Happy Holidays!

Happy holidays, everyone. His Highness, my Imperial Teutonic Overlord, and I wish you a holiday season filled with peace, joy, fangs, fur, fat paws, the best of memories, endless laughter, good food, great health, and much love. May your new year be filled with the same.

Have you all been crazily busy with holiday and family festivities, whether Hanukkah, Christmas, or something else? On my end, I’m working through the details for the year-end summation and “Best Of” list, the writing of which, honestly, feels as though it’s never going to end. Never.Ever.Going.To.End. Part of it is my difficulty in summarizing — succinctly — 20+ fragrances, some of it is due to my obsessive-compulsive need to re-test all the fragrances on the list to figure out their precise rankings, trying to juggle all that with holiday planning, and then dealing with His Highness’ ongoing illness as well.

He’s always had three chronic health issues that have required a lot of time and expense to manage, but his hip dysplasia became so crippling and so awful towards the end of November that I thought I may have to put him down. You can probably imagine how well I mentally dealt with that, especially as my boy isn’t all that old (only 8.5 years old), so I’m grateful for these rather miraculous injections called Adequan that he’s now getting twice a week, each and every week, for the next 6 months. They have really helped, not only in returning the most basic mobility to him so that he can hold himself up to poo but also in giving him a new lease on life generally and not being crippled with agonizing, excruciating pain. They’re expensive, like $100 a shot, but His Hairy Germanness is worth every bit of it to me. Here are some photos of him on Friday, recuperating from his latest twice-weekly jab into the muscle, lounging on my bed, his paws going this way and that as he awaits his chest rubs, kisses, massage, and my worshipful adoration:

His Highness’ fangs.

Bottom line, I’m working on the year-end summation and “Best Of” list, but it won’t be posted before Christmas as I had hoped and planned, and it’s due to a variety of factors. I would tell you to take it up with His Royal Fangness, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Even on a cocktail of pain sedatives, he can still be quite… erm… mouthy and opinionated. (German Shepherds are extremely vocal and talkative but, when you add ill health and grinding bone-on-bone pain to the mix, their “conversations” can sometimes be on the grumpy side.)

In terms of holiday plans, my family has apparently designated me as one of the chefs for the turkey this year, but I’m relieved that I’m not the sole chef as I had originally thought, nor that it will be a goose as I had mistakenly understood. (It takes time, work, and a lot of attention to cook a moist goose which is not dry but also has its fat fully rendered, so, thank god, that’s not in my future.) Truth be told, the thing I’m most excited about is the chestnut-fruit-sage-sausage stuffing (one of my personal specialities) and, above all else, the Sticky Toffee Pudding. I get the latter from Trader Joe’s, it’s only available once a year, it sells out quickly, and it’s one of my favourite things ever.

Before then, and during my seemingly interminable re-immersement into all the noteworthy fragrances that I’ve written about this year, I binged watched The Crown on Netflix (so damn good!), caught up on the Australian A Place To Call Home on Acorn and the newest season of Top Chef, and re-watched for the umpteenth time my beloved Black Hawk Down, The Birdcage (Robin Williams, you’re never forgotten), and When Trumpets Fade about the Battle of Hürtgen Forest in 1944, as well as parts of The Wire and Band of Brothers. (You have to do something while sniffing your arm for hours and days on end.) Several good Netflix finds amidst all the channel-surfing of the last four months: Mindhunter, Manhunt: Unabomber, and Wanted, the often hilarious black comedy/drama, Australian Netflix series which is a mix of Thelma and Louise and The Odd Couple.

So, what about all of you? What have you been up to lately, even before the holiday deluge? What presents are you most excited to give to a loved one? What holiday dish are you either in charge of or most looking forward to eating? If you’re celebrating alone, how are you indulging yourself?

If you are celebrating alone, I hope you will take a bit of time to pamper yourself and engage in self-care because the holiday season can be quite difficult on a lot of people, and you wouldn’t be alone if you felt that way. Sometimes, the emphasis on endless materialistic consumption and the ads blaring everywhere with a very canned, artificial, sanitized, and perfectionistic idea of holiday cheer can be quite depressing. Every year, I’m struck by this endless fight between expectation and reality, between Madison Avenue consumerism, aspirational artifice, and the less-than-ideal cold reality for those who don’t have a lot. No-one’s life can measure up to the ads. NO-ONE’S! So, if you are feeling alone and blue on Christmas day, write to me. I mean it. Time zone issues and my need for occasional sleep notwithstanding, I’ll respond as soon as I can. Everyone thinks that Christmas is the best and happiest time of year, but it isn’t for everyone. It can be the blackest time for some. So, if you’re feeling alone, demoralized, isolated, or desperate, reach out to someone, anyone, even if it’s just silly old me, okay?

Happy Holidays, everyone.

55 thoughts on “Happy Holidays!

  1. You are most definitely not silly!

    Wishing you a peaceful, happy Christmas. You have the best gift – your dear HG is with you still and doing well on his miracle jabs. Good luck with the cooking and enjoy your feast.

    • One of the things I wish for this year is that your Caspie could be helped by something like Adequan. I think of him often when I go in for one of The Hairy German’s injections. I know what you’re going through, sweetheart, and just how painful it is. From the bottom of my heart, I hope that Casper recovers this year and that you’re given more time with him.

      Much, much, MUCH love, my dear, and obeisance to the furry white paws as well.

  2. Wishing you and his highness a wonderful Merry Christmas!

    I am getting a one week break off and I am taking this time to go through and finish using up as much of my perfume samples as I can. I love the idea of downsizing and I don’t want to keep so many samples around (not even for reference). I am probably going to downsize my full bottle perfume collection next year too.

    I shudder to think how I am going to go through my House of Oud samples (I did not care for any of them, some were downright ghastly). Maybe a room spray or a bath fragrance? I thought of gifting but it’s already a used item so that doesn’t seem right.

    Mindhunter was awesome. I’ve also just finished watching Godless on Netflix and it was a wonderful and beautifully made western that is binge worthy. I have ManHunt saved on my Netflix list and I am planning to watch that next.

    • “Downsizing” is one of those ideas that continuously hits perfumistas but which, imo, is harder to achieve in reality than in hope. So good luck, Gunmetal! 😉 😛

      I’m so glad to find another Mindhunter fan!

      Godless is the Western one, isn’t one? I haven’t seen it, but if you recommend it so highly, I will definitely give it a look.

      As for Manhunt, it becomes even more fascinating if one reads the back-story about MK Ultra, Harvard at that time, and the account of another brilliant PHd who was at Harvard within a few years of the Unabomber and who *also* left civilization for the wilds of Montana and endless isolation. What’s really interesting is how his analysis and account support the view of Ted Kaczynski not being actually insane, despite the legal defense put forth. Far from it, actually, despite the utter heinousness and brutality of his crimes. What was most interesting to me about Manhunt, though, was the same thing that lay at the heart of Mindhunter: the development of a psychological profile and how the most errant of clues led to the understanding of a mindset that was previously unfathomable to both law enforcement and modern society. Like Mindhunter, Manhunt also has a very underdog approach and is completely based on actual history.

      Anyway, Happy Holidays, my dear. Hurray for one full week off!

    • Since I love Mindhunter: Unabomber but have also been long intrigued by the Ted Kaczynski case in general, I highly recommend reading this fascinating, disturbing, long look at him via The Atlantic. It’s a 2000 article from the Harvard PhD chap whom I referenced in my comment above:

      What interested me was not so much the issue of the Harvard curriculum resulting in a “prevailing intellectual atmosphere of anti-technological despair,” or anything about the anti-technological/anti-intellectual pessimistic ideological atmosphere in general but, rather, how two men could end up the same way in eschewing modern society and opting for the wilds, as well as the more specific, Ted Kaczynski-related issue of the government’s MK Ultra project and the ways that the CIA used famous institutions to further its research into mind experiments. Again, I’m not saying that any of that excused the Unabomber or his utterly horrific campaign of terror — because it doesn’t and he bears sole responsibility — but it certainly is an interesting historical backdrop to both him and the series. Don’t read the article until you’ve finished watching everything on Netflix.

    • I have been shamelessly using them in the one place my disappointed (and sometimes vindictive) mind feels they belong: in the bathroom. Sometimes I’m at a loss deciding which smells better -the odor they’ve been employed to mask or the juice itself. All too often poo rises to the occasion and floats to victory. As for scents containing the white musk that I’ve developed sensitivity to, I tthrow them away outright or leave the bottles on top of outdoor trash bins where someone more appreciative can retrieve them.

      • I cannot help but laugh at this — all of it — including the fact that you use them as anti-poo scent shields and, also, that I may have finally encountered someone who hates laundry musk as much as I do. Hahaha 😀 😛

        • I must say. I find alot of perfumes do a better job of making the bathroom/ toilet smell better then the commercial toilet fresheners. Even the original 4711 cologne (which i like to use as a room spray in general).

  3. I hope you have a peaceful and healthy Christmas with your wonderful Teutonic Overlord. Don’t work tooooo hard on the review and much as we all devour your reviews………we can read a few less words. What a kind caring message you send to everyone and I agree it can be a difficult time for a LOT of people. ( We are having a very low key Christmas with no presents, we all have enough STUFF!) Thankyou for all your reviews over the year, so glad you’re back. Much much love and may you both have a healthy and happy new yearxx

    • Presents are never the key to a special holiday, but loved ones, laughter, special moments, and not feeling alone really are, imo. I’m sure yours will be meaningful without any emphasis on commercial gifts, Katie, but what I hope above all else is that it is happy, the sort of happiness that fills one up with a glow when one remembers it.

      Are you cooking anything fun or special? Or even not so special but pastry-filled? Whenever I speak to someone in England at the end of the year, I have to strangle the almost fervent wish/plea for them to send me Beef Wellington or a pastie. If either one is part of your holiday festivities, think of me. I’ll be drooling all the way over here. 😉 😛

      Have a very warm, happy, special holiday, my dear, and may 2018 be a better year on every level than 2017. (Dear GOD, may it be better than 2017!!! What an utter ****-zone this year was!)

      • Thank you for replying to my message Kafka – yes I did make pastry as it happens – with Venison as a filling. It was really lovely even tho I say so myself. I wanted a change from roast bird! Of course our little Pepsi (cat) had venison too….much cleaning of whiskers afterwards….animals bring us such joy. Happy New Year Kafka and may it be a better one. Much love xxx

  4. Happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year! I am spending the days with my partner here in Cologne, on 27th we head for Berlin for a few days; New Years Eve will be celebrated with friends in Göttingen. So busy and full.
    Thanks to you and your ever invigorating, intriguing and detailed reviews: I think all readers enjoy them very much indeed! You have turned my attention to so many perfumes and scents (I am wearing vintage Shalimar at the moment!) and I respect and admire your reviews greatly: so a big “Dankeschön” from my end here!
    Also, last word, I was very touched that you invited readers who are lonely to get in touch with you: you have a big heart: bless you!

    • It sounds like a wonderful plan for the Christmas to New Year week, OnWingsofSaffron! I hope the weather in Germany isn’t too cold during this time.

      Separately, a big hurrah that Shalimar worked for you. I remember you having some trepidation about the small Umbrella/Parapluie (?) bottle you were buying blindly and whether it would suit you. I’m delighted that you ended up liking it enough to wear during the holidays!

  5. Happy holidays to you! Waiting for your wonderful reviews and more blogs on all types of fragrances – new and vintage. Thanks to you I am learning so much about perfumes. Please, keep doing it!

    • Aww, thank you, Marina. I’m so glad to hear you’ve found the reviews to be helpful or informative. As for the holidays, may yours be happy and filled with laughter. And here’s hoping 2018 is a good year for us all.

  6. Happy Holidays to you and yours my dear. It sounds like you got the best present of the year with some relief for your most beloved. Let’s hope that this chaotic year ends with a brighter look towards the new year. xoxoxoxox

    • YES, for all of both of our sanities and sakes, let’s hope the next year is brighter or, at the very least, less stressful and turbulent.

      Merry Christmas, my darling friend. I’m so happy to celebrate another year of friendship with you. You always bring a smile and cheer to the everyone whose life you touch. Your warmth and kindness are very special to me. xoxo

  7. All love and good cheer to you and your magnificent fur baby! He is a gorgeous dog and I hope he has many more years to enjoy increasingly good health. I am wondering if feeding Raw -on and off the bone – might also allow Nature to reset his system (gobs of collagen (chicken feet!), fresh proteins,enzyme, etc.). Plus, one good multi-mineral a day to cover that side of things. Please let us know how he is progressing. I wish you great good luck and support of nature <3

    • Love and good cheer to you as well, Samantha! 🙂

      Regarding RAW, I’m actually a huge, huge believer in its benefits and think it’s the best possible diet when circumstances allow. Unfortunately, in the case of His Highness, numerous allergies make RAW impossible and he’s allergic to chicken (among many other things). But I did try it before I learnt that, back when he was a puppy. To my surprise, he actually wasn’t hugely keen on raw food, particularly the chicken feet (lol!), though he did love the tripe and cow intestines. There is a fantastic RAW store just a few blocks from my house, in fact. But, as I said, his allergies are pretty bad and that is one of the 3 chronic issues I’ve been dealing with for a years now. Personally, I think auto-immune issues underlie two of them (perianal fistulas being the 2nd), but I’ll spare you His Highness complicated medical history. Bottom line, I greatly appreciate your suggestion because it is excellent advice for a *LOT* of dogs and canine issues.

      Only someone who is owned by a dog and is a hardcore dog lover knows about RAW. So, may I ask who is your Overlord and Master? 😉

  8. All holiday cheer to you and yours, and hugs to the German. My miracle 16yo yellow lab Lucy is still getting around wonderfully with Adequan, in fact so well that I wish my vet would give me a few injections of it. But he is strangely reluctant to assume my medical care
    I have pretty well opted out of all holiday stuff except the parts that I enjoy, which are limited to music and a Christmas tree at this point. I’ll be spending Christmas Day making food sacks and distributing them in areas where homeless people hang out in my city. I have also opted out of more formal observances for the homeless like the ones that the shelters put on, simply because I can’t tolerate the endless tedious discussion involved. We will have plenty of things to discuss in 2018 if we want anything to change, and meanwhile I want to do simple practical things.
    So, in summation, I will be having a quiet and lovely Christmas and maybe even a mildly useful one.
    Can’t wait for your review, but don’t drive yourself crazy. It will be wonderful because it always is.

    • I admire your work so much, FeralJasmine, and you for it. I am certain you have brought light, cheer, and comfort to a great number of people, this Christmas and past ones.

      I have to say, I had a huge chuckle at your comment regarding your vet somehow being strangely reluctant not to give YOU Adequan. ROFL!!! 😀 😀 (Joking aside, I actually have wondered why humans don’t get it. Half of His Highness’ medications are actually and mainly human ones, like Tramadol, Prednisone, Atopica, etc. And it’s not as though they don’t test everything on animals first for human pills. Plus, Adequan is really quite remarkable, although I was a bit upset on Christmas Eve when HRH was clearly in pain and struggling again.)

      Anyway, I also smiled at your comment about you having no patience for the endless discussions at the shelters. That’s very you; forget the endless chatter and just get on with things, particularly the practical things that help right away.

      How did things go with the Sicilian Vanilla?

      Give a kiss to Lucy and the boys for me.

  9. Happiest of Holidays Beloved Kafka!!! All the Love in the world, to you, your Hairy Overlord, and ALL your readers! Thank you for your kind words to everyone who feels alone, or down during the season. Bern and I had such a horrible last year we didn’t do anything, because we were just to frightened to participate, given his precarious health situation. I just said to him last night that this was the first Christmas in a long time that I was actually enjoying. Probably because he is doing so much better. (Not entirely out of the woods, but he’s come a long way!) I was deployed to the Gulf War on December 25th,1990, and for over a decade I could not even look at Holiday lights without triggering flashbacks! I just want to let anyone reading this, know that I second your sentiment that if you don’t like the holidays, it’s perfectly ok. They are indeed not for everyone every year. I fervently wish for Happy Holidays, even someday, for everyone. Merry Christmas from me, Bern, Lululovemachine, and our new puppy Vladimer Rasputin! xxxxxooooooo

    • I’m really sorry to hear that Bern had such a horrible time of things last year, Anastasia, and also to hear about your own post-war experiences. I’m glad to hear that both things are behind you and Bern but I’m particularly happy to hear that this was the first Christmas in a long time that you’ve enjoyed. Three cheers for that, and knocks on wood that things continue in this light.

      I’ve already talked about puppy Vladimir Rasputin on the blog’s FB page, so I’ll just say now for you to give him a kiss from me. And I send you a warm hug with wishes for continued good days and months ahead.

  10. Have a wonderful holiday with your family and especially with that gorgeous German fellow. Give him a special ear scratch from me. I’m lighting Diptyque holiday candles and cooking, of course!

    • I will give him a special ear scratch from you and more, my dear. Happy Holidays, A.! I hope your celebrations were merry, that the food was delicious (of course it was!), and that the upcoming year ends up being a great one for you and your loved ones.

  11. Dear Kafkaesque, So thrilled to hear you found an effective treatment for your furry friend. Your stuffing sounds amazing. And I’m very much looking forward to your Best Of list. Take all the time you need with it. I relish the attention to detail you give each piece, as I’m sure your other readers do, too. Happy Holidays!

    • Ha, you’re wonderfully sweet about relishing the details, Lizbee, but I’m pretty sure quite a large number of people wish that I would just get on with it and stop being so verbose! 😛 😉 Heh. Knowing that makes your comment all the sweeter to me, so thank you. I know succinctness is not one of my virtues, so I’m touched.

      Anyway, onto more important things: Happy Holidays! Have you had a good one? Any cool or cold Christmas-y weather where you are? I don’t know anything about you, but I hope you’ll feel free or comfortable enough in the new year to stop by more often so that I can change that. In the meantime, happy 2018 to come! May it be a marvelous year for you.

  12. A very Merry Christmas to you and yours, and a New Year full of love and fur as well! Yes please, may 2018 be much better in many ways for all of us! I am glad to hear you’ve found a way to help your beautiful German Shepherd feel better, and hope he gets along much better in the next year as well.

