Vintage mini bottle with an orange bow-tie and a label illustrated with stylized carnations, and real pink edged white ones.

Garofano means carnation, and this little Italian beauty–first produced in 1930, and reissued for gift sets in 1970–is exactly that, but amplified.

Jasmine sparkles up the carnation’s already sweet and zingy opening, and then the heady middle is augmented by roses, making it even more rich. The bottom is the best part, with added cloves (wild carnations are called clove-pinks) and pepper bringing out the floral spice.

My schnozz is healing!
I get all the facets, even the base notes (which are spicy enough to be worn by even the most alpha gents)–they’re just at 50% volume, rather than full blast.
Right now, I get two hours from it, three inches off the wrist–but I’m sure the performance is at least double that.

One of my favorites from the Borsari 1870 collection.


Oasis’ cover of The Jam’s Carnation jam.


A leather plague doctor mask with monocle.

My short for NYCMidnight’s MicroFiction contest took first place this round!
100 words in 24 hours. I was assigned Historical Fiction, Closing a Window, and the word “buckle.”


Greymalkin hissed from his perch on the sill. Clara shushed him.

The chirurgeon passed below, pushing his cart of medical supplies. His black beak mask and long buckled coat made him a carrion crow. He smelled as foul.

A Latin phrase rang across the street, chastising Clara for the devil’s familiar in her window.
The new priest was an avenging angel in white–the fathers washed their robes in piss to keep them clean and holy.

Clara shooed Greymalkin inside, and closed the sash. The doctor said homes with cats didn’t get the Plague, and she’d outlived five priests.


Lavenda Alpina

Tiny Borsari 1870 bottle with pine tree graphic label, and sprig of fresh lavender.

Lavender is distinct and multi faceted–a good one for testing the post-Covid nose.

The guy likes the soothing aspects–I put a drop of oil on his dryer sheets sometimes–to him it’s relaxing and clean.
I find it invigorating and spicy, a refreshing addition to lemon cookies and roasted potatoes.

First out in 1929, unisex Lavenda Alpina opens sharp, soapy with a vodka note, floral herbs with camphor, some alpine fir aromatics. I get all this, thank goodness, and from the source, too, when I rub the plant leaves.
The eau settles down quickly to the skin–but my sense of smell is definitely on the fritz, because I know this has better projection than what I’m getting right now–with sugary citrus and licorice feels. This is my favorite part of lavender fragrances, the bright sweet-savory-spicy heart, almost gourmand-ish. (What Would Love Do? by LUSH captures this gorgeously.)
Sadly, I get almost nothing of the base notes. There should be a bit of moss roughing up the bottom, and the soft woods–a bit resinous, like sweet balsam–that dried lavender flowers hold for years, are just not coming to me yet.

I’ll keep at it.

Lavender tips from my garden, cobalt bottle of essential oil, and a dried herb wand with purple ribbon, handmade by a friend using plants from a local pick-your-own farm.


I love this little-known Kinks tune, a bonus track on an album remaster.


Pooka sniffing a micro Borsari 1870 bottle with pale bow and amber eau.

Gelsomino is Italian for jasmine.
This vintage beauty from Borsari 1870 is a good reference–I’ve reached for it often this week as I attempt to retrain my nose–first formulated in 1930.

Jasmine is the soprano of the white flowers–the violin, while neroli is the viola and tuberose a cello–gorgeous when on pitch, shrill when off.
Jasmine can be milky, too–lactonic–with clouds in the tea that make everything soft, and also very indolic with skanky “Pollinate me, Baby” invitations.

I usually find elements of apple, matcha, and the top lemony opening of roses here, bright cheerful nectar–and I finally do again, though they’re muted. I have to shove my face into my wrist, when I remember it being loud as a struck bell.

So yay, my sense of smell is coming back intact, just slower than I’d like. But hey, I’ll take what I can get. Baby steps.
And sinus medicine.

Borsari 1870 Fragrance Collection, packaged in a gold edged black tome that holds 24 mini bottles`. A gift shop gem from the 1970s, this Italian floral sampler makes a great reference library.


We learned the traditional Chinese “Jasmine Song” in elementary school. The amazing Song Zuying is joined here by Celine Dion, who takes it to Vegas.
(More sopranos.)

Scent Therapy

Fresh spearmint, lavender and roses, cloves in a mortar and pestle, half a lemon, and mini bottles of Hypnotic Poison, Chanel No. 5, and Cool Water.

Losing my sense of smell has been the worst part of this plague, for which I am very grateful.
I got over the debilitating symptoms quickly–and I’m sure being vaxxed had a lot to do with that–but now I feel like the world is somehow flatter.

Luckily, there’s a lot of info about how to recover the sense of smell after COVID-19. (This bit from npr is a good listen, and here’s a read from BBCnews.)
Most medical experts suggest sniffing four distinct strong scents daily, several times, to retrain the nose-to-brain relationships–a citrus, a floral, a spice and a menthol.

So I’ve been at that this week, with what I can rustle up from my garden and kitchen cupboards, and also adding three iconic fragrances with very different profiles–an aldehydic (Chanel No. 5), a vanilla gourmand (Hypnotic Poison), and a synthetic aromatic (Cool Water).

This morning I definitely got some of the cool camphor from the mint.
Now whether it’s my diligent sniff therapy, or the massive dose of decongestant I swallowed this morning–who knows?
But I’ll take it.


Black Eyed Peas keep it stinky.

Smoky Perfume – a playlist

A wisp of incense smoke on a textured dark background.

This whole not-being-able-to-smell thing is rather distressing, like the world has lost a dimension.
But I’m getting better enough to be bored and fidgety, and I haven’t lost my hearing, so–

Here’s a playlist of songs, from my ramblings on scents that are all tagged as having smoky notes. Many get their smoke from incense, some from black tea; labdanum–rock rose–can have a marvelous creosote layer, and gunpowder gives edgy darkness.

Some of the songs are harsh, some soft, but they all have an intimate bluesy smoke vibe.
(And get vaxxed, and take your vitamin D.)

Absolue Pour Le SoirHoney Bee by Muddy Waters
A City On FireRooms on Fire by Stevie Nicks
NorneIf I Had a Heart by Fever Ray
O, Unknown!Blood Makes Noise by Suzanne Vega
Breath of GodJust Breathe by Pearl Jam
Land of WarriorsTake out the Gunman by Chevelle
FateI Put a Spell on You by Samantha Fish
TimbuktuTimbuktu Fasso by Fatoumata Diawara & Amine Bouhafa
MemoirInsanity by Emaan Zadjali
EncensSmoke & Mirrors by Gotye
Spice Must FlowCapricorn by 30 Seconds to Mars
La Fin du MondeUntil the End of the World by U2
Everything & NothingNothin’ by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
LuiGentle Groove by Mother Love Bone

Be Delicious Fresh Blossom

Chrome DKNY mini apple filled with pale pink eau.

“It gets better,” a teacher once told me, and I clung to those words even through college.

Fresh Blossom doesn’t.

Starts summer school with fruit flavored sanitizing cleanser and Pert shampoo. The roses soon call attendance, sharp and artificial on wire stems, loud enough to make one wince.
A few hours later, the florals settle to apple woods, a smear of Yankee Candle MacIntosh that stains the clothes.

This one gets a passing grade only for the longevity.


Wussy’s cover of the Beatles needs more play–it’s got a great Cowboy Junkies hits The Runaways feel.

Fiori d’Amore

Bvlgari promo card embossed with Allegra glass candy motif, and pink rose taffy and red hard candy.

“A magnificent floral expressing the loving exaltation of receiving a giant bouquet of roses” is some of the silliest ad copy ever written.

So… Yay, roses!
Woody tea hybrids with what is supposed to be a fancy new raspberry accord but actually smells of salted lemons, in a fun tequila shots vibe.
The fruity notes sweeten up as it drifts down to the skin over an hour or two. Not a cheap date for the performance, but good on hot summer nights spent eating spicy food with the fingers.


Here’s a smooth take on a St. Germain classic.

Yellow Diamond

Miniature Versace bottle with yellow cut gem cap, in front of a lemon, with scattered yellow wood sorrel blooms.

Lemon candy and wildflowers, but weirdly fragile and sharp at the same time.
Gets powdery on the drydown, sweet golden pollen with a bit of musk that drifts off the skin now and again–pretty, but itchy in the throat–for three hours.

Good for summer cocktail parties.
Wear with a sundress and sinus medication that doesn’t react with alcohol.


This one is also fragile and pretty–

Paris – Biarritz

Chanel promo card and sample spray.

Absolut Citron vodka and green bell peppers an inch off the skin for an hour or so.
Unisex and pleasant–a polite one to wear on the train, but nothing special.


This song IS something special.
Stone Gossard (of Pearl Jam and Mother Love Bone) and Adam Levine did an amazing cover of this one at the I Am The Highway tribute concert. It’s worth tracking down for a listen–I’m not always a fan of Maroon 5 but Adam has a range as broad as Chris Cornell, and this tune needs it–that whole show was amazing, but today is rainy and gray and I just need the original.