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Entries from April 2010

secours

Jackie_paix
My 10-year-old style-conscious daughter. More in today's story... photo taken two years ago, when this edition was first published.

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le secours (suh-koor) noun, masculine
  help, aid, assistance, relief

                                    *     *     *
Viendra au secours de la peine d'autrui celui qui souffre lui-même.
(He) will come to the aid of the suffering other, he who suffers himself.

                        --Faramarz (12th century Persian author)

In French music: "Avec le Temps" by Leo Ferre
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A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

Living out here in the vine boondocks, where high traffic means encountering one lazy tractor on my morning school run, I care less and less about presentation. Having all but worn my bathrobe while chauffeuring the kids into town, I wonder sometimes about risk-taking and ridicule.

Heading out the door to pick up the kids from school, I hesitate before the shoe pile. Forget it! I am not changing out of my slippers this time. The car is right outside the door. I only need to hop from doormat to car mat, risking but a trail of dust in between. As for hopping, that might be hard given the size of these slippers, which gets me thinking...

What IF I have an accident on the way to school? My daughter would kill me for getting caught in cotton "clogs". I look down at the un-dainty slippers, each one the size of a boat and with enough insulation to temper arctic waters.

Silly thought, that of getting caught. The odds of that happening! I shake my head and grab the car keys before stepping into car, lifting one giant slipper after the other, and pulling out of the driveway.

At a country crossroad where one, two, three, four paths meet—two of which are dirt roads—I slow down. With the help of peripheral vision I sense an object speeding forward to my right. I am amazed to encounter another car!

Right, priorité à droite! I remind myself, giddy at the chance to give another driver the right-of-way. Only, given the hairpin turn awaiting the other driver, I have to put the car in reverse in order to make room.

As the car passes, and with a great beaming smile on my face, I am the picture of good manners as I offer to willingly retreat for the hurried French driver. Backing up, it is only when I feel myself sliding to the right, that I realize I've nearly ended up in a ditch!

Back to that unglamorous glitch. I look down to the floorboard, toward the foot pedals hidden behind those gigantic slippers. Time to act quickly before secours arrives! I push in the clutch, put it in first, and all but pole-vault the front end of my car into the ditch. Whereas the back end had only flirted with the fall, it is in forgetting to straighten out the wheel that I dig my own descent.

I quickly put the car into reverse and listen as the engine replies in rip-roarious ridicule. A cloud of dust appears beyond the back window. Each clumsy kick of the clutch sends my slipper-boats sinking into the floorboard until a chilly arctic awareness sets in. I am not going anywhere. I will have to get out of the car and walk to town with those ridiculous "rafts" on my feet.

I look up, as one does for mercy, and notice something in the rearview mirror: two strangers slowly appearing amidst the dust cloud. One man is smoking a pipe, the other has car keys in his hand. I recognize The Right-of-Way driver and co-pilot. I see them jump into the ditch, walk over to the dangling front tire and lift it up—along with the car!

"Avancez," they say, holding the car in the palms of their hands.

The situation is surreal and there, behind the wheel, I feel uplifted by the strangers' secours. I AM uplifted, as is my car! My eyes do a double-take and I see the pipe in one man's mouth, a smile on the other's. Sweat begins to appear on their collective brows.

"Vous voulez que j'avance?" I say, afraid to run them both back into the ditch.
"Oui, Madame," they answer, politely, painfully, sweat now pouring down.

Right. This is no time to second guess. I tried that with the slippers and who knows if that played a part in this mess? Grinding the gearshift into first, I literally peel out of those men's palms.

 *     *     *

Looking back I saw the men waving, unharmed. I had thought it was I the Good Samaritan. Slippers tucked safely now beneath a spared ego, I think again.


:: Le Coin Commentaires ::

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Have a minute to read another story? Here's one I wrote four years ago... about coloring Easter eggs with the kids. Thanks for checking it out and sharing it with a friend. Click here to read "Tremper". 



French Vocabulary
priorité à droite = priority (goes to the driver) to the right
avancez (avancer) = go forward, advance
le secours (m) = aid
Vous voulez que j'avance = Do you want me to advance?

 

:: Audio File ::
Listen to these French words: Secours.
Viendra au secours de la peine d'autrui celui qui souffre lui-même. Download secours.mp3 or Download secours.wav


French Words & Expressions:
  Au secours! = Help!
  appeler au secours = to call/cry for help
  la caisse de secours = relief / charity fund
  les fonds de secours = emergency fund
  porter secours à quelqu'un = to give assistance to someone
  sortie de secours = emergency exit
  le secours moral, mutuel = moral / mutual support
  les premiers secours = first aid

 

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Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution makes a difference. A donation by check or via PayPal is vivement appréciéeMerci infiniment! Kristi

"Bonjour, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle



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louper

Louper
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Louper

(loo pay)

verb

to miss (a class...)


After his hearty lunch of poulet rôti, spicy eggplant ratatouille, and rosemary potatoes (and seconds of all three!), I suspect that my son is brimming with health and not at all as sick as he claimed to be when the alarm clock rang this morning. ("Aïe! J'ai mal au ventre!" he complained. Feeling sympathetic, I let him stay home from school for the morning.)

"Well, well, Max, you certainly seem to be feeling better! Maybe I could take you to school now and you won't miss your afternoon classes?"

"Mommy," Max pleads, "I need a whole day off!"

"Well then, you'll have a lot of class work to catch up on, so don't come crying to me!"

Max offers me a disarming smile before asking what's for dessert. I bring out a bowl of aromatic garriguettes—strawberries so sweet you'd swear they were sugar cubes blushing in disguise. I pass Max the can of whipped cream, figuring that he might as well enjoy his sick day even if he is guilty.

As he eats, he reviews which classes he has missed:

J'ai loupé les maths...
J'ai loupé la musique...
J'ai loupé la téchno...


Listening to my son's losses, I try to balance the debit. Though Max missed math, music, and technology, he didn't miss doing the dishes (this, without my asking), he didn't miss making me a surprise cup of tea ("C'est bien chaud!" he announced, his shining eyes carefully steadied on the steamy surface of the tea lest it spill as he walked), and he didn't miss collecting a handful of roses (after he slipped out to the garden, scissors in hand). Finally, he didn't miss selecting a vase (our best coffee cup in the cupboard) and arranging the flowers into an attractive bouquet before delivering them to my desk. "For you, Mommy," he offered.

"J'ai loupé un peu d'histoire." I missed a bit of history, too, my son admits as I poke my nose deep into a pink blossom. Learning about another "louped" class, I feel slightly annoyed. Then I get to thinking about Max's history book and all the "important stuff" that is recorded inside for students to study and recall. Why shouldn't this moment, too, be memorized? How unworthy of note one boy's stolen day may seem to historians, who will never document the sweetness of this tea, or record the gift of a tender heart.

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YOUR EDITS HERE
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French Vocabulary

le poulet rôti = rotisserie chicken
Aïe! J'ai mal au ventre! = Ow! I have a stomach ache
j'ai loupé les maths = I missed math
j'ai loupé la musique = I missed music
j'ai loupé la téchno (technologie) = I missed technology
c'est bien chaud = it's very hot
J'ai loupé un peu d'histoire = I missed a little bit of history



:: Audio File ::
Listen to me pronounce the word "louper" before my daughter reads the following quote:
Download MP3 or Download Wav

  Il ne faut pas louper le coche,* mes amis!
  We musn't miss our chance, my friends!
--Henriette Chardak
     *coach, barge; rater le coche = to miss the boat

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Terms & Expressions:
  louper son cours = to miss one's class
  louper son bus/train = to miss one's bus/train
  louper le coche = to miss an opportunity, to miss one's chance
  louper son coup = to miss one's chance
  A ne pas louper! = Not to be missed! (program, event...)

Verb conjugation:
je loupe, tu loupes, il/elle loupe, nous loupons, vous loupez, ils/elles loupent => past participle: loupé

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A Day in a Dog's Life...
For the next 10 days Smokey and Braise will be vacationing at a chambre de chien, a doggy equivalent of une chambre d'hôte. We'll be dropping them off a the B&B (Bed & Bark?) in Rochegude, on our way to Serre Chevalier. Smokey, pictured left, doesn't look very happy about this... (you should see Gramma K's face, which is even longer!) but there will be no room for dogs in the little Alpine chambre that we will be renting. While we're away, French Word-A-Day will continue, with selections from the archives. (There will be no posts on the 9 and the 12th.)

 DSC_0022-1


Has a friend forwarded you this post? Receive your own FREE subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution makes a difference. A donation by check or via PayPal is vivement appréciéeMerci infiniment! Kristi

"Bonjour, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle



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