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Image from Makeup Files

Many times in the past, I’ve ranted that I hate loud perfume. Hate it, abhor it, despise it… and therefore I never apply perfume such that I can be smelled at farther than a distance of about five feet. My usual preferred wafting distance is about three feet, but every now and then I come across a particularly radiant scent that, however carefully applied, leaves goodly sillage. Of that kind of thing, I just use less than my usual moderate amount.

Not everyone is so thoughtful.

A couple of weeks ago, during a trip to the Wal-Mart to pick up a few groceries and a new bike helmet for Gaze, whose head is relatively large for his size, we were olfactorily assaulted by a woman pushing her shopping cart a good 18-20 feet away from us. This lady was completely doused in Youth Dew, a heavy-hitter of the first order.

(Wearers of Youth Dew, fear not, this is not going to turn into a diatribe. At least, I’ll do my best.) I hate Youth Dew. As a child, I smelled it frequently on ladies at church, and at concerts, and out shopping with my mother. I didn’t like it then, and I still don’t like it. Just last month, I rechecked it at the Estee Lauder counter at the mall, just to make absolutely positively sure that my tastes haven’t changed with regards to YD. I put the teeniest spritz I could manage on a tester strip and then swiped the paper across the back of my hand, figuring I could wash it off easily there. But no go, I still hate the stuff. It smells dusty-oily and cloying to me, just horrid.

If I look at the list of fragrances I have found hideous over the years, they’d include these: Youth Dew, Opium, Obsession, Poison, and Angel. What do these have in common? Well, the first three are hefty balsamic orientals, Poison is a hefty floral-oriental, and Angel is… lessee… perhaps we could call it a huge, stonking gourmand fougere. Further, each one of them is radiant beyond all belief, with a nuclear half-life, with as much personality as Ethel Merman or Liberace, and with a similar attention-grabbing persona.

Gah.

My further question is, do I hate these because they are Perfumery’s Big Guns – or do I hate them because so many wearers apply too much? This is still the chicken-or-egg question. I know that frequently people who have a signature scent lose the ability to smell the fragrance at the levels that others can smell it, and accordingly, overapply. Also, I think I have to take the position that people who choose these hefty, radiant, personality-plus fragrances really love to smell them, and assume that everyone else loves those scents as well.

It’s not that I only like quiet, unassuming fragrances myself. I sometimes like a big wafter – for example, L’Arte di Gucci, or Carnal Flower. I mostly liked Portrait of a Lady, which is every bit as radiant as Opium. But I like these on a small scale, a drop or two at a time, not at levels that could choke a moose.

I’m dying to know why I never smell someone from fifteen feet away wearing something I love. Why aren’t these Floating-Clouds-of-Fragrance people wearing, I dunno, Cuir de Lancome? Or Chanel No. 5 parfum? Or Hanae Mori, another wafty one, for that matter? I would adore to bump into someone wearing a little mist of, say, Agent Provocateur or Alahine. (Alahiiiiiine, yum.) I once had a boss that wore something quite lovely, and while you couldn’t smell her down the hall, she did leave a tiny trail of delicious scent behind her. Other than that, I never seem to smell something lovely on the air.

I know it takes all kinds to make a world, and I’m sorry if I’ve stepped on toes today. Anybody want to weigh in on this issue? Have you ever suspected, or been told outright, that you’re wearing too much perfume? Whether you love the Sillage Monsters or hate them, whether you like big sillage or hate it, please share.

See also this blog post on people wearing too much perfume. I disagree with the blogger that church should be a totally fragrance-free zone, but (as I mentioned a few paragraphs up) I’ve certainly been smacked about the nostrils while sitting in a pew, so she does have a point. Mine is just – “Please, don’t give non-perfumistas reason to hate us. Wear something that smells really good, and unless you’re in a spot where you can let loose without bludgeoning people, be discreet.”

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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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Minis in the Hocking Manhattan berry bowl: MJ Daisy, vtg Shalimar, Nina Ricci Nina, K de Krizia, Encre Noire, DSH Oeillets Rouges

Monday, Apr. 11: A rainy morning, followed by heat in the 80s (ugh, steamy). SOTD: Cuir de Lancome, a choice I’m now regretting given that I have another concert tonight. It turned out that no one had remembered to turn on the AC at the church… or open the windows… and it was miserably hot. I smelled a bit like Overheated Leather Handbag.

The middle school track meet scheduled for this evening was cancelled, due to the tornado damage in the area and the 6 pm curfew imposed for part of the county. These things happen, but Gaze was disappointed.

Tuesday, Apr. 12: More rain. All day. I feel like Noah’s wife*.

SOTD: original Nina Ricci Nina – not the modern tutti-frutti thing, but the earlier floral. I don’t remember smelling this particular scent before, but it smells familiar somehow, like an amalgam of the two fragrances I wore most frequently in the 80s: Karl Lagerfeld Chloe, a kitchen-sink white floral with a rich base, and Prince Matchabelli Cachet, a soft floral chypre. There is a pleasant powdery-soapy cast to Nina. It’s not terribly distinctive to my mind, but it is very pretty and soft, with that faintly-chypre hint that suggests that the wearer of this Nice Girl’s Aldehydic Floral could probably clobber her date in a Trivial Pursuit grudge match, if she chose to ignore his ego.

*Joan of Ark, of course. (Apologies to those of you who’ve never seen “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” which is right up there with “Princess Bride” and “Monty Python’s Holy Grail” for quotability percentage in the Woodenshoes household.)

SOTE: Le Temps d’une Fete. After reading Victoria’s lovely review at Bois de Jasmin, I decided not to try something new, but to put on something I already love. Watched “Tombstone” with The CEO last night (hey, another quotable movie!) and wondered exactly why it is that I still find Kurt Russell so gosh-darned attractive, even after all these years. I would blame Disney, but that theory doesn’t explain the Tommy Lee Jones phenomenon.

Wednesday, Apr. 13: Chilly and damp. I am annoyed, and not just because of the weather. The grass in the yard is getting ridiculously thick, and I’d mow it if it would ever stop raining. Also, I just made my 2010 tax-year IRA contribution, and while the numbers on my statement have been getting bigger year by year, I look at the total and think, “No way can I retire on that. NO. WAY.”

Retesting the mystery bottle that Donna (Flora, of Perfume-Smellin’ Things) found and alerted me to: Cristina Bertrand #3. It’s a pretty, gentle white floral. Review here.

Thursday, Apr. 14: Lovely weather. Too busy to mow today; I had errands to run. I deposited donations from our concert, I bought more milk, I took some packages and our federal tax return to the post office. Also, I had to take Eddie Van in to the garage to get a checkup before The CEO takes it on his field trip. He’s got five students doing an honors project, and this is part of it – they’re going to the VA Beef Expo and visiting various agricultual businesses (a seedstock breeder east of Richmond, groundskeeping at Camden Yards, a dairy operation in the Shenandoah Valley, etc.). Anyway, that shimmy in Eddie’s undercarriage, noticeable when going more than 45 mph, turned out not to be “something loose under there,” as The CEO thought it was.

It was a busted sway bar. Thank heavens I took it in when I did. I’m $452 poorer, but safer… thanks to Woodyard Auto.

SOTD: vintage Dior-Dior. Nearly indescribable, but I’ll have a shot at it for a full review later.

SOTE: Diptyque L’Ombre dans L’Eau. Green, fruit, and rose; I can’t figure out why they called it “Shadow on the Water.” I amped the rose with a teeny dab of Montale Highness Rose, and the combo was pleasant and cheerful all through Gaze’s middle school track meet. He did okay. He said he felt nauseated while running, which could have been nerves, or – more likely, IMO – a combination of nerves and low blood sugar. He hadn’t eaten anything since lunch, and he ran at about 7:25 pm. The first thing he did upon finishing the race was go get his backpack and eat a protein bar, and then when he got home he ate a full supper of chicken and veggies and some fruit. His 800 meter time wasn’t all that bad for a 6th grader, though (3:13).

Friday, Apr. 15: The chance of heavy rain for tomorrow is 100%. I figured I’d better mow the grass while I had a chance, but the lawnmower had other ideas. I filled up the gas tank, pumped up the tire, checked the oil, and started out, but I’d only been mowing for about three minutes when the blades stopped. Jeff the hired guy came by while I was messing with the mower, and took a look at it. “Your belt’s stretched,” he said. “There’s no tension on it, so the blades aren’t moving properly.”

Can I fix it myself?” I asked him. He just laughed. So I put the lawnmower away until The CEO can deal with it. There are many things I can do, but my lawnmower repair skills are sadly lacking.

SOTD: Nothing in the morning. I was feeling bad, so I took a mongo nap on the couch. Woke up just before Taz got home, and took a shower so I could go get Bookworm and Gaze from their track practices. SOTA: Dior J’Adore L’Absolu. Looks like I’ve just killed a 2ml spray sample; I have one left. I don’t need any more – there are other Just Pretties out there, not least of which the Cristina Bertrand #3, and that’s a big bottle.

My DSH samples came: some of her Essense Oils Designer Duplicate scents (Chypre, Norell, and Chypre Grass, a recreation of Jovan Grass) and some Parfums de Beaux Arts scents (L’eau d’Iris, Route d’Iris, Lili, and Vert pour Madame). I asked Bookworm to smell the Jovan Grass one because from the vial it smells very much like grass to me, but she says all she can smell is galbanum. “No moss? No grass?” I asked. Nope, just galbanum. Which she hates. She sniffed the Chypre recreation too, and said it smells just like the liniment that the high school’s athletic trainer uses… ouch.

Saturday, Apr. 16: Wore SSS Tabac Aurea to bed last night, as it was chilly and windy and starting to rain. It did indeed rain buckets and buckets this morning, but the afternoon was sunny and windy. The dregs of Tabac Aurea were still there this morning, so I put DSH Chypre on the back of my hand to test. This is an intimidating thing, all steely-eyed witch, intoxicating and dangerous and, somehow, self-centered. Perhaps it should have been called Morgan Le Fay.

It also has made my skin tingle and burn… perhaps there is something after all to those IFRA regs. I’m sure there’s a ton of oakmoss in this. Of course, the oils are pretty concentrated; I might not be bothered by an alcohol formulation of it. I don’t remember having a skin reaction to the other chypres I have (L’Arte di Gucci, Leonard de Leonard). Of course, those are floral chypres, with presumably a lower percentage of oakmoss.

Gaze woke up late and immediately dashed for the bathroom to be sick. Poor baby. Perhaps I had a touch of the bug yesterday? My stomach was fine, but that long nap makes me think perhaps I was fighting off illness.

Sunday, Apr.17: Windy and in the 50s today, but with sun. It could be worse. I gave Taz the opportunity to choose my SOTD from several samples, things I’ve tested before and deemed wearable but not full-bottle-worthy. He picked Lys Mediterranee: “It smells like flowers.” Unbeknownst to the two of us, Bookworm had already picked Donna Karan Gold, and together we were a walking lily bouquet.

Gaze is still sick, poor baby.  I’m a little worried that I’m going to get his bug, too. 

Worse, my laptop fell off the desk while I was trying to hook up the AC converter, and busted the screen.  It appears that the screen is the only thing damaged – I hooked up the laptop to the PC monitor, and everything seems to be working fine – but STILL.  We’re talking minimum $120 for a replacement screen, and that’s if I fix it myself (and don’t screw it up).  I could replace the whole laptop for $200.

Top photo mine.  Photo of Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp and Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday in “Tombstone” from imdb.com.

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I now know not to post a rant (“Please tell me why…”) on a potentially controversial topic and then go make dinner… because Things Will Happen.

Right after I shoved the Jerk Chicken into the oven yesterday afternoon, Gaze stalked into the house, fairly dripping blood.  He’d fallen off his bike and cut his hand, and it was bleeding freely.  I took him into the bathroom to wash it – poor baby, his lips were pale but he was pretty calm – and saw that it was deep enough to need stitches. 

So I left Bookworm in charge of dinner and Taz and took Gaze to the hospital, where we proceeded to spend the next three hours getting X-rays and having his hand stitched, in between periods of staring at the wall posters of burn victims and telling each other terrible jokes.  (“What’s purple and conquered the world?  Alexander the Grape.”) 

Five stitches this kid got in his hand, and did he cry? No.  This is in stark contrast to Taz, who fell off his own bike ten days ago, scraping his knee and elbow, and who wailed nonstop for forty minutes.  But there you have it: Taz is Drama King, and Gaze is the King of Calm.  The CEO and I have been saying to each other for several years now, “If we wind up in the emergency room with any of these kids, it’ll be Taz.”  That’s twice now that we’ve been wrong – last fall, we had an appendicitis scare with Gaze, and yesterday the stitches.  Go figure. 

And then this morning I had to get a prescription for Keflex filled, and take it to the nurse at the middle school, where I spent another half an hour filling out paperwork sufficient that she would be legally able to give Gaze one antibiotic pill a day for the next five school days.  Half an hour!  I know, she’s Just Doing Her Job… it’s annoying to be so hemmed in by rules, though.  I had to leave her the original prescription container with five pills in it and come home with the other 23 pills in a (sterile) plastic bag.

SO.  I’ll get back to everyone who commented on the Fashion Blog issue soon, but for now I’m going to work.

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August

Don’t tell my sister, but I hate August.

Hate it.  (But please don’t tell her, because her birthday’s in August, and she takes things, ahem, personally.  I mean, for all I know, she hates January, which holds my birthday.  However, I don’t really care if she, or you, or half the population of the Northern Hemisphere, hates January, because I wouldn’t see your hate as a personal attack on my very existence.  She would.  Which sort of begs the question, why am I blogging about it then?  She’ll still get mad.)

I hate the sticky-hot weather.  I hate the way the grass starts going dull, the way the pool announces its limited hours, the way the garden looks all bedraggled and sprawling, like it has just given birth to some hulking inhuman monster and might not recover… I hate the way my kids get in August, right before school starts – they’re cranky and touchy and everybody has these unwritten rules about how they can be touched and how  loud they can stand someone else’s voice, and how to play some game they made up last Thursday…

I hate the way the sky goes all flat and no-colored in the mornings.  I hate the bushels of tomatoes piling up on the deck because I just canned a load of those already!, and I can’t get to them all before they go bad.  The house is full of dust from the gravel road.

None of my fragrances seem right for the weather.  None of my clothes do either: too casual or too formal, too bright or too dull, too warm or not warm enough, wah wah wah.

I don’t get to go back to school with fresh notebooks and a new pair of shoes.

Which wouldn’t be so bad, except I’m not lying on a beach somewhere with a Mai Tai and a new Elizabeth George novel, either.

This Is Me, right now:

So I need an attitude transplant.  I’ll try reminding myself of the good stuff about August.

The flowers in front of the house are gorgeous right now, and there are swarms of butterflies around – little white ones and sulfur yellow ones, little brown-and-orange ones, those big black ones with startlingly blue spots on their wings. 

I have 40 quart jars full of tomatoes in the pantry, plus 80 ears of corn and 10 quarts of peaches in the freezer.  We’ll be eating good this winter.

Football weather and the things that go with it, like marching band and blue skies and autumn leaves, are right around the corner.

Even if nothing seems quite right in terms of scent or raiment, I have choices.  Frankly, I should probably have fewer choices and be happier with them.

I could probably go back to school if I really wanted to.

The CEO doesn’t really do lie-on-the-beach vacations.  (Ever seen a caged tiger? Then you’ve seen him with “nothing to do” on vacation.  It’s a thing to be avoided.)  But he has taken me some really cool places, and here’s a pic of one.

This is the Marine Parade on Manly, just a half-hour ferry ride across Sydney Harbour from the city.  It was taken on July 30, 2007 – and keep in mind that an equivalent date in the Northern Hemisphere would be January 30.  Note the people wearing shorts.  That day, The CEO and I did go and sit on the beach.  We talked instead of reading, and drank Cokes instead of Mai Tais, but we dug our feet into the sand and relaxed.  It was nice.  I can go there in my mind.

Images, from top to bottom: “2010 Book Lovers Calendar” from BookLoversStuff at Flickr, “Have a nice day somewhere else” from Indoorcat629 from icanhazcheeseburger.com, and photo Marine Parade, Manly, Australia from my personal files.  I don’t remember which one of us took this one, actually.

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Scent Diary, Aug 9-15

Monday, Aug. 9: I hate my job.  Well, either that or I hate my boss.  Grrrrr. 

If you own two auto parts stores, and you hire someone to do your accounts collections for you, and you have a credit policy but make exceptions for nearly half your three hundred regular customers, and when your bookkeeper, following the credit policy, stamps the message “Account is on COD until past due balance is paid” on a customer’s statement,  the customer is annoyed at the reminder of having not paid his bill and calls you to complain, you discuss the matter with your bookkeeper and ask her not to “do that again”… well.  Why have a credit policy at all?  Why not just let people pay you when they feel like it? 

Oh, yeah… because that’s only valid for certain customers – the ones we mustn’t annoy, apparently.   Certain other customers, having gotten behind in the past when my boss has instructed me to “give them a break,” are now past due enough that I’m supposed to be harassing them for money.  Efficient? NO.

I cannot seem to explain sufficiently to my very bright, but confrontation-avoiding, adult-ADHD, boss, that not sticking to the credit policy for ALL customers, even the guy who’s active in the local Commerce Association, backfires every time.  Every single time!  Not to mention that ditching your *%#$ credit policy on an inconsistent basis makes your bookkeeper hate you.

SOTD: the original Victoria’s Secret scent, Victoria – a lovely, ladylike floral chypre with rose and lily of the valley.  The top notes are totally crap: maple syrup and nail polish remover, which is probably the primary reason why this scent was yanked from the VS lineup.  It’s not that old.  I’ve got bottles of other scents, thirty years older than the two bottles of Victoria I own, that are in much, much more wearable shape.  Yet Victoria’s top notes have decayed dreadfully.  The rest of the fragrance is terrific. 

I’ve mentioned it before, but since I’m already cranky, I’m going to do it again.  Some of you are thinking, Victoria’s Secret?  That stuff’s all teen-mall-princess juice.  (You know who you are.)  But the original scent is both elegant and warm-hearted, both restrained and shyly open.  Basically, it is Princess Diana’s beloved public image, ca. 1984, in a bottle.  This scent was released when VS was selling lovely ivory silk charmeuse camisole-and-tap-pants sets.  And knee-length teal chemises in heavy satin with godets and four-inch-deep cream lace.  And white cotton ankle-length nightgowns with pintucks and eyelet lace and mother-of-pearl buttons.  And pale peach lace balconette bras, very French, sexy but demure, with darker coral hand embroidery and high-leg briefs to match.

Those were the days, lemme tell you… not a hot pink nylon thong in sight.

Tuesday, Aug. 10:  Things were better at work today.  SOTD: DSH Perfumes Parfum de Grasse, what Dawn Spencer Hurwitz calls “a hymn” to the city of perfumes.  I know a lot of people find this one lovely.  I don’t.  The dreaded powdery-mildew note from Bvlgari Pour Femme and Hiris showed up early and never left.  I could discern the rose and carnation, and the beeswax is really lovely, but the powdery stuff killllllls me.

SOTE: DSH Perfumes Special Formula X-treme (oil).  This is the extra-strength version of the “diagnostic tool” that Dawn uses in her shop to classify customer’s skins with regard to smell.  I don’t know all that much about it, although reviews on Basenotes and Makeup Alley compare it to various kinds of Egyptian musks, and also to Creative Scentualization Perfect Veil, SSS Opal, and some other skin-scent thing from Ava Luxe.   March at Perfume Posse comments that it smells really musky and almost body-odor-like, and based on that info, Dawn told her that she must be a “skank magnifier.”  (I think March said something like, “Well, duh.”  I love her.  We rarely like the same things, but I love her writing.) Special Formula doesn’t smell like musk to me.  It smells like very subdued flowers and clean linens, and if that were truly my kind of fragrance, I would love this.  Jennifer Aniston’s non-perfumey perfume should have been this.  Now I’m off to send an email to Dawn asking what it means if Special Formula smells like flowers and laundry on me.  My guess is that she’ll say something like, “White florals and florals in general love your skin.”  Anybody want to bet me?

Wednesday, Aug. 11: I mentioned this before, in my “Busy” post, but the software change that we’ve all been dreading for two years finally happened.  Despite the Tech Support guys’ reassurances that everything would work the way we expected, it was just in a different format… well, you know.  NOT!  I’ll get used to it, though.

Dropped the boys off with my parents, meandered back through the mall, sniffed stuff.  By the time I got there, my SOTD, DSH Perfumes’ Secrets of Egypt: Susinon (1000 Lilies), the perfume version, had faded to a very-discreet skin scent.   Nearly everything on the shelves at Macy’s suffered when compared directly to it, except Shalimar and the drydown of No. 5 edt.  Actually, No. 5 parfum could give the Susinon a run for its money in terms of smelling natural and composed, but there’s no tester for the parfum at Macy’s.  I don’t really like Shalimar edt, but it still smells so real and rounded next to, say, the Jessica Simpson vanilla things, or MJ Lola or Coach or Chance. 

Thursday, Aug. 12: It’s been hot and humid all week.  I hate August.  SOTD: Septimanie Pavillon des Fleurs, nice little green-fresh jasmine thing.  Can I be honest here? I really prefer Hanae Mori Haute Couture, which is available at a quarter of the price.  I love it when my taste agrees with my wallet.  The CEO and I went out to dinner, which is a rare-enough occurrence.  With no kids in the house, we took the opportunity for Date Night.  Whee!  SOTE: LeLong Pour Femme, such a pretty satiny thing.

Friday, Aug. 13:  SOTMorning: none, really.  Except I had bought a $2 trial-size lotion of B&BW Dark Kiss on Wednesday, and put a bit on my scratchy elbows before leaving the house.  Dark Kiss is “Angel Minus the Patchouli, Add Extra Berries Instead.”  Which should be a description of the original Hanae Mori, and yet Dark Kiss does not smell like Hanae Mori.  It smells like Angel Berry.  It’s not hideous.  It’s just… I dunno… very high school.  SOTRest of my Life, apparently: the Designer Impressions version of Angel from the tester at Walgreen’s.  I’d smelled this way back in winter, when the teeny spritz of it on my fabric glove smelled really lovely, and I dared to put it on skin today.

Mistake.  One spritz to the elbow is still going strong 9 hours later.  The bit I put on my scarf smells nice – a bit candy-shop, but nice.  A lot of people who wear Angel actually smell like this to me, all sugar-berry-vanilla.  But on me, Fake Angel smells like Drakkar Noir drank way too much cherry Nyquil and passed out into a vat of cotton candy.  On fabric, I don’t get so much patchouli, but on skin it’s really dreadful.  I haven’t washed because I wanted to see how long it would go.  Nine hours… nine.  I have scent-eating skin, people, and am almost guaranteed of getting less wear than the average with any given scent.  It boggles the mind.  Bookworm, who just got home from band camp, told me to get away from her while wearing it: “It’s just… well, it’s disgusting, Mom.”  She put on a bit of the Dark Kiss lotion, though, and proclaimed it “nice.” 

Saturday, Aug. 14:  Standard Saturday chores: Cleaned bathrooms.  Vacuumed.  Mopped floors.  Straightened my room, which desperately needed it (especially the Putting Fragrance Samples Away part).  SOTD: Marc Jacobs Daisy, which still proves to be one of my favorite Wallpaper Scents – pretty yet unobtrusive.  Drove to my parents’ house for my sister’s birthday dinner – Mom’s homemade lasagna and salad, followed by white cake and peaches.  Delicious. 

We brought the boys home with us.  Taz barely made it up the stairs to change into pajamas and brush his teeth, he was so sleepy… and then for some unexplained reason, while The CEO and I were in the basement family room trying to fix the satellite dish, he came back downstairs with his pillow and collapsed on the couch.  He looked like a… a steamed dumpling, lying there – all curled at the edges, plump and shiny of cheek.  Utterly adorable.

Sunday, Aug. 15: We took about twenty pounds of ripe tomatoes to church with us, to give away.  There’s still plenty in the garden, and I canned another seven quarts this evening (running count, 41 quarts).  Plus I have three quarts of Salsa Cruda and six quarts of fresh peaches in the freezer.  I’ve been a very busy girl.

SOTD: Guerlain Cruel Gardenia, that pretty, outrageously overpriced floral-soap scent.  Reminds me of Coty L’Effleur, which my mother used to wear, and which she liked because it smelled both flowery and clean.  I could probably buy 20 bottles of L’Effleur, even though it’s discontinued, on eBay for the cost of a bottle of CG.  I’m starting to get annoyed at Guerlain.  They discontinue Shalimar Eau Legere, they discontinue Attrape-Coeur, they mess with formulae and fail to reissue Ode as promised… worse, they put out stuff like Insolence and Aqua Allegoria Tutti Kiwi and La Petite Robe Noire – and they charge the same amount for Cruel Gardenia as they do for a genuine gem like Vega.  I’m sick of this.  It’s no wonder I’d rather shop with Sonoma Scent Studio or DSH Perfumes. 

Image is Vintage Jewelry Bits Perfume Bottle from glassbeadtreasures at Flickr.

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It’s me.

Isn’t it?

I mean, it has to be. No one else is complaining.

It’s me.

There is either something about my skin, or something about my nose, that turns perfectly nice fragrances into the smell of shaving cream. I ranted about this phenomenon way back in the fall, and I’m not going to rant again, but I just don’t get it.

It happened again today.

You might already know of my love for rose chypres, given how I natter on about L’Arte di Gucci and PdE Eau Suave and Ungaro Diva and how wonderful Knowing parfum was for two hours before the Evil Lauder Base sent its throttling tendrils up to nauseate me. I even liked Rose de Nuit pretty well, although its weird chewy texture sort of freaked me out. You know how certain types of cheeses and dried-up marshmallows (don’t ask me how I know this) just squeak in your teeth when you bite them? Rose de Nuit squeaks.

So I was thrilled to receive a swap parcel with a sample vial of Guerlain Rose Barbare, from the niche-y L’Art et la Matiere line (as always, please ‘scuse the lack of diacriticals). Word on this one went like this: “ambery rose,” “dark thorny rose,” “modern chypre with rose,” “Mitsouko with rose instead of peach.” And I thought, “Ooooh, a rose Mitsouko, maybe I’d like that. And look, it’s composed by Francis Kurkdjian, he of the stunning, sexy, modern rose chypre Lumiere Noire Pour Femme!”

Guerlain’s description of Rose Barbare: “a heady, incisive Ottoman rose (aldehydes) over a modern structure of honey-chypree notes”.  You’d think they’d be more forthcoming, instead of insulting potential customers by not bothering to tell them what’s in it, but no. That’s all you get in the way of notes: rose, aldehydes, honey, and chypre (bergamot, labdanum, patchouli and something mossy-ish, I’m guessing, in the manner of modern chypres).

I dabbed Rose Barbare onto my wrists Tuesday afternoon and went to pick up Bookworm from track practice, a twenty-minute trip. And things started out well: clearly a beautiful high quality rose ingredient here, framed in some nice green stuff that seems to be mostly patchouli of the kind I tolerate well, all grassy and herbal. But within fifteen minutes, I was getting shaving cream. And it stayed shaving cream for the next five hours, too.

There’s no getting around it: it’s shaving cream. I stuck my wrist under Gaze’s nose and asked what he smelled.  Separately, I asked Bookworm.  They both identified it immediately, without any hints.  And let me be perfectly honest here, I think shaving cream smells great. It’s a smell I find extremely pleasant on a man. Fougeres tend to remind me of shaving cream – I assume that’s a trickle-down effect, by the way: a body care product picking up the smell of fine fragrance. And I don’t want to belabor the point here when other scent bloggers have addressed the issue of gender in fragrance so well and thoroughly,1 but I don’t want to smell like shaving cream! It’s a smell so clearly identified with men in my mind that wearing it on my person feels like wearing men’s underwear when I’m not one: clearly it doesn’t fit me. It chafes.

There are other accords that bother me: the cloying yet dusty Coco-Opium-Cinnabar-Youth Dew-Stetson-Tabu tolu balsam + patchouli accord; the depressing soapiness of orange blossom; the flat, chemical cleaning-products accord I sometimes get from linden and/or muguet notes; the musty-basement thing I can’t quite pin down, but seems related to carrot seed, or iris, or powdery violet; and whatever it is in that dang Lauder base, and in SSS Vintage Rose, that makes me want to toss my cookies. It’s only ToluPatch and Lauder that are bad enough to force me to scrub – the others I struggle through rather than washing off.

I’m not a big fan of citrus, classical colognes, or what Robin at NST calls “wood pudding scents,” (search there for more info) either, but that’s a boredom issue, not a sanity issue.

It’s only the dreaded shaving cream accord that rouses my righteous ire this way, and I think that’s because I tend to avoid the other accords, which is pretty easy. It says “Lauder” right there on the bottle. Ergo, avoid. No prob. The scent description says “balsamic oriental”? I know it’s not for me. The fragrance is focused on OB or linden or iris? Probably not gonna be my bag, I won’t bother with it. There are too many other scents I want to try anyway, I’m probably not missing much.

But shaving cream accord? There’s no warning for that. It always strikes out of flippin’ nowhere. In so-called feminine scents. There I am, all happy in a green garden full of rose bushes, and then suddenly I’m trapped in the enormous stadium-size nightmare barbershop maze. Grrrrrrrr. Before testing, I read five perfume blog reviews of Rose Barbare, with comments, as well as about 40 brief reviews on Fragrantica and Basenotes, and nowhere was there a complete list of the notes (I guess Guerlain didn’t release them) or a description of RB as being even vaguely fougere-y.

The short list of suspects for Shaving Cream Accord (hereafter, SCA) are as follows: lavender, coumarin, and/or opoponax. I think further testing is in order – but if you happen to have any insights to share, I’d be ever so grateful.

A few other reviews of Rose Barbare:  Now Smell This, Bois de Jasmin, Aromascope, Perfume-Smellin’ Things, and Perfume Shrine.  See? Nobody says “shaving cream.”  Curses.  It’s me.

Top image is Barbershop pole from felixtcat at flickr; lower image is Rose Barbare from fragrantica.

1See this post and comments, and the follow-up post, at Grain de Musc and this one at Left Coast Nose, at minimum, for serious discussion on the subject that I frankly don’t have the cojones to address here. (Ha ha. Little gender humor there… of course, it’s a pun, which some people call the lowest form of humor.)

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