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Entries from August 2018

How to say "seat belt" in French & learning to pronounce French

Lancon Max
Félicitations to our Max, who begins un stage, or internship, in Reims, for the champagne house Lanson. Go back with me, today, to his very first job at the age of 3: teaching his mom how to correctly pronounce French! Read on in today's story, below.

Today's word: la ceinture de sécurité

 : seat belt

Some of you enjoyed viewing the vocabulary list before the story, so we'll use this format once again today! (The audio file follows, below).

French Vocabulary

complet = full
une place = a spot (parking place)
Elle est complètement dingue! = She is absolutely nuts!
pompes funèbres (fpl) = funeral home
c'est sale = it's dirty
la crotte = droppings
la ceinture = seatbelt
Ah, bon? = Oh, really?
voilà, maman = there you have it, mommy

 

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

by Kristi Espinasse

Go back in time with me now, if you will, to the historic town of St. Maximin, where visitors from all over the world come to see the purported relics of Mary Magdalene (behind a thick glass encasement in the town's basilica).

The year is 1998 and the tree-lined parking lot in front of our centuries-old village home is complet. All fourteen parking spaces have been claimed. I am about to make one Frenchman's day by freeing une place—just as soon as I can wrestle my one- and three-year-olds into their car seats!

While I fasten Jackie's seatbelt, Max hums, pulls at my hair, or points to the pigeons in the dilapidated square. Beneath the campanile, which hasn't announced the hour in years, Madame A is scattering baguette crumbs again. If she keeps this up, there will be more birds in this village than beret-sporting Frenchmen! Maybe that's her plan?

I hear a familiar voice and I look up, past the car seat, to see Monsieur B, my other neighbor, shaking his head. "Elle est complètement dingue!" he mumbles, shaking his head at our neighbor. Perched there on the curb in front of  les pompes funèbres, Monsieur looks as old as Mary Magdalene.

Monsieur B hates it when Madame feeds the pigeons. "C'est sale!" he complains, pointing to the crotte-lined curb. I sidestep the pigeon droppings on my way around the car. Time to buckle in Max, now that his sister is secure in her car seat.

"Mommy's going to put YOUR ceinture on now," I explain. Max stops humming and releases another lock of my hair. His eyes leave the pigeons to refocus on my still-pursed lips. Next, his little voice insists, "SEN-tewr, maman! SEN-tewr!"

Ah, bon? It seems I am mispronouncing again. I see my son point to my lips as he opens his own mouth to demonstrate the correct sound. 

The car behind me begins to honk. I signal un instant to the impatient driver, who is still waiting for our parking spot. Turning back to my son, I repeat the word as my three-year-old has instructed. 

"SEN... SEN-tewr..." Yes! I now hear the difference: SEN—like century, and not SAHN, like sonnet.

"Voilà, maman!" the little voice confirms.

With that, Max resumes his humming, I run around the car (past the other driver, who flails his arms in exasperation), Madame A tosses more breadcrumbs, Monsieur B shakes his head, and the pigeons continue to populate the village square as life goes on in the little French town of St. Maximin.


Blossoming in provence

Today's story is from the book Blossoming in Provence: a collection of early blog stories. Thank you for your book support, which helps keep this French word journal going! To order, click here.
 

Audio File: Listen to a then 8-year-old, Jackie, pronounce this sentence:
Maman, j'ai attaché ma ceinture. Mommy, I've attached my seat belt. Download ceinture3.wav

Expressions:
faire ceinture = to have to go without
se serrer la ceinture = to tighten one's belt, to go without
un coup au-dessous de la ceinture = a blow below the belt

Also:
la ceinture de sauvetage = life preserver
la ceinture de parachute = parachute harness
la ceinture de sécurité = seat belt
la ceinture marron, noire = brown, black belt (karate)

House in st maximin
Picture of our former village house on Rue Kléber in St Maximin. We lived there in 1997, when Jackie was born and Max was two-and-a-half. Above the front door, you see a window. Behind it, a desk where I first logged onto the internet. I happened upon a blog journal, "The Daily Alex," by a woman who chronicled her life with two young children. What a great idea! I thought, admiring the writer's discipline in documenting the moments in her childrens' lives. I wish I'd started blogging then and there, but I waited several more years, and in 2002 this blog was born. Our kids were 5 and 7 at the time, and though I have not gotten every milestone down on blog paper, the entries remind me of colorful moments I might have otherwise forgotten.

Square rue kleber
The village square in front of our old home. I could see this pastel "brochette" of homes from our window.
Kristi blogging
One last picture, snapped a minute ago by Jackie, who turns 21 next month. Time to hit publish and send out today's post....

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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A colorful way to say "I'm so hungry!"

Chief grape
Jean-Marc (here, with grape stains...) and Kristi will be in Denver soon, for a wine tasting of Provence and Chateauneuf du Pape wines that Chief Grape exports to Colorado. This event will take place September 13th from 3 to 6 PM at The Vineyard Wine Shop, 261 Fillmore Street, Denver, CO 80206. Tel : 303 355 8324 We look forward to seeing you there!

Just for today, we are going to reverse the format and begin with the vocabulary list from the story:

ça y est = that's it
c'est presque la rentrée = it's almost back to school
l'ardoise (f) = slate, blackboard
le pistou = vegetable soup with basil
la courgette = zucchini
le basilic = basil
sans le savoir = unwittingly, unknowingly
le gilet = cardigan
une tuerie = something "die for" delicious
la fleuriste = florist, flower shop
le ressentiment = resentment
j'ai la fringale = I'm so hungry! I'm starving!

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

by Kristi Espinasse

A light Mistral is sweeping through our neighborhood, taking with it the last of the tourists. Ça y est, c'est presque la rentrée!

It felt good to walk along the breezy streets, letting my hand glide along the stuccoed fences, their scratchy surfaces awakening me to the moment. Farther on, a black ardoise read: "Le Pistou de Grandmère." Yes, it is that time of year for Provençale bean soup--with courgettes, basilic, and haricots...I made a mental note to tell Mom about the day's special, in case she might feel up to going out....

At the post office, I recognized a certain clerk I'm fond of. Tanned, her hair in a no-fuss ponytail, she has wrinkles so deep you can see their tan lines (light in the creases). After I stepped up to the counter, the clerk began weighing my letter and there began an amusing dialogue between herself and the computer:

"Mais prends ton temps," By all means, take your time! she said, patting the screen. Ah, je vois...tu bug! Oh, I see, you have a bug! Mais, vas-y. Well, go ahead (and bug then)!

As the postal clerk cajoled the machine, I enjoyed her vas-y "live and let live" attitude: Let others do as they will--including technology! It is all out of our control. The best we can do is stay out of the way. I thanked the clerk who'd, sans le savoir, brightened my day, and I headed to the farmers market.

There was Naty behind the produce scale. Her dark blond hair, in a bun all summer, now fell to her shoulders. She was wearing a woolen gilet--proof the heatwave was over! 

"Ça, c'est une tuerie!" This is to die for! Naty said, savoring a giant green fig. I filled a small paper bag with the fruit, thinking it would please my Mom (a loaf of bread...and a bouquet from la fleuriste...would eventually be added to this "Peace" gift, which was building and building, like a series of hurt feelings...).

"Naty," I said, "Remind me of that word you used last week, the expression for 'I'm hungry'". 

"J'ai la fringale!" Naty replied, "and it means "I am REALLY REALLY hungry. I'm starving!"

I leave you with this colorful expression, Dear Reader, and a few other things to chew on from today's missive, namely the encouragement to get out and experience the day (and then your cares will naturally slip away).

    *    *    *

Update: Mom accepted my peace offering...and gave me some presents in return: a bowl of her homemade bouillon and a moment in her garden (next to the garage) on her favorite chair with its zebra-striped pillows (the ones she'd packed into one of four suitcases when she moved here from Mexico). "Breathe deeply," Mom said, offering me the gift of peace. "And look up at the sky. Always look up at the sky!"

Both of us seemed relieved to be out of the sulks, or what grandmother Germaine might have called le boudoir (I leave you with the story of an inspiring Frenchwoman).

(Thanks to my friend, Berina, for the folloing photo of Mom and me.)

Me and mom
Live well love well
The painted sign reads: "To live well, love well, and let the others say what they will!" Pour bien vivre, bien aimer, et laisser dire. (Picture taken during a family vacation in the Aosta Valley, Italy.)

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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The French word for Puppy (see Smokey and his 5 sisters when they were baby goldens)

DSC_0017
Our Smokey turned 9 last week (here he is with 2 of his 5 sisters, in 2009). Following the previous post, I received several emails about our golden "showing his age." Funny, I didn't notice the gray in his beard or his eyebrows..until now. And it's all got me thinking about how we need to treasure every day with him. 

We'll keep the rest of this post light, with a look back at Smokey and his sisters. You'll meet Braise, too, Smokey's mama. We got her from the dog pound before we moved to the first vineyard. She passed in 2015, at the same age Smokey is now. We really do need to treasure every day from here on out!


Today's Word: le chiot

    : puppy, pup

For a quick boost to your French vocabulary, try this book! You will pick up useful French phrases and learn a lot about the culture. Thank you very much for your book support, which keeps this first collection of blog stories from 2003-2005 in print! Click here to pick up a copy for yourself or for a friend.

Words-in-a-french-life-9780743287296_hr

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

by Kristi Espinasse

Kids! Every parent knows that caring for them can be an all-consuming activity, that is, when the kids are not busy consuming you.

Yesterday, Braise and I, exhausted after 7 weeks... and 14 years (respectively) of child-rearing, decided to GIVE IN.  And so we collapsed on the front porch and put up our figurative white flags.

With that... the puppies rushed forth in victory!

DSC_0034

After getting our ears, noses, fingers, and toes chewed on... and our shirts and fur slobbered on... on a eu assez!... That's when we decided to play dead in order to get these puppies off our heads!

(Photo, below: Braise, in the background, feigns la mort. I follow suit, protecting my face just in case...)

DSC_0046-1

DSC_0038

Braise is a natural. Just look at her play dead...

DSC_0036

In my case, the puppies aren't buying it -- though one stops to feel my pulse with her paws.....

DSC_0048

After a bit of ceremonial concern (short-lived sympathy on their part) ... the puppies now esteem that it is time to revive the drama queens.

Let's get their ears! Let's pull on their hair! (Braise, in the background, continues to play dead, unfazed by the toutou torture...)

DSC_0051

The victor! (Actually, there were six of them. Each got his/her turn to rise to the sky as Champion, glorified


FRENCH VOCABULARY
le chiot =
puppy, pup
on a eu assez = we'd had enough
la mort = death
le toutou = doggie (from this list of French baby talk)
Le Seigneur = Lord (from last photo caption, below) 

DSC_0033

Smokey griffes de sorcieres
Smokey, finding a cool spot during the heatwave, as he snoozes on a bed of griffes de Sorcière (witches claws!)

Smokey and bougainvillea
Seigneur, remind me of my priorities, including spending more time with my dog!

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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le déchet : What the tourists regularly toss into our garden

Chief Grape
Jean-Marc and Kristi will be in Denver soon, attending a wine tasting of Provence and Chateauneuf du Pape wines that Chief Grape exports to Colorado. This event will take place September 13th from 3 to 6 PM at The Vineyard Wine Shop, 261 Fillmore Street, Denver, CO 80206. Tel : 303 355 8324 We look forward to seeing you there!

Today's Word: le déchet

    : waste, litter, rubbish, refuse

Les dechets

Les déchets sont faits pour être jetés dans des poubelles adaptées, pas dans les jardins.
Trash is made to be tossed into designated garbage cans, not into gardens.

Another way to support this French word journal: 
by clicking on my name, below, you can purchase a book. Books make wonderful gifts. Thank you very much for your support!

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE


    by Kristi Espinasse

I received the following courriel from reader Joséphine....

Hi Kristi, I am wondering how you manage living on the beachside after living so many years in the vineyards? I imagine it is a little frenetic at times?

Coucou, Joséphine.

The first few months were strange indeed. It was awkward having strangers so close to our front porch, even if a brick muret and its scraggly hedge formed a boundary. Whereas a few rows of sunflowers lined the edge of our (previous) deck, now groups of tourists are springing up! There, where giant yellow tournesols once swayed in the wind, beachgoers bow forward in a constant flow toward the sea. Toddlers regularly throw tantrums (the injustice of having to return home after building sandcastles all morning!), and it is not uncommon for couples to meltdown, too, as they discover parking tickets, or les amendes, on their windshields and point the finger at one another ("Je t'avais dit, Maurice! Cinq euros--c'est pas assez pour la journée!").

This massive flux in summertime took some getting used to. Once, a group of seniors stood casing my fence (up one side...down the other) and I watched as, one by one the women lifted their cameras and began firing away, their lenses trained on a vignette of bombonnes in our yard! ("Fair enough!" I figured, remembering my years as a trigger-friendly amateur photographer roving the villages of France. I had my share of tongue-lashings by angry residents, I recalled, as I silently watched the women from behind my window and its spy-proof reflection.)
Bombonnes
Mais, chère Joséphine, there is one thing about living in a tourist mecca we will never grow used to or accept....and it is this:

Smokey and litter
All the litter! As waves of visitors file by on their way to the beach, some of them drop their garbage onto the street. Others set it on our fence (having sat there, smoking a cigarette). Still others toss their trash right into our garden! Beer bottles, napkins, even the odd rubber sole...are now "fixtures" in our yard (that is to say,  we regularly remove the litter, but it comes right back the next day!).

This morning, while planning a much-needed chicken-run (to run along the periphery of our yard) I was amazed at les déchets I found. Despite there being TWO poubelles within meters of our fence, passers-by tossed empty packs of cigarettes, plastic cups, a bottle top,  snack dispensers and plastic wrapping over our fence.

But what disturbed me most was a tiny pink bille...it must have come out of one of those toy guns. Were there more plastic billes in the garden? Not good for my grazing chickens or my curious, eats-anything chien!

Thank you very much for your question, Joséphine, and for the opportunity it offered to talk about litter. I hope, together, we all will find an answer. 


FRENCH VOCABULARY

le déchet = litter, waste, rubbish
le courriel = email
coucou = hi, hello
le muret = low wall
le tournesol = sunflower
une amende = fine, penalty, parking ticket
la bombonne (also bonbonne) = giant glass wine or jug
la bille = ball
le chien = dog
Je t'avais dit, Maurice! Cinq euros c'est pas assez pour la journée! = I told you, Maurice! Five euros is not enough for the day!

Smokey sad eyes
Smokey says "Utilisez les poubelles, s'il vous plaît!" Use the trash receptacles, please!

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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A near disaster & Ouf! Phew!

Tiles and bamboo and golden retriever
Sometime during her second week in France, Mom moved out of grandson Max's room and into her own independent "space." Here's a view looking down from my bedroom, to Mom's "front patio" (really just the edge of our driveway that meets the house). In order to block the view of our cars--and the slew of tourists who pass by on their way to the beach--we've set up this privacy wall for Mom. As Jules slowly builds her nest out of what she has been given (a former "a wine cellar" I mentioned previously; in reality it is a badly converted garage.... We plan on renovating it for mom this spring. Meantime, Mom is a trooper even on difficult days when she can't get the old green curtain to slide across the ugly blue rod, or when a big rock (holding up a sink skirt) tumbles off the tiny kitchen counter--hitting her big toe! Then there's the European (only for peein'?) compost toilet. Excuse the bad joke but it helps to laugh at a time like this. (Easy for me to say!) Please wish Jules bon courage as she settles into her new life in France--not as glamorous as it may seem! More in a future post. For now, I have another story for you...

Today's word: OUF!

    : phew! (that was a close one!) 


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

  by Kristi Espinasse


I was all set to tell you about the miraculous relationship between our golden retriever and our chickens...when the former walked in with feathers all over him!

Des plumes partout....

Feathers on his cheeks. Feathers on his nose. Feathers on his lashes and...feathers in his throat? I ran over to my dog as little white puffs drifted to the ground like snowflakes landing on his paws--the gentle descent of plumes in contrast to the chilling scene going on in my mind.

"Smokey! What have you done? Qu'est-ce que t'as fait?!" I pried open my golden retriever's mouth and found feathers stuck on his tongue!

Hurrying outside I searched for our chickens, especially the Sussex hen, "Sweetie." Ouf! There she was--along with her sidekick, "Little Edie," eating her way through our veggie patch. Never was I so happy to see our feathered foragers ransacking the potager!  
Sweetie between the peppers and the lemon verbena


Sweetie's rump--with all its soft white feathers intact--faced the sky as she pecked at a pumpkin vine, right beside a tomato plant that had literally risen from the ashes and compost beneath her.

I shook my head and smiled but my relief was short lived when I noticed the state of the henhouse: a pile of feathers in the center. The plumes were much longer than chicken feathers... I wondered, C'était la tourterelle? Did one of the doves meet its demise inside?

The turtledoves sometimes wander into the poulailler to glean what seeds remain. I remembered, too, how Smokey sometimes enters the tiny poulailler (the door slightly larger than himself) to do the very same: eat birdseed!

Piecing together the evidence, it seemed Smokey had wittingly or not trapped a dove inside...and the temptation was apparently too much! My heart sank.

My mom searched the yard before delivering some good news: no dove to be found. The little tourterelle surely made it out of the henhouse and back up to the telephone line or its nest nearby.

Of course, there is that possibility that Smokey swallowed the little creature whole....  Quelle horreur! Perhaps we'd do better to focus on life's beautiful mysteries--such as how a bird dog continues to live in harmony with a couple of hens. Indeed, after losing his mama, a lonely Smokey has found a couple of sure companions.

Little Edie and Sweetie

FRENCH VOCABULARY
une plume = feather
partout = everywhere
ouf! = phew!
le potager = kitchen garden
le poulailler = hen house
c'était = was it
la tourterelle = turtle dove
quelle horreur! = how awful!

To Glean (Glâner) -- Don't miss this post from the archives, the story about Agnès Varda's must-see documentary The Gleaners and I. 

Hen house and turtle dove
Turle dove and chicken coup--and a collection of green bombonnes or "dame-jeanne's" for wine 

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


Gérer, débrouiller: How to Let Go...and Grow.

La Ciotat
Midsummer night in La Ciotat. Families at their pop-up picnic tables, people swimming into the night, and the historic shipyard in the background, beneath a mauve sky. I'm going to bottle up this peaceful scene and shake it out in bits--in the kitchen, in the bedroom--wherever there's conflict....

Two words today: gérer and débrouiller


   
: to manage and to sort things out

Audio File: Click here to listen to the following sentence

Il faut arrêter d'éssayer de gérer les gens et plûtot les laisser se débrouiller.
One must stop trying to manage people and, rather, let them sort things out.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristi Espinasse

Andale! Andale! Ariba ariba!
Along with the morning dew, a vapor of Spanish commands are rising from the studio below our bedroom. It's 6 a.m. From our open windows I recognize my Mom's voice and determine she is trying to get our golden retriever, Smokey (wanting attention after guarding by the foot of Mom's bed all night), to se casser (or, in kinder words, skedaddle!). 

I jump up and hurry over to the stairs...when something stops me in my tracks: The realization that I cannot, I must not, continue to micromanage every family member (this being a message from ALL my family members--except our sweet golden...).  No matter how tempting it is to assist, to sort out, to unravel their sticky situations, I have got to let my family--all three generations living under this roof--solve their own problems!

VAMOOSE! (Oooh, Mom is now desperate for slobbery Smokey to exit her room, pronto! I can just picture our 9-year-old golden, his head resting on the side of Mom's bed, drool coming out of his mouth. A near-death experience as a puppy means Smokey's tongue hangs permanently from the side of his mouth, causing him to drool excessively. Mais la bave n'a jamais fait du mal à personne! (A little spit never hurt anyone!)

Smokey beside Moms bed
Smokey's tongue looking normal. Usually, even closed-mouth, his tongue hangs out

Nope, not gonna help this time. Je ne me mèle plus! Je vais m'occuper de mes propres oignons! I'm going to mind my own business. Mom can handle a slobbery dog, my daughter can deal with her US passport renewal, my husband, brushing his teeth in the bathroom, will eventually discover his pillow is missing from his side of the bed. I need not call to him, "ton oreiller, tu l'as laissé en bas, devant la télé! You left your pillow downstairs, in front of the T.V." He'll figure it out himself tôt ou tard. What difference does it make whether I save my family a bit of time in the finding out and solving of things? 

Besides, every time I step in to their situations, my intentions are seen as either nagging or bossy or--and here's the latest--"verging on bullying!")

Who me? A bully? That's almost as bad as the time my husband called me a pitbull! I admit, that one was hard to swallow! But, over the past 6 months, I've come to see (acknowledge? accept?) this tendency to badger my family until they understand my point. But perhaps there is another way?....

The way of letting go and letting others do as they will....

Leaving the stairwell this morning, I got right back into bed. As the floor fan whirled beside me (week two of the heatwave), I could feel a smile forming across my face as I listened to birdsong outside my window...punctuated by the screeching of a magpie and a new, cantankerous melody:

"Andele! Andele! Arriba! Ariba! VAMOOOSE!!!"  

Haha! If it were me I'd tell Mom to try French or English (the languages my dog responds most to...). But that's the old me. The new me says nothing--and laughs more! Oui! La nouvelle moi elle dit rien. Elle rit souvent! And she takes the lessons, even those that are hard to swallow, in stride.

We may or may not be as others say we are (butterflies or pit bulls--or, more likely, somewhere in between). But in considering it all, in stopping to reflect on our own behavior, surely we grow.


SELECTED FRENCH VOCABULARY
gérer = to manage
se débrouiller = to sort something out for oneself
se casser = to get out of here
faire du mal = to hurt
la bave = spit, drool
se mêler = to meddle in, interfere in
s'occuper = to take care of
un oreiller = a pillow
tôt ou tard = sooner or later
le poulailler = henhouse, chicken coop

I leave you with a peaceful scene from our garden. Notice the top of the wooden stake. That's "Rusty", a turtledove that lives here. He loves our new chickens, follows them around, wanders into their pouilailler, and helps himself to dinner. "Help yourself"--a lesson we can all take to heart.

Turtledove tourterelle
Announcing a new way to support this French word journal: via check! If you are interested, email me at kristin.espinasse@gmail.com 

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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"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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Faire bon ménage? Golden retriever and chickens & CONTROL JUICE (is it fueling you, too?)

Sussex hen and coucou hen
If you take one thing away from today's post (about letting go...), let it be this: Control Juice is for wet chickens, or scaredy-cats. (Le jus de contrôle c'est pour les poules mouillés). Let go of your fear--and your controlling nature will disappear. 

Faire bon ménage

    : to get along

Click here to listen to Jean-Marc read the following sentence

Faire bon ménage signifie bien s'entendre. Cette locution peut qualifier une bonne entente, une relation équilibrée entre deux personnes ou animaux qui vivent en harmonie ensemble. "To make good housekeeping" means to get along well. This phrase can include a good, a balanced relationship between two people or animals that live in harmony together.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

"Control Juice": something to give up after wine?
(or is it time to go back to wine??)


    by Kristi Espinasse

I really mean for this to be as smooth and entire as possible--this post and, come to think of it, this life. Cette vie. I struck gold this morning by finding, relatively quickly, a phrase to sum up today's story: faire bon ménage (to get along). And then the extended meaning: more than how my chickens and my golden retriever are getting along, this is an update on how my whole family--all three generations currently living under one roof--are getting along. (Quick answer: pas mal!)

Let's start with the latter: after one meltdown, one short-lived separation, and a monumental ménace: (moi) to go back to America (this one directed at the whole group of bandits) "and you can all (Jean-Marc, Jules, Max, Jackie, Smokey and the chickens) fend for yourselves--ALL OF YOU!!! I have glued myself back together thanks to my chickens almost becoming glue (more about that in a minute)....

L'ESPOIR
This morning I woke up feeling hopeful. I was seeing my entire family of banditos through rose-colored glasses... Yes, I was, until everything turned on a dime (c'est toujours le cas!). My son could not find his wallet (for the third time this week) and I instantly took on his agitation and then some.

"When you find that porte-monnaie," I barked, "put it BACK in the same place. Find a home for it!!"

Find a home for it! Find a home for it. I keep saying this to everyone. Can't find the mosquito spray? Find a home for it! Looking for your car keys? Find a home for them! Lost your swim trunks? Putain de merde. TROUVE-LE UNE MAISON!!!

My son was now running late for work and would not be able to pay the freeway toll without some fric! With my hand in my purse, rooting for money to loan him, I did not see the giant window, une baie vitrée, in front of me and so walked right into it, jarring my ego more than my nerve-endings. 

CONTROL JUICE IS FOR CHICKENS
My son, unaware of my collision, continued his own tirade. "But I can't find a home for my wallet when my room has been taken!" How could I argue with that? So when Max pulled out of the driveway, late for work, I shouted, "Don't forget to close the gate so Smokey and the chickens don't get loose." This set him right off, my 23-year-old, who swore if there was one thing he did right it was to close that gate each and every time! 

Just as we were arguing, I heard squawking...

Mon Dieu! Turning, I saw Smokey had gotten out of the house and was chasing the hens! Having put every ounce of my control juice into keeping my family and my flock in order, everything fell apart in that instant.

And that was it. I mean, that did it! Having reached the End of the Rope, this post-apocalyptic scene was the burial to my nerves as I once knew them--possibly beneath a bed of feathers!!

And here is where Grace stepped in. As my son backed his company car out of the driveway, shouting the injustice (he is a gate-shutterer if there ever was one!!) to our entire neighborhood, I let go of the embarrassment of yet another public family scene... and focused on a miracle going on in the opposite direction.

Smokey was indeed chasing the chickens... but nobody was getting killed! 

Every ounce of agitation and every bit of pent-up frustration melted away--along with all of that control juice--as I beheld the beauty of the scene in front of me: creatures getting along relatively well.  

It all reminds me of the popular saying, something we nervous people and highly sensitive types are often reminded of (by our loved ones or therapists): "Did anybody die?" 

No? Then everything is going to be OK!


***
Postnote: Mom just strolled by on her way out to the beach. Where are my blue sunglasses? she wanted to know. (!!!)  Normally, I would suggest she find a home for them...but she stole those sunglasses from Max.... Oh, les bandits!

FRENCH VOCABULARY
la vie = life
faire bon ménage = to get along well
l'espoir = hope
pas mal = not bad
c'est toujours le cas = it's always that way
le porte-monnaie = wallet
putain de merde! = dammit! (can be more or less strong depending on the situation)
trouve-le une maison = find it a home
le fric = money
une baie vitrée = large, sliding glass windows
Berina and Jules
Mom's first friend in France and a beautiful scene from last night: Berina, from Taïwan (living in Hong Kong and Cassis) and my Mom. Two funny, strong, and beautiful women who hit it right off! 

Roasted red peppers
Jean-Marc made bar (sea bass from the Altlantic, vs Loup, or sea bass from the Mediterranean. I made these roasted peppers and other cool dishes to go along with the fish.
Jean-Pierre Berina Kristi Jean-marc
Jean-Pierre and Jean-Marc go way back--they met in business school in Marseille. I only met Berina last year, and I can't wait for her to move full time to Cassis from Hong Kong. One day! P.S. look at those fans. It's sweltering in France... 
Eggs and roasted peppers
Roasted pepper recipe near the end of this post.

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

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