They hopped the fence: how our ideas (and our chickens) take off

doves and pigeons by Kristi Espinasse
"Writing is for the birds!" Photo taken here in La Ciotat this morning, when things were peaceful....

Today's Word: les guillemets

  : quotation mark

I set out to tell you a story about fugitive hens (no worries, they're back) when every possible distraction known to man or bird befell me. Welcome to a typical beginning to each and every writing session.

If I am currently typing this on my mobile phone, squinting at a tiny screen while hunched over my kitchen counter, it is because I refuse to let them win!

Them are the hurdles I've suffered in the 37 minutes since firing up that godforsaken laptop in order to compose a colorful récit.

Them are different or the same every time. This morning thems a mind-numbingly slow computer (this binary slug no longer allows me to type guillemets, so I have to use italics instead--in fact none of the numbers or characters on my laptop's numeric keypad work. Type the small c-with its cedilla-and I get an empty space. A blank!).

Earlier, d'un seul coup, my lazy HP switched keyboards on me, from AZERTY to QWERTY, meaning every time I type m I get a point-virgule (or something--who can possibly recall details at a time like this?).

Ça rame! Ça rame! Waiting 37 minutes for my (relatively new) PC to warm up, an opening line to this story is thrumming on my mind (or was). But as fresh new computer glitches arise and test me, I've lost my story's delivery along with bits of my memory.

Extremely frustrated I want to slam something (not my laptop! How 'bout a pastis?) Instead, I stomp on over to the kitchen counter, where my smartphone is charging...and where I am now reduced to typing with two thumbs, which feels dumber than bad grammar. Au fait...

Them may have stolen a lot this morning–-nerves and nearly my sanity--but thems still haven't taken away my tenacity! I leave you with an unexpected vocabulary section (how different the words would be had all gone smoothly). 

Amicalement,

Kristi

 

FRENCH VOCABULARY

un récit = story

les guillemets = quotation marks

un point-virgule = semi-colon

Ça rame = it's chugging along (literally, it's paddling)

d'un seul coup = all at once

un pastis = anis-flavored alcohol

au fait = by the way

amicalement = cheers, fondly, yours...


REVERSE DICTIONARY

keyboard = le clavier

computer = un ordinateur

QWERTY = a standard English-language typewriter or computer keyboard on which the first six letters of the second row are q, w, e, r, t, and y --https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/QWERTYAZERTYkeyMerriam-Webster

AZERTY - The AZERTY keyboard first appeared within the last decades of the 19th century in France as an alternative layout to the American QWERTY version of typewriters -Technopedia.com

MVIMG_20181115_075520

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 to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support 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


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

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


Mise-en-Scène: A funny thing happened before the camera got rolling!

View from chateau de pibarnon
Today, photos and a bêtise or gaffe or no-no during Saturday's filming at Château de Pibarnon. (I hope this compte-rendu isn't a further no-no--as I don't want to end up on the cutting room floor!).

Today's Word: La mise-en-scène

    : staging

 

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

When you gotta go, you gotta go! by Kristi Espinasse

Recently, Jean-Marc and I had the chance to help out with a French documentary about how France is seen abroad by the ones who love that country. A journalist was interested in hearing my story, after learning about our Franco-American life on a vineyard. There was one little pépin--we no longer live on a vineyard; thankfully this part was worked out when a kindly châtelain agreed to let us film chez lui.

We arrived at Château de Pibarnon after sunrise Saturday morning, to meet up with Eric de Saint Victor and the film crew. As Eric had a flight leaving in the next few hours, we quickly got to work...

Eric chateau de pibarnon
Eric de Saint Victor and the film crew


There is so much about filmmaking that I did not know. Naively, I figured we would stay an hour or so at the vineyard, then return home to La Ciotat to shoot the segment about blogging. (I had a bunch of cookies, madeleines, and other pick-me-ups waiting at home, but we would not get to those any time soon...)

Jean-marc talks wine
Jean-Marc, sharing about the difficult decision to sell our vineyard

After 5 hours at the vineyard, we peeled out of the vines in time for lunch--and not before I had made a few cringe-worthy gaffes. Gaffe number one occurred after we were fitted with microphones and instructed to drive up to the caveau de vente, or sales room. As we reshot that scene several times, I noticed a few things about the film crew, and shared my flippant thoughts with Jean-Marc as we waited in our car for the next Action! call.

They are such a nice team, I began, buckling my seatbelt and chatting with Jean-Marc who was at the wheel. Everyone is so friendly! But I don't think the journalist and the cameraman are getting along... I grinned. 

That's when Jean-Marc looked over at me, matched my grin, and pointed to my microphone. The one I'd forgotten all about....

No time to die of embarrassment, the cameraman and the journalist (wearing headphones...) signaled in unison now for us to drive, and the filming began again, only this time my face was flushed red. Creeping out of the car after the scene was over, I rejoined the film crew. The soundman (wearing headphones...) discreetly pointed out to me: You have a mute button on that little box (in your pocket) if you need it....

I smiled profusely at him and the other two professionals (my eyes pleading forgiveness). Thankfully punishment came quickly enough and I could pay for my chatty sin with the following humiliation, which garnered from the others, I hope, a good inward laugh...at my expense this time.

This happened after I finally got to the restroom after holding it all morning. Once inside the WC, I tore off half my outfit only to discover the dreaded microphone in full volume recording...

A big dilemma ensued: to go or not to go? But oh! oh! I had to go!

Not wanting so much as one tinkle to be recorded (and imagining the upcoming remix or montage), I searched desperately for the mute button--and could not find it! I tried ripping the cord out of the unit, but became confused by technology (so bad I had to faire pipi). In a last-ditch effort, I gagged the little microphone from hell, the little tattletale, with the help of my wool blazer.

And I promise to pull the wool over my own lips, next time I get the urge to gossip!! 

 

--
Many thanks to the very kind (and good-humored!) film crew. I will share more about the production and team members when the documentary comes out. Jean-Marc and I are one of many to participate in it...at least I hope to appear in it...after today's little story!

FRENCH VOCABULARY

une bêtise = a stupid thing
une gaffe = a blunder
compte-rendu = an account of something, a report
la mise-en-scène = staging
pépin = snag
chatelain = chateau owner
le caveau de vente = wine salesroom
le WC = toilet, lavatory
le montage = editing session

REVERSE DICTIONARY
to tinkle = faire pipi

Kristi in cdp vines
Tinkle tinkle little star. After posting this picture on social media, I did get told not to let this experience go to my head. Rest assured that before anything has the chance to go to my head, life will always intervene (as in today's story of the latrine!)

But if I ever get out of line--just call me Tinkle Tinkle Little Star.

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 to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support 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


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

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


Caviar d'Aubergine: An easy, delicious family recipe for you

Eggplant aubergine raindrops gouttes pluie potager garden france
Merci beaucoup for the sweet messages, encouragements, and support you left following the anniversary post. I am fired up for another 16 years of writing and will read your bonne continuations whenever I need a motivational pick-up!

Fun fact: this post will take you 2 minutes and 38 seconds to read to the end. If you were to read it out loud, that would take 4 minutes and one second (stats from wordcounter.net, which I use to check my article drafts).

Today's word: la chair


    : flesh, meat, body

avoir la chair de poule = to have goosebumps


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

With so much wind under my wings (thank you again for your notes regarding the 17th year of this journal!), I thought I would simply share (funny, I typed *chair* first time around--the word of the day was on my mind and that is how the French pronounce it!), yes I thought I'd chair or flesh-out the story of a simple meal.

This impromptu dinner happened last night, after Mom and I sat down to déguster a few of the vegetables I'd prepared during the day: some patates douces that needed attention, as well as aubergines that were getting so big and ripe in the potager they would soon go to seed! Fearing sabotage--that weird emotional trance that has us ignoring our opportunities--I grabbed my shears and went to collect the two giant eggplants. A very dear golden retriever, our Smokey, followed along to help....

Smokey golden retriever and eggplant aubergine raindrops france

Cutting open the giant berries (unbelievably eggplant are classified this way!), I was amazed to see how beautiful they were: la chair was firm and bright--only some small seeds that were easily removed with a handy jagged-edged grapefruit spoon. I had in mind to make my mother-in-law's caviar d'aubergine dish, only, skimming her handwritten cahier, I could not find la recette (I did bump into Michèle-France's delicious bananes flambées, and her instructions very much as in the au pif recipe I gave you last week!).

So I did a google search, combining the gist of a few French websites to get exact ingredients for the most basic recipe of eggplant caviar. Here's my simple version, and it was simply delicious over toast--and as an accompaniment to les cuisses de canard (canned, talk about an easy dinner!), and the roasted sweet potatoes (simply halve the patates and sprinkle on olive oil, herbes de provence and salt and pepper on top, then into the four at 350F for 30 minutes).

CAVIAR D'AUBERGINES
 Eggplant Caviar

- 2 large eggplants, halved and scored
-2 garlic cloves
- sprigs of rosemary (optional)
- swirls of olive oil, sprinkles of salt, pepper, herbs
- half a lemon
- olive oil to taste (a few tablespoons to a half cup!)

After topping the eggplant halves with olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbs, tuck a few sprigs of rosemary and some quartered garlic cloves into the cuts of the scored eggplant. Now turn the eggplant halves face down on a cooking sheet and bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until the eggplant is soft enough to crush inside.

Once cooked, remove only the rosemary, then scoop out the flesh and add to a mixing bowl. I do not have a food processor, but a simple fork was enough to crush and blend the eggplant flesh. Add the juice from half a lemon and olive oil (and more salt and pepper) to taste.

Oh, and what taste! My Mom absolutely loved it, and she is not a fan of eggplant! She actually had seconds and thirds--so you must tenter la recette--give this recipe a shot--and share it with your friends and loved ones. It is wonderful comfort food, too.

It's lunchtime here in France, and so I'm off to reheat and repeat last night's meal. I will try to take a picture and add it to this post. So please check back, and thanks, as always, for reading. I'm so glad you are here. 

Amicalement,

Kristi

P.S. Vocab section coming soon. I'm reheating lunch now for Mom and me..... Update: here's the photo. That's the caviar d'aubergine, on a piece of toast smothered in pan juices (fat) from the duck!:
Eggplant caviar sweet potatoes duck
FRENCH VOCABULARY
la chair = flesh
déguster = to taste, savor, eat
la patate douce = sweet potato
une aubergine = eggplant
le cahier = notebook
la recette = recipe
au pif = by guesswork (or by eye-balling it)
tenter = to attempt something

Kristi and jules christmas lights
Photo and caption from my Instagram: I know it is early, and I don't want to stress anybody out...but it was Mom's idea to get a Christmas tree today. Then again, Mom keeps a Christmas tree all year round--dazzling with lights, because, she says, Light is everything! Amen!

Aubergines poivrons pommes slate ardoise
I fell in love with mousse before caviar. In the first case "mousse" was a charming street in Marseilles... and "caviar" was what was waiting for me at the end of that winding road, just a French football field from the sea. (Read the rest of this tender story, from the archives here).

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 to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support 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


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

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