Way back in the Jurassic Era, when Fiorinal (which nauseated me) was the only prescription out there for migraines & cluster headaches, I was sent to a Chinese acupuncturist.  It worked – but it hurt (a very little bit – but still).  At that point, at least, the Chinese method used was direct-puncture and the needles were a tad big.  (again this was a very little bit – it isn’t a hypodermic, ffsakes )… so… as I grew to learn more about acupuncture I was thrilled to find the Japanese method of counterirritation, whereby they use a small plastic tube to quickly rub across the skin, a sensory distraction as they tapped the needle in.  Vi-ola!  Pain-free and just as effective.

I thought about that on Sunday, as I girded my loins to go out and de-Boo the front of my house

Original House of Boo

It was a Not Pretty Day, cold and grey, fit for Ugly Chores – ripping up bindweed and Charlie from cold, damp ground, plunging into the yard-deep hedge to whack it back, raking SO MANY LEAVES (so many), just so it looked less Boo-y.  It was dirty, bleak, cold work.  So.  What did I wear?

I wore Lubin’s Gin Fizz.

Sweatergawd!  It was so distracting that it actually HELPED get me through the chilblains and generally pissy mood.  Gin Fizz (Grace Kelly’s signature fragrance) really is a fizzy, frippery concoction, perfect for spending the day on a yacht in the Med or a light application prior to slipping that watered silk gown over your head.  It doesn’t have a ‘worker’ bone in its gorgeous body.  And it is so ridiculous a choice for filthy, backbreaking work (in old, dirty fleece, no less!) that it kept my mind off balance, rendering the jobs way less irritating because the counter irritant was so frothy and sparkly and delightful that I really couldn’t focus on the fact that I looked like Mrs Boo out there, covered in dirt & wet leaves and dead bugs… it was fascinating!

Getty Images – and mos’ def NOT me!

I’m not afraid of rough work in the garden and house… but I still love my luxe.  So I do one of two things, when faced with a backbreaking or dirty task.  I either take on the Working persona (which will then be rewarded with a hot shower and liberal application of the luxeiest of scents (and maybe a glass of champagne when I revert to the Lady of the House persona)…. or I combine the two, to create a counter irritant, so I can get through cleaning the gutters without bursting into tears!  You haven’t lived! until you’ve perched your old, fat butt on an extension ladder to clean out the gutters above that 3′ deep hedge… terrified… but determined to get it done… and coked to the gills in Jubilation 25, which can be smelled a block away!  I’s DONE it (there’s no one around here to do that sort of thing* and I can’t afford it anyway, having just spent $1000 to keep The Girl from dying from bloat – she’s fine, btw, though I am still a nervous wreck – she coughs and I jump up, poke her belly and generally stand there for 20 minutes and stare at her (oh, she hates that SO much)!  It’s counter-irritation at its finest.

I don’t wear those scents all the time, of course; cleaning house, I just wear Bleach because Cleaning House.  But outside, it’s always fun to wrestle with the Ugly Jobs awash in something so delightfully frothy.  Interestingly, my heavy hitters don’t do well in that sort of work – classics like Mitsouko and No5 actually want to do battle, so it becomes more intense and less ‘oooh! Squirrel!!’.  Amouage Dia which, in my opinion, was made for a wasp-waisted, petticoated New Look day dress, is hysterical to wear when you are hauling 40-lb pavers!  Just about the time you are ready to give up the ghost (and you only have 3 pavers left to set in, so c’mon!) Dia fluffs up the petticoats, straightens the white gloves and distracts you with a coy look.  Before you know it, the 3 pavers are set… and you can shower, change and wear Dia as it was meant to be worn.

We’ve talked in the past about the various ways in which perfume can be used as armor – but do any of you use it as a counterirritant, as well?  I’d love to know – I’ve started paying way more attention to the ‘why’ of a perfume choice lately, and it’s stunning how nuanced the choices can be!

*Praise SNAILS!  I must’ve done something good because my young(er than me) neighbor down the street clambered up on my porch roof like that Squirrel! and blew the logjam of leaves out of that overflowing gutter!  He asked for … brownies?  … as payment!  I made 3 different kinds  (one with cinnamon and my aged orange extract and candied orange peel) because CLEAN GUTTERS!!!!


oh!  and before I forget:  WINNER of the October Edition of my Musings:  KimB!  gmail me (evilauntieanitaAT) and remind me what’s going on – I’ve been pretty good about getting stuff to the PO lately!!!


Last Thing:   I got my Gin Fizz from Arielle Shoshana and she graciously sent a sample of.. Gin Fizz!  Which I would love to share with one of you.  Tell me about your day/counter irritants, whatever.  The Girl really is totally recovered and looking forward to poking a pawnail for a winner!



  • Maggiecat says:

    I have had a number of Difficult Meetings lately, at which my usually calm and thoughtful self has been required to be quite…assertive. JHAG Lady Vengeance is lovely to wear for such events. I find it calmubg, and the name makes me feel badass.

  • HeidiC says:

    This is a ridiculously brilliant plan! I haven’t tried scenting up my work chores, but I have worn very green green chypres when going for a long run — they’re so sharp and fresh, and the heat makes it rise off me and distract me.

  • Kathleen says:

    Every household chore is glammed up by perfume! Perfume makes everything better.
    So glad that The Girl is okay. I do the same with my dog, anxiety and panic when I detect anything remotely that could be wrong. We love them so much! xx

  • Patty says:

    I love this. I do that too, sometimes, wear a totally unsuitable fragrance while doing a really hated task. I think I should do it more often, it will distract me from the hated task. Leaf gathering starts in earnest this week, and I am… ugh. I have gigantic trees with lots and lots of leaves. I hire some of it done, but the stuff around the pool I have to do.

    • Musette says:

      put on something Truly Frothy! It really does help! I had all my leaves raked (or blown by my neighbor, bless his hort) – and then we had 45mph gusts. They are now all over the porch and lawn… again!… sigh. xoxoox

  • Portia says:

    Hey there Musette, DNEM.
    I love a swipe of Shalimar vintage extrait for housework and grocery shopping. Everything feels more lavish with it.
    Portia xx

  • Calrayo says:

    I’m glad to hear your dog is doing better! My greyhound was stretching and pacing last night, clearly having some sort of gut discomfort. He eventually burped and had some really gnarly flatulence, which I’ll take over bloat any day. Poor little guy. Anyways, we definitely needed some nicer scents today after we aired out the house – I just put on Lyric Woman as a distraction for the election here in the US. I’m hoping we clean out the White House…

  • Jennifer S says:

    The last time I thought in terms of ‘counter irritant’ I was in Target contemplating Febreze sprays. I have one cat who can be quite, terrifically malodorous at times. The one called Wood, with its notes of amber, oud, and cedar sounded good but I wasn’t sure how ‘complimentary’ it would’ve been so I went with the Cranberry scented one instead, which pairs much better with eau de stank!
    Glad to hear the girl is fine!

  • VerbenaLuvvr says:

    I’ve never been brave enough to go to the acupuncturist, though my 95-yr old uncle did and swore by it for his aches and pains. Glad to hear your dog is recovered. Growing up on a farm, I have seen cattle with bloat but I didn’t realize that could happen to dogs, too. It appears that I haven’t tried Gin Fizz, according to my fragrance spreadsheet, which is surprising as it is typically the type of scent that I like. Will add to sample want list.

    • Musette says:

      Vluvvr, I was terrified the first time – but it is …no big deal… and it does work! I use it less now that the migraines have mostly disappeared (that’s one of the fabbo things about acupuncture (at least for me) – once they ‘fix’ whatever ails ya, it tends to stay fixed!

      and yes – it’s a leading cause of death in dogs! I had a 90 minute (or so) window – glad I was there and saw it, so I could get her in! xoxoxo

  • Dina C. says:

    Dear Anita,
    I loved today’s musings! I can picture you easily because of your wonderful, vivid descriptions. 😀 Back in the 90s I tried acupuncture for lower back pain, but the practitioner didn’t use counterirritation. I found that it helped my LBP some, but not as much as my eventual epidural steroid shot. I never let a scent’s fanciness keep me from wearing it on an average, ho-hum day. I’m doing a Costco run today with my young adult son, and I’m wearing Bottega Veneta with its plush suede. So glad you got some help with the blasted gutters!!

    • Dina C. says:

      P.S. I tried Lubin Gin Fizz just this year during one of Arielle Shoshana’s online Zoom Sniff events, and I loved it. It’s so freshy and zingy. It went right onto my wish list!

    • Musette says:

      Something about those gutters…. I felt like a ‘loser’ because they were so packed! Never mind that they’d never been cleaned since ‘we’ first moved in – something about the house being MINE now and those gutters so foul just freaked me out!

  • Cinnamon says:

    Oh, acupuncture, sigh. I can not think of a therapy I love more. It works. I knew someone years ago who lost feeling in one side of her body. All tests came back fine. Karate teacher sent her to ‘his’ acupuncturist (this was 1980s) and things started to change for the better. I don’t pair perfume with irritating jobs. No negative connotations wanted here. And someone else is going to have to do my front gutters (which need doing) as they are surrounded by electric wires. Raining and wet yet again (we’re promised it stops later). Will dig out the l’Artisan Bosphorous candle. Need some mega sweet to counter the grey and gloom.

  • Koyel says:

    Gin Fizz sounds amazing, but your brownies sound even more amazing. I like to listen to podcasts when I do unpleasant work, but I also like to wear elegant perfumes when performing decidedly inelegant tasks, and powerful ones when I feel small and weak.

  • Tara C says:

    Fortunately I don’t have a lot of dirty jobs to do in a condo, other than climbing out on the window ledge to wash the windows twice a year, but luxe perfume is always appropriate and a nice distraction. I usually go for Ubar. So glad to hear the girl is okay, even if your wallet isn’t. 🙂

    • Musette says:

      I’d do it again, in a heartbeat (and you know it!)… but… wait… “climbing out on a window ledge”??? erm.. how HIGH is this window ledge? where are your HOA fees going? PAY SOMEBODY TO DO THAT! xoxox

  • March says:

    Hmmmmm…. so we’re still working from home and I spend 972 hours a week on Zoom, it took awhile but I realized: I’m home! I can wear any f’ing perfume I WANT without gagging my coworkers. (Have I mentioned how tired of Zoom I am? I HAVE mentioned it, haven’t I?) It’s not quite the same as yard work, but I’ve reveled in the glorious miasma of ridiculously OTT fragrance while on a tedious work call, scents which are entirely unsuitable for the office business at hand. I’ve been wearing loads of vintage Poison, entirely too many sprays of YSL Paris, and various obnoxious Lutens including El Attarine (the sweaty one!), Cedre (cough syrup!) or Miel de Bois (unspeakable!), all applied liberally. Pretty sure my boys are sick of it, but the dogs aren’t complaining.

  • crikey says:

    oh yes! I heartily approve! But picking the right mix of grandeur and frivolity as counter-balance or counter-irritant to something horrid, hard, obnoxious or just deathly dull is tough. Gin Fizz sounds ideal!

    Fracas can be a good one for that too–it’s just so blousy and falling out of its dress and not giving a damn all the time. Lovely for dealing with Very Serious and Dull things, like lawyers or banks. Jubilation 25? Yep. Used that for packing up the house last time we moved. But then I always wear L’Heure Bleue for powerlifting competitions so I think i’m generally happy with contrary perfuming.

    p.s. scritches to The Girl.

  • Ann says:

    Oooh pick me!

    Great post – my counter irritation to my migraines is…vomiting.

    I’ve heard magnesium and B3 are good for migraines, also pairing shifts in temperature like taking either a freezing or hot cold shower paired with taking a brisk walk outside in either hot or cool weather.

    I guess I use perfume mostly as a counter irritant to mundane daily tasks.

    • Musette says:

      Omg. I KNOW with the vomiting! That’s why the docs sent me to an acupuncturist (and this was before it went mainstream!). B3 sounds like a good addition – and I can attest to the efficacy of magnesium glycinate (oxide just runs through us like water through a hose – it’s hard for humans to metabolise)

  • KimB says:

    Use perfume as counterirritant all the time. I work in health care and when I come home I will DRENCH myself in perfume to get odd smells out of my nose. Whatever is left on my skin the next day is given a quick sniff before I head into a less than pleasantly smelling space.

  • Tiara says:

    Brownies as payment for gutter cleaning? That’s a no brainer in my book. We cleaned up the yard on Saturday, creating a nice pile of leaves. Cold front moved in on Sunday with gusty winds so our pile of leaves ended up blocks away. Need to remember to douse myself in something next time to take my mind off yard work. Can’t imagine that will work but I’ll take you at your word.

    • March says:

      I’ve had Anita’s brownies, and even I might climb up on a roof for some. And I’m skeered of heights.

    • Musette says:

      it’s got to be the right thing, though – that was why Gin Fizz was so perfect. I can’t imagine Princess Grace cleaning gutters for anything other than a quick photo shoot, can you?


      • Filomena says:

        I wear perfume every time I clean. It makes the chores more bearable. Then again, I wear perfume all the time: every day to work, wherever I go, and every night to bed. The only time I don’t wear perfume us when I am sick: then I can’t abide it at all.

        • Musette says:

          for me, depends on the ‘sick’ – when I blew out my back I had scores of body creams on the night table – but a virus-type sick? Ew. No way!!!