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

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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.

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"Bidou": A Do-It-Yourself Tummy Tuck in French (Bilingual Story)

Eden Theatre oldest functioning cinema in the world
Today, learn a tummy tuck trick my husband and I use on our morning walks. Passing by historic sites, such as the Eden Theatre--the oldest cinema in the world--is a helpful distraction as we do our "standing situps."

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LE BIDOU (bee-do)

    : tummy, tum-tum

The word bidou is used by children or by adults speaking to children. Bidou is also a colloquial term used in casual conversation. Read on... 


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

"Brains are the New Six-Pack"

My husband and I have tweaked our morning walk to include a (not-so) simple exercise de ventre. By thoughtfully contracting our stomach muscles during the sweaty aller-retour to the port, we can tackle two goals at the same time: cardio fitness and improving core strength. The walking part is easy, the challenge is remembering to suck it in.... For this, we have a one-word reminder/call-to-action that really works:

"Bidou?"

Our prompt or truc de mémoire may be childish ("bidou" means "tummy" in baby talk) but boy is it effective! No sooner does one of us call "bidou?" than we instantly cave below the ribs. But not for long. In a matter of steps my mind is somewhere else, far from my midriff! Apparently, it isn't just my stomach that needs training, so does my brain.

To combat such flightiness, we've come up with an extra command: one of us will say "BIDOU?" and the other will name a target. We must hold it in until the You-Name-It destination. Let me give you an example:

Jean-Marc: "Bidou?"

Kristi (sucking it in):  "Oh, Merci! (for the needed reminder) "Bidou Bâteaux!" This is a signal to maintain it until we reach the boats 20 meters ahead. Once we reach the boats (or sometime in between, depending...), it's the other person's turn to keep us on track...

Kristi: "Bidou?"

Jean-Marc: "Oui oui! (my husband replies, confidently. But is he telling the truth? Has he really been holding it in all this time? Seems like it's always me saying merci! and him saying oui! oui!). Nevertheless, "Bidou Phare!" he suggests next.

Hold on! That's a little too far the phare. I know that in 10 or so meters I'm gonna accidentally let it all hang out. Therefore I humbly suggest, "Bidou Cinema?" (because the Eden movie theatre is only another 15 meters up ahead and I think this is a more realistic goal.)

No matter how amusing the game and how consistently we play it, more often than not I forget to keep my tummy tucked in. The good news is Jean-Marc and I are both improving. In fact, I was smack in the middle of a long stretch of holding it in when I saw a man with a very big bidou wearing a funny T-shirt. It read: "BRAINS ARE THE NEW SIX-PACK." 

I'm not a fan of smug T-shirts, but this one got me thinking about how both the French and the English have an unhealthy symbol for "muscular stomach": the French call toned abs une tablette de chocolat--a chocolate bar, picture six squares-- while the English call them "six-pack abs".

Next, I wondered, Does this Frenchman understand the English on his T-Shirt? Ah well, what does it matter? After all, his quirky message was beginning to sink in and make some sense to me. Because a flat stomach is, in my experience (not that I've yet experienced one....), the result of consistent brain power. Indeed, les cerveaux sont les nouveaux abdos!

COMMENTS
To read the comments to this post or to leave one, click here

Old wooden boats in the port capucin
Bidou Bateaux? Here is one of our targets--the old wooden boats in Port des Capucins.


FRENCH TRANSLATION by ChatGPT

"Les Cerveaux Sont Les Nouveaux  Abdos"

Mon mari et moi avons ajusté notre marche matinale pour y inclure un exercice de ventre (pas si simple). En contractant consciencieusement nos muscles abdominaux pendant notre aller-retour transpirant vers le port, nous pouvons atteindre deux objectifs simultanément : l'entraînement cardiovasculaire et le renforcement des muscles profonds. La marche est facile, le défi réside dans le souvenir de rentrer le ventre... Pour cela, nous avons un rappel en un mot qui fonctionne vraiment bien :

"Bidou ?"

Notre rappel ou truc mnémotechnique peut sembler enfantin ("bidou" signifie "ventre" dans le langage des tout-petits), mais il est incroyablement efficace ! À peine l'un de nous prononce "bidou ?" que nous rentrons instantanément le ventre en dessous des côtes. Mais pas pour longtemps. En quelques pas, mon esprit est ailleurs, loin de mon abdomen ! Apparemment, ce n'est pas seulement mon ventre qui a besoin d'exercice, mon cerveau aussi.

Pour contrer cette distraction, nous avons inventé une commande supplémentaire : l'un de nous dit "BIDOU ?" et l'autre nomme une cible. Nous devons le maintenir rentré jusqu'à la destination en question. Laissez-moi vous donner un exemple :

Jean-Marc : "Bidou ?"

Kristi (en rentrant le ventre) : "Oh, merci ! (pour le rappel nécessaire)" Puis "Bidou Bâteaux !" Cela signifie que nous devons le maintenir jusqu'à ce que nous atteignions les bateaux (à seulement 20 mètres devant nous). Une fois arrivés aux bateaux (ou quelque part entre les deux, selon les circonstances...), c'est au tour de l'autre de nous garder sur la bonne voie...

Kristi : "Bidou ?"

Jean-Marc : "Oui oui !" (mon mari répond avec confiance. Mais dit-il vraiment la vérité ? A-t-il vraiment rentré le ventre tout ce temps ? Il semble que je sois toujours celle qui dit merci ! et lui qui dit oui ! oui !). Néanmoins, il propose ensuite "Bidou Phare !".

Attendez ! Le phare est un peu trop loin. Je sais qu'à environ 10 mètres, je vais involontairement tout laisser pendre. Par conséquent, je suggère humblement, "Bidou Cinema ?" (car le cinéma n'est qu'à 15 mètres de là et je pense que c'est un objectif plus réaliste).

Peu importe à quel point le jeu est amusant et à quel point nous y jouons régulièrement, j'oublie souvent de garder mon ventre rentré. Mais nous nous améliorons tous les deux. En fait, j'étais en plein milieu d'une longue période de maintien lorsque j'ai vu un homme avec un très gros bidou portant un t-shirt drôle. Il était écrit : "Les cerveaux sont le nouveau pack de six".

Je ne suis pas fan des t-shirts arrogants, mais celui-ci m'a fait réfléchir sur le fait que les Français et les Anglais ont tous deux un symbole peu sain pour "ventre musclé" : les Français appellent les abdominaux tonifiés une "tablette de chocolat" - imaginez six carrés - tandis que les Anglais les appellent "six-pack abs".

Ensuite, je me suis demandé : ce Français comprend-il l'anglais sur son t-shirt ? Eh bien, peu importe. Après tout, son message original commençait à s'enraciner et à avoir du sens pour moi. Parce qu'un ventre plat est, d'après mon expérience (pas que j'en aie encore fait l'expérience...), le résultat d'un pouvoir cérébral constant. En effet, les cerveaux sont les nouveaux abdos!

RELATED STORY
Six-pack abs and The French Gut-Buster (Jean-Marc's new ab gizmo)

 

FRENCH VOCABULARY

Click here to listen to Jean-Marc and me read the vocabulary list


le cerveau = brain
le ventre = stomach
la marche = walk
le défi = challenge
un rappel = reminder
le bidou = tummy
efficace = efficient
les côtes = ribs
une cible = target
néanmoins = nevertheless
le phare = lighthouse
drôle = funny
une tablette de chocolat = chocolate bar

Old port and lighthouse at La Ciotat
Bidou Phare? Can you hold in your tummy from here to the lighthouse? A little concentration will help...

REMERCIEMENTS
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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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To chill or relax in French + allergy season in France

Port capucins la ciotat south of france wooden boats pointus
Photo of Port des Capucines from my Instagram where I have been posting a daily photo and French word all week. Be sure to hit the follow button on my Instagram for the daily updates.

Today's Word: décompresser

    : relax, chill, chill out

Audio/Listening:
Click the following link 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 to listen to soundclip


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse
"Chilling" in French

When Jean-Marc returns home from work in winter he sets down his trusty leather bag, "Mr. Sacks", and heads straight to la cheminée. "Bonsoir, Chérita!" he sings, in passing. As he builds a fire, I'm curled up on the couch nearby, trying to contain a day's worth of thoughts in the time it takes my husband to décompresser, or chill, from a long day at his wine shop.  

Recently when he returned, he must have brought with him a generous sprinkling of pollen, because I began sneezing uncontrollably as soon as he walked through the door. ATCHOUM! ATCHOUM! ATCHOUM! So much for a peaceful accueil. A day later, Jean-Marc was the one sneezing. "Je ne sais pas ce que j'ai!" he complained. His head was "dans le brouillard" and he had le nez qui coule. "I think it's allergies," I said. "It's that time of year."

"Peut-être," he said, reaching for another mouchoir. I made a mental note to buy more Kleenex and observed my husband as he skipped dinner, drank a warm tisane, and managed to stay up late enough to watch le foot (that's soccer, in French, and that night was PSG - Real Madrid!). But by the next day he was in worse shape, and I guessed he was worn out from sneezing and blowing his nose. The French call hay fever le rhume des foins (foins corresponding to dried grass or hay) or la rhinite saisonnière and it is the first time Jean-Marc's suffered from it, or so he thinks.

And that's the problem with seasonal allergies—they’re so easy to confuse with a cold. Maybe his yearly cold was hay fever, after all?

Still, he is complaining of les courbatures and chills--two symptoms not associated with allergies. And this throws a wrench in plans for today's essay (which was supposed to be all about hay fever!).  We still don't know what Jean-Marc has (he tested negative for Covid), but I hope it isn't la grippe.... Meantime he's headed back to the snowy Alps to ski and to help out our daughter (maybe catching her Dad's cold is not what Jackie had in mind when she reached out to us recently...).

As for me, I'm learning to stay out of it (or most of it): let everyone decide for themselves and live with their own decision-making. Best to stay curled up on the couch and keep my many thoughts and opinions to myself so that everyone can décompresser (my husband is certainly chilling--et c'est le cas de le dire!). I’m a lot more chill these days too, and that (first line in this last paragraph) is my new tool in my Human Relations tool belt.

And now, a good day to all, thank you for reading and remember to look out for yourselves...as you continue to quietly look out for others.

Amicalement,
Kristi


FRENCH VOCABULARY
la cheminée = fireplace
Chérita (from "chérie") = dear
décompresser = to chill, relax
atchoum! = atchoo!
un accueil = reception, welcome
Je ne sais pas ce que j'ai! = I don't know what I have
dans le brouillard = head in the fog
le nez qui coule = runny nose
peut-être = maybe
la tisane = herbal tea
PSG - Real Madrid = the Paris and Madrid soccer teams
la rhinite saisonnière = seasonal rhinitis
le rhume des foins = hay fever, allergic rhinitis
les courbatures = aches and pains
c'est le cas de le dire! = and you can say that again! 

Vocabulary added later (and missing from the sound file)
le mouchoir = tissue, Kleenex
la grippe = the flu

Sacoche mr sacks briefcase
Jean-Marc's trusty leather bag, Mr. Sacks.

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


Cloué au lit (Nailed to the bed): La grippe, les frissons

Moustiers Sainte-Marie Faience shop
Random photo of a Faïence/earthenware shop in Moustiers Sainte-Marie. The picture is off-topic, but it's a lot prettier than a photo of "la grippe". Also, there is a picture of Mom and me in our pajamas at the end of this post, so if you don't usually click over to the full version of this letter, you might try to today :-)

Today's Word: La Grippe

    : flu, influenza

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

Le mot "grippe" vient du bas-allemand "gripan" qui signifie "saisir avec des griffes." The word "grippe" comes from the lower-German "gripan" which means "to seize with claws."

Click here for the sound file


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse
"Nailed to the Bed"

Bonne Année! I missed you last week when I was clouée au lit (that's a colorful way of saying "laid up in bed"). I can't remember the last time I had the flu, but I won't soon forget this one, and all the uncomfortable symptoms (listed in order of arrival):

le mal de tête
la toux sèche
les frissons
les courbatures
les sueurs
les oreilles bouchées...

Struck down by the flu virus, I began to wonder if my son was right about his vitamin theory, because after two weeks of cramming supplements...je suis tombée malade!

"Did you get it from Dad?" Max asked, and that was the extent of his interest in my weeklong convalescence. Jean-Marc was a little more sympathetic, bringing me tisanes and asking each morning, ça va mieux? No matter how old I get I still feel guilty (like a kid ditching school) staying in bed. So by day three I did some laundry, made lunch for my family, and tidied the house. But my body whispered, Repose-toi, repose-toi! So I crawled back in bed for a couple more days--in time for the second round of fever (there's even a name for that in French: V grippal):

"La fièvre baisse vers le quatrième jour puis remonte entre le cinquième et le sixième jour : ce phénomène est décrit sous le nom de « V grippal » The fever drops around the fourth day and then rises again between the fifth and sixth day: this phenomenon is described under the name of "V flu".

Just when you think you might be getting better...la maladie grabs you again! (Interesting how the word "grippe" (from the German "gripan") means "to seize with claws").

Fervex (only available in France?) is my family's go-to for colds/flu. The powder comes in little packets. Mixed with water, it has a nice citrusy taste and chases symptoms away (giving a false sense of well-being, hence the feeling you can get up, cook, and clean...). And Doliprane  (paracetamol?) was vital in relieving the headaches and muscular pain in the beginning. But there's no pill for boredom, which crept in by the end of the week.

My Mom and Smokey visited several times, relieving some of the ennui, but this also brought with it some sadness: our 12-year-old golden is riddled with bumps or "masses", both hard and soft. (Two have grown quickly in the past month.) I just can't face what might be coming at some point in the future. But for now, Smokey is barking, dancing for his food, and taking his job of being Mom's best roommate ever very seriously.

I don't know what 2022 will bring but I don't want to fear it. Instead, it helps to remember that each day is a new beginning. So let's go it one day at a time, taking Smokey's valiant lead: to bark, to dance, and to be the best friend ever--and may it be a beautiful year ahead for all of us.

Amicalement,

Kristi 

Clou nails in an old French door
After today's expression "cloué au lit", here's an old French door in Sospel, France, decorated with clous or nails. If you enjoy these posts, please share them with a friend and help others find my newsletter. Merci beaucoup!

FRENCH VOCABULARY
bonne année = Happy New Year
cloué au lit = bed-ridden
le mal de tête = headache
la toux sèche = dry cough
les frissons = chills
les courbatures = aches and pains
les sueurs = sweats
les oreilles bouchées = clogged ears
ça va mieux? = is it better?
repose-toi bien= rest well

A few words that didn't make it into the sound file:
la maladie = sickness, illness
l'ennui (m)
= boredom
la tisane = herbal tea
amicalement = yours, best wishes, regards

Brainstorm
Recently I began brainstorming on paper in preparation for these posts. It is a fun way to get a story going, without any pressure.

Jules and Kristi
When Mom gave me new pajamas for my birthday, I had no idea I'd be living in them for the next two weeks. Thankfully Mom didn't catch my flu. She's as healthy as a tiger (make that a leopard!)

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


The French Cure + vitamins and supplements + the expression "tant s'en faut" (find it in today's story)

Mediterranean sea in la ciotat south of france
The sun gives us vitamin D... and magnesium and calcium are a few gifts from the sea. How do you get your RDA (or "AJR"*): from un comprimé or some other way? Read on for a healthy dose of French vocabulary....

Today's word: une cure

    : course of treatment, therapy

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 to open the sound file

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse
"Pipi cher?"

This week's obsession is...vitamins! minerals! supplements! And when I say obsession, I mean I'm trying to understand les pours et les contres of taking nutritional supplements and whether a multivitamin is beneficial...or, as critics say, just "expensive urine."

Urine coûteuse? Le pipi cher? No matter how I translate it, my husband and my son (subjects I've interviewed as part of my research) are perplexed by the expression. That may be because they're French! Megavitamins are not part of their culture, not that les compléments alimentaires are missing from French pharmacopeia--tant s'en faut! The French have encapsulated every nutrient under the soleil--they just prefer to lounge in the sun (for vitamin D) and eat their fruits and veggies (for vitamins A, B, C...through Zinc). 

THE FRENCH CURE
And yet, my toubib prescribed "une cure de vitamin D" after un bilan sanguin showed low levels of "the sunshine vitamin." And, years ago, when I was enceinte, my gynéco prescribed prenatal vitamins. Then, as a nursing mom, l'allaitement engendered a few carences which were corrected by various cures including le fer. But each time, these vitamins, minerals, or supplements were given as a therapy or course of treatment--une cure. After 10 days or two weeks or one month, the supplementation stopped. End of cure. The magazine Figaro sums up the Gallic viewpoint that "a well-balanced diet provides all the vitamins necessary to navigate bad days":

"...une alimentation équilibrée apporte toutes les vitamines nécessaires pour traverser les mauvais jours."

I'm not exactly sure what they mean by "bad days", but this brings up the subject of mood--and the food/mood connection. Is it true that certain nutritional supplements help diminish anger, anxiety, and stress? I have read that low levels of B-12 and folate are linked to depression and that NAC (N-acetylcysteine) is used to treat ADHD and addiction (even tobacco dependence).

Ideally, we could get all our micronutrients from food, but have you ever stopped to think about the fruits and vegetables you are eating? After weeks of sitting in warehouses, that vitamin-packed persimmon...is less packed: it's lost some of its nutritious load. Next, think about the soil, so much of which is depleted...or treated. 

A proactive approach to health seems like a good idea especially during winter (when sunshine only hits your face, because the rest of your body is covered). Recently, I ordered these dietary supplements:

D3 (normally found in fatty fish, egg yolks, cheese...)
Vitamin C (citrus fruits, tomatoes, potatoes...)
Zinc (meat, shellfish, legumes, seeds)
Quercetin (onion, red grapes, honey and citrus fruits)
NAC (a plant antioxidant naturally found in onion; a precursor to glutathione)
Melatonin (a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain, it improves sleep and manages immune function and cortisol levels)

No matter how many times I hear the word "antioxidant," the meaning doesn't stick. Speaking of sticking, this brings us back to le pipi cher or pricey pee. Critics argue all these extra vitamins don't stick but get flushed right out of the body. I wonder, how true is that? Surely some of the vitamins are absorbed?

Les effets secondaires? Side Effects?
While discussing vitamins with my son, Max pointed out that taking supplements might habituate your body to accepting "outside help" and so weaken its response. Hmm... Good point, Fiston! This reminds me of the saying, If it's not broken don't fix it! 

Alors, que faire? What to do? What to do? Maybe all I really need is a cure for indecision! (The only side effect to that is progress :-)

***
In the comments section, below, I would love to know your thoughts about vitamins and supplementation. If it's not too personal, which vitamins, minerals, supplements do you take and why? Do you take them as a cure (only in the winter) or all year round? You may also use the comments box to offer any edits to this article (greatly appreciated. Merci beaucoup!)

FRENCH VOCABULARY
*AJR (apports journaliers recommandés) = recommended daily allowances
un comprimé = pill, tablet
une cure
= therapy, course of treatment
le pipi cher = expensive urine
le pour et les contre = the pros and cons
urine coûteuse = expensive urine
le complément alimentaire = dietary/food supplement
tant s'en faut = far from it, not by a long shot
le soleil = sun
le toubib = (slang) doctor
un bilan sanguin = blood test
enceinte = pregnant
gynéco (gynécologue) = gynecologist
l'allaitement = breastfeeding, nursing
une carence = deficiency, lack
le fer = iron

Words added to the story (after sound file was recorded!)
le fiston = son
alors  = well then
que faire = what to do?

Smokey and Kristi below Christmas treeSmokey wants to know: Do dogs need vitamins? Meantime, our golden takes Harpagophytum procumbens (Hp) or "Devil's Claw"--an antiinflammatory and analgesic preparation and homeopathic treatment that really helps his arthritis. Sometimes Grandma takes it too!

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


Une saccade + Tic Talk: Let's talk about tics (did you know "Tourettes" is named after a Frenchman?)

Mediterranean port of La Ciotat south of France
Our bustling port here in La Ciotat. Today we're talking about a word we share with the French. A tic is "a frequent usually unconscious quirk of behavior or speech" (Merriam-Webster). Read my story and then share your own experiences in the comments. Merci!

TODAY’S WORD: une saccade 

: jerk, twitch (movement)

saccader (verb): to tremble, shake, jerk

A saccade is also a rapid movement of the eye between fixation points.

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

Click here to begin listening


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
by Kristi Espinasse

Have you read about a certain eye exercise that improves vision?
Bref, all you do is look left, right, up, down, rouler les yeux, then repeat. Do these ocular rotations several times a day and eyesight will supposedly improve. 

But if that were true I would have 20/20 vision by now—without even trying! Because for years I’ve done the left, right, side-to-side sequence sans s’en apercevoir. I say “unknowingly” because I only became conscious of the repetitive eye movements when we lived at our first vineyard

UN AUTOMATISME?
It was during the busy wine harvest when I stole away for a break in my room. I remember laying in bed “stretching” my eyes in different directions when it struck me I’d been doing this a lot lately and that all this straining could be damaging! What if my eyes stuck that way (or one of those ways)? Even that didn’t stop me from doing the eye equivalent of scratching an itch. (And getting the same sort of relief).

Blink, stretch (left), blink, stretch (right), rouler, rouler…. I didn’t think much more of the “eye-scapades” until recently when the habit seemed to get worse. I began to wonder: is there an explanation for these forced eye movements and how common is it? Do you, dear reader, do such a thing? What’s this thing called?

UNE MANIE?
Is it a simple compulsion? A habit? Un TOC? The internet didn’t list “eye stretching” among other popular obsessions, such as:

⇒ biting one's nails (ronger les ongles)
⇒ pulling one’s hair out (arracher les cheveux)
⇒ picking at one’s skin (gratter sa peau)
⇒ picking one’s eyelashes, eyebrows (arracher les cils, ou les sourcils)

UNE SACCADE?
Meantime, I googled an interesting term having to do with repeated eye movements: une saccade (French for “jerk”) is a quick, simultaneous movement of both eyes between two or more phases of fixation in the same direction. According to the Oxford dictionary, saccade means literally ‘violent pull’, (from Old French saquer ‘to pull’).

UN TIC?
Tic is big word (often associated with Tourette’s)... maybe that’s why so many of us don’t make the conscious connection between our repetitive behavior and ticcing (ticking?). Here’s a non-exhaustive list of tics (when the following behavior is continuous):

⇒ blinking (clignements des yeux)
⇒ shoulder shrugging (haussements répétitifs des épaules)
⇒ Foot or finger tapping (tapotements involontaires du pied ou des doigts)
⇒ Sniffing (reniflements),
⇒ Throat clearing (raclement de gorge)

Saperlipopette! Looking over the 2 lists above, I realize I am not alone: some of my family members have either une manie or un tic—everything from continuous throat-clearing to incessant hair-pulling to a spectacular neck jerk. It appears that such gestures may be related to fatigue, anxiety, tension, or stress--even excitement or happiness. The heartening news is that,  just like a sneeze, tics can be controlled...

Ha! Tell that to a control freak.

