Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mom's Lotion

Me, JD and Dad on the deck after dark
Dad came for a visit last weekend for the first time since Mom died.  Everyone was over Friday evening for Soup Night.  Out on the deck we talk, reminisce, laugh and drink wine.

Dad still sees Mom everywhere that they have been together.  She was in our home not that long ago. 

He spends the night Friday.  B-man and I wake up early Saturday because we're both morning geeks.  When JD was little, he would yell, from his bedroom across the hall, 'Guys, be quiet, I'm trying to sleep!'  This is understandable because B-man and I were awake, talking and laughing well before the alarm went off.  

Luckily, Dad is also a morning person, and I hear him rambling around downstairs early, long before he comes up for coffee.

Then, I hear the shower running.

Soon, he emerges, squeaky clean and cute as anything in khaki pants and a deep blue collared shirt.  When he reaches the top of the stairs, we greet each other and hug.  He smells good, but not like cologne, just fresh.

We're sitting on the deck - over coffee - in the cool mountain air when Dad says, 'Did you notice Mom's lotion?  I put it on this morning after I showered.'

'I just noticed you smell good,' I say.

'Well, it was on her make-up table, so I brought it with me,' Dad says.  'I missed her so much last night and this morning, I can hardly stand it.'  

The depth of Dad's loss and loneliness, after 53 years of marriage, is more than I can comprehend.

'Tell me about her lotion, Dad, what kind is it?'  He insists on finding the bottle and reading the label.  'It's Optimism Aromatherapy by Bath and Body Works.'

'The scent is Bright Blossoms,' he says.

I am touched by his attempt to channel Mom through wearing a scent he must have smelled on her many times.  He doesn't care if it smells like flower blossoms, it reminds him of her.

Watching my father endure great pain and slowly emerge again has emphasized what I've always loved about him; his kindness, his open mind and his resilience.  Getting to know him again now, as we all rebuild and regroup, is one of the great gifts of my life.

Thank you, Dad, for your sweet remembrance of 
our mother.

Picture taken by B-man last Friday

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Twirling For Perfume

For the first time in years, there is no perfume that I Simply Must Have.

Nope, I'm good.

After receiving three discount coupons from my favorite online perfume stores, I still think, 'meh.' 

Usually, this is a big deal.  I fill my online shopping cart, rotating items for days before making the purchase right before the sale ends. Then, I track the shipment obsessively and, once it arrives, I clutch the package to my breast and twirl around the kitchen.

Okay, that's an exaggeration.

I don't always rotate the items.

Trying to understand exactly what my current disinterest means, I have formulated several theories:

1)  I have more full bottles, decants and samples of perfume than I can possibly test, wear or write about.  Suddenly, this seems relevant.

2)  I'm overwhelmed (and underwhelmed) by the volume of new perfume releases and bored with smelling the same thing (floral, fruity, woodsy, musky) over and over again.

3)  I've rediscovered perfumes that I haven't worn for a long time, like Angel Lily, Kenzo Flower Parfum and Escada Collection.  All of these are more interesting than many of the new releases.

Honestly, I do miss the thrill of the pursuit, and the sheer pleasure of knowing a package is waiting for me on the kitchen counter.  But even at 10% off, I'm feeling a bit ho-hum about buying anything new.

Waiting for the twirling urge to return.

Picture from

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Angel Lily: The Path To Reinvention

Lately, I've been in the mood to reinvent myself.  Perhaps it's the changing seasons or just general restlessness, but I want to feel new.  Different.  

For starters, I'm growing my hair, not because it feels like the perfect thing, but because I lack inspiration at the moment.

Reinvention through complacency.

Kinda works for me.

Attempting to express my new passive motivation, I decide to wear a perfume that I have pushed to the back shelf: Angel Lily (Le Lys).

Generally, I avoid flankers.  While there are a few that dodge the 'we made money on the first perfume, so what the hell, let's put it out there' mold, most leave me yawning and rubbing my eyes.

Exceptions?  Hypnotic Poison, Kelly Caleche and perhaps Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere.

