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Entries from November 2017

Enquiquineuse: The famous French advocate who was known as a pain in the neck

Tulette France old cart and wheel patina shed corrugated roof fall autumn french antique

I woke up this morning thinking about my grandmother, Audrey Young. I was remembering a phrase she shared with me at the end of her life, in a nursing home. "The squeaky wheel gets the grease!" she would say. It meant that if you don't pipe up people will not help you!

Sister Emmanuelle, who we learn about today, would have high-fived my Grandma Audrey--and then the two might have enjoyed a gin and tonic together :-) Here is today's word and a profile on a most amazing femme française as part of our discussion on homelessness


ENQUIQUINEUSE

    : a person who is a pain in the neck

AUDIO FILE
: Listen to Jean-Marc read the following sentence in French
 

Click here and Listen to "enquiquineuse"


Mieux vaut passer pour une enquiquineuse qu'on respecte que pour une gentille qu'on piétine.
Better to be regarded as a pain in the neck that one respects than a nice woman that is trampled on.

--from the book 
Etre femme au travail: Ce qu'il faut savoir pour réussir mais qu'on ne vous dit pas Livre d'Anne-Cécile Sarfati
To Be a Woman at Work: What you need to know to succeed but what no one tells you...

Bonjour door matt
Looking for an original gift? Have a look at this doormat...or find something else unique via this link.


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE


by Kristin Espinasse


Y A L L A ! 


Soeur Emmanuelle was a French nun, well known as one of France's favorite personnages. Born "Madeleine Cinquin" in Belgium, at the age of 22 she left her dancing shoes behind--along with that devilish grin (ah, men!)--took her vows, changed her name and became a professeur.

Diplômée in Philosophy at the Sorbonne, she went on to teach in Egypt, Turkey and Tunisia. Though she taught Literature and Philosophy, such intellectual heights never interfered with her street smarts which kept her--and her giant heart--close to the pavement: the pavement that is pauvreté: cold, walked upon, fragile and cracked... and littered with trash. Trodden and overlooked, this "pavement" was something she would never let herself forget.

Poverty... ignited a revolt within her, leading to her outspokenness, to her famous "franc-parler," which often ruffled the feathers of her frères and led to her being labeled an "enquiquineuse": a veritable pain in the neck, a pro-action pest!
 
Her appearance did not betray her values. From those two large bobby pins haphazardly stuck to each side of her veiled head... to the track shoes on her feet (over the thick socks and nylons), one could surmise that she was in a hurry to catch up with one ever-menacing foe: Destitution. 

Which brings us smack back to the pavement and to those poubelles. You might say (in a chuckling way) that trash defined her. She might have been "Soeur Chiffonnière," for she "housed" herself next door to the trash gatherers, or "zabbaleen" (many of whom are children), in one of Cairo's worst slums, where she settled after her "retirement". Troisieme âge, for her, would be spent in combat, always a "combat du coeur": from the heart, for the helpless.

There in a lice- and rat-ridden bidonville, home for her was a 4-meter square room--without water, without electricity. According to Dr. Mounir Neamatalla, a leading Egyptian expert in environmental science and poverty reduction:

"She was living right among them, the garbage collectors, the pigs, the whole mess. I had never seen anything like this in my life... You could see one of the worst qualities of life on the planet, but in this inferno was an enterprising population that worked like ants."

Working side-by-side with "les misérables" Sister Emmanuelle advanced toward her goal, raising money to build schools and hospitals. She also created vegetable gardens for the poor to nourish themselves. Her roommate, Sister Sara, spoke of her character, saying that when a problem arose, Soeur Emmanuelle exclaimed: "On va foncer!" to which Sara softly suggested that they might first pray for guidance and direction. For Sister Emmanuelle, "direction" seemed to be something you sought after first jumping to your feet!

So is it any wonder that, asked about her favorite word, Sister Emmanuelle shouted with glee: "Yalla!" Asked to translate the word, she responded, "En avant!"

Amen, Sister! "Forward march" all the way. Your lumière may have gone out, just three weeks shy of your 100th birthday, but your legacy lights our consciences today...and tomorrow--and for as far into the future as the pest that is poverty stretches its condemning claws. Thank you for showing us that a selfless heart, coupled with awareness, is just not enough. It also takes yalla (yalla-yalla-yalla!) to relieve misery. First we must jump to our feet... then inquire about those directions.
 
***
PS: Soeur Emmanuelle, I have a confession. As a child, I looked up to movie stars (Shirley Temple, The Bionic Woman), as a teen, I admired glamorous runway models (Paulina Porizkova, Estelle Lefébure) as a young woman I pined over literary figures (it didn't really matter who they were, if they were writers I pined). I just want you to know, Chère Soeur, that while you didn't have the strength of Lindsay Wagner or Paulina's perfect posture -- I'm finally beginning to realize that, more than celebrity or vanity fair, it's really all about what's "in there"... and it is going to take a lot of big hearts to fill those little track shoes of yours, and to keep moving "en avant!" 

For more information on Soeur Emmanuelle's charity: visit www.asmae.fr

le personnage (m) = character, individual; le professeur (m) = teacher; diplômé(e) (from "diplômer" = to award a diploma); la pauvreté (f) = poverty; le franc-parler (m) = outspokenness; le frère (m) = brother (religious); la poubelle (f) = trash or garbage can; chiffonnier (chiffonnière) = rag picker; le troisième âge (m) = retirementle bidonville (m) = shanty town; les misérables (mf) = the destitute; on va foncer! = Charge! (Let's get to it!); la lumière (f) = light

Soeur emmanuelle confessions d'une religieuse flammarion

A must-read! Pick up a copy of Soeur Emmanuelle's book in French


ALTRUISM, OXYTOCIN, AND WHY WE FEEL BETTER WHEN WE GIVE

After posting Soeur Emmanuelle's story the first time, in 2008, I read a fascinating response to it in the comments, by Intuit:

"Soeur Emmanuelle" was a remarkable example of a most necessary social behavior, altruism. She devoted her life to helping others. This trait is natural to humans; it evolved long ago as the 'glue' of all socially organized organisms: the 'whole' is more than the sum of its parts when self and others have equal weight in our decisions and actions.

Now, more than at any time in human history, we humans must encourage altruism within our families, locally in our communities and through our group actions from afar, as Nation and Planet.

Here is the secret behind altruism: it is elicited through release of oxytocin within our brains. This hormone is the ultimate 'feel good' chemical because it is the essence of love, friendship, and tolerance of others. It is fundamental to the building and maintenance of social networks built with trust, respect and affection.

It is our social networks that ensure individual and group survival during difficult times. The payback in this equation is that these social networks improve brain repair as we age through reduced chronic stress. We 'share our load' with others.

It is oxytocin that normalizes our thought patterns, tamps down brain-damaging responses of fear, aggression and anger. It enables us to readily appreciate our present, rather than living in the past or longing for our future that short-circuits our perception of the passage of time.

From deep in our brains, it normalizes our secretion of dopamine and serotonin, so that we feel pleasure at our successes and keep to productive daily patterns, rather than sink into depression while mired in unproductive circular reasoning and action.

Alongside prayer and meditation, it is the practice of altruism that underlies all spiritual belief.

Exemplary humans like "Soeur Emmanuelle" have an abundance of affection for the poor children of the world - a model of courage, trust and love. 

 

Also check out The Original French Tumbler. Made of Picardy glass, these are suitable for hot or cold drinks! Click here to order.

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


Invisible People (aka SDF, sans-abri, sans logement, va-nu-pieds)

Family under the bridge

Read The Family Under the Bridge to a young person and help spread homelessness awareness. "Armand, an old Parisian living on the streets of Paris, relished his solitary life. He begged and did odd jobs for money to keep himself warm and fed, and he liked his carefree life. Then one day just before Christmas, a struggling mother and her three children walked into his life..." Click here to order a copy for yourself or to offer as a gift!

INVISIBLE PEOPLE
I recently discovered a YouTube channel called Invisible People and I cannot stop watching it. It's like getting an entire education in homelessness by the homeless. Each episode is very short, between 3 and 9 minutes, and profiles an S.D.F. or homeless person--from a soft-spoken 83-year-old living in his car...to this resourceful, and creative woman. Do not hesitate to watch several of these eye-opening interviews. And after viewing a number of them, I guarantee you will be incapable of passing a homeless person on the street without stopping to say hello. You may even venture to ask them their story. 

Last night I was tossing and turning in bed and could not get comfortable after pockets of cold air kept entering beneath the covers (our heater broke). I began thinking about some of the people who shared their stories of scavenging for cardboard to sleep on at night--or looking for a blanket after their own covers were stolen! We think thieves break into homes, but it is the homeless who are most often victims of theft. 

Add to the misconceptions about homelessness our own insensitivities. How many of us have innocently joked about looking like a clochard or a hobo, when we really meant to say we need to get cleaned up? We mean no disrespect to the sans-abri, we just aren't thinking about our words. 

This week we will revisit stories of homelessness from the French Word-A-Day archives. In this first story, which took place around 2003, my mom is wandering around the southern French town of Draguignan, when a homeless person confronts her and a few misunderstandings ensue (including a few from readers of the story itself!). Click here for the story and many thanks for reading and sharing. 


Soupe populaire

A tip I learned from Mark Horvath, the creator of Invisible People--and from my Superhero sister-in-law: Give chaussettes! Homeless people go through a lot of socks as they travel in and out of shelters (which often close from 6 a.m to 7 pm--leaving the homeless out on the streets all day) or look for shelters. Share more tips on how to help the homeless, in the comments box below. 

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


Afin de + When, just like that, a cultural curiosity is demystified

Nador Morocco fisherman beach red cap

In order to express thanks and gratitude, in Arabic, the term "chukran" is used. (Hear this sentence in French, below.) Photo taken on the northeast coast of Morocco, at Tmadet Sidi El Bachir. 

Today's word: "afin de"

    : so as, in order to, 

AUDIO FILE: Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the following sentence in French: 

Click here to hear the sound clip

Afin d'exprimer remerciements et gratitude, en arabe, c'est le terme « choukran » qui est prononcé. -- L'Arabe facile.fr



A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE


    by Kristin Espinasse

I told you recently about Jean-Marc surprising me with a trip to.... Nador. As soon as he revealed the destination, I quickly googled for more info only to learn that Nador is "a non-touristic town" on the northern border of Morocco--very near the Algerian border. 

"Non-touristic"? I felt uneasy about traveling to un tel endroit.  After all, the U.S. Passports and International Travel site warns "against travel to remote areas of Algeria due to the threat of terrorist attacks and kidnapping". Wasn't the border of Morocco/Algeria a bit remote?

As we waited at the airport for our passport verification, the line to our left (travelers going to Rome--where we were initially headed before the surprise switch-a-roo) were whisked forward--quickly passing the checkpoint. Looking around our own slow-moving queue, which zigzagged back 3 lines deep, I noticed my husband and I were the only non-Moroccans headed for Nador. I began to pick-up on something else, too... all the women in line wore headscarves (except the youngest girls and one other woman who resembled a Moroccan pop star (she wore bright red lipstick, stylishly painted eyebrows, and her long hair was as glossy and as straight as her stilletos which peeked out beneath tight leather pants. It was reassuring to see her at the other end of the Moroccan Dress Spectrum, and I now felt I fit in somewhere on that spectrum, hélas not too close to the other's red-lacquered freedom of expression. I am most comfortable blending in with the scenery (don't get me wrong. I don't want to be dull, rather, more like one more blossom on a Bird of Paradise plant). But blending in with the Nadorian scenery is something that would be impossible for the next 4 days (on our entire trip, besides an alarming amount of refugees, we saw only 4 other foreign-looking people in Nador--a couple who may have been French and two women, from Holland?)....

Seated on the airplane, now, next to a woman whose head was covered with a black scarf, I was surprised when my seatmate asked me if the headscarf which she had just readjusted looked OK. Est-ce que ça va comme ça? She innocently asked.

Was she talking to me? I can't even tie a French scarf!

Seizing the demystifying and honorable moment I gave my best assessment of the complex-to-me head-and-neck covering--and then showed a thumbs-up for extra reassurance.

As we deplaned I regretted the missed opportunity to have asked my seatmate for her opinion and knowledge as well. There were so many enigmas swirling in my head. Mainly, I needed to know how to say hello and thank you in Arabic, because you can go a long way in any culture with those two magic words.

Kristi vegetarian couscous
  
Jean-Marc loved the couscous that we were served, nightly, at our Riad Dar Nador. This beautiful bed and breakfast cost around 100 euros per night including breakfast and dinner. The staff (two women) were so kind, as was the owner.  When we returned to France, I tried to recreate those simple vegetarian couscous dinners that Jean-Marc looked forward to each evening.

Vegetarian couscous morocco pumkin zuccini grains raisins onion honey garlic tablecloth

Here is a quick recipe I jotted down on Facebook. I'm working on it, so do let me know what you think would be a good addition to it! It's already very good in this simple way:

You'll need a jar of "couscous spices" (link below). Next, boil in a medium saucepan, some pumpkin (I used butternut), zucchini, and raisins (add the couscous spices, to your liking), then pour the cooking water over the couscous grains (I used one cup grains, one cup liquid. Steam for 5 minutes. Transfer the couscous to the plates and arrange the boiled vegetables on top. Top with sauteed purple onion (cooked with garlic and honey). Update: I added chickpeas next time around! Will be making this regularly now. It will be a nice break from all the chili we've been eating!

You can help support this word journal by using these links when you shop at Amazon. Many thanks in advance!

COUSCOUS SPICES-Ingredients from over 30 different herbs and spices include: Grains of Paradise, Lavender, turmeric, ajawan seeds, kalajeera, ginger, galangal, oris root, rose buds, monk's pepper, cinnamon and more

TAGINE--beautiful Moroccan clay cooking pots, see a selection here

Travel Baggage--Onboard waterproof spinner suitcase

For those who know and love Cattier French beauty products, you can find them here on Amazon.

  Image

Subscribe to France Today or FrenchEntrée magazine and you'll also receive a copy of 'PARIS Cityscope' absolutely FREE! 272-pages of insightful advice on where to visit when in Paris, written by leading Paris-based author and blogger Adam Roberts. Click here for more info



Max and Jean-Marc at Vin Sobres
Meet Jean-Marc and our son Max in Texas and in Portland! 

Max and Jean-Marc will be pouring the very last US bottles of Mas des Brun and other delicious wines next December in TX and OR. If you live nearby, don't miss 
seeing them.

Houston,  TX : December 13th at 7 PM
- Winemaker Dinner at Bistro Provence13616 Memorial Drive. Tel : 713-827-8008. Reservation needed. 

Portland, OR: December 15th :
- Blackbird Wine Shop ~ Drop in tasting, 6-8 PM. 4323 NE Fremont Street
Portland OR  : December 16th :
- Pastaworks at City Market ~ Drop in Tasting, Noon - 2 PM. 735 NW 21st Avenue
- Providore Fine Foods ~ Drop in tasting, 2 30-4 30 PM. 2340 NE Sandy Blvd
The Harvest Wine Bar ~ Winemaker Dinner, 6 PM. 14559 Westlake Dr, Lake Oswego. Tel : 503-747-7263. Reservations needed
 
Jean-Marc Espinasse
 
For any questions, please call  or email Jean-Marc at jm.espinasse@gmail.com

 

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


Dépaysement - one of Jean-Marc's favorite French words!

IMG_20171116_104503

After a recent dog-walking clash there was no time to linger in the comfort zone of home, dwelling on a negative experience. Une nouvelle expérience awaited just around the corner of North Africa.... 
  

LE DÉPAYSEMENT

    : change of scene

* dépaysement can also have a negative connotation, for it also means "culture shock" or  "disorientation" 

AUDIO FILE - hear Jean-Marc read the following sentence in French

Dépaysement sentence

J'enregistre ce message vocal à l'aéroport de Nador où nous avons passé trois jours de complet dépaysement dans ce pays le Maroc, en visite de differents lieux comme Saidia, Tibouda, et la Lagune de Nador. I am recording this message at the airport in Nador where we have spent three full days of a complete change of scenery in the country of Morocco, visiting different places like Saidia, Tibouda, and the Lagoon of Nador.

High quality vacation rental in the heart of Provence. Recommended by readers. Click here for photos


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristi Espinasse

Like a gourmand who is already devising his next meal while enjoying the present one, those who have been bitten by the travel bug are plotting the next destination even as their return flight is touching down in their hometown.

Our hometown was Marseilles when I moved to the Hexagone in 1992, and it was my future husband who had (still has) the travel bug. I am a true homebody, une casanière, or have become one after reaching my ultimate destination (La France). Even if I am thankful for a husband who regularly tugs me out of my comfort zone, I still cannot shake the resistance I feel when I hear his now familiar words: Et si on va à.... How about if we go to...

It was on the tail end of our September périple to France's Island of Beauty that Jean-Marc suggested we go to Rome "la prochaine fois." When you live near a major airport and have access to low-cost carriers such as EasyJet and Ryan air--you can easily and cheaply voyage to a rainbow of Mediterranean destinations all for around 60 or 80 euros aller-retour. And, if you are my husband, you can find a good bargain hotel sur place!

So it was that on Tuesday we stood in line for our next adventure--et c'est le cas de le dire!  I had left it up to Jean-Marc to surprise me about the destination (this being a good exercise in going with the flow). But on the eve of our departure, I needed my husband to break his silence and let me know which city we were flying to--it would mean the difference between packing boots (for Rome?) or sandals (for Greece?) or a parka (for Russia? No! he was only teasing about ce dernier!). 

But it never occurred to me that I might need to pack a headscarf....

*    *    *
Nador Morocco
Coastline near the border of Algeria....

To be continued (click here for part two). Meantime, I would love it if you would share your own experiences traveling to a culture different than your own. Did you make any faux-pas? What surprised you about the country and its ways? Any negative experiences? Or mostly positive ones? 



FRENCH VOCABULARY

une périple = trek, journey
la prochaine fois = the next time
aller-retour = round trip
un casanier, une casanière = homebody, homebird
sur place = on site
c'est la cas de le dire! = you can say that again! 
ce dernier = the latter

Build your vocabulary by reading one more story from the archives. This one, in which my mother-in-law is about to reveal the names of all my husband's ex-girlfriends, is a fun way to boost your French! 

Very good news for readers who would like to support this blog, by purchasing Amazon items via my associates links below. These links will now work for readers in the UK, FRANCE, GERMANY, and SPAIN. Try them out, and here are a few suggested items that I personally like, and thank you for your support!:

Embryolisse French face cream

Illy Coffee - 100 percent arabica

New books on France... this one, by David Downie, is next up in my reading.

And, finally, a good immersion blender (it's soup season!)

Max and jean-marc espinasse

Meet Jean-Marc and our son Max (all grown up now!) in Texas and in Portland. 

Max and Jean-Marc will be pouring the very last US bottles of Mas des Brun and other delicious wines next December in TX and OR. If you live nearby, don't miss 
seeing them.

Houston,  TX : December 13th at 7 PM
- Winemaker Dinner at Bistro Provence13616 Memorial Drive. Tel : 713-827-8008. Reservation needed. 

Portland, OR: December 15th :
- Blackbird Wine Shop ~ Drop in tasting, 6-8 PM. 4323 NE Fremont Street
Portland OR  : December 16th :
- Pastaworks at City Market ~ Drop in Tasting, Noon - 2 PM. 735 NW 21st Avenue
- Providore Fine Foods ~ Drop in tasting, 2 30-4 30 PM. 2340 NE Sandy Blvd
The Harvest Wine Bar ~ Winemaker Dinner, 6 PM. 14559 Westlake Dr, Lake Oswego. Tel : 503-747-7263. Reservations needed
 
Jean-Marc Espinasse
 
For any questions, please call  or email Jean-Marc at jm.espinasse@gmail.com



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Enjoy 62 pages of the best Provence has to offer with this special selection of writings from France Today. Download for FREE

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 Prise de bec - unexpected run-in with a stranger while walking my dog

Ever since I dislocated my elbow while walking my dog, outings with my golden retriever have changed. I am more aware of the dangers around every corner. Giant barking dogs can leap out of nowhere, causing a dog on a leash to react in self defense, and even tiny chiens can wreak havoc. For walks to go smoothly, you have to know your dog, be alert, and have a back-up plan--my own is to quickly change sidewalks or change direction, but this reflex did not work for us recently.  

Saturday's drame was similar to the one that landed me in ER, only this time there was a better ending (if not a happy one). Things had gotten off to a good start, last weekend, when I swallowed past fears and took control of the leash. If we let a bad experience get the best of us, our world becomes smaller and smaller--and so does that of our loved ones! 

Smokey and I headed out into the sunny horizon, one of us mumbling a mantra of positives--the other naturally oblivious to life's What ifs?

Keeping my dog reined in close to my side, we smiled (did you know goldens smile?) at the customers seated in the cafés along the seafront. A waiter seemed to recognize us from the neighborhood, which elevated our spirits even higher.

As the pavement ended, we proceeded onto the dirt-paved area that opens out before the sea. That's when Smokey stalled....

I recognized this behavior. It signaled he was about to bolt. Looking up, I saw the object of his interest: a glossy long-haired retriever that looked very similar to Smokey, only a bit smaller. As I quickly turned to redirect Smokey, the two men walking the dog smiled brightly. I recognized that sourire, it said, Aw, c'est mignon! Our dogs are interested in each other. Let's introduce them....

I smiled back in a thanks but this is not a good idea way -- but it was too late. Smokey began dragging me forward over the slippery ground. I was quickly losing my balance and made the decision to drop the leash (something I would not--and could not!--do the last time, and ended up in that ambulance)....

My golden retriever charged toward the smaller dog and the two were soon caught up in a tangle of barking.  Everything happened so fast and I heard myself shouting, Ne vous inquiètez pas. Il ne va pas attaquer! Don't worry, he won't attack!

That is when one of the men yanked my dog away from his dog and tossed Smokey toward me. With that, he shouted, Il ne va pas attaquer??!! IL NE VA PAS ATTAQUER???

I grabbed Smokey and my adrenaline held him in place. The two men walked off spouting anger our way. 

My mind was reeling. They don't know my dog! They don't know he is a survivor! Attacked by two dogs as a puppy he was not expected to live. LIVE HE DID! Smokey went on to live 9 lives and after another cancer diagnosis, this past summer, I was told he was lucky to be alive, but not to count on a much longer life.... 

I realize none of this matters to the men whose dog has just been threatened by my dog. I just wished to explain to them that while Smokey may bark up a storm -- he'll soon scramble to hide behind the very dust he's kicked up!

This time the two of us sat there in the dust. Dazed, I finally got up off the ground, swallowed the lump in my throat and walked home with my tears and my dog, who was back on his leash. Smokey and I had made so much progress since we moved from the country to the city, where he--where both of us--would have to adjust to les citoyens. As upset as I was over this unexpected pris de bec, or run-in, I could still put myself in the other dog owner's shoes, and I knew I would have reacted the same way, too.  What saddened me was the misunderstanding that remained. 

Today Smokey and I could both use a walk. Instead we are holed up inside, our worlds having rétréci, or grown just a little bit smaller.  We will figure out a way forward, meantime there's a lump in our way (or in my throat). I leave you with a recent picture/video of Smokey R. Dokey. I hope you can see it below (tap the the middle of the picture, until you see an arrow, to make Smokey's tail wag!).

The regular edition of French Word-A-Day will be back next week. See you then.

Amicalement,

Kristi
   

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


Today is Armistice Day. Share about a Veteran.

War monunent allied forces fallen soldiers Normandy beach france moment of silence
By tradition, in France, two minutes of silence are respected at 11 am, the 11th day of the 11th month: it is at this time that the armistice was implemented. Listen to this sentence in French, just below.


JOUR DE L'ARMISTICE

    : also known as Le Jour du Souvenir, and Veterans Day, November 11th is an official day to remember those who sacrificed their lives in WWI and other wars

Armistice soundfile: Hear Jean-Marc read the following sentence


En France, il est traditionnellement respecté deux minutes de silence à 11 h, le 11e jour du 11e mois : c'est à ce moment que l'armistice a été rendu effectif. -Wikipedia


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

by Kristi Espinasse

The following story may seem an unusual rememembrance, on Veterans Day, until you read to the end.

In the winter of 2001, I left work at the vineyard each night to drive myself to driving school, careful to take the back roads and to park several blocks from the Auto-École Rivière. Though I had driven for ten years in the States, and another six in France, I had failed to exchange my Arizona driver's license for a French one, having had two years to do so. Time and again, Jean-Marc assured me that I had the right to drive in France (convinced that my AAA International Driving Permit was enough, never mind the expiration date), until one day he realized that his wife was driving without insurance (!!!); that is, should she get into an accident, the insurance contract would be void ($$$) without her having a French permis de conduire.

Having spent weeknights at driving school, attending class with would-be motorists half my age, and having finally passed l'épreuve théorique, or written exam, in the town of Fréjus, I would soon be navigating the streets of Draguignan... with a stone-faced inspecteur seated beside me.

On exam day, I shared the test vehicle with a wide-eyed eighteen-year-old who had just been ordered to pull over and get out. "Out! You are a danger to yourself and to others!" the inspecteur shouted. Seated in the back of the car, waiting my turn, I tried to understand just what my unfortunate classmate had done wrong, but was jolted out of my pensées when the inspector resumed his tirade.

"FAILED!" the inspecteur barked. He shouted a few more insults before the French kid got into the back of the car, at which point I was ordered into the driver's seat: "A vous, madame!"

"Allez-y!" the inspecteur commanded, checking his watch. I said a prayer to Saint Christopher, patron saint of safe travel (not knowing who the saint was for driver's-exam scoring), put on the left-turn signal, and drove out of the quiet neighborhood into the chaotic streets of Draguignan at rush hour.

"You don't need to be so obvious!" the inspector snapped when I threw my chin left after turn-signaling. Moments ago I'd signaled a right turn and thrown my chin over my right shoulder for good measure. We had been warned in driving school to exaggerate our gestures during testing to show the inspecteur that we were aware of those dangerous "angles morts" or blind spots. "Et les vitesses!" the inspector grumbled after I'd ground the gears once again. "Oh, but aren't cars automatic in America?!" he snickered.

Though I had been stick-shifting for sixteen years, seated next to the inspecteur I felt like I was operating a vehicle for the first time. Having completed the twenty-minute parcours through the center of Draguignan, where the unpredictable French pedestrian is king and capable of jumping from sidewalk to street center in the blink of an eye, I followed the inspecteur's instructions, pulling up in front of the American cemetery, which seemed like a bad omen to me. The inspecteur sat silently, filling out paperwork, before announcing it was time to check my vision. He ordered me to read the sign across the street. Squinting my eyes, I began:

"World War II Rhone American Cemetery and Memor...".

Before I had even finished reading, the inspector scribbled something across the page, tore off the sheet, and mumbled "Félicitations."

Ornery as he was, I had the urge to throw my arms around the inspecteur and plant a kiss beside his angry brow; only, the commandant was no longer facing me, but looking out over the quiet green fields dotted white with courage, lost in another place and time.

*     *     *

Books about the war in France...by our readers! If your French war-related book isn't mentioned, remind me and I'm happy to add it to the list

La Réunion: Finding Gilbert by Diane Covington-Carter

Alan's Letters, by Nancy Rial

Your name is Renée: Ruth Kapp Hartz's story as a Hidden Child in Nazi-Occupied France

French Vocabulary

Auto-École Rivière = Riviera Driving School
le permis (m) de conduire = driver's license
l'inspecteur (l'inspectrice) = inspector
la pensée = thought
A vous, madame = Your turn, Madam
Et les vitesses! = And the gears!
le parcours = driving route
les félicitations (fpl) = congratulations
le commandant = captain

Golden retriever and poppies veterans day armistice remembrance
It is soon to be 11 a.m. and Smokey and I are on our way down to the beach, to join others in a few moments of silence. Feel free to share something about Le Jour du Souvenir or Veterans Day, in the comments below.

Max and Jean-Marc
Meet Jean-Marc and our son Max in Texas and in Portland. 

Max and Jean-Marc will be pouring the very last ​US ​bottles of Mas des Brun and other delicious wines next December in TX and OR. If you live nearby, don't miss 
​seeing them.

Houston, ​TX ​: December 13th at 7 PM

- Winemaker Dinner at Bistro Provence, 13616 Memorial Drive, Houston Texas 77079. Tel : 713-827-8008. Reservation needed. 
 
Portland, ​OR: December 15th :
- Blackbird wine Shop ~Drop in tasting, 6-8 PM
 
Portland ​OR ​: December 16th :
- Pastaworks at City Market ~ Drop in Tasting, Noon - 2 PM 735 NW 21st Avenue
- Providore Fine Foods ~ Drop in tasting, 2 30-4 30 PM 2340 NE Sandy Blvd
- Harvest Wine Bar ~ Winemaker Dinner, 6 PM. 14559 Westlake Dr, Lake Oswego, OR 97035. Tel : 503-747-7263. Reservations needed
 
For any questions, please Email Jean-Marc at jm.espinasse@gmail.com

Poppies in remembrance
Nous n'oublierons jamais. We will not forget. 

IMG_20171111_110552

Back, now, from the beach. Smokey and I were seated on a bench, waiting for the 11th hour when a man walked into this very scene. A newsboy cap on his head, scraggly hair sticking out, and a fuzzy salt and pepper beard, he stood beside that tree and began to stare out to sea. His face was puffy and his eyes were glazed. I thought, He, too, must be observing Remembrance Day.

I had the urge to say something to him. Instead, I looked around to see if others had paused, as it was now exactly 11 a.m. There was a woman in the sea doing aerobics. A couple jogging by with their dog. A kid on a skateboard whirled by, right between the sad looking man and I. The man's seaward gaze broke. No, he, like the others, is thinking of something else, I thought.

Another moment later, a woman appeared a few meters away and the man turned and walked toward her. That's when the tears broke. He wiped his eyes on the back of each shirt sleeve. He had spent his moment of silence alone, as planned, and returned now to his companion.

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


Ristourne & Ristourner + Name something good that is free

Cassis france
I don't have a story to go with today's word. Tout simplement, I learned it Friday night on the backstreets, or les ruelles, of Cassis. About a hundred steps from the old port, Jean-Marc and I were dining with another couple when the word ristourne popped up in conversation. Here's what it means, followed by a few photos on this quiet Wednesday. First, please visit today's sponsor:

High quality vacation rental in the heart of Provence. Recommended by readers. Click here for photos

une ristourne

    : a discount, a reduction, a price knock-off

 

Listen to today's word in the following sentencee, read by Jean-Marc

L'amour n'est pas une dette à rembourser, il ne fait pas de crédit, il n'accepte pas les ristournes. - Federico Moccia
Love is not a debt to repay, it does not issue a credit, it does not accept rebates. 

Smokey and clown at circus
While out on a walk with Smokey...we visited the dog designated beach. After a swim, we stopped by the circus, which was passing through town.


Telephone booth repurposed book lending giving library golden retriever smokey and kristi
One of my favorite free pasttimes, besides walking with Smokey, is to stop by this old telephone booth that has been repurposed into a street library! The shelves are made of wooden crates, and the pickings are slim, but the books are ever changing! Part of the fun is to see what's new each time we pass by. The same two dozen used books are there--with several new ones exchanged into the mix...

Messegue herbier sante
Here is the first free book I scored! It is loaded with beautiful color illustrations of plants and their healing properties, which is right up my alley!

More books by the famous French herbalist, Maurice Mességué:

Way to Natural Health and Beauty

Of People and Plants: Autobiography of Europe's Most Celebrated Healer

Maillard and Millet Trigonometrie classe de mathematiques
Admittedly, trigonometry is less up my alley...but just look at this cool book cover!

Le ronfleur apprivoise petite encyclopedie pratique

 Quelle trouvaille! What a find--and just in the nick of time! A book all about snoring. I'm hoping there will be some good tips in here so that when I fly to the States, in December, I do not keep all 300+ passengers on the plane awake! There is no way to do chambre à part in this high-elevation situation. 

Thanks, Polly-Vous Français, for pointing out the book's cover drawing is by Sempé

Smokey and the churros van

Name some of the good things in life that are free. I would love to read your ideas and be inspired by your words.

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


"Donner le meilleur de soi-même" + urban winemakers Fabienne & Lukas Vollmy in Marseille's historic Panier

Lukas vollmy of microcosmos chai panier marseille
Enjoy Jean-Marc's bilingual story about meeting Lukas and Fabienne Vollmy, winemakers in the historic Panier neighborhood of Marseille. First, today's French expression, followed by its correct pronunciation....


"donner le meilleur de soi-même"

    : to give one's best


AUDIO FILE - hear Jean-Marc pronounce the following sentences in French 

Click here for the sound file

("donner le meilleur de soi-même") Les vignes, c'est comme les humains. Plus elles vieillissent, plus elles donnent le meilleur d'elles mêmes grâce à leur assise des racines profondément implantées dans le sol.

(" to give one's best") Vines are like humans. The older they become, the more they give their best thanks to their roots rooted deep in the soil.


JEAN-MARC TALKS ABOUT WINE

"Les Vignes et Les Humains"

Depuis que j'évolue dans le monde du Vin, j'ai très souvent fait la corrélation entre la qualité d'un vin et l'âge des vignes qui le composent.
Since evolving in the world of wine, I have very often made the correlation between the quality of a wine and the age of the vines that compose it.

Il y a une raison simple à cela. Plus une vigne devient âgée, plus elle s'enracine dans le sol et plus elle a la possibilité de nourrir le raisin avec l'ensemble des composants du sol. Paradoxalement, plus la vigne est "vielle", moins elle va produire de raisins alors que son potentiel nourricier devient plus important. Il en résulte que les raisins produits sont de meilleure qualité car ils sont amenés à parfaite maturité.

There is a simple reason for this. The older a vine is, the more it is rooted in the soil and the more it can feed the grapes with all the under ground components. Paradoxically, the more the vine is "old", the less it will produce grapes while its nurturing potential becomes more important. As a result, the grapes produced are of better quality because they are brought to perfect maturity.

Harvesting grenache grapes in France Cote du Rhone
Our friend Jeffrey harvesting centenary old grenache grapes at our first vineyard


La semaine dernière, j'ai pu à nouveau valider cette règle en dégustant un vin exceptionnel, produit dans ma belle ville de Marseille.
Last week, I was able to validate this rule again by tasting an exceptional wine produced in my beautiful city of Marseille.

En plein cœur du quartier populaire du Panier, Fabienne et Lukas Vollmy y ont installé un "Chais Urbain" pour vinifier des raisins achetés à des viticulteurs locaux. J'avais déjà entendu parler de cette belle initiative peu commune et par hasard, alors que nous avons eu la visite de Deirdre et Caleb qui font des vins naturels remarquables dans le Vermont (Merci à Nina qui m'a envoyé le livre de Deirdre "An Unlikely Vineyard"), nous avons dégusté un blanc issu de la cave Microcosmos, un magnifique "blanc de noirs" élaboré à base de Cinsault.

In the heart of the popular Panier district, Fabienne and Lukas Vollmy have set up an "Urban Wine Making Warehouse" to vinify grapes purchased from local winemakers. I had already heard about this beautiful and unusual initiative and by chance, while we had the visit of Deirdre and Caleb that make remarkable natural wines in Vermont (Thanks to Nina who sent me Deirdre's book "An Unlikely Vineyard", we tasted a white from the cellar Microcosmos, a beautiful "white from black (grapes)" made from Cinsault.

An unlikely vineyard deirdre heekin

Caleb deirdre heekin jean-marc kristi espinasse mas de brun vineyard st cyr-sur-mer

Dans le Sud de la France, il est très rare de déguster des blancs issus de raisins noirs car la peau va vite tinter le jus lors du pressurage, rendant le jus de raisins rosé. Mais le Cinsault est un raisin de grosse taille avec une peau fine est peu teinturière. Cette double curiosité a encore plus éveillé mon envie d'aller voir ce qu'y se passe à Microcosmos, d'autant que nous avons souvent communiqué dès lors avec Fabienne depuis notre mise en relation virtuelle du printemps dernier.

In the South of France, it is very rare to taste whites from black grapes because the skin will quickly tint the juice during pressing, making the grape juice rosé. But Cinsault is a big grape with a thin skin with little color. This double curiosity has even more aroused my desire to see what is happening at Microcosmos, especially as we have often communicated with Fabienne since our virtual connection last spring.

Fabienne Vollpy of Microcosmos

Ma visite de la semaine dernière ne m'a pas déçu. J'ai rencontré Fabienne, une femme passionnée, pleine d'énergie et élaborant des vins très représentatif d'un état d'esprit où la Nature est au centre, en dépit d'un environnement urbain. Et lorsque j'ai voulu dégusté ce fameux blanc, Fabienne m'a dit que maintenant ces raisins sont vinifiés en rouge. Comme pour le blanc issus de ces mêmes raisins, j'ai apprécié un vin avec une véritable âme.

My visit last week did not disappoint me. I met Fabienne, a passionate woman, full of energy and elaborating wines very representative of a state of mind where Nature is at the center, in spite of an urban environment. And when I wanted to taste this famous white, Fabienne told me that now these grapes are vinified in red. As for white from these same grapes, I enjoyed a wine with a real soul.

Et puis j'ai appris que 2017 sera la dernière année de production car la vigne est vraiment trop vieille et ne produit plus assez de raisins pour la garder d'un point de vue économique. Bien entendu, d'un point de vue purement financier, je peux comprendre. Mais quel crime d’arracher ces pieds de vignes centenaires qui produisent ces magnifiques raisins et si délicieux vins!

And then I learned that 2017 will be the last year of production because the vine is really too old and does not produce enough grapes to keep them,  from an economic point of view. Of course, from a purely financial point of view, I can understand. But what a crime to tear off these ancient vines which produce these magnificent grapes and such delicious wines!

J'ai proposé à Fabienne mon aide pour convaincre le propriétaire de cette parcelle de garder ces vieux pieds de vigne encore quelques années. Peut-être pourrait elle co-planter quelques jeunes pieds même si la l'entretien d'une jeune vigne sera très compliqué au milieu de ses illustres ainés...

I offered Fabienne my help in convincing the owner of this parcel to keep these old vines a few more years. Maybe she could co-plant some young vines even if the farming of a young vine will be very complicated in the middle of its illustrious elders ...

Les vignes, c'est comme les humains. Plus elles vieillissent, plus elles donnent le meilleur d'elles mêmes grâce à leur assise des racines profondément implantées dans le sol. Un peu comme les humains qui vont puiser dans toute leur expérience pour aller vers plus de sagesse que de la pure énergie produite par un jeune humain qui manque souvent de recul pour agir sagement.

Vines are like humans. The older they become, the more they give their best thanks to their roots rooted deep in the soil. A bit like the humans who will draw from all their experience to go towards more wisdom than the pure energy produced by a young human who often lacks perspective to act wisely.

Et, puis malheureusement vient un jour, le plus lointain possible, où les vignes et les humains doivent malheureusement passer à l'au delà...

And then, unfortunately, comes a day, the farthest possible, where the vines and the humans must unfortunately pass to the beyond ...

Sunset in south of france
Sunset along the south coast of France. Thanks, Jean-Marc, for writing about Fabienne and Lukas. All of us reading wish these two bonne continuation and hopefully we'll cross paths again in the future and share another update. 

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Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ 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