Mid-November 2015

Yeah, it’s been a long time since I visited this site, much less wrote a post. Much less published one.


And I’m neck-deep in NaNoWriMo again, so I don’t have a lot of time to be crafting blog posts and finding images and putting in links and responding to comments (though I will. Promise).  But NaNo is going well: I’m currently up to 36,000+ words and the month is only half over. Moreover, I know where this story is going and I feel confident that not only will I reach 50,000 in plenty of time, I will also have a completed or mostly-complete rough draft of a novel that I will then be able to polish and start shopping around to agents. That “completing the rough draft in a month” was the part I had trouble with before. Instead, I was stretching out scenes and writing miles of dialogue in order to reach my word counts.

proclaimers do nanowrimoNot this time. This time, I have a story skeleton, and I’m just trying to get enough padding to drape over it, with the skin to complete and the finishing touches to come later. I am psyched.

As for perfume, after a period of several months when I wasn’t interested in testing anything new at all and forget writing about it, well, I’m back. :) Have been testing some newer perfumes and some that aren’t newly released but are new to me, and that’s been pretty cool. Hope to have some reviews coming in December.

I could do a “fall perfumes” post for 2015, but every single thing on it would be something I’ve mentioned in previous “fall perfumes” posts. Quick rundown, in case you missed those posts and are not interested in hunting them down: Cuir de Lancome, Smell Bent One, Donna Karan Black Cashmere, Guerlain Shalimar Light, Givenchy Organza Indecence, Parfums de Nicolai Le Temps d’une Fete, and Ralph Lauren Safari. (Well, no, I’ve recommended Safari before but I don’t think for fall. This just in: Safari is one of those things I have fallen madly in love with no matter the season. )

The PCHS band at a football game in October. That's Gaze nearly front and center, with the silver baritone horn. Photo by Fritz Streff.
The PCHS band at a football game in October. That’s Gaze nearly front and center, with the silver baritone horn. Photo by Fritz Streff.

The marching band just finished another successful season. Unfortunately, they juuuuust missed receiving a Superior rating at their state marching assessment, so they won’t be a Virginia Honor Band this year. However, I have no doubt that next year will be a banner year. This year’s show was “The Madness of an Imaginary World,” an Alice in Wonderland theme, with original music, voiceover, and fiendishly difficult drill. (I sometimes wonder if a less difficult show might have gotten them that Superior. But I’m not the director.) The show had to grow on me, but it did grow, and I was very proud of “my kids.” By its final iteration, the show included not only an Alice running across the tops of the drums and dancing with one of the percussion guys, but an “off-with-their-heads” maneuver by the trombone section. It was fun.

Chris, Cole, Gaze, Jake, and Noah (part of the varsity team), at the regional meet. Photo by David Gravely.
Chris, Cole, Gaze, Jake, and Noah (part of the varsity team), at the regional meet. Photo by David Gravely.

Gaze withdrew early on from Governor’s School, after he decided that he did not really want to go on to college to study math or hard sciences. His skills tend to lie in more “soft sciences” like psychology and economics, and he’s not interested in engineering or medical school either. So when we found out that he was miserable, and that the high school offers many, many more AP courses than they used to when Bookworm was there, we decided that it would be best for him to refocus on his strengths instead of staying up half the night to do coursework in subjects he didn’t enjoy.

One-shoe Taz Sept 2015Gaze and Taz both had a good cross-country season. Taz, as a 9th grader, lost a shoe partway through a race, early in the season, but finished well, and his times continued to improve all season. Gaze’s times improved too but not as much as he had hoped. All the same, though, I’m very proud of them and the team in general. The boys’ team did win their conference and finished 10th of 24 in the region. (Check out those ripped quads on ma boy there. Beast legs, man.  😉 )

Bookworm has been so busy with her class schedule this semester that she hasn’t had much opportunity to do anything with the band at college. She’s competed in Ultimate Frisbee tournaments with her team, but I don’t think she’s even had as much time to spend with that group as she’d have liked. But here’s a shot of her being awesome, ’cause she is. Yale Ramona Coffee Cup tournament, 2015

The CEO recently ran for the county Board of Supervisors and won his district. He’ll finish his term on the School Board next month, and take over the retiring supervisor’s seat in January.

I’m so proud of all of them. Heck, I guess I could say that I’m proud of myself too.

So. ‘Sup with y’all?


Random Thoughts, early August 2015

I have yet to get my paws on The CEO’s SD card and post some of his gorgeous pictures from our New Zealand trip, but maybe I can pin him down soon.

I still hate August.

Around here, cornbread is properly made in a cast-iron skillet. God forbid you present Bookworm with any other kind... it offends her delicate sense of order.
Around here, cornbread is properly made in a cast-iron skillet. God forbid you present Bookworm with any other kind… it offends her delicate sense of order.

Bookworm is home for a few weeks! Summer session at Yale ended this past week, and she got home on Sunday evening. Fall classes start on September 2, so she has a little bit of time to breathe and soak in some farm-fresh air.  We made cornbread and pinto beans and country ham – foods she can’t get in CT. Well, they sometimes have cornbread in the dining hall, but it’s made with sugar and a much higher proportion of flour to cornmeal, so that it tastes like cake rather than the coarse savory skillet cornbread she prefers. (The addition of sugar to a cornbread recipe is a much-debated issue among Southern cooks, but of course the American South is such a wide area that “real Southern cornbread” has immense variation. I won’t be insulting and state that a recipe containing sugar can’t be “real Southern,” but my mother’s recipe doesn’t contain any. The first time I ever ate sweet cornbread was at the historic Michie Tavern, near Monticello, when I was seventeen, and I was horrified.)

Gaze started his classes at the Southwest Virginia Governor’s School for Science and Technology last week. Bookworm went through the program, which coordinates its classes through Virginia’s community college system, and found it valuable in teaching her study skills and in preparing her for college. It is a challenging curriculum, but I feel sure Gaze is up to it. SWVGS pulls from the surrounding seven counties, but it is located within a ten-minute drive of our high school, so that’s fairly convenient. Classes run from 7 am to approximately 10 am, and then the students return to their own high schools for the remainder of the day.

This year's marching band show shirts.
This year’s marching band show shirts.

We had a very successful two weeks of band camp (including a week of “pre-camp,” which focuses on fundamental marching techniques). It’s a difficult program this year, all original music, and the marching drill is challenging as well. The show title is “The Insanity of an Imaginary World,” and it is an Alice in Wonderland theme.

Taz has been helping on the farm quite a bit lately, and every time I look at him I think he’s a little bit taller! Can’t believe my baby will be a 9th-grader this year. School starts on Thursday. He’s running cross-country and doing well so far.

Don't know what I'd do without one of these.
Don’t know what I’d do without one of these.

If you ever entertained the notion that Pyrex dishes are indestructible, put it out of your head now. Here’s the transcript of a recent conversation I had with my mother:

Me: I could use another big measuring bowl – you know the kind with the handle and the measuring lines on the side? Mine broke. Do you know where I could find one?
Mom: It BROKE? It was Pyrex! I didn’t think Pyrex could break.
Me: Well, apparently if you drop one Pyrex dish onto another one, it breaks.
Mom: (stunned silence)

And now you know. (I found another one at Wal-Mart.)

Stay tuned for the Aotearoa-New Zealand travelogue.


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.

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!


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.



So the kids found a cave in one of the pasture fields on the farm.  This was back in the spring, actually, when a school friend of Bookworm’s and Gaze’s came over to shoot Airsoft rifles with Gaze.  They found something that looked sort of more than our usual “hole in the ground,” which we have plenty of because this area is highly karstic and prone to sinkholes and small caves.  There was no time then to explore the cave.

Cave entrance from the outside. (All photos in this post by Bookworm.)
Cave entrance from the outside. (All photos in this post by Bookworm.)

Grey came back on Sunday afternoon with his caving equipment and good flashlights and ropes and whatnot, and he and Bookworm went slithering into the cave to see how far it went. They could see from the opening that it would probably be big enough for one person to enter and get out, and possibly for two people, so they took the appropriate precautions when entering an unexplored cave and went in.

There is a big rock in the center of the opening, and it’s necessary to scramble to one side or the other in order to pass it, but once inside the main room, the space opens up.  It’s tall enough for most people to stand up in, and is about the size of our kitchen (10 x 10, approximately).

Cave entrance closeup.
Cave entrance closeup.

There’s a secondary room to the left, and from it you can see an opening to the surface where light comes in, as well as two small tunnels too narrow to explore.  To the right of the main room (entrance at your back) is a tunnel with several tiny side passages.

There are stalactites and stalagmites forming in the cave, showing the presence of water and minerals. This fascinates me.


The kids spent all afternoon in the cave. Don’t think I’m going in it! But it’s cool to know it’s there.



Almost-Scent Diary, Aug. 4-17, 2014

Photo from FarmGirlBloggers.  (I JUST NOW found out this site exists. Now must explore...)
Foggy August Morning in the Appalachians. Photo from FarmGirlBloggers.

As usual, when things get crazy, I neglect keeping up with the Scent Diary. Sorry. :) But here’s a summary-type entry.  (Hey, I just NOW found out that the Farm Girl Bloggers site exists… must explore.)

As I mentioned in the post about the new dog, I’ve Been Busy. I had forgotten how much time a not-grown dog takes, not to mention the time it takes for a rescue dog to acclimate to a new situation. Bookworm came home from her internship in Louisiana last week, and there were all the school administrative things to take care of before school started, which it did last Friday. (That’s early for us, but the school board is trying an adjusted schedule so that the students who have standardized tests to pass before receiving credit for certain classes can take the tests before Christmas break, instead of having two weeks off and then coming back to take the tests unrefreshed. I hope it works, even though starting early is a huge pain in the behind.) And we all had dentist appointments.

So much stuff going on.

Taz is not taking band this year. I am sad, but it is his choice. He’ll be taking one semester of Information Technology and one of Technical Education instead.

This is a portion of the low brass section (t-bones, tubas, baritone horns) at band camp. That's Gaze there in the red shirt and gray shorts. Love these kids.  Photo by Stacey Utt.
This is a portion of the low brass section (t-bones, tubas, baritones) at band camp. Photo by Stacey Utt.

Gaze, on the other hand, will be busy with band all year, and particularly this fall with marching band. The band has already played – for the school administration’s Convocation service last week – and will be playing for the “benefit” scrimmage football game this coming Friday. (The Band Boosters are selling pizza and barbecue pork sandwiches at the game, so I won’t see them play.) Then there’s the Parent Preview Picnic, where the parents get to see the show as it currently is, on Thursday, just before The CEO leaves to take Bookworm back to school. And all of that is before the marching season proper begins, with the first official football game on August 30.

Bookworm has been transitioning from living on her own in an apartment to ten days at home, being babied (yeah, come on, cut me some slack on that. I missed her), and then packing up for another school year. I think she might be a bit apprehensive about declaring a major, but I know she’s looking forward to getting back to her friends on the Ultimate Frisbee team and the band. Classes this year might be less tough on her.

There is a middle school cross-country team this year, and Taz is participating on it. He gets on a bus at the middle school which takes him to the high school after the school day ends, so he can practice with the older kids. (I’m not sure Gaze is crazy about having his baby brother around, but he’s taking it with good grace.) Besides after-school practice, the team also goes to the New River Trail to do a long run on Sunday evenings. Yesterday, Gaze and his buddies and the coach and assistant coach ran about eleven and a half miles. Taz ran nine, himself. We’re very proud!

The CEO and Coach Sirak have laid out a cross-country course ranging from the adjoining airport property through our pasture fields, and our high school will be hosting at least one race there this fall. They’re excited about the Farm and Field 5000. It should be fun to watch, I think.

I need to take some new pix of this guy. He's cute.
I need to take some new pix of this guy. He’s so cute.

The dog’s name is no longer Gunnar, but Hunter, and he is starting to settle down. Except that he desperately desperately wants to meet the neighbors’ goats. Desperately. He throws his entire 38-pound body into his leash-harness, going low to the ground in order to get me to take him into their field. Goats, however, are pretty smart: they see him, and they retreat far away from the fence, eyeing him suspiciously the whole time. He also desperately wants to meet the wild rabbits living in the shop lot and the cows in the Pond Field, but the rabbits race away terrified and the cows ignore him. The other being he desperately wants to meet is the other neighbor’s dog, the one that attempted to attack Gaze in our shop lot several years ago, prompting her owner to install Invisible Fence. Hunter’s foster mom also had a large female German shepherd, so I imagine Hunter thinks that this German shepherd is his buddy. He’s wrong. Dakota would like nothing more than to rip him to shreds, and then me afterward, so I’m keeping him away from her.

He loves to chase tennis balls and the boys’ remote control cars. It’s hilarious. He also thinks it’s a “fun game” to growl at and play-bite anybody sitting on the downstairs couch, which it’s not. It really is not, and we’re trying to break him of that weird little habit. But he has learned his name, and he’s pretty good at “Sit,” “Come,” “Down,” and “Go Get It.” We’re still working on “Stay,” “Drop It,” and “Thank You for Alerting Us to Potential Intruders, but That’s Enough Barking Now because This Is a Friend.”

The weather has been oddly cool, in general, for early August. We had six straight days of rain last week – we needed it badly, and we got a good six weeks’ worth of our average rainfall in those six days. Now we’re back to cool foggy mornings followed by sticky, hot, humid afternoons and evenings, which is our normal August weather.

I have made a determination to try to wear more of my minis and decants, in order to use them up. Recently I’ve worn Leonard de Leonard, LeLong Pour Femme, Iris Poudre, Penhaligon’s Eau Sans Pareil, Citizen Queen, Flowerhead, and a few others. I’ve also been testing some things I plan to review, and I want to discuss further my plan to Use It Up, Wear It Out. Obviously, I am having trouble writing recently. I hope to get back to it soon.

Whew. Once more into the breach, dear friends…


Scent Diary Summary, most of May 2014

Scent Diary, Summarized, May 7 through June 3, 2014

I have not been keeping a good diary recently. It has been pretty busy here, with attending end-of-school activities and planning for some summer ones, so I’ve only got some “here’s what’s going on around the place these days” notes.
As for the house and yard, they look pretty good. We’ve been getting some good rain interspersed with sunny days, so the grass is thick and green and the trees are beautifully full of leaves. The fruit trees are leafed out well, and there are even baby apples on one of the trees – I think it’s the Gala. I got the annuals (pink zinnias and those tall Mexican orange marigolds) planted in the front bed, and the hanging baskets (pink and red geraniums and hot pink vinca) up on the porch, too.

The peony bush we planted near sweet Hayley-dog’s grave seems to be thriving. We all miss our doggie. It’s the little things, you know? Like I’ll be getting home in the evening and thinking, “Look at the time, it’s Food the Dog O’Clock – oh, wait. No, it’s not. Sigh.” Or we miss the thumping tail on the landing in the morning, or we don’t hear barking when someone pulls up in the driveway… We miss the canine affection, too.

We do want another dog, but not yet. Probably by the end of the summer we’ll start looking; I’ve already been looking online at the animal shelters to see what’s available right now. There are a few dogs close by but nothing that automatically jumps out to me to say, “I’m your new dog!” We have set some criteria: House-trained (that one’s non-negotiable). Not a puppy, and not a senior dog (I don’t think we could stand to lose another one within a couple of years). Medium size, between 25 and 45 pounds – Hayley was on the upper end of that range. Not a yapper. MAN, I hate a yappy dog. Barking is one thing, but a high-pitched constant yap? NO. Absolutely not. We’re flexible on breed; we’d probably rather not have a purebred dog, but we wouldn’t turn a shelter or rescue dog down if we had a connection to one that happened to be a purebred.

We decided last year when Silvia died that we would not get another cat; Taz is allergic to them. While we wouldn’t get rid of a cat (particularly an elderly one) for that reason, it’s enough of one that we felt we wouldn’t add a cat back to the household.

We do need to pull out that dogwood tree in the front yard that struggled for a few years and then finally gave up the ghost last summer. It’s the middle one in a row of five, so I think it would look odd to put in something else there, but that means getting as much of the old root system out as we can since the dogwoods are at least eight years old. I also lost one of my Knockout roses over the winter. One of them was pretty stressed by Japanese beetle attack, and didn’t survive the cold. The other one? Looks great. Go figure. I did buy another Knockout – the standard color one, instead of the pink it will replace, but I think they’ll look nice together.

It ended yesterday. Graduation for the high school was actually last Friday, because that date was set early. However, due to some late bad weather, the superintendent was forced to add a couple of days of school for everyone not graduating. I notice that the high school parking lot was pretty empty Monday and Tuesday, though, so I bet a lot of kids just skipped those last few days.

Gaze had a good year both academically and with regard to extracurriculars. He was selected as trombone section leader for next season’s marching band, and was also voted “Outstanding Trombone Player” and “Outstanding Rookie” by his peers. I was very proud. He’s only a rising sophomore, but the band had a run of several years with no trombone section marching – I think because Mr. Butler, our previous director, didn’t want to have only a few trombone players. He opted to have those few switch to baritone horn, which has a similar range, instead. There was no trombone section all the years Bookworm was in band. But now there is – and that means that Gaze is one of the oldest players in that section. I think he’ll do fine as he’s very responsible. In any case, his FFA team was successful, his academic challenge team (social studies) was the champion, and he was a member of successful cross-country and track teams as well. Also, this year he’s grown several inches.

I must say, it’s awfully nice to look at the mantel shelf and see Gaze’s Outstanding Rookie trophy right next to Bookworm’s.  We never expected that, and there for awhile Gaze was pretty insistent that he wasn’t going to march, that was Bookworm’s thing, he didn’t want to put that much work into it… Well. He thinks he made the right choice now.

Taz struggled to some degree academically this year. Partly that was due to his lack of interest in organization, and partly that might have been due to his having to face some challenges that neither his brother or sister faced. It’s a good thing that his school now offers Algebra I for those 7th graders who might benefit (that was not available for Bookworm in middle school) and an online language course (not available for either Bookworm or Gaze), but it’s the first time he’s ever had to really put some effort into school, and, well, in a lot of cases he just didn’t. He pulled several B’s this year. However, he ran track, and came in second to a very accomplished player in the school’s chess club tournament. He’s grown too – Bookworm might have half an inch, or maybe even less, on him now.  The CEO and I were (pleasantly) surprised to find, at Taz’ 7th grade award ceremony, that he’d been voted “Most Attentive Boy” by his peers.  All I can say is, they sure don’t live here.  Good to know that he pays attention in class, though!

Bookworm herself had a good year as well. She would tell you that she wasn’t happy with her grades, but The CEO and I were fine with them. I think her current GPA is approximately 3.65, somewhere around there. She seems to have decided that she will be majoring in chemistry, and I think she’s on the right track. When your college freshman kid complains about Spanish and Calculus, but says that Chemistry is “easy” and “fun” – and comes home talking excitedly about all the “cool things” they did in class and lab? Well, that’s a good indicator that she may have found her niche. She got plugged in with Yale Students for Christ, which is the campus branch of Cru (which used to be known as Campus Crusade) and a church she likes in New Haven. She loved playing with Yale Precision Marching Band for football, basketball and hockey, and she had a total blast with her buddies on the ultimate Frisbee team.

Bookworm, we just heard yesterday, will be doing a summer internship in Louisiana, for a paper mill there. She’ll be assisting one (maybe more) of the chemical engineers at the plant in conducting efficiency testing on some of the equipment used, and hopefully will be able to either assist in a research paper or present her own. I’m a little bit nervous about her being 14 hours away for eight weeks, but I think it’s a terrific opportunity. She’s really excited about the possibilities. She leaves on Sunday.

It’s hay season. Ergo, it’s busy. Not just with racing the weather, either – The CEO has spent a lot of time fixing tractors that got through the winter fine. Haymaking seems to put more demand on them, and since almost all of our tractors are approximately my age, they need a lot of maintenance. Bookworm and Gaze have been helping Jeff work some cattle (treating them with dewormer, giving them their shots and ear tags and the like).

The cows look good. There’s lots of grass.

Gaze will be attending Camp Cougar this summer, which is an intensive four-week physical education course that can take the place of PE during the school year. Drivers’ Education class time is included, as well as a ropes course at the nearby Boy Scout camp, white-water rafting, caving, and some other fun activities. However, if you miss any part of any day – you can’t receive academic credit for the course, so he’ll be BUSY.

Then, of course, there will be summer band practices which he will need to attend. And pre-camp (for section leaders and rookie marchers). And band camp itself. ACK.

The CEO has to go to Denver for another National Cattlemen’s Association meeting, so this summer we will be joining him there in Montana to do a little exploring at Yellowstone and Glacier. That ought to be fun. We made plans before we knew about Bookworm’s internship, but we might be able to change her flight ticket and allow her to join us for at least part of the trip, assuming that she could get a few days off around July 4th.

I’ll be keeping Taz as busy as possible.

I have been wearing my spring scents and testing some new things, but just yesterday I got out some of my summer-only fragrances. Things that went INTO the bedside cabinet: DelRae Amoureuse, Chanel No. 19 EdP, Jacomo Silences PdT, Deneuve, Guerlain Chamade, Penhaligon’s Violetta, Crown Perfumery Crown Bouquet, DSH White Lilac, L’Arte di Gucci EdP, vintage Jolie Madame parfum, Amouage Memoir Woman, Ralph Lauren Safari, and my vintage Emeraude PdT. I’ve been rather addicted to Safari recently, by the way – it is a warm green as opposed to a cool green like No. 19 or Silences.

Things that came OUT of the cabinet and into the hatbox on the dresser: Ines de la Fressange (the first one), Hermes Kelly Caleche EdP, YSL Paris Pont des Amours, Donna Karan Gold EdP, Hanae Mori Haute Couture, Cristina Bertrand #3, Tommy Hilfiger Tommy Girl, Moschino Funny!, Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Ete, Annick Goutal Petite Cherie, and DSH La Fete Nouvelle. The current rotation also includes Le Temps d’une Fete, Ferre 20, and Mary Greenwell Plum, as well as my vintage Chanel No. 19 EdT, because those only go into the cabinet in the winter. I’ve also got decants of DelRae Wit, Chanel 1932, and Hilde Soliani Il Tuo Tulipo for summer use.

I have a whole set of 7 Oriza L. LeGrand fragrances still to review as well.

And, oh yeah, I still hate purple.

What’s in your seasonal rotation, if you have one? I know you blokes and sheilas Down Under are heading into winter…


Hayley Elizabeth Wigglebutt Hoover Dog WoodenShoes

Rest in peace, dear Hayley Elizabeth Wigglebutt Hoover Dog WoodenShoes, July 2003 – May 2014. Introduced to us as “the perfect dog,” by Elizabeth, the woman who ran the rescue dog organization, she turned out to be exactly that. Part beagle, part lab, 100% wonderful.

Hayley, summer 2009
Hayley, summer 2009

For the first six months we had her, she wouldn’t go any farther than four feet from her Favorite Person, The CEO. She loved Gator rides, chasing Frisbees, wandering and sniffing the 20-Acre field, bacon, getting ear scritches and belly rubs, 6-mile runs with Bookworm and Gaze, and playing in the snow with her people. She was famous for greeting her family with enthusiasm, shamelessly begging for pats, getting into the kitchen trash, vacuuming up crumbs from the table and unattended cat food, jumping into cattle waterers, never bothering the cows, showing doggy sympathy to anyone sick or sad, ripping out the window screens (twice!) and opening the basement door with her teeth to get into the house. Identified 24 of the past 3 potential intruders by barking at any vehicle or person approaching the house – including Jeff the farm guy and The CEO’s mother, both of whom she liked very much once they were close enough to be identified as friends.  She barked like a bigger dog than she actually was, but if she got really excited you could hear the beagle in her voice. She liked to sleep on “her” couch in the family room, on top of the woven afghan that we designated as the Hayley blanket.

