Vegetation Nation

I know it’s boring but I’ve gotta say it again:

I’m in Menopause

and BLUE Moon Comin’ UP!

That means my normally sunny-funny self has given way to but don’t worry, it’s just for a couple of days.  Then I’m back to my Old Sweet Self.  Which, come to think of it, probably isn’t much different than Baby Girl up there.

In the meantime, though, I can’t focus on actual perfume which, when I spritz it, feels vaguely like marbles rattling around in my head.  Instead, I’m sniffin’ on Vegetation!    Do you guys remember back when I had that vicious gum infection?  I hauled all that gravel and compost and my veg garden looked like a little plant prison?  That was back in late April.  800 gallons of hauled rainwater later, it blew UP!  and looks more like

the gravel pathways are choked with tomato, pepper, Swiss chard, beans  and more so every step I take stomps on something and releases heavenly scents….the monthlong drought and 100+ temps meant I had to let the broccoli go – after  first cut I left it to bolt; I have every bee for a 3 mile radius in my garden.  Broccoli blossoms actually smell…pretty!   let’s talk about some of the other veg smells.   In fanciful moments I amuse myself with Scents Demeter Ought to Do.  Tomato leaf?  Been there.  How ’bout Sunburnt Cauliflower?  Like rancid popcorn.  The poopy smell of bolted broccoli, before it blooms.  Baby poop, which isn’t the worst – but still poopish.   Green (bell) pepper has been done in L’Artisan Piment Brulant – every time I spritz this I get a craving for pasta.   I was going to try to make a case for jalapenos vis a vis Poivre Piquant, one of my favorite L’Artisan scents, but jalapenos have a sunny snap that is totally missing in the cool blonde aura of PPiquant.  Is there a jalapeno scent in  a perfume? I no longer care.  I planted 10 jalapeno plants (plus 3 serrano and 4 Thai)… and it’s harvest time!  I have chopped and frozen 22 quart-bags of peppers and will probably have a few more bags before the season is out.  My eyes are sore and my nose is tingly…I could do without smelling peppers for awhile…


except!  It’s Hatch Chile Season!!!

I live in Illinois.  1,428 miles from Hatch, New Mexico.  But I love those chiles like I love emerald-cut diamonds.  Raw, they’re like any other mild chile.  Roasted, they are the stuff of gods!  I have no idea why but one of the Krogers – in Peoria, of all places – had a huge Hatch Chile Event last weekend.  I ’bout lost mah mind!   Folks who live in the Southwest are sick to death of ’em – they’re everywhere!  Up here, it’s like a Sasquatch sighting.  I sent some to deserving and wonderful friends and am roasting the rest.  Such a gorgeous smell – oooh, and Hatch chiles lend such depth to salsa. 


Yes.  Salsa.  Another thing I love.  But I’m sick to death of making it.  And I’m really sick of smelling like it.   I did can, my darlings.  I did!  Nothing exploded, nobody died.  The jars all sealed, with that reassuring little ‘thwunk’ sound.  I’m still scared.  Come November….if I’m not Botulism Betty we’ll know I did it right.  Aren’t they purty?  28 jars.  I don’t need to see another Roma tomato for awhile but still they march onward, into my kitchen.  A couple of the jars are underfilled so we’ll probably pop those open soonest.  Yeah, I’m scared.  If they’re not full to the brim, but they did the ‘thwunk’, I should be okay, right?  Right?    I did three batches.  They’re all good, tastewise…but the last one, with the roasted Hatch chiles?  OMG!  But!  Did I mention I’m sick of smelling like Hatch chiles?  Smoky, peppery, charcoal-y/woody, fiery (fire-y?)….it permeates the skin.  For a few days. Roastin’.  Sweatin’.  Peelin’.  Choppin’. Baggin’. Freezin’….is it any wonder I’m aching for a mani/pedi, a pair of Manolos and a double martini at the Everest Room?


