il parait + video interview on French TV

winemaking Jean-Marc Espinasse (c) Kristin Espinasse
Out of the rubble a wine is born!  Jean-Marc gave more than heart and soul when he made his first wine: he gave his blood, his tears, and an alarming number of kilos. I talk about this, and more, in an interview about the organic winemaker on French TV. 

il paraît (eel-pah-ray)

    : it seems, it appears

synonyms: on dit (they say) or  le bruit court (rumor has it)

Example from today's video:

"Alors, son vin?" So how's the wine?
"Il paraît que c'est bon!" I hear it's good! (or Rumor has it it's pretty good!)

Click on the screen below to enjoy the following 


Portrait de Jean-Marc Espinasse pour l'émission... par BrokenArmsCompany
I am sorry not to have a transcript, in English, of this interview. I hope many of you can understand what is being said. I know I had a hard time... which led the interviewer to rephrase a question or two.

Jean-Marc Espinasse (c) Kristin Espinasse

The man who can passionately follow his vision--yet keep his eyes soft enough to see what lives and loves around him--his family, his friends--that is beauty.

Tango
Jean-Marc taking time out of whirlwind winemaking - to dance the tango with his mother-in-law, Jules.

Tango
Mom was so moved by his gesture that she captured the image forever. "Tango 62" Can you guess what 62 means?

You have captured all our hearts, may yours be bursting today, Jean-Marc, as you celebrate your 46th year. Joyeux Anniversaire!

Jean-Marc with the Arlesiennes (c) Kristin Espinasse
Have fun--but not too much fun!... Untangle yourself from those Arlesiennes and hurry home!

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating 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, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


Video Interview: Jean-Marc with Kristi at the vineyard in 2009

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating 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, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


Un avion de chasse: after “canon” another French word for “hottie” or “babe” + French vocabulary: prendre sa revanche, taquin, rebonjour, phare, pantoufle

Jean-Marc randonner parc mugel la ciotat
Learn a host of new French words as I poke fun at my husband in today’s billet. Don't miss the sound file, where Jean-Marc pronounces all the vocabulary in French and in English. Photo taken in the magnificent Parc du Mugel, here in La Ciotat.

Today's Word: Taquiner

    : to tease, to kid, to joke, annoy, poke fun at

What is Taquiner? 
Having fun irritating, annoying (someone) in small things and without malice.
S'amuser à irriter, à contrarier (quelqu'un) dans de petites choses et sans méchanceté.

Audio file, click to hear all the vocabulary in French and English. Then check your comprehension with the words list at the end.


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse
When our regional newspaper, La Provence, published an article about une écrivaine ciotadenne d’origine américaine, my husband had a field day teasing me. “Les gens vont te reconnaître quand tu marches dans la rue! People are going to recognize you when you walk down the street!”

Mr. Taquin could needle me all he wanted, the tables were about to turn... and I wouldn’t be the one wearing dark sunglasses...

It all began while out on a morning walk, when a complete stranger called out:
“Bonjour, Jean-Marc!”
“Who was that?” I whispered, as the man passed by.
“One of my customers, ” my husband answered, thinking nothing of it.

Ici arrive les groupies (Here come the groupies)
Next, our accidental idol was spotted at the supermarket after a woman did a double-take when we walked in. “Bonjour, Jean-Marc!” she demurred, dropping some fruit de la passion into her dainty market basket. This was only the beginning of le deluge. Ever since he opened his wine shop, Le Vin Sobre, Il ne passe pas inaperçu! He does not go unnoticed by the locals.

C’est lui la vraie vedette (He's the real celebrity)
The other night we were on our way to the flat rocks by the shore to enjoy the sunset, when a couple began waving… “Rebonjour!” Jean-Marc responded. Evidently, he’d seen them earlier. “Do you know my wife? Jean-Marc said, by way of introduction.
“Non,” they admitted. They didn’t.

Ce n’est pas grave. No hard feelings, I mean, it wasn’t as bad as the last time we were stopped. “Tu connais ma femme?” Jean-Marc said to the man with the golden retriever. Before the man could respond I nodded my head, Oui...but the other answered, “Enchanté. Nice to meet you!”

Harrumph! Talk about being invisible! Maybe it would be good to stand out after all? Speaking of stand out… WHO was that jogging past us now?

Coucou, Jean-Marc...”
“C’était qui?” I elbowed my husband, watching the avion de chasse fly by.
“Encore une cliente. Elle s'appelle Célia.”
“Célia? Mon Dieu! I’d better spend some time at our wine shop instead of remaining holed up at the house all day, in pantoufles.
As if reading my mind, our local celebrity added, “T’inquiètes pas Ma Chérie. C’est toi mon avion de chasse! Don't worry, Dear. You are my dreamboat!”

On our latest outing, Mr. Visible and I managed to make it all the way to the phare without any fans calling out his name.

“Personne ne t’a reconnu ce matin! No one recognized you this morning!” I snickered.
“C’est un miracle!” my husband laughed, adding: “But then not all of my girlfriends say bonjour when they see me walking with my wife….”

Pfft! Ah well, he could rib me all he wanted. At least HE noticed me. In nearly 20 years of blogging, I can count on two fingers how many times I’ve been stopped in public. As for my husband, C’est une star!



FRENCH VOCABULARY
le billet = post
une écrivaine ciotadenne = a writer from La Ciotat
d’origine américaine = of American origin
un taquin, une taquine = teaser (one who teases)
le déluge = the inundation
rebonjour = hello again (for the second time today)
le phare = lighthouse
taquinerie = teasing
Il ne passe pas inaperçu! = he doesn’t go unnoticed
ce n’est pas grave = no big deal
un avion de chasse = very beautiful girl or woman
la pantoufle = house slipper

...And the word "canon" (from the title of this post). Can you guess the meaning? Answer here (along with a pretty picture of my Mom).

Language/cultural note: Rather than saying bonjour to the same person twice in one day, the French will say, “rebonjour.”


REVERSE DICTIONARY
to have a field day with something = faire ses choux gras de [qch]
to needle = embêter
to turn the tables on somebody = prendre sa revanche sur
to snicker (US), snigger (UK) = ricaner
celebrity = la vedette
evidently = visiblement, il paraît que

 

Jean-Marc serre chevalier jacket
Our local star. I hope you enjoyed the humor in today's billet, or post. It was fun getting back at Jean-Marc after all his taquinerie! P.S. Here, our accidental idol is wearing a light blue jacket available at Jules Melquiond Sports, in Serre Chevalier!

Enjoy one more teasing story in the post "Six-Pack Abs", and learn my husband's tip for a chocolate bar stomach (and why the French call it that!)

Smokey golden retriever rugby shirt St. Patricks Day France
Unlike the French, Smokey dressed up and celebrated St. Patrick's Day. A few more pictures here.

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating 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, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


Le Ravin: Jean-Marc's car accident in the French Alps


Today's Word: le ravin

    : ravine, a deep or seemingly bottomless chasm...

Audio File: Click here to listen to Jean-Marc read the last sentence in his story, below.

A BILINGUAL STORY  by Jean-Marc Espinasse

(English version follows, below)

Puisque que la météo avait prévu de la neige dans les Alpes, je me suis décidé à partir tout seul ce weekend pour faire de la randonnée en profitant de cette première neige fraîche de l'année. J'avais déjà utilisé notre petit Jimny 4X4 pour venir dans les Alpes alors qu'il neigeait et j'avais pu vérifier que cette voiture avait une bonne tenue de route dans ces conditions là.

Mais ce soir, la neige était très glissante et vers minuit à presque 1 km de mon arrivée finale un petit animal a traversé la route. À vrai dire je ne sais pas si j'ai mis un coup de frein ou si j'ai mis un coup de volant pour l'éviter, ce qui est sûr c'est que la voiture est partie en travers et qu'elle est entrée dans le ravin. Vous pouvez imaginer l'effroi et l'horreur que j'ai vécu, ne sachant pas, pendant cette chute, si ce ravin était pentu, s'il était long, s'il y avait des arbres , une rivière... bref je me suis véritablement vu mourir. Cette descente infernale dans ce ravin n'a duré peut-être que deux ou trois secondes mais pour moi elle a duré une éternité.

La voiture est miraculeusement restée sur ses quatre pneus puis elle a stoppé net. Heureusement j'avais ma ceinture de sécurité et j'ai été franchement étonné de savoir que j'étais en vie, sans aucune blessures. J'ai réussi à ouvrir la portière malgré la neige je me suis rendue compte de la chance que j'ai eue puisque la voiture n'as pas fait de tonneaux dans ce ravin très pentu. Il m'a fallu 30 minutes pour grimper, à l'aide des branches de buissons, les 15 m de dénivelé enneigés et rejoindre la route où un ami était venu à mon secours.

Après une très mauvaise nuit de sommeil je me suis réveillé sans courbatures et j'ai trouve les personnes qui m'ont aidé à remonter la voiture sur la route. Il a fallu un tracteur agricole avec un treuil, un porte-char pour amener le tracteur sur le lieu le travail et enfin un camion avec plateau pour pouvoir mettre la voiture accidentée dessus et l'amener chez le garagiste. Trois officiers de police sont également venus pour couper la route pendant cette opération délicate. Après avoir attaché la voiture aux câbles, le très puissant treuil du tracteur a réussi à la remonter au bord de la route sans aucun souci. Quel a alors été mon étonnement de voir que la voiture n'était pratiquement pas accidentée et que le moteur a démarré au quart de tour.

Le soir de cet accident, il y avait un tirage du loto historiquement élevé. Je n'ai pas joué à ce jeu mais j'ai quand même eu l'impression d'avoir gagné le gros lot. Je n'ai eu aucune blessures, la voiture n'a pas eu besoin d'être réparée et j'ai finalement pu profiter de cette neige fraîche, à l'origine de mon accident mais qui a également amorti et évité le pire dans ma course folle au sein de ce ravin.

ENGLISH VERSION

Since the weather forecast had called for snow in the Alps, I decided to go alone this weekend to hike, taking advantage of this first fresh snow of the year. I had already used our little Jimny 4X4 to come to the Alps while it was snowing and I had been able to verify that this car had good handling in these conditions.

But tonight the snow was very slippery and around midnight, almost 1 km from my final arrival, a small animal crossed the road. To tell the truth, I don't know if I put on the brakes or if I used the steering wheel to avoid it, what is certain is that the car took off sideways and so entered into the abyss. You can imagine the dread and horror I experienced, not knowing, during the fall, if this ravine was steep, if it was long, if there were trees, a river ... in short I truly saw myself dying. This hellish descent into the abyss only lasted maybe two or three seconds, but for me it lasted forever.

The car miraculously stayed (upright) on its four tires and then came to a stop. Luckily I had my seat belt on and I was frankly amazed to know that I was alive with no injuries. I managed to open the door despite the snow and realized how lucky I was since the car did not roll over in this very steep ravine. It took me 30 minutes to climb out, using the branches of the bushes, the 15 m of snow-covered vertical drop, and reach the road where a friend had come to my aid.

After a very bad night's sleep, I woke up with no body aches and found some people who helped me get the car back on the road. It took an agricultural tractor with a winch (a hoist), and a tank loader, to bring the tractor to the area and finally a truck with a platform to be able to put the damaged car on it and take it to the garage. Three police officers also came to cordon off the road during this delicate operation. After having attached the car to the cables, the very powerful winch of the tractor managed to raise it to the side of the road without any problem. I was astonished to see that the car was hardly damaged and that the engine started at a quarter-turn (of the key).

On the night of this accident, there was a historically high lottery drawing. I didn't play this game but still felt like I had won the jackpot. I had no injuries, the car did not need to be repaired and I was finally able to take advantage of this fresh snow, which was the cause of my accident but which also cushioned and prevented the worst in this mad race into the abyss.

 Jean-Marc cross-country
Jean-Marc enjoying the snow.

MVIMG_20190208_073838

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating 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, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


How to say cane (or trekking pole...) + photos from French Alps

Golden retriever dog stick
Our golden retriever, Smokey, and one of his many sticks. In today's story, Jean-Marc searches for the perfect bâton along the sentier to Fontenil, high up in the Southern Alps. Read along and learn a dozen useful French terms including a funny word for perfectionist...

Today's Word: le bâton

    : stick, cane, staff
    : le bâton de ski = ski pole

Sound file: Click here to listen to Jean-Marc read the following sentence in French and in English.Un alpenstock est un long poteau en bois avec une pointe en fer, utilisé par les bergers pour voyager sur les champs de neige et les glaciers des Alpes depuis le Moyen Âge. Les alpinistes francophones appelaient cet objet un "bâton". An alpenstock is a long wooden pole with an iron spike tip, used by shepherds for travel on snowfields and glaciers in the Alps since the Middle Ages. French-speaking climbers called this item a "baton".

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Le Fignoleur (The Perfectionist)

On a hike with Jean-Marc in Le Parc National des Ecrins, I discovered my husband's rare perfectionist side. This quirky behavior began after he picked up a fallen branch and, snapping it in two, carefully fashioned a walking stick. Advancing along a trail of faded pine needles, my guide reached for another branche d'arbre, examined it thoughtfully, and tossed the one he had been using.

Tu veux que je t’en fasse un? Would you like me to make you one? Jean-Marc offered.

Non merci. I needed both hands to fall on as we advanced up the rocky ravine, even if I felt surefooted in my tightly-laced bottes de randonnée.

Kristi at Ecrins national park

C'était dommage, Jean-Marc remarked, to have missed the changing colors of the beautiful mélèze trees. The leaves on these conifers were now a dull brown, but there were other vivid scenes to enjoy: the clear blue sky and the candy red berries on the trees in the fields we'd passed earlier, where the moist earth was upturned by wild sangliers in search of bulbs. 

"I didn't know there were wild pigs in the Alps...." I said, reaching to pick up one of the bulbs the boars had left behind.

Eh oui, my Montagnard replied, wrestling with yet another found branch. His foot pinning it down, he pulled one end of the branch until it snapped in two. Voilà! As he measured it against the previous stick, until the length was to his liking, I was about to tease him for such fastidiousness. Instead, curiosity won out. I wondered, was there a specific term for this stick Jean-Marc was so obsessed with? 

"C'est un bâton," Mr. Finicky answered. Such an ordinary word compared to these synonyms I would later look up, like alpenstock or trekking pole or shillelagh! 

"A good one should come up to your chin. Comme ça," Jean-Marc demonstrated, leaning against his latest find. "High enough to balance a pair of jumelles...." Too bad he had forgotten those binoculars. On second thought, Jean-Marc was so intent on finding the perfect bâton, he couldn't focus on much else—though he didn’t miss the chamois, when it clipped past, some 200 meters below us. Regarde!!

The fawn having disappeared from view, my husband began smoothing out the “handle” of his (6th? 7th? 8th?) bâton, using the rough bark of a larch tree to saw the tip. Running his fingers over the edges, Ça y est! It looked like this would be the one!

I watched my mountain man set off now, down the canyon, over a deep bed of crunchy autumn leaves. And it made me smile to see him stomp down with his feet, and tap the ground with his bâton, rien que pour le plaisir, just for the pleasure of hearing the sounds of fall. 

 

FRENCH VOCABULARY

le bâton = stick
le sentier = path, way
le fignoleur/la fignoleuse = perfectionist
la branche d'arbre = tree branch
bottes de randonnée = hiking boots
c'est dommage = it's too bad
le mélèze = larch tree
le sanglier = wild boar
le montagnard = mountain dweller
les jumelles = binoculars
le chamois = fawn, goat-antelope
Regarde! = look!
ça y est = that’s it
rien que pour le plaisir = just for the pleasure

IMG20201121110915
I regret not getting a picture of Jean-Marc with his beloved bâtons! For the moment, our roving perfectionist is busy finishing up his chapter, dotting every i and crossing every t, in hopes you will follow along with his (and our) vineyard story.

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating 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, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


Sacoche - how to say satchel or briefcase (or "man purse") in French

St Tropez south of France scooter
A scooter in St. Tropez. Look closely at the sagging object my husband is carrying. Meet Mr. Sacks, Jean-Marc's lovable sidekick. The photos in the following story were taken over the years....

Today's Word: la sacoche (sah-kohsh)

    : handbag, saddlebag, purse, bag

from the Italian saccoccia, or "little pocket"

la sacoche en cuir = leather bag
la sacoche d'écolier = school bag
la sacoche à outils = tool bag
une soirée de sacoches (Canadian expression) = girls' night out, evening with girlfriends

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse
Ode to Mr. Sacks

I couldn't believe my ears when Jean-Marc, packing for his business trip, mentioned: "I'm not taking my sacoche with me." 

Vraiment? My husband might as well have decided to leave an appendage behind--son bras droit, for example, the one he uses to lift his wine glass. That is how vital his trusty, takes-with-him everywhere sacoche is to him.

What with increasing restrictions for carry-on and check-in, Jean-Marc's dear sidekick, Mr. Sacks, is the latest victime of airline cutbacks!

Poor Mr. Sacks! I've never felt sorry for the old bag before. Mostly, I've felt envious. Mr. Sacks is the one who goes on all the business trips with my husband. Mr. Sacks goes to all the local wine tastings while I sit at home guzzling tap water.  

 

sacoche (c) Kristin Espinasse
Mr Sacks in Paris... the one on the left. (Make no mistake, the other bags mean nothing to Jean-Marc!)

man purse (c) Kristin Espinasse
Mr. Sacks in Ventimille, Italy, watching locals play boules, or pétanque.

I do pity, Mr. Sacks, now that his saggy little body is pouting in the corner of my husband's office. This is the first time in his 12-year-old life that he's collected dust. Normally he's on the go....
Croatia (c) Kristin Espinasse
Mr. Sacks cruising the island of Cres, in Croatia. Just kidding, Jean-Marc would never put Mr. Sacks in this predicament (water). This brings me to the next point...

Regularly I am asked to hold on to Mr. Sacks while my husband sprints off to use a public restroom or when (as pictured above) he is practicing a sport. "Tu peux prendre ma sacoche?" He asks. And I always grumble, not wanting to hold the heavy "third wheel". Apart from tractor wrenches, he even keeps wine bottles (for his tastings) in there...

spitoon (c) Kristin Espinasse
Mr. Sacks (on the floor, next to the bucket spittoon)

Some refer to Mr. Sacks as a "man purse".  That always makes me snicker. Hahahahahaha! Man Bag!!! Sac Homme! I point at Mr. Sacks. But Mr. Sacks isn't laughing... 

Kristi Mr. Sacks Malta
Me, babysitting Mr. Sacks in Malta in 2017. Jean-Marc purchased the leather bag in une maroquinerie  in Draguignan, years and years ago. It was love at first sight.

the guilty look (c) Kristin Espinasse
Jean-Marc's got that guilty look on his face. He's always holding hands with Mr. Sacks instead of with me--and he knows it!  While others worry about the other woman, I have to worry about the old bag!

sacoche (c) Kristin Espinasse
Mr. Sacks is with him on bad hair days...

beach in Ste. Maxime (c) Kristin Espinasse
And on good hair days... at the beach in Sainte-Maxime.

