My beautiful sister, and Mom's first-born, Heidi (right). Our mom, Jules, painted the quail and my mother-in-law, Michèle-France, gave me the owl (next to the rosary and the purse). Voilà... just another family photo. Do you sniff homesickness?
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la soeur (sir)
: sister; nun
Audio File: listen to today's French word as well as the following expressions: Download MP3 or Wav file
l'âme soeur = soul mate
la belle-soeur = sister-in-law
la demi-soeur = half sister
la petite soeur or soeur cadette or, la soeurette = little sister
Ma soeur aînée s'appelle Heidi. The name of my older sister is Heidi.
la soeur jumelle = twin sister
la soeur de race = soul sister
la soeur de lait = foster sister
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse
00-1-602.... Please pick up the phone... I whisper, dialing my sister's cell. This isn't an emergency—I just want to hear her voice.
"Hey, Kristi!" my sister answers, and the melody in her greeting tells me she's got time to chat. In fact, she'll even call me right back—on her nickel.
I relax back into the pillows that are propped up against the wall where I might have put a headboard had I gotten my renovation act together—or followed through with my vow to tackle tiny projects (like the inspired centerpiece or the corner office).
This time my phone rings and my sister's voice drowns out my restless thoughts. I begin to wonder where Heidi is. She certainly wouldn't be languishing in bed staring at the cracks in the wall.... She'd be at the hardware store with her bullet list!
I laugh when Heidi tells me she is sitting in her car, waiting for the pet store to open. She needs dog food for Winston and Truly, her sheepdogs, or chiens de berger anglais. (Took me forever to figure out what these dogs are called in French. But then I'm lazy.)
The idea that my sister is out of croquettes is strangely inspiring. She has the sort of household where the roll of garbage bags is located at the base of the garbage can: efficient, functioning. Only lately, since her divorce, has it begun to dawn on me that she doesn't have everything covered all the time. How could she?
"Me too! I chirp. "We're all out of dog food too!"
"Yeah," Heidi continues. "I was about to toss together some rice, some bouillon, and some dog biscuits and get by another day..."
There is something so heartening in finding out that your sister who gets-things-done (she's an Aries) has considered the same lazy solution as you have: wingin' it with the dog food.
"That's exactly what I was about to do!" I laugh, "only I was going to use pasta and some dried up ham that the kids were supposed to eat. I'll have to try the soup/rice/dog biscuit idea sometime!"
"It works when there's no other solution but it's not good for the dogs' digestive tracts," Heidi warns me, letting me in on why she's waiting in the store parking lot before opening hours.
I was kinda hoping she would have gone ahead with the throw-it-together dog mix, like me. But she's doing the best she can, and I could do as much. I grab my car keys and head out into the night. While my sister's market is about to open, mine is about to close. I hate that we live an ocean apart, but it comforts me to know that Heidi is always there for me and that sometimes, coincidentally, we are doing the very same thing—like running out of croquettes.
Such synchronicity is the next best thing to being together, and if I close my eyes I can almost hear my sister in the supermarket aisle, ever looking out for me. "Get that one," she says, "the dogs will love it and it's on sale!"
My sister, Heidi, with my nephew, Payne. Heidi is an associate broker at Coldwell Banker.
I rarely write about my older sister (the one everyone guesses to be younger than I), though you'll find a tender scene here or there in the story archives:
"...my sister Heidi and I, pint-sized Thelma and Louises at the age of 13- and 9-years-old, used to careen across the dusty desert floor, tumbleweeds spinning in our wake. With Heidi at the wheel, we killed time... this after a breakfast of burritos and beer...." (an excerpt from the story Camionnette. Read it here)
I also refer to Heidi in this poem, "We Three":
...I had a sister who was prettier than I.
Jackie looks like her...
Another picture of my sister, here.
Heidi's sheepdogs, Winston and Truly. Have a minute for another story, about an endearing figure in French pop culture & beyond? You will learn a word that you will want to sing time and again, "Yalla!" Read my story about Soeur Emmanuelle, click here.
It may be cold and snowing (two days ago...) here in the South of France—and the sunflower seeds may still be dormant, planted last week one-inch below the surface of the earth—but it is always the season to give your sister tournesols. Picture taken a few years back, near Joncquières (Vaucluse).
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