Nobody seems to want a perfume that smells like roasted Hatch chiles.  Not even you, March.     But I do wish there was a way to bottle the smell that explodes in your mouth when you bite into a sun-warmed, ripe yellow tomato.   I know it’s a cliche but they smell and taste like sunshine.  They taste and smell and taste and feel and smell like Everything Good in the World.   On days when I’m feeling ol’ Jaws up there I go out to the vegetable garden at high noon and pick a few of the little yellow teardrop tomatoes.  Pop one…and for a few minutes all is well with my soul.  Is that why we love perfume so?  Because it has the power to make us skritchyscratchy..or at peace..or just plain ol’ happy?

Summer garden will soon make way for fall planting (new broccoli, baby lettuces that I’ve grown from seed, garlic for next year.  The next crop of potatoes) …Autumn garden smells are different.  So much of the focus is below ground.  And impending coolness…..I can wear scent in the garden in autumn.  Scents like vintage Ubar, with that tangy hint of cinnamon …….but we’re a ways from that, yet.  Except…these past two weeks have seen the influx of hummingbirds from the North, gassing up for the long trip South.  I’m on a trapline so every year, around this time, they rest on my tomato cages and smoke bushes and argue over the feeders…..I wonder what they smell like, the ferocious little weirdos.

The masses of hummingbirds always fills me with melancholy – in a few short weeks it’ll be another spin around the sun before I see them again.  But I don’t want to leave you with Sadface.  So instead, I will ask the question my bffff asked me:

If all hummingbirds eat is nectar and sugar….do they poop divinity?


I’m here all week, folks!  Tip your waitress.    Then I’m off to Britt, IA, to get sneezed on by my Gentle Giants.  I’m wearing Cartier Les Heures Fougueuse this year.  I think they’ll like it.  Can’t be any worse than when I wore contemporary Mitsouko!




  • HemlockSillage says:

    Your garden is AWESOME! Thanks for a post that made me laugh. . .and envious of your green thumb.

    I kill every plant except, weirdly, orchids and ivy. I can make orchids bloom continuously. Cannot grow simple herbs to flavor my salad no matter how I try. Makes no sense to me at all. I even managed to kill a well established rosemary.

    Canning, I *can* do. That THWOCK sound is very satisfying. It’s been a couple years, but my mom and I put up fig preserves from her tree. We make a lemon fig preserve that she and I love, and a mock strawberry (fig) preserve that the menfolk love. Yum. The tree did not produce very well this year. The rains came a bit too late, I guess.

    I’ve been weirdly scent free lately. Please don’t yank my perfumista card, but I’ve been just so busy I forget, usually at night. Dunno what that’s about, but ready for that attitude to be OVER. I’m thinking Carnal Flower may have to come out tonight, and start a new better ‘fume ‘tude. Be well.

    • HemlockSillage says:

      On second thought, I went with Onda extrait for SOTE, which better fit my mood…and goes with your earthy post. In 90+ heat, I feel more like Jaws, too. Look out, world 😉

  • Poodle says:

    I envy your garden. I have a tiny one that keeps getting bigger but my yard is not the best for veggies.
    I do have hummingbirds though. Lots of them. This summer I’ve gone through over 10lbs of sugar making nectar for the little devils. They are so adorable! They get right up in my face when I’m outside and buzz my head when I’m in the flowerbeds. Small but brave. They will be gone soon though and I’ll miss them. They eat bugs too, not just the nectar. I’m no expert but I’m guessing they need the sugar for the quick energy and the bugs give them the protein they need.
    I’ve done some canning this year again but not as much as you. I wish I could grow tomatoes but Greta the little poodle is OBSESSED with them. She has a fit trying to get them if I have them on the counter and she will do anything to get them in the garden. It’s really not worth the bother. She’s worse than the bunnies.
    I’ve got the peri-menopause thing going on so the fun is just beginning. I send my hubby warning texts when I’m in a mood. He’s thankful for that.

    • Musette says:

      LOL! on the hummingbirds. I know! One of the feeders was dry…and the hummers had the noive to come up in my face! “get that feeder filled!!!” So I did.

