Saturday, May 21, 2016

They Called Her Glo

Yesterday, I went to a funeral in my hometown for the mother of one of my childhood friends.  Her name was Gloria, or 'Glo' to those who knew and loved her.  She was legendary for her generosity, her off-color humor, her too-loud laughter and above all, her kindness.  My mother, introvert that she was, didn't fully understand Glo's charm, and it irritated her to no end that Glo could be seen by all mowing her lawn on Sunday morning when everyone else was driving to church.  Glo did whatever the hell she wanted.  And she was happy.

Glo operated a beauty salon in her home in a community so small it doesn't show up on a map. Women from surrounding non-map-showing areas came to get their hair done, listen to Glo's free flowing advice and sample treats of brownies or chocolate popcorn.  Bonfire parties in her back yard were famous, including people the family didn't even know simply because Glo had met them somewhere earlier the same day.  She knew how to draw people in and treat them like family.

The last two times I attended funerals in my hometown, I was there to accompany Dad; once when Mom was too sick and again after she died.  Now, as I made my way to the church entrance alone, an elderly woman I didn't know walked slowly toward me from the opposite direction. We greeted each other and made small talk about our lateness, as time for the viewing was coming to an end. Together by circumstance, we stood in the receiving line and chatted about where we had grown up and any relatives we might have in common.  Her name was Sharon, and as it turned out, she went to school with one of my dad's cousins. 'What's he doing now?' she asked. It pained me a little to tell her he had died several years ago. 'Oh, yes,' she said, as if just realizing her own age. 

To move the reception process along, Glo's daughters left their post by the casket and began working backward through the line, greeting and hugging each person. They talked about their mother in a warm, but real way...the difficulty of her Alzheimer's and the awfulness of her final weeks. No pretending, no 'she's in a better place now,' or 'it was her time,' or 'it was God's will.'  Just the raw truth of loving and then losing their mother.  

Sharon and I found a good spot in the chapel for the 15-minute wait until the family entered and the funeral could begin. She told me about her son who was killed in a snowmobile accident 25 years ago during a family reunion.  She told me about visiting another son on Thursday in the hospital and her frightening drive home late at night in the rain. Sharon told me about her husband who died five years ago. She said there were many times when another breath from him seemed impossible, but he kept living for months after his terminal cancer diagnosis. Then one day - a good day for him - Sharon was holding him in her arms while her daughter re-arranged the pillows on the bed when he simply died. 'I could tell he was gone because he was suddenly lighter,' Sharon said. 'I didn't know until then that a person's spirit has weight.'  We looked at each other and leaned in, touching foreheads as she wiped a small tear with her slightly crooked finger.

After a brief and poignant service, Sharon and I hugged, thanked each other for the companionship and said our goodbyes. I found my friend - Glo's daughter - one last time to express my love for her and my appreciation for her mother's life.  She said, 'I have to tell you, for whatever reason my dad has been talking about memories of your dad all week...I can't really figure out why, but his name has come up several times.'

It would be just like my dad to comfort a friend with memories as he faced the hardest time of his life. Or to send Sharon to keep me company, knowing I would be lonely there without him.  I miss you, Dad.  Say hello to Glo.

photo from

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Magic of Rain

Rain on the deck last night

For the past week, it has been raining at least part of every day. There is no amount of rain that would be too much for me, and it poured again last night after a deceptively sunny morning.  In my ideal world, each week would include five days of rain and two days of partly sunny skies. Maybe one day of full-on sun, but certainly no more than that.

Rain mirrors that cozy feeling in the middle of the night when it's chilly and I have snuggled into a warm blanket.  And rain is reflective - the introverted partner of the sun's growing power, a vacation from the predictability of the sun's rise and set.  Dark rainy days blur the lines between day and night, teasing my senses and adding the drama of midnight into the day's earliest hours. Rain interrupts the predictable and makes me believe anything is possible. 

Then there's the smell...wet rocks and evergreen, sweet dirt and cedar.  When it rains, I crave perfumes with patchouli and oakmoss, licorice and mint.  All of my senses are heightened and more alive on dark, wet days.  Rain brings with it a break in life's pace, a slowing of my heartbeat and a nostalgia that never fails to calm me and bring me joy.

Pluviophile - A lover of rain; someone who finds joy and peace of mind during rainy days.

Photo my own

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

In A Mauboussin Mood

Mauboussin was one of those rare perfumes that upon first sniff sent me to the land of Oh. My. God. Stale morning breath mixed with allspice, vanilla and benzoin make it an aromatic wonder. Sometimes Mauboussin assaults my nose with full-on patchouli (hints of Borneo 1834), and sometimes it knocks me out with plum and amber. But when the mood is right, as it is on this reflective Wednesday evening, Mauboussin hits the spot like nothing else.

Several months ago, in a clean-out-this-damn-perfume-cabinet frenzy, I bequeathed B-man with Mauboussin. Bequeath: hold the item far out in front of you with both hands and bow as you hand it to the other person.  Knowing the great importance of the perfume - because of the bequeathing and all - B-man wore it occasionally. It's actually quite nice on him, lasting well into the next day, through at least one shower.  But after a while, like any self-respecting middle child, I started getting jealous, certain that if Mauboussin smelled good on B-man, it would smell even more amazing on me. Yesterday out of the blue, I worked up the nerve to ask if he would please, oh, please consider giving it back tell him I wanted it back. 

Me: Hey, you know the Mauboussin?

Him: Uh...what?

Me: You know, the perfume I gave you.

Him: Oh yeah, what about it?

Me: What if I wanted it back?

Him: You want it back?

Me: Yeah, I'm pretty sure I do. Did you throw the box away?

Him: No, I have it somewhere.

Me: 'Cause I noticed it's not in its box.  In your drawer.  Not that I was looking in your drawer.

Him: Take it - I have more stuff than I can possibly wear anyway.

Me: So I'm kinda doing you a favor.

Him: You're doing me a huge favor.

B-man understands the role that perfume plays in my life. This evening when I got home from work, my Mauboussin was neatly boxed up and sitting beside my perfume cabinet...bequeathed back to me.  Sure, we could share, but sharing is for well adjusted only children.

Picture from

Saturday, April 30, 2016

If Paige is Happy, Everyone's Happy

Paige with her favorite toy, Hedgie

B-man and I are looking forward to taking a few 'let's break out of our homebody routine' trips this year, which means leaving our doggy, Paige, for several nights at a time.  For years, we have taken her to a boarding company that employs young people tattooed from head to toe to care for the dogs that run free in an indoor/outdoor playground.  Paige insists on herding everything and when we check on her by webcam to see how she's doing, we get mere glimpses of her running back and forth with her tongue hanging out. Other dogs are lounging on their sides and watching her like, 'who's the crazy bitch?' 

Last time we boarded Paige, she came home an absolute mess.  She had scratched the skin above her eyes until it was infected, she was anxious (howling in the car on the way home), and she smelled bad, like stressed out doggy B.O.  Think Muscs Koublai Khan with more ass.

After a bunch of research, we just found a new place...a family that will involve her as their own and work her into their busy lives.  Yesterday was Paige's first trial daycare at her new home away from home.  Even though she was a bit 'skittish' according to her new family, we all feel confident that she will settle in nicely as she gets to know everyone.  When she got in the car to go home, she settled right onto her blanket without a peep. Best of all, she smelled like her sweet doggy self.  

Mission accomplished.

Photo my own

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Hyacinth in the Air

Every day this week, I have walked outside. This was a ritual for years, walking alone, walking with my sister, walking with B-man...negotiating the hills and staring at the mountains that have seen endless lifetimes and still remained the same. 

Lately, though, I've become a treadmill girl, logging necessary workouts early in the morning before trudging into the office. But this week, I've come home early to walk in my neighborhood again. Water bottle in hand, I take off up the hill, breathing in the scents of leaves, fresh dirt, geranium and...hyacinth.  Stopping to smell them is never the same as passing their scent in the breeze. Hyacinths were meant to sway back and forth, filling the air with their sillage.

At the end of every walk, I return home and shop my perfume cabinet to find something that best matches the smells of the outdoors.  I know I've found the right one when it is such a perfect replica that I can hardly detect its scent when holding it up to my nose.  Yesterday, as soon as I got home, I started searching for a perfume that carried the hyacinth magic.  One after the other, I opened the box, sniffed the nozzle and replaced it on the shelf. Then, like the thought of a familiar face, I remembered a perfume that was tucked away in the sock drawer B-man recently donated to hardly-worn-but-still-admired perfumes: Josephine by Rance.

Josephine is not a perfume I reach for, and honestly, I bought it for the name alone. But yesterday, its sweet, tweedy hyacinth extended the pleasure of my walk and helped me remember what I'd been missing.  Josephine presents hyacinth combined with orris, which emphasizes the old fashioned powder of the dry down and then gently fades away in a cloud of dusty vanilla.  

Josephine by Rance: I bought it for the name, never suspecting that spring lived inside.

picture from

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Ode To Oxygene by Lanvin

Pencil Lead
Orange Rind
Prom Corsage
White Chocolate
Amusement Park

Picture from

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Oh, To Have A Mother Again

I just finished watching, 'Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper.'  The prevailing feeling I'm left with is...jealousy.  I would give anything if my mother and I could have had a similar conversation; an honest reflection on her life, her challenges and her loves...what an absolute treasure that would have been.

As I watched this documentary, all I could think was, 'he has no idea what it will be like when she's gone.'  Children imagine the loss of their parents and talk themselves into thinking they will grieve briefly and then go on with life, resilient and whole.  But the absence of a parent is profound, and it leaves a permanent hole in the fabric of life, regardless of closeness or conflict.  It is the death of one's roots, and if the truth remains unspoken, it is forever haunting.

The truth is, I don't know much about my mother. Her fear of transparency and my insensitive response to her honesty left us virtual strangers.  Now she is gone, and the authenticity of her life died with her.  This loss will always be with me.

Dear Anderson Cooper: I hope you treasure the great gift of your mother's story.  In the end, it's the only thing that matters.

Image from


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