Relâcher: A day to fly a kite (or fly like a kite!)

Poppies and bees
A vocabulary-packed Sunday letter for you today. The regular edition will return in a fortnight or less.

Bonjour,

For the second time in four weeks, I'm breaking my "no working on Sunday" rule. My Dad and Marsha arrive Tuesday and I'm in a flurry of last-minute To-Do's--including keeping up this blog--which is silly because, really, a year from now who will even remember whether or not a post went out "twice-weekly" in June of 2018? I should relax and just enjoy this day. Tomorrow will come and go. A chaque jour suffit sa peine....

But it is no trouble, or peine, when my Dad and belle-mère visit. Any "flurry" goes back to my perfectionistic strivings (and these are only strivings, for if you took a shower in our guest bathroom--which I did just by chance this morning--and thank God for that!--you'd see spider webs on the ceiling and when you reached for the savon... il y aura que dalle (there wouldn't be any)...because I don't buy shower soap! No, I'm too practical for that (I use a tout-en-un-- an all-in-one shampoo. I can even wash my bathing suit with it!)

Even so, I'm adding "toile d'araignée" to my to-do list--as well as savon, and après-shampooing (I don't have cream rinse in my guest bathroom either. Je suis trop pratique : when the kids come home I give them my cream rinse--then I rouspète (rouspéter, to grumble) when I go to condition my hair, having forgotten the bottle's downstairs! 

Back to last-minute to-dos... this morning I'm all over the place, and a little bit rouspéteuse that my husband is away kitesurfing for the weekend. But I 'm not really mad at Mr High-in-the-Sky. Deep down I admire Jean-Marc for "living each day"--especially le dimanche. Sunday is the perfect day to dream and to play (unless you work at the mall or in a restaurant or at a vineyard, which I did. In that case you need to designate another day in which to relâcher, or let go).

Smokey golden retriever epuisette
Smokey's doing yoga while I'm getting ready to collect pond scum for my permaculture garden!

So off I go, back to my favorite morning activity: using my new, chouette, épuisette -- a Mothers Day gift from Jean-Marc. The net-on-a-pole allows me to go fishing in my pond...for mulch! As the pepper tree loses its tiny leaves, they collect on the pond's surface....

As the leaves swell with nutritive water (so as not to say fish poop) I see it all through a Willy Wonkian lense: only, my garden is my chocolate factory. Zipping back-n-forth from the fountain-pond to the vegetable beds, in a world of my own, I am, finally, in my element. Oompa oompa ooompa-dee-doo...let those cobwebs collect in the bathroom--I'll figure out how to make them garden fodder, too!)

Enjoy your week while I catch up with mon père. A bientôt, chers lecteurs!

Amicalement,
Kristi


FRENCH VOCABULARY
à chaque jour suffit ça peine = each day is enough trouble of its own
la belle-mère = mother-in-law (also can mean "stepmother")
le savon = soap
après-shampooing = conditioner
que dalle = nada, nothing
toile d'araigner = spider web
tout-en-un = all-in-one
rouspeteuse = complainer
dimanche = Sunday
chouette = cool
epuisette = shrimp net

Sauterelle grasshopper anis dill plant flowering
Look closely at the flowering dill...see an Oompa Loompa or a sauterelle?

The less creators have to worry about their funding platform, the more they can focus on what everyone wants them to do: create. --Ethan Siegel, Forbes Magazine

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my post. 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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"Sent with love and gratitude for all of your wonderful, insightful and creative stories and photographs. My life is enhanced reading your books and blogs beyond measure! May you continue to be blessed doing what you love and feel the gratitude of your devoted readers. Appreciation, hugs and love to you and your beautiful family!"
--Lisa


Escalader: the story of Mamoudou Gassama, "The Spiderman of the 18th"

French president Macron and Mamoudou Gassama
"The Spiderman of the 18th" speaks with the President. Mamoudou Gassama's selfless act awarded him more than citizenship, a job, and a bravo from the President, it has given him--and all of us--l'éspoir in humankind. Let's hope that after the media invasion, this former refugee will be left in peace--to grow and to find happiness, and, finally, a bit of rest, in France. Read about this man's bravery.

Today's word: escalader

    : to scale, to climb

Listen to Jean-Marc read the sentence below, and today's word, in French: 

Click here to listen

Filmé par des passants, l’acte spontané de Mamoudou Gassama samedi à Paris a été vu des millions de fois sur les réseaux sociaux : on le voit escalader, à mains nues et en moins de trente secondes, la façade d’un immeuble parisien pour sauver un enfant de 4 ans suspendu à un balcon au 4e étage. --www.ladepeche.fr

Filmed by passersby, the spontaneous act of Mamoudou Gassama Saturday in Paris has been seen millions of times on social networks: we see him climb, with bare hands and in less than thirty seconds, the facade of a Parisian building to save a 4-year-old child hanging on a balcony on the 4th floor.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristi Espinasse

By Monday morning, the heroic act of Mamoudou Gassama was all over the media. In awe along with the rest of France, I sat with my coffee, in bed, reading about the 22-year-old Malian refugee who had acted on instinct to save a 4-year-old child from imminent death. In his parents' absence (the father had stepped out for a few courses, or items at the store), the petit bonhomme wandered out onto the terrace of a 5th-floor apartment...and ended up dangling from the balcony.

Mamoudou, scaling to the 5th floor...

In the 18th Arrondissement of Paris...
As a crowd gathered below, screaming in horror, the young Malian man, who had been walking past, quickly assessed the situation before springing--quite literally!--to action. Within 30 seconds he had scaled the side of the building, going from balcony to balcony--at times jumping to reach the next level. Thank God he did not miss the bar! 

Reaching the 5th floor he landed on the balcony, having swooped up the crying child. The two safe inside the apartment, Mamadou had to sit down, his legs were trembling so badly. One can imagine his emotions were every bit as shaken. He had just taken a selfless risk, and could have easily slipped to his own death. 

Mamoudou recounted the incident to journalists:

"J'ai eu peur quand j'ai sauvé l'enfant et puis on est allés dans le salon, je me suis mis à trembler, je n'arrivais plus à tenir sur mes pieds, j'ai du m'asseoir" I was afraid when I was saving the child, and then we went into the living room and I began to tremble. I could no longer stand up with my feet. I had to sit down.

Dubbed "The Spiderman of the 18th"
In a second act of bravery, this Malian refugee faced an onslaught of reporters outside the hospital, where the firefighters had taken him and the child.  

Watching the news again Monday night, I was struck by this young man's composure and ability to speak a foreign language under a barrage of questions and the blaring, flashing camera lights. 

When he woke up, Saturday morning, the man who had escaped to France only last September, could never have dreamed the start of a new week would include a visit to the guilded salon of L'Elysee, a personal bravo and a job offer by French President Macron, and the gift of French citizenship; a cadeau even more precious to a young man who had travelled from from Mali to Burkina Faso, to Nigeria, and to Libya, where he was beaten before managing to get on a boat and cross the sea to Italy. His hope was to reach somebody who could help him, he who had been displaced from a very young age. On his way, he ended up helping a child--every bit as displaced as Mamadou had been.

We wish Mamoudou bon courage and bonne continuation, especially as he faces all the attention--the good and the bad (the jealousy, the questioning, the prying)-- that comes with being thrown into the spotlight.

As for the job? If he accepts, Mamoudou will soon be working as a fireman in Paris. I think you would agree, dear reader, that he more than passes the physical fitness test! More than that, he is an example to all of us to not hold back, to protect the innocent, and to be as graceful and recongizant as he, before a media flurry--or simply life's flurry.

Mamoudou Gassama interview on RMC
"Dieu merci, je l'ai sauvé." Thank God, I saved him. "Je l’ai fait parce que c’est un enfant. J’aime beaucoup les enfants. Je n’ai pas pensé aux étages. Je n’ai pas pensé au risque." I did it because it was a child. I love children. I didn't think about all the floors. I didn't think about the risk.

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my post. 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    
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"Sent with love and gratitude for all of your wonderful, insightful and creative stories and photographs. My life is enhanced reading your books and blogs beyond measure! May you continue to be blessed doing what you love and feel the gratitude of your devoted readers. Appreciation, hugs and love to you and your beautiful family!"
--Lisa


French Mothers Day + J'ai la dalle - my son keeps saying this. What does it mean?

Hammock and Smokey
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Today's phrase: avoir la dalle

 : to be hungry

Click here to listen to the following sentence:

J'ai la dalle. J'ai la dalle. Maman, j'ai très très faim...il n'y a rien à manger dans le frigo! -Max
I'm hungry. I'm hungry. Mom, I'm really really hungry....there's nothing to eat in the fridge!


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristi Espinasse

The eve of French Mothers Day, my son and daughter appeared. I had been making dinner for their father (due home from work at the wine shop in the next hour), when suddenly our omelette-for-two became an occasion to casser la croûte

As we shared scrambled eggs (my omelettes so often end up this way...) the kidults came up with ideas for Mothers Day morning:

"I'll get up early. We can have coffee together before I leave for work!" Jackie's offer conjured up a cozy garden scene, the two of us curled into chairs drinking café-au-lait, birdsong in the background.... "And we can go to the beach for a swim...." 

Not to be outdone, Max offered to take me to lunch, to Bandol, where his sister works. Talk about a perfect Mothers Day plan!

Max is 23 now and Jackie will be 21 in September
   Our kidults, Max and Jackie.

Mothers Day morning, Jean-Marc headed back to Marseilles for his Sunday shift at the cave à vin. Meantime, my daughter overslept...with just enough time to peck me on the cheek, before hurrying out the door....

Max was passed out in his bed after returning home from la boîte de nuit at 5 a.m. I'll let him sleep until 11, I thought, and then we'll head out to the restaurant. It'll be crowded in Bandol, but Max will drop me right in front of the establishment, in true Mothers Day favor!

En attendant, I decided to putter around the garden and enjoy my fête....and that's when I discovered our carport was empty. No cars! Oh, yeah, that's right: I'd forgotten the three of us are now sharing one car (ever since Max sold his, before he began his exchange program in Mexico!)

Oblivious to our stranded situation, Max lavished in his sleep while I began to wonder about lunch--and so did Smokey--my ever-accountable, always ready to celebrate 3rd child.

The restaurants in our area were booked for la Fête des Mères. I decided to décongeler a few hamburgers from the freezer. I began frying some onions.... Adding the viande hâché, and some rice, I let the ingredients cook through while collecting some salad greens from the garden beds (which are literally beds--made up of our son's old bed frame and its sliding drawers!) 

I woke my son in time to enjoy lunch out on the porch, beneath the flowering pepper tree. "It's delicious," Max said. I really love the sauce, he added.

"Those are caramelized onions with honey," I pointed out

"But, I have to tell you something, Mom...." Max said, staring into his empty plate. "J'ai la dalle!"

So that is what he had been murmuring all week, "I'm hungry!" Well, I don't feel too sorry for him. There's something called a frigo here in our house, and there's food in there. Donc, sert-toi, mon fils! 


FRENCH VOCABULARY
casser la croûte = to break bread together
la boîte de nuit = nightclub
en attendant = in the meantime
décongeler = to thaw, defrost
la viande hâche = hamburger meat
j'ai la dalle = I'm hungry
le frigo = fridge
sert-toi = serve yourself
Kristi Espinasse (2)
Mon cadeau pour la fête des mères, from Max (Jackie gave me a beautiful bouquet, on American Mothers Day, a few weeks earlier)

Look at that bracelet! Max is forgiven for not taking me to the restaurant by cab, by bike (seated on the handlebars, wheee!), by piggyback, or by puce (we could've hitchhiked). This reminds me of something my belle-mère would've said, to make us all laugh. Which reminds me, encore, how much we missed Michèle-France on French Mothers Day, and every day. 

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my post. 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


"Sent with love and gratitude for all of your wonderful, insightful and creative stories and photographs. My life is enhanced reading your books and blogs beyond measure! May you continue to be blessed doing what you love and feel the gratitude of your devoted readers. Appreciation, hugs and love to you and your beautiful family!"
--Lisa