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Entries from December 2016

To wish + Heureuse année, bonnes resolutions, and to get on one's nerves!

Smokey-port-alon

A favorite place to walk and talk. Conversation with my daughter in today's story.

TODAY'S WORD: se souhaiter

        : to wish one another, to wish each other

EXAMPLE SENTENCE:


Le 31 Décembre à minuit les français se souhaitent une bonne et heureuse année et prennent parfois de bonnes résolutions pour changer leurs habitudes.
December 31st, at midnight, the French wish each other a good and happy year and sometimes make good resolutions to change their habits.

ECOUTEZ - Hear Jean-Marc pronounce today's example sentence in French:
Download MP3 soundfile


Improve your spoken French with Pronounce it Perfectly in French or  Exercises in French Phonetics


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristi Espinasse

Yesterday, I found my daughter sitting in the sun on the front porch. "Hey, what are you up to?" I said.

"I was thinking about going for a walk at Port d'Alon."

"Oh..." Walking alone along the littoral is not a good idea. A week ago while hiking with my husband we encountered Charles Manson (or his look alike, who acted just as étrange as he bee-lined towards us, shirtless in winter, waving his arms and babbling in French. We remained calm until he finished his one-way conversation and disappeared down the path). For this reason, I was about to talk Jackie out of the coastal walk when suddenly she asked if I wanted to join her.

How could a parent turn down an invitation by her child to walk in nature? What an immeasurable step up this was from the mall request!

My teenager drove and I did my best not to grip the door handle or suck in my breath each time I sensed a threat. "It's not you, Honey. It's the other drivers, who cross over the median!" Soon we made it down into the calanque, its parasol pines so tall they leaned over, ready to snap. To our surprise the park was teeming with people. Mais bien sûr -- ce sont les vacances de Noël!

Jackie took charge of Smokey (as she has ever since our golden retriever ran off with my arm, dislocating my elbow), so all I had to do was walk and not say Annoying Mom Things--and so spoil this privileged time together.

I bit my tongue when we passed a nice young man (Jackie's age? Her type?) who was training his border collie. I watched as the dog weaved in and out of his master's legs, on command, then jumped--twirling in the air!

And it did not escape me when the young man looked over at the girl walking her golden retriever.... That's when I began herding us over toward the (single? local?) entraîneur, but my daughter had her eyes on the shoreline, which seemed to pull her toward the salty waters.

"Il fait tellement beau!" she sighed. "Ready to hike?" and with that Jackie turned abruptly toward the sentier.

Half way up the path, we were immersed in the scent of pine and surrounded by blossoming pink bruyère! "Isn't this beautiful?" I asked, only to notice my daughter's eyes were glued to her phone.

"Ça me saoule!" she complained.

"Pardon?"

"He is still sleeping and it's 2 pm! He hasn't answered ANY of my messages!"

"Who? Your boyfriend?"

"IL ME SAOULE!" came the confirmation.

"He get's on your nerves? That would be a good French word of the day--SAOULER!" I smiled, trying to get my 19-year-old to laugh about it. IL EST SAOULANT! I shouted, for good measure. But that would be the extent of any weighing in on my part.  This young love would have to figure it out herself. All I can do is try, when the occasion arises, to herd her toward the more chipper, engaging, and interesting types. They are there, in her midst, weaving in and out of her path--jumping for her attention. She just hasn't woken up to them yet.


Jackie-at-Port-Alon-2016

Stories you may have missed: The town we are moving to and Did you know this rule for cheese?


FRENCH VOCABULARY
Increase your vocabulary with these words. More word-building here.

le littoral
= coastline
une calanque = sea inlet (story and bilingual post here)
étrange = strange
mais bien sûr
= but of course
ce sont les vacances de Noël!
= it's Christmas break!
il fait tellement beau =
the weather's so nice out
le sentier
= walking path
la bruyère = heather flower
saouler = to get on one's nerves

Jackie-smokey-fetch
Jackie and Smokey, earlier this year


SABLET HOME - for high quality vacation rentals in the heart of Provence. Click here.           

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Heather
la bruyère - heather blooming in the Mediterranean forest


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Calanque-jm

MERCI BEAUCOUP
Thank you very much for reading this journal over the year. Wishing you a peaceful, happy, and healthy 2017!

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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A Mystery: Diriger, benir, and the anonymous gift we received

Robe-card
The mysterious card we received in the mail and what was inside... in today's story.

TODAY'S WORDS: diriger & benir

        : to direct and to bless

EXAMPLE SENTENCE:

De temps en temps, Dieu me dirige à envoyer quelques choses à un/des amis. Voilà. Que Dieu te benisse. (Anonymous)
From time to time, God directs me to send something to a/some friends. There you have it. May God bless you.


ECOUTEZ - Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the example sentence: Download Diriger-benir


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


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristi Espinasse

Last month we received an anonymous letter in the mail--along with 50 euros in cash! The envelope came addressed to M et Mme JM Espinasse, in what looked to be French penmanship. (The sender, in writing our home number, had rounded the tail of the "9". We don't write like that back home in Arizona (unless we've spent time abroad and are smitten)--neither do we cross our 7s, as seen in the way the sender composed our zip code.)

This letter was not sent by an American. Or was it?

Looking at the billet I wondered, was it a donation? Was it even for me? No, the envelope had been addressed to both of us--Mr and Mrs--and yet...the end of the letter addresses only one of us as seen in the closing line which includes te (and not vous)....

Inside the card read:

De temps en temps, Dieu me dirige à envoyer quelques choses à un/des amis. Voilà. Que Dieu te benisse.
(From time to time, God directs me to send something to a/some friends. There you have it. May God bless you.)

Mystery-letter


"It has to be for you," Jean-Marc insisted. "It's from one of your blog readers."

On the card was a photograph of an antique gown, its dusty rose silk intricately embroidered. My eyes combed the letter, the envelope (from the Musée des Tissus de Lyon...) and the bill for clues--moved by the mystery until another sentiment arose: la culpabilité

I can think of a lot of people who need cash more than me.... There was one of my neighbors, for one. There were whole families I had met, thanks to my Mom, in Mexico. And what about all the refugees who had recently lost their temporary shelter in Calais? Who were we to be receiving any kind of aide?

Then, a small voice spoke to me. It is a gift. The gift is for you. Who are you to refuse it?

Picking up the 50 euro billet, turning it over in my hand, I thought about putting it in a capsule and burying it in the garden of the home we were looking at. Would this symbolic deposit secure it for us? But what if we didn't end up in that house? The money would turn to compost!

I hid the bill in my desk and decided to wait for direction. The next few days I refused to be a bank when my family came knocking. "Mom. Can you spare 5 euros?" or "Cherie, tu as des sous?", unwilling to let the gift go to teenage whims or to pay the ramoneur (Jean-Marc would just have to write a check for the chimney sweeper! There would be a more meaningful use for this bank note!!)

Foutas-in-les-lecques

One week later I had an urge to invite my husband on a date. "Veux-tu balader avec moi? Would you like to walk on the beach and then go and get ice cream?"

Collecting the 50 euros from its hiding place, I joined Jean-Marc who had finished some vineyard chores. There, in the middle of a busy week, we experienced a peaceful reprieve. Sitting on the board walk in Les Lecques, our legs dangling over the edge, we savored locally made ice cream--passion fruit for him, chocolate mint for me! Next, we moved our towels to the sandy beach and took a nap, bercé by the sounds of winter on the Mediterranean - a woman walking her dog, a man taking a break from his construction job to peel of his work clothes and swim in the sea, and a father playing ball with his young son, by the pier. In the midst of this, a vigneron and his wife held hands. Our eyes closed, we listened to the seagulls call as they flew over our heads, high in the sky.

When we returned home I dug into my jeans pocket and carefully tucked the change--two twenties and many coins--back into the gift's safe place. Hidden in a little box there it was, le cadeau precieux: Time in Suspension. Time standing still, succulent, savoreux, delectable like le fruit de la passion.

Merci beaucoup, M ou Madame Anonymous. The gift has since been taken out for use along the Port of Bandol, where time froze once again when I caught up with a good friend over fizzy drinks (deux Pérriers citrons). I've tucked the change--another two bills and more coins!--back into its safe place. The gift seems to multiply, like blessings mentioned in your mysterious letter. Que Dieu te benisse.


FRENCH VOCABULARY
la culpabilité = guilt
chéri(e) = dear
balader = to walk
un vigneron = wine farmer, wine maker
bercer = to rock
savoreux = savory
le fruit de la passion = passion fruit
deux Perriers citrons = two Perriers with lemon


SABLET HOME - for high quality vacation rentals in the heart of Provence. Click here.           

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Merrychristmas2016
Family Christmas photo taken at home in front of a crop of sunflowers--flowering in December!

Shop for necessities or gifts using any of the following links to enter the store.

FOUTAS - Beach towels, as seen in today's story.


WORDS IN A FRENCH LIFE: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France

KITCHEN TOWELS by Garnier-Thiebaut.

PARIS PEACE T-SHIRT - "so many people have stopped to ask me where I got it" -Betty.

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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"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


Mangeoire: a most meaningful French word

Looking-in
One year ago, looking in the window at my French family who joined us here for le repas de Noël.

TODAY'S WORD: une mangeoire

        : feeding trough, manger


EXAMPLE SENTENCE:

Là, dans la saleté et entre les animaux, elle mit son bébé au monde. Puis elle l'enveloppa chaudement et, comme il n'y avait pas de berceau, elle le déposa dans *une mangeoire* pour qu'il puisse dormir... There, in the dirt and among the animals, she brought her baby into the world. Then she covered him snugly and, as there was no cradle, she put him in a feeding trough. --from the book "Grande Bible Pour Les Enfants," Chantecler edition


ECOUTEZ:
Listen to our son Max pronounce today's French word and example sentence: Download Mangeoire



A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristi Espinasse


(Story written 10 years ago...when the kids were little)

Reading to my Francophone children in their native tongue is a humbling, sometimes humiliating experience. Not only for the pause pronunciation—child-issued breaks in which I must stop reading in order to repeat a French word that I have tripped up on—but also for the words that I still do not know: both French... and in English.

Thankfully, not all "readings" are cause for reprimand. De temps en temps, there are eye-opening moments when suddenly, more than a word making sense, the world seems to take on new meaning as well.

It was while reading a chapter called "The birth..." or La naissance de Jésus to my daughter that I felt a lump in my throat and a sting in my eyes. An English word with which I've had but a yearly encounter—usually during the holiday season—suddenly defined itself as its French counterpart moved up my vocal chords and exited in a French chorus of sound and meaning. The text preceding the word (indicated between asterisks, below) only served to set the dramatic stage:

Là, dans la saleté et entre les animaux, elle mit son bébé au monde. Puis elle l'enveloppa chaudement et, comme il n'y avait pas de berceau, elle le déposa dans *une mangeoire* pour qu'il puisse dormir...

There, in the filth and between the animals, she brought her baby into the world. Then she wrapped him warmly and, as there was no cradle, she put him down in a *feeding trough* so that he could sleep.


Replacing the word "manger" with "feeding trough", its equivalent, gives the account an even more heartrending effect; "manger" is poetic, while "feeding trough" effectively evokes the brutal bed that was the only resting place for the delicate newborn.

Nativity
Nativité par Federico Barocci



As for those instances of humiliation—whether in fumbling through French text before a ten-year-old... or in the stories that I have lived that will never be told—my mind now calls up a peaceful bergerie, wherein an unspoiled baby would come to suffer all humility -- Him, instead of me.


FRENCH VOCABULARY
le repas de Noël = Christmas dinner
de temps en temps
= from time to time
La Naissance de Jésus = The Birth of Jesus
la bergerie (f) = shelter (sheepfold)

 

French-yogurt-cake

MERRY CHRISTMAS! Je vous souhaite un joyeux Noël. And in case you were looking for it, here is the recipe for a classic French cake. (If you cut it into thirds--and stuffed it a bit--it could almost pass for the famous bûche de Noël. That's 3 cakes in one! :-)

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


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


Promesse de vente and the Town we are Moving To!

French-yogurt-cake
End of the year To-Dos. This old photo reminds me--I need to fish out our santons and make a good-for-any-season French Yogurt Cake, (recipe here). I also want to update you on our move and the sale of our vineyard. Read on!

    French Christmas Music: "Mon Beau Sapin", "Sainte Nuit", "La Marche des Rois"... Order CD here.


TODAY'S WORD: la promesse de vente

        : promise to sell

EXAMPLE SENTENCE:
Le 2 décembre, nous avons signé la promesse de vente, et le 21 décembre nous devrions signé la promesse d'achat.
December 2nd we signed the commitment to sell, and December 21st we should sign the commitment to buy.

ECOUTEZ - Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the example sentence:
Download Promesse-de-vente


Say It Right in French - and other books and tools to help improve your pronunciation, click here


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

Hoops, Dots, and Holey Socks


    by Kristi Espinasse

When I spoke about Jean-Marc pruning his vines, last week, and when I write about our upcoming wine bottling, next month, maybe you were (or will be) a little confused. After all, weren't we supposed to sell our vineyard here in St. Cyr?

Yes, and we have! Or have promised to! Earlier this month we signed a promesse de vente!

That moment was surreal in the notaire's office, when before a lawyer we signed over our vineyard and our home. I could feel the jolt my husband took when the notary read a certain "non-compete" clause -- effectively taking away the possibility for Jean-Marc to make wine in the near vicinity of his soon-to-be former vineyard--in his dream appellation of  Bandol! I looked over at my husband, whose thoughts must have been as displaced as his chaussettes (for warmth he wore 4 old--and holed--socks, having come straight from working in the fields to this pivotal rendez-vous).

Jean-Marc-watering


Though Jean-Marc did not flinch, a sense of loss, of no-turning-back-now, permeated the conference room, with its tangled cords and  pile of presentation equipment which had been shoved to the end of a long table, making room for yet another transaction. It could have been any other day in the world of property sales. Business as usual. Just another dot on the face of the planet up for sale.

But what a wondrous dot is was!

This Wednesday, December 21st--a day before my 49th birthday--we will buy another dot (or promise to), and so continue to connect the dots of this French life. (This next move is to La Cadière d'Azur...make that LA CIOTAT) Wish us luck. In order for either sale to take place a list of contingencies must be met. So you see, there are still many hoops to jump through before either sale goes through. Hoops and dots and holey socks. Le cercle de vie continue.


Related story: Jean-Marc's Vineyard Dream and How We Came to Live in Jean-Marc's favorite southern French city


Christmas-in-bandol
Christmas decorations in the seaside town of Bandol



FRENCH VOCABULARY
la promesse de vente = promise to sell
le notaire = notary, attorney, solicitor, lawyer for real estate transactions
une appellation = designation of origin
la chaussette = sock
le rendez-vous (rdv) = meeting, appointment
le cercle de vie = circle of life

 

Circles
I asked my computer to find pictures with "circles" in theme with the end of today's stories. This image popped up, bringing with it good memories of the meals we've shared here at home. The artichoke leaves are from the garden, and will be one of the first things I plant in the new garden!



 Paris-peace t-shirt

Shop for gifts using any of the following links to enter the store.

TABLECLOTH, Provence-themed linens for the house.

LAGUIOLE STEAK KNIVES are for sale in many of the local French market stands.

PARIS PEACE T-SHIRT - "so many people have stopped to ask me where I got it" -Betty.

Yogurtcake

MERCI BEAUCOUP!
Take a moment to forward this post to a friend who may enjoy subscribing to this French word journal - and don't forget to try the French Yogurt Cake, (recipe 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


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


Curfew in French

Spirit-of-christmas-in-cassis
The spirit of Christmas in the seaside town of Cassis.

TODAY'S WORD: le couvre-feu

        : curfew


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

Couvre-feu. Quand vous étiez jeunes, vos parents vous ont-ils imposé un couvre-feu pour rentrer avant minuit?
Curfew. When you were young, did your parents impose a curfew for you to return before midnight?

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


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristi Espinasse

After waiting on my daughter hand and foot over the weekend, and enjoying so much closeness since she's been away for school, all such tenderness abruptly ended yesterday and I have been sulking ever since. It began when Jackie informed me she and her friends were going to drive to Aix-en-Provence to pick up her car.

"But that's not possible," I said. "The doctor says you need to rest and stay home. Besides, what you have is contagious!"

"I need my car! Papa already said I could go...."

"Oh, really?..." I said, mentally kicking Jean-Marc in the butt. "We'll see how you feel tomorrow. And if you do go, you need to be back by nightfall."

"So you are imposing a couvre-feu?" Jackie smiled. With that, we both laughed and settled back into our program -- SNL sketches with the amazing Kristen Wiig!! (I have just discovered this multi-talented comedian who has gotten me through a difficult season.)

Laughing IS the best medicine! But now that I have watched all YouTube videos with Kristen Wigg, I have run out of laughter when I need it most....

The current war I am in with my daughter began with a phone call from Jean-Marc, who was busy pruning in the vineyard. "I've just spoken with the doctor and there's bad news," my husband informed me.

"What what! It's about Jackie? WHAT! Tell me!"

"Calm down!" Jean-Marc said. "She is OK. But she will need to continue to rest...and will not be going to her friend's birthday party on Friday."

Thank God she was OK, but, oh! I could just see this coming. If Jackie could not go to her friend's party, then surely she could not go to Aix to get her car. All this equaled the end of the world for our 19-year-old -- and WORLD WAR THREE for us! This, by the way, brings us back to the term "curfew" or couvre-feu in French. It literally means "fire cover". The couvre-feu is for villagers to return home -- out of the line of fire when the enemy comes.

Entering my daughter's bedroom it looked like a war zone. The curtains were drawn and the darkened room was carpeted with Kleenex.  Empty glasses and soup bowls littered the floor beside my patient's bed. But she wouldn't be in my care for much longer....

"I am sorry, but you cannot go to Aix today... or to Pauline's birthday party tomorrow night. Doctor's orders!"

As expected, my nineteen-year-old fought the decision: "Mais oui j'y vais!! Oh yes I'm going! I am not tired! I feel fine!  What does the doctor know!"

"You had better call your friends right now and tell them not to come pick you up--or I will call them myself!" I said (having no idea how to contact said friends!)

On and on we sparred, one of us defiant and the other slamming doors in her Mama Bear way. I would return to my daughter's room a few more times, intent on getting the respect I deserved! -- only to be thrown out each time.  "Sors de ma chambre! GET OUT!"

The injustice! After all I've done for her!  And this is the thanks I get for caring!! (Slam! Slam! Slam!) I hated to lose my temper. Anger eventually turns inward, and we are disgusted with ourselves and very sad in the end. All the good we have done is erased--in one fell slam--from the black board of life.

"Don't get so down!" Jean-Marc said, after I'd sulked all afternoon. By last night the enormous lump in my throat choked and pulsed, releasing a stream of warm tears which soaked my pillow.

"But she KNOWS I am hurting! Why won't she comfort ME! Why doesn't she care about MY feelings?"

"I didn't think about my parents when I was 19. Did you?" Jean-Marc challenged.

The sweet faces of my parents came to mind. Mom would be all alone in Mexico this Christmas (here the lump in my throat pulsed again!). No, I didn't think about my parents then. But I do--and have for a long time now!

"Why don't you tell Jackie you're sorry?" Jean-Marc suggested.

"Well, not right now!" As sad and angry at myself as I was, I still needed my daughter to apologize first. It was a matter of respect! Besides, I'm the one who is hurting! She is upstairs chatting away with her friends! I can hear her laughing!

"She feels as bad as you do. She just doesn't know how to say she is sorry yet. But she is thinking about it." Jean-Marc explained.

I had not considered that she might feel bad.  She can be such a toughey.... but beneath it there is that tenderness I know so well. It is time, now, to warm some soup--and make a peace offering. Mama Bear is back--along with the spirit of Christmas.

*    *    *

Mama-bear


SABLET HOME - for high quality vacation rentals in the heart of Provence. Click here.           

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

YOUR AD HERE. Reach 25,000 readers. Place an ad in the French Word-A-Day newsletter. Click here.


Baptême_la ciotat 054

Two tougheys (how do you spell tuffy?). Jackie and her brother, Max, in Marseilles, when they were little.

FRENCH COUNTRY DIARY 2017 - the popular and beloved engagement calendar.

KITCHEN TOWELS by Garnier-Thiebaut.

PARIS PEACE T-SHIRT - "so many people have stopped to ask me where I got it" -Betty.

Mama-and-papa-bear
Happy holidays from Mama and Papa Bear.

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


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


La Maladie des Amoureux

Papeterie-aixoise
That's Max behind the door! Today's story begins in Aix-en-Provence, the city of a thousand fountains and tears....


TODAY'S WORD: la maladie

        : illness, sickness, condition, disease, pathosis

le congé de maladie = sick leave
la maladie de la vache folle = mad cow disease
l'assurance maladie = health insurance



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

Download Maladie-des-amoureux

La mononucléose infectieuse est aussi appélee la maladie des amoureux.
Mononucleosis is also called the lovers illness.

Try Pronounce it Perfectly in French or  Exercises in French Phonetics


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristi Espinasse

Friday, after trying to donate our sang at our town's blood drive, we rushed to Aix-en-Provence to pick up our daughter. We found her on the curb of the city's périphérique. Bundled inside a coat and wearing a scarf up to her ears, tears were streaming down her face which looked pale and swollen.

As soon as Jackie got into the car she thanked us for coming to get her. "Je n'ai pas dormi la nuit. Je crois que c'est une angine. Ça fait tellement mal! " I didn't sleep all night. I think I have a throat infection. It hurts so bad!

With that, she curled into a ball in the back seat, beside her her tattered Bunny (plucked nostalgically from storage before she moved to Aix for design school). The sides of her throat were enlarged, her head ached, and when she swallowed a look of extreme douleur creased her face, causing more tears to pour out. "And there is a bump on the back of my head..." she said.

I reached into the back seat and felt behind our 19-year-old's head. The bosse was the size of an olive.

Jackie pushed my hand away, complaining of pain. The other symptoms she mentioned seemed related, but this bump on the back of her head....

"Sweetie. Did you hit your head?"

"I don't think so. Pas que je sache."

I turned back around in the passenger seat and shot a panicked look over to the driver. Jean-Marc hit the gas and soon we arrived the doctor's office--at which point everything slowed way down.....

The next scene could be summed up in one word:  "farce". The dark comedy began with a foreign doctor who spoke worse French than I. Ushering us into her office, she became fussy about seating, rearranging chairs until we grabbed onto one.

"C'est bon. Merci! This one is fine. Thank you!" We were anxious to get Jackie to the pharmacy for some calmants, as soon as we could get a diagnosis and a prescription.

The doctor finally returned to her own chair and caught her breath. (Breath that you could visibly see, so cold was her examining room!) "What brings you here?" she said. But as soon as she spoke, elle s'est pliée en deux!--bent over, it seemed, in a pain of her own!

As she listened to us recount Jackie's symptoms, she leaned in to say something to us. Her hand over her stomach, the doctor shrieked, "J'ai le gastro!" I have diarrhea!

Jean-Marc and I were stunned. Jackie didn't seem to hear, but sat shivering in the examination chair, all but begging for morphine.

For someone who had a bad case of the runs, the doctor seemed bent on getting through the consultation.  She pulled a fresh wooden stick out of a paper envelope and hobbled over to  her patient. But when she reached to dry our daughter's tears, I sensed something was off. Perhaps it was all the dramatics involved in each gesture. The doctor hobbled back and forth to the supply cabinet, to the trash can, each effort punctuated by some or other high-pitched announcement we could not understand (except when she hollered, "C'était les oeufs! The corner store sold me rotten eggs for lunch. And now I have gastro!!)." She shouted each bit of information, holding this audience of three captive, on the edge of our seats!

Twice the size of Dr. Ruth and wearing a suede skirt, the doctor shouted.  "Come, Mama, look at this!"

I shot up, following the doctor's orders. It seemed the sooner we reacted, the sooner we'd get out of here! Hélas....

A stick held down Jackie's tongue but there was nothing to stem her tears. I peered into her throat which was coated white.

"This is (something something) necrosis," the doctor shouted. "There, you see it? Look at that!"

Necrosis  sounded very bad indeed! We needed to get our daughter out of here--out of this ICE BOX and into a warm place with something to calm the pain.

Jean-Marc and I were now leaning over the doctor's desk in an effort to help her write out the information we so desperately needed--directions to an ORL specialist. But there was no rushing things with Dr. Ruth, no matter how desperately she herself needed to go! If Dr. Ruth was THIS ill with le gastro, why did she bother to let us in? I began to wonder, Was this an episode of La Caméra Cachée? When would the film crew reveal themselves?

The film crew never appeared, but the comedie noire continued--with more blood-curdling shouting from the doctor, more doubled-over gestures, and the nerve-racking question: would she make it (to the loo)!

When the three of us finally escaped, we were tongue-tied and in no mood to gossip about the lively doctor. Instead, we were silently thankful she could secure an appointment for Jackie at the ORL specialist--after more hollering and dramatics (Go Dr Ruth!). Here's to all good doctors who so often put their selves aside, to get us on le bon chemin, toward health and well-being. 

***
Update: The ORL said it was not some kind of necrosis. It was...mononuleosis! Jackie will miss the rest of the school semester.


Jackie-stairs
Jackie and her brother Max, who is good at cheering up his sister by making her laugh.


FRENCH VOCABULARY
le périphérique = ring road, beltway
une angine= throat infection
une bosse = bump, lump
la douleur = pain
pas que je sache = not to my knowledge
le calmant = painkiller
se plier en deux = to double over, to bend over in pain
hélas = unfortunately
ORL (oto-rhino-laryngologiste) = ENT specialist
la caméra cachée = candid camera


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Snorkeling
I leave you with some favorite family pictures. Jackie learning to snorkel in the Mediterranean, with Jean-Marc

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Snorkeling-with-jean-marc
Jackie wanted her dad to take her to the doctor. Papa au secours! Daddy to the rescue! (Photo taken around 2004)

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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Donner son sang + Your experiences and tips for giving blood

Red-leaves-on-blueberry-bush
Here at Mas des Brun, the leaves are bright red on our blueberry bush. They are also a reminder of our upcoming appointment this morning! Read on!

TODAY'S WORD:  donner son sang

        : to give one's blood


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

Download Donner-son-sang

Aujourd'hui, Kristi et moi nous allons donner notre sang à St-Cyr-sur-Mer.
Today, Kristi and I are going to give blood in St-Cyr-sur-Mer.

Improve your spoken French. Try Pronounce it Perfectly in French


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristi Espinasse

Jean-Marc is giving his blood again this year--and this time he is dragging me along with him! If I am going it is because I am all out of excuses (real or imagined)....

One, I am not underweight. Two, No longer hypoglycemic (got it under control with so much snacking!), and Three, I am no longer a poule mouillée (the French term for wet chicken, or scaredy cat as we say back home).

But this isn't back home, this is France. I wonder what the experience will be like in the land of Bon Sang!? And I wonder what one needs to do to prepare for a blood-giving session. A handy google search gives me a few astuces. Before giving blood:

    : drink at least 12 ounces of water
    : eat iron rich foods
    : wear a loose-sleeved shirt so the manche can be rolled up
   
Finally, if anxious, do something distracting: talk to the person giving blood beside you, or bring along some reading material (I plan on reading these blog comments. Extra credit today if you can make me laugh!).

I have my doubts about the water-drinking bit...and can already see myself needing to sprint to the W/C - but for the tube stuck in my arm! So now, in addition to the mental games going on in my head (to keep my mind off that blood-sucking tube), my eyes will be darting around the room, scouting out the nearest exit. Come to think of it they're not going to let you just pop up immediately giving blood!

Also, does the oatmeal we had for breakfast have any iron in it? Or should I finally cook up that magret de canard in the back of my frigo?

Finally, this latest google search has brought up a new concern: whether they'll let me give blood after all! I have just failed the Puis-je donner test at Donnerdesang.fr with the following question: Avez-vous voyagé dans les 4 derniers mois ?

Yes! Three months ago I visited my Mom in Mexico!

Zut! I was honestly pumped to finally be giving blood. And now I wonder if they will turn me away today. More than a wet chicken, I'd be crest-fallen!!

*    *    *

I would love to read about your positive experiences giving blood. (See the comments link at the end of this post). And this reminds me, one of the tips I saw on line was this: If you are nervous about giving blood, begin to think about all the people who need it, and how must they be feeling. What are our fears in comparison?



FRENCH VOCABULARY

une poule mouillé = wimp, coward, sissy
une astuce = tip
manche = sleeve
le magret de canard = duck breast
le frigo = fridge
puis-je donner = can I give?
Avez-vous voyagé dans les 4 derniers mois ? = Have you traveled in the last four months?


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Our foutas, yesterday on the beach in Les Lecques...

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Jean-marc-harvesting-sea-urchins
Here is a picture I took of Jean-Marc after writing the post Gone Fishing for oursins. Thank you for reading and for sharing this journal with a friend. Bon week-end!

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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Ramasser and Oursin + vocabulary section

IMG_20131215_123219
When you forward this post to a friend, he or she can use the subscription links in this newsletter to join this list. Thank you for sharing the French word!

TODAY'S WORD: ramasser

        : to gather up, to collect, to pick something up


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

En fin de matinée, je vais aller ramasser des oursins dans la calanque du Port d'Alon.
Later this morning, I'm going to gather sea urchins in the inlet at Port d'Alon.

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


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    "Gone Fishing"

    by Kristi Espinasse

This morning, after he finishes pruning one more section of his vineyard, Jean-Marc is going fishing for oursins--and Smokey and I are going to tag along!

"Will you wear your combinaison de plongée?" I ask my husband, wondering just how cold the water is this time of year.

"Oui.

(It's that cold!)

Weeks before Christmas,  it isn't unusual to see people swimming in the sea. My friend Judith, who is 70, swims daily. I don't think she wears a wet-suit. Maybe the water is warmer up the coast, in La Seyne-sur-Mer? Mais bien sûr que non!

"These people have built up a good resistance," says our friend Henri (I think his real name is Gilbert...). Henri (Gilbert?) owns the neighborhood restaurant, Pizzaria Chez Henri, where we ate le cabillaud and les calamars frits last Sunday, with our kids.  "If you want to swim in this winter, you need to begin training after summer. Here's how...

Il faut nager tous les jours... à la même heure!" You've got to swim every day...at the same hour!

It's too late for Jean-Marc and me to follow this winter swimming regime. We quit swimming in September or October. But it is something to keep in mind for my dreamed up future.... Off now, to watch Jean-Marc ramasser quelques oursins--and to eat them sur place, with some good bread and a dollop of beurre salé.



prepare sea urchins
Jean-Marc and his best friend, Fred, preparing sea urchins for lunch. Photo taken years ago, down the coast in La Ciotat.


FRENCH VOCABULARY

un oursin = sea urchin
une combinaison = suit
combinaison de plongée = for diving
mais bien sûr que non! = of course not!
le cabillaud = cod
le calamar = calamari
frit = fried
ramasser = to gather
sur place = on site, on the spot
le beurre = butter

sea urchins oursin
Gathering sea urchins from the Mediterranean is a tradition Jean-Marc has handed down to our kids (pictured here, in Les Issambres, in 2004)

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SUPPORT THIS JOURNAL
Shop for necessities or gifts using any of the following links to enter the store.

GROCERIES - including French delicacies like herbs, mustard, cakes

FRENCH KNIT REUSABLE ECO SHOPPING BAG - made and knit in France!

FRENCH COUNTRY DIARY 2017 - the popular and beloved engagement calendar.

FOUTAS - perfect gift : quick dry towels for camping, sauna, gym, and massage


PARIS PEACE T-SHIRT - "so many people have stopped to ask me where I got it" -Betty.

Max-and-kristi
With our son, Max, at Pizzaria Chez Henri located at Port de la Madrague, near Les Lecques.

 

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


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


Lacher prise & How I found Peace

1-X-jean-marc kristin
He taught me how to eat cheese--and, lately, how to lâcher prise. Photo of Jean-Marc and me taken in 1993, at La Cloche aux Fromages in Marseilles.


TODAY'S WORD: lâcher prise

        : to let go


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

Download Lacher-prise

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


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE


    by Kristi Espinasse


THIS PEACE

Today is the big day

Lately I've been thinking about
all the peace I feel
When I feared it would be

Regret

I wonder at what point
I began to
let go

Perhaps it took this move
or the previous
or the one before

I could have stayed here
in the land of
milk and honey

Squeezed sweetness out of
This dry ground
A broken farmer's soul

Jean-marc-winestained-t


...were it not for His whisper
Trust me
Lâche prise

You Dear Reader
may feel sad
Have I resigned?

I wonder
at what point
I let go

Began to feel
This peace

*    *    *


Jean-marc-sunset

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


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California