s'emparer & seizing the mystery of communication from 'beyond'

Johan_Barthold_Jongkind_010

I wonder if today's story is confusing or if it may sound strange? Then again, telepathy--whether with the living or the dead--is a mystery! (painting from 1880 of  our seaside town, La Ciotat, by Johan Barthold Jongkind)

Today's word: s'emparer

    : to grab, seize, take hold of

Example Sentence:
Au tournant du xxe siècle, les partisans du spiritisme s’émerveillent des progrès de la technologie et s’en emparent pour démontrer la validité de leurs thèses sur les phénomènes parapsychiques, comme la télépathie ou l’interaction avec les défunts. -Les spectres magnétiques de Thomas Alva Edison

Translation:
At the turn of the twentieth century, partisans of spiritualism marvel at the progress of technology and seize it to demonstrate the validity of their theses on parapsychic phenomena, such as telepathy or interaction with the deceased.

 A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

The Other Side

During a morning swim in the sea, I begin looking for my daughter who works in one of the paillotes de plage, or beach restaurants right here along the shore. Normally, I try not to be so conspicuous when I pass by Jackie's workplace (often on foot, via the boardwalk)...but after her father nearly ran his canoe ashore while spying on her, I figure a lap or two...in the near vicinity... is innocent enough.

 
Some 30 feet off shore, wearing my giant sunhat, I'm doggy paddling past the restaurant and its rows and rows of transats. Glancing over the sun chairs to the dining area, I can't see my daughter. I do see the bartender, the beach attendants, and the manager. I'm sure Jackie is working today... Why isn't she anywhere in sight? 
 
When next I catch sight of her and begin watching my daughter from afar, I am visited by a thought that's been on my mind lately, especially since close friends of ours are grieving the loss of their son. I wonder as they do: are the dearly departed watching us from beyond? And can they somehow communicate with us?
 
Being somewhat in another realm myself --I mean, far out in the seafloating--whilst my daughter is on material ground (the solid shore)--my swim provides another perspective on this afterlife mystery....
 
Looking to shore, I can see my dear one. She is currently unaware of my loving regard from "beyond" as she goes about her busy workday. 
 
Ah, she is wearing her new shorts and the restaurant's t-shirt. Is that a white bandana in her hair? I see she is sporting a ponytail today. And look at her go! She's her usual efficient self...when at work at least! 
 
I am now smiling from afar when suddenly my daughter pauses and her eyes scan the horizon.  Does she sense that I am out here? Oh, that gut feeling. Hers is particularly strong!
 
What with hundreds of tourists in the water, I easily hide behind a cluster of swimmers. It's best she does not know I am around. It will only interrupt her. And she needs to stay on track. Oh! There are some customers! Hurry, Jackie! I can see them even before my daughter does, and she suddenly turns, as if by an inkling... and greets them with that lovely smile. 
 
My heart swells so big that I begin to float away, along the shimmering barrier that separates us, when I see my dear girl turn once more. She is walking towards me now! 
 
Ouf! She is only on her way to set another table (still completely oblivious of my presence on the other side of the shore). Good. Keep going, Jackie. You are doing great! Today the restaurant, tomorrow the sky's the limit.
 
I'm swimming away now. I've got to let her be. Goodbye my girl. Though you can't see it--somebody, on The Other Side, is sending you good energy!
 
 
FRENCH VOCABULARY
s'emparer = to grab, seize 
la paillotte = a restaurant along the beach that can be taken down at the end of the season
le transat = sunbed, deckchair
ouf! = phew!
 
BOOK UPDATE: THE LOST GARDENS, by Jean-Marc & Kristi Espinasse
Jean-marc and kristi around 2010
Photo of Jean-Marc and me taken midway into the first vineyard project--right when things were calming down--and just before life stirred up once again...

Reader feedback from Chapter 5 of our memoir, The Lost Gardens:

I had always wondered how you actually got going, so my thanks to Jean-Marc for the insight. I think that for me there is sense of wonder at the way you both balance your writings.  The story would not be the same if it came from a single author. Keep it up. --Mike Young

Thank you, Mike, for your note! I hope it will encourage others who have not yet bought the book, to jump in and follow our ongoing narrative about our vineyards and our struggles. 

Vineyard in Sainte Cecile les vignes

Excerpt from The Lost Gardens

At some point, I started to be disconnected from the reality since, at that point, everything I was doing ended in a positive result. This led to a lot of excess confidence which caused some big tensions between me and my wife. But since I felt certain I was right, I thought that these disagreements were not worth debating and I was sticking to my own ideas, insisting on them even when they made my wife nervous or uncomfortable as she held on to those "unstable ladders" that I climbed, two rungs at a time.

Even with no experience, I really felt like I was going to rock the wine world with the upcoming harvest, making wines which would rapidly become the most famous ones in the area... and beyond.

That was indeed my euphoric state of mind a few days before our first harvest began...and this, just one year after I had suffered from my first depression.

Click here to order The Lost Gardens, and begin reading right away.

Jean-marc t-shirt

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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 is vivement appréciée! 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


Oreilles, ecouter & 25 years ago tomorrow....

Town hall marriage
July 4th 1994 - For our civil ceremony, 25 years ago, we were surrounded by close friends. More about marriage, in today's chronique.... 

Two words for you today: oreilles & écouter...
(look for the translation in the quote below)

Ouvrez grand les oreilles. La meilleure chose que vous puissiez faire pour renforcer votre relation c’est de parler moins et d’écouter plus.

Open your ears. The best thing you can do to strengthen your relationship is to talk less and listen more.


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

"25 Ears"

Setting out to write about our 25th marriage anniversary, I was wondering how to distill a quarter of a century into a neat and tidy blog entry...when I absentmindedly typed a title to this essay. A moment later, I noticed the coquille, or typo. Well isn't that the truth! I thought. 25 Ears is what every person needs in order for a relationship to succeed.

I don't know that success is the right word for this, either. This commitment. This partnership. This union. Success can be fleeting and nobody anticipates that when they walk down the aisle. Endurance is a better word. The verb is even more poignant: to endure.  I wonder what to endure is in French? Hang on--let me go look....

Here it is. The French word is supporter:

to
support, bear, endure, stand, carry, sustain....

Oh, yes! I like that for marriage! Especially the word sustain. But just what does that mean? I asked the same question, recently, in our memoir-in-progress, The Lost Gardens.  I leave you with an excerpt, below. As for distilling 25 years of marriage into a tidy post. No! It may take hundreds of pages....
 
I sometimes wonder what is the glue holding us together? Surely it is the wedding vows we took so seriously. Or could it be our insecurities? Our need for family? Or our fears? (Of what? Loneliness? Of making a mistake? Disappointing others?) Or is there...deep down in the depths of our souls...a Holy Grail answer? 

Perhaps as important as what keeps us together is what threatens to drive us apart. And though I have an idea or two, what if, after all, I am wrong? We are such complex things, we humans. And yet among the intertangled fibers of our hearts we all long for one and the same thing: unconditional love.

Is this why we behave so unlovably at times? Are we only testing Love's infinite waters? 

 
*   *   *
I spoke to my father on the telephone last night. He told me he will be happy to read our memoir when it is finished. I told him I completely understand his preference to read it straight through, and not in installments

For those of you who prefer the finished manuscript, remember just that, it will be 'finished': the finishing touches will have gone in and certain material may be taken out (like chapter 2. What was I thinking?!).

I was telling my Mom just the other day, 'Who knows, perhaps after the chapters are written we will remove my entries and let Jean-Marc's story stand alone.' One thing's sure: his chapters are flowing beautifully! Jean-Marc is gradually telling the story of what led up to his crash: the fiasco that led to this decision to sell our dream vineyard.

For those who want the unedited grits-and-all version, do not miss our book-in-progress which you can begin reading immediately. Every book sale that comes in sustains ( supports, bears, endures, stands, carries) our writing project. Mille mercis for the strength  you have given us!

Kristin and Jean-Marc Espinasse by Cynthia Gillespie-Smith
photo by Cynthia Gyllespie-Smith

 

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 is vivement appréciée! 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


Une vue de l'esprit - what a great term in French!

Beach in la ciotat canicule heatwave

A special thanks to those of you who left a comment following the previous post, about writing. if you only knew how much your words keep me going!

une vue de l'esprit

    : attitude of mind
    : pure illusion, a mental projection

 

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

You may have heard about the current heatwave in France. Here in La Ciotat we're melting! At the farmers market, the cashiers fanned themselves with cardboard and la canicule made as good a topic of conversation as any:

C'est une vue de l'esprit, the old man bagging cherries beside me remarked. He's got a point, it is sometimes a matter of perspective.* I should know this as I'm from the stifling hot Sonoran Desert (Phoenix) and experienced the record high 122F in 1990. 

