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Entries from October 2016

Pumpkin in French - And "Plan C" (living in an RV?)

La Citrouille Pumpkin

Une citrouille, in French, is a pumpkin (and a pumpkin is also a potiron). But in today's story, une citrouille  is a mode of transportation...and we're not talking about a Citroën!

TODAY'S WORD: Une Citrouille

    : pumpkin
    : head (synonym, in French, for citrouille)

la citrouille d'Halloween = jack-o'-lantern
la tarte à la citrouille = pumpkin pie


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ECOUTEZ hear Jean-Marc pronounce Citrouille Download MP3

Une Citrouille. Et si Kristi et moi, on vous rendait visite dans un RV ou dans une citrouille?
Pumpkin. And what if Kristi and I visited you in an RV or in a pumpkin?

French-country-diary-2017
French Country Diary -
everyone's favorite calendar and it makes a great gift: Click here to order


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristi Espinasse

A realtor and some interested buyers showed up Saturday, to visit our home and vineyard. This latest development threatens to throw a clog, or sabot,  into Plan B
--sabotaging my chance to rent this farmhouse, and so keep it for ourselves!

Standing beside our withering bougainvillea which once boasted bright fuchsia leaves,  I pasted a welcoming smile on my face as I studied the buyers. She was a brunette,  a natural beauty à la Jacqueline Bisset. He was a tall, boyishly handsome CEO. Both around our age (not yet 50).  The Parisians spent an hour visiting our home and vineyard at which point the man looked at me and said, 

"Vous avez fait de très très bon travail ici! You have done some very good work here!"

I wished Jean-Marc were around to hear that compliment! It might have revived his dream of creating this vineyard in Bandol. Hélas, my husband was away working part-time at a wine shop in Marseilles. (Most people don't earn a living owning vineyard. It helps to have a side job. Jean-Marc has two of them!)

The couple  turned to leave. I watched them walk happily down the driveway,  past the row of blueberries I planted last spring, past the lilacs and the felled mimosa (which reappeared last year in a most hopeful display of new growth). The buyers disappeared behind the burgeoning mimosa and I  could not see what kind of car they got into. But it might as well have been a golden carriage! For I was keenly aware of just how quickly my fairy tale French dream could be given to another to enjoy endlessly! 

I needed to sit down. The edge of the garden beds offered a familiar perch. As I rested beside the strawberries, carrots, and ciboulette, I inhaled the familiar earthy perfume and ran my hand over the green leafy bed. "This is an experimental garden," I had offered, earlier, as the couple looked around the unruly jungle. All those "experiments" were my joie de vivre, my new-found raison d'être. Like Willy Wonka in his Chocolate Factory,  I thrived among my garden's quirks, wonders and grand possibilities! With its backdrop of a stone farmhouse and, beyond, the sea, this environment has been, for four years now, a real life fantasy.

 I was staring at one of the pumpkins which had wrapped its vine around an antique chair of my belle-mère's... when a Willy Wonkian possibility came to me: PLAN C !

("C" for Citrouille!)

Plan C honors Jean-Marc's need to see new horizons--along with my need to be anchored to the sweet-scented earth.

Plan "C" rhymes with  RV (and, come to think of it, with "citrouille")!

Staring into my garden pumpkin, it became at once a globe and a vehicle (it worked for Cinderella, could it work for JM, Smokey and me?). I could see us traveling across America, as you readers have suggested. Because I will miss my organic garden and the fruits of the harvest, why not make GARDEN HOPPING the theme of our voyage?

My dream would then be to visit organic gardens across the USA! Jean-Marc and I could stop by your garden or potager and sink our hands into the good earth.  Would you let us take a few supplies for the road? An apple? Some parsley? A rutabaga (something I've never grown!) And therein lies the magic - to continue to grow and learn. To expand this experimental garden from one end of the States to the other!

Can you just picture our RV with a row of plants (aloe vera, rosemary, and why not a lemon and an avocado seedling?) tied behind the windshield and a smiling driver and copilots just beyond?  Can you see Smokey, buckled into the back seat?)

So what do you say, Dear Reader? Can we come dig in your garden? (We want to see you even if you don't have a garden, in which case we'll share some canned green-beans from the previous garden visit!)

Now to deck out this pumpkin-on-wheels, below, with some plants, some cots, a shower, a W.-C., and my dear family! In the comments (link below) let me know your thoughts. Mille mercis! In case I haven't told you lately, That's a thousand thanks in French!

 

Kristi driving ape truck

FRENCH VOCABULARY
hélas = unfortunately
la ciboulette = chives
joie de vivre = joy of life
raison d'être = reason for being
la belle-mère = mother-in-law (also step-mother)
le potager = kitchen garden, vegetable garden

Smokey sheep
Smokey, on the road. "Oh the things we will see!"

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this post. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving this journal. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Kristin, Your tips and experiences on French and life in France are the best resources I can think of to keep my French alive."
--Amy


Rent Our French farmhouse? Your Year in Provence? + Faire des courses

French-country-diary-2017

French Country Diary - everyone's favorite calendar and it makes a great gift: Click here for the French Country Diary 2017


TODAY'S WORD: faire des courses


   : to go shopping

   : to run errands


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FRANCE & MONACO We offer exclusive short-term holiday rental properties throughout France and Monaco. Click here.


ECOUTEZ -
Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's phrase: Download Faire-des-courses

Faire des courses. Chérie, je pars faire des courses.
To run some errands. Darling, I'm going to run some errands.



A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristi Espinasse


Last week I received an accidental reply, an email not meant for my eyes. This happens (I think) when subscribers try to forward my newsletter to a friend...but hit the other button instead. It often makes for colorful reading, on my end, except when it doesn't, as when this subscriber wrote the following email to her friend (concerning my recent post):

Miam-miam?
I mean, really
Time to discontinue. Unless one is interested in her personal saga, there is nothing to be learned.


"Nothing to be learned?" "Her personal saga?"

I disagree with the first comment! As for the second, I can see how some readers would agree--readers who have recently signed on (as had the reader, above...) or readers who take into account certain stories (I have spoken about my skin cancer, yes, a saga!).  And yet I see this this 14-year chronicle of our French life as an overall lighthearted story.

Today,  we take a break from The Saga in Question, and listen in on another colorful conversation -- this one took place last night, during a phone call with my dad and my belle-mère Marsha, who often telephone me via conference call:

After updating Dad and Marsha on the latest--that we may sell off the vineyard and keep our farmhouse and garden--(this has been my hope), the subject turned to Jean-Marc's health.

"So how is Jimmy doing?" my dad asked....


Jean-marc-beach-stetson
    Jean-Marc (a.k.a. "Jimmy") swimming last week in the Mediterranean


"Jean-Marc is feeling better today." I replied. "In fact, he went for a long run this morning!"

"He's running?"

"Yes, he actually ran all the way to town--to post a letter, to go to the bank, and to stop by the pharmacy. Come to think of it, he literally 'ran some errands'!"

My dad's instant guffaws tempted me to repeat my corny joke, and so I did, and now we were both guffawing, our laughter bouncing like popped corn landing in a giant bucket at a movie theater's refreshment stand. Later, I thought about my father's easy laughter, and how that is one thing I miss from back home (besides family, American movie theaters, salty popcorn, and corny jokes).

But it's no joke that I'm still holding out for a change of heart in my husband--that he will begin to see our homestead "with fresh eyes" and want to safeguard this little piece of heaven in France...which brings us (you, dear reader, and me) to the newly-hatched Plan B ("B" for beautiful! or best! or blessing!).

I am wondering who, among you, might be interested in renting our farmhouse? On the south coast of France?

This is only a thought at this point--and a very small chance that we could sell only the vines and keep our home, given that part of us still wants to turn the page.

But a chance, no matter how small, is still a chance! I leave you with wishes for a good weekend, and this enticing view from our bedroom window!!! :-)



View-from-bedroom

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this post. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving this journal. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
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"Kristin, Your tips and experiences on French and life in France are the best resources I can think of to keep my French alive."
--Amy


How to Learn Grammar Naturally

Smokey-natural
It is proving difficult to illustrate an article on learning grammar naturally! So we'll take inspiration from good ol' Smokey, who is always his best, most natural self--especially on vacation! (In our brief absence we leave you with a helpful article by Benjamin Houy of FrenchTogether.com)

HOW TO LEARN GRAMMAR NATURALLY

Have you ever tried asking French people why they say things the way they say them? If you do, you're likely to hear "it just sounds right" or "I don't know”. That's because our brain has the amazing ability to recognize patterns and create rules on its own...provided it has had enough exposure to the language. This means you don't actually need to spend hours studying grammar rules to speak French correctly. All you need to do is follow this simple 3-step process!

#1 Get exposure to the language and learn in context

When you start learning French, it's tempting to simply open a grammar book and learn grammar rules. That's the way most schools teach French after all! The problem of grammar rules is that:

        They're hard to memorize.

        Even if you do memorize them, there is no guarantee you'll be able to use them in real sentences.

        Learning grammar rules is incredibly boring.

        It's sometimes better not to follow grammar rules if you want to sound French.

 

Okay so learning grammar rules isn't ideal, but isn't it the only way to master French grammar? Absolutely not! In fact, learning grammar rules has been proven to be one of the worst ways to master grammar.

 And there are studies to prove it!

"Certain classes would practice saying pronoun-filled sentences in the language laboratory, without hearing any rules, while other (“ control”) classes would learn them by the usual method— a statement of rules followed by written and oral exercises. Then both groups would take the same test....

The outcome was that, when both groups were tested on their ability to say and write French sentences containing pronouns, the students who had spent only sixty minutes practicing in the lab did slightly better than those who had spent more than a week on it in class." Paul Pimsleur.

What Paul Pimsleur did with his class is something I always recommend you to do: learn grammar in context.

Instead of opening your grammar book and learning random rules, pick a few sentences you want to learn and try to understand how they're constructed. Often the translation will be enough to understand how a phrase is constructed. When it's not, simply open a grammar book or look at the explanations provided in your course.

And remember that not understanding how a phrase is constructed isn't a big deal. If you can't understand a grammar concept, it probably means you're trying to learn it too early.

When you open 30-Day French, one of the first phrases you learn is "ce sera tout ?" (will that be all?), a sentence French sellers use all the time. This phrase uses the future tense, a tense I don't recommend you to learn as a beginner, because mastering the present tense first will help you make progress faster.

That's why I simply recommend users of 30-Day French to learn that "ce sera tout ?" means "will that be all?" without trying to learn how to conjugate verbs in the future tense. I know learning grammar in context may seem strange, but I can assure you it's the fastest and easiest way to master French grammar.

That's how you learned your native language after all!

Smokey-panier
Three dozen baskets... Ce sera tout? Will that be all, Smokey? (Farmers Market in Collioure, France)

 

#2 Use Anki to memorize your sentences

You probably heard several times that repetition is key. But repetition doesn't necessarily mean repeating the same phrases out loud every day for a week. You can and should use the power of Anki. Anki is a spaced repetition software.

You enter phrases and their translation in it and it will then show you the phrases more or less frequently depending on how well you know them. As a result, you learn vocabulary faster while spending way less time learning.

If you want to learn a specific grammar rule for an exam, simply find several sentences illustrating the rules (tatoeba is great for that) and add them to Anki.

After a while, you'll intuitively know how to construct this kind of sentence.

Smokey-dali
You say you just made a mistake? Ne t'inquiète pas! Don't worry! (Port Lligat in Spain)

#3 Get feedback and learn from your mistakes

The first two steps are great to understand grammar naturally and learn useful vocabulary at the same time, but as a French learner, you may still make mistakes without even realizing it. These mistakes can then become habits that will be hard to change. That's why I recommend you to get feedback as early as possible.

 To do that, you can start by using Lang-8, a website which allows you to post your texts and get corrections from native speakers. This is a great way to learn from your mistakes.

Once you feel confident enough, you can start looking for a conversation partner. I explain how and where to find one in this article. And remember, making mistakes isn't shameful, it's an essential part of the learning process.

Most French people won't mind your mistakes as long as you get your point across. Voilà, you now know how to learn French grammar without going crazy.

Sunset walk
(Seaside in Roses, Spain.) Thanks, Smokey, for helping to illustrate Benjamin's article...while sharing highlights from your recent family vacation. Learning French naturally is like walking before a beautiful sunset: it is an agreeable way to proceed.   

Click here to discover how 30-Day French helps you master the most common aspects of French grammar using real-life conversations

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this post. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving this journal. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Kristin, Your tips and experiences on French and life in France are the best resources I can think of to keep my French alive."
--Amy


Miam! Courge Marron Soup (Butternut Squash and Chestnut soup) & We're going to Spain!

Butternut-and-chestnut-soup
"Miam"  is a French word used to designate the appreciation of something, generally a culinary preparation. It is a word that comes from a child's language but one adults use, too, as a part of their appetite. Definition from Internaute.com

Miam est un terme utilisé pour désigner l'appréciation d'une chose, généralement une préparation culinaire. C'est un mot qui provient du langage enfantin mais dont les adultes se servent également pour faire part de leur appétit. Miam-miam! = yum yum!


ECOUTEZ - Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's French word and definition: Download Miam



A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE


    by Kristi Espinasse

The first thing I ate when I returned to France, from the Mexican Riviera, was a garden-fresh courge! Before even a pain au chocolat or a slice of comté cheese, I ate that butternut squash and I've eaten two more since. I thought that by eating something grown right in front of our home--by ingesting so many vitamins and minerals from the good French earth--I might be forgiven of all those airport muffins (blueberry, chocolate, pumpkin...) consumed in transit.

Whether airport comfort food or garden comfort food, la nourriture (if you can call airport muffins that) does more than nourish us--it calms or inspires or warms us. Here's a recipe that does all three. Bon appétit!

La Soupe de Courge aux Marrons
Butternut squash and chestnut soup

    Butternut squash
    chestnuts, peeled (find peeled chestnuts here)
    celery
    parsley
    onion
    garlic   

    paprika
    salt and pepper

This is a recipe you will do au pif (by guesswork). Don't worry, it will all work out! Cut up a cup or two of butternut squash, add the same amount (or less, depending on how much you like chestnuts) to the roasting pan (see photo above). Add a small quartered onion (optional) and 2 or 3 garlic cloves. Toss in a few sprigs of parsley and a little celery (optional). Sprinkle paprika, salt and pepper on vegetables. Drizzle olive oil on top and toss all ingredients. Put in the oven at 175C (350F) for 30 or so minutes. Remove from oven and, after it cools, put vegetables in a mixing bowl (or saucepan) with water enough to cover them and a stock cube (or use canned soup stock). Use a handy immersion blender to mix all ingredients into a soup.

I love the rich texture and slight sweetness of this soup--and after a trip, I crave it. It is a good thing there are 5 giant squash remaining in my front garden--because we are going on a road trip tomorrow, and you know what that means...muffins! If there's one thing our family secretly enjoys while traveling, it's all that rest-stop nourishment, aisles and aisles of temptations! (And, arriving home on Sunday, it will be bonjour soup!)

See you next week. And if you would like to follow us on our family road trip to Spain, keep your eye on this Instagram account and bon voyage!

2cv
RELATED POSTS
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Gâteau Yaourt - everyone in France knows how to make this simple cake, by heart. Do you? Click here

Tarte Tomate. Last of the season's tomatoes? Delicious Tomato pie recipe! Click here.



Metro cuff


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PARIS METRO CUFF - Unique bracelet and great gift for those who love Paris. Click here.


TABLECLOTH, Provence-themed - scroll down to the Maison d'Hermine Birdies on a Wire, HERE. I love this one!

FRENCH GROCERIES FROM FRANCE - from Dijon mustard to Provence herbs. CLICK HERE

Beautiful French Kitchen Towels by Garnier-Thiebaut. Order here.

Courge-butternut
Thank you for reading this word journal. A bientôt!

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this post. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving this journal. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Kristin, Your tips and experiences on French and life in France are the best resources I can think of to keep my French alive."
--Amy


Mudita: The Secret to Happiness in France...and Denver, Portland, Bozeman?

Petite Amie 2

We all need more mudita! Mudita is the benevolent and altruistic joy that delights in the happiness and success of others. It is a sacred joy that finds its pleasure in the well-being of another rather than by feeding envious thoughts and jealousies concerning the other. To illustrate "mudita," we often give the example of parents, who delight in the progress and happiness of their children. (Photo from our marriage. I know, you've seen it many times!) I think marriage vows should include "mudita," don't you? Comments link at the end of this post.

DEFINITON FOR VICARIOUS JOY

"Mudita" cela veut dire "une joie sympathique, une joie bienveillante et altruiste qui se réjouit du bonheur et des succès des autres. C'est une joie sacrée qui trouve son délice dans le bien-être de son prochain plutôt que de nourrir des pensées envieuses et jalouses à son égard. On donne traditionnellement l'exemple des parents qui se réjouissent des progrès et du bonheur de leur petit enfants pour illustrer ce qu'est Muditā." -Wikipedia

ECOUTEZ - LISTEN
(Dear Reader, for today's sound file, you are stuck with me and my big American accent...as Jean-Marc is absent today! Here we go... listen to the definition (printed above): Download Mudita


Improve your spoken French. Try Pronounce it Perfectly in French or  Exercises in French Phonetics


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristi Espinasse

Thursday,  following his open letter  about what could possibly drive us to abandon our dream-in-the-making, Jean-Marc and I read the blog comments.  We read them silently. We read them aloud to each other.  We read them over the phone to my father,  my aunt,  my mother. I whispered them to my dog, Are you up for this,  Smokey? Will you be OK in cargo,  headed to America.....

Though heartened by the enormous support, I knew all of the encouragement would only convince Jean-Marc to take that leap--a move I am still resisting, much like I resist party invitations. But isn't that just it? Isn't it time to open up and share life with others? I could stay in this isolated garden,  write from a perch in my bedroom,  and hibernate forever as a bear (so as not to say recluse)!

Speaking of bears, they frighten me and are beginning to serve as a filter as we note down possible towns to live in (I don't want to live in Bear Country. At the same time,  bear country has all of the qualities I am looking for in a place to settle down! Will we ever settle down?  On and on the mind goes during this potentially (we still could stay...) uprooting time, as we allow both excitement and fear to take over - - and when it does,  we each retreat to a different room and find our peace,  our internal compass. If only it would reveal the direction, NOW!

That afternoon, after being moved by an outpouring of support,  the house was quiet but for a crackling fire in the living room. I went to look for my husband of 22 years and found him sitting on his grandfather's couch,  one he had had reupholstered in burgundy velvet (the color of his future wine?) before we moved to the Côtes du Rhone. Here we are now in St Cyr-sur-Mer. Ten years and two vineyards later we are on the verge of a major life decision--leaving our authentic dream in which Jean-Marc would build a vineyard from the ground up...up into the hills over looking the sea of Bandol....

....and
I would have the French farmhouse of my dreams--while another passion grew even beyond that: a wild French garden! This rambling garden (in which just this morning I pulled 6 earth-clad carrots) would offer more than quaint architecture, it would strengthen the foundation in my soul. So why do I keep mourning the loss of my garden when it is right there inside of me? Capable of growing wherever I go? I can plant it in a plastic cup and set it on the shelf of an Airbnb (in Portland? Will we go there?) or dig up a back yard of a home for sale (in Denver???).

Walking through our farmhouse the other day, looking for Jean-Marc,  I found him there in front of the fireplace. He had a big bright look on his face as he stared at his computer. I wondered,  What is he looking at? As I turned to see the screen I saw it -  a giant Map of the States.  And there,  seated before the giant map ,  I now saw a young man, young as I was when I once sat before a giant map...of France.

Gazing at my husband, whose head tilted thoughtfully before the map, all of my self pity began to melt away. And I thought, After 24 years of living my dream in France,  isn't it his turn now to have his own experience in a foreign land? Looking at Jean-Marc I could almost see a cowboy hat and chaps on the young man who sat considering the vast Map of America. A young man who had felt so very old only days ago.

And it occurred to me that instead of fear and regret I could now find my joy... in allowing Jean-Marc to pursue his own. And that by observing his delight in each new world discovery,  I might be delighted too. 

***

Jean-marc-tastings

RELATED POSTS

If We Left France Where Could We Move? Click here

Is Jean-Marc Single? Can I Buy Your Home?  Click here to read

To Come to a Decision: On Turning the Page of our Vineyard dream. (Click here).

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this post. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving this journal. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Kristin, Your tips and experiences on French and life in France are the best resources I can think of to keep my French alive."
--Amy


Jean-Marc's open letter

Lilac-bush


TODAY'S WORD: avoir la niaque (also: avoir la gnaque)

   
French: Être très motivé, être capable de soulever des montagnes. (Wikipedia)

    English : To be very motivated, to be capable of moving mountains



ECOUTEZ - Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's French word:

Download MP3:  Avoir-la-niaque

Avoir la niaque. Aujourd'hui, je n'ai pas la niaque pour continuer ce projet de vignoble au Mas des Brun.
To be motivated. Today, I am no longer motivated to continue this vineyard project as Mas des Brun.



JEAN-MARC'S OPEN LETTER

Kristi's last post about our interrogations on our future have generated a lot of comments and we would like to thank you for the kindness and thoughtfulness of all of them. Even if some of you have supported us in our thoughts, true is that some of you did not understand the reasons of a potential move to the US which can actually be questioned and debated for many reasons.

But first things first : Why do I feel the high need to discontinue this wonderful venture with Mas des Brun ? Well, to summarize it, this is the story of somebody who somehow thought that most difficult part of the job had been done when we moved here (after a lot of searching, we had finally found the right place) and who has been totally blinded by the enormous amount of work needed to create this winery. I have so wanted to root down in this area that once we found this "promise land" and had the chance to create a vineyard, I did not see the immensity of the work needed. Because I was in a sort of "euphoria" phase, I kept telling myself that one way or another, I would find the solutions, all the while discovering the immensity of the tasks. After 4 years of working hard, most of the time taking bad decisions on problems to solve, I have the feeling that I totally burned my wings, especially when, since last year, we are having to face a very difficult and potentially very big problem with administration after the decision I took to clear a parcel (removing many trees) in order to plant vineyards so as to move on with this difficult project to build a vineyard. This case has also corresponded to when I broke my elbow and when the first signs of depression hit me as I started to realize that I was meeting more and more problematic issues on my project.

After almost a year of thinking black and even some very low moments, I now realize that I am 50 years old, that I don't have the financial means to make this project happen (at least to reach its initial goal which is to plant 10 acres of vines), I would need to hire somebody to help me which I can't (I am not paying myself already) and that it will take me another 10 years to eventually put this vineyard to orbit. By then, I will probably have totally broken my back, worried most of the time, praying for sun when rain comes in the Spring, for rain while the summer drought hits the vines... And then, I tell myself : I hopefully have 25 years to enjoy life on this beautiful planet... Of course France, and especially where we live, is gorgeous but there are so much more places that I would like to discover. Since I certainly don't want to continue being depressed and anxious ("je n'ai ni la niaque, ni les moyens), I now feel the need to turn the page, while staying positive, which explains our decision to sell. After all, the sweat, the broken back, the worries might be compensated by a little profit since we did pick our first grapes this year, built a small winemaking facility and made our first official wine to now have on the ground 10 000 vines when there was nothing growing 4 years ago.

Now, why the US ? Well, because this is also our family's culture. Even if we have always lived in France, we feel the US is home too. Kristi's family live there and we have not seen them often. We want to be able to enjoy them more often. We also have very good friends and it is indeed a country where I could express my wine knowledge. I only had great times while visiting with our family or touring the different States with Domaine Rouge-Bleu.

I know well that social security is not the same but we have the chance to still benefit of the French social security in case of serious emergency. Some people tell us that USA is not secure. Well, I am not sure, which is safer: Europe (situated at the door of a potential third world war that can happen in Syria, Israel, Turkey...) or the US. I am not mentioning here the potential issues with war migrants and terrorism which I think is much more worrisome in France than in the US.

Some readers are concerned about our kids : Our plan to is to bring Jackie with us and find her an Art School to develop her fashion skills. Max is currently in a Business school with one year to spend overseas and he is almost 22... About my own family and my Mom, my sister now lives 30 mns away and my brother 1 hour away. I have taken care of my Mom since I was 20 and I don't feel bad if I have leave her, coming to visit her probably once or two times a year.

Colorado ? OK, no more sea urchins but Nature is just splendid there and I love the mountains as much as I love the sea. Also, global warming will certainly make the winters smoother. Heidi and her kids live there and it is very central to go visit family in other States with even a direct flight to Puerto Vallarta where Jules lives. But if it was my call, I would choose Portland, OR which is my preferred city in the US. The only restriction for not moving to the US would be a total unexpected and very worrisome election result on November 8th....

But we are still here, thinking about options in our lives and so far nobody has made an offer to buy our place. You, Dear readers with your kind comments are helping us make the eventual decision. Nothing will happen if we don't sell this place and we might not sell it if we don't get the price we want. We also might ending up 2 miles away if we sell (see this update written 10 months later...) and we also might live here forever. Only God knows, let Him guide us.

Jean-Marc-waters-baby-vines
In a field of ancient olive trees, Jean-Marc waters his baby vines during the drought

RELATED POSTS: Click on the titles, below, to read the blog entries

If We Left France, Where We Could Move

To Come to a Decision: On Turning the Page of Our Vineyard Dream

Accidental Cassoulet : An update on Depression


Behind-our-home
Photo of me and our daughter, Jackie, taken behind our home.

Selected products
When you shop at Amazon via one of the links, below, you help support this free language journal.


PARIS METRO CUFF - Unique bracelet and great gift for those who love Paris. Click here.


APRONS, French-themed - keep the tomato sauce off of nice shirt! CLICK HERE.

TABLECLOTH, Provence-themed - scroll down to the Maison d'Hermine Birdies on a Wire, HERE. I love this one!

LAGUIOLE  steak knives are for sale in many of the local French market stands. Order here.

FRENCH KITCHEN TOWELS by Garnier-Thiebaut. Order here.

Espadrilles -  seen them everywhere in the south of France and elsewhere! Click here.

THE PARIS PEACE T-shirt - "so many people have stopped to ask me where I got it" -Betty. Click here
Our-home-sunflowers
"Home."  Thank you for the thoughtful and caring comments you have sent in. We are enormously touched.

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this post. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving this journal. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
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"Kristin, Your tips and experiences on French and life in France are the best resources I can think of to keep my French alive."
--Amy


If we left France, Where we could move...

1-DSC_0355
I think I could live anywhere...as long as there is a garden to call my own. Or is it time to share another's garden? To contribute and to humbly accept a portion of the harvest? These things cross my mind. Meantime, we continue in limbo, until the day our vineyard sells and another decision is made. Read on. (Photo taken on the island of Port Cros, at Le Manoir).

TODAY'S QUOTE:

Il arrive que les grandes décisions ne se prennent pas, mais se forment d'elles-mêmes.
It happens that big decisions don't make themselves, but are formed of themselves.  -Henri Bosco

ECOUTEZ - Listen to Jean-Marc read today's quote:

Download Grandes-decisions

Improve your spoken French. Try Pronounce it Perfectly in French or  Exercises in French Phonetics


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristi Espinasse


I am beginning to understand that one of the most difficult things, since deciding to sell our home, is not whether we are making a mistake--the most difficult thing is to "keep it in the day."

"It" refers to the wild mind projecting itself forward into the unknown, down to the most absurd details ("Can you grow an avocado tree in Denver?" I actually googled this. Along with "greenhouses, Denver" and "permaculture Denver"). Yes, we are thinking of moving to Colorado. As hard as it will be for me to leave France and my garden-in-progress, I will be closer to my family if we move to the States. So which is more important? To tighten my grip on this French dream, now 24 years in the making--or to let go and float with the choppy current that is pulling us towards a new horizon, one dotted with all my loving family members--rays of sunshine sparkling at the edge of the sky?

These past weeks have been a maelstrom of emotion over this decision to move on (I want to stay. Jean-Marc needs to turn the page. We both want to remain together). Amidst all the confusion and mind chatter,  I have decided to enjoy my garden (instead of grieve it) for as long as we are here (three months? three years?). Today I have the pleasure of being in the company of seven baby avocado trees, grown from pits, or discarded seeds. Their glossy new leaves inspire me.  Any gloomy mind-chatter is being slowly replaced by a hopeful conviction: There is nothing absurd about an avocado tree, in Denver City!

No matter where we end up (a week ago we visited a home up the road, in La Ciotat...), I will remember that one thing is certain, tangible, and growing like a rescued pit. That certainty is called "Today." May you enjoy every single moment because, as they say here in France, On ne sait pas de quoi demain sera fait. We don't know what tomorrow will be made of. And as I recently said to my mom, Chances are it will be something even better than we could think up ourselves.

Amicalement,

Kristi

Stone
Not long after we moved here to St Cyr-sur-Mer, in 2012, Jean-Marc had rock beds made for me, in which to plant our potager, or kitchen garden.

RELATED POSTS: Click on the titles to read the posts

Is Jean-Marc Single? Can I Buy Your Home?

To Come to a Decision: On Turning the Page of our Vineyard dream. (Story here).

Moving to Mexico: To Fly with One's Own Wings. (Story here).

The Previous Move Which Brought us Here to The Sea near Bandol....

 

DSC_0087
It was an endless lesson and endlessly amusing to grow things in these four beds and beyond.


FRENCH GROCERIES FROM FRANCE - from Dijon mustard to Provence herbs. CLICK HERE


Laguiole steak knives are for sale in many of the local French market stands. Order here.

Beautiful French Kitchen Towels by Garnier-Thiebaut. Order here.

Paris Peace T-shirt - "so many people have stopped to ask me where I got it" -Betty. Click here

Pear-blossoms

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this post. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving this journal. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Kristin, Your tips and experiences on French and life in France are the best resources I can think of to keep my French alive."
--Amy


New friends, new words, and meme pas peur!

Caraco
Voici une photo d'un caraco. Here is a picture of a caraco. Worn by Jackie, to her brother's birthday party.

TODAY'S WORD: le caraco

    - camisole
    - bodice, corset

ECOUTEZ - Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's French word:

Download Caraco

Ni un débardeur, ni un marcel, le caraco c'est une camisole
Neither a vest top or a tank top, a caraco is a camisole

Improve your spoken French. Try Pronounce it Perfectly in French or  Exercises in French Phonetics


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristi Espinasse

Talking To Strangers

Let's begin with a brand new French word: le caraco. I have not used it in the years that I have lived in France. But that does not mean it is not an essential. For some it forms the very basis of a garde-robe. You guessed it, un caraco is an undershirt. In old-time French, is was a corset. Whether or not this fits, I am going to force this item of female covering to connect our story, or at least lead into it. For just like the tight, pinching, can't-wait-to-unlace-it garment--so was that urge of mine, over the weekend, to throw off all pretenses and talk to strangers.

The port town of Bandol was unusually busy this time of year. Was it the sunshine that had brought everyone out on Sunday? We were having a mother-daughter lunch, Jackie and I, when a striking woman and her daughter sat down in the bistro table beside ours. When their eyes became focused on the glossy carte, I stole surreptitious glances while drawing up a colorful story in my mind. I'll bet she lives in that house up on the hill, beside the one for sale that we visited. She may be our future neighbor! She seems to be a very strong woman. She looks like my sister-in-law. Is she North African? What is that pink pass around her neck?

The woman wore heels and a silk Chanel-style top. It had to be real. Her dark hair tumbled past her shoulders in smooth waves. Her daughter was her sosie, or twin, down to the pink pass which hung on a long pink ribbon. Though inches away, the mother spoke in tones so low I could not make out what she was saying. The daughter responded in kind. The pair were cool, reserved, assured. French.

Wearing sandals and an Hawaiian-print dress, I chatted wildly to my daughter, all the while keeping tabs on the duo to my left until I turned, abruptly, and said with a strong American accent, "Are you having a mother-daughter lunch too?"

"Yes," smiled the mother.

"Yes, yes, I thought so! Yes that's what I had guessed!"

And so our conversation began, between Madame Yes, and Madame Yes! Yes! Yes! which gives you an idea of  personalities, opposites with at least one thing in common: curiosity.

We continued talking until their order arrived, when I finished my sentence, adding, "Je vous laisse manger tranquillement. I'll let you enjoy your lunch now."

"You care too much about what others think," the woman said, referring back to my intro, in which I admitted a number of attempts to strike up a conversation, each sabotaged by the fear of rejection.

"And you don't care at all," I smiled. "Do you realize you are the perfect heroine?" I said, referring back to her intro, in which she explained she was in town to attend The Festival of New Romance. (Those pink passes around their necks.) Avid reader of chic-lit, the woman and her daughter had spent the morning meeting famous authors.

"Yes! (Yes Yes)" I continued, "You are a beautiful doctor of infectious diseases who lives where coconuts fall on your front lawn--in the Amazon! You leave your laboratoire to board a paddle boat and travel upstream through the jungle, to do your researching!"

The doctor from French Guiana smiled in amusement, seeing herself in a new light, and not just the florescent one beneath which she spends most of her days, hair tied back, lab coat  and glasses on, looking down into a microscope.

I was beginning to see myself in a new light too: a little more brazen than before. I might still care too much about what other people think. But so far it hasn't kept me from life's biggest adventure: writing.  There, words are coconuts and paddle-boats, the sentence is a winding river, and the next paragraph is the Amazon--ever lurking, unknown, thrilling.

Related stories:

On Writing, How to Write
http://french-word-a-day.typepad.com/motdujour/2008/02/brouillard.html

On our decision to move:
http://french-word-a-day.typepad.com/motdujour/2016/09/stay-or-go.html

Même pas peur! (what this expression means)
http://french-word-a-day.typepad.com/motdujour/2015/11/meme-pas-peur.html

Python
A picture I forgot to show you, from my visit to see Mom and sister in Mexico. Yes, it's real!r.

Selected products
When you shop at Amazon via one of the links, below, you help support this free language journal.


PARIS METRO CUFF - Unique bracelet and great gift for those who love Paris. Click here.


TISANES - French herbal teas. My family drinks one every night, to help drift off to sleep ORDER HERE.

APRONS, French-themed - keep the tomatoes in the tart and off of your nice shirt. CLICK HERE.

TABLECLOTH, Provence-themed - scroll down to the Maison d'Hermine Birdies on a Wire, HERE. I love this one!

WORDS IN A FRENCH LIFE book- for the chapter "Casse-Croûte" and for the pleasure of a real French picnic. Buy the book, HERE.

FRENCH GROCERIES FROM FRANCE - from Dijon mustard to Provence herbs. CLICK HERE

Paris PEACE T-shirt - "so many people have stopped to ask me where I got it" -Betty. Click here

Pierre
Jackie and I went to Bandol and had a few serendipitous encounters. Happy to discover a juice bar tucked into this fashion accessory boutique. Pierre, the owner, is so kind and welcoming. Be sure to stop into "Sunset Blvd Bandol" if you are ever in the port of Bandol! Like them on Facebook at Sunset Bandol.

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this post. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving this journal. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Kristin, Your tips and experiences on French and life in France are the best resources I can think of to keep my French alive."
--Amy


Fresh as a lettuce : and other delights from Mama's in Mexique

Bestofprovence
It's good to be back in France! Please give a warm welcome to our returning sponsor, Cynthia:

Provence & French Alps Tours – Two regions of France in affordable, small group tours since 2009. Majestic mountains, Provence colors. Wine/cheese tastings, Michelin Star cuisine. Click here.

TODAY'S WORD: fresh as a lettuce

   : to be calm as a cucumber, in French, is to be Cool Raoul (click here).
   : and in Spanish it is to be fresca como una lechuga.




A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristi Espinasse

I went to Mexico to see Mama, as we now call her, I and my Mexican brother ("Rocky" in a previous story. Today his identity will be revealed...). Even our sister, Heidi,  is catching on--which just goes to show how far we have come in accepting our mother in the new roles she is taking on in her life. But now that her role as wife has come to an end, we have all been concerned about how she will carry on without Mr John. And when she made the seemingly abrupt decision to leave her condo at the marina to move to the barrio, we were downright alarmed.

Last week, Mom invited us to stay with her in her new casita, located on the outskirts of Puerto Vallarta. There, paved roads end and earthen floors spread out through the lively neighborhood and its eclectic mix of homes, doors and windows thrown open to reveal family life in motion. Not a word of English is spoken. Chickens, pigs and horses roam free along the streets, right past Mama's front door, which she prefers to leave unlocked by day à la "I will not be a prisoner to fear!"

While grateful for Mama's offer to lodge us, my sister and I needed a transitioning phase before spending the night beneath Mama's colorful tin roof. We quickly (and a little guiltily) booked a room at The Marriott, where we could get our dose of hot showers before experiencing Mom's single-tempurature (cold!) plumbing.

THE MARRIOTT HOTEL & FRESCA COMO UNA LECHUGA
There, at the CasaMagna Marriott Hotel and Spa, we would spend the next 4 days as fresh as lettuces beneath the blue skies and warm sunrays of Vallarta. Welcomed by Ernesto (the charming hotel greeter who taught us the wonderful "lettuce" phrase), each day at the Marriott allowed us to relax, while taking care of Mama's paperwork (many thanks to John's belle-fille, Laurie, who took the baton from Heidi, continuing the administrative work back home in Arizona).

It wasn't our first time at the Marriott in Puerto Vallarta, and we recognized so many friendly faces, and were touched when they remembered us back! There was Hilda, the concierge, who helped put me in touch with Lourdes (in charge of the Marriott's social media department. My son Max is looking for an internship. He'd love for it to be in Mexico!). And we ran into Audrey, the wine and Tequila specialist. She is French--from our neighboring town of La Ciotat. Quelle coincidence! She gave me her card and even offered to help put us in contact with her parents, should we decide to move to her hometown).

The cast of friendly characters continued with Francisco at the morning buffet (tamales for breakfast!), Carlos at the terrace restaurant (shrimp fajitas!), and Victor, in charge of poolside refreshments--or swim over to the bar and order a Pina Colada, which Mom did with glee, enjoying it while she floated around the pool and chatted up the guests! Thanks to Mama, our friendships extended out from the hotel staff to our fellow vacationers (a big wave to Kim in California!)

In the evenings we ate at Mikado's -- the Japanese restaurant right in the hotel, where beautiful hostess, Adriana, remembered Mama Jules, who, it turns out, is friends with many of the employees via Facebook. Not to be left out, Heidi and I quickly added Adriana, Hilda, Ernesto, and the others to our Facebook, only to realize just how many of our friends were actually neighbors with Mama Jules!

"Don't worry about your Mama," Francisco assured us. She lives in a place we call 'Beautiful Mountain'. And I live just up the hill!"

As if that weren't comforting enough, we also have Gregorio. Read about our Mexican brother and mystery man at the end of this post! Adios for now and many thanks to everyone at the CasaMagna Marriott Hotel in Puerto Vallarta--"the next best place after Mama's"!

Kristi

  Casamagna

Francisco
Gregorio, Mama, Francisco, and Heidi. Cheers to the staff at CasaMagna Marriott Hotel and Spa in Puerto Vallarta!


Gregorio
WHO IS GREGORIO? While in Mexico, I posted some photos and a few videos here on Instagram. Some of you were wondering who the dark, handsome man was in those pictures. (I would say tall, dark and handsome, but Gregorio is better known in the ring as "Dragoncito," or The Little Dragon.) He is the state of Jalisco, Mexico's champion for Muay Thai and he is currently Chief of Security for our dear Mama!

Gregorio-rink

Gregorio's next fight is in February 2017 and we are all hoping to be there to cheer him on! If you would like to be there, too, perhaps we could all stay at the Marriott

... and join Mama Jules at the pool, swimming over to the floating bar for refreshments!  What do you think? Let me know in the comments, HERE :-)

Gregorio-and-mama
It is always good to dream and to have something to look forward to!



When you shop at Amazon via one of the links, below, you help support this free language journal.


PARIS METRO CUFF - Unique bracelet and great gift for those who love Paris. Click here.

FRENCH GROCERIES FROM FRANCE - from Dijon mustard to Provence herbs. CLICK HERE

Beautiful French Kitchen Towels by Garnier-Thiebaut. Order here.

Paris PEACE T-shirt - "so many people have stopped to ask me where I got it" -Betty. Click here

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this post. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving this journal. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Kristin, Your tips and experiences on French and life in France are the best resources I can think of to keep my French alive."
--Amy