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gourde

French dog (c) Kristin Espinasse
Nothing to do with today's word... just a dog days photo taken in Draguignan.

"My Life in France." In her own words, here is the captivating story of Julia Child's years in France, where she fell in love with French food and found 'her true calling.'

une gourde (goord) noun, feminine
   1. gourd, flask, canteen
   2. simple (mind), maladroit
   3. Haitian currency (the Haitian gourde)

gourd, gourde (adjective): dull, numb (cold); dopey, clumsy

On appelle familièrement gourde une personne un peu sotte.
Informally, we call someone who is not very bright "gourde".

                                  --from the French Wikipedia, "gourde"


A Day in a French Life...
by Kristin Espinasse

I hope he finds his way to the bathroom at night, I think, wrapping a piece of tape around my son's new lampe de poche* before using a permanent marker to label it "ESPINASSE, Max". One of the first things I learned when I moved to France was that the French always capitalize last names; presently I could use a lesson on how to label dark socks...

I examine the navy blue chaussettes* in one hand and my navy blue marker in the other. The dark socks will be difficult to mark, just like the flashlight and the gloves were. Too late to order iron- or sew-on labels. I remember the roll of tape.... Sure, it will come off in the wash... but then the packing instructions indicate that there will be no laundry service during the first week of summer camp! I stick a piece of labelled tape on the foot of each sock, happy to tick one more item off the list. I hope his feet will be warm enough.

The light blue bob* is easy to mark: ESPINASSE, Max (just under the bill), as is the tube of crème solaire.* Will he think to put on his hat? Will he protect his little freckled nose with the sun block? And the back of his neck? The merciless Alpine sun now haunts me.

Max sits on the edge of the bed, twirling his Equipe de France soccer ball.
"Mom!" he protests, embarrassed to see me labeling even the little packets of Kleenex.
"But it says here to mark 'TOUTES les affaires',"* I explain, waving the list titled "Trousseau de base."* My son points a finger to his temple and taps it. A little dingue* you are, he signals. His sparkling eyes and toothy smile soften my defense.

I open the smallest bag, and move the new orange toothbrush and the comb aside. I hope he'll find relief up north from his chronic allergies... with that, I slip the tissues in and zip the small tote shut.

When I've labeled every sock, bottle, comb, tube, gourde* and packet, I turn to my sparkly-eyed son. I feel like a dope* marking so many unprecious items against loss, when all I really want returned from camp is this eleven-year-old boy.


***

~~~~~~~~~~~French Vocabulary~~~~~~~~~~~~

une lampe de poche = flashlight; la chaussette (f) = sock; le bob (m) = cap (hat); la crème solaire (f) = sunscreen; toutes les affaires (fpl) = all of the belongings; trousseau de base = (packing) basics: clothes, accessories, linens...; dingue = crazy; la gourde (f) = canteen; dope = gourde (in French)

French Pronunciation:


Listen: Hear my son, Max, pronounce the word "gourde": Download gourde2.wav
Hear Max's French sentence: "Ça fait du bien de boire dans ma gourde." It feels good (it's refreshing) to drink from my canteen.: Download gourde4.wav

The French word gourde 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 
♥ 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.


pêche

Marseilles
A little port de pêche in Marseilles


Pêche
(pesh)
noun, feminine
peach
            
Scene 1

My 8-year-old strides up in a leopard skirt, pink sequined sandals, and her swim top—the one with the real coquilles sewn on.

"J'ai fait mon lit," she reports. She has also swept the floor of the séjour and, without my asking, she has watered the begonias, the tomatoes, and the thirsty peach tree. She must want something.

"Je peux avoir une pêche, maman?"

I look out the window to the fruit-laden pêcher—thirteen peaches this year! But shouldn't they be bigger than the fuzzy orange balls hanging from the branches?

"I think we should leave them," I decide. "They're not ripe yet."

"But it is the first day of summer!" my daughter pleads.

It is hard to resist her enthusiasm, all the more so when I think of the amusing scene I witnessed yesterday. Jackie was standing beneath the little tree, her nose pressed to a peach. She wasn't allowed to pick the fruit, but no one said she couldn't inhale it!

             
Scene 2
 
It's four days later, and the peach tree is nearly bare!

"Who ate all the peaches?" I shout.

Max and Jackie point fingers at each other. Jackie swears she's eaten only two. As for Max, he's halfway to the front gate, about to take off down the street.

"You ate NINE peaches?" I scream, chasing after him.

"But most of them were on the ground already!" Max hollers back.
 

Scene 3


I am lying on the couch, a small peach cradled between my nose and upper lip. I don't dare eat it, but I can inhale it. Earlier, Jackie had tiptoed into the living room with the fuzzy peace offering. The little peach is soft and warm, and the chaleur sends a strong fruity infusion into chaque narine, calming me and sending images of would-have-been delights: peaches 'n cream... peach pie...warm peach soup... peach cobbler....

The aromatic smorgasbord fills me up, until my evil plan (involving next year's peach harvest and the aiming of a fresh-baked pie toward two little thieves' faces) disappears—as fast as the fruit had vanished, there on our little peach tree.

 
Your Edits Here. Any thoughts about this story or its composition or its ending? Thanks for pointing out typos and other mistakes, here in the comments box.

French Vocabulary

la coquille
shell
J'ai fait mon lit
 I made my bed

le séjour
livingroom

Je peux avoir une pêche, Maman?
May I have a peach, Mom?

le pêcher

peach tree 

la chaleur
heat

chaque narine
each nostril

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.


chaleur

Chaleur
Fountain in Brignoles. A good place to hang out when it's hot. Now if someone would turn on the robinet...

In books: "Cruising French Waterways" covers historical sites and scenic attractions, as well as shore facilities, repair yards and more.

la chaleur (sha-ler) noun, feminine
  heat; warmth, ardour (passion)

Les vieillards ont besoin d'affections comme de soleil. C'est de la chaleur.
Old men need affection as they need the sun. It is warmth
.
                                          --Victor Hugo (from Les Miserables)

A Day in a French Life...

In celebration of the first day of summer, the cicadas outside are shaking their Mexican maracas. "Zetzetzetzetzet," they chant, in a land where even insects sport French accents. My mom calls the trilly ones "katydids." Close, considering that the cigale* was once called a "tree cricket." I want to remind the cricket-cigales that, here in France, it's naptime! But then, who can sleep in this kind of chaleur?*

In this kind of heat, my kids have thought up ways to cool down. They gather plastic bouteilles* from the recycle bin, beneath the kitchen sink, to fill with tap water before chasing each other around the yard to splash (then dash).

"Ooh ooh eye eye," they cry as they sprint across the parched grass, stiff beneath their still small feet. "Hey! HEY!" I say, picking up the tossed bottle caps.

"Oohooh EYEYE zetzetzetzetzet HEYHEY!" chant the kids and the so-called katydids (and one weary maman* chasing plastic lids).

........................................................................................................................................
References: la cigale (f) = cicada; la chaleur (f) = heat; la bouteille (f) = bottle; la maman (f) = mom

               
                                     French Pronunciation
Listen:
Hear my eleven-year-old, Max, pronounce the word "chaleur": Download chaleur2.wav
Listen to Max's sentence: "Il y a beaucoup de chaleur en Afrique!" (There's lots of heat in Africa!) : Download chaleur_3.wav

Terms & Expressions:
chaleureusement = warmly
chaleureux, chaleureuse = warm; hearty
une bouche de chaleur = hot air vent
Quelle chaleur! = It's hot out!
être en chaleur = to be in heat
avoir des chaleurs = to have hot flashes

More books:
The Oxford-Hachette French Dictionary
Mastering French Vocabulary : A Thematic Approach

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.


bouder

Brignoles (c) Kristin Espinasse
Some French streets are so small that you wonder how deliveries are made to these tiny shops.


bouder
(boo-day)
verb
to pout or sulk

 

I notice my husband is shaving this morning, something he rarely does anymore, now that he’s working from home as a wine sales rep.

"Where are you going?" I ask.

"En tournée."

"Prospecting? Where?" I wonder.

"In Saint-Raphaël."

Saint-Raphaël? My mind fills with visions of the foamy sea, sandy beaches, sidewalk cafés and brasseries, the boardwalk, the boutiques, the marché, and the glamorous Belle Époque architecture.... Suddenly a pulsion comes over me. The pulsion to pout.

"I didn't know you were going out today...." I grumble.
  
"Well, do you want to come with me?" Jean-Marc offers.

"You know I can't come with you. I have work to do!” With a huff and a puff I leave the room.

***

In 1994 the only conseil Jean-Marc's ailing grandmother gave me before I married her grandson was this: "ne boude pas." Don’t boude when love gets tough! “C’est terrible—insupportable!—une femme ou un mari qui boude!

I hurried to look up the word bouder just as soon as I returned from Grand-mère’s modest apartment in Lyon to Jean-Marc’s studio in Marseilles. I was hesitant to ask my husband-to-be what the word meant. What was it that was so terrible, so insufferable… something a husband or wife should never ever do? And why had Jean-Marc’s grandmother selected this bit of counsel above the rest?

"Germaine," as Jean-Marc’s mamie was called, was a stern woman who saw the collapse of a family fortune. In Morocco, after the war, she peddled house linens from her Estafette (a converted military supply vehicle) as there were six mouths to feed. When her husband, a prisoner of war, returned from la guerre, Germaine continued to "wear the pants," selling her linens porte-à-porte, while her husband went seaside to cast out horrific battle images along with his fishing line.

My first encounter with Germaine had me watching the once-authoritarian-now-frail woman eat the eyes right out of the fish on her plate! No sooner had I recovered from the fact that the French serve their seafood with its heads and tails intact, than I witnessed this unforgettable eye-popping scene!

Apart from Germaine’s advice not to sulk, she taught me where all those forks, knives, and cuillères belong on the French table, at once thoughtful about her bourgeois upbringing, and méprisante of it.

***

The French word bouder, it turns out, means “to pout”. From bouder comes the noun boudoir, which originally meant "a place in which to sulk". Though the dictionary says that a boudoir is "un petit salon de dame," it is really nothing more fancy or exciting than a pouting room.

I return to my sulking place, and continue to work and to sniff. Je boude, je boude!

"We'll leave in 10 minutes?" my husband suggests, popping his head in from the hall.

"I didn't say I was going with you!" I snap.

"Well, if you change your mind, I am leaving in 10 minutes."

I continue to faire la tête, or "be in the sulks," while my husband prepares for his surely glamorous tournée along the French Riviera. At my desk, I peck at the faded keyboard, staring into the dismal screen. I can’t concentrate on writing a story when I’m so busy obsessing about my husband’s freedom:

"Monsieur Espinasse goes to the sunny Riviera," I grumble. "Monsieur Espinasse would like the plat du jour. Would Monsieur fancy a glass of champagne with his foie gras?"

Despite my ridiculous imaginings and the cynical commentary that accompanies them, I know that reality is quite different. My husband’s door-to-door sales day will be spent lugging 18-kilo boxes of wine from one cave to another, navigating medieval roads, trying to find parking in a small French village full of one-way streets!

The glamorous day will continue as he stops for lunch at a grimy roadside gas station where he’ll pick up one of those preservative-rich sandwiches: un jambon beurre or un pan-bagnat. He’ll wash that down with a cup of bitter coffee before rushing to the next appointment. Finally he will weave in and out of traffic on the autoroute, struggling to get back to our village in time to pick up our son from basketball at the end of the day.

Meantime I will be working freely at my computer, trying to write the next great American story (or so my imagination would like to think!). To my left, there’ll be a café au lait, before me, the adventure of my choice, if I will but find the words to transport me there. Will I ever find the words? Oh, to be transported!


"Do you know what the word boudoir means?" I am out of breath, catching up to my husband, who is loading cases of wine into the trunk.

"Comment?" What's that? he asks.

"Boudoir. It's French," I reply.

"No. I don't know that word. What does it mean?" Jean-Marc asks, opening the car door for me.

“A sulking place,” I laugh. “It’s a place to bouder, or to be in the sulks.”

"Are you in the sulks?" Jean-Marc teases.

“Oh no, not me!” I glance out of the car window, to the heavens above. I hoped Germaine was watching. God rest her courageous, peddler’s soul.

I look over to the other peddler, seated beside me. Germaine would be proud of her grandson, who has, in his own way, followed in her steps.  

 

French Vocabulary


une tournée
a sales round (sales prospecting) 

le marché
market 

une pulsion
an impulse

un conseil
a piece of advice

ne boude pas!
don't sulk!

C’est terrible—insupportable!—une femme ou un mari qui boude!
It's awful—intolerable—when a wife or a husband sulks!

la grand-mère
grandmother

la mamie
grandma 

la guerre
war

porte-à-porte
door-to-door 

une cuillère
spoon

méprisant(e)
contemptuous, scornful

un petit salon de dame
a woman's sitting room

faire la tête
to sulk, to give somebody the silent treatment

le plat du jour
the day's special (in a restaurant)

un kilo
a kilo, or 2.2 pounds

une cave = cellar

un jambon-beurre
a ham sandwich with butter

un pan-bagnat
a sandwich made with tuna and olives (specialty from Nice)

une autoroute
motorway, highway

le café au lait
coffee with milk

 

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.


reconnaître

Jeanyves_2reconnaître (ruh-ko-nehtr) verb
   to recognize, acknowledge; to admit (debt)

C'est dans le malheur qu'on reconnaît les vrais amis. It's during adversity that we find out who our true friends are.
(Or, as we say back home: A friend in need is a friend indeed.)

 

 

 

 

A Day in a French Life...
For part one of this story, go here:

                *   *   *
I snapped three photos of my mom "sweeping" before joining her on the steps leading to the church, or churches to be exact, for there were two at the top of the village of Figanières. Ambling down the other side of the hill, we paused beside a stone murette,* our eyes now admiring the paysage* across the field. "Tuscany!" my mom declared, at the cypress trees and red rooftops beyond, reminding me just how similar the French hinterland is to that of northern Italy.

Jeanyvesmom_1Just around the bend, well past le Jardin des Senteurs,* I finished photographing the potted lauriers-roses* when I realized my mom had disappeared. I found her standing beneath a puzzle-skinned platane* in the center of a shady placette.* On closer look, she was talking to the man we'd seen outside the supérette.* She had my book in her left hand and she was shaking it wildly. The man stood there, hands akimbo, listening intently. Next to him, was a young woman with a cleaning cart.

"Bonjour, Messieurs-dames,"* I interrupted.
"Kristi!" my mom said, giddily, "This is... What's you're name, honey?"
"Pamela," the woman said, abandoning the cart.
"..and this is..."
"Jean-Yves," the man offered.

Pamela began translating my mom's English to Jean-Yves. "You are in this woman's book,"* she said, eyeing me. With an elbow jab to her colleague's ribs, Pamela hinted to Jean-Yves that he ought to ask for his share of the pognon!*
Pognon? I gasped!
"You're a star!" my mom announced, adding fuel to Pamela's suggestion.
I clutched my purse and noticed my teeth were grinding and my eye twitch was back. Tic, tic, tic, went my upper left lid.

My mom was about to give the book to the wrong person! I turned to the impostor.
"Do you remember me?" I said, interrupting. When he didn't, my mom frowned and Pamela bit her plum-lined lips.

As I went about clearing up the misunderstanding, that Mom had mistaken him for THE street sweeper, I paused to push my sunglasses up from my face. That's when I noticed his eyes, which reminded me of the green sea...

The turquoise green sea! The sun, which now filtered through the branches of the shady plane tree, lit the green diamonds in Jean-Yves' eyes.
"Vous êtes lui! You're him!" I said handing him his book, convinced.

Next, my mom, Pamela and I rode the invisible pogo sticks beneath our feet, circling the plane tree and the placette before throwing our arms around one another to temper our excitement.

Pam looked over to Jean-Yves, who quietly perused his chapter beneath the plane tree. "Vous pleurez,"* she said.
"No. It's something in my eyes."

All three of us peered into those eyes, which glistened, just like my mom's, just like Pamela's, and just like mine. You know, just something in our eyes.

...........................................................................................................................................

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Jeanyveskristi_2

References: la murette (f) = low "mur" or wall; le paysage (m) = landscape; le Jardin des Senteurs (m) = aromatic garden; les lauriers-roses (mpl) = oleander; le platane (m) = plane tree; la placette (f) = small "place" or square; la supérette (f) = small grocer; this woman's book; Bonjour, Messieurs-dames = Hello (all); le pognon (m) = dough, money; Vous pleurez = You're crying


...........................................................................
Listen: hear my son, Max, pronounce the French verb "reconnaître": Download reconnaitre.wav
Listen to Max's sentence: Download reconnaitre3.wav

Verb conjugation: je reconnais, tu reconnais, il/elle reconnaît, nous reconnaissons, vous reconnaissez, ils/elles reconnaissent => past participle reconnu

For us Grammarphobes who sometimes wonder:
  What is meant by gender?
  What is verb conjugation?
  What are objects?
  What is a preposition?
"English Grammar for Students of French" answers these and many more.

Other books:
"Down and Out in Paris and London," by George Orwell...

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.


introuvable

Figanieres (c) Kristin Espinasse
Carnations, or oeillets, and potted flowers in the town of Figanières.

Long Ago In France : The Years In Dijon by M.F.K. Fisher. Fisher spent three years in Dijon in the halcyon days between the wars. This is a brief and wholly delightful memoir of that time, an account rich with wines, meals, and crisply etched portraits. --Library Journal

introuvable (in-troo-vable) adjective
  which (or who) cannot be found, undiscoverable

A force de s'épandre sur les détails et de chercher l'introuvable, on finit par rater l'essentiel. By getting caught up in the details and seeking what cannot be found, we end up missing what is essential. --Jean Dion

A Day in a French Life...
In the town of Figanières, the French windowsills were bursting with red and pink geraniums, purple petunias, and succulents à gogo* and à green green. The scene had changed since my last visit, back in March, when the only color visible near a window was the lavender-hued curls of the grand-mère* peeking out from behind lace curtains.

With the crisp morning air caressing my cheeks, and Words* tucked under my arm, I retraced my steps through the village. A story I had written about a local street sweeper was now a published chapter and I wanted to find the Frenchman-in-question and present him with a copy of the book.

"He was standing right there the last time I saw him," I said to my mother, who had accompanied me to the village with a mission of her own: to photograph the star of the story and immortalize him "sur toile."* "The man with the turquoise eyes," as he is called in the chapter "Polir,"* would now be the étoile* of my mom's next painting.

I recalled the red brick trottoir* and its familiar rolling pattern. "I know he is working today," I said. "Look how clean the sidewalk is!"

When my mom spotted a man with a broom working near the supérette,* I squinted my eyes. "I don't think that's him," I sighed. Wasn't his face a bit narrower? His eyes weren't the blue that I'd remembered. "No. That's not him." By now we had covered the place du village,* the parking lot beyond the Mairie,* and the little road that leads to the elementary school. Still no luck.

At the foot of the winding cobblestone stairs leading to the church, my mom asked me to take a photo of her--something she had never done before.
"Wait until I get halfway up there!" she instructed.
When I looked through the viewfinder, I discovered my mom hunched over, swinging her arms back and forth. After my initial alarm, I questioned her in a "Now what?!" fashion.
"Mom! What ARRRRE you doing?"
"Sweeping!"
Sweeping?
"Did you get the church bells?" she said, pointing to the campanile* on the hilltop above. "I need them in the photo, too; they're going in my painting!"

Mom wasn't about to let a small detail (the absence of the street cleaner) get in the way of her project: the painting of his very portrait. She'd be the brown-eyed, high-heeled stand-in.

"MOM!" I said, upset at the realization that our star was introuvable.*
"Don't worry, honey. We'll find him."

                                               *     *     *

.....................................................................................................................................
References: à gogo = in abundance, galore; la grand-mère (f) = grandmother; Words (in a French Life) ; sur toile = on canvas; polir = to polish; chapter in "Words"; une étoile (f) = star; le trottoir (m) = sidewalk; la supérette (f) = small grocer; la place du village (f) = (central) village square; la mairie (f) = town hall; le campanile (m) = bell tower; introuvable = nowhere to be found, undiscoverable

Listen to my son, Max, pronounce the French word "introuvable": Download introuvable.wav

Listen to Max's sentence: "Mes clés sont introuvables": Download introuvable3.wav

French synonyms for "introuvable": perdu (lost), disparu (vanished), envolé (vanished [into thin air]), caché (hidden)

In books: Using French Synonyms
"This new guide to French synonyms is the first to be produced specifically for English-speaking students of French. Its aim is to enable them to develop, broaden and enhance their awareness of the complexity and richness of French vocabulary by presenting in an easily accessible form information not readily available in traditional dictionaries. " Order it here.

Play and Learn French : The fun, easy, and natural way to get kids started in learning French.
SmartFrench Audio CDs for Beginners II
French for Children (Language for Children Series) (Audio CD)

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.


tondre

Poppies (c) Kristin Espinasse
Some lawns are better left unmown. (Poppies in the town of La Ciotat, a hop, skip and saut up the coast from Marseilles.)

Read "The Piano Shop on the Left Bank: Discovering a Forgotten Passion in a Paris Atelier" for a "witty and fascinating account of finding a piano to purchase and relearning how to play." --Library Journal

tondre (tohn-dr) verb
   to mow; to shear (wool); to clip; to crop (hair)

Mieux vaut tondre l'agneau Que le pourceau.
'Tis better to shear the lamb than the pig.
--French Proverb

A Day in a French Life...
It is while speaking aloud in English to my Francophone children that I am made aware of the slack pronunciation of my own language. From here on out, worrying about French pronunciation will not be enough, I must now take care to tame my own truant tongue. In the spirit of today's word, my crime could be called "le tondage du langage," or "the shearing of language," in which words get cut (down) in a most unflattering way.

Just yesterday it happened again. While driving through our voisinage,* at an hour when most of the French are retreating indoors to escape the high temperatures, I noticed our neighbor out in his yard.

"What's that guy doing mowin' the lawn?" I said, thinking of the heat.
"Marineland?"* Jackie said, from the back of the car, echoing my phrase as she had heard it.
"No. MowinG the lawn," I repeated, minding my words.
"Is that a park?"
"Non! C'est faire la tondeuse, Jackie!"* her brother, seated next to her, replied, setting the matter straight once more.

..........................................................................................................................
References: le voisinage (m) = neighborhood; Marineland = Marineland (a "sea and adventure park" (Le parc de la mer et de l'aventure) near Antibes); Non! C'est faire la tondeuse, Jackie! = No! It (means to) mow the lawn, Jackie!

Listen: hear my son, Max, pronounce the word "tondre": Download tondre2.wav
Listen to Max's sentence: Non. C'est faire la tondeuse, Jackie!: Download faire_la_tondeuse2.wav
Also:
tondu (adj) = cropped, closely-cropped, mown
le tondage = shearing
le tondeur = shearer
la tondeuse = lawn-mover, clippers, shears
la tondaison = sheep-shearing, shearing-time

Verb conjugation: je tonds, tu tonds, il/elle tond, nous tondons, vous tondez, ils/elles tondent => past participle: tondu
Something French -- a kaleidoscopic selection of books and bricoles

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.


lunette

LunettesVintage art print by George Ham

In books: Murder in Montmartre by Cara Black
"If you've never been to Paris, or you'd like to go back soon, let Cara Black transport you there."-Linda Fairstein

la lunette (lew-net) noun, feminine
  1. telescope
  2. les lunettes = (pair of) glasses
  3. toilet seat

Les lunettes cachent beaucoup de choses--même une larme dans l'oeil. Glasses hide a lot of things--even a teary eye. --Sören Kierkegaard

A Day in a French Life...
Last week I stopped at the lunetterie* to get my shades repaired. The shop assistant smiled from the back of the store, pointed to the telephone at her ear, and said, "J'arrive!" I'll be right there!

She needn't have rushed. I'd already put up with the sunglasses this long as they tumbled down my face or sat lopsided like a parked teeter-totter on the bridge of my nose. The lenses, which are "de vue,"* had begun popping out ages ago. How many times had I picked up les verres* from the sidewalk, only to wrestle them back in again?

I have never known an optical shop to charge for a frame adjustment. So I always feel uneasy as the lunetier* puts paying work aside to tend to my lopsided specs. This time I made sure I had some cash on hand.

When the boutique assistant put down the phone and said, "A vous, madame," I showed her my glasses, apologizing for their tattered état.* Next, I watched her push and mold the frame back into shape. "Essayez-les,"* she said now and again.

Once the lunettes* were adjusted and snug against my face, I promised I would never again push them back as a makeshift hair band (the reason for their current condition).
"Combien je vous dois?"* I asked, just in case.
"Rien," Nothing, smiled the optician.
I reached into my pocket and handed her the pourboire* that I had prepared.
"RIEN!" she insisted.
"Merci," I replied, mumbling something about needing a few cartes postales* and, in a haphazard fashion, pulling together a half-dozen cards, trying to get the total to add up to five euros.

The shop assistant counted the cards. "Trois euros soixante, s'il vous plaît."* she said. I handed her the five euro note and told her to please keep the change.
"Non," she said. With that, she looked at me straight in the eyes and said firmly:
"Les bons comptes font des bons amis." Good accounts make good friends.

............................................................................................................................................
References: la lunetterie (f) = frame maker; de vue = prescription (lenses); les verres (mpl) = lenses; le lunetier (la lunetière) = optician; l'état (m) = condition; Essayez-les = Try them on; les lunettes (fpl) = eyeglasses; Combien je vous dois? = How much do I owe you?; le pourboire (m) = tip; la carte postale (f) = postcard; trois euros soixante = three euros sixty

Listen: hear Jean-Marc pronounce the word "lunette": Download lunette2.wav

Related terms and Expressions:
lunetté(e) = bespectacled
lunetier(ière) = (adj) spectacle, (noun) optician; eyeglasses manufacturer
la lunetterie = eyeglass, spectacle trade
un étui à lunettes = an eyeglasses case
la lunette arrière = rear window
porter des verres = to wear glasses
les lunettes de soleil = sunglasses
chausser mieux ses lunettes = to pay more attention
un nez à porter des lunettes = a big nose (a nose for wearing glasses)
voir les choses par le petit bout de la lunette = to have tunnel vision or a narrow outlook

...and in English there is the phrase "lunette window" for the piece of cloth that covers the eye of an ornery (lunatic?) horse.

Gift ideas for la Fête des Pères / Father's Day at Something French.

In books:
Play and Learn French : The fun, easy, and natural way to get kids started in learning French.
SmartFrench Audio CDs for Beginners II
French for Children (Language for Children Series) (Audio CD)

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.


croquer

Croquis
A scene à croquer from French life...

In books: "The Food of France: A Journey for Food Lovers"

croquer (kro-kay) verb
  to crunch; to sketch; to devour or eat in a rush

Croquez des pommes, pas des pesticides.
Crunch apples, not pesticides.

  --France Nature Environnement (current campaign slogan)

A Day in a French Life...
Just when lunch options are boiling down to canned sardines in lemon juice and a bland ball of mozzarella, Max comes back from the village with two baguettes sliced in half.

"I asked the boulanger* to cut them for me so they would fit in my backpack," my son explains, returning from his jaunt with the fresh baked surprise.

"Sandwiches!" I think, reopening the frigo* and seeing the cheese in another light. That's when I spot the grappe* tomatoes in the tiroir* below. "Perfect!" Out comes the frying pan, in goes a swirl of olive oil and the baguettes, their insides now filled with Italian fromage,* sliced red "fruit," and fresh basil, clipped thin as grass.

I search for something pesant* and find a cast-iron saucepan to weigh down the stuffed bread. I add another pan, and another, and top off the leaning tower of casseroles with an eight-liter cocotte,* flattening the sandwiches into crisp and savory paninis.

At the table, I pass out Sopalins* after handing the kids their plates. Next, I search my children's faces for a verdict. Are the sandwiches any good?
"Ils sont bons tes croque-monsieurs!"* Jackie says, at once frenchifying and formalizing the impromptu meal-in-a-loaf.

..........................................................................................................
References: le boulanger (la boulangère) = baker; le frigo (m) = fridge; la grappe (f) = vine (tomatoes); le tiroir (m) drawer; le fromage (m) = cheese; pesant(e) = heavy; la cocotte (f) = pot; le Sopalin (from "Société du Papier-Linge") = paper towel (such as the term "Kleenex" is used for tissue); Ils sont bons tes croque-monsieurs! = Your croque-monsieurs are good! (a croque-monsieur is, normally, a toasted ham and cheese sandwich)

Listen: hear my son, Max, pronounce the verb croquer: Download croquer.wav

Terms & Expressions:
croquant(e) = crisp, crunchy
croquignolet(te) = cute
joli(e) à croquer = pretty as a picture
un croquis = a sketch
un croqueur (une croqueuse) = an eater, devourer
une croqueese de diamants = "a diamond cruncher" = a gold digger
le croquant (la croquante) = country bumpkin
le croque-madame = toasted ham and cheese sandwich with fried egg on top
croquembouche = pyramid of cream-filled pastry balls
le croque-mitaine = bogeyman (or boogeyman, boogieman)
le croque-monsieur  = toasted ham and cheese sandwich
le croquenote (or le croque-note) = a bad musician ("the crunch note")
le croque-mort = undertaker
à croquer = adorable
à la croque au sel = with a sprinkling of salt (something seasoned with salt only i.e. celery)

Verb conjugation: je croque, tu croques, il/elle croque, nous croquons, vous croquez, ils/elles croquent  => past participle = croqué

In books:
Whether you're learning French for fun, school, or work, 2,000+ Essential French Verbs makes everything simple-conjugations, tenses, irregulars, and even conversation.

Also: 2001 French and English Idioms

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.


collège

College
Only eleven years old and already on the way to collège...

In books: La Belle Saison -- a testament to the timelessness of the French countryside and to the generous-hearted French.

Today's word is one of those faux-amis*...

le collège (ko-lezh) noun, masculine

  : junior high school, secondary school

Au collège, ainsi que dans la société, le fort méprise déjà le faible, sans savoir en quoi consiste la véritable force. At school, as in social life, the strong scorn the weak without knowing what true strength is made of. --Honoré de Balzac

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

Marching two by two along avenue Gambetta, we follow the tail-end of the Mistral--the wind that whipped through the village the previous day, knocking over our mailbox and blowing every stiff sock and chemise* from the clothesline.

"Look how they've grown!" another mom remarks, as we herd the children along in our flip-flops, envious of the line's leader, wearing high tops. Apart from differences in footwear, we have a common goal--to keep sixty-five excited eleven-year-olds on the narrow trottoir* as we walk away from the village, beyond the train station, to the collège,* where the fifth-graders would graduate after summer break.

On this, the anticipated journée découverte,* now seated in the auditorium and listening to the vice-principal, we learn that casquettes* are allowed only in the outdoor cour,* cell phones must be turned off on the premises, and that em-pay-twahs* are permitted in certain areas of the campus. In addition to regular classes, the future collégiens* will be asked to select one of six electives: patrimony, theater, art, sports (in this case, le cirque*), water (a regional subject), or music.

"Et si on se trompe de classe?" And if we go to the wrong class? the kids worry.
"Et si on se perd?" What if we get lost? they fret.
"Don't worry. There is a map!" the vice-principal assures them, before ordering the future collégiens to line up for the canteen.

In the cafeteria we join the "old-timers" and their teen angst to lunch on zucchini salad, dinde,* chou-fleur* and pasta. Over dessert, the reality of leaving grade school to enter collège hits home.
"Et si on nous embête?" What if they bully us? the children whisper, watching the 8th graders in line push each other around. I have to admit, the kids have expressed my very own fear. What if one of those big guys picks on Max? How will my son react?

I look out of the cafeteria window and notice that the Mistral has picked up again. Like the vent,* which stirs the leaves and knocks the socks from the clothesline, so are the junior high bullies--sometimes fierce, often feigned. They eventually wane, just like the wind that blew out of town this morning, while we marched on and on in its wake.

..........................................................................................................
References: les faux-amis (m.pl.) = false friends (words that seem alike in English and French, but have different meanings); la chemise (f) = shirt; le trottoir (m) = sidewalk; le collège (m) = junior high school; la journée découverte (f) = discovery day; la casquette (f) = cap (baseball); la cour (de récréation) (f) = schoolyard, playground; em-pay-twah (pronunciation for mp3, definition here); le collégien (la collégienne) = junior high student; le cirque (m) = circus; la dinde (f) = turkey hen; le chou-fleur (m) = cauliflower; le vent (m) = wind
.
Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the word collège: Download college2.wav

Also:
le collège d'enseignement technique = vocational, technical school
le collège électoral = electoral college

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.