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June 2019

Entries from July 2019

How to say 'minor crime' or misdemeanor' in French? And a fishy story for you today....

Municipal garbage
Is it OK to toss your trash into a neighbor's garbage can? Or into a city trash receptacle? Are there limits to this? Is it a minor offence or are your greatly offended to find another's trash...for you to manage? Read on, in the following story.

Today's word: le délit mineur

    : misdemeanor, minor offence, minor crime

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE, by Kristi Espinasse

It all began with a very fishy story--this malentendu between my neighbor and me. And how ironic that the whole matter was cleared up the day I threw out the trash.

 
Paused there at my front gate making sure the coast was clear, I had not imagined running into Mom's friend, who lived in a condo across the street. A week-old swordfish hidden in a sack behind my back, the idea was to avoid seeing anybody as I hurried over to the municipal garbage can to pitch the leftovers rotting in our frigo. Heaven forbid anyone would witness my stinky délit mineur (was it legal to use the public poubelle for one's private waste management? It's tricky to keep up with the garbage when the truck's already passed and you've missed the latest pick-up!).
 
There was no way this stinky espadon was going to sit 3 days in the back yard trash can. Recently I had come up with another option when things in our fridge perished: la poubelle municipale ! Intended for the plastic cups, cigarette packages, beer bottles and icecream wrappers the tourists sometimes tossed over our fence on their way back from the beach, this handy poubelle de rue is emptied daily. Surely I could use it for a fishy emergency?... Little did I know the Universe had an emergency of its own: to unite a couple of estranged voisines.... 
 
***
To be continued.... Sorry to have to cut the story in two. To make up for it, I've packed extra vocabulary in the first three paragraphs :-) 

FRENCH VOCABULARY
le malentendu = misunderstanding
le frigo = fridge
le délit mineur = misdemeanor 
la poubelle = garbage
l'espadon (m) = swordfish
le voisin, la voisine = neighbor

Field of phacelia
We received some encouraging feedback on Chapter 6 of the vineyard memoir Jean-Marc and I are writing together. I leave you with readers comments as well as another excerpt from The Lost Gardens

[A] heart-wrenching telling of a trying period. So vividly told. I remember reading the "same" stories while you were living them, and you were similarly adept at making the period sound stressful but ultimately rewarding... --Janet

Your raw, honest account of how you really felt at this time is stunning. And your sincerity is overwhelming. This story from you and Jean-Marc , written individually in your own words, is brilliant. Looking forward to future chapters. Bravo! --Chris

CHAPTER 6 (excerpt from The Lost Gardens)

On top of our bickering about all the little details of the harvest, Jean-Marc wasn’t himself lately. As he set out in every direction to bring this whole wine project together, he was losing a lot of weight. And he was constantly on the phone. I knew he was updating friends on his various exploits at his new vineyard, as well as ringing up suppliers--whether for extra harvest buckets or to locate a needed part for the tractor he'd just learned to operate. But were all of the calls to professionals? I began to wonder. What if there was another woman? As silly as that would seem when we were alone out here among fields of grapes, it would explain my husband's unusual behavior--especially the disconnection I had felt from him lately....
 
Click here to order The Lost Gardens, and begin reading right away.

Kristi harvesting
Reader feedback on Chapter 6 of The Lost Gardens:

How overwhelming it must have been to know you must help and figure what was needed to help your husband on your own. It must have been a physically demanding and draining experience. Certainly, the young female harvesters couldn't escape your notice. I am glad to hear that you had a "letting go" experience. It is so important to realize that we cannot control everything. --Teri

Has a friend forwarded you this post? Receive your own FREE subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution is vivement appréciée! 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, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle


s'emparer & seizing the mystery of communication from 'beyond'

Johan_Barthold_Jongkind_010

I wonder if today's story is confusing or if it may sound strange? Then again, telepathy--whether with the living or the dead--is a mystery! (painting from 1880 of  our seaside town, La Ciotat, by Johan Barthold Jongkind)

Today's word: s'emparer

    : to grab, seize, take hold of

Example Sentence:
Au tournant du xxe siècle, les partisans du spiritisme s’émerveillent des progrès de la technologie et s’en emparent pour démontrer la validité de leurs thèses sur les phénomènes parapsychiques, comme la télépathie ou l’interaction avec les défunts. -Les spectres magnétiques de Thomas Alva Edison

Translation:
At the turn of the twentieth century, partisans of spiritualism marvel at the progress of technology and seize it to demonstrate the validity of their theses on parapsychic phenomena, such as telepathy or interaction with the deceased.

 A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

The Other Side

During a morning swim in the sea, I begin looking for my daughter who works in one of the paillotes de plage, or beach restaurants right here along the shore. Normally, I try not to be so conspicuous when I pass by Jackie's workplace (often on foot, via the boardwalk)...but after her father nearly ran his canoe ashore while spying on her, I figure a lap or two...in the near vicinity... is innocent enough.

 
Some 30 feet off shore, wearing my giant sunhat, I'm doggy paddling past the restaurant and its rows and rows of transats. Glancing over the sun chairs to the dining area, I can't see my daughter. I do see the bartender, the beach attendants, and the manager. I'm sure Jackie is working today... Why isn't she anywhere in sight? 
 
When next I catch sight of her and begin watching my daughter from afar, I am visited by a thought that's been on my mind lately, especially since close friends of ours are grieving the loss of their son. I wonder as they do: are the dearly departed watching us from beyond? And can they somehow communicate with us?
 
Being somewhat in another realm myself --I mean, far out in the seafloating--whilst my daughter is on material ground (the solid shore)--my swim provides another perspective on this afterlife mystery....
 
Looking to shore, I can see my dear one. She is currently unaware of my loving regard from "beyond" as she goes about her busy workday. 
 
Ah, she is wearing her new shorts and the restaurant's t-shirt. Is that a white bandana in her hair? I see she is sporting a ponytail today. And look at her go! She's her usual efficient self...when at work at least! 
 
I am now smiling from afar when suddenly my daughter pauses and her eyes scan the horizon.  Does she sense that I am out here? Oh, that gut feeling. Hers is particularly strong!
 
What with hundreds of tourists in the water, I easily hide behind a cluster of swimmers. It's best she does not know I am around. It will only interrupt her. And she needs to stay on track. Oh! There are some customers! Hurry, Jackie! I can see them even before my daughter does, and she suddenly turns, as if by an inkling... and greets them with that lovely smile. 
 
My heart swells so big that I begin to float away, along the shimmering barrier that separates us, when I see my dear girl turn once more. She is walking towards me now! 
 
Ouf! She is only on her way to set another table (still completely oblivious of my presence on the other side of the shore). Good. Keep going, Jackie. You are doing great! Today the restaurant, tomorrow the sky's the limit.
 
I'm swimming away now. I've got to let her be. Goodbye my girl. Though you can't see it--somebody, on The Other Side, is sending you good energy!
 
 
FRENCH VOCABULARY
s'emparer = to grab, seize 
la paillotte = a restaurant along the beach that can be taken down at the end of the season
le transat = sunbed, deckchair
ouf! = phew!
 
BOOK UPDATE: THE LOST GARDENS, by Jean-Marc & Kristi Espinasse
Jean-marc and kristi around 2010
Photo of Jean-Marc and me taken midway into the first vineyard project--right when things were calming down--and just before life stirred up once again...

Reader feedback from Chapter 5 of our memoir, The Lost Gardens:

I had always wondered how you actually got going, so my thanks to Jean-Marc for the insight. I think that for me there is sense of wonder at the way you both balance your writings.  The story would not be the same if it came from a single author. Keep it up. --Mike Young

Thank you, Mike, for your note! I hope it will encourage others who have not yet bought the book, to jump in and follow our ongoing narrative about our vineyards and our struggles. 

