"Unfit mother" in French + A Celebration

Kristi Espinasse Max
The following is a curious choice for word-of-the-day on the eve of our son's 21st birthday, but the term mère indigne popped up in today's story. I then found an old word-a-day soundfile from when Max was 11 years old. So there you have it. An almost ready-made post! Here we go:

UNE MERE INDIGNE

    : an unfit mother

ECOUTEZ: Listen to a then 11-year-old Max pronounce the example sentence for indigne:
Download Wav 

Qui ne continue pas à apprendre est indigne d'enseigner.
He who ceases to learn cannot adequately teach.
--Gaston Bachelard


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE...
"It may be broken but it tastes the same"

    by Kristi Espinasse


Dear Max,

In a matter of hours you will turn 21--and I will not make the mistake I made a few years back when I forgot to wish you Happy Birthday first thing in the morning.

(Quelle gaffe! And for the record: of course I knew it was your birthday! Especially after that first cup of coffee.)

Almost as soon as I gave birth to you in Marseilles, I learned a most dreadful French term: "mère indigne." It was used by parents in a seemingly joking sense: "Je suis une mère indigne!" French moms would say, exaggerating some oversight in the realm of nurturing (like forgetting to give their child homemade dessert, after the homemade main course). And there I was still trying to figure out how to make soup! (Water + veggies, Max. Don't sweat it.)

I won't go into the fears and regrets I had as a young mother in a foreign country before internet (where last month I learned how to make ravioli lasagna for your sister, who turns 19 in September). No! I would rather focus on my réussites, and one of my and your father's biggest successes (apart from your adorable sister) is YOU!

Now for a confession: I am still trying to figure out what to do for you on your birthday, and I thought, somehow, this open letter could be a part of that--if only to record noir sur blanc, my sincere intentions:

SO MAX, here's the agenda for MAY 17th....

1. Wish you Joyeux Anniversaire -- before the rooster crows! Before that first cuppa!

2. Take you shopping. While I believe less and less in shopping, this is one occasion where I believe in it BIG TIME ("big time," not as in "I'm gonna spend big on you!"... big time as in I won't make Mistake No. 2 again: appointing your sister as personal shopper (I was tempted to recycle last year's gift--the one Jackie picked out and charged on my card--that expensive activities "box" where you were to pick among skydiving, car racing, rafting...but I am not THAT desperate (if practical. And increasingly frugal). Besides, it came as a relief that you would not be jumping out of an airplane. Please choose the Romantic Dinner For Two for you and Mathilde. And hurry up before the coupon finally expires!!).

3. Make you your grandmother Michèle-France's gâteau chocolat! This year I'll use real birthday candles and not the ones I scrambled for in time's past (like those fondue candles--exhibit A, below--swiped from I Can't Remember Where...). And I'll try to make a more uniform cake even if, as I have always told you and your sister, "It may be broken but it tastes the same!"


Max-cropped
                         A toothless Max

4. I've elected your Dad to cook one of his specialties: magret de canard with pears in honey! (I'll make the rice to go with it!)

5. Toot-toot! I'm going to ask readers to finish today's post and then come back and read this piece about you HERE.

And then I am going to brag to our guest, Chris--friend and wine importer from Portland, about what a wonderful son you are. I'm going to tell him--make that everyone!--about the rainbow-colored flowers you brought me, yesterday, out of the blue. And about how you and your sister dragged me out of the house, last night, to watch you two play tennis. And about how you taught Jackie all your tricks. And the complicité you two share. What a gift to a parent to see her children enjoying each other's company!

My favorite moment from yesterday, Max, was hearing you call out to me, as you have since you first learned to speak: "Mom look at me! Mom watch this! Maman! Regarde-moi!" Last night I watched you run up to the tennis net and--tucking both feet beneath you as you jumped--clear it! That smile on your face. That delight. That wish, want, or need to impress me. No matter how old you are my favorite words will always be: Look Mom! Regarde-moi! Say it at 30! Shout it at 65! I will be watching you forever--delighting in all you accomplish, whether that be graduating college...or urging your sister to call for a second interview (your encouragement worked! Jackie got her first summer job at the water park!).

Happy birthday, Mr Max. You know I love you. Now don't take me to the cleaners. I'll teach you that English idom when we go shopping later! Because if there's one place you and your sister are complice--or partners in crime--it's at the mall!

Shopping
Jackie and Max in Aix-en-Provence.

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

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

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


Piquer: Guess who moved out of our house and stole away with our stuff?

Son Max apartment mirror cutting board painting
Max, working from his new îlot central. After 8 months of renovation, our son is finally settled into his new appartement.  

Visiting La Ciotat or a nearby town? Stop in and see us at Jean-Marc's wineshop. Call ahead and we'll set up a visit.

Today's Word: piquer
    : prick, bite, sting
    : to steal, nab, nick

Her Own Legacy Chateau de VerzatHer Own Legacy by Debra Borchert: A Woman Fights for Her Legacy as the French Revolution Erupts. Available in paperback or read it on Kindle


FRENCH SOUND FILE: Click the following link to hear Jean-Marc pronounce piquer +hear all of the French words in today's post. Then scroll down to the vocabulary section to check your French comprehension.

Click here for the audio file


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE...by Kristi Espinasse
Lunch Chez Max

Mom and I were driving to Max's new digs when I cautionned my passenger for the nième time to Hang on! 

But what is there to hang on to when you are seated with a cactus? We had just bought the prickly housewarming gift at la pépinière's, only to discover it was too tall to fit into the back of our jeep. That left the passenger seat....

As the tires eased over another nid-de-poule in the road, Jules shielded herself with a flimsy towel, using it as a barrier between her and the spiky cadeau which was set on the floorboard and stood level with Mom's shoulders. By the time we arrived at Max's condo complex, both driver and passenger were already worn out from the gift-buying adventure. Only now there were four flights of stairs to climb (pas d'ascenseur), to make it to Max's pad.

Introducting FLOF = "Free Lunch on Friday"...
We are so proud of Max for the way he planned and orchestrated the renovation of his appart (make that "condo" in English,  because even if apartments and condos look similar in France, in some cultures you don't buy an apartment--you rent one). Max called on friends and family for all works associated with his condo and managed this bighearted team on his own. Max and Uncle Jacques demolished walls and Jacques put in the dry wall, Aunt Cécile did the woodwork, architect friend Zoë drew up a floorplan, pal Clément installed the electricity, best friend Yann, his brother, and father put in the floortiles, Anaïs added many loving final touches and Jean-Marc and I did various errands and a lot of cooking! In the 8 months it took Max et compagnie to renovate his apartment, and while he continued to live here at home--nourri, logé, blanchi--I often hinted that it would be nice to eat chez lui one day. "We can call it FLOF! Free Lunch on Fridays!" Thus, FLOF was born and here we were, about to enjoy a meal--our first FLOF--chez Max! 

But, as guests...what to buy for someone who has everything? Let me tell you a little bit about how that happened. First, do you know the verb in French for "swipe" or "steal"? It's "piquer"! Here are some examples/funny synonyms of piquer--as well as a list of missing items from our family home:

Max a piqué le canapé... he nabbed the couch

il a piqué le gel douche... he pinched the shower gel 

il a piqué la lessive... he pilfered the laundry detergent

il a piqué le miroir... he lifted the mirror

il a piqué la table de nuit... he swiped the nightstand

il a piqué le repose-pied ... he stole the foot rest

il a piqué trois tabourets de la cave de Jean-Marc... he took three bar stools from Jean-Marc's wineshop

il a piqué la planche à découper...and he ran off with the cutting board!

(He yanked that last item right out from beneath the veggies I was about to chop! And, as usual, he offered a grinning and irresistable explanation: he's taken these items in the name of sentimentality. He grew up with a lot of this stuff--and would like it to live on chez lui. Blame it on la nostalgie!) As for the shower gel and clothes soap, his sister stole it back. (Go, Jackie!) I'd like Aunt Cécile's cutting board returned, but it does look good in Max's kitchen and who can resist that devilish grin, that twinkle in his eyes that says: it's mine now

Despite all that our son looted, I still got him an early crémaillière present. So, you might ask, what does one offer someone who steals? (Quelqu'un qui pique?)

Something piquant, of course!

And so, dear reader, we got him a cactus.

***

Chez son Max french mirror cactus basket apartment la ciotat
The cactus gives a touch of Max's southwest American roots.

421C364E-E6FF-4A74-BC60-41038901D322
While saving for a dining room table, Max is using this foldout card table (also snatched from our place...). He got the bistro chairs free, too, from our friend Fabrice, at Le Vin Sobre Marseilles, who was clearing out his own wine shop. The chess board was a gift from grand-mère Michèle-France, years ago. Max's cork bar stools (you can barely see one there at the kitchen island) are are available here. The bar stool reminds us of a champage cork and the wire cage surrounding it. 

***
Related Stories from the Blog Archives:
Mortgage is a Creepy Word... (Max looks to buy an appartement
Nid-de-Poule - insight into one of our vocab words via a story Max wrote when he was in high school
Cécile's work - a story about my belle-soeur

FRENCH VOCABULARY
un îlot central (de cuisine) = kitchen island
un appartement = condo
piquer = pinch, nab, nick, steal
nième = umpteenth
la pépinière = the garden center, nursery
le nid-de-poule = pothhole
le cadeau = present
nourri, logé, blanchi = "fed, housed, laundered", the term is often used in a humorous, sarcastic sense
Max a piqué le canapé = he nabbed the couch
il a piqué le gel douche = he pinched the shower gel
il a piqué la lessive = he pilftered the laundry detergent
il a piqué le miroir = he lifted the mirrorµ
il a piqué la table de nuit = he swiped the nightstand
il a piqué le repose-pied = he stole the foot rest
il a piqué trois tabourets de la cave de Jean-Marc = he took three bar stools from Jean-Marc's wineshop
il a piquer la planche à découper...and he took off with the cutting board
la crémaillère = housewarming party
piquant(e) = prickly

Max Jules tv Queen Elizabeth death
Max and his grand-mère, Jules

Max and Jules
Feathers and clouds... 

Jean-marc pasta chez max mirrir
Jean-Marc enjoying Max's pasta. Max also made a delicious green salad and served Magnum ice cream chocolate pops for dessert.

Kristi and son Max

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

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

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


Slang in French for "to have a bite to eat" & La Loco (a delicious Italian restaurant in Cassis)

L'ardoise French menu at La Loco italian restaurant in Cassis France
A sympathique place to eat in Cassis. That's Max's pal, Antoine, and a couple of furry customers trying to get into "La Loco"--an Italian Restaurant facing the train station 1.9 miles above the Cassidian Port.

FRENCH EXPRESSION
: “casser la dalle”

    : to have a bite to eat (slang)

SOUND FILE: Click the link to hear Jean-Marc pronounce the French words in today's post. Then scroll down to the vocabulary section to check your French comprehension.

Click here to access the sound file



A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

"Casser La Dalle à Cassis"

"J'adore cette route!" my son, Max says as we zoom up and down the backroads of Cassis in our electric, blue bagnole. On our right a tiny vineyard cradled in a slope, looking left, a chalky white cottage perched above the road.

Windows down, inhaling a pine-scented breeze, it’s refreshing to break free from restrictive planning (moments ago I had been trying to figure out how to divide yesterday's salmon miettes with my son who unexpectedly returned home for lunch. And now here we were, immersed in the Cassidian countryside, after Max suggested we eat out.

A call rang in via the car's bluetooth connection and with it a stream of argot tickled my ears as I listened to Max and Yann's conversation (selected phrases follow):

"Ça va, Gâtée?" How’s it going, Bro*? (Max responding to his close friend).
Je suis avec ma mère, on va casser la dalle à Cassis.” I'm with my mom, we're going to get a bite to eat in Cassis.
T’es toujours à ton taf?” Are you still at work?
"Oui, on vote cet aprèm. Tu vas voter blanc?" Yes, we're voting this afternoon. Are you turning in a blank ballot?

Gâtée, casser la dalle, taf...I burned that slang into my memory as we fired up the hill and the train station came into view. And there, tucked into the south side of the street behind the hedges, was the eatery. “It's called ‘La Loco’,” Max explained, “after ‘locomotive’." Well, choo! choo! that made sense. Less clear was why the name of the restaurant was nowhere to be seen. Hmm. A secret-private insider address?

To be sure, La Loco had a lot of locals. Not a foreign accent to be heard and at least three of the diners had a dog.
"Salut Zoé! Salut Antoine!" We kissed Max's friends, working there, and met "Francesco" (François) the owner and chef, before settling at a table beneath un arbre on the sunny terrace. The plane tree's leaves were just coming out, but the thick trunk and branches were enough to shade us from the midday soleil.

A solo diner arrived. Antoine showed Mademoiselle to the table behind us. "You can sit by Jean-Luc. Il est beau, n'est-ce pas?" A middle-aged Jean-Luc flashed a toothy smile before returning to nurse his beer, and the young woman with the green nail polish, Doc Martins, tattoos on her neck, graciously accepted the seat, which meant the two strangers would dine face to face after the awkward introduction. I was already feeling anxious for them when, in reality the two characters managed just fine, without my own awkward projections and assumptions. Oh, to feel that free! I need to get out more. 

"Salut!" Max shouted to a friend who walked in. We now chatted with Luca, who'd just finished "son taf." Taf! That’s the third time in one week this unfamiliar word came up. I wonder how many other words fly in and out of my ears, never to be registered. 

We paused to study the ardoise as Antoine went over the menu. Max recommended the Macaronnade: giant rings of pasta with meatballs made with fennel seeds, and Antoine suggested we share les blettes anchoïade —a swiss chard-anchovy-mozzarrela entree. What sounded un peu dégeu turned out to be délicieux. Max and I took turns soaking up the anchovy sauce, with some crispy baguette, until the plate was dry.

In the interlude between le plat and le dessert (a delicious tarte tatin) we soaked in more rays.“What do you call someone with no body and no nose?” My son challenged.
“Um, uh...I give up.”
Nobody knows!”

With that Max cracked up as only a francophone who understood English could (later, when I shared the corny joke with Grandma Jules, who got a kick out of it too. And you?)

Luca (not to be confused with toothy Jean-Luc) reappeared and we realized he'd been missing a while. "La plonge? Did they have you doing dishes," Max guessed.
"Every time," Luca laughed, raising his beer, before heading to Jean-Luc's table to pour some into his cup. 

This time Max disappeared behind the bar, returning with two grand crèmes. “I made a heart for you,” he said, pointing to the design in my coffee. Appetite satisfied, my cup full, the sun stretching its rays down on us, we were a long way from those cold, indivisible leftovers in our frigo. In two hours my world went from calculated and reduced...to expanded like the open heart floating in my cup.

Just when it seemed things couldn't get any better, I reached into my purse to pay. “Ça y est. C'est fait. It’s all taken care of,” my son smiled, having treated me to lunch.

  ***  

IMG_0718
Anoine, Max, and Jean-Luc (who also disappeared from his table...to lend a hand drying glasses). 

I hope you enjoyed today's tasty entry. Be sure to eat at La Loco if ever you are in Cassis. You won't have to fight for parking (as you do by the port) and you'll surely find good company in which to casser la dalle. Be ready to help with the dishes :-)

Address: La Loco, 29 Av. des Albizzi, Cassis (right across from the Cassis train station)




FRENCH VOCABULARY
casser la dalle = to have a bite eat
une route = road
une bagnole = slang for “car”
une miette = crumbs, scraps, leftovers
l'argot = slang
*ma gâtée = term of endearment, "bro", "dear" (not easy to translate...) This expression is now back in vogue after a certain rapper popularized it. 
un taf = job, work(slang)
l’aprèm = short for l’après-midi, afternoon
le vote blanc = blank vote, blank ballot paper
un arbre = tree
le soleil = sun
un casque = helmet 
salut = hi
l'ardoise = blackboard, menu
la blette = Swiss chard 
un peu dégeu (déguelasse) = a little disgusting 
la tarte tatin = upside down apple pie 
la plonge = wash dishes
un grand crème (un café crème) = coffee with milk
le frigo = fridge
Ça y est. C’est fait = it’s been taken care of

D4145DDB-075C-44EF-BA67-D8BAEE4B4AA9Max, bringing the café crème he made for me 

IMG_0719 (1)
Seated beside the beautiful plane tree. Max posted this photo on his Instagram, which explains the "Mom" and heart emoji on the tree.

Do you have time for one more story? "Cuellir", written in Les Arcs-sur-Argens when Max was  10-years-old, is a small window into our family life at that time. Though it paints the story of an organized, harmonious "team", we are most often trying to find that elusive balance et c'est la vie.

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

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

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


Update on Max + Mortgage is a creepy word! Use this French expression instead! + bien immobilier, hypothéque, piaule, licitation judiciaire

Old port de plaisance marina in la ciotat france
The colorful port de plaisance in La Ciotat. Apartment sales in our town are exploding at the moment.

THE FRENCH WORD FOR MORTGAGE?
Did you ever stop to think about the word "mortgage"? The first four letters are a clue-in: "mort" in French means death and gage = pledge. Mortgage = death pledge. If the term is too creepy for you, then use one of these when in France:

- un emprunt immobilier = real estate loan
- un prêt immobilier = real estate loan
-un prêt hypothécaire and une hypothéque (when you mortgage part of your home for cash)

AUDIO/SOUND FILE in French and English
Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce all of the French words in today's story (see French Vocabulary section, below)

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

From our kitchen where I am quietly making lunch, I enjoy seeing our son work at the dining table. His laptop is open and he is on the phone with clients. Depending on which language he is speaking—French, English, or Spanish—I can guess which country he is calling. (I know I'm bragging. I am so proud of him!)

Though Max lives in Aix-en-Provence, he sometimes works here in La Ciotat on Fridays. Having gone into the wine business after graduating from Montpellier Business School, he’s making waves like his father in the wine world (whoops! I’ve gotten the “waves” idiom all wrong! But we’re sticking with it as the next sentence depends on it...). Speaking of les vagues, they’re one of the reasons Max is here on weekends: after work, he grabs his kitesurf and off he flies, to the nearest plage (he loves Almanarre beach on the Presqu'île de Giens, near Hyères).

Un Chez-Soi (A Place of One’s Own)
No surfing today though. Max needs to figure out where he will live after his lease expires in June. He’d like to buy a place instead of spending part of his paycheck on rent, and after meeting with a loan officer he is aware of his limited budget. So today, we are visiting an apartment in le centre ville de La Ciotat…. Only, by the end of the tour I’ll have a few tips for Max!

The split-level apartment is deep in the old town, along une rue piétonne. He’ll have to park a ways away if he moves here. Before we ring the sonnette, Max points to the end of the street where we see the sparkling sea and even the boats on the old port de plaisance. “Ah, and there’s the Irish Pub!” he smiles.

Pas d’ascenseur (No elevator)
We meet the owner at the giant wooden door leading into le bien immobilier. After climbing three flights of stairs, we arrive at a narrow landing on le deuxième étage and enter into the duplex. The stairs immediately to our left lead up to a small loft. Straight ahead, the main room/living area has a kitchenette along one wall. At the end of the counter, there’s the entrance to the tiny bathroom, opposite the fridge. Everything is nickel--super clean and tidy--which helps us to see big in a small space. The window on the facing wall looks onto the building across the street, right into the neighbor’s place.

Astuce no 1: Don’t let the owner know you don’t like his taste
“I’d change the paint right away,” Max admits as we head up the narrow escaliers to the loft. “This blue reminds me of my bedroom when I was a kid.” (Such a comment might’ve been ok were he talking to the agent immobilier, and not the propriétaire who politely showed us around his bachelors pad.)

Astuce no. 2: Don’t tell the owner how much you like the place!
Apart from his distaste for the paint, and his concern for the uneven walls, Max was full of compliments, perhaps too many.

“There’s lots of storage space! I can put my kiteboard here in this placard… and my valises in that one… Everything looks good, I won’t have to renovate (apart from the paint)...No extra expenses there...”

Up in the loft, we have to duck down in order to reach the bed (a mattress on the floor). Max pushes open the skylight and we stick our heads out and look across the rooftops all the way to the port……

Astuce no. 3: Don’t get the owner’s hopes up!
“I like it. I’ll call you next week with an offer,” Max says, as we wave goodbye to the owner. I have my doubts but keep quiet pour l’instant...

Back at home, the family weighed in with their wisdom. “Max,” I said, “with the current pandemic, you might want to find a place with a terrace or balcony, so you won’t be cooped up inside...”

Next, Grandma Jules piped up. “Buy a piece of land in the hills beyond! And get out of the city!”
“Where’s he going to sleep?” Jean-Marc laughed.
“He can get a tent!” Grandma insisted.
“Or maybe a van?” I wondered, having seen several surfer vans (with built-in kitchens/beds) in our beach town.
“I’ll put a van on the property too!” Grandma cheered.

...And don’t get Jean-Marc started, he’s been wanting a VW camper for some time!

Astuce no. 4: Don’t listen to everybody!
Meantime, with everyone now dreaming of the wide-open road, I’m reminded of one final tip or astuce: Don’t listen to too much advice when shopping for your first pad, or you might end up sleeping in a car, with the whole nutty family--avec tout ta famille de barjots!

 

FRENCH VOCABULARY

Listen to the following list of French terms
un emprunt immobilier = real estate loan
une hypothèque = mortgage, loan agreement
les vagues = waves
la plage = beach
une presqu'île = peninsula
un chez-soi = a place of one’s own
le centre ville = town center
la rue piétonne = pedestrian street
la sonnette = doorbell, buzzer
port de plaisance = marina
un ascenseur = elevator
le bien immobilier = the property
le deuxième étage = third floor (in French)
nickel = spotless
une astuce = tip, trick
le placard =closet
la valise = suitcase


REVERSE DICTIONARY
to brag = se vanter
bragging = vantardise
bachelor pad = garçonnière
un bail = lease (apartment, house…)
loan officer = responsable des prêts
duck down = se baisser
pad = appart, piaule
legal auction of property = licitation - vente judiciaire 

Estate sale
Max has (by now) visited 5 apartments (he found them via ads on sites like pap.fr and leboncoin.fr. Another way to find a place (apart from visiting the local real estate office) is via bank repossessions, estate sales, or "licitations". Here is a sign that appeared a few years ago on a derelict home (not far from the beach!) in La Ciotat. (The end price was two times the price listed on the sign.)   
Max pot de depart
Max and friends in 2017, before our son left for an exchange program in Mexico. (Max is the one under the sombrero)

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

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

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


The French verb "lancer" + A lost phone and a found skill: Max's foray into juggling

Max juggling tassels
Learn and listen to this sentence in French, below: Juggling is an exercise of skill that consists in its strictest sense of throwing, catching and relaunching objects in the air. It can be a game, a sport, an art or a religious rite.

Today's Word: lancer

    : to throw, toss, launch 

Click here to listen to the following sentence in French

La jonglerie est un exercice d'adresse qui consiste dans son sens le plus strict à lancer, rattraper et relancer de manière continue des objets en l’air. Elle peut être un jeu, un sport, un art ou encore un rite religieux. --Wikipedia.fr
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
by Kristi Espinasse

The other night I was treated to an impromptu juggling performance, after our son returned from Montpellier. Max is home for 3 weeks for his internship at Domaine de la Mongestine, and will return to the university every month to complete his final year of business school. Having found a short-term rental to share with his pals, Cameron and Souhail (also completing une année en alternance) the classmates are getting used to homework again after a year away from classes. And in their downtime, they have found a few ways to décompresser, or chill out (besides les boîtes de nuits!)...
 
Watching Max jongler was impressive. "Bravo! When did you learn to do that?"
 
"After mon portable went missing. Ten days without a phone...on s'ennuie!  Voilà -- I learned something new!"

Nodding my head in appreciation, I studied the juggler's equipment: All you needed were three small balls and you were in business! You could carry them in your backpack, and always have a form of entertainment handy--or a way to earn some cash for a starving student!

Screenshot_20191004-095102

"Hey, by the way, where did you get those pompoms?" 
 
"They fell off the Souhail's pillow..." (aha! I guess Souhail ended up on the couch). "...so Cameron collected the pompons and began juggling. That's how I learned...by watching Cameron's technique!" 
 
"That is so cool, Max! But are you sure you all didn't help that pillow to lose a few more tassels?"
 
"Haha. We came up with a second use, too... Each night after dinner, we each tossed a pompon. Whoever made a basket did not have to do dishes!"

Gosh, now I really wanted my own set of these ever-amusing and useful pompons. I don't think any of our pillows have tassels on them, so the first trick will be to look at all the objects in our house... with fresh eyes!  Maybe some wine corks would work? We've got plenty of those!

     *    *    * 
I'll take this opportunity to remind you that Jean-Marc has opened his wine shop here in La Ciotat. It is so easy to access. Simply exit the freeway in La Ciotat, take the first right and you're there--at Le Vin Sobre wineshop If Max is in, he'll share his pompons with you. There is also a puzzle you can help finish and next time I stop in I am dropping off a guitar. And there are books! This should make the shop even cozier, so stop in and enjoy a glass of wine.

Jean-marc reading words in a french life
Jean-Marc, pretending to read Words in a French Life , in stock now! :-)

Jackie Jean Marc Max Kristi at Vin Sobre Wine shop La Ciotat
Are you on Instagram? More photos from day-to-day life, follow me here

FRENCH VOCABULARY
une boîte de nuit = nightclub
en alternance = work/study training program  
décompresser = relax, chill out
une boîte de nuit = nightclub, club
on s'ennuie = one gets bored
jongler = to juggle
un portable = cell phone, mobile phone
un pompon = pompom, tassel
 
 
In this contemporary version from Paulist Productions, Barnaby ekes out a bare existence juggling in the street for coins. He is broken-hearted over the death of his wife and best friend. Barnaby drifts aimlessly until he stays in a small community where he is treated kindly. As Christmas approaches, all are making special gifts for the Lord. Click here to view The Juggler of Notre Dame

petanque boules game in France
Another ball game Max (second on left) loves: pétanque. Photo taken at our former vineyard, Mas des Brun. That's Jackie on the right. Wish her luck, she passes her bartending exam in Miami next week!

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

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

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


Dazed in Reims: A boxing incident lands Max in ER

boxing ring in Reims France
The following sentence is from the French translation, just below. "Knockout (KO) is the term, in combat sports, for the action of putting out a fighter as a result of a blow carried by his adversary and making him temporarily lose his abilities (the person is called "stunned")."(photo, by Max, of his boxing ring in Reims) 

Today's word : sonné(e) 

  : stunned, dazed

Example Sentence by Wikipedia:

Le knockout (KO, de l'anglais to knock out, « faire sortir en frappant ») est le terme signifiant, dans les sports de combat, la mise hors de combat d'un combattant à la suite d'un coup porté par son adversaire et lui faisant perdre temporairement ses capacités (la personne est dite « sonnée »).

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE 

  by Kristi Espinasse 

When I was still in Denver, last week, and scrolling through Instagram, I noticed photo of my 23-year-old son. It was a picture of Max, from the knee down, on a hospital gurney. 

My first thought was, remain calm. If he's taken the photo himself then he's just fine! My second thought was, "just fine" can be a temporary state! 

Studying the social media photo I noticed an Instagram stamp identifying the name of the hospital in Reims, the town in which Max is completing an internship for Lanson. (Had he had another accident on the way to work? Jumping a guardrail, that first month, landed him at the ER for stitches.). A Google search, this time, put me one push-of-the-button closer to my son, as I hit the direct-connect number on the screen of my telephone.

It was the middle of the night in the Champagne region of France when the switchboard operator answered. "Je vais vous connecter avec les urgences," she said casually. 

Les urgences ?! My daughter, Jackie, who was with me in Denver, hurried over to the phone just as I was connected with the ER nurse, whose French was surreal to me... 

She was saying something about a box. What did a box have to do with my son being unable to talk to me on the phone? 

"Attendez," I said, you can talk to my daughter.. elle parle mieux le français."

A moment later, Jackie hung up the phone in time to assure me that Max was OK, that they were just going to keep an eye on him overnight, as well as do a brain scan.... 

By the time Jackie hung up the phone, I realized I'd missed my chance to talk to my firstborn. The nurse had said her patient was a little confused, and so had not offered me the possibility to communicate with him. Still, Max could have listened to my voice--which would have been a source of comfort and reassurance. It might have even snapped him out of this stupor! 

How good it felt to hear his voice, the next day, when newly discharged from ER he was able to tell us exactly what happened. I leave you now with Max's account, in French and in English, following a newspaper clipping about Max's great-grandfather AL Young, lightweight boxer and champion from Ogden, Utah... and hero to his French great-grandson, arrière-petit-fils, who he would never have the joy to meet. 

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Max writes:

À la fin de mon entraînement de boxe, nous finissions la scéance avec un combat “light”. À la fin du round, Billal (19 ans) et moi, avons décidés de continuer à boxer au lieu de nous reposer, nous étions donc le centre d’attention des autres boxeurs.

À ce moment là, j’ai baissé ma garde et il en a profité pour me mettre un high kick jambe avant sur la mâchoire.

Je tombe par terre et mes potes me relèvent immédiatement.

À partir de ce moment là je n’ai fait que répéter les mêmes choses. “Qui m’a mis K.O?”, “où est-ce que j’habite”...

Et là, ils se sont rendu compte que quelque chose n’allais pas.

Dans la foulée, ils ont décidés de m’emmener aux urgences de Reims où j’ai été pris en charge immédiatement.

Durant ce prochain mois, je ne vais pas faire de confrontations afin de ne pas prendre de coups à la tête, je me concentrerais uniquement sur mon cardio en faisant de la course à pied et en travaillant mes techniques sur un sac de frappe.

Et quant au scanner, tout vas bien ! 

PS: je ne me souviens pas de ces événements, c’est mon coach qui me les a racontés.

ENGLISH TRANSLATION 

At the end of boxing practice, we ended the session with a "light" fight. At the end of the round, Billal (19) and I decided to continue boxing instead of resting, therefore we were the center of attention of the other boxers.

At that moment, I lowered my guard and he took the opportunity to put a high leg kick on my front jaw.

I fell to the ground and my buddies got me back up immediately.

From that moment on, I kept repeating the same things: "Who knocked me out?", "Where do I live?" ...

And there, they realized that something was wrong.

In the confusion, they decided to take me to the emergency room in Reims where I was taken care of immediately.

This next month, I will not do any contact sports in order not to get hit in the head. I will focus only on cardio training by running and practicing my technique on a punch bag.

And as for the scanner, everything is fine!

PS: I do not remember these events, it was my coach who told them to me.

(picture  below, taken 7 years ago, when Max was starting out boxing.)

DSC_0304
Boxing practice when we lived at the vineyard in Ste. Cécile-les-Vignes

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

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

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


Deballer: Max unpacks after his exchange program in Mexico

Kristi Max Jackie Jean-Marc Espinasse family
Together again. A nouveau réunis. If you are new to this blog, you might enjoy the story of our Franco-American family, beginning when the kids were very young. Click here to order the book.

Chaque jour apporte ses cadeaux. Il ne vous reste qu'à les déballer.
Each day comes bearing its own gifts. Untie the ribbons. Ann Ruth Schabacker

Click here to listen to the example sentence

Today's Word: déballer

    : to unpack
    : to untie
    : to reveal

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristi Espinasse

It's been over a week since our 23-year-old returned from his 10-month exchange program in Léon, Mexico. Jean-Marc and I picked up Max from the Marseilles airport...with a surprise in tow: Max's best friend, Antony, was there to meet us at la sortie. (The totally unexpected encounter garnered Antony three times the hug I'd gotten, but who's counting câlins? After a week of catching up with all his vieux pots, I got my son all to myself last night. 

Hot chocolate whipped cream IKEA couches

In our PJs, robes, and other cozy add-ons--pillows, hot-chocolate, blankets and a portable phone (what jeune homme can live without one?) we lounged on just-assembled IKEA couches in our newly-remodeled living room. Jean-Marc and I had planned the entire renovation around our son's return--the work had to be done by May 15th--or no deal!) And here we were now, enjoying an evening I had imagined many times over: just hanging out, watching a good movie.

Peaky Blinders

We were actually enjoying one of Max's favorite T.V. dramas, called Peaky Blinders. He had already seen all the episodes, in Mexico, but he missed a lot of details, owing to the thick accents (Birmingham? Irish?--I don't know, I've only begun watching and I'm hooked, just as Max was!).

Max tells me the series is well into its quatrième saison. That's good news for this Mama, as there'll be dozens more opportunities to chill with my firstborn. And that's the biggest câlin I can think of.

Kristi and Max
Picture of me and Max, from the post "Unfit Mother" (Une Mère Indigne. Read it here)

FRENCH VOCABULARY
la sortie = the exit
jeune homme = young man
un vieux pot = an old pal
une quatrième saison = a 4th season
le câlin = hug

Family picnic
Max, left, and me, in hat, at our family picnic here at home in La Ciotat. I leave you with a picture of our new kitchen and living room!

OM match
The night after Max arrived, he and his friends--and a few of Jean-Marc's--gathered to watch the Europe League soccer finals, which, by the looks on their faces (apart from Max's) got off to a bad start for Marseilles!
Kitchen and living room

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

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

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


Un Pot de Départ for Max & July Vocabulary Roundup

Pot-de-depart-max
Our 22-year-old, Max, had a wonderful send-off party at the beach in Les Lecques (that's him centered beneath the sombrero). His closest friends gathered to wish him well in Mexico, where he will be on an exchange program through May 14th, 2018.

un pot de départ

    : farewell drink

Bonne lecture - Happy Reading!
If you missed a post this month, no worries you can rattraper, or catch up! Here's a list of all the missives that went out.

Click here to listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's word--and all of the vocabulary below. Sit back and relax (you don't have to keep up with the recording. Come back and listen a second time.

Les Transats: Something You Can Rent on French Beaches

le transat = lounge chair
boules = pétanque or bocce ball
la peau = skin
avoir le cul entre deux chaises = to have the butt between two chairs
le parasol = beach umbrella
à plus = bye for now
le maillot = soccer jersey
derrière chaque grand homme, il y a une femme
behind every great man, there is a woman

French Sloppy Joe's: One of Many ways to use up a delicious batch of Caponata!

au pif = by guesswork

Décontracté at Château de Pibarnon

la murette = little wall
fleur de sel = "flower of salt", highest quality sea salt
anchoïade (m) = anchovy dip for vegetables
la daurade = sea bream
la récompense = reward

Lance: My Husband's Creative & Quirky Side

comme d'habitude = as usual
beurk! = ew, yuck!
la garrigue (f) = Mediterranean scrubland
la navette = shuttle (ferry boat)
une lance = spear
un oursin = a sea urchin
un outil = a tool
le superflu = excess

Boire La Tasse: Short story by the sea, funny French sayings

boire la tasse = to swallow a lot of water (unexpectedly)
le secouement = shaking off
le râteau = rake
faire son truc = to do his thing
pas un chat = nobody in sight
simple comme bonjour = a piece of cake
la crotte = droppings, dog mess

Best City in Which to Live...La Bonne Réponse

la bonne réponse = good answer
le refuge = mountain shelter
la cigale = cicada
là où sont mes amis = there where my friends are
le maçon = builder, construction worker
tant qu'il y a l'amitié = as long as there is friendship

Eplucher, Friendship, and Bernard's Courgette Carpaccio

fastoche = easy
désolé(e) = sorry
Tu vas voir = you'll see
très facile = so easy
econome = vegetable peeler
nouer les liens = to bond, to strengthen ties
tendre to main = hold out one's hand
amitié = friendship
au pif = by guesswork

Des Clopinettes: Old Slang Used by a New Generation

un oursin = sea urchin
les boules = game in which players throw steel balls toward a "cochon" or smaller ball.
la pétanque = another word for boules
un pas = step
il y a des enfants = there are kids here
une clope = cigarette
des clopinettes = peanuts (little or nothing)

chalkboard bottlebrush plant and scarecrow in Ramatuelle

somewhere in France (c) Kristi Espinasse

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

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

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


Fried Eggs in French, a Maman Poule, and a visit from Max

Quail-egg
The French eat quail eggs (les oeufs de caille)... but do they eat fried eggs? Read on...

TODAY'S WORD: un oeuf au plat

    : a fried egg, egg "sunny side up"


ECOUTEZ - Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's French word:

Download MP3 for "Oeuf-au-plat"

Un œuf au plat, œuf sur le plat, œuf à la poêle ou œuf miroir est un œuf... cuit à la poêle ou sur une plaque préalablement chauffée. Lorsque l'œuf est cassé dans le récipient, son contenu s'étale et le blanc forme une couronne autour du jaune. (Wikipedia)

A fried egg, or egg on the flat or egg in the pan or mirror egg is an egg...cooked on a preheated surface. When the egg is broken into the recipient, its contents spread and the white forms a crown around the yellow.

Improve your spoken French. Try Pronounce it Perfectly in French or  Exercises in French Phonetics


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

"Maman Poule"

    by Kristi Espinasse

Max came home for the weekend! Now that he goes to college in Montpellier, a good two-hours from here, we see him beaucoup moins souvent.  So these visits are something to savor--like fried eggs, apparently!

"I have never had these before. C'est très bon!" Max's friend said, as the local boys caught up with each other over brunch. Just last week, Jean-Marc made a similar comment about fried eggs, leading me to believe that les oeufs au plat are not part of French culture. 

It is a particular pleasure to share my American culture with French youth (I was going to say "kids" but I am coming to grips with this empty nest). That they respond so enthusiastically motivates me to share even more... and so I skipped back to the kitchen and fried up a couple more brown-shelled eggs "sunny side up" for these growing youths (they are still growing aren't they? Gosh. Our son is now 21 and a half...)

Turning back to the kitchen a few unexpected words reached me before I even reached the stove. "Merci, Maman Poule!" Max said.

It wasn't true. I wasn't really a mother hen. By offering lunch I had une arrière-pensée, an ulterior motive: to keep Max with me a little while longer. (The boys had been on their way out the door, probably to catch up with each other over burgers at MacDo).

As Max and his friend Yann carried on, chatting in French while eating American-style brunch, I basked in the term of endearment my grown son had lavished on me. "After this, I have cake!" I shouted from the kitchen. "Save room for le gâteau!" I stepped back from the crackling eggs in time to listen for the audible anticipation coming from the next room. This mother hen felt higher and higher, a chick with un-clipped wings!

Returning to the table with seconds straight from the frying pan, I eventually sat down with my coffee to enjoy few moments with the Max and Yann, careful not to be the mom who lingers too long. Five minutes later I casually stood up:

"When you're done just leave the dishes, I will do them!" I said, flexing my un-clipped mother hen wings.

Later on, after the boys had left, I strayed back to the dining room to clean up the mess. To my surprise the table was cleared, but for the dusty game of chess I keep there these days. I continued into the kitchen and found a nearly polished sink. Even the difficult-to-wash frying pan was drying on the rack. Spotless!

I slowly looked around my tidy kitchen when my entire mama poule persona began to smile. He is indeed all grown up now and I am so very proud of him.



IMG_0876

Oeuf-au-plat
Picture take a few years ago, with Max. Not sure what I've made there (Max looks uncertain, too...) but those are definitely oeufs au plat on top!

RECIPE
In today's story I talk about a cake I made. It was a Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake! Using the French yogurt cake recipe, as base, I added a cup of pureed butternut pumpkin, and enough chocolate chip and walnuts to satisfy a chocolate-nutty craving! Click here for the cake recipe.

P1020308
This picture is even older, and includes Jackie. And there's a picture of the yogurt cake (one version). More versions here

PARIS METRO CUFF - Unique bracelet and great gift for those who love Paris. Click here.

FOUTAS - perfect gift : quick dry towels for camping, sauna, gym--and more! Click here to order.


FRENCH GROCERIES FROM FRANCE - from Dijon mustard to Provence herbs. CLICK HERE

Carpe-diem
I leave you with a current photo of Max (and Smokey) and a good message, above their heads.

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

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

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


ceder le passage

Bull dog by the sea (c) Kristin Espinasse
Name this photo! Click here to add a picture title or a thought bubble. (Photo taken near St Cyr-sur-Mer).

céder le passage à quelqu’un

: to yield (when driving)

A Day in a French Life… by Kristin Espinasse

I woke up this morning with the nagging doubt that the kids might not make it to school today—worse, that we might be stranded on the side of the road, our thumbs awkwardly stuck out as we begged an early morning ride.

I should have filled the tank yesterday! And now, our car was almost out of gas. The nearest station is in Camaret, but that would mean backtracking. I could drive to Tulette, but was the pump open this early?

Just as I began calculating the distance from Sainte Cecile to Pierrelatte, Max offered  a solution. “There’s one near my collège. I’ll drive us there.”

Well, why not ? He has completed his cours de conduite, and the drive would count towards the 1000 hours kilometers of road time he would need to accumulate in order to get his license (but not before the age of 18).

Max, Jackie, and I buckle up and are soon on our way to Bollène, driving past fields of grapevines and little yawning villages, window shutters opening as we speed by. The morning sun feels good on our faces and the drive is relaxing, after all. As passenger, I feel pretty secure driving with our 17-year-old, who has completed an excellent driver’s training and knows the rules of the road by heart. He is probably a better driver than I am, but experience has merits of its own, namely precaution, which in my book trumps skill.

As we drive, I offer an ongoing commentary. “Always anticipate an obstacle—a little kid that bolts from a side street… or a dog… or a grand-mère or…”

Max interrupts. ”Mom, je sais!”

“I’m sure you know, Max. In fact, I think you are a very good driver and I feel safe riding with you. But it isn’t you I am worried about so much as the other driver out there. You must be alert! Practice defensive driving!”

Here Max shares the story about his driving instructor who had an accident in the very spot over which we are now driving. It was a head-on collision. He was driving with a new student.

“Did she survive?”

“Yes, the car just spun off the road… ”

The next few kilometers are passed in thoughtful silence. When Max picks up speed, I perk up.

“You need to slow down!” I remind him again. Only, for each reminder, Max has an argument.

“But Mom, the car is registering kilometers-per-hour, not MPH.”

It is too early for me to calculate (or divide?) kilometers to miles and so know whether Max is going too fast or too slow for my comfort zone. I cut to the point. “Well, it feels fast to me—so slow down!”

Nearing the village of Rochegude I have to look over at the odometer again.

“Max, what is the speed limit here?” 

“80.”

“Then why are you going 84?”

“Mom! Old cars show a higher speed. We are really only going 80.”

“This is not an old car. Slow down!”

As we approach the gas station, it occurs to me that I won’t have to do the messy chore this time!

“Your driving instructors have taught you to fill the tank, haven’t they?”

“Yes,  but I can’t do it this morning. It will make my hands reek and I’ve got to go to school afterwards!”

I shake my head. He sure has an excuse for everything from faulty odometers to smelly gas pumps—and it all seems to work in his favor!

After I fill the tank, Max fires up the engine attracting the attention of the student in the next car’s passenger seat. Subtle Max, you are subtle! Careful, now, not to kill the engine as you did on the way in! You won't look so cool putt-putting out of here, just as you putt-putted your way in!

At the industrial roundabout in Bollène Max slows, observing the yield sign.

I watch as cars speed around the busy circle, or camembert. Although a little nervous, I trust that Max will take his time. Only, when a lumber truck passes carrying a forest of giant logs, I notice Max does not stop!

I watch as the semi-truck’s wheels spin past our car, which is presently entering the roundabout , right on the heels of the giant truck!

Our car slips in so close behind the semi that I fear we will be sucked in beneath the truck’s back tires. Looking up from the passenger seat, I now see a tower of lumber above us. The ends of the neatly cut trunks are so near our faces I can count the many circles that represent the tree’s age. Will we live as long?

***

In the school parking lot I am lecturing Max, who, as expected, has an argument for every point I make. And when he doesn’t have a point, he simply replies, “Quit screaming!”

Finally, I make an ultimatum:

“Max, you are NOT going to explain things away and have the last word each time! Now, listen closely. I am going to say it one more time and this time you will not interrupt me—do so and you will lose driving rights for two weeks!"

I finally get the chance to make my point without being cut off. “What you did was dangerous and there is no justifying it!”

I wait, lest one more peep come out of the reckless driver. When not one peep is made, I am satisfied and have to turn my face away, lest the smirk upon it degrade its authority.

Despite the grave situation that was now past us, it feels so good to have the last word. Cathartic, even! I can now see the allure “le dernier mot” has for my ever righteous kids!

But that self-righteous feeling soon gives way to simple humility and gratitude. Thank God none of us had the very last word this time!


French Vocabulary

le collège = junior high school

le cours de conduite = driver education

la grand-mère = grandmother

je sais = I know

le camembert = the popular round cheese is also a synonym for roundabout

le dernier mot = the last word

 

REGARDEZ! LOOK!

DSC_0215

Max likes to lift things, just look at those arms!

DSC_0217

Smokey likes to eat things. Just look at that tongue!

DSC_0222

No matter what you like to do, it's nice to stop to rest and to look in a new direction. To comment on a photo, click here.

 

Click Millionaires
Very excited to be featured in Scott Fox's "Click Millionaires"! I'd do well to read the book to find out how to become one!  Meantime, I will continue to thank those lucky stars for allowing this creative freedom to work from home -- or from anywhere in the world. How many millionaires can boast such a quirk--or, rather, perk? ...So much for creative freedom!

Click Millionaires: Work Less, Live More with an Internet Business You Love Check out Scott's book!

 

 

DSC_0099
              Click to enlarge this photo, taken in Villedieu (near Nyons).

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

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

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


apocope + favorite blogs on France

Creche
A child care center in Flayosc. Seems like yesterday that my son went to the crèche... read on in today's story column. 

une apocope (ah-poh-cowp)

    : the dropping of one or more syllables (or letters) at the end of a word

Ado, MacDo, frigo, véto, resto... the French seem to love abbreviation. This is not to say that others of us are not guilty of truncating terms: in English, for example, we say fridge... Can you help list more wee words or apocopic terms in French or in English? Click here.



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


Note: the following story was written in 2008, when Max was 13 years old. Our son turned 17 yesterday...
There is something in the air around here and it smells like Adieu, like goodbye to a time and a place; fleeting and fading... like freckles on a child's face.

It has me dragging my legs to bed while the sun is still shining or putting too much symbolism into the shape of the odd cloud that floats by my bedroom window. The angst, though passagère, is palpable, present as a foreign fragrance in the air.

"Do you smell something rotting here?" I ask the boys while rooting around for the culprit, who I suspect is hiding in these kitchen drawers. I wonder about the strange scent: is it a rat's adieu that I am sensing? And yet...the mouse traps are empty....

Max and his friend, Jack, shake their heads, a bit disappointed to have missed a rotting-rodent sighting.

"No, there's nothing there, Mom." Max confirms. "No mice," Jack seconds.
"Are you sure?" I question, giving the kitchen drawers a good tug while searching for the source of the odor.

The boys insist that they can't smell a thing, and I notice how they slip out of the kitchen lest they catch the foul fever that has seized me.

Surely the smell of something "turning" pervades the air? Oh well. I shut the drawers with a heavy sigh and return to the heap of children's clothing that needs sorting. As the giveaway pile grows, that palpable, perfumed something returns....

I pull one of the little t-shirts close and breathe in the scent of Nine-Years-Old. How long has he had this t-shirt? Four years? It was oversized to begin with and now it is easily too small for my son. Why haven't I given it away yet?

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I set the shirt aside and curl up into a chair. Staring out the window, I notice the clouds pass even faster than the years have. I get up, turn my back on the clouds, and search the drawers again; this time for sweets. I am going to make a cake and quit staring at Time.

Later that night, my ears perk up when my son calls for me. "Give me a kiss goodnight, Mom?"

"You bet!" I say, wondering whether this might be the next-to-last time he asks.

"You know," I remind my son, pushing a lock of hair out of his face. "You are still a kid."

"Yes, mom... I am still twelve."

Suddenly, the air seems a little lighter, sweeter....
"And you will still be a kid when you turn thirteen...." I remind him. 
Max offers a doubtful look.
"No, Mom," Max argues. "I'll be a teenager."

That sweetness lingers for a moment before the scent molecules rearrange themselves once again, putting a bit of spice into their chemical makeup. I now understand what I have been sensing all along, and while I may have mixed feelings about it, one thing's sure: It smells like teen spirit.*

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:: Le Coin Commentaires & Favorite Blogs on France ::
Comments, corrections, and stories of your own are welcome here, in the comments box. Tip: no need to include a Web Site URL in the sign-up box (only if you would like to share your blog or website).

Speaking of websites, now's the time to share a favorite French-themed blog or website. Lynn at Southern Fried French tells me that  the blog A Small Village in France is hysterical and a favorite read. Check it out and share your favorites here!
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Test your French comprehension with this bilingual story by our daughter Jackie. Have you read her essay on makeup?  You can read it here in French or in English! 


French Vocabulary

adieu = goodbye

passagère = brief, passing;

Smells Like Teen Spirit = song by Nirvana



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Smokey says: it's hard to pose when looking sunward.

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By the way, the shutters need painting... or is that a lizard that you are noticing, dear Smokey?

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

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