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  Ellen Davignon: Lives of Quiet Desperation


October 1, 2003

So.  As often happens, I don’t have much in the way of great and noble thoughts for you this column.  Little bit this, little bit that.  Not a whole lot of anything.  I wanted to do something on new books that have been coming in thick and fast at Mac’s but my muse (Muriel, I call her) has said to hell with the books, so maybe next month.  In the meantime…

Now that I have a choice of wood or propane, this has become a difficult time of year for me.   On these cool mornings, when I can see my breath in the bedroom, and the thermometer on the living room wall registers a chilly 60F, I vacillate between kicking up the thermostat or lighting a fire in the old RSF2000.  After all, if I’m off to work in an hour, is it worth making the mess with the wood and smoke?  But on the other hand, by the time the propane has gotten up to speed, I’ll be out the door and that’ll be good, hard- earned money down the drain for nothing.  I would have accomplished the same by putting on a warm sweater and wrapping an afghan sarong-like around my hips and it wouldn’t have cost me. 

Standing in the tub under a good hot spray for twenty minutes warms me nicely but, of course,  what goes into the shower must eventually be removed from the shower, and all the brisk toweling in the world can not maintain that euphoric simmer if the temperature in the bathroom is roughly that of a meat locker.  Besides, using that lovely hot water throws yet another element (you should pardon the expression) into the equation as I must now consider the cost of heating that water electrically.

I guess what it all comes down to is mess versus money.  And what with being essentially cheap and basically bone-idle, you can appreciate that I might have a problem.  And being the good and loyal readers that you are, probably feel some concern for me.  But be calm, my friends, and know that there is good news to report. 

With all the brouhaha concerning hormone replacement, my doctor suggested that I wean myself off the Premarin that had been giving me an illusion of youthful vigour.  As the doses get fewer and farther between, much to my dismay I find myself once again in Hot Flash City, putting on and taking off articles of clothing as required, opening and closing windows, kicking off and pulling up covers.  And it has been a major pain in the patoot.

However.  Last night at supper, fanning myself with half a grilled cheese-and-onion sandwich as yet another wave of heat washed over me, it occurred to me that there was a bit of a pattern to the flashes.  If  I took a tablet on Monday morning, I was fine until late Tuesday afternoon.  If  I took it again on Wednesday night, I’d be fine all day Thursday but by 4 AM Friday morning, I’d  wake with all the covers on the floor and a pool of sweat in that little declivity just above my collarbones.  If I took… well, you see where this is going, don’t you?  And you’re right.

 I figure that one of those suckers, properly timed, could raise my temperature a good 6 or 8 degrees.  Just enough to get me through my morning routine and out the door without making a mess or spending a cent. 

So let’s see, Friday and Saturdays are my days off so I don’t have to worry about them but hmmm… okay…  if I took a tablet about 9 o’clock Sunday morning…..


This morning as I luxuriated in the shower - a nasty habit I’m trying not to get into - see above - I happened to notice the French translation on a rather prettily designed tube of St. Ives’ Exfoliating Apricot Scrub:  Desincrustant a L’Abricot. 

Desincrustant? I’ve been desincrusting my poor face all this time and didn’t know it?  I’d always thought that French was one of the Romance languages, with its “Je t’adore”s, and its “Je t’aime”s and every teen-age French student’s favourite, “Voulez-vous couchez avec moi, ce soir?”   Apricot Scrub is prosaic enough but Desincrustant?  Can’t you just hear a smooth, mustachio’d operator in a Salon Parisienne  murmur, “Allez, mon petit chou-fleur, voulez-vous le desincrustant-la?”   I can only hope that his little cauliflower would rear back at the suggestion and bingo him five under the eye!  Desincrustant-ha!!

I’ve lost another 3 or 4 pounds.  Thought you’d like to know that.  And my family has built a garage for me and it’s nearly done.  I ‘m going to throw a barn dance in it next Saturday.  If you’re in the neighbourhood, stop by, we’ll have some fun with you.

It’s sort of strange how the garage just grew, sort of like Topsy. 

I mentioned that I’d really like to have a shelter for my poor little old-lady grey Tempo, that both she and I were too old to have to “desincrust” her of snow and frost every single morning of the winter.  Wouldn’t a car port be nice, and easy to build?  Well, sure, nice and easy but if I was going to spend a couple of thousand dollars on a roof, why not spend a few bucks more and have a nice garage?   It would keep my old car in relative comfort and I’d never have to remember to plug it in, ever again.  Everyone would help and my son Jordan, the carpenter, had all the contacts necessary for the few trades people that the family was lacking.  And by the way, if I was going to have a garage, I might as well have a 2-door one in case I ever decide to get a companion for the Tempo.  And if I didn’t ever need another vehicle, well, there were a few quads and motorcycles that could take up temporary residence to give it that lived-in look.

Well, that couple thousand is up to about fourteen now - even with the donated labour and the ground work done gratis by Wayne and Murray of Arctic Backhoe, just for old time sake - and that’s playing hell-up with that unfortunate streak of cheap in me.  It’s a lovely big building, with a smooth concrete floor and automatic doors and a woodshed built into the back.  The walls are not painted, the fellow who was supposed to tape the joins didn’t show up.  But I’m thinking a nice ivy-printed wallpaper, in the spring, with just a ruffle of green and pink curtains at each of the small windows.  In the meantime, a scattering of brightly coloured rag rugs, a few nice posters and a couple of silk plants make it cozy and a Mexican blanket thrown over Nick’s quad adds a touch of the exotic.

Couldn’t have had that in a carport.

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