mouchard

Trompe-l'oeil (c) Kristin Espinasse
Are you an extrovert or an introvert? Casanière, or a "homebody"... like me? How do you feel when you finally venture out? Read on, in today's missive. As for today's word, look carefully: it's not a mouchoir, or a handkerchief! Not even a Kleenex, sniff! (Photo taken in Saint-Roman-de-Malegarde, a village or two away from where today's story takes place.)

mouchard (moo shar) noun, masculine

    :  informer, police spy; sneak, stool pigeon

Synonym: un espion (une espionne) = a spy 

le mouchardage = spying, informing, sneaking
moucharder = to sneak on, to inform on 
une moucharde = female spy, sneak, informer 

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc read this sentence: Download MP3 or Wav file

Dans tous les cafés à Paris, pendant la guerre, il y avait des mouchards qui écoutaient...
In all the cafés in Paris, during the war, there were spies who listened... 

  Exercises in French Phonics Exercises in French Phonics is... 
" a great book for learning French pronunciation"
"useful and practical"
"high quality material, good value for your money" --from Amazon customer reviews. Order your copy here.
. 

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

Spying on La Maraîchère

Not too far from our vineyard, just past a blue-gray oliveraie and a modest truffle orchard, beyond which a lovelorn donkey brays through the night, its woeful calls answered by the cranky aboiements of the neighbor dogs (who'd like to get some sleep, thank you very much!) there stands a fruits-and-vegetables shack.

It would be tempting to call the small structure une paillote--but paillotes are normally found near la plage, and are little freestanding structures with roofs en paille, or straw; not this hutch, c'est tout en bois, or all in wood, from its head to its "toes", which might, for the sake of art, be represented as so many stubby wooden crates that litter the edge of the little maraîchère hut.

Each time I go to the produce stand, which is found on private property, opposite the owner's mas, just up the road from le poulailler, I mumble to myself (and sometimes aloud, within ear reach of the proprietress), je dois venir ici plus souvent. Instead, I have the shameful habitude of buying our produce at the supermarket drive-through (and in all my pre-moving-to-France-dreams, I would never have imagined shopping in France's fast lane! Hélas...)

Because la vendange is just around the corner (phase one, or the picking of red grapes for our rosé wines, begins Saturday!), I'm making an effort with my shopping list, where farm-fresh vegetables are on the menu. Part of that effort involves getting out and rubbing elbows, or coudes, with the locals--always a challenge for a homebody, or casanière, who feels more comfortable among books and slobbering dogs--but who secretly thrives on society, where real characters are to be found (no offense, Braise and Smokey, and no offence Oliver Twist).

Pulling up to the paillote (we'll go ahead and call the stand by the more charming term, again, for art's sake!), I felt those familiar inner tormentors urging me to "rentre!", or "turn back!". "It's been so long since your last visit to the stand," the inner voices menaced. "You're not welcome here among the clients fidels.

With a little effort, I managed to brush off the mind's ramblings in time to hear the greeting coming from behind the wooden comptoir.

"Bonjour, Madame!" Looking up, I noticed two women. The one, middle-aged, looked a little familiar, the other, twice the age of the first, I had never seen before.

I eagerly returned the warm greeting, then, deciding it best not to linger, looked casually around the stand, my mind more on the women than on the crates of vegetables. Being the only client, I felt even more conspicuous than I was acting, loitering like that among the wooden crates, sending surreptitious glances, now and again, to the women behind the fig-flanked register (I selected a few pieces of fruit, there, and threw in a pot of basilic, so as to look busy).

But who can concentrate on homegrown vegetables when real French characters are in the environs? I wanted to meet these personnages, to know what they had for breakfast... and what were their dreams for tomorrow? 

But how to break the ice, or briser la glace? And then it hit me: with a word that looks a lot like "love", or "amour"... and that would be "humour": aMOUR / huMOUR!

And so I gave it my best shot, this stepping-out-of-one's-cozy-shell, using humour as the ice-breaker:

"I haven't seen you here before..." I ventured. With that, one of the women shook her head.

"I am the mother of the proprietor," the one answered.
"And I am the sister," the other offered. 

"We are taking care of the stand while my daughter is away on vacation," the mother explained. She studied me through her bifocals, concluding her examination with an inviting sourire.

I felt those familiar butterflies inside, but pushed past any apprehension. 

"Aha... yes... just as I suspected!" I said, remembering my amour/humour antidote to timidity. "Vous voyez... on m'a envoyé ici pour vous moucharder! I am a spy, you see... sent here by the vacationing proprietaire!" I informed the ladies. "I'm here to make sure that you are indeed doing your work... and I see that you are! I shall now know what to report back to the proprietor!"

Following my mock confession, the women smiled at each other, and at me, while making an animated effort to straighten up, and put on their best impression of Industrious Workers.

 "Voilà," I winked. C'est bien comme ça! Continuez! Continuez!"

With that, I collected the brown paper sacks in which the women had placed the figs and the basilique, and I was off, following quickly in the wake of my nerves, which were already back at the car, ready to go home after this latest venturing out. It seems that no matter how many times I get out, I must still encounter that stifling feeling of awkwardness, before even encountering the locals.

Reaching for the car door, I looked down and noticed a large stone. It was shaped like a great imperfect heart and, although it had no words etched onto its surface, it murmured a clear message -- the echo of which I could hear, even as I stood there: Venture out! Venture out! It whispered. Never fear! Just a bunch of us heavy hearts lying around out here, waiting to be lifted up.....

I looked back at the "hearts" over at the stand, and the women who owned them smiled back at me. Whether their spirits needed a lift, I can't be sure. Meantime, my own soul felt lighter, confirming the maxim that quand on donne on reçoit, when you give you receive.

 

French Vocabulary

la maraîchère (le maraîcher) = market gardener, one who sells produce

une oliveraie = olive grove

un aboiement = bark (dog)

une paillote = straw

la paille = straw

c'est tout en bois = it's entirely in wood

le mas = a type of house in Provence

le poulailler = henhouse

une habitude = habit

je dois venir ici plus souvent = I should come here more often

le personnage = character

briser la glace = to break the ice

la vendange = wine harvest, or grape picking

le coude = elbow

rentre! = return!

les clients fidels = faithful clients

le sourire = smile

Voilà = there you are!

C'est bien comme ça = very good like that

continuez! = continue on!

 

DSC_0087
I didn't get a picture of the vegetable stand (in today's story), but here is a photo of a homemade-jams-and-eggs stand, to tide you over! The picture was taken a few years ago, in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. And here is a story that takes place there! I hope you have a minute to read about my stroll there with my belle-tante. You'll see a saintly detail of our house... and read about my sharing an English expression ("He's in the dog house!") with my French aunt-in-law. Click here to read the "Niche" post, written before we moved to this vineyard.

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

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rendre service

Life in Colmar (c) Kristin Espinasse

Whatever you do today, venture out just a bit... un tout petit peu... from your comfort zone. If you're not up to venturing out, then cuddle up with this book (I'm in love with it!... but I fear being let down by the ending... zut! that's the last time I'll read book reviews.) Order "The Summer of Katya" here.

rendre service (rahndr sair veese)

    : to help out

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc (check back to the blog...):

Je travaille encore pour leur rendre service. I continue to work in order to help them out. 

 

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

One cannot organize an adventure any more than one can rehearse spontaneity. 
                                                                         --Trevanian

I am hopping up and down beside a pile of clothes, hurrying to get into a pair of faded jeans. I have removed my gypsy skirt and my camisole (hand-me-overs from the Dirt Divas), never mind how exotic or "novel" they make me feel; I will not be writing this morning....

....I'm heading out to a nearby field to photograph a venerable vigneron! Now to build up some courage. The flouncy skirt and sleeveless top suddenly make me feel more bare than bold. Besides, alone out there on a country road I wouldn't want to be taken for a promiscuous poule (though it wouldn't be the first time.... In all fairness, it isn't difficult to be taken for a loosey-goosey here, in the land of love, home of Pépé Le Pew. Frenchmen! Better stop here... or the lead in to this story will mislead the reader from the wholesome histoire that follows). 

Poule or no poule, floozy or no floozy, I won't be found loitering beyond our front gate without a little maquillage. Quickly, I cover my blotchy cheeks with fond de teint and put on some rimmel.

Even with the wardrobe pause (strategically designed to buy time... for I am still doubtful about my mission) it takes no more than ten minutes from the moment my husband calls to alert me to the photo opportunity--for me to seize the occasion. En verité, my first reaction was to reject Jean-Marc's suggestion ("You know I'm very uncomfortable taking photos of people!" I objected. "Alors, tant pis. It would have been a great picture!" My husband was disappointed).

(And isn't that just his way: to pressure his wife into doing what is best for her! It works everytime and, illico presto!, I find myself grabbing my keys, my pocket camera, and hurrying out to the car before I can talk myself out of the adventure.)

I am now motoring up the country road flanked by vines and roof-bare stone cabanons. When the leafy field begins to rise up into the horizon, I begin searching for the elderly farmer. I make a concentrated effort to quit drawing up in my mind the scene that I will soon wander into. Besides, I always get it wrong and things are never as I imagine them to be (in this case, a crew of farmers pointing fingers, laughing).

When I see an old remorque parked alongside a ditch, I feel a slight soulagement. He must have driven off, leaving the equipment behind for his afternoon round. I'll catch up with him another time, I lie to myself.

Just as I am about to turn around, I glimpse a tractor heading down the leafy path to my left. Squinting my eyes I can't make out if it is the man that Jean-Marc saw earlier. Does he look ancient? No, he is younger than my husband made him out to be!

I get out of my car and cross the road beside the flower-lined ditch. Inside, the wild teasel, or cardère, is turning whisper purple this time of year. Standing there admiring the elegant flowers, I become aware of my own appearance: in jeans and a sweatshirt, my hair is tied back. I am wearing my new glasses, the ones I picked out last week, not minding the salesgirl who warned I had selected frames from the menswear display. I saw myself as the unsuspecting farmer might: and I could no longer be confused with a poule, or hussy, though I might now be mistaken for male farmhand.

Too late now the farmer has seen me and I sense that I am not unwelcome. I decide to walk up the vine row. I begin with a timid coucou/wave of the hand. I'll ask his permission for a picture and then have time to run to the end of the row and take an action photo....

Halfway up the rangée I greet the vigneron who stops his tractor, leaving the motor running. I approach, so close now that I can put my hand on the machine for balance (I am standing in the newly turned ground, the uneven earth beneath my feet).

I smile. "Je vous embête? I'm bugging you?," I question, having heard it said before by the French.
He smiles warmly, shakes his head, "Non".

"Je voulais savoir... Would you mind if I take your photo?" One hesitation of mine had been the risk of mocking the farmer. After all, what sort of novel attraction had drawn out this curious tourist to his field? He must wonder just what it is about him that makes him prey to my camera. Could it be his age? I did not want him to feel old. I decided to cut to the point.

"How old are you?"

"Quatre-Vingt cinq ans," he smiled.

"Eighty five... Shouldn't you be retired?" I smiled back, resting my arm on the tractor.

"But then what would I do? I don't play boules or cartes." The farmer's eyes became half-moons, so great was his grin.

"Do you enjoy your work?"

He shrugged his shoulders. "It's all I know...."

P1040050

"What is the hardest part about farming. Is it the Mistral?"

"Without the Mistral there would be no vines. Without the wind, there would be no way to dry the grapes and keep them from becoming diseased." Monsieur, who went by André, punctuated every thought with a smile.

I learned that the hardest part about farming is driving a tractor with limited vision (André has sight in only one eye). 

"I am very fortunate to have the other eye," he added, with another of his punctuated sourires.

"Vous êtes très positif, vous savez?" I informed him, "You are so positive, you know?"

(Smiles)

P1040046

And when I feared I was taking up too much of his time, I listened as the motor went silent. André had shut it off, and in so doing, made it clear that I was no bother.

Without all the engine racket I was free to listen to the lovely accent of the Provençal who sat in his tractor politely answering my questions. "I'm so sorry," I said, more than once, "I'm not the best interviewer! Thank you for the practice!"

I learned that the venerable vigneron quit school at 14 to work in the fields. Work at that time consisted of the same job, plowing the earth -- only back then it was horses and not tractors that were steered down the leafy vine paths.

"With the horses, it took eight passages," André explained, his hands waving up and down the vinerows. With the tractor, he only makes one run to upend the weeds.

P1040048
                      All photos taken with this handy pocket camera.

As André spoke I relished his rich Provençal accent. I had to lend my oreille on more than one occasion, signaling with my hand behind my ear, inviting him to repeat a word each time I did not grasp it. I noticed André spoke with a slight bégaiement, or stutter. And I had remarked his resemblance to another villager... That's when it hit me:

"You are not, by chance, the brother of..."

Yes, indeed, he was le frère of The Plant Whisperer! I looked back to the ditch full of wild teasel. It was thanks to the plant man that I could identify the prickly cardère. 

André shared with me that his brother was suffering in his legs, but that did not keep the younger man (at 83, he was two years André's junior) from riding that rickety old bicycle to town each day. I told him that I enjoyed a recent article in the local paper written by the unofficial doctor of plants. "Yes, he still writes on the subject," he said, championing his younger brother, who might have helped with the family vineyard--but chose to follow his own passion of botany, instead.

Each moment that passed I was aware of the risk of holding up the busy grape farmer until finally, despite his inviting nature, I let him get back to his field work.  

He was such a dear, unassuming man. I found myself inching closer and closer to the light of his pure presence. If only I had wings, I might have flown up and landed on the hub of the tractor to be nearer....

Poule indeed! It's no wonder, now, how we wandering women are sometimes mistaken by as "hens"!

                                                                  *** 

  P1040052

André says he continues to work to rendre service or "help out" his daughter and son-in-law, who now run the farm).

Le Coin Commentaires/Comments Corner

Share a story of your own, or leave a message here, in the comments box.

And check out Les Grands Bois - André's family vineyard, here in our village

 

 Related Stories

"Love in a Cage" - a special friendship with The Plant Whisperer

"The Last Peasant": about asking permission to photograph another French native -- and getting much more than a picture in return.

  P1040056-1

 Close-up of André. Forever young at 85. Is it his positive attitude? or his humble gratitude? Comment on what keeps a person young at heart.

French Vocabulary

un vigneron = wine farmer

une poule = hen (synonym, in French, for prostitute)

une histoire = story

le fond de teint = base makeup

le rimmel = mascara

alors, tant pis = well then, too bad

illico presto = right away

la remorque = trailor (to tow a tractor)

le soulagement = relief

cardère sauvage = wild teasel (see it here!)

Je vous embete! = I'm bugging you, perhaps?

le sourire = smile

une oreille = ear

 DSC_0026

Those seductive French plants! Oh so coquette in their polka-dotted casseroles!

French shopping bag I Heart Paris Shopper: made of recycled material. 1-Percent of the sale of this bag will support the conservation work of the nature conservancy. Order the I Heart Paris bag here.

Easy French Reader: A fun and easy new way to quickly acquire or enhance basic reading skills

 

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

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2.Paypal or credit card
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


paysan

Le Paysan (C) Kristin Espinasse
Read about "the last peasant" -- in today's story column, then forward to a friend.

le paysan (pay ee zahn)

    : farmer, peasant

la paysanne = woman peasant
. 

 Audio File & Example SentenceDownload MP3 or Wav File

Un paysan est une personne tirant des ressources de la nature proche de son habitat. Il peut adopter ou subir une économie de subsistance. A paysan is a person who makes a living from the natural resources near his dwelling. He can adopt or suffer an economy of subsistence. -from Wikipedia

  Exercises in French Phonics Exercises in French Phonics is... 
" a great book for learning French pronunciation"
"useful and practical"
"high quality material, good value for your money" --from Amazon customer reviews. Order your copy here.

 

 A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

"The Last Peasant": Endangered People, Endangered Values

Walking through the town of Buis-les-Baronnies, I experienced what long-distance runners feel: that endorphin high that comes from steady exertion. It didn't take a marathon for the feel-good chemicals to kick in: the rush came from picking up my camera again.

Salon de The (c) Kristin Espinasse

Sabot (c) Kristin Espinasse

(see the full picture of this window, here)

Wheelbarrow (c) Kristin Espinasse

How long had it been--six months? one year?--since I set out to capture the endangered beauty of a village and the timeless character of its people?

Ah yes, its people. This last detail explains the recent bout of camera shyness from which I have suffered. I had had a few run-ins with the French -- only two, to be exact (once while photographing a pot of geraniums and once while zooming in on an old wooden shop sign. I hadn't seen the woman seated deep in a leafy courtyard, behind the potted flowers... and I hadn't seen the grand-mère in the window above the artful wooden shop sign. I didn't see them because my lens was not trained on others, but on objects. I knew better than to point my camera's objectif at a person, but I couldn't help what transpired when all my attention focused in on an object, blurring every detail around it. It wasn't until the blurry "detail" began jumping and wagging an angry finger (in the periphery of my lens!) that I noticed the angry, accidental models!

In the town of Buis, I re-experienced the drug of photography. Holding a heavy appareil photo felt so good: curling one's fingers around the body, pulling the unit up to one's eye, peering through the viewfinder... seeing life through the narrow lens helps one focus on the intricate details that are so often missed. I love the feel of my hands twisting the zoom lens... my finger pushing down on the release button. Finally, there's nothing like the sound, or déclic, of a capture! The comforting click that records Here and Now, while Father Time spins his heels beyond the lens.

Zigzagging along the streets of the mountain community, I lowered my lens each time I was eyed by a curious citoyen or shopkeeper. There was that feeling that at any moment I'd be caught. But it isn't illegal to take pictures! I reminded myself, pressing forward in my photo journey. I remained discreet, snapping pictures quickly.

Rounding a bend I ran into a living monument. That Frenchman who encompasses the past--its traditions, its romanticism... while living and breathing in the present! 

I knew I had to have a picture of this man (with his neck-scarf and beret... his débardeur and cane!), but the angry women's voices (from behind the geranium pot and, again, from above the wooden sign) came back to haunt me, "Pas de photo! PAS DE PHOTO!"

I stalled at the corner, eyeing le monsieur. He was as charming as any potted geranium, with as much character as any chipped and peeling shop sign. I would have traded any photo in my camera's archive -- all of them!... pour lui....

I thought about stealing away with his photo! I could do the ol' "snap-n-run" technique... or the "pretend to be photographing the horizon" scheme (only to zoom in on the subject). But I did not have the energy for deceit, and so I quit plotting. 

I began to turn on my heels, when something inside said: Just ask his permission, Dummy! And, fast as that, I beelined it over to the bench!

"Pardonnez-moi, Monsieur.... Would you mind if I took your photo?" And then, not wanting him to feel like the object of some elder scam, I introduced myself. "I live nearby... I am just on my way home from the horse camp, where I left my daughter for the week".

The man recognized the name of the centre équestre and, voilà, we had a contact in common. I told Monsieur that I loved to take photos of France, especially because it is changing so quickly. "Sometimes," I explained, "I return to a village, only to find fresh paint over a perfectly charming publicité -- the old painted advertisement gone forever."

