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Entries from June 2011

fils

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Our Smokey, all grown up now, would like to add: Je suis toujours le fils de mon père. ("Still the son of my father... even if he does live far away, in Marseilles.")

fils (feece) noun, masculine

    : son

C'est bien le fils de son père = he is very much his father's son
être le fils de ses oeuvres = to be a self-made man
le Fils de l'homme/de Dieu = the Son of man/of God
le fils âiné, cadet = the older/younger brother
tel père, tel fils = like father, like son
Know of any other "fils" expressions? Thanks for sharing them in the comments box. 
. 

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

Carry a child and one day he'll carry you

In the geography of child-rearing, there are sacred endroits, or turning points, before which a parent stops, shakes her head, and wipes her teary mirettes. Much as a cartographer does, she will, there on the map of her rugged heart, carefully pencil in these notable landmarks. 

Before our first child was born, I was given one of those "baby memory books". It was sealed with a ribbon and, inside, apart from the journal lines, it had a place in which one could paste the baby photos. Though I had the best intentions, I have always felt terribly guilty for not keeping up with the record books, by noting down every "first" in the life of my children. 

Çela dit, I did have the time to note a few pre-birth impressions, before all that "journaling momentum" that I'd built up flew out the door the moment our fils was born. After that earth-stopping event, it was all I could do to keep track of feedings, diaper changings, and hormones raging (my own; baby blues?).

But a recent "first step" of our son's is something I hope never to forget. Unlike a first tooth, the experience has been a near mystical moment. Indulge me now, will you, as I take up space in this public journal to sketch in an uplifting instant.

June 26, 2011 :  Max, 16 years and 41 days old. On this otherwise ordinary summer evening... our son reached down, picked up his mother and carried her off!

As go mystical moments, everything around the event is either dulled (in comparison) and forgotten, or--quite the opposite--everything around the event is crystal clear! My experience was twofold:

Forgotten were all those "unimportants". I remember walking into Max's room that night. In robot mode, I had been going down my bedtime list: "Max, don't forget to pick up these clothes off the floor. Open your window for some fresh air! Remember to take your asthma and allergy meds. And I know school's out - but don't stay up too late!" With that, I set down my laundry basket, threw out my arms and waited for my favorite moment: le câlin, or hug. It was the only natural, non-automated part of the "tuck-in" schedule.

I still don't know what bit him, but I noticed a magical smile on my son's face as he turned away from his computer. Max's sourire grew and grew until he seemed possessed...  possessed by happiness! In his holey socks, he slid across the wooden floor, over to the door, pulled me into the room.... and swept me off the floor!

Crystal clear now, were the events I'd mourned (having never noted them down): first tooth, first step, first chagrin! The first time he ran away... his first girlfriend!

There stood my son and, with one strong arm beneath my back and the other beneath my dangling legs, I was suspended in midair, held secure in the arms of my firstborn. 

I shrieked as Max began to turn... and spin with me! We twirled round and round, stopping to gasp for air after so much laughter. I could not believe my own son could now carry me! As if sensing my doubt, Max tightened his hold, swooping me up higher and higher! How to describe the experience of that moment when the one you once held up... is now holding you! I felt like a child in my own son's arms, there was that warmth and security, there was that sacred glimpse of eternity!

As we spun round the room, breathless and laughing, all those moments I had failed to record in the baby memory book came back to me. Our son's first swim... his first solo bike ride... his first time behind the wheel, as driver! The privilege was now mine--to review these events, in my son's arms, whirling, literally, with the moment!

I know it was indulgent, this sudden role reversal, but I enjoyed every second. And, looking up into my boy's starry eyes, more than his weary mother, I was a newborn, cherished and adored. Witnessing the reflection in my son's dazzling eyes, I might have even been his prize.

 

Le Coin Commentaires

What about role reversal? It has a negative connotation. But what about the positives? Share your own experience or talk about the other joys of family, and how we sometimes "carry" one another in life. To leave a comment, click here.

 

  Jaxnmaxpainting 017

 Our son, Max... at an age when I could still spin him around! Photo taken 8 years ago. For a recent photo of Max please click here.

French Vocabulary

un endroit = place

les mirettes (f,pl) = eyes, peepers

Çela dit = that being said

le fils = son

le câlin = cuddle, hug

le sourire = smile

 

Tom b
Click to enlarge this photo of a recent winetasting here at our vineyard. Would you, too, like to visit us? Leave a message in the comments box to let me know.

The smiling faces are, from left to right: Bruce, Sandy, Kathy, Dick, Nancy, Dave, Tom, Jean-Marc, Kristin, Bill, Jules, Ann, Janis.

Capture plein écran 20062011 182757
Jean-Marc, I, and Tom.

French shopping bag I Heart Paris Shopper: made of recycled material. 1-Percent of the sale of this bag will support the conservation work of the nature conservancy. Order the I Heart Paris bag here.

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

Sunflowers (c) Kristin Espinasse
One of the photos featured in our Saturday edition "Cinéma Vérité". Find out more about it, and how to help support this free word journal, here. Thank you for your consideration :-)

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One meaning of "host" is "lord of strangers". How's that for mystique? As well, hosting another person is considered, by some, as mystical, even sacred! And guests, in some parts of the world, are considered gods (or angels), who have been sent with messages. That ought to teach us to see visitors in a new light!

How do you feel about hospitality? Are you a thoughtful or absent-minded host? Is hosting something you look forward to or shy away from? Why? What are your best tips for welcoming a guest to your home? Do you offer friends a fold-out couch, or chambre d'amis? Or do you give up your own bed for a weary traveler? For how many days is a guest welcome to stay, chez vous? And what about offering a room to a complete stranger? Thank you for sharing your thoughts, here, in the comments box. Now for today's word:

la chambre d'amis

    : guest room, spare room


A favorite quote written (in English) on the wall of a favorite bookstore in Paris, Shakespeare & Company:

Ne négligez pas de pratiquer l'hospitalité. Car plusieurs, en l'exerçant, ont accueilli des anges sans le savoir. Be not inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise.

Thank you, George Christian, for pointing out that the original quote is from St. Paul's Letter to the Hebrews, Chapter 13, verse 2:
.

    Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers,
    for by doing that some have entertained angels
    without knowing it.

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

Lord of Strangers

When a friend offered a room for us to stay in, on Saturday, her son's wedding night, I wondered if my husband had not dropped a hint first.

"Are you sure you didn't say anything? You didn't tell Anne-Marie we were having difficulty finding lodging nearby?"
"No," Jean-Marc insisted. "I think she has reserved rooms for many of the wedding guests."

This was another concern, and so I voiced it: "But the groom's mother has other things to do than to worry about where we will stay! We can't trouble her with this detail!"

"Don't worry! I think Anne-Marie has rented a grange next-door, and we will be in a studio there."

My mind immediately conjured up a B&B, or a kind of rural gîte, and I pictured several chambre d'hôtes. I began warming to the idea of accepting another's kind offer. This was, after all, la campagne, and there were, beside vineyards, many old farmhouses that doubled as hotels. As long as we wouldn't be putting anybody out... and as long as we wouldn't be staying chez elle, with Anne-Marie, where there must be enough activity already, what with the wedding preparations.

When Jean-Marc and I drove up to the neighbor's lodge to get a key to our room, I noticed we were entering some sort of equestrian park. There were a few beautifully manicured arenas and neat stables at the top of the drive, beside a newly planted oliveraie. I figured that the owners had two businesses: rooms for rent and horse riding lessons. Speaking of the owners, there they were now, walking toward the car to greet us, along with three barking dogs (two Jack Russells and an épagneul).

The couple was striking; the woman might have been a sosie of Katharine Hepburn and, from her energetic manner, she seemed to share the same character. I watched as she signaled, briskly, for us to pull up closer to the garden gate. We rolled down the window in order to hear her instructions. "A little closer. There you are. Just mind the dogs (she pointed to the small Jack Russells), who have a tendency to slip under the tires!"

Jean-Marc got out and shook the our hosts' hands. I waited in the car, figuring that the lodge owners must have received many of the wedding guests by now. We would simply collect our key to the studio and be on our way to the wedding dinner.

When the greeting lingered I realized I needed to get out of the car and say hello."Why don't you have a look at the room?" the couple offered.

Jean-Marc and I collected our bags and followed the woman up a dirt path, onto a small patio, and into what seemed to be a private home. We passed by the kitchen, and walked through an informal living room. Gesturing toward the hallway, our hostess pointed out the home's private quarters: "This is where we stay," she said, referring to herself and her husband. On the way down the stairs, she warned us to "mind the bannister," which was wobbly.

On the lower level, the tour continued. "And this is the buanderie," she said, pointing to the closed door beside our room. I appreciated her taking the time to reveal this room, as I might have wondered, through the night, just who or what was behind that door. 

"And here is your bathroom." Again, more rooms were thoughtfully pointed out, so that we were familiar with our surroundings. This is when it occurred to me that we were the only people she was lodging. What Jean-Marc had guessed to be a many-roomed B&B was really one room in a private home. We had been in similar one-room-only B&B's, though I had never travelled through so many private spaces to get to the chambre d'hôte....

Once in our room we were given a few tips: "There are mosquito nets on the bathroom window, feel free to leave it open for some fresh air. Help yourself to the shampoo... and there are fresh towels and gants. I heard the concern in our hostesse's voice. It was clear that she wished us comfort. "Beware! In the morning, this one (here she pointed at one of the Jack Russells) might run in and pounce on your bed! The little Jack Russell's antics broke the ice and we felt more at home than ever.

"Is there anything else you might need? How about an extra pillow?"

"Oh, no, thank you! This is just perfect!" I thought to tell her that we would be back very late. Given that this was a French wedding, chances were we'd return in the early morning hours. 

"Pas de souci. I will be here, in my bathrobe," she chuckled, "to let you in". With that, our hostess offered another welcoming smile. "Don't worry, I will hear you -- the dogs are sure to bark. Oh, and sleep as late as you like. And when you wake up you might like to go for a swim," she said, pointing out the pool area.

True to her word our hostess greeted us at 2 a.m., our presence being announced by a trio of yapping dogs.

"Hey-oh! Taisez-vous!" she warned the dogs and she guided us to the front porch, lest we miss a step in the dark night. Passing by the kitchen, she reached for a bottle of cold water for us and, at the top of the stairs, she wished us a good rest. I hoped she had had a little rest of her own, but imagined she must have waited up for us.

Several hours later we awoke to the screeching of cicadas and the early morning heat of summertime. The bright sun filtered into the room from an opening along the sage green shutters. I could hear commands out in the garden and wondered if the hostess was taking care of the animals.

We appreciated all of the items left for us in the bathroom--including a comb!--for we had forgotten our trousses de toilette. And we were careful to share one towel, not wanting to trouble our hostess with more washing, after the sheets that she'd need to change from one nuitée.

At breakfast, in the cozy kitchen-living room area, we were joined by our hosts, who I imagined had been waiting dans les parages, or in the wings, for us. Over coffee, croissants, and fresh peaches from their verger, I learned a little more about this gracious couple. Horses are their passion, not their business. The beautiful stables and arena are for their pleasure, which they take on the weekend after a hectic week in the city, where each is kept busy Monday through Friday with a demanding work schedule.

I realized, then, that this couple had only their weekends to enjoy their horses and to care for their property. We didn't want to take any more of their time, and so we finished our coffees, savored a little bit more enriching conversation, and returned to "business mode" -- by asking for l'addition.

"But you owe us nothing!" the woman assured us. And, on seeing our hesitation, she clarified, "I am doing a favor for my friend," she said, referring back to the groom's mother, "by offering a room for someone in need."

It finally dawned on me that Jean-Marc and I were the strangers in need...

Suddenly another's generosity and humility deeply touched me. I thought about all the little comforts the couple had thoughtfully provided us, right down to the earplugs and the eye-mask on the nightstand! How their morning had been interrupted, so as to be present when we woke up, not knowing whether that would be at nine or at noon! In my mind's eye I saw the couple rushing home from work to get the room in order and to make sure there would be something for breakfast.

Jean-Marc was equally touched. "But, we don't even have a bottle of wine with which to thank you!" he said. 

"It is our pleasure!" our hostess assured us. And, just in case we were feeling indebted, she offered: "It is a honor to help another in need. I am sure you would do the very same."

These words echoed in my mind as we drove off, in a cloud of gratitude, touched by the kindness of strangers, who we risked never to see again. We were left with only a lesson: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Could it be that simple? These "others" sure made it seem so.

***

Post note: I doubt our hôtes are reading, but just in case: MERCI BEAUCOUP!!!

Le Coin Commentaires

The meaning of "host" can be read, according to Wikipedia, as "lord of strangers". What does hospitality mean to you? Is it your strength or weakness? What are your best tips for welcoming a guest to your home? Do you have a guest room, or chambre d'amis? Or do you give up your own bed for your guests. Will you be hosting over-nighters this summer? What about offering a room to a complete stranger, as our gracious hosts did? Comments are welcome here, in the comments box.

French Vocabulary

une grange = a barn (sometime re-structed into living quarters)

le gîte = self-catering cottage

la chambre d'hôte = room in a B&B

le gant de toilette = wash cloth

taisez-vous! =quiet down!

la campagne = country

une oliveraie = olive grove

un épagneul,e = spaniel

le sosie = one's double

la buanderie = laundry room

la trousse de toilette = makeup bag, travelling necessities case

la nuitée = (tourism) night (ex: deux nuitées = two night's stay in hotel)

le verger = orchard

l'addition = the bill

 

DSC_0037
Mama Braise, teaching three of her six pups a lesson in hospitality: "There is always room for another!" Mama Braise says. "And, remember, warm affection not perfection!" Photo taken in 2009. Read some puppy stories!

Exercises in French Phonics Exercises in French Phonics is... 
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"useful and practical"
"high quality material, good value for your money" --from Amazon customer reviews. Order your copy here.

French shopping bag I Heart Paris Shopper: made of recycled material. 1-Percent of the sale of this bag will support the conservation work of the nature conservancy. Order the I Heart Paris bag here.

 

***

Corrections?
To report any spelling, grammar, or other errors in this edition, thank you for using the comments box, here

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


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

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alea

DSC_0014
The lavender is deep in bloom. This field was spotted yesterday, on the way home from Malou's garden.

aléa (al ay ah) noun, masculine

    : risk, hazard, chance

les aléas du métier = the risks of the trade
les aléas de la vie = the vagaries of life
après bien des aléas = after many ups and downs
les aléas thérapeutiques = unforeseeable medical complications

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's word and expressions: Download MP3 or Wav file

 

  Exercises in French Phonics Exercises in French Phonics is... 
" a great book for learning French pronunciation"
"useful and practical"
"high quality material, good value for your money" --from Amazon customer reviews. Order your copy here.

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

New Life for an Old Hive

"Your mailman must love you!" Mom snickered, a few weeks back, on discovering our homemade bôite aux lettres. 

I laughed at Jules' comment, then quickly returned one item to the top of my Worry List: our mailbox! We really needed to find another solution! My husband had had one of his inspirations, this time to repurpose an old beehive into a postbox. All Jean-Marc needed to do was empty out the inside of an abandoned ruche and then block the entrance (to discourage any stinging "squatters"!). The mail could then be distributed via the top of the wooden box. A rough metal lid was salvaged and, voilà!, our new mailbox was good to go. Chief Grape added yet another of his no-nonsense touches by taping a computer print-out (with our family and vineyard name) across the front. Presto!, we were now legitimate letter candidates.

DSC_0021

Still and all, or tout compte fait, I had my doubts. It wasn't that the paper address "plate" faded (running off in great blue and red rivulets, following the first tempête de pluie...). It was, among other inconvénients, the metal top, which was awkward and ill-fitting. One needed to wriggle it and pull (as one does a well-rooted tooth) to access the letters inside. And returning the couvercle back to the wooden box entailed a few slams of the fist.

I was doubtful this approach would please the busy facteur, but we carried on with our new courrier-system and the letters did arrive....

Then one day I looked inside an empty box. The top had flown off! I searched around only to discover that our mail had been distributed not by the facteur -- but by le Mistral! The northern wind had swooped in and carried off with it the ill-fitted lid-top along with the contents inside the mailbox. I ran around the vineyard, up and down the vine rows--hair flying in the wicked wind--hoping to collect all the letters. As for the bills....

The mailbox artisan (Chief Grape) was not one bit ruffled by the wind's shenanigans. He simply added a no-nonsense safeguard: stones! All we were to do now was to wrestle the lid back onto the box, slam it a few times with our fists, then set two giant stones across the flat metal top.

DSC_0028
       (One of the stones. It sometimes takes three, depending on the wind!)

"Stone" rhymes with "groan"...

Most normal people experience that tickle of hope each time they reach for their mailbox--never mind that it is usually bills on the other side of the slot. There's always the chance that a real letter awaits -- or a winning voucher of some sort (one can always dream!). Often, family members will argue about who will have the honor of checking the mailbox. Not our brood. All you hear is groans:

"A toi de le chercher (You get it!)"
"But I got it last time! (C'était moi la dernière fois!")"
"Bon, j'y vais! (Alright. I'll get it, then!)"

As for our unlucky mailman, he has no one to argue with. It is his chore to remove the mailbox "weights", set the stones on the ground, wriggle open the stubborn metal lid, drop the mail into the box (brave any stinging squatters), return the lid--with a few pounds of the fist), bend over and pick up the heavy galets, and return them to the box-top.... 

Oh, well, Chief Grape Mailbox Artisan might say, c'est ce qu'on appèle les aléas du métier! 

 

Le Coin Commentaires

Have you ever "repurposed" or given new life to an ol' something and been pleased with the results? Are you a DIY person or do you have the luck (or bad luck...) to have a determined inventor at home? Do you like to check the mail and do you still feel hopeful (or dread-filled) each time you do? Comments and anecdotes welcome here.

 

DSC_0036 French Vocabulary


la boîte aux lettres = mailbox

la ruche = (bee) hive

voilà! = and there you have it!

presto! = 'voilà!)

tout compte fait = still and all

la tempête de pluie = rainstorm 

un inconvénient = drawback, disadvantage

le couvercle = lid

le facteur = mailman, postman

c'est ce qu'on appèle les aléas du métier! = it's what we call the ups and downs of the trade!

. 

 

Sara midda's South of France: a sketchbook Sara Midda's South of France is a place of ripening lemons and worn espadrilles, ochre walls and olive groves, and everything born of the sun. It lies between the Mediterranean and the Maritime Alps, and most of all in the artist's eye and passion. Read the glowing reviews, click here.

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

Eiffel Tower Cookie Cutter -  handcrafted by artisans to last for generations. Order here.

 

 

 

 

 

DSC_0013
Keep your camaras in your pockets, on your belts, and in your purses! Here's another tip: PULL OVER! The biggest mistake I make, time and again, is to let the scenes pass me by. As I drive on, now 100 meters, now one kilometer past the image, I am kicking myself for not reacting quickly enough - by pulling over or doing a U-turn in time to capture a scene. Yesterday, on the way to Malou's house, I let this scene go (another car was tail-gaiting me, besides!)... but I caught up with the image on the way home! Never be a danger to another driver, but do search for a large enough shoulder on which to pull over. This time I had my Nikon D60 (for a better price check out this one), but any camera can take a good photo... with a scene like this!

 

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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effrayeur

pink, red, hollyhocks, rose tremiere rhone vineyard france domaine rouge-bleu

effrayer (eh fray yay)

    : to scare, to frighten

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

The Night Shift

When wine sales took Jean-Marc out of town for a few nights this week, Jackie came to bunk with me. Monday night we lie there, one of us sniffing, the other, legs reeling. We were a tortured duo, with, between us, a stuffed nose and RLS, or "le syndrome des jambes sans repos".

"Let's try and fall asleep fast!" I suggested to my daughter. And, luckily, we did.

When next I woke the room was very quiet and I noticed my daughter was breathing easy. What, then, had awakened me? I recalled a vague thudding -- a kind of sky-wide soufflement. I could just hear the tail end of it. I listened in... only, the more I strained, the further it fell, off leaving but an echo in my mind.

What had it been? Had it indeed been? I got up to go to the bathroom and think about things. I remembered my dream: I had been admiring the hollyhocks, especially this year's prize: a black beauty! I could see her now, twirling... twirling in the wind! Was it le vent, after all, that had roused me, catching with it the tail end of my dream - was that the sound: a swirling, then?

Because "swirling" brought to mind more than saucer-shaped hollyhocks... I hurried back to bed and disappeared under la couette.

"Qu'est-ce que c'était?" Jackie mumbled. So she, too, had heard it? Then it wasn't a dream!

"It was nothing!", I snapped. Then, softer, "Go back to sleep, Chou." I wished Jean-Marc were here to say the same to me.

Very quietly, I turned to spy out the window, not sure of wanting to discover the source of this drôle de bruit. It didn't seem human. It wasn't a car of thieves creeping up the lone driveway, here in the middle of vine-land. And I had not just heard the propellers (that swirling soufflement!) of a mere helicopter - though the noise did sound propellers-like... it was a thudding sound. Yes! A great thudding!

My eyes quickly scanned the countryside. A luminous, quiet field where even the insects and the crapauds were asleep beneath the moon's beam.

I cowered there, beneath the covers, too afraid to even pray. What if, after all, it was God who had come to visit? What use would prayer be... in the direct presence of divinity?! 

As if by response the sound picked up, whirring lightly in the distance. Was it coming back? I turned toward my daughter, my back now to the window. I listened for its approach. "It" or -- that sound -- was a haunting entity in itself! No creature in film, no ghost in a novel could compete with the frayeurs "It" was causing me!

Le bruit began to move across the sky like a strobe light. Would it find me? It sounded like a great, motorized street-washer vehicle, gliding by - taking with it the unwanted, the rejected, the broken. I imagined some sort of heavy craft. Not a watercraft... and that left only one possibility!

Just as I began to consider flying saucers (and hadn't those been saucer-flowers in my dream?) the noise enlivened just outside my window and I braced myself for Its approach.

I suddenly remembered the military that I had seen last week! While out watering the reddening pommes d'amour, I spied a tank rolling down the country road. I could just make it out, amid the green leafy vine rows! I saw men dressed in camouflage, helmets on their heads and guns in their arms. Machine guns? What for?! I had seen them in town earlier this week, but dismissed any threat as "military training". 

Could there, now, be a connection between the roving tanks and this strange and eerie sound? The sky-thuttering was getting closer and closer....

In one last hopeful quest, I looked out the window to the great leafy mulberry. Surely it was the wind - it was the great Mistral that was messing with me! Only, not one leaf on the tree was moving! And the field below was entirely still.

My heart beat softly, too afraid that any loud thumping might give it away. Listening to the approach of something otherworldly, I understood my human insignificance. Had my husband been there with his great arms around me, even then we would be nothing against the thuttering sky and its vaste sea... There was nothing to do but to feel the terror wash over me.

When the risk of paralyzing fear became greater than whatever was lurking out there, I jumped up, threw open the windows and searched for "the unknown".

And there, in the vine field below, I saw it. A revolving light! The huge branches of the oak tree camouflaged most of the craft, but there it was, unmistakable! Not a watercraft, not a spacecraft, it was, there before my eyes, an oh-so-familiar tractor craft.

I shook my head in sincere appreciation (and relief!). Bravo! Bravo! I clapped softly, giddily. Little did he know, the nocturnal grapes farmer, that he had just created the most brilliant horror show. With that, I closed the windows and the proverbial curtains went down.

P1030128
Click to enlarge image.

***

Post note: What I feared was a "close encounter" had been no more than the whirling, thudding sound of a sulfateur - a tractor-extension the blows out a blueish coppery mist over the vine rows, treating them against disease. Though the sound is a familiar one to me, I did not recognize it at 1:52 a.m.! I guess, like a familiar face out of place, a sound "out of time" has the same effect: we forget our connection to it.

On a further note, it just goes to show that a farmer's work is never done! And, given the canicular, or "dog days" weather, it sure makes sense to work in the cool of night. 

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Le Coin Commentaires

Have you ever scared yourself stiff? What were the circumstances? Tell us about your fears and effrayeurs here in the comments box. Other uses for the comments box: ask questions, respond to other bits of info within today's letter or beyond it (the news, etc).You might also announce a local French meet-up... Thank you for making this community corner an educational, a helpful, and an interesting one. Click here to read or to participate.

 

French Vocabulary

le syndrome des jambes sans repos = restless leg syndrome (RLS)

un soufflement = a blowing

le vent = wind

la couette = quilt or down comforter

Qu'est-ce que c'était? = What was it?

chou (chouchou) = sweetie

un drôle de bruit = an odd noise

le crapaud = toad

la frayeur = fright

la pomme d'amour = "love apple" (synonym for "tomato")

Mom's Frida Kahlo cape
"Les Anges". Angels. I love this photo of Mom (right) and one of our wine 'importatrice's, Phyllis! Have time for another French word or story or photo? Why not check out the French Word-A-Day archives, here.

Capture plein écran 16052011 092531

The classic Bescherelle, the complete guide to French verb conjugation. Read the five-star reviews, and order, here.

Blue pie dish 2   

A French standby. Strong, durable, all Emile Henry cookware can be taken directly from the freezer to the hot oven, can go under a broiler and in the microwave; freezer and dishwasher safe. The natural clay is unsurpassed for conducting and retaining heat. Color choices: blue or red. Order here.

 

 

L'Occitane Hand Cream Honey, almond and coconut oil are blended with Shea Butter to create this unique and extremely effective moisturizer.Read the reviews.

 

 

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


glander

A View with A Room (c) Kristin Espinasse

A good place to glander... in a cozy room, flowers on the windowsill. Photo taken in Villedieu sometime last fall. 

glander (glahn day)

    : to loaf about, to do nothing (especially when you should be working)

Example Sentence
  On se sent un peu coupable quand on glande, n'est-ce pas?
  We feel a little guilty when we loaf about, don't we?
. 

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

Verbs in a 16-year-old Boy's Life

The following words will help catch us up on a few goings-on in a young Frenchman's life. I'm jotting them down now, via these verbs, in case my future mind conjugates the memories into fleeting units.  

Conduire

Conduire, or "to drive". Though I haven't written about it, Max is learning to drive via la conduite accompagnée. Living in the country has never had more perks than this: the ubiquitous wide-open country roads - perfect for practicing behind the wheel! But no matter how empty the roads are around here, a mother's heart still flutters like a country butterfly at every road bend. 

Rêvasser

Rêvasser, or "to daydream" - Max is dreaming about the future and yesterday morning he mentioned joining the Air Force! I had to speed-dial his grandfather on Father's Day to tell him the latest -- and to mention that his Air Force captain's shirt now fits Max to a T. (Now, will he choose the French Armée de l'Air or the American Air Force, should he follow his latest dream?) Update: Max would like to join the American Air Force....

Piocher

Piocher, or "to pickax" - Mr. Max planted seven willow trees (gifts from Dirt Diva Malou, who, along with Dirt Diva Doreen, is helping us camouflage an eyesore of a concrete fence).  Max still has cloques, or blisters, to show for his work driving that pickax, or pioche, into the cementlike ground. (That ought to teach the poor guy to wear a pair of gants!)

Glander

Glander, or "to loaf about" - (I think this is on Max's list of things to do, or "choses à faire"...) meantime...

Bosser!

Bosser, or "to work" - Our son is helping a lot with farm work... pulling weeds within the vine rows, helping to tidy up the cave, or cellar, and, his favorite, tasting some of the wines! He tells me his dad is paying him le SMIC (or was that le SMIG, with a "g": minimum wage, or what he would call, the minimum of minimum wage or le bas de SMIC/G!). ...And who wouldn't mind earning minimum wage for wine tasting?! Seriously, giving credit to Max, there is very little dégustation going on around here - and a lot of grueling weeding instead!

Speaking of work, this is our chance to share some very good news. Jean-Marc (alias "Chief Grape") has received another mention for his wines!!! Click on the image, below, to read the fine print and thanks again for all of your support in getting the word out on his Domaine Rouge-Bleu reds and rosés!
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Le Coin Commentaires The Comments Corner

What are some of the verbs in this season of your own life? Here are a few of mine: jardiner or "to garden", adorer, or "to love" (just watched and loved this film!), souhaiter, to wish (a very Happy Father's Day to all the pères out there!), and, finally, poireauter, or "to wait around a long time", patiently, for the fruits of daily effort to appear after all these years. There are little glimmers here and there, and doesn't this keep us following our dreams? Click here to comment.

Wine spectator
French Vocabulary

la coinduite accompagnée = driving as a learner, assisted by an experienced driver

le gant = glove

la dégustation = tasting (wine), sampling (cheese)

le SMIC = Salaire Minimum Inter-Professionel de Croissance

    => also: le smicard (la smicarde) = minimum wage earner

le SMIG = Salaire Minimum Inter-Professionel Garanti

DSC_0043
I forgot to make Mom these red peppers! Ever since Jean-Marc made them for her (in Marseilles, so many summers ago), they have been one of her favorites. 

Chief Grape's Roasted Peppers:

Take 3 or 4 red peppers (or mix, using green and yellow peppers). Put them in a baking dish, then into a piping hot oven. When peppers begin to blister or the skin blackens, shut off the oven and let the poivrons sweat. (Tip, cook them in the evening, then leave them to sweat overnight). When the peppers are cool, cut them open, scoop out the seeds, and reserve the juices in a bowl (adding half a cupful of olive oil). Chop up the peppers and add to the olive oil mixture. Add more oil, if needed, to cover the peppers. Add salt, pepper, pressed garlic, and herbs. Add fresh basil, if you like, or parsley. Delicious on crackers and bread, and a tasty accompaniment to grilled fish and barbecue. Leftovers are good in quiche, in this Provençal tomato tart, or in this olive cake!

Serve with a glass of Domaine Rouge-Bleu rosé :-) 

 

P1030122
"Love ya, Baby!" (Je t'aime bébé). In my day we celebrated the last days of school by signing each others yearbook (or we might sign a T-shirt, if we felt risky). How times have changed! (Pictured, our 13-year-old daughter, Jackie). And, yes, bra straps are still "in".

And now for the best photo tip in the whole wide world (and it's no secret so let this be a reminder): Always, always have a camera on hand! For this reason, pocket cameras are ideal! Here is the one I use daily.

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                    La sauge, or sage, from the garden. Thanks, Dirt Divas!

French shopping bag I Heart Paris Shopper: made of recycled material. 1-Percent of the sale of this bag will support the conservation work of the nature conservancy. Order the I Heart Paris bag here.

Check out the latest prices for Kindle, click here and consider ordering today! Your purchase helps support this free language journal. Merci beaucoup!

 

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


ble

Wheat Farm (c) Kristin Espinasse
Forget bluegrass - have you ever listened to a field of wheat? (photo taken in Orange)

le blé (blay)

    : wheat

le blé is also slang for "dough" (cash, moola)

la farine de blé = wheat flour
le blé dur = durum wheat
le champ de blé = wheatfield or cornfield
le blé noir = buckwheat 

Check out the latest prices for Kindle, click here and consider ordering today! Your purchase helps support this free language journal. Merci beaucoup!

 

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

The Sound of Wheat

The morning Mom left I fought the urge to crawl right back into bed. I might have slept all day, behind closed shutters, in a room as dark as a smarting heart. I didn't dare "go there"; instead, there was work to do including stories to write and beds to make. Besides, who could sleep with all the racket outside the bedroom window?

I tuned into the sounds filtering in from the countryside, where the grapevines are so full of leaves you can no longer see the ground beneath their green canopy. Rising from those mysterious depths was a familiar buzz one hears only in summertime: les cigales. They were awake now... only, much too late for Mom to enjoy their song! What should have been an exciting event--the first cicadas of the season!!!--left me feeling even more saddened. What a dirty trick played by the trilling "tree crickets"! They might have had la courtoisie to appear one day earlier in time to tickle a dear mother's ears!

Following Mom's departure, it took a forced change of perspective to set a despondent daughter back on track and, finally, I had an inspiration: Wasn't that, after all, a clever way for Jules to exit: on the wings of cicada song!

In the spirit of changing perspective--and not letting a sunken heart color reality--I headed out to do some errands and discovered that the technicolor world outside my door was still intact.

There was that field of bright yellow tournesols, just outside the town of Orange... yet another first of the season.  I regretted not pulling over to snap a picture of so many sunny faces... perhaps I would get back to it?

And there was that roadside fruit stand--a one-woman show featuring a grandmother, a rickety old bagnole, and a trunk filled with abricots à gogo! It was a little too late to stop for those and so I sped on by....

After finishing errands I found myself rushing home and wondering about that change-of-perspective that I had set out on... what was the good of intention when, in the end, you were not willing to stop, and and look, and taste, and listen! I'd missed the cicadas, I'd missed the sunflowers, I'd missed the rickety trunk of apricots!

In a whirl of regret, I was struck by a brightness entering into my car from the side. I turned to its source... in time to gaze at un champ de blé.

Pulling off the side of the road I lowered the car window and wondered: Have you ever listened to a field of wheat? Stick your ears out now, écoute!, the sound is gloriously "sizzling"!

I sat silently, letting the melody of wheat, along with the lazy, late-spring breeze, envelop me. Earlier, I had rushed right on by the other splendors of the countryside, and here was my chance....

P1020898

Cars sped by but it was the wheat that now captured my eyes. I could just see the braided wheat tips crowned by those bleached feathery locks. Each blade of wheat might have been a soulful singer and an endless field made for a mesmerizing chorus! I shook my head in appreciation. And I asked once again, Have you never listened to the sound of wheat?

P1020894

Le Coin Commentaires
Not everyone has the chance to live near a field of grass. But many other mind-altering melodies surround us. Share some of your favorite sounds with us, now. Which are relaxing? Which lift your spirits? Birds or frogs or a streaming river or the bumpings of its traveling logs? A child's sleepy breathing or a co-worker's joyful hum? Thanks for sharing your thoughts here, in the comments box.

Post note: I did go back to that apricot stand, and I regret not taking the time to tell you about the roadside sampling in which strangers stood side-by-side slurping juicy fruit and letting its juices trickle down their forearms - all the way to their elbows and their toes.

Why not forward today's word and story to a friend? Or sign up someone someone for a free French Word-A-Day  

French Vocabulary

la cigale = cicada

la courtoisie = courtesy

le tournesol = sunflower

la bagnole = car (jalopy)

un abricot = apricot

à gogo = galore

un champ = a field

de blé = of wheat

écoute! = listen! 

P1020590
I meant to record every new flower in the garden... Never too late to pick up here with the first black hollyhock. I had wished for one for a long time! 

    French shopping bag I Heart Paris Shopper: made of recycled material. 1-Percent of the sale of this bag will support the conservation work of the nature conservancy. Order the I Heart Paris bag here.

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. Click on the previous, underlined link, to discover many more French films!

  P1010748

Smokey (here, headed for the river) sends his best regards and would like to humbly suggest that his photo be updated more often. See a cute baby picture here!

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


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

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


canon

DSC_0026
A lesson in adjectives: windows are "charmante", women are "canon". You wouldn't say a window is canon, but you could say a woman is charmante. Read on and learn about the French art of complimenting. Photo taken this week in Orange (Vaucluse).

canon [kah noh(n)]

    : gorgeous

There are other senses of the word.. for today we'll focus on the one above

elle/il est canon = she/he's gorgeous
les canons de la beauté = canons of beauty 

Audio File: listen to today's French word and phrase: Elle est canon Download MP3 or Wav

Check out Easy French Reader: A fun and easy new way to quickly acquire or enhance basic reading skills. Click here to order.
. 

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

How to Compliment a Frenchwoman

Mom and I are in the village pharmacy, having made a beeline here from the doctor's office. We're in luck when one of the three counter stations instantly opens. We step up to the comptoir and I hand over the scribbled ordonnances.

As the pharmacist studies the doctor's prescriptions, Mom studies the pharmacist and when the latter turns and disappears into the stock room Mom is breathless. "My God. She's beautiful!"

"I know," I respond, matter-of-factly.

"She looks as though she could walk right out of this vineyard town... and onto the big screen!" Mom is wowed.

"Did you see her hair?" Mom continues, and I recall the thick brown boucles that fall to the pharmacist's waist.

"Chestnut-colored," I guess.

"With golden highlights!" Mom corrects. "And not a stitch of makeup. She is a classic beauty -- like Audrey Hepburn--only, she must be 5'11!"

"I know, Mom. She is gorgeous." I conclude.

"Well, haven't you ever told her that?"...

I think about the pharmacist -- she is what the French would classify as canon. If she is this beautiful... chances are she is the last one to have heard about it. After all, the French do not dish out compliments as the folks back home do--at least not to strangers. But this isn't to say that they do not praise one another, or strangers--they just do so discreetly, almost imperceivably.

How to explain this to my mom, who is poised to shower compliments just as soon as the pharmacist returns? Mom has already done the impossible (by reaching for those chestnut curls! I can't believe she ran her fingers through the pharmacist's hair, as a mother would her own daughter!).

"Mom, the French are..." (and here I pause to find the correct word...) "...the French are a little reserved that way!"

Mom is not impressed with this latest French-etiquette lesson, which is quickly dismissed, and, by the time the pharmacist returns, I feel the need to explain the goggle-eyed woman to my right. If I don't say something right away, Mom will say it for me--in her own extravagant way.

And so I blurt it out. "Ma mère pense que vous êtes magnifique!"

As if Mom could understand my French (which she cannot) she looks at me expectantly, until I've coughed up the entire compliment:

"...et c'est vrai!"

Were we French, Mom and I would have waited until the pharmacist walked off and, while she was still within earshot, we would have let her hear our admiring thoughts: qu'est-ce qu'elle est belle cette fille! Elle est charmante!

Though we have yet to master the French art of complimenting, our Mom-thinks-this approach seemed to have the same effect... and that palpable French reserve that I had so often felt began to break a little bit in time to soften or melt.
. 

Le Coin Commentaires
The Comments Corner 

What is the most memorable compliment you have ever received? Conversely, what is most recent compliment that you have given someone? If you admire a stranger, do you tell them? Have you ever received a odd response after praising someone? Click here to comment.

French Vocabulary

le comptoir = counter

une ordonnance = prescription

une boucle = curl

Ma mère pense que vous êtes magnifique! = My mother thinks you are magnificent

Qu'est-ce qu'elle est belle cette femme! = She is so beautiful, this woman!

Elle est charmante! = She is charming!

DSC_0106
Everyone thinks their mom is canon - and I, especially so! Sorry for the dark image (I should have used the camera flash!). This photo of Mom, aka Jules, was taken just this morning, before she left on her 24-hour voyage home to Mexico! Here she is readjusting her turtleneck (earlier, she had on a camisole beneath her Frida cape! I told her to cover up - because I know she gets cold on airplanes).

 

Capture plein écran 20052011 094508

The Greater Journey is the enthralling, inspiring—and until now, untold—story of the adventurous American artists, writers, doctors, politicians, architects, and others of high aspiration who set off for Paris in the years between 1830 and 1900, ambitious to excel in their work.

After risking the hazardous journey across the Atlantic, these Americans embarked on a greater journey in the City of Light. Most had never left home, never experienced a different culture. None had any guarantee of success. That they achieved so much for themselves and their country profoundly altered American history.

Order The Greater Journey here.

 

  French shopping bag I Heart Paris Shopper: made of recycled material. 1-Percent of the sale of this bag will support the conservation work of the nature conservancy. Order the I Heart Paris bag here.

Check out the latest prices for Kindle, click here and consider ordering today! Your purchase helps support this free language journal. Merci beaucoup!

 

 

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


badinage

petit bateau pointu (c) Kristin Espinasse

le badinage (bah dee nazh)

    : bantering, repartee

Also: badin, badine (adj: lighthearted, playful) and badiner (to banter, to jest)

sur un ton de badinage = in a bantering, or jesting, tone
Je ne badine pas! = I'm not joking! 

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

Le badinage ou la taquinerie - c'est bon pour la santé!
Bantering and teasing - it's good for one's health! 

 

Capture plein écran 06062011 070826

The Most Beautiful Walk in the World: A Pedestrian in Paris

“One of the smartest nonfiction titles for summer reading ... Baxter tracks both the city’s history and the many celebrated figures who have savored the art of walking in one of the world’s most beautiful capitals.” (Christian Science Monitor ). See the reviews, and order the book here.

 

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

Le Badinage Prolongs Life!

My mother, my son, and I are sitting in la salle d'attente. Mom needs a refill on her medication, Max needs a refill on his prescriptions for asthma and allergies, and I need a booster shot. Doubtful, I open my purse and root through its contents, checking to make sure that I have brought along with me the vaccine. In France, one brings one's pre-filled syringe (sealed and packaged) with one to the doctor - a requirement that still seems outlandish to me. 

Next, I reach up and pat my arm to make sure the EMLA patch (which looks like a big Band-Aid with a creamy, medicated disk in the center) is working. Poking again and again at the patch, I am uncertain. "Strange... my arm doesn't feel numb..." I say to my mom.

I notice that rascally gleam in Mom's eyes that tells me she is about to take this latest whinging -- and run with it. And all it takes is an emphatic "PFFFFT!" for me to understand her feelings about the prissy patch. After having two breasts removed (one in France, the other in Mexico) and a steel plate put into her leg, Jules is not going to let me get away with fretting over a mamsy-pamsy piqûre. Indeed, the woman who pulled out her own troubled tooth while deep in the jungle of Mexico is not going to give too much sympathy to her over-protected daughter.

In my defense I point out that it was the doctor who offered to prescribe the numbing patch, that it wasn't anything I requested. But any explanations were met with rolled eyes and another exclamatory "PFFFT!".
 
Witnessing the taquinerie between his mother and his grand-mère cherie, Max lights up, always game to join in and pull my leg. Only, this time, he shifts his attention to his grandmother, who is ever ready to join him in another round of plaisanteries.

I listen to the two spar, giggle, and poke each other and when the playfulness gets a little disruptive, I butt in--

"Hey, watch the plants! You'll knock them over!" and "Max! Put that chair down!"

My attempt at controlling the grandmother-grandson duo is met with more Pfffts! and more clucks of the tongues as the two look at me beady-eyed and cynically - only to resume their bantering.

Mom grabs a revue from the stack of magazines and paddles Max with it. Max responds by running circles around Jules until she is dizzy with laughter. (Thank goodness nobody else is around.)

Their voices rise and I am obliged to give another warning or two:

"Shhhh! There are patients in the doctor's office. Max, baisse le ton. Mom, keep it down! The doctor is never going to give you your anxiety medication, Mom, if she sees you are THIS GIDDY!"

Only, it's too late, the door to the doctor's room swings opens and out walks a confused duo: doctor and patient.

The patient exits cautiously... and I stand to greet the doctor. I introduce my mother and quickly offer an apology for all the racket.

The doctor studies our family (two grinning faces and one sour gueule) and gives her diagnosis -- only mania is not the conclusion.

Lui, the doctor explains, pointing to Max, il est en train d'ajouter des jours à la vie de votre maman.

Noticing my dear mom, who was glowing with youthful entrain, I could not argue with the doctor.

 

French Vocabulary

la salle d'attente = waiting room

un appareil photo = camera

EMLA patch = a dermal anaesthetic in the form of a medicated, cream-filled patch that numbs the skin prior to a shot

une piqûre = injection, shot

la taquinerie = teasing

baisse le ton = lower your voice 

la gueule = face

Lui, il est en train d'ajouter des jours à la vie de votre maman. = He is adding days to your mother's life.

l'entrain (m) = spirit, liveliness (and "avec entrain" = with gusto)
.

P1020547
The book I took with me, and enjoyed, on break last week. And my little carnet for jotting down vocabulary, stories, recipes, uplifting words and more! Re My Antonia, by Willa Cather: the writing, especially the descriptions of the countryside in Nebraska, is beautiful. For those of you who need a page-turner with a plot, this isn't it. For those looking who enjoy pastoral writing and a little history, give this book a try. Several anecdotes within the book were eye-opening and I enjoyed the botanical and culinary notes which are scattered throughout. Thanks to those in the "Nebraska Invasion" group*, who gifted me this and another book. *Anne & Lang Anderson; Vikki & Terry Ferris; Steve & Teresa Plamann; and Doug Richard

Check out the latest prices for Kindle, click here and consider ordering today! Your purchase helps support this free language journal. Merci beaucoup!

cheese and mint quiche tart menthe chevre
Those goat cheese and mint tarts I told you about in a previous story... Want to make one? Just take fresh goat cheese (or the log-shaped version found here in France), cut in slices and place in the bottom of the tart. Next, add plenty of mint leaves. In a bowl, beat two or three eggs and sour cream (or liquid cream). Add salt, pepper, and herbs (thyme, rosemary...). For extra goodness, sprinkle on some gruyère. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes (not sure about temperature...) The pie crust is store-bought (it unrolls and voilà--is ready to go!). Update: I forgot to mention toasted, sliced almonds! Throw some of these onto the tart, too!

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


s'amuser

Hair Trends (c) Kristin Espinasse
"Ruff Ruff Rasta" A couple of curly-haired characters encountered over the weekend. Never miss a word or a photo - click here to receive the free word-a-day newsletter

s'amuser (saah moo zay)

    : to have fun

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

On s'amuse bien avec les amis. We have a lot of fun with friends.

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

The Comparison Trap

Around eleven or twelve years ago, a group of childhood friends began to meet yearly, for a four-day retreat, so as never to lose touch with each other - or with reality. It didn't matter if the flurry of the everyday threatened ("You are too busy - this year you cannot get away!") and distance might try--but could not succeed--in keeping the longtime friends from meeting.

The wives of these French friends were, for the most part, enthusiastic complices, game to hike, swim, and shimmy alongside their men, to go where the sun, the sea, and the sheer thrill might take them. All the wives, that is, but one....

"But this year will be different!" I listened to the voice of reason cheering in my mind. "You are no longer that complexed, still-trying-to-fit-in non-citizen. You can now cook, speak, and even manage to run a family..."  Yes, but I still cannot get into one of their French bikinis!

And so it was that I joined my husband's friends and spent the weekend trying to keep up with their fit and fun-loving women. The lieu: a family-friendly, all-inclusive, seaside club, just a four-hours' drive from our farm.

"Tu nous rejoins pour l'aquagym?" or "Allez! On va danser la Zumba!" The wives encouraged, and I stared back, doubtfully, at the athletic-looking ladies.  I wondered about things like swimsuits and sportsbriefs - did we really have to wear these tightish things? Why couldn't we just go to the movies? 

"Allez! On va s'amuser!" The women assured me. We needed not follow the dancers in step - the goal was to unwind! In the end, I set aside any complexes... in time to shimmy with the best of them. I tried to ignore the curious bystanders (mostly our husbands, who were piled up at the door to the dance class), and I told myself that it didn't matter that I'd forgotten my glasses -- just follow the woman ahead of me (who followed the one ahead of her, and so on... each moving in the opposite direction). 

In the evening, I tried not to be too envious when, at dinner, the women arrived the best dressed. I wore the same pair of cargo pants each evening, having recently grown out of my slacks, my jeans, and other things.  And when another bout of doubt threatened to steal the moment, I quietly reminded myself of the privilege that was mine -- to be here listening to these French voices after all this time. Tuning in to the foreign hum.... I could quiet the inner critic in time to join the fun-loving ones.

 ***

Le Coin Commentaires
How about you? Do you ever find yourself comparing yourself with others--after all these years? And in what areas?: intelligence or career or physique or speaking or cooking abilities? Do you compare yourself to other parents? to other spouses? to colleagues? Or simply to others in your same age group (wondering whether you or they look their age)? What ways have you found in which to overcome "the comparison trap"? Is it selfish or dim-witted or useless to compare -- or is it "only human"? Click here to comment.

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And what if dogs self-compared? What if they compared their hair?

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French Vocab & Expressions

la/le complice = accomplice

l'aquagym (f) = aquaerobics

Tu nous rejoins pour l'aquagym? = Meet us for aquagym?

Allez! On va danser la Zumba! = Come on! We're going to dance the Zumba!

Allez! On va s'amuser! = Come on! We're going to have fun!

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"A breath of bougainvillea" in Costa Brava, Spain. All photos (c) Kristin Espinasse

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