End of August, 2017

Along the road to Hana, on Maui. Photo by The CEO. Yes, the water really is that shade of blue.

Well, here we are approaching the end of summer (goodbye, good riddance, don’t let the screen door hit ya in the butt on the way out, August), and I’ve been shockingly remiss in not posting for the last, what, 7 weeks.

There will be a little bit of perfume stuff in this post. There will be some family stuff, some vacation stuff, and some maybe-future stuff. Read on. ๐Ÿ™‚

So back in the early part of the summer, The CEO was invited to do a seminar through the Extension office of the University of Hawaii on the island of Kauai, in July. We had visited Kauai following his NACTA (National Association of College Teachers of Agriculture) convention in Honolulu last summer, and fell in love with the place.

Beach near our rental condo, Kapaa, Kauai. Photo by The CEO.

We’ve now been to four of the five populated islands of Hawai’i (well, okay, we did actually set foot on Molokai during our recent trip from Oahu to Maui, when our little inter-island plane set down to let a passenger off), and Kauai is the place where we felt most comfortable. It is considerably more rural/small-town than the other islands, even the non-resort area of Big Island, and there is a general friendliness and a regard for island life (culture, ecology, conservation, a spirit of aloha) I didn’t notice elsewhere. There is, I don’t know, a gratitude for Kauai, on Kauai.

Hanalei Bay, Kauai. Photo by The CEO. Beach on one side, beautiful mountain on the other…

In case you are wondering, the perfect fragrances for Hawai’i seem to be Big White Florals such as Frederick Malle Carnal Flower and Byredo Flowerhead — surprise, surprise — and Arielle Shoshana’s delightful passionfruit-focused fragrance, Arielle Shoshana eau de parfum. (Go order a sample here, stat. You won’t be sorry.) I also discovered the wonders of fresh island-grown papaya, and we revisited my favorite Kauai restaurant, Verde, for the best fish tacos I’ve ever had.

That trip took up the last part of July. The day we got home from Hawai’i, Bookworm got home from New Haven, and she’s here for the time being.ย  She’d still like to go to grad school, I think, but she wants some time away from school and is planning to get a job or long-term internship while she figures out where she’d like to focus her efforts next. I’m just glad to have her home for now.

L-R: Bookworm (22), Ian (13), Ian’s baby brother Erich (9 months), Taz (16), Airin (7), and Gaze (18). Incidentally, this is one of the last pics of Gaze before his hair got buzzed off.

We got to have a little family reunion with my sister and her family, and my brother and his family, at my parents’ house recently. With A in upstate NY and P in Florida, it’s hard to get everyone together. But here are all my parents’ grandchildren in one spot! Mom was thrilled.

New Cadet Gaze at the top of the rappelling tower. This face either means, “I really didn’t want to be up this high,” or maybe, “Get that stupid camera out of my face, I’m doing something here!” Also, notice his distinct lack of hair. Photo via the Commandant’s Facebook page.

Gaze is off to college himself. He is, as I’ve mentioned before, a part of Virginia Tech’s Corps of Cadets program, and he has just completed New Cadet Week, the week-long “boot camp” for incoming freshman. This is the time when new cadets are issued their uniforms, get their hair cut, learn to make their beds military style, learn to march, begin learning rifle drill, do physical training (PT), and become familiar with the training facilities (the rappelling tower and the obstacle course). Other than letters they might receive, there’s no outside contact for the cadets during NCW: no TV, no internet, no phone. Lights out at 10 pm, room inspections at 6:15 am. That will relax at the end of NCW, after the parade demonstration tomorrow.

Gaze at the obstacle course. Photo via the Commandant’s Facebook page.

Fortunately, the Commandant’s office posts photos (many, many photos!) of New Cadet Week on their Facebook page, so that parents can see what’s going on, and hope to pick out their own cadet by playing “where’s Baldo?”

Taz has started school as well, driving himself to and from with, so far, no issue. He’s a junior, which I can hardly believe, and it looks like he’s going to have a good cross-country season based on his times so far.

I am not quite ready to publish my first e-book; I need to do some hole-patching subsequent to a major overhaul of the original draft. However, I created its digital cover last Thursday and I’m ridiculously excited about it. I’d like to be putting it out around December 1. Stand by for further announcements.

Stuff I’ve been wearing this past week:
Chanel 1932. So pretty. Just so gosh-darn pretty! Delightful citrus with jasmine and, I swear, the lightweight version of its fellow Chanel Les Exclusifs 31 Rue Cambon’s beautiful iris-amber drydown.
Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Ete. Fruity yellow rose with a bit of talcum powder. I especially love its gentle simplicity.
Carven Eau de Parfum. I can’t really define it, but this is easily identified as a Francis Kurkdjian composition. I like FK’s stuff. I like this. It’s commercial and contemporary, a pinkish floral with patchouli. I’m not sorry I like it.
DSH Chypre. Mostly to bed, because the labdanum is a little disturbing during the day, but yummy.
Leonard de Leonard. Discontinued aaaages ago; I snagged a decant of it from a friend. Remember how vintage Ivoire de Balmain annoyed me because it was both soapy and mossy? This is soapy, mossy, and floral, and apparently that makes the difference for me. The patchouli in this is aged to almost a candy sweetness next to the dry richness of oakmoss; the orange blossom makes it Dove-soapy; the carnation and rose keep it from having that discord that Ivoire strikes me as having. This thing is very very green and very flowery. I go through occasional stages where nothing else suits me.

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June, 2017

Okay, so here it is:
May was busy. June’s been busy. July is going to be busy. August (despised by me anyway) will be busy.
Lather, rinse and repeat.
You get my point, yes? (Even though no shampoo bottle has included those instructions since, say, 1979.) You also get an apology. I have been neglecting the blog in favor of a) fiction writing, and b) plain, ordinary or garden living.

I will, in this post, catch you up on the family developments. Further catching-up and perfumery bits to follow in posts next week.

Bookworm has graduated from Yale with a BS in Chemistry. She is spending the summer in New Haven, as a dorm counselor for their summer sessions and as a teaching and lab assistant for the Organic Chemistry classes. She gets free room and board as well as tuition for one class as compensation for her dorm counselor duties, and Actual Cash Money as compensation for her TA duties. This is all very, very good. She is planning to apply for a paid internship or an entry-level job in her field, and then eventually to find a graduate program that excites her.

She turned 22 at the end of May, and The CEO and I drove up to CT to spend her one “weekend off” doing some fun stuff with her. We went to Pawtucket, RI, to see the Paw Sox (the Boston Red Sox AAA minor-league affiliate) play. We toured the RI state house in Providence, and visited the Newport mansions and the Submarine Museum before dropping her off at her dorm and driving several hours to my sister-in-law’s house for my nephew’s high school graduation.

Curiosity is a smart, thoughtful, wonderful kid who will be studying Engineering at Virginia Tech come the fall. I’m proud of him. Engineering is possibly the most competitive program at VT, limiting the number of students it accepts for this degree track, and Curiosity will be living in one of the honor dorm communities as well.

In case you hadn’t heard this story, Curiosity’s dad K and The CEO were assigned roommates at Virginia Tech way back in the day. Heaven knows what a farm kid of Scottish extraction from SW VA and a second-generation Chinese-American kid from the suburbs of New Jersey had in common, but they got along fine, and K wound up marrying The CEO’s sister E. Curiosity is just a few months older than Gaze, and Primrose about 6 weeks younger than Taz; they’re all pretty close and I think that’s awesome.

Gaze graduated high school himself just a few days after Bookworm finished up, and he will be joining the Corps of Cadets at Virginia Tech in August. He had a number of dual-enrollment credits transfer, and his adviser suggested that since he’d be entering as a second-semester sophomore, he might consider a double major. He has already declared his primary major as Geography, with possibly a second major in National Security and Foreign Affairs. The Corps functions like a military school inside the larger campus of the university: cadets sleep, drill, and study together as well as eating two meals a day together, but they take classes alongside all the other students. Each cadet can choose an ROTC option (Army, Navy/Marines, or Air Force) OR the Citizen Leader track, which does not lead to an officer commission after graduation. Gaze is still awaiting final word on his Army ROTC scholarship; he needs a waiver for his eyesight.

Shopping for Gaze’s college stuff is turning out to be far more complicated than outfitting Bookworm was; the New Cadet Guide has a very strict packing list, and the cadets are encouraged not to bring anything extra. The list includes items like “2 sets white twin sheets (NOT Twin XL), sets consisting of a fitted sheet, a flat sheet, and a pillowcase each,” and “12 pairs white athletic socks, ankle height, no logo or color visible outside the shoe,” and “12 pairs underwear, at least 3 white or beige in color for wear under white trousers of dress uniform.” Also, “One surge protector, with at least six outlets, incorporating a cord of 8-10 feet long. Extension cords are strictly forbidden.” My sister, the Army wife, tells me to get used to this kind of thing. (I’m still trying to figure out whether he can take a mattress pad or not, because it’s not on the list. Eye roll.)

Taz using the Serious Athlete Pose, while everybody else is just having fun. The youth camp is in Florida.

And Taz? As a rising junior, he’s simply got less bustle and drama going on in his personal life at the moment. I expect that to change this year, as he begins to discover a purpose and is left, gasp, all along with his parents, the only kid in the house! We’ve been trying to work in his behind-the-wheel driver training, and it looks like it will be August before we can do that for him, but he’ll be driving on his own soon. This week he’s been at a church youth camp (Bible study, worship, and service projects), and next month he’ll spend a week at running camp. When he’s home, he’s being Jack-of-all-trades — laundry, house cleaning, minor repairs, cooking, helping on the farm, mowing and weed trimming.

My mother is recovering very well from her spinal surgery. She uses the rolling walker occasionally, for assistance with balance or when she’s tired, but she is standing and walking upright for the first time in years, and the nerve pain in her leg is gone. She is still progressing with her exercises.

My aunt Cindy, the youngest of my father’s three sisters, has recently been diagnosed with multiple myeloma. This is bad stuff; it is terminal but if caught early can be ameliorated to some degree with treatment. She is undergoing chemotherapy right now. If you don’t mind throwing up a prayer (or sending some positive vibes, if that’s more your thing), it would be much appreciated.

 

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Mid-May, 2017

This is a busy month.

Mom had surgery on her rheumatoid-arthritis-affected spine, to remove bone spurs (ouch) and have titanium supports placed to protect her spinal cord and eliminate the pain she’s been having from pinched nerves and herniated disks (also ouch). The surgery was successful, but the bone spurs more numerous and intrusive than her doctor had hoped, so she has more recovery to make up than they had both hoped. She’ll be spending some weeks at the rehabilitation center for physical therapy, but already the pain in her leg from the pinched nerve has abated. She is still in some pain, but making progress.

The progress includes feeling better enough to start being concerned about a) the cat, b) the state of the laundry, c) the extent of the dust in her house, and d) my dad’s intake of vegetables, so we know she’s on the upswing!

Yale Commencement 2016. That looks like quite a crush on Old Campus, and I admit I’m not looking forward to the crowd. . .but miss it? No way.

Bookworm has finished all classes and exams and will be graduating on the 22nd. Her summer is set up: residential advisor in the dorms, teaching assistant for organic chemistry labs and classes for the summer session. She’ll be applying for jobs and internships as well. So proud of my girl! Sorry she won’t be coming home until August, but maybe we’ll go visit her. She is spending the week in Florida visiting friends and having a lovely vacation before graduation.

Pic from Virginia Tech News online mag, 2010

Gaze will graduate high school on the 26th. For university, he has chosen to join the Corps of Cadets at Virginia Tech in the fall. VT is one of the few full universities incorporating a cadet body and a military environment within the larger student body. The Corps offers Reserve Officer Training Corps programs for Army, Navy, and Air Force as well as a Civilian Leader track; that is, there is the option to join the Corps and not go military afterward. I’m not sure which Gaze will choose. He may also choose to join the regimental band, but that is optional and he may decide not to pursue it. I’d be sad to see him lay his trombone down permanently, but I know that whatever he does with his spare time (which will be in short supply, given his cadet responsibilities), he’ll do it well. My nephew Curiosity will also be on the Virginia Tech campus this fall, as a student in the Engineering program. That’s pretty exciting, and I hope the cousins can get together for some fun on occasion.

My years as a Band Booster have come to a close, and I will now become a member of the Drama Mamas, supporting the Theatre Arts program at the high school. It will be interesting for Taz, I think, to be (finally) on his own there and to blaze his own path.

The boys ran in the last track meet of the regular season on Saturday; Gaze cut his 1600m personal record by 5 seconds, to 2:51, and Taz cut his 3200m PR by 8 seconds, to 11:05. I’m proud of them!

Perfume?
Well, it’s been a typical spring in terms of weather, if a bit colder than usual, so I’m wearing many of my favorite Greenies: Chanel No. 19, Crown Perfumery Crown Bouquet, Ralph Lauren Safari. Oddly, though, I haven’t worn Chamade at all this spring, and every time I pick up Deneuve, something strikes me as wrong for the day/occasion and I have to put it down. (Shrug. It’s not like I’m short of fragrances to wear, right?)

I’ve been saying for months and months now that I really must divest of some of my lesser-worn perfumes. Really. Must. So here’s hoping that I’ll be able to get that started this week before we go to Yale graduation…

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April 2017

So it’s been busy around here lately. Sorry about that whole not-posting thing…

An April update:

Redbuds on a rainy day.

The weather, up until today, has been pretty much glorious standard spring weather, warm but not hot, with plenty of rain. The grass is in that beautiful stage where it is SUPERGREEN and everything looks like Ireland. Gaze’s sheep are stunningly white against the green; the cows are (mostly) strikingly black against it. The redbuds have been particularly beautiful this spring.

I ordered Gaze’s high school graduation announcements, and then it occurred to me that I had not ordered any for Bookworm either. Oops. I rectified the issue. Graduation gets expensive, doesn’t it? Especially two kids at once, even if you only go with the basics of graduation gown, cap, and announcement and eschew the myriad extras of — just for example — extra photo sessions, key chains, commemorative plaques/mugs/you-name-its.

That’s Taz there in the gray jacket! Photo courtesy RG Hylton.

Taz was in the high school drama production of “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” as the poor put-upon owner of the house where radio personality Whiteside is forced to recuperate from a broken hip. He did a great job as the straight man for the indignities perpetrated by the publicly-acclaimed, privately-insufferable celebrity. I was so proud! Then recently he and the rest of the Advanced Theatre Arts class did “Hey Good Lookin'” from Dogfight: the Musical, and he was good. It was his singing, dancing debut.

Cayla and Gaze, photo by The CEO.

Gaze attended his senior prom. Refused to rent a tuxedo and stuck with a plain black suit, but the silver vest and tie looked nice. We knew his date’s dress would be a difficult shade to match (“red, but not really red, more like coral pinky orange red”), and I’m glad we didn’t try. It was a beautiful dress, and Cayla’s a lovely girl. They had fun.

Gaze’s college plans are still a little bit up in the air. He’s fairly sure he’ll be attending Virginia Tech, possibly as a member of the Corps of Cadets (ROTC). The ROTC scholarship is not confirmed, though (that eye exam may prevent it), so it’s not official. He’d like to have one more shot at West Point, which is a possibility since you can apply twice, but I think he’ll be applying as a VT student. At least he’ll be close by, and his cousin Curiosity will be at Tech too.

Bookworm goes for the high pass.

Bookworm is busy with her thesis and with Ultimate Frisbee. She’ll be staying in New Haven after graduation, again serving as a counselor in the summer dorms and also working as a teaching assistant for the organic chemistry class and lab for both summer sessions. (They’re paying her, YAY!) I’m kinda bummed to not have her home until fall, but…they’re paying her.

