"Meet Chief Grape in Copenhagen . He will be pouring his wines at Mansted Wine May 28th, from 5 to 7 PM"
: frame (of picture, door, etc)
Note: there are more meanings for the French word cadre. Sorry to not have the time to list them here. Dust off those dictionaries and see for yourselves... meantime, a little bit of dust in the following story...
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse
I was driving my dad and my belle-mère, Marsha, home to our vineyard when I realized that the room I had carefully prepared for their 4-day stay had something terribly, embarrassingly out of place!
Despite the fastidious organizing that took place in the days leading up to Dad and Marsha's visit, I had forgotten all about the oil painting my belle-mère Marsha had presented us years ago. Currently it was missing its frame! More about that in a minute, meantime, there were other glaring oversights that were now coming to mind. For example, I might have dusted Marsha's painting, as my own mom had, during her previous visit, when we wiped down all of Mom's paintings. I remember being astonished watching Mom wring out a dishcloth and set about scrubbing down all of her own oil paintings before placing them back on the counter tops.
Mom had overlooked the fact that her paintings were not hung properly, but there was one thing that bothered her. "They need frames. Promise me you will frame them!" I nodded my head as we stared back at the paintings, which gleamed. The colors were so deep and rich after the towel bath. I would have never thought to wash a work of art!
It was during that same visit that Mom discovered Marsha's painting. Mom admired Marsha's rendition of a typical Provençal mas. The shutters and door were beautifully painted and the climbing roses that reached up to tickle the shutters made this an enchanting scene from any Francophile's dream.
Marsha had set the painting into a beautiful wooden frame before offering it to Jean-Marc and me. When Mom saw that frame her eyes began to shine and I sensed, even before the crime took place, what calculations were going on beyond that innocent face.
"No! The answer is NO!"
"But I just want to show you what my painting would look like if you ever got around to framing it!" Mom explained.
Fast forward to the drive home, where Marsha and Dad are chatting about the countryside as seen from the car window. Another conversation is going on in my own head:
I need to get to the room before Dad and Marsha do! But how to switch Mom's painting out of Marsha's frame?—when Mom's painting is in another room! And what a dope you are to have placed Marsha's painting there—on the ledge of the heater of all places! This is really going to look bad!!!
True! I should have given my belle-mère's painting a more prominent place than on the heater! But it wasn't the heat that threatened to damage the painting (we never use that heater, which serves more as a shelf for books and artwork).... it was the seeming carelessness that threatened to damage my carefully soigné appearance of a mature, has-it-all-together daughter. As it was the bed was impeccably made and the en suite bath shined, as did the floors. And then there was my belle-mère's painting—which sat there vulnerably, like a beautiful women whose summer hat had just been blown off by the Mistral... or pinched by a rascal!
Meantime, Mom's painting of Le Quartier Juif à St. Maximin now boasted a beautiful frame! It would be one of the first things my Dad and Marsha would see when then walked in the front door.
As things threatened to quickly fall apart (we were nearing home now, just one or two blocks away from The Revealing Moment) I made a quick decision to come clean. Experience reminded me that skeletons always manage to work their way out of the closet, "Bonjour! Bonjour!", the moment the guests arrive. Besides, I have learned that the antics involved in covering up an embarrassing faux pas are often as ridiculous as the situation itself. The skittish and bizarre behavior one exhibits while trying to mask the skeleton only makes the problem more obvious. There was no way to dart out of the car and into the house in time for a casual switcharoo without my behavior seeming weirder than usual.
Often the best course of action is to admit error and, if at all possible, to swiftly pass along the blame...
"Marsha, there's something I need to explain... it has to do with that rascal mom of mine!"
Post note: my Mom and Marsha have an unusually peaceful relationship as wife and ex-wife of my dad, Kip. You might say the women are as close as a painting and its frame!
Marsha was quick to forgive Mom and to assure me, "It's nothing to worry about! It's not at all important." Admiring Mom's painting, Marsha remarked, "It's just lovely."
No make-up (Marsha, left) and no breast (Mom, right). I hope my moms don't mind my posting their photo, taken in 2003 after mom Jules's mastectomy. Marsha offered a loving ear back then, and the two women continue to maintain a caring email correspondence. Mom always says, of her ex, that Marsha is the best thing that ever happened to my dad. I think he would agree.
I temporarily moved Marsha's painting to my desk, for inspiration while I typed today's story. Click on the picture to see a close up and to read the other inspiration (Flaubert's words) just above.
Here's Mom's rendition of Le Quartier Juif à St. Maximin. Mom can tell you stories about one of her favorite places. Maybe check the comments box later on.... Meantime, I need to learn how to drill a hole and hang some of these lovely paintings!
Thanks for forwarding today's story to an artist, a stepmother, a daughter-in-law, or to someone you secretly admire! C'est l'amour qui fait tourner la terre (is that how to say "Love makes the world go round?")
Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi