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…

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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Scent Diary, Oct. 31 – Nov. 6, 2016

416743892-endora-2t
Those false lashes tho

Monday, Oct. 31 – It’s never very Halloweeny around here. The CEO doesn’t enjoy the holiday, and we no longer have little ones to dress up in costume and take trick-or-treating, and living out here in the boonies we don’t get trick-or-treaters coming to the door. So, no Halloween. (Could have gone to our church’s block party at a member’s house, but I was just Not In The Mood.) Wore L’Arte di Gucci, which smells like I imagine Endora would: loud, proud, colorful, in-your-face witchy.

Tuesday, Nov. 1 – First day of NaNoWriMo. I was seriously on the fence about doing it again this year, given my recent lack of success in revising an earlier novel, but I did decide to go ahead and write a story that’s been in my head for years. Switched it up, though: instead of writing it from the perspectives of the college lovers, I’m now writing it from the POV of the wife of one of them. She’s going to be absolutely blindsided by her discovery of the 20-years-ago affair.

It’s gloomy and windy today, perfect for vintage Magie Noire. My mini is super-old and still smells amazing, but it sort of eats my head and I can hardly think of anything else while I’m wearing it, so it’s a rare occasion when I do.

Wednesday, Nov. 2 – Very foggy in the morning, gorgeous later. I only managed to get 932 words down yesterday, so I had some catching up to do today. Getting excited about this one, now, so I got up to 3759 before the end of the day. Working title is “Personal Injury,” because two of the characters are lawyers, but I may not keep that.

Mowed the grass for what might be the final time this year. The lawn is decorated with scattered fallen leaves, but I never mind that; they’re not thick enough to kill the grass, and I figure the soil can always use the organic matter, once I crunch them into bits with the lawnmower. SOTD probably should have been Arpege, because it’s amazing in the fall, but I wound up testing a bunch of samples. Bedtime scent was Le Galion La Rose, which I thought was going to be a soliflore. It’s a warm woody rose, though, pretty and comforting.

The boys went off with the cross country team to the Regional meet today, after last week’s triumphant Conference 24 win. They were, however, non-triumphant today. Nobody on the boys’ team ran well today. We did have two girls qualify for State, but that was it. Bummer.

The newly-painted bathroom, with new bronze accents and framed mirror. I might replace the faucet as well, because this one is a)builder grade and b)the chrome is pitted and flaking. Photo via my terrible cell phone camera.
The newly-painted bathroom, with new bronze accents and framed mirror. I might replace the faucet as well, because this one is a)builder grade and b)the chrome is pitted and flaking. Photo via my terrible cell phone camera.

Thursday, Nov. 3 – Warm again. The bathroom is finished TA-DAAAA!! and I’m pleased with it. SOTD was samples in the morning, and Le Temps d’une Fete in the evening.

Friday, Nov. 4 – Met my parents and aunt and uncle and we drove two hours to Bristol to meet another aunt and uncle for lunch. Nice. I wore sunny Chanel 1932 edp, and my mom told me I smelled good (well, she would, she’s a Chanel girl). Chatted with Bookworm and my sister A while we were there together, too.

Senior Night, 2012, with Bookworm.
Senior Night, 2012, with Bookworm. Photo by David Gravely.

Then home and a few chores before it was time to go to the high school for Senior Night. Before the football game starts, the seniors participating in fall sports (football, volleyball, golf, cross-country, cheerleading, and marching band*) are introduced and walk, escorted by parents and/or other significant people from the end zone near the field house down the track, in order to be recognized for their efforts. *Yeah, band. A couple of years ago — oh, I guess this was after the year that booster parents wound up taking five kids to the ER during band camp — the school began requiring that band students take the annual sports physical as well.

This final game of the regular season was against Salem, our school’s traditional rival, and a bitter rivalry it is. (I didn’t attend this school; the two of my cousins closest to me in age went to the rival school and I didn’t have a poor opinion of it until I got fed up with the treatment the band received every time we played there. Typically, the on-field nastiness does not reach the band, and there is friendly feeling between fellow musicians. Not at Salem, and that’s all I have to say on the subject.)

