What does the French word "micmac" mean?

The village of le Vieux Cannet, France (c) Kristin Espinasse
At play in the perched village of Le Vieux Cannet. Mom and I strolled through this town and took these pictures in 2006. Le Vieux Cannet is close Les Arcs-sur-Argens--where we lived for a time. More photos at the end of this post. 

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un micmac (mik-mak)

    : an intrigue, a scheme, or a secret practice with a guilty--or seemingly guilty--aim. 

Audio file: Listen to Jean-Marc read the French definition to today's word, micmac: Download MP3 or Wav file

un micmac: c'est une intrigue, manigance, pratique secrète dont le but est blâmable ou semble tel. (wikipedia.fr)

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 Bescherelle conjugation guideCapture plein écran 16052011 092531"This is without a doubt the definitive guide to conjugation of French verbs... an indispensible reference and not overwhelming for beginning students." Order it here.--M. Savoir (Amazon reviewer)



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

It began with the sweater I found in my husband's car. That was strange... it didn't belong to our son or daughter. Maybe Jean-Marc had bought himself a new pull-over? No, it was too small.... 

Just whose was it then? Examining the neat gray cardigan tossed over the back seat, I wondered if it belonged to a woman? But then, it could very well be a men's sweater. Forget about it.

A few days later I happened upon a veste--a black linen blazer resting casually across the cozy armchair in our living room. The veste didn't belong to us either. And this time there was no doubt it belonged to a woman. I examined the feminine tie around the waist and tried to picture the elegant wearer....

Once upon a time it would be common to find articles of clothing strewn around the house and yard, and in our cars. When we lived on the vineyard and had a lot of helping hands at harvest time, we amassed a colorful collection of objets trouvés, or found items. When they'd gone unclaimed, it was my pleasure to offer the gladrags to the next year's unsuspecting volunteers (the ones who'd shown up in their pressed polos and new socks, naively dressed for the grueling, messy chore of grape picking.)

But we left the vineyard a year ago. I gazed at the black linen veste. What flair!--such a contrast to my well-worn top, with its pit marks beneath the sleeves--hallmarks of a woman who'd let herself go? 

Vain imaginings! Vain imaginings! Just where did they lead--except to the garbage heap, where all fruitless pursuits eventually end up! I'd do better to put my colorful imagination to work in words (finally writing that memoir), rather than waste any more brain fuel on jumping to conclusions. 

Determined, I marched to the kitchen for a cup of tea when--crash!--I ran right into another misplaced object. Une casserole.....

But this isn't my sauce pan! my thoughts protested. I reached down to the ground where the little casserole had been left behind, like lover's underwear.

I grabbed the handle of the little casserole and, pulling it close, examined every nook and cranny. Well isn't it cheap! A tacky casserole at that! Flustered, I shoved it under the sink, where it settled with a clamor, beside a stack of cans for recycling.

My mind began to reel. Just where had my husband been all week? I tried to think back on his comings and goings... but my thoughts were suspended when the phone rang.

It was my mother-in-law, calling to let me know she was making progress on her moving cartons. I had offered to come and help her unpack, but she insisted she was content to go at her own pace.

"Well, let me know if you need anything--or would simply like to go for a stroll. It would be a pleasure!" I assured her.

"I'd love to go for a walk--another day. And when you come, could you please bring back my little casserole?"

"Your casserole?"

"Yes," my mother-in-law explained. "I use that one to boil eggs. Jean-Marc borrowed it last week, after I dropped the bottle of honey Cécile gave me. Wanting to salvage his sister's honey, he collected it in the pan...."

As my belle-mère spoke, I remembered back to the scene... of Jean-Marc filtering the honey in our kitchen. I was very nervous about his plan to separate the honey from the broken glass (!!), but found it so thoughtful of him to go to great lengths to rescue his sister's miel. (I did make him label the jar. If, after all my protestations--he insisted on salvaging the "broken-glass-honey", then he could be the guinea pig--not my belle-mère or the kids!) 

That's when it dawned on me--the sweater, the linen veste, the comings and goings of my husband. Mais bien sûr! Jean-Marc has spent the week helping his mom settle in, and chauffering her back and forth to our house for meals during the tumultuous time.

Almost on cue, my belle-mère continued: "and if you happen to find a black veste... I left it behind..."

"So the veste belongs to you--and the casserole too--and not some other woman!!" I chuckled, hinting at my confusion and le micmac following all the saucy discoveries this week. "Well, it wasn't a culotte, still, it was a casserole!"

My mother-in-law was a little confused, but I kept on joking until she, too, was laughing at my active imagination.

"No, it wasn't a culotte. Still it was a casserole! Une casserole!"

*    *    *

Post note: Funny how an innocent item can seem so threatening. Meantime, considering all the dents in my belle-mère's "tacky" (oh, for shame! to have said such a thing!) little sauce pan, I think it's time she enjoyed a new one. Then again, chances are she's very happy with her trusty egg pan. Best not to keep jumping to conclusions!

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French Vocab

un pull (pull-over) = sweater
une veste = jacket
un objet trouvé = found item
une casserole = sauce pan
la belle-mère = mother-in-law
le miel = honey
une culotte = underwear

Door and oleanders in Le Vieux Cannet, France (c) Kristin Espinasse
Lacey curtains and oleanders in Le Vieux Cannet.

Valley below Le Vieux Cannet (c) Kristin Espinasse
The valley below Le Vieux Cannet. 

Map of vieux cannet and surroundings (c) Kristin Espinasse
I've been calling it Le Vieux Cannet... but it's full name is Le Vieux Cannet des Maures...

Hollyhocks and dog in Le Cannet des Maures (c) Kristin Espinasse
"Coucou!" Hi there! (to the right of the hollyhocks)

Row of homes in Le Vieux Cannet des Maures (c) Kristin Espinasse
Row of village homes and the church campanile

Beneath the campanile in Le Vieux Cannet des Maures (c) Kristin Espinasse
Beneath the campanile, or bell tower

La Placette in Le Cannet Des Maures (c) Kristin Espinasse
Shutters with heart there in "La Placette" square.

Front porch in Le Vieux Cannet des Maures (c) Kristin Espinasse
Missing column and cobbled path.

Door and pot in Le Vieux Cannet des Maures (c) Kristin Espinasse
Draped in green leaves and topped with pottery... a cozy village entrance.

Spaniel and hibiscus flowers in Vieux Cannet, France (c) Kristin Espinasse

A guard dog and hibiscus flank this quiet entrance.

Les escaliers in Le Cannet des Maures (c) Kristin Espinasse
Les escaliers, or stairs leading to a private address. To comment on any of these photos, click here.

More photos on the way. If  you are reading by email check back to the blog, here, where I am uploading the rest of this collection from the quiet village of Le Vieux Cannet, near Vidauban, France.

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