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Entries from March 2009

bon sang

Jean-marc
Jean-Marc, strolling with me through the town of Vacqueras.

I'm just going to steal one more photo ...from the upcoming Cinéma Vérité edition... before I get my act together, and figure out how to temporarily organize myself on my son's new computer after regaining power (and one new PC...) here at the farm. That's my husband, le vigneron(pictured above).  Just two days after he left for a multi-city USA wine tour, we lost all power back here at the grape farm. No electricity! (I knew Jean-Marc was taking the juice with him, but this is ridiculous!) PS: re the ASU t-shirt: I met my husband in 1990, while on an exchange program organized by Arizona State University. This photo was taken three weeks ago.

bon sang (bohn sahn) expression

    : dammit!, for Pete's sake, jeepers, for cryin' out loud....

There are many translations for "bon sang". A Google book search brings up a rainbow of equivalents. Today, I ask you to add your own translations here, in the comments box. Let's make this a big rainbow!

 

A_day_in_a_french_life 
I was driving the kids to school this morning, giving thanks for the sun shining across the fields of vines (we've been without heat since Le Big Fry) and feeling lucky to be on time....

Our conversation was centered on le changement d'horaire,* something for which we were speeding to catch up with ever since, at 6:45 am I learned it was, in fact, 7:45 am!

"I didn't realize the time had changed!" I apologized to the kids.
"Oh, I knew about it," Max said.
"Me, too," his sister added.

Ah bon?* Well, the next time you have insider information like that, would you mind sharing it with me?"

As I looked into the rear-view mirror, to see whether anyone was listening, I noticed that my son was not wearing a seat-belt.
"Max! Put your seat-belt on... for goodness sakes!"

After a bout of silence, my daughter spoke:

"What does "goodness sakes" mean?" Jackie wanted to know.

Our child's question caught me by surprise.
"Goodness... means "something good". That's when it occurred to me that this half of the definition defeated our purpose (we needed to get those seat-belts on lest something bad happen!).

"Goodness sakes is something to say instead of saying a gros mot*!"

"Well, what does it mean?" Max asked, and, for once, I was certain that both kids were listening to me.

Goodness sakes? What, come to think of it, did "sakes" mean anyway? 
"It's like bon sang, I guess!"

I looked into the rear-view mirror and noticed that my son seemed satisfied with the translation, which he quickly shared with his sister, in English: "GOOD BLOOD!"

Well, it wasn't an exact equivalent, but it was exact in other ways, exact enough to make us smile like pirates as we sped forward into the future, leaving our cares farther down the time line.

*     *     *
Corrections, comments, or stories of your own... always welcome in the comments box. Merci d'avance. We love reading your words!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~French Vocabulary~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
le changement d'horaire (m) = time change; ah bon? = oh, really?; le gros mot (m) = cuss word

See hundreds of photos of France at Cinéma Vérité: your gift when you help support this French word journal. Click here to begin!
The first French bike my mom gave me. Can you tell that she borrowed it back? (that's her hat in the basket). Photo © K. Espinasse, from the French Word archives. 

Shopping:

French Clockmaker sign : a reproduction of an old French merchant's sign
Bonne Maman Strawberry Preserves : made with no colorings, artificial preservatives, pulps, purees, juices or concentrates.
In French Music: "Au sourire de l'âme" by Pep's (recommended by my son, Max)

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this French word story. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next letter, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving these posts. Your support is vivement apprécié. Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’m a high school French teacher, and I love how your blog gives me everyday vocabulary and glimpses of French character and tradition. Your gentle expression of your faith and rare transparency of emotion inspire me."
--Melanie


cramer

CV
all photos © Kristin Espinasse

Bonjour from the internet cafe here in Sainte Cécile-Les-Vignes. Too bad it takes a small catastrophe to drive one outdoors and into the neighborly streets... The good news is I've met two new friends, Carole and Abdallah (here at the tourist office); many thanks to these two for allowing me to use the web facilities! More about the Where, When, and Why of our recent (electrical) catastophe, "Le BIG FRY," in today's story column.

cramer (krah-may) verb

    : to burn down; to go up in flames/smoke

Expression: Ça crame! = It's roasting!
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A_day_in_a_french_life 
"Le Big Fry"

The French word cramer does not mean "to study intensively for an exam" -- although one could argue that "to cram" is to be put to the TEST. And, it should be pointed out that the French verb cramer is used informally... never mind any formal apologies from EDF (the French electric company). Also, though cramer is the opposite of keeping cool, keep cool one must when the power and the appliances go bust!

Briefly:

Cramer is to burn... as in our family computer that went bust after a power burst.

Cramer is to go up in smoke, as in our telephones--all three--this, following an electric spree!

Cramer = kaput, as in my brother-in-law's coffee machine, yet one more victim of excess power turned "steam"!

Cramer is to go up in flames... as in all of those candles, quickly scavenged and lit, in time to see one's dinner sandwich (no more stove top on which to cook!).  

Cramer is not to cry, but to remain cool while, one by one, all those modern day appliances twist, spit, and drool: up to you, now, to get by with the most basic tools (candlelight and one's own might).

***
Update: After our recent power SURGE! (I guess that's what you'd call it) and shut down, the electricity has returned to the farm! So much for the good news. Meantime, I'll be doing some home inventory for all that's been cuit, cooked, and cramé (including the computer modem... For this reason, delivery of the "thrice-weekly" French Word-A-Day newsletter... may be sketchy). Thank you for using the comments box (click here) to respond to this post or to share a story of your own.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Shopping:
Chasing Matisse: A Year in France Living My Dream

I'll Never Be French (no matter what I do): Living in a Small Village in Brittany

In French music: Serge Lama

Songs in French for Children including Alouette, Sur le Pont d'Avignon, Claire Fontaine, Prom'non Nous dans les Bois...

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this French word story. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next letter, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving these posts. Your support is vivement apprécié. Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’m a high school French teacher, and I love how your blog gives me everyday vocabulary and glimpses of French character and tradition. Your gentle expression of your faith and rare transparency of emotion inspire me."
--Melanie


coupable

DSC_0082
Mystery, intrigue... and a flower thief in Sainte Cécile-les-Vignes. Read on. photo © Jules Greer

When my mom, Jules, steps off the plane in France she always feels like she has stepped back in time: into the very footsteps of French soldiers; their traces now obliterated: all that remains is the ghost of war. Regular old vines begin to look like calvary in Mom's artist's mind, ever seeing, ever inspired by another's bravery. Mom took this photo, so fascinated was she by the eerie effect of smoke (the neighbor was burning weeds) wafting through the vineyard. Read on, for more of my mom's impressions, in her letter below.
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Cinéma Vérité (French Word-A-Day's weekend photo supplement) is about to become cinematic... Don't miss upcoming videos of French life! You will also have access to the last two photo bouquets with over 30 pictures and several "story citations" that accompany them. More info here.

Today's Word


coupable (coo-pahbl) adjective
    : guilty

noun, masculine: culprit, guilty party

Audio file and example sentence:
Download Coupable wav . Download Coupable mp3
Ma maman commence à se sentir coupable.
My mom is beginning to feel guilty.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Shopping~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Quiet Corners of Paris: More than eighty of the loveliest, most tranquil, and sometimes hidden places in Paris are celebrated in this charming guidebook.

Riz rouge: Premier red rice from southeastern France. This region has been designated as a "Protected Geographic Appelation" by the French government.

Caudalie Beauty Elixir : vine therapy for your skin with rosemary, peppermint, and orange extracts.


A_day_in_a_french_life
For as long as I can get away with it, I will bribe my mom to write this column, via her letters. It gives me time to catch up with all that sprints ahead of me: namely, meal-preparation, dust, and laundry. As for the bribe: Jules likes chocolate and a hot meal--and she's requested one of those fold-out nylon chairs (in which to sit comfortably as she watches her grandchildren at play, whether on the court or in the arena). Mom might also be coerced to continue writing in exchange for one of those Flip cameras -- so that she can start filming this "reality show" that is French Life Unfolding around her. What do you think? Can we trust her with a video camera? Meantime, enjoy her latest letter.


My Darling Kristi,

I am lying on your cot in your office thinking about all I have learned from you  -- just this morning !!!  I am exhausted as I know you are also.  We tend to feed off of each other and then escalate to the point of exhaustion.  As I am resting I sense the wonderful fragrance of lunch being prepared by you below, in your kitchen. You are still working away in that determined manner you have acquired along life's path.  I am feeling a little coupable, trying to justify my couch time against your zeal for order. I think you have inherited this gene from your Darling Dad.

We seem to have activated so many new projects in the past four days -- I think we tend to forget I just arrived last Thursday evening and today is just Sunday morning.  One thing I know for sure -- last
September when I visited I tried to teach you the art of delegation - you have become a master of this.  I am now the victim of your new and highly honed skill as I hurriedly list all of the goals that YOU
have assigned to me just this morning... as you run around repeating "MANY HANDS MAKE LIGHT WORK!"

*     *     * 

Comment on Mom's letter, or the photos (that's Jules, below, swiping flowers along a route nationale (between Jonquières and Orange). In the second photo she is hurrying to the car after I've ordered her back in a panic -- and just in time for a swift getaway!


DSC_0135

DSC_0138

Finally, Jean-Marc is in NYC today! It's not too late to join him for this -- or one of his other USA multi-city wine tastings tour! Have a look here for the list of cities where he will pour his wines, including his gold winner "Mistral".

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this French word story. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next letter, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving these posts. Your support is vivement apprécié. Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’m a high school French teacher, and I love how your blog gives me everyday vocabulary and glimpses of French character and tradition. Your gentle expression of your faith and rare transparency of emotion inspire me."
--Melanie


rencontre

DSC_0074
                                     In the town of Violès (Vaucluse)  


rencontre (rahn kontr) noun, feminine

    : encounter, meeting (of persons); duel, skirmish
.
A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

(Note: The following post was written in 2009)

Jules made it from Mexico to Marseilles yesterday! On the way out of the airport terminal, Mom and I stopped along the tree-lined sidewalk to gather handfuls of grapefruit-size cones that the parasol pines had dropped onto the parking lot. Like that, our treasure hunt has begun and I'm excited thinking about where the next eight weeks will take us, as Mom and I help each other to see France through one another's eyes.

Speaking about seeing France, here is a letter that Jules wrote just hours before she left Mexico. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I have.

A note about grammar and syntax (whatever that last one means): Mom is pouting in the corner as I prepare to post her unedited letter (I threw my hands up in the air, in despair, after the third run-on sentence, at which point I quit fixing things). Mom's just nervous about grammar, and thinks she's going to sound really dumb compared to some of the blog commenters (she cites "Newforest" and "Intuit" among others). Because Mom was thrown out of school at 16, she has a huge inferiority complex over her composition skills (having daydreamed through every English class). That said, I did reserve the right to edit out just one word (I replaced "interrupter" with "interpreter". I still don't know whether that was a Freudian slip on the part of Mom, but I don't like being referred to as an interrupter! Read on, in Mom's letter.

My Dearest Marie-Francoise,
  
I have waited since last week for the translation of your beautiful story. What a delightful surprise for me this morning. How generous of you to let us into a moment of your life in your beautiful village.  I wonder if everyone knows how famous your village is, perhaps Kristi can post a link.  Your wine is world famous! Whenever someone asks me where I am going to be in France I always say "Have you ever heard of "Chateauneuf-de-Pape? I'll be almost next door in a little village about 15 minutes north." 

I'll never forget the first time I visited your lovely home and vineyard, and your amazing wine cellar located in another area of the village.  Wine barrels of old wood the size of little French Citroen.  A treasured memory forever.
  
IMG_1648 I actually had a beautiful rencontre with a little old woman as Kristi and I were climbing up the ancient pathway to your house two years ago.  The first thing I noticed as we came around the corner were her bright red geraniums, then, as my eyes settled on what clippings I could swipe, my eye was drawn to her black and white checked tile floor with the little curtain of beads blocking my way.

IMG_1645 A few "Coo-coo's, are you there Darling?" and I had my new friend pulled from her morning chores in the back of her house, out in the courtyard explaining to my interpreter (Kristi) what treasures her garden held.  Kristi, do you think you could find that photo of us when she gifted me with the antique pot and plant that now resides in your office. Didn't we name that darling little plant "Rachel"?
 
My goodness am I off-track on today's subject, sitting here typing when I should be packing.  My little helper "Adela" has been ironing all of my little Mexican poncho's and now she is threatening me with the vacuum noise to get off this computer. Back to today's topic, "Little old ladies in the morning - preparing their entrances for another day in Provence Paradise."
 
I can remember when I spent almost a month in Marseilles with my husband John and my Mom Audrey, preparing for Kristi and Jean-Marc's wedding.  Jean-Marc found us a little guest house close to Vieux Port.  Each morning I would step out of the bedroom through a french door onto a lovely patio even larger than our bedroom.  This patio hovered over the street on the side of Marseilles beautiful hills.  John had arranged all of my paints and easel, along with a comfortable chair.  As I sipped my early morning "Pastis" (those days are long gone), I became fascinated with the different styles each woman demonstrated as she prepared her front entrance for the day.  The lady I was most drawn to was always dressed to the nines (heels too!) but her demeanor shouted drill Sargent attacking, attacking, attacking the steps with her broom and then scrubbing like the plague had passed her door the night before.  I continued to sip my pastis and watch the village unfold.

A few mornings later I abandoned my work and joined the fray to become one of the people in my painting.  My Mother thought I was nuts talking to everyone, continually telling me to 'settle down". My John just smiled and winked.  Throughout this visit I managed to meet most of the people on MY STREET, and even drift down to the docks and meet all of the fishermen. The woman who has remained forever in my memories was a little old lady directly across from my "studio" who encouraged me to become her assistant as we went from station to station each morning feeding the wild cats of the hills above our street.  After our work we would return to her little ground floor studio apartment, me to lie on her bed in the kitchen while she prepared me one of her many little treats each day as my reward for packing the water and food up the hills.  After my rest I moved onto the next neighbor, securing her German Shepard, so I could pretend I was a French lady walking my dog around the secret side streets of this vivid and famous city.  I will never forget the surprise in my little lady's voice when I called her 6 months later from Arizona.  She recognized my voice and I chatted on in English, she in French, as our tears of joy in real friendship trailed down our cheeks. 
COMO TALLY CHATS??? One of my first French phrases....
 
I was invited into many of the homes of Marseilles over the next month, sampling in love and friendship, experiencing the true hospitality of the French. I will always treasure these memories, especially walking Kristi down the isle in my black tuxedo.
 
Of course my Darling Jean-Marc found out that his future mother-in-law wasn't ready for the rock'in chair as I entered his life full blast.  Poor Jean-Marc had no idea what a woman (who had been divorced for 25 years--independent to the hilt) from the wild, wild west was like. As I have mentioned before, Jean-Marc and I have crossed over many torrential rivers together, I'm sure I was not what he had in mind, but I now occupy a giant part of his heart - a woman he lovingly started calling MOM about 5 years ago.
 
Time to finish packing - I'll see you all soon in our beautiful FRANCE. 
 
VIVA LA FRANCE!
 
XOXO
 
JULES

*     *     *
If you enjoyed Mom's letter, you might leave her a note in the comments box. Mille mercis!

 

DSC_0076
In the French town of Violès... photo © Kristin Espinasse

Audio File: Download Rencontre * Download Rencontre-mp 3 
Toute culture naît du mélange, de la rencontre, des chocs. A l'inverse, c'est de l'isolement que meurent les civilisations. All cultures are born out of mingling, meetings and clashes. Conversely, civilizations die from isolation. --Octavio Paz

Mille mercis to Divya, Jacqui, Ally, and Leslie (and anyone I might have missed) for translating Marie-Françoise's story. You'll find their versions (in American and English) in the "routine" and "anodin" comments boxes!

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this French word story. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next letter, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving these posts. Your support is vivement apprécié. Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’m a high school French teacher, and I love how your blog gives me everyday vocabulary and glimpses of French character and tradition. Your gentle expression of your faith and rare transparency of emotion inspire me."
--Melanie


anodin

Serre Chevalier 160-1
A roof over one's head in the town of Monêtier les Bains (French Alps). photo © Kristin Espinasse

Shopping:
Chasing Matisse: A Year in France Living My Dream
I'll Never Be French (no matter what I do): Living in a Small Village in Brittany
Songs in French for Children
including Alouette, Sur le Pont d'Avignon, Claire Fontaine, Prom'non Nous dans les Bois...
In French music: Serge Lama

Today's French Word

anodin(e) (ano-dehn, ano-deen) adjective

    : harmless; innocuous; insignificant, trivial


Audio File: hear today's word and example sentence:
Download Wav  Download MP3

Ces plantations modestes, le plus souvent des géraniums, sont l'occasion de conversations anodines entre voisins. These modest plantings, the most often, geraniums, are the occasion for easy conversation among neighbors.


Un petit mot from Kristin...
Today, in regards to this edition, we are going to delegate! You will choose the word and you get to translate Monday's French story (she says, putting up her feet and feeling the first tingling sensation of freedom--or just plain bossiness!).

The first person I am going to pick on is Jim who, unbeknownst to him, has already done his share of the work (and is now officially off the hook, but the rest of you are not, so stay with us)....

I read Jim's words last night, in the comments box, and his thoughts both inspired today's word... and got me thinking about the day's question. In regards to my aunt's most recent story (posted in French on Monday) Jim writes:

The word in Tante Marie-Françoise's piece that caught my eye was "anodin" ("conversations anodines"); a similar-looking word in English is "anodyne", which refers to pain-killers or analgesics. Is innocent, "safe" conversation a pain-killer?

Great question. Now tell us what you think, dear reader : does a little bit of conversation légère minimize our malaise? Or would you rather be all alone in your pain and suffering (opting to come out of the cave and talk at the "break of a new day")? Do you have any examples of how la conversation is good for le coeur? Or do you wish people would just shut up! (se taire!) when you are smarting with pain. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, here.

PS: If that question is just too deep, here's another: What was the topic of your latest conversation? (Mine: work... "Jean-Marc, would you please help me with the sound file?" Jean-Marc "Later. I'm waiting for the consulting enologist to arrive."). Leave your answer here.

Now, back to delegation... I am assigning the translation of Marie-Françoise's latest article to anyone who might enjoy translating it. Thank you for sharing your English rendition of "La Routine" in the comments box, for all to enjoy!

As for me, la délégatrice, I've got beds to make, a patio to sweep, flower pots to primp... and one larger-than-life Mom to greet at the Marseilles airport tomorrow. Hip, hip, hurray ...and "See you" on Friday!

*     *     *

Jules
I stole this photo from my Mom's blog. Here she is, having sweet-talked yet another complete stranger into giving her a ride to the playground. As many of you know, Mom dropped out of the rat race years ago. So far (never mind bankruptcy & a double mastectomy) she hasn't had to look back... as long as she keeps busy looking skyward.

Book recommendation: I don't usually understand sarcastic wit or cynicism, but Jean-Dominique Bauby's The Diving Bell and The Butterfly really touched me. Read the book in one night, or take the time to appreciate Bauby's thoughtful prose, one or two mini-chapters a day. (I haven't yet seen the movie. Have you?)

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Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this French word story. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next letter, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving these posts. Your support is vivement apprécié. Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’m a high school French teacher, and I love how your blog gives me everyday vocabulary and glimpses of French character and tradition. Your gentle expression of your faith and rare transparency of emotion inspire me."
--Melanie


la routine

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All photos © Kristin Espinasse

Come harvest time, this old wagon is an important part of la routine for a certain Cécilién* farmer. (*Cécilien, Cécilienne: resident of the village of Sainte Cécile-les-Vignes)

Jean-Marc's USA Wine Tour: If you are near Tampa on March 24th, you are very welcome to join Jean-Marc for one of his wine tastings. Have a look here for the list of cities where he will pour his wines, including his gold winner "Mistral".

Today's Word:
Because today's word (the title of our story...) is the same in English, we're going to turn the tables a bit, and look at the French definition this time. Following the definition, you'll be in for a treat: Tante Marie-Françoise is back with her second article in her series "Lettres de Ma Terrasse". Enjoy this edition and be sure to share it with a friend who loves France.

la routine
(lah roo-teen) noun, feminine
    : habitude prise de faire quelque chose toujours de la même manière
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Grape Wagon Cinéma Vérité: For fans of French Word-A-Day, or for those of you who simply enjoy a regular visit to this word journal -- whether to learn a phrase, see a picture, or read the stories on French life -- you might just love the weekend photo edition of this blog: "Cinéma Vérité" is your gift when you help support this French word journal, now in its seventh year -- and still free! Find out how to contribute, here.



Lettres de ma Terrasse
"La Routine"

Toutes les maisons de la rue du quartier ont la même architecture : un escalier latéral de quatre ou cinq marches fait accéder à un petit perron devant la porte d'entrée. Les maisons sont donc légèrement surélevées parce qu'en sous-sol il y a une cave antique souvent creusée dans la roche. Autrefois c'est là que l'on faisait le vin, sous la salle à manger! On entre encore dans ce réduit par une minuscule porte au ras de la rue, gymnastique garantie!

Sur les petits perrons il y a une grille de protection et c'est une tradition de la garnir de quelques plantes fleuries. Ces plantations modestes, le plus souvent des géraniums, sont l'occasion de conversations anodines entre voisins... comme on va le voir!

C'est l'été, les personnes âgées, on le sait, se lèvent tôt... et encore plus tôt à la belle saison quand le soleil et les oiseaux sont eux aussi très matinaux.

Ma fille Audrey, alors 10 ans, est en vacances et n'a aucune raison de se lever aux aurores. Un matin, mon café tout juste avalé, je la vois descendre de l'étage des chambres la mine renfrognée. Je m'intrigue et la questionne sur la raison de ce réveil matinal.

"Mais, Maman, tu n'as pas entendu les voisines?"
"Si, je sais bien que tous les matins elles balayent leurs escaliers puis y jettent un seau d'eau."
"Mais tu vas voir qu'elles vont encore se raconter la même rengaine pour leurs fleurs."
"Ah bon, je n'ai pas remarqué..."

Nous faisons silence et, de fait, les deux mamies voisines engagent dans le parler local une conversation d'un trottoir à l'autre.

"Dites, Françoise, mes fleurs? ... je les ai arrosées hier... c'est pas la peine que je les arrose aujourd'hui quand même... parce que... bon... si je les avais pas arrosées hier... je les arroserais aujourd'hui... mais comme je les ai arrosées hier...."

"Eh oui, Lucienne, moi je les ai pas arrosées hier, c'est pour ça que je les arrose aujourd'hui... mais demain, ...moi... je les arroserai pas.

Tu as entendu! s'énerve Audrey, elles se posent la même question tous les matins et je suis sûre que demain c'est Françoise qui demandera à Lucienne s'il faut arroser ou non les fleurs!

Pour cacher mon fou-rire, je pars faire chauffer du lait; j'apporte le beurre et des tartines de pain tout juste grillé. Je lance:

"Dites, Audrey, vos tartines, je les ai beurrées hier... c'est pas la peine que je les beurre aujourd'hui quand même... parce que... bon...

Un grand sourire éclaire enfin le visage de ma chérie; elle m'embrasse puis s'installe devant le bol fumant.

"Quelquefois la routine a du bon ma chérie!"

*     *     *

Check back on Wednesday for the English translation of this story! Meantime, please leave a note for Marie-Françoise in the comments box -- letting her know how you enjoyed her story. I'll be sending her the link so that she can enjoy your words!

Enjoy "Planter le Décor", Marie-Françoise's last story, here.

Update! Mille mercis to Divya, Jacqui, Ally, and Leslie (and anyone I might have missed) for translating Marie-Françoise's story. You'll find their versions (in American and English) in the "routine" and "anodin" comments boxes!


Today's Photo & Question:

Jackie sainte cecile spectacle serignan goult 001
In the town of Orange: Red-n-Yellow: French façade & matching flowers

Question: Is your outfit matching or clashing today and do you even care?
Share your story in the comments box.

My answer: currently, I am matching (in non-color: beige, black, white...) though I was seriously clashing over the weekend when, at my son's basketball game in Tarascon, I noticed the other women's shoes: heels and poiny toes, black all around! Meantime, I wore gray tennis shoes* with pink stripes, and black patterned (!!!) socks. I know better, but I also now know that weekends are for relaxing, for breaking the rules, and for not taking yourself--and fashion--too seriously. There is a time and a place for everything and it was time to focus on my son and be an (ableit mismatched) cheerleader.

PS: those shoes were a 2003 Christmas gift from Jean-Marc. At the time, I thought they were the dorkiest shoes that I had ever seen. I put them in the back of the closet and forgot about them... until one day I needed shoes. Now I wear them almost daily. "Dork" to me now is someone with an attitude: ungrateful, self-important, or plain 'ol stubborn.

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this French word story. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next letter, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving these posts. Your support is vivement apprécié. Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’m a high school French teacher, and I love how your blog gives me everyday vocabulary and glimpses of French character and tradition. Your gentle expression of your faith and rare transparency of emotion inspire me."
--Melanie


secourir

Serre Chevalier 121
A culprit of a cadran. More in today's story.... PS: Over a dozen photos, like this one from our trip, will be posted this weekend over at Cinéma Vérité. More about the new weekend photo supplement here.

Cracking the SAT French Subject Test, 2009-2010 Edition
"Hide This French Book" is (ooh, là là) an uncensored language guide...

secourir (seuh-kor-reer) verb
       : to help, aid
       : to rescue

Verb conjugation of secourir:
je secours, tu secours, il secourt, nous secourons, vous secourez, ils secourent (past participle: secouru)

Audio File: coming soon...

We've featured the French word "secours" and learned many examples, in a past edition that was illustrated by a story. Today, we focus on the verb secourir -- because actions continue to speak louder than words...
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A_day_in_a_french_life

"Trial by Tire" (Part Three: Final Chapter)
click here for previous chapter

It took me several moments to believe the predicament that our family of four suddenly found ourselves in: there, strapped into our car and all but teetering on a concrete slab that flanked some stairs leading down to the town hall...

Seconds before, the driver (Jean-Marc) and I had been focused on the picturesque sundial painted on a building en face. That is when our car, which had already engaged in a traffic roundabout, wandered a few fateful inches to the side of the road... and "stepped" off.

With a kerPLUNK and a POP! the car came to an abrupt halt... having driven over the concrete slab that separated the road that we had been on from an escalier!

Calm came over the car, but was quickly chased out the window by its foe, PANIC!

"C'est pas vrai! C'EST PAS VRAI!!!" my son complained. "On a crevé un pneu! On a crevé un pneu!!!

I don't know what struck me more: the fact that our car was stuck in a stairwell ...or my son's noisy reaction to that fact. Just where, I wondered, did all that panic and impatience come from? ...Did he learn it from me?

Once again, I was reading too much into things. "He's just worried about missing the snowboard lesson (an hour from now)," Jean-Marc pointed out.

We all got out of the car, and Jean-Marc went to work assessing the damage -- and a plan of action!

Little by little, the quiet village came to life. A retired couple stopped, and the man came over to have a look at our flat tire (the flat was only one of two predicaments, the second being the placement of the flat: on the other side of the barrier!).

The man searched for a big rock and set it in front of the tire, but when Jean-Marc attempted to back up the car... that giant rock spit right out from beneath the tire... missing my head by about two feet!

Thereafter, I joined the kids at the bottom of the stairwell and watched as more help arrived. A woman appeared out of nowhere... in time to share a friendly nod of encouragement: "Ce n'est qu'une voiture. It's only a car!"

Two other men stopped to help free the tire that had hooked itself over the cement guardrail. When a  third man arrived on the scene, the trio attempted to lift the front end of the car... to no avail.

Serre Chevalier 128

When Max continued to worry about missing his snowboard lesson, I pointed out the Alpine Angels that were working on our car.

"You know, they might have been heading out to the ski slopes, too! But they've taken the time to stop and help us. Isn't that kind of them? Would we have done the same?" The idea initially silenced my son's complaints, and the three of us watched quietly -- but for another hiccup of impatience.

"I wonder where that guy was headed to?" I questioned the kids. "Do you think he'll be late for his appointment? Instead, he's changed his plans in order to assist a stranger. Isn't that wonderful? Aren't they all wonderful for being so flexible with their own schedules?"

Several steps above us the man in blue began stacking wood to the other side of the tire, the idea being to back up over the wood in time to "lift up" over the concrete barrier. Another man used a jack to hike up the car, while the third man changed our tire! 

Jean-Marc returned to the wheel to steer the car back over the barrier, level with the other tires. That's when the Alpine Angels almost disappeared -- but not before returning all of the materials that they had "borrowed" (the wood was returned to the wood pile, the rocks, to a nearby garden) "Wait a minute," we called out, in time for Jean-Marc to hand each man a bottle of wine from a case we had been transporting in the back of our car.

And, just like that, the Alpine Angels disappeared, having gifted us with what these days some consider to be a rarity: charity.
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The Comments Box is Where It's Happening!

Comments, corrections--and stories of your own--always welcome in the comments box. Miss yesterday's brawl? (Jules got a little testy!) Plus: lots of great vocab help. Hmmm. Wonder what we'll learn today?! PS: don't forget to answer the question at the end of this letter.


*     *     *
Mistletoe?
Is this mistletoe? By the way... today's question:

Question: Who is the last person you kissed and why? Share about your last smack, in the comments box. (Here's my answer: last person kissed: my daughter (this morning at the breakfast table). Why? For being brave about sleeping in her room all night (and not coming to wake me up at the first gust of wind that rattled her window shutters... and her scarey bone)!

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this French word story. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next letter, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving these posts. Your support is vivement apprécié. Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’m a high school French teacher, and I love how your blog gives me everyday vocabulary and glimpses of French character and tradition. Your gentle expression of your faith and rare transparency of emotion inspire me."
--Melanie


crever

Serre Chevalier 049
All photos © Kristin Espinasse

NEW!
When you support French Word-A-Day with a gift of $30 or more, you will receive access to Kristin's online photo journal "Cinéma Vérité".

Enjoy this weekend photo supplement, updated each Saturday with high-resolution photos of some of Kristin's favorite French villages. You will also learn the very personal meaning behind Cinéma Vérité, via a story regarding Kristin's writer beginnings. Read it in this Saturday's debut edition!

Click here to begin supporting this free word journal and to see today's photo at its high-resolution, printable best!
 
Note: French Word-A-Day continues to be a free service, with the same format (an illustrative photo at the top of every post). Enjoy!

crever (kreuh-vay) verb

    : to burst, split; to break
   
Also: crevé(e) = exhausted
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Audio File: listen to Jean-Marc read the following expressions and pronounce the verb conjugations to the French verb crever Download MP3  Download Wav

crever un pneu = to flatten a tire
crever de faim = to be starving
crever d'ennui = to be bored to death

je crève, tu crèves, il crève, nous crevons, vous crevez, ils crèvent

*Thanks for adding additional crever terms and meanings to the comments box. Merci d'avance!


A_day_in_a_french_life

(Note: for part one of this story, click here)

I happened to be staring at an ancient French cemetery (opposite Madame's chalet) when a little voice whispered to me, "Don't push your luck!"

There in the town of Le Rosier, I had been set free for 15 delicious minutes in time to capture one village's Alpine uniqueness. But Jean-Marc and the kids, who were waiting for me back at the village parking lot, needed to return to Serre Chevalier by noon, in time for snowboard lessons. The three had kindly devoted the morning to me, for this photographic-themed family outing (basically, the kids agreed to tag along and play in the snow, while I tip-toed up and down the icy streets snap-shooting; it was Jean-Marc's job to navigate).

Now feeling the pressure to finish up, I took one last photo of a faded flourish, just above an ordinary wooden door -- one that had been hastily replaced. The new style didn't match so well, but then isn't that part of the charm?

On the way back to the car, I passed the wise woman, who was still reading on her porch, and nodded "bonjour". That's when I stole a mental snapshot... to replace the image that I had not dared capture with my camera. Like that "Wise Woman Reading on Deck" will forever be burned into my memory.

Back at the parking lot, at the bottom of the village, I thanked Jean-Marc and the kids for waiting for me and for their patience. With that, we buckled ourselves into the car, and rode up the concrete ramp leading to the main road.

At the top of the ramp, there was an old lion-head fountain (water gushing from its fierce chops), beyond a picturesque building with yet another sundial.

"Did you get that one (on film)?" Jean-Marc inquired, pointing to the colorful cadran.
Did I get that one on film? I, the roving photographer, did I get that one on film?!

And that is all it took... for a zillion zen-like thoughts, thoughts that I had wrangled into one primo philosophical treatise on Peace (just moments before while floating through town, psycho-babble in tow), yes, that is all it took for such noble "nuggets" to dissolve into pathetic pride -- in time for me to revert right back to my usual pre-teen wit:

"Duh!" I thought. "How could he think that I could have missed THAT one?"

Immediately I regreted the sarcastic, unfriendly pensée... but it was too late... for the Powers That Be had another plan for holier-than-thou me: TRIAL BY TIRE !

And, like that, all eyes on the sundial (the sundial that I had indeed photographed and not at all overlooked), the car inched over toward the ramp's edge.... and the next thing we heard was a very loud POP!

(Final chapter on Friday)

Serre Chevalier 050
photo © Kristin Espinasse

What are these two clinking to?  Time now to celebrate achievements: I'll begin: Tchin-tchin to Jean-Marc!, who won a gold medal for his Domaine Rouge-Bleu Mistral wine! and tchin-tchin to Jackie for winning a gold ribbon in Sunday's horse competition (the horse she chose was handicapped, with only one eye (the other permanantly stiched!). Your turn: who are you clinking to today? Say a toast, write a mini (or maxi!) tribute, to someone in your circle who has recently succeeded in something. Share it with us here, in the comments box, where we continue to get to know one another.

PS: View the above photo, in double-size, and a dozen more photos from the French Alps, and today's story, in the Cinéma Vérité photo blog. See the offer at the top of this letter.

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this French word story. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next letter, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving these posts. Your support is vivement apprécié. Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’m a high school French teacher, and I love how your blog gives me everyday vocabulary and glimpses of French character and tradition. Your gentle expression of your faith and rare transparency of emotion inspire me."
--Melanie


cadran

Nice & Serre Chevalier 029
A cadran solaire in Serre Chevalier. Thank you, "Newforest", for leaving a comment about this sundial:

"The inscription in Latin stresses our human condition: VULNERANT OMNES ULTIMA NECAT,
= Toutes (les heures) blessent, la dernière tue.
= All hours wound, the last one kills."


cadran (kah-drahn) noun, masculine
    : (clock) face, dial


Audio File: Listen to the French word cadran, hear the following phrases:
Download MP3
* Download Wav

le cadran solaire = sundial
faire le tour du cadran = to go right around the clock
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A_day_in_a_french_life
In the Alpine village of Le Rosier a wise woman sits soaking in the sun, its reflective rays lighting up the face of her centuries-old stone chalet... which slopes to the side of a winding country road, opposite the cemetery.

I slip by our heroine, camera in my hand--French fountains, sundials, façades on my mind, discretion my hymn. I have 15 minutes to photograph this town, minus Madame (privacy), while my husband and my children wait patiently for me back at la mairie.*

Before Madame, a cup of steaming coffee and a book dress a simple iron table parched for color by the passing of time; beyond, the snowy Alps glisten. I imagine myself in the woman's shoes (make that hiking boots) some twenty years down the timeline: existing peacefully in a petit village montagnard,* just around the corner from the free-flowing fountain. Perhaps after a life of keeping up with the Joneses, this woman is now keeping quiet with the country cows: living finally, simply, in the here and now.

About two meters above the woman's head, a 19th-century cadran solaire* is painted on the façade: its fading face a reminder that not only man-made things--but also Time--eventually disappear into eternity. The previous thought has me matching up words: man/futility... nature/eternity. I think about my picture-taking hobby and what it means to me. Far from feeling disconcerted, I am inspired to enjoy "right here, right now" ... never mind that the photos that I am taking will go the way of the fading sundial: No! it is the hunting and the discovery of images that fuels the soul -- and not the collecting of them: the first is action (read: aliveness!), the second (collecting) is passive and "piling up" and the "up" part brings me back to those Joneses  -- whom I'm trying to stay a millenium away from. Indeed, the only thing I want to keep up with anymore is the laundry (I might have said "my dreams" and I'm sure my mom will have her say about that! "Laundry? Forget the laundry! Go out and play!" And so I am trying to...)

Enough philosophy, which, along with good intentions, has that "passive" quality. It's all fine and well to wise up -- and one can wax evangelic till the cows come home. But sooner or later "life" will intervene as life is wont to do just when "know it all you" thinks she has a clue about what is good and what is true. The bottom line is patience and isn't patience born of love? Stay tuned for part two of this story, where an almost enlightened expat... ends up with a flat and an unexpected piece of good luck.

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Comments, corrections, translations (for the French words in this post....) always welcome in the comments box. Merci d'avance! PS: while you're there, don't forget to answer the photo-du-jour question at the end of this edition...

Shopping:

French Clockmaker sign : a reproduction of an old French merchant's sign

Bonne Maman Strawberry Preserves : made with no colorings, artificial preservatives, pulps, purees, juices or concentrates.

In French Music: "Au sourire de l'âme" by Pep's (recommended by my son, Max)


Photo du Jour (see the question, below)

IMG_6097
Today's question: When's the last time you ordered take-out and from where? Tell us about it, here, in the comments box. (photo: A take-out joint in Marseilles)


Recommended album "Liberta" by Pep's (my son Max's favorite): from the clip, below.
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Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this French word story. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next letter, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving these posts. Your support is vivement apprécié. Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’m a high school French teacher, and I love how your blog gives me everyday vocabulary and glimpses of French character and tradition. Your gentle expression of your faith and rare transparency of emotion inspire me."
--Melanie


Best way to sign off or end an email in French: How to say "goodbye" or "cheers" or "sincerely"?

Petanque
A shopfront in Le Panier--a quartier in Marseilles that one never wants to quitter.

TODAY'S WORD: QUITTER

  1. to leave, to quit
  2. to give up, vacate, forsake
  3. to exit


LISTEN:
Hear Jean-Marc pronounce today's quote: Download wav

  Il faut se quitter souvent pour s'aimer toujours.
  We must leave each other often in order to love each other forever.


A Day in a French Life
  
    by Kristin Espinasse


I am fascinated with farewells (of the e-mail kind) when I'm not downright fussing over how to end my own courriels. Signing off after even the briefest note is cause for over-reflection, and I sometimes stare for minutes at the blank screen before relying on the same old (boring?) standby:

Amicalement,
Kristin

While gros bisous still sounds a little too intimate, I ask myself if tchao--something I love the sound and French spelling of--isn't a bit hip or sort of pretentious sounding (tchao darling!)? Oh well, I never know, but I am game to try all of the farewells noted below.  I hope you will too!


Ways to sign-off or say goodbye in French:

à bientôt = (see) you soon
à très bientôt = (see) you real soon
adieu = goodbye (forever)
affectueusement = affectionately (love)
à la prochaine = until next time
à tout à l'heure = toodeloo
amicalement = (literally: "in a friendly way") yours, best wishes, regards
amitiés = (amitié = friendship) yours, best wishes, regards
amitiés sincères = sincere regards
à plus (or "à+" or "@+") = later
au plaisir = with the pleasure of seeing you again
au revoir = goodbye
avec toute mon amitié = with all my friendship
bien à toi = yours
bien à vous = yours

bien affectueusement = yours affectionately
bien amicalement = best wishes
bien amicalement à vous = best wishes to you
bien cordialement = warmly
bien des choses à tous = best to all
bien/très respectueusement = with much respect
bisous = kisses

bisous à tous = kisses to all
bonne continuation = keep up the good work
bonne journée = have a nice day
bons baisers = big kisses
cordialement = cordially
d'un (d'une) ami(e) = from a friend
encore merci = thanks again
grosse bise = big kiss
gros bisous = big kisses

je serai toujours là pour vous = I'll always be there for you
je t'embrasse (je vous embrasse) = big kiss, with love
je t'embrasse très fort = great big kiss, with lots of love
meilleures salutations = best salutations
meilleurs sentiments = best wishes
merci = thanks
mes amitiés = my best wishes, my best regards
mes salutations respectueuses = yours faithfully
mille baisers = a thousand kisses
plein de baisers = lots of kisses
salut = bye
salutations = salutations
salutations distinguées = distinguished salutations
tchao (also à tchao!) = ciao, bye
tendresse = fondly
tiens bon (tenez bon) = take care, hang in there
ton ami(e) = your friend
toute mon amitié = very best wishes
très cordiales salutations = warm salutations
votre ami(e) = your friend

...and last, but not least:
Ciao for niao... a bit misspelled--but it rhymes!
Kristin
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Il faut se quitter souvent pour s'aimer toujours.
You need to leave each other often to love each other forever.

Autumn in Lyon (c) Kristin Espinasse
Autumn in Lyon. All photos (c) Kristin Espinasse unless otherwise noted.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Expressions~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

ne quittez pas = hold the line, hold on (when telephoning)
quitter le deuil = to come out of mourning
quitter la partie = to give up, to throw in the towel

Verb conjugation: je quitte, tu quittes, il/elle quitte, nous quittons, vous quittez, ils/elles quittent; past participle: quitté

Cat in Vacqueras (c) Kristin Espinasse

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this French word story. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next letter, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving these posts. Your support is vivement apprécié. Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’m a high school French teacher, and I love how your blog gives me everyday vocabulary and glimpses of French character and tradition. Your gentle expression of your faith and rare transparency of emotion inspire me."
--Melanie