Avalon (c) Kristin Espinasse
And especially on family days!
 

Lourdes (c) Kristin Espinasse
Visiting the healing waters at Lourdes. Can you spot Mr. Sacks?

sacoche brief case Burgundy france Kristin Espinasse
Mr. Sacks in Burgundy... with the winemakers...

fountain (c) Kristin Espinasse
But old Mr. Sacks, as you can see, is beginning to sag. I worry that items inside him will begin to fly out of his slouching pockets. I especially worry that money will fall out. For this reason, I sometimes follow close in Jean-Marc's wake as he goes about his errands. I am stumbling along behind him swatting my arms back and forth prepared to catch those banknotes that might come flying out of that sagging bag. 

vintage sacoche (c) Kristin Espinasse
Mr. Sacks is coming apart at the seams, which just goes to show even sacks have middle-age crisis.

Over the years I've tried to get Jean-Marc to consider buying a new bag. Nothin' doin'! "But it's a hazard," I argue (a financial hazard at that! Just think if money really were flying out of that bag). 

"I'm keeping my bag!" my husband always argues back.

in Italy (c) Kristin Espinasse
A couple of weeks ago Jean-Marc announced with an ear-to-ear grin: Je l'ai fait réparer, mon sac. He had brought Mr. Sacks to the leather mender's, in town. The guy did a wonderful job, Jean-Marc told me, adding that the man was nearly 90 years old. 

Any ill will or harsh feelings I may have felt regarding Mr. Sacks flew out of the picture (as those bank notes might have...). My heart smiled thinking of the wrinkled man sewing the wrinkled bag, one soul giving life back to the other, each content to be of service for as long as they were needed or wanted.



FRENCH VOCABULARY
vraiment = really
le bras = arm
droit = right
tu peux prendre ma sacoche = can you take my bag?
la maroquinerie = purse, bag, and luggage shop
le sac homme = man purse 
je l'ai fait réparer = I had it fixed
mon sac = my purse PORQUEROLLES (c) Kristin Espinasse
Oh dear. Here is Mr. Sacks on the little island of Porquerolles, with Jean-Marc and his formidable mop-spear. I hope you read about this confection--Jean-Marc was very proud of it--in the chapter "Lance".

Flower steps in Sicily (c) Kristin Espinasse
Mr. Sacks in Caltagirone, Sicily... can't you see him sniffing the pretty flowers? Voilà, for this edition. If you feel like one more story, read about the time I found a heart-stopping message inside of Mr. Sacks.

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating 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, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


fouiller

Flower steps
In case you're wondering: my husband gave me permission to write the following story! Here he is with his tattered and sagging sacoche. (side note: the bag has been on its last leg since 2004, and just keeps going and going and going!) Photo taken in 2010 in Caltagirone, Sicily. 

fouiller (foo-ee-ay)

    : to rummage through something (a pocket, a drawer)

Audio File: hear Jean-Marc pronounce the following French sentence: Download MP3 or listen to Wav file

À l'hôpital d'Orange j'ai fouillé dans la sacoche de mon mari. At the hospital in Orange, I rummaged through my husband's bag.

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

Several weeks ago, after rushing Jean-Marc to the emergency room, I was asked by the night shift nurse to provide my husband's papiers d'assurance. Zut! I was afraid the nurse would ask for those! 

They had to be in here somewhere.... I set Jean-Marc's sacoche on the counter, unbuckled the tattered leather flap and began searching for some papers—the kind my husband would have folded and stuck into his wallet... or maybe in a side pocket? After a few fruitless attempts at locating the insurance documents, I tapped on the glass divider window to alert the nurse.

"When you find them," the nurse persevered, "pass them to me here." As he spoke, he pointed to a little cutout in the glass wall, through which I could transfer the needed paperwork.

"Il n'y a pas le feu!" the infirmier assured me. No, there was no rush. An emergency room visit in France could last three hours or more! That ought to be enough time to go through the entire contents of Jean-Marc's sacoche, which was something between a briefcase and a men's purse. My husband has a mobile office inside that bag! and room for a bottle of wine or two, which he tucks inside whenever he visits his cavistes in Marseilles or Paris or Portland. Finding those papers inside Ali Baba's* bag was going to be an adventure!

Entering the salle d'attente, I noticed a handful of other accidental insomniacs. Like myself, they had found themselves here in the middle of the night because of an accident or illness of a loved one.  The gray-haired woman, seated alone, looked distraught—though the young twenty-something women with the toddler running between them seemed bored. I took a seat next to the man with the dark mustache and beard, facing the pretty young women.  I wondered whether they knew each other? To whom did the child belong? The brunette or the blond? Was the man the grandfather?

No time to play connect-the-dots, I needed to find those insurance papers! Still, I couldn't help wondering what sort of catastrophes had struck the others' loved ones? Perhaps, they were wondering the same about me?

Only a dislocated shoulder, I would assure them... if perchance they happened to ask. When they didn't, it was the least I could do to maintain a cheerful demeanor to reassure them. On second thought, perhaps I looked a little too happy as I sat there rifling through my husband's bag?

Perhaps they thought I was taking advantage of my husband's absence... to go searching through his private affairs? That's it, they think I am snooping! 

After all, no sooner had I sat down in the waiting room than I began rifling through the manly sacoche. Obviously it was not my own. They knew it was my helpless husband's! In their eyes I might be nothing more than an insecure housewife taking a cheap shot at uncovering some sort of double-life of the man who had disappeared into the emergency room!

 Just when I began to suspect—and even invent—a few more condemning thoughts coming from the others in the salle d'attente, my eyes fell on a little piece of paper inside my husband's bag. As I studied the scratchy handwriting the room around me disappeared completely. Gone were the paranoid imaginings, gone was the connect-the-dot curiosity. A bigger question began to form in my consciousness.

Just what was this? My heart thumped slowly as I pulled out the flimsy piece of paper, letting the bag fall aside. 

I read and reread the handwritten notations which appeared on a cut-out piece of paper (wallet-sized) which seemed to be part of an official document; it read:

Je soussigné (here, my husband had written in his name, in all caps)... exprime par la présente mon choix de la crémation après mon décès. Je demande que mes cendres soient (here my husband had filled in the blank line to read "...que mes cendres soient) déversées dans la Méditerranée"... to which he specified "(Marseille)."

I (here, my husband had written in his name)... presently express my choice of cremation after my death. I ask that my ashes be (here my husband had filled in the blank line to read "... that my ashes be distributed in the Mediterranean sea"... to which Jean-Marc specified "Marseilles)."

A few fearful and mysterious moments passed before I regained awareness of where we were in the grand scheme of things: we were OK—especially HE was OK (only a displaced shoulder!), and this was just some sort of carrying card—a cremation card (did we even have these in the States?), dated September 2004, a card that I had not seen before, for whatever reason. But everything was all right. Any such events were in the far future... only, some of us had thoughtfully left instructions in the event of....

 My poor dear husband, ever so responsible! Though I was surprised by the carrying card, I was not surprised by Jean-Marc's instructions. I might have guessed. I only wish I had the courage to write some instructions of my own, and to imagine as beautiful a resting place one day, far off, with him. Yes, the Mediterranean!

***

Post note: Aside from the sea, I had always imagined we'd be buried near to each other, something that may no longer be ecologically friendly or feasible? Though, I hate the thought of drifting away from my love!

Comments

Voilà -- difficult topic tackled! Is this too creepy or upsetting a subject to talk about? Would you be willing to write your burial (drifter?) instructions on a carrying-card? Have you? Do you know what your parents' wishes are? Your spouse's? Your significant other's? Are you too superstitious to talk about it?

Thanks for sharing here in the comments box.

P.S. I finally found the insurance papers! They were next to Jean-Marc's organ donor's papers from France ADOT. In addition to those, I found Jean-Marc's Carte Nationale de Donneur de Sang Bénévole

FRENCH VOCABULARY

le papier d'assurance = insurance paper

zut = darn!

la sacoche = satchel, bag

la salle d'attente = waiting room

Il n'y a pas le feu (Il n'y a pas le feu au lac !) = there's no rush! (literally "there's no fire on the lake")

un infirmier, une infirmière = nurse

un caviste = wine seller

Ali Baba (from the popular French expression une caverne d’Ali Baba, or "vast collection of things")

 

Christine cmkmax
Chris visited us a few years ago and I meant to post her photo... getting to that now! Next time we'll get a close-up!   Left to right: Jean-Marc, Chris's cousins Elizabeth, Heather, and David, Chris's hubby Fred, Kristin, Christine (that's Chris!), and daughter Laura

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating 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, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


une tribune

Pot of Flowers & Cat (c) Kristin Espinasse

Another cat picture... because we all need a bit of color and a little fur in wintertime (for those of you experiencing summer, here is a refreshing photo for you, too!) Photo taken in the town of Villedieu.

une tribune (tree bewn)

    1. platform (for speaker)

monter à la tribune = to stand up to speak

Never miss a French word or photo: receive French word updates via Yahoo, AOL, or Google

 
Audio File: listen to the following letter, read by Jean-Marc: Download MP3 or Wav file

Cher Lecteur de French Word-A-Day,

Je suis "Chief Grape" et l'heureux mari de Kristi. Elle m'a gentiment donné une tribune aujourd'hui pour vous annoncer que je serai aux Etats-Unis le mois prochain pour faire la promotion de nos vins du Domaine Rouge-Bleu. J'espère sincèrement que vous pourrez assister à l'un des nombreux évènements organisés dans les 12 villes où je vais venir. Malheureusement, Kristi ne pourra venir avec moi mais je l'emporterai dans mon coeur.

A bientôt.
 
    (Listen to this letter in French! Download MP3 or Wav file)


Dear French Word-A-Day Reader,

I am "Chief Grape" and the happy husband of Kristi. She has kindly given me a platform to announce to you that I will be in the US next month for the promotion of our Domaine Rouge-Bleu wines. I sincerely hope you will be able to attend one of the numerous events organised in the 12 cities I will visit. Unfortunately, Kristi won't be able to come with me but I will bring her with me in my heart.

See you soon.
Jean-Marc Espinasse
. 
JME


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

After a season spent indoors, hiding from the sun, I ventured back outside yesterday to toss handfuls of wildflower seeds about (thanks, Dirt Diva Doreen, for all the packets of graines!). It is a new goal of mine to spend 15 minutes each day in the garden.

Wearing a big chapeau de soleil and sunblock even on cloudy journées, I am reuniting with the plants that were abandoned when that skin cancer scare sent me scampering... out of the flower bed and into a darkened mas.

DSC_0059


I was sad to discover that this artichoke plant, which was doing so well up until a month ago (purple flowers from last summer) had been fatally bitten by le gel. Luckily, I had saved many of its seeds. I will be tossing some of those out along with the fleurs sauvages... and crossing fingers that all of the lovely flowers will return, with these handfuls of hope and scatterings of trust.

French Vocabulary

une graine = seed

le chapeau de soleil = sun hat

une journée = day

le mas = house or farm in Provence

le gel = the freeze

la fleur sauvage = wild flower

 

P1010344

Things to love about French life: "modesty curtains", or "les brise-bises". How could you not love a term that has "kisses" or "bises" in its name? Share another thing to love about French life, here in the comments box.

 

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating 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, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


rein

Chief Grape: Jean-Marc (c) Kristin Espinasse
The life of a grape farmer, where torn trousers, sopping-wet work shirts, and "too much on the mind" are part of making good wine!  Who has time for health? Read on....

le rein (rehn)

    : kidney

néphrologue (m/f) = kidney specialist
les reins = the small of the back
avoir mal aux reins = to have a backache (in lower back) 

Audio File & Example sentence by Chief Grape himself : 
Download MP3 or Wave file

Au Centre Hospitalier d'Avignon on m'a fait une biopsy du rein.
At Avignon Hospital Center, they biopsied my kidney.

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

"How to Write a Blog Story"

1. Begin with a drama: "Jean-Marc returned home Friday morning in an ambulance...." 

2. Change things up (don't keep talking about your new favorite pasttime (organic composting), try kidneys for a change): Jean-Marc returned home Friday in an ambulance. After having his kidney biopsy, he was required to stay the night at the hospital in Avignon.

3. Add a little humor to keep things light: Jean-Marc returned home Friday in an ambulance. After having his kidney biopsy, he was required to stay the night at the hospital in Avignon. Three lunatics greeted him, after the family fold fell apart in his absence. 

4. Forget not French folklore: Jean-Marc returned home Friday in an ambulance. After his kidney biopsy, he was required to stay the night at the hospital in Avignon.Three lunatics greeted him, after the family fold fell apart in his absence. "C'est la faute à la pleine lune," Jean-Marc explained, of our batty behavior.

5. Include one line in French: Jean-Marc returned home Friday in an ambulance. After his kidney biopsy, he was required to stay the night at the hospital in Avignon.Three lunatics greeted him, after the family fold fell apart in his absence. "C'est la faute à la pleine lune," Jean-Marc explained, of our batty behaviour. "Ouf, je croyais que c'était moi! Phew, I thought it was me!"

6. No use adding a bunch of extraneous details (see below), no matter how important they seemed to you at the time:  

Jean-Marc returned home Friday in an ambulance. After his kidney biopsy, he was required to stay the night at the hospital in Avignon.Three lunatics greeted him, after the family fold fell apart in his absence. 
"C'est la faute à la pleine lune," It is the full moon, Jean-Marc explained, of our batty behaviour.
"Ouf, je croyais que c'était moi! Phew! I thought it was me!"

It so happened to be the day that the dogs ran off, our son had a tumultuous teenage moment, and the farm turned into Grand Central Terminal with the non-stop comings-and-goings.

7. Sum things up and remember: it's never about you, it's about that up-n-down thing called Life, in which every one of us can relate to what is most important: love and health:

Jean-Marc returned home Friday in an ambulance. After his kidney biopsy, he was required to stay the night at the hospital in Avignon.Three lunatics greeted him, when the family fold fell apart in his absence. 
"C'est la faute à la pleine lune.  It is the full moon," Jean-Marc explained, of our batty behavior.
"Ouf, je croyais que c'était moi! Phew! I thought it was me!" So happy you are home, mon amour. We missed you and we love you.
 

***

P.S.:  I asked The Big Man Above to help me write today's post... and I had to shake my head in appreciation when He came up with this breezy "How To" style in which to relate a delicate subject (Jean-Marc's blood test gone awry).

Update: Chief Grape feels fine. He did not have any symptoms that led up to the testing; only, during a routine check-up, some of the results came back "hors norme" or "out of normal range". Les resultats will be ready in one week. 

Regarding the ambulance ride home: it was covered by our mutuelle (French insurance plan); as Jean-Marc points out: we pay a lot for it, but there are some interesting and unusual benefits!
. 

Le Coin Commentaires
To leave a comment, click here. Do you have a kidney story to share? Any healthly tips? Thank you in advance!
.

 

"Frimousse" (c) Kristin Espinasse

Archive photo (from the Frimousse or "Sweet Little Face" bilingual edition. Read it here!)

Shop at Amazon via the following links and help to support this "thrice-weekly" language journal. Click on a link, below, to enter the store; any purchase (from dog food to diapers) will count. Merci.

 

France Magazine subscription

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

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

 

Pre de Provence After Shave Balm is enriched with shea butter, grape seed oil. 

 

Meantime in the Garden...

P1010298

Sunflower seedlings! I wonder whether sunflower seeds are good for kidney health?... 

P1010298-2

This 3-day-old seedling is modeling a sunflower "hat" made of biodegradable materials for that futuristique fashion statement.

Old sunflower
A venerable sunflower who lived here two years ago... She says to the stylish seedling, "Let your hair down, little one, as I have. Notice the golden curlicue on my forehead?  Witness how a sunflower "of a certain age" has grace." What's new in your garden? Share a few of your garden "characters" with us in the comments box, here.

 

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating 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, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


Joyeux Anniversaire, Chief Grape!

Jean-Marc Espinasse
"Vintage 1967"

Joyeux Anniversaire, Chief Grape! To leave a birthday wish for Jean-Marc, click here.



 

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating 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, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


aimer

Picket fence Italy Love Well (c) Kristin Espinasse
A favorite saying... painted on a modest fence; it reads...

"Pour bien vivre, bien aimer et laisser dire."
To live well, love well and let others say what they will.

aimer (ay-may) verb

    : to love

 j'aime, tu aimes, il aime... nous aimons, vous aimez, ils aiment...

 

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

Examples of Amour

It began in the black of the night. Lying there in bed, I was not thinking about my birthday and for this I was grateful. Please, God, let me think of other things besides myself and my well-being.

I must have been thinking about China in the late 30's and the heroine of the book that I am reading. Before I fell to sleep last night, she was still stirring... freeing so many tiny feet from foot-binding.

I wriggle my toes beneath the sheets... freedom all around me! What more could I want for my anniversary? And yet...

(The alarm rings...)

"Eh ben," Well, whaddya know! Jean-Marc teases.
"Ce n'est pas possible!" It can't be.
"Qu'est-ce qui n'est pas possible?" What can't be?
"43 ans!" Forty-three years old!
"Et si et c'est bien!" Yes it can and it is good! 

And with that, my husband began to shower me with cadeaux...

There was the cup of coffee he brought me... in a mug featuring a photo of Braise and Smokey....

Cadeau no. 2 was my daughter, whom he awoke... in time for her to offer me une petite boîte of dark chocolates.

Up next... a book... by a rebel nun (I have written about her here).

The gifts continued every quarter of an hour! Cadeau no. 4: a little olive tree: the one I had feared buried beneath so many weeds. How much guilt have I felt, believing I had "choked" it in neglect (leaving it there, alone, in an abandoned garden patch). And now, a second chance! I sat there with little olive tree in my lap. I sipped my coffee, stared at my chocolates, the book, and listened to the water fill my bath.

Reste là! Jean-Marc said, disappearing into the salle de bain. "Ne regarde pas!"

When all was clear and I could come in I could hardly conceal an ear-to-ear grin. On the wall I saw the metal letters that had tumbled off a year or so ago:

"A N G E"

Whereas Jean-Marc had once used duct tape to hang the letters... this time he glued them!

I stared at the French word for "angel". I do hope to act like one this year. (As my mom always says "act as if!" (by the way, she is the one who gave me the metallic "A N G E" letters).

As for the angel in China whom I spoke of earlier (busy unbinding so many tortured feet) -- I'm not sure what she has to do with my story, except to serve as a reminder of how much there is to be grateful for... and that the key to happiness is in the giving of oneself, as Jean-Marc did so beautifully with, among other things, the little olive tree.
. 

French Vocabulary

le cadeau = present

une petite boîte = a box

reste là! = stay there!

la salle de bain = bathroom

ne regarde pas! = don't look

un ange = angel

jackie max kids
A previous birthday party (my 36th) in 2003. Jackie and Max.

Mom_velo

A favorite picture of my mom, Jules (photo taken in 2003). Looking forward to calling her today! 

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating 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, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens