Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Best of 2009. Or something totally different. I don't know.

Warning: Due to readers' request, there'll be more cellulose.

Helg prompted me to join another joint blog project. A list (or something) of best of 2009 – with all these people participating:
1000fragrances, Smelly Blog, Bittergrace Notes, Shoes-cake-perfume, Scent Hive, Olfactarama, Roxana's Illuminated Journal, Eiderdown Press Journal, A Rose Beyond the Thames, Mossy Loomings, Notes from the Ledge, I smell therefore I am, All I am a Redhead, Perfume In Progress, Savvy Thinker, The Non Blonde and The Perfume Shrine

So now, off you go to read something that is at least a little bit interesting and meantime, I'll watch some of Big Bang Theory.

The general feeling I got from Helg's mail was that it should better be related to perfumery. I didn't have a clue because lately, I've been grumpy and I only felt like creating and filling the category of 'Best kick in the shin'. Nobody volunteered to supply the shin, though, so this one will be lacking and there's just a plain boring list, perfumery included.

Best scent I stumbled upon: Shiseido's Val de Loire vingt et un mai mille neuf cent quatre vingt dix neuf (review will follow), with Shiseido's Basala being a very close second (review will follow)
Best scent I stumbled upon that one can still get somewhere: Chanel's Sycomore (review may follow but it's been ranted about already all over the internetz)
Best scent I stumbled upon and can be bought normally, where 'normally' be defined as 'just about anywhere': Hermes' Le Jardin sur le Nil
Best el cheapo scent: The Body Shop's Rose du Maroc/Moroccan Rose
On a side note, as Notes from the Ledge has it: I'm purging, should you want to inherit a bottle, wait in the queue.
Best stuff for calluses and cracked heels: anything with urea and salicylic acid
Best acne ointment: Skinoren. Doesn't work the slightest but it isn't annoying.
Best antimycotic: not discovered yet.
Best stuff to heal wounds caused by fungi that eat away your calluses and bloody cracks in your heels (works for other wounds, too, but I lack decubits to try on): HemaGel
Best explanation why basic research is useful: HemaGel
Best anti-wrinkle crap: do not grin as I do
Best discovery in clothing: black is the new black
Best discovery in the realm of houseworks: washing powders are oxidizing agents. In normal words, they bleach your things. Mix yours with water, it'll produce bubbles and these will make pale stains on your black clothes. It's about as good as adding that powder that comes with hair decolorants
Best discovery I lack in the realm of houseworks: how to make my stuff black again
Best shoes: Siwa Birks
Best random plant: Any purple Vanda orchid. Nothing that grows naturally should be allowed that kitschy colour. I'll buy one someday, I'm good with the easy orchids
Best music score: the critical edition of Dvořák's Slavonic dances
Best website: Ravelry

I don't think I'm good in lists. I have problems making my own shopping list and choosing what was best and what of the bests should be listed was simply a pain in the arse until I stopped taking it seriously. For much better lists of anything, check The Pillow Book of Sei Shōnagon (Nope, I'm not paid by anyone for advertising old Japanese literature. By the way, that gal would be a damn good blogger, given the opportunity.) or a taxonomy textbook - I haven't read any yet so I don't have any good recommendations. For the esoteric meanings of shopping lists, check Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum – you won't ever try planning your shopping after that. Now, I can go off to knit and eat bon-bons; those who got as far as here can be easily counted, totalling most likely zero.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009


It is not that widely known that I can read. My ability to read leads to another interesting fact, I own books and sometimes even buy some, like, every week or two.

For some reason, I didn't follow the book market in the Reservation (1) for quite a while so I needed to catch up. I tried the easiest and by far most pleasant way, I went to a bookstore with a shopping list.
That proved to be a disappointing experience, the small bookshops were plainly small and with a limited choice so I shrugged and went to find my Homo Ludens on eBay or... well, just somewhere. Apparently, the library copies are either stolen or booked until next August, or, in the case of the one I borrowed, underlined to death and badly bound, to my eternal anger. Weren't the book messed up, I'd go the way of the cheap and copy it but I thought that being a rather small volume, it might not be expensive. I was quite right on the 'not expensive' bit but the expectation that it may be something like available was just too wild. It was last published in the Reservation in 1997 and the library copies are being stolen because it's been sold out since almost forever. After several days of detailed search of the internetz...

Interlude I.
I wandered into a major bookstore and asked a shop assistant armed with a computer if he could please check whether they have, just by chance, Homo Ludens by Jan Huizinga. "Hey- what?" the shop assistant, who idled around the philosophy department, asked. So far for qualified personnel. This was not the worst yet, though.

...and the internetz spat out a Local Bookstore of Hometown, or namely its branch in Anytown. I reserved it online, happy to support a good bookstore, they are one of the best bookstores I know, you know, stuffed to the ceiling, they stock even back numbers of Dance Zone (2) and various oddities and they sort of serve the needs of the Arts Faculty. Or not actually the needs of it but the innermost wishes. I called them asking whether the Anytown branch could somehow transfer my Homo Ludens to Hometown and the lady on the line nicely and floridly explained how busy they are, how busy the pre-Christmas period is, how they have barely any time to breathe and so on for 15 minutes, ending with a piece of highly useless advice: call the boss and when he drives around, he might take the book to the main store. Then she hung up, leaving me to my own means of conjuring up the boss's phone number.
Since the world is smaller than people generally expect, one of my father's companies opened a shop in Anytown about a month ago so I simply asked Dad who said Yeah, fine. I still don't have the book in my dirty paws, though (3), so nothing is certain.

The other thing I wanted to own were the remaining two volumes of Man'yōshū. I've always wondered what naïve yet lovable soul would want to run a publishing house specialized on Asian stuff and Russian literature between the wars. The publishing house closed down since the last time I had checked (no surprise) so I couldn't plainly order it directly from them and as in the case of poor Huizinga, the bookstores didn't stock it.

Interlude II.
Armed with the experience with Huizinga and a shop assistant, I didn't ask about Man'yōshū in case I was sent to a logopedist or something. I browsed Big Bookstore, trying to find the most probable location of the books, which would be the poetry section. The issue was that I couldn't find the poetry section and it wasn't on the store directory. I asked some information woman, she told me that on the second floor somehow to the right. I went there and after careful looking, I found two shelves of poetry squeezed between celebrity cookbooks and romantic novels. Obviously, there was nothing worth looking at and even less anything I would wish to buy.

Another extensive search brought me to the website of the very some Big Bookstore, they did stock both volumes III. and IV. (I was enthusiastic enough to grab the first two when they came out, good for me or else I'd need to steal them from some library nowadays.) They did possibly stock it and would deliver it to their shop of my choice after checking physically that they have it... so I simply ordered the stuff. While searching, Google led me to various weird websites - if I were a sociologist, I'd write a paper on why it's mostly some tie-dyed rabble (C) (4) who is interested in Asia.

Now, I must say that I like the footnotes much better than the actual poetry; most of it is lost in the translation and what remained is rather bland, not that it would be any wonder, though (5). The afterword said that the Czech translation is one of the two complete ones, after René Sieffert's French one. When one has a crazy guy around, things happen.
Footnotes, well. My messy (should you wish to be nice, call it eclectic) library hides various stuff. The obvious books on botany or Italian painting, more dictionaries than one would want to imagine and the less to live with and a well-worn copy of The Princeton's Companion to Classical Japanese Literature (6). It's one of the bestest reference books I ever owned, basically made of footnotes. Glossaries, maps, such stuff. If I weren't such sociophobic chickenshit (7), I'd hit people's heads with it to see a great example of book design. Simple and efficient.

Is still anyone reading this? If so, say 'yes' in the comments, then I may continue in my book rants.

(1) to those who haven't noticed yet, I'm nothing even remotely close to a patriot. Reservation, when used as a designation for the country whose passport I own, is one big bad connotation of self.
(2) the hard copy of the magazine is half in English, not the website
(3)I could, obviously, take a bus and go there on my own. I didn't feel like going anywhere in the pre-Christmas hell of shopping people; it's not far away but getting there by bus or train is somewhat complicated and it would basically mean half-day trip. Why bother if someone goes there for business every now and then? Alas, the someone is chaotic and forgetful.
(4) to put it short, since I'm not a sociologist, just a mean observer of my fellow humans: tie-dyed rabble (C) is a heterogenous group with a few common traits. They tend to wear cheap stuff imported from India or around which looks vaguely ethnic - unbleached, bad fabric ('It isn't bad, it's irregular because it's handmade!'), some of it is even tie-dyed in a crude manner, featuring 'ethnic' patterns and such. These folks also would like to have some spiritual enlightment (I don't want to know what it is, for my mental safety) and for reasons unclear to me, they believe that it is obtained somewhere towards the East and they don't mean, say, Moscow, Christianity is so passé. Thus they become cafeteria Buddhists or something like that. They are the reason why there's no decent tearoom (imagine Willow Tearooms in Glasgow for 'decent tearoom') in this country, all of them cater to the tie-dyed crowd and most tend to look like a Bedouin tent crashing into an Indian brothel, with a few cheap incense sticks thrown in. So, these folks gather around websites that cater to their tastes and the poor innocent Man'yōshū, a poetry collection that has nothing to do with whatever crap the tie-dyed rabble (C) believes in but for being something better for having come from the oh-so-spiritual-oh-so-better East, is discussed there. Blah.
end of pseudo-sociologic rant
(5) find thee some scholarly type from the right field of study to explain why, should you want to know. I'd be only parroting things.
(6) I got it some ten years ago on March 6, 1996 - I have a catalog - in a bookstore that was closed down long, long time ago; they used to have lots of interesting stuff there, so interesting that I never understood their policy and I don't wonder that they closed down eventually
(7) It works in weird ways. I could elucidate someday, I think

Monday, 28 December 2009

Explanation of sorts

This time of year and the weather drive me crazy, along with the low level stress caused by notorious procrastination. I have SAD, more known as winter depression and I'm annoying. Much snarkier and much more sarcastic than usual (1). And the cat constantly shits on the floor which doesn't help anything either.
That's why I'm avoiding communication, I would be whiny in the best case but more likely just plain mean.
I mean, whoever misses me, mail me or send a card. Not getting any sort of Christmas greeting doesn't mean that I forgot about you - exactly on the contrary. I however don't like prefabricated stuff and empty phrases and in case I got personal, probably you wouldn't like it - I can be extremely annoying when I have this sort of crappy mood and in the best case, you would get a long letter about my daily plight with cat poo in the hallway (and yes, it could be worse. Do not ask, you don't want to know) (2). If you send something, do so, I'll be glad. I'm interested in you and whatever you do although my lack of response could hint otherwise - I'm just avoiding the chance to be an asshole. Wait for the spring, then I'll be back to normal... erm, to the better part of my standard state which isn't exactly normal anyway.

(1) yes it's possible
(2) the Cat from Hell is now sleeping on the radiator and most likely will continue for the next four or five hours so she doesn't say hello

Wednesday, 23 December 2009


I got a late invitation for the International Medieval Congress in Leeds (someone dropped out). I had a happy. I told my mom because I wanted to share and she was around.
Fine, she said. I'll go with you and have a nice holiday. And I must buy you a business suit.

Well, yes, I can handle the situation in such a way that I won't see her all day long, I'm good in sneaking away. Then I'll wave her goodbye at the airport and wander around England on my own, full stop.

I wouldn't wear a business suit before I'm dead. This is just a fact, regardless of my mother's fashion preferences. It's in July, a decent top just must do. (In winter, a black cashmere turtleneck would do.)

Also, how do I explain my mother that I'd prefer if she stopped messing with my life?

I can haz influence, I suspect

Yesterday, I did my first perfume consulting.
A dear friend of mine decided that he needs to buy a perfume for his wife. She wore some Puma cologne many years and two pregnancies ago... luckily, R. didn't want it to be a surprise.
The bad thing is that I don't have that many things that would be readily available so I grabbed the few things that just were around, happily forgetting about the readily available and rather generally liked Covet. We had a nice discussion, R. said that if he knew all this ten years ago, he could've impressed the girls; I snidely remarked that, after all, now he can impress customers anyway. I left a handful of samples there - R. himself instantly fell for Terre d'Hermes - and I hear that although P. got J'adore in one of its variants Jardin sur le Nil, I got it wrong on the phone, they had fun sampling stuff.
Feels good.

postscriptum: Starting choosing a gift on the 22th is not advisable.

Christmas spirit

I should feel festive, I suspect. I don't. The whole Christmas thing doesn't get to me. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I'm a Buddhist. Bad one but still, the religious aspect doesn't reach me and the whole peace, love, family , as the vox populi has it, what Christmas celebrate (1). Of course, the peace, love, family is demonstrated by maniacal shopping. I mean, I like gifts, especially those that lack the element of surprise – this year I know that I'll get two pairs of jeans, meaning that I'll be halfway decently (2) dressed until I lose more weight (3). I don't like surprises, they tend to mean a sweatshirt in candy pink with cute satin appliques (blaaaargh; I'm getting that one too, mother bragged what cool stuff she bought for me)(4). But... well, I go grocery shopping and I need to pass through crowds with maniacal faces who are scourging the shops for anything giftable because gifts have to be. And I, a random passer-by, need to be afraid that I might get bitten and infected with Christmas rabies despite having most of my gifts ready since August.

And then there's my mother. She's that sort of indefinable believer in 'something bigger than us' although when directly confronted, she denies any sort of religious inclinations because everybody knows that religion is an irrational product of insane mind, despite its cultural impact. As such, every year, she digs out the crib, angel figures and various dangly shiny crap to plague the house, listens to Christmas Masses on the radio (I mean, music, not the services, church services are booooring), sighs deeply how oh-so-exhilarating it is and I feel like headdesking.

I know I know, I'm whiny. I admit it. The humankind just irritates me these days... I'd love to sit at home alone and read and knit. Alas, I can't.

(1)This is a country populated rather by fierce atheists and equally fierce ignorants than by Christians. The latter do as they fancy but going to church is not that marketable as to be widespread and annoying.
(2)well-dressed is fine with me but just too time and energy consuming to bother with.
(3)enabling me to wear the stuff now living at the back of the wardrobe, bought when I was 25 kilos younger.
(4)this is nowhere near borderline decently dressed.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Kindgom for a bobby pin!

Bad hair day is rather a known phenomenon. It's a day on which bad hair happens to you while you don't have the opportunity to wash, dry and fix it neatly first thing in the morning.

Alright, yesterday I washed my hair. Don't wash out, said the conditioner, effectively conditioning my hair into a huge spongey thing.
Normally, I would brush it neatly and ignore the general lack of lustre. However...
My shoulder hurts like a freaking hell. My right shoulder and I'm right-handed. All I can do with my right is a small range of movements with my arm down.
For your information, I have waist-long hair. Being changed into a clump of something reaching only halfway down my back didn't improve matters. I hate blow-drying and it takes pretty long anyway.
The only option was to try as much as I can do with my left and fix the whole mess into a hippie chic chignon. In fact, my hair never got so bad that a loose chignon wouldn't make it look classy.

It however needs something to fix with. Hairpins, bobby pins, something along the lines, of which I have a bucketful at the other house. Not a single hairpin here. DPNs would do only for a very sleek style, I'm telling you, especially those brand new steel ones, not for a messy mess.

Thursday, 17 December 2009


In fact, it's laryngitis. Confirmed by Jay, M. D., who is oto-laryngo-whatever, throat doc. Now working in Podunk, and since I needed to go to the Podunk archive to fulfill a historiographic obsession of my father (1), I dropped at the hospital. I could barely speak so J. had a peek and diagnosed me. No hamthrax, feel free to come near me.
Apart from making rustling noises, I have clogged nose and can't smell a thing.
Since the temperatures fell, I decided to finish the merino/quiviut sweater. Some damn nasty bug ate a hole in the fabric, luckily two rows away from the provisional cast-off so I ripped the damaged bit; I however need to debug the thing somehow. The weird thing is that there's no trace of the thing that would gnaw it - no worms, no worm poo... well, I'm getting some pesticide and I'll freeze it when not wearing it. Meantime I can worry about my 50 kilos of other yarn, most of it very yummy for vermin.
K. wanted me to knit baby things and I decided that the time for double-point needles of steel, 1,75mm, has come. I dropped to Martina's to get them and on the way back, I went for the monthly grocery expedition to Tesco. While struggling with the self-service checkout (idiotic it is), I opened my bag while the assistant was messing around. I had the DPNs sticking out of a pocket and then the assistant saw them and exclaimed These are Addis, aren't they!!! (2), I said Nope, they are Langs... he started ranting about how he went to a textile design school (3), we chatted for a while since the traffic was rather low... to cut it short, I met another Raveler. He teaches knitting at some community centre, he knows Martina and shops at her place. The world is small.

( 1)basically, he bought a ruin and decided that it has to be ancient and important ruin. It is not but I'm being pushed to do research because my attempts to change his mind are interpreted as my ineptitude and laziness. Nothing to start with, nothing to go by, boring, annoying. Being asked every day whether I found something doesn't help. My mom's enthusiasm doesn't help either - I'mnot going to ask someone's grandma whether there was a garden shed in the garden 60 years ago. I'm a sociophobic chickenshit and I care a damn
(2) including those three exclamation marks
(3) apparently, those mothers who say My child, study hard or else you'll be bagging groceries in Tesco are mistaken. You can end up bagging stuff even with a diploma or two

Friday, 11 December 2009

Just so

I love the Sitemeter thingy. Call me silly, I probably am, but it's quite a bit of fun to see where my readers come from, both geographically and by what lead them to my blog.
Some are regulars, that Bern person is most likely Laura (hi there!); the South African reader may well be K. but as far as I know, she should be internet-less somewhere out in the wild there or there may be more of them in Cape Town. And S. from Uppsala (hi, too). There's one from Orimattila, Finland, too (hi there, who are you? Drop a line in the comments, someday), or someone from Cologne, Germany. No, I'm not making a cheap joke.
Then there are various things that I don't really get. Someone added me to their bookmarks on Delicious (whatever it might be, I don't want to investigate) with this note: Reviews of unusual perfumes. The writer seems to fall for the bottles more than their contents.
Yeah, sure, whatever. But, who the hell wouldn't fall for the creations of Robert Granaï (my beloved Parure bottle, for example; also Mahora but I didn't find the information specifically concerning the extrait bottle... but who else?) or Garouste and Bonetti's Nina Ricci bottles that will get their own post someday (Les Belles, the bottles known among those of different views as dog turd with a crown, Deci Dela), or the Cubist splendour of Barynia (should someone know the sculpting mind behind, I'd love to know)? Damn, I'm an art historian, what would one expect?

Friday, 4 December 2009

The perfumista challenge - update

Yes, you can still join the Perfumista Challenge.

I got several participants, apart from yours truly, there are:
Marla who writes for Perfume-Smellin' Things
Pat of the OlfactaRama blog
Tar from Virginia
Mark from Southern Australia
Melissa who didn't give me her adddress yet
Mark from England
Mary from California
... and that's all. Damn, people, don't be shy and join the project, it will be fun. Invite your friends, too. The more, the better.

There were a few questions, too.

So, yes, you can advertise yourself and your products. I'll be glad to link to your website if you provide me with the URL. I however do have two requests: this should be a perfumista challenge, not an advertising arena so be reasonable. Also, for the swap, create something new, please, and start selling it after we are done with this.

Should you want to throw in more samples, I'm not against it. One sample is compulsory, the rest is your good will or advertising campaign or decluttering. Since not everybody will be willing to sent out samples by handfuls, you are not guaranteed to get the same amount back.

Should someone want to ship locally for budget reasons, let me know, I'll try my best to take it into consideration. However, since the participants are from all over the world, it might not work.

A reminder: the list of participants closes on December 31 to give you time to blend your potions and to avoid the pre-Christmas postal hell. The exchange is a simple daisy chain, you get an address to send your sample to and someone else will send you theirs. I would be glad if you reviewed the fragrance and posted it somewhere online and sent me the link so that I can make a summary. Those who don't have any website on their own can post as guest bloggers here.

Have fun.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Old, somehow

I went to the Clinic of Oral and Maxillar Surgery to the university hospital to get my splint.

In fact, I've grown up around the university hospital. My great-grandma, who used to babysit me pretty often, lived across the street from the medical school; the view of the building, a construction of the 1950's neorenaissance style, on the top of the hill, is one of my constant childhood memories. I hope no damn idiot decides to reconstruct it and repaint it pink.
Another of my childhood memories is being taken to the department of awful diseases when I was ten. Normal people bring normal souvenirs from summer camps, I brought impetigo. Since I was in that age when I was already a bit too shy to run around and showing oozing wounds on my buttocks (or basically wherever), it took a time before it became really apparent. The GP didn't want to have anything to do with it and referred me to the hospital where I was shown to the students; the old dermatologist who was dealing with me said that he hadn't seen such a nicely developed case of impetigo for decades. I don't think I got to textbooks.
I also spent a memorable holiday in the psych ward there - I had the advantage of losing illusions about (a) shrinks (b) general humankind in the tender age of 19, thus becoming cynical years to decades earlier than the average fellow citizens. Thus my awful sense of humour. Times of crisis are a sort of social accelerator - whatever is in people, gets to surface. In case of the people around me, it was hysterical denial of eessues, such a cute sweet girl from a good family couldn't have a reason for a nervous breakdown, obviously.
My dad did get to textbooks - really. With his two malarias. At the same time; they sent him off to a specialized centre for tropical diseases where the docs said that before him, three or four Europeans had survived such a combo. (For your information, now he's sitting downstairs, chain smoking.)
We used to live across the street from the hospital, our post office was in one of the houses that were engulfed by the hospital... then we moved to the other end, not exactly across the street, grandma lived across the street, we lived one house down the hill. It was just somehow around.
We've moved away some 15 years ago.
In other circumstances, I've become suddenly aware how I was formed by the landscape. The hills on the other side of the valley, creating a horizon and my decreased ability to live in flatlands. The hill with medical school on the top.

A quiz question for regular readers: Why didn't I study medicine?

Knitting status

Exchange between one of the Ravelry editors and yours truly:

losingcount (verbatim): Not sure if you realise it but many of your photos from Flickr are not showing up. Since you are the premier collector of Noro on Ravelry ;-) this is a great loss!

me (paraphrased): I know, my flickr account is messed up, I need to sort out my yarn and take new pics.

losingcount (verbatim): No pressure! It’s just that you are the Noro Queen.

Not that I wouldn't know that I happen to be engulfed by heap of yarn, sometimes called The Legendary Stash of Noro. Those who are allowed into the esoteric waters of Ravelry, will see that most pics are missing as of writing this post. The muddles non-Ravelers need to believe me. I'm slowly fixing that, with great joy because I can play with beautiful yarn.

My new sweater. Just bragging.

Something like winter

It has been sunny until a few days ago. As if the autumn and winter were cancelled and late summer advanced straight into early spring.
Today, I found that it's below zero the hard way. The mailwoman rang to deliver a book (De Boccard rocks, I placed an order on around Monday and by now, it's here), I wanted to go down to the garden door and, well, slid half of the stairs.
Winter has started.

Yesterday I got two boxes of blown-glass Christmas ornaments. Now I need to pack the goodie boxes and go to the post office (again, hate) to mail them off before the Postal Doom of Christmas. For that, I need to find that movie I promised to BM, and some yarn to add (I seem to have lots of buddies in Ravelry, that's why). For that, I need to sort out my yarns. So, again, this place looks like there was an explosion.

Oh, life.

Thursday, 26 November 2009


Tähti had some warts removed and now she's sick. Miserably terribly sick and I'm her evil human who leaves her alone, doesn't scratch her behind her ears and talk to her, instead I'm cleaning her puke and diarrhoea. No worries, it's the side effects of the anaesthetics (1).

I like having the cat around. I've agreed on a sort of modus vivendi - while I was abroad, I left the cat at grandparents' who claimed her their own. My mother doesn't like coming home from work only to be stopped by Cat from Hell who is all velcro and wants to tell her what she's beend doing all day long while mom wants tea and peace. I want the cat here to have her around. So, I can have her at home when I'm here. Fair enough, with extra spicy logistics.

So, I have the cat around which means going to the guest bedroom every now and then to say something soothing. Not exactly that sort of fun I expected.

(1) The carpets would argue about the 'no worries' bit.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009


Helena Rubinstein launched a new fragrance, Wanted. It keeps in line with several recent launches, to my mind comes Idylle, that feature sugary fruits and linoleum and I find them all equally uninteresting. The last Rubinstein's fragrance before Wanted, of which I may want a sample to ponder upon but not a drop more, was Barynia, launched in 1984 and long discontinued.

I have a large box full of random miniatures. I use them as testing material, they are still larger than sample tubes, easy to get rid of towards collectors and some are even pretty (one would think about several starry creations of Thierry Mugler, for example). One of the pretty ones is Barynia, too. The usual bottle, differing only in size for the miniature and a full-size one, is a neat piece of Cubist sculpture, featuring a prism on hexagonal base, with burgundy cube-shaped lid, standing on its vortex. More showy version existed at least on the adverts, with crystal cubic stopper. And you guess right that with my predilection for all things pretty and shiny, I would love to have this bottle.

The box design follows the Cubist inspiration. I wonder whether the creator of the bottle and packaging had Cubist architecture of Prague on their mind, since it's the only source of direct inspiration I can think of. It could have been plain geometry, though.

Alas, the purse atomizer design lacks the enchanting juxtaposition of a prism and a cube, it was reduced to a simple crystallic form. Well done geometry, still; I wish I could rave like this about many more bottles.

The fragrance itself was a bit puzzling to me. It doesn't go too well with my skin, it seems to be a boring fruity-woody something and remains so for half an hour before disappearing into oblivion. It took me a while to get the ingenious idea of trying it on fabric but without the interference of my evil sweat, it gets much better. After the first blast of something weird (in the last few days, I have a general impression that many perfumes just start ugly) but after a while, it settles not to fruity-woody-boring but to.... intensive salty tone I seem to find in Amazone by Hermes (1) or, to a certain degree, in Via Lanvin (2). All three of the fragrancs were launched in the earlier 80's so I sense a tendency.
I wasn't able to find notes for this fragrance, only Perfume Intelligence says 'floral bouquet, classified as b3f' (3), I'd add spices and a handful of musk. It is very eighties, strong and pervasive and I'm talking only about the eau de parfum, I didn't bring myself to trying the parfum. For those who are scared of the eighties' powerhouses like Opium, be assured that Barynia is much lighter, it's violets and lily of the valley that spread across the whole room, not spices and musk.
Barynia has been discontinued for years but it is possible to find it in the internets at a few discounters, mostly in eau de parfum concentration.

Advert taken from Parfum de Pub, the neo-Cubist paper comes from Kubista.

(1) I plan to get some soon so a rant or a review should follow
(2) There's extrait waiting for me at O.'s and a huge bottle of eau de toilette in the P-space
(3) here and no, I don't know what 'b3f' means. I should find out someday.

Monday, 23 November 2009


Launched in 2000, discontinued in 2006, reformulated and sold in Les Parisiennes collections as Mayotte.

I would gladly say that Mahora is unremarkable but it wouldn't be true. It is indeed very remarkable. Like being hit with a tuberose scented brick and choked by roses and then drowned in coconut suntan lotion. It's overwhelming in the worst sense of the word. I had a sample of the eau de toilette concentration and it was all coconut - it's not listed in the fragrance notes but I do smell it there.
Now, I got rid of whatever of Mahora I had (I must say that I'm not sure at this point because a part of my collection sort of oscillates between me and my friend O. so that Mahora might have been hers or there were more specimens) and then I saw the extrait.

The 'normal' eau de parfum bottle, as seen on the advert featuring Elsa Benitez and Ayers Rock is a weird art deco-ish mess of shapes which was designed by Robert Granaï and, well I think it was a mistake.
I suspect that the extrait flacon was a way how Monsieur Granaï regained his reputation. The heavy golden pebble with a glass window that shows the golden liquid is utterly cool.

From the concave side, it looks like a model of some small universe, with a sun and a purple satellite.

Still, the fragrance didn't get any better in the extrait concentration. It is more rosey, sweet and sickening, and dries down to overwhelming coconut soap. I can barely bring myself to smell it from the blotter in fear that I may die of too much sweetness.

I bought it because of the flacon. I admit it. Apparently I'm not the only one who detests Mahora because nobody wants the decanted content so that I could use this lovely pebble bottle for something that actually smells nice.

Perfume notes for Mahora by Guerlain:
top notes: orange, aldehydes, almond blossom
middle notes: tuberose, jasmine, neroli, ylang-ylang, frangipani
base notes: sandalwood, vanilla, vetiver

Mahora is discontinued and it was a good riddance. Widely available in the internetz, just look around. Or I can send you that extrait in a neat roll-on bottle.

Sunday, 22 November 2009


I won't write about things already written.

I heard that it's rather a strong lilac scent. It's November and if you killed me, I'm not able to recall the smell of lilac, I suspect that there are not that many in Italy where I spent the spring. There are two lilac bushes just under the window of my flat but they totally are not in bloom.
I suspect that I should wait until May but I don't want to. Guerlinade is a thing of pure beauty although I have problems defining why. A sign that there's something interesting going on. It reminds me of rosin, the stuff used for making the pointe shoes less slippery; there was a box of the brittle clumps in the corner of the room... damn, it seems such a long time since I was in the classes.
There is something delicately resiny in Guerlinade and the close vicinity to floral notes and something powdery beneath makes it a gem. Indeed, it is multi-faceted, at one point being resiny and then floral, heavy yet subtle at a same time, and again it changes into powdery. I adore the general lack of sweetness and the staying power and...

Eh, well, I have two bottles. That says it all.

Guerlinade was a limited edition launched in 1998 and then in 2005 for the opening of the Guerlain flagship store in Paris. I'm not absolutely sure whether it is still available from the Guerlain boutique but I think not - then the only possibility how to get it would be a collector selling one off. Alas.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Anse Turquoise

Manuel Canovas started in 1963 as a conpany producing printed fabrics and wallpapers.

In 2007, a line of scented candles and fragrances was launched and the generous lady of Beauty San, the Italian distrubutor flooded me with their samples upon hearing that I'm a perfume blogger (1). I sniffed it but somehow didn't bring myself to give it thorought attention until recently

The Canovas Fragrance website only offers information on the scented candles, explaining their inspiration thusly:

There were many inspirations that prompted Monsieur Canovas to create these elements for home: his French childhood, Indian art, refined colours, the perfection of Japanese graphic arts and geometry, nature, American folk art and his travels to the Far East.

I suppose the same may be applied to the perfumes: a pêle-mêle that may be interesting or lead to a disaster. When I read the notes for Anse Turquoise, I expected the latter because muguet and caramel sounded at least suspicious. The result was however pleasing.
At first, there is the proclaimed magnolia and muguet but soon enough, another tangy, almost adstringent note that I seem to associate with tuberose (or jasmine) and bergamot resurfaces. And, obviously, caramel. It is not strongly present but the sweet buttery something juts from under the heap of flowers, rendering them more rounded. Sometimes the scent seems to be almost buttery.
Oddly enough, the drydown gets almost metallic - I guess it's caramel and the citrus notes combined that create this effect.
The inspiration is the Goa fabric design - green canvas with orange corals and pink seashells, as well as the Port of Gustavia at St. Barth. I somehow associate holiday fragrances with myrtle and similar fresh notes, such as Hyle or Agave, this one could work rather well.

The whole fragrance line of Manuel Canovas, Les fantaisies parfumés, can be obtained from the Canovas Fragrances site and at various retailers for $95 for a 100 ml bottle of eau de parfum.
Notes for Anse Turquoise:
top notes: magnolia
middle notes: citruses, ylang-ylang, Ceylon cinnamon, muguet, tuberose
base notes: caramel, amber, Peruvian balsam, oakmoss

Picture taken from the Canovas Fragrances

(1) laugh if you wish

Sociophobic chickenshit goes to school, part II.

I made it. Been to lectures. Nobody bit me.
I even asked one of the lecturers if there may be the lecture materials available since I spent six weeks working on my doctoral thesis in Stockholm. He didn't blink and said that the presentations will be placed on the internetz in December.
It's fun.
Sure, I need to print out the syllabi and check the books, I might not get so tough as to ask but I think I love the whole thing.
Now I should only kick my ass hard enough to finish my doctoral thesis. Le sigh.


I promised a series on random mainstream fragrances. Next in the line is a very recent launch, Vintage by Kate Moss.

Dear readers, I even bought a trashy magazine to get a sample so there's around 1.50 euros I'll never get back (the time spent on the toilet is well-spent even when browsing a trashy magazine so I won't complain about that one), one stained tissue and a bit of olfactory boredom. Jacques Polge who created Vintage could indeed do better, see Coromandel or the 1990's reformulation of Soir de Paris.
Well, yeah. Passable and boring. After several rather unpleasing experiences, I carefully dropped a bit of the juice on a tissue. The notes are nicely separable, there indeed is bergamot that fights pink pepper (known from Kate Moss's previous fragrance, Kate; the gal seems to have a weak spot for it) and something freesia-ish. Freesia is known for being difficult to capture in perfumes, there's no freesia absolute or synthetic fresione to start with. A point for getting close enough, with that slightly acidic undertone. After a while, sweeter notes creep to the attention, along with a touch of powdery musks.
And that's all, folks. Weren't there for the pink pepper, it would be indefinable floral, while a touch of spices changes it into barely definable floriental. It's also totally linear, when the first whiff of alcohol and bergamot evaporates, there's that peppery floral forever. To be exact, until it all gives up, the fragrance doesn't have particular staying power and I guess that on my skin, it would disappear soon enough.

It's not bad as such, in fact, I wouldn't cringe if I got it for Christmas. I also suspect that since it is not the usual random indefinable floriental, it will get a decent following. Well, help yourself and I'll go back to my dark strange fragrances.

Vintage by Kate Moss should be available just about everywhere. Hide in a hardware store if you're fed up with it.
Fragrance notes for Vintage:
top notes: bergamot, pink pepper, freesia
middle notes: jasmine, heliotrope, almond blossom
base notes: musk, tonka bean, vanilla


I love camellias. I have three around the house, all of them survived various vicissitudes (cat nipping the buds, mom putting them in full sun to have a bit of light and then wondering why the burned leaves...) but they never really bloom too much. They are fickle - needing lots of light while they shouldn't be exposed to direct sunlight, the soil shouldn't ever get dry but too much water is no good either, the buds start growing around August but camellias bloom in winter. And they shed the buds on any occasion - draft, lack of nutrients, bad mood, anything. One even doesn't need a herbivorous cat.

The Universe already tried a few tricks to prevent me from travelling. Jesus, Buddha and Elvis probably were happy with their mission so far so now Phase II started, to keep me at home. Not that everything worked perfectly well, just yesterday, after a long pause, my mom dusted off the old routine of You're so disgustingly fat that it hurts to look at you and you'll die a miserable death of Type II diabetes, which I doesn't call particularly persuasive argument for Home Sweet Home.

Anyhow, the camellia blossomed. My mother announced it with pride (not sure what was she proud of, that she's as good windowsill farmer as I am? that she's been watering the plants well?), I thought to myself So far so good and pondered how come that it's pink when I clearly remember having one white and one purple. Plants are weird, I'm telling you.

As anyone who has come close enough knows, camellia blossoms are not fragrant at all. Obviously, all plants have a certain smell, they smell of, well, plants.

Hanatsubaki means, if internets are right, camellia blossom. It's a limited edition fragrance produced by Shiseido which was never on sale, only given to a few chosen in 2008, when it was created as a re-edition of the original Hanatsubaki created in 1917 (follow the link to see the wonderful bottle of cut glass. The new one is by far not as exciting).
I'm not a chosen one, I'm just a humble hunter-gatherer with a thing for Shiseido. So I simply hunted-gathered the fragrance out in the wild. Knowing the lack of smell in camellias, I expected a grand abstract composition evoking the tough green foliage and fragile flowers that, if one is a good gardener (1), cover the branches and consequently the floor, or, if one is lucky to live in the right climate and can grow them outside all year long, the snow. Camellias indeed can stand frost and snow but sun burns them (2).
I was surprised because... nothing. I smelled subtle and fleeting citruses, jasmine (not sure about that one, it colours the juice quite significantly but this one is almost colourless) or possibly tuberose, there is that specific tang of tuberose plus bergamot, something generally fruity and a pinch of rose (the soapy sort) and that was all.

At first, I thought that it was my skin that ate the fragrance. I tried a time-honoured trick and dabbed a bit of the fragrance onto a tissue and kept it in a sealed bag (that zippered one). It lets the perfume develop and usually lasts for a few days or even weeks. Nope, the day after, everything was gone.

I've experienced a similar effect that The Scent by Issey Miyake a few months ago and discussed it with Helg. I hardly smell The Scent, which can be said about most fragrances by Issey and also about nearly all Kenzo's stuff. Helg agreed to my theory that it may be some specific anosmia to whatever musks form the base. Could be.

I however have another theory which I like much more: it's a joke. Camellia scent. Great abstract synthesis of lack of smell.

I don't really get one thing. Maybe someone in the know may explain. The outer box says Hanatsubaki and adds some rants in Japanese (3) while the inner box (pretty pink leatherette with blue sheen, I want such a nail paint, damn) and the bottle says Euthrixine, adding in a language similar to English (4): 'The origin of our ways lies in bringing each customer ultimate beauty and well-being.' I suspect it is a contorted way of saying We care about the customers. Doesn't explain Euthrixine. Comments and clarifications welcome.

The stopper, being a glass ball, is in fact a lens, too, showing my windowsill garden reduced in size, distorted and upside down. So far for jokes.

I sent a sample to Helg, I'll prompt her to try what she can make up from that one.

(1) so, not yours truly
(2) something like me, wearing birks until in November, mom gets pissed and says that I'm mad, and getting rash when exposed to direct sunrays. No wonder that I like these damn plants.
(3) no I don't know all languages despite the gossip. And yes, there is lots of gossip and I've experienced people asking unbelievingly "Oh you really don't speak Icelandic?", adding humility to the list of my non-existent virtues.
(4) I see words but not sense

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Sociophobic chickenshit goes to school, part I

I got scared last week and simply flunked. I tried but I forgot my schedule at home and I found myself in the building, not being sure where to go and what lecture it should be so I ran away.
This week, I decided that I'll make it. I needed to go to the students' office to clear something up and I managed. I also managed to prolong my university ID and dropped at the library but it's not a big deal. I yet have to go to an actual lecture, it starts in an hour or so, and I'll need to explain why the hell I appear after six weeks of courses. The explanation along the lines of I wasn't around, I was rotting in Stockholm, writing my doctoral thesis, causes a bit of confusion. At least it's not only me who is confused (my default state when in new places with new people) so I feel less crappy.
There's one funny thing. The Natural Sciences are next door from the medical school and one can well see on the tram who goes where. Future docs wear woollen coats and elegant stuff, biologists are generally underdressed for anything but a field trip.

Monday, 16 November 2009


I've become rather fed up with travelling lately. These days, things do not improve.

On Friday, I was going to see my dear friend O., got my bus ticket a few days ahead, knowing that there could be pretty much traffic on Friday afternoon. After a lovely perfumista meeting, I rushed to the bus station, gave the ticket number to the steward, he couldn't find me in the list neither by name, nor by codes so they called the Centre and found out that I did indeed buy a ticket for the same line, same time, same date... opposite direction.
Yesterday, on my way back, I went on autopilot; Platform 4, to the right, upstairs, to the left, where the trains in my directions always are. I settled in the compartment, started reading a trashy novel I snatched at O.'s, noticed that the train is going in the opposite direction but the tracks of Prague are one huge Gordian knot with some reconstructions going on and in my case, it was possible to get on the right track both by going ahead or back. After a while I noticed that it the train was going totally elsewhere and when I pondered how could I get home at midnight, it stopped on a suburban station. Well, I hopped off, took the metro (a person I used to know lived in the general area so I at least knew where I was. It could be worse), got back to the central station (I wonder whether it's still named the Woodrow Wilson station? I think not, it would sound too creative to the administrators...), took the next train and at least that worked fine.

Still, it seems that Buddha, Elvis and Jesus are telling me to sit at home. Not gonna happen, alas.

Meantime, I'm corresponding with the railway e-shop, their System ated my tickets due to lack of idiot-proofing. Now, I need to persuade them to give me my money back.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Celebrity perfumes and a perfumista strikeback

It appears that every other arsehole (1) that appeared on TV need to have a fragrance with their name on the bottle. I have this mostly secondhand, I don't watch TV and I happily ignore most of the popculture until it comes and hits me on the head (2).

Not that I'd be totally against celebrity perfumes, why shouldn't Jane Famous have a perfume and after all, I'm a fan of Covet. I've not seen a single epizode of Sex in the City, for your information, and I got to know Covet two years on Arlanda airport, waiting for my flight to Helsinki and then Rovaniemi, with nothing to do, so I perused the possibilities offered by the duty-free store and I decided that I needed this one.
I also hear that the rare eponymous fragrance of Catherine Deneuve is a damn good one, and that Alain Delon or Omar Sharif didn't put their names on expensive and badly functioning toilet fresheners. But... well, the likelihood that every Jane Famous of this world is able to produce a halfway decent fragrance is small. And the world goes with the statistics.
Alas, I'm not really able to give examples of crappy celebrity perfumes with explanations why I think so - the reason is that they are not unforgettably crappy but so interesting that they fall into oblivion five minutes after being hurled into one's nose.

We collectively whined about it and being who I am, a master of terrible jokes, I proposed that every totally unknown and incelebre perfumista should blend something. For the equilibrium; and since perfumistas have an idea about scents, even if their resources are limited, the likelihood that every and each one of them comes with something more interesting than Eau de Betty Well-Known is high.

I discussed the idea of some sort of swap with Helg of Perfume Shrine and she was pretty enthused and the final decision is thus: there'll be a simple swap round. Every participant will submit their address and they'll get another one where they'll send their creation. I wouldn't oblige the recipients to write a review or comment but it would be more fun if they did (4).

To join the bunch of swappers, mail me at rosa (dot) pendulina (at) yahoo (dot) se. Helg says that I'm sane and I think you may trust her that I won't steal your private data, reprogram your radio and teach your cat Finnish so that she won't obey you.

The deadline for joining is [frantic thinking about some random date...] December 31. On New Year's day, you'll get an address where to send something - in order to give you time to actually prepare something if you don't have it at hand, and to avoid the pre-Christmas postal madness.

Have fun.

(1) I don't intend to imply that everybody who appears on the TV is an arsehole. Just some of them
(2) very unpleasant, I'm telling you.
(3) as far as I can judge (5)
(4) adding Christmas cards or chocolate to the perfume samples is absolutely permitted. I don't go with the trend of high cocoa content, those are too bitter, if I may please
(5) no I don't know what this relates to

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Olfactory overload

I promise, there'll be a blog about knitting someday soon.

Due to severe improvisations in my travel plans, it occured to me that I might organize a perfumista meetup in Prague, which I did. The idea was met with enthusiasm, a handful of people with lots of bottles arrived, effectively scaring the waitress in the café where the whole thing happened. The gal wasn't any less shocked when I told her that we're just a bunch of hobbyists.
I continued to Podunk for a weekend at O., my friend to whom I had quite a bit of mail sent when I was abroad. Now, there's a huge box of perfumes and a huge bag of yarn, and some of them damn rock. Since O. is another perfumista, although not even halfway that crazy as I am, it made a good party. She fell in love with Via Lanvin and immediately got herself a huge bottle for Christmas...
Hopefully, tomorrow we do some pics, it's more fun when there're more people around. I'll be back to blogging on Wednesday.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

More than cool news

I've vaguely mentioned that my parents have a huge house and that at the time being, I live there.
What I haven't mentioned is that I sort of outgrew my old room (some 40 square metres. My whole two room apartment, known as Home II., is 55 square metres and it's a comfy one, to give you the idea, and still in a need of lots of cleaning), ran out of shelf space and since I don't have any suitable walls, I'm stashing books on the floor again. The idea that I may take over the sparsely used guest bedroom hung in the air for a while but somehow, today I asked my mother in desperation over the book piles if I may actually use it.
To my surprise, she was totally fine with it, didn't say anything like Well, sometimes when there's time, we'll discuss it. She even offered me her bedroom, that she'd take the guest bedroom. I was even promised that huge wardrobe of birch and cherry wood. It means some wall painting and carpeting - the lilac carpet is fifteen years old and looks like that and it's lilac. Now I have to decide how to sort it all out... but hey, I'll have a wardrobe, I won't need to store stuff in various boxes in the attic.

Also, after a few minor clashes regarding the cat, now living with my grandparents, the cat is allowed when I'm at home; when I'm travelling, she'll be back to grandparents. (Mental note: I need another litterbox and a few scratching boards.) Apparently, my willingness to do some cleaning when father is arguing whenever given any chance, works.

Now I'm off to a little happy dance.

Bassano del Grappa, several weeks ago.

My father is an occasional rally driver. My mother hates all this car races business so it's not talked too much at home and I've never been to any such event before.
So, I was about to leave Italy, my father was in the country.. and it was for the Bassano Rally. Obviously. My basic plan was to hang around Bassano, for sure they should have a municipal museum there, I had been there for a short visit a year ago, so why not.
And, I was apparently somewhat mislead by my mother's comments on low intelligence of the car guys and general idiocy of car races so I wasn't anything like eager to mess around.

Dad had some official business to do (a welcome from the Mayor or something) so he sent 'the guys' to pick me at the station, giving me a phone number of one. 'A blonde gal with big blue suitcase and even bigger black bag, at the 2138 train', I told the guy and didn't think anything. There were three waiting at the platform, happily arguing who'll carry my things, fourth one waiting in the car, making silly jokes along the lines of Hey, Joe was afraid to go alone, he was afraid with one to accompany him, he was afraid even when there were two with him, so there's four of us.
I was driven to the depot, where the service trucks were parked and the service guys camped there. It was somehow a bigger affair than I had imagined. I was offered food, drink and several chairs, I was introduced to more mechanics and guys of unclear function than I was able to remember... and surprise surprise, despite my mom's depreciating comments, they were no arseholes.

It was dad's birthday. We went to eat out with four of the guys and as I happen to know Italian, I need to wait two events before the guys discuss it and tell dad back, who then tells mom, to hear how cool I am to speak Italian.

One of The Guys came to Bassano only to see the races and he had a car there so he offered to give me a ride to actually see something.

Not that the race would be that interesting as such, there're cars, engines burn 106 octane gasoline, exhaust gases are stinky... but it's fun. Also, the organizers simply closed off the local road and since it was all happeningin the mountains, to watch something, one either had to camp somewhere there or use even the more local local roads.

There was a stuffed fox in one bend. I asked one of the police guys why but he only shrugged; dad later said that it's apparently some local ongoing joke, that the fox was there even the year before and that he damn panicked because hitting any animal in, say, 150 km/h is not nice. Nor is it nice to get remnants of any animal from the car innards.

I spent all day messing around the cars. No nice pics from otherwise nice Bassano - I didn't get a chance to go downtown. Next time.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

In Bloom

I planned to do a series on mainstream fragrances for a while but I somehow couldn't bring myself to start.
And, there's been this advert on TV for a while.

I do watch movies. Admittedly, movies supplied by my friend, known under the nom de guerre Sadako, whose taste is pretty odd (1) and who sends me a pack of something from time to time. I also read Journals for Ladies that Have no Intellect (2), that's how I became aware that Ms. Witherspoon is an actress. I'd have to ask Sadako to ensure me in my strong suspicions that Ms. Witherspoon never appeared in any of the movies, although I might have seen something by accident, my parents have a TV and they even use it for something else than a flowerpot post (3). When I have the chance, though, I quite enjoy watching the adverts. They tell more about the state of humankind than fifteen award-winning documentaries. That's how I noticed the new Avon fragrance, In Bloom by Reese Witherspoon (4). I thought, what a crime on that satin, to dye it this colour that oscillates between very old cream (5) and, erm, diluted final products of digestion.
Today I had some travelling to do, and for three hours on the train, Journal for Ladies that Has no Intellect is a perfect thing. It contained a sample of the abovementioned fragrance so I thought it a divine sign to start a series on something mainstream.

I confess, I was ready to write a long rant about a boring crappy fragrance. I am prejudiced. To my surprise, it was not crappy. I dissected the blister that hid the sample vial, laid it aside and continued typing this post and then stopped and tried to find out what is this rather nice smell here. Not that easy task, since I am where I am, I organized an impromptu perfumista reunion and I have five ziploc bags full of samples on this very table. Ten seconds later, I got the point and tried the fragrance on my hand.
And then I went Damn, this thing has what I miss in Chanel's Gardenia, and there's none of that damn stickysweet coconut. It starts with magnolia, in fact, and as Ms. Witherspoon described, it was inspired by her childhood memory:
"In developing In Bloom, I found myself drawn to the scents of my childhood in Tennesse. We had a great big magnolia tree in the backyard and it’s that beautiful white blossom that inspired the perfume. In Bloom is indicative of where I am in my life today. I’m feeling very strong and independent, and so happy, so full of life. The fragrance truly captures that feeling – it’s very sensual, very romantic and alluring."

I cannot say anything about Tennessee, I have a friend there but I wouldn't say she'd want to share a house with anything romantic, alluring or, heavens forbid, sensual. She's a crazy cat lady with a thing for Murasaki, as far as I know, and if something is far from romantic and sensual, as well as from In Bloom by Reese Witherspoon.
That magnolia, along with whatever flowers may be there - various sources, from Avon themselves to gossip mags say 'fresh flowers' or 'magnolia and jasmine' (6) is fresh, crispy and adstringent, as if ground along with its leaves. Synthetic jasmine it may be, it is sort of less smooth than jasmine absolute. The freshness wanes and doesn't change into ambery sweetness as the Avon site would want us to think. It stays pleasantly tart - there's peaches and tea, the sample card says peach leaves tea (7), and that's what it is. Infusion of fresh and somewhat bitter leaves.
Alas, after a while, the freshness wanes and I'm left with rather sweet drydown. Not sticky sweet, just sort of indefinably fruity-sweet with a handful of cut grass thrown in, and, oddly enough, cucumber.

I would want a scent that reminds me of freshly crunched camellia leaves. I have a sort of synesthesia problem, Guet Apens is flesh-coloured chalk to me in colour, texture and taste, for example, so freshly crunched camellia leaves may be actually nearly anything. Une Fleur de Chanel gets pretty close, so does Aqua Allegoria Herba Fresca (8), but from the other side.

Summed up and underlined: If I got this as a gift, I wouldn't be offended. It doesn't have any evocative power for me, though, which renders it rather bland... bland with cucumber.

I sense some affinity to Une Fleur de Chanel, dearly loved and cried upon her decease so someone may find very reasonable substitute - since this is a limited edition, Une Fleur lovers, check and get a lifetime supply soon, it may work for you. Without the excellent staying power, though.

One way or another, this is a celebrity fragrance, the hell! and it's not crap. The world isn't coming to an end anytime soon.

Notes for In Bloom by Reese Winterspoon:
Top notes: Peach, tea, aldehydes
Middle notes: gardenia, magnolia, jasmines
Base notes: cashmere wood, flowers, amber

(1) in movies she prefers, the venerable curse of I'll have your guts for garters won't stay in the realm of curses.
(2) the journals, not necessarily the ladies who read them
(3) for the slower of mind: I'm not a TV person
(4) there's a fragrance called simply In Bloom, also by Avon, and this Reese Witherspoon edition may be a flaner. Or not. But this is my blog and one of the unwritten rules says no celebrity names in the titles of the posts. Live with it
(5) think too long at the bottom of the fridge, no associations with old rose or old gold
(6) low prices, wide choice, apparently
(7) see note 6
(8) both reviews coming someday soon

What do people have for brains?

I moved back to my apartment. My friend I. rented it to students and it happened that nobody checked it after the last batch, and apparently, in general, nobody checked thoroughly. I discovered a hole in the door - eye-high, not after a kick - masked by a postcard (by linguistic analysis of the unfinished message, it was the French guys who were here around a year ago and I'll go after their heads) and two soup bowls missing. 19 euros apiece, from an artisan in Regensburg. The contract people were to sign was that things will be replaced piece per piece. They apparently got it wrong and replaced my wonderful soup bowls by that cheap crap from Tesco that will go in the trash tomorrow.
In trash ended a larger amount of trash (I wonder, do normal people keep soda bottles and potato chip bags under their beds?), bed linen that dirty that I didn't want it in the house, various objects that were left behind. The pack of filters did not go to the trash, I intend to investigate what the hell the people smoked in MY place, which is by all definitons a non-smoking place.
I also found some interesting (1) gunk in the drawers - apparently the kitchen drawers got so gunky that people gradually moved everything out in the space, thus the crammed countertop. I ventured into some of the cupboards, threw away umpteen kilos of various flours (they tend to go bad and/or get inhabitants).
I found a shoebox with holes in the lid. The pleasant surprise was that it didn't conceal a dead hamster but a brand new checkered kitchen towel - fair enough.
There's a student of medical school. She readily moved from my room to the other one, helped me with the cleaning and when I told her that I wasn't here for a year, she went Eh? and said that she thought I was gone for a month or so and that I was that pig. Apparently, my cleaning cum cursing enthusiasm rather surprised her, too. No wonder, given the initial premise.

To add insult to injury, just today, there's the meeting of the housing co-op. I'll get in the gossips again and I'll be asked studip questions.

Due to shortage of chlorine-based disinfectant (2) I ventured to Tesco and got two bottles of wine. Today's evening will be devoted to solitary alcoholism. More gunk fights tomorrow.

Friday, 6 November 2009

In the fog

Sure, I promised a heap of perfume reviews but the weather refuses to cooperate.

Not that messing with perfumes would need sunny weather per se, but as some of you may have noticed, I prefer to plague this place with homemade photography instead of linking nice pictures from the internet. I like to think that I'm a decent photographer although I have doubts. And although this is way from a dark house, it's so dark outside that I can't take halfway decent pictures (1).

Yesterday, I finally managed to call the dental clinic and was told that they deal with joint problems Thursday afternoons so I could continue in the dental odyssey that started sometime in summer when I chipped another tooth. My dentist says that I'm eating my own teeth, she always whines about too much abrasion...
[Here a break comes. I checked wikipedia to find the right words and descriptions for halfway understood explanations and I found out that jaw clenching is a sleep disorder. The smartass name is bruxism and yes, it does sound rather like some nasty contagious disease]
... caused by bruxism. And that my lower jaw is not properly aligned, leading to more wear on one side, plus eating my teeth, resulting in extensive dental sculpting and reasonable yet not exactly welcome bills. And achy temporomandibular joint.
In fact, twice in winter the left TMJ decided to be annoying so much that I could barely open my mouth to speak so I lived on thin gruel, ibuprofen and Chianti. Especially the last bit was rather pleasurable but there were certain issues. Like being tipsy every evening. So, the expert decision was to make a splint that would keep my lower jaw in place. I hope they make them with Chianti flavour. Chocolate would do, too, obviously.
Interestingly enough, the hospital dentist said that the TMJs hurt more in this depressive weather. Maybe they have SAD, too?
[Now I read that symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder aka winter depression are oversleeping and craving for carbohydrates. That sucks, I wanted to lose some weight before spring.]

I'm going to check the wine cellar (2), my TMJ is winter-depressive and hurts.

(1) no, captain Obvious, I don't have a studio
(2) this is a BIG house, although admittedly, it's not a proper wine cellar where I'm aimed. In the wine cellar proper, I store my wine collection. The stuff that gets drunk doesn't get that much care.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Travel themes

I'm not sure whether my associations are what Elena calls intertextuality. I call them synaesthesia. Both may be wrong. Anyhow, Elena is my semi-evil enabler and probably without intending or knowing so, she inspires me. To embedding, for example.

Umpteen years ago, I saw Working Girl on tv. It's an excellent comedy but what stuck in my head was the theme song.

The song opens the whole movie, with a scene of commuters going to work on boat. There's something in it that sucks me in and leads me, say, to Terminal C. The lyrics are no big deal, it's the theme that seems to grab me and drag to Platform Three, giving me a feeling of, say, embarking on Normandie in 1926 for a neat trip to New York.

Obviously, that doesn't work with the city transport. Social phobia, remember? For the complicated choreography of the icky crowds in the metro... Twyla Tharp, anyone? For metro et al., there's Where Do I Go from Hair. No decent video on YouTube that could be embedded. But, I'm a stupid blonde so maybe someone will figure it out for me, thanks in advance.

Sometimes the things get out of hand. I was leaving Italy, tired, stressed and generally pissed about all things academic. In the song La bomba in testa, which is about something totally different than working industriously to make the world better (1), there're several verses that end in 'adesso torno in lavoro', now I'll go back to work.

The lyrics are actually about freeing oneself from the boring life of a good citizen who goes to work regularly.... but whatever sort of citizen I may be, I longed for shuffling the papers and getting some routine. I dragged a heap of my crap from Platform 18 which was longer from the actual station building than I'd consider polite, cursed my heavy crap, heat, my failures and the world in general, not remembering the lyrics but for the adesso, torno al lavoro.

My travel themes wouldn't be complete without Till havs.

Mind that if something really gives me creeps, it's sea and everything related. It's big, full of weird things and fish pee in it.... Anyhow, I got some recordings of Anna Sophie von Otter and this one just caught me.

It has no logic. Just sayin'.

...e io contavo i denti ai francobolli
dicevo Grazie a Dio e Buon Natale
mi sentivo normale
eppure i miei trent'anni
erano pochi più dei loro
ma non importa adesso torno al lavoro.

Cantavano il disordine dei sogni
gli ingrati del benessere francese
e non davan l'idea
di denunciare uomini al balcone
di un solo maggio, di un unico paese.

E io ho la faccia usata dal buonsenso
ripeto Non vogliamoci del male
e non mi sento normale
e mi sorprendo ancora
a misurarmi su di loro
e adesso è tardi, adesso torno al lavoro.

Rischiavano la strada e per un uomo
ci vuole pure un senso a sopportare
di poter sanguinare
e il senso non dev'essere rischiare
ma forse non voler più sopportare.

Chissà cosa si trova a liberare
la fiducia nelle proprie tentazioni,
allontanare gli intrusi
dalle nostre emozioni,
allontanarli in tempo
e prima di trovarsi solo
con la paura di non tornare al lavoro.

Rischiare libertà strada per strada,
scordarsi le rotaie verso casa,
io ne valgo la pena,
per arrivare ad incontrar la gente
senza dovermi fingere innocente.

Mi sforzo di ripetermi con loro
e più l'idea va di là del vetro
più mi lasciano indietro,
per il coraggio insieme
non so le regole del gioco
senza la mia paura mi fido poco.

Ormai sono in ritardo per gli amici
per l'olio potrei farcela da solo
illuminando al tritolo
chi ha la faccia e mostra solo il viso
sempre gradevole, sempre più impreciso.

E l'esplosivo spacca, taglia, fruga
tra gli ospiti di un ballo mascherato,
io mi sono invitato
a rilevar l'impronta
dietro ogni maschera che salta
e a non aver pietà per la mia prima volta.

Monday, 2 November 2009


I happened to discuss the whole Les Exclusifs line with a few fellow Chanel freaks and it occured to me that while many people enthuse about larger part of the line, Gardénia seems to be the least popular. I asked and it seemed to me that good part of the people haven't even tried it because, well, there's so much of other stuff. I guess it's the name, it may evoke a plain boring soliflore. Or something. I have a bottle of Gardénia on the shelf and I wasn't able to remember the smell or any other impression so when I came back, this was one of the first tasks.

I know, I know, I promised a rant on Guerlinade but Guerlinade is still stuck somewhere in the P-space; I have something to pick up at the post office so I hope it'll be that one. Blame the mailmen, dear readers, and meantime you'll have to do with whatever comes (but I promise, I have quite interesting stuff up my sleeve).

Gardenia jasminoides is a plant (alright, I'm being Captain Obvious today), I happen to own one specimen which nowadays rests somewhere downstairs. I think it's related to camellias - definitely nothing to do with jasmine as one may judge from the name - and it has large white blossoms that smell sort of buttery sweet. A quick glance to the internetz corrected me, Rubiaceae family, into which gardenias belong, is also called coffee family. Now that's cool(3).

My gardenia happily blossomed all summer long but obviously, when I needed the flowers for photography, it didn't offer any. Still, the lush green foliage fits in, to me, Gardénia is a blend of crushed blossoms and leaves, there is something adstringent and green in the fragrance. And, to my surprise, a perceptible honey undertone. There should be some coconut and with a bit of trying, I do smell it, but it's rather the coconut juice than the greasy nutty bits; the coconut juice, if I remember well, has rather a sour fruity smell. One way or another, Gardénia does not smell of suntan lotion, the main product I associate with coconut smell (there's always Mahora but that's another matter that will be dealt with someday). Still, I find the drydown too sweet - the aldehydic and floral tones disappear and some rather sweet stuff emerges. I think I need to refresh often, then.

There was an earlier version that was made also in extrait version. I have it but at the time being, it's in the House of Eight Cats and it'll need a few weeks to get to me - I'll compare these two someday.

Gardénia is a part of the Les Exclusifs line and as such can be bought only in Chanel boutiques. It is made in a rather opulent size of 200 ml of eau de toilette and goes for 200 euros.

Top notes: aldehydes
Middle notes: red berries, gardenia, coconut
Base notes: vanilla

notes taken from Chanel's website here

(3) I'm a coffee addict.

Thursday, 29 October 2009


I managed to pack somehow

After the years of dragging the same suitcase across the world, I have rather a decent guess of its weight. Since the limit for luggage was 22 kilos and I guessed rather right that it would be 27-28ish, I was ready to cough up for the overweight; the luggage lady at the counter only attached a screaming orange tag that said Heavy, said That's it and wished me a pleasant journey.
I need to add that the remaining eight kilos of crap was in my messenger bag and in a plastic bag full of books.
On the other hand, when I was leaving Stockholm last time, apart from rather a heavy suitcase (them books), I had one piece of cabin luggage (full of books), one piece of ladies' purse (full of laptop and books) and a reasonable amount of reading matter for the time of flight (large canvas shopping bag full of books)... all in accordance with the airline regulations. The anti-terrorist measures require that I show my laptop and admittedly, the security folks were a little bit baffled when they saw that it was somewhere under a Finnish etymologic dictionary and Linné's collected writings. The look of sheer crazy was topped by my dad's wish to get a plush reindeer, which I bought on the airport.
So, nothing like that this time. I hung around the airport shops, sniffed a few fragrances, mostly said Oh, boring, then knitted for a while, attempted for some real airport blogging like Yarn Harlot, but the wireless LAN worked weird and when I managed to connect, it appeared that it was paid access... and nope, folks. My virtues are not many but supporting this capitalist blackmail is out of the question. Moreover, I had drained my weekly card limit long before.

Seen everything, been everywhere twice, has keys to all the doors

This is a way I and my friends use to describe the unpleasant sort of know-alls. It came to my mind after the security bullying check at the airport. The terminal was rebuilt, I thought to myself, and continued And there was that security thing two years ago, here, in place of the perfumery-cum-liquors duty free place, there was nothing... etc., when the abovementioned saying came to my mind. Indeed, I've been to real many places, to some many times, seen quite a few things...
Life however has its little ways how to deal with one's pride. In Vienna, they chased us out of the plane. I sat rather in the back, I like being behind the wind so that I can see something. I did notice a bunch of people even behind me but, well, no need to hurry, nor did I try to fight my way out of the plane, so I minded my own stuff. Then, the contents of the plane waited in the airport bus, nothing happening, when police got out of the plane with a handcuffed guy. I thought that such stuff happened only in the movies, that criminals were sent by mail.

Easy life of a spoiled capitalist brat
My father came to pick me. I was lazy to go by train and it's only two hours driving, eh. I only called him to pick me at the arrivals terminal when my ancient cellphone went dead so I was standing there, watching for a baby blue BMW. Good colour, easy to spot among those black and dark grey cars.
In the car, dad stuck a folder full of papers in my hands and said Read it. I browsed it, it seemed to be all written in legalese so I said Erm, legal papers, so what? and dad grinned and said I bought you a gym.
The background stories are two. First, dad had a 'readymade' Ltd. in the drawer, the company doing nothing, just being there for a case of urgent need when there would be no time to get all the paperwork for starting one done in time. Second, he rented some space to a gym owner, who, surprisingly enough, ran a gym, with all those machines and courses of various weirdo things like aerobics. The owner repeatedly failed to pay the bills so after a few friendly talks, the final unfriendly talk came and my dad just bought the whole gym, owner not included, since it would be illegal (but practical).
It is my father so I need to deal with this type of crazy pretty often.

How do I build a vault cheaply?
Another current problem that haunts my father. For some reasons I was asked the question. I know a few things about vaults, one being that 'vault' and 'cheap' are mutually exclusive terms. I won't go in the lengths and depths of the story, just mind that buying old and neglected buildings brings unexpected problems.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Upcoming things

Somehow, I happened to stumble upon rather interesting stuff lately.
Just to give you the idea, and excuse the lousy photoshop job, it's random pictures taken from elsewhere or by my dear friend who takes care for my mail.

From upper left:
(1) Vacarme by Rauch, I'm not sure.
(2) Via Lanvin in extrait
(3) mystery Weil
(4) Detchema by Revillon - I hear it's an aldehydic
(5) Fete by Molyneux - should be something green
(6) mystery something inscribed Champs Elysees - the eBay seller says it's some Guerlain thing but I discussed it with two other perfumistas and they are in disagreement. It was cheaper than a bathroom air freshener so bite it
(7) Samsara by Guerlain (the one with the red blob)
(8) Chanel trio of Bois des Iles, Gardenia and Cuir de Russie
(9) Le De by Givenchy - I have a sample somewhere and it rocks, it's a lovely honeyed scent
(10) No. 22 by Chanel - rather vintage, guessing from the bottle
(11) Miss De Rauch
(12) Numero Cinq by Molyneux - rarity of rarities
(13) Woodhue by Faberge
(14) Stolen Moments by Fragonard

You can expect a storm of reviews and hopefully interesting ranting in the upcoming weeks.

The Egg Dance

I don't think the metaphor 'dancing between the eggs' is used often. Neither I use it, one of the reason being its evocative power. Ever since, I imagined an Odette, tulle skirt and white pointe shoes (you have to pay extra $10 for white at Gaynor Minden, peach is the default colour), finding her difficult way between white eggs, and somehow managing not to break any.

The research grants have to be spent. Entirely, to the last cent and fragment of a drilled cowrie shell. I asked what would happen if some money was left and the reply was The research grant has to be spent in its entirety or else there would be troubles. What troubles, I insisted, and was explained that unimaginably difficult troubles and that the research grant has to be spent all, no exceptions.
If I weren't an arsehole, I'd ask several questions about the rules earlier and I'd find more expensive lodging because now, in order to avoid Apocalypse, I have to spend around 10 000 SEK (around a thousand euros) on things like photocopying and office supplies and travelling. I'm leaving on Friday.

I gave it a massive bit of thinking and, well, it cannot be helped. Massive amount of photocopying, everybody will get Swedish notebooks and pencils for Christmas and I might make a hasty trip to somewhere like Uppsala because being aware of the upcoming possibility of the world ending, I just have to work on it hard.

Nope, can't be books. That would make the things much easier but... nope.

Next time: Whines and/or late Comnenian frescoes at Gotland, depending on my mood.

Friday, 23 October 2009

My inner anarchist

A few days ago, when I was hanging around in the lobby reading the internets, a late arriving girl materialized herself, I showed her the envelope with her name the reception guy left at the reception desk, we chatted a while and, well, since having a bit of company is never a bad idea, we hung around the town next day.

I was in Stockholm two years ago and I happened to see the changing of the royal guards. One bunch of soldiers arrived, another arrived, the leading ones said a few words ("Everything okay?" "Everything okay!" and both bunches left, one off-duty, one to take their positions. Passing the flag occured and maybe there was some fanfare. Apparently, this spectacle became popular so they improved it, throwing in a marching band and some new, exciting choreography. I noticed the marching band going around the Royal Castle on Sunday when I was hanging around the centre but it was Sunday and my first, last and only thought was that maybe some local garrison is keeping the citizens in a friendly mood, thus providing a Sunday promenade concert.


So, I was wandering around with K. and we happened to the Royal Castle around midday so I thought it a good idea to go there and watch. The bunch of soldiers that was finishing their shift assembled and looked decorative. To my utmost surprise, some army guy stepped out with a paper, announcing into the loudspeakers: "Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm Captain Mikael Larsson (1) welcome to the changing of the Royal Guard, blah, blah, blah, and the Royal Castle is open to the public from twelve to three, as is the Royal Souvenir shop, where you can buy souvenirs from the Royal Castle." I started to laugh. I couldn't help recalling the Dontgonearthe Castle (2) where you could stay overnight, get a tasty meal and tasteful souvenirs, too.
The whole army messing around took an hour, including a few pieces played by the marching band for the pleasure of the tourists so it probably counts also as culture.

Lately, I've been thinking what it is like, to live in a monarchy. Surely, a monarch is trained from childhood to shake hands of fellow potentates in the most socially acceptable way, to get the right attire for the right occasions, to sit for being portrayed on postal stamps (if someone uses them) better than any elected official ever may be. After all, even the most degenerate nobleman manages a language or two and passable table manners with years of care and tutoring. Since in the modern democracies, the head of the state is important mainly for performing various ritual dances, good table manners and using the right fork for the right course are enough; maybe anything else even stands in the way (in places where the president, Commander-in-Chief or Supreme Priest need to sign government documents, it is obviously advisable to teach them how to write their own name). With elected officials, you never know. Maybe they can eat only sandwiches and the concept of silverware is beyond them, they are likely to have hidden agenda and they are rather hard to behead or dethrone otherwise when they are raving mad. Also, bare head looks much worse on stamps than a crowned one.

Of course that I have some vague idea about the functions of the state. After the last few years' political mess, when things worked best in those long months after the general election when there was no goverment, or in days of temporary officials in place of ministers after the government was deposed, it seems to me that the importance of state in general may be a bit overrated. And with the president close to raving mad... Ick.

I'd better go and read something funny.

Added on Saturday, whatsthedate.
I bought a horse-shaped cookie cutter, talked to K. about our glorious traditions of cookies and decorated gingerbread and since K. was to meet W. at the royal castle after that army thing, we went there. We were a bit early so we had a chance to watch the marching band of Royal Navy. The glorious traditions of decorated gingerbread include decorated gingerbread soldier. Nothing said.
I didn't check whether in the Royal Gift Shop, one could get cookie cutters shaped like Princess Victoria but I'll be around for a few more days.

(1) Name obviously invented and if I got it right, it's by mistake.
(2) Terry Pratchett reference again, what would you expect? Check Carpe jugulum for more.