le pissenlit
une toquade

le plafond

                                                  Jackie at her cousin's house
le plafond (plah-fohn) noun, masculine
  1. ceiling; roof (of car, cave)

plafonner (verb) = to reach a ceiling or maximum
le plafond de crédit = credit limit
le prix plafond = maximum price

être bas de plafond = to not have much "up top" (in the head)
crever le plafond = to go beyond one's limits
avoir une araignée au plafond = to have a screw loose, to be a little nutty

Citation du Jour
Si tu sens que tu plafonnes, perce un trou dans le plafond.
If you feel that you have reached a limit, drill a hole into the ceiling.             
--Gilles Goddard

A Day in a French Life...

"Yes, Jackie."
"Comment les fourmis peuvent escalader le plafond?"
"What's that?" I say, putting down my book.
"How can ants crawl across the ceiling? Is it because they have sticky pattes*?"

We are reclined in bed, pillows propped behind our backs, reading. Jean-Marc and Max are watching le foot (soccer, that is) and we have a deal where Jackie can stay with me--if she is quiet and lets me read--until the game is over, at which point she will have to go to bed. My daughter has her own selection of classic stories on the table de nuit* including Le Petit Chaperon Rouge,* Blanche-Neige,* Le Petit Poucet* and La Belle au Bois Dormant.*

The cruel winter chill has finally left; in its place cool, floral scented, feels-like-peppermint-against-the-skin evening air.  We can now leave the window shutters open until past sundown and fill up on the delicious night breeze. The downside is that we have more critters inside the house: fourmis,* mouches,* moustiques,* and last year's visitor, old man libellule.*

I explain to Jackie that ants do indeed have special sticky feet so that they can crawl upside down, according to our perspective, bien sûr.* Then I ask her to please be quiet now so that I can read my book.

I have read three or four paragraphs when I realize that I am obsessing about insects. I have nothing against ants, or spiders or any bug for that matter--but my husband does. He'll use insect bombs, industrial sprays--whatever it takes to rid them from our house. I put the book down and watch the trail of fourmis scaling the wall.

For the moustiques, I've convinced Jean-Marc to let me squeeze a few drops of citronella oil onto the light bulbs but I haven't found a remedy for the ants, apart from not eating Madeleines and other cakes and cookies au lit.* That's just inviting trouble.

As I am not able to concentrate on my book, I decide to shoot the night breeze with my 7-year-old:
"Jackie," I begin.
"Maman--shhh! J'essaie de lire--I'm trying to read!"
"Oh. Sorry, sweetie."
"C'est rien."*

I stare up at le plafond,* wondering about the sticky-footed ants, and begin to hum. When I get bored with humming I add a few words: "The ants go marching deux par deux* hurrah! hurrah! The ants--"

"Maman--s'il te plaît!"*
"Oh, sorry. Vraiment."*

"...mmm mmm... mmm mmm... mmm mmm... mmm mmm hurrah! hurrah!"


References: maman (f) = mom; la patte (f) = foot; la table de nuit (f) = nightstand, bedside table; Le Petit Chaperon Rouge = Little Red Riding Hood; Blanche-Neige = Snow White; Le Petit Poucet = Tom Thumb; La Belle au Bois Dormant = Sleeping Beauty; la fourmi (f) = ant; la mouche (f) = fly; le moustique (m) = mosquito; la libellule (f) = dragonfly; bien sûr = of course; au lit = in bed; c'est rien = it's nothing (don't worry about it); le plafond (m) = ceiling; deux par deux = two by two; s'il te plaît = please; vraiment = really

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