Büches de Noël

California celebrates rainfall is today's news. I heard from friends whose students have just won Rhodes scholarships, one of whom (the student) had been memorably articulate in Montaigne class I audited; my friends mentioned umbrellas, puddles, mud.

Here in Paris it is cold, on the cusp of freezing, which is to say the drizzle coming down looks and feels like sleet. I take my gloves when I go out, and then stuff them into my backpack for fear I'll lose them, like my reading glasses, somewhere, a week ago. An inexpensive drugstore pair, but I liked the Japanese fabric of the case, and anyway I hate losing things, as Elizabeth Bishop said. And also Robert Hass: all the new poetry is about loss, like the old poetry. 

I visited my friend Susan Cantrick yesterday. We talked and looked at her year's worth of work, which includes the large painting to the right of this paragraph; then we went to a cafe and talked some more. And then it was getting close to dinnertime; she walked home and I walked back to the Metro past flower shops full of fake firs with fake snow, some of it bright red, fuchsia. We will not have a Christmas tree, but maybe an olive tree branch, since it will be olive-tree-pruning time of year. 

An hour or so ago I rang the pastry shop in Carpentras to order bûches de Noël for 17 + people. Kerfuffle in the background. I pictured the receiver lying on a counter near some string for wrapping packages (with a loop for one's finger, so they can dangle without the contents shifting). At last someone came to the phone, apologised and asked if I would mind calling back later: they have a new system for the bûche de Noël orders this year, and it is not "à point" (working). They have, in fact, computerised the system. No more fat school notebook with the orders recorded in Madame Jouvaud's pale blue handwriting. Madame Jouvaud died in August.