A homemade tart by my mother-in-law offers a loving touch. I want my American family to feel cared for--pouponné!--when they stay with me this month. Tell us what makes you most comfortable when you are a guest in someone's home. Conversely, tell us ways you try to be a good guest. Click HERE to comment.
TODAY'S WORD: POUPONNER
: to dote, to look after
ECOUTER: Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce these French words:
Download MP3 or Wav
Quand vous avez des invités à la maison, comment faites-vous pour les pouponner?
When you have guests at the house, how do you dote after them?
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
by Kristi Espinasse
My mind is reeling with images of my brother-in-law in our bathtub. Now that I have your attention, would you please help me with my current obsession? (No, it is not my hunky beau-frère. It is my hunky French bathroom--the one that adjoins our bedroom (never mind you have to walk across the TV room and the foyer to reach it!). I love its original (and rough!) features: 50's bathtub, solo sink (still proudly sporting its sticker from the last century: "fabrication Française"), and even the shoe-box size triple mirror-pharmacy, over the sink, which is chipped around the edges after decades of use. (The sink has its own originality: you cannot set down your trousse de toilette, for one--and, second, it is placed beside the bidet (we use ours to soak laundry).
I am always trying to view our home through a visitor's lens. Depending on your international perspective, a few things may be amiss. In previous posts I've talked about the missing clothes dryer and a garbage disposal. But I no longer wish for those conveniences. In their absence, I have learned to make "black gold" (compost) from all the kitchen scraps, and I now find bucolic pleasure in hanging my family's laundry (that is, when our golden retriever, Smokey, isn't bursting my pastoral bubble--by leaving fresh "landmines" beneath the laundry line, making it necessary to dodge them as I hang the bath towels! Grrrh!)
Which brings me to another concern for my visiting family: les serviettes de bain. As I've told you before, our towels are as stiff as cardboard and scratchy as sandpaper after drying in the Provencal sun. Should I explain this to our guests...or just smile to myself when I hear the bathwater draining from the tub? Someone's in for a suprise! Aïe-aïe-aïe!
This all brings me back to those bath-time worries I told you about. Will my brother-in-law know how to use our tub like a Frenchman? (Sit down. Hold extendable shower nozzle over your head until drenched. Set down nozzle. Suds up and hurry up. Hot water is limited!)
A phone call from Dad last night reminded me that I need not worry about this. "Brad and Kelley can use my shower! But if they are staying in your room -- where will you and Jean-Marc stay? In the pigeon coop?"
Ouf! What a relief when guests work out the quirks among themselves, n'est-ce pas? (And no worries, Dad. Jean-Marc and I will make a cozy nest in his vineyard office--across the hall from Max, who will be staying below the pigeonnier while you and Marsha stay in his bedroom). This'll be like camp! "Camp Quick Bath for The Pigeons."
Speaking of we pigeons and our grooming schedules....Dad's comment reminds me of one last quirk: the upstairs shower he will now be sharing with Brad and Kelley. Owing to a blip in French construction (!!!), it is necessary to enter the shower sideways--and to suck in your stomach to clear the very narrow entrance.
Ah well! It is a quirky French house and I love it. I hope my family will too!
What are the quirks in your home and how do you get ready for guests? Tell me ways to make a guest feel at home--and tell me how you try to be a good guest when you stay with family and friends.
Click HERE to leave a comment.
le beau-frère = brother-in-law
trousse de toilette = toiletry bag, make-up bag
la serviette de bain = towel
aïe = ouch! ow! oh, dear!
ouf! = phew!
le pigeonnier = attick, garret, place where pigeons stay (dovecoat)
So happy to have contributed to the book, My Publishing Journey - a helpful tool for anyone who dreams of publishing their writing. Inside the book, you will find my essay on how I overcome writers block. Order your copy HERE.
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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