Vineyard in Sainte Cecile les vignes

Excerpt from The Lost Gardens

At some point, I started to be disconnected from the reality since, at that point, everything I was doing ended in a positive result. This led to a lot of excess confidence which caused some big tensions between me and my wife. But since I felt certain I was right, I thought that these disagreements were not worth debating and I was sticking to my own ideas, insisting on them even when they made my wife nervous or uncomfortable as she held on to those "unstable ladders" that I climbed, two rungs at a time.

Even with no experience, I really felt like I was going to rock the wine world with the upcoming harvest, making wines which would rapidly become the most famous ones in the area... and beyond.

That was indeed my euphoric state of mind a few days before our first harvest began...and this, just one year after I had suffered from my first depression.

Click here to order The Lost Gardens, and begin reading right away.

Jean-marc t-shirt

Has a friend forwarded you this post? Receive your own FREE subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution is vivement appréciée! 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, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle


Oreilles, ecouter & 25 years ago tomorrow....

Town hall marriage
July 4th 1994 - For our civil ceremony, 25 years ago, we were surrounded by close friends. More about marriage, in today's chronique.... 

Two words for you today: oreilles & écouter...
(look for the translation in the quote below)

Ouvrez grand les oreilles. La meilleure chose que vous puissiez faire pour renforcer votre relation c’est de parler moins et d’écouter plus.

Open your ears. The best thing you can do to strengthen your relationship is to talk less and listen more.


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

"25 Ears"

Setting out to write about our 25th marriage anniversary, I was wondering how to distill a quarter of a century into a neat and tidy blog entry...when I absentmindedly typed a title to this essay. A moment later, I noticed the coquille, or typo. Well isn't that the truth! I thought. 25 Ears is what every person needs in order for a relationship to succeed.

I don't know that success is the right word for this, either. This commitment. This partnership. This union. Success can be fleeting and nobody anticipates that when they walk down the aisle. Endurance is a better word. The verb is even more poignant: to endure.  I wonder what to endure is in French? Hang on--let me go look....

Here it is. The French word is supporter:

to
support, bear, endure, stand, carry, sustain....

Oh, yes! I like that for marriage! Especially the word sustain. But just what does that mean? I asked the same question, recently, in our memoir-in-progress, The Lost Gardens.  I leave you with an excerpt, below. As for distilling 25 years of marriage into a tidy post. No! It may take hundreds of pages....
 
I sometimes wonder what is the glue holding us together? Surely it is the wedding vows we took so seriously. Or could it be our insecurities? Our need for family? Or our fears? (Of what? Loneliness? Of making a mistake? Disappointing others?) Or is there...deep down in the depths of our souls...a Holy Grail answer? 

Perhaps as important as what keeps us together is what threatens to drive us apart. And though I have an idea or two, what if, after all, I am wrong? We are such complex things, we humans. And yet among the intertangled fibers of our hearts we all long for one and the same thing: unconditional love.

Is this why we behave so unlovably at times? Are we only testing Love's infinite waters? 

 
*   *   *
I spoke to my father on the telephone last night. He told me he will be happy to read our memoir when it is finished. I told him I completely understand his preference to read it straight through, and not in installments

For those of you who prefer the finished manuscript, remember just that, it will be 'finished': the finishing touches will have gone in and certain material may be taken out (like chapter 2. What was I thinking?!).

I was telling my Mom just the other day, 'Who knows, perhaps after the chapters are written we will remove my entries and let Jean-Marc's story stand alone.' One thing's sure: his chapters are flowing beautifully! Jean-Marc is gradually telling the story of what led up to his crash: the fiasco that led to this decision to sell our dream vineyard.

For those who want the unedited grits-and-all version, do not miss our book-in-progress which you can begin reading immediately. Every book sale that comes in sustains ( supports, bears, endures, stands, carries) our writing project. Mille mercis for the strength  you have given us!

Kristin and Jean-Marc Espinasse by Cynthia Gillespie-Smith
photo by Cynthia Gyllespie-Smith

 

Has a friend forwarded you this post? Receive your own FREE subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution is vivement appréciée! 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, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle