bananas steeped in turpentine…

I’m not sure whether perfume reviewers are aware how fascinating their language is.

Maître Parfumeur et Gantier’s latest perfume, Ambre Doré, opens with the aromas of vibrant oud, saffron-scented leather and “green” (geranium?) styrax. Ambre Doré’s “character” is tougher than most amber perfumes, which is fine by me (I like my ambers rough and ‘scratchy’…if they’re too smooth and sleek I’m bored). As Ambre Doré’s opening burns off there’s a musky barnyard moment or two (we’re talking a dry-manure-in-the-distance aroma) followed by the scent of bananas steeped in turpentine. In Ambre Doré’s base, residual oud mixes with the more classic amber components: sandalwood, myrrh and vanillic elements (nothing too sweet); the oud dominates the amber, just, but oud and amber are in excellent imbalance, providing a welcome tweak that prevents an amber-as-usual fragrance.

More at Now Smell This.

zombie fragrances

Trying to imagine who would buy these.zombie

Zombie for Him ~ “Think forest floor. Zombie for Him is a combination of dried leaves, mushrooms, mildew, moss and earth.”

Zombie for Her ~ “A slightly lighter version of the Men’s fragrance with a touch of Dregs from the bottom of the wine barrel for that feminine touch.”

‘the odoriferous products of the garden and the forest’

Let me recommend The Art of Perfumery And Methods of Obtaining the Odors of Plants by George William Septimus Piesse (published 1857, free download at Project Gutenberg). Some delightful excerpts:

From the Preface: By universal consent, the physical faculties of man have been divided into five senses,—seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, and smelling. It is of matter pertaining to the faculty of Smelling that this book mainly treats. Of the five senses, that of smelling is the least valued, and, as a consequence, is the least tutored; but we must not conclude from this, our own act, that it is of insignificant importance to our welfare and happiness.

From the table of contents for Section I, Introduction & History: Perfumes in use from the Earliest Periods—Origin lost in the Depth of its Antiquity—Possibly derived from Religious Observances—Incense or Frankincense burned in Honor of the Divinities—Early Christians put to Death for refusing to offer Incense to Idols—Use of perfumes by the Greeks and Romans—Pliny and Seneca observe that some of the luxurious People scent themselves Three Times a Day—Use of Incense in the Romish Church—Scriptural Authority for the use of Perfume—Composition of the Holy Perfume—The Prophet’s Simile—St. Ephræm’s Will—Fragrant Tapers—Constantine provides fragrant Oil to burn at the Altars—Frangipanni—Trade in the East in Perfume Drugs—The Art of Perfumery of little Distinction in England—Solly’s admirable Remarks on Trade Secrets—British Horticulturists neglect to collect the Fragrance of the Flowers they cultivate—The South of France the principal Seat of the Art—England noted for Lavender—Some Plants yield more than one Perfume—Odor of Plants owing to a peculiar Principle known as Essential Oil or Otto.

Of ambergris: This substance is found in the sea, floating near the islands of Sumatra, Molucca, and Madagascar; also on the coasts of America, Brazil, China, Japan, and the Coromandel. The western coast of Ireland is often found to yield large pieces of this substance. The shores of the counties of Sligo, Mayo, Kerry, and the isles of Arran, are the principal places where it has been found.

Of civet: In its pure state, civet has, to nearly all persons, a most disgusting odor; but when diluted to an infinitesimal portion, its perfume is agreeable. It is difficult to ascertain the reason why the same substance, modified only by the quantity of matter presented to the nose, should produce an opposite effect on the olfactory nerve; but such is the case with nearly all odorous bodies, especially with ottos, which, if smelled at, are far from nice, and in some cases, positively nasty—such as otto of neroli, otto of thyme, otto of patchouly; but if diluted with a thousand times its volume of oil, spirit, &c., then their fragrance is delightful.

And so on..

aaaall riiiighty then

This cracked me up when Whale Child (who is eight and, what can I say, a devoted fan of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (whom his father and I loathe with the deadliest of loathings, much good that has done us)) brought it to our attention.

So now, whenever anything threatens to explode — within or without, on whatever plane — what else can we do but look at each other and do that circled-thumb-and-index-finger Zen thing and intone aall riighty then….?

feckless and froward

Two words that caught my fancy today. These are great words. Froward is a big favorite with the King James Version of the Bible, viz:

Proverbs 6:12 – A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a froward mouth.
Proverbs 16:30 – He shutteth his eyes to devise froward things: moving his lips he bringeth evil to pass.
Job 5:13 – He taketh the wise in their own craftiness: and the counsel of the froward is carried headlong.

Oddly enough, feckless doesn’t show up once in the KJV.

There must be some other relationship between them.

a moon of your own


The Moon is an accurate curved relief of the real thing, and is designed to be mounted on your bedroom wall. Using a mini remote control, you can control the phases of the moon or leave it on automatic and watch it phase through twelve stages, from Waning Crescent through Waxing Gibbous to New Moon.

You know you want one. From I Want One of Those.

Un jardin sur le Nil

By Hermès

The notes are
green mango, lotus flower,
aromatic rushes, incense,
sycamore wood.

It starts with a buzz
of citrus (grapefruit?
maybe some lime?)
and intense green notes;
the green mango
lends some fruitiness
but is thankfully
not overly sweet.

The citrus fades, leaving
a high-pitched green
over a woody base.
I cannot make out
the lotus flower at all.

Sheer but deep, a watery
aquatic feel, a woody base note
and a touch of spice -
this is a very dry fragrance,
with a slightly spicy-peppery

It smells very fresh.


A found poem from Now Smell This, a fascinating blog about perfume.

Some daring person (how does anyone dare to even begin to guess what scent someone else might like!?) recently gave me a bottle of Un Jardin Sur Le Nil and I have to say I am more and more taken by it. It’s an off-beat scent for an olfactory risk-avoider like me, who for years has rarely worn anything other than your basic Eau de Givenchy (whose notes are bergamot, spearmint, tagetes, greens, fruits, honeysuckle, jasmine, lily of the valley, tuberose, rose, cyclamen, orris, musk, cedarwood, sandalwood, and moss).

Hm. Has Staple Scent No. 2 now entered my life?