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


Saint Brendan's Prayer

"Oh God, this sea is very big and my boat is very small!"

St Brendan the Navigator, an Irish saint who reputedly crossed the Atlantic in a small boat made of cowhide.

The Perils of Lemmingdom

Besides being the little creatures that toss themselves off a cliff just for the togetherness of it all, lemmings are also fragrances so desired by the perfumista that she would toss herself off the cliff in pursuit of it.

Not that I personally have ever been involved in this.

Today's fragrance: and erstwhile lemming, Miller et Bertaux Spiritus/Land with notes of sandalwood, tobacco and spices, ginger and rose. Incensey to me, with a smoky floral sense to it. Dark cathedral feel to it.


Oh, New Orleans

Sitting here watching the heartbreaking events in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, you can't help but think Why them? Most of the ones hurt so badly are already so poor. How can you possibly prepare for anything like that? And what if it happens here?

When the levees were breached, that had to be the worst. And now the coverage addresses that this had been warned against. As with so many parts of this country's disintegrating infrastructure, funds were probably diverted to frivolities like public education or health, which are already seriously underfunded.

Because people don't want to pay taxes "for big government." Who they nevertheless must look to when something this devastating happens.

In Seattle, the big fear is earthquake. On my desktop right now is my list for an "earthquake preparedness kit" which I periodically look at and forget.

And what happens if the Alaskan Way viaduct -- a cracking near-death structure that is both highway and bridge, one of two arterials that are the main ways into and out of the city -- what happens if that crumbles into the Sound? We've been warned against that, too. But don't want to pay the taxes to repair it.

Americans have a true love/hate relationship with their government. Don't want to pay taxes ... for schools, or roads, or headstart early education or ... fill in the blank.

But what happens when disaster strikes?

Mid-Course Career Correction

Today's fragrance: so far, some whiffs of last night's People of the Labyrinths layered over Lea St. Barth. Softly vanilla-y, almondish, cherry liqueur. Oddly calming. Nicely disguises that prehistoric wolf scent. *Hear that, Bucky?*


I'm Not The Manolo but ...

A pair of ruby slippers is somewhere over the rainbow.

The slippers, reported stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, were one of four remaining pairs worn by Garland during the filming of "The Wizard of Oz.''

On loan to the museum from Hollywood memorabilia collector Michael Shaw for the summer, the slippers disappeared from a locked display case. The museum had insured the slippers for one million dollars; its executive director, John Kelsch, says he's devastated.

All right, Wicked Witch of the West *and you know who you are* Cough them up.

Associated Press

Today's fragrance: Guerlain's romantic L'Heure Bleue with its top notes of bergamot, lemon, coriander, neroli; midnotes of bulgarian rose, iris, heliotrope, jasmine, ylang-ylang, orchid; base notes of vanilla, sandalwood, musk, vetiver, benzoin. A dreamy cure for complications of the heart.

Happy Birthday dddragon ...

... of Is Anything Truly Random (link right) ... with best wishes for a wonderful day, from ellierim danae pez!

55 Days

The following is the complete text of an editorial from today's New York Times ... and spare me any talk of the "liberal media" because the irony is that Ms. Miller may well be protecting an administration source that should be revealed as the individual who revealed the identity of a covert CIA operative.
But this is not the way to get this information. Not in this country. We don't jail individuals for something like this in our country. Honest to God, with all we've seen in the past five years under this administration, if statues could cry, Lady Liberty would be sobbing.

Free Judy Miller
The New York Times reporter Judith Miller has now been in jail longer for refusing to testify than any reporter working for a newspaper in America. It is a very long time for her, for her newspaper and for the media. And with each dismal milestone, it becomes more apparent that having her in jail is an embarrassment to a country that is supposed to be revered around the world for its freedoms, especially its First Amendment that provides freedom of the press. Ms. Miller, who went to jail rather than testify in an investigation into the disclosure of an undercover agent's identity, has been in a Virginia jail 55 days as of today.

Last week a Paris-based journalists' organization called Reporters Without Borders sent around an impressive petition in support of Ms. Miller. It was signed by prominent European writers, journalists and thinkers including Günter Grass, Bernard-Henri Lévy, the French philosopher, and Pedro Almodóvar, the Spanish filmmaker. The text should be required reading for the judge, the prosecutor and the White House. "At a time when the most extremist ideas are gaining ground, and when growing numbers of reporters are being killed or taken hostage, arresting a journalist in a democratic country is more than a crime: it's a miscarriage of justice," they wrote.

That was only the latest of the petitions in support of Ms. Miller that have been pouring in from Americans like Bob Dole, the former Senate majority leader, and people outside the United States. In one particularly poignant case, reporters in Pakistan - Pakistan, mind you - took time out from their own battles to send messages of support.

It's time for the authorities who jailed Ms. Miller to recognize that continued incarceration is not going to sway a reporter who believes she is making a principled sacrifice. As Jack Nelson, a veteran journalist for The Los Angeles Times, wrote recently: "Without leaks, without anonymity for some sources, a free press loses its ability to act as a check and a balance against the power of government." He cited Watergate, Iran-contra and President Bill Clinton's lies about Monica Lewinsky. If Judith Miller loses this fight, we all lose. This is not about Judith Miller or The Times or the outing of one C.I.A. agent. The jailing of this reporter is about the ability of a free press in America to do its job.


"... A Feather on the Breath of God"

Some of the most haunting music I've ever heard can be found on 11,000 Virgins: Chants for the Feast of St. Ursula, music of Hildegard von Bingen by the a cappella group, Anonymous 4. I had earlier appreciated The Origin of Fire: Music and Visions of Hildegard von Bingen and was interested enough to learn more about the mystic medieval religieuse ...

Hildegard von Bingen, born the tenth child in a family of Germanic nobles in the 12th century, was sent to a convent at the age of eight as a tithe to the Church. She was placed in the care of Jutta, the convent's popular Mother Superior and, upon Jutta's death in 1136, was chosen Superior of that community.

From young girlhood, Hildegard claimed to have visions. She was said to have received a prophetic call from God in 1141, demanding of her, "Write what you see." Her initial vision was thought to have given her instant understanding of the meaning of the religious texts and God had commanded her to write down everything she would observe in her visions. Yet Hildegard hesitated to act.

Not an impassioned firebrand like Saint Joan (Hildegard's life and visions, occurring nearly two centuries before Joan of Arc, and widely honored by her contemporaries, are a fascinating counterpoint to the martyred Joan),
Hildegard wanted her visions sanctioned by the Catholic Church.

She wrote to St. Bernard of Clairvaux, who brought them to the attention of Pope Eugenius (1145-53). The Pope created a commission which ultimately declared her to be a genuine mystic and not insane. With papal imprimatur, Hildegard was able to finish her first visionary work Scivias ("Know the Ways of the Lord").

Recent scholarly interest in women in the medieval church has led to a popularization of Hildegard -- particularly of her music. Approximately eighty compositions survive, a far larger repertoire than almost any other medieval composer. She also wrote scientific and medical works.

Her vivid description of physical sensations accompanying her visions have been diagnosed by neurologists (including neurologist-author Oliver Sacks) as migraine symptoms; others see in them merely colorful illustrations of prevailing church doctrine, which she supported, rather than actual visions.

Hildegard's writings are also unique for their candid, fairly positive view of sex, and they may include the first description of the female orgasm.

"When a woman is making love with a man, a sense of heat in her brain, which brings with it sensual delight, communicates the taste of that delight during the act and summons forth the emission of the man's seed. And when the seed has fallen into its place, that vehement heat descending from her brain draws the seed to itself and holds it, and soon the woman's sexual organs contract, and all the parts that are ready to open up during the time of menstruation now close, in the same way as a strong man can hold something enclosed in his fist."

With my closed-minded, obviously wrong, misconceptions about the cloistered life, this is quite the -- um -- startling paragraph. But it's lovely, isn't it?

A powerful woman for medieval times, Hildegard communicated with Popes, statesmen, emperors and heads of monasteries, who asked her for prayers and for her opinion on various matters. She traveled widely, giving public speeches, a rarity for a woman of the time.

Her last years were very productive, as she expanded upon her theology of microcosm and macrocosm, with man being the ultimate outcome of God's creation, man as a mirror through which the splendor of God was reflected.

Hildegard was one of the first saints for which the canonization process was officially applied, but she ultimately earned her sainthood as a result of the long-standing devotion of the people, without the formal canonization process, at the end of the sixteenth century. Her feast day is September 17.

source material: wikipedia


TransPacific Flight, 1956

How much can a five year old remember?

I remember the stewardess in her blue suit, hat and heels walking down the aisle, reaching over my father to offer me the white square of gum, explaining I was supposed to chew it as the plane climbed into the air.

I remember the terrifying sound of the engines, and looking out the cabin window to see the props start up and soon whir so fast I couldn't see them anymore. I remember grabbing Daddy's hand when the noise got so loud, I was afraid the plane would explode. Then the plane's slow walk, then race down the runway. The lurch of liftoff.

Initial fascination as I watched the ground fly down and away, things growing smaller and smaller until they were patchwork and then the plane facing out over a vast blanket of blue, the Pacific.

The hours of tedium, after the excitement of getting my own flight bag, and slippers, and wings. The steady drone and sleeping, sleeping. Waking to eat and walk down the narrow aisle with my mother to the tiny bathroom. The coloring book and crayons. Packing everything back into my blue bag and sleeping some more.

Eventually landing in Honolulu. Groggy, so tired. But I remember the scent of the leis that greeters draped over me, and even over my two year old brother. Maybe some hours of sleep, I don't remember.

Then another plane. And another landing, at Midway. Or was it Wake? Maybe Guam. The plane puddle jumped across the Pacific.

I don't remember climbing into the last plane for the final flight into Manila, I was so anesthetized with fatigue. But I remember being carried off the plane when we landed at Clark Field, into that hot, sweaty night, into that strange place -- the Philippines -- my new home.

This happened forty-nine years ago.

If There's Anyone You Want Standing Over Your Cold, Dead Body ...


And there's a Labor Day CSI Marathon on Spike TV!


Today's fragrance: let's see, what goes with corpses ... I'd have to say Estee Lauder Beyond Paradise. If you weren't dead before, you'll wish you were. If you are dead now, this is strong enough to compete with the stench.

Long Ago, In a Land Far Away ...

This is the castle Neuschwanstein in south Bavaria. Built by King Ludwig (sometimes known as Mad Ludwig, maybe for his crazy architectural ideas?).

It's comparatively young (19th century) and is supposedly the model for Disney's Sleeping Beauty Castle. It has a fascinating history, of which I remember almost nothing.

All I remember is an unexpectedly cold, barren interior, with tapestries on the walls. I remember one in particular, faded red, depicting scenes from Wagnerian opera.

And I remember, "Entschuldigen Sie, bitte. Wo ist das badezimmer? Schnell?"

It's beautiful, though, from a distance. Like so many things.


Into the Valley ...

... of the hormonally challenged.

I have already dissolved into tears once today, over the morning news ... wrote an ill-advised blogpost about the Jets-and-Sharkery of perfume review (don't ask) (things that seem funny after two muscle relaxants do not seem all that funny when they wear off) ...

After diligently eating vegetables and lean protein, and being a solid two-week member of my dog Bucky's Walk It Off Plan, I now want to sit in my sweats -- for days, if possible -- eating Cadbury fruit and nut chocolate bars (the big ones, please. thank you) and watching Lifetime television. In the dark.

*snarl* *PLEASE GIVE ME THE REMOTE* *curls back up in fetal position*

Today's fragrance: Against all odds, Cabaret by Gres. I am not my customary one-woman party, however.


Khalil Gibran on Love

For love is sufficient unto love.

When you love you should not say,
"God is in my heart,"
but rather, "I am in the heart of God."

And think not you can direct the course of love,
for love, if it finds you worthy,
directs your course.

Love has no other desire but to fulfil itself.

But if you love and must needs have desires,
let these be your desires:

To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.

To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

tile mosaic: Mihrab, Isfahan Iran collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
thank you, Laura


Now where were we? Ahh yes, it's morning once again at
M Manor and we find ourselves running a bit dry on the creative concepts front.

Want to do a post on the Eight Warning Signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder but must take time to do it properly. Note to self: dig out DSM-IV and Merck Manual for source material. hmmmm.

It's August 25 -- oh wait. *pads off to get coffee* *pads back*

Ok, it's August 25 and will be 85 degrees in Seattle today. Nice. So why am I yearning for Halloween? Maybe because I am part-witch? (Actual statement made by my mother, who took my semi-psychic abilities seriously. Of course, she believed I inherited tendency from grandmother. Not her. Heh.)

Friend K-girl -- Her Royal Rotundity, her Majestic Gourdliness, the Great Pumpkin** herself -- is already planning perfume gift exchange with other fragrance friends.

Also friend Liz -- who loves Halloween so much she celebrates her birthday then, never mind what the real day is -- is already planning this year's party. Must think of costume. May go as Red Riding Hood with Bucky as The Wolf. Jim has agreed to be Tree In Forest. Refused role of Grandmother. Not as enthusiastic as one might wish. edit: when offered Kate's suggestion of The Woodcutter, accepted with alacrity. Much more MachoSexual, I think.

Additional note to self: research historical background of Halloween.

Anyway, must deal with personal bratlike tendencies to shove away Duties That Must Be Done. Need to buckle down. Counting today, only seven days of summer left. September is my official start of autumn.

Time Flies. Whoooooooosh.

Today's fragrance: Yosh Whiteflowers 1.41 with notes of jasmine sambac, night blooming jasmine, violet, sweet pea, freesia, tea rose, rose maroc, gardenia, lily of the valley, soft lilac, Egyptian tuberose, Siberian fir, narcissus, pettitgrain. Oddly, the greenness of the fir and pettitgrain hits me first and then it's all a drunken blur of wonderfulness. Her stuff is beautiful on me. Love it.

**truth-in-advertising disclaimer: K-girl is actually a shapely redhead. Who is the Great Pumpkin but once during the year.

***embarrassingly delayed credit where credit is due: that beautiful Pez is ellierim danae pez, designed by dddragon!


C'est Chic Too

... is the home for my poetry. If you're interested, access my profile and click c'est chic too.

Either Way, Either Way

I guess Stephen King at times has been considered a hack ... he uses a formula, and successfully, but he's also broken out of his own mold, transcended his own style to create

NO. This isn't what I want to say. I want to tell you about something he wrote that I read five years ago that still comes to me as a tears-wrung-out-recollection.

My life was miserable at that time, and I read, read, read for the escape. I would jump on the New Yorker when it arrived every week and read it cover to cover -- not like today, happier times, when I skim it and barely catch the high spots.

In that January 2001 issue, I was surprised to find a short story by Stephen King. I've got my literary pretenses and I snootily thought, "huh." But I read the story and found it so wrenching that I dragged the magazine into my psychiatrist's office, threw it down in front of him and said, "This is it. This is how I feel."

Of course he made me describe it:

A Willy Loman-esque traveling salesman checks into a Nebraska motel one wintry night to commit suicide.

He's a gourmet food rep, he has a wife who doesn't much care if he ever comes home, a daughter from whom he is distant, and a hobby – he collects graffiti.

The mysterious, often rancid, messages on bathroom walls of all the rest areas he stops at -- these say something to him. These "voices on the walls" become his mind's companion as he drives the flat, flat miles of the midwest.

The shorthand notes-from-somewhere are meaningful to him, important, something that connects him to something outside himself. They bring some sort of context to a life lived so alone, so unmoored.

His collection of graffiti, the notebook carrying this communication, is all that tethers him to this existence. And, in a strange way, it becomes the means of making his decision about life or death.

Something outside him must decide, because from his perspective, it's "either way, either way."

The story is called "All That You Love Will Be Carried Away" and, again, it can be found in the January 2001 New Yorker, or in a compilation of Stephen King short stories (including three others previously published in the New Yorker) called Everything's Eventual.

If you're a writer, please find this and read it. The way the author constructed it will haunt you, in ways you won't expect.

Ce Soir ou Jamais

According to various sites, Annick Goutal's Ce Soir ou Jamais was a scent ten years in the making and incorporates 160 essences, including Turkish rose, jasmine, ambrette (these are the three acknowledged by the Annick Goutal site), cassis, pear, peach and wild flowers.

According to me, Ce Soir does bear a resemblance to the wonderful Sa Majeste la Rose of Serge Lutens. I think they may share the ambrette, which affords the scent a warm muskiness.

But I found this fragrance to soften into a much gentler rendition of rose after the sharpness of its first few minutes.

A sensual scent that I found myself relaxing into ... ultimately very gentle elegance. Lovely.

Sincere thanks to cjblue for the introduction.


MetroSexual ... MachoSexual ...

Usually I'm attracted to anything I can analyze and anything that has sexual in the title, but this may be the exception.

Lately there've been attempts at delineating, defining the heterosexual male. (Homosexual males get a surfeit of how, why, when, where. They must be sick of it.)

But heterosexual males have generally kept a very quiet profile (about who they are). (I mean, other than being the dominant force in our culture.) I like that low-key approach.

UrbanDictionary does provide a number of definitions for the recent MetroSexual Male phenomenon. #6: "a normally straight male who possesses qualities of a gay male without being attracted to men. A metro often appreciates the finer things in life and enjoys making himself look good; be it through styling his hair or wearing fashionable clothes."

Another heterosexual male subset: MachoSexual. Wikipedia does not yet have a definition for MachoSexual (feel free to add your own) but I assume it is the regular heterosexual type of guy.

When regular guy (read: Jim) is asked whether he regards himself as machosexual, he says, "I regard myself as a Patriots' fan."

Some things can be overanalyzed and this is one of them.

For some reason, I like men to stay a secret. They've been a mystery to me since I realized they were basically very different from my kind, women.

But they seem to be creatures of tangibility, they like solid things ... things that appear as they are. Skip the subtext.

And I don't need to know their motivation, I just like to see them in action. That seems the most natural state for a male, active. They're fun to watch and that's how I find them most attractive. I feel great affection when I can glimpse them out of the side of my eyes, when they don't know I'm watching, as they work, or make, or do, or repair.

In motion, that's a very male thing. I like that.

*This post is a tribute to Jim, who brought his cholesterol down from 342 (gasp) to 198. Very proud of you.

Life of Jim ... and His Theory About Life

lull ... lull ... lull ... SHOCK! lull ... lull ... lull ... SHOCK! lull ... lull ...

somewhere i have never traveled

somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
any experience, your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look will easily unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully, mysteriously) her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands

e.e. cummings

Today's fragrance: Serge Lutens A la Nuit with notes of Egyptian, Indian and Moroccan jasmine, clove, white honey, benzoin, musk. Sheer whiteflower beauty.


Because of ... That Way That I Have

Every once in a while, that mood slips over me ... that mood that successfully keeps me out of large groups of women in active competition ... that mood that makes my teeth hurt and jaw ache any time I am around social climbers or pseudo-intellects for any extended period of time ... the mood that forestalled any gains I might have made as a sorority princess or beauty contestant ...


And then it recedes. The calm of my psyche is restored. I am once again kind. And gentle. And empathetic. Feminine in every sense of the word.

Autumn is Near

Today's near-autumn fragrances are (left wrist): briefcandle's patented CK Obsession/Obsession Sheer mix and (right wrist) Susanne Lang Cashmere ... scents nearly identical in their notes of amber, woods, vanilla, musk.


Geezer Rock

Apparently the Stones still have them, well into their sixties ... as they inaugurated their latest world tour Bigger Bang in Boston tonight. Among the songs on the tour album:

Sweet Neo Con
"You call yourself a Christian/
I call you a hypocrite/
You call yourself a patriot/
well I think you're full of shit ..."

To whom could they be addressing this tart admonition?

Angels: An Overview

Judeo-Christian thought, particularly in the medieval era, has held that there is a hierarchy of nine choirs of angels with God at the center in the highest position.

The hierarchy consists of three descending levels, with each level having three ranks (or choirs):

The highest triad is made up of the Seraphim, the Cherubim, and the Thrones.

The second triad is composed of the Dominions, the Virtues, and the Powers.

The third triad consists of the Principalities, Archangels, and Angels.

Behold, the nine choirs of angels:

First Choir: Seraphim
The highest order of God's angelic servants.
In direct communication with God, they are ceaselessly celebrating beings of light, thought and love.
When visible to humans, their angelic form is as a six-winged and four-headed entity.

Second Choir: Cherubim
Guardians of the Tree of Life with an ever-turning flaming sword; charioteers leading the way for God.
Emanating vibrations of knowledge and wisdom.
When visible to humans, their form has four faces and four wings.

Third Choir: Thrones
They are the actual chariot or "wheels" of the celestial bodies, with an appearance similar to that of UFOs reported today.
Interestingly, during a time when the wheel was just coming into use, they were described in the form of images present in current technology.

Fourth Choir: Dominions
Regulators of angels' duties or they may be channels of mercy living within the second heaven.

Fifth Choir: Virtues
Possessing the grace to bestow blessings from on high, usually in the form of miracles.
Associated with those who struggle for good; they instill courage when it is most needed.

Sixth Choir: Powers
The first angels created by God.
Thought to be border patrol at the dangerous demarcation between the first and second heavens.

Seventh Choir: Principalities
In charge of nations and great cities on Earth.

Eighth Choir: Archangels
Messengers carrying the Divine Decrees.
Most important intercessionaries between God and humans.
Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Metatron, Remiel, Sariel, Anael, Raguel, and Raziel.

Ninth Choir: Angels
The last order in the celestial hierarchy and the closest to humankind.
Guardian angels bringing messages of faith and hope.

source material: Angels: An Endangered Species by Malcom Godwin; illustration: Emma Thompson in Angels In America


Sunlit Interior

(painting by Edouard Vuillard)

In Praise of Older Men

I am an expert at tuning out commercials on channels targeted to males, demographic 18 -forever ... but I'm sitting here half listening to the Red Sox and the theme song for A Man and A Woman comes on -- my all time favorite movie.

A boy and girl meet on the street, embrace passionately -- a sidewalk vendor holds up a placard saying "He's 30" -- and there's a tight shot to the bottle of water/whatever he's carrying.

The announcer intones: "In Praise of Older Men."

A Man and A Woman directed by Claude Lelouch


No Matter Where I Go, There I Am

This morning I once again proved something I've been carrying around in my head for a couple of days: that no matter what surface finish I apply, there's still solid oak underneath.

I mean, I can't disguise my real nature. Not for long anyway. Even if I think I can.

One of my most rooted characteristics is leading with my chin. Which years ago an old boss told me I did and I was so oblivious to my own behavior, I had to ask him what it meant.

It means I am quick to be hurt if I think somebody is trying to get over on me, or ignore me or in some way insult me.

And I am prone to responding aggressively to perceived insult -- usually to the detriment of the relationship, especially if no such insult was intended.

Here's the surface finish I'm currently trying to apply, in hopes that enough of it will sink in that the oak will be adequately protected, if not intrinsically different:

I am trying to slow my reaction when I'm hurt. I am learning to suspend judgement and trying to remain neutral in my initial reaction to perceived slights. Trying to spread out the time between perception and reaction, to give myself time to check reality (whatever that is) and let events resolve without my usual bullnosed intervention.

Sometimes I feel like I'm in emotional kindergarten, learning things way after the other kids.

But better late than never. Some learn fast, some learn not slow. No matter where I am, there I go.

Today's fragrance: Stella by Stella McCartney. Rose, rose, rose, rose, amber, amber, amber, amber. Simple fragrance for a simple person.

How Much Do I Need?

Of things, of companionship, of connection, of love?

I love beautiful things but have always been willing to open my hands and let them go.

In less-centered moments, I have let companionship, connection -- even love -- go too. But I've learned my lesson on that one.

Beautiful things make my life pleasant. Companionship, connection and love keep me alive.

To stay in this life, you need to be a part of it ... to interact with other beings. Caring for and being cared for. You need to be touched, you need to touch -- you need to matter to someone else.

And it's a responsibility not to be taken lightly. Love comes and stays, even when it's inconvenient, or isn't what you'd envisioned, or causes you heartache.

There is so little beside it that means anything.

In my five years outside the grid, I learned so much about what was meaningful to me. And it turned out not to be jewelry or cars or clothes or ...

I am unreasonably happy with what I have right now. People I love, who love me.

I hope I can keep hold of this sense of peace when I'm back in the middle of everything telling you you're supposed to want more.


Mireille In The Garden of Autumn

As I told Janey (Janey's Journey, link right) after I saw this on her blog, I spent seven years, at least once a week, spilling my soul as I looked at a Matisse that used the cut-out motifs she incorporated in her homage to the artist ...

It was startling to see she named it for me, almost as if those Matisse symbols (that I'll never forget) leaped across a continent, from my mind into her work.

At any rate, I think it's a uniquely beautiful illustration. Thanks for including my name.

Summer Doldrums

When I was seven, I could get away with moaning "I'mmmmmmmm borrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrred" in mid-August. But I'm not seven, and I should productively occupy myself. Because a bored mind is prone to flights of self-involved, unevolved thought.

(I'm not like Tan Lucy Pez, link right, who's helping everybody with their vocabulary. Ever wonder what ANALyst really meant? She'll help you with that.)

FOXnews in the background is using Elvis "Nuthin but a Hound dog" as background. Talk about an elegant newscast. Why, why, why do we listen to FOXnews? I believe I covered this: the weather. Well, we've heard the weather, dammit, and I'm changing the channel to CNN. Don't cross me on this. *bares teeth convincingly* [edit: Jim made me add that We Do Not Watch FOXnews, that Rightwing Rag of a Media Conglomerate. Only the local FOX channel, briefly, for the morning weather.]

Maybe coffee will help. *Pads off to carefully measure half cup skim milk, warms up milk in microwave, then artfully pours coffee in so there is an exact one to one ratio of milk to coffee. Pads back to computer. Remember, it's only 8:30 a.m. here, this among the last days of my five year summer vacation.*

Ahh, that's it. My brat mind has wrapped itself around the concept that soon I Will Go Back To School. And Then I Will Go Back To Work, the Land of Constrictive Pantyhose.

Never mind that I've had more leisure in the past five years than most people get in a lifetime.

The wonderful thing about a Mid-Life Hiatus, as opposed to the Recently Out of College Hiatus, is that you have so many fewer illusions. For instance, I'm not tortured with the (dramatically bring hand to brow, as if in despair) I Must be An Artist Syndrome.

Did that. Tortured numerous coworkers in ad agency and marketing communications departments with "I Need More Creative Stimulation." God, there's one -- or two -- in every workplace. Either write the novel, or don't write the novel. But Please Stop Sharing Your Need To Be Creative.

I was always ruminating about "Shouldn't I Be Somewhere Else?" and didn't realize then that co-workers were praying "Oh Please, Let Her Be Somewhere Else."

Let's see, what else am I bored with? Oh, preciousness in all its forms. At one point I was collecting words I swore I'd never use in my writing. Here's some of them: toodle-pip, delish, uber-anything (just used that one the other day), fabu, yummers, buh-bye -- oh, you get the idea.

I need a new focus to my life -- besides perfume, which I will always love. And I think it will be Expensive Lingerie. From this point forward, I will rededicate my life to Expensive Lingerie. Affording it, finding it, fitting in it, handwashing it, storing it in acid-free tissue, continually adding to my what will become extensive collection.

Yes, that's it. Purpose and Meaning. Lingerie.

Fragrance of the day? Agent Provocateur, of course. The sexiest, expensive-lingerie-est enhanced rose around.


Self Indulgent Musing ...

Fair warning on the self-indulgence ...

Today was the 38th anniversary of my first kiss ... on a beach at Bar Harbor, Maine.

Exercise and eating reasonably is good for you ... and I hate it. Also, too much CNN will destroy your brain. As will, I'm afraid, too much time devoted to blogreading. Unless you stick to the ones on my blogroll. I love the idea of cream cheese, butter and sugar involved in some dish. Any dish. I'm at that stage where I'm having erotic reverie about high fat foods.

Bucky and I had a good walk today ... some construction worker yelled out, "Nice looking dog!" (Hey! What about me? *jealous* Although I wouldn't want to be called a nice looking dog.) And another worker said, "He prances like a horse!" He does, a high-stepper. He is the only dog I've ever had that looks behind him as he walks -- like he's doing 360-degree surveillance, must keep track of everything going on around him. It must be very frustrating for him when he runs out of pee and has to air-mark his territory. Which is All Things, Everywhere. I do love him. Our love is a wary love, however. We still don't fully understand each other. Jim and Bucky, on the other hand, understand each other perfectly. Must be a male thing.

Trying to do a post on Mary Magdalene but having a hard time with focus. Everybody must be tired of my quasi-feminist jottings, but she is a fascinating character. I know nothing about Gnosticism -- which includes what are thought to be "lost" testaments of the Bible, including one devoted to Magdalene. Da Vinci Code, if nothing else, brought her rehabilitation to the public's consciousness.

I like it when it appears religion isn't frozen in time. I believe biblical characters are of most value to us as symbols, not as literal beings -- and that all sacred writings are allegorical, meant to teach in the abstract, to guide our behavior within the context of the present, not provide step by step, time-constrained, concrete instruction.

I do have a weakness for apocryphal and apocalyptic writings, if only because I like to spell the words. Heh. And I love mystery. There's so much we are incapable of knowing. But arrogance is a human hallmark, isn't it?

Also, I feel very sorry for the Israeli soldiers who must carry out eviction of the Gaza settlements. You can see many hate what they're doing. In a country where military service has been such a point of pride, I wonder if they will end up resenting their government for what they were forced to carry out. Note: I make no judgement for or against the evacuation, other than gratitude for anything that may ease tension in the mideast. I would think Israelis would deeply resent those safe and comfortable in their U.S. homes having anything to say about what they endure.

Re the Israeli soldiers: it's similar to the divisiveness we have in the U.S., when our soldiers have been compelled to act on behalf of policies they are against. Vietnam. Iraq. The "they volunteered" doesn't work for me: I don't believe that many of our volunteer soldiers truly understood -- or were given the facts about -- why they really were going or what they would be engaged in, when they agreed to serve.

I am not a joiner, but I will light a candle for Cindy Sheehan tonight. Because she lost her son. And because so many other mothers -- American, Iraqi, Israeli, Palestinian -- have lost their children.


Top Ten Summer Scents

Today I join other blogging perfumistas in a public service announcement. There's still time to smell good this summer. Here are my favorite ways to do it:

Gres Cabaret: A brisk citrusy-woodsy rose that as I'm fond of saying, repeatedly, makes me a one-woman party. The brightest, sparkling rose, lily of the valley, peony, and pink bay layered over middle notes of incense and blue orris, and finished with sandalwood, amber, and musk.

Paco Rabanne Calandre: Mysterious metallic non-sweet floral with seamless composition. Greens and bergamot, rose, geranium, sandalwood and musk; seriously aldehydic. I love this, the fragrance of which I've emptied the most bottles.

Serge Lutens Datura Noir: Osmanthus, heliotrope, mandarin, lemon flower and tuberose. Vanilla, a lighter touch of coconut oil; on me, the apricot doesn't show. A night-blooming female, rather than girlish, floral.

Parfums DelRae Debut: If there can be a light tropical fragrance, this is it. What would be heavy sweetness of whiteflowers is artfully cut with pale citrus ... and I love the sheer drydown (I'm more of a vetiver fan than I thought).

clearing Green Rose: I'm never sure of how to define her work ... this atypical rose is bittersweet at first, softening down to a beautifully soft but never sweet rose.

clearing Herbal Lavender: Clean, refreshing fragrance ... it will cool you off no matter how hot the day. The herbal component isn't sharp, but it isn't sweet, either. A perfect late day summer fragrance.

Yosh U4EEAH!: This scent makes me unreasonably happy, with a primary note that I usually don't like: fruit ... but lovely, strange, pale green fruit. There's magic in this scent.

Frederic Malle Une Rose: A complicated fragrance with notes including Turkish rose absolute and geranium. It deserves the "heady" label: a perfect match to a steamy summer day.

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

clearing Wild Summer Rose: Jasmine, rose and iris in perfect complement ... that somehow make me hum "Wild Thing." Nuanced with notes of neroli, bergamot, and ? She doesn't tell.

Want to see more Top 10 Summer Fragrance lists? Check out
Alabaster Brow, Bois de Jasmin, Blogdorf Goodman, Brain Trapped in Girl's Body, C'est Chic, Koneko's *Mostly* Beauty Diary, Life in Paris, Now Smell This, Make a Mental Note, Ombligo!, Seldom Nice Nowadays, Self-Styled Siren, She’ll Be Feverish After So Much Thinking and This Bananafish Smells Like Leaves.

Five, Seven, Five

haiku for an artist

Janey the sleepless
Pure color in eye and hand
It's her flaming sword.

Rose Chypres of Janey's Journey, link right
and today's fragrance, by clearing, as well


Never Know Which Way It'll Go

(mood swings)


A most important female symbol in the Arthurian myths, Guinevere is betrothed to Arthur early in his career. He later sends Sir Lancelot to bring her to Camelot, and although Guinevere and Lancelot fell in love on the return journey, upon reaching Camelot she fulfills her duty and marries Arthur, yet continues the affair.

Neither the Queen nor the Knight is able or willing to leave the other; their love divides the kingdom and is blamed for the downfall of the chivalric Round Table society.

Guinevere does have her defenders. William Morris (who designed the stained glass illustration in this post) is the first to give the Queen her own voice in his poetry, thus beginning a tradition that is continued in Sara Teasdale's poem "Guenevere," Dorothy Parker's "Guinevere at Her Fireside," and Wendy Mnookin's collection, "Guenever Speaks."

It is possible to go deeper into the meaning of Guinevere, especially in the context of feminist thought. Some studies use her as an archetype with parallels in Greek, Roman and Celtic mythology, an example of the female exerting free will and its consequences, or of the contrast of free will and subordination (Guinevere is sometimes compared to Persephone, captured for marriage in Hades, which results in winter dominating the earth, but who escapes for brief times to enable the earth to experience spring and summer).

Accounts of Guinevere’s death vary. Some authors write that she withdrew to an abbey where she spent her final years.

And why did I blog on this today? Oh, because I wanted to. Pretty soon I'm going to have to write all kinds of things that I don't want to write so for now I want to be free, free, free!

Today's fragrance: Gres Cabaret, that perky citrusy-woodsy rose, in honor of J, who will soon receive her AOK packages in beautiful Florida. Land of velour jogging suits and perennial tans.


A Sacrifice for Peace

To those Israeli settlers leaving their homes peacefully, in an attempt to gain peace: the world should thank you.

Your painful sacrifice is disproportionate.

I hope time will prove it meaningful.

Lipstick Rose

Today's fragrance: for Frederic Malle, Ralf Schwieger's Lipstick Rose, the ladylike confection that reminds you of your mother's scent as she bent down to kiss you before her big night out. (Notes include rose, violet, musk, vanilla, vetiver and amber.)


Unlikely Heroines: Last In A Series

Whenever we get into the analysis of films, I get nervous. And must point out that Campaspe of Self-Styled Siren (link right) is the real film critic in this neighborhood.

But keeter, the one-woman public relations arm of the Comme de Garcons' fragrance series has cornered me.

She has met me IRL and says I'm Mrs. Winifred Banks of the film Mary Poppins. And I'm here to explain my unlikely heroine status.

A scatterbrained but well intentioned member of the suffragette movement, I seem to neglect my children (hey! I got them a flying Nanny, for heaven's sake. And, erm, I don't have any children. Except Bucky.) for my duties on behalf of women's rights.

I am often seen about town in a blue and orange Edwardian-style dress with a white and blue sash that reads "Votes for Women" in black letters. Note that I accessorize with white gloves. Note also that in the film I am blond and buxom. In real life, I am dark haired and buxom.

(No good sash-augmented picture was available; I have substituted something I like better.)

I will now share the good part with you, with shameless coaching from wikipedia:

There exist interpretations of Mary Poppins, including those by structuralist semiologists (? maybe Winterwheat will explain this to us) suggesting the film has a subliminal subtext, intended to prepare America's youth for the political radicalism of the 1960s.

These analyses point to radical themes addressed in the film, including:

  • women's suffrage
  • the homeless
  • animal rights
  • mockery of militarism
  • anti-capitalism

The children's list of requirements for a new nanny can be viewed as a political manifesto and Mary Poppins as an anarchist mentor, who consorts with chimney sweep Bert and his friends, reps of the blighted urban proletariat, in an Imperialism-fattened London in its final days before World War I. (I would love to meet whoever wrote this, and look in his/her medicine cabinet.)

At film's end, however, in an unexpected switcharound, my heroism emerges in counterpoint to the progressive theory put forward by the chemically enhanced semiologists (?).

I throw away my suffragist banner -- once more a good wife and mother -- and join my family in a kite-flying get-together.

I have forsaken all that women's lib nonsense, come to my senses and once again propound an appropriate message, the conservative ideal.

Far from being an anarchist, Mary Poppins is arguably a savior-figure, sent to rescue the nuclear family from itself.

Ok, keeter. There's Mrs. Banks. Pretty cool, huh?

I Stole This From the ŰberUrbane Urban Chick*

What Jane Austen Character Am I?

I'm Marianne Dashwood from Sense & Sensibility! I'm the romantic youngster, also found in Jane Austen's work as Catherine of Northanger Abbey and possibly Georgiana Darcy of Pride and Prejudice.

I wander through life like Red Riding Hood in the forest, picking wildflowers and humming a happy song... and can't see the wolf right in front of me!

Ruled by heart and not by head, I am best advised to to learn a little caution, before I am forced into a better acquaintance with the ways of the world.

Which Jane Austen Character Are You?
brought to us by Urban Chick, link right

*I swore I would never use the phrase Űber-anything, but it just alliterates so well with urbane and urban chick and so I did it.

Today's fragrance: Chantecaille Darby Rose, a deep -- some have called it oriental, not sure I do -- rose. Does seem to have a hint of moss to darken it, so maybe somewhat chypre? The most Austen-esque fragrance, at least in name, that I could find.


Unlikely Heroines: Third In A Series

The only reason this heroine is unlikely is that she seems the type of woman who would have always toed the line, obeyed orders, never breached authority. I find her story so moving. Only the story of Beth's death, in Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, had managed to make me cry that much by the time I was eleven years old, when I first read a biography of Ms. Cavell.

Edith Cavell was the daughter of an English rector, trained as a nurse and working as a hospital matron in Brussels, Belgium when World War I broke out. Belgium was occupied by the Germans; the hospital in which she worked was taken over by the Red Cross.

Her crime? While a nurse at a Red Cross-controlled hospital, she was accused of helping hundreds of Allied soldiers escape from occupied Belgium to the Netherlands, in violation of military law.

She was arrested and court-martialled by the Germans in 1915. She didn't contest the accusations and was shot at dawn on October 12 of that year.

An odd but interesting subtext about Edith Cavell concerns her martyrdom, its utility and inconvenience in terms of film censorship in Britain.

In 1928, a film about the heroic World War I nurse, Dawn, was produced amidst much controversy. In coverage by Time Magazine at that time: "Some felt, and some did not, that to project the story of Nurse Cavell once more upon the world would be to revive war mentality at its worst and embitter Anglo-German relations."

Cavell's story, which had been used to propagandistic advantage by the British government during the First World War, was greatly dramatized in the film. For instance, the execution scene in Dawn supposedly unfolded in this manner (described in the 1928 Time coverage): "One member of the German firing squad definitely refuses to level his rifle at Nurse Cavell and he is shot on the spot. The rest line up and at the order to fire each raises his rifle so that the bullets strike above the woman's head. Nurse Cavell, however, falls down in a faint and an officer steps forward and despatches her with a pistol. The pistol used in making the film was, by way of meticulous realism, a German Luger."

However, the Time article continued, "At Berlin, last week, Dr. Gottfried Benn, onetime Chief Surgeon for the German Army in the Brussels area, declared that he had been an eyewitness of the execution of Miss Cavell and had signed the certificate attesting her death. According to Dr. Benn, Nurse Cavell was blindfolded and tied by her hands to a stake. Thereafter she remained standing until 'hit and instantly killed by 12 bullets.'"

"The British Board of Film Censors banned Dawn as 'inexpedient,' thus drawing from the London Times a pompous twitter: "What is the nature of the inexpedience? . . . The adjective 'political' instantly suggests itself, and political censorship, in whatever discreet feathers it be dressed is, in England at least, a remarkably ugly bird.'"

To me, Cavell's story didn't need to be overdramatized and should never have been censored. Unvarnished, it was heroic enough:

The night before her execution, she had told the English chaplain comforting her, "I realize that patriotism is not enough, I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone." These words are inscribed on her statue in St. Martin's Place, near Trafalgar Square in London.

In 1916, a mountain in the Canadian Rockies was named in her honor: Mount Edith Cavell.

After the war, Edith Cavell, originally buried in Belgium near the site of her execution, was reburied in the grounds of Norwich Cathedral.

Source material: wikipedia and Time Magazine archives.

Unlikely Heroines: Second In A Series

"Harlot, yes. But traitoress? Never!" — Mata Hari, on trial.

Margaretha Geertruida Zelle was born in 1876 to a Dutch businessman and a mother of Javanese descent.

After a youth in which she was said to have found and used seductress skills at a tender age, an early failed marriage, two children and a bout as a would-be teacher, she moved to Paris where she found true calling as exotic dancer, courtesan (a word I love for all it implies and does not say) and spy of story and legend.

[Insert many anecdotes involving sleeping with the enemy -- both sides -- here.]

In 1917, Mata Hari was put on trial in France, accused of spying as a double agent for Germany and France and causing the deaths of thousands of soldiers in World War I.

Mata Hari's trial occurred at a time when France was sustaining significant losses, and it is thought that the French government found it convenient to blame all military failures of the last three years on the spy who used sex as a weapon.

Although probably a low level agent for the French and the Germans, there was no evidence she produced substantive intelligence for either side.

Mata Hari was found guilty and executed by firing squad on October 15, 1917.

One tale surrounding her execution claims that as the firing squad raised their guns, she blew a kiss to her killers, flung open her long coat ... and died exposing her naked body to the rain of bullets.

It's a bit tougher to assign heroine status to Mata Hari ... but I'm awarding it on the basis of sheer chutzpah. A brave, if amoral, woman who played both ends against the middle and, isn't it always the way, lost.

When I need easily digested historical facts, I use wikipedia. Thanks, wikipedia!

Today's fragrance: Creative Scentualization's Perfect Veil, the "your skin but better" flagship perfume. On me, a soft lemony vanilla, not all that sweet.


Unlikely Heroines: First In A Series

Imagine being a poor but well educated idealist ... a woman exhilarated by all the French Revolution portended ... dedicated to the success of the upheaval that would so greatly advance all human rights.

But then imagine the disillusionment as one witnessed the knee-deep bloodbath of The Terror ... and became fixated on the architect-of-the-Revolution as the individual one felt was most responsible for trashing a utopian outcome with indiscriminate atrocities, beheadings.

Charlotte Corday was this idealistic murderer, the Girondist who took it upon herself to kill the Jacobin Jean-Paul Marat in his bath.

At her trial Corday said, "I killed one man to save 100,000." Four days after his death, her effort was repaid by a guillotine beheading.

Unfortunately, his killing resulted in Marat's martyrdom and a wave of anti-female activity within the highest ranks of the Revolution. Some think it may have hastened the death of Marie Antoinette.

Time is the ultimate revisionist historian. Within another two years, Marat had been declared bête noire and Corday posthumously rehabilitated: a heroine who advanced a cause by killing one of its most powerful leaders.

source material: wikipedia, of course.

Baby's Got Back ...

I was reading Katie's Seldom Nice Nowadays, she used that phrase out of a blues song (extolling the virtue of overlarge female rear ends) ... and WHAM!

Catapulted back to the days of early marriage when my now-a-jazz-musician exhusband was exploring the blues. Never mind being born in an upper middle class family on Mercer Island, he had the BLUES.

I can't tell you how many hours of arcane blues song garage band rehearsals I sat through (when I was still a good band wife and felt the need to fully participate in the life).

But the real color commentary comes when you get to the gig. Seamy smoke-filled clubs with low lit dancefloors, the stench of spilled beer, pushy barmaids who turn nice when you announce you're the wife (why was that?), the lysol waft from the usually horrible restrooms.

And the drunks.

The quiet drunks, the obnoxious drunks, the drunks on a pickup mission, the drunks who want to dance, the drunks too far gone to lift their heads.

If you want to make the true American Fellini, go to a bar an hour before closing time and you will have found your film's most viscerally surreal scene. Every human emotion -- marinated in hours of alcohol and thus stripped bare -- will be in front of you.

But the most predominant emotion will be frustration. That's what fascinated me, the high expectations these bargoers had of their evenings. The twenty-something girls dressed in high-seduction mode, with skirt slits up to there and layers of lipgloss. The thirty-something males in tight t-shirts showing off their weightwork at the gym. And it gets sadder -- and more desperate -- for both sexes as you climb the age ladder.

Then the glaring contrast when the lights come up at 2 am: the gray room and the tired faces of the band and waitstaff.

All illusion of romance gone, just wanting to tear down, pack up and get out.

Today's fragrance: oh, I'm thinking something from the Victoria's Secret line of fine scents. Must research.

I Have Wonderful Friends

winterwheat's (from Yelling Fire In A Crowded Theater, link right)
take on the twinkie ...
why, I bet they're LOW CARB.

Thanks. I needed that.


Kid Fear vs. Adult Fear

You know what? There's no difference. Between being scared as a kid and being scared as an adult. This might not be a revelation to most of you, but I just thought of it and will treat it as brand new information. Please follow along.

Every summer when I was a kid, I went through the torment of the damned in August as I woke up to the fact that school was going to start in just a month AND I WAS ENTERING A NEW GRADE. A GRADE I HAD NEVER BEEN IN BEFORE. WITH A TEACHER WHO DIDN'T KNOW ME.

And every August -- oh, take for example the August after third grade, I had horrible daydreams and nightmares about how fourth grade was going to be my Alamo. I wouldn't make it out alive. I would have to make my last stand at *fill in the elementary school* fourth grade.

The terror. The terror.

And here I am, at age 54, having the same August I did prior to fourth grade.

They won't like me at paralegal school. They'll think I'm dumb. I won't be wearing the right clothes. The teachers will hate me. The work will be too hard. I'M GOING TO DIE.

Which makes me anxious. And hungry.

Want a twinkie?

Something Lovely

I have a mind that tends to back into things. I'm not logical, I don't develop linear strategies, straightforward arguments.

When I approach something that is beautiful, that I want to understand, I like to circle my prey.

As much as I can, I walk around it in my mind. Point out the sights to myself. But not as a critical exercise, more of a "Oh! Look at That!"

This is how I feel about Laura's work. (Laurelines, link at right) I try to go to her blog at least every other day, to see what's new, to amaze myself at what she can do.

Having had enough art history to be dangerous, I enjoy her historical references. And I fell in love with this ... not that I can cite its inspiration, only that I love circling around it, looking at the way she treated the folds of fabric, the shadow and light on the gown and wrap, the cleverness of using the pattern to delineate background and figure, using color to fool the eye.

I think her way with women -- ok, the female figure -- is wonderful. It has a graceful, timeless neo-neo-classicism to it. The highest forms of feminine are found in her work.

Thank you for letting me show one of my favorites, Laura.

Today's fragrance: Speaking of straightforward, Jo Malone Red Roses ... seven types of rose, crushed violet leaves, a bit of lemon and spearmint ... this is not a rose for the timid. Beware of liberally applying it before you go to bed. You may have to get up and somehow dilute it before it will let you go to sleep. A word to the wise.


The Blessing of An Amicable Divorce

I talked to my ex-husband last night and realized I've known him now for 25 years, almost half my life. In my volatile family, that's a long time to know someone ... and still be talking to them.

I like him. He drives me crazy, but I like him.

And I love his mother, who taught me her version of what it is to be a Jewish woman ... and made me proud to be so. (She'd asked him to tell me she missed me. I miss her, too.)

She's intellectual, bull-headed, quirky, still doing yoga. And proud possessor -- at the age of 71 -- of a literary agent shopping around her first book. You go, girl.

So, after fourteen years of marriage and nine years of divorce, it's strange -- and nice -- to realize there's still a bit of family left there. Still a connection. It didn't all blow up in hatred and acrimony; I didn't lose everything of value, I didn't waste all those years.

Welcome Home, Discovery

How's the Diet?

Oh, pretty good. Want a twinkie?

From wikipedia: the most famous [stone age] piece is the Venus of Willendorf, which was found in the territory of today's Austria. This type of sculpture was excavated in numerous places from France to Siberia, and was therefore typical of the stone age culture. Scientists however concluded that the average stone age women did not have the possibility to gain so much weight. Also, none of the few paleolithic male figurines in sculpture or painting were corpulent. Possible explanations scientists have for this discrepancy are that these female statuettes were either goddesses (some sort of "Earth Mother") or they were part of a rich social class, possibly in a matriarchic society. Some have also theorized that this was the most exaggerated ideal of beauty, as Barbie dolls exhibit anatomically improbable slenderness.

Venus wants to know what the big deal is about the Dove ad series.

Today's fragrance: Serge Lutens' Santal Blanc with notes per Bela: sandalwood, cinnamon bark, fenugreek, Copahu balsam, jasmine, Siamese benzoin, iris, pink pepper, musk. Interesting how quickly I get the cinnamon and pepper ... it's a hot fragrance. Must go look up fenugreek. *edit* Per clearing, fenugreek is "a mildly spiced dust" which can also be used (according to herbal lore) to dry up mucus. Noted that this was a compound c used in capsules to treat her children's colds* *additional edit per victoriaf: fenugreek "is a spice used in Indian and Middle Eastern cooking. It has a very particular scent--bitter, slightly pungent and a little bit sweet."


Doors Widely Swung

My heart keeps open house,
My doors are widely swung.
An epic of the eyes
My love, with no disguise.
Open House
Theodore Roethke

The bravest kind of writing is that done from the heart, an open heart, with no agenda other than sharing pain or joy or something else that's real about what it is be a human.

This past week, I was privileged to read some of that kind of writing and I am grateful to the souls who risked putting it out there.

Because it is such a risk. The times I've done it, I come away from it kind of stunned. Maybe amazed that I had the guts to be honest, maybe relieved -- because that kind of honesty is an unburdening.

But there's a cost to catharsis.

The nakedness of just being who you are, defenses down, for everyone to see. That takes tremendous courage. You're putting your skinless self into the hands of those who make the time and have an interest in looking deep into your metaphoric eyes.

I hope the people who shared pain through their blogs this week know that we know you gave us a gift.

We held it gently in our hands for a few minutes, thought about it for much longer and now carefully give you back those memories, having shared them for a while.

Thank you: for allowing us to be a part of your grief (we hope it helped) and for allowing us the honor of your vulnerability.

Thank you.

illustration: Duncan Long


My statcounter was installed June 2, 2005 and today it hit 10,000!

Where did you all come from? I didn't know I had this many relatives!

Thank you for glimpsing c'est chic!

mwah! *kiss*

Monday, Monday

Today's fragrance: Comme des Garçons Series 3: Incense Kyoto, with sincere thanks to keeter, the QueenBee (get it?) of incense. Notes of incense, cypress oil, coffee, teak wood, vetiver, patchouli, amber, everlasting flower, Virginian cedar. I'm trying to work my way into a meditative space and I think this will help.


Introducing ...

How Do You Like Me So Far?
ellierim danae* pez (am I allowed to do this?)
(with sincere thanks to dddragon!)
*Danae, my alter-ego, is the inimitable muckraking little Goth
of the Non Sequitur comicstrip by Wiley.
And, as all admirers of the Pez family know, she is a Pez dispenser
developed and designed by dddragon of Is Anything Truly Random
(joined by Aral of Echoes from Aral in Pezland and Pez sister ActonBell of Hoppy Trails)
and the Leader of Us All is Tan Lucy Pez (all links right)