horz line

A 'First' Doubled

photo: group, mark, becky, charles, barry, tomoko, ron, laurel, lynn

From left – Mark, Becky, Charles, Barry, Tomoko,
Ron in back, Laurel and Lynn.

Patagonia and Detour Village

Paris:- Thursday, 4. December 2003:- The sunny south of France has been battered by gale-force winds, seas gone mad, torrential rains and rivers that have jumped their trolleys, causing widespread flooding in areas recently flooded by similar weather.

For the first time I can remember, the weather warning alert jumped up a notch from orange to red for Mediterraneanphoto: notre dame de la corona coastal areas. It should have been red for Tuesday instead of 'just' orange, but it was red for Wednesday. The situation is calmer now, but rain is expected for Friday, drying up on Saturday.

The much weaker edge of the same system will sideswipe Paris tomorrow, drowning Le Parisien's morning prediction for some sunny periods on Friday. Even if there isn't much rain, it will be cloudy and the high temperature is expected to be no more than six degrees.

Notre-Dame de la Corona dressed for it.

More semi-sunny periods for Saturday will most likely be mostly cloudy instead, and the temperature will stay nailed to six degrees. When Sunday rolls around on Sunday, it might even be mostly sunny - perhaps the best day of the week - but the price to pay for it will be a high temperature in the low area of three degrees, which is not 'high' at all.

The Club's Only 214th Club Meeting 'Report'

After the usual uncomplicated ride on the Métro from Denfert to Châtelet, and the usual uncomplicated stroll through some really old alleys to the Pont-Neuf, there is nothing to report actually, except that the light is not good enough to take photos of not much.

In short, Paris is having a dull Thursday. It has happened before and it will happen again, maybe as soon as next week. I scoot along the Quai du Louvre until I reach the club's café, La Corona, and note that its two terraces are totally empty. Even pedestrians are walking elsewhere today.

At the café's bar, I try to decide to take a photo of the crazy lights looped around the espresso machine, but scotch it. I do an eyeball tour and do not see much else.

But at the entry to the café's 'grande salle' Patrick the waiter alerts me about the effort he has taken with the festive decoration of 'Our Lady of La Corona.' She is truly stunning. Café-kitsch draped in Christmas baubles. Totally supreme!

A lady sitting offside and alone in the club's area greets me and moves to the club's actual meeting area. I see that it is 15:00 on the nose, so the meeting begins without ados or other unnecessary ceremonies.

New member Becky Claytor is from Houston, Texas. She is a week too late and therefore will not meetphoto: chocolat leigeois last week's members from the same fine town. Mark Rowlee is the next new member to arrive and he comes from Sunnyvale, California, which I note as being San José.

The 'chocolat liégeois' sans the chocolate.

Before I can learn many of Becky and Mark's secrets, Laurel Avery and Barry Wright arrive. Laurel says she is coming from Orleans, on Cape Cod in Massachusetts rather than the 7th arrondissement, and Barry says, "It's tough to find a turkey here."

My memory says I ate a lot of turkey that wasn't tough last week, but now that I think about it harder, some of it might have been chicken. Becky says she came to Paris for a cooking class, and was promptly invited to a Thanksgiving dinner with turkey. Parisians may be bored with Halloween, but turkey's star seems to be rising.

Not apropos of what a new member will say later during this meeting, Barry decides to tell us about the lack of mail delivery in Carmel, California. He says the streets there don't have names either.

Laurel is looking very dubiously at her lunch - a whopping hulk of a 'chocolat liégeois.' She says, "There's no chocolate in my 'chocolat liégeois!'"

While my attention is diverted to arriving new members Lynn and Charles Spiher, today's 'Waiter of the Week' fixes Laurel up with her own private pot full of chocolate, which she adds liberally to her defect 'chocolat liégeois.'

Once I can drag my eyes away from the sight of lava-like rivers of chocolate penetrating to the depths of a 'chocolat liégeois,' I glance at the members' booklet and discover that Lynn and Charles have written Patagonia, Arizona, as their hometown.

Hey now! This is a 'City of the Week' worth the title! But I do not fail to note during the meeting that Lynn and Charles also live part of the year in Michigan, because Charles mentions that it is two degrees short of Canada. What I do fail to note is the town's name, which is Detour Village.

This is good for a second 'City of the Week' award. It is also a 'first.' It is the first time that the same members have lived in two 'Cities of the Week' in the same week. Actually they live in them one at a time, but they live in both of them sometimes. In fact, they live in a third place too, but I am too boggled to note it.

I miss hearing what Becky says about Paris cooking schools, but do get to see a new model US $20 note. It is slightly colored a sort of warm hue. I decide not to photograph it because its color is too subtle, and because T-men might be reading this.

I have forgotten to mention that Tomoko Yokomitsu has arrived. Everybody present reads the club's reportsphoto: balloon foto, mark rowlee so they all know Tomoko is the club's film star member. Mark and Lynn and Charles even ask if Steve is coming today. I explain that Steve, if he isn't getting hosed while making movies, works when Bombay calls it a day.

Mark tells us he used to bring his balloon to France in the old days when two 70-pound bags were allowed. It - the balloon and its basket - won't fit in the new allowance of 50 pounds. Mark has seen a lot of France from a balloon, and a bit of western America too.

Mark's photo of Mark's balloon in France.

He says ballooning in France costs half what it does in the US because the food is better here. Charles starts to say, "There was a crash in one of those..."

"A high wind in a balloon is 30 mph," Mark explains, and adds, "Landing in a plowed field where the furrows are crossways is 'bang, bang, bang - and it's hard on the basket."

Laurel is asked whether she is an artist or a writer. She is a 'beginner' of a writer so she says 'artist.' Barry says he's picked a writer level so high to equal - Dorothy Dunnett - that he has developed his on 'raga' theory of writing, which sounds a bit like landing a balloon in a crossways plowed field in a high wind.

Continued on page 2...
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