Every week day I see small school children carrying backpacks which appear too large and too full for the size of their bodies. Every day I wonder what they have inside these bags that causes such a drooping downward weight.
Chinese New Year activities were starting up along rue Belleville. There were a group of young men and boys in shiny elaborate pantaloons with bright fringe around the legs. Many of them carried masks and I think they were all parts of one big creature preparing to march down the street. Firecrackers were set off often and loud. There was a band among them which was sort of practicing. No one was marching yet. Everyone was just milling around. There were red lanterns hanging from every pole and across the street for as far as we could see.
Three young men on skateboards came racing down the hill. Two of them were weaving in and around cars and people and through the traffic lights at terrifying speed. The third one was following them with a camera. He was going just as fast as the first two, but without any tricks and with only a little bit of weaving. I watched them pass and we continued our long walk up the hill. The skateboarders came along and overtook us as we walked. They were heading back uphill in order to come down again. The first two left the camera man far behind. He was walking slower because he had a motorcycle helmet on and his camera with its long lens was attached to the helmet. I think he found walking and looking down at the pavement difficult. A while later we came across them again. There were a lot of other people with them including a girl with a film board. They were all on the rue Piat. We watched as they took off and swerved widely out onto the rue Belleville starting their long and dangerous downhill sweep again. It was at least a one kilometer journey down to where we had first seen them. I hope they did not crash into the Chinese marching band
Three soldiers stand in front of every synagogue and every Jewish school that we pass. There are always three soldiers. If the street is narrow, one soldier might be across the street and the other two will be near the entrance. The soldiers wear full camouflage gear but the camouflage is made for the jungle or for somewhere green. It is not designed to blend in with the greys of city stone. Each of the soldiers has a machine gun diagonally in position across their chests. The gun is attached by a strap around the neck and back so the hands are completely free. Most of the soldiers are men but sometimes one of them is a woman.
An icon in a church was set into a special arched recess. I cannot remember the name of the church. The church was named after the icon. The icon itself was small and beautifully painted. It looked beautifully painted. It looked like a beautiful painting of a beautiful woman, but it was so small and so high above my eye level that I can only assume that it was beautiful. The tiny image, about the size of an A4 sheet of paper, was surrounded by dozens and dozens of rectangular pieces of stone each carved with the word MERCI. MERCI was the only thing on the majority of the stones, although a few of the stones also had initials and dates carved in smaller letters at the bottom. The stones with the word MERCI thanking the woman in the painted icon filled the entire recessed arch.
I found a playing card. It was a six of spades. EVH