Early February, 2019

Whoops, I skipped a week of posting. Sorry ’bout that! I may post a second time this week to make up for it; I do have another set of mini-reviews to put up soon. Or, you know, Valentine’s Day is coming up, so I may cobble together some Vally-day recommendations.

So the polar vortex spun through and then we had spring-ish weather for a few days, and now the cold is back. Feels like a normal February.

I’ve been wearing a mixed bag of fragrance favorites: Jolie Madame, Ralph Lauren Lauren (vintage) and Safari, Guerlain Floral Romantique, Chanel 31 Rue Cambon. Tried a few new vanilla scents from CocoaPink (Frosted Eyelet and Snowflakes, which were nice but no Triple Vanilla Dream, wink wink). Retried my samples from January Scent Project for a review I think I might have promised a year ago — just the three original scents of Eiderantler, Selperniku, and Smolderose, since I can’t get my paws on the newer Vaporocindro (though I don’t think it’s up my alley anyway).

No news on the Essure removal front, because I can’t get anyone at the allergist’s office to return my calls about testing me for allergies to nickel and titanium. I think it may be time to go see a different allergist.

The knee is still weak but recovering. Plantar fasciitis is mostly at bay. Gained four pounds back, so I must regroup with the diet.

Attended an alumni function for my small college, at the Taubman Art Museum in Roanoke with a former housemate. It was so nice to see Laura, and to see that her post-separation life is gaining a shape it maybe always should have had.

I plan to add links here to my other — long-neglected — blog, the one focused on my fiction. I’m currently working through a book program called DIY MFA, and will be posting on the other blog my answers to exercises from the program . . . assuming I can actually get into my other blog. I haven’t touched it in a couple of years. Yikes.

And Taz made the official decision to attend Emory & Henry College next fall. He’ll be majoring in history (with an intent to teach), and if all goes well, will be running cross-country for the Wasps. We’re so proud.

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Mini-Review Roundup, End of January 2019

(Wow, it’s been a while since I saw this image… and I still have no idea where it came from. Yee-HAAAA!)

Here are some mini perfume reviews for you today; generally speaking, these were not winners for me. I could have titled this post “What Was I Thinking?” and you would wonder along with me why I bothered to mess with orientals when I have such a poor track record with them.

I dunno. It’s winter? It’s really cold? There are some orientals I do like? I felt like being inclusive and equal-opportunity? I was wearing my Bad Idea Jeans?

Or . . . it’s winter? Srsly, I got nothin’. I guess I feel like whining about these.

Guerlain Le Parfum du 68: (How did I even get this? Was this a freebie someone sent to me? I can’t possibly have thought this would suit my tastes.) Fragrantica calls it a “woody spicy,” not an oriental, but on me? oriental. Very powdery, not woody-spicy — there is a ton of tonka bean in this. Official notes: spicy notes, immortelle, tonka bean, benzoin, incense and leather. But it’s really like a no-citrus, powder-bomb version of Shalimar: boring.

Annick Goutal Ambre Fetiche — I’m not much of an amber fan, as you might know. Honestly, I can’t remember why I got this sample, unless it’s because I picked it up for cheap when The Posh Peasant was going out of business as a decant service.

The official notes are “amber, frankincense, labdanum, styrax, benzoin, iris absolute, vanilla, and Russian leather,” but what this thing smells like to me at first sniff is root beer. Eventually a nice bit of what smells like church incense (heavy on the benzoin, yum) pulls up, and I think some woods (?), but it’s unable to overcome the initial impression of root beer. Good thing I like root beer. This one lasts forevvvver, which is unusual on my skin and probably due to its focus on basenotes. I like it, but it’s a one-trick pony.

Annick Goutal Myrrhe Ardente — I tend to like myrrh wherever I run across it. (Why? Dunno.) It’s not as universally beloved as frankincense, and it often smells medicinal, but [shrug] there it is. Official notes: myrrh, benzoin, vanilla, tonka, gaiac wood, and honeyed beeswax.

I read at least a couple of reviews of this scent that called it “all root beer, all the time,” but I don’t get root beer out of this one. (Unless, of course, somebody mixed up my samples. Possible.) There’s something very sharp and not-quite-unpleasant but not-entirely-pleasant about it. Herbs? It reminds me just a tad of the wackadoodle opening of Serge Lutens’ almost universally reviled Serge Noire, except that I liked Serge Noire, and I don’t like this.

Actually, I begin to believe that maybe someone did mix up these samples. There is a crap-ton of labdanum in the sample labeled Myrrhe Ardente, and no noticeable labdanum (which often smells like a mildewed rubber tent to me) in the sample labeled Ambre Fetiche. But . . . I dunno. Meh. It occurs to me now that there was literally no point in my testing oriental fragrances, even if they did come from Annick Goutal.

Incidentally, Goutal has revamped their line and changed all their packaging within the last few years, and I miss the old stuff. The new bottles seem less charming and more commercial. But the lovely Songes and Heure Exquise are still on the website, and I’m relieved.

Annick Goutal Encens FlamboyantePSYCHE!!! I never actually managed to get a sample of this well-regarded (Tania Sanchez gave it a 4-star review in Perfumes: The Guide) third member of the Les Orientalistes collection, and now the collection is defunct if I remember correctly. Oh well. Supposedly smoky, piney and frankincensey, which is kinda not my thang anyway. Just thought I’d mention it since I was testing the other two.

SIGH. I think I will go put on some vintage Coty Emeraude and call it a day.

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A Life Update, late January 2019

Having whined so loudly and bitterly last fall about my personal health issues, I figured I was about due for a lemme-sum-up post. If you’re here for the perfume, check back on Thursday for a Mini-Review Roundup.

Still a long road to walk

So an update on my weight: down 25 pounds from last June. I kinda went off the diet in December and have had some difficulty really following the plan this month, but have only gained two pounds back. (So far, anyway.) Since I had many more than that to go, I’m back on the diet now. It’s a reduced-carb, lower-glycemic-index, lower-fat regimen, the original South Beach Diet — not the one you see ads on TV for now, because Nutrisystem bought SB out. I could probably lose weight on the ketogenic diet, but could I sustain the diet for long? I doubt it. And even if I could, it seems that cutting out an entire category of healthy food is probably not great long-term. So. SBD it is.

I have not yet lost enough weight for the Essure removal surgery I was considering, so I’m still trying to do an end-around run through getting some allergy testing, because there’s a different doctor who would probably be willing to remove it for that reason. He’s in Virginia, at least, and if I had an allergy test showing sensitivity to nickel, he’d code it as necessary for insurance to cover at least part of the cost. HOWEVER — the allergist my old GP sent me to has yet to actually order the tests, even after my repeated calls to check on it. So I need a different allergist, too.

The plantar fasciitis in my left foot abated enough for me to stop physical therapy . . . and has begun to recur, so I need to step up my PF exercises again. I think it may just be an ongoing issue for me the rest of my life, and it may be associated with SITTING a lot. Which, as you know, a writer does a lot of. Therefore, I need to be dividing my time between sitting and exercising my fingers on a keyboard, and moving the rest of my body around.

Red ginger at Hawai’i Tropical Botanical Garden, photo by Joe Guthrie

I messed up my knee on vacation in Hawai’i — it was that long, long steep hill down to the beach at Hanauma Bay on O’ahu first, and then that long, long steep hill at the Hawai’i Tropical Botanical Gardens on Hawai’i a few days later, plus the walking from terminal to terminal at airports. (If those two places hadn’t been absolutely AMAZING, I’d be kicking myself now for visiting them.) Plus twisting my knee on unstable ground at home the following week, twisting it again the day after that, in the long grass in the shop lot in the dark, getting wood, and then twisting it badly again two days later on snow. The new doctor in my primary care office said he thought it was probably arthritis, exacerbated by my weight, and gave me a prescription for heavy-duty naproxen sodium for the inflammation, as well as suggesting lots of R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, in case you’re not familiar). It helped to some degree but the knee is stiff and painful most of the time now. I’ve definitely been seeing the wrong GP! I’ve officially changed my primary care physician to the new guy in the practice, who was sympathetic but practical and didn’t dismiss my concerns.

In any case, I’ve now had a baseline x-ray, from which the orthopedist determined that I have mild osteoarthritis and mild narrowing of the knee joint. He gave me exercises to do, and suggested that if things are not considerably better in a couple of months, we’d try a steroid shot. The orthopedist was terrific, too. Listened to me, didn’t treat me like an idiot, gave me common-sense advice without throwing a prescription at me in the hopes that I’d just go away. Taz had actually seen this guy last year when he was having hip pain, and Dr. Maher was just that great with him. It feels good to rediscover medical professionals who take exam-table-side manner seriously.

Still a long road to walk. But I’m still walking, and still jumping through those hoops.

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In Pursuit of My Vanilla Scent

So. Who doesn’t love vanilla?

I do. Lots. I almost always prefer vanilla-flavored desserts to chocolate ones. (Well, except truffles. Because truffles, y’all.)

Because of that flavor preference, I’ve always thought I should love a vanilla fragrance. However, I’m beginning to realize that I’m probably wrong. I mean, honestly, I would love to smell like vanilla extract — and I’ve often heard of people wearing it as fragrance. The one time I tried it, the vanilla was gone in less than an hour, so clearly that inexpensive trick is not going to work for me.

Hand pollinating vanilla orchids in Madagascar, click through for photo link.

The first vanilla-named scent I remember running across was Coty’s Vanilla Fields, back in the 1990s — and I didn’t much like it for myself, though I found it pleasant on other people. I seem to remember my sister wearing it in her teens/early 20s.

I would like to smell like vanilla, sometimes. Thing is, vanilla fragrances often are “too-something,” by which I mean too powdery, too smoky, or too buttery-oily for my personal tastes. My ideal vanilla fragrance would smell like a very deep, rich vanilla extract, with zero powder, and minimally sweetened.  The vanilla fragrances I enjoy are not simply vanilla: Parfums de Nicolai Vanille Tonka, which despite its name smells like a rum-and-coke with lime, Shalimar Light (lemon-vanilla woods, without the mildewed-tarp aspect of the original) and Coty Emeraude (vintage only, please). Sometimes the cocoa-powder bit (it’s the dreaded patchouli) of Givenchy Organza Indecence gets to me, but I like the spicy-vanilla-woods part pretty well.

When I say I want a vanilla fragrance, I’m pretty picky about what Will Not Do. I don’t want floral vanilla, I don’t want powdery vanilla, I don’t want musky vanilla, I don’t want berry or fruity vanilla, I don’t want cookie vanilla, I don’t want smoky vanilla, I don’t want sugary vanilla, and I most definitely do not want that horrible cheap-vanilla-candle oily vanilla. I might take a boozy vanilla if the alcohol part wears off quickly enough, but pretty much I just want plain-old vanilla-vanilla.

Vanilla fragrances I have tried and dismissed for various reasons are numerous, especially after I made the big push to find “my vanilla.” Here are the ones I had the biggest hope for and yet was disappointed by:

Too powdery (by FAR the biggest category of vanilla fails for me)
Bulgari Black
(Mind you, it’s sort of genius. I like the new-sneakers/bicycle-tires rubber note, but the vanilla part of it is flat and powdery.)
Dame Perfumery Black Flower Mexican Vanilla (Nice stuff, not as powdery as some but still too powdery for what I want.)

Too smoky
Le Labo Patchouli 24 (Does not smell like patchouli. Instead, smells like an incinerated vanilla ice cream cone lying on the floor of the smokehouse on my grandparents’ 1860 farm.)
Guerlain Shalimar, of whatever vintage or version or strength (Shalimar is shockingly drrrty on me and very cigarette-ash smoky. It’s gorgeous on the right person, but that isn’t me.)

Too buttery/oily/waxy
Annick Goutal Nuit et Confidences (Vanilla cake with artificial butter flavor.)
Lavanila Pure Vanilla (that weird vanilla-candle note I cannot STAND)

Too boring
Indult Tihota (Vanilla bean musk. I thought I’d love it; instead, I nearly went to sleep.)

Vanilla beans, by Ted Major at Flickr, some rights reserved.

Vanilla fragrances that were close to being right but juuuust a tad off perfect:
Guerlain Spiritueuse Double Vanille (Delicious boozy vanilla that somehow did not render me smitten, for no reason I can articulate. Shrug. Good thing, because it’s über-spendy.)
Tom Ford Vanille Fatale (Interesting but wacko off notes interspersed with gorgeous vanilla. Drydown is gorgeous and pretty much a dead ringer for the MUCH cheaper PdN Vanille Tonka.)
Seveline Vanille a Madagascar (Really nice, close to a non-powdery vanilla extract linear experience. Unfortunately unavailable in the US. I guess I could have someone mule it to me from France, but I don’t love it enough.)
Lawrence Dumont Vanille de la Reunion (After a frightening three-minute waltz with that horrid buttery/rancid-oil Yankee Candle smell, it smoothed out and went linear vanilla extract. That part I liked, but it’s discontinued anyway.)

I did not bother trying to test the much-beloved and long-gone L’Artisan Vanilia. I want a Cheap Thrill Vanilla, not something I have to hunt down, pay through the nose for, and mourn when there are no longer any dregs to be found.

I started this post in late 2016 and then held off publishing it while I did more research and tried more vanilla scents. I may now have found my vanilla, though: CocoaPink, an independent fragranced-body-care maker that I originally found on Etsy, that now seems to have its own website, produces a wide variety of fragrances and leans heavily on the foody ones. I tried a good dozen of theirs, either secondhand from other fumeheads or ordered directly from the site, in either oil format and alcohol-based, and a couple of them I tried in both formats. There is a lonnnnnng list of vanilla scents there. Many of them were too sweet for my taste, but I came up with a couple of contenders.

The winner? CocoaPink’s version of Spiriteuse Double Vanilla (description from the website: Based on Guerlain’s famous vanilla. This duplication is high quality and made with notes of pure vanilla, real benzoin extract, frankincense, spices, cedar, pink pepper, bergamot, and ylang-ylang) mixed with their version of Tihota (website description: essence of pure, unadulterated sugared vanilla beans with a soft hint of musk), to create a thing they call Triple Vanilla Dream. It’s got the deep, rich, long-lasting complexity of vanilla extract that I’d been longing for, yet with the simplicity of straight-up vanilla, and it lasts for hours on me. Bonus: that sucka is cheap — 10ml for less than a double sawbuck and 60ml for a half-C-note, both in “Smell me across town” strength.

I liked it in both alcohol and oil formats, but I’m strongly tempted to get it in their Voluptuous Body Butter, because a) the body butter is super-emollient and lovely, and b) again, you can get the big 4.75 oz tub for way less than $20.

For further reading about vanilla fragrances, check these out:
Best Vanilla perfumes, Perfume Posse  (list of noteworthy vanilla scents)
The Vanilla Series, Perfume Shrine (four lists by category, and an overview)
The Candy Perfume Boy’s Guide to Vanilla (eight vanilla scents to explore)

See also my Sexy Cake post from 2010 for more on the subject of man-pleasing fragrances.



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The January Drear

So we’re having Mud Season again, the Cold Variant: after a year in which the area where I live received 56.54 inches of precipitation, 53% more than our average yearly rainfall, this year is looking just as damp.

Bleah.

Frankly, I’m so over Mud Season. I like Winter, except when it turns into Mud, and I’m thisclose to petitioning God for a cold snap, so at least the mud will freeze. I’ll take snow. I’ll take wind. Just — if it’s going to precipitate like last year, can we please have some cold weather??

I’ve been wearing scents with notable citrus lately, due to a Facebook perfume group’s weekly challenge. Despite thinking that I was never going to make it a whole week on citrus scents — which generally last all of three nanoseconds on me, and three very boring nanoseconds they are, too — I’ve managed, and very pleasantly, too. I’ve worn Shalimar Light (bergamot, lemon), Parfums de Nicolai Vanille Tonka (lime), Alahine (“citruses”), Chanel 1932 (lemon, grapefruit), DSH Chypre (bergamot), and Pierre de Velay Extrait No. 11 (“citruses”). Of course, none of these are technically citrus-focused fragrances, which is probably why I like them. And, true, they are cheerful in the middle of January Drear.

WordPress has updated their editing platform (again), and I can no longer highlight snippets of text and change the color, the way I used to assign certain colors for each fragrance. That’s why the above paragraph looks odd: I tried highlighting “Shalimar Light” and giving it its classic blue color, but it turned the entire paragraph bloo, so I had to send it back to “dark gray,” and only then did I notice that “dark gray” is not actually the default shade. I can’t fix it now, either. I don’t mind updates, generally, but I think I’m unsure about this particular WP version.

I was born in the said middle of said January Drear. Today is my birthday, and today I’m wearing Alahine (again).

So, are you a citrus-scent lover, or are you like me??

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I’monna try this again . . . weekly posting schedule

I spent the last few weeks of 2018 creating some goals for this year, and one of those was to post regularly again. However, I am spending much less time trying new fragrances, so I probably won’t talk a good deal about recent releases. It’s difficult to get my hands on New Shinies without ordering samples, and I’m increasingly unwilling to do that. Not to mention that the market has simply exploded in the past five years or so, and the New Shinies number in the hundreds, possibly even the thousands. Then, too, many of the New Shinies come from niche or independent companies with limited distribution, and I just don’t have the mental space.

Sorry.

So I will talk about how certain fragrances make me feel, even if I’ve mentioned them before. If I come across a few New Shinies here and there, I’ll write about them. (Speaking of which, I have some St. Clair Scents to review; unfortunately, I bought the sample pack before the newest scent, Casablanca, was available. And I really want to try that one, because it’s a BWF and totally up my alley.)

I’ll talk about family, and the farm, and my fiction writing, as well as my current health struggles. I’ll also discuss whatever strikes my fancy, so that’s nothing new. Love to everyone, and here’s to a fabulous new year.

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Turn of Seasons, December 2018

Ah, yes.

The woods behind the house, from the back deck.

As I write, it is the tenth of December, and the winter equinox lies more than a week in the future. It snowed fifteen inches yesterday; today’s temperature was about 40 F and much of the snow is gone now. Tonight’s low, however, will be about 15 F, and whatever didn’t melt will be ice by tomorrow. Brr.

This feels, in point of fact, very much like my 1970s childhood, also here in Virginia. We typically had had at least one snow and sometimes two or three before Christmas, and then there would be several more snowfalls through the winter. (Anybody remember the widespread fear that we were entering another ice age? Seems funny now.)

My sister’s husband is stationed in upstate New York, not far from Lake Erie, and they get snow. They’ve already had two snows, and the most recent dumped more than two feet on the ground. No school closings or delays, either; my poor nephew had no respite from 9th grade despite the weather.

The CEO left before the snow started, because he and another instructor from Virginia Tech’s Agricultural Technology program had been invited to do a seminar on Virginia agriculture for some Chinese officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. That was scheduled to take place in the Northern Virginia area, near DC, and he didn’t want to get stuck in the forecast snow here, so he took off on Saturday afternoon.

The snow started around 3 a.m. Sunday. I woke up once — you know that eerie stillness in the air when it snows? I heard the silence, if such a thing is possible, and it made me restless in my sleep. There was already snow covering the ground when I went to look out the window at 4:10 a.m. It didn’t stop until late in the evening.

It was feathery, powdery, fluffy snow. Taz tried sledding, but the snow just packed down underneath him and  refused to allow sliding across its surface. It was gorgeous, though, like angel feathers.

The CEO, calling to see how we were getting along, suggested that we were in dire straits and we all should have come along with him, to escape the snow. I scoffed. Miss all this beauty? No way, man. No way.

Besides which, we never lost power, and Bookworm was able to get the all-wheel drive vehicle out and to work this morning with no trouble. So there.

With winter in the air, I changed out the contents of the Hatbox of Current Rotation.

I love doing that. I love marking the seasons with my smells. There’s undoubtedly something to the idea of wearing whatever you want, whenever you want, regardless of the weather, and I don’t make fun of those who wear incense in the summer and citrus in the winter. Matching fragrance and weather makes me happy, though.

The Current Rotation includes:
Guerlain Shalimar Light (discontinued)
Coty Emeraude (vintage)
Soivohle Centennial (discontinued)
Amouage Memoir Woman
Guerlain Charnel Elixir Floral Romantique
Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere
Lubin Epidor
Fendi by Fendi (discontinued)
Maison Francis Kurkdjian Lumiere Noire pour femme
Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur (discontinued)
Ralph Lauren Safari
Frederick Malle Editions de Parfums Iris Poudre
Prince Matchabelli Potpourri (discontinued)
Caron Parfum Sacre
Teo Cabanel Alahine (vintage)

It’s disheartening to look over that list and see so many discontinued fragrances. (Even worse: darling Alahine, my Christmas fragrance for the past ten years, has been absolutely gutted by reformulation. Over the years, so has Emeraude, but at least you can find plenty of vintage on eBay. Original Alahine — gloriously full of naturals, rococo in its concept, but European and never in wide distribution — is utterly gone. I mourn.)

Christmas preparations continue apace. No tree yet, but the nutcrackers and the Nativity and the snow village are on display; a tiny lit tree set in my grandmother’s pickle crock and my father-in-law’s childhood wooden sled ornamented with a wreath grace the front porch. The community chorus concert was snowed out this weekend, but it should be presented next week (Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise).

As for health considerations, those continue. I finally got a measure of relief from that persistent plantar fasciitis with a month’s worth of physical therapy; I’ve lost 26 pounds. But there are more (many) more pounds to go, and recently I did something horrible to my knee, so I know the joint issues continue. Also, I cracked another tooth up into the root so it had to be pulled — another dubious gift from Essure.

My mother had one of those Christmas compilation records — you know, one song by The Carpenters and one by Andy Williams and one by Robert Goulet, that sort of thing — and it contained this gem. I’ve heard a lot of versions of this song, but this is my gold standard. I never hear this song without hearing Mahalia in the back of my mind.

Onward. I leave you with this wonderful recording of Mahalia Jackson, Queen of Gospel, singing “Go Tell It on the Mountain” with such joy and conviction.
He came to redeem every sinner
and to wash their sins away — hallelujah!

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Scent Diary, August 20-26, 2018

Monday, Aug. 20: Taz started his senior year of high school last Thursday; Gaze and The CEO started classes at Virginia Tech today. (Means I get the house to myself again. 😀 Maybe I can get some writing done now.) SOTD is Guerlain Elixir Charnel Floral Romantique. I always feel like I have to justify loving this thing. Yeah-yeah, derivative overpriced pink mall juice, yada yada whatever, I don’t care. It’s a floral with a deliciously bitter edge and I love it. Besides, I got a slightly-used bottle at deep discount on teh ‘Bay. Nyah nyah.

Tuesday, Aug. 21: Intermittent thunderstorms all day. SOTD was Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere. It had cleared up by 5 p.m. and the sun was shining, so I left beef-veggie kabobs in the fridge for Bookworm to cook when she got home and went on to deep water aerobics. We’d only been in the pool for about 18 minutes of class when lightning struck nearby and we had to get out. Sad — especially because by the time I got dried off and in the car to leave the YMCA, skies were clear again. I had thought I might go for a walk after dinner, but it got dark while we were eating. The kabobs were SO GOOD.

Wednesday, Aug. 22: Again, intermittent showers. I managed to do a ton of errands and wash two loads of towels. SOTD was Chanel No. 19 edp, which I love. I had planned to go do exercise bike at the Y, but then I ran across a low-impact high-intensity interval (HIIT) workout on Youtube for people with wonky knees, and decided to do that instead. WHEW. Hard. Really hard. I liked it, though.

Talked to Gaze recently. VT is so packed with new students that dorm space is extremely limited and there was talk of moving noncadet students into any extra rooms in the cadet dorms… but there’s no room in the cadet dorms. The Corps is so full that most cadets, even upperclassmen, are jammed with four people in triple rooms and three in doubles. Gaze is one of three in a double room in the basement, and Housing even had to convert the study lounges to sleeping spaces. Yikes. All this because Tech’s president is making a push to “grow the university.” Which would be fine, except that the infrastructure to do that is not yet in place. Dorm space doesn’t spring up out of the ground overnight, and although there is plenty of apartment housing in Blacksburg, freshmen and cadets, as well as the honor dorm residents like my nephew, perforce must live on campus. I hear that the dining halls are particularly crowded at midday, as well. (There are four main dining halls plus several snack places, and at least five food trucks.) Grr.

Thursday, Aug. 23: Sunshine! That means laundry! I washed six loads and hung them out on the line, brought them in, and folded them. Yay me. Also, Deep Water Aerobics this evening, which I have decided to call Happiness Time. SOTD was Hanae Mori Haute Couture, big friendly citrusy jasmine fruit thing. (Discontinued, probably because it smells nothing like the original Hanae Mori berry-‘nilla scent.)

Friday, Aug. 24: Showers again. I had two loads left from yesterday, but managed to hang them out in between the rains. SOTD was softly powdery Rose d’Ete, my first niche purchase and still a love. Delicious New York strip steaks for dinner, plus mushrooms, cauliflower rice, green beans, roasted chunky potatoes (which I didn’t eat), and grilled zucchini. Yum.

Saturday, Aug. 25: Taz overslept and missed the 6:45 a.m. bus to his cross-country meet; I wound up driving him to Blacksburg. Once I was in Blacksburg, of course, the only sensible thing to do was to . . . go to Aldi. 😛 I did some grocery shopping before coming home and doing some cleaning. SOTD was Leonard de Leonard.

There are cows in the 20-Acre Field behind the house, so we are right now suffering a Plague of Many Flies. UGH. You swat one and three more come in the door.

Sunday, Aug. 26: I don’t feel well. Went to church anyway and was glad I went. Then after a quick lunch, we all went to see a local production of “Chicago.” One of Taz’s classmates was in it, and she was fabulous as Velma Kelly. (Frankly, I wondered why she wasn’t cast as Roxie — who was also good, but in my opinion, less fabulous than Velma.) So I was glad we went to that, too! SOTD was Lubin Epidor, which is somehow both golden and dusky-plummy. I like it very much.

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Jumping Through The Hoops

(If you’re here for the perfume, you’ll be disappointed today.)

Photo by Julia Maudlin at Flickr, Creative Commons license, some rights reserved. Photo may only be used with attribution and a link to the source. Click through for link.

My last post was about Essure and my gradual realization that many medical problems I had dismissed under the rationalization, “I’m just getting older,” or “I’m just fat,” may actually have been caused or simply worsened by a medical device that was rushed through FDA approval without adequate studies beforehand.

This post is about the timeline of hoops that I have begun jumping through, in order to reach the goal of having Essure removed.

1) In September 2017, after I find out that the FDA has recommended a black box warning for Essure, I decide to get rid of these things which have caused me so much insidious trouble. The doctor who placed my Essure (and delivered my first baby via C-section), retired seven years ago and I haven’t been to see another since. I call to request an appointment with another GYN, who is well-regarded, who used to practice with my implanting doctor, and who delivered my third baby, but it takes THREE MONTHS to get on her schedule. It’s now December 2017, and when I go in, she refuses to consider the possibility that all might not be well with my Essure. To humor me, she orders an ultrasound to locate my coils. I ask for a hystero-salpingogram (HSG) or an x-ray, so we can be sure they’re where they’re supposed to be. “They don’t move,” she says flatly. “Ever. Put that right out of your head. But I guess we can do an US, to make you feel better about it.”

2) I have the ultrasound in January 2018. It doesn’t locate my coils.

3) I see another doctor in my GP’s practice in March, for a sore throat that hasn’t gone away in two weeks. Unlike my usual GP, Dr. Kelly actually listens to me, considers a concern I have, and answers my questions without making me feel like an idiot and a fussbudget, instead of a woman with a bachelor’s degree who can understand some basic medical science. It is a revelation. There are doctors who do this? I NEED ONE OF THESE.

I notice that when The CEO began having pain in his ankle, Dr. Kelly prescribed an anti-inflammatory and sent him straight to physical therapy. Did I get PT for my foot and ankle pain? Did I get meds? I did not. I got the standard “Lose some weight and don’t wear those shoes.” I begin to realize that it might not just be me: my doctor might be part of the problem.

4) In May, I schedule a regular checkup and request to see Dr. Kelly instead of my regular doctor. The office manager tells me I can’t see him because he’s not my primary physician, and he’s not taking new patients. I’ve been seeing him, and other medical practitioners in this “family medicine practice,” for the past 20 years. How am I a new patient? “He’s not taking new patients, period,” the office manager says. I agree to see the female physician’s assistant. I weigh the most I have ever weighed, and I know I’m going to get fussed at for it.

5) I have my checkup with the PA. She listens. I think she’s skeptical, but she listens. We talk about Essure and my ongoing foot pain and my diet. She agrees to refer me to an allergist so I have testing done to see if I’m allergic to the materials in Essure. She agrees to test me for thyroid issues. She puts me on 9 Advil a day for 3-4 weeks, to combat my foot pain and inflammation. She suggests low-carb dieting, particularly because my blood pressure is creeping up. She suggests checking to see if my insurance will cover the new shingles vaccine, and she strongly suggests I get a screening colonoscopy. My blood work indicates no pre-diabetes or other issues. It also indicates that my thyroid is normal.

6) Into June now. The 9 daily Advil help so much that I actually do not feel like crap every day. The whole time I’m on them, I’m feeling good. I buy Chaco sandals. I put fresh plantar fasciitis-fighting insoles in my shoes. I don’t walk much, but I start water aerobics with the Fabulous Old Ladies at the Y, and sometimes I use the exercise bike. The pain in my elbow goes away. The pain in my right foot goes away. The pain in my left foot (always worse) is greatly lessened. I lose four pounds. I schedule my colonoscopy for the end of July.

7) I finish 3.5 weeks of daily Advil. The pain in my left foot is still there. I make another appointment with the PA. My appointment with the allergist will not be until August. I ask about the endocrinologist, and the PA sighs and says that if I really want an appointment she’ll try to get me one, but she doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with my thyroid. I ask about a referral to the podiatrist, and she says she’ll order one. She also orders an x-ray of my left foot, to see if I have bone spurs. My BP is up to 140/103, so she wants to put me on lisinopril.

8) In June/July, 10 mg lisinopril makes my BP go down to 120/85 most days.  I read on the Essure Problems group site about a woman who had been suffering for days with pain in her pelvic area, until she was taking a shower and felt a sharp pain in her vagina. She reached down and found… yep. One of her Essure coils. Go right ahead and tell me “they don’t move,” Dr. Howell. Sure, they’re not supposed to. But that doesn’t mean they can’t.

9) In May, Carilion’s medical records archives unit cannot locate any records of the placement of my Essure, which is part of what Dr. Monteith in NC needs in order to talk about scheduling Essure removal. I call the office twice in June and get a response of, “Oh, sure, I’ll call the archives in Roanoke and tell them what we need. We’ll call you back,” both times. Neither person calls me back. In July, I go to the hospital for my x-ray, and stop by the medical records office to ask one more time. I get, “Oh, sure, I’ll call the archives in Roanoke and tell them what we need. We’ll call you back.” I also get a printout of the doctor’s transcribed notes from the procedure, which might be most of what I need, but it does not contain any of the pictures taken with that teeny camera, showing the coils in place. I do not get a call back, either. (Third time. Carilion medical records, you suck.)

10) July. The x-ray of my foot indeed shows bone spurs. Yay. (“Don’t wear those shoes” seems horribly callous to me right now. I’ve been having pain for three years. Did I get sent to physical therapy? Noooooooo.) The pelvic x-ray shows two Essure coils that seem to be intact and approximately in the right place. (Which is relatively reassuring, but also a potential block to getting someone other than the elective surgeon to remove them.) I talk to Dr. Monteith’s office staff about sending them the disk with the x-ray results on it. I fill out the preliminary form and email it to the office. The scheduling nurse calls me back and says that my BMI is too high for the surgery there.

11) The endocrinologist’s office in Salem is overwhelmed because another specialist in the area retired, and they refuse to see me for a full thyroid panel, saying I can just see my GP. (Who thinks my thyroid is fine, and never mind that my mom needed a full panel to be diagnosed.) Also, I am too fat for the surgery to remove the thing that made me too fat in the first place.  If this is not discouraging, I do not know what would be.

12) I will keep my appointment with the allergist August 31. I may have recourse to removal if my tests show sensitivity to nickel. My dad says he will ask his endocrinologist if he’ll agree to see me since I’m getting the run-around.

13) I decide to try to lose the 50 pounds it’s going to take to get my BMI low enough for Dr. Monteith’s surgery. I may fail — Lord knows I’ve failed to lose weight often enough in the past — but I am going to try, and try really hard. It’s not going to be fun.

I check out the Paleo diet my college friend Heidi says works well, but it doesn’t allow cheese. That’s not going to work for me. I check out the ketogenic diet that a friend from church is on for his diabetes, but I do not think I could manage that food plan for the time it’s likely to take. I decide to do South Beach (the original reduced-carb/low-fat one from cardiologist Dr. Agatston’s book, not the new one where they sell you food like Nutrisystem) again. I lost about 20 pounds on SB a few years ago, but as soon as I started eating carbs again the weight came right back. I am going to have to say goodbye to favorites like mac-n-cheese and cake, like, forever. I mean, I can live without fruit for the first two weeks, and I can skip carrots and corn and beets for a while, and I can live indefinitely putting my fish tacos and burgers and sandwiches on lettuce leaves instead of tortillas or bread. I can probably live with pizza made on a cauliflower crust. (Although I LOVE beets.) But no baked potatoes? ever? 😥

14) I go for a walk the third day of my diet. My feet feel okay, and I go fairly slow for forty minutes. The next day, my left foot is killlling me, and I’m limping around as badly as I ever did. It occurs to me that the GP’s office has never gotten around to referring me to the podiatrist and I will have to call myself. AGAIN. I need a new doctor.

15) I call Dr. Monteith’s office back and ask if I can stay on their list. Sure, the scheduling nurse says. They’re expecting a rate increase (up from $7500) next spring, but they hold on to records for at least two years, so if I want to start an account I can do that. I say yes, please.

16) In late July, I see the podiatrist. Yep, I’ve got plantar fasciitis. I get new insoles and a prescription for anti-inflammatory meds. The insoles don’t really help. The hard massage ball does. The stretching does, a little.

17) On August 10, I manage to get in to see my dad’s endocrinologist in Roanoke. Dr. Bivens says that while I do have some of the symptoms of hypothyroidism, he doesn’t think that I have it, but we’ll wait for the labs to come in. My full thyroid panel comes back normal. Dr. Bivens suggests a sleep study; I could have sleep apnea. (The sleep tracker on my Fitbit seems to fit a fairly normal pattern most nights, but it’s not a real medical diagnostic tool. We’ll see, I guess. As of now the sleep study is not yet scheduled.)

Summary to date: There are likely more hoops to come. I am very lucky that The CEO has good health insurance.

I have currently been on the original South Beach Diet for one month now, and I’ve lost eleven pounds — that’s 15 pounds down from my heaviest. I’ll need a lot of support, but I continue to press toward a lowered BMI so that I can have surgery. That will be forty pounds from now.

(As a show of support for me, please do not send me chocolate. Or chocolate-scented perfume, for that matter. I will take commiseration, prayer, and hugs.)

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In Lieu of Recent Scent Diaries

So, heads up: medical stuff goin’ on, y’all. Life stuff, really. Sorry, no perfume at this point, though I hope to get back to it eventually.

A few years ago, I stopped getting regular checkups. I got discouraged at hearing my doctor say to me, “There’s nothing wrong with you. You just need to lose weight. Eat less. Exercise more.”

And when I would say to him, “Look, my feet hurt. I’m tired all the time. I’m not eating burgers and ice cream every meal; I eat grilled chicken and veggies; I try to eat healthy. I’ve been on a diet. I’ve been exercising,” he would say, “Well, eat less. And exercise more.”

I asked for a thyroid test, since I have a strong family history of thyroid disorder on both sides. “Your tests are normal,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with you, except you weigh too much.”

The pain in my feet and ankles? “Lose some weight. And don’t wear those shoes.” (The shoes in question were not flip-flops or flats; they were a sturdy pair of leather mules with 1 1/2″ heels and arch support.)

The numbness in my hands? The brain fog? The constant fatigue? Could I please have a referral to the endocrinologist, because I’m the same age my mom was when she was finally diagnosed after 8 years of symptoms and “normal” test results, with a full thyroid panel? “Your thyroid is normal. No.”

The intermittent pain in my abdomen on the left side, the one that felt like something inside pinching me? “I can’t feel anything there. There’s nothing wrong with you.”

What about this rash on my upper arms, that I keep getting especially in summer when I’ve been outside? “Sun sensitivity. Cover your arms up. Wear sunscreen.”

And so my doctor secretly labeled me a complainer. A fat complainer. A fat, lazy complainer. A fat, lazy, non-compliant complainer. I got used to asking questions and being told not to worry about it. It was all in my head. There was nothing wrong with me.

Just lose some weight, and don’t wear those shoes.

I was tired of the not-so-secret judging. I quit seeing the doctor, unless I had a illness that needed medication. I do realize that this was an ostrich kind of move, but I don’t know if I can explain how much it affected my confidence, knowing that my doctor thought I was a big fat whiner and didn’t believe my pain or concerns were worth investigating.

Then I got a big wake-up call last August from an unlikely source: Consumer Reports magazine. See, I thought the vacuum cleaner was dead (as it turned out, it had just gotten too hot). I had gone to CR’s website to find their vacuum ratings — and found a gigantic ominous banner across the top of the website saying something like, “Essure Black Box Warning.”

My immediate reaction: Oh gosh. I have Essure. I’ve had it for, what, 10 years? What’s wrong with it? I haven’t had any problems with it.

So I go read the brief article, which says something like, “The FDA has recommended a black box warning for the Essure device. A black box warning is the strictest warning put in the labeling of prescription drugs or medical products by the Food and Drug Administration when there is reasonable evidence of an association of a serious hazard with the drug or product.”

My immediate reaction: Oh wow. Serious hazard? Well, I knew that it might not work, and I did have to sign a waiver thingie before Dr. Young put it in, about understanding that it might lead to complications. But he said that complications were super-rare, and that this was a good option for me, given that I was aging out of birth control pills and I had a history of IUD failure¹.  Essure wouldn’t involve surgery or hormones; it was all done in the office, so that must’ve been safe, right?

¹And thank God for that, or we wouldn’t have Taz. He was an unexpected blessing.

So then I go read this article, “The Consumer’s Guide to Essure Birth Control,” at Consumer Reports, which details the serious complications many women have with Essure. (It’s short. Go read.) I’m not convinced yet — but I’m wary. So then I go and look up the Facebook group called Essure Problems. I ask to join. I read the posts. I’m thinking, Wow, these ladies are very quick to say that Essure caused all their health problems. Gynecological ones, sure, that makes sense. But other stuff? I don’t see the correlation. And I have not had any serious gynecological problems.

There’s a frequent commenter on the page who says, “If you didn’t have it before Essure, it’s because of Essure,” often, probably at least once a day, and I still think that’s too simple. It’s bad science to rely solely on anecdotal evidence; commonality is not causality. Women who have never had Essure do develop illnesses, after all. I had my gallbladder out before I had Essure, for example, so I’m not sure we can say that every single case of gallbladder disease developing after Essure is definitely due to it. I am skeptical.

Two days later, someone posts, “Anyone having pain on the tops of their feet? Like the tendons on the tops of their feet are strained and inflamed?” and my jaw drops. I have that. Sure, Dr. Kincaid said not to wear those shoes, but I get those pains even when I wear good supportive athletic shoes, with good supportive insoles. And in real time, within 20 seconds twelve people reply, “Yes. I have that.”

The next day, two other people are talking about how their upper molars are just crumbling in their mouths, and how their dentist thinks they grind their teeth at night, and that they must never brush or floss. Eight others mention a metallic taste in their mouth. A doctor in the group comments that he thinks that Essure changes the chemistry of saliva.  And my jaw drops, because I have that. I’ve had that metallic taste in my mouth since 2006! Less than a year after I had Essure put in, I lost two upper molars which just cracked for no apparent reason. My dentist has given me a night guard, which probably saved a third upper molar via a crown procedure last year ($1200, thanks very much).

So I read some more, and I research some more, and it becomes clear to me that Essure is at the very least an agent provocateur in kick-starting medical problems that might not have developed, or might have developed later in life. In particular, it seems to be associated with problems in a few broad areas:

1) Gynecological. Heavy and too-frequent menses, early menopause, cysts, pain with sex, uterine/cervical/vaginal atrophy or enlargement, ectopic pregnancy, device migration, endometriosis, unexplained sharp pains in the abdomen, puncture of uterus or fallopian tubes, frequent UTI’s, repeated yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis resistant to treatment, etc.  I have some of these symptoms.

2) Auto-immune and unspecified inflammatory. Auto-immune, Hashimoto’s, thyroid, Crohn’s, gluten sensitivity, IBS, gallbladder disease, allergies (particularly to metal), weight gain resistant to diet and exercise, tendonitis, etc. I have some of these symptoms.

3) Dental. Severe cavities, teeth crumbling, gum disease. I have these symptoms, too, after decades of good dental hygiene and good teeth.

You can read more about Essure and its incomplete studies here, in an article from the New England Journal of Medicine.

If you have Netflix, you can check out a documentary called “The Bleeding Edge,” beginning July 27, about how the Essure device was rushed through FDA approval and how it has ruined thousands of women’s lives. As of a few weeks ago, Bayer — which bought Conceptus, the company that originally produced Essure, in 2013 — announced that they would end sales of Essure in the United States as of the end of this year, due to declining profitability. (Interestingly, or maybe suspiciously, the current head of the FDA, Scott Gottlieb, was a significant investor in the company that originally brought Essure to market in 2002 without a study of its long-term effects.)

So once I figure out that my Essure coils might be contributing to health problems, I get to researching how I can get them removed. Typically, a doctor would do some laparoscopic surgery, reach in with forceps or whatever, and pull out the thing that’s causing problems and then sew you up — but that would be a disaster. If Essure coils are cut or pulled or tugged in any way, that is likely to leave both metal fragments and PET fibers behind, and many women who had their coils removed have had excruciating medical problems dating to the improper removal. If you want to have them out, and they are “in the right place,” that is, mostly inside the fallopian tubes with a small portion trailing into the uterus, you will need at the very least a bilateral salpingectomy (both tubes removed) with a cornual resection (upper part of the uterus removed), or salpingectomy with hysterectomy (removal of the uterus and possibly the cervix as well).

Removal is a big problem for me. I don’t have any of the gynecological disorders that would induce an OB-GYN to agree that I need a hysterectomy.

Then I found out that there’s a doctor in North Carolina who, though primarily focusing on reversing tubal ligations in order to restore fertility, also removes Essure using microsurgery. He’s had good results in getting all of the coil without leaving fragments behind, and without needing to take any part of the uterus out.

So what do I do now?  I start jumping through the hoops. That’s been my year since last August, pretty much, and I’m going to detail it in the next post.

 

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Scent Diary, June 18-24, 2018

Monday, June 18: A nice day, with temps in the mid-80s and not much humidity.  The CEO had expected to be in the hayfield (with the boys) today, but apparently it’s supposed to start raining on Wednesday and stay rainy for a few days after that, so they did some other stuff around the house/shop today. Poor Gaze, I think he would rather have been mowing.  SOTD was Silences pdt, which is pretty much liquid air-conditioning.

Tuesday, June 19: Warm. Not terribly humid. Really nice, for June.  Worked hard on the stationary bike at the Y today and went 7.2 miles in 35 minutes . . . then I noticed that my Fitbit was fussing at me for getting my heart rate up too high (and that’s a clear indication that my heart is not all that healthy).

SOTD was samples that I will speak more about later. There’s a company that’s planning to rerelease one of four classic scents that they’ve updated, and I got in just under the wire with ordering samples of the four. I’ll post my feelings about these sometime soon, probably before they announce which one of the four was chosen, based on the votes of those who have tried them.

Wednesday, June 20: Hotter and muggier than the last two days. I worked my tail off in Water Aerobics today and actually managed to sweat while standing in the water (okay, so the sun was shining through the big window onto me too). Gaze moved bales today and Taz cleaned out the farm shop; I did some laundry and worked on my eBay sales (which are going okay, thanks. Not ‘going gangbusters,’ as my dad would say, but I am selling some stuff I don’t want, and generally for a fair price. I’m really happy to be sending these unloved bottles to new homes).

My elbow is not hurting me anymore. Neither is my right foot. The left, though, is still quite painful, and not just during or after walking on it. Sometimes I get sharp shooting pains in the heel for no apparent reason. Gah.

It did not rain today. SOTD is once again Silences. #notsorry #greengorgeousness

Thursday, June 21: Good stationary bike workout today; I only went 6.4 miles in 30 minutes but I kept my heart rate in the “cardio zone.” Also went about 3 minutes on the elliptical, and now my foot is killllling me. Dangit. Really no more elliptical for me; I need to quit trying.

SOTD was Chanel No. 19, and a tiny bit of vintage Max Factor Epris, which wears like a classic chypre formula with an oriental growl in the base. I think the citrus notes up top are gone with this one (first released in 1981).

It only rained a little bit today, so The CEO was saying that he could have mowed hay on Monday after all. Oh well.

Friday, June 22: Summer solstice! It crept up on me! I usually do notice.  It was sunny, then overcast, then it rained hard, then it rained steadily, then the sun came out. Weird weather.  SOTM was sunny Chanel 1932, glorious citrus-jasmine-iris.

Went to the Y to try their Deep Water Aerobics at 2 pm, but lightning closed the pool so I went to the cardio room for more stationary bike. Went the same distance over the same time as Tuesday, but kept my heart rate mostly in the “cardio” range, with only a few forays into “peak.” Which is probably the zone I should be in, anyway. SOTD post-shower was vintage Fendi. (That’s tautological, isn’t it? All Fendi by Fendi is vintage because they haven’t made it since, gosh, the mid-1990s or so.)

First local minor league baseball game of the season! The CEO got four tickets from a friend, so he took Bookworm and Gaze and Gaze’s friend and fellow cadet LM who is spending the summer away from home, in Blacksburg, taking some courses. I think he’s an engineering major, and it usually takes those students 5 years to finish the degree. Taz and I stayed home.

Saturday, June 23: Got up early and did Father’s Day Version 2.0, because for various scheduling reasons, The CEO didn’t get the FD meal he’d requested last week. We had French toast with real thick-cut bacon and mixed berries. Yum.