Senior Night, 2016, with Gaze.
Senior Night, 2016, with Gaze. Photo by David Gravely. (New band uniforms arrived at the end of marching season 2015, which is why Gaze’s looks substantially different than Bookworm’s.)

Salem returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, and the game went south badly from there, ending up with a score of 56-14. Worse, the band seemed to be having a very off night. Star Spangled Banner sounded awful, the stands tunes were rough, and the halftime show lackluster. I don’t know why. It was an emotional time for me, seeing my band kids together for the last home game. Some of them I’ve known for five years, and I’ll miss them very much. I was kind of a wreck; it’s Gaze’s last year at home full-time, and since Taz quit band, this is the end of an 8-year run as Band Mom for me. Stupid thing to be sad over, but there it is: I was very sad.

Saturday, Nov. 5 – The CEO and Gaze went off to watch Virginia Tech play football at Duke. Taz had declined a ticket, so he and I stayed home, cleaned the house, planted two chrysanthemums, ate pizza, and hung out together. It was pleasant.

SOTD was Pierre de Velay No. 11 extrait – one of those creations based on a recipe book from defunct French perfume house active in the early 20th century, given new life by Roja Dove’s perfumery in the UK. It’s very much a classical chypre: the bite of bergamot, some beautiful rose and jasmine, patchouli and oakmoss and amber to ground it. It reminds me a great deal of Coty Chypre parfum, except it’s sharper, not nearly as soft as Chypre smells now (after a good 50 years of maceration, of course). It’s also similar to Soivohle Centennial, also based on a classic chypre recipe, but Centennial has a peculiar and lovely animal fuzziness I can’t pin down. The de Velay No. 11 has no fuzz at all. It’s toothy and joyous and very, very retro. I love it. Picked it up at Surrender to Chance, which I think is the only place that has it (unless you want to contact Roja’s place and see if they’ll ship to you).

My Low Brass boys! I'm going to miss them. L-R back row: Isaac, Jeremy, Jake, James, and Gaze. Right in the center there is rookie Branden (whose big sister taught Gaze to march!), then Briggs and Lakin on the front row. Photo by Stacey Utt.
My Low Brass boys! I’m going to miss them. L-R back row: Isaac, Jeremy, Jake, James, and Gaze. Right in the center there is rookie Branden (whose big sister taught Gaze to march!), then Briggs and Lakin on the front row. Photo by Stacey Utt.

Sunday, Nov. 6 – GAH I AM SICK OF POLITICS. Sick, I tell you. I think the worst part is that after one of the candidates wins the election… that person has won the election. And then we have to live with him or her.

SOTD was By Kilian Sweet Redemption. Taz told me I smelled like lollipops. I’d roll my eyes, but the thing is, I do smell kinda like lollipops.

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Rose Week #1, spring 2016

mycityflower pink roseThe Now Smell This Friday project is “wear a rose perfume.” I’ve taken the opportunity to make this a rose week. ROSE WEEK YAY!

If I’m being truthful, I probably have enough samples of rose perfumes that I could do a Rose Month. Maybe two months. 😳 And yes, rose perfumes come in many moods, so I could run the gamut from vampy, Gothy dark roses to fresh-cheeked sweet roses, to rose chypres and rose gourmands and woody roses and citrus roses and fruity roses and incense roses and…

Okay, you get the idea. In any case, what I’m longing for now is the gentle, uncomplicated ones, the ones that “feel pink” on my skin and just make me smile. I didn’t even have to dig very far to find several gentle pinkies. Here’s what I wore this week:

My bottle of Petite Cherie looks like this, all lovely celadon green frosted glass.Monday, April 12Annick Goutal Petite Cherie, edt. This is very definitely a fruity rose, and rather simple, which isn’t odd considering that it was created for Annick Goutal’s young daughters. It’s cut grass, pear, peach, rose, vanilla and musk. I never smell peach in it – or vanilla, for that matter. Instead, it’s pear, cucumber, and rose, and it evokes a sweet childhood memory for me, so that I find it extremely comforting. There was a time when Gaze used to ask me to spritz it on the hem of his sleep shirt… (why do they have to grow up? sigh.) My bottle is the pale celadon-green frosted glass one, 25ml, and I keep it in the fridge since it’s so well-known for going off; it’s now seven years old and smells just fine.

paris YSLTuesday, April 13Yves St. Laurent Paris vintage parfum. I bought this mini recently on ebay and am utterly floored by it. It’s like rose liqueur – heady, intense, very beautiful. Not that I’ve tasted rose liqueur, but I’m sure it exists. (It does, I just looked it up. Pretty sure they don’t sell it at my local ABC store. They do sell moonshine there, though!) Man, if you sprayed the parfum on, you’d radiate for three city blocks. Not that that would be a bad thing.

roses and peoniesWednesday, April 14Parfums MDCI Rose de Siwa. I can’t help sighing in pleasure over it, because it is just the pinkest, prettiest, un-Barbie-est floral ever. If you hate it, you probably hate kittens and babies and flowers, and I’m not sure I wanna be friends with you.

(Just kidding.)

Thursday, April – Testing Parfums de Nicolai Rose Pivoine… and I don’t like it. Not enough peony, too much geranium for my personal taste. Once that wore off, I tested Ann Gerard Rose Cut, which I cannot now make up my mind whether I like or not. I did love the first hour of it – a gorgeously jammy rose, with a hint of patchouli and just a tad of vanilla. From there it got more and more oriental-balsamy, and by the end I was just waaaaaiting for it to wear off.

creme de la cremeFriday, April 15Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Ete. Okay, I admit it – for all my yarking on about pink roses, the yellow ones are really my favorite. Rose d’Ete smells like yellow roses – a soft hint of apple, and a gentle powdery rose that makes me feel joyous. I think this one might have been THE first niche fragrance I ever bought, and I still love it.

I found so many rose perfume samples in my stash that I’ll be sure to do another Rose Week soon! This was fun.

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Presidents Versus Dictators

Interesting conversations happen at my dinner table.

The other night, The CEO and Gaze and Taz, inspired by the upcoming NCAA  basketball tournament, put together a Dream Team of US Presidents for a pick-up basketball game against the World Dictators All-Stars.

Here’s The CEO to describe their plan:

The rules: Presidents and Dictators are chosen based on their peak physical condition. Dictators were chosen from a timeframe consistent with the existence of the US Presidency, 1788-present (so don’t look for Julius Caesar, who was reportedly tall).

Here are the lineups:

The American Presidents Dream Team
Starting at point guard, from New York City, speaking softly and carrying a Big Stick… standing at 5’10… wearing number 26…
Theodore “Teddy Bear” Roosevelt
At shooting guard, from Harvard … 6’1… wearing #44…
Barack Obama
At small forward, from the College of William & Mary…6’3… wearing #3…
“Too Tall Tom” Jefferson
At power forward, the General and team captain…His Excellency himself…6’2… wearing #1…
George Washington
And at center… 6’4 without the top hat… from the Illinois Home School League… wearing #16…
“Honest Abe” Lincoln

For the World Dictator All Stars:
At point guard… 5’7… from Russia and parts of Ukraine…
“Bad Vlad” Putin
At shooting guard… 5’8… from Libya,…
“The Desert Rat” Moammar Gadaffi
At small forward… 6’3… from Zaire…
“The Rumble from the Jungle” Mobutu Sese Seko
At power forward… 6’4… from Cuba…
Fidel “I Can’t Gitmo Satisfaction” Castro
At center… 6’4″… ‘The Ugandan Nightmare’…
Idi Amin

Here is some commentary about the players and the match-ups at each position:

At the point guard position, this looks like a great match-up for the fans to watch.

TR cowboy

putin

 

 

 

 

 

The always energetic Teddy Roosevelt will push the ball up the court for the Americans looking for fast break opportunities. The Russian strongman Putin, while the shortest of the dictators, is their most physically imposing. We’ll see if Teddy can dribble with one hand while carrying his Big Stick or if Bad Vlad will take over the backcourt like he took over the Crimea.

(Photo credit EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

libya-young1The shooting guard should be the Americans’ strongest scoring position with Barack Obama the Presidents’ best pure shooter. His biggest weakness is that he only shoots from the Far Left Wing. He’s matched up against the always elusive Gadaffi who gets open for his jump shots by using his well-honed nomadic skills developed from years of living in tents in the Sahara dodging missile strikes.

 

Thomas-Jefferson-Quote-Youngg20110215-mobutuinaugOn the front line, at small forward, an intriguing match-up pits the author of the Declaration of Independence against the man who created kleptocracy: theft as the fundamental purpose of government. Will Jefferson get the freedom he needs to hit some open jump shots or will Mobutu steal the show at the small forward position the way he stole most of his country’s mineral wealth? We hold these truths to be self-evident: if Jefferson can’t post up against Mobutu it’s going to be a tough night for the Americans.

Peale_GeorgeWashingtoncastroAt power forward it doesn’t get any more powerful than George Washington, the Father of our Country, taking on Fidel Castro, the last hold-out of Communism (well, the last one with any height, anyway. We were going to start the North Korean guy here, whatever his name is, but he’s just too short and fat). Washington stands head and shoulders above any other American President, but at 6’2 he’s giving up 2 inches in height against the 6’4 Father of the Cuban Revolution. But we don’t expect Washington to give up an inch of ground in the paint where this battle will be fought. After all, this is the guy who taught the world that Americans will cross an icy river to kill our enemies in their sleep on Christmas morning. Washington will have to be aggressive, but he also has to play smart against the cunning Cuban Commie. He doesn’t want to be first in war, first in peace, and first to the bench with three fouls in the first half.

Abe youngidi aminCenter looks like the toughest match-up for the Americans with the Great Emancipator, Abe Lincoln against the Ugandan Nightmare, Idi Amin. While they both come in at 6’4, the concern is whether the long-armed, lanky Lincoln can use his enormous wingspan to counter the much heavier and bulkier Ugandan dictator and former boxing champ. Neither of these guys is a natural scoring threat, so the battle down-low will be more about defensive positioning, blocking shots, and rebounding. Lincoln’s got his hands full here. If Amin is enough of a monster to eat the carcasses of his dead enemies he’s going to be a monster to stop on the boards, too.

If Lincoln gets into foul trouble trying to curtail the self-proclaimed Last King of Scotland, then Coach Eisenhower has another problem with his depleted bench at this position. The next tallest option is 6’2 Andrew Jackson, but his minutes will be limited due to injury. He still has a bullet lodged near his lung from a duel with the man who was supposedly Jackson’s wife’s ex-husband but who says he never divorced her. So, while Jackson was our seventh President, he was the first whose relationship status was “It’s Complicated.” And it’s going to affect his playing time.

Initially Ulysses S. Grant was going to back up Lincoln here, just as he bailed Lincoln out from Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia during the Civil War. We thought “Unconditional Surrender” Grant might force Idi Amin into submission in the paint the way he did to the Confederates at Vicksburg, but Grant’s continuing struggles with alcoholism have led to him being suspended for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

The Americans are coached by President and former General of the Allied Forces in World War II, Dwight Eisenhower. We like Ike as coach. Anyone who could plan D-Day can design an offense that can score points in the paint and stop the Dictators’ pick and roll with a collapsing zone defense.

The Dictators were initially going to be coached by Adolf Hitler, making this a rematch of the Normandy Invasion against Eisenhower, but even among the Dictators nobody could stand to be around this son of a [gun] so they sent him back to his bunker and hired Vladimir Lenin. Actually, they didn’t really hire Lenin, he just kind of sneaked in on a train from Germany and took over.

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Scent Diary, Jan. 18-24, 2016

light driving out darknessMonday, Jan. 18 – Martin Luther King Jr. Day here. An amazing man.

When I was in high school, Coach Roland Malone (who taught Health & PE as well as coaching the boys’ basketball team) would take the microphone for morning announcements and read us MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech every year on this day. Amen and amen. (Coach, who died a few months ago from cancer in his mid-80s, was also a minister and a lovely person. He was, as we say around here to describe the indescribable, “somethin’ else.” I clearly remember him exhorting us in health class to avoid straining on the toilet, lest we cause ourselves hemorrhoids. Oh, yes, he said it…)

SOTD is Mary Greenwell Plum, over a bit of Juicy Couture body creme. Mmmmm.

Tuesday, Jan. 19 – SOTD is Honore des Pres Vamp a NY – tuberose root beer, here I come! Cheerful, vulgar, great stuff.  (Funny how I tend to color-code BWFs as pink, isn’t it?)

Wednesday, Jan. 20 – I am almost finished with this novel – I’ve just been going back and adding scenes to bridge from one part to another. It’s kind of driving me crazy, and I think I might be better off putting it aside for a month or so and working on something else in the meantime.

The boys got out of school two hours early because winter weather was expected. I was out doing errands, and actually got caught in it a couple of times, where accidents well ahead of me blocked the roads. I finally decided to turn around and go the long way out to the interstate, which I knew would at least be scraped in one lane (it was clear all the way at that point).

SOTD was Pierre de Velay Extrait No. 11, an old floral chypre formula now produced by Roja Dove. It’s gorgeous. Smells a good deal like Roja’s first LE edp version of Diaghilev (I haven’t smelled the ridiculously pricy parfum version), or like Mitsouko without the brooding darkness. Or vintage Coty Chypre with a ton of lively bergamot up top. I got a decant at Surrender to Chance a while back, and it’s really lovely.

Thursday, Jan. 21 – Yesterday evening’s snow had stopped by 9 pm, and it’s clear today, but there’s no school. The boys are watching Discovery Channel and lounging; I am writing.

SOTD is Donna Karan Black Cashmere, since I finally performed the WINTER perfume cabinet-to-hatbox switch! It does feel like cashmere, but doesn’t smell very black to me at all. Maybe camel or beige, something you can accent with a red scarf. Great stuff.

Friday, Jan. 22 – Snow! Powdery light snow that then turned to sleet and back to snow, getting heavier as the day went on. I participated in the Friday Challenge at Now Smell This, wearing Serge Noire (which is definitely black: clove, wood, incense) on one wrist and sampling Miller Harris L’Air de Rien, which is not black but sort of greige – neutral, but serious about it.

I made brownies and a delicious pot roast with potatoes and carrots and onions. You need substantial food in weather like this.  Taz has been outside shoveling the front walk and the driveway; how thoughtful of him!

Gaze went to check on his sheep in the evening, and found that one of the boy twins was cold and lethargic because his mother had apparently forgotten she had two lambs and was only feeding his brother. It can happen so fast – he’d been up and running around in the morning, and the sheep were free to go inside the hay barn, but lambs are so small that they can lose body heat very quickly if they’re not eating.

sick lambSo the lamb came into the laundry room and we did our best to warm him up and feed him something. It took several hours, parked on top of a thick towel over the heating pad, with a towel over him, before he really got warm, and he had so little energy that it was difficult to get any milk into him even using a syringe. But finally The CEO got him to take a couple of ounces of milk out of a baby bottle, and then got up in the middle of the night to feed him again.

Saturday, Jan. 23 – Snow. Snow, snow, wind and snow all day… makes me think of my 1970s childhood! Total accumulation somewhere around 14 inches, substantial but not crippling. I think this storm wound up farther north and east than I had expected it to go; Bookworm said that New Haven got enough snow that they closed the dining hall. Luckily, she had some microwave meals in her room.

Brendan and SnowflakeWe had a fire going and it was nice in the house. The lamb was eager for another bottle by the time Taz went to check on him early in the morning. He is now taking bottles like a champ, and frisking about the laundry room with bright black eyes. We’re pretty sure he’s going to make it now, and we named him Snowflake.

I cleaned out the upstairs linen closet and came out with a PILE of old raggedy towels and worn sheets to take to the local animal shelter. I confess that I’ve been following the unwritten dictum that guests get the best towels, adults the next best, and the kids use the ones that are less nice; that’s how things were in my house when I was a child. I’ve gotten three sets of new towels in the past year, so it was time to do some towel-shuffling.

Gaze went to check on his sheep in the late afternoon, and found that one ewe was having trouble lambing. The CEO went out to help, and together they pulled the lamb and got the pair settled in a warm spot in the hay barn. The rest of them are doing fine.

SOTD was Shalimar Light, very cozy.

"I'm ignoring you. You are the Meanest Dog Mommy Evarrrr."
“I’m ignoring you. You are the Meanest Dog Mommy Evarrrr.”

Sunday, Jan. 24 – Sunshine today. It melted much of the snow off the vehicles by the afternoon, which bodes well for The CEO getting to class in Blacksburg tomorrow. Sampling things today, and grooving on the lamb. He is so cute.

Sampling L’Wren Scott for Barney’s, an interesting floral chypre with anise! Rather quirky.

Hunter-doggie is ABOUT TO DIIIIEEEE to go down to the laundry room and play with Snowflake. He excitement-whined all day yesterday. I mean ALL DAY. About 11 pm I had had enough (because he might say he wants to play with, but he really means taste), and fussed at him to shut up, and then he pouted. See?

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Scent Diary, Jan. 11-17, 2016

Scent Diary’s been AWOL for far too long. Agreed?

Monday, Jan. 11 – Weather is windy and chilly, but sunny. It’s my birthday, and Bookworm took me to the new place in town for lunch. We shared potato skins topped with shredded beef, cheese, and fried onions, and then I chose a sandwich of sliced turkey and pepper jack with chipotle mayo on a toasted baguette while she had a mushroom swiss burger. Yummy.

MG Plum smells like this vibrant lantana looks.
MG Plum smells like this vibrant lantana looks.

SOTD is Mary Greenwell Plum, over some Juicy Couture body creme because the two smell startlingly alike, especially in the top and heart: a tangy-fruity white floral with rose that just makes me smile every time. The Juicy Couture in parfum and body creme diverges, in my opinion, from the more-commonly-worn EdP, which I find ridiculously Watermelon Bubblicious-y. You know, that highly artificial watermelon flavor? That’s all I can smell in JC edp, but the creme and the parfum skip the watermelon for citrus and green notes. JC never actually gets to its gourmandy basenotes on me, it’s all top/heart. Which is okay, because it’s so closely related to Plum and Plum has a lightweight modern-chypre base that I like very much.

No birthday party yet; the boys had a MACC (academic challenge team) match and then I had to attend a band booster meeting. Bookworm was on the MACC science team, so she enjoyed watching the meet. Gaze and Taz, however, are on the social studies team; Gaze is the geography expert and Taz specializes in 20th century Western history. Social Studies has been good for the past several years, and they did win convincingly tonight.

Tuesday, Jan. 12 – Warmer today. Wore RL Safari during the day and did some errands with Bookworm, in between loads of laundry.

The box for Ostara is simply gorgeous, with what seems to be a cut-paper applique. This photo from stephanielim.net.
The box for Ostara is simply gorgeous, with what seems to be a cut-paper applique. This photo from stephanielim.net.

Then my MIL brought fried chicken from the local grocery store deli for dinner. I made my own cake, which was fun although I couldn’t get the icing swirls to go where I wanted them to go (boooo). I did get to unwrap the deeply-discounted bottle of Penhaligon’s Ostara I had bought for The CEO to give me. It’s really nice stuff.

The highlight of the gifts, though, was the copy of The Dragonbone Chair which Taz picked out for the kids to give me. I had a copy, but it’s been read so often that its pages are falling out, so he thought I’d like a replacement. I’ve probably mentioned it before, but I’ll plug it again: if you like classic epic fantasy and don’t demand a fast pace, give this Tad Williams three-book series a try. There’s a lot of world-building and character introduction in the first, oh, 200 pages, but if you can slog through that, things pick up afterward. Taz is not naturally a thoughtful person, but I think he’s developing some sensitivity. Proud of him.

Gaze's lambWednesday, Jan. 13 – COLD again, windy and well below freezing. Gaze had to gather up his sheep and put them in the small lot near the hay barn, so that they could have access to shelter in this weather. He kept the one ewe lamb born last year, and he’s borrowed a ram, so there are seven sheep… and one lamb! Wish I had a picture, but they’re pretty far from the house (that’s the drawback of the hay barn) so I haven’t snuck out there with my camera. This is a shot of a lamb from last year. #sorrynotsorry

Ostara, though it’s ostensibly a spring floral, has enough heft to it that it hasn’t been overpowered by the cold. I’m getting a good deal more ylang in my bottle, as opposed to the manufacturer spray sample I had used up. I’ve heard some complaints about the white musk in the drydown, but I don’t smell a lot on me; it just sort of tails off into a quiet woody thing. (Maybe I’m anosmic… no, I did get a whiff of it in my sample spray, but very little in this bottle. The base here reminds me a little bit of the drydown of Chamade, actually, though less vanillic. It smells a bit like Amaranthine… hmm…) It actually smells yellow.

Thursday, Jan. 14 – It’s far less cold than yesterday. SOTD is Mariella Burani.

Bookworm is packing to go back to school. I’m not looking forward to being the only person in the house that’s lacking a Y chromosome… sigh. Also, I just miss her when she’s gone. We did some errands, like picking her car up from the garage; it needed a current inspection sticker, and it was burning a good deal of oil on its trip home last month, so we had the local garage check it out. It needed its head gaskets replaced (!!! $$$!! ouch) and a tie rod end.

We also had to hit the DMV for a valid registration, because I had renewed it online but we hadn’t received the updated copy and the 2016 stickers for the license plate. I know people love to hate on the DMV… but I have to say, I’ve never had any extended wait times or poor service at ours. It might be because it’s a small office, but I give my local DMV workers kudos. We hit the door at 11:10 a.m., took a number from the check-in station, and were called to the first of the four service desks before we’d even sat down.

Watched the Kenneth Branagh-Emma Thompson noir thriller “Dead Again” (trailer here) with Bookworm after dinner, while the boys were at another MACC match. I do love “Dead Again,” especially for Robin Williams’ scene-stealing, disbarred psychiatrist, who dispenses advice from the meat cooler of the Hispanic grocery store he’s now working in. And for Andy Garcia’s sexy, chain-smoking reporter, who “misses the war.” (I wonder if Ken or Emma ever watch this thing and get a pang; they were married at the time it was filmed, and the attraction shows, but only a few years later, he left her for Helena Bonham-Carter.)

Fri., Jan. 15 – Chilly again. No SOTD; instead, I tested several samples.

Bookworm left to go back to Yale. She called around noon, to tell me that the car was making funny noises and she was concerned. We called the local garage; they put her in contact with a garage close to where she was (somewhere in PA). Turns out the car needed its alternator belt replaced, yikes. They got it fixed and she made it back to her dorm room by 11 pm – several hours late, but safe.

Sat., Jan. 16 – Spent the day cleaning and doing laundry, so I was commando all day. Tired. My ankle where I have a cracked bone (stress fracture) really hurt from all the up-and-down-stairs hustle. The CEO made it safely back to LA, and from there back to Dulles. He went to his sister’s house to spend the night.

The CEO's Virginia Tech Wintermester class, at Arthur's Pass on South Island.
The CEO’s Virginia Tech Wintermester class, at Arthur’s Pass on South Island. The focus of the study abroad was on international agricultural trade, and where better to study it than New Zealand?

Sun., Jan. 17 – I was expecting The CEO to show up around lunchtime, assuming his body clock didn’t get completely bollixed up and he slept too long. However, he came in at quarter to seven in the morning SURPRISE!!! He managed to go to church with us and have lunch before collapsing into a good long nap.

SOTD was Ostara again, and I am increasingly puzzled by the resemblance to Amaranthine. Now this is not bizarre in itself; these two are both from Penhaligon’s. Also, I have begun to notice that many of Bertrand Duchaufour’s creations have a certain indefinable something in common. When I was testing Ostara this past summer, it seemed similar in feel to Neela Vermeire Pichola. But I really should get out my manufacturer spray sample of Ostara and compare it to the bottle, which I bought considerably discounted. I’m starting to wonder if perhaps there was a compounding incident at Penhaligon’s and somebody decided to add the little bit of Amaranthine that might be leftover (it was discontinued this past year, I think) to the Ostara mix, so when someone noticed, the company decided to shove that batch of bottles off to a discount site. No factual basis for this guess, of course, but I’m exceedingly puzzled. Will report back on the wrist-to-wrist, sample vs. bottle test.

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