What Else Came in the Mail

As you recall, I gave away some fragrances last month and invited the recipients to send me whatever they felt like in return. I got some wonderful gifts (as reported in Part 1). Here´s Part 2.

I gave Cathy/bluechile the bottle of reissued Straw Hat cologne, and I smiled when I got her return package, because even before I opened it I caught a whiff of Estee Lauder Youth Dew. Good ol´ Youth Dew; who thought it was called Youth Dude, or is that one of those urban fragrance myths? They don´t make them like that any more, I am sorry to say. Why on earth something that muscular and tenacious is called Youth Dew has always mystified me, but if I never got to smell it I would be sad. There was also an absolutely gorgeous small square flacon of vintage Lanvin Arpege. While I admire the reformulation very much, the original Arpege is a reminder of the days when women smelled like .. well, like Women. Grown up, curvaceous, devastatingly sexy. I didn´t have any vintage Arpege, and now I do, and I´m happy. She also included some Ava Luxe samps, including Wild Black Fig, that I am anxious to try.

I sent Rita the L´Artisan Fleur de Carotte. In return I got tins of yummy stuff like Burt´s Bees Hand Salve, beautiful minis of Hermes Caleche and 24, Faubourg, a ton of samples (Rita, looks like you´ve developed a serious habit over at Our Favorite Decant Store, do we need to stage an intervention?), and … this is so cool … her husband makes things out of glass! So I have a beautiful swirly glass pendant and a small glass vase for holding samples. Rita, tell your husband they are perfect and that was incredibly sweet of him, and (you asked what colors our tree decorations are) – you would laugh, I wish you were here to see our tree. My mom collected Christmas ornaments. In addition to the Santas, angels and snowflakes, we have harlequins, telephones, a deep sea diver, a saguaro cactus, parrots, teapots, cars, an octopus, three mermaids, a kangaroo, a hot air balloon … it´s endless. I have ornaments back to my great-grandparents´ trees. My mom has been gone for more than 20 years, and I still spot the occasional ornament and think, wow, she would really love that. My magpie love for flashy ornamentation has rubbed off on the kids, and I hope they each have as much fun in the future with their share as I´ve had with them. Anyway, to answer your question – I must have every color of the rainbow, and I like it that way.

I sent Kim the Floris Malmaison. In return … I got a teapot shaped like a Serge Lutens bell jar! It is cute as a bug´s ear, in this gorgeous box, and I really wish I could put a photo of it in here. It is the perfect size for tea for one, and I am very much enjoying it. Also included was a tin of Assam Breakfast tea, scrubs and soaps (Provence Sante Linden – yay!), a ton of samples, a little satin Chinese hat … oh, waitaminnit, that´s a tea cosy. There´s a bottle of Ambre Parfum Maison, which is just scrumptious. And (this is hilarious, I love perfume people) – her note says “maybe you can tell what the icky note is in the Dove” – the olfactory equivalent of, hey, does this milk taste sour to you? Well, Kim, I smelled it and you´re right – it smells like crap, but I´m not sure what that note is, precisely. Whoever came up with that needs a new job doing something else.

Finally, there was a book of poetry in Kim´s package. I love poetry. You guys know that, right? Every now and again I stick a poem up here. Anyway, this is Winter Morning Walks by Ted Kooser. They were composed on predawn winter walks and mailed on postcards to his friend Jim Harrison; the book contains 100 of them. Kim says they’re her favorite on a winter morning, and I can see why; they are both spare and beautiful.

The poems are dated, and here’s the one for December 13:

Just as a dancer, turning and turning,
may fill the dusty light with the soft swirl
of her flying skirts, our weeping willow—
now old and broken, creaking in the breeze—
turns slowly, slowly in the winter sun,
sweeping the rusty roof of the barn
with the pale blue lacework of her shadow.

image: Scott Tracy, blogs.sun.com

  • Laurie says:

    Why on earth something that muscular and tenacious is called Youth Dew has always mystified me,

    It was originally formulated as a bath oil and the name implied it would leave your skin dewy like young skin. So many women started wearing the oil as perfume (which I did as a teen) that they reformulated it as perfume. So name wasn’t a terrible misnomer or pervy thing…

    • March says:

      Laurie, thanks — that makes total sense, a bath oil would scent your skin more subtly (assuming you used it *in* the bath and not as a fragrance 😉 ) so the scent itself wouldn’t be so strong…

      Now that you have jogged my memory, I think I remember hearing that Estee had cleverly released this as an oil first because it came out in an era where women mostly got fragrances as gifts from men (as opposed to buying it for themselves) and so a “bath oil” was something a woman could legitimately treat herself to — and then the fragrance followed. Regardless, it is great stuff. The wee vintage bottle I have is in fact the bath oil.@};-

  • Christine says:

    Aww, the perfume junkies really are great.

    And I LOVE that you have your mother’s christmas ornament collection. My mother collects them too. Unfortunately we had a house fire years and years ago, so a lot of the old ones from her childhood were lost…since then we’ve added some on every year. Love the colorful ornamented trees. Love.

  • MarkDavid says:

    Im with Patty and Tom – no poetry for me. However, I write a mean Haiku. (as long as you remind me of the format and then turn me loose – I can never remember it.)

    I do like some of E. E. Cummings work, though – especially “I carry your heart” – which I was turned onto by Chayaruchama recently. it has given me a lot of comfort lately.

    Lordy, aren’t perfume people just the best? And they’re always soo bang-on with guessing what others might like – even beyond the realm of perfume. Where does this sixth sense come from?

    Its like “How in the world did you know I wanted a picture frame made out of Mueller’s Macaroni?”

    Mind readers. Every last one of us.

    • March says:

      The fact that I’ve gotten so many fragrances that I really like in these gifts — that I haven’t said I’d like — blows me away. You’re right. It makes me feel loved.:x

      Life is funny that way … I have a good friend who brings me excellent donuts from her small town bakery. This week she was coming and I found myself inexplicably longing for one of the breakfast rings from that bakery, instead of the donuts she always brings … and when she showed, guess what she had?! Yup, the coffee ring.:p

  • Patty says:

    Okay, this little exchange has been such fun to read about. Agree that perfume people are incredibly generous and warm. They really are the best.

    Now I have this confession to make, and I probably should include it in a five things you don’t know about me post, but I don’t, um… like poetry. Well, generally don’t like. I have a few poems/poets that I like, some Pope, Dorothy Parker when she was at her most acerbic and bitter, but most of it goes right over my head and requires more brain time than I usually have available.

    Having said that, I just ordered like thre books of this guy’s poetry. This is the kind of stuff I love — real, earthy, with a touch of magic, but not so much that my brain hurts when I read it. That’s poetry for the less artsy inclined, like me. :”>

    • tmp00 says:

      I don’t care for poetry either, Patty. I can appreciate it; it just does nothing for me.

      One year a dear (and passive-aggressive) friend of mine decided to try “educate” me on the joys of poetry and enliven my connection to the gay community (because apparently I was wanting in that area in her opinion) by gifting me with a huge book of gay poetry.

      It wasn’t pretty…:-w

      • March says:

        Wow. You still have that book sitting around? The mind boggles. I’m thinking of a coffee table book … maybe with some of those muscular guys all deshabille or whatever that word is … the gay poetry part makes me giggle, though, and write limericks in my head which I will mos def NOT be typing right in here…;)

      • Patty says:

        Hahaha. Well-intentioned friends really are the best.

        Msy love of limerick runs more to the There once was a man from Nantucket or the ribald version of the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, stuff like that. 🙂

    • Sariah says:

      Me too Patty. Love to read, but can’t do most poetry. Like I love the stories in Shakespeare, but I hate reading the old english. I don’t want to have to think about it.

    • March says:

      Well, okay, poetry isn’t for everyone. And I think people develop the greatest hatred of poetry slogging through Beowulf or the Iliad or some such in high school.

      But I am a big fan of poetry that … just sort of says what it says. It’s like reading a really good short story in 60 seconds. A good simple poem is like a good chocolate cake — there’s more to it than people might realize, and it’s trickier to make than it looks.;)

      I picked that barn one in part for you, though, and in part thinking of all those poor folks without power in the midwest right now. I’m sending them some mental warmth.>:d< I hear more than half the folks in OK are w/o electricity.

      • Patty says:

        But I didn’t have to slog through that crap in High School. We got saddled with a new English teacher in sophomore year that had us making collages, and I opted into Journalism for my Junior and Senior year for my English credit, so I never got burdened with any difficult reading in high school! I’ve learned to love it since then, but just never got the habit of poetry.

        Who did the Four Quartets? t.s. elliott? I like that quite a lot, too. Have tried Baudelaire and keep falling asleep. 🙂

        • March says:

          The one that makes me giggle sometimes is Pablo Neruda. I had a friend in college who could do this great Neruda riff, using his five favorite words. I think I remember “moon” and “breasts.”:)

    • sweetlife says:

      Well, Patty, if you like Pope you’re doing better than me. I’m a hardcore poetry lover but Pope I cannot do, no, no, no… [-(

      And Tom, I have been to so many Bad Gay Poetry Readings its not even funny. But I would have died, I think, without the great gay and lesbian poets I treasure.

      I think poetry, like perfume, is highly context dependent as far as pleasure goes. One of my favorite teachers compared novels to houses and poems to people. In a novel, you are welcomed in,introduced around, you have time to settle, there are several different rooms to explore. A poem you have to take the time and effort to get to know — sometimes there is instant recognition and connection, sometimes instant dislike.

      And sometimes–as with perfume–something you thought you disliked years ago will come across your vision and just bloom open in stunning, moving way. Oh! That’s what that meant! I’ve had this happen to me several times in these war-soaked years with poems written during World War II that I could simply not connect with in my twenties.

      But then, I am of the belief that everything can be loved if it is taught properly… @};-

      • MattS says:

        The good gay and lesbian poets transcend the gay and lesbian thing and good poetry in general survives hammer-fisted teachers with an over-aggressive enthusiasm for meaning. I once had a resolution to read a poem a day for a year just for enjoyment, not for analytical thinking. Like most resolutions, it was short-lived, but so healthy a habit while it lasted. Eventually, I just started smoking again. Of course, I’ve quit that by now too. Perfume and red wine are enough vices to sustain me.:p

      • Patty says:

        I should say I only like a little bit of Pope. His Essay on Man, while really repetitive, captures the essence of what it is to be human, and that’s why I like it so much. Some of his other stuff… bleah.

        I blame my dad. He had so much raunchy poetry and limericks as we were growing up, I always expect the punch line at the end of all poetry. 🙂 If I don’t get it, I get cranky.

      • March says:

        That’s a great comparison.

  • sariah says:

    Such thoughtful packages. I love that Province Sante Linden soap too. Whole Foods (or as my new cube neighbor called it – Whole Paycheck) is now the closest grocery store to my house, which is good and bad. Good in that they carry nice stuff like Province Sante (love the Vetiver too), bad because everything costs so much and the people are all rushing around with their Marc Jacobs and Coach logo bags. Weird, Northern Virginia is giving me a bit of a Stepford vibe.

    My tree is hillarious – it’s tiny and fake and pre-decorated by my Grandma. I inherited it after she passed a few years back, and the ornaments are mostly handmade by my Grandpa (he beaded and crochet!). I just take it out of the bag and plug it in.

    • March says:

      Oh, lord. Don’t get me started on Whole Paycheck. Or McLean. When I was growing up that whole Tysons area where you are was *farmland.* Seriously. We used to go to this chichi restaurant out there in the middle of nowhere for special occasions, it was surrounded by actual farms with animals.

      NoVa *is* Stepford. And I can say that, I grew up in Arlington, which still isn’t very toney, although it’s trying.

      I love your tree! That is just perfect. That’s sort of what my dad does after he gave us all the ornaments. He has a little predecorated tree with the ornaments tied on that used to sit on our table, it’s maybe 2 feet high. He just unbags it and he’s done!

      I love that your grandpa made the ornaments.>:d<

  • Rita says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed your package! It was really hard to send things I don’t want, possibly sending someone else a bunch of crap they don’t want. I’m glad everyone got things they loved out of this deal, it was a great idea! And God knows I’ve acquired so much perfume lately I could stand to part with more(yes, I have now entered the guilt stage.)

    Your tree sounds fantastic, ornaments with special meaning are part of what makes the holidays such a wonderful time of year!

    • March says:

      Getting perfume is fun, but giving it away can be fun too, as is true with a lot of things. And that was such a nice package, thank you very much. It was really fun to dig through.

      I love Christmas ornaments. Talk about something I need to put a “no-buy” on…

  • rosarita says:

    Thanks for sharing your lovely assortment of gifts with us. I am jealous of the Arpege. My parents brought me a bottle from a trip to Europe when I was in elementary school and I still love it; have a rather sizey decant of the reformulation, which is a better redo than most, imo. And Youth Dew! And handmade glass! Perfume people are wonderful. 😡

    Love the poem, too. Solitary winter walks are one of my favorite things.

    • March says:

      I think Arpege is one of the better (best?) reformulations. It honors the original while smelling more up to date. I like the Arpege PH a lot, too.

      Solitary winter walks are lovely. I particularly love how muffled everything tends to be in the snow.

  • Louise says:

    March, you have been well and rightfully gifted. Deservedly so. And such creative presents. I especially like the idea of having tea from a bell jar. Imagine the SL teas-Ambre Sultan, Fumerie Turque, A La Nuit…Arabie:)

    Your tree sounds magnificent. As a kid, and from the only Jewish family for miles around, I got invited to see many of the neighbors glorious trees. I remember being less envious of the presents (though some neighbors left us a little something, very sweet of them), than of the decorations. Stunning.

    • March says:

      Every time I look at that sweet little teapot it makes me smile. And it’s true, I was laughing at myself when I figured out what the Chinese silk hat was!:”> Duh.

      I might like Arabie as a tea.:-“

  • MattS says:

    Your tree sounds glorious. I prefer a tree without a theme or color scheme or any such grownup notions. A Christmas tree should be colorful and childlike (and tacky always works)…Youth Dew seems like one of those historic, legendary scents but I’ve never smelled it. Something about the name…sounds like something that shouldn’t be in a bottle…Ohhh I won a sample this morning of the Andy Tauer Incense Extreme. It’s gonna be a great day.

    • March says:

      Yay the Tauer Incense! I bet you end up loving it. That man makes some wonderful things. And you’re right, Youth Dew sounds sort of, well, dirty to me, but probably not when it was made, it’s just my mind.:”>

      We had simple white crocheted snowflakes for awhile when the big girls were little, for safety. On a certain level, I admired its tasteful simplicity. But I like our tree now better.

  • Lee says:

    We need a photo of your tree. I’m lemming the cactus.:d

    • March says:

      There is something for everyone on that tree, I swear. The cactus is dressed as a cowboy and wrangling a lariat, I forgot to mention that, didn’t I?

      The problem with a “whole tree” picture is you get the chaos without the detail… wonder if I could stick up photos of individual ornaments? Hmmmmm…. but it might make your tasteful brit eyes hurt.b-)

  • tmp00 says:

    Vintage Youth Dew! Arpege! Damn. I’ve got some sniffing to do! As much as I love the fact that there are so many scents these days that are basically unisex, I do sort of miss the days that there were UberFemme scents and am glad when I sniff them; I love catching a whiff of Joy or Fracas on a lady shopping (and I do) and I take the time to praise.

    What am I saying, like I wouldn’t wear Joy…

    • March says:

      Youth Dude. Honey, I think it’s too butch for you.;) Teasing, but seriously, the disconnect between innocent preconception and reality on that one is huge. It’s such a great scent, though. I can’t wear more than a drop or two, it’s that potent.

      I can’t think of a whole lot of things you couldn’t wear … maybe something candied sweet like Pink Sugar, but you wouldn’t be caught dead in that anyway.

  • Maria says:

    I agree that perfumistas are wonderfully generous people, whether they’re amateurs or in business. We love to share. I promise that as soon as I am free temporarily I’ll learn to decant. Hey, I think I have my New Year’s resolution right there. I’m only going to make one. Why set myself up for failure?

    • March says:

      You can do it! Go, Maria! Go, Maria!

      Start with something safe. One of those Issey Miyakes that smell like water or something.;)

  • sweetlife says:

    For a double dose of perfume+poetry and some really fine writing you should check out this blog — http://memoryanddesire.typepad.com

    Gorgeous graphics, too.

    Hooray for your return presents! I’ve gotten so blissfully accustomed to perfumista generosity that when some towels I ordered arrived today I had a moment where I thought — hey, where are my freebies?

    And hurrah for eccentric trees. Ours stars The Ugliest Ornament In The World, a demented Santa Duck, who lived through a fire and sports the tiniest wisp of a burned beard on his pink plastic chin. My mother collects ornaments, too. About ten years ago she started giving my brother and I an ornament each year for the day when we would have our own tree, but so far she refuses to let us take them home. Instead she prefers to have us visit them on her tree.

    • sweetlife says:

      Er, make that my brother and me. Sheesh — correcting that mistake umpteen times on papers must have imprinted it on my brain!

    • Maria says:

      Sweetlife, our brains are in the same space. I too have a stack of papers to contend with…and…I too wonder where my freebies are when I get an order of any sort! It’s so funny! No, Amazon doesn’t include free samples, neither does MAC Cosmetics. One just gets used to it.

      • sweetlife says:

        Maria — LOL! — thankfully my days of paper correcting are behind my (right now at least) but the damage lingers. I wish you the best with yours. I swear I was rifling through the packing at the bottom of the box before I realized what I was doing!

      • March says:

        A stack of papers seems like a terrible intro to the holiday season … from the perspective of student and teacher.

    • Louise says:

      Thanks for a great link-I loved “Grammar”-maybe an occupational hazard. I am so greatful that I get to be in a high school, without the burden of papers to grade (speech pathologists get loads of paper work, but not so much homework). Hang in dearies-the holidays are almost here!

      • Louise says:

        er, “grateful”. Ego much…moi? :”>

        • March says:

          That’s okay, I just typed “their” instead of “there,” not a mistake I tend to make. It must be that kind of morning.:-w

      • rosarita says:

        I co-manage a medium size midwest high school cafeteria, and every December we have the added workload of catering for all the holiday parties – the Athletic Director’s breakfast, the Bus driver’s brunch, the noontime dance for the functional skills students, etc etc. Having the holiday break is one of the best things about working in the school system! Hang in there, everyone!:)

      • March says:

        When the twins were in speech therapy through the county and had an IEP I was stunned at the amount of paperwork and the relentless formality of the process. It felt like @ss-covering 80% of the time, it was weird. There was an adversarial tone to it I found really frustrating. I felt like, aren’t we on the same team here? But apparently not. I wonder if other places are different.

        • Louise says:

          No, we play on the same team 🙂
          There is a tremendous amount of tushy covering in education in general, but some schools are definitely worse, and more adversarial, too.

    • March says:

      Thanks for the link! And that is so funny — yeah, where’s my stuff? Even when I order from some perfume websites now, if I don’t get 20 extras, I think there’s something wrong…

      My sister and me 😉 divided up all the family ornaments about 15 years ago, and I swear we each got enough to decorate a tree and a half. Then I buy each of the kids an ornament each year, too — the start of their own collections. This year I started rotating the ornaments; we have a separate lit tree on the front porch but it blows over periodically and is not ornament-friendly.

      Your ugliest ornament would be right at home on our tree! We could hang him next to the three-antlered reindeer.

    • Heather says:

      I’m blushing with delight to have found visitors at my little poetry/perfume site (memory & desire) originating from here. Thank you for your kind mention, SweetLife, and thank you for more than that.

      Our tree is decorated with miniature soccer balls, red birds, black cats, and those big old-fashioned royal blue bulbs. My husband likes to call it our “Krishna penis tree.” You have to see it to believe it. I’ve had it up for three Christmases running. I never take it down, in part, because I have nowhere to put it.

      Delurking with gratitude,


      • March says:

        Okay, you have me beat in the tree department. :d Although we left our (fake) Christmas tree up so long last year the neighbors started teasing us about it. I think we put it away in April?

      • March says:

        PS Heather — I saw on your site the comment that you find our site a little bit of a PITA to navigate (you put it more diplomatically) 😉 We’ve been fiddling around with formats, search features and other issues, and I hope will be unveiling them fairly soon. The new site will be more streamlined and a little less intense visually. I hope you like it.

        • Heather says:

          March, you are very kind even to address the comment. I love this site and the information on it, but I always hold my breath when I’m here because it never seems to display correctly in Firefox and there’s so much to look at that I easily get overwhelmed. Nothing beats this blog though. Nothing.

  • Elle says:

    As I said before, I’m always happy to discover what incredibly interesting, generous people most perfumistas are. What great gifts you got!
    Took a detour before commenting here to race over to Amazon and order The Blizzard Voices and Flying at Night. I have to have at least a brief poetry fix each evening before going to sleep and can’t believe I haven’t read his work before.
    Oh, and your Christmas tree sounds amazing! My idea of the absolutely perfect tree.

    • March says:

      Elle, that is a great idea, poetry before bed. I wonder if it would affect my dreams any?

      Were you around for the Loren Eiseley post awhile back? He was an anthropologist who wrote some of my very favorite poems. He’s very much worth reading.

      • Elle says:

        Yes, I did see the Loren Eisley post and immediately ordered Notes of an Alchemist and All the Night Wings. Fell in love and went on to read a couple of his books of essays. Currently have All the Strange Hours near the top of my “must read soon” stack of books.