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Entries from June 2013

What is a "nappe" in French?

Dad and straw hat (c) Kristin Espinasse
The family hat. John bought it for Mom, in Mexico. Mom left it to me, in France. Marsha borrowed it in San Remo, and yesterday, while sitting out in the morning sun enjoying our coffee together, Dad asked: may I use your hat?

 

une nappe (nap)

    : tablecloth, sheet (layer)

la nappe phréatique = ground water, water table
la nappe de mazout = oil slick
la nappe de brouillard = layer of fog

In English--nappe refers to either the ability of a liquid to "coat the back of a spoon" or the act of coating a food (i.e. to nappe a leg of lamb with glaze). --Wikipedia

Dad in straw hat (c) Kristin Espinasse
While at the market in San Remo, my belle-mère Marsha saw this tablecloth. Les coquelicots! Poppies! It would be perfect for the faded metal table we use, on the front porch, where we have breakfast and dinner these days. Plus, it's plastified! You can use a sponge to clean it. And we did, when I spilled spaghetti sauce last night, and when my young friend and upcoming novelist--10-year-old Madeleine--spilled hot chocolate. These self-cleaning nappes are formidable!

That's all for today's word (more pictures below), you can read more about the word "nappe" in these stories from the French Word-A-Day archives: 

brader = to discount
coussin = cushion 
brusquer = to rush, hurry, hustle 

Now for more photos of Italy, where we spent the weekend with Dad and Marsha... 

Jean-Marc washing cherries at the fountain in St Remo Italy (c) Kristin Espinasse
Jean-Marc rinsing giant cherries in the fountain. He bought them at the market stall, after Marsha mentioned they were excellent for gout. 

Italian laundry in St Remo (c) Kristin Espinasse
Who needs one more laundry photo? There are so many, but it's hard to resist! Clotheslines remind me of the slow life, simple times, and eco-friendliness. Plus, they force you outdoors, if only for the time it takes to etendre le linge or hang out the wash. Depending on zoning laws, it may be illegal to hang out your laundry in your neck of the woods!

Dad and me (c) Marsha Ingham
My turn to wear the hat, and Dad has his trusty cap. Above, more laundry in the streets of San Remo, Italy. 

Plants and lace and charming Italian window (c) Kristin Espinasse
I love window vignettes! You'll find hundreds of them on this blog, including this one from a 2006 blog post on "10 ways to say No! in French". If you are a pushover, like me, that'll be a helpful article to read!

Forward this edition to a friend, and help spread the French word. Thanks! For more words, buy the book

Beach in St Remo Italy (c) Kristin Espinasse

 A clever floor runner! We also saw these coffee sacks used as wall paper at a local wine bar in San Remo. Repurposing is alive and well in eco-friendly Italy. To comment on a photo, or text, click here.

Superette or maraichere in Badalucco Italy (c) Kristin Espinasse

 Les poivrons, les haricots, de la laitue... peppers, beans, and lettuce in the hilltop village of Ceriana. The Italians love their produce and almost everywhere you look you'll find a kitchen garden. 

Photographing (c) Jean-Marc Espinasse

The camera lens turns on the photographer. Jean-Marc's iPhone rivals my Nikon D-60. Look at the crispness of those stones!

Flowers and church in Badalucco (c) Kristin Espinasse
Wonderful flowers outside what looked to be a nunnery facing this church.

Lunch at Il Ponte in Badalucco Italy - Kristin Espinasse

At Il Ponte Restaurant where Jean-Marc and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary. Ten years later and we brought these sweethearts with us to enjoy an unforgettable meal. No menus at Il Ponte. Just sit down and let Sergio bring you course after course of Ligurian deliciousness!

Jean-Marc and Dad talk to Il Ponte owner (c) Kristin Espinasse

Mr Sacks (Jean-Marc's side-kick ) came with us, of course! If only we had snuck a Tupperwear inside, we could have brought home leftovers!

Romaine lettuce for the garden from Badalucco farmers market (c) Kristin Espinasse

Jean-Marc and my dad. Time to drive home to France. Will the market lettuce (lots of baby romaine to plant) make the three-hour trip?  

Trompe l'oeil in Badalucco Italy (c) Kristin Espinasse
Did you enjoy your virtual travel to Liguria? It's not far from Nice, so next time you are in France why not cross the border and wander up to the magical hills of Italy's hinterland?

To comment on this edition, click here.

Many thanks for reading, and for forwarding this post to a friend! For the printed archives, go here.

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 
♥ Send $10    
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"I have enjoyed this blog for years and watched your children grow up. You are staying strong through all the changes. Merci pour tout."
--Betty D.


sejour + how to say "a nice change of scenery" in French

Vespa (c) Kristin Espinasse
My family and I stole away for a two-day séjour in Italy. C'était dépaysant, as the French say--or a nice "change of scenery".

Mas la Monaque: rent this beautiful French home

Mas la Monaque - Rent this beautifully restored 17-century farm. Click here for photos


un séjour (say-joor)

    1. stay
    2. living room, family room

bon séjour = have a nice stay
une carte de séjour = a residence permit
le titre de séjour = green card
le séjour linguistic = language study vacation
la salle de séjour = the living room 

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

My dad and my belle-mère  love the area where we live, here near Bandol. They'd be happy swimming in the sea and working in the garden for the duration of their trip. But it seemed to me that they should take advantage of their séjour by seeing one of our favorite, not-so-far-away places....

"Why don't you two take our car and visit Ventimilli?" I suggested. Only, almost as soon as I said it, I realized that I had the urge to visit Italy, too! "Better yet, why don't we go together?" 

So on Friday we left our teenagers to dog sit, and we drove three hours east to Italy, where the Friday farmers' market was underway.

Jean-Marc and Mr Sacks (c) Kristin Espinasse
Mr Sacks (lower right corner) came with us, too! And that's Jean-Marc about to buy the pair of olive green moccasins. We tried talking Dad into a pair, but he clung to his well-worn sandals, which he duct-taped back together before this trip.

(A short pause to thank our sponsors... followed by more photos, below)

“La Trouvaille”--a true find in Provence!  Affordable vacation rental in our beautiful old stone house in the charming village of Sablet.

Hotels in France. Visit EasyToBook.com to find the cheapest hotels in almost all France cities. 



Kristi and Marsha
Me and my belle-mère, Marsha, split with the men and wandered through the crowds, ending up at a peaceful park. I'm wearing the hat Dad bought me, and Marsha is wearing my mom's chapeau. Mom is tickled to share her things with Marsha, and asked me to tell my belle-mère to use her easel (both women paint) and her kayak, too. Quelle chance that my moms like each other so much.

Chit-chatting (c) Kristin Espinasse
The slow life in Italy. In the park we enjoyed these circular benches which surrounded all the palm trees. Just as charming were the Italian ladies who chatted about tout et rien

  seaside eatery - Kristin Espinasse
We stopped at a seaside eatery for pasta and when it was time to pay the waiter pointed to the bill and said "This (here) is tax and not the service (or built-in tip). You can leave the tip on the table." It was just an old trick to extract extra cash, Jean-Marc warned my dad. When confronted, the waiter changed his story, indicating that if we wished to leave extra (for the tip is indeed already included in the total price, as a service charge) then we could leave it on the table.... 

Italian woman (c) Kristin Espinasse
If the woman with a T-shirt on her head finds out I took her photo she might clobber me. But what she doesn't know is that she is a work of art. This is one of my favorite images from our trip--it re-ignites a passion for portrait-taking (only boldness is lacking, and to ask a stranger permission is to destroy the photoworthy moment).

The sea, beyond, was rough and when Jean-Marc and Dad went out for a swim they were carried down the coast by a rip tide! They easily reached the shore (near the little cove you see just beyond).  

antiques shop in St Remo, Italy (c) Kristin Espinasse
The next day we visited St. Remo, where another busy market was underway--and there were several antiques shops like this one....

Brocante or antiques shop in St Remo Italy
And this vintage boutique with the hand-painted shop sign.
 
Ring the buzzer (c) Kristin Espinasse
 I hope Dad doesn't mind all the photos I snap of him. So sometimes I'm sneaky... and pretend to focus on something else, like a set of door buzzers....

"For my door buzzer collection," I answer, when Dad looks curious about where I'm pointing my lens.

Dad and Marsha in St Remo (c) Kristin Espinasse
 "Dad and Marsha"--whoops, I mean, "a colorful Italian walkway" -- yes, that's what I'm focused on here, and not these sweethearts. 

supermoon 2013
We were looking at the night sky when Dad mentioned something about the supermoon--apparently this was the night to see one! This snapshot won't win the "supermoon" photo contests, but this is how the lune appeared on June 23rd in the town of St Remo, Italy.  

Comments
To leave a comment on this, or any other item in today's post click here. See you in a few days, with more French words and photos.

Forward this edition to a friend, and help spread the French word. Thanks! For more words, buy the book.

French Vocabulary: la belle-mère = step-mother (also mother-in-law); le séjour = stay, vacation; quelle chance = how lucky; tout et rien = everything and nothing; la lune = moon 

Mailboxes in Europe "the hedgehog" (c) Kristin Espinasse
"The inchworm and the hedgehog" - Another whimsical mailbox to add to the collection

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 
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  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I have enjoyed this blog for years and watched your children grow up. You are staying strong through all the changes. Merci pour tout."
--Betty D.


To spring for the bill (or how to say "it's on me" in French)

Quincaillerie or hardware store (c) Kristin Espinasse
An old hardware store in Les Arcs-sur-Argens... and another one in today's vignette.

Mas de la Perdrix - visit this charming rental in the south of FranceProvence Villa Rental Luberon luxury home; 4 bedrooms, 5 baths; gourmet kitchen, covered terrace & pool. Views of Roussillon. Click here.  

 

c'est moi qui paye (say-mwah-kee-pay)

    : it's on me

Example Sentence:
Non, mais tu rigoles? C'est moi qui paye!
Don't be silly. I'm paying for it! 

 

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

"I think the translation is 'hardware store'," I say to my dad as we enter our town's old quincaillerie.

My belle-mère nods her head: "I used to love hardware stores...."

As Marsha looks around the small boutique, I can see nostalgie in her eyes: "My kids would each choose something--they loved hardware stores too!"

"They sell all kinds of things here," I point out. "Look there's a wicker panier... and a potato peeler... and some curtain rods.... And over there you can get a new key made. It's the everything store," I say, as our eyes comb the walls of the narrow shop, filled to the brim with machin-trucs, or doodads. 

Speaking of dads, I feel a little guilty for dragging mine into the "everything" store, after our latest shopping sprees: we've been to the butcher's--for cordon bleu and beignets de courgettes--and to the market for a hat and a dress!

"You shouldn't have to pay for everything," I say to my dad, as the shopkeeper adds up the bill (we've bought furniture polish, a static duster, and a can of WD-40 that Dad wants to use to repair the creaky doors on my car).

"We have such a lovely free hotel..." Marsha says, "it is the least we can do!" my belle-mère's twinkling eyes meet my Dad's, and the latter can't help but agree. The shopkeeper seems to agree too and he snaps up two more bills from Dad's wallet

 As the transaction comes to a close, the shop's cat, "Fefield" (from Felix and Garfield--his family couldn't make up their minds) looks up from his post beneath the canned paint. He stretches his legs and yawns as the sentimental tourists leave his shop.

***

French Vocabulary

la belle-mère = step-mom

la nostalgie = nostalgia

le panier = basket

le machin-truc = a doodad or whatchamacallit

 le beignet de courgette = zucchini fritter

Sponsor an edition of French Word-A-Day

“La Trouvaille”--a true find in Provence!  Affordable vacation rental in our beautiful old stone house in the charming village of Sablet.

 Exercises in French Phonics...bestseller on French pronunciation and how to pronouce French words correctly!

  How much is that Dad in the window? (c) Kristin Espinasse
Dad and his morning coffee. He's in the family room, where Marsha is answering an email to her grandson, Aaron. I can hear her giggling reading Aaron's message. 

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Three shades of bleu: sky blue, t-shirt blue, ping pong table blue. (Dad and Marsha love playing ping pong with their grandchildren).

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That hat Marsha and Dad bought me. It's hanging on the window, waiting for another stroll out to the garden, or a picnic. Speaking of lunch... I'm off now to see about those left-over cordon bleus... See you next week! Enjoy your weekend :-)

To comment on this post, click here.

Jackie and Grandpère Kip (c) Kristin Espinasse
A couple of fish, poolside. Love this snapshot of Dad and Jackie (taken in 2003 when Jackie was 5 years old). By the way, did I tell you my dad is a famous actor?

(Just kidding--but he is a star in his daughter's heart!)

Droguerie in Orange, France (c) Kristin Espinasse
Is there a difference between a droguerie and a quincaillerie? To comment on this, or any other item in today's edition, click here.


Chez Eugenie - Bazar - Mercerie in St. Tropez (c) Kristin Espinasse
Then again, a bazar / mercerie seems to carry the kind of things a droguerie or a quincaillerie carries... are they synonyms of each other: quincaillerie - mercerie - droguerie? See the comments or share one. (Photo taken in St. Tropez)

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 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I have enjoyed this blog for years and watched your children grow up. You are staying strong through all the changes. Merci pour tout."
--Betty D.


How to say "snapshot" in French + photos from Sanary-sur-Mer

Raviolis Pates Fraiches in Sanary-sur-Mer (c) Kristin Espinasse
"Soda Pop". The cliché, above, was an accidental self portrait taken while focusing on the bigger picture. It will remain a whimsical and wonderful souvenir of my visit with Dad. Note: Pop and I aren't really drinking sodas (and I never call Dad "pop", except to name this photo): that's a can of water in my left hand and a camera in my right. Dad's holding a can of beer. Did you know you can walk around a seaside town in France, beer in hand? But you cannot drink beer at a snack stand unless you have ordered food. It's French law, according to the snack stand owner.

