I cannot imagine that it will be any more comfortable for us than it will be for the band, or for the football team, tonight.

plumNow Smell This has a scent challenge going on this weekend: Wear the same fragrance for four days, starting Friday, and see if you notice something new about it, or simply describe the experience. Most of us fragheads switch every day, and sometimes wear more than one fragrance a day (I frequently do), so this ought to be interesting.  I’m going to go with Mary Greenwell Plum, which I love.

Incidentally, it is getting tough to find Plum in the US nowadays. If you go to the Mary Greenwell website, it’s still listed, but clicking on  the picture takes you directly to Harrods. Harrods, in case you don’t know, is an iconic British retailer, and they don’t ship perfume to the US. LuckyScent no longer carries Plum (they still have Lemon), and I suspect that Ms. Greenwell’s low brand recognition in the States has led to a loss of US distributorship.  It’s a shame, too.

Hunter Dog is kind of driving me nuts, just Being a Puppy.  He’s a funny thing – but he came into the bedroom this morning and sort of flopped his head down in my lap so I could pet him. It was sweet. He’s still doing weird stuff like licking the carpet and the dishwasher, ripping covers off paperback books (my blood pressure just spiked, writing that), and whining like a baby when he wasnts to go sniff things, but he’s sweet too. He went with me in the car to drop Gaze off at school today, and as soon as Gaze got out, Hunter commenced the pleady I want to get out! whine. It lasted until we got home, too.

Hope your weekend is good.  Feel free to share plans, if you like, and your scent of the day.

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Labor Day, 2014

Happy Labor Day to my fellow Americans!

I have, again, sorely neglected to keep my Scent Diary up to date, so you’re getting a summary.  That’s The Way It Is. (Heavy sigh.)

outlanderI’ve been watching “Outlander” on Starz.  I’ve loved the books ever since I picked up the first one in the series (which now stands at eight books, with at least one more in the works), in 1995. It was a good fat book, and it seemed to involve Scotland and a romance, so I figured it might be good reading material for what I was doing at the time. Namely, sitting on the couch and nursing my first baby. Bookworm did not have a good handle on this breastfeeding thing – and neither did I, to be honest. Besides that, she was a small six-pound baby and wanted to nurse every two hours around the clock.

Let me repeat that: around the clock. Every two hours. Without fail.   So I was spending something like 10 hours a day parked in one spot. I needed stuff to read.  And I was quickly engrossed in the story of Claire, a WWII nurse suddenly transported back 200 years in time, without a way to get home, forced to escape the perverted interest of an army captain by way of marrying a young Scotsman.

Ah, Jamie Fraser… if you can find me a woman who’s read the books and not fallen for Jamie Fraser, I’ll tell you that she is either a newlywed or has no heart.

Taz at Grand Tetons, a selfie using his dad's camera and tripod.
Taz at Grand Tetons, a selfie using his dad’s camera and tripod.

I’ve sampled a few new things, as well as a few fragrances new to me. More about that coming, but here’s the list: Carven Le Parfum, Robert Piguet Douglas Hannant, and Dame Perfumery Pear, Waterlily and Amber.  I have re-explored Monyette Paris (oil format) and Robert Piguet Fracas, plus Sonoma Scent Studio Yin & Ylang.

What I would love to know is, why can’t I find a manufacturer sample of the rereleased Carven Ma Griffe? I read somewhere that it was considered a “soft” launch, not much fanfare… but NO samples?  Perhaps this is a US problem only, and there are at least testers available in multiple places in Europe. I did once buy a mini of the vintage stuff on eBay, but it was truly spoilt so I still don’t know how it was meant to smell.  I’m very interested in smelling the new, anyway.

Bookworm with her sax.
Bookworm with her sax. Photo by YPMB Photogs.

Bookworm went back to school on the 23rd. She seems to have settled in just fine. She’s in a suite with four other girls – Kat, Maya, Sophia, and her roommate, Ring – and practices for the Yale Precision Marching Band have already started.  (Ring is Chinese, and that’s her English-language use-name because apparently her Chinese name is difficult for Americans to pronounce.)

Gaze is a sophomore in high school, and Taz is an eighth-grader.  They’re out of school today for the holiday, and so is Bookworm, for that matter, but Virginia Tech held classes today, so The CEO is teaching today.  We’re going to a potluck meal with my extended family for lunch today, and when we get home, I intend to rearrange my perfume cabinet. There are some bottles in there that I’m not wearing, and I want to organize them and prepare them for sale on eBay. Never done that before, so that will be a new experience.

(Perhaps I shall offer them for sale here first? Think I will. Don’t expect any hidden gems, though.  It’ll be mostly mainstream stuff – no 1930s Vol de Nuit or anything like that.  I probably will slough off my two purchases of 1980s Coty Chypre, however. That is tough to find. I just don’t love it, not the way I adore the really vintage stuff. In any case, I will take pictures and post things for sale here, and leave that post up for a week or ten days, after which everything goes straight to listing on eBay.  I’m sorry to say that I will only be shipping within the US; attempts to mail out of the country have gone very badly for me. Paypal only.)

Gaze with his trombone.
Gaze with his trombone. Photo by Stacey Utt.

The high school had their first football game Friday. We lost 28-8. Miserable.  The band did well, though.  Weather’s been odd for August – very wet, continuing the rain that marked the last half of July.  Just in the last week or so, it’s been hot and humid, which is more like our usual August. I hate August.  And last week, the cross-country team hosted a scrimmage against a school from a neighboring county. The course was laid out over land that we own or rent, and it’s an extremely tough one: hills and varying surfaces (paved road, gravel road, grass).  Finishing times were  slow, and although that must have been partly because the course was so new that no one had run it before (except Gaze, who’d run it once) and partly because the temperatures were brutally hot.  We did not exactly cover ourselves with glory, but we had all of our boys finish, including the two middle-school boys, Noah and Taz.

 

The dog is driving me crazy. It’s like living with a toddler.  Out! In! Out! In! Investigate the goats! Bark at nonexistent threats!  Attempt to steal food and eat inappropriate things like quarters and pieces of plastic! On the other hand, he’s sweet. And he hasn’t really destroyed anything… much.  Except three shoes, one of his leashes, several used tissues, a plastic bag, one of The CEO’s socks that he bit a hole in, one of Taz’ socks that he bit the heel completely out of, his plastic Frisbee, and half a pan of cinnamon rolls he snagged off the counter (I don’t want to know what acrobatic feats he accomplished to even reach the pan).  I can’t watch him every single second! Sometimes I have to go to the bathroom!

Hunter is spoiled rotten!
Hunter is spoiled rotten!

Fragrances I’ve been wearing recently: Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Ete, Mary Greenwell Plum, Penhaligon’s Eau Sans Pareil, LeLong pour Femme, Chanel 1932 edt, Guerlain Vega, Dame Perfumery Black Flower Mexican Vanilla, Maison Francis Kurkdjian Lumiere Noire pour Femme, Parfums de Nicolai Le Temps d’une Fete, and Ralph Lauren Safari.  I even pulled out Amouage Memoir Woman for a bedtime spritz last night. (It was lovely.)  I’ve been trying to wear decants, and I’m going to try to continue that focus into the future.

I purchased two inexpensive blind buys off eBay recently: Lucienne von Doz Lucienne, and a nearly-anonymous vintage thing in a vaguely Avon bottle, called Chypre d’Amboise and labeled Paris. I haven’t worn it yet. I’ll report on Lucienne soon as well.

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