my occasional musings on life, love, art, perfume ... what else is there?


Who ARE You?*

A couple of weeks ago, I read this on a message board I frequent and it stuck with me:

"This is cyberspace - there are no identities -there are keystrokes -and this is not my real life, nor is it anyone else's - (unless they have no real life). Nothing can happen HERE that affects me, or my real life - *member's name* is only a created identity - that I could kill off tomorrow and nothing in my life would have changed."

That board is a wonderful place that I have really enjoyed. I made what I think are authentic friends there ... and the people I have come to know are truthful with me, I think, as I am with them -- about who we are and why we're there.

Maybe it's the nature of the board -- it's about perfume rather than sex, for instance (yes, yes there could be a philosophical discussion here but let's not) -- but I choose to believe that most of the people there are real about themselves. There's a lot of warm exchange between these people, and I think it goes past keystrokes and created identities. In fact, that idea kind of hurt me AND creeped me out.

That you can put on and take off who you are in cyberspace. And that there's no cost to that, emotional or otherwise.

I don't believe it. I think we carry our humanity wherever we go, and that we can form real relationships here that can have breath and tangibility IRL. I know this is true.

We carry the usual human responsibilities (compassion, tolerance) with us into cyberspace relationships. (And I'm not just talking about the various act of kindness packages I owe, owe, owe my dearest cyberfriends.)

*"ooh, ooh; ooh, ooh" from The Who, CSI themesong. There, Jim.

Today's fragrance: L'Occitane Eau des 4 Reines. The perfume's story is as good as the scent: named for the four king-marrying daughters of the Count of Forcalquier, thus the perfume of the Four Queens and their favorite roses, Grasse, Turkish, Bulgarian and Moroccan. It's a rich rose, uncomplicated by other notes, very easy to wear. Reminiscent of Keiko Mecheri Damascena.


Saturday Ennui

But the Coco Mademoiselle is very, very nice.


Dorothy Parker 1893 - 1967

  • "If all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn't be a bit surprised."
  • "I'd like to have money. And I'd like to be a good writer. These two can come together, and I hope they will, but if that's too adorable, I'd rather have money."
  • "I know that there are things that never have been funny, and never will be. And I know that ridicule may be a shield, but it is not a weapon."
  • "I wish I could drink like a lady / I can take one or two at the most / Three and I'm under the table / Four and I'm under the host"

Today's fragrance: Chanel Coco Mademoiselle with notes of bergamot and orange, a heart of rose and jasmine, and basenotes of woody vetiver, patchouli, vanilla and white musk. I don't mind the citrusy green opening, but I'm sure I'll like it even more as it develops. I'm not ordinarily a fan of vetiver; that should be interesting.

Petals & Beans

More hormonal stream of consciousness, sitting here in my flying pig pajama bottoms and my Perfect Pooch Academy (dial 1-800-GOOD-DOG) t-shirt, drinking another cup of Jim's excellent coffee and watching CNN out of the corner of my eye. What makes me sad is seeing London police in checkered hats and civilized black and white, as if they're off to their office jobs, carrying automatic weapons. Also not very happy about amount and types of Republican legislation that have recently made it through. Noted, however, that Frist apparently has broken lockstep with Bush about stemcells. Heh. Must go back and read that. Also have Atlantic Monthly article to read on psychology of suicide terrorism. Must not forget self-imposed moratorium on political blogging. Is not entertaining, except to me. Sometimes. Bucky has had another breakthrough: I got a tail wag this morning. He is not a morning dog and usually all I get is the eyes briefly opening before he resumes morning nap. Must do something about quality of skincare. How can one have acne at this advanced age? At least I'm not drying up. Heh. Think I will explore Decleor line of aromaessences and balms. Oh yes, another place to spend hundreds of dollars. Like that is going to happen. Must finish transcript and bill today. That will cheer me up. Actually I am pretty darn cheerful. Had wonderful dream about petals and beans. Something to do with flowers and alternative protein sources. Oh. Maybe coffee beans. Hm. Also have been looking at fall clothes. First time in nearly five years that I might need something other than new sweats. Kind of exciting. Fun to look at Blogdorf Goodman (link at right) because she has amazing taste and would be a wonderful stylist. Wish she would be my stylist. She should start a consultancy. Hope you're reading, A. In other blog-related activity, made olive salad for tonight's muffalettas (I lead such a sheltered life ... am I the only one astonished by the fact that Eighteen Dollars Was Spent on Green and Kalamata olives? Did they have to pay union wages for the emergency harvesting of said olives? Eighteen Dollars!) and stirred a bit of the salad into creamcheese mashed potatoes last night (which kind of works against the new fall clothes concept). As Lex Culinaria (link at right) blog promised, it was AMAZING. Where does she come up with these ideas? And in today's scent report: remnants of last night's Lady Evangeline wafting up. Today's fragrance, however, will be Balmain's Vent Vert (new formulation) with notes of greens, orange blossom, lemon, lime, basil, rose, galbanum, lily of the valley, freesia, hyacinth, tagetes, ylang-ylang, violet, oakmoss, sandalwood, sage, iris, amber, and musk. According to NowSmellThis (link at right), new formulation is actually preferable to old in lack of bitterness. I have only smelled dupe of original and it was pretty darn bitter. But this Vent Vert is green, green, green and I like it. There's the subject of a blog for someone more knowledgeable than me: which new formulations are actually superior to the originals? *blasphemy!* Addendum: additional information about skin care brand cited by N: CdP is Cle de Peau ... which may be even more likely to change my life than Decleor (interestingly, both brands are owned by Shiseido which is also affiliated with Serge Lutens. I sense a global conspiracy). Why should I possess these life changing products, Bela? Because I'm Worth It! LOLOLOLOL


I Love the Malevolent Mouse

Today's fragrance: Christian Dior's Dioressence with notes of violet, rosebud, geranium, cinnamon, patchouli ... they went for the sweetness in this one, but I really like it anyway. It's an oriental that -- so far -- is softpedaling all that makes it oriental. Bet I'll like it even more as the day progresses and it drills down into basenotes. "Drills down." All us perfume fans use oil industry terminology. heh.


A Few of My Favorite Views

Last night, the strongest memory came to me, of a house I lived in when I was thirteen, a farmhouse that lasted long enough to finally be located within a small Indiana town.

I was the only one in the family to live in the oldest part of the house, dating from the Civil War. And I dearly loved that room, one of my favorite rooms in my whole life -- because of its sharp eaves, and because of the dormer window that looked out on a tree-shaded street. The room itself was always a bit dark, so the window and its view became a painting at its far end, illuminated by the street even at night.

Other views I've known and loved:

My dorm window at Michigan. East Quad. My experience of the brick, quasi-Gothic architecture favored by American colleges struggling toward Ivy status. Square panes side by side by side, mullions I think they're called. And this window was deep enough to serve as a seat, so I could rest there and read, looking down onto a snow-covered street.

From there, a long wait until my next favorite window. A big bedroom window of an apartment on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle -- with a majestic view of Elliott Bay, the granary terminal, the ferry sliding by on the hour. I truly believed I had arrived -- my first apartment, my first real job, my first real view.

Ah, things change and so does the view. It's telling that I did not have one favorite window during half my twenties, all of my thirties, into my forties. That's a long time.

My next favorite wouldn't be until I divorced in my forties -- and found an apartment in Seattle's Madison Park, on Lake Washington. Again, mullioned windows and this time quasi-Georgian architecture. This time, a huge lake with its floating bridge outside my window. I was close enough to the shore that storms would blow lakespray up onto my windows. Those storms provided my favorite views -- choppy water and high winds perfectly suited my mood.

Unexpectedly, another view: this one from an upstairs bedroom window in which I could lie in bed and look up into trees. A brief interlude, a sweet time in which I watched trees in deep green turn red to gold, go bare and become pale green again. That time is forever in my mind.

Today, my favorite view is not a window. Through a dark hallway, I see a beautifully backlit stained glass window designed for me ... a fleur-de-lis motif. Open that door and all is green ivy against a brickred shed. Sometimes a blooming bleeding-heart. Sometimes rain dripping off skyblue hydrangea.

If other views have been snowy or stormy, this one is peaceful. I'm grateful ... but have no doubt the view will change again. (That stained glass comes with me.)

Today's fragrance: Serge Lutens' Douce Amere, "Softly bitter" with the predominant anise scent in the top absinthe note; other notes are sharply sweet cinnamon, buttery sweet tiare and bittersweet tagette (French marigold). A poignant fragrance; scent for the shadow of a remembered love.


All Along the Watchtower

"There must be some way out of here," said the joker to the thief,
"There's too much confusion, I can't get no relief.
Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth,
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth."

"No reason to get excited," the thief, he kindly spoke,
"There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke.
But you and I, we've been through that, and this is not our fate,
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late."

All along the watchtower, princes kept the view
While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too.

Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl,
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.
"All Along the Watchtower" Bob Dylan

I'm really not the scripture-citing type, but it is said that Dylan found inspiration for this song in the book of Isaiah 21:8-9 ... I'll leave it to you to find and decipher the scripture.

What I think, is that Dylan was saying about Vietnam what a lot of us are thinking about Iraq ... with a sidenote about there being some sort of biblically apocalyptic punishment for nations who attempt to empire-build for their own enrichment.

Today's fragrance: Shaal Nur by Etro with notes of lemon, bergamot, grapefruit, mandarin, rosewood, coriander. Mid-notes of thyme, tarragon, rosemary, karo karounde, rose, petit-grain. Base notes of nutmeg, patchouli, vetiver, cedar wood, opoponax, incense and musk. Although it lacks the requisite oakmoss, I wonder if this can still qualify as a fresh chypre, with its introductory citrus notes and its herb/spice/woodsiness. *Edit* per Victoria, it is not a chypre without the oakmoss ... it must be the incense that deepens and sharpens it for me. It's beautiful, even on this sunny day (I'd alway worn in it in cold, wet winter).


Every Single Moment ...

Last night we watched -- my third, Jim's must-be tenth time -- a favorite movie,American Beauty. I'm sure everyone who intends to see it has already seen it ... and I hate writing plot synopses, so I'm not going to.

But I did pull some of the movie's best quotes off the internet and here I provide them to you, completely out of context. T
hey still have wonderful meaning:

"And that's the day I knew there was this entire life behind things, and... this incredibly benevolent force, that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid, ever ..."

"Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world I feel like I can't take it, like my heart's going to cave in."

"I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me ... but it's hard to stay mad when there's so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much. My heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst ...

And then I remember ... to relax, and not try to hold on to it. And then it flows through me like rain. And I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life ...

You have no idea what I'm talking about, I'm sure. Don't worry ... you will someday."

Today's fragrance continues All Chypres, All the Time Week: Coriandre by Jean Couturier. Notes of this beautifully jarring fragrance include coriander, orange blossom, angelica, rose, geranium, lily, jasmine, sandalwood, vetiver, musk, oakmoss, patchouli. Everything I like, with a twist of the underlying oakmoss. I feel dangerous. *later* In drydown, Coriandre is distinctly reminiscent of Frederic Malle's Une Rose, another favorite. (And Coriandre is approximately one-tenth the price of Une Rose. heh.) *EDIT* Unfortunately, I was wrong. In a hand-to-hand noseoff, there is significant difference between Coriandre and Une Rose. What they may share is a geranium note ... but that's not enough to make them sisters. *SECOND EDIT* But Wait! I'll be darned. In drydown, they become similar again! Try it in your own home!



In case you were thinking you'd dash out to your natural food store this afternoon, pick up some inexpensive oils and whip up a lovely perfume to wear tonight ... think again.

It's a fantasy among some perfumistas that "I, Too, Can Create A Perfume." Really, it's not likely. Two scentists with whom I correspond have disabused me of the notion that it's easy -- or inexpensive.

For instance, I currently am wearing two rose chypre perfumes, one on each hand ...

[A definition of chypre from perfumersworld: Chypre represents a perfume structure where fresh notes, (principally citrus) are combined with oakmoss and usually the rich woody-animalic characters of labdanum and patchouli. In modern chypres the fresh notes may be modified or even replaced with fruity or green combinations. Frequently chypres display a leather character and many men's fragrances are based on the basic chypre structure. The archetype of this comes from Chypre by Coty (almost 100 years ago) and modern examples are Miss Dior and Aramis.]

It's astonishing to me that each of these two versions of rose chypre comprise seventeen different oils (including the wildly expensive rose absolute). The only difference is that one utilizes a synthetic element among its other oils, the other not. It's also incredible how vastly different these fragrances are, just from the use of one synthetic in one, and not the other.

The non-synthetic version has an initial blast of citrus ... while, oddly to me, the version utilizing a synthetic is much softer, with the moss more predominant initially.

Description will vary between noses: C, the perfume's creator, agrees that the non-synthetic's initial scent is bitter citrus, while she feels the synthetic has sweet rather than the soft green topnotes I perceive.

I know from yesterday's test that each of the perfumes will reverse their sweetness in midnote and dry down to a soft, spicy rose. The one differing element seems not to matter as much the longer the scent is on the skin.

All this is interesting to me, but most interesting is how much time and work has gone into these two small vials I have in front of me. Before I received these to test, C had gone through at least five, maybe ten other blend versions -- all rejected for various reasons.

And scent isn't the only consideration. There's the time the fragrance lasts -- and whether it remains true to definition through its evolution on the skin.

And this is before base oils are mixed with alcohol to make an actual parfum. Once this happens, the parfum begins a journey into sometimes maniacal change for the next three to four weeks ... and will this still be the happy result anticipated by the perfumer?

So much work. So I'm pretty respectful of these two small vials and the person who created what's in them. Pretty sure I couldn't do it. And glad that C can, and did.

Today's fragrance: Clearing's Rose Chypre, two versions. Opening with bitter citrus softening to sweet green; drydown is spicy rose. Yes, these are surprising transitions ... but they are a lot smoother than words convey. You get the sense that all players are present from the beginning, and that they're playing well, and quietly, together. First a not-acidic unconventional citrus (not orange) slowing moving into green soft moss and just as slowly and softly moving into a spiciness with an (now this IS surprising) element of rose. The blend works, even if I can't adequately describe it.


Dog Menopause

I'm pretty sure Bucky has entered menopause. Yes, I know he's an 110 lb. eight year-old neutered male Groenendahl shepherd/Labrador retriever mix. I don't care. He's got at least six of the symptoms.

1) Major irritability. I had the temerity to place a 24-pack of coke down on the kitchen floor near where he was having his mid-afternoon nap. First one eye opens, balefully regarding me tearing the top off the coke box ... then, in a huff, he pulls his big body off the floor in a flounce and moves rapidly to nose open the backdoor, whereupon he exits. Um, sorry I woke you up, big guy.

2) Hot flashes and night sweats. He starts out sleeping on the floor beside my side of the bed, under the window, but before long the panting starts. He moves to the opposite side of the bed. Then the panting starts. He moves himself out to the tiled kitchen floor where it's cooler. Peace at last.

3) Revived interest in the opposite sex. Or the same sex, he doesn't care. But prone to making unfortunate choices. (Ok, I read about this symptom in a book.) I think the little vignettes Jim brings home from the dogpark say it all. An example: J. comes in, tosses down the leash and says, "Well, it wasn't too bad this time." "Too bad?" "He only humped one little pug. Who collapsed under his weight."

4) Requires massive reassurance about attractiveness. I mean, in addition to the dogs at the dogpark, he wants US to tell him what a hunk he is. Also that his butt is not too big.

5) Lack of interest in family activities. Apathy. Simply, we bore him. Unless we have salmon. (This is different with women. With women, interest can be stimulated by waving a credit card in front of them. With men, as Laura noted, you must take them to a sales lot featuring Corvette convertibles.)

6) Malevolence. Often sits there, looking into space with vacantly murderous look on face. Like he wants something to kill, but is unsure of specific target.

Come on, look at this list and tell me it's not menopause.

Today's fragrance: beginning with the faint, faint honey, rose and clove of Perlier the Musk ... later: Clearing's Rose Chypres!


Insomnia and Where It Can Lead

Consumer warning: This is a dull post. If I were you, I'd skip it and go straight down to Today's fragrance. You'll find more real content in that.

Here at Chez Chic, it's apparently Walt Disney Week, when insomnia can lead you to looking up Snow White on Wikipedia where you learn ...

"There are numerous popular ideas as to the presence of occult significance or symbolism within the movie, Snow White, mostly centered around the Dwarves themselves.

"For example, one theory holds that the seven dwarves correspond to the seven chakras, and that Snow White represents consciousness moving through them.

"Other ideas are less philosophically complex, such as correspondences to the altered states of consciousness inherent in the use of certain drugs.

"In one theory, Snow White is cocaine, which causes exhaustion (Sleepy, Dopey), mood swings (Happy/Grumpy), allergies (Sneezy) and alteration of personality (Bashful)."

Insomnia can lead you to google-images looking for the Sleepy Dwarf, to see if he really looks like a drug addict.

It can lead you to the medicine cabinet where you ferret out a couple of tablets of diepenhydramine (that's perfectly legal over-the-counter benadryl, she said defensively) just so you can get the image of Sleepy Dwarf snorting an illicit substance out of your brain.

It can lead you to thinking: Ick. Is nothing sacred?

Today's fragrance: Sarah Jessica Parker's Lovely via Cynthia's patented YakMail. "It made me love it, I didn't want to do it, I didn't want to do it." It's very pretty, darn it. Notes of lavender, orchid and amber mingle with apple martini (!), paper whites and musk. Ok, what my limited nose can discern are lavender, amber and musk. And, again, it's very VERY pretty. Thank you, C.
In drydown, Lovely becomes a very soft Sung Sha with an undernote of amber.



Afterword re curiosity about the anger. As I explained to my friend keeter: "truthfully, what set me off was the typical scenario of a bunch of us turning 'I'm more cultured than thou' and piling criticism -- like fragrant but bullying linebackers -- on a blogger and blogging. All of a sudden I'm deeply identifying with the whole concept of blogging and populist culture and, and, and ...Like all my fits of anger, it can be seen as funny when it's over. But what isn't funny is the bullying I see on the board. When somebody gets a wild hair and takes off after somebody is the worst example of subversive female anger. I don't want to be part of that."

I have been seething for nearly three days ... the twisted part about anger for women is that we have been schooled to believe it is so unseemly, so wrong -- anger is not pretty, it's not delicate, it's not nice.

And I have a hideous temper that I have been encouraged to disguise since I was -- well, since I was.

The flipside of disguising anger, repressing anger, though, is depression. Shove that fury down far enough, long enough and it turns on you. I had so much experience with schooling myself to not feel anger, I have been to the point of not feeling anything. Anger, frightening as it is, is preferable.

Anger's trigger is rarely its root cause. The trigger this time is my perception that someone attempted to diminish me. Note I said "perception." Because what one feels in anger is rarely anyone's objective reality.

In truth, this person doesn't know me well enough to diminish me -- but my emotional antibodies, my psychological immune system took that germ of a thought -- "this person is dissing me" -- and mounted a defense worthy of fighting the plague.

And I have carried the angry infection around for three days. THREE DAYS.

My anger can be majestic. And I think I hold onto it because, in a perverse way, I like it. It gives me false power, it substantiates me, it makes me feel like I take up more space.

My ex-husband -- veteran of true psychoanalysis (and marriage to me) -- has deep awareness, and he described his anger as a lover -- he could feel her approaching, she was seductive, he always had a hard time choosing against her.

But, much as I might welcome the splendor of this seductive illusion, I need to select away from it, move past it. Because I do understand its shaky foundation:

Fear. I am afraid. What I am afraid of is undoubtedly connected to feeling powerless, not being substantive enough, feeling my life is not yet taking up enough space.

This fear is connected to my work product, to my creative product, to my relationships, to my existence ... which, with every day, is a day less.

I spent some time in therapy repeating, "I'm not going to have enough time. I'm not going to have enough time."

And I don't increase the time I have by spending it in anger.

Today's fragrance: Bandit by Robert Piguet (a deep bow to L and to C) with its notes of leather, wood and spice, jasmine and carnation on a base of vetiver, patchouli and musk. I am the type that sits there tapping toes as the leather blooms, saying "when's the jasmine? when's the carnation?" Well, the florals get there, and it's an arresting (Bandit, get it?) combination with the harder-edge leather/woods. I think the vetiver gives drydown an edginess. Not a relaxing fragrance. But not one I need to make a quick getaway from.


What Janey Said

In continuation of the post Populist Culture? Or It's Just A Blog? I'm printing a comment from Janey of Janey's Journey (link right), who drew/inked/painted the illustration above ...

I print this not just because she agrees with me but because what she says about her art is what I feel about my writing:

I think blogging has much in common with the beginning of the printing press. That event took books and information out of the hands of the rich and gave them to the world. Blogs range from a joy to read (like this - no blushing allowed) to absolute you know what. The range is as disparate as the people who blog.

Blogging for me is very much connected to my art. I wouldn’t be doing what I am now if it weren’t for blogging. I had so much lack of confidence that I hadn’t picked up a pen in 20 years.

Very few people can exist in a vacuum. For me blogging burst that bubble of isolation and gave me an immediate connection. I look at the outsider artists of the past and I marvel at their tenacity. They drew because they had no choice. It didn’t matter that no one saw their work until years after their death.

I wasn’t able to do that. I needed it to be seen. I needed to be able to talk to the world and this is my way to do it. Like Emily D – my letter to the world that never wrote to me.

“Nabobs” who look down at blogging are showing their fear. They are the past, this is the present. Blogging isn’t the future, it’s now.

Today's fragrance: Tiptoeing Through the Chambers of the Moon by Pilar and Lucy with notes of amber and tuberose. A bit sultry with the warmth of the amber and the whiteflower heat of tuberose, it's warming up this sunny but cool Seattle day.


Life's Pattern

In a corner of my garden... once overgrown profusion of green:
spade-shaped leaves, an ivy guarded by thorns.

I never walked too close, afraid
of tendrils capturing my ankle,
dragging me into itself –
then, never free, lost in that barbed lattice.

Strange plant.
On occasion, and only at night,
it burst into bloom.

Waxy, white petals,
surrounding a flower cup,
gleaming in the dark.

Each floral chalice
holding drops of fluid,
heavy with unbearably sweet, hot scent.

For a season, this plant tangled around my heart.
And then, within life’s pattern,
died back.

I work in my garden,
potting and pulling spent flowers off vines.
Glancing at times
to where that plant thrived.

Nothing grew there.
Until today.
Today's fragrance: Chris Sheldrake's magic in Serge Lutens' Datura Noir. The fragrance's garden of notes includes chinese osmanthus, heliotrope, mandarin, lemon flower and tuberose. Vanilla is almost instantly evident, with a lighter touch of coconut oil; on me, the apricot doesn't show. Myrrh, bitter almond, tonka bean and musk ground it, making it the preferable female, rather than girlishly feminine, scent.


Populist Culture? Or It's Just A Blog?

This morning I slogged through an article in the New Yorker ["The Missing Madonna" by Calvin Tomkins] about the above painting, an early Renaissance “Madonna and Child” by Duccio di Buoninsegna (circa 1300).

As I read about this painting, recently purchased by The Metropolitan Museum of Art for between forty-five and fifty million dollars, I chanced upon a paragraph that neatly addressed my point of pique this morning: the disparagement of blogs by those who reserve their intellect for higher (or no) writing pursuits.

According to Keith Christiansen, the Met's Jayne Wrightsman Curator of European Paintings, “'[This painting is part of] the whole revolution in expression that takes place in the late thirteenth century and early fourteenth century—the revolution which, of course, has as its real figurehead neither Duccio nor Giotto but Dante.

"'Dante is an absolute contemporary of Giotto, and a near-contemporary of Duccio … [and] … the fact that Dante chose to write in the vernacular, in Italian rather than Latin, is one of the turning points of the West.

this is precisely what these artists were about as well—finding a vernacular as opposed to an intentionally élitist, anti-popular form of painting ...'"

... in order to meet other humans in situ ... and evoke response from them where they exist, since most humans are unlikely to seek out culture in more rarified environments.

This idea of bringing paintings ... or music ... or writing ... to the people, then, is not so new. And blogs are merely the most recent incarnation of carting culture to the people. In this case, via Internet.

It isn't all Duccio, as you will be quick to point out. But bloggers, consciously and unconsciously, are communicating a broad range of culture, within a populist venue that today is where one is most likely to connect with other humans. And, as populist culture, it can have a veracity, a validity that may be overlooked if one looks only for "real art" (what is that?) in stereotypic media.

