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  Ellen Davignon: Lives of Quiet Desperation

Well, I might-a gone fishin'…

June 15, 2004

It's a darn good thing I retired this winter. I really don't know when I ever found time to work!

I've just now come from a whole week of intense effort, cleaning out my storeroom, preparatory to embarking on Ellen's Next Excellent Adventure.

The store room, also known, variously, as the backroom, the playroom, the cold room, and my personal fave, that damn mess back there, is a 12x16 foot room, an add-on that makes this trailer work. Crammed to the rafters with the paraphernalia and detritus of several lifetimes, it had been home to all the stuff we couldn't bear to leave behind when we moved into town from JC, as well as all the irresistible bargains Phil brought home from his endless excursions to the War Eagle Mall - better known as the local nuisance grounds. For nigh on twelve years, it has also served as a sewing center, potting shed, gymnasium and, on one, perhaps two, memorable occasions, the arena for a genteel knock-down-and-drag-out discussion over the best way to assemble an artificial Christmas tree.

One corner was - is - completely filled by the enormous old freezer that provides a craft table and gift wrap area; skis, pool cues and fishing poles shared another with a mismatched pair of crutches. Two dressers and several shelving units line the walls, a couple of large trunks sit cheek by jowl smack in the middle of things and an ironing board forms a room divider, partitioning off family treasures that no one wants now but every one thinks should be preserved against possible future desirability. Boxes of clothes, tools and glass jars lean in precarious piles. Keel's extra speakers, twenty years of tax papers and receipts, a brown grocery bag full of natural treasures, including the dried penis bone of a moose, and a pile of extraneous pictures and paintings, fill the area under the sewing table while on top, the clunky old Singer sits companionably at the side of our first computer system, a still-functional Tandy 1000, the bequesting of which even my youngest grandchild rejected without discussion or hesitation.

Narrow trails provided access to heaps of games, puzzles, magazines, paint tins, ornaments, craft items and a lone case of President's Choice Mushroom Stems and Pieces, an excellent buy at $7.48/12 in a local Big Box. I was pretty sure there was a geometrically patterned lino on the floor but it had been so long since I'd seen it I couldn't be certain.

No doubt about it, the state of the room was a shame and a disgrace and the only good thing to said about it was to reiterate what I'd mentioned earlier, that it made the trailer work. I shudder to imagine all that stuff stored under beds and in closets and cupboards. Of course, it might have tended to be self-limiting but that's a moot point now because a lot of tough decisions, four loads back to the Mall, and a whole lot of nails pounded into the dry wall later, the room is as tidy as Aunt Tilly's drawers. Pictures, posters, hoses, and baskets have been hung, great armloads of clothing bagged and donated, electronic equipment gone to the Free Store... well, I won't go on. Suffice it to say that after all that good effort, all I want to do is stand and admire the results. I don't, of course, because I have things to do, places to be, lists to consult, adventures to set in motion...

It's my small, new-ish camper, you see. I found a little while ago, deus ex machina, after weeks of and weeks of advertising and inquiring, and it's sitting primly out there on it's sawhorses, urging me to get done and get going, traveling, fishing, you name it, I should be out doing it.

“Oh WOW, Ellen, finally, a CAMPER” I can hear you say. “That's just great, excellent... now you can just pick up and go, here or there, whenever, wherever, whenever the impulse strikes...” And yeah, that's the general idea, grab my dog and a change of clothes and be on the road to anywhere, the four winds my invitation, spontaneity my password. After all, there's nothing to hold me back. I'm retired from Mac's, the kids are grown and gone, I'm footloose and all that good stuff. HOO-YAH, I'm out-a here...

Or I will be, now that I've dealt with that store room.

See, I don't see any point in grabbing up Gibson and the camera and taking off to points unknown and leaving behind a mess to come back to. What would be the joy in that, knowing when I came home again those heaps and piles of debris would still have to be decided upon and dealt with? No, much easier to be spontaneous when you can leave home with a clear conscience and a clean store room.

And since that's all done, now all I have to do is load the camper, grab dog and Phil's old fishing rod and take off for parts unknown, LOOK OUT WORLD, I'm on my way!

Or rather, I will be once I rake up area in the back forty where I'm going to landscape and fence when time and circumstance are right. Been going to do that for a while but there's always something else taking precedence, like a good book or a nice stroll along the Millenium Trail, and it keeps getting shunted off onto a siding. But now that I've got this siren call of the open road ringing in my ears, I got a good reason to get it done and off my mind. It's definitely number two on my to-do-before-I go list, just ahead of painting the two decks at the front of the trailer and yes, sanding, as well as painting, the back one. It's been crying out for attention for a few years now.

I'm really excited to be thinking about checking out Yukon's back roads, lived up here all my life and I've hardly seen anything having spent all my summers selling cinnamon buns or books to a seasonal market. And that, my friends, is gonna change RIGHT NOW. Just as soon as I finish the raking and painting. And this column. Oh yeah, and new Yukon Voices feature I've been working on for the Mac's Fireweed web site. It's been coming along in fits and starts but I've got a good start and I figger another week, tops, and we'll be good to go with that.

Of course, my nephew, Neil, arrives this coming weekend for a several day working visit so that will throw a bit of a spanner into the works, what with a few family suppers and sightseeing but we always have a good time when he's here and you know that old saying, “Oh well, what the hell?” Maybe while he's here he can give me a hand to refurbish the old fishing rod, perhaps it's just the duct tape that needs replacing but there's something funny going on with retrieve too and I might be looking at a different reel, there's probably one somewhere in the shed. God knows there's everything else in there. It should be sorted out and tidied too, while I'm at it...

So it looks like it could be a while before I'll be hitting those back roads any time real soon. But you know what?

Just five minutes ago, impetuous madcap that I am, I made up my mind and as soon as I get a letter off to my sister and finish defrosting the fridge, I'm loading my new toy onto the back of my little blue Ranger, grabbing up Gibson and a sleeping bag, and we going camping.

Sure hope there's some room left in the Walmart parking lot.

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