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Entries from April 2010

souci

DSC_0056
A garden on a grape farm.

 

souci (soo-see) noun, masculine
    : calendula flower (pot marigold)

[from the Latin solsequia, meaning tournesol (sunflower)]

souci (soo-see) noun, masculine
    : preoccupation; concern

[from se soucier, from the Latin sollicitare (to worry)]


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

It is with a big fat lip and a bevy of bad luck that I sit here in le Cafe du Commerce. An Hitachi is blaring above my head, but no one is paying the least attention to the news. I should démènage (to the back of the bar?) but this particular table has a view of le trottoir, where passersby catch my eye.

Besides the racket of clanking cups, gurgling espresso makers, and le bonjour (every time a client walks past the door), this is an awfully agreeable ahn-dwa in which to contemplate Murphy's Law: 

       si quelque chose peut mal tourner, alors cette chose finira infailliblement par mal tourner

As I prepare to share with you these woes, I overhear the latest news, via the news or l'info:
near Grenoble, a 10-month-old baby was found starved to death in her berceau

The news has me biting a big fat mosquito-bitten lip, and I forget what brought me here to this café, if not a sprinkle of soucis, that is all. Yes, that is it.

:: Le Coin Commentaires ::

Comments are welcome! Click here to leave a message. 



French Vocabulary
ahn-dwa = (pronunciation for "endroit")
(Murphy's Law reference by Wikipedia)

Note: The regular edition--with vocabulary translations and sound file will return soon... just as soon as the telephone and internet connections are sorted out. My apologies in advance for any errors in this edition.

:: Newforest's Notes ::

Update! "Newforest," who regularly enlightens us on the French language, via the comments box, has just sent in these excellent "souci" examples:

-- des petits soucis = little worries (nothing serious)
-- de gros soucis = big worries
-- beaucoup de soucis = a lot of worries
-- bien des soucis = quite a few worries
---> avoir des soucis = to have worries
---> avoir de gros soucis de santé = to have serious health problems
---> avoir des soucis d'argent = to have financial problems


---> donner du souci à quelqu'un = to worry somebody
Ex: mon travail me donne du souci = my work worries me
Ex: Mon fils me donne du souci = my son worries me


---> se soucier de / avoir le souci de (quelque chose) = to care about (something)
Ex: se soucier de / avoir le souci de sa santé = to care about (one's health)
Ex: se soucier de / avoir le souci de bien faire = to be anxious to do well


---> se faire du souci pour / à propos de... = to worry about, to feel concerned about, to be worried about

Ex: je me fais beaucoup de soucis pour mon fils = I worry a lot about my son
Ex: Il n'y a pas de quoi se faire du souci = There's nothing to be worried about
Ex: Ne te fais pas de souci. Tout ira bien = Don't worry. Everything will be fine


-- Un souci de moins! =  one thing less to worry about!
-- un / une sans-souci = a happy-go lucky person
-- -> (vivre) sans souci / de facon insouciante  = (to live) carefree, free of worries

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    
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♥♥ 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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vivace

  DSC_0012-2
Charm at a new chum's house. I've met a few new friends over the past quinzaine. Now to sort out the souvenirs and, eventuellement, share them with you. Today, meet Malou and Doreen...
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vivace (vee-vace) adjective

1. perennial, hardy
2. inveterate, indestructible, vivid
3. (in music) vivace

noun: une vivace = a perennial

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

At the annual Rare Plants and Flowers fair in Serignan, visitors varied from vivace to vierge d'expérience (or still learning the difference between a pavot and a poppy (au fait--is there a difference?...).

Purchasing a two-day pass at a quaint cabanon that doubled as a ticket stand, I watched as a young man secured my entrance bracelet.
"I'm coming back tomorrow!" I informed him, jiggling my gourmette.
No worries, he assured me, the plastic bracelet was impermeable.
"Vous pouvez même prendre la douche avec!" Reassured, I entered the bustling outdoor market and quickly blended in with the throngs of flower enthusiasts who advanced, like bees, from flower stand to flower stand, pollinating their passions one plant at a time.

At one end of the fair, a demonstration was well underway. A group of volunteers were constructing a traditional restanco: one of those Provençale garden walls composed of regional stones. As I snapped photos of the rocks and the bénévoles, I overheard English... and that is how I came to meet Malou and Doreen. The English voices belonged to their husbands, Dave and Joe, who were patiently waiting for the dirt divas, who were somewhere beyond the rock wall, immersed in a sea of flowers.

As soon as I met Malou and Doreen, they took me under their wings as they would take anyone with a longing to learn about plants, flowers and even cisterns!

My instant amies, Doreen (English) and Malou (French) watched thoughtfully as their new friend approached the flower stands, unsure of what she was looking for—but eager to fill her flimsy garden with flowers galore.

"You can leave that one!" Doreen suggested. "I can give you one of those from my garden!" she explained, pointing to the Bear's Paw, or Acanthus. Malou made me put back the tomatoes, whispering, "I've just seeded several of those... let these go!"

The women made plans for their next co-planting conspiracy... involving (among others) Geranium Bill Wallace, Bouncing Betty, and newbie gardener me...

"What kind of soil do you have at your place?"
Unsure of the answer, I responded, "good soil for grapes and wine!"

"We'll see about that," the ladies offered and with that they were off.

Not four days later they drove up to our farm (husbands and hoes in tow)
bringing with them enough flowers to jump-start my garden...

  DSC_0004-1


with warm wishes and encouragements that my garden might prosper and continue to grow.

:: Le Coin Commentaires ::
Please say hello to Doreen and Malou and help me to thank them for sharing their story with you! Would you like more stories about these two dirt divas?  Leave a comment here.

French Vocabulary

quinzaine
eventuellement
vierge d'expérience
pavot
au fait
cabanon
gourmette

vous pouvez même prendre la douche avec = you can even take a shower with it (on)
restanco = Provençal for "restanque"
bénévoles
ami

Geranium Bill Wallace = hardy geranium with purple flowers
Bouncing Betty = Bouncing Bet (soapwort)


(Note: I am running very late today in posting this edition... would you mind helping me to complete the vocabulary section? Leave the French words and their English equivalents in the comments box. Merci!


A Day in a Dog's Life...
(with guest writer Carol Donnay, filling in for Smokey today)
  DSC_0048-1

Note: I need your help with the English translation of Carol's poem, below. Would some of you like to leave the translation in the comments box? Many thanks for your help!


Smokey déguisé en brin d'herbe 
ou en fleur de parterre.....
Huummm....
Dans quel costume on le préfère?
Les deux lui sont seyants
Mais dans votre jardin 
Pourtant ravissant
C'est ce petit chien
Le plus épatant
Car, parmi les "soucis", 
"La monnaie" (du pape) et les "gueules-de-loup"
Fleurs aux noms bizarres
Pour hanter des cauchemars 
Smokey le dormeur  
Y rêve en connaisseur:
Finesse, délicatesse et senteurs.




A plus tard.

 

Carol 

P.S.: Avez-vous remarqué que Smokey-Joli a une crinière de lion sur la deuxième photo. Comme il est mignon ce lionceau! Je rêve que je le serre dans mes bras. Bisous sur sa crinière :-)

  DSC_0054-1



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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sarcler

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For the purposes of this edition (there's always the need for an illustrative photo) Smokey pretends to be a weed. But we're not buyin' it, are we?

sarcler (sar-clay) verb

    : to weed


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The fun way to learn French

.

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

(Note: this story was written one year ago.)

Our neighbor stopped by the other day to drop off a forklift—something we needed for our latest mise-en-bouteille. While Jean-Marie was here, I took the opportunity to ask him a few questions about gardening as he and his wife, Brigitte, have 50 hectares of vines and a few potagers to boot.

"I'm thinking of moving the tomatoes up here," I mentionned to Jean-Marie, as we stood on the patch of grass just above the ruisseau.

"In that case, you'll need to put up un coupe-vent.. a row of thick buissons, for example."

Jean-Marie had a point. After all, we were standing pile-poil in the middle of the Rhône, where the wind blows down the valley like a fleet of jet planes, upending anything that isn't anchored to the ground (or at least deeply-rooted, like our vines... or cemented in, like our home!). The tomatoes would not stand a chance.

Our next stop was the portail, beside which I had been transplanting local flora, including a new, unidentified favorite: a rusty red grass that Mom and I had seen growing, en masse, near the town of Tulette. This vibrant herb would make a lovely contrast to the purple irises and Spanish Lily, two other "locals" that have made their way into our garden.

In a field on the road to Tulette, Mom and I had dug up a few samples of the exotic and colorful herbe... and quickly transplanted it into our garden....

a vineyard near  Tulette

 

 

 

 

Jean-Marie took one look at our botanical "find"... and chuckled as he identified it:

"C'est Roondoop."

"Roondoop?"

The plant's name did not disappoint! It had just the je ne sais quoi that I would expect for such an exotic variety: Roondoop. I loved it!

"Oui..." Jean-Marie continued. "The grass turns red like that after the herbicide takes effect.

"Grass killer?"

That is when the dots connected: "Roondoop" was really "Roundup"! A désherbant used by certain farmers to control weeds in the vineyard.

No wonder we didn't have any of that "lovely red grass" growing here at our farm...

Just then I remembered Chief Grape, my organic-wine-farmer husband, who was about to come onto the scene and discover some foul play in the near vicinity of his precious raisins!

I quickly went to work yanking out the chemically-loaded grass, discretely shoving it all into the closest container of trash, before I myself got roondedup by Chief Grape.


*     *     *
:: Le Coin Commentaires::
Thank you for sharing your thoughts about today's word or story or simply sign in and say "salut"! Click here to comment.

French Vocabulary

la mise en bouteille = bottling
le potager
= vegetable garden
le ruisseau
= creek
un coupe-vent
= windbreak, windbreaker
le buisson
= bush
pile-poil = smack, just, exactly
le
portail = gate
l'herbe (f)
=  grass
je ne sais quoi
= that certain something
un désherbant
= weedkiller
le raisin
= grape


Example sentence: Le sarclage étant plus difficile lorsque la terre est sèche, il est judicieux d'arroser le terrain légèrement une heure avant de commencer. Weeding being the most difficult when the earth is dry, it is a good idea to lightly water the area one hour before beginning. (Suite101)


  DSC_0052
Here's Smokey—pretending to be a blade of grass—in order to get out of today's chore here at Domaine Rouge-Bleu (we're bottling 6000 units today! I had thought to ask Mr. Smoke to take my place, only he was no where to be found... Meantime, he blended in beautifully with the scenery....) To his left, les "soucis" (marigolds). Above, "la monnaie du pape" (coin flowers). To his right (background), his favorite "snapper"dragons. Now who, pray tell, would want to break a back bottling wine all day when you could lie flat-bellied in a forest of flowers?

 

Books & Language Tools:
The Ultimate French Verb Review and Practice
Buying a Piece of Paris: A Memoir
Cuthbertson French Verb Wheel

 

 

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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The French word for plastered drunk...

 DSC_0068
Jean-Marc is concerned that I am writing too much about dogs, so we'll switch to drunkenness for a spell. (Photo of sign taken in Pont-Saint-Esprit. Notice the play on words: l'ivresse = drunkenness (in this case, Livresse, we have livre lushes or book boozers!)


beurré (beur-ay) adjective

    : "buttered" (plastered, sozzled, drunk)

French definition:
"qui est dans un état d’ébriété avancé" that which is in a state of advanced inebriation (by Wiktionnaire)

Share some synonyms for drunkenness here in the comments box.

Yabla French Video Immersion.
The fun way to learn French



A Day in a  F r e n c h  Life... by Kristin Espinasse

(T'was a midsummer night, at a sidewalk café... when the moon and its shine caused susceptibles to sway....)


At the outdoor eatery all eyes were tied to the motley mother and mademoiselle meandering down the street... one walking strait, the other walking teet.

The teetering one stopped hither and thither, to the amusement of the crowd having dinner. There we were, in our Sunday best, watching the frowzy drowsy fille advance to the west.

...Then on to the north, south, east... at which point she ceased....

On her bobbing head she wore a pile of thread, in her arms she held emptiness, heavy as lead. I'd seen the mother and daughter hawking handmade hats at their stall, one in a long line of booths that began at the tabac and ended, here, in front of the town hall.

It looked at though one had spent the day peddling pretty hats, while the other poured down pints. Imagine that!

Having packed up their wares, they were now zigzagging out of the artisan fair... the daughter, followed by the mother-sans-druthers (it wasn't her pick to be her girl's side-kick).

Making little progress the two puttered, one brazen, the other "buttered"—both with handmade bonnets on their heads held high (the mother's)... and not so dry (the daughter's).

The cafe crowd howled, the girl's mother growled, and certain susceptibles felt sympathy for the demoiselle whose hapless heart lived itself out loud.

:: Le Coin Commentaires ::

Thank you for sharing your thoughts about today's story or simply sign in and say "salut"! Click here to comment.

French Vocabulary

une fille = girl
le tabac = bar, café, or shop with a cigarette counter
la demoiselle = young lady



 DSC_0069

Have time for another story? Check out "Portrait of My Mother-in-Law" at Bonjour Paris.

***


Pizza herbes

Herbes de Provence (Special for Pizza) in Crock:
Herbes picked in Provence with a blend of oregano, thyme, basil & marjoram


Kindle Wireless Reading Device (my dad and belle-mère are addicted to theirs!).

 France Magazine subscription

Easy French Reader
: A fun and easy new way to quickly acquire or enhance basic reading skills

In film:  Paris Je T'aime Paris I love You.

 

 

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


ebouriffe

DSC_0001
For muddy faces... Braise recommends this triple-milled soap from Provence! Thanks for ordering some savon here.

ébouriffé(e) (ay-boor-ee-fay) adjective

    : tousled, disheveled, rumpled


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.............................................................................................................................
A Day in a DOG'S Life...
featuring a letter from Carol Donnay, writing in from Belgium.

.............................................................................................................................

Note: you may listen to Jean-Marc read Carol's letter in French: MP3 or Wav
Cher Smokey,
Dear Smokey,

Qu'est-il arrivé à ta maman?
What has happened to your mom?

1) A-t-elle pris un bain de boue pour lutter contre les rhumatisme?
    Has she taken a mud bath to combat rheumatism?

 DSC_0005

2) Est-elle tombée dans la mare aux canards?
     Did she fall into the duck pond?

 DSC_0003

3) A-t-elle mis sa patte dans la prise de courant?
    Did she stick her paw into the light socket?

 DSC_0012

4) Son salon de toilettage s'appelle "Chez Emile Pétard" puis, après le brushing explosif, son esthéticienne a forcé sur la crème bronzante? Her grooming salon is called "Chez Emile Firecracker" and, after the explosive blow drying, her beautician was a little heavy-handed with the self-tanning cream?

 DSC_0014

Pauvre Braise! Elle a l'air bien penaude dans son manteau "cinquième-patte" (seconde-main) et toi Smokey Joli, un air bien fiérot dans ta fourrure immaculée. Poor Braise! She looks so sheepish in her second-hand coat et you, Pretty Boy Smokey, proud in your immaculate fur!

 DSC_0002

 

Bisous les chéris,
Kisses dears,

Carol

 DSC03650  DSC03656  DSC03661


:: Le Coin Commentaires ::

This forum is open to your thoughts about today's edition. Thanks for taking a minute to thank Carol for her delightful story-letter. You may also pose questions about France, the French language and similar topics. By helping each other we enrich this community, educate, and inspire one another in all things French. Click here to comment.



 

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***

 

Garden Update

 6a00d834515cae69e2010536b38409970c-500wi
Yahoo! Just learned the word "biennial" which means that the hollyhocks I planted two years ago just may bloom after all! They'll soon join the Lily of Spain and the poppies (pictured) that grow like giggles in our garden.

Tigue Update!!!
I received a note from Rhiannon, and this letter, below from Rowan -- with some good news!

Dear Kristin

Just a quick note to say thank you for publicising Carcassonne Spa on your blog. People are so wonderful. Also I wanted to let you know that Tigue has been found a home! A British couple is collecting him tomorrow, and I couldn't be more delighted for him! Perhaps you could pass on the good news to your readers.
 Image001

Still lots more dogs needing homes, but with the help of people like you and your readers hopefully things will gradually start to improve.

Many thanks again.
Rowan

  IMG_0511
Here is a photo of the latest save. She is called Diana, rescued just hours before she was due to be put down last week and now living with me for a couple of weeks before going to her final home in the Lot. She is only 2 and half! Still plenty of time to enjoy life and put all the horrible SPA experience behind her
Red balloon
The Red Balloon: a French film classic. Order it here.

 Sugar flour
Cheery kitchen canisters, classic country French. Also in blue, here.


 Flash cards
French Retro 1940s Flash Cards for Children or Nostalgic Adults

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


robustesse

Italian Niche (c) Kristin Espinasse
In Soave Italy, where "museum-worthy" meets mundane. The art of life includes being able to have a cup of coffee, post a letter, and study a sculpture.

robustesse (ro-bus-tess) noun, feminine

    : robustness, sturdiness, strength

 

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


"Robustesse"
Sensitive... yet Strong

The highlight of Spring Break was visiting Cousin Audrey (oh-dray) in Verona. Before Jean-Marc and I married, in 1994, Audrey (15 years old at the time) traveled from Toulouse to séjourner with us. Though a duodecennial divide separated the French girl and the American woman, a complicity was born between the two expatriates. (Audrey eventually went on to live in Italy, and I made my nest in France, marrying Audrey's cousin.)

Audrey and I share more than a lightning fast facility for blushing, we've in common a love of language, comedy, and gelato... but when the bill comes we get serious, neither of us willing to accept no.

Witness the following restaurant scene in which two women play tug-oh-war with a poor old porcelain plate... Unable to settle, the bill—or l'addition (delivered to our table via the plate in question) dances over the plate's surface like a feather.

A conversation ensues in which one will win and one will lose...

Audrey: C'est à moi!
Me: Non! C'est à moi!
Audrey: Non! à moi!

The porcelain plate is teetering dangerously between the grips of the two women... Jackie and Max, who are dining with us, are staring with wide-eye excitement, betting that the saucer will soon take flight... Separation is imminent: the plate will either launch, or end up in the sole grips of la plus "staunch".

Moi: Non! (tug, tug, tug...)
Audrey: Si! ... (tug, tug, tug...)
Moi: Non! (tug, tug, etc. etc. and so on...)

Normalement, the idea of breaking a plate belonging to another would have horrified we "WannaPleasers". But a decision had been quickly reached: risk vandalism for victory! All this just goes to illustrate one final commonality or trait: beneath the delicate desire-to-please-all façade, there lies strength...

...power enough to propel a porcelain plate... from Italy, to France... then over the Atlantic to New York State.

 N537019526_1129844_7887
Cousin Audrey, right. Kristin, left.

:: Le Coin Commentaires ::

This forum is open to your thoughts about today's edition. You may also pose questions about France, the French language and similar topics. By helping each other we enrich this community, educate, and inspire one another in all things French. Click here to comment.

French Vocabulary

séjourner = to stay, to sojourn
c'est à moi = it is mine (to pay!)
non! = no
si! = yes (after a negative statement)
normalement = normally

:: Urgent: A Call For Help! ::


I received this letter from Rowan and Rhiannon, who volunteer at a local animal shelter:

Dear Kristin,

I am a Brit who lives in Carcassonne and I volunteer at the SPA (dog and cat rescue). We are desperately trying to find homes for our dogs, who are overcrowded and therefore at risk. There are dogs of all ages, shapes and sizes, some who would suit older people or those living in apartments, and others who need lots of space and walks.

BA1 One boy, in particular needs a home, his name is Tigue (pronounced Tiger), who is a beautiful Shepherd/ Bouceron cross. He is 3 years old and good with people and other dogs, and even seemed to be fine when I took him to the cat house. But he is not happy in his kennel and when people pass his box they assume he is aggressive (nothing could be further from the truth). The staff feel that he is unlikely to ever be re-homed and want to send him to the big kennel in the sky. I think this is wrong, as he is a beautiful boy and very good natured.

The adoption fee is €90, which includes tattoo and vaccination. I have two dogs already so can't take him, but in order to save him I would be willing to pay his adoption fee if a home is found. This offer doesn't stand for the other dogs there, by the way, but Tigue is a particular favourite  of mine.


BA2 I have attached a photo in the hope that you may be able to publicize Tigue and the other dogs and cats at the SPA. We are desperately short of money and volunteers, too....


Many thanks in anticipation. I attach a link to the SPA website.

http://spacarcassonne.e-monsite.com/


Rowan

DSC_0002

Smokey (left) says... Please help our friend Tigue. Contact this shelter today!!! Braise (right, mud on her face) seconds Smokey's plea.

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


acariatre

DSC_0196
The picture of Peace... but go "behind the scenes" with me today and learn about photography... especially les hazards du métier.

acariâtre (ah-kar-ee-atre) adjective

    : cantankerous

Before reading today's story, have a look at these synonyms for the French word acariâtre (and so get to know our harpy of a heroine): grincheux (grumpy), une chipie (a bad-tempered woman),

Yabla French Video Immersion.
The fun way to learn French

 

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

I did not develop a passion for photography until around my 37th year. And although I often feel uncoordinated in life, picture-taking calls for only two requirements: the ability to hold one's breath (in order to steady the camera lens) and a clear eye—one that is unencumbered by prejudice, so as to find the beauty in all things. The rest is beyond one's control, especially when it comes to subject matter: butterflies fly off, snowflakes settle, the sun sets, curtains close, makeshift models "make" to "shift"—or become altogether shifty... Read on in the following poem:

 

Photographing the Natives
(or Les Hasards du Métier)


Wandering through an alpine village, my camera hanging off my shoulder like a sac à main, I stop in my tracks, take up my lens, and snap!

It is an old shop sign that has attracted me this time. The shop, which went out of business in the last century, lives on in spirit thanks to the colorful signboard which was never taken down. On closer look—behind a closed window (just above the sign) and hidden by the sun's reflection—an object suddenly comes into view. A little commotion ensues, when next the fenêtre flies open and out pops a particularly perturbed paysanne.

The wizened woman wags her finger at me.
"Mais, Madame," I assure her,
"I am not the paparazzi!"

Pourtant, with a puff and a hiss
I am abruptly dismissed...
as Madame draws her lace curtains to a contemptuous close.
And I am left standing with my camera still stuck to my nose.

.

:: Le Coin Commentaires ::

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French Vocabulary & Sound File

Download Acariatre or Download MP3


C'est devenu un vieillard acariâtre, misanthrope, malade, alcoolique, qui ressasse sans cesse des souvenirs qu'il est bien l'un des rares à encore posséder. He became an old cantankerous man, a misanthrope: sick, alcoholic, one who turns over in his mind, unceasingly, memories that he is one of the few to possess. ("Derrière le miroir d'Henscher" LeMonde.fr)

(Help! Can someone do a better translation than mine...? Thanks for adding your translation to the comments box!)

le hasard du métier = job hazards
le sac à main = handbag
la fenêtre* = window
le paysan, la paysanne* = country person
mais, madame! = but, Madam
pourtant = nevertheless

*missing from the sound file...

 

 DSC_0009
Photo by Jackie Espinasse, 12-years-old.

A Day in a Dog's Life... by Smokey "R" Dokey

Eep eep ooh ray! as the French say. Ma and I are literally jumping for joy now that that family is back from vacation and we are back from Le Mutt Motel! Man, was that a noisy place! Thankfully Ma (picture left) and I got to share the same quarters, just next door to an old hunting dog. Two rooms down from us there was a singing spaniel, who belted out the blues.  (Never heard anything like it before!) Also, there were 4-week-old puppies belonging to the mistress of the Mutt Motel! This meant I got to play "senior chien" for the first time since I was born, back in August... I had fun showing the little guys the ropes (even if I tripped over a few in the process! Talk about crest-fallen.)

That's all for now. Ma and I are feeling jet-lagged, never mind we only traveled to the next village.

Love,

Smokey

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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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eveiller

Butterfly - Papillon (c) Kristin Espinasse
Smell the roses, see the butterfly's wings... slow to a snail's pace but not so slow as to sleepwalk through the day.

éveiller (ay-veh-yay) verb
 

       : to wake up, to excite... "to pull from sleep" (tirer du sommeil)


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

"Présent!" It is what my son replies when his teacher reads aloud his name for roll call. Every French child answers the same life-affirming way: "Présent!"*

The affirmative "Présent!" is so much more lively than bland ol' "Here!," don't you think? And did you ever notice the word's dual meaning: present/present which, whether in French or English, hints that when we are "here," present in the moment, we receive the "gift" of clarity -- where even the mundane takes on magnificence.

I would like to shout "Présente!" to somebody each day or, better yet, each hour!--if only to remind myself that I am truly awake. An hourly roll call might pull me out of this mental slumber. Lately, fueled by caffeine and routine, I manage to get by on automatic. The not-so-sensational sensation could be compared to sleepwalking through sauerkraut, though my mother-in-law would call it "pedaling through choucroute."* The vivid imagery that her words call forth is enough to wake my senses--if only that of sight, and if only in the mind's eye--otherwise, it's the same old grind, day after day, though it be a Gallic one and who am I to complain?

Recently, I decided to throw that old foe "Predicable Routine" for a loop. I began by tying my shoes... Next, I headed for the door instead of the coffee pot... and so marched, one foot after the other, out of the house and into the countryside's "classroom".

"Présente! Présente! Présente!" I affirmed, to the whispering reeds and leaf-chattering trees that agreed, enthusiastically, to take roll call for sluggish ol' me.
 

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 French Vocabulary & 
Audio File Hear my daughter pronounce today's word and quote: 

 On ne force pas une curiosité, on l'éveille.  We don't force curiosity, we awaken it.  --Daniel Pennac

 Download mp3 or WAV    

   



 présent(e)
= here; la choucroute = sauerkraut

 

 

 

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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coucou

 DSC_0285
High up in the Hautes-Alpes... there lives a blue-shuttered window with sunflowers, snowflakes, and the spirit of France peeking out.
 

Coucou... it's time to contribute!

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Merci beaucoup for your support! I am so happy to be able to bring you these "thrice-weekly" word & photo stories. Your help enables me to continue.

 

 

Amicalement,
Kristin Espinasse




















  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


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


chahuter

Cheval
The ponies of Provence stand before Mont Ventoux and a lone French mas.

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chahuter (sha-hew-tay) verb
  1. to make a racket, to create an uproar
  2. to heckle, to tease

"Chahuter" comes from the word "chat-huant" and once meant "to cry like a screech owl." "Un chahuteur" ("une chahuteuse") is a rowdy or disorderly student and "un professeur chahuté" is a teacher who cannot control his class.

.

A_day_in_a_french_life
One of the best parts of parenthood is watching your children try on hats. My favorites are the hats of courage, generosity, and empathy. And then there are those that leave my heart heavy. Such hats are bulleted, having been pierced by the horns of hell. My daughter wore one of those yesterday.

                    (In the School Parking Lot... )

"Everything okay?" I ask my ten-year-old, who sinks into the passenger seat with a sigh. Her answer is a swift: "No!"
"Did somebody hit you?" I ask, noticing her hand holding her ribs.
"Yes!"
"Who hit you?!"
"No one," she now insists, changing her mind. "Just take me home!"
"Tell me who hit you!"
"It doesn't matter! I want to go home!"

My daughter's defensiveness was suspect, so I followed my hunch.
"Did you say something that might have upset someone?"
"No!"
"Jackie, tell me..."
"Mom! ALL I said was 'Geraldine, c'est ma cousine'!"

My daughter doesn't have a cousin named Geraldine, so I guessed the saying was some sort of code... one that didn't sit well with the Hitter.
"Was it "Geraldine" who punched you?" I asked, fishing for clues.
"Maman!" Jackie said, impatiently. "Just take me home!"
"I will, after you tell me what happened."

When next my ten-year-old whipped up a barrage of false hysterics only to hide herself and her secret behind it, I pulled my car keys out of the ignition. I am familiar with the "Tasmanian Devil" tactic wherein the guilty party creates all-consuming chaos as a way of slipping out of the spotlight of sin. And while she would have me lose my footing, deep-down, my daughter wants my legs anchored to the ground so that she herself won't veer off course.

I stared out the window, wishing for peace to return to the car. Meanwhile, Jackie kicked the side-board, hissing something about her heartless mom. I even quieted my breath, lest the seconds of peace that were slowly returning be disrupted.

I was a mean kid once. I made Spittle Shake for "Donna," who wore thick spectacles and had knots in her hair. Some thirty years later, more than sorry, je suis navrée.* What had led up to that evil, edible "experiment"? Or am I mean at heart and, more importantly, did I pass this trait on to my daughter?

I wondered about name-calling when Jackie told me that the culprit wore glasses. Was my daughter the perpetrator, after all? Had she, in saying the purported insult "Geraldine, c'est ma cousine," taunted a classmate with what might be the French equivalent of "Four-Eyes"?
"No, Mommy!" Jackie protested she hadn't said it... at least not to her face....

A back door of the car opened with a cheery "Hello!" Max was out of school and would, minutes later, piece together his sister's story....
"Oh, her," he said, of the Hitter. "I'm not surprised she hit Jackie. That girl is mean to everyone!" he confirmed.

"Maybe she is mean because she is sick of being teased?" I said, in an attempt to restore order and justice. Still, my daughter was hurting physically, and, beneath the facade, morally. But what was, after all, the moral to this story? What was I to say to my daughter, who had tried on the "bully hat" only to be bullied back? Should I say "two wrongs don't make a right?" or... "Turn the other cheek. A kind word turns away wrath? Love your enemies? Do unto others"...? Perhaps a Spittle Shake maker shouldn't preach. Instead, I said what my heart felt:

"Are you sorry?"
My daughter looked down to the floorboard of the car and only then did her bully hat fall off. Hats off to her, I say, for her newfound humility... and to Donna, for forgiving me.


:: Le Coin Commentaires ::
This forum is open to your comments about today's word or story. You may also pose questions about France, the French language and similar topics. By helping each other we enrich this community, educate, and inspire one another in all things French. Click here to comment.


French Vocabulary

Geraldine c'est ma cousine = Geraldine is my cousin
maman = mom
je suis navrée = I am (profoundly) sorry


Audio File Listen to my daughter pronounce these French words: Chahuter.  Chahuteur  Chahuteuse. Download chahuter.mp3. Download chahuter.wav



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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