Previous month:
January 2011
Next month:
March 2011

Entries from February 2011

ceci et cela

Chief Grape and Smokey "R" Dokey
                          A floppy-eared Sunday here at the farm.

ceci et cela (seuh see ay seuh lah)

    : this 'n that

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the following words
Download MP3 file or Wav file (MP3 not working? Try the Wav file and cross fingers!)

Ceci et cela... ou un peu de tout dans cette édition.
This 'n that... or a little of everything in today's edition. 

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

It's just one of those mornings where, you know, one doesn't have a plan. It feels creative (anything could happen on this page) and cozy (probably nothing much will). 

I had thought to write a long overdue QFD*, or FAQ page... or to repost a list of stories and let you take your pick:

=> an anecdote about a practical joke: one of the stinkiest things that ever happened to me...

=> or an essay about writer's block... with an excellent idea from Mom!

=> or the short-lived stint as a Girl Friday (after getting kicked out of France)

=> ... and did you all see the favorite recipe for Cake Aux Olives? It's here, just after the story about my neighbor's floor being so clean you could lécher flan off them.  

As for news, I might share my son's satisfaction at advancing in the English language (via the little victories—or the silly ones):

In the car ride home yesterday I asked Max whether he was a country boy or a city boy. "Un campagnard," he concluded. We both looked at the citadine sitting in the back seat, agreeing Jackie is a city girl, to which Max added: "Yes, a SILLY girl!"

Silly aside, one more thing we might talk about today, is that so-called pronunciation mistake (the one I received so many emails about, Friday, after penning the pronunciation guide for "fuzzy dice".

When the complaints began streaming in, I hid under my computer mouse,  mumbling "You've done it again!"

But, like an ostrich who's stuck her head into the sand, so is a writer who's hidden under her mouse: soon to be found out!

Thank goodness our (virtual) resident Francophone Newforest, arrived, in time to put any "elidic" assumptions aside. (Read the comments box to Friday's "fuzzy dice" entry -- for some interesting insights into "liaison"! Click here and scroll to the end of the comments, to Sunday's entries.)

But just for the record (and so I might safely come out from underneath this mouse...): fuzzy dice, or dés en peluche, is indeed pronounced sans liaison! To learn why, don't miss Newforest's handy guide (click that link, above).


Le Coin Commentaires (AKA Our Community Corner)
Corrections are always helpful and welcome -- and comments are the best reward for writing these posts. Won't some of you de-lurk (come forth from the shadows) today - in time to voice a simple "Hey!" Click here to leave a message.


 USA meet-up with Jean-Marc!: Meet Chief Grape for a fun and delicious wine dinner in Los Angeles at AMMO on March 15th and in many other US cities

French Vocabulary

*QFD questions fréquemment demandées = FAQ, frequently asked questions

 update: thanks, "Leslie in Massachusetts", for this French alternative: FAQ = Foire Aux Questions ("A Question Fair", or Frequently asked Questions)

lécher = to lick

un(e) campagnard(e) = a country (boy, girl)

un(e) citadin(e) = a city (boy, girl)

Marseilles 1994.

Those looks on the newlyweds faces: an explanation:

1) Victory! (I had just disentangled this "sticky" veil from the church façade... where I had been stuck several minutes, due to a gale wind that had gathered up the sheer material... and pasted it--along with the bride!--to the puckered church exterior!)

2) As for Jean-Marc's nervous look: he had waited.... and waited... and waited for his bride to arrive. And now it looked as if the full reality of martremony (sp? sp?) was hitting him.

Capture plein écran 28022011 085453 I hope you will enjoy the entire story, in the memoir Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France

You will also learn about:

    => how & where I met chief Grape

    => why (pourquoi indeed!) he bought me a one-way ticket home-ADIEU!--back to the States!

    => and you'll see a few example of reverse-culture shock, or what returning home to Phoenix used to look like to me. 

Thank you for ordering a copy, here, for yourself or for a friend!

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

des en peluche


The exact meaning and origin of "fuzzy dice" is unclear, but one theory holds that U.S. pilots in World War II used dice in their cockpits for good luck, and they continued the practice when they came home from the war. (Text & image from Wikipedia)

dés en peluche (day on peh loosh) noun, masculine

    : fuzzy dice

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce these French words: (Download MP3 file)

dés en peluche. Fuzzy dice... ce sont les dés en peluche suspendus au rear view mirror. Fuzzy dice... they are plush dice suspended from the retrovisor.

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

"Trying to Wrestle a Sou Out of You-Know-Who!"

I am wandering aimlessly through an auto-parts store, killing time. I arrived a day late to pick up a repaired pneu, but the man behind the comptoir tells me: ce n'est pas encore prêt.

My eyes travel over to la salle d'attente, where a few aluminum chairs and a stack of curdled car magazines are about as inviting as a baseball dugout. On second thought, I'll roam the field....

I travel up and down the aisles of the auto-parts store, quite unsure of what I'm looking for. I begin to wonder whether this may be, after all, the store's sales strategy:

...when wide-eyed woman comes to collect repaired item... indicate the "waiting room" (pointing out the hard chairs, coffee-cups strewn floor, and sticky motor magazines)... and watch her run for the pricey auto-parts aisles!

The ploy works and before I know it I am shopping for items that have never seen the doodled pages of my shopping list: car tattoos, escape hammers, and fuzzy dice.

Fuzzy dice! They have those here in France?! Suddenly I am transported out of a foreign land of auto parts... and into a universal meeting ground. Though I have never owned a pair, I can somehow (in the vague recesses of my mind) relate to fuzzy dice, or "les dés en peluche". Is it an American thing?... or is it something kitsch (like lava lamps and garden gnomes--which also exist in French homes and gardens)?

I stand for several nostalgic minutes, filled with fuzzy, dicey memories of times past, but in the end the ploy does not work (...though I almost, just almost, buy one of those "head lights": a battery-powered lamp on a hairband. Is it for staring into the car's engine? Or part of a survival strategy? ( go along with the escape or "life hammer", which, by the way, doubles as a seat-belt scissor in the event of entrapment!!!)
Anyway, I might have purchased the headband-lamp-majig (and used it to read in bed at night)... had not the man behind the counter shouted "à vous, Madame". Turns out my tire is ready...  

I fix triumphant eyes--batting lashes and all--on the salesmen behind the counter... if theirs was a money-digging ploy... well then it's no dice, les gars! I have all I need today.

Le Coin Commentaires
Have a correction (in English or in French?). Would you like to respond to today's story -- or share one of your own. Comments are welcome and appreciated. If you like, tell us which city you are writing in from and the local weather in your area! Click to leave a message.

Update: For those of you wondering just what were the rare wines tasted during Monday's visit to Burgundy... check out the answer in the comment's box to that "aviner" edition. (P.S.: don't forget to come back and read the rest of this edition... with photos and a note from my Mom.)

French Vocabulary

un sou = a cent (centime)

le pneu = tire (tyre)

le comptoir = counter

ce n'est pas encore prêt = it's not ready yet 

la salle d'attente = the waiting room

à vous, Madame = your turn, ma'am

les gars = guys

Michel thomas
Michel Thomas method for learning French: learn at your own speed--listening, speaking, and thinking through the language. Order 10 CD program here

"My Boys": Max and Smokey-Doo


For Jules... a new photo of her grandson... 

The following soapbox happens when your mom is a regular in the comments box! My mom, Jules, writes:

Regarding MAX'S day-beau (I know I have slaughtered that word, but spellcheck is dumber than I).

I believe you must have run down to the cellar and stuck the microphone in his face around 6 a.m. demanding his help. He looks shocked and cold and sleepy - what a great sport he is to put up with you.

I, of course being Max's #1 fan, think you should make him a regular on your blog...give him a little warning before you place him in front of 40,000 people and better yet, have a little conversation plus the word.



 *Note: Mom is referring to the video (seen at the end of this post) that Jean-Marc made of Max. And Mom's right: Max was dragged out of bed in time to be pushed in front of the video camera (this, after he swiped my own microphone the day before... making "ideal working conditions" impossible for this fly-by-the-seat-of-her pants publisher!)

Time for another read? Would you like to learn a few more French words, in the process. I hope you'll take a minute to read my story about passing the French Drivers Test!

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


I've seen a lot of corks in my day (...), but have never seen them so displayed... picture taken in the village of Nuits St. Georges, in Burgundy.

aviner (ah vee nay)

    : to rinse one's wine glass with wine before sampling another wine

Audio File (no file today... a little mouse ran off with my microphone... ugh, teens and their interactive video games! Update: that little mouse made up for it by making a video tape of today's word and expression. See it at the end of this post. If reading via email, you'll have to click over to the blog!)

Example Sentence:

Avant de déguster un nouveau vin, il faut aviner le verre.
Before tasting a new wine, you must rinse your glass. 

Monaco villa apt Villa Royale apartment in Monaco. Rent this large studio with beautiful sea views located in the residential district of Beausoleil overlooking Monte Carlo. Click here.

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

Expensive Spit

Yesterday we were late, late, late, to a very important Burgundian date! "Je déteste être en retard," Jean-Marc admitted, as he circled the car round the block once again in search of the exclusive address. You wouldn't know it by the neighborhood, where clunky cars such as our own were parked (where was the private jet landing and where were the Jaguars?). And the (abandoned) front office--which we would eventually find--with its modest table and chairs, would not give away this vineyard's forte: that of making the rarest wine on the planet.

Found loitering beneath the rain in the parking lot, Jean-Marc and I apologized as we were escorted, dripping wet, down some steep concrete stairs, into the subterranean tasting room. Almost slipping off a step, I was glad to have worn sensible shoes--and not the high heels that I'd wanted to.

Coming out of a dark corridor, rows of dusty bottles behind us, we stood peering into the sacred room, which stood, VIP after VIP, peering back at us!

Jean-Marc and I "sklunked" like thieves into the small stone-vaulted salle de dégustation.  I don't know whether it was our lateness or a feeling of out-of-placeness, whichever, we were very fortunate to take part in this private tasting... having been smuggled into the appointment by a wine writer* and friend.

I watched Jean-Marc kiss Robert, then proceed to greet the others in the group. I followed my husband's example, planting two bisous on our friend's joues... and I kissed the next VIP and the next, quickly changing to handshaking when I realized my gaffe (Jean-Marc had only kissed those he knew, c-à-d, the other wine-makers smuggled in by Robert, characters we'd had the chance to meet last year in Sicily).

From here on we tried to quickly and discreetly blend into the group, which was currently being asked to "aviner". "Pardon me," I eventually asked, wondering whether it was wrong to break the silence... "but what does "aviner" mean?" I could not resist the urge to know this verb.

The man with the houndstooth coat and silk scarf lowered his chin and studied me, his eyes now perched above his glasses: "it means to rinse out your wine glass". 

Robert broke the silence by conjugating the verb and so putting it to practice: "Avinons-nous, everyone?" and with that glasses were rinsed. Because I had no glass to rinse (having turned down the offer to taste the rare wines--I hoped this was not Gaffe Number Three), I stood and watched, awkwardly. That's when Robert handed me his camera. "You seem to know how to take photos," he said with a smile. "Would you like to take a few for me?" What a relief it was to find employment! I set off to capture the event, now feeling very much in my element. 

But when the man in the beautiful coat and the low-lying glasses mentioned: " are for your private collection only..." I nodded obediently. It was dommage to not be able to share these images, but I was grateful, nevertheless, to keep my job! 

Driving home that evening, I couldn't help but ask my husband, Chief Grape, about the rare wines he had tasted: were they really that good? Jean-Marc confirmed that they were.

"Gosh, it must have cost ten bucks a sip!" I pointed out, only to notice the amused look on Jean-Marc's face. "Let's just say that each time a guest spat out the wine into the spittoon, it was like spitting hundred dollar bills!"

"Sans déconner!"" No longer did I wonder about my "missed chance" to taste the exclusive wine. I was just thankful not to have wasted one cent!


Postnote: In the car ride home, as Jean-Marc savored the wine, which lingering on his tongue, I was savoring another rare and precious commodity: .... well, maybe more about that later...  

Le Coin Commentaires
Corrections, questions, and comments of your own are welcome in the comments box. Don't be shy, join us in this cosy community corner! Click here to leave a message or to guess where this wine tasting took place


Thank you for visiting our sponsors

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


References &French Vocabulary

* read about wine writer and friend Robert Camuto, just below...

je déteste être en retard = I hate being late

la salle de dégustation = wine tasting room

bisous = kisses

la joue = cheek

dommage = too bad

sans déconner = no kidding!

c-à-dire (c'est-à-dire) = that is to say

Update! (this just in from Suzanne, a reader): I think deconner comes from the word "con" ... so it's a stronger and more vulgar meaning than "no kidding"! When I was growing up in Cote d'Ivoire, my French mom would have washed my mouth out with soap. I know it's commonly used, I say it all the time, but it's more like " no shit!" . " "Sans blague" or "sans blaguer" is what I would say...but I definitely cracked up when I saw "deconner"!!


Anti-Trivia (like antipasti!): Who were the other Sicilian characters in today's story? Find them here:

Ciro Biondi, his beautiful wife Stef, Cristiano Garella (wish I had a link for you!...), and Alberto Graci.



And many thanks to Robert Camuto (check out his latest book), for inviting us to join the Sicilians in Burgundy! Robert will begin a USA book tour next month. Don't miss it! Check out this page for details.




Capture plein écran 23022011 101519
In other books: Paris Café by Noel Riley Fitch:


In this droll, delicious little volume, Fitch and Tulka provide an affectionate portrait of the Select Cafe, one of those famous Paris eateries that have served as candles to intellectual moths--French, American, and otherwise--for nearly a century.


Order a copy and help support this French word journal. Note: once you have entered Amazon feel free to choose any book or product (from books to dog biscuits!). Your purchase of any item will help support this free language journal. Click here to enter Amazon.

This is our 15-year-old, Max. Behind him is one of our cement tanks, where visitors have signed their names :-)

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


"Pain and Hope" as personified by Mama Braise (left) and Smokey Doo. Read about a wine farmer's struggle, in today's missive. 

la gnac (nee ack) noun, familiar

    pugnacity, the will to win

avoir la gnac (also spelled "gnaque", "niaque") : to be driven, "to have a fire in the belly" (thanks, "Newforest", for this updated definition).

This term "avoir la gnac" is used by a certain generation: French friends our age (Forty Somethings) will be familiar with it. But when asking my son and my daughter whether they knew the expression "avoir la niaque" they shook their teenage heads "non". Have you ever heard the term used (comments welcome, here)? It was spoken to me yesterday, over the telephone, during a chat with Aunt Marie-Françoise (who was referring to my daughter's passion for horseback riding). I had thought she meant "knack" as in "she has a knack for riding". But the term seems to have little in common with the Anglophone expression... or does it?

Audio File: listen to our son, Max, pronounce the following words: Download Gnac

la gnac: Comment expliquer son succès? Il a de la niaque! 

How to explain his success? He is driven!


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

Le filet mignon de porc turned out fine -- if my brother-in-law's behavior was any indication: I watched as Jacques "sauced", or mopped up, the juices from the rectangular glass casserole: there's no better sign of a recipe's réussite.. and watching my beau-frère (who was reared by the best cook in France) finish every last bite is la meilleure récompense for any cook's troubles. 

Seven of us were sitting beneath the mulberry tree, leaning over the picnic table there below, enjoying the late winter sun. If you looked to the ground below us, you'd spy springtime in the dirt: the green tips of bulbs could be seen pushing up, as well as several wheelbarrowfuls of weeds, or what would amount to several wheelbarrows... just as soon as we got to them. For now, it is the vineyard's weeds that are exhausting everyone: just one small parcel in question, but what a great big headache!

More than a headache, Jean-Marc bears white nights and cold sweats, or the emotional and physical torture inherent in organic, or biologique, farming. When he woke up Friday night with what he called "les palpitations", I asked him what was the matter: je crois que c'est une crise de panique.... he guessed, as he sat frozen, legs over the edge of the bed. He'd been to see the doctor for this, and was not too concerned (heart problems having been factored out). Nevertheless, this, along with the cold sweats, left him all the more discouraged.

But the next day, with the help of his jovial crew, one which grew and grew (Jacques and Michel arrived from Avignon), they caught up with work in the vines: whereas they were only one-sixth of the way through Friday's weed-o-thon, by the end of Saturday they had pulled weeds from half of the parcel!

I watched my husband closely, and noticed his spirits were lifting: more than the advance they had won that morning in the vines, he was cheered by the non-stop "blaguing"* coming from his buddies (oh, the French words I learned this weekend... nothing I could share here!). I leave you with photos of the bubbly crew, who made up for the raunchy jokes (mostly told out of the hostesses' ear range) by being perfectly polite and helpful in the kitchen (and they even brought the finest Belgian chocolates to sweeten our mouths -- lest I wash theirs out with Savon de Marseilles!!!).


Capture plein écran 21022011 095238Update!!!  Jean-Marc just learned that he won a gold medal for his Mistral 2009 wine in the Paris Wine Agricultural Fair. Go Chief Grape! You deserve it! May this award help soothe all those emotional aches and pains. And many more thanks go to all who helped pick those grapes, bottle these wines, and pull so many mauvaises herbes. Thank you so very much for such needed support! 

Le Coin Commentaires: Corrections, comments, and stories of your own are most welcome: click here to leave a comment or a note to Jean-Marc. Merci d'avance! 


To see all of the photos and to meet our jovial weed-o-thon crew, click here.

 Meet Jean-Marc in Milwaukee this coming March 10th for a tasting of his wines or later in many other US cities

French Vocabulary

le filet mignon de porc = pork tenderloin

la réussite = success

le beau-frère = brother-in-law

la meilleure récompense = the best reward

je crois que c'est une crise de panique = I think it is a panic attack

blaguer = to joke around, to tell jokes

merci d'avance = thanks in advance

le Savon de Marseille = a famous local soap, good for washing hands -- and even laundry! Buy a bar here, and help to support this French word journal :-)


Murder in passy Cara Black has a new book out! MURDER IN PASSY:

The village-like neighborhood of Passy, home to many of Paris’s wealthiest residents, is the last place one would expect a murder. But when Aimée Leduc’s godfather, Morbier, a policecommissaire, asks her to check on his girlfriend at her home there, that’s exactly what Aimée finds. Xavierre, a haut bourgeois matron of Basque origin, is strangled in her garden while Aimée waits inside. Circumstantial evidence makes Morbier the prime suspect, and to vindicate him, Aimée must identify the real killer. Her investigation leads her to police corruption; the radical Basque terrorist group, ETA; and a kidnapped Spanish princess.

Pick up a copy, here.

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

mauvaise herbe

"Chief Grape". Meet Jean-Marc in DC this coming March 8th for a tasting of his wines or later in many other US cities

mauvaise herbe (moh vayz airb)

    : weed

arracher les mauvaises herbes = to pull weeds

Audio file: (check back later... will update the site this afternoon!)

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

The sun is shining, cutting through the haze that hovers over the field of vines just outside my office window. I've opened the fenêtre to let in some air and, with it, some sounds from the parcel just below. More than to birdsong I am treated to the enchanting chitter-chatter of the vineworkers from a neighboring farm. I hope our own workers will be as jovial this morning.... 

The sun's rays are now hitting my back, warming it completely. It feels almost like le printemps.... Earlier, as I drove Jackie to school, I noticed the amandiers were in bloom, their white blossoms adding a floral pop! to the still hibernating countryside. 

While some, like the almond trees, are coming to life, others are being read their last rites! It's going to be a mean morning for les mauvaises herbes! But justice must be done! After all, they are choking our baby vines! (As many of you know, Chief Grape is lenient on weeds: he'd rather keep them and let the mature vines struggle for water, and, in so doing, strengthen. The alternative (herbicide) is not an option for this gentle farmer. But things are different for the baby vines, which are too weak to hold their own against the weeds. Therefore, this morning certain weeds are meeting defeat!).

Two 'executioners' arrived last night from Belgium, friends of Chief Grape who are already out working in the vineyard. I imagine their feet are sinking into the cold, wet earth. If I squint my eyes, I can just see the men at the end of the field, hunched over one of the knee-high voleurs d'eau, or water thieves. With gloved hands they tug at the thorny weed....

I guess about now--almost two hours into the torturous task of weeding--the men, c-à-d "Erik" and "Olivier", are wondering about the charm of Southern France, wondering what particular spell it had over them, wondering, after all, what Provence has on Brussels (???) -- where the din of city life is beginning to sing to them, chanting melodiously as are the birds in the vineyard trees and the other worker 'bees' who chitchat and work with longtime expertise.

Le Coin Commentaires
Corrections, questions, commentary, and stories of your own are most welcome here in the community corner. P.S.: today I'm making chicken thighs & rice & Provençal tomatoes, salad... but I'll need help with tomorrow's lunch: does anyone have a good (fast, easy!) recipe for pork tenderloin or le filet mignon de porc? We'll have a stomach-smashing gratin dauphinois to go along with it! Please put the recipe or tips in the comments box!


Desherbant I hope you'll have a moment to read this story about an exotic "herb" I found growing in a nearby vineyard... It includes a very embarrasing garden moment! Click here to see it.


 VIDEO: and do not miss this video of Jean-Marc planting his beloved baby vines. The footage always brings tears to my eyes!

French Vocabulary

la fenêtre = window

le printemps = spring, springtime

l'amandier (m) = almond tree

la mauvaise herbe = weed

le voleur d'eau = water thief

c-à-d = c'est-à-dire

Coquilles, etc... ("Typos etcetera")

gagant-gagnant (and not gagné-gagné)

Thank you, Jacqueline, for the gagnant-gagnant correction (from the previous "two hits with one stone" edition). And mille mercis to Newforest, who followed up on Jacqueline's comment. Newforest writes:

---> About the 'win-win' situation: yes, it is indeed "gagnant-gagnant" (from the verb "gagner" = to win)

---> On the other hand, in a 'no-win' situation / 'lose-lose' situation, there are choices, but, unfortunately, there is no benefit and no way of getting anything that works out. This situation, is "perdant-perdant" (from the verb "perdre" = to lose).

---> There is another expression formed in the same way - it is: "donnant-donnant" (from the verb "donner" = to give. This is a 'give-and-take' situation with mutual concessions, compromises and agreements.

jet lag et compagnie...

Newforest added a few vital words to my "décalage horaire" - jet lag translation:

I think "jet lag" should be translated in French by
--> "le syndrome du décalage horaire"

to suffer from jet lag
= souffrir du décalage horaire.
"Je souffre du décalage horaire"/ "je supporte mal le décalage horaire".

A short bio on Newforest, written by fellow comments box buddy "Candy in SW KS"
"Newforest always regales us with great vocab lessons which are informative and fun. "


Mille mercis to those of you who share... in le Coin Commentaires. Don't miss this cozy commmunity corner, which comes to life after the edition goes out. 

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

faire d'une pierre deux coups

carry-on suitcase and golden retrievers
Pictured here: The Welcome-Home Committee... headed by Smokey R. Dokey, left. And that's his mama, Braise (brez, like "Pez"), right. I'd say the Comité de Bienvenue could use a good bath! (Yet one more way for this time-challenged traveler to stay awake during le décalage horaire. Read on!)

faire d'une pierre deux coups

    : to kill two birds with one stone

Audio File: listen to Jean-Marc pronounce this French expression: Download MP3 file

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

It is good to be home! It might be even better to be in bed... but I have learned that when arriving in France in the a.m., one must stay awake well into the p.m.!  else suffer le syndrome du décalage horaire!

One way to keep awake is by keeping up one's French word journal... so I'll tell you about a new expression I learned just this morning, while waiting for my TGV train at the Charles DeGaulle Airport (Terminal 2 is also a train station!):

faire d'une pierre deux coups = to kill two birds with one stone

The French version is so much gentler (no sacrificed birds!) and yet the expression retains all its punch! Speaking of sacrifices, I am putting this "two hits out of one stone" expression to work... by working off this jet lag here on line. In the end, I will have stayed awake for a few more hours... all the while updating this site. So it's a win-win gagnant-gagnant kind of deal. Now to convince my body of this "winning" logic when its internal clock is feeling cheated!

Apart from blogging, I spent some quality catch-up time with Jean-Marc, the kids, and also the dogs, who, I discovered, were covered with olive-size burrs! They had been on more than one vineyard adventure while I was away. It will take several more hours--and a good pair of cutting shears--to free them of their "trophies" -- but this ought to be another fine way to keep awake on this sunny Provençal day.



Smokey Doodle Dribble. A thought bubble might read: "I wonder how many treats are in that carry-on bag? And all for me!" Do you have another thought bubble to add?

Le Coin Commentaires
Corrections, comments, and stories of your own are welcome here, in the comments box.


FYI! Meet Jean-Marc in New York this coming March 7th for a tasting of his wines or later in many other US cities.

French Vocabulary
le Comité de Bienvenue = the welcome-home committee
le syndrome du décalage horaire = jet lag
gagnant-gagnant = win-win 

With my dear Dad, who drove  back from California (with his lovely wife, Marsha). More pictures to come... Read a story about my dad, here.

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

Je T'aime

An "amour" of a dilapidated door, I love you, and a tickle war in today's Valentine's edition. And don't miss photos from our AZ French meet-up!

je t'aime (zheuh tem)

    : I love you


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

Je t'aime is something I've been hearing a lot of lately -- in English. My niece, Reagan, and my nephew, Payne, are fond of saying it to me!

"I love you Aunt Kristi!" they'll call out at the most unexpected times of the day and their declaration never fails to swoop up my heart and carry it off like an exhilarating wave.

"Je vous aime aussi" "I love you, too" I assure my niece and mynephew. And just in case assurance isn't enough... I fall down and brace myself for another guerre de guilis-guilis, or tickle war! 

After the guilis-guilis guerre I warn them: it is time to calm down! My command, hélas, leads not to retreat, and so I am forced to use the "school 'marmy' method": recital. I will recite a list so long that even Sleep herself cannot resist one great Y-A-W-N.

Because it is Valentine's Day, tonight's list will be in theme: 

"French Terms of Endearment". Would you like to read along with us? ... and learn how to say things like Sweetie Pie, My Little Duck, My Dear, and more? Then click here and read on!


This is my niece "Rea-Rea". I am really going to miss her! 

Here's Payne, just back from soccer and with battle bruises to prove it. That's Winston, beside him.

Happy Valentines Day to all and be sure to try out today's expression on someone!

Le Coin Commentaires
Have a correction or a comment to make. Click here to leave a message and thanks in advance!



 We had a fun hike with fellow Francophiles in Phoenix (say that ten times fast!)...

Meet Herm, who helped organize the recent French Word meet-up! More photos to come in the next edition... on Wednesday or Thursday. Check back!

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

A la recherche du temps perdu

                                                   "Jules & Frida."

À la recherche du temps perdu

    : in search of lost time; remembrance of things past*

*One of the English translations to Proust's famous "A la recherche du temps perdu". Have you read it? Pick up a copy, here.

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

In Search of Lost Time

On this journey I had the privilege to get to know my step-dad, who, all these years I misunderstood.

After asking John for his forgiveness, I listened meekly for his reply.

John answered, with a twinkle in his eye.

"Kristi, one thing you will discover about Mexico, is that the expats here are either "Wanted"... or Not Wanted."

With that, John confided, "Something I have learned in life is that everything changes. What's important is to be grateful for every moment."




"Angel Wings". When John presented me with this delicate poncho, I realized I had recovered those lost wings.

This story was written in February 2011. We are sad to say that John passed away on August 7th, 2016. Thank you for taking the time to read the story, HERE


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

Aussi Froid Que Le Cul d'Un Mort

One of these locals taught me a funny expression when, at a local café, she sent back her fried eggs, complaining they were cold as a dead man's butt! So I promised Lulu (left) that today's not-so-French expression would be in her honor...

aussi froid que le cul d'un mort* (oh si fwah keuh leuh kul dun mohr)

: as cold as a dead man's butt

*(and, gosh, I'll be mortified if I didn't get this translation right... after butchering the shoulda coulda woulda French translation...)

PHOENIX Meet-up: click here  for info on Friday's meet-up in the Valley of the Sun.

A Day in a Mexican Life... (by a damned tourist*)

50 Ways to Please Your Mother

Mom and I are tying our shoelaces and tucking pesos into our pockets.
"You don't want to be one of those damn tourists* who stand there counting out change, holding up the driver and the locals." With that, Jules slaps on her hat and shouts, are you ready yet?!

I suspect we are heading out, after all, for that mountain adventure she's been raving about, on our way to dusty jungle paths far from the typical tourist traps... though by now I am content to remain within a half-mile radius of the marina, especially since my stomach never did settle down completely, not since the pre-flight adventure last week.

Oh, Pffft! Mom gestures, and the unimpressed look on her face reminds me that I do not want to be taken for the namby-pamby neurotic that I really am. 

"OK. So what are we going to do?" I wonder, anxiously.

And Mom, as cool as an accomplice, gives me the gist:

"We're just going to get on the bus, Gus."

Le Coin Commentaires
Corrections are helpful and comments are welcome here, in the comments box.



Bel ria dog of war by Sheila Burnford I am currently reading one of Jules's all time favorite books "Bel Ria". I hope you will read along with me. Check out the story of a darling dog in wartime France. Bel Ria by Sheila Burnford. More than a children's book - any grown up would adore reading this. The vocabulary is rich - a wonderful book for a budding or a practicing writer or a Francophile or a history buff or a dog lover... a great read for all. Order a copy here.








From left to right: Teri, Berthe "Bety", Penny, Lulu, Jules, Breezy, Kristin, and Matt, who is a reader of French Word-A-Day and who emailed, inviting Mom and me to hang out with him and his friends.

We ate with the mischievous group here at the marina, where I've been hanging out all week.


Why venture out when characters like these two bring the best of Mexico right to you? 


Teri and Penny are from Portland, OR... and might've been featured at the top of this post... had they come up with a saucier expression than Lulu's (did they not dare to?).

Fun loving Lulu (see her there in the back?) steals the show once more... that's Matt and I, trying with all our might to stay in the spotlight...

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

Arizona meet-up & "Shoulda Coulda Woulda" in French


"Moto Mama." I should have posted this photo a long time ago. More shouldas in the following ramble, below, and an update on the next French Word-A-Day meetup in Phoenix. Read on!
PHOENIX MEET-UP: See info at the end of this post! Scroll down for directions to our next meet-up! 

A Day in a Mexican Life.. by Kristin Espinasse

J'aurais Pourrais Roarais

I should not write these posts far from my desk, far from my dictionnaire.

I should not make up a funny French equivalent for the Anglophone expression Shoulda Woulda Coulda ... nevertheless:

J'aurais Pourrais ROARrais!

I should not tack ROAR onto the end of an almost correct French equivalent, but it is so much more fun to say it that way, so much more exhilarating-- what with the ROAR in it: j'aurais pourrais roarais!

Back to those shoulds woulds coulds, to those AURS POURRS et ROARS... which do not, after all, exist in the mind of a French purist. (I should try to be a French purist... I should I should...)

I should tell you about the people I have met here, while visiting Mom at her home in Mexique...

I should tell you about all the chick magnets (how does one say "chick magnet" in French? Chick magnets: those charismatic characters that cruise this Mexican marina with parrots or rabbits or puppies in their arms and on their shoulders. How we chicks can't resist chickadees and animals of all varieties. 

I should tell you about ma soeur cadette and the surprise visit she paid me. How she did agenda acrobatics with the airline where she works, in time to make it south of the border to bavarder or chat with me. (Thank you, Kelley.) I should show you a photo of her (I should tell you there's one here, at the end of this post - click here). 

I should tell you about the sweethearts, Colette and Abdalla, that Mom and I met that first day on the Malecon (sp?) and about the instant connection... but you can see it for yourself in this photo: 


and here, in this one:


I should share with your their secret to a happy union (because, of course, I was itching to ask them): respect and space! and knowing that a relationship is like the waves... I should go on about this couple who might have been Love incarnate.

I should tell you about Morlis (pictured below), who chased Mom down in time to ask her about her fish purse and how Morlis is our kinda man, one who can appreciate a purse! and I should tell you how Morlis helped Mom up, onto the bus, before the door closed shut and lurched forward, rumbling, jumbling, and bumbling all the way back to the marina and I sat there with my stomach beside me.


I should not forget to mention the man who chased us off the bus, with Mom's purse in hand : "Listen! Listen!" said he, guessing what the English word for "Hey, you forgot this!" might be, and waving the purse, which he returned to us lest we leave it behind.

I should tell you about the Croatian couple whom we met at the bus stop in front of the marina and how they offer bright smiles each time we bump into them - how I wish I knew their names, but didn't want to be intrusive. How touched I am each time they remember us with a sparkle in their eyes. 

I should tell you about the fashion designer, Oded, from Tel Aviv, who reignited Mom's longtime dream: to visit--or, rather, live, in Israel. "You must go! It is only a 4-hour flight from Paris... You will love it there."

I should remember to be here... to be here now... 

I should tell you about how many times I have started and stopped and flopped this post - as I try to type out of my comfort zone (here in a cantankerous cafe where a new acquaintance is just a table away. I chat with the ladies from Toronto and the family new arrivals from New Jersey).

I should stop shoulding and start coulding: I could rest and relax and take a break.... for more than my own -- for everyone's sake :-)

And I should finally remember what I came here for today: to remind all Arizona-based readers of our next meeting place: so please, listen up: the next AZ meetup entitled "The Horizontal Hike" (we're taking any and all pressure off the lazy lizards, such as myself...) will be on Feb 11th (Friday) at 8:30 a.m. I hope you will make it out to see us. Here are the particulars - any questions should be posted in the comments box so that one of us might answer. Again, here's the info:

Phoenix, Arizona Meetup: "The Horizontal Hike"*

8:30 a.m. at Starbucks -- 7th St and Thunderbird.
The address is 13240 N. 7th St.

*wear your tennies or sneakers or hiking boots!

Le Coin Commentaires
Comments, corrections, and stories of your own are welcome and very much enjoyed. Thanks in advance! Click here to leave a message.



Click to enlarge photo ... Finally, I shoulda told you about these guys. Oui, j'aurais pourrais roarais!

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