But J-Lo just needs to stop it already.

Angel, Lily's mother perfume, is hideous on me.  So bad, in fact, that it has earned the title my sisters and I reserve for those rare times when perfume & body chemistry produce a scent atrocity:  Old Lady Butts, or OLBs.

I'm over 50 so I can say that.

And don't get all nervous, this assessment is courtesy of my nose's imagination.

Angel Lily is the antithesis of Angel.  It's fresh (minty) and floral, gingerbread men with white chocolate buttons and the finest touch of patchouli.  Plus, the bottle is beautiful.

B-man loves this perfume - he always did - but I haven't worn it for probably two years.

'You smell different and really, really good,' he says this morning in our guess-the-perfume ritual.  

Ah, Different achieved.

Perhaps, in the end, reinvention isn't always about creating something new, but simply returning to what works.

I'm still growing my hair.

Picture from

Sunday, September 26, 2010

You Do What?

Random perfume discussions are streaking through my life at odd moments lately.  Some of those are satisfying, and some are just...weird.

Take Friday, for example.

I arrive at work to find that one of my directors has on the very same color scheme that I do.  Black pants, a black top and a wine colored jacket.  We laugh about this with the usual "'ah, you got the memo!' pleasantries. 

'That's so girly to compare clothes, shoes and purses!' my colleague says.

'Huh,' I think, because I don't usually notice much about other women's clothing, shoes or purses.  In fact, my sister pulled me aside several months ago to say, discretely, 'you need better purses.'  So I bought better purses, but god knows when I would have thought of that on my own.

Girlyland is just not a place I hang out much.

'I know you're girly because you like perfume,' my co-worker says.

'Actually, a lot of men are into perfume, too,' I respond.

'Don't you mean cologne?'

'Well, many of us see perfume as genderless - we wear it all.'

She looks at me  - her head cocked like a confused puppy -  as if I have lost my mind and temporarily forgotten The Natural Order of Things. 

Realizing the extent of explanation that would be necessary to set her head straight again, I start wondering how I can silently back out of the room and act as if the conversation never happened.  

Miraculously, my pager goes off, giving me an easy exit.

Usually, I enjoy sharing information about perfume with others.  But sometimes, it feels like explaining space travel to a caveman.

Picture from

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ode to Ambre Sultan by Serge Lutens

Rusty Bicycle
Pralines & Cream
Melting Plastic
Beringer Chardonnay 
 Bird Cage
Roach Clip
Campground at Night

Pictures from

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Jitterbug Perfume Shame

Today, I attend a conference and end up sitting by a colleague who worked with me when my role was different in the hospital.  We lost touch, but have no trouble picking up right where we left off.

At one point in the conversation, my friend says, 'what are you doing outside of work these days?'

I talk about family, recent travel, and then reveal my perfume hobbit (hobby + habit = hobbit).

Pausing for a brief fantasy about perfumed Hobbits...

'Wow, that's so cool,' she says, and begins asking me all sorts of questions about perfume.  

Because of Inner Critic - killjoy that he is - I'm always surprised when non-perfume people want to engage in conversation about this obsession.  As of today, I will expect a positive response and be surprised when that doesn't happen.

'Have you read Jitterbug Perfume?' she asks.  

What the hell?

Jitterbug Perfume, by Tom Robbins, is a perfumista cult classic.  How is it that she has read this and I haven't?

Responses to her question race through my mind:

'Yes, of course.'

'As soon as I finish The Emperor of  Scent.'

'I just started it last night.'

'What perfumista hasn't read Jitterbug Perfume?'

All lies, of course.

What I say, instead, is the shameful truth.  'I tried to read it awhile ago, but the print was so small that I got annoyed and quit.'


Then finally, she says, 'What about a book on tape?'

Well, maybe, but that would require paying attention and silencing the chaos in my head.  I can imagine listening for 30 minutes only to realize that...what was I saying about Hobbits?

Reading actually suits me best and Jitterbug Perfume is the next book on my list.

Just as soon as I find it in large print.

Picture from

Monday, September 20, 2010

It Runs In the Family

This is our son, JD, taking a break from his own weekend home improvement project.  On our way to buy carpet, we stop by to see the progress he is making replacing his deck with the help of his stepfather-in-law. 

JD is a perfumista at heart ( I could say 'perfumata,' but if perfume is not gendered, neither is the description of a perfume lover).  

It's possible that, growing up with a mother like me, he simply had to embrace perfume to stay sane.  But still.

He's no poseur.

Our trips to Nordstrom to play with perfume are memorable, and he always seems impressed that I can score new samples to challenge his developing nose.  

JD prefers sporty, aquatic scents, like Claiborne Sport and Givenchy Insense Ultramarine.  He also has an open mind, and at 26-years-old, his nose has room to grow.

Saturday morning, he and SFIL come to borrow B-man's extension ladder before starting their project.  As we are standing in the driveway, having two separate conversations (me with JD, B-man with SFIL),  he says, "I've been reading your blog a lot lately."  

This is a change from his occasional drop-ins of the past.

He goes on, "I'm always disappointed when I open your blog and there's an 'Ode' because I like the story posts so much."  

JD always says exactly what's on his mind.  In fact, he may be the most authentically honest person I know.  It's one of many unique characteristics I love about him.

'Yeah, I can understand that,' I say, silently delighting in the fact that he has become a regular visitor.  

Thanks for following my blog, son.  This short story post is just for you. 

Photos my own

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Thinking Outside The Box

Today is home improvement day. 

B-man and I have decided to re-carpet our lower level and re-furnish our living room.  

Instead of just replacing what we have, this is an opportunity to do everything different.

To inspire new thinking, DSH Vetyver is the
Scent of the Day.  With its gasoline/leather/musty attic/second hand smoke opening, Vetyver settles into its namesake slowly...unlike many others.

Armed with a feisty perfume, I am ready to shake it up.

The excitement of home improvement is dampened by the tedium of buying the products.  Let's take carpet, for example.

B-man is doing most of the decision making, dealing with both sales people and installers.  He has a much better eye for these things, so I trust his judgment and know that, by the time it gets to me, he has done all the hard work.  

After spending hours filtering through carpet possibilities, B-man brings home three samples and I pick one in under three minutes.  He is amazed by this.

I'm like, 'what, it's just carpet.'  

We're not talking about cheese, after all.

Then, there's Paige.  I keep forgetting we have a furry toddler that loves to act up for strangers.

Paige looking so very innocent with her toy monkey

The guy that measures the rooms comes to our house this morning.  Paige doesn't like it.  She barks, but not in a bare-your-teeth 'I'm going to kick your ass' way.  No, it's more of a 'bitch, what are you doing on my turf?' sort of way.  

Measuring Guy doesn't know the difference and looks all nervous as I go downstairs to interrupt B-man's workout so that he can handle the whole carpet prep thing.  Then, I make Paige stay upstairs with me, sitting at my feet.  She looks mournfully over her shoulder with eyes that say, 'you so don't get me.'

Later in the day, Paige gets to stay home and Think About What She Did while B-man and I go place our order for the carpet.  We're waiting for B-man's favorite sales person and it's hot, crowded with other people who are also mingling in Carpet Hell.  The hotter I get, the more I can smell us.

B-man is wearing Azzaro as his SOTD, which is a lovely compliment to Vetyver.  But as we stand there, waiting in the heat, all I can think is, 'god, we reek.'  I envision everyone else in the store thinking, 'what reeks?'  Then they plan an attack and we can't get out and...

An idle mind is the devil's workshop.

Mercifully, B-man's guy gets to us and we purchase the carpet and decide to look for living room furniture later, when we feel fresh and inspired. 

We end our shopping with the most important errand of the day, buying cheese.

Thinking outside the box is hard work.

Pictures from and B-man

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Ode to Femme by Rochas

Diesel Fumes
Peaches with Cumin
Pecan Pie
Kettle Corn

Picture from

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My Top Ten Transition Perfumes

Call it Autumn Syndrome.

This time of year, between summer and fall, messes with my mind.  


- My clothes all suck
- Hair decisions  (to cut or to grow) are too complicated
- I eat fresh fruit (I don't even like fruit)
- Everything smells different

Once fall arrives, I settle into a warm, 'gathering in' phase, which is my favorite time of year.  Until then, to help with this seasonal shift, I rely on my Top Ten Transition Perfumes:

Poeme - gently guides the butterflys out and the dragonflys in.

Cabochard - a wild fire being swatted with leather belts.

Knowing - a rose chypre 'bite' that mirrors the crisp air.

Moschino Couture - green apples in cedar barrels.

Yatagan - pine needles on the ground with fallen leaves.

Sonia Rykiel Woman - autumn's first wearing of a suede jacket.

L'eau du Navigateur - coffee in Central Park on a cool, clear day.

Rose 31 - both dirty and effervescent.

Ambre Sultan -  herbal amber that must be a Virgo.

Black Aoud - the atmospheric smell of moving planets.

Today, in response to my general restlessness, one of my colleagues said, 'you do this every year.'   Just before I stick my chin out, like a defiant 2-year-old,  to say, 'do what?,' I realize she's right.

Thankfully, fall is just around the corner.

Do you have transition perfumes? 

Photo by

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Help - Perfume Party!

One way to use the perfumes I have (and quiet Inner Critic) is to share them with others.  I'm planning a perfume party later this month and thinking about how I want to categorize/group/display them so that my guests can make sense of my collection.

Possibilities considered:

By fragrance family (oriental, floral, chypre, etc.)
By perfume house (Guerlain, Hermes, L'Artisan, etc.)
By year (vintage to current)
By gender (I avoid this categorization in my own life, but it may make sense to others)

The crowd will be a mix of women and men; some that have a keen interest in perfume, some that are just beginning to experiment and others looking for a new signature scent.  

Still hoping to uncover at least one perfumista among them, I want to offer abundant sampling in the most appropriate and logical way.

What do you suggest?

Picture from

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Why Isn't Anyone Talking About Perfume?

B-man and I attended a wine tasting last night.  We have belonged to this group for 20+ years and have enjoyed varying degrees of activity.  

Recently, however, we have become more selective in the tastings we attend. 

This is partly because my work is very 'people heavy,' and the last thing I want on the weekend is to endure an event that feels like an extended cocktail party.  

Plus, I'm a homebody.  My idea of the perfect evening is cooking, and enjoying wine, at home with B-man and Paige.

Paige doesn't drink that much.

B-man is a bit more social and enjoys getting out and hobnobbing. Together, we balance each other out.

Last night's tasting was held at a Mexican bistro, new in town, located in an industrial warehouse.  We had never been there, but the invitation said, "this is not your basic burritos or enchiladas, this is what the wealthy people eat in Mexico."   

I found this reassurance to be pretentious and unnecessary.

Don't be dissing my Taco Bell.

For me, perfume accompanies all wine tastings, even though Inner Critic follows me around and tries to talk me out of it as I'm getting ready. 

Perhaps it does create a distraction from the 'nose' of the wine, but who can really object to lightly applied Jardin en Mediterranee?  If you're that sensitive to competing aromas, perhaps you should drink wine at home.  

With your own dog.

Our table for eight was an interesting crowd.  We talked about travel (ours to Denver, theirs to Southeast Asia), reading (they actually read books, not just blogs), our children, our work and all manner of social chatter.

At one point, I leaned over and whispered to B-man, 'why isn't anyone talking about perfume?'

He responded with the don't-make-me-snort-wine-out-of-my-nose laugh.

Actually, I think it's a fair question.  I would much rather hear someone's thoughts about perfume, as it relates to wine and food, instead of their most recent experience in an Australian airport.

Next time, I might bring up the topic myself, just to silence the table.

Photo from

Friday, September 10, 2010

Ode to DSH Vintage Patchouly

Wicker under Macrame
Black Rose
Nordic Wool Sweater
Pool Hall
Gardening Shed

Picture from DSH

Thursday, September 9, 2010

DSH Essense Studio - A Perfumista Delight

The moment I walk into DSH Essense Studio, I am surrounded by colors of green and blue, with gold accents, giving everything a warm Egyptian glow.  

