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Entries from September 2010

inhospitalier

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 I would like to be more welcoming to strangers. And you?

inhospitalier (in os pih tal yay) adjective

    : inhospitable
 

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

The French have a synonym for ingracious. They call it "uninhabitable" ("inhabitable") and I guess that sums up the way I seem to be: resistant to anyone taking up residence inside of me... which may explain the pains I take in putting up so many boundaries. But God gave me a hospitable "habitable" husband and a semi-public farm in which to daily test (or, rather, stretch) me. Only, progress is slow and I wonder when will I be able to offer an unexpected visitor a warm hello?

***

Seated at the picnic table under our shady Mulberry tree, I was eating lunch with Lou and the harvest crew when I noticed a car inching up our driveway.

The Unexpected Visitor! Who could it be? What do they need? And why haven't they warned before they've come calling? 

A warning... It is now with ice pick eyes that I glare at my husband. There must have been advanced notice! Surely there was a warning! He just forgot to share it with me! Calm down. Never mind. The lesson is the same. 

I felt a familiar inward growl growing from deep within: the piping up of my inner territorial troglodyte. Oh, cave dweller, it is so hard to learn lessons!

I hear the car door slam shut and gravel crunching beneath the unfamiliar one's feet.
"Who could it be?" my mind murmured on. There it was again, that grievous gargouillement... It wasn't my empty stomach smarting: it was the howling of an inhospitable house mouse, the one who'd rather run and hide, slipping through a crack in the wall and over to the quiet, predictable other side. 

There, inside my little comfort cave I stare at a poster on my wall. It reads:

Be not inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise.*

Dutifully, I recite the sage words over and again.

Be not inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise.
Be not inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise.
Be not inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise.

It's no use. It is only in the doing and not in the "drilling in" that one begins to overcome.

The little house mouse inside of me turns and faces the entry. She stares stubbornly. Outside the crack in the wall there is light. It sends reassuring rays into her space. She can feel it on her timid toes. It is pulling her outward. To where? Heaven knows. 


 

French Vocabulary & Notes

le gargouillement
= gurgling, grumbling

*"Be not inhospitable to strangers" is a message found on the walls of the famous bookstore in Paris Shakespeare & Co. It comes from Hebrews 13:2:
Ne négligez pas de pratiquer l'hospitalité. Car plusieurs, en l'exerçant, ont accueilli des anges sans le savoir.

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this post. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving this journal. 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


"Kristin, Your tips and experiences on French and life in France are the best resources I can think of to keep my French alive."
--Amy


etre rouge comme une tomate

Tomato Red (c) Kristin Espinasse
Photo taken in Nyons, land of the olives and more!


être rouge comme une tomate

    : to be as red as a tomato (avoir honte, to be embarrassed)

 

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

After writing about Harvester Lou, yesterday, I received a bucket of fan mèl for the blue-eyed bachelor. One of the lettres d'admirateurs came from a self-defined "matchmaker", or entremetteuse, living near the Spanish border. Suzanne Dunaway is the author of Rome at Home. While Suzanne cooks up possible connections for Lou, she leaves us with a timely recipe for tomato soup. 
 
 
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Roast Tomato Soup and Parmesan Crisps

Slice 5 large ripe tomatoes in 1/2 slices and roast them in a 200°C (390°F) oven, sprinkled with olive oil, a little salt and a few cloves of garlic. When they have lost most of their juice and are beginning to brown, take them out. In a large soup pot, saute 1 large sweet onion, chopped coarse (NOT chopped "coarsely"!!!) in 1/2 cup olive oil, and when it is starting to brown, add the tomatoes. Cook for a few minutes together and add 4-6 cups chicken broth. Let the soup simmer for 20 minutes or so, then puree it with one of those magic French wands that can smooth out anything or in the bowl of a robot coupe. Put this mixture through a sieve into another pot and add 1 cup of cream. I know this is tedious, but the soup is divine and perfect for impressing special dinner guests! To make the chips, stir together 1 cup of grated Parmigiano Reggiano and 1 tablespoon flour. Make little piles of the mixture on a cookie sheet, flattening them slightly with your fingers. Place in a 200°C (390°F) oven for 10 minutes, watching to make sure they do not burn. These are great even without soup.
 
 ***
Le Coin Commentaires
Merci beaucoup, Suzanne, for this timely recette.  To leave a comment for the cook, click here.
 

 

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Smokey's dear friend in Belgium, Carol, writes: J'adore le portrait de Smokey... paré d'un délicieux sautoir en rubis signé "Tomatellato" ! (en référence aux fabuleux bijoux de la marque Pomellato).

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What else to do with tomatoes? Share your ideas and recipes here, in the comments box.

Shopping:
Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Spoken French

In Music: The Singing Nun by Soeur Sourire

Green tomato soap

 

Green Tomato Soap from France

 

Tomato print
Vintage French Print for your kitchen or office or...

Hand blender
One of those "magic French wands". Order here.

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this post. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving this journal. 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


"Kristin, Your tips and experiences on French and life in France are the best resources I can think of to keep my French alive."
--Amy


avant-coureur

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Puzzled at which photo to put up today... I found this forerunner in Ramatuelle. Picture taken  last spring.

avant-coureur (ah vahn koor ur) adjective

    : forerunner

synonyme: précurseur (noun)


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

Next month this word journal will set out for—and near—its very dear ninth year! How to sum up one's thoughts about that? With the help of Doctor Seuss, bien sûr:

Oh, les endroits où tu courras!

As you may have surmised, translation is not always on my side. So let's keep le docteur's words intact: 

Oh, the places you'll go!  To this I would add, with glee and wee-stee-tee:

...and, oh, the people you will meet!
 

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Take Lou, for example. He wrote to me back in 2006.

I've just been able to send an e-mail. I read your book, which I enjoy and get your word a day, which is helping me try and learn French, as I'm planning on spending a month next Sept. in the Provence area celebrating my 80th, hope to try your wine, I'm from Casa Grande, AZ., also a desert rat, much good luck to you and to your family, I'm sure, like most of your readers, you feel like family. Au revoir.


And now, three and some years later, at the age of 83, Lou finally came to visit me! He had mentioned wanting to help out with our wine harvest... and so it was that Lou became our most venerable vendangeur!

Lou has often sent encouraging words (you may have seen them in the comments box):

Happy birthday and holiday greetings from an old fan, enjoy your family news and pics, hope to get over one of these days and meet you all, My best to you and yours.


But there is nothing like hearing encouraging words en direct. I stood there on the front patio, listening to un homme d'un certain âge honor me for following and sharing this writing dream. Next, the man with grape stains from his shirt shoulders to his socks, turned and pointed to the horizon. His face sunburnt from harvesting, a bee sting beneath his eye, he said that I was blessed. My eyes traveled back from the skyline and, looking back at Lou, I could not help but feel so: blessed not for what I have, but for whom I have.

Lou's solo trip south (he first visited London) to gather grapes beneath the sizzling sun makes my imagination spin: will I dare to drive a car across a foreign country when I am the same age as he? Or will I remain a wet chicken?

I look at Lou and see what James Dean might have been, nearing ninety: a rebel runner in Time's race, not about to slow down. Never mind gravity.

Time and lines. I try to superimpose my own face on Lou's: eyes on eyes, nose on nose. Will I be as handsome... with a little chance and then some?

But beauty has nothing on bohemia and, like Lou, it is the unconventional life for which I'll strive at 80 or for as long as I'm alive.

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(more photos below... keep scrolling!)

Le Coin Commentaires
I love reading your comments. Please don't hesitate to leave a message, or a simple "bonjour". Click here to comment

Speaking of Doctor Seuss, check out Les Oeufs Verts au Jambon: The French Edition of Green Eggs and Ham

French Vocabulary

bien sûr = of course

le docteur = doctor

ouistiti = the word the French say for "cheese" when posing for a photo (pronounced wee-stee-tee)

le vendangeur (la vendangeuse) = grape picker, vintager
wet chicken 

en direct
= live

un homme d'un certain âge = a man of a certain age

wet chicken = la poule mouillée = a coward  

  

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Lou with harvester Zayra. Ah là là!

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  Exercises in French Phonics Exercises in French Phonics is... 
" a great book for learning French pronunciation"
"useful and practical"
"high quality material, good value for your money" --from Amazon customer reviews. Order your copy here.

Sweatshirt

Sweatshirt "Provence-Alpes-Cote D'azur

  DSC_0025

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this post. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving this journal. 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


"Kristin, Your tips and experiences on French and life in France are the best resources I can think of to keep my French alive."
--Amy


Processus: Janet Skeslien Charles, Parisian-based American author, offers a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at publishing a book.

Swallowtail Butterfly (c) Kristin Espinasse
"Le Papillon Jaune" (discovered last month, munching on our hearty Lila d'Espagne). Butterflies! Talk about processus!


le processus (pro sess ooce) noun, masculine

    : process


Audio:
listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's word & example sentence: Download WAV or MP3

Le processus est toujours le même. The process is always the same.



"Processus" by Janet Skeslien Charles

Today, Janet Skeslien Charles, Parisian-based American author, offers a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at publishing a book.


Do you ever wonder why it takes 18 to 24 months for a manuscrit, a manuscript, to become a book? Today, we’ll look the processus, the process, of publication from start to finish.

In May 2008, my agent sold my novel to an editor at Bloomsbury, the independent UK maison d’édition, publisher, that first published Harry Potter. Helen, my éditrice, gave me six pages de commentaires, comments. (Single-spaced!) She looked at the big picture and gave global comments concerning the story line. I edited the novel from June to December.

In January 2009, the réviseur, or copy editor, contacted me about her suggestions for the novel. She looked at the text sentence by sentence, word by word, looking at the meaning of each word and phrase. Here is an example of one of her comments. “The line reads: ‘Jane accused me of having a crush on her boyfriend.’ The word ‘accused’ here seems a bit strong.” The réviseur was right. Jane wasn’t angry. I changed the line to “Jane teased me about having a crush on her boyfriend.”

In February 2009, I received the American couverture, or cover.

Although we loved the cover, Bloomsbury USA went with a couverture with a bolder look. Which one do you prefer?
In May of 2009, I received the proofs, the typeset text, and locked myself away because it was la dernière chance, the last chance, to change anything. Then the correcteur, the proofreader, looked at every letter and all the punctuation.

It was a pleasure to work with the editorial team. It felt like a luxury to have people pay such close attention to my words and characters. I loved the images that the artists created. Until this point, the processus was private. Everyone who had read the book had loved it.

The next part was public. The book came out on September 9, 2009 (or 9-9-09), nearly a year and a half after it had been sold. Les critiques wrote les critiques, reviewers wrote reviews that ranged from “Good for ambitious readers” (Josh Cohen of Library Journal) to “Chick lit with edge” (Kirkus). Readers on Amazon.com, GoodReads, and LibraryThing weighed in. The first reader reviewer didn’t like the book and posted her comments on seven different sites. It was hard to see those harsh words posted so many places. Luckily, several other reader reviewers had kind things to say. At readings, I met people who had very different but equally valid points of view concerning the characters’ actions. Talking to them made me rethink my own book.

People commented not only on the text but also on the social issues of the novel. On one site, a man registered as “Galactic Love” called me “flat out biased” and “jealous”. He also used the phrase “arrogant bit**es”, referring to American woman. On another, a woman registered as “SS” listed everything wrong she found with the book. Luckily, I have received many kind emails and reviews from readers and the negative posts have been minimal, though I do think it is surprising what people say when they are anonymous. I feel lucky to have the support of great independent bookstores such as the Village Voice, the Red Wheelbarrow, and Shakespeare & Company here in Paris as well as Rainy Day Books in Kansas City and Fact & Fiction in Montana. It has been wonderful to meet so many people who are passionate about books.

From manuscript to roman, from private writings to published work, it has been a rich experience. I hope that you have enjoyed my posts this week. It has been a pleasure to share a little of my journey with you. Bonne continuation!

***

Le Coin Commentaires
Mille mercis to Janet for sharing her stories with us this week and for breathing hope into our own creative endeavors. To leave Janet a message, please click here.

I leave you with a mot de remerciement from Janet: 
Un grand merci to all the thoughtful, generous people who read my posts and took the time to respond. I was overwhelmed by your kindness, appreciated your support, and enjoyed learning about your experiences in France. Again, many thanks to Kristin who kindly let me visit her wonderful blog as guest this week.

 
%2AIMG_3559_small[1] Janet Skeslien Charles’ debut novel Moonlight in Odessa was chosen by Publishers Weekly as one of their top ten debut novels of Fall 2009. 

9781608192328[1]-1 It was Book of the Month in the September issue of National Geographic Traveler. BBC Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime featured Moonlight in Odessa for two weeks in February 2010.

Click here to order Janet's book.

See Ann Mah's interview with Janet, here.

un manuscrit = manuscript
le processus = process
un agent = agent
une maison d’édition = publishing house
un éditeur, une éditrice = editor*; publisher
commentaire = comments
un reviseur = copy editor
une couverture = cover
la dernière chance = last chance
un correcteur = proofreader
le mot de remerciement = a thank you note 
*rédacteur/trice = editor 

 

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"Nature's Palette" - a close-up of those beautiful wings.

A Life of Her Own A Life of Her Own: The Transformation of a Countrywoman in 20th-Century France, by Emilie Carles

From the publisher: Emilie Carles was born in 1900 into the rigidly conservative patriarchal world of a poor and isolated peasant community in the High Alps of France. Her autobiography is the tale of a world that has largely disappeared and of the one that has emerged to take its place. 

Customer Reviews:

Emilie Carles started out her life the same as many of her neighbors in her predominantly peasant town in France. Unlike her neighbors, she went on to receive an education and break out of generations of grinding poverty and ingnorance. The very fact that she is able to chronicle her most unusual life is a testament to the power of the human spirit. 

Emilie Carles A hard-bound edition of this book is available, here

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this post. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving this journal. 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


"Kristin, Your tips and experiences on French and life in France are the best resources I can think of to keep my French alive."
--Amy


epousailles

Betrothed Bikes (c) Kristin Espinasse
Betrothed bikes in Orange, France.

épousailles (ay poo zeye) noun, feminine, plural

    : nuptials, wedding

Paris-based novelist Janet Skeslien Charles is back with us today to talk about "le Oui" or the "I Do" of a union of two....


Le Mariage
by Janet Skeslien Charles


In my novel Moonlight in Odessa, Daria, a young Ukrainian who longs for a better life marries Tristan, an American she meets through an international matchmaking organization. He said that he was a teacher, but Daria arrives at his home in California, she realizes that Tristan is not exactly who he said he was. But can a happy marriage be built based on a foundation of lies?

Today, I thought it might be interesting to talk about marriage in France. In French, le mariage can mean “the wedding” as well as “the marriage.” Did you know that only a mariage civil, a civil wedding ceremony, is recognized by the French government? A couple must be married by a maire, a mayor, before they can be married in a church. As a future bride, I was disappointed, imagining a sterile city hall wedding. Au contraire, city halls have beautiful rooms and the maire did a lovely job of personalizing our ceremony and he even spoke a few words of English.

My favorite expression concerning weddings is Mariage pluvieux, mariage heureux, a rainy wedding makes for a happy marriage. I heard this expression in Burgundy when it started to rain on my own wedding day and have heard it several times since, a small consolation to the brides who live in this lush, green, rainy country.

When we talk about a white wedding in America, we picture a bride in white. Many French brides choose to wear white gowns as well. In France, however, un mariage blanc, literally a “white marriage,” indicates a marriage of convenience. Here in Paris, we see many foreigners who want to live in France, so they marry a French friend or pay a French citizen as a way to gain valid working papers. The film “Green Card” with Gerard Depardieu deals with a French man who marries an American woman so that he can live in the States. In a mariage blanc, both parties understand that it is not a real marriage. In France, this kind of marriage fraud is a crime punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a 15,000 euro fine.

Of the 273,500 wedding celebrated in France, 84,000 were considered mixtes, or mixed, between a foreigner and a French citizen. According the newspaper Libération, marriage is considered the “main source of immigration in France.” In the last few years, French authorities have acknowledged a scam called mariages gris, or a gray marriages. Unlike a mariage blanc, where both partners are aware that the wedding is in name only, a mariage is considered ‘gris’ when a person who doesn’t have legal papers uses a French citizen in order to get a carte de résident, a Green Card. It is a union in which one partner doesn’t realize that the reason for the wedding was paperwork, not love. The recipe is simple – seduction, a wedding, the arrival of a carte de résident, divorce. This kind of marriage, a sentimental scam, is punished more severly than mariage blanc.

Even when two people have good intentions, engagements and weddings between foreigners aren’t easy. When an American friend and her French fiancé announced to his parents that they were going to get engaged, his mother replied, “C’est un peu extrême, non?”, or That’s a little extreme, isn’t it? The wedding didn’t take place. In “Moonlight in Odessa,” Daria’s future in-laws were not very kind to her either, though it was Tristan’s idea to rush into marriage. I wonder how readers would classify Daria’s marriage to Tristan – white, gray, or downright black.
. 

Le Coin Commentaires
To respond to Janet's essay, or to leave her a message, please click here to access the comments box.

 
%2AIMG_3559_small[1] Janet Skeslien Charles’ debut novel Moonlight in Odessa was chosen by Publishers Weekly as one of their top ten debut novels of Fall 2009. 

9781608192328[1]-1 It was Book of the Month in the September issue of National Geographic Traveler. BBC Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime featured Moonlight in Odessa for two weeks in February 2010.

Click here to order Janet's book.

“This is a delicious novel—wise, witty, wonderfully written...”—Vivian Gornick

"Charles’ transatlantic saga explores the dichotomy between Eastern and Western cultures, as well as the assumptions and sacrifices people make in the hope of a better life.” —Booklist

 



French Vocabulary

un maire – the mayor
un mariage – wedding or marriage
un mariage blanc – a marriage of convenience
un mariage gris – a scam in which a person marries a French person in order to gain valid      
    working papers, then divorces the unsuspecting spouse
un mariage civil – a civil wedding ceremony
Mariage pluvieux, mariage heureux – a rainy wedding makes for a happy marriage

 

DSC_0034-1
Smokey says: my pawrents: Maw (right) and Paw (left). Speaking of le mariage, I hear these two eloped in Marseilles. Don't miss the story, here, in the latest book (a perfect gift for dog-lovers!) Click here to order.

 

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this post. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving this journal. 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


"Kristin, Your tips and experiences on French and life in France are the best resources I can think of to keep my French alive."
--Amy


un rappel

Blurb

un rappel (rah pel) noun, masculine

    : a reminder
. 

Bonjour! Just a reminder that, through the end of this month, there is a $7 coupon available for the French Word-A-Day book! 

In this latest book, there is a full-size photo on every other page!

Don't miss this chance to order a copy for yourself or for a friend!
It makes an educational gift, a fun and unique coffee-table "what's it," and book sales help keep this journal going (if you get the gist)!

To get the discount, enter FWAD2010 on check out. Click here to order the book. Mille mercis!

Update: a UK £ and Euro coupon is now available: 

For a UK £ discount (4 pounds off) enter FWADUK
For a Euro discount (5 euros off) enter FWADEUR on checkout. 

..................................................................................................................
Questions, comments, or feedback about this book is welcome here


Balai espagnol & Bucket in Villedieu (c) Kristin Espinasse
More photo books in the works, thanks to your support! (Photo "Le Ménage" in Villedieu)

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this post. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving this journal. 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


"Kristin, Your tips and experiences on French and life in France are the best resources I can think of to keep my French alive."
--Amy


romancier

Lace Curtains in Nyons (c) Kristin Espinasse
Some romantic curtains (spotted in Nyons) to go along with our "Romancier" story, by guest blogger Janet Skeslien Charles.

 

romancier (ro man see ay) noun

    : a novelist
 
Bien dire magazine Keep up your French with Bien Dire (magazine subscription). A 52-page magazine to improve your French that you'll enjoy reading! Full of interesting articles on France and French culture, Bien-dire helps you understand what it is to be French order here.
 .

Romancier, Romancière

9781608192328[1]-1 My name is Janet Skeslien Charles. I am a romancière from Montana who lives in Paris. In 1998, I came to France as une assistante d’anglais. Like many people who end up living in France, I intended to stay just one year, yet me voilà – here I am – twelve years later with my romanMoonlight in Odessa” (Bloomsbury) just out in paperback. I feel very lucky to be a guest blogger for Kristin this week and hope that you will enjoy my posts.
.
From 1998 to 2004, I taught in three different schools in Ile de France, which is what the French call Paris and its surrounding suburbs. One school was an hour away from my apartment. I spent more time underground in the metro than I did above ground in the classroom, running from school to school. After six years, I decided to stop running and work on mon roman and lead an atelier d’écriture.
.
I wanted a mix of Anglophones and French adult students, but it wasn’t easy to attract French students at first. When I told French friends about my atelier d’écriture, this is how it usually went:

“I’m starting a writing workshop.”
“Bravo!” Emilie said. “Children these days need help with their penmanship.”
“It’s for adults.”
“Well,” she said. “Many adults could stand to improve their penmanship.”
“The workshop is about telling stories, not penmanship.”
“Ah, oui…”

I thought Emilie had understood, until she twirled her finger near her temple, making the universal sign for crazy. “You mean for adults who have problems.”

“My students don’t have problems!”
“No, of course not. I meant they’re… slow.”
“There’s nothing wrong with my students,” I said. “They want to be writers.”
“But writers are born, not made.”

Chantal was one of my first French students. She wrote beautiful essays about books and characters, describing them lovingly as friends. It was the first workshop she had taken and I think she was surprised by her own work and by the encouragement of her fellow writers. Each session, it is a pleasure to see people share their work, gain confidence, and improve their writing.

I believe that writing is a pleasure that we can all enjoy and that anyone who writes is a writer, whether it be observations in a journal, sharing our thoughts on a blog, or sending letters to friends. Musicians take classes to improve their technique, why can’t writers? Do you believe writers are born or made? Or perhaps a little of both?  

It is challenging to be a un écrivain, finding le mot juste, finding the heart of a story or an essay, editing our own work and finding agents or editors. Many people fear being turned down. As I tell my writing students, rejection is a part of dating, looking for a job, and getting published. I show them rejections for a personal essay called “Interview in Paris” sent to ten literary journals. The first came within hours from Boston, the last came sixteen months later, also from Boston, with a word of praise. The largest rejection was one page long, the smallest a two inch by two inch scrap of paper. Write, edit, get feedback, edit, send out your work, repeat as needed.
.
It is rewarding to be un écrivain, finding the right word, finding the heart of a story, finding readers who love the piece as much as you do. Paris is a challenging and rewarding place to be a romancière. The city is nourishing yet full of delightful distractions. Here is my favorite kind: a café gourmand, a coffee served with three small desserts. Perfect as a small consolation in a moment of difficulty or as a reward to celebrate an unexpected victory.

Photo 2

My Belle-Mère was the first person to call me a romancière. We sat in her kitchen drinking coffee. She looked at me and said, “Just think, I have a romancière sitting across from me.” I loved the sound of the word. It sounded so romantic.

***

%2AIMG_3559_small[1] Janet Skeslien Charles’ debut novel Moonlight in Odessa was chosen by Publishers Weekly as one of their top ten debut novels of Fall 2009. It was Book of the Month in the September issue of National Geographic Traveler. BBC Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime featured Moonlight in Odessa for two weeks in February 2010. Foreign language rights have been sold in Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Italy, Brazil, Iceland, Romania, Serbia, Taiwan, Denmark, and Spain. Moonlight in Odessa has been awarded the 2010 Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance. 

Le Coin Commentaires
To leave a comment, click here. You might also help me to thank Janet for her behind-the-scenes essay on becoming a writer. To leave Janet a message, click here. Merci! And to order Janet's book, click here.

romancier, romancière = a novelist
un(e) assistant(e) d’anglais = an English assistant
me voilà = here I am
Ile de France = Paris and its surrounding suburbs; "one of the twenty-six administrative regions of France, composed mostly of the Paris metropolitan area. Its name literally means "Island of France", possibly from ancient Frankish Liddle Franke, "little France". (--Wikipedia)

un atelier d’écriture = writing workshop
un écrivain = a writer
le mot juste = the right word
un roman = novel
un café gourmand = a coffee served with three small desserts

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"Le Roupillon" ("The Snooze"): picture of Braise (left) and son, Smokey, taken last November

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this post. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving this journal. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
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"Kristin, Your tips and experiences on French and life in France are the best resources I can think of to keep my French alive."
--Amy


le moi

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To Be or Not to Be?

le moi (leuh mwah)

    : ego, self

Reverse dictionary (with English expressions first!)
ego trip
= glorification de soi-même
egoism = le culte du moi 

and:
to be selfish = être égoïste
to be egocentric = être égocentrique

(related: amour-propre = self love)

 

A Day in a French Life: by Kristin Espinasse

"Cogito, ergo, and then some!"
 

Self: You're a little pinched for time this morning, why don't you post another series of photos, do a "silent" edition?

Ego: Because people are waiting to read my story!

Self: But another silent, snapshot-only edition would give you the leisure to make lunch for the harvesters, think about your friends, and look into the details of your daughter's 13th birthday (tomorrow!)

Ego: I can do all that, and more! I am invincible! 

Self: Enough with your philosophy of  "achieve". You'd do well to go around affirming it's not about me!

Note to Self: Remember, to keep the Ego in its place, always let others run ahead in this race.


And now: enjoy the following silent edition featuring some very humble harvesters. But what is going on in the following pictures?... 

mm

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Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this post. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving this journal. 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


"Kristin, Your tips and experiences on French and life in France are the best resources I can think of to keep my French alive."
--Amy


corvée

Corvee
The drawing reads: "In the war of 1870 he drove a team instead of a camion. French 'corvée' laborers. Too old to serve in the active army and so assigned to the more unromantic uninteresting but vital work of loading camions, tending horses, or building and repairing roads back of the lines. It has been said that the first battle of Verdun was won by the camion service. This is the kind of man who made that victory possible." (Image Processed by Distributed Proofreaders as part of the e-book creation process for Project Gutenberg title "I was there". Author: Baldridge, Cryus Leroy (1889-1977))

corvée (kor vay) noun, feminine

    : chore, duty, drudgery, unpleasant task

synonyms: une tâche (task), un pensum (punishment)

 Audio File & Example Sentence:  Download WAV or MP3

Sortir la poubelle, c'est une corvée usuelle.
To take out the garbage is an ordinary chore.
. 

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

"Lads & Laundry"

Enjoy the following silent column! Sometimes it is good to take a break from words... and dabble, instead, in domestic work!

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 Thank you, Alexis (right) and Daniel, for allowing me to capture this slice of harvest life. 

 

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Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this post. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving this journal. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
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"Kristin, Your tips and experiences on French and life in France are the best resources I can think of to keep my French alive."
--Amy


lievre

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Little lost lièvre...

   Tortoise et hare
The Tortoise and the Hare - Bilingual edition! Order here.

 

..


le lièvre (lee evr) noun, masculine

    : hare

synonym: le bouquin = buck rabbit


Terms & Expressions:
    un bec-de-lièvre = hare lip
    C'est là que gît le lièvre
= that's the crucial point
    lever/soulever un  lièvre = to hit on a problem
    chasser deux/plusieurs lièvres à la fois = to attempt to do two/several things at once
. 

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

Aunt Marie-François stopped by yesterday, on her way home from work. "Viens voir ce que j'ai dans la voiture," ("come see what I have in my car,") she said.

I followed my belle-tante out to the vines beside which her voiturette was parked. I watched as she opened the passenger-side door, then reached into the car and carefully pulled out her wicker panier. Inside there was a smaller basket lined with cotton. And there, in the center, was a nouveau-né.

"Do you know what it is?" She, already knowing the answer, quizzed me. My guess was a cochonnet, given the shape of its face and its round ear. 

"Aha! Mais..." my aunt said, gently turning the newborn to its side. And there I saw an elongated ear....

"C'est un bébé lièvre!"

"The maman must have bitten off the other ear while cleaning off the placenta," Marie-François guessed.

She told me the story of how Uncle Jean-Claude found the abandoned newborn in the vines, while prepping for the harvest over in Chateauneuf du Pape. 

Aunt Marie-Françoise and I stared at the little rescapé who, she tells me, is drinking pharmaceutical cat formula (with the help of a pipette) every two hours. "If it's good enough for cats," Marie-François reasoned, "it's good enough for him."

"What will you call the orphan?" I asked, suppressing the urge to tickle its fuzzy chin or to so much as touch the weak infant. 

"I haven't thought of a name," she admitted. I guessed this had something to do with the delicate state of its health. Would the little lièvre survive?

"Why not call him Pierre?" I offered, thinking of the plucky Peter Rabbit.

My aunt giggled, softly. This little one would indeed need pluck... along with oodles of luck!

"It's true that we found him in a pierraille..." she considered. "We could call him Pierrot!"

"That's it, Pee err oh!" I seconded, sounding the soft nom de guerre. May he be a fighter! 

My aunt looked doubtful and her eyes turned tender as tears.

"On verra...." said she, setting Pierrot down in his basket, ever so quietly.

***

Le Coin Commentaires

Questions, corrections, and comments are most welcome! Thank you for leaving a message here, in the comments box.

 French Vocabulary

la belle-tante = aunt-in-law

la voiturette = little car

le panier = basket

le/la nouveau-né(e) = newborn

le cochonnet = piglet

c'est un bébé lièvre = it's a baby hare

la maman = mother

le/la rescapé(e) = survivor

une pierraille = place, yard with loose stones

nom de guerre = literally "war name"

on verra = we shall see 

 

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French Demystified...simple enough for a beginner but challenging enough for a more advanced student.

Emile Henry

A French standby. Strong, durable, all Emile Henry cookware can be taken directly from the freezer to the hot oven, can go under a broiler and in the microwave; freezer and dishwasher safe. The natural clay is unsurpassed for conducting and retaining heat.

 

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


Exercises in French Phonics Exercises in French Phonics is... 
" a great book for learning French pronunciation"
"useful and practical"
"high quality material, good value for your money" --from Amazon customer reviews. Order your copy here.

 

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Cat curtains. Photo taken in Tulette, while strolling through the village with my friend (and newbie harvester) Sandy.

In French film: Le lièvre de Vatanen

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this post. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving this journal. 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


"Kristin, Your tips and experiences on French and life in France are the best resources I can think of to keep my French alive."
--Amy