Monday, July 13, 2020

Comet, It Makes You Vomit

If life ever does return to something resembling normality, it is going to take quite the effort convincing my body to keep regular sleeping and waking hours. Most nights I attempt going to sleep by 11PM, but somehow that seems to be the only time my teenager wants to have anything to do with me. He only rolls out of bed by 3 PM at the earliest, more often only in time for the evening meal. I understand. Perhaps he's found the best approach to the pandemic is sleeping through as much of it as possible. School will resume soon enough (Though we still don't know if that will be physically or virtually) and he'll adjust, but for the moment there seems only benefit from extra sleep. Most teenagers are on the deprived end of the sleep scale. 

So we'll talk, or Dan will. I don't have anything encouraging to offer, but sometimes just getting it verbalised is helpful. These generation Z kids take no prisoners though, I'll tell you that much. That's good-someone should be holding those in power to account. 

The past few days we've been getting up at 4 AM to try and catch a glimpse of the comet Neowise. Our skies in Omaha are fairly dark and we have good views, but we've been thwarted by clouds. This morning I thought we might do better driving out to the country and getting to a higher, more open space above the tree lines. It was a better view, generally but still obscured by clouds. We'll keep trying as long as it is there-we need something to do. We've had clear views of Venus, and several constellations so perhaps the clouds will shift enough on the horizon to give us a chance. 

He went straight to bed when we got home at sunrise. I made tea, and decided to just get on with the day.  Whatever optimism I might have started the day with at 4 AM was quickly diminished by a quick glance at the morning news. It feels foolish to even bother looking, but there's always a chance that a  useful cure will be found, only to have that hope dashed quickly by reports that whatever immunity is derived from antibodies lasts a far shorter time than suspected. How do you keep boosting a vaccine that only lasts but a few months? I'm an anthropologist, how the fuck should I know? I took biology at school like everyone else, but I wouldn't claim expertise. That hasn't stopped politicians and pundits with even less science background offering their thoughts on the subject as facts. It is all so terribly depressing. 

I showered and got dressed. Made the bed because for the time being it is my office as Mr. Eat The Blog is working downstairs. It is a king sized bed with plenty of room to spread out, and my night table is an antique child's desk with room for a lamp, a mug of tea, and other items. There's a north-east facing window that gets the morning sun without heating up the room too much, so that's pleasant enough. Sometimes I take outfit photos for Instagram, but with such an early start this morning I don't much feel like putting on makeup. I'll work until three or so, then start thinking about making dinner. By then, Dan will be starting to wake up, and the local Covid numbers will be getting posted by the health department for the day. They're not really going up, but they're not decreasing either. We've plateaued more or less in Omaha, but that's poor consolation to the families of those two or three people that seem to die daily. We're doing better than the rest of the country though, so it feels rude to complain. 

Tomorrow I have a visit to the dentist-it could only be delayed so long. I'm hoping that the lull we seem to be in will last long enough for me to deal with what needs attention before the next, almost certainly inevitable lockdown comes.  They're taking precautions, and I have the first appointment of the day in an office that hasn't yet been breathed on! In a strange way, I'm looking forward to it. Getting out is getting out at this point. I'll take whatever distraction I can get.

I wonder how we'll fill our time once the comet is gone? Chasing after something elusive is about all there is to sustain us, be it cures for the seemingly incurable, or snowballs of ice and ammonia, their tails reflected in the sun. 

That last paragraph is a horribly over-written attempt at being thoughtful. Maybe I should get some sleep. 

Friday, July 10, 2020

I Don’t Want to Go Out, I Want to Stay in. Get things Done.
The last of the holiday fireworks have exploded leaving the neighbourhood peaceful again in the evenings. Omaha is experiencing a record stretch of heat and humidity that’s bad enough to keep tomato plants from setting fruit. I don’t ever remember that happening. In a normal, non-pandemic summer I would feel trapped at home with the extreme weather,  but in our current reality I’d hardly noticed. Most of my walks are at dusk.
Some plants clearly like the heat. Tropical ones anyway.
Cardoon staus is excellent.
Lemon cucumbers and sweet potatoes are doing great as well. We had a bit of a Japanese beetle infestation, but I plucked them out by hand with a torch in the dark. They were small, so hopefully that was just a recent hatching,  and it is now under control. They demolish leaves, but don’t do too much damage to the plants otherwise. I suppose pestilence just goes hand in hand with plague. Perhaps the new comet being seen in the sky will turn out to bean  asteroid racing to earth. We’d probably admit we deserved it, if we were being honest.
Trips to the grocer are very much a matter of buying what’s available rather than what I’d prefer. This is celerac/ celery root/ knob celery. It wouldn’t be my first choice of root vegetables, but we were happy to have it.
I prepared it by tossing the peeled and cut root in lemon juice to keep it from browning. After 30 minutes I boiled it in salted water for another 10. Rinsed  in cold water to stop the cooking,  it then dries on a towel. I heated some olive oil in a frying pan and before frying tossed the celery root in flour. Fried a few minutes until golden and served with a tomato, caper, and olive sauce it made a
Lovely accompaniment for a fish dinner.
Smaller celery root can be shaved thinly and used in salads. Anyway, I’m not going to limit myself to whatever is on my monthly list as there’s a good chance of it being unavailable.
I’ve had no such difficulties finding chicken from a small local producer.
I don’t let my inexperience with poultry ( I’ve been vegetarian since the early 80s) stop me ftom cooking for the meat eaters in the family. My chicken recipe is this:
Let chicken warm at room temperature 30 minutes before cooking. Salt, pepper, tarragon, thyme, and rosemary if you like it. Rub the chicken with olive oil, season and then shove two cut lemons inside. This solves the need to truss and also flavours it. For a 5 lb. chicken, give it about an hour. That’s it. I don’t bother basting. This will give it crisp skin without drying it out.
I’ve also been putting the fresh basil to good use! This was a simple sauce made with fresh tomatoes and onion.
In addition to the cherry vinegar I am making, this is a jar of nasturtium vinegar. I’m rather excited for it.  Sometimes all a sautéed vegetable needs is a splash of vinegar to season it. I like this sort of thing on greens, carrots, etc.
Clothes this week have been random. I haven’t bothered planning outfits and have taken an improvisational approach. This dress almost certainly began life as a bedsheet.
I was wearing this blouse the day I found out I was pregnant. Obviously it is sentimental to me. The skirt was thrifted ages ago.
I bought this mask from SewingbySelena on etsy.  It is beautifully made.
I’m still not seeing very much mask wearing in Omaha, and am terribly disappointed. I was especially upset by the schmuck standing behind me in Walgreens screaming (unmasked) into his phone about how he doesn’t want to be “cooped up at home with a screaming baby”🙄. The cashier pointed at him and scolded, “You! Six feet!”, but he continued spewing into the phone. I reckon thst baby doesn’t want to be with him either.  People are such assholes.
This dress is so sheer it can’t be worn without a slip, but is so lightweight it still feels like wearing almost nothing. I’ve owned it close to 40 years 
and never tire of it.
And that’s about it for the moment. I continue to plod along with the novel, cook, clean, and do the shopping once every few weeks. We still haven’t heard much guidance from the schools about autumn, and will probably have to be flexible day to day. Deadly Dan the future exterminator took out a wasp nest for me, so his summer is now complete 😂. He’s careful
, I promise. 
If only he could do something about the Japanese Beetles. 

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Vintage Formulation Devin by Aramis-Review

picture swiped from internet.

I was wary. I'm about 50/50 with the perfume creations of Bernard Chant. Cabochard, Azuree, Aromatics Elixir-yes. Aliage, Estee, Lauren-oh, hell no. Looking  over the notes I reasoned that oakmoss, pine, vetiver, and leather can only smell so bad. Yes, Devin has been compared to my nemesis, Aliage but there were enough other notes listed that might make it a bit less of an onslaught.  If Aliage is the screaming harpie of the perfume world, perhaps Devin more of a singing siren even if it crashed me straight into the rocks. In the end, Devin was neither.

Devin is somewhat tame. Typically, it is best to avoid reading comments at Fragrantica before buying something to facilitate forming my own opinion. Overwhelmingly, the comments complained of how strong it is, and how impossible it would be to wear something like Devin today. Perhaps I've got a better-than-most tolerance for oakmoss, but I wouldn't call Devin strong. If anything, it could benefit from a bit more projection.

Like so many people stuck at home during the pandemic, I've been taking walks around my neighbourhood and doing a bit of gardening to get some outdoor activities. Our neighbourhood stinks. There, I've said it.  There's only so much you can attribute to geosmin in the environment, and I'm sure it is a combination of rotting mulch, ongoing sewer/infrastructure work, and shrubbery that smells like a wet dog. It seems to cling to synthetic fabrics worse than cotton, but for at least an hour after coming indoors I can smell it strongly. I'm bothered by it more than my family, but I've also found it is worst in summer,  on hot days and that sweet fragrances just make the overall effect more nauseating. As a result, I save the sweeter, floral fragrances for the cold weather,  and go for the herbal/leathery/animalics in summer. It sounds counter intuitive ,but it works. Devin holds up nicely to my neighbourhood's "Dog in the rain" scent profile. 

I didn’t know anyone that wore Devin in the 70s, and that’s probably for the best as there aren’t any associations interfering with my enjoyment of it. It doesn’t feel dated, but it also doesn’t smell terribly original. Perhaps in 1977 combining leather and galbanum would have felt more daring than it does today. Really, it is overwhelmingly oakmoss, leather, and pine notes with some amber and musk to keep it from going wild. There’s caraway, cinnamon, and carnations there as well for some spice, but the spices feel restrained.

The reviews on Fragantica are rather focused on the animalic notes in Devin but to my nose they weren’t overwhelming. Keep in mind that I rather like fragrances like Kouros, so I might not be the best person to judge if animalic notes are overwhelming. 

There have been comparisons of Devin with Halston Z 14. I live with someone that wears Z14 in all the various formulations and I cannot see even the slightest similarity. Z14 has to be the most boring men’s fragrance ever made. It's true. Sorry. I don’t even dislike it because there’s nothing there to find offensive. If you splash on some Devin it might not be enough to clear a room but it is at least noticeable. Z14 is a fragrance for men that want to perform the act of aftershave so they can be like their male role models, without committing to smelling like anything. So no, Devin does not smell like Z14. For the record, it is my fault he's so devoted to the stuff as I gave him half a bottle I bought at Goodwill and didn't like. I didn't expect to start my husband on a pursuit of vintage bottles of the world's least exciting fragrance. I mean,wearing Z-14 is like buying one of those pre-packaged cheap dress shirts with the matching tie they used to sell at Sears. It gets the job done, but without much imagination. 

Devin would be a good, "starter leather" fragrance for someone that isn't sure how they feel about the note. If someone who had always worn fougeres took Devin out for a spin, even if they didn't necessarily enjoy the fragrance, it likely wouldn't send anyone racing to the sink to scrub it off. Devin occupies that space somewhere between being dusted with talc at the barbershop, and handing out towels at the bathouse😁. 

So what's in Devin? 
Pine, galbanum, aldehydes, oakmoss, carnation, cinnamon, artemisia, labdanum, jasmine, patchouli, caraway, musk, bergamot, amber, lemon, orange, cedar, lavender. 

Devin is classified as a chypre which feels wrong to me, though I'm not sure exactly why. Maybe the lack of vetiver? Too much aldehyde? No civet? It isn't one of those, "Absolutely not" reactions, just more a sense that chypre isn't quite right, though in all honesty I don't know what would be a better way to classify it. Kinda green, kinda woody, with an animal that runs through said woods but so quickly you barely catch a glimpse-and then you have some Earl Grey tea? Yes, most of the elements are there, but perhaps I just want it to be stronger. 

Is Devin any good? Well that's an impossible question as taste factors into reviews, but overall it is a quality fragrance. There's nothing bad about Devin unless you're a white musk sort of person and then anything beyond fabric softener is going to seem challenging. I do wish the green notes were a bit stronger, and perhaps that the woods didn't wait until an hour in to start showing up. The top citrus notes are quite pleasant, but they're awfully short lived. The aldehydes are mild in Devin, rather than the caustic hairspray type that I associate with mid-70s fragrances. 

Of the fragrances in the Aramis line that I've smelled in their vintage formulations, I'd have to say Devin is the most wearable. The original Aramis, which I adore is going to be difficult for most people to feel comfortable with in 2020. Now that we're all isolating, or wearing masks when out (and if you're not, shame on you) I feel free to wear it whenever, but under ordinary circumstances I probably wouldn't. Devin is different, and although the Fragrantica comments are filled with people arguing the contrary, I do think it is wearable with respect to modern tastes. I recently tried a vintage bottle of Aramis Tuscany and well...that will be another review. Two words by way of preview-Not. Good. 

Devin was marketed as a "country" fragrance. OK, I think perhaps that's more of an idealised "country" than the smell of manure, hay that is going mouldy after a week of heat and rain, or sulfurous well water. I spent 12 years on a farm, and I sure as hell wouldn't want to smell like it. But in the idealised pastoral, the bucolic sense maybe Devin evokes something. Perhaps wealthy Harris Tweed wearing hobbyist farmers rather that someone in Carhart overalls artificially inseminating a cow. Or castrating a bull with one of these...

That's not the Devin vibe at all.
More like Constable, I think.

Yeah, that's Devin.

The good news (for us, not the cattle) is that Devin is easily found all over the internet for very little money. I haven't tried the new formulation, but that is widely available as well. Sometimes it can be nice to wear something that just smells good. Is it the high point of Chant's career as a nose? Absolutely not, but it does remain consistent with the style of his better creations (by "Better" I mean the ones that aren't Aliage). While it is doubtful anyone will stop you in the street wanting to know what you're wearing, it probably won't send anyone  scurrying away either-unless you're closer than 6ft, which you shouldn't be...and that's no bull.

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

There Are Nicer Ways To Do It, But the Nice Ways Always Fail

Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts, solidarity, and the like this week through your comments, DMs, and emails. Always interesting to hear what people are thinking.

The 20th was Dan’s half- birthday and I was able to bake the yearly raspberry/ chocolate cake for him with some adjustments to keep it dairy free. Replacing milk with oat milk, and heavy cream with a coconut based coffee creamer, was straightforward enough. I had my doubts about the margarine and dairy free chocolate, but it turned out beautifully. I would say both the cake and icing feel lighter but that’s no bad thing. I should have tried it with egg replacement because I think this would be one hell of a vegan cake. Purée a pound of raspberries and anything is going to be special. 

I bought the raspberries on sale a couple months ago  and froze them. Also held on to a box of specialty cake flour and some chocolate in anticipation of baking the cake. I guess with all the disappointment for Dan’s school year ending the way it did and a summer without baseball, I just wanted to keep something the same. I know it is only cake, but it was a bigger deal to me than him. 

I’ve been able to purchase ethically raised and packed chicken locally, which is nice for the meat eaters in the family. Every few weeks I get my whole chicken, and for the next few days the boys have leftovers from the roast. I’ve done everything from salads to fried rice, and have discovered that much of what I consider retro food still appeals- so long as nothing is encased in gelatin!
Fried rice, chicken salad with pineapple- what’s not to like?
There’s also been cherry pie...
The softest white bread...
Stromboli ( think rolled pizza) with vegan cheese
And the chard that just keeps coming!
The sweet potatoes and cucumbers are happy.
As are the cardoons.
No fruit on the strawberries this year. Next year I will take Beatte’s advice and try relocating them.
Since this photo was taken the stalk of buds has emerged so it should flower soon.
There’s an unintentional garden of weeds/ wildflowers growing in the mud that pools by the garage. I appreciate their determination!
The Saharan dust clouds reached Omaha providing spectacular sunsets and some of the worst air quality we’ve ever had. Ah well, you take the good with the bad. These aren’t filtered photos.
 It was already a cloudy day making it all the more dramatic. This sort of once in a lifetime thing is exciting as it is over in a day unlike some things...
Yeah, please don’t. We can’t spare the hospitals or PPE. My usually quiet neighbourhood has been a constant Boom! Boom!Boom! For the past week- and it isn’t even the fourth yet🙄. It must be terrible for people with nervous dogs.
We’re lucky to have an abundance of birds to watch this spring. This is a fledgling grackle. It screamed for mama bird to feed it, she ignored it, it screamed some more and finally went and fed itself. I can’t relate. As soon as my human baby could grab the spoon he was happy to feed himself- apparently I was too slow keeping the food coming!
Speaking of my baby- when I go out to do the big shop every few weeks I like to bring him something back, even if it isn’t much. The pharmacy sells baseball cards, so I bought a couple packages, and the birdseed store has these plush birds that make accurate sounds when squeezed. The Great Horned Owl is in isolation for a bit to be extra safe, but it was happily received. The animal crackers/ biscuits were a fun throwback to when Dan was very small and would carry them around the supermarket swinging them by the string. The package has since been redesigned eliminating the string and also the cages in the picture. Sing it with me...”Born freeeee...”

On to the outfits now. These are old thrifted favourites getting a yearly wear.
The dress had an annoying built-in-bra that I finally removed. A padded bra isn’t something I will ever require. We were having a debate on Instagram whether the brooch is a dog or a pig. I reckon pig-what do you think?
Tee shirts are becoming my thing this summer. Don’t remember where I thrifted it.
The Chessa Davis 70s maxi skirt had a wear. I have two others to get to this summer. They go with absolutely nothing, but somehow work anyway. I love when that happens. These earrings are from Target, just before the pandemic hit.
Another strange but satisfying combination of a skirt from Kmart circa 2000 and an 80s brocade shell that zips in the back from the bottom. The earrings were purchased new in the 80s and are Laurel Burch. The bonkers belt was thrifted at Hand- Me-Ups a few years ago.
Everything here is thrifted from the Givenchy necklace to the Talbots skirt. The wood and shell belt is stamped Indonesia.
My wardrobe doesn’t include many trousers but the ones I have tend to be quality. These are linen, fully lined Ralph Lauren. I found them on a dollar rail a few year ago.  The shell is vintage 60s. The jacket is Esprit, bought new in the 80s. I take care of my clothes, and they last.
I love the vibe of this photo!
Ever buy something for the buttons? This bintage rayon blouse isn’t anything special, but the buttons certainly are!
Empire waisted dresses aren’t my thing , generally but here’s an exception. It was home sewn ( not by me) and is tastefully sequined. The bracelet is Monet, the necklace a vintage locket, and the earrings part of a set with matching necklace stamped W. Germany.
Who remembers this polyester dress? I thrifted it over 25 years ago  and after a few repairs it is still going strong.
More polyester in the form of this sleeveless dress. The vintage basket bag was thrifted as well.
A brown and pink spotty dress isn’t obvious, but it looks better on than it did in the shop. Glad I took a chance as it now gets worn regularly in spring and summer. Earrings are modern from Target. Beads are vintage.

Finally, there’s this Vera Neuman skirt. It is a strange almost brushed nylon crossed with crepe material. I’ve never run across another. It might be home sewn though it has an old Vera label inside. Perhaps it began as a tablecloth?!
And that’s about it for the clothing roundup. 

Everything is still much the same here. Limited trips out, my husband working from home, and my teenager sleeping his summer away. We had some good news that he can stop going for allergy jabs as he is likely to have got all there was to get out of it. I’m glad to not be going to the med center right now! His school expects to start again in mid-August, but we all know that’s subject to change. The school district isn’t part of Omaha Public Schools so we have completely different decision making. They’re requiring masks, so that’s good. Westside district has been pretty good with flexibility before the pandemic , so hopefully it will continue. I think we all know there’s going to be a good deal of improvisation this autumn. I know Dan is eager to get back in the woodshop and pursue the second year of carpentry which just isn’t the same without being in class. They had to finish last semester’s welding course with films about welding🙄. I want to see how they handle distance learning PE.

Before leaving, can we take a moment to remember one of the greatest games in Baseball that happened 50 years ago this week when Dock Ellis  of the Pittsburgh Pirates threw a no- hitter against the San Diego Padres tripping his brains out on acid?  He thought the home plate umpire was Nixon and that he was pitching to Jimi Hendrix who was batting with a guitar😂.

I know I should say something like, “Don’t do drugs, kids!” But... yeah.  Amazingly no one tries LSD as a performance enhancing drug! I mean, it worked once...

Have a great week. Don’t drop acid.