Scent Diary, Jan. 14-20, 2012

Well, finally, Scent Diary returns. Can’t really explain why it took a hiatus, except that writing it was boring me to tears and then when you stop writing it for several days you can’t go back and remember what went on… so I just picked up again on a Monday, and now it’s back.  BTW, all photos except the hot chocolate one (which has a Flickr link) are mine.

Snow Jan 2013Monday, Jan. 14 – Wet, raining buckets. If it were colder, we’d be getting snow. We’ve had warmer-than-usual temperatures all winter, and I for one do not like it. The CEO’s happy; the warmer weather is easier on cattle since they don’t have to eat constantly to keep their body temperatures up. But I like my couple of months of cold weather. I was a kid in the 1970s, which was one of the coldest decades of that century, and of course cold winters seem normal to me. SOTD: Guerlain Metallica, which I see that I have never reviewed… it’s nice. I have a decant.

Tuesday, Jan. 15 – Wet, still raining buckets. SOTD: Jacomo Silences edp Sublime. I like it a lot; it reminds me of Chanel No. 19 in the current edp version. (Well, I say current. It’s not available in the US, but I ran across it in the Rome airport Duty Free shop when we went to Malta in 2010, and I spritzed some on both times we were there. I don’t even know if Chanel still makes it or not, but I found it far preferable to the current edt, which seems thin and sharp.) It lasted very well through my eye appointment, the first in about six years.

Regarding that checkup: my eyes are in good health, but I have a small amount of myopia in addition to the age-related close-up focusing problem that has been annoying the pants off me for at least three months now. So my prescription is for, get this, bifocals. Gah. I won’t have to wear them all the time, but for any task where I’m reading and doing something else at the same time (say, cooking from a new recipe, or crocheting on the couch while watching TV). Bleah. In any case, I went ahead and ordered my new glasses, thin metal frames with no rim on the bottom of the lenses. I rather like them.

The other fragrance that new Silences reminds me of is Deneuve, so I pulled that out once the Silences wore off and wore it.

Wednesday, Jan. 16 – Wet. Still raining buckets. SOTD: Chanel No. 19. Wearing this, and discussing it with friends on Facebook, made me want to get out all the green-floral-almost-chypres I know and test like side by side on my arm, so I could run my nose up and down my arm as if it were a smell-harmonica. Weird, I know. But wearing Silences edp Sublime yesterday made me think of No. 19 EdP, which I don’t own (and which is d/c at least in the US, though they had it at the Rome airport Duty-Free in 2010). And I was also thinking of L’Eau de Chloe, Deneuve, and Silences. Oh, and AG Heure Exquise as well. Very similar compositions those.

Not feeling so awesome today. After dinner (yummy leftover pasta), I took a bath and went to bed. SOBedtime: Shalimar Light.

Thursday, Jan. 17 – Wet. Supposed to snow later today as temperatures drop. The CEO snurfled my neck this morning and said, “What are you wearing? You smell smoky.” SEEEE? Shalimar, even Shali Lite, SMELLS LIKE WOODSMOKE. On me, anyway. SOTD, post-shower: Black Cashmere.

Poor Bookworm is driving herself crazy with the statistics for her Science Fair Project. Each Virginia Governor’s School student must prepare one, and it’s a grade. Last year was bad enough, but this year she’s supposed to do something different with her survey statistics and she says she doesn’t understand how to interpret them. The snow will prevent her from going to school tomorrow to use the school computers, so I’ll have to download the software so she can do it here.

It did snow – we got maybe 6-7 inches! It was supposed to continue snowing through the night, but it had stopped by 8pm. More Black Cashmere for bedtime.

Hayley and kids Jan 2013Friday, Jan. 18 – Snow on the ground, sun in the sky. It’s lovely. The boys were up early to put on snow gear and go out into the pasture behind the house, where there’s a slope that’s good for sledding. The dog was absolutely beside herself with joy. She likes to roll around in snow, and she loves playing with the kids, and both at once is her personal (canine-al?) idea of heaven. Neighbor kid, Makayla, came over to sled as well, so there were plenty of people for Hayley to chase around.

Bookworm was feeling sorry for herself this morning at breakfast: beautiful snow she doesn’t have time to play in, and this Science Fair project that she hates is driving her crazy, and she wishes she had never done Governor’s School in the first place, and if high school is driving her crazy how is she going to manage college? Poor baby. The CEO spent some time commiserating about Science Fair and talking to her about the benefits of taking the hard classes now and getting used to what will be expected from her in college, and I think it helped. Eventually, she did go outside and sled for about an hour, and it seemed to do her good.

Bookworm sleddingSOTM: Vintage Coty L’Aimant PdT. After lunch, performed all manner of embarrassing beauty rituals, such as coloring my hair (I am getting a few gray hairs here and there, but mostly what bothers me is the way my hair goes a dull light brown in the winter and takes color away from my face) and neatening my brows. Showered. SOTA: Antonio Visconti Alhambra, a sample sent by a friend. I know very little about the line and the few notes I remember from looking up the fragrance online include classic florals on an oriental base. It’s got some nice orange blossom and rose and a raspy, Shalimar-like opoponax/vanilla vibe.

Picked up my new bifocals today. I’m getting used to them. My sister-in-law E and her kids are visiting her mom, so they all came over to have dinner with us.

Saturday, Jan. 19 – Still snow on the ground but a clear sky. My niece and nephew came over and played in the snow with the boys and Makayla. They made a snowball five feet tall and then had to quit because they couldn’t roll it anymore, and after that my nephew Curiosity made a snow chair, complete with ottoman, side table, and cup holder… so of course he had to come up to the house and ask for a cup of hot chocolate to PUT in the cup holder! It amused me no end. SOTD: Organza Indecence.

The CEO took Bookworm to a track meet today. She was only running one event, the mile, and she hadn’t run that since she was a freshman! She placed 10th, not fabulous, but decent. Her time was maybe 6-7 seconds slower than she’d wanted, but it was a PR for her.

I ran out of the prepackaged hot cocoa mix packets, so I dug around and found a recipe for my own. Here it is, adapted from Alton Brown’s recipe:

Hot Chocolate
Hot Cocoa Mix

2 cups powdered sugar (I didn’t have any, having finished the bag making icing for my birthday cake last week, so I threw 2 cups of granulated in the blender and spun it around for about twenty seconds. That makes it “superfine” and more dissolvable. Works just great.)

1 cup cocoa (Alton recommends Dutched cocoa, but I didn’t have any of that either. The Hershey’s Dark cocoa I had on hand worked just fine.)

2 cups powdered milk

½ cup dry coffee creamer (I had plain, but you could probably use flavored if you want)

1 tsp salt

2 tsp cornstarch (optional, I didn’t use it)

Mix all ingredients together and store in jars. (Alton also recommends a pinch of cayenne pepper, which Bookworm and I would probably like, but I left it out because Taz and The CEO don’t really care for spice heat.) To prepare, spoon 2-3 heaping tablespoons into a mug and add 6-8 ounces of hot, not boiling, water. Stir thoroughly and top with mini-marshmallows if you wish.

We made so many mugs of hot cocoa that I RAN OUT of clean mugs!! All 13 of them (yeah, I have a lot of mugs) wound up in the sink or the dishwasher.

Sunday, Jan. 20 – Good church service today. SOTD: Dior Dolce Vita edt. I sold the bottle I had because I just wasn’t wearing it often, but some kind soul sent me a 2ml sample. I do still have two tiny 5ml parfum bottles – so pretty, and the juice is incredibly rich.

Bookworm discovered that she had a crucial error in her raw data, so she and The CEO spent most of the day correcting the error and re-running her statistics tests. The boys and I went to see my parents, who’d wanted to have us over to celebrate my birthday. Mom fed us turkey breast, broccoli with cheese sauce, re-stuffed potatoes, strawberry pretzel salad, fresh rolls, and scalloped apples, with chocolate cake for dessert. YUM. We Skyped with my brother in Florida and then my sister in Texas. (My brother-in-law is due back from Afghanistan sometime in the 1st or 2nd week of February, and my sister will be SO GLAD to have him home.)

On the drive home, I discovered an absolutely delicious smell clinging to the sleeves of my leather jacket, which I hadn’t worn in several days at least. Couldn’t identify it at first, which was frustrating because it smelled so wonderful. But finally it came to me: a bit of Cuir de Lancome, plus some Amouage Memoir Woman. So when we got home, I spritzed a bit of each. Wow, it was fabulous!

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Scent Diary, October 29 – November 4, 2012

See? SNOW. In October. Granted, wimpy snow, but still, SNOW.

Monday, Oct. 29 – We did get some inclement weather, thanks to Hurricane Sandy: some snow (blowing, not sticking), some rain, lots of wind. I kept expecting to lose power, because we frequently do (mountains are full of trees, ya know, and trees lose limbs, and limbs fall on power lines), but it may be that we already lost all the vulnerable tree limbs during the derecho earlier in the year, or Appalachian Power Co already did the necessary maintenance on getting tree limbs away from the power lines. Electricity is out in several of the surrounding areas.Doing a “frankenfume” – a layering experiment with the loudest perfumes one owns, proposed by a friend on my Facebook perfume group – with vintage Dior Poison and the similarly-freaky Tableau de Parfums Loretta. Whoa. People can probably smell me in town, three miles away.

Working on helping Bookworm edit her college application essays. Grrrrr. She’s so exhausted – I wish all her extracurriculars would end soon. At least she got to stay home from school today.

Tuesday, Oct. 30 – Another Hurricane Sandy day, with wind and rain. I’m planning for a semi-historical novel for NaNoWriMo – set here in a nearby town, beginning in the early 1930s and continuing to follow the same family into the 60s. SOTD: vintage Bellodgia “parfum de cologne”, which is really lovely, decant sent to me by a generous friend.  Continue reading Scent Diary, October 29 – November 4, 2012

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Scent Diary, October 22-28, 2012

grandma's perfume collection

Monday, Oct. 22 – Took Gaze to the doctor – he’s been getting these awful headaches and throwing up, but not in a pattern which would suggest a stomach bug. Doctor thinks perhaps migraine. We’re going to cut out nitrites (bacon!) and see if that has an effect. Poor Gaze is bummed about no bacon. SOTD: Amouage Ubar, the newer release. Several of my friends in a Facebook perfume-head group raaaaave over vintage Ubar, and I think it’s lovely but it doesn’t really make me swoon. I actually prefer the rerelease, which is strongly floral where the older one was more woody. That’s me, the Floral Gal.

Tuesday, Oct. 23 – A surprisingly warm day, in the middle 70s today. Cleaned up the sewing room, which was quite a mess – I’m very untidy when I sew – and Bookworm’s room, which I would normally leave to her to do, but she’s sooo busy. The child is barely getting six hours of sleep a night. SOTD: Cuir de Lancome. Love the stuff, especially in fall.

Wednesday, Oct. 24 – Not feeling so great today. Cleaned out fridge, finished cleaning out Bookworm’s closet, wrote some, planned a little for the new novel I’m going to start next week when NaNoWriMo begins. SOTD: testing various things, none of which are really pleasing me. Continue reading Scent Diary, October 22-28, 2012

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Scent Diary, October 1-7, 2012

 

Happy 12th birthday to Taz!!

This has been a terribly boring week. The laptop has behaved, but now the desktop computer is being strange…

Monday, Oct. 1 – Rain. SOTD: Soivohle Centennial.. Did the usual weekly grocery shopping… holy cow, Taz will be twelve this Friday! Gaze was supposed to have a football game this afternoon, but rain has delayed it to next week.

Tuesday, Oct. 2 – Rain in the morning again, gradually clearing up toward afternoon. SOTD: PdN Vanille Tonka. VT was one of the very first niche scents I fell for, in early 2009, and I still love it. The CEO went out of town this evening in order to do a presentation for the Agricultural Technology program at Virginia Tech, so he was gone and I watched Something That Was Not Football on TV. Made chocolate chip cookies after dinner, too.

Wednesday, Oct. 3– Sunny. Finally made it to the salon to get that haircut I’ve been needing for a couple-three weeks now! Got a longish shag which I don’t like much… it’s too flat. And dull. Should I color?? SOTD: Carthusia Lady, from a sample. I’m a little on the fence with it, but will discuss further in a mini-review.

Gaze was late getting out of football practice and Bookworm was having a how-can-I-get-all-this-homework-done? panic, so we skipped small group tonight, and I missed it. There was going to be a bonfire. SOTE: Deneuve.

Thursday, Oct. 4 – Nice weather today! Beautiful fall. SOTD: Tabac Aurea, the epitome of autumn for me. Good rehearsal at community choir, too. I am kind of getting sick of testing new stuff… I want to just wear and enjoy my standbys. I’m not bored at all with perfume, but I want to have fun with it instead of analyzing the heck out of it. Sigh. This feeling comes and goes.

If I goop up my hair with gel and curl it a bit, it’s much more attractive. More work, too, but since my hair looks awful when it’s flat, I suppose I’ll keep doing it.

 

Tuba Dakota running around hugging EVERYBODY and mugging for the camera. The kid has so much fun, it should be illegal. PETBoy is a tolerant soul, isn’t he?
Friday, Oct. 5 – Brrrr. Chilly today. I did some cleaning and some laundry. It’s Taz’s birthday; he turns twelve today. I am having a hard time encompassing all the time that’s gone by since he was born… sigh.  SOTD: I’m testing some new Micallefs.

Chaperoned the band to one of our few Away games that we don’t have to travel far for. The team we played tonight was runner-up for state champion last year in our size division, so we were expecting to lose big. Instead, we won, 17-14. Surprise! The band did not perform a pregame show because it was Recreational League Recognition night, so the kids just wore their official warmups instead of uniforms. I think they enjoyed not having to worry about keeping uniforms clean, especially since they’ll be spending most of the day in them tomorrow for competition. SOTE:Organza Indecence. I smell nice.

 

The tubas escort the “tied-up” color guard across the field. Note the color guard member (it’s PETBoy’s sister Haley) in borrowed band uniform. She’s going to “cut” the color guard loose in a moment, so that they can escape to begin the mutiny.
Saturday, Oct. 6 – Cloudy at home. Got up early, cleaned house, grabbed quick lunch for myself and Bookworm on the way to the high school, where she had been taking SATs. SOTD: Vanille Tonka again, and it lasted most of the day – which is good, because the day was looooong. Another marching band competition today. We got there too early and then had delays getting on the field, so Bookworm was sort of going crazy with all that time on her hands and no way to spend it doing physics homework. It was hot in the afternoon, followed by chilly-windy weather, and the concession stand was mobbed… I stood in line 28 minutes and moved forward about six feet; I think the kids ahead of me kept letting their buddies cut in line. Eventually I gave up, and after the competition we went for fast food on the way home.

 

PETBoy prepares to spin the “ship’s wheel” attached to the drum major’s podium, near the end of the show.
The show went well; some new elements were added that add to the effect, and the music was better than it was at the last competition, but the marching was a little sloppy. I don’t know why. We came in second (a very close second, apparently, according to the score sheets) overall in our size class, but won percussion, color guard, and general effect. Three more competitions this season…

I had some vintage Caron Poivre (Thanks, Daisy!) in a little spray bottle in my purse, so I spritzed some of that to help on the chilly ride home, which was punctuated by Dakota the ADHD trumpet player’s constant talking. Constant loud talking. He may have been due for another Adderall dose, or maybe it was the large chocolate milkshake he had for dinner, but the kid Would. Not. Shut. Up. And I did have to break up a too-cozy couple, too – PDA is frowned upon by both the director and myself, so I did manage to tell Alex and Becka to keep it appropriate. Alex is a section leader and should know better, but he is also a teenage boy.

In bed by 1:30 a.m. Exhausted.

Sunday, Oct. 7 – Chilly-cloudy again. Looks like our lovely autumn weather is over – it’s getting down to upper 30s at night and not getting above 65 in the afternoons all this coming week. SOTD: Parfum Sacre. Which seemed sort of faint to me, and I wonder if the weather was affecting my nose. Nothing had much of a smell at all.

In the afternoon, we had family members over for birthday cake and presents. It’s been nice to celebrate both boy birthdays on the weekend between the two, when that’s possible. Taz requested red velvet cake, so we had cake and punch and ice cream. Yum.

SOBedtime, after bath: B&BW Velvet Tuberose body cream. Still nice stuff. I like the fragrance better in the bath products than in the EdTs.

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We Won't Forget, 2011

Veterans’ Day, 2011
 
To my dad, who served in the US Navy in peacetime
 
To my brother-in-law Bob, who served in the US Army in Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and returned this past January from a stint in Afghanistan
 
To my friend Army Lt. Terry Plunk, who died clearing landmines in the Gulf War
 
To all those who gave their lives for their country
To all those who served
To all those who are serving now
To all those who will serve in the future
And to their families
 
My deep and heartfelt thanks.
 

 Photo is Arlington National Cemetery, by RuthannOC at flickr

(This is a recap of a post from Veteran’s Day, 2009.  It’s still true.)

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Gaze and the Magic Whiteboard

Breaking news: I bought a new whiteboard recently. I put it on the fridge, so we can use it to write notes to each other, because some of us are developing teenager schedules and are not here all the time.

First, it looked something like this, complete with two round magnets and a black pen:

After Gaze saw it, it looked like this:

I said it was cheerful.

The next morning, when I saw it, it looked like this:

I rolled my eyes.  West Virginia jokes being a common form of humor in this place, I’ve heard a lot of them.  (My favorite:  Why don’t West Virginians eat a lot of M&Ms?  Too hard to peel.)

Shortly after he got home from school that day, the whiteboard looked like this:


I laughed. “Very clever,” I said.

And the next day, it looked like this:
And then, this:                                                           And this:

 

 

 

 

And now, this:


I have the uncomfortable feeling that I may have created a monster. (A really funny one. But still.)

