Musings-adjacent. Ish.

Well, howdy!  It’s that time of Time, where I don’t have anything particularly pithy to say – and I certainly DO NOT have a perfume review.  I don’t really even have … musings… right now… though I guess these natterings can be considered musings.  Sorta.

This Iris.

Awhile back, Miss K gave me a very small bit of rhizome of this gorgeous butter-yellow iris.  I mention the size because a) it was teeny, maybe a 5″ single rhiz, and b) it wasn’t that long ago, maybe 4 years.  Now?  I have 3 giant stands of it, having divided it twice! in 3 years and each stand is 4.5′ in diameter.  That’s the first part of this fabulous drama.  The second?  The smell!  It’s weird, like a Bizarro World mashup of castile soap and some cheap penny candy from those little corner stores that used to be near every elementary school in the US.  It’s that plasticky-sweet, carcinogenic, Red Dye #2 smell.  Addictive.  I don’t think I could wear it as a perfume but I cannot stop huffing the actual flowers.  UPDATE: Omg.  6 hours into huffing, I finally figured it out… Bazooka bubble gum (or its vicious, lockjaw-inducing sibling, DubbleBubble), pre-reformulations (back in the 60s when nobody gave a damb about what made it so fabulous!)  This iris smells like my cheap and cheerful childhood.

This Rose


You know… in perfume rose is always a bit iffy – none of the ones that try to replicate an actual rose ever work for me (talkin’ to you, Tea Rose) and the best of the bunch (Lyric comes to mind) are skillfully interwoven with some other compelling note (for me what makes Lyric so outrageous isn’t the glorious attar – it’s that odd little hint of Play-Doh subsumed that keeps bringing my wrist back to my nose).

Then.. well, there’s actual Rose, which is a Whole ‘Nother Thang.  This time of year it’s my girl TBug (R. ‘Therese Bugnet) who steals the show.  A 1950 Rugosa, she’s got that rich, old-world Rose scent, very plummy-rose but with a flat, green center that allows the scent to be pervasive without being overpowering.  My bush is 8’x7′ and you can smell it a half block away.  To be honest, I don’t think I would want a perfume to try to replicate this glorious girl – I’m happy to just enjoy her in the coolness of mid-Spring. Besides, if you got it wrong she would wrench herself out of the ground and tear you apart, like the mangler in that Stephen King  story.

Horsing Around

So. I’m still faffing around, ramping up my dressage skills (hey, at least I didn’t decide to ramp up my ICBM-building skills, right?  😉 – we are working on trot and canter now, still in the arena and, unlike my instructor’s other students, I couldn’t care less if we ever leave the arena.  I’m just wanting to master the skills.  She’s a bit mystified by that but says I have a very good seat, so there’s that.  I’m still having to think about leading – in dog-work, it happens on the left.  Everything, from walking to IPO, is done on the left.  Leading out a horse? On the right.  I actually have to stand there, like a lima bean, and process where the hell I’m at. I get Funny Look – a lot, watching me try to get my brain to synch up (the spatial damage doesn’t help matters).  And I am still fighting the urge to drive the reins, which she finds hysterical (“hands DOWN!  You’re not on a hitch!”). But!  The one thing I cannot do gracefully?  Dismount.  Omg.  It looks like a cephalopod covered in  Elmer’s Glue and mayonnaise is trying to get off that horse. Between my cracked sacrum and the (very minor) original brain damage it’s a hot mess.  I am adamant, though – I will prevail.  We can take forever just in the service of getting off that giant horse with grace and ease.  And, yet again, she’s giving me Funny Look because who does that, right? I should be itching to riiiide! Nah.  Let’s just work in the arena and try not to laugh as I haul my ass on and off that horse for 30 mins.  No point in a graceful canter if I dismount like a glued-up cephalopod.  And.  oh!  I totally smell like hay and horse – a human Cartier Fougueuse (here’s Patty’s take on it – I haz some, too – and she’s right!). I always struggled with Fougueuse (love the hay note but that hay has a ‘sweet’ trigger for me that skews nauseating, alas) but the more I am in the stables the more I begin to ‘get’ it.

Now for something completely different!  Did you know that ‘Grammar Nazi’ (something I get called on occasion)  colloquially translates to ‘comma fucker’ in Finnish? I wonder if I can  I need to insert that into polite conversation..  I can die happy, now.  (h/t to The Bitchery for an outrageous review from whence I learned that little tidbit. Sweatergawd, I live for the reviews and comments (just like here, my darling Posse).  Poor Sweaty Larry .  Ew.  It’s possible I may stop laughing in this lifetime. Maybe.)

What I’m Actually Reading:  well!  having binged on Romance novels for that post I’m gorged-out on that genre for now – but I may be gorged-out on fiction as a whole, since I’m knee-deep in nonfiction, specifically James Hamblin’s Clean. 

It’s a fascinating, deep dive into the psychology/psychopathy of our current obsession with the notion of ‘cleanliness’ gliding from the terrifyingly filthy 14th Century (I pulled down my original paperback copy of Barbara Tuchman’s ‘A Distant Mirror’ – omg, if you are feeling put upon, living in the here and now, take a mo’ to read that book.  You will kiss 2021’s feet, warts and all) to present day, touching on bar soap, social mores, brand management, Dr Bronner’s, and a host of other interesting things .   I am intrigued by the research that went into this book on the effects of soaps on the skin’s mantle (I admit to rarely using soap now, except for pits and feet – I just like getting the day/night rinsed off ).  I thought ‘Clean’ was going to be a dry research tome; instead, it’s funny and accessible, in that breezy, chatty Atlantic style (sidenote:  years ago I attempted to explain writing styles to my late stepsister (who was not a reader), using The Atlantic v. The New Yorker as examples.  She gave me a long look and said ‘you know… if you ever want to know if a guy is right for you, have this conversation with him’.  Ouch.  And I should’ve listened to her.

Also, I’m still slowly treading through Carl Zimmer’s ‘Soul Made Flesh’ which is a gentle meander through the history of our discovery of the brain and its function (yes, it needed to actually be ‘discovered’ for reasons that are both utterly fascinating (new research that went against prevailing doctrines could cost you your life)  and utterly banal (no refrigeration, so a very short shelf life, so it was forever before brains were even noticed!!. Brains is squishy. )

The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird (this was a Bitchery rec – not all their stuff is romance-based).  okay – maybe not gorged-out on ALL fiction. Told in first person narrative and crossing timelines, much like my beloved World War Z, this has a few too many characters but the overall story is harrowing, heartbreaking and all the other ‘bad H’s’ you can think of – but it’s a great read.  A virus (think COVID cute-meets Contagion and WWZ in the Seventh Circle of Hell) that is carried by women but fatal only to men.  95% of the world’s human males die – what happens then?  I recommend the snot out of it.

btw – these are smile.azon links because I am tech-averse, lazy as a lima bean, and they’re the easiest for me to link to.  There is no affiliation so buy if/where you will.

What I’m Watching:  not much.  Television is not my fave way to spend time and right now it’s irritating the hell out of me.  An exception is ‘Mystery Road’, an Australian production with the vaunted Judy Davis, of that scree-dry voice ( asking Swan if he can traverse an area on horseback: ‘can you ride? that hat oughta be good for something’) and Aaron Pedersen as cranky, taciturn Detective Jay Swan, an Indigenous Australian with a foot in each culture.  I don’t know enough of Indigenous and White Australian cultures to speak on it but as a Black woman I can certainly identify with a lot of the subtle and not-so-subtle messages put forth.  And the character Jay Swan is, physically, smokin’ hot in a ‘normal hot guy’ way (fit but not ripped), which cheers me right up. And Floyd knows he needs to be fit, ’cause he’s carrying a LOT of personal baggage.  That part? Not so hot. But it works because once that came to the fore I could wrench my slavering gaze from him and focus on the excellent story. Omg.  I am so easy! Fwiw, the scenery is even more gorgeous than he is!  And the supporting cast is awesome, especially Ningali Lawford Wolf as Auntie Dot.  Do NOT mess with Dot. Another snot-recommend.

You can leave your hat on.

So.  That’s me.  Whazzup with you?  Reading anything?  Watching anything?  Building a better ICBM?  Talk to me.  I have some samples of new stuff, including the Brazilian Crush Patty talked about.  TGirl’s pawnicure is just waiting to dry, so she can poke for a winner!

  • Patty says:

    I needdssss that iris and the rose bush. Next time you divide that beauty, I’ll pay shipping costs to get some!

  • Tara C says:

    I will be getting possession of my new house & garden the 2nd of September and both irises and Rugosa roses are on the list, along with lilac & wisteria. Yay! I’m going to have to find a gardening forum because I know absolutely nothing about it, but I’m excited. The house already has one large lilac bush bit I’m hoping to trim it back because the blooms are out of sniffing range.

    • Musette says:

      Congrats on the pending new house! Lilacs are pretty easy – just remember that you might have to wait until the 2nd year from pruning for blossoms.

      And.. wisteria. Um. well. I love me some wisteria BUT! do know (if you’ve not grown it before) that the Japanese variety, most often gotten from nurseries, can tear a pergola right out of the ground. They start out dainty and end up requiring C-4 to get them under control, so do NOT plant it near your foundation!!!


      • Tara C says:

        Yes, I made that mistake in my San Diego house – that stuff is hella invasive! So only one wisteria, brutally pruned every year. I read that you can cut back lilac to 1 foot but it will then take 2-3 years to bloom again. I will be careful.

    • Lej says:

      Congratulations on the house! That’s fantastic. If you really want a wisteria then please look at purchasing a native variety. The Japanese & Chinese wisteria are incredibly invasive and destructive vines. They are HUGE & rapid growers, whereas our native variety’s are a bit more well behaved. I suggest checking out Dan Long at Brushwood Nurseries. He has a very nice selection of lovely vining plants. And his Clematis varieties are stunning…. Enjoy your new house and have fun in your new garden!!

  • Dina C. says:

    That iris is glorious! I love the scent of iris, too! Kind of sweet and dry, powdery, and a bit green. My favorite floral note. I’ve got two small David Austin Boscobel roses blooming in my backyard. They’re a peachy pink and smell very nice. Way to go on the horseback riding! I took some riding lessons as a 9 year old, back in the days when I had no fear. I remember how much I loved it. The version I did was Texas no-saddle riding, so I never got into the technicalities of dressage. I’m another Punctuation Princess (wink). Nah, I actually worked in an office where I proofread and edited professionally as part of my job doing PR and marketing, so I still cringe when folks mess up your/you’re and they’re/their/there and all those pitfalls. I’ve been reading cozy mysteries lately. Thanks for the recommendations, Musette!

    • Musette says:

      Dina C – omg, yes. I would VOLUNTEER to copyedit/proofread, it’s that bad out there. Kindle books and cheap imprints. OMG. I’m not sure badgers aren’t editing these things – in fact, badgers would be preferable. When I was researching the Romance post I read several Kindle books and… well, nebberyoumind.

      David Austin roses ROCK! If I could, I would have an entire garden full of them. Alas, the severe Winter spikes in temp are hell on them, as are the Japanese beetles. Alas.


  • March says:

    HAHAHA your dismount! Hey, you’re the customer! She’s lucky she doesn’t have me, I’d spend all my lessons giving the horse side-eye and saying nah, I’m good, I’ll just … stand here on the ground. Irises are one of the things I can still (weirdly?) smell which is a godsend since nobody loves the smell of irises more than I do, I know I’ve nattered about it endlessly on here. LOTS of stands of irises in my neighborhood. I’m sure my neighbors know me as ‘that weird lady who stops in front of my house and sticks her nose in my irises.’ And/but I think THEY are the weirdos because a fair number of my garden-club friends aren’t even aware irises have a scent? They’re growing them for their looks. Everyone talks about how roses smell, but seem oblivious to the gorgeous scent of many irises.

    • Musette says:

      they don’t know what they’re missing, do they!? There are some irises that will take the top of your head off! I’m glad you can still smell irises – we must take our pleasures where we can find them. Hoping a different climate helps reset your schnozz!
      and… this Fell pony and the Freisan are pretty docile, like TGirl, only 10x the weight/height. At least that’s how I look at it – it’s not a real chore to ride either. There’s a stallion boarding there, however, who is a whole ‘nother bucket o’ grub. We chat and I give him treats and boop his nose – but I wouldn’t ride him unless the barn was on fire and I had to get him out of there. Not that anybody is offering.


  • Cinnamon says:

    Those irises are glorious. I passed a neighbour’s garden the other day and she’s got dark purple ones. Would large irises be happy in a pot? Oh, and happy June! I’m still working my way through Mark Billingham’s Tom Thorn books, but I’m getting a bit weary of a man who can’t change his behaviour. Might move on to different genre for a while. I don’t own a TV — divested the old one during clearout last March and haven’t replaced. The only thing I’m watching at the mo is Gardeners’ World so can do that on laptop. Dressage. That sounds amazing. It’s almost warm enough for me to start the early swimming at the outdoor pool — just need a few degrees higher and I’m good to go. Am alternating between Ninfeo Mio and Ylang 49 currently. Need to get some samples.

    • Musette says:

      your climate is so different from mine, Cin, that I can’t speak to that – check with Sir Monty. It definitely wouldn’t work here, as the winters can plummet to -20F which would destroy the potted rhizomes. I know all of his are in the ground (or I think they are). He actually did an episode on irises, talking about how he had to move some somewhere else because of poor drainage, etc… these yellow ones are BEASTS – I could probably stick them up in a tree and they would still thrive.
      What you’re describing with Thorne is precisely why I will not binge through any writer’s oeuvre anymore. What makes them so compelling is also what can quickly make them tedious; the writing style is another problem – I don’t care how accomplished the writer is, all have certain ‘tells’ and again, ‘compelling = tedious’ if there’s no break in between. I remember my absolute shock when I accurately predicted the next line in a Sheri S. Tepper novel (SciFi-adjacent genre). Then I remembered that it wasn’t her fault. I was reading books that spanned a few years in the writing in less than a month!


  • Portia says:

    Hey Musette,
    Have you watched Tidelands yet? It was Australia’s first Netflix production and I think you might like it. A single perfect season.
    Portia xx

    • Musette says:

      I have not! I just watched ‘One Lane Bridge’ which is NZ (and excellent, imo) but will put ‘Tidelands’ on my to-watch list.
      Hey, could you do me a favor and box Aaron Pedersen up for me? Send him over here. AND NOT AS A CUSHION! LOL!

      (still giggling about that – one of the funniest lines, evah!)


      • Portia says:

        HA! I will try and get you a non cushion version of Aaron Pedersen. I just looked him up. YES! Had a huge crush on him a decade or so ago. He’s matured nicely too.

  • Kathleen says:

    Your yellow iris is fabulous! And the scent sounds amazing.
    I recently finished watching Halston miniseries on Netflix. Fun and sad to watch. Overall glad to learn more about the fashion designer’s work, his life, friends, and the creation of his perfume.

    • Musette says:

      Halston! Now that was a man who was an embodiment of an era, if ever there was one. I need to go sniff his eponymous perfume – your mention of him has it shimmering in my olfactory memory, just out of reach


  • Gina T says:

    I am an equestrian, too. My horse and soulmate and love of my life for 24 years died Nov. 27. It has been a tough time healing and finding a way to live in a world without him. I love iris, too. I also am a Grammar Nazi, but my coworkers have dubbed me Grammar Fairy. I have a wand, too.

    • Kathleen says:

      I’m so sorry for your tremendous loss Gina.

    • Musette says:

      I know, baby. That was such a sudden, shocking loss. My heart still breaks for you. You will find your way back into the world – he loved you far too well to want you to suffer forever.

      You haz a WAND? Well! I dub thee Comma F*cker Fairy!