Archive for June, 2011

Perfume Convention 2010 from parfumgott at Flickr

(It was a boring, news-less week. Sorry. On the plus side, I worked a bit on my novel and did two reviews. Also participated in a massive swap at Perfume Posse, which, honestly, is kind of a PITB. I do like finding new homes for my unloved scents and coming across something I’ve been looking for; I don’t like haggling. Probably reminds me too much of going to garage sales with my grandmother when I was a kid.)

Monday, June 20: Back to hot weather again, in the 90s. Took the boys to their half-day summer day camp; apparently it was a big hit. Gaze is taking “Field Trip to the Moon,” “Military Strategy,” and “Living in the Civil War.” Taz is taking “Governor’s School Apprentice,” “Military Strategy,” and “Living in the Civil War,” as well, though they only have the Civil War at the same time. SOTD: Nobile 1942 Chypre, which I’ll be reviewing soon.

SOTAfternoon: Michael Storer Stephanie – another one due for a review. At this point, all I am going to say is “Wow.” The boys went outside and had an hour-long water gun battle.

I finally broke out the Season 1 Glee DVD that The CEO gave me for my birthday. I had heard good things about it, but hadn’t seen it on TV, and was hesitant to pick up watching it after it had been running for three (three? Two?) seasons already. But I’ve been singing in one kind of choir or another since I was, no kidding, five years old. I was figuring this up the other day: barring three semesters when I was pregnant, I’ve been a member of at least one choir for more than thirty-five years running. I’m a Choir Person. I did all kinds of singing in high school choir, ranging from Handel and Mendelssohn to six-part arrangements of folk songs to Broadway-and-pop show choir stuff. News flash: Glee is good. (Why do I hear echoes of Gordon Gekko in my head?) Glee, the show, is very good. Sure, there are holes in the plot big enough to swing Mary Martin through on a trapeze, but still: good.

(What holes, you ask? Well, for one, apparently the marching band at this mysterious high school in Lima, Ohio, does not play for football games. However, they manage to show up for a cheerleaders’ performance later in the season, in full red-wool-and-brass-buttons glory. And there’s a jazz band that manages to show up and perform with the glee club without ever rehearsing. Or talking. None of them ever talk, which is totally unrealistic, because as everyone knows, drummers never shut up. Never. Srsly. Also, there is this amazingly good piano/keyboard accompanist – who is paying him? Is this why the vocal coach has to cough up $60/month? Further, what self-respecting pianist is going to live on $60/month? – who seems to live at the school, available to provide background to any sort of vocal soliloquizing by teenagers in emotional drama.)

(Also, the writers of this show don’t appear to be aware of any commonsense football rules. If there is one second left on the game clock, the team with the ball may not, in fact, break into a Beyoncé dance routine before snapping the ball, without running out of time. DUH. Also also: why do the cheerleaders wear their uniforms to school every day? Also also also: does anyone in this school go to any classes except glee club and Spanish? Ever? And I’m not even going to bring up the inexplicable steel drum band.  In OHIO.  This high school has money to support a steel drum band, but not a glee club?  PUH. LEASE.)

The Awesome Kurt Hummel, image from freewallpaper4u

(But: Jane Lynch plays my new love-to-hate-her character, Coach Sue Sylvester, with an amazing blend of arrogance, insult, insanity and humor. Wow. And Kurt Hummel [Chris Colfer] is awesome. I’ll say it again: KURT. IS. AWESOME. Every time he sings, he makes me cry. I am willingly suspending my disbelief.)

Tuesday, June 21: Another hot one – 96F, with a big thunderstorm in the evening. We had several tree branches down – in our yard, and all down our tree-lined lane. And of course, smaller branches and twigs all over the yard too. The boys are still enjoying their summer camp classes. SOTD: Chypre 1942, followed by Michael Storer Stephanie in the evening.

Wednesday, June 22: Cooler today, only in the low 80s after the storm. SOTD: Shiseido Inoui on one arm. Interesting thing – I know very little about it, except that it’s a green floral. I had Stephanie on the other arm. SOTEvening: vintage Emeraude. I haven’t worn it in forever.

Thursday, June 23: Picked up sticks in the yard, then mowed. SOTD: Stephanie. SOTEvening: DSH Chypre (recreation of Coty Chypre).

I’ve been having to give the Hayley dog antibiotics, following her unwise provocation of our neighbors’ German Shepherd last week. She spat out the pill the first couple of times I gave it to her, so finally I wised up and started rolling up the pill in a pepperoni before asking her to “shake” and giving her the pepperoni-wrapped pill. It works pretty well; she’s only spat the pill out once since I started trying the treat idea. (That day she got an extra pepperoni.) She’s healing well, but she’s going to be sad once the pills are gone.

Friday, June 24: Cleaned the house because The CEO is due home tomorrow. SOTD: Annick Goutal Rose Splendide – a pretty, light, friendly fresh-rose scent. Last day of Governor’s School summer camp. Apparently there was a giant-marshmallow battle in their Civil War class (no, no marshmallow stickies on the clothes. I checked.) and Gaze brought home his data-gathering “robot” from his Field Trip to the Moon class. He named it George.

Took the boys with me to the mall to pick out a few things that The CEO had asked for for his Father’s Day present, and then we stopped by the shoe store. Gaze has been wearing his good track shoes for everyday, and they had suffered. Taz, meanwhile, tromps through every single puddle he can manage to find. Also, he never ties his shoelaces well enough to keep them tied, so the laces drag and make the shoes look worse than ever. Seriously – after four months, his shoes look like six other people have worn them first, thus making his entire look reminiscent of “refugee.” SOTEvening: Mary Greenwell Plum.

Saturday, June 25: Bookworm returned from her week at Camp Nana. Hayley was particularly glad to see her; the boys, not so much… And The CEO got home from his Canada conference/trip through the Canadian Rockies. Of course, he wasn’t home long before telling us that we had not done things to his satisfaction. (Which I expected: he can be something of a control freak, not so much over people but over situations.) SOTD: Cuir de Lancome. Went to bed in vintage Emeraude.

Sunday, June 26: Still somewhat cool – it rained on hay at lunchtime. We went to a local baseball game anyway. SOTD: PdRosine Rose d’Ete. We got rained on at the ball game too, and the home team lost 4-1, but Gaze and Taz picked up a couple of free posters for the team’s left-handed pitcher, and managed to get them signed after the game. It was a nice afternoon, if a bit soggy.

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Stephanie bottle, from Michael Storer website

I think I first saw a mention of Stephanie from Abigail at I Smell Therefore I Am, shortly after I first saw her mention Michael Storer in a review of Monk. Monk still doesn’t sound like my kind of thing, but Stephanie sounded right up my alley.

Perfume Review: Michael Storer Stephanie

Date released:2007

Perfumer: Michael Storer

Sample provenance: bottle split, 2011

Sub-category: Lush white floral with tuberose

I still don’t know much about Michael Storer, except that he has a website and sells several fragrances which are not exactly hot topics on the perfume blog circuit but are generally well-regarded. The webside tag says, “Niche fragrances for the individualist.” I’m down with that, I suppose. Besides Stephanie, the other feminine fragrances are Yvette and Genviève (what, all Michael’s women are French?); also available are Kadota and Winter Star, described as unisex, and two masculines called Djin and Monk. The website explains that after many years spent in the fashion industry, Mr. Storer began making perfumes, and that his philosophy of fragrance leads him to create scents which are somewhat linear so that the “signature accord,” so to speak, the central character, is what sticks around.

To read about each fragrance, you click on the bottle in the photo, whereupon you immediately get a brief flash of a black-and-white arty nude or partially-clad body, rolling through to a description of the fragrance notes. (Can it be a coincidence that the images of women are soft-focus and fuzzy, while the images of men are stunningly crisp and clear? No matter.)

As far as I can tell, the fragrances are all eau de parfum, and priced at about $85 for a 2-ounce bottle: a good deal compared to a lot of niche fragrances.


White Gardenia, from Wikimedia Commons

Stephanie is described as being a gorgeous, accurate recreation of the headspace of a gardenia flower. The notes listed, with the admission that it’s an incomplete list, are: pink pepper, black pepper, galbanum, angelica root, sambac jasmine absolute, tuberose, and chrysanthemum for a green finish. I love gardenias – sweet and floral and swoony and sort of weird, too – and I think Mr. Storer has done a lovely job with this scent, although I admit that it doesn’t smell distinctively gardenia to me. In practical terms, gardenia absolute is extremely rare, produced in minuscule, ridiculously expensive quantities, and any “gardenia” scent on the market is pretty much going to be custom-built out of tuberose. Which is fine with me, really.

In my opinion, rather than being strictly gardenia, Stephanie is a straight-up, no-twists, white floral. She (I know, a cheap and easy anthropomorphization – sorry) reaches out and grabs a handful of your shirtfront and pulls you close, where you fall deeply under her spell.

Well, you have to like white flowers to fall under the spell, but still.

I smell the spiky-sharp green of galbanum and chrysanthemum right away, but it doesn’t last long before we are into white floral territory. I can pick out tuberose and the jasmine sambac, and I think there must be a honkin’ dose of orange blossom in here as well, because there is a faintly soapy aspect to the scent. I smell the black pepper, too, which is fine, I like that, and it just adds a little counterpoint to the sweetness of the florals, which is indeed pretty sweet. Underneath the florals is a quiet, unobtrusive base of wood – cedar, maybe? – and musk.

I think it’s beautiful. Stephanie’s floral notes seem to be mostly natural; I don’t get any of that astringent-yet-too-sweet quality that pops up with synthetic tuberose. And like most tuberose scents, it lasts a good long time on me, though with much quieter sillage after the first hour or so. I usually get about six hours from two spritzes (one wrist, smeared to the other, and base of throat), which is pretty good longevity for me.

Is it better than some of the other gardenia fragrances I’ve tried? Not sure. It’s not nearly as diffusive and long-lived as Estee Lauder’s pretty-pretty Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia, and it’s not as green as the tropical Kai. However, it didn’t feel like the throwback scent that PCTG did to me, and it seemed better blended than Kai. Stephanie is swoony, a lovely tropical vacation in a bottle, and I know I’ll enjoy wearing my small decant.

Quality: A

Grab-scale score: 8.

Short description: Lush white floral.

Cost: $$

Earns compliments? Yes.

Scent presence: Moderate, with moderate sillage. Lasts about six hours with two spritzes.

Review report: Abigail at ISTIA, Sweet Diva, Scent Signals

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I should never, ever read the “new and upcoming” fragrance notices at Now Smell This. Ever. Nobile 1942 Chypre is a case in point: I do really enjoy chypres when they are very floral, as this notes list would indicate. Also, the inspiration for the scent is enticing. I don’t know much about Anna Magnani, except that she was an early film star of the smoldering Italian type, and that from the pictures on her biography, she was beautiful. It makes perfect sense to honor an emotional, sensual woman like her with a beautiful floral chypre.

So when the word came that a friend was going to split up a bottle of Chypre 1942, I jumped into the split for 5ml, my head filled with dreams of the beautiful floral chypre I imagined from the new fragrance publicity release, which goes sort of like this (given the limitations of BabelFish and Google Translator, please bear with my interpretation of the original Italian):

Anna Magnani, from Wikimedia Commons

Languid like a lioness returning from the hunt, Anna comes into the house and collapses into her thoughts, enveloped by a cloud of cigarette smoke and wafts of Chypre. Chypre 1942 is dedicated to Anna, a woman full of life and faith in the possibilities of fate, who likes to observe and read the stars, witness the rising of the sun, fixing her deep gaze eastward. Anna’s unconventional lifestyle and naturalness overwhelm those around her, in a storm of instinctive charm and fascination. Her style is unconventional – the way she dresses, perfumes, and adorns herself. The scent’s originality and refinement fittingly crowns her perfect, attractive figure, and gives an air of imperious femininity.”

Believing a fragrance ad is a bad idea. Even if you discount 80% of the claims, you will nearly always be disappointed. 

When I opened the package from M, before I’d even unrolled the bubble wrap, a very sweet and intense smell of baby powder blew out like a mushroom cloud. “I hope it doesn’t smell like that,” I said to Gaze, alarmed. “That’s dreadful.”

He made a face, too. “It smells like… I mean, just that little bit there, it smells like… powdered marshmallows.”

But this is supposed to be a chypre,” I said, bewildered. “Wonder if I got the wrong split? I know M was splitting Muschio from the same house as well, and I just can’t imagine that something called Chypre is supposed to smell like… well, like powdered marshmallows.”

Because I was so confused, I sprayed some on a bit of paper – which I almost never do, preferring to go straight to skin. (I don’t wear paper, after all.) The top notes were almost chokingly powdery, intense and sweet. I went to Fragrantica to check out reviews there of this fragrance, and there was only one, from someone whose name I did not recognize from the split I participated in. It said something to the effect that the reviewer was puzzled by the name Chypre, since the fragrance was really more an oriental vanilla scent than anything else.

I tentatively decided that I was not, after all, insane.

I’ve now worn Chypre 1942 half a dozen times, in 90F weather and in 70F, at night and during the day, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it is not a bad fragrance. The choking powder cloud became less pronounced each time I sprayed it (gunk in the atomizer sprayer clearing itself out?), and the sweet vanilla character more prominent. It’s not bad at all.

It’s just not a chypre. There is no oakmoss that I can discern in the formula, and the amber used is the vanillic, powdery stuff familiar to me from, say, Bvlgari Black, rather than the rich and sweet amber in Mitsouko or Alahine, or the labdanum in Coty Chypre or vintage Miss Dior.


Nobile 1942 Chypre, from Fragrantica

There are some perfumistas who have a rigid definition of the chypre genre: Bergamot, oakmoss, and labdanum must be in the spotlight – and if the fragrance under discussion doesn’t smell like the “Fierce Green” chypres Bandit, Alliage, Mitsouko, or vintage Miss Dior, fuhgeddaboudit. “NOT A CHYPRE!” they thunder on the fragrance forums. “Chypres must have the proper proportions of the three magic ingredients! No fragrance being produced currently can contain the right proportion of oakmoss!  Patchouli does not make this scent a chypre!” And I concur that these touchy people have a point. If Coco Mademoiselle is a chypre, good heavens, almost anything could be called a chypre, our standards having been compromised to a shocking degree.

However, my own definition is a lot looser. Coco Mademoiselle is a woody floral with patchouli, and it is not a chypre. Idylle is not a chypre, either. Its moss is too slight and its amber nonexistent. But in my opinion, if a particular fragrance’s major characteristic is that tangy-bitter, almost dangerous smell common to Miss Dior and Coty Chypre, even if there is something else involved (citrus or florals) as well, it’s a chypre. I don’t even mind if there is proportionately less moss and amber than there used to be in a classic chypre. As long as I immediately perceive that bitter quality, the fragrance is going to be designated a chypre in my mind. Thus to me, L’Arte di Gucci is a rose chypre nonpareil, a big complicated rose fragrance sitting on top of a moss-patchouli-amber-leather-musk structure, bitter and dark green. Likewise, Mary Greenwell Plum is a modern floral chypre in my opinion: it may open with a tangy, fruity citrus, and it may continue with a soft white floral, but underneath it all, coloring the entire experience, is a quiet chypre backbone augmented with a bit of patchouli (and therefore “modern”).

Given that my standards for calling something a chypre are lower than many people would accept, you can believe me when I tell you that this Nobile 1942 fragrance is most definitely Not a Chypre. And I should have known when I saw the list of notes:

Top: bergamot, mandarin, orange blossom

Heart: tuberose, jasmine, damask rose, benzoin

Bottom: vanilla, amber, tonka bean, Mysore sandalwood, patchouli

Chypre 1942, released in 2011, was created by Marie Duchene.

So where’s the oakmoss? Missing in action. The rest of the fragrance sounds nice, to be honest – and I think my eyes saw “Chypre” and just skimmed past the absence of oakmoss. It could have been an omission; notes lists are so often incomplete or misleading. I suppose it’s really my fault for not noticing that this thing could not possibly be a chypre.

Well, then, what is it? I’d call it a vanillic-floral oriental. It does open up with a short prelude of citrus notes, backed by that flat vanilla-amber, and it does a brief impression of Shalimar Light (which I love, by the way). In just a few moments, though, it slides into a sweet rich floral, in which a slightly-powdery rose seems prominent to me. It’s perfectly pretty, as a matter of fact, and my bet is that The CEO will probably like it. After a couple of hours, Chypre 1942 heads straight for the familiar oriental route of amber-vanilla-tonka, with very little sandalwood noticeable. It does last for about five or six hours on me, with modest sillage shrinking down to skin-scent levels as it goes through its development.

As I said, it’s not at all a bad fragrance. I’ll enjoy wearing my small amount in cool weather. It is pretty, it seems to contain a fair amount of natural materials, and its drydown is coherent. That’s a decent combination of assets.

But it’s definitely not a chypre.

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Romantic Perfume from Ms. Tina at Flickr

Over the weekend, dire circumstances befell certain farm equipment, and so today The CEO had to drive to neighboring C-burg to drop off the mower, which has a broken spring, at Farmland Equipment, and the John Deere 4230 tractor, which has a broken seal in the water pump and is leaking hydraulic fluid, at the John Deere dealership. (Luckily, most of the mowing and baling has been done for the first cutting, and there’s no immediate pressing need for those pieces of equipment. There’s time to get them repaired.) I had to go to Wimmer’s and pick him up, a round trip of about an hour and a half, with a third of the time spent waiting for him to make arrangements with the guys at the tractor dealership…

After supper, The CEO headed off for a conference in Calgary. He’ll be gone about ten days, spending several of them at the conference and the rest in sightseeing. SOTEvening: Moschino L’Eau Cheap & Chic, for review.

Tuesday, June 14: Another cool day, highs in the low 80s. It’s beautiful outside. SOTD: The Different Company Osmanthus, which I’m finding pretty and soapy-peachy. Not worth the four-star paean it gets in P:TG, in my opinion, but there again, personal preferences play a huge role in any review. The drydown reminds me just a bit of that of No. 5 Eau Premiere.

SOTAfternoon: Moschino Funny! Been on the phone a lot today: looks like the swim lessons for the boys will be underway in a few weeks, and their week-long summer day camp starts next week. Also, there may be a possibility of an active Boy Scout troop in P—– for Gaze, and I’m thinking that Taz might like to learn to play the piano, since he’s been dinking around on it for some time now. As for Bookworm, her time is pretty well taken up with marching band stuff all summer. Running camp conflicts with the beginning of band camp, so she won’t be doing that, but her behind-the-wheel driver’s instruction is scheduled. The internship with the Congressman is still up in the air, however.

Wednesday, June 15: Still cool, and I am loving this weather! Our neighbor’s donkey woke me up early again today. Curse the thing, I hate him. There are actually two donkeys, but it’s the jack that’s loud; the jenny minds her own business. SOTMorning: Eau de Merveilles. I did really like it when I sprayed it on a card in the Rome airport Duty Free shop in March, but when I tried it on skin I was disappointed. It’s pleasant enough, but… okay, I’ll say it: deeply boring.

Took the kids to the library. Our local one is very, very small, and the offerings are limited. Still, there’s usually something there to read. SOTAfternoon: Crown Bouquet. Funny, I didn’t have any cravings for this juicy green thing earlier in the year, but it sure smells great to me today. Then we rented the latest Harry Potter movie to watch this evening. Bookworm and I had gone to see this one – Part 1 of Deathly Hallows – when it came out in November, but the theater was so busy and noisy, and people kept getting up and going out and coming back in and going out again and returning, each time squeaking the door and letting in light from the lobby, that I think I missed a good third of the dialogue.

Thursday, June 16: Taught Bookworm how to run the lawnmower. My dad never taught me how to do it; either he was worried about how I’d manage the hills in the back yard, or he thought it was a man’s job (he did teach my brother, but it’s possible that P may have asked to learn). Funny thing is, in The CEO’s family, mowing the yard was a woman’s job – while the man was out wrangling cattle and fixing tractors and planting corn and whatnot. I like mowing because I’m outside and nobody is yelling, “Mom! He’s cheating!” or “Make her leave me alone!” Did some laundry, posted a review, yada yada, boring sort of day. SOTD: Moschino Funny! , which sort of makes up for the boring.


Hayley, summer 2010

I also took Hayley, our 8-year-old beagle-lab mix, to the vet. Last Friday evening, while the boys were out in the yard playing football, our neighbors’ German shepherd began barking at them. Dakota is the third female German shepherd that Roger and Debbie have had in the nine years we’ve lived in this house: Elsie was part collie and a big old sweetheart, but she died unexpectedly, possibly from consuming antifreeze. Hemi was next, and she was all sound and no fury; despite the fact that she weighed twice as much as Hayley, Hayley could run her off with a growl. But one of our other neighbors hit Hemi with his truck one late-summer twilight, right there in front of Roger and Debbie’s house with their son watching. Very sad. Dakota is not much like the other two: she’s even bigger than Hemi, and she’s not willing to let some 47-pound pipsqueak of a dog run her off. A few years ago, half-grown, she got the notion that our farm shop was part of her territory, and started to attack The CEO and another guy who was working for us, as well as Hayley, every time they went into the lot. So Roger put in an Invisible Fence, and things have been calm since then – except that the other day, Dakota was growling at the boys, and Hayley, who’s very protective of her human pups, went into Dakota’s yard and challenged her. We had to really yell at Hayley to get her away from Dakota, but finally Gaze got her back into our yard and brought her in the house, bleeding from one ear.

I cleaned the ear and put antibiotic salve on it, and that seemed to be her only wound. But we noticed that within a few days, the Canine Vacuum Cleaner had to be called to dinner and coaxed to eat, and didn’t want to play in the yard with her Frisbee. Her ear looked worse, so I finally called the vet. Turns out that she actually had another bite on her flank, that we’d overlooked in all her fur, and that she’d been scratching at her ear and turned it into a “hot spot.” The technicians had to anesthetize her in order to clip her and clean her wounds, poor baby, and she’s on antibiotics and a corticosteroid to reduce the irritation and scratching.

Friday, June 17: Hot again, in the 90s. SOTMorning: Testing Shiseido Inoui EdT on one arm, and Nobile 1942 Chypreon the other. Will probably review both of these; they’re interesting, if not exactly what I expected.   Hayley’s appetite has returned. She must be feeling better.


Took Bookworm to B’burg to meet with someone regarding a loosely-constructed internship with our congressman’s campaign committee. SOTAfternoon: Idylle EdT (thanks again, Karin!).

Saturday, June 18: Miserably hot and humid, 96F. The boys went to spend the day with their Grandmom B (The CEO’s mom), while Bookworm and I went to help with a band fundraiser. The arrangement actually annoys the crap out of me because the way it works is, there’s a company that sets up the carnival/picnic facilities – usually for a company or organization’s summer picnic – with food, portajohns and tents and tables and chairs, as well as inflatables, games, crafts, and prizes for kids, and snacks like ice cream, sno-kones, and cotton candy. The carnival-arranging company gets paid a flat fee, of which the band receives a part for providing most of the labor. This fee is nowhere near minimum wage for a ten-hour day, even for the 20 adults, much less the 40 band members. The carnival company is making money that they wouldn’t be making if they were paying employees to do these jobs, which just burns my shorts. But then, where else is the band boosters going to make $2000 for a day’s worth of work? Arrgh.

Aaaanyway. It was hot, it was hot, it was miserably hot. SOTD: Mirto di Panarea, from Acqua di Parma’s Blu Mediterraneo series. It was lovely for the hour it stuck around. After that I was sweaty and smelled like barbecue, so I doubt anyone could have perceived my scent anyway.

Then it rained. We saved some of the food cooking on the grill, but it rained buckets and the wind knocked down the food tent, and most of the company picnic-goers left. I was soaked. Bookworm seemed to be having a good time, as she usually does at this sort of thing; at least she didn’t get sunburned.

Sunday, June 19: Cooler today after the storm. It’s a shame that The CEO is missing Father’s Day with his family, but I think he’s having a great time wandering around the Canadian Rockies. SOTD: Penhaligon’s Amaranthine, such a pretty, warm-smelling thing. Had a nice time at my parents’ house; Bookworm will be staying there next week, while I take the boys to their summer camp classes at Governor’s School.


Jasper National Park, Canada, photo by The CEO


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I have had bad luck with citrusy-rose fragrances, notably with Hermes Eau de Pamplemousse Rose (yes, I know that’s really “Pink Grapefruit,” but there’s rose in there all the same), Cerruti 1881, Yuzu Rouge, Parfums de Rosine Zeste de Rose, and Clarins Par Amour Toujours. So I was hesitant to try Funny!, which Tania Sanchez Luca Turin (why do I keep ascribing these quotes incorrectly?  do I have a mental block or something?  also, the book is right there, easily consulted.  Thanks, Elisa)  describes in P:TG as being mostly tea, rose, and grapefruit.

Frequently a citrus floral can wind up in classic-cologne territory, which is great if you like that sort of thing. I don’t; it bores me silly. (Goodbye, Pamplemousse Rose! See ya, Cerruti 1881!) And sometimes it goes in the ditzy, frooty-rooty, ultra-pink direction. (Wave bye-bye, Baby Doll!) Sometimes it’s just pale pink lemonade, which I might want to drink on a hot day but not to wear. (Sayonara, Par Amour Toujours, Zeste de Rose, and Yuzu Rouge!)

But a couple of manufacturer’s samples of Funny! came my way in a sample swap, and I figured what the heck, I might as well watch this one crash and burn along with the other citrus-rose scents. I tried Funny! one steamy summer morning when we were driving home from a visit to my sister-in-law in Northern Virginia (which is the Unintentional Outdoor Sauna Capital of the US, in my opinion, beating out even the extra-humid summer air of Florida). Much to my surprise, it was nice. And it stayed nice for hours.

I shrugged and put the sample vial in the Limbo pile when I got home, still of the opinion that I did not need a citrusy floral. A few weeks later I found myself thinking about it, so I got it out again and used it up. It continued playing nice in muggy weather. I got out the other swap sample and took it with me on vacation last July to South Carolina, another state famous for its heat and humidity, and Funny not only lasted but kept me cool and relatively cheerful during the week long trip.

It’s funny (no, really) that I kept trying it, and saying “nice, but I don’t need any,” and “nice, but I don’t get the four-star review,” and “nice, but not exceptional,” and kept thinking about it until it won me over.  At that point I finally decided that I did indeed want a bottle, so I watched eBay and checked the online discounters, and finally, last fall, found a 50ml bottle for about $19. Whatta bargain, whatta bargain for me!! I have been using it to good effect already this summer.

Here’s the review in P:TG that prompted me to try Funny!:

What’s funny here is how talent can infuse even the trite with surreptitious joy: in structure, this could have been yet another squeaky-clean fruity floral. But one of the delightful properties of intelligence is its ability to counter dumb questions with smart answers. In response to what was no doubt a witless brief, Antoine Maisondieu has produced a small gem of humor, freshness, and transparency. The core accord is tea with rose, overlaid with grapefruit and blackcurrant. The woody notes of the former balance the sulfuraceous bloom of the latter, and the thing sings like a happy barbershop quartet.”

The notes for Funny!, according to Fragrantica, are redcurrant, pink pepper, orange, peony, jasmine, violet, green tea, cedar, amber, musk. I notice that rose and grapefruit are not on the official list, but I’ll tell you I’m fairly certain that rose is present. I suppose the orange note with the tang of currant and pink pepper could impersonate grapefruit, though I really don’t care what exactly causes the effect because it just smells good – fresh and bright and happy, in a way unlike the usual clenched-teeth grin effect I get out of the usual citrus notes.

Funny! does open up with that tangy-bitter citrus I just mentioned, and although it doesn’t have the holographic immediacy of the grapefruit in Guerlain’s (wonderful) grapefruit-bomb Pamplelune, it is very pleasant. Also, this bitter citrus note lasts about twenty minutes on me, which is a pretty good long run for a citrus note on my skin, before the florals come up underneath it. I can’t pick out the violet, but the typically-neon peony note is soft here and combines with the rose and jasmine to create a transparent glow. The effect is like sunshine glowing through pink gauze curtains over beach cottage windows open to the breeze. The green tea note (familiar from the ubiquitous Bvlgari Au Te Verte, which fell very flat and heavy on my skin) is discernible too. There is an airy spaciousness to Funny!, and I especially love wearing it in muggy weather, when it seems to clear the air for a little bubble of freshness around me. The basenotes are muted, but the cedar is almost astringent in its dryness, and if you are very sensitive to the “hamster cage” cedar effect you might have trouble with this scent. I like it.

Sillage is mild unless I employ the Spray-until-wet technique, in which case it’s moderate. Like most eaux des toilettes and other light scents, it doesn’t last all that long, but it does stick around for about three hours with a normal quick spritz, and for nearly five hours with the Spray-until-wet, which is stunning longevity for me personally.

Funny!, which was released in 2007, is available, as I mentioned above, at online discounters at a very good price, with various bath and body products (bath gel, lotion) available as well. The bottle, by the way, is on the plain side, a pale turquoise blue glass rectangle with a raised frame on the front and a silver puffed-heart cap, but I think it’s nicer than Moschino’s plastic Olive Oyl bottles. I ditched the pink ribbon collar right away because it kept coming off when I took off the cap, so now the bottle is less interesting to look at but easier to use. “Ease of Use” and “Feels Nice in the Hand” being my top bottle preferences, I’m satisfied. I like a pretty bottle, but it’s not necessary to my overall enjoyment of fragrance.

Only one other blog review that I could find: Brian at ISTIA.  Reviews at the fragrance forums tend to say things like, “Smells like Light Blue, but nicer,” and “Young, cheerful, flirty.” I don’t know about Funny!’s flirtation factor, but I will admit that it is somewhat in the Light Blue vein, but more natural-smelling, far less alien-metallic baby-wipe citrus, and also that it is definitely one of the most cheerful and airy scents I’ve ever smelled.

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I had had a vague impression that Moschino’s fragrances fared pretty well in Perfumes: The Guide, having been moved to try a couple of them on the basis of their reviews. However, I went back through the updated paperback version, which is actually titled Perfumes: The A-Z Guide, and found that three Moschino fragrances (Cheap & Chic, L’Eau C&C, Friends Men) received three stars, two (Funny!, Moschino) received four stars, and three more (Glamour, Hippy Fizz, and Uomo?) received only two. So, not as consistently good as I had remembered, but still, the brand’s overall grade is a solid, if undistinguished, C.

The review of L’Eau Cheap and Chic (“aldehydic resinous”), by Tania Sanchez, compared it to one of my dear loves, La Myrrhe:

This sleek little number uses a big dose of some funny salty-anisic herb, like sage or tarragon, plus a smooth, translucent pine-resin smell and vetiver background to give its soap-powder floral a haunting twist, which for a while does a pretty good likeness of Serge Lutens’s insanely wonderful (and not sold outside of Paris) La Myrrhe. A nice surprise.

The “pretty good likeness of… La Myrrhe” reference completely overwhelmed my natural resistance to “soap-powder floral,” “pine-resin and vetiver,” and “salty-anisic herb” references, the more fool I, and I bought a mini bottle on ebay late last summer. I was thrilled to open the little green-and-orange box and pull out the bulbous little bottle, hoping against hope for something that approximated the rosy, calm, shot-with-gold-light peacefulness of La Myrrhe, at a price less than Firstborn Child.

I was disappointed pretty quickly. I knew the review had said L’Eau C&C resembles La Myrrhe “for a while,” but honestly? It’s not even close. Sorry, but it’s Just Not. Not even the aldehydic start has much in common with La Myrrhe, much less the overall impression. I realize that LM is not everyone’s cup of tea, but it surely is mine: the sparkly aldehydes, the florals that don’t nominally include rose but somehow add up to a glowing deep pink color, the sharp, nearly medicinal aspect, the almost metallic tang. I love it. I find it comforting.

L’E C&C starts off with some dry aldehydes that make me think of talcum powder, and I suspect that if you hate aldehydes this is not going to be your kind of fragrance at all. Aldehydes can sometimes come off like powdered sugar, as in Chanel No. 22, but here they’re not sweet. The aldehydic start is followed by something vaguely herbal – it’s a little like opening up your spice cabinet and getting a whiff of all your tightly-closed herb jars, but less foody-savory. There may be some lavender in there, too, and definitely a pine note. I cannot pick out any florals at all, unless there be just a bare hint of some miscellaneous “fresh” note like freesia, or (a very bad) orange blossom; there is definitely a soapy quality to the fragrance that I don’t care much for. I don’t smell any anise, either. The thing is just so dry, it’s like unbuttered toast. After the almost-savory middle, there’s a salty, thin vetiver to end, and L’E C&C tails off rather gracefully into nothing. The whole ride is over in about three hours on me, if sprayed, and in about two if I dab, even generously. I certainly think it’s unisex (not that I’ll be able to talk The CEO into wearing it).

