bicoque
tuyau

autrement dit

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Photo taken this morning... in the town of Visan. What strikes you about the image? Help us to see it, in detail, through your eyes, in the comments box. Many thanks!

autrement dit (oh-truh-mahn-dee)

    : in other words


A_day_in_a_french_life

Autrement Dit / In Other Words
(...or how not to get too personal when "the sweet life" turns to salt)

I was all set to write a story about our boozing bougainvillea (that's right...) when life, no matter how French, got in the way; autrement dit: I was fixin' to face the work day, full speed ahead--comme d'hab*--when someone threw a sabot* into the smooth machine that is our calm and collected family. (Truth-be-told: chickens will have teeth* the day our family is calm and collected.)

*     *     *
In the throes of our turbulent teens, Mom took to driving to clear her mind. As her daughter, I try to take her example; one day, I trust, my son will take mine....

I am driving, a bit slower than Mom would, alone on a country road, watching the barren vines that flank my path fly by. I am thinking about freedom, a song that is ever on my teenager's tongue, and I am thinking about passion: how plate-shattering passion alone can feed the hungry adrenaline that we sometimes need in order to feel alive and kicking.

We kick a door, run away (to the end of the block), into the cold, dark night. We hope that someone feels our injustice, feels it like the salty tears in our throat. We will stand outside forever!--in the freezing cold, under a blanket of stars...but will return just as soon as you beg us to "Please get inside this house right now! You are going to catch a cold!"

You will hurry up and beg, won't you? OK, then, forget begging. Order me in--and fast!--it's cold out here!

*     *     *
Mom also said these two things, and not necessarily in the same breath: "BRACE YOURSELF for your children's adolescence!" and "When you drive, take a new road each time."

And so, instead of heading to work, I headed out the door this morning (speeding past those vines) to look at other people's airing laundry.* By the time I returned home, I was ready to bring in my own--and to pick up where I had left off: facing a blank page.

(I'll hope to write about that boozing bougainvillea next week.)


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
More stories about my mom, in this book:
"Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love..."


~~~~~~~~~~French Vocabulary~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
comme d'hab(itude) = as usual; le sabot (m) = clog (note: the word "sabotage" [to sabotage one's plans] comes from the word sabot. See comment, just below, for more...); when chickens have teeth (French expression: Quand les poules auront des dents) = never; airing laundry = the subject of today's photo

*SABOTOGE*: I received the following comment from reader Mair Buddug:

I heard that sabot is a wooden shoe, which the Flemish people wore up until the early 20th century.  In the early days of the industrial revolution, the weavers were resentful that the industrialists were trying to replace them with machines.  One of the strategies they used to foil that plan was to toss their sabots into the machine; hence, sabotage--throwing a monkey wrench into the plans.

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