jojo

Municiple flowers, blue shutters, Valréas, Vaucluse, hanging flower pot, France (c) Kristin Espinasse www.french-word-a-day.com
Municipal flower pot in Valréas.

jojo (zho zho) adjective

    : short for "joli(e)", pretty
. 

 Audio file (not available today... désolée!)

 

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

I followed Madame's directions and ended up at the medieval church, looking up at those "magnifiques fronts", the faces of which were almost as long as my own. Staring up at the church's eaves, where sculpted eyes stared back at me, I searched for God knows what: familiarity? unity?

My eyes scoured the stone faces but, try as I might, I could not "connect" or feel the warmth that had left me back at the little placette, where I had said mes au revoirs. Madame with the soft white curls and sentimental scarf  had surely returned to the room behind the window of white hearts. Why had she sent me here? Why were these sour faces so sweet to her?

I hurried back to the farmers' market to pick up a few bricoles before leaving the town of Valréas. Walking along I was awed by the municipal flower pots which lined the polished streets, punctuating every corner. The bright red blooms tumbled over, flowing almost to the cobbled ground. A little girl, no more that three, tousled her mother's hair as the latter knelt down to tie the toddler's shoes. The girl's fingers were light as feathers, little birds in her mother's silky hair. "Ça suffit, chérie," the mother said, standing up in time to fix her disheveled locks. I smiled at mère et fille as the two turned down the street, the sound of church bells behind them. It was eleven a.m.

"Quel joli sourire!" exclaimed the butcher, as I strode past his stand. I stopped, feeling both embarrassed and obliged... I wondered whether we needed some bacon, after all? I took my place in line.

"Yes! A very pretty smile!" repeated the butcher. There was no way I would leave now, and so I stood, awkwardly so. Relief came when the butcher turned his attention to the frail lady in the front of me. "And you, too! What a lovely smile you have!"

"Oh, no. I do not have good teeth," the woman said, apologetically. "Non, je ne suis plus jojo!" She turned, focusing her pale blue eyes on me. "But it is good to smile! Life is hard enough..." she said, gently. With that, everybody in line nodded and clucked their tongues in commiseration. I wondered about the various hardships beneath all those clucking tongues. Was it lost love? Bad health? A job loss?

Next, a man in a wheelchair arrived and took his place in line behind me. Collective hardships were forgotten as tongues abruptly quit clucking. All eyes focused on the butcher, who broke the silence.

"Debout!" "Stand up!" he roared, pointing his knife at the man in the chaise roulante.  

For one surreal moment I stood frozen. If I'd had a pair of earmuffs I would have thrown them over the man's oreilles, sparing him the butcher's words, which seemed to amount to one big and very bad joke.

I turned to greet the man in the wheelchair. His face was handsome or, to borrow a new word I'd just learned from Madame, "jojo". Yes, he was a joli homme or, rather, un bel homme with caramel brown hair and eyes the color of marrons

"Je vous dis, DEBOUT!" the butcher thundered, becoming even more animated.

The moments that followed were awkward, made almost unbearable by the bel homme's silence. Suddenly, his face lit up. "Cher ami," he said to his friend, "I haven't walked in 25 years... and it isn't your half-witted hollering that's going to make a difference now!"

The two men exchanged friendly bonjours and soon it was back to business. "What can I get you today, mon grand?" he said to his friend in the wheelchair. With that, the butcher winked at me as I stood marveling at the locals and their camaraderie.


Le Coin Commentaires

Corrections and feedback welcome! Click here to leave a message.

 

 

French Vocabulary

magnifique = magnificent

le front = face (of statue, building)

la placette = small "place" or (village) square 

mes au revoirs = my goodbyes

une bricole = a thing

ça suffit, chérie = that's enough, dear one

mère et fille = mother and daughter

quel joli sourire = what a pretty smile

non, je ne suis plus jojo = no, I am no longer pretty

debout! = stand up!

une chaise roulante = wheelchair

une oreille = ear

le marron = chestnut

je vous dis debout! = I tell you, stand!

cher ami = dear friend

mon grand = big boy, dear

golden retrievers, girl, chrysanthemum, bamboo, roseaux, canne de provence (c) Kristin Espinasse www.french-word-a-day.com

Our Jackie, with Braise (left) and Braise's son Smokey

pumpkin, climbing vine, Virginia Creeper, vigne vièrge, chrysanthemum, golden retriever, dog, wooden chair, deck (c) Kristin Espinasse www.french-word-a-day.com
Smokey "R" Dokey

pumpkin, chrysanthemum, golden retriever, dog, old grape vine, deck, France, Vaucluse, vineyard (c) Kristin Espinasse www.french-word-a-day.com
                           Thank you, Kathy and Ron, for the mum and for the pumpkin!

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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 
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exquis

Maison rose, bike, fleur de lis, mailbox, stone façade, Valréas, Vaucluse, France, village, no. 5, porch light (c) Kristin Espinasse www.french-word-a-day.com
Just a very fun word to say today: exquis (ex kee): it also describes the endearing woman in today's story....

 exquis (ex kee) adjective

    : exquisite

synonyms: avenant (pleasant), doux (sweet), fin (delicate)
 
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. 

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

It must be getting close to lunchtime. My head is light and my fingers are numb from the cold. I have been taking photos for hours now, weaving in and out of the village of Valréas on market day.

The greasy aroma of rotisserie chicken is pulling me by the nose, back to the rond-point, where I have parked my car opposite the old imprimerie, which is now a fitness studio. Exercise is something I am getting so little of lately. I hope my two-hour leisure walk counts for something (20-minutes on the treadmill?).

Though tempted to see what's cooking at the farmer's market, I am held into place by an invisible tie, mesmerized by this pretty placette before me, where a tall treille of vines makes for a charming front-step awning, or marquise. I am studying the canopy of grapes when a white-haired woman stops beside me and follows my regard to the top of the leafy lattice. She nods her head, which is crowned by soft, shoulder-length curls.

"Il y a de belles photos à avoir par là," she hints, turning her gaze to the passage just below, à gauche.

"Ah bon?" I turn to greet my informant with a bonjour followed by a merci for stopping like that, just to help me, the stranger in jeans and a jean jacket, or modern-day camouflage.

"Attendez une minute," the woman suggests, walking a few more feet to the next doorsill, where she sets down her market panier which is brimming with chrisanthemums. I notice the large antique key that she uses to open the 18th century porte.

I am waiting beside a window with white hearts sprayed onto the glass and realize this must be her kitchen fenêtre.
"J'aime bien ces coeurs," I offer to the silence in between us. 

The woman sets her panier on the other side of the door-well, shuts and locks the door before joining me beneath the treille with grapes that now dangle above our heads like fancy ornaments. She pulls her coat close and I notice the homemade scarf made of loose strings. I have one similar to it, somewhere... I wonder if hers was a gift, too?

The white-haired woman with the homemade scarf points to the end of the impasse on which she lives. Next, she looks down past her feet....
"Below these cobblestones... ça communique...." she confides. I understand that she is referring to an underground passageway. I remember all of the memorial signs I had stopped to read, about all the martyrs that were fusillé by firing squads during the second world war. I imagine a basement cellar inside her village home, with a one-time access to the network of underground alleyways. I wonder if Madame was here during the war? 

Another woman, trailing a cart-on-wheels, walks slowly past the other end of the portico, beneath which we had passed minutes before. "Salut Marie-Jo!" Madame calls out.

"Now there's a relic!" Madame confides, loud enough for her friend to hear.

"What's that?" Mary-Jo replies.

Madame turns to me, answering her friend, indirectly. "This is a visitor who finds our village beautiful!"

Mary-Jo nods, looking a scad confused.

"A relic that one!" Madame giggles.

"Comment?" the relic wants to know. 

"I said 'cover up', Mary Jo. It's cold out!" Having dismissed her friend, Madame returns her full attention to me. "Now, for some good photos, you just follow this path...." and with that Madame offers instructions on where to find a series of magnificient "fronts", or "faces" that were fashioned into a wall. "You must see them! Magnifique!" 

But I am not sold on the idea, and feel reluctant to leave. I don't want pictures of the sculpted faces. I want her face!

"But can't I take your picture?" I ask.

Madame's hand flies up like a bird and lands in her white hair. "It's a nest! A veritable nest!" she declaires, adding, apologetically, that a photo will not be possible.

I do not know what to say next. After all, she is not the disheveled one that she makes herself out to be. No! She is endearing, exquise! Her hair, is winter white and bouclé, and her face is a tableau of soft impressions. I am certainly impressionnée.

Hesitant, I follow her instructions and walk on, regretfully. I could have argued with her. I might have pointed out that that is no bird's nest on her pretty head: the soft, pearly curls, they are her crowning glory.

Le Coin Commentaires: Corrections and feedback welcome here.

 

French Vocabulary

le rond-point = roundabout

une imprimerie = printing shop

la placette = little (village) square, place

la treille = climbing vine, trellis

une marquise = canopy of shelter, awning 

Il y a de belles photos à avoir par là = there are pretty photos to be had this way

à gauche = to the left

ah, bon? = oh, really?

bonjour = hello

merci = thank you

attendez une minute = wait a minute

le panier = basket used to carry "les denrées" (f) or foodstuffs

la porte = door

la fenêtre = window

J'aime bien ces coeurs = I like these hearts

ça communique = this communicates, or joins

fusillé = shot down by a firing squad

salut = hi

comment = what did you say?

magnifique = magnificent

exquise = exquisite

bouclé(e) = curly

 

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wooden signpost, France, chateau de simiane, blue, paint, hotel de ville, Valréa, Vaucluse, France (c) Kristin Espinasse www.french-word-a-day.Com

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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 
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troisième age

Nyons (c) Kristin Espinasse
Stair-painting in Provence = creativity in the Midi. Share some arm-chair travel with a friend or a family member: send someone a free subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here

troisième age (twa zee em ahze)

: senior citizen

 

Sound File:
(a little behind the scenes clip today in which I demonstrate to Jean-Marc how I want him to pronounce today's phrase. Can you hear him tell me "(why not) do it yourself, then" (fait le toi-même): Listen Download Wav file or  Download MP3

A quel âge commence le troisième âge?
Senior citizen. At what age does one become a senior citizen?
.

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

"Elvis in ancient France"

Ah, if only you could have seen me dance! My mother-in-law sighs as we walk arm in arm in the land of olives: Nyons, France.

J'étais fine comme un haricot! You can't imagine it. Je dansais! Mais JE DANSAIS! My belle-mère insists.

"Careful! Hold on! Use the arm rail!," I order my belle-mère, who responds with one of the many moxie mouthing offs that she carries up her stubborn sleeve, even in sleeveless summertime:

"Ne me fais pas crier Manon dans toutes les langues!" she barks, soliciting stares from passersby. What they don't know is that the loose-lipped woman hanging onto my arm is only teasing me. Do not fire up my temper! she is saying, in so many colorful French words. But her technicolor temper doesn't scare me.

The truth is, she is happy for the fussing over by her American accompagnatrice. As I guide her up the ramp and down the smooth and sloping-with-centuries stairs, my belle-mère feigns indignation, though it is hard to hide that frustration of dependency and need--especially for one who used to dance the twist at high speed.  And don't get her started on The King of Rock:

"J'ai adoré El-veece! How do you pronounce his name?" She wants to know, her thoughts dancing with nostalgie.
"El vuss," I answer, steering my belle-mère over to the hand rail with a strong suggestion that she uses it. We are climbing the village stairs for a view of the red-tiled rooftops.

"You probably are too young to remember him," she sighs, admiring the hilly housetops below with their range of red tiles, some missing, some cracked, some covered with mold.

I racked my brain for memories. Elvis was alive in the 70s of my American childhood, but I was too busy listening to David Bowie....

Ground Control... presently that is our goal as we navigate the uneven floor of France. Tripping over so much as one cobblestone might put my complice in the hospital. Surely Elvis would sympathize were he watching the two women advancing with caution. If I listened closely I could hear an angel's voice: the King himself singing tenderly to us:

When I'm growing old and feeble
stand by me...

I cradle my belle-mère's forearm and listen as she spills her heart. Fear, she explains, has consumed her in this, her troisième age. She tells me about the recent freak accidents of her women friends "of a certain age": Catherine was pouring detergent into the washing machine when she lost her balance, fell, and shattered her knee. And Sabine was strolling through some foreign town when, slip.... what followed for both women were months and months of rehabilitation.

I thought about my own mom whose life took a turn after she slipped. One moment she was mopping the floors with her balai espagnol... and the next she was lying helpless on the cold wet tiles. She had broken her hip. She came to France to heal only to learn she had breast cancer. A double mastectomy followed.

My belle-mère falls back and I just catch her elbow in time for a discreet "save". By the way we rock and nearly roll over the ancient cobblestones, you might think we were dancing. DANCING! And what with Elvis's paroles piping in on the loudspeakers of our minds, That's All Right Mama, I like to think we were. We can turn our frailties in to footloose and fancy free, if only in our make believe. 

Ma Belle-Mère
That's my belle-mère, on the right.

Le Coin Commentaires
Questions, corrections, and stories of your own are welcome here in the comments box. Click here to leave a message. Merci d'avance!



French Vocabulary (any help with the vocab section is much appreciated. Do you know the definition to one of the French words in today's story? Thank you for sharing it here, in the comments box!

 

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A Day in a Dog's Life... by Smokey "R" Dokey

Smokey says: "I'm no line cutter... but try telling that to the Pinscher, the Rottweiler, and the Samoyed,    all of whom watched, beady-eyed, this morning as the veterinarian whisked me away from the salle d'attente into the lurky murky non beef jerky room beyond....

DSC_0122

What the impatient patients didn't know was that I was going straight into surgery... while they were waiting for vaccinations. (I'd rather be getting vaccinated!)

DSC_0125
But today is the day to re-stitch things. My wound never closed and when a bone began to stick through the opening, alarm bells rang!

DSC_0132
Wish me luck! (That's Kristin explaining to me a little about today's procedure and how all will work out.... Do I look as though I am believing her? I hope I am!) Comments welcome here.

Read the story about Smokey's attack and see a photo of him at nine weeks old, stapled back together.

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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--Candy T., California


empreinte

DSC_0273
In the village of Sarrians: a slice of scenic life. Don't miss out on the whole pie at Cinéma Vérité.


empreinte (ahm-prehnt) noun, feminine

    : print, trace, mark

empreinte génétique = genetic imprint
empreintes digitales = fingerprint
empreinte de rouge à lèvres = lipstick mark

Audio File: Listen to my daughter, Jackie, pronounce the day's word, terms, and example sentence: Download MP3 or Download Wav

Elle a laissé une empreinte sur ma joue. She left her mark on my cheek.


....................................................................

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

Standing before the tall iron gates to the Gare D'Avignon train station, my aunt kissed me firmly, once on each joue. When she pulled back, I noticed her eyes begin to water and I looked away, focusing instead on her "Apple Polish" lipstick. It is her signature rouge à lèvres and she, the affectionate embrasseuse, often leaves a trace of it on those she loves.

On the way home from the gare, I decided to positiver: to not focus on my aunt and uncle's absence, rather to turn the lonely ride into a Sunday drive (opting for the scenic and free route nationale instead of the autoroute).

Twenty minutes into the trip and the signs for Courthézon went missing.... In their place were signs to Monteux. That's odd, I thought, until it dawned on me that I had taken a wrong turn.

I decided to not try to track back and, instead, let serendipity be the guide. Might as well enjoy the unplanned spree and so much floral scenery! I rolled down my window, inhaling the sweet scent of Scottish broom.
  Scottish Broom (c) Kristin Espinasse

The yellow-budded bushes are scattered everywhere this time of year. In contrast with the yellow buissons, ripe red coquelicots flanked the country roads and cherry trees bowed loaded down with their bright red bounty. Adding to the color fest were the frilly dresses and clacking heels which offered an oh-so-french summertime appeal.

Coasting into a suburban district, I soon recognized the village of Sarrians and pulled off the road along the tree-lined boulevard Albin Durand. Recognizing a favorite French façade, I snapped a few photos before setting out on a petit périple through the village.

I remembered a large cour where Mom and I had admired a pretty patch of belle de nuit. Now, two years later, I have the same flowers growing in my own garden. Lost in nostalgic souvenirs I ambled past les belles, snapping a few more photos along the way.

When next I came out of my photo stupor, I noticed a woman smiling at me. I could just make out her face beyond the glare of a windshield. Beside the car there was a bucket of sudsy water. I approached the friendly car washer and greeted her:

"It is all so beautiful," I explained, pushing my camera aside. The woman looked to be in her mid fifties. Her short blond hair was thick and wavy. In the place of maquillage she wore a healthy, natural glow.

The car washer smiled and I noticed how her sourire was unusually sympathetic. It reminded me of the other villagers I had just encountered: strangely, they were all smiling back at me in that same endearing, empathetic way. How comforting this was after leaving my family back at the train station.

I saw the bottle of window cleaner in the car washer's hand.
"Je vends ma voiture," she explained. I stood back and offered an appreciative glance (but, between you and me, the car was real rattletrap. I hoped my new friend was trading up...).

"Je vois. And what will you be driving next?"

"A Renault!" she answered, citing a newer model. This was good news indeed!

We chatted like that for a moment and I couldn't help wonder about her ever affectionate stare and that sympathetic smile which mirrored the locals that I had saluted earlier.

"Well, I should be moving on," I announced.

The car washer nodded, and her sympathetic stare went on to meet the sides of my face.

"Au fait," she said, pointing to my joues, "You have lipstick prints."

Lipstick prints!

My hands flew up to my cheeks and I remembered those friendly French faces which now flashed before me:

the old man on the bike whose smile seemed over-polite
the little girl grinning sweetly, ever indiscreetly
the young man who said salut (hoot hoot!)

How sympathetic they had been to the lip-smacking situation, never stopping to point it out, and, in so doing, keeping their own dignified clout.

Meantime my Aunt was halfway to Paris, hopefully giggling like gangbusters (or, at the very least, like sugar snatchers).

 :: Le Coin Commentaires ::
 

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***


la gare = train station
la gare d'Avignon
= Avignon train station
une joue
= jowl, cheek
le rouge à lèvres = lipstick
une embrasseuse (un embrasseur) = a kisser, one who kisses
positiver = to look on the bright side
la route nationale = highway
l'autoroute (f) = motorway, freeway
le buisson = bush
le coquelicot (syn. le pavot) = poppy
petit = little
le périple = journey
la cour = courtyard
la belle de nuit ("lady of the night") = botanical name "marvel of Peru" flower (Mirabilis jalapa "The four o'clock flower")
le maquillage = make-up
le sourire = smile
je vends ma voiture = I'm selling my car
je vois = I see
au fait... = by the way...

***

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Tune Up Your French: Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Spoken French

  DSC_0010
Sunshiney Orange Slice & Shadows.

Mr. Smoke says: Mama Braise does not like oranges -- tant mieux pour moi!

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


mansuetude

 Caromb
Caromb, next-door neighbor to the beloved towns of Bédoin and Crillon-le-Brave. 

mansuétude (man-sooay-tood) noun, feminine

    : tameness, gentleness, "mercifulness"; leniency


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"useful and practical"
"high quality material, good value for your money" --from Amazon customer reviews. Order your copy here.





A Day in a French Life...

by Kristin Espinasse

We were watching, she and me—that is, if heliotropes can see.

Watching...

I, through my camera's viewfinder
and she, the sunflower, gazing unencumbered,
without binoculars or a "digital blinder"

 DSC_0054

I followed her example, lowered my camera lens, and observed, unhindered, the scene before us: raw and real now that it was no longer grist for a photo mill.

"I'll tell you a secret," said she, the sunflower in the window sill above me...

"Open your eyes, your very own lenses, and you will see love... if you pay attention—and open up all of your God-given senses.

I studied the rubble outside her window and wondered where love could be hiding there?

 DSC_0047

I followed the sunflower's gaze, to a fragile figure down the lonely lane...
On closer look I saw a man—
baguette tucked under his arm, a cane in his other hand

 DSC_0055"There," said she, gazing affectionately. "Do you hear his whistle?"
"No, I hear mumbling. He is talking to himself... I think he is grumbling!"

"Listen closer, Dear," said the sunflower—
and I wondered, do sunflowers have ears?

"Pay attention," said she... "Remember to open your eyes—and your ears! Soon you will sense love, ever-present, quite near!


 DSC_0059
I noticed how she turned her head,
as certain flowers do, following the light as some follow whim.

Only she was chasing "Love" pure and simple, not the passing fancy kind.
Love, as personified in this mumbling man with his loaf of bread and vocal mind.

 DSC_0059-1

I wouldn't have believed her (she and her "Love" theory)—

Had not time stood still
when the man with the cane turned
and smiled up at the flower in the window sill.

***

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A Day in a Dog's Life...
by Smokey "R"

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If Mama Braise sees my table manners she'll have a fit! So don't tell her. She won't put up with any mamsie pamsie behavior—not since my "accident". She's just trying to toughen me up.

But I do get tired sometimes... My jaw was displaced during the attack, making it hard for me to lap up liquids (most of the water falls out one side of my mouth, when it isn't drooling out the other! Good news is I have just discovered this position which lets in the maximum of liquid—and all I have to do is lower my jaw. Yee haw! high-five! and gimme a paw!

P.S. you might have noticed my new signature "Smokey R". "R" is not for "Robinson"--it stands for "Russell". I get the name—and my good looks—from Gramma K's dear Uncle Rusty.

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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


mamie

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Meet Madame Alberte. It's cold out, but inside Madame's nest there's enough warmth for new friends: feathered, furry, and foreign, like me. Come along and see...

mamie (mah-me) noun, feminine

    : granny

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

I was hoping she would talk to me. Chances were, she would, for as I advanced along one of the many ruelles that make up the village of Roquemaure... yes, as I drew closer, so did she.

From her little, lace-lined first-floor window, she caught my eye. The closer I came, the more she leaned out of her fenêtre... until we might have brushed shoulders with each other, as two pedestrians crossing on a cobbled street.

"Bonjour, Madame."
"Bonjour," said she. "What a beautiful day it is!" She declared, and I knew right then and there she was a Glass Half Full type. In fact, it was very cold outside, and my hands took turns warming themselves first in one coat pocket, then in the other. How else could I keep a hand free to photograph the village surrounding me?

I paused to take a picture of the window next to Madame's and watched, surreptitiously, as Mamie studied me.

 Rustic Window

"May I take your photo?" I asked, transferring my gaze from the somber shutters... to the window with the bright stickers and colorful mamie leaning out.

"Bien sûr! Mais..." (and here, Madame reacted as any modest mamie might) "je ne suis pas très présentable."
"You look lovely," I assured her, while admiring the auburn color of her hair and the little heart pendant hanging on a chain. Madame smiled softly, revealing a single "pearl" just beyond her lips... With only one left, it was indeed precious. Next, she closed her mouth for the photo.

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When I showed her her portrait she agreed, "Ce n'est pas mal du tout!" said she, as in is that really me?
"May I post your photo? I have a blog..."
"Un grog? You would like a grog?"
"No. A blog... I have an on-line journal and would like to post your photo."
"Ah, bien sûr! Please mention my son, who has a vegetable stand just outside of town... le jardin "Île de Miémar" à Roquemaure!" She added, with a chuckle, "the publicité won't hurt him!"

With that she told me stories of her heroic and helpful son, as any mother might. As she spoke I stole glances inside of her home-sweet-home. There was a chatty parrot, "Paco," to her left  and a floppy-eared rabbit to her right. I longed to see what other furry and feathered friends she had tucked away inside.

Perhaps it wasn't too late to change my story... from a blog... back to "I'd like a grog!"? Mamie could have the warmed rum all for herself and I would sit beside the rabbit and listen, cozily, to Mamie's 73-year history.

***
Comments are appreciated. Thanks for responding to this story--or sharing it with a friend.

French Vocabulary & Audio File:
Listen to my daughter, Jackie, pronounce the following French words Download Wav or MP3

Ma grand-mère française préfère que je l'appelle "Granny" au lieu de "Mamie". Et ma grand-mère américaine préfère que je l'appelle "Grand-mère, au lieu de "Grandma." Elles sont compliquées, les "grandmothers," n'est-ce pas? My French grandmother prefers that I call her "Granny" instead of "Mamie".  And my American grandmother prefers that I call her "Grand-mère" instead of "Grandma". They are complicated, grandmothers, aren't they?

une ruelle (f) = alley(way), lane
la fenêtre (f) = window
la mamie (f) = granny
bien sûr, mais je ne suis pas très présentable = of course, but I am not very presentable
ce n'est pas mal du tout = it's not bad at all
la publicité (f) = advertising

***

Emile Henry 

A French standby. Strong, durable, all Emile Henry cookware can be taken directly from the freezer to the hot oven, can go under a broiler and in the microwave; freezer and dishwasher safe. The natural clay is unsurpassed for conducting and retaining heat.

Lavender sachetsFleurs de Lavande: A petite version of our fragrant Provencal sachets. Filled with tiny lavender flowers, these sachets add a lovely fragrance to any drawer.


Nutella Nutella® spread, in its earliest form, was created in the 1940s by Mr. Pietro Ferrero, a pastry maker and founder of the Ferrero company. At the time, there was very little chocolate because cocoa was in short supply due to World War II rationing. So Mr. Ferrero used hazelnuts, which are plentiful in the Piedmont region of Italy... to extend the chocolate supply. Order. (from NutellaUSA.com)

Pronounce it Perfectly in French

Pronounce it Perfectly in French with Audio CD: this program emphasizes speaking, sound discrimination, and standard intonation patterns that are typical of native French speakers. Words and sounds are put into a variety of conversational contexts for students of French to practice and perfect.








A Day in a Dog's Life... by Smokey Dokey

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Smokey says: Sometimes we get a bad picture. We mustn't get discouraged. Instead, remember: we all look better in person, especially when we smile!

By the way, these flowers are for you as a reminder: Never mind the bad "posies"—and don't forget to smell the rosies.

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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


entrelacer

WWI Memorial (c) Kristin Espinasse
We met near the WWI memorial. Her family name was engraved into the sad stone tribute. Read on, in today's story column.

From French Word-A-Day: don't miss this blog, for nearly 800 posts, words and stories.

entrelacer (ontr-lah-say) verb

    to interlace, intertwine

Sound File & Example Sentence
  Listen to my daughter, Jackie, pronounce these French words:
Download Entrelacer

On a marché, mon amie et moi, les bras entrelacés en amitié.
We walked, my friend and I, arms interlaced in friendship.



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

Angels abound around every corner and if you are lucky you will meet them when you walk in love--my momma always showed me--with grace in your gait....
.
It's as easy as this: One minute you are pulling into the parking lot of an unfamiliar town--smoothing your hair... toning down your stars and stripes appearance, so as to fit in, hopefully, as a Frenchwoman--
.
and the next minute you are walking, arm in arm, with a stranger twice your age
, chatting like old friends, of bygone days.

(...In the French town of St-Maurice Sur Eygues...)

"You haven't aged a bit!" Madame assures me. I look over to the elderly woman whose delicate arm is laced through my own. I notice how the sun sets off her silver curls. Looking into her pupils, time is erased. We walk on, this time as two venturesome girls.
.

We had picked each other up halfway down the street, just past the old, stone lavoir* where, unbeknownst to me, another chance meeting was about to take place, some fifteen minutes into the future, in between meeting Madame, and taking photos of an old Chateau up on the hill...
.
Presently, I studied Madame. I noticed she'd put on a jewel-toned scarf, noticed how it clashed, disarmingly, with her faded house-dress. Now this was a woman with whom I could unpack my heart.
.
"And so we meet again!" the woman exclaimed, cheerfully. Indeed we had met some ten minutes earlier, for the first time, after I had set out from le parking* to shoot the village. Shoot it not as it was shot at in WWI; I hoped only to capture its "colorful façade," not its people, not against their will.
.
It was not far from a WWI monument that Madame struck up the first of our two conversations. That is when I had explained that I was taking photos of the village, to share with others who love France, as I do.  Madame smiled and there began our exchange: we talked about politics, architecture, the mundane ménage* that never goes away, but gets harder day, by aging day. We chatted, ditching traffic now and then (occasionally, a car would drive up or down the country lane, causing me to pull Madame forward, or to push her gently aside, depending. But Madame ignored the danger, content, instead, to focus on the rewarding risk of talking to a stranger).
.
"And so we meet again," Madame was now saying.
"Oh... yes," I answered, afraid of making Madame feel obligated. It seemed she was now on her way somewhere--what with that pretty dress-up scarf--and I didn't want to hold her back.
.
"Yes," I repeated. "I'm just taking a few more photos. I have to go and get my daughter now...
"Daughter? You have children?"
"Yes, an eleven- and a fourteen-year-old. Une fille et un garçon."*
"Oh, said, Madame, and that is when she flattered me:
.
"You certainly don't look old enough!"
"I am 41."
"Ce n'est pas vrai!"*
.
I was embarrassed by the first fruits of flattery: red cheeks, warm heart. If I didn't stop Madame now, I might be tempted to listen, un-haltingly. I reveled for a little instant longer (and what a delight and change this was from having one's age over-guessed, not that I have ever once asked to be judged -- but that does not stop others from offering, from accidentally tacking on "time" to a growing collection of facial lines).
.
"Et vous, Madame... Quel age avez-vous?"* Again, it is a question I don't dare ask (so as not to be asked) les dames d'un certain âge*... but this dame was different. This dame was divine and the heavens were whispering to me to inquire.
.
"Quatre-vingt quatre,"* Madame replied.
"You don't say!"
.
And on we walked and talked, helping each other along, now light on our feet: Madame on my arm, my own beneath hers, l'entrelacement des âmes et des dames.*

***

Post note: I gave Madame my calling card, with my web address, but I'm not sure she has internet. I also began to doubt that she has traveled beyond the Drôme... for when I named my home town (not ten miles from her own) Madame looked at me quizzically, as if I had just answered "Sicily". I realized then, that I was in the privileged presence of the venerable past... where people were content to know their neighbors, without the nagging, nefast need.. for newness.

***

Then again... given Madame's curious and energetic disposition, who's to say she's not penning her own blog post, at this very instant? In which case, I hope she is having as much fun in the recounting of this tranche de vie* as I have had writing my version of our story.  Merci, Madame.
.

Comments, corrections--and stories of your own--are always welcome and appreciated in the comments box.
.

~~~~~~~~~~~French Vocabulary~~~~~~~~~~
le lavoir
(m) = washing place; le parking (m) = car park; le ménage (m) = housework; une fille et un garçon = a girl and a boy; quatre-vingt-quatre = eighty-four; Et vous, Madame. Quel âge avez-vous; ce n'est pas vrai = And you, Madame. How old are you? It isn't true; les dames d'un certain âge = women "of a certain age"; l'entrelacement (m) des âmes et des dames = the intertwining of women and souls; une tranche de vie = slice of life

***

Bien dire magazine Keep up your French with Bien Dire (magazine subscription). A 52-page magazine to improve your French! Full of interesting articles on France and French culture: order here.
 

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More photos of St-Maurice--and beyond--in the upcoming editions of Cinéma Vérité: your gift when you commit to a contributing membership at French Word-A-Day. Thank you for helping me to continue to produce and distribute this seven-year-old journal -- and to share these pictures and stories.

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