And yet I can't sleep at night! As I type this it is 92F and I've just closed our wooden shutters (we do this after opening all the doors and windows at 6 a.m., to let the cool air flow into our home). But this morning, crossing the garden on my way to feed the chickens, la chaleur stopped me in my tracks. Paused there on the scorched yellow grass, I thought back to my beau-frère's warning last week: "It is going to get so hot that there won't even be relief during the night--when things normally cool down!"

NO COOL DOWN
Since the heatwave began, we've lost 3 fish--all found floating on the top of the warmed water in our fountain-pond (shaded by a giant tree...). As horrible as it was to discover the fish, it is a swift reminder to keep our eyes on those who are older than us, those younger than us, and to look out for our pets during the heatwave. I keep checking on my Mom, who assures me all is well (she lived in Mexico the last 22 years--sans la climatisation!).

But what was my surprise when my daughter, Jackie, checked on me. After holding her hand against my skin, she told me to get right into a cold shower. Tout de suite!)

Earlier, I moved our hens' water dish (it hangs from the olive tree, and receives the morning sun!) to an area with full shade. Still, the hens--and all of our wild doves who Mom has trained--are panting. Have you ever seen an overheated bird? They hold their beaks open and their tongues flutter like mini fans... (Note, the hens did not enjoy being sprayed with our garden hose but it seemed a good idea--even when it almost sent them over the fence and onto the street--so desperate were they do get away from the spritz!)

Unfortunately, our domestic birds can't head to the beach at 8 a.m. as Jean-Marc and I did this morning--joining dozens of locals who were beating the heat with the help of the cool sea.

OUR CAR IS MELTING?
OK, that's it--or almost all I wanted to say today. Once home from the beach we began the work day. Jean-Marc has an important appointment at 11 am, only, on his way to our car he noticed it was melting! What now?

(What now? How the term brings me back to our vineyard, before we sold it and moved to La Ciotat to rest and recuperate...)

What now? we thought, seeing a thin liquid pouring from our car's carrosserie. Perplexed, both of us stuck our heads under the car, only to come away as confused as before. That's when Jean-Marc cupped his right hand and placed it beneath the car to collect the liquid. After a sniff or two, he licked his wet palm.

It's wine! he confirmed.

Wine? (Next, my husband reached into the back seat, to find one of the bottles from a case of rosé he had just stowed had broken). It all brought me back, once again, to our vineyard--where wine all but poured from our taps! Wine everywhere! (and here, now, flowing out of our car!!).

I used to say that the universe was playing some sort of joke, moving our family to a vineyard after I made the decision to quit drinking. If you have not yet begun reading our book-in-progress, now is as good a time as any to jump right in--because things are heating up, just like the canicular air inside this room where I am signing off from this latest post. Time to run through the sprinklers--and take the chickens, the dog, and Mom with me!

Amicalement,

Kristi

* a matter of perspective. The first time around, I misunderstood the man at the farmers market. He may have been saying that the heat is an 'illusion'. But I can now say, it's no illusion! Keep cool and 'see you' all in the next edition. (Then again, if I 'see you all'...in this heat...that would amount to a mirage!

FRENCH VOCABULARY
une vue de l'esprit = an illusion
la canicule = heatwave
la chaleur = heat
le beau-frère = brother-in-law
la climatisation = air conditioning
la carrosserie = car body
amicalement = yours 

Kristi around the age of 30
I was around 33 years old in this photo, taken on New Year's Eve after a few drinks. Unfortunately for some, like me, a few drinks leads to a few more or one too many. Find out what led to my decision to quit, in Chapter 5 of our memoir-in-progress. Click here to purchase it, and begin reading right away.

I leave you with a message I woke up to this morning:

I have a special admiration for those in recovery and sobriety. Your difficult personal journey transformed you into a healthier Kristi and your commitment and work benefit not just your family but everyone, including your readers! I have been reading your blog, gosh, probably 6- 7 years, and I gleaned from the get-go a wisdom, frankness and “living in the now/one day at a time” sensibility from the start. --Julie Borders

Thank you, Julie! 

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 is vivement appréciée! 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