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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November 17, 2016

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

Sunshine and short sleeves.


Laundry on the clothesline.

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

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

Packing for Belize.

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

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

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

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

George is TICKED OFF.George is ticked off.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Election Day, 2016

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

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

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

No political party is running a moderate.

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

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

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

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

There was a line.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fergus, wearing a toupee made of his own fur. Unfortunately, he has been known to attack women - but only with his claws and teeth, and only if they moved him off the couch.
Fergus, wearing a toupee made of his own fur. Unfortunately, he has been known to attack women – but only with his claws and teeth, and only if they moved him off the couch, to which he is clearly entitled, being the Cat of the House.d choi
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Scent Diary, Oct. 3-9, 2016

Blue Ridge Autumn
Blue Ridge Autumn

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

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

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

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

Taz is 16!
Taz is 16!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SOTD is Cuir de Lancome. I smell great!

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

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Early Fall Seasonal Switch, Sept. 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m eagerly awaiting cooler weather. You?

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Her Life Was on Fire, But at Least She Smelled Good

farmhouse_fire_by_fishin_musician
“Farmhouse Fire” by Fishin Musician on DeviantArt (click through for link)

Ever had one of those life-upheaving events happen? Where you’re not sure where you’ll be tomorrow and what you’ll be doing? And you don’t know who will be with you?

Yep.

This has been my life, since April. I’ve managed a couple of posts since then, but it was in the spirit of stiff-upper-lip, steady-the-boat “normality.” That was probably a mistake, but then I’ve made a lot of those at this point.

Things are starting to settle down a bit. Things are looking up a bit, as well. (Counseling, reordered priorities, heavy-duty prayer, stuff like that. The fire is out, for the time being, and rebuilding is going on.)

The constant? You won’t be surprised to hear that I smelled good the whole time. I turned first to sweet, gentle roses, because roses smell like love, and they will heal your heart. Then my greenies came into play — because with me there are always greenies! — for spring, and for delight.

I was a little worried that I might accidentally ruin a favorite by associating it with a time of upheaval. It didn’t happen. I’m not sure why, except that I might have been conscious of wearing perfume for my own comfort, and I tended to choose fragrances I find comforting – nothing “difficult” or odd.

Joseph's Coat climbing roseI even bought something new: a slightly-used bottle of Teo Cabanel Early Roses, on eBay, at a very steep discount. I’d used up two samples, so it wasn’t a blind buy, and it had been on my vague and nebulous To Buy list, but it leapfrogged over a couple of other fragrances because of the bargain. I’m loving it. (FYI, it’s a gentle fresh rose over ambered woods, soft and pretty and uncomplicated.)

I’ve been running around like a no-headed chicken this summer, what with Gaze’s crazy schedule, and then there was a tropical vacation, and then we all got sick, but things are better now. More on The Suitcase Summer later.

Here’s to rebuilding. And smelling good no matter what. Love y’all.

 

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Sample Sortage and Storage

Pic stolen from Clouddragon.
Pic stolen from Clouddragon.

For at least a couple of years now, I’ve been keeping my samples in two compartmentalized plastic craft boxes, vaguely organized by house alphabetically. However, I had neglected filing them, and they were starting to pile up around the bedroom. In cardboard boxes… in the cute little carved wooden box my mother bought me at the Wolfahrt Haus gift shop… in the pink depression-glass bowls I have slung around the bedroom to corral the clutter.

Yoicks.

I bought another craft box and started sorting: A-H in one pile, I-P in another, Q-Z in the last. I had thought there would be tons of Ps, with all the houses named Parfums de Something, but the A-H pile was almost twice the size of the other two. Only at that point did it occur to me that there are a lot of perfumes from houses beginning with A, C, or G, and it’s a good thing one of my sample boxes is much larger than the other two.

I ran into a minor snag or two, when deciding how to file. Patou fragrances wound up in the J category, because the house is really called Jean Patou. But Balmain, although the house is formally known as Pierre Balmain, stayed in the B’s. Why? No good reason, except that’s how I think of them. (Balmain, incidentally, uses that B on its packaging, whereas Patou uses JP on its bottles.)

So. I have no “before” pics (no, this is a good thing. You’d be calling Social Services on me), but here are a few of the completed project.

The Big One, A-H
The Big One, A-H

Here’s Elisa of Bois de Jasmin on the way she stores her samples: http://boisdejasmin.com/2015/11/perfume-samples-where-to-get-and-how-to-store.html. The “sort into bags by genre” works for her, would probably drive me crazy. Whatever makes sense to you intuitively is probably best.

Box #2, I-P
Box #2, I-P

I’ve been finding things I haven’t tried, and things I really liked but not enough to buy a larger portion of, whether decant or full bottle. I’ve also been finding things I hated and wouldn’t touch again if you paid me — often things that other people find pleasant! — so I need to find them a new home. They’re mostly things that would only be appreciated by other fumeheads, so I don’t really see myself dropping them off in a ladies’ room at the mall. Can’t take them to the local women’s shelter; they don’t allow donations of used personal care items. Gah. Could maybe offer them for a penny plus shipping costs on ebay, I guess.

Box #3, Q-Z
Box #3, Q-Z

I do like to keep samples for reference sometimes, but sometimes they evaporate or turn, so they’re less than ideal for long-term storage. I shall endeavor to use them up — in the bathtub, if necessary.

I think I shall do another Rose Week soon! Apparently I never met a rose frag that I didn’t at least want to try, so I have a lot of samples here…

… a LOT of samples…

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The Five-Stars, Pt. 1 – According to Perfumes: The Guide

Five stars - CopyThe Friday challenge at Now Smell This this week was to wear a fragrance rated five stars in Perfumes: The Guide. Some readers, including me, made it a five-star week, and in fact I’m going to continue wearing one five-star scent for as long as it’s still fun. We’ll see how long I can keep going before I want something else.

Part One of this series is the list of five-star fragrances according to Perfumes: The Guide.  Part Two will be the list according to me. Five-star fragrances are described in P:TG as “masterpieces.” From my reading, additional criteria seem to involve things like distinctiveness, coherence, consistency, decent raw materials, and possibly innovation.

I won’t get into critique of the book that had the perfume blogs buzzing, or of the criteria used by authors Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez, though I would recommend that everyone who’s interested in perfume at least read it. Today I’d like to talk about the fragrances instead.

However, I will point out that even though the authors undoubtedly have a wealth of knowledge and understanding of the industry as well as of the heart of perfumery, they’ve got their own personal biases. So do I. So does everyone with a nose, so if you disagree with anyone on perfume, take their judgment with a grain of salt. Your own judgment is what matters most.

Tania Sanchez addresses the preference issue head-on when she says, “… one can certainly admire a perfume without necessarily loving it. Love, of course, is personal (but best when deserved).” She hits the issue from the side when answering FAQs, in this fashion:

Q: Why has Amarige got only one star, when it is in a top ten list in the back?
A: Amarige is a genius work of perfumery, utterly recognizable, memorable, technically polished, and spectacularly loud. But we hate it. In the end, we figured this was the fair thing to do.

Well, okay then. There you go, bias is acknowledged so you are allowed to disagree.

Here is the Perfumes: The Guide’s list of five-star fragrances (in alphabetical order by house, not by perfume name), and what I think of each one of them. If there is no description, I have not smelled the fragrance.

