This picture may help illustrate what the shop (in today's story) looks like. Replace "Blanchisserie" with "Chez Janine" and the blue panels with dark lacquered wood... et voilà! Note: the next post goes out in one week, on Monday....
une machine à coudre (ma sheen ah koodr)
: sewing machine
Savez-vous opérer une machine à coudre? Do you know how to operate a sewing machine?
A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse
I set out to write a journal entry today, but a writer's fingers sometimes have a mind of their own! The following story is fictional.... Enjoy it. Meantime, time to pack for les vacances!
In front of the little Parisian shop window, I stared at a handwritten note taped to the glass door, just above the iron handle from which a rope with cow bells hung. The words, in typical French curlicue cursive read: Cherche Quelqu'un pour le mois d'Août.
Looking for someone for the month of August... The words made their way over my tongue like a sweet pastille of possibility. Cherche. Quelqu'un. Mois d'Août.
I stood back to study the seamstress shop. The window was framed in lacquered wood. Two columns flanking the vitrine held a larger, boxy, three-dimensional sign. The heavy letters protruding from the wood spelled Chez Janine.
My eyes trailed back down to the sign-printed window where a menu proposed the following prestations:
To the bottom right of the window, a painted carte de visite read:
Janine, "couturière et conteuse"
Beyond the window pane, in the immediate display area, was an old Singer sewing machine. Baskets full of striped, floral, and unicolor linen crowed around the machine à coudre. Inside one of the paniers, a calico cat napped.
Beyond the work station, I saw shelves and drawers lining the walls of the small shop. Buttons filled tall glass jars, lace and other trim were gathered on large wooden bobbins. There were giant scissors too!—so large my eyes tired beneath their weight. In the corner, a dressmaker's mannequin loomed, its hourglass figure a little more curvy than those belonging to the Parisian woman passing behind me, on the trottoir (I could see their reflections in the shop's window, where my nose now flattened up against the glass). I raised my hands and cupped my eyes, straining to discover more of the shop's personality. I could just make out some stairs in the corner... where an antique escalier en colimaçon took up a minimum of space. The steps turned abruptly, ascending within the tight, rounded stairwell, one so narrow that it took four complete turns to reach the upper level.
I wriggled my shoulders, freeing them from the heavy pack on my back. I set down the sac à dos on the cobbled sidewalk in time to reread the curlicue announcement but no sooner had I translated the first word than the shop door flew open setting off a commotion of cowbells.
A whiskey-worn voice sounded before even the bell chimes had settled:
"Je peux vous renseigner?" the voice inquired.
Would you like to read another chapter of this story? Note: The next edition goes out in one week....
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une prestation = service offered
une retouche = alteration
le panier = basket
le trottoir = pavement, sidewalk
Je peux vous renseigner = Can I help you?
une conteuse (un conteur) = storyteller
SmartFrench Audio CDs Intermediate/AdvancedFrench Demystified...simple enough for a beginner but challenging enough for a more advanced student.
KINDLE: carry thousands of educational books with you to France & beyond.
Tune Up Your French: Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Spoken French
A Day in a Dog's Life by Smokey "R" Dokey
As you can see, I have been doing some growing up lately! Now that my face is almost full-size, I will be getting some shee roo roo gee, to finally fix my left cheek!
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