Thursday, January 31, 2013

Perfume: Solstice Bad

Here we go again. We're a few weeks past the winter solstice, and suddenly I don't like any of my perfumes. Well, hardly any. I thought that this was happening ahead of schedule, but looking at my blog, it's actually behind--in 2011, I whined about it on January 9.

The other day, I didn't like Santal Majascule, a perfume that I liked before. I don't like Carillon Pour Un Ange, today's scent, and I adored it before. I don't like Une Crime Exotique. Or Serge Noire, or, for that matter, any incense. A La Nuit smelled clean and sweet and pink when I sniffed it yesterday. (Eeew.) Bvlgari Black? Meh. Oriental Lounge? Feh. Tea for Two? I don't even like Tea for Two today!

Cadjmere. L'Eau Rare Matale. Tubereuse Couture. Gardenia Grand Soir. Un Lys. I don't like any of 'em right now. I don't dare smell No. 19, because if I say anything disrespectful about her, she'll kill me.

But I like Cuir Venenum better than I've liked it in years, better than I've liked it since the day I bought it. And I loved Lorenzo Villoresi Sandalo, all day yesterday.

I'm thinking that Saturday I'm going to sniff until my nose falls off, to see which other fragrances I like during the cold-to-warm season change. Because spending four to eight weeks as a non-perfume-lover twice a year is starting to annoy me.

That is all. I'll probably enthuse about Sandalo tomorrow.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Haiku: A Celebration of FedEx

Perfume is en route.
Packages? Three. Guilt? No, none.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

SOTD: Serge Lutens Santal Majuscule

OK, technically it was the SOTOD. (Scent of The Other Day.)

I'm not as familiar with sandalwood as I should be. I sniff perfumes, I read the notes lists, reviewers mention the sandalwood, I shrug and say OK, but I don't  have the note "down". So I'm going to sniff a selection of my sandalwood pefumes and samples, starting with Santal Majuscule. One spray, several hours.

At the beginning of Santal Majuscule, I get roses and nuts--my brain says "food" more than wood, and I suspect that I'm smelling the immortelle, and perhaps unconsciously reacting to the cocoa note that others perceive but I don't.

This initial nutty woody theme is a nice "low" smell, which leads to my own weird terminology: In my mind, "low" smells are subtle rather than piercing, rich rather than sparkling, mellow rather than sharp. "High" smells are on the other end of all of those scales. Low smells purr and take naps; high smells sing arias or at least do a little tapdancing. Cedar is low; aldehydes are very, very high.  L'Artisan Tea for Two is delighftully low; Shiseido White Rose is gloriously high. This is, I emphasize again, all my whacky. You won't find this terminology in perfume glossaries. I think.

The "low" nutty note at the top of Santal Majuscule is accompanied by a piercing, powdery, perfumey billow of "high" rose. In theory, this could work beautifully, like meringue on a thick, rich pie. In practice it doesn't work well for me here. I'd prefer a lower rose, jammier as in Aftelier's Wild Roses or silkier and quieter as in CB I Hate Perfume's Tea/Rose.

In about half an hour, the roses, nuts, and powder settle down enough to stop blocking the view, and "generic wood" finally reveals itself as, "Ah! Sandalwood!" Turns out that I do know what sandalwood smells like. In this perfume, it's a gentle friendly version, without too much spice or glamour. I like it a lot, and I wish that rose would stop tickling it.

The sandalwood, powder, rose, and something incense-prickly kept fighting it out all day, and it wasn't an altogether friendly contest. I suspect that my current distaste for the powdery and prickly is influencing me here, and that at another time I would adore this--as I once did, when I (ahem) bought the bottle. I'm confident that I will love it again, but just this minute I'm a little halfhearted about it.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

(2/7/2013: Edited for spelling correction.)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Rambling: Free associating again

So I'm realizing another reason why the perfume blogging comes and goes. I have four states:
  • Interested in perfume but not feeling verbal.
  • Feeling verbal but not interested in perfume.
  • Not feeling verbal and not interested in perfume.
  • Interested in perfume and feeling verbal.
Perfume blogging has to wait for the fourth type of moment. Well, it doesn't "have to". If I had a job and punched a timecard for this, I could spit out words whether I felt like it or not. But I don't. So I don't.