Today's fragrance: the very low-brow Tipton Charles Sandalwood with top notes of jasmine, lime, rose, clove; middle notes of pine needle, heliotrope, lavender; basenotes of musk, vanilla and sandalwood. An unpretentious, yet oddly satisfying little fragrance. *sniff*


Other Times, Other Lives

My belief in prior lives is a source of entertainment for some of my friends, and a source of chills-up-the-spine for others. My strong sense is that I have lived at least two other times:

A life in a medieval court, probably as a low-level noblewoman.

And I know I lived during World War II, a Jew rounded up for transport, and that I died suffocated in a boxcar, en route to a camp.

[I've also been told I was once a queen in Egypt. That one I have a hard time swallowing. (Stop grinning. It's not polite.) I had been told about that one when I consulted a channeler. I do believe she found her way to some other plane -- I felt the entities she was channeling -- I just couldn't believe what they were telling me.]

And what's the point? Validation of a sort, I suppose. Within an absolute faith that I have no real concept of what God is doing, and why, I believe life cycles upward.

We choose each of our lives before we enter them, for the lessons we're hopeful of learning. Evolutionary lessons ... and, ideally, we operate on sequentially higher levels as we advance through each of our lives.

Here you have the reason for straightening up and flying right: you can pay now or you can pay later, but you do pay. Not through consignment to hell, but by being held at a particular level of mortality until you get it.

Either learn the lessons you were intended to learn in this life, or look forward to repeating your mistakes and learning from them in the next. Your choice.

Not to say I haven't made mistakes, of free volition, because I wanted to, or couldn't resist, or rationalized it well, or was too weak or tired or angry.

But I do know what the results will be. I fail to learn the lesson, the soul suffers ...

and the lesson will be waiting for me next time.**

Today's Fragrance: L'Artisan's Voleur de Roses "Rose Thief." A sharp rose, nearly astringent. Notes of plum, patchouli and rose energize rather than comfort. I love it for its invigorating strangeness.

*the photo caption is absolutely tongue in cheek.

**Yes, Shirley McLaine has a much-guffawed-about philosophy involving reincarnation. Hey, all roads to eternity must cross at some point.


Love Is Not All

Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
And rise and sink and rise and sink again;
Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath,
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;

Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.

It well may be that in a difficult hour,
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,
Or nagged by want of past resolution's power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.

It well may be. I do not think I would.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Today's fragrance: Cabaret by Gres because as I'm fond of saying repeatedly, it makes me into a one-woman party. The brightest, sparkling almost citrusy rose.


Just When You Thought I Had Some Depth

Woke up to the remnants of Lea St. Barth, a fragrance confection of musc, vanilla and almond ... am now sitting in pink nightgown at new computer keyboard (new because last night I bathed old one in diet Coke and it could not take joke) thinking dark thoughts about Karl Rove (note to self: you must get past this). These thoughts are joined by other dark thoughts about need to diet. Must interrupt dark thoughts to go put on sweats and get coffee.
I'm back. Put on more Lea. Now have coffeecup in hand. Take time out to send snarky email reply. Somewhat satisfying. Still, would like a small, cute puppy to kick. Have lots of work. That's good. Get to see Keeter tomorrow. That's good. Jim just turned on FOXnews "just for the weather, just for the weather" but they're blathering on about Harry Potter. I read the first book, saw the movies. They're ok but not life-changing. What is the big deal? Jim walks by with his bowl of oatmeal. Cinnamon. Lots of cinnamon. Why does he use so much cinnamon? Well, it IS his bowl of oatmeal. Bucky has been in an exceptionally good mood lately. Must get to bottom of that. OMG, just looked over at FOXnews on TV, their weatherperson is dressed up as a Hogwarts witch. Oh, for God's sake. Hang on, hang on, Jim can't stand this for long. Surely he will change to CNN any minute. Oh, Karl says Robert Novak told him. Makes perfect sense why the Prince of Darkness cut an early deal with the prosecutor. Doesn't matter, Rove should still be fired and/or lose his security clearance. And be guillotined. OH NO, Jim changed channel to CNN and they are doing rags-to-riches bio of J.K. Rowling. I give up.


Two Minutes for the United Kingdom

During 9/11 and after, Britain stood with us.

Today they observed -- with Germany, France and Italy -- a two minute silence in commemoration of last week's bombing dead.

Since our country did not see fit to join in that commemoration, I ask that you take two minutes today to think of those that died, and the many ways Britain has been a good friend to us.

Jaded Heart

Travels with my shrink ...

...The time I got mad at him for keeping me waiting and I put all his magazines, in alphabetical order, deep under the waiting room couch.

... I generously offered free criticism of his office artwork ... his haircut ... his tie ... his socks.

... I occasionally indulged in self-diagnosis, having got hold of a Merck manual and a copy of DSM-IV. I basically just needed his help with the Rx.

What I'm meditating about tonight, though, is the jade heart.

For seven years, D. was literally The Man in My Life. Never mind he was gay, absolutely out of bounds and otherwise different from me in every way.

In psychotherapy, there is a phenomenon called transference. When achieved, all emotion associated with various relationships is loaded onto your therapist ... and then you deal with conflicts associated with those love objects through him. In your mind, he becomes the one you fear, the one you hate, the one you resent, the one you love.

During this high emotion, you say and feel and imagine every possible facet of human behavior ... but you don't do things. For instance, you must not murder your stepfather and you must not give gifts to your psychiatrist.

Tangibility bothered D. The safe place for therapy to occur is in the abstract -- do whatever you want there, but don't bring it any closer to the real world where things get dangerous.

I broke that no-gift rule: I brought flowers, little treasures to eat, books -- and one time I brought a jade heart.

A heart of jade, more than three inches wide -- so heavy, and it barely fit in the palm of my hand as I extended it to him.

He gave me the usual "you know you're not supposed to do this" therapeutic dirty look as he hefted it. And then he said, "Well, let's talk about it."

"Is your heart jaded?"

And so it went for the rest of the hour.

Five minutes before it was time to go, we had the discussion of why I should take the jade heart home. But this time, he was a bit milder about it. I think he, as much as I, liked the symbolism of holding my heart in his hands.

It's been years. But he still has my heart.

Today's fragrance: from Holly, the retro-fragrance queen: "Launched by the design house of Leonard in 1977, Tamango by Leonard is classified as a flowery fragrance. This feminine scent posesses a blend of floral bouquet, moss and sandalwood." The moss and sandalwood become very apparent, very quick. Interesting.


Mostly I Hate It When We Have These Little Talks

I always know I'm in for a good time when Jim takes me by the wrist, says "Come here. I want to talk to you." And drags me over to the sofa, where he sits me down, puts his arm around me and proceeds to lecture.

"Your writing means a million dollars to me. When you've done something creative, you have a sense of satisfaction that stays with you the whole day. You're happy. Not angry. Not sad."

But aren't my political posts creative?


Today's second fragrance: Yosh Han's Ginger Ciao 2.27 with notes of black coconut, night queen, tiger lily, neroli, ylang ylang, ginger, basil. It's a dark, totally non-beachy scent with a nice spiced herb undertone. I only like two coconut scents: this one and Pilar and Lucy's The Exact Friction of Stars. (There's a great name for you, Janey.)

Nothing is Amiss. The Architect is Innocent. And Yet ... the Structural Engineer Seems Concerned

Kenneth B. Mehlman, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, former deputy assistant to the president and director of political affairs. "The structural engineer who turns the plans into reality."

Update from the Washington Post:

"The emerging GOP strategy -- devised by [Ken] Mehlman [Rove protege] and other Rove loyalists outside of the White House -- is to try to undermine those Democrats calling for Rove's ouster, play down Rove's role and wait for President Bush's forthcoming Supreme Court selection to drown out the controversy [about whether a CIA agent was outed in retaliation for her husband's highly verbal assertions that the premises on which the nation was to go to war -- presence of WMD -- were flawed, dubious, WRONG], according to several high-level Republicans."

Look for this strategy on your TV soon!

Today's fragrance because I feel very Audrey (having accessorized my black sweats with a single strand of pearls): Divine by Yvon Mouchel. Notes are peach, coriander, gardenia, Indian tuberose, May rose, oak moss, musk, vanilla, spice. It's TOO SWEET. I have big hopes for the emergence of the coriander and oak moss to tone down this tooth-aching SWEETNESS. You know I'm not sweet.


The Architect and the Covert CIA Operative

My feelings about Karl Rove, deputy White House Chief of Staff, largely credited as architect of the reelection of President Bush?

He is a Cromwellian behind-the-scene king maker, a Machiavellian nasty-maker.

He probably had a hand in the SwiftBoat character assassination of John Kerry and he is currently suspected of leaking a covert CIA officer's identity as a means of retaliation against her husband, a former ambassador who actively voiced doubt about the existence of weapons of mass destruction before the second Iraq war.

Mr. Rove has strong feelings about the patriotism of liberals: "Rove ... told a gathering of the New York Conservative Party that 'Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers.' ” (MSNBC)

But now Mr. Rove's own patriotism is under a bright, white light: "For two years, the White House has insisted that presidential adviser Karl Rove had nothing to do with the leak of a CIA officer's identity. And President Bush said the leaker would be fired. But Bush's spokesman wouldn't repeat any of those assertions Monday in the face of Rove's own lawyer saying his client spoke with at least one reporter about Valerie Plame's role at the CIA before she was identified in a newspaper column." (CNN)

"White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove spoke with at least one reporter about Valerie Plame's role at the CIA before she was identified as a covert agent in a newspaper column two years ago, but Rove's lawyer said yesterday that his client did not identify her by name." (Washington Post)

So the defense of the White House Deputy Chief of Staff, largely credited for President Bush's reelection ... when accused of something that most conservatives would declaim as an act against the nation's interest ... a man who has recently accused liberals of providing aid and comfort to the enemy ... would be that he apparently just said a covert operative worked for the CIA and she was Ambassador Wilson's wife: "I didn't actually say her name."

You'll notice nowhere above was the word treason mentioned. I'm not Ann Coulter, after all.

Today's fragrance: Tranquility by Sonoma Scent Studio. My review, which i publish at every possible opportunity: Incense lovers, I am a convert: Tranquility is haunting .. this is a beautifully done incense and amber blend that is much different than I expected. Somehow it has a lighter texture, a contrasting airiness as if you're just catching wisps of scent as they rise from the incense stick. A pale, delicate incense. I like this a lot. And even more so when a surprising orange blossom note appears at drydown.


A Word about Wind to the Wise

Just when I have a boatload of work and nothing witty to say,
Ruth saves me.

"When Dvorah was about 4, I found her standing in front of the
open front door, all her clothing piled at her feet, facing away from
the door.

Me: 'What are you doing?'

D: 'Just getting some wind in my butt.'

The more I think about it, the more I believe perhaps we could all
use a little wind in our butts."

Today's fragrance: Stella McCartney's Stella Intense ... notes of rose, peony, 'a touch of tangerine' and my favorite amber. It's bright and feminine and calm, somehow. Nothing screaming here. But it is very much present. You can't marginalize her, even if she's not shouting. "She's got everything she needs/ she's an artist/ she don't look back" (Dylan)


As Perfume Doth Remain ...

As perfume doth remain
In the folds where it hath lain,
So the thought of you, remaining
Deeply folded in my brain,
Will not leave me; all things leave me:
You remain.

Arthur Symons (1865-1945)

Today's fragrance: Serge Lutens Sa Majeste la Rose with its notes of white rose, chamomile, lichee, geranium, Moroccan rose, gaiac wood, clove, white honey and vanilla. Initially the herbal rose of high summer, a spiced sweetness emerges much later. Long, long -- if faint -- drydown of pale honeyed vanilla.


Le Freak! C'est Chic!

Aaahh Freak out!
Le Freak, C'est Chic
Freak out!
Aaahh Freak out!
Le Freak, C'est Chic
Freak out!
Aaahh Freak out!
Le Freak, C'est Chic
Freak out!
Aaahh Freak out!
Le Freak, C'est Chic
Freak out!

All that pressure got you down
Has your head spinning all around
Feel the rhythm, check the ride
Come on along and have a real good time
Like the days of stopping at the Savoy
Now we freak, oh what a joy
Just come on down, two fifty four
Find a spot out on the floor

Now Freak!
I said Freak!
Now Freak!

After today's little homage to disco, the fragrance is Matthew Williamson by Matthew Williamson (merci, J).

Notes include: bergamot, lime, neroli, tagete, ginger and cinnamon oils, a warm sand accord and schinus molle (?!). Midnotes are jasmine sambac, orris concrete, ylang ylang java oil, magnolia flower oil, rose, gardenia and living heliotrope. Base: labdanum resin, sandalwood oil, vanilla, olibanum resin, benzoin resin, patchouli heart and sensual musk.
Is there anything that hasn't been included? Bueller? Anyone?

I don't care what the cognoscenti say, I like it. Reminds of Vivienne Westwood Boudoir.

You know what would be really cool? If y'all (hardly ever say that, heh) would talk about your wildest disco experiences in the comments. Come on, you know you want to. *Remember Pier 70?*

Now Freak!

addendum: you can put the collagen and the botox into the girl, but you can't take the girl out of her designated age group. I just read the above request for wild disco experiences, and read the comments ("huh?") and fully realized that most of you have never been in a disco. So never mind. [but thank you to UrbanChick for validation. heh.]


The Path of the Night

Nul ne peut atteindre l'aube sans passer par le chemin de la nuit.
One may not reach the dawn save by the path of the night.
Khalil Gibran

The western world woke up this morning with another grief hangover. Unlike our counterparts in the mideast or Africa, massive violent human death isn't a daily occurrence for us.

And maybe this is the lesson ... a taste of what benumbs our brothers and sisters in Iraq or Israel or Darfur.

A reminder that shredded human flesh causes pain -- that a war a half world away costs pain.

A reminder that we inflict pain every day, our armed forces suffer every day, the people who get in the way are not just "collateral damage."

A reminder to politicians and the people who pay them that none of this is free. Even when it's not in our faces, or blood dripping down our own faces, the cost of human conflict is tremendous.

I despise cowards who ignite bombs in crowded places. And I don't think their tactics work. They greatly underestimate human revulsion for this type of brutal gesture, and the way that revulsion erodes sympathy for their cause.

You may have generated a nihilistic reminder of the human cost of war ... but don't believe for a minute that it helps your cause. In the words of Christopher Hitchens (thank you, UrbanChick), "We shall track down those responsible. States that shelter them will know no peace. Communities that shelter them do not take forever to discover their mistake. And their sordid love of death is as nothing compared to our love of London, which we will defend as always, and which will survive this with ease."

I also think we need somehow to find another way, a path other than that we're currently following, in the mideast. Obviously what we've done so far isn't working.

addendum: please check out Seldom Nice Nowadays today (link right)
Today's fragrance: Yosh Omniscent 0.96 with notes of gardenia, Egyptian tuberose, fig, lilac, violet, kush, Tunisian opium, vanilla, sandalwood, basil, clove, geranium, pink grapefruit. So far, I'm getting smoky gardenia. I like it. Hope the opium kicks in. Like, is that transdermal dosing or what?


Thoughts and Prayers for My Friends in London

the protector, a symbol of strength and vigilance.

Please read today's post on Slap of the Day (link right)

How Do You Solve A Problem Like The Buckster?

sung to the tune of "How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria" from The Sound of Music
Many a thing you know you'd like to tell him
Many a thing he ought to understand

But how do you make him stay
And listen to all you say
How do you keep a wave upon the sand?

Oh, how do you solve a problem like the Buckster?
How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?

When I'm with him I'm confused
Out of focus and bemused
And I never know exactly where I stand

Unpredictable as weather
He's as flighty as a feather
He's a darling! He's a demon! He's a lamb!

He'd outpester any pest
Drive a hornet from its nest
He could throw a whirling dervish out of whirl

He is gentle! He is wild!He's a riddle! He's a child!
He's a headache! He's an angel!

He's a DOGGGGG!!!! *

*Point taken from Barbara: this time around he merely inhabits a dog's skin.
Today's fragrance: Burberry Brit: spice, amber, almonds, vanilla.


PMS Reverie: I Dream of Karl Rove ...

Once again I find myself on the edge of tears because there's dust on my keyboard. And I just marched right over to the neighbors across the street to commiserate with their dogs who were howling. I know how they feel. They don't get enough attention. Nobody does. This is a sad, sad world. I crave ramen salad. You know the salty noodle salad you make with cabbage and iceberg lettuce, almonds, chicken. It's kind of sweet and sour. And I'll chase it with a big cadbury chocolate bar. Wait, there's potato chips in the house ... I'll eat those, too. And I've been meaning to make those marble cupcakes, with orange and chocolate. Yeah. Don't look at me like that. And what I really want is substantive, prosecutable evidence that Karl Rove outed Valerie Plame. THAT would make me feel better. Maybe. And I have a headache. And I feel kind of waterlogged. And ... why are you looking at me like that, dammit! And I hate my clothes. I need some new clothes. And none of my perfumes smell good. Except Calandre. It smells ok. Kind of. Maybe I should order a bunch of samples. And I can't concentrate. And there's a bump on my chin. Damn bump. I'm not feeling pretty. Do you think I'm feminine? And I'm way behind with my work. Because I spend too much time on the internet. And no one understands the real me. And I STILL don't know who the real me is.

This is your mind.
This is your mind on estrogen.

And this is what PMS is like. For four whole days now. Send prayers and good thoughts for those who live with me. Jim and Bucky have the phone lines open.

Today's fragrance (one must soldier on and clearing and thalia have shown me the way): "Change your scent every spring with Escada's annual limited edition seasonal scent, designed to complement its current spring-summer couture collection. The 2000 edition is Lily Chic, a crisp floral harmony. The opening accord is bright with citrus fruits, while fragrant lilies envelop the heart with a burst of brilliance. Lovely for après-spa, weekend escapes, and flirty summer dresses. " © Uh huh. Uh huh.


In My Life

There are places I’ll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain

All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life
I’ve loved them all

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new

Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life
I love you more

Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life
I love you more

In my life
I love you more


Today's fragrance: Calandre by Paco Rabanne. Mysterious metallic non-sweet floral that dries down to a soft powder. The one I've emptied the most bottles of. In My Life.


Independence Day 2005

O say, does that star-spangled
banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free
and the home of the brave?
Today's fragrance: in tribute to the melting pot of America and out of necessity since I'm sorting samples ... I'm wearing too many to count. From Keiko Mecheri to Montale, from Serge Lutens to Creed and Crown, I smell good, even if I can't tell you from what.
Have a Happy 4th of July, everybody.


A Message for My (Younger) Sisters

This is awkward and I'm not sure I can say it right.

I was a rebellious adolescent ... and evolved into a somewhat iconoclastic adult. I've always resented and refused to accept the patronizing, the condescending, the "I know what's best for you," the "voice of maturity," whenever I heard it.

