Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Perfumery and other stuff

Actually, let's start with the other stuff, because by golly, I'm proud of this:

This is a piece of needlepoint I've been working on for over two years. I finished it this afternoon, and will be taking it to the framer tomorrow. I may even keep it. (I generally give my needlework away as gifts.) The kanji under the butterfly reads "Beautiful" - I will note that doing needlework of a kanji certainly ingrains it to your memory. I may have only a couple dozen kanji memorized, but "beautiful" is definitely one of them.

Next up is a counted cross-stitch peacock. I have no idea how long it's liable to take me.

Karate continues pretty well. We'll be shifting over to a new room next class because the Jazzercise studio is switching rooms. We've gotten a look at the new place, and as long as they finish by tomorrow night, it should be quite nice (they were still painting, and there were finishing nails all over the floor as of Thursday). I may bring a broom to class just in case, since a tetanus shot is not on my agenda for the evening. We had a good sparring night this last Tuesday, the first in quite a while. Once again, I wonder why defense is always the first thing to go when I'm not getting in good practice. Sensei D says he's almost back in decent enough shape to start sparring again, which would be awesome - it's been over a year since he had to stop, and as small as we are, it makes a big difference. We're also supposed to get two "new" students this week, which is even better. "New" is in quotes because one is a returnee - she trained with us three years ago, and then got into soccer. Now she's back, and with a good bit more maturity than before (8 to 11 makes a huge difference). The other is a TKD black belt who wishes to do Isshinryu. I haven't met him before, but Sensei TJ has. If both of them really join up and keep coming, it will make a huuuge difference to our classes, which would be wonderful.

And last, though not least, the perfumes. Explanation first: Rob got me a sampler set of perfumes from ZOMG Smells! for Christmas. Through the month of January, I was trying one a day and posting the results on Facebook. Then it occurred to me that I really needed to keep my opinions on the perfumes somewhere where I could find them again, for future orders and the like. So I thought I'd post them here. Plus a lot of the people on FB got a kick out of the reviews, because the sampler set in question is ZOMG Smells! "You're wearing WHAT?!!" - a set of their weirdest named perfumes. So for my records and your amusement, a list of perfumes and my opinions on them - keep in mind that perfumes can smell very different on different people, so what I love, you might hate and vice versa. I do recommend their sampler kits though, great fun!

In rough order from most loved to least:

Five Stars:

Sugar Dragon: Sweet and smoky - the site says sugared almonds, but to me this smells like rose incense. My runaway favorite out of this set, and the one I'm wearing daily now. When wearing it, I keep running my nose up my wrist, it just smells that good.

Kudzu Doom: Goes on as resinous pine, turns mellow and flowery over the course of the day. Another one that makes me look like I'm longing to eat my arms.

Four and a Half Stars:

Kuiper Belt Objects Unite in Vengeance: Dark cherry and smoke. Similar in kind to Sugar Dragon, and I like it very nearly as well.

Four Stars:

Seagull Eating a Starfish: Light, dry and gingery. (Described as beach and sea scents with a gingery whiff of starfish terror.) The lightest of the scents that I really like. I tend to use it on karate days, where I don't want to knock people over with a stronger scent.

Coronal Mass Ejection: Vanilla and orange on first application, turns into warm, sweet amber.

That Dream You Have Where You're Naked at School: Sharp citrus/green scent that turns to vanilla/orange as it settles. For some reason I rather liked this citrus when I didn't care for most of the others.

Three and a Half Stars:

Sexy Giant Isopod: Starts as a powder and incense smell and ends up as warm amber. I like the final scent much more than the beginning, but don't find the initial smells offensive. This is an experimental scent, and not part of the standard ZOMG offerings.

Pirate Queen (off duty): Smoke and burnt wood which mellows into cloves and incense.

Deified: A quite sweet scent, mostly vanilla notes. I found it pleasant, but uninteresting on me.

Brontosaurus Loves Triceratops: Not sweet at all - warm, grassy and dry start to finish. Would make a nice guy's scent, I think.

Three Stars:

Four Seasons in Mighty Contention over Trivial Matters: Starts off with a kick of anise, then for me mellows out into sweet amber. I gather this one is particularly sensitive to personal chemistry, smelling very different on different people. I rather liked the smell after about two hours, but knocked a point off the score for the strong anise at the start, which I didn't like at all.

Snail Fur: A light and woody scent going on which becomes a light, warm amber, which somehow smells fuzzy. Pleasant and light.

Swift-Tuttle's Shiny Butt: Light woods and resins. Nice enough scent, but it had no staying power on me - it was gone within a couple of hours.

Wrestling Tigers While Calling Your Mum Long Distance: Complex and powdery. It was hard for me to discern individual notes in this one. Okay, but unremarkable.

Two and a half Stars:

Lemonbomb: Pretty well as one would expect. Strong lemon to start with, with a slightly astringent smell in the background. It fades to a citrusy amber. Not horrible, just not my scent at all.

Soft Lavender Cake: Strong cake batter smell, fades in to the more herbal lavender scent. Really, really smells like baking cake - to the point where Aaron wandered through the room and wanted to know what was in the oven.

The Triumph of Direct Current over the Peril of Alternating Current: Starts as orange and pepper and mellows into a citrus/incense scent. I would have thought I'd like citrus scents (I love them in the house), but I just didn't care for most of them on me.

Smoky Black Chai: As advertised, strong spicy tea/chai smell. I like it once it fades a little, but there's a very strong initial kick of anise that I didn't care for at all.

Two Stars:

Requiem for the Juan de Fuca Plate: Minty! Starts as chocolate mint. Over time the chocolate fades out, leaving mint and incense. Apparently I just don't care for mint in my perfumes.

One and a half Stars:

Candy Mechanic: Chocolate with a whiff of machine oil. Oddly enough it's the chocolate I object to. It really does smell like fudge sauce, and I don't want to smell like an ice-cream sundae. If you do, this might be the scent for you.

Giant Robot Birthday Party: Coconut, vanilla, cake - and a metallic tinge, like a cake that's been baked in an old, scratched aluminum pan. Didn't care for this at all, the metallic tinge is very slight, but enough to put me off, and the main perfume scent is too sweet for my taste.

- there was nothing rated under one-and-a-half stars. My rough divisions are:
5 - love, love, love: want to smell myself all day long
4.5 - like a lot, will happily wear, but just don't obsess over like the fives
4.0 - like a lot, will wear willingly, but isn't as much "me"
3.5 - like pretty well, willing to wear, but doesn't excite me at all
3.0 - okay, willing to wear, but has some note that bothers me
2.5 - ehh. Not objectionable, but not something I want to wear
2.0 - ehhh again. Don't care for it, but not awful.
1.5 - don't like at all - not terrible smelling, but not good either
1.0 - actively dislike
0.5 - this is perfume? Why would anyone wear this?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Welcome to 2012!

Wow - has it really been Halloween since I last posted? I need to do better about updating here! It's really easy to get out of the habit, and the next thing you know it's months later and you haven'tput a thing on the blog. Oops!

Life has actually been fairly busy over here. Karate continues apace. All three of our white belts have passed their yellow belt tests within the last month, so congratulations to all of them! It's very nice to look at the class and see all that color. Now I just want to see a little less color again - a few new white belts, and our brown making the leap to black would make the winter just perfect.

I, personally, appear to be on a serious learning binge. Given that I'm always learning something (hence the name of the blog) this translates into a serious amount of new stuff coming down the pike. In karate, I'm plugging away at Urashi Bo, the longest of our kata, and my second-to-last 1-person kata to learn. I seem to be about a third of the way through right now, which means about the length of one of our normal kata. In karate-related, I'm plugging away at learning Japanese. This is seriously fascinating, and the more I learn, the more interesting it gets. It's very, very different from English, and it's probably going to take a while to achieve any fluency. Right now I can form and parse simple sentences. I can (for example) Ask how much something is, where something is, order food, introduce people, or discuss the weather (and have some prayer of understanding answers). We'll see how all this holds up the next time it gets put to use (2013 at the next World Tournament at the earliest).

In addition, somewhat inspired by the Japanese, I've been brushing up on my French, at which I used to be fairly fluent, but which I let lapse after never really having a real-life use for it. I may never speak French real-time, real-life to a French person, but at least I can read my Tintin and Asterx le Gaul books in the original (OMG there are soo many puns in the Asterix in French. It's awesome!)

We have a new choir director at church now, and he's exercising me pretty thoroughly too. Whereas the previous choir director seemed to be a little reluctant to have me sing, and would often only decide to have me do something reluctantly and at the last moment, the new guy seems to be more than eager to have me do solo work. Unfortunately the first thintg he's pulled out for me is gospel. I love good gospel, but I have never trained or sung gospel (unless you count two songs sung as part of my HS choir), and my usual style of presentation runs to the formal and somewhat stiff. I'm very afraid that me attempting gospel may be more pathetic than inspiring. Or possibly inspiring of laughter! I'll give it my best, but we'll have to see how it goes down. I'm very hopeful, though, that once he runs me through my paces on a couple of his choices, he might let me choose to sing something of my choosing, which would be really awesome. (Also something that's never happened at this church. I tend to do solo work when it's down to "We want to do this piece, and Cindy's the only one who can (hit the high B, handle that run, learn it that fast, etc.) which means I do a decent amount of solo work, but almost never stuff I love.)

In a complete aside, I did not, despite pre-planning for almost an entire year, get to do a duet of "Oh, Holy Night" at Christmas. For some reason I did not quite fathom, the Music Committee decided that the ladies who did the piece three years ago should repeat this year - and then those ladies decided, when it got to be the week before Christmas and they were still having serious performing problems, that they would bow out and not sing. At which point it was too late for Cindy and Cindy to get back in. So bummer, I still didn't get my shot, but at least we broke the standing tradition of "It's not Christmas until somebody mangles "Oh, Holy Night"! Seriously, if after this much effort I had had to listen to a bad rendition, I think I would have burst into tears.

And the last bit of new learning for the new year, and my favorite of all? The flute! My wonderful sons, with their father's collaboration, got me a flute of my very own for Christmas. (My precioussssss!) Despite various family medical emergencies (now over, thank goodness), I have practiced every single day since. I'm up to about an octave-and-a-half of range, though I still have some problems with flipping registers unintentionally. Recognizable (if breathy) music can be heard! I've wanted to play the flute since middle school, and it would never have occurred to me to ask for one for Christmas, but I really, really love it it pieces.