1. Today was picture day a la garderie, without the drama and hysterics of last year. According to Helena it went very well; she did not make faces, she blessed the photographer with nice smiles and willingly took various poses with flowers. According to the note left by her éducateur, they somehow managed to coax a smile out of her in the end. I'm just glad there were no tears.
2. I had some errands to run this morning, and very conveniently I polished off the last bite of my croissant aux amandes just outside of one of my now-favoured used book stores, so I went in. I came out with The Charmer, by Patrick Hamilton. The cover illustration is perfectly charming, and the back cover tells me it was dramatized for Masterpiece Theatre. Inside the cover I learn it was originally titled Mr Stimpson and Mr Gorse (1953). The disclaimer says, "All the characters in this book are entirely imaginary. So also are Mr Stimpson's Crossword Puzzles, the clues to which the reader is advised not to be beguiled into attempting to solve." I am beguiled.
3. I said I'd take a little break from Mr Hamilton, but I don't think I want to after all. I had started eyeing another book — well, erm, reading it actually — I ordered it, it arrived, I had to sample the goods — but I'd been meaning to save that one for my vacation next week. So now I'm all in a tizzy — what do I read now, and what do I read then?
4. I've temporarily abandoned my French reading of The Red and the Black. I've been trying so hard to stay on pace, not to get ahead, that all of a sudden there was no time for it or I'd be falling behind. But this is temporary. Stendhal and I will just have to get along in English for a little while. Besides, my French edition is away on business this week with my personal translator.
5. Helena wants a Dora birthday cake. I haven't got a clue where to find one. I'd had the idea to order an "edible image" I could plaster onto a cake of my own devising, but that idea didn't occur to me till after the shipping time window had closed. I could not find Dora candles. I did find a marzipan Dora, but she looked kind of creepy, and Helena doesn't like marzipan (yet). (I remember getting marzipan "fruits" in my Christmas stocking when I was 4 and thinking them horrid.) For all the lovely bakeries in my neighbourhood, their cakes are elegant and for those of discriminating taste, like myself, but sadly not for the likes of my almost-4-year-old daughter. Her birthday is Monday; family will gather to celebrate on Sunday. I am so screwed.
6. We've attended 3 birthday parties in the last 2 months. Helena hadn't expressed any interest in a party of her own, but when invitations to the most recent fête were distributed, she asked if she also could give out cards for her birthday. My understanding is that this is not about a party per se, but that she wants to give something to her friends by way of celebration. (I've been thinking to bring helium balloons to the daycare that her classmates can take home. Maybe.) However, when I picked Helena up yesterday, little Mathilde approached to show me the billet Helena had given her — a half-centimetre square paper with a green scribble dot — to fêter sa fête. I am so screwed.
7. Just the other day I read about Adèle and Simon, by Barbara McClintock. Today I had the opportunity to turn its pages. Utterly charming! I must have this for my little girl. (But it'll hold till Christmas, I think.)
8. On my way home, I missed my metro stop, kind of; that is, I forgot I had to change to another line. I wasn't even reading, or engaged in serious daydreaming; I was simply mistaken and confused, convinced this train would take me to my doorstep. I have often imagined this scenario, but it's never happened before today.