My daughter playing the role of Camille in this year's school play "Le défi des défis". Read a very different play in today's column, below.

Summer reading: Mediterranean Summer: A Season on France's Cote d'Azur and Italy's Costa Bella

déborder (day-bor-day) verb
  to overflow, brim over, run over; to burst; to boil over

French proverb:
C'est la goutte qui fait déborder le vase.
It is the [last] drop that makes the vase overflow.

If I step off the scene of this French life, and look back on our current transition, through a spectator's eyes, then I am able to find comic relief during a tumultuous time. This so-called play, wherein the Franco-American actors are busy preparing to trade their quiet user-friendly home in the Var for farm life--and the unknown--in the valley of the Rhone, will just need a name before we proceed:

"Cracking up: Trying to Laugh Under Stress."

I like the play on words in that title, where "cracking up" is synonymous with laughing, yet hints at the goings on behind the scenes: where Tumult is about to exit, stage left, after giving our actors--who are poised to move to the not-so-fictional town of Sainte Cécile-Les-Vignes (in Scene Two)--a good mental lashing.

Back in Scene One, the stage set included an empty beehive, an upended tractor and, in the leafy background, a 17th century French mas* (minus windows, doors, and nary a roof tile). The farm, to where our so-called actors will be moving and where the hero has lived for three months now, is where the action took place; that is to say: where the bees went bust, the tractor got stuck in a muddy rut, and the rock hard grêle* sought out more vines to fell (and failed, to the relief of our hero who you are about to meet).

By the end of act one Mr. Espinasse (the newbie wine farmer and almost beekeeper) fled to the family fold (back in  Les Arcs-sur-Argens) where that villain, Tumult, had beaten him to the front gate. Beyond the iron portail,* the pool, now clean and free of algae, was completely day-bor-day* and, by
consequence, the yard was flooded, the pool pump, dead, and the American housewife about to lose her silly rhyming head.

This brings us back to today's title: "Cracking up: Trying to Laugh Under Stress," which, it turns out is also the American heroine's cue to rush in, before the curtain comes down, with a hearty, hand-on-the-belly response to evil Tumult's latest assault:

(Heroine): Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

                                             *     *     *

The heroine, in one of those theatrical encores, would like to add that, due to technical difficulties (read: Tumult), this word column did not go out on Friday when she, the housewife-écrivaine,* prepared to launch another vase at our hero (newly arrived from the north) who had sent a letter to France
Telecom instructing them to end the heroine's internet connection (and very life support) due to the family's impending relocation. The phone company followed orders (two weeks too soon). The housewife-écrivaine would have given the phone company a piece of her mind, but the lines weren't working so well and, in between time, the sky fell... (Scene One, Act Two: when the buyers, to whom our hero and heroine sold their soon-to-be-former home, arrived unannounced to measure, meander, and begin to move in!)

References: le mas (m) = house or farm in Provence; la grêle (f) = hail; le portail (m) = gate; day-bor-day (pronunciation for débordé = flooded); écrivaine (écrivain) = writer

:: Audio File ::
Listen to Jean-Marc recite today's quote in French: Download deborder.wav
C'est la goutte qui fait déborder le vase.
Terms & Expressions:
  plein à déborder = full to overflowing (glass)
  déborder de santé = brimming with health
  déborder de joie = bubbling with joy
  déborder de vie = bursting with vitality

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Verb conjugation:
je déborde, tu débordes, il/elle déborde, nous débordons, vous débordez, ils/elles débordent => past participle: débordé

Complete Guide to Conjugating 12000 French Verbs

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