Try this in the New Year: s'aérer l'esprit
Cassis recommendation + Une Tuerie: a popular slang term often used by foodies and bon vivants

Our Current Mess + Une Alerte Orange

Portrait of a woman in white by Susan Winkler
This book recommendation comes to you wonderful dad! We chatted via Skype last night and Dad could not stop raving about Portrait of a Woman in White. If you love history, art, and romance--and are interested in WWII--buy Susan Winkler's book!

"Winkler takes a topic of growing interest, the recovery and return of art stolen by the Nazis, and weaves a story spanning 23 years about one family and one painting. Not a novel about the horrors of war... (but) the struggles of trying to reestablish a life when everything you know and love is gone." --Booklist Order this book

TODAY'S WORD: une alerte orange

    : Weather report warning of strong wind or other possible natural disasters

AUDIO FILE: listen to Jean-Marc pronounce these French words: 

Alerte orange

Aujourd'hui à La Ciotat c'est une alerte orange - ça souffle fort et il faut se méfier des objets volants.
Today in La Ciotat it's an "orange alert" - it's very windy and you must watch out for flying objects.


    by Kristi Espinasse

As far as this week's compte-rendu, why not start right in the middle of the mess--and pan out from there? I woke up this morning to find a pot of roses had tumbled into Smokey's water gamelle. The yellow roses were a gift from our chauffagiste, who got a lot of business from us, recently, when a slew of appliances broke down here at our 1960-built home in La Ciotat.

This week our plumber hit the jackpot when our plumbing system balked. After tearing apart our concrete patio with a marteau- piqueur, the workers (there are now two) revealed several of old pipes being strangled by tree roots (the "tree" in question is no more than an overgrown pittosporum. They crop up around here and grow into pipe-menacing arbres!). 

As I sit here unsure of when we'll be able to use the W.-C. can always use a bucket?), I am as ready as you are to change the subject. I'd rather tell you about the bright yellow mimosa blooming in our neighborhood. It really made me smile to see those sunshine blossoms dotted throughout the streets this week. And it reminded me of one of the many delights of January! 

Mimosa flowers blossoms france january

Alerte Orange--Orange (level) weather warning
I was hoping to go out for a mind-changing walk this morning to see what else is blooming (and to escape the pounding of jackhammers and scraping of sewer pipes), but there is a  strong wind blowing through town (more than that pot of yellow roses, it is knocking down tree limbs and overturning outdoor furniture). So I'll stay inside wishing instead of walking--wishing that wild wind would upend certain trees and their pipe-strangling racines! Then up-up-and-away those gnarling, choking roots would go, along with our plumbing woes....

The good news is, once our plumbing is fixed and our electricity is rewired (an upcoming project)--and now that we've replaced our water heater and our home heater, too...our 1960s property will be up-to-date, or, as the French say, à jour. Sure, there'll be a few outdated things--like the bidets in the bathrooms. And did you know the French use le bidet for more than washing (private parts, clothes, and small dogs)? In a pinch, they're used for....le pipi! So would you in desperation, dear reader, toss out this bucket and use le bidet? Be honest...and let me know in the comments!


le compte-rendu = update, report
la gamelle = bowl, dish (for animal)
le/la chauffagiste = heating engineer
le marteau-piqueur = jackhammer
un arbre = tree
le W.-C. = toilet
la racine = root
à jour = up-to-date

Mimosa flowers france january blossoms

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Nearby town of Cereste

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation.

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