Archive for May, 2011

Iwo Jima Memorial, photo from Life magazine

In memory of those who gave their lives in service to their country, and in honor of those who served…

Today I remember Army 1st Lt. Terry L. Plunk. “Killed on February 25, 1991, while clearing mines at As-Salam Airfield, Kuwait. Graduate of the Virginia Military Institute. Lt. Plunk was the equivalent of the valedictorian at his graduation and the top CE graduate for 1988 at VMI.”  [courtesy of jenerette.com]  Terry graduated two years ahead of me in high school, and a nicer guy there never was.  Valedictorian, wrestler, yearbook staff, class president, Prom King, all that – and still he managed to notice the quiet kids, the ones outside the popular circle, and give them a smile and a kind word.  Before heading off to duty, Terry told his worried mother, “I know it’s dangerous.  But Mom, if I die over there, I’ll be in Jesus’ arms before my body hits the ground.”  Thanks for your service, Terry, and for the smiles.  I’ll see you again.

I honor my dad, who served as supplymaster aboard a destroyer tender in the Navy in the early 1960s.  He ws stationed at Portsmouth, VA, and his ship never went any farther than Florida; at the time, the Atlantic Fleet was not deployed.

I honor my brother-in-law Bob, who served  in Desert Shield/Desert Storm, and who has recently returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

My deep thanks to the veterans, and those currently serving in our armed forces. 

Bookworm, May 2011, holding the Girls' Track team district trophy

Sixteen years ago on this day, I held Bookworm for the first time.  I’ve always been very proud of her, but never more so than now.  She is a fine young lady, and I thank God for her every day.  Sweetheart, my butterfly girl, I love you.  Happy birthday!


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Monday, May 23: Sunny and warm, in the low 80s, but very humid. Probably will rain today. SOTMorning: Mary Greenwell Plum, which I still love to tiny little itty bitty pieces. Testing in the afternoon, one on each wrist back, two formulations for Laurie Erickson’s (Sonoma Scent Studio) upcoming summer scent. I like them both very much, with a slight preference for the “C” formula over the “B” one. It’s a soft white floral, but clearly identifiable as an SSS fragrance, with that lovely rich base and the beeswax. It’s delicious; not all that far from Amaranthine, actually, but without the focus on ylang-ylang and milky notes.

Bookworm’s spring band concert this evening went long, two whole hours. Taz was a squirmy bundle of nerves – he didn’t eat much dinner, and he kept complaining he was hungry. Very late getting the kids in bed. SOTEvening: Ferre 20. Rain.

Tuesday, May 24: Wanted to wear Jour Ensoleille again, but couldn’t find my sample. Wound up with Le Temps d’une Fete instead, which I continually adore. Hot in the morning, rain and thunderstorms in the evening. Hayley Dog gets scared by the thunder, and goes down to cower under The CEO’s desk. No amount of petting or sweet words can coax her out when she’s nervous like this, although I’ll bet a friendly hand holding bacon would do the trick.

Wednesday, May 25: Sunny, hot, and humid – I was sure it was going to rain today, but it didn’t. SOTMorning: Voluspa Mignonette, which reminded me a great deal of Rochas Tocadilly, with a brief almond note in the middle. It’s pretty, but inconsequential. SOTAfternoon: Rose d’Ete, which I love. It was my first niche purchase, in 2009, with birthday money (ebay, tester, considerably discounted). Took Bookworm and Gaze to the high school for the $10 school physicals. Local doctors donate some time one day a year toward providing these physicals, which are required for all middle and high school students participating in a sport. It’s something of a melee, but it’s still better than dragging a kid off to the doctor’s office and paying $35. (Oh, and I found the Jour Ensoleille sample; it had rolled under the Wedgwood plate, a wedding gift that I keep on the dresser to hold things like earrings and lipsticks and safety pins… and samples.)

Thursday, May 26: SOTD: Petite Cherie, which I also love. (I find it very light and very comforting. It’s probably as close to cologne as I get: light, ephemeral, cooling. I keep it in the fridge.) Dropped kids off at school and started to do a “few errands” for The CEO, while he and Jeff the Hired Guy worked cattle, giving them a dewormer pour-on medication, and injections of a preventive vaccine called 7-Way, which inoculates against seven different very nasty cow diseases. I was to go to my erstwhile workplace and pick up a battery cable end for the truck, then go to the post office and mail two large envelopes to the IRS-USDA and the Farm Service Agency (also a government entity), and after that, deposit some checks at the bank. While I was at the NAPA store hearing about how hectic things have been since I left (three new hires, one after the other, who’ve already left, within 10 weeks!), The CEO called to see if I’d go pick up a 50-dose bottle of 7-Way, and two jugs of Cylence (the dewormer) at 5-C Farm and Home Supply in P—–, the next town over. I said, “Sure.” He called back in just a few moments to tell me that they didn’t have it, and I’d need to go to Southern States, a half-hour drive in the other direction.

So off I went to Southern States. While I was there, he called back and told me he also needed a bag of trace minerals with selenium, two bags of dicalcium phosphate, and a 50-dose bottle of Pasteurella. Oh, and while I was at it, I could go by the FSA office since I was already going to be in C-burg and drop off his mail instead of taking it to the post office.

I did all this, and also went by the fancy grocery store in R—– for a few things, including some wonderful JonaGold apples and turkey kielbasa and a bottle of Australian Pinot Grigio, which you cannot get either at Wal-mart or at Wade’s grocery store in town here. I’d left at 8 am, and it was 11:15 before I got home, unloaded the minerals and Cylence in the farm shop, and put the groceries and the cow medications in the fridge. (Doesn’t everybody keep cow meds in the fridge? No?)

Mowed the grass. SOTAfternoon: DSH Chypre Grass (recreation of Jovan Grass). I’ve worn it before to mow, and it’s very nice. Didn’t blow my little brain sideways like her recreation of Coty Chypre did, but it’s extremely pleasant.

Then the mail showed up, with a package from Dear Daisy which included small 5ml splits of Hilde Soliani Il Tuo Tulipano and Illuminum White Gardenia Petals, as well as a few samples of almond fragrances that she sent me out of the kindness of her heart. I spritzed on the White Gardenia Petals, and it’s a pretty, sanitized, forgettable white floral that lasts about an hour. Nice, and certainly the sort of light lacy thing a bride might pick, but nothing to write home about, of course. I knew this was a possibility, but someone says “white floral” and I tend to salivate. Sigh. Actually, Voluspa Mignonette was more interesting than WGP. Double sigh.

And then the dishwasher installation guys called to say they’d arrive between 3:30 and 5:00 pm, if that was okay. That was definitely okay – I’ve been looking forward to the new dishwasher. A busy day, though. Got nothing written except today’s Scent Diary entry. (The dishwasher works great, by the way. But if you happen to walk through the darkened kitchen while it’s running, it’s very Star Trekky, all blinky blue lights. Eerie.)

Friday, May 27: I headed off with Gaze at 4:30 this morning to drop him off at the middle school for his field trip to Petersburg, where the 6th graders will explore Pamplin Park, a “living history” Civil War site.  SOTD: Hilde Soliani Il Tuo Tulipano.  I’d tried this before from a sample, and I enjoyed it very much.  Spraying from a small decant (thanks, Dear Daisy!) brings out a beautiful creamy quality.  I like this a lot.

[I can understand why some people are puzzled by the Southern fixation on Civil War history – but, you see, the Civil War happened here, and it didn’t happen all that long ago. As I mentioned in this post, a battle took place within a few miles of my husband’s family farm, with the farmhouse itself being used as a field hospital for officers. And my own great-grandfather, then in his teens, set off with the County Home Guard, comprised of teenagers and old men, when he heard that the Yankees were coming. In fact, the family story goes that he set out dressed as he would dress to do farm work: barefoot and hatless. And he was armed with, get this: a musket, a weapon which was a good forty years out of date and no match for cannon. Luckily for him, getting the cannons up Cloyd Mountain turned out to be quite the chore for the Federals. The battle, mired down in very uneven ground, turned to hand-to-hand fighting, and by that I mean bayonets and knives and fisticuffs. I doubt very much my Kidd great-grandfather had a bayonet; that would have been standard army issue, and he wasn’t regular army. He might have had a knife. He might even have turned tail and run; hillbilly boys have a marked sense of self-preservation. In any case, he made it home alive. My mother inherited his gunpowder flask, a tarnished brass item hanging from a metal chain, much dented. I can deplore the Confederacy’s position and rhetoric and indefensible adherence to slavery at the same time that I admire the impulse that could drive a young man to battle in defense of his home, all the while barefoot and inadequately armed. Was he brave or just foolhardy? I don’t know. But he’s part of my history, and it would be foolhardy of me to forget him, or the circumstances under which he lived.]

The CEO headed off with Bookworm, taking her to the Virginia HOBY (Hugh O’Brien Youth) Leadership Conference, held this weekend at James Madison University in Harrisonburg. Since both his siblings were off doing fun things today, this evening we humored Taz in the matter of dinner (crispy chicken strips, broccoli, oven fries) and a movie (Men in Black).

Saturday, May 28: A little cooler today, in the low 80s. Cleaned the house. The boys went out with their dad and Jeff to work cows again, but it wasn’t long before Gaze came back in, sporting itchy pink eyes, a runny nose, and welts all over his chest and back and neck. Apparently he’d run into something (thistles? Some other weed?) in the barn lot that had caused an allergic reaction. I sent him straight into the shower and then stuffed him full of antihistamine, and he was feeling much better within half an hour. Scary, though.

SOTD: Santa Maria Novella Fieno (Hay). Which is not very haylike, or – as it occurs to me now – not very much like the smell of hay that I think of, which is drying hay, either lying out in the field getting ready to be baled, or recently baled and ready to move. I’m not the one who feeds the cows in the winter, so I suppose I don’t even have much of a reference for cured dry hay. Ensiled hay, I know what that smells like too. SOTEvening: Cuir de Lancome.

And by the way, the word for what you do with hay, or for a big pile of it all bundled up, is BALE. Not bail: that’s either the handle on a bucket, or what you do to the water in the bottom of the boat, or what you pay the jail to get out before trial. I saw this word misspelled in a published novel the other day, and my jaw dropped in sheer astonishment. Anchor Books/Doubleday pay people to edit and proofread. I should have had that kind of job.

And while I’m on the subject, the word for that shelf over the fireplace is MANTEL. Not mantle: that’s either a cloaklike garment or a layer of the earth’s structure. The mixups drive me crazy. (Yes, I know that none of this is vitally important to life, the universe and everything. I don’t care. If it’s your job to make sure that the words are spelled correctly in a book, for heaven’s sake, make sure. Gah. It’s just as easy to get it right as it is to get it wrong.)

Sunday, May 29: Went to JMU to pick up Bookworm from her HOBY conference. Apparently she had a good time, but I’m disconcerted by the repeated claim that HOBY “teaches young people how to think, not what to think,” and then encourages the unison shouting of repeated slogans. It was allll just a little bit too Mao Youth to be comfortable for me. HOBY emphasizes leadership and community service, so I guess it’s fine…

SOTD: Mary Greenwell Plum. (The CEO says it’s pretty, by the way.) I might want to go back through the Scent Diary week by week to see whether there has actually been a week since the last part of November, when I got my little decant, when I have not worn it.

Top image is 1920s ad for Parfums Djemil from eBay.  Hayfield photo from Wikipedia.

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I was reading over some of this blog’s perfume reviews the other day, and it occurred to me that I don’t regularly mention how much a particular perfume cost. Sometimes I do, of course – if it’s really exclusive, or hard to get, or if it’s a spectacular deal on eBay – but not all the time. I think I ought to mention price, because whether I say so or not, it’s always a consideration for me. I have a few decants of very-expensive things, but rarely a full bottle that wasn’t bought on ebay or at an online discounter.

In fact, I have only a few purchases that I bought at retail, and one of them, Ferre 20, came from that little perfume store in Rome (50ml, about $72). My treasured bottle of Tabac Aurea came directly from Sonoma Scent Studio (30ml at $42). And I did buy a bottle of Parfums de Nicolai Le Temps d’une Fete during a 15% off sale at Lucky Scent (or was it BeautyHabit? Can’t remember.), 30ml for $37. Everything else came via eBay, or online: tester, discontinued, deeply discounted, sometimes even used.

I like it that way. If you’re wondering whether your only recourse is to buy perfumes at the mall at regular prices (there is never a fragrance sale at Belk’s or Macy’s, I’ve found out), the answer is NO.

First, I highly recommend investigating independent perfume houses. You can pick up some stunning things for not much money at Sonoma Scent Studio, DSH Perfumes, Smell Bent, and the old-school Hove Parfumeur in New Orleans. Caveat: quite a number of the indie houses which make very, very good scents – such as Neil Morris, Tauer Perfumes, Anya’s Garden, Aftelier, Strange Invisible Perfumes, Roxana Illuminated Perfume, Ayala Moriel, and Velvet & Sweet Pea’s Purrfumery, use high proportions of natural botanical ingredients, or even go 100% natural. Such things can be wildly expensive. Check the current list from the Natural Perfumer’s Guild to see where you might find naturals, and consequently, pricey, wonderful scents. (DSH Perfumes’ scents range from all-natural to a lower percentage of naturals, and the prices vary accordingly.)  Many of these independent perfumers offer a sample program.

I highly recommend eBay. I have found gently-used fragrances at a very reduced cost. For example: a 90%-full bottle of vintage Chanel No. 19 edt, a nearly-full bottle of 1950s No. 5 parfum, a nearly-full bottle of Mariella Burani ($15! and I wear it all the time!). I’ve also bought testers in boxes – Diorissimo (2006, before its soul got sucked out of it), L’Arte di Gucci – that were in excellent shape. In a lot of cases, the only way to get some scents is to buy someone’s unused, unloved bottle, because those scents have been discontinued for a long time. For example, the Lauren by Ralph Lauren that you can currently buy at Macy’s does not smell like the Lauren that was released in my 1980s youth, but I bought a small, half-full bottle of 1993 Lauren for $8, and it’s beautiful, and I don’t need more than about 10ml of Lauren. That was a great deal for me.

That said, here are the (biggest) eBay caveats:

  1. You cannot tell in what condition the perfume has been kept. You could wind up buying a bottle that sat on Aunt Sadie’s dresser for 30 years, soaking up sunlight and deteriorating beyond all hope.
  2. Let’s face it, some sellers will use a stock photo instead of the photo of their actual item, thus misleading you: “Is this bottle of Acqua di Parma Profumo the vintage in the red box? The picture shows a red box. Must be the one I want. What a bargain price!” And you bid, and it turns out to be an old stock photo, and you wind up with the perfume in the white box (which I hear is good but not the same as the old).
  3. You can get caught up in the whole I MUST HAVE IT mindset, particularly when dealing with auctions of rare, vintage, and hard to find items. “I’ll just increase that bid $2, and it’s mine,” you might think, but in practice, it’s going to wind up being more like $15 more than you wanted to pay. Or $40 more than the price you wanted. Avoid this. I mean it: set a ceiling price, an “I will not pay more than $38 [or whatever price] for this bottle,” resolution, and stick to it. You can snipe, if you’re desperate. I find I rarely am.

Please see this excellent article on protecting yourself while buying on eBay and from online discounters from Helg at Perfume Shrine.

I highly recommend discounters such as FragranceNet, FragranceX, Parfum1, etc. (Sorry, not adding links here – you can find these guys on your own Google search time.) I’ve heard warnings about the super-cheap places like 99Perfume, but I’ve ordered several times from 99Perfume and been very satisfied with what I’ve gotten: mostly back stock of recently-discontinued scents like Cuir de Lancome, or tester bottles like Teo Cabanel Alahine. I’ve also ordered from 1stPerfume and had no trouble, although I’ll concede that I bought discontinued old stock – Crown Perfumery Crown Bouquet – rather than rare and hard to find things. If you’re concerned that your scent might have been stored under less-than-optimal conditions, don’t run a risk with the discounters. However, I haven’t had any problems at all.

I’ve also heard good things about mall perfume kiosks, which work a lot like the online discounters except that they sell from a physical location. I don’t have access to any of these kiosks. I’m jealous of those of you that do.

I highly recommend involving yourself with a group of people that split bottles. I can’t invite all of you to join the group I’m a member of, because it’s large enough to be getting unwieldy and adding to the membership is discouraged at this point. However, I can suggest that you start your own group – on Google, on Facebook – and invite other blog commenters. Someone has to be willing to host the split at bottle cost + atomizer & shipping, which is a pain in the behind (I’ve only hosted one very small split, a 50ml bottle split three ways) but fun. Also, forums such as Basenotes, Makeup Alley, or Fragrantica discourage the discussion of bottle splits on their spaces, largely because a) perfume houses hate splitters, which is short-sighted but sadly true and b) the forums do not need the legal hassle of potential liability caused by the possibility of a forum member believing that a particular split is “approved” by the forum and then getting burned and deciding to sue. To be open about it, I’ve only ever been disappointed with one split among this membership-only Google split group, and that was because we had a member who was really in it to make money. This became apparent pretty quickly, and the member was asked to resign. All other bottle splits I’ve participated in have gone beautifully, and in most cases I’ve wound up with 5ml atomizers of scents I could never afford a full bottle of: Carnal Flower and Amouage Lyric Woman, for example.

If you don’t know anybody else who’s interested in perfume, join one of the fragrance forums and start posting brief reviews and commenting on threads. I personally find Makeup Alley (MUA), which could be the first of the fragrance forums, difficult to negotiate, and a little clicquish. Basenotes is jam-packed full of guys (and I have very little interest in targeted-masculine scents, for which you can chastise me if it really bugs you, but as I always say, You Like What You Like). Like the other two, Fragrantica has its share of members who find it necessary to keep asking the desperate question, “What perfume do guys like on girls?” but on the whole, it’s easy to use, it takes the trouble to list the fragrance notes, it has a cool “wardrobe” feature, and a lively swap board. I haven’t done any swaps in a long time – partly because it takes so much time, and also because my post office is a PITB.

Another avenue to explore is the decanters, such as The Perfumed Court or The Posh Peasant.  You can also check out Scent Splits, which is ostensibly for bottle splits, but I think several of the people selling on there are actually decanters.  The ones I’ve dealt with have been fellow perfume fans, not dedicated entrepreneurs, and it’s been a good experience.  Often, you will pay more per milliliter than you would if you were buying a bottle – but the decanters make a little extra because they’re going out on a limb and buying the perfume up front, hoping to sell part of it.  If you think it’s too expensive, then don’t indulge, but buying a 5ml decant of something you think you’re going to love at $1.80/ml (for example) is still better than buying a full 100ml bottle of it at $1.42/ml and then finding out you don’t enjoy the fragrance enough to wear it.

You can also investigate yard sales, estate sales, and thrift stores, particularly if you’re looking for older fragrances. I never have luck with this, because I never go to yard sales, and because the thrift stores in my area do not accept or sell perfume, and also because I live in an economically depressed area where hardly anyone bought, say, Jean Patou Joy in 1953 and tucked the box under their girdles in their underwear drawers for nearly sixty years. At a local yard sale, I might pick up a battered, nearly-empty bottle of Chanel No. 5 eau de cologne, or any number of Avon bottles in the shape of pigs, racecars, pistols, girl dancing minuets, or cats, but that is probably going to be it for vintage fragrance here in Southwest Virginia.

If cost is a big problem for you, and you need quantity at a low price, there’s always the drugstore glass-fronted cabinet. It’s kept locked, of course, because of scummy people who steal stuff, and there are hardly ever any testers (people steal those, too). My CVS and Walgreen’s pharmacies frequently run sale specials on fragrance: Buy one, get 50% off a second item of equal or lesser value. Or a straight 20% off. They sell some nice inexpensive things as well as the dreck, and also some of the more widely-used mainstream scents, like Shalimar EdT and Light Blue and all the Britney Spears fragrances. Do not get me started on the current version of Coty Emeraude. But Jovan Musk for Women, 30 ml for about $15, is still lovely, and still, in my humble opinion, better than Serge Lutens’ far-pricier Clair du Musc. And despite years of my dissing Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds for being a celebuscent, I recently found that the parfum is rather nice. It’s a bit dated, a truckload of white florals on a rich woody-chypre base, complete with an ashtray accord, but it smells good all the same. A 7.5ml bottle of parfum is currently selling at my CVS for $12.99.

Fear not, frugal fumies! You don’t have to break the bank, or sell a kidney, to enjoy scented luxuries. Anyone who’d like to share where they find the best deals, please dish! We’d all be grateful.
Top photo is Piggy from beaut.ie.  Center photos is Vintage Perfume Lot from seller mame3338 at eBay.  Lower one is Rosemont Flea market from Wikimedia Commons.

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A couple of months ago, I got an email from jeandesprez.com, announcing the upcoming release of a new Jean Desprez fragrance, and half-off deals on Bal a Versailles, the amazing, old-school floral oriental that has a list of notes a mile long, and that is famous among perfumistas for, in certain concentrations, being full of skank. I like BaV a lot and own a small bottle of PdT (ebay, about $4) and one of parfum (won from Fragrantica) that I don’t wear often because it’s full and rich and tres Francais, and, to be honest, a little bit demanding to wear.

The new Jean Desprez fragrance retains the “sexy allure” of the past with a hint of independence.  Please help us evaluate several formulations.

So of course I was interested in testing anything released by the makers of Bal a Versailles (famously worn by Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Jackson, just to name two). The deal was, the JD people were field-testing multiple variants and getting feedback from bloggers who’d mentioned it and members of Basenotes.net before deciding on the final formula. Testers would not know the fragrance notes for the scent they were testing until after feedback had been given. JD was continuing the tradition of excellent perfumery, yada yada, courting the fragrance community, yada yada, making perfumes that could stand the test of time, yada yada, the testers would be collectors’ items, yada yada. I bought this hook, line and sinker (well, except for the “collectors’ items” bit, I’m not that dumb). They make BaV, I said. Of course it would be great, I said. I signed up for a bottle. I announced it on the blog.

I was naïve.

Parfum de toilette bottle of Bal a Versailles, from perfumezilla.com

In due course, my box arrived, and it was attractive – a neat, closely-fitting white box containing a nice heavy round bottle wrapped in layers of white tissue paper, with Jean Desprez “Gold” hand-written on the bottle in gold paint pen. The bottle is the standard one used for Bal a Versailles EdT, the current iteration, which I wasn’t familiar with until researching later. My small bottles are rather different.

When I sprayed “Gold” on some paper, my first thought was “Angel!” After the second spray, I thought of Xerjoff Elle, that rich heady floral-caramel thing that costs $600 a bottle, except with cotton candy instead of caramel. Upon the third spray, I thought, “Neither one – it’s Brut + Juicy Fruit.” Upon the fourth spray, my thought was, “You know, I give up. I don’t care what the structure of this thing is, it’s dreadful.”

And I haven’t budged from that point of view since.

Gold starts out with a big burst of cotton candy – which is why, I suppose, I immediately thought of Angel – followed by a delicious mixed-fruit note. Think Hawaiian Punch, and you’d be close. But under the fruit is something very traditionally masculine: lavender and coumarin, I’m guessing. It’s sort of a Carmen Miranda-Brut-Angel*, and if you sniff too close, your stomach will turn. From a distance, say from arm’s length, Gold is less disturbing but still has the gender-bendy weirdness of Angel, what with the fruit, the ethylmaltol, and the… whatever that shaving cream thing is. There are also some dense florals (rose and jasmine, definitely) in there, and they’re the best part of the fragrance, but they’re completely overshadowed by the fougere/ethylmaltol. [*Slightly disturbing side note: I think Brut Angel would be a fabulous name for a rock band.]

I hate it. And like every scrubber that ever existed, it lasts for EVER. I got nine and a half hours from one spray on my wrist, and since overspray went onto my shirt, I actually smelled like this for twelve hours, until I just couldn’t stand it anymore and took the shirt off. Then I took a shower. I could still smell Gold afterwards, but at least the level had been knocked down to “bearable.” Worse, I put that one spray on and went down to the computer desk, and a week later, the desk smells like Gold. The stuff has the half-life of plutonium.

I saw a mention of the JD fragrance from a fumie friend on Facebook (Hi, Rustic Dove!) and started discussing it with her. It turned out that she’d gotten a different formulation, called “Platine” (Platinum), and didn’t like it. We exchanged samples.

Rustic told me that Platine was not her thing. She also comments that she smells a pipe tobacco note in Gold, which I didn’t get, but that might be because by the time she mentioned it, I was trying to wear Gold without actually smelling it or have it touch my skin, and that’s not optimal testing conditions. It’s possible that I might have been prejudiced against Platine from the start. However, I don’t think so. The best thing that I can say about Platine is that at least it doesn’t last as long as Gold.


Platine starts out with some bright, fruity citrus notes – and I mean fruity citrus like as in orange Life Savers, not fruity citrus as in freshly-squeezed lemonade with a slice of carambola on the side of the glass for decoration. It also contains some Yankee Candle-grade lavender, and, I think, some jasmine ingredient that never saw sunshine but was concocted by people in lab coats, as well as that overdose of citrus alcohols familiar to us from, yes, Light Blue. Platine lasts slightly less than forever; on skin it sticks around about 8 hours. It is tenacious as heck, but to my mind not nearly as annoying as Gold.

The first peony to bloom this year in my yard.

I think, also, that there may be a peony note in the mix. How do I know? Well, I confess that in the years immediately before my perfumista days, I was a big fan of peony-type fragrances like Victoria’s Secret Pink and The Healing Garden In Bloom (Coty), and wore only “fresh floral” scents. Peony, I know now, is strictly an aromachemical, not a natural fragrance material. Which is a shame because real peonies, like the Sarah Bernhardts blooming now in my front yard, smell wonderful, and I have yet to find a fragrance that smells like the scent of real peony: soft, petalled, fresh, green, with a hint of rose and another of berry jam. (No, Histoires des Parfums Vert Pivoine was Not It. I have hopes for Parfums de Nicolai Rose-Pivoine, though.)

I think I’d rather have Victoria’s Secret Pink than Jean Desprez Platine, to tell the truth.

After being terribly disappointed by both of these scents and starting to write my disillusioned reviews, I went digging around on the fragrance forums (fora?) to see if anyone else was disappointed. I uncovered these discussion threads on Basenotes and Fragrantica (click through for the threads) that indicate that nearly everyone who is currently a fumie is disappointed as well.

In case you can’t see these, the general consensus is that these are awful fragrances, and I’ve heard from no one who has seen any formulation other than Gold and Platine. One fumie had a friend who really liked Platine, but the other comments tend to be negative, with the most positive ones being only neutral (“Eh, it’s nothing special.”).

From Rustic Dove on Platine, feedback sent to Jean Desprez:

Platine was not my style at all. I was quite disappointed in the fragrance especially given that Bal a Versailles is one of my all time favorite scents. Platine seemed very synthetic and I had the impression that it’s aimed at the fruity floral loving demographic. As a perfume enthusiast, I prefer well crafted fragrances composed of quality ingredients. I love notes of sandalwood, patchouli, rose, iris, amber, incense and so on. Platine had a ‘fresh’, candy like and artificial aspect that I don’t care for.   There seems to be a ‘dumbing down’ trend in mainstream fragrances – so many of them smell alike and I find the trend to be frustrating and tiresome. If the other new Jean Desprez scents are still available for review, I would love the opportunity to test and compare them.

And then Dee of Beauty on the Outside posted her review of Platine the other day, and her reaction toward it was even more negative than mine. (Ah, but she hasn’t smelled Gold!)

I now believe that Jean Desprez has been bought out by some opportunistic marketing people who knew that they had a good thing going, and decided to capitalize on it by selling cheap chemical dreck on the strength of the Bal a Versailles name, while clearing the warehouses of BaV stock. I’m annoyed about it.

I still think it’s genius to court the perfume bloggers and the people who belong to fragrance forums; I’m just snarked that JD didn’t offer a sampler set, and even more snarked that the fragrances they came up with were so awful – derivative and clearly cheap.

Anybody else tried a formulation of the new Jean Desprez fragrance? Please comment, and feel free to tell me I’m nuts if you think so. I might be wrong. (I don’t think so, but it’s not impossible.)

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Caron Poivre, ad from ebay (item no longer available)

Monday, May 16: Chilly. Our typical “May tenth cold spell” has turned into the “First half of May cold spell.” To go along with that, it’s been so wet that we haven’t even tilled the garden, much less plant anything in it. Also, we’ve been having trouble with a) the septic drainfield and b) the dishwasher, and we had both The Septic Guys and The Dishwasher Repair Guy to come by this morning. The Septic Guys adjusted whatever it is they adjust in the distribution box for the drainfield, since the D-box (their term) had settled further since the last time they adjusted it two years ago: $50. The Dishwasher Guy told us that our pump is inadequate and probably should be replaced, and that would cost us about $400. He pointed out that our hard water and water softener and overuse of detergent had combined to cause problems for the pump, and recommended that before we repair the pump or replace the dishwasher, we should try running the dishwasher with very little detergent and a cup of vinegar, on a normal wash schedule, for the next two weeks to see if the vinegar might dissolve the coating of mineral gunk in the pump, because that sometimes works. Cost: $129. I hate Sears. Did anyone warn us about this? Nope.

SOTMorning: Lancome Tresor, modern edp. Which I rather like, but am not stirred by. No encomium from The CEO, either, just “It’s okay.” The CEO left this afternoon for a Cattlemen’s Beef Board meeting in Denver. He’ll be back Wednesday.  SOTAfternoon: Tauer Zeta. I dabbed it the way I usually dab Tauers, which tend to be huuuuge. Zeta’s very pretty, but it lasted only about 45 minutes. Heavier application seems to be in order.

SOTEvening: You know, scent-eating skin has its frustrations and its benefits. Being able to try three separate fragrances in a day, without carryover from one to the next (“Is that the first thing I tried, or the second? Can’t remember.”), is a benefit. I read Angela’s terrific review of L’Arte di Gucci on NST, and it prompted a full-on application of L’Arte. So gorgeous. So demanding.

Tuesday, May 17: SOTMorning was leftover L’Arte,which was wonderful. Worked on the novel for awhile; I keep hitting a roadblock with one of my major plot points, and I think I’m going to have to ditch that particular point, or give it a major overhaul – change it into something else.   SOTAfternoon: Diptyque Do Son. I don’t like this at all. I had intended to review it for the Tuberose Series, but I’m not sure at this point whether I can manage to wear it again. Bleargh.

Wednesday, May 18: Sunshine, yay! SOTD: Penhaligon’s Amaranthine. Yum. I like this one more and more: a milky floral. How many other fragrances do I say “yum” about? Very few, I’ll tell you. Amaranthine is not quite edible, and not quite simply floral. The CEO appreciated it very much, although that might have been because he hadn’t seen me for a couple of days.

Thursday, May 19: The dishwasher is not better, with treatments of vinegar. In fact, it’s doing worse. I’d have thought we’d see improvement by now. However, I’d like to give it at least a week before we ditch it and start over. SOTD: No. 5 Eau Premiere. Nice. It never goes wrong for me, never turns out to be the wrong choice, never fades into the background or tries to throttle me. (Well, No. 5 parfum doesn’t throttle me either, but it does deserve my attention, so I don’t wear it all that often.)

Friday, May 20: Was supposed to be sunny today, in the upper 70s, but no dice: cloudy and 68F. I got the lawn mowed, wearing (reformulated) Arpege. I still wish there were a way to merge the top/heart of the refo with the vintage base – the base is thin in the modern, and the florals are too rich in the vintage. Sigh.   SOTEvening: Cristina Bertrand #3. Nice relaxing white floral thing, a jasmine that doesn’t singe my nose hairs.

Saturday, May 21: It’s supposed to be the date of the Rapture. Jokes about this – how stupid Christians are – are alllll over the ‘net. I’m utterly sick of it. I mean, the whole thing is silly. I do believe Jesus will return and things will change, because he said he would. But. First, nobody, not even the angels, knows when (Matt. 24:36, and yes, I know that if you put no faith in the Bible, this won’t mean anything to you, but if you do believe it, the way this nutcase preacher says he does, you ought to have better sense than to think you’ve got secret knowledge of what even Jesus doesn’t know). Second, I don’t think we can have any idea what that return is going to be like. Third, judging by media reports and my admittedly-unscientific, unofficial poll of status reports on Facebook, apparently everybody who isn’t a believer in Jesus thinks that all Christians are idiots because we all think the world will end on a certain date, with the favored ones flying up into the air like loose helium balloons. News flash: we don’t all believe that. I’m going to stop there without continuing the tirade, because Tirades Don’t Help Anything.

Whew. Rant over.

Bookworm holding the 2011 Girls' Track & Field District team cup, with her bestie Grace behind her, photo by The CEO

Bookworm’s track meet, over the past two days, went well.  Her girls’ team won the district meet with a good margin, and Bookworm was pleased to have contributed to the points.  She’s still making recovery from that sprained ankle in March, so she wasn’t running any of her better events (i.e., the 1600m or 3200m).  On Friday, her 4 x 800m relay came in fourth.  Today, her 4 x 400m relay came in fifth, and she finished 11th out of 16 runners in the individual 800m, well out of point range but with a personal record of 2:37.   Her high school’s district is really tough for distance runners; we looked up the meet stats for the districts surrounding ours, and with that time, she’d have placed 4th in one district, 3rd in another, and outright won another.  I’m very proud of her effort.

SOTD: LeLong pour Femme. This is beautiful – smooth, floral, flirty, sweet, a 1940s pinup girl in lace and maribou slippers. It’s not doing much to counteract my general irritation, though.

I warned The CEO about wearing his Curt Schilling Red Sox tee-shirt while watching the Sox play the Chicago Cubs. “That could be construed as taunting,” I said. “Sure you want to risk a jinx?” He looked at me in puzzlement. “It’s just the Cubs.” Turned out he might indeed have jinxed the Red Sox – they lost to the mediocre-at-best Cubs, 9-3.

Sunday, May 22: Surprise, surprise, the world did not end yesterday, and we went to church with all the other non-raptured Christians. SOTD: Nuit de Tubereuse. Which The CEO had once commented that he found “enticing,” but which I don’t care much for (the mildew, the mango, the not-very-tuberose-ness of it). This go-round, he said he thought there was something sharp, like rubbing alcohol, in it, and he didn’t like it. Come to think of it, when he said something before about liking it, it was in its most tuberosey stage. I think I need to try him on some other white floral favorites; I know he likes original Chloe because he told me so.

We went by Sears and bought a new dishwasher. I may have mentioned that we’ve been having trouble with the DW for the past six months or so, and that its cleaning abilities have gone seriously downhill over the last two weeks… if I didn’t, now you know how long it’s been a problem. The CEO said, “I am really tired of not having clean dishes come out of the dishwasher. And I can wash them myself, but I’d rather not have to.” Ergo, new dishwasher with Big Gun Super Jet Blasting Power, and a separate filter that can be removed and cleaned, unlike our current (cheapie) one. Should be installed next Friday. Also, because the Dishwasher Repair Guy had made a service call, we got $65 more off the 30% off sale price. Still expensive, and I’m hoping this one manages to last more than five years, which has been our track record with dishwashers since we moved out to the farm, with its off-the-charts hard water.

SOTEvening: Miss Dior, vintage parfum (thanks, Tamara!). When I opened this vial last week and sniffed it, Miss Dior tried to stick me with a big sharp knife. I recapped it and shuddered at my narrow escape. This evening, I decided I was just cranky enough to threaten her back if she tried any funny business. “Watch it, missy,” I told her, popping the vial cap, “I can drown you right out with No. 19, if necessary.” Turns out that on skin, Miss Dior is smoothly powdery, strongly reminiscent of makeup, a warm skin scent that I would probably wear for myself. Nobody else in my family liked it (four noses turned up in unison, four Ewwwws), although Gaze said, “Aldehydes. And amber, maybe. And now I smell… herbs?” I still don’t love MD, but I certainly appreciate the chance to smell it.

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At long last, here are the reviews from the sample drawing we did about a month ago.  I had picked names out of my grandmother’s pink Depression glass bowl for samples of these fragrances that I (mostly) did not get on with, exceptions L’Origan and L’Heure Bleue, but that I felt were good fragrances that someone might like to get acquainted with.  Winners were to test the samples and then let us know what they thought, at least three sentences’ worth.  Thanks, everybody, for being such good sports and writing such interesting reviews!

Tulip won the sample of Philosykos.   She shared her thoughts with me in an email: 

 As far as the review goes- I’ve been writing it in my heads for days and trying to come up with something new to add. It reminds me of a grocery bag full of veggies and fruits plus cedar. And, I do get the fig scent, but I just don’t get why it has such a ‘cult’ status.  L’Artisan released their Figuier two years earlier, which was also by O.G. [Olivia Giacobetti]. I guess it was the newness of the fig note that excited the US audience (NST’s Robin raved in 2005, although Philosykos was released in 1996 (at least in France). I also think it is a functional scent – good for hotels,etc.; plus the candles are much more stylish than Yankee candles. Mals, I am so indifferent to figs! But the sycomore fig (ficus?) trees can be huge and are historically important for feeding Eyptian, etc peoples for years (the figs, that is). I can’t find any info about figs used in early perfumes or incense, so maybe OG was the first to incorporate it in a nonfood product. At about the same time as Philosykos was released the first ‘unisex’ perfumes were marketed (some at Basenotes say a Calvin Klein, cKOne). To me, Philosykos seems more like a sexless fragrance. As you can tell, I don’t especially like it for myself. I’m glad to have the chance to try it, and apologize for really not being able to review it approprately.   PS  I will turn in my perfumista card.

Well, I didn’t like Philosykos, either, Tulip.  I don’t think you have to like it.  In fact, I don’t care at all for fig fragrances, due to the fig leaf note, which seems both milky and bitter to me.  (I like marigold, galbanum, and myrrh, all of which could charitably be described as “bitter,” but fig leaf is a big N.O. for my taste.)  And I think it’s interesting that you’ve described Philosykos as “a sexless fragrance,” which could mean “unisex,” like the  Calvin Klein scent you mentioned – or it could mean that it’s not a personal smell at all, but rather a room ambience sort of smell.

Barbara won the sample of Bas de Soie.  Here’s her review, and I also encourage you to go check out her blog, Yesterday’s Perfume, which focuses on gems of the past. 

Bas de Soie (“Silk Stockings”) is a stone cold fox of a perfume. Where most Serge Lutens fragrances take you to worlds where everything seems a little sweatier, spicier, smellier, funkier and more alive, Bas de Soie will take you to a cold and lunar world that seems to exist in deep freeze: bloodless, pale, and filmed in silver nitrate stock. From the color of the perfume (a pale hyacinth), its iris note’s metallic coolness, to the bracing, peppery greenness of the opening, and even the clean smooth finish of its dry down, Bas de Soie is a bit forbidding in its loveliness.
The first time I smelled it, though, my brain immediately said, “Secretions Magnifique,” Etats Libre d’Orange’s punk perfume with its crazy accords (iodine, adrenaline) that succeeded in evoking spunk (yeah, that kind), sweat, tears, and blood.
Although Bas de Soie starts off with a wonderfully bracing peppery and green note, there is something fetid and funky going on underneath (hence the reference to Secretions Magnifique). Others have noticed it, too, and although they have different ways to describe this off-note (fishy, stale cigarette), it definitely creates a dissonance with the perfume’s predominant cleanliness/soapiness, and ties this perfume, as different as it is from Lutens’ other perfumes, to his aesthetic of funk.

 Bas de Soie then progresses to a milky-fresh floral heart, but it’s a disturbing fresh, like the smell of an aloe vera-like plant whose engorged leaf you snap open to illicitly smell its vegetal…well, magnificent secretions. Peppery green, milk-fresh floral, powder, and then something I cannot put my finger (my foot?) on.
In Bas de Soie, Lutens once again deploys iris in a perfume. But instead of the carroty-dirt rootiness of Iris Silver Mist, we get an iris that, while retaining its characteristic iciness and hauteur, Lutens has added a bit of a back-story to, a narrative, or at least a tableau. For me that tableau involves a woman from the 1930s coming home from a night on the town. In the way that Frederic Malle’s Lipstick Rose quoted the smell of vintage lipstick, Bas de Soie does one better and quotes the smell of fingernail polish/and or remover, hairspray, lipstick, vintage perfume, powder… and the way your feet smell after you remove stockings, no matter how well you’ve showered or perfumed yourself.
Of Bas de Soie, Lutens has said, “the beam balance never settles between iris and hyacinth in the main accord, which is what makes the composition interesting.” For me, although two cold notes are indeed battling it out in the empyrean air of Bas de Soie, there’s that unmistakable foot odor that keeps the perfume grounded in a some kind of embodied, living world. How could a perfume called “Silk Stockings” by Lutens not reference foot odor, somehow? It’s very faint, though, lest anyone get scared off now…

Rabbit Moon

When I was wearing Bas de Soie and trying to figure it out, I had a few rotating images that kept popping into my head, some having to do with the perfume’s “color,” and others actual pictures. The high register that it stays in reminds me of a gorgeous and rare silver nitrate print of Kenneth Anger’s Rabbit Moon I had the privilege of seeing at the SF Moma screening room: Icy, blue and poignant. Also, Picasso’s Blue Period. (There’s that sad blue again.) And I thought of those Edward Hopper paintings with lone women staring out the window, or getting undressed alone in hotel rooms. Even Blue Velvet, with Isabella Rossellini’s retro look as she’s singing…
If you can’t tell, I really loved Bas de Soie. Another Serge Lutens — this time delicate, lyrical, and feminine — that made my brain work overtime to figure it out.

Barbara included a few other images that I didn’t have room to add here, but if you’re interested, you could certainly Google for Picasso Blue Period or Edward Hopper to see them.  Thanks, Barbara!

Undina won the sample of Antonia.  Here’s her brief, but heartfelt, review, and you can see more of her perfumed thoughts at her blog, Undina’s Looking Glass:

When I smelled Puredistance Antonia on my wrist for the first time the adjective that flashed in my mind was “bewitching”. The scent was so unusual, so unexpected… It doesn’t remind me of any other scent I wore up till now. Now I got used to it, I anticipate our next encounter so I’m not shocked but still a little amazed. Every time.

It is very potent: several touches of the vial’s applicator give enough sillage and a staying power is just amazing. Not sure I could stand it sprayed: it might be too much. But from a dab vial it is just enough. A couple of times I felt almost tired of it but it never crossed this line. What is interesting about Antonia, on my skin for the first two hours it smells exactly the same, without changing or developing: sharp green scent with a hint of … rubber? Then it mellows down a little, becomes creamier and sweeter – and stays like that for hours. I tried Antonia four times on my wrist and once even wore it (meaning, I applied it as I would any other perfume if I was using it, not just testing). I couldn’t stop sniffing my wrist on all five occasions. I enjoy wearing this perfume and I will be wearing it again. A full bottle worth? I don’t know yet. It might be.

TaffyJ won the sample of Jitterbug.  This reviewer actually jitterbugs!  (Cool how that draw worked out, isn’t it?) Enjoy this review:

Jitterbug is my introduction to the DSH Perfumes line, and I am digging this gorgeous little number. Jitterbug is a lovely homage to those smart, sexy gals of the 1940’s. It certainly has a vintage sensibility about it.  After two applications, by the end of the day I was dying for a cigarette…and I don’t even smoke!
The opening is saucy and confident, but as the perfume dries down, its liveliness is tempered by a deeper, dramatic beat.  Jitterbug begins with a Two-step and ends with a Pasodoble.
According to the DSH website, Jitterbug’s notes are:
 Top notes: Bergamot, Blackberry, Lemon, Pimento Berry
Middle notes: Benzoin, Bulgarian Rose Absolute, Clove Bud, Egyptian Jasmine Absolute
Base notes: Amber, Frankincense (Olibanum), Labdanum, Musk, Patchouli
Also, after two hours, there was the smallest whiff of a certain kind of refreshment, as if our girl had downed a Dubonnet cocktail before heading to the USO dance.
I think I would call this perfume “modern vintage” (just like myself).  All in all, this is a stylish perfume with a lot of flair.  

Helenviolette won the sample of Xerjoff Elle.  Here’s the review, and may I say that it’s a splendid one for being the first one our reviewer has written?

Younger Ladies Who Lunch- Xerjoff Elle Review

However a sample comes my way-it is always uplifting to get home after slogging around at work and find a bubble-wrap mailer addressed to me.  It never fails. Sometimes I tear in and get right to it- other times I wait a few hours and enjoy an after dinner sniff. 

There are many ways that these samples make their way into my humble mailbox.  Some are bought, swapped, or perhaps gifted by one of our generous ladies and fellas.  Or WON- as was the case of Xerjoff Elle. As a contingency to winning this sample- thanks to the generous Mals- I agreed to write my very first perfume review. 

I wish I could sniff with a clear and neutral nose- but I am guilty of bringing high and low expectations along for the ride.  I am sure it is no coincidence that so many of my perfume loves were sniffed without the baggage of expectations.  When I expect to like/love something- it often doesn’t work for me and vice/versa.  In the case of Xerjoff Elle- I have to admit my expectations were pretty high based on the fact that 100ml of this stuff costs 4 cents less than two payments on my Mazda Tribute.

That said- Elle starts off with a burst of berries and flowers.  I think of some perfumes as “bursty” in the beginning and Elle is definitely bursty.* The berries are sweet- very sweet, no tart berries here.  I can pick out Rose in the flower bunch but the rest run together.  These are sweet blooming roses and flowers- no greens, no dirt, no thorns.  Up front I also get amber-y patchouli and some soft woods.  While we are in sweet territory with this flower-berry patchouli elixir, Elle still manages to keep firmly in floral territory.  I don’t find Elle to be at all foody or gourmand.

As Elle wears the burstyness fades along with the berries.  The sweetness fades as well and I am left with a soft ambery wooded floral.  It is very pretty- and the materials are surely high quality.  Elle smells expensive.  Longevity is decent but not fantastic, wearing like an eau de parfum  with low to medium sillage when dabbed (I am guessing the sillage might be heftier when sprayed).  Luckyscent lists the following as Elle’s notes:  hesperidic and fruity accord, galbanum, orange blossom, iris, leather accord, patchouli, amber, musk, Tonkiphora balm. 

I called this post “younger ladies who lunch” because I picture Elle on a young girl who has not long been licensed to drive her BMW/Mercedes/insert luxury car here.  You have seen her with her group of equally young and lovely friends heading in to an upscale cafe to eat whatever they want after a few hours of buying whatever they want.  They all have oversized sunglasses and handbags that we would forego to buy a few more vats of Chanel Les Exclusifs.  These young ones are all wearing variations of the same outfit with long messy hair and just haven’t reached a point of self-esteem or self realization to jump out of their comfort zone and trade their lipgloss for a shock of red lips or lop those locks into a short edgy do or a blunt pageboy.  And yet, aren’t they lovely for it?  I think so.

Some of these girls will change and grow.  Maybe in college and beyond- they will open themselves up and their ideas will expand upon themselves- they will outgrow Xerjoff Elle.  Others will continue to be Elle material for a long time to come. 

As for me, I never had the luxury of being one of those girls.  Xerjoff Elle is bursty and lively and as pretty as a perfume can be.  Thankfully, it is not for me, and I don’t have to look forward to next March- when my car will have been paid off for two months and I will have saved enough for a bottle of Xerjoff.

 Please comment if you have tried this perfume or any of the others.  I am very keen to try Iriss one of these days.

 *( I also think of SIP Prima Ballerina as “bursty” if this comparison helps at all).

Sam won the samples of L’Origan and L’Heure BleueI did a Fragrance Throwdown for this combo in March and thought it would be interesting to hear someone else’s opinion on the matter – particularly someone who already loved L’Heure Bleue, which I don’t – so here it is:

The list of notes hinted I’d never love L’Heure Bleue. Reviewers dubbed it an oriental, which my memory harkened back to 1980s powersuits reeking of Obsession. Then my sample came and I lived the teary cliché of many before me who doubted the appropriateness of that ‘blue hour’ moniker.

So when our clog-clad hostess dared suggest Coty’s L’Origan bested the mysterious marzipan mélange of divinity that is L’Heure Bleue, I accepted her offer to try them side-by-side and determine for myself. Then my samples came and I lived anew the peculiar burden that is being right all the time. 😉

L’Origan is gorgeous, oh yes. For the comparative price and keen similarity to L’Heure Bleue it deserves a place in a discerning perfumista’s wardrobe. They share a milky, powdery sweetness, but where L’Origan goes wrong for me is in the overly licorice-like effect of the spices. Maybe it’s the nutmeg, but the word that comes to mind is “pungent,” and that’s not an adjective I prefer for my perfumes.

(I knew I was going out on a limb there, preferring L’Origan.  Oh well – that’s why we try stuff, isn’t it?  and that’s why there are a gazillion different fragrances on the market, because each of us interprets fragrances differently.  Glad to see the honor of the classic Guerlain upheld, even if I chose the other scent.  Oh, and by the way – that was vintage L’Origan parfum, not the muck Coty is currently selling under the name L’Origan, so please don’t go pick up a bottle at TJ Maxx and expect to get the experience I got…  The current version of L’Heure Bleue parfum, so I hear, is not quite a deep as the vintage but hasn’t had the life wrung out of it.  L’HB is probably the way to go, unless you want to hover obsessively over your eBay searches.)

Thanks to everyone who participated!  I appreciate very much that you spent some time sharing your thoughts, and I enjoyed reading them all.

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Short Scent Diary this week.  Sorry, but you’ll see why as you read.  Please note:  if you won a sample a few weeks ago, please email me your brief 2-3 sentences of review.  I’ve already received some of them, and they’re great, but I don’t have everybody’s yet.  Thanks!

Monday, May 9: Today marks 19 years I’ve been married to The CEO. SOTD: Ines de la Fressange (first version, octagonal bottle, girly peach-rose). We didn’t feel much like celebrating, though, so we’ve put off our date night for another time.

Tuesday, May 10: Put together a display board with pictures of my father-in-law, Bill, for the funeral tomorrow. Cleaned house. Boring boring. Getting lots of lip and ‘tude from Taz, which might be normal for a ten-year-old boy, but We Won’t Have That in This House. He lost computer/TV privileges. SOTD: Soivohle Lilacs & Heliotrope. I thought it might make me feel better. Nope.

Wednesday, May 11: A beautiful day. Private family graveside service at noon, followed by memorial service at the church Bill attended all his life and a reception in the fellowship hall. The CEO remarked that it’s unusual, particularly these days, to have both grandfathers buried in the same cemetery, but it’s the case for him. And in fact, his dad is now buried next to his mother’s father.  His other grandfather, dead for the past 63 years – dead at the age of 51 from the lethal combination of a genetic clotting disorder and an appendectomy – is in another part of the church cemetery.  The CEO’s sister J insisted that in honor of Bill’s life skills, certain items should be placed in the grave: some duct tape, some baling twine, a metal washer.  Yes, a nutty idea.  But if it makes her feel better, I see no harm in it.

It was a lovely service, full of appreciation for Bill. But it was hard, very hard, for me to be back at New Dublin Presbyterian. I miss it. I don’t want to attend there anymore, ever again, but I miss it.   SOTD: Chanel 31 Rue Cambon. Wonderful.  I had considered La Myrrhe, because it is also transcendently beautiful, and because I just can’t bring myself to wear the cheap’n’cheerfuls to such an occasion.  However, I didn’t want to risk turning La Myrrhe into a “funeral fragrance.”  I’d worn it to my grandmother’s service in December. 

Thursday, May 12: Rainy morning. Cleaned out the bedroom closet. Cleaned out the freezer. Worked on my laptop to remove the screen (aargh).  Ordered a replacement, which should show up by next Friday, hopefully before then.   Mowed the grass, since it’s supposed to rain every day between now and next Monday.  Gaze’s middle school band concert was this evening; the Beginning Band did very well.  The Intermediate Band (7th and 8th graders) was filled out with high school band volunteers, including  Bookworm, and the group did very well too, yet I am concerned that the talent level for these kids – or perhaps the practice level – is less than it should be.    SOTD: Le Temps d’une Fete.

Friday, May 13: (Wow, Friday the 13th.  I note the fact, and yet it has no effect whatsoever on my daily activities.)  SOTD: SSS Jour Ensoleille.  I should review this.  Short take: gorgeous.   Bookworm’s track meet was delayed, and then canceled, due to… yes, rain.  Eventually, I put a bit of Vamp a NY on the other wrist.  I love it, but apparently I’m the only one in the house who does.  “Cupcakes!  And… root beer!” Taz exclaimed.  “Vanilla,” The CEO said, adding, “and something sort of floral, too.  It’s sort of… I dunno.  Weird.”   

Saturday, May 14: Indeed, more rain.  SOTD: Diptyque Do Son.  Should review this one, too, for the Tuberose Series.   SOTE: Vintage Emeraude.  Am now working on a story about a butterfly pin that means grandmotherly love to a grown woman, but something very different to her mother and aunt.  May post a snippet later.

 We’ve been watching the three-game Red Sox-Yankees series on TV.  The CEO stays on tenterhooks about the whole thing, because he hates the Evil Empire (the Yankees) so much, and they’re playing in what he calls The Heart of Darkness (Yankee Stadium, in the Bronx).  Have I mentioned before that The CEO is a rabid Red Sox fan?  No?  That he’s been a fan since he was 8 years old, win or lose?  No?  That we made a pilgrimage to Fenway Park on our honeymoon?? Nooo?  Well, now you know.

Sunday, May 15:  Yet more rain, and mixed with patches of sunshine, which my grandmother Nell always insisted meant that the next day would hold rain as well: “Rainin’ while the sun shines, it’ll rain again tomorra.”  So far as I know, she’s always been right.  SOTD: Guerlain Elixirs Charnels Floral Romantique, courtesy of Dear Daisy.  (Why isn’t it Florale Romantique?  Seems weird, but I studied Spanish rather than French, and I don’t know.  Nor can I be bothered to research it.)  This is definitively “a Guerlain,” particularly in the beginning, and reminds me quite a bit of both variations of Idylle that I’ve smelled.  It might be closer to the original Idylle EdP, with more citrus in the opening, and less Coco-Mademoiselle-ish patchouli and less of the muguet of the EdT formulation.  The CEO said he liked Floral Romantique better than Jour Ensoleille, because as he said, “That one [JE] smells like flowers.  This one [FR] just smells pretty, like you smell pretty.”  I didn’t bother to tell him how much it costs (i.e., Too Much); I too thought it pretty but nothing that moved me.

SOTA:  Keiko Mecheri Taormine, thanks to a lovely swapper (who sent me this? I can’t remember… Heidi, was that you? Or Daisy?).  I wouldn’t have picked it out for myself, given that Fragrantica calls it a classic cologne structure with almond.  It smells, to me, a lot like the Christian Dior La Collection New Look 1947 that annoyed me so much by being more powder-and-makeup than white-flowers.  I liked it for a long time, and then it went all Classic Cologne, which bores me to tears.  So: very Not Me, but interesting all the same.

Top image is Romantic Perfumes, from Ms. Tina at Flickr.  Lower photo is from Sterling Keeper.

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1990s wedding dress, similar to my own. No fair mocking it.

If you’ve visited here before, you probably know that we’ve had an eventful three weeks in my family.  Just before Easter, my father-in-law had a small stroke and went into the hospital, where it was determined that he had a severe urinary tract infection.  While his doctors were waiting for the reports to come back on the first stroke, he had a second stroke that incapacitated his ability to speak and swallow. 

Then there was Easter.

Bill seemed to be recovering, and was transferred to a rehabilitation center.  We talked about therapy and hospital beds at home, and the excellent rehab available for stroke victims at a center located about 45 minutes’ drive away.  Then the pneumonia that seemed to have been held at bay by antibiotics returned, and the UTI turned into a kidney infection.  Bill’s doctor found that he had an advanced cancer of the blood plasma.  We talked about hospice.  The feeding tube was removed, and the IVs.  The doctor said, “Two to five days.  Five, probably.”

It wasn’t even forty-eight hours before the call came, early Saturday morning.

The next day was Mother’s Day.  And The CEO and I reached our 19-year wedding anniversary on Monday, May 9.   We didn’t feel like celebrating, so we gave each other our cards, and held on to each other some.  I gave him a small bottle of Dior Homme Sport, which was one of the samples he’d liked when testing several.

The CEO gave me this:

Certificate of Perfumery

To All To Whom These Words Come, Greeting:

Whereas, [Mals Woodenshoes] has been a helpful, loyal and devoted  and loving wiff* for __19__ years and

Whereas, [Mals]  has shown patience, kindness, and love on a consistent and regular basis, often going above and beyond the call of wiffly duty and

Whereas, [Mals] has a fondness for and interest in perfumes and perfumery

Therefore, let it be known to all that

[Mals] is entitled to a portion of the Treasury of [The CEO}  

Not to exceed ___$75_____

For the purchase of perfumes, colognes, eau de toilettes, scents, fragrances, lotions, bath oils, and other items with pleasing aromas

Upon the condition that she wears said perfumes, scents, etc. and allows [The CEO] to give analysis and review of said perfumes, scents, etc. and subsequently place priority on choosing from those perfumes, scents, etc. the ones which [The CEO] finds most appealing .

Written by my hand and authorized by my signature this  _9th____ day of ___May_______ in the year of our Lord two-thousand and ___11______.


The CEO Woodenshoes

This tells me three things, at least.  One, that The CEO loves me and appreciates me and wants to share in my interests.  Two, that he was too busy to go shopping… not that he doesn’t avoid shopping whenever he can.  And three, he’s been serving on too many boards of nonprofit entities lately.

I’m going to test his reaction to Parfums DelRae Amoureuse.  What else should I let him smell on me?

*”Wiff” is an old joke between us: I’m the “wiff” because he wants me to be “wiff” him.  All together now:  Awwwwwww.

Photo is from risingfeenix.com.  Sadly, none of my wedding photos are digital.  It was back in the Dark Ages, after all. 

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Bill & Barbara, 1993

Monday, May 2: Taz woke up sick on his stomach. I filed the state taxes, did grocery shopping, saw The CEO’s dad Bill. Bill is worse. Wore: Teo Cabanel Early Roses (pretty-pretty, girly-girly, i.e. Just Up My Alley). Later, wore PdN Odalisque (my sample is not the original, it’s the reformulated), which is great but which I still don’t love. I can see a lot of resemblance between Odalisque and Mary Greenwell Plum, in the “white flowers over gentle chypre base” character, but Odalisque goes irisy and doesn’t have that deliciously tangy opening.

Bookworm was accepted at the Governor’s School for Science and Technology. I had no doubt, but she was terribly worried about it until the letter came today. It’ll be a lot of work for her, but I hope that the college-credit classes will be helpful.

Tuesday, May 3: Busy day. Worked on the novel some. Went by the rehab center, with the kids. It’s hard on them; I’m sure they understand what’s going on, but this is their grandfather. SOTD: Le Temps d’une Fete, because I needed the cheer.

Wednesday, May 4: Chilly day. Hung out laundry. SOTD: DSH Vert pour Madame on one wrist, DSH LiLi (Lily of the valley and Linden) on the other. VpM doesn’t smell terribly different than the Chypre Essense Oil that blew my mind last week, but somehow it seems… less. It was neither floral enough for me nor powerfully weird, like Chypre. LiLi, on the other hand, is really beautiful.

After those wore off, I put on PdR Rose Kashmirie (thanks, Tamara!). My first thought was, “Hey, there’s oud in this!” I wasn’t expecting that, and I’m still not exactly sure that it is oud. Oud is not mentioned in the notes list… and yet, right after I put it on, I got the distinctive, fresh-Band-Aid smell that’s characteristic of oud. It could be that RK just reminded me quite a lot of Montale White Aoud – which is true, particularly in the heart-drydown phase – but I’m still thinkin’ oud.

Gaze’s makeup track meet was canceled, due to chilly weather (low 50s) and the chance of rain. I took the kids by the rehab center to see Bill this afternoon. He is no longer able to focus his eyes, but he’s still aware of who’s there, and can still appreciate grandchild hugs.

Bill has been diagnosed with aggressive myeloma and kidney failure. His doctors have suggested that we consider removing the feeding tube and stopping treatment, and that they simply do what they can to make him comfortable. Barbara has agreed that this plan may be best. I think the feeding tube will come out either this evening or tomorrow, and she’s looking into Hospice. The family’s on board with her on this decision.

I’m sad. But I feel much the same as I did when my grandmother died this past winter: Bill had a good long life – productive, fruitful, mostly healthy, and rich in love. He’s been a good and faithful servant.

Cows and calves in the 20-acre field behind the house, July 2010

Thursday, May 5: Still chilly, but in the mid-60s today. Spent part of the day at the rehab center. Hospice has turned out to provide less medical support than Barbara feels she needs, and so Bill will stay at the rehab center. Feeding tube removed; Bill’s doctor says two to five days. SOTD: Chamade. So pretty.

Friday, May 6: Sang with my community chorus at the dedication of a new veterans’ cemetery in our home town. The high school band was there, too, and it was very nice to be able to participate in a concert with my daughter; I’ve got happy memories of singing next to my mom, when we used to sing in the same chorus. SOTD: Mary Greenwell Plum, which is currently the closest thing I have to a signature scent.

Went by the rehab center and held Bill’s hand while I sang some hymns for him. He’s having trouble breathing, and I’m not quite sure he knows who I am, though both of those things are probably side effects of the morphine.  He does seem to know Barbara and The CEO’s sister E. The situation reminds me very much of how things were when my grandmother died five years ago. She’d gone into the hospital after a mini-stroke (TIA), and then developed a number of complications, one after the other: a UTI, pneumonia, a worsening of the pulmonary obstruction she’d been battling ever since working at a textile mill in her youth.

The CEO and I attended a “Night on Broadway” event hosted by the high school’s Fine Arts Department: musical pieces from the band and chorus; musical numbers and scenes by the drama department; an art exhibition; New York style cheesecake and coffee prepared by the culinary arts department. It was wonderful. I was able to pick out Bookworm’s short alto sax solo in the Andrew Lloyd Webber medley, though I couldn’t actually see her short little self on stage, and she did very well.

Saturday, May 7: The phone rang in the wee hours; it was Barbara calling us to let us know Bill had died. Things are unsettled. We barely went back to sleep. Got up early to take Bookworm to meet the track team bus. She’s been looking forward to this particular meet for weeks, and we decided not to tell her until she got home, which might be a mistake, but perhaps not. Gaze is philosophical: “He’s not hurting anymore. And we’ll see him again.” Taz is uncommunicative, which always indicates that he’s upset (he’s a chatty little thing when he’s happy).

The CEO went with his mom and sister to talk to the funeral home director and to the minister about arrangements. I cleaned house and mowed grass. SOTD: to go with the cut-grass smell, Crown Bouquet. I overspritzed, and don’t regret it a bit. I am now picking up on a small hint of vanilla in the base that I never noticed before.  Interesting.

Bookworm’s relay team did well, placing fifth among some tough competition; the girls’ team placed 6th overall in a field of 29 teams at the invitational meet. We told her about Bill when she got home, and she was sad but not shocked, which seems to be the general reaction. The kids all saw him a few days ago and could tell he was getting weaker.

Sunday, May 8: Mother’s Day… I’m happy to be one. I feel blessed that the maternal figures on my life have been happy to be mothers as well. (Thanks, Mom. Thanks, Barbara. Thanks, Bambaw and Mawmaw Nell. I love you all.)

Bambaw, Mom, me, and Mawmaw Nell at my sister's wedding, 2002

We dropped off a gift for Barbara and invited her again to have lunch at my parents’ house. She said she’d rather stay home and get some rest, but she was planning to go to church first. She was looking forward to it, which I think is probably a good thing. Church was very meaningful today; it always makes me feel a little odd when there is a sermon about Mother’s Day, since not everyone is a mother, and so many people have conflicting or unpleasant feelings about the whole deal… there was a short, appreciative-but-unsappy video piece in praise of the services that mothers provide and in praise of the One who made them, and then we moved on with a sermon about faith in action (Luke 10, the Good Samaritan story juxtaposed with the Mary-Martha story).

Had a delicious lunch and a relaxing afternoon with Mom and Dad. I gave Mom, among some other items, samples of Gucci Flora, Hermes Kelly Caleche, and Hermes Eau des Merveilles. My guess is that her preference might be for EdM, but we’ll see.

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Posting delays.

Sorry I’ve been mostly AWOL this week.  I have spent a lot of time at the rehab center with my father-in-law as he nears the end of his life.  And the routine goes on as usual, too: kids to get to school, laundry to be washed, meals to be cooked… and everybody is sad.

I will plan on posting something on Sunday (thank goodness for the scheduled publishing option).  Next week we’ll try to get to the mini-reviews from the prize draw, as well as reviews of two of the new Jean Desprez fragrance variations.

If you were one of the prize draw winners, and you have a brief review of two to three sentences for me (or more.  I’ll take more!), please email me.  I tried to send out email requests, but Gmail has been weird lately and I’m not sure they went through.  I’d like to have them by Wednesday, but that’s not a hard-and-fast rule, of course.  THANKS.

Everybody take care.

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