L’Eau Cheap & Chic is not all that bad, really. It’s certainly more interesting than a lot of middle-of-the-road fragrances that I’ve smelled: dry, outdoorsy, restrained by choice, sober, yet quirky. It reminds me a little bit of L’Artisan’s Passage d’Enfer (the pine), a little bit of Santa Maria Novello’s bizarre-yet-compelling Melograno (the dry, powdery aldehydes, the herbal and woody aspects), and a little bit of Cacharel’s Noa (the soapy floral), but does not remind me at all of La Myrrhe. And of course, Moschino is very reasonably priced, so it’s easy to pick up a mini here or there. But if I’m being honest, I have to say that I don’t like it.

Notes for L’Eau Cheap & Chic: Lily, rose, freesia, grapes, anise, orange, vetiver, heliotrope, amber. It was composed by Ilias Ermenidis and released in 2001. Oddly, the aldehydes – which are most definitely present, are not listed. Vetiver is the only listed note that really stands out to me, and I would not even call this thing a floral, as it doesn’t smell in any way floral to me. As for the grapes and orange, I don’t smell them either. Could be they’re buried under snowy aldehydes, but typically I like fruity-aldehydic florals (witness my love for Iris Poudre and Ferre 20), and I don’t get even a hint of fruit in L’Eau C & C.

I can only find reviews at the fragrance forums – Basenotes, Fragrantica, Makeup Alley – and they seem singularly unhelpful in this instance, being mostly made up of descriptors like “clean,” “young,” “powdery,” “musky,” “stinky,” “boring,” or “sexy.” (Yes, apparently some people have a fetish for soap.)   Image from Fragrantica.

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Our road, June 2011

Monday, June 6: Took Bookworm to the Community College to do a placement test for the Governor’s School, then we bought groceries. SOTMorning: Annick Goutal Rose Splendide, which is really pretty but doesn’t last all that long, i.e., a standard floral Goutal.

SOTAfternoon: By Kilian Beyond Love. All tuberose, all the time. Yummy. Bookworm and I helped The CEO moved another bunch of cows from the Front Field into the Meadow Field, in preparation for moving them into the barn lot tomorrow. This bunch was less insane than the one the day before – or maybe moving them one field at a time, one day at a time, is easier.

The Gator ran out of gas on the way back home, and we had to push it off the gravel road and hoof it back home, maybe three quarters of a mile. Not awful, but the shoes I was wearing were not really up to the gravel; I think I felt every rock under my feet. SOTEvening, after a shower: Diptyque Do Son. I have tested this before; I didn’t like it. Maybe that will change today, although I’m not expecting anything.

Tuesday, June 7: Hotter than yesterday. Cleaned out the area under the master bathroom sink (holy cow, I have enough skincare products, sunscreen, haircare, and toothbrushes to stock a pharmacy). SOTMorning: Do Son again. Still not impressed.

Went to water the hanging baskets and discovered two just-hatched birds – squirmy, blind, dandelion-fuzzed – in one of them. I don’t know where the mama bird was; I hope she’s taking care of those two. I did have to either water the plant or let it die (and therefore deprive the baby birds of shelter), so I watered very very carefully, around the nest, but the nest still got a bit damp. I hope I didn’t do any permanent damage to the birdies. I had known there was a nest with eggs in that hanging basket, but since I never saw the mama bird flying in or out of the basket, I figured the eggs were sterile. Clearly they weren’t.

SOTAfternoon: Silences. Crisp and green and cool… and I’m actually starting to miss the boys, who have been at “Camp Nana” – my mother’s house – since Saturday evening. Mowed at least a third of the yard before it rained.

Wednesday, June 8: Hot again, in the low 90s. SOTD: Do Son yet again, while I write a review. I keep trying to like it, and it goes through phases of “nice,” but on the whole I think it’s a waste of my time. Finished mowing.

Thursday, June 9: (Gasp! It just occurred to me, I missed my nephew Curiosity’s birthday! Arrgh.) SOTD: testing vintage Guy Laroche Fidji, which starts out as an absolutely gorgeous sweet green floral with carnation. After a while it gets a bit soapy, and it very much has an old-fashioned feel about it, and not in a “retro-chic” sort of way. I sometimes don’t mind an old-fashioned fragrance, but the longer I have Fidji on, the more I think its day has passed – unlike older, no-longer-in-fashion fragrances that still somehow seem fresh (Apres l’Ondee comes to mind here).

My dad brought the boys back home today. I was starting to miss them, but I was definitely not missing the sibling arguments.

Hot and humid again today, in the low 90s. It poured this evening, just about the time that The CEO was walking into the house, having baled everything that had been mowed. (Yay! Perfect timing.)

Friday, June 10: I really should have done this before now, but I have been arranging the summer schedules. Gaze and Taz are going to a one-week summer camp for rising 5th, 6th, and 7th graders at the Governor’s School for Science and Technology in this area – the same magnet school where Bookworm will be taking science and math classes in the fall. They also need some intermediate swimming lessons. Then Bookworm has marching band responsibilities and cross-country practices off and on all summer, and in August she’s got to have behind-the-wheel driving instruction, and she’s trying to arrange a part-time internship with our congressman too. Aargh! SOTMorning: DSH Perfumes’ version of Norell. I’m not a big fan: it opens green and formidable and Proper Perfume-y, and then turns into a white floral, but there must be a ton of orange blossom in there, because from then on, it is SOAP SOAP SOAP. Bleargh. (Could also be a carnation note, too; sometimes carnation does that on me unless it’s the absolute. It’s hardly ever the absolute, too: carnation absolute is pricey. The cheapest I found any sample was $12 for a 2ml vial. Ouch.)

The baby birds in the hanging basket, of which there are now four, appear to be thriving: they’re bigger, squirmier, livelier. We’ll be watching them. Also, I’ve now seen the mother bird flying into the basket, so she must be feeding them.  I think she’s a robin, but since she’s mostly a brownish-gray color it’s hard to tell for sure.

Went to my late grandmother’s house, to see my parents and pick up some things that Taz left at their house on Wednesday. Nell’s townhouse will be going on the market soon, so Mom and Dad and Aunt Becky and Uncle Mike, were there today putting away miscellaneous stuff and getting the house ready for viewing. SOTAfternoon, from a purse sample on the way: Guerlain Elixirs Charnels Floral Romantique. Smells nice. I do really like it, it’s a more skin-scent, creamy version of Idylle, not groundbreaking but (as I said) it simply smells nice. Too bad it’s so ridiculously expensive. Bookworm drove there and back. She’s getting better.

Saturday, June 11: Got up early, took Bookworm to a local park where the high school track teams were hosting a 5K run as a fundraiser. Cleaned house. For the SOTD, I broke out that bottle of Moschino Funny! that I bought at deep discount at the end of last summer, having drained three sample vials and realized that I kept thinking about the fragrance. It’s one of those things that works like cologne for me, and it’s terrific.

In the afternoon, Bookworm headed off to the lake with a group of band friends (the gathering hosted by Charlie’s parents), and The CEO wheedled my help with moving some hay bales from the field behind the Presbyterian church manse to the bale lot. So I got to drive the ancient Ford one-ton known as the Brown Truck. It’s in crappy shape, and probably older than I am (that is, it hit Antique Vehicle Status about 20 years ago), but it’s in better condition than the last farm truck I drove anywhere. That was the old green truck, and the first thing I said when I got into the thing was, “Honey? Honey, where are the floorboards?” Rusted out. Just prop your feet on the sides there, anywhere they’ll fit, he said. So the second thing I said was, “Well, where’s the seat?” He shrugged. It’s mostly gone. The frame’s there. And the third thing I wanted to know was, “How can I scoot the non-seat up closer so I can shift gears without sliding out of the non-seat and becoming horizontal in it?” (I am a shortish person with short legs.) You can’t scoot it, he said scornfully. It’s not made to move, it’s a bench seat. Aarrgh.