The weather has been such that I have been getting the most wear out of all my greenies: my beloved PdN Le Temps d’une Fete (of course), Ralph Lauren Safari, and Crown Perfumery Crown Bouquet head the list. Then I’ve also been wearing Guerlain Chamade, Chanel No. 19, Henry Dunay Sabi, Deneuve, and Penhaligon’s Violetta. Have not yet gotten out the Balmain Jolie Madame or the Jacomo Silences yet, but I’m sure to do that soon.

Have been working on the novel, and practicing for taking the GRE (more on that later). How about you?

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Scent Diary, January 1-8, 2017

Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017: Chilly. Rainy. My thought on 2017, as it begins, is that it would have to work really hard to be worse than 2016, so let’s be good to each other this year and see how it goes. SOTD is Cuir de Lancome and I smell nice.

We went to see Rogue One (Star Wars) at the movie theater today and had a great time. I practically had to twist The CEO’s arm to go — he’d heard that it was “not a real Star Wars movie,” and he usually hates to spend the money to go see a film in the theater unless he’s really excited about it. As it turned out, we all thought it was enjoyable: a tight, exciting story exploring the history of how the Rebel Alliance actually got hold of those Death Star plans in the first place. We went to the “good” theater, too, which is a half-hour’s drive away via Interstate but modern, comfortable, uncrowded and quite reasonably priced ($6.75 for matinee tickets, wow).

Monday, Jan. 2: Warmer and dry today, and I’m glad the weather is more comfortable for our trip to see my parents. They were gone over Christmas, visiting my sister and her family (including that new baby!), and Mom’s back is still bothering her. SOTD is Caron Parfum Sacre.

Kids and Hayley, Christmas 2010

Tuesday, Jan. 3: SOTD, the golden and joyous and Christmassy Teo Cabanel Alahine. It’s time to take down the Christmas decorations. We usually start decorating about the second week in December, and then unless there’s an event we need to schedule around like there was this year, we un-decorate on New Year’s Day. That’s about as long as I want the Christmas stuff up, honestly. I’m not judging folks who put their tree up at the beginning of November…

Kids and Hunter, Christmas 2016

… well, okay, maybe I’m judging them a little bit, but in an “I just don’t get it,” sort of way and not a “That is so trashy,” sort of way. I love decorating, but I really don’t want Christmas stuff up while I am still enjoying the end of autumn. If you are perfectly fine with celebrating Thanksgiving with a Christmas tree and a Nativity set up, good on you, but my preference is generally to finish up one season before I start on a new one.

Wednesday, Jan. 4: SOTD is Ferre 20 by Gianfranco Ferre, which I bought from a little shop in Rome; I was just in the mood for this comfy aldehydic floral musk. The CEO came home from his checkup and said, “Hey, you know we’ve been talking about trading in your minivan for a small crossover SUV, right? They’ve got a couple of nice ones at the certified-used dealership…”

We are typically the kind of people who consult Consumer Reports and shop around for sales and good deals over a couple of months, whether we’re buying a car or a dishwasher… but somehow we wound up buying a 2013 Kia Sorento, after test-driving it and having our mechanic check it out. I’m still shocked at the quick decision! I was okay with continuing to drive the 2007 Grand Caravan, but the low gas mileage (20-22 mpg) was starting to feel like a burden, especially since we’re not hauling around multiple kids in car seats anymore, and the van wasn’t getting any younger. I’m very pleased with the Sorento.

Thursday, Jan. 5: No scent of the day today. Bookworm has a cold and feels yucky, and I’m hanging out with her, so I just skipped fragrance today.ย  We watched The Commitments and I ironed clothes: boring, low-key, nice.

