Packing for a vacation is always a hassle. Though I follow the rule, pack only half of whatever it is that I want to take. That’s worked for me over the years when it comes to my clothes, but reading material and something to write on has always presented me with a problem. That is until this year when I brought along with me to Paris a pocket sized Rhodia notebook instead of my standard sized Rhodia.

This handy little notebook fit perfectly in the back pocket of my jeans, in my jacket pocket and it even snuggled in comfortably next to a tube of lipstick in a small evening handbag I took with me when we went out for my birthday dinner at a very fancy restaurant.

I never know when I might want to jot down a story line, make note of a special sighting, or record something like a name, a food, a place or even an e-mail address.

I like to travel light: a camera, a notebook and a bit of money in my pocket.

Our first morning in Paris we sat in an outdoor café drinking coffee with hot milk; still groggy from our flight and fearful that I’d forget this wonderful moment, I took out the Rhodia, jotted down a few observations and took a photo of the moment.

This little notebook accompanied me on outings to many French eateries. The most noteworthy was an excursion into the depth of flavors of a Mouse au Chocolat that we ordered in a restaurant on the outskirts of what is said to be the largest flea market in the world. I was copying from the restaurant’s chalkboard menu what we had eaten for lunch and the waitress came up behind me and asked, really quite assertively, “Why are you copying our menu?” I was startled by her comment and she made me feel as though I might be doing something illegal, and I responded, “I want to remember.” She gave me a funny look and walked away.

My Rhodia and I traveled across many of the bridges that crisscross the Seine River.

Then there is the story of Djello, a fantastic husky that we encountered while strolling near a lake one cloudy afternoon on the outskirts of Paris. I could not resist taking a photo of this dog with its magnificent blue eyes. I told Mitzi, the dog’s owner, that I’d e-mail her a copy of the photo and I whipped out my Rhodia and copied down the name of the dog and the owners e-mail address. There was no fumbling for a scrap of paper; the notebook was very accessible and with a pen that I had clipped to the front cover it was all very easily recorded.

My Rhodia and I have looked up at the Eiffel Tower and marveled at how powerful this structure looked against the blue sky.

But I think that the most exciting moment for me and my Rhodia notebook came when we discovered that while on a tour of the Canal District in Paris we steamed right past the Exacota and Clairefontaine warehouse, the exporters of the Rhodia notebooks to the USA. I had no idea where this company was located in Paris and when I saw the familiar logo printed across the building I quickly whipped out my notebook and took a couple of photographs. That was a very cool experience and totally unexpected.

Even though the trip to Paris is over, the enjoyment is not finished yet, as I untangle my photographs and the notes that I have made in my Rhodia. There are no chocolate or coffee stains on the cover of this notebook, nor is there an greasy smears of the delicious French butter, there are, never the less, tons of memories jotted down on those Rhodia notebook pages.


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