Thursday, March 31, 2011

Rant: PotLuck From Hell

Please, God, don't make me eat at potluck events.  

I promise to be good.

For the right situations, potluck can be great.  For example, if we're having a party with family or close friends, and they bring their favorite dish, it's fine.

After all, I know them and I've been in their homes.  They wash their hands after playing fetch with the dog's slimy toy, and their cats don't wander around on their counters eating the freshly made tuna salad.

But potluck with people you barely know or a bunch of colleagues from work?  

Oh, hell no.

Why is it that the guy who constantly smells three days out from a shower (and shows up to work as if he just rolled out of bed) is the same guy that insists on bringing homemade casseroles to the summer potluck?

He scratches his balls and picks his nose during staff meetings, for chrissake.

This is also the dude who brags about little Jimmy and Sally helping him cook.  Are those the same kids you bring here to visit with dried snot all over their faces?

I'm just askin'.

Then, there's the roadkill delight that one of your employees made special because they just Know You Will Love It and you Have To Try It. 

That's when the excuses begin: 'Gee, I had a really late breakfast and I'm still full,' or 'My stomach is bothering me today,' or 'How about I take some with me so I can enjoy it later?'

Enjoy it later: Toss it in a bathroom garbage where the smell of shit is expected.

And get out of the way because people rush the line like starving cattle, loading their plates and touching things then putting them back.  They scratch their arms and heads, lick their fingers, then touch more stuff.


I used to view potluck as a test of mind over matter and blithely went along to appear sociable, congratulating myself after the fact.  

That was before staring at an oatmeal cookie and wondering if I was looking at a walnut or a booger.

Now, I will eat in these situations only if it's absolutely clear that the food came from a grocery store, deli or restaurant. 

Otherwise, I think I'll pass on the scalloped potatoes with dog hair.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Perfume's Good Old Days

Over the past week or two, bloggers much more knowledgeable than I have posted about the dismal offering of mainstream perfume in today's market.

Yeah, I get that.

At the same time, I don't want to end up an old lady, sittin' on the porch, reeking of vintage Femme and bemoaning the Good Old Days in perfume.

Let's get real:  The industry just is what it is.

After giving myself a little talking to, I've decided to grow up, open my mind and go on a Mainstream Marathon this weekend for the following reasons:

1.  No new release could smell worse than Lyric Woman.

2.  I can be a snobby little princess, but not necessarily about perfume.  More so about undercooked potatoes or watered down martinis.

3.  Masterpieces in perfume are often recognized in hindsight rather than at the time of their release. 

4.  Nordstrom, Sephora, Macy's and Dillards are all within a five mile radius of my home. 

5.  B-man has agreed to come with me to prevent my 'cheaping out.'

Timing is good here because I'm looking for a few new perfumes that are outside of my usual 'dark, darker and darkest' range.

Instead, I want cheerful and bright...girly, even.

So let the sniffing begin - the good old days are here. 

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Letting Go And Inviting My Happy Back

Over the past year, I've wondered at times if happiness would ever be mine again.

Following a year of sad times and dark days, I'm ready to invite joy - that giddy, twirly, innocent happy - back into my life.  

I've missed it desperately.

This requires a new level of letting go.  Letting go of regret, letting go of anger and letting go of Mom.  

It feels weird just to write that. 

Of course, grief doesn't just begin and end at our prescribing, and I expect times of sadness will find me at surprising moments for the rest of my life.

But no level of grief will ever bring her back or undo what was done or make the end of her life any less painful.  Nothing will ever change that. 

Living my life fully and well, however, is still within 
my grasp.

As the wound of losing my mother begins to heal, I'm starting to rethink next steps.  In doing this, I'm aware that some residuals of grief, including caution and fear, have transferred to other areas of my life.

For example, I am less certain of my ability to be successful in any endeavor I might take on.  Prior to Mom's illness and death, my confidence was high and I regularly took professional risks to keep myself engaged and passionate.

Somewhere along the line, I stopped taking risks.

Plus, my failures seem larger to me now and I have less trust in the wisdom of the universe.  Feeling vulnerable, it is easy to second guess myself and my decisions day-to-day.

I didn't do that before.

Finally, I'm trying to balance my need for happiness while being supportive of those who are still in the throes of grief.  My father's loneliness is palpable and my siblings are moving through this process at their own pace and in their own time.

As it should be.

Still, I crave the deep, hearty laughter that renews my heart, mind and spirit.  Something inside me knows that happiness is waiting.  I have glimpses now and then of feeling genuinely good, optimistic and at peace. 

I have also lived long enough to know that joy is multiplied when it is sought after and recognized.  We face every day answering, how will we approach the world?   And where will we find light and happiness?

For the first time in a year, I embrace these questions.

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Ode to Tocade by Rochas

Marzipan Icing
Orange Creamsicle
Empty Tin Can
Fresh Rhubarb
Cedar Closet

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Perfumes That Made Me Happy This Week

I'm taking today off...just because, really.

Perhaps my body is making the transition into Spring (it's still rain and snow here), but I've been tired.  

Like, waking up tired.

Hello, morning is my time.

Faced with this 'lurpiness,' I am especially grateful for perfumes that make me feel, if not peppy, then at least pre-Springy.

Cabaret by Gres:  Soapy, just-out-of-the-shower top notes are perfect early in the morning! Through the dry down (and the rest of the day, actually), Cabaret unleashes its jammy, incensey, rosey goodness.  Eight hours later, I am still catching a whiff now and then, which makes me feel kind of...Zen.

Eau du Soir by Sisley:  This perfume could be found smoking outside with Chanel No. 19 if it weren't so damn hopeful.  Eau du Soir is is the essence of chilly, damp days that refuse to round the final corner into Spring.  It's both green and sweet.  And floral in a new rosebud sort of way that piques my optimistic spirit.

Dirt by Demeter:  Not so dirty, really, but it certainly captures the feeling of early Spring.  Fertile ground, new flower starts, rain soaked grass and muddy rocks make this perfume unique and fun.  Plus, you will never smell it on anyone else.  Marc Jacobs Daisy it's not.

Memory and Desire by DSH:  Perhaps the most beautiful composition I have ever had the pleasure of sniffing.  For about ten minutes.  Memory and Desire morphs and fades quickly, leaving just a ghost of its fabulous beginning. 

I've actually considered contacting Dawn to see if she might be able to add a synthetic touch that will keep this perfume's integrity and allow it to linger.  If anyone could pull off this feat, she could.

What pre-Spring perfumes are making you happy?

Image from

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Notes From Josephine Is One Year Old Today

This time last year, I began my blog with A Note To My MotherShe had just recently died and this little project was a way of keeping her in my heart and honoring our shared love of perfume.

Ending this first year feels kind of sad; it's another sign that time is moving further away from Mom and herding us relentlessly into the future. 

I just realized that the 20th of March came and went and I didn't mark the day as one more anniversary of her death, as I have each month until now.

Life keeps moving.

Thank you to my family and friends who have followed this blog and encouraged me to keep going.  Your support means a lot to me.

And to you, my blogging friends around the world, thanks for your friendship and flat out love (I feel it vibrating off my computer screen).  

You are a wonderful addition to my life and I hope to meet you all someday and share an afternoon of perfume sniffing, laughter and perhaps a glass of wine.

Our own minipalooza.

Things have changed over the past year and I am different now than I was before.  But Notes From Josephine will go on, and I will continue to carry the torch for perfume that Mom lit first for me.

I hope she's reading, too.

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Perfumed Eras Of My Life

Do you believe perfume memories live forever?

I do.

All of the perfumes I have worn tell a story, but a few stand out because of the era they mark.

Pavlova by Payot

At 20 years old, I was in a terrible car accident. My boyfriend was killed and I was really lucky to survive. And yes, everything you hear about survivor guilt and post traumatic stress syndrome is real. 

Shortly after I returned home from the hospital, a package arrived from my favorite aunt.  It was a bottle of Pavlova.  I wore it constantly, but only for a while.  

Though I have never smelled it since, I would recognize Pavlova instantly, and it would transport me back to that time as if it happened yesterday.

Magie Noire by Lancome 

When this first came out, in the early 1980's, I didn't pay much attention.  My birthday was coming up and the man in my life (pre B-man) asked me what I wanted.  I told him I wanted to go shopping and pick out a nice perfume.  

He brought home Magie Noire.

Of course, I was pissed because I wanted to choose the perfume myself.  In hindsight, I realize that the original Magie Noire was lovely, but the circumstances surrounding this gift dulled my appreciation.

If only I had a bottle now...
Sung by Alfred Sung

This original beauty (pre-reformulation) marks one of the happiest times of my life.  B-man and I were a new couple and I was just coming to know the truth about being loved and being in love myself.  

Our early years were simply magic.  

On a joint shopping trip, I discovered Sung - right as it was being introduced - and knew it was the perfume to celebrate our happiness.  It provided the aromatic background to our wedding day and perfectly matched the delight and depth of our life together.

Now, Sung is a shadow of its former self.  But in the beginning, it was citrus and freesia and woods and simply divine. Sung was my signature scent - my only scent - for almost 10 years. 

Incanto by Ferragamo 

Our little Shih Tzu, named Josie, was a rescue dog that we adopted from a friend involved with our local shelter.  Josie was found wandering on a busy street, her fur matted as if she had been on her own for weeks.  

She was afraid of almost everything; lightning, wind and rain.  We fell in love with her immediately.

Taking care of her was always a priority and B-man made his regular appointment to get her teeth cleaned.  It was a Friday and we looked forward to that evening when we could spoil Josie. 

But she died during the procedure.

Numb and grief-stricken, we could hardly stand to be in the house because everything reminded us of her.  So we left and wandered around in our familiar places, holding hands like little kids, trying to find some peace.  I bought Incanto unsniffed, desperate to feel better.  To feel anything but awful.

Although very nice, Incanto is a perfume I rarely wear.  But I keep it close to remind me of our Josie.

Jungle L'Elephant by Kenzo

The moment I first smelled 'Jungle,' I fell in love. Spicy, rich suede filled my senses, which resulted in an immediate purchase.  Mom loved it, too, and I surprised her with a bottle for Mother's Day.

Several years before Mom died, we had a misunderstanding that resulted in silence between us for a couple of months.  When we began communicating, Mom said, 'I'm glad we resolved things because now I can wear Jungle again.'  She always understood the power of perfume as it relates to emotion.  

I miss that about her.

What perfumes mark significant times in your life?

Photo from

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Rant: Stop With The Hyphenated Last Names

Hyphenation is a bad idea.

And it bugs me.

First of all, I'm lucky if I can remember your first name, let alone your last name.  But two last names?  

Okay, Wang-Holder I'd remember. 

Anything else?  Fuggedaboutit.

I have to wonder what, exactly, one is trying to communicate through hyphenation.  Independence?  Strength?  Feminism?  

Because it doesn't accomplish any of those things.  Now, you bear the name of not just one man, but two.   

Not exactly a symbol of empowerment.

And why on earth would a woman hyphenate her name when a man doesn't? (This principle applies to same sex couples as well.)   For example, if she's going to be Susie Jones-Smith then he should be John Smith-Jones.  Or John Jones-Smith.  

Honestly, I hardly ever see men doing this, probably for the same reason they don't wear tube tops, fishnets or thigh high boots. 

Because it makes no sense and it looks stupid. 

Let's take it a step further.  Say Susie and John have kids.  Are they Jones-Smith, too? And when their daughter, Cindy Jones-Smith gets married, is she Cindy Jones-Smith-Brown?

I'm just sayin', think it through.

If you really want to make a statement about your identity, through your name, consider these option:

1)  Go traditional.  Take your husband's name or you and your partner decide whose name will be the official surname, then you both use it.  But never assume a hideous last name just to prove your love or to honor tradition.

2)  Keep your original surname and use that forever and ever, regardless of the name of your husband/partner.

3)  Use only your first name (Madonna, Rihanna) or your first and middle name, ditching the surname altogether. 

4)  Choose any damn name you want - just because you like it - and use it consistently.  

But please, don't expect me to remember, nor admire, the fact that you have attached another last name to your signature with a hyphen.  

In return, I promise never to wear a tube top. 

photo from

Friday, March 18, 2011

Ode to Muscs Koublai Khan

Barbasol Shaving Cream
Hamster Cage
Rumpled Bed
Burnt Autumn Leaves
Old Leather Shoes

Picture from

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Standing In The Sun Once Again

Has the feeling of relief ever taken you by surprise?

Over the past couple of months, we have been dealing with a health concern of Dad's.

From the beginning, I told myself it would most likely be 'nothing,' meaning a simple condition with an equally simple treatment. 

Always the pragmatist, I held my fear at bay, knowing there is much beyond our control.  Knowing, too, that worry does little to help anyone and nothing to reverse the course of life.

This I learned when we lost Mom.

Last Thursday, I was set to accompany Dad to the hospital for further testing, which included an ultrasound and a biopsy.  Working in a medical environment, I hoped to help him navigate the system and glean all of the information he wanted and needed.

I was cool as a cucumber.

Right up until Wednesday night.

That's when it hit me that I could be shielding myself through denial; that we may well be heading down a path that wasn't simple at all.  I contemplated losing him, the parent to whom I feel the closest connection.

In bed that night, I cried - a little kid, sobby cry - feeling afraid for myself and so very protective of him.

Please, not Dad.  Not yet.

Feeling inadequate to provide the comfort and companionship he needed, I talked with Mom and asked her to help Dad and me in whatever way she could.

After falling into a deep sleep, I woke up Thursday morning ready to face the day.  Knowing I needed a boost of comfort and strength, I reached once again for Montale's White Aoud.  Its medicinal top note added a wink and a nod of good luck to our hospital visit.

Once the testing was over, which included significant physical pain for my dad, we came away with reassurance and optimism.  Regardless of the final results of the testing, which we will have later this week, Dad's condition is treatable and not life threatening.  

He's going to be okay.  We both felt Mom was there.

Until now, I didn't realize just how much fear I was carrying under the surface of my emotions.  Suddenly, everything feels lighter and more vibrant, like a new path has opened before me and the sun has come out again.

first image from
second image from

Monday, March 14, 2011

Daphne's An Annoying Little Princess

You remember Daphne, my nose, right?

Well, she's being rather high maintenance at the moment, fickle and bored with everything.

Except Montale's White Aoud.  

That's all she wants to smell.  Every day.  Like a baby who only eats strained carrots and spits anything else on the high chair tray. 

Yup, just talk to the nostril.

Look, I've tried.  I've offered lots of variety.  Exciting perfume samples have visited in an attempt to pull Daphne out of this funk.  Hell, I've even 'flown' perfume samples and bottles to her nose while making airplane sounds. 

It hasn't worked.  Check it out:

C&S Dark Rose -  'Black Aoud's dimwit cousin.'
La Myrrhe - 'ewww, girly.'
SL's Chene - 'scrubbing bubbles.'
SL's Musc Koublai Khan  - 'yeah, if you like farts.'

That's the other thing: Daphne lacks diplomacy.

But we don't necessarily agree.  For example, I don't find Muscs Koublai Khan 'farty' at all, and it actually wears sexy and mild on my skin.

And La Myrrhe?  Sure, it's kind of girly (a little more myrrh, a little less Chanel, please), but I like the way it dries down to remind me of Aimez Moi by Caron.

Sadly, I do have to agree when it comes to Dark Rose and to Chene.  While it doesn't reach the Comet Cleanser pitch of Encens Flamboyant, I still believe Chene could do a hell of a job on my shower.

Fortunately, I've been down this road with Daphne before.  It's best to just go along and wear White Aoud to the edge of Signature Scentville.

Then, when it's clearly her idea to begin exploring, we'll resume the pursuit once again.

Jeez, what a baby.

photo my own

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Save The Gator

Meet Paige's new friend, Gator.  Well, friend might be stretching it a bit.

Paige has never been a destructive dog.  Even in her puppy stage she didn't chew things up.  And now, as an adult, she takes treats politely from our fingers.

I know, cowboy up.

Her vast array of stuffed, furry toys has remained intact through growling fits and mouth shakes for which B-man and I provide the dialogue:

Why, I'll shake your ass good, stupid hedgehog!

Take that, you idiot tiger!

Entertainment is cheap at our house.

But for some reason, Gator has brought out the worst in Paige and he (we know it's a 'he' because B-man looked) ended up in emergency, stitch-him-back-up surgery after being split open.

Not just once, but twice.  Paige denies it, of course, but the evidence is clear.

 I didn't do it...for realsies

With Gator fresh out of post-op, we're watching Paige to see just what it is about him that pisses her off.  Okay, he's green, but what else?  Together, we decide a little surveillance is in order.

What?  Gator makes a nice pillow
I feel so misunderstood
Hey, how did Gator get outside?
I'll be right here watching for the perp

Gee, thanks 'O.J.' but we're pretty clear on the identity of the 'perp.'

photos my own

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Attention Deficit Friday

Yesterday, I caught myself in mid-attention deficit mode.  Not that it's the first time.

A glimpse into my world:

I should e-mail my team about the event on Wednesday.

But I'm hungry - don't I still have half a grapefruit in my fridge?

Wait, leave a post-it for Sarah about the database update first.

Where are my plastic spoons?

Eating grapefruit with a plastic spoon is going to be 
a pain in my ass.  

I should have peeled it like an orange.

I have to pee.

First, I'll e-mail the event on Wednesday.

What if this grapefruit squirts all over me? 

And where are the documents I printed for my 
10:00 meeting?

Okay, here they are.

Is that grapefruit juice on them?

That reminds me of the time I spilled Diet Coke all over my presentation.

I need to add a quote to my presentation in April.

I'll just google that quickly.

Now I really have to pee.

But wait, what about Wednesday's event?

Dammit, now I'm late for my 10:00 meeting...

The rest of my day was just more of the same.

Attention deficit?  I prefer 'multi-tasking.'

The only consistent thing about the day was my perfume, Moschino Couture.

Image from

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ode to Le Parfum by Sonia Rykiel

Melted Candle Wax
Roasted Red Pepper
Celery With Peanut Butter
Peach Crumble
Steel Beams
Silk Brocade

Image from

Monday, March 7, 2011

Rant: Don't Chocolate Me To Death

One more chocolate chip cookie and I might snap.

Not that I eat them.  Some of us aren't crazy about chocolate.

So why do people continue ruining perfectly good cookies by lacing them with annoying little bits
of chocolate?

At work, cookies are provided at certain meetings I attend.  Last week, the cookie selection included:

Chocolate chip cookies
Dark chocolate cookies with chocolate chips
Oatmeal coconut cookies with chocolate chips
Pumpkin cookies with chocolate chips


Would it kill them to include a couple of peanut butter cookies?  Sugar cookies?  Even oatmeal raisin could work (I've become quite adept at picking out the 'buggy' little raisins while preserving the integrity of the cookie).

And just try going to a banquet or any group event without being served some dark chocolate dessert with chocolate filling and chocolate frosting. 

How about some lemon meringue or cherry pie? 


When people hear that I don't like chocolate, they look at me as if I have announced, from a microphone, 'Puppies are Ugly.'  

Some chick flick must have taught us that all women love chocolate like they love receiving fresh flowers.

Yeah, I don't like either of those things.  Flowers and a box of chocolates will just annoy me.

Wait, let me get this spent good money on all that when you could have just brought me cheese?

Chocolate seems to have meaning that goes beyond just food; it communicates a universal message of connection. 

If you eat chocolate, you must be one of us. 

Baaa, baaa.

Aside from the occasional Snickers (the peanuts, caramel and nougat keep the chocolate pinned in the corner, where it belongs), chocolate is not my thing.  

And I'm not alone.

So please, give us a break on the chocolate chip 
cookies, huh?

Image from

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Just A Typical Day At Our House

Me:  What stinks?

B-man:  What are you talking about?

Me: Something smells sour. (I sniff all around the kitchen at counter level.)

B-man:  What is it you smell?

Me:  It's the dish rag - that's just nasty.

B-man:  I just put a clean one out and they're 
brand new.

Me:  Well they must stink when they get wet, 'cause 
it's gross.

B-man: (Picks up the dish rag, smells it and shrugs)

Me: Sorry I'm so weird about smells.

B-man:  You're a  freak with that nose.


Me:  Wow, I am, aren't I?

B-man:  Yeah, but it's fun.

That's why we've been together 24 years.

Image of Ozzie and Harriet from

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Put Your Little Foot Right There

Yesterday morning, I'm getting ready for work, doing my make-up and hair routine like any other day. 

(I try not to deviate much from this ritual and just hope to God the phone doesn't ring so I don't resume the process wrongly and end up forgetting my deodorant.)

To tolerate my growing hair - it's happy as a clam in the awkward stage - I've been letting my natural curl rule, 'scrunching' the hair while it drys.

At one point, squeezing my hair rhythmically with both hands, a tune begins to play in my mind.

Put your little foot, put your little foot, put your little foot right there;
Put your little foot, put your little foot, put your little foot right there.

I stop in mid-scrunch and remember my grandpa down the street doing this little dance with me, both of my hands in his.  I must have been about four years old.

He used to call me 'Peanut.'

Tears spring to my eyes as I am overcome with nostalgia and wonder.  Through the winding journey of my life, far from home, this precious memory has survived.

Gently, it taps me on the shoulder to ask for one 
more dance.

Image from

Great Perfume Loves...That I Never Wear

Some perfumes are so beautiful, I could cry.

Full bottles have been urgently purchased with the absolute intent of wearing them constantly, possibly even resurrecting the 'signature scent' theory.

I rarely wear them.  

What's up with that?

A few that fall into this category:

Ambre Sultan
L'Heure Bleue
Eau du Soir

It's like they are so gorgeous, they belong in another time, or at least a dimension outside of my real life.  

Yeah, that's it.

No, this is really it: they reveal a side of me that is so private, so intimate, it's almost like I'm naked in public when I wear them.

Total and complete crap.

Okay, here's the's because I have so many perfumes that I just don't get around to wearing them, which is okay because wearing them cheapens their allure anyway.

Uh-huh, right.

The real reason?  

I have no f-ing clue.

Do you do this?  If so, what's your theory?

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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Cuir de Lancome: Too Polite To Love

I like Cuir de Lancome.

Even the Diet Pepsi top note doesn't turn me off because I know right behind that is an amazing floral/leather heart note.

Heavy on the leather.

The first hour following the drydown teases me into believing I have found the leather perfume that will end my search forever.  For an hour, Cuir de Lancome is Absolute Perfection.

Riding boots with iris bulbs where feet should be.

After a couple of hours, however, I can't smell it at all.  Well, I can smell it by stuffing my nose into my wrist, but it's not the same perfume.

Now, it's all carrot juice and daffodils and dollar bills.   

Where the hell did the leather go?

Tonight, I apply L'Artisan's Passage d'Enfer and find myself wishing that Cuir de Lancome had more of that dirtiness in the drydown.  

But somewhere along the way, Cuir de Lancome starts feeling guilty about the bold, ballsy leather of the first hour.  She spends the rest of the day trying to act like the girl next door.

Gee, sorry if I got too leathery - just kidding.

Doesn't she know?  Great leather perfumes are never people pleasers.

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