***

TIC TALK
Share your thoughts about tics and manies (compulsions): do you or a loved one suffer from one? Can you name a famous person with one? (Tennis champion Rafael Nadal, who before serving, rubs his ears and pinches his nose and bottom—il frotte ses oreilles, pince son nez et sa fesse. These are knowns as tics or "little routines", for which he is sometimes mocked.). Are all tics related to Tourette’s? Is there a positive side to tics? And do you know of a technique to reduce or eliminate this sometimes embarrassing behavior? Share your knowledge in the comments box.

FRENCH VOCABULARY 
bref =  in short
rouler les yeux = roll the eyes
sans s’en apercevoir = without realizing it
rouler = roll
une manie = habit, obsession 
un TOC (trouble obsessionnel compulsif) = OCD obsessive-compulsive disorder
ronger les ongles = to bite one’s nails 
arracher les cheveux = pull out one’s hair
gratter sa peau = to pick at one’s skin
arracher les cils, les sourcils = to pick one’s lashes, eyebrows 
une saccade = jerk, twitch
les clignements des yeux = eye blinking
les haussements répétitifs des épaules = shoulder shrugging 
les tapotements involontaires du pied ou des doigts = foot or finger tapping
les reniflements = sniffing
le raclement de gorge = throat clearing
saperlipopette = good heavens!
frotter ses oreilles = rub one’s ears
pincer son nez, sa fesse = pinch one’s nose, one’s bottom
Gilles de la Tourette
From Wikipedia: Tourette syndrome was named by French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot for his intern, Georges Gilles de la Tourette, who published in 1885 an account of nine patients with a "convulsive tic disorder".

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


Petits Oublis: 'Forgetfulness', Etourderie, and verb conjugation (listen to it!)

Lavender tour
Experience a Lavender & Vine painting tour. Join our small group with professional instruction at the peak of the lavender season! 10% discount if you sign up in February. Rates and tour info here.


Today's Word: l'oubli

    : forgetfulness, oversight, memory lapse

*New: Don't miss the verb conjugation for oublier, just after today's vocabulary-packed story below...

ListenL'oubli n'est pas un ennemi de la mémoire. C'est un phénomène non seulement banal mais aussi indispensable, qui lui permet de faire le tri dans la masse d'informations qui nous parviennent en continu et qui ne peuvent pas être toutes engrangées. Forgetfulness is not an enemy of memory. This phenomenon is not only banal but also indispensable, allowing it to sort through the mass of information that reaches us continuously and that cannot all be collected.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

I am beginning to concerned about this latest series of petits oublis... so I've decided to come here to talk about it with you. I'm guessing a few of my readers are aged 50 and above, and will have a thing or two to say about the topic of forgetfulness, or  les moments d'étourderie.

When last I misplaced my key and asked Mom if she had seen it.she replied, Darling, you left it in the front door. (Was that a concerned look on her face? The walking-on-eggshells tone in Mom's voice tells me something too: Is it my mood again?) I remember responding in a nonchalant way, Oh, thanks Mom--yes, I was in the middle of bringing in the groceries, I explained.

And yet I feel anything but insouciant about memory lapses, forgetfulness, oversights, flakiness, and forgotten appointments that are becoming some sort of norm lately...

As someone who does not drink, does not take medication, regularly challenges her brain by speaking a foreign language, eats a (mostly...) plant-based whole foods diet, walks daily, prays and gets plenty of sleep how could this be happening to me? 

A few possibilities come to mind: as a ronfleur, or snorer, chances are sleep apnea may be affecting the quality of sleep... And then there is the anxiety that I arrange my life around--it is why I no longer drink alcohol and why good nutrition, sleep, exercise and, recently, therapy is helpful to me. And yet...

When I left the kitchen robinet running for 10 minutes the other day (the irony! I had been filling a bowl in which to wash mes patates...and so recycle the water afterwards!), and then left the oven on after serving the oven-baked fries... I was alarmed at the latest oversights! But panick doesn't help things, now does it? Peace, after all, plays a big part in a well-functioning brain!

So, dearest reader, please chime in in today's comments box with your own thoughts on forgetfulness a.k.a. les petits oublis. Meantime, may those of us concerned with memory lapse take heart in the following thought (whether you remember it or not!):

L’oubli favorise l’innovation, libère la pensée et stimule la curiosité. Forgetting promotes innovation, frees thought and stimulates curiosity. --Simon-Daniel Kipman


*    *    *

There are many tools to help with our memory--including the exercise of conjugating French verbs! Listen to Jean-Marc conjugate the verb oublier

Verb conjugation oublier

j'oublie
tu oublies
il oublie
nous oublions
vous oubliez
ils oublient

French country diary 2019
A tried-and-true memory aid is a good old-fashioned calendar... and this one is a beauty: The popular, beloved French Country Diary makes jotting down appointments and reminders a pleasing , mindful activity. Order one here.


FRENCH VOCABULARY
l'oubli = oversight, forgetting
les petits oublis = forgetfulness
une étourderie = forgetfulness, absent-mindedness, inattention
le ronfleur, la ronfleuse = snorer
la patate = potato, spud
le robinet = tap, faucet
insouciant,e = carefree, unconcerned, untroubled

St. P paint
Photos in today's post are from my friend Beth. Check out her popular Lavender & Vine Tour in Provence. A vacation (and all those heady aromas from the French countryside) will do wonders for one's memory :-)

Beth painting tour in provence

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


Alarming news at the Dentist's + Jackie applies for Fashion school in Marseille

Impasse gagliardo rochas blanc
Thursday we went to Marseille for a few appointments. Jean-Marc took the opportunity to drive us through our old neighborhood, in Le Roucas Blanc (our first home was there on the left, behind the house with the blue shutters--at the end of the Impasse Gagliardo. On the hilltop, you are seeing the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde). We also passed the church in which we were married...see it at the end of this post.

Today's words: "sans dents"

    -- without teeth

French Slang: Do you speak the real French? Essentials of French Slang book, order here.

Example sentence and sound file: 

Click here to listen to the audio file

L'homme naît sans dents, sans cheveux et sans illusions, et il meurt de même, sans cheveux, sans dents et sans illusions. --Alexandre Dumas

Man is born without teeth, without hair, without any illusions, and he dies the same way: without hair, without teeth, without any illusions.



A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    
by Kristi Espinasse

I am sitting next to a pile of clothes on my bed, trying to wrestle my foot into a high-heeled espadrille, the third pair of chaussures I've tried this morning. "You are only going to the dentist," Jean-Marc points out.

"Yes, but...she's so chic!" My behavior perplexes me as much as my husband, but I can only shrug my shoulders: I am a chameleon, most comfortable disappearing into the background. The neighborhood where Sylvie, la chirurgien-dentiste, is located is in a fashionable quartier in Marseille, and all my efforts to fit in will be en vain. In vain--such is vanity! I end up pulling on a pair of cowboy boots as old as my firstborn. I know the women in Marseille will be wearing ballerinas or sandals, but the women back home in Arizona...well what do I know about Arizonans anymore?--I've lived in France half my life!

And it is showing. At 50, I soon learn my teeth are in grave danger of le déchaussement: loosening and eventually falling out!

"You have beautiful-looking teeth," Dentist Sylvie (who I met at Flavia's) assures me, but beneath it all la maladie parodontale is underway. Sylvie shows us (I've dragged Jean-Marc along for a consultation, too) our radios. "Do you see those tâches noires? Evidence your bone mass is diminishing!"

Having worked on the American military in Italy, Sylvie's assistant, une hygiéniste dentaire (also named "Sylvie"); chats with me about my countrymen until I am relaxed. She lowers the examination chair to get a good look at my pearly-whites (or pearly-wrecks?). A few flicks with a sharp metal probe and she runs right into inflamed gencives. "Not good!" As she alerts the other Sylvie, I am remembering past warnings, from my own belle-mère (Lynne, in Seattle, who lectures internationally on dental health), and another favorite dentist, Robert, back in Les Arcs-sur-Argens, who warned that if I did not begin wearing a mouthguard, for bruxism, I'd be in trouble down the line.

Here we are 20 years down the line and it seems this inflammation is, in part, related to tooth grinding (which may be related to anxiety). Stress has indeed been linked to periodontal disease! And gum disease is linked to everything from heart disease to erectile dysfunction (i.e. not flossing your teeth could lead to trouble below the belt). If that, dear reader, isn't motivation to floss your teeth and brush twice daily what is? 

I leave Sylvie's office with an estimate for something called surfaçage radiculair (tooth planing and scaling) and something called "les Inlays-Onlays" (ceramic tooth fillings) which are designed to repair all those holes in my teeth, from nightly grinding. Overwhelmed, or dépassée, from all the information (and the cost estimate...) I wish I could just go home and gargle with salt water--like my wise Uncle Tucker! Wouldn't that, eventually, clear out all that bacteria living up underneath my gums? Or is something more radical (scraping around the roots...the "tooth planing") needed? One thing is sure, this dentist appointment chez Sylvie has been a wake-up call and I am grateful for that: I promise, from here on out, to brush my teeth twice a day, floss, rinse my mouth after every meal and to once and for all quit being such a worrywart! Stress seems to be at the root of every illness, doesn't it? More than gargling with salt water, I'd do well to take a chill pill!

Jackie vintage gucci belt
Our daughter who turns 21 in September.

From the dentist's office we headed to Le Cercle des Nageurs--the oldest swim club in Marseille--and where Jean-Marc and I had our wedding reception back in 1994. We were here to meet our daughter for lunch, and then take her to her meeting at IICC (Institut International de Création Et de Coupe). What a coincidence! 23 years earlier, pregnant with my son, I tagged along with my friend Suzanne who, like Jackie, had an appointment at this very same fashion school.
Kristi and suzanne at bagatelle mariage
That's Suzanne, to my right. This was our Town Hall marriage. The church wedding was a few months later (church picture below)

I vaguely remember walking up La Canebière, searching for the building which was located beside a cathedral. And I can almost see Madame Ortega, with her shiny auburn hair who is presently greeting us...but not before chewing out her assistant (who up until now had done a smashing job showing us around) for leaving the door wide open.

"What do you want--all of our computers to be swiped? GO CLOSE THOSE DOORS!" Having put her cohort in his place, Madame took her seat. My eyes took in every inch of this colorful personnage, all the way down to her red-lacquered toes. Jackie was as intimidated as the rest of us, and vowed after the meeting never to be in the crosshairs with Madame.

For the second time that day (after the dentist's) we were given a rundown of fees.... and my mind reeled with it all. I looked over at my daughter (who was still agonizing over the school workload she was about to commit to) and I said, "What if we just chuck it all and go live on a horse ranch in Montana?"

What with these cowboy boots, one of us would fit right in!


--

Notes: Chirurgien-Dentiste Sylvie Bensoussan offered me a bilan, or dental check-up, in her state of the art office at 7 Parc Jean-Mermoz. More info at her website.

I am now using and loving this toothpaste and have bought soft-bristle toothbrushes for JM and me. It's a start! On my goals list: to get an oral irrigator. Would love your thoughts. Do you use one?

Update: Thanks to your recommendations I have ordered the Electric Rechargeable Sonic Toothbrush 

FRENCH VOCABULARY REVIEW

les dents = teeth
les chaussures = shoes
le chirurgien-dentiste = dental surgeon
le déchaussement = receding of gums, loosening of the teeth
la maladie parodontale = periodontal disease
la radio = X-ray
la tâche noire = black spot
la gencive = gum
hygiéniste dentaire = dental hygienist
la belle-mère = mother-in-law, stepmother
surfaçage radiculaire = root planing
dépassé(e) = overwhelmed
personnage = character
le bilan = assessment, appraisal, check up


Jean-Marc and Jackie in the office at IICC marseille
Jean-Marc and Jackie, at her rdv at IICC Fashion School. I wonder if my friend Suzanne is reading, today, and if she remembers her own interview in this historic room!

Saint Antoine de Padoue church eglise marseille
Saint Antoine de Padoue, the church in Marseille where Jean-Marc and I were married in 1994.

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


Abasourdi + Chez le dermato: The French don't see the skin doctor (or the dentist) twice a year

Leaves stone building
I try to illustrate every post with photos, but it's a bit challenging when the topic is the doctor's office. Who wants to see a picture of that? So enjoy this random shot instead!

Today's word: abasourdi

    : stunned, taken aback, thunderstruck
    : deafened

Book: 365 Days of French Expressions: Learn one new French Expression per Day

Listen to the following words, read by Jean-Marc: 

Click here for the soundfile

Je suis abasourdi par le nombre de personnes qui veulent «connaître» l'univers alors qu'il est déjà suffisamment difficile de se repérer dans le quartier chinois de New York. I'm astounded by people who want to 'know' the universe when it's hard enough to find your way around Chinatown. --Woody Allen


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristi Espinasse

Twenty-two years ago, when my brother-in-law, Doug, came to visit us in St Maximin, he was left abasourdi (thunderstruck) at the dry cleaners. The red-haired owner, of a certain age--who rocked a jaw-level blunt cut--turned him away. (Or rather, turned his chemises away.) "There are too many shirts! I can do three. C'est tout!"

I felt the same way, recently, at the dermatologist's. Just like French dentists, skin care doctors aren't business savvy. It's not that they reject your money--they are simply mal à l'aise with the business of healthcare. So when a proactive patient shows up at their door, they are, like my brother-in-law, a bit thunderstruck. 

Since going under the knife in 2011 to remove a tumor from my forehead I am careful to get to the dermato yearly--sometimes twice a year. But this is the first time I have been chewed out by my doctor for anything other than too much sun exposure (tell that to my 9-year-old self in the Arizona desert). But I'm ahead of myself--just like I'm ahead of skin cancer--or try to be. So let me back up and tell you what it's like to visit a French dermatologist....

I brought my husband with me. Not for moral support--I brought him in for a check-up! As a former wine farmer, he shares a common pépin with other agricultural workers: skin cancer. He had his first carcinoma frozen off during our previous "couples appointment." (I like to save both the doctor and us time--by this two-for-one rendez-vous). 

Jean-marc vines tan
My husband, Jean-Marc (aka the guy who records the sound files for this word journal)

"Who'll go first?" My 60-ish doctor piped up. Like the dry cleaner, mentioned above, she wore a blunt-cut--hers a little longer than the redhead's... and both shared a quirky and bold character--two things I love in people.

Vas-y! I said to Jean-Marc, watching my husband walk into the examination room and strip off all his clothes. Now I know what the doctor means when she says, "il faut TOUT enlever."  As she probed Jean-Marc, both his body and his lifestyle, I perused Doc's antique-filled office. What a great desk! I thought. Look at all those statues from far off exotic places... She must be a traveler! 

"You can join us in here," Doc suddenly said, and I wondered, for an instant, if she might've mistaken me for a kleptomane? Now I'm being paranoid--which is what brought me here in the first place, i.e. those spots on my face.

I took a seat on a stool near the foot of the examination table, where I had quite an eyeful of my husband (from his toes right up to his nose. As my eyes traveled up along his backside, I was noticing his cute butt...when Doc suddenly said, "I'm going to have to freeze this one. You've got the beginning of a carcinome basocellulaire." She was talking about a patchy red spot on his back. The freezing would be painful, but not as bad as a freezing below one's lower eyelash--I should know!

"But what if I blink or move my eye?" I remembered asking the doctor, on a previous visit as she aimed her fuming ice wand at my eye. She answered casually: "Ce sera une très mauvaise idée...."

Memories. Memories. Presently it was my turn to be examined. I'd stripped off my clothes (including my culottes!) and stood there on the cold floor tiles waiting for the doctor, who was back in her office, completing my husband's medical file as he handed her his carte Vitale, or health care card.

"Déjà?" The doctor said, looking my way. Any confidence I'd gained following my husband's example fell to the floor along with my jeans and underthings. Looking away, I saw a giant roll of paper--and wondered if I could help the doctor along by lining the examination table...better yet I could roll myself in it....

I'm so glad I didn't because my next two moves would infuriate le médécin who'd reappeared beside the examination table, leaving my husband to peruse the well-decorated office across the way.

"Just hold your horses!" she said, snapping at me. (Well, maybe she didn't say "horses"...but her words stampeded forth so abruptly they left me in tears.) What had I done besides not wasting a moment to tell her why I was here? I had said, "j'ai ça... et ça...et ça"... quickly pointing out three suspect growths. Perhaps it was my get-to-the-point American way? Any vitesse on my part had to do with not wanting to hold up any clients that were patiently waiting in the salle d'attente

"I have my way of doing things here!" Doc barked, proceeding to systematically examine me from head to toe. Eventually, she softened. "I understand you have had a bad experience with skin cancer, and it's normale you are concerned," she said, looking at the scars on my forehead and nose. But not every bump is cancerous. With that, my dermato handed me an ordonnance for Fluorouracil--for use on those "suspect" spots. "This way you can treat them yourself. This cream will provoke a reaction if they are cancerous. For the rest, You only need to see me once a year."

I looked at the prescription for "Efudix"...Wasn't that the cream that turns your face into one big scab? For two months? If and when I use it I'll have to hide out somewhere.... Maybe my doctor, the traveler, can recommend a place?

Pas de panique. Today's takeaway is simply this: when you go to a doctor in France, take your sweet time.  Why not carry that lesson out of the doc's office and into your life. Prenez le temps. Pas de stress. Isn't that the main thing when it comes to good health?


