Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Halcyon hyacinths, and New Year musings on not being amusing

My cousin's husband (long dead now) used to be the cartoonist for a magazine beloved of the country set, 'Horse & Hound'. I remember how, just before a heart bypass operation, John worked overtime, stockpiling cartoons for when he came out of hospital. 'You see', he explained: 'even if everything goes okay, I don't suppose I shall be feeling madly funny for a while.' By inference, he didn't feel he could submit a cartoon to the magazine if it wasn't amusing, which got me thinking about my own 'house style' on Bonkers. And yes, it struck me that while you, as the reader, may visit the blog for all sorts of reasons, I mostly write with the aim at least of entertaining. And I have been slow getting round to this post, as I haven't felt 'madly funny' myself this week, far from it. But unlike my cousin, I have no posts put by for just such an occasion / frame of mind. T S Eliot famously described April as 'the cruellest month', but January 2015 hasn't been overly kind to put it mildly, and I have felt correspondingly downcast. There's something about living alone that makes bad things happening in the world impinge more, and (to stay with our cartoon theme) I found the Charlie Hebdo business last week very distressing, to the point where I barely slept for two nights in the immediate aftermath. The shock of the Paris attacks was compounded by the sad loss on Friday of one of our perfume community, Tama Blough. Although on the cards, her eventual passing came sooner than expected, just two months into her prognosis of six. One small piece of good news is that Buster, Tama's cat, has already found - and moved to - a new 'forever home' nearby. I was nearly considered as a potential owner myself, but only because one of Tama's friends mistakenly thought I was in Connecticut. ;)

I know my own problems - difficulties sleeping, an ongoing lack of work, an expensive repair on the car - pale into insignificance compared with recent events, but the combination of weariness, worry and gloomy news has made me greet the New Year with less of that 'shiny new diary' gung-ho spirit to which I am usually as prone as the next man. But I thought I would have a go at a bit of a 2014 review or New Year stock take, call it what you will. It may be odd, mind, and not especially perfume-forward, I warn you...;)

New launches and hiding under a rock

To jump start my look back at the past year in perfume terms - and spurred on by Undina's traditional analysis of how many scents she tested in 2014, by which brands, and how many of them were new releases etc - I fetched out my perfume diary and started flicking through. Here I had faithfully documented what I wore each day. It was clear that I was sometimes testing several things, or partly wearing familiar scents and partly testing new ones. I soon got bogged down, however, on realising that I didn't know if I was in fact testing or wearing a given scent, ie I simply couldn't remember what I already knew. Nor could I distinguish the perfumes released last year from ones from previous years, though all that could have been ascertained with a bit of digging around, had I really cared.

Evidently also a drinking diary

As I continued to flick through, it was clear that not many of the perfumes tested had made much of an impression on me, which is consistent with Undina's own low success rate in such sessions. And significantly, most of any testing I have done was invariably prompted by samples sent to me spontaneously by companies or received as extras in swaps, rather than burning lemmings I have tracked down, though there were a few of those too. The thing is - and I am a little ashamed to say it - nowadays I can quite happily go to an event at Les Senteurs or wherever and hardly sniff anything. I will also walk right through Duty Frees at airports, barely taking in what is new, despite prominent displays specifically designed to intercept the captive traveller with time on their hands. These days I am so lazy and 'not bovvered' in fact, that I can't even manage to put the proper accents in some of the perfumes listed below.

Scented discoveries (from 2014 or otherwise)

One key exception to this tuning out to new - or newish - launches is Tauer's PHI Une Rose de Kandahar from 2013, of which Val of APJ gave me a precious vial in February, and which turned out to be a lemming of the highest order. If I had to pick my top perfume discovery of last year, that would be it, albeit I tried so little in the grand scheme of things that it is not as great an accolade as it might be coming from bloggers who have explored many more new offerings on the market. Penhaligon's Tralala would be the worthy runner up.

My one *new* bottle purchase of the year (Lidl excepted)

In terms of other new perfume loves that are not necessarily year-specific, Estee Lauder's Bronze Goddess and Hermes Eau des Merveilles are two key ones to cite, along with Guerlain Attrape-Coeur and Shalimar Extrait, Ann Gerard Perle de Mousse, Vero Profumo Mito Voile d'Extrait and Extrait, Farmacia SS Annunziata Vaniglia del Madagascar, Chanel Coromandel, Annick Goutal Songes and Black Flower Mexican Vanilla from the Dame Perfumery in Scottsdale. (Thanks to Undina, Lila das Gupta, Tara of OT, Liz Moores of Papillon Perfumery and Blacknall Allen of aperfumeblog for the above!). I also had an unexpected rapprochement with Chanel No 5, on discovering that Lidl's latest dupe of a mainstream scent had fallen far of the mark. And there are doubtless a few others that will occur to me presently.

It's more about the people than ever before 

Yup, 2014 has resoundingly shown me that I am more interested than ever in talking to people at fragrance events and meet ups, rather than taking this unparalleled opportunity to test the many perfumes all around us. For I have formed deep and rewarding friendships with a number of perfumistas, some of which have escalated to the next level: visiting them in their homes, and even staying the night in a couple of instances - hospitality I would be glad to reciprocate. ;)

Russian doll-reflected perfumistas

I am belatedly bonkers about skincare

Readers may well have noticed a number of 'beauty posts' creeping into the blog lately, and though I feel my recent waves of frenetic research have run their course for now - not least because I can't afford to buy anything else! - I think that to be purely practical about it, good skincare products are more necessary for me at this time of my life than the next lovely perfume. After all, I already have umpty dozen scents to choose from, and something that smells good is an embellishment at the end of the day - albeit a mood-enhancing and transformative one. Skincare, meanwhile, can address actual physical problems like my pesky chronic acne and the damage from decades of kamikaze sunbathing, as well as setting you on course to arrest or at least slightly mitigate the ageing process. I'm 55 after all - it's not too late exactly to take corrective action, but oh, how I wish I had started a sensible regime thirty years ago...

My redeployed cutlery drainer

Slowing down and easing up

I have talked about the principle of 'slow blogging' in previous 'stock taking' posts, and am still convinced of its merits. Additionally, a change I would like to make this year is to slow down in terms of my electronic life generally: 'engaging' with fewer blogs perhaps, and focusing on the ones with whom I have a personal connection, checking emails less frequently throughout the day and taking longer to reply to them, to avoid what I shall elaborately - and possibly impenetrably - call 'Groundhog Day ping pong syndrome'. Then I hope to spend less time on Facebook, where I am mercilessly teased for one thing, and which is the most terrible vortex at the best of times, even though I do like interacting with people that way. But it's a time-sucking curate's egg all right, not to mince metaphors about it. I am also trying to wind down before bedtime, which means resisting the urge to go online in the last hour or so of the evening, as the blue light emitted by electronic devices, coupled with the general mental stimulation entailed, is almost certainly a key factor in my inability to get to - and stay - asleep. That and my middle-aged bladder, of course.

Look, no phone!

To this end I am also trying mindfulness, or rather a somewhat simplifed version known as 'McMindfulness'. When practised last thing at night, it morphs into the equally snappily named 'beditation'. Interestingly, a psychologist writing for The Guardian urges people to have ONLY these three New Year's resolutions and to ditch the rest:

1) Take up meditation
2) Stop doing something (ie the opposite of the usual injunction to take up a new sport, hobby etc, but rather to find something in your life - whether a person or activity or goal or state of mind which is unhelpful / too hard / consuming of time and emotional energy etc - and drop it.
3) Go easy on yourself in reference to 1) and 2), or more widely!

Therapeutic Tara

'Consider the hyacinths...'

Right, so that is not exactly how the Biblical quotation goes, but I am sure the sentiment transfers across species. For I must say that in all my low level agitation so far this month, I have found a lot of solace and a calming quality in a potted hyacinth a friend gave me for Christmas. It is going over now, with brown bits starting to colonise its white tendrils, but every time I walk into the kitchen I sniff it, and the flower's sweet narcotic scent seems so restful and somehow so sufficient unto itself, just like the non-spinning lilies of the New Testament. Which is not to say that I am poised to abandon manmade perfumes any time soon - not at all - but it was a nice object lesson in the simple pleasures of life, including scented ones. Which, if the work situation doesn't improve, may take on a greater importance by and by.

Anyway, as warned, that was an odd 'round up' post, but I hope to be back next time with something a touch more lighthearted - and squarely perfume-related. Oh okay, that might be pushing it...;)

Has your New Year got off to a more upbeat start, or have you felt a bit weighed down with the cares of the world, or your own?

Liz Moores - a pint-sized tonic who punches above her height!


The Scented Hound said...

Vanessa - sorry that you're new year is starting a bit off kilter. There seems to be a general malaise that is going around that is funking up the atmosphere. I can only hope this means it's going to get better as the year goes on. Me, I am continually cold and fret that I am turning into my grandmother and will be wearing a fur coat in the middle of this coming summer to stay warm. Keep your chin up and go spritz on some Kandahar...that will make you feel much better! xoxoxoxo

The Scented Hound said...

I just read what I posted. What does me being cold have to do with anything??!!! I'm starting the year off crazy as well as cold.

Sun Fontaine said...

I hope that the rest of the year just gets better and better for you. My new year hasn't been bad by any stretch, but I'm starting to hit that phase where being a stay at home mom gets lonely. I've never been an extremely social person, choosing a small set of close friends over large groups of acquaintances, but many of my best friends are now across the country or even across the sea, so I do find myself feeling a bit alone. I've been really enjoying reading perfume blogs and getting a glimpse into the lives of other perfumistas (and I don't mean that in a stalkerish way, though I realize it may sound that way, or at least a bit pathetic, ha). Nonetheless, I hope that one day I can say the same as you - that the perfume world (virtual or IRL) has helped me forge some friendships and good memories. I'm glad you plan to make and take some time to dedicate to those things that are most important to you. :) Cheers, Vanessa!

Sun Fontaine said...

Personally, I'd rather be crazy than cold. :)

Tatiana said...

Sorry your new year is starting off in a bit of a funk. It sounds as though you have good friends and I find that my friends help me through a lot of funks.
I too find that I've been going to perfume meet-ups not so much to sniff but to enjoy the company of other like minded folks and to try and forge deeper friendships. I am also sad about Tama's passing, especially since I have met a lovely group of fellow sniffers out here in California because of her.

I think those three resolutions from The Guardian are brilliant. The only one I would add to that list for myself is to downsize. At 55 I find myself with too much stuff. Too much perfume. Too many clothes. Too many books. (Eek, did I really say that?) Too much make up and skincare. (Probably because I keep looking for that holy grail product that will make my skin near perfect). So I'm tossing, donating and selling stuff this year.

I hope things turn around for you and your year gets better. If you ever need an ear, I'm willing to listen.

Ruth G said...

Sorry to hear you haven't had the best start to 2015! There's such a pressure on social media to present a "perfect" life to the world, so it's refreshing to hear someone being as honest as you've been. Hope 2015 gets better for you! And I LOVE those new years resolutions from the Guardian!

Poodle said...

I think you were connecting your general malaise feeling with the cold gray days of winter and that they are affecting you more than usual. All that is highlighted by every child's fear, that of growing up to become one of their parents but in this case your fearing that you are becoming your grandmother.

Poodle said...

Your 2015 blues are understandable. Not much good news to be had lately. I'm finding myself having a tough time keeping any sort of positive attitude. Of course I'm not known for being all that positive as it is. Like you, I've decided to step away from the gadgets a bit. The constant delivery of bad news on the Internet does nothing to help anyone's outlook. Hopefully this too shall pass. I'm trying to meditate as well. It's harder than I thought to shut the mind off. Keep meditating, make yourself a cup of tea, spritz yourself with something pretty, and curl up with a good book to distract yourself for a few hours. Make time for you.

Tara said...

Like others, I'm really sorry it's been a tough start to the year for you, V. Please make use of Therapeutic Tara more often and drop me a line!

I agree about people over perfume. Meeting and developing friendships with Val and Liz was a million times better than any new fragrance discovery.

Those 3 resolutions are flipping genius. Thanks for sharing. I shall attempt them but may only succeed at No.3 :)

Love your re-purposed cultery holder!

Vanessa said...

Hi Steve,

Nice to hear from you and thanks for the good wishes. There does seem to be a bad vibe in the world generally at the moment. I am wearing some Tralala today actually - which has the important distinction of being released in 2014, whereas I just twigged that my 'top sniff' of last year was actually from 2013, and had to tweak the post accordingly. Shows how vague and out of touch I have become.;) xx

Vanessa said...

Oh, and I do agree that it is cold. But you Americans do proper cold. We merely play at lower temperatures most of the time. Less than 10C has us all clucking! And you're not crazy - being cold could give a person the January blues all right. ;)

Vanessa said...

Hi Poodle,

That is an insightful comment about the reasons for Steve's current downer. Me, I can barely remember my grandmother, and would be glad to turn into my mother, who was lovely, but I do feel exposed now my folks are long dead, and I have no other half to act as a financial safety net. I think the anti-climax of January following the social whirl of Christmas - when the friends go back to their normal lives - rather highlights one's single - and in my case, unemployed - status.

Vanessa said...

Hi Sun,

Although I don't have children, I can imagine the isolation you may feel, certainly until such time as your offspring get big enough to really interact and talk back to you, but I guess one could feel the lack of adult companionship whatever age kids are.

Even though many of your key friends are far away, have you by any chance established whether there might be a real life perfume community a bit nearer to hand? We need a detailed 'fumehead mapping service'. Where's Undina? ;)

Vanessa said...

Hi Ruth,

Thanks for stopping by. You are spot on with that observation about the drive to present a 'perfect' life on Facebook etc, which can sap your confidence over time. And aren't those Guardian resolutions brilliant? I really think I can make a fist of them, whereas before I had a massive long list with everything you could imagine on it like 'eat more fish', 'exercise more', 'drink more water', 'drink less alcohol', 'exfoliate' - oh, it went on and on and was usually far too long to be remotely realistic!

Vanessa said...

Hi again Poodle,

Sorry you have also been feeling a bit downbeat lately - maybe we are quite similar in fact, as I wouldn't call myself a natural optimist, hehe. Seems like we are also embarked on a similar therapeutic path with the gadget control and meditating. It is pretty hard as you say! I did well the first two nights, but have lost the knack the last three. I probably should go to bed earlier, and on reflection Breaking Bad in the run up to bedtime may not count as 'winding down'...;)

I plan to carry on knitting a coat for a greyhound today - I have almost finished the back section already, and the dog in question is waiting eagerly for the completed garment!

Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

You have already been super therapeutic these past years, and I don't want to max you out, hehe. We see eye to eye it seems, in terms of friends taking precedence over perfume at this stage in our hobby. Val and Liz are both a hoot and a tonic, and considering she is a perfumer rather than a 'civilian fumehead', Liz makes herself so accessible to people. ;)

Anonymous said...

Comments. In no particular order.

Your problems do not pale into insignificance. None of our problems do. They are our own problems and shouldn´t be compared to tragic, manic world events. We are 55 now and do not have to be gung-ho about anything if we don´t want to be. Much too strenuous.

The Charlie Hebdo Incident was terrible. I don´t know when I was last so angry. I know that there are awful things going on everywhere, we are reminded of the at every moment, but this seemed to hit home. I have a friend of some 15 years, who is going in the "radicalized" direction. She was widowed young and left with two children. Her kids have been part of our family for the last 11 years. Recently she has decided, somewhat abruptly, that my children, and indeed my family are far to "western" and has cut all contact. Scary sh*t. We have to see her kids (one of of whom is 19) secretly. What with this, and the marches in Germany one is a little on one's guard.

I don´t test too many perfumes any more. Haha! Whatever that means. The running around with the nose glued to the arm scenario, being in expert mode? Fun but hilarious! On saying that I do have some Bug Juice coming up for testing, that is exciting for me.

You and Tara were the highlights of 2014 and future trips home will be planned around being able to see you both. Plus we have a gig to attend together in Germany iIhope?

Vanessa my dear, Breaking Bad is not pre-sleep relaxation, not by any stretch of the imagination.

I am off to yoga tonight. It looks like I am meditating whilst there, but my brain is going hammer and tongs. I am so grateful no one can see inside of it. I keep trying though. Better call Saul.

Off to buy a hyacinth, wearing Tralala,

Ich hab dich lieb.

Unknown said...

I am sorry to hear that the January has been bluesy. It's never a great time of the year, I find, and if it weren't for the holiday coming up I'd be right with you on the blues front. CH has hit home here very strongly as well, Mael'
s Dad lives just around the corner and the cartoons are part of his childhood and adolesence. It also made me realise how very different the issue was perceived by some of my friends and Facebook contacts and it wasn't always easy to keep calm about some rather strange attitudes and opinions. I hope you will find peace and strength in the coming weeks. If not, please do make use of my friendship. Take care my sweet.

Vanessa said...

Hi Val,

Oh boy, I am touched by your lovely supportive comment. I was saddened though to learn about your friend becoming more radical and I hope that you manage to maintain contact with her children at least, though it must be tricky.

We are in a similar place as far as our relationship to perfume is concerned - your collection is smaller and more edited than mine though, which I admire.

Then I hope very much to catch you on a trip home or in Germany - Augsburg is looking like the best bet for you on the upcoming tour.

And yes, you are right that Breaking Bad is not exactly whale music, I do see that now. I thought I had the whirriest brain in the world, but I sense yours might give me a run for its money. ;)

Hmm, I think I need a replacement hyacinth as this one is distinctly brown-tinged now. It has served me well over Christmas though. xx

Vanessa said...

Hi Sabine,

I am so happy for you going away to Thailand - it will be lovely to escape this cold weather apart from the beautiful beaches and scenery that await. Not to mention the food!

Of all the people I know, I am not surprised CH has affected you like this, what with having a French husband. And close connections also to the area through Mael's dad. I have also noted a wide range of opinions appearing on Facebook - there are indeed many ways of interpreting this awful event. There was a good piece in The Guardian today presenting the feminist perspective on it all.

All the best to Mael and have a great holiday when it comes. My sometime cat boarder is arriving tomorrow, which will be nice!

Asali said...

Cheers to people over perfume :-) And I agree that January is just never easy. I think a mistake was made when it was decided to actually start a new year in January. Ok, so I know other continents have different seasons, but still (and since it isn't going to change anyway ;-)) the dead of winter as opposed to April, say?

SallyM said...

Hi V,
I too applaud the Guardian’s resolution stance as it echoes what I decided to do in 2015. My friends looked at me askance when I told them I wasn’t making any resolutions that involved specific goals of taking up something new, but would be concentrating on downsizing in ALL areas of my life. The more mature I get (sounds better than saying “older”) the more important it is to de-clutter and I can definitely see the connection between depression and the buildup of unnecessary stuff. Somewhat ruthlessly maybe, that includes people – I want to spend the time I have with like-minded and positive people and so my circle of friends has become smaller over the last decade, although I’m always open to meeting new.

I’m in complete agreement with Val about your problems being yours and which shouldn’t be compared to others elsewhere. This is what is happening to *you* and while my intellectual head in similar situations nag at me that all things are relative, the head that’s going through the situation says “heck with that, this is happening to ME and it sucks mops!” I feel for you that your new year is sucky moppy and am glad that you shared it here. I’m sending you a virtual cuppa and a piece of Victoria Sponge I made yesterday, which you can enjoy while knitting. I’m always affected by the new year doldrums, especially here in Oregon where it is notoriously grey and rainy for at least the next 4 months. This past year however, after turning 58, I decided that I was going to “embrace the grey!” with the hope that I would have better luck getting through this time of ennui. My strategy has involved literally wrapping myself in grey by wearing something especially cozy in that oft considered depressing hue, on a daily basis. To that end, I went on a hunt for all things cashmere and “ethically procured” angora – although I had to do some wily shopping to keep the $$$ at a reasonable level. It was quite an eye opening experience – 50 Shades of Grey indeed!

I can relate to the insomnia and have also been trying yoga and meditation before bed instead of bingeing on Dexter, Luther, Boardwalk Empire and the like – while they’re all great shows, they’re not exactly restful sleep material! I’m a sorry excuse for a meditator though as my mind goes off in all directions. I even bought a couple of Shamanic Journey tapes which were very entertaining but at which I proved equally useless. At one point on the journey, after walking along a woodland, I was directed to enter into an opening in a tree trunk and make my way down inside the earth where the main part of the meditation would take place. After a long decision making process of which tree I would enter, I then spent an inordinate amount of time figuring out the logistics of actually entering a tree trunk and going inside the earth. Needless to say, by the time I reconciled the information with my overworked brain, I had missed half of the meditation…

Poodle said...

I used to have two greyhounds. Now we have a poodle and a whippet. Hubby volunteers at the greyhound rescue kennel every weekend. Hounds love to be warm and comfortable so I'm sure you will have a very appreciative pup when that coat is done. I am a slow knitter. I'm much better at crochet.

Sun Fontaine said...

I really should look around. I know (based on NST) that there are others around, but I haven't made a great effort to meet anyone. A detailed mapping service would be helpful though :)

Vanessa said...

Hi Asali,

Why, you are dead right there - it's a very poor choice of month to start the year on. Who can be blame? Pope Gregory? ;)

Vanessa said...

Hi SallyM,

Thanks for your splendidly comprehensive comment, which was both heartwarming and amusing in equal measure, especially your tale of the meditation that went awry. When I dabbled in reflexology a long time ago, the therapist used to ask me to do these visualisations which sound a bit similar - a walk on a tropical beach, or lounging in a swan boat on a lake, an Alpine meadow stroll etc etc. I never could get into the zone, so I do sympathise. Good to meet another person with sleeping problems - it's been a constant battle since I turned 50.

And you have all inspired me to crack on with my decluttering and downsizing programme, following a blitz on the CD collection earlier in the month. Last night it was the turn of my make up - ha! Are we friends on Facebook, btw? I have posted a picture of five upended make up bags drying after a good wash. Not that they were full to start with, I hasten to add. I was constantly amazed at the inappropriate things I was hanging onto, for no good reason that I could determine.

Oh, and I loved how you are embracing your grey hair, and I am sure you look most elegant in muted ensembles made from the finest fabrics. I know what you mean about ethically sourced angora, having sought some out to make a bolero for a party dress.

And cheers for the cuppa and Victoria sponge - you know what I'd consider the perfect pick me up!

Ines said...

I hope your year takes on a positive note from now on.
I have a positive feeling about the year (no resolutions of any kind) but unfortunately, health-wise this has so far been the most awful year in recent history (and it's only January 16!). I'm hoping that I got it all out of the way and can proceed on without worries in that regard.

Vanessa said...

Yes, you might find that your inquiries pay dividends. I reckon there are fumeheads under every rock, if you look!

Vanessa said...

Of course you have a poodle! ;) Also a whippet, eh? I treated myself to a whippet jumper knitting kit for Christmas, and that is my next project. I mean, I did knit a jumper (sweater) for a whippet a couple of years back, but figured the pattern out on the fly with the help of a dog owner in Boston, whereas this purports to be a tried and tested design to fit most whippets and even a small lurcher. I'll let you know how that goes when I get to it! Oh, I used to crochet, but have forgotten how. I recall it being quick though.

Vanessa said...

Hi Ines,

I am so sorry you have had a rough start to the year healthwise, and am rooting for it turning out better as time goes on. It's great that you are still managing to stay so positive. All fingers crossed for you.

Carol said...

My dear dear darling Bonks: Of course I don't mind you stating my age!

My depression was absolutely awful the last two months of 2014. I could barely move. Current world events started me back down, but I deleted all my news pages from FB and hid everyone who posts politically there, too. I just want to see happy stuff. It's about self-preservation.

As you know, we too have been/are in a bad financial situation for years, ever since my unemployment ended a few years ago. But I am fortunate that R/The Moth has a permanent part-time job (no opportunities for full-time work there unfortunately - many places here in the US won't hire people full time because of the health care mandate) - so we squeak by and go to the food pantry.

But after a full year of working/volunteering (basically doing more work than I am getting paid for ), things are finally looking up - grant funding may be finally coming in. And I cannot forget the pottery teaching opportunities. We may be able to pay our property tax due LAST year soon. We don't want to lose the house as we love it so.

I wish I could magically transport myself and my bike to you so we can ride together, and then sit and knit and nosh and talk. Love you muchly!

Vanessa said...

Thanks for your support - good to meet another 55-er. Patty White is also 55, I recently clocked on Facebook, and Cookie Queen Val and Carol (Bloody Frida) if they don't mind my saying so. That's five of us already!

And I do indeed have some brilliant friends - I don't know where I would have been in recent years without them, to be honest. Many people of my age have kids and parents or both, but friends are my main support network.

Was interested to learn that you are in California and part of Tama's sniffing circle. The loss must have hit you all the more keenly.

Downsizing...oh boy, you are psychic! For I read another newspaper article lately - or it might have been one of the more useful posts on FB - talking about the clear link between depression in women and clutter. Men are apparently able to cope with a much higher level of mess, and my hoarding father was certainly that soldier, hehe. So I have vowed to throw out some of my clothes - or give them away, rather - I already did the book downsizing when I moved here (by more than half). Yup, I still have too much *old* makeup - Katie Puckrik would have a fit! - and too much unsuitable skincare from before I did my proper research. But the first step it is to tidy all the drawers in every room, which are rammed with stuff. Oh, and maybe the hall cupboard, which is a right old glory hole. And then the garage. Eek! Remember resolution #3!

Suzanne said...

Hi Vanessa. I'm sorry to hear that 2015's start has been less than stellar for you, but I hope, and I'd be willing to wager, that your year will pick up and improve, for nothing ever stays the same: the good times pass quickly, but the bad times usually pass too. And I second everything that Asali said: who's idea was it to pick January as the start of the New Year? It's one of the worst transitional months of the year. All one feels like doing is curling up with extra blankets and a hot water bottle.

So, please don't be hard on yourself. And remember that you are much loved in Perfume Land.

nbh said...

You need a kitten. Now.

Vanessa said...

Hey there, dear Carol,

I so sorry to hear you were on a downer in the run up to Christmas. From your blog posts I had no idea, so - along with your wonderful gherkins and whatnot - you must have 'bottled' it well. ;( Good call to limit your news intake and turn off the political posters - I have a number of friends who do something similar.

Ref the financial situation, I do understand what it is like to be on a modest income. I shan't pay any tax two out of the last three years, for example. That is good news about The Moth landing a permanent job, even on a part time basis, and it seems things are looking up with the prospect of grant funding for your work. All the best developing the pottery teaching too, which I know is imminent.

It surely would be great if we lived closer - it is nearly four years since my visit, though it is still very vivid in my mind. How could it not be, considering what we got up to?! ;)

Vanessa said...

Hi Suzanne,

I was very touched by your comment which bucked me up no end. You are right that holding onto the thought that the bad times will pass is the best approach - my mother used to say the same. And I couldn't agree more that January sucks as a month to kick off the New Year with. Just heard that my old neighbour has died of a lung condition - he was only 60+ but worked with aircraft fuel all his life and I can't help wondering if the two are related.

Oh, I have perked up this afternoon as my cat boarder has arrived for ten days. His owner forgot his scratching post though, so we could be in for some fun!

Vanessa said...

nbh, you are a star! I have a cat boarder at the moment for ten days as I mention above, but beyond that we will see. Speights will scratch the itch for now - and hopefully not the furniture. ;)

Lavanya said...

There is so much I want to say in response to your post and usually when that is the case i usually end up saying nothing and i didnt want to do that this time. So let me atleast start by giving you a gigantic gargantuan monstrous hug ( unfortunately virtual but i'd probably be too shy to do it in person anyway). 

I haven't been feeling great this New year either so I hear you!
I hope you feel better soon and know that you can always drop a line when the doldrums hit..(I have no idea why I used that word- I haven't heard or used that word in years).

Will try and comment on the other parts of the post soon!

P.S Therapeutic Tara looks adorable in that picture..:)
P.P.S Coromandel is a recent love for me too (London Airport)
P.P.P.S *panic* I think my vintage thrift store in a broken bottle Shalimar extrait might be going off..It smelled different this time.

Vanessa said...

Hi Lavanya,

Thanks so much for pressing ahead and posting your comment - I am glad you did! Hug gratefully received - did I detect a whiff of Tolu with that? ;)

I was sorry to learn you have not been feeling brilliant so far this year - you do have a lot on your plate of course with a baby and a toddler to look after. I hope things look up for you soon.

Commiserations on your suspect Shalimar. That is so annoying when it is a perfume you love and were doubtless dead pleased to have found for a bargain. ;(

Tara does indeed look adorable. I don't think I have ever seen a bad picture of her, in fact.

Lavanya said...

Actually- that would have been a whiff of cormandel that I managed to snag at the local chanel boutique..;-)
The Shalimar ended up being reasonably priced only because the fluted opening was broken (my mom who is visiting could not believe I bought a broken bottle. 'But it is vintage Shalimar, ma!!')..:D

I also wanted to add : Tama's passing was so sad…:( I didn't know her personally and even though I wasn't a regular reader I 'clocked' Tama's posts because her tone was always very sweet - like 'Tara' sweet.
A slightly strange thing happened.As you know I had just (re) joined Facebook. And I got one of those 'You might know' pop ups and Tama's name was there. I clicked on it- intending to add her but realized she had passed that very day (ok- not so strange but a sad coincidence). Anyway, I wanted to speak of her somewhere and thought I'd choose 'your spot'.
As you say- I am incredibly grateful to be part of this wonderful perfume community.

Undina said...

Look at the date of your post, now look at the date of my comment: this is how 2015 is treating me (insert an angry smiley here). To tell you the truth, the only reason I published my most recent post not waiting for a chance to make a picture of Rusty to go with it was because I thought I needed at least one more post before the upcoming anniversary one and I absolutely had no time to think of anything else so I used the one that was almost ready. And for many reasons it won't get easier in the next month or two at least.

I'm really sorry that your start of the year feels the way it does but you look good (at least on pictures), you have some very nice friends and you're taking the right steps (FB is evil!!! Skincare is your friend! :) ) and helping us to do that as well (I love your idea of using a cutlery drainer!)

As to the perfume diary, adding, let's say, a letter W (wore) or T (tested) or using two different color pen would not only simplify the review at a later time but would also make your diary much more festive - if you go with the pen idea ;-)

(and only now I'll go and read other comments)

Vanessa said...

Once again, I am so sorry your Shalimar punt backfired. You win some, you lose some. ;(

That's a lovely tribute to Tama as well, and what a Twilight Zone-y thing to have got a Facebook suggestion about her on the day she passed away. I am sure she will stay alive in people's memories, especially the NorCal fumie community who knew her particularly well.

Vanessa said...

Hi Undina,

Your comments are always welcome, whenever they come in, and I know you have been in a madly busy phase for some time. Thanks for your sensible advice about the benefits of skincare and the evils of FB. I hear you! ;) I have felt better as a result of getting things off my chest and having such supportive comments in return. The arrival of my furry house guest has further helped lift my spirits.

That is a good tip about keeping a perfume diary, but I decided not to do one this year. Partly following resolution #2 above and partly because, short of setting up some kind of Excel programme instead of scribbling things in a mini-Filofax, the analysis - even on a topline basis - would be quite hard work once the year is over..

Anonymous said...

These days I see how the year has gone and then retroactively say what my resolution was. In that case 2014 was a de-cluttering year. It wasn't a huge amount of stuff, but it did seem to be things making me unhappy, usually wrong-but-expensive purchases. Good-bye, Spoonk! I never liked you, you prickly thing. The heart-rate monitor reproaching me on a bookshelf has now left my life, and so forth.

I also divested myself of a couple of friends, one who was denigrating and one who was very negative in general. I felt sad at the time, but now I feel better. It helps that I found a new friend who like perfume too and is in the neighbourhood.

Someone above in the comments thought they were not meditating well because their mind kept wandering. Meditating is not so much having no thoughts, but simply acknowledging the thoughts that are there, and returning to the breath, as often as needed. Since I didn't take to the phrase "monkey mind" I instead use "golden lab puppy mind"; I give it a pat on the tum and then go back to breathing.

Wishing us all a lovely 2015,


Lavanya said...

V- I just realized-I think the Shalimar thing might be entirely my fault. We moved from SD recently and I had carried 'my precious' by hand. I kept it (covered) on the ledge of my closet. Yesterday I had to do some climbing to get some sheets and discovered that the wall next to where I had kept the perfume (and my perfume drawers) was sooo warm because the washer and dryer were on the other side. I had no idea!!! Ofcourse I switched my drawers to the other side of the closet and crossed my fingers. Phew - sorry for the long explanation..:)

I wish I had brought you a teensy bit to sniff- the dry down used to be glorious and the vintage perfume seemed gentler and less funky than the current formulation of the extrait- more rounded. Now it smells funkier, resiny almost as if my skin chemistry has changed.

Blacknall Allen said...

Oh how January makes everyone feel annoyed or down, it is a weighted backpack of a month, the weight generally feeling like rocks in said back pack.
Goodness, a lot of us are 55, so am I, and salute you for your interest in skin care. Myself I do a variation on the Simon France method that I worked out, and that plus a cream from the dermatologist works for me!

I wish you the very very best and I think things will improve for you personally this year, although the times in general may not be so good. That's how it goes sometimes though. Oh and I know what you mean about perfume, but the best still makes me happy, as do flowers and chats and cats and my goodness I sound like Forthington-Thomas from Down with Skool. I gotta quit while I'm ahead...

Vanessa said...

Oh dear, Lavanya, do you think so? Would it go off in such a short time, exposed to extreme heat? I am no chemist so I have no idea, but that is a shame if so, and a warning to us all. What awfully bad luck. The Shalimar extrait I have is from the mid-90s apparently, so that is somewhat vintage, certainly. Very easy to wear and well blended - I must say I was nervous of the civet, but it is fine. What age was your bottle, do you know?

Vanessa said...

Hi AnnieA,

Retrospective resolutions - am all for it! I see that Spoonk is a sleep aid - not a very effective one, I infer. There do seem to be a lot more lifestyle gadgets about these days - Jawbone Up and Fitbits and I don't know what.

Losing friends that suck your energy was a good move. I like your pragmatic approach to meditation - you have to work with the puppy mind you have, I guess, and as you say, concentrate on the breathing. Am currently experimenting with the 1-2-4 breathing technique - or is it 4-7-8?

Vanessa said...

Hi Blacknall,

Love your image of a 'weighted backpack' to describe January - very apt! Another 55-er, hello! I hadn't heard of Simone France but that looks like a great range. One difference between us is that you Americans tend to have dermatologists whereas over here we are all 'armchair dermatologists' because the NHS only grants access to skin specialists for medical conditions. If money were no object, I would be curious to know what a dermatologist would make of my skin and my attempts to correct its different zonal issues! ;)

Thanks for the good wishes - I don't feel too despondent even though it is by no means clear where the next piece of work will come from. I must say you still seem very interested in perfume and in writing about it - indeed you are one of the most prolific solo bloggers writing at the moment, I would say. Long may you continue in that mood!