July 31, 2009:

1. Fracas pure parfum – from my husband, who has NEVER complimented me on it when I wear it in the eau de parfum concentration, but, wow, he loved this! 

2. Creed Fleurs de Bulgarie – a big surprise, as I thought I was one of maybe only two people in the world who love this simple scent (a soapy rose and ambergris number, mainly) – but I wore it to watch a girls’ softball game on a hot afternoon and got, not one, but three compliments from the moms in the bleachers. 

3. Amouage Jubilation 25 – from my sister (sure, I’d love to tell you it was from some handsome stranger that I met on an airplane…but no, my lovely sister walked in the house when I was washing dishes and wanted to know what I had on. I think my perfume bug has bit her). 

Last 3 books read… 

1. Olive Kitteridge – Elizabeth Strout’s novel-in-stories explores small-town lives in a way that reminds us that there is nothing small about the business of living, even in a quiet little place like fictional Crosby, Maine. Strout’s characters (a good number of them) are men and women of a certain age—late middle age or older—which is a viewpoint you don’t come across in novels too often.  My favorite story in the collection is about a redheaded piano player named Angie O’Meara, who for years has been playing a four-nights-a-week gig at a seaside cocktail lounge—the music seeming to flow effortlessly as she winks at the bar’s regular customers and launches into their favorite tunes, though secretly she is haunted by stage fright and other sad attachments.

2. Outliers: The Story of Success – by Malcolm Gladwell, a staff writer for The New Yorker. A rather unique social psychology book that debunks our myths about extremely successful people (like Bill Gates or The Beatles) and shows us the hidden advantages and often highly unusual circumstances that catapulted them to power, fame and fortune. Along the way, Gladwell uncovers patterns that could be employed by society as a whole, as well as individuals, to help more people become successful.  (One thing he doesn’t debunk or discount is our understanding that successful people work damn hard at what they do: he has a chapter devoted to the “10,000-Hour Rule”—which is the number of hours of practice required to achieve a level of mastery and expertise in anything, according to research studies.) 

3. Quite a Year for Plums by Bailey White – another novel-in-stories about small-town characters, only this one is full of humor and whimsy and all the eccentricities that Southern characters are known for. (The novel is set in south Georgia.) I’ve owned this book for years and usually re-read it every summer because it’s breezy and quirky and charming—and because I always see myself in one of the characters, a wildlife artist named Della, a rather skittish woman who has a fondness for chickens (as I do) and a penchant for throwing things out (yup, me too!), decluttering her little house when her art isn’t going well.  That’s how she becomes the love interest of Roger, the town’s resident plant-pathologist and heartthrob: “It was late May, housecleaning season, when Roger fell in love with a woman at the dump.  He never saw her. He just liked the way she threw things away.” 

Best 3 things I did so far this summer…

1. Got a great haircut – it’s so easy to take care of and makes me look years younger. 

2. Went foraging for wild mushrooms – a lot of fun if you’re with someone who really knows what they’re doing!  This past week I made a torta di funghi with porcini mushrooms that smelled so earthy and good, I’m thinking I’d like some of that in a perfume, please! 

3. Planted bunches of old-fashioned scented petunias – not the frilly or the striped variety, just the delicate little blue and purple kind that look like something your grandmother grew.  A piece of wispy blue sky encapsulated in a flower, and in the evening they have a light spice-and-vanilla fragrance.  Everything about them is cheerful, and I love the gradations of color, so that within a whole pot of them you get a range that includes everything from soft hydrangea-blue to deepest periwinkle.

How is your summer going?  Fragrant and well, I hope?

Image: "Women Make Lists" by artist Joan Snyder is from Artnet.com.

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Last 3 perfumes I received compliments on….

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