      My m-i-l is the Hummingbird Whisperer of TN – on any given day she has over 100 of those little freaks at her feeders. Nobody gives her any gifts anymore – except sugar.

      As for the garden, Carmine is obsessed with tomatoes He stole all three of my perfect yellows off the table. I keep the garden gate closed tight, lest he get in there and eat every tomato in there!

      Menopause isn’t so bad – except when it is. :The-Incredible-Hulk: Hang in there. Lots of exercise, lots of yoga, lots of water. Lots of warning texts.

      xoxox :Devil:

  • Eldarwen 22 says:

    This year has been my dad’s first year of canning/pickling, much to the annoyance of my mother. About the only thing that went nuts is his peppers. He loves his hot peppers and he is trying out ghost peppers this year. Our tomatoes are really starting to come around after all this heat and barely any rain. It didn’t seem like a good year for having a veggie garden. Last year it didn’t seem to be a good year for tomatoes due to the fact that there was a blight.

    • Musette says:

      The drought actually made the tomatoes more flavorful – there’s a whole ‘low-water’ movement based on that. Once they get established, you can cut watering in half, assuming all other variables (mulch, etc) are in place. The difference is palpable.

      I like the idea of pickling! Except I don’t like pickles.

      I don’t know ghost peppers – must investigate!

      xoxo :Devil:

      • Eldarwen 22 says:

        Ghost peppers are apperently the hottest peppers known to man as per my dad and this is his first time growing them. He is the gardener and I can kill just about anything when it comes to plants. He normally grows a lot of hot peppers and dries them out. I have no clue on why he wants to start canning and pickling stuff this year. Probably because my mom mentioned the fact that the price of fresh produce and meat has gone up. I’m probably am going to get my dad a meat smoker for Christmas since he is on a roll.

        • Musette says:

          you’re a good daughter!

          Also, pickling is a weird guy-thing. Unless you’re Aunt Bee or Clara Edwards. Then it’s a Mayberry thing. But out here, the manliest of men can and pickle stuff. And smoke. They hunt and they eat what they kill. So there’s a lot of smokin’ and jerkin’ and picklin’….if the Apocalypse does come, my Manolos will be of little use. But we’ll have to guard our smoker with our lives.

          xo :Devil:

  • Mals86 says:

    SO enjoyed this one, Miss A!

    My garden wound up pretty much a total bust this year… we got so much rain during a certain part of the summer that nobody wanted to go out and get soaked and muddy weeding, and then we took off for ten days on that College Tour Trip for Bookworm (ZOMG MY BABY IS A HS SENIOR), and when we got back, the weeds had pretty much taken over. Like the Mongols sacking Europe, this was: way skeery.

    So we’ve gotten a few cucumbers, a few peppers, some tomatoes, some corn – but nothing like the Great Canning Summer of 2010, when I put up 47 quarts of tomatoes and froze 7 dozen ears of corn…

    Ah well. The basil and oregano I planted near the front walk are a delight to walk by. Caprese salad, anyone? YUM. We’re also planning to plant us a little orchard in a corner of the yard: Golden Delicious, Jonagold, Early Transparent (if I can find the trees, they’re rare heirloomy things), and a coupla pear trees. Of course it’ll be at least two years if not more before they’ll bear anything, but I’ve finally talked The CEO into it. What he wanted to do was to replant the orchard at the old homeplace on the farm, which is so far from our house that I’d have to drive there if I wanted to bring any fruit home. NO. I want them in the yard. I’m not gonna haul AND can/freeze.

    Oh – and I do love that little THWOCK sound that signifies a good seal.

    • Musette says:

      Oooh! an orchard! I have one peach sapling. I planted it this year, along with two apple trees that needed rescuing. The drought put paid to both apple trees but the peach did just fine – and gave me ONE PEACH! Oh, mals! It was soooo goooood. We harvested a neighbor’s peaches last year but it was the last year for the tree. There is NOTHING like a peach right off the tree. I named my peach Maurice. Told him how pretty he was. Right before I gutted him like a carp and ate him!

      Guys are odd that way, aren’t they? El O did everything he could to make this as difficult as he could….then I made him do the harvest. Sur-prise, sur-prise, sur-PRIZE. He’s on board with my layout now!

      I avoided the bulk of the weeds by putting barrier down ( black plastic garbage bags) before laying the gravel. I planted so tight there wasn’t any room for weeds. We’ll have to go vertical next year, though – it’s hard to contain tomatoes, even in the cages, when you plant intensively.

      47 quarts of tomatoes? I would’ve killed everybody in this town.

      xoxoxo :Devil:

      • DinaC says:

        I just heard Gomer Pyle’s voice saying, “Sur-prise, sur-prise, sur-prise!” What a blast from the past that was! 😉

      • jen says:

        At least you wore him down. My hubby
        oesnt want any new trees cause he doesnt want to mow around them! What kind of reason is that? I want peach trees! And an avocado, which I am getting.

  • DinaC says:

    Your garden is amazing! What bounty and such great smells! Loved the descriptions of everything. 🙂 My sister-in-law does tons of canning because her boys have serious food allergy issues, and that way she knows what’s in the jars. But me? Nope. I’ve never attempted it. Kudos to you — the salsa sounds amazing. Hope you have a fun, allergy-free time with your Gentle Giants. It’s not the horses, but the hay, that drives me nuts. 🙂

    • Musette says:

      Dina, it wasn’t nearly as difficult as I’d feared. In fact, it wasn’t difficult at all. Just nerve-wracking, with the temps and everything. There really is a temperature at which certain organisms are (supposedly) killed. A few degrees under and..who knows? I’m usually not too fussy about that kind of stuff but canning seems to have some inherent issues, at least for this newbie. Talk to me in a year!

      xoxo :Devil:

  • dinazad says:

    Aw, c’mon – botulism won’t survive a nice hot chile, I daresay. You’re most probably safe! (My barbecue sauces etc. go into production this weekend).

    Personally, I want to wallow in spices, rub marjoram and thyme behind my ears and oregano and basil on my wrists. Or some fabulous Moroccan spice blend. Papalo (what a great scent!). And in some weird way re-live the moment when we opened the car in which we had piled pounds of garlic and several bouquets of lavender after it had stood out in the sun for an entire afternoon. Gruesome but heady – high-class skank!

    I want a perfume which smells of elderflower or meadowsweet, of hot, just mowed meadow, of sun-baked soil. Of limes (seriously, where’s lime in all those citrus fragrances inundating the earth?), coriander and cardamom. Of smoked paprika. Green beans. Tarragon and chervil….

    And I enjoy menopause. Beats cramps any day! (ducks and hides)

    • Musette says:

      OMG! Lavender and garlic! in a hot car! swooooning! (in a good way).

      I threw a couple of Scotch bonnets into one of the salsas – I figure that, plus the lime and vinegar, will shut down Miss Betty’s pretensions to mayhem. I hope!

      Smoked paprika. One of the loveliest scents on this planet!!!

      xoxox :Devil:

      ps. I’m fine with menopause – except when it gets the better of my better nature. Then I’m kinda scared for everyone around me.

      • dinazad says:

        Well, the garlic/lavender combination got us waved through customs. One whiff was all it took, even though we had four spanking new leather jackets we had bought…..

        A Scotch Bonnet in salsa cannot come amiss! It will kill even botulism!

  • Francesca Belanger says:

    I envy you your garden, Musette, even though it’s so much work. The thought of canning terrifies me—I’m sure I’d be Botulism Betty. Agree on summer tomatoes–can’t get enough. In fact I’m taking two big ones from the farmers’ market with me for lunch today.

    I actually heard a hummingbird chirp once. Didn’t see any this year, though, dammit.

    When you say Gentle Giants, is this a draft horse thang? Take pix!


    • Musette says:

      I am lousy with hummingbirds at this moment, though it’s going to end for the season in about 3 weeks. They are loud, squeaking and squawking as they fight over their territory. I can’t keep the feeders stocked right now – there’s a new influx every day, as some move out and the new ones come in to rest and recharge for the next leg of their journey.

      I waaaay overplanted this year. We’ll see if we get through the salsa (I can’t imagine why we wouldn’t – we go through a container of the store-bought stuff every week). I just don’t want to end up like some Hoarder wannabe, with rows of dusty canned-goods in the cellar…..(cue Jaws music:-D )

      I avoided canning for 5 years! Dumb. The biggest concern, of course, is bacteria. So I’m hyper-vigilant about sterilization. The experienced canners around here do something called ‘hot packing’ – but that just made my eyes roll back in my head. I boiled the living crap out of those packed jars!!!

      Yeah, my GGs are the Belgians and Percherons! It’s Britt Draft Horse Show time! I’ll be boring the toenails off you guys with that – but just one pic, I promise. Okay – maybe two!

      xoxoox :Devil:

  • Ann says:

    Howdy, Musette (and March, too)! Great post, except that it’s gotten my mouth watering for those lovelies which are found nowhere in my neck of the woods — NM road trip, anyone? Seriously, I need to try those L’Artisans. Have fun this weekend with the gorgeous big guys (and gals) and take a big sniff of all-things horsey for me, won’t you? In my youth, I loved ’em and all their attendant smells so much that I even enjoyed mucking out stalls (plus it meant I got to ride an extra hour). Enjoy!

    • Musette says:

      I will, though there will be no mucking-out for me. I’m allergic to horse urine. The World Percheron Congress in DesMoines nearly sent me to the emergency room! I go to Britt armed with 2 inhalers!

      xoxo :Devil:

  • March says:

    And going on … this was a massively lovely post. I’ve noted over the years that there’s a huge overlap between perfume-lovers and foodies (and wine folks, etc.) and I think it’s the sensualist in us, the love of exploring new and unusual sensations. I stand in awe of your garden and I wish I lived closer so I could both see you and mooch off of you, except I’m not quite picturing myself settling down happily in your neck of the … fields? I’m pretty much a city girl at heart. But this post makes me yearn in that goofy Green Acres way for the country.

    • Musette says:

      Honey, the only reason I don’t yakk more about moving back home to the City is ..I don’t want to end up like George Bailey. Other than that, I’d pack up my maribou mules so fast….

      xo :Devil:

  • March says:

    Are you kidding me?!?! Okay, I don’t want to, you know … work and actually grow them, but I’d love to smell like Hatch green chiles. Greatest smell, brings me right back to New Mexico during chile-roasting season with the roasters set up roadside and in parking lots everywhere. And you already know about my massive frozen-Bueno addiction, hauling back a full suitcase whenever I get a chance to go to NM and visit. Green chile is nectar of the gods. FUN FACT: three doors down from my office job is the Santa Fe Cafe, which serves passable NM food, including … Hatch green. They’re over my adjusting their menu (I tip well). They make me my own custom bowls of green chile stew, which I’ve now got my office addicted to. I’m nagging them to put it on the menu.

    Also, lol, full moon and all, I’m thinking you’re more Jaws than Cinderella, no offense.

    • Musette says:

      Tell you what: I will grow them, you process them. The whole processing part gets old, quick (those of you who think it’s all Martha Stewart and all – it is – the first 3 chiles (or tomatoes) – after that it’s just a Whole Lotta Work.

      Did you luck out or what, with the SFCafe! Not quite as much fabbo fun as, you know, GOING TO SANTA FE. But we’ll take what we can get.

      xoxoxo :Devil:

      • Cymbaline says:

        I returned home from a trip to northern NM just a week ago so I loved your Hatch chile musings (tirade?)! I made it a point to eat my fill of Green Chile Stew, yum yum and like you, was surprised to find Hatch chiles at my local grocery store a couple of days ago. Oh boy, more GC Stew : )

        One of the few NM style places to eat here in Seattle is also called Santa Fe Cafe. I’ve been told it’s not a “chain ” restaurant. I’m wondering if the one March wrote about is?