Thursday, January 29, 2009

A teaser and a recommendation

I was scheduled to do an interview with Temple Grandin about her excellent new book, Animals Make Us Human, before the Scene axed its book coverage. Since the piece for publication was scuttled, she kindly agreed to answer a few questions for BitterGrace Notes. I just talked to her this afternoon, and she was as fascinating as I expected her to be. Check back for a post next week with a review of the book and choice quotes from Grandin.


The civil rights era has taken on a hazy, mythic quality in the minds of most Americans, especially those under forty. It only moved further into the realm of legend with the constant invoking of Martin Luther King Jr.'s ghost during the Obama inauguration. Clay Risen's new book, A Nation on Fire: America in the Wake of the King Assassination is an antidote to that collective memory fade, taking us back to April 1968 with a detailed dissection of the violence that ravaged U.S. cities after King's murder. The book also offers a fascinating look inside the Johnson White House, where alarm about the civil unrest was accompanied by bitterness over the apparent failure of liberal policies.

Risen is the managing editor of Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, and was formerly an editor at The New Republic. A Nation on Fire is the sort of popular history journalists tend to write--exhaustively researched, carefully sourced, but still written to engage the general reader. It includes a wealth of anecdotes, the prose is lively, and Risen keeps the action moving by shifting from city to city, and from the streets to the halls of power.

Risen depicts a nation that is not united in mourning, but divided by rage and fear. He quotes Lady Bird Johnson recalling the night of King's death, when she describes feeling "poised at the edge of another abyss, the bottom of which we could in no way see." Her sheltered anxiety is juxtaposed with this sentiment from civil rights leader Floyd McKissick: "The next Negro to advocate nonviolence should be torn to bits by the black people." Those words don't fit very well with the narrative of uplift we've imposed on the civil rights revolution, and therein lies the chief value of this book. Risen conveys the intense, often ugly emotions of the time, which have been obscured by our contemporary platitudes.

Photo of Temple Grandin, (c) Joshua Nathaniel Pritikin and William Lawrence Jarrold, from Wikipedia.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A little fragrant adventure

While cruising around the Web in search of sites selling attars, I came across CreScent Beauty, purveyors of fragrances from Itarji, a Saudi Arabian company that makes traditional attars and oud, and also sells alcohol-based perfumes. Their “Western” fragrances sounded completely unappealing, but the “Oriental” perfumes intrigued me and the bottles looked fabulous.

I tried to do a little searching on the forums and blogs—surely somebody had given these a try. I couldn’t find a word anywhere, but I felt like having a little fragrant adventure, so I plunged in an ordered 3 perfumes: AlMalekah, AlMaali and AlSafwah. The prices led me to expect the equivalent of drugstore perfumes—something wearable, but similar in quality to head shop oils. I was pleasantly shocked to find that my choices were all beautiful, sophisticated fragrances that could hold their own with the best niche products.

The customer review at CreScent Beauty says AlMalekah means “the queen,” which certainly seems appropriate to this perfume, which has an austere, noble character. The top has a bright, bitter quality, dominated by coriander and citron. The heart emerges with a very faint floral note I can’t identify. A touch of rose? Whatever it is, it quickly gives way to a wonderful accord of soft, dry woods with a whisper of patchouli. The pungency of oud is present, but it’s not at all overwhelming. The scent remains very linear past that point, although its very last remnants take on a pleasant powderiness. I can’t think of any mainstream perfume that is comparable to AlMalekah. It’s an uncompromising scent that doesn’t give even the slightest nod to popular frills. The only scent remotely like it in my collection is Temple from Anya’s Garden, although AlMalekah completely lacks the cheer and uplift of Temple’s top notes. If you like Temple but find it’s just too much for you to wear, AlMalekah is worth investigating.

The website description of AlMaali led me to expect something along the lines of Coriandre or even Ivoire. In fact, AlMaali is a rich, green patchouli-fest. If you are a confirmed patchouli hater, skip this review and move on to AlSafwah below; however, if you like patchouli as it is used in Eden or the original Maja (may she rest in peace), you might find a lot to love about AlMaali. The opening is prettily green and a wee bit watery—in fact, very like Eden, though it lacks Eden’s fruit notes. At this stage AlMaali comes across as a rather quiet. You may be tempted to spritz a little more, thinking you haven’t put on quite enough. Don’t do it. Once the patch starts to emerge, AlMaali finds its voice, becoming a full-throated mezzo singing in a dark forest. The smooth, sexy patchouli combines with the merest hints of moss and vanilla. It’s powerful stuff, and yet very wearable. In spite of the widespread disdain for patchouli, I suspect AlMaali would rate as the biggest crowd pleaser among my three choices.

AlSafwah is so wildly different from its catalog description—“Earthy, woodsy, light Oudh notes”—that I would have assumed there’d been a shipping error if the package hadn’t been labeled in English as well as Arabic. AlSafwah is a fruity chypre to my nose, emphasis on the “fruity.” The top and heart are thoroughly dominated by a green berry note that is usually described in mainstream perfumery as “blackcurrant bud” or “blackberry leaf.” Underneath is a very pretty moss and sandalwood accord that doesn’t fully emerge until the last stages of the dry down. AlSafwah could be the sister of one of my all-time favorites, Balmain de Balmain, although the proportion of fruit to moss is reversed in the two. The assertiveness of AlSafwah’s fruit against the dry background reminds me a little of Serge Lutens’ Arabie—not that they have much in common in terms of notes, but in both cases the fruit has the paradoxical effect of making the scent hotter and heavier.

On the BitterGrace Olfactory Pleasure Meter, AlMalekah and AlMaali rate a solid 8, AlSafwah gets at least a 6—I might rate it higher on a different day. That’s a pretty remarkable rate of success for buying blind. I’m eager to try more of these. If anybody out there knows this line or more about the company, please feel free to chime in and enlighten us. I can’t believe these affordable pretties don’t have some fans.

A few notes on commerce: CreScent Beauty appears to be some kind of franchise operation. Itarji’s main website seems to be You’ll find a larger selection of products there, although CreScent Beauty is currently offering more bargains. My order was shipped with lightning speed and perfectly packed, but two of the bottles did leak ever so slightly in transit. Nothing worth complaining about, but I thought I’d mention it in the interest of full disclosure for anybody planning to make a purchase.

The photo shows, l. to r., AlMaali, AlMalekah, AlSafwah

John Updike, 1932-2009

I was a little shocked to hear on the radio just now that John Updike has died. I had no idea he was ill. I should confess up front that I'm indulging in name-dropping by blogging about his passing, since I was never a fan of his until I got the opportunity to interview him a couple of years ago. The brush with celebrity was a lot more fun than I want to admit, and he was very gracious, the perfect interview subject. He had interesting things to say, not least about himself, and he is the only person I've ever encountered who actually spoke in complete, perfectly composed sentences. I was so charmed by him that my editor took to ribbing me by referring to him as "the charming Mr. Updike." But he was charming.**

In spite of my crush on him, I never have managed to develop a great love for his work. I admire some of the short stories, but most of his fiction is not for me, nor is his poetry. Maybe my opinion will change someday--it's happened before. I know I need to read In the Beauty of the Lilies, even if I never give anything else of his another shot. Right now, if you asked me to pick a favorite Updike book, I'd choose one of his collections of art criticism: Just Looking and Still Looking. He writes about art with an unpretentious enthusiasm that makes you wish you could wander through a gallery with him--and then go to lunch and listen to him talk about it in his ever-so-charming way.

**Oh, I should have said our interview was done by phone. His voice alone was enough to sway me--that's how damn charming he was.

Monday, January 26, 2009

One Sentence Perfume Review: Camellia, Hové Parfumeur

Soft and sheer as gauze, Camellia has the melancholy beauty of a bride destined for a loveless marriage.

My guess at notes: Lily of the Valley, Iris, Carnation, Rose, Ylang Ylang, Vetiver, Sandalwood

Luxury Line page at Hové

La Fiancée, Jules Joseph LeFebvre (1836-1911)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sturnus vulgaris

I watched a European starling hop around a supermarket parking lot today. His iridescent feathers glistened in the sun and he was puffed up a little from the cold. He was about as pretty as it is possible for a starling to be. I don't think any passerine has a more ungainly walk than a European starling, and the relative lack of a tail is a pretty serious fashion handicap, but when they're standing still, giving a full frontal view like the guy in the photo, they can be handsome birds.

Looks aren't everything, though, and I don't think there's any bird Americans hate more than starlings. My grandmother, who was not generally prone to violence, used to go after them with a pellet pistol. We'd be sitting in the kitchen having breakfast, and Granny would spy them through the window. She'd jump out of her chair, a woman on a mission. Starlings at my feeder! she'd say with fury, then she'd commence shooting at them out the back door. ...(more)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Winter comfort

There's plenty of light pollution hereabouts, with more creeping in all the time, but our nights are still dark enough that we sometimes get a really spectacular sky full of stars, and a clear view of the Milky Way. It happens mostly in winter, the only time the air is dry enough to be completely clear. As much as I hate the cold, I love standing outside on a January night, putting a crick in my neck as I try to pick out the constellations. ...(more)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"We know it is not true, but it is sweet..."

To hear you ask if I shall love always,
And myself answer: Till the end of days;

To feel your easeful sigh of happiness
When on your trembling lips I murmur: Yes;

It is so sweet. We know it is not true.
What matters it? The night must shed her dew.

We know it is not true, but it is sweet—
The poem with this music is complete.

From "Romance" by Claude McKay, 1922. Complete poem at Poetry Foundation.

Lovers in the Countryside, Gustave Courbet, 1844. Image from Web Gallery of Art.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dave goes to the inauguration

Dave wasn't able to send photos or even text while he was on the Mall. The network was so overloaded that his Blackberry had a little nervous collapse and had to be revived by AT&T. He put some shots up on his Facebook page after he got back to his parents' house. I'm afraid they're mostly studies of the tops of other people's heads, but he did capture a bit of crowd action. (Click to enlarge the image.)

Here we have some folks who aren't quite ready to let go of our previous beloved leader:

Their signs are impossible to make out, but Dave reports that these tree dwellers are peaceniks of unknown political bent:

This is the confetti toss as Obama took the slightly imperfect oath. Yes, that blurry square way off in the distance is the Jumbotron:

Dave escaped the Mall, packed up his car, and at this moment is driving from Bethesda to New Haven. He just called me from the Joyce Kilmer rest area on the New Jersey Turnpike.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Warning: Buzzkill post

Dave is in D.C., and if all goes according to plan he’ll fight his way down to the Mall and see Obama’s swearing-in via Jumbotron. He’s got his Blackberry, so he should be able to send photos as he wanders through the crowd—or more likely, stands locked into one chilly spot by the crush of delirious Obamamaniacs. I'll post pics if he gets some good ones.

I opted to stay home, mostly because I hate the cold, and huge crowds kinda freak me out. I went to the big abortion rights march in 1992, and being crammed onto the Mall with roughly 500,000 other humans was not a joyous experience. Repeating the ordeal with a mob of millions was pretty much out of the question.

I’ve had a few moments of regret about my decision not to go. After all, I was very happy to see Obama elected, especially considering the horrifying alternative. I thought it said something good about us as a people that we chose an untested but obviously intelligent guy over a familiar warmonger. As for the race issue, of course the symbolic significance is huge, and symbols are not trivial. I think talk of a post-racial society is bullshit, but I am old enough to remember when a president with black skin was inconceivable. Without a doubt, we've made progress.

Obama’s inauguration will be historic, important, a glad day for Americans—all that stuff. I’ve got enough love of country in me to feel a little pang about missing my chance to witness it, but now that the day is upon us, I find I’m very glad I chose to sit this out. I don’t want to feel triumphant or redeemed, I don’t want to be surrounded by people who are relieved that we can once again feel like the good guys.

We are not the good guys.

Bush was an exceptionally clumsy imperialist, but there was nothing unique about anything he did. The United States has been wielding its big stick all over the globe for more than a century. Obama may close Gitmo and make a peaceful gesture here and there, but he's already promised to send more troops to Afghanistan, and given us a Secretary of State who's made it very clear whose team she's on in Israel's conflict with the Palestinians. Whatever "change" Obama may bring, it won't mean the end of American-sponsored state terrorism.

Knowing that, I just can't get myself into the party spirit. That throng in D.C.--and all the rest of us--should be mourning the massacred innocents of Iraq, Afghanistan and Gaza, not celebrating the installation of Prince Charming at the White House.

Photo of Douglas Fairbanks speaking at a Liberty Loan rally, 1918, from Wikimedia Commons

A few words from Dr. King, in honor of the day

"Violence ends up defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers."

From his Nobel Lecture, 1964

"This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation's self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy, for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers."

From his 1967 speech "Beyond Vietnam"

Sunday, January 18, 2009

"Traditional, vibrant, and tasteful"

That phrase describes me, according to an online quiz, "What Your Taste in Art Says About You." Much to my surprise, the test pegged Islamic art as my favorite, and told me this:

"People that like Islamic art tend to be more traditional people that appreciate keeping patterns that they learned and experienced from their past. It is not to say that they are not innovative personalities, they just do not like to let go of their roots. They like to put new ideas into details and make certain that they will work before sharing them with others. Failure is not something they like to think about because they are more interested in being successful and appreciated for their intelligence. These people can also be or like elaborate things in their life as long as they are tasteful. They tend to prefer geometric patterns and vibrant colors."

Clumsy writing aside, that's not wildly off target as a personal profile of me. I do indeed like to mull over ideas for a long time before I share them, and I avoid failure more than I should. As for being tasteful, all I can say is that I think my sense of taste is a tad better than that of the people who do the graphics at HelloQuizzy. They illustrated my test results with a fairly hideous horse painting, which you should be able to see--along with the details of my test--here. I'd have chosen something more like the Savafid painting above.

You can take the test yourself by going here. (Thanks to sunt_lacrimae_rerum for the link, which I found at her blog, Gubbinal.)

Woman With a Spray of Flowers, Safavid Iran, c.1575. Image from Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A little romance

We've been getting just a taste of the intensely cold weather the rest of the country's having. Thursday was extremely chilly here, with enough wind to make walking outdoors less than blissful. I hiked about half my usual distance and decided that was enough. At one point on the trail--which was completely deserted except for me and one scrambling chipmunk--I encountered an overpowering odor of skunk. That seemed a little odd. Cold weather generally encourages skunks to stay huddled in their dens. I figured some unlucky guy had ventured out in search of a snack and become one. Skunks are a favorite food of great horned owls. ...(more)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

One Sentence Perfume Review: Silences, Jacomo

A romantic tryst in an untended garden, as imagined by a nun.

Notes per Basenotes: Galbanum, Green Note, Bergamot, Lemon, Orange Blossom / Orris, Rose, Muguet, Hyacinth, Jasmin / Moss, Cedarwood, Sandal, Musk

Vase with Flowers, Jan van Huysum, 1726. Image from Web Gallery of Art.

"Slowly the poison the whole bloodstream fills."

Slowly the poison the whole blood stream fills.
It is not the effort nor the failure tires.
The waste remains, the waste remains and kills.

It is not your system or clear sight that mills
Down small to the consequence a life requires;
Slowly the poison the whole blood stream fills.

They bled an old dog dry yet the exchange rills
Of young dog blood gave but a month's desires.
The waste remains, the waste remains and kills.

From "Missing Dates" by William Empson. Complete poem with a recording of Empson at The Poetry Archive.

Heart and its Blood Vessels, Leonardo da Vinci, c. 1510. Image from Web Gallery of Art.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Patrick McGoohan, 1928 –2009

The Prisoner has left us.

God, how I loved the show when I was a teenager. It aired on the local PBS station--late Saturday night, as I remember--and I would curl up on the sofa in the darkened living room to watch it, enthralled. Dave gave me the series on DVD a few years ago and I haul it out whenever I start to feel that it's impossible to be human in the modern world.

Clip uploaded by 9umber6ix at Youtube.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Let's hear it for the peaceniks

This photo was taken by Abby Whisenant, a friend of Dave's who attended the demonstration in D.C. last weekend to protest Israel's brutality in Gaza. The cabdriver held up the newspaper to show his support for the protesters as they marched along in the rain. You can see videos of the march here. About 10,000 people traveled across the country to take part. I think those of us who are sickened by the war--actually, by all the wars--owe them our thanks.

As much as I admire Americans who speak out, their commitment pales in comparison to that of Israelis who take a stand for peace. Go to the archive of yesterday's Democracy Now! show, which featured Israeli university professor Neve Gordon debating Lanny Davis. Gordon's eloquent plea for peace, even as he and his family endure Hamas rockets, exposes the idiocy of U.S./Israel pro-war rhetoric.

It's not easy for people in Israel to defy the government's vicious policy toward the Palestinians. Check out the video below about Israelis who have refused to support the occupation. (Thanks again to Abby for posting it at Facebook.)

All these people give me hope.

Living color

Sunday morning was a study in gray. A flat, dove-color sky was reflected in the lake, which was perfectly still. Staring at the water gave me a sense of being suspended in a void. Not an unpleasant sensation, but it had the odd effect of snatching my thoughts. I felt as I sometimes do just before I fall asleep--that my brain was still ticking away, cataloging perceptions, but none of the data was making its way to consciousness. ...(more)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Five more questions I can't answer

1. Jicky or Vol de Nuit?

2. Should I get a miniature horse?

3. Why do I lust after beautiful but useless things?

4. Emmylou or Dolly?

5. Should Bush and Co. be prosecuted as war criminals, or should we just forget the bastards and move on? (I know I've asked this one before but I'm wondering if feelings have changed--plus, I thought I should have at least one serious question.)

Democritus in Meditation, Salvator Rosa, c.1650. Image from Web Gallery of Art.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Eddie South

If you ever check out my music listing over there on the right margin (which I am very lazy about updating), you may have noticed that Eddie South gets a lot of air time around here. South was a brilliant classical player who couldn't get work with major orchestras because he was black. He switched to jazz and wound up playing with the likes of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli. You can read a little more about him here. He didn't make hit records and film of him seems to be pretty scarce, so I was very pleased to find this nice clip of him playing "Tzigani in Rhythm," one of my favorite tunes. I can't find the source of the clip. It seems to be from the late 40s, judging by the clothes and hairstyles. The only reference to South at IMDB is for a 1953 episode of the Dave Garroway show, and I'm sure this isn't from that. Anyway, enjoy. The picture is imperfect but the sound isn't bad. Pay attention to the bow work. Genius.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

This seems like a good time to speak truth to power

"If you succumb to the temptation of using violence in the struggle...your chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos."
~Martin Luther King, Jr.*

Robert Scheer, Why do so few speak up for Gaza?

It Will Be The Same (The Disasters of War), Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, 1810. Image from Web Gallery of Art.
*Quote via

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

One Sentence Perfume Review: Estée, Estée Lauder (1968)

Estée is elegant but cuddly, and so charming you barely notice that she's an airhead.

Notes per the Estée Lauder website: Jasmine, Rose, Muguet, Coriander, Ylang-Ylang, Orris, Sandalwood, Moss

Photo by Halved Sandwich from Wikimedia Commons.

An enabler alert for Hové fans

The beautiful Belle Chasse, which got a worshipful One Sentence Review from me, is being reformulated. I called the shop yesterday and was told they still have stock of the old formula, at least in the perfume. If you love this scent, or if my review made you want to try it, you might want to snag some while you still have the chance. I didn't ask what the new juice is going to be like, but the original is the sort of refined, genuine floral that has almost disappeared from the world of commercial perfumery.

Hové's phone number is (504) 525-7827. You'll find their website here.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

"It is full winter now..."

IT is full Winter now: the trees are bare,
Save where the cattle huddle from the cold
Beneath the pine, for it doth never wear
The Autumn’s gaudy livery whose gold
Her jealous brother pilfers, but is true
To the green doublet; bitter is the wind, as though it blew

From Saturn’s cave; a few thin wisps of hay
Lie on the sharp black hedges, where the wain
Dragged the sweet pillage of a summer’s day
From the low meadows up the narrow lane;
Upon the half-thawed snow the bleating sheep
Press close against the hurdles, and the shivering house-dogs creep

From the shut stable to the frozen stream
And back again disconsolate, and miss
The bawling shepherds and the noisy team;
And overhead in circling listlessness
The cawing rooks whirl round the frosted stack,
Or crowd the dripping boughs; and in the fen the ice-pools crack

Where the gaunt bittern stalks among the reeds
And flaps his wings, and stretches back his neck,
And hoots to see the moon; across the meads
Limps the poor frightened hare, a little speck;
And a stray seamew with its fretful cry
Flits like a sudden drift of snow against the dull grey sky.

From "Humanitad" by Oscar Wilde, 1881. Text via This is a very long poem, but I think it's worth reading the whole thing. The poem travels a long way from its opening verses.

Winter Landscape in the Fôret de Soignes, with the Flight Into Egypt, Denis van Alsloot, c.1616. Image from Web Gallery of Art.

For those who follow me on Blogger,

you may have come here looking for a post titled "Nine minutes and sixteen seconds." I deleted it. It contained link I found on Counterpunch, to a video supposedly taken recently in Gaza. The video was phony. It was from 2005 and had nothing to do with the current conflict. Counterpunch has since taken the link off their site.

It's a shame that misguided people try to help the cause of the Palestinians with such crap. The truth is terrible enough, and when people lie this way, they only give us an excuse to turn away from the truth.

For something closer to the truth than either the bogus video or the coverage in the mainstream U.S. press, go to today's program at Democracy Now!, or read the articles at The Independent.

Monday, January 5, 2009

It's Epiphany, where's the heresy?

There isn't going to be any. I've decided the 4th song should be the last. I'm only willing to be deliberately tiresome up to a point, and then I feel obliged to return to being tiresome in a more relaxed, inadvertent way.

So, enough religion. Let's talk about vampires. On Sunday afternoon Dave and I went to see Let the Right One In. It's a Swedish movie about an extremely blond little boy who gets the crap beaten out of him regularly by school bullies. Then he makes friends with a 12-year-old girl who turns out to be a vampire. They fall in love. There's a lot of blood. That's pretty much the plot. Sounds great, huh? Actually, it is great, one of the best movies I've seen lately. (And I've seen some excellent ones, including Milk and Slumdog Millionaire. Don't miss them.)

Julie has a good post over at her blog pondering the absence of passion in contemporary art, and I thought about posting a smart comment there about how ours is an ironic age, and irony is the enemy of passion, blah, blah, blah--but then I realized I had actually just seen a wonderful example of genuine passion in this silly little vampire flick. The boy in the film, Oskar, is a complex fellow, a tormented innocent who is pushed by cruelty to a very dark place in his soul. He endures his suffering with a furious ecstasy. The bullying enrages him, but he's embarrassed by his rage because he senses that there's something more to it than simple anger. The violence of the bullies and Oskar's private revenge fantasies both have an erotic tinge.

When the girl, Eli, shows up, the erotic energy is heightened and the repressed passion comes bursting forth, literally. You can read the relationship between the two children in a lot of ways: as an innocent romance corrupted by a wicked society; as a metaphor for the power struggle between the West and the rest of the world (Eli has a distinctly Semitic look); or as a study of Oskar's sexual awakening. To me it seemed like an account of a spiritual journey. Oskar starts out hoping for deliverance from his suffering, only to discover that deliverance comes through embracing the very thing he most feared. He learns that there is joy to be found in the blackest part of his soul.

Oops, there I go, back on religion again. I better stop now. Here's the trailer for Let the Right One In. Go see it if you get the chance.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Do not disturb

The temperature last Wednesday morning was above freezing, but a brutal north wind made it feel much colder. I kept putting down the hood of my jacket, thinking, Oh, it’s not that cold, and then a gust would hit me and I’d put it back up again. My eyes were streaming before I’d walked a quarter mile, so I was continually debating whether it was worth pulling one of my hands out of its warm pocket to wipe them. ...(more)

Friday, January 2, 2009

One Sentence Perfume Review: Secret Obsession, Calvin Klein

An exquisitely ordinary perfume, perfect for those occasions when you don't want to seem the least bit interesting.

Notes per the Secret Obsession website: Exotic plum, Mace, Rose de Damas; Egyptian jasmine, French orange flower, Tuberose; Cashmere wood, Burnt amber, Australian sandalwood

Photo by Colin Rose from Wikimedia Commons.

Don't miss Mary's spectacular post

...on the myth of Leda and the Swan. She has put together a gorgeous set of images, along with her usual thoughtful commentary. Click here.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

We enjoyed a peaceful New Year

I wish everyone could say that. I don't usually bother with resolutions, but I've decided 2009 is a good year to start doing a better job of walking my talk, politically and otherwise. To that end, I just sent a letter to the Obama transition people about the need for our new President to condemn the horror in Gaza. You can write one yourself by clicking here. (Ignore that note about snail mail, and just scroll down to the email message box.)

When you've done that, come back to the blog and meditate on this beautiful photo Dave took during a late afternoon walk today. You should be able to see some more photos here, featuring Pearl (a.k.a. "Eco-Dog") showing off her fabulous new hybrid Ford Escape. It was her Christmas present from Dave. She lets me ride in it sometimes.