Art and Contretemps, and a walk with writer Catherine Berry

PPWT-2020

My dear friend Tessa is organizing more art escapades in France, check them out here. Her colorful flyer, above, sets the tone for today's topic: art.

CONTRETEMPS (con-truh-tahn) noun, masculine
    : mishap, mischance
    : hitch; delay, inconvenience
    : syncopation (music)

  arriver à contretemps = to arrive at the wrong moment
  jouer à contretemps = to play out of time

Click here, listen to Jean-Marc read the following sentence

Nos destinées et nos volontés jouent presque toujours à contretemps. Our destinies and our wishes are almost always out of step. --André Maurois

Thank you to Joan Link for her help in translating today's quote.


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

The French word "contretemps" means, among other things, "a note played against the beat". I wonder whether that is why art means more and more to us lately, enough to dare us to put meaningless obligations aside in order to pursue creative activity, and so make a swift turn, marching to another drum beat: our own.

Break apart the word "contretemps" and you get "against time" which explains why artists find it difficult to practice their art. Who's got "temps" to sit quietly, waiting for the muse? And so we must make it (time and art): we shove a few things aside, allow the dust to build up, let the cat eat dog food, don't care about our hair... wear holes in our socks and dive into design when and where we can. If the muse is present, great!, if not, then ainsi soit-il! Nothing's stopping us now.

Contretemps: Part Deux...
As commitments creep in, and you feel like your plate is too full, duty dripping over at the sides, you might be tempted to invent a contretemps in order to excuse yourself from the whirlwind. Who wants to be in a crowded, cacophonic room, when one's own soul-centering sofa beckons? A reading lamp with a warm golden hue dancing beneath the dusty lampshade, a pile of favorite books, a jam jar full of colorful felt markers and a sketchbook by one's side... music musing in the background. When's the last time you were there, in that cozy chair?

Contretemps: Intermezzo
(We'll now take a break in the midst of this dilemma, its theme having to do, we think, with "art 'against time' or 'time against art'"--whether that be the art of writing, of painting, of singing... or simply the art of living...)

Contretemps: Conclusion
My Mom sent me an inspiring arty video the other day. "For Jackie and Max," her note said. I clicked open the link and found myself carried away by a quirky Canadian creator: a filmmaker, in all due respect. And I *do* respect the dues and bad days that an artist pays to get to such freedom. For isn't that the end result
of art
: when the viewer (reader, or listener) is liberated, from time and space? Off we fly, if not contre le vent, then, somehow, "contre temps" and time's constraints.

Contretemps: to play out of time
This post was written in 2008. I'd like to add a section on art and conversation. This past summer I had the pleasure of spending a few creative hours with the writer Catherine Berry. During a stroll along the promenade here in La Ciotat, we talked about writing, sharing the ups, downs, misunderstandings, risks, fears, joys, freedoms and priviledge of expression. 

Many thanks to Catherine for her story about her visit, and for the photo, below. Read the story at Catherine's blog, But You Are in France, Madame.

And please check out her wonderful and relateable memoir, available in paperback (click here) or ebook.

But you are in France

 
Kristi espinasse and catherine berry la ciotat
Me and Catherine Berry. 

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Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution makes a difference. A donation by check or via PayPal is vivement appréciéeMerci infiniment! Kristi

"Bonjour, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle



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Fournisseur: Photos from the Grand Opening of Jean-Marc's wineshop!

Inauguration window shop hours le vin sobre jean-marc espinasse la ciotat

On Thursday, October 10, my friends, suppliers and other guests came to the official opening of Le Vin Sobre La Ciotat. (See the French translation and listen to Jean-Marc read his words, below)

 

Today's Word: le fournisseur

    : supplier, provider

Click here to listen to the example sentence in French:

Le Jeudi 10 Octobre, mes amis, les fournisseurs et d'autres invités sont venus à l'inauguration officielle du Vin Sobre La Ciotat.

 

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

This story is dedicated to our longtime friend Pascale Gauthier-Keogh, who could not be at the grand opening, but who helped enormously in getting the word out about our new wine shop. Merci, Pascale!

Here in La Ciotat there was quite a turnout for the inauguration of Jean-Marc's new wine shop, Le Vin Sobre. I drove to our cave à vin with friends Julie and Dan, visiting from Nice, and we arrived early enough to see the fournisseurs setting up. Our friend Lionel Alphand of Brasserie Alphand was already serving his beer-on-tap in front of the shop, and inside we met Stéphane from Maison Matthieu, busy preparing cured bonite (a kind of tuna) and said bonjour to Olivier from La Cave à jambon.

Olivier la cave a jambon la ciotat le vin sobre jean-marc espinasse
Olivier from La cave a Jambon
Lionel brasserie alphand le vin sobre la ciotat jean-marc espinasse
The wonderful Lionel Alphand, center, and our friends outside the wine shop


Another guest arrived and quietly introduced himself. Anthony Stagliano, from the service de la communication de la Ville de Ciotat, took photos and video clips throughout the event and made the extraordinary (and extraordinarily helpful!) video of the night's celebration, and we are so grateful! Merci à Anthony ainsi que La Ville de La Ciotat!

Friends began arriving, as well as vignerons and those representing our favorite wineries. Fanny was here from La Mascaronne! And there was Eric from Château de Pibarnon and also Jean-Christophe from Domaine du Paternel as well as Harry from Domaine de La Mongestine, where our son Max is currently completing his work-study.

inauguration vin sobre la ciotat max espinasse
our son Max and friends Marianne and Michel, and Nicolas


Christophe, Jean-Marc's shop assistant, who worked day and night to get thousands of bottles and stock into place, and most of the associates were present at this grand opening, including fondateur Fabrice Dammann who began the Vin Sobre Wine shops (there are now four, including ours) almost 20 years ago.

Jean-Marc called me over to meet the mayor of La Ciotat, Patrick Boré, who had arrived with several people from the mairie. Next, Jean Marc gave a touching speech before opening a giant 3-liter bottle of Billecart Salmon champagne for everyone.
As guests sipped bubbly, including me (sparking water) a reporter from La Provence who was taking notes turned to me ...
and posed a question that everybody's been asking...

D'ou viens le nom Le Vin Sobre? Just where did the shop name come from?

I thought about just how many times a day we get asked this question and it is time to set the record straight, or
mettre les choses au clair...

No, it has nothing to do with one of us being abstinent (as those of you reading our memoir-in-progress have guessed), it is, according to Le Vin Sobre founder, Fabrice, simply an amusing play on the words vin et sobre, wine and sober. 

I find it endlessly amusing, too!  This humorous and ironic twist--this vin, this sobre, could be the story of our lives.


FRENCH VOCABULARY

l'inauguration = grand opening, unveiling
le vin sobre = (literally) the sober wine
le cave à vin =wine cellar (also used for wine shop)
ainsi que = as well as
la mairie = town hall, city hall
abstinent = teetotaler, non-drinker
d'ou viens = where does it come from?
mettre les choses au clair = to set the record straight

MVIMG_20191010_203642

Has a friend forwarded you this post? Receive your own FREE subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution makes a difference. A donation by check or via PayPal is vivement appréciéeMerci infiniment! Kristi

"Bonjour, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle



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S'emballer: Jean-Marc's heart after the 2019 Ironman Barcelona

2019 Ironman Barcelona Jean-Marc Espinasse
In between these letters, you can follow colorful updates on my Instagram @kristinespinasse

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Today's Word: s'emballer

    : to race, to bolt, to soar, to rocket

=> s'emballer also means to get carried away, to lose control of yourself

Listen to Jean-Marc read the following update, click here
À 28 kilomètres de la ligne d'arrivée de l'Ironman Barcelona, mon cœur a commencé à s'emballer et j'ai senti dès fourmillements dans les pieds, les mains et le cou. J'ai alterné marche et course ensuite et lorsque j'ai ressenti une pointe au mollet à 14 kms de la  "finish line" j'ai décidé d'abandonner.

At 28 kilometers from the finish line of the Ironman Barcelona, ​​my heart began to race and I felt tingling in the feet, hands and neck. I alternated walking and running next, and when I felt a stab to the calf 14 kms from the "finish line" I decided to give up.


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
  By Kristi Espinasse

My Ironman is sleeping after a challenging 24-hour day, Sunday, in which he pushed his 52-year-old body to its limit. Twenty-eight kilometers shy of the Ironman Barcelona finish line, after swimming, biking and now running... Jean-Marc's heart began protesting. Next, he had les fourmillements--"crawling ant" sensation in his feet, hands, and le cou. At that point, he began walking to the finish line...when his mollet began to shoot with pain.

His first words when he called me were, "Je vais bien. Ne t'inquiète pas..."

I wasn't the only one concerned! My Dad, over in Idaho, was also tracking Jean-Marc--via the Ironman app. When Dad's watch dinged, shortly after he'd gone to sleep, he realized the race had begun. Jean-Marc had dived into the Mediterranean Sea in Calella, Spain, and this immense physical épreuve--among men half his age..and a few older--was on.
 

Screenshot_20191006-194743

Dad's watch continued to ding throughout the night, alerting him (and my belle-mère?) to Jean-Marc's progress. By the next morning when the sun rose in Idaho, Jean-Marc had finished the biking and was now running. But my Dad became concerned when Jean-Marc fell off the radar and could no longer be tracked...had Jean-Marc had an accident?

Screenshot_20191006-194621

Meantime here in La Ciotat, my phone was dinging as well. It dinged when I went out to feed the chickens their breakfast, dinged after I made our daily bread, and dinged on my way to church...and dinged when I returned home and when I took my nap. I was amazed to check my husband's progress thanks to each alert. It was incredible to think that while the rest of us were going about our day, waking, eating, gardening, sleeping, Jean-Marc was carefully meting out his energy reserves on what would be for him a 12-hour course.

I was thankful our son Max had driven across the border with his Dad to help out with the equipment and cheer him on in person. Speaking of Max, this is the reason Jean-Marc had called so late at night....

"Everything thing is ok," my husband assured me. 

My sleepy brain tried to process Jean-Marc's words. Why was he calling? What had happened? Last I checked he was 2 hours from the finish line. Where was Max? 

Max was fine (indeed he'd had a thrilling day following his dad, cheering him on, photographing him, and enjoying the Spanish seaside town. He too was receiving those dings, or notifications... while he ate ribs, spoke in Spanish to the locals, and even managed a little spa time during the 12 hours that his father advanced toward the finish line....

But he was currently unaware of his father's injury. "Call Max and tell him I will meet him back at the hotel."
Jean-Marc's voice was level and I knew not to ask too many questions, but to get the message to Max asap. 
When next I heard back from the two, they were already on the road, for the 4.5-hour drive home (with Max at the wheel).

It wasn't the first time I thought: This is crazy. He is overdoing it--once again squeezing a mountain of activity into the space of a day! Driving almost 5 hours home after midnight and after an all-day triathlon! He has not slept in 24 hours. Why don't they just stay one more night and get some sleep?

Because that's Jean-Marc, and I am learning to let him be, all the while keeping a watchful eye on this Ironman.

"But I am not an Ironman," I did not finish the triathlon, Jean-Marc replied, as he cracked open our bedroom door at 3:03 am, having arrived safely home.

"Yes, you are! As far as we (your family) are concerned, you are a Finisher. And we are so proud of you! Tellement fier de toi!"

*    *    *

I am still editing this post, but will pause now to make lunch for our Ironman, who is up and walking around now. If you see any coquilles, or typos--or simply want to congratulate Jean-Marc--thank you for using the comments box below.

For those reading our memoir, you will be familiar by now by Jean-Marc's drive. Indeed it's driven us from town to town, project to project, where he's raced after his dreams 24/7. It caused a fair amount of tension in our relationship, something I am writing about (8 chapters have now been posted). Let's give Jean-Marc the rest of this week to finish his latest chapter. He needs a little rest for now. Click here to read about our memoir-in-progress.

FRENCH VOCABULARY
les fourmillements = tingling
le cou = neck
le mollet = calf
je vais bien = I'm okay
ne t'inquiète pas = do not worry
une épreuve = test
la belle-mère = stepmother
tellement = so very
fier de toi = proud of you

 

A


Screenshot_20191006-194039

Has a friend forwarded you this post? Receive your own FREE subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution makes a difference. A donation by check or via PayPal is vivement appréciéeMerci infiniment! Kristi

"Bonjour, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle



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