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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Where is the love?

where is the loveI can’t be the only person whose parents kept the radio station on the Easy Listening frequency, can I? I grew up on Roberta Flack’s recording of this song, about love that was promised and then came to nothing. (Hear it here on Youtube.)

And no, I’m not talking about the Black Eyed Peas version, which is a completely different song and which I did not know existed until I went looking for Roberta. I would feel hopelessly out of date, except that the BEPs are not a group/genre that I tend to follow. I listen to the Alternative station, myself. 🙂

Annnnyway… I recently opened and used a decant of a fragrance that I had had on my wishlist for a long time, and when one of the decanting services had a 20% off sale recently, I bought an 8ml spray.  When it arrived I set it aside because I was in one of my mini-obsessions with RL Safari, but the other day I decided I was ready for that CdG Zagorsk which I had craved for so long. I sprayed it on… and I no longer love it.

joe-petersburger-a-church-surrounded-by-pine-trees-in-a-hillside-meadowThe several wearings I gave my sample vial took me to an imagined church in a snowy city, where the sky is a pale wintry blue and the church is surrounded by balsams and junipers, the cold stone and the wooden pews combining with the incense to be cool and invigorating. It was whole, all of a piece, a complete sense journey.

Today, I’m getting a piecemeal sort of experience, like this: “Iris. That’s a weird celery-like iris,” followed by “Yeah, there’s that cold stone thing, I still like that,” and “Is that gin?” Then, later, “Okay, yeah, wood. And incense. Knew that’d show up.” But it isn’t the whole church-in-snowy-woods thing that it was in my sample, and I am disappointed.

So I’m sitting here with this thing on my wrist and thinking, What is wrong with me? Is it the wrong day/weather/venue for this scent? Has it changed? Did I only like it dabbed from a sample, did spraying change its qualities? Where is the love, y’all?

My original sample vial (ordered from The Perfumed Court, not affiliated, in 2012) is empty, so I can’t check to see if there’s been a reformulation. But it occurs to me that it’s happened to me before, that I loooooved something from a sample and then found that a decant, or a full bottle, didn’t satisfy.

Has that ever happened to you?

And what do you do about it?

I will probably hang on to Zagorsk and try it again at a different time/in different weather. Mind you, it wasn’t awful, it was just… meh, and I can’t remember why I wanted it instead of the half-dozen other things I considered purchasing in a decant. But I confess, I’m rather cranky about it.

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Mid-November 2015

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

Sorry.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So. ‘Sup with y’all?

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Random Thoughts, early August 2015

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

I still hate August.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned for the Aotearoa-New Zealand travelogue.

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