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Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am not, technically, Irish.  Nor am I Catholic, and saints’ days don’t have much significance for me in the traditional way. 

 But at least some of my ancestors came to America the hard way, on ships with sails, in the mid-18th century.   They landed in Philadelphia and worked their way south down the long valleys, looking for land they could make their own.  They found it in Southwest Virginia, and they settled.  Got married – to Scots and Germans and English and other Irish – and had children and grandchildren.

At least one branch of the family was casual about religion in Ireland, changing from Catholic to Protestant and back, depending on the political situation.  Another branch was Protestant before they left Ireland.  But all of them seemed to have gone whole-hog Protestant in Virginia.

 I don’t have a single Catholic relative (unless you count the lapsed-Catholic brother-in-law).  And we’re all what I like to call “standard Colonial mix,” that mid-Atlantic blend of Scots and Irish and English and German, with a bit of Welsh and Dutch thrown in.  That’s us: Daughertys and Powerses and Strawns, most of us fair and freckled and blue-eyed, or Black Irish dark.

 They came here for many reasons, according to family lore and genealogical research: Overcrowding.  Too many sons, not enough land.  Religious oppression.  Having lost their land to an English lord.  Enterprising spirits.  Escaping judicial punishment.  Simple poverty.  And they all wound up here, in the little corner of Virginia that’s as hilly as Ireland, and nearly as green.  It must have seemed like a little piece of home to them.

 I raise a glass to them, on the day people are proud to be Irish.  Slainte! 

Photo courtesy of pdphoto.org.

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Scent Diary, Feb. 7-13, 2011

Monday, Feb. 7: Chilly but not unbearably so today. SOTD: To go with my pearls and apple-green sweater, I wore Climat. I might like it best for the first hour, when it’s all green galbanum and cool white flowers, and yet you sense the civetty warmth lurking underneath.

Received a cheapie eBay purchase in the mail today. I found a mention on a blog of an inexpensive fragrance that, to the blogger, mimics a pricey scent that I just adore, and which I only have a small decant of. I spritzed on the smell-alike and laughed out loud: it reminds me not only of the one the blogger mentioned, but also of a newer fragrance, also upscale. I may do a comparative review later, and I’ll mention names then. There is an essential cheapness to the smell-alike, and the resemblance to the Expensive Niche Thing only lasts about fifteen minutes or so, after which the resemblance to the Upscale Moderately-expensive Thing (which I did not love) takes over. However, the scale of Fun: Cost is probably greater than the last experience I had at the movie theater. (I took Bookworm to see “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I.” The movie wasn’t bad, but the people sitting in front of us were up and down and up and down the aisle every eight minutes on average, and the doors at the back of this elderly theater let in light and noise, and the movie viewing was no better – and maybe less enjoyable – than watching a DVD at home on our 19” TV screen, with the lights on and people demanding food… Grrrr.) So, anyway, I’m working on a Fragrance Throwdown for this scent.

Tuesday, Feb. 3: The CEO’s bottle of Acqua di Gio is getting low, so he asked me to find him something new, “something that makes you want to nuzzle me,” he said. I’ve got a few samples of (so-called) masculine fragrances for him to try, and we’ll see how they go.

Wednesday, Feb. 2: SOTMorning: Parfumerie Generale L’Oiseau de Nuit, which was quite nice, if a bit derivative – it reminds me of Shalimar for some time. Eventually it develops that resiny-balsamy thing that I hate so much, and that I cannot quite identify. (Great name, though.)

SOTAfternoon: Alahine. Yum. Started a new small group Bible study this evening; I hope it continues to be as good as it started.

Bad news on the masculine fragrance front: I really liked Encre Noire, but The CEO tried it today, and commented that it smelled like smoke to him. “What, like you’ve been smoking?” I asked. “No, like woodsmoke. I don’t want to smell like woodsmoke.” It wasn’t at all like that on me, but SSS Winter Woods was, and that’s not a comfortable situation: to smell as if you are becoming ham.

His further comment: Hugo by Hugo Boss is off the list too. “This smells like old guys,” he said.

Thursday, Feb. 3: It snowed last night, all of half an inch, and school was closed today. I’m still baffled. I know that this was supposed to be an early-release day for parent-teacher conferences, but I’m so annoyed by the hit-or-miss scheduling. Temps got up to 36F today, so the snow was gone by 11 am. Grrr.

I started out thinking I should wear something new and review it, so I pulled out a tiny bottle of DSH Perfumes Cielle and put it on. It was ethereally pretty for half an hour, and then I couldn’t smell it anymore, so I gave in and just wore Mary Greenwell Plum. I’ll get back to Cielle in the springtime; it’s a very nice jasmine.

Went to bed in Shalimar Light, re-reading Elizabeth George’s “advice to authors” book, Write Away, which really is wonderful. I must get back to revising my NaNo novel… but first, I have to clean out the family room and paint it. Like, this week.

Friday, Feb. 4: Hard frost outside. No school due to more parent-teacher conferences – I didn’t need those this grading period, everybody came home with all A’s. I’m a little disappointed with the “effort” grades on Taz’ report card; apparently he’s figured out how to make decent grades without trying very hard.

SOTD: PG Bois Blond. A real weirdie, here – I’m not sure whether I like it or not, because it changes frequently. I went through several stages with it (and sprayed it again after the first drydown, just to experience it again). First, I don’t like it at all; it’s medicinal/herbal/cold galbanum green, very bitter. Then it goes slightly chemical for about five minutes (bleah) before turning grassy and sweet, and I like it. Then it goes away for awhile, and I can’t say if I like it because I can’t really smell it. Then it’s back, and I can’t identify it, and I don’t particularly care for that part either – is there patchouli in this? Finally, it comes up a lovely lightweight amber, and I like it again. Very wack. I don’t remember another PG fragrance being so schizophrenic.

Saturday, Feb. 12: Cleaning up the house again… again again. Trying to clear out the crap from the family room so that we can paint… it’s a rare warm day, but it’s low 40s and windy, so it feels colder than 42F. On the other hand, we have sunshine, which feels amazingly good. Stayed unscented most of the day, but in the evening, put on Organza Indecence. Gosh, that’s good stuff.

Sunday, Feb. 13: Warm and sunny today, in the 50s. Went to my parents’ house after church for a big family lunch. It was supposed to be in honor of my brother’s and his wife’s birthdays, but it turned out they couldn’t drive the five hours from Richmond, so the get-together turned out to be in honor of my brother-in-law, just back from Afghanistan, and a farewell lunch for him and my sister and their son, before their little family moves to Ft. Hood, TX this coming week. SOTD: FM Iris Poudre. Lovely.

I don’t even want to talk about how much I’ll miss my sister, a person I spent about fourteen years of my life, from age 5 until 19, trying to ignore, but who has turned out to be a truly wonderful friend. (Love you, A.)

 

 

Top image is from mmsmlzgud546 at Fragrantica.  Lower image is from A’s Facebook page.

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Scent Diary, Dec. 20-26, 2010

Monday, Dec. 20:  A cold, windy day.  I have taken the day off from work so that I can attend my grandmother Nell’s funeral, about which I do not want to say much at this point (why? I don’t know), except that family is a wonderful thing when the people in it are fairly mature in an emotional sense.  I will tell you that I chose to wear the transcendently lovely, unflappable, Serge Lutens La Myrrhe.  It was beautiful all day.  I am not sorry.

The few inches of snow we got late last week has now turned to ice on our half-mile-long, curving, sloping, gravel road, due to the vehicular traffic.  We headed out for the funeral and spun out halfway down the hill; thank God we didn’t hit anything, and The CEO drove us backwards down to the paved road.  I thanked him for getting out of that situation without damage, and he told me it was all due to his mad skilz as an AIP.  A what? I wanted to know.  An Agricultural Industry Professional, he explained.

The boys went home with my parents after the funeral, and about the time I got home from  fetching Bookworm from Indoor Track practice, The CEO got word about the potential job.  It did not work out.  I think they interviewed five people, and he was the final player to get cut from the roster, so to speak; the deciding factor was the other candidate’s experience.  Heavy sigh here.  It’s possible that something may come up in the future.

Tuesday, Dec. 21:  Cold.  The road is still icy, so I took the farm pickup truck, which has four-wheel drive, to work.  Incidentally, I don’t think I’ve introduced him to you.  The CEO’s Camry is, of course, named Cameron, and my minivan is Eddie Van – for Eddie Van Halen, natch.  The pickup is known as Walker Ford Ranger.  (Yes, yes, I know.  You don’t have to tell me how cheesy it is.  But it makes us laugh, so I really don’t care what anyone else thinks.)

SOTMorning: DSH Perfumes December, which is rather nice, with pine and spices.  Eventually it nosedives down into those balsamy notes I don’t like, however, so I don’t need any. When when I got home, I gathered up all the necessary paperwork and drove Bookworm to the Department of Motor Vehicles, where we obtained her Learner’s Permit. 

SOTA: vintage Chanel No. 19 eau de toilette.  By all rights, I shouldn’t love this thing, it’s so unfriendly and chilly and standoffish.  But it is also extremely beautiful, and so I do love it.

Wednesday, Dec. 22:  Finally, we have some temperatures in the low 40s, so the ice on our road is melting.  That’s a good thing – I’ve got to drive to my parents’ house and pick up the boys.  They’ve been spending time with their cousin Doodlebug.  SOTMorning: DSH Perfumes Gingembre.  It’s terrific for about half an hour, and then it slides into that “amber” note that reads as shaving cream to me, so I’m not gonna be wearing this one.

SOTA: Le Labo Aldehydes 44.  Very nice stuff.  It’s no La Myrrhe or Vega, but it is really pretty.

I am almost ready for Christmas.  I’ve been scrambling, and I don’t even go out shopping, since I prefer to shop online when at all possible.  Aargh.  And as I’ve said before, doing NaNoWriMo during the month of November really puts a burden on me to get things ready for Christmas.  Whoever thought National Novel Writing Month up (however wonderful it is in other senses), and decided November would be a good time to do it, must have been either a dude or a college student – someone with no December responsibilities, in any case.   Anyway, presents are going to be un-lavish this year, for all of us, and we’ll make it more of a family-and-worship time than a woohoo-party-mad ripping of wrapping paper sort of thing.

Thursday, Dec. 23:  Still chilly, but the ice continues to melt.  Sloooowly.  SOTD: Honore des Pres Vamp a NY.  Gaze still doesn’t like it; everybody else, including me, still does: yummy tuberose-vanilla-spice-buttered-popcorn happy party thing.  It lasts all day, through the last-minute shopping (picture frames, batteries, milk, eggs, apple juice) and the gift-wrapping and the making of dinner, et cetera, et cetera…

Friday, Dec. 24: I have a few things to wrap, and some cooking to do, but we’re set.  (Thank goodness.)  The only dilemma at this point: choosing a Christmas Eve service to attend.  Do we go with The CEO’s mother, and his sister visiting from Atlanta, to the service at my MIL’s church?  She’s playing the organ, and it would be nice to hear her, and the music’s nice there.  The drawbacks are that it starts at 9 pm, and the minister preaches a full half-hour sermon at that service, adding to the hour’s worth of music; the kids are certain to crash before we can get home. 

Or do we go to the candlelight service at the church where we used to attend, with The CEO’s other sister and her family, visiting from northern Virginia?  It used to be a lovely service, in a lovely setting.  But I used to sing for that service – O Holy Night, or Gesu Bambino – and sometimes play the piano for it.  We stopped going there for a few reasons, one having to do with our growing theological distance from the Presbyterian Church, one having to do with the upheaval over the division of the family farm, and one having to do with my sorrow at still, after fourteen years of service as Sunday School teacher, choir member and director, and various other capacities, being considered a rank outsider.  It is extremely difficult to go to church with people you regard as greedy promise-breakers, particularly if they are family members.  And if we suddenly were to show up at that service, I think we’d be swamped with church members asking when we were going to come back.  I’m not going back.  My bitterness over the whole affair is starting to recede, but I cannot at this stage imagine choosing to return to that church, even for an evening.

It turned out that our own church held a small, informal service in the chapel at Virginia Tech, which we’d missed the announcements for because we missed last Sunday’s service due to the death of my grandmother.  We went, and it was nice.  Clearly, minimal effort was put into the thing since it was such a last-minute arrangement, and I think maybe next year I’ll volunteer to help.  A few candles, a poetry reading or two, a little more music… it could be really meaningful.

SOTD: Alahine, of course. 

Saturday, Dec. 25, Christmas Day: I woke early, at 6:30, to go start breakfast, and found the ground covered in snow.  It was utterly still, not a breath of wind, with the snow coming down like a silent blessing, and there it was: the moment when Christmas arrived in my heart, an overflowing of gratitude for the Gift, a moment of beauty and pure happiness.  Some seasons this moment comes early; I can count on it arriving if I’ve sung “For Unto Us a Child Is Born,” from The Messiah, in concert.  Some seasons, it arrives on Christmas Eve, as “Silent Night” echoes from voice to voice in a darkened church.  One memorable year in my youth, it arrived as I lay on the carpet underneath the Christmas tree in my grandmother’s living room, looking up through the branches and the lights: Love came down at Christmas.

I wore Alahine again, since it smells like joyous golden bells to me, all citrus and spice and sweetness, with a tiny dark balsamic thread in the base.  In fact, when Kristin of Scent of the Day and Joan of Redolent of Spices started discussing the possibility of a joint blog post around Christmas, focusing on the scents of the Three Kings, gold and frankincense and myrrh, I wanted to join but knew that, first, I’d be so hectically busy that I wouldn’t do the project much good, and second, I’ve already posted reviews of the three scents that immediately sprang to mind when considering the gifts of the Magi.  Alahine is gold; PdN Vanille Tonka is frankincense, and SL La Myrrhe is (of course) myrrh.  I love all three of them.

It was a nice, quiet day.  The CEO went to feed some cows, as he has done every single Christmas morning since he was twelve years old (save the Christmas he spent at graduate school in New Zealand).  We ate breakfast: bacon and eggs, cinnamon rolls and homemade applesauce.  The kids opened their stockings and waited patiently for their dad to come back.  We opened presents, passed hugs around, and then I cooked a turkey breast for lunch at The CEO’s parents’ house.  We spent the afternoon there, with his family, and it snowed further.

I can only remember one other white Christmas in my lifetime.  It’s a lovely thing, snow on Christmas, if you don’t have to go anywhere…

Sunday, Dec. 26: Yet more snow.  No way we’re getting to church today.  Well, I suppose one or two of us could get out in the pickup, but I’m not driving a car over the ice-covered-with-snow drive.  Undoubtedly the main roads are clear, though.  SOTMorning: Kenzo Winter Flower, very nice soft powdery mimosa fragrance.

Jeff the Hired Guy called this afternoon to say that he’d seen a cow that seemed to be ready to calve, so The CEO went out to check on her a little later, and she’d already had the calf, and it was standing up.  He left the pair alone to bond, came back in and built a fire.  Later, he took Bookworm out with him, so she could drive and he could hold the calf on the back of the pickup, enticing the mama cow to follow the calf into the barn out of the weather.  Bookworm, according to her dad, did a terrific job driving the truck up and down snowy hills, making good use of that learner’s permit. Turns out, though, that the calf is suffering from what The CEO calls SCS – Stupid Calf Syndrome – and was ignorant both of where his food source was and how to access it.  The CEO and Bookworm spent a good half-hour teaching the calf to nurse.

I feel that the calf was unjustly maligned – Bookworm herself suffered from the same condition as a baby, and it was a good four months before we got the hang of breastfeeding.  She’s clearly doing just fine now in the brains department.

SOTAfternoon/evening: Guerlain Vega, which is gorgeous.

Image is NZ-Winter from… I can’t find it.  I’d downloaded it from a free site to use as a background on my laptop, and forgot to save the source.  Oops.  It looks like it might be on the South Island, but I don’t know where, and of course it isn’t winter in the Southern Hemisphere now.  If you know from whence it came, please contact me.

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Scent Diary, Dec. 13-19, 2010

Monday, Dec. 13: Cold and windy, with dry powdery snow, and highs in the low 20s. Brr! SOTD: Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere. Hasn’t been wrong yet.

Concert went fairly well – bits of the Vivaldi were better than Sunday’s concert, but the basses got the bit between their teeth and dragged the rest of us through the Cum Sancto Spiritu movement way faster than we’d intended going. Eek. “This Christmastide/Jessye’s Carol” was gorgeous, though. (Here’s a link to La Norman singing it herself, along with a boys’ choir, at Ely Cathedral. Swoon.)

The CEO was expecting a call today regarding his potential new job – when he interviewed, it sounded to him as if the job were his. Since then, he’s talked to the person hiring twice: once to tell her that he was definitely interested and that he’d made arrangements concerning his current job, and once last Friday to ask for a status report, upon which he was told that the office had been very busy making arrangements for other things (not a polite brush-off, we hope, since we know what they’ve been busy making arrangements for). But no call today.

Tuesday, Dec. 14: Colder and windier. Highs in the upper teens. Brr brrr. SOTD: Mary Greenwell Plum, which I continue to wear first because I think it’s beautiful, and second because I’m trying to review it.

Missed out on the local Messiah sing-in this evening in order to go to Gaze’s middle school band concert. The 6th grade Beginning Band played “Jingle Bells,” and the Intermediate Band played some (more difficult) medleys of Christmas music. It’s not the Boston Pops, but that’s okay… my kid was on stage playing a trombone! How cool is that?

No call from the Mysterious Them today either.

Wednesday, Dec. 15: Same weather as yesterday and the day before. Only colder. Triple brrrr! SOTD: DSH Perfumes’ “designer duplicate” of Caron Nuit de Noel. I’ve heard this one’s pretty close to the way NdN used to smell before reformulation, though I don’t think people are howling over the refo of this one the way they do over the current version of Narcisse Noir. I’d believe the claim that the DSH is faithful to the original, because this thing smells, well, old. The aldehydes are dry and powdery, the rose-jasmine-ylang blend is rich, the famous moss is exceedingly powdery. Eventually it goes sweet and deep with sandalwood and amber, and I like that, but not enough to wear the whole thing. As usual, I get overwhelmed with the mustiness.

SOTA: Bois des Iles. If I’m going to wear sandalwood and aldehydes, this is the way to go. (Well, either that or vintage Arpege, but I have to be mentally up for Arpege. It eats my head, it’s so rich.)

The CEO bought a Christmas tree, for the first time ever. We’ve been married eighteen Christmases, and it’s been cedar trees all the way, baby, until now. (Cedar trees are like weeds around here – everybody with land has got ’em, nobody wants ’em.) This year, he found a nice one, but its trunk simply would not cooperate with the tree stand, and he was getting frustrated, so off he went to the Lions’ Club lot and bought a lovely nine-foot Frasier fir. It smells fabulous. Cedar trees also smell gorgeous, but they are prickly, and they drop needles all over the floor; it’s almost a given that at least one of us will get a cedar needle stuck in hand (or foot) at some point over the three weeks we keep our tree up. We won’t have that fun little exercise this year.

Thursday, Dec. 16: It snowed last night and into the morning; no school. This morning, my mother called with the news that my grandmother had died. It wasn’t unexpected – Nell was 91, and she’d had Alzheimer’s for the past three years. I will miss her, of course. But she’d had a good full life: she finished high school, in a time and place when that was unusual; she married and had four children; she worked at several jobs over her life while maintaining a clean house and a half-acre garden. She taught Sunday School and made beautiful quilts. She had six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren; she had a wry sense of humor. She cooked the best-tasting green beans I’ve ever eaten, and as a southerner, I can tell you I’ve eaten my share of green beans! She nursed her husband through five years of Alzheimer’s disease, keeping him at home until he fell ill with pneumonia. She had a love of deep cherry pink and gold, and a fondness for telling stories about her children. Until the Alzheimer’s got the better of her, her Christmas dinners were marvels of family cooperation, and the circle kept getting bigger. “Come and join us!” she’d tell people, and it was no exaggeration that on Christmas Eves, she was regularly entertaining thirty people with every evidence of joy.

I’ve been missing her for several years, to be honest. It’s not just losing her, really – it’s also that her generation is gone. I was lucky to have known her, and, too, it feels a bit odd to no longer be anyone’s grandchild.

SOTD: For comparison, Victoria’s Secret Victoria, Mary Greenwell Plum, and the original (Karl Lagerfeld) Chloe, with Coco Mademoiselle on a handkerchief nearby. The kids are decorating the Christmas tree, with CDs of carols on the stereo and spiced cider on the stove. I put a few ornaments up high, and got a glob of fir sap on my fingers, which smells great. I lit my Bath & Body Works Winter candle, too.

Friday, Dec. 17: Warmer today; the snow/slush mix largely melted. The Mysterious They called The CEO today, only to tell him that they had not made a decision yet. (Aaarrgh.) I think that means they’re going to choose the other shortlisted candidate, but we’ll find out. Eventually probably next week.

SOTD: L’Arte di Gucci. I got some on my hands while making samples, and it smelled lovely, so I put on a bit more.

Saturday, Dec. 18: SOTD: SSS Champagne de Bois, a lovely choice for a family Christmas gathering. My brother and SIL, and their sweet little boy, made it in for the weekend, so we celebrated. On the way home, The CEO kissed my hand and noticed first the Mary Greenwell Plum on my coat, then the CdB on my wrist. He’s got a strong preference for Plum, but said that the CdB was very “citrus-spice” and therefore appropriate for Christmas.

Drifted off to sleep in a cloud of Parfum Sacre.

Sunday, Dec. 19: Chilly, with snow still on the ground, but less disconcertingly cold than the temps-in-the-teens of last week. Our church has been holding services in the evenings in December, so our Sunday mornings have been lazy. We attended visitation for my grandmother this afternoon, at her church, and a meal for the family afterward at my aunt’s house. I do hate to put it this way, but the timing of Mawmaw Nell’s leaving us was somewhat fortuitous, in that most of my far-flung cousins had already arranged transportation to Virginia for this weekend, and we were all able to be together. SOTD: Mary Greenwell Plum.

 Image is Parfumesse-in-holland by parfumgott at Flickr.

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The Thanksgiving Chair

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6znqpPaYzM4]

Saw this video last Sunday at church, and it’s made an impression on me.  Thanksgiving has always had strong religious overtones for my family, and that’s still true.  To whom to we give thanks, if not to God? 

Question:If you celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday and you’re not interested in religion, how do you celebrate it?  I’m not being snarky, I’m serious here.  I can certainly understand that Thanksgiving is attractive to people who’d prefer that God just Butt Out Of Our Lives, Please, for various reasons – getting the family together, the great food, the continuation of a tradition, the parades, the football games, the four-day weekend… 

…so if you don’t consider yourself a religious person and you celebrate Thanksgiving because it is, after all, a national holiday, I’d love to know how the day goes for you.  Is it a day for eating a wonderful meal with your family?  A shared cultural phenomenon you participate in because not participating would be weird?  A good excuse to lie on the couch and watch four football games, interrupted only by sage dressing and pumpkin pie with whipped cream?  Not that there’s, ahem, anything wrong with that.

We’re eating the main meal with The CEO’s parents and one of his sisters today, along with some other friends who are on their own.  There will be the traditional turkey breast and ham, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie on the table, as well as my mother-in-law’s  broccoli casserole and grocery rolls.  There will be football, both on TV and outside (assuming it doesn’t rain).  My father-in-law will pronounce the blessing while we hold hands around the table.

I might have burned the pies.  Taz might have made rude noises about the smoked salmon and then kicked his sister.  Bookworm might have yelled at Taz, Gaze  might have slyly prompted them to have started a fight in the first place, The CEO might have disagreed loudly with his father over some element of farm management, or with his sister over the best way to invest.  But I will have spent some quality time in the Thanksgiving Chair, and not even (unburned) pumpkin pie could beat that.

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Scent Diary, September 13-19, 2010

Monday, Sept. 13:   I think I’m getting sick.  SOTD: another wrist-to-wrist comparison between Champagne de Bois and Bois des Iles.  Hope to have that throwdown written soon…

Tuesday, Sept. 14:  I don’t feel at all well: runny nose, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, possibly some fever.  SOTD: Champagne de Bois

Wednesday, Sept. 15:   I can’t smell anything.  No scent today.  Bookworm is home sick from school, and The CEO stayed home in bed all day too.  (Alert the media and Guinness Book – he never takes a day off, except if he thinks he’s dying.)

Thursday, Sept. 16:  Sniffer still busted, Bookworm still sick.  CEO somewhat better.  No scent today.  Fed our new orphaned calf, who’s named Jonathan.  Andy and Jean, the ones we were bottle-feeding over the summer, have left the small lot and moved into the adjacent lot near the equipment shed, where they seem happy eating grass.  They are intensely curious about the new calf and keep coming to that part of the lot to investigate, especially when the new one’s getting his bottle of milk.

Friday, Sept. 17:  Sniffer marginally better, but no SOTD yet.  Maybe tomorrow.  Since we had had to cut our vacation short a day, we had promised the kids we’d take them to an amusement park “in the fall.”  Well, turns out that this is the only weekend that Bookworm does not have a football game that she has to attend as a band member (it’s a bye week), a band competition, or a cross-country meet.  There’s another Saturday without either a meet or a competition in October, but that day she happens to have PSAT testing, so that’s not going to work.  

Then we found out that Kings Dominion had tickets for $25 per person, 9/18 only. Snapped up those tickets right away, and headed out this evening, so we could get halfway there.

Saturday, Sept. 18:  I can smell!  SOTD: Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur.  (Why does this smell so different from the original Black Orchid?  It’s supposed to be the edt version of the original – which smells like cucumber and dirt to me, which is fine if you’re actually in the garden, but not so good as an intentional perfume IMHO.  Whereas VdF is just a shimmering veil of loveliness.

Kings Dominion isn’t nearly as good a park as, say, Carowinds or Busch Gardens Williamsburg, two other parks we’ve visited within the last five years, but they do have at least a couple of really great rides.  The way our usual amusement park day works is that we’ll ride a few rides all together as a family – Scrambler, Spider, possibly a carousel or around-the-park train, a small suitable-for-kids roller coaster, and then Bookworm and I will head off for the roller coasters you have to be strapped into, while The CEO takes Gaze and Taz on gentler stuff like the big swings or bumper cars.   I can’t do a straight round-and-round ride, either, it makes me sick.

I have a moderate fear of heights, and cannot stand close to the edge of anything that I might fall off of without getting the willies.  The CEO likes to pick on me a bit – we went up to the observation deck of the “Eiffel Towel” scale model that Kings Dominion has, and I had to stay close to the inner platform, while he pretended to lean over the railing.  I suppose, though, that it’s not so much a fear of heights, but a fear of falling: I love roller coasters.  If I’ve got a shoulder harness, I feel secure.   Wooden coasters don’t need shoulder harnesses, but I think anything else does. 

Those Da Vinci’s Cradle-type rides? The CEO loves them.  I hate them.  Big steel coasters with those thigh-bracer harnesses, like Busch Gardens’ Apollo’s Chariot?  I  hate them.  I don’t feel safe in them. 

But turn me upside down, take me on loops and barrel rolls and inversions and long drops – as long as I’ve got a shoulder harness, I’m happy.  I’m not much of a coaster aficionado; bigger/badder/faster/thrillier doesn’t do all that much for me.  Especially since I also hate the chain lift on traditional coasters.  Besides the aforementioned Apollo’s Chariot, I hate and despise and fear Carowinds’ Carolina Cobra, with its double lift chains.  Argh.  Rode that  one with Bookworm last year, and hated every second of it.  TWO lifts? Kill me now.

Favorites of mine: The Shooting Star, my first coaster ever, and a terrific wooden coaster it was.  This was at the now-defunct Lakeside Amusement Park, and while the Shooting Star is no more, it’s still my gold standard.  The Loch Ness Monster at Busch Gardens, which was my first steel coaster, and still a terrific ride.  Afterburn (formerly Top Gun) at Carowinds is pure exhilaration.  And the new one, Volcano Blast Coaster at Kings Dominion, my first LIM (launch) coaster, really is a blast.  Seats are suspended from the train as in Afterburn but instead of the teeth-grinding stress  of the  lift chain, you get shot straight up into the air, then go through multiple barrel rolls, corkscrews, and complete inversions in which your upside-down weight is all on the harness.  I love it. 

Philosophical question:  Why do people wear Angel to amusement parks?  For that matter, why do people wear heavy hoop earrings and tight jeans and thin strappy sandals, all uncomfortable sexy-date attire to my mind, to amusement parks?  I don’t geddit.  Is the amusement park hot date material? I’ve only visited amusement parks with my family, or in a group of high schoolers…

Sunday, Sept. 19:  After the park yesterday, we drove to my parents’ house and spent the night.  I’d been invited to sing at their church, the one I grew up in, in a service honoring a former minister – he’s now 81 but doesn’t look or sound it.  SOTD: Voile de Fleur again, since it was the only thing I took with me.  I’m still very fond of that church, but I don’t think I’d be happy there now; I like the contemporary service at the church we belong to.  I don’t mind dressing up on Sunday (attire at our current church ranges from jeans, tee shirts and thong sandals to dresses and heels), and I sometimes miss the old hymns, but I love it that church services are not just something to be checked off on your “good deeds” list – more a celebration of the God we try to follow all week.  Our pastor has a motto: “Don’t just go to church; be the church.”

After church services, we had lunch with Mom and Dad, and my sister and her son, whom I  call Doodlebug. (A’s husband is in Afghanistan right now, and if you’d like to send up a prayer for his safety, it wouldn’t go amiss.) 

It was nice to come home and be greeted enthusiastically by the pets, but the house is a wreck.

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