I am for some unaccountable reason exhausted. Cleaned up some today, but I’m soooooo tiiiiired.  No SOTD.

Sunday, June 24: Church. (Blue maxi dress, white crochet shrug. Chacos. SOTD was the friendly Rome souvenir Ferre 20.) Baby shower for a church member in the afternoon.

Sooooo tiiiiired again. Need to go see my doctor again. I don’t think she wants to send me to the endocrinologist, but I also think I really need to.

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Scent Diary, May 29-June 3, 2018

Tuesday, May 29: Overcast and muggy, which looks to be the forecast all week. Sigh. The weeds are getting away from me, but I just don’t feel like weeding them. I’m so tired. Went to a funeral today for the spouse of a good childhood friend. I wish I’d known him better, and my heart’s broken for the family. Chanel No. 19 was again my Invisible Armor today.

When Mom and I got back, a doe went streaking down the side yard and Mom speculated that her baby must be over in the neighboring lot, in the bushes. (This lot never passed the “perk test,” so was unsuitable for building a house on, and it’s grown up in black locusts and paradise trees and thornbushes and the like, ideal for wildlife.) Instead, though, we found the fawn lying on her back deck, and it stayed there long enough for Mom to go inside and get her camera, then get a couple of pictures, before it bounded off. So pretty!

Bookworm, 2 months old. That grin!

Wednesday, May 30: Bookworm’s birthday. I’m so glad I’ve gotten to be her mother. Such a blessing.

Had a checkup with the physician’s assistant at my doctor’s office, and I dumped out all the symptoms that my doctor has been ignoring for the past several years (plus a few other issues). I’m not sure that anything positive has happened yet, but at least the PA listened to me and was able to take my concerns seriously. I hope that something will change soon. SOTD was beautiful and grounding Chanel 31 Rue Cambon.

We ate calzones and salad and apple pie for the girl’s birthday. Delish.

Thursday, May 31: Took Bookworm’s car to the lube shop for an oil change, and worked on some mending. Ignored the weeds (again) because I just. don’t. feel. like weeding. I will probably be sorry about this someday soon, but right now I just can’t. I also haven’t filled my hanging baskets with any plants. I’m just… I don’t know. I don’t think I care. The front porch needs painting so badly.

At least I do smell good, in Crown Bouquet. Another greenie, but who’s surprised by that? Now Smell This’s community project this week is to wear a scent with a creamy or milky component, and I’ve been thinking about Hilde Soliani’s Il Tuo Tulipano, which smells not like tulips, but like those frozen creamy fruit salads people used to bring to church potlucks.

Friday, June 1: Hot and muggy weather. Errands. Paid the real estate taxes, mailed some stuff, hit the grocery store, went by the bank, and stopped at the YMCA at about 4:45 to get my first Y membership in… oh, 20 years? 24? it’s been a long time, obvs. I have GOT to get my feet recovered from this plantar fasciitis. No more walking until I do… so. Swimming. Maybe some water aerobics (with all the spry old ladies!) or stationary bike.

SOTD is Guerlain Charnel Elixir Floral Romantique. I wound up bagging the NST challenge and going with one from a Facebook group, to wear something “swoony.” Floral Romantique, despite its cheesy name and its pretentious packaging, makes me swoon. When it first came out, everybody who was reviewing it said something like, “This is boring, derivative, smells like the same-old department store juice they’ve been shilling since 2008. Also, WAY overpriced for what it is, another floral woody musk. Unworthy of Guerlain.”

For one thing, I don’t revere Guerlain. Generally speaking, my reaction is Meh. (Go ahead and toss the tomatoes, I know I’m in the minority.) I mean, I like Chamade. But I only LIKE it. I like L’Heure Bleue in parfum, sorta. I like Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune, too. But I could live without them, if I had to. I nearly always prefer the Coty version of the classics, anyway: Emeraude over Shalimar, Chypre over Mitsouko. Nyah.

But this? I really like. Sure, it’s just another soft white floral (tiare, jasmine, ylang, lily) and it’s pretty sweet in that sense. But there’s a thread of something bitter and refreshing running through it, too, and it dries down just lovely on me. The notes list includes cedar, chestnut, maté, and smoked tea, so I have no idea what that bitter note is but I love it. Also, The CEO once told me, “This smells like your skin, only a little more perfumey.”

Saturday, June 2: Cooler and cloudy today. I managed to take a big box of stuff to Goodwill, and then zip over to Target to pick up some stuff, before grilling some burgers. Dinner table discussion concerned Stevie Ray Vaughan, Texas blues guitarist. I’m not a big blues person, unless it’s Chicago blues, which I sort of enjoy if I’m in the mood. But The CEO is a fan. (We once named a minivan Stevie Ray Van. Stevie Ray’s predecessor was Eddie Van, for Eddie Van Halen, so I guess you know what kind of guitarists I like…)

SOTD was the first niche thing I ever bought — Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Ete. Supposed to be based on the smell of a yellow rose, and darn if it doesn’t smell like one to me! A little fruity, a little powdery, a light and uncomplicated rose. So pretty. I still love this one, and FYI, yellow roses are my favorite.

On the negative side, I just got the response to my  request for medical records in the mail — the ones having to do with my Essure implants, from my GYN who has since retired. And apparently, these medical records do not exist. Which seems super-fishy to me. Because, you know, I was there. It happened. I just don’t quite know where to go next.

Sunday, June 3: Warm early-June day. Outside, it smells like either manure or honeysuckle, depending on which way the wind is blowing! I will be VERY glad when The CEO’s cousin finally gets his dairy manure lagoon empty and stops spraying it on all the fields around.

SOTD was Teo Cabanel Early Roses. After church, the family went to see Solo: a Star Wars Story. It’s getting a lot of complaint (from my friends, at least) so we were a little apprehensive. Especially after The Last Jedi, which we all enjoyed in the theater and then immediately started finding things we thought were badly written in the car on the way home. (We liked Rogue One — a lot.)

We liked Solo, too. Not as much as Rogue One, which was an extremely tight plot, both simple and tremendously emotionally affecting — but we liked Solo. There were things we’d have done differently, and things that confused us, but generally speaking we thought it was a creditable effort. What didn’t we like? All the explosions and flying through the air on dodgy platforms: basically all the superhero movie crap that has been done to death. And the ending, that bothered us too. Possibly it’s setting up a Solo II sequel? I don’t know, but there were a LOT of loose ends there. Also, sticking some young actor in front of a camera and telling him, “Be Harrison Ford,” is a very tall order, because so far as I know, there’s only one Harrison Ford. All the same, I thought Ehrenreich did a decent job. Watching him fall in love with the Millennium Falcon was almost worth the price of admission in itself, and when you add on Donald Glover’s slick-as-snake-oil Lando Calrissian, that filled out the rest of the ticket value.

Anybody have a differing view of Solo?

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