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Entries from July 2009

poursuivre

Camaret (c) Kristin Espinasse
The iron campanile in Camaret-sur-Aygues, where the following drama takes place....


poursuivre
(poor-sweevre)

to chase



In the town of Camaret-sur-Aygues, we had found good seats beneath the shady platane at an outdoor café when our luck took a swift turn for the worse.

Our five-month-old chiot, Braise, had curled up beneath the table, her leash attached to the leg of a bistro chair, when our son rose from the same chair, announcing that he and his sister were off to play in the vieux village behind the café.

Our golden retriever's ear trembled as she listened to the kids' voices trail off down the street. Curious, she shot up and set out to follow the children's laughter. But as she advanced, so did the chair to which she was attached!

The grating sound of the chair dragging against the stone path soon distracted our pup. Turning to discover the source of the noise, she was startled to find herself pursued by a screeching four-legged alien!

Braise's eyes shot open as she peeled out of that terrace café, the bistro chair flying off—bumpity-bump-bump—with her! The scene might have been comical if it hadn't been cloaked in what looked to be impending doom.

Braise swung left along la grand-rue, entering the town's ramparts, and continued full throttle down the pedestrian walkway. In vain, she fled the bouncing bistro chair, screaming bloody murder as only a dog can: in a gargle of excited barks. The commotion resonated throughout the town as Braise and the chair rocketed down the narrow street. Windows flew open as villagers poked their heads out of their homes to find out what the racket was about. 

Terrorized by her screeching and bouncing pursuer, Braise tried desperately to outrun the chair monster, but the faster she ran, the faster it followed, menacing and angry in her tracks.

In a panic, I chased after our puppy, screaming her name. When Braise was halfway down the street, the leash snapped and the chair fell away, spinning on its side to a full stop. Braise didn't look back but turned on her paws and headed, full steam, back to  the terrace café and to the busy street beside it!

It was when she rounded the corner, at record speed, that I heard the screech of tires.... 

BRAISE!!! I screamed. BRAISE... With my heart in my throat I raced around the corner. It was her tail that I saw first...

Her lovely wagging tail! Next I saw the sparkle in my husband's eyes, lucky stars of thanks that our dog had stopped just short of the oncoming car. Braise, elle l'a échappé belle.


***
Click here to suggest edits for story! Thanks for your comments and suggestions.



French Vocabulary

le platane = plane tree
le chiot = puppy
vieux = old
la grand-rue = main street
l'échapper belle
= to have a narrow escape (and avoid an accident)


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


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


degouliner

Dragonfly (c) Kristin Espinasse
If you are lucky enough to have wings, then fly. If you're lucky enough to have feet, then dance! (Thank you, Francie, for the dance link. More dancing in today's story....) Photo of une libellule, clinging to a pot of geraniums, taken last week.


dégouliner (day goo lee nay) verb

    : to trickle, to drip (with sweat)

Audio File:
(note: my 14-year-old son was half asleep when we recorded the following words.... don't miss it, Download this file)

je dégouline, tu dégoulines, il dégouline, nous dégoulinons, vous dégoulinez, ils dégoulinent => past participle = dégouliné

Le chercheur Michael Sawka peut prédire si, après un exercice physique, vous allez dégouliner de sueur ou rester frais (ou fraîche) comme une fleur. --from Courrier International

Thank you for helping to translate the example sentence in the comments box.
. 

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

Another cultural difference qui m'a frappée* when I first made it to France, was dance.

That is, I had never seen women dance with women before. Growing up, I was used to dancing with boys, boys with restless hand syndrome. French men have "travelling hands" too and, to get around those, French women simply dance around the men. Perhaps this gives them the appearance of dancing with each other, that is, with other women.

I'm not sure what the answer is... only that those French women are sharp, or sharp-footed. And so I watch, and do as they do.

That is how I found myself out there on the dance floor last Saturday night. Friends Sophie and Nicolas had their annual summer bash, a day-long feast that finishes sur la piste.* (Which, come to think of it, leads me to another hypothesis: maybe those French women aren't avoiding "travelling hands" after all... but are simply working off all the calories from the "bloating" buffet? Kind of like aerobic dance, back home--where women do indeed dance together, or side-by-side.)

Either hypothesis works well for me (especially after some of the men have drunk one too many or un de trop and are forgetting to dance with their own former brides; best to dance around those guys). And so it is that I find myself dancing with the wives.

Everything is going well, and I am amazed at how unawkward I feel; that is... until the hostess brings out another tray of food. And if there is one thing the French love more than the physical, it is the food cycle.

Just like that, the dance floor empties in a flash. By the time I realize what has happened, it's too late. Re the current predicament: I don't know what is awkward: the situation or the song.

The situation is that we are solo on the dance floor, just she and me.
And the song, of all songs is... well, you'll have to see this one for yourself ....

(note: if you are reading this via email, you will need to click over to the blog to watch the video "Voulez-Vous Coucher Avec Moi?" by Patti Labelle... with Raphael. Do not miss it!

* *

Post note: I have, once again, forgotten to plug the word of the day into the story (the word being "dégouliner" or "to trickle". But trust me, I did sweat this one out, dancing until the very getcha getcha ya ya da da END of the song. Like any dancer worth her salt (dégoulinant* à gogo...) I practiced the ol' show biz mantra: le spectacle doit continuer!* And what a spectacle.
.

***
Comments, corrections--and stories of your own--are welcome and appreciated in the comments box.

~~~~~~~~~~~~French Vocabulary~~~~~~~~~
qui m'a frappée = that struck me; sur la piste (de dance) = on the dance floor; dégoulinant à gogo = trickling à gogo; le spectacle doit continuer! = the show must go on


More of that libellule: click to enlarge this photo
libellule (c) Kristin Espinasse

Shopping:

Instant Immersion French Deluxe
In French products: Caudalie Lip Conditioner hydrates and repairs dry, damaged lips with a powerful blend of antioxidants and nutrients.
Histoire de Melody Nelson Serge Gainsbourg

Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France ... speaking of lessons, I will be joining three more authors at the American Library in Paris, to talk about "fish out of water experiences" living in la belle 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


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


gradins

DSC_0005
I don't have a photo for you of les gradins, or bleachers, in Nimes. I hope this "seat" will be a good stand-in. More about Gallic gradins in the story column, below. (Update: we now have photos of the gradins (see story column and mille mercis to Michaelpatrick Callahan for his photos of the Nimes arena).

les gradins (lah grah-dahn) noun, masculine, plural

    : bleachers.

Audio File: Download MP3 file

Les gradins à Nimes ont tremblé pendant le concert.
The bleachers in Nimes trembled during the concert.

.

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

Les gradins... we call them bleachers, back where I come from. And back where I come from the "gradins" are placed in a field -- and not within a two-thousand-years old stone arène.*

Arene (c) Michaelpatrick Callahan
photo (c) Michaelpatrick Callahan


Just when I think I am the only one impressed by this fact, the man seated next to me (my husband) exclaims: c'est impressionnant: deux mille ans!*

Another impressive thing, according to our friend Bernard is that for 5000 seats the concert organizers have calculated only 10 porta-potties!

Waiting patiently in line with the men, I notice a remarkable contrast: the modern porta-potties are lined up within an ancient stone alcove. They look as out of place as horse-drawn carriages on an autobahn.

"That's just on this side of the arena," I argue, figuring there must be more toilets on the other side.
"Then make that 20 for 5000," Bernard replies, adjusting his calculations, and I think about how it's both fun and funny to listen to a Frenchman point out the peculiarities of his own country.

*   *   *

Will it be "The Virgins" or "The Ting Tings," I wonder, when the second band walks onto the stage. I have never heard of either one. For that matter, I haven't heard of Franz Ferdinand, for whom to see we travelled to Nimes.  I guess that makes me officially middle-aged if I can't keep up with the music scene. On second thought, that's an unfair statement: just because I can't keep up with the music, doesn't mean my contemporaries aren't on top of things. Looking around, there are a fair number of people my age, and beyond.

Speaking of age... my eyes focus on the child seated in front of me. He couldn't be more than 8 years old. What's he doing at a rock concert, I wonder? He is seated beside his middle-aged mother. The tendresse and the fragility of the two is so palpable it hurts. What is she doing at a rock concert? Once again I am judging things... when the reality is: nothing is as it seems.

A young woman lights a cigarette and the boy, seated beside her, seems bothered. He discreetly lifts the hood on his gilet* and covers his face. Finally, his mother switches seats, so that she might breathe in the smoke, in place of her son.

Another young couple is seated side by side, but existing in two different worlds (neither here nor there):  They are texting friends on Facebook. I begin to feel smug about just how present I, myself, am, in time to enjoy the here and now in this amazing Roman arena on a mild, midsummer night. Only, my sage self-image is shot when Jean-Marc points to his iPhone screen, which is showing the Google search results. "It's The Ting Tings" he replies, after I have asked him to identify the band that we are currently watching. I guess I am just as plugged-in to technology as the others. I am dependent on Google search.

Next, the speakers blast. The sound is so startling, so mind-numbing, that I begin to think about mes oreilles.* If my eardrums are vibrating... just think about that little boy's eardrums. At least he has his hood on. I notice that some people have thought to plug their ears with les boules Quies.* Smart.

Gradins (c) Michaelpatrick Callahan
photo (c) Michaelpatrick Callahan

When the band finishes, the audience begins to stomp their feet making the bleachers tremble... and creak. It occurs to me that things can and do collapse and that we are more fragile than we like to think. As I once told a friend, as he raced to reach the French Alps in time (in time for what? in time to arrive faster?): On n'est pas immortel!* (I was pregnant at the time, the time which corresponds to just when my incessant worrying began.)

I realize that I am worrying needlessly. Worrying is a sign of age. I'm afraid I'm getting old. No, I am not old. I still have friends twice my age. Now that's saying something, not that I can hear what the something that's being said is... what with all the noise!

I look at the fragile little boy in front of me and wonder, once again, what is he doing here? He looks so out of place. I turn around and notice the row of young women seated behind me. I imagine they are thinking the same of me: she looks so out of place!

If I had the guts to talk to the girls, I might assure them that more than out of place, I feel out of time. Those millenia-old stone walls, they're whispering my name... while 21st Century speakers scream "baby."

***

Post note: more and more, my motto is: if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. And so I spent the rest of the concert "banging" my head against the invisible wall before me, in beat, in rhythm, and rockin' with the best of them. The concert was amazing! Many thanks to friends Cari & Pierre Casanova for getting us tickets!

Comments, corrections--and stories of your own--are welcome and appreciated in the comments box.

See a 5 minute video from the concert. (If you are viewing this edition via email, you will need to click over to the blog to view the clip.)

~~~~~~~~~~~~French Vocabulary~~~~~~~~~~
les arènes (de Nîmes)
= the amphitheater, coliseum; deux mille ans (m) = two thousand years; le gilet (m) = sweatshirt; une oreille (f) = ear; les boules Quies (fpl) = ear plugs; on n'est pas immortels! = we are not immortal!

DSC_0012

At the superette in our village, I saw this charming advertisement for a bed-and-breakfast.

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


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


False friends - faux amis in French

French Window (c) Kristin Espinasse
No, the street light and the window are not false friends, but keep each other quiet company on a lazy midsummer day in the South of France.


les faux amis (lay fowz ah mee)

    : "false friends" or words that look alike... but have different meanings

.
Audio File & Example sentence:
Listen to my daughter Jackie, her friend Manu, and me... pronounce these French words: Download MP3 file

Les Faux Amis!
Dans la vie, la plupart de nos amis sont des vrais amis, mais c'est les faux amis qui nous déçoivent. In life, most of our friends are true friends, but it's the false friends who deceive us. --Tim Averill

*   *   *

On Wednesday I told you about my very *spéciale* family... and a certain faux amis that was rendering them insane  ... en tout cas* to the French.

I was inspired to write that story after Tim Averill (whom we met in Gary's pétanque post) shared with me a list of faux amis.

Tim is here today ("here" in a very façon de parler*/manner-of-speaking way, for Tim is currently in Massachusetts--but more about Tim in the bio below)... as I was saying, Tim is here (sort of... à peu près*) to share his list of faux amis with you. Enjoy it, share it, and help grow it by adding to Tim's list of "false friends"!

Tim's List of Faux Amis

Faux amis are cognates that are deceptive because they do not have the same meaning in English and in French, even though they have the same or very similar orthography. Have a look at these:


sensible = sensitive (français*) wise and pragmatic (anglais*)

location = rental (fr) place (ang)

affair(e) = business (fr) sexual infidelity (ang)

vase = mud, silt (fr) container (ang)

versatile = fickle (fr) multi talented (ang)

blesser = injure/wound (fr) bless (ang)

chair = flesh (fr) seat (ang)

college = lycée (fr) university (eng)

 
Tim adds: Dans la vie, la plupart de nos amis sont des vrais amis, mais c'est les faux amis qui nous déçoivent. C'est la même chose entre les langues :-)


***

Tim Averill is a teacher at "Ecole Bilingue de Beverly," also known as Waring School. He first spent a year in France in 1967-68 at "L'Universite de Bordeaux," and is an avid francophile. Both personally and professionally, he enjoys travels in France. Waring School has an annual exchange with Lycée David D'Angers and Tim and his artist wife Lauren travel to Provence as frequently as possible. The highlight of Tim's most recent trip was a visit to Domaine Rouge-Bleu and the chance to taste the wines of Jean Marc and to meet Kristin.

*   *   *

Please join me in thanking Tim for this faux amis edition by leaving a note in the comments box. You might share a faux amis not listed here, or share a story about a false friend fiasco of your own (for example: how many of us health-conscious Francophiles have made the "préservatif"* language gaffe? ...blabbing on and on to our eyes-wide interlocutors about how we are minding our menus... by eliminating condoms from them? Yikes! I am so glad I got that mistake over with right off le bât.* (For the record, it is "conservateurs" we must watch out for, else we watch, in humble-pie I could just die horror, as the French stare back with smirks on their faces.)

Chow,*
Kristin
*looks as though Italian might have its share of false friends, too (dog/food/goodbye?) ...never mind my spelling.

~~~~~~~~~French Vocabulary~~~~~~~~
en tout cas
= in any case; façon de parler = so to speak; à peu près = almost, more or less; le français (m) = French; l'anglais (m) = English; le bât (m) = packsaddle

 

photo (c) Kristin Espinasse
Forget faux amis for a moment and enjoy these true friends from Villedieu.

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


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


barjot

DSC_0144
Domestic Gist. It has taken me years to understand the art of homemaking. I'm not there yet--loin de là--but, in bites, little by little, I am beginning to "get" the domestic gist of bucolic bliss. In today's picture: another spent sunflower from the garden (I harvested the seeds for sowing next spring); homegrown tomatoes, too! The blue Portuguese tile fits into a beautiful bread board that friends Annabelle and Bill gave me: useful, practical, beautiful. 

barjot (bar-zhoh) adjective

    nuts, crazy

noun: nutcase

une bande de barjots = a bunch of nutcases

Interesting word history: the French word "barjo(t)" comes from the verlan "jobard".

Audio File and Example Sentence: Download MP3 for "barjot"

Une bande de barjots est partie sauter à l'élastique.
A group of crazies left to go bungee jumping.

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

Faux Amis... and Loopy Friends & Family

My first year in France I ran around telling everyone that my friends and my family back home were nuts! I hadn't meant to call them crazy, didn't intend to imply or insinuate insanity. No, I had no idea that the compliments I was lavishing on my loved ones were translating themselves into mean morsels of mental illness, no thanks to a single, misused mot.*

"Oh, then there's my grandma," I'd gush, in conversation with the French. "Elle est vraiement SPECIALE!" I would insist, only to notice the confused looks on the interlocutors' faces. Turns out I was telling my audience that grandma had a screw loose.

I continued to put my foot into my newly formed French mouth with doozies such as:

"My best friend? Oh, I met her in 10th grade." With a nostalgic look and a sentimental smile, I would then tack on that confusing-to-the-French English qualifier, "special":
"Yes, she is special," I'd sigh. Only, this is what French ears were hearing me say:
"Yes, she really isn't dealing with a full deck!"

The misunderstandings continued as I bragged on and on about my "batty" family. I loved to talk to the French about my soeur aînée,* whom I admire for her beauty, her coolness, and her intelligence. "She is really A CASE!" I'd boast to the French, proud (it seemed) to share the same peculiar genes.

My poor parents were not spared of the "out there" accolades, either, as I bragged on and on about my "dingue* Dad" and "mad mother". At least that's what they must have sounded like to the French, who were literally taking my word for it!

No confusing conversation would be complete without praise for my French teacher, Madame Wollam, the one whose encouragement would change the course of my life. Mist in my eyes, I'd proceed to eulogize her as "such an odd duck, that one!"

What with peculiar parents, odd aunts, fruity friends, taré* teachers, nutty neighbors, and a goofy grandma... the French surely suspected I was a chip off the ol' block, born out of the batty bunch back home that I proudly claimed as my own.

Whether kooky, batty, bonkers, or nuts...
loco, dotty, cracked, or bats...
fruity, daft, or mad...

I was unwittingly painting quite a portrait of my "precious ones" on the other side of the pond* or, rather "over the cuckoo's nest"?

There is no moral to this story, only a cautionary note: no matter how lovely your friends and your family are, no matter how sweet... never say they're "special" lest the French misunderstand them to be crazy, fresh out of a padded cell.
.

***
Comments, corrections--and stories of your own--always welcome and appreciated in the comments box. Be sure to tell us about your own embarrassing language gaffes and misunderstandings.

***
And speaking of family... you might enjoy Anne Morddel's French genealogy blog. Qui sait? Maybe you have some eccentric French family of your own? 


~~~~~~~~~~French Vocabulary~~~~~~~~~~
le mot (m) = word; la soeur (f) aînée = older sister, dingue = crazy; taré = completely crazy; pond = synonym for Atlantic Ocean


*     *     *
Currently listening to....

Paris to Cuba Paris to Cuba by Mario Grigorov.

...music that immediately evokes an aural landscape, a narrative of striking up a wandering romance with a stranger, a paseo through Plaza Vieja or a sunset on the Seine. Lilting, sensual brass sections flirt with gentle vocals on "I See" , "Every Little Moment" , and "Snake Eyes" - the three tracks which feature singer, Melissa Newman. Blending hints of Pink Martini, Madelyn Peyroux and Buena Vista Social Club, the percussion section laps as a wave on an empty beach. It is easy for the listener to get lost in the guitar solos, mysterious accordion and nostalgic, sweeping strings. This is not your typical jazz or world record.

 

Upcoming events: I will be joining a panel of three other authors at the American Library in Paris. Four expats and authors discuss their fish-out-of-water experiences living in la belle 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


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


papillon

Le Papillon / The Butterfly (c) Kristin Espinasse
On the way back from the clothesline, freshly dried linens in my basket, I knelt down to discover these two beauties: one animal, one vegetable, both minuscule.

le papillon (pah-pee-yohn) noun, masculine

    : butterfly

l'effet papillon = the butterfly effect
.

Audio file: Listen to my son, Max, pronounce these French words: Download MP3

le papillon. l'effet papillon.

Prédictibilité :
le battement d'ailes d'un papillon au Brésil peut-il provoquer une tornade au Texas?
Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly's Wings in Brazil Set off a Tornado in Texas? (The famous title to a talk, on chaos theory, given by mathematician and meteorologist Edward Lorenz.)

.

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

Beauty and the Buck

At a roadside recycling center my son and I are tossing empty glass bottles into giant containers. This particular recycling island, located just across the street from our local supermarket, accepts only glass and paper. For plastic items, we use the yellow municipal bags provided by our local mairie,* which sends a collection truck by our farm every Wednesday.

I look over to the receptacles for paper, and notice a stack of magazines. Somebody has carefully set them aside, for a stranger's profit. And so, while Max continues to pitch the bottles, je profite* flipping through the stack of glossy fashion magazines.

The pages are in perfect condition, not like the revues one finds in a busy dentist's salle d'attente.* What a find! All the top French women's magazines figure into the pile. I recognize the famous faces on the couvertures*: there's the starlet of the season (the public can be fickle, second only to the star machine that creates these here-today-gone-tomorrow fresh faces. On another cover I see the French president's wife (former model, current French fascination). As for the other magazines, c'est du pareil au même*: more perfect faces, more "how to" headlines (how to look ten years younger, how to lose 2 kilos overnight, how to seduce a stock-broker).

I push the magazines back into place, before backing away from the pile of pretty faces. I do not want to get caught up in the advertising machine of trying to look forever like a teen.

"Take them!" the voice of Vanity murmurs to me. 30 euros worth of new revues! You can enjoy them on summer vacation. What a value!"

"It's no value," I argue back. "Talk about an emotional expense!" I thought about all those false needs--costly needs--created by the glossy ads and by the articles on ever-elusive aesthetics.

I pause to remember my first make-over at the cosmetics counter of a major department store. After the saleswoman applied le maquillage,* she stepped back to critique her work. "You look... younger!" she declared, before proposing to me over $50 worth of creams and hide-your-imperfections coverings. Re my new, "youthful" look... I didn't tell the make-up artist--but I was only 17 years old at the time.

My grandmother, on seeing my made-up face said, "Don't gild the lily," but her poetic opinion was lost on me ("gild" didn't figure into my vocabulary and I couldn't point out "lily" on a flower chart). I was so busy chasing beauty that I ran right past it as it danced in the fields beside me.

Looking back down at the glossy magazines, I realized that this pile of perfection, however free, is of no value, ultimately. Not if it costs a priceless peace of mind--one that has taken over two decades to find--ever since I listened to the beauty technician try to sell me youth, as a teen.


***
Comments, corrections--and stories of your own--are always welcome and enjoyed in the comments box.
.

~~~~~~~French Vocabulary~~~~~~~~
je profite (profiter) = I take advantange of...; la salle (f) d'attente = waiting room; la couverture (f) = cover; c'est du pareil au même = it's more of the same; le maquillage (m) = make-up


French Music Video: L'Effet Papillon by Bénabar
Note: if you are reading the emailed edition of this post, you may need to click over to the blog to see the French video. Don't miss it! (And if some of you would like to translate the song, thank you for sharing your work, here, in the comments box).

 

Si le battement d'aile d'un papillon quelque part au Cambodge
Déclenche sur un autre continent le plus violent des orages
Le choix de quelques uns dans un bureau occidental
Bouleverse des millions de destins surtout si le bureau est ovale

Il n'y a que le l'ours blanc qui s'étonne que sa banquise fonde
Ca ne surprend plus personne de notre côté du monde
Quand le financier s'enrhume ce sont les ouvriers qui toussent
C'est très loin la couche d'ozone mais c'est d'ici qu'on la perce

C'est l'effet papillon petites causes, grandes conséquences
Pourtant jolie comme expression, petites choses dégâts immenses

On l'appel retour de flamme ou théorie des dominos
Un murmure devient vacarme comme dit le proverbe à propos
Si au soleil tu t'endors, de biafine tu t'enduiras
Si tu met un claque au videur, courir très vite tu devras
Si on se gave au resto c'est un fait nous grossirons
Mais ça c'est l'effet cachalot, revenons à nos moutons (à nos papillons)

Allons faire un après midi aventure extra conjugal
Puis le coup de boule de son mari alors si ton nez te fait mal

C'est l'effet papillon c'est normal fallait pas te faire chopper
Si par contre t'as mal au front ça veut dire que c'est toi le mari trompé

Avec les baleines on fabrique du rouge à lèvres, des crèmes pour fille

Quand on achète ces cosmétiques c'est au harpon qu'on se maquille

Si tu fais la tournée des bars demain tu sais que tu auras du mal
Pour récupérer à 8h ton permis au tribunal

C'est l'effet papillon petites causes, grandes conséquences
Pourtant jolie comme expression, petites choses dégâts immenses

Le papillon s'envole
Le papillon s'envole
Tout bat de l'aile

Le papillon s'envole
Le papillon s'envole
Tout bat de l'aile

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
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--Candy T., California


Petanque

Noel
A convivial game of boules in the town of La Ciotat. All photos courtesy of Lou McClelland.

pétanque (peh-tank) noun, feminine

    : a game similar to boules (bowles), originating from the Mediterranean and played in the South of France (and elsewhere!)


Audio File & Example Sentence
Download MP3 file
Souvent, le jeu de pétanque est accompagné d'un verre de rosé.
Often, the game of petanque is accompanied by a glass of rose.
.

Pétanque and Passion for Vin

Today, guest author Gary McClelland (whom I told you about before...) talks about playing Pétanques with the locals. We had the chance to meet Gary and Tim (whom you'll soon read about in today's story) and their lovely wives, Lou and Lauren, at a wine-tasting here at our vineyard a few weeks back.  They all joined Jens and Vanita (and fils) from Denmark. Jean-Marc was a little late for the wine-tasting. Good thing he eventually showed up, for my Danish and American guests might've been stuck with me and my thé glacé .


Boules in La Ciotat
by Gary McClelland

Leaving Cassis after a pleasant day touring calanques,* eating fish at the port, and ambling on the rocky beach, we drove the vertiginous road over Cap Canille to La Ciotat.  Sliding into an open parking place, we were sandwiched between water and a beautiful boulodrome* shaded by plane, pine, and palm trees.  Tim and I keep our boules* in the car for such emergencies....


Strategy

We began a 1‐on‐1 game as our spouses amused themselves with a walk along the Mediterranean Sea. The locals occasionally watched, and one flashed me an approving thumbs up after my particularly good tir.* We asked Jean, warming up by himself, about local rules.  Saying it would be so much fun, he quickly had us in a 4‐on‐4 game with local players. 

Our team was Tim and Noel (both "point," trying to roll close to the cochon), and Jean and Gary (both "tir"). We worried we were in over our heads, but we didn’t embarrass ourselves in a competitive game in which the winning team would gagner* only one point each round. 

Tim, Noel, Jean

At times the up to 16 very‐similar looking boules arrayed around the cochon seemed overwhelming, but in this social game teammates give advice on strategy and aiming.  There was lots of friendly ribbing.  When René’s point shot zoomed past the target, she exclaimed, “C’est le TGV!”*    

Jean
(Jean measures carefully)

Boule The game of boules or pétanque (Provençal for “pied ancré”*) was invented in La Ciotat so for us it was like playing a pick‐up baseball game in Cooperstown. Our team trailed 8 to 9 when inadvertently one of their boules moved the cochon so that we now had the three closest boules. We only needed two more points to win and I still had my two boules.  I confidently anchored my feet in the circle and curled the first roll closer than any of the others.  A fine shot. Enjoying the moment and thinking of the thrill of hitting the game‐winning “home run,” I scanned the beautiful setting, the colorful veteran players in their Provençal shirts, and the expectant looks. Perhaps this motivated me to try a shot with too much panache or maybe it just slipped out of my hand, but the moment the boule left my hand, I knew it was wrong. 

Quelle horreur!” My ball glanced off one of theirs and knocked it closer than any of ours. Not only was my roll not the winning fifth point, but we lost all of our points. My teammates were stunned and I wanted to sink into the sea.

Our opponents won after several more rounds. Both teams posed for a photo and my expression was blank. Despite my horrible error they wanted us to play more but we had a long drive to our gîte,* so we had to decline.

“Then come another day,” Jean suggested. 
“What days do you play?” Tim asked.  Jean, with a look that expressed sympathy with our impoverished lives, replied, “tous les jours, bien sûr.”

Group
Gary, fourth from the left, and Tim, second from the left.


***
If you enjoyed Gary's story, thank you for letting him know. Why not leave him a message in the comments box? Also, feel free to share any pétanque vocabulary that isn't mentionned here. Thanks in advance!

***

Gary McClelland is a professor of psychology and marketing at the University of Colorado who became a francophile while spending a summer as a student in Paris in 1967.  He regularly visits Provence and built a boules court at his house in Boulder, CO, to practice. 

Data analysis, statistics? Do you sweat this kind of stuff? Thankfully there are part-time pétanquers here to spell it out for us. Check out Gary's book.


~~~~~~~~~~French Vocabulary~~~~~~~~~~
la calanque (f) = rocky inlet from the sea; un boulodrome (m) = a place (usually a dirt "terrain" where one plays pétanque; la boule (f) = heavy steel ball; tir = “fire or shot,” in this case, a shot hitting an opponent’s boule to knock it away from the target cochon; le cochon, literally “pig” but the colloquial name for the small target ball; gagner = to win; c'est le TGV! (TGV = train à grande vitesse) = It's the high-speed train!; pied ancré = meaning behind the Provençale word "pétanque" = =“anchored foot” because one cannot move one’s feet or stride while throwing; le gîte (m) = a self-catering rental apartment, home, or small cottage (oftentimes this is the guest-house of a local).


End

Shopping
Easy French Reader: A fun and easy new way to quickly acquire or enhance basic reading skills
In film:  Paris Je T'aime Paris I love You.
Refreshing mosterizing mist: vine therapy by Caudalie

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
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"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


mener a la baguette

DSC_0014
Cowering under the authority... of Time. Photo of les tournesols taken in our front yard.
.

mener à la baguette (meuh-nay ah-lah baa-get) expression

    : to boss around, to rule with a rod of iron (or with an iron hand or fist).

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce these French words:
Download MP3 file
Mener à la baguette. C'est sa femme qui le mène à la baguette.
To order around. It's his wife that bosses him around.
.

A Day in a French Life...

Role Reversal

Lately, I am having fun playing editor... and it only recently occurred to me that I might exercise some of this new-found authority -- and order some of these writers around! So when French Word-A-Day subscriber Gary recently proposed a story on Pétanque,* I could just feel my power-craving pea brain bubble with ideas on how to boss this latest pigiste* around.
.
"500 words max," I snapped, in my best imitation of Publishing Giantess.
"And send me a two-line bio!" I barked, with an "Ah, freelancers these days!" shrug and a "You really gotta spell things out!" shake of the head.
.
On receiving Gary's article, I might have made suffer the customary 3 - 6 months' response wait that I once had to endure ... back when I spent my days desperately sending out query letters to every magazine from "Jewish Woman" to "Home and Garden" to  "Car and Driver" (never mind my Evangelical roots, never mind that I have no green thumb, lead foot, or ink brain -- or so it seemed... by the lack of response that I was getting).
.
And I might've sent back a standard, pre-written rejection notice to Gary:  "Dear Writer, Thank you for your query. At this time we are unable to... "

...only, it occurred to me, I wouldn't then have the chance to "le mener à la baguette" or boss him around a bit!
.
As for being authoritarian, I might have held my newest freelancer to some sort of starched editorial calendar. "Pétanque! It is an essay on Pétanque that you are proposing?" Did you not follow publishing guidelines? Did you not read the last 6 years or 751 archived editions just to get a feel for this French word journal (or "Diary of a Ditzy, Displaced near the Drôme Desert Rat")?!" I might've illustrated my point, with some sort of dramatic editor meltdown in which I stub out my cigarette, stand up, yank off my editor's visor and throw it to the ground before pointing out the Exit sign over the door. Out! Get outta here! And take your Pétanque proposal with you!
.
Only, these days, it's not as if I had some sort of editorial calendar keeping me on track... à vrai dire,* I hardly know just what the theme will be... on the morning of publication. This current essay is oh so very case in point. I had set out to post Gary's article, and, instead, took a trip down Nostalgia lane. Re all those query letters and attempts at journal publication, I never did get that newspaper column that I had hoped for, never did become a regular contributor at (Name That Glossy Magazine). Instead, I set up shop here, in Cyberspace.
.
As I sit here, today, trying on my new editorial hat, thinking up more orders to shout at Gary, I fancy myself in charge of the glossy New Yorker or the "papery" Le Monde. But life has a way of leveling the newly-puffed ego, and I eventually got around to reading that bio that I asked Gary for...
.
That's when I learned that my imagined intern, my freshwater freelancer... is, in fact, author of a classic textbook on statistics. Yowch! (And, to think, I had debated sending Gary a "sample bio" just in case he didn't understand what a two-line biography was. (Kicking myself, kicking myself, kicking myself...)

*   *   *
Comments, corrections--and stories of your own--are always welcome and appreciated in the comments box.

Check back Friday for Gary's article on Pétanque... You'll meet partner-in-crime, Tim, and a few other characters, too! Meantime, won't you order some of our Domaine Rouge-Bleu Rosé (a favorite of Gary's and Tim's) to drink while enjoying a game of Pétanque? My husband (resident winemaker, whoop your behind boulist) always has a glass of "rosado" (Provençal for rosé? It's your guess!) when he plays.

In New York, order our rosé wine here:
Union Square Wines and Spirits, 140 Fourth Avenue, New York, NY. Tel : (212) 675-8100

For other locations, check here.

***

Words in a French Life Post note: In a funny twist of faith (et c'est le cas de le dire!*) a Jewish/Christian journal did eventually pay for one of my spiritual (or rather "spirited") vignettes. I was so excited at selling one of my first pieces of writing... that I overlooked the fact that the author's name, listed at the top of the article, was not my own (Zut! I had yet to see my name in print...). You can read the article, which became a chapter ("Attendre," To Wait For) in my book.

~~~~~~~~~French Vocabulary~~~~~~~~~~~~
la pétanque =
a game of bowls (boules) played in the South of France... and elsewhere!; le/la pigiste (m,f) = journalist; à vrai dire = to tell you the truth; et c'est le cas de le dire = and one could surely say that!; zut! = darn!

Shopping:
Language learning software
Music: Francis Cabrel
Film: Avenue Montaigne -- starring Cécile De France
Nutella

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


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


desalterant

DSC_0007
Thirst-quenching in the village of Sainte Cécile-les-Vignes. To better view the trompe l'oeil on the back wall, click on this photo.

Please don't miss Evelyn's very thoughtful article, over at Musings from Red Bell Farm, on our Domaine Rouge-Bleu wine! (The first post is here. The second, here). Mille mercis, Evelyn!

désaltérant,e (day-zahl-tehr-ahn, day-zahl-ter-ahnt) adj

    : thirst-quenching

désaltérer (day-zahl-tehr-ay) verb

Audio File and Example sentence

Listen to my son, Max, pronounce these French words:
Download MP3 file for "Desalterant"

Ce thé-glacé m'a bien désaltéré.
This iced-tea really quenched my thirst.

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

A statement I often hear, on meeting, for the first time, readers of this online journal is: I feel like I know you already!
.
My reaction to this warm reception is (to use a freckle-faced expression from my southwest American childhood) this: far from feeling creeped out, I feel a sudden urge to pinch my arm: for this is the surreality of a writing dream come true.
.
Another thing I hear, from people who do not (necessarily...) read online journals, but who are just now discovering blogging, is "I just don't understand how someone can put their whole life out there for others to read..." This reflection is sometimes followed by a shiver of distaste.
.
Though the first assumption has me giddy with gratitude (thank you for regularly reading my journal!), this second assumption makes me want to roll my eyes, not that I am a roller-of-the-eyes kind of person. (Come to think of it, via so many words strung together in a line, I can be any kind of person, what with the luxury of fiction! Hélas,* I still haven't figured out how to tell a tall story... or one with all those "story arcs," plots, subplots... protagonists, antagonists, or acrobatics. I never did understand the vocabulary of professional writing.)
.
What you are reading here is, hopefully, the ordinary happenings of day-to-day life. Only, since this word journal went "thrice-weekly," in 2005, there is the need to sort and select, so that la plupart* (oh, now there's a fun French word!) yes, la plupart of this French life, once lived, goes poof--into the Provençal air--to forever be forgotten. I hate that part of plupart.
.
Case in point: having spent so much time today writing this behind-the-scenes billet,* I have failed to tell you about the day (last Thursday, in fact) that my son taught me to skip rocks (no small revelation: it was the day that I learned how to learn: via a combination of trust (believing my son when he said "Maman, c'est fastoche!"*) and absolute, unfaltering attention (while studying the precise back-n-forth whiplash movement of his 14-year-old wrist); these two learning ingredients would produce instant perception (I skipped a rock across the river on my first try!). One instant of attention--plus faith--and I would not have to read a 561 page manual on the dynamics, the physics, the logistics--or the black magic--involved in stone skipping. What freedom! What joy! Just listen to your growing boy.
.
There are so many more instances, innumerable, that I would like to record here and share with you. Only, like waves, they rush in, as life lived, only to quickly spread out along the shore, seeming to disappear... before easing back into the ocean of memory. I vow, now, to quit lamenting all that is left unrecorded--and the misunderstandings that sometime ensue--and trust that such souvenirs have found a fertile place to roam, outside this public journal, in the privacy of home, sweet home.


***
Postnote: "So what's with the word "désaltérant?" you might ask. "It doesn't seem to have anything to do with this story!"

Hmmm. You have a point there. Then again, it has everything to do with this story! It is an example of one of those "stories that got away". I had hoped to tell you about learning the word "désaltérant" (from my brother-in-law, who declared my home-brewed iced-tea a great thirst-quencher!), this, while lunching at our picnic table, where we chatted about sports (my being polite to him) and flowers (his being polite to me), and wine (our being polite to Jean-Marc). Voilà!
.

Comments, corrections--and stories of your own--are always welcome and appreciated in the comments box.

.

~~~~~~~~~~French Vocabulary~~~~~~~~
la plupart
(des gens, des choses) (f) = most (people, things); le billet (m) = post, column, letter; Maman, c'est fastoche! = Mom, it's so easy!


DSC_0024
Speaking about stories that got away... I also didn't get the chance to tell you about this guy. By the looks of its wing, you can tell there's quite a tale behind this picture (the result of my prying the poor proie out of the many arms of a very unhappy house spider. Click on image to enlarge it.

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


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


Sans Plomb

Sans Plomb (c) Kristin Espinasse
The sign on the back of the old truck says "(ride) in complete security...with Michelin tires".

sans plomb (sahn plom) noun

    : unleaded


Example Sentence & Audio File follow, below)


A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse
(Note: the following story was written in September 2007)

At the gas station in Camaret I study the menu. I wonder whether to "fill 'er up" with Sans Plomb* 98 (better for the engine?) or Sans Plomb 95 (a few centimes less and just as suitable for my car).

Opening the little door that leads to the gas tank, I pause to re-read the sticker notice which cautions me to use fuel sans plomb. I have yet to make the mistake of filling the tank with another type of essence* (having learned from my husband's mistake); perhaps all that neurotic double-checking has served its purpose?

I look up to verify which pump I am at: "No 2," the sign says. Right, number two. I will remember "pump number two" in time to answer the clerk at the pay booth. (And I will remember, this time, to check that the price matches the total on the screen. OK. Check, check.)

I pull out the nozzle only to return it to its carriage as I always do. "78 euros" are registered on the pump's screen. I am concerned that if I begin pumping, the truck ahead of me will have a surprise tab at the pay booth. I wait until truck rolls past the booth before I pull out the gun once again, heaving a sigh of relief when the screen registers zero.

Next I try, as always, to set the nozzle to automatic. I want to pump as the pros do. I think it has something to do with hitching the nozzle's lever to some mysterious hook inside the handle. As always, the lever snaps back and I quickly give up. I'll never learn the trick, never mind that the other blond, at pump number three, seems to know it. Well, GOOD FOR HER.

When the lever snaps again, this time signaling a full tank, I resist the temptation to force in a few more ounces. Don't take chances; remember from experience that it's not worth the mess. I put the cap on the tank, turn the key and shut the little door. The screen reads 56 euros. (80 percent of that represents tax, as those who think about tax are wont to say. I should think more about tax.)

Pulling up to the pay booth, I can't help but notice the clerk on the other side of the window. She doesn't strike me as someone who checks manufacturer's notices for fuel requirements or recalls the risks of tank overflow--though she does have on a tank top and you might say it overflows. And she doesn't seem to take her job too seriously. (She is filing her toe nails.)

I marvel at her "filing-toe-nails-in-public" attitude which matches her unorthodox approach at manning the gas station pay booth. In the time that she makes me wait (she's finishing her pinkie toe), I think about how I could learn a thing or two from her: she with the hang-loose curls on her head and liberated legs (she's wearing cut-offs). The closest she has ever come to neurotic, I imagine, is in showing up for work every day.


***
Comments, corrections--and stories of your own--are always welcome and appreciated in the comments box.

.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
References: sans plomb (m) = unleaded; l'essence (f) = petrol, gasoline


:: Audio File ::
Listen to my daughter, Jackie, pronounce today's word:
MP3 file: Download sans_plomb.mp3
Wave file: Download sans_plomb.wav

Example Sentence: L’essence sans plomb 98 est plus détergente que l’essence sans plomb 95 et se révèle plus corrosive, en particulier pour les pièces en élastomères (caoutchoucs). Ces deux carburants contiennent de fortes quantités de composants aromatiques qui sont très toxiques. Il faut donc éviter d’en respirer les vapeurs et ne pas s’en servir comme agent de nettoyage ou de dégraissage. (from Wikipedia)
.
Would anyone like to help translate the sentence, above? Put your interpretation in the comments box for all to see. Merci!

Cinéma Vérité

Good news: Saturday's photo bouquet has been posted a day early. Here is a sneak preview! If you are a Cinéma Vérité member and have lost the site access information--pas de souci!--just email me and I'll send the link as soon as I can.

Le Bateleur (c) Kristin Espinasse
The theme for this latest collection of CV photos is Vaison la Romaine and Faucon -- after the two villages that Jean-Marc and I visited on our 15th wedding anniversary (see a picture from our romantic dinner). Don't miss these weekly photos -- over a dozen every Saturday. Become a contributing member today!

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


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California