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Today's story begins in Mexico... and this is Mom, who taught me the example sentence in today's edition (see "audio file")...

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 (ah-pwee-yay) verb
1. to press; to lean, rest (against, on); to prop (up)
2. to rely on; to support (petition)

AUDIO FILE: Listen to Jean-Marc read the following example sentence: Download MP3 or Wav

Confie-toi en l'Éternel de tout ton coeur, Et ne t'appuie pas sur ta sagesse
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. -Proverbs 3:5-6

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A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

(Part one of today's story is here)

Having just been treated for my dislocated elbow and released from the emergency room--and after three days of travel--five airports, four airplanes and 3 "strippings" at airport security ("No, mam, you can't take off my arm brace!), I made it all the way to Mexico from France!

The never-ending trip included two overnight stops: one in Philadelphia--where I'd missed my flight and stood out in the rain for an hour, waiting to be shuttled to some far off, comped hotel--and one night at my sister's (originally designed to be 2 nights of rest before venturing south of the border). I'd picked up several new one-armed skills along the way: everything from opening packages with my teeth to putting on my laced shoes after yet another airport security check. (Shoe-tying tip: using your free hand, roll laces around this set of fingers and tuck the bundle into the shoe. Voilà!)

Despite a swollen and very sore elbow, and two more bouts of nausea from the pain medication, I'd gone ahead and gotten on the first flight in Marseilles! I would never have made it had my husband not done everything in his power to push me onto that plane.

Which got me thinking: Isn't he a bit enthusiastic about my departure?

Ah well, my concerns were put to rest when, once on board, I discovered a little note he had tucked into my purse: "Love you more. Bon voyage."

The petit mot was even illustrated with a big heart. How thoughtful! And how doting he had been earlier that morning, washing my arms with a soft gant and even helping me apply deodorant. It was a first lesson in humility.  And by now, having arrived via planes, trains, and automobiles to Mexico, I was a pro at letting people lace my shoes, put on my one-armed coat, cut up my airplane food into manageable bites, and even tear open those little packets of cream and stir them into my coffee! Normally I wouldn't touch the chemical-laden creamer, but this was a trip full of compromises and poudre chimique was no longer a biggy in my rigid mind.  

In a way, this accident was turning into a blessing, forcing me to be patient and much more flexible. So when Jean-Marc and I first spoke on the phone (back in Philadelphia, where I'd finally caught the shuttle and was now resting in my room with the special "handicapped" sign on the door), I was very positive:

"Oui, chéri! All is well! So far so good!"

But I was only half way through my trip at that point. And the swelling in my elbow and not yet reached my hand--in time to blow it up the size of a boxing glove!

Follow with me now, back to Mom's casa in Mexico, where I am resting on her bed, relating the whole story of my journey from ER in France to Puerta Vallarta. I had changed out of those scratchy wool pants (with the elastic waistband--no way to travel with buttons and zippers and my teeth wouldn't have been much help either) and was now almost giddy to laugh about the whole misadventure.

"Hey, let's call Jean-Marc!" I said to Mom. My husband had installed the World & You app on my mobile phone which would allow me free (with wifi...) calls to France. Only, after dialing his number, there was no answer....

A moment later I received an email from Jean-Marc: "Sorry I couldn't answer. I'm in the stadium at the Davis cup."

The Davis Cup?!! "Where's that?" I said to my mom, as the heat rushed to my chest. I think it was a tennis tournament... and it had better be in Marseilles! Two seconds later Mom had googled it.

Why that little devil! He was already north of Paris, in Lille! He must have dropped me at the security checkpoint three days ago, and skipped off to the next terminal to board his own flight TO PLAYVILLE!

That nervous tick below my eye was doing jumping jacks and my adrenaline had kicked in. Who needed 5 airplanes to get back to France? I could now poll-vault myself from Mexico all the way to The Stupid Davis Cup--in time to STRANGLE MY HUSBAND! 

"Just before he threw me on that plane, I'd asked him a simple question," I screamed to Mom. Do you have any plans this week? That's what I said. I asked him twice!"

Mom was now bracing herself again the back wall of her room, the sheer force of my delivery having pinned her there.

I continued my tirade: "And to think that I traveled all the way to Mexico with a newly relocated elbow! When I could have rested an extra day or two in Marseilles, as I had thought to do. But no! That would have put a wrench in Monsieur's plans!"

On and on I imagined all sorts of scenarios, verbalising each one aloud as it traipsed across my mind like a thinly clad adversaire. But the true adversaries, I knew, were my own personal frustrations.

Though I had made it all the way to Mexico, the truth was I was not very adventurous. And my husband was. Never one to miss the chance to "see, go, and do!" he takes life by the reins!

While I don't know how to hold the reins, I can grab onto life's skirt-tails. Like now, as my heart whips me to and fro... building an inner-strength--a work that began the day I said "I do."

"Look!" Mom announced. There is another message to you from Jean-Marc..."

Clicking open the email my husband explained his decision, that of keeping his plans quiet just before my departure.

"I did not want to tell you this earlier because I didn't want to stress you during your travels..." Jean-Marc wrote.

Reading his note, I saw the truth in it: had I known he would be absent for a few days, I would have never gotten on that flight home. I would have worried about our daughter, the dogs, the house... who would take care of them while I was away? Not one to delegate, I live with the conviction that only I can sort out these types of care-related details.

Still, I wish I had had the information in order to make my own decision to stay or to go. But then I would have missed the chance to see my dear family back home....

Jean-Marc made the right decision for, even if I had mustered the courage to get on the plane with all that information in mind, I would have suffered from worry during the entire trajet. Instead, I flew with a peaceful mind, and an unflappable elbow!

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French Vocab
le gant de toilette
= washcloth
la poudre
= powder
= chemical
= opponent, adversary
le trajet
= journey, flight, ride 


 Have you heard about all the rain in France? Weeks and weeks of it led to this: the collapse of our rock terrace, or restanque. Not sure it can be repaired. We will see....

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety