Scent Diary, Jan. 15-21, 2018

Not my house. I WISH we were getting snow.

Monday, Jan. 15: Chilly but not ridiculous-cold. Wearing Annick Goutal Nuit et Confidences again from a sample and thinking, “Ehh. Meh.” It’s not bad, mind you, it’s just not exciting.  It’s sad, because the bottle’s gorgeous. It’s Vanilla Week at Now Smell This, so I’m gonna try.

Tuesday, Jan. 16: So The CEO forgot that he was going to take Taz to school, and I wound up taking him (without getting my own breakfast. or wearing makeup. or, heaven forbid, making coffee). And just as I got home, I found The CEO waiting for me in the driveway — really late — saying that Cameron (his Camry) was making the weird noise it makes when it’s low on oil, and that he would need to take Thorin (the Sorento, which is ostensibly mine to drive) and I would need to take Cameron to the lube place to get an oil change and, oh yeah, get it inspected because the sticker runs out at the end of the month. And he gets into Thorin and zooms off.

Slightly taken aback, I shook my head to clear it and went in to eat my now-cold scrambled eggs and put on a scosh of makeup and brush my hair. Then I mentally shrugged at Vanilla Week, stuck a Safari parfum mini in my pocket and zipped out the door to the lube shop where we get oil changes, because the Serious Repair Shop is short-handed these days and it’s tough to get common jobs scheduled there.

So the Safari was delicious, as usual — every time I wear it, I wonder briefly to myself why I ever wear anything else — but that was the only good thing because a) I had no coffee
b) the oil change guy said that Cameron needed an alternator
c) Cameron failed inspection due to two nearly-bald tires on the back.

So I called The CEO and he wanted me to go get his buddy at the serious-repair shop to look over the car and give his opinion on whether it really needed an alternator, and if the tires were really bad or if the lube shop was just trying to make bank out of a clueless female. However, the serious-repair shop was covered up with customers, so I made an appointment for Wednesday.

Wednesday, Jan. 17: Woke to an official robocall saying that the school system’s status had changed from “two hours late” to “closed.” Taz was joyous that he’d get to stay home. Bookworm and The CEO had to go to work anyway, and of course none of Gaze’s activities were suspended. I’m sure he was out with the Army ROTC for PT at 5 am as usual. (Brrrr!)

There wasn’t much snow, only about an inch, but it was slick. Conditions worsened as the day went on, because traffic melted what was on the road, and then it would freeze as ice. School will be closed tomorrow as well, not because we have a lot of snow, but because the roads are icy. Sure, you Northeasterners are laughing — but I guarantee you that you don’t know what it’s like to try to drive a school bus down some of the narrow twisty roads in the Hiwassee area. Add ice to those roads, and you got Accident Waiting To Happen.

SOTD was a spray sample of Natori, which nobody talks about anymore. I guess because it’s discontinued? Shame. It’s a velvety, plummy oriental that I can wear for a lonnnnng time — like 7-8 hours — before it starts pulling up that dreaded Youth Dew Accord and I have to wash it off. It reminds me, actually, of the also-late-and-lamented, by me, Tom Ford Private Blend Black Violet, of which I only have about 3 mls left in a mini. (PSA: if you didn’t manage to grab a bottle of Natori back in the day due to cost, check FragranceNet, where a 50ml is running about $17 and the 100ml $20. I actually considered the shower gel momentarily before deciding it would probably go very Youth Dew on me, and we can’t have that.)

My actual face.

I took Cameron to the Serious Repair Shop run by a school friend of the CEO’s for the new alternator, since Terry commented the old one was spitting sparks all over the place.  😯 Then, as I promised The CEO, I asked Terry if the tire tread would pass inspection.

He laughed. Hard. And then he said, “There isn’t enough tread on these for me to even measure. They’re toast.” So we ordered tires, too, which they’ll put on tomorrow afternoon. This whole little “Hey, take my car to get an oil change and an inspection,” suggestion of The CEO’s has turned into $600+ of necessary repairs, not to mention several hours. Of my time. (Which, I assure you, I would have been much happier to donate if I’d KNOWN this would take hours. Or if the Ranger hadn’t also been in the shop, so that I could have dropped the car off and left it there to be dealt with instead of sitting in the waiting room.)

Or if I’d gotten more than an offhand, “By the way, thanks.”

I’m thinking I deserve something good in return. Like maybe a bottle of Lubin Epidor? Or maybe just a hefty decant, so I can see how it wears when I spritz it out of a normal spray mechanism, as opposed to the plastic spray sample. Oddly, none of the usual decant services have Epidor in stock. Well, okay, Lucky Scent does, but they only either sell you a full bottle or a .7ml dabber vial, and I’m well past what a dabber vial will do for me. #firstworldproblems #i’llshutupnow

Hey, in any case now I have proof that the lube shop is not only competent to diagnose things like bald tires and alternators spitting sparks, they’re comparable to the serious-repair shop in terms of pricing.

Thursday, Jan. 18: Chilly weather. Spent a long time at the garage, waiting for the tires and shivering every time somebody opened the door (brrrr!). I’d made an appointment, but apparently it takes 2.5 hours to rotate and align tires. Shrug. The Ranger is still waiting for parts to be shipped, so it’s not ready yet. SOTD was Hermes 24, Faubourg.

Good community chorus rehearsal this evening — first one of the semester. The CEO eventually thanked me for going above and beyond in getting Cameron serviced.

Friday, Jan. 19: More chilly weather. SOTD was a half-spritz of Shalimar Light (lemon-vanilla powder, nice) for housework and writing, so I could actually wear something vanilla for the last day of this week’s NST challenge.

SOTE was Chanel 31 Rue Cambon (the edp, from my newish decant); I went to a writers’ conference in the evening. I had been to the Roanoke Regional Writers Conference several years ago, not long after I started blogging — either 2009 or 2010, I think, and hadn’t been since. I’m not sure why not. Sharyn McCrumb spoke at that earlier conference; she was really funny. I like her books, don’t love them, but she’s amazing. Tonight was good.

Saturday, Jan. 20: Temps in the mid-50sF today, which was certainly a switchup. Conference all day, wearing more 31 Rue Cambon. Incidentally, I’m not getting a big difference between the edp and the old, original edt (if indeed you can call something released in 2006 “old”). The edt might have been a bit more irisy in the drydown, maybe. And tighter restrictions on citrus and jasmine since 2006 have definitely taken some of the sparkle out of 31 RC, but it still smells like itself: classic, retro rather than vintage, and tastefully rich.

Conference was very good. I got something out of almost every seminar, and I’d even say that I got more out of the seminars today than I did from the very large Writer’s Digest conference I attended in Nashville last summer.

Then I had dinner with a college friend who lives in Roanoke and who I never manage to go see, because if we’re going to Roanoke, it’s pretty much to see my parents. That was lovely, and it was fun to meet her son, who reminds me a good bit of Taz.

This bottle. My mini came from eBay with no box, but it has that gold embossed cap so I know it’s the “fleur de parfum” version.

Sunday, Jan. 21: Still warm. Which is nice, but worrisome. I don’t like this big weather swing in January, I think it’s going to make us all sick. SOTD was a dab of vintage YSL Paris parfum, and y’all, that stuff is literally BIG PINK NEON ON SKIN. But gorgeous — it’s a huge exuberant flowery hug.

Member lunch and meeting after church. Then we had Breakfast for Dinner later on, and it was yummy but I am missing Gaze.

Share

Scent Diary, January 8-14, 2018

Huh. I’m getting used to writing 2018 already. Usually it takes me a good month to automatically write the correct year on my checks.

Ironic yay balloon.

Monday, Jan. 8: We’re supposed to get freezing rain today. Poor Bookworm, after her disastrous trip home in the snow last month, is anxious.

I have a mammogram and another test scheduled for today. That means no deodorant, powder, or lotion. However, I have cheated and spritzed the web of my left hand with calming Iris Poudre.

I opted for the 3D imaging, mostly since I haven’t had a mammogram since 2011. I think it hurt less than last time, but as the day has gone on I’ve become more sore. Ouch.

The “freezing rain” started out as sleet (nasty enough), but the weather turned warmer and it became just rain by the time Bookworm left work, so there was no need to worry.

Tuesday, Jan. 9: More Iris Poudre. Boring day, considerably warmer than it’s been recently. I suspect I won’t sleep well tonight; I never do when the weather suddenly warms.

Wednesday, Jan. 10: . . . and I certainly didn’t. Sleep well, that is. It’s warm again today (50F), and this bouncing around from temperature extreme to extreme is certain to have everybody sick soon.

Tested — from a blind-buy decant that I somehow misplaced when it was new, ahem, a couple of years ago! — Penhaligon’s Orange Blossom. This is the re-release from 2010 orchestrated by Bertrand Duchaufour, not the original 1976 version. It’s really quite nice.

Bookworm made a wonderful birthday meal for me: fish tacos! I love fish tacos. Got some lovely birthday loot, too: some CDs, a nice scarf from The CEO, and a lightweight cardigan.

Scent of Bedtime was about eight spritzes of Mariella Burani. The thing about MB (sadly discontinued these 8-9 years ago) is that it is cozy and comforting without being heavy at all: lightly powdered aldehydes, soft citrus, musk, vanilla and benzoin. It doesn’t sound like much, and I suppose it isn’t; in a way it feels like Shalimar as a young and very innocent girl.

Still woke up about 2:30 a.m. Bummer.

Thursday, Jan. 11: My actual birthday. I overslept and had barely managed to drag myself awake about 20 minutes before my sweet MIL arrived to take me out to breakfast! It was quite nice. SOTM was a teeny half-spritz of MFK Lumiere Noire pour femme, which was probably too evening-y for a rainy warm winter morning, but I felt like it anyway.

My mammogram came back fine, so that’s good.

Still warm, but a little cooler than yesterday. Feels like winter. SOTA, after the half-spritz of Lumiere Noire wore off, was a huge honking application of vintage Parfum d’Hermes, which I am going to have to talk more about soon.  That deep red is about the color of the box, but the fragrance doesn’t smell that color to me. Actually, I am not sure which color would be best for it — I haven’t figured it out yet.

Friday, Jan. 12: Rainy. Gloomy. Considerably colder than yesterday. Gaze is going back to college this afternoon, because the Highty Tighties are marching in the governor’s inaugural parade tomorrow and the band members have to be back early. 😥 😥 😥 Oh well, it’s been nice having him.

SOTD is beloved joyful Alahine. My 2010 original-formula bottle, now half empty, is being rationed because the recent (-ish. 2015? 2016?) reformulation is such a disaster. But today’s a good day for joy.

Saturday, Jan. 13: Woke to a dusting of snow (yikes, poor Gaze will be cold today) but at least it’s not raining now. Rain is far worse than cold when you’re marching in a parade, in my experience.

The CEO made a lovely fire, and we cleaned house. SOTD was SSS Tabac Aurea, so golden and warm. Right after lunch everybody decided they wanted beef-vegetable soup for dinner, so I went spelunking in the chest freezer for some beef. All I found in the way of stew beef was either a small roast or something labeled “soup bone,” all of it from an old cow (and all of it has been in the freezer for at least a couple of years, because it’s been a long time since we took an old cow to be butchered). So I thawed both out and popped them into the slow cooker for four hours. After that time, the roast was sliceable but definitely not what I would call tender enough to eat. (Old Cow. Obvs.) So I cut it into chunks and put it back in for another hour before it got really edible.

The CEO says that it’s fine with him if I buy steaks and roasts at the grocery store now, rather than suffering with Old Cow any more, now that he owns far fewer cows. Which is great, trust me, but meanwhile we still have several packages to go through.

Gaze is second from the left in the second row. Marching alongside the group on the near side is Highty Tighties director Senior Chief Bean (in Navy uniform). In the background is the Virginia Washington Monument, depicting General George Washington — a Virginian — on horseback. Photo by Anne Simmons, all rights reserved.

We did manage to find the inaugural parade for Gov. Northam on TV, but owing to camera angles, could not specifically identify Gaze in it. Luckily, another cadet mom was taking pictures at the parade. And although the decision was made that “Harry Potter bag” — the nickname for the cadets’ hooded overcoats — was unnecessary, they looked chilly to me. See all those pink ears? Poor Gaze was already cold, having had the sides and back of his head “zeroed” yesterday before he went back to campus. There’s no wind protection from those visored caps.

Sunday, Jan. 14: Really cold. It was 14F (that’s -10C for you non-Americans) when I got up at 8:30. I put on a camisole under my sweater. Wore a tiny dab of Organza Indecence (nice cinnamony patchouli-vanilla, incidentally one of the few noticeably-patchouli fragrances that I don’t hate) and then later tested Lubin Epidor.

Am now plotting how to get more Epidor. Full review to come later, probably this week.

Share

The Terracotta Army

Image from today-i-found-out article; click through for link.

In 1974, a group of Chinese peasants digging a well in Shaanxi Province made a stunning discovery: a life-size clay statue of an ancient soldier. They notified authorities, who dispatched a group of archaeologists to investigate.

The archaeologists didn’t find just one soldier. They found thousands, meant to be an army serving Emperor Qin Shi Huang in his afterlife. (Read more about Qin and his army here from National Geographic, and here, from Smithsonian Magazine.)

Image of the dig site, now under roof, from Wikipedia.

They found more than eight thousand terracotta (baked clay) figures, mostly soldiers but also court officials, horses, acrobats, dancers, musicians, and servants. The kicker? Each one was unique. Some groups might all be wearing similar armor or clothing, but each face is different.

The General. Photo by JW Guthrie, all rights reserved.

Among the photos of the seven similarly-accoutered generals (distinguished by the tassels on their armor, their elaborate hats, and their pointing index fingers), for example, I see that one has a narrow face and tilted eyes, one has full cheeks and sideburns, one has flat broad cheekbones and worry lines on his forehead.

Horse and rider. Photo by JW Guthrie, all rights reserved.

This aspect fascinates me most. Did each person of Emperor Qin’s army pose for the clay-figure artisans? Or were the artisans given free reign to portray various personalities as they liked, representing different ethnic or cultural groups in the Emperor’s army? Or were only the figures of high rank actual portraits, while those showing lowly foot soldiers or archers just representational? I don’t think we’ll ever know for certain, though some research indicates that the figures are truly individual portraits.

The officer. His weapon (probably a sword) disintegrated over time. Photo by JW Guthrie, all rights reserved.

Qin’s legacy includes a group of former principalities unified into one country, the standardization of monetary units, weights and measures, vastly increased infrastructure and commerce, and the first version of the Great Wall. (Dude was busy.) However, his legacy has been somewhat tarnished by the recognition that he only managed to do all this with forced slave labor. Then, too, his heir survived only three years past Qin’s death due to assassination, and dynastic rule passed to another family.

Kneeling Archer, originally holding a crossbow. Check out his upper-body armor. Photo by JW Guthrie, all rights reserved.

However, the incredible tomb complex — which has not been fully excavated — is amazing. Read more about recent discoveries here.

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond is currently hosting an exhibit of several of these figures, as well as other artifacts from this time period. See here for more details about the exhibit itself. If you’re within driving distance, please do yourself a favor and go.

A foot soldier, originally armed with a spear. I love this photo for its detail of the soldier’s face. Even the chip out of his right eyebrow doesn’t detract from the strong facial features. Photo by JW Guthrie, all rights reserved.

The CEO took some wonderful pictures at the exhibit (flash is prohibited, by the way). These photos belong to him, so please don’t steal them. If you’d like to use one, just email me and I’m sure we can work something out.

I have not included here photos of the small stableboy figure, the court official, the full-size charioteer, or the quarter-size statue of a chariot drawn by four horses and manned by a charioteer under a bronze sunshade. I’ve also not included several interesting photos of decorated roof tiles and drain pipes, or some really lovely pottery ware from the period, also on exhibit. There was just too much to highlight it all.

Standing Archer, in the process of readying his bow. Note that in contrast to the Kneeling Archer, who would have been closer to the front, he has only a padded tunic and no armor. Photo by JW Guthrie, all rights reserved.

It was interesting to me that my family members had different favorites, of the figures on exhibit. Bookworm liked Kneeling Archer best, for his clever, narrow face and his battle-ready position. Taz preferred the horse and rider for their similar expressions. Gaze was most impressed with the General’s stalwart, assured stance. The CEO and I both chose the Standing Archer. The CEO favored his dynamic pose, and I liked his calm, alert face.

Look, doesn’t he have a cool face? I would be friends with this guy. Photo by JW Guthrie, all rights reserved.

The VMFA gift shop had several sizes of reproduction figurines for sale, the smaller ones quite reasonably priced and all beautifully made. Unfortunately there are none of my standing archer, and the general figurine has a different face than the one on display, so I didn’t buy one. I hope I won’t regret that. (Though there’s always eBay, should I change my mind later.)

I’ve been fascinated by the Terracotta Army since I was young and National Geographic did a story on the recently-found figures. It was so gratifying to finally see them and to recognize that they were even better than I’d imagined them.

 

 

 

Share

Scent Diary, Jan. 1-7, 2018

(It always feels different writing the new year for the first time, doesn’t it?)

Monday, Jan. 1: Still cold. High today of 18F. SOTD was Memoir Woman, because it is both delicious and really freaky. We took down some of the Christmas decorations; I think The CEO might be kinda ticked at me for asking him to go out into the cold and remove the wreath from the big second-story window as well as the garland and lights from the porch.

Tuesday, Jan. 2: So I’ve started a trial membership at Ancestry.com. This came about for two reasons: A) my sister is very interested in tracking our family but hasn’t been able to join the site, and B) on Saturday during our trip to the Virginia State Capitol, we were talking about famous Virginians. That discussion included Sam Houston and another Virginian who went to Texas and became prominent — Stephen Austin (namesake of the city of Austin, TX). Who I am related to, distantly, through my paternal grandmother. The CEO was not aware of this, and somehow neither were my kids, so I thought it would be good to fill out my side of the family tree for them. Some relatives of The CEO’s have done a thorough tree several generations back, so the kids have access to that, but the other side is fairly mysterious to them.

SOTD is Shalimar Light with a scosh of Organza Indecence on top. It’s still quite cold.

Wednesday, Jan. 3: Still cold. I noticed last night that the tree was getting a bit crunchy despite our plan to leave it up until Epiphany (Jan. 6), so we undecorated it. The Nativity and snow village and nutcrackers are still on display, at least until Saturday. SOTD was just a bit of Tauer Rose Delight body oil.

Just heard today that our former band director (Gaze’s, not Bookworm’s) had died as a result of injuries from a car accident. I’m stunned. You never expect things like that.

And our neighbor (the one with the goats) was on his cattle farm in a nearby county trying to coax a bull back through the fence the bull had broken through, and the bull took offense and knocked him down. Neighbor is in the ICU in Roanoke (50 miles away) with ten broken ribs and at least one cracked vertebra. If you feel like throwing up a prayer for Tommy and his family, please do.

Thursday, Jan. 4: Drove to Roanoke with Gaze to help my parents put away their Christmas decor. Mom’s just not up to moving boxes around, and it tires my dad out.  SOTD was DK Black Cashmere (yum) with a dab of Vero Perfumery Rozy edp on one wrist and Shanghai Tang Rose Silk on the other. Frankly, the Shanghai Tang is to me far preferable to the Vero; Rozy has that oddly flat fuzzy vanilla-dusty patchouli angle that makes me dislike it.

At 7 pm it was 8 degrees Fahrenheit, by the thermometer. With wind chill? -5. NEGATIVE. FIVE. (Bizarrely, the dog keeps wanting to go outside, five minutes at a time, three times an hour.)

Friday, Jan. 5: COLD AGAIN. 8F. Brrrrr. Nice to stay inside. I need to take the recycling to the town center because it’s starting to pile up, but it’s COLD, Y’ALL. It can wait. SOTD is vintage Coty Emeraude parfum de toilette, ca. 1973, rich and plush and a gentler take on Shalimar, for me. I mean, if you love Shalimar, more power to ya, I don’t mind smelling it — I just don’t want to wear it.

Also retested the Vero Rozy edp and instead of just disliking it, I hated it. Total scrubber. It wasn’t the dusty patch-nilla this time, it was a disturbing unwashed-body smell. (There’s honey in it. Maybe that.)

I had a free Redbox coupon code, and we’d been wanting to see “Dunkirk,” so I rented that. We Yanks don’t generally know a lot about what happened at Dunkirk, unless we’re WWII history buffs. I’ve read my share of British novels set during WWII, some of which mention this amazing rescue of the British army from the coast of France in 1940, but I really did not know many details. (And probably still don’t, since films based on historic events typically gloss over or omit, or even mischaracterize, significant details in favor of compelling storytelling. Which doesn’t bother me that much, to be honest, because I’d rather watch a compelling story and look up the reality later.)

It’s a very good movie. Part of that is that the real-life event is such an amazing story in itself — the removal of 338,000+ British and French soldiers from the coast of France where they’d been soundly routed by the Germans, to England, by some 700 civilian-owned seacraft and the British navy. True patriotism, true sacrifice, true heroism. Part of the movie’s excellence is the direction of Christopher Nolan, who makes such good use of his actors and his score and his visual approach. Dialogue is limited, and the trick of dumping viewers right in on top of characters we don’t know and letting us find our place as things progress is successful. Then, too, Nolan has a gift for using very talented actors and keeping them restrained.

If you remember, I was complaining recently about Kenneth Branagh’s self-indulgent turn as Poirot in the visually-lavish “Murder on the Orient Express”. Well, Ken was directing himself in that. Nolan keeps him on a tighter leash, and Branagh’s reserved and heartfelt performance as the British naval officer in charge of the evacuation is a reminder of how good an actor he really is when he’s not chomping scenery. Tom Hardy’s sub-5-minute screen time as a Spitfire pilot with a low fuel supply is a highlight. (Having only seen the poster showing a sea of tin hats and one tommy looking up, I didn’t even know TH was in it until that distinctive mug briefly popped out from behind his oxygen mask, and then I was all ooh look my boyfriend’s in this one! bet he dies tho. So of course when I went to Youtube to look for a trailer to embed here, he’s front-and-center in it! I don’t know how I missed it this past summer.) The rest of the cast, including several big-name British movie actors as well as theater stalwarts and some new faces, is uniformly excellent as well. Highly recommended.

Saturday, Jan. 6: Indoor track meet for Taz; The CEO went as well. It went badly. For one thing, it’s been far too cold for the distance runners on the team to adequately train. For another, the meet organizers somehow decided to combine two sections of the boys’ 3200 — and wound up with 38 runners in the race. That’s terribly crowded, and crowding has the effect of making the runners go out too fast in an effort to spread themselves apart, so the first half of the race was ridiculously fast and then the second half was ridiculously slow. Bad idea.

RIDICULOUSLY cute packaging. This vibrant color combination just makes me so happy.

SOTD was, first, Twilly d’Hermes from a spray sample. From reading (generally positive) reviews, I had expected something pretty, lightweight yet substantial, a sheer tuberose with ginger. What I got: that raspy, chalky orange-baby-aspirin/Tang dust effect, plus that synthetic spiky jasminoid thing that takes a Skilsaw to my nerves. Only after that stuff wore off, about an hour in, did it turn sheer tuberose. I never got much ginger, unfortunately; I think it was underneath the baby aspirin. The ad campaign’s bright colors (I love the color scheme!) fit the fragrance, and if you’re not sensitive to those two particular aromachems, you’ll likely find Twilly really attractive. I’m sad that I am sensitive to them.

In the evening, I sprayed some new/vintage Parfum d’Hermes. (Vintage bottle in box, batch code dating to 1990, but new to me.) I’m uncertain about it. It does remind me a bit of vintage Guerlain Chamade, but just a bit, and only the higher concentrations of it. And the thing  is, really, I don’t love Chamade. I only like Chamade. Further, if Kafkaesque is calling this thing (in vintage form) a powerhouse, then it ought to BE a dang powerhouse. And it’s not.

Maybe this bottle has aged badly. (Unusual for something still in a box.) Maybe this particular batch was improperly mixed or macerated. Maybe I’m anosmic or hyposmic to something in it, so that I’m not smelling it properly. (This is possible; when The CEO got home last night, he was most appreciative of my fragrance. “This room smells good. Hey, you smell good. You smell really good.” And I’m sitting there thinking, Wow, you can smell it? I can barely smell it.) Maybe the very low humidity in the house is affecting my nose. I don’t know.

Sunday, Jan. 7: Birthday lunch with my parents, a little early but Mom wanted to have a family get-together while Gaze was still on break. He has to be back at Virginia Tech on the 12th. As it turned out, the memorial service for Mr. Shrewsbury was at the high school this afternoon, and he had to leave early.

SOTD was more of the unsniffed-blind-buy Parfum d’Hermes. I like it, but to be honest, I don’t love it, and I only like it a little more than I like Chamade. And the more I wear it, the more I start thinking, the heck with this, I feel like wearing Safari instead.

We should be getting a break from the cold pretty soon, though. That’d be nice.

Share

Scent Diary, June 26 – July 2, 2017

“Rose Garden,” pic totally stolen from download-wallpaper.net. Is this what summer looks like in England?

Monday, June 26: Sunny and not very humid. This is probably the kind of day that Henry James meant when he said, “Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” All I can say is that this dude was for sure not from Virginia, because summer afternoons here are typically hot, humid, full of bugs and mosquitoes — i.e., pretty miserable.

Except for today. Today was nice. Today was the kind of summer afternoon you get in England . . . I guess. Maybe particularly if you’re going to spend a 72-degrees-Fahrenheit sunny day playing croquet and drinking lemonade (that some poor kitchenmaid spent an hour squeezing the lemons for) and eating cakes and smelling the roses that the undergardener has been fertilizing and trimming and babying for two months.

Maybe that was a little snarky. Maybe watching Downton Abbey was too much for this poor vulgar colonist. (Maybe Henry James can just suck lemons.)

SOTD was Marc Jacobs Daisy. Studied for the math portion of the GRE (all the practice tests I’ve taken put me at about 91-95% correct on the verbal reasoning portion, so I’m focusing on math for now. My math skillz are so very rusty. 🙁 Walked for about an hour at the park, while Taz was at evening cross-country conditioning.

Tuesday, June 27: Another nice day, spent much the same as yesterday, except that I only walked 25 minutes because my feet hurt, and the SOTD was Penhaligon’s Violetta, all greeny violet and cool and aloof. I think it’s probably time to put some of my spring scents away now that it’s getting hotter. Will change out the contents of the hatbox soon.

They’re making hay in the Pond Field, so Gaze has put his sheep into the shop lot near the house. The donkey refused to come in with them, so now the sheep and the donkey are grazing comfortably on either side of the fence between the two fields. But there’s a sheep missing, and we can’t figure out where it’s gone. Snuck out under the gate and gone down the road? (But sheep mostly don’t like to be alone; they tend to feel very vulnerable without the herd.) Gone into a neighbor’s field, scared by the noisy racket? We don’t know, but there are twelve sheep where there should be thirteen.

Wednesday, June 28: Another nice day. Taz started behind-the-wheel driver instruction today — he was eligible to do that last summer after he finished the classroom portion in June, but we were so busy with taking Gaze on his college scouting/service academy visits and with the Hawai’i trip that we couldn’t get it scheduled. He’s doing it now, though.

I walked at the high school while Taz was running. It was hot even at 6:30 pm, bleargh. SOTD was Lumiere Noire pour femme (about the only patchouli-forward frag I really like, and even then it’s at least as much rose/narcissus as patch).

Thursday, June 29: Hot. I walked 2.12 miles at a different park while Taz was at driving class. No scent of the day today.

The CEO has been invited to give a presentation on agriculture on Kauai next month, and he would like me to go with him, so we’re planning that trip now.

The CEO’s mom has given us her old rope hammock, since the two trees that used to hold it have been cut down (and that’s a super long story I will tell another time). We have decided, in the tradition of naming household items with puns, to call it MC Hammock. The CEO is now wont to say, “It’s MC Hammock time.

Yeah, I live with that.

Friday, June 30: Cloudy/rainy. SOTD is MJ Daisy again, which I still do like, but honestly? it’s a little boring. I want something that really smells like cut grass drying into hay. The closest I’ve ever been able to come is DSH La Fete Nouvelle, which is almost perfect, but the musk in it is too sweet and too insistent. It does get the drying-grass thing just right. Too often, perfumery “hay” is sweet and coumarinic and doesn’t highlight the fresh, green aspect.

FOUND THE SHEEP. Once the haying was complete in that field, Gaze turned the sheep back into it. The CEO went out this afternoon and found them having a siesta under the big hickory tree near the gate, just chilling. He counted them: one, two… fifteen. Fifteen?

Aha! One ewe with two brand new lambs. Obviously, she had gone off to a secluded spot to lamb, and then waited a few days for everything to calm down before coming back to hang out with her clan.

Saturday, July 1: The boys cleaned their rooms and then headed off to go tubing with friends. The CEO cleaned off the porch and did laundry. I cleaned bathrooms and mopped floors. I worked on revising my novel — it’s July Camp NaNoWriMo! — and made fish tacos for dinner, then went for a walk. SOTD was Jacomo Silences, the old parfum de toilette. Gorgeous. It’s like walking around in a rose garden, after the evening shade has fallen.

The walk did not go well; I had to stop after just a few laps of the asphalt trail around the ball fields at Randolph Park. That’s the second time in a week that walking there has hurt my feet and ankles, so I won’t try walking that spot again. There are some trails that go into the woods there that are paved with that tiny gravel*, which doesn’t hurt my feet as much but the gravel bits get into my shoes and annoy me. Funny, though, that the asphalt trail at Rasnake Park near the Lions Club didn’t bother my feet at all.

*The CEO keeps calling it “pea gravel,” but it’s smaller and less round than what I think of as pea gravel, so the bits that manage to get between my shoe and my sock are pointy and painful. Ow.

Sunday, July 2: We began our church’s month of having services at the lake today. Claytor Lake State Park has a tradition of offering Sunday church worship, held by local churches, at 9 am near the gazebo site, and we do it in July. Sit in a lawn chair in your shorts, bring a cooler full of lemonade to share, sing about Jesus… what’s not to like?

SOTD is Silences again, which is like portable air-conditioning, or at least that handheld, battery-powered fan that I’ve taken to carrying in my purse, in case of Hot Flashes in Public…

Share

March 2017

So, no Scent Diary for the past, um, month. Sorry ’bout that. Been busy, been sick, been writing other stuff, been uninspired to write about perfume.

The weather is being weird.  We usually get the back-n-forth, cold-to-hot, rainy-to-sunny stuff in mid-March, but it showed up a couple of weeks early this year. And no real winter. Boo. So everybody has had the respiratory crud, which seems to be lingering long past its usual two-week run for me. I’ve been feeling pretty awful. Hunter is shedding, as well. Feels like we’re ankle deep in doggle fur!

I am ignoring March Madness, as usual.

I think I need to go back to making cold brew coffee. It just tastes better, and doesn’t leave my stomach agitated. It just takes a LOT of grounds, and some prior planning.

Recently tested: Parfums d’Empire Tabac Tabou. I like it. Review to come.

Bad news: The Dept. of Defense Medical Review Board has deemed Gaze’s eyesight unacceptable. No West Point. Gaze is very disappointed; I have mixed feelings. He was accepted at Virginia Tech and William and Mary, also a Virginia public university, but is 34th on the waitlist at the University of Virginia (which he was never going to attend anyway, since he’s been Hokie-brainwashed by his dad since birth). We are still waiting to hear from the other two of his five college applications, but that should happen by April 1.

The daffodils bloomed in the middle of March, and then we got snow. Not much, but the below-freezing temps kills the blooms, so I cut some and brought them in. I usually prefer to look at them outside, but with this cold coming, they’ll just die anyway. They smelled gorgeous.

It’s getting to be time for green florals: Le Temps d’une Fete (always). Silences, Chanel No. 19, Crown Perfumery Crown Bouquet. Deneuve. Chamade. I’m feeling luxuriously rich with green florals.

Ordered graduation gowns for Gaze and for Bookworm. OY. Can’t believe they’re both reaching those milestones this year.

Bookworm will be a dorm counselor at Yale again this summer, and has also taken a job as a teaching assistant for the two summer sessions of Organic Chemistry class and lab. They’re paying her. 🙂 Her plans for after that are loose.

Taz makes his stage debut in “The Man Who Came to Dinner” this weekend, as Mr. Stanley, the man whose household is disrupted when radio personality and dinner guest Sheridan Whiteside breaks a hip and is confined to the Stanley house for several weeks. I am so looking forward to seeing him act!

Taz and I sang happy birthday to my mother on the phone recently, and Hunter-doggle joined in. What a freak. 😆

I’m doing Camp NaNoWriMo beginning in April, planning to whip the Behemoth Novel into shape once and for all. Wish me luck, y’all.

 

 

Share

Scent Diary, Feb. 13-19, 2017

Monday, Feb. 13 – Warm (upper 50sF) again. Taz was sick and stayed home from school; I went to pick up his classwork. I worked on revising — no, let’s call it what it is, rewriting the 250K behemoth novel.

I’m trying to wear rose fragrances this week. Today it was Le Galion La Rose, which I really must at least mini-review soon.

Tuesday, Feb. 14 – Colder than yesterday, but not February cold. More like November cold. Dangit. SOTD was Lyric Woman, very lovely. There’s just something about incense fragrances that seems to create a — well, an uncluttered space in the mind, is the closest thing to what I mean. A meditative attitude, maybe.

I am sick. I’ve probably got Taz’s bug.

Happy birthday to my favorite brother!

1982 Shalimar ad

In the evening, I was chatting on Facebook with a writer friend who is working on a novel set in Prohibition-era Chicago, with a protagonist who is a singer in a speakeasy nightclub. We were talking about the general friskiness of young ladies in that time, with music and dress, and smoking in public and short hair, all radical changes from pre-WWI, and I mentioned that you see this radical change in perfume about this time as well. We go from florals and soft florals on oriental bases to bold chypres, leather and tobacco scents, and those full-on, all-out orientals like Shalimar. Long story short, she’d like to smell some of those classics, so I’m going to send samples to her. Can’t wait for the book! Also, this sounds like a whole blog post: Flapper Perfume.

Wednesday, Feb. 15 – This would have been my father-in-law’s 92nd birthday. I miss you, Bill.

Temps in the 40s today, and I’ve resorted to a sweater. This is good. SOTD was going to be a tad of My Sin before I send it to Wynter, but I hate it (maybe it’s gone off? it’s quite vintage), and it is in no way a rose scent, so I washed it off. Wearing By Kilian Rose Oud, which is a jammy rose-vanilla with a bit of wood, nothing particularly oudy about it. Yum. Now I want raspberries.

I managed to get to Bible study in the evening, but I sat there feeling chilled and feverish, so it was not a good idea. When I got home I had a cup of hot tea, took a hot bath with the last of my Arabian rose oil (gosh, I bought that little 3ml bottle years ago on Ebay), put on some Tauer Rose Delight body oil, and went to bed.

Thursday,  Feb. 16 – Still sick. Yuck. Parfum Sacre today, for comfort.

Friday, Feb. 17 – Feeling somewhat better today; did all the normal Saturday cleaning chores. The boys went to play Capture the Flag with the rest of their church youth group – in the dark – and The CEO and I went out for Italian. SOTD was Shalimar Light, since I’ve been writing about flapper perfume and no longer own any actual Shalimar. This is good stuff.

Saturday, Feb. 18 – Gaze left early to go to Regionals indoor track meet. The CEO left around noon to watch him run. Taz and I went shopping for a new bookcase for him, since he has outgrown the one he has. (Yeah, Taz and his books. Eye roll. I just want them up off the floor!) When we got home I was exhausted; maybe I’m not so over this sick as I thought I was. SOTD was Cuir de Lancome. Every time I wear it I think, “Gosh, this is pretty.”

Gaze did very well at the meet. Didn’t win anything, but cut his 3200m time by 9 seconds! Most of our school’s athletes had a good meet, with new PRs popping up all over the place. I’m proud.

Sunday, Feb. 19 – I feel awful again. Stayed home from church. Napped. No perfume. Finished “Flapper Perfume” in the afternoon, though.

 

Share

Scent Diary, Feb. 6 – Feb. 12, 2017

February Roses

Monday, Feb. 6 – Funny how everything appears really bleak at home when you’ve been spending your days in a literal bubble decorated with exotic plants, waterfalls, and strings upon strings of Christmas lights. A sad side effect of vacation. (Luckily, the Drab at Home effect has no effect on people. The boys and the dog look as good to me as ever. :))

Keeping on with the Month of Roses project at Chemist in the Bottle, SOTD was L’Arte di Gucci. The CEO did laundry all day yesterday, but there is STILL a large pile of dirty clothes in the laundry room.

Gaze came home by himself after track practice. “Where’s your brother?” I asked him, confused.
“He’s at a MACC [academic challenge] match. Auburn HS. Should be home by 8 or so.”
“Wait, there was MACC and you didn’t go?” Gaze is captain of the Social Studies team.
“Needed to go to track because we have the conference meet on Wednesday. Besides, I wanted to see how they would do without me.”
As it turned out, they LOST. Boo. Taz is going to have to step up his MACC game next year.

Tuesday, Feb. 7 – Like yesterday, it’s warmer than it should be for February, in the upper 50sF. This is wrong in all kindsa ways. The CEO can cheer about warmer weather all he likes, but I want my winter! Testing Neela Vermeire Rahele this morning, roses later. (Rahele review later, too.) SOTE was Caron Parfum Sacre. So good.

My dad has been in the hospital with breathing difficulties. As it turns out, it’s just bronchitis, but he needed some breathing treatments and heavy-duty meds before they let him go home. Now Mom is sick too. Boo.

Wednesday, Feb. 8 – Warm again. Bleah. At least the kids can go outside to warm up before their races at the track meet today (yeah, they CALL it Indoor Track, but there isn’t enough room to warm up inside, so you just hope it’s not snowing). SOTD was Iris Poudre.

The CEO went to the meet to cheer on the boys. Our teams did unexpectedly well, the girls’ team finishing third by only six points (two points behind the runner-up) and the boys’ team coming in second by one point. ONE. Gaze finished 5th in the 3200M, right behind teammates finishing 2nd, 3rd, and 4th; he’ll go on to the regional meet. Taz finished 8th, not high enough to advance, but he cut his time from last week almost nine seconds, so we’re super proud of that. He barely qualified for conference with a time of 11 minutes 22.77 seconds. His new PR is 11:13.88, go Taz!

They didn’t get home until late, after 1 a.m., poor guys.

Thursday, Feb. 9 – The rain that started last night dried up, but the wind has not abated and it is COLD. This really stinks, because if we’d gotten the cold front before the precipitation, it would have been snow. Grr. Annnnnyway, SOTD is Lolita Lempicka Eau de Minuit, from that bottle I got in Nashville last week. Nice.

SOTE wound up being a dab or two of Tauer Une Rose Chypree, from a sample I’ve had, like… at least seven years. I think it’s going off; it smells a bit like used cooking oil. I never needed any more than a sample of URC because it’s such a powerhouse and I don’t, after all, love it. I just like it. But I think this particular sample, which I’ve used and enjoyed probably a dozen or more times already, should probably be jettisoned.

Friday, Feb. 10 – Had conferences with the boys’ teachers for this semester, except Taz’ drama teacher. It’s okay, I’ll catch up with Mr. McCoy later – he was holding rehearsals for the “Love the Bus” bus-safety presentation that the drama class puts on for the elementary school students in the county. The script changes every year, but it’s meant to be a fun and funny reminder of how to be safe on and around school buses, and what to do in emergencies. Gaze is doing well. So is Taz, except that nobody can read his handwriting. This is a perennial issue. I think his brain works faster than his hand can write. SOTD was the pleasant, pretty Cuir de Lancome.

Bookworm did not get rain in New Haven. Bookworm got snow. Here is a picture of her, at left in the turquoise and gray jacket, in the middle of a friendly snowball fight.

Saturday, Feb. 11 – Went to a gathering of church ladies (nice ones!) for a cupcake-decorating event. That was fun. We didn’t even eat the cupcakes until we were all finished. 🙂 SOTD was again Lolita Lempicka Eau de Minuit, probably too much of it, but it was okay with all the sugar in the air. It’s warm again. Taz is sick: stuffy nose, headache, fever. He’s staying in his room and reading.

My refurbished wind chimes (Grace Notes Earthsong Medium, tuned to a mellow pentatonic scale – click here to listen) came home yesterday, all shined up and repaired! The CEO gave them to me twelve years ago, and they had needed repair. I’m glad to have them back. When Gaze and I took them out of the box and they rang out in the house, Hunter started singing with them. He’s so funny!

Sunday, Feb. 12 – Taz is better today. The bottle of Le Temps d’une Fete was calling to me, and it’s still warm, so I got a good three spritzes in. I’m going to be so sad when it’s all gone.

Share

Scent Diary, Jan. 23-29, 2017

Katahdin ewe with lambs. Not our pic, or our sheep, but they look just like this. (Click through for link to original source.)

Monday, Jan. 23: Rain. More rain. I am officially sick of rain, especially since I know that if the temperatures were colder, this precipitation would be snow. We need more snow. I need to wear some aldehydes in the winter cold, and it isn’t cold! Boo hiss. (Maybe I need to move farther north, so I get more winter and less summer? I’ll have to look into the possibility of picking up the farm and moving it…  😉 ) Wearing Memoir Woman and wishing for snow.

It looks like the washing machine has finally bitten the dust. It won’t spin. Must find a new one. But a traditional agitator type, or one of the new high-efficiency ones? I don’t know.

Please can I go outside please mom please please?

Tuesday, Jan. 24: The rain finally seems to be drying up. (GOOD. ‘Bout time.) Wearing Organza Indecence, which is not normally my kinda thing, and sometimes the dry-dusty patchouli in it gets on my nerves, but we’re getting along fine today. It might be my favorite vanilla scent, because it’s not about the vanilla.

Hunter is about to DIE of excitement because there are sheep in the shop lot. DIE, I tell you. He desperately, desperately wants to go play with the sheep, and I won’t open the gate and let them come into the yard, so he thinks I’m mean. Rotten Freaky Squeaky. He has been on the wrong side of the door alllllll day.

The sheep are in the shop lot because Lamb #7, two days old, has a lame foot. Could be due to birth trauma; we’re not sure. Gaze thought it would be best to confine the whole herd (now numbering 15) to a small area so the lamb wouldn’t have to walk far to keep up with his mama. He is apparently nursing well and seems to be doing okay. Incidentally, the sheep seem completely untroubled by the rain. They can go under the overhang of the shop roof, where we park the tractors, to stay dry if they want, but none of them have bothered to do so.

Wednesday, Jan. 25: The rain has finally abated. I’m still waffling on whether to get a traditional agitator-type washer, or one of the newer HE “tumbler” types. Consumer Reports says the HE ones clean better and get more water out of the clothes, as well as using far less water to begin with, but since The CEO likes to do the laundry and doesn’t trust the new tech, I guess we’ll go with agitator.

SOTD is Chanel 1932 EdP (the new version). The breathtakingly beautiful citrus opening of the original EdT is a bit muted, but the drydown is a gorgeous lightweight version of 31 Rue Cambon, so overall I’m happy with it.

Unfortunately, when Gaze went out to check the sheep this evening and give them some minerals, he found Lamb #7 lying dead, with not a mark on it. It definitely did not starve, and it wasn’t savaged by animals, so we don’t know what happened to it. The CEO surmises that perhaps it had a more extensive birth defect than we could see.

Thursday, Jan. 26: Not feeling so great today. Sampling Chanel Beige, wishing it were either prettier or more interesting. You know I have a weakness for the “just-pretties,” and I’ll tolerate a good bit of formulaic development if they’re really lovely, but Beige is not hitting that sweet spot for me. Eventually I got rid of it and put on some vintage Emeraude. Gosh, old Emeraude is beautiful.

The boys went off to their first MACC (academic challenge team) match this afternoon. When Taz walked in the door and I asked him how it went, his only response was, “80-15.”
“But did you win?” I asked.
He cocked an eyebrow at me. “I said the score was 80-15. You think EastMont scored that high on us?”
Okay, point taken.  Their Social Studies team is pretty good, and last year they only lost one regular-season match, to the eventual regional champion. EastMont was not that team.

(Bookworm was on the Science team, but Gaze and Taz are history/geography geeks. I guess they come by their geekdom honestly… as kids, The CEO and I spent hours poring over the encyclopedia, just for fun. It’s why we still have an encyclopedia set, even though it’s much easier to just Google stuff: because if you just turn the page when you’re finished looking up whatever you wanted to know, you’ll probably learn something else too. We still subscribe to the newspaper for similar reasons.)

Friday, Jan. 27: COLD today. (Yessss.) And we have a new washing machine. The local place had a sale going on certain Whirlpool and Maytag models. There are other stores in the area, but Pulaski Appliance services what they sell, right away. You don’t have to wait three weeks like you do when you call Lowe’s or Sears repair services, and that’s valuable to us.

Now Smell This’ Friday project for the week is “Sci-Fi Friday: wear a fragrance that transports you to some alternative futuristic scenario, or that matches a favorite Sci-Fi novel or movie.” I’m wearing Comme des Garçons for Stephen Jones, which makes me think of Pris from “Blade Runner,” hiding in plain sight as one of Sebastian’s toys under that veil. Killer Bride Doll, that Pris. I’ve called this scent “violets growing on a lava-blasted landscape” before, and that’s still true, but I’d forgotten how wonderful the drydown is on this one. It becomes slightly more floral as it progresses, and I do really like the vetiver/gaiac wood/amber drydown. Nice.

Saturday, Jan. 28: Still cold, yay. No track meet today. Gaze went to have an interview with a Princeton alum this afternoon; he said he thought it went okay. (Bookworm had done a couple of these as well — one with a Yale alumnus and one with a Princeton guy. They’re not required, and they’re not even available in all areas; it seems to depend on alumni volunteering to do interviews with prospective students. The Ivy League universities Bookworm applied to were pretty upfront about how much weight these interviews carry: not much. I suspect that they are mostly meant to answer the question, “Is this applicant the same person in real life as he or she is on paper?”)

With the cold has come the stink bugs. Ugh. We sometimes get them coming into the house in autumn, but hadn’t seen many this past one. In the last few days, The CEO and I have personally dispatched about a dozen of them. There are few things more unnerving than having one of these suckers go droning past your ear like a miniature B-52 and then landing THWAT on the laptop screen. (Or, worse, on your head. Which has happened to me exactly once, and that was more than enough.) Luckily, they’re not too hard to catch. You just have to be careful not to scare them, or squish them, because then they put out the most ungodly smell. I accidentally smushed one in a door frame once, not having seen it perched there on the jamb before I closed the door. It was gross.

The CEO and I went to see a Billy Joel tribute band this evening. The Stranger was fantastic, and I hope to see them in concert again at some point. If you ever get the chance to see these guys, GO. (SOTD, by the way, was the ever-gorgeous Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums Carnal Flower, which is wonderful in winter. In fact the first time I tried it, the temperature was below zero, and that terrific florist-case opening, with the mentholated tuberose, was a stunner. I love it better in winter than in summer, when it zips through its development too fast.)

Sunday, Jan. 29: Still cold! We woke up late and were 8 minutes late to church. (My fault, probably.) Got a compliment after church on my scent of the day: Pierre de Velay No. 11, a nice floral chypre thingie that I do wish I could a) afford and b) obtain. I don’t think Roja Dove ships to the US. The complimenter wears, I think, Coty L’Aimant, and has an appreciation for old-school frags. “I love it,” she said. “It’s… earthy.”

Share

Scent Diary, Jan. 9-15, 2017

Monday, Jan. 9: No school because of the snow. We started the Traditional School Snow Day Lord of the Rings Movie Marathon (we have the extended versions. Of course we do.) and ate meals in front of the fireplace. Temps were below 20F. SOTD was Donna Karan Black Cashmere, which despite its edgy spices and incense is extremely cozy. Somehow the whole of it isn’t edgy at all, but creamy and comforting.

Tuesday, Jan. 10: Still below freezing, but slightly warmer. School was on a 2-hour delay schedule today, so the boys were gone, but Bookworm and I continued the TSSDLOTRMM with The Two Towers. (Interestingly, I find the soundtrack for this movie the best of the three, though I’m not quite sure why that’s so since many of the musical themes are consistent throughout. Maybe there is too much ominous Mordor stuff in the third movie soundtrack for me, but I do love this one. I bought the soundtrack the week after seeing this movie in the theater, and Taz practically wore it out.)

SOTD was Ferre 20, which I bought in Rome in 2010 as a souvenir of a lovely trip. If I try to describe it, I come up with something like “aldehydic fruity floral musk,” which to be honest sounds just awful. However, it isn’t. It’s really pretty, something along the lines of Iris Poudre but easier. We had a lovely dinner with my parents to celebrate my birthday, and they gave me a pretty garnet pendant necklace.

Wednesday, Jan. 11: Yep, so I’m another year older today. It rained and temperatures rose into the low 40s overnight, so the snow is almost gone. My sweet MIL came by and picked Bookworm and me up to take us out for breakfast, which was a real treat. I wore Iris Poudre for real today; it’s such a cashmere scarf of a scent.

Bookworm helped me make a cake, and we ate lasagna for dinner. I worked on finishing up some alterations and hemming of her clothes since she’s planning to leave for spring semester later on in the week. (We always buy her petite sizes, but I always wind up cutting 2-3 inches off her pants and jeans anyway!)

Thursday, Jan. 12: It’s actually warm today! In the mid-50s, if you can believe it. SOTD was a tad (you only need a tad) of MFK Lumiere Noire pour femme, that dark Gothic rose scent.

The community chorus’ spring concert will be pop music from the 50’s and 60’s, which is not exactly my favorite (c’mon, I did enough of this stuff back in high school choir), but everybody else seems to be having fun. And we will be in costume, so that ought to be fun for me. It can’t always be “Messiah,” I guess.

This kind of thing. Half of it’s gone already! You can reach the link to this recipe, which seems similar to Aunt Becky’s, by clicking on the pic.

Friday, Jan. 13: Bookworm has been dithering about going back to New Haven either today or tomorrow, but since she doesn’t HAVE to be there until Monday evening, for a FroCo informational meeting before classes start on Tuesday, she decided to stay until Saturday. YAY!  We had a nice lunch with my parents and some of my aunts and uncles. (Aunt Becky made us a cheese ball, yum… someday I’ll get her recipe.) SOTD was beloved Le Temps d’une Fete.

Poor Gaze went to the first day of a two-day indoor track meet and got home hoooooours later. The varsity team left the high school at 11:30 a.m. and drove two hours to Lynchburg for this massive meet. Gaze was supposed to run his event at 9:30 p.m. (which is bad enough), but he ran at 12:30 a.m. Yes, that’s right: half an hour after midnight. Ugh. He didn’t do well — you’re surprised, aren’t you?? 😉 — and the team didn’t get home until 3:30. GAH. I stayed up until 1 a.m., waiting to hear from him, but then I went to bed.

Saturday, Jan. 14: Since the varsity team got back so unbelievably late last night, the junior varsity team went to their meet today on the bus, and the varsity team wound up in various parent-driven vehicles. Taz did fairly well at the JV meet, coming home at 7 pm with a 3rd place (3200m) and a 6th (1600). Gaze, at the varsity meet, again had a rough time. The meet timeclock wasn’t working, he barely got any sleep, ate poorly during the day, and then somebody cut in front of him and caused him to stumble during the race… he missed the qualifying time for regionals by 1 second. One second! Grrr.

Bookworm and I finished the TSSDLOTRMM and ate leftover chili, and snuggled a lot. I really miss her when she’s gone. She’d planned to drive back today, but since an ice storm hit a long portion of the country she must drive through, she decided to wait until Sunday. Oddly enough, the forecast for here was clear, and the forecast for New Haven was as well, but Pennsylvania got hit with the ugly weather stick.

Sunday, Jan. 15: Bookworm headed out about 7:30 a.m., and I snuck in another hour of sleep before getting up for church. SOTD was Mary Greenwell Plum. I need a nap.

Share

Belize, Thanksgiving Week 2016, Part I

It may take me three posts to get through the Belize travelogue! We had a wonderful time.

FYI, there are lots of informational links in this series of posts about our vacation to Belize. If you want to read more about something, go ahead and click a link in blue text without worrying that you’ll be directed to a site that wants your money. 🙂

Friday, Nov. 18 – Doing the hurry-scurry gotta-pack-gotta-go dance, making sure we have dog care covered and vehicle ready to make the 4-hour drive to The CEO’s sister’s house near Dulles. I kinda hate this part of a trip. Did I unplug everything, did we turn the heat down, did we get the trash out, did I leave something I will need? Ugh.

Bookworm keeps calling to tell us that she’s stuck in Friday-evening traffic in and around NYC. Poor baby, she really hates traffic, and she’s already tired. She doesn’t get in until after 11 pm.

Saturday, Nov. 19 – Up at 4 am to make a 6:30 flight, double ugh. Security is pretty fast at this time of day, and there are no issues with the first leg of our flight. It’s cold and windy in Chicago (duh!), but we manage to grab some breakfast and make our next flight, direct to Belize City.

belize-airport-signIt’s warm here. Sort of tropical, but not in the same carefree island way that Hawai’i is tropical. The car rental guys, Ashton and Fitzgerald, are super nice. They give us “Big Red,” a good-sized SUV, help us load our suitcases, and even draw us a map for the Red Hut Inn. It starts to rain, and we manage to get sorta lost on the short 15-minute drive — not because the directions are bad, but because there are no street signs, I mean absolutely zero signs, and also because I am distracted by all the houses and buildings that would probably be condemned as unhabitable here in the US. A road crew is working on the main road from the airport to downtown Belize City, and it’s kind of scary: potholes, narrow places, no shoulder, river on one side, plus people in orange vests with shovels of gravel. The speed limit on this highway is 40 mph, but we get passed by six vehicles, all going well over 40. I don’t know how.

I’m thinking maybe this was not the best idea we ever had, especially when we hit yet another pothole on the street that should be where our guest house is. At least everybody speaks English, I remind myself.

red-hut-innWhen we find the guest house (it’s a Thanksgiving miracle! no sign out front), it’s in a residential neighborhood on a street that goes almost down to the water. The hosts are welcoming, and our rooms are nice. They’re on the third floor; The CEO and I are in a small double-bed room, and the kids are in a room at the other end of the balcony, with a twin bed and a bunk-bed. We’re dying from the humidity until we turn on the AC. (Thank you, Lord for AC.) It happens to be a holiday here, and there are few businesses open. We know we’ll need groceries for lunch tomorrow, so we go to the Asian grocery the hosts recommend and pick up some staples. Then a lovely grilled-chicken dinner cooked by Louis, and then, oh yes, bedtime.

Sunday, Nov. 20 – Adventure time! Our host told us last night that we could certainly manage a three-item tour today, and because The CEO loves a challenge, we’re going for it: Mayan ruins site Altun Ha, the baboon sanctuary, and the Belize Zoo.

We eat peanut butter sandwiches and raisins for breakfast and drink juice boxes. We’ve been advised that the water is safe to drink here, but because Bookworm is very concerned (“I cannot get sick. There are only three weeks of class left and I have a substantial research paper to finish and FroCo duties and my chem research lab stuff and then there are exams and I. CANNOT. GET. SICK.“), we have planned to drink bottled liquids.

We drive north on the same  highway we traveled yesterday; past the airport turnoff construction ceases and the road is pretty decent. We’re in the parking lot for Altun Ha about 45 minutes after leaving Belize City, and we are sunscreening and bug-spraying ourselves for all we’re worth, when a man walks up to us and asks if we would like a tour of the ruins. “How much?” we ask.

“Special price,” he tells us. “$5 American for each of you. At least an hour tour, and I’ve been through the training as a tour guide. You can ask me anything.” His name is Frederick, and although his tour doubles the cost of the entrance fee, it turns out to be absolutely worth it. He outlines the history of the city, explains the general layout and the reason why some of the temples are left unexcavated (they are mostly constructed of limestone, and since limestone is porous, removing the tree roots that have grown into the buildings over time would cause the structures to crumble), as well as giving us a thorough overview of the site and Mayan history in general. He answers all our questions, which are many and vary from, “So why are some of the temple steps white and some of them natural stone?” to “So they think this area off to the right was, what, the priest’s house?”

Altun Ha plaza. Photo by The CEO.
Altun Ha plaza. Photo by The CEO.

Altun Ha is a relatively small site, one of the later trading posts of the Mayans, and has several excavated/partially-restored temples as well as two central plazas. One of the most exciting finds from the excavation here was the tomb of an elderly man, either royalty or high-ranking priest, who was buried with exquisite pottery and heavy jade and shell jewelry. Resting near his right hand was a carved piece of jade depicting the head of the sun god Kinich Ahau. This jade head weighed nearly ten pounds and is the single largest piece of Mayan carved jade ever found. It now rests in the Central Bank in Belize City, and a picture of it is on all Belizean currency.

Frederick explains to us that Belize’s population is about a third Mestizo (people of Spanish and Maya descent), about a third Kriol (people of African and English/Scottish descent), about 10% Maya, about 6% Garifuna (people of African and Amerindian descent), and the remaining 12-14% people from elsewhere in the world. A fair number of these are Chinese, he says, which would explain the Chinese grocery we saw.

On the way out, we stop by the souvenir stall that Frederick and his girlfriend keep. They’re selling beautifully made and polished wooden items – bowls, and decorative items like the toucan. We buy The CEO’s sister a gorgeous bowl and a natural wood toucan for ourselves.

Then, with Bookworm reading the map we got at the airport (maps: not ma thang), we find the road going to the baboon sanctuary. Which is not, I discover, for baboons, but for native howler monkeys.

This cracks me up, and you’d have to know my dad to understand, but any time my brother, sister, or I were crying and he was trying to jolly us out of it, he’d call us howler monkeys. He kept that up with his grandchildren, so that when I hear “howler monkey,” I can hear my dad’s voice saying it in my head. It’s an eye roll, but a sweet one.

We find a place advertising itself like this: “Your exciting eco-tour starts here!” We pull in. There are restrooms and a picnic table, plus a small building that looks like a restaurant — or, let’s be honest here, a beer place that serves food, like most of the rest of the places we’ve seen on the side of the road here. But nobody’s around, except a mother dog so tired she just flicks an ear at us and goes back to sleep. We eat lunch (more PB&J sandwiches, more juice boxes), reapply bug spray, and head down the trail.

Howler monkey
Howler monkey

There are monkeys right there. Before we’ve gone three minutes’ walk, there are two males, a female, and a baby in the trees overhead, and we carefully step across a long line of large ants carrying pieces of leaf. The male howlers are making their weirdly loud booming noises (clearly we are threats), and The CEO gets several good pictures. Insects are flying around, and this is making Bookworm nervous, and we’re all hot, so we decide that the car’s AC sounds good, and we don’t want to miss the zoo hours, so we leave.

Bookworm navigates us back to Belize City down a different road, and we hit the Belize Zoo parking lot with plenty of time to see everything. The zoo tries to replicate natural habitats as much as possible for its animals, which are all native species and are all either rescued, orphaned, zoo-born or rehabilitated (i.e., nobody went out and captured animals in the wild to display here). Taz is excited about the tapir (“mountain cow” in Belize), and Gaze likes the colorful birds. But it’s a big thrill for us to run across an enclosure for two pumas, AKA cougars, AKA mountain lions, AKA panthers. Puma concolor is long gone from eastern North America, but it once lived here in the mountains of southwest Virginia, and of course our high school mascot is the cougar. (Although the last authenticated report of a cougar in our state was in 1884 in Washington County, my grandfather, born in 1912 in neighboring Lee Co., swore that he’d heard a cougar — a “painter” in local parlance — in the woods as a child. “Sounded just like a woman screaming,” he said.) A zoo employee happens to be standing by with a covered pail, and the larger puma stops near the enclosure fence to watch him. He keeps showing the puma something in the bucket, and the puma makes a sound very like a cat’s meow.

Cougar, intent on the treat in the keeper's bucket. Believe it or not, this photo was not zoomed and cropped; he really was that close! Pic by The CEO.
Cougar, intent on the treat in the keeper’s bucket. Pic by The CEO.

I suppose that the keeper is intentionally keeping the animal near the fence for our benefit, and Bookworm tells me that these cats are more like house cats genetically and behaviorally than they are like big cats such as lions or tigers. The smaller puma sneaks up and playfully pounces on the larger one, and there’s a yowl and a pursuit through the vegetation that would look very familiar to anyone who’s ever owned cats.

By the time we’ve made it back to the zoo entrance and someone suggests checking out the reptile cages, I am about done. I have bug bites despite the bug spray, and I’m desperately thirsty, and you can keep the snakes, thank you, even if they’re behind glass.

Louis makes us dinner again, snapper with a delicious savory sauce. Yum. We mention to him that we’re thinking of visiting the Cultural and History Museum, and he snorts. “It’s crap. There’s nothing to see there, don’t waste your time.” Bedtime is very welcome.

Share