The scent of spice hangs lightly in the air.  

It is Saturday and Dawn Spencer Hurwitz has agreed to meet me at 1:00 on this holiday weekend.

I arrive early.

A client is finishing up a consult, making the final decision in her perfume choice, taking great care to match this with a turning point in her life.

"Hi," Dawn says, behind me.  I turn to see a petite woman with her hair pulled away from her face, fully exposing her clear, light green eyes.  We greet each other and jump right into conversation, skipping from one topic to another; perfume, art, life, perfume and

"I love working with all types of art," she says.  "It's about more than just perfume for me, and I want to notice and create beauty everywhere."  

Her studio reflects this attitude with abstract art adorning the walls, handmade jewelry atop a chest of drawers and various displays of perfume. We move briefly into the blending room and I marvel at the array of essential oils and the complexity involved in composing perfumes.

Dawn talks about the individual consultations she offers and what they include. "There are many different kinds, depending upon the client's preferences, life experience and current needs."  

Spoken like a true aromatherapist.

As we begin talking perfume in earnest, Dawn asks me a few questions.  I list my top five: Jardin en Mediterannee, Borneo, Black Aoud, Sycomore and Fracas.  I tell her that 2010 is the 'year of the rose.'

Now, we're ready to play with perfume.

I sit down at the counter and Dawn stands on the opposite side on a stool so she can tower over me.  To emphasize this, she makes a gesture of the Scary Perfume Monster. 

Her goofy side unleashes my own.  We laugh a lot.

She's about to teach me the proper way to test many perfumes at the same time.  Of course, those of use who play with perfume constantly have great nose endurance, so we're in for the long haul.

Dawn's system of testing is simple.  And brilliant.

First, the perfumes - approximately 25 of them, chosen by Dawn - are sprayed on cards and examined through the drydown.  Then, I choose the contenders that will be applied to my skin, about 16 perfumes.

The skin test goes like this:

Dawn sprays the end of one of her fingers, then applies the perfume to my arm in a single dab.  "I get the first sniff," she says, breathing in quickly twice, then exhaling through her nose before smelling the spot on my skin.  She repeats this ritual for every perfume, using different fingers, washing her hands once in between so she can continue to apply on both arms.  Dawn tracks the used and unused real estate of my skin carefully.

She is detailed and methodical, just like a Virgo, the sun sign we share.

After both of us enjoy multiple sniffings of all that she has applied, I narrow the field again, making a row of my favorites.  More sniffing ensues until finally, the top three emerge and reflect on my skin as follows:

Memory & Desire - orris and ink, then black licorice, rose and wood

Vetyver - smoke and gasoline, charcoal, rosewood and vetiver

Vintage Patchouly - patchouli, pipe smoke, rose, sandalwood and incense

Dawn understands that rose comes in many forms, a hidden gem within other notes, like the unexpected, but perfect, harmony in a choir.

Many samples accompany the above perfumes, which will show up in future posts.

My experience at Essense Studio is delightful and I highly recommend it to any perfumista.  I look forward to going back and exploring further, perhaps when I move from my 'dark rose' phase into the next, whatever that might be. 

DSH perfumes will still be there.  And so will I.

Thanks, Dawn.

Pictures taken by me and B-man at Essense Studio.

Monday, September 6, 2010

DSH Memory & Desire: Coming Home

B-man and I are in the Denver airport, ready to end our weekend trip with a short flight home.  On Friday, as a courtesy to others, I travel scent free.  But this morning, I feel compelled to apply DSH Memory & Desire, deciding that this is the perfume which will forever mark our weekend in Colorado.

As you already know, I spent a chunk of time Saturday at the DSH Essense Studio in Boulder, which includes the pleasure of meeting Dawn Spencer Hurwitz and reaping the benefits of her perfuming brilliance.

What I will say right now is what some of you may already know; Dawn is an artist to the core and a woman of grace and intelligence. 

I will post about the entire experience once I am home again, where both distance and perspective will help me sort my thoughts and capture all of the meaningful elements of that day. 

For now, I'm simply too distracted and my attention deficit tendencies are running wild.  

For example, in any airport, people watching is irresistible.  I intermittently watch others as I type and keep glancing at B-man on his laptop as if we are in a competition where both the purpose and the grand prize is unknown, but crucial.  

He has no idea he is a contestant. 

Fortunately, in the midst of this chaos (situational and self imposed) I continue to catch whiffs of Memory & Desire, which brings me back to myself. 

On my skin, which Dawn identifies as 'fairly neutral' (I think it best not to argue my specialness), Memory & Desire starts with a bang of orris and ink.  My attention and imagination is piqued upon first sniff.  

Memory & Desire also exudes a smoky, black licorice, rose vibe that lasts through the drydown.  And now, about four hours after application, the smallest hint of civet is revealed. 

Some have described this perfume as 'melancholic.'  In Donna's review, at Perfume Smellin' Things, she bestows this characteristic and says that Memory & Desire is reminiscent of 'waiting for someone...missing someone who is never coming back.'  

How very true.  

Perhaps this is why the wistful composition of Memory & Desire kindles reflections of my past and captures the present longing of my heart.

Much more DSH to come.

Picture from

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mom

Wherever you are, I'm thinking of you and wishing we could celebrate our birthdays - only two days apart - together. 

Over dinner, watching the sunset, I'm thinking of you.

Hope you are spending your special day with all of those you missed so dearly.

I love you, Mom.  Happy Birthday.

Photo from

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Smelling Denver

My nose is working overtime.  

Whenever we go to a different city (until now, I've only flown through Denver), my first thought is 'what does it smell like?'  I always find a souvenir perfume that captures the essence of the experience and keeps the scent of the city alive in my memory.

But before that happens, I endure the smells of traveling.  

Let's begin with the airplane.  Walking through first class seems claustrophobic enough.  By the time we get to our seats, I can't imagine how we're going to a) slither into them, b) place anything at all under the seat in front of us, or c) 'move freely about the cabin' upon reaching cruising altitude.

Plus, once seated, we are stuck with our new neighbors and any aroma they might bring on board.  The first thing I notice is whether or not the guy in front of me appears to have washed his hair in the last 24 hours.  This informs how the air flow valve above me is positioned. 

We are located in the second to the last row, right next to the lavatory, which sees plenty of action on this late morning flight.  Yes, I've read the children's book, "Everyone Poops."  If only it were titled, "Everyone Poops at Home."

Adjusting the air flow again.

At the Denver airport, after a very short flight, my nose can hardly keep up with the onslaught of sillage as we make our way to baggage claim.  In the elevators and, later, in the hotel bar, scents compete for attention (reconfirming that heavy florals do not mix well with food).

Last night, attending the Taste of Colorado festival, my food samples of falafel and roasted nuts match beautifully with the roast beef, beer and metallic base notes of the evening air.  

Early this morning, B-man and I walk the city together.  This is our tradition no matter where we go.  Downtown Denver smells like crisp, mountain air is trying to dominate, but is thwarted by the sweet and stale scent of mixed restaurant leftovers.  Not quite revolting, but sweaty, like a space that athletes have gathered - then abandoned - after finishing their football game.

Perfuming, one of the highlights of our trip, begins in earnest this afternoon.  First up, DSH Essense Studio.

Stay tuned.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

This morning, B-man and I are off to Denver for the weekend!

We're looking forward to checking out the "Taste of Colorado" festival, walking the city and just enjoying each others company. 

On Saturday, I'm very excited to visit DSH Essence Studio in Boulder.  I've been looking forward to it for weeks!  

Today, I give thanks for my life, my love and all the possibilities of the future.

Happy Labor Day Weekend! 


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Ode to Dune by Dior

New Barbie Doll
Mint Julep
Wet Sandy Feet
Vinyl Loveseat
Floating Seaweed
Butter and Honey on Toast

Picture from


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