Shopping for Scents by Mask

The importance of examining the label but even more so, the ingredients list

A disadvantage of wearing a mask is that you really can’t “sniff” the perfume, air freshener, candle, soap, or any other scented thing in the shops nowadays. How can you tell the scent is good or not? Read the label?

No, actually. The label will mislead you.

The other day I was at our local Sprouts grocery store.  I thought I would try a “natural” deodorant. So I looked at the labels and recognized a brand I believed at some point to be good quality. The label looked like it would be a good scent. I mean, I happen to like the scent of roses, and “delicate soft rose” sounded like it was right up my alley.

I did not feel comfortable lifting up my mask in the store to sniff all the stuff. So I bought by sight.

Purchased the bottle. Came home. Tried the substance on.

Horrible, horrible.

Talk about misleading marketing. The scent was overwhelmingly chemical and reminded me of some sort of bug killer.

That’s because, low and behold, there is a bug repellant in this spray. At least in principle.

Citrenellol. Pretty much Citronella. You can’t smell anything BUT the Citronella. There are lots of other citrus scents in here too. Not sure who came up with the lovely, highly marketable description of ‘delicate soft rose’ but the idea was brilliant, even though I was the one caught in the ruse.

This was definitely a lesson I will remember. If it says citronellol in the list, don’t buy it. Unless I’m going camping where lots of mosquitos live.

Last time I checked, mosquitos don’t like Citronella. But neither do many of us humans. But now I do have a pretty pink-lidded bottle of bug spray.

Look out mosquitos, the ‘delicate soft rose’ stuff is coming to get you!

NOTE: not that it matters on the grand scale, but citronellol and citronella are apparently two different things that smell bad. One is from a geranium and “rose-scented”. The other is from a lemon grass and is what the mosquitos don’t like.

Meanwhile, I had to go back to the stuff I already know, the stuff I bought before the pandemic. The stuff that smells ok. Not super, but meh. Still far better than this new stinky stuff.

I can’t wait to go to the store someday and sniff things without a mask. But if that day never comes, at least I’ll know to look for suspicious ingredients. And I won’t buy it if it has citronellol in it. Because I’ll probably still have this bottle. A memento and a reminder not to buy without a sniff.

Seeking Silver Linings

It seems like 2020 was the year of cancellations, bad news, and ugly media. Now, in 2021, I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t necessarily more of the same.

I mean, after all, there’s an “antidote” circulating now, right?

Forgive me if I sound naiive. I’m not. But with the arrival of vaccines, it just seems that we were destined to turn things around. That there was light at the end of the tunnel.

That there were things to start looking forward to again.

That was my thinking this year when I was putting significant dates into my calendar. One significant date was on January 17.

We’d purchased an “Intro to Kayaking” class for Christmas through REI for my daughter, and of course, I was going to go too. On January 17.

I wanted to learn how to kayak. I have visions of myself on the lake, maybe even at night, paddling along.

Unfortunately, like many things, the kayaking is now on hold. REI is sending us a refund because they cancelled the class.

So many things got cancelled in 2020, it was old news.

Photo by Jeffrey Czum on

Somehow in 2021, it seems like it shouldn’t be more of the same. Or should it? What has really changed?

Not a lot. The world is still in the grips of this thing, with all the accompanying panic and fear pandemic propaganda can bring. So now I’m seeking silver linings. And bargaining. And telling myself this too, shall pass.

But just promise me one thing. OK, maybe two.

One: you won’t exercise by yourself outside in the middle of nowhere…wearing a mask.

Two: you won’t drive your personal vehicle, with no one else inside, wearing a mask.

I promise you, wearing a mask during those two moments of isolation will not help you. And neither will carrying that teddy bear you got when you were 5 years old. Comforting, maybe. But it’s not a silver crucifix pointed at a vampire. Or kryptonite at Superman. Wearing a mask does not mean you won’t get sick.

A mask is just a mask.

And I’m disappointed. Again. No kayaking this month, and maybe not this year.

Oh well.

But at least I won’t have the moral dilemma of wearing a mask on the water to calm down the anxious ones or not wearing a mask, for my own comfort.

No choice needs to be made.

Someone else has made it for me.

Crossing my fingers for a better season…someday soon.

I’m not sure about this book.

I found this book the other day on the shelves of the local bookstore. I’m not too sure about the book’s author and where the book originated — was I in the humor section? It almost seemed like satire. Definitely ironic. But it was in the Health and Wellness section of the bookstore.

After I recovered from reading the title and the author of the book, I photographed it. I have no idea if the contents are worth reading or not. I didn’t touch or open the book. After all, I wasn’t wearing gloves. Just a mandated, cloth mask. And there were no other humans nearby.

I wonder about this book. Why it was written. Why it was translated for us. Why it is prominently on display in a bookstore that is open while churches, libraries, and other places are closed.

On some level, it almost seems insulting.

I don’t usually complain about books. If I don’t want to read it, I won’t. And I won’t spend too much time thinking about a book I don’t want to read.

This one is a different story. (On so many levels.)

Consideration of those we love

In 2014, the family got in a vehicle and drove cross country. We picked up a flu bug from a budget hotel in Iowa. It was pretty bad. When we got to Massachusetts, some of us were unable to do anything but lie around in my uncle’s guestroom and sleep in between the nausea. 

We made hard decisions not to visit our elderly loved ones and our not-so-elderly loved ones. While we missed out on some face time, we felt better not to have shared that severe flu. Most of us were in decent health and it knocked us over. Can’t imagine what it would have done to my 90-something great aunt who I really wanted to see. My aunt is still living, fortunately, in part perhaps because she agreed with taking precautions at the time. We talked it over back then, and I don’t regret missing the visit. I prefer to be temporarily sad about missing a face-to-face visit than being sad for the rest of my life for being the one who might have killed her.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

As I was writing her a Christmas card today, it reminded me that consideration for others and caring for others’ well-being is not new. Hopefully more folks will understand this nowadays.

If anything sticks after this challenging year of closures and cancellations, I hope that considering how your own actions affect your loved ones endures. Viruses spread. So does foolishness.

I’m hopeful that knowledge, compassion, and reasonable action spreads just as vigorously. All it takes is a willingness to be aware of what you are doing and how your actions affect someone else. Peace


“Those who know how close the connection is between the state of mind of a man – his courage and hope, or lack of them – and the state of immunity of his body will understand that the sudden loss of hope and courage can have a deadly effect.”

― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Strange Times in Cootieville

Today was an odd day.

My spouse and I decided to go for a walk to the mailbox about half a mile from our place. Instead of cutting through the parks and walking the greenbelt, we decided to walk along the main road in our neighborhood.

It was a nice day, blue skies, not too cold, windy, or anything extreme. Just a nice day, generally.

We don’t wear masks when we are outside. Mainly because, well, science? There were no ther humans on the street within a quarter mile or so.

Until we saw the kid. But he wasn’t really a kid. Maybe late 20s. Dark hair, grocery bags in hand from the local Nugget grocery store. And a super large mask.

It wasn’t surprising to us to see someone wearing a mask as they walked outdoors, alone. Or to see masks on drivers in theri own cars, with no one else in the vehicle. We typically just shake our heads and wonder how much the person actually knows about immunology and the transmission of viruses.

What WAS unusual was how the kid-not-really-a-kid reacted to us. We were walking toward him on the sidewalk. When he saw us he stopped dead on the sidewalk then half ran onto the driveway of someone’s house. He was clearly terrified.

The last time I saw someone react like that to others was when we played a tag game in kindergarten and the person who was “it” had “cooties.”

But here was an adult male, twitching and obviously in distress.

I couldn’t have scared him more unless I ran towards him waving my arms and shouting ooga-booga! (For the record, I did not do this.)

Meanwhile, both the spouse and I were puzzled and somewhat concerned about this person’s reaction.

I can assure you we take the spread of infection seriously and would have provided this person more than six feet in a courteous passing of each other on the road.

I’m just wondering how much that person knows about science. Obviously, not very much.

I suppose there will be those who will read this commentary and assume I’m being flip. I’m not.

We were, however, more concerned about that person’s mental health than anything else. It must be hell living in a world where everyone has cooties and even though you have lots of options such as handwashing, Vitamin D, rest, and other immune system supports, you think the mask is your only option and that even thought you are wearing a mask, it’s not enough.

I wonder how people handled flu season every year, before this year? Flu isn’t magical.

You should have been washing your hands last year too.

Photo by Burst on

I’m hoping that the scientists and the armchair policy people realize what they’re doing to anxious people out here. It isn’t good.

Oh, and the new phrase for Californians now is no longer “Have a nice day.” It’s “Be safe.” Sometimes it includes a “Be well.”

No one cares about having a nice day anymore. Just make sure you don’t breathe on that guy in the street. He might have a heart attack.

Be safe out there. For real.

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