Rent an apartment in Monaco
Villa Royale apartment in Monaco. Large studio with beautiful sea views in the residential district of Beausoleil.  See photos.


un cliché (klee-shay)
 

    : snapshot

Other ways to say snapshot: un instantané or une photo

 Note, un cliché, is also:

...une figure de style qui consiste en l'emploi d'une expression « stéréotypée » et banale à force d'utilisation dans la langue. A figure of speech consisting of a stereotypical expression that becomes banal after overuse in a language. (Wikipedia entry for cliché)

Jean-Marc and Kristin Espinasse (c) Marsha Ingham

Les hôtes. The hosts. For the first time in a long time it feels like summertime. Having family come to visit means pulling oneself away from the computer and stepping outside to enjoy life. Jean-Marc said to me the other day, I'm really enjoying your Dad and Marsha's visit! They are so fun, helpful, and discreet.

Marsha and Dad in Sanary sur Mer (c) Kristin Espinasse
My belle-mère, Marsha, and my Dad in Sanary. They're pretending to be part of this still life trompe l'oeil. They enjoy life as kids do--having found each other later in life, some 25 years after Dad and my mom divorced. They've been married 19 years now.

My mom is a big fan of Marsha's and says that Marsha is the best thing that ever happened to my Dad. (See a photo of Mom and Marsha, near the end of this post). 

Cinema or movie theater in Sanary sur mer (c) Kristin Espinasse

"Cinema ABC..." I love to listen to my Dad read signs as we stroll along the sidewalks of Sanary. 

Dad and me in Sanary-sur-Mer (c) Kristin Espinasse
Dad and me. I love photos of walking--ever since seeing a black and white photo of my grandparents in Greece. Marsha snapped this cliché: a souvenir of a father-daughter moment, a visual I'll enjoy forever and one I'll pass on to my own grandchildren. 

More photos, below, after a message from our longtime sponsors:

Provence Dreamin'? Maison des Pelerins, Sablet. A Vacation Rental Dream in the heart of the Côte du Rhone.

Hotels in France. Visit EasyToBook.com to find the cheapest hotels in almost all France cities.

 

Dove and trompe l'oeil in Sanary sur mer (c) Kristin Espinasse
Another trompe-l'oeil in Sanary. This one's a turtle dove or a pigeon... which reminds me of how fascinated we were watching a municipal worker walk out to the docks and pour a giant sack of bird seed in one long, neat row. Arriving from all four corners of Sanary, pigeons swooped in and settled beside their free lunch. Talk about a soup kitchen for pigeons!

chihuahua in sanary sur mer (c) Kristin Espinasse
Marsha spotted the chihuahua in the window of an elegant residence overlooking the port. "Be careful of what you think you don't want--you might just end up with one!" Marsha giggled. Having only ever had big dogs... a certain Papillon name Ladybug pitter-pattered into her heart several years ago. 

chihuahuas at the market (c) Kristin Espinasse
One, two, three, four more chihuahuas at the market. These guys are not for sale (just the nightshirts, for 10 euros) yet have the effect of stopping shoppers in their tracks. 

DSC_0302
Marsha and Dad bought me the khaki-colored one hanging near the end.. and a dress too! I put it on the dress when we returned from the market, before we sat down for Father's Day lunch. Happy Father's Day week to all who celebrate. I am so lucky to have spent the day with my dad this year. We have 10 more days together and I'm off now, to profiter--or make the most of every moment with him and my belle-mère Marsha.  Thanks for reading and see you soon. To comment, click here.

DSC_0419
Notice the name of the boat... and enjoy this end quote: Pour bien vivre, bien aimer et laisser direTo live well, love well and let others say what they will. (Quote found written across a modest picket fence in Italy)

Correction: Sorry for the confusion but, in the previous post, the translation for belle-mère should be (in this case) "step-mother" or "step-mom" and not "mother-in-law". I so often write about my mother-in-law that I automatically added the oft-used translation. 

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 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I have enjoyed this blog for years and watched your children grow up. You are staying strong through all the changes. Merci pour tout."
--Betty D.


How to say "stranded" in French?

A calanque somewhere in the south... (c) Kristin Espinasse
A calanque is an inlet from the sea, ideal for walking your dog, picnics, and snorkeling!

Mas de la Perdrix - visit this charming rental in the south of FranceProvence Villa Rental Luberon luxury home; 4 bedrooms, 5 baths; gourmet kitchen, covered terrace & pool. Views of Roussillon. Click here.  


être coincé (etruh-kwen-say)

    : to be stranded

Audio File: listen to Jean-Marc: Download MP3 or Wav

Nous avons été coincés deux fois cette semaine: une fois sur la mer et une fois sur la terre.
We were stranded twice this week: once at sea and once on land. 

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

My dad and my belle-mère arrived on Saturday for a three week visit, ready for a month of surprises.... 

Stranded Twice in One Week
When Jean-Marc offered to take Kip and Marsha out on a boat ride along le littoral, my family were game. (I stayed behind, not because of the previous scare... but because I wanted to avoid any more sun.)

As I drove to Sanary-sur-Mer to meet my family for lunch I began to notice all the white caps across the sea. Arriving at the cove where we were to meet, I found it empty and guessed Jean-Marc must have had to anchor in the previous port of Bandol. But as I turned to get back into my car, I saw the boat stranded on the beach!

My dad was drenched and he and my belle-mère, Marsha--along with 6 beachgoers (who had swum out to help pull the windswept boat to shore)--were busy assisting Jean-Marc.

The boat secured, we huddled into a seaside cafe for lunch. But when my dad could not warm up, we let him thaw inside my car (nice and hot from the sunshine!). During the 15 minutes it took to bring Dad's temperature back to normal, I sat in the driver's seat, learning the story of their sea adventure, which began smoothly (in time to enjoy a swim at Port d'Alon) until they carried on towards Sanary... where they suddenly encountered all those white caps, or moutons.

Next it was a flat tire...
The next day we joined Phyllis Adatto and Tim Smith, our wine-importing friends from Texas, for a visit to Chateau Margui and La Mascarone. Only, while exiting the first vineyard along a long and secluded dirt road, Jean-Marc hit a nid de poule and blew out one of our front tires.

Philippe, the owner of Chateau Margui (along with his lovely wife and winemaker, Marie-Christine), rescued us. We all piled into his red van, some of us sitting on wine cartons, others on duffel bags full of Philippe's diving gear.

Piano-Piano, or "slowly slowly"
Yesterday we took things piano-piano. Marsha and Dad snorkled in a nearby calanque and Jean-Marc finally took the time to treat his jelly fish bite (or what he calls his yelly fish bite), a souvenir from that stormy trek to Sanary.

One more thing
My mother-in-law and I share a growing interest in permaculture--and are having fun mapping out a forest garden. Early this morning Marsha followed Jean-Marc up the hill, to see the bees, when the two discovered a giant stone tank. We had noticed the stone wall, during previous walks, but never realized it was part of an old water reservoir. The discovery is serendipitous as we have been thinking over ways to trap water (or to create un étang to attract insects and wildlife).

How to Say Water Chestnut in French?
So I'll say goodbye, now, and see if my belle-mère would like to hike over to a newly discovered watering hole, and dream about a new host of plant possibilities: water lilies, water chestnuts, and even buttercups!

Wishing you all a lovely weekend, and thanks for reading!

Kristin

To leave a comment, click here.

French Vocabulary

la belle-mère = step-mother (can also mean "mother-in-law")
le littoral = sea coast
le mouton = white cap (also means sheep)
un nid de poule = pot hole
un étang = pond 

Please help me welcome our new sponsor...

“La Trouvaille”--a true find in Provence!  Affordable vacation rental in our beautiful old stone house in the charming village of Sablet.

 

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Jackie and her grandfather, catching up

DSC_0295
Marsha and Dad, outside the tasting room at Chateau Margui, near Brignoles

DSC_0309
Philippe, who rescued us after the flat tire--and his biggest fan, daughter Pearle.

DSC_0312
One garden's beginnings: the last of the favas--but the snow peas are ready to pick. The zucchinis are growing, raspberries too, and roquette, or arugula.... Very excited to have planted comfrey yesterday. I hear it is a good "chop and drop" fertilizer. Comments welcome here.

DSC_0313
Belle-mère Marsha helped me rearrange the furniture. See a before picture (scroll way down this page. You will also see my beautiful mom!)

DSC_0323
Jean-Marc and Dad making dinner above the kitchen garden.

DSC_0325
We had Phyllis and Tim, of French Country Wines, over for dinner. Marsha set the table... then ran back to the house and carted out one of my mom's paintings. How thoughtful! (Mom, it felt like you were here!)

Phyllis pictures kristi2
Phyllis Adatto took this picture of me. Marsha picked the wildflowers and made a gorgeous bouquet. The vase was a gift from my Mom and John.

 Kristi-dad-marsha-phyllis
And you will find many more pictures at Phyllis and Tim's album "Our visit with the Espinasses". You can read Tim's account of our vineyard visits, here .

To comment on this edition, click here.


 

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 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I have enjoyed this blog for years and watched your children grow up. You are staying strong through all the changes. Merci pour tout."
--Betty D.


What's a "marsouin"? + kitchen garden tour!

les annonces dans la fenetre (c) Kristin Espinasse
A wild boar, a hedgehog, a dog... lion... chicken. I can't find a photo of a porpoise to illustrate today's word--thankfully these furry and feathery volunteers behind a shop window are happy to pose as one. (And the handwritten ads were taped to the window by students looking for work).
Paris Monaco Rentals

France and Monaco Rentals: short-term holiday rental properties throughout France and Monaco. Photos here.

 

le marsouin (mar-swehn)

 : porpoise 

In old French le marsouin was pourpois (poisson-cochon, or fish-pig)

Audio File: listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the following sentence Download MP3 or Wav file

Le marsouin est aussi appelé le cochon de mer.
The porpoise is also called the sea pig.

Porpoises are related to dolphins and whales. Do you have any other trivia or something to add for this marsouin entry? Do you collect marsouins or have you ever seen one? Where? Thanks for sharing here in the comments box. 

 

Entrance to kitchen garden, or potager (c) Kristin Espinasse

Smokey says Come along on a garden tour with me...

How to say arugula in French (c) Kristin Espinasse
And see poppies, roquette, and zucchini!

Kale, cucumbers, fava beans (c) Kristin Espinasse
Inside the stone beds there are cucumbers, kale, and lots of fèves

Stone restanque (c) Kristin Espinasse
There are stairs leading up to an ancient rock wall... once hidden behind masses of thorny brambles. 

King of the hill (c) Kristin Espinasse
That's me, says Smokey, humble King of the Hill. 

DSC_0296
And these are tomatoes, peppers, and poppies from the field. 

Butiner or pollin gathering in French (c) Kristin Espinasse
Here's how bees and hummingbirds pollinate. Help save these creatures--allez make haste!

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Raspberries and soucis, or marigolds... does the latter really work or is that an old wives' tale?


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 Some of the materials have been reporpoised. (Sorry to interrupt your story, Smokey, but the word you are looking for is "repurposed".) 

Smokey: This re- re-puh... re-puh... reporpoised wood comes from the French railroad tracks below our house. 

Tourguide (c) Kristin Espinasse
Hope you enjoyed my garden tour. Be kind to bees, purposes, and the earth.

(Smokey, I think you meant "porpoises" this time.)

***

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Future kitchen garden (c) Kristin Espinasse
Back in February, Jean-Marc and I planned out the garden. But we didn't always see eye to eye...

  Working-in-garden
This old panier has had many reincarnations: once used in a produce shop, it has since held bath towels, dried herbs, fresh pots of lavender, bottles of shampoo and bath supplies. Currently it holds a tie from a bale of straw, the string could now be used to tie up the tomatoes... or mend a broken corner of the basket....

To comment on today's edition, click here. 

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 
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"I have enjoyed this blog for years and watched your children grow up. You are staying strong through all the changes. Merci pour tout."
--Betty D.


How to say mermaid in French?

Calanque near Cassis (c) Kristin Espinasse
Jean-Marc took this photo while out fishing for daurade (sea bream or porgy). He brought back some bulots, or whelk, instead. I'll try to post a picture soon. Meantime, has a friend forwarded you this post? Sign up to receive this French word journal directly in your inbox.

Mas de la Perdrix - visit this charming rental in the south of FranceProvence Villa Rental Luberon luxury home; 4 bedrooms, 5 baths; gourmet kitchen, covered terrace & pool. Views of Roussillon. Click here.  

la sirène (see-ren)

    : mermaid, siren
.
sirène des pompiers = firefighter siren
la petite sirène = the little mermaid


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

I have never stepped foot inside my husband's boat--that is, until a few days ago. My plan was to wait until the newby captain had logged several dozen hours on board--working out potential disasters. In this way I've escaped one incident of stranding (he and a buddy were just off the coast of Bandol when the motor died), and one minor shipwreck (he and another buddy were trying to anchor in a local calanque when they came too close to the rocky shoreline...).

But on her day of departure, after a 4-week visit in France, it was decided that a balade en mer would be a memorable way to send off Mom. We'd have plenty of time for a boat ride in the morning, then a light lunch at home before heading to the airport.

"Come on, Kristi. Let's Go!" Mom's joy was catching and off I went--as enthusiastic as an officer walking a plank.

Just like an officer--and from the moment we arrived in the marina--I began spouting directions.

"Jean-Marc--you need to turn around!" I shrieked as he drove onto the narrow boardwalk, causing cafe-goers to jump back, taking their seats and their tables with them.

From behind the wheel of our family van, my husband informed me "This is the entrance to the dock!" 

Mom poked me in the side, whispering. "This is his domain, Honey, Let him work it out."

She was right. I'd better relax--or join the others in the café, watching my family go out to sea without me. 

No sooner had Jean-Marc pulled up to the loading zone than Mom flew out of the car--excited to help out. I watched her grab the boat cushions--her carte blanche to begin chatting up the local sailors. I noticed how many off the locals included beautiful blonds... who draped themselves along the dock, like pretty sirènes. A low growl in my throat as we passed them made my Mom laugh, "Well, now you won't be sitting home while he's at the marina!" 

We followed our good-looking captain past a line of wooden fishing boats to the end of the quai where our semi-rigide was squooshed between two larger boats. That's when Mom lept from the dock, landing in the pneuboat

"Mom! BE CAREFUL!" I shouted.

"Give me your hand!" Mom motioned for me to shut up and get in the boat. I might have been impressed with her authority if she wasn't swaying in the rocking boat, about to lose her balance. 

"Hold on to the side!" I called, jumping in beside her. My throat was pulsing from the excitement of a near slip of my own, and I clutched the little rope that lined the inside of the boat.

As Jean-Marc backed the boat out of the cramped slip, Mom took on the role of First Mate. I watched as she pushed our vessel away from the others, until we were released from the tangle of boats.

I was impressed by Mom's participation--given that she has suffered a lifetime fear of water. She was clearly putting her phobia aside in time to enjoy our last day together. But as we motored out to sea, a nascent fear arose within me.

"Did you see those waves?" I asked the tiny crew. 

"Don't worry, Honey." Mom demonstrated by throwing her legs over the side of  as she lay down to relax in the bow of the boat.

I hated to be a worrywort. It was so uncool. I thought about those gorgeous sirènes--letting it all hang out along the dock. They were cool--and, no matter how challenged, I would be too! I had a prized seat and didn't want to lose it to some halter-topped pouffe!

Zipping up my windbreaker, I began to notice how close we were to the water, which was more and more troubled. Suddenly our boat seemed more like a flimsy raft. As the little boat went over more and more bumps I realized it wouldn't take much to eject Mom!

"Mom! Sit up and hold on to the rope!" I shouted. "Did you notice how there are no other boats out today?" I questioned Jean-Marc, as I watched the sea begin to rise here and there. 

"Don't worry," he assured me. I studied Mom's face to see if she was worried yet. A moment later she spoke up:

"Shouldn't we put those in?" She was pointing to the little buoys that were flopping outside the boat.  

"You can if you like," Jean-Marc said, underplaying the omission. Next I watched wide-eyed as, standing behind the wheel of the boat, still navigating, Jean-Marc bent sideways -- reaching down into the water to pull in a buoy.

"Jean-Marc!" I protested. 

Mom yanked in the front buoys as Jean-Marc--one hand on the wheel--reached out of the boat for the last buoy. But what if he lost his balance -- and tumbled into the water? Then Mom and I would be headed towards Africa--in a vessel without a captain!

There was no time to think about being lost at sea. Looking ahead my heart began to thump as I watched the water rise.

When it rose high enough for me to imagine a line of surfers riding the wave, I could easily imagine our "raft" turned upside down.

"Enough is enough! TURN THIS BOAT AROUND!

"Yah," Mom seconded. "I'm ready to head back!"

If Jean-Marc was concerned he didn't show it, but remained the picture of calm--which assured me. The boat now turned around, I watched as the port grew bigger and bigger and I could make out the "mermaids" hanging out at the marina. I was never so happy to see the old threat, and I relaxed remembering my husband's words:

"Mais c'est toi ma jolie sirène."

***
To leave a comment, click here. 

French vocabulary

la calanque = rocky inlet
la balade en mer = sea excursion
la sirène = mermaid
le quai = platform
un semi-rigide = inflatable boat
un pneuboat = synonym for semi-rigit boat 
une pouffe (slang) = bimbo
mais c'est toi ma jolie sirène = but you are my pretty mermaid 

Please help me welcome our new sponsor...

“La Trouvaille”--a true find in Provence!  Affordable vacation rental in our beautiful old stone house in the charming village of Sablet.

Jean-Marc (c) Kristin Espinasse
My old man and the sea.

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Another sirène. (Miss you Mom!)

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Sorry for the blur, but during the exciting and bumpy ride the camera was reset . To leave a comment click here.

 

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 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I have enjoyed this blog for years and watched your children grow up. You are staying strong through all the changes. Merci pour tout."
--Betty D.


tarpin!

Pastry maker in Orange (c) Kristin Espinasse

Random photo... and nothing to do with the BIG FAVOR I want to ask you--except to butter you up. (Will pastry butter do the trick?) I've just joined Goodreads, a site where bookworms hang out and share what they're reading. I invite you to connect with me there and (here's the favor part) add my books to your "want to read" list--but only if you really want to read them! And thanks if you've done so already, helping to highlight the books' existence in a crowded sea of reads. Mille mercis!

Mas la Monaque: rent this beautiful French home

Mas la Monaque - Rent this beautifully restored 17-century farm. Click here for photos

.
tarpin   (tar-pahn)

    : very, so, too (i.e. very kind, so kind, too kind)

 Elle est tarpin sympa! She's so nice!

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

I'll start this series of mini-anecdotes with  a word learned from my 15-year-old:

Tarpin!
I read somewhere recently that teens are growing weary of Facebook. It looks like my days of gleaning French vocab from my daughter's FB timeline are numbered... meantime, enjoy these:

  1. tarpin! It's a regional (southern) word and a synonym for "very"--i.e.  Elle est tarpin a-d-o-r-a-b-l-e! (She's so adorable!)
  2. peuchère is defined here
  3. mdr = mort de rire (French equivalent of LOL, or laugh out loud) 


Go Like This

For those of you who envy our relationship, you should know that Mom and I do get on each other's nerves. My controlling side grates on her (i.e. "Mom, how many cups of coffee have you had this morning?" and "You can't ask that stranger for a cigarette! Where's your Nicorette? What's that? You've stuck it on the rim of your wineglass so that you could eat your crème brûlée? But you can't do that with your gum at a restaurant!).

As for me, I get flustered by Mom's fussing....

"Go like this!" Mom says, scratching the side of her mouth. I reach up to swipe another crumb off my face.

"Go like this," Mom says, this time pointing to her front tooth. It seems I've got tapenade stuck between mine.

"Go like this," Mom motions, running her fingers through her hair.

"Mom!" I object. "Laisse moi tranquille!

"I think it's an ant, Honey. Let me get it for you."

And on I go, slapping my head, swatting my cheeks, and brushing my finger across my teeth

(Does your Mom do this? Or your wife?)


Timber!
 After Mom missed her flight to Mexico (Yea! won another precious day together), she gladly volunteered to help Jean-Marc prune a great almond tree in the garden, taking the opportunity to teach him some English (the lively exclamation Timber!) Only, it was another word that flew out of Jean-Marc's mouth as a giant branch came rushing down--sideswiping my husband, who landed--with the branch--on the ground. As he cursed the diable for another dislocated shoulder (his 5th!), it was now our time to learn some French. Putain de MEEEERRRRDDDDDE!

Rushing JM to ER, I steered clear of a sensitive topic (bricolage or DIY hazards). JM seemed grateful for my silence and didn't dare whimper during the bumpy ride to the ER--no matter how painful it is to luxer son épaule!

 
Cruisin'
Max passed his driver's exam and now I'm sharing my car with our 18-year-old!  One kid's freedom is a parent's limitation and I will need to keep a closer eye on my schedule or end up stranded at home when I really need to be at the centre d'équitation, to pick up my daughter from her riding lesson!

Sun-lounger (or "lawnchair," as we say back home)
Here's the photo I forgot to post in the chaise-longue edition, causing some confusion ("Weren't chaises-longues the kind of chairs where you could put up your feet?" you say (and not like the chair featured in the opening photo"?). Yes indeed:

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To leave a comment on this post, or to read one, click here and thanks in advance.


Thanks for visiting our sponsors:

Provence Dreamin'? Maison des Pelerins, Sablet. A Vacation Rental Dream in the heart of the Côte du Rhone.

Hotels in France. Visit EasyToBook.com to find the cheapest hotels in almost all France cities.

Stylin Smokey (c) Kristin Espinasse
Join me on Twitter for the latest, such as this morning's update: Sweetpeas for breakfast--plucked straight from vine that climbs dog pen. Hope Smokey didn't have sweet "pees" before I showed up to harvest....

(Now to get a photo of those sugar snap peas, or mangetouts--and quit confusing you with photos that don't match the subject!)

  Pinhats or pin the hat on the ear, Smokey Dear (c) Kristin Espinasse

"Fascinators" (and I thought they were called "pin hats"). By the way, all those stylish pin hat fascinator-wearers have nothing on Smokey, who managed to balance his trilby on the side of his head, like an English duchess.

Capture plein écran 05062013 120806In books: Paris-Chien: Adventures of an Ex-Pat Dog 

Charming! (c) Kristin Espinasse
To leave one of those photo "thought bubbles" for Smokey, click here and share it in the comments box.

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 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I have enjoyed this blog for years and watched your children grow up. You are staying strong through all the changes. Merci pour tout."
--Betty D.