Tabouret, fouet, penderie, bonnes idées - and a glimpse into the writing life

Tabouret de bar bar stool
It is not enough to have good ideas, you have to act. If you need milk, do not sit on a stool in the middle of a field in the hope that a cow will pass by. -Curtis Grant (don't miss the French translation below)

Today's word: un tabouret

    : stool, footstool

un tabouret de bar = bar stool
un tabouret de cuisine = kitchen stool
un tabouret de piano = piano bench

Il ne suffit pas d'avoir de bonnes idées, il faut agir. Si vous avez besoin de lait, ne vous installez pas sur un tabouret au milieu d'un champs dans l'espoir qu'une vache y passe.

Hemingway paris writer write
Hemingway's Paris: A Writer's City in Words and Images. Order it here.

My backpack sac a dosA DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
by Kristi Espinasse

The following paragraph was posted with the picture above at  Instagram....

A bar stool with a lot of memories and, sur son dos, a backpack with a lot of souvenirs. It is comforting to have familiar things out. I wore that sac à dos on the plane, in '92, when I moved to France. It somehow got shoved in the back of the closet. Lately, now that I keep it on the chair by the kitchen, I've been taking it out with me, using it for shopping. Today it brought good luck via a touching and meaningful encounter with a stranger. I think that meeting must've swept all the energy out of me (in a good way) and I'm afraid I'll be lazy and not sit down and write about it all. At times like this is good to rest, let the doubts pass, and then exercise a bit of violence with yourself (French for "give yourself a kick in the butt"!). We all need a handy whip when it comes to realizing our dreams....

 

FRENCH VOCABULARY
sur son dos = on it's back
le sac à dos = backpack
un souvenir = memory

REVERSE DICTIONARY
closet = la penderie
to go shopping = faire les courses
lazy = parasseux (euse)
stranger = un inconnu
whip = un fouet


My writing space
This is my writing desk. My computer and paperwork is hidden under that scarf--because this is also my bedroom and in order to sleep I don't want to be thinking about work. Yet, I think about work all the time. Because writing this blog is my life.

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 is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
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"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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Cussing, swear word: You've heard of gros mot, but what's a juron?

Park in la ciotat provence France
Today's crime story (or tale of your choice...) takes place here, at our local park in La Ciotat....

French Word of the Day: un juron

    : swearword, curse word, cuss

lâcher des jurons = to use strong language
un chapelet de jurons = a string of expletives

U.S. taxes for worldly americans living working staying tax compliant abroad
U.S. Taxes for Worldly Americans--A fascinating topic if you're an expat or wish to become one. Click here for additional info i.e. ever heard about the unlucky Accidental American? Find out more in the book!)

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Often, all it takes to come up with a story is one good line. Take, for example, the following snippet overheard at the park earlier today: 

Allez les enfants. Plus de gros mots. Je filme pour votre maman.

Let me translate that one for you: Come on, kids, no more cussing. I'm filming for your mom! With a gem like this--spoken by a camera-wielding grand-mère to two little tikes on bikes--you could pen an essay about public vs. private personas. But who wants to get all philosophical at this time of the day (it's evening now, and I've got to put my hens to bed).

Then again, with a bit of one-sided dialogue like the above, a short piece could be written about cussing in France, specifically, all the little gosses who do it. You do hear the terms merde and putain issuing right out of the mouths of babes! If you don't believe me, spend a day at the beach, sit beside some stressed-out sand-castle engineers. Or go to the city park, right before l'heure de goûter when everyone's as edgy as a Parisian waiter. But back to badmouthed kids...

Allez les enfants. Plus de gros mots. Je filme pour votre maman...

Squeezing that line like an orange
, you could eke out an article on grandparents who care for their grandchildren (I see so many at the park on Wednesdays). But this is a French word journal, not a bilingual abstract in Droit et Société. Besides, it would require research and, well, it's time to think about dinner.

One thing's sure, in literature...the need for a jumping off point! The aforementioned snippet, or bribe, could serve in an argumentative piece about how the French are more sloppy than you think they are (conversely we get etiquette from them... From the Online Etymology Dictionary:

etiquette (n.) 1750, from French étiquette "prescribed behavior," from Old French estiquette "label, ticket"

Oh well, we don't want to label anybody (least of which a let-rules-slide septuagénaire!). All we want to do today is marvel, for a moment, at so many possibilities in writing and in life and, especially, to take note of one grandmother's gusto as she lovingly, creatively goes with the flow....

 
FRENCH VOCABULARY
l'enfant = child
le gros mot = swear word
la maman = mom, mommy
la grand-mère = grandmother
la/la gosse =kid
merde = sh....
putain = f...
bribe = snippet
l'heure de goûter = snack time
septuagénaire = person in their seventies, septuagenarian
Locals say la Ciotat is where petanque or boules began
You're likely to hear some colorful jurons at a pétanque tournament...and they're not saying saperlipopette!

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 is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥Send the amount of your choice

"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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Compunction and cacahuètes + a handful of vocabulary...

Lychees peanuts in shell and salad
See those cacahuètes above the mushrooms and beside the lychees? More in the following story and lunch with Max and friends.

Today's Word: la cacahuète

    :  peanut

Peanuts also go by the name arachide, though Jean-Marc tells me cacahuètes (also spelled cacahouètes, which means cacao de terre) are the more popular term.

Simple French Food Richard Olney France cooking Mark Bittman
This cookbook, on my wishlist, is available in hardcover or on ebook or Kindle

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE, by Kristi Espinasse

The upside of three generations living under one toit is that when one family member is sore with you another is completely ignorant of your sins and is still your friend....

As I mope around the house this morning, doing chores to cleanse my soul, I've become aware of this lump in my throat. One thing that works it out (anxiety or unexpressed tears) is sitting down to write even if I'm not gonna tell you who I've unintentionally hurt! What matters is I'm compuncting, which is neither a word in French nor English, but it means you are feeling angoisse from guilt and mistakes you've made. 

If mistakes aren't humbling enough, I was moved when my son and his friends wanted me to join them in the garden for lunch (I believe they invited Jules, too, but she's disappeared into her room...). Max went as far as to find me in my room, where I was shelling a factory's worth of peanuts and grinding them between my teeth (there is no greater anxiety relief than this peanut processing activity).

Come on, Mom! Everyone is asking for you! Max said. Hesitant (yet honored a group of young people wanted me at their table), I picked up my jar of nuts and extended it....before yanking it back.

Cacahuètes! Max shouted. Give them to me! The laughter and the tackling (Max pried them away, like a football) put a halt on my compuncting.

Smokey jumping beside pepper tree poivrier
Le faux-poivrier or false peppercorn tree...and our Smokey

I wish I had taken a picture of the garden setting, notre basse-cour as Jean-Marc calls it (for the chickens running around)--a bucolic setting for this le déjeuner beneath the Mediterranean blue sky, full sun and warmth (en janvier!), the weeping pepper tree--and Max, Antoine, Zoé, Yann, and Mommy, as they now (jokingly) call me, having learned the story of an adolescent Max, who'd missed the cultural clue about teens calling their mom Mom in the States. How could he have known? Raised in France by an American maman who didn't let him in on the term. Ah well, he eventually figured it out. 
 
And I will eventually figure it out too: what is said and what is not said. If only it were as simple as "Mommy"....

I have no idea how this story is coming across. I hope at the least you have learned a few more French words and, in so doing, we can all better express ourselves, in French, in English, whichever, whenever, pour le mieux.

FRENCH VOCABULARY
le toit = roof
l'angoisse = anxiety
la cacahuète= peanut
la basse-cour = farmyard
le déjeuner = lunch
en janvier = in January
la maman = mom
pour le mieux = for the best (possible outcome)

Recently Featured books:
French Country Diary
Demystifying the French
Lulu's Provencal Table

Park in la ciotat
A park here in La Ciotat--and a beautiful place to walk, think, and pray for serenity.

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 is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥Send the amount of your choice

"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

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP: Has a friend forwarded you this post? Receive your own free subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here