I sort of accidentally overwrote my Scent Diary for Feb. 9-15. Whoops. Nothing much happened anyway – the kids were out of school due to frigid temperatures (there are places in the county where students have to wait for a very early bus that they have to walk half a mile or more to reach). We did a TON of laundry, and basically got back into the swing of things after our San Antonio trip.
Monday, Feb. 16 – Cold. Snowing. Yay!! This is the first time all winter we’ve had serious snow. SOTD is Soivohle Centennial, for warmth, because it’s blusterous and in the single digits temperature-wise. The CEO has canceled his morning classes.
Tuesday, Feb. 17 – It was fairly warm today, in the low 30s, and the boys went out to play in the snow. It’s too powdery to be good sledding snow, but they were having some success building a snow fort with our neighbor, seven-year-old Zach.
One more of Gaze’s ewes lambed, but the lamb had a fairly serious birth defect and was either stillborn or died shortly after its umbilical cord was torn. It was sad. SOTD was Parfum Sacre, wonderful cozy rose-incense-vanilla.
Wednesday, Feb. 18 – Back to cold temperatures, and school is still out, but The CEO went off to Va Tech today. I worked on some sewing and laundry. SOTD was vintage Emeraude parfum de toilette, mmmmm. Took the boys in for their dental cleanings; took Gaze to get a haircut.
Thursday, Feb. 19 – Chilly weather. The dog is HAVING A TOTAL BLAST in the snow, by the way. He loves it. Took Gaze for his orthodontist checkup, and did some grocery shopping. Worked on farm books stuff. SOTD was Memoir Woman, because I love it so.
Friday, Feb. 20 – Really COLD again today. It was 3F when I got up at 7:15. Brr. SOTM: testing Uzac Satin Doll and Caron Pour Une Femme, both modern chypre things a little too light for this weather. SOTA: Escada Margaretha Ley, yummy ylang/white floral/coconut tropical thing that packs some serrrrrrious sillage. This is a good thing when it’s 6F by 1 pm. Go big or go ho-
Oh. Wait. I AM home. Never mind. I’m going big anyway.
Saturday, Feb. 21 – Started out by testing Bogue Maai, which has been described as a chypre Amazon on a panther. Did I get that? Um, nope. We were supposed to get snow, turning to sleet, later on today but it started early. Ugh. Fire in the fireplace, cleaning up the house.
Taz left the C volume of the encyclopedia out on the dining table, and I was about to fuss at him for it when it occurred to me: hey. My kid still reads the encyclopedia. I can’t really complain too much about it. (Yes, he knows how to Google. But there’s no computer in the kitchen/DR area. Or in the kids’ bedrooms, either.)
New lamb today! This one’s another boy, and he seems to be doing just fine. So now we have Precious, Sweetie, and George, and they are JUST SO CUTE. We might keep Precious, so far the only ewe lamb, but I expect the other two will go on off to market. I’m deliberately not thinking about it. SOTE was Shalimar Light.
Watched “Patton” with The CEO and the boys this evening, and crocheted some on Bookworm’s afghan. I’d never seen it, and I don’t think it was meant to be a funny film, but I spent about half the time cracking up at something Patton just said. The man was an egotistical nutcase/genius, and the utter temerity of his unfiltered comments were just… well, I kept thinking to myself, No way did he really just say that! IMDB, however, reports that a lot of Patton’s dialogue was watered down from his real-life commentary. HOO boy.
Sunday, Feb. 22 – Nasty weather this morning. No church today due to icy conditions. It’s much warmer today than yesterday (from about 8F to 53F) and the driveway was clear by afternoon, but this morning we weren’t going anywhere. Ugh. SOTD was Chypre d’Amboise (a cheapie eBay find), followed by Soivohle Centennial. Made two more mobcaps for the community chorus Broadway concert this spring; our director wants most of the chorus dressed as extras from Les Miserables. Taz shoveled the driveway for us and did such a good job.
After church small group/youth group this evening, we went to the Chinese buffet place for dinner. I really don’t recommend being the last diners at a buffet – the selection is bad and the food condition not stellar (dried out/greasy). The hostess did tell me that if we wanted anything specifically, to just ask her and they’d make it, but at that stage we just wanted to eat what was there and not wait on anything else. The tea was good, though.
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.
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).
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.
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. HOME:
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…
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.
Friday, 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.
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.
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.
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.
Monday, Aug. 20 – Warm and lovely weather. SOTD: Moschino Funny! I’d better get a couple of wearings of this in before summer turns into fall. Pizza for dinner – Taz’s choice, because he starts school as a sixth grader tomorrow.
Tuesday, Aug. 21 – School went well, apparently. Taz said he only had to try opening his locker six times before he managed it. Think of that, only six… (to be fair, I tried his locker myself, and it is a little cranky). In the evening, we went to the high school to eat hot dogs and watch the marching band perform their show for parents. They did a good job, especially for August! There are some rough spots, and those same three struggling newbie band members have yet to figure out which is their left foot, but overall it’s pretty good. The color guard is about 75% newbies, and most of them haven’t quite got this “marching thing” down yet either, but it’s coming along. SOTD: YSL Paris Pont des Amours. Continue reading Scent Diary, August 20-26, 2012
Sorry for the delay in posting – I had to give the orphan calf Sammy a bottle this morning, and then I had to go pick up a crucial resource for Bookworm’s science fair project (boy, is she gonna owe me! I’m going to demand a clean room. And hugs).
Carolina Herrera – I ought to have liked this. You know me and my tuberose lust – I saved the sample for a year or so just so I could do a review for the Tuberose Series. And this is really gorgeous for the first ten minutes: a full-blown sunny oh-baby tuberose-jasmine combination, after which it goes soapy and sour for the next three hours. After three miserable test wearings, I have Officially Given Up on this one.
Bottega Veneta – I applaud the idea of a mainstream perfume, available in department stores, not smelling like candy or froot* or frooty candy or the doofiest, lowest-common-denominator mall juice. I applaud the idea of a pleasant, wearable leather scent for grown women. I further applaud the advertising campaign not showing naked women writhing in pseudo-sexual bliss, but focusing on a fully-dressed woman alone in a lovely landscape.
Monday, July 18: Considerably hotter than yesterday; by 1 pm the upstairs floor was completely miserable, several degrees hotter than the 80F downstairs. I turned the air conditioning back on. Went to fetch The CEO from a field he was mowing, and realized that Eddie Van’s left rear tire was absolutely flat, so I put the spare tire on. I got Bookworm to help me, because one of the things my dad never taught me how to do was to change a tire. Everyone should know how to change a tire. Bookworm may be small, but she’s strong, and she needs to be able to do it, so I made her do at least a piece of every single step. SOTMorning: Love, Chloe, which was an utter disaster. People recoiled from my arm in horror.
SOTAfternoon, when I thought we would have time to get the tire fixed or replaced and then get to the theater to see Part 2 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: a combination of Cristina Bertrand #3 and Samsara, both of which are strongly jasmine. I had put on the CB3 first, and found it a little too chilly, so the Samsara warmed it up. I don’t usually like to layer, but this one worked out fine. In any case, the tire guys finished with the van after the movie had started, so we decided to try again on Tuesday.
My mother-in-law Barbara has gone out of town for a few days, to a conference, which means that I am currently in charge of feeding her rotten cat, Fidel. (Fidel is not noticeably more spoiled rotten than Queen Silvia.) Fidel is mostly white, with gray tabby markings on his flanks and tail, and a mark on his face that looks for all the world like a mustache! He was mostly Bill’s cat and spent a lot of the day sleeping on Bill’s lap, so he’s been lonely lately.
Tuesday, July 19: Miserably hot again, 90F and very humid. SOTD: several, actually! I was mostly wearing Lumiere Noire pour femme, but also put on, for comparison’s sake, AgentProvocateur DD and Une Rose. It rained a little past noon, and then The CEO’s uncle called to let us know that there were several calves out on his road. Because The CEO was gone to a New River Land Trust meeting, and we were here without him, the kids and I had to go and get them back into the field. Actually, Bookworm did most of the work. There were six heifers who had jumped the Front Field cattle guard, and it was the second time they’d gotten out today, so we were instructed via cell phone by The CEO to put them into the Airport Field instead since they had figured out how to defeat the cattle guard. However, when Bookworm and Gaze went to get behind them and drive them toward the open gate into the Airport Field, two of them turned around and jumped the cattle guard to get back into the Front Field with the rest of the heifer calves, and one jumped the (really bad) fence into the Pond Field with the cows. Two came down the road nicely and went into the Airport Field as calmly as you could wish for, but one of them went through the fence into the Pond Field at another location, breaking at least two strands of barbed wire. Then she stood there looking at her friends on the other side of the road in the Airport Field, so we opened the Pond Field gate and let her walk across the road into the Airport Field.
And all of this during a thunderstorm, with buckets of rain…
After which, since I was already wet, I took a shower and got ready for our second try at seeing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. Put on La Myrrhe. I let Bookworm drive the 10 miles to R—-, for the 3 pm showing. We were very disappointed to find out that a local summer camp had bought all the tickets for the 3 pm showing for both today and tomorrow, and the theater was sold out! It’s also playing at 6 and 9pm, but the 9 seemed too late to Bookworm to stay up, and she had cross-country conditioning every day at 6, so that one’s out too. Looks like we’re out of business until Thursday.
When The CEO got home from a Land Trust meeting, he went out to check on a small group of cows in the Dobbins Pasture field, and found a really tiny premature calf. It was alive – unusual for such an early calf – but its mama was too excited to stand still and make it easy for him to nurse. So The CEO came home to thaw out some colostrum (I’ll bet you didn’t know we had that in the freezer!), and when he went back, he found that the calf had rolled under the fence and into the creek. This was not good – a newborn calf’s temperature needs to be kept up for several hours after birth, and being in the creek was dangerous both because of the body chill and the danger of drowning. However, the calf did take the bottle of colostrum and stood up again. He’ll have to be watched, and if his mama is still freaked out, we may have to feed him supplemental bottles.
I just hugged Taz good night, and it made him burp. Which made me laugh.
Wednesday, July 20: The CEO left this morning on a trip to visit all the Agricultural Technology students’ summer internships. I went outside to get into Eddie Van and go over to Barbara’s house to feed Fidel – and found that the front left tire was flat. Really, really flat. So I took the Ranger (his name is Walker, for reasons that should be obvious). Now I need to change the tire agaaaaain, which I’m not happy about, so I can get it fixed. Grr.
SOTD: Jour Ensoleille. Hot again. Mid-90s today, and humid. It must be July. Been watching Season 2 of Glee on Hulu with Bookworm… oh boy, the romance drama! Also, some embarrassing songs.
CEO took off today for his jaunt around the state, checking on the department’s summer internships. He’ll be back on Saturday. Jeff the Hired Guy reports that the preemie calf is standing up and making a good effort at nursing.
Thursday, July 21: Mowed the grass and got horribly sweaty. Did four loads of laundry. SOTD: Mary Greenwell Plum. Finally, finally took Bookworm to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II. It’s a pretty good adaptation; I could quibble to a small degree, but by and large, we were pleased. My opinion on movies based on books is generally that the closer the movie is to the book, the better, but often I’m disappointed.
(Cases in point: Smilla’s Sense of Snow and Billy Bathgate – both great books, not-so-great movies. The only two cases in which I like the movie better than the book: The Wizard of Oz and Forrest Gump. The book Wizard of Oz involves spunky, 20’s-slang-spouting nine-year-old Dorothy in a weird world – there’s no epiphany for her that home is wonderful. And I’m not fond of satire as a genre, as inForrest Gump – a cynical romp through a ridiculous world. Many people would say it is a ridiculous world, and I’m not arguing that it isn’t… exactly… I’m just saying that I am not a big fan of satire, except for ThePrincess Bride, which is actually only satirical in parts, and if you’re just after the “good parts,” you can skip the rest of it. The movie, by the way, is the “good parts,” plot-only version. I adore the movie, but the book is excellent as well.)
SOTEvening: Cuir de Lancome. Man, I ought to take every one of my usual “summer” scents out of the hatbox and pack ’em away. They’re not doing me any good at all. Too light, too chilly, too… somethin’. And when I’m not craving galbanum and fresh florals in hot weather, there’s something wrong with me… I’m not sure what.
Friday, July 22: Hot again. This is the week of the fair, and none of us is the least bit interested in going – it’s just too hot. Testing today: Tom Ford Champaca Absolute, and Shalimar Parfum Initial, neither of which are doing it for me. Champaca Abs is pretty for ten minutes and then unpleasant. Parfum Initial is dreadful for two hours and then nice. Guess it evened out. Sort of.
Saw The CEO’s sister E and her daughter, Primrose, who are visiting while Curiosity and his dad are at Boy Scout camp. They’re leaving after the family reunion tomorrow. Went to see Cars 2 – I’d thought it would be silly, but I enjoyed the light-hearted take on James Bond films.
The CEO called and asked us to go give the premature calf at the Dobbins pasture field half a bottle. It took longer than usual to get the bottle ready – Taz snuck up on me and hugged me while I was putting milk powder into the bottle, and it spilled all over the work surface in the laundry room. So I had to clean it up, because that stuff is sticky. Then Bookworm came in and I told her to, I quote, “put the lid on that bottle and shake it up, while I put on my shoes.” I handed her a half-full bottle with half-a-bottle’s worth of milk powder in it, and sat down to put on my shoes… only to look up and see that she’d filled it full to the brim with more water. Bad. Essentially, she’d watered down the bottle such that this calf (only as big as a medium-small dog) would only get half the nutrition that he really should be getting. So we had to start over. And then we got to the field and found that the mama cow (ear tag X13) was standing over something black and lumpy on the ground.
Yep, dead calf. Really, really dead. Then we had a concern that the cow might have had another twin, and I had to go and look closely at the dead calf to see if it was the one that had been born on Tuesday. If it had an ear tag in its left ear, it was the one that fell into the creek. However, the dead calf was lying on his left side, so that I had to get really close to it to try to lift its head and see if it was the creek calf. The mama cow objected, so Bookworm grabbed the Hot Shot out of the back and waved her off with it while I grabbed a stick and lifted the calf’s head up. It did have an ear tag. We left the calf there so that The CEO and Jeff could do a Weekend at Bernie’s with the calf and convince the cow to walk onto the cattle truck to be hauled to the hay shed and checked by the vet.
Saturday, July 23: Yet again, hot and humid. Bleah. SOTD: uhh… I don’t think I even put any – wait. Yes, I did. It was L’Artisan Mon Numero 8, and it was gone in ten minutes, leaving a slight faint smell of baby powder on my arm.
It threatened to rain, but did not actually do it here. After The CEO got home, he took the boys to an autograph signing and Salem Red Sox baseball game. I think they had fun – they came home with a Kris Negron bat and cap from a silent auction ($23). Kris played for the Red Sox a couple of seasons ago, and is now on the roster for the Cincinnati Reds, playing AAA ball with the Louisville Bats. He seems to be a nice guy; he was always pleased to throw used balls up into the stands where the little boys stand with their mitts, begging.
Bookworm would have gone with them, except that she had promised to volunteer at the table for our local Congressman at the fair. When she got back, she and I watched another episode of Glee. Seems like we’re doing a lot of horrified shrieks while watching Season 2, as in “I cannot BELIEVE that just happened!” or “I cannot BELIEVE how stupid these people are! The adults are worse than the teenagers!” or “Did they REALLY put this on TV???” We were particularly appalled by the alcohol awareness (cough, cough) episode.
Went to bed in Shalimar Light. Yes, the Blue Juice. I don’t apologize for it.
Sunday, July 24: Warm and humid in the morning. SOTD: PdN Le Temps d’une Fete, which I lurve beyond all reason. We got home from church, had lunch, and then The CEO and Bookworm took off to rake and bale a small field, hoping to get done before the storms came. Didn’t happen. It rained buckets. I’m tired… Scent of Bedtime was Shalimar Light again, yum.
The CEO, Bookworm, and I headed out in the Gator so we could get up some cows on Sunday afternoon, about 4:30. It was hot, but not ridiculously hot – 85F, with a little breeze – and the Gator is open, so when you’re going 15mph it feels like you’re speeding, and the wind blows your hair back, even if you are wearing a Virginia Beef hat borrowed from your husband. We went to the barn lot, down the gravel road lined on both sides with fences hung with honeysuckle vines (smelling heavenly on the hot wind!), and in through the Seven-Acre Field, calling the cows and bull that were in that field out of it. The grass was tall and headed out in that field, so that grass seeds kept flying at us, stinging my arms, as the Gator went through it.
What The CEO needed was a particular portion of the herd to move from one field through another to the small field he uses as a staging area for the barn lot. The barn lot is largely dirt, through years of use, and it holds a disused barn and the working pens and headchute. Generally the cows don’t want to go in there, because it’s not full of grass, and of course it probably smells like cow distress. In the same way that it’s difficult to entice the cat to get into the cat carrier when the only place she ever goes in it is to the vet’s office, where someone will poke her and prod her and mess with her teeth and give her shots, it’s hard to coax cows to go through a gate into a dirt field where they’ve been poked and prodded and given shots. They’re not that dumb.
The cows started the afternoon in a small field that’s referred to as “Weston’s,” so called because The CEO’s father’s first cousin Weston used to live in the house that adjoins it. Weston is a Presbyterian minister, he’s 78 years old, and he hasn’t lived in that house for probably 50 years, but it’s Weston’s Field by long habit.
When we got to Weston’s Field, The CEO started calling the cows to see if he could just call them into the next field without chasing anything. “Whooo, cows, come on. Whooo, cows, come on.” He dropped me off in what’s called the Back Side with a sorting stick (a three-foot length of black plastic pipe) near the gate and told me, “Stand here and don’t let ’em go down the hill. Make ’em go that way,” pointing toward the wooded area at the top of the hill. He and Bookworm went into Weston’s Field in the Gator, making sure that no animal had been left behind, as cows began coming into the Back Side.
Sometimes they’ll come willingly into a new field, because they’ve come to associate the “whooo, cows” call with fresh grass. I like to imagine that they’re thinking, “Hey, they just opened up a new section of the buffet! Come on, girls, let’s go!” In this case, they came happily into the new field and immediately started munching. If you’ve never been close to a group of 60 large animals, all munching at the same time, it’s interesting. It’s loud.
Cows are interesting, anyway: for one thing, they’re big. Most of ours are of mixed breed, what’s called a “commercial herd.” In our area of the country, that generally means a mixture of Angus, Hereford, Simmental, Charolais, and/or Gelbvieh genetics, and we’ve got elements of all those breeds in our herd. Most of our cows are black because the coat color, from Angus genetics, is dominant. However, because Simmentals and Gelbvieh are multicolored, Herefords are red with white faces, and Charolais are white, the dominant black coat doesn’t always win. We’ve got red cows, brown cows, dull yellow cows, white cows, even grayish and orange cows, making up about 25% of the whole herd, as you might expect if you remember your Mendelian genetics from high school: the incidence of dominant phenotype is about 75%, with recessive phenotypes presenting about 25% of the time. The white face of the Hereford breed comes out fairly often, with white patches on the faces of black cows. (My father-in-law had about five color designations for cows: black, brown, red, white, and yaller. Yaller could refer to anything from yellow to beige through gray to that odd orange color.)
We also happen to own about 15 Beefmaster cows, purchased secondhand from an enormous ranch facility in the western states that went bankrupt. Beefmaster is an acknowledged breed on its own, consisting of 50% Brahman, 25% Hereford, and 25% Shorthorn and especially well-adapted to the dry, hot conditions in the western US. They’re good big cows that usually have big healthy calves, and they’re good mamas – but they’re flighty and sometimes aggressive. They have independent streaks, which is somewhat contrary to the herd instinct that tends to be pretty strong in domesticated cattle. Cattle are like deer and antelope and wildebeest and all those herd animals that you’ve probably seen documentaries about on Wild Kingdom: wolves or dingoes or cheetahs cutting an animal out of the herd and hounding it until it’s alone and exhausted. Cows are no dummies when it comes to safety, and they like to stay together… unless they’re Beefmasters.
But back to what I was saying: cows are big. A full-grown commercial cow will generally weigh about 1100 to 1400 pounds. They have big liquid eyes and ridiculously long eyelashes and you can see the muscles move in their flanks as they walk, and if a cow managed to bump into you, you’d probably fall down. Our cows tend toward calmness, except for the Beefmasters, and unless they have newborn calves to protect, are not prone to aggressive behavior. (Of course there’s always a couple of wild, nervous ones, but by and large they tend to be pretty calm.) They have big teeth and big jaws, and the munching sounds are loud when they eat, whether it’s grass, hay, or silage.
Bulls weigh in at anywhere from 1800 to 2200 pounds, depending on breed, age and condition, and they can be five to six feet tall at the shoulder, making some of them as tall at the head as NBA players. Most of our bulls – we have six on the farm, and two more bull calves that won’t start earning their keep for another year or so – are purebred Angus, and although they’re more aggressive than cows, they are relatively gentle. We don’t have any of those “Beware of the bull” signs posted; they tend to ignore humans unless they think they’re getting access to fresh pasture or hot babes. (True bull factoid that inordinately irritates me, because of the correlation to human male sexuality: Bulls like cows. They really, really like cows – all cows, regardless of the color of their coats or the size of their udders. But they love heifers. We’ve had relatively calm-natured bulls plow right through barbed wire fences to get to a field full of young cows.)
So these cows came into the Back Side and immediately started to munch. They kept grabbing mouthfuls as Bookworm and I walked behind them, calling things like, “Cows, move!” and “Let’s go, ladies!” Then a few of them took off into the pond, and it was a pain to get them out of the water and moving forward again. Then the vanguard got spooked and headed down the hill, away from the gate into the Seven-Acre field, and we had to let them run awhile and get calmed down before getting behind them again and driving them up the hill toward the gate.
Here’s another thing about cows: they may look really slow and stupid, but they can run fast. We’re not talking racehorse fast here, but definitely faster-than-humans fast. Bookworm can almost keep up with them, but then she’s in great shape. A good sprinter, which she’s not, might be able to outmatch a cow over a short distance.
Eventually we did get the cows into the Seven-Acre field, and The CEO said to us, “I’ve got to go open the gate into the barn lot. I’ll be back.” So Bookworm and I stood on top of the field and swatted at bugs and panted (me more than her), while The CEO wrestled with the gate. We couldn’t quite see what was wrong with it; all we could see was that it wasn’t moving and he was doing something to it. The cattle went through their regular roll call, cows bawling out for their calves and calves bawling, “Mom! Hey, Mom!” and then, once they realized all were present and accounted for and nobody was chasing them, they settled down to munch grass, standing in the small area of shade under a black walnut tree.
The afternoon had slid into early evening, and the sky had gone a softer blue. A breeze stirred the hair about our foreheads, bringing with it the weedy, astringent odor of trampled herbage and a faint whiff of honeysuckle from the fencerow. Bookworm whirred her sorting stick in the air, for something to do, and from the Whittaker Woods field, we could hear a woodpecker absurdly loud in its pursuit of bugs. Birds sang. The breeze blew about us again, this time bearing the animal smell of cattle with the hot-bread smell of grass seeds drying.
Cows munched. We swatted at bugs. Wind blew, birds sang, the woodpecker thocked at his tree again. It was peaceful.
And then The CEO opened the gate and came back up the hill toward us in the Gator, and it was off to the races again, driving cows along the fence to the corner and then down the hill toward the gate. I’ve done this before when the cattle get to the corner and run down the hill and up the other side, and then they get to the gate corner and sheer off, going the other way. The Seven-Acre field is relatively small, but if you find yourself chasing a couple dozen tons of animal around it, it’s plenty big. However, this time it worked as it was supposed to work, and the cows went through the gate into the barn lot.
So after much congratulatory chatter, we got into the Gator and headed home, down by the Old Homeplace, by the spring, down the gravel lane I am now calling Allée des Chévrefeuilles, and turned the corner for home. The sky had gone periwinkle blue, and my clothes were wet with sweat, and the air-conditioned house felt like a little piece of heaven. We ate dinner very late, after our showers, and stumbled to bed early.
The next day there would be another bunch of cattle to move.