Going for a run with Gaze, March 30, 2014. (This was a day or two after she killed a groundhog on one of their runs.) Check out those ears flopping!
Going for a run with Gaze, March 30, 2014. (This was a day or two after she killed a groundhog on one of their runs.)

A slight limp that developed last weekend after a run with Gaze turned into a bigger one.  We took her to the vet’s office on Wednesday, where they did a physical exam and some blood work, and gave her some pain meds.  On Thursday she was mopey and in pain, and she slept a lot; the vet had warned us that the medication might make her dozy. By Friday she was in a much better mood, and thoroughly enjoyed her treat of deli ham (rolled around a pill) and her bacon-flavored treat. She wanted to go onto the porch and smell things and bark at squirrels, and she was as always delighted to get to go for a ride in the van, where she sat on Bookworm’s lap wagging her tail and sticking her nose out the partly-opened window.

They did x-rays at the vet’s office, and the initial diagnosis was bone cancer. Three to six months, the vet said, unless chemo helped. But they also tested some fluid from the lump on her elbow as well as from her lymph nodes, and those tests indicated lymphoma, which has a one-to-two-month course unless we decided to treat that with chemo. I called The CEO and we decided not to treat the cancer. Instead, we planned to manage her pain and make her last weeks or months as happy and comfortable as possible.

Snuggling with Bookworm on the porch, Feb. 2013.
Snuggling with Bookworm on the porch, Feb. 2013.

Then Hayley’s lymph nodes began to swell dramatically, right there in the vet’s office, and she began to have trouble breathing.  Mast cell tumor, the vet guessed, although that usually does not cause such drastic swelling, and she didn’t respond appropriately to antihistamine or steroids. They sedated her and gave her oxygen, and she was relatively stable when Bookworm and I took her to the vet school at Virginia Tech, which offers a critical care unit and round-the-clock care.

By the time we got to the vet school hospital, she was struggling to breathe, and the vet in charge there told us that if – if – they could stabilize her condition, we would need to decide how to treat her. I called The CEO, who brought Gaze and Taz with him, and when they arrived, we made the decision to not continue to try to save her. We did get to go back to the ICU and pet her, stroke her soft ears and tell her what a good dog she was and how much she loved her.

Our thanks to the folks at Radford Animal Hospital and the VA-MD School of Veterinary Medicine for doing their best for her.  Special thanks to Dr. Hansen and Dr. Bisoski, and all the techs.

On Saturday, Bookworm and Taz dug her grave, near dear Silvia kitty’s resting place and near where Hayley would wriggle under the fence to go play and sniff in the 20-Acre Field.  When The CEO came home from Virginia Tech’s graduation, we gathered around and lowered our sweet puppy into the grave on her favorite blanket, folding it around her.  Yesterday, I planted a peony bush as a marker.

Hayley, August 2013
Hayley, August 2013

We will miss our Thump-tail, the Flop-ear, the Underfoot, Canine Security, the Frog-dog, Official Greeter, the Insatia-Dog, the Pupful, sweet Hayley.


Scent Diary, Mar. 31 – April 6, 2014

Daphne odora
Daphne odora

Monday, Mar. 31 – Gorgeous weather today! Springy and sunny… some breeze… so nice.  Testing Oriza L. LeGrand Deja le Printemps, which is purportedly a green floral. It’s not. More about that soon.  Also testing the brand-new thing from Parfums DelRae, a floral based on the flowering shrub daphne odora, called Wit. Wit is gorgeous. Wit nearly made me cry.  More about that soon, too, but there’s a persistent yet gentle lemony cast to the flowers here, and particularly in the early stages, it reminds me quite a bit of the floral overlay of my favorite Le Temps d’une Fete. The drydown is considerably different – no woods/moss/patchouli in Wit, which is simply light musk with a touch of vanilla. (It’s the kind of musk that tends to disappear into skin on me, not the aggressively “clean” laundry type.) But the jasmine/narcissus heart shares some DNA with LTdF. I need some Wit.

Parfums DelRae is very much a hit-or-miss house with me. I like the brand’s aesthetic and philosophy, and I love it that DelRae Roth didn’t bring out a huge collection to start with, but the company seems to focus on fragrances that mean a great deal to its founder. Several of the DelRaes I don’t like – Emotionnelle is garbagey melon, Bois de Paradis’ citrusy top notes smell like turpentine on me (I’m not kidding. My grandmother painted china, and she used turps all the time. I know whereof I speak.).  Some of them I like but they’re too soft – Coup del Foudre is unbelievably lovely for two hours, and then shrinks down to a skin scent, no matter how much I ply the spray-until-wet technique. Mythique, too, is really wonderful, a leather/iris scent with the gentle fuzziness of apricot skin, but it’s barely noticeable until I’m snorking my wrist into my nostrils. I still have not tried Debut as it is focused on linden (which tends to smell like toilet cleaner on my skin), and Eau Illuminee is a cologne. I don’t do cologne. I have not tried, nor am I interested in, Panache. I do love Amoureuse very much. On me, it sings.

Tuesday, April 1 – April Fools’ Day. I’d been worried that Taz would pull something mean on me, but he didn’t.  Beautiful weather again today, too – with the windows closed, it got up to 74F inside the house toward the end of the day, and I had to open a window. Tested two more Oriza L LeGrand scents today: Horizon, and Jardins d’Armide. Hated both of them, for different reasons. Dreadful.

Got out the spring/Easter décor items, including Easter baskets, today – except Bookworm’s. I miss her. I am going to miss seeing her at Easter.

Also, was working on the novel, using the Write or Die app (which I love, in general), but about the time I got to 5700 words, it failed to save. I can’t find that stuff ANYWHERE on my laptop.  GAHHHHH. The WoD website does state that some people are having trouble with the save function – I’ve used it several times, but hadn’t had any problems before now. Am DYING of frustration.

Taz had a middle school track meet this evening, and got home past ten pm. They didn’t even stay for the entire meet – for some reason, this particular meet is always so large and so (apparently) disorganized, with four middle schools involved, that in the past the students haven’t gotten home until nearly midnight. This year they left early.  Taz only ran one event, and his time was slower than usual: he ran a 7:33 mile (1600m). His fastest time so far has been 7:14. He was disappointed to not get to run the 3200m.

Wednesday, April 2 – another gorgeous day. Hung the laundry on the clothesline to dry (ahh, the smell of line-dried clothes). This morning I tested Esther P Queen of Persia, which might be my favorite of the Esther P’s. All the same, it is nothing particularly special. 

SOTA is Jolie Madame extrait, the only version I really like. The EdT is too sharp for me, but the extrait is so beautifully floral atop the leather and moss. They haven’t made the extrait in a couple of decades now, so if you find it it’s de facto vintage, and it’s gorgeous. Bonus: those funky catercorner Balmain extrait bottles.

Thursday, April 3 – I really have to get the fans out of the attic. By 7 pm it’s 76 degrees in the house, even with the heat off and the windows open, and it stays that way until past midnight. Gah. Can’t sleep in that.  Tested the last Esther P, L’eau d’Emma – which is nice cologne, but you know me and cologne (yawn).

Mailed Bookworm a box with the stuff she left at home after Spring Break, plus a few things for Easter: her Bible, a book, some clothes, a towel, candy… and a cute little stuffed bunny. Eleven pounds worth, eep.  SOTA was Le Temps d’une Fete again, because I love it.

Community Chorus rehearsal was very up-and-down this evening; parts of it were very good, and parts of it were really awful. This would happen within one piece, the veering from good to bad, and that’s atypical for us – usually we’ve either got a piece down or we don’t. I have no idea what’s going on.

Daffodils-HyacinthsFriday, April 4 – gosh, it’s pretty out! Not too hot, but sunny and breezy. My daffodils and hyacinths are blooming.  Side note: I usually buy potted hyacinths in bloom, and then plant them after the blooms die, but when they bloom in the ground, they are neither as tall nor as heavily laden with florets as they were, grown in a pot. Wonder if I’m supposed to be fertilizing them or something.

SOTD: Cacharel Anaïs Anaïs EdP. I snagged a mini bottle labeled as “vintage” off eBay, cheap, and I think it must be at least early 90s. The top notes have gone a little funky – I think this may have had a touch of aldehydes, and of course they, like citrus, are the first to decay – but within ten minutes, it’s the smell I remember. My mother used to wear this, in the late 70s and early 80s, and the way I remember it smelling was “relentlessly clean.” That, I am convinced, is the reason my mom wore it. (Donna/Flora, over at Perfume-Smellin’ Things, counts this fragrance as a favorite and has stashes of bath oil and parfum as well as the more readily-available EdT. The EdP was discontinued at some point in the 90s, if I remember correctly. Donna says that the parfum is richer and less high-pitched.) In any case, it’s a soft white floral highlighted with steely hyacinth, muguet, and lily, with honeysuckle, jasmine, and orange blossom keeping the scent from getting too acerbic. The basenotes are very soft, powdered woods.  Lasting power from this vintage mini is very good, sticking around for a good eight hours on me.

Saturday, April 5 – it rained last night, and it’s considerably cooler, though sunny and breezy, today. Which is probably all to the good, because of two big local events taking place today. First, there is the Color Me Cameron Fun Run, being held in downtown Pulaski. It’s the second annual running of this event honoring a friend of Bookworm’s, Cameron Fitzwater, who was killed in a car accident just two months before graduation. I remember him quite well, as he was a jumper on the track team and a student at the Governor’s School. He was a year older than Bookworm, but they’d gotten to be friends since they were at one point the tallest and the shortest members of the track team, respectively. Cameron was a Boy Scout, and a genuinely delightful person. His mother organized the Color Run (in which participants of the 5K run/walk are pelted with powdered color) as a way to remember him with joy and to fund scholarships given in his name. Bookworm, of course, could not run this year, and Gaze was busy with the other local event, but some members of our church ran, and Taz ran too.  Sirak, the track coach, and many of the runners from the high school track team participated as well. Taz didn’t get as color-pelted as SOME people did… here he is with some people from our church.

That's Taz just to the right of the stroller. Photo by Dave Farris.
That’s Taz just to the right of the stroller. Photo by Dave Farris.

The CEO and Gaze, however, were involved with the other event which was the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Cloyd’s Mountain. This was a small Civil War battle that took place about two miles north of our farm, on May 9, 1964. The celebration date for the reenactment was moved from the actual date because the battle at Spotsylvania Court House also took place on that date. That was a much larger battle, very close to Washington, DC, and involved Generals Lee, Grant, and Meade. “Our” little battle, though it was proportionately one of the very bloodiest of the war, concerned lesser officers and many fewer men, and was the only one that took place in Virginia west of the Shenandoah Valley.  

Union cannon firing. Photo by The CEO.
Union cannon firing. Photo by The CEO.

I could talk about the Civil War and why it still interests Southerners for… well… weeks, probably. But for now, let me just say that one does not have to admire the moral stances of the Confederates to find their doings significant. Briefly, this was history. It took place right here. Members of my family and The CEO’s family were directly involved in it, and that makes a huge difference. My mother’s great-uncle served as part of the Pulaski Home Guard in this battle, leaving home with a Revolutionary-War-era smoothbore musket and a powder horn, and without the benefit of shoes, to defend his home. As for The CEO’s family involvement, the old homeplace (his great-aunts lived there until the early 1970s, and the house still stands) served as a hospital for Confederate officers, and the women of the family served as nurses.  I won’t tell the story again – see this post if you want to read it – but it really is a fascinating story.

Reenactment of the Battle of Cloyd's Mountain. Photo by The CEO.
Reenactment of the Battle of Cloyd’s Mountain. Photo by The CEO.

The reenactment, headed by the 24th Virginia Rifles and the 1st Stuart Artillery, took place for the first time ever on a part of the actual battlefield. It was the first time I’d ever been to a reenactment, as well. I had been a little bit leery, to be honest, of people who focus so much on the Civil War, to the point of spending weekends dressed up in period clothes, sleeping in tents, firing reproduction weapons… but seeing it gave me chills. To people accustomed to modern war – automatic weapons, guided missiles, firing from a long distance – it was a shock to see how close the combatants got to each other. And indeed, in this particular battle, when weapons failed, there was very close hand-to-hand fighting, leading to heavy casualties. The Union side, numbering about 6100 troops, lost 688 men (approximately 11%). The Confederate strength ran about 2400 men, including Home Guard as well as regular Army, lost 538 (23%).

We met some really lovely people at the reenactment, and I’m hoping the event will take place there again. SOTD was Chanel No. 19 EdP.

Sunday, April 6 – I got sunburned yesterday. Really sunburned, and I feel awful. I even stayed home from church and did a bit of laundry and took a nap. Ugh.  SOTD: nothin’. Nada. Didn’t wear a THING until bedtime, and by then I wanted the coziness of Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur, which is a beautiful tuberose-ylang-and-cream fragrance, with a dark thread running through its base.


Scent Diary, Feb. 10-16, 2014

ice_heart_1__by_mikrox-d5l0kduMonday, Feb. 10 – Chilly, but not so bad as it has been. I got a perm (which my dear FIL used to call “a temporary”), and now I’m curly again. No SOTD in the morning – there was no point – but later in the day, I went with Memoir Woman, the only frag I’m reliably craving lately.

Tuesday, Feb. 11 – Not horribly cold. Taz started Chess Club at the middle school this week (they will meet every other Tuesday), and we had a good Bible study this evening. SOTD is DvF Tatiana, vintage parfum, deliciously spicy white flowers.  SOTE, after my Tatiana left, was Vamp a NY.  I am attempting to organize and track my perfume collection (again).

Yay, look, you get gratuitous Tom Hardy (as Raumont in "Marie Antoinette")! Twice in a week!
Yay, look, you get gratuitous Tom Hardy (as Raumont in “Marie Antoinette”)! Twice in a week!

Wednesday, Feb. 12 – Cold. No school today as it is supposed to begin snowing by 1pm; Gaze went out to do his running before the snow started, as the district indoor track meet is scheduled for Saturday. I went to the grocery store just after lunch, and sure enough – by 1:15 it was coming down heavily. SOTD: PdN Vanille Tonka, which by the way is lovely with snow coming down outside and a fire in the fireplace… and “Marie Antoinette” on TV.  Had a discussion with Gaze about how much better Marie Antoinette’s life might have been had anyone bothered to teach her (or her husband, who honestly seems to have been something of a dolt on his own) about budgeting.

Took The CEO 90 minutes to make the 35-minute drive home, because he didn’t leave Virginia Tech at 1pm as he’d planned to do. He left at 2:15, and by then the snow was really piling up. We watched some Olympics, and I made a prediction that Shaun White, one of my favorites, would not medal this go-round. I hadn’t seen any of his practice runs, I hadn’t seen anything of him at all except a three-second clip of him watching Russian Iouri Podladtchikov (who eventually won the gold for halfpipe), but in those three seconds I realized that White was looking far too intense. Intensity does not seem to pay off for snowboarders or freestyle skiers; they seem to perform much better when they can have fun.  SOTE: L’Arte di Gucci.

Thursday, Feb. 13 – More snow. And more Olympics. SOTD: Soivohle Centennial, which I adore. So cozy.  I wrote, we maintained the fireplace, we ate chili. The boys sledded and drank hot chocolate; The CEO bladed part of the road.  We watched an edited-for-TV version of Black Hawk Down (ooh yay more Tom Hardy!).

valentineFriday, Feb. 14 – The snowfall has stopped, but nobody can get out.  The CEO made me a valentine; I got him a six-pack of Reese’s Cups. More Olympics, more fire, more writing. The neighbor kid came over and sledded with the boys all day; they made a giant snowball and snow chairs. SOTD: Coty Aspen for Women, a fragrance I adored circa 1990… unlike the men’s version, this one’s been discontinued for years and I can’t find any notes for it. I bought “new old stock” on ebay and I still think it’s rather good.  SOTD: L’Arte di Gucci. Man, this is great stuff.

It’s my brother’s birthday.

Saturday, Feb. 15 – Warm, all the way up to 50F! Snow is melting. However, since it’s still difficult to get around, the district indoor track meet has been postponed until tomorrow. We cleaned up the house, and I managed to get out and buy some groceries (as usual, we had exhausted two gallons of milk in three days).  SOTD: Parfum Sacre. Yum.

This would have been The CEO’s father’s 89th birthday.

Sunday, Feb. 16 – Warmish, in the upper 40sF. SOTD: Serge Lutens La Myrrhe. I really should be wearing more aldehydes; this is so lovely.  I dropped Gaze off at the high school and went on to church, where we did a baby dedication for the 16-month-old daughter of our minister and his wife.  Wrote some more in the afternoon, while The CEO went to Tech and graded papers. Then we decided to go out for dinner for Valentine’s Day, to the Chinese buffet in Radford that we like. My La Myrrhe was gone, so I nabbed a spritz of Enchanted Forest – because blackcurrant goes pretty well with Chinese.

Gaze, being helped with his bow tie at District Band concert a few weeks ago. So handsome.
Gaze, being helped with his bow tie at District Band concert a few weeks ago. So handsome.

While we were out, Gaze texted me that he would be returning to the high school in 15 minutes (why, oh why does the child never let me know when he LEAVES someplace? I’ll say, ‘hey, let me know when you might be back,’ and ‘please let me know how the event went’ and things of that nature, but he never does), and then was surprised when he had to wait for us to get there. The CEO had estimated by the number of schools participating and the number of events to be run, it would take them until at least 8pm to return.

We were wrong. And thennnnnn… then, we found out that not only did Gaze not run any events, it was because his coach did not enter him in any events.


IT’S DISTRICTS. How do you not enter your athletes? He wasn’t the only one, either. We have an excellent hurdler on the girls’ team, someone with a legitimate shot at placing at the state level… and she didn’t run. Because she wasn’t entered.

I am upset. I don’t know how a coach can do that to her kids, I just don’t get it at all. I know this teacher is new to coaching, but she did fine as a co-coach of the cross-country team in the fall along with the previous year’s assistant (the head track/XC coach left for a job with a larger program near his hometown last summer). It is just unbelievable to me.

This is my sister-in-law’s birthday. (The one that’s married to my brother. Yes, their birthdays are two days apart. Which is kind of cool.)


Christmas 2013

Okay, so this is my house. This is my house at Christmas. As you can clearly see, it is being guarded by a demon dog with glowing eyes.rsz_dec11_jan_12_012(Okay, not really a demon. It’s our Hayley-dog. But she looks scary enough here.)

Christmas was lovely. Got to see my parents, and my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. Sunday, we had dinner with my aunts and uncles and my sister, brother-in-law, and nephew Doodlebug, who is really growing!

Got a nice little ELPH camera for Christmas so I don’t have to keep asking to borrow The CEO’s big fancy one. A nice sweater, a scarf, some books, a cute pair of sterling silver & cubic zirconia earrings, a trial size of LUSH Rose Jam shower gel, some Amouage Memoir lotion, and a 15ml bottle of Hermes Kelly Caleche EdP.  A nice haul!

I’ll be reviewing Kelly Caleche soon, the EdT as well as the EdP if I can find my sample of the EdT.

Hope everybody else who celebrates had a lovely Christmas as well.


Replacement Bed

So I’m replacing my bed.

Big whoop, you say.

BUT IT IS. It SO IIIIIIS. If you know me at all, you probably know that I have had this bed, this full size bed handmade in solid maple, since I was ten years old. It’s a weird bed – bedskirts don’t fit it because of the way it’s made, and it is so high that you really have to “climb” into bed. I used to keep a little stool in the bedroom so our toddler-age children could get up onto the bed with us.

This bed used to be my dad’s. Before it belonged to my dad, it belonged to some person or persons unknown whose ancestors probably made it out of necessity, and the ancestors did as good a job as they possibly could on it, smoothing the wood and making it pretty, and the inheritor(s) then looked at it, circa 1951, and said, “Good Lord, who on earth needs a freakin’ ROPE BED?? Better sell it to this nice lady with four kids.”

These are the pieces of my old bed. See the holes where the rope goes?
These are the pieces of my old bed. See the holes where the rope goes?

If you have never seen a rope bed, well, here ya go. The way these were supposed to work is that you attached a rope at the head or the foot, and then snaked it through all the little holes, like lacing up a shoe: head to foot to head to foot. Then you put your mattress tick on top of the ropes. But what do ropes do? Of course, they stretch. So if you had a rope bed, eventually you were going to wind up with your butt on the floor. This is why people started connecting headboards and footboards with siderails instead, and laying slats across so that the mattress wouldn’t fall through. Smart, see?

So my grandmother bought it, and had siderails made specially for it. Now, more than 60 years later, the metal pieces of the siderails have dug into the wood of the head- and footboard so that now they don’t fit squarely, and the bed creaks ominously, rocking back and forth, when you crawl into it, or, if you are The CEO, when you HEAVE YOUR BODY OVER IN A VICIOUS WHIRL, SEIZING ALL THE COVERS IN THE SAME MOTION.

It is scary.

Furthermore, we have been unable to find anybody skilled enough and/or willing to repair the bed.

So I looked at replacing it. But it took forevvver, because 1) nobody but nobody makes really nice bedroom furniture out of maple now. There’s boring plain “natural maple,” which looks like BREAD instead of wood, or if you go “vintage maple” you get this weird orange-tinged wood that looks like somebody baked orange Play-Doh, which was apparently common in the 1940s.  Nice Maple, the color you get when you take the time to hand-rub tung oil (no, not tongue oil, that’s gross) into maple wood, looks sunny and golden. Like honey, or light maple syrup for that matter. All my other bedroom furniture, except my bedside cabinet which is oak, is Nice Maple.  Matching it up was gonna be tough.

Reason 2) is that I told The CEO how much it was likely to cost to buy a new bed, and his head literally hit the ceiling.

Well, no, not literally literally.  But still. He was aghast.

So. After much searching, I found a sort-of-nice-looking bed for cheapish on the Internetses. Head-and-footboard, standard metal rails, adjustable from full to queen. (Which was good, because The CEO did not want to buy a new mattress as well, even though the mattress on our bed I BOUGHT MYSELF before we got married… 21 years ago… $600 well-spent, if you ask me. It’s still comfortable.)  Anyway, it was purportedly “solid hardwood,” but the company wouldn’t tell me what kind of hardwood, with a finish they called “Salem Maple.”

It is not quite the same honey color as my dresser and chest of drawers, but it is close to Nice Maple, perhaps a bit paler, with very little visible wood grain. I was distressed, however, to find a big ding on the footboard. I reported my complaint (the gouge was not noticeable until I tried to put the bed together, and then it was really noticeable!). The company has now shipped me an undamaged footboard in exchange for the old one, and for the first time in 35 years I have a new bed.

New bed. Not too different from the old bed.
New bed. Not too different from the old bed.

It looks pretty good. I bought risers for it, because it was 6-7 inches below where (at least in my mind) a bed should be, practically like sleeping on the floor. Now it’s maybe an inch or so lower than I’m used to, but it’s quite manageable. And yeah, the risers are 5″ tall ugly black plastic. But they work. I have only stumbled out of bed once, when my foot came to the floor quicker than I expected.

And we sleep okay in it. The mattress is still in good shape, and the bed frame does not move when we move.

Pray God it doesn’t fall apart.