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


Mireille the Maleficent

I haven't been this angry ... since, oh ... my last marriage.

I'm trying to dilute this emotion by bleeding it off into a blogpost.

After all, what can be more confidential -- more private -- than sending a missile out into the cybersphere where my four or five readers can see how absolutely pissed I am.

No, I won't say about what. No, I won't say at whom. I am only going to try to describe what I'm feeling. So that I can stop feeling it. Because I know it's destructive. And I'm beginning to get an inkling that it's unreasonable. Which is NOT what I want to hear at this point.

It seems to center around my heart. A constrictive feeling in the musculature around my heart. And, also, my lips are tight. My whole face feels tight. My whole body feels stiff. This is what anger does, it must cut off bloodflow to whole scenic vistas of your body.

And this is after I tried to loosen up by taking Bucky on the Bataan Death March around the neighborhood. At least he pooped.

After I have issued the requisite verbal thunderbolts, there is something about being this angry that makes me question every relationship I own. A deeply wounded paranoia settles down around me and I hunker down into my silent, don't-touch-me foxhole, ready for a long siege.

This cannot be good for me. And it certainly isn't good for who I'm mad at.

Today's fragrance: [WHAT.] Montale Ginger Musk and I think babelfish says it all: "One surprising departure of semi-sparkling ginger associated blackberry and the white musk on red fruit bottom." Oh, hell. And Suki was right: it won't come off.


Chanel: "A Fashion That Does Reach The Streets Is Not Fashion."

My friend clearing, Wyoming's preeminent perfumer (and I don't use that term lightly), has a tendency toward classic fragrances. I'm always looking for the weird ones and she's always gently steering me toward the good taste icons.

Chief among those icons is the Chanel fragrance collection:
No. 5

Allure Sensuelle
Coco Mademoiselle
No. 19
No. 22
Rue Cambon Collection (Gardenia, Cuir de Russie, Bois des Iles)
Une Fleur de Chanel

Thanks to C, today I have Chanel no. 5 elixir sensuel on the right wrist, Chanel no. 22 on the left.

To me, the hallmark attribute of Chanel no. 5 (a fragrance introduced in 1921, the first and flagship fragrance of Coco Chanel) is the initial sharp scent pricking of the aldehydes, the "sparkling" component.

The fragrance vehicle in this case, an oil "elixir," actually softens the aldehydes, to my nose -- so the initial experience of the fragrance is more pleasurable than usual. The scent's other notes include jasmine, rose, ylang-ylang, iris, amber, patchouli. I have always most enjoyed the drydown of these types of fragrances and this type -- an oil -- seems to hasten the development of the scent to drydown much more quickly. Within an hour, I am very aware of the amber and patchouli. Beautiful.

Chanel 22 (I'm wearing the edt) was introduced in 1928 with notes of white roses, jasmine, tuberose, lily of the valley, lilac, orange blossom. Although this doesn't list aldehydes as a note, it is a sharp fragrance to me, and I know from experience it will remain so for quite a while. There is an almost citric quality on my skin. Acidic floral.

Not to say it isn't lovely -- but it is a fragrance that needs to be worn a while, at least on me, before I get into its comfort zone. I get there, though, and it's worth waiting.

Of the other Chanels I've tried, Chanel 19 has that same sharp quality -- in this case, a green sharpness -- that, too, softens beautifully ... Cristalle suits its name, a sharply sparkling scent that claims citrus as its base.

Virtually every one of the Chanels I've tried (and I've tried all but the Cuir de Russie and the Gardenia) has a variation on that sharpness, after which one is rewarded with a gorgeously soft drydown.

I need to get brave and revisit all of them. It'll be worth it.

And I have an urban fragrance tale for you:

I'm waiting for a bus on Seattle's scenic northend Aurora Avenue. My way of dealing with the slices of life with which one is inevitably confronted on Aurora is to slightly unfocus my eyes, go inward and think about expensive perfume.

I do notice that a little gangsta has sidled up beside me at the bus stop. Oversize ball cap turned backwards, baggy T shirt, loose pants riding low.

But ... *snif* ... is that perfume? I take a closer look at my little homey and she's a girl.

"Excuse me," I say politely. "Are you wearing perfume? Is that Chanel Chance?"

And the tiny fresh-faced hoodlum turns toward me and says, equally politely, "Oh no, ma'am. Not Chance. Tommy Girl."


In the Name of the Rose

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It is not very fashionable, au courant, hip, now, with it, happening, fly ... to be a rose fragrance lover. To many perfume aficionados, rose is so yesterday. On some, it manifests as the original Old Lady Fragrance. (AAACCCKKKKK! Composes self.)

Me, I love rose fragrances. I mean, I try to be discriminating ... but just about any slatternly overt rose fragrance can turn my head.

Of course, if it's a subtle and well balanced scent, ideally with some amber surfacing in it at some point, I'm even happier.

But I'm not that discriminating really.

So, this morning I pull out my box of rose samples (Lurid details: a large, square, tupperware-like container filled with florist foam, in which approximately 100 vials of scent are upended. And I have two more, just like this, with different kinds of perfume. Heh. That's like keeping a bunch of cats, isn't it. Well, I know people with a lot more cats. I mean, samples.)

I close my eyes, stick my hand in and pull out ... Keiko Mecheri Mogador.

The notes? Turkish rose, Bulgarian rose, Dades rose absolute AND night blooming jasmine. (I truly hope no day blooming jasmine found its way in here.)

It's nice. It's simple. It's an uncomplicated (to my simple nose) sweetly rosy scent cut through at the end with jasmine.

I think this was one of my "looking for love in all the wrong places" attempts to find Rich Hippie Wild Thing for less than $600 a bottle.

And this is very, very nice. Not Wild Thing. But nice.

I continue my search, but I'm smelling good as I do it. What can I tell you? I'm a rose-lovin' fool.


Heat Wave

Seattle is having one of its rare spells of sun and heat ... in the eighties yesterday, into the nineties today.

I've lived in the tropics but that's a long memory. I'd forgotten what it is to wake up early with your muscles loose, your damp hair sticking to your temples and neck ... thirsty because it's already warm, warm, warm.

Last night it was so sticky as I went to bed, that I rummaged around looking for some cooling fragrance ... and came up with Divine Homme d'Coeur.

It's a symptom of how astute other fragrance reviewers are, that in this morning's after-the-fact search for words to describe this fragrance, I learned that iris/orris is the predominant note, followed by cypress -- the cypress I discerned as a piney reminiscence of RL Polo (green).

But this noble fragrance is not Polo ... it does not bludgeon you into submission, although initially you are very aware of its presence. It was a mistaken choice for me ... as clean and sharp as it is in the beginning, it belongs on a man and I fell to sleep feeling kind of transgendered. (A subconscious salute to Gay Pride Day -- yesterday -- I guess.)

This weekend, we did our salute to Geopolitics In Cinema ... and viewed both Syriana and Munich. Mideast carnage from the seventies to the present. From a prone-to-depression standpoint, I suggest you not do this. In these films, no one comes out looking good. And there is more exploding blood per square celluloid centimeter (I made up the celluloid part) than you ever want to see.

Unfortunately, both are more realistic, more reflective of the world we live in, than I wish were the case.

Twice in recent television commentary, I've heard the 8th century referred to as the apex of Islamic militants' worldview. That they wish to return us to that golden era of the Caliphate, where men were men and women knew their place.

Both these films show the high price western civilization is paying, both in penance for not working to bring the Islamic destitute the economic benefits of our golden era, and in blood as we push back at the violent representatives of resentful hordes that apparently feel moving backward -- thirteen centuries -- is their best option.

God -- and there is One God [Adonai Elohenu, Adonai Echad] -- help us all.

Today's fragrance (What? I might as well smell good as the world falls apart.): Cerrutti 1881. A clean, powdery, faintly grapefruity scent. Translates well on me. Second thoughts: there's no grapefruit in this! According to Jan Moran, the notes are bergamot, violt, mimosa, freesia, jasmine, orange blossom, geranium, coriander, rosewood, chamomile, sandalwood, musk, ambrette. No grapefruit! What's violt? Oh. Bet it's violet.


Waiting for Godot

I have never been quite sure what the Beckett play Waiting for Godot was actually supposed to mean. But I have always associated it with a state of suspension. Which, I suppose, is what life is. A state of being sandwiched between nothingness.

When one is in nether-state, neither here nor there, it can be uncomfortable. Or it can be restful as death ... you are waiting for something, you are not sure what, you have nothing to do but watch for the unfolding that heralds a new state of being.

Ambivalence is host emotion for this suspended state. Because you are unwilling or unable to generate energy needed to propel you into one or another quality of being, you abdicate to stasis.

And wait. And watch.

artwork by ceramicist Hanneke Leenders


Feel the Love

Oh, snif, JVS. So sweet. xoxo


Summer Solstice

Today I join Wiccans (and those who are Wiccans-at-heart) in celebration of Litha -- Midsummer -- triumph of light over darkness!

The longest day of the year in this hemisphere, feast day of St. John the Baptist, traditional time to harvest your medicinal herbs and gather your magickal water! Full moon in this month is the Honey Moon ... and a perfect time to make mead.*

Also *whisper*: my birthday. Which has already been wonderful, thanks to Jim and my dear friends.

Age, and wisdom if you're lucky, is a gift from God. I'm grateful.

Today's fragrance: a birthday gift from Jim, Donna by Lorenzo Villoresi. Spicy, clean rose with some of the green stem underneath. Just beautiful. Thank you.

*many thanks to the witch, Lady Bridget, for this information.


Kilts. Not Just For Mel Gibson Anymore.

Seattle is home to Utilikilts, one of the only -- if not the only -- kilt manufacturer in the greater Pacific Northwest.

I think they're nifty, and feel that the world could only be improved by increased kilt wearage by the brawny sex. I mean males.

So, in a spirit of helpfulness, I bring you Utilikilt's Top Ten Reasons for Wearing a Kilt:

"1) Because throughout history, men have worn un-bifurcated garments.
2) Because if women had an appendage hanging between their legs, we guarantee you they wouldn’t be wearing pants.
3) Freedom, and increased mobility.
4) You only go around once, so why shouldn’t you be as comfortable as possible?
5) All men deserve air conditioning in the summer. You will chafe no more.
6) No more adjust, right side, left side… Say goodbye to wedgies.
7) A word about the pockets: Unlike pants, the Utilikilt’s pockets are only sewn down on top, so that they move with the garment but not with your leg. No more bulky crap contorting the shape of your leg. The Workman can carry an entire six pack.

8) You don’t have to wear your cell phone on your belt. With the Workman kilt, you don’t need a tool belt (for lighter stuff.)
9) The Utilikilt is made in the USA. You are supporting local industry. Your mojo will thank you.

10) Easy access ...

Fringe benefits:
A. Physical: Your virility may increase. You will experience the pleasing sensation of air conditioning.

B. Mental: Wearing a kilt shows a sense of security with yourself, and you will inspire much debate in others.
C. Spiritual: Without physical constrictions, your burden will be lighter, your sense of freedom less impaired, and your sense of yourself, will have room to grow."

Reading this wisdom from Utilikits, I think we can all agree ... these are words to get comfortable with. Go ahead. Get one. We'll all be happier.


An Apology to Musc Ravageur

I am SO sorry (throws self across bed like hysterical teenager). I was SO wrong.

I have actually said I smelled NOTHING from you. WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.

Last night I spilled a whole vial of you on me and, by God, I finally know what all the talk is about.

I have had the epiphany. YOU ARE AMAZING.

Here it is, twelve hours later and I'm still redolent with the bergamot, tangerine and cinnamon, the vanilla, musk and amber.

Jim gives it a solid 7 out of 10 and he is a harsh critic. Me, in light of past bad behavior, I GIVE YOU A NINE.

Your Skin But Better. Your Skin But Glamorous. Your Skin if You Were Myrna Loy. Hand Me That Martini.

Musc Ravageur by Maurice Roucel for Editions Frederic Malle.


In Theory, Yes.

To every man who took the role seriously, who was there when your child needed you, who made sure your child was free from want, free from fear...
To the real fathers, who made it about much more than insemination, whoever you may be ...

Happy Father's Day.


Living Lightly

Sometimes when people come at me too fast, or too hard, or I'm in the vicinity of individuals who are so obviously on the make, acquisitive, grasping, aggressive in their viewpoints and eager to persuade -- no, roll over -- me ... my hackles absolutely rise.

I can feel the fine down on the back of my neck go up, and I understand exactly how Bucky feels if a stranger comes into his yard.

I don't know if my territoriality in terms of needing psychic space is unusual, or if others have this same kind of requirement for a certain distance between them and others ... but I was hyperaware of it this week, when I kept lunch appointments in what we Seattleites like to call downtown.

You know, Seattle is urban, but it isn't that urban. We're a city, but not a metropolis ... and yet, there is such a difference in the feel of the inner city versus outlying neighborhoods.

It's different in the way people move, the density of traffic, the pace of activity. I spent some time today in Pike Place Market, ordinarily one of my favorite places in town. A farmers market, it is so colorful, there is so much to see, to buy, to eat ... so much going on. But today, it was just rife with tourists. Wall to wall with people who probably felt the way I did when I first visited Pike Place, kind of overwhelmed and overstimulated. The place buzzed at a faintly uncomfortable pitch. I didn't enjoy it so much.

I wish they could see it on a rainy day in winter. That's when it's best. All the color is still there, but it's quieter and people are more thoughtful, more truly interactive. You can talk to the stallkeepers and they actually see you, it's not all flash and grab exchanges of goods and money.

And you don't feel so impinged upon ... there's not such a heaviness of being, pushing in on your own.

My thought for this post is a corollary to this need for room. The need for the lightness of being ... that I want to live lightly, not aggressing upon others nor being aggressed upon. Not continually absorbed in acquisition of the next ... whatever.

I like the idea of moving quietly through life, having just what you need, no more or less.

It's a kind of minimalism that becomes more appealing to me all the time. The idea of owning a few, very beautiful, things ... that is the credo actually: own nothing that is not beautiful, or useful, or both.*

The world is often too much with us. And we needlessly encourage incursions into what could be, and should be, space. Just space. Space full only of spirit -- not stacked with stuff or crowded with those who want to sell us stuff or packed with those who have such a need to push themselves upon you.

* "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." William Morris

Today's fragrance: The rose, jasmine and woods of Sonoma Scent Studio's Sensuel, layered over the rose and jasmine Fever lotion bar from Lush. I'm snout-deep in rose/jasmine hog heaven.

photo of Post Alley at Pike Market by Tom Frank Posted by Picasa


Agent Provocateur

According to Wikipedia, "agent provocateur is a person employed to associate with suspected individuals or groups with the purpose of inciting them to commit acts which will make them liable for punishment ... "

" ... as a proper noun, Agent Provocateur may refer to ... a British lingerie brand ..." which coincidentally has a fragrance of the same name.

One of my favorites, Agent Provocateur is a seductive vapor of Moroccan rose, Indian saffron, Egyptian jasmine, French magnolia oil, vetivert, amber, and animalic musk.

See? Not all bad.


Disaster Preparation

I have a weird fascination with disaster preparation.

There's nothing better than poring over a Red Cross list of emergency supplies ... dreaming of owning that battery-powered radio/lantern/

The freeze-dried food! The portable toilet! The gallon of water per day per person/dog! The emergency communication plan (in which you agree where you will meet family members should the cell network AND landlines go down)! The Costco-sized supply of toilet paper! The extra pairs of sturdy shoes for walking around your earthquake-devastated neighborhood!

The First Aid kit (good thing I've learned how to give injections. Now if only I could score a supply of morphine. Some sort of opiate would come in really handy)!

But, because I am such an incredibly fortunate person, the only thing I've had to prepare for lately is Jim's tooth extraction. We found out Friday that the dull ache was going to result in loss of a superfluous back molar and I flew into action.

Have to admit, he was nonplussed -- no, let's call it "a bit upset" -- about the glee with which I approached his upcoming dental episode.

The escorting home of my chipmunk-cheeked patient! The chicken soup! The monitoring of his medication! The hot tea! The observation of the excision repacking! The keeping him away from the computer lest his Vicodin-riddled brain result in business problems! The fresh sheets on the bed, ready for his return!

Oh, man. This is great. Just ask Jim!



I can remember my mother dressed for church. 5'4", very slim, a black print sheath dress with cap sleeves, white gloves, black pumps, a small brim black hat on her waved and sprayed hair ... and a healthy dousing of Faberge Woodhue.

Of course, now I realize all that effort was expended on behalf of the church pastor, who she eventually landed, poor dear. (Mother is the poor dear. Talk about being careful about what you wish, you might get it.)

Later in life, my mother wore Guerlain Shalimar, but remembered Woodhue ... probably a nostalgic scent memory of ladylike (!) thrill of the chase.

Woodhue is long discontinued, but Long Lost Perfumes, specializing in such fragrances, duplicated it according to the "original recipe" ... and now, even their dupe is now on the edge of extinction.

Ellen, a kind fragboard member, sent me a sample of LLP Tinderbox, the Woodhue dupe ... and it is exactly as I remembered, with bergamot, carnation and violet. Geranium, ylang, iris and jasmin. Vetiver, musk and sandalwood.

An initially sharp spiciness, with the bergamot, carnation and geranium duking it out in topnote, smoothing out into a dense veil of florality ... eventually subdued into the best part, the soft, soft woody drydown.

Oh Mother, right outfit. Right fragrance. Wrong guy.


Mama Told Me Not To Come

Squint your eyes and it's Lisa!

One of the best things that happened to me during my internship was Lisa, the 24 year old assistant in the department. I love Lisa. I miss her. Why?

Looking at Lisa, with her bootcut jeans and Converse low-tops, her beautiful mass of blond "fly your freak flag free" hair, her empire-waist tops and her Go To Hell under-her-breath attitude was a wonderful memory of ME! Live long enough and you'll get to see yourself young again!

Lisa, you don't know this blogsite addy, but this post's for you, honey! (Lisa absolutely understands parties in smokefilled basements.)

Want some whiskey in your water?
Sugar in your tea?
What's all these crazy questions they askin' me?
This is the craziest party there could ever be
Don't turn on the lights, 'cause I don't want to see

Mama told me not to come
Mama told me not to come
That ain't the way to have fun, no

Open up the window
Let some air into this room
I think I'm almost chokin'
From the smell of stale perfume

And that cigarette you're smoking
'Bout scared me half to death
Open up the window, sucker
Let me catch my breath

Mama told me not to come
Mama told me not to come
She said, that ain't the way to have fun, son
That ain't the way to have fun

The radio is blastin'
Someone's knocking at the door
I'm lookin' at my girlfriend
She's passed out on the floor

I seen so many thingsI ain't never seen before
Don't know what it is
I don't wanna see no more

Mama told me, mama told me, mama told me
Told me, told me
That ain't no way to have fun, whoah, yeah yeah
Mama told me not to come

Mama, mama, mama told me
That ain't no way to have fun
That ain't the way to have fun, no

That ain't the way to have fun


Can You See Bucky In The Backyard?

Neither can we. And that's how he likes it.

By the way, Ann Coulter is not a nice woman.

*edit: Katie asks whether Ann Coulter bit Bucky. Scary thought, but no. No, Ann has come out against the 9/11 widows, referring to them as "broads" whose husbands, she believes, probably were about to divorce them. I did not make this up.
painting by Henri Rousseau


She Comes. She Goes.

At a certain point, you recognize someone who's gone where you can't go. Someone who knows a language you'll never speak. Someone who lets the self go places the self should not let itself go.

With grudging admiration, you recognize writing that spills over the top, and won't apologize for the mess. Writing that is so baroque, so byzantine in the richness of its wordage, that it takes your breath away. Or makes your gorge rise.

Ladies and gentlemen, I'm guessing mostly ladies, I commend to you: Suki ... ... writer of Cognoscented, the penultimate perfume blog.

She comes. She goes. She leaves empty perfume bottles in her wake. She's anonymous. She can't be reached.

She has lore: it's reputed she was once thatwhitecat, fragboard reviewer of renown, whose missives live on in those archives.

She's wonderful. Please. Go read her before she disappears again.

The photo is of a long-necked unguentarium. Yes, that's right. With early Byzantine motif, from the Museum Applied Science Center for Archaeology (MASCA), University of Pennsylvania Museum


I Am So Glad to See the Commenters

It's so nice to see all of you again! Thanks so much for visiting c'est chic! Even if I can't think of anything witty to reply to each of you, you're all appreciated!


The Neglected Art of Self-Editing

...or The Blogpost You Almost Got.

I've just neatly filed away an angry screed (about? Let's just say it had to do with the neighbors' unjust animosity toward Bucky the Furbaby and a new picket fence) and now I'm postless.

So I'll just point out how good it is sometimes to hold your tongue. The things you think aren't always best said. The wildest anger sometimes translates horribly. And people aren't all bad, no matter what you think at the time. (Very little of this is original thought; much of it must be credited to the King of Temperance himself, Jim.)

I had the opportunity recently to use my favorite Procol Harum quote that fits this nicely:

Nothing's better left unsaid
Only sometimes
Still, no doubt,
It's awful hard.
It all works out.

Come to think of it, I'm not sure whether that's advocating self-editing or not. Self discipline is a mixed bag at best. On the one hand, you don't get to unleash the lightning bolts-o-wrath from on high, which feels pretty darn good when you're doing it.

But then, you don't apologize so much, either.


The Unreasonable Happiness of Hand Smocking

My friend Barbatia ... she who so astutely aligns JC Coriandre with Agent Provocateur ... recently pointed out how unreasonably happy she is made by hand smocking.

Who could not agree? It simply smacks of little girls' party dresses ... and *whisper* dreams of a granddaughter.

At least that's why it makes me unreasonably happy.

Imagine having a little girl to dress. Imagine a little closet filled with little dresses, all lovingly handsmocked by moi.

Imagine chocolate ice cream all over that exquisite handsmocking. Imagine returning said little chocolate-smeared charmer back to your daughter-in-law after you've had all the enjoyment.


Ahhh, if only it happens for me.

(Barbatia, this may not be your dream ... hope you're ok that I extrapolated.)


Notice Anything?

I'm experimenting with a new look for the old blog. Not sure whether I like it. Kind of minimal, isn't it?

Now it's stripey. C'est chic, n'est-il pas?

I know bela will agree with me!

Also, comments are open ... and welcome back.