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Entries from December 2009

$7 off French Word-A-Day book -- today only!

Bonjour les Amis et les Amies,

In case you missed the previous post... there is a special offer on my latest French word and photo book:

Receive a $7 discount when you order through December 31st. This is the last day to take advantage of the savings so please order now!

Here are the promotional codes that you will need:

If ordering in US dollars: enter frenchblurb1 in the designated box on checkout
(If ordering in Euros: enter frenchblurb)

Note: that's frenchblurb1 (1-the numeral and not the letter 'l') make sure all letters in frenchblurb1 are lowercase

Click here to order or copy and paste the following link into your browser: 

https://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/1032545 

Many thanks for your orders and, in case I don't get the chance to wish it to you (we'll be in the air soon, heading back to France... Bonne Annee! May it be joy-filled and peaceful.

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

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remise

French Word-A-Day: Summer 2009 Stories

Bonjour from the Arizona desert where we are packing our valises, and unpacking our hearts with sentimental goodbyes. We don't fly back to France for another 24 hours but, have you ever noticed, the leaving sometimes begins before the cherished visit ends. Perhaps this is how we ease ourselves into the agony of absence...  

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The absence of my American family from my French life is the only thing I hate about the Hexagon. Writing helps fill in the generous gaps that remain once my mom, my dad, my sisters and my dear friends are removed from my immediate terrain: my not-so-new anymore homeland of France.

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So forward march, write on! I continue to search for the best publishing solution for my French Word-A-Day series, the books of which began in December of 2003. After publishing the first three volumes, I experienced a whirlwind courting with a major publisher. Regarding the high that followed, it is safe to say that I am landing now, back on level ground, on my own two self-reliant sabots. (This is just a poetic way to say that my latest book was rejected by my previous publisher. For this reason I am returning to self-publishing... for the time being).

 

Thankfully, I am discovering some benefits along the newly-paved way, namely, that going "backwards"--or back to self-publishing--is gumption-building!  And gumption, just like Conjunction Junction (remember that cheery childhood chant for learning grammar?) is something this autodidact author will forever feed on--this, after faith.

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So faith and gumption it is. Speaking of gumption, I am here today to tell you that I have finally succeeded in getting that remise--or discount--on my latest book and I would like to extend this gift to you as we celebrate the New Year!

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Receive a 5 euro discount through December 31st

To receive this discount, just enter the code frenchblurb (for a euro discount) and frenchblurb1 (for a dollar discount--that's frenchblurb1 (1, the number and not the letter "l") in the designated box on the checkout page. Click here to order.

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Take advantage of this discount to order an extra book for a friend, a teacher, a family member... or even a stranger!  Please don't hesitate, click here to order and don't forget the code frenchblurb (euros) or frenchblurb1 (dollars).

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Finally, merci infiniment for your cheers and support as I try out new solutions to the sharing of these French words and this French life. (Now if anyone can come up with a solution to distance... that disconcerting dilemme that will soon be upon us as my American family and I say our au revoirs.)

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*Please remember this offer is good through DEC 31st... so please buy your copy today! Thanks so much for your support.

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP: Has a friend forwarded you this post? Sign-up to receive your own free subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here


chouia

This is not a chouia but a cabanon in the French woods (c) Kristin Espinasse
Cabanon in Les Arcs-sur-Argens

France & Monaco Rentals France and Monaco Rentals. Exclusive Vacation Rental Properties throughout France.



.un chouia (or chouïa) (shooy-arrh) noun, masculine

    : "un petit peu," a smidgen

[Chouïa is an Arabic word; we hear it often here, in the South of France.]

Audio File: Listen to my mother-in-law pronounce today's French word.
Un chouia. Un petit chouia. Download Wav or Download MP3


"Bravo, bravo 'ma cocotte'!" My belle-mère cheered, after our recording session. I had showed her my blog and explained the various columns: the "word of the day," the story, the quote.... "Bravo, bravo, 'ma cocotte'," she approved. All those bravos... well, I suppose I'll forgive her for calling me "chicky".
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A Day in a French Life...
by Kristin Espinasse

(Note: The following story was written two years ago.)

"Just a smidgen," my mother-in-law says, pushing her plate forward with a little more enthusiasm than her French words would let on. "Un chouia," she insists as I dig into the pan, portioning off the cake in a range of slice sizes. Next, like a metal detector, I let the spatula hover over the cake until I sense my belle-mère's resistance melt like scrap gold. "Ça ira," that'll do, she says, indicating her choice—the largest slice: like mother-in-law, like daughter-in-law. I lift it out of the pan, keeping every crumb intact.

It is 2 p.m. on Christmas day and we are still stuffed from the réveillon. But there's always room for chocolate cake and, this time, my mother-in-law's has candied orange peel inside. (She's peeled the oranges before stringing the skins, hanging them to dry over her living-room radiator.)

I didn't know about the candied oranges—which just goes to show how my mother-in-law is always holding back an ingredient (chippie that she is) just to throw us off.

"So your chocolate cake calls for orange peel?" Aunt Marie-Claire ("Michou") inquires, as we huddle around the desserts. My belle-mère remains vague as Aunt Michou fishes for instructions and is, in the end, left to wonder about how to rig orange peels over her own Parisian radiator.

Meanwhile, I wonder about how I'm going to pry the Provençal "Pompe à L'Huile" Olive Oil Cake recipe out of Aunt Michou.... But before I can make any progress, she tells me it took her THREE years to coax the recipe out of Cousin Sabine.

Our recipe hunting reminds me of the demise of my belle-mère's oranges. If we aren't careful, we'll be strung just like those pathetic peels—only Cousin Sabine doesn't have a dainty radiator—but a walk-in Provençal fire pit, hooks and all!

***
To leave a comment, click here.

More about my belle-mère, French cousins and aunts in my book, Words in a French Life ...and you'll find the recipe for my mother-in-law's chocolate cake (sans oranges) in this book.

French Vocabulary

un chouia (m) = a smidgen; le réveillon (m) = Christmas Eve Dinner; une chippie (f) = little devil; la belle-mère (f) = mother-in-law

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***

A Day in a Dog's Life...
by Braise & Smokey

DSC_0043
(Braise and Smokey are perusing the family photo album...)

"Just look at how you and your sisters wore me out, Smokey!"
"Hey," Smokey says, "isn't that Sugar doing the splits?"
"Smokey, are you listening to me? I said 'look how exhausted I was."
"Cool, she could do the splits while eating lunch!.. or was she sleeping? Wow, she could do the splits while sleeping!"

***

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A high quality Woven throw, made in USA. Great decoration for home, office, excellent to hang on wall, fold on bed, etc.

French in Action : A Beginning Course in Language and Culture, the Capretz Method: Part One

501 French Verbs with CD presents the most important and most commonly used French verbs arranged alphabetically with English translations in chart form, one verb per page, and conjugated in all persons and tenses, both active and passive.

TRESOR by Lancome "possesses a blend of lilac and apricot, with lower notes with amber and musk."

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP: Has a friend forwarded you this post? Sign-up to receive your own free subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here


reveillon

Maison valbonne
Revving it up in the town of Valbonne.

Next meet-up: Phoenix, Arizona—December 26th. Download PHX flyer


réveillon (ray-veh-ohn) noun, masculine

  1. Christmas Eve Dinner, New Year's Eve Dinner, midnight supper
      (réveillon de Noël, reveillon du Nouvel An)
  2. Christmas / New Year's Eve party

Great French-themed books for children, by Catherine Stock:
"A Spree in Paree" and "A Porc in New York". The illustrations are delightful!

                            
Audio File & Example Sentence: Download Wav or MP3

Le Père Noël ne fait jamais de réveillon dans sa maison, car il rentre au mois de mai ; ce n'est plus la saison. Santa Claus never has Christmas Eve dinner at his house, for he returns in May--when it's no longer the season! --Francis Blanche

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

(Note: the following story was written two years ago.)

Preparations are under way for tonight's réveillon and, once again, there isn't much for me to do but twiddle thumbs—in between and among twiddling a bit of dust, twiddling together a bit of decor, and twiddling over to our marriage armoire to check on place settings. We'll need 12 this year.

Santa's helpers, disguised as everyday Frenchmen, are here to stir up the savories and sweets. Cousin Audrey is making la soupe de courge with ginger and pears. Uncle Jacques is bringing oysters. My mother-in-law (en route now from Marseilles, along with my oyster-bearer beau-frère) has in her overnight bag her chocolate cake and some homemade "carrot bonbons" (she is also toting smoked salmon and foie gras)...

Jean-Marc is marinating garrigue sanglier for roasting in our cheminée. Aunt Marie-Françoise is bringing her gâteau de marron and soup bowls for her daughter's potage... Aunt Michou (a.k.a. "Michounette"), in from Paris, will surely have in her bag une devinette.

We've friends here from Texas as well: Phyllis and Tim. Twelve jars of peanut butter arrived ahead of them (this, after the last 12 and the 12 before that—enough to twiddle the tastebuds of any expat).

As for me: I am in charge of finding matching napkins, plates, and glasses. Best untwiddle my fingers and toes—and get to that now, illico presto!

"Joyeux Noël à tous et à tous une bonne nuit!"

French Vocabulary

le réveillon (m) = Christmas Eve dinner; la soupe (f) de courge = pumpkin soup; le beau-frère (m) = brother-in-law; garrigue sanglier (le sanglier de la garrigue) = wild boar from the Mediterranean scrublands (that is, the field behind our farmhouse!); la cheminée (f) = fireplace: le gâteau (m) de marron = chestnut cake; le potage (m) = thick soup; la devinette (f) = guessing game (anyone's guess); illico presto = right away; Joyeux Noël à tous et à tous une bonne nuit! = Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Thanks for visiting our sponsors!

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Provence Dreamin? Maison des Pelerins, Sablet. A Vacation Rental Dream in the heart of the Cote du Rhone.


A Day in a Dog's Life...
by Braise & Smokey

DSC_0005

Smokey: When we were young'uns, my sisters and I loved to play Abandon Ship! That is, until Grandma K told us there were sharks in the "sea" below.  See how hesitant we looked, after that?

Braise (laughing): that was just her way of getting you pups to stay put, while she changed your poopy puppy pen, inside the house!

"Sharks!" (Braise collapses in chuckles whilst Smokey looks vexed).


Shopping:

  1.  Le Petit Larousse Illustre 2007: an exceptional French dictionary
  2.  Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Spoken French
  3. Got Nintendo? Playing My French Coach for 15 to 20 minutes a day is all you need to become fluent in French, no matter your age. The simple touch screen interface lets you spend less time learning the game and more time learning French. The game includes 8 touchpad mini-games to sharpen your skills at your own pace, and lets you track your progress with charts showing your performance learning the language.

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP: Has a friend forwarded you this post? Sign-up to receive your own free subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here


mangeoire

Chocolate_trough_2
If a chocolate trough existed, it might be behind these doors.

mangeoire (mahn-zhwar) noun, feminine

  1.  trough, manger (animals) ; feeding dish (birds)
  2.  crèche (Christ child's crib)

Next meet-up: Phoenix, Arizona—December 26th. Download PHX flyer


Audio File Hear today's French word and proverb: Download mp3 or Wav

           Cheval affamé nettoie sa mangeoire.
            A starving horse cleans its trough.


In music: 21 Christmas Songs in French and English.

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

Reading to my Francophone children in their native tongue is a humbling, sometimes humiliating experience. Not only for the "pause pronunciation"—child-issued breaks in which I must stop reading in order to repeat a French word that I have tripped up on—but also for the words that I still do not know: both French... and in English.

Thankfully, not all "readings" are cause for reprimand. De temps en temps, there are eye-opening moments when suddenly, more than a word making sense, the world seems to take on new meaning as well.

It was while reading a chapter called "The birth..." or "La naissance de Jésus" to my daughter that I felt a lump in my throat and a sting in my eyes. An English word with which I've had but a yearly encounter—usually during the holiday season—suddenly defined itself as its French counterpart moved up my vocal chords and exited in a French chorus of sound and meaning. The text preceding the word (indicated between asterisks, below) only served to set the dramatic stage:

Là, dans la saleté et entre les animaux, elle mit son bébé au monde. Puis elle l'enveloppa chaudement et, comme il n'y avait pas de berceau, elle le déposa dans *une mangeoire* pour qu'il puisse dormir...

("There, in the filth and between the animals, she brought her baby into the world. Then she wrapped him warmly and, as there was no cradle, she put him down in a *feeding trough* so that he could sleep.")

Replacing the word "manger" with "feeding trough", its equivalent, gives the account an even more heartrending effect; "manger" is poetic, while "feeding trough" effectively evokes the brutal bed that was the only resting place for the delicate newborn.

                                        *     *     *

As for those instances of humiliation—whether in fumbling through French text before a ten-year-old... or in the stories that I have lived and that will never be told—my mind now calls up a peaceful bergerie, wherein an unspoiled baby would come to suffer all humility; this, instead of me.

***

 

French Vocabulary

de temps en temps = from time to time; La Naissance de Jésus = The Birth of Jesus (from the book "Grande Bible Pour Les Enfants," Chantecler edition); la bergerie (f) = shelter (sheepfold)

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French Word-A-Day: Summer 2009 Stories The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: "This heartbreaking story by a uniquely gifted writer is about transforming pain into creativity, human despair into literary miracle." —Elie Wiesel

In Games: Play Paris Smarts and explore the city of baguettes, cafes, and fashion! Pick one of the 60 beautiful cards and find out: Which Paris neighborhood makes its own wine? Where can you pick up clothes from last year's runway shows? And how did the "City of Light" get its name?
SmartFrench: Learn French from Real French People
  ...and music is a great language tool! Check out Marc Lavoine

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP: Has a friend forwarded you this post? Sign-up to receive your own free subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here


une ficelle

une ficelle (fee-cel) noun, feminine

: string


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

Bonjour from Palm Springs or "Palm Strings" as my kids call it. I am sneaking into this post, juste pour un instant, just to say salut, or "hey" if you like.

Here in Palm "Strings"--or Palm Ficelle--we are visiting my dad, ma belle-mère Marsha, my little sister (who towers inches above me) and my nieces and nephews.

If the French have 365 varieties of cheese (one for every day of the year), then we Desert Rats must have as many kinds of cactus (cacti?). I love each and every one....

I think I want to move back to the desert. How would you like to read a twist on A Year in Provence....  Does "A Year in the Sonoran Desert" (where I am headed next) have the same ring?

Amicalement,

Kristin

P.S.: thanks so much for the delightful comments that you have left, and for keeping the conversation going dans en mon absence--here at the Comments Café. 
 

Shopping:
Kindle Wireless Reading Device (my dad and belle-mère are addicted to theirs!).  Check out Kindle here.

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP: Has a friend forwarded you this post? Sign-up to receive your own free subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here


regle

Regle
I don't know why I want "straight" to always be the rule when, in fact, I often admire what is off-center. Read on, in today's story column.

Next meet-up: Phoenix, Arizona—December 26th. Download PHX flyer

règle (regl) noun, feminine
    : rule, ruler; rule (of conduct, grammar); (règles = menstruation)


Audio File: listen to today's word and hear Jean-Marc read a passage (that is: (a list of rules) from today's story  Download WAV or MP3


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

Somewhere in Provence, on a little crooked farm, beyond a few crooked walls... and a crooked Christmas tree... four off-kiltered kin sit 'round a table.

"We need to STRAIGHTEN UP around here!" one of the crooked ones says.

She pounds her fist on a crooked surface. The table is nicked, scratched, and sullied from enough errant knives and fourchettes that the surface looks, on second glance, like a wall of faded hieroglyphics. The only thing not carved into the wood are the amorous initials of the man and woman who call this place home.

"Home!" the woman points out. "...is a cozy respite from a crooked "outside". In here, there is order—or should be!" she announces, pulling an errant sock out of her bathrobe's pocket. "And just whose is this? And where does it belong?"

Three other members at the tilted table look into their bowls, trying to conceal crooked smiles, but the speaker can see their reflections on the steamy surface of their soup.

Out comes The Book. The title, written in long hand, reads:

"The Little Book of Simple Rules"

With a crooked, self-satisfied smile of her own, the woman straightens up in her chair and reads the subtitle (which is, simply, a reflection of the words above it):

"Le Petit Livre des Règles Fastoches"

"Can I read?!" the kids at the table ask and their excitement has the speaker thinking up a new rule or two (see rule numbers "Six" and "Seven," below...).

The older child begins to read the rules which are written down simply, if a bit crookedly—like chicken scratch (or like the scratches beneath their soup bowls, on the surface of the table). They state, in no uncertain terms, that WE SHALL:

One:
Take off our shoes at the front door.

(Enlever nos chaussures à la porte d'entrée.)

Two:
Put on our slippers.

(Mettre nos pantoufles.)

Three:
Change the empty toilet paper roll.

(Changer le rouleau de papier toilette quand il est vide.)

Four:
Not lean back in our chair.

(Ne pas se balancer sur notre chaise.)

Five:
Not throw clothes on the floor.

(Ne pas jeter les habits par terre.)

Six:
Take turns.

(Chacun son tour.)

Seven:
Not interrupt (the speaker).

(Ne pas couper la parole.)

Eight:
Return borrowed objects.

(Rendre les objets empruntés.)

Nine:
Not drink more than three cups of coffee per day.

(Ne pas boire plus de trois cafés par jour.)


With this last rule, the reader interrupts himself.
"Mom... how many cups of coffee have you had today?"
"No one follows these rules!" the woman complains, and the caffeine puts that much more "edge" into her response. With that, she sniffs, narrows her eyes and pulls from her other bathrobe pocket a cardboard cylinder. "Nobody ever changes the roll of toilet paper!" she laments.

The woman gets up from the table, walks across a room of crooked tiles, and pitches the empty roll of papier toilette into the fire. The cardboard goes up in flames, sending out a wave of warmth: a cozy respite from rigidity. She looks back at her family, listens as they laugh and share the events of the day. The "Book of Simple Rules" has been tossed aside, a safe distance from the soup splotches that now color the table with life lived.

"However crooked, we all seem to line up here each night, the woman decides, "around a square table. Maybe it's time to "join 'em," quit trying to control everything—except for the knife: this, in time to carve our amorous initials, encircled within a crooked heart, into the table's wobbling wooden surface.


*     *     *
Comments welcome. Be sure to read the comments--even if you aren't yet leaving any. My mom, Bill, Sandy, Christine, Pat, Marianne, (oh, it's never a good idea to start a list of names, for I always leave dear friends out, on accident!)--will be chatting in my absense (sp?) and sharing stories of their own!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
French Vocabulary: la fourchette (f) = fork

Thank you for visiting today's sponsors

Les portes tordues (The Twisted Doors): The Scariest Way in the World to Learn and Listen to French! Check it out (if you dare).

Provence Dreamin? Maison des Pelerins, Sablet. A Vacation Rental Dream in the heart of the Cote du Rhone.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Expressions~~~~~~~~~~~~
la règle d'or = the golden rule
les règles de route = rules of the road
les règles du jeu = rules of the game
mettre quelque chose en règle = to put something in order
se mettre en règle avec Dieu = to make things right with God
la règle de la maison = the rule of the house (establishment)
en règle générale... = as a general rule...
avoir ses règles = to have one's period (menstruation)

Exercises in French Phonics Exercises in French Phonics, bestseller by Francis W. Nachtman, on French pronunciation and how to pronouce French words correctly!

French Demystified: A Self - Teaching GuideFrench Word-A-Day: Summer 2009 Stories

I'll Never Be French (no matter what I do): Living in a Small Village in Brittany

Learn French In A Hurry: Grasp the Basics of Français Tout de Suite

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP: Has a friend forwarded you this post? Sign-up to receive your own free subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here


de guingois

Clothes-line
The scene was so classic that I wondered, as I snuck up to snap the photo, whether it weren't staged! Notice the underwear: one per "hook"... Photo taken in Nyons (just next to a chichi restaurant. well, that oughta show 'em!).

 


de guingois (deuh-gehn-gwah) adverbial and adjectival phrase
   
    : askew, lopsided

marcher de guingois = to walk lopsidedly
tout va de guingois = everything's going haywire

 Audio File & Example Sentence: listen to the French word "de guingois" and to this expression: "marcher de guingois":Download Wav or MP3

"The Marais, says Jacob Berger, a film director who lives and works in the neighborhood, is de guingois--that is to say, slightly askew."

--from the National Geographic article:
"Bohemian rhapsody: on the right bank of Paris history and hip embrace..." 


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


(The following story was written one year ago. For the next two weeks we will visit the archives...)

Another odd Christmas tree this year. I should have taken Mom's advice: get an artificial one! Apart from being good for the environment, those faux firs come in perfect shapes: full bodied and symmetrical; especially, they're kilter—and not helter-skelter!

If I weren't such a procrastinator, I'd have gotten the tree I wanted: Super Sapin! (Not a bird, not a plane.... ) Though our tree may not fly or save lives (it certainly won't save the earth), it does look as if it were set for take off, what with its long and HORIZONTAL inclination... like a Boeing 747.

"It's lopsided!" I point out to Jean-Marc, after he has placed the tree. "Wait a minute..." I remark, suspiciously. "Didn't it come with a stand?"
"No. It didn't."
"You mean the nursery didn't have stands for sale?"
"They did, but the stands weren't any good."

They never are! He was just trying to get out of buying a stand! Next, I discover his solution: our umbrella stand. He's swiped our umbrella stand to use for a tree brace. Pas vrai!

If it weren't so amusing, to see that tree stuffed, de guingois, into the umbrella stand like a wet parapluie, I'd scream! But I am learning to laugh at these peculiarities. Take, for example, our bathroom light fixture, the one just above the mirror. When the screw fell out, we might have replaced it. Instead, a box of aspirin was set between the light and the mirror (now, when the box of asprin pops out, all we have to do is pick it up off the floor (easier to see than a small screw) and stick it back in its place). Ta-da!

Chez nous, it's always a balancing act... a regular circus we are! From time to time, I find myself lamenting, "Why... why can't we just be normal?" Why do I have to lean to the side in order to see our tree as it "should" be? Why can't we have a tree stand like other normal French families? Why do we have to treat our pine as a parasol? Still grumbling about my husband's eccentricities, I gather the fresh laundry which I have strewn around the house on every free hook, chair back, or table (any freestanding structure will do). Other housewives may have hung out their clothes on the line to dry today, but I don't trust the northern wind: sacré Mistral!

Collecting some dry underwear from the fire-stoker rack beside the cheminée,* and reaching for some chaussettes sèches*—slung over the candelabra, I notice the look on my husband's face... but I am quick to put him back in his place; after all, HE is the oddball!

However different, there we stand, united in silence, our heads leaning to the same side as we study our Christmas tree.
"It's lopsided, you know."
"Yes, dear," my husband replies. "Il a pris un sacré coup de Mistral!"

***
Comments welcome. Be sure to read the comments--even if you aren't yet leaving any. My mom, Bill, Sandy, Christine, Pat, Marianne, (oh, it's never a good idea to begin a list of names, for I always leave dear friend's out, by accident!)--will be chatting in my absence and sharing stories of their own!

French Vocabulary
le sapin (m) = fir (tree); pas vrai = it can't be true!; de guingois = lop-sided; le parapluie (m) = umbrella; sacré Mistral = blasted Mistral (wind); la cheminée (f) = fireplace; chaussettes (f) sèches = dry socks; il a pris un sacré coup de Mistral = it was hit by a mighty gust of wind



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French Word-A-Day: Summer 2009 Stories

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Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
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les restes

Deck the Halls (c) Kristin Espinasse
Correction (!) On Friday I noted "PQ" as "papier queue". "Q," it turns out, is the phonetic sound behind the French word that the "Q" in "PQ" represents. Thanks to those of you who wrote in to straighten things out!

les restes (lay rest) noun, masculine plural

    : leftovers

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Audio File & Example Sentence
: Listen to Wav or MP3

Après avoir fini les restes... j'ai mal au ventre.
After finishing the leftovers, I have a stomach ache.

.

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

I was eating my way through the various compartments of our frigo—through the lettuce crisper, the butter bin and all shelves between and within...

...when I felt the weighty stare of a couple of Goldens—question marks on their furry faces, curiosity in the air.

That is when I remembered that there was no need to finir les restes before setting out on our two-week voyage west.

No need to empty the frigo, for nothing would perish—thanks to my brother-in-law, who'll be sitting our home and the dogs that we cherish.

And so, for Beau-Frère, I'm headed back to the superette... to replace les restes.

Bye for now, "see you" all in a fortnight...
Bonnes fêtes, bon appétitas for me, I'll be eating light!

***

Am I the only one who has put on the pounds, before the holidays have even rolled around? Comment here.

French Vocabulary

French Word-A-Day: Summer 2009 Stories

le frigo (m) = fridge; finir les restes = to finish the leftovers; le beau-frère (m) = brother-in-law; bonne fête = enjoy the celebration (happy holidays); bon appétit = enjoy your meal


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DSC_0023

A Day in a Dog's Life...
by Braise é Smokey

Kristin says: A story on these two whippersnappers is coming soon...
Smokey says: What's a whippersmacker?
"Not 'smacker'," Braise points out. "Snapper"!
Smokey: "Oh, like 'Snapper-dragons'!"
"No! 'Snapdragons'!"
Smokey: "Whipper snap dragons!"
No, "Whisper Smackers," Braise corrects. "Oh, now I'm confused."
"Here," Smokey says, "have a whisper smacker, instead."

Paws and Effect Update: One of Smokeys wounds (beneath the jaw) is completely healed! The other (seen here, beneath his eye) is much better than it looks. It should be closed very soon! Comment here.

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Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
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"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

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PQ

Watermelon Red and laundry on the line reminds us of summertime. Photo (c) Kristin Espinasse
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P.Q. (pay kew) noun, masculine

    : papier queue (toilet paper)

In Comments:

hi : maybe PQ is papier- cul (au lieu de papier queue) Q is the phonétic " word" for cul in this case. best regards. jean-marc (english student)

Thanks, Jean-Marc!

Audio File & Example Sentence: Download WAV or MP3

Qui, parmi nous, quand il n'y a plus de papier queue va chercher le sopalin? Who, among us, when there's no more TP, goes and gets the paper towels?


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

You know the saying: "What goes around comes around". "Around," one might add, like a roll of two-ply toilet paper....

You remember those low murmured high jinks, played out as a kid? Well, where I grew up we had toilet paper in our arsenal of "farce-inal".

We called the bad deed "TPing." (not "T-Ping" as in "I Ching"—would that we sneaks were not so unerring—no such thing! " TPing" as in the verb: "to tp"—the adjective a "tp'd" house.  Let's see, what would that make the noun... a teepee? No, that would be a Native American structure made not of two-ply paper, but peau... I dunno.)

Forget grammar, let's get back to our "goes around comes around" story.  Yesterday was pay back day for the farce I played on friend of a friend, Margo, years ago. Truthfully, it wasn't at all my idea to toilet paper her yard... her orange tree, or the buissons that lined her home's entry... No, peer-pressure pushed me to it...

Never mind adolescent intimidation—for it is useless to try and get sympathy from the correctional Powers That Be. Those Payback Powers That Be disguised themselves, recently, as our four-month-old puppy... whose new favorite "toy" is, can you guess?, TP...

...or papier queue, mind you. But back to minding me... those Powers That Be came back to correct my former "farcery," this via a flurry of chewed, soggy TP.

Indeed, I woke up the other morning with a start... and reached the escalier in time to witness the last perforated square float gently down to le rez-de-chaussée.* Our kitchen, our hall, our living room... all were quilted with a layer of lavatory paper.

I watched, mystified, as the last square of "two-ply" landed like a feather before my very eyes. With that, the Powers That Be (disguised as no other than our prankster puppy) put a new two-ply twist on an old saying to which I now get the gist:

What goes around comes around... with the help of a karma-keeping canine.

.

***
Comments welcome here


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French Vocabulary

une farce (f) = practical joke; la peau (f) = skin; le buisson (m) = bush; le papier queue (m) = toilet paper; un escalier (m) = staircase; le rez-de-chaussée (m) = ground floor

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A Day in a Dog's Life...
by Braise and Smokey

DSC_0009-1
Smokey says: Forget toilet paper... I'm going to "petal" the parquet, "flower" the floors... and spread snapdragons everywhere—joie de vivre galore!

First, however, I think I'll eat one or two... wouldn't you?

Photo taken December 11th.


Pizza herbes

Herbes de Provence (Special for Pizza) in Crock:
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Pre de Provence Lavender Soap. Imported from France: Pré de Provence, literally translated, means "Meadow of Provence." Transport yourself there with this triple milled savon.

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French Country Diary

French Country Diary 2010:
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Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP: Has a friend forwarded you this post? Sign-up to receive your own free subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here