How do you say "baptism" in French? A Holy moment in Lourdes, France


Snapshots of France: the Basque town of Bidarray.

lecteur (lek-tuur) noun, masculine
    : reader

The feminine of "lecteur" is "une lectrice"

Listen to today's word and the following quote: Download lecteur.wav. Download lecteur.mp3

En réalité, chaque lecteur est, quand il lit, le propre lecteur de soi-même.
In reality, each reader is, when he reads, the own reader of himself.

                                                             -Marcel Proust

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

This morning I received an email from a longtime reader. Only, on closer look, there was something unusual about the courriel: the sender's full name was repeated in the email's subject line. The last time that I received such a letter from a subscriber address, it was bad news.

Clicking open the email, I soon learned that the sender was not a reader of my newsletter, but the son of a reader. The email was a faire-part announcing that his mother, Ginny, had passed away.

Ginny.... like Cher, Madonna, Oprah, or Martha, it took only a prénom for me to recognize her each time her name popped into my inbox.

Caught off guard, I clicked shut the email and sat back to stare at my inbox, where the letter was sandwiched in between dozens of emails labeled "SPAM". Heartless spam! I went to delete the intruder messages, and to safeguard this fragile message.

Clicking back open the email, I noticed how the next line of the letter reflected the newly-peeled sentiments inside of me, including sorrow.

The writer was apologetic about the delivery format of his message:
"I'd prefer a more personal way to let you know, but for many of you, this is the only contact information I have...."

I wanted to thank Ginny's son for informing this stranger, who, under the circumstances, felt something like a voyeur. After all, how to explain the relationship that I had with his mother, who was, in effect, a "virtual" acquaintance--someone I had never seen or spoken to before?

My mind was normally as busy as a hummingbird's wings, and now a new and sorrowful stillness reigned inside: a stranger's grief... my own.

I began to wonder. Had I answered Ginny's last email? I went back over the 61 courriels received from Ginny in the four-and-a-half years since she began responding to my internet column.

She addressed me as her "Chère amie de la courrier électronique". Other times, I was "Chère Madame" or "Chère Kristin" or, simply, "Chère amie", to which she added, in her signature humble way "si l'on ose à le dire" ("if one might be so presumptuous as to say").

I noticed that self-effacing "P.S." that she usually added: "Réponse Pas Nécessaire" ("No Response Necessary", she always insisted, as if to say "you must, or should have other priorities than answering this silly note").

In the dozens of to-the-point emails that Ginny sent, she rarely spoke of herself and, when she did, she mostly poked fun at her persona: "Salut d'une vieille dame de Californie," she once wrote, and I can still remember the smile that it forged across this rigid-while-working face.

I learned that the "vielle dame" was a teacher, and "when... lucky ... taught French". Mostly, Ginny offered encouragement and support: as to my first, practically pasted-together book (which she bought) she wrote: "I hope you sell a jillion of them!"

Whether in French or in English, her signature lines varied, and light-heartedly so, bringing to life one unforgettable character in my inbox: "Ginny 'la bavardeuse'," or "Ginny in the foothills of the Sierra, off Highway 50". By associating a "place" with her name, I could better identify this French Word-A-Day
lectrice in an inbox full of many unfamiliar names. For me she was "Ginny dans le piédmont.... where we are three inches low in rainfall" and "Ginny in Placerville, just downhill from Lake Tahoe" and, finally, "Ginny en californie... qui rêve d'un voyage en Norge cet été."

Ginny, wherever you are, in the piedmont or, finally, up north (yes "up north" I trust...)--YOU ARE MISSED. And while I never knew the color of your hair, the tone of your skin, or the twinkle in your eye--you were indeed a mystery to me--I knew a charming precious bit about "la vieille dame de Californie".

P.S.: I wished my own signature line had as much zip, character, and warmth as yours... I'm sure that the teacher in you would be encouraging--so here goes:

"une moitié-vieille dame de Provence qui a beaucoup appréciée votre éloquence életronique"
("a half-old dame in Provence who very much appreciated your electronic eloquence.")

French Vocabulary

le courriel = email
le faire-part = announcement (of birth, marriage, death...)
le prénom = first name
la bavardeuse (le bavardeur) = the chatty one
la lectrice = reader

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Hi - how strange life small we are. I actually knew Ginny. My husband's parents have a cabin in Mammoth Lakes California and Ginny owned the cabin next to theirs, for 30 years. We last saw her 3 years ago when we were up at the family cabin, she invited my husband and I to lunch at her cabin. She was a lovely woman. She was a geogolist and an author/editor. She wrote many excellent books on Mammoth Lakes.

When I saw your post and started to read about Ginny I knew that it was the same person, because we knew she had been sick.

I wish you could have met her because we was amazing. She would cut the wood for her fire and haul it into her cabin all by herself. She had so many friends that would come and visit her over the summer since she spent most of her summers at the cabin. She was a very strong independent woman and she will be missed.

Jules Greer

My Angel Kristi - I am so sorry for your loss of Ginny. I know how deeply you are
affected by your une lectrice's - once again
as your Mom I must lecture you to put that
little notebook together of all the encouraging and inspirational letters you receive from your fans that care about you
enough to send you a note of encouagement.
Please keep that notebook close for those
times you need a special lift from the valleys that we all walk through. Ginny was
always there when you needed a lift up in this wonderful path of life. You should ask
her son to send you a photo.


This is a lovely tribute, Kristen. Thank you for sharing Ginny with all of us.

Jackie Sand

Ah Kristin, you often find a way of tapping into my "robinet" of tears which are gliding down my cheeks. Your sensitivity/sensibilité are moving me yet again. Your heart is so full.


I am sorry for your loss of a friend. I have found that friends on the internet can be just as close as those we have in real life (IRL). Some of my best friends and cheerleaders were found on the internet.


Dear Kristin,

This is so lovely. I can only hope that someone would remember me as fondly. Ginny was very lucky, in this regard.

You have an amazing heart!!!


Dear Kristin,
I was very touched by your message today. I too am a teacher and thoroughly enjoy your writings. Dear Ginny must have been a wonderful teacher and I'm sure everyone who knew her will miss her very much.

Rick Spring


Thanks for sharing the story about Ginny. I think you have come upon and addressed what is a nearly new phenomenon, one that will be increasing rapidly. Your reflections will assist me when the first time comes to deal with the death of an acquaintance or friend known to me only online.

Okmulgee, OK USA


I am touched by your sensitivity perfect act of kindness. It inspired me to be a better person, thank you.


Dear Kristin,
It's wonderful that you both made such an impact on each other with your writings. Thank you for your beautiful tribute and for sharing her with us.


You must have brought great pleasure to Ginny, as you do to all your readers. What a wonderful tribute - I hope her son gets to read it. Jeanne


What a lovely tribute to someone you never really "knew", and yet did "know". Turns out my birthday is the same day as this note. And living in Sacramento, CA I know the places you talk about. Many, many thanks for how you touch so many of us in your special way.


I've only recently discovered your site and found it refreshingly entertaining and informative.I really look forward to reading every newsletter. Ilive in Malta, a tiny island in the Mediterranean, where we have our own language. In maltese the word 'lecteur' is 'qarrej'.
I'm also sorry about your loss.


~sigh~ thank you, once again, for sharing your heart with your readers. It was an honor to read your sentiments of Ginny. An email relationship you had with her, but a relationship all the same.

kind regards,


Thank you Kristin for your tribute to Ginny in today's world of anonimity. I have enjoyed your writings and will be sharing them with my French students. I have enjoyed your stories so much!


I am so happy to live in a world with people like Ginny and YOU. We so appreciate the glimpses into your life - I'm sure that Ginny's family was elated by your tribute.
Kristin, you are are a very gifted and generous human.
Merci mille fois!
Mary in Cincinnati ;-)

Carol Reed

Even though it is now autumn I am a new subscriber and have just read what you wrote about Ginnie in August. She sounds like she was a really wonderful person. I'm a retired French teacher who has just finished your fantastic book and then found your web site. So I did it backwards! I'm recommending your book and site to everyone I know, other teachers and the group of adults I'm working with now. Meilleurs souhaits! Une autre vieille dame de NY! Carol


Dear Kristin,

It must be that Of course Ginny "knew" you because you share so much of yourself with us, and in the process help us all grow and become even more who God wants us to be.

You are fearless in recognizing your faults and you have helped this old lady, me, become much more so, also.

God bless, C-Marie 31 mars 2017!

P.S. A neighbor's chicken flew the coop right into our yard this morning and she has been ever so much fun to watch. God does know how to lift our spirits!

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, C-Marie. What a treasure to find your comment in this post about Ginny. I loved your words about the chicken. Enjoy your weekend and all the joyful moments God sprinkles throughout your day. I too would be delighted to have a chicken drop into my yard! 

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)