Monsieur shook his head. "Everything's changing." With these words, he introduced himself: "Je suis le dernier paysan".

"I am the last peasant." His words struck me as I sat listening to his story. In the old days, he walked eight kilometers to the field and back. Work, as a child, consisted of harvesting gladiolas, "un travail d'esclave"...  As a teenager, he would work in the olive orchards, in the verger (picking abricots), and he would harvest grapes ("pour la maison").

His brothers and his sisters worked just as hard, lest his mother remind them of their standing. "Elle ne nous a pas gardés pour notre haleine!" he explained.

"She didn't keep you for your breath"? I had never heard such an expression but it didn't take a dictionary of idioms to understand the harsh reality behind it: the mother had mouths to feed! All members of the household were required to be industrious. She wasn't keeping the kids "for their breath", or for her amusement. She had work to do!

I thanked Monsieur for his story and for his photo. It was time to move on (besides, I noticed a shopkeeper, up the way, who seemed to have a protective eye on the venerable villager). I didn't want to cause anyone concern. And so our conversation came to a close.

But Monsieur seemed so alone... I wished I would have asked him what became of his siblings, the ones that worked as hard as he did as a child. I only learned that, after he retired, rest would not be his reward. He left the fields to begin caring for his mother. "It is the hardest job of all to take care of another," Monsieur admitted. His words had me thinking about the old Eastern values concerning caring for our parents. A friend once reminded me:

We care for our parents until they cannot walk anymore, at which point we carry them over our shoulder. We don't question it. More than our duty it is our honor to care for the elderly.


But the mental and physical testing of our strength often blurs our vision and our very values. Monsieur and I sat side by side in the silence, lost in thought. Only a deep, long sigh reminded me of Monsieur's presence.

I thought about the sad irony. Monsieur's mother did not have the luxury of keeping her son "for his breath". But he did keep her... until her very last.

*** 

  DSC_0116

Post note: I was surprised that Monsieur called himself a "paysan" as I have heard that the term can be pejorative. Not only did Monsieur refer to himself as a paysan, but he said, more than once, will all sincerity, that he was no more than "un petit paysan".

Le Coin Commentaires

Comment on this edition or answer the following question: What are some endangered things that you'll regret one day no longer seeing (in architecture... in local characters... wildlife? Endangered traditions or valtues?) Click here to leave a comment.


Related stories:

"Tricoter" (To Knit): Meet the woman who was keeping a protective eye on "the last peasant". Click here to read or review the story and to see the photos.

Capture plein écran 22072011 104134
An an all-time favorite book--one I highly recommend! I hope you'll order a copy of The Life of a Simple Man and enjoy it this summer! Click here to read the reviews

 

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French Vocabulary

la grand-mère = grandmother

un objectif = camera lens

un appareil photo = camera

le déclic = click

le citoyen (la citoyenne) = citizen

le débardeur = sleeveless T-shirt, tank top (sometimes called "un Marcel")

pour lui = for him

le centre équestre = riding school

le verger = orchard

un travail = work

esclave (m/f) = slave

l'abricot (m) = apricot


Trenet One way I learned French was by listening to the classics (check out songs by Charles Trenet). Or you might prefer something more modern, like  Tour de Charme by Patricia Kaas

 

DSC_0165
 I Heart French mailboxes... and French Script! Photo taken in Buis-les-Baronnies. Never miss a picture, sign up yourself--or a friend--for the free emailed version of French Word-A-Day.

 

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


bien fringué

P1010790-1
"Love in a Mist." One of the "locals", dressed to the nines for springtime. Thank you, Dirt Divas, for all the lovely flowers that are popping up in the garden!

bien fringué(e) (bee ehn frehn gay)

    : well-dressed

From "la fringue" (garment). Today's expression is used in informal speech! (Read: my daughter and her girlfriends use the phrase often!) Also: "Elle a de belles fringues!" = She has great clothes!

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

Fashion and The Four Agreements

At a house-warming party, or crémaillère, I spoke to the best-dressed guest. I would soon learn that such an opinion was "my truth" and not necessarily her own, that what matters about our appearance is not what others assume or conclude, but that we do what our creative hearts and instincts inspire us to do!

Seated on jewel-toned cushions in our South African hostess's courtyard, I listened to the woman wearing the dos-nu dress as we sat huddled together, fast friends. Not knowing a single soul, I had gravitated to her enigmatic presence.  Not knowing a single thing to say, I said the truth:

"J'aime votre robe!"

With that, an animated conversation began. I pointed to the whimsical ruffles along her sheer hemline... "C'est très joli!"

I looked down at my own get-up, which whispered "Play it safe! Wear black and beige!" In a rare moment of recklessness, I'd thrown on a sheer, calico scarf, tied it tightly around my neck, letting one of the long ends flow down my back. The decision felt dramatic and a little bit thrilling! setting into motion a series of unusual events: I dug out a pair of high heels... dusted off a bottle of perfume, and found a can of hairspray... As I dressed, I shut off the volume of the inner-critic, who heckled back rules about scarves and age, time and place. "Yes, there is a place! I shouted back, and if I don't dress up now, then when will I?" With that, I drew a red line around my lips, filling it in with several strokes of vibrant determination.

"Il faut oser...." You've got to dare...the woman in ruffles explained and, as she spoke, I took in her every detail. From the thick white bandeau tied over her closely-cropped, auburn hair... to her heeled ankle-strapped shoes. She told me that she chose the shoes from a tas de chaussures that her girlfriends had piled high, as they do each season, when they troc their clothes. (And what a great idea to clothes-swap!)

"I don't wear a lot of dresses... or heels," I admitted, pointing out the grapevines that surrounded us. Out here in wine country, it's not practical. 

Il faut du provoc! came the response to every one of my wardrobe-wavering excuses.

Provocative! Oh no, not I! I don't want to mislead others... and risk being mistaken for une pouffe!

The woman in frills shook her head. "Mais ça, c'est LEUR HISTOIRE et non pas la tienne! But that is their experience and not your own! It's their assumption based on their experience and it isn't your reality." Ultimately it is their baggage, not our own. And we are free to unpack our own suitcase and dress up or down as we so fancy! 

The woman huddled beside me threw her arms out as she spoke and her passion and her joy echoed in the delicate threads that enveloped her. "But all this fashion flair must come naturally to you?!" I said, sharing my doubts.

"Mais, non! I look back at photos of myself in my twenties and wonder, "Why didn't I dress up? Why was I so hard on myself. At 50, I'll try anything! So what if I make a wardrobe mistake one day? It doesn't matter... Il faut oser! You've got to dare!"

When I confided that I had a wedding to go to this fall, and that I would be wearing a little black dress, the woman in ruffles ran her coal-lined eye over me and suggested:

"Wear red instead!" 

Red? Wow? RED! Her enthusiastic response was the best reminder to shake up those "rules" of fashion (especially the oft-cited "little black dress"). I may not end up wearing red; but I will try to remember to oser, and, especially, to forget about fashion's dos and don'ts! Ultimately, how we appear to others is out of our control - it has so much to do with their own experience. It is based on their story and not ours. So why not write our own book? I'm calling mine "La Femme en Rouge"!

 ***

Postnote: Please excuse the "her" and "woman" and "she" references. But I was not sure at which point in the story to name our stylish character, who goes by "Anita". Anita tells me that she is a coursière for L'Orchestre National de Montpellier. The nature of her job (as messenger) means that eccentricities in dress are impractical (a good pair of boots are "par for la coursière"...) so Anita makes up for it by dressing up at every chance. I would have needed several chapters to share Anita's generous and affectionate spirit with you. I hope you've caught a glimpse of it here...

Le Coin Commentaires
Corrections, comments, and stories of your own are welcome here in the comments box


P.S. Based on the ideas that Anita shared, I wondered whether she had read the book The Four Agreements. Turns out she has, in French!  (I have not read it, but have heard it praised by friends.)

Speaking of fashion, a few books to consider. Read the reviews and choose for yourself!
Parisian Chic: A Style Guide by Inès de la Fressange and The Gospel According to Coco Chanel and 

French Vocabulary

la crémaillère = housewarming

le dos-nu = low-backed dress

j'aime votre robe = I like your dress

c'est très joli = it's very pretty

il faut oser = you've got to dare

le tas de chaussures = pile of shoes

le troc = trade

une pouffe = a tart

La Femme en Rouge = The Lady in Red

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Dear Mom, can't wait to see you on Wednesday when you land in Marseilles! Can't wait to show you the artichoke I grew from seed! (Pictures taken with this handy pocket camera.)

***

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A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


faire passer le temps

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                            Scottish broom in the French countryside...

Thank you for your thoughtful notes and emails, but we do not have any test results from Jean-Marc's kidney biopsy to share with you. And today, le lundi de Pâques, means we'll have to wait another day or two!

faire passer le temps (fer passay leuh tahmp)

    : to while away the time

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the following French words: Download MP3 or Wave file

L'autre jour j'ai fait les magasins pour faire passer le temps. The other day I went shopping to pass the time.

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

"A Hell-On-Wheels Heart"

Friday afternoon, with a morale at sub zero, I was haunting the aisles of a home-decor store. This was not retail therapy. J'étais en train de tuer le temps. There were two hours to kill while my 13-year-old and her giggly cohort cruised the mall (and I wasn't up to making an aller-retour to the farm and back!).

C'était un drôle de deux heures. It was a very strange two hours spent in full martyr mode. "What a dumb decision that was!" I chastised myself about the anecdote I had just posted. "You should have written about "Adult Chicken Adoption", as you had set out to do! 'Ex-battery Hens' would have been a much better topic, DUMMY! The plight of commercial egg-layers was surely a less risqué sujet than "ego annihilation via death to self"! (Of all subjects! Of all subjects!!!)

(Later, I would have the consolation of laughter, over a telephone conversation in which I admitted to my mom that perhaps a journal titled "French Word-A-Day" was an unlikely place to talk about mortification of self!)

Mortified, I was. And, in this state, I continued worrisomely to while the time away, or faire passer le temps, falling to greater and greater depths of despairing humiliation.

Though my eyes were fixed to the blur of my mind's colorful imagination (in which scores of Word-a-Day subscribers were signing off, en masse, dismissing its author as some sort of mystic moon-bather), I somehow managed to catch a glimpse of the shopper ahead me. Her head suddenly jerked to the side... as if an invisible tug rope were tied to it. Every few moments her head jerked again...

As the woman's children bombarded her with questions, the cigar-voiced mother-with-a-tic would snap back, literally. Her violent head-jerkings were tamed only by her take-no-shit send-offs, or ripostes, which followed her visible suffering. The whole hard-edged package was wrapped up in a cropped-haired, tight-jeaned, 30-something. As tough-exteriored as the woman appeared, you could not miss the affection and protectiveness emanating from her center as her children and her mother flocked around her in time for more chattering and more head-jerking riposting. 

If I ever had a heroine, the slumbering novelist inside of me mused, she'd be a little like her. I would have liked to have studied the woman a little closer, but feared that her involuntary tic might seem to her the object of my curiosity. She could not know that it was her hell-on-wheels heart that so enamored me. 

Thanks to this unknown woman, I left the store with my very own hell-on-wheels heart. A heart with character in time to weather the fickle air, cloudy one day, sunny the next. It was just the antidote my uneasy interior had been searching for, there, of all places, in the home-improvements store. 

***

A hell-on-wheels heart is not cold or closed, it's fiery and has wheels! ...though it doesn't always know where it is going...

Le Coin Commentaires
To respond to today's word or story, click here.

 

The Bug Hug (c) Kristin Espinasse

Feeling unloveable? Go out and hug a flower! Nature will never snub or snob you :-)

French Vocabulary

le lundi de Pâques = Easter Monday

tuer le temps = to kill time

aller-retour = round trip

le sujet = subject

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        Sunny façade in Cassis. All photos & text © Kristin Espinasse

In books, film, and cuisine:

French Demystified...simple enough for a beginner but challenging enough for a more advanced student.

Sara midda's South of France: a sketchbook Sara Midda's South of France is a place of ripening lemons and worn espadrilles, ochre walls and olive groves, and everything born of the sun. It lies between the Mediterranean and the Maritime Alps, and most of all in the artist's eye and passion. Read the glowing reviews, click here.

In film:  Paris Je T'aime Paris I love You.

Eiffel Tower Cookie Cutter -  handcrafted by artisans to last for generations. Order here.

 

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


colombe

DSC_0051
Along the steep zigzagging path to the sea in Sicily, we stopped to peer in to this tiny chapel. The doors were locked but we stole glances all the same.
. 
colombe (ko lohmb) noun, feminine

    : dove

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

 (Continued from the previous story: "Switch-back")

On New Year's Day I was walking along a steep and slippery path to the sea, one very much like life itself: get past the obstacles--both real and perceived--and cross the finish line in victory! You might wonder just what reward awaits on the other side of the broken ribbon... but, consider: Life is not a race and the prize may just lie in the act of taking it all in stride, at a peaceful pace.  

Currently I strode, in panic mode, behind my husband of 16 years. I wanted serenity and I knew, by instinct, that Peace is what happens when you give in and quit fighting life's current. For the first ten years in France, I'd swum against the stream, it is only recently... since following my husband's dream... that I've begun to float. 

"Ça va Mon Amour?" Everything okay, Love? There were two ways to answer the question; similarly, there are two ways to face the new year: by caving in (to fear) or by venturing out (by faith).

I ventured a "Tout va bien!" and, voilà, we swiftly rounded an uncertain switchback, and landed on the seashore. 

As soon as my husband's feet hit sea level, he was off! Scrambling over the giant rocks beneath the seawall to kiss the salty waters beyond (in the end, he opted for a splash-on-the-face "bath" and not full immersion!).

I was still standing in the road when a foot-dragging dog limped past me. The dog seemed to live in the modest house at the back of the parking lot, which faced the sea. My eyes followed the crippled creature to an empty, industrial lot, farther on where thousands of birds were gathering.

Amid the commotion, a figure began to appear from within the frenzy of feathers. It was a man! The man, of a certain age, was holding a 20 liter bucket in each hand, the source of so much excitement on the part of the birds.

I followed in the dog's tracks... drawn to the stranger's simple act of charity. Why would a man lug such a heavy burden, then stand still as an altar... only to risk being capsized by a hungry flock of seed thieves?

The answer was written on the stranger's face: for the joy in giving!

I leave you with photos of "Antonio" and his dog "Lupo". And who said there is no prize at the finish line? I do believe this man and his dog and "their" birds of peace were the reward for following the path of life, for trying--one step forward, two back... to take fears and doubts in stride.

 

 Le Coin Commentaires / Comments Corner
Corrections and comments are most welcome. Click here to leave a message.

 

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce these French words: 
Click to Download the MP3 file

L'homme était en train de nourrir les colombes.
The man was feeding the doves. 

Please help me to resolve a technical issue by trying out the audio feature, above, and then giving feedback on the following question (those reading via email may need to click over to the blog to see the question and to vote)? To comment on this question, thanks for using the comments box (click here).

 

 

 

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Look closely and you will see the man in the photo, above...

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I thought they were pigeons... but Antonio pointed out the colombes....

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Yes -- doves!

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Sweet Lupo...

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What a lovely man and dog -- and a flock of fans to prove it!

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Do you have a minute to read the story "Tourterelle" or "turtledove": it's short--under 200 words... and you'll learn the French word for "lovebird"! Click here.

 Exercises in French PhonicsExercises in French Phonics is " a great book for learning French pronunciation", "useful and practical", "high quality material, good value for your money" --Amazon customer reviews. Order a copy here.

 

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
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2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


s'occuper

Josephine baker colins
Read about "Josey" (from our former stomping grounds of St. Maximin) in today's story... and don't miss a photo of Smokey's Ma and Pa at the end of this edition.

s'occuper

(so-kew-pay)

verb


to keep oneself busy

 

Italian Josephine made homemade pizza the size of a hamburger patty, only there wasn't any viande, just a bony anchovy and a meaty olive or two. When she had the energy, she delivered her Italian pies and stayed to watch you enjoy them. And she never charged.

"Ça m'occupe." It keeps me busy, she would say, simply. As I ate, she would sit facing me with her cane, her knitted shawl, and her buckled shoes, and reminisce about an American friend, whose name she shared, and the adventures they had back in the '50s along the Côte d'Azur, when one ran an Italian épicerie and the other ran away from Paris. I listened, but mostly I studied Josey, whose dark eyes, once dull, now sparkled.

The last time Josephine showed up at my door with one of her trademark mini pizzas, she was carrying a black-and-white photograph.
 
"I have something to show you," she said. We sat at the table, I in my one-size-fits-all dress (weeks away from giving birth to my second child) and Josey with her shawl and cane and buckled shoes, the black-and-white photo between us. The scratched and faded image revealed the two glowing Josephines: one "café," the other "au lait." The women were dressed in satin kimonos and holding umbrellas, smiles as big as the complicity they shared. I studied the old photo from afar when suddenly my Josey mentioned that her friend loved to sing and dance....

Sing. Dance. Josephine! That's when I grabbed the photo from the table and viewed, up close, the veritable, the one and only Josephine Baker—the celebrated American danseuse (and sometime secret agent) known to appear at the Paris Folies in nothing more than a jupe made of bananas, her pet leopard, Chiquita, in tow.

My excitement was cut short when Josey told me that she was moving to Saint-Raphaël, that her daughter could no longer look after her here in Saint-Maximin. I quietly set down the photo and looked at my friend as a lump formed in my throat. C'est toujours comme ça, I thought bitterly. Just when you meet someone—the kind of person you can just sit with and say nothing to and not feel awkward, the kind who makes a little pizza pie for you because they are thinking of you in your absence—they up and move to a faraway city!

Before Josephine left, she pushed the photo across the table. "C'est pour toi," she said in her soft voice. I tried to tell her that I could not accept her photo, that she should keep it, but she insisted. I couldn't take Josey's only photo of her with her legendary friend...unless...unless it wasn't the only one? Perhaps there were others? Yes! There must be others of those "girls" in the good ol' days—other snapshots—with leopards and banana skirts and maybe a feather boa or two!

I watched as my Josey padded out the door, little steps with her big-buckle shoes. So fragile, she seemed, that you might have taken her for a broken-winged bird, but for the leopard-printed tracks in her wake.

***

 

YOUR EDITS HERE
 Thank you for pointing out any typos or important ambiguities (!)  here


French Vocabulary

la viande = meat

l'épicerie (f) = grocer's

le café = coffee

au lait = with milk

la danseuse (le danseur) = dancer

Folies = Les Folies Bergères (famous music hall in Paris)

la jupe = skirt

c'est toujours comme ça = it is always that way

 

 

Hear Jean-Marc pronounce the verb s'occuper: Download soccuper.wav

Expression: Occupe-toi de tes affaires! = Mind your own business!

Conjugation: je m'occupe, tu t'occupes, il/elle s'occupe; nous nous occupons, vous vous occupez, ils/elles s'occupent

 Easy French Reader: A fun and easy new way to quickly acquire or enhance basic reading skills

In film:  Paris Je T'aime Paris I love You.

Kindle 189
Kindle Wireless Reader, 3G + WiFi. Order one here.

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Smokey's parents: Mr. Sam (left) and Mrs. Braise (brez). 

golden retriever dogs straw hat paver tiles france 
You did read the story of their elopement in Marseilles? They were about to board the train for Venise when we finally caught up with them! Read the story here.

 Recipe! Though I never did think to ask Josey for her pizza recipe, here is something similar...  a cinch of a recipe from my daughter's French godmother, Rachel. View it here.

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


abracadabrant

DSC_0088
Meet an extraordinary 8-year-old and a giant named Hefty in today's story. All photos by Braden (except for the one above...).

abracadabrant(e) (ah bra kah dah brahn [brahnt]) adj.

    : amazing, extraordinary

syn: invraisemblable (bizarre), extravagant

abracadabra : interjection , also, masculine noun for magical formula  

Audio file: Listen to "abracadabrant" at French Wikipedia...


A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

Hero-in-Progress

When Jean-Marc needed to spend the day prospecting with an American wine importer, I offered to host the man's 8-year-old son, or traveling companion.

Doubtful about my decision, I ran to the phone and rang Jules, in Mexico.
"Oh, Mom. How will I do with him?!"

Jules told me not to worry. Instead she shared the story about "Hefty", the giant carnival hand:

"When I was a little girl," Mom began, "I had a horrible wart on my thumb... I was always trying to hide it. One day I was sitting on a tree stump, outside the carnival grounds, staring at my thumb. That's when Hefty appeared. The giant, noticing my sadness, assured me I would never shed another tear. I watched Hefty disappear into the carnival tent and, fast as that, return with a secret ointment. Abracadabra! The wart disappeared!"

As Mom told the story, I could sense her wonderment. The kindness of a stranger... it was such a small detail in the grand scheme of a child's being, and yet the carnival hand's caring gesture never left her.

I considered Mom's words. I might not be as giant, or giant-hearted as Hefty, but there is that unmistakable oddness, or rather, that awkwardness that amounted, did it not, to no more than self-doubt? 

I began to hope for a genuine gesture, like Hefty's, to somehow surface from deep within me. Maybe in this way my eight-year-old guest and I would enjoy the same simplicity?

"Don't worry," Mom assured. "And what an exciting thing... just think about your visitor and wonder just whom, after all, you are hosting."  Thinking about it that way... perhaps Einstein was coming for the day? Or Victor Hugo, or Gandhi, or some other hero... or hero-in-progress!

When Braden arrived I was as nervous as a bride. "Would you like orange juice? Milk? A pain au chocolat?" Our hero was not so hungry and, after a bite or two, I was wondering what to do? what to do? 

I spotted my camera on the comptoir.... 
"Would you like to take some photos, Braden?" 

DSC_0081
     Braden enjoyed "styling" the subject before taking the pictures.

And—voilàwe were off! The rest of the day I spent in the privileged presence of an artist and visionnaire. As I followed the intrepid ingénu...  I began to notice ordinary things anew! And oh the possibilities... of pairing grapes with flowers and pumpkins and trees!

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By the end of Braden's stay my narrow world was as wide as the Milky Way. And it's all thanks to Hefty whose heart went out. And to the child he helped, who then pointed the way to me:

"The potential of a child... is as endless as a giant's smile."

 

:: Le Coin Commentaires ::
Corrections, comments, and stories of your own are welcome here, in the comments box.

Sign up a friend or family member to French Word-A-Day
. 

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            The artist's self portrait. "Looking in" by Braden.


French Vocabulary

le comptoir* = counter

voilà = just like that! 

*Newforest, whom many of you know via "Le Coin Commentaires" offers these notes:
Originally, "un comptoir" (from the verb "compter") was a table used by a shopkeeper, on which he showed the goods you wanted to buy - he also used that table to count his money which he kept in a drawer. 

Nowadays, "un comptoir" can be found in shops and bars, in banks, post offices, libraries & commercial places.

For a kitchen: "un plan de travail", "une surface de travail" (I heard French people saying "la table de travail" but I believe "un plan de travail is the most common expression) 

*** 

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Thank you, Braden, for a wonderful day! And thanks for taking the photos here.

 Gift Ideas...

Paris Hook PillowHand-hooked, heavyweight 100% wool face. Soft cotton velvet back. Order one here.

 

 

 

Eiffel lamp Eiffel Tower lamp: see the reviews, here.

 

 

 

Pie dish Emile Henry 9-inch Provencal pie dish in cerise red. Order one here.

 

 

 

Shalimar Shalimar Eau de Parfum by Guerlain. Introduced in 1925. Fragrance notes: an alluring, classic fragrance of exotic florals and vanilla. Order here.

 

 

 



A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


jojo

Municiple flowers, blue shutters, Valréas, Vaucluse, hanging flower pot, France (c) Kristin Espinasse www.french-word-a-day.com
Municipal flower pot in Valréas.

jojo (zho zho) adjective

    : short for "joli(e)", pretty
. 

 Audio file (not available today... désolée!)

 

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

I followed Madame's directions and ended up at the medieval church, looking up at those "magnifiques fronts", the faces of which were almost as long as my own. Staring up at the church's eaves, where sculpted eyes stared back at me, I searched for God knows what: familiarity? unity?

My eyes scoured the stone faces but, try as I might, I could not "connect" or feel the warmth that had left me back at the little placette, where I had said mes au revoirs. Madame with the soft white curls and sentimental scarf  had surely returned to the room behind the window of white hearts. Why had she sent me here? Why were these sour faces so sweet to her?

I hurried back to the farmers' market to pick up a few bricoles before leaving the town of Valréas. Walking along I was awed by the municipal flower pots which lined the polished streets, punctuating every corner. The bright red blooms tumbled over, flowing almost to the cobbled ground. A little girl, no more that three, tousled her mother's hair as the latter knelt down to tie the toddler's shoes. The girl's fingers were light as feathers, little birds in her mother's silky hair. "Ça suffit, chérie," the mother said, standing up in time to fix her disheveled locks. I smiled at mère et fille as the two turned down the street, the sound of church bells behind them. It was eleven a.m.

"Quel joli sourire!" exclaimed the butcher, as I strode past his stand. I stopped, feeling both embarrassed and obliged... I wondered whether we needed some bacon, after all? I took my place in line.

"Yes! A very pretty smile!" repeated the butcher. There was no way I would leave now, and so I stood, awkwardly so. Relief came when the butcher turned his attention to the frail lady in the front of me. "And you, too! What a lovely smile you have!"

