The rubble rousers were at it again. Another photo of our home, under re-construction, and our dog, Braise (just back from a dip in the creek).

casser (kah-say) verb
  to break, crack, snap

Il faut casser le noyau pour avoir l'amande.
To have the kernel, you must crack the shell.


The theme of our first week, here at a chantier* that doubles as home, seems to be "casser". In French the verb "casser" means to crack or break. It also means to snap.

I have told you about the walls and windows which were broken, intentionally or not. Add to the dégât* those items that got broken in the move (just a few shelves, a glass or two, and the dial of the tumble-dryer, which isn't an immediate concern as we use the clothesline in summertime.).

Next, there is the breakage that happens while adapting to one's new two-story environment. While hanging out wet towels along a second floor balcony, I heard a crashing sound. Looking down, I saw that my foot had knocked over a small plastic telescope which had been placed just beyond the iron guard
rail. "It's nothing," Jean-Marc, the novice stargazer, spoke up from the patio below, making me wonder if the plastic lunette* was another one of those cadeaux gratuits* that he is sometimes offered from the online office supply store (like the baladeur mp3,* the pierrade,* or the barbe à papa machine*).

Too bad they don't offer tractor doors as a gift with purchase, for it was the portière* that broke next (torn clear off its hinges while Jean-Marc was treating his vines. (To verify that the baby plants were not being crushed he had left the tractor door ajar. The door caught on an iron piquet* before
shattering both the glass and the good intentions of the driver.)

Moving on now from broken things to broken people...if it looks as if Jean-Marc has cracked every bone in his lower body, that is because he is riddled with tendonitis. Last night I fished out his béquilles* which had been packed in a golf caddy during the move. And while there may be a golf course or two in the environs, my husband won't be playing anytime soon--not because of his injuries, but because farmers don't seem to get a day off.

As for me, perhaps all that silent screaming frustration which I am trying to keep intact and internal, finally manifested itself in the form of laryngitis. My voice broke on Friday. Better a voice, than a neck, I reason, thinking about all those plastic tubes each of us continues to trip over: tubes either set out
by the workers or tubes of our own that have not been properly stored.
"WHO keeps leaving the hose out?" I say, having tripped over it for the third time on my way from our bedroom to the kitchen (a voyage in itself, as I've mentioned, for we must leave the building and re-enter it from another location).
"Economise ta voix!"* my daughter replies, each time I attempt to say something and only a crackle comes out.

Meantime, Jean-Marc nearly broke a few vocal cords while sharing his own exasperation in one thundering sweep. His lungs had filled to bursting with the toxic gas of injustice--much like the sky above, which broke last night having had its fill of water.

"Not rain!" Jean-Marc pleads. "We need wind. WIND! The vines need a good Mistral to dry them! Give us rain in August," he shouts, as if he were able to change Mother Nature's somber mood. (Mother Nature, who called back her bees last month when they broke free from the hive Jean-Marc had built, and Mother Nature who was filing her nails when all those vine branches broke.)

Because the verb casser also means "to crack," this is a good place to mention the fissure along one of the 10,000 liter cement tanks in the wine cellar. While a crack won't break the tank, it will add to the pile of broken nerves, effectively putting an end to the faux calm that had held us together last week.

Depending on the angle from which I view this picture I can feel anywhere from desperate to hopeful. I will try to see this period as a "breaking in" point, hopefully not too long in duration, lest it leave a few broken spirits in its wake.

References: le chantier (m) = building site; le dégât (m) = damage; la lunette (f) = telescope; le cadeau (m) gratuit = gift with purchase; le baladeur mp3 = Walkman / personal stereo mp3; la pierrade (f) = a table-top machine which holds a flat stone on which to grill meat or vegetables; la barbe (f) à papa = cotton candy (literally "daddy's beard"); la portière (f) = door (of car, train...tractor), le piquet (m) = stake, picket; la béquille (f) = crutch; économise ta voix! = save your voice!

::Audio File::
French pronunciation: Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the word casser & today's
quote: Noyau. Il faut casser le noyau pour avoir l'amande. Download casser.mp3


Morello Cherries in Liqueur and Kirsch -- Unique recipe -- Griottines from France
Improve your French comprehenstion -- listen to French music: Essentielles by Maxime Le Forestier
Grand Prix poster "French 1929 Grand Prix Roadster Race"
Test your French comprehension with a parallel text book: "Collected Maxims andOther Reflections" by Francois La Rochefoucauld

VERB conjugation: je casse, tu casses, il/elle casse, nous cassons, vous cassez, ils/elles cassent
=> past participle = cassé

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