Monday, August 20, 2007

Tuckered Out In Bleue

I took this picture last Saturday, and didn't need to tint it blue, or mess around with it in any way. It feels like the quintessential summer photo, and tells me that now is the time to get the most out of what is left of summertime.

The air came laden with the fragrance it caught upon its way, and the bees, upborne upon its scented breath, hummed forth their drowsy satisfaction as they floated by. (Charles Dickens: The Old Curiosity Shop)

From sunlight to candlelight. Chedwick is ready to relax and take a little break.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Planet Waves , Astral Weeks

I always liked the names of these two albums. I don't know what Planet Waves is supposed to mean, maybe something to do with energy or sound waves?

I would guess that Van Morrison was saying something like "Dude, I was astral projecting for weeks..." It was 1968 after all. The Planet Waves cover looks like some artwork done by Bob himself, while the Astral Weeks cover is yet another "introspective Van" photo. (Van was aways introspective after one of his many flip-outs.)

Morrison's birthday is coming up. (He was born George I. Morrison, August 31st, 1945, in Belfast, Northern Ireland.)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Luck of The Iris

About 20 minutes after the dreaded UPS man has left, Chedwick comes out of hiding and goes to the window to stare out and mumble things like "Yeah, you'd better be gone!"

This stuff smells like someplace nice, though. Someplace not far from the Bluestack Mountains, where violets, moss, wild strawberries, and ferns grow alongside little streams.

Professor Chedwick explains:
"It is the root (rhizome) of the iris that are used in perfumery, and it smells very much like violets. The rhizomes are distilled into a thick oily paste called iris butter."

Ysatis Iris:
Head Notes: Iris, Clove, Citrus
Heart Notes: Iris, Rose, Jasmine,
Base Notes: Amber, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Iris, Rum

Friday, August 17, 2007

Bridge of Sighs

I took this picture of our supposedly crumbling bridge from the train station. This is a 4.8 mile long cantilever and truss style bridge which took over 3 years to build and opened just before Christmas of 1955. I suppose that eventually they will get around to building a new bridge.

Bob predicted that the levees would break, which makes me wonder what he'd say about this bridge.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Candy Man

I saw my first Halloween candy display earlier this week. (On Tuesday to be precise.) I walked into the supermarket and there were plastic jack-o-lanterns and piles of those giant sized bags of Halloween candies--the mini Mounds bars and tiny boxes of Good n' Plenty, Candy Corn and so forth. The bags had cartoon images of witches and ghosts on them and a couple of women were slowly circling this display with what looked like intent to buy. Outside it was 89 degrees and, um, mid-August. I don't care anymore. Last September I stopped caring about this anti-calendar weirdness when I watched a man decorate a Christmas Tree in Lord & Taylor. A Whole Christmas Village was going up, and it was September. I gave up caring right then and there. I don't care what time it is, what month it is, what holidays are coming up. I'm going to ignore those and make up my own holidays from now on!

Just let me grab a caramel and I'll be on my way.

"Outside of the gates the trucks were unloadin',
The weather was hot, a-nearly 90 degrees.
The man standin' next to me, his head was exploding,
Well, I was prayin' the pieces wouldn't fall on me."
~Bob Dylan

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

How To Weave a Parasol

You really want me to tell you how to weave a parasol? I ate the last three parasols that I wove.

I wanted to award a prize to Visitor Number 4,000 to my blog, but it was someone from Fort Wayne, Indiana looking for instructions on how to weave a parasol. They stayed for less than half a minute! Had they left a comment, they could have won a prize!

The best parasols are woven out of black licorice. Everybody knows that!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Bob Dylan Samples 'Whisper'

And says: "It's an amusing little 'fume, with a quiet but complex personality."

Lucien Lelong produced many, many perfumes, and was perhaps the first master of gimmicky packaging. Lucien also named some perfumes after letters of the alphabet for awhile (trying to compete with Chanel's numbering system which had worked so well for them.) He abandoned the simple elegant bottles, and began naming scents after dessert items, musical instruments, or whatever would suit a packaging idea. His perfumes sold well, becoming collectibles for some, and if you make enough perfumes, eventually one or two will stand out and become wildly popular. Possibly the only truly big seller Lelong had in his lifetime was a perfume called Indiscret (said by some who wore it to be vaguely reminiscent of Shalimar.) While Lucien was not a clothing designer himself, he ran a good design house and had great personal flair when it came to fashion. He worked through his designers, and had a definite trademark "look." His father had been in the textile trade and his mother had a real eye for fashion, but his true love it seemed was perfumery.
Here is a partial list of Lelong perfumes.
Tailspin (still available)
Abra Ca Dabra
Round Trip
Big Moment
Double Life
High Time
Robin Hood (for Men)

and there was Ting-a-Ling, which was packaged with bells. Everything old is new again, too many scents, too much cutesy packaging, quantity wins over quality when a trend is going full-force. Back in the 1920's, 30's and 40's people were pushing the fad of the moment and collecting collectibles just as they do today.

By the 1950's Lucien was in poor health, and when he passed on to that great perfumery in the sky, his third wife married the ex- husband of the wonderful French writer, Colette.

"There are no ordinary cats."

"The endless road and the wailing of chimes,
The empty rooms where her memory is protected,
Where the angels' voices whisper to the souls of previous times."
~Bob Dylan

Sunday, August 12, 2007

More Family History

Here is another photo from my family album. My older brother Furrwick with his human companion, O'Shea. They were devoted friends--practically joined at the hip, so to speak.

Although it looks very old-timey, this picture was taken in the early 1960's. O'Shea had worked very hard to restore this antique car and took Furrwick for lovely drives around Brooklyn, NY. People would rush down the street to look at the cool old car and chat with the somewhat shy cats inside. It was a good way for them to get out and meet people.

They didn't get to enjoy their car for very long, because one night, another human, known as 'drunken brother-in-law' fell alseep in the antique while chain smoking cigarettes. Drunken Brother-in-law leapt out of the burning vehicle and rolled on the ground to de-flame himself, but the car was a complete loss. Furrwick and his human companion never drank or smoked, so they felt somewhat bitter that their car was destroyed due to these vices.

Like too many human family stories, this one ends with drunken brother-in-law continuing to sponge off of his family, wrecking every holiday gathering (by being violent or by just showing up and passing out face down in the mashed potatoes) while everyone acted normal and pretended everything was fine and dandy.

Friday, August 10, 2007


Rain kept us indoors for the better part of today, where we read stories, and Portable Hair Dryer Girl hosted a little tea party. We also watched the old scary-funny Vincent Price film, "The Tingler". Which was superb.

We read selections from "The Outermost House" by Henry Beston. If you like nature writing, this is a true classic. We read a lot of nature writing, so if you have any titles to share, please do.

Beston spends a year alone in a tiny cottage on a remote beach in 1926. Close to the end of the book he writes:

"Had I room in this book, I would like to write a whole chapter on the sense of smell, for all my life long I have had of that sense an individual enjoyment. To my mind, we live too completely by the eye. I like a good smell - the smell of a freshly ploughed field on a warm morning after a night of April rain, the clovelike aroma of our wild Cape Cod pinks, the morning perfume of lilacs showery with dew, the good reek of hot salt grass and low tide blowing from these meadows on summer afternoons."

The book is filled with a wonder and respect for sea, sky, wind and sand. There are migrating birds, various animals, and a dramatic shipwreck. I love his winter descriptions of the beach.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Monsieur Guerlain et Moi

Those of you who know me, know that in my younger days I left NYC for awhile and worked with some very famous perfumers in France. It was my pleasure to sniff out various single notes and let the perfumer blend them however he wished to. Here I am with my best pal, Jean-Paul Guerlain. This picture was taken early on in the process, and Jean-Paul used to tease me a bit by waving test strips around and hiding one behind the scent bottles. Then we'd work for a short while, maybe get an "idea" about some future fragrance, then we'd go have a leisurely three hour lunch followed by a catnap. I learned so much from this wonderful man. He always calls me "Monsieur Dee Shedweek" and I call him "JP-Baby." Which just cracks him up. We joke around a lot, and keep in touch, even though we're both semi-retired. He still has an office on the Champs Elysees, and I have my part-time spokesmodel gig.

A sad note:
In the summer of 1998 Jean-Paul was shot by burglars who entered his home and terrorized his family, and I was not suprised to hear he had put himself in harm's way to protect others. He had surgery, and recovered very quickly, but I don't recall if they ever caught any of the ten or so robbers.

Among his creations: Parure in 1975 ( in homage to his mother.) Nahema in 1979, Jardins de Bagatelle in 1983, Derby in 1985, Samsara in 1989, Champs Elysees in 1996. (My first experience with Samsara was when a stunning blonde girl who resembled Grace Kelly wore it on her wedding day. It suited her perfectly.)

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Bob Dylan's Favorite Cat

I used to spend a lot more time with Bob when we were both younger, just before I started working in the perfume biz. Here we are rolling a tire around on the street back when we had the time to just act silly and have fun. Now he's on the road, which is a real grind, and I've got the perfume gig, and we don't cross each other's paths as often as we did in the old days. A few days after this photo was taken, I took Bob's advice and moved to Paris to pursue my perfumed dreams.

"Ah get born, keep warm
Short pants, romance, learn to dance
Get dressed, get blessed
Try to be a success..."
~Bob Dylan

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Sugar Baby

Chedwick was happy to find a bottle of Demeter's "Sugar Cane."
We just happened to have a can of sugar cane in the cupboard, so we opened it up to compare it to the perfume. Demeter's scent is wonderfully sugary, without any of the slightly canned feeling we got from the canned stuff. Being all scientific and reasearchy, Chedwick chewed on the cane, sniffed it, swallowed enough sugar cane juice to get that sugar-high headache, spritzed the perfume, and it was a match. The closest comparison he can offer is the cane and perfume both have a sort of cream soda-ish character. Effervescent and good, but light. Still, an hour later Demeter's Sugar Cane scent was still 100% on the fur and smelled warm and sugary-good. This one is a keeper.

Chedwick, who has avoided sugar for years, says: "Better to wear Sugar Cane than eat it, most definitely!"

"Sugar Baby, get on down the line
You ain't got no sense, no how
You went years without me
Might as well keep going now."

~Bob Dylan

Monday, August 6, 2007

While I Was Out

While I was away, I had peace and tranquility, and I was sure, thanks to the Library System, that I would be able to update my blog and read blogs in an air conditioned library. I was so wrong.

Remember when I said that there is "No TV" in my mountain retreat? What I really meant is that all programming comes out of Scranton, Pennsylvania. Scranton is the nearest big city. Besides the local Scranton news, and "Eye on Scranton" type programs, we also get entertainment like "Pennsylvania Polka." This show seems to last for hours and hours and hours. Once I have spotted the woman dancing with her mother-in-law, and the teenaged boy who looks like he wants to die, I am satisified and ready to change the channel. Other choices include "Outdoor Life" and "Hunting & Fishing". Last Sunday there was a pelt auction on one of the few available stations. Exotic furs were shown, with little legs dangling. On another station a woman cooked up "wild game recipes." Groundhog tastes better than squirrel, so I am told. I switched back to the pelt auction to see a man proudly displaying a wolverine pelt from Michigan. There was also a documentary on anthracite coal, which I have seen many times over the years.

This kind of programming insures that I will only watch maybe 7-9 minutes of Television per day while standing in front of the set. Then you turn it off and go outside. Outside everything is pretty, so that is a big plus. There is no noise at all, except for the sound of the wind in the trees and some birdsong. Some people find this boring, but it feels like bliss to me, because it invites total relaxation without having to work at it in any way. Kind of a country nirvana. Sometimes I feel I am inside Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony when I am walking around.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Tangled Up In Morning

"Full many a glorious morning have I seen flatter the mountaintops with sovereign eye,
Kissing with golden face the meadows green, Gilding pale streams with heavenly alchemy."
~ William ShakespeareThere was one very foggy morning in The Catskills last week, but most mornings gave me glorious views.

One morning a new friend stopped by. She got into the habit of hovering right by my face as if to say "I want to know you better." I looked up Ruby Throated Hummingbirds in a book and discovered that single mom hummingbirds raise the babies. They need nectar for energy, but they eat spiders and bugs too.

Every morning was a new adventure. Without internet access, TV, or any desire to hang out in bars all day, I found myself hiking, doing some fun projects, taking sneaky pictures of Hasidic Holy Dudes, riding horses, picking and eating fresh berries--no additives can improve the taste of a fully ripe blackberry au naturel! And they were everywhere this year thanks to a couple of very, very wet years following a long drought in the mountains.

"I long to see you in the morning light."
~ Bob Dylan