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Archive for March, 2011

In Progress:

  • The Malta-Rome travelogue, complete with pictures
  • Fragrance Throwdown: vintage Coty L’Origan vs. Guerlain L’Heure Bleue parfum
  • Review: Xerjoff Elle
  • Updates to the Huge List of Green Scents
  • And…
  • The 2010 tax return – which I’m sure nobody is really interested in hearing about, but which must be finished before I get seriously into posting…

I also owe several people emails.  Sorry for my laxity (laxness? no, must be laxity.  I’m even too lax to go look that up).  I promise, I will get back to you.

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Monday, Mar. 21: Warm and comfortable outside. SOTD: Aimez-Moi. It’s wistful and springy, and I’m feeling that way. I’ve been noticing that I really like anise, too. I gave notice to my boss today. Not sure how I feel about that, except that I just can’t foresee my staying at the auto parts store much longer.

Tuesday, Mar. 22: SOTD: Tauer Carillon pour un Ange – two drops, which is about all anybody ever needs of CpuA at one time! I think Andy calls this “eau de parfum riche,” and it certainly is “riche.”

It had finally gone by 11pm, when I went to bed, so I put on a spritz of the old version of Kenzo Parfum d’Ete – green notes, lily of the valley, and… other florals. Hyacinth definitely, and rose? Maybe jasmine? I’ll go check my Excel file to make sure, but this is basically a mixed bouquet with lots of muguet and green. Very pretty, easy to wear.

Aha! The notes (courtesy of Fragrantica): Mahogany, green leaves, peach, hyacinth, peony, cyclamen, freesia, rose, jasmine, ylang-ylang, lily of the valley, narcissus, orris, sandalwood, amber, cedar, moss, and musk.

Bookworm brought home a flyer from her World History teacher regarding a school trip to Europe, currently being planned for the summer of 2013: Ten to fourteen days, London-Paris-Rome, led by two of the high school history teachers, about $3500. Eek. I was about to ask her if she was delusional, but The CEO said he thought it wasn’t unreasonable, and perhaps we could put some money into it.

I mean, if you’re going to visit European cities and talk about history, those are the ones that would give you bang for your buck, keeping in mind that travel is probably the most expensive part of this deal. Other cities have history, certainly, but if you are looking for what our military guys would call a “target-rich environment,” those are the ones to see. I recall, wistfully, that I’ve never visited Paris or London…

(Still, we are talking about The CEO spending money here. I’m tempted to collar this guy and demand, “Who are you and what have you done with my frugal husband??”)

Wednesday, Mar. 23: I’m starting to really look forward to working full-time on my novel(s). SOTD: Divine L’Ame Soeur, which I have enjoyed in the past as a simple and pretty aldehydic floral. Today, though, it seems sort of sour and buttermilk-y to me. What happened? Did somebody switch this decant with ELd’O Vraie Blonde? Strange. But I got a compliment today, though, from one of the delivery drivers at the store: “Something smells good in here… oh, it’s you!” (Seven years I’ve been working there, and that’s my third compliment on my perfume.)

Switched up to Ferre 20 in the afternoon… ah, that’s much better. It’s warm, in the upper 70s, and it feels delightful.

Thursday, Mar.24: Started out warm in the morning, and then the skies opened up in the late afternoon, and the rain just bucketed down. Fortunately for Taz, he had already gotten to the house (the bus stop is half a mile away, at the main road). Fortunately for Gaze, the middle school has a large gymnasium largely available to the track team for practice, should the weather be inclement, so he was mostly dry as well. Unfortunately for Bookworm, the high school gym is used by other teams and unavailable to the track team, so they have to run outside or not at all. Today the storm hit at about halfway through the afternoon’s practice, and the lightning forced her practice to end early… and wet. Poor baby, she was soaked.

SOTD: Guerlain Vega, from a swap. I have two very small decants, and this particular one may be vintage – it’s got strange topnotes, and a rather more animalic base than my decant of reissued 2004 Vega. It also lasts hours longer than the reissued.

It’s not wrong of me to prefer the reissued, is it? Of course not.

Friday, Mar. 25: Cloudy day. It looks as if I’ll have one more week of work, probably at reduced hours. SOTD: Le Labo Aldehydes 44. It shimmers nicely, but feels a little too gauzy for this kind of weather. I’ve never worn it in the summer, but I think I’ll put it away until the weather warms up. It might be perfect then.

Prompted by a Facebook friend’s SOTD announcement, I meant to go put on Bal a Versailles in the afternoon and enjoy that candle-waxy bit in the drydown, but I got distracted. So I just imagined it – which doesn’t work nearly as well, but sometimes that’s the way it goes.

SOTE: Shalimar Light, the Blue Juice. Yum. Oh, and by the way, I had once mentioned that I had only smelled Eau de Shalimar from a scent strip and found it thin and linear. On my way through the Rome airport, I sprayed it on a bit of skin just to check, and whoever says Shalimar Light Blue Juice and Eau de Shalimar are the same is just off her rocker. They’re not the same at all. You can trace the degeneration from the lovely, rounded Shalimar Eau Legere (Pale Yellow Juice), with its shimmery citrus and herbs and crystalline jasmine and woody-creosote vanilla, through Shalimar Light’s Lemon Pledge topnote, soft-focus white florals and dry vanilla, down to the air-freshener citrus and vanilla soft serve ice cream of Eau de Shalimar. It’d be like remaking, say, “Cleopatra” with Lindsay Lohan instead of Elizabeth Taylor.

(You wait and see. One of these days, somebody’ll do it. If not with Lindsay, then with Megan Fox.)

Saturday, Mar. 26: All of a sudden, it’s frigid. Bookworm headed off for a track meet today (brr!) and The CEO went to the Ag Tech department’s Open House. The rest of us had a boring day of house drudgery. SOTD: Guerlain Terracotta Voile d’Ete, which always reminds me just a little of Old Spice, which in turn will always be The Smell of My Dad. The sad part is that after a lovely blast of spicy florals lasting ninety minutes, it tapers off into a woody-iris-vanilla thing that only radiates about half a millimeter off my skin.

Here I go and post my Spring Picks piece this week, and now I’m not wearing anything that’s on the list! I should know better about March weather.

Sunday, Mar. 27: We woke to the remainder of “wintry mix,” with temperatures in the mid-30s. Stayed chilly all day. SOTD: Iris Poudre. For all the comparisons I’ve seen and smelled (Ulric de Varens pour elle, Mariella Burani, Tuscany per Donna, Ferre by Ferre), nothing really smells as cheerfully luxurious as Iris Poudre. Honestly, I would love to find something that replicated IP for a reasonable price, but nothing really does. What else feels like Fluffy Bunny Silky Flower Elegance? Nothing else, that’s what. Not White Linen, not Pure White Linen, not Ferre, not Le Labo Aldehydes 44, not Arpege or No. 5 or No. 22 or L’Aimant… nothing else.

Weird little factoid: If you go to Michael Edwards’ Fragrances of the World database, where you can input the name of a fragrance and get suggestions of three other fragrances you might like, and tell it “Iris Poudre,” this is what is recommended to you: No. 5 Eau Premiere, Coty L’Aimant, and babyGund Spunky Blue. (Not kidding there, it really says Spunky Blue. In a dog-shaped bottle. A fuzzy, blue, dog-shaped bottle. Aargh. This is a joke, right?     Edit: uh, nope.  Not a joke.  Although how Michael Edwards considers this a “real” fragrance, I really do not understand.  I found one listing – well, intrepid commenter Liza found it for me, thanks! – for the scent.)

 

Top image is a closeup of my mini bottles.  Image of Spunky Blue cologne from Amazon.com.

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Spring has sprung, the grass has riz, wonder where the birdies is?

They’re here.  Robins and cardinals and sparrows, oh my… the trees are full of them.  And our grass has greened up, and my daffodils and hyacinths are blooming.  So is our neighbor’s enormous forsythia bush.  My tulips are budding out, too.  It’s time.

I don’t know quite why it is, but in spring I seem to long for floral verisimilitude in my fragrances, in a way that might strike me as too straightforward during most of the rest of the year.  In September I might be thinking, “Okay, yeah, this smells like jasmine (or rose, or carnation, or whatever)… jasmine jasmine jasmine, big whoop, who cares, I need something more interesting to smell,” but in March and April, gimme them flowers straight off the stem!  There is often a wistfulness, a gentle simplicity or a nostalgic feel to many of my spring choices.  Basically, I just want to Smell Pretty.  I have a right to smell like flowers if I want to, and if you insist, we’ll take it outside and I’ll just get medieval on your hiney.

