The Five-Stars, Pt. 2 – According To Me

61_1_blue-ribbon-perfect-logoOkay, my turn to give out the Best in Show blue ribbons.

It’s almost a guarantee that I’ll leave something out. It’s just going to happen; I already know it’s going to happen. Oh well. But here goes.

I do have some overlap with the P:TG five-stars. There are a few on my list that received short shrift from the Guide authors. Some weren’t reviewed at all; they were not in production at the time of writing (either discontinued, or not yet released), or they were available only from indie perfumers and not widely available.

I’ll point out here that “best” does not necessarily mean “favorite.” I’ve commented before that I can find something admirable without really loving it. Conversely, I can love something all to little-bitty pieces without needing to say it’s the best evarrr.  My favorite Beatles song, for example, is and will always be “Here Comes the Sun,” but I wouldn’t say it was the best musically. Or lyrically. Or most representative, most distinctive, most necessary to the history of Western music. In fact, I could make a pretty good case that the best-of-the-Beatles wouldn’t include it. I’ll try to keep those strictly-personal favorites off the list.

What’s on the list will be fragrances I think are distinctive, have a defined character, have endured, are classics, and can transport the wearer. Feel free to argue that I left something off, or included something unworthy… it’s my list, not THE list. 🙂 Items in red were not given five stars in P:TG, just by me.

Chanel No. 5 parfum and eau de toilette – like the Parthenon in a shade of creamy gold, amazing stuff, proportions just right. The EdP has something in it that raises my hackles; don’t know what it is but I wind up scrubbing an hour in, every time I try it.

Chanel No. 19 – forget that “wire mother” nonsense and see 19 for the Amazonian earth-witch that she is. Plenty of backbone, yes – lack of heart, no.

Dior Eau Sauvage – Remington Steele in a bottle. ‘Nuff said.

Éditions de Parfums Frédéric Malle Carnal Flower – Robbed of a deserved star in The Guide, IMO. I suspect that someone felt it’s too copycat or perhaps not groundbreaking enough, or isn’t as good as Fracas. Bosh, I say. Fracas is amazing, and so is Carnal Flower, in a lastingly-fresh and green vein rather than the boudoiresque Fracas. It has plenty of personality and lasts for hours.

Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel – Jimmy Stewart in a bottle, ’nuff said.

Guerlain Apres l’Ondee – Impressionist perfection in periwinkle, blue and lavender shades. There’s nothing else like it.

Guerlain Chamade – like falling in love with someone you hardly noticed when you first met.

Guerlain L’Heure Bleue – One of a handful of classic Guerlain masterpieces I don’t personally love.

Guerlain Mitsouko – an autumn symphony. Another Guerlain masterpiece I don’t love.

Guerlain Shalimar – see L’Heure Bleue and Mitsouko.

Jean Patou Joy parfum – if No. 5 is the Parthenon, Joy is the beautiful woman who just completed a tryst with her lover inside it. Raunchy, but gorgeous.

Neela Vermeire Trayee – All three of the first releases from Neela Vermeire (which came into existence in 2011) are wonderful, striking, and distinctive, but Trayee is as mesmerizing as staring at a burning candle.

Parfums de Nicolaï Odalisque – that elusive thing, an irisy floral chypre that doesn’t seem bent on slipping a shiv between your ribs.

Parfums MDCI Enlèvement au Sérail – see Joy.

Parfums MDCI Promesse de l’Aube – as lovely as the dawn in its name.

Parfums MDCI Rose de Siwa – a straight-up rose/peony bouquet that despite its lack of originality, smells so gorgeous and perfect and enticing that it makes people sigh in sheer happiness. (Suck it, rose haters. Go peddle your “but it smells like a bouquet!” elsewhere, we’re all full up on delight here.)

Robert Piguet Fracas – Fracas is the queen, no doubt about it.

Serge Lutens La Myrrhe – Unmistakable, solid, and glorious. The only Serge that seems to get out of its own way and simply exist in beauty without worrying about its artsy quotient.

Tauer Perfumes L’Air du Désert Marocain – nice. Distinctive, unlike anything else. Doesn’t move me, but it’s great.

Teo Cabanel Alahine – A floral amber of great personality and enough complexity to keep you paying attention to it, while also being comfortable and lovely. (Teo Cabanel started production in 2007, which might have kept it out of The Guide.)

Tommy Hilfiger Tommy Girl – yeah, yeah, stop complaining about it already. It’s good. It’s absolutely identifiable, and it’s never inappropriate.

I’m going to cheat and add a few fragrances that are no longer in production.

Gucci L’Arte di Gucci – the diva rose chypre in mink, carrying an absolute armful of deep pink roses (Pink Traviata hybrid tea, if I’m being specific to color) and sweeping through the room irrespective of other people in it. Seriously, this thing is Kathleen Battle – definitely temperamental, with a dark streak in her mood, but so gorgeous in the high notes that you almost don’t care. Discontinued sometime in 2006 or -07.

Jacomo Silences – cool, smooth and introspective. Silver-green, blue-purple, rose-pink, and moss-green, the most meditative non-incense fragrance I’ve run across. My preference is for the older parfum de toilette, which is more strongly floral than the most recent eau de toilette version, which is drier and more focused on vetiver, iris and moss. It’s a wishing well in a forest glade, a pair of swans gliding across a glassy lake. Rereleased as Silences Eau de Parfum Sublime in 2013 (nice stuff, smells like it could have been chosen as a No. 19 flanker), and then the original was axed in 2015. Shame.

Jean Patou Vacances – Gorgeous springy green with lilac and hyacinth, as green as it is floral, utterly tender and delicate. Nothing has ever matched it (except maybe Apres l’Ondee). I never smelled the original, only the Ma Collection version released in the 1980s, which was perfect. Reworked into a perfectly nice, dull, lilac-floral-musk in 2015.

Soivohle Centennial – The entire catalog at Soivohle has been revamped in the past year, and this gorgeous recreation of a classic floral chypre disappeared. If Mitsouko was a “perfected Chypre,” this is perfected Mitsouko – no floor wax, no moldy peach, no stabby fingernails, but a seamless and beautiful floral with plenty of backbone and plenty of resinous depth.

Parfums de Nicolaï Le Temps d’une Fete – It was in production during the writing of The Guide. The bottle I bought in 2012, after draining a 1-ounce bottle of the 2007 version, was thinner and more weighted towards the pretty florals, away from the woody-mossy base. Then PdN announced that it would only be available upon request, and I snapped up another bottle of it via Luckyscent, only to find that it had been thinned still further. This version still smells like Le Temps d’une Fete, but wears like an eau fraiche. The original was amazing and gorgeous, unlike anything else. I contacted PdN by email in November of 2015 and asked if this scent was available for purchase, but was told that it had been discontinued. I could have cried.

Ralph Lauren Safari for Women – apparently this went out of production, and then came back in. The current version is thinner, less mossy-ambery and lasts less long, but I think it’s still good; the older version is five stars for sure. This is the warmest green I know, and one of the few commercial fragrances that smells like hay drying in the field, as opposed to earthy, fermented hay in a barn. It’s drying grass, polished wood, and an unsweetened vanilla (well, okay, and a bunch of other things including marigold, rose and jasmine, and moss), and manages to be formal and elegant while staying unfussy, like a pristine white tablecloth.

What overlooked marvel would make your five-star list?

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Scent Diary, Feb. 8-14, 2016

snowflake closeup
Photo by Alexey Kljatov, via Flickr Creative Commons

Monday, Feb. 8 – Cold! I headed out to the grocery store, and on the half-mile drive from the house to the main road, I came across Taz, who had ridden the bus home instead of staying for indoor track practice, because he won’t be going to the conference meet.

This past Friday, Gaze qualified for the conference meet in the 3200M, with a new PR. Unfortunately, he had to skip All-District Band to attend the meet. We didn’t realize until a few days before that the two conflicted; the band director, when he mentioned Districts, used the phrase “the first weekend of February,” and in the past, this two-day clinic and concert event has been held on Saturday and Sunday. This year, however, its location was moved and the dates moved to Friday and Saturday (possibly to avoid a conflict with the Super Bowl on Sunday?) – so no Districts for Gaze. I suppose he can still put on his resume that he was selected for this honor by audition, but he missed out on the learning experience. I’m very glad the meet turned out well for him.

Scent of the Day, in accordance with the weekly challenge at Now Smell This, was the lovely Guerlain Apres l’Ondee. The theme for Friday was announced as “wear a fragrance rated as five stars in Perfumes: The Guide,” and several regular commenters at NST including myself decided to make it a five-star week. Apres l’Ondee is a silk scarf in watercolors of blue, periwinkle and violet, as soft-edged as any Debussy étude or Impressionist painting, with which the scent is contemporary. I had to reapply at least twice for all-day wear, because this soft dewy thing of violets, iris, and heliotrope wears very delicately.

It began to snow and sleet (sneet?) in the evening, and it took The CEO about an hour to get home from Blacksburg, twice as long as normal.

Tuesday, Feb. 9 – Snow day, and The CEO does not teach any Tuesday classes this semester, so everyone was home today. The snow is only about two inches deep on the grass, and none of the roads in my immediate area are covered, but there are pockets in the school district which are difficult for buses to traverse in poor weather.

We built a fire and watched “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.” Ate Mexican for supper. I worked on revising The Long Road Home – which needs a new title, in fact, since its focus has changed a great deal in revision.

Photo by Len Langevin, via Flickr Creative Commons
Photo by Len Langevin, via Flickr Creative Commons

Scent of the day, in keeping with Five Star Week, is the only Serge Lutens I really adore – La Myrrhe. It always reminds me of a pink-and-gold sunrise on blue-shadowed snow.

Wednesday, Feb. 10 – Quite cold, with temperatures in the low 20s F. These past couple of weeks have been reminding me of my childhood winters in the 1970s! School was two hours late, but Gaze has started going to rowing practice early in the mornings. Taz, who ditched band for drama this year, and I discussed “Little Shop of Horrors,” which he’s never seen, and I’ve promised to rent it for him sometime so we can watch it together. I think his sense of humor would appreciate this show.

I worked on revision again. The scent of the day was once again a P:TG 5-star, Parfums de Nicolaï Le Temps d’une Fête. (Oh, hey, and how about my attempt to use the diacriticals for once?) I love, love, love LTdF. If I absolutely had to choose only one scent to live my life in, I’d be happy in it.

Also wore a dab of Dame Perfumery Narcissus (soliflore) along with it, and they played very nicely together. I only have samples of two of this six soliflore series, but am wishing for all of them. I also wish for samples of all of the Eric Buterbaugh scents, having sampled only the Apollo Hyacinth (which is gorgeous, very green, very long-lasting), but that ain’t gonna happen. The Buterbaugh scents are easily a dozen times the cost of the Dame Perfumery soliflore counterparts.

Thursday, Feb. 11 – Cold and blowing snow this morning; school was delayed two hours. But there’s a MACC (academic team) match this evening anyway.

I struggled to choose a scent for the day, having several options – even if several of them are only in sample size. I finally decided on 31 Rue Cambon, and it was lovely. I reapplied once, and then later at bedtime decided that I wanted to sleep in L’Arte di Gucci. I do wonder what rating it might have gotten in P:TG. LT blasts every rose chypre he reviews in it, calling them all “thin.” Estee Lauder Knowing, reviewed by TS, gets 5 stars and a comment that other rose chypres overdo the rose, while Knowing “just lets the rose peek out” of the greenery. I think that’s a personal preference thing – I like ROSE in my rose chypre, thanks very much. (Mind you, I think Knowing is excellent and would wear it if it didn’t do that Blasted Horrible Nauseating Lauder Base Thing.)

The more I get into researching self-publishing, the more I realize that it isn’t the same as the old vanity press idea. With ebooks, a self-pubbed author can actually get paid. I’m not giving up on traditional publishing, not yet, but independent publishing is seeming like more of an option for me at this point. It’s heartening. Sure, there are still a lot of really crappy self-published books out there (I’ve read at least a few), but I’ve read some good ones, too. The Martian – yes, the book that was made into a movie starring Matt Damon – was originally self-published, and it’s excellent.

The Social Studies MACC team won, 80-30, and both Gaze (team captain) and Taz did well. I’m proud of them.

Friday, Feb. 12 – Still cold. BRRRRR. Snowflake the lamb’s new Favorite Thing is to leap around in the laundry room, banging into things and knocking the laundry sorter around on its wheels. He’s pretty funny. Getting bigger, too. We’re supposed to keep having cold weather for the next few days, but after that he may go back to the rest of the flock, to catch-as-catch-can milk from all the other sheep mamas.

SOTD wound up being Chamade. Glorious Chamade – there’s nothing like that lovely drydown. I got whiffs of it hours and hours after it should have been long gone.

Saturday, Feb. 13 – The CEO went to the conference indoor track meet with the boys. Gaze was running the 4 x 800m and the 3200m and Taz was an alternate (just in case one of the relay team broke a toe or something). The relay team finished 3rd, and Gaze finished 5th in the 2 mile, so he’ll get to go on to the regional meet. The high school’s boys’ team came in a close second, and the girls’ team won the championship! Big congrats to Coach Sirak, who along with Coach Day has done a wonderful job of training and motivating these kids.

I revised. WHY IS IT SO HARRRRRD IT IS SO HARDDD. (That should teach me not to write so much crap next time…)

SOTD was Safari. Again. I’m not sorry.

Sunday, Feb. 14 – happy birthday to my favorite favorite brother! Best Valentine I ever got. I started out the day in No. 5 Eau Premiere, but started craving Soivohle Centennial‘s fuzzy warm florals, so I put that one in the afternoon.

Brrrr, in the low teens today. The CEO has a fire going. This weather reminds me of what winter was like when I was a kid in the ’70s! I sort of love it. Gaze is miserable – and my poor sister in Texas, comfortable in 70F weather and wishing it were cold enough for sweaters, would trade places with him in a heartbeat.

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The Five-Stars, Pt. 1 – According to Perfumes: The Guide

Five stars - CopyThe Friday challenge at Now Smell This this week was to wear a fragrance rated five stars in Perfumes: The Guide. Some readers, including me, made it a five-star week, and in fact I’m going to continue wearing one five-star scent for as long as it’s still fun. We’ll see how long I can keep going before I want something else.

Part One of this series is the list of five-star fragrances according to Perfumes: The Guide.  Part Two will be the list according to me. Five-star fragrances are described in P:TG as “masterpieces.” From my reading, additional criteria seem to involve things like distinctiveness, coherence, consistency, decent raw materials, and possibly innovation.

I won’t get into critique of the book that had the perfume blogs buzzing, or of the criteria used by authors Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez, though I would recommend that everyone who’s interested in perfume at least read it. Today I’d like to talk about the fragrances instead.

However, I will point out that even though the authors undoubtedly have a wealth of knowledge and understanding of the industry as well as of the heart of perfumery, they’ve got their own personal biases. So do I. So does everyone with a nose, so if you disagree with anyone on perfume, take their judgment with a grain of salt. Your own judgment is what matters most.

Tania Sanchez addresses the preference issue head-on when she says, “… one can certainly admire a perfume without necessarily loving it. Love, of course, is personal (but best when deserved).” She hits the issue from the side when answering FAQs, in this fashion:

Q: Why has Amarige got only one star, when it is in a top ten list in the back?
A: Amarige is a genius work of perfumery, utterly recognizable, memorable, technically polished, and spectacularly loud. But we hate it. In the end, we figured this was the fair thing to do.

Well, okay then. There you go, bias is acknowledged so you are allowed to disagree.

Here is the Perfumes: The Guide’s list of five-star fragrances (in alphabetical order by house, not by perfume name), and what I think of each one of them. If there is no description, I have not smelled the fragrance.

Amouage Gold Wearing this is like walking into a football stadium or some other giant enclosed space, albeit in the case of Gold, the AstroDome ceiling has been gilded and carved into rococo shapes. Enormous, colossal, too big for any one person to wear. (The body lotion, however, is wonderful.) Four stars.
Amouage Homage (now d/c)
Amouage Ubar I own a 5ml decant of this and am always forgetting I have it. It reminds me of my small bottle of Lancôme La Collection Climat, and of Parfums Divine Divine: creamy civet lemonade. Nice, but there are other fragrances I love better, and other Amouages I prefer. Four stars.
L’Artisan Parfumeur Dzing! Yep, virtual circus. Fun, but who really wants to smell of stale orange circus-peanut marshmallow candy, sawdust, and tiger pee? Three stars.
L’Artisan Timbuktu
L’Artisan Vanilia (now d/c)
Azzaro pour Homme Instant headache. So. Much. Lavender. Two stars.
Badgley Mischka Fruity chypres never suit me. They always seem curdled; I always get nauseous. Two stars.
Bond No. 9 Chinatown Fruity chypre/oriental. See “Badgley Mischka.” Two stars.
Boucheron Boucheron Pleasant, but muted. Basically floral soap with very sharp edges. Described by LT as “huge floral,” but he’s wrong. Three stars.
Bvlgari Black I like Black. I do. It smells mostly of new sneakers, or new bike tires, plus a powdery vanilla that reminds me of flavored coffee-creamer powder. That’s fun. Genius? Nope. Four stars.
Cacharel LouLou For once I’m in total agreement with LT’s description of it as having a texture like those glass Christmas-tree baubles that look like velvet and feel like sandpaper. We just differ in our enjoyment of that texture. Also, this sucker is really loud. I lived through the 1980s; I don’t necessarily want to revisit them. Two stars.
Caldey Island Lavender
Caron Pour un Homme
Caron Le Troisième Homme This is a floral (jasmine) fougére. Not my thing, and actually I find it sort of creepy. Three stars.
Caron Yatagan
Chanel 31 Rue Cambon For full disclosure, TS gave it four stars and I’m with her on that. It’s lovely, I enjoy wearing it, but I don’t think it’s groundbreaking or classic. I’ve gone through a 10ml decant (of which the last ml was unwearable, after six years), but to be perfectly honest, I could probably get by with just my Téo Cabanel Alahine for a floral amber.
Chanel Bois des Iles Lovely, lovely stuff. I first tried it from a sample of pre-Les Exclusifs eau de toilette, and it lasted at least four hours, dabbed. The Les Exclusifs version lasts about two hours on me, sprayed-until-wet. The parfum lasts better but hovers only two millimeters above skin. I’m taking half a star off the P:TG rating because of the longevity and sillage issues.
Chanel Cristalle Citrus chypres are not my thing, but in any case Eau Sauvage kicks this thing’s butt all over. Four stars.
Chanel Cuir de Russie As I’ve commented before, smells like our cattle working pens: live hides, dust, iodine, dry manure, sweat and fear. Just no. Two stars.
Chanel No. 5 eau de toilette Absolutely. The Guide nailed it.
Chanel No. 5 parfum Ditto.
Chanel Pour Monsieur
Chanel Sycomore
Clinique Aromatics Elixir As I’ve commented before, AE smells like somebody took a wiz all over a rose hedge. On paper, two days later, it’s absolutely wonderful; too bad I can’t skip that opening. Great stuff, unwearable by me, and a real bludgeoner into the bargain. Three stars.
Clinique (formerly Prescriptives) Calyx (now reformulated) I can’t manage the opening, which smells like overripe, rotting fruit. Once it’s past that stuff, it’s a wonderful sweet juicy floral with good intentions. Four stars.
Davidoff Cool Water This is the men’s version. Groundbreaking and all that, sure, but I think it smells a bit bare and chemical. Four stars.
Dior Diorella Fruity chypre. See “Badgley Mischka” and “Chinatown.” Two stars.
Dior Homme (now reformulated) Nice stuff. I don’t love it, but I think I may have tested the current version, which seems thin to me. Four stars.
Dior Dune Like a lot of powdery vanillas, it sits there on my skin being boring and flat. On my SIL, it’s great, warm, cozy. Four stars.
Dior Eau Sauvage This is what Cristalle wants to be when it gives up merely pretending to be nice and trims those lethal fingernails. Five stars.
Dior Poison (now reformulated) Man, I used to hate this thing back in the day. Dorm halls reeked of it. So did the university buses. Now that it’s been tamed and everybody isn’t wearing six spritzes too many, I rather like it. It has, however, lost its poisonous edge and they’ve upped the orange blossom in it so that it’s almost soapy. Four stars, unless you’ve got the old, soft, esprit de parfum concentration, in which case it gets five.
Elternhaus Unifaith (MoslBuddJewChristHinDao)
Estée Lauder Azurée Gin with lemon, driving gloves, a full ashtray, pointy fingernails and a steely gaze. Scary. Three stars.
Estée Lauder Beyond Paradise Two hours of lovely flowers, becoming barer and shriller after that thanks to whatever jasminoid aromachem. Like all the other classic Lauders, has something in the base that turns my stomach after a couple of hours. One of my aunts wears this, and she always smells lovely; I think it’s my skin. Three stars.
Estée Lauder Beyond Paradise Men
Estée Lauder Knowing Gives me the same nausea issue as the others, but it’s probably my favorite from this house. I love a nice rose chypre and wish I could wear Knowing as well as another one of my aunts does. Four stars.
Estée Lauder Pleasures Pale flowers and laundry musk. It might be the first and best of this kind of squeaky-clean thing, but leaving aside the usual Lauder base, this might be one of the most boring things I’ve ever smelled. Three stars.
Estée Lauder Private Collection I so wish I could wear this; green florals are right up my alley. Alas, the Dreaded Lauder Base pops through at T-2 hours. Four stars anyway.
Estée Lauder White Linen I like aldehydes, but White Linen has always smelled sour and vinegary too me. My private name for it is “Mildewed Laundry.” Three stars.
État Libre d’Orange Sécrétions Magnifique In The Little Book of Perfumes, which wound up being largely a stageshow revue of the five-stars in P:TG (plus reviews of four classic fragrances you can only smell at the Osmothéque in Paris), TS admits that she disagrees on SM and describes it as “absolutely revolting, like a drop of J’Adore on an oyster you know you shouldn’t eat.” Bang on, lady. It’s horrifying. One star.
Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel Classic, conservative, reassuring, absolutely masculine. Five stars.
Givenchy III I agree with LT that it smells like dirt under the flowers. We just disagree on how appealing that should be. Three stars.
Givenchy Insensé (now d/c)
Gucci Envy (now d/c) Metallic enough to make my back teeth hurt. Two stars. Yeowch.
Gucci Rush
Guerlain Après l’Ondée (recently reformulated) Impressionist perfection, at least in the version available in the mid-2000s. Now it’s more irisy and colder, less wistful with its heliotrope toned way down. I’d give it four stars now, but the older stuff is amazing and absolutely deserved its five stars.
Guerlain Chamade The epitome of romantic surrender, starting cold-shouldery as it does in galbanum and hyacinth and aldehydes, moving through rose, jasmine and other assorted flowers, and then gradually melting into a powdery-creamy mimosa-vanilla-woods comforter. Five stars.
Guerlain Derby
Guerlain Eau de Guerlain
Guerlain Habit Rouge
Guerlain L’Heure Bleue The EdT is Hell’s Medicine Cabinet. The parfum is medicinal pastry, but in a really good way. Five stars.
Guerlain Insolence eau de parfum Horrifying shrieky attack parrot with knives attached to its beak and feet. One star.
Guerlain Jicky Lavender and bad breath. Two stars for being groundbreaking and influential, zero for smelling good.
Guerlain Mitsouko Mitsy hates me. It took me over twenty tries to really “get” Mitsouko. I tried current EdT, I tried EdP, I tried vintage EdT, I tried vintage parfum, I tried current parfum. I tried different times of year and different weathers. Finally I tried some parfum from the early 1990s, and then I got it: round, full, autumnal, tapestried. I still don’t love it the way I love the vintage Coty Chypre parfum I tried – Chypre made me cry tears of overwhelmed happiness – but Mitsy is a force to be reckoned with. Five stars.
Guerlain Nahéma I have trouble smelling Nahema. The first time I tried it, I could tell there was something on my skin but could not smell it. The second and third time, all I really got was scented soap. I feel cheated, but there it is. I can’t give something this inane five stars; I’ll go with two. Word is this one’s discontinued anyway.
Guerlain Shalimar Lemon-vanilla-tar-and-sex. Utterly distinctive; in all its variations it’s always Shalimar and it’s always far too sophisticated for me. A marvel of perfumery. Five stars.
Guerlain Vol de Nuit I don’t understand this scent at all. If I look at the notes, I should like it if not love it: galbanum, jasmine, narcissus, moss and woody notes. On paper it sounds like my beloved Le Temps d’une Fete. I’ve gotten two different samples from the decant services (both edt, both relatively recent), and they smell like… nothing. Musty nothing. As if I opened the trunk that belonged to my great-great aunt and a moth flew out of it. I can’t be smelling what everyone else smells. One star.
Hermés Osmanthe Yunnan Gorgeous apricot-tea floral that lasts all of 2.4 seconds on me. How can they charge $200+ for this? Three stars.
Histoires de Parfums 1740 Marquis de Sade (now reformulated)
Issey Miyake Le Feu d’Issey (now d/c)
Jean Patou Joy parfum Heh heh heh. This thing is raunch in overdrive on me – amazing, alive, and thoroughly unashamed to be walking home the morning after, with hair bedraggled and makeup smeared, missing her panties. I can’t wear it, but it’s a five star if anything is.
Kenzo Ça Sent Beau “Beau” as in beautiful? No. This struck me as being like Calyx for Dudes. The melon-mango-flower-shaving cream thing is just Too Weird. Three stars.
Knize Ten
Le Labo Patchouli 24 (now reformulated) Smells like the 150-year-old stone smokehouse behind my grandparents’ house, which produced many a Virginia ham in its day. Fascinating, but who wants to smell like that? Three stars.
Lolita Lempicka I resisted trying this one for ages, as I’d read that it was a takeoff on Angel. It’s only tangentially related, and LL is both interesting and really pretty. Four stars.
Lush (formerly Be Never Too Busy to Be Beautiful) Breath of God
Missoni Missoni Off-putting, like a soft chocolate with an incompatible flavor center (lemon? Kiwi? Mango?) Two stars.
Montale Oud Cuir d’Arabie
Ormonde Jayne Ormonde Man
Ormonde Jayne Ormonde Woman Wonderfully coniferous for three minutes, violet for one, and then amberamberamberamber. Dull and considerably overrated. Two stars.
Paco Rabanne Calandre (now reformulated) I was taken aback by TS’s “wire mother” review of Chanel No. 19, particularly because this hissy, metallic, narrow-eyed parody of femininity should have gotten that review instead. Three stars.
Parfums de Nicolaï New York
Parfums de Nicolaï Odalisque (now reformulated) Doesn’t move me, but is really wonderful. Delicate yet strong in nature. Okay, fine, I’ll call it five.
Parfums de Nicolaï Le Temps d’une Fête (reformulated twice and now d/c*) If you held a gun on me and told me to choose one bottle, just one, of all the ones in existence in the world, I’d pick this one. Magical. Eight stars. 😉
*For a time, you could special-order it through the PdN website. However, when I emailed PdN in November to ask about it, I was told it was not available. I have backup bottles, but I mourn.
Parfums MDCI Enlèvement au Sérail Reminds me of Joy. Different flowers, same raunch, same aliveness. Still unwearably skanky for me personally. But given my reaction, how can I give it fewer stars than Joy? Five.
Parfums MDCI Invasion Barbare
Parfums MDCI Promesse de l’Aube Absolutely gorgeous. As innocent as Enlevement is carnal and just as florally overwhelming. Five stars.
Pascal Morabito Or Black
Robert Piguet Bandit How can I give this perfume that always rushes at me with a scimitar five stars? (shudder) Sure, it’s got galbanum. Sure, it’s amazing and influential and all gender-bendy kewl, but I hate it. I can’t wear it. Four stars, and that’s because I’m allowing for history.
Robert Piguet Fracas Everybody always says Fracas is The Quintessential Tuberose scent, but that’s not so. However, you can make a case for it being The Quintessential Big White Floral, because of that metric crap-ton of orange blossom in there. Basically, on me it smells like tuberose cold cream, and wearing it is like whacking a guy you fancy over the head with the heel of your marabou kitten-heel slipper and dragging him into your boudoir to have your way with him, once he wakes up all disoriented by your cloud of scent. Five stars.
Rochas Tocade (now reformulated) I liked Tocade at first. I used up a good 30 ml of it when I first bought the bottle, because it was awfully friendly. Then That Slut Tocade started hanging out with the smokers, and every time she came home her bottle smelled like ashtray. Maybe this fragrance doesn’t age well, but whatever. I’ve gone right off her and am ready to kick her out of the sorority. Three stars.
S-Perfumes 100% Love Hissy, screechy geranium-y rose backed by pungent patchouli and dusty chocolate-milk mix. Dear God, kill me now. One star.
S-Perfume S-eX
Serge Lutens Bois de Violette Nice. Faint and timid version of Feminité de Bois. Way overrated. (And I even like violets.) Three stars.
Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist Reportedly the earthiest, driest, rootiest, most pallid and ethereal iris evarrrrr. I don’t know why it makes me think of pigtailed little girls with freckles playing hopscotch. I find it cheerful. Four stars.
Serge Lutens La Myrrhe Like a pink-and-gold sunrise over blue-shadowed snow. Pristine, cold yet warm. Astonishingly beautiful. Five stars.
Serge Lutens Sarrasins Filthy jasmine leather. Who wants to wear this? Smells like what I imagine the back room of a strip club would smell like. (Also, it’s purple. I hate purple.) Three stars.
Tauer Perfumes L’Air du Désert Marocain A very calm, meditative, yet comfortable scent. I wouldn’t have called it transcendent, but I can’t really name a reason I would knock a star off, so all right, five stars.
Theo Fennell Scent (now d/c)
Thierry Mugler Angel Like I drank an entire bottle of cherry cough syrup and fell into a vat of Drakkar Noir. I do not give two flips that Angel started the whole gourmand trend and the fruitchouli trend and the gender-crossing Coco Mlle. trend. Famed perfumer Guy Robert is quoted at least a couple of times in P:TG as saying “A perfume must above all smell good.” This? Doesn’t. One star.
Tommy Hilfiger Tommy Girl Like drinking lemony iced tea in the sunshine in an American garden. Pretty, unpretentious and easy to wear. (Hello, Angel? This one smells good. Take notes.) Five stars.
Yves Saint Laurent Kouros
Yves Saint Laurent Opium (now reformulated) If I may use someone else’s words: “A genius work of perfumery, utterly recognizable, memorable, technically polished, and spectacularly loud. But [I] hate it.” One star, and I’m not sorry.
Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche This aldehydic floral packs every bit as much metal as a factory floor and is considerably less warm and fuzzy. It has rose in it? Where? That’s no rose, that’s a very screechy geranium, plus a hyacinth note so metallic it twangs. Two stars.
Yohji Yamamoto Yohji Homme (now d/c)

This list does not include anything released after 2009; nor does it include anything Dr. Turin has reviewed since the publication of P:TG in his Style Arabia columns. It was a vast undertaking, and yet it is now (and always was, really) inadequate to the current flood of perfumes on the market today. Still worth a read for information and entertainment, if you ask me.

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Random stuff, Feb. 1-8, 2016

Well, I lost the Scent Diary for last week (which I generally start as a Word document so I can add to it each day in the week), and then got stalled out on this week’s SD post due to general busy-ness. So you get another summing-up.

(“The Princess Bride” might just be my favorite movie of all time, y’all. Really.)

So it’s been cold and icky. Man, you know, winter rain is just horrible. Snow is nice, but winter rain is like the bitter tears of the earth. I’ve been testing samples, but I’ve also been wearing winter staples like Black Cashmere, Alahine, and Soivohle Centennial, as well as more year-round loves like Mariella Burani and Safari. I know, I keep wearing the same things over and over, but those are the ones I want. Shrug.

Incidentally, that text color I found for Centennial is the dusty dark peach color it really has in my mind, just the shade of an angora sweater I used to have in college.

The other thing I’ve been wearing frequently is Marc Jacobs Daisy. Now, look – Daisy is straight-up department-store let’s-not-offend-anybody uninspired. I acknowledge it. But it is also pretty and uncomplicated, and it just plain smells nice. It is, in fact, exactly the kind of thing that my female protagonist in the women’s fiction/romance novel I’m currently editing would wear. I like to wear fragrances that might suit my characters; I find it helps me keep their personalities firmly in mind while I’m writing.

The current plan is to self-publish this novel for Kindle/e-book, but I can’t tell you when that will be.  A matter of months, no doubt. I’ll be sure to share info for it here.

Snowflake the lamb is growing by, er, leaps and bounds. He’s so stinkin’ cute!

Mini-reviews coming soon, as I promised.

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Random stuff, Jan. 25-31, 2016

I had a whole week’s worth of Scent Diary somewhere and lost it, so I can’t call this post Scent Diary. Instead, it’s just a random collection of musings from the week, things I remember thinking about. Here ya go:

My pictures of depressing rain on our lovely snow didn't come out right, and frankly I have no time to mess about with a camera. So I stole this one from Tiny Farm Blog (thanks, TFB).
My pictures of depressing rain on our lovely snow didn’t come out right, and frankly I have no time to mess about with a camera. So I stole this one from Tiny Farm Blog (thanks, TFB).

After the snow, we’ve had some warm weather. The CEO is happy; Gaze is happy. I’m not. It’s been raining. I hate winter rain. If the atmosphere is going to shoot down wet stuff in winter, it should be cold enough to turn the moisture to snow, in my opinion. Bleargh.

Snowflake the lamb is thriving and getting bigger. He’s getting aggressive, too – every time I go into the laundry room, he’s following me around and nibbling at my jeans looking for milk. The lamb crop is up to 150%, which is nice. Gaze’s little flock includes six ewes, and all of them have now lambed. Two single ewe lambs, a set of girl twins, a set of boy twins (one of them was Snowflake), a set of mixed-gender twins*, and a ram lamb, born small and a little bit early but appearing to get along fine.

* I was concerned that the ewe lamb of this twin set might be a freemartin – that is, sterile – but apparently it’s only in cattle that the female twin of a male calf is unable to reproduce, due to the mixing of genetic material in the placenta. It can happen with sheep, goats, and pigs, but it is a rare occurrence. Cattle have twins at slightly lower than the rate in humans (1% for cows, 2% for women not using fertility drugs), and of those twin births, about a third are male-female pairs. 90-96% of female calves with male twins are sterile. Ewes, on the other hand, have twins at the same rate as they have singletons.

SL mag adI have tested a few more things this week, so look for a Mini-Review Roundup soon. However, I have mostly been wearing favorites and standbys: Teo Cabanel Alahine (pretty much the only amber I like… but I really love it), Ralph Lauren Safari (a greenie for cooler weather), Guerlain Shalimar Light (far less filthy than That Skank Shalimar, but still a little bit dirty) Donna Karan Black Cashmere (not black, rich russet brown), and By Kilian Sweet Redemption (pretty much the only orange blossom that doesn’t smell like soap on me – instead, it’s like orange blossom candy).

I miss Bookworm. But finally Taz decided to give The Dragonbone Chair another shot, and this time he made it through the slow opening and swallowed this 600-page book in about two days. I asked him what he thought of it, and he did not feel satisfied with the ending. “Is that it?” he wanted to know. “Seems unfinished.” I reminded him that he’d just finished the first – and shortest! – book of a trilogy, and there was plenty more action coming. He’s working on The Stone of Farewell now.

stone of farewellSpeaking of which, Bookworm and I have always made fun of the title font of this book, in which the T of “Stone” looks like a C if you catch a glimpse of it from a short distance away. So we call it The Scone of Farewell, AKA the Biscuit of Bye-bye, or even The Teacake of Toodle-oo if we are being exceptionally silly. But when I looked for an image of the book for this post, I checked Amazon and found that the cover has been updated with a less “fantasy novel” font. Oh well. Still a terrific, terrific fantasy series, and a cornerstone of modern fantasy lit. You can thank Tad Williams for laying a foundation on which the Game of Thrones series was laid, even if you think Memory, Sorrow and Thorn is dated and too-familiar. (You want to talk about pastiche? ERAGON. Eragon, while being an astonishingly good book series by a teenage author, seems to me like Paolini took every fantasy novel ever written to that point, threw them in a blender and hit Frappé. Frankly, the series bored me, and yes, I read all of it anyway.)

And I am working on revising an old novel for publication as a Kindle e-book. It’s scaring me to death… more on that later, too.

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Mini-Review Roundup, late January 2016

I’ve been testing a few things new to me and trying to work my way through the Sample Stash, having becoming interested again in sniffing things other than my favorites. So here goes!roundup

l'wren scottL’Wren Scott (for Barneys): This perfume, released by the model and designer in 2009, in conjunction with her design label, generated some buzz around the time of its introduction with the then-staggering price of $195 per 100ml bottle. It’s a price that certainly seems less staggering now, given the price hikes we’ve seen across the board, but it was a shocker at the time. Scott, who was dating Mick Jagger for a time, died in 2014 and her business folded, of course. I’ve recently seen bottles on eBay for $50, so it’s within reach now of those of us not able (or willing) to drop big bucks on our fragrance.

Ms. Scott said in interviews that she mixed her own oils and was highly involved in the creation of her fragrance, from the notes to the packaging. This I believe – celebrities who are interested in fragrance for itself tend to release fragrances that are interesting, at least.

This one is downright quirky. First, it’s a spicy floral modern chypre. And when I say “spicy,” I don’t mean cozy baked-goods spices like cinnamon. I mean anise, artemisia, curry tree, coriander and cloves. The anise seems prominent to me, but the effect is highly aromatic in an unusual way. There’s a ton of patchouli, and lots of jasmine and geranium – very little oakmoss, but this is a chypre in the modern style. It’s big, bold, and in character something like that 80s beast, Ungaro Diva. Oddly for something so bold, it doesn’t last very long on my skin. It’s aromatic and woody enough that I would think it would be perfectly comfortable for a man to wear.

Here’s a masculine take on L’Wren Scott, at CaFleureBon.

I would have liked this bottle were it not for the plug-ugly lettering. Bleah.
I would have liked this bottle were it not for the plug-ugly lettering. Bleah.

Comme des Garcons Blue Encens: I went through a brief period of wanting to smell all the incense fragrances I could, after finding the smell of high-church incense very pleasant. (Hey. The Baptist church I grew up in had cinderblock walls, and although I visited St. Andrew’s several times to admire its beautiful jewelbox interior, I never went to services there. It took a visit to Malta five years ago to introduce me to church incense.)

Blue Encens has the traditional incensey mix atop a dry (not sweet) amber, with cool spices. It reminds me a good deal of the late, lamented Comptoir Sud Pacifique Eau du Gouverneur – all that pepper and sheer spice! It’s not particularly ashy, nor very woody. Nor is it groundbreaking; it’s just nice. I enjoyed this one. Perhaps it’s not a surprise that I did – its composer, Evelyne Boulanger, also worked on CdG Zagorsk (speaking of which, I like it again).

A few more reviews: Ann at Perfume Posse; Katie Puckrik Smells; Bois de Jasmin.

l'air de rienMiller Harris L’Air de Rien: Luca Turin’s review of this one in Perfumes: The Guide doesn’t make it sound like anything I would want to wear. However, there’s a regular commenter on Now Smell This who loves it and finds it comforting. I can’t remember which of her mentions of it convinced me that I needed to try it, but I’m pretty sure she talked me into it.

The notes listed are simply neroli, patchouli, oakmoss, amber, musk and vanilla. Of this one, Turin says, “It smells of boozy kisses, stale joss sticks, rising damp, and soiled underwear. I love it,” and gives it four stars.

Eww. To me, however, it simply smells like “skin musk,” with perhaps a veil of that “old books” smell.  I mean, I can smell it, but it sort of melts into the skin and becomes a pleasant ambient scent. I don’t get a lot of patchouli in this, though I expected to. Would I wear it? Probably not, but that’s more a matter of finding it unexciting than finding it dirty.

Okay, so it’s MUSK. We know what happens with musks – they’re large molecules right at the edge of human perception, and many people are anosmic to (they can’t smell) several musks but can smell others. I suspect this is what happened to me with Smell Bent’s Commando, a fragrance recommended by Tom of Perfume Posse and Perfume-Smellin’ Things as smelling like the “impeccably clean skin of a child.” Um, nope. Nope. That thing is crowded locker room all the way, dude. And Patty at Perfume Posse calls L’Air de Rien “the huge catbutt perfume that skanked its way across the perfume universe,” at first, before deciding it was a lovely musky leather.

Other takes on L’Air de Rien: an excellent, informative double review from Denyse Beaulieu and Elena Vosnaki at Perfume Shrine, Victoria at Bois de Jasmin, and a rather negative one from Katie Puckrik Smells. Bonkers about Perfume and EauMG got much the same out of it as I did. Dirty? You’ll have to try it yourself.

burberry weekendBurberry Weekend for Women: According to Fragrantica, it’s a fruity floral with some powdery notes. I thought it might be safe to test it when going to the salon for a haircut-and-highlights, but wound up having to scrub it off. Why? It smells of adult diapers to me – that is, stale urine. It’s horrible.

With notes of citrus, peach, and your quieter floral elements of hyacinth, peach blossom and mignonette, it sounds completely inoffensive, right? Well, somewhere down the list of notes, there is sage. Sage, in perfumery, is straight-up pee to my nose, and there’s the culprit. Aromatics Elixir smells urinous to me, too. (Sorry. It is what it is.)

Victoria over at EauMG has a different opinion on it, and I’m betting that hers is the more common reaction.  (How about that? The inoffensive one offends, and the skanky-catbutt one smells fine to me. You never know.)

More mini-reviews coming soon – I’d forgotten how much fun this is!

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Being Crafty (Lined Crocheted Purse)

Over the summer, Bookworm set herself to use up as much as possible of the substantial yarn stash that my grandmother Sarah Lou (“Bambaw”) left behind her.

WRONG.
WRONG.

Please notice that I do not mention the considerable supplies of unpainted china, designs, and china paints she didn’t get around to using before her death at the age of almost-92. Nor the stacks upon stacks of fabric, yarn, clothing patterns, embroidery floss, buttons, and other notions. My other grandmother, Nell, a quilter, also left a similar pile of fabric and notions when she died at 92. She moved from her enormous farmhouse to a condo ten years before, and had reduced her stash to what she thought would be manageable before the move. All the same, after her death, my three aunts were cleaning out the condo and I overheard them discovering yet another supply of fabrics. Oh, the moaning!

I come from a long line of packrats, and it disturbs me, but so far not enough that I’ve begun jettisoning my own craft supplies. I really need to find a new home for the cross-stitch, however, because it hurts my hands. My fingers get numb within five minutes of holding a needle. And I hate that, and I would love to get back to stitching, but it’s just not going to happen. Neither can I crochet with thread and steel hooks anymore, same reason. These days I work with fat yarn and ergonomic hooks.

(No, she just leaves it to her mostly-non-crafting descendants.)
(No, she just leaves it to her mostly-non-crafting descendants.)

However, back to Bambaw’s yarn stash and Bookworm’s attempt to whittle it down… this past summer, she picked a couple of skeins of peculiar yarn out of the box and decided to do something with them. They were cream and goldenrod shades, and of a sport weight size, not very soft but with an attractive sheen to them. These skeins were of 100% rayon, and so old that the price tag on them said 29¢! Bookworm ruled out making her usual items (hat, scarf, dishcloth, rug) from them and finally settled on making a purse. For me, because she never carries one.

Purse and coordinating glasses case.
Purse and coordinating glasses case.

It’s wonderfully cheery, very summery. Looking at it makes me happy. But, of course, it’s crocheted, which means holes, which means you lose things like pens and perfume sample vials and stuff like that, which means that it needed a lining. Which meant that I needed to sew one.

Six months and eight tutorials later, it is done.

Completed lining.
Completed lining.

I used an old, worn, fitted sheet from a set with a pattern I always loved, in colors that make me happy – I cut off the bad elastic near the foot of the sheet, where the pattern was still bright and the cotton in good shape, and used it to line my lovely summery striped bag.

It was a lot of work – measure and cut, iron on interfacing, cut again, measure and mark again, make a stiffener for it, change the thread on the sewing machine, mess with the (aging) sewing machine… rip out a badly placed seam and resew it… then hand-sew it in, a little bit at a time (because hand-sewing makes my hands hurt).

Finished product!
Finished product!

Totally worth it. I love it.

Thanks to my sweet thoughtful Bookworm. Thanks to my mother, who gave me my inexpensive Kenmore sewing machine 23 years ago (she knew I’d need it!), and thanks to my grandmother, who probably snapped up that rayon yarn at half-off, at least forty years ago. The purse might be new, but it says family to me. I’ll carry it with pleasure.

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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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Happy New Year 2016, and Best of 2015 Perfumes

Catching up on the personal stuff: The CEO is in New Zealand at the moment, shepherding eight undergrads and one graduate student/assistant around Lincoln University, near Christchurch, at the very beginning of a two-week short-course study abroad that deals with international trade in agriculture and will cover a goodly portion of New Zealand, from the Haast Pass on South Island to Waiheke Island north of Auckland. This is the trip that I was able to go on the planning trip for, back in July (when it was frigidly cold).

Taz, Bookworm and Gaze in front of the Christmas tree. Of COURSE Bookworm is barefoot!
Taz, Bookworm and Gaze in front of the Christmas tree. Of COURSE Bookworm is barefoot!

Bookworm is home from Yale and doesn’t return until the third weekend in January. Gaze has returned from his marching band trip to Florida, to perform in the halftime show with several other bands at the Russell Athletic Bowl (the Bears of Baylor University, in Texas, beat the University of North Carolina Tar Heels 49-38). Taz seems to be in that odd stage where he’s visibly growing every single day. I swear, the new jeans I bought him for his birthday in October are too short now.
And I have almost completed one novel, as well as beginning to revise and edit another one. Yay me!

As for perfumes released this past year: I didn’t manage to try even half the 2015 releases that many fragophiles enjoyed. As I’ve said before, my lame testing status is largely due to the fact that I live in the back of beyond, with nary a Scent Bar or Twisted Lily or Arielle Shoshana brick-n-mortar testing site within driving distance. (Please note: Arielle Shoshana is within about six hours’ drive of my house, but less than an hour away from my sister-in-law’s place, so I’m not ruling it out. I hope to get to Northern Virginia SOMEtime this year.)
Another reason I didn’t test a lot of new fragrances was that I wasn’t really tempted by many of them. I always like to get my mitts on a new tuberose, and fresh sparkling aldehydes grab me too, as well as greenies – you know I love my greenies. However, there seemed to be a great number of woodies and Orientals and twists on the traditional cologne formula, and those just aren’t my cup of tea.

Here’s the short list of fragrances mentioned as worthy by some other perfume bloggers – generally mainstream and established niche fragrances, with some indie ones as well – that I did not manage to smell. No brand-new, super-spendy, Eurocentric avant-garde lines like Stephan Humbert Lucas or O’Driu or Xerjoff (okay, that one’s maybe not so “new”), and I also didn’t test much from natural/botanical indie perfumers like Providence Perfumes or Aftelier, either. Oh well. I have become accustomed to the concept that a good part of the parade is going to pass me by, and I’m okay with that. I’ve only got two eyes, anyway.
Stuff other bloggers liked that I didn’t even get around to trying (as always, please forgive the lack of diacritical marks):
Aedes de Venustas Palissandre d’Or – a woody thingy, i.e. Not My Cup of Tea.
Annick Goutal L’Ile au Thé – I had been interested in trying this one, but when somebody calls a Goutal “thin” in a review, it’s sure to be as thin as Kate Moss standing sideways.
Arquiste Nanban – an Oriental thingy, really NMCoT.
Atelier Cologne Pomelo Paradis – a cologney thingy, NMCoT.
Bvlgari Eau Parfumee au Thé Bleu – a twist on Bvlgari’s classic green-tea thingy, which I found boring as heck anyway, so adding a lavender focus was not going to help. SOOO NMCoT.
Byredo Rose of No Man’s Land – I’d like to try this one, a woody rose. Just haven’t gotten around to it.
Dame Perfumery Scottsdale Dark Horse – a spicy woody thingy. It’s not that I dislike spicy-woody things, but with a bottle of Smell Bent One and a small decant of F Malle Musc Ravageur, I feel like I’ve got my needs covered. That said, Dame Perfumery is doing a terrific job at a low price point, and the world needs it.
Dior Feve Delicieuse – With the exception of Cuir Cannage, I’m kind of burned out on Dior creations lately. I like tonka bean, but I just didn’t think I needed to test a frag based on the Delicious Bean itself.
Diptyque Florabellio – salty floral thingy, NMCoT.
Hermes Jour d’Hermes Gardenia – Should be My Cup of Tea, but I’m not going to risk it after the original Jour went all Sharon-Stone-Basic-Instinct-Icepick-y on me and the Absolu version threatened to boil my bunny, a la Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. Just not gonna.
Hermes Le Jardin de Monsieur Li – I can totally resist nearly every Jean-Claude Ellena fragrance ever created, as they tend to last about 19.2 seconds on me. (Luckily, the only one I really wanted to last on me was Osmanthe Yunnan.)
L’Artisan Rose Privee – if I ran across a tester I’d be all over it. Might consider a sample.

GUM (Glavny Universalny Magazin)
GUM (Glavny Universalny Magazin)

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Ciel de GUM – I really would like to try this one. Oddly, I keep seeing it written “Ciel de Gum,” which is a little unfortunate in its wording because it makes me imagine “Bubblicious Heaven.” Actually, it was created for the Russian department store GUM, which used always to be referred to with capital letters in all those Cold War novels I read. In any case, it’s a floral oriental and it’s by Francis K, whose fragrances I tend to have decent luck with. Want – at least to test.
MFK Oud Satin Mood – powdery woody rose-vanilla, apparently, which sounds nice. Again, if I ran across a tester bottle I’d definitely give it a shot.
Naomi Goodsir Iris Cendre – I have yet to try any scents from this house; they’re expensive, and none of them have appealed on the basis of notes. This is no different. Ashes of Iris? Uh, thanks, I’ll just be over here… um… okay, fine, you caught me, I’m sticking to No. 19 and Heure Exquise for my iris hits.
Ormonde Jayne Vanille d’Iris – Again with the iris. Sigh.
Papillon Salome – an animalic floral oriental, emphasis on the oriental? Y’all, I can’t even manage Joy! Perfectly well-mannered ladies wear Joy to church and have for decades, where on me Joy smells like post-coital satin underpants worn for three days straight in a heat wave. I think Salome would be a waste of time for me. (I mean, I do wear Memoir Woman, and White Diamonds, which are both pretty indolic. And Salome might surprise me. At the same time, if I have to buy a sample, I know it’s not a good risk.)
Puredistance White – Puredistance has had two chances to win me over despite its astronomical pricing, with Puredistance I and Antonia. Both turned out to hide Something Extremely Stabby well underneath their truly gorgeous florals. I have my doubts that either White or Opardu would avoid this problem.
Serge Lutens La Religieuse – aspirational pricing, incomprehensible and overly-artsy ad copy, plus jasmine and incense. I just don’t see this one working out, even if it were at export bottle prices.
Slumberhouse Kiste – I’m super-glad that somebody is making Slumberhouse perfumes. They all sound utterly fascinating, if risky. At the same time, they’re not composed of notes I find very comfortable and I just never hear the notes list for a Slumberhouse and think, “Ooh, yeah, that would be a winner for me!” Never. Not even this one, which might come closest (peach and pipe tobacco).
Tauerville Vanilla Flash – Vanilla. Ehhh.
The Body Shop Smoky Poppy – people have been comparing this limited-edition mall-shop scent to Opium, which is practically a skull and crossbones for me. Not just no, but HECK no.
The Different Company I Miss Violet – I like violet. Again, if I run across a tester, I’ll jump right on testing this one. Then again, it’s a Duchaufour… dunno.

That was a very long list. Now for some shorter ones, starting with the 2015 releases I managed to test but didn’t like, or was disappointed by, or found lacking in some way.  Didn’t like/Disappointed by/Meh:
Amouage Sunshine (technically a 2014 release but it didn’t get to the US until ’15) – I liked Sunshine, except… okay, honestly I still can’t quite put my finger on it. It’s so opaque, is maybe the best description. It’s pretty and happy, but I keep getting the feeling it’s hiding something unsavory from me. It’s like that blonde cheerleader who’s relentlessly cheerful, but secretly two inches from getting out a machete and going postal on the varsity squad. I get unnerved before I even hit the drydown.
Bogue Maai – I didn’t do a full review of this one, and I really ought to. I really ought to give it a third skin testing, just in case, because what I got out of it was like NOTHING anybody else got out of it. Jungles and big cats and luxurious tuberose? Uh, no. I mean, it was fascinating, with a two-sided clean/dirty, dirty/clean aspect that was not unpleasant, just nothing like I expected. Really cool, except that I am just not okay with smelling like my mechanic cousin Theotis’ bathroom ca. 1978, complete with coal tar soap. (No, not pine tar soap. Coal tar soap – look it up.) Also, I never smelled much tuberose in it, much less any chypre.
Bruno Fazzolari Seyrig – I blind-bought a 5ml split of this and expected I’d love it. Aldehydes and rich florals, and a vintage flair? So Me. Except that this one is sitting on a rich amber base that overwhelms the florals too soon and becomes a straight-up ambery oriental within about an hour’s wear. It then stays in the amber mode for five hours, which is So Not Me. Disappointed.
Chanel Misia – I should have loved this. I don’t. I did buy a 2ml spray sample and have been spritzing it with abandon, and it is pretty, really pretty. But it is very buttoned-up and aloof and I find that that aspect really bothers me, which is odd because you’d think Misia merely carries on its Chanel heritage. No. 19 is buttoned-up and aloof – but it has a soul. I think that’s it, Misia is silent and empty-eyed, a mere aloof model with not a thought in her head, or if she has thoughts she’s not speaking them to me.

This is about the right proportion of lilacs to leaves in Vacances (as it should be, at least).
This is about the right proportion of lilacs to leaves in Vacances (as it should be, at least).

Jean Patou Vacances rerelease – This one isn’t bad at all. Not at all. It’s just that I was hoping for it to be the reincarnation of the 1980s rerelease of the Ma Collection version of Vacances, which is the most perfect and tender lilac scent ever, buttressed as the lilacs are with gentle green leaves. Ma Collection Vacances is, as I just said, basically perfect. This? Just nice. The lilacs are soft and I smell some hyacinth in here too, but hardly any leaves, and the whole thing is sitting on a clean musk that verges on laundry detergent. I suspect the old version had just a tiny smidge of heliotrope, and it’s as missed as the beautiful tender leaves are. I blind-bought a split portion after longing and longing for the rerelease to finally show up, but as Otto says in “A Fish Called Wanda,” I am DISAPPOINTED.
Nina Ricci L’Extase – Ecstasy? Uh, nope. No, it’s another Modern Floral with Clean Patchouli. Dull. I probably tried a bazillion more mainstream things that smelled just like it in the Duty Free shop in the Auckland airport last July, but this is the only one I remember.

Sniffery wasn’t allll disappointing, though. There were at least a handful of fragrances I really enjoyed. I Liked:
Tauer Perfumes Sotto La Luna Tuberose – I was so, so disappointed in the heaviness of Sotto La Luna Gardenia that I held back on testing this one. However, the Tuberose SLL is just lovely – green and fresh and floral, until it slides into Andy’s signature ambergris base. I’ll be using up the rest of my generous sample, but I don’t feel the need to stock up.
Tauerville Rose Flash – Very much like the lovely and super-spendy By Kilian Rose Oud. Not a twin, exactly, but the same jammy rose, the same rich woody vanilla. So very pretty and almost juicy, a simplified rose-vanilla. A mood-lifter.
Neela Vermeire Pichola – gorgeous florals, a smidge of spice, a bit of sandalwood… a really pretty drydown… but to me, the whole thing was spoiled by the traditional Duchaufour accent of rotting vasewater. I get that effect a lot with Duchaufours, and I suspect it’s the grade/preparation of his preferred source of vetiver. The fetor only lasted about half an hour, and I seem to be more sensitive to it than many people are, but it’s a jarring note in the middle of something lovely.
Teo Cabanel Lace Garden – a BWF gone moderately-sized and a bit restrained; it only overwhelms you with its beauty. This comes the closest I’ve ever smelled to the beautiful and sadly discontinued original Kate Spade fragrance, a mix of gardenia, tuberose, orange blossom, lily of the valley and ylang-ylang. Everything is balanced, but lush. I’m still not sure why I didn’t immediately fall head-over-heels.

Photo from London Beauty Queen blog.
Photo from London Beauty Queen blog.

And I reeeeeally liked:
Penhaligon’s Ostara – I tested this the same week that I tested Pichola, and was mildly surprised to find a great resemblance between the two, not exactly in smell but in feel. Shouldn’t have surprised me; Bertrand Duchaufour composed both of them. In any case, where Pichola had that murky-mucky pondwater fetid thing I get so often in Duchaufour frags, Ostara was just pure happiness. It smells of sunlight and spring, and while it does tail off into a very quiet white musk at the end, I’m so taken by the first two-thirds of it that I can ignore the musk – or spritz something else.
Reader, I bought it. I found it on a 40% off sale at Haute Look and snapped it up for my own Christmas present. (Usually The CEO gets me to pick out something for myself. This year he actually bought me a gift, a nice ceramic vase for flowers, so the Ostara is waiting for my January birthday.)
Eric Buterbaugh Apollo Hyacinth – Green, cool, fresh and floral, a floral with backbone, a wonderful blending of bloom and stem, softness and strength (though not big sillage). Lasts for hours. Perfectly unisex. I have been avoiding buying any more Buterbaugh samples lest I fall desperately in love, because they are desperately, desperately pricey.

Here is to a fragrant and successful 2016! Wishing you and yours a year full of good things.

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Where is the love?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Has that ever happened to you?

And what do you do about it?

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

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Mid-November 2015

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

Sorry.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So. ‘Sup with y’all?

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