Sunday, March 13, 2011


Frozen in the garden trug a few weeks back
When reading the runes, the "ice" symbol represents "the element to which all things must return before they can change"
I've been on a perfume purchasing hiatus for a while.  I go on them from time to time, for one reason or another or some combination thereof.  The most common themes are: 1) Health, 2) Budget, 3) Nose/Brain fatigue.  And by fatigue, I don't really mean being twisted dry from too much smelling -- though that did happen a couple of times.  I mean more that I am done with the input portion of my {now recognized as} cyclical pattern...that it is time to either ponder, or just let things lie fallow for a while.

It's a combination of thinking patterns (sometimes described as "creative," sometimes just "proceessing") and physical patterns (migraineurs know full well there are times when certain sensory inputs are a Do Not Enter zone of high danger).  To tell you the truth, I don't mind.  Many passions and interests in my life have involved nearly manic hunting/gathering periods, followed by intense exploration, followed by thinkings, followed by time off.  (Or an overlapping progressing more or less following that pattern.)  Filmmaking, for example, is structured that way: pre-production is the hunting and gathering, production is a crazy intense exploration/application time, editing is thinking/application, and then you are done.  So done.  So quiet, after all of those people and all of that noise and all of that thinking.  Teaching, too, runs that way with me: creating and preparing a class is the hunting gathering, going through the semester and guiding/leading is the exploration (because any good teacher knows you aren't simply delivering information, you are ready to process and learn based on feedback from students, whether the learning is about the subject or your own teaching methods), and then the evaluation of the "products" the students come up with at the end of the class.

Not to flog a prone horse, but I could build similar cases for gardening and the never ending process of child rearing.  And those are all longitudinal...gardening, filmmaking, teaching, child rearing, they've all played and replayed the cycle over time.  There are other things, like my passion for cooking, that had one major cycle and has been on a slow simmer with occasional flare ups ever since, or my interest in antiques, or or or...a whole slew of stuff that involved One Big Dance and has since simply been folded into the repertoire, revisited from time to time.

I'll figure out how to categorize my music playing over this paradigm later.

So while the third thing I listed, budget, is an external reality that affects purchased acquisitions, it is really just that:  An external factor.  Sure, if I had a more generous budget...which means at times simply having a budget for it...I'd probably acquire more perfume things.  More splits, more venerated discontinueds, more wacky explorations into the unknown.  But the fact of the matter is, I'd build a back catalogue.  I already have one of a sort; it's not nearly as extensive as what some of us perfume people have amassed, but I'd be deceitful if I didn't acknowledge that the typical consumer would check out what I could sniff at any given moment and cock their head sideways and adopt one or more looks from a list that includes incredulous, suspicious, pitying, evaluative, and pondering intervention.

Who knew there would be a day when I use my piles of books as a shield, a diversion, a way to deflect possible condemnation?  As if there are more respectable things to hunt and gather...which to be honest, I think there are, in a public perception sense...I mean, folks reveal their libraries, their recorded music collection, their Lladro figurines, their orchids.  Funny, isn't it, that in some households, Beanie Babies went on proud display, but meanwhile you'd have to dig around to find my Intoxification, my back up bottle of Black Cashmere, my boxes of splits and decants?

But I digress.  Somewhat.

And somehow, I wanted to get to Parfumerie Generale Aomassai.

Right!  So, I've been on a triple threat smelling/purchasing/thinking hiatus.  Mmmmm...let me clarify the thinking part.  I've not been thinking about perfume on the "smells like" level for a few weeks.  Not directly, not metaphorically.  I've been thinking about perfume occasionally, and wearing it occasionally, but not actively, if that makes sense.  Not with the heightened consciousness of taking in something new, not with the extra awareness I often like to apply to an "old friend" to see if things are the same or changed in our relationship.  So I've been low on perfume reviews.  (What?  What's that chuckling??  Oh, right; I'm never much one for a straight up review.  But they did used to happen more regularly.)

A couple of days ago, I got my first "new" scents in over two months.  (What?  What's that chuckling? A non-perfume person happens to be reading, and that strikes them as a somewhat silly sentence?  Yes, I understand.  But this is the world of perfume.  Try to imagine yourself without a new book, a new movie, or heck, a new foodstuff, or a fresh skein of yarn, to explore for nearly a whole meteorological season.  It's kind of like that.  Non-tragic, but notable.)  Splits of Parfumerie Generale Aomassai, Eau d'Italie Baume de Doge, and Caron Coup de Fouet.

I can nutshell the second and third for the moment:  Coup de Fouet, the edc version of Poivre, is just how I like a carnation delivered:  spicy, with this case the depth is provided by a woody creamy base, but being an edc, not a dense chewy one.  Early in the wearing it reminds me a bit of an old chewing gum--Beeman's? the clove gum? something on my grandfather's desk.  Anyway, a nice way to blend light delivery with serious notes.

Flowers from Sicily, found on James Hull's Italy Photo Blog
Baume de Doge also takes me to something food-related, but in this case, a fine execution of what on the surface would be a simple cake.  I have to go for cake and not cookie because it is not dense like's lighter, airer, like something that would have "crumb"...but still has enough density that I don't want to go to cocktails.  Though come to think of it, I'd like a cocktail version of this on a warm spring day.  BUT (getting back on track), the cake I'm thinking of is a vanilla with orange zest and a shot of Fiori di Sicilia.  The sprayer is broken on my decant, and I need to fix that in order to see if I get more development like Kevin at NST does.  I'll come back.

But the whomper here, the magic morpher that entered my life just as I was thinking "hey, I haven't met a good morpher in a while"--which I happened to think while wearing my beloved Chamade during the period of not thinking, one of the uber-morphers in my playbook--the crazy morphing something from Parfumerie General, Aomassai.  

Unlike Chamade, which is pretty and then stunningly beautiful, Aomassai is intriguing but difficult, then nearly ugly, then a small fugue of those two plus a third, kindly smell personality.  The burnt caramel opening is one of those things that triggers the "check the oven!" danger reflex, but also pulls me in to sniff it again.  And again.  Is it burnt badly or not?  Then some chocolate thing, not sweet, starts weaving through. Then sweet somewhat threatens, then the not sweet chocolate tones it down, then you worry about calling the fire department again.

And that's just the first round.

Then you get placed in some sort of grass hut, it's kind of damp, and you're pretty sure it's started to molder.  It's interesting, but like the first round, you don't know that you really want to be here.  In fact, you start realizing that for all the challenges of the first round, this second act could possibly suffocate you if this is going to be where you are left.  Because you might dare visit that grass hut, you might wear that wet basket on your head, but you would never plan on carrying through the rest of the day that way.

For me, thankfully, then comes a breath of air.  Of course, whatever was cooking in the oven comes wafting back through (it was at this point I realized I maybe had smelled burnt hazelnuts earlier on, which is a horrible smell, btw, but never came fully through), but at this point, it's more than okay.  And, if you are patient and wait for it, you'll live through a fugue of where you've been and what is coming and then finally settle in a zone that is comfort scent.  Yes, intelligent, intriguing comfort scent, perhaps held cozy all the more so for the earlier tussling.  Now the caramel is just toasted, but has depth from the spices, the cocoa, the wood...and the tussling.

So there you have it.  I've been on a perfume hiatus, and actually still kind of feel like I'm yawning and stretching and getting ready for whatever is coming next.  But then I blindsided you (and myself) with a trio of new smells.

You go deep, you come out.  Cycles.

first photo is author's own
fiori di sicilia from the King Arthur online catalog

Check out Wikipedia's disambiguation page on Morphology -- linguistics, astronomy, math, rivers, more.  It's a fun launching pad for hunting and gathering.   Food for thought in terms of how things change.  And a bit of a chuckle...would that I could disambiguate myself...  


Ines said...

You know, many of your posts leave me wondering if you lose readers somewhere around the half. :) And I don't mean that in a bad way, it just seems to me people are having shorter and shorter attention spans and those don't work here.
Which is why I always leave your posts with a smile on my face - I've been on a ride that I had no idea where it was going to take me, and then half-way through, having finally gotten an idea of a destination, I end up someplace else. :)
I'm glad you're trying new stuff. And I seem to need to get re-acquianted wit Aomassai.

Josephine said...

Interesting comment by Ines. You know all about my short attention span, so before I visit a new post, I make sure I can commit my mind to the process. Even then, I sometimes want to jump ship at the mid point, but know that the second half is always worth the read.

Embarrassing, but true.

Having said that, I love the way you handled the issue of morphing and the different stages of pursuit. Reflecting and taking a break are very important aspects of any interest. Full speed ahead at all times lacks both nuance and insight. One must think about what has been done, ponder its value and apply that information towards...morphing. At least, I must do this.

Your blog, and your voice, are both unique and brilliant - it's a pleasure to follow.

Heidi said...

Regarding the two comments above...I'm a new reader, and I've already learned that reading this blog requires a little extra focus. AND that it is well worth it! ScentSelf, I agree with you about Aomassai. What an interesting beast, no? I'm curious... how do you compare Coup de Fouet to Poivre? I love Poivre and have not tried the CdF.

ScentScelf said...

Ines, I get it. :) I'm kinda digging finding these comments here this morning, actually... Josephine and Heidi picking up the theme, too. You'll note that more than once I have said in a post something like "if you're still with me..." (or "but I digress"), and while that is in some ways self-deprecating, it's also intended to be a conscious recognition that I've hit another fork in the road.

I've appreciated that you've noted more than once you are willing to follow the whole path because you have learned it will come together. (And honestly, have breathed a sigh of relief that it DID come together as I had thought. ;) )

I recognize this post has the added challenge that there is a halfway break/twist right at about the spot where many a typical blog-length post would end. And then there's the whole three perfumes in one post thing...what's she doing there? That's not typical Notes From the Ledge. But when it evolved that way, I realized it matched the number of stages of Aomassai, which was the morpher of the day, and that the abrupt shift in the middle, kind of matched Aomassi's abrupt shift, so I could share my thoughts on cycles and patterns AND take a look at there's a thematic no perfume / perfume shift, too, which reflects my process as discussed... layers in layers...what's that? thinking too much???

As for trying new stuff: I wrote this yesterday, then went on a sniffing bender. I had excellent company, which I expect I shall write about sometime soon. The worm has definitely turned. The weather might not yet say spring, but my nose has certainly started a new season. I'm enjoying reading about your new sniffs, btw.

ScentScelf said...


Thank you for the very kind words...and thanks also for deciding to come by (when ready)!

I am going to confess {lowers voice, invites Josephine closer} after all that about fallow fields, lying low, allowing time to process, etc etc etc. -- which I am a passionate believer in -- I think I just fell headfirst into a hunting & gathering period. Also known as Manic Session of Sniffery. I think I had wondered if I would ever do that again. I now also wonder if perhaps the writing about it was a way to clear the path to opening the floodgates one more time.

It is always a pleasure when you stop by.

ScentScelf said...


I need to find my bitty vial of Poivre...I *think* I have one from early in the recollection is that what is happening in Coup de Fouet is a classic edc rendition of a thicker version. In this case, Caron style, so that in the Poivre, the base is more present and it wears densely, whereas the Coup de Fouet lifts and separates, making it waft higher in my nose and in the air, emphasis on the space between the notes, not much grounding.

Though as I review that, it sounds like Coup de Fouet is the American actress re-do of Anna Magnani. ;)

Thank you for the kind words as well.

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