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Entries from November 2006

le siège

Chaises
Flying sièges at Park Asterix in Paris.

Extraordinary_peoplePeter May's new French mystery: "Intelligent, ever-moving and beautifully written" -Barbara Douglas.


le siège
(syezh) noun, masculine
  1. seat; bench
  2. head office; center (of learning)
  3. siege

La seule chose que la politesse peut nous faire perdre c'est...un siège dans un autobus bondé. --Oscar Wilde
(About the only thing ever lost by politeness is a seat in a crowded bus.)
.

Column_12
The first thing the bearded man in 34D said to me was, "Can we trade seats?"
"No," I answered, before cramming my manteau* into the crowded overhead compartment, careful not to make eye-contact with the solicitor lest I give in. When the man persisted, I buckled my seatbelt and pulled it tight.
"I'm sorry but I'll need to keep the aisle seat," I replied. "I've reserved it."

Discouraged, he turned to the young lady to his right, in 34E:
"Are you sure you won't trade seats with me?" he pleaded.
The demoiselle's* eyebrows shot up along with the corners of her lips and her head shook. She wasn't going to budge either. 34E and I looked past the man who stood between us, exchanged un clin d'oeil,* and joined forces with a high fiving nod.

I pitied the man who found himself sandwiched in a row of three, but not enough to give up my aisle seat. He'd, be okay, I reasoned. He was younger than I, probably less claustrophobic, and, apparently, persistent. I'm sure he could persist in that middle siège* for another nine hours--all the way from New York to Paris. Besides, I argued, I wouldn't do him the disservice of compromising another (me) for his own comfort. That would be bad karma (for him). No, I wouldn't wish that upon him.

I am only just beginning to understand that glossing over one's own needs only serves to dull another's reality, which is no good for either party. (And, judging from the beautiful (and stubborn) demoiselle in 34E, I'd say the man in 34D's reality would soon be close to sparkling).

................................................................................................................
References: le manteau (m) = coat; la demoiselle (f) = young lady; un clin d'oeil (m) = wink; le siège (m) = seat

Listen: hear Jean-Marc recite today's quote: Download siege.wav
La seule chose que la politesse peut nous faire perdre c'est...un siège dans un autobus bondé.
.
Related Words & Expressions:
  le siège-auto = (baby) car seat
  le siège-baquet = bucket seat
  le siège social = head/registered office
  le siège éjectable = ejector seat
  être sur un siège éjectable = to be in the ejector seat
  (to not be in a stable position)

In Gifts:
BellodgiaBellodgia By Caron For Women. Introduced in 1927. Fragrance notes: a rich bouquet of fresh cut carnations and roses. Recommended use: romantic.

France_pillowFrance Pillow -- whimsical & hand-embroidered, will dress up any old siège

Joyeux_noel_soapJoyeux Noel Orange Cinnamon Soap Set From 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.


rédacteur

Simon_and_schuster
At Simon & Schuster's headquarters along Avenue of the Americas in New York.

Tell_me_moreIn French language software: TeLL me More French
-- Used everyday in more than 10,000 academic institutions:


un rédacteur
(ray-dak-ter) noun, masculine
   an editor

A female editor is called "une rédactrice" (ray-dak-treece)

Comme l'apprend vite tout bon rédacteur, c'est justement ce qui est évident qui doit être souligné - sinon on passera à côté. As every good editor quickly learns, it is what is obvious that must be underlined -- otherwise we completely miss it. --Peter Drucker


Column_10
At the Simon & Schuster building in Rockefeller center, I set my wallet, breath mints, and map of New York on the comptoir* that separated me from the security guard, and paused to dry my brow with the help of a scratchy wool sleeve. After so much purse rummaging, I was unable to produce a photo ID and realized with a sunken heart that I'd left my passport back at my belle-famille's* apartment.

The security guard frowned.
"But she's expecting me!" I said, in a panic. Desperate to see the editor with whom I had an appointment, I offered my credit card, the only thing on my person with a printed name, and watched as the guard ran it through a two cylinder reader. Later, the editor-in-question would joke that someone would surely be enjoying a fine pre-Christmas spree in New York City, compliments of me.

The editor's humor calmed my nerves, and while the idea of an emptied bank account is not pleasant, it reminded me of my purpose: to try to secure a new book contract.

There we were, the rédactrice* of my last book* and I, at Bar Americain on 6th avenue enjoying deep-dish chocolate cream pie after I'd made it past security to tour the legendary publishing house. Walking through its halls, viewing all the neatly framed book covers, felt surreal. Every since I was a child, I've dreamed of becoming a writer. I remember sitting in front of the television in our single wide trailer hearing a reference to Simon & Schuster on the PBS channel; and now, here I sat, thirty years later and six months into publication of my first book, facing an S&S editor.

Through tortoise-shell glasses, my former editor looked at me thoughtfully.
"Pat yourself on the back," she said, of the book we'd worked on together. "Enjoy your accomplishment."
"But what if this is a "one off" and I never write another book?" I worried.
"Take your time," she reminded. "There is no rush."

I thought about my current situation. Two pre-adolescent children in need of love and support, realtors and potential buyers trawling our home, an upcoming move to a skeleton home (half of which is without plumbing and electricity), 30,000 vines to prune, building permit soucis*--surely THAT will "take my time".

So much commotion. I suddenly feel out of my mind. Walking into that rendez-vous on a mission to walk out with another boulder on my back--a contract for a 300 page manuscript with a due date looming over my head--was like clinging to the bow of a sinking ship.

Then again, writing may just be my lifeline.

                                   *     *     *

Post note: Though I did not walk out of Bar Americain with a book contract, I did receive boulder-size support from a caring editor, along with a publisher's request for a first chapter.

.................................................................................................................
References: le comptoir (m) = counter; la belle-famille (f) = family-in-law; la rédactrice (f) = editor; book = Words in a French Life; le soucis (m) = worry

Hear French:
Listen to Jean-Marc recite today's quote: Download redacteur.wav
Comme l'apprend vite tout bon rédacteur, c'est justement ce qui est évident qui doit être souligné - sinon on passera à côté.

.........................................................................................
In Gifts:
Chatelaine_1French language magazines

Flower_jump_ropeFlower jump rope by Vilac

Message_boardSlate Kitchen Message Board

Foot_cream_1Nourishing French foot cream by Durance

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.


vallonnée

Skyline_1
The "hills" of New York taken with this Canon

Here_is_new_yorkHere is New York. Perceptive, funny, and nostalgic, E.B. White's stroll around Manhattan remains the quintessential love letter to the city, written by one of America's foremost literary figures. The New York Times has named Here is New York one of the ten best books ever written about the metropolis, and The New Yorker calls it "the wittiest essay, and one of the most perceptive, ever done on the city.

vallonné,e (val-oh-nay) adjective
  undulating, hilly

Also: vallon = small valley

Je chante pour mon vallon en souhaitant que dans chaque vallon un coq en fasse autant. / I sing for my small valley in hopes that in each small valley a cockerel will do as much. --Edmond Rostand

Listen to the above quote, in French: Download vallon.wav
.

Column_11
The four days that I spent in New York City are but a balmy blur. Looking back, I try to focus on so many landmarks come to life: The Statue of Liberty, Central Park, Starbucks, Times Square, Chelsea, Starbucks, the patineurs* at Rockefeller Center, Starbucks, Grand Central Station, TriBeCa, Starbucks....

Considering the pre-flight stress (of leaving the tweens and Jean-Marc safely behind), it was a revelation to find myself floating through the voyage, from the seaside airport in Nice, to the traffic near Jamaica, down to the bowels of SoHo.

From the time I arrived in JFK to meet my sister (who flew in from Arizona) and belle-mère* from Seattle, to join a few friends, time went by like a gentle current weaving its way through a pulsing metropolis, carrying us along for a splendid ride.

Apart from the famous landmarks, what stood out and downright struck was the warmth of New Yorkers. Thanks and have a great day. Can I help you? Here ma'am, you dropped this. Would you like me to take your picture? Have you seen Grand Central? Been to the Morgan Library? We listened as New Yorkers guided us through their city and all but held our hands in the process. One power walking business woman stopped dead in her tracks, caught her breath and offered, "Did you need help finding something?" She turned on her heel and added, "Oh, I'm going that way. You can follow me." I couldn't help but wonder if New Yorkers were always this nice, or if such "looking out for one another" is born of a tragedy shared.

On the Circle Line sightseeing boat ride, a jubilant tour guide tells us that the word Manhattan comes from the Indian term "mannah" (island) and the Algonquian suffix for hills ("hatin"). That would make Manhattan "Island of hills."

I don't remember any hills in New York City, but an unmistakable hilly feeling, a high that comes from traveling away from one's static life, to the dynamic and diverse, from being open-minded while in a foreign land. (Or maybe that hilly high feeling had something to do with all that Starbucks undulating through me).

...........................................................................................................
References: un patineur (une patineuse) = ice skater; la belle-mère (f) = stepmother

Related Words:
  la vallée = valley
  le vallonnement (m) = undulation, hills and valleys


Travel products & more:
AirborneAIRBORNE combats the airborne germs and viruses that are all around in places like classrooms, offices and airplanes

Hot_coutureHot Couture By Givenchy By Givenchy For Women

Visions_of_franceVisions of France (DVD). For dazzling views of historic Provence, and The Riviera.

More French temptations here.

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.


pare-brise

Parebrise
Taxis (and their shiny pare-brises) in New York City, where I traded country life for cosmopolitan over the weekend.

Chatelaine_1Read French language magazines ....for a fun way to improve your français.

le pare-brise (par-breez) noun, masculine
  windshield, windscreen

Des fois t'es le pare-brise, des fois t'es le moucheron.
Sometimes you are the windshield, sometimes you are the bug.
-- Mark Knopfler

Listen to Jean-Marc recite the above quote (play clip twice, as it skips): Download pare-brise2.wav
.

Column_8
At Terminal 2 in Nice, a French stewardess in a sleek queue de cheval* makes an announcement over the loudspeaker to the group waiting at gate 22:
"Boarding for flight 83 to New York is about to begin. Please remain seated and wait until your row is called."

Almost as soon as the microphone clicks off, the passengers casually crowd to the comptoir* where we proceed to queue up in one non-linear cluster, passports and boarding passes in hand.

When a handful of first class passengers has disappeared down the ramp, boarding comes to an abrupt halt and another message pipes in over the loudspeaker....
"Due to a technical issue, we will need to stop boarding at this time."

During the wait that ensues, my eyes travel over the international voyagers, looking to pick up a good tip or two for a future overseas flight. I see a lot of compact carry-ons and regret overpacking (my own tote bulges and the zipper tabs, broken off long ago, have been replaced by sandwich bag twisties). I observe so many pairs of sensible shoes and loose-fitting clothing (and pat myself on the back for not wearing my new jeans--easily a size too small--and the three-inch high-heeled boots. I'd heard about a woman made barefoot after passing through an airport security check. Removing her boots for the x-ray machine, she was unable to reboot after her feet had swollen from hours of international travel).

There is a floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the runway and the mid-morning sun is burning past the glass, causing passengers to remove their heavy coats and extra layering. While the travelers are quick to chat about the heat, I notice how nonchalant everyone seems to be about the technical issue which isn't mentioned. It is true that the French are known for their technical prowess, I reason (witness the Concorde). Of course I shouldn't worry, I tell myself.

Just when I begin to relax, the American standing next to me gasps:
"I can't believe what I just saw!" she says, pointing to our airplane outside.
"What?" I ask.
"One of the technicians just poured a bottle of water over the windshield!"
Dumbstruck, our silence is broken when a lady stroking a French poodle rolls her eyes and reacts, blasé as ever, to the window repair. "Très high tech," she quips.

While the woman's humor put us at ease, I wish I could say we laughed all the way to New York, but the truth is my faith in the pare-brise prowess of the French was only restored when we safely touched ground at JFK.*

...............................................................................................................
References: la queue de cheval (f) = ponytail; le comptoir (m) = counter; JFK = John F. Kennedy (International Airport)

Trivia
On pare-brises across France, you'll find a small green stamp or "vignette automobile"-- evidence that the motorist has paid the annual tax for the vehicle in question. Car owners are obliged to buy and display the special fiscal sticker on the window of each vehicle in circulation.


Related Words & Expressions:
  dégivrer le pare-brise = to defrost the windshield
  windshield wiper = un essuie-glace
  windscreen washer = un lave-glace

In GIFTS:
Cle_de_paris_clock_2Clef de Paris Clock

Freshflowers_2Flowers - Sunflower Radiance Bouquet

Songs_in_frenchSongs in French for Children

EggbasketThe ever-French wire egg basket

Smartfrench_1SmartFrench CD-ROM --"the smart way to learn French"

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.


badaud

Garden_view_3
Our medieval village is a great place to badauder.

ScooterIn Gifts: Kind of like a pricey Vespa, only less-pa. Check out this mini electric scooter.

badaud,e (ba-doh, ba-dohd) noun
  1. a gossipy idler, rubberneck, onlooker, gawker 2. stroller (flâneur)

Synonym: un gobe-mouche (literally "a swallows flies," or "fly swallower," from the image of a gaper standing with his/her mouth wide open--a sure target for les mouches!)

The term badaud comes from the Provencal "badar." (The French definition being to "rester bouche bée" or "to stand open-mouthed, in astonishment").

                                                                 Column_7
Badaudage--you know, "rubbernecking." There's a lot of this sort of activity going on around here at the moment, what with our house being wide open and sur le marché.*

From my office window, I watch the passers-by, who bend their backs and crane their cous* and seem to stop and spy. Stretch your neck this way, I whisper, to see the lavender patch that Jean-Marc has just tucked in for the winter. Look over there, and notice several rows of grapevines just below the wall of sleeping jasmine. Regardez,* beside the line of roses braving the cold November air, just beyond the sage-green shutters to where a would-be novelist blackens white pages in her showroom/study.

My Larousse* dictionary defines "badaud" as a "promeneur* whose curiosity is easily seduced by a spectacle" (read: the bright red FOR SALE sign weighing on our gate).

The French call the open-mouthed gapers "fly swallowers" and the term brings a smile. A little humor, even at another's expense, is proving helpful at this, an uprooting time in my life.

Speaking of humor, if you, too, are looking for a good laugh (and a walking, breathing example of badaud), watch for me tomorrow at the mouth of the Hudson. There I'll be, in gray and green* with a gaping mine,* head hung back, mouth ajar, tonsils kissing the sky--my own curiosity easily seduced by a great Big Apple.

Which reminds me--I hope there are no flies in New York City this time of year....

                                           *     *     *

                (PS: The next edition goes out Wednesday. A bientôt!)
.............................................................................................................................
References: sur le marché = on the market, le cou (m) = neck; regardez = (you) look; Larousse dictionary; promeneur (promeneuse) = walker, stroller; green (see garde-robe story); une mine (f) = appearance (on face)

Listen to Jean-Marc's sentence: Download badaud.wav
Badar, d'où vient le mot badaud, ça veut dire rester "bouche bée."
Badar, from where we get the word badaud, means to stand open-mouthed.
.........................................................................................
In Gifts:
Bonmarche_clockAu Bon Marché Rusted-Tin Clock

Apothicaire_candleApothicaire de Marseille Scented Candle from the South of France

ChanceCHANCE For Women By CHANEL eau de toilette

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.


vendre

Chez_nous_1
A glimpse of our "home sweet home": the front porch.

Michel_thomas_1French With Michel Thomas: The Fastest Way to Learn a Language


vendre (von-dre) verb
  to sell

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

                                                                        Column_6
I watched my husband carry a can of blood red paint over to the kitchen table. Be careful not to spill, I thought, bridling my tongue before the words tumbled out.

I stared as he set down the hand painted board which read "à LOUER," for RENT. The upside, I told myself, was that I'll no longer panic about renting out our home each summer.

I glared at Jean-Marc as he flipped over the board and began to stencil in seven life-altering letters.

I noticed how, like the board, I felt those letters carving into me.

"Be careful not to paint out of the lines!" I snapped, before storming out to my car, on my way to do a few errands.

Returning to our nest an hour later, I saw the hand painted sign strung across the front gate and those blood red letters that read like a menacing lab report. I blinked my eyes but, upon opening them, the words hadn't budged:
"A VENDRE."*

                                  *     *     *
...................................................................................................................
Post note:  This past summer, I swore to my own mother that I would drop an anchor into this land for good. "Never sell your home!" she had cautioned. But, as the French say, "On ne sait jamais ce que demain sera" ("We just don't know what tomorrow holds"). For us, it may be a move north, to new stomping grounds (or "to stomp grapes"). In the meantime, we need to sell our cozy nest. If you, or someone you know is in the market for a 3 bedroom home + guesthouse (one hour from Nice & Aix-en-Provence) please contact Jean-Marc at jm.espinasse@gmail.com.

Read all about our house, the backdrop for so many bucolic scenes, in my book "Words in a French Life". If you already have the book, flip to the chapter "Aiguille" where you'll find a story to accompany today's photo.

.....................................................................................................................
References: à vendre = for sale

Listen to French:
Hear Jean-Marc recite today's quote: Download vendre.wav
Ce n'est pas acheter qui instruit, mais vendre.

Verb conjugation: vendre
je vends, tu vends, il/elle vend, nous vendons, vous vendez, ils/elles vendent; past participle: vendu
French_verb_reviewThe Ultimate French Verb Review and Practice

French Expressions:
  maison à vendre = house for sale
  vendre la mêche = to let the cat out of the bag
  se vendre comme des petits pains = to sell like hotcakes
  vendre aux enchères = to sell at auction
  vendre en gros = to sell wholesale
  vendre en vrac = to sell in bulk

In Gifts:
MontblancMontblanc Ballpoint Pen

Hand_creamL'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream

HeelysHeelys Skate Shoes (In Monte Carlo, Jean-Marc and I watched a few pint-sized tourists whiz through the principality in these shoe skates!)

Wagon_chariotYellow pull wagon/chariot : Lovingly designed in France by Vilac.

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.


un filleul

Filleul
(photo of my husband, Jean-Marc, and his filleul, Matthieu)

Easy_speak_frenchEazyspeak French teaches 800 vocabulary words; quickly extends conversational skills

un filleul (fee-yul) noun, masculine
1. godson, godchild

Also:
filleule = goddaughter
filleul de guerre = adoptive son (in wartime)

Mon filleul va bientôt partir, ainsi la guerre va devenir plus personnelle pour moi. My godson is going over soon, so the war's about to get personal for me. --Garry Trudeau.

                                                                          Column_5
"I love Marseilles. When I was young, I loved to feel the Mistral wind blowing through me. I would stand still and just let it whip through my hair. I can no longer bear the Mistral. But I still love Marseilles." --Mme. Chollet

In the spice-scented salon* of the Chollet's home, I marvel at four generations of French women, one as beautiful as the next. The great-grandmother, with her dark chocolate brown hair and large clip-on earrings, recounted her passion for the windy city. Curiously, her lust for Massalia* skipped a generation, to her granddaughter. Her very own daughter (seated beside her, dressed all in black and looking very Cannoise*) prefers La Côte d'Azur, explaining, "Les Marseillais* are violent like the wind that blows through their city! The wind is mild in Cannes."

I sat facing my friend Corinne, her mother, and grandmother, thinking about how my feelings for a city that I once called home had changed. I didn't always like Marseilles. At one point I despised it. Returning now, as a visitor, I am enchanted by this historical town founded by the Greeks over 2600 years ago.

Earlier, as we motored through the 8th arrondissement, past the Bagatelle (where Jean-Marc and I were first married, but that is another story...) I found myself wondering how, newly arrived, I could not see the charm and beauty of this ancient city. Back then, Marseilles felt like a perpetual attack on this desert rat. (I would not recommend moving from warm, dry Phoenix to cold, windy Marseilles; Chicago to Marseilles, why not, but Phoenix/Marseilles--forget it!)

The cruel wind, the absence of a "user friendly" anything, the aggressive, unsympathetic government employees who threatened to deport me, and the lack of edible tortillas were just a few elements that wrecked havoc on the successful integration of this Phoenician, in a town founded by the Phocaeans.*

But now, 14 years later, I can't help but be caught up in the whirl of this action-packed, passionate, multi-ethnic ville.* Marseilles IS violent. Like its famous Mistral wind, it kicks, pushes, whirls, stomps, spits, and sometimes slams, daring you to cling right back to it, for the ride of your life.

My first child came into this world via Marseilles, kicking and screaming like the wind, which might explain his constant joie de vivre. (My daughter was born in Aix-en-Provence, and is reserved like the Aixois, or citizens of Aix.)

But, returning to our story, and to the Chollet's cozy salon, we were about to celebrate the birthday of a little guy who had just turned two. Matthieu, pronounced "ma-tyeuh," is my husband's filleul* (and the birthday boy in question).

Matthieu's mother, Corinne, had prepared five desserts for the celebration and, knowing what a good cook she is, I got in line illico* to sample the gateau au chocolat,* crumble au poires,* Madeleines, gateau au yaourt* and a brownie...or two.

Next we watched the birthday boy (dressed in a t-shirt that read "J'ai 2 ans!" I'm 2!) boogie and chanter.* And what did he sing? A song about St. Tropez! I take it that passion for Marseilles has just skipped another generation.

.................................................................................................................
References: le salon (m) = the living room; Massalia = Marseilles' original name; une Cannoise = a woman from Cannes; les Marseillais = the people of Marseilles; Phocaeans = inhabitants of an ancient district of central Greece; une ville (f) = a city; un filleul (m) = godson; illico = right away; gâteau au chocolat (m) = chocolate cake; crumble aux poires = pear crumble; gâteau au yaourt (m) = yogurt cake; chanter = to sing

Hear French spoken:
Listen to Jean-Marc recite today's quote: Download filleul2.wav
Mon filleul va bientôt partir, ainsi la guerre va devenir plus personnelle pour moi.

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.


garde-robe

Garderobe
I love colorful facades, colorful fabric is next on my list... (Le Muy, France)

QueenoffashionQueen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution by Caroline Weber

la garde-robe (gard rohb) noun, feminine
  wardrobe

(The plural is garde-robes.)

La personnalité est la garde-robe du moi. Personality is the wardrobe of ego. --Louis Scutenaire

                                                                            Column_4
I pledge allegiance to mud, soot, and moss. Open up my garde-robe* and you'll find my meld-into-the-earth safety net--colors that aren't colorful and shades that don't shout. For flamboyant, I might wear rust. But rust isn't my color, I soon learn, and square is not my cut. Such country bumpkin camouflage (even French country bumpkin) will not work in the Big Apple,* which is where I'll be
in one week's time.

Recently, an English friend of mine offered to pull me out of the swamp-colored clothing bog I've thrown myself into. While the French aren't known to regard the English for their sense of style, my friend Michele, from London, is beating them at their own game.

Michele brought Bright to our rendezvous: bright blue, bright green, and bright pink. "Try them," she said, taking my brown sweater, brown jacket and brown purse, piling them over her arms and shoulder. "I'll be the clotheshorse," she joked, and we both laughed at one Brit's self-effacing double-entendre.

"What do you think?" She said, of the bright sweaters.
"They're bright!" I replied, reaching for my muddy security blankets.
"I'll hold those for now," Michele said, tightening her grip.

"Try these," she offered, handing me sea-green, lavender-gray, and gold lamé. I slung the scarves over my shoulder, one by one. "What do you think?"

"I think I like what you have on," I said to Michele, who wore dark slacks, a dark sweater and a long beaded sautoir.* I even liked her hair; a smart, shoulder-length carré.*

There we stood, in front of a wall of scarves in a discount clothing warehouse, comparing fabric to face, working our way from washed-out to warm. I was excited to learn that gray is one of my colors, it matched my bog theme perfectly.

Michele had more patience than a country of French fashionistas in the days leading up to the government-regulated SOLDES* (a much anticipated event which happens but twice a year in France) and two-and-a-half hours later we walked out of the store, having added a few more shades to my wardrobe: ashes and coal. Depending on how you look at it, I was either halfway out of the bog or one foot into a fashion incinerator.

I opened the trunk of my car to store the silt that I would add to my cozy mud, soot, and moss collection back home. As I turned to faire la bise,* Michele handed me a small sack. Inside, I discovered the lovely sea-green scarf and, along with it, a goldmine of hope.
..........................................................................................................
References: la garde-robe (f) = wardrobe; Big Apple = La Grande Pomme (New York); le sautoir (m) = long chain, necklace; le carré (m) = blunt cut; les soldes (mpl) = sales; faire la bise = "to do the kiss" = to kiss on each cheek in greeting/leaving someone
(A book Michele handed me along with the scarf.)



Listen to French:
Hear my son Max recite today's quote:
La personnalité est la garde-robe du moi.
Download garde-robe2.wav

In Gifts:

ButtercaramelsAll natural butter caramels from Brittany small size in Camembert box
VegetablemillFood grinder. MIU France Stainless Steel Tomato/Vegetable Mill

BeretFrench Beret -- versatile, lightweight and easy to pack

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.


emplette

Primeurs (c) Kristin Espinasse
Fruit and vegetable crates at a corner market in Orange (Vaucluse).


une emplette
(om-plet)
noun, feminine
a purchase

 

When Max and his soeur cadette, Jackie, offer to ride their bikes to the bakery, I request a little detour along the way.  "Please stop by the supérette. We're out of toilet paper!" 

The kids wrinkle their noses, complaining that they'll look carrément ridicule shopping for le papier WC.  But not wanting to lose the right to ride to town, they quickly come up with a compromise.

"Can we get Sopalin instead?"  

I'm not crazy about the paper-towel idea, but have to give the kids credit for some creative problem-solving. 

Half an hour later, brother and sister return from les courses with a few unexpected purchases. Jackie, her cheeks crimson from the cool autumn air, hands me a package of toilet paper.

"It smells like peaches!" she says. "Sens-le!"

I sniff the fruit-scented TP. It does smell good! Still, I am suspicious. How did she suddenly muster up the courage to be seen in the toilet-paper aisle?  And what is that in the other bag?

As if on cue, Max pulls a bottle out of his sac à dos
Wine? Jean-Marc, walks into the room. He is as confused as I am.
"Pour faire plaisir à Papa," our 11-year-old Max explains.

Jean-Marc examines the bottle, amazed at the coincidence: the Côtes du Rhône wine is from the area to which we will be moving this summer!

Busy reading the label, Jean-Marc seems unfazed by the fact that his child has managed to buy alcohol. More than fazed, I am dying to know a few details about the booze purchase.

"It's a 2004," Max is busy talking wine with his dad. "It cost 6 euros 80 for the bottle!"

"But Max," I question, 'How is it that the store clerk let you buy wine?"

"I told him it was for my dad."

My eyes shoot over to Jackie. Eh bien! That explains the toilet paper confidence. She must have told the clerk that the TP was for her mom!

***
Putting away the groceries, I have a change of perspective and am no longer embarrassed about the toilet paper. All it takes is to imagine the following Could Be Worse scenario:

Early Sunday morning at the supermarket. Two little kids run up to the check-out line (peopled by all of our nosy neighbors!), and plunk down a bottle of wine. In breathless voices they explain, "It's for our Mom!"

 

Your Edits Here.  Is the story clear?  Better to leave off the final paragraph? ("It's for Mom!" may be a strong enough punch line, no? Thanks for your thoughts here in the comments box. 




French Vocabulary

la soeur cadette

little sister

la supérette
small supermarket

carrément ridicule
completely ridiculous

le papier WC (also le papier toilette)
toilet paper

le Sopalin (from "Société du Papier-Linge")
paper towel

les courses
errands

sens-le
smell it

le sac à dos
backpack

pour faire plaisir à Papa
to please Daddy

Côtes du Rhône
wine grown in the Rhône region of France

eh bien!
well!

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.


compromis

Chariot_1
Chariot of fire French vines in the Vaucluse (and a sneak peek at the farm).

LearninyourcarLearn French in your car : a simple, direct approach to language learning.

un compromis (kom-pro-mee) noun, masculine
  1. compromise  2. sales agreement (compromis de vente)

Un compromis fait un bon parapluie, mais un mauvais toit. Compromise makes a good umbrella, but a bad roof. --Robert Lowell
                                              *     *     *

                                                            Column_2
On Thursday, November 2nd, Jean-Marc and I signed a compromis* for 8.5 hectares* of vines near Avignon. Signed! I should say we signed, and signed, and signed. In all, we scribbled our signatures and printed our initials across twenty-four pages of French legalese.

Though our future digs are thirty minutes away from Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the "co-promising" took place at Uncle Jean-Claude's cellar, with two dozen old oak barrels standing witness. Aunt Marie-Françoise and cousin Audrey would have been present for the signing, but they were busy babysitting Max, Jackie, and Braise, who had made the two-and-a-half hour journey north with us to partager* this memorable day.

Babysitting was a good idea. We had already pushed our luck back at the village of Ste. Cécile les Vignes, when our family of five (with Braise in the lead) bounded into the town hall for a chance meeting with Monsieur le Maire,* who graciously received us in his elegant office and promised to help in any way he could. "Ne vous gênez pas." Don't hesitate if you need anything, he insisted.
"We are happy to welcome another wine-farming family to our town."

I considered our future mayor's offer.... Come to think of it, Jean-Marc could use a hand in pruning some 30,000 newly-acquired vines. I would need assistance cleaning out the chicken coop and finding homes for over a dozen freeloading cats that have taken up residence in the old rabbit hutch. The kids could always use help with their French manners (starting with keeping their grimy elbows off the mayor's desk) and, as for our dog, Braise, she could use a walk around the block after concentrating all her efforts on keeping the mayor's oriental rug dry.

I might have taken up Monsieur le Maire on his offer, but then we won't be moving to Ste. Cecile for another five or six months, at which point we'll need all the helping hands we can get.

......................................................................................................................
References: un compromis (de vente) = sales agreement; 8.5 hectares = about 21 acres; partager = to share; Monsieur le Maire = Mr. Mayor

..............................
In Magazines:
WinemakerWineMaker magazine--for people who want to make their own wine at home. It is edited for both beginners and experts with simple, how-to tips using kits and concentrates to more advanced articles focusing on fresh fruit.

Hear French:
Listen to Jean-Marc read today's French quote:
Un compromis fait un bon parapluie, mais un mauvais toit.

(Play it twice, as the clip skips... ) Download compromis2.wav


                                                     In Books and Gifts:
VineyardtalesVineyard Tales: Reflections on Wine

VineyardwinecharmVineyard Wine Charms : A great hostess gift or gift for wine enthusiasts

FrenchroostertinFrench Rooster Tin Floral Bucket

Eiffeltowerlamp_1Paris Nights Eiffel Tower Tea Light Lamp

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.