le déchet : What the tourists regularly toss into our garden

Chief Grape
Jean-Marc and Kristi will be in Denver soon, attending a wine tasting of Provence and Chateauneuf du Pape wines that Chief Grape exports to Colorado. This event will take place September 13th from 3 to 6 PM at The Vineyard Wine Shop, 261 Fillmore Street, Denver, CO 80206. Tel : 303 355 8324 We look forward to seeing you there!

Today's Word: le déchet

    : waste, litter, rubbish, refuse

Les dechets

Les déchets sont faits pour être jetés dans des poubelles adaptées, pas dans les jardins.
Trash is made to be tossed into designated garbage cans, not into gardens.

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A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE


    by Kristi Espinasse

I received the following courriel from reader Joséphine....

Hi Kristi, I am wondering how you manage living on the beachside after living so many years in the vineyards? I imagine it is a little frenetic at times?

Coucou, Joséphine.

The first few months were strange indeed. It was awkward having strangers so close to our front porch, even if a brick muret and its scraggly hedge formed a boundary. Whereas a few rows of sunflowers lined the edge of our (previous) deck, now groups of tourists are springing up! There, where giant yellow tournesols once swayed in the wind, beachgoers bow forward in a constant flow toward the sea. Toddlers regularly throw tantrums (the injustice of having to return home after building sandcastles all morning!), and it is not uncommon for couples to meltdown, too, as they discover parking tickets, or les amendes, on their windshields and point the finger at one another ("Je t'avais dit, Maurice! Cinq euros--c'est pas assez pour la journée!").

This massive flux in summertime took some getting used to. Once, a group of seniors stood casing my fence (up one side...down the other) and I watched as, one by one the women lifted their cameras and began firing away, their lenses trained on a vignette of bombonnes in our yard! ("Fair enough!" I figured, remembering my years as a trigger-friendly amateur photographer roving the villages of France. I had my share of tongue-lashings by angry residents, I recalled, as I silently watched the women from behind my window and its spy-proof reflection.)
Bombonnes
Mais, chère Joséphine, there is one thing about living in a tourist mecca we will never grow used to or accept....and it is this:

Smokey and litter
All the litter! As waves of visitors file by on their way to the beach, some of them drop their garbage onto the street. Others set it on our fence (having sat there, smoking a cigarette). Still others toss their trash right into our garden! Beer bottles, napkins, even the odd rubber sole...are now "fixtures" in our yard (that is to say,  we regularly remove the litter, but it comes right back the next day!).

This morning, while planning a much-needed chicken-run (to run along the periphery of our yard) I was amazed at les déchets I found. Despite there being TWO poubelles within meters of our fence, passers-by tossed empty packs of cigarettes, plastic cups, a bottle top,  snack dispensers and plastic wrapping over our fence.

But what disturbed me most was a tiny pink bille...it must have come out of one of those toy guns. Were there more plastic billes in the garden? Not good for my grazing chickens or my curious, eats-anything chien!

Thank you very much for your question, Joséphine, and for the opportunity it offered to talk about litter. I hope, together, we all will find an answer. 


FRENCH VOCABULARY

le déchet = litter, waste, rubbish
le courriel = email
coucou = hi, hello
le muret = low wall
le tournesol = sunflower
une amende = fine, penalty, parking ticket
la bombonne (also bonbonne) = giant glass wine or jug
la bille = ball
le chien = dog
Je t'avais dit, Maurice! Cinq euros c'est pas assez pour la journée! = I told you, Maurice! Five euros is not enough for the day!

Smokey sad eyes
Smokey says "Utilisez les poubelles, s'il vous plaît!" Use the trash receptacles, please!

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
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A near disaster & Ouf! Phew!

Tiles and bamboo and golden retriever
Sometime during her second week in France, Mom moved out of grandson Max's room and into her own independent "space." Here's a view looking down from my bedroom, to Mom's "front patio" (really just the edge of our driveway that meets the house). In order to block the view of our cars--and the slew of tourists who pass by on their way to the beach--we've set up this privacy wall for Mom. As Jules slowly builds her nest out of what she has been given (a former "a wine cellar" I mentioned previously; in reality it is a badly converted garage.... We plan on renovating it for mom this spring. Meantime, Mom is a trooper even on difficult days when she can't get the old green curtain to slide across the ugly blue rod, or when a big rock (holding up a sink skirt) tumbles off the tiny kitchen counter--hitting her big toe! Then there's the European (only for peein'?) compost toilet. Excuse the bad joke but it helps to laugh at a time like this. (Easy for me to say!) Please wish Jules bon courage as she settles into her new life in France--not as glamorous as it may seem! More in a future post. For now, I have another story for you...

Today's word: OUF!

    : phew! (that was a close one!) 


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

  by Kristi Espinasse


I was all set to tell you about the miraculous relationship between our golden retriever and our chickens...when the former walked in with feathers all over him!

Des plumes partout....

Feathers on his cheeks. Feathers on his nose. Feathers on his lashes and...feathers in his throat? I ran over to my dog as little white puffs drifted to the ground like snowflakes landing on his paws--the gentle descent of plumes in contrast to the chilling scene going on in my mind.

"Smokey! What have you done? Qu'est-ce que t'as fait?!" I pried open my golden retriever's mouth and found feathers stuck on his tongue!

Hurrying outside I searched for our chickens, especially the Sussex hen, "Sweetie." Ouf! There she was--along with her sidekick, "Little Edie," eating her way through our veggie patch. Never was I so happy to see our feathered foragers ransacking the potager!  
Sweetie between the peppers and the lemon verbena


Sweetie's rump--with all its soft white feathers intact--faced the sky as she pecked at a pumpkin vine, right beside a tomato plant that had literally risen from the ashes and compost beneath her.

I shook my head and smiled but my relief was short lived when I noticed the state of the henhouse: a pile of feathers in the center. The plumes were much longer than chicken feathers... I wondered, C'était la tourterelle? Did one of the doves meet its demise inside?

The turtledoves sometimes wander into the poulailler to glean what seeds remain. I remembered, too, how Smokey sometimes enters the tiny poulailler (the door slightly larger than himself) to do the very same: eat birdseed!

Piecing together the evidence, it seemed Smokey had wittingly or not trapped a dove inside...and the temptation was apparently too much! My heart sank.

My mom searched the yard before delivering some good news: no dove to be found. The little tourterelle surely made it out of the henhouse and back up to the telephone line or its nest nearby.

Of course, there is that possibility that Smokey swallowed the little creature whole....  Quelle horreur! Perhaps we'd do better to focus on life's beautiful mysteries--such as how a bird dog continues to live in harmony with a couple of hens. Indeed, after losing his mama, a lonely Smokey has found a couple of sure companions.

Little Edie and Sweetie

FRENCH VOCABULARY
une plume = feather
partout = everywhere
ouf! = phew!
le potager = kitchen garden
le poulailler = hen house
c'était = was it
la tourterelle = turtle dove
quelle horreur! = how awful!

To Glean (Glâner) -- Don't miss this post from the archives, the story about Agnès Varda's must-see documentary The Gleaners and I. 

Hen house and turtle dove
Turle dove and chicken coup--and a collection of green bombonnes or "dame-jeanne's" for wine 

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


Gérer, débrouiller: How to Let Go...and Grow.

La Ciotat
Midsummer night in La Ciotat. Families at their pop-up picnic tables, people swimming into the night, and the historic shipyard in the background, beneath a mauve sky. I'm going to bottle up this peaceful scene and shake it out in bits--in the kitchen, in the bedroom--wherever there's conflict....

Two words today: gérer and débrouiller


   
: to manage and to sort things out

Audio File: Click here to listen to the following sentence

Il faut arrêter d'éssayer de gérer les gens et plûtot les laisser se débrouiller.
One must stop trying to manage people and, rather, let them sort things out.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristi Espinasse

Andale! Andale! Ariba ariba!
Along with the morning dew, a vapor of Spanish commands are rising from the studio below our bedroom. It's 6 a.m. From our open windows I recognize my Mom's voice and determine she is trying to get our golden retriever, Smokey (wanting attention after guarding by the foot of Mom's bed all night), to se casser (or, in kinder words, skedaddle!). 

I jump up and hurry over to the stairs...when something stops me in my tracks: The realization that I cannot, I must not, continue to micromanage every family member (this being a message from ALL my family members--except our sweet golden...).  No matter how tempting it is to assist, to sort out, to unravel their sticky situations, I have got to let my family--all three generations living under this roof--solve their own problems!

VAMOOSE! (Oooh, Mom is now desperate for slobbery Smokey to exit her room, pronto! I can just picture our 9-year-old golden, his head resting on the side of Mom's bed, drool coming out of his mouth. A near-death experience as a puppy means Smokey's tongue hangs permanently from the side of his mouth, causing him to drool excessively. Mais la bave n'a jamais fait du mal à personne! (A little spit never hurt anyone!)

Smokey beside Moms bed
Smokey's tongue looking normal. Usually, even closed-mouth, his tongue hangs out

Nope, not gonna help this time. Je ne me mèle plus! Je vais m'occuper de mes propres oignons! I'm going to mind my own business. Mom can handle a slobbery dog, my daughter can deal with her US passport renewal, my husband, brushing his teeth in the bathroom, will eventually discover his pillow is missing from his side of the bed. I need not call to him, "ton oreiller, tu l'as laissé en bas, devant la télé! You left your pillow downstairs, in front of the T.V." He'll figure it out himself tôt ou tard. What difference does it make whether I save my family a bit of time in the finding out and solving of things? 

Besides, every time I step in to their situations, my intentions are seen as either nagging or bossy or--and here's the latest--"verging on bullying!")

Who me? A bully? That's almost as bad as the time my husband called me a pitbull! I admit, that one was hard to swallow! But, over the past 6 months, I've come to see (acknowledge? accept?) this tendency to badger my family until they understand my point. But perhaps there is another way?....

The way of letting go and letting others do as they will....

Leaving the stairwell this morning, I got right back into bed. As the floor fan whirled beside me (week two of the heatwave), I could feel a smile forming across my face as I listened to birdsong outside my window...punctuated by the screeching of a magpie and a new, cantankerous melody:

"Andele! Andele! Arriba! Ariba! VAMOOOSE!!!"  

Haha! If it were me I'd tell Mom to try French or English (the languages my dog responds most to...). But that's the old me. The new me says nothing--and laughs more! Oui! La nouvelle moi elle dit rien. Elle rit souvent! And she takes the lessons, even those that are hard to swallow, in stride.

We may or may not be as others say we are (butterflies or pit bulls--or, more likely, somewhere in between). But in considering it all, in stopping to reflect on our own behavior, surely we grow.


SELECTED FRENCH VOCABULARY
gérer = to manage
se débrouiller = to sort something out for oneself
se casser = to get out of here
faire du mal = to hurt
la bave = spit, drool
se mêler = to meddle in, interfere in
s'occuper = to take care of
un oreiller = a pillow
tôt ou tard = sooner or later
le poulailler = henhouse, chicken coop

I leave you with a peaceful scene from our garden. Notice the top of the wooden stake. That's "Rusty", a turtledove that lives here. He loves our new chickens, follows them around, wanders into their pouilailler, and helps himself to dinner. "Help yourself"--a lesson we can all take to heart.

Turtledove tourterelle
Announcing a new way to support this French word journal: via check! If you are interested, email me at kristin.espinasse@gmail.com 

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California