Amouage Gold Wearing this is like walking into a football stadium or some other giant enclosed space, albeit in the case of Gold, the AstroDome ceiling has been gilded and carved into rococo shapes. Enormous, colossal, too big for any one person to wear. (The body lotion, however, is wonderful.) Four stars.
Amouage Homage (now d/c)
Amouage Ubar I own a 5ml decant of this and am always forgetting I have it. It reminds me of my small bottle of Lancôme La Collection Climat, and of Parfums Divine Divine: creamy civet lemonade. Nice, but there are other fragrances I love better, and other Amouages I prefer. Four stars.
L’Artisan Parfumeur Dzing! Yep, virtual circus. Fun, but who really wants to smell of stale orange circus-peanut marshmallow candy, sawdust, and tiger pee? Three stars.
L’Artisan Timbuktu
L’Artisan Vanilia (now d/c)
Azzaro pour Homme Instant headache. So. Much. Lavender. Two stars.
Badgley Mischka Fruity chypres never suit me. They always seem curdled; I always get nauseous. Two stars.
Bond No. 9 Chinatown Fruity chypre/oriental. See “Badgley Mischka.” Two stars.
Boucheron Boucheron Pleasant, but muted. Basically floral soap with very sharp edges. Described by LT as “huge floral,” but he’s wrong. Three stars.
Bvlgari Black I like Black. I do. It smells mostly of new sneakers, or new bike tires, plus a powdery vanilla that reminds me of flavored coffee-creamer powder. That’s fun. Genius? Nope. Four stars.
Cacharel LouLou For once I’m in total agreement with LT’s description of it as having a texture like those glass Christmas-tree baubles that look like velvet and feel like sandpaper. We just differ in our enjoyment of that texture. Also, this sucker is really loud. I lived through the 1980s; I don’t necessarily want to revisit them. Two stars.
Caldey Island Lavender
Caron Pour un Homme
Caron Le Troisième Homme This is a floral (jasmine) fougére. Not my thing, and actually I find it sort of creepy. Three stars.
Caron Yatagan
Chanel 31 Rue Cambon For full disclosure, TS gave it four stars and I’m with her on that. It’s lovely, I enjoy wearing it, but I don’t think it’s groundbreaking or classic. I’ve gone through a 10ml decant (of which the last ml was unwearable, after six years), but to be perfectly honest, I could probably get by with just my Téo Cabanel Alahine for a floral amber.
Chanel Bois des Iles Lovely, lovely stuff. I first tried it from a sample of pre-Les Exclusifs eau de toilette, and it lasted at least four hours, dabbed. The Les Exclusifs version lasts about two hours on me, sprayed-until-wet. The parfum lasts better but hovers only two millimeters above skin. I’m taking half a star off the P:TG rating because of the longevity and sillage issues.
Chanel Cristalle Citrus chypres are not my thing, but in any case Eau Sauvage kicks this thing’s butt all over. Four stars.
Chanel Cuir de Russie As I’ve commented before, smells like our cattle working pens: live hides, dust, iodine, dry manure, sweat and fear. Just no. Two stars.
Chanel No. 5 eau de toilette Absolutely. The Guide nailed it.
Chanel No. 5 parfum Ditto.
Chanel Pour Monsieur
Chanel Sycomore
Clinique Aromatics Elixir As I’ve commented before, AE smells like somebody took a wiz all over a rose hedge. On paper, two days later, it’s absolutely wonderful; too bad I can’t skip that opening. Great stuff, unwearable by me, and a real bludgeoner into the bargain. Three stars.
Clinique (formerly Prescriptives) Calyx (now reformulated) I can’t manage the opening, which smells like overripe, rotting fruit. Once it’s past that stuff, it’s a wonderful sweet juicy floral with good intentions. Four stars.
Davidoff Cool Water This is the men’s version. Groundbreaking and all that, sure, but I think it smells a bit bare and chemical. Four stars.
Dior Diorella Fruity chypre. See “Badgley Mischka” and “Chinatown.” Two stars.
Dior Homme (now reformulated) Nice stuff. I don’t love it, but I think I may have tested the current version, which seems thin to me. Four stars.
Dior Dune Like a lot of powdery vanillas, it sits there on my skin being boring and flat. On my SIL, it’s great, warm, cozy. Four stars.
Dior Eau Sauvage This is what Cristalle wants to be when it gives up merely pretending to be nice and trims those lethal fingernails. Five stars.
Dior Poison (now reformulated) Man, I used to hate this thing back in the day. Dorm halls reeked of it. So did the university buses. Now that it’s been tamed and everybody isn’t wearing six spritzes too many, I rather like it. It has, however, lost its poisonous edge and they’ve upped the orange blossom in it so that it’s almost soapy. Four stars, unless you’ve got the old, soft, esprit de parfum concentration, in which case it gets five.
Elternhaus Unifaith (MoslBuddJewChristHinDao)
Estée Lauder Azurée Gin with lemon, driving gloves, a full ashtray, pointy fingernails and a steely gaze. Scary. Three stars.
Estée Lauder Beyond Paradise Two hours of lovely flowers, becoming barer and shriller after that thanks to whatever jasminoid aromachem. Like all the other classic Lauders, has something in the base that turns my stomach after a couple of hours. One of my aunts wears this, and she always smells lovely; I think it’s my skin. Three stars.
Estée Lauder Beyond Paradise Men
Estée Lauder Knowing Gives me the same nausea issue as the others, but it’s probably my favorite from this house. I love a nice rose chypre and wish I could wear Knowing as well as another one of my aunts does. Four stars.
Estée Lauder Pleasures Pale flowers and laundry musk. It might be the first and best of this kind of squeaky-clean thing, but leaving aside the usual Lauder base, this might be one of the most boring things I’ve ever smelled. Three stars.
Estée Lauder Private Collection I so wish I could wear this; green florals are right up my alley. Alas, the Dreaded Lauder Base pops through at T-2 hours. Four stars anyway.
Estée Lauder White Linen I like aldehydes, but White Linen has always smelled sour and vinegary too me. My private name for it is “Mildewed Laundry.” Three stars.
État Libre d’Orange Sécrétions Magnifique In The Little Book of Perfumes, which wound up being largely a stageshow revue of the five-stars in P:TG (plus reviews of four classic fragrances you can only smell at the Osmothéque in Paris), TS admits that she disagrees on SM and describes it as “absolutely revolting, like a drop of J’Adore on an oyster you know you shouldn’t eat.” Bang on, lady. It’s horrifying. One star.
Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel Classic, conservative, reassuring, absolutely masculine. Five stars.
Givenchy III I agree with LT that it smells like dirt under the flowers. We just disagree on how appealing that should be. Three stars.
Givenchy Insensé (now d/c)
Gucci Envy (now d/c) Metallic enough to make my back teeth hurt. Two stars. Yeowch.
Gucci Rush
Guerlain Après l’Ondée (recently reformulated) Impressionist perfection, at least in the version available in the mid-2000s. Now it’s more irisy and colder, less wistful with its heliotrope toned way down. I’d give it four stars now, but the older stuff is amazing and absolutely deserved its five stars.
Guerlain Chamade The epitome of romantic surrender, starting cold-shouldery as it does in galbanum and hyacinth and aldehydes, moving through rose, jasmine and other assorted flowers, and then gradually melting into a powdery-creamy mimosa-vanilla-woods comforter. Five stars.
Guerlain Derby
Guerlain Eau de Guerlain
Guerlain Habit Rouge
Guerlain L’Heure Bleue The EdT is Hell’s Medicine Cabinet. The parfum is medicinal pastry, but in a really good way. Five stars.
Guerlain Insolence eau de parfum Horrifying shrieky attack parrot with knives attached to its beak and feet. One star.
Guerlain Jicky Lavender and bad breath. Two stars for being groundbreaking and influential, zero for smelling good.
Guerlain Mitsouko Mitsy hates me. It took me over twenty tries to really “get” Mitsouko. I tried current EdT, I tried EdP, I tried vintage EdT, I tried vintage parfum, I tried current parfum. I tried different times of year and different weathers. Finally I tried some parfum from the early 1990s, and then I got it: round, full, autumnal, tapestried. I still don’t love it the way I love the vintage Coty Chypre parfum I tried – Chypre made me cry tears of overwhelmed happiness – but Mitsy is a force to be reckoned with. Five stars.
Guerlain Nahéma I have trouble smelling Nahema. The first time I tried it, I could tell there was something on my skin but could not smell it. The second and third time, all I really got was scented soap. I feel cheated, but there it is. I can’t give something this inane five stars; I’ll go with two. Word is this one’s discontinued anyway.
Guerlain Shalimar Lemon-vanilla-tar-and-sex. Utterly distinctive; in all its variations it’s always Shalimar and it’s always far too sophisticated for me. A marvel of perfumery. Five stars.
Guerlain Vol de Nuit I don’t understand this scent at all. If I look at the notes, I should like it if not love it: galbanum, jasmine, narcissus, moss and woody notes. On paper it sounds like my beloved Le Temps d’une Fete. I’ve gotten two different samples from the decant services (both edt, both relatively recent), and they smell like… nothing. Musty nothing. As if I opened the trunk that belonged to my great-great aunt and a moth flew out of it. I can’t be smelling what everyone else smells. One star.
Hermés Osmanthe Yunnan Gorgeous apricot-tea floral that lasts all of 2.4 seconds on me. How can they charge $200+ for this? Three stars.
Histoires de Parfums 1740 Marquis de Sade (now reformulated)
Issey Miyake Le Feu d’Issey (now d/c)
Jean Patou Joy parfum Heh heh heh. This thing is raunch in overdrive on me – amazing, alive, and thoroughly unashamed to be walking home the morning after, with hair bedraggled and makeup smeared, missing her panties. I can’t wear it, but it’s a five star if anything is.
Kenzo Ça Sent Beau “Beau” as in beautiful? No. This struck me as being like Calyx for Dudes. The melon-mango-flower-shaving cream thing is just Too Weird. Three stars.
Knize Ten
Le Labo Patchouli 24 (now reformulated) Smells like the 150-year-old stone smokehouse behind my grandparents’ house, which produced many a Virginia ham in its day. Fascinating, but who wants to smell like that? Three stars.
Lolita Lempicka I resisted trying this one for ages, as I’d read that it was a takeoff on Angel. It’s only tangentially related, and LL is both interesting and really pretty. Four stars.
Lush (formerly Be Never Too Busy to Be Beautiful) Breath of God
Missoni Missoni Off-putting, like a soft chocolate with an incompatible flavor center (lemon? Kiwi? Mango?) Two stars.
Montale Oud Cuir d’Arabie
Ormonde Jayne Ormonde Man
Ormonde Jayne Ormonde Woman Wonderfully coniferous for three minutes, violet for one, and then amberamberamberamber. Dull and considerably overrated. Two stars.
Paco Rabanne Calandre (now reformulated) I was taken aback by TS’s “wire mother” review of Chanel No. 19, particularly because this hissy, metallic, narrow-eyed parody of femininity should have gotten that review instead. Three stars.
Parfums de Nicolaï New York
Parfums de Nicolaï Odalisque (now reformulated) Doesn’t move me, but is really wonderful. Delicate yet strong in nature. Okay, fine, I’ll call it five.
Parfums de Nicolaï Le Temps d’une Fête (reformulated twice and now d/c*) If you held a gun on me and told me to choose one bottle, just one, of all the ones in existence in the world, I’d pick this one. Magical. Eight stars. 😉
*For a time, you could special-order it through the PdN website. However, when I emailed PdN in November to ask about it, I was told it was not available. I have backup bottles, but I mourn.
Parfums MDCI Enlèvement au Sérail Reminds me of Joy. Different flowers, same raunch, same aliveness. Still unwearably skanky for me personally. But given my reaction, how can I give it fewer stars than Joy? Five.
Parfums MDCI Invasion Barbare
Parfums MDCI Promesse de l’Aube Absolutely gorgeous. As innocent as Enlevement is carnal and just as florally overwhelming. Five stars.
Pascal Morabito Or Black
Robert Piguet Bandit How can I give this perfume that always rushes at me with a scimitar five stars? (shudder) Sure, it’s got galbanum. Sure, it’s amazing and influential and all gender-bendy kewl, but I hate it. I can’t wear it. Four stars, and that’s because I’m allowing for history.
Robert Piguet Fracas Everybody always says Fracas is The Quintessential Tuberose scent, but that’s not so. However, you can make a case for it being The Quintessential Big White Floral, because of that metric crap-ton of orange blossom in there. Basically, on me it smells like tuberose cold cream, and wearing it is like whacking a guy you fancy over the head with the heel of your marabou kitten-heel slipper and dragging him into your boudoir to have your way with him, once he wakes up all disoriented by your cloud of scent. Five stars.
Rochas Tocade (now reformulated) I liked Tocade at first. I used up a good 30 ml of it when I first bought the bottle, because it was awfully friendly. Then That Slut Tocade started hanging out with the smokers, and every time she came home her bottle smelled like ashtray. Maybe this fragrance doesn’t age well, but whatever. I’ve gone right off her and am ready to kick her out of the sorority. Three stars.
S-Perfumes 100% Love Hissy, screechy geranium-y rose backed by pungent patchouli and dusty chocolate-milk mix. Dear God, kill me now. One star.
S-Perfume S-eX
Serge Lutens Bois de Violette Nice. Faint and timid version of Feminité de Bois. Way overrated. (And I even like violets.) Three stars.
Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist Reportedly the earthiest, driest, rootiest, most pallid and ethereal iris evarrrrr. I don’t know why it makes me think of pigtailed little girls with freckles playing hopscotch. I find it cheerful. Four stars.
Serge Lutens La Myrrhe Like a pink-and-gold sunrise over blue-shadowed snow. Pristine, cold yet warm. Astonishingly beautiful. Five stars.
Serge Lutens Sarrasins Filthy jasmine leather. Who wants to wear this? Smells like what I imagine the back room of a strip club would smell like. (Also, it’s purple. I hate purple.) Three stars.
Tauer Perfumes L’Air du Désert Marocain A very calm, meditative, yet comfortable scent. I wouldn’t have called it transcendent, but I can’t really name a reason I would knock a star off, so all right, five stars.
Theo Fennell Scent (now d/c)
Thierry Mugler Angel Like I drank an entire bottle of cherry cough syrup and fell into a vat of Drakkar Noir. I do not give two flips that Angel started the whole gourmand trend and the fruitchouli trend and the gender-crossing Coco Mlle. trend. Famed perfumer Guy Robert is quoted at least a couple of times in P:TG as saying “A perfume must above all smell good.” This? Doesn’t. One star.
Tommy Hilfiger Tommy Girl Like drinking lemony iced tea in the sunshine in an American garden. Pretty, unpretentious and easy to wear. (Hello, Angel? This one smells good. Take notes.) Five stars.
Yves Saint Laurent Kouros
Yves Saint Laurent Opium (now reformulated) If I may use someone else’s words: “A genius work of perfumery, utterly recognizable, memorable, technically polished, and spectacularly loud. But [I] hate it.” One star, and I’m not sorry.
Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche This aldehydic floral packs every bit as much metal as a factory floor and is considerably less warm and fuzzy. It has rose in it? Where? That’s no rose, that’s a very screechy geranium, plus a hyacinth note so metallic it twangs. Two stars.
Yohji Yamamoto Yohji Homme (now d/c)

This list does not include anything released after 2009; nor does it include anything Dr. Turin has reviewed since the publication of P:TG in his Style Arabia columns. It was a vast undertaking, and yet it is now (and always was, really) inadequate to the current flood of perfumes on the market today. Still worth a read for information and entertainment, if you ask me.

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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 29¢! 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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