Pictures from Grignan + an emergency visit to the vet--and the French word "epillet"

Jackie (c) Kristin Espinasse

 Sweet 16! Today, September 18th, is Jackie's birthday and we've had chocolate cake for breakfast and look forward to Chinese food for dinner. (Meantime she's begun another day at fashion school. But after our dog's recent drama, and Jackie's hands-on response, I think she'd make a great veterinarian! Read on, in today's French infused story column....

un épillet (ay-pee-leh)

    : foxtail or grass seed

Ever found an épillet on your dog? Comment here

 Bescherelle conjugation guide.   Capture plein écran 16052011 092531"This is without a doubt the definitive guide to conjugation of French verbs... an indispensible reference and not overwhelming for beginning students." Order it here.--M. Savoir (Amazon reviewer)

 

Foxtail (c) Curtis Clark
Audio File and Example Sentence: Listen to Jean-Marc Download MP3 or wav file

Lorsqu'un chien se met brusquement à se secouer les oreilles au printemps ou en été, penche la tête, refuse qu'on le touche… il y a probablement un épillet là-dessous !

In spring or summer, when a dogs begins abruptly to shake its ears, lower its head, and refuse to be touched... there is probably a foxtail there beneath!

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

On Monday I picked up Jackie from the bus stop and enjoyed a lively conversation with our soon-to-be 16-year-old. Driving home, we talked about motivation, about keeping on top of things, and how all this helps in pursuing one's dreams. It was refreshing to see how receptive Jackie was, vs. our sometimes draining dialogues which make me feel like such a nag, and leave my testy daughter feeling guilty, too.

Despite the renewed mother-daughter complicity, our life is good outlook was challenged sooner than expected. Arriving home, Jackie agreed to feed the dogs and help bring in the laundry on the line and fold it. Instead of grumbling, she approached her daily 15 minute chore (part of a new routine this school year!) willingly. 

"That's my girl!" I cheered, "and thanks--I really appreciate it!" Even Braise, our golder retriever, was in a good mood, and we laughed as she jumped and danced while waiting for her croquette dinner to be served.

Then suddenly Braise fell to the ground and began yelping in pain. We watched as she mowed her head across the gravel, her cries growing more insistent. When we got her to stand up, she couldn't walk a straight line, but advanced crookedly across the yard--all the while lowering her left ear. And when she suddenly began shaking her head, as dogs do their bodies, after a bath--we realized something was amiss.  

Foxtail2
Hordeum murinum, or foxtail (c) Curtis Clark
My heart sank with the realization that this could be it--the dreaded "death torpedo" pet owners fear: those nasty grass seeds, or foxtails, that catch in a dog's coat and travel up and into the ear or eye or nose. I heard all kinds of horror stories--that once inside, they travel to the brain or the lungs, killing the animal! 

Jackie was posed and calm as she held Braise close and instructed me to have a look inside our dog's ear.

"OK, OK! Here we go....." the least I could do was to mirror my daughter's composure; just as important, we didn't want to be a ball of nerves in front of our suffering dog.

Indeed, animals are so sensitive--and intelligent. In contrast to the wild cries and head shaking pain, Braise remained as still as a monument, modeling a quiet bravery that hinted at the delicateness of the situation.

"It must be excruciating, the pain!" Jackie remarked, as I peered into Braise's ear, pulling and prodding to get a closer look. But all I saw was dirt--the kind I should have been regularly cleaning out. Now guilty feelings intermingled with all the worry.

As the moments passed, without another complaint from our dog, we nurtured a growing hope that maybe whatever had "gotten" her had somehow disappeared.

"Maybe it was only the beginning of an ear infection?" I said to Jackie.

"Peut-être," Jackie hoped, and we held our breaths as we slowly released Braise from our grip.

Our brave patient took a few uncertain steps, as though she herself were nursing the same espoir. Only she didn't make it far before she fell over, beside the withering lavender bush.

Seeing Braise disoriented like that, we were sick to our stomachs with worry. We watched helplessly as Braise plowed her head across the gravel, her muffled cries rising in her dusty wake.

Something was horribly wrong.

"Jean-Marc!" I shouted up to the second floor, where Jean-Marc was working in his office. A moment later four of us were careening down the road, to the veterinarians. Jean-Marc had asked Jackie to stay behind, but our daughter insisted Braise needed her comfort and assurance.

Quelle chance! The vet was still working at 7pm, and she welcomed us into her office.

Jackie and I tried to heave Braise onto the steel examination table, when Jean-Marc waved us aside and picked up our clinic-phobic dog. "Allez, hop, up you go!" I could see Braise's hair falling in a sheer layer across the steel surface beneath her--so terrified is she of doctor's offices.

When the vet warned that our dog must remain completely still, Jean-Marc steadied her in a head lock and I hugged her body tight. Jackie murmured assurances: Bravo! C'est bien, Braise! T'inquiète pas, mon chien! C'est bientôt fini! 

We all watched as the vet directed the special tweezers into Braise's oreille. She too was impressed by Braise's bravery. "Most dogs would go crazy about now." 

"She wants us to help her," I said, remembering back to the scene at home. Braise would have let me stick forceps in her ears, so desperate was she; her quiet obedience was such a contrast to her throbbing pain, making her message loud and clear: do what you need to do to fix this! Her composure was remarkable. It was as though she had gone to another place in her brain--doggy nirvana--where she was waiting out the traumatic moment. 

"Voilà!" The vet pulled out the so-called torpedo of death, and cleared up one or two idées fausses, or rumorsin the process. "It is rare that this would kill a dog, she said, offering the bit of broken foxtail for our viewing. "But they can be dangerous. It's not just the ears they menace, they are often found in between the fingers and toes... " (This helpful tip was followed by a demonstration, in which the vet collected a dozen more broken foxtails from between Braise's paws!)

"The danger here," she said, is when they pierce the skin and travel through the body... sometimes puncturing the lungs!"

The vet encouraged us to cut back the grasses on our property and to check our dogs every day. It would be extra work, given we have two large and furry golden retrievers, but I could just add that to the kids chore list. And of course, I would do my part, too. Living here in the countryside, it would take a family effort to keep back those lurking torpedos... but the good news was, we now had a wonderful new veterinarian, just around the corner.

 ***
To comment on today's post, and share your own experiences and insights into today's word or story, click here. Thanks for sharing today's post with an animal lover.

 "Torpedoes of death" -- it's a chilling term, but I learned so much from Carla Jackson's article on Hordeum murinum or "Hare Barley" and how it menaces man's best friend. 

 

Rollerskating in Fréjus (c) Kristin Espinasse, french-word-a-day.com
Rollerskating with Braise in Fréjus, in 2007. (Jackie was 10-years-old)

 

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More Photos from France

If you can't make it to France just now... we've got you covered: enjoy these virtual tours of some of my favorite villages in Provence and beyond. 

Grignan, France (Drome) (c) Kristin Espinasse, French-word-a-day.com
Matchy matchy. A blue door coordinates with a whimsical bag...

Grignan, France (Drome) (c) Kristin Espinasse, French-word-a-day.com
Roses and "grignandises" -- or sweets and temptations from Grignan.

Grignan, France (Drome) (c) Kristin Espinasse, French-word-a-day.com
Always room for another pot of flowers...

Grignan, France (c) Kristin Espinasse, French-Word-a-Day.com
Time to put Grignan on your bucket list.

Grignan, France (c) Kristin Espinasse, French-Word-a-Day.com
Roof tops, or toits, and a blue horizon.

Grignan, France (c) Kristin Espinasse, visit French-word-a-day.com
Don't steal the café sugar. You never know who's a tattletale. Story here.

Grignan, France (c) Kristin Espinasse, visit French-word-a-day.com
The village of Grignan is known for its famous resident (Madame de Sevigny) and for its roses--but don't tell that to the valerian flowers, which shout their presence from the very rooftops.
Window and stork in Grignan, France (c) Kristin Espinasse, visit french-word-a-day.com
 Another Grignan resident.

Grignan, France (Drome) (c) Kristin Espinasse, French-word-a-day.com
I will add more photos to this collection. Please click here and see when the next postcards from Grignan are posted. 

To comment on this edition, click here.

Exercises in French PhonicsExercises in French Phonics is... 
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Thank you for the time you've spent reading this post. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving this journal. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
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"Sent with love and gratitude for all of your wonderful, insightful and creative stories and photographs. My life is enhanced reading your books and blogs beyond measure! May you continue to be blessed doing what you love and feel the gratitude of your devoted readers. Appreciation, hugs and love to you and your beautiful family!"
--Lisa


charming way to say "eye-candy" in French

 

Clothing shopfront paris hats chapeau promos sales vuitton marc jacobs hermes
Hats outside a shopfront in Paris, to go along with today's quote


bonheur pour les yeux

    : eye-candy

Audio File: (check back later for Jean-Marc's recording. Meantime, help! I need your assistance translating today's example sentence. Click here to leave your translation.)

Le bonheur des yeux lui ferait-il raccrocher son cœur comme le chapeau du porte-manteau ? (Philippe Rousseau, L'Or des ecrins)

Recent Interviews:
  • Listen to Jeff Steiner's podcast and learn about how my self-published books were picked up by Simon and Schuster. Also, learn tips on moving to France. Click here.
  • New York Times writer Ann Mah invited me to contribute to her Tuesday Night Dinner. Check out what we cooked up, here.
 
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A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

In today's post, a few more photos from the cruise. Enjoy... and see you tomorrow with a special post, in French, from Jean-Marc.

DSC_0465
Entering the town of Grignan, an ancient lavoir is all dressed up in columns
DSC_0468
The clock tower shows the time, the leaves, the season.
DSC_0471
In front of the antiques dealer's.

DSC_0472
The bistro (where my aunt and I stole the sugar... and got caught! Click here to read the story and to learn another term "en flagrant délit".) 
Queue de Chat (c) Kristin Espinasse
Do you see the cat?
Grignan Castle (c) Kristin Espinasse
Fellow cruisers on our AMA Waterways river voyage. Remember to keep my friend Susan in mind, if you need help with travel arrangements: Susan@CriticsChoiceVacations.com 
Grignan Old Village (c) Kristin Espinasse
Terrace with a view...

Grignan Gift Shop (c) Kristin EspinasseGuarding the goods: one of the many shop dogs you'll see in these quaint French villages. All of today's photos, above, were taken in the town of Grignan, where Madame de Sevigny wrote heartfelt letters to her daughter.

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


"Sent with love and gratitude for all of your wonderful, insightful and creative stories and photographs. My life is enhanced reading your books and blogs beyond measure! May you continue to be blessed doing what you love and feel the gratitude of your devoted readers. Appreciation, hugs and love to you and your beautiful family!"
--Lisa


sang-froid

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The Christmas decorations are still up in the town of Grignan. Have you taken down your holiday decor? Click here to comment

le sang-froid

    : calm, equanimity, imperturbability

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc (I am told my husband has a beautiful voice! Don't miss it): Download MP3 or Wav file

Lors de situations conflictuelles, çela aide pas mal de garder son sang-froid!
During situations which involve conflict, it helps quite a bit to keep calm!


A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

When Jean-Marc was inspired to clear out the cellier—on Christmas Eve—I did my best to contain my annoyance. Not to be unthankful, but couldn't he have chosen any other day of the year? A day, say, when our extended family wasn't about to arrive for Le Repas de Noël? After all, there were any other number of last-minute things to do besides emptying out the mudroom!

Ten years ago I would have manifested the strong opposition that I currently felt regarding my husband's absurd sense of timing. As manifestations go, it would have been a subtle one (I might have sulked), yet packed with menace (continue doing your own thing... and I'll fly back to America. You'll see!).

But such manifestations were for naught (my then boyfriend put a stop to the nonsense by buying me a one-way ticket home!)

We've come a long way, Chief Grape and I, though the first years of intercultural marriage were as shaky as the pile of junk that now lined the outside of our mudroom, nearly blocking the entrance where our guests were due to arrive in the next hour or so! To my amazement, the entryway was now cluttered with everything from a broken globe to a lonely lava lamp. 

I stood staring at the chaos. Instead of order and polish we now had dust and "demolish"...or so it looked from my blurry perspective. No matter how far I think I've advanced along the path of sagesse, I'm always astonished at how quickly I can lose my footing when I lose sight of the horizon in time to notice a weed along the way.

No use staring at the lava lamp and its dusty company. Remembering to "look up!" I experienced a radical change of perspective. What had appeared to be disorder... was beginning to look like order! I looked beyond the piles, past my husband, and into the cellar.... The shelves looked neat and tidy—and you could actually see the floor!

Motioning toward the stacks, Jean-Marc explained, "Jacques is going to help carry these things to the car". 

Bien sûr! My husband's timing was not so absurd after all. He had simply waited until his brother's visit (tonight, for Christmas Eve dinner), to haul off the junk. 

Once again I am reminded that what might not make sense to me, may very well be clear in the grand scheme of things. 

 

Le Coin Commentaires
To leave a comment, please click here

Read about that one-way ticket home in the introduction to Words in a French Life


French Vocabulary

le cellier = storeroom

le repas de Noël = Christmas dinner

la sagesse = wisdom
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DSC_0053
Both photos in today's edition were taken in the town of Grignan, where we had a lovely stroll and a bite to eat, on Friday, with friends Toni and Gary. (We ate at Le Poème de Grignan. It was delicious!) Can you recommend a restaurant in Provence? Click here to share it with us!

Capture plein écran 21122011 083440
The photo, left, was also taken in Grignan, during another sweet stroll with my aunt and uncle. The picture was snapped so quickly -- almost as an afterthought. Had I known it would be used for the book's cover, I might have swiped the neighbor's pot of geraniums, and placed it near the door! Just as it is (without anything "blossoming") we'll chalk it up, this flowerless "Blossoming" cover, to one more quirk of French life.

Meantime, I would like to take a moment to send out an enthusiastic appeal to anyone who has not yet purchased a copy of my book: 

Please support a self-published author--each time you do, you make the world a more creative place! 

Click here to buy a copy of my book. Merci beaucoup!

 

***

Further Reading:
Check our Larry Krakauer's blog, in which he writes about his visit to our vineyard. Click here. You'll even see a photo of my brother-in-law, Jacques, whom you read about in today's story.

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


"Sent with love and gratitude for all of your wonderful, insightful and creative stories and photographs. My life is enhanced reading your books and blogs beyond measure! May you continue to be blessed doing what you love and feel the gratitude of your devoted readers. Appreciation, hugs and love to you and your beautiful family!"
--Lisa


choper

Grignan Roses (c) Kristin Espinasse
A rose lover's Shangri-la: the village of Grignan. (Just don't steal the flowers... or the sweetness.... read on in today's story column.).

choper (sho-pay) verb

    : to steal, to pinch, to nab; to catch

Audio File: listen to Jean-Marc pronounce these French words (Download MP3 or Wav file)

Il a chopé un rhume / He caught a cold.
Elles ont chopé le sucre du bistro. / They nabbed the sugar. 


Synonyms: dérober = to purloin chiper = to swipe, filch piquer = to pinch, to nick


A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

(Note: the following story is a re-post. It was written one year ago...)

"The Sugar Snatchers"

When your aunt and your uncle are in town for under a week... you've got to be picky and choosy about just which postcard-pretty places you'll take them to see.

Grignan was a must! Its chateau, overlooking the vine-flanked valley, and its perched, rose-petaled village, were once the residence and the stomping grounds of Madame de Sévigné, who wrote prolifically to her fille. Picture so many words showering down from the chateau, falling like tears of joy, watering all those heirloom roses, from "Autumn Sunset" to "Gipsy Boy".

The flowers steal one's attention making it is easy to be attracted to this rose-rampant "rise" in the French sky. Their colorful petals pull your eyes up the narrow paths, or calades, past the boutiques and the art galleries until you are overlooking the patchwork paysage of Provence. After your eyes expand over the valley, they are drawn back in to the skirt of the citadel, which bustles with café life.

There, at the Brasserie Le Sévigné my aunt, my uncle, and I sipped caffeine from colorful tasses à café. Feeling that after-lunch slump, we were content to let our ears do the walking and we listened as they bent here and there capturing the various conversations, most in French, though some were accented in English "city" or "country." I wondered whether the two ladies at the next table were from London? Then again, what do I know about the topography of talk or "accentry"?

Finishing our café crèmes, we stood up to leave.  I called over to my aunt, motioning to the sugar (we were each served two packets with our cup). Having only used one-half of a sugar envelope, I was slipping the leftovers into my purse. I had seen my aunt do the same at the previous café.... "Waste not, want not," she had explained, offering another of her affectionate winks. I figured I could give my aunt the extra sachets de sucre for her train trip to Paris the next day... It is always good to have a little blood-sugar-boosting sucrose on hand when traveling.).

"And take that one too!" I encouraged, pointing to the unused sugar packet in front of her.  
Just then, I caught sight of the Englishwomen at the next table. They were watching wide-eyed.

Caught red-handed, en flagrant délit, I had no choice but to finish shoving the second packet into my purse and I cringed when I realized the sugar envelope was open and showering down granulated sweetness, mixing with the contents of my purse.

My dear aunt, her back to the would-be whistle-blowers, was unaware of our unseemly circumstance. "Here," she said, handing me her unused packet of sugar. Meantime my uncle voiced our actions, as my uncle is wont to do: "Oh, what's that? You are taking some sugar? I see."

The problem was others, too, were seeing! And, what with my uncle's commentary, we thieves were a terribly conspicuous crew.

"Put. It. In. Your. Pocket!" I snapped at my fellow sugar-snatcher. But my aunt stood there, her arm extended like a red flag, sugar packet waving like the drapeau of death. It seemed to take hours for that sugar packet to reroute itself into my aunt's pocket and I stood startled-eyed until the evidence disappeared into la poche.

As we turned our backs on the café, my aunt overheard the condemning comment at the next table as one woman spoke in a disapproving tone, pointing out our petty theft to her table-mate. "They've taken the sugar!" she reported. 

Half-way to the getaway car and my aunt and I were giggling, "They've taken the sugar!" we laughed, lacing our voices with disapproving English accents. My uncle got into the back of the car, scratching his head in confusion, having missed the episode completely. Meantime, I started the engine and my aunt hopped into the passenger's seat and when we did she winked at me: 

"I've got the sugar," she confirmed. "Hit it!"

With that, we peeled out of the postcard-pretty town, bidding goodbye to a proper Madame de Sévigné and leaving, in the sugar dust, the would-be whistle-blowers with their cups of unsweetened tea.

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:: Le Coin Commentaires ::

To leave a comment or a correction, thank you for clicking here.

Do you have a minute to read a short story about my uncle? And about keeping up appearances? Click here.

French Vocabulary

une fille = girl, daughter

une calade = a sloping, paved pathway

le paysage = landscape, scene

la tasse à cafe = coffee cup

le café crème (synonym for le café au lait) = coffee with cream

le sachet de sucre = sugar packet

pris en flagrant délit = caught red-handed

le drapeau = flag

la poche = pocket

Reverse Dictionary

waste not want not = (not a word-for-word equivalent, but here are two equivalent French proverbs: les petits ruisseaux font les grandes rivieres ("little streams make big rivers") and plusieurs peu font beaucoup (a lot of littles make much)

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  DSC_0042

 "The Missing Photo". Mama Braise says: "But where is my picture, missing from the bottom of the rack?" Smokey (off in the distance, chewing on something) responds: "...munch, munch, munch...." Braise: "Smokey, is that you I hear?"....

   French shopping bag I Heart Paris Shopper: made of recycled material. 1-Percent of the sale of this bag will support the conservation work of the nature conservancy. Order the I Heart Paris bag here.

Easy French Reader: A fun and easy new way to quickly acquire or enhance basic reading skills

In film:  Paris Je T'aime Paris I love You.

Refreshing mosterizing mist: vine therapy by Caudalie

DSC_0398
"The Joy They Bring". Smokey, as a young whippersnapper, and Chief Grape. 

Meet Chief Grape in Belgium  :

- In Liège at "Vive le Vin", May 26th from 6 PM
- In Brussels at "La Maison des Vins", May 28th

Capture plein écran 16052011 092531

The classic Bescherelle, the complete guide to French verb conjugation. Read the five-star reviews, and order, here.

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


"Sent with love and gratitude for all of your wonderful, insightful and creative stories and photographs. My life is enhanced reading your books and blogs beyond measure! May you continue to be blessed doing what you love and feel the gratitude of your devoted readers. Appreciation, hugs and love to you and your beautiful family!"
--Lisa