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September 2018

Entries from October 2018

Sans plomb, essence, caoutchouc, and a gas station story on French nonchalance

Sansplomb
The sign on the back of the old truck says "(ride) in complete security...with Michelin tires". And in today's column, an oldie but goody from the archives--beefed up with extra vocabulary. Please share this post with someone who would like to learn French.

 
Today's word: "caoutchouc"


    : rubber
 

Audio File: Listen to french word for rubber, via the following sentence

L’essence sans plomb 98 est plus détergente que l’essence sans plomb 95 et se révèle plus corrosive, en particulier pour les pièces en élastomères (caoutchoucs). Ces deux carburants contiennent de fortes quantités de composants aromatiques qui sont très toxiques. Il faut donc éviter d’en respirer les vapeurs et ne pas s’en servir comme agent de nettoyage ou de dégraissage. (from Wikipedia)

Unleaded gasoline 98 is more detergent than unleaded gasoline 95 and is more corrosive, especially for elastomeric parts (rubber). Both of these fuels contain high amounts of aromatic components that are very toxic. Therefore, avoid breathing vapors and do not use as a cleaning agent or degreaser.


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE...back in 2007

"La Station d'Essence" by Kristi Espinasse

At the gas station in Camaret-sur-Aigues I study the menu. I wonder whether to "fill 'er up" (faire le plein) with Sans Plomb 98 (better for the engine?) or Sans Plomb 95 (a few centimes less and just as suitable for my bagnole).

Opening the little door that leads to the réservoir à essence, I pause to re-read the sticker notice which cautions me to use fuel sans plomb. I have yet to make the mistake of filling the tank with another type of essence (having learned from my husband's mistake); perhaps all my neurotic double-checking has served its purpose?

I look up to verify which pump I am at: "No 2," the sign says. Right, number two. I will remember "pump number two" in time to answer the clerk at the pay booth. (And I will remember, this time, to check that the price matches the total on the screen. OK. Check, check.)

I pull out the nozzle only to return it to its carriage as I always do. "78 euros" are registered on the pump's screen. I am concerned that if I begin pumping, the truck ahead of me will have a surprise tab at the pay booth. I wait until the camion rolls past the booth before I pull out the gun once again, heaving a sigh of relief when the screen registers zero.

Next I try, as always, to set the nozzle to automatic. I want to pump as the pros do. I think it has something to do with hitching the nozzle's lever to some mysterious hook inside the handle. As always, the lever snaps back and I quickly give up. I'll never learn the trick, never mind that the other blond (at pump number three) seems to know it. Well, GOOD FOR HER.

When the lever snaps again, this time signaling a full tank, I resist the temptation to force in a few more liters. Don't take chances. Remember from experience that it's not worth the mess. I put the cap on the tank, turn the key and shut the little door. The screen reads 56 euros. (80 percent of that represents tax, as those who think about tax are wont to say. I should think more about tax.)

Pulling up to the pay booth I notice the attendant on the other side of the window. She doesn't strike me as someone who checks manufacturer's notices for fuel requirements or recalls the risks of tank overflow--though she does have on a tank top and you might say it overflows. And she doesn't seem to take her job too seriously. (Presently, she's filing her toenails.)

I marvel at her "filing-toe-nails-in-public" attitude which matches her unorthodox approach at manning the gas station pay booth. In the time that she makes me wait (she's finishing her pinkie toe), I think about how I could learn a thing or two from her: she with the hang-loose curls on her head and liberated legs (she's wearing cut-offs). The closest she has ever come to neurotic, I imagine, is in showing up for work every day.

FRENCH VOCABULARY
la station d'essence = gas station
faire le plein =
to fill up (gas)
sans plomb
(m) = unleaded
un centime = cent, penny
la bagnole = (slang) car
réservoir à essence = gas tank
le camion = truck
l'essence (f) = petrol, gasoline

Embryolisse
A French must: Embryolisse cream. I am down to the last drop (or squeeze) of this handy cream! My daughter and I both use Embryolisse (my twisted tube, left, hers, right) and it was extra utile for our recent trip--as one tube serves many purposes: makeup remover, face lotion (hydrating lotion seems misleading as it will not put moisture in your skin, but will help keep it there), and primer. Men, it makes a good aftershave! Order a tube here.

Also, I found this little wonder gadget "tube wringer" to help squeeze the last bits of cream (or toothpaste or you-name-it) from your favorite product. Check it out, or buy it here--it may well be the perfect gift for that hard-to-buy-for one on your list! 

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Snapshot from Vaison la Romaine 

This next picture (Jean-Marc, his elbow broken, surveys the land where he would plant his grapes) was taken a year before we decided to sell our 2nd vineyard near Bandol...

Jean-marc broken elbow

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have enjoyed more than a little vocabulary here today and are looking forward to the next post, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
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"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline


Tout rikiki, fastoche, and the unexpected French word for "good luck" + my would-be 15 seconds of fame

Jean-Marc and Kristi Espinasse
There was just one eensy-weensy--tout rikiki--detail that would prevent a documentary film crew from interviewing an American about her French vineyard life: we no longer live on a vineyard. This logistical pépin was quickly patched up (filming will take place elsewhere...) only for another oops-a-daisy to arise: "Parlons-en," the journalist began, "de vin."

Normally, at this point, I would've thrust my trusty side-kick, Chief Grape, in front of me, but the story, part of a bigger compilation to air on France's Canal+, is from an American's vie-en-rosé perspective....

Just when it seemed this interview had bitten the dust (I admitted to the production team that months before my husband began shopping around for a vineyard, I quit drinking...)--so just when I was waiting on a "thanks but no thanks" email response from the interviewer, she came back with"ça ira!"

So now here I sit, at my kitchen table, practicing being filmed working at my ordinateur while blogging (that part, so feared when the interviewer suggested it, will be fastoche compared to talking about wine, comme si de rien n'était! As if there weren't a giant white elephant in the room, slurping on a mug of rosé)....

Wish me Merde! (That's "good luck" in French.) I'm going to need it. That or a giant mug of rosé. Oh gosh no. That's the last thing I need!


FRENCH VOCABULARY

tout rikiki = eensy weensy
un pépin = snag
parlons-en = talk about
le vin = wine
vie en rosé (a play on vie en rose) = life in rosé, life's view from behind rose-colored glasses
ça ira = that'll work
un ordinateur = computer
fastoche = easy peasy
comme si de rien n'était = as if nothing were amiss
merde! = good luck!

Our former vineyard and sunflowers

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have enjoyed more than a little vocabulary here today and are looking forward to the next post, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
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"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline


Dazed in Reims: A boxing incident lands Max in ER

Received_263670764287816The following sentence is from the French translation, just below. "Knockout (KO) is the term, in combat sports, for the action of putting out a fighter as a result of a blow carried by his adversary and making him temporarily lose his abilities (the person is called "stunned")."(photo, by Max, of his boxing ring in Reims) 

Today's word : sonné(e) 

  : stunned, dazed

Example Sentence by Wikipedia:

Le knockout (KO, de l'anglais to knock out, « faire sortir en frappant ») est le terme signifiant, dans les sports de combat, la mise hors de combat d'un combattant à la suite d'un coup porté par son adversaire et lui faisant perdre temporairement ses capacités (la personne est dite « sonnée »).

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE 

  by Kristi Espinasse 

When I was still in Denver, last week, and scrolling through Instagram, I noticed photo of my 23-year-old son. It was a picture of Max, from the knee down, on a hospital gurney. 

My first thought was, remain calm. If he's taken the photo himself then he's just fine! My second thought was, "just fine" can be a temporary state! 

Studying the social media photo I noticed an Instagram stamp identifying the name of the hospital in Reims, the town in which Max is completing an internship for Lanson. (Had he had another accident on the way to work? Jumping a guardrail, that first month, landed him at the ER for stitches.). A Google search, this time, put me one push-of-the-button closer to my son, as I hit the direct-connect number on the screen of my telephone.

It was the middle of the night in the Champagne region of France when the switchboard operator answered. "Je vais vous connecter avec les urgences," she said casually. 

Les urgences ?! My daughter, Jackie, who was with me in Denver, hurried over to the phone just as I was connected with the ER nurse, whose French was surreal to me... 

She was saying something about a box. What did a box have to do with my son being unable to talk to me on the phone? 

"Attendez," I said, you can talk to my daughter.. elle parle mieux le français."

A moment later, Jackie hung up the phone in time to assure me that Max was OK, that they were just going to keep an eye on him overnight, as well as do a brain scan.... 

By the time Jackie hung up the phone, I realized I'd missed my chance to talk to my firstborn. The nurse had said her patient was a little confused, and so had not offered me the possibility to communicate with him. Still, Max could have listened to my voice--which would have been a source of comfort and reassurance. It might have even snapped him out of this stupor! 

How good it felt to hear his voice, the next day, when newly discharged from ER he was able to tell us exactly what happened. I leave you now with Max's account, in French and in English, following a newspaper clipping about Max's great-grandfather AL Young, lightweight boxer and champion from Ogden, Utah... and hero to his French great-grandson, arrière-petit-fils, who he would never have the joy to meet. 

Screenshot_20181015-103734

Max writes:

À la fin de mon entraînement de boxe, nous finissions la scéance avec un combat “light”. À la fin du round, Billal (19 ans) et moi, avons décidés de continuer à boxer au lieu de nous reposer, nous étions donc le centre d’attention des autres boxeurs.

À ce moment là, j’ai baissé ma garde et il en a profité pour me mettre un high kick jambe avant sur la mâchoire.

Je tombe par terre et mes potes me relèvent immédiatement.

À partir de ce moment là je n’ai fait que répéter les mêmes choses. “Qui m’a mis K.O?”, “où est-ce que j’habite”...

Et là, ils se sont rendu compte que quelque chose n’allais pas.

Dans la foulée, ils ont décidés de m’emmener aux urgences de Reims où j’ai été pris en charge immédiatement.

Durant ce prochain mois, je ne vais pas faire de confrontations afin de ne pas prendre de coups à la tête, je me concentrerais uniquement sur mon cardio en faisant de la course à pied et en travaillant mes techniques sur un sac de frappe.

Et quant au scanner, tout vas bien ! 

PS: je ne me souviens pas de ces événements, c’est mon coach qui me les a racontés.

ENGLISH TRANSLATION 

At the end of boxing practice, we ended the session with a "light" fight. At the end of the round, Billal (19) and I decided to continue boxing instead of resting, therefore we were the center of attention of the other boxers.

At that moment, I lowered my guard and he took the opportunity to put a high leg kick on my front jaw.

I fell to the ground and my buddies got me back up immediately.

From that moment on, I kept repeating the same things: "Who knocked me out?", "Where do I live?" ...

And there, they realized that something was wrong.

In the confusion, they decided to take me to the emergency room in Reims where I was taken care of immediately.

This next month, I will not do any contact sports in order not to get hit in the head. I will focus only on cardio training by running and practicing my technique on a punch bag.

And as for the scanner, everything is fine!

PS: I do not remember these events, it was my coach who told them to me.

(picture  below, taken 7 years ago, when Max was starting out boxing.)

DSC_0304For those of you who have expressed an interest in supporting this French word journal via a monthly donation, here is your reminder to use one of the link below. Many thanks in advance!

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have enjoyed more than a little vocabulary here today and are looking forward to the next post, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
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"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline


Fillette: A look back in time

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We return home to France in two days. Here is a vocabulary-packed story from 2014. Bye for now...and wish us bon voyage!

une fillette (fee-ette)

    : a little girl

Audio File: listen to the French word fillette (file by Wikipedia):

Improve your French pronunciation with  Exercises in French Phonetics


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristin Espinasse


Waiting at the bus stop in Bandol, warm inside our car, Jackie reviewed her textile lesson while I spied some of the technical vocabulary on her study sheet....

"Ourlet. Ha! I know that word. It's on the tip of my tongue... Oh yes, "hem"! Now to pronounce it: ohr.... ohr... ohr-lay!"

"Mom!" Jackie sighed.

"Oh, sorry!"

I left my daughter to study, turning my attention to the holiday lights that circled high up into the municipal arbres. The tree garland reminded me of Arizona, where our paloverdes and even our cactuses are illuminated this time of year. And just like back home in Phoenix, there were palm trees here, their trunks circled high with holiday lights!

As I admired the twinkling trees, a shiny spot tickled the corner of my eye. I looked over to discover the glittery backpack of a little girl who had just gotten out of her father's car.

I watched as the father adjusted le sac à dos. The little girl helped by lifting her lopsided ponytails out of the way. Next, the fair-haired darling spun around, lifted her face and her smile was met by a tender kiss as her father reached down and bid her bonne journée.

"Look at that sweet little girl!" I said to Jackie. But as soon as I spoke my eyes filled with tears.

Those little sagging socks at her ankles, that crooked part separating her pigtails, those pink and purple pom-poms that dangled from her backpack. How it all brought me back.

"You are all grown up now!" I looked over at Jackie, whose tie-dyed hair fell over her study sheet. Well into her teens--and with the groovy locks to prove it--she would soon trade fad for formality. Lately, she spoke of wanting a more soigné or sleek look. I could just see her cutting off her blond locks in favor of a glossy, dark carré, or blunt cut. The day was coming.

I ran my hand across my 16-year-old's soft head as we watched the little girl turn toward the bus. 

"Elle est mignon!" Jackie agreed.

The more I watched the little girl, the more I saw childhood slipping away as it now stepped, with its sagging pink socks, onto the bus....

"Look at my eyes. I'm crying!"

"Maman..." Jackie reached over and kissed my cheek.

I didn't mean to be over-dramatic by pointing out the tears. But I had learned, not too long ago, to let 'em see you cry!--a stretch after years of never letting 'em see you sweat! 

As my daughter lay her head on my shoulder, I told her a family history:

When your dad and I split, twenty or so years ago,  I went to gather my thoughts at a nearby cafe. But those thoughts were suddenly blasted as I glanced over at a nearby table. The woman sitting there laughed with joy as she held a newborn baby in her arms. When my eyes hooked on that infant, a deep pulling began to rake through my body, collecting tears as it advanced. I quickly paid for my coffee and rushed off as tears poured out. I had never before felt that maternal instinct. And now it was too late. The father of my unconceived child had said it was over between us.

My throat grew tight as I told my daughter the story of her near non-existence. 

"But I came back! And I had you!" I said, giggling. It was time to lighten up the conversation!

"No, you had Max..." Jackie pointed out, in typical sibling rivalry.

"Yes, but then I had YOU. And what would life be like without my little girl?" I turned and looked out the window once more, in wonderment. 

The man beside the car in front of us watched his little girl climb the stairs of the bus. When her glitter and pom-pom backpack disappeared into the bus, he turned to me and smiled. Then he got into his car and drove off... as mysterious, as forgiving, and as promising as Father Time.

 
FRENCH VOCABULARY
une fillette = little girl
un ourlet = hem
l'arbre = tree
le sac à dos = backpack, rucksack
une bonne journée = a good day
le carré = blunt cut, bob
elle est mignon = she is cute

Your book purchases help to keep this word journal going out! Click on the cover, below, to purchase a copy of my book. Mille mercis.
 
First french essais
IMG_20180405_135034
Have a rental property in France? (Or anywhere else?) Why not list it on Booking and increase your property's potential? Click here

 

Yellow flowers
In today's post I mention a time in the future when my daughter will have a dark carré, or blunt cut.  Click here to see a picture taken 4 years after the story was written.

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have enjoyed more than a little vocabulary here today and are looking forward to the next post, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
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"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline


Esprit + Explaining your religion in France.....a tricky undertaking

IMG_20180925_111233_807
Hoping to see some of you at tomorrow's Alliance Française (Denver) meetup! It's from 5-7 pm. 

esprit (es-pree) noun, masculine

  : mind;  wit; spirit

Audio File
Listen to my son, Max (12 years old at the time), pronounce today's word & quote:Download esprit.mp3

Il y a une  dimension spirituelle dans chaque relation. Lorsque deux personnes se réunissent, c'est que l'esprit le veut ainsi. There is a spiritual dimension in every relationship. When two people come together, it is because the spirit wanted it that way. --African proverb

Improve your French pronunciation with Exercises in French Phonics.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristi Espinasse

(story written in 2007)

I arrived to pick up my daughter at summer day camp where the director greeted me with a cheery "Hello!" After her warm English greeting and a bit of shoot-the-breeze papotage, she pointed to my daughter's necklace with its cross pendant.

"Are you Protestant?" she inquired.

Here we went again with The Religious Affiliation Question. I'd gone over this before with the Catholic priest during premarital counseling.* If it was difficult to describe my spiritual orientation then, I must confess that, thirteen years later, I still haven't quite pinned it down.

"No, I'm not Protestant," I began.
"Catholic?" the director guessed.
"No, not really," I answered, regretfully, for if I were Catholic I would have "l'embarras du choix" or quite a selection of churches to go to given the number of églises catholiques in France.
"But your children were baptized?"
Oh, dear! This is where things get complicated...
"Er, yes... in the Catholic church."
The director looked as confused as I felt.

"I'm not Methodist," I continued, by deduction. Perhaps Baptist? Was I Baptist after all? "Baptiste" is a popular French prénom that signifies "plonger dans l'eau." I myself was immersed in water, there in a desert church (on Central Avenue, to be exact) and not far from Katz Delicatessen where I would, years later, nurse a bowl of matzo ball soup and wonder about how to convert to Judaism. My boyfriend back then, Howard, had explained to me that, should we marry and have children, our family would observe certain rituals. Words like "bar mitzvah" were as foreign to me as the French language which, unbeknownst to me, was just around destiny's corner....

"I am Muslim," The director offered encouragingly. Catapulted back to the present moment, I looked over at my daughter's cross and realized how different life has turned out. No more visits to Katz's deli. I had lost my best friend when my relationship with Howard ended. But, just as it wasn't religion that separated us, I sensed that the same was true for the Muslim director and me.

I know little about the Muslim religion and when I admitted as much, the director's warm response included an invitation to a un congrès where villagers of all faiths come together in the spirit of breaking down barriers.

As I contemplate my religion, the vision of white robes swaying, hands clapping, and feet dancing takes me away... to Dorothy Love Coates & the Original Gospel Harmonettes...and to The Soul Stirrers and their thumb snapping tune "Jesus Hits Like The Atom Bomb." Tunes like "Oh Happy Day!" and Jimmy Cliff's "Many Rivers to Cross" speak to me like no denomination can. "Amazing Grace," whether sung by Judy Collins or Ani Difranco, moves me like ministry.

I still hadn't answered the director's question. The time had come. I looked into her searching eyes with my own and, for the first time, understood the uncommon denomination that best described my faith: not Methodist or Mormon, not Born Again or Buddhist, not Catholic or Confucian.

"Do you know music?" I asked. "You know, 'le gospel..."
"Oui!" the director said in anticipation.

I cleared my throat and my conscience at once when the following words tumbled out:

"I'm Gospel."

                                    *    *   *

The director looked at me, her eyes bright with compassion. We were no longer American, French, or North African, no longer Muslim or Christian. We were soul sisters.

*  *  *


FRENCH VOCABULARY 

le papotage (m) = small talk; premarital counseling: don't miss the chapter "attendre" and learn about my wedding day and more, click here; une église (f) catholique = Catholic church; le prénom (m) = first name; plonger dans l'eau = to plunge into the water; un congrès (m) = conference: goh-spell = (French pronunciation for "gospel" music)

Keep up your French...and help support this free web journal when you purchase a copy of my book. Click here to order. Merci beaucoup!

Words-in-a-french-life

Caper bush on Corsica with capers and flowers
I leave you with a beautiful caper blossom, thriving from the Mediterranean sea breeze. 

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have enjoyed more than a little vocabulary here today and are looking forward to the next post, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Donate $5    
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♥♥ Donate the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline