This blog is for rambling about, well, everything that interests me. Gardening. The Farm. Perfume. Fashion. Photography. Fried chicken. Books. Clutter. Hoarding. Sewing. Writing. Murder Mysteries. Bacon. TV. Movies. Restaurants. Cooking. Oh, and don't forget the cat pictures.
I want to love Rochas Tocade. It's near-universally loved, it has Luca Turin credits, it's inexpensive, it's in that whacky bottle. It has everything that should make it a"See? Great perfume doesn't have to cost a fortune!" example.
But, no. I sprayed on plenty again today, and it's still no more than Perfectly Nice.
I sent off for a sample of Aftelier Cepes & Tuberose more than a year ago, as part of the kickoff of my perfume insanity. It was one of the weirder-sounding scents listed in the classic Now Smell This article 100 Scents Every Perfumista Must Try, and even then I was drawn by the weird. I also loved the idea of natural perfumery, though the prices did shock me, even more then than they do now.
When I sniffed it back then, I remember that I was fascinated, but I didn't even consider buying it to wear. Moving to the present, I wore it Sunday and I wore it today, and much to my surprise, I find it pretty. Not a bland ruffly-girl sort of pretty, but, yeah, pretty. Beautiful, too, but beautiful and weird is less of a surprise, to me, than pretty and weird. Cepes & Tuberose is all three.
When I fall in love with a perfume, I have trouble describing it. I have yet to satisfactorily describe Chanel No. 19. I may very well be having the same problem with this one. The tuberose is startlingly sweet. It starts out almost overpowering, and gradually calms down until, near the end, it's almost chilly, and a little candylike. The mushroom seems to walk in step, always perceptible behind the tuberose, but always subordinate to it so that I can never quite get a good sniff of it. It's dusty and a little brown-buttery.
Remember Gardener Artist, mentioned previously in my blogs? Her proper Internet title is Miss Mosaic, her real name is Karen Rycheck, she makes beautiful things, mostly mosaics, and she's gearing up her Etsy store.
Naturally, being me, I'm showing the chicken side of her art in this post. See that cranky chicken shading under the grape arbor? She's just one of several that roam through the Greek market mosaic that Karen created as the centerpiece of our garden. You can see the rest of the mosaic (ducks and olives and amphoras, oh, my!) at the Commission Art link on her website. If you look really close, you might be able to see the tiny dancing pigs ornamenting the bases of the amphoras. (Mmmm, barbecue...)
But Karen doesn't just do big commission pieces - she does mirrors and tiles and hanging pieces and all sorts of things. For example, I'll be hanging Cock-A-Doodle Mosaic in my den. So with Christmas coming up, it's time for the blatant friend promotion: Have a look!
Today, I planned to wear Sushi Imperiale. Then I opened the perfume breadboxes and saw Oriental Lounge, and that seemed right. Then a sudden longing for Un Lys overrode everything else and I sprayed on a lavish excess. I've declared this to be a winter scent, at least today. In winter, it's not flowers so much as fragrant sugar.
This was a busy week, given that it was supposed to be a vacation. Unexpected house issues combined with normal pre-holiday cleaning and cooking. Busy busy.
But not today. Today, I got up at half past noon, took a bubble bath with Jo Malone bath oil until half past one, and have spent most of the remainder of the day in my den, on the Internet, doing nothing useful. There was also twenty minutes spent walking up to the coffee shop for hot chocolate. Later, Himself and I may move to the living room and continue to do nothing useful.
Then there was turkey. With a lot of garlic. Six heads? Ten heads? It was Himself's recipe, I was just the helper.
Then there were gravy and carrots and brussels sprouts and chestnuts and cranberries and banana bread.
And other folks brought potatoes and potatoes and other root veg and pie and tart and salad and bread and stuffing and tiramisu and I'm forgetting things because there were even more dishes than that on the table.
And we opened wine, and then we opened more wine.
And we forgot to eat the yams. But that's OK, because I can eat them all.
Musette has put me on the first step of the path to (possibly) loving Mitsouko. And, as an added bonus, Bois Blond.
I've always hated the smell of stale nuts or rancid oil. I seem to be particularly sensitive to that smell, so that when others are merrily enjoying nuts or a nutty pastry or something sauteed in oil of unknown age, I'm left wondering why they're not all joining me in saying, "eeew." I need my nuts to be so fresh that they have that almost-sweet scent, and I'm so picky about oil that Himself now has me sniff or taste the oil before we cook anything ambitious in it.
There are perfumes that have that stale nut scent. I've more than once noticed it in Bois Blond, and on Sunday when I tried Mitsouko again, I got a subtler version of it - subtler, but still dominating the fragrance for me. I'm pretty sure that this is what's always put me off Mitsouko in the past.
Now, it's not as if that smell is inherently dreadful. The problem is that I associate it with food gone bad, and as long as that's true, it's dreadful for me. I've tried to dissociate it from food, but I've failed. Then Musette said this, about a "gasoline-edge" in Mitsouko. And then, on Sunday, I wore Mitsouko.
Oh. Yes. That note does definitely smell like gasoline. It smells like stale nuts, too; I can sniff it and let the interpretation go back and forth, like that picture up there. (Duck? Rabbit? Duck?) And just as I can decree that the picture is of a rabbit, I can choose to read that note as gasoline. And I'm OK with the scent of gasoline. It's weird, but I like weird. And it's not the least bit edible.
Now, this doesn't yet mean that I love Mitsouko, but it does mean that I can move past "Eew! Stale!" and have a shot at really perceiving it. This is a good thing. I owe you, Musette.
(As a side note, I've more than once mentioned getting a gasoline note from Tubereuse Criminelle. And I do still smell it, but it has essentially no resemblance to the gasoline note in Bois Blond. I don't get it.)
I was grumpy today. Burned-up, smoldering, grumpy. So I decided to choose my perfume accordingly.
But it didn't quite work. As I commented once before, but forgot, Serge Noire is not at its best in halfhearted weather. It needs cold or heat, and on mild days like today it's just sticky.
Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle would have had a better explosive vibe. Or Chanel No. 19 would have served well as the scent of "don't mess with me" - and I see that I logged L'Arte di Gucci in that category as well. Or Cuir de Russie might have given me that above-it-all feeling.
This is all reminding me of Miss Manners' assurance that while etiquette is normally about making others feel at ease, it can instead be used to make one's enemies feel very much the opposite, while avoiding bloodshed. The same for perfume. At least in my own head.
So I stopped by the Creed counter, and an ever-so-nice and quite knowledgeable salesperson walked me through a number of the Creeds that I hadn't smelled yet. My conclusion is that she is great, but Creed? Eh. I suspect that I will shortly have a Creed-free collection, after I divest myself of Love in Black and Original Vetiver.
It's not that they're bad, but none of them ever seem to make it to the top of their category, in my own personal rating system. Original Vetiver was outranked by Vetiver Tonka. Love in Black... well, I never liked violets, and Iris Taizo outranks it for iris. Bandit - even the modern one that I was a bit disappointed by - and Cuir de Lancome beat out Royal English Leather. And so on.
A recent post about figs on My Perfumed Life reminded me that I'm still unreconciled with fig perfumes. I do love Parfumerie Generale Jardin de Kerylos, though apparently not enough to actually buy it when it comes down to that or something else. Diptyque Philosykos is sugar-sweet and rather boring to my nose, and other figs rarely work much better for me. So today, when rummaging through the sample stash, I chose Ava Luxe Figuier.
I like it, but I don't love it. It's not as sweet as Philosykos, but it's still a little too sweet. It has a powdery note, which is normally a negative to me, but in this case I like it - it's a nice powder, and it adds texture and makes the fragrance less fruity.
But I'm still a one-fig girl - Jardin de Kerylos is it. And I continue to puzzle over why others like most of the figs when I'm so very halfhearted about them. And why no one but me seems to read Philosykos as sugar sweet. Sometimes I imagine that my nose is the olfactory equivalent of partially color blind, and I find myself wishing for a smell-related test like those visual tests for color blindness - like this one - to find out if my nose is normal or not.
Meanwhile, I'm going to longingly stare at pictures of Jardin de Kerylos. Because my perfume purchase schedule tells me that I'm not allowed to buy any more perfume until, I believe, January of 2012.
Normally this is too plain, but it was perfect for my mood today - grapefruity undemanding prettiness. Unfortunately, it also lasted about fourteen seconds and projected about half an inch. So I kept the rollon next to my computer all day, always ready to run across my forearm for a sniff.
I like this better and better every time I wear it. But I've never reviewed it. I suspect that that's because I can't quite put words to it. It's sharp, sometimes. And sweet sometimes and edible sometimes and medicinal sometimes. Sometimes it's weird and sometimes, for a moment, it's pretty, as in girly pretty. It's fresh, but not in the girly chiffon-flapping-over-a-crystal-blue-stream way that I can hear every time a perfume salesperson says "fresh".
This is one of Those Weeks. (Even Monday's weeding was on a deadline - we have a community garden plot that must be all nice and tidy to be renewed annually.) But Those Weeks are worse without perfume. I really need to start taking a moment to stink myself up with something.
Last Saturday was, well, Last Saturday. (You know, our private holiday, described here?) But there wasn't time to do any shopping, so I declared this Saturday to be Last Saturday
This Saturday, we went to Barney's.
I assured Himself that I just needed, oh, half an hour. Close to one scent-fogged hour later, my phone went off, with the blaring Warning! Warning! ring that I set after Himself complained that I never seemed to hear the phone when he calls. He was very courteous on the phone, and assured me that he was just calling to let me know that he was moving from the cafe where he usually waits out my perfume worship in reasonable comfort, to elsewhere on Union Square. It seemed appropriate for me to make decisions and get moving.
The decisions at that point involved:
A tuberose perfume from... um... oh, dear. It's on the shelves against the column right by the stairs - no, that's not going to help you any. A tuberose that contained, to my nose, a substantial melon note. That was right out. And, of course, I never buy a perfume on the day I smell it for the first time, so that would have eliminated it anyway.
Serge Lutens Chene. What ever made me think that I didn't like this? What ever made me think that I didn't love this? Gooey sweet stuff plus something sharp plus rum. Want. And I've smelled it at least once before, so technically buying it wouldn't violate the rules.
Nasomatto Hindu Grass. I couldn't decide if I liked this a good deal more than most fragrant-grass fragrances or just liked it. Anyway, it was the first day I smelled this one, too, and you know the rule. I never break the rule. Breaking the rule at The Perfume Shoppe doesn't count, because Nazrin is magic. Or psychic. Or something. The nice man gave me a sample, though.
Nasomatto Absinth. I liked this very much. Sweet and sharp and vaguely edible. I'd never smelled it before either.
Bois 1920 Sutra Ylang. I didn't even sniff this, but whenever I see it, it goes into the decisionmaking apparatus in my brain, which makes happy longing noises, gets a fresh look at the price, and spits out a rejection slip.
There is now a bottle of Nasomatto Absinth in the New Perfume Admiration Spot in the living room. I'm taking the Fifth. At least until I can manufacture an exception to the rule. Luckily, it's likely to be about six months before I get to Barney's again.
Edited to add: Aha! the "um..." tuberose was Heely - I went on a bottle-recognition hunt through Barney's website, plus now I remember also sniffing Cardinal. And therefore by process of elimination, it was probably Heeley Ophelia - the notes look just about like the notes list that the nice man showed me.
If it was Ophelia, then I'm guessing that the melon note might have really been an aquatic note (I tend to read aquatic as melon), though there's a little bit of a dark joke feel about that, isn't there?
In any case, it's not for me. The top notes felt like a very classic-fragrance take on tuberose, which was great. But the melon spoiled that within five minutes, and then the good black-and-white-movie classic fragrance vibe turned into an overperfumed-lady-at-church sneezy classic fragrance vibe, plus melon, and that was that. I'm perfectly prepared to blame my skin and my nose rather than Heeley - I've mentioned more than once that my nose can't catch certain notes, and there might be a missing note that would have pulled it all together to perfection. But I'm still not buying it.
Yesterday (yes, I'm backdating again) was busy. If I'd had to choose a perfume, I wouldn't be surprised at my failure to wear any. But I'm doing the one-week scent challenge, so there was no choice involved. And for most of the day, the chosen bottle of Osmanthe Yunnan was less than two feet away from me, on the same table as my work computer. I thought, several times, about spraying some on. I felt the lack of perfume as a bad thing. But I still didn't apply any.
When I apply perfume, I generally do it as part of a few leisurely steps, though the steps vary. I may brush my hair first, or put on a clean shirt and clean fluffy socks, or a scarf. The common element is that these actions are about me - about tending and caring for me, most often my physical self. I didn't have time to pause for any leisurely steps, and I'm guessing that's why I didn't put on perfume.
That ties into some thoughts about why I love perfume. I think that for me, perfume is about finding a way to treat myself as a person who's worth tending, and decorating, when I have trouble doing so it in other ways.
Here's where I go on a very long tangent.
In my childhood, my family didn't socialize. My parents barely tolerated one another, and never entertained at home. Their brushes with the rest of the world - Dad at work, Mom with her League cronies - were all but invisible to me. I had so few interactions with adults not in the family that until I was perhaps eight or ten years old, I couldn't order my own food in a fast-food restaurant, because I couldn't bring myself to speak to a stranger.
In grade school, I was the quiet kid, good-naturedly tolerated by the others. I remember a teacher once asking me about my lack of friends, and I remember my puzzlement at the idea that I needed any. To me, adults were people who had outgrown the childish need for warm relationships. And I was smart, smarter than the average child, so it seemed logical that I should aspire early to a proper adult level of isolation. Sometimes I played with the kids in the neighborhood, but the idea of kids from school traveling to and entering our home? Inconceivable. Mom and Dad, both dealing with their own demons, didn't seem to notice my lack of friends.
Toward the end of grade school, I was befriended, much to my own surprise. My friend was that rare girl who is not only pretty and popular, but genuinely kind. She may have seen the quiet kid as a project to fix. But she had charm, and my prickly pride never thought to analyze her motives. Around that time, the school gave everyone assigned seats at lunch, so that I was unable to hide in my usual corners. With my new friend nearby to pull me into conversation, I started to enter the world as a social being. Chinks formed in my isolationist policy.
Then we moved.
And I was the new kid. The still socially inept kid. The kid in polyester when the new town had gone to natural fibers. The kid who carried a lunchbox, probably just once, but once is enough, when the other kids had gone to paper bags. And it was sixth grade; remember what sixth grade was like? And so my role was chosen for me. I suspect that there's something about puberty that gives kids a need to express pack hatred, and the pack chose me as their primary target.
My dysfunctional social philosophy had a role in getting me into this fix, but it might also be entitled to the credit for getting me out of it alive and with with some semblance of self-worth. I was still smart - no one was ever going to convince me that I wasn't, or that smart wasn't important. And I still didn't think I needed friends. My parents were isolated from the world, and they were happy, right? Wrong, but I didn't know enough to see that at the time. Without other examples of adult behavior to refer to, I didn't even realize that they didn't like each other.
So I didn't need to be told to just wait it out, that it would get better. I knew that I would someday reach adulthood and, like all sensible adults, I would shut the door every day after work and be alone in my own home, with a whole lot of books. (And I wouldn't be foolish enough to get married.) I waited through two and a half years of daily communication that I was contemptible, offensive, and, of course, ugly.
And then the educational assembly line rolled me into high school. With a larger pool of candidates, the pack found new people to hate and I was once again tolerated as the quiet kid. I started to emerge again, very slowly, and talk to a few people. By late in my senior year, a teacher once had to tell me to shut up. I was delighted, and I think perhaps he was, too.
But I learned more than I wanted to while I was waiting things out. A very persistent part of my mind still thinks that I'm ugly, still fears that my very presence is an annoyance, and is still much more comfortable being smart than being social. As I said in my Bvlgari Black review, I like being the one with the extra knowledge, and perfume is a realm of self-adornment where that's true. I can combine the old comfort of being smart with the new, and ever so risky, adventure of dealing with other human beings.
I used to love this one. I fully understood Luca Turin's five stars. I debated a full bottle, even though it came in tiny bottles of the kind that I always lobby for.
But now, I can't remember what all the fuss was about. It's pretty flowers and milky tea with a little undissolved sugar crunching in my teeth. It's Perfectly Nice, and no more. What happened?
But, all the same, this is going to be my scent for March's Scent Challenge, a challenge based around the horrifying idea of wearing the same scent for a full week. This is, in part, because I'm temporarily away from my collection. But the other part is my desire to rediscover what I loved about it, and surely a week is enough to let me know that?
It won't actually be a week. The challenge ends on the eighth, so I had to start on Monday, but I didn't pack the Fou d'Absinthe that I wore on Monday, and then I forgot to wear anything at all on Tuesday. See? So I'll be wearing Osmanthe Yunnan for five days, and by the end we'll see if I've rediscovered its charms, or if I'm sick to death of it.
And now I'm off to write 1,667 words. Wish me luck.
NaNoWriMo has begun. Who has time for perfume? OK, yes, I do have time to wear perfume, but unless I make fiction about it, who has time to write about it?
I had forgotten what NaNoWriMo was like. Mainly, I'd forgotten just how pellmell the writing is, how fast it's necessary to write to get in the requisite 1667 words a day, on a work day. Yesterday, I achieved a little over 400 words; today I've already gone to Dr. Wicked as the only way to get those words coming out fast enough. I keep thinking that I'll spit out the 1667, and then I'll do some more leisurely writing, but so far, the daily goal is all I've managed to achieve.