I try hard to remain open in my thinking, resilient in my reasoning, accepting of the new, the untried, the adventurous, the novel.

The fact remains, however, that I am 54. I have lived *gasp* a half century and I've seen a lot.

Today I'm fortunate to know a number of young women that I greatly admire -- for their style, their accomplishments, their spirit, their courage, the way they shoulder many and heavy responsibilities.

So it's awkward for me to step up on any kind of soapbox. But I want to warn these young women that I admire so much.

More than thirty years ago, brave women, courageous like you are, stepped up and loudly questioned why the state had the right to refuse a woman the health care of her choice. They asked why in some cases an adult woman had to have her husband's, or even father's, permission to obtain certain types of health care. They showed pictures of women dead in pools of their own blood, dead from desperate self- or criminally- administered abortions.

This is a morally-loaded issue and you may say: I don't behave that way. I will never find myself pregnant and alone, or perhaps in a dangerously abusive relationship, emotionally unstable, perhaps physically ill and unable to care for a child. I will never become pregnant from a rape. I will never become pregnant with a child with defects so severe s/he will be unable to live a full, healthy life.

You may choose to say all life is sacred and I will never have an abortion.

Just know that other women have said that ... before they were faced with horrible circumstances and made a terrible choice they said they would never make. And have compassion, because most, consciously or unconsciously, live in torment from it.

But they live. They now have children that they were able to bring into the world, into good solid environments. They have children they look at, and love, in remembrance of the shadow child they gave up. They're alive because they had the choice.

And more than thirty years ago, it wasn't just about reproductive rights. These women stood up and asked "Why can't we work, if we have the skills?" "Why can't we make a decent living, if we work hard and have the skills?" "We want to help our husbands, share the burden of support for our children -- why should men carry this alone?"

These women were disparaged. As the suffragettes who had met hostility, in the early years of the century when they fought for accessible birth control and women's right to vote, so did these women. There were shouted remarks about bra burners, women-libbers, insinuations about whether they were "real" women, accusations that they were trying to emasculate, divest men of their own rights. There was a lot of ugliness that surrounded these women who stood up and tried to ask why. And the ugliness wasn't just from some men; some women shouted and accused.

But the women who stood up for these health and economic choices -- as did the ones who got us contraception and the vote -- gutted it out and made progress. And it eventually seeped into the consciousness of most American women, that they should be able to make choices for themselves. That they should be able to take responsibility for their own bodies, their own decisions. That they should be able to work, and earn as much as anyone else with the same skills.

But these advances are not permanent and irrevocable.

Even though we're not in Iran, and are not being overtly threatened as women there are -- with a new theocratic president who believes that ankles must once again be covered, the veil must again come down -- we face our own potential return to a near-medieval era.

My warning? Don't be complacent. Don't be comfortable. Don't believe the soothing balm of "Nothing is going to change."

Don't let anything be taken away from you that took other women more than a century to earn.

Today's fragrance: MAC MV3, for its amber-sandalwood-vanilla comfort. Today's book recommendation: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. Today's film recommendation (thank you, NST): Vera Drake.


This is Nicky. My Friend Thalia Belongs to Him.

Plus je vois l'homme,
plus j'aime mon chien

The more I see of humans,
the more I love my dog

Today's Fragrance: Clearing's Warm Vetiver ... on me, bitter at outset, with an initial high note of citrus. The mid-range is woodsmoky, drying down to rich incense. A contradiction: an ancient scent that feels somehow modern, with the barest hint of green. Very, very complicated. And lovely.


Today Is Jean Shrimpton Day

~For Campaspe and Annie~

The Princess and the Paradigm

An exchange yesterday in chez chic, as we listened to trumpet-heavy classical music:

Me: "I love this triumphant music. Makes me think of ornate royalty, the Sun King, his processional into the throne room. And I, of course, will play the King."
Jim: "Oh? Why the King? Why not a Queen? Wouldn't you like to say, 'Let them eat cake'?"
Me: "Marie Antoinette? Well, you know how she ended up."
Jim: "Well she would have ended up that way anyway."
Me: "Yeah? What do you mean?"
Jim: "Dead."

Today is July 1, birthday of Diana, Princess of Wales, who died in a car crash in 1997. Today I wake up early, and out of my benadryl stupor I sense vague unsettlement -- and I'm pinning it on her.

My question -- related to her, her death, and my unsettlement: how much room to move is any woman given? How far dare we stray off the what's-expected-of-us path before certain punishment ensues?

This iconic woman represented a paradigm ... (here, let me get the definition for you:

EXAMPLE, PATTERN; an outstandingly clear or typical example or archetype [archetype: in the psychology of C. G. Jung, an inherited idea derived from the experience of the race and present in the unconscious of the individual])

... and it is as paradigm that she disturbs me.

Now wikipedia helps me out: "From the time of her engagement to the Prince of Wales in 1981 until her death in a car accident in 1997, Diana was arguably the most famous woman in the world, the pre-eminent female celebrity of her generation: a fashion icon, an ideal of feminine beauty, admired and emulated for her high-profile involvement in AIDS issues and the international campaign against landmines. During her lifetime, she was often referred to as the most photographed person in the world. To her admirers, Diana, Princess of Wales was a role model — after her death, there were even calls for her to be nominated for sainthood — while her detractors saw her life as a cautionary tale."

Icon, ideal, role model, saint ... cautionary tale.

Why cautionary tale? Because although a princess (archaic definition: a woman having sovereign power), being a woman seems always to trump sovereign power.

And in Diana's case, although she initially toed the line -- virgin princess elect and royal breeder -- when she figured out the game wasn't working for her and tried to mold her world to suit her, punishment was relatively swift and irrevocably severe.

Would it have been any different for a man? Could a man step outside his accepted role and live to tell the tale? Well, Prince Charles remains.

Is it because he is a royal, or because he is a man? You tell me. And I'm betting the vote splits 52/48, the approximate ratio of women to men in the world.

Today's fragrance in her honor: Hermes 24, Faubourg: Bergamot, Orange, Peach, Hyacinth, Tiare flower, Orange flower, Jasmine, Orris, Sandal, Patchouli, Amber, Vanilla. Most of the time my chemistry cuts through sweetness; I'm hopeful this will dry down to a pastel amber.