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The week's 'Group of the Week,' from left, with Heather,
Don and Helen..

Of the Week

Paris:– Thursday, 6. January 2005:– As if it were a birthday or we had won the Loto tonight's TV–weather news lady announced that Paris is benefitting from a high–pressure anticyclone.

However the satellite weather animation showed that this situation has its exceptions, to the extent that this part of the countryside will be covered by clouds that will prevent sunbeams from reaching our foreheads.

Don't ask me if the winds scooting up the Channel at 70 or 80 kph have anything to do with tomorrow's forecast. A situation that is all cloudy in the morning, maybe with a bit of rain, might become partly sunny in the afternoon, if we are good kids.

Friday's forecast high of 12 degrees is 4 to 5 degrees more than we deserve, but we'll accept it if that's what we get. On Saturday the same mysterious wind will be whistling up the Channel, but will have no effect of the cloudy skies over our heads. Clouds that may be raining on us. But warm, at 11 degrees, all the same.

The winds continue on Sunday, so don't lurk around the Channel unless you like them. Around Paris it might be partly sunny for part of the time and will most likely be partly cloudy for most of the time. And the high is forecast to be 10 degrees, which is only 2 or 3 degrees more than normal for the time of year.

First 'Hat Day of the Year' Report

The temperatures have been mild but some times when I get outside I find that there is a sneaky rain falling. Onphoto, lunch of the week certain streets this is no problem, unless there is an exposure to southerly breezes. Then it can be wet. By 'sneaky,' I mean this rain is very quiet, even when you are outside and it is falling all around.

Today's 'Lunch of the Week.' Yummy for the tummy!

So I am surprised that it is not raining at all when I set off for the Métro at Raspail. It is not raining when I get there either. I get on a near empty wagon and ride to Saint–Germain and get out to walk. I do not see anybody I know in the Quartier Latin so I do not loiter about, and pretty soon I have crossed the Pont des Arts and find myself arriving early at the club's café, La Corona.

I step back out to see if there's any photo opportunities – such as red–nosed bunnies or bears. Alas, it seems as if this fantasy season is over for another year, with nothing but big red hearts on the horizon of February.

In the café's 'grande salle' a civilian couple are sitting smack dab in the secretary's place. Sunlight is cutting through the room so I take a spot close to the shade of a wall and enter the meeting's details in the club's booklets. Then I get out Le Parisien and look at the photo on the front page. Member number one Heather Stimmler–Hall arrives and asks me why I'm reading the paper.

I show her the photo of the 'reconstruction' in Asia. The photo shows new concrete blocks laid on sand and a couple of frail sticks that are meant to hold up a straw roof. A couple of Joes are mixing cement in a plastic bucket – not even waiting for the four or five billion bucks of aid donations to arrive. The caption says 'experts' think it'll take five to ten years for the rebuilding.

Another headline laments that some 1998 World Cup champions are unemployed these days, and that 35 is the right age to begin cosmetic surgery. I give up the rest of the news without regret.

"I'm going to eat something," Heather declares. She scans the menu for typical French dishes and settles on 'Francfort–frites' because the price is right, at 9.20€.

Then she tells me about her holiday adventures, which mostly consisted of telling her in–laws that she wasn't being ill just because they were visiting. Her symptoms were more terrifying than what she actually had for two days, so I'm really glad to see her still alive.

A chipper lady threads he way through the café's 'grande salle' on a beeline to the club's abbreviated area, so we guess that she intends to join the club, which turns out to be an accurate assessment.

Helen Handelsman comes from the Marina,photo, helen handelsman, hat not the Laguna, area of San Francisco, and the club has been recommended to her by member Alvin Stilman who joined last 15. January. Helen also knows club member Dennis Moyer, but everybody else in San Francisco seems to, too.

Helen's and her 'Hat of the Week.'

As Helen begins to fill in her members' details she waives the 'warning' and other club blah–blah and folklore. "I've read 'About the Club' already," she says.

She asks if she can write 'Because I love Paris!' in answer to the questionnaire's item 2, 'What is your primary reason for visiting?' For question 4 she writes, 'too expensive,' for what she likes least.

While we all know that Paris is expensive – thimbles of café for 1.10€ – we discover that many everyday items are unobtainable anywhere else – so they are worth whatever they cost.

"Three weeks aren't enough," Helen then observes. She gasps at Heather's nine years of residence, which Heather reduces by mentioning that three or four of them were on the Riviera – "Boring!"

Then some lunatic, most likely in a stalled car outside on the Quai du Louvre, leans on his horn and doesn't get off it. It goes on so long that other drivers start honking at the horn honker. Bedlam!

Perfect for the entrance of Don Smith, who sits down while saying, "I'm really busy." If I understand him correctly, he comes to club meeting when Nelly has to work – possibly because his grumbling disturbs her concentration.

Don was out in the wild outback of the Bretagne for the holidays. "They jump, they sing, they make a lot of noise," he says, adding just in time, "For days! They never stop."

Continued on page 2...
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