FRENCH VOCABULARY
abasourdi = taken aback
la chemise = shirt
mal à l'aise = uncomfortable with something
le dermato = dermatologist
le pépin = snag
vas-y = you go ahead
il faut tout enlever = you must take everything off
la culotte = panty, underpant
la salle d'attente = waiting room

Paris Peace T-Shirt available in a rainbow of colors
Embryolisse - face moisurizer from France with so many uses. See the reviews!
La Tisanerie French Tisane - a warm, soothing drink before drifting off to sleep

Sunglasses sunhat protected from uv rays

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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Bilingual post: Le Coton-tige + a French doctor's thoughts on cleaning your ears

Maison des Pelerins ancient door in Sablet Provence
Spectacular views from every window, a charming, private courtyard, comfortable spacious rooms, and air-conditioned bedrooms make Maison des Pèlerins very inviting all year round. View this rental property.

Don't put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear. Ne mettez jamais rien de plus petit que votre coude dans votre oreille. Don't miss the rest of this post...and thanks for sharing it with a friend who might enjoy learning French.

"le coton-tige"

    - cotton swab
    - cotton bud
    - Q-tip

Coton-Tige: click here to listen to Jean-Marc read the following text in French

Particulièrement polluants, les cotons-tiges en plastique seront interdits en France dès le 1er janvier 2020. Dans le cadre de la loi Biodiversité adoptée le 20 juillet, le Parlement a interdit la mise sur le marché de ces bâtonnets très utilisés en France pour l'hygiène ou le maquillage, mais entrant dans le triste classement des plus gros déchets retrouvés sur les plages et dans les milieux . --La Fin du coton-tige

Particularly polluting, plastic cotton swabs will be banned in France as of 1 January 2020. Under the Biodiversity law adopted on July 20, Parliament has banned the placing on the market of these sticks widely used in France for hygiene or makeup, but falling into the sad ranking of the biggest waste found on the beaches and in the environments. - "The End of the cotton swab"

BILINGUAL UPDATE
by Jean-Marc, winemaker, nature lover

Whether writing about falling off his bike in Marseilles or spending a day in his favorite coastal spot, Jean-Marc is always happy to contribute a story for us. Enjoy today's....

Avec les beaux jours et la chance d'habiter à proximité de la plage, j'ai redécouvert le plaisir de nager en mer. Se faisant, j'aime bien mettre la tête sous l'eau, pour admirer les fonds marins...et quelquefois "braconner" quelques oursins.
With this beautiful weather and the chance to live near the beach, I rediscovered the pleasure of swimming in the sea. So doing, I like to put my head under water, to admire the seabed ... And to sometimes "poach" a few sea urchins.

Violet sea urchin
Sea-urchins

Néanmoins, ces derniers temps, j'ai remarqué que mon oreille droite se bouchait dès que je mets la tête sous l'eau. Et le temps passant, j'avais de plus en plus de mal à la déboucher ce qui était assez désagréable. J'essayais bien d'utiliser un coton tige pour la déboucher mais cela fonctionnait de moins en moins bien.
Nevertheless, lately, I noticed that my right ear was corked as soon as I put my head under water. And as time passed, I had more and more trouble uncorking it which was very unpleasant. I tried to use a cotton swab to unclog it but it worked less and less well.

Finalement, je suis allé consulter un "ORL" (Oto-rhino-laryngologiste) qui m'a regardé l'oreille et m'a dit que j'avais probablement un bouchon. Avec un tube et un aspirateur, il a retiré sans difficultés ce bouchon et en a profité pour nettoyer mon autre oreille.
Finally, I went to consult an "ENT" (Otolaryngologist) who looked at my ear and told me that I probably had a blockage. With a tube and a vacuum cleaner, he easily removed this plug and took the opportunity to clean my other ear.

Je lui ai dit mon étonnement à voir autant de saleté dans mes oreilles, moi qui me les lavent régulièrement avec un coton tige.
I told him of my astonishment to see so much dirt in my ears, I, who wash them regularly with a cotton swab.

Il m'a alors fortement déconseillé d'utiliser cet ustensile. "C'est comme passer le balais et mettre la poussière sous le tapis" m'a dit-il. Pour se laver les oreilles, rien ne vaut un gant de toilette et du savon.
He strongly advised me not to use this utensil. "It's like sweeping dust under the carpet," he said. "To wash your ears, nothing is works better than a washcloth and soap.
"

To comment on Jean-Marc's story, find the link at the end of this post.

Jean-marc about to swim off boat
I hope you enjoyed JM's article. He is happy to return to his beloved sea, now. Remember "Don't put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear" :-) Ne mettez jamais rien de plus petit que votre coude dans votre oreille--çela dit, that said, you may gently clean your outer ear with the help of these items.

This type of pocket-shaped wash mitt, or gant, is the standard washcloth in French homes. Do you remember seeing these in France? Share in the comments and you can order a few here

SAVON de MARSEILLE soap with olive oil. Perfect for all skin types. Order here

Beach near La Madrague  vue of La Ciotat Parc du Mugel

"Beaucoup de gens jettent les cotons-tiges dans la cuvette des toilettes plutôt que dans la poubelle de la salle de bains. Et ils font en effet partie des déchets les plus présents dans les milieux aquatiques. En 2015, nous en avons ainsi retrouvé pas moins de 16 226 dans les rivières ou sur les littoraux européens. Mis bout à bout, cela équivaut à trois Tour Eiffel et demie !" -Antidia Citores, of Surfrider Foundation

A lot of people toss cotton swabs into the toilet bowl rather than in the bathroom garbage can. And this makes up a good part of the waste most often found in aquatic areas. In 2015, we found no less that 16 226 (coton swabs) in rivers or along European coastlines. Put end to end (these coton swabs) this equals three and a half Eiffel Towers! Surfrider Foundation

La Madrague beach yellow flowers
The beach at Port de La Madrague in St. Cyr-sur-Mer

Dear Kristin,Thank you so much for your amazing assistance in my French language learning. 😊 -Divya

Your "Day in a French Life" story, and your language lessons, are worth many times this amount to me. -David

Thanks for all the great stories you've shared over the years. I feel I've become a part of your family in France! -Augusta

 

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