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Entries from March 2005

la cachette

la cachette (kah-shet) noun, feminine 1. hiding-place; hideout Expressions: en cachette = on the sly, secretly en cachette de quelqu'un = behind someone's back .................................. Citation du Jour: Durant l'absence de pluie, ce sont les jeunes arbres qui jaunissent les premiers. Les vieux ont des cachettes souterraines qu'on appelle expérience. In the absence of rain, it is... Read more →

Original version: Last night the kids and I were invited to my husband's office for a "Welcome the New Employee" apéritif. The three of us Q-tipped our ears and shined our shoes in hopes of presenting the best version of ourselves before heading over to Jean-Marc's new bureau to hear him speak. An hour or so into the apéro, the group reduced itself to seven, including the young director and elder founder of the company, the latter inviting us to dinner. At the restaurant we waited in front of the reception desk, the men smoking clopes, the children mimicking a game of pool billiard in the room beyond (and doing quite well, I might add), and me practising the role of Delightful Wife. Nevertheless, a certain gêne had me balancing from foot to foot until, at one point, I could not wait any longer and tottered over to the reception desk to ask a pertinent question: "Où sont les 'vay say,' s'il vous plait?" "Whiskey? You want a whiskey?" the receptionist screamed. I shot a casual look over my shoulder, relieved to find the group carrying on as if nothing had happened. "Non! Non! Non!" I whispered, hoping to shush her up. "Vay say. Je voudrais un 'vay say'...." "Madame wants a whiskey!" the receptionist shouted to the bellman, before narrowing her eyes to scrutinize. Horrified is the word. J'étais horrifier! When the white left my face leaving red in its place, I reasserted my besoin: "No! A toilet, Madame. I WANT A TOILET!" Next, regaining composure, I caught up with the bellman (who'd understood, perfectly); running behind me, in close second, were Pride and Dignity. Read more →


La chasse aux oeufs / Egg hunting in Provence tremper (trahn-pay) verb 1. to soak, to drench Expressions: se tremper = to have a quick dip tremper les lèvres = "to wet one's lips," to take a sip trempé(e) = drenched avoir une caractère bien trempé = to have a set character être trempé jusqu'aux os =... Read more →

la motte

The village of La Motte in the Var region of France motte (mowt) noun, feminine ...used in the following terms: la motte de terre = lump of earth, clod la motte de gazon = turf, sod en motte = balled la motte de beurre = lump or block of butter Citation du Jour Deux mains jointes font... Read more →


Max, some time ago... Epuiser (ay-pwee-zay) to exhaust, to wear out Max has paired an orange-and-blue T-shirt with red sweat pants. I gaze at my son, thinking about how I need to explain to him the basics of fashion. For one, he needs to learn the rule on colors that clash: "No wearing orange with red!" On... Read more →


se garer à l'italien... (There's a nice, tiled sidewalk under there somewhere.) garer (ga-ray) verb 1. to park (car) also: se garer = to park a car Expressions: se garer de quelque chose/quelqu'un = to steer clear of something or someone ........................... Citation du Jour: On trouve dans la Bible beaucoup de situations du monde moderne. Par... Read more →

Original text ...................................... A Day in a French Life... My mother-in-law and I are on the back porch, sipping Diet Coke and eating pistachios, watching wildflowers spring up all over the lawn. Michèle-France is wearing her son's T-shirt; the words on the front read "Senor Frogs." Under the title, there is a cartoon of four grenouilles:* two of the frogs have on sunglasses, the other two, sun hats--all four frogs are in striped swim trunks. My belle-mère's* pearl necklace is just peeking out of the t-shirt's neckline; the combination frog t-shirt-with-pearl accoutrement makes an amusing, if unintended, fashion statement. Earlier I had picked up my belle-mère at the train station where she arrived from Marseilles. Pulling up to the curb, I noticed her short hair, which had been freshly colored a striking auburn; around her neck, a bright orange chiffon scarf. Her large Jackie O. sunglasses hid her pretty smile lines, but the coquet* gap between her two front teeth revealed itself when the corners of her lips turned up, "Salut!"* she sang, getting into my car. She had on her signature coral-toned lipstick and when I reached to kiss her cheek, I was engulfed in an Opium cloud of her favorite perfume. On her black cardigan she wore the brooch I brought her from my last trip to Arizona: a silver libellule,* the wings and cigar-like body were inlaid with mother-of-pearl and coral. Above the dragonfly brooch, she wore an heirloom cameo pin. "You look so chic!" I tell her. "Chic, c'est ça" she says, patting her stomach, reminding me of her battle with le poids.* Back home on the porch we tchatche* about tout et rien* including how a certain tante* is in good health--far from reaching "le bout du rouleau," or "the end of the roll". Il fait chaud ici--It's hot here," she says, pinching her wool pants. "I don't know what to wear this time of year." I sit facing her in a tank top and cropped jeans, sipping my Coca Light.* "I know what you mean." "Nice shoes..." she says. "Oh, I've had these for... EVER," I reply, giving a typical belle-fille* response to her belle-mère, though it is entirely unnecessary in view of our unusual daughter-in-law/mother-in-law complicité.* "My shoes," she looks down turning two feet outward, "I've had since le Roy d'Espagne." "Oh la la!" I say, and we both laugh. (Le Roy d'Espagne is the neighborhood in Marseilles where she lived when I met her son, almost 15 years ago.) Suddenly those shoes represent so much to me: a lifetime or two (my son's and daughter's, combined), the duration of our belle-mère/belle-fille friendship, and the number of years that I've known my husband. The patent-leather loafers with the muted square buckle had appeared at marriages, baptisms, funerals, hospital stays and innumerable get-togethers in between. I'd seen the shoes dulled, I'd seen them tattered, I'd seen them buffed, I'd seen them battered--effectively reflecting the mood of the epoch in question. But today. Oh, today. Qu'est-ce qu'elles brillent--How they shine! Glossary of Read more →

le bourgeon

le bourgeon (boor-zhon) noun, masculine 1. bud 2. pimple, spot Also: le bourgeon gustatif = taste bud Citation du Jour: Le plus timide bourgeon est la preuve qu'il n'y a pas de mort réelle. / The most timid bud is proof that there is no real death. --William Blake ....................................... A Day in a French Life... Do... Read more →

Never miss a word or photo: sign up to receive these posts. Photo of blue volets taken in Roquebrune-sur-Argens... le volet (vo-lay) noun, masculine 1. shutter 2. constituent (politics) 3. (folding) section, part (of leaflet, program) A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse The shutter outside my window flaps open, then closed, open, closed... CLACK... Read more →


fichu(e) (fee-shoo) adjective 1. (bad) wretched, lousy; rotten; (capable) able Expressions: c'est fichu = it's had it être bien fichu(e) = to be well put together (physique) être mal fichu(e) = to be under the weather, to feel lousy ..................... Citation du Jour: Quand tout est fichu, il y a encore le courage. When all is lost,... Read more →