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.

Comments
To respond to this story, click here

  1-IMG_20140601_180214

 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!

A Message from Kristi
Thank you for reading my language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on the creative process of writing. My wish is to continue offering posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation of any amount.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


Chapeau bas and Froissé (do you know this emotion in French?) + Ski Lessons from Mom

Table for two in Le Castellet France Provence valentines day hearts
Wishing you a Joyeuse St. Valentin today, as this journal won't go out on Valentine's Day. In the meantime, please follow me here on Instagram. Merci!

Today's Word: chapeau bas

    : hats off!, bravo!

When we say "chapeau bas!" we recognize the merit or the value of someone

Audio/Listening: Click the link below to hear Jean-Marc pronounce the French words in the following story. Then scroll down to the vocabulary list to check your French comprehension.

Click here for the MP3 soundfile


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

Follow Kristi on Instagram Kristi Espinasse

Carefully entering Jules' studio, I notice Mom seems relaxed. Last night when we parted we were both froissées. The subject of our little clash, our escarmouche?: a project Mom shared with me, one she was excited about before I added mon grain de sel...and dried up her enthusiasm. 

(Not to worry, Dear Reader. The Universe, or Our Heavenly Father, as I like to refer to that mysterious force guiding us all--would straighten me out, tôt ou tard. And I reminded Mom of that much, lest she thinks I am blind to my own faults. It never fails to amaze me how we must learn the lessons we so forcefully try to teach others.).

Tiptoeing over to Mom's bed in the corner of her studio, I asked if I might sit down. "Sure, grab some pillows," Jules said, straightening her wool hat. She was wearing a down-feathered coat, too, which meant she was leaving all the windows open again, en hiver, to accommodate our old dog who now lives chez elle. "He gets too hot in here," Mom explained. Just when I thought Mom, who brought us up in the Sonoran desert, would never get used to this colder climate, here she is bundling up for another's comfort. Chapeau bas! Mom has my full respect (even if she doesn't always know it).

Smokey shuffled up to the bedside, his queue wagging in that special way of his. "There goes that helicopter tail," Mom smiled, patting our golden retriever on the head.  With that, Old Smokey backed up several yards... and charged forward, picking up enough speed to hoist himself onto the bed. If only his helicopter tail could lift his body (just as it lifts our spirits)! 

"I'm going to need to lower my bed. Smokey is getting too old to jump up here." 

"Yes, we'll do that, Mom," I said gently. And, on saying so, I became of aware of a lot of "Yes, we'll dos" that we haven't yet dones:

We'll do the art supply store (to get some needed "medium" for Mom's paints)
We'll do the bus terminal... (to look into a bus pass for Mom)
We'll do Van Life (one wish of Jules's is to hit the road with Smokey and me. Oh the places we would see!)

"Are you leaving this afternoon for the mountains?" Mom asked, waking me from my rêverie (in which the three of us were cramped in a van, looking for yet another road stop W.-C.).

"Uh...oh yes, we’ll  be away 3 days."

"Why don't you take ski lessons this time?" Jules was right. At 54, it was never too late for me to learn to ski. 

(I would like to preface the next few paragraphs by pointing out that I may have misunderstood or misremembered Mom's ski tips, so if anything seems off, blame the writer and not the instructor...)

"Roll your ankles when you want to turn," Mom began, and with that Jules offered an on-the-fly ski lesson from bed, where, with her woolen hat and doudoune she was already dressed the part of La Monitrice de Ski.

Tip No. 2 had something to do with the skis' edges. "Put all your weight down on them to turn. And remember your ankles!" Tip No. 3 "Lean forward!" and Tip 4 "Get an instructor whom you don't know. And one that's cute!"

Mom reminded me that when everybody else goes off to ski, instead of ambling around town in the cold... waiting to join my family for lunch, I could be taking lessons

"This can be your secret," Mom concluded. "Never share your dreams or people will stomp on them!"

Oups! It was clear Mom was still smarting from last night's mère-fille melee. If there was any tension in the room now, Smokey felt it first. I watched as his gray-whiskered face moved back and forth from mother to daughter, anticipating what would happen next.... 

"Mom!" I said. "I didn't mean to stomp on your dreams. I only wanted to help you with the details. I realize now that you weren't asking for my help, you only wanted me to listen and to share your enthusiasm. I get it."

And I realize I want the same when I share my plans with others (my husband, Mr. Fixit, comes to mind...).  That's what we all want, isn't it? For someone to listen to our dreams, our goals, our projects...and not interfere via their own doubts, negativity, or concerns.

“..and if they do have anything to say," Mom added, "let it be uplifting. Always lift people up!

Chapeau bas, Maman! You are one lovely human. With that Smokey's queue began spirling again. Mr. Helicopter Tail seemed to agree, wholeheartedly.

**
Post note: I didn't take ski lessons when we visited our daughter, in the Alps last weekend. I think I need a few more pointers from Mom, first. 

Briancon Alps France
More photos from our trip in my Instagram gallery

FRENCH VOCABULARY
froisser = to offend, to hurt
froissé
= hurt
une escarmouche = skirmish
mon grain de sel
= my two cents' worth
en hiver = in winter
chez elle = at her place
chapeau bas! = hats off!
la queue = tail
le W.-C. = toilette
le moniteur/la monitrice = ski instructor
la doudoune = down jacket
oups! = whoops!

Jules and Smokey studio
My Mom, Jules, in her studio with Smokey. 

A Message from Kristi
Thank you for reading my language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on the creative process of writing. My wish is to continue offering posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation of any amount.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


S’épancher: to pour out one's heart + Another grocery store encounter

fleuriste flower shop in Sospel France hearts on window niche
A flower shop in Sospel, France. The hearts in the fleuriste's window hint at today's word. The story below reveals the full meaning. Enjoy two sound files in today's post and thank you for sharing this journal with a friend.

Today's Word: s'épancher

    : to pour out one's heart

Example Sentence and Sound File
Retenir ses larmes, voilà bien, selon moi, le comble du " charnel " ; car lorsqu'on refuse à son coeur de s'épancher, le chagrin ne s'ancre-t-il pas en nous, pesant comme un fardeau? To hold back one's tears is, in my opinion, the height of the "carnal"; for when one refuses to let one's heart out, does not grief become anchored in us, weighing us down like a burden? -Jostein Gaarder, author of Sophie's World

Click to hear the quote in French


A DAY in a FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse
"Life Unraveling as it Should"

I was blowdrying my hair when Mom knocked on the bathroom door.

"I'm not feeling well. I'm going to stay home," Jules said. I noticed she was hunched over.

Our plans were now changing and this rattled me--especially as I had waited an extra hour to wake up Mom (had I known she wasn't coming with me, I'd have left for the grocery store earlier). In my frustration, I couldn't help but wonder whether Mom was really sick or did she just want to ditch the shopping errand and get back in bed?

"Mom, stand up straight!" I said, assessing the situation. I had never seen her hunched like that and wanted it to stop. (My own kids have a similar reaction when I am not brimming with health. They don't ever want to see their parents weak.)

"I'm not going to the store," Mom put her foot down.
 
"Well, I don't want to go to the store either!" I announced.

"Then don't go," Mom challenged.  

"But I have to!"

In the 30-second standoff that followed, huffs and puffs could be heard...followed by a move on the more mature one's part:

"Here," Mom said, waving some cash.

"No. You keep it!" I thought Mom was giving me pocket money again. If she had 50 dollars to her name, she'd still give us l'argent de poche--no matter our age, for the joy it brings.  

"Just get me some grape juice and bread please."

"Don't worry. I'll get a bunch of goodies," I said, thanking Mom for le flouze.


When I got into my car I saw Mom walking toward me from her studio, reminding me to bring her the pommes de terre I'd cooked earlier. She needed them to make the fried potatoes we were having for lunch. I got out of the car, walked back to the house (pausing to pet our old dog) then back around the house, to Mom's place, patates en main.

Smokey golden retriever 12 years old
                                 Mom's hand resting on Smokey

"Oh, and the bacon..." Mom reminded. Right, les lardons! I hurried back around the house (pausing to pet Smokey) unlocked the front door, ran to the kitchen...then back to Mom's.

(Old Smokey needed more pats on the way back. And because his time is limited, I had to slow down.)

Finally, in my car, seatbelt on.... and zut! I forgot my phone! Oh, leave it. No, you need it or you'll forget what's on your list... One more dash back to the house, and up the stairs to my room.... I sensed at that moment that all the va-et-vient, though annoying, amounted to Life unraveling as it should.

***

At Monoprix supermarket I took a deep breath. You're here now. Take your time. Get what you need. You can catch up with everything else later....

In the frozen food aisle, a petite woman with soft platinum curls approached me. "Pardonnez-moi. Je cherche les épinards."

"Oh, spinach... there it is," I said, walking with Madame over to the display: "il y a des épinards en branches, épinards hachées, épinards à la crème fraîche...."

"Merci beaucoup," she said, "You are so kind. You are so kind."

"Oh. I only showed you where the spinach was," I smiled.

"I'm so lost." Madame said suddenly. "My husband just passed away. I don't know why I am telling you this."    

I stood there holding her gaze and reached for her arm. The widow now held on to mine. 

"And I lost my daughter. She was 45...."

"Oh, I am so sorry! I am...holding you in my heart," was all I could think to say. We stood there in our flimsy paper masks, clinging to each other. I gently squeezed la veuve's arm, hoping the tender gesture would make up for a lack of words.

"Merci, merci, vous êtes gentille," the widow repeated. 

"I will be here shopping for a while,” I assured her. “If you need me, je suis dans les parages."

I continued shopping, glancing here and there for the lost soul, but the widow had vanished. 

***

Back at home Mom was much better (hmmm....) and after lunch we sat together in the sunshine, Mom popping up from time to time to show me her ideas for our garden: “And I'm going to have Max dig a trench here and one there for flowers! Lots of flowers!

Mom sat back down in her favorite papillon chair, looked over at me at snickered. "Stand up straight! I used to tell you girls that when you were little."

Obviously, somebody was still irritated by the comment I made earlier. "Mom, I'm sorry if I was harsh with you," I apologized. “That was just Fear talking. I didn't want you to be sick. And also, I get frustrated when plans change. And then I had a hard time getting out the door. Back and forth, back and forth."

"To and fro, to and fro
, like the Holy Spirit," Mom smiled, in reference to our celestial helper.

It dawned on me then that every little change, every empêchement in my schedule, added up to the chance encounter with a stranger in need. It is a lesson the universe continues to teach: Everything is unfolding as it should, setbacks and all. Just trust that you are in the right place at the right time, right now. (And always be respectful and loving to your Mom!)

Mom  in jeans
Jules. My beautiful Mom.

FRENCH VOCABULARY

Click here to listen to the French terms below

s'épancher = to pour out one'sheart
la pomme de terre = potato
les patates en main = potatoes in hand
le lardon = bacon strip
l'argent de poche = pocket money, spending money
le flouze = cash
zut = shoot!
va-et-vient = back-and-forth
épinards en branches, hachées, à la crème fraîche =
je suis dans les parages = I’m in the area
Vous êtes gentille = you are kind
Merci beaucoup = thank you
un empêchement = a delay

Words missing from the sound file:
le/la fleuriste = florist, flower shop
le papillon = butterfly (read about Mom's butterfly chair)

shopfront artisan fabrication sur mesure
I leave you with a photo from the archives, from the story «Faire Bisquer » (to rile someone) 

A Message from Kristi
Thank you for reading my language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on the creative process of writing. My wish is to continue offering posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation of any amount.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


"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.

A Message from Kristi
Thank you for reading my language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on the creative process of writing. My wish is to continue offering posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation of any amount.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


The Members of our Family + 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.

MR. SACKS: Jean-Marc's loveable 22-year-old sidekick (see a bunch of pictures of him here)

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!

A Message from Kristi
Thank you for reading my language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on the creative process of writing. My wish is to continue offering posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation of any amount.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


How to share "share" in French + Roussillon Book Fair with Mom

Mom Jules and me at Roussillon France book fair salon du livre
Mom and I at the Roussillon Book Fair last September. I didn't have many books to sell... so I dragged Mom to the event to fill up some space.
.
Today's French Word: partager(par-tuh-zhay)
   
    : to share; to divide

Audio clip (Note: the sound file will be away for a while...)
.

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

Ever since mom arrived for a two-month stay I've noticed an ever-so-slight reluctance I feel on the part of sharing things. It began with my trusty slippers: "Here Mom, you can wear these." My husband had left on a two-week business trip; I could just borrow his slippers, I reckoned. Flopping around the house in pantoufles* twice my size, I couldn't help but envy Mom and her fluffy, form-fitting, "foot" digs.

Then there was the hairbrush she needed (I gave her mine and went back to using a comb), the garden shoes (I'm getting by with my son's sandales de piscine*), the camera (pictured, above), and the books (Mom and I have a way of glomming onto the same reading material, so that magazines and books that had up till recently been ignored... now have us asking one another "Are you reading that now? May I have a look for a minute? (hopefully more...)".

Of all the things that we are currently sharing, it is the computer that is most emotionally wearing... Last Monday night Mom accidentally hacked my ordinateur*! On Tuesday I woke up to find myself locked out of the log-in screen. And so the downward spiral began (ending with Le Big Fry, completely unrelated to Le Hack).

Sharing is a virtue that we are taught from a very young age, where jealousy and injustice lurk around every "claimed" corner (This, here, is my turf!). Of all the things we share, perhaps friendship is the most valuable ... So after the slippers, the brush, the garden shoes, the camera, the books, the computer... it looks as though I'm now sharing you, dear reader! Here's a message I found just yesterday, in "our" comments box:

HI TO ALL OF MY FRIENDS -
KRISTI AND I ARE SHARING MAX'S COMPUTER SINCE THE "BIG FRY". I MISS HAVING MY OWN LAPTOP...THEN I WAS ABLE TO CHECK "COMMENTS" several times a day. I miss all of you, Kristi is busy bossing me around, I have managed to meet three new people out in the vineyards surrounding Kristi's house. One a very handsome FRENCHMAN driving a red tractor - collecting all of the old vine stumps that are no longer alive, I waved him to a halt so I could take photos of him dumping the stumps in a giant pile. I managed to extend the normal three kisses on the cheek into kisses each time I felt we had a camera shot worthy of a reward...he.he.he.

Kristi wants to lock me in my room. I also met a beautiful woman from Marocco (sp?) out trimming the vines, I have been taking her a hot cup of tea around 10 a.m. each morning, plus some candy I have swiped from Kristi's STASH. Her name is Alise and she has invited me to her village Rasteau---I think this is supposed to be one of the most beautiful villages in France...I will take photos for all of you and have Kristi post them when I do a little story.
Please pray for me to have the strength to be the MOTHER Kristi needs at this time of her life...
XOXO
JULES
 

*     *     *
Comments, corrections--and stories of your own--always welcome in the comments box. We love reading your words, too.
.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~French Vocabulary~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
la pantoufle
(f) = slipper; les sandales (f) de piscine = pool sandals; un ordinateur (m) = computer

A Message from Kristi
Thank you for reading my language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on the creative process of writing. My wish is to continue offering posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation of any amount.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


cueillir

Cueillir photo: Olive trees and grapes vines in Taradeau

cueillir (kuuh-yeer) verb
  1. to pick, to gather
  2. to catch, to snatch

Hear my son Max pronounce the French word "cueillir": Download cueillir2.wav
.....................
Expression:
cueillir à froid = to catch off guard

.............................
Citation du Jour:
Le bonheur est une fleur qu'il ne faut pas cueillir.
Happiness is a flower one must not pick.
--André Maurois

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

In the kitchen I find Jean-Marc frying brown-shelled oeufs* on our new stovetop. In the oven there is a sizzling cheese pizza, whose box has been neatly arranged next to the cheminée*--kindling for tonight's feu.* "C'est prêt!"* Jean-Marc shouts, and three of us head to the salon* to fight for the best seats.

Over dessert, and once he's fed us into a happy, easygoing mood, my husband mentions the olive trees that need to be cueillis* and the porch that needs sweeping. "I'll pick!" Max says, choosing the lesser of two evils. Jackie begins to complain, switching to psychologie inversée* for a winning result. "I'll sweep! I get to sweep first this time!" she says. I forget about my plans for a siesta when my daughter's enthusiasm and my son's begging have me vying for a place either behind the broom or under the heavy branches of an olivier.*

The nap would have been a mauvaise* idea anyway, I reason, stepping from the chilly house into the sunny yard where ten olive trees, some no taller than 8 year-old Jackie, are offering up marble size fruit. The colorful skins of the olives range in tone from granny apple green to eggplant purple. As Jackie and I pick, I hear the sweep of Max's broom as he pushes curled, colorless leaves off the patio. The metal wind chime hanging from my neighbor's parasol pine tinkles from beyond. I look over to our own wind chimes; beyond them Jean-Marc is painting the shutters in a shade of green best described as sauge.*

As I face the olive tree, the sun warms the back of my head causing any lingering doubts to defrost and melt away. I begin to think about how picking olives is not such a big chore after all. Hélas,* the clouds inch forward and before long I am zipping up my coat. As I watch the sun slip behind the nuages,* I wonder if my daughter could use some of her psychology on them as well.

..................................................................................................................
*References: un oeuf (m) = egg; une cheminée (f) = fireplace; le feu (m) = fire; C'est prêt! = It's ready!; le salon (m) = living room; cueillis (cueillir) = picked; psychologie inversée (f) = reverse psychology; un olivier (m) = olive tree; mauvais(e) = bad; la sauge (f) = sage; hélas = unfortunately; le nuage (m) = cloud

A Message from Kristi
Thank you for reading my language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on the creative process of writing. My wish is to continue offering posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation of any amount.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


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

A Message from Kristi
Thank you for reading my language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on the creative process of writing. My wish is to continue offering posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation of any amount.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens