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


Who Gets To Change the Sign?

Soren New Yorker cartoon of church with sign in front: "God's Wrath Level: High."



This painting is a favorite of my stepson ... and I love the way Edward Hopper makes you feel what it was like during the war, in the empty city, early morning, after the bar closed.

Nighthawks Edward Hopper 1942


of Substance

Now I think I'm actually doing homework to keep from writing a substantive blogpost.

Substantive. That's actually what I wanted to write about. Substance.

I spent six (of my best) years once and twice a week in a psychiatrist's office talking about how insubstantial I felt.

I was a writer who wrote insubstantial copy about (at varying times) hospitals, buses, health insurance, ultrasound imaging, cardiologists, health insurance again, buses again.

And I was pretty sure I accomplished nothing with that golden prose. But the energy spent trying to convince myself that it all was worth something would have lit all the bulbs in a mid-size city.

So much energy devoted to delusion. That my marriage was worth it, that my work was worth it, that my life was worth it.

Looking back now, over the vast distance spanning who I am now and what I was then proves ... that nagging sense that none of it was worth anything ... was the truth.

I lived a shadow life. I knew it, but yet I struggled to hang onto it for so long. So long that, in the case of my marriage, my psychiatrist actually asked me, more than once, "Why? Why did you stay so long?"

Because sometimes you are so afraid of what you don't know that hanging on to what you do know means survival. And I was fighting to survive.

I'm one of the lucky ones. Whose mentality shoved her past subsistence. I could not get comfortable in life. I could not rest within my skin, until I shed that skin.

And I knew it was going to hurt plenty. And I knew it was going to be ugly. And I knew I would have to let go of everything that kept me warm, and that I would be alone, and in the cold, and alone. Alone.

I cracked. The skin shook loose. And slowly, slowly, I stepped out of it, as one would walk out of clothes you'd just discarded.

And it was cold. And I was alone. And I was terrified a great deal of the time.

But I was becoming alive again. And slowly, slowly I began to get more of a sense of my own substance, however scarred, however flawed.

And I was hurt by some, and comforted by some, and protected by some and ... eventually, loved again, by some.

Tonight, as I spill these words onto the digital page, I am more solid than I have ever been. And if you're reading these words, and you feel, or have ever felt, less than solid, please take comfort from what I am saying. You can crack, and shed, and step away and step back.

Believe me. (And I wrote this to remind myself.)

sculpture: constantin brancusi


A Young Artist: First Place

Please join me in congratulating clearing's middle daughter on her recent FIRST PLACE AWARD for this drawing!!! *the publishers should use this book jacket immediately!* *don't miss the Tolkien-esque language at the borders! is that Hobbit-speak?*

I'm sure your Mom, Dad and sisters are proud of you!

I am, too!

It's beautiful, C.


Do You Believe in Magic?

I do. *poof!* Everybody who bugged me this week is GONE!

Today's fragrance: at clearing's suggestion, SL Chergui.


Old Age & Treachery; Youth & Skill

I would love to regale you with school tales, but I'm thinking really evil thoughts and do not want to pull a dooce ... that blogger error where one spills one's guts only to have said entrails read by the party about whom one was spilling offal (awful, get it? heh.).

Let me just say that just because I missed four on that last quiz does not mean I am giving quarter. I will memorize those four damn answers and, when I am dying, will be able to recite that information ON MY DEATHBED.

I can't tell you how much I HATE BEING WRONG.

But maybe you're sensing it.

Bucky Has Canine Flu

BUCKY UPDATE! He's eating! He managed to eat two eggs and two pieces of toast! His eyes are still a bit rheumy, but at least he's not so lethargic. Your good thoughts are working! thank you.


He caught it at the dogpark on Sunday, we think. *a warning to other Seattle dog owners* *and if your dog has symptoms, please be kind enough to keep your dog away from others s/he could infect*

If you have a minute today, will you please think good thoughts for him? He doesn't feel very well.



Bonny Swan

Nearly ten years ago, I lived in the Madison Park district of Seattle, on the city's largest lake.
Often there were geese (too many) in the lake ... but, at least once, looking out my window, I saw a swan.

I listened to a lot of sad Celtic music then, and this, an adaptation by the singer Loreena McKennitt, was one of my favorites:

The Bonny Swan

A farmer there lived in the north country
And he had daughters one, two, three
These daughters they walked by the river's brim
The eldest pushed the youngest in

The swans swim so bonny o

Oh sister, oh sister, pray lend me your hand
And I will give you house and land
I'll give you neither hand nor glove
Unless you give me your own true love

the swans swim so bonny o

Sometimes she sank, sometimes she swam
Until she came to a miller's dam

the swans swim so bonny o

The miller's daughter, dressed in red
She went for some water to make some bread

Oh father, oh daddy, here swims a swan
It's very like a gentle woman
They placed her on the bank to dry
There came a harper passing by

the swans swim so bonny o

He made harp pins of her fingers fair
He made harp strings of her golden hair
He made a harp of her breast bone
And straight it began to play alone

the swans swim so bonny o

He brought it to her father's hall
And there was the court, assembled all
He laid the harp upon a stone
And straight it began to play alone

the swans swim so bonny o

And there does sit my father the King
And yonder sits my mother the Queen
And there does sit my brother Hugh
And by him William, sweet and true

And there does sit my false sister, Anne
Who drowned me for the sake of a man.

the swans swim so bonny o

We Get No Respect

*Aspersions cast on bloggers in a recent Wiley's Non Sequitur. Ah well*


Churchill on Women

Recent New York Times coverage noted that the British National Archives has released Churchill commentary that includes minutes of his wartime cabinet meetings, as recorded by Sir Norman Brook, the deputy cabinet secretary.

Some of his thoughts on women, from March 19, 1945:

"I didn't like the idea of their entering Parliament but it turned out better than I feared. Concede the theory and you have no trouble in practice. ...

You can use women in AA [antiaircraft] batteries: why not in Foreign Service? ...

Anything in law to prevent a woman becoming a judge?"

Or how about a president, Prime Minister?

In Seattle, We Are A Quiet People

Tasteful, literary, introspective.



Seahawks Go To The Superbowl!

Wow. Small town team makes good.

Today's fragrance: Serge Lutens A La Nuit, as I continue to look for spring in a bottle. Notes (per bela) of Egyptian, Indian and Moroccan Jasmine (green shoots), clove, white honey, benzoin and musk.

Best Last Words Department:
"Dying is easy. Comedy is difficult."
Edmund Gwenn (1875-1959)
An English stage actor, originally discovered by George Bernard Shaw, Gwenn became a Hollywood star in his middle age and won an Oscar as best supporting actor in Miracle on 34th Street as Santa Claus.


*Augmented* Nostalgia as Blogfodder

Ok, this is Danae, the little Goth in Wiley's NonSequiter cartoon strip, talking to her ancient relative, a ghost. Who drinks a lot. They're talking about blogs.

Today's fragrance: what's left of the sweet cedar-y-ness of 10 Corso Como until I put something on top of it. I have a weird craving for something with evening-out glamour like SL Datura Noir. Which would totally work against my in-sweatpants-studying-legal-research ambiance ... which is maybe why I need it. addendum: notes of Datura Noir per bela's notepad: white Datura, tonka bean, musk, bitter almond, tuberose, heliotrope, myrrh, apricot, coconut, Chinese osmanthus, mandarin peel, lemon blossom, vanilla. With all the other great notes, I'm willing to ignore the coconut.

Best Last Words Department:
Gertrude Stein (1874-1946)
"What is the question?"
An American writer famous for her experimental prose, Ms. Stein lived most of her life in Paris with her companion Alice B. Toklas. When Stein was dying of cancer, she turned to Ms.Toklas and whispered, "What is the answer?" No response. Stein nodded and spoke the words above.


Spring Will Come


Journalist Jill Carroll

Ideology separates us; dreams and anguish bring us together.



It's Cary Grant's Birthday

"The Legend and the Ladies."

What a classic.

What style.

What a great rags-to-riches story.

(What an ancient magazine cover.)


Happy 300th, Ben

Is it just me, or does he look like Doug over at Waking Ambrose?

A Message from Bucky

This is the Girl of His Dreams. Her name is Icy and she lives at My Dogs' Daze
If you visit, please tell her Bucky and Mireille sent you.


Pride (In the Name of Love)

One man come in the name of love/
One man come and go/
One man come, he to justify/
One man to overthrow

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

One man caught on a barbed wire fence
One man he resist
One man washed up on an empty beach.
One man betrayed with a kiss

In the evening, April 4
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

Martin Luther King 1929 - 1968

photo: 10,000 people march down Denny Way in Seattle, Washington on April 7, 1968 to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


You Want Another 28 Days? Keep the Cap.

Right now I am looking intently at a one-inch patch of reddened skin on my wrist which may be my eczema in a new location OR IT MAY BE NECROTIZING FASCIITIS!!!

This is what it's like when I study. I'm sitting at my desk, dutifully transcribing notes and

my. mind. wanders.

For a while it wandered to the right side of my head, where my right eye was looking at the Colts/Steelers game. We lost a bottle-of-scotch bet last night when the Pats bit the dust. And I kind of wanted the Colts to win it, just for Tony Dungy's sake. But those Steelers are mean. And big. They remind me of the Raiders. I don't like the Raiders. They are the Seahawks' nemesis, although apparently not this year.

See. This is what happens. My mind just takes off.

I need to get back to my IP notes.

But my wrist itches. I wonder if it really is necrotizing fasciitis. Maybe I'll go google necrotizing fasciitis ... I like saying it: necrotizing fasciitis ... necrotizing fasciitis ... necrotizing fasciitis ...

Today's fragrance: My last three drops of Ormonde Jayne's genius creation of rose and saffron, Ta'if (ahh, Maller, the monster you created). *puts head down on desk and sobs* *fantasizes about receiving huge bottle of Ta'if and all its ancillary scent products for graduation present*

Best Last Words Department:
Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922)
Bell fell in love with and married one of his deaf students, Mabel Hubbard. When Bell was stricken with a fatal illness and lay dying, Mabel whispered to him, "Don't leave me." He signed into her palm: "No."


Snow White


Isn't He Lovely?

I understand Grumpy.

And now I have my own little version of him, perched above my computer. Where he makes value judgments on everyone, and on everything I do. Yes!

Thank you, J!

Today's fragrance: Christian Dior Hypnotic Poison ... because it looks just like the poisoned apple of Snow White ... but smells better. *Hm. Bitter almond. Vanilla. Poisoned Apple. Hm.*


Developing Paralegal Curricula

("Do you have any picture books that could help a child understand tort reform?")


So. Is It Supposed to Rain Some More?

Kind of a not-so-funny joke, here in the Rainy City where we're used to it. But 24 days in a row?

Our webbed feet are mossy.

And today I forgot to wear perfume.

I know, not a large deal by global standards. But I found myself feeling a little panicky ... until I caught a whiff of Regina Harris Rose Maroc wafting up toward me. I looked around wildly and thought I was hallucinating (pretty bad when you need perfume that badly) until I realized it was my watchband! My leather watchband absorbed some of the oil the last time I wore it ...

Whew. That was close.

painting: Raining Cats and Salmon by Alden Mason


I Heart All of You

Thank you so much for the encouragement. I don't get to reply to each of you, but I read all your comments and advice. And appreciate it.


Today's "I'm Glad It Wasn't Me" Comment

45 year-old male sitting in back of Bankruptcy Law class, upon hearing that a pre-filing memorandum is due Wednesday, asks -- in condescending tone -- of 37 year-old female attorney-instructor: "Don't you think it's a little early in the term to be giving us our first assignment?"

I didn't make this up.

Jiminy Cricket School of Stress Management

Whenever I feel afraid/
I hold my head erect/
And whistle a happy tune/
So no one will suspect/
I'm afraid.

While shivering in my shoes/
I strike a careless pose/
And whistle a happy tune/
And no one ever knows/
I'm afraid.

The result of this deception
Is very strange to tell
For when I fool the people I fear
I fool myself as well!

I whistle a happy tune
And ev'ry single time
The happiness in the tune
Convinces me that
I'm not afraid.

Make believe you're brave
And the trick will take you far.
You may be as brave
As you make believe you are!

You may be as brave
As you make believe you are!

Today's fragrance: a wonderful dupe of Donna Karan's discontinued Chaos, by Sonoma Scent Studio. Great wintery spice/woods scent to warm me up.


PLEASE Let Me Get Caught Up on My Reading


Wanted: Perfume Critic

Pearls Before Swine cartoon in which rat is applying to be a critic


Lou Rawls 1934 - 2006

Today's Fragrance: In honor of the great rock/blues/jazz singer ... DK Black Cashmere, because it reminds me of his voice. Deep, deep cut-velvet. Spice and woods with an edge. Smooth. Essence of finesse.

Is It Possible for Pat Robertson to FURTHER Embarrass Himself?

Pat Robertson has issued a statement saying Ariel Sharon's massive stroke is God's wrath.

I wonder how God feels about Robertson asserting he knows what constitutes the will of God.

Sounds like wretched hubris to me.

“It is outrageous and shocking, but not surprising, that Pat Robertson once again has suggested that God will punish Israel’s leaders for any decision to give up land to the Palestinians,” said Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the [Anti-Defamation League], which fights anti-Semitism. “His remarks are un-Christian and a perversion of religion. Unlike Robertson, we don’t see God as cruel and vengeful.”

Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said a religious leader “should not be making callous political points while a man is struggling for his life.”

Think what you like of Ariel Sharon -- and I have had ambivalence about his earlier policies and great hope for his Kadima party in its infancy -- but please don't tell me you know what God intends.


State of Mind

Have no idea whether this is any good ... it just captures the feeling I currently have of THERE IS TOO MUCH TO DO AND NOT ENOUGH TIME IN WHICH TO DO IT.

I'm sure my equilibrium will soon be reestablished. Please check back.

*And now that I'm looking more closely at the CD cover, I'm hoping he isn't doing anything illicit. That better be a vitamin.*


12 Dead Miners

The miners hadn't been "allowed" to organize a union.

In the past two years, the mine was cited 273 times for safety violations, of which about a third were classified as "significant and substantial," according to documents compiled by the Labor Department's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).

Pray for the dead miners ... and for workers being "allowed" to organize for safe working conditions.

photography: REUTERS Haraz N. Ghanbari


MY Intellectual Property

Today I saunter in ... well, as much sauntering as one can when rolling a bookbag-on-wheels *elegant* *I don't care. It means my left arm doesn't go numb anymore*... to enjoy my first class of the new term: Intellectual Property.

I had the instructor for Civil Procedure last term, so he will no doubt rejoice to see me. *heh*

I can be counted on to slouch at one of the back tables, stuff strewn around to establish my territory (I do not want any pierced child with purple hair taking advantage of my excellent note-taking ability) and make the occasional stunningly astute comment proving I did not yet read the chapter.

I will once again stringently enforce the dour look on my face that keeps away requests for notesharing (see pierced purple-haired child) or any attempt on that wayward child's part to find a surrogate mother who takes excellent notes.

I look forward to reporting back to you.


Back to School


She's Down. She's Up!

Nothing says the party's over like taking down the tree.

The worst part is when it's all denuded and gets lugged out to the curb for pickup.

And you look up and down the street at the abandoned relics, with maybe a little tinsel blowing in the breeze, reminding us it's all over for another year.


*Perks Up!*

Valentine's Day is in just six weeks! And perfume is the perfect V-Day gift!

Best Last Words Department:
"It's been a long time since I've had champagne."
Anton Chekhov (1860-1904)


Resolution: Transparency

In the fever of the holidays, and the drained-dry end of last term in school, I haven't been really writing for the blog. There's writing and there's writing. Hopefully, here is some writing.

I'm thinking about fear, its ugly stepsister shame, and their role in motivation.

I'm beginning another -- my last -- quarter of school, which should result in a new career. And I'm understandably anxious over the big chunk of credits I'm biting off in order to get done faster.

But "anxious" really is a camouflage word for fear.

I won't fail in the coursework. Unless something really untoward happens, I will do well. Probably very well. But at what emotional cost? To me and the ones close to me?

I had built into me a high threshold for accomplishment. And in the years of my midlife crisis, that period from my mid-forties until now -- I am fifty-four -- I systematically, if subconsciously, dismantled a great deal of that structure that held me together.

A marriage, a career, societal expectations surrounding money, how you get it, how much of it you need, how you use what you get -- and societal expectations surrounding who I am to other people, how I value them, ways I behave toward them, what I owe to those I love.

I've posted before about being "in the dark room," that period I now believe I existed in for most of my childhood, adolescence and adulthood. A time in which one is so self-absorbed, but so unaware of the way one is actually perceived, a deep lack of understanding of one's actual behavior and its true repercussions.

The plus of entering the light after being in the dark is, obviously, you see a lot more. The downside is that a lot of protective ignorance is stripped away. You have to face more truth about who and what you are or are not, and deal.

This scares me to death sometimes. The rawness of truth. The bare quality of being authentic.

I am so fortunate to be with a partner who has achieved more authenticity in his life and in his self than anyone I have ever known. He is transcendant -- although he will roll his eyes when he reads this.

I don't know exactly how he got there. He doesn't talk a great deal about it, but he does guide me toward means of accomplishing more transparency in my own life. Meditation is a big part of that and although I struggle with it, I am doing better at going inward and finding a peaceful, quiet place where I am no longer afraid.

Because I know now that it was fear all along that drove me to whatever had been accomplished in my prior life. Fear and a great deal of shame-driven energy that helped me mask who I was and what I really needed from everyone, including myself.
I'm not willing to use energy that way anymore. Of course I backslide into "what will they think" and "I need to do this to make sure they know what I'm worth ..." -- both illusory excuses for facing the truth about who you are and what you need to do. In terms of yourself, in terms of other people.

I resolve to stay out of the dark room and continue to face my fear -- defuse my shame -- in the light. To continue the work toward transparency.

And I wish all of you, my dear friends, a productive and loving New Year. In the light.

Welcome to the Year of the Dog ... says the Rabbit

Bucky has another thing to say to you and me: on Chinese New Year, January 29, it will be the Year of the Dog!

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

*Necessary aside: I was born in the Year of the Rabbit. As you well may know (the people on the Chinese culture site where I lifted this copy did), people born in the Year of the Rabbit are articulate, talented, and ambitious. They are virtuous, reserved, and have excellent taste. *and it goes on and on*

Rabbit, Rabbit!!