Scent Diary, January 8-14, 2018

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

Ironic yay balloon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Terracotta Army

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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Scent Diary, Jan. 1-7, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mini-Review Roundup, Dec. 2017 – early Jan. 2017

Yee-haw! Round ’em up, the short reviews of new (to me) things I’ve been testing:

Blackbird Perfume The Minimals Apricot
From the Surrender to Chance website, where I ordered this: Blackbird was first an award winning menswear store that opened in 2004 in Seattle. Nicole Miller, its founder and creative director, brought Blackbird to new heights in 2013 when she decided to focus on distributing the Blackbird brand internationally and closed her stores. Today Blackbird is known worldwide for its unconventional and remarkable fragrances and grooming products.

Apricot is from The Minimals Series which is a limited edition experimental natural perfume collection designed to be layered or worn alone. Each scent is a single ingredient distilled purely from nature in its raw form.

So, okay, an all-natural from an indie perfumery. Apricot is light and fresh in the matter of slightly-unripened fruit, tart and delicious but smelling somehow more of the twigs of the tree bearing the fruit, and of leaves, than of ripe jammy fruit. It’s airy and full of sunshine, a happy smell. It doesn’t last long on my skin, maybe a couple of hours (about par for an all-natural), but it’s wonderful while it does.

Like the above copy said, this was a limited edition that is not now being sold at Blackbird, so there was little point in mentioning it except that I liked it and found it interesting. I probably wouldn’t have bought it anyway: too short-lived.

Guerlain Bois d’Armenie
I’ve read multiple times that if you like benzoin, you must try Bois d’Armenie (based on the smell of Papier d’Armenie, which is paper impregnated with incense and benzoin that you’re intended to burn for . . . um, I guess a pleasant smell in the air? BdA had been on my wishlist at the decant services for, like, two years straight before I finally caved (hey. during a 20% off sale) and ordered a sample.

Turns out I needn’t have bothered. This is nice, very nice indeed, but not all that interesting. The notes are pink pepper, iris, rose, coriander, benzoin, Indonesian patchouli, incense, precious woods, musk and balsams but all I get is smoky benzoin, period. Pleasant, but oh well.

Amouage Figment Woman
I had completely written off trying this one because I thought it was a Fig Perfume. Which I hate, because Fig Leaf YUCK. (I still think that would have made a great fig perfume name.) Turns out it’s a Big White Floral instead — a “deconstructed tuberose,” several blogs are calling it.

Which, yay. Because the last time I tried an Amouage BWF with tuberose, it was Honour Woman. I really liked it for the first two hours (cue ominous music) AND THEN IT BECAME FROGS, so I was horribly disappointed. I was happy to give Christopher Chong another shot at wowing me with an Amouage white floral as fabulous as the packaging. This is really pretty packaging, y’all, probably my favorite Amouage so far, and that’s saying something.

The notes are Sichuan pepper, saffron, gardenia, tuberose, jasmine sambac, lisylang, cassia, orris, papyrus, incense and patchouli, and it looks like it would be a heavy hitter, doesn’t it? Incense. Patch. Spices and all the usual suspects of the BWF. The notes list makes me think to some extent of that massive and scary-weird deconstructed-tubey frag, Comme des Garcons for Daphne Guinness Daphne.

However, I was surprised to find Figment a whitish haze of nothin’-much that gradually devolved into that jasmine aromachemical that sets my teeth so absolutely on edge that eventually I have to scrub. Again a disappointment. I am about to give up on Amouage. (My wallet is relieved, I must say.)

Demeter Petrichor
You do know this smell, right? The smell of rain hitting dry earth. Petrichor is the reason you open your door after a summer rain and inhale and inhale and inhale, sucking all that good freshness in until you get light-headed, and then you have to lie down and thank God you’re alive, because petrichor.

Petrichor
By Viromnibus
The world where I stood was a desert
longing for a kiss that never came.
Not until you did.

Demeter’s rendition isn’t quite that transformative. It lasts less than an hour on me, and only smells like real-life petrichor for about 15 minutes. But it’s a lovely 15 minutes.

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Scent Diary, Dec. 25-31, 2017

Monday, Dec. 25: Merry Christmas! I hope you had a lovely day, if you celebrate.

Beautiful original Alahine today for a lovely day with the family. Bacon and homemade cinnamon rolls and my mom’s delicious scalloped apples for breakfast. Stockings and gifts, lovely surprises.

We went to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi as a family in the afternoon and then spent a good bit of time talking about it. No spoilers, but we felt that we could have written a considerably better script.

Tuesday, Dec. 26: Another nice (if chilly) day, spent with The CEO’s family. I had recently cleaned out a closet and found a few samples in a box, along with a Travalo atomizer, full but unlabeled. I’m not absolutely sure what’s in it, but I think it’s Prada Infusion d’Iris. Which Bookworm once misread and called “Infection of Iris,” and from there it morphed into “Infectional Virus,” which might be juvenile and crass but it makes us laugh. That was my SOTD. It’s funny, but there are a fair number of perfumistas who consider Id’I (Infectional Virus, wink wink) the gold standard for wearing to a dentist visit. Apparently we tend to find it inoffensive, pleasant and calming.

Vintage Samsara parfum in the evening, for coziness.

Wednesday, Dec. 27: The CEO, along with Gaze and his first cousin Curiosity, and Curiosity’s dad K (who was The CEO’s roommate at Virginia Tech, way back in the day, before he married The CEO’s sister E), went to a basketball game at VT before they delivered his sister J to the airport and went home themselves. Bookworm and Taz and I rested and cleaned up a bit. I’ve made three giant vats of spiced cider this week, and the third batch is almost gone already. SOTD was Parfumerie Generale Un Crime Exotique from an old sample. This one is really nice, a pleasant spicy woody vanilla; I was surprised to find out that it’s been discontinued. Huh.

The general talk about PG in comments on Now Smell This is that Pierre Guillaume is perhaps too expansive with his product line, both with the original Parfumerie Generale and the more boutiquey Huitieme Art house. Then, too, as far as I understand, he is also the perfumer for Phaedon Perfumery; I’m not sure whether he’s materially involved in owning Phaedon or not. The perfumista complaint is that he seems to always be promoting the new-New-NEW stuff and ignoring the marketing of the original products, to the detriment of sales. PG himself does come off looking a bit vain (go check out his Facebook page, which despite being designed as a public figure/business type page has a fairly large number of pics of him posing like a model). I don’t know. I do know that Un Crime Exotique was really good and I am wishing I had a small decant of it. I liked Felanilla, too. Have not smelled any of the more recent PG fragrances, nor any Huitieme Art nor any Phaedon.

Shrug. So many MANY fragrances, so little time. (So few available to me to smell for free, as well.)

Thursday, Dec. 28: SOTD was Lolita Lempicka Eau de Minuit. A writing day/cleaning up day — though we won’t really dismantle the Christmas decor until New Year’s. It is COLDDDD.

Friday, Dec. 29: Took Thorin (the Sorento) to have his oil changed and the slow leak in his rear passenger tire repaired, and it took so long that after that and swinging by the grocery store, there was practically no time to do much else. Virginia Tech lost its bowl game, unaccountably. Of the numerous VT sports writers around here, nobody seems to understand exactly why it was so unsuccessful against Oklahoma State.

In the evening, we decided that we would get up early and drive to Richmond to see the Terracotta Army exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. I’d visited that museum once before, with my sister. She did her best to explain modern art to me, but I suppose I am a philistine. So much of it I just don’t get. Quite often I’m looking at it and thinking, “Um, so? What exactly about this is art? What am I supposed to be thinking or feeling? Because I’m thinking, ‘my preschooler did something remarkably similar to this,’ and ‘this is basically A Colored Rectangle and I have no feelings about it one way or another.'” Sometimes the sculpture has an impact on me and I enjoy it, but a lot of the 2D stuff, nah.

But the terracotta army? Fascinating! I will be posting a separate article on it, with The CEO’s pictures, in a few days.

After the art museum we visited Virginia’s historic and beautiful state house. The last time I’d been there was ca. 1978, when I was a fourth-grader on a field trip, and it was exciting to see the new entrance to the building, constructed under the hill in 2007. I could spend a lot of time talking about this building, which is the second oldest state house or state capitol building in the US (behind Maryland, although Virginia’s state legislature is the oldest body continuously in existence, because the Virginia legislature moved its location from Jamestown to Williamsburg and only then to Richmond). It was designed by Thomas Jefferson and would look quite familiar to many Americans because of its similarity to much of the architecture of federal buildings in Washington, D.C., and indeed to many government buildings throughout the United States. It does contain an interior dome not visible from the outside, but maintains a clean and simple exterior roofline.

Thing is, the Virginia State Capitol was conceived and its cornerstone laid in 1795, five years before Washington, D.C. even existed, much less before a building was constructed inside the new capital city. Neoclassicism as used in American governmental buildings really began with Jefferson’s architecture based on ancient Roman temple Maison Carrée in Nimes, France. The Virginia General Assembly still meets in this building, albeit in wings built in 1904.

This building also houses the only statue of George Washington created from life studies, by French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon. (More than two dozen bronze copies of this statue exist in various places, including the Washington Monument, so undoubtedly you’ve seen one of those — but this one in glowy Carrara marble the color of moonlight is the original.)

We got home late but glad we took the opportunity to go.

Sunday, Dec. 31: L’Arte di Gucci for this quiet day at home. The CEO built a fire and edited his photos of the terracotta army, and we cleaned up before spending the evening together.

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Sorta Kinda “Best of 2017 in Fragrance” Maybe Not Really

So all the other serious fragrance bloggers are doing a “best of 2017” post, and I can’t (whine) (pout) do a serious one because A) SO MANY scents were released this year SO MANY SO MANY, it’s like a firehose blast of mostly-horrible or at best boring nonentities, and b) I still have to buy samples if I want to try anything that’s less mainstream than Macy’s, so there’s THAT.

I will,  however, tell you what I thought of the new releases this year that I did manage to test. It’s a short list, so bear with me.

Chanel Gabrielle: The first new (non-boutique) pillar fragrance since Chance edp in 2002, Gabrielle was supposed to be “a radiant and sparkling, purely feminine Chanel blossom” based on jasmine, ylang-ylang, orange blossom and tuberose. I like the bottle, and I like a just-pretty floral.

And, you know, that would have been fine . . . if Gabrielle only smelled like actual flowers instead of lab-created ones. Harsh citrus notes and that screechy nerve-wracking jasminoid thing I hate so much are cheapening the Chanel legacy for fine fragrance (especially after the laundromat-y No. 5 l’Eau).

Dior Poison Girl edt: I know I’m not the only person who remembers when Poison was, well, poisonous, with its toxic/intoxicating tuberose and its overwhelming cough-syrup-on-steroids menace. It was strong, it was polarizing, it was daring. (It was also durn near ubiquitous. You couldn’t walk through a girls’ dorm back in the day without coming out smelling of Poison yourself.)

Poison Girl (in either the 2016 edp or the 2017 edt) is barely there, and what I can smell is strongly reminiscent of some kind of frooty-caramel Sno-Kone syrupy thing you’d get at the fair. Another cheapened legacy (and I’m not even talking about what they did to Miss Dior and Diorissimo). Shame.

Papillon Dryad: Papillon, in contrast to those two mainstream releases, does itself proud with a green/earthy woody floral in a classical, yet very nature-conscious vein. It’s little more vetivery than I could have wished for, but is still amazingly good. Narcissus, jasmine, greengreengreen and foresty, then dry and haylike. It doesn’t quite measure up in my opinion to my beloved Le Temps d’une Fete — but then, I’m not sure anything could. Dryad is thisclose. Lovely in itself, really gorgeous stuff.

Amouage Figment Woman: Once I got past the erroneous mindset that it was going to be a fig perfume (shudder), I was quite looking forward to this “deconstructed tuberose.” On the contrary, it turned out to be a wisp of a really dull and not particularly pleasant floral thingy, in a deceptively pretty bottle (that blue is gorgeous!). MAMA IS NOT HAPPY.

Amouage, I swear, given me one more unwearable release and you and I are finito. I loved the original Lyric Woman. I struggled with Memoir Woman until I fell in love with it. I suffered through Honour Woman and Sunshine and Interlude W and Beloved W. I kinda sorta got on with Myths W and Bracken W. I said Gold and Epic and Journey were just “not my style.” I even defended you when people said you were too costly; I said you were worth it. But now? this? is the next-to-last straw. Get the next release right, or we’re through and I’m getting a restraining order.

Demeter Petrichor: “Cheap and fleeting but accurate” is Demeter’s unwritten motto for its real-life-smell fragrances, and Petrichor does not disappoint. Sure, it only lasts 50 minutes, and only smells like that intoxicating rain-on-dry-ground phenomenon for the first half before going weirdly chemical, but wow. Those first twenty minutes are a fabulous trip back into all the “dancing in the rain” experiences of your life. Add in a “Dr. Who” reference, and it’s pretty exciting.

January Scent Project Eiderantler, Selperniku, and Smolderose (the 2017 edp version of an earlier oil-based scent): Complete reviews of these are in the works, so I won’t be detailed now. I’m still not sure any of these are “me,” but they are bold and unexpected and, best of all, wearable. Hurrah for the indies.

Arielle Shoshana edp: You don’t even have to share the recent taste (ha, pun) for fruit in your fragrance to like this, because it is the sunniest, tropical-iest, happiest fragrance I tried this year. The passionfruit is big and real and smile-worthy, and it’s followed by a comfortable, creamy sandalwoodish drydown of great pleasantness. There’s ambroxan in the drydown and the sandalwood is probably Australian, but it’s nice all the same. I’m waiting for the 1-ouncer bottle, but it’s definitely on my wishlist. As it is, I need another 1.5 ml sample.

Neela Vermeire Rahele was released in late 2016, but did not reach the US until January of 2017, and I didn’t smell it until summer. It could have been so good. It could’ve been sooooooo good. Rahele should have been right up my alley: osmanthus, leather, rose, oakmoss, very classical and French.

Instead, somebody let B. Duchaufour use that fetid pondwater vetiver material he loves so much (paging Le Labo Ylang 49!), and it just ruined Rahele for me. I was disappointed. Your mileage may vary, of course, and the thing is well-composed and otherwise lovely.

That was it, those were the only 2017 releases I tried this year. Ten out of the more than 1400 (according to Basenotes), an abysmal percentage.

Oh well. Here are some 2017 releases I wanted to try, and may yet manage to smell in the coming year:

House of Matriarch The Longing (buttery floral gourmand, unfortunately a limited edition)
Jo Malone Green Almond and Redcurrant (woody-fruity raw almond, again a LE like so many of the JMs, and I wish they’d quit doin’ it, but it must make them some cash so I bet they’ll keep on)
Annick Goutal Nuit et Confidences (tonka vanilla)
The two rosy “Grands Crus” releases from Lancome, Roses Berberanza and Parfait de Roses (oriental rose and jammy rose-vanilla, respectively)
Lubin Epidor (golden floriental)
Twilly d’Hermes (ginger tuberose)

What did you smell that was new (and good) in 2017? What are you looking forward to in 2018?

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Scent Diary, Dec. 18-24, 2017

One of my favorite ornaments, hand cross-stitched by me in December of 1989.

Monday, Dec. 18: First GYN visit in several years, since Dr. Young retired. Am overdue for a mammogram. Bleagh. SOTD was a tad of comforting Parfum Sacre.

Spent the afternoon wrapping gifts. I’m still behind.

You’re sensing a theme, aren’t you? Not every ornament on my tree is a nutcracker, but there sure are a lot of them.

Tuesday, Dec. 19: A little warmer today. This is The CEO’s last day to teach this semester, and spring semester doesn’t start until January 16th. SOTD is pretty vintage Samsara parfum, from one of those cute mini bottles I found for cheapie on eBay a couple years ago.

The current sample of Alahine arrived yesterday and I put a dab on the back of my hand. Kafka’s right, They Done Rurnt It. (Sorry, that’s Redneck for “it’s been ruined.”) It really, really is a mess now: half its former tenacious strength, with some unidentifiable and migraine-inducing basenote snaking its way up to strangle your brain. Iso E Super? I can’t really smell much of it, but having once overdosed to the point of nausea on three spritzes of Ormonde Jayne Ta’if (the OJs are FULL of Iso E Super), I know this might be an issue for me. On the other hand, SSS Tabac Aurea has a bunch of it, too, but TA doesn’t bother me. Karanal — the woody amber stuff in F Malle Une Rose — makes me feel stressed and anxious, so I don’t think it’s that. (But maybe it is, because I spent the rest of the day yesterday being crabby for no apparent reason. Though that could be perimenopause. Or the holidays. Or having the house full of people and consequently very cluttered.)

Frankly, I do not know what’s in there, but it’s awful. I shall be hoarding my vintage Alahine now, saving it for Decembers because to me it smells of Christmas.

My vintage bottle. Wasn’t it an elegant presentation?

Wednesday, Dec. 20: I gave the sample Alahine another shot. Maybe it was something on my skin, maybe it was something in the air, maybe I was wrong about it.

No.

It is not simply a bad reformulation now; it is a truly bad perfume. I generally have significant tolerance for most synthetic materials, but whatever is in there now is just awful. I scrubbed it off and gave myself the smallest half-spritz of real, vintage Alahine from its pretty glass bottle, in honor of joyful Christmases past and in mourning for that which is gone.

Thursday, Dec. 21: Gaze has managed to go back to campus, a thing most college students on break would probably tend to avoid. He’d volunteered to assist with the commissioning ceremony for cadets graduating in December, because we live close and he’s finished with exams. SOTD is By Kilian Sweet Redemption, because who doesn’t need to smell like oranges, flowers and candy at Christmas?

The soldier guy top right was a gift from my grandmother Nell when I was, oh, maybe twelve? He started the whole nutcracker thing for me.

I still need to mail some gifts. They may not get there in time, but I am still finishing up the wee nephew’s crocheted hat. SOTD is Lolita Lempicka Eau de Minuit (2013).

Went to court with Taz to receive his official driver’s license. We do that in Virginia: teenagers who’ve finished the coursework, the behind-the-wheel instruction, and the 50 hours of supervised driving time with a learner’s permit take the exam, and those who pass are issued a paper temporary license until the Division of Motor Vehicles issues the real one. DMV sends all the new licenses to the court, to be issued personally by the circuit court judge to the parent or guardian of the teenage driver, along with a short, sensible “these are your rights, these are your limitations until you’re 18, and these are your responsibilities,” presentation. Yay, he’s legal now!

Friday, Dec. 22: Gifts shipped via UPS (finally)! I was right, they won’t arrive until next Wednesday. I should crochet faster.

Photo stolen from paleopot.com, mostly because a) I don’t have a photo of my own, and b) the nutcracker mugs are cute. Click through for link.

Made a big pot of spiced cider. Yum. SOTD is glorious vintage Alahine again. Finished the shopping, including stocking gifts.

Saturday, Dec. 23: It’s cold! Bookworm has the weekend off, plus Monday and Tuesday, so I’m glad to have her home with us. Christmas music on the stereo and my Spotify. A tad of vintage Dior Dolce Vita parfum today. This is such nice stuff: woods, benzoin, rich dried fruit.

Taz’s last gift arrived today, in the nick of time! Enjoyed the “Eve of the Eve” Christmas service that our church joins with three others to host. A lovely night.

Sunday, Dec. 24: Spent the afternoon at my parents’ house doing Christmas with them. SOTD was a very light application of Parfum Sacre again. Turkey, ham, Nana’s best cooked apples, and way the heck more dessert than seven people (one of them diabetic) really needed.

Christmas comes but once a year, right?

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Scent Diary, Dec. 11-17, 2017

A favorite poster from a concert years ago (1991 or 1992, if memory serves). Poster is leaning against the wall so its proportions appear odd in this pic.

Monday, Dec. 11: Still chilly (good! I like a cold December even though The CEO keeps saying things like, “We could move to Kauai”). Second community chorus concert this evening, which went well but the space is not as excellent as the one we performed in yesterday so the Sunday concert was better. SOTD was Iris Poudre again. Aldehydes are good in cold weather. They sparkle.

Tuesday, Dec. 12: Colder. NST’s community project for Friday this week is, “Wear a fragrance with an animal in the name,” but I’m just not feelin’ it. I do have at least samples of a few*, but frankly I can’t be bothered right now. SOTD is golden-rosy incense Parfum Sacre.
* Zoologist Nightingale, Cartier Panthere (the old ’80s stuff, not the new), Hanae Mori “Butterfly,” and  Kenzo Jungle L’Elephant.

It started to snow in the afternoon, and it kept snowing: a slick, wet snow that was halfway to sleet, the most dangerous kind to drive in. The CEO and I went to the Farm Bureau Christmas dinner held at the Draper Mercantile**, and I was glad to see Taz driving in safely from track practice right before we left. While we were at dinner, though, Bookworm called to tell us that she was stopped on the road behind traffic. Before leaving work, she’d checked the VDOT traffic website, which showed accidents and delays on I-81 between work and home, so she took US 11 instead. However, delay after delay — as we found out later, an accident followed by police stopping traffic for the salt trucks to put down salt — kept her on the road for four and a half hours, fully four hours longer than it should have taken in ideal conditions and two hours longer than it would have taken her to go Interstate. She finally dragged herself in the door at 9:30 p.m., starving but safe.

** The Merc, once a country store and post office in rural Draper, VA, has become a gem of country dining, with the influence of Chef T (who might be familiar to you as runner-up of Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen Season 14) bringing upscale twists on classic southern dishes. I love eating Chef T’s food.

Wednesday, Dec. 13: Still cold, but the snow has begun to melt off. School was out, so Taz and I drove to Roanoke to help my parents decorate for Christmas. A nice day. SOTD was Amouage Lyric Woman. I only have about 3 mls left of a 15ml decant, so I haven’t been wearing Lyric much lately. Probably a mistake, since decants often seem to deteriorate due to the increased presence of air in the bottle. I should use it up, right? It’s really good, but I doubt I would buy any more.

Thursday, Dec. 14: Snow completely gone. SOTD is Parfum Sacre again, delicious and comforting. It’s truly the only Caron I’ve ever loved. Aimez-Moi was nice, but it had this powdery vanilla in it I can only describe as “flat,” and after some time it wore on my nerves. The old classic Carons I don’t get at all, at all. Probably that old Mousse de Saxe; I don’t love it.

The CEO brought home a tree, a very nice Frasier fir. We’ve put it in the corner of the living room and not in the foyer this time. Enjoyed decorating with Bookworm.

Friday, Dec. 15: Still chilly, and it was blowing snow early on. The CEO gave an exam today; he’s got one to administer on Tuesday and then he’s done teaching until mid-January. SOTD is spicy Kenzo Jungle L’Elephant. For some reason, in my mind this scent is a warm burgundy. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to last very long on me: maybe 3 hours from a generous dab. Seems like I remember it lasting longer on prior wearings.

Gaze called at lunchtime to tell me that he was done with his final exams and he needed to be out of his dorm pretty soon, so we made arrangements with The CEO (still in his office across campus) to bring Gaze home. YAY, THE BOY IS HOME FOR CHRISTMAS!! Hunter went mad with excitement.

Taz at Lord Botetourt HS Polar Bear Meet. (That’s a tarp, not snow.) Photo by Melissa Boone, cropped.

Saturday, Dec. 16: It has warmed up considerably, into the middle 40sF. Lucky thing, too, because Taz had a Polar Bear meet (one held outside during indoor track season) today. He PR’ed in the 3200m (11:07.80) and in the 1000m (3:09.86), but did not qualify for the regional meet. The CEO expects he will by the end of the season.

Bookworm and I did errands, and we cleaned up a bit and prepared for Sunday. Gaze had to go back to campus to play with the pep band for a women’s basketball game.

No SOTD today. I’m in quasi-mourning. I heard recently that Kafkaesque was bemoaning the current state of Teo Cabanel Alahine, which if you remember is a darling of mine in winter (despite my not being much of an amber fan at all, at all) and is — or, rather, was a glorious cacophony of golden bells, a joyful noise of ylang-ylang, rose, allspice berry and amber. Apparently it’s been reformulated, and disastrously so, which is definitely an occurrence to bemoan.

Before you send me blithely off to eBay, think again: I already tried that. Four years ago, actually (right after TC changed the packaging to that ugly round metallized-plastic bottle), plus several times since, and while Teo Cabanels in general are quite difficult to find used, Alahine bottles are nigh-impossible. I still have about 45 mls left. It’ll have to do me for the next umpteen Christmases.

Sunday, Dec. 17: We went to my MIL’s church this morning to hear the cantata (very well done!), dressed up more than usual. We go to a jeans-‘n’-flannel shirt kind of church, which has its own level of comfort, but her traditional church is nice as well. SOTD was the clean, symphonic floral Hermes 24, Faubourg. Lots of orange blossom in it, which reads “nice soap” and “flowery clean” on my skin.

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Scent Diary, December 4-10, 2017

I am planning to keep Scent Diary going in all of 2018, even if it’s a curt, “Monday I wore X, Tuesday I wore Y, Wednesday the calves got out and I wore Z,” sort of thing.

My father-in-law used to say, “There ain’t nothin’ better than a good cow dog. And there ain’t nothin’ worse than a bad one.” Unfortunately, Hunter is . . . well, honest truth is he’s bad.
Photo stolen from Circle L Stock Dogs, which apparently breeds and trains good ones.

BTDubs, the calves did get out last Friday. Bookworm was going out to her car to leave for work (she leaves around 7:20 for an 8 a.m. start, earlier than everybody else) and came rushing back to the house to exclaim that calves were in the yard — not in the shop lot, or the road, the yard of the house, i.e., inside Hunter’s Invisible Fence bailiwick which he polices with some diligence, running at the fence to scare cows away from it because they are Big and Scary and Might Hurt Mommy. So of course the dog was out for his morning constitutional when the calves managed to knock the gate from the Pond Field off its hinges and get into the shop lot, from which it’s a simple 20 yards into the yard when the shop/yard gate is open. So there were these seven confused yearling calves wandering around, and Hunter trying to herd them, and poor Bookworm trying to leave on time for work. Not that Hunter has the least idea how to herd, just (apparently) a strong instinct. And, of course, The CEO was in the shower and couldn’t help at that particular moment.

Hunter did manage to sort of round most of them up and then Taz was able to direct them back into the shop lot, because usually when cattle are being driven, they see an open gate or a break in a fence and they make for it, trying to get away from whatever’s behind them in a desperate HE MIGHT BE A PREDATOR OH LOOK A NEW FIELD WE’LL LOSE HIM IN THERE! herd mentality. Bookworm used her mad cattle-rounding skillz to direct them into the shop lot and closed that gate, then closed the gate from the lot into the road, leaving the shop lot/yard gate for Taz and me.

At this point, The CEO was hastily drying off and struggling into clothes, and Taz and I discovered that Hunter had penned one straggler into the corner of the yard farthest from the gate we wanted him to go through, and while I was trying to calm the dog down, the calf panicked and jumped over the fence into the 20-Acre Field, at first entangling his feet and then managing to get loose without hurting himself (whew). Hunter, deprived of animals to herd, was so flipped out that he raced around the yard for the next ten minutes, barking, “And stay out! You heard me! That’s your side of the fence, this is mine!”

As it turns out, that straggler that wound up in the wrong field was scheduled to be moved into that group anyway — and didn’t break his leg. Bookworm was not late for work and Taz was not late for school, and Hunter didn’t get kicked senseless, so all’s well that ends well. Shame I didn’t get any pictures.

Monday, Dec. 4: Nice-ish weather, in the upper 50s F, and not too cloudy. I am still missing what I think of as “regular December weather,” which would be a good 15 to 20 degrees cooler. Still, I got some things done: tiny strand of lights amongst the Nativity figures, some grocery and Christmas shopping, some writing, the big closet cleaned out, and firestarters made.

The Friday community project at Now Smell This this week is to wear something with patchouli. Now, y’all know me and patch are not friends. Most of the time, that is. I have identified some instances in which I don’t hate it (usually, that’s when it is really aged enough to smell herbal and mellow rather than oily and dusty). Today I’m wearing the pretty floral chypre Leonard de Leonard, which has a strong component of green, almost floral-sweet, aged patchouli. Shame this one is long gone, because it was nice. Think of a Paloma Picasso without fangs!

Tuesday, Dec. 5: Weather the same temp as yesterday, but cloudier. I hear we’re supposed to get some snow soon and I am so excited! YAAAAYYY! (Shhh, I hope The CEO didn’t hear me say that, he hates snow.) Made some more firestarters this morning and have now used up my supply of cardboard egg cartons, as my local store has started using, ick, styrofoam packaging. Oh well.

SOTD is the voluptuous Maison Francis Kurkdjian Lumiere Noire pour femme, which Denyse Beaulieu of Grain de Musc calls a “bodice-ripper of a rose.” Also noticeable in it are narcissus and a metric ton of patchouli, again the mellow aged kind I like and not the oily-dusty-abandoned-attic kind that gives me the willies.

Wednesday, Dec. 6: Errands. And Christmas crafting. And laundry. Bleagh.

SOTD was that rosy chypre bombshell L’Arte di Gucci. Yaaaaas. Gosh, L’Arte is just so so good. Sometimes I think I prefer the similar Lumiere Noire, and then I wear L’Arte again and it knocks me for a loop all over again. Such a diva.

Thursday, Dec. 7: I dragged another chunk o’ Christmas decor out of the attic: baskets, tins, linens, the stars that go with the Nativity set and the Christmas village, the Christmas books, the framed holiday art. (Still up there: artificial garland, lights, wreaths, my nutcracker collection and all the Christmas dishes and mugs. That’s a lot of work still to be done.)

My wrists this morning smelled so fabulous that I was stunned. It was, of course, the far far drydown of L’Arte di Gucci (how? I have scent-eating skin! I put on one spray of L’Arte yesterday MORNING), absolutely fabulous, and so I respritzed after my shower.

After last week’s disastrous community chorus rehearsal, it was reassuring to have a good one. Concerts are this coming Sunday and Monday.

Friday, Dec. 8: We had blowing snow this morning that did not stick around, but it was exciting to finally have some seasonally appropriate weather. I am sorta kinda participating in the NST community project by wearing the not-patchouli* Le Labo Patchouli 24, which smells like the 1860-built smokehouse behind my grandparents’ house. It’s interesting . . . but not patchouli.
* Basically, if Le Labo names the fragrance after a raw material, that’s not what it’s going to smell like. Rose 31 smells like patchouli. So does Iris 39. Tubereuse 40 smells like a citrus cologne. Fleurs d’Oranger 27 smells like orange baby aspirin. Benjoin 19 smells like amber instead of benzoin. Current hipster obsession Santal 33 smells of cedar and synthetic “woods.” The exception seems to be Aldehyde 44, which does smell like aldehydes, and which they have discontinued. Man, I hate everything about Le Labo.

Saturday, Dec. 9: Woke up to snow!

It didn’t last. By 2 pm it was melting off, but it was lovely. We cleaned house and decorated it, except for the tree, because The CEO says there’s a shortage of cut trees in the area and he doesn’t want to get one too soon anyway. Which is fine. The Nativity set and snow village have been up since last week; the garland is on the porch and the big wreath up in the 2nd story window. Stockings are hung on the banister (our mantel is in the basement family room). Nutcrackers are standing on the piano. SOTD was Organza Indecence, which I thought would be a nice spicy-vanilla to go with the cloved oranges on the hall table. However, the dusty patchouli in it, which usually sits at a level juuuust under my Ugh-o-meter, pushed the needle into the red and bugged me all day.

Sunday, Dec. 10: All during December, our church holds services at a local church building in the evening. It’s designed to give volunteers a break from setting up and tearing down (chairs, sound system, music stuff, children’s ministry room), and I get that, but I am not a fan. Sure, it’s nice to be in somebody’s Christmas-decorated sanctuary without having to move chairs for a change, but I kinda hate waiting until evening. And it often conflicts with programs or concerts being held on Sunday evenings, so that’s another reason.

This afternoon was the first of two Christmas concerts by my community chorus. The Sunday concert is usually held at the Presbyterian church in Pulaski, which has lovely high ceilings and mellow wood-paneled walls, and is an acoustical sweet spot, a really gorgeous place for a choir concert. Everything went very well today, except for the oboe soloist. (I don’t play anything woodwind, so I don’t really get it — but saxophone/clarinet player Bookworm and music educator Mom think the oboe itself was not properly warmed up, or perhaps kept warm. Shrug. It was the lone discordance in an otherwise good concert.)

SOTD was a tiny dab of Donna Karan Black Cashmere on the back of my hand, clean stony incense with benzoin. Mmm.

 

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Catching Up, Early December 2017

Yo, so I’m not dead after all.

It was a busy-ish fall, and to be honest I am sampling fewer and fewer fragrances these days anyway, so I suppose I was feeling less need to blog about them. And most of my news seems to be about the kids.

Which is fine, really. They’ve got things going on and I kinda don’t. Maybe that’s the issue. I’m still planning on applying to grad school, and I’m still struggling with the math in the review books. I’m still working on revising the same novel that’s been giving me fits for some time now, and I’m now also working on writing a new one. I think I have some wonky programming in the blog innards, as well, so that may have contributed to my don’t-wanna-deal-with-it attitude. (I’ve heard that readers find it difficult to comment sometimes, or that new posts don’t hit their feeds for some reason. I don’t know what’s going on, I just don’t. Waaah.)

But I have missed blogging, so I would like to commit to two new blog posts a week beginning this month, one of which will probably be a Scent Diary entry and one of which will be about something else, possibly scented but quite possibly not at all. Could be food or farm or writing or my (convoluted) thoughts on this pervasive issue of sexual harassment in the workplace. Or Something Completely Different. (But no buttocks. Sorry.)

So to catch up, I’ll share a “what’s going on in my life right now” update like the ones the Non-Blonde does.

* Right now, I am addicted to cheeseball consumption. Yeah. My Aunt Becky makes the BEST cheeseballs, and I do not have her recipe. This situation must be rectified. Forget cowbell, I need more cheeseball.
* Right now, I have decorated with my Nativity set, a burlap and red berries wreath on the door (no bling. too early.), and the snow village set up on the mantel but without lights as yet. No tree. Too early. No nutcrackers. Too early. I’ll get around to decorating more probably this coming weekend, but I find that I enjoy the Christmas stuff a lot less if I put it out too soon and/or leave it out too late.
* Right now, I am pleased by the job Kenneth Branagh did with bringing Murder on the Orient Express to the big screen — lushly filmed and enjoyable to watch — but also a bit disappointed by the plot changes and the absence of the tiny clues the reader had to find in the book. (Also, there is nobody Kenneth Branagh loves to direct more than Kenneth Branagh, and it’s pretty clear. Which is something of a disservice to the source material. We’re supposed to laugh at Poirot at the same time he amazes us, and you don’t get that with Ken.) In any case, see it has got me and Bookworm rereading all the early Agatha Christies we can find.
* Right now, I am enchanted by the sample of exclusive-to-Harrods and very-spendy Robert Piguet Knightsbridge I bought. It doesn’t smell exactly like the also-spendy Guerlain Charnel Elixir Floral Romantique that I like so much, but there are striking similarities: the jammy rose, the benzoin, the something-piquant-and-unusual-and-almost-gourmand (chestnut? I could swear it smelled like chestnut puree). I would like to wear more of it, but when the sample is gone it’s gone. . .
* Right now, I am engaged in crocheting chenille hats for my sister and nephews in the frozen wastelands of upper New York State. And also a pair of fingerless mitts, for me, out of some really lovely deep teal fingering yarn.
* Right now, I am thrilled that Bookworm has a job with a local materials-testing company and will be staying with us for the foreseeable future. You can follow Polymer Solutions on Facebook, if you are so inclined. They do some cool stuff.
* Right now, I am digging Hatnote, the “listen to Wikipedia” app that assigns low string notes and bell notes to various kinds of edits being made real-time to Wikipedia. It is not quite random, but has the same sort of calming effect as listening to wind chimes.

1O2A0139

* Right now, I am amused by the Intoxicated Llama sweater Gaze bought to wear for the Blacksburg Christmas parade. The Highty Tighties were supposed to wear Ugly Christmas sweaters (with boots and cadet camo pants), and this completely toasted quadruped is what he chose. Oy. That’s Gaze on the left there; pic is from the Highty Tighties’ Flickr page.
* Right now, I am kind of stunned at the muscles Taz has suddenly grown. He’s been wandering around the house bare-chested lately. You’d think  he was proud of his guns, or something. . .

Scent of the Day is vintage (i.e., discontinued) Leonard de Leonard, an elegant floral chypre I have probably mentioned a buncha times. They sure don’t make ’em like this anymore. Lots of patchouli in this, but a green and sweet and almost chewy patchouli without a bit of the fruit that would make it smell like the ubiquitous marshmallowy fruitchoulis on department store shelves. It smells like flowers and wood and moss, and also like it would slap you upside the head for suggesting you add candy to the mix.

How ’bout y’all?

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Scent Diary, Sept. 25-Oct. 1, 2017

Monday, Sept. 25 – So last night I found out that my mom, who is recovering from that surgery on her spine she had earlier in the summer, fell on Saturday as she was preparing to take the cat to a vet appointment. The cat had vomited in the hall, Mom didn’t see it, her foot hit the slippery spot and down she went, first banging her shoulder into the wall and then hitting her wrist on the floor. She’s got a wrist brace and a sling as well as some pain meds; unfortunately, it’s her right arm that’s hurt.

I spent some time making food to take to her. Simple stuff: roast beef, baked chicken, macaroni and cheese, and a stew-like casserole that involves cube steak, potatoes, carrots, onions and tomatoes.  Warm day. WHERE is my fall weather??

SOTD was Dame Perfumery Narcissus, from the Soliflore collection. It’s gorgeous, if a bit short-lived, and has that lovely dirty-floral angle that narcissus often has. Funny how much I love narcissus in perfume, especially when I’ve never been all that super-enamored of the smell of the fresh blossoms, but there it is: if there’s noticeable narcissus in it, I’m pretty much going to love it. (Exceptions: Chloe Narcisse, ew, and — surprisingly — L’Artisan’s expensive limited “Harvest” edition Fleur de Narcisse, 2006, which I found underwhelming.)

Tuesday, Sept. 26 – Hot again, upper 80s F. Bookworm and I drove down and did a few things around the house with Mom. SOTD was Le Temps d’une Fete (speaking of narcissus!). Then home and cleaning up for small group Bible study.

Wednesday, Sept. 27 — HOT. Again. Now anxiously awaiting the appearance of October and October weather. I know, I know, it’s Indian summer, but 90F is Too Much Heat for September IMHO.

For my SOTD I thought of Sonoma Scent Studio Jour Ensoleille, since the Friday project at Now Smell This is skank and JE is a lovely warm dirty jasmine/orange blossom/stable kind of scent… but y’all, it’s hot. No. I wore a smidge of Smell Bent Florist’s Fridge for exactly that experience of sticking your head inside the florist’s cooler; it’s mostly just that cool-air feeling over some flowers and greenery. Smell Bent says orchid and hyacinth, but I really just get carnation plus some nonspecific floralcy. One day I’m going to layer it next to a bit of Jacomo Silences, for some rose and additional greenery.

I wrote some, completed four loads of laundry, and mowed half the yard before worship team practice.

Thursday, Sept. 28 — SOTD was DSH Perfumes Giverny in Bloom, which is a wonderful inky-green galbanum over flowers. Warm again, but not as hot as yesterday. I got the Sorento’s oil changed, hit up the post office and the Wal-Mart (water softener salt, dog food, and Gatorade), then watched “Madagascar” during lunch. I love the penguins. “Shut that guy up!”

Then mowed the rest of the grass, which may have been a mistake because I’m now having shooting pains in my pelvic area, a symptom I’ve been seeing with increasing frequency lately. Time to go see my OB-GYN, but I couldn’t get an appointment any earlier than December. Maybe I should see my GP for the pain and find out if his office could maybe get me a referral for a quicker appointment. Had to skip choir practice this evening.

Friday, Sept. 29 – Not as hot as yesterday. Started out the day in a tiny dab of Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur for NST’s Friday project (skank, which MR is only a little bit of on me), but the gingerbread-vanilla wore on my nerves as the day warmed up and I washed it off. On to Pierre de Velay Parfum Extrait No. 11, a very classic floral chypre recipe made by Roja Dove with modern ingredients. It smells a good bit like RD’s original, limited edition eau de parfum version of Diaghilev, plus a good dash of black pepper and minus Diaghilev edp’s hilariously-weird Freshly Dry-Cleaned Velvet Stage Curtain accord. (I haven’t smelled the current parfum version of Diaghilev, which right now sells for just under $1000 [not a typo, I mean a thousand dollars] for 100ml, and which is said to be significantly different from the first version created for the Victoria and Albert Museum.)

ESPN is setting up on Alumni Mall on Virginia Tech’s campus… right next to the cadet dorms… for tomorrow’s VT-Clemson game. We decided not to drive to Roanoke for the Pulaski County-Hidden Valley football game, but that only means I have to make it to the next home game this coming week. I haven’t even seen this year’s marching band show! Doesn’t matter that I don’t have a kid in it anymore. They’re all still my band kids.

Saturday, Sept. 30 – Finally cooler weather and a rare weekend without a cross-country meet. We cleaned the house; Bookworm and The CEO went hiking up Bald Knob at Mountain Lake; I made grilled lamb steaks and roast potatoes for dinner and Bookworm made an apple pie. Yummy!  SOTD was Givenchy Organza Indecence, cinnamon-vanilla wood pudding that I know from experience smells fabulous in fall.

Then we went to our pastor’s house to watch the Virginia Tech-Clemson game on the big outdoor screen near their fire pit, which was fun until the ESPN app cut out. We went inside to try ABC instead (highlight of the evening: Taz and Bookworm sitting close to watch together). We went home at halftime, and I gave up on the game after the third quarter. We hadn’t expected Tech to win, but it was pitiful, y’all. Clemson is just that good. (Final score Clemson 24, VT 10.)

Sunday, Oct. 1 – YAY OCTOBERRRRR!!! Bring on the fall weather! SOTD was more Organza Indecence since it was so nice yesterday.

Here are the HT trombones rocking out during the Hokie Walk before the game, from the HT Flickr page (click through for link), altered with my red arrow over Gaze’s head. Those are Gaze’s hands. I KNOW THOSE HANDS. In the next pic in that album, his head is up and you can see his face. I knew it was him!

I seem to spend my Sunday afternoons skimming through the most recent Highty Tighties Flickr album, looking for Gaze. I’m often able to find him in a sea of other cadets dressed the same by recognizing the shape of his head, or his slender build. Moms are like that. I have literally said to Bookworm in the past week, “Look, there’s Gaze. I know it’s him, that’s his leg,” and then been proven right by zooming in on his face in the photo.  (I admit, though, that sometimes I have to start by looking for his trombone.)

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