    Sticky Toffee Pudding, hmm…I’ve not tried it but it sounds good. I’ll look for it next time I’m at Trader Joe’s, and if it’s sold out I’ll get some next year. For my usual year’s end feast I’m keeping it simple with a chicken stuffed with fresh thyme and lemons, roasted over a bed of sliced onions. The onions caramelize a bit and mingle with the juices from the chicken. Then there’s the traditional black-eyed peas for good luck (need lots of that), and corn bread.

    Mandy Aftel’s “The Art of Flavor” is finally on my reading list for the holidays. I’ve got an array of her Chef’s Essences by now. Thank you very much for introducing me to these, since they have added so much of that “something special” to my cooking! The cardamom spray is fabulous on roasted root vegetables, and was the crowning touch in some pumpkin soup I made recently. Experimenting with flavor is a goal of mine for the new year, one of the things that will help me keep my brain alive.

    You are very kind to reach out to people who are lonely this time of year. It reminds me there are many, many people struggling out there, that we’re not unique in our problems, and that we need to stay focused on the things that are most important to us. Here’s to family, friends, fellowship, furry companionship, love, good health, and all good things!

    • Oh, your chicken sounds wonderful, Holly!!! You know, I think a similar sort of recipe is a personal favourite of the grand master chef Thomas Keller. The one he does (if he’s the right chef I’m thinking of) involves actually putting a lot of stale bread crusts under the onions which lie under the chicken. It not only serves to elevate the chicken even further for dripping (and non-grease) purposes but the drippings end up merging with the onion juices to create the best sort of moist stuffing at the end of the cooking period.

      As for your pumpkin soup, the Aftel cardamom spray sounds like the crowning touch, indeed! I love pumpkin soup. Especially with a dollop of sour cream on it. But I shall try it with some cardamom next time and think of you.

      How are the kitties, Holly?

      Also, quite separately, I know you love some British shows (e.g., Foyle’s War) a lot, just as I do. Have you seen “The Crown”? I have the feeling you’d love it.

      • I found Thomas Keller’s simple roast chicken video, and learned a couple of things to improve my process! The onion and bread crust recipe sounds like a delicious variation.

        Thanks for asking about my furry feline duo. Norbert and Charlie are best buddies, both about three years old, and my faithful assistants and overseers. They let me think I am their queen.

        I’ve not seen “The Crown”, but I’ll check it out. Thank you also for suggesting “Midsomer Murders”. What a great series! I’m enjoying it very much.

  13. Hello my dearest K, and many excellent puppy-cuddles to his highness! So glad you have found something that is helping manage the hip situation. You are so lucky to have each other and the pics are adorable, thanks for sharing 🙂

    We swapped snow for sunshine this Christmas, so I will send a proper reply in the new year. Until then, using a little precious wifi to wish you, his furriness, and all the extended Kafka clan the very best of the holiday season! May yours be filled with love, happiness and health. A very fragrant new year to all!

    love, xxxxxxxxxx

    • Thank you SO much for using what little precious WiFi you had to wish me a Merry Christmas and to write your lovely note! Thank you, honey. It was very sweet of you.

      I really hope the reference to “precious WiFi” means that you’re not just in the sun but in some glorious exotic, far-flung sunny island region where you’re currently being pampered with tropical cocktails on white beaches. But even if you’re in less tropical or exotic confines, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas day and that the remainder of your 2017/December month is a really happy one. May 2018 bring you all the most joyous things, my dear. Thank you for spending another year with me. xooxox

    • Lucky you for having a White Christmas, James. I’m so envious. (But, perhaps, not so lucky if you have to be the one to shovel your way out the next morning? 😉 lol) But Merry Christmas, my dear. I hope it was a fantastic day and that you had a lot of laughs and warm times with your family. Happy New Year to come, as well. May it be a happy, healthy, peaceful, and joy-filled 2018 for you and those you love.

  14. Dear K,

    Miss Sootie and I are sending you and your readers our best holiday wishes for a splendid 2018 and beyond.

    May you and all you love be filled with happiness, good health, prosperity, and continued never-ending love in all its manifestations –
    from the indescribable telepathic rapport between human and animal companion/soulmate
    the warmth that radiates from the heart and envelops the senses
    when a truly gifted artist blesses us with an offering.

    And may you always find peace of mind and the ability to rest in a depth of tranquility that no amount of turmoil can ever reach.

    • All of these wonderful, emotional, caring, and sensitive warm wishes back to *YOU,* Lhamo55, along with my thanks for your kind thoughts.

      But I have to talk about something much more important: who is Miss Sootie and why have you never told me about her before???! She is clearly *your* Overlord or… um… Overlord Mistress, I should say. I want all the details. We who worship and do obeisance before The Temple of The Four Paws (be they feline or canine) have a duty to celebrate our masters on high. 😉 😛 (Yes, I admit that I’m being a wee bit silly — and I may be experiencing a small sugar rush from a bit too much strawberry rhubarb pie and hot chocolate — but I am genuinely interested and I do love to hear about other people’s Overlords.)

    • To you, as well, dear Filomena. Thank you for passing another year with me. May our next one be a joyous, happy, peaceful, and less stressful year. (Also, a nicely scented one with some good vintage fragrances to boot. 😉 )

  15. Dear Kafka, all the very best wishes to you, His Highness and your family after a difficult year. A. sends kisses to you and HH. I have not been well for quite some time now, the after effects of a bad fall with Her Highness. We just returned from a lovely break in crazy Dubai, aka New York on steroids (minus the dirt and crime). I had to think of you when I saw a big advertisment there at the side of the road: New: Omo washing powder oud-scented!
    What a good news His Highness is responding so well to the adequan. My neighbours have a male GD who has been on so many meds for half of his life, but at 11 he is still going strong.
    Business wise we have been extremely busy as well, opening our first studio in the US.
    In all of this it seems my love for perfume is at an all time low. I didn’t feel compelled to visit any perfume or even attar shop in Dubai, and I go unscented days in a row. I wonder if it will return. The only scents I enjoy sometimes are the natural ones (April Aromatics) and Sultan Pasha’s attars and the rose one by Annick Goutal. Funny how a love like this can leave you just like that..
    We are enjoying the Crown immensely too, viewing the Vergangenheit episode yesterday, one that I think you would find thought provoking (of you haven’t already seen it). I don’t know if you have netflix Peaky Blinders, it is one of our favourites. I enjoyed Lion, a movie about an Indian boy finding his way home immensely, maybe you will too with your love for India.
    Lots of hugs!

    • My dearest Hamamelis, I’m *so* sorry to hear about your fall with Her Highness and how long it took for you to recover. It sounds serious, and I hope the long recovery wasn’t too difficult or painful. Was it during Schutzhund or IPO work? How is Angela Merkel doing?

      I smiled at your mention of the Vergangenheit episode of The Crown. You know me all too well, darling. I actually knew quite a lot about Edward/David’s background from before, but one or two of the details actually made me blink. For example, visiting the SS schools. I didn’t know that one at all — and my historical/academic focus actually was the SS for years and years. Granted, not the SS as it pertained to exiled British royal princes, but even so. I always thought David/Edward was utterly vile, petty, malicious, petulant, spoilt, bilious, psychologically limited at a juvenile stage, and a morally decrepit human being but, even so… good lord. The SS school visits and something else in the episode really made me twitch. One other thing that I’ll say about the show is that it has made me reconsider some of my views on Prince Philip and Alan “Tommy” Lascelles (the all-knowing Private Secretary played by Pip Torrens), both of whom I’m viewing in a better light. But I doubt anything could make me change my less than admiring views of Princess Margaret. Hmph.

      In terms of Peaky Blinders, it’s funny you should mention that. I was thinking just yesterday that I should give it another go. I tried when it first came out but, somehow, it failed to click with me. Perhaps it was too dark or grim for how I was feeling back then? I don’t know. I do know that my parents and some friends adore it. Since you say it is one of your favourites, I will give it another shot.

      With regard to perfume and the loss of passion, I think that is quite a normal, common thing that all perfumistas go through at some point. Sometimes it lasts a few months, sometimes a year, sometimes more. But almost EVERYONE I know who has a deep, abiding passion for perfume goes through a period where they need — essentially — a cleansing break. Cleansing in terms of caring, in terms of mentally thinking about what you’re wearing, about being beholden to even HAVING a scent that you apply every day. I went through that when I took my sabbatical. It was a weight off my shoulder and a sense of freedom NOT to think about what I was wearing, what notes were wafting at what times, or anything to do with perfume, period. Not wearing ANY perfume was like such an escape. But I wasn’t even emotional or intense about it — I simply didn’t care. At all. Not one iota. I couldn’t be bothered and I also didn’t *WANT* to be bothered.

      Okay, for me, as a reviewer, there is a lot more constant thought involved in wearing scent because I can almost never just put it on, enjoy it, and go about my way. I am conditioned to think and analyse it nonstop (with the one exception of vintage Shalimar because it is SOOOOOO damn familiar to me at this point). But the general feeling of not caring or being free is the same, and every hardcore perfumista goes through some phase like that at some point. Sometimes, even more than one. So, don’t worry about it. It will come back when it comes back, even if it takes a year or two. One day, you’ll be going on your way, you’ll smell something, and it will all click again for you. In my case, it took sniffing two old, old favourites and signature scents in vintage form for it to slowly rekindle my interest, but even then it took a long time. Bottom line, don’t worry about it, don’t rush it, and enjoy your scent-less freedom.

      I hope the new US foray goes well and continues to go well, as well as the other expansion plans. What I’m glad to hear is that you’re making time for a break and some relaxation amidst your increasingly busy business schedule and work. I’m glad about that. You work hard.

      Oh, I almost forgot, I’ve moved up the waiting list from my breeder and I’m in line for the next three litters, due early Spring! However, getting an actual puppy not only assumes that there is one which will meet my specific requirements, but it will ultimately depend on His Highness’ health. If his health continues to be such a huge worry, I’ll have to postpone until future litters. I won’t be able to juggle 6 months of nonstop, constant, daily and hourly GSD training and socialization *and* His Highness’ health issues. More importantly, he’s so sensitive, so bonded to me, and so highly possessive that I just know he will think I’ve discarded him for a younger, healthier, better model. I would never do that to him. Ever. But I did want you to know that I’m high on the waiting list now!

      Anyway, darling, I really hope that 2018 brings you, your husband, and Angela Merkel all the very best things but, particularly, good health and happiness. I send you a very warm hug and I bow before Her Highness’ beautiful paws. Please tell her from me that she’s gorgeous, special, and that there is a certain gentleman German over here who would drool over the very sight of her. xoxo

  16. My dear Kafka, happy holidays to you, His Teutonic Highness, and all your loved ones! May it be a period of joy and rest for you.
    I’m so sorry your handsome boy has had to deal with those issues. It sounds like it was harrowing. Sending you love from my corner of the world to you both. I’m very glad to read you seem to have found some sort of relief to him at least.
    My Christmas was spent with family and happily so. I think you will be pleased to learn that Papillon Anubis is on the way for me (it was supposed to arrive two days ago, but alas). It will join Salome on my shelf. Today was a day for Mitzah anyway, which I’m sure will totally surprise you.
    VERY intrigued about John Biebel. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Slumberhouse so the comparison pleases me. I cannot wait to read your post on this new talent.
    I’ll be delighted to read your end of the year roundup, but certainly it should come after all the festivities. Your readers can wait, now is a time to be solely with your dog, your friends and your family. Happy holidays again Kafka!!

    • Cherie, Joyeux Noël et bonne fin d’année! I’m pleased to hear you were with your family. And your beloved cat, too, I hope?

      I smiled that you wore Mitzah today. I remember when you first fell in love with it, a real coup de foudre, so how fitting that you wore it today. And congratulations on your latest addition, Anubis. You know, John Biebel’s Smolderose might be right up your alley! I don’t know about the other two (truth be told, I can’t see you in either one), but I can see you in Smolderose.

      Thank you for spending another year with me, my dear. May the next one be the best one yet for you, filled with success, love, good health, laughter, good food, and furry ones. xoxo

  17. A merry Christmas to you and your Teutonic Overlord, Kafka!

    I have just come back from seeing “The Last Jedi” with my family. (Reviews are mixed.) Having shared a traditional meal with my parents yesterday and anticipating another one — for which I’m the Designated Turkey Breast/gravy provider — with The CEO’s extended family tomorrow, we ate LEFTOVERS today.

    Beautiful Alahine graced the day.

    Hunter the Freak Dog sends his love as well.

    • All these years and you’ve never told me about Hunter the Freak Dog!! You will have to rectify that sometime, sweetie.

      Anyway, Merry Christmas, my dear. It sounds like you’ve had a few busy and fun days. I had to laugh at the “Designated Turkey Breast/gravy provider” because I know exactly what that’s like. BTW, in my opinion, holiday leftovers are the best thing ever. Delicious food, instantly ready, and with no arduous labor involved because it was all done already. (Turkey, gravy, stuffing, cranberry, lettuce sandwiches are the best thing ever, imo.)

      Did you like “The Last Jedi”? I’m not a Star Wars person (I’m a die-hard Trekkie instead), but I’ve been following the controversy about the reviews closely, including the whole Rotten Tomatoes bot-meddling thing.

      Have a wonderful time at the CEO’s extended family celebrations tomorrow and on New Year’s Eve. May your 2018 be the best year ever for you and your loved ones.

  18. Merry Christmas, dear Kafka. May the best of the season be yours and His Royal Fangness. Thanks for sharing his pictures; he truly has you wrapped around his paws :-)! I am off for the rest of the year and into early next year. As to TV shows, with work being so crazily intense almost this entire year, specially the last 5 months, I binge watched some shows to relax…Young Sheldon and The Good Doctor. Speaking of TV / cable, I recently examined my bill and noticed that I had been paying for 2 premium channels that the hajusuuri household had not watched in the past 3 years; these went poof immediately (of course my brain went to how many bottles of perfumes I could have bought with what I foolishly allowed to go to waste). I was eyeing first season DVD of The Crown a few days ago, having heard so many good things about the series…I may get it as I got a B&N gift card with enough $ to pay for it.

    I am looking forward to your Best of 2017 and selfishly hoping it will be done in time for me to print and to savor on my flight out to Barcelona on the 28th!

    • Merry Christmas, Hajusuuri! And, yes, His Highness has me well-wrapped around his paws. I’m a most worshipful slave and adoring acolyte. lol. Joking aside, he’s basically my fur-laden son. I’ve never had an interest in having (human) children, but German Shepherds… forever and ever. If only one didn’t lose them so soon, but never mind, nothing grim on this happy day. I hope you’re recuperating and rewarding yourself from the last 5 months with an extra special year-end trip this year. I know cruises are your special thing, so hopefully you have a fun one planned for this year and are going to some place where you can relax a little in the sun.

      I think you’d thoroughly enjoy The Crown so hopefully you can find it on DVD. (I would be surprised, though, as I think that Netflix would want to keep it as an exclusive. But if you see it on DVD, it may well be worth it if you have a gift card to spend.)

      The “Best Of” list is scheduled for the 28th, at the latest, so fingers crossed things go to plan.

  19. Happ(ier) New Year 2018 Kafka (one down, three more to go…)! Thank you for your amazing, thoughtful, sensitive reviews. They mean so much to me, and are a great source of cultural literacy (good movies, tv shows, gastronomy, music, painting, photography, history, and of course all things olfactory). I was so relieved when you “came back” (like a soap opera star but better).
    I hope you and yours enjoyed the holidays. We bailed on a plane ticket to Portland purchased months earlier, decided to spend the time mostly with each other and to work on our house that was in the Butte Fire of 2015. We missed family there but felt the time was better spent working on projects that get neglected when we are both working. I got a new built-in organized closet, and I painted, moved/donated furniture, went through my parents’ (grandparents, great-aunts, etc.) stuff and put into piles of toss, keep, or thrift (this is my parents’ house and my childhood home—the only thing standing on 10 acres now). We painted rooms, ripped up carpeting, sanded hardwood floors and have enjoyed it all immensely. We put up a Hanukkah-Pagan Charlie Brown Tree, and visited local friends when we could.
    I wanted to wear my vintage Shalimar that you got me so keen on (I scored two par avion bottles, sealed, with rich, thick fantastic sticky syrup in them). I couldn’t get to them due to all the moving from both houses and renovating, but plan to air the first one plenty before spring hits.
    We also plan on completing the house and move by March 1st—with our six (6!) cats (O’Malley, Mai’ha, Nixie, Django, Zorbiyah, Chanel). Those are our overlords. However, I had a Lab-Chow, Basil (The greatest, most protective, intelligent dog ever) who passed in December 2014. I also lost my dog Xolena, a Rhodesian Ridgeback. Now that we have 10 acres, I’m searching for The One. I want it to be ideally another Lab-Chow (an odd combination that strangely works out to a beautiful amazing dog). However, I’m on the lookout for a puppy that will be a great guard dog with a good sized growl and bark, but smart enough not to eat the kiddies and get me a lawsuit—and who is not yappie, a good running dog, who is also mellow and likes to lie around with me on the bed, who gets along great with cats (Basil used to kitty sit them), who is protective but smart rather than aggressive (pretty much my last two dogs…sigh). This is the year of “The Dog”—or rather, The Puppy. I find myself turning and looking at dogs in streets, getting whiplash, then googling breeds, and finding something “not quite right.” A bunch of lab-chows were up for addoption, a litter of about 8 before Christmas, all named after reindeer (Blixen, etc.) and they were daarrrlllling! Just perma-grin worthy puppies, and they went in some kind of millisecond while I was frantically negotiating with the shelter. They were up, online, and gone. “Dancer” was the one I was after, and, well, I hope he has a happy life. Apparently not with me.
    GSDs are obvious contenders in the household, but the hip thing is a concern. Years ago my family used to breed Shetland Sheep dogs, or “Shelties” and I love everything about them except that gorgeous coat (which I was often recruited to brush).
    I completely understand your dilemma with the Overlord and a New Puppy—our time-tested true loves and friends come first, and I would have the same thoughts as you are regarding His Hairy Highness. Forgive the length—but just wanted to say how important your reviews are, your ideas, your heart, and what a pleasure it is to read your words. Thank you Kafka. Cheers!
    P.S I will be adding my comments to the Oud Picante soon. I tried Oud Zen first (heart!), but then tried the rest (before the Picante and was unenthused until I got to the Picante last, and, which I love—am now thankful Zen was sold out and that I got Picante—I am more of a Picante than a Zen (and I still have a good decant of it to compare).

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