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Entries from April 2011

tonnerre

P1000986

Chief Grape in his tractor. (Photo taken earlier this month.) The vines are now leafy green and those bushes, in the foreground, are covered with sweet-scented, golden, Scottish-broomy buds.
 

Un update on Jean-Marc's test results in today's story: "Light at the end of the Tonnerre"...

Correction: The pronunciation for chocotte, or "to have the jitters" (and nothing to do with "chochotte", or "a fussbudget / fusspot"), is updated here.

le tonnerre (toh nair)

    : thunder

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the following example sentence and the expressions below: Download MP3 or Wav file

Le tonnerre ne vient pas au même moment que l'éclair.
Thunder does not come at the same time as lightning. 

un coup de tonnerre = clap, peal, of thunder, thunderbolt
un tonnerre d'applaudissements = thunderous applause
du tonnerre = terrific, wonderful, fantastic
Tonnerre de Dieu! (or "de Brest!")! = heavens above, or hell's bells!

 

A Day in a French Life by Kristin Espinasse

"Light at the End of the Tonnerre"

After the pounding thunderclap, I burrowed farther into my husband's arms. Lying there we looked out the bedroom window to the flash of lumière.

Out of blackness, the vineyard became illuminated, every leafy vine coming into view, the stones beneath them glistening. Overhead, a jagged hand of lightning pointed downward, like a conductor's swift command, and the field below was awash in the melody of light.

I listened to Jean-Marc count quietly: un, deux, trois...

A breath of French numbers tickled the back of my neck. 

... quatre, cinq, six...

I recognized his "distance of lightning" calculation. The seconds, divided, correspond to the number of kilometers between us and that threatening bolt.

... onze, douze, treize...

The counting trailed off. In the wait between time and space, I asked Jean-Marc to repeat the nurse's exact words concerning the test results for the kidney biopsy he had two weeks ago.  

"Rien d'alarmant."

I repeated his answer, as I had when we first heard it, and again in the hours between then and now. "Rien d'alarmant"....

"Oui, Chérie," Jean-Marc agreed, his arms reenforcing his hold on me. 

We lie there in peace, having stopped counting the distance of lightning. After twelve seconds and twelve long days that menacing thunderbolt never came.

 ***

Post note: Apart from the assurance that "rien d'alarmant" showed up in the biopsy results, we have no further details from the medical exam. Jean-Marc is to return to the doctor's in three weeks (the soonest the nurse could schedule him in) for an evaluation.  

Le Coin Commentaires
To respond to this story, click here to access the comments box. Merci d'avance! 

 

French Vocabulary

la lumière = light

un, deux, trois... = one, two, three...

quatre, cinq, six... = four, five, six

onze, douze, treize... = eleven, twelve, thirteen...

rien d'alarmant = nothing alarming

oui, Chérie = yes, Dear

P1000939

"Flower Boy". Smokey-Doodle says: You always hear about Flower Girls...

P1000976
Smokey: "Why is it that Flower Boys never get any attention? (There I am, Flower Geek, in the background...)"

New, in books on France:

Summers in France
Summers in France is an eclectic decorating book overflowing with country home design inspiration. Check it out here

 

 

Blue pie dish 2  

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. Color choices: blue or red. Order here.

 

 

L'Occitane Hand Cream Honey, almond and coconut oil are blended with Shea Butter to create this unique and extremely effective moisturizer. Read the reviews.

 

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my post. 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


"Sent with love and gratitude for all of your wonderful, insightful and creative stories and photographs. My life is enhanced reading your books and blogs beyond measure! May you continue to be blessed doing what you love and feel the gratitude of your devoted readers. Appreciation, hugs and love to you and your beautiful family!"
--Lisa


avoir les chocottes

P1010433Smokey takes a thoughtful pause (from blowing bubbles in the brook...) to contemplate nature and the history of the fleur de lys *** read more at the end of this edition.

Update on Jean-Marc: We are still waiting for the kidney biopsy results. Meantime, read about how we are passing the time, in the following story...  We have very good news: all is OK! The nurse called to say that the test results show nothing to worry about. That is all the info we have for now. Thank you very much for your caring notes and positive thoughts!

avoir les chochottes (ahv whar lay sho koht)

    : to have the jitters

Tip: Read beyond the word of the day. Discover stories from a French life, just below. You will learn many more French words in context as well as everyday expressions not found in a textbook.

***

Les chocottes is a synonym for "teeth". In the expression "avoir les chocottes" we can imagine chattering teeth in response to fear.

Audio File: listen to Jean-Marc pronounce this example sentence (Download MP3 or Wav file)

Quand il m'a demandé de tenir la barrique pendant que la tronçonneuse allait la scier, j'ai eu les chocottes! When he asked me to hold onto the wine barrel while the power saw cut through it, I had the jitters!
. 

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

"Taking Trust to the Next Level"

Jean-Marc wants to play "Magician and Assistant" only I'm not game. 

Never mind. My husband is not one to wait for an answer. Instead, he points to the 220-liters wine barrel and says: Mets-toi là! Stand there!

I drag my legs over to the old wooden barrique
"Je ne peux pas faire ça!"

My protests are met by slight annoyance on the part of The Magician, who turns his attention to the power saw and begins yanking at the cord.

The tronçonneuse gives a roar only to die down again... and just when I think I will be dismissed from this macabre chore... back to life that power saw roars!

The edge of the saw wavers to and fro as The Magician motions to the side of the barrel. I take my cue to step into place. I have no stileto heels, no sequined gown. I am dressed in tatters and terror.

Standing to the side of the huge barrique, I reach out to put the tip of my finger on its hard metal edge.

"Ne bouge pas! Don't move!" The Magician orders. 

Don't move? Je suis paralysée. Only, when the saw hits the barrel and the wood dust begins to fly I jump back. "I can't! I can't!!!"

Jean-Marc fires up the tronçonneuse once again and moves in toward the wine barrel. He is going to saw it in half with or without me!

Seeing the barrel rock, I inch over to it and grab onto the end. My eyes are pressed so tightly together that my upper lip rises in time to bare my teeth, which receive a thin screen of saw dust when wood particles hurl forth from the saw's blade.

When the power saw is fired up for the next round, I remember to hold my mouth closed. I feel the barrel roll forwards and backwards as the Magician rotates the cutting surface.

"C'est presque fini!" he informs me. 

I pry open my right eye to see whether Mr. Magician is telling the truth. En effet, the barrel is about to split in half!

"Voilà, Chérie," the husband-houdini announces. Two new flower pots for you!

I study the halved barrel. My other eye pops open when the critic in me can't help but point out the wavy, uneven coupe:

"Perhaps a straight line should have been traced first?"

"Mais c'est ça qui fait son charme!" Jean-Marc argues.

I follow the French accent to the uneven smile from which the argument pours forth. 

"T'as raison!" "You are right!", I admit to the disarming Magician, "C'est ça qui fait son charme!" Only, my eyes are no longer lingering on the crooked barrel.

 ***

Le Coin Commentaires

Corrections, Comments, and stories of your own are welcome here, in the comments box

 

 

French Vocabulary

P1010371 mets-toi là = stand there

la barrique = large barrel 

Je ne peux pas faire ça! = I can't do that

la tronçonneuse = power saw

ne bouge pas! = don't move

je suis paralysé = I am paralyzed

c'est presque fini! = it's almost done!

en effet = as a matter of fact, indeed

Voilà, Chérie = There you are, Dear

la coupe = the cut

Mais, c'est ça qui fait son charme! = But that's what gives it its charm!

(pictured, left, another charming twist in home decoration: a whimsically painted wooden shutter. Photo taken in the town of Jonquières, and featured in Saturday's Cinéma Vérité edition)
. 

Newforest's Notes : Chocotte & Chochotte
In a follow up to her comment in today's Coin Commentaires, Newforest sent in these helpful and interesting expressions:

CHOCOTTE
When you are afraid, your teeth may chatter (choc-choc-choc)... "les chocottes" are a very old term for "les dents" (teeth) and is no longer used these days, except in a childish language and in the familiar expression used when you are frightened: "avoir les chocottes". In 'ordinary' language, you would say: "claquer des dents", which can be caused either by "avoir froid" ('being cold') or, "avoir peur" ('being afraid, scared') 

Here are other very 'familiar' expressions in French, to translate the idea of being afraid, being scared, being frightened

-> "avoir la frousse" = to be scared
BTW, if you are always afraid of something, you are "un froussard" (= "un peureux") 
- "froussard(e)" and "peureux (peureuse)" are also used as adjectives.

-> "avoir la trouille" = to be frightened/scared to death
You measure temperature with "un thermomètre"... atmospheric pressure with "un baromètre" and, by analogy, you measure your fear (your "trouille") with an imaginary.... "trouillomètre"! 
so, "avoir le trouillomètre à zéro" = to be VERY frightened indeed... to be petrified/paralyzed with terror

-> "avoir la pétoche"
= to be scared stiff, to be scared out of one's wits
Synonyms for "la pétoche" ->  "la crainte", "la frayeur", "la peur" 


CHOCHOTTE
The word "chochotte" (pejorative) means something totally different! 
"une chochotte" is either
--> a girl we can describe as affectedly pretty, very fussy and rather snobbish - a girl "qui fait des chichis"
- "faire des chichis" / "des manières" / "des simagrées" = to put on 'airs' 
- Familiar words for such a girl: 
"une pimbêche", "une chichiteuse", "une bêcheuse" (the word "bêcheuse" has also got other meanings).

or, 
--> a boy we can describe as excessively trendy, stylish (but lacking virility...), having extremely refined manners, effeminate.  
- pejorative for homosexual-

 

  DSC_0244

 What kind of flowers shall be put in our recouped barrel (which is just like this one, only sans fleurs)? Share your suggestions here, in the comments box -- and thanks in advance!

 

P1010441

Mama Braise (BREZ) is pictured here... As Smokey dries off somewhere outside the edge of this photo.

**fleur de lys, continued ... one theory has it that the famous flower came into recognition in the early wars, when a certain king waded through the narrow, iris-flanked waterways to escape the enemy. After a safe journey (thanks to the camouflaging flowers...) the humble iris des marais, or "iris of the marais", was honored. It is this "fleur de Louis" that inspired the French coat of arms (and not the fleur de lys). But don't take my word for it... there are other theories (I heard this one from Uncle Jean-Claude and the facts might have gotten mixed up in translation!)

Exercises in French PhonicsExercises in French Phonics is... 
" a great book for learning French pronunciation" Order your copy here.

French shopping bagI Heart Paris Shopper: made of recycled material

Tune Up Your French: Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Spoken French 

 

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my post. 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


"Sent with love and gratitude for all of your wonderful, insightful and creative stories and photographs. My life is enhanced reading your books and blogs beyond measure! May you continue to be blessed doing what you love and feel the gratitude of your devoted readers. Appreciation, hugs and love to you and your beautiful family!"
--Lisa


faire passer le temps

P1010414
                            Scottish broom in the French countryside...

Thank you for your thoughtful notes and emails, but we do not have any test results from Jean-Marc's kidney biopsy to share with you. And today, le lundi de Pâques, means we'll have to wait another day or two!

faire passer le temps (fer passay leuh tahmp)

    : to while away the time

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the following French words: Download MP3 or Wave file

L'autre jour j'ai fait les magasins pour faire passer le temps. The other day I went shopping to pass the time.

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

"A Hell-On-Wheels Heart"

Friday afternoon, with a morale at sub zero, I was haunting the aisles of a home-decor store. This was not retail therapy. J'étais en train de tuer le temps. There were two hours to kill while my 13-year-old and her giggly cohort cruised the mall (and I wasn't up to making an aller-retour to the farm and back!).

C'était un drôle de deux heures. It was a very strange two hours spent in full martyr mode. "What a dumb decision that was!" I chastised myself about the anecdote I had just posted. "You should have written about "Adult Chicken Adoption", as you had set out to do! 'Ex-battery Hens' would have been a much better topic, DUMMY! The plight of commercial egg-layers was surely a less risqué sujet than "ego annihilation via death to self"! (Of all subjects! Of all subjects!!!)

(Later, I would have the consolation of laughter, over a telephone conversation in which I admitted to my mom that perhaps a journal titled "French Word-A-Day" was an unlikely place to talk about mortification of self!)

Mortified, I was. And, in this state, I continued worrisomely to while the time away, or faire passer le temps, falling to greater and greater depths of despairing humiliation.

Though my eyes were fixed to the blur of my mind's colorful imagination (in which scores of Word-a-Day subscribers were signing off, en masse, dismissing its author as some sort of mystic moon-bather), I somehow managed to catch a glimpse of the shopper ahead me. Her head suddenly jerked to the side... as if an invisible tug rope were tied to it. Every few moments her head jerked again...

As the woman's children bombarded her with questions, the cigar-voiced mother-with-a-tic would snap back, literally. Her violent head-jerkings were tamed only by her take-no-shit send-offs, or ripostes, which followed her visible suffering. The whole hard-edged package was wrapped up in a cropped-haired, tight-jeaned, 30-something. As tough-exteriored as the woman appeared, you could not miss the affection and protectiveness emanating from her center as her children and her mother flocked around her in time for more chattering and more head-jerking riposting. 

If I ever had a heroine, the slumbering novelist inside of me mused, she'd be a little like her. I would have liked to have studied the woman a little closer, but feared that her involuntary tic might seem to her the object of my curiosity. She could not know that it was her hell-on-wheels heart that so enamored me. 

Thanks to this unknown woman, I left the store with my very own hell-on-wheels heart. A heart with character in time to weather the fickle air, cloudy one day, sunny the next. It was just the antidote my uneasy interior had been searching for, there, of all places, in the home-improvements store. 

***

A hell-on-wheels heart is not cold or closed, it's fiery and has wheels! ...though it doesn't always know where it is going...

Le Coin Commentaires
To respond to today's word or story, click here.

 

The Bug Hug (c) Kristin Espinasse

Feeling unloveable? Go out and hug a flower! Nature will never snub or snob you :-)

French Vocabulary

le lundi de Pâques = Easter Monday

tuer le temps = to kill time

aller-retour = round trip

le sujet = subject

  DSC_0160

        Sunny façade in Cassis. All photos & text © Kristin Espinasse

In books, film, and cuisine:

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

Sara midda's South of France: a sketchbook Sara Midda's South of France is a place of ripening lemons and worn espadrilles, ochre walls and olive groves, and everything born of the sun. It lies between the Mediterranean and the Maritime Alps, and most of all in the artist's eye and passion. Read the glowing reviews, click here.

In film:  Paris Je T'aime Paris I love You.

Eiffel Tower Cookie Cutter -  handcrafted by artisans to last for generations. Order here.

 

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my post. 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


"Sent with love and gratitude for all of your wonderful, insightful and creative stories and photographs. My life is enhanced reading your books and blogs beyond measure! May you continue to be blessed doing what you love and feel the gratitude of your devoted readers. Appreciation, hugs and love to you and your beautiful family!"
--Lisa


se livrer

Yellow Chair in Jonquieres (c) Kristin Espinasse
Think too much? Enjoy this calm and tranquil scene outside the hairdresser's in Jonquières (Vaucluse)

se livrer (seuh lee vray)

    1. to give oneself up

    2. to open up to, to confide

    3. to devote oneself to

 

Audio File: listen to the following expressions  (Download MP3 or Wav file)

se livrer à un vice = to surrender to a vice
se livrer à la boisson = to take to drink
se livrer au désespoir = to give up in despair 

Books on the French Language:

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

"Bon Appétit!: A New Spin on What's Eating at Us"

I took a troubled mind out on a walk through the grape vines. I figured that after fifty or a hundred strides--Obsession would drop by the wayside.

Hélas, like a hungry leech, the untamed thoughts further glommed on to me! So I swung my arms and quickened my step... 

I strode past the fig tree...
I strode past the vine rows...
I strode past Madame Canard...
in the ruisseau, just below...

But all my efforts resulted in no more than a tightening throat. 

This is really eating at me! I shouted in my mind's auditorium, where I listened to my words echo: REALLY EATING AT ME!

"Yes! REALLY EATING AT ME!" I answered back.

And that is when I saw it, plainly and simply: The Ego (or the "Me") in all its grace-damning glory... for isn't the "id" so often the culprit of our ailings? Then it would follow that its annihilement would be a very good thing! And what better way, than by feasting!

In a sudden change of strategy I bid my untamed thoughts "Bon appétit! Go ahead, Suckers, and feast on ME!"

Mange!
Eat!
Bon appétit! 

There followed a very long banquet (the "meal" taking place in France...). In the end, I was, quite literally, no longer consumed (there being nothing left of "id" to eat). And there followed peace. 

***

(P.S.: if you are not familiar with the concept of "dying to self", then this essay must seem very bizarre indeed! Would the idea be any more appealing if we used the French verb "écraser" ("to squash")?; therefore, on this, Feast Day & Earth Day, we might squash the Ego in time to think about others.)

Le Coin Commentaires

To leave a message, click here

.

French Vocabulary

hélas! = alas!

Madame Canard = Mrs Duck

le ruisseau = brook

bon appétit = enjoy your meal

mange! = eat!

 Thank you for visiting our sponsors!

Music & Markets in Provence Trip, Jul. 23- live classical music, fascinating markets, and charming S. of France.  Click here for trip info.

LES PORTES TORDUES (The Twisted Doors): The Scariest Way in the World to Learn and Listen to French! Check it out (if you dare).  

P1010306
Smokey and Braise illustrate the concept of "Overstepping Someone Else's Boundaries". (That's tongue-lolling Smokey in the foreground. Mama Braise keeps watch for the crazy woman who will soon chase them off with a "Just because it's called a 'flower bed' does not mean you sleep on it!!!!")

In French film: Watch one of these classics:
My Father's Glory or My Mother's Castle

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my post. 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


"Sent with love and gratitude for all of your wonderful, insightful and creative stories and photographs. My life is enhanced reading your books and blogs beyond measure! May you continue to be blessed doing what you love and feel the gratitude of your devoted readers. Appreciation, hugs and love to you and your beautiful family!"
--Lisa


le don d'organes (The Story of Nai)

DSC_0058-1
Smokey says: When in doubt about which photo to use -- always choose moi! Photo taken one year ago. P.S. the dogs returned home safely from their getaway the other day!

Thank you very much for your caring notes to Jean-Marc! "Chief Grape" is still waiting for his kidney biopsy results, though he feels confident that whatever might be ailing him is nothing serious. 

Note: today's word does not concern Jean-Marc (so no worries)! That said, we are all concerned when it comes to the subject of saving lives! Read on, in the following story. 

le don d'organes

    : organ donation

Note: The sound file and example sentence are found at the end of today's edition.

 

Bedroom

Paris apartment for rent. St Sulpice. 

215 euros per night (min.  3 night rental)
                       Click here for more photos!

 
. 

— The Story of Nai —
by Maureen Templeton-Adams

Like many Americans I became a “Provence-phile” after reading Peter Mayle’s book “A Year in Provence”. Now, fourteen years later, my husband Lee and I continue to visit Provence every year. These visits are all about the wonderful people of Provence, their serene life-style and their superb wines.

In October 2008 we found our way from the gite we were renting to the Rouge-Bleu farmhouse, less than five minutes away. We had made new friends in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorque who told us that their neighbor in Houston Texas imported French Country Wines. They assured us the wines were wonderful and the owners Jean-Marc and Kristin Espinasse were delightful people. Our friends were correct on both points!

The scene as we approached the farmhouse was truly hectic as the harvest was still in progress. Jean-Marc was providing direction to several of his workers while others were scurrying at a frenetic pace to get the grapes harvested and ready for the “crush”.

Jean-Marc mistook us for part of an English speaking wine tour that was not due for a couple of hours. He explained that Kristin was not available and very politely asked us to return later at the “scheduled” time. Rather than correct his misperception and further distract him from the harvest, we left.

When we returned, we were lucky to have a few moments alone with Kristin before a group of eight of their friends from Marseille arrived to taste (and hopefully purchase) his wines. They brought their male golden retriever to get to “better know” Kristin’s female golden retriever, Braise. Pandemonium ensued!!

Braise
        (Braise, hiding in the lavender and rosemary patch. Sam, in pursuit.)

Braise was NOT ready for such a commitment and resisted all attempts of her would be suitor. Her retreat took her around the yard, through the house and back again numerous times with Kristin’s children, Max and Jackie, in close pursuit. With each trip around the circuit the barking and yelling became louder!

Jm Unfazed, Jean-Marc continued to expound on the many virtues of his wines. The increasing noise level prompted a response from Jules, Kristin’s mom, who was visiting. From her bedroom window on the second floor, above the courtyard where we were seated, she inquired loudly. “What is going on out there?” “I am trying to take a nap!”

For Lee and I it was difficult not to break out laughing at this crazy comedy playing out in front of us. It was a truly memorable and insightful introduction into the lives of Kristin and her family. As we prepared to take our newly purchased wine and leave, I told Jean-Marc how much I liked his wine-stained T-shirt. Without hesitation he stripped it off and tossed it to me with a stern warning of “don’t wash it”! Kristen yelled across the yard, “wash it! wash it!” The evening had provided another wonderful Provencal memory to savor and share with our friends.

Klm
                  From left to right: Kristin, Lee, and Maureen

In the few quiet minutes before the arrival of their friends from Marseille, we enjoyed talking with Kristin. She asked many questions prompting me to share my story with her.

I lived as a Type-1, insulin dependent diabetic (juvenile diabetes) for 44 years since I was diagnosed at age 11. I suffered many of the complications, feet problems, vision loss, nerve damage, and kidney failure. In 2006 our annual visit to Provence had to be hastily arranged for July. I was going to be added to the kidney transplant list. This meant I could be no more than six hours from my hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. With the prospects of dialysis (or worse) looming and the fear that I may never see my beloved Provence again, it was a bittersweet visit. There are over 100,000 people on the waiting list for an organ transplant in the USA; another is added to the list every 11 minutes; 18 die every day waiting for an organ.

On April 27, 2007, the medical nightmare ended. I received the “Gift of Life”, a kidney AND a pancreas from an organ donor killed in an auto accident. The next day I was insulin free, no longer a diabetic. Although I still must deal with the diabetic complications from years past, I am healthy, happy, and able to visit “our” Provence.

After the transplant surgery I recovered sufficiently to make our September 2007 visit to Provence. This visit was an entirely different and a vastly better vacation!! I was no longer tied to a very tight regime of constantly checking my blood sugar, eating and taking insulin to manage my diabetes. I was “FREE”, no longer diabetic! This was the first year we rented our now-favorite gite close to Kristin and Jean-Marc.

Some wonderful, loving and caring people make my story possible. It crosses geographic boundaries as well as the perceived boundaries of religion and culture. This demonstrates again that people the world over share the same values.

Nai


The first of these wonderful and caring people was Naiyareh Karimimanesh, a beautiful 28-year-old Iranian-American woman, who died in the auto accident. At the age of 16, “Nai” as she liked to be called, had the maturity and compassion to become an organ donor and have it displayed on her driver’s license. This simple act saved my life and the life of another woman that was within hours of death due to kidney and liver failure.

Nai was beautiful on the inside as well. She strongly believed that diversity makes us richer and stronger as a society. She had recently passed the bar exam and was working for one of the more prestigious law firms in Atlanta. Her intent was to dedicate herself to defending the rights of women in less developed areas of the world where they suffer from cultural and religious abuse.

With the love and guidance of her parents, Carelle and Mahmood, Nai became an incredible woman. At the time of Nai’s tragic accident they were half a world away in Iran visiting Mahmood's family. For us it is still unbelievable that when confronted with the worst possible news, the loss of their only child, they were able to give permission for Nai’s organs to be donated, saving the lives of two women they had never seen.

In April of 2008, near the first anniversary of my life-saving transplant surgery, we received the first letter from Carelle and Mahmood and responded immediately. I had not written after my surgery because I could not find adequate words to express the dichotomy of my emotions. I was grieving for the parents of this young woman and their unimaginable loss but at the same time happy with my incredible good fortune to have received her organs and a second chance for life.

We began a correspondence via the organization that coordinates organ transplantation in Georgia. The process is slow but designed to shield the identities of both the donor’s family and the recipient until both are emotionally ready to meet. From their wonderful letters we knew we were ready to immediately meet Carelle and Mahmood. However it would be just after we returned from Provence in October 2008 that we were provided names and contact information. I could not sleep for days before our first phone call. I still did not have the words to express my emotions. All worries vanished within minutes of first speaking to each other. It was clear that our lives would be forever linked.


Nai 2 In January 2009 they came from California and stayed with us for a couple of weeks. They introduced us to their friends in Atlanta, many of Iranian descent and of the Baha’i faith as well as some of Nai’s friends from law school. These remarkable people are coping with the loss of their only child by focusing on the positives that came from her death. In April, Lee and I flew to California to be with Carelle and Mahmood to mark the second anniversary of my transplant and the loss of Nai. As a tribute to Nai, Mahmood arranged for a three-hour interview on Persian satellite TV to tell story and to promote organ donation. The program aired in North and South America and via Internet feeds to the whole world.

Days after we returned from our October 2009 visit to Provence, Carelle and Mahmood visited Atlanta again to support my fund raising efforts for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). The 2009 Atlanta Walk for a Cure raised over 1.9 million dollars for diabetic research. Maureen’s Dream Team was renamed to Maureen AND Naiyareh’s Dream Team raising almost $10,000.

In Nai’s memory Carelle and Mahmood continue to support charitable efforts around the world to educate and build better lives for women. (To learn more about Naiyareh go to her website www.naimemorial.com)

I am so grateful for the “Gift of Life” that has given me more time with the people I love. I am continuing fund raising for JDRF to help find a cure for juvenile diabetes. (To support this effort visit www.jdrf.org ) Lee and I also are volunteering with Life Link to promote organ donation. (To become an organ donor visit www.lifelinkfound.org or www.donatelife.org ; In the UK visit www.uktransplant.org.uk )We are grateful to Kristin for allowing us to share my story with her and her followers on French-Word-A-Day.

UPDATE on MAUREEN
During the past year since Kristin posted my story; life for me continues to be wonderful. We even managed a “surprise visit” with Jean-Marc during his wine tour of the USA. We also remain in frequent contact with Carelle and Mahmood. We support their efforts to build schools for girls in third world countries in Nai’s memory, they support our efforts to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), and we work together to promote organ donation.

In the past year I have met many other people whose lives have been changed by the loss of a loved one and the donation of their organs. Also others like me who have experienced the “Gift of Life”. While at a wine festival in Provence, we met a man from the Netherlands who had to give permission to have his brother’s organs donated. In Atlanta, a man gave permission for his son’s organs to be donated after he was murdered in Pittsburg. In North Carolina we met a couple that donated their son’s organs after he was hit by a car. In addition we attended a seminar for organ recipients which was amazing! We meet 30 couples who like us were adjusting to life after a spouse received an organ transplant. Their stories of experiencing a “New Life” after years of sickness and limitations were truly heart warming.

In 2010 the Atlanta Gala for JDRF raised over a million dollars, not bad considering the economy. My donor’s parents, Carelle and Mahmood, were our biggest supporters again. The Gala raises money with both a silent and live auction. This year we are SO EXCITED! The WONDERFUL French couple that we rent our gite from has donated a week at their larger house, minutes from Kristin!! This will be the most sought after item of the live auction and will undoubtedly bring in thousands of dollars!! We had wanted to pay for the week and donate it, but our generous friends refused, saying it was their gift!! It is easy to see why we have become such good friends and love them so much! Another example of the warm giving nature of the French people! It is any wonder we return to France every chance we have?

Thanks again to Kristin for allowing me to share my experiences with being an organ recipient. My new lease on life will enable me to continue working to support organ donation so other lives will be saved and enjoyed. Also, I will continue my support for JDRF and their efforts to fund research to find a cure for Type-1 diabetes. To help me in these efforts could the non-USA readers provide me with the names of the organizations in your countries that manage organ donation and diabetes research? Many thanks!

Much love,

Maureen Templeton-Adams & Lee Adams

Group

Nai's mom, Carelle, and Maureen (left and second to left, respectively) at the JDRF Atlanta Walk for a Cure along with Maureen & Naiyareh's Dream Team

 

Postnote: Jean-Marc, on hearing Maureen's story, said that it was a shame that French driver's licenses didn't offer the organ donor's info (as the US driver's licenses do). Update: it turns out that the mention may be unnecessary... Read about this law, in which organs are automatically donated:

From Wikipedia:

Le don d'organes repose, depuis la loi Caillavet de 1976, sur le principe du consentement présumé : chacun d’entre nous est considéré comme un donneur potentiel après sa mort à moins de s’y être opposé de son vivant en s'étant inscrit dans le Registre National des Refus

(In France...) Organ donation rests, since the 1976 Caillavet law, on the principle of presumed consent: each among us is considered as a potential donor after his/her death, unless one has opposed, in his/her lifetime, by signing up on the Registre National des Refus.

 

Le Coin Commentaires

Thank you for sharing your thoughts here in the comments box. I know that Nai's family and Maureen and Lee will be delighted to read your notes. 

Audio File & Example Sentence

Download MP3 or Wav file

Le don d'organes repose, depuis la loi Caillavet de 1976, sur le principe du consentement présumé : chacun d’entre nous est considéré comme un donneur potentiel après sa mort à moins de s’y être opposé de son vivant en s'étant inscrit dans le Registre National des Refus

Exercises in French Phonics, bestseller by Francis W. Nachtman, on French pronunciation and how to pronouce French words correctly!

English Grammar for Students of French: an essential study guide for language learners! 

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Thank you for the time you've spent reading my post. 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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"Sent with love and gratitude for all of your wonderful, insightful and creative stories and photographs. My life is enhanced reading your books and blogs beyond measure! May you continue to be blessed doing what you love and feel the gratitude of your devoted readers. Appreciation, hugs and love to you and your beautiful family!"
--Lisa


rein

Chief Grape: Jean-Marc (c) Kristin Espinasse
The life of a grape farmer, where torn trousers, sopping-wet work shirts, and "too much on the mind" are part of making good wine!  Who has time for health? Read on....

le rein (rehn)

    : kidney

néphrologue (m/f) = kidney specialist
les reins = the small of the back
avoir mal aux reins = to have a backache (in lower back) 

Audio File & Example sentence by Chief Grape himself : 
Download MP3 or Wave file

Au Centre Hospitalier d'Avignon on m'a fait une biopsy du rein.
At Avignon Hospital Center, they biopsied my kidney.

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

"How to Write a Blog Story"

1. Begin with a drama: "Jean-Marc returned home Friday morning in an ambulance...." 

2. Change things up (don't keep talking about your new favorite pasttime (organic composting), try kidneys for a change): Jean-Marc returned home Friday in an ambulance. After having his kidney biopsy, he was required to stay the night at the hospital in Avignon.

3. Add a little humor to keep things light: Jean-Marc returned home Friday in an ambulance. After having his kidney biopsy, he was required to stay the night at the hospital in Avignon. Three lunatics greeted him, after the family fold fell apart in his absence. 

4. Forget not French folklore: Jean-Marc returned home Friday in an ambulance. After his kidney biopsy, he was required to stay the night at the hospital in Avignon.Three lunatics greeted him, after the family fold fell apart in his absence. "C'est la faute à la pleine lune," Jean-Marc explained, of our batty behavior.

5. Include one line in French: Jean-Marc returned home Friday in an ambulance. After his kidney biopsy, he was required to stay the night at the hospital in Avignon.Three lunatics greeted him, after the family fold fell apart in his absence. "C'est la faute à la pleine lune," Jean-Marc explained, of our batty behaviour. "Ouf, je croyais que c'était moi! Phew, I thought it was me!"

6. No use adding a bunch of extraneous details (see below), no matter how important they seemed to you at the time:  

Jean-Marc returned home Friday in an ambulance. After his kidney biopsy, he was required to stay the night at the hospital in Avignon.Three lunatics greeted him, after the family fold fell apart in his absence. 
"C'est la faute à la pleine lune," It is the full moon, Jean-Marc explained, of our batty behaviour.
"Ouf, je croyais que c'était moi! Phew! I thought it was me!"

It so happened to be the day that the dogs ran off, our son had a tumultuous teenage moment, and the farm turned into Grand Central Terminal with the non-stop comings-and-goings.

7. Sum things up and remember: it's never about you, it's about that up-n-down thing called Life, in which every one of us can relate to what is most important: love and health:

Jean-Marc returned home Friday in an ambulance. After his kidney biopsy, he was required to stay the night at the hospital in Avignon.Three lunatics greeted him, when the family fold fell apart in his absence. 
"C'est la faute à la pleine lune.  It is the full moon," Jean-Marc explained, of our batty behavior.
"Ouf, je croyais que c'était moi! Phew! I thought it was me!" So happy you are home, mon amour. We missed you and we love you.
 

***

P.S.:  I asked The Big Man Above to help me write today's post... and I had to shake my head in appreciation when He came up with this breezy "How To" style in which to relate a delicate subject (Jean-Marc's blood test gone awry).

Update: Chief Grape feels fine. He did not have any symptoms that led up to the testing; only, during a routine check-up, some of the results came back "hors norme" or "out of normal range". Les resultats will be ready in one week. 

Regarding the ambulance ride home: it was covered by our mutuelle (French insurance plan); as Jean-Marc points out: we pay a lot for it, but there are some interesting and unusual benefits!
. 

Le Coin Commentaires
To leave a comment, click here. Do you have a kidney story to share? Any healthly tips? Thank you in advance!
.

 

"Frimousse" (c) Kristin Espinasse

Archive photo (from the Frimousse or "Sweet Little Face" bilingual edition. Read it here!)

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Pre de Provence After Shave Balm is enriched with shea butter, grape seed oil. 

 

Meantime in the Garden...

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Sunflower seedlings! I wonder whether sunflower seeds are good for kidney health?... 

P1010298-2

This 3-day-old seedling is modeling a sunflower "hat" made of biodegradable materials for that futuristique fashion statement.

Old sunflower
A venerable sunflower who lived here two years ago... She says to the stylish seedling, "Let your hair down, little one, as I have. Notice the golden curlicue on my forehead?  Witness how a sunflower "of a certain age" has grace." What's new in your garden? Share a few of your garden "characters" with us in the comments box, here.

 

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my post. 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


"Sent with love and gratitude for all of your wonderful, insightful and creative stories and photographs. My life is enhanced reading your books and blogs beyond measure! May you continue to be blessed doing what you love and feel the gratitude of your devoted readers. Appreciation, hugs and love to you and your beautiful family!"
--Lisa


couter la peau des fesses

Window Whimsy (c) Kristin Espinasse

As a newbie gardener, I'm wondering about mulch and whether I really need it. The faux flowers in the window above assure me: Nah, not if you want to plant the likes of us! Ah, ok. Thank you very much (and no offense to your charming appearance) but I want real plants. So mulch it is! Read on...
. 

coûter la peau des fesses (koo tay lah poh day fess)

    : (literal translation) to cost the skin off one's arse, or "behind"
    : (figurative translation): to cost an arm and a leg 

* note: today's term should have been the French word for mulch (le paillis)... but I got to thinking: just how many readers are into mulch?

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

"Sitting on Pay Dirt"

I am sitting like a child on a seashore, driving a shovel into the ground between her sunburnt legs. Only, this is not the beach and my legs are not burnt (they're still as white as un cachet d'aspirine).

Here, in the most unsightly part of our garden, I reach down and tug out another dent-de-lion, tossing it into the pail beside me. Only, it isn't really a pail, it is a used wine carton that should have been tossed out by now, along with the growing pile of garden clippings. But instinct suddenly has me saving these biodegradable materials...

I drive the shovel, or spade, into the ground again and again, stabbing at the little islands of unsightly crabgrass that have settled onto the "presto sod": almost two inches of earth built up by the Mistral wind, and gaining volume from the falling leaves from the tree above. Speck by speck, over the ugly, unfinished concrete patio beneath it, the dusty, leaf-chipped mass has grown, topping itself off with an eyesore of thriving weeds!

This is not where I want to be: sitting on presto turf tugging out weeds. I want to be building a garden! but the compost pile that I have begun could take a year to turn into mulch, and mulch, I am learning, is the stuff in which gardens grow! 

But where to find the "black gold" -- besides in the pricey mulch section at the pépinière? Decomposed matter, it turns out, çela coûte la peau des fesses! As I drive the spade into the shallow ground, the answer suddenly wriggles out at me!

A worm. A giant writhing worm! I carefully pull the spade aside and study the evidence. Where there are worms... there is nutrients-rich soil!

I have been looking for mulch everywhere and here it has been all along, right beneath me! not far from the skin on my arse -- and it didn't even cost la peau des fesses

Giddily, I collect what I had thought to be bane of my garden's existence. And though there isn't much of the wormy rich soil... there is enough, after all, for a beginning. 

 

Le Coin Commentaires
Leave a response to today's word or story, or share a story of your own here in the comments box. And thank you for sharing any and all garden tips with us here as well! We're thirsty as seedlings for garden knowledge!

***

French Vocabulary

blanc comme un cachet d'aspirine = white as an aspirin

une dent-de-lion* = dandelion

la pépinière = nursery

*Our friend, Newforest, notes: The word "dandelion" comes from "dent-de-lion". Its leaves are so deeply toothed that its name in Old French used to be "Dent-de-lion" ('lion's tooth'), a name reflecting the shape of its leaves. So, why "pissenlit"? The roots and leaves act on the kidneys as a diuretic. So, knowing "pissenlit" means "pee in bed", one can understand the connection with its diuretic properties!

 Bestselling books on the French language:

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Not so best-selling... but a fun book on the French language!
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  P1010241

This "lawn chair" seems to be a hit... even with Smokey! Did you see it last time? Click here to find it in the "semer" edition. 

P1010281

I can't wait to tell you how I (think I) solved mulch problem here... Can you guess what's surrounding these plants--keeping out weeds and keeping in moisture? Piles of it exist here at the farm, where we continue to sit on top of all sorts of yet-to-be-discovered mulch sources!!! P.S.: Don't miss the messy "before" picture of this tomato garden, here (at the end of the "heurter" post).

Capture plein écran 15042011 094839
Please join me in reading this book, which I have just ordered! Lasagna Gardening: A New Layering System for Bountiful Gardens: No Digging, No Tilling, No Weeding, No Kidding!

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Thank you for the time you've spent reading my post. 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


"Sent with love and gratitude for all of your wonderful, insightful and creative stories and photographs. My life is enhanced reading your books and blogs beyond measure! May you continue to be blessed doing what you love and feel the gratitude of your devoted readers. Appreciation, hugs and love to you and your beautiful family!"
--Lisa


recensement militaire

Mailbox (c) Kristin Espinasse
Something scary arrived in the mail... read on.

 le recensement militaire 

    : registration (military), census, counting (votes)

Audio File: listen to our son, Max, read his letter (below) from the mayor, including the term "recensement militaire": Download MP3 file or Wav file

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

"I begin to be adult"

Our 15-year-old son has received a letter* from the mayor. It reads:

Monsieur Maxime Espinasse

Né le 17 mai 1995

Est invité à passer en Mairie, Service "Etat Civil" à compter du 17 mai 2011...

Et obligatoirement avant le: 30 juin 2011

Pour son recensement militaire, muni de la carte d'identité française et du livret de famille de ses parents (Copies + Originaux)

Le Maire,
Max Ivan

( *For the English translation, go to the end of this post.)

DSC_0040-1

Why does the mere act of reading the words recensement militaire make my tear ducts tingle?

15-year-old Max has the answer, in halting English:

Because, says he, I begin to be adult.

***

Post note: I did not correct my son's English... and I didn't tell him that his becoming adult is not the reason for my frisson.

Update: Jean-Marc tells me that military service in France is no longer obligatory. Nevertheless, boys and girls must respond to the recensement militaire, by registering at the local Mairie. 

Le Coin Commentaires
To respond to this post or to share a story of your own, click here


French Vocabulary
le frisson = shiver, shudder

. 

Jackie and Max, kids, French, France www.french-word-a-day.com (c) Kristin Espinasse

Max, kids, freckles, French, France www.french-word-a-day.com (c) Kristin Espinasse

Max, kids, toothless, chocolate cake, candles, French, France www.french-word-a-day.com (c) Kristin Espinasse

Max, kids, teenager, snow, hairstyle, French, France www.french-word-a-day.com (c) Kristin Espinasse

Max, braces, teenager, kids, French, France www.french-word-a-day.com (c) Kristin Espinasse

Max, airsoft, mont ventoux, French, France www.french-word-a-day.com (c) Kristin Espinasse

* Mr. Maxime Espinasse

Born May 17, 1995,

Is invited to come to Town Hall, to the Registry Office, voluntarily on May 17, 2011,

And involuntarily not later than June 30, 2011,

For his military registration and to bring with him his French-identity card (the original and copies) and his family-record book (the original and copies).

The Mayor
Max Ivan 

  July ceremony

To comment on this post, click here. Share it with a friend, too!

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Thank you for the time you've spent reading my post. 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


"Sent with love and gratitude for all of your wonderful, insightful and creative stories and photographs. My life is enhanced reading your books and blogs beyond measure! May you continue to be blessed doing what you love and feel the gratitude of your devoted readers. Appreciation, hugs and love to you and your beautiful family!"
--Lisa


heurter

Sicilian Seat with Geraniums (c) Kristin Espinasse
Alice Cooper crashed at our place over the weekend. Read on...

heurter (euhr tay) verb

    : to bang into, to knock against, to run into

heurter à la porte = to knock on the door
un heurtoir = a door-knocker

Audio File: listen to our daughter, Jackie, pronounce these French words: Download MP3 or Wav file

Le petit oiseau a heurté la fenêtre. 
The little bird crashed into the windowpane.

 

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

Over The Rainbow, Bluebirds Fly

The other night I noticed our golden retriever standing very still... nose-to-nose with wild creature.

"Smokey!" I shouted, in time for our dog to run into the house, only, the little creature remained....

Slowly, I approached the motionless visitor, getting close enough to identify it. Un petit oiseau... From the way the little bird stood perfectly still, it was clear it had been through some sort of trauma. 

A collision? I looked up to the window above the front door, then back down to the bird. Meantime, Little Blue Feathers stood staring at the wall. 

"Ça fait de la peine! It's heartbreaking," my friend Pascale sympathized, from the wooden deck beyond. She returned to her telephone conversation with her daughter, the subject now being "Comment aider un oiseau blessé?" or "How to help an injured bird?"

Lying on the ground beside the little sparrow, I noticed its dashing plumage: navy blue feathers which contrasted with the lighter blue and brown hues of its covering. How exquisite its design!  I resisted the urge to photograph the beautiful bird. Reason whispered into my ear, saying: All creatures are owed dignity in suffering.   

Surely the creature was suffering? Eye to eye with the bird, mindful not to touch it, I studied its behavior. My head resting on the cement porch, I studied the bird's beak, which opened and closed automatically. Open, close, open, close... Not a peep! It would seem Little Blue Feathers had seen a ghost... or a giant monster which, come to think of it, from the bird's perspective, must be what the giant, worried eye beside it looked like. I blinked. The bird blinked. "N'aie pas peur, petit oiseau. Don't be afraid, little bird."

I scooted back a bit, and studied the overall picture. No blood, no crooked, might-be-broken wings. Just a perfectly beautiful, if stunned, bird.

Now what to do? "Don't touch it!" Pascale suggested, transferring a message from her 13-year-old daughter, Alice.

I went in search of a small branch. "Qu'est-ce que tu fais?" Pascale wanted to know.

"I'm going to coax the bird onto this branch, sans le toucher!... then I'll... well, I'll...." (Well then what would I do?)

Pascale looked doubtful. Meantime, the sun set. I resisted the urge to set a basket over the bird, to protect it from predators. It seemed the best thing to do was not to tamper with Mother Nature (perhaps the bird, if left free, would fly off in time? under a basket it would not...). I trusted that our dogs had left enough of their scent to ward off any cats and, with that, we left the poor creature on its own beneath the darkening sky... into which the winged bats flew out to spy....

That night I said a Thy Will Be Done prayer and the next morning, on waking, I said another before opening the window shutters and looking down at the front patio.

No bird... It must have flown off. Could it be?!

I ran downstairs but my heart sank on opening the front door and seeing the little stranded sparrow... which had managed to move forward during the night, finding shelter between the chipped flower pot and the old Sicilian chair.

P1010236

I knelt down, level with the little bird, and noticed its feathers were all puffed up. I hoped this wasn't a sign of distress!

And just when I thought my heart could not handle the worry of it all, I gave up and decided to trust. That is when the miracle happened: the little bird flew up... and into the tree just behind me!

I swirled around, amazed. Looking up into the mulberry tree, I found Little Blue Feathers looking back down at me! Well there you are! I thought. There you are!!!

After our silent, grateful bird-to-human exchange, le petit oiseau turned and hopped from branch to branch. Higher, and higher, and higher... in step with my thankful heart. 

***

Post note: I named the little bird "Alice", after Pascale's daughter, who had cared so much about the bird's outcome. Only, I had a doubt as to whether the bird might be a male... in which case, Alice would seem to work, too... (for in my home state of Arizona, we have a famous man who goes by "Alice". For this, our feathered surviver will be called, for the records, "Alice Cooper" (and hereafter, affectionately known as Alice (Ah leece).

Le Coin Commentaires
Join us now in the community corner. Respond to today's story or share one of your own. Corrections in English and in French welcome. Click here to leave a message

P.S.: Little did I know, when dragging that chair back from Etna last summer, that its most noble incarnation to date would be that of sauvetrice, or héroïne...

French Vocabulary

un petit oiseau = a little bird

ça fait de la peine = it's heartbreaking

comment aider un oiseau blessé = how to help an injured bird?

n'aie pas peur = don't be afraid

qu'est-ce que tu fais = what are you doing.

sans le toucher = without touching it

 

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French Dirt: The Story of a Garden in the South of France

 

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Garden update: Voici, here is my first attempt at lasagna gardening. I am doing things backwards (having gotten a late start). The idea is to build up layers of plant material that will eventually break down and amend the soil. It is also an effective way to control weeds! Suzanne, if you are reading, I will be trying to get my hands on some of that straw... meantime, I am collecting tiny twigs and building them up around the tomato plants. A suivre... to be continued...

P1010134
I need mulch!!! The old vine stalks are only there to hold down the cardboard... I need to find a lot of tiny twigs -- plenty of them around here. Now to get out and hunt for them! Any other mulch suggestions? Stuff to be found around one's garden? I hear one can even grow her own straw. Pourquoi pas?

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my post. 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    
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"Sent with love and gratitude for all of your wonderful, insightful and creative stories and photographs. My life is enhanced reading your books and blogs beyond measure! May you continue to be blessed doing what you love and feel the gratitude of your devoted readers. Appreciation, hugs and love to you and your beautiful family!"
--Lisa


remuer

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Hey Bud, you'd make a good future candidate for compost (read on in today's story...)! This beautiful California poppy is growing in the South of France! Malou transplanted it from her garden to mine with the help of Doreen. Thanks, Garden Angels :-)

remuer (reuh mheu ay) verb

    : to stir

remuer ciel et terre = to move heaven and earth
remue-toi un peu = get a move on!
arrête de remuer tout le temps! = quit fidgeting!
le remue-ménage = stir, bustle, confusion 

Verb conjugation:
je remue, tu remues, il/elle remue, nous remuons, vous remuez, ils/elles remuent  (pp = remué)

Tune Up Your French (click here) with over 900 essential expressions will help you to hone your French-language conversation skills!

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

"Garden Grist"

Compost! Compost! Compost! Compost!

It's a little early on into this compost affair to be writing about the stuff, that is "the stuff of the garden gods!", but, just as the one smitten cannot wait to talk about the object of her affection, I am impatient to share this steaming heap of burning love with you!

Speaking of steaming... that is what our compost pile is supposed to be doing, n'est-ce pas, steaming? (Something about aerobic bacteria? Something about C:N ratios?) Ah, well! Steaming will come! Restons simples! No need to complicate the compost pile. As Scott Meyer, editor of Organic Gardening says: "Compost happens!" For composting, at its most basic, is simply the piling up of waste. It will eventually break down of its own accord!

Meantime, with amorous abandon, I am tossing banana peels, egg shells, tea leaves and coffee grounds, grass clippings, cardboard, fumier, dried leaves and... weeds? I wonder whether I can add weeds into the compost pile? 

A quick internet search reveals that les mauvaises herbes are okay--just be sure to remove the seed heads! I don't trust my seed-heads judgment, so oublions weeds for the moment! All that's left to do now is to observe the brown-green ratio or that C:N business we mentioned earlier. This delicate ratio seems to be the key... to steam! Finding the right carbon to nitrogen balance will mean the difference between two months and one year (the time it will take to break down the plant waste). 

Because I can't wait another second, I will now employ the French verb remuer! And now, chers fellow composters, remuons! Besides the C:N conundrum, we'll need oxygen to get the compost heap heating up. For this, il faut le remuer.

The only other ingredient in the simple "C Now"* (I want to see my Compost NOW) is W for "water"! For that I will take advantage of all the spittoons that "build up" this time of year, when wine tasting season picks up along with the arrival of vineyard visitors. We used to empty the spittoons into the garden... now they'll be emptied on top of the compost pile!

As for that heap of burning love just outside the door, it's calling me now... I'm off to remuer le monticule of plant matter... which will, soon enough (I hope, I hope!) turn into dark compost caviar... good enough to hand-feed to the other loves in the garden: the tomatoes, the flowers, and the trees.

***

Comments & Corrections welcome!
I am a compost newbie! Please share your ideas on how to succeed in composting! Apart from the C NOW essentials, below, and the banning of animal waste (apart from le fumier from herbivores), what can you tell me about compost? Thanks for joining in today's discussion here, in the "compost" box!

Carbon (brown/dry materials: leaves, straw, "clean" paper, cardboard)
Nitrogen (green & wet materials: fruit/veg cuttings, house/garden plants...
Oxygen
Water

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French Vocabulary on the way... check back shortly, here.

n'est-ce pas? = Isn't that right?

restons simples = let's keep it simple

le fumier = manure

les mauvaises herbes = weeds

oublions = let's forget about that

remuons = let's stir

remuons le monticule = stir the mound

 

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Bestselling books on the French language:
 1. The Ultimate French Verb Review and Practice  
 2. Exercises in French Phonics

Not so best-selling... but a fun book on the French language!
Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France 

 

 

IMG_6045
Read the French Word-A-Day archives: you'll find a lot of "Abandoned Chair Lust" and other stories... click here. Photo taken in Les Goudes... at the end of Marseilles...

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Smokey "R" Dokey on his way to visit Mrs. Canard... who lives in the brook just below, with her soon-to-be born ducklings, or canetons (boys) and canettes (girls).

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my post. 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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"Sent with love and gratitude for all of your wonderful, insightful and creative stories and photographs. My life is enhanced reading your books and blogs beyond measure! May you continue to be blessed doing what you love and feel the gratitude of your devoted readers. Appreciation, hugs and love to you and your beautiful family!"
--Lisa