en panne

Flax flowers

Never stop receiving these words and photos (this one, with flax flowers, taken in the back yard)

Today's word reminds me we need a Plan B! Recently I've learned that French Word-A-Day is not delivering to all subscribers. Rather than panic (changing mail carriers), I'll continue sending out these posts via Feedburner. But before we lose each other, please take a moment to connect with me here, via Twitter where I may update you au cas où, or in the event....  

panne (pan)

    : breakdown, failure

tomber en panne = break down (car)
une panne d'éléctricité = power failure
une panne sèche = out of gas
avoir une panne d'oreiller = ("a pillow breakdown") to oversleep


Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc read the following sentence (and today's word and the phrase tomber en panneDownload MP3 or Wav file

Que faire en cas de panne ? 6 consignes pour préserver votre vie et celle de vos passagers si vous devez vous arrêtez sur la bande d'arrêt d'urgence. What to do in case your car breaks down? 6 instructions to save your life and those of your passengers if you have to stop on the emergency lane. --Autoroutes.fr

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

Wearing her Panama hat and her Mexican poncho, Jules inhaled the fresh pine air and wiggled her toes, seemingly oblivious to the exhaust fumes trailing up from the road below. Not two days after she arrived in France, Mom was barefoot on the shoulder of the highway! She may have been shoeless and stranded after my car broke down, but she was smiling bright.

I sat down beside Mom, beneath a shady umbrella pine, and we waited as cars whizzed by. "Here, hold this." I handed over my purse as a makeshift écritoire. Fishing out some old receipts, I scribbled "EN PANNE" across the flimsy paper. Next I colored in the ballpoint letters and tucked the notes on my car's front and back windows, sous les essuie-glaces.

"Lucky for us Max was home and is now coming to the rescue," I chirped, mirroring Mom's  attitude. She was in such a good mood--even after loosing a shoe (her sandal broke back at the pépinière, as we tromped up and down rows of apricot and cherry trees, eventually coming to our senses and choosing a specimen that would fit in my small Citroën).

Mom and the Papyrus 

Shooting the breeze as we waited, I thanked Mom for the tall, leafy papyrus, which was recovered from the passenger seat and now stranded beside us, here on the bande d'arrêt d'urgence. "I've got another pair of sandals for you!" I added, remembering my collection--all gifts from mon beau-père John, who sends them along with Mom each time she comes to visit from her home in Mexico.

When my son arrived, I argued when he got into my car and tried to start it. "I wouldn't do that if I were you! There is a really strange odor... What if the car explodes?!

Max brushed me off and got into my car and--amazingly--drove off! I watched as the car lurched forward and back, all the way up the road. 

"What is he doing?!" 

"He is taking care of things," Mom announced. "He's 19 years old. His friends' cars must break down all the time, Honey. He knows what he is doing."

Five minutes later Max was running back to us, sans voiture. "I found a parking space opposite the mechanic's."

"He's just saved you a hundred dollar tow fee," Max's grandmother pointed out. "Smart kid!"

Normally, when my son's street smarts kick in, I remind him he gets his brains from me (nevermind I was last in my class to graduate). But this time it was normal to give credit to the bright-eyed grand-mère who stood clasping her hands in admiration.

Looking at my son (who finishes high school this week) I had to admit, "You get those brains from Grandma Jules!"

***
Max won't be graduating last in his class, because he's madly studying for the baccalauréat. Wish him luck! He'll need to pass this high school exam to make it into a university.

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 Son Max, his grand-mère Jules, and the papyrus she gave us. The sign above the tip of Mom's hat is serendipidous. It reads Merci. Thanks Max!

1-IMG_20140601_122125
My beautiful maman. Plates full of salad and jam jars filled will water, we're enjoying every moment together, Mom and I! Those are Jean-Marc's muddy docksiders in the background--beside another bouquet of his vineyard wildflowers.

FRENCH VOCABULARY

tomber en carafe = slang for to break down on the side of the road
une écritoire = writing tablet
en panne = broken down
un essuie-glace = windshield wiper
la pépinière = plant nursery
bande d'arrêt d'urgence = emergency lane
le beau-père = stepfather, father-in-law

 
Jean-marc and vines

In other happenings, Jean-Marc scored when a wine nursery gave him a couple dozen orphans! These Tibouren vines are an ancient variety primary grown in Provence. See the babies, above, with their waxy red "hats". The shoots will soon break through the wax and leaves will appear. Presto, a grape is born!

Thank you for considering a contribution today!
Ongoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and improving this free language journal, for the past 18 years. If you enjoy this website and would like to keep it going, please know your donation towards this effort makes all the difference! No matter the weather, on good days or bad, I am committed to sharing a sunny, vocabulary-packed update with you, one you can look forward to. I hope it fuels your dreams of coming to France while expanding your French vocabulary. A contribution by check or via PayPal (or credit card, links below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!


"Conciliabule" or how to say Pow Wow in French + Family dynamics: living with adult kids and Grandma

Le vin sobre cavea cave vin la ciotat vitrine window
A new window, or "vitrine", at Jean-Marc's wine shop. It depicts the local coastline, including Cassis!

Zut! There's a blooper, une gaffe, at the end of today's sound file. Listen for Jean-Marc, who tells me I've made two mistakes. Hear all the French vocabulary in today's story when you click on the link, below:

Audio file, click here

Conciliabule
(kohn-see-lya-bewl)
: conventicle

Conciliabule--what a cool word in French! A "conventicle" is a secret meeting of nonconformists, and it's perfect for today's missive about a recent family pow wow. Synonyms in French or English for consiliabule: tête-à-tête, conversation, entretien, chat, meeting, discussion

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse
Our 3-Generation Household & La Thérapie Familiale

If ever there were 5 adult family members more challenged for multigenerational living, c'est nous! What with one ex-winemaker and wine shop owner (Jean-Marc), one bartender (Jackie), one wine salesman (Max), one wine thief (Grandma), and one teetotaler (moi...), le conflit est inévitable—even if booze has nothing to do with it. 

One thing we've been needing to do with is our new living arrangement. A recent visit to Jean-Marc's cave à vin provided an opportunity for such a meeting (which I like to call pow-wow if only to slip in one more English term for my kids to learn).

"What is a pow wow?" our son asks, stumped.

"C'est une réunion familiale," I answer, flustered to be speaking bad French when I mean to speak English to my kidults. Seated around a table at Le Vin Sobre, my husband’s wine shop in La Ciotat, we're here to support Jean-Marc in his latest inspiration: une pause déjeuner for customers interested in a simple lunch option at the store.  All family members are present, except Grandma, who is siesting at home (no worries, our wine cellar is locked!).

Last night’s storm has left us feeling out of sorts, so maybe this isn't the time for the conciliabule I have in mind but, with 5 strong personalities now living together (2.5 of us have short tempers and the other 2.5 wish to avoid conflict at all costs),  je me lance!:

"I need help cleaning la salle de bain!" I say.

One of our tribe, the elder fiston, speaks up, arguing that if the bathroom is already propre, why clean it? I feel my blood begin to boil. If it's clean, that's because I keep cleaning it!

Later, at home, after our tummies are full (blood sugar intact) there’s another attempt at group communication and already 2 of us (mother and son) are wrestling with a resurfaced rancune. "Would you please back me up?" I say, glaring at our Chief, who remains bouche cousue. This is not how I imagined our do-it-yourself family therapy session! Maybe we needed outside help?

Max and I managed to work it out all on our own, and what a relief it was. "OK,” I agreed, “I will work on being less controlling if you will work on...." (I let my son fill in the blank)...

"...not losing my patience," Max agreed. Très bien, a successful pow wow at last!

golden retriever dog chien sunflowers
Our 12-year-old golden retriever, Smokey, relaxing in Mom's butterfly chair

Now that the storm is past, instead of grumbling over qui fait quoi I can focus on and appreciate each family member's contribution (even if that doesn't include scrubbing toilets and washing floors...):

My Mom, Jules, waters our garden, and her free spirit (which I am always trying to tame) helps us to lighten up and see life from a creative perspective. Jules also takes good care of her roommate, Smokey, qui veille sur Jules aussi!

My husband, Jean-Marc, takes care of the bureaucratic paperwork we all avoid. Plus he is willing to do anything on my Honey-Do list (if only I'll settle down and write it!).

I take care of the house and yard, do the cooking and try to make everything run smoothly around here by keeping everyone in line when I should probably let go and go with the flow. (But we all should remember the saying: “walk a mile in my shoes!”)

My 26-year-old, Max, is "our supply guy." While on the road as a wine salesman, he sees all sorts of bonnes affaires: from free-for-the picking persimmons to retro bistro chairs (from a wine shop that was tossing them) to a giant antique mirror (found by the side of the road) he gifted Grandma. He's that family member who brings useful/abandoned stuff home for redistribution. Plus, he's a neat freak so he takes care of details I don't think of (like washing down our portable clothesline after the storm).

And my 24-year-old, Jackie, is the peacemaker. Calm, quiet, and thoughtful, she is the listener (and still the dreamer). I am amazed by her ability to simplify and express in words a complex notion or emotion. I've always felt she would be an excellent therapist or advocate given her innate sense of justice. Ironically she is currently recovering from a terrible injustice and this has brought her back to France, to the frenzied fold she escaped years ago.

"Mom," Jackie texted, after I was still spinning from our family meltdown, "everything will be fine, I promise. Everyone is under tension today. Don't blame yourself or anyone. Let's be patient...."

Late that same evening, worn out from emotion as we sat gathered around the salon, I had the last word: “Look, we may not be a perfect family... but would you trade ours for another and maybe a whole other set of problems? We have made it this far and that is a beautiful thing. And right now, at this time in our lives, for various reasons, we are living together again and I believe this is not by coincidence. We all need each other. And, just think, when will we ever have a chance to live together like this again—parents, kids, and Grandma? It’s kind of cool, isn’t it?”

Or, as Jackie said of our multigenerational foyer, “We’re  like an Italian family!” 

We all nodded in appreciation of such exotisme. Yes, indeed. C’est la dolce vita! I think Jules would toast to that...just as she did when she snuck into Jean-Marc’s wine cellar, dragging a neighbor down with her. She must have swiped a very good vintage (Domaine du Banneret, Châteauneuf du Pape?) because when her son-in-law burst into her room the next day, il l’a grondée!

 

FRENCH VOCABULARY
c'est nous = it's us
le conflit est inévitable = conflit is unavoidable
la cave à vin = wine cellar, wine shop
une réunion familiale = a family gathering
la pause déjeuner = lunch break
conciliabule = discussion, chat, pow-wow
je me lance = I go for it
la salle de bain = bathroom
le fiston = son, boy
propre = clean
la rancune = grudge, resentment, hard feelings
la bouche cousue = tight lipped
qui fait quoi = who does what
veille (veiller) = to take care of
une bonne affaire = a good deal
le salon = living room
C’est la dolce vita = it’s the good life 
il l’a grondée = he reprimanded her!
*At the end of the sound file, Jean-Marc is saying: "voilà 'gronder' c'est 'é'...Ah zut!" (I had spelled it 'gronder'.

076653C8-F8A7-4E5C-9675-9DD2CFA9CFED
A favorite picture of my free-spirited Mom, Jules.

Thank you for considering a contribution today!
Ongoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and improving this free language journal, for the past 18 years. If you enjoy this website and would like to keep it going, please know your donation towards this effort makes all the difference! No matter the weather, on good days or bad, I am committed to sharing a sunny, vocabulary-packed update with you, one you can look forward to. I hope it fuels your dreams of coming to France while expanding your French vocabulary. A contribution by check or via PayPal (or credit card, links below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!


How to say "shortcoming" or "vice" in French + recipe reminder: "La Tarte Tomate"

Street in la ciotat France climbing vine morning glory blossoms
"Take a new road each day," Mom says. Like that, I discovered this quaint, unfamiliar rue on my way to our little Baptist church here in La Ciotat. The vine-flanked ruelle was as peaceful as the photo, with neighbors chatting at a window sill and laundry fluttering in the breeze. 

TODAY'S WORD: un défaut (day-fo)

    : fault, flaw, shortcoming, vice

la curiosité est un vilain défaut = curiosity killed the cat

AUDIO FILE: Listen to Jean-Marc read the French vocabulary in today's post:

Vocabulary List, click here to listen to the French


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Coucou! I love this two-syllable, cozy French greeting for "hello, hiya, hey there, salut"--all very warm ways to reconnect after a brief absence. How did your summer go? Did you thrive or just survive? (Or a combination of the two?)

Ah, c'est la vie! 

That is life indeed and, if you are new here, life or la vie quotidienne is the subject of these posts. Life and all of its joys and absurdities. Because family life is the heart of this journal, now is a good time to reintroduce you to our lovable (mostly--on a tous nos défauts!) cast of characters:

JULES: the matriarch of the family and my mom. Jules came to live with us here in La Ciotat 3 years ago. Time flies and so do her trusty friends: all the neighborhood birds who she feeds. 

JEAN-MARC: a.k.a. "Chief Grape", my French husband, who began two vineyards in Provence. He currently runs a wine shop ("Le Vin Sobre") when he is not plotting his next sport adventure, like a triathlon in Spain

MAX: our 26-year-old son, who had the nerve to choose a career in wine after we made the difficult decision to sell our vineyard! (Now he dreams of having vines of his own!) Meantime, he works near Aix-en-Provence and loves the wine business.

JACKIE: our 23-year-old daughter, born and raised in France and who felt the need to discover her American roots. She currently lives in Miami where she is trying to decide whether to return to Fashion design school, learn finance, move to a new state or return to France....

SMOKEY: our 12-year-old golden retriever who survived a two-dog attack as a puppy. Scars and all, he keeps on trucking--and caring for my Mom (a job he assumed 3 years ago) keeps him going.

EDIE: our 3-year-old chicken who bosses everybody around.

KRISTI: founder of French Word-A-Day.com, I grew up in Arizona, moved to France in 1992, and began this French word journal ten years later, as a way to carve out a place in my dream profession: writing. Thank you for reading and for keeping me employed!

YOU. Saperlipopette! I nearly left out a most important member of our French Word-a-Day family. YOU. It would mean a lot to all of us here if you would introduce yourself in the comments section below. What city do you call home? What's your favorite past-time? Are you old enough to remember WWII? Thank you. I look forward to reading your words and I thank you for reading mine as I gear up for a new year of postings. Bonne rentrée!

Amicalement,

Kristi


FRENCH VOCABULARY
la rue = street, road
la ruelle = lane, narrow street, back alley
la curiosité est un vilain défaut = curiosity killed the cat
coucou = hey, hi there
salut = hi
c'est la vie = that's life
la vie quotidienne = daily life
on a tous nos défauts! = we all have our faults!
saperlipopette = goodness me! good heavens!
bonne rentrée = have a good fall (happy back-to-school, return from summer)
amicalement
= yours (way to sign off a French email or letter)

Tomato pie tarte tomate petunias

LA RECETTE DU JOUR: La Tarte Tomate
Visit the tasty recipe archives and discover this most delicious way to use some still-in-season tomatoes. Click here.

Tomato pie tarte tomate yellow and red  tomatoes
Click the recipe link above this photo for easy instructions on how to make a tomato tart.
Window in la ciotat
I leave you with a homey scene from La Ciotat, France. Prenez soin de vous et à bientôt!

Thank you for considering a contribution today!
Ongoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and improving this free language journal, for the past 18 years. If you enjoy this website and would like to keep it going, please know your donation towards this effort makes all the difference! No matter the weather, on good days or bad, I am committed to sharing a sunny, vocabulary-packed update with you, one you can look forward to. I hope it fuels your dreams of coming to France while expanding your French vocabulary. A contribution by check or via PayPal (or credit card, links below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!


un arbre

Arbre

un arbre (ar-bruh) noun, masculine
1. a tree

Also:
l'arbre généalogique = the family tree
un arbre fruitier = a fruit tree
l'arbre de Judée = Judas tree
l'arbre moteur = the driving shaft
l'arbre de Noël = the Christmas tree
l'arbre de vie = the tree of life

.........................
Expressions:

faire grimper quelqu'un à l'arbre = to pull someone's leg, to kid someone
couper l'arbre pour avoir le fruit = to sacrifice one's future for the (fleeting) present moment
faire l'arbre fourchu/droit = to do a handstand (with legs apart/together)
les arbres vous cachent la forêt = you can't see the forest for the trees
Tel arbre tel fruit = a tree is known by its fruits
l'arbre ne tombe pas du premier coup = (the tree doesn't fall from the first hit) = Rome wasn't built in a day

..................
Proverb

Entre l'arbre et l'écorce, il ne faut pas mettre le doigt.
Do not meddle in other people's affairs.

..........................
Today's Quote:

La vieillesse embellit tout : elle a l'effet du soleil couchant dans les beaux arbres d'octobre.

Old age beautifies everything: it has the effect of the setting sun on the beautiful trees of October. --Maurice Chapelan

.....................................
A Day in a French Life...

At the Nice Côte d'Azur airport, I left ma tante* and mon oncle* to catch their flight home to San Francisco.

My family from California visits each year, and the kids have a great time playing with their arrière tante* and oncle. That's right, playing. My uncle, who sometimes refers to himself as "une personne du troisième âge,"* climbs trees and hops fences with Max, who is ever enthusiastic to have an adult as a complice.* But these adventures can get sticky, as in the time they got the bright idea to climb the grand arbre* outside our last apartment.

Folding the laundry, I paused to look out the window and was soon horrified to see my uncle and then five-year-old son perched up high in a tree.

"Descendez tout de suite!"*

I ran down the stairs and out to le parking* to meet the spotted pair at the base of old pine. Both grimpeurs d'arbre* had tree sap stuck in their hair, chemises,* pantalons* and on the tips of their shoes. But before I could say "Regardez-vous!" they were off; this time in a great chase after le ballon de foot.*

....................
*References: une tante (f) = an aunt; un oncle (m) = an uncle; arrière tante = great aunt; une personne du troisième âge (f) = a senior citizen; un complice (m) = an accomplice, a partner-in-crime; un arbre (m) = a tree; Descendez tout de suite! = Get down right away!; le parking (m) = the parking lot; grimpeurs d'arbre = tree climbers; une chemise (f) = a shirt; un pantalon (m) = trousers, pants; regardez-vous! = look at you!; le ballon de foot (m) = the soccer ball

Thank you for considering a contribution today!
Ongoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and improving this free language journal, for the past 18 years. If you enjoy this website and would like to keep it going, please know your donation towards this effort makes all the difference! No matter the weather, on good days or bad, I am committed to sharing a sunny, vocabulary-packed update with you, one you can look forward to. I hope it fuels your dreams of coming to France while expanding your French vocabulary. A contribution by check or via PayPal (or credit card, links below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!