This and that


For years, beside my bed in Paris, I've kept a copy of Viriginia's Woolf's Diary, which I read a few pages at a time at night. I bought the diaries as they were published and read them at the time; for the last few years I've been rereading them. But now I've reached the last volume, and in the last volume, the last two years of her life. War has just been declared--another war, she already lived through WWI. She is under stress, finishing her book about her friend Roger Fry (the painting on the right is Fry's 1917 portrait of Woolf); she has to force herself to work. And I'm not sure I'm going to read this volume to the end.

The quotidian: I've started going to the gym again, walking by my favourite bookshop, Compagnie, saluting Montaigne's statue and polishing his shoe for luck, on the square that faces the Sorbonne, a look-into the courtyard of Cluny Museum, which is being renovated. A couple of autumns ago there were some hollyhocks--volunteers--against a wall, popped up between the cobbles. I wrote a poem about that. Then the gym and home along the Bd St Germain, which has some stalls set up selling clothes...what have you. I walk fast, get impatient if I'm stuck behind amblers--should get over that.

I also began volunteering at the Soupe Populaire again--lots of old friends there, among the diners and among the volunteers, and especially the wonderful Noria, who is the paid cook and supervisor, a wonderful woman, with three children, the oldest of whom is now in his first year of medical school. She comes to work at 8, leaves home at 7, dropping her youngest, a four year old off at the creche, because it is too early for school--la Maternelle--the 'motherly school' or nursery school--at that hour. 

Today, this afternoon, I think I want to take a bike ride along the quai as far as I can go on the right bank, which is to the far end of the 15th arrondissement, I think. Tonight my daughter is coming late from London for an informal high school/lycee reunion with some of her friends.