horz line

Better Than a Dog Fight

photo, place des vosges

Home of the famous in the 17th century, the Place des Vosges.

Celestial Cement Mixer

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 14. February 2005:– At 12:30 yesterday the sky got very dark and the wind began to howl, and a great wash of rain, sleet and hail crashed down on the city and against my north–facing windows. For good measure, thunder boomed and the sky churned like a celestial cement mixer.

It did not last long and the sun peeked timidly out later. But it marked the end of unseasonably high temperatures to usher in a period of real winter – Paris style. If the temperature today managed to reach 6 degrees, it was just one step lower on a downward slide.

Tomorrow morning mayphoto, weather report, sleet give us the sense of winds from the north of 70 kph, which will hold the thermometre to no more than 5. It may be partly sunny sometimes, probably for no more than short periods.

Saturday midday 'Gloop of the Week.'

Wednesday is forecast to be about the same, or worse. If it is sunny at all the downside will be a high of no more than 2 degrees. For Thursday more northern weather will be swiping diagonally across France from the Channel with waves of clouds and maybe some timid glimpses of sun. The high may be up a little bit, at 4 degrees.

Café Life

Sounds of Reality

Howling, screaming, grinding, moaning, a cranking torrent of racket, the everyday background of free sound that I've been spared for two weeks, is back. Out of a soundless cocoon and into hell's brass pit, this audio steelmill full of rusty ball–bearings and random nails we take for granted.

What's that noise? That clicking. Is it the harddisk on its last spin? No, it's from further away, from the kitchen. The café machine doing its gurgle. Write this, typing, the keys go down sounding like a flat stick hitting a garbage can lid, with a follow–up rebound echo. The floor boards squeak everywhere – is this a treehouse in a gale?

Should I go back and ask for wax to be stuffed in? No, no. That silence was deafening, with some casual sounds getting through. One morning I set two radio–clock alarms and arranged for a phone call as a backup. As it was I got up early to make sure they worked.

Bucket of Borscht

I don't know what the occasion was or if there was any particular reason for Uncle Den–Den to invitephoto, bucket of borscht us over for a feast of borscht. The one certain thing was that he made enough of it for many more than we were or for many days, or both. He does like his soup, but he usually gets it ready– made at a Pho shop around the corner.

The no–kidding bucket of borscht.

Maybe it was just that he wanted a couple bowls of it, but it's not worth making in modest quantities. Anyway, we were there the Saturday before last and we did our best. Eight at two bowls each, and we only polished off a third of it. Maybe there was too much other soup, vodka, wine, Armangnac.

He called up and said there was borscht left. The trouble with a couple of litres of soup with things in it, is it doesn't fit in anything. It's one thing to have a big pot, and it's another thing to take five litres of it to Nice for a week. Dimitri and I showed up as summoned and had some more borscht. We must have got it down to the halfway mark, and it had improved with age.

But still. Borscht may be the Ukrainian breakfast of champions, and everyone knows we've been in training with the buffalo–grass vodka, and we have a lot of will, but still.

The good part of it was the guy who blew in from the Falklands, who was good enough to tell us about all the exciting sheep they have down there. There's nothing like the tales of the South Atlantic to pass the time while slogging through bowl after bowl of borscht. He declined a whack at it, perhaps fearing it was full of sheep.

The Server–lady Visits Town

Linda Thalman is not devious. She lives out of town in a place I call the Cadillac Ranch on the edge of thephoto, terrace dining prairie that runs down from the Ile–de– France to Chartres. It is flat and there's a lot of sky and if it's raining, it isn't shy about it. It can be pretty quiet too. It's not necessary to be deaf to not hear anything.

We dined on a terrace in February.

She said, "Find something for us to go and see." I looked in Metropole's Scène column, lifted three items and sent them off for her to choose one from. She picked one and I set my radio–alarms and we met near Victor's house in the Place des Vosges.

We toured the exhibition, which consisted of mostly tiny photos taken around 1850, of Victor Hugo and friends, and photographers, and their friends. It was dim, hard to read the legends, and I was 90 percent deaf. I had no comments to make. If you have a 'Brownie,' you might have similar photos.

Linda kept saying it didn't matter. The lunch was on her so I steered us to a nearby brasserie. We took our time because the service was slow – a popular place – it was empty when we finished, with only us taking the two–hour lunch.

It is harder talking to somebody who is deaf than listening hard when you are deaf, but Linda did her best. For what are probably obvious reasons, she wants more subscribers for her Paris In Sites Newsletter. I am perfectly willing to say that this free newsletter is full of interesting information because Linda writes it.

We tried to think up some special 'hook' as a reason to put this in here. But, this is February after all – there isn't much exciting going on except the weather. Better than a dog fight I guess. The weather I mean. If you have the same weather where you are, you could subscribe, and have a little more Paris in your life.

Irene's Flowers

Irene Benavente, who is an art photographer, does award–winning photos of flowers so real that they look like paintings, as you will see in her first exhibition in Paris. Beginning on Tuesday, 1. March, until Tuesday, 15. March. Except Sunday and Monday, from 14:30 to 19:00. At the Galerie Arcade Colette, in the Jardins du Palais Royal, 155. Galerie de Valois and 17. Rue de Valois, Paris 1. M&eaute;tro: Palais–Royal. InfoTel.: 01 42 86 05 38.

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