Goodbye La Bise: This Pandemic Marks The End of a French Kissing Custom
Etonner and a big surprise on Easter morning

Débrouillard: Share your thoughts, examples, and tips on resourcefulness

Duct tape in french
Mr. Fix-it is at it again! This time he's "mended" the hammock... Years ago I began a list to record the ways in which my husband shamelessly uses duct tape to fix things. I'm kicking myself for not keeping up that list. I'd best put my energy elsewhere, into today's post about resourcefulness.... Enjoy and please share it with a friend.

Today's Word: débrouillard

    : resourceful, crafty, clever

Audio file: click here to listen to the following French


Ses camarades disaient de lui : C'est un malin, c'est un roublard, c'est un débrouillard qui saura se tirer d'affaire. Et il s'était promis en effet d'être un malin, un roublard et un débrouillard. His comrades said of him: He is a clever man, he is a rogue, he is a resourceful man who will be able to get out of trouble. And he had promised himself to be a clever, a rogue and a resourceful. Guy de Maupassant , "Bel-Ami"
 
 
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse
 
Resourcefulness is the word of the day. I love the French translation: débrouillard or ingénioux--and even more than these, I admire those who put it into practice. Before sharing these lovable débrouillards, I'd like to ask you to think about some of the resourceful things you do -- is resourcefulness second nature to you? Has this pandemic has caused you to look at the materials around you in a new light, to see these as supplies?

Coincidentally as I type this, one of those news pop-ups has invaded my screen. The alert reads:

Coronavirus. La France connaîtra en 2020 sa plus forte récession depuis 1945... (in 2020, owing to the coronavirus, France will experience its worst recession since 1945...)

If that isn't a motivation to roll up one's sleeves and begin to look at our "things" and "stuff" differently, then what is? Just what are some of those resources we have at hand? If you are like me, you may be overlooking many of them:

PAN DRIPPINGS
I learned this astuce from our yearly meetup with relatives near Aix-en-Provence: each Christmas Annie and André treat our family to a turkey and mixed bird dinner (André is a chasseur). As les oiseaux roast over the fire, Annie places baking sheets full of baguette slices across the fireplace floor to catch the drippings. Guests enjoy these savory slices alongside Christmas dinner.

This "catch the drips tip" is a delicious reminder of the usefulness of bread as a sponge for collecting les restes: whether it's a delicious pasta sauce coating your pan or this amazing hamburger ratatouille--don't wash that pan! don't wash that bowl--not until you have wiped down all sides with bread slices. (plus, wiping down a pan with bread makes the pan easier to clean...). Transfer the coated bread into a Tupperware or baggy and enjoy the savory toasts  (put them under the grill) at the next meal-- served alongside a green salad they make a satisfying lunch, or serve them as a convivial apéro. I do this every time I remember to, but often, I am at the kitchen sink pouring liquid soap into the pan ... before I realize I have just ruined a good opportunity! 

WINE
There, that title woke you up! Who knew wine was a resource? Here at our place, even if we all don't drink it, none of us (not even I...) let it go to waste. This next tip I learned from the wonderful Babé (bah-bay) who was the best help each time bottling season came around at our vineyard. As we stood side-by-side in the bottling truck, Babé entertained us with stories of her life and a few great tips, too--like how her houseplants drink wine...

"Never let a drop go to waste! When you reach the end of a bottle, fill it with water and go and feed your plants!" Since learning that tip I "rinse" every bottle, filling it with water to collect what wine remains...and feeding it to my garden plants or directly to my compost.

RAGS ARE RICHES
I was supposed to begin this post with a word about conspiracy theories and why, if I were a Truther (is that the word?), or conspiracy theorist, I'd have a thing or two to say about the coronavirus: my theory would be that The Powers That Be (that be trying to eliminate us all?) -- it was THEY who came up with the Minimalist Movement, created Marie Kondo, got us all to clear out our homes entirely before BAM! hitting us with the coronavirus. Now that we've given away almost everything (I donated a pile of bandanas that didn't spark joy! Those kerchiefs would have made good face masks!) we are as vulnerable as ever. We even sold my daughter's sewing machine after it remained in the closet for 4 years. Dumb, dumb, dumb--sewing machines, like flour, are a hot commodity. (speaking of farine, I hope you are all making the 4-ingredient super fastoche bread loaf right now. I make it every night and bake it each morning...in fact I just burned a loaf while typing this post! So much for resources! I'd better end on this note: it is presence of mind that makes us aware of all the wonderful resources around us...and it takes presence of mind, as well, to protect them. 

*    *    *

Burnt sourdough
Is this burnt loaf récupérable? On verra....

It would be a great pleasure to learn about the ways in which you, dear reader, use and repurpose the materials around you. From saving rubber bands to cutting up your husband's T-shirts and making safety masks (see my belle-mère, Marsha's, video)--please share your tips in the comments. Merci d'avance!

FRENCH VOCABULARY

roublard =street smart
débrouillard = resourceful, clever, crafty
une astuce = tip, hack, trick
le chasseur = hunter
un oiseau = bird
les restes = leftovers
la farine = flour
récoupérable = recoverable
on verra = we'll see
Smokey
Our dear Smokey, in between the flower pots.

Smokey and the glycines
Smokey and The Glycines--could be the name of a band. I love this profile pic, with his hooded eyes and a glimpse of that tongue. 
King
What his Tinder photo might look like?

Happy smokey
Faithful friend for life.

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