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Smart Shopping

photo, parc, square vert galant, ile de la cite

The teardrop in the Seine, the Square Vert Galant.

Colds of the Week

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 21. February 2005:– I am beginning to think that the sky is not going to clear up and become icy sapphire blue like it does sometimes in February, glass–hard and so blue with the air so thin that you think you can fall up to space if you don't keep your hat on.

This means that I have to become reconciled to grey skies hovering not much higher than the Tour Montparnasse. These solid puffs, some looking like black lead, sometimes backed up in stacks on the other side of the cemetery as if they are sitting on a wild mountain range over there.

Tonight's TV–weather news has no relief on the horizon. If anything the outlook is getting worse. The whole north–east of the country looked like a drape of gray, falling ever deeper as Tuesday goes on. Inside the gray, the little hollow circles that mean snowflakes, coming closer, trying to join up with snow or sleet up on the Channel, out in Brittany. To fool people – brief flashes of sad sunlight, most likely in the morning.

Expect overnight to have a temperature of zero degrees, zooming up in the afternoon to a high of 3 degreesphoto, old poste coachhouse, rue boulard before falling back to maybe minus degrees early Wednesday morning, with an afternoon max predicted to be one lone degree.

Former post coach house in the 14th arrondissement.

Add to it a 60 kph wind angling down from the northeast, more of the clouds in the northeast, more of the snow, and the shy peeps of brightness. All of the same is in the cards for Thursday, but less forcefully with a day's high of 3 degrees, less wind, and maybe even more frequent periods of feeble sunlight.

In past years when we had almost decent weather in February, March used to be grim with a glacial kind of frozen climax at Easter. Maybe it'll be reversed this year and the whole town will be yellow with daffodils exactly five weeks from now.

Café Life

Smart Shopping

Clever shoppers plan their visits to the Monoprix. The problem can be too many clever shoppers at once all trying to avoid the dumb shoppers who don't know better or who are unable to avoid them. Me, I think even clever shoppers will be home having lunch at lunchtime.

This afternoon it looked like I'd won my bet as I swung in the door and picked up a basket with an almost clean bottom. Some of the baskets look like shoppers were hauling coal in them, but I suppose it must have been licorice. It just makes me feel better to put clean food in a clean basket, even if it is all in packages.

While in the depths of the small supermarket the PA announced that Monoprix would accept payment in cash or cheques, but not with payment cards. I governed myself and picked up only the one item I'd come for and did not do much scanning for other items, possibly on sale. Thus, without having been in the maze of a place more than four minutes I was ready to check out.

Two checkouts, with grumpy–looking operators, were closed. The other four out of seven that were open, all had long lines – this is where the 'empty' store's customers were lurking. Some smart shoppers looked as if they were doing their weekly chore. The rats!

Waiting in line at first I didn't understand why people were sprinting across the store on the other side of the checkouts. We are waiting here, and they are sprinting there. Some sort of new promo? Fast dashing in the Monoprix?

Time began to pass. Lines grew longer. An old lady jumped the line in front of me, cleverly saying she didn'tphoto, place vosges have much. One of the store workers came along and told the cashier not to accept cheques. Then a lady who had gone through sprinted off to the left. The lady behind her, in front of the old lady, held her place until the first sprinter returned – from across the street, up the block? – and then she sprinted off too.

View from Victor Hugo's apartment.

She came back with a bundle of cash. The old lady went through, hauled out a billfold with eight plastic cards. I held my breath. After a finger–touchy feely of recognition she unzipped a pouch and withdrew some notes. A 10€ note. I began to worry. Maybe 70 or 80 percent of shoppers pay with plastic or cheques. If this Monoprix is strictly on cash, it'll be empty quick.

But they must have planned for the emergency. I handed over my 10€ note and the grouch made change. I scooped up the item in the plastic bag, hauled on my gloves and got out of there. Next time I'll make sure it's rush hour before going back. What they do to clever shoppers shouldn't happen to a dog.


Even if I go to my café, which I don't do much anymore on account of having café at home, I am fairly unlikely to meet any Daguerreotypistas in it because they usually go to the café that used to be my café but isn't anymore because if I only have a café once a week I'd rather not have it in the shout club.

But, fairly often actually, café at home is weak, pitiful stuff at best, and on a cold and damp day after tramping up Daguerre there doesn't seen anything better in the world than to go in a smoke–filled café where folks are hanging out, drinking, playing the horses, arguing, watching the world pass, have a café myself and maybe read Libération.

So it was with some surprise that I noticed the back of Dimitri's fresh haircut, and found Dimitri's face onphoto, quai du louvre the other side of it. It was a long face, not much rosier for the empty glass of wine on the bar. Dimitri is under the weather. He has one of these winter colds. It is so bad he does not think another wine will fix anything. He is going to get his laundry and then, basta! – into the hole.

The Quai du Louvre on the right bank.

So he is about to stagger off when Uncle Den–Den staggers in. Uncle Den–Den looks like he died in Nice. He went down there to bask in the Riviera sunshine, a brilliant idea, no buts about it.

But, if I remember correctly, Uncle Den–Den came back fom San Francisco suffering, and it took him a while to get out of that. Then he went away at Christmas and came back on death's door, or wagon, and that took its time too. Here it is again, croaking before my eyes.

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