(Mind you, I don’t insist that everyone should smell like flowers.  I just take objection to those who sneer at me for wanting to do so.)

Ahem.  My Spring Picks list:

1) LilacsDSH Perfumes White Lilac (on the Essense Oils part of the website), or Soivohle Lilacs & HeliotropeFrederic Malle En Passant is lovely but very fleeting on me, and the stunning, tenderly green Jean Patou Vacances is nigh impossible to come by.  Check out this longer list of lilac fragrances.

2) Lilies of the Valley.  I love LotV, or muguet, in the spring, but well-made fragrances containing it are getting difficult to find, due to the restrictions on the allergenic aromamaterial hydroxycitronellal.  The classic to beat is Diorissimo… but I suggest not buying the version currently being sold; it’s thin and harsh.  (Elena at Perfume Shrine has an excellent post on dating Diorissimo packaging, in case you go looking for vintage, while keeping in mind that this fragrance does not seem to age well.)  Other excellent muguet scents:  the older, discontinued version of Kenzo Parfum d’Ete (still available on eBay, in the upright, frosted, veined leaf bottle), vintage Coty Muguet de Bois, Annick Goutal Le Muguet, Van Cleef & Arpels Muguet Blanc.  Or you can go for the complex and truly-wonderful Tauer Perfumes Carillon pour un Ange, with its earthy undertones.  Here’s a link to Victoria’s muguet list at Bois de Jasmin, too. 

3) Violets.  I seem always to want violets in spring and in fall.  A few favorites: the classic, slightly melancholy Guerlain Apres l’Ondee, the “old books”-violet-vanilla of Caron Aimez-Moi, and the simple, leaf-and-blossom Penhaligon’s Violetta.   I also enjoy Annick Goutal’s La Violette and Les Nez’ wonderfully-quirky, silvery-frosty-green The Unicorn Spell.  Also, Balmain Jolie Madame – but should it go here, or in the next category?

4) Greenies.  Never really “out of season” for me, but they come into their own in spring.  And I should clarify that for me, Greenies means Floral Green or Herbal Green fragrances, not Green Chypres like Bandit or Niki de Saint Phalle, which still intimidate the heck out of me.  My favorites include Parfums de Nicolai Le Temps d’une Fete, Guerlain Chamade (the current version is still lovely, and unlike many other classic Guerlains, all concentrations are wearable for me), Crown Perfumery Crown Bouquet, and Jacomo Silences.   The current version of Kenzo Parfum d’Ete, in the lay-down, smooth clear glass leaf bottle, is really nice too, very refreshing.  There’s also Chanel No. 19 (my very favorite version is vintage EdT, but I smelled the modern EdP recently, and liked its gentler, more rosy cast), and the Jolie Madame I mentioned above in the Violets category.

I notice that I tend to group my seasonal picks into categories, as I did just now, but I think the spring list is always longest.  This is perhaps my favorite time of year, and I love that there are so many things to wear that make me happy in this season.  In fact, I really enjoy the seasonal shifts of the area where I live, and I look forward to changing my roster of fragrances as each season rolls around.

Feel free to comment on what you like to wear in spring.  Or whether you rotate your fragrances according to the weather – I know, a lot of people live in places where that’s a silly idea – or even whether you tend to think of your perfumes in groups, as apparently I do.

Photos of flowers from Wikimedia Commons; photos of columbine leaves from Flowers.vg.  Top image is Spring Garden by Vera Kratochvil at Public Domain Pictures.

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I am well aware that I have not posted last week’s Scent Diary, or the continuation of the Malta/Rome travelogue. Yeahyeahyeah I’m getting to it. Promise. I might have to do it in something like two-day increments – especially since I kept very bad notes on fragrances I actually wore during the trip. I was more taken by being Somewhere Else, to be honest.  Here’s another pic of Malta, of the Blue Grotto, courtesy of The CEO.

Monday, Mar. 14: Chilly, breezy, in the mid-40s F. We’ve been walking around in 60F weather, and I’m cold. SOTD: Mariella Burani. Had to go and practically buy out the grocery store: we were out of nearly everything – eggs, milk, bread, Life cereal, grapes, applesauce cups… Lord knows, The CEO might actually become lifeless if he didn’t get his evening fix of Life cereal, and we can’t let that happen.

Also, there is an unbelievable pile of laundry to be done. Arrgh. Even the few things in the suitcase that we didn’t wear smell funny.

Tuesday, Mar. 15: Cloudy, rainy, and cold. For a little cheer, I chose Le Temps d’une Fete as the SOTD. It lasted all day, too. I really don’t know why I love it so much – I just do.

Gaze started track practice today. He said it went well, and that he was the only sixth-grader who ran the entire practice, instead of walking when he got tired. For me, it’ll be a bit of deft juggling, picking him up at the middle school and Bookworm at the high school when they’re supposed to be done with their practices at about the same time, and the two schools are about ten minutes apart.

Wednesday, Mar. 16: It’s still wet and chilly, but less so today. SOTD: Mary Greenwell Plum. Which I still love. Funny how this week I’m just wearing fragrances I already love, instead of trying anything new… or maybe it’s a reaction to stress.

Went to Bookworm’s band concert; the high school band and the other county middle school’s band are going to a festival on Thursday, at which their performance will be judged. I don’t know why Gaze’s middle school band isn’t going, although, come to think of it, we haven’t seen much of his band director (who’s very buddy-buddy with the HS director since they were college roommates) lately, either. I wonder if something personal is going on, or if the current 7-8 grade band is just not up to snuff. In any case, the high school group sounds wonderful.

Thursday, Mar. 17: It’s Saint Patrick’s Day, which unless you live under a rock or somewhere outside North America and Western Europe, you already knew. My sister has finished putting up her week-long series of Irish-heritage-celebrating The Pogues songs on Facebook. SOTD: Chanel No. 19 vtg edt, all green and chilly iris. And a bit of leather, let’s not forget the leather. It’s important.

Turns out the high school got their “1” scores (Superior ratings), and Bookworm’s very pleased.

Friday, Mar. 18: Thank goodness, it’s finally warmer, in the mid-60s. My daffodils are blooming, too. SOTD: Black Orchid Voile de Fleur – pretty white flowers, with something that says “do not mess with me” down there in the base…

Saturday, Mar. 19: As usual, cleaned house. We’re gradually getting the misplaced items back into the family room, post-carpet upgrade and painting. I took a couple of boxes of Stuff We Don’t Need to Goodwill (I’d already taken three before we left on the trip, and there are at least two more to go, once I’ve ascertained that everything in them is destined to leave the house).

SOTAfternoon: Cuir de Lancome. The CEO never remembers this one, but he always comments on it: You smell nice. What is that? There are scents he never says a thing about, so I think he must really like Cuir.

After supper (homemade hamburgers, fries and broccoli), we gathered up the gifts and travel books and the computer with all the trip photos on it and went to visit The CEO’s parents, who graciously agreed to take care of the kids while we were gone. I think the gifts – a small bottle of Guerlain Bouquet No 1 * and a silver Malta cross necklace for my mother-in-law, and a travel book of Malta for my father-in-law – were well-received.

*Bouquet No 1 is very pretty, by the way – nice citrusy top, and very floral, although not groundbreaking in any way. Bookworm got some on her fingers while she was putting the cap back on for her grandmother, and she smelled quite lovely when I kissed her goodnight.

Sunday, Mar. 20: Cloudy and in the 50s. SOTD: Ferré 20, my Rome trip souvenir. The CEO commented that it smells like flowers in the spring. I laughed: okay, sure, flowers, but there’s no green stuff in this, and there are aldehydes and fruit (which you might think wouldn’t go together, but I rather like it, especially since the fruit isn’t candy-sweet). Also, the base is very woody-iris-benzoin, and wouldn’t be terribly out of place on a guy. Very nice.

After church, The CEO took the kids to see Virginia Tech play in their second NIT game, while I returned some curtains to JC Penney and bought a chair mat for the family room desk before coming back to his office to work on this week’s Scent Diary. The CEO’s office is full of His Stuff: his Red Sox calendar and the framed photo of Jason Varitek shoving his catcher’s mitt into Alex Rodriguez’ face*, his “extra” Virginia Tech hats, the photo of himself shaking hands with Colin Powell upon the completion of his Eisenhower Fellowship, and various plaques of service to farm organizations (VA Farm Bureau, Virginia Cattlemen’s Association, and the like). I’m glad he’s got a place for those things, particularly because the Varitek-ARod photo still gives me a jolt and I didn’t want to have to look at it at home.

*See here for a news report on this 2004 game brawl.  Image is from redsoxvsyankees website.

 

 

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… really, no kidding!  On Friday, I’d had amorphous, tentative plans to go looking for niche Italian perfumeries in Rome later in the afternoon, after our Forum/Coliseum tour. But The CEO was dragging me down this street and up the next one, looking for the Pantheon, and my feet hurt, and near one of the bridges over the Tiber I said, “Let’s go this way,” and pointed to the right. “I think we can get there from here.”

So we went to the right, and half a block later I saw the magic sign PROFUMERIA over one of those hole-in-the-wall Italian shops that close with a metal garage door, so I dragged The CEO for a change. “I’m going in there,” I said emphatically, and pointed.

The older Italian man in the shop spoke very little English, but enough to know that I was looking for specifically Italian perfume. “Bulgari,” he said, pointing. “Bulgari, Ungaro, Gucci. Gucci, Hermes, Dior, Givenchy…” I was shaking my head, No, No, Italiano, so he went on pointing. “Bulgari, Prada, Armani, Moschino.  Aquolina, Dolce et Gabbana.  Bulgari.  Chanel?”

I consented to have Bulgari Jasmin Noir sprayed (generously, I noted) on my left wrist, and Gucci Guilty on my right, with Ungaro Fleur di Diva on my right forearm. At this point, The CEO intervened by pointing to a poster on the wall. “What about the Lolita one? Do you like that?”

The men’s is too shaving-creamy for me, but I’ve actually never smelled the women’s,” I said. As I turned back to the counter, the shop owner had the Lolita Lempicka tester ready and spritzed my left forearm.

Yes?” he asked, beaming. “Is bella?”

(It actually is. I found myself liking it more and more as the afternoon wore on and the anise-vanilla note held true through a sweaty, confusing, miserable-feet afternoon. But I didn’t buy it.)

I don’t know,” I said and shook my head. “Organza Indecence?” I asked, pointing. It isn’t Italian per se, but that one is getting harder to find in the US for less than about $130. This box was 100ml for 78 euros, not a bargain at the current (disastrous) exchange rate. I shook my head again. About then, I saw a couple of black-and-gold Gianfranco Ferré boxes, and one of them bore the legend “20.” That one, I knew, is an aldehydic floral that is either discontinued or very hard to find in the US, and at least one perfumista I know sings its praises. I pointed. “Ferré?”

Ferré!” exclaimed the shop owner, shooting a finger into the air. “Ferré, si.” He seized the tester and sprayed the inside of my left elbow, again generously. “Yes?”

I sniffed too soon and got a snootful of aldehydes, which made me laugh. “Aldehydes,” I said to the shop owner, waving my hand over the wet spot and rolling my eyes, and he laughed too. When I sniffed again, I got sparkly aldehydes bright as the disco ball at the skating rink, over a piquant fruity top. I didn’t wait for the topnotes to subside. Every Ferré scent I’ve tried (three or four of them, all with frustratingly similar names) has been nice, top to bottom, so I claimed Ferré 20. “I can’t get this at home,” I told The CEO.

You want it?” he asked. “This is your birthday money, right?” I nodded, and pulled out the credit card.   Currency conversion charges be darned: 52 euros later, the aldehydic-floral goodness of Ferré 20 was mine.

I picked up the little package, and with many thank-you’s and grazies, we started out the door. “Wait,” The CEO said to me. “You want a picture?” Yes. Yes, I did. The shop owner, whose name I never learned, graciously agreed to have his picture taken.

The CEO and I wandered around from there, finding the ruins of the Portico Ottavia, the Teatro Marcello, the big white building with twin statues of Nike (we never figured out the name of the thing, but I think it’s an art museum), the naked statues of Castor and Pollux and their enormous marble packages, an ancient bronze statue of Romulus and Remus suckling the she-wolf, and eventually the ancient Forum, from the opposite perspective than we’d seen earlier in the day.

After taking some more pictures, The CEO came up next to me and said, “That was cool that you found that little shop – and now you have a funny story to tell, right?” I nodded. “A funny thing happened on the way to the Forum!” he said. “A ‘fumey thing – don’t you say ‘fume?” I nodded again. “You can use that. I give it to you for free. Great blog post title.  And much better than buying mainstream stuff in the Duty Free shop.”

Much better, I agree. I also noticed when I got the box back to our hotel (several hours and six blisters later) that the ingredients list says, “Alcohol Denat., Parfum, Aqua.” Even cooler! I have snagged myself a bottle old enough to have been produced before the IFRA regulations existed. It smells that way, too.  Notes (from Fragrantica): blackberry, mandarin, bergamot, rose, jasmine, iris, vanilla, musk, cedar, sandalwood.  I’m surprised  no aldehydes are listed, because they are certainly present, and I also suspect a bit of benzoin in the mix.  Otherwise, 20 smells very much like you’d expect, a nice woody floral given a touch of fun by the tangy fruit and a touch of elegance by the aldehydes.

So if you’re ever in Rome, go to 26, Via di Montesavello, near the tiny Piazza del Ierusalem , and tell the nice man at Idea Profumeria that the crazy American lady said Buon giorno! Buy some perfume while you’re there.  Give him a hug when you leave, decorated with the contents of six tester bottles.  Leave happy.  Done.

Image of Ferre 20 from Fragrantica.  Other photos courtesy of The CEO.

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  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.  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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Okay, disclaimer here: I usually set up a template for Scent Diary on my laptop and add a little bit to it each day, then publish it Sunday afternoon or evening.  This particular week, pre-vacation, was so busy that I neglected the diary, and it’s woefully incomplete. I do apologize for that.  However, the end of the week does contain a few observations on travel and some sniffery reportage, so perhaps it’s not a complete waste of time…

Monday, Feb. 21: Warm and nice this morning. I grabbed a lightweight jacket I hadn’t worn in some months, and found vintage Arpege parfum on the sleeves. It rubbed off onto my wrists – just a little bit, but enough to enjoy for a couple of hours before I moved on to testing a few other possibilities for our Malta trip: Carthusia Mediterraneo and Caprissimo, both FAILS. Mediterraneo is essentially a nice citrus cologne; I was assured it was much more floral, by Someone Who Is Very Wrong, not that I am holding a grudge… although I would be holding a grudge, if I’d been dumb enough to buy an unsniffed bottle. Caprissimo is one of the reasons that aldehydic floral scents wear the moniker “Old Lady” – I have rarely smelled a more unpleasant, powdery-mildewy, fusty-dusty fragrance. After a couple of hours it got nicer, but still not wearable in my book.

In the afternoon, it started to pour rain, and got much chillier. SOTAfternoon was Vamp á NY, to cheer myself up. It worked, and then I got home and found a spray sample of Acqua di Parma Blu Mediterraneo Mirto di Panarea, so I spritzed the inner elbow of my shirt. This, in my opinion, is even more like what I wanted for my vacation scent than last week’s success, Nobile 1942 Pontevecchio W. Mirto di Panarea starts out very aromatic and herbal, with some citrus and sage (maybe?) and lavender, and the lavender, usually an Instant Headache trigger, is very pleasant. Then it goes to a nice quiet rose under the herbs, and a bit of woods and musk.

Tuesday, Mar. 1: Sunny.  (Here’s where I stopped writing, apparently, and now cannot remember a darn thing about what fragrance I wore or even if anything else interesting happened that day.  Oh, yes, now I remember – it was Statement Day at work.  I think maybe I wore Mariella Burani.  Funny how I always seem to go for comfort scents on Statement Days.)

Wednesday, Mar. 2: (I got nothin’ here.  Wednesday is a blur… except that I spent the day at work training the guy who’ll be taking over most of my duties while I’m gone.  I strongly suspect that very soon my boss is going to split up my duties among several of the other employees, leaving me out of a part-time job.  If that happens, I plan to spend time writing.  I’m well aware that the quality of writing here at MiWS has deteriorated over the last year, year and a half or so, but I’m just so freakin’ busy that I feel guilty about all the stuff I haven’t done, and there’s no time… Not Working might actually be a relief.)

Thursday, Mar. 3: (Also completely nada, a day gone out of memory.  I think I helped the kids pack up their clothes and personal stuff for staying with The CEO’s parents, and made further arrangements for the trip.  Packed several fragrance samples for the trip: OJ Champaca, Via Camarelle, Pontevecchio W, Mirto di Panarea, and for cheery comfort, Vamp a NY.)

Quick recap of what this trip/holiday is for: The CEO was paid for teaching a class last semester in another department with “professional development” money, which he had to use before June.  He found a conference in Malta for the week of Spring Break.  We’re flying into Rome and from there to Malta, so on the way back we’ll spend a few days in Rome.

Malta is a group of three islands (Malta, Gozo, and Comino) located southeast of Sicily in the Mediterranean.  It’s been an independent country since 1963, but before that, it was an important naval fortress for a number of civilizations (Turks, the Knights of St. John, Napoleonic France, and England).  People speak Maltese, which is closely related to Arabic but written with Western-style lettering, and a large number of them also speak English.

Friday, Mar. 4:  (Also nothin’ written this day.  However, my memory for it is much clearer.)  Packed suitcases, took kids to school, patted the dog excessively and explained many times that we were not abandoning her permanently, told the cat once that we’d be back, paid a buncha bills, and made the hour’s drive to the airport.  Flew from Roanoke to Philly.  Ate a blisteringly-hot spinach-mushroom stromboli at the airport while waiting for the flight to Rome, and then attacked the Duty Free shop for free sniffies.

There was a poster for Thierry Mugler Womanity on the door, but it turned out that the tester had disappeared, so I gave that one a miss and picked up random bottles such as Hypnotic Poison, which I’d never smelled before.  It is total root beer, and I found it much less interesting than my darlin’ tuberose-root beer concoction Vamp a NY.  Smelled, via scent strips, a Gucci thing I can’t remember, and A Scent by Issey Miyake (okay, it’s really green, which is refreshing, but still too, I dunno, chemical), Burberry Weekend (no), Dior Addict (double no), Hermes Eau de Merveilles (hey, that’s nice! and I thought I didn’t like orange) and Dior Homme (all iris, all the time, boooooring).  Sprayed Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Flora Nymphea on my left wrist and got total orange blossom, which equals “soapy” on me (hey, my mom would like this! ).  And because I’d heard that Guerlain Idylle eau de toilette was a different composition than the original eau de parfum, which was way way WAY TOO MUCH PATCHOULI, in my opinion, I took a risk and tried the EdT on my right wrist.   It’s far more pleasant to my nose than the EdP, with more rose and lily of the valley and a lot less of the patch/musk accord.

I continued to enjoy the Idylle EdT throughout the nine-hour flight to Rome.  It lasted several hours, even on my scent-eating skin, and it’s really nice, I think – it doesn’t pretend to be one of those modern chypre things everybody love to hate, but it’s got a deeper base than your average pretty floral.  If a bottle fell out of the sky (or I found a used one for not too much $$), I’d probably wear the heck out of it.  It’s like a version of Coco Mademoiselle that I could have a meaningful relationship with… maybe I’ll buy my sister one and just borrow it occasionally.

I never manage to sleep on long flights.  I try, I really do.  I try dimming the lights, I try reading myself to sleep (it works at home), I try thinking of the ocean… it never works.  It especially never works on overnight flights, when you leave at night and are intended to arrive in the morning, and you’d better have gotten some sleep when you get to wherever you are going.  This may be a mental issue, or perhaps because there’s no sensation of movement while in the air.   I did manage to get through Jodi Picoult’s House Rules, but didn’t manage any forty winks.  Sigh.

Saturday, Mar. 4: Landed in Rome in the late morning, and then The CEO and I walked ourselves silly all over the airport, trying to find the gate for our flight to Malta.  It changed three times over an hour and a half, if you can believe that, and the electronic sign over the gate wasn’t correct until about seven minutes before boarding time.  Which nearly gave The CEO a heart attack, let me tell you.  Grrr.  We did have time for ham-and-fontina paninis on excellent bread before the flight, and we certainly needed them.  We were starving.

[Digression: The more flights I take on airlines based outside the US, the more I appreciate them: Qantas, Virgin Blue, Air New Zealand,  Air Malta – all of them provide complimentary light snacks, smiling service, and comfortable seats, and none of them try to sell you stuff in-flight.  If you’re reading this comment as a dig at US Airways, you’d be correct.   I once ate a fresh (fresh!) parmesan croissant, served with excellent tea, on a 45-minute Qantas flight.  Drank some wonderful Sauvignon Blanc, at no extra charge, on several Air New Zealand flights.  The sandwich I ate on this Air Malta flight was made of soft, fresh bread, with sliced – not deli – turkey breast, real mayonnaise, and lettuce.  It tasted homemade. Please reconsider your chilled hockey-puck whole wheat rolls, US Air!]

When we landed in Malta, I took a few minutes and snagged a coffret of Guerlain Aqua Allegorias: Herba Fresca, Bouquet Numero 1, Flora Nymphea, and Pamplelune.  I thought it might be a great way to pick up some souvenirs for family members.  I spritzed Pamplelune from a tester and found out that although I’m not a big citrus fan, I really like it; it stays cheerful for hours.  I can get why some people call it “cat pee,” but I think it’s terrific.

We talked to the nice Maltese lady at Tourist Information, and she told us that we could either take a 45-minute taxi ride to the Gozo ferry for about 40 euros, or a two-hour bus ride, with one bus change, for about 8 euros.  We had no schedule to keep, other than to check into our hotel by evening, and we decided to take the bus and see something of the island of Malta.  It happened to be Carnival, which on Malta is festive and includes parades, but is not the sexy hedonistic 24-7 party you get in Rio.  The bus was packed with tourists and Maltese, including children dressed up for the holiday.   It was delightful to see the kids in costume – my favorite was the baby in the pirate costume, sucking a pacifier and banging his hands gleefully on his stroller – they’re very colorful.  It was like Halloween without the creepy aspect.  We saw princesses and medieval princes, gypsies, rag dolls, knights, tigers and dragons: adorable.

When we finally arrived at the ferry terminal, I’d napped for awhile – funny how even a ride on an ancient bus with bad shocks was more lulling than a smooth airplane ride – and we’d seen several of the small cities on Malta.  Once the half-hour ferry ride was over, it was starting to get dusk, and rather than attempt to figure out the bus schedule on the island of Gozo, we simply grabbed a taxi to the Cornucopia Hotel in Xaghra.  I held on to The CEO’s hand pretty tightly, because (as we were to find out), the taxi drivers on Gozo regard speed limits and lane dividers as mere guidelines for the uninitiated.  It was hair-raising.  Our room was not fancy by American standards, but the bed was extremely comfortable, and we took a nap before our excellent dinner at the hotel restaurant, which featured traditional Gozitan Carnival foods, such as Rabbit and Mushrooms in Wine Sauce, roasted potatoes and vegetables, crusty bread, local wine, and an interesting dessert called Prinjolata.

Sunday, Mar. 5:  We slept late, got up and had a delicious and extravagant breakfast at our hotel (fresh pastries, fruit, cheeses, bacon, eggs, grilled tomatoes, juice), then went back to sleep until early afternoon, when we walked over to the town of Victoria to meet our host for a introductory tour of Gozo.  It’s not far from Xaghra (pronounced something like Shaaah-rah, with the R rolled in the back of the throat), but the way is very steep down, and then pretty steep back up.  Ouch.  In any case, we walked around the town of Victoria (originally Rabat, before the British showed up), through the adjacent town of Fontana, and down a nice, newly paved road (you cannot count on this feature of roads on Gozo!) to the seaside village of Xlendi.   We ate mushroom pizza and bruschetta, talked to some pleasant Canadian ladies who were also attending the conference, and enjoyed the small harbor there before heading back to Victoria where we stayed for part of the Carnival celebrations.  These included a parade and dance performances by what seemed to be mostly teenagers, dressed to the nines in colorful theme costumes.   Fun.

All photos, except the Malta map which is from Lonely Planet, courtesy of The CEO.  More Malta/Rome travelogue to come in a few days.

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