Friday, Jan. 6: SOTD is Dior Poison. I really used to hate it back in the day, when everybody was wearing six spritzes too many, and you couldn’t walk through a girls’ dorm without needing a gas mask to survive the Poison fumes… now? potent but cuddly dark-berried white floral. My bottle is ca. 2003, and it’s missing that truly toxic vibe it used to have; I don’t know what that is. Brian at I Smell Therefore I Am thinks it’s the old musks… well, maybe, but that resinous cough-syrup-of-death thing that used to scare me so much seems to be missing as well. In principle, that might be good, but I notice that I hardly ever wear Poison, and I think that’s because it’s both nicer and less interesting than it used to be.

Since we’re supposed to get snow over the weekend, the boys’ indoor track meet has been canceled so they’ll get to stay home tomorrow. We stacked up a big pile of firewood and I’ve made cider for tomorrow, and we’re ready.

I’ve been playing around at Allrecipes.com and saving my favorite recipes there, since Bookworm has expressed a need for a cookbook with all the family specialties in it. I figure this ought to work just as well as a paper cookbook.

Saturday, Jan. 7: SNOW! Not enough to go sledding in, unfortunately, and with the wind, it feels like 4F outside BRRRRRRRR. We drank hot chocolate and cleaned up the house, and then when the boys went over to a friend’s house in the evening, The CEO and Bookworm and I watched Birdman. (My thoughts on it: How on EARTH did this pretentious, artsy-fartsy, depressing nonsense win awards? Gah. There’s two hours of my life I’ll never get back.)

SOTD was Amouage Gold, and I know I’m going to horrify at least one person, but — I don’t like it. I know, I know! I’m the AldeHo, I should like Gold. I kinda like Dia, though I wasn’t tempted in the least to buy it, and the Gold body lotion is wonderful on my mom. I had tried it from a sample someone sent me back in, oh, 2010 maybe?, and I didn’t like it then. My notes say it was “too big,” and I don’t think that anymore, but like vintage Arpege parfum, Gold is… thick. And heavy. And animalic. I didn’t feel elegant in it, I felt stinky. (And also like I ought to lose my AldeHo card.)

Sunday, Jan. 8: All the local churches were canceling services today, and I expected ours would as well, since we meet in one of the local elementary schools and there’s no guarantee the school system will scrape the parking lot before Monday. However, we all overslept, and when we woke up with half an hour to eat something, get dressed, and leave the house, the NOAA website said that the temperature with wind chill was -8F. That’s -22 Celsius, btw. DOUBLE BRRRR. So we decided to stay home. I made choc-chip pancakes for breakfast, chili for dinner, and put on some Soivohle Centennial for the warm fuzzies effect.

 

 

 

 

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Recipe: Hot Spiced Cider Punch

For Bookworm, with love.

This is the basic for-a-crowd recipe that I always make around Thanksgiving and Christmas — with everybody hanging around the house, it just sits in a big pot on the stove, next to the mugs and the ladle, and I add to it as needed through the day. I don’t know how to cut it down for fewer servings, unless you were to make it once and freeze it in small batches.

I have, in the past, taken the time to deliberately dry orange and lemon peels (see link for a how-to) and store them for use in this cider punch, and that works fine. However, I find that we typically have citrus fruit in the house this time of year anyway since the high school FFA citrus orders arrive the first or second week of December, so I just slice up fresh and add them to the pot.

This recipe has a lot of stretch and give to it, and will accept any number of substitutions, so long as you keep tasting and adjusting. Like it sweeter? add a little more brown sugar, or maple syrup if you have it on hand.
Like it tangy? Add a bit more lemon juice, or leave the sugar out.
I love spice, so I throw lots of cloves and ginger in, but you can adjust the amounts of whole spices however you like. Add a few green cardamom pods or whole star anise if you have access to them (I don’t). If you hate having stuff floating around in your cup and don’t have a strainer to ladle the punch through, you can tie up the spices in a cheesecloth bag.
If you can’t find cider at the grocery, wing it with apple juice instead. Use the frozen juice concentrates if you have to. Because there are are so many flavors in this punch, I can’t taste that much difference. Cider does have more “body” than plain juice, but it is considerably more expensive, too. You decide; either way it will be good.
I tend to buy decaffeinated tea because there are people in my family who are very sensitive to caffeine, but of course the regular works fine.
Like it spiked? Add in a few ounces of bourbon, applejack, or spiced rum, to your taste.
See? That sort of thing. Play with it, have fun. I always enlist Bookworm as my taste-tester when she’s home.

