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: breakdown, failure
tomber en panne = break down (car)
une panne d'éléctricité = power failure
une panne sèche = out of gas
avoir une panne d'oreiller = ("a pillow breakdown") to oversleep
Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc read the following sentence (and today's word and the phrase tomber en panne) Download MP3 or Wav file
Que faire en cas de panne ? 6 consignes pour préserver votre vie et celle de vos passagers si vous devez vous arrêtez sur la bande d'arrêt d'urgence. What to do in case your car breaks down? 6 instructions to save your life and those of your passengers if you have to stop on the emergency lane. --Autoroutes.fr
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse
Wearing her Panama hat and her Mexican poncho, Jules inhaled the fresh pine air and wiggled her toes, seemingly oblivious to the exhaust fumes trailing up from the road below. Not two days after she arrived in France, Mom was barefoot on the shoulder of the highway! She may have been shoeless and stranded after my car broke down, but she was smiling bright.
I sat down beside Mom, beneath a shady umbrella pine, and we waited as cars whizzed by. "Here, hold this." I handed over my purse as a makeshift écritoire. Fishing out some old receipts, I scribbled "EN PANNE" across the flimsy paper. Next I colored in the ballpoint letters and tucked the notes on my car's front and back windows, sous les essuie-glaces.
"Lucky for us Max was home and is now coming to the rescue," I chirped, mirroring Mom's attitude. She was in such a good mood--even after loosing a shoe (her sandal broke back at the pépinière, as we tromped up and down rows of apricot and cherry trees, eventually coming to our senses and choosing a specimen that would fit in my small Citroën).
Shooting the breeze as we waited, I thanked Mom for the tall, leafy papyrus, which was recovered from the passenger seat and now stranded beside us, here on the bande d'arrêt d'urgence. "I've got another pair of sandals for you!" I added, remembering my collection--all gifts from mon beau-père John, who sends them along with Mom each time she comes to visit from her home in Mexico.
When my son arrived, I argued when he got into my car and tried to start it. "I wouldn't do that if I were you! There is a really strange odor... What if the car explodes?!"
Max brushed me off and got into my car and--amazingly--drove off! I watched as the car lurched forward and back, all the way up the road.
"What is he doing?!"
"He is taking care of things," Mom announced. "He's 19 years old. His friends' cars must break down all the time, Honey. He knows what he is doing."
Five minutes later Max was running back to us, sans voiture. "I found a parking space opposite the mechanic's."
"He's just saved you a hundred dollar tow fee," Max's grandmother pointed out. "Smart kid!"
Normally, when my son's street smarts kick in, I remind him he gets his brains from me (nevermind I was last in my class to graduate). But this time it was normal to give credit to the bright-eyed grand-mère who stood clasping her hands in admiration.
Looking at my son (who finishes high school this week) I had to admit, "You get those brains from Grandma Jules!"
Max won't be graduating last in his class, because he's madly studying for the baccalauréat. Wish him luck! He'll need to pass this high school exam to make it into a university.
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Son Max, his grand-mère Jules, and the papyrus she gave us. The sign above the tip of Mom's hat is serendipidous. It reads Merci. Thanks Max!
My beautiful maman. Plates full of salad and jam jars filled will water, we're enjoying every moment together, Mom and I! Those are Jean-Marc's muddy docksiders in the background--beside another bouquet of his vineyard wildflowers.
tomber en carafe = slang for to break down on the side of the road
une écritoire = writing tablet
en panne = broken down
un essuie-glace = windshield wiper
la pépinière = plant nursery
bande d'arrêt d'urgence = emergency lane
le beau-père = stepfather, father-in-law
In other happenings, Jean-Marc scored when a wine nursery gave him a couple dozen orphans! These Tibouren vines are an ancient variety primary grown in Provence. See the babies, above, with their waxy red "hats". The shoots will soon break through the wax and leaves will appear. Presto, a grape is born!
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