Une vue de l'esprit - what a great term in French!

Beach in la ciotat canicule heatwave

A special thanks to those of you who left a comment following the previous post, about writing. if you only knew how much your words keep me going!

une vue de l'esprit

    : attitude of mind
    : pure illusion, a mental projection

 

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

You may have heard about the current heatwave in France. Here in La Ciotat we're melting! At the farmers market, the cashiers fanned themselves with cardboard and la canicule made as good a topic of conversation as any:

C'est une vue de l'esprit, the old man bagging cherries beside me remarked. He's got a point, it is sometimes a matter of perspective.* I should know this as I'm from the stifling hot Sonoran Desert (Phoenix) and experienced the record high 122F in 1990. 

And yet I can't sleep at night! As I type this it is 92F and I've just closed our wooden shutters (we do this after opening all the doors and windows at 6 a.m., to let the cool air flow into our home). But this morning, crossing the garden on my way to feed the chickens, la chaleur stopped me in my tracks. Paused there on the scorched yellow grass, I thought back to my beau-frère's warning last week: "It is going to get so hot that there won't even be relief during the night--when things normally cool down!"

NO COOL DOWN
Since the heatwave began, we've lost 3 fish--all found floating on the top of the warmed water in our fountain-pond (shaded by a giant tree...). As horrible as it was to discover the fish, it is a swift reminder to keep our eyes on those who are older than us, those younger than us, and to look out for our pets during the heatwave. I keep checking on my Mom, who assures me all is well (she lived in Mexico the last 22 years--sans la climatisation!).

But what was my surprise when my daughter, Jackie, checked on me. After holding her hand against my skin, she told me to get right into a cold shower. Tout de suite!)

Earlier, I moved our hens' water dish (it hangs from the olive tree, and receives the morning sun!) to an area with full shade. Still, the hens--and all of our wild doves who Mom has trained--are panting. Have you ever seen an overheated bird? They hold their beaks open and their tongues flutter like mini fans... (Note, the hens did not enjoy being sprayed with our garden hose but it seemed a good idea--even when it almost sent them over the fence and onto the street--so desperate were they do get away from the spritz!)

Unfortunately, our domestic birds can't head to the beach at 8 a.m. as Jean-Marc and I did this morning--joining dozens of locals who were beating the heat with the help of the cool sea.

OUR CAR IS MELTING?
OK, that's it--or almost all I wanted to say today. Once home from the beach we began the work day. Jean-Marc has an important appointment at 11 am, only, on his way to our car he noticed it was melting! What now?

(What now? How the term brings me back to our vineyard, before we sold it and moved to La Ciotat to rest and recuperate...)

What now? we thought, seeing a thin liquid pouring from our car's carrosserie. Perplexed, both of us stuck our heads under the car, only to come away as confused as before. That's when Jean-Marc cupped his right hand and placed it beneath the car to collect the liquid. After a sniff or two, he licked his wet palm.

It's wine! he confirmed.

Wine? (Next, my husband reached into the back seat, to find one of the bottles from a case of rosé he had just stowed had broken). It all brought me back, once again, to our vineyard--where wine all but poured from our taps! Wine everywhere! (and here, now, flowing out of our car!!).

I used to say that the universe was playing some sort of joke, moving our family to a vineyard after I made the decision to quit drinking. If you have not yet begun reading our book-in-progress, now is as good a time as any to jump right in--because things are heating up, just like the canicular air inside this room where I am signing off from this latest post. Time to run through the sprinklers--and take the chickens, the dog, and Mom with me!

Amicalement,

Kristi

* a matter of perspective. The first time around, I misunderstood the man at the farmers market. He may have been saying that the heat is an 'illusion'. But I can now say, it's no illusion! Keep cool and 'see you' all in the next edition. (Then again, if I 'see you all'...in this heat...that would amount to a mirage!

FRENCH VOCABULARY
une vue de l'esprit = an illusion
la canicule = heatwave
la chaleur = heat
le beau-frère = brother-in-law
la climatisation = air conditioning
la carrosserie = car body
amicalement = yours 

Kristi around the age of 30
I was around 33 years old in this photo, taken on New Year's Eve after a few drinks. Unfortunately for some, like me, a few drinks leads to a few more or one too many. Find out what led to my decision to quit, in Chapter 5 of our memoir-in-progress. Click here to purchase it, and begin reading right away.

I leave you with a message I woke up to this morning:

I have a special admiration for those in recovery and sobriety. Your difficult personal journey transformed you into a healthier Kristi and your commitment and work benefit not just your family but everyone, including your readers! I have been reading your blog, gosh, probably 6- 7 years, and I gleaned from the get-go a wisdom, frankness and “living in the now/one day at a time” sensibility from the start. --Julie Borders

Thank you, Julie! 

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Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution is vivement appréciée! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
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"Bonjour, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle


Seize the day (then write about it!) Une causerie with writer Sylvain Tesson at Château de Pibarnon

Image003


The above is part of the invitation Jean-Marc and I received, to attend a most inspiring causerie. Read about it in today's chronique....

Today's Word: une causerie

    : une causerie is an informal talk by an interpreter, given in a familiar tone and often accompanied by a demonstration, a theatrical animation, a slide show, etc.

Click here to listen to the example definition in French

Une causerie est une conférence informelle d'un interprète, faite sur un ton familier et qui est souvent accompagnée d'une démonstration, d'une animation théâtrale, d'un diaporama, etc.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

'Beyond Fiction'

A somewhat fractured compte-rendu for you today...as I'm anxious to post Chapter 5 of our memoir (and promise to this afternoon)...

Compte rendu
, just the word to dive into today récit, about a talk Jean-Marc and I attended on Sunday. Mille mercis to Eric de Saint Victor, Anne-Laure Couralet, and the friendly team at Château de Pibarnon, for introducing us to an adventurer, philosopher, and geographer--and especially the writer Sylvain Tesson.

Screenshot_20190624-195457

Éric de Saint Victor welcoming his guests.

There in the chateau's poetic Orangerie looking down through the pines to the Mediterranean, the sea breeze cooling the room, some 100 fans were captured by the guest of honor, Sylvain Tesson, during an interview or causerie by fellow author Sébastien Lapaque.

As an autodidact whose writing practice intensified when this blog began, I found yesterday's causerie inspiring. I could relate to Sylvain Tesson, who says he has never written fiction. And yet, 30 published books under his belt, and he enjoys (literally finds joy) in writing essays, comptes rendus, chroniques and, perhaps especially, in keeping up his journal intime.

How that brings me back to my own diaries, set aside when I began this blog--this 17-year warm-up for the novel I fear I should write if I am to be considered a 'real' writer.

MVIMG_20190623_163525
Nonsense! Sylvain Tesson might say. He doesn't see the point in labels--or even the need to write fiction or an epic novel--not when everyday life is filled with experiences that are beyond fiction. As he spoke, my mind drifted back to early that morning, when a dragonfly alighted on my hand as I reached into our fountain to fill a watering can. Those 10 seconds were epic. The glint and glimmer of the libellule's wings were like cathedral glass; the insect's long pause on my skin reminded me of a conversation with a friend who'd lost her mother. Before her mother passed away, my friend said to her: Send me a message when you reach the other side, Mum. But how will I know it is you?

I will be everywhere in nature, her mother answered, in the squirrel that runs across the grass, in the bird that flies past...(and, I wondered, remembering my friend's mother--who was also my dear friend, Kate--was she here...in this mysterious dragonfly, with the great big eyes?). 

I so wanted to write an essay about the dragonfly encounter, yet--in the order of priorities--I needed to finish my current chapter!

What would Sylvain Tesson say about all of this? (This and transparency. Something I've struggled with in the writing of our vineyard story, having torn out three-quarters of the last chapter).  I don't know what Monsieur Tesson would say, I did not have the chance to ask him. But one other thing he talked about that resonated deeply, was this: the betterment of his writing. That is: he does not or has not measured his advancement as a writer nor does he think he has advanced. His writing today, he trusts, is the same as when he began journaling, chronicling, essaying, as a young man. 

Notre dame
Sylvain Tesson's 80-page tribute to Notre Dame de Paris after the fire.

As or me, I like to think that with all this writing we learn ways in which to better express ourselves. So write, write, write!

But I need to learn to relax! relax, relax! It brings me back to striving, something I spoke about in a previous edition, about a sabbatical. Take away striving and what are we left with?

Purity, innocence, and perhaps even beauty? (And peace and rest and tranquility!) This, according to Sylvain Tesson is a lesson he learned later in life, after catapulting himself--literally by his own to feet--to far off places in search of happiness. Most people know, he said, that happiness is right in front of us, if only we will stop to look around. Happiness is in the familier. And yet we strive for novelty.

Which brings us back to novels.... or writing.

As Sylvain would agree, joy is jotting down--in a little carnet, or calpin--the record of one's day: a day that is first lived organically (physically?), and then lived again, on paper, as we retell the adventures of our journée. Just knowing that we will be writing them down at the end of the day influences our decisions--the decision, for example, to seize the opportunities that come our way.

I have only told you about Sylvain Tesson's writing and not his favorite subjects. You can discover his adventures, his philosophy, his deep love for trees and rocks and nature, in these books, Including the original French versions. He has won many awards and surely many hearts, by his example.

Tesson consolations
 

*   *   *

Sylvain Tesson and I have one more thing in common. I was deeply moved to hear him speak (at a vineyard, before a crowd of wine-lovers...) of his own adieu to drinking. And that is the story I've been struggling to write in Chapter 5. If you have not yet begun reading our memoir The Lost Gardens, please join us now by ordering here. Your purchase is the best motivation to complete the next chapter--and the next.... Merci beaucoup!

FRENCH VOCABULARY

un compte-rendu = report
le récit = story, tale, account
une causerie = talk, conversation, chat
mille mercis = a thousand thanks
orangerie = orangery = a room, often with large oval-topped windows, in which citrus fruits are protected in winter

la chronique = chronicle
journal intime=diary
une libelulle = dragonfly

le carnet or le calepin = notebook

Vivre
I purchased a few of Sylvain's books, including this one: Abandon yourself to life!

View from chateau de pibarnon
At the breathtaking Château de Pibarnon, more here.

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Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution is vivement appréciée! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
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"Bonjour, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle


Ephemere (Jean-Marc is taking over today's post...)

Jean-Marc Espinasse and his Oregon wine Ephemere Ephemera
With my new Lover : Ephemera :)
 
Today's Word: "éphémère" 
 
  - Qui est de courte durée, cesse vite.
  - That which is short-lived, stops quickly

Click here to listen to the soundfile for today's word



A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Jean-Marc Espinasse

Ephemeral... like this unusual short edition. When, this morning, I asked Kristi to mention that a few cases of my Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Natural Wine (Ephemera) were still available in the US, she offered to let me write today's post.

Actually, I could also have used "écriture" as the word of the day since writing is also now part of my life, telling chapter by chapter in our common book, The Lost Gardens, the whole story of losing the Mas des Brun "promised land". And since Kristi is about to unveil an important part of her life in our online book, I will let her concentrate on her chapter today... by elaborating this French Word-A-Day promotional edition...
 
Summer is about to knock on our doors and if you are looking for a fresh, light, easy drinking red wine that can actually be enjoyed cool, Ephemera is just what you are looking for.

A few weeks ago, I had the great surprise of having a quote on the local Willamette Week Newspaper. Jordan Michelman wrote a very accurate note that you can read here. This tasting note will objectively tell you more about this special wine.

To get some Ephémère within the USA (if you live in a State that accepts wine shipments), you can contact Avalon Wines (marcus@northwest-wine.com - (503) 206-8589).

If you live in the beautiful area of Portland OR, go to Providore, 2340 NE Sandy - (503) 232-1010 or Pastaworks at City Market, 735 NW 21Street - (503) 221-3002 to get some (give a call before to make sure there are some on the shelves).

At last, for Europe, please contact me at jm.espinasse@gmail.com

Thank you all of you for the already great support and feedback I had on Ephemera. A special "remerciement" for our Dear Friends Chris and George who posted the picture below with a note :

"Your Ephemera is really good. The essence of this wine lingers on the palate".
 
Chris
To wrap up this edition, I would like to say that this ephemeral wine project in Oregon has really helped me to continue turning the page of the painful Mas des Brun "fiasco", in giving me a chance to make wine, even with no more winery of my own. And writing The Lost Gardens will hopefully permit me to definitely close this unforgettable chapter of my life...
 
Cheers,
Jean-Marc
 
FRENCH VOCABULARY
éphémère = fleeting, short-lived, ephemeral. Ephemere is also the word for a pop-up shop or store
l'écriture = writing
le remerciement = thanks, acknowledgment

(from the text below the illustration)
un sac de noeuds = complex situation
chute de manne = type of fish bait (chute = drop manne = mayfly...and also manna)
 
BowlkersArtofAnglingFrontpiece_Mayflies
Les Ephémères. Mayflies from Charles and Richard Bowlker's Art of Angling, 1854. 2. "Blue Dun" mayfly. 3. "March Brown" mayfly
Kristi here... Did you know that the French word éphémère also means mayfly in English? Those winged insects are known for their short, fleeting (ephemeral) life.  According to Wikipedia, In pre-1950s France, "chute de manne" was obtained by pressing mayflies into cakes and using them as bird food and fishbait. I love the serendipity of this word, as Jean-Marc is a newbie fisherman--and passionate about it, along with all  of the pros and cons... (Hit the arrow in the middle of the screen, below, to see our son Max, along with Jean-Marc, trying to sort out a tangled line or 'un sac des noeuds'.) Follow along on Instagram, where these stories from our family life continue in between the weekly posts :-)

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Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution is vivement appréciée! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
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"Bonjour, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle


le congé sabbatique, career break

Les lecques
Vacationers in the neighboring town of Cassis, France

Today's Word: le congé

    : leave, time off
    : sabbatical, career break

Sound file: Click here to listen to the following sentence:

(En France...) Toute personne ayant au moins six années d'activité professionnelle et ayant passé au moins 36 mois dans son entreprise actuelle peut bénéficier de ce type de congé sabbatique. -Wikipedia

(In France...) Anyone with at least six years of professional activity and having spent at least 36 months in their current business can benefit from this type of sabbatical leave.


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

The other day, staring dreamily out of my bedroom window (instead of working on upcoming deadlines), I thought about the concept of un congé sabbatique....

Outside, I could see my chickens and all of the turtledoves that congregate around our poulailler. What a life they live! Their bare feet in the rich soil, they hunt for savory treats all day long. Une vie gourmande! When they tire of snacking, the hens settle down, tummies on the cool ground, where they begin their daily dirt bath. As rays of sunshine stream through the giant pin parasols above, the birds turn over on the ground until their entire feathered bodies are covered in dust. 

Next comes a little aerobic activity as they flail their wings and hop around until all the poussière has flown off--along with any unwelcome hosts (puces). Finally, a little drink from the hanging reservoir and it's now time to bask in the sun, one's newly clean chest feathers puffed out for all the other birds to admire. 
Kristi feeding hens

Admiration. Is this why I strive so hard? Are my own gleaming feathers disguised as polished prose? I can trace it back to school days. As a bad student, I nearly failed high school. But once I got into the university (under probation), and began striving for straight A's--those grades defined me, or at the very least improved my self-esteem. I strove and strove. and graduated with honors in French.

After moving to France and having children, I was floundering again...until I took up writing and set up stress-inducing deadlines (similar to those due dates in school!). Like those straight A's, the feedback I began to receive from readers fueled me and kept me going for longer than I might have - had I filed away my unpolished stories in a folder and shut the drawer. 

Two decades after beginning this writing practice, I am thinking, once again, about a break--un congé...even une année sabbatique. Only, there never seems to be a convenient time to stop. (Coincidently, it felt the same way when I decided to quit drinking. There was never a convenient time to quit (suddenly we'd receive a dinner invitation--or there would be a milestone to celebrate--as the French do--with champagne!).

This all brings me to Chapter 5 of our memoir, a section of the story in which I am trying to write about what happened when I quit drinking in 2003: Incredibly enough, two years into my sobriety, my husband found a vineyard for sale. And that is when we went into the wine business....

Talk about an inconvenience. And yet, 5,971 days of sobriety later and--as the lyrics of Elton John--I'm still standing. Je suis toujours debout. (Propped up with the help of my trusty pen. Which is why a sabbatical from writing might not be such a good idea afterall :-)

*   *   *
Special thanks to those of you who are reading our chapter-by-chapter book-in-progress. We could not write this vineyard memoir without you. Knowing that you are counting on the next chapter update keeps us on our toes!!  More about our vineyard memoir here. 


FRENCH VOCABULARY
un congé sabbatique = time off, sabatical break
le poulailler = henhouse
le pin parasol = stone pine tree
une vie gourmande = the self-indulgent life
la poussière  = dust
la puce = flea
je suis toujours debout = I'm still standing

Doves by the sea in la ciotat
Doves by the sea in La Ciotat... I love this image of freedom.

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Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution is vivement appréciée! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
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♥Send the amount of your choice

"Bonjour, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle


On June 6, 1944, 1,213 warships (battleships, destroyers ...), 736 support ships, 864 freighters and 4,126 gears and barges land 20,000 vehicles and 156,000 men on the beaches of Normandy.

Finding Gilbert front cover
Diane Covington-Carter’s memoir, Finding Gilbert, a Promise Fulfilled, recently won a Gold award at the Society of American Travel Writer’s Western Chapter meeting in Tucson Arizona. The faculty at the University of Missouri School of Journalism wrote:

“This is a gripping travel memoir of how childhood stories of World War II turn into a quest. A lot of travel is driven by the quest for answers–and this book fulfills that desire to find the truth in faraway places. This piece about a father’s love and
fulfilling a promise to a French war orphan is well done, and a recommended read.” Click here to order.

Into the Jaws of Death, photo by Robert F. Sargent
Into the Jaws of Death, photo by Robert F. Sargent

On June 6, 1944, 1,213 warships (battleships, destroyers ...), 736