Ingredients:
3 quarts to 1 gallon apple cider or apple juice
2 whole oranges, sliced (or substitute 1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, or 3-4 large pieces of dried orange peel)
1 whole lemon, sliced (or substitute 2 tablespoons of juice – bottled is fine)
2-3 individual teabags of black tea, chai, Earl Grey or herbal spice (or combination)
2-4 cinnamon sticks, broken (I hit them with a meat tenderizer – small pieces give more cinnamon flavor)
1-2 tablespoons whole cloves
1/2 – 1 tablespoon whole allspice berries
3-4 small pieces crystallized ginger, or 1-2 peeled disks of fresh ginger
1/4 to 1/2 cup brown sugar, to taste

(For variety, I sometimes add a thawed can of this apple-cherry juice, and a cup of water. The apple-cranberry juice is good, too.)

Directions:
Pour juice or cider into a large pot and add the citrus slices and whole spices. Heat over medium-low heat until mixture begins to simmer (tiny bubbles forming at the bottom, and/or wisps of steam rise from the top). Then turn heat to very low.

Steep the teabags for 4 minutes separately in 2-3 cups of boiling water. Then, unless you are only using herbal tea (such as Celestial Seasonings Bengal Spice), remove the teabags from the liquid. Heat and time will make black tea taste bitter. Add this brewed tea to the cider mixture, and then add brown sugar until you’re happy with the taste.

Ladle through a strainer to remove the spices and citrus peels. Enjoy!

 

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Scent Diary, Oct. 31 – Nov. 6, 2016

416743892-endora-2t
Those false lashes tho

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Scent Diary, Oct. 17-23, 2016

autumn-leaves-light-wallpaperMonday, Oct. 17 – It was downright warm for October today, into the low 80s. Indian summer, I suppose… I went out to do errands, and had to roll the windows down for comfort. Among other places, I went by TJ Maxx to see if they had any more of those Paddywax Pumpkin & Spice candles that are a gorgeous mix of PS and mellow tobacco, but of course they’re gone. Did some grocery shopping, had the MDF molding boards for the bathroom mirror-framing project recut to the CORRECT SIZE ๐Ÿ˜ณ , and picked up a pair of black dress pants for Gaze since he’s been wearing his suit pants for every. single. FFA activity (he’s an officer). As I came home, I could smell that beautiful dry-leaf scent, as my tires crunched over them.

Sigh. Autumn is wonderful. Annnnnd – I later found a couple of those candles for sale on eBay, too. Yay me. ๐Ÿ˜€ SOTD was Le Temps d’une Fete, because I can’t resist it on sunny fall days.

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

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

Wednesday, Oct. 19 – Warm again. Dang it, I want my sweater weather back! And by “sweater weather,” I mean the kind of weather in which one only needs a light cardigan or jacket outside. Like, 65-75F, or late August in Kensington. ๐Ÿ˜‰ SOTD was a sample from SIXTEEN92, one of six that I’ll be reviewing in two batches soon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Scent Diary, Oct. 10-16, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, Oct. 14 – Gray and chilly today, a real contrast to Wednesday’s absolutely-perfect autumn weather. I should have done laundry and hung it out on Wednesday, but was too busy, so today it’s all going into the dryer. ๐Ÿ™ The weather is, however, wonderful for SSS Tabac Aurea, which I lurve, and The CEO smelled really fabulous in his sexxaay Halston Z-14.

Incidentally, a number of fragrance reviewers, mostly the guys who do Youtube videos, have called the current formula of Z-14 an abomination because it’s so different from the old stuff. They say it used to be chock-full of moss and patchouli and other good stuff now restricted (and expensive), and that now it smells mostly of cheap furniture-polish lemon oil and Big Red gum. I don’t want to call them crazy, because we allll know that reformulations have messed with so many of the classics. And I don’t want to call them whiny, because I certainly have complained about the changes to Le Temps d’une Fete (yeah, before it finally got the axeย  ๐Ÿ™ ). BUT. I picked up a tester bottle for Z-14 in the summer of 2015, and spritzed it on a card… and my knees got weak. I was reduced to near-incoherence at how wonderful it was. Reader, I bought it on the spot. There’s cinnamon in there, but it only peeks out from the woods from time to time, and the citrus note is subdued. It smells like a Rainbath Intense EdP, and I love Rainbath. Shrug. I don’t care that it’s been messed with, I just know it smells great. If the old stuff smelled better than this, my knees had no chance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Being Crafty (Lined Crocheted Purse)

Over the summer, Bookworm set herself to use up as much as possible of the substantial yarn stash that my grandmother Sarah Lou (“Bambaw”) left behind her.

WRONG.
WRONG.

Please notice that I do not mention the considerable supplies of unpainted china, designs, and china paints she didn’t get around to using before her death at the age of almost-92. Nor the stacks upon stacks of fabric, yarn, clothing patterns, embroidery floss, buttons, and other notions. My other grandmother, Nell, a quilter, also left a similar pile of fabric and notions when she died at 92. She moved from her enormous farmhouse to a condo ten years before, and had reduced her stash to what she thought would be manageable before the move. All the same, after her death, my three aunts were cleaning out the condo and I overheard them discovering yet another supply of fabrics. Oh, the moaning!

I come from a long line of packrats, and it disturbs me, but so far not enough that I’ve begun jettisoning my own craft supplies. I really need to find a new home for the cross-stitch, however, because it hurts my hands. My fingers get numb within five minutes of holding a needle. And I hate that, and I would love to get back to stitching, but it’s just not going to happen. Neither can I crochet with thread and steel hooks anymore, same reason. These days I work with fat yarn and ergonomic hooks.

(No, she just leaves it to her mostly-non-crafting descendants.)
(No, she just leaves it to her mostly-non-crafting descendants.)

However, back to Bambaw’s yarn stash and Bookworm’s attempt to whittle it down… this past summer, she picked a couple of skeins of peculiar yarn out of the box and decided to do something with them. They were cream and goldenrod shades, and of a sport weight size, not very soft but with an attractive sheen to them. These skeins were of 100% rayon, and so old that the price tag on them said 29ยข! Bookworm ruled out making her usual items (hat, scarf, dishcloth, rug) from them and finally settled on making a purse. For me, because she never carries one.

Purse and coordinating glasses case.
Purse and coordinating glasses case.

It’s wonderfully cheery, very summery. Looking at it makes me happy. But, of course, it’s crocheted, which means holes, which means you lose things like pens and perfume sample vials and stuff like that, which means that it needed a lining. Which meant that I needed to sew one.

Six months and eight tutorials later, it is done.

Completed lining.
Completed lining.

I used an old, worn, fitted sheet from a set with a pattern I always loved, in colors that make me happy – I cut off the bad elastic near the foot of the sheet, where the pattern was still bright and the cotton in good shape, and used it to line my lovely summery striped bag.

It was a lot of work – measure and cut, iron on interfacing, cut again, measure and mark again, make a stiffener for it, change the thread on the sewing machine, mess with the (aging) sewing machine… rip out a badly placed seam and resew it… then hand-sew it in, a little bit at a time (because hand-sewing makes my hands hurt).

Finished product!
Finished product!

Totally worth it. I love it.

Thanks to my sweet thoughtful Bookworm. Thanks to my mother, who gave me my inexpensive Kenmore sewing machine 23 years ago (she knew I’d need it!), and thanks to my grandmother, who probably snapped up that rayon yarn at half-off, at least forty years ago. The purse might be new, but it says family to me. I’ll carry it with pleasure.

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Mid-November 2015

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

Sorry.

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).ย  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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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.ย  ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

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?

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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.ย  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.

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