But it went well today, no troubles. Except that I didn’t return the truck to its usual parking space when we returned to the shop lot near the house: I, er… am reverse-directionally-challenged. That is, I will go to lengths to avoid having to back up into a narrowly-defined area. I never, ever, back into parking spaces, even if that means I have to wait longer to get out of a crowded lot. I ‘m always more comfortable backing from a narrow space into a wide one, particularly in a long vehicle like a farm truck, or my trusty Eddie Van.

SOTEvening: Parfumerie Generale Hyperessence Matale. Smells sort of like vegetation, sort of like cologne, and sort of like soap. It’s the Hyperessence of Meh, actually.

Sunday, June 12: Hot and muggy. SOTMorning: Hanae Mori Haute Couture, which I think of as a fizzy pink lemonade sort of fragrance, and the only jasmine-heavy scent I like. However, Bookworm scrunched up her nose and called it “sickly sweet” this morning, and Gaze said it “smelled like Nana’s house – you know, not bad, but not really a perfume.” Holy moly. They probably think I stink fully half the time they’re awake…

JHaG purse bullet pack, from lusciouscargo.com

SOTAfternoon: Juliet Has a Gun Citizen Queen, in the oil formulation for the purse bullet. Dee of Beauty on the Outside was kind enough to send a purse bullet refill my way (thanks, Dee!), and wanted to know what I thought of it, given that I find the EdP pretty sexy. What can I say? It’s CQ, only with better staying power and a little more oomph. (No licentious remarks, please.) Oils typically have less sillage than alcohol preparations, but this one is wafty enough for me; I’m not a big-sillage fan. Yummy stuff, and I think the oil may be weighted toward the leather and musk, away from the aldehydes and violet of the EdP. It’s all good.

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Getting Up The Cows

The CEO, Bookworm, and I headed out in the Gator so we could get up some cows on Sunday afternoon, about 4:30. It was hot, but not ridiculously hot – 85F, with a little breeze – and the Gator is open, so when you’re going 15mph it feels like you’re speeding, and the wind blows your hair back, even if you are wearing a Virginia Beef hat borrowed from your husband. We went to the barn lot, down the gravel road lined on both sides with fences hung with honeysuckle vines (smelling heavenly on the hot wind!), and in through the Seven-Acre Field, calling the cows and bull that were in that field out of it. The grass was tall and headed out in that field, so that grass seeds kept flying at us, stinging my arms, as the Gator went through it.

Bookworm driving the Gator

What The CEO needed was a particular portion of the herd to move from one field through another to the small field he uses as a staging area for the barn lot. The barn lot is largely dirt, through years of use, and it holds a disused barn and the working pens and headchute. Generally the cows don’t want to go in there, because it’s not full of grass, and of course it probably smells like cow distress. In the same way that it’s difficult to entice the cat to get into the cat carrier when the only place she ever goes in it is to the vet’s office, where someone will poke her and prod her and mess with her teeth and give her shots, it’s hard to coax cows to go through a gate into a dirt field where they’ve been poked and prodded and given shots. They’re not that dumb.

The cows started the afternoon in a small field that’s referred to as “Weston’s,” so called because The CEO’s father’s first cousin Weston used to live in the house that adjoins it. Weston is a Presbyterian minister, he’s 78 years old, and he hasn’t lived in that house for probably 50 years, but it’s Weston’s Field by long habit.

Cows in the Twenty-Acre Field

When we got to Weston’s Field, The CEO started calling the cows to see if he could just call them into the next field without chasing anything. “Whooo, cows, come on. Whooo, cows, come on.” He dropped me off in what’s called the Back Side with a sorting stick (a three-foot length of black plastic pipe) near the gate and told me, “Stand here and don’t let ’em go down the hill. Make ’em go that way,” pointing toward the wooded area at the top of the hill. He and Bookworm went into Weston’s Field in the Gator, making sure that no animal had been left behind, as cows began coming into the Back Side.

Sometimes they’ll come willingly into a new field, because they’ve come to associate the “whooo, cows” call with fresh grass. I like to imagine that they’re thinking, “Hey, they just opened up a new section of the buffet! Come on, girls, let’s go!” In this case, they came happily into the new field and immediately started munching. If you’ve never been close to a group of 60 large animals, all munching at the same time, it’s interesting. It’s loud.

Cows are interesting, anyway: for one thing, they’re big. Most of ours are of mixed breed, what’s called a “commercial herd.” In our area of the country, that generally means a mixture of Angus, Hereford, Simmental, Charolais, and/or Gelbvieh genetics, and we’ve got elements of all those breeds in our herd. Most of our cows are black because the coat color, from Angus genetics, is dominant. However, because Simmentals and Gelbvieh are multicolored, Herefords are red with white faces, and Charolais are white, the dominant black coat doesn’t always win. We’ve got red cows, brown cows, dull yellow cows, white cows, even grayish and orange cows, making up about 25% of the whole herd, as you might expect if you remember your Mendelian genetics from high school: the incidence of dominant phenotype is about 75%, with recessive phenotypes presenting about 25% of the time. The white face of the Hereford breed comes out fairly often, with white patches on the faces of black cows. (My father-in-law had about five color designations for cows: black, brown, red, white, and yaller. Yaller could refer to anything from yellow to beige through gray to that odd orange color.)

This big red cow is one of the Beefmasters.

We also happen to own about 15 Beefmaster cows, purchased secondhand from an enormous ranch facility in the western states that went bankrupt. Beefmaster is an acknowledged breed on its own, consisting of 50% Brahman, 25% Hereford, and 25% Shorthorn and especially well-adapted to the dry, hot conditions in the western US. They’re good big cows that usually have big healthy calves, and they’re good mamas – but they’re flighty and sometimes aggressive. They have independent streaks, which is somewhat contrary to the herd instinct that tends to be pretty strong in domesticated cattle. Cattle are like deer and antelope and wildebeest and all those herd animals that you’ve probably seen documentaries about on Wild Kingdom: wolves or dingoes or cheetahs cutting an animal out of the herd and hounding it until it’s alone and exhausted. Cows are no dummies when it comes to safety, and they like to stay together… unless they’re Beefmasters.

But back to what I was saying: cows are big. A full-grown commercial cow will generally weigh about 1100 to 1400 pounds. They have big liquid eyes and ridiculously long eyelashes and you can see the muscles move in their flanks as they walk, and if a cow managed to bump into you, you’d probably fall down. Our cows tend toward calmness, except for the Beefmasters, and unless they have newborn calves to protect, are not prone to aggressive behavior.  (Of course there’s always a couple of wild, nervous ones, but by and large they tend to be pretty calm.)  They have big teeth and big jaws, and the munching sounds are loud when they eat, whether it’s grass, hay, or silage.

Bulls weigh in at anywhere from 1800 to 2200 pounds, depending on breed, age and condition, and they can be five to six feet tall at the shoulder, making some of them as tall at the head as NBA players. Most of our bulls – we have six on the farm, and two more bull calves that won’t start earning their keep for another year or so – are purebred Angus, and although they’re more aggressive than cows, they are relatively gentle. We don’t have any of those “Beware of the bull” signs posted; they tend to ignore humans unless they think they’re getting access to fresh pasture or hot babes. (True bull factoid that inordinately irritates me, because of the correlation to human male sexuality: Bulls like cows. They really, really like cows – all cows, regardless of the color of their coats or the size of their udders. But they love heifers. We’ve had relatively calm-natured bulls plow right through barbed wire fences to get to a field full of young cows.)

So these cows came into the Back Side and immediately started to munch. They kept grabbing mouthfuls as Bookworm and I walked behind them, calling things like, “Cows, move!” and “Let’s go, ladies!” Then a few of them took off into the pond, and it was a pain to get them out of the water and moving forward again. Then the vanguard got spooked and headed down the hill, away from the gate into the Seven-Acre field, and we had to let them run awhile and get calmed down before getting behind them again and driving them up the hill toward the gate.

Here’s another thing about cows: they may look really slow and stupid, but they can run fast. We’re not talking racehorse fast here, but definitely faster-than-humans fast. Bookworm can almost keep up with them, but then she’s in great shape. A good sprinter, which she’s not, might be able to outmatch a cow over a short distance.

The Seven-Acre Field, seen from the working pens

Eventually we did get the cows into the Seven-Acre field, and The CEO said to us, “I’ve got to go open the gate into the barn lot. I’ll be back.” So Bookworm and I stood on top of the field and swatted at bugs and panted (me more than her), while The CEO wrestled with the gate. We couldn’t quite see what was wrong with it; all we could see was that it wasn’t moving and he was doing something to it. The cattle went through their regular roll call, cows bawling out for their calves and calves bawling, “Mom! Hey, Mom!” and then, once they realized all were present and accounted for and nobody was chasing them, they settled down to munch grass, standing in the small area of shade under a black walnut tree.

The afternoon had slid into early evening, and the sky had gone a softer blue. A breeze stirred the hair about our foreheads, bringing with it the weedy, astringent odor of trampled herbage and a faint whiff of honeysuckle from the fencerow. Bookworm whirred her sorting stick in the air, for something to do, and from the Whittaker Woods field, we could hear a woodpecker absurdly loud in its pursuit of bugs. Birds sang. The breeze blew about us again, this time bearing the animal smell of cattle with the hot-bread smell of grass seeds drying.

Cows munched. We swatted at bugs. Wind blew, birds sang, the woodpecker thocked at his tree again. It was peaceful.

Head chute in the working pens

And then The CEO opened the gate and came back up the hill toward us in the Gator, and it was off to the races again, driving cows along the fence to the corner and then down the hill toward the gate. I’ve done this before when the cattle get to the corner and run down the hill and up the other side, and then they get to the gate corner and sheer off, going the other way. The Seven-Acre field is relatively small, but if you find yourself chasing a couple dozen tons of animal around it, it’s plenty big. However, this time it worked as it was supposed to work, and the cows went through the gate into the barn lot.

So after much congratulatory chatter, we got into the Gator and headed home, down by the Old Homeplace, by the spring, down the gravel lane I am now calling Allée des Chévrefeuilles, and turned the corner for home. The sky had gone periwinkle blue, and my clothes were wet with sweat, and the air-conditioned house felt like a little piece of heaven. We ate dinner very late, after our showers, and stumbled to bed early.

Honeysuckle down the gravel road

The next day there would be another bunch of cattle to move.

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Perfume Review:Diptyque Do Son

Date released: 2005

Perfumer: Fabrice Pellegrin

Sample provenance: sample from The Posh Peasant, 2011

Sub-category: Atypical (green) tuberose soliflore

I admit it: I was influenced by the lackluster review in Perfumes: The Guide, and I did not originally intend to include Do Son in my ongoing Tuberose Series Reviews. However, a perfumista friend (Hi, Heidi!) or two were raving about it a few months ago on Facebook, calling it a “summery tuberose” and “full of sea air,” and I caved.

I have noticed, and probably you have too, that the reviews in P:TG are heavily weighted toward the preferences of the writers. (Which they, in all probability, would freely confess.) I don’t think it’s even possible to remove personal preferences from fragrance reviews. One of the things which seems to consistently annoy Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez is the use of synthetic tuberose. Witness this review of Michael Kors: “Shrieking hair-singeing horror, probably first rejected for use in industrial drain cleaner. One of the worst ever.” Or this one, for Amarige: “…truly loathsome, perceptible even at parts-per-billion level, and at all times incompatible with others’ enjoyment of food, music, sex and travel.” Here, TS weighs in on Do Son, which she calls “alleged tuberose”: “Coming out at roughly the same time as Carnal Flower, Do Son never stood much of a chance with tuberose lovers. It didn’t have the budget: the whole thing seems chemical and empty, and, after an okay fresh floral start, alternates between cloying and stale.”

I don’t think it’s as bad as that. But I can tell you that I have now smelled a lot of tuberose fragrances – I mean what my British childhood friend Sarah used to call a whacking great lot of them. This is review #19, and I haven’t yet formally reviewed several of the ones I’ve tried. I’ll also tell you that you can get samples of tuberose essential oil and even tuberose absolute online, and the Real Deal is both fairly inexpensive and truly wonderful-smelling. The synthetic tuberose begins to stick out, the more tuberose scents I smell; it seems to have a greater sweetness level than natural tuberose, and also a… how to say this?… perhaps it’s a blockiness, a sharpness to its edges, that the natural does not have. Mind you, I still do like synthetic tuberose, but compared to the natural essence it does suffer quite a bit. Powdered nondairy creamer is definitely not the same as heavy cream.

Do Son is, like the (few) other Diptyque fragrances I’ve tried, light. This is not necessarily bad, given that the synthetic tuberose does sort of rise up and tap me ungently on the nose after the first ten minutes of soft, sweet-green floralcy. The opening is really, really pretty, and I wish it lasted longer. From there, it just settles into the straight-up, clearly-chemical tuberose angle and stays there. The drydown is a whisper of musk and a hint of vanilla, with the satiny-cool aspect that often results from iris, all of it still under a very faint veil of tuberose that finally begins to smell really, really nice. The whole thing does smell rather clean – not cleaning products, or chemical “fresh” notes, but without the milky or buttery notes you often smell in conjunction with tuberose, and I doubt it would actually offend anyone unless you drenched yourself in it (please don’t, anyway).  I like the opening very much, and the far, far drydown is also extremely pleasant.  I do suspect that there is a bit of real tuberose oil in the composition, and both before and after the center section, when the synthetic note dominates, the real is discernible.  I have seen several references to an aquatic or watery note in Do Son, but I don’t pick up on such a thing – or perhaps the synthetic tuberose is drowning it out for me.

Notes for Do Son, from Fragrantica: African orange flower, rose, tuberose, musk, benzoin, and iris.  Luckyscent mentions orange tree leaves rather than orange flower, and I think it’s probably more accurate, given the green quality.

I also wish there were more interesting things to say about Do Son. It was inspired by childhood memories of Haiphong, Vietnam, named after a resort in Vietnam, and I suspect that the real-life place smells much more intriguing, with jungle and dirt and wood and incense as well as the flowers. To be perfectly honest, I really prefer the much-cheaper B&BW Velvet Tuberose. It smells cheap and is, rather than smelling cheap and costing much more the way the Diptyque does, and apparently I’m vulgar enough to like my cheap fragrances.

I feel I ought to apologize to my friends for disliking their “light, aquatic” tuberose pick. I also notice that several perfume bloggers like it quite a bit better than I did, calling it “misty” and “delicate” and praising it for being a light and wearable tuberose scent.  I’m sorry – I tried to enjoy it. But I’m still not sure whether I’d rather have Do Son or nothing.

Quality: D

Grab-scale score: 3. Headache city.

Short description: Bare tuberose.

Cost: $$      ($88 for 50 ml at Luckyscent)

Earns compliments? No.

Scent presence: Moderate, with moderate sillage. Lasts about three hours when dabbed very generously.  Probably would last better if sprayed.

Review report: Now Smell This, Bois de Jasmin, Perfume Smellin’ Things, The Non-Blonde, Pere de Pierre.  (As always, please point me to any other reviews I’ve missed.)

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Part of my mini collection

Monday, May 30 (Memorial Day): Happy birthday, Bookworm! 16 today.

Hot and hectic… I rushed around a lot and cooked a lot for the birthday dinner and had about six things go wrong, and it took foreeeeeeverrrrr… Dinner was pot roast with potatoes, carrots, and onions, with salad and rolls, and the birthday girl chose red velvet cake with cream cheese icing and vanilla bean ice cream. It was good – but who on earth wants pot roast in 88F weather?? SOTD: Lauren by Ralph Lauren, vintage used bottle via ebay. This is “80s week” for some perfumista friends on Facebook, and although Lauren was released in 1978, it smells like the 80s to me. I had college friends who wore Lauren, and if I tell you that I graduated from college in 1990, you can do the math there.

Tuesday, May 31: Can May really be gone already?? Guess so. It’s 91F today. The sun is shining, birds are singing, and it smells like grass and honeysuckle and locust blossoms outside. I hung out six loads of laundry, and it all got dry. SOTD: Yves St Laurent Paris, vintage mini via ebay. Boy, this thing is a humongous floral bomb. I like humongous floral bombs (you were not in doubt of this, were you?). The CEO has been waiting for pretty weather for weeks, and now that we’ve got sunshine, he’s makin’ hay.

