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


ReInvention and the Queen of Mood Swings

Listening to the political talk shows this morning, I hear a non-sequitur quote from some com-mentator: "No one really changes. They just become more of what they are."

Is that true?

For better and worse, I think so.

I have a corollary to it: "You take yourself with you wherever you go."

I think there is a core self that, no matter the changes in relationships, in jobs, in environment, eventually manifests in behavior. And that there is baserock consistency to that behavior.

I think the reason for that is that we -- on a spiritual level, sometimes consciously, mostly unconsciously -- have determined that we have certain objectives to accomplish within a lifetime, and we assiduously work toward accomplishment of those objectives.

This isn't to say the objectives are always noble, or even desirable. Or that our behavior is either noble or desirable. It's just that we have a manifest destiny and one way or the other, we are determined to realize it.

Sadly, that destiny can be a failure of a life. That may actually be the lesson we set out for ourselves to learn.

I want us to be able to change, to modify our reactions, to alter our behavior. I don't want to think that we are in some sort of instinctive lockstep, heading toward the edge of our respective cliffs.

But, hey, maybe it's not so bad to be bent and broken on the rocks below. Might be edifying.
photograph by Ansel Adams



Far better perfumistas have already analyzed the vintage, discontinued Guerlain, Djedi.

Victoria, Marina and March (plus others beyond the scope of my google) have eloquently delineated the seemingly dry, weirdly green, leatheristic, chypre-ish vetiver-esque nature of a fragrance created in the early part of the last century, now all but disappeared.

All that's left is to say how it feels: disturbing.

Supposedly it has held notes of rose, vetiver, musk, oakmoss, leather, civet and patchouli.

What remains, to my nose, is the vetiver, oakmoss, leather and, oh dear God, civet.

There is the barest shadow of sweetness in this scent of dessication and decay ... and I've just realized the image I'm drawing here: decomposition. Hopefully of vegetation, but I wouldn't completely discard the idea of a four-footed animal gone down the wrong road.

That's not very romantic, is it?

Well, all I can say is that Piguet's Bandit is the very youthful (and alive) younger sister of Djedi ... and it can be had for a relative song.

Take my advice: don't yearn for, or mourn, Djedi.

It IS strangely beautiful, in its Portrait of Dorian Gray way ... but even as I choose not to spend the night in a grave, I won't be choosing an extended outing with Djedi.


Woman. Female. Feminine. She. Her.

Nouns, an adjective and pronouns for the Other Sex.

The Weaker Sex? She Who Must Be Obeyed?

My mother was one of the few divorcees and working mothers of her generation.
My grandmother was a free spirit, a flapper when "bad girls" were wild, bathtub gin was their chosen beverage and there was more "free love" than was commonly admitted. (Especially in Kansas. Ask one of Grandmother's five husbands.)

My great grandmother was a formidable woman, who ran a farm and most of the men on it. (And still had a sense of fashion, if I can believe the bustle-bedecked formal portraiture of her and my grandfather, a much more handsome man than she was beautiful. Which leads one to believe he must have married her for her strength.)

I'm going through one of my probably-hormone-induced phases of just loving being a woman.

I was a white-ankleted, plaid-jumpered little girl in the fifties. I was a overalls-wearing, braless hoyden in the sixties. I was my version of Jane Fonda in the seventies, Princess Di in the eighties, my own bad self in the nineties and now I find myself in the best years of my life, in this first decade of the 21st century.

What are these best years like? Well, there's a matter-of-fact sexuality to it, for one thing. No coyness, no pretense or fakery about being a female. I am one, I like me for it ... and I like men for their vast difference from me. I don't need or want either of us to be anything else.

And there's a strange, intense delicacy to who I am. I am very aware of my physicality -- maybe in the sense that a candle's flame is highest and strongest before it extinguishes (Don't Cry for Me, Argentina!). Although I am small and fragile in some ways, I am so strong right now.

Oddly, this is a time that most reminds me of a poem by e.e.cummings, given to me when I was a freshman at Michigan. By a girl who was in love with me.

Neither of us knew what to do with her nascent lesbianism ... but now, so many years later, I am still grateful to her for seeing me the way she saw me. The way I see myself today. (Patti, thank you.)

somewhere i have never travelled,
gladly beyond any experience,
your eyes have their silence:

in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near
your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself
as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,
mysteriously) her first rose

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

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

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
not even the rain,
has such small hands


I Do Have Some Thoughts on Global Warming ...

(New Yorker cartoon: "Bloggers Without Borders")


Returning You to the REAL Blogger of C'est Chic

I couldn't stand being cynical. I had to let the real me out on Valentine's Day. This is what I'm all about: puppies, hearts, lace. You know.

Hope you had a wonderful Valentine's Day. I did.


This Says It All ... and Happy Valentine's Day.


by Thomas Hood

No morning ever seemed so long!---
I tried to read with all my might!
In my left hand 'My Landlord's Tales,'
And threepence ready in my right.

'Twas twelve at last---
my heart beat high!---
The Postman rattled at the door!---
And just upon her road to church, I dropt the 'Bride of Lammermoor!'

I seized the note---I flew upstairs---
Flung-to the door, and lock'd me in---
With panting haste I tore the seal---
And kiss'd the B in Benjamin!

'Twas full of love---to rhyme with dove---
And all that tender sort of thing---
Of sweet and meet---and heart and dart---
But not a word about a ring!---

In doubt I cast it in the flame,
And stood to watch the latest spark---
And saw the love all end in smoke---
Without a Parson and a Clerk!


Smells Like Pink Beaches to Me

I've been reading about feng shui and found a paragraph in one of my books that encourages the use of salt scrubs for personal feng shui ... that is, purification of your body by cleansing it with salt can help eliminate negatives surrounding you. We could all use less negatives surrounding us.

In that case, in the name of feng shui for the body, try Ginger Cardamom Shea Butter and Dead Sea Salt Scrub from Maryam's Soap Nook (And don't miss Sarah's page on the site. Daughter of the owner, she inspired development of this product line.)

The scent (there are many others) is a spicy/sweet blend with ginger, cardamom, peach, and sandalwood added to dead sea salts, shea butter, essential oils, camellia oil, olive oil, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, avocado oil, vegetable glycerin and vitamin E.

Maryam's products are carefully made with a noticeably personal touch. Many of the products (handmade soaps, body butters, bath and massage oils, some of which feature the highly emollient shea monoi body butter) have a romantically tropical way about them. Caribbean, to me.

So I'm preparing for that vacation in the Bahamas by getting my skin all smooth with these great products.

Ok, I have a rich fantasy life. But try the products anyway. They're good. Find them at


Brief Fragrance Bulletin

I just had an opportunity to smell the vaunted new A.Maze scent from People of the Labyrinths (the second fragrance from the OutThere Dutch designers). Hm.

Smells so much, to me, like the impossible-to-obtain Czech & Speake Dark Rose.

MAYBE THAT'S IT! Czech & Speake has been funneling all the Dark Rose to Holland's labryinths. Where those people are repackaging it as A.Maze.

Well, it could happen.


Not About Politics. Or Product.

I need to write something that isn't political and doesn't have anything to do with a product.

How about fear? The nature of fear.

In my twenties and thirties, I was a risk-taking bundle of oblivious need. I was adventurous, I drove fast, I imbibed and sampled wildly. (Make of that ambiguity what you will.) I was ambitious, selfish, a profligate mistress of the credit card culture stockpiling clothes, makeup, jewelry.

I slid into my forties still blind to most of what went on around me, except that I was able to isolate something was wrong: I was empty. And the pain of that emptiness compelled me into long, deep, serious and seriously expensive psychotherapy.

But even with the painful process of looking hard at everything I'd done and hadn't done, I was still somehow numb. Nothing really touched me. I walked ghostlike through life, still not knowing or caring about what I had, what it was worth and how close we always are to losing it. (There is actually a Buddhist term, "empty ghost." It refers to a constant craving, the inability to ever find satisfaction, to always need, need, need.)

And then a series of events shook me awake: loss of a child, a spinal fusion, divorce, job loss, financial problems. If there was a negative life event I missed in that list, let me know. If I hadn't needed therapy before, I sure needed it then.

So my forties were rough. Terribly, terribly rough. And I learned what it is to lose, I learned all the colors of loss.

Seven years later, my life is pretty much rebuilt. I don't want to elaborate about how much I have, how rich I am in so many ways. And I don't want to speak of what I went through to regain equilibrium. I don't want to tempt fate, attract the attention of the gods; I want to travel below the radar. And, please, please don't let me do anything to cause me to lose the way I have lost before.

This is my current neurotic struggle. I am unreasonably afraid of losing my love, my livelihood, my beautiful things, my dog, my home. Anything that matters to me is at risk.

I'm pretty sure there are others afflicted by fear of loss. I know my mother was like this, having had a tough, Depression-era childhood marked by more sadness than I'll ever know. But now I know something about the nature of her fear; I share it.

Most of the time, I can hide it. It usually manifests most when I am excessively tired, too stressed, unable to sleep. Then it slams me.

Somehow I have to buy distance on this. I have to understand, at this stage of life, that the biggest loss of all, after all, is just around the corner. And that it might not be loss at all.

Everything I love, everything we are and have, is evolving, transient illusion. Soon enough, it will all be gone, with or without my attempts to shield, hoard, protect, forestall.

I need to acknowledge this with grace. And understand the grace of it. And stop fighting. And be able to sleep.


Rabbit, Rabbit!

Black Rabbit moccasins by Sarah Williams