Advice for Each Decade of Life & Surrender: A Mother Daughter update

Cafe de l'horloge la ciotat france
Would this picture be good for the La Ciotat postcard series? Thanks for your helpful feedback and for your postcard orders this week! I am enjoying the quiet, mindful activity of addressing envelopes and my handwriting is slowly improving :-)

TODAY’S WORD: s'abandonner

: to surrender yourself to, to unburden yourself 


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

As I walked into Le Café de L’Horloge two customers seated near le comptoir offered a warm bonjour.

"Boh-wher!" I replied, or tried to. For once it wasn't my faulty accent to blame. The freezing Mistral had numbed my face during the 30-minute walk to Port Vieux, where I was meeting my daughter for lunch. I waved goodbye to the diners after Jackie arrived, and the two of us headed upstairs to share a quiet booth with a view. "Isn't it cozy here? I love this place. It is open all day," Jackie said rubbing her hands together to warm them.

Hungry, I searched for la carte. "It's tucked inside that book..." my daughter pointed out.
"Oh, nice!" This artsy café had a charming literary twist (there are more books next door at the Emmaus bookshop). I reached for the menu inside a  paperback by Sylvain Tesson: "S'Abandonner à Vivre." Surrender to Live...

For now, we were surrendering to our appetites. Jackie suggested the bagel with salmon and la soupe de poireaux. A young woman from Paris took our order and disappeared down the stairs. "One more week of classes!" I said to my 25-year-old, who was completing a 4-week computer course offered by Pôle Emploi, the French national employment agency.

"Yes, but then what?" my daughter began to worry again. After some thought, I reminded her of a bit of wisdom I'd overheard recently:

In your twenties, try everything.
In your thirties, figure out what you do best.
In your forties, make money from what you do best.
Try not to do much in your fifties.

If I could say that in French it might go something like this:

Dans la vingtaine, essayez tout.
Dans la trentaine, découvrez ce que vous faites de mieux.
Dans la quarantaine, gagnez de l'argent avec ce que vous faites de mieux.
Essayez de ne pas faire grand-chose à la cinquantaine.

At 25 and 55 my daughter and I are at opposite ends of the career spectrum--between "essayez tout" et "ne pas faire grand-chose"--with Jackie trying everything between bartending and computer coding and me slowing down. Yikes. If Jackie has her doubts so do I (dois-je ralentir?).  And yet here we are, holding each other up with cheers and bouts of laughter.

"I'm going to embarrass you," I smile, giving my daughter an extra big bear hug back outside the café.
"No, you're not embarrassing me!" Jackie hugs back. We laugh and say our goodbyes before my daughter returns to computer class. She is anxious to see the 3D objet de déco she's designed which has just been cut out by a laser printer. It boggles my mind. Who knows what they'll print next. ..Baguettes? 

What would I do without my daughter? I think, on the cold walk home alone. Have I been present during lunch? Am I paying attention? Have I missed anything? I remember her smile. How she spoke to me in French and, catching herself, reverted to English. I think about the way Jackie ordered our lunch, poured the water, and spread chocolate over our shared gauffre before reaching into her purse for two euros, "I'll leave the pourboire." She is so calm. You’d never know she struggles with doubts and fears and anxieties.

Yet, she is showing me how to laugh at life. On the drive to pick up my daughter from class in the centre ville, I see her waiting on the side of the road. Suddenly, I catch a glimpse of a patrol car in my rear-view mirror...et c'est la panique! As I drive by my daughter my eyes widen and I begin wagging my finger back and forth, signaling I CAN'T STOP NOW! (Not in the middle of the road as usual.)

Finally, I pull over and my daughter, catching up to the car, opens the door. Neither of us can speak, we are laughing so hard. Eyes glistening with tears, we look at each other with comic relief. On rigole, et on rigole encore!

"Mom! You should have seen your face. I just knew you were going to freak! You and the cops! Toi et les flics--C'est toute une histoire! The fits of laughter continue until I have to wipe my eyes in order to drive. Fear and uncertainty have gone for the moment. These old foes will be back, but for now, we can laugh!

Well, dear reader, it is time to sum up today's story and bid you au revoir. So, no matter your age, be sure to slow down, try everything, and remember laughter is a form of surrender. Abandonnons-nous tous à vivre!

Amicalement
Kristi
P.S. The next time you see cops and panic, do what the French do: whisper Vingt-Deux les Flics! ("Twenty-two the cops!") It doesn't mean anything. It's just funny and kind of freeing!  

ADVICE FOR EACH DECADE OF LIFE
I thought it would be interesting to continue the "Advice for Each Decade" info cited above. Will you add your experience and wisdom to the comments section and whether or not you agree with the 20s, 30s, 40s, an 50s advice? To rephrase:

In your twenties, try everything.
In your thirties, figure out what you do best.
In your forties, make money from what you do best.
Try not to do much in your fifties.
In your sixties (fill in blank)
In your seventies (fill in blank)
In your eighties (fill in blank)
In your nineties (fill in blank)
At 100 (fill in blank, and merci to our readers who are nearing la centaine!)

Cafe de l horloge street view
View looking down to the cobbled streets of La Ciotat.

Jules in la ciotat at cafe l horloge
Can you spy my mom in the background? Photo of Jules taken a few years ago in front of Café l'Horloge, at 7 Rue Albert et Georges Arnoux, 13600 La Ciotat. A nice place for coffee, lunch, or apéros!

AUDIO FILE: Listen to the French vocabulary list

Click here to begin listening


FRENCH VOCABULARY
s'abondonner = to surrender oneself
le Café de L'Horloge = The Clock Café
le comptoir
= bar, counter
Le Port Vieux = The Old Port in La Ciotat
la carte = the menu
la soupe de poireaux = leek soup
le pôle emploi = job center, unemployment office
dois-je ralentir? = should I slow down?
objet de déco = decorative object
la gaufre = waffle
le pourboire = tip, gratuity
rigoler = to laugh
toi et les flics = you and the cops
c'est toute une histoire = it's quite a story
amicalement = yours, kind regards
un apéro = pre-dinner drink

Cartes postales post cards
Would you like to order a set of my postcards from La Ciotat? Click this link for more info

A Message from KristiFor twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check (to this new address)
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


6 Postcards from France: Les Cartes Postales

square postcards from La Ciotat France

NOW AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE: KRISTI'S POSTCARDS FROM FRANCE
Bonjour! I have created a limited series of cartes postales from photos I have taken around our seaside town of La Ciotat. These postcards are meaningful as they feature scenes close to home. One pack of postcards is $24 and contains these 6 cards:

1. Horse and Trainer in the Sea
2. Smokey and the Doves
3. The Barber Shop and The Bulldog
4. Villa on the Mediterranean
5. Sunrise and Doves
6. Lili The Cat

--The postcard size is just under 6 inches (5.9 by 5.9)
--The back is completely blank. 
--Each card weighs .30 ounces

Voilà for my special edition of 6 postcards from France. I hope you enjoy them and will consider buying a set for yourself--or for a friend!

The $24 price for 6 assorted postcards (envelopes not included) includes shipping from France. Allow 2-4 weeks for delivery.



Postcards from france boxer and barber shop
Our dining table has become a processing center. Here are stacks of 6 postcards about to go into their envelope. Next, come the French stamps--and on the back of your package another exotic timbre to seal the envelope. Lots of licking is involved: envelope, stamp, stamp, stamp!

Postcards from france boxer and barber shop
That's my daughter's thumb. Jackie was watching me assemble the sets of cards before tucking them into the envelopes and sealing them shut.

"Can you imagine if you sold 2000 of them?" Jackie mused. "You'd have to hire a bunch of lickers!"

Haha! For the moment, I have 33 sets ready to ship. This is a one-woman production. Though I may eventually hire my daughter. She has prettier handwriting and could address the envelopes! 

9771B216-D3F3-4867-B575-EDCF9B6A4FD2
Thank you for reading about my home-based postcard enterprise. Don't forget to ORDER HERE and thanks in advance!

6046799B-1FB2-4F5B-9F6D-7D103FCBB4CD
Taking photos in the French countryside

A Message from KristiFor twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check (to this new address)
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


A Common Mistake + favorite English word translated to French

The kasbah Agadir Morocco North Africa
The Kasbah. Agadir, formerly "Santa Cruz", is located on a seismic line. Agadir was rebuilt after the 1960 earthquake that killed 17000 people and destroyed 60 percent of this city. More about our visit to this former French colony, in today's post.

NEW: The audio section has moved and is now a dual-recording. Jean-Marc pronounces the French and you'll hear my Arizona accent for the English! To access the French/English sound-file, scroll to the vocabulary section. Reading via email? You will need to click over to the website for the full edition.

TODAY’S FRENCH WORD: se ressaisir 

    : to pull yourself together, to buck up

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

I love the slightly old-fashioned expression “to buck up” and its various definitions:

To buck up is to become encouraged, reinvigorated. To pluck up courage. To improve, smarten, to raise the morale of, to cheer up… In French, to buck up could be translated to se ressaisir.

After selling his wine shop, and following his last day as a business owner and gérant, Jean-Marc wanted to travel somewhere warm and sunny for some renewal and cheer. He finally settled on Agadir, Morocco--a 3-hr direct flight from nearby Marseilles.

By Sunday morning we were walking along an exotic beach when my husband turned to look at the giant, white-tipped vagues which draw so many surfers to the area.“I wonder if la mer is warmer here?” 

“The sea?” I grin, but it’s too late, he can’t take it back. And now it’s my turn to have a little fun with Jean-Marc:

“But this is not the sea! It's the ocean.”

How my spouse loves to correct tourists who visit our own station balnéaire, who innocently confuse the sea and the ocean as I often did. But here, on vacation in North Africa, it must be the relaxed state he is in that’s caused the confusion. “Oui, l’océan!” Jean-Marc smiles. "Je sais. Je sais."

“But do you know the difference between the ocean and the sea?” Quizzes Monsieur Smartypants, only to answer his own question: "Une mer est entourée de terre…a sea is surrounded by land.”

"I know, I know." But the truth is I'm just scraping by when it comes to geography. Witness this letter I received from a reader, following my previous post: Richard writes: “A lovely story, but if you were in Agadir, the sun was setting in the Atlantic, not the Mediterranean!”

Oups! The funny part is both Jean-Marc and I missed the error when proofreading the essay.

Here on Agadir plage, on the Atlantic, the beach is so wide and deep and smooth the locals play soccer on the endless sandy field. The sun is rising when a young man with a stick draws a large rectangle over le sable. The rectangles extend down the plage for a half kilometer as a dozen or more teams enjoy early morning practice.

There are a few other women walking on the beach at this early hour. Their heads and sometimes faces are covered with scarves. Up on the hotel terraces overlooking the shoreline, bikini-clad tourists (mostly French) will soon be sunning themselves. Just when I'm feeling super foreign, I notice the soccer players are all playing ball dans leurs chaussettes! As a mom, I can suddenly relate to their moms, who are not going to be happy on laundry day. As exotic as the women here look to me, we are all dealing with the “outdoor sock issue” back home.

Back in our hotel room overlooking the pool and the sea—l’océan—I am tugging at the one-piece bathing suit I’ve ordered online. Yay, it fits…even if it doesn’t fit in with the barely-clad Frenchies. I take that back. It looks like more French women are wearing one pieces....

I’ve settled in poolside when another woman arrives. She sets her beach bag down four chairs away from mine. When she removes her paréo, I see she’s wearing the same black one-piece as me. I reconsider walking past my sosie to get to the pool stairs, where I was headed for a swim. Oh buck up! I think instead. I’m tired of hiding from everything and everybody. Vive la liberté! Freedom calls!

Only, the water in the heated pool is not as warm as the “piscine chauffé” sign would lead one to believe. It is so cold that I regret I didn't follow my husband who just dove into the sea. I mean the ocean. Oh, you know what I mean! 

I leave you with my favorite English verb, to buck up. For the rest of this year, I will be practicing it--even if I never did buck up and dive into... l'Atlantique!
***

Kristi berber horse agadir morocco
That's me being taken for a ride--in both senses. I could have ridden this sweet horse forever, this gentle cheval erased all my fears... for the brief moment we were together. (The unsolicited ride began "for free" and ended up costing a Moroccan day's salary. Thankfully, the berger and the tourist came to a settlement wherein each left with their dignity intact.

Soccer practice agadir
Remember the soccer players? Those are socks--and not shoes--on their feet. Ouch! They also kick the ball barefoot! 
Camels view from kasbah
Part of the panoramic view from the Kasbah.

BOOKS: The Conquest of Morocco
"...in the mad scramble for African colonies, Morocco had one great attraction for the Europeans: it was available. In 1903, France undertook to conquer the exotic and backward country. By the time World War I broke out the conquest was virtually complete." --from "The Conquest of Morocco"

FRENCH VOCABULARY
se ressaisir = to buck up
le/la gérant(e) = manager
la vague = wave
la station balnéaire = coastal resort, seaside resort
l’océan (m) = ocean
je sais = I know
une mer est entourée de terre = a sea is surrounded by land
oups = whoops
le sable = sand
la plage = beach
dans leurs chaussettes = in their socks
le paréo = beach cover up
le sosie = twin
vive la liberté = long live freedom
la piscine chauffée = heated pool
l’atlantique = the Atlantic

AUDIO FILE & SOME HISTORY
Following the vocabulary list, there is a pause in the recording. Then you will hear the sentence below. (I get a little tongue-tied toward the end!) Do you enjoy these husband/wife recordings? Let us know.

Click here to listen to Jean-Marc and me pronounce the French and English


La langue française fait partie de la vie quotidienne des Marocains. C’est un héritage d’une période de colonisation durant laquelle elle avait même été proclamée langue officielle des institutions coloniales. Aujourd’hui encore, plus d’un demi-siècle après l’indépendance du pays, la langue française reste très répandue au Maroc, notamment dans les secteurs des entreprises privées et de l’éducation. (credit: LeMatin.ma)

The French language is part of the daily life of Moroccans. It is a legacy of a period of colonization during which it was even proclaimed the official language of colonial institutions. Even today, more than half a century after the country's independence, the French language remains widespread in Morocco, particularly in the private business and education sectors.

Agadir riflemen war 1913 tirailleurs maroc
The handwriting from 1913 reads "north-east side is camp of the riflemen. What else can you say about this postcard? Share your history knowledge in the comments section and add to this post. Merci!

Camel and shepherd berger kasbah agadir morocco


Moroccan pastries corne de gazelleSWEET OF THE WEEK, NO 8: North African pastries, made by our Algerian friends (thanks Sidi and Sidi's mom who made them). Here's a Makroud, a baklava (my favorite!) and a corne de gazelle. So delicious and satisfying with or without mint tea. Ants love them too so don't hide them in your nightstand.

La ciotat france mediterranean sea paddle board sunrise
January sunrise. From shore to shore. From surfers to paddle-boarders. After the ocean in Agadir, here is the sea in La Ciotat, near Cassis. Please check out the book list in the side column (or end) of this blog. New books have been added.

A Message from KristiFor twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check (to this new address)
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety