Upward and onward in uncertain times

Casa Milà
Casa Milà



Having recently immortalized three of my favorite raw materials in perfumery—rose, sandalwood, and tonka—by way of iambic tetrameter in my Perfumed Alphabet series one after another, I’m now skipping U. I don’t even know any ingredients beginning with U, and a search yielded only umbu-cajá (taperebá) with no description. Upon further investigation, I learned that it’s a fruit also known as hog plum and native to the tropical Americas. Maybe one day I’ll get to try it.


As different regions are cautiously reopening in phases, I’m not sure whether the collective metronome is ticking more, or less, in sync as weeks go by. Last week was pretty blah for me, with dreary weather on the East Coast conducive to noticeably decreased motivation and productivity, which fomented increased background anxiety—resulting in getting very little done and not feeling restful. At the same time, I struggled to focus on any one thing because I was constantly distracted thinking about the next thing I wanted to do. One afternoon I found myself dialed into 2 separate virtual happy hours simultaneously, with my mic on mute for both—how bizarre is that?

Another bizarre thing is that some supermarkets, while enforcing social distancing, disinfecting carts and baskets, having their staff wear masks and gloves—still require customers to sign the screen on credit card machines. I don’t see them disinfecting those fomites after each person!


The week’s perfumes were mostly sourced from my purgatory of samples that I didn’t like enough to have worn by now or dislike enough to have relegated to a donation pile by now.

  • Atelier Cologne Sous le toit de Paris: violet, bergamot, and leather accord—to me it’s very linear, with the green-velvety violet like an invisible shawl on me all day.
  • Jo Malone 154: bergamot, grapefruit, mandarin orange; lavender, basil, nutmeg; patchouli, vetiver, musk, and vanilla—I can’t discern all these notes, but to me it was quite spicy and then sharp, probably from the vetiver. It felt distinctly “masculine” to me even though I don’t subscribe to gender in perfume.
  • Tauer Perfumes Incense Rosé: frankincense, rose, citrus, and dark balsamic resins—it has a pleasant, floral-citrus-spicy opening, and the rose lasts, but mostly I smelled like incense walking around.
  • Atelier Cologne Rose Anonyme: bergamot, ginger, Turkish rose, opoponax, agarwood (oud), patchouli, papyrus, and benzoin—I didn’t like this one when I first smelled it in a store, after a long day of sniffing (this was over a year ago… how time flies!), as the rose felt heavy and “dirty.” However, it’s grown on me—I’m appreciating the depth more, and feeling reassured by the ever-present citrus component. Maybe the opoponax is whispering to me.


Fortunately, the weekend turned gorgeous and we went for a long walk, inhaling newly mown grass, fresh mulch and soil, and listened to the chorus of frogs who insist on being heard and not seen. I also made some progress on the ukulele—I’ve developed some legit calluses on the fingertips of my fretting hand—and I’m quite happy about that.

Upward and onward…






5 thoughts on “Upward and onward in uncertain times

  1. I looked at the picture, quickly read “Casa mia” and started wondering where on East Coast there are buildings that look so much as Gaudi buildings I saw in Barcelona… 🙂

    None of your castaways are among my favorites either (surprisingly, I tried them all).

    I also keep going from my older samples trying to make a final determination if they should stay or go. Most will be either finished or passed on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, I wish we had buildings like that!
      I guess the more firm favorites we already have, the harder it gets to start liking ones that didn’t make a strong first impression…

      Liked by 1 person

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