bonhomie

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"Neighbors" (Les Voisins)


Read about neighborliness, or les rapports de bon voisinage
, in today's story column, written by one of my favorite in-laws, Tante Marie-Françoise. Enjoy!

Eiffel's Tower Book recommendation: Eiffel's Tower: And the World's Fair Where Buffalo Bill Beguiled Paris, the Artists Quarreled, and Thomas Edison Became a Count

Note: if the book's delightful sub-title didn't win you over, then how about the enthusiastic response of both my mom and my daughter--both of whom tried to swipe my one and only copy! Jules almost ran off to Mexico with the book (having just read it!)  and, no sooner had I repossessed the book, than my daughter, Jackie, stole off with it to her room. Plucking up the book from the book thief's hands, I paused to listen to my daughter's feedback on the book's numerous photographs (including several of sharpshooter Annie Oakley):

"Ça doit être passionant!" Jackie said of the illustrated chapters, including "
Gustave Eiffel and "the Odious Column of Bolted Metal".
"Il paraît
," I replied.

Check it out here.

*     LA BONHOMIE     *

bonhomie (bon-oh-me) noun, feminine

    : friendliness, good-heartedness, geniality, a pleasant disposition

French definition by Linternaute:
Gentillesse associée à de la simplicité
.

Audio File & Example sentence
Sa bonhomie en faisait un compagnon agréable, malgré le fond de mélancolie neurasthénique que palliait la gaieté de son rire.
*
Download MP3 or  Download WAV

Please help translate this French sentence. Share your interpretation in the comments box.

* Paul Verlaine, le poète orageux
, By Jean Jacques Lévêque


Lettres de Ma Terrasse
by Marie-Françoise Vidal

"C'est Midi"

Ce souvenir remonte à l'époque où le quartier était alors une grande famille.  Pas besoin de clé sauf pour verrouiller la nuit (et encore il arrivait qu'on oublie) ou pour un départ de quelques jours.

A cette époque on pouvait, peu avant midi, assister au ballet des casseroles et des plats.

Quand Mariette préparait des aubergines à la sauce tomate, elle traversait la rue pour en apporter chez Lisette. Si Lucienne avait fait ses fameux beignets de fleurs de courgettes, il y en avait aussi pour les voisins. De toute façon les petites cuisines de l'époque donnaient sur la rue, sans hotte aspirante, et donc on pouvait difficilement cuisiner en secret -- on devinait le menu de chacun -- du coup la transparence voulait qu'on explique sa recette et les échanges allaient bon train:

"Tu mets l'ail d'abord?"
"Moi, ma grand-mère elle faisait..."

On manquait un peu de farine, Hop! On toquait à la porte d'à côté pour le dépannage minute. De même, si des invités surprise restaient pour le repas, on ne risquait pas d'être à court -- oh misère -- de pain craquant.

Certains possédaient hors du village, entre deux vignes, des petits jardins potagers et des arbres fruitiers. C'était l'occasion de joyeuses distributions. Les paniers de cerises régalaient tous les enfants; les récoltes de tomates, d'un seul coup dans l'abondance, se partageaient.

"Tiens, moi, je les ferai farcies ces grosses."
"Je te prends celles qui sont un peu moins mûres pour la salade."
"Cette année j'ai bien réussi mes haricots "super violet".

Après ces échanges chacun rentrait pour se mettre à table. La rue reprenait son calme et devenait même presque déserte tandis que le ballet des fourchettes commençait.

J'ai hérité de quelques recettes mais je n'ai plus les légumes du jardin qu'entretenait mon beau-père, mûris tranquillement au bas du village puis cueillis et consommées dans la même journée....

Personne n'aurait compris O.G.M., par contre, on disait, "Oh, J'aime!"

*   *   *

I hope you have enjoyed Tante Marie-Françoise's story... if so, please let her know, and don't miss the archives to her story column here.

Request for English translations: would any of you enjoy translating Tante Marie-Françoise's story and sharing the version anglais, here? Merci d'avance! I will update this page, and include a link to every translation.

Update: The first translation has arrived (thank you Doug!)
...and another... from Ryan Catherine

It is fun to see the differences in English (so far between English English and Canadian English. ), i.e.:

I say flowers... you say fritters...
I say bread... you say biscuts
Let's call the whole thing off!

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A quiet ruelle in the village of Visan, recently featured in Cinéma Vérité.

Three Random Words:

une piécette
(f) = small coin => piécette par piécette
le trictrac (m) = backgammon
le grisbi (m) = stash, loot

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


"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


la routine

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All photos © Kristin Espinasse

Come harvest time, this old wagon is an important part of la routine for a certain Cécilién* farmer. (*Cécilien, Cécilienne: resident of the village of Sainte Cécile-les-Vignes)

Jean-Marc's USA Wine Tour: If you are near Tampa on March 24th, you are very welcome to join Jean-Marc for one of his wine tastings. Have a look here for the list of cities where he will pour his wines, including his gold winner "Mistral".

Today's Word:
Because today's word (the title of our story...) is the same in English, we're going to turn the tables a bit, and look at the French definition this time. Following the definition, you'll be in for a treat: Tante Marie-Françoise is back with her second article in her series "Lettres de Ma Terrasse". Enjoy this edition and be sure to share it with a friend who loves France.

la routine
(lah roo-teen) noun, feminine
    : habitude prise de faire quelque chose toujours de la même manière
.

Grape Wagon Cinéma Vérité: For fans of French Word-A-Day, or for those of you who simply enjoy a regular visit to this word journal -- whether to learn a phrase, see a picture, or read the stories on French life -- you might just love the weekend photo edition of this blog: "Cinéma Vérité" is your gift when you help support this French word journal, now in its seventh year -- and still free! Find out how to contribute, here.



Lettres de ma Terrasse
"La Routine"

Toutes les maisons de la rue du quartier ont la même architecture : un escalier latéral de quatre ou cinq marches fait accéder à un petit perron devant la porte d'entrée. Les maisons sont donc légèrement surélevées parce qu'en sous-sol il y a une cave antique souvent creusée dans la roche. Autrefois c'est là que l'on faisait le vin, sous la salle à manger! On entre encore dans ce réduit par une minuscule porte au ras de la rue, gymnastique garantie!

Sur les petits perrons il y a une grille de protection et c'est une tradition de la garnir de quelques plantes fleuries. Ces plantations modestes, le plus souvent des géraniums, sont l'occasion de conversations anodines entre voisins... comme on va le voir!

C'est l'été, les personnes âgées, on le sait, se lèvent tôt... et encore plus tôt à la belle saison quand le soleil et les oiseaux sont eux aussi très matinaux.

Ma fille Audrey, alors 10 ans, est en vacances et n'a aucune raison de se lever aux aurores. Un matin, mon café tout juste avalé, je la vois descendre de l'étage des chambres la mine renfrognée. Je m'intrigue et la questionne sur la raison de ce réveil matinal.

"Mais, Maman, tu n'as pas entendu les voisines?"
"Si, je sais bien que tous les matins elles balayent leurs escaliers puis y jettent un seau d'eau."
"Mais tu vas voir qu'elles vont encore se raconter la même rengaine pour leurs fleurs."
"Ah bon, je n'ai pas remarqué..."

Nous faisons silence et, de fait, les deux mamies voisines engagent dans le parler local une conversation d'un trottoir à l'autre.

"Dites, Françoise, mes fleurs? ... je les ai arrosées hier... c'est pas la peine que je les arrose aujourd'hui quand même... parce que... bon... si je les avais pas arrosées hier... je les arroserais aujourd'hui... mais comme je les ai arrosées hier...."

"Eh oui, Lucienne, moi je les ai pas arrosées hier, c'est pour ça que je les arrose aujourd'hui... mais demain, ...moi... je les arroserai pas.

Tu as entendu! s'énerve Audrey, elles se posent la même question tous les matins et je suis sûre que demain c'est Françoise qui demandera à Lucienne s'il faut arroser ou non les fleurs!

Pour cacher mon fou-rire, je pars faire chauffer du lait; j'apporte le beurre et des tartines de pain tout juste grillé. Je lance:

"Dites, Audrey, vos tartines, je les ai beurrées hier... c'est pas la peine que je les beurre aujourd'hui quand même... parce que... bon...

Un grand sourire éclaire enfin le visage de ma chérie; elle m'embrasse puis s'installe devant le bol fumant.

"Quelquefois la routine a du bon ma chérie!"

*     *     *

Check back on Wednesday for the English translation of this story! Meantime, please leave a note for Marie-Françoise in the comments box -- letting her know how you enjoyed her story. I'll be sending her the link so that she can enjoy your words!

Enjoy "Planter le Décor", Marie-Françoise's last story, here.

Update! Mille mercis to Divya, Jacqui, Ally, and Leslie (and anyone I might have missed) for translating Marie-Françoise's story. You'll find their versions (in American and English) in the "routine" and "anodin" comments boxes!


Today's Photo & Question:

Jackie sainte cecile spectacle serignan goult 001
In the town of Orange: Red-n-Yellow: French façade & matching flowers

Question: Is your outfit matching or clashing today and do you even care?
Share your story in the comments box.

My answer: currently, I am matching (in non-color: beige, black, white...) though I was seriously clashing over the weekend when, at my son's basketball game in Tarascon, I noticed the other women's shoes: heels and poiny toes, black all around! Meantime, I wore gray tennis shoes* with pink stripes, and black patterned (!!!) socks. I know better, but I also now know that weekends are for relaxing, for breaking the rules, and for not taking yourself--and fashion--too seriously. There is a time and a place for everything and it was time to focus on my son and be an (ableit mismatched) cheerleader.

PS: those shoes were a 2003 Christmas gift from Jean-Marc. At the time, I thought they were the dorkiest shoes that I had ever seen. I put them in the back of the closet and forgot about them... until one day I needed shoes. Now I wear them almost daily. "Dork" to me now is someone with an attitude: ungrateful, self-important, or plain 'ol stubborn.

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


"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


en-tête

July2005 094
Today's story continues from Châteauneuf-du-Pape ("New Castle of the Pope"), the ruins are pictured here.
.

Bestselling books on/about France:
 1. The Ultimate French Verb Review and Practice
 2. Buying a Piece of Paris: A Memoir
 3. Exercises in French Phonics



en-tête (on-tet) noun, masculine
    1. heading
    2. headline

Audio File & Example sentence
Example, taken from the French version of today's story, listen here:
Download MP3 file
  or  Download Wav file


Cet en-tête évoque à coup sûr pour les connaisseurs les fameuses "Lettres de Mon Moulin" d'Alphonse DAUDET. (see the translation in paragraph 1, line 2, below).
.

Letters from my Terrace
by Marie-Françoise Vidal

"Setting the Stage"

Isn't it a bit presumptuous to choose this title for the little series of articles that I promised myself to write from my Provençal village? This column title definitely calls to mind, for those connoisseurs, the famous "Lettres de mon moulin" by Alphonse Daudet. He wrote the charming pages for his Parisian friends, after making himself at home in an authentic Provençal mill near Les Baux-de-Provence.

More modestly, of course, I would like to share what I observe from my little terrace. It is a balcony from a village home that is nothing like a classic terrace overlooking a garden. No! It's just a little observation post, nested in between houses terraced beneath the ruins of our (village's) medieval château. I go and sit there during the good season, from April to September and provided that the tempestuous Mistral isn't blowing.

My terrace is, at most, 10 square meters and opens onto a landscape that enchants me. In the foreground, the old, irregular rooftops of houses that we overlook, pile up one over the other. Then, the view overflows... rising up to the hills that are covered with vines. Finally, in the background, a long musical line designs itself, making up the asymmetric curbs of Mont Ventoux. These three visual strips each have their own graphism and color. That (strip) which designs the rooftops is like a rug of uneven clay tiles, clear, and accentuated by a few chimneys. That which designs the vines offers geometric lines of parallel vineyard rows, which follow the curves of the field. It is a faux checkerboard effect, now austere and scrubbed in winter, green in summer, then blazing red in autumn. The last relief strip, far away, always colors itself with a note of blue or mauve. The mineral scales, of the Dentelles de Montmirail, and the ever white summit of our "Giant of Provence" add light to the ensemble.

View the original French text for this story, here

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Facing this landscape, I am facing east; therefore, it is the occasion to take part in the sunrise and also the full moon. The show moves from left to right then in the other direction at every solstice, permitting me to witness the ballet of the seasons.

