Avoir du Cran (To be brave in French) + Mom and I get in a little fight & end up at the circus

Circus curtains billetterie
The curtain is now opening on today's pièce: a feisty (and sentimental) mother-daughter story. My mom loved these circus curtains, seen on a recent walk together. Jules sewed our dresses when my sister and I were little, and these rideaux remind me of our visits to the fabric store.  

TODAY’S WORD: "Avoir du cran"

    :  to have guts, grit, to be brave

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Do you believe that our behavior can provoke the universe? I can't help but wonder when, hours before her eye exam, Mom appears in my room and declares, "I do not want any more doctor's appointments!"...only to be issued, hours later, a slew of new rendez-vous.

Whether or not our conduct stirs the Powers That Be, it moves mere mortals. Not sure how to respond to my mom (or how to deal with the let-down), I choose to reason with her: “But Mom, how many doctor visits have you had in the last year?” I challenge, knowing well we’ve not suffered more than a handful--one or two times to the family toubib, to renew a prescription, and two aller-retours to the ophtalmo after severe pain revealed too much pressure in Mom's eye. But never mind the facts, Jules's mind was made up.

"I'm not going!"

"Mom!  We can't cancel. We're going!"

Sensing some sort of diatribe on my part, Jules quietly exits, shutting the door behind her, against which I unleash a string of gros mots: @#%!! @#%!! @#%!! 

Well, that got her attention. Mom returns. We exchange stubborn looks. I offer an I'm sorry but...!

I'm sorry but do you realise I've arranged my day around this eye exam?
I'm sorry but do you know how hard it is to get a doctor's appointment anymore?
I'm sorry but I am the one handling your healthcare as you don't speak French or drive!

Suddenly, Mom approaches the bed to sit beside me. After a few deep breaths, we are on a walk down memory lane as visions of our life back at the trailer park come flooding forth--including the time Jules tossed our toys out the window after my sister's and my roughhousing damaged our family’s new bean bag, spilling les haricots all over the living room. Mom had her gros mot moments @#%!! but who could blame her as she struggled to raise two girls on her own while working full-time? And yet somehow this single mother managed. Even more, Mom signed us up for Brownies, Girl Scouts, gymnastics, and band, and somehow managed to buy everything from my clarinet to my sister's first car. When my sister had a car accident Mom nursed her back to life and made Heidi return to school to finish the year, despite the scars from several broken bones, in time to go on to college. Heidi became the first one in Jules’s family to graduate from college, and with a degree in journalism! Meantime Jules's worries weren't over: her youngest (moi-même) dropped out of community college and returned home. (I eventually followed in my sister’s footsteps, graduating from college with a degree in French, and began writing after moving to France.)

First car and trailer
My sister's 1970 Camaro in front of our home. That's Shaw Butte Mountain in the background.

"All I want now is peace and quiet," Mom admits, as we sit in bed holding hands, hours before her doctor's appointment. "I am so grateful to live here with you and not to have to worry any longer."

Turning to Mom, I would like to say I understand the struggle and that, at 56, I'm tired too! But one must press on! Only, unlike Mom, I have not been worn down from the stress of trying to pay for ice skates, braces, or clothes at the beginning of each school year. Through it all, we never received the admonition, “Money doesn’t grow on trees!” Instead, Jules instilled a work ethic that had my sister and me earning first an allowance, then cash from babysitting and a paper route, and finally our first paycheck jobs by the age of 15.

"And now here we are in France!" Mom whispers, squeezing my hand. It never ceases to amaze Mom that she is living on the Riviera after surviving in the desert. (Our neighborhood was a senior citizen mobile home park, but Mom convinced the landlord to let us in as she was first to rent a space when it opened. We stayed 11 years. Before it was demolished, we moved on, and Mom eventually settled into a beautiful cabin near Saguaro Lake. Then to Mexico for 22 years before coming to live with us in France.)

“I am so proud of my daughters,” Mom says, turning to me. Jules has kindly forgotten my earlier slur of cuss words and a peaceful truce is once again underway. This wasn’t the first and won’t be our last mother-daughter fender-bender, but we have acquired some tools to hammer out the dents along the way--our shared vulnerability being one of them. Another is forgiveness. Finally, there's grit--the French call it "le cran". Indeed it takes courage and endurance to love and to keep on loving. I love you, Mom. This one's for you. xoxo

***
Update: we made it to the doctor's appointment in time for Mom’s follow-up eye exam. The good news is her eye pressure has stabilized. But she now has to undergo a series of shots to treat the edema, or swelling, inside her right oeil. For that, Jackie will drive her grandma to Marseilles. Wish Mom luck as the first eye injection is today!


Jules getting ready
A favorite picture of Mom taken from the post "Conciliabule: Living With Adult Kids and Grandma"

Jules at the eye doctor waiting room
My beautiful Mom, in the doctor's waiting room, gazing out the window to the Mediterranean. I will always be moved by Mom's strength, courage, and perseverance in the face of so many challenges, beginning in her childhood. Elle a du cran! The French would say. She has guts!

FRENCH VOCABULARY 

Click to listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the French and English vocabulary words

avoir du cran = to be brave, to have guts
le rendez-vous =
appointment, meeting
le toubib
= doctor
aller-retour = round trip
l’ophtalmo = eye doctor
la diatribe = tirade, rant 
le gros mot= swear word, cuss word
l'oeil = eye
Elle a du cran = she has guts!
le conciliabule = secret meeting, Ecclesiastical council

Heidi Jules Kristi Busters Restaurant
Heidi, Mom, and me celebrating Heidi's college graduation from NAU, at Buster's Restaurant & Bar in Flagstaff, Arizona

REMERCIEMENTS/THANKS & ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Sincere appreciation to readers supporting this journal via a donation! I would be too tempted to slack off from my weekly writing deadline if it wasn't for you!

Judy S.
Lucie A.

Betsy F.
Trish A.
Susan H.

Sheryl W.
Jeanne S.
Martha K.

Thank you for the wonderful newsletters! They are so well constructed and so much fun, supporting my learning to speak French and about French lifestyle and culture, too! I’m so appreciative that you do this. Also love your book! --Martha 

Kristi and Jules at the circus trailer

Photo of me and Mom admiring the circus curtains. If you have time, read the story of how my mom sowed the seeds of books (and writing) into my heart. Click here to read "Fireside" (Coin du Feu)

COMMENTS
Your corrections and comments are welcome and appreciated. Click here to leave a message. in the comments section at the end of this post.

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


Joyeux Noël: A Christmas Message from Kristi

Emmaus charity shop La Ciotat
I love this scene, photographed a year or so ago at our local Charity shop, Emmaus.

Today’s Word: Joyeux Noël

  : Merry Christmas! 


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse
I would like to share a reader comment that is helping me to keep the faith, no matter how many times I stumble, on this, the final countdown to Noël: Help me to recall it again now...

"The spirit of Christmas is in the love you share and give and has nothing to do with decorations, gifts or money. Delight in those gathered near and good times spent together. These are fleeting and a blessing to be cherished. Joyeux Noël & Bonne Année."

And here are Jo-Anne Yurosko's words in French, translated by Chatgpt, to underline the point....

"L'esprit de Noël réside dans l'amour que vous partagez et donnez, et n'a rien à voir avec les décorations, les cadeaux ou l'argent. Réjouissez-vous de ceux qui sont réunis près de vous et des bons moments passés ensemble. Ceux-ci sont éphémères et une bénédiction à chérir. Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année."

Thank you, Jo-Anne, for this heartening message. Each time I read it it evokes a new reaction--most recently tears. I really struggle with the Christmas season, and I am beginning to understand why: apart from my birthday being tossed into the flurry, it is the influx and bombardment of "things", the tornado of shoulds and expectations that keep me anxious and too distracted to enjoy the festivities. Thank you for the reminder that times with our loved ones are fleeting. Let's show each other love and affection by delighting in this time together, looking past our differences and, indeed, our personal failures, forgiving each other's flub-ups or transgressions. It is easier said than done, plus facile à dire qu'a faire, especially when we are focused on the imminent deadline that is Commercial Christmas and all the "trimmings" that go with it. From stocking stuffers to Turkey stuffing our minds are packed with the details of the Yuletide season.

It's not too late to take the focus off these fabricated devoirs that run us around like hopeless slaves, blinded to the message behind Christmas:

Peace on Earth...
good will to men...

Signing off now to enjoy Advent, or these few days leading up to Christmas. And if I should stumble, Lord, I thank you for your most precious gift: le salut. The Gift of Salvation. Joyeux Noël, dear Reader. Take good care and I will check in with you next week with another progress report.

Bien amicalement,

Kristi

COMMENTS
To leave a message, click on this link to the comments box. Merci beaucoup.

Soundfile: for today's recording Jean-Marc and I are reading aloud Jo-Anne Yurosko's words cited at the opening of this letter. Listen in French, then go back and read the quote:

Click here to listen to the French and English audio file

Sapin de Noel French Alps
A wooden Christmas tree in the French Alps.


REMERCIEMENTS - ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Mille mercis to readers sending in a blog donation for the first time, and to my returning patrons listed below. And thank you for these thoughtful notes you left with your gift:

Tam A.
Jane R.
Gwen S.
Mike P.
Vicki B.
Gayle P.
Susan S.
Linda R.
Nancy G.
Irene M.
James N.
Bruce StJ

Judith K.
Mary-Jo J.
Gabrielle C.
Catherine L.
Robbie-Lane J.
John & Charlotte H.

Joyeux Noël . Bruce StJ

Keep up the good work. James N.

I'm happy to support you in a small way. Your posts always bring a smile to my face and heart. Mary-Jo

Thank you for sharing your everyday life - so many laughs (and tears)... Merry Christmas from Long Island, New York! Irene

I enjoy your blog so much...Thank you for sharing your life with us. Merry Christmas to you all. Gwen S.

Thank you for the joy of Christmas that you impart in each and every blog you write. You are much appreciated! Amicalement, Catherine L, San Diego

I am glad to make a contribution. Your writing and thoughts are moving, insightful, and inspiring. I always look forward to them and thank you for sharing such deeply personal moments with us readers. Susan S.

Christmas lights in the old port of la ciotat
Deck the hulls! Christmas decorations at the Old Port here in La Ciotat

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


Bonne fete des meres

P1010724-1
Smokey says: Bonne Fête des Mères - Happy Mother's Day, a little in advance! And please excuse my floppy collar, which serves to balance my floppy tongue! P.S. Check out Pronounce it Perfectly in French - now with more pronunciation exercises!

Bonne Fête des Mères (bun* feht day mair) 

    : Happy Mother's Day

*do I hear giggling out there for the "bun" pronunciation (in parenthesis, above)? Well, bonne sure sounded that way when when I recorded my husband voicing bun feht day mair); better rely on his accent, just below, and not my half-baked parenthetical sound guide!

Audio File: listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's wish:
Download MP3 or Wav file


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

An Unusual Friendship

Yesterday I watched an emotionally-moving témoignage, or testimony, on video. In it, two mothers stand before a stone-faced audience. Hand in hand, fueled by courage, the women tell the story of a remarkable friendship born of tragedy.

Phyllis speaks first. Her son was killed in the September 11th attacks...
Aicha listens. Her son is accused in the World Trade Center killings.

And yet...

Where they would be enemies, hearts filled with vengeance—
Where they would be in opposition, minds filled with distrust—
Peace has overcome. 

Tears rolling down her cheeks, Aicha (pictured, right) understands her dear friend's words only with the help of  a French translator, who is standing beside the women.

Capture plein écran 06052011 095438 Phyllis says: "When people heard that my son was a victim, I got immediate sympathy. But when people learned what her son was accused of... she didn't get that sympathy. But her suffering is equal to mine.

When it is Aicha's turn to speak, the mother of the accused tells of how she approached the victim's mother:
Dans son regard j'ai compris que c'était une mère comme moi...
I saw in her eyes that she was a mother like me...

Aicha's story pours out over the audience, as stone faces dissolve into cathartic tears. Instead of hate, we learn about how these mothers found another way....

Capture plein écran 06052011 093909
Aicha's story ends with these thoughts on humanity: "We must be hand in hand and do something together..."

Il faut essayer de connaitre "l'autre"...
Il faut être genereux, genereux de coeur, et d'esprit...
Et de la tolerance...
Il faut lutter contre la violence!
Et j'espère qu'un jour on va vivre ensemble dans la paix et dans le respect des uns et des autres

We have to try to know people who are different from us...
We have to be generous in our hearts and minds...
We have to be tolerant....
We have to fight against violence!
And I hope one day we will live together in peace and in respect of one another. 

***

Take a moment to watch the short video (click here, if reading this edition by email) in English and in French and please come back to share your thoughts, in the comments box.

 

Le Coin Commentaires

Capture plein écran 06052011 093735 In one of her many compassionate reactions, Phyllis embraces Aicha, empathising, "I had never met someone with such a hard life, from such a totally different culture and environment than my own...

Thank you for sharing your response to this video. Click here to leave a comment

 *photos taken from the video at Ted.com

 

  DSC_0042

We are bound only by our own bigotry. Put aside intolerance and prejudice. Quit assuming. Take a stand to step out and get to know the seemingly exotic humans all around you. Photo taken in Madrid.

 

 ***

A Feast at the BeachA Feast at the Beach. Travel back in time and immerse yourself in the Provence of the late 60s. Sensitively told, filled with humor, tenderness and a beautifully descriptive narrative regaling the reader with the tastes and smells of Southern France, A Feast at the Beach deftly blends the foods of Provence with stories that will touch your heart - and just may inspire you to rediscover your own joie de vivre. See the reviews, here.

**

Check out the latest prices for Kindle, click here and consider ordering today! Your purchase helps support this free language journal. Merci beaucoup!

P1010596
P.S. To my wonderful Mom: Happy Mother's Day! See, I didn't forget that photo you asked me for, of one of the flowers in my garden. (Picture taken with this handy pocket camera.)

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