We went to the band banquet this evening. Bookworm has been selected as one of next year’s section leaders for the alto saxes, and I’m proud of her. (Warning: Mom Bragging coming. Skip if this bugs you.) She started out on clarinet in 6th grade, but in 8th grade switched to saxophone because the only sax player in her grade moved away. Since then she’s also played bass clarinet in concert band. As a freshman, her section leader asked if she could march with a tenor sax because the band was short on tenors, so she tried it – but since she’s 5’1” on a tall day, the tenor kept hitting her in the knees. That didn’t work, obviously. This year, her 10th grade, she’s done the following: marching band, cross country, indoor track, concert band, outdoor track, and MACC Science (an academic competition). She’s maintained a 4.0 GPA in high school, and was selected to attend the magnet school for math and science next year. She’s done right good, I think. Also, she is terrific, and her dimples are sooooo cute I have to pinch her cheeks every now and then.

Oh, and we’ve got good news and bad news: The bad news is that one of the calves died for no apparent reason. The good news is that Sampson, the twin calf abandoned by his mama that we’ve been bottle-feeding, now has a new mama.

Wednesday, June 1: The 80s Scent Week just came to a screeching halt. I wore [Karl Lagerfeld] Chloe for a little while today, until it just got Too Hot. Too Darn Hot, people. I was outside most of the day, weeding and planting and mowing and hanging out laundry, and I have a headache and I want to cut my arm off. Gah. Washed. Contemplated some of the other scents on my potential list and couldn’t see trying any of them.

The CEO says that he’ll only have time to make two cuttings of hay this summer, instead of the usual three, because he’s mowing so late. The trade-off is that the hay’s very thick for a first cutting; I suppose all that rain was good for something.

Went to Gaze’s 6th grade awards assembly at school today. (You don’t mind if I brag just a little bit about him, do you? If you do mind, just go ahead and skip to the next paragraph.) He’s a good kid, and I’m very proud of him: Academic Achievement Award Silver Seal (GPA between 3.75 and 3.99), 20+ Accelerated Reader Quizzes Passed, and National Physical Fitness Award. He played the trombone in band this year and joined the track team as a distance runner, and is a terrific, likeable kid with a penchant for puns. Also, he has beautiful eyes.

Thursday, June 2: 80s Scent Week is back on, with Revillon Turbulences parfum. This one was released in 1981, and I bought a boxed mini for about $8 from parfum1 or one of those online places, because Fragrantica calls it an aldehydic floral. Had not yet worn it. As of today, I have, and I’m puzzled at the aldehydic part of the description: if aldehydes are there, they’ve decomposed into total baby powder. This is unusual, because my experience with older aldehydic perfumes with wonky topnotes is that they go to acetone (nail polish remover), not to powder. It’s nice. Not exciting, and I can’t see myself wearing it much, but nice. I think I might pass it on to my mom.

The CEO came home at lunch and tried to wheedle me into learning how to run the tractor with the rake, so I could rake hay for him before he baled it. I didn’t want to. I demurred on the same grounds with which The CEO himself, as a teenager, refused to learn how to milk cows (at one point, his dad and uncle were running a dairy as well as the beef cows): he knew that once he knew how to milk, he’d have to do it. I don’t want to become the backup tractor person if Jeff gets sick.

Also, The CEO seems to be concerned that I spend my time at home doing pointless tasks, since I left my paying job. He should be concerned that I’m spending enough time working on my writing, but he is obsessed with efficiency, and with packing every single moment with work. He gets like this in the summers. It’s almost like when he’s not working at the university, he thinks he’s bleeding money. True, the farm does spend money in the summers – there’s labor, and fertilizer costs, and animal meds, and baler twine and fuel for tractors and trucks, and not a lot of money coming in. But that’s why we have the cushion in the bank. Typically, he’ll get just a couple of big checks a year, when he sells yearling calves at the livestock market. Stretch the gross income, minimize the outgo, and whatever you have left over, well, that’s how much you made, and you never know how much you have left over until you finish the year.

This afternoon, Taz came home with a freshly-tie-dyed tee shirt that he just handed over to me to wash. “Here, Mom. Fix it.” (Good grief. Am I the maid-of-all-work, or the magician?) It’s come out looking pretty good, though.

SOTAfternoon: Retesting Laurie Erickson’s new “summer scent” for Sonoma Scent Studio, two versions (B and C). Last time, I preferred C; this time C is too incensey-woody and B is nicer. Weather might be playing a part here.

Friday, June 3: Last day of school. (Now, to plan the summer so that nobody kills anybody else…) It’s less hot and humid than the rest of the week has been, but still good hay weather, with temps in the mid-80s. Considered the big 80s fragrance Sand & Sable: no can do, too sticky outside.  80s Week is back off.

Chauffeured The CEO and helper Corey to a field today, and went out to lunch with The CEO after he finished baling one field. Our local gathering place has been the recently-opened Tha Dawg House, open for breakfast and lunch, with traditional Southern-style breakfasts (biscuits and all the accompaniments, such as sausage, sausage gravy, bacon, eggs, cheese, ham, grits, etc.) as well as burgers and hot dogs with homemade chili. Not the most romantic place, but it was nice.

Finally got round to testing Maison Martin Margiele Untitled. I had been enticed by the green notes but scared off my someone’s mention of an ashtray note. As it turned out, I found the fragrance a very pleasant smell – green, quiet, calm, reflective – but not what I would call a Proper Perfume. I might like to smell it in my house. Oh, well.

SOTEvening: Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur, gorgeous creamy tuberose fragrance. Ahhhh.

Saturday, June 4: Mid-80s again today, beautiful haymaking weather. In consequence I spent a good part of the day ferrying various people to and from various hayfields. Bookworm ran the rake under The CEO’s supervision, and field reports state that she did an excellent job. Still too hot for big 80s scents, so the SOTAfternoon was Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Ete, my answer to cologne wearers who cannot figure out what I do wear in hot weather – either that, or Moschino Funny!, or Annick Goutal Petite Cherie.

My parents happened to be coming through town, and suggested they take one or more grandchildren with them for a week of “Camp Nana,” but Bookworm is going to be busy this week with marching band leadership activities and with taking a math placement test at the community college for next year’s classes at the Governor’s School for Science and Math. (Good news: college credit in high school. And since it’s through a VA community college, these credits must be accepted at any Virginia college. They’re also accepted at many other colleges. The bad news: Classes start at 7:10 a.m., in the morning. I’ll be dragging her out of bed by her hair, poor baby…)

Sunday, June 5: Another not-too-hot day in which I considered several 80s scents, including the floral chypre Leonard de Leonard, and rejected them. Went with Mary Greenwell Plum.

Took cantaloupe to the church cookout (yum!), then took Bookworm to the University Mall to pick up a new pair of running shoes for her. After the sales guy (a runner himself) watched her jog around the store, he pronounced her an overpronator with a normal foot arch, and brought her six pairs of shoes to try on. She wound up with the same kind of shoe she bought last December. “It just feels right,” she said.

In the afternoon, Bookworm and I helped The CEO move a bunch* of cows with older calves from the Back Side Near Weston’s House field through the Back Side field, into the Whittaker Woods field, and from there into the Seven-Acre Field, in preparation for their receiving an anti-pest topical medicine (similar to Frontline for dogs, it keeps off the flies, fleas, and ticks) and other vaccinations tomorrow. This ought to be the last bunch that hasn’t yet had this treatment this season.

*Because this “bunch” is merely a subset of the entire group of cattle we own, it isn’t a herd. “Herd” tends to imply “the whole group.” But generally, our cows are separated out as to their stage on the reproductive cycle. This bunch was cows with calves who were born last fall.

After all that chasing cattle around the field, we watched “The King’s Speech.” I was dubious about it, first because of the swearing in it, and second because of Colin Firth, who is a fine actor but who for some unknown reason usually gives me the total willies. Bookworm assured me that she’d heard far worse swearing at school (probably true), and other than the swearing, there was nothing objectionable in the film. And Colin did not give me the creeps. I’ve never understood my aversion to him anyway, so the lack of aversion is just as baffling. SOTEvening: Ines de la Fressange (the Calice Becker one from 1999).

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