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Entries from November 2018

How to say Raincoat (or Mackintosh) in French + update on our daughter!

Jackies-trenchcoat
The following was written days after the November 13, 2015 attack in Paris. Thank you for reading and sharing this journal with a friend.

Today's Word: imperméable

    : raincoat, mackintosh, mac
    : weatherproof, impervious (adj)

Imperméable. Nous sommes très fiers de Jackie pour la réalisation de son imperméable.
Raincoat. We are very proud of Jackie for completing her raincoat.
(Hear the example sentence: MP3 file)

A French Christmas - French music for the season. Order here.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE, by Kristi Espinasse


"I don't know what to write about this morning," I said to Jean-Marc, who sat at the coffee table working on his computer. "Maybe YOU could write today's post and talk about the mood here in France at the moment...."

"Laisse-moi réfléchir," Let me think about it,  Jean-Marc said, before answering, "Maybe it is time to tourner la page."

My husband was right. Each of us has shared, in his or her own way, a personal reaction to the Paris attack. November 13th, 2015 will forever be etched into our hearts. Now, the best we can do is to search for the unvanquished joy that still glimmers and sings all around us. And by singing, I'm referring to the toad that's taken up residence beneath our front porch. This week, as we quietly ate lunch beneath the still-shining sun, that bumbling, off-key crapaud piped up again and in so doing shook loose the sadness cloaking this countryside.

Just thinking about our loud-mouthed interloper makes me smile, and I can now summon a host of other hopeful images that have the same heart-strengthening effect. "Tu as raison," I said to Jean-Marc. "Maybe I could write about the trench coat that Jackie just made in design school! How do you say it in French? Le trench?"

"We don't say trench coat in French," Jean-Marc replied.

His simple response absolutely crushed me. But the emotion-packed overreaction was swiftly replaced by a new determination: "Please tell me how to say trench coat in French! Google it... or find the Wikipedia definition.  Better yet, make a sound file, telling everyone how proud we are of our daughter for sewing a trench coat from scratch!" Having let go a barrage of orders, I waited for the answers, only to become doubtful that any of this would add up to a very meaningful offering in my French word journal.

Just then, Jean-Marc's first answer came: "Imperméable. On ne dit pas trenchcoat. On dit imperméable."

As my mind began to translate the word back into English --from trenchcoat to weatherproof--a new, symbolic meaning shined forth and, with it, the image of a protective shield. A further translation might be via the term our French president uttered, in trembling speech, the day of the Paris attacks. In it, he saluted citizens for their sang-froid, or ability to remain calm in the face of terror. 

Examining every last detail of my daughter's "imperméable," I realize the sewing gene she inherited from my Mom skipped a generation (which explains the crooked hem I put in a throw pillow recently). I am extremely proud of Jackie and the trench coat she worked to complete this week despite her own inquiétude. While her compatriots proclaimed "on n'a pas peur!" Jackie was sewing those very same words. 


FRENCH VOCABULARY
laisse-moi réfléchir = let me think about it
tourner la page = to turn the page
le crapaud = toad
tu as raison = you are right
un imperméable = raincoat, mac
le sang-froid = self-control, composure
l'inquiétude = worry, anxiety, concern
on n'a pas peur! (Même pas peur!) = we are not afraid


Jackie trench coat
Last fall, Jackie left behind her trench to begin a new path in the mountains of Colorado. She now works two jobs (server at a luxury hotel and salesgirl in a cozy ski shop). Living vicariously has taken on a new meaning as I check in daily with my daughter to find out as much as I possibly can about her new life.... a long way from France....
Jackie 2 years old in Brittany France
Jackie, when she was 2-years-old, in Brittany.

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and sharing these educational posts from France. Your contribution is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
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"Bonjour Kristi, I've been a reader for years and thought it time to support your blog. Thanks for your frank and genuine stories that have opened a door into real French life."
--Jed

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La Voie Douce--the gentle path here in La Ciotat

Kristi in lavender patch la ciotat
Mom took my picture in a patch of winter lavender, found along La Voie Douce, or Gentle Path--a wonderful place to walk, ride your bike (or trottinette) here in La Ciotat. More about our walk, below.

Today's word:  la voie 

     : path, way

How colorful my daily walks have become since dragging Mom along with me! Even if she never wants to go: Honey, it's cold out, I'm getting back in bed, or Sweetheart, my hip hurts... are her go-to replies. But I've learned how to get her out and moving: Why don't you have a cup of tea? I say, and by the time she's collected herself, she's ready to go!

You know, Mom insists as we make our way out the front gate, I am a VERY physical person! I used to run up and down the hills at my Saguaro Lake cabin!  I nod my head, certain she is, or was, sportive (and will be again), but she--like me--gets into ruts. My goal these days is to stay out of those ruts and to take Mom with me.

Almost as soon as we hit the street Mom's got to tchatcher with everyone. I am extremely ill-at-ease but swallow my resistance and become her nodding cohort and translator: Yes, my mom is saying that you look divine! I say to the woman in patent leather shoes, walking her Jack Russell. She loves your pearls. And thinks your glasses are marvelous. Why does my mom have to be so extravagant with her compliments? The French do not compliment people in the same way!

Ah well, my job is to translate--and get over my reservations!

I can be so darned reserved. Mom might say I'm a stick in the mud (sticks are stiff, like me!) But I'm loosening up. Je me lâche. After all, who cares if we are completely out of culture or acting in a way the French don't....

Or are we? The more time I spend with Mom as she chats up the French, pointing to their fabulous coats or glorious hair or smashing shoes! the more I see them smiling back--in a childlike, happy-to-play-along way. There is something magical in the air once you cut back the barrier (the swift-walking-past with nary a nod to a stranger). Once you engage...there are sparkles. I saw them yesterday, in the eyes of the people Mom spoke to. Enlivened, you could see their spirits transcending cultural norms and rules. (And God knows, with Mom there are no rules!)

It makes me stop to consider, once again, that people are people. Just like us, they want to connect, to laugh, and to live creatively, lightly and more playfully. (Here, dear reader, I must pause my story, to tell you about a couple of French women who were just now walking past my house--only to stop in their tracks. The women are currently holding onto my fence while making clucking sounds. 

Bak bak bak BAK! they are cooing, having been amazed to discover chickens in the neighborhood. So the next time you think the French are trop elegant and untouchable, remember this scene which has given me enough joy to last the week. OK, now to finish writing today's missive...where were we? Oh yes, on a walk with Mom...

Isn't this a nice walk, I say to Mom, as we head home.

Divine. It's just divine!

Well, of course she'd call it that and, I might add, in herspeak, it was indeed fabulous, glorious, and downright smashing! Now to do it again tomorrow.

Postnote: creativity may be contagious. Along our walk Mom saw these beautiful seedpods. Studying them, I noticed they were the same silvery color as Mom's locks. Let me put them in your hair, I said. They'd make a fabulous hair ornament....

FRENCH VOCABULARY

la voie = the path
douce
= soft, gentle
la trottinette = kick scooter
sportive, sportif
= athletic, physical, sporty
tchatcher
= to gab
se lâcher
= to loosen up
à suivre = to be continued

Related story: Canon! How to Compliment a Frenchwoman

Mom picking passiflora flowers
Mom, taking clippings from the side of the path. That's how we almost got in trouble yesterday...and ended up meeting a new friend. A suivre...

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and sharing these educational posts from France. Your contribution is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
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"Bonjour Kristi, I've been a reader for years and thought it time to support your blog. Thanks for your frank and genuine stories that have opened a door into real French life."
--Jed

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To be lazy in French & Why we should go to bed when the sun sets

Hibernation sleep sleeping dog Smokey golden retriever French champagne wine rack
Hibernation is life sleeping inside of us. L'hibernation, c'est la vie qui sommeille en soi. --Claude-may Waia Némia

Today's word: paresser
   
    : to be lazy
    : lounging, loafing

Click here to listen to the French sentence, above

Lately, I've noticed that when the sun goes down I'm ready to get in bed. But I wonder if 6 o'clock in the evening isn't an ungodly hour to tuck in. After all, shouldn't one be more productive--even if that means watching a sitcom?

Meantime, je me mets sous la couette and tune in to Absolutely Fabulous (the outtakes are my latest guilty pleasure, one that guarantees a belly laugh--and don't we all need that?). 



I was feeling sheepish about slipping off to bed si tôt, until I discovered my animals doing the very same thing at sundown. It began with my hens, who are now putting themselves to bed at 5 at night. You know when two industrious hens have called it a day it says something about natural instincts.

Do the stars have instincts too?

The French word coucher de soleil means the sun is going to bed...so if the sun's going to bed and my chickens and dog are too, maybe they're on to something and we should take note, me and you?

I no longer feel bad about tucking in around 6 pm. As for watching raunchy videos, once I get Edina and Patsy (the duo in the clip above...can you make out what they are saying about France and wine?) out of my system I promise to move on The National Geographic Channel (or whatever educational programs you might recommend. Your suggestions are welcome in the comments!)

Jean-marc sleeping la vie en rose

FRENCH VOCABULARY
le sommeil = sleep
paresser = to be lazy, to laze about
sous la couette = under the duvet, under the covers
le coucher de soleil = sundown
une sitcom = comédie de situation
si tôt = so early
l'envie d'hiberner = the desire to hibernate

Wordscover

If you are new to this blog, you might enjoy my book Words in A French Life. The introductory chapter will tell you why I moved to France and how I came to know my husband. The chapter Viager talks about a reverse-mortgage my husband and I bought into when we were very young--when 75 seemed old to us. (It doesn't anymore. Don't miss this colorful chapter!)

Kristi and smokey and lemons

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and sharing these educational posts from France. Your contribution 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


"Bonjour Kristi, I've been a reader for years and thought it time to support your blog. Thanks for your frank and genuine stories that have opened a door into real French life."
--Jed

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Tu te moques de moi? Why I don't knit anymore....

Smokey and Kristi and lemons and cable knit
I hope you'll enjoy the following re-run or repost or revisit (ah, better word!)--it is the chance to see a story that would otherwise be lost to the spiraling depths of this blog's archives (do you ever go there?). Thanks for reading (or re-reading).

Today's Expression: se moquer de quelqu'un

    : to poke fun at somebody, to tease, to pull somebody's leg

Audio file & Example Sentence: Download MP3 or Wav file

Tu te moques de moi? Are you making fun of me? 



Dear Mr. Chief Grape,

Tant pis pour toi! Too bad for you! Because of an ill-chosen word (a "term of endearment" you argue?)... you will not have le privilège of sporting my very first knitting experiment... 

...but Smokey will!!! 

P1030985
 No. These are not garment goggles...
The headband that I had been working on for you (to keep your precious locks out of your eyes when pulling all those weeds out from between the grapevines)... that work-in-progress bandeau took a swift deviation when my knitting needles froze, midair, on hearing your flippant commentaire.

Alors -- Next time you stride into the room and notice your wife, her hands twisted like a pretzel, clutching a pair of slippery knitting needles, or aiguilles, yes, next time you see her eyes croisés in concentration, her fingers foaming from frustration... 

Resist! 

Resist such cheeky commentary as this: "Ça va, Mamie?"--or lose your right to wear an original, artisanal, (hysterical?) "yarn headpiece". My first!  

Voila, Mr. Chief Grape, Ça t'apprendra! Yes, that ought to teach you to hold your tongue so as to avoid doozies such as "How's it goin', Granny?" 

So now, let's be clear as cataracts: I AM NOT YOUR MAMIE!

Got that? Tu pige? Meantime, your loss is Smokey's gain! Ol' Smok-A-Roo seems pleased with his fashion accessory, which he deems "a little bit rock-n-roll, a little bit literary" (he hears David Bowie started the trend, after James Joyce... in fact, after a long loopy STRING of elegant men.

P1030969

Quelle allure! Yarn + fur! Smokey is a fashion victime in the true sense of the word! 

P1030996

Furthermore, Smokey appreciates that "rough edge", that air de mystère that the hand-knit head garment affords him.... (now if he could only afford a pair of scissors to release him from it...)

So, Mr. Chief Grape, it is bye-bye bandau! Your would-be headband now belongs to this glam ham! Smokey is so pleased with his accoutrement that he has even put in an order for another merveille ... knit from no other than "mémé"!

(He would humbly like to request a knitted sling, or une écharpe-langue for that droopy tongue of his (the aftermath, or les séquelles, of a horrible accident from his puppyhood).

Hey Mr. Chief Grape -- maybe you, too, could benefit from a homemade tongue-sling? It might hold that loose tongue of yours in place!

Bisous,

"Mamie"

 

Related Blog Posts (click on the titles to read them)

"Learning to Knit". A shopkeeper takes the time to teach.

"Wounded": Our dog Smokey's accident. 

 

FRENCH VOCABULARY

tant pis pour toi! = too bad for you!

le privilège = privilege

le bandeau = headband

le commentaire = comment

alors = so then

croisé = crossed

une aiguille = needle (sewing)

une aiguille à tricoter = knitting needle

ça va, mamie? = how's it going, granny?

la mémé = granny

tu piges? (piger) = get it?

une merveille = marvel, wonder

bisous = kisses (love)

 

Reverse dictionary

to hold one's tongue = tenir sa langue

P1030993

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and sharing these educational posts from France. Your contribution 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


"Bonjour Kristi, I've been a reader for years and thought it time to support your blog. Thanks for your frank and genuine stories that have opened a door into real French life."
--Jed

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP: Has a friend forwarded you this post? Receive your own free subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here

 

Voir un film en VO, Bohemian Rhapsody, and Freddie Mercury's new fan

Movie theater seats in la ciotat cinema lumiere
Because I forgot to mention, in my essay below, what it was that most moved me about the biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody, I'll say it now: Freddie Mercury refused to let anyone, whether a close family member or a hot-in-pursuit suitor, define him. With his bold example he won my heart.

Today's Expression: voir un film en VO (version originale)

    : to see a movie in its original language

Jean-Marc and I have not been on a date in a very long time or, as they say here, depuis un bail. Instead of whining about it, I asked him out....

Let's go on a hike! I growled.

The hike got postponed but our date didn't... after my old man suggested a movie. The story of Freddie Mercury is playing en VO, at the cinéma, he said. I wasn't gripped by the suggestion, but, harrumph, it was that or the statu quo (does that mean same ol' same ol'? Well same ol' was getting old!)

Did you know our seaside town, La Ciotat, is the birthplace of cinéma? Here is where the Lumière Brothers set up camp--eventually building a palace for themselves and their cohorts. It is still there today and, for 250k euros you can buy an apartment within the rundown relic--something that might've appealed to Freddie Mercury who, I learned last night, had a whimsical taste and who might have enjoyed the historic movie theater inside the building.

Long digression over, let me continue about last night's date. Jean-Marc and I entered the Cinéma Lumière movie theater and, after ordering popcorn (they are now offering salted! Incredible, I only ever noticed sugared popcorn at French movie theaters) made our way upstairs to salle deux.

The little room was empty but for 10 rows of retro movie seats. Other moviegoers arrived only to decamp from seat to seat (the fauteuils are ancient and lumpy). I sunk right into mine and when the lights went out we were enraptured for the next 2 hours. So obviously moved was each an every spectator in the room, that nobody moved when the film credits came on at the end. 

He had us at incisors. He being the inimitable Freddie Mercury (played by the amazing Rami Malek). I was born with four additional incisors, Freddie was explaining in the opening to Bohemian Rhapsody, after two dejected bandmembers (who'd just lost their lead singer) made fun of his overbite. More space in my mouth means more range, he added, with flourish (his operatic voice singing to our own artistic genius buried somewhere deep inside, we hope). That is when the French, watching the entire film en VO, laughed out loud and were visibly (or audibly?) smitten by the hero.

Smitten, to say the least! I could not get home fast enough to cram. Determined to make up for lost time and watch and read anything I could find on the internet about Freddie Mercury who, the film enlightened us, was Parsi--born Farrokh Bulsara in Zanzibar, in 1946. He moved from India to England in his teens. Am I the only one who thought he was from Queens?

(No, I didn't really think this. But enough about my ignorance!)

I am currently engrossed in the Daily Mirror article Why Freddie Mercury Never Got His Teeth Fixed. The answer sums up all that I have not put into words about why he is the perfect mentor for a writer like me--and for anyone struggling to express themselves: He chose art over artifice.

This will mean something different to each of us. 
Perhaps the key word here is meaning: Freddie's gift wasn't to define it--but to get us to feel it. He did that with his additional incisors, his glorious voice--its operatic highs and lows reminding us of the path we are all walking. Freddie Mercury was never above us, he was equally one of us. A misfit-come-megastar, he never lost his heart. And he gave his best until the very end.

Carry on, carry on. (
I leave you with the lyrics I was humming on my morning walk. I'm new to Queen, so I've got lots of catching up to do, but a couple of words from Bohemian Rhapsody come back to me, and are all the advice a struggling writer or a struggling human needs: Carry on, carry on.)

Amicalement,

Kristi

P.S. Thank you for your tech empathy and computer help (especially Eric Lester), following the hop the fence post. My laptop is up to speed, after running all the updates which were clogging it!

Hp laptoc

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and sharing these educational posts from France. Your contribution 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


"Bonjour Kristi, I've been a reader for years and thought it time to support your blog. Thanks for your frank and genuine stories that have opened a door into real French life."
--Jed

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP: Has a friend forwarded you this post? Receive your own free subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here

 

They hopped the fence: how our ideas (and our chickens) take off

doves and pigeons by Kristi Espinasse
"Writing is for the birds!" Photo taken here in La Ciotat this morning, when things were peaceful....

Today's Word: les guillemets

  : quotation mark

I set out to tell you a story about fugitive hens (no worries, they're back) when every possible distraction known to man or bird befell me. Welcome to a typical beginning to each and every writing session.

If I am currently typing this on my mobile phone, squinting at a tiny screen while hunched over my kitchen counter, it is because I refuse to let them win!

Them are the hurdles I've suffered in the 37 minutes since firing up that godforsaken laptop in order to compose a colorful récit.

Them are different or the same every time. This morning thems a mind-numbingly slow computer (this binary slug no longer allows me to type guillemets, so I have to use italics instead--in fact none of the numbers or characters on my laptop's numeric keypad work. Type the small c-with its cedilla-and I get an empty space. A blank!).

Earlier, d'un seul coup, my lazy HP switched keyboards on me, from AZERTY to QWERTY, meaning every time I type m I get a point-virgule (or something--who can possibly recall details at a time like this?).

Ça rame! Ça rame! Waiting 37 minutes for my (relatively new) PC to warm up, an opening line to this story is thrumming on my mind (or was). But as fresh new computer glitches arise and test me, I've lost my story's delivery along with bits of my memory.

Extremely frustrated I want to slam something (not my laptop! How 'bout a pastis?) Instead, I stomp on over to the kitchen counter, where my smartphone is charging...and where I am now reduced to typing with two thumbs, which feels dumber than bad grammar. Au fait...

Them may have stolen a lot this morning–-nerves and nearly my sanity--but thems still haven't taken away my tenacity! I leave you with an unexpected vocabulary section (how different the words would be had all gone smoothly). 

Amicalement,

Kristi

 

FRENCH VOCABULARY

un récit = story

les guillemets = quotation marks

un point-virgule = semi-colon

Ça rame = it's chugging along (literally, it's paddling)

d'un seul coup = all at once

un pastis = anis-flavored alcohol

au fait = by the way

amicalement = cheers, fondly, yours...


REVERSE DICTIONARY

keyboard = le clavier

computer = un ordinateur

QWERTY = a standard English-language typewriter or computer keyboard on which the first six letters of the second row are q, w, e, r, t, and y --https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/QWERTYAZERTYkeyMerriam-Webster

AZERTY - The AZERTY keyboard first appeared within the last decades of the 19th century in France as an alternative layout to the American QWERTY version of typewriters -Technopedia.com

MVIMG_20181115_075520

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and sharing these educational posts from France. Your contribution 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


"Bonjour Kristi, I've been a reader for years and thought it time to support your blog. Thanks for your frank and genuine stories that have opened a door into real French life."
--Jed

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP: Has a friend forwarded you this post? Receive your own free subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here

 

Mise-en-Scène: A funny thing happened before the camera got rolling!

View from chateau de pibarnon
Today, photos and a bêtise or gaffe or no-no during Saturday's filming at Château de Pibarnon. (I hope this compte-rendu isn't a further no-no--as I don't want to end up on the cutting room floor!).

Today's Word: La mise-en-scène

    : staging

 

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

When you gotta go, you gotta go! by Kristi Espinasse

Recently, Jean-Marc and I had the chance to help out with a French documentary about how France is seen abroad by the ones who love that country. A journalist was interested in hearing my story, after learning about our Franco-American life on a vineyard. There was one little pépin--we no longer live on a vineyard; thankfully this part was worked out when a kindly châtelain agreed to let us film chez lui.

We arrived at Château de Pibarnon after sunrise Saturday morning, to meet up with Eric de Saint Victor and the film crew. As Eric had a flight leaving in the next few hours, we quickly got to work...

Eric chateau de pibarnon
Eric de Saint Victor and the film crew


There is so much about filmmaking that I did not know. Naively, I figured we would stay an hour or so at the vineyard, then return home to La Ciotat to shoot the segment about blogging. (I had a bunch of cookies, madeleines, and other pick-me-ups waiting at home, but we would not get to those any time soon...)

Jean-marc talks wine
Jean-Marc, sharing about the difficult decision to sell our vineyard

After 5 hours at the vineyard, we peeled out of the vines in time for lunch--and not before I had made a few cringe-worthy gaffes. Gaffe number one occurred after we were fitted with microphones and instructed to drive up to the caveau de vente, or sales room. As we reshot that scene several times, I noticed a few things about the film crew, and shared my flippant thoughts with Jean-Marc as we waited in our car for the next Action! call.

They are such a nice team, I began, buckling my seatbelt and chatting with Jean-Marc who was at the wheel. Everyone is so friendly! But I don't think the journalist and the cameraman are getting along... I grinned. 

That's when Jean-Marc looked over at me, matched my grin, and pointed to my microphone. The one I'd forgotten all about....

No time to die of embarrassment, the cameraman and the journalist (wearing headphones...) signaled in unison now for us to drive, and the filming began again, only this time my face was flushed red. Creeping out of the car after the scene was over, I rejoined the film crew. The soundman (wearing headphones...) discreetly pointed out to me: You have a mute button on that little box (in your pocket) if you need it....

I smiled profusely at him and the other two professionals (my eyes pleading forgiveness). Thankfully punishment came quickly enough and I could pay for my chatty sin with the following humiliation, which garnered from the others, I hope, a good inward laugh...at my expense this time.

This happened after I finally got to the restroom after holding it all morning. Once inside the WC, I tore off half my outfit only to discover the dreaded microphone in full volume recording...

A big dilemma ensued: to go or not to go? But oh! oh! I had to go!

Not wanting so much as one tinkle to be recorded (and imagining the upcoming remix or montage), I searched desperately for the mute button--and could not find it! I tried ripping the cord out of the unit, but became confused by technology (so bad I had to faire pipi). In a last-ditch effort, I gagged the little microphone from hell, the little tattletale, with the help of my wool blazer.

And I promise to pull the wool over my own lips, next time I get the urge to gossip!! 

 

--
Many thanks to the very kind (and good-humored!) film crew. I will share more about the production and team members when the documentary comes out. Jean-Marc and I are one of many to participate in it...at least I hope to appear in it...after today's little story!

FRENCH VOCABULARY

une bêtise = a stupid thing
une gaffe = a blunder
compte-rendu = an account of something, a report
la mise-en-scène = staging
pépin = snag
chatelain = chateau owner
le caveau de vente = wine salesroom
le WC = toilet, lavatory
le montage = editing session

REVERSE DICTIONARY
to tinkle = faire pipi

Kristi in cdp vines
Tinkle tinkle little star. After posting this picture on social media, I did get told not to let this experience go to my head. Rest assured that before anything has the chance to go to my head, life will always intervene (as in today's story of the latrine!)

But if I ever get out of line--just call me Tinkle Tinkle Little Star.

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and sharing these educational posts from France. Your contribution is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
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"Bonjour Kristi, I've been a reader for years and thought it time to support your blog. Thanks for your frank and genuine stories that have opened a door into real French life."
--Jed

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Caviar d'Aubergine: An easy, delicious family recipe for you

Eggplant aubergine raindrops gouttes pluie potager garden france
Merci beaucoup for the sweet messages, encouragements, and support you left following the anniversary post. I am fired up for another 16 years of writing and will read your bonne continuations whenever I need a motivational pick-up!

Fun fact: this post will take you 2 minutes and 38 seconds to read to the end. If you were to read it out loud, that would take 4 minutes and one second (stats from wordcounter.net, which I use to check my article drafts).

Today's word: la chair


    : flesh, meat, body

avoir la chair de poule = to have goosebumps


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

With so much wind under my wings (thank you again for your notes regarding the 17th year of this journal!), I thought I would simply share (funny, I typed *chair* first time around--the word of the day was on my mind and that is how the French pronounce it!), yes I thought I'd chair or flesh-out the story of a simple meal.

This impromptu dinner happened last night, after Mom and I sat down to déguster a few of the vegetables I'd prepared during the day: some patates douces that needed attention, as well as aubergines that were getting so big and ripe in the potager they would soon go to seed! Fearing sabotage--that weird emotional trance that has us ignoring our opportunities--I grabbed my shears and went to collect the two giant eggplants. A very dear golden retriever, our Smokey, followed along to help....

Smokey golden retriever and eggplant aubergine raindrops france

Cutting open the giant berries (unbelievably eggplant are classified this way!), I was amazed to see how beautiful they were: la chair was firm and bright--only some small seeds that were easily removed with a handy jagged-edged grapefruit spoon. I had in mind to make my mother-in-law's caviar d'aubergine dish, only, skimming her handwritten cahier, I could not find la recette (I did bump into Michèle-France's delicious bananes flambées, and her instructions very much as in the au pif recipe I gave you last week!).

So I did a google search, combining the gist of a few French websites to get exact ingredients for the most basic recipe of eggplant caviar. Here's my simple version, and it was simply delicious over toast--and as an accompaniment to les cuisses de canard (canned, talk about an easy dinner!), and the roasted sweet potatoes (simply halve the patates and sprinkle on olive oil, herbes de provence and salt and pepper on top, then into the four at 350F for 30 minutes).

CAVIAR D'AUBERGINES
 Eggplant Caviar

- 2 large eggplants, halved and scored
-2 garlic cloves
- sprigs of rosemary (optional)
- swirls of olive oil, sprinkles of salt, pepper, herbs
- half a lemon
- olive oil to taste (a few tablespoons to a half cup!)

After topping the eggplant halves with olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbs, tuck a few sprigs of rosemary and some quartered garlic cloves into the cuts of the scored eggplant. Now turn the eggplant halves face down on a cooking sheet and bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until the eggplant is soft enough to crush inside.

Once cooked, remove only the rosemary, then scoop out the flesh and add to a mixing bowl. I do not have a food processor, but a simple fork was enough to crush and blend the eggplant flesh. Add the juice from half a lemon and olive oil (and more salt and pepper) to taste.

Oh, and what taste! My Mom absolutely loved it, and she is not a fan of eggplant! She actually had seconds and thirds--so you must tenter la recette--give this recipe a shot--and share it with your friends and loved ones. It is wonderful comfort food, too.

It's lunchtime here in France, and so I'm off to reheat and repeat last night's meal. I will try to take a picture and add it to this post. So please check back, and thanks, as always, for reading. I'm so glad you are here. 

Amicalement,

Kristi

P.S. Vocab section coming soon. I'm reheating lunch now for Mom and me..... Update: here's the photo. That's the caviar d'aubergine, on a piece of toast smothered in pan juices (fat) from the duck!:
Eggplant caviar sweet potatoes duck
FRENCH VOCABULARY
la chair = flesh
déguster = to taste, savor, eat
la patate douce = sweet potato
une aubergine = eggplant
le cahier = notebook
la recette = recipe
au pif = by guesswork (or by eye-balling it)
tenter = to attempt something

Kristi and jules christmas lights
Photo and caption from my Instagram: I know it is early, and I don't want to stress anybody out...but it was Mom's idea to get a Christmas tree today. Then again, Mom keeps a Christmas tree all year round--dazzling with lights, because, she says, Light is everything! Amen!

Aubergines poivrons pommes slate ardoise
I fell in love with mousse before caviar. In the first case "mousse" was a charming street in Marseilles... and "caviar" was what was waiting for me at the end of that winding road, just a French football field from the sea. (Read the rest of this tender story, from the archives here).

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and sharing these educational posts from France. Your contribution 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


"Bonjour Kristi, I've been a reader for years and thought it time to support your blog. Thanks for your frank and genuine stories that have opened a door into real French life."
--Jed

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A Bundle of Joy: Celebrating The 17th year of this journal!

Bundle of oy

The anniversary of this French word journal passed quietly by last month, unbeknownst even to me. But now that I've put two-and-two together, I'm not letting this milestone go unfêted (another lapse into franglais?). In keeping this brief, I will share the one thing that comes to mind when I think about writing this newsletter to you, and that is "Bundle of joy."

Now here's the part that is étonnante: the act of writing does not = "bundle of joy" to me--nonpas du tout! (For a very long time that fact alone made me believe I was a writing imposter and not un écrivain...) Neither does putting together these blog posts--does HTML rhyme with "joie" in your universe? Heavens no!--unless you're a hacker or "pirate informatique" and btw don't you love French?! 

No, this "bundle of joy" of which I speak comes after delivery (just like a baby!)--after the uncertainty, after the effort, after the still-to-this-day doubt that maybe I've made a mistake in my delivery?

I read somewhere early on--or was it a friend who warned me...: Once the story is out there it is no longer your own. It belongs to the reader who will interpret it as only he or she can--based on each and every experience, good or bad, he or she has ever had.

Sacrebleu! 
That might have put me off writing then and there, except it didn't and now I look up from my computer screen and here I am in my 17th year of sending you these missives (I learned that word--along with a host of others and lots of grammar and geography too--from you. Your readership has been an education to me!).

As I pause today to mark this milepost in under 370 words, je tiens à vous dire, I have to tell you how deeply grateful I am for your "just show up and we've got your back" audience attitude. It reminds me we are on this creative journey together and this is why I write: for the connection and for the joy it brings.

Amicalement,

Kristi

Stone building with autumn leaves in france

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and sharing these educational posts from France. Your contribution 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


"Bonjour Kristi, I've been a reader for years and thought it time to support your blog. Thanks for your frank and genuine stories that have opened a door into real French life."
--Jed

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP: Has a friend forwarded you this post? Receive your own free subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here