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


My FIRST Brief *snif*

It's a special moment in a girl's life when she writes her first brief ... and today was my special day: Katko v Briney.


I knew all those years of watching Law & Order were going to pay off! Thanks, Lenny!

Within You Without You

We were talking - about the space between us all
And the people - who hide themselves behind a wall of illusion
Never glimpse the truth - then it's far too late - when they pass away.

We were talking - about the love we all could share - when we find it
To try our best to hold it there - with our love
With our love - we could save the world - if they only knew.

Try to realize it's all within yourself
No one else can make you change
And to see you're really only very small,
And life flows on within you and without you.

We were talking - about the love that's gone so cold and the people,
Who gain the world and lose their soul
They don't know - they can't see - are you one of them?

When you've seen beyond yourself - then you may find, peace of mind,
Is waiting there - And the time will come when you see
We're all one, and life flows on within you and without you.

The Beatles

Today's fragrance: Well, it would have to be Rich Hippie Wild Thing, wouldn't it? *measures out three drops* Indian jasmine, Albanian orris root (providing a faint violet scent) and Egyptian rose. A natural high.


Autumn, Really

It's fairly early in the morning and Jim was meditating, so the house was very, very quiet.

Then I heard the wind pushing against the window and I thought, "Fall. It's finally fall."

Our first gray day in quite a while ... so gray it's dark outside. I love this pulling into oneself that happens when it turns cold and wet.

You look for light and warmth, and you close ranks with those you truly trust. And maybe indulge in a bit of melancholy:

Time it was and what a time it was it was,
A time of innocence, a time of confidences.

Long ago it must be, I have a photograph
Preserve your memories, they're all that's left you.

Bookends, Simon and Garfunkel

Today's Fragrance: Tolu by Ormonde Jayne. The ultimate autumn fragrance with notes of
juniper berry, orange blossom and clary sage, orchid (!), Moroccan rose and muguet, tolu,
tonka bean, golden frankincense and amber. She's a genius.


Those Who Danced Were Thought Insane by Those Who Couldn't Hear The Music

Almost forgot to be grateful.

A year ago tonight I was in a hospital bed after emergency surgery to have an uncooperative organ removed. Better here than there. Better now than then.

Gratitude also to the man with whom I share my life:
for who you are, and everything you do for me, thank you.

4 More Reasons Spiders Shouldn't Use Drugs

And let this be a lesson to them!

Today's fragrance: Creative Scentualization's Perfect Veil for the lemony-vanilla calmness of it all.


This Look Works on the Civil Procedures Instructor

I have to bat my eyelashes like crazy, though.

Today's fragrance: the discontinued Demeter Belladonna killer perfume: "Belladonna smells so sweet/Pretty woman on the street/Pretty poison is her cry/Belladonna watch you die"
a roses-and-dirt scent inspired by Karen Moline's novel Belladonna.


Today's Stinging Retort

"You don't know the answer? I thought I'd been transferred to the Office of Certifiable Genius."

"Sorry gorgeous, you got transferred to the Office of Too Freakin' Bad."

Today's fragrance: Sonoma Scent Studio's Tranquility, a beautifully done incense and amber blend with a surprising orange blossom note at drydown.


Open Your Hymnals to Page ...

I have this (now not so) secret love for Protestant hymns. Given my druthers, I like to hear them sung in an Episcopalian service (although some of the ones I really like are Methodist and unlikely to be found in the stained glass, velvet kneeler confines of High church, which is what I like best.)

There's something so satisfyingly righteous about this music. It's easy to imagine it sung by people who live their lives within the strictures of church teaching, and who are certain of reward for correct behavior. I find that oddly comforting. That there is/was such a thing as people behaving correctly AND having faith that they will be rewarded for it.

Here's one sung in the autumn, especially around Thanksgiving:

We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing;
He chastens and hastens His Will to make known;
the wicked oppressing now cease from distressing:
sing praise to His Name, He forgets not His own.

Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;
so from the beginning the fight we were winning:
Thou, Lord, wast at our side: all glory be Thine!

We all do extol Thee, Thou leader triumphant,
and pray that Thou still our Defender wilt be.
Let Thy congregation escape tribulation:
Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!


My Beautiful City

This is Seattle, in a photo Laura took last Saturday from the seaplane, as she returned to Victoria B.C.

I live in the right hand corner. Heh.

I love this city, where I've spent most of my life (!) Me! I, who moved every three years the first twenty years of my life, have lived here for 34 years. I'm home.

One of the best things about Seattle is how close you are to the ocean, to the Sound, to so many lakes -- even a major lake, which forms the city's eastern boundary. You can smell water all the time. Wind in from the west brings the smell of saltwater, my favorite. And sometimes you can hear the gulls' plaintive songs. There's a kind of built-in melancholy to Seattle.

The grayness, dampness, drizzle gets to you at first ... but then you slow down and adapt. And learn to love the rain. In Seattle.

Today's fragrance: a beautiful DSH dupe of Regina Harris Rose Maroc: Un Robe de Zibeline. Perfect fragrance for a medieval nun, if medieval nuns wore fragrance. Rose, incense.


Please Pass the Prilosec

Tonight on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer (transcript excerpt):

David Brooks: Domestic discretionary spending - non-defense spending - non-homeland security spending -- has increased under George W. Bush twice as fast as under Bill Clinton, and faster than under Lyndon Baines Johnson.

Mark Shields: In 12 years from 1980 to 1992, under Republican presidents promising to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse, which is the term I heard again this week, we saw that national debt quadruple.

It became an issue in the '92 campaign on balanced budgets raised by Ross Perot and the consequence was that Bill Clinton, Democratic president, working with the Republican Congress, left this George Bush with a budget surplus.

In the four and a half years [George W. Bush] has been there, the national debt has gone from $5.7 trillion to $7.9 trillion. That has to be paid off.

David Brooks: I think Republicans have in their minds we are the anti-government party. We came to shrink government. So they say that out on the campaign trail.

But when you are the majority party actually governing, it doesn't work. People want the problem solved. So instead of having a governing philosophy that will tell them I'm going to spend it here but not there, they have a governing philosophy that is irrelevant to actually governing.

So they take that anti-governing philosophy and they just toss it out the window when they get here and spend like sailors. So what you have is a governing philosophy that doesn't apply to the real world, so they have no sense of priorities, no sense of what's important and what's not, no sense of restraint and where to direct their effort.

Jim Lehrer: Well, that's the charges made of liberals all the time.


A friend introduced me today to a site featuring Indian artists from several generations ... their work showcases various socio-economic themes contemporary to India and is well worth your attention.

Artavatar is currently liaising with a well respected charitable organization in India to help thousands of unfortunate women with health issues and children with their education.

Please visit and consider supporting this worthwhile effort.

painting: Samarjit Biswas Yearning II

Today's fragrance: Serge Lutens Sa Majeste la Rose with the sweetness of rose, cut this time with an herbal/green geraniumy-ness. Don't really take my roses straight, and this one has a great chaser.


My Boyfriend's Back and You're Gonna Be in Trouble

More than 750 girl groups had a song on the U.S. and U.K. charts between 1960-1966 ...The Angels (later Angie and the Chicklettes), Shangri-las, Patti and the Bluebelles (Patti Labelle), The Ronettes, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, the Chantelles, the Darnells, the ... well, more than 700 others.

A personal favorite by the Angels:


"He went away and you hung around
And bothered me every night
And when I wouldn't go out with you
You said things that weren't very nice"

My boyfriend's back and you're gonna be in trouble (Hey-la, hey-la, my boyfriend's back)
When you see him comin', better cut out on the double (Hey-la, hey-la, my boyfriend's back)
You been spreading lies that I was untrue (Hey-la, hey-la, my boyfriend's back)

So look out now 'cause he's comin' after you (Hey-la, hey-la, my boyfriend's back)

Hey, he knows what you been tryin' And he knows that you been lyin'
He's been gone for such a long time (Hey-la, hey-la, my boyfriend's back)

Now he's back and things'll be fine (Hey-la, hey-la, my boyfriend's back)
You're gonna be sorry you were ever born (Hey-la, hey-la, my boyfriend's back)

'cause he's kinda big and he's awful strong (Hey-la, hey-la, my boyfriend's back)

My boyfriend's back, he's gonna save my reputation (Hey-la, hey-la, my boyfriend's back)
If I were you, I'd take a permanent vacation
(Hey-la, hey-la, my boyfriend's back)

Asthma, Motown and the Community of the Awake

I know I share insomnia with many of my fellow-bloggers ... and what a treat it is to be so tired but so overstimulated that you fall asleep right after dinner, drag yourself to bed only to find yourself staring at the black ceiling three hours later ... with a bout of asthma and Motown songs doing the cancan in your head.

I went to high school in Ann Arbor, Michigan, some miles west of the Motor City. It was the sixties, right before the riots and white kids still went Woodwarding, cruising down that main drag into the city, trying to sneak into a club called The Chessmate. Memories of the radio blaring the Supremes, the Four Tops, the Spinners ... so much great music.

That music in my head -- and not enough oxygen -- keeps me awake this early morning. So, fellow insomniacs, here's a blast from the past, one of my favorite songs -- not from the best of Motown, but from (little known fact:) Lesley Gore, who had one album for Motown and whose early records were produced by Quincy Jones. An earworm, from me to you (this one goes out to you, Keeter):

You don't own me, I'm not just one of your many toys
You don't own me, don't say I can't go with other boys

And don't tell me what to do
And don't tell me what to say
And please, when I go out with you
Don't put me on display, 'cause

You don't own me, don't try to change me in any way
You don't own me, don't tie me down 'cause I'd never stay

Oh, I don't tell you what to say
I don't tell you what to do
So just let me be myself
That's all I ask of you

The angst, the angst!

It's Morning Now ... and today's fragrance: Agent Provocateur with notes of Morroccan rose, Indian saffron, Egyptian jasmin, and French magnolia oil, base notes of vetivert, amber, and musk. You begin to see a pattern with me, don't you? A mix of roses and jasmine with something like saffron and/or vetiver to cut the sweetness. I like that asymmetry, that off-balancedness of it all. Unexpected counterpoints.


Things I've Learned So Far

Don't ask the instructor -- who is an attorney -- why you would ever need to hire an attorney if a paralegal can do all the paperwork and case preparation ...

and don't ask the instructor if bringing in case studies drawn from Judge Judy can substitute for the library research assignment.

Don't roll your eyes so obviously that the younger kids notice.

Sometimes even 19 year olds should not wear midriff-baring t-shirts ...

However, the majority of these kids have bodies to die for. Darn their 19 year old selves.

Don't drink a boatload of coffee before a four-hour chunk of class time, especially when the instructor has stated she "doesn't believe" in breaks.

The Manolo would not approve of many college instructors' choice of thick-soled maryjanes accessorized with somewhat stubbly bare legs. Just sayin'.

Today's fragrance: something to compete with all the estrogen, Victoria's Secret, testosterone and Axe wafting around the room.


We Must Remember This ...

A Kiss is Still A Kiss ... er, no. I mean:

Civil liability occurs when a person or entity engages in an activity or conduct that causes some harm or injury to another person, and the courts or legislature have determined that the injured party is entitled to some compensation or remedy from the wrong-doer. The two areas of civil liability are contract liability and tort liability.


Today's fragrance: Regina Harris Rose Maroc with its incensey frankincense, myrrh, rosy spice and deep honey accord. Because if you can't slay them with your knowledge of the law, you must rely on feminine wiles.


My First Day Went Well, Thank You.

Hello, Goodbye

Goodbye to one life,
Hello to a new one!

Today's fragrance: Sage Amber for all the courage I need to make these changes!

Knowledge IS Power. Thank you, Bela, for reminding me.


Dogging Blogging


And if I may just provide a brief s(n)ide comment?

A shadow now descends over the land as women must finally acknowledge that football season is in full swing. Although I wasn't even home yesterday, I am about to be involved (that means I can hear it, and see it out of the corner of my eye) in my fourth football game in two days.

And this is that heartwrenching time of the year when baseball season overlaps football season and hard decisions must be made. (Although someone in this house has been known to have one game on television, one game on radio and another game on internet as he reads the sports section and rotates from medium to medium.)

Rest assured, if the Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots or the University of Michigan are playing anywhere in the world, we're all over it. I know that gives me a warm feeling inside.

p.s. Jim says this is just me playing to my base. That isn't true, is it, homegirls?

Today's fragrance: Rose Incense layered over Pour Une Saison solid. Smoky rosiness. Not sweet. It's good.


Laura Lands In Seattle

Kyahgirl is coming to Seattle on a seaplane. (She's so wild.) This should be FUN!

Today's fragrance: Ormonde Jayne Ta'if because it's my favorite in the whole world


B. Boop Gets Ready for School ...

And she just received a Back to School package from my Rocky Mountain friend, Clearing.

C sent a themed package, not just of fragrance but of her three daughters' artwork (this package featured a complete hand-created Betty Boop Goes Back to School paper doll collection, including a cutout Bucky on a leash and a poodle skirt ensemble for Betty. Also enclosed was a wonderful hand-drawn cartoon sequence of a little bird taking off for school far away ... the best part was the bird hotel she stayed at mid-way. p.s.: the bird made an A+ in school. Excellent.).

The autumnal theme continued with individually wrapped, plaid-ribbon tied surprises (creams and vials and ...) accessorized with pressed autumn leaves. Plus neatly wrapped packages of home-made gingersnaps.

So: C is pretty much a renaissance woman who I would have to dislike (out of sheer envy) if I didn't love her so much.

I've talked a lot about C's fragrances on the blog, because I think she is that rare perfumista: a nose in her own right. Many are called, few are chosen ... and she has true skill.

I've only witnessed her creative process by email proxy, but I've "seen" her labor over each of her scents, taking weeks to develop a fragrance, using fifteen or more individual oils to achieve her base scents and then calibrating them through to the EDT or EDP stage.

They aren't commercial and she is adamant that they not be, sometimes to the tune of my gnashing teeth. She refuses to self-promote, and barely lets me talk about what she does. She'll never play the politics of perfumery, it just isn't in her.

Just know that if and when she ever decides to approach this as a commercial endeavor, after she dies a thousand deaths over every bottle she lets go of, that person will own a jewel. The product of her labor is so personal, so much a carefully crafted extension of who she is.

And who is she? One of the most accomplished women I've ever known. Thanks for the back to school present, C (and please thank the girls, too).


Fleur de Lys

"It is at first sight so difficult to explain the reason why, when other great potentates were assuming for their armorial emblems the lion, the eagle ... the sovereigns of France should have preferred the apparently humble iris-flower, that we are hardly surprised to find the fact accounted for by the tradition that it was brought from heaven itself by an angel to Clovis, King of France, on the occasion of his baptism, as a special mark of favor on the part of the Blessed Virgin, whose peculiar symbol the lily has always been."
Discoveries: Heraldry by Michel Pastoureau

iris fragrance:
Guerlain Après L’Ondée
Hermès Hiris
Acqua di Parma Iris Nobile
Frédéric Malle Iris Poudre
Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist

lily fragrance:
Yosh Stargazer 7.71
Serge Lutens Un Lys
Frédéric Malle Lys Méditerranée

Your Inheritance

A friend and I were shopping at Pacific Place in Seattle, which houses a theatre in its mega-consumerist confines.

A theatre line snaked all the way around the concourse and I asked one of the people what they were waiting for: "Proof," she replied.

A movie newly released and starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Anthony Hopkins (no, I don't want to talk about the stars or even much about the plot), the movie deals with madness, particularly madness transmitted from parent to child.

The genetic nature of mental illness is a topic I can't approach scientifically -- just emotionally.

I don't know whether it is typical to look at one's parents' behavior -- cooly dissected away from one's love for those parents -- and think, "That's crazy." And, "I wonder if I act like that."

I don't know whether other people have done that, but I have.

Both my parents have passed away and therefore are reading this from an elevated view ... I'm sure a painting will soon come crashing off the wall, symptom of displeasure from one or both after they read this ...

but in hindsight, I'm sure I am the product of a depressive and a mild bipolar. Should I be ashamed? Afraid?

I'm neither. At this point in my life, I see their lives as cautionary tales. But then, I'm fortunate. I've read extensively about maladies that may or may not have been passed to me genetically, I've worked with one of the best practitioners of "the talking cure," I live in a time when psychotropic drugs -- admittedly not the panacea one would hope for -- are available to mitigate the worst symptoms of what may or may not have been inherited.

But still.

In one blogpost I spoke of "being in the dark room," the quality of being oblivious to one's behavior and its effect on others.

If the foreknowledge and forewarning of genetically transmitted illness can at all be seen as a gift, it is that you have an opportunity to shed scales from your eyes in a way that our parents couldn't dream of.

If you choose, you can use this information to exit the dark room.

Intellectual knowledge of what may be components of your "self," your personality, isn't the gift. The gift is using what you think may have been given -- to gain insight about who you really are.

This is a labyrinthine topic ... with all sorts of implications. There are ways in which knowledge of genetic predisposition can be absolutely devastating. Genetic information can truly be seen as the Tree of Knowledge against which Adam and Eve were warned.

And please understand that I am commenting mildly and in a fairly superficial manner about this.

It's that "may or may not have been" that's the sticking point. Who knows, really, what is your very own -- what does "your very own" mean? -- and what is genetic? And what does it matter, except to ineffectually assign blame for what now seem to be inescapable outcomes?

This is all so ambiguous still, and we may come to see this ambiguity as a golden era. In most cases, knowledge certainly isn't yet at the stage of being "proof." And when the proof is painful, who wants to know for certain?

Today's fragrance: "Truffle accord," hm. Well, there is a rich fermented scent to the first sniff of Une Rose, Edouard Fléchier's creation for Frederic Malle. But that could also be the "wine dregs" stated in the fragrance notes, which also include Turkish rose absolute and geranium. It's a complicated mix deserving the "heady" label. There's a fecundity to this perfume, a fertility. No girliness here. A serious rose scent that demands respect. It's beautiful but requires thought. That's ok. I'd like to be perceived that way.



Today is a good day.

I have sliced a bowlful of peaches for cobbler, dousing them with lemon juice, brown sugar and cinnamon ... I have a gorgeous bunch of swiss chard in the refrigerator which will become Chard with White Beans and Penne ... I can invoice a project that's been hanging over my head for two weeks, I have a healthy backlog of work, and my classes start Monday.

I am SO lucky (and thank God for my luck).

Today's recipes:

Martha Stewart's Peach Cobbler
Serves 8

10 ripe peaches, pitted and sliced (2 quarts) (I squeeze a lemon's worth of juice over them as well)
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons dark-brown sugar (I use more than this)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg
2/3 cup heavy cream
Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, for serving
1. Preheat oven to 375°. Place peaches, lemon juice, cornstarch, dark-brown sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Toss until well combined. Pour mixture into an 8 1/2-by-11 1/2-inch baking dish.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, the baking powder, and salt. Using a fork, two knives, or a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. 3. Whisk together egg and cream in a liquid-measuring cup. Slowly add this mixture to dry ingredients; mix with a fork until dough just comes together. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board, and roughly shape into a 12-inch log. Using a bench scraper, cut log into twelve equal portions.
4. Place rough balls of dough on top of peach mixture. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes. Transfer pan to a rack, and let cool slightly. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Mediterranean Diet Penne with Swiss Chard and White Beans
Serves: 6

1 good-sized bunch Swiss chard (about 10 to 12 ounces)
10 to 12 ounces penne pasta
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, quartered and thinly sliced
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine or water
1 1/ 2 to 2 pounds diced ripe tomatoes (substitute one 28-ounce can diced tomatoes if good, fresh tomatoes are unavailable)
16-ounce can large white beans (cannellini), drained and rinsed
1/4 cup raisins or currants
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Grated fresh Parmesan cheese, preferably organic, or Parmesan-style soy cheese for topping, optional

1. Remove the stems from the Swiss chard and rinse it well. Drain lightly and chop the leaves coarsely.
2. Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Cook the pasta in rapidly simmering water for 10 to 12 minutes (or according to package directions), until al dente, then drain.
3. In the meantime, heat the oil in an extra-large saucepan or steep-sided stir-fry pan. Add the onions and garlic and saute over medium heat until the onion is golden, about 5 minutes.
4. Add the wine or water and the chard. Cover and cook just until the chard wilts down, stirring once or twice, about 3 minutes.
5. Stir in the tomatoes, beans, and raisins or currants. Cook just until everything is well heated through, another 4 to 5 minutes.
6. Combine the cooked pasta with the sauce in a large serving bowl. Toss well, then season to taste with salt and pepper, and toss again. Serve at once. Pass around fresh grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Today's fragrance: clearing's Lavender Herbal, fresh, clean, stimulating. I believe she told me it's in the vein of Diptyque Oyedo, but I can't remember for sure. edit: no, this is not like Oyedo. The best description is clean, dry, fresh ... that softens. This is a wide awake fragrance, good for days when you need to get stuff done.


Millinery Adventures Chez Chic

The martini. Pass me the martini.
It's five o'clock somewhere.
(William Powell and Myrna Loy in The Thin Man)

Imaginary Supreme Court Hearings

Senator Dianne Feinstein's questioning today of Supreme Court Chief Justice nominee John Roberts reminded one of nothing so much as a typical husband/wife exchange (paraphrase):

"I found these notes you wrote in the margins of a memo written about a woman to be honored for transitioning from a homemaker to becoming a lawyer.

You said something about maybe it's not such a good thing to be honoring women for becoming lawyers over homemakers.

Did you say that?"

(slight look of discomfort comes over his preternaturally smooth and calm demeanor, faint bristling)

"Oh that's not what I meant."

"Well then, why did you say it?"

"I was talking about there being too many lawyers. People have joked about that for time immemorial. Like, even in Shakespeare."

"Yes, but you said this. Why did you say it if you didn't mean it? Does that mean you feel that way about me?"

"Oh honey, you know I think you're a super lawyer. And a terrific senator. I would have never said anything that implied otherwise."

*mollified* "Oh, all right then."

Fragrance of the Day: MAC MV3

What People of the Labyrinths or Nanadebary fragrances are to some, MAC MV3 is to me: an ultimate comfort scent.

Despite the techy sharp edge of its name and bottle, this scent whispers "crawl back in bed" and pulls the comforter back over you.

Even MAC itself, the edgy Canadian cosmetic company, comes up with a softer side description for its MV3:

a deep dark velvety blend of bergamot, jasmine, vetiver, vanilla, whipped with leather (oh, there they move back into form) sparked up by amber crystals and tolu balsam wood.

Exotically earthy, rich and ritualistic, totally addictive.

Um, yes. Yes.

Another descriptive is similarity to Donna Karan's Black Cashmere ... but this is not as dominant a scent. MV3 is softer, the spiciness not quite as sharp. More see-through.

For that reason, I think MV3 is a more comfortable day scent ... kind of a subtler femme fatale scent for the office. The drums are still beating, but not so much ritual sacrifice.

Heh. Comfort scent with a ritual sacrifice chaser. Well, maybe you need comforting during ritual sacrifice, she said defensively.

Mix those metaphors.


Another Day Ends at Chez Chic

(William Powell, Myrna Loy and Asta in The Thin Man)


To His Coy Mistress

Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, Lady, were no crime
We would sit down and think which way
To walk and pass our long love's day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges' side
Shouldst rubies find: I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the Flood,
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires, and more slow;

An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, Lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.
But at my back I always hear
Time's wingèd chariot hurrying near;

And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found,
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song: then worms shall try
That long preserved virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust:
The grave's a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.

Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour
Than languish in his slow-chapt power.
Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

Andrew Marvell 1621 - 1678

Anger or Ennui?

At a time when there are so many people and reasons to grieve: for New Orleans, for Iraq, for London of 7/7/05, for New York of 9/11/01 ... I am in a singularly fortunate circumstance: I'm dry, warm, well-fed and healthy, with people who love me.

But there's a strange kind of ennui that comes over me.

As if: there is so much going wrong, what can one person do to make it right? You get kind of sorrowfully numb.

But I'd rather be angry than depressed. I'd rather have hope for change, than feel so impotent.

I'd also gone through the stages of grief at the outcome of the last election (after witnessing some of the nastiest campaign spin I've ever seen, and subsequent nastiness as American public opinion was adroitly manipulated ) ...

I went through:
  • the forehead slapping about how half of my countrymen could vote for the most cunning but inept president in decades
  • the "how could you be so stupid" snarling at TV talking heads explaining from administration-supplied cue cards why we live in the best of all possible times
  • the eye-rolling during Iraq war happytalk from the President, the Vice-President and the Secretary of Defense as 2000 American kids died
  • the open-mouthed amazement as I see the lower middle class, those whose kids are the ones disproportionately dying in Iraq, those who are most likely to suffer from his economic policies, earnestly join the tongue-in-cheek power elite in declaring that this is a President of the people, one of them, a regular guy, a true leader.

But now some of my countrymen are in a world of hurt -- and the rest of the world hurts for them.

Absolutely the only good that could come out of this is an awakening to the real priorities of that guy barely voted into office. A realization that those priorities didn't have anything to do with the American people as he looked out the window of Air Force One, looked down on all the little people, the little people who were sick, starving, drowning, dying. While he decided how little and how late he could do anything for them and still make it look good.

Once again, he didn't make the right decisions.

Isn't it time to replace the ennui with anger, acknowledge that this isn't the America we were raised to respect, and commit to doing whatever we can to change the administration to one that gives a damn about its people?


Looking Back ... and Looking Forward

So many souls ascended that day.

Now New York
scarred but unbowed
Extends its hands to another sad city.

Tears like a tide,

wash the streets clean.
Sorrow remembered, but also a reminder:
Life and hope renew themselves in time.

Bethany Sent the Perfect Seattle Poem:

Black Umbrellas

On a rainy day in Seattle stumble into any coffee shop
and look wounded by the rain.
Say Last time I was in I left my black umbrella here.
A waitress in a blue beret will pull a black umbrella
from behind the counter and surrender it to you
like a sword at your knighting.
Unlike New Englanders, she'll never ask you
to describe it, never ask what day you came in,
she's intimate with rain and its appointments.
Look positively reunited with this black umbrella
and proceed to Belltown and Pike Place.
Sip cappuccino at the Cowgirl Luncheonette on First Ave.
Visit Buster selling tin salmon silhouettes
undulant in the wind, nosing ever into the oncoming,
meandering watery worlds, like you and the black umbrella,
the one you will lose on purpose at the day's end
so you can go the way you came
into the world, wet looking.

by Rick Agran, from Crow Milk © Oyster River Press


I'm finishing that scarf TODAY, dammit. Nobody believes me, but I am. I have to. It's getting to be a neurotic bloc that I can't finish it. But I can. And I will. Just watch.

UP through the front door,
Dance AROUND the back,
DOWN through the window,
and OFF jumps Jack!


I Was Wordless Until I Started Typing

I had stored the Pierre Bonnard Bather for just such a wordless eventuality. She's preening a bit much for me, but she does have the anatomy for it.

Musing ... lately I've noticed myself being internally critical of women who are sexually overt in their speech, in their behavior.

What's up with that? What's wrong with a woman drooling over a nude male? Or making remarks about how hot this guy is ... and even how much she'd like to (fill in the blank).

Oh there's nothing wrong with it. Different attitudes and behavior for different people.

I just like to keep some things secret. I think that's very female: to be secretive, subtle, oblique.

The life I lived, working in a corporate environment, made me less female than I instinctively would have been. Being outside of that for a period of time makes me feel as if I have adjusted my balance in some way. Become more what I naturally am.

As much as I like men for their directness, their out-there quality, their aggression ... I just don't want to be that obvious. It feels more natural to be recessive ... not devoid of sexuality or, even better, sensuality, but not male about it.

I very much like being different from men. There's a surface tension that's enhanced when women aren't faux males ... but females.

What a luxury that is, to be exactly who you are. A gift.

Today's fragrance: (and did you notice, Bonnard's Bather seems to be applying scent) DelRae Debut with its light whiteflower sweetness ... I still am not certain about the linden but the lily of the valley is certainly right there with me. A clean, bright fragrance with some green to it, too. Bergamot, maybe.


Pardon me, Miss? In the MAC Parrot Eyeshadow ...

Congratulations, Annie!

For mention of your blog -- Blogdorf Goodman -- in today's New York Times!

All the style that's fit to blog ... click on Blogdorf Goodman (link right)!

Also mentioned by the NYT as a scent seer to watch? That perfumista par excellence, Robin at Now Smell This! (link right) Go Robin, Go Robin!

Apologies to anyone whose comment got dumped ... I lost them when I juggled the template to get the sidebar back. Sorry!

Floating Anxiety

The answer is: a still from an opening scene of Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo." Now was "Vertigo" black and white? This looks digitalized (you can see faint pixel-type marks) and there's seems to be color ... so maybe a colorized digitalized version of "Vertigo" via Google Image? (Can you see I'm dancing to avoid any objections?) Thank you for your answers ... Rorschach is right!

What is worse? What is real, or what we imagine can happen?

If thoughts predispose events, it would be a good idea to keep our minds out of dark alleys, wouldn't it?

And if anybody can tell me where this photo is from, you will win my everlasting admiration. No prize. But much admiration.

Give up yet? I'll tell you tomorrow. *come on, somebody knows what this is*

Today's fragrance: Keiko Mecheri Mogador. Deep rich rose, maybe a cousin to SL Rose de Nuit. In a different and fragrance-related note, clearing's new blog -- appropriately named Clearingesque (link right) -- offers an indepth explanation of the vanillas used in her perfumery. It's interesting.


Thank You from All of Us

Last week I commented on Urban Chick's blog: "I sincerely hope we are not asking poor nations to help us at this time ... for our own sense of nationhood. We have been the ones who came to help in different, more noble times ... I hope we have not come to the point of being supplicants to an international community who for the most part, and some with good reason, seem to detest us. For our own good, we need to have more pride than that."

But ...

I cry easily and often, but this information from MSNBC this morning again brought me to tears: m
ore than 60 nations have reached out to help New Orleans ... and America.

From Germany, 25 tons of food rations and more on the way.

Mexico (EDIT): A convoy of 45 vehicles and 196 soldiers of the Mexico Army, including military specialists, doctors, nurses and engineers carrying water treatment plants, mobile kitchens, food and blankets arrived today to help refugee operations in San Antonio, Texas; this is the first Mexican military unit to operate on U.S. soil since 1846.

From France, Red Cross workers flew to Baton Rouge to join in the relief effort.

Afghanistan pledged a hundred thousand dollars.

Singaporeans are now flying rescue helicopters over New Orleans.

Sri Lanka, who took so much of the brunt of the tsunami, offered $25,000 to the Red Cross (I hope we didn't take it).

As much as we are grateful for the tangibles, I think we can be even more grateful to not be alone, to be a member of a community of nations. Not the rescuer this time, but the one being helped.

Thank you.

Today's fragrance, continued: Roses break my heart. Because we're usually so temperate, they can bloom year round in Seattle. So you'll round a corner in February and see a rosebud. A gray, cold, wet day and you see a shivering promise of summer warmth. This scent by clearing -- pour une saison -- is a bit like that. It would be wonderful to have around this winter, a reminder that summer returns and it will be warm again. Pepper heat verging on sweetness. And ginger, hot but sweet. Those are the secrets of this scent: hot, hot, hot, folded tightly within rose petals. One more secret, the sweet dry hint of chamomile in its broom note. When you don't expect it and will need it most: sweet heat. For a season.

How I Accessorized in Third Grade

(red plaid Aladdin lunchbox and thermos)

Ok, now imagine a perm, pink socks and saddle oxfords. *shudder*


Jean-Michel Folon is a Genius

Would you mind looking at this -- his idea of what the Rocky Mountains look like -- while I think of something to say?

Thanks so much ...

Ah, thanks for waiting:

"I do not understand my images, and anyone is free to understand them as he wishes. I have only tried to depict my own dreams with the hope that in them others may hang their own."
Jean-Michel Folon

Today's fragrance is ... c's Pour Une Saison, a peppery rose with broom that will take two days to understand. So today I'll tell you it's beautiful and tomorrow I'll tell you why.


In the Abstract

When I wear fragrance, I let my mind go -- I can and do find notes identified by someone else, but to experience scent, I let go of my thoughts.

Free associate.

I love perfume for that. As a meditative state.

You can go forward or backward ... either recognition of prior experience you associate with the scent or, if you're very aware of what surrounds you now, it will be the foundation of a scent memory to come.

Today's fragrance: Fleurs d'Oranger, is a scent I associate with India. It's the cumin and my association of that spice with curries, with teeming crowds, with the painful beauty of a culture that predates mine by millenia.

If this scent can be color, it is the turquoise and magenta of a sari I once received as a gift. Vivid colors dancing slowly, yards of fabric gracefully unwinding, even as scent wafts through my awareness, moving gently around my wrists and shoulders.

The cumin always comes to me first, even before the sweet florality of orange blossom, white jasmine, Indian tuberose (ah), white rose.

Citrus peel leavens the density of the orange blossom, maybe makes it a little less sweet. I take it on faith that hibiscus seed and nutmeg have been added, because I don't recognize them.

But always first, and recurring through the life of the scent, is cumin. A sweet/sour smell so similar to that of our bodies. Scent reminder of the never completely masked mortal state.

Serge Lutens' Fleurs d'Oranger


Need to See Something Beautiful Right Now

This (was) Helen Frankenthaler's Mountains and Sea, 1952.

For posts featuring Eric Clapton, David Brooks, the apocalypse or George & Gracie, please scroll down.


When The Wind Blows Down This Hard

When the wind blows down this hard,
Many a bond is broken.
See the water lie on the ground
From where the heavens opened.

Lord, how will you get through this night
With your dreams departed?
And who alone will comfort you?
Only the broken hearted.

So you’ve gone beyond your means,
Every wound is open,
Your best laid plans are out of reach,
And all your fears unspoken.

Sweet revenge is spoken then;
In the twilight it is gone.
To living lies with no escape,
Lord, I would rather be alone.

I press my fingers to the wood
To tell you of my dreaming,
To sing you songs from olden times,
To keep the love light gleaming.

’cause there’s a place where we can go,
Where we will not be parted.
And who alone will enter there?
Only the broken hearted.

Only the broken, broken hearted.

Eric Clapton

Falling In Love Again

Mine is the love that dares not speak its name ... the love of a liberal-and-proud-of-it woman for the conservative former Wall Street Journal columnist-Weekly Standard editor/ current New York Times columnist and author, David Brooks.

Oh, we've had our hard times -- like his insistent support for neocon policies -- and most recently been significantly estranged.

But he drew me back in one fell swoop last night ... as I watched him on the PBS News Hour with Jim Lehrer.

Oh, David.

JIM LEHRER: David you said in a column this week that natural disasters, like Hurricane Katrina, exposed the basic fault lines in American society. Your thesis, please sir?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, what you get is these meteorological storms and then these political storms because in the moments of extremis people see who's up and who's down, who's at fault and who is suffering.

For example, in 1897 there was the famous Johnstown Flood, a pond owned by millionaires including Andrew Carnegie flooded the town of Johnstown. The public anger over that helped spawn the Progressive Movement.

Then in 1927 you had the great Mississippi Flood, which flooded New Orleans. And there you had great demand for the government to get involved in disaster relief which had not happened much before then. And that helped lead the way to the New Deal.

You also had the situation where the town fathers flooded some of the poorer and middle class areas to relieve some of the pressure on the rest of the city and then reneged on their promises for compensation for the people who had their homes destroyed. The anger over that, helped lead to the rise of Huey Long, the populist governor.

So in moments of extremis, people see the power inequalities, the poor suffering, the rich benefiting and then they react. And so you get these political reactions.

JIM LEHRER: And okay, now, move it to Hurricane Katrina and what we are seeing down there now.

DAVID BROOKS: I think it is a huge reaction we are about to see. I mean, first of all, they violated the social fabric, which is in the moments of crisis you take care of the poor first. That didn't happen; it's like leaving wounded on the battlefield.

So there is just -- in 9/11 you had a great surge of public confidence. Now I think we are going to see a great decline in public confidence in our institutions. And so I just think this is sort of the anti-9/11 as one of the bloggers wrote.

JIM LEHRER: And you think, David, they will think about them, not just about those folks in New Orleans but the whole country now? You think that's a possibility that this has exposed more than just New Orleans?

DAVID BROOKS: This is -- first of all it is a national humiliation to see bodies floating in a river for five days in a major American city. But second, you have to remember, this was really a de-legitimization of institutions.

Our institutions completely failed us and it is not as if it is the first in the past three years -- this follows Abu Ghraib, the failure of planning in Iraq, the intelligence failures, the corporate scandals, the media scandals.

We have had over the past four or five years a whole series of scandals that soured the public mood.

You've seen a rise in feeling the country is headed in the wrong direction.

And I think this is the biggest one and the bursting one, and I must say personally it is the one that really says hey, it feels like the '70s now where you really have a loss of faith in institutions. Let's get out of this mess.

And I really think this is so important as a cultural moment, like the blackouts of 1977, just people are sick of it.

To reiterate the point I made earlier, which is this is the anti-9/11, just in terms of public confidence, when 9/11 happened Giuliani was right there and just as a public presence, forceful -- no public presence like that now.

So you have had a surge of strength, people felt good about the country even though we had been hit on 9/11.

Now we've been hit again in a different way; people feel lousy; people feel ashamed and part of that is because of the public presentation. In part that is because of the failure of Bush to understand immediately the shame people felt.

Sitting up there on the airplane and looking out the window was terrible. And the three days of doing nothing, really, on Bush was terrible. And even today, I found myself, as you know, I support his politics quite often.


DAVID BROOKS: Looking at him today earlier in the program, this is how Mark Shields must feel looking at him, I'm angry at the guy and maybe it will pass for me. But a lot of people and a lot of Republicans are furious right now.



An Ill Wind Blowing

Reading so many people's blogs today, what struck out at me was the use of the word apocalyptic in much more than one instance.

I wonder if there is some subliminal sense in our national psyche that we are being warned.

Warned about arrogance in our sense of economic entitlement ($3.00 a gallon? How dare they?! When Europeans pay upward of $5.00 a gallon and use less per capita) ...

Warned of the karma of preemptive attacks (our first occurred two years ago, and a shameful event it has turned out to be) ...

Warned about our poor stewardship of the earth, this home we were given ...

Warned that nations attempting to become empires have always heretofore ended up a pile of rocks and/or historic memory ...

But are we capable of heeding a warning? Or are we only capable of staying the course?


George and Gracie

Don't stay in bed, unless you can make money in bed.

Everything that goes up must come down. But there comes a time when not everything that's down can come up.

Happiness is having a large, loving, caring close-knit family in another city.

Happiness is a good martini, a good meal, a good cigar and a good woman . . . or a bad woman, depending on how much happiness you can stand.

Today's fragrance: c's Fine Stagione. I spent the day making friends with this gentle, unsettling fragrance of pepper and almond and ... a soft jasmine drydown. Really, we're very close now. I think this is the type of fragrance that becomes a cult classic. Seriously. Because it's so asymmetric. You just don't expect what's going on in there until you're told ... and scentwise, you're surprised at how amazing it turns out.

Small Sips From Many Cups

Along with many Americans at a distance from the hellish events in the Deep South and Iraq, I feel sad and angry and hopeless and, and -- generally at odds with my humanness.

Maybe it's survivor guilt. Why them? Why not me? Why can't I do something? Why can't I do more? Why them? Why not me?

To me, it's a blessing -- although I guess some would curse me -- to be a theological dilettante.

I attended a Catholic elementary school and received early, rudimentary education in that faith -- some of which -- particularly a love for the Virgin and the saints -- has never left me, testament to the strength of that indoctrination.

I was a Protestant minister's daughter (let's make that stepdaughter, and this one I fought all the way) forced to attend services for years (ask me about smoking in the choir loft and that hit-and-run in the church parking lot).

I received two years of rabbinic instruction in Judaism before my Reform conversion more than twenty years ago.

I've had a lifelong affinity for Buddhism, with its instructional unanswerable questions.

Add a healthy respect for quantum physics and a mind open to "intelligent design." (Although, please. I still choose evolution over the First Seven Days).

So I have many cups to drink from when I'm in pain. And I took at least a sip from nearly all of them this week.

My point? I'm still hurting. Along with everybody else. My faith isn't strong enough to forestall it.

All I can do is suspend myself above this, remind myself that I can take care of those close to me ... and hope that there is some meaning to all this, some meaning we can't grasp as we gaze through this glass, darkly.

edit: after more hours of watching coverage of New Orleans' suffering, I'm so aware of how precious this post could sound and how I've got nothing to say about pain. Pray to God these people get the help they need, and soon.