This is apparently all to explain why that brief run of SOTD posts promptly hiccuped and stopped. Despite having dozens of samples waiting for attention, I'm not in the mood for anything challenging right now.

Instead, lately I'm wearing Thymes Agave Nectar, aka "grapefruit"--I don't know why they bother to claim any other notes for this fragrance. Well, at least in the lotion. The cologne does have a stray spicy note that isn't pure grapefruit, which is why I hesitated to buy it, but this weekend I was out and about and had just bought a lovely length of silk matka that I didn't need, so I rounded off the afternoon by buying a bottle of cologne that I didn't need.

Really, has anyone ever needed either silk matka or cologne? Oh, and I left out the five yards of pale-grass-green bias silk ribbon that I bought to go with the maize-yellow silk in a yet to be determined garment. Silk matka is coarse-woven, fairly heavy and not terribly drapey--not flat-out crisp, but it doesn't have that liquid collapsing thing going like, say, wool crepe does. It would work fine in all sorts of nice fitted garments that I don't yet have the skills to make.

I bought the silk because I love the color and I've been staring at it in the store for months, but I suspect that now that it's joined the stash, it's hearing all sorts of stories about how long it's going to have to wait to become a real garment. Rather like the stories told by the toys in Holly and Ivy, the ones that are waiting and waiting on the toy-store shelves to see if they'll be given to a child for Christmas.

Have you read Holly and Ivy? It's a children's book by Rumer Godden, and I suspect I've mentioned more than once that Rumer Godden's children's books are my favorite books in the world. It's about a little girl who wants a home, and a doll who wants a little girl, and that all sounds horribly sentimental and "awwwwwwww..." but you know I'm not the awww type, right? Trust me and try to read a copy. Except, sadly, the only edition in print is, I believe, missing the Adrienne Adams illustrations, and you really need those illustrations.

It occurs to me that the scene where Ivy (the little girl) falls asleep in the flour sacks against the warm wall of the bakery is not unlike the scene where Alys falls asleeep in the warmly decaying dung heap in Karen Cushman's The Midwife's Apprentice. As you might guess from the phrase "dung heap", The Midwife's Apprentice is a good deal further away from "awwww..." than Holly and Ivy, but they're both about people fighting for a place in the world. Ivy wants love, though she wouldn't put it that way; Alys doesn't know enough to want that.

Interestingly, while I'm not interested in wearing challenging perfume lately, I am interested in sorting and categorizing it. I sent off for a big glob of decanting supplies, including a bunch of baggies, and I just finished sorting my samples into baggies within baggies. (The Serge Lutens baggie shares the larger S->Z baggie with several other baggies, for example.)

And I'm making up perfume samples for friends. Having finally accepted that I may never get over Postal Regulation Phobia, I have increased my efforts to inflict perfume on folks in town. This means smelling some perfumes that I haven't smelled lately.

I've noticed that my tolerance for prickly incense is particularly low right now--for example, I found Chergui and, as previously noted, Tobacco Vanille, quite upalatable. I made the mistake of wearing something incenseish on the back of my neck, and now all of my sweaters need dry cleaning before they stop annoying me. (Neck to sweater to coat to next sweater the next day...argh!) I assume that my taste for this category of notes will return, but right now I can't imagine it.

On the other hand, Yosh Stargazer (the oil; I see that now there's an eau de parfum) made me want to fall over and take a long nap with my nose on my wrist. That was surprising, because there's a very strong clean note, almost soapy, about it. On the other hand, I love the soapy note in Balmain Ivoire, and in the oil version of Jo Malone White Jasmine & Mint, so... hm. I always assume that "soapy" means "white musk", but maybe there's another completely different note that also has the soapy vibe.

That is all.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Rambling: Frying the slow way

I just fried chicken "Mom style" for the first time since Mom died. I've fried plenty of chicken since then, but I always fried it the faster, less greasy, Alton-Brown-inspired way. Tonight I realized around nine o'clock that I had a whole chicken that wanted to be cooked before it expired. The crust of Mom-style chicken is better the next day, and the method works better for bone-in chicken breasts, so I did it that way. I'm eating some, wiping my greasy fingers and typing between bites. And of course, the taste makes me think of Mom.

When I say that Mom didn't love me, I don't mean that she hated me. I mean that she didn't know how. I believe that for her to understand on an emotional level that another person had a mind, and thoughts, and feelings, for her to try to bond with that separate mind and to succeed to any extent, stretched her emotional understanding to its limit. She did that with one person in the world--my brother. I'm proud of her for achieving that. I've accepted--well, sometimes--that to expect her to generalize that, to love even one more person, would be expecting something beyond her ability.

But to the extent that I perceived love from her in childhood, I perceived it most in her fried chicken. And I realize just as I type that last sentence that in a way, this whole bleeping blog is dedicated to fried chicken, and so...

Sigh. There's always one more tether to childhood and your parents, isn't there?

Mom fried chicken for me. She made her spaghetti sauce for my brother. Both appeared with equal frequency on the dinner menu. She always floured and fried the stray little bits of chicken and skin that appeared when she cut up the chicken, and fished them out of the pan along with clumps of fried flour, and let me steal these "crunchies". I ate some of that fried flour before I sat down to chicken on a proper plate. Shatteringly crisp. The taste of greedy childhood.

Chicken skin as love?

So be it.

Image: Mine.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Fiction: Scorched Earth

Image: ZeroOne / / CC By-SA

Trifecta weekend challenge, 33 words

I can't help wanting to explain, before ending your little planet. Breadcrumbs, Fritos, we appreciated them all. How could you know you were consorting with the enemy?

Ducks. Damned ducks.

War is hell.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Perfume: Slacking

I've been slacking on the perfume talk.

In the last few days, I've worn Estee Lauder Azuree, vintage Rochas Femme, Imaginary Authors Bull's Blood, Imaginary Authors l'Orchidee Terrible, and Indult Tihota. And sniffed Estee Lauder Youth Dew.

But I don't seem to be perfume-wordy. I can say that I'm glad that I didn't spend a bazillion dollars on a full bottle of Tihota back when it was available; it turns out that I am indeed disenchanted with it, and find it to be merely Perfectly Nice. And I'm not sorry that I bought a bottle of Azuree. I also bought a bottle of Youth Dew, because... OK, I don't know why. I just did. New, but in the pseudo-vintage blue bottle. I'll babble about both of them one of these days.


See, I'm just posting about perfume because it's been a few days. A few days in which I've been sleeping a lot and eating too much fried chicken. That sounds like I'm depressed, but I think it's just adjustment to winter, because I don't have that "Bleah. Why bother?" feeling. Instead, it's more, "Crispy skin and naps! Yay!"


That is all.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sewing: SWAP Update

So, the SWAP is toddling along.

The six-gore black wool blend skirt (Burda 8973, lengthened, minus lining) is three-quarters assembled. I love the serger--without it, I'd have been sewing seven seams and finishing fourteen raw edges. With it, I used the five-thread safety stitch, knife (gulp) on, and shot through seven seams in less than an hour. Foom!

Well, OK, there was the entire gore that I left out. When I tried the skirt on I thought that I'd re-gained some of the weight I'd lost last year, and put the partially completed skirt away for when I lost it again. Then I sat down to watch TV and wondered what that scrap of black fabric was...oh. So, I had to cut out a seam and add it; luckily the skirt was then loose enough to support the lost seam allowance. (I didn't regain the weight! Yay!) Then I did a dubious job of applying the zipper, but in matte black I think that the flaws will be invisible. Mostly. I wear my shirts untucked anyway. Now it's waiting for a waistband and a hem.

For the hem, I'm going to try a coverstitch, which worked beautifully on the same skirt in black linen. A lighter-weight black linen version of the Princess Frankendress is also waiting for a coverstitched hem. But re-threading the machine for another function requires thinking. So I'm going to stitch up the already-cut grass-green Liberty Shirt (re-threading for another color requires less thought) and anything else that's ready to go, before I do that.

I'll be curious to see how the Princess Frankendress works when worn, though it has construction flaws--the waist ended up being a good deal looser than I intended, and I committed an error in the front placket that makes it lie a little funny. In any case, this isn't The Dress, the tried-and-true make-a-dozen-times dress pattern that I've been working toward. It's a little too much like the dresses that I used to wear in high school. I want something else.

The something else might be Burda 7446, a fitted (princess front; darted back) dress with raglan sleeves and inverted pleats in the back of the skirt and a slightly turtley neck. The turtleneckness won't work for summer, but otherwise I like all of those things. It has shoulder pads, which I don't like at all; I'll need to read up on how to alter the pattern to eliminate them. Assuming that I can. I recently bought a fitted raglan sleeve jacket in a fuzzy slightly stretch wool, and I'd be happy if I can get this dress to fit the same way.

I also made a Mixit Tank; Himself hates it with a fiery passion, but it was a nice experiment in applying bias binding, and I could technically sub it in for one of the SWAP garments. That's very roughly ten percent of the SWAP in very roughly ten percent of the total time. (two weeks out of seventeen.) Yay!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Rambling: Chicken and Snacky Things

Chicken thighs make the best fried chicken skin. Wings are second. The middle sections of wings, the ones with two little bones. It's harder to look civilized while eating the wings. You can nibble around the edges of the two little bones, but it's much more fun to sink your teeth in between them, tear them apart, and then eat the mostly-intact skin.

Lindt dark mint balls, the kind that they only sell at Christmas, are the best chocolate. Himself got me a supply. Himself is very clever.

I've developed a growing fondness for those sesame snap snack things. I just learned that you can buy them online. Of course you can buy them online; you can buy everything online. I just hadn't thought of it. I've also developed the habit of eating them after eating baked chicken from the local grocery deli, while watching the British show My Family. Habits are weird things.

I'm out of turkey. Turkey is an essential component in surviving the sugar-reduction diet. It was a mistake to run out of turkey. It was a further mistake to run out of Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt  has some sugar of its own (well, lactose or something), but you drizzle one little teaspoon of honey into a big bowl of it and stir it around, and it's a lot of sweet taste for not that much sugar.

Of all things sugar that I crave, I miss Mint Milanos the most. Except maybe for Coke-in-glass-bottles. Well, and the pralined pecans they sometimes have at the candy store. And cupcakes from St. Cupcake. I'm also remembering the cake that Gardener Artist brought to the Christmas party. It was a really, really, extraordinarily, oh-my-God, good cake. We ate all the leftovers. It's gone now. I miss it.

Oh, and Julie's ice cream bars. The vanilla with dark chocolate. Ooooooh.






I can have an ice cream bar! Bwahahahahahaha!


OK, this round of the low-sugar diet seems to be wearing on me a little more than the first round. You may have noticed.

Now I'm going to go shake the refrigerator and demand that it produce turkey.

SOTD: Estee Lauder Jasmine White Moss

I wore a bottle!

That sounds weird. But you know what I mean, right? I actually sprayed on a scent from a bottle that I own, instead of wearing a sample. After two fuzzy-powdery "meh" scents, I wanted to wear something I know I like. And I do. Jasmine White Moss gets ladylike, sweet, sour, floral, green, and affable all in perfect balance.

OK, that's all. There might be more babbling later.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Image: By Poco a poco. Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

SOTD: Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille

Hmm. Looks like this is another expensive perfume that I don't need to own.

I remember it as pipe-smokier, smoother, more liquid and silky. When I wore it today it was fuzzy powdery tobacco-spice cookie. Meh.

That is all.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

SOTD: Love By Kilian


A while ago I wrote a post, Delicious Blandness, about my enjoyment of certain bland flavors. It was mostly about the the chicken that I used to get at Szechuan Garden in Mountain View, pounded-flat chicken with no noticeable flavor other than that of a thick coating of seasame seeds, deep-fried very pale golden brown. Yum. Luckily, I seem to be able to duplicate it at home; it's that simple.

Some perfumes have a similar satisfying blandness. Douce Amere. Boss Woman, of all things. Lann-Ael. Feminite du Bois, when it's in a pencil mood, though not when it's in a spicy mood.

Love By Kilian ought to be one of those perfumes. Luca Turin compares it to meringues and gives it four stars. The Non-Blonde compares it to marshmallows.  People get nostalgia, innocence, deliciously resiny caramel, all sorts of delightful things from this.

I get fruity pink powder. Not deliciously bland, just bland.


Well, if I'm going to be unimpressed by a perfume, it's just as well that it's one of the expensive ones.

Review Roundup: Basenotes and MakeupAlley and The Non-Blonde and Olfactoria's Travels and Scent of the Day and The Scented Salamander.

Image: By Young. Wikimedia Commons

Monday, January 7, 2013

Books: My eyes are bigger than my...eyes.

My book plate is overfull. Right now, I'm partway through:

The Table Comes First, by Adam Gopnik
Pirate King, by Laurie R King
Ghost Walk, by Marianne MacDonald (Finished! Around 1/13)
A Death in Summer, by Benjamin Black
Winter of Discontent, by Jeanne M. Dams
Escaping into the Open, by Elizabeth Berg
Write Away, by Elizabeth George
A Charitable Body, by Robert Barnard
Cool, Calm & Contentious, by Merrill Markoe
The Chicken Chronicles, by Alice Walker
What the Dead Know, by Laura Lippman
What the Dog Saw, by Malcolm Gladwell
Angry Housewives Eating Bonbons, by Lorna Ladvik (Finished! Around 1/17.)

Well, that's just alarming. I didn't know, when I started the list, how long it would be. Odds are that I've forgotten some, too.

I think that this explains why joining 100+ challenges hampers my reading--I feel pressure to finish the book not too long after I started it. And it doesn't count if I don't finish it in the year that I started it. So I'm declaring my own 100+: My goal is to finish 100+ books this year, irrespective of when I started them. If I continue that from year to year, then it really doesn't matter when I started them.

That's the plan. I should probably go read something now.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

SOTD: A Shalimar novice's impressions

Is it weird that I feel that I can't just say "Shalimar"? I feel the need to clarify the strength and vintage. I'm new to this classic; this is the third variant that I've tried in the past few weeks, or the fourth, if you count the Parfum Initial.

I felt that the current EDP had perceptible flaws. Not that I know Shalimar at all well, but if that EDP is the perfume, I'm not going to be a fan. It was quiet and rather dreary, the citrus and vanilla showing up for work but without any enthusiasm. The burned rubber was there, but it was in a bad mood.

A sample-sized decant of the vintage EDT, on the other hand, had sparkling citrus sometimes lifting up the flowers, sometimes good-naturedly wrestling with leather and rubber, with a velvety fog of vanilla mellowing it all. This was, I must admit, all on fabric--I was headed for a no-fresh-perfume social occasion. I'll try it properly on skin, but I think I'm going to want more.

Today I wore a couple of drops of the non-vintage extrait, and I can't make up my mind. It's neither dreary or sparkling; it's closer to a comfort scent than a bombshell perfume. I was planning to buy a half-ounce new bottle; now I'm not so sure.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

SOTD: Dawn Spencer Hurwitz Mirabella

I bought this blind. And I'm glad I did. On principle, this was the wrong thing to do; I bought it because I read rhapsodic reviews, and it was gone and then was back, but only temporarily. In other words, it was an uninformed panic buy.

In practice, after wearing it, I'm not even a little bit sorry. I need to wear it again to find the right language to describe it. It's dark, but in the sense of dim lights and deep textures, rather than moody or threatening. Dark. Layered. There's sweetness but it's not a sweet perfume. That's all I've got right now.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Sewing: SWAP 2013

It's SWAP time again!

This year's Sewing With A Plan contest on Stitcher's Guild requires two coordinating "capsules" of clothes, each of them containing either three tops and two bottoms, or two tops, one bottom, and one dress. Plus a "bridging" garment that links the two capsules.

I normally join the SWAP, babble a little, and then drop the whole thing on the floor. When I started typing this, I mistyped the site's name as "Stitcher's Guilt"--apparently I'm feeling bad about not finishing my SWAPs.

But here I go again. The above rules require nine to eleven garments, depending on how you use the dress option. One garment can exist before the SWAP. So that means that I need to sew at least eight garments before the end of April, to finish a SWAP for the very first time. Will I make it? Suspense!

I'm going with maximum predictability. I've already made four Liberty Shirts, so I have that pattern down. I've made two of that Burda six-gore skirt, so that's pretty reliable too. I have a lot of linen and a little wool that's been waiting to be made up in those patterns. And I would be perfectly happy to own a closet full of them. So the lowest-ambition SWAP for me would be:

First Capsule:
  • Liberty shirt: Yam-colored medium-weight linen
  • Liberty shirt: Grass green medium-to-light-weight linen
  • Gored skirt: Chocolate medium-to-heavy-weight linen
  • Gored skirt: Brown-sugar-colored lightweight glossy linen, plus lining.
  • Tank or, if there's enough, Liberty Shirt: Same linen.
Second Capsule:
  • Liberty Shirt: White medium-to-light-weight linen
  • Liberty Shirt: Black wool blend
  • Gored skirt: Black wool blend
  • Liberty Shirt: Black linen (preexisting)
  • Gored skirt: Small-scale black and white houndstooth.
Bridging Garment: 
  • I have absolutely no clue.
This still isn't totally predictable. I'm not quite sure that the brown-sugar linen is going to work for that skirt; it may be both too lightweight and too crisp, and therefore may crumple like tissue paper. And I'm not sure about an Asian shape like the Liberty Shirt in a houndstooth pattern. But the yam, green, and white shirts, and the chocolate and black skirts, are perfectly straightforward, so that's weeks of sewing before I need to think about the less certain garments.

And two of them are cut! I cut out the green shirt and black skirt before I even remembered the existence of the SWAP. And the Serger of Majesty and Wonder should make the skirt, in particular, far easier than it would have been on the regular sewing machine.

So it could happen. This year. Really. Maybe. It's not completely inconceivable.

Are you sewing? For winter? For summer? For crafts? Needlepoint? Tell!

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

SOTD: 28 La Pausa

Smells like Chanel.

No, that's not a review. But that was my first thought when I applied this, this morning. And all day, when I caught those now-and-then whiffs.

What makes Chanel smell like Chanel? I need to think about that.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year's Two of Two: Light and Fluffy

New Year's!

Have I ever actually carried out my New Year's resolutions? I doubt it. But here we go anyway. What do I want to change? More importantly, what might I actually change?

Pefume: Remember the collection. So, I read perfume blogs and forums. I learn about new and exciting fragrances. I buy samples. I wear the samples. Occasionally I blog about them. Occasionally I buy a bottle. Then I read perfume blogs and forums... lather, rinse, blah.

Do you see any place in here where I actually wear the perfume in the bottles? No, you don't. Worse than that, there are many days where I don't wear perfume at all (gasp!), because I put off applying perfume until I have time to choose a sample.

The resolution is to wear perfume from my bottles more often. I wasn't sure how to make that happen, until I chose the following weird strategy:  If I haven't chosen a scent in the first half hour of the day, then after I put the electric toothbrush back on its little charger I'll apply whatever's next in the alphabet, based on the names of full-bottle or large-decant scents in the collection. Whee! That means that tomorrow's candidate is 28 La Pausa.

Perfume: Evangelize. OK, this is cheating; it's just casting something that I'm already doing as a resolution. See, I want more perfume freaks. Especially in town. I'm already inflicting little baggies of samples and decants on friends; I'm going to keep it up.

I might even (gulp) work on resolving that Postal Regulation Phobia and start swapping. Basenotes had a recent thread on the exact regulations that gave me some hope that I might be able to do this legally, so, well, maybe. It could happen. You'll all send me perfume in jail, right?

Perfume: Squelch the hoarder within. I was pretty good at this for a while--there are dozens of dozens of bottles that I'd like to have, that I restrained myself from. But as the IFRA cliff approaches (OK, I guess it's not a cliff with a specific date, but there's certainly a steep slope there, with lots of sharp rocks), I sometimes fear that we're seeing the last couple of years of decent perfume, and that adds energy to the craving to buy.

But how to suppress that energy? One possible compromise would be to make a 10ml decant the default "buy" action, rather than an actual bottle. The danger of that is the thought of, hey! what about all those coffrets? That way I could get my bitty dribble of perfume in a manufacturer's bottle! And then we're into money again.

There's also the worry that decant bottles might allow the perfume to decay faster than a manufacturer's bottle, but does that make any sense? I doubt that Tommy Girl, at (lemme check...) twenty-two dollars for a one ounce bottle, is in a museum-archival-quality vessel. Any opinions here?

Diet: Evict sugar (again.) I did a pretty decent job of cutting milk and sugar last year, and lost enough weight to wear new clothes sizes. I fell off the sugar wagon over Christmas; I'll be back on it starting this coming Saturday. (Start a diet at the same time that I go back to work? Very funny.) "The sugar wagon" means cutting most sugar and sugary foods, most dairy products other than butter, and most white starches. Specific scheduled treats are then added back in. Large quantities of turkey are consumed. Efforts are made to increase vegetable consumption. No effort whatsoever is made to reduce fat consumption; that may happen when the sugar wagon is reliably on the track.

Writing: Keep writing. I write, and stop, and write some more, and stop. I want to form a reliable habit, ideally one that grows over time, ideally one that includes some fiction writing, but first let's start with the habit. Three hundred words three times a week, on any topic (a blog post counts) seems like a nice, very modest, start.

Sewing/Wardrobe: Press stuff. That is, once a week, press all the self-sewn clothes that came out of the laundry that week. This sounds like a trivial, itty-bitty resolution, but if I don't press on the weekend, I'm just going to wear jeans and tee shirts all week. And if I don't wear my spiffy sewn clothes, I won't be motivated to sew more of them.

Sewing/Wardrobe: Make a dress TnT. Fitting and perfecting one Tried-and-True dress pattern in a year doesn't sound like much, until you consider that I've been trying to get that done for much of this year, and have failed. I want some bleeping dresses.

Life: Worry less. I used to think that the solution to worry was about reducing caffeine and gulping milk and gobbling turkey. But I'm realizing that when my worries call, I run after them and pat their little teeth-gnashing heads and ask them how they're doing, a lifetime habit that I think I can...well, not break altogether, but reduce. I'm hoping that a worry snubbed is a worry reduced.

Appearance: Care about it. As described often in this blog, for example in On Perfume and Being a Girl, I've always had a rather conflicted view about dressing and ornamenting myself. I still roll up my jeans hems rather than hemming them, and wear Merrells rather than girl shoes (even sometimes with skirts), and rarely wear jewelry.

I'm going to work on this; I'm thinking maybe A Touch A Month. I'll take January credit for buying skirt-to-pants girl shoes, hem all my jeans in February, and so on.

That's nine resolutions. That should be more than enough for anyone, right?

Excuse me while I eat some more sugar before it's too late.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

New Year's One of Two: Heavy and Bitter

So it was a weird year. Mom died, and that changed more things than I would have expected.

I mourn the chunk of life that Mom was cheated of, the ten or twenty more years that she had every reason to expect. I wish that she'd had the chance to live those years and to take from them whatever joy she was capable of.

But from a purely selfish point of view, I've learned that mourning what's lost is easier than mourning what can't be attained. A mother that didn't love me is a less upsetting fact than a mother that doesn't love me today and won't love me tomorrow. I suspect that I've done a good deal less crying over Mom since she died than I did in any of the last several years of her life.

Sometimes it feels as if I've spent all my life explaining things to Mom, explanations that she was determined not to hear but that she never stopped demanding. Trying to explain, trying to help, trying to connect, trying to communicate. Mom never discouraged me from trying--it seemed that she wanted me to try, and try, and try, to keep pouring myself into a bottomless vessel. But she was never going to give back, not even to the extent of understanding the explanation or accepting the help. It's as if she not only needed me to try, but also to fail, utterly, in every effort.

I wish that Mom could have those years. But there's a relief in no longer failing. Now that I know that that path is closed forever, I can walk another way.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.