From my terrace, therefore, I hang over my neighborhood. It is an old (in our home a beam is engraved "1311") and modest quarter in our village. The residents are, for the most part, descended from old families owning small amounts of land, the newcomers are agricultural workers and, recently, young couples have moved in, fleeing the city.

The population of this neighborhood changes inexorably, therefore, with the departure of the "ancients". I hardly ever hear the patois that is the Provençale language, tinged with local character.

Village life follows the general evolution of the customs and habits of life: each his work, his hours, his car, his sports, his leisure... which changes the social interaction, leaving, of course, the good times of village community but nothing that can equal what I knew when I came to move here, as a young married woman, in 1968.

From my perch the stones talk to me, for they keep the memories. Thinking about my village, I see it again as it was with its slowness, its security; there's that feeling of oneness that I have with it, that feeling of being in a big family.

So there you are, the stage has now been set. I'll meet you here again, and we'll share these memories, little anecdotes or other little modern-day narratives.

*     *     *

DSC_0043 Tante Marie-Françoise works  as a speech therapist (orthophoniste) and enjoys helping children who have special needs.

Note: The original French version of this story is posted here. Enjoy it! Meantime, thanks for saying "bonjour" to Marie-Françoise in the comments box. I know she will enjoy "meeting" you! She'll be back in a week or so with a very funny story called ("La Routine").

PS: Re today's translation (by me...): beg to differ? Honey, you don't even have to beg (I believe you!). Just add your own translation to one or more of the beautifully poetic lines written by my French aunt. Thanks for using the comments box, so that all might enjoy the update. (...and thanks for your help!)

French Word-A-Day archives:

Care to read some more stories? Here's a bilingual column from my son, written 5 years ago...

End photo: "Birds of a French Feather". Read the message, below.

DSC_0002
Would you like Jules to paint this one? Let her know, in the comments box. P.S.: she'll be here soon. Please wish her bon voyage!

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


"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


rubrique

IMG_3483
photos © Kristin Espinasse. The view of Mont Ventoux ("le Mont Chauve")
as seen from the village of Sainte Cécile. "See it" from the village of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, in today's new story column!

Remerciements
Talk about flower power!
The combined strength of your sympathies--via lilies, rosemary, snow drops... pansies--has put a smile in our hearts as my family and I continue to read each and every one of your colorful condolences sent in to honor Grandma Audrey. Merci beaucoup!

Please accept the following gift in return: something my French aunt showed up with on Sunday (along with her chestnut cake--and I promise to post that recipe sometime!)...  Enjoy now a new rubrique* here at French Word-A-Day: a column titled "Lettres de Ma Terrasse" written by Tante Marie-Françoise. Enjoy this upclose and very personal look at Provence. Meantime, merci encore for your joyful words, virtual flowers, and so much more.

*today's word: la rubrique (f) = column

Lettres de ma Terrasse
"Planter le décor"

(Enjoy this taped introduction to the following story, in French. MP3 Wave )

N'est-ce pas bien présomptueux de choisir ce titre pour la petite série de chroniques que je me suis promis d'écrire de mon village provençal?

Cet en-tête évoque à coup sûr pour les connaisseurs les fameuses "Lettres de Mon Moulin" d'Alphonse DAUDET. Il avait écrit des pages délicieuses pour ses amis parisiens en s'installant dans un authentique moulin provençal près des Baux de Provence.

Plus modestement, bien sûr, je voudrais faire partager ce que j'observe depuis ma petite terrasse.

C'est une terrasse de maison de village qui n'a rien d'une terrasse classique donnant sur un jardin. Non! C'est juste un petit poste d'observation niché entre les maisons étagées sous la ruine de notre château médiéval. Je m'y installe à la bonne saison, d'avril à septembre et à condition que le mistral tempétueux ne souffle pas.

Ma terrasse d'à peine 10 mètres carrés s'ouvre sur un paysage qui m'enchante. Au premier plan se superposent les vieux toits inégaux des maisons que l'on domine. Puis la vue déborde sur ce mouvement montant des collines couvertes de parcelles de vignes. Enfin, en arrière plan, se dessine la longue ligne musicale des deux courbes asymétriques du Mont Ventoux. Ces trois bandes visuelles ont chacune leur propre graphisme et couleur. Celle des toitures est comme un tapis inégal de vieilles tuiles d'argile claire rehaussé de quelques cheminées. Celle des vignes offre les lignes géométriques des rangées parallèles du vignoble suivant les courbes du terrain. C'est un effet de faux damier tantôt austère et épuré l'hiver, tantôt vert l'été puis qui s'enflamme de rouge en automne. La dernière bande des reliefs lointains se colore toujours d'une note bleue ou mauve. Les écailles minérales des dentelles de Montmirail puis le sommet toujours blanc de notre "Géant de Provence" ajoutent une lumière à l'ensemble.

Face à ce paysage je suis face à l'Est; c'est donc l'occasion d'assister aux levers de soleil et aussi de pleine lune. Le spectacle se décale de gauche à droite puis dans l'autre sens à chaque solstice me permettant d'assister au ballet des saisons.

De ma terrasse, donc, je surplombe mon quartier. C'est une partie ancienne (dans notre maison une poutre est gravée 1311...) et modeste du village. Les habitants sont pour la plupart issus de vieilles familles de petits propriétaires; les nouveaux venus sont des travailleurs agricoles et depuis peu s'installent de jeunes couples fuyant la ville.

La population de ce quartier change donc inexorablement avec le départ des "anciens". Je n'entends presque plus le patois qui est la langue provençale teintée de particularisme local.

La vie du village suit l'évolution générale des mœurs et des habitudes de vie: chacun son travail, ses horaires, sa voiture, son sport, son loisir... ce qui change la convivialité -- Restent bien sûrs de bons moments de communauté villageoise mais rien qui puisse égaler ce que j'ai connu en 1968.

De mon perchoir les pierres me parlent car elles gardent les souvenirs. Contemplant mon village je le revois comme il était avec ses lenteurs, sa sécurité, le sentiment de faire corps avec lui et d'être dans une grande famille.

Voilà donc, le décor est planté. Je vous donne rendez-vous pour partager ces souvenirs, de petites anecdotes ou d'autres petits récits de la vie d'aujourd'hui.



Marie-francoise Tante Marie-Françoise (seen here making a traditional lavender wand)--when she is not harvesting her family's grapes--works  as a speech therapist (orthophoniste) and enjoys helping children who have special needs.

Note: The English version of this story will be posted on Friday! Meantime, thanks for leaving your comments for Marie-Françoise in the comments box. I know she will appreciate them!


 

DSC_0008
Find out where to buy our Domaine Rouge-Bleu wines, here.

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"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


faner

Broom or
The ancient walls of Gigondas (Vaucluse) where genêt gilds the countryside.

faner (fa-nay) verb
    : to wither

La gloire soudaine se fane très vite.
Sudden glory quickly withers.
--Proverb

Hear the French word "faner" and today's quote, read by my son, Max: Download faner.mp3 .Download faner.wav

*     *     *

Is it too late to talk about sweet-scented French broom? "Le genêt," as it is called in France, is now withering across the French countryside, but nostalgia for the shrub never fades.

Also: "une fane" is a dead leaf... and... the verb "faner" finds itself before "fanfare" in the dictionary (while one conjugates to "withered," the other boasts a "showy outward appearance").



A_day_in_a_french_life
With French maracas playing in the background (those cicadas do give off such a rhumba-shaking sound), I sit at my desk beside an open window and study "The Perfume of Broom". It is a tender short story written by my francophone aunt. The sweet-scented scenes sweep me back to Marseilles... to the chalky heights that tower over a deep blue sea; in between the two, a delicate yellow flower softens more that the rugged landscape...
.

"The Perfume of Broom" by Marie-Françoise Vidal
(read this story in French... click here)


Among all of the goodies that nature offers us in spring, a certain magical blooming has a particular importance to me, and each May brings me back to my adolescence...

Back then I was a student in Marseilles. I studied in an exceptional school, exceptional as much for the education as for the magnificent environment. The buildings spread out over the hills which scaled the limestone high massif that dominates the city.

At that time the Bac* took place over a two year period, sanctioned by two successive exams in the month of June. As soon as May approached, the vegetation surrounding our classes woke up, and the sea, close by, attracted the less studious. But the most conscientious among us knew that the dates for the dreaded exams approached... and so we threw ourselves into the non-stop revisions, even during recreation and in between classes.

In little groups, we looked for the pénombre* to continue working.... Seated at the foot of the towering broom that had just covered itself with golden flowers, we formed little industrious conclaves.

Perched over our books and our cahiers,* we were intoxicated by the honey-like perfume that the flowers emitted; it made us forget the stress and transformed us into little worker bees.

I received my Bac, and my life unfolded... but each year I am rejuvenated by the arrival of these flowers. I love the genêt* that, here, splashes the thickets, gushing up between somber berries and forming great joyous families along the chemins* that surround the vineyard parcels. I gather great brassées* which I bring back to the house in order to enjoy their sunny "fireworks" and especially for the perfume of my youth. And I wish "bonne chance"* to the young people who, in turn, prepare their own exams.

*     *     *


If you enjoyed Marie-Françoise's story, why not let her know? Thanks for leaving her a message in the comments box at the very end of this post. You might tell Marie-Françoise a bit about yourself as well :-) P.S.: If any of the messages look odd, that may be due to website spam, which I'll clear out of the box as soon as I discover it...


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~References~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
le bac
(baccalauréat) (m) = a French diploma https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baccalaureat ; la pénombre (f) = half-light, dusk; le cahier (m) = notebook; le genêt (m) = broom; le chemin (m) = (country) road; une brassée (f) = armful; la bonne chance (f) = good luck


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Excellent French/English dictionary
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In Music: pre-order Carla Bruni's "Comme Si de Rien N'était"

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


"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


guetter

Guetter (c) Kristin Espinasse
In Gigondas: watching for intruders... or maybe a new pal or two to play with. Read about another dog in today's story column.


Smart French : learn French from real French people:


guetter (geh-tay) verb
  to watch, to guard
  to watch for, to lie in wait for, to be on the lookout for
  to threaten; to ambush

Listen to today's word, "guetter": Download guetter.mp3 . Download guetter.wav


Add a little French to your own blog, website, desktop, or online network (Facebook, MySpace...) https://www.widgetbox.com/widget/french-word-a-day
.

A_day_in_a_french_life
As promised, here is the rough-n-tumble translation of "Ma Vie de Chien." The tribute was written by Marie-Françoise Vidal (a.k.a. "Aunt Marie-Françoise"), after her dog, Jaby, made it over "Le Pont de l'Arc-en-ciel".*

                                My Life as a Dog

I domesticated my animal nature : instincts, needs, rhythms, and vital joy -- in order to live in your house.

I listened and learned, ears perked, to your orders and to your intonations. I understood your codes.

I knew how to constrain myself to go gently, so as not to knock over the child, the grandmother and the "petit animal à moustaches."*

From each one of you, I knew how to take or to ask for flattery and play. I loved your company, whether playful or calm.

I was proud of my duty to guard the gate, the front step, and the household, watching for intruders.

And I still had my own secret kingdom out in the garden, or while out on a walk, where I could unleash in nature the original power of my senses.

I entered into this bond with you without fear of submission -- for we gave one another respect.

When next I had to die, it was without knowing sickness or decline. I left dignified and without complaint, all the while understanding your tears.

In our exchanges, I taught you different and specific emotions : that of animalité* : those instinctual codes that you had lost. I offered you another relationship with nature.

For all of this, I am proud, and I know that you will have other dogs so as to continue this partage.*

                                  *     *     *
If you would like to leave a message for Marie-Françoise, in response to her story, you can do so in the comments box below. She would be delighted to hear from you! Also: Read or listen to this story in French (halfway down story column in this post.)


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~References~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Le Pont de l'Arc-en-ciel = The Rainbow Bridge (fictional place over which animals go after death); le petit animal à moustaches = the little whiskered animal (the cat); l'animalité (f) = animality; le partage (m) = sharing.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Gift Ideas~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A French Alphabet Book of 1814. This charming primer on the alphabet captures the essence of everyday life among the French aristocracy in 1814 in a uniquely detailed series of watercolor drawings made as an alphabet book for a young French aristocrat by his uncle.

12 French Alsace & Guignol Costumed Lollipops

Rick Steves Convertible Carry-On: Easily converts from a smart-looking suitcase to a handy backpack

Listen to French... (In music) Tour de Charme by Patricia Kaas

Durance olive oil hand cream

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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    ♥ Send 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


seuil

Lavandin
Love the ones you're with. "Braise-The-Dog, pensive." I tried to capture Coco-The-Cat, too, but he flew out of Braise's lap so fast you'd think I was set to feed him a spoonful of cod liver oil. On second thought, what was he thinking? Certainly not "COD!"


Learn the language with Painless French: includes grammar, pronunciation, idioms, idiocies (culture) and more!


seuil (suhy) noun, masculine
  : threshold; doorstep; brink (of death)

franchir le seuil = to cross the threshold
le seuil de rentabilité = break-even point

 :: Audio File ::
(sound file follows... see story column below.)


A_day_in_a_french_life
One of the many gifts that Lily* left me was a lifetime membership to the cat and canine community. Now on "the other side" of the furry wall, a whole new world has opened up to me: a monde* filled with humanity, animalité*, and a slew of new vocabulary (words like "feral,"* expressions like "over the Rainbow Bridge"*).

Wearing my new membership badge, which hangs a little off-center, I feel something like a "straight-D" student who has been invited to a Mensa meet-up: I still don't understand how I got here or how I passed the test. And, to think: two years ago I was refusing for the quarante-troisième fois* (in twelve years of marriage) to adopt a dog or a cat into our home. The kids, Jean-Marc, and my breaks-for-abandoned-balls-of-fluff-or-feathers mom, had all but given up on me and my humanity. And now, I can't stop haunting the vacant fields and buildings that surround us, in search of homelessness.

In between time I read email, enjoying the photos and poems, and "listen" to both senior and newbie members of the Creatures Great and Small Community. I want to thank you for your empathy and for your straight-A altruism. Talk about brilliance.

The following is a moving éloge* that I received from Aunt Marie-Françoise. It concerns her beloved dog, Jaby, who made it over that Rainbow Bridge a few years ago, in time to welcome our Lily. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I have. I will post the English translation ("My Life as a Dog") on Monday.

Ma Vie de Chien
by Marie-Françoise Vidal

J'ai domestiqué ma nature animale : instincts, besoins, rythmes et joie vitale pour vivre dans votre maison.

J'ai écouté et appris, oreilles levées, vos ordres, vos intonations, j'ai compris vos codes.

J'ai su me contraindre à faire doucement pour ne pas bousculer l'enfant, la grand-mère et le petit animal à moustaches.

J'ai su prendre ou réclamer de chacun de vous les flatteries et les jeux. J'ai aimé votre compagnie joyeuse ou calme.

J'étais fière de mon obligation à surveiller le portail, le seuil, toute la maisonnée en guettant les importuns.

J'ai quand même eu mon royaume secret au jardin ou en promenade pour faire vivre dans la nature la puissance originelle de mes sens.

Je suis entrée dans ce lien avec vous sans craindre la soumission puisque nous avons échangé du respect.

J'ai du ensuite mourir sans comprendre la maladie et la déchéance. Je suis partie digne et sans plaintes mais en comprenant vos larmes.

Dans nos échanges, je vous ai appris des émotions différentes et spécifiques : celles de l'animalité ; les codes de l'instinct que vous avez perdu. Je vous ai offert un autre rapport à la nature.

De tout cela, je suis fière et je sais que vous aurez d'autres chiens pour continuer ce partage.


                                      *     *     *
Listen to this story & mille mercis to my brother-in-law Jacques, for reading it aloud!


~~~~~~~~~~~References~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Lily = a feral kitten now "over the rainbow bridge"; le monde (m) = world; l'animalité (f) = an animal's characteristics; feral = sauvage (in French); "over the rainbow bridge" = where animals go when they die ; quarante-troisième fois = forty-third time; éloge (m) = eulogy



~~~~~~~~~~~In Film, Music, & More~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
(Film) For earthbound humans, Winged Migration is as close as any of us will get to sharing the sky with our fine feathered friends. It's as if French director Jacques Perrin and his international crew of dedicated filmmakers had been given a full-access pass by Mother Nature herself, with the complete "cooperation" of countless species of migrating birds, all answering to eons of migratory instinct. -Jeff Shannon

Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France

Songs in French for Children: includes "Mon Père Avait 500 Moutons", "Prom'nons Nous Dans Les Bois", "Dansons la Capucine", "Picotin Musicien"...

More, in music: Faure / Durufle Requiem

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


"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