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Entries from November 2005

robinet

Place Robinet = 'Faucet Place (c) Kristin Espinasse
La Place Robinet in Brignoles

le robinet (ro-bee-nay) noun, masculine
  1. tap, faucet

Hear my daughter Jackie pronounce the word "robinet": Download robinet2.wav

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Citation du Jour:
Le talent est comme un robinet. Quand il est ouvert, on peut écrire. L'inspiration est une farce que les poètes ont inventée pour se donner de l'importance.

Talent is like a faucet. When it is open, one can write. Inspiration is a farce which the poets have invented to lend importance to themselves.
--Jean Anouilh

A Day in a French Life...
At Le Central café in the Place Caramy the zucchini omelets were fluffy, served with a side salad and frites. My friend Corey and I had met for coffee. We hadn't meant to stay and eat, but when conversation stretched on and the waiter began setting tables for lunch, Corey looked up and noticed baskets of pain.* "You can always tell if a restaurant is good by the bread they serve," she said. We asked for couverts* and settled in.

Over lunch, we talked about the unexpected charm of Brignoles, a city we'd lived near for years, but had never visited. While Corey had worked in antiques fairs outside the centre ville,* she'd never ventured into the walled city and former summer residence of the Counts of Provence. As for me, I'd only visited the local supermarket, beyond the ramparts, far from where the counts once roamed.

Walking through the maze of centuries old homes attached one to the other and rising to the sky, we exchanged impressions. "Do you know what this is?" Corey asked. I'd seen the metal rings dangling from the sides of buildings but never knew their purpose. "Villagers used to tie reins to them," she said. Holding a ring, I imagined an 18th century street scene with a horse nuzzling a metal anneau,* bored by the wait. Presently, just down a path no larger than the tail end of a range rover, workers were digging up the street, attending to modern plumbing.

Not far from la Place Robinet, named after its proximity to the "four seasons" fountain, we could just trace the outline of an old window. "Do you know why they fill them in?" Corey said. She explained that residents were taxed for each fenêtre* and that homeowners would fill extra windows with brick and mortar to avoid paying--I'd always thought it was for extra privacy or to discourage thieves--just one of the 'idées fausses'* I've plucked from my opinionated head. Another was my belief that Brignoles would be as exciting to view as a drippy faucet.

..................................................................................................................
*References: le pain (m) = bread; les couverts (mpl) = place settings; centre ville = town center; un anneau (m) = ring; la fenêtre (f) = window; une idée fausse = a false idea

.........................................................................................................
Words_in_a_french_life Words in a French Life: "...a heart-winning collection from an American woman raising two very French children with her French husband in Provence, carrying on a lifelong love affair with the language."
...........................................................................................................

Also:
le robinet d'incendie armé (RIA) =
fire hose

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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"I have enjoyed this blog for years and watched your children grow up. You are staying strong through all the changes. Merci pour tout."
--Betty D.


battre

la vigne battue = the beaten vine (c) Kristin Espinasse
The verb "battre" as witnessed by a somber vine after the vent du nord/northern wind swept through a medieval village, beating crimson leaves to the ground.

battre (batr) verb
  1. to beat, to defeat
  2. to strike, to hit
  3. to thresh, to churn; whip, whisk
      Also: se battre = to fight

Listen: hear the word "battre" pronounced

Conjugation: je bats, tu bats, il/elle bat, nous battons, vous battez, ils/elles battent

Expressions:
battre des mains = to applaud
battre les cartes = to shuffle cards
battre froid à quelqu'un = to give someone the cold shoulder
battre la campagne = to let one's mind wander
battre de l'aile = to be in a bad way
battre le fer pendant qu'il est chaud = to strike when the iron is hot

...............................
Citation du Jour:
Le monde est un endroit magnifique pour lequel il vaut la peine de se battre.
The world is a wonderful place and worth fighting for.
--Ernest Hemingway

.......................................
A Day in a French Life...

The only thing more daunting than making chocolate mousse for les français* is making the fluffy dessert for a few Francophile food writers.

When my mousse turned to mud on Saturday night and our 9 French guests could be found wrestling with the silverware, pushing the spoons in and pulling them out of the chocolate sludge, I knew it was the eggs. Pas assez battus.*

On Sunday I retraced my mud-producing steps, taking out the mixer, the eggs, the salt and the chocolate bar with the French instructions written on the back. When the salted egg whites had been beaten, folded into the chocolate/yolk mix and chilled for three hours there was nothing left to do but study my invités,* Cheryl and Bill.* This time, instead putting spoon to mousse as one might put pick to ice, my guests had only to sip. While version one was something to bite into, version two was buvable.*

As I fine-tune the battle plan for version three, I realize success or failure, or the chocolate's ability to foam and not fudgen or flop, has a little to do with beating one's odds, and a lot to do with batting one's oeufs.*

................................................................................................................
*Reference: les français = the French; pas assez battus = not beaten enough; invité(e) = guest; Cheryl and Bill are authors of cookbooks including this one); buvable = drinkable; oeuf (m) = egg

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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"I have enjoyed this blog for years and watched your children grow up. You are staying strong through all the changes. Merci pour tout."
--Betty D.


livraison

peinture = paint (c) Kristin Espinasse photo: sign along the side of the road near les Issambres (Mediterranean coastal town)

Reminder: You can cheer on a new author now by ordering her book today!

livraison
(lee-vray-zohn) noun, feminine
  1. delivery

Hear my son Max pronounce the word "livraison": Download livraison2.wav

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Expressions:
livraison à domicile = "we deliver"; door-to-door delivery
payable à la livraison = payable on delivery

...........................
Citation du Jour:
Le risque de se livrer à l'inessentiel est lui-même essentiel.
The risk of surrendering to what is not essential, is, in itself, essential.

--Maurice Blanchot

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A Day in a French Life...

The boulangère's* eyes leave mine, hit the ground and bounce back faster than I can say "Bonjour, madame." My chin now flat against my neck, mouth agape, I follow the trail she's just burnt until my eyes catch on my drawstring pantalons,* seeing them as if for the first time. The pink cotton fabric is offset by a green frog motif. Life-size frogs. Toads, actually. Beneath each crapaud* is the phrase "Toadily Cool!"

Speechless, I look up to the cypress for support. If the tree had eyes, it was rolling them at this point. I want to tell the boulangère that the PJ's were a gift, that I have other vêtements de nuit*--without frogs, without phrases. Instead, I accept the paper bag that she hands me through the bars of our front gate.

Two days later, the boulangère's truck is idling before our front gate again, true to the delivery schedule we'd agreed to when the bread maker came prospecting last week ("Vous voulez qu'on vous livre le pain, madame?"* she'd said). This time I am wearing a velour two-piece in framboise* but before I can make it outside to erase her last impression, she's hung the sac à pain* on the gate, returned to her truck and put it into first.

I run out to the driveway as the boulangère speeds off. Beneath the cypress tree, I stand waving "merci" with a confidence that only framboise-sans-frogs* can give. I can just make out the boulangère's regard* in the rear-view mirror of the truck. Satisfied, I look up to the cypress for approval. If the tree had a head, it was shaking it.

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*References: boulanger(ère) mf = baker; pantalon (m) = pants; le crapaud (m) = toad; le vêtement de nuit (m) = pajamas; Vous voulez qu'on vous livre le pain, madame? = You would like us to deliver the bread?; la framboise (f) = raspberry (color); sac à pain = bread bag; framboise-sans-frog = (raspberry colored pajamas without frogs); le regard = fixed look

References to the French word livraison in litterature:

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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"I have enjoyed this blog for years and watched your children grow up. You are staying strong through all the changes. Merci pour tout."
--Betty D.


cueillir

Cueillir photo: Olive trees and grapes vines in Taradeau

cueillir (kuuh-yeer) verb
  1. to pick, to gather
  2. to catch, to snatch

Hear my son Max pronounce the French word "cueillir": Download cueillir2.wav
.....................
Expression:
cueillir à froid = to catch off guard

.............................
Citation du Jour:
Le bonheur est une fleur qu'il ne faut pas cueillir.
Happiness is a flower one must not pick.
--André Maurois

.......................................
A Day in a French Life...

In the kitchen I find Jean-Marc frying brown-shelled oeufs* on our new stovetop. In the oven there is a sizzling cheese pizza, whose box has been neatly arranged next to the cheminée*--kindling for tonight's feu.* "C'est prêt!"* Jean-Marc shouts, and three of us head to the salon* to fight for the best seats.

Over dessert, and once he's fed us into a happy, easygoing mood, my husband mentions the olive trees that need to be cueillis* and the porch that needs sweeping. "I'll pick!" Max says, choosing the lesser of two evils. Jackie begins to complain, switching to psychologie inversée* for a winning result. "I'll sweep! I get to sweep first this time!" she says. I forget about my plans for a siesta when my daughter's enthusiasm and my son's begging have me vying for a place either behind the broom or under the heavy branches of an olivier.*

The nap would have been a mauvaise* idea anyway, I reason, stepping from the chilly house into the sunny yard where ten olive trees, some no taller than 8 year-old Jackie, are offering up marble size fruit. The colorful skins of the olives range in tone from granny apple green to eggplant purple. As Jackie and I pick, I hear the sweep of Max's broom as he pushes curled, colorless leaves off the patio. The metal wind chime hanging from my neighbor's parasol pine tinkles from beyond. I look over to our own wind chimes; beyond them Jean-Marc is painting the shutters in a shade of green best described as sauge.*

As I face the olive tree, the sun warms the back of my head causing any lingering doubts to defrost and melt away. I begin to think about how picking olives is not such a big chore after all. Hélas,* the clouds inch forward and before long I am zipping up my coat. As I watch the sun slip behind the nuages,* I wonder if my daughter could use some of her psychology on them as well.

..................................................................................................................
*References: un oeuf (m) = egg; une cheminée (f) = fireplace; le feu (m) = fire; C'est prêt! = It's ready!; le salon (m) = living room; cueillis (cueillir) = picked; psychologie inversée (f) = reverse psychology; un olivier (m) = olive tree; mauvais(e) = bad; la sauge (f) = sage; hélas = unfortunately; le nuage (m) = cloud

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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"I have enjoyed this blog for years and watched your children grow up. You are staying strong through all the changes. Merci pour tout."
--Betty D.


pinceau

  old French facade - vieille façade française (c) Kristin Espinasse
  Window and clothesline above an old shop in the village of Les Arcs-sur-Argens.

pinceau
pehn-so
noun, masculine
paintbrush


Breezing past our living room, Jean-Marc is wearing a long African robe and a five o'clock shadow. In his left hand he is holding a small can of touch-up paint and in his right, a wet paintbrush.

I have grown to accept my husband's taste in lounge wear and the fact that he sees no reason to change into work clothes for his latest DIY project.

For a nostalgic moment I remember back to when he bought that robe, or "boubou". It was in '92, during one of his missions d'audit in Africa. Though he did not like his short stint as an accountant, he loved Djibouti. When he wasn't stuck in an office verifying spreadsheets at a local petroleum company, Jean-Marc enjoyed fishing with the locals in a deep, blue bay along the sea.

"Ça va, Mr. Touch-up?" I tease, following my husband through the house. I can't help but want to put in my two cents' worth. "You missed a spot! T'as oublié celle-la!"

The man in the robe responds by playfully poking me in the nose with the wet end of the pinceau. When I complain, he counters: "C'est lavable à l'eau."

Moving quickly through our little house, Jean-Marc brushes paint over child-size fingerprints and across chipped baseboards in a  quest to cover up grease marks, scuffs, and smudges.

"Grab a paintbrush!" he calls, when passing by the kids' rooms. "Allez, on y va!"

Because Mr. Touch-up forgets to mention where he's been, the kids and I are never sure just which surfaces are wet and when to watch out. It is the cream-colored streak across the seat of my pants (where I've backed into a wet wall) or beneath Max's palm or on Jackie's fingertip that reminds us that the touch-up artist has struck again. Touché!


Your Edits Here! Thanks for checking grammar and punctuation. Is the story clear enough? Good to go? Share your thoughts, here in the comments box. P.S. don't forget to check the vocab section. It will appear in the book as you see it here... Thanks!

French Vocabulary

le boubou
African tunic

une mission d'audit
an audit

Ça va?
everything all right?

t'as oublié celle-là
you forgot this one

le pinceau
 (m)
paintbrush

c'est lavable à l'eau
it's washable with water

allez! on y va!
come on! let's go!

touché!
gotcha!

 

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    
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"I have enjoyed this blog for years and watched your children grow up. You are staying strong through all the changes. Merci pour tout."
--Betty D.


la fosse

     Marseilles
     The port in Marseilles

la fosse (fos) noun, feminine
  1. pit  2. grave

Listen: Hear the word fosse pronounced: Download fosse.wav

Also:
la fosse aux lions = lions' den
la fosse d'orchestre = orchestra pit
la fosse septique = septic tank

...........................
Citation du Jour:
La musique chasse la haine chez ceux qui sont sans amour. Elle donne la paix à ceux qui sont sans repos, elle console ceux qui pleurent.

Music chases away hate in those that are without love. It gives peace to those who are without rest, and consoles those who cry.
--Pablo Casals

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A Day in a French Life...

What do the French do after a late-night concert? Analyze, bien sûr!* When the lights came on inside le Dôme* in Marseilles last night and the band Coldplay* had said its last remerciements,* 7000 of us turned on our heels and crowded toward la sortie.*

"Extraordinaire! Extraordinaire!" Jean-Marc said, pulling on his coat.
"Bluffant!"* my friend Michèle added.

The analysis continued at the Vin Sobre* bistrot where nine friends celebrated the Beaujolais Nouveau* and a midnight meal including antipasti, charcuterie,* fromage,* and andouillette.* Seated around the table, we talked about the excellent concert seats we'd secured just beyond the lively fosse.* Between sipping and savoring, we critiqued the lead singer's French, which we all agreed was good. Some of the friends spoke about favorite Coldplay albums while comparing notes on the singer's concert voice, which ranged from très aiguë* to grave.* Finally, we appreciated the mise en scène, including falling yellow balloons the size of bean-bags and the ever-changing giant screen showing close-ups of the band or black and white images that gave the music an added dimension.

At a quarter to two in the morning, we asked the waiter for l'addition,* kissed the restaurateur goodbye and headed home, the discussion of Coldplay still warm on our lips.

......................
References: bien sûr = of course; le Dôme = a concert hall in Marseilles; Coldplay = UK band (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coldplay); les remerciements (mpl) = thanks; la sortie (f) = exit; bluffant = breathtaking, impressive; Le Vin Sobre restaurant (http://www.levinsobre.com); Beaujolais nouveau (http://tinyurl.com/c7nmp); la charcuterie (f) = cold cuts (pork); le fromage (m) = cheese; l'andouillette (f) = pork sausage made with tripe; la fosse (f) = pit; très aiguë = high-pitched; grave = deep; l'addition (f) = bill, check

Jean-Marc's favorite Coldplay album, click cover to view:

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


"I have enjoyed this blog for years and watched your children grow up. You are staying strong through all the changes. Merci pour tout."
--Betty D.


tiroir

Saint-Raphaël, France (c) Kristin Espinasse Today's story begins in Saint-Raphaël...

le tiroir (teer-war) noun, masculine
1. drawer

Listen: hear my son Max pronounce the word "tiroir": Download tiroir.wav

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Expression:
gratter les fonds de tiroir = scrape together some change

..............................
Citation du Jour:
Chaque personne est une armoire pleine d'histoires, il suffit d'ouvrir les tiroirs...
Each person is an armoire full of stories, all it takes is opening the drawers...
--Tahar Ben Jelloun

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A Day in a French Life...

At a specialty store in Saint-Raphaël I stand facing the vendeuse,* hands tapping, eyes staring skyward as I look for French words to describe our kitchen. "Provençal," the saleslady says, delivering the verdict; as she says it her face begins to twist as if she's just sipped limonade sans sucre.* Provençal, we suspect, is out. But "Provençal" is a compliment to our kitchen, which heretofore has been mostly referred to as "rustic," even "vieillot."*
"Only one person called it vieillot," Jean-Marc would argue.

One is all it takes.

Jean-Marc and I check out the kitchen store, with me admiring the deep, sectional tiroirs* which replace lower level cupboards nowadays. I run my hands across the smooth counter spaces and admire the flat stove tops. In the end, the smooth, the "pull-outable," the sleek and flat spell but one French phrase: trop cher.*

We return home to rethink our avocado, mustard and chocolate colored kitchen--aliments* I love to eat, a color scheme I'd rather not eye. Jean-Marc thinks it is dommage* to rip out a functioning kitchen. As I point out all that is wrong with our cuisine,* he begins to measure. "We can change this," he says, referring to the plan de travail* with the deep, dark grids. One day later my husband has pulled out the old gas stove, recut the counter and inserted a top-of-the-line electric range; in the process, he has reorganized all the cupboards. Still, I stare at the freestanding dishwasher which has stood out like a third wheel for the past five years, "That will go under the counter," he says, "in place of the gas tanks, which we don't need anymore."

As I watch my husband rearrange, revamp, replace and rethink ("We can paint the dark cupboards," he enthuses) and render beautiful, I am inspired by one Frenchman's verve in response to vieillot, one man's triumph over trop cher.

One is all it takes, indeed.

....................................................................................................................
*References: la vendeuse (le vendeur) = saleslady (salesman); limonade sans sucre (f) = lemonade without sugar; vieillot(te) = outdated; le tiroir (m) = drawer; trop cher = too expensive; aliment (m) = food; dommage (m) = a pity; la cuisine (f) = kitchen; plan de travail (m) = counter (top)

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


"I have enjoyed this blog for years and watched your children grow up. You are staying strong through all the changes. Merci pour tout."
--Betty D.


stationner

Stationnement interdit = No parking (c) Kristin Espinasse

stationner
(sta-syohn-ay) verb
1. to be parked; to park  2. to stay, to remain

Sound file :: Listen to French
Hear 8-year-old Jackie pronounce the word "stationner":

Stationner-jackie-8-years-old



L'homme se découvre quand il se mesure avec l'obstacle.
Man discovers himself when he measures himself against the obstacle.

                             --Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

   by Kristi Espinasse

A two-lane road runs through the center of our town. On either side of Boulevard Gambetta, the local shops line up, their windows cluttered with saucissons,* fleurs,* baguettes, chocolate and leeks; the optical shop, the realtor, the insurance office, the bank and the kiné* crowd together on one side of the street; the florist, the drycleaner and the électroménager* on the other. Three bars compete for clients as do two cafés and four panhandlers. But the real competition in our village is for parking...

Driving home the other day along the two lane boulevard, I encountered a road block when the truck ahead of me came to an abrupt halt at which point lights began to flash from the rear of the vehicle. The driver got out and, without a care sur terre,* crossed over the opposite lane to the guichet automatique* just outside the bank. His back to the chaos left in his wake, the driver went about
his business. It was as if, with the slam of the door and turn of the lock, traffic as the world knows it became a non-entity in one Frenchman's mind; so much for us on-tee-tays* with places to go and people to see.

Ma fwah!* I thought to myself, putting on the turn signal and checking my rétroviseur.* I navigated around the obstacle but the passage was slight as another car, formerly oncoming, had the same park-n-run epiphany.

Ma fwah.

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*References: le saucisson (m) = sausage; une fleur (f) = flower; kiné (kinésithérapeute (nmf) = physical therapist; électroménager = household appliance (shop); sur terre = on earth; le guichet automatique (m) = automatic teller machine; on-tee-tay (pronunciation for entité (f) = entity); ma fwah (pronunciation for ma foi = "je ne comprends pas" = "I don't understand (certain people's behavior)"; 'ma foi' can also mean "that's the way it is" or "go figure"; le rétroviseur (m) = rearview mirror

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


"I have enjoyed this blog for years and watched your children grow up. You are staying strong through all the changes. Merci pour tout."
--Betty D.


émeute

The Blue Door = La Porte Bleu (c) Kristin Espinasse

All is calm in our village. For thoughts on the French riots, read today's column below.

une émeute (ay-meuht) noun, feminine
  1. riot, rioting

Also: un émeutier, une émeutière = a rioter

Listen: hear my son Max pronounce the word "émeute": Download emeute.wav

...........................
Expressions & Terms:
faire une émeute = to riot
provoquer une émeute = to cause a riot
une émeute racial = a race riot

...........................
Citation du Jour:
Il est de l'essence de l'émeute révolutionnaire... d'avoir presque toujours tort dans la forme et raison dans le fond. It is of the essence of a revolutionary disturbance... of always being wrong in its form and right in its basis. --Victor Hugo

........................................
A Day in a French Life...

My ten-year-old is wearing his Spiderman pajamas, robe and slippers. His shampooed hair is combed forward and comes to a slamming halt at the top of his forehead at which point the hair blasts skyward. So as to smooth any rough edges, he has pushed down the tips of the hair wall to a curl that resembles the top half of a question mark. Lately he's found an answer to that unruly bit of hair up front, known in French as 'une méche rebelle,' a rebel lock.

My son's hair smells like peaches, though I imagine that if "basketball" was a scent one could bottle, he'd have preferred that in his shampoo instead of péche.*
"Max. Can you help me record a word for tomorrow?" I say, my nose buried in the sweet-scented question mark above his brow.
"Bien sûr, maman."*
"Do you know the word émeute?"
"No, but I've heard of it." After some thought, he cautions, "but if you don't know it, you shouldn't write about it."

Last week, while listening to French nightly news, I learned, for the first time, the noun émeute. I may have heard the word before, but it never registered; my mind skipped over it, pushing it back into the dark recesses or margins of its domain, deciding for itself that the noun was unimportant, incapable, of any use, or simply too complex to understand. Some people in France are feeling just like that noun, discriminated against.

I'll take my son's advice and not write about something I don't fully comprehend. Though I am beginning to understand the basis for the French riots (misère* and unemployment) I do not understand the form (violence).

....................................................................................................................
References: une péche (f) = peach; bien sûr, maman = of course, mom; la misère (f) = poverty, destitution

In Books: The Color of Liberty: Histories of Race in France

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


"I have enjoyed this blog for years and watched your children grow up. You are staying strong through all the changes. Merci pour tout."
--Betty D.


achalander

achalander (ah-sha-lohn-day) verb
1. to get shoppers to come in and browse

Also:
bien achalandé(e) = well-stocked (store)
achalandage (m) = clientele

Listen:
Hear Jean-Marc pronounce the word achalander:
Download achalander.wav

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Proverb:
Ce n'est pas acheter qui instruit, mais vendre.
It is not buying that teaches, but selling.


......................................
A Day in a French Life...

At Vincent's* restaurant in Phoenix where the parking lot is transformed into an authentic French market each Saturday from 9-1, Jean-Marc and I set up our tables beneath a canvas tent. While my husband lines up his Rhône reds and Provence rosés, I hover giddily in front of my own table, one that Vincent's wife, Leevon, provided me. "You can pull it forward if you like," she hints, offering a helpful sales tip on how to stop traffic. Almost before she's finished her sentence, I'm yanking the table toward the center of the aisle.

I prop up two laminated poster boards displaying my forthcoming book and begin stacking the no longer in print editions. As I fret about presentation, Penny from the légume* stand walks up and introduces herself. Her warmth and vivacity both calm and inspire me. She fans out the books for a more inviting presentation, breaking up the serious stacks which had screamed "no sampling!"
"Maybe that's too much," I say, pointing to the extra poster board.
"No, it isn't," she says, pulling the glossy promotional affiche* forward.

With my table bien achalandée,* I stand and wait, a hopeful look on my shiny face. Potential clientele, or 'achalandage,' pass by and eventually stop to browse.
"No, it's not French recipes!" the woman with a sack of strawberries says to her friend, tossing the paperback to the table. Another potential buyer in a warm-up suit approaches my stand. He holds an iced tea in his hand and I watch in silent torture as condensation from the cold drink collects on the cup's surface eventually to fall, drip by excruciating drip, onto the books' covers. He takes a sip from the straw and turns to leave.

"I'll be back to buy one," one woman says, snapping her gum and putting the book down. When she walks off, Jean-Marc puts an index finger to the skin beneath his right eye and tugs. French body language for "when pigs fly".

While some hesitate to buy, others zoom up, grab a book and hand me crisp bills before rushing off to discover the next stand. Meanwhile Jean-Marc serves up red and rosé, chatting all the while about French wine. He is thoughtful in directing his clients to my stand. "That's my wife!" he says, pointing to the woman now sitting on the stairs, just beyond her table. "Those are her self-published books--soon to be collector's items!" he adds, tapping the glossy poster board, ever-enthusiastic.

When French pigs fly, I think to myself and go on to tug the skin beneath my lower right lash. But instead of reaching for the bag beneath my eye, my hand redirects itself to a book which it picks up. Next, my mouth flies open to add--

"Only fifteen dollars, tax included!"

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References: Vincent's: http://www.vincentsoncamelback.com ; légume (m) = vegetable; une affiche (f) = poster; bien achalandé(e) = well stocked

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