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Entries from September 2018

A job interview in French...

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More about this controversial shirt in today's story :-) 

Today's Word: un entretien d'embauche 

   : à job interview 

 

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE 

   by Kristi Espinasse 

Our recently-turned 21-year-old just arrived here in Colorado--where she will be trying out "this American life" for the next 6 months (until June 26th, the date at which her billet aller-retour delivers her back to France... But will she go?). 

Jackie's flight from Marseilles-Heathrow landed in Denver last night and 22 hours later she was sitting in a grassy circle, outside the mall, with a bunch of young people--all applying for the same sales position at a popular sportswear company. 

I was eager to hear all about Jackie's entretien d'embauche, and waited patiently for our jetlagged traveler to gulp down un verre d'eau after she had walked home from the mall, direct from her group interview (there were eight other nanas and three mecs, none of whom she was brave enough to talk to as they sat chatting with each other sur la pelouse awaiting the manager's instructions). 

"Mom," Jackie said, breathless, "they all had such good answers to the interview questions! The other candidates were thoughtful, energetic, and they were all wearing THE BRAND from head to toe!" 

Our newbie American, dressed in jeans and a black Fila--ouch, la concurrence-- dress shirt (her aunt and I made her button up the last button...car on n'est pas en France !) had only just heard of the mark, seen all over the streets in Denver (and not yet available in the south of France.)

"And my accent... "Jackie continued, "I don't think they could understand my answers to the questions.. I'm sure the manager is not going to hire me...."

Post-interview doubts didn't stop la petite française from hurrying across the street, to a major hotel chain, where she asked a valet, "Are you hiring here?" (The old man  directed her to the company's website-- just as the sales girl at the shoe store--visited before the sportswear interview... did.) 

Gazing at my daughter as she stood recounting her foreign job hunt, I was thinking what every parent thinks: who wouldn't hire this extraordinary child? 

Nous sommes fiers de toi. We are so proud of you, Jackie. Newly-arrived in Les États-Unis, and you've hit the ground running! Your American accent will catch up with you soon enough...hélas.

FRENCH VOCABULARY

un billet = ticket

aller-retour = round-trip 

un entretien d'embauche = job interview 

un verre = a glass

l'eau = water

la nana = girl

le mec = guy

la concurrence = the competition 

car = because

on = we

nous sommes = we are

fier = proud 

hélas = unfortunately

Les États-Unis = The United States

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My niece, Reagan, writing thank you card. More photos--and "mini-stories" of our trip--on Instagram.

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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How to say "crutches" in French...

IMG_20180925_111233_807Announcing one more meetup in Denver! Hope to see some of you on October 4th, from 5-7 pm at the Alliance Française. 


une béquille (beh-kee)

    : crutch, stand; kickstand (bike)

Audio File: listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the following expressions: Download MP3 or Wav file

Elle marche avec des béquilles. She walks with crutches.
mettre une moto, un vélo sur sa béquille = to put a motorbike or bike on its stand.
se déplacer avec des béquilles = to get around on crutches


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

by Kristin Espinasse

I was staring up at a flower seed display with packet after packet of possibilities when I heard a tap tap tap coming up from behind me. Turning, I saw a woman on crutches who was now looking up at the same rack of flower packets.

"Bonjour," I smiled, quickly turning back around. A moment passed before I thought to scoot over so that the newcomer could see the entire display.

"Ne bougez pas. Vous ne me gênez pas du tout," she assured me. Her hair, gathered up in a large twist, was the color of Mexican poppies ...or maybe honey-colored nasturtiums? ...the ones I was debating  whether or not to buy. I liked the idea they were edible plus pretty to look at. I had recently bought a pack of blue starflowers, or bourrache, for that very reason. Come to think of it I had recently bought quite a few packets of flowers, so maybe I'd better head off now, and meet-up with Jean-Marc, who was two aisles over, in the "automatic watering systems" section of the store.

But before leaving I felt the urge to say something to the middle-aged lady with the béquilles. During the handful of minutes that we had stood staring up at the flower seed présentoir, I sensed her endearing presence. We had only exchanged a brief greeting and that is when I saw what my dear aunt Charmly would refer to as stardust. It's that heavenly sweetness that emanates from a kindred spirit.

"Wouldn't it be lovely to have them all!" I said to the stranger, betting on the possibility that she, too, was overwhelmed by what the French call l'embarass de choix. There were so many flowers to choose from. I went to put back the seed packet I had been holding when the lady with crutches responded to me.

"Which one is that?" she asked.

"Oh... cosmos," I offered.

"Cosmos?" She had never heard of the flower before.

"Ah," I said, smiling. "They grow this high..." I motioned with my hands," and are covered with fuchsia flowers. (I was thinking of the cosmos that my mom had so loved, back at our farm in Sainte Cécile-les-Vignes. The thought of Mom fawning over those flowers threw me back in time.)

Perhaps emotion had cast a fragile shadow over me, for next the stranger offered an affectionate compliment.

"Hold on," the woman said, as I  returned the seeds to the display. "I will plant them and they will remind me of you."

It was such an intimate and generous thought that it caught me completely off-guard. I thanked the woman with the Mexican poppy-colored hair and quickly hurried off.

It was a strange reaction and, even as I was walking away, I wanted to turn back... to say something back to her just as nice! But what?

Two rows over, in the watering section of the store, I stood there debating. I should go back and get the seeds that she had been looking at (morning glories, I think they were...) and tell her I'll plant them and think of her, too! But as the seconds turned to minutes I convinced myself that the window of opportunity had passed. At this point it would be too awkward to return.

Hélas this touching encounter will be filed under Missed Opportunities. Meantime somewhere in France dozens of cosmos will bloom this summer. I see the woman with the Mexican poppy color hair hobbling up to admire them. She's finished with her crutches by now, and a part of her is even jogging down memory lane.

FRENCH VOCABULARY

le présentoir = display rack

ne bougez pas vous ne me gênez pas du tout = don't move. You're not bothering me a bit

le bourrache = borage

les béquilles (f) = crutches

hélas =  alas

un embarras = a difficulty (more here)

l'embarras de (or du) choix = embarrassing variety of choice, multiple possibilites

Au présentoir des fleurs je suis resté bête devant l'embarras de choix.
At the flower display I was stumped before all the choices.

avoir l'embarras du choix = to have too many solutions

Cover_with_sticker_540x

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Mexican poppies
Mexican poppies growing at our former vineyard. Don't miss that story!

 

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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Se donner de la peine pour faire quelque chose

Fennel field (c) Kristin Espinasse
Cabanon and field of fennel near the town of Orange.

se donner de la peine pour faire quelque chose

     : to go to a lot of trouble to do something

Click here to listen to the following sentence in French

Il s'est donné beaucoup de peine pour réussir.
He went to a lot of trouble to succeed. 

 

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE...

by Kristin Espinasse

Writing Lesson Number 1: Show up at the Page

Three times each week it is the same effrayant feeling. Today it was no different. Lying there asleep in bed I gradually gained consciousness. My eyes were already open when I found myself gazing at my husband's back. There were his deep scars (post melanoma), there was his bent hair, or "pillow head", there was that poetic point at which the curve of his torso meets the curve of his hip.

It is the most delicious part of the day, those fleeting few seconds of quiet observation--before thought ticks in, dispersing the peaceful moment. And they are the most nerve-racking, those seconds that follow.... when apprehension arrives. I turn over and peer out the porte-fenêtre, as if by shifting the body a shift in perspective will follow.

The position of the morning light falling, just so, on the grape vines, this is my alarm clock. I know it is 6:30 a.m. But the question remains: Quel jour est-il?: Saturday?... Sunday? Around this time my husband's alarm chimes in, with a hint... 

Then it hits me and there I feel it, beating at the walls of the soul's chamber! Butterflies begin to flap wildly and take flight. I am carried forth, with the papillons, to the following, undeniable conclusion: this is not a day of rest.... this is not a day of repos....

THIS IS STORY-WRITING DAY!!!!

The pressure is on! As a self-appointed écrivaine (when no one else is hiring, you've got to hire yourself!) with a self-appointed deadline (11 a.m. each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday)  there is the alarming realization that I now have 4 hours and 26 minutes to create une édition, one that will be automatically pulled from this blog's server and delivered to readers inboxes at around 10:59 a.m.! 

This is where faith comes in. After the initial panic (What to write? What-to-write?!-What-to-write?!-What-to-write?!) there is nothing left to do but to work. The words will come....
 
Panic subsides as I grasp at a few scraps or impressions, letting them continue to bubble up to the surface of memory. But how will the broken bits and fleeting pieces add up to a meaningful story? Temptation comes haunting--the temptation to throw in le torchon and just give up. Çela ne vaut pas la peine! 

That is when I am reminded that it is all beyond me; I need only to let go... and let the story set itself free. I am no more than the fingers through which the words will flow. That is my only job. Heaven knows.

--
(This story was written in 2011, when the blog went out 3 times each week....)

FRENCH VOCABULARY

effrayant,e = frightening

la porte-fenêtre = French window

Quel jour est-il? = What day is it?

le papillon = butterfly (also, a fickle person)

le repos = rest

un écrivain, une écrivaine = a writer

une édition = (newsletter) edition

le torchon = (dish)towel

Çela ne vaut pas la peine! = It's just not worth it! 

Thank you for your book support! Just click on the book cover below. Your purchase helps keep these words and stories going out.

Blossoming in provence

P1030695
The next time you are asked to conjure up a peaceful image... try this one! Do you see the sunflowers in the far right corner? 

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The rocks on top of this cabanon help hold down the roof tiles when the Mistral wind blows!

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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Atterrissage: Made it to The Mile-High City! Winetastng today

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Thanks to The Vineyard Wine Shop for this photo montage. Today's tasting is from 3-6p.m. 261 Fillmore Street, Denver, CO 80206. Tel : 303 355 8324 We look forward to seeing you there!

 

Today's word: un atterrissage

   : touchdown, landing

 

A DAY IN AN AMERICAN LIFE 

La Ciotat to Denver

On est atterri ! We made it to my sister's in Denver and, after a home-cooked meal (thanks Heidi) of grilled chicken, taboulé, and du mesclun, extra câlins from my niece and nephew, and a good night's rest (rocked to sleep by Colorado cricket song!), we are revigorés and ready for today's wine dégustation over at The Vineyard Wine Shop. It's Denver's oldest wine store and today they'll be featuring Domaine du Banneret (Jean-Marc's uncle's wine) as well as another vineyard close to my husband's heart: La Mascaronne.

Chief Grape tells me there will be du monde, so if things get crowded please do not leave without at least saying un petit coucou. We would not want to miss any one of you! 🌞 

I will post a photo on my Instagram, veuillez nous suivre la-bas ? 

Mille mercis et peut-être à tout-de-suite, 

Kristi 

 

FRENCH VOCABULARY 

on est atterri = we've landed

le mesclun = mixed lettuces

le câlin = hug, cuddle

revigoré(e) = refreshed, revived, revitalized 

la dégustation = winetasting

du monde = a lot of people

un petit coucou = a little hello

Veuillez nous suivre la-bas ? = would you please follow us there? 

Mille mercis et peut-être à tout-de-suite = a thousand thanks and maybe we'll see you soon

.facebook_1536861198959"Wild flowers at Beaver Creek" by Heidi Stiteler. Borrowed this picture (and a few other pretty things) from my sister. So good to be here with her! 

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 pointer: to show up

Jean-marc espinasse
Come see Jean-Marc and me! We'll be in Denver next week, 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!

Today's Word: se pointer

    : to show up, turn up

Click here to listen to Jean-Marc read the example sentence
Le simple fait de se pointer permette d'obtenir des résultats avec le temps.
The simple act of showing up allows you to obtain results over time.

Improve your French pronunciation with Exercises in French Phonics.


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE


    by Kristi Espinasse

In one week and two days we leave for Denver! I have been preparing for the 4-week absence by checking off the following liste de choses à faire:

- finir les impôts
- trouver une robe pour le mariage de Kirsten
- choisir un cadeau pour les mariés
- cadeaux pour ma nièce, mon neveu, et ma soeur
- faire un double de clé pour Mom
- finir l'article pour France Today
...et cétéra pantoufle...

....You'd think filing expat taxes (late, I know) was the most difficult thing on this list to accomplish. Mais non! It's another item that's causing so much détresse! It regards the deadline for an article I am writing. The problem is, the more I nitpick at the words, the more I confuse the story!

Let's face it: there is no point to that story (or, possibly, to the one you are currently reading), which brings me to a general observation: People get pretty upset about pointlessness. There's that fear of wasting one's precious time. 

It reminds me of the Colibri fable--the story of a hummingbird who, drop by drop, worked to put out a forest fire. "You're getting nowhere!" another creature in the forest commented, watching the little bird labor on.

Colibri responded, "Peut-être. Mais je fais ma part." Perhaps, but I am doing my part.

The French even have a verb for this... se pointer. It means to show up. So, if all else fails (if this story for which I have labored seems pointless), please remember you've learned at least two good words today. They might even change your life.

*    *    *

Mediterranean forest
There are no colibris, or hummingbirds, in France, so I leave you with a picture of a Mediterranean forest. This beautiful place, "La Gache", was right behind our former vineyard, in St Cyr-sur-Mer.  

FRENCH VOCABULARY
une liste de choses à faire = to do list
les impôts (m) = taxes
une robe = dress
le cadeau = gift
la détresse = distress
et cétéra pantoufle = a funny (old French) way to say etc... (funny, because "une pantoufle" is a slipper)
un colibris = hummingbird
Talk at Shakespeare and Company in 2010
Good news. There'll be a second meetup in Denver, at the Alliance Française, on October 4th. More info soon! (Picture from my talk at Shakespeare & Company bookstore in Paris, in 2010.)

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