Scent Diary, July 16-22, 2012

Feeding Time
Monday, July 16: HOT. Muggy. Bleargh. Cleaned up after the Bright Futures Atlanta kids’ visit (as always, a little lemonade gets spilled, and we have to put the chairs away and wash the blankets we keep on the hay wagon). Did the week’s grocery shopping and menu planning. SOTD: testing Neil Morris Seaflower on one wrist and Woodland Strawberries on the other. This may be a Neil Morris week – I have three more of his to test.

Dinner was Flounder with Crab Topping (the recipe was “Stuffed Flounder,” but did not involve any actual stuffing activity so I renamed it). Delicious, but the texture of the fish suffered – it got mushy and almost disintegrated. The recipe called for baking at 400F for 15 minutes, and that was probably too long, or at least too long for frozen fillets. (You really cannot get fresh fish this far inland unless you’re a fancy seafood restaurant and can afford to fly stuff in.) The flavors were excellent, though, and I’m probably going to try this again with a sturdier type of fish. Tilapia, maybe. Maybe cod, though the cod might overwhelm the crab flavor.

The kids watched “Night at the Museum 2” last night – the Smithsonian one, with Amy Adams as Amelia Earhart. I usually really really hate Ben Stiller, though I don’t know why. He seems like a perfectly nice guy in real life… he just sort of, well, ooks me out. Except in these Museum flicks, where he seems normal. I might have to blame his performance in “Reality Bites,” where he was super creepy. (Not that I’m an Ethan Hawke fan, either. But I do love Winona Ryder. Does that make me a Gen X cliché?) SOTE: JHaG Citizen Queen..

Tuesday, July 17 – Another hot day. My stargazer lilies have been almost completely subsumed by either the Black-Eyed Susans or the Shasta daisies. I should dig them up and replant elsewhere (and should thin out the daisies anyway). But the lilies smell wonderful anyway.

SOTD: Neil Morris Parfum d’Odette. Innnnnteresting stuff.

Wednesday, July 18 – It’s slightly cooler, slightly less humid, but not enough to make things comfortable outside. Wrote two blog posts and worked on a story in the morning, and then sewed a little bit on a cotton dress for Bookworm. SOTD: testing Neil Morris Le Parfum d’Ida on one wrist, Moulin Rouge on the other.

Thursday, July 19 – Errands. And the boys are arguing. And Bookworm is sick, so I took her to the doctor to see why this little cough she’s had since I picked her up at drum major camp last week has not abated. Turns out she’s got bronchitis, and because it’s getting worse instead of better, she’s on antibiotics. SOTD: Neela Vermeire Bombay Bling, which is niiiiice. Emphatically fruity, but in, yes, that exuberant, unapologetically fun Bollywood style.

Friday, July 20 – Rain off and on. We did some of the normal Saturday house-cleaning, so my nephew Doodlebug could stay the night. SOTD: NM Le Parfum d’Odette again. Nice. Reread Joshilyn Jackson’s Between, Georgia, which is very good but still my least favorite of her books. (Bookworm liked it far, far better than gods in Alabama, which does have some… difficult material in it. Like unpunished murder, for example.)

Slept in Tabac Aurea. Yum.

Saturday, July 21 – Hot muggy day. We did some laundry and more house-cleaning, and my sister arrived to spend the night with us. SOTD: By Kilian Sweet Redemption. PETBoy came over to work on plans for directing the marching show and stayed most of the day; then The CEO, Gaze, and Doodlebug went to a Salem Red Sox game while Taz read books. We tried the crab-topped fish again with tilapia, and the tilapia stayed relatively firm. Yum.

My sister A, Bookworm, and I watched “Much Ado About Nothing,” the Kenneth Branagh-directed version, on ancient videotape and then talked about literature studies in public schools in the 1970s and ’80s versus today. A and I read a whoooooole lot of depressing literature in English classes, and Bookworm was appalled. Seems there was a great deal of paranoid/ fatalistic/ doomsday material in vogue then. Anybody remember “To Serve Man”? Or “The Lottery”? Lord of the Flies, anybody? Then we appalled A by informing her that Bookworm’s 8th grade English class studied the fantastically-mind-numbing Twilight.

I KNOW. I KNOW. It’s admirable to try to bring literature alive to preteens and young teens by studying a pop culture phenomenon, but Twilight is like crack for the brain, except less enjoyable. What a good thing that now English teachers can focus on The Hunger Games instead. I shocked A by telling her that I think The Hunger Games series is at least on a par with the Harry Potter series, if not even more significant. She hasn’t read THG, and I think she’s been negatively influenced by the love-triangle aspect, which is not even the point of the thing… or maybe she’s only seen the movie ads. Well, she’s missing out. But then, she’s not an insane reader like I am, and I don’t know that she’s read a lot of literature new to her since she finished college, with the exception of the aforementioned Harry Potter novels.

(Or so I hear about the crack. I mean, I know nobody’s going to believe me, but I’ve never misused a pharmaceutical, legal or not. Not only have I never inhaled, I don’t even know what pot smells like.)

I stayed up too late talking. “Much Ado About Nothing” is still terrific. The acting in it, with the exception of Keanu Reeves – before A or I said anything, Bookworm volunteered that “you could hammer nails into him, he’s that wooden,” – is uniformly excellent. I’d forgotten how good Robert Sean Leonard is, because I didn’t like him in “Dead Poets Society,” much preferring Josh Charles. And Denzel Washington is wonderful.

Well, okay, maybe Kate Beckinsale is a little stiff. But she was all of maybe 18 when this was filmed. And she’s gorgeous in it, as dewy as fresh flowers. And some of the staging is dumb: at the wedding, Claudio knocks over a pole adorned with flowers, and without explanation all of the decorative poles go down? Please. But my favorite part is where, after exchanging heated witty insults through several scenes with Beatrice, Benedick says to her, “I do love nothing in the world so well as you. Is that not strange?”

Sunday, July 22 – Another hot muggy day – but, as my sister points out, “It’s cooler than Texas.” It’s only in the upper 80s here. SOTD: Ines de la Fressange, the first one, from 1999. The fruity floral one. Yeah, yeah… before you sneer, I’ll point out that a fruity floral is as appropriate in summer as raspberry lemonade is. If it’s done well, it can be lighthearted and enjoyable and fun. This one is done well. (Hmm, I’ve never done a formal review of it. I should.)

I took Gaze to enter two of his photographs in the county fair. His “Dogwood Blossom” really stood out from where it was hanging on the wall, but of course officials hadn’t closed out entries when we submitted his. They’re judging today, so we should be able to find out the results tomorrow.

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14 thoughts on “Scent Diary, July 16-22, 2012”

  1. Good luck to Gaze with his photographs! Hope Bookworm is feeling better after being on antibiotics. “you could hammer nails into him, he’s that wooden,” OMGosh, she’s sharp and witty! You’ve got great kids! “Much Ado About Nothing” is such a good movie. I could watch it over and over again. It’s interesting to hear what books are being read for literature in your kids’ schools. I certainly would not call “Twilight” literature. By the way, I completely understood “crack for the brain” to be an expression. In no way did I think you might have ever tried such a horrendous drug. Hope you get some relief from the heat and humidity.

    1. I haz grate kidz. I do.

      “Much Ado” is so much FUN. They do a great job of making Shakespeare really watchable, don’t they?

      Twilight is, seriously, just a bag o’chips. Junk food. Some friends and I were having a FB conversation about the smell of marijuana and nobody believed that I don’t know what it smells like – but I really, really don’t. Didn’t even run across it at college.

  2. I feel like I read a lot of depressing literature in school in the late 90s. My freshmen year in high school, we read Lord of the Flies and then I also remember the horribly depressing and not very good Flowers for Algernon – uck.

    So the kids these days are reading more uplifting things?

    1. Oh, man, Flowers for Algernon was depressssssssing.

      I don’t know that things are all THAT much better – Bookworm’s class read The Outsiders (which I personally love) in 7th grade and then the 11th grade AP class read To Kill a Mockingbird. I don’t know what else they’ve read (there were so few textbooks for her 10th grade English class that they had to stay in the classroom, and I never lay eyeballs on them).

  3. I thought you might like Bombay Bling! I found the drydown delicious.

    Re: Robert Sean Leonard: You must not watch House!

    That Twilight news really is appalling. At least the more boring books I had to read in junior high were classics….

    1. Bombay Bling is really nice. Fun stuff… and surprise, surprise, I actually liked Trayee as well. Can’t find my Mohur sample, though. Hmm.

      RSL is on House, huh? I admit to having seen House a couple of times, and I love Hugh Laurie, but I just didn’t connect with it. (Honestly, the only TV I watch regularly is The Big Bang Theory.)

      Argh, Twilight. I mean, once I knew that she was going to read it, I made sure to read it first, because it *isn’t* a classic. I didn’t find it objectionable, and it is at heart a squishy little teenage Harlequin romance. But literature? NOPE. HECK NO.

  4. Love “Much Ado About Nothing,” and Denzel gets my vote for classiest turn in the piece, but I love Benedik and Beatrice’s sniping. So much fun. I wanted to rewatch another film with Brannagh and Thompson, Dead Again, but cannot find it anywhere, and it was great fun. There was this sensual scene of him washing her hair. . .

    Totally agree about depressing literature in school. Lord of the Flies, check. Flowers for Algernon, check. 1984. Oh, and A Canticle for Lebowitz–made me weep hysterically! It was the early 80s and dystopian fiction was supposed to reach out to the dishenchanted youth, I guess. Wow. I thought all real literature had to be depressing, because after those winners I moved on to Hemingway and Faulkner. . .heck, Charles Dickens was not a barrel of laughs. I sought refuge in sci-fi and fantasy. Still found dystopian themes there, but occasionally, someone rose above the morass of despair.

    Hopefully, someone out there will find books to engage readers, and make them laugh or charm them. Several librarian friends bring me the YA reading lists, and I like YA fiction. More adventures, often zombie and/or vampire slaying fests, certainly stronger female protagonists. The macabre seems common. Wonder why we as a culture have such a fascination with those themes now? Why are we so attracted to those stories of vampires, ghosts, demons, zombies, magic and mayhem? Just wondering. Sorry to ramble!

    Best wishes to Gaze and his photos, do keep us posted, and hope Bookworm feels better, soonest. Stay glad it’s not as hot as Texas there 😀

    1. Yeah, Denzel turns in a solid performance there. (And looks goooooood. Man, he’s handsome.) I still think that Keanu is the best-looking bad actor ever to have a Hollywood career, bar none. Errol Flynn comes close, but still. I like Keanu if he stands there and says very little, but he went a long way to almost ruining Much Ado, if you ask me.

      I LOVED DEAD AGAIN! I actually have it on videotape somewhere in this house, where I taped it off TV about 15 years ago. Great film.

      1984, yes. And we read Fahrenheit 451, too, which is that dystopian stuff but at LEAST that one ends with a sprinkling of hope. (I’m fond of Bradbury, may he rest in peace.) Canticle for Lebowitz I’m not familiar with, though. My junior term paper was The Sound and the Fury, which is fairly impenetrable for a 17-year-old, but at least worth reading. I didn’t get to Hemingway until I got to college and could at least handle the emotional deadness —

      Oh wait. I did read The Old Man and the Sea in high school. And a lot of Eudora Welty, too, who can also be depressing. And Willa Cather. You know, this is awful: just thinking about all these stories/novels for HS reading lists is making me feel heavy in the chest. Grrr.

      I’m not all that familiar with the whole genre of YA, because it’s starting to splinter these days too. It sure ain’t Sweet Valley High or Couples anymore, is it? And maybe that’s a good thing, but I’m not sure vampires is an improvement.

      I went through a stage of being fascinated with what my mother called “the occult”: books about witches and magic and strange beings. And yet, I’m at least relatively normal…

  5. Much Ado is great. Dead againg is great. Keanu is not so great.
    You’ve got me thinking I might want to make fish for supper tonight.
    I barely remember my high school reading lists. They were that interesting. I remember Brave New World, and My Name is Asher Lev only because I never read them and kinda faked my way through my book reports on them. Hearing that they want kids to read twilight is a bit depressing. I hope the Bella in the books has more personality than the one in the movies. I’ve read the Harry Potter books but can’t see myself reading Twilight. I suppose I’d read The Hunger Games but I won’t go out and buy them anytime soon. I’m so behind on my reading as it is. I have a ton of books waiting on my Kindle.

    1. Aww, c’mon… Keanu is great if he just stands there and looks pretty! (Otherwise, I agree.)

      You know, I read Brave New World, but I can’t remember if I read them in class or out. I was always reading something, so I get fuzzy on whether I read a particular book or story because it was on the list, or whether I just picked it up. (There was one summer I practically lived at the library.)

      And no. Sadly, Movie-Bella has *more* personality than Book-Bella. The books in general are better than, at least, the first Twilight movie, but the narrator-Bella-character is dulllllllll. IMO.

      You might want to check your library for The Hunger Games sometime when you get the opportunity and you’ve caught up on your Kindle – I do think it’s worth reading. The third book may have been rushed to publication; it’s got all the HECK kindsa holes in it, and the author slips out of story mode into anti-war lecture mode… but still. It’s literature, where Twilight is not.

      I have been seriously considering a Kindle, now that you can get the cheapie one at Amazon for $80. I may ask for one for Christmas. Likely to be a pain since we don’t have wifi (but when I mentioned that fact to my engineer/tech-head brother-in-law, he got a Look in his Eye, so we may get a wifi router from him and E for Christmas as well). We’ll see. ANYWAY, if you don’t mind my asking, which Kindle do you have, and how do you use it, and do you like it?

      1. I have one of the older ones. I think mine is a 2nd generation Kindle. Hubby got it for me as a surprise and then 6 months or so after they dropped the darn price on it. Mine has 3G so you don’t need a wifi network. We didn’t have wifi when we got it so it was great to be able to use it anywhere. I really like it. I got hubby the Kindle Fire and he loves it but he uses it more for internet stuff like checking sports scores and reading ESPN updates. He also reads the newspaper on it so it works well for his purposes. I use my iPad for that kind of stuff but I prefer reading on my kindle because it’s not backlit like a computer screen. Well I guess I read a lot on the iPad too now that I think of it but not many books. Cookbooks are tough on a regular kindle, I prefer those on my iPad.

        1. Thanks for the info! I have a question, though, because I Iz Dumb: don’t you have to have a data plan for your mobile phone to make the 3G thing work?

          ‘Cause I don’t have a data plan. I have a landline phone and a prepaid Tracfone. Bookworm has a prepair US Cellular phone, and The CEO has a monthly US Cellular plan with talk/text only, no data.

  6. It is strange, that although your world is so utterly different to mine, you have the language to make your daily life compelling, immediate, and beautiful. I am about to do a mango Bombay Bling review but am in the Japanese ‘summer seminar’ (god these people are sado/masochists, the kids have NO free time) ,and can’t quite get my act together. will check to see what you say about it but how could anyone deny that it is delicious, at the beginning at least.

    1. Thank you, Neil – how kind of you!

      I’ll be doing a mini-review and not a full one of Bombay Bling, probably later this week, but I’ll look forward to reading your review. You’re right, “delicious” seems just right.

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