"It was imprudent of us, in the first place, to become authors. We could have become something regular, but we managed not to.
We were lucky, but we were also determined." Roy Blount Jr

"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Beauty Counter Breakdown

While the Chap's been away all week hobnobbing with the important, I've been mostly housebound and happy to be so. I expected to regret not accompanying him to Washington, but I've used this time too well for that. Even though he's staying in our favorite house without me. Even though he dined once at this favourite restaurant and twice at this one.

I've been eating well myself. Here's a spinach-feta-anchovy pizza, a thing of beauty I concocted the other night. It was delish, and the girls polished off the leftover crusts.

I've been writing like a demon, much of the day and well into the night, and sleeping late to make up for it and dining at odd hours. My biorythms are totally out of whack. I suspect by now my body is actually living on London time.

I made a tiny effort at spring cleaning this morning. Cleared some surfaces, laundered sofa covers, blasted through a good week's worth of USAToday and added them to the recycling stack. Nothing too strenuous, or too distracting from the manuscript.

Tuesday was my day out. Chairs and Vice Chairs meeting in the morning--even though we had no House Session this week. Came home for a few hours, then back to town for my mandolin lesson. On the second trip home, I stopped at the shopping mall, fully prepared to open my checkbook and stimulate the local economy at the cosmetics counter.

Lancome is running a gift-with-purchase promotion, which sometimes tempts me to stock up on necessities. Especially this time, because I had a 20% off coupon for donating clothing to Goodwill, and the coupon could be used for a discount in the Cosmetics Department. (Unprecedented!)

So I decided to pick up a bottle of foundation, the same one I've been wearing for years, and switched to when they discontinued my former favourite. The Chap's name for it, by the way, is Geisha #1. Because I'm such a pale face.

I scanned the shelves looking for the familiar package. It wasn't there. I went to the tester display and hunted for my formulation. I found a similar name, in similar shades--that's when I realised my old reliable had been (gasp!) discontinued.

I skulked about, passing through denial, anger, frustration, resignation--impatience, because the Lancome lady had gone missing. Eventually a non-Lancome saleslady wandered over to help me. She recommended a shade...I wasn't sure it was the right one, but my dejection was such that I didn't protest. I hated the new pump-top dispenser. The consistency didn't feel quite the same.

I tried to cheer myself up by purchasing a severely over-priced lipstick (I had another 20% coupon) from the new colour range. It was out of stock.

So I wrote my check and took my gift and thanked the woman for coming over to assist me.

I have a lifelong love-hate relationship with cosmetics. From the age of 10 I've been plastering pancake on my face--theatrical make-up--and all the rest of it. So by the time I was in my teens it was fairly unexciting and I wasn't that interested in wearing it in my offstage life. Until peer pressure intervened.

The first time I wore mascara to school a teacher stopped me in the hallway and asked if I was wearing false eyelashes. (My lashes happen to be fairly long and naturally black, and mascara turned up the volume to 11.)

But I'll admit the truth (no secret to those who regularly see me) I love, love, love red lipstick.

I've had the same so-called beauty regime for longer than I can remember. It's pretty simple. I'm a creature of habit--same face soap (only available for purchase in London), same daily moisturiser (Neutrogena, high SPF), same night cream (by prescription from demotologist.) I've used the same Lancome foundation (till now, that is), powder, blush, eyeliner, mascara since I don't know when. In summer I use a Lancome tinted moisturiser (high SPF) instead of regular foundation. (Not to self--stock up, in case it's also on the "discontinued" list.)

I regard facial preparation as a public service. The world is better off not viewing me in a completely natural state. I don't think I've ever left the house without some form of cosmetics. But I'm selective, according to circumstances, as seen in these 3 permutations:

1. Quick local errand, informal meeting = dusting of face powder, lip gloss, eyes (mascara and liner). 1 minute.

2. Summer outing, church, meetings = tinted moisturiser, blush, powder, lipstick, eyes. 3 minutes.

3. Everything else = concealer, foundation, blush, powder, lipstick, eyes. 6 minutes.

When working in the garden, or when at the lake cottage, I wear only sunscreen. Not a bit of slap, although if company's coming to the cottage I'll reach for the tinted moisturiser and lipstick.

Speaking of my garden, it becomes more visible by the day. I can't actually reach it, not by climbing over a remaining snow wall, or slogging through ankle-deep mud. I want to make more progress on the book before heading Outdoors...but the day will soon arrive when I get out my wellies and garden jacket and garden fork to pull leaves away from my bulbs. They want attention, as you see in this shot taken from the deck.

Blogging was briefly interrupted when the postman arrived bearing plants! They were ordered way, way back as a reaction to the deepest of deep freezes, probably in January. Shipping had to wait for milder weather.

Here's my new miniature fig tree:

I decided I needed another out of fear that I'd killed my giant one by intensive pruning. In fact, the big big fig is sending out green branch buds at this very moment, so it's perfectly fine.

I also bought this stephanotis. Just Because I Wanted It. (My mother's wedding bouquet was stephanotis and tuberoses.) I love the scent of the flowers.

Jumping to current events...

Major controversial bills coming to the floor of the House next week. My honorable email cache reflects the passion of opponents and supporters. It reflects other things, too, which I will keep to myself.

I can scarcely express my sadness at the sudden loss of that golden girl of stage and screen, Natasha Richardson.

I'm not sure I can muster the emotional energy needed for the proper apprecation of a royal wedding this summer. I'm happy for Wills and Kate if they feel ready, but also pity them in advance of the inevitable furor.

On the other hand, I can't help but approve the continued dilution of the monarchy's Germanic genes. Prince William's granny, his mum, and now his presumptive future bride will all be English/British. Being so steeped in Stuart history at the moment, I'm mindful of the fact that from 1714 until well into the 20th century, the royal family has been almost completely Teutonic. The German Occupation everyone desperately feared during World War II had in fact occurred two-and-a-quarter centuries earlier with the arrival of George I from Hanover.

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