In Memoriam, April 16, 2010


Today marks the anniversary of the deaths of 32 students and faculty members at Virginia Tech.  I still grieve with the families and friends of those killed.  I also grieve with the shooter’s family, who lost a child as well that day.

I am grateful that The CEO made it home that day (the building where he teaches is the closest academic building to the dorm where the first shootings occurred).  I am grateful for the efforts of local law enforcement and emergency responders, and those of medical workers.  I am grateful for the outpouring of support that came from all over the world. 

Today we pause and remember the bright stars we lost.   If you go visit the Virginia Tech memorial website, on the right sidebar you will see the names of those killed.  Clicking on a name will open a brief bio, each one a picture of a vibrant, unique person whose loss diminishes the human community.   If you have time, I highly recommend your investigating Dr. Liviu Librescu, a survivor of a Nazi concentration camp, who at the age of 76 held the classroom door closed against gunfire, in order to give his students the opportunity to escape through the second story window.  I am in awe of that sacrificial love in action.


Photo is Hokies Thank the World, by Michael Kiernan,  from the site.


Scent Diary, Apr. 7-13, 2010

Wednesday, Apr. 7:  Yet another 90-degree day, which is freakishly hot for April around here.  SOTD: again, Crown Bouquet.  I look around and see that all the flowering trees that were bare last week have already bloomed – and the blooms are already fading!  That was fast.  I’m guessing our wacky weather had a hand in that: it was cold, it was cold, it was cold, it was cold, and then suddenly it was HOT, and we never got the gradual warming that we usually do.

Thursday,  Apr. 8: 70 degrees and rain; this is April weather I’m accustomed to.  SOTM: sampling Chanel Bel Respiro.  I find it pretty and comfortable, for the short time that it lasts.   SOTE: Le Temps d’une Fete, which is a Can’t Miss Scent for me – it always just makes me happy. 

For dinner: Zuppe di Pasta e’ Fagioli, which is my made-up version of chicken noodle soup with tomatoes, garlic, Italian herbs, and white beans.  Probably totally inauthentic Italian (as far as I can tell, real Italians don’t put chunks of chicken in their pasta e’ fagioli, or a lot of broth), but yummy stuff anyway.  I like the small pasta shells in it, but ditalini or those whatchamacallems, the little ruffly ones, work well too.  Not, you know, noodles as in your average chicken noodle: I mean pasta, bite-size but substantial, with some heft to go along with the basically rustic-peasant feel of the rest of the ingredients.

Friday, Apr. 9: Mid-60’s today, with clouds.  SOTD: Chanel No. 19 in vtg edt.   Somehow No. 19, for all its Invisible Armor qualities, manages to be comfortable and attractive as well as protective.  I don’t know how, but it works.  In the afternoon, my small decant of Guerlain Vega arrived (yay, aldehydes!).  Not sure what I think about the experience in toto yet; need to retest.  It’s something like Guerlain-does-No.5, with Guerlain vanilla and sandalwood instead of that elegant Chanel iris-sandalwood-musk, but something about the drydown was not pleasant.  However, I still had the dregs of No. 19* on my inner forearms, with Vega on the outside of my wrist, so perhaps it’s that Guerlain and Chanel weren’t playing nicely together. 

*Man, that stuff lasts… I could still smell it 12 hours after a one-spritz application. That’s one more reason why the vintage is worth seeking out – the modern edt only lasts maybe 2-3 hours, on me anyway.

Saturday, Apr. 10:  Relatively chilly today, compared to earlier in the week: in the 50’s.  No scent today – I cleaned the house and then did something to my hair, so by the time I had my shower I didn’t really want anything on.  Don’t worry, I’m not sick or anything…

Sunday, Apr. 11:  Back to the customary April temps, at 75 F, nice weather for the spring concert for my community chorus.  I’m supposed to stay unscented for these things, but I forgot and put on Diorissimo for church.  According to an informal poll of other sopranos, though, no one was bothered by it.  The woman who stands next to me was wearing Dune, and she smelled great.  I’ve never worn Dune, because my (territorial) sister wore it for several years before moving on to Coco Mlle., which as I’ve mentioned before, really smells gorgeous on her. 

Monday, Apr. 12:  Another day in the low 70’s.  My coworker made toast this morning, and I’ve been smelling that all day.  Toast smells gooood.  I was rushed, and I have another concert tonight (same program, different venue), so I grabbed the Mariella Burani

Tuesday, Apr. 13:  I’m way behind on my sampling, and people are so kind to send me more things in swaps that I’ve begun to have nightmares about opening a closet door and getting buried in sample vials… Eek.  I must get back to sampling again. 

But had no chance to sample today.  This evening, my sister and I took our mother to a performance of Riverdance, as her birthday gift.  It got me to thinking about family origins.  We’re largely of Irish descent, with dollops of English,  Scottish, German, Welsh, and the occasional Cherokee thrown in: what I like to, in semi-jest, call Standard Colonial Mix.  The CEO and I have been having an ongoing discussion on the matter – he thinks it’s silly that I even mention the Cherokee, when it’s five generations back.  (The lone Welshwoman, on my dad’s side, was also five generations back.)  My retort is that he’s about as much Scottish as I am Cherokee or Welsh; the only reason he thinks he’s Scottish is that the ancestor whose surname he bears came from Scotland, five generations back, and since then his family tree has included English and German names but no more Scots.  Edit: I did a bit of quick research, and it turns out that at least two of the family names on his tree, Meek and Adair, could be either English or Scots. So until someone does some hard research on the particular Meeks and Adairs in question, there goes my argument.

Luckily for me, I can wear Chanel even if there’s no French – so far as we know, anyway – in my ancestry.  I wore No. 5, in honor of my mom.  (For that review, and an homage to my mother, see here.)

Photo of my actual bottle of vintage No. 19 courtesy of


Perfume Review: Juliet Has a Gun Citizen Queen

Perfumer: Francis Kurkdjian
Release date: 2008
Sample provenance: my own decant of CQ, thanks to a swap last spring with Queen Enabler Daisy.
Notes: Aldehydes, violet, rose, iris, leather, amber, immortelle, labdanum. The violet isn’t official, by the way, but I smell it.

Daisy had sent me a sample of this, saying she’d picked up a partial bottle at the scent-splits wiki page and had a bit to swap, and since I liked rose, what did I think?  As was my custom in those days, before I learned better, I dabbed on a bit from the sample vial just before heading into work.


Fifteen minutes into the ride, I’m sitting at my desk amid the brake rotors, hoping nobody has noticed my blushes.  This thing is seriously sex-aaay, and not at all the sort of scent one wears to crunch numbers on an adding machine.  I couldn’t bring myself to scrub it off, or even to damp it down a little, because it was so pretty.  Instead, I just sort of hid from my coworkers for the rest of the morning (doable because generally they keep me in the back, like some sort of backordered inventory item).

When I got home, I went straight to the computer to see if I could find my own bottle, or a decant if a bottle was out of my league.  It was. JhaG fragrances are available at (not affiliated) in the US, and a 100ml bottle runs about $110, which is too rich for my blood, frugal fumehead that I am.  Bottle’s ugly, too, IMO – looks like an upscale shower gel, although it comes in a pretty sueded case like a tiny hatbox. So I hunted up a decant, which was good, because at that point I’d probably have sold my soul   hair  left eye to get some of this stuff if I couldn’t find it any other way.

I was not, at the time, versed in the details surrounding the fragrance company Juliet Has a Gun, and I’m only a bit more familiar with it now.  It was formed in 2006 by Romano Ricci, grandson of Nina Ricci (famous for L’Air du Temps, and still producing fragrance to this day, even if some of them are fruitchoulis).  The name of the company was a play on Signor Ricci’s first name, a variation of Romeo, as well as a declaration of “edgy, modern style.”  Citizen Queen was their third scent, following the straight-up-rose Miss Charming and the rose chypre Lady Vengeance.  Since then, JHaG has produced Midnight Oud (a rose-oud scent) and Calamity J. The only other JHaG I’ve smelled is Midnight Oud, which is quite nice if you like that sort of thing, as I do; it’s a sort of Montale Aoud Roses Petals with training wheels, if you will.  I’m not sure JHaG is all that “edgy” and “modern,” but their scents are generally regarded as being very attractive and wearable, and not your average Mall Candy.

And the name Citizen Queen?  The website doesn’t say, exactly, so I’ll take a stab at what I think it means: 

A long time ago, there was this country called “France.” The poor people who lived there were sick of the rich people taking all their food and money and letting them starve in the streets, while the rich people had big parties and fancy clothes and gold out the wazoo. So the poor people had a revolution and everybody came, and the way they got rid of the rich people, who weren’t very happy about the whole thing, was to cut their heads off. Then the poor people of France who had had their Revolution did something new with the Government, and nobody had special titles like “Earl” and “Baron” and “Comtesse” anymore. Everybody was Citoyen Gaspard and Citoyenne Fontanelle: Citizen This and Citizeness That. If there had been a queen at that point, she’d have been renamed Citoyenne Bourbon. But of course there wasn’t a queen, since she’d already had her head cut off.

So the implication of Citizen Queen is that anywoman/everywoman is a queen. Which, although totally corny, is still sort of Empowerment Cool, IMO.  Then, too, it sounds to me like JHaG is playing off the name of the classic Orson Welles movie Citizen Kane.  To be honest with you, I don’t much care what it’s called, because it’s a wonderful smell.

No, I didn’t take any classes in French history.  I don’t even speak French.  (Worse, my Spanish is getting really rusty, because there’s no one to practice on in the middle of the freakin’ mountain rural South. End non sequitur.) We can lay the blame for my esoteric knowledge squarely on all those historical novels I’ve read way too many of.

I notice that this is one of those fragrances that smells different wafting through the air than it does sniffed directly next to skin.  I love the waft on CQ – although it doesn’t go very far, unlike the Very Frightening Guerlain Insolence, the air is fairly saturated with it within my  officially-sanctioned three-foot sillage radius.  

So what does Citizen Queen smell like?  Well, it does start out with a very light, fizzy dusting of aldehydes; they go by so quickly that if you weren’t paying close attention you might miss them.  I frequently overlook them here and wouldn’t call this an aldehydic floral at all.  (In fact, calls this a floral chypre, to which I say, GET. OUT. NO. WAY.)  This whiff-of-quinine-water is gone within two minutes, and then I smell a lot of violet.  Violet is not in the official list of notes, but it’s there, trust me, a nice sweet, fresh posy of Parma violets followed by one of those winey-woody rose notes that I love so much. I do not actually smell anything that I could identify as leather; instead, I smell warm skin.  It’s not sweaty, it’s just a warm, friendly, I-just-rolled-out-of-bed skin smell.  Could be a musk, I guess.  I do smell quite a bit of iris, and it tends toward the powdery here.  However, the creamy depth of labdanum (gosh, I love labdanum) keeps it from turning into Granny’s scented powder.  I haven’t a clue what immortelle smells like, and there’s nothing in CQ that makes me think of maple syrup, as immortelle is reputed to smell of, so I don’t think it’s is a large portion of the composition.

Up close I smell more iris and more powdery amber than I smell in the waft, which is more rose-violet-skin musk.  It smells rather naughty to me, although I must admit to you that when I refer to this effect on a forum somewhere, most other sniffers offer gentle demurrals.  In short, they think I’m nuts and are too polite to say so.  Of course, Your Mileage May Vary.

Citizen Queen has become my default Get Some Action scent.  (TMI? Sorry.  Don’t worry, I’m a respectable middle-aged married lady, and that’s all the detail you’re gonna get.)  The CEO seems to like it, but that’s really beside the point.  It puts me in the mood.  One of these days, I’m gonna be a little old crazy lady chasing my husband around the nursing home in our wheelchairs.  One of us will be radiating Citizen Queen, and the other of us will be giggling like mad and pretending to wheel away.  Won’t that be fun?                  

Review Report: I Smell Therefore I AmFragrance Bouquet,, Feminine Things, The Scented Salamander.