Monday, April 25, 2011

Sweeping generalizations

I started my day by sweeping.  Outside.  An activity which here in America was often depicted as the bailiwick of immigrant women who had trouble speaking English and a penchant for wearing housecoats all day.

There is a threat of rain, and I figured it would be a good idea to gather me maple buds while I may, before they were all washed toward the patio drain, leading to a clog and the creation of a sort of wading pool inhabited by metal furniture and a firepit.

I also enjoy being outside.  It is spring, for realz.  A chance to breathe fresh air, listen to the birds, redirect the energies I would rather be putting into the garden (it is still EARLY spring around here).  And, quite frankly, a chance to avoid sitting syndrome, a malady to which I fear I have become quite prone in this the most recent act of my life.

So I swept.  I swept, and I felt a callous building.  I swept, and I thought.  I swept, and a pile slowly gathered.  I thought about big ideas, about the second half of life.  I swept.  I thought about...nothing.  I swept, and I sniffed Ineke's Field Notes from Paris on my wrist.  I swept.  And I swept.  And I swept.

And I came up with an idea for a post.

Care to come sit?

Why Field Notes From Paris this morning?  Because a friend sent it to me, as an expression of something she thought I might like.  Which made me eyeball Field Notes in a different light.  "Ah, creature; someone else knows you, and based on what we've gleaned of each other's nose preferences, thinks I would, too.  Hmmm."  Now I had stereoscopic vision:  in the one frame, an assembly of my previous impressions, which were a mix of yes no intrigued ultimately not worth a full bottle.  In the other frame, a swirling of potential reasons why the matchmaking review set me up on a date with this one.

Shhwwwipsh.  Shhwwwipsh.  Shht sssht.  Shhwwwwwwipsh.

I swept.  I sniffed the Ineke on my wrist.  I thought about activities that don't bring us information or data to process, "simple tasks."  The kind of thing that in years past I might have done to music.  Aha!  To music!  Could I be providing my mind with background noise, a low demand but still processable track to attend to while gathering ground bits from various locations and assembling them in one area?  Was "listening to" a scent akin to listening to...a symphony?  a pop tune?  a concerto?  Perdido, as performed at the Newport Jazz Festival?  Perdido, as performed to meet the time constraints of a recording?  Was it right to limit it to one tune?  But it had to be, right, because one perfume was but one presentation, even if it had multiple acts in its development?  Is a symphony to easy, too snooty an approach to thinking of multiple acts?  Maybe a mix tape is more appropriate?

The answer, of course, was "all of the above."  Depending on the scent.

What I had on my wrist was Ineke Field Notes in Paris.

Instead of making a musical connection, my brain headed to the language of 'fume.  And not in a thoughtful way, either.  "Masculine," said the voice in my head.  Sssssht.  Sssssht.  SHHWIPSH.

Well, drat.  So much for deep insight.  But, yeah, once I process the gentle tobacco that first hits me, the whole thing seems rather...linear.  Pleasant, mind you.  But linear.  Like sitting alongside a channel to have a beverage in a tight space.  The view is pleasant enough, and you are enjoying yourself.  Your eyes feel happy.  But you are essentially drinking one thing, and you cannot adjust the parameters of your sliver of a view.  With the exception of the occasional glint of light (something does sparkle in FNFP every now and then--citrus?--and occasionally something else flits by), what you have is...that.

Shhwwwwipsssh.  Shht.  It is nice, mind you, that.  There's an advantage in calming down monkey mind.   Shhhwwipsssh.   Shhhwipppssssh.

Later, after I came inside, and grabbed my camera so I could grab a picture to illustrate the post, and ran for the phone which was ringing, and reintroduced a little noise to my meditation, I heard the word "masculine" cross my brain again.  And I thought "Aha!  Caron masculine...yes!  Third Man!!"  And made note of the moment so I would write about it, and ran to gather my decant bottle of 3º Homme that another friend sent me back at the start of my descent, spritzed the opposite wrist the the nominative* masculine, and came back to my computer.  With relief, I realized I am not crazy.  They are not the same, this Field Notes and this Man Who Came After One and Two, but they both smoke.  They both roll in a flower.  The both don't play out so much as sit with you, but in a playful mood.

They do kinda smell the same, in other words, and in the same way.  The Caron is sweeter.  I'd pick Ineke for warmer weather, if choosing between the two, because the Caron sweetness might be to cloying in heat and humidity.

As you can see, I've gone from empty mind to busy brain all of a morning, and we're not halfway to noon yet.  But I needed that time with the broom as much as I relished the firings of the brain as it sought new ways to say "this reminds me of...".

Which, in the way of a sweeping generalization that says "these scents are masculines," is a metaphorically generalizing way of saying "Sorry I've been gone, but I needed that."

Too much input.  Too much sitput.

Not that anything is fixed.  But I think I've figured out a way to navigate the rhythms of the current set of stuff.

The nice thing about the Ineke is that it reflects that idea of stasis and change all at once.  Modestly.

Very modestly.  But there.



Musette said...

I absolutely LOVED this post and am so with you on the mindlessness of sweeping - it's a very goooood mindlessness. What is it about the broom across the pavement/whatever that just empties out the ol' brain pan?

Wearing Parure today - thought of you. Not because you love Parure but because you love Chamade and since I am NOT sweeping my mind is leaping in different, connected/disconnected directions!

Glad to see you're back.

xo A

Vanessa said...

You have made me suddenly ashamed of all the impudent weeds growing in our beds (flowerbeds, in case that wasn't quite clear) and between the paving slabs. I could urgently do with some mindless physical activity of a broadly gardening nature, not just because I also lean towards too much sitputting, but because I also suffer from an unquiet mind. The gentle ssswwwippffth (how does it go exactly?) sounds like just the ticket. And I know what my other half would say if I got the broom out - can I just do the garage while I am there...?

I do enjoy detecting similarities between perfumes - there is a satisfaction in that light bulb moment. Never spotted this one with The Third Man, but as the woman who truffle hunted Dans Tes Bras so successfully, I will defer to you here! : - )

ScentScelf said...


::smiles:: Yes, an emptying out of the brain pan. Or at least a potholder so you don't get burned and can wait out the Jiffy Popping.

Followed by an out loud laugh (look, I have the resources to spell out things now!) at the Parure reminding you of me. I get it! I do love Chamade! They are both Guerlain! We do love each of our Guerlain somethings! :)

Good to be back. Thanks.

ScentScelf said...


I'm chuckling because I had to go back to the phrase "broadly gardening nature" more than once and assure myself it did not directly refer to the idea of "sitput" and an expanding expanse of sit place. Which I of course have exited winter with and am also hoping this new balance helps address.

Which means I started with a digression. Guess I *am* back. Peaceful, but typical.

On a not really cold pretending to be the day before a warm day, spritz Third Man. See if you don't see it then. I dunno...maybe because my brain thought it first, it convinced my nose it was right. Not a dupe, mind you, just...similar.

If you do get carried away with that broom and find that yourself garage-attending, feel free to sweep this way. Somehow, my sssswwipssshing meditations were self-serving enough that they kept me outside. The garage here could use some attention, too. :)

Anonymous said...

An expanding sitput sit place!

I overheard Robbie Williams singing "Supreme" on the radio; the lyric asked "Do you leave dents where you sit? Are you getting on a bit?", and I looked back at the seat cushion and laughed aloud on seeing the dent.

Dearie me.

Nice to see you.

cheerio, Anna in Edinburgh

ScentScelf said...

Anna! Nice to see you, too.

Oh, dear. I foresee the next time somebody asks me if I have completed a project: I shall respond, "No, but I've put a dent in it." And then dissolve into giggles.

In fact, I am already giggling a bit. :)

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed this post very, very much.

I love mowing the yard for a similar reason: no one's bugging me, I'm getting something done, but my brain can be fairly disengaged from what I'm doing and go wandering off on its own. I love that. Of course, I don't escape the sitting down; the yard is about an acre and a half - what were we thinking? - and cutting the grass requires about two hours, on average, on the riding mower. But still.

And these days, I'm trying to spend "thought time" working on the book - but it tends to be pretty focused: here's my story arc, here are the climaxes, here are the chapter-ending cliffhangers, what am I missing, where are the holes, gotta patch 'em. Mowing time is dreamtime.

ScentScelf said...


Yes, the lawn mowing could do it. With the added benefit of that cut grass smell, which despite the efforts of the envirnomentalist in me, I do enjoy. Yeah, at over an acre, I can see the riding mower advantage.

(The environmentalist in me is saying something about goats and grazing animals, but the cut grass fan is saying "shut up" with words like "manure.")

Hooray for book! Though yes, the crafting of novel narrative does require a specific kind of discipline that is not about letting go. (Even, I suspect, if you are a free writing Gertrude Stein.) Good luck.

And enjoy that mindless grass.