"Oh, no. I do not have good teeth," the woman said, apologetically. "Non, je ne suis plus jojo!" She turned, focusing her pale blue eyes on me. "But it is good to smile! Life is hard enough..." she said, gently. With that, everybody in line nodded and clucked their tongues in commiseration. I wondered about the various hardships beneath all those clucking tongues. Was it lost love? Bad health? A job loss?

Next, a man in a wheelchair arrived and took his place in line behind me. Collective hardships were forgotten as tongues abruptly quit clucking. All eyes focused on the butcher, who broke the silence.

"Debout!" "Stand up!" he roared, pointing his knife at the man in the chaise roulante.  

For one surreal moment I stood frozen. If I'd had a pair of earmuffs I would have thrown them over the man's oreilles, sparing him the butcher's words, which seemed to amount to one big and very bad joke.

I turned to greet the man in the wheelchair. His face was handsome or, to borrow a new word I'd just learned from Madame, "jojo". Yes, he was a joli homme or, rather, un bel homme with caramel brown hair and eyes the color of marrons

"Je vous dis, DEBOUT!" the butcher thundered, becoming even more animated.

The moments that followed were awkward, made almost unbearable by the bel homme's silence. Suddenly, his face lit up. "Cher ami," he said to his friend, "I haven't walked in 25 years... and it isn't your half-witted hollering that's going to make a difference now!"

The two men exchanged friendly bonjours and soon it was back to business. "What can I get you today, mon grand?" he said to his friend in the wheelchair. With that, the butcher winked at me as I stood marveling at the locals and their camaraderie.


Le Coin Commentaires

Corrections and feedback welcome! Click here to leave a message.

 

 

French Vocabulary

magnifique = magnificent

le front = face (of statue, building)

la placette = small "place" or (village) square 

mes au revoirs = my goodbyes

une bricole = a thing

ça suffit, chérie = that's enough, dear one

mère et fille = mother and daughter

quel joli sourire = what a pretty smile

non, je ne suis plus jojo = no, I am no longer pretty

debout! = stand up!

une chaise roulante = wheelchair

une oreille = ear

le marron = chestnut

je vous dis debout! = I tell you, stand!

cher ami = dear friend

mon grand = big boy, dear

golden retrievers, girl, chrysanthemum, bamboo, roseaux, canne de provence (c) Kristin Espinasse www.french-word-a-day.com

Our Jackie, with Braise (left) and Braise's son Smokey

pumpkin, climbing vine, Virginia Creeper, vigne vièrge, chrysanthemum, golden retriever, dog, wooden chair, deck (c) Kristin Espinasse www.french-word-a-day.com
Smokey "R" Dokey

pumpkin, chrysanthemum, golden retriever, dog, old grape vine, deck, France, Vaucluse, vineyard (c) Kristin Espinasse www.french-word-a-day.com
                           Thank you, Kathy and Ron, for the mum and for the pumpkin!

Un, Deux, Trois: First French Rhymes:
...a collection of 25 traditional nursery rhymes for children. 

French Exambusters Study Cards:
Over 1500 questions and answers written by certified teachers and professional translators with a focus on exam preparation. Highlights the essential French grammar and vocabulary you need to know to test well. Prepare for quizzes, tests, AP, PRAXIS II, SAT II, CLEP, and N.Y. Regents Level I-III. Helpful for travelers! Click here to buy.

I Know How To CookThe bible of French home cooking, Je Sais Cuisiner, has sold over 6 million copies since it was first published in 1932. It is a household must-have, and a well-thumbed copy can be found in kitchens throughout France. Its author, Ginette Mathiot, published more than 30 recipe books in her lifetime, and this is her magnum opus. It's now available for the first time in English as I Know How to Cook. With more than 1,400 easy-to-follow recipes for every occasion, it is an authoritative compendium of every classic French dish, from croque monsieur to cassoulet. 

 

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

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2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


The French word for plastered drunk...

  rue du couvent france window shutters
Jean-Marc is concerned that I am writing too much about dogs, so we'll switch to drunkenness for a spell. (Photo of sign taken in Pont-Saint-Esprit. Notice the play on words: l'ivresse = drunkenness (in this case, Livresse, we have livre lushes or book boozers!)


beurré (beur-ay) adjective

    : "buttered" (plastered, sozzled, drunk)

French definition:
"qui est dans un état d’ébriété avancé" that which is in a state of advanced inebriation (by Wiktionnaire)

Share some synonyms for drunkenness here in the comments box.

Yabla French Video Immersion.
The fun way to learn French



A Day in a  F r e n c h  Life... by Kristin Espinasse

(T'was a midsummer night, at a sidewalk café... when the moon and its shine caused susceptibles to sway....)


At the outdoor eatery all eyes were tied to the motley mother and mademoiselle meandering down the street... one walking straight, the other walking teet.

The teetering one stopped hither and thither, to the amusement of the crowd having dinner. There we were, in our Sunday best, watching the frowzy drowsy fille advance to the west.

...Then on to the north, south, east... at which point she ceased....

On her bobbing head she wore a pile of thread, in her arms she held emptiness, heavy as lead. I'd seen the mother and daughter hawking handmade hats at their stall, one in a long line of booths that began at the tabac and ended, here, in front of the town hall.

It looked as though one had spent the day peddling pretty hats, while the other poured down pints. Imagine that!

Having packed up their wares, they were now zigzagging out of the artisan fair... the daughter, followed by the mother-sans-druthers (it wasn't her pick to be her girl's side-kick).

Making little progress the two puttered, one brazen, the other "buttered"—both with handmade bonnets on their heads held high (the mother's)... and not so dry (the daughter's).

The cafe crowd howled, the girl's mother growled, and certain susceptibles felt sympathy for the demoiselle whose hapless heart lived itself out loud.

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French Vocabulary

l'ivresse (f) = drunkenness, intoxication, inebriation
une fille
= girl
le tabac = bar, café, or shop with a cigarette counter
la demoiselle = young lady



 DSC_0069

Have time for another story? Check out "Portrait of My Mother-in-Law" at Bonjour Paris.

***

 

Pizza herbes

Herbes de Provence (Special for Pizza) in Crock:
Herbes picked in Provence with a blend of oregano, thyme, basil & marjoram


Kindle Wireless Reading Device (my dad and belle-mère are addicted to theirs!).

 France Magazine subscription

Easy French Reader
: A fun and easy new way to quickly acquire or enhance basic reading skills

In film:  Paris Je T'aime Paris I love You.

 

 

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety