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Entries from November 2009


Moroccan Woman (c) Kristin Espinasse
The Picture of Grace. Moroccan women are beautiful!, my husband tells me. In 15 years of marriage, this is the first time he has said the unsayable, done the undo-able (admired another woman from afar... whilst I was "a-near"). But because he spoke the truth, I could not clobber him for it.

French Word-A-Day @ Twitter!

Here in France, my doctor says, we have a surplus of the H1N1 vaccine. In America, I tell her, even our president is waiting in line for it.

objectif (owb-jek-teef) noun, masculine

    1. lens (of camera)  2. objective, target


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Audio File & Example Sentence:
Download Wav or Download Objectif

Ils étaient à l'aise face à l'objectif.
They were at ease in front of the (camera's) lens.

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

I don't go anywhere anymore without my camera. It hangs on my person like an oxygen mask. Just like missing a breath, I am afraid I will miss life if I am not able to capture it in digits and indulge in its dramatic detail bit by bit.

Pixel by pixel, I love to indulge in architecture and nature, but I am most passionate about the lines and the landscape of humans, strangers...

Cela dit,* I rarely photograph l'homme* because in the time it would take to ask permission -- the stranger's spirit escapes when natural expression gives way to "do I look okay?"

I called Mama Jules in Mexico to tell her about my photo periple* through Morocco:
I said, "A man shouted at me, 'No! No! No!' " 

Mom explained, from experience, that Moroccans do not like to have their picture taken:

"...for as I learned while living in France back in 1997 - Moroccans do not like to be photographed! I was lounging on my favorite bar stool one night in my hangout in the Moroccan part of your village of St. Maximin... I was 51-years-old and liked to celebrate each day with "Pastis 51". I always walked around the village with my camera hanging around my neck, but one night I made the mistake of lifting the camera up in this bar (the interior was all black and white, hundreds of great photos on the walls) very chic, the owner was from Paris and he and his wife were absolutely beautiful and very sophisticated. When the flash from my camera exploded in this little bar -- everyone dropped for cover under the tables and to the floor! That's when I began to learn the difference between my life and theirs...."

Next, Mom told me a story about the Native Americans from my native Arizona: has been said that American Indians feel that the lens steals their âme*....

I had wondered about that gut-feeling I got back in Morocco; indeed, each time I lifted my camera, it felt as though I were lifting a weapon: not a stone or a bow and arrow: but a "soul-snatcher" capable of wounding... like a rock to a sparrow.

Post Note: I should point out that the man who shouted after me ("No! No! No!") eventually welcomed me to take a photo of his droguerie* (this, after I explained to him that I had not been pointing my objectif* at the children playing in the street, but at the beautiful bougainvillea just above. I assured him of this by sharing with him my camera's photos.

Comments are the best part of French Word-A-Day! Mom and I read each and every comment... and Dad checks in to see where you all are writing in from (so please list your city next to your name :-)

French Vocabulary

cela dit = that said; l'homme (m) = man; le périple (m) = journey, voyage; une âme (f) = soul; la droguerie (f) = hardware store; un objectif (m) = camera lens


Tagine Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron 2 Quart Moroccan Tagine:
Though I brought back a traditional terracotta tagine (one requiring coals...), I already have my eyes fixed on this modern version (which works with any stove top!). Santa Claus, are you listening? 

Cooking at the Kasbah: Recipes from My Moroccan Kitchen:
Moroccan food features the delicious flavors and health benefits of other Mediterranean cuisines...

Un, Deux, Trois: First French Rhymes:
...a collection of 25 traditional nursery rhymes for children

French Exambusters Study Cards:
Over 1500 questions and answers written by certified teachers and professional translators with a focus on exam preparation.

How to say "tailspin" in French?....

"La Chasse Queue" (The Tail Chase) : Smokey's new favorite thing to do (with all that energy he's been building up since the attack) is to chase his own tail (missing, I'm afraid, from this photo -- it was hard to keep my camera's lens focused while laughing at my puppy's aerial antics... all that jumping and spinning!). To the right of his broken face, you'll see his healing cheek. He reminds me of Al Pacino in Scarface. Maybe it's the cheekbone (one is much higher than the other now. Perhaps it is just the swelling?).

Still in the mood to read? Check out Eliane's delightful message over at the Sullivan's blog (her words are in French and English -- an excellent way for us to grow our French!).

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
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Safi (c) Kristin Espinasse
Oh, you don't want to miss these photos from Africa! Sign up to Cinéma Vérité today and see some unforgettable images from our trip (I'll post them this Saturday)!


Spread  Your  Word!
Broadcast your business, BLOG, product, rental, language program or affectionate note (creative birthday / anniversary / retirement wishes welcome!) via an ad at French Word-A-Day. Contact Kristin today.

French Word of the Day:

le haut-le-coeur (oh-leuh-ker) noun, masculine

   : (avoir un haut-le-coeur) = to retch, to heave

"Haut-le-coeur" means, literally, "high heart"... and isn't that a prettier image than the words' "repulsive" meaning... one relating to a feeling of nausea that comes from foul food preparation, motion-sickness, pregnancy, and more....

Audio File & Example Sentence:

...had a bit of difficulty pronouncing at least one of these words... listen, at your own risk: Download Wav or Download MP3

À force de tergiverser et d'avoir des haut-le-cœur à chaque soubresaut, nous regardons les trains passés en Afrique. After a lot of shilly-shallying and after the nausea following each jolt, we watched the trains pass in Africa. -from Le Figaro

A Day in a M O R O C C A N Life...
by Kristin Espinasse

By the last day of our Moroccan (mis)adventure, our family of seven were almost recovered from what the natives deemed "soft-stomach syndrome". But were our unaccustomed appetites really to blame? Could the finger fairly be pointed at our "fussy" French foies*?

Non! my husband argues, it was hotel hygiene! My sister-in-law, ever diplomatic, chalked it off to a bad case of gastro. As for me, I wonder if all those freshly-fished huîtres* and clams... might've caused our stomaches' sensational grand slam?

Then again, the signs in our hotel room bathroom read: "FORBIDDEN TO DRINK THE WATER." I wondered if that meant that we couldn't so much as wet our toothbrushes with it either? As a security precaution, I poured a bit of bottled water over my brosse à dents* (never mind that the last several brushings were with the woeful water).

While blue-faced in bed, I passed the time wondering about the origin of our collective stomach upset. After so much surmising, I eventually became bored with the guessing games -- and decided to delete all of the seafood  and coquillages*-related photos from my camera... which brought some relief. Next, to keep my mind off misery, I turned my attention to words which, as always, lifted my spirits. Coming up with a title to today's story amused me to no end:

Meal Misadventures
Dining Disasters
Supper Sufferings
Feast Foibles
Appetite Angst
Palate Punishment
Snack Scoldings

Picnic Penalties
Kibble Kauchemars*...

As much fun as I had playing with words, my stomach remained a very poor sport... chalk that off to digestive defeat.

Mom and I agree: comments are the best part of French Word-A-Day! Thank you for sharing yours here, in the comments box! Speaking of parents, delight my Dad by pointing out from which city you are writing. And please tell us what the November skies, just outside your window, are looking like today... (is it sunny T-shirt weather, as it is here today in the Vaucluse?)

le foie (m) = liver; une huître (f) = oyster; brosse (f) à dents = toothbrush; le coquillage (m) = shellfish; le cauchemar (m) = nightmare

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"Les Retrouvailles" (homecoming). Click to enlarge this jubilant image! Our dogs returned, supercharged and satisfied, from "Camp Sully" in Vaison-La-Romaine. Witness here Smokey and Chef Grape... and their joyful reunion! Mille mercis to Mark and Ellen for taking such good care of Smokey and Braise!

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ Give $10    
♥ Give $25    
♥ Give the amount of your choice

To purchase our book-in-progress, click here.


Italian wine bottles (c) Jean-Marc Espinasse
Our totally off-topic photo-du-jour: "Italian Wine Cooler". Meantime, we'll be back from vacation in a day or two and, if I were you, I'd sign up illico presto for my private photo blog!

songe (sohnzh) noun, masculine

   : dream

L'espérance est le songe d'un homme éveillé. 
Hope is the dream of a waking man. --Aristotle

:: Audio File ::
Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce these French words:
Songe. L'espérance est le songe d'un homme éveillé.
Download songe.mp3
Download songe.wav

In books: The Bilingual Edge: Why, When, and How to Teach Your Child a Second Language
A Day in a French Life...
by Kristin Espinasse

         (... a restless writer dreams...)

When William Faulkner, famous American novelist, poet and Nobel Laureate, came to stay with us here at the farm, I offered him a fold-out cot. I could have offered him our bed but, you know, he got the other instead.

As for my lack of fuss (not a guest towel, pillow, or spare toothbrush), who knew I was housing a literature buff? That's when it finally dawned on me that there, in a cap and long white nightie, was a 20th century celebrity!

Oh Glory be, there were we...
Faulkner, yours truly ...and several bottles of eau-de-vie.*
(Thank God neither of us was tipsy!)

"Your imagination is good," said he, of the eau-de-vie and implied footsie. But we haven't got all night so, if you like, pull up a chair and I'll teach you to write!

That's when so many tablets, not of stone but of wood chips,
appeared out of nowhere to receive the writer's savoir-faire.*
Then, like Moses channeling words from above,
Faulkner wrote down truths on how to write without fear--
and always with love!

And while his words were addressed to a restless writer, they are dear to everyman. Here is the wisdom that the prize-winning author wrote down, on wood chips, no less, for there wasn't any holy stone lying around:

He said that one "...must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid; and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop [âme*] for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart..." He went on to say that it is a human "...privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past."

Fast, fast, fast... I copied down the writer's words but the memory of my dream wouldn't last. By the time I awoke, the wisdom had up.. and gone like a puff of smoke!

                               *     *     *
Comments, corrections, and stories of your own are most welcome: click here to access the comments box

(The two excerpts, in the penultimate paragraph above, were taken from William Faulkner's 1950 speech [after he received the Nobel Prize for literature].) You'll find them and more inspiration
in this book.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~French Vocabulary~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
l'eau-de-vie (f) = brandy; le savoir-faire (m) = know-how, expertise; l'âme (f) = soul

If you love writing and France you may enjoy these books: A Writers Paris: A Guided Journey For The Creative Soul & Literary Paris: A Guide

Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Spoken French
Learn French in a Hurry: Grasp the Basics of Français Tout De Suite
In French Music: Edith Piaf: 30th Anniversaire

Related Terms & Expressions:
  en songe = in a dream
  faire un songe = to have a dream
  un songe-creux = a visionary
  songer = to dream
  la songerie = reverie
  songeur, songeuse = pensive (adj); dreamer (noun)

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Pronounce It Perfectly in French: presents exercises in sound discrimination and accurate sound creation

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Chaos and a Flying Dog. That's our Braise, who loves to fly! And this is our chaotic kitchen/salon just days before our Moroccan escape. Who wouldn't want to fly the coop what with this mess? In this image you'll find photos, paintings, eggs, my bike, the vaccume, a pile of floor planks... even one of those icky "fly stickies" (see it there, to the upper right?). Amidst this confusion totale, my brother-in-law is mending the walls (imagine him to the lower right of this photo, in the next room...) and my daughter is (also in the next room) egging on our flying dog: Allez, Braise. Saute. Saute!

We'll be back in a day or so... and I imagine the chaos won't have disappeared by then either.

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ Give $10    
♥ Give $25    
♥ Give the amount of your choice

To purchase our book-in-progress, click here.