Stegner has a book called The Angle of Repose. I used to misread it all the time as Angel of repose, which really makes no sense. A friend of mine insisted I read it… and I did, muttering and cursing her all the way through. Before I continue on, you must know, if you haven’t figured it out already, that I’m quite shallow. I don’t say that out of some misguided sense of humility or hoping someone will argue with me, I’ve just accepted it after many years of wishing I weren’t. A couple of decades ago, it did cross my mind that I should read more great literature and poetry, and I did try for a couple of years to cover some more highbrow literary and theatrical territory. This phase of my life coincided with the days of being a young mother, when I was also a pretentious, in sufferable twit.
As the years passed, I simply stopped fighting my shallowness and embraced it as a perfectly okay state of being. So let me save you hundreds of pages of descriptions of the West and mines from Stegner’s book and tell you what it’s about. In engineering, there is a term called the angle of repose. It refers to rock on a hillside. That as you heap it up, it keeps rolling down. You can push it back up, and it will keep rolling down, until you finally get to the angle where it will rest and stop moving downward. The book applies, beautifully, I might add, this engineering term to life, but it doesn’t happen until you are about 400 pages in and about 30 pages away from the end. When the explanation for why you have wasted a week or two of your life on this book comes, it’s done perfectly. While I’m sure it was necessary to read all those other pages, I’m still a little bitter that I did. Each of us fights our way or gets pushed uphill for much of our life, and we keep rolling back, and upwards we go, sometimes higher, sometimes not so high. All of us eventually find our angle of repose, the place where we are at rest and are not required to be more than what we are. It’s a book everyone should read by the time they turn 40. Accepting your own limitations and finding a resting place to live is essential to happiness and contentment. It’s okay to be a shallow flibbertygibbet like me as long as you try to be the best one you can be.
Having said all that, from time to time I still get pushed up the hill at more serious movies and reading. I can certainly handle it intellectually, but I’m much more interested in being entertained than challenged. Thinking deep thoughts occupied me for the first 30 years of my life, and I’m quite weary of my own thoughts. This also happened during the year I spent in therapy many, many years ago. About six months in, I was just tired of hearing myself talk about myself, so we spent the next 3-4 months talking about religion and politics, etc., until it occurred to me I could get good conversation from my friends for the price of a beer instead of $100 an hour.
So when I see a serious movie or book that does it for me, you’ll know that it is serious while also being compelling. Into Great Silence is one of those. It follows Carthusian monks at work, play, sleep, prayer. Whether you are religious won’t matter. It is the silence and spareness of this movie that haunts you. It is gorgeously filmed, no background music save for the wonderful chanting, no voiceovers, no entertainment, no laugh tracks, no jokes. It is elegant in its simplicity and surprisingly compelling to watch, even with no plot to follow except… these are lives of simplicity and prayer, and there have been hundreds or thousands of lives that have done this same thing in this same place for 900 years.
Vero Profumo Onda and Guerlain Djedi are almost a dead-on match, as Carmencanada told me more than once. So for anyone who was looking for Djedi and not wanting to fork over the $800 and up per bottle that it’s been going for on eBay, just head on over to Vero Profumo and pick up a bottle of the parfum for $230 for 1/2 ounce. Vetiver, ginger, coriander and mace are the notes in Onda. There are some differences. Djedi goes off with a little greenish leather, and Onda settles into a spicy, more earthy leather, warmer. Both great scents. Now if we could just get Vero or Andy to work on making us something like Iris Gris? There are two other perfumes in the line, which I hope to do a review on next week.
A note that all of these were sampled by spraying. I have noted frequently that whether you spray or dab does sometimes make a big difference in how you perceive the scent. Not sure why, but I know it is true. Things I have hated dabbed, I loved sprayed, and vice versa. sometimes it’s worth getting those little PUR sprayers and throwing a sample you’re not sure of in there. I put all my dabbing samples in the sprayers now.
Christian Dior’s La Collection Particuliere N°8 is described as a “velvet violet, a sophisticated iris, a revery, a burst of laughing.” That’s actually not a bad description. It is as smooth as silk, with a little rooty, dough-like iris frollicking through it. It’s not too sweet, and it’s not too dry. The longer this dries down, it starts to remind me a bit of Iris Gris. IG is sweeter, but in the drydown there is a feel that is similiar, with IG being warmer and 8 being chillier. 8 has a pastry feel to it more like Iris Ganache. Like a cross between Iris Gris and Iris Ganache. Can we just call it IG squared? Okay, I’m very smitten with this one.
Christian Dior’s La Collection Particuliere N°4 is described as “sovereign rose, a hot allspice, a journey, a garden.” This is definitely a spicy rose, along the same line as the Rosine’s Rosa Flamenca or Rose de Feu, and it starts out a little sweet, reminding me of MDCI’s Rose di Siwa, but quickly finds a more earthy quality to it. The drydown winds up very much in Lancome’s Mille et Une Rose territory.
Christian Dior’s La Collection Particuliere N°9 is described as “dazzling tuberose, creamy woods, slow nights, fireworks.” This is a buttery, slightly woody tuberose, with a hint of gardenia? Tuberose isn’t my favorite note, but this is very well done, beautiful without being overpowering, capturing tuberose without kiling me as many tuberose scents tend to. The drydown is warm and sensuous. My second favorite of the three.
So are these worth $490 per 2.5 ounce bottle? Well, I have to tell you, the presentation is pretty gorgeous – big white, heavy Dior box with the bottle inside and the beautiful, heavy sprayer over on the side, tucked under a little door tied with a ribbon – and I’d probably plunk down the cash for 8, the IG squared, which is my personal favorite of the three. The rose is really beautiful, but Rosine, Lancome and MDCI have done a beautiful rose similar to this, unless it makes some other gymnastics on other people’s skin that it does not on mine. If you just love rose, you’ll love this, but I don’t know that you’d want to pay $500 smackers for it. The tuberose is actually pretty awesome, but I’m not that much of a tuberose fan that I’d plunk down that kind of cash for it. They are all beautifully made.
But is any bottle worh $490? Unless it is vintage/rare/discontinued… no, it’s really not, unless you simply want the bottle and the experience of having all of that. Are they worth trying? Yes, definitely, you may find a love among the three, they are all easy to love. And if people could somehow easily settle who keeps the bottle in a bottle split, these would be worth having some of in your fragrance closet.
So what do Carthusian monks, The Angle of Repose, shallowness and uber-expensive perfumes have in common? Well, nothing, y’all. Told you I was shallow, and not nearly clever enough to tie all these together. But what I do have [!] is a special Christmas drawing. A sample of the Onda, each of the three Diors and each of the three new Annick Goutal Les Orientials thingies, which some of just now showed up in my mail today, whee!!! I am very much enjoying all three of them! I don’t even like amber, and Ambre Fetiche has me swooning Just let me know if you’d like to be in the drawing in comments, and I’ll post the winner on Christmas Day. It’s our way of saying thanks for being with us for another year.
Winner of the DSH and CdG Gold samples – Maria!
Winner of the Best of 2007 25 samples (which are yet to be named) – Catherine.
Congrats, and just click on the Contact Us over on the left and drop me your address so I can send you your samples!