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Entries from October 2012

jour pour jour + a celebration!

  Under the Cherry Tree (c) Kristin Espinasse
The first word ever posted in this journal was bosser, (slang for "to work hard"). That was a promise! Ten years have passed and on a bossé comme on pouvait—we've worked as hard as we could. Time now to celebrate....

jour pour jour (zhoor poor zhoor)

    : (almost) to the day

 Joyeux Anniversaire French Word-A-Day! by Jean-Marc

  ((Listen )) to Jean-Marc's letter: Download MP3 or Wave file


Il y a déjà 10 ans, jour pour jour, Kristi s'installait sur une table d'étudiant dans l'entrée de notre maison pour démarrer French Word-A-Day. Joyeux Anniversaire, nous sommes si fiers de toi.
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It's already been ten years, almost to the day, that Kristi settled in at a student's desk in the entree hall of our house to start up French Word-A-Day. Happy Birthday, we are so proud of you.
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Au départ, elle exprimait beaucoup de frustrations liées à sa vie d'expatriée en mettant en lumière les différences culturelles entre la France et les Etats-Unis (l'Arizona en fait).

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In the beginning, she expressed a lot of frustrations tied to her expatriate life, shedding light on cultural differences between France and the United States (Arizona, in fact).

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Depuis, elle a su faire évoluer son site pour le rendre à la fois professionnel, ludique et bien entendu enrichissant par l'arrivée de la photo (où son talent est également remarquable) et des messages vocaux. Surtout, le style de Kristi s'est façonné par un travail de tous les instants et par son talent naturel d'écrivain.

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Since, she has known how to develop her site, rendering it at once professional, ludic, and of course enriching with the arrival of photos (where her talent is equally remarkable) and voice messages. Most of all, Kristi's style has shaped itself by regular practice and by her natural talent as a writer.

Nos changements de vie et surtout la période dans le Vignoble de Rouge-Bleu ont été des sources importantes d'inspiration, sans omettre l'arrivée de Braise et Smokey dans notre vie. Bien entendu, nos enfants, la famille ont été présents tout au long de ces années et ces nombreuses éditions seront pour l'éternité une façon pour nous de revivre notre passé. Enfin, les livres qu'elle a publiés seront toujours là même si un jour Internet ne marche plus.

Our changes in life, and especially the period spent at the Rouge-Bleu winery, were important sources of inspiration, not to leave out the arrival in our life of Braise and Smokey. Of course our children and the family have been there all through the years and the numerous newsletters will be a way for us to relive our past. Finally, the books she has published will always be there, should one day the Internet cease to work.
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Et maintenant, comment voyez-vous l'évolution du blog de Kristi pour les 10 prochaines années ?
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And now how do you see the evolution of Kristi's blog for the next ten years?
DSC_0097
Thank you, Jean-Marc, for the touching tribute you wrote! And mille mercis to you, dear readers, for continuing to read this journal and for your ongoing support. The letters you wrote in response to the "break-up" edition touched me profondément.

See the evolution of this blog, by reading through the online archives. (Stories posted prior to 2004 are no longer online, though some of these entries are published in the memoir Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France).

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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rompre: to break up

DSC_0280
Plumbago and morning glory flowers draped over the hilltop village of La Cadière d'Azur. One of the things to love about le littoral is the abundance of flowers. The French call plumbago La dentellaire du Cap, or simply la dentellaire, for its ability to soigner les dents or treat toothaches--but don't take my word for it! 

Ever heard of someone who broke up with a friend over politics? Today, read my story... and thanks for forwarding to a friend!

rompre (rompr)

    : to break up, to interupt, stop

rompre avec son (sa) petit(e) ami(e) = to break up with one's boyfriend or girlfriend
rompre avec son (sa) meilleur(e) ami(e) = to break up with one's best friend 
rompre avec quelque chose = to break away from something
rompre le silence = to break the silence
rompre le pain = to break bread 
rompre la monotonie = to break the monotony 

Audio File : listen to Jean-Marc read the list of expressions, just above: 
Download MP3 or Download Wav

 

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

Day before yesterday, while Jean-Marc and the neighbor were felling a few fire-hazardous pines near our new house, I began to think about some longtime friends and to puzzle, once again, over our unexpected estrangement.

It happened over politics, though I suspect the break-up began with the tree we cut down in our back yard (adjacent to my friends' yard). I never wanted that tree to be felled, but when it was declared a hazard ("If a branch broke off of that dying tree," another neighbor warned, "it could kill a kid!" That is all it took for me to agree to have the tree taken down.

My dear friends, a married couple, were physically ill over the tree-felling episode, which they witnessed from their back porch. An arbre is a sacred entity, and it must have been heart-wrenching for them to see that tree come crashing down. But it would have been even more traumatic to me to see one of its heavy branches come down on my children who played beneath it each day.

Around this time the French elections were underway and my dear friends, who are a married couple, were busy rallying for Ségolène Royal. These expats had even drafted a letter to the politician in which they proposed a detailed strategy that, should Mme. Royal heed the instructions, would help her win the upcoming election. When my friends forwarded me the letter via email, I read it, surprised by their moxie to go telling a French president elect what to do! Next I thought, good on them! for exercising their freedom of expression and for believing that they had the ability to effect a change in this world. I should exercise such precious freedoms too!

Newly inspired, I tried to respond to their forwarded letter, only it was hard for me to put my thoughts to words. The truth was, I knew so little about politics, in spite of getting an earful each day from my husband (anti-Ségolène) and again from my friends (super-pro-Ségolène!).

I thought to keep my reply simple, hoping both to encourage my neighbor to exercise his rights (and his wife's)... while not drawing too much attention to my own ignorance vis-à-vis the political debate). Here's the entire word-for-word response that I wrote:

Dear A,

I think your letter was helpful to Madame Royal and you have given some very good ideas. (Next I quickly changed the subject...):

It was nice bumping into you the other day while out on a walk. I will miss walking along that scenic path and the scent of the garrigue here in the Var!

My best to Z.

Love,
Kristi 


A few days later I received a surprising and disturbing response:

Dear Kristi,

I have received your email in which you try to give the impression that you support Ségolène.

Whom you support is your business. It is not my concern.
But when your daughter told us yesterday, when she and [name withheld] visited us, that both you and Jean-Marc support Sarkozy, it showed a certain double-faced nature, which didn’t come as a surprise.

What really disappointed me greatly is when the two girls started arguing the case for waging wars. “Having wars is good, so long as it does not take place in France.” That is what my ears heard. When I heard that my heart fell. That someone so young can make such a statement shows that they have been badly brought up, lacking any ethical and moral sense, showing no lack of respect for life.

With kind regards,

 

Reading the letter I was amazed. So many strange accusations and unthruths (No! my 9-year-old daughter was not out touting war! (She happened to be out looking for candy, which these neighbors and good friends took delight in giving her.) No, she would not have said both my husband and I were for Sarkozy (an impossibility!).

No, no! no! Rereading the letter I was struck by the sentence "that is what my ears heard"... Could it be that my neighbor was so caught up in the current politics that when a couple of 9-year-olds stopped by... they sounded to him like a team of warmongers?

I had to respond to the accusations, but I could hardly type the first word, and the second word is completely missing as you'll see...

Dear A,

I disheartened by your email.

As for the other harsh words, I am speechless.

I am not a Sarkozy supporter, for the record.

Reading your email and the accusations, my heart has fallen as you say yours has.

Kristi

 

But the final words from my dear friend took my breath away:

Dear Kristi,

Please understand that I’m not angry with you.

The reason why I’m writing again is out of concern for your mental health and welfare generally.

Honestly, I don’t see one Kristi. There are two Kristis in one physical body, one Kristi who is totally unaware of what the other Kristi is thinking, feeling and doing. In medical jargon this condition is called schizophrenia. It affects thousands of people in varying degrees. If you don’t put the matter right now, it might get aggravated in the years to come. So I suggest you consulting with a reliable English-speaking psychoanalyst, I say English-speaking because that’s your parental language, not French, and all your earliest impressions are tied up with your first language. I realise that such psychoanalysts would be difficult to find in France, so you can try elsewhere.

Kind regards

A

 

No matter how many times I tried to find the words, I could not respond to my friend's letter. Sadly, I never spoke to the couple ever again. 

The letter left me deeply thoughtful and somewhat agitated. Were there several Kristis? A tree-felling Lumberjack Kristi? A two-faced Sarkozy-Segolène Kristi? Or a multiple mugged People-Pleaser Kristi? 

I don't know that I know who I am anymore than the next person does. Just who am I to know? I am both a very open and expressive public persona... and I am a fiercely private likes-to-live-in-her-own-room person, too. 

I leave off, ironically, with a well known aphorism: Know thyself. Some say it means "to pay no attention to the multitude". This brings me a certain peace when it comes to hurtful name-calling. 

***

To respond to this story, click here

Have you ever broken up with a friend over politics? Leave a comment here.

 

  DSC_0296

Mom, checking out all the succulents, or plantes grasses, growing in La Cadière d'Azur.

Oursin Sea Urchin (c) Kristin Espinasse
Jean-Marc left me a couple of sea oursins for lunch. "You sure you can open them?" he asked. I'm having doubts now... I should have paid more attention when he used the kitchen scissors to circumvent this prickly shell. Will take a stab at it soon... bon appétit!

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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littoral

littoral or coastline near Agay (c) Kristin Espinasse
Le littoral, or the coastline, near Agay. If you enjoy these scenes from France, perhaps a friend would too? Forward this post. New friends, sign up to French Word-A-Day by clicking here. Begin growing your vocabulary, illico presto! 

Today read about the fascinating process of turning grapes into wine! Jean-Marc takes us through the step-by-step process, from gleaning a nearby grape field, to stomping the fruit with his feet, to punching down the "cap" worn by those tanks of fermenting raisins

littoral(e) (lee-tohr-al)

    : (noun, masculine) coast
    : (adjective) coastal

le littoral déchiqueté = rugged coastline

Audio File: If you haven't yet, you may listen to Jean-Marc's story, below, in French. Enjoy his recording:  Download MP3 or Wav file

A Day in Chief Grape's New Life...
a wine-maker  takes a break from a pressing work schedule... to chill out by the sea
 
 

Mercredi dernier, je suis allé courir avec Maxime. Notre parcours nous a fait traverser le magnifique vignoble du Domaine de la Nartette, propriété appartenant au Conservatoire du Littoral (organisation qui a pour mission de protéger le littoral de toute "pollution immobilière" en rachetant des terrains) et situé sur l'appellation Bandol.

Last Wednesday, I went for a run with Maxime. Our itinerary had us crossing the magnificent Domaine de la Nartette vineyard, a property belonging to the French Coastline Conservancy (an organization with the mission of protecting the coastline from all "real estate pollution" by buying land) and situated in the Bandol  appellation.

Images intégrées 1

En passant à côté d'une très belle parcelle de vieux Mourvèdre plantés en coteaux,  j'ai remarqué qu'il restait encore beaucoup de raisins, malgré le fait qu'elle avait déjà été vendangée.
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While passing by a beautiful parcel of old Mourvèdre, planted on slopes, I noticed there remained a lot of grapes, in spite of the fact that it had already been harvested.
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Je n'ai alors pas résisté à contacter le responsable pour lui demander le droit de glaner les raisins. Après son accord, j'ai emprunté des caisses à vendanges et des sceaux au Chateau Pradeaux (un de mes domaines favoris), qui avait terminé ses vendanges et nous avons ramassé de quoi remplir une cuve de 500 litres (soit environs 400 kgs de raisins).
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I just couldn't resist contacting the person in charge, to ask him for the right to glean the grapes. After his agreement, I borrowed harvesting crates and some buckets from Chateau Pradeaux (one of my favorite vineyards), which had just finished its harvest, and we collected enough to fill a 500 liter tank (or roughly 400 kilos of grapes).
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Comme je n'avais pas de fouloir, j'ai du utilisé mes pieds pour fouler les raisins.
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As I didn't have a wine press, I had to use my feet to tread the grapes.
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La fermentation est partie naturellement bien que j'avais prévu d'ensemencer la cuve avec quelques litres de vin en fermentation que le Château Pradeaux m'avait sympathiquement donné.
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The fermentation began naturally even though I had planned on inoculating the tank with a few liters of fermenting wine that Château Pradeaux had kindly given me.
Depuis, je plonge manuellement le "chapeau" (ce sont les raisins et les rafles qui sont poussés vers le haut de la cuve pendant la fermentation) tous les deux jours de façon à extraire tout ce que les raisins peuvent offrir.
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Since, I manually dunk the "cap" (these are the grapes and the stems that have pushed up toward the top of the tank, during fermentation) every two days, so as to extract all that the grapes have to offer.
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Cette cuve va finalement produire environs 300 L de vin une fois la fermentation alcoolique (transformation des sucres et des levures en alcool) sera terminée. Il sera alors mis dans une barrique de 225 L et le reste servira à remplir la barrique lorsqu'elle perdra un peu de vin soit environs 1,5 L par mois, ce que l'on appelle "La part des Anges", car ce sont les Anges qui boivent le vin qui s'évapore. Il titrera environs 13,5%, ce qui n'est pas très élevé mais très intéressant. 
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This tank will eventually produce around 300 liters of wine, once the alcohol fermentation (or transformation of sugars and yeast into alcohol) is finished. It will then be put into a 225 liter wine barrel and any leftovers will serve to fill the barrel when it loses a little wine each month, around 1.5 liters, or what we call "The Angels' share", for it is the angels who drink the evaporating wine. It will measure around 13.5%, which isn't very high but is very interesting.
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En effet, la plus part des raisins étaient des "grappillons" qui n'avaient pas été ramassés lors des vendanges car les raisins n'étaient alors pas assez mûrs, ce qui explique qu'ils ont été laissés dans les vignes. De fait, il y a une très belle acidité dans ce vin et cela me ravi, moi qui ai un palais très Bourguignon. 
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In fact, most of the grapes being "baby grapes" that were not collected during the harvest because the grapes were not ripe enough, this explains why they were left in the vines. As a matter of fact, there is a beautiful acidity in this wine and that delights me, someone who has a very Bourguignon palette.
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Il a aujourd'hui de jolis arômes de fruits rouge (cassis) après avoir initialement eu des notes de mures. Il termine par des arômes de poivre bien typiques du Mourvèdre. Je l'aime beaucoup et il sera, quoi qu'il arrive, un vin très spécial puisque c'est le premier vin de Bandol que j'aurai fait.
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Today there are some lovely aromas of red fruit (cassis) after the blackberry notes it had at first. It ends with pepper aromas, so typical of Mourvèdre wine. I really like it and it will be, whatever happens, a very special wine since it is the first Bandol wine that I have ever made.
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Il faudra, le jour venu, trouver un nom à ce vin... Peut-être que vous pouvez m'aider à cela. J'aime bien tout ce qui aura une connotation maritime. A vos claviers donc...
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One day I will need to find a name for this wine... Perhaps you can help me with this. I really love everything having a "maritime" connotation. To your keyboards, then... 
***
To comment on Jean-Marc's story, click here. You may use the same link to name this new wine. To see some of the names readers have submitted, check the previous comments box.
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P1090416
In other news... Timber! Attention à l'arbre qui tombe! Jean-Marc and neighbor Jean-Mo are busy felling a few pines not far from the front porch. The men are soaking wet, but the rain doesn't seem to bother them. 
La Ciotat 8.16.03 047
Ma fille et moi (2003). Random photo -- don't miss the story Le Frisson. Click here and thanks for reading!
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Best Tips for Learning French
In this post from the word a day archives, readers share their best tips for learning the language. Don't miss it, here

Where to Rent a Car in France?
In this post, readers tell where they go to reserve a car rental. Click 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


faire du vin

Jean-Marc Espinasse
Jean-Marc, a.k.a. Chief Grape, about to pour his wine at Shakespeare and Company bookshop, Paris, in 2010. Listen to Jean-Marc read his latest story--click on the soundfile link just below. And thanks to those who tried to guess what kind of dress Jean-Marc was wearing in this post. Answer: un boubou (another boubou story, here). Thanks to Millie for helping us with the French verb for flattening wood: raboter, as illustrated here

faire du vin [fer-doo-va(n)]

    : to make wine

Audio File: Listen to the following story, written and recorded by Jean-Marc :

Tip: first listen to the story, while trying to understand the French words. Listen a second time while reading the text, in the column just below: Download MP3 or Wav file


A Day in Chief Grape's New Life...

a wine-maker  takes a break from a pressing work schedule... to chill out by the sea  

*Read the English version of the following story, here.

Mercredi dernier, je suis allé courir avec Maxime. Notre parcours nous a fait traversé le magnifique vignoble du Domaine de la Nartette, propriété appartenant au Conservatoire du Littoral (organisation qui a pour mission de protéger le littoral de toute "pollution immobilière" en rachetant des terrains) et situé sur l'appellation Bandol.

Images intégrées 1

En passant à côté d'une très belle parcelle de vieux Mourvèdre plantés en coteaux,  j'ai remarqué qu'il restait encore beaucoup de raisins, malgré le fait qu'elle avait déjà été vendangée.
. 
Je n'ai alors pas résisté à contacter le responsable pour lui demander le droit de glaner les raisins. Après son accord, j'ai emprunté des caisses à vendanges et des sceaux au Chateau Pradeaux (un de mes domaines favoris), qui avait terminé ses vendanges et nous avons ramassé de quoi remplir une cuve de 500 litres (soit environs 400 kgs de raisins.
. 
Comme je n'avais pas de fouloir, j'ai du utilisé mes pieds pour fouler les raisins.
.
.
La fermentation est partie naturellement bien que j'avais prévu d'ensemencer la cuve avec quelques litres de vin en fermentation que le Château Pradeaux m'avait sympathiquement donné.
. 
Depuis, je plonge manuellement le "chapeau" (ce sont les raisins et les rafles qui sont poussés vers le haut de la cuve pendant la fermentation) tous les deux jours de façon à extraire tout ce que les raisins peuvent offrir.
.
Cette cuve va finalement produire environs 300 L de vin une fois la fermentation alcoolique (transformation des sucres et des levures en alcool) sera terminée. Il sera alors mis dans une barrique de 225 L et le reste servira à remplir la barrique lorsqu'elle perdra un peu de vin soit environs 1,5 L par mois, ce que l'on appelle "La part des Anges", car ce sont les Anges qui boivent le vin qui s'évapore. Il titrera environs 13,5%, ce qui n'est pas très élevé mais très intéressant.
.
En effet, la plus part des raisins étaient des "grappillons" qui n'avaient pas été ramassés lors des vendanges car les raisins n'étaient alors pas assez mûrs, ce qui explique qu'ils ont été laissés dans les vignes. De fait, il y a une très belle acidité dans ce vin et cela me ravi, moi qui ai un palais très Bourguignon.
.
Il a aujourd'hui de jolis arômes de fruits rouge (cassis) après avoir initialement eu des notes de mures. Il termine par des arômes de poivre bien typiques du Mourvèdre. Je l'aime beaucoup et il sera, quoi qu'il arrive, un vin très spécial puisque c'est le premier vin de Bandol que j'aurai fait.
Il faudra, le jour venu, trouver un nom à ce vin... Peut-être que vous pouvez m'aider à cela. J'aime bien tout ce qui aura une connotation maritime. A vos claviers donc...
.
***
Help Name Chief Grape's New Wine!!
Jean-Marc is asking, in the last line of his story, for you to help him name his latest vintage. He loves the sea, so a maritime theme would be neat! Other things my husband loves: oursins (sea urchins), color (Domaine Rouge-Bleu!), nature, family and friends. Click here to name Jean-Marc's next vintage.

Corrections to the French text in this story are most welcome, here in the comments box.
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Related stories:
 
Glaner - don't miss the "gleaning" story. Ever seen Agnès Varda's film. Click here for this, and more on the topic of salvaging food in France!

Ange - Angel. More about Paris's most famous bookshop, and the great character who ran it. Read it here.

 

P1090479
A view of the back of our new home. For a pretty view of the side, don't miss this post. And here's a view of the living room, in case you missed it. More photos here.

DSC_0041
What is Smokey saying? Something about GMOs? Or something else, entirely? Add a Smokin' thought bubble here, in the comments box.

Leaves of change (c) Kristin Espinasse
Leaves of change, in Villedieu (Vaucluse)

Forward this post to a friend--who may click on this free subscription link and so join our French word family!

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


se chamailler

Jean-Marc en train de bricoler. Jean-Marc doing some DIY.
Who could argue with a man in a dress? Not when he's repairing the front door! P.S. Would anyone like to explain just what kind of robe this is? There's a specific word for it--can you guess it? Comments welcome here, in the coin commentaires.

 Your comments on GMOs or genetically modified food were fascinating and educational. Thank you so much for taking the time to weigh in on the debate! If you missed the OGM (or GMO) discussion, please click here to read the comments and to add your own. GMOs do exist in France (that bottle of imported, brand-name ketchup in our fridge?), even if the production of GMOs are interdit.

 se chamailler (seuh-shah-my-ay)

  : to squabble, to argue, to bicker

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc read the following sentence in French: Download MP3 or Wav file

Depuis trente ans qu'ils étaient mariés, ils se chamaillaient tous les jours.
For the thirty years that they've been married, they have bickered every day.
 --Guy de Maupassant , Les Contes normands

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

Several months ago, during the nerve-racking period of waiting to find out which direction our immediate future would take, Jean-Marc and I got into a particulary awkward dispute. Looking back, I can't even remember what it was we were arguing about, but I won't soon forget how, by the end of the engueulade, one of us was wearing tomato on their face.

Prior to la tomate, and during the heated accrochage, I watched with amusement as my husband struggled to deliver his be-all-end-all winning point. Just as mine does when I am shaking with indignation, my husband's face turned crimson and his cheeks began to puff up... until the words building inside his mouth tumbled out! And when his gargled and incomprehensible "point" was made, he stomped off to his cave to save face (only in wine country can a man truly stomp off to his cave!)

As the door slammed, I began celebrating my victory (MOI VICTORIEUSE!).  I grabbed the soup pan that was drying in the évier and, polishing it, stole an admirative glance at The Face of Righteousness. 

But after making faces in the dull "mirror", primping my victory look, in vain, I had an inspiration: now might be a good time to try one of those home-made beauty treatments! My eyelids appeared to sag from so much wide-eyed dramatics and there were lines echoing the corners of my mouth. Les rides! In truth, I looked and felt just as defeated as my husband. All that word slinging had had its ugly effect! 

I had recently read somewhere that fruit acid peels were good and that one needn't pay all that money for un soin de beauté when the same—or even better—ingredients could be found for a dollar, in one's kitchen. Eyeing the fruit bowl, I noticed the half-dozen tomatoes, a gift from my friend Houria, who picked them in her potager that same morning.

After watching a couple of detailed YouTube videos on homemade beauty masks, I was ready to try out the two-step procedure: 1. cut tomato in half. 2. rub each half into face. 

It felt good to stand over the kitchen sink rubbing those tomato halves over my forehead, cheeks, chin and nose. The effect was soothing and I soon forgot about our marital chamaillerie.  When the juice quit dripping down my face, I moved from the sink over to the stove to see about dinner. While the mask did its wonders (there'd be a 30-minute wait), I would turn my attention to dinner prep.

Lost in a new level of peace that stirring up comfort food brings, I was startled when the front door flew open. That's when I remembered the caveman. My husband must have found the words he had been desperately searching for—and now he was back to deliver them! 

I felt my body seize up as I prepared for round two, la double defense. As adrenaline coursed through me, I became aware of a strange tightening in my forehead.... Next, my cheeks began to crack!

Oh no. The tomatoes! Standing there with smashed pulp on my face, I became aware of my gross disadvantage. But there was no time to rush to the sink to rinse off this humiliating flaw. And so I did what any she-fighter worth her stripes would do, I wore the tomato paste like war paint, letting what might have been a handicap—work as a scare tactic!

No, actually that is not at all what I did. What really happened was I stood before the husband-caveman-warrior feeling super defeated whilst the fruit mask tightened and tightened. (And, gosh, was that a tomato seed stuck to my nose? So ego-deflating!)

I quickly learned there's no better remedy for defensiveness than a home-made tomato mask. Unable to open my mouth without sending a dozen crackling lines up my fruit-hardened face, I decided to play it cool... and not so much as blink.

Oddly, Jean-Marc didn't seem to notice the tomato glop on my face—so concentrated was he on his point. Not wanting to draw attention to those seeds stuck above my narines, I stood unblinking, listening to my husband. The more I listened, the more he seemed to make sense. And when he was done making his point, only my eyes moved as they followed him out the room.

Strange how peaceful things felt when wearing the mask of non-resistance. I'll have to try it again sometime, on my own, minus the tomates.

 ***

To comment on this story, click here. 

French Vocabulary

la dispute =argument

une engueulade = a telling-off

la tomate = tomato

l'accrochage (m) = clash, row

moi victorieuse! = me winner!

un évier = sink

les rides (f) = wrinkles

un soin de beauté = a beauty treatment

le potager = kitchen garden

la narine = nostril

DSC_0277
Rembobiner? No that's not it... What is that French word that means "leveling off the bottom of a door so that it doesn't "catch" each time you try to close it"? That's what Jean-Marc is doing here. Click here to comment.

  • Read the book Words in a French Life. You'll find out how I met Jean-Marc, why he bought me a one-way ticket back to the States (good riddance!), and how I returned to marry him and to begin this French word journal, now in its 11th year!

 

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Plastic sheeting Jean-Marc will use to waterproof his new cellar. See the "cellar" here, at the end of this post.

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Jules is back home in Mexico. I'm left with these photo souvenirs. Mom writes: I was the only one Jean-Marc could hypnotize into being his little helper - later on in the day after I had picked up lots of rocks, climbed the ladder to hand them to JM I just looked up into his eyes and said, "Honey, I need a nap." I think this is a great 'study' for a painting of an old woman in France. When you look at me you can hear my bones creak and my silent moans.

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What is Smokey saying? Click here to add a thought bubble.

***

Check out our readers Best Tips for Learning French -- and if you have any French-learning tips that work for you, please submit them here.

Has a friend just forwarded you this post? To sign up for the free French word journal, simply click here. We'd love you to join our French word family!

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
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"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

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OGM + organic seed giveaway!

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An artichoke plant grown from seed. Once it flowered, more graines were collected; with them I hope to grow a new plant in our garden. Is it true that seed collection--from our own gardens--may one day be illegal? Or is this just one of those conspiracy-theory rumors? By the way (and not in the same breath as conspiracy!), the film Genetic Roulette is free for viewing today (Friday), after which you will have to pay to see it! 

For those waiting to read the English translation to Jean-Marc's story, click here.

OGM (oh-zhay-em)

    : un organisme génétiquement modifié
    : a genetically modified organism (a "GMO"); a plant, such as corn, that has been genetically modified 

 

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

In the past month, apart from enjoying every moment with my dear mom (Jules left yesterday...), I have been learning about food, specifically genetically modified food--something that is banned here in France (due to the need for further testing regarding health risks...).

In the United States, genetically modified foods are prevalent, having been silently introduced into the market place in the 1990s. Found in fruits and vegetables, GMOs are in everything from ketchup to peanut butter to kids' breakfast cereal, and are served in restaurants, on airplanes, and in school cafeterias. Currently genetically modified foods do not require labelling (in the States) so there's no knowing whether or not an apple or a cookie or a jar of peanut butter contains them. 

Because the following topic could be a touchy or emotional one... I'm going to play it safe and assign myself the role of debate moderator--rather than debate participant! (go ahead and call me une poule mouillée or wet chicken--anything in order to hear your personal view on this GMO topic!)

So please share with us now your opinion on GMOs: would you eat a fruit or a vegetable that has been genetically modified? Yes or no--and why? 

Thanks for adding any related links (to documentaries, websites, books) that might persuade some of us to agree with you!

Share your view here, and enter to win seeds from this amazing artichoke plant, grown in my garden in Sainte Cécile-les-Vignes... and soon to be planted here in our new garden near Bandol.

Click here to enter the discussion: "For or against GMOs".

 

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One of the most exciting days of my life was seeing this gorgeous artichoke plant arise... from a single seed!

Thanks for forwarding this post to a friend!

 

 

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


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

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calanque & bilingual post, by Jean-Marc

Sea-urchins
Today's post is in French and English - and you can listen to it, too!

une calanque (kah-lahnk)

    : an inlet from the sea, a cove

Capture plein écran 11102012 102109
To give you an idea of what a calanque can look like... via Google images. Ever visited a calanque? Which one? Comments welcome here.

 Audio file: listen to today's word, as well as the following story... (see links, just below)


A Day in Chief Grape's New Life...

a wine-maker  takes a break from a pressing work schedule... to chill out by the sea
 

  =>Click the following link to hear Jean-Marc read his storyDownload mp3 or wave file

Hier, nous avons accueilli mon meilleur ami Frederic, parrain de Maxime, et dont je suis le parrain de son fils Matthieu. Dans la matinée et malgré des nuages, je suis allé pêcher quelques oursins pour l'apéritif. Ensuite j'ai fait un barbecue pour cuisiner des côtes de porc marinées avec quelques petits oignons ramassés de notre jardin et que Kristi avait coupé en morceaux. Ensuite, nous nous sommes régalés de toutes les salades du potager,  jeunes pousses que Kristi avait cueillies le matin même.

Yesterday, we welcomed my best friend Frederic, godfather of Maxime, and to whom I am godfather of his son, Matthieu. In the morning and despite the clouds, I went to hunt a few sea urchins for hors d'oeuvres. After, I started a barbecue to cook the marinated pork chops with a few small onions that Kristi had cut into pieces. Next, we enjoyed all of the garden salads, young leaves that Kristi had picked that same morning.
.
Après ce délicieux repas et puisque le ciel s'était dégagé, nous avons décidé d'aller à la plage. Kristi et moi avions des sandales mais comme Maxime a décidé de nous amener dans une calanque isolée, avec une plage pleine de gros cailloux, il a fallu être adroit pour ne pas se tordre la cheville. Enfin arrivés, les garçons ont sauté du haut d'un rocher à 5 m de l'eau (et 12 m pour Maxime), dans une mer relativement mouvementée.

After this delicious meal, and because the sky had cleared, we decided to go to the beach. Kristi and I had on sandals but, as Maxime decided to take us to a remote cove, with a beach full of big rocks, we needed to be adept in order not to sprain our ankles. Once there, the boys jumped from high up on a rock, 5 meters above the water (and 12 meters for Maxime), into a sea that was relatively turbulent.

Matthieu

Au retour, Matthieu qui va avoir 10 ans la semaine prochaine, m'a demandé si je pouvais lui faire goûter mon vin. J'étais enchanté de cette demande venant de mon filleul et comme son Papa a acquiescé,  je lui ai servi quelques millilitres de notre cuvée Dentelle.  J'étais fier de voir qu'il semblait aimer ce vin qui représente tant pour moi.

On the way back, Matthieu, who will be 10 years old next week, asked me if I would offer him a taste of my wine. I was delighted by this request coming from my godson and as his father consented, I served him a few millimeters of our Dentelle vintage. I was proud to see that he seemed to like the wine which represents so much to me.
.
La journée était déjà malheureusement finie et il était temps pour nos amis de rentrer. Moi, j'étais simplement heureux d'avoir passé une journée avec ma famille et mes bons amis.

The day was already, sadly, over and it was time for our friends to go back home. As for me, I was simply happy to have spent a day with my family and my good friends.

 

 

Random Archive Stories

Exquis means exquisite. Meet another friendly and caring villager in this story, which takes place in Valréas. Click here.

Aléa means risk, hazard, chance. One of these words describes our unique repurposed beehive mailbox... Story and pictures here. Missing that mailbox...

Do you have any story archive favorites? Please share them here, in the comments box

  IMG_8110

La nostalgie: Jackie was 9, and Max, 11... Six years ago on the Island of Groix.

 

  Calanque

 Remember this picture? Taken at a nearby calanque, the day we discovered the mas that would become our new home!

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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raison

Echantillon

Only 5 years ago we were renovating a 350-year-old farmhouse and beginning to care for a vineyard in Sainte Cécile-les-Vignes. Then, last August 30th we moved... only to begin again! Our new home is already cozy—no major work to be done. Jean-Marc will begin planting his dream vines in 2013. Read on, in a letter from Ex Chief Grape.  (Photo taken in 2007, after realizing his first mis-en-bouteille, story here.) 


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 la raison (ray-zon)

    : reason (there many senses of the word, see examples below)

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la raison d'être = literally "reason for being"
avoir ses raisons = to have one's reasons
pour une raison ou pour une autre = for one reason or another
perdre la raison = to lose one's mind
raisonné(e) (adj) = wise
raisonner = to reason with
avoir raison = to be right 
pour des raisons médicales ou religieuses = medical or religious reasons
raison de plus! = just one more reason! (to do/not do something)

To add a term or expression to this list, click here and share it with us here in the comments box. Thanks! 
. 

 * A Letter From Ex Chief Grape *

Note, the following letter, in French and in English, has been speedily translated. Feel free to offer corrections, here in the comments box. Thanks so much! P.S. photo captions are by Kristin.

Chers amis,
Dear friends, 

Un mois après avoir déménagé dans la région de Bandol, je voudrais vous donner les raisons qui nous ont poussé à changer notre merveilleux quotidien de Sainte Cécile les Vignes.
. 
One month after moving to the Bandol area, I would like to give you the reasons that pushed us to change our marvelous Sainte Cécile-les-Vignes daily life.
. 
Il faut que vous sachiez que mon premier choix d'installation viticole a toujours été d'être dans cette région de Bandol. En 1999 et en 2004 j'ai essayé d'acquérir des vignes, sans succès... Le choix de s'installer en 2006 à Sainte Cécile les Vignes pour créer le Domaine Rouge-Bleu n'a pas été un choix par dépit mais un vrai choix de cœur.
What you should know is that my first choice for a vineyard set-up has always been to be in this region of Bandol.  In 1999 and 2004 I tried to aquire some vines, without success.... The choice to settle, in 2006, in Sainte Cécile-les-Vignes, to create Domaine Rouge-Bleu, was not due to a lack of a better choice,  but to a "following of the heart".

Néanmoins je n'ai jamais perdu à l'esprit mon choix originel. Amoureux de toujours des vins de Bandol et du Mourvèdre, je suis également un homme qui aime profondément la Mer et cela explique en très grande partie mon choix.

However, my heart never forgot my original choice. Having always been in love with Bandol wines, and Mourvèdre , I am equally a man who loves the sea and this explains the greater part of my choice [for moving].
Capture plein écran 03102012 103815
Whoever forgot their orange shorts at our place.. is now having an "aha" moment! --Kristin

 
En dehors de ces raisons de fonds, je dois avouer que j'avais besoin de souffler un peu après 6 intenses années à gérer entièrement (et tout seul) 9 Ha de vignes tout en vendant, depuis notre tout premier millésime, la totalité de notre production en bouteilles
. 
Apart from these basic reasons, I must admit that I've needed to take a breather after 6 intensive years running a 9 hectare vineyard entirely on my own, all the while selling, since our first vintage, the entire production in bottles.
Vendange 2007
Jean-Marc, at his own first harvest. He looks like he's gone through the wine press, and he may have felt that way, too! I've never seen him work so hard.

Le fait d'avoir trouvé de merveilleux partenaires (Caroline et Thomas) qui vont continuer à développer notre "bébé" est fantastique. Aujourd'hui, ce n'est plus une seule personne mais trois forces vives qui s'occupent de notre vignoble, où Kristi et moi avons gardé une participation financière et ou j'espère bien rester le plus actif possible, notamment dans la distribution à l'export
The fact that two wonderful partners (Caroline and Thomas), who will continue to devolop our "baby", have been found is fantastic. Today, it is no longer one person alone, but three live forces who take care of our vineyard, where Kristi and I have kept a small part, financially, and where I hope to stay as active as possible, notably in wine distribution and export.
 
Capture plein écran 03102012 105632
Thomas, Caroline, and Jean-Marc. I just swiped this photo from Caroline and Thomas's FB page... Look up "Domaine Rouge-Bleu on Facebook or click on "three live forces" in the paragraph above. --Kristin

Enfin et accessoirement, même si notre vue fantastique sur les Dentelles de Montmirail et le Mont Ventoux étaient une vrai source de bonheur visuel, le climat et le Mistral ont participé, à moindre mesure, à mon désir de changement.
Finally, and as a side note, even if our fantastic view of the Dentelles de Montmirail and le Mont Ventoux was a true source of visual happiness, the climate and the Mistral wind participated, just a little, toward my desire for a change.
Mmanm's photo's 151

Les vendanges 2012 sont maintenant finies à Domaine Rouge-Bleu. Toute l'équipe de vendangeurs dont j'ai eu l'honneur de faire partie a fait un travail fantastique.  Les vins que Caroline élabore sont dans le même esprit que ceux que nous avons fait dans le passé. Nous vous remercions pour votre soutien, qui plus que jamais maintenant, est très important pour nous.
.
The 2012 harvest is now finished at Domaine Rouge-Bleu. The whole harvest team, which I had the honnor of being a part of, did a fantastic job. The wines that Caroline is making are in the same spirit of those we made in the past. We thank you for your support that is, now more than ever, so important to us.
Jacques morin kristi caroline
Picture of Kristin and Caroline taken by Jacques Morin


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Home now, near Bandol! Jean-Marc, back from the calanque, where he hunted a few sea urchins. He is using scissors to open them.
 

Quant à la famille Espinasse, elle s'installe avec joie dans cette merveilleuse région où j'espère produire mon premier millésime en 2013.
As for the Espinasse family, they are settling, with joy, into this marvelous region where I hope to produce my first vintage in 2013.

Cheers,
Ex Chief Grape
.
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A new sight for us--so different from all those tractors—would be all the surfers! To comment on any of the photos in this edition, click here. 

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 Jean-Marc arranges rose on a bed of oursins / sea urchins (c) Kristin Espinasse

Jean-Marc, back from hunting for oursins, or sea urchins. Read the story, here, and learn about one of "Chief Oursin's" favorite pasttimes! 

Has a friend just forwarded you this post? To sign up for the free French word journal, simply click here. We'd love you to join our French word family!

***
(Still reading? If you have time for another story, thanks for checking out the story archives. You will learn a lot about life in France, and pick up a lot of vocabulary in the process. If you find you like a certain story, please let me know and I'll put it on my "repost it for a rainy day" list! Click here to access the French Word-A-Day archives.

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