Le glas: The death knell rang today in France

Eglise church in st cyr le glas sonne en franceLe glas sonne dans toutes les églises de France en hommage aux trois victimes de l'attentat dans la basilique de Nice. (-Midi Libre) The death knell is ringing in all the churches of France in homage to the three victims of the attack in the basilica of Nice. (photo of a church in St Cyr-sur-Mer)

*    *    *

Many of you woke to the news of France's latest, most horrific terrorist attack (the fourth in under 6 weeks). Two women and one man were knifed to death this morning in Nice, only a half-mile from the 2016 truck attack in the same Mediterranean city.

The French government immediately put the country under a plan vigipirate (anti-terrorist security plan)--at its highest degree. This comes on the eve of the nation's second lockdown.

Adding to the shock are the details behind the murders (certain info will be left out): it took place in a church. One of the victims, an elderly woman, was praying when she was killed. The second woman, who fled, wounded, to a nearby business, died after asking onlookers for a favor:

Dites à mes enfants que je les aime. Tell my children I love them.

The tears France is shedding and the pain the world is feeling is echoed in le glas: the death knell began ringing at 3 pm this afternoon. Here, on the eve of le confinement, as we process the news, one can't help ask, How could this tragedy have been avoided?

One answer might be: By keeping quiet! After all, if the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo hadn't drawn...and if the teacher, Samuel Paty, hadn't lectured, had President Macron not spoken out--in the name of freedom of expression--no one would have been offended and thus enraged. 

But we all know that isn't the answer, and that the answer isn't as simple as that.

While I am the last person to know the answer, I have a few questions. Is freedom of speech sans exception? Or, is it like the French grammar rule that states: there is an exception to every rule. If so, what is the exception? There must be an exception

Doves by the sea in la ciotat
To the victims in Nice: Restez en paix. 

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Rien qu'aujourd'hui (Only for Today): A "How To" for difficult times

Poppies and our wild gardenDuring 10 challenging years at two vineyards (before moving to this peaceful, postage-stamp garden where our wine memoir is underway), I kept a copy of today's mind-centering thoughts in my purse. In uncertain times, such words may be helpful to you, family, or friends.

ONLY FOR TODAY...
RIEN QU'AUJOURD'HUI

Only for today, I will seek to live the livelong day positively without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once. Rien qu’aujourd’hui, j’essaierai de vivre ma journée sans chercher à résoudre le problème de toute ma vie.

Only for today, I will take the greatest care of my appearance: I will dress modestly; I will not raise my voice; I will be courteous in my behaviour; I will not criticize anyone; I will not claim to improve or to discipline anyone except myself. Rien qu’aujourd’hui, je prendrai le plus grand soin de me comporter et d’agir de manière courtoise ; je ne critiquerai personne et je ne prétendrai corriger ou régenter qui que ce soit, excepté moi-même.

Only for today, I will be happy in the certainty that I was created to be happy, not only in the other world but also in this one. Aujourd’hui je serai heureux, rien qu’aujourd’hui, sur la certitude d’avoir été créé pour le bonheur, non seulement dans l’autre monde, mais également dans celui-ci.

Only for today, I will adapt to circumstances, without requiring all circumstances to be adapted to my own wishes. Rien qu’aujourd’hui, je me plierai aux circonstances, sans prétendre que celles-ci cèdent à tous mes désirs.

Only for today, I will devote 10 minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul. Rien qu’aujourd’hui je consacrerai dix minutes à une bonne lecture en me rappelant que, comme la nourriture est nécessaire à la vie du corps , de même la bonne lecture est nécessaire à la vie de l’âme.

Only for today, I will do one good deed and not tell anyone about it. Rien qu’aujourd’hui, je ferai une bonne action et je n’en parlerai à personne.

Only for today, I will do at least one thing I do not like doing; and if my feelings are hurt, I will make sure that no one notices. Rien qu’aujourd’hui, j’accomplirai au moins une chose que je n’ai pas du tout envie de faire, et si on m’offense, je ne le manifesterai pas.

Only for today, I will make a plan for myself: I may not follow it to the letter, but I will make it. And I will be on guard against two evils: hastiness and indecision. Rien qu’aujourd’hui, j’établirai un programme détaillé de ma journée. Je ne m’en acquitterai peut-être pas entièrement, mais je le rédigerai. Et je me garderai de deux calamités: la hâte et l’indécision.

Only for today, I will firmly believe, despite appearances, that the good Providence of God cares for me as no one else who exists in this world. Rien qu’aujourd’hui, je croirai fermement – même si les circonstances attestent le contraire – que la Providence de Dieu s’occupe de moi comme si rien d’autre n’existait au monde.

Only for today, I will have no fears. In particular, I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe in goodness. Indeed, for 12 hours I can certainly do what might cause me consternation were I to believe I had to do it all my life. Rien qu’aujourd’hui, je n’aurai aucune crainte. Et tout particulièrement, je n’aurai pas peur d’apprécier ce qui est beau et de croire à la bonté. Je suis en mesure de faire le bien pendant douze heures, ce qui ne saurait me décourager, comme si je me croyais obligé de le faire toute ma vie durant.

Note: My copy (the one in my purse) of "Just For Today" was a gift from A.A. The original text is from Le décalogue de la sérénité de saint Jean XXIII 

Jean-marc heidi doug kristi
New York, 2008. Jean-Marc, my sister Heidi, Doug, Kristi. Thank you very much for your words of sympathy following my brother-in-law, Doug's, passing.

Doves by the sea in la ciotat
This image (taken here in La Ciotat) always brings a peaceful feeling. Enjoy, take good care, and à bientôt.

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue creating this French word journal and its newsletter, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site humming along, please know your donation makes all the difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
 
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They don't have that in France! In Memory of my brother-in-law

Doug
My brother-in-law leaves us with countless memories of his generosity, big heart, and Tell It Like It Is character. In today's missive, a few French souvenirs, in memory of Doug.

Today's Word: inoubliable

1. unforgettable
2. never to be forgotten

Merci pour ces inoubliables moments en famille, Doug.
Thank you for these unforgettable family moments, Doug. Click here to listen to Jean-Marc read the French

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

My brother-in-law passed away eleven days ago, Sunday. He was fifty-nine.

My sister is currently writing Doug's obituary. I wish I could be there with Heidi, in Denver, to help her find the words, to sit beside her as we rifled through old photos and said a lot of Remember That Time Whens....

One thing I'll always remember about my beau-frère was his no BS attitude. And when it came to his belle-soeur in France there was plenty of nonsense to call out! Take shower curtains for example. Years ago, when Doug and Heidi came to visit, Doug left a pool of water on our bathroom floor. It just wasn't like him - he was tidy, in an everything in its place way. And water’s place is in the tub. (An impossible feat to keep it there when your hostess has no shower curtain!)

As we mopped up the salle-de-bains, using thick square cloths (des serpillières gaufrées) and a broom, Doug offered to buy us a plastic curtain...and a decent mop, for crying out loud! I can still hear my brother-in-law's voice, a bit sarcastic, often blunt, it cut through the nonsense and revealed what it is we were hiding behind (certainly not drapes!).

“Kristi, why don’t you guys have a shower curtain?”
“Uh... they don’t have shower curtains in France.”
“What? You don't have shower curtains in France? Oh, come on!”

At that moment in time (newly arrived in France, living in the countryside of St. Maximin), I believed it was true. After all, there wasn’t un rideau de douche in any of the homes I'd visited so far. I never saw them for sale at our tiny quincaillerie, but you could find dainty curtains (les brise-bise) at the hardware store. And they were nowhere to be found at our supermarché, (which, incredibly, began selling Halloween costumes one year!). It seemed to be yet another commodité moderne the French hadn't yet discovered--such as tumble dryers or drive-thru banking or one-hour dry cleaning...remind me to tell you about my beau-frère’s run-in with the sassy lavandière who refused to press more than 3 of his shirts. Doug was perplexed: “I guess they don’t have a business mentality in France either!”

There began a decades-long joke between my beau-frère and me. The ribbing always ended with some encouragement: “Kristi, I am sure France has (such and such). Go find it!”

Apart from Doug’s skill at calling out people’s BS, my brother-in-law was an excellent chef. He went all out on Thanksgiving (best turkey and stuffing bar none!) and his Christmas dinner was Michelin-star superb. But the simple fare, eaten casually around the kitchen island, in our pajamas, made me feel truly home again! We Froggies (as Doug called us) relished these American brunches which Heidi and Doug prepared as a team, serving up sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, toast, and waffles--and Mimosas and Bloody Marys too.

Doug's smoked ribs were another quelque chose you could not find in France! “You could make this, Kristi! Don’t give me that BS that you don’t have BBQs in France!”

“Well, we don’t have Green Eggs ® in France!”
“No, you probably don’t!” Doug smiled, proud of his new cooker.

The last time I saw my brother-in-law we were having breakfast together at Pancake House in Denver. This newly-forged tradition was a chance to reunite with The Froggies, Payne, Reagan (my niece and nephew), and Heidi (even after le divorce, the two were committed to family). Catching up over coffee and stacks of buttermilk pancakes, I told Doug about our recent predicament: "We keep getting locked out of Heidi's house," I laughed.

"You need an extra set of keys!" Doug said, offering to take we Froggies to the hardware store after breakfast. There at the quincaillerie, waiting for the key to be copied, my brother-in-law snickered. I'll bet they don't have Hide-A-Keys in France either!

I snickered back before a wave of nostalgia hit. Looking over at Doug, I saw his tired face, his baseball cap pulled low over his brow. He was not doing well. (In addition to sharing jokes about France, my brother-in-law and I shared the “Better Off Sober” etiquette…). Remembering all of my brother-in-law's caring gestures over the years, as well as his growing struggles, I didn't want our visit to end without due appreciation.

"That’s so like you to take care of these nagging details!" I blurted, waving the shiny new key in the air. "Thank you...for everything."

"Yah, well, if I didn’t do it you guys wouldn’t!" Doug laughed, before hugging us goodbye for the very last time....

* * *

Comfort Food. This morning I wanted to make meatloaf when I realized one ingredient was missing: Worcestershire sauce. In all the years I’ve been in France I have never bought a bottle. I am, finally, on my way out to search for it now. In a quincallerie? Beside the dainty curtains? Well, maybe not... I've gotta look harder!)

Thank you, Doug, for this and for your generous heart. PS, I know what you’re thinking: “Meatloaf? Oh, I get it: now you’re going to tell me they don’t have steak in France!”

IMG_20181007_103623
At the Pancake House in 2018, with Reagan, Jackie, and Payne.

FRENCH VOCABULARY
inoubliable
= unforgettable, never to be forgotten
le beau-frère
= brother-in-law
la belle soeur
= sister-in-law
la salle-de-bains= bathroom
les serpillières gaufrées
= waffled cloths for washing floors
le rideau de douche
= shower curtain
la quincaillerie
= hardware store
le brise-bise
= half curtains (pictured here)
le supermarché
= supermarket
la commodité moderne
= modern convenience
la lavandière
= washerwoman
quelque chose
= something

une étiquette = label

PXL_20201015_081213400.MP
Years ago. I'll never forget Doug demonstrating how to open a bottle of champagne with a sword! "Sabrage is a technique for opening a champagne bottle with a saber, used for ceremonial occasions."--Wikipedia

Max doug jackie
Max and Jackie will miss their Uncle Doug, who took them to sports events and spoiled them with fun times--memories they will always have.

PXL_20201015_081236075.MP
That time Doug and Heidi brought Grandma Audrey to France! And treated us to dinner at Le Louis XV and a stay at l'Hôtel de Paris!
Doug heidi grandma kristi jimmy
Old photos, wonderful memories. We are still digging through pictures--bye for now....

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue creating this French word journal and its newsletter, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site humming along, please know your donation makes all the difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
 
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