Monday, February 06, 2012
French art and a classic car along the port in St. Tropez. Send a friend or family member French Word-A-Day.
la toile (twal) noun, feminine
1. cloth, canvas
Listen: hear my daughter, Jackie, pronounce the word "toile": Download toile.wav
Le temps, c'est la toile dont je suis à la fois l'araignée et la mouche.
Time, it is the web in which I am at once the spider and the fly. --Jacques Lesourne
A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse
At the Art Supply Store...
(Note: the following story was written in June 2006)
Françoise has not changed much in the three years since I used to haul toiles out of her shop for mom to work on. She still has her ballerina-thin figure and still paints cherry-red streaks through her chocolate-brown hair; the contrast is as stark as her customers' paintings, which line the store's entrance hall and make shoppers feel smug about their own art.
At the cash register, when I take out my carte bancaire, Françoise still picks up the phone to call over to the papeterie, shouting for them to bring back the hand-held credit card processor (the one the two stores have always shared, never mind the inconvenience).
"...moins vingt... moins vingt... moins vingt..." Françoise mumbles, as she tallies up the art supplies. She still gives my mom twenty percent off all items, only to round down the total. This morning she even threw in a freebie. "Those paintbrushes have been discontinued," she said. "I can offer this one to your maman."
To this day, Françoise listens to my mom's English, only to reply in French. Just how the two women can understand each other is high art to me, and the paintings that result from their exchanges need not be translated either, but are, like the language barrier the women have overcome--indeed, like love itself--they are transcendent.
* * *
Post note: Returning a few years later, Mom and I were sad to discover that Françoise's shop had closed down. Standing out on the sidewalk, we stared at the handwritten sign in the window; it read "A VENDRE". Our eyes caught on a bold reflection in the window; we turned to discover the bigger, fancier, deluxer store that had opened across the street....
Unlike Françoise's window, which sported tubes of paint, brushes, and even a few modest creations of her customers, the competitor's windows were filled with a new rage: "scrapbooking". Ink pads, stamps, glue and tiny cut-outs crowded the window.
At the back of the glittery store, a few paint supplies hung, like the end of a belle epoque.
Le Coin Commentaires
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la toile = canvas..
la carte bancaire = credit/debit card
la papeterie = office/school supply store
moins vingt = minus twenty (percent)
la maman = mom
à vendre = for sale
la belle époque = beautiful era
Terms & Expressions
une toile d'araignée = a spider's web, cobweb
la Toile = the Web (internet)
la toile de lin/de coton = linen/cotton cloth
la toile de fond = backdrop, backcloth
derrière la toile = behind the curtain
se faire une toile = to go and see a film
se mettre dans les toiles = to hit the hay (to go to bed)
la toile de Jouy = "cloth of Jouy,*" fabric printed with an 18th century scenic pattern (*Jouy-en-Josas, is a northern French town)
Colors of France : A Painting Pilgrimage
A watercolor artist's sketchbook and story, "Colors of France: A Painting Pilgrimage" sweeps readers along on Margaret Hall Hoybach's evocative journey along the back roads of France, from the Pyrenees to Brittany, and finally, to paint in Monet's fabled gardens at Giverny. What begins as a seemingly impossible dream becomes an interior odyssey and magic carpet ride, sometimes turbulent, but filled with beauty, humor and fulfillment.
A Message from Kristi: Ongoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal week after week. If you find value in this website and would like to keep it going strong, I kindly ask for your support by making a donation today. Thank you very much for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.
Ways to contribute:
1. Paypal or credit card
2. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.
Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety
Aloha Kristin .. Just checking in to say hello to you and Chief Grape .. staying in Paris for the end of April and all of May .. hope to "drop down" and say hello. As always, Mahalo Nui for your wonderful writings! Bill
Posted by: Bill Facker | Monday, February 06, 2012 at 11:45 AM
I love this posting but it is also a bit sad! I wonder what Francoise is doing now?
Thanks and have a great day!
Posted by: Eileen deCamp in Charlottesville, VA | Monday, February 06, 2012 at 01:23 PM
lovely, Kristin. And transcendent. Merci.
Posted by: Sue J. | Monday, February 06, 2012 at 01:26 PM
What happened to cinema verite? And new, not recycled posts? Please take me off the automatic payment list. I will donate when I can.
Posted by: Rhonda in Durham NC | Monday, February 06, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Poor little painting supply shops. I'm sure they have a hard time paying the rent for their space these days. Especially with the ability to purchase online so easily.
So Jules painted on les toiles sometimes, instead of canvas? Or did she do something else with them? I've seen those purses and totes that people use them for. Très chic et trop cher ici, aux États-Unis!
Posted by: Karen Whitcome (Towson, MD. USA) | Monday, February 06, 2012 at 02:45 PM
KRISTI WAS IN SURGERY LAST TUESDAY AND AT MY INSISTANCE I HAVE ADVISED HER TO REST AFTER THIS SECOND ROUND OF SURGERY.
EVERY DAY SINCE THE LAST SURGERY THE DOCTOR HAS SENT A NURSE TO KRISTI'S HOUSE TO REDRESS HER SCAR AND BANDAGE UP THE ENTIRE SIDE OF HER NOSE PLUS NOSTRIL.
I HOPE WE CAN ALL GIVE HER A LITTLE SLACK - HER MIND IS SO OCCUPIED WITH HER SCARS THAT SHE HAS CHOSEN NOT TO WRITE ABOUT THIS LATEST BATTLE.
PERSONALLY I THINK IT IS GREAT THAT SHE HAS TAKEN THE TIME TO CHOOSE A FEW OF HER FAVORITE PAST STORIES TO SHARE WITH US AGAIN.
REST HONEY - BREATH DEEPLY - AND KNOW THAT WE ALL UNDERSTAND YOUR NEED FOR A LITTLE TIME TO RECOVER.
Posted by: JULES GREER - PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO | Monday, February 06, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Well said Jules - and Kristin just listen to your body and take time to let it heal. With love and best wishes from a beautiful, bright (and making us look forward to Spring) day in Scotland.
Posted by: Fiona | Monday, February 06, 2012 at 03:11 PM
I keep you and your family in my prayers, Kristin. I don't know how you keep up the pace of posting 3x a week with teenagers at home and living on a "grape farm", as you call the vineyard. I post something different once a week on my website, and it's all I can do to get it written and the photos taken for it while the rest of my life in full swing. I don't mind the repeats because I have only been subscribing 2 years so there is a lot that I missed. I hate to appear dumb, but what is the purpose of the crocheted scarf on the horse's head? I appreciate Jules' explanation.
Posted by: mhwebb in NM, USA | Monday, February 06, 2012 at 03:40 PM
mhwebb - Hi, I think that the horse's headgear keeps the flies out of its ears and eyes while it is working . . .
Posted by: fm | Monday, February 06, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Salut Kristin et tout le monde,
Kristin, it was in early February one year ago when you stopped in Phoenix on your way back from visiting Jules and we had the “meet-up”. What a great time we had! I’ve re-visited your “randonnee” post many times at. . . . .
Anyone in the greater Phoenix area interested in another meet-up?
Posted by: Herm in Phoenix, AZ | Monday, February 06, 2012 at 04:02 PM
Kristin, greetings from SW Virginia where the day dawns bright and sunny after a gloomy misty moisty weekend. I remember this post, mostly because of the great shot of the crochet-adorned horse. Love it. Best wishes dear one for a speedy recovery and of course, we your loyal fans and friends are happy to abide in all the reruns you wish to offer, for as long as needed. Love how Maman Jules jumped in like a "chicken on a June Bug" this a.m. And rightly so.
As for the art shop, yes that is a sad ending tale, as small shops like that are the heart of a community, I think. Especially considering the generosity of spirit of Francoise. One cannot go into a MASSIVE store like Walmart and others, and get that same sense of connection. There was a neat hardware store, very small, in an old Roanoke neighborhood which I loved to visit. I'm a nut for hardware stores, anyhow, but the the guys who ran it were so engaging and helpful. Can't tell you how many big orange electrical cords they repaired for me as I continued to chop them into with the hedge trimmer! One late Friday afternoon I ambled in and there they were, in the back room of the store, 2 beers opened and having an easy, end-of-the-week sitdown. And that is what I did. Had a beer with the hardware guys. How cool is that? NOBODY in Walmart has ever offered me a beer...ha, ha, ha.
Well, I am headed out for parsley seeds. Got to get some indoor plants started...I need to smell chorlophyll, see tiny green things growing. Best to you and your family, and cheers to the dormant "grape farm" whose mysterious alchemy is happening deep in Maman Earth.
All is changing.
Posted by: Pat Cargill | Monday, February 06, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Mais qu'est-ce qui ce passe? C'est quoi la prononciation d'un mot au lieu de la phrase entière? Un mot ne veut pas grande chose. On veut entendre l'intonation, les liasons, l'élision de toute la phrase. C'est comme ça que l'on apprend, en répétant mille fois la phrase complète. Faut pas changer le système qui marche.
Posted by: Marcia J. Yanshak | Monday, February 06, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Wow! A lot of grumpy posters! Maybe this means we are very dependent on a good shot of FWAD and are used to our 3x week fix.
I was reading about an interesting way to help independent stores. Someone sent out an email blitz and said, "Okay! If you love this longtime hardware store(I think it was in New England) come on Saturday and spend $20." The store was flooded and had record sales, and everyone involved felt great. It was the perfect fusion of 19th century community and 21st century technology. We could do this anywhere for a cherished business.
Rest well, Kristen!
Posted by: Martine | Monday, February 06, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Dear Kristin. I'm happy that you are following your mother's advice to rest yourself. Mom's do know best. I hope that you don't feel the need to write about this past surgery. You are allowed to draw that line, you know. You are strong, young and healthy. Use all of that - plus the healing thoughts that we send you - to recover.
Posted by: Karen Whitcome (Towson, MD. USA) | Monday, February 06, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Jules, please tell Kristie she is in my prayers. You too, of course. Su Amiga, Vance
Posted by: Vance Anderson-Inks | Monday, February 06, 2012 at 05:26 PM
Dear Kristin, Get well soon! Everyone misses you but you need to take care of you! Take your mom's advice and rest, breathe, and one day at a time.
You and your family are in my prayers. Thanks for letting you & your family into our lives.
You are cherished!
Posted by: Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR | Monday, February 06, 2012 at 05:38 PM
Take good care Kristin! Taking care of yourself is the most important thing right now. Your dear mom is right about this. I love to see some of your former postings and enjoy them again. Do not worry, your scars will heal, it just takes some time. I am sending you many happy thoughts and blessings your way. Take care of yourself!
(in sunny, warm San Diego)
Posted by: Julie S. | Monday, February 06, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Dear Kristin, I am relieved to know that a nurse is coming each day to care for you and that you are following "orders" to rest, for that and time are the great healers. I enjoy your earlier FWAD's as much as the ones which you write currently...let's hear no complaints! Thankyou, Jules, for your comment today. I have missed you, but I knew that your attention was being focused upon Kristin. You are a true MOTHER.
Posted by: Cynthia Lewis | Monday, February 06, 2012 at 06:04 PM
I agree that there are some grumpy people, but it just goes to show how much you are loved and that people really look forward to FWAD 3x weekly. I don't mind rereading older posts - it brings back memories and words which I might have forgotten. Thank you.
Relax, take your time to to get better and feel free to do reruns. TV shows and even radio shows do reruns.
I just sent your blog to my husband's brother, better know as a brother-in-law. I wanted to introduce him to your blog and to Jean-Marc. Bob is into Beaune wines. This is where we went after visiting you a few years ago.
Posted by: Kathleen | Monday, February 06, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Dear Kristin - we hope you will take Mama Jules' advice and take good care of yourself - mama's really do know best! We will be thinking of you and wishing you a speedy recovery!
P.S. Re today's post - we have a lovely print by Collette Cedelle that we purchased on the "boardwalk" in St. Tropez some years ago - a wonderful reminder of a beautiful country.
Posted by: Angela Fowler | Monday, February 06, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Chère Kristin: Prends le conseil de ta belle maman et repose-toi bien. Surtout ne fais pas attention aux bougons qui ne font que se plaindre.
Toile, c'est un nom féminin; donc c'est LA toile de Jouy, n'est-ce pas?
Posted by: Millie | Monday, February 06, 2012 at 07:29 PM
Aloha Kristin .. Wow .. I've been so out of the loop with work lately that I didn't know you were suffering another bout at the Doctor. Health first .. take care of yourself and let Chief Grape and the kids take care of you. And KNOW you deserve the pampering and the rest. A prayer for you from exactly half way round our world. Take care of yourself! Aloha, Bill
Posted by: Bill Facker | Monday, February 06, 2012 at 09:13 PM
Kristi, prayers going up for your healing, both inside and outside. Remember that, while we all enjoy your physical beauty the same way we take pleasure in a beautiful flower, it is your internal beauty that we love. This will never change.
Posted by: Lori Di Betta | Monday, February 06, 2012 at 09:14 PM
Kristin--your surgery is, unfortunately, fairly common here in high-altitude, sunny Colorado. In every instance, it has worked out great for my friends. Best of luck healing.
related to the post: Last summer the Mistral removed a framed print from the wall of our gite and smashed it on the floor. The owner suggested we see what the framemaker in Carpentras could do. His shop was located behind an artist's shop much like you describe Françoise's. We had to walk through the shop to reach the framemaker's shop, a classic of works-in-progress, pieces of frames everywhere, and a "I can fix anything" attitude. Amazingly, all of this was a quiet haven abutting the busy Leclerc parking lot. He fixed the frame on our tight time table (we were leaving in a few days). And along with the repaired frame we enjoyed a rambling discourse on the state of art, quality framing, and related matters. In addition to his fee, we left them a nice bottle of wine when we departed. I hope to return to chat with the framemaker again in the summer of 2013, but it is the kind of lovely place like Françoise's that I fear may not lost. An artisan's paradise.
Posted by: gary | Monday, February 06, 2012 at 09:58 PM
Posted by: Gretel | Monday, February 06, 2012 at 10:16 PM
I came here to tell you of my excitement that I expect to receive any day now, my purchase of your book. I am so glad that I did because now I am aware of your struggles and can send you a stranger's love to assist your healing.
My thoughts are with you and your family.
Posted by: Patrine | Tuesday, February 07, 2012 at 12:08 AM
And Lori......perfectly put!
Posted by: Patrine | Tuesday, February 07, 2012 at 12:12 AM
Don't need an answer to this immediately, I was just wondering whatever happened to Francoise of the art store? She sounded so intriguing. Was she ever able to open up a new shop?
Get well soon,
Posted by: Derin Gemignani | Tuesday, February 07, 2012 at 01:45 AM
I so enjoyed this story and it is always a treat to revisit them. There is a hardware store nearby in the historic town of Jacksonville. My dad says it is just as hardware stores were when he was a child 60 + years ago. The owner is 92, loves his job and hasn’t changed much in fifty plus years. Some days he won’t leave his chair and will tell you to leave your cash on the counter and take what change is yours -- rare these days. I appreciate the handwritten receipt and the non-fancy displays.
I hope you have nice weather as to enjoy time in the arms of Mother Nature. As Pat wrote about Maman Earth and the mysterious alchemy taking place, I thought such is happening inside of you, dear Kristi. It is a good time to rest, recuperate, and regenerate. As surely as spring will come, you’ll be spreading your wings to feel the warm breeze again soon! Here’s to peace and healing --- God speed!
Posted by: Stacy ~ Sweet Life Farm ~ Applegate, Oregon | Tuesday, February 07, 2012 at 01:49 AM
What a touching story... the small shops closing under the pressure of bigger business seems inevitable, but is heartbreaking nevertheless.
I wasn't aware your second surgery had already taken place, and I agree that you best take it easy for a while, recycle some of your oldies and we'll be delighted. And if you have some scarring please don't worry - we all know that true beauty comes from within, and you are a very beautiful person!
Posted by: Jackie Smith | Tuesday, February 07, 2012 at 02:21 AM
I hope you are healing well & quickly - you have my prayers and positive thoughts for both.
Posted by: Susan Carter | Tuesday, February 07, 2012 at 08:20 AM
Best wishes for good healing, dear Kristen.
Posted by: Maureen | Tuesday, February 07, 2012 at 11:24 AM
Dear Kristen and Jules,
Sending you waves of healing energy and a wish for non-stressful recovery as you enjoy your vacances from the internet. Listen to your maman!
Posted by: Jan | Tuesday, February 07, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Kristen ~ So glad you are taking this time for you to heal. Praying for your physical recovery and mental peace of mind. Giving yourself boundaries for what personal things you share with us is acceptable. No details necessary, we all just want you to get well. Any post from you, whether new or recycled, always brightens my day. I hope all the caring thoughts expressed here will brighten yours.
Jules ~Your protective love for your beautiful daughter always touches this mother's heart.
Posted by: Vicki, San Francisco Bay area | Tuesday, February 07, 2012 at 09:06 PM
Tous nos meilleurs voeux de prompt rétablissement, Chère Kristin.
Et ne vous souciez pas de nous, et surtout pas des grincheux qui doivent sûrement ignorer votre situation temporaire.
Tous vos fans vous souhaitent une excellent santé et un retour à la vie normale, tel votre esprit si raffiné qui nous enchante.
Posted by: nadine goodban | Wednesday, February 08, 2012 at 12:28 AM
KRISTI IS AT THE DOCTOR'S IN AVIGNON TODAY. I HOPE SHE TAKES HERSELF TO LUNCH AND BUYS HERSELF A NEW SEXY DRESS.
OF COURSE I MISS MY FRENCH-WORD-A-DAY - BUT PERHAPS ALL OF YOU WONDERFUL FRIENDS CAN ENTERTAIN ME TODAY IN THE COMMENTS BOX.
LET'S HAVE SOME STORIES !!!
Posted by: JULES GREER - PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO | Wednesday, February 08, 2012 at 04:00 PM
Here's one, Jules:
Yesterday, my 16 year old son said to me, "Hey Mom, you love stories about France. Well, did you know that the French are attempting to created a real star in their country?" I laughed and then huffed as I was somewhat put off by his apparent insinuation that there were no "real" stars in my "soul" country (as I call it). So I told him that I thought they had plenty of real stars! Just look at all of the film award nominations just THIS YEAR! He laughed and explained that he was referring to a heavenly star.
Anyway, I thought this was a great little story. Kristin would have told it much better than I. It's a great energy idea, n'est pas? Apparently it's been going on for some time now. My very own "chief grape" (well, really he's my "chief grape drinker/mall development engineer") says that this is old news.
Here is an article. http://www.iter.org/
Posted by: Karen Whitcome (Towson, MD. USA) | Wednesday, February 08, 2012 at 05:55 PM
I already left you scratching your tetes. I didn't explain that star power is fusion. This is a better link:
Posted by: Karen Whitcome (Towson, MD. USA) | Wednesday, February 08, 2012 at 06:02 PM
Here’s couple of French puns for you to smile over:
Man who jumps off a bridge in Paris is probably in Seine.
What do you get when you throw a hand grenade into a French kitchen? You get a Linoleum Blownapart
Posted by: Herm in Phoenix, AZ | Wednesday, February 08, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Those got me giggling, Herm. Thanks.
For Jackie: The day isn't over yet here in the USA and it's Celebrate the Name of Jacqueline Day! Who Knew?! Here is a website: (It has a video of Jackie Kennedy speaking French)
Posted by: Karen Whitcome (Towson, MD. USA) | Thursday, February 09, 2012 at 01:29 AM
Here is another pun: Three cats were walking on the thin ice, the ice cracked, and "un deux trois quatre cinq"
Herm and Kristin: must be an Arizona thing, was told to me by an Arizona friend who was born of American parents in Paris.
Kristin: Of course you must rest and recover, and do just as Jules tells you. With so many good thoughts coming your way, I hope you can feel them
Anne in Tucson
Posted by: Anne Denny | Friday, February 10, 2012 at 01:27 AM
Ahhhh - I don't get it, Anne!!! This is going to drive me batty-er.
Posted by: Karen Whitcome (Towson, MD. USA) | Friday, February 10, 2012 at 03:31 PM
HAHA - I just got it. I had to drop the
"re" sound off of "quatre". That's a good one!! Thanks.
Posted by: Karen Whitcome (Towson, MD. USA) | Friday, February 10, 2012 at 03:34 PM
The closing of the little shop is so sad. We arrived here in Paris in time to say à bientôt to the proprietor of a tiny jewelry shop, that had lovely contemporary items, pas cher. We'd always stop in to chat and sometimes buy a cadeau for our daughter (or myself.) Now the little shop is closed, a louer sign on the window. The young owner is off to a less expensive city.
Posted by: Mim | Monday, February 13, 2012 at 11:31 AM
Well, I know I am late checking back here, but I saw Herm's joke so I asked my husband, "What do you call a man that jumps off a bridge in Paris?" He gave the right answer because he is a geography expert even though he had never heard the joke before!
We have a NM joke similar to the cat joke above: What do you call four men in a leaky boat in New Mexico? Answer: Cuatro cinco.
Posted by: mhwebb in NM, USA | Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at 04:08 PM