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December 2020

Entries from January 2021

Seaside in La Ciotat + learn a dozen useful words (and hear some drunk French) in today's edition

La Ciotat beach
Let's jump right into today's narrative and improve our French! The audio and vocabulary list follow...

When I am old and wrinkled—well into the troisième âge—I want to race along the shores of Brittany on my Mobylette, that most groovy of French bikes with an engine!

I want to be an eccentric vieille dame. I don't want to care about what anyone thinks, as long as I am not imposing myself on their philosophie de vie. I'll ride my old bike along the seashore. I'll wear black goggles and wrap a long wool scarf, in orange potiron, around my neck. Off I'll fly, scarf ends flowing in the wind.

I'll let go of the pedals, WHEEEEEEEEE...! and sing a song by Yves Montand—or a tune from Les Misérables—depending on my mood.

I'll pack a picnic with all my favoris. Inside the panier there'll be boiled eggs, anchoïade, Gratin Dauphinois, pungent cheese, a soft baguette, and a flask of Earl Grey. There'll be tangerines to eat and a few squares of dark chocolate.

I'll gather delicate coquilles from the foamy seashore and tie them to my shoes. You'll hear the jingle of seashells when I pedal by.

My voice will be agreeably hoarse, not from les Gauloises or le vin but from whistling all the day long—a habit I'll have picked up at the beginning of the century when a certain Frenchwoman cautioned: "Les femmes ne sifflent pas! Women don't whistle!" That's when I puckered up and blew another tune... and another... and then one more!

I hope to have a dear old friend, one who is much more excentrique than I. She'll dye her white hair rouge vif or aubergine. We'll tchatche about the current generation and how people need to loosen up and 'profiter un peu de la vie,' enjoy life a little, like us.

I'll say, "Pépé—les oursins!" and my old man will return from the rocky pier where he has spent the morning hunting sea urchins. When he cracks open their coquilles, revealing the mousse-like orange roe, I will remember that real treasures don't come with a price tag.

I want to live near the seagulls so that I may slumber beneath their cries and wake up to the whoosh of the sea. I'll push myself to a stand, smooth back my white locks, adjust a faux tortoiseshell comb, and say "Dieu merci!" for another day.

Before I tuck myself into bed at night I will, once again, empty mes coquilles into an old metal cookie tin, a treasure from long ago. Looking over to my seashells, I will give thanks: my cherished, tired tin runneth over.

***

Kristi and SmokeyThe interesting thing behind today's story, written in 2006, is how the various details have almost all come true! While we do not live in Brittany, we do live near the beach, where my husband enjoys catching sea urchins. Missing from this story is my dog (born 6 years after I wrote the piece). I could not have imagined the joy Smokey would bring!
 
FRENCH VOCABULARY

Click here to listen to all the vocabulary below

le troisième âge = retirement
Mobylette = a particular model of moped, a vintage Mobylette
une vieille dame = a venerable lady
une philosophie (f) de vie = a life philosophy
orange potiron = pumpkin orange
favori(te) = favorite
un panier = a basket
l'anchoïade (m) = anchovy purée mixed with olive oil
un Gratin Dauphinois = a potato casserole with milk, butter and cheese
une coquille = a shell
la Gauloise = brand of cigarettes
le vin = wine
excentrique = eccentric
rouge vif = bright red
aubergine = eggplant purple
tchatcher = to chat (away)
le pépé = grandpa
un oursin = a sea urchin
Dieu merci = Thank God

Now for some "Drunk French"-just for fun, see the video below (click on the image or the arrow, center, to view it. Turn up the volumn).

Walking in the sea in winter wetsuitCan you see the locals braving these icy waters? Wearing wetsuits they walk through the sea daily.

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To Cope in French + Waking up in France to an attempted coup d'état back home

Coastline in la ciotatAs upsetting as it is to wake up to news of an insurrection, most concerning is the effect it could have on our personal relationships. That is, at least, the biggest thing on my mind this morning. The following thoughts began as a pep talk to myself. 

Firstly, hang in there! Tenir bon = tenir le coup
What if the antidote to un coup is to tenir le coup? Such is the definition for tenir bon: to endure, withstand, weather the storm, stay the course. To tenir bon means simply to cope. Nous devons tenir bon!

Tears flowing, a fast-growing knot in the throat, sudden sadness/despair...followed by anger. Did you have a similar reaction when you watched a mob storming our capitol several hours ago? Here again are two words that may help during destabilizing or upsetting times: Tenez bon!

Weather The Storm
The worst possible outcome of this political storming is its power to divide us. No matter which side you are on you won’t be able to win over the other, already entrenched in his or her beliefs. So what can you do? Until you find a peaceful answer, tenez bon! Weather the storm in love and dignity.

I leave you with a cheerful photo taken last Sunday. The dog's tilted head speaks volumes. Tell me what he is saying in the comments.

Amicalement,
Kristi

Dog in front of barber
Both photos in today's edition were taken here in La Ciotat. Please share this blog with someone who loves France. Merci d'avance!

DEVENIR MECENE - BECOME A SUPPORTING MEMBER
Ongoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal. If you find value in this website and would like to keep it going strong, please know your donation towards this effort makes all the difference! A contribution by check or via PayPal (links below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!

♥ $10    
♥ $25    
♥ Or click here to send the amount of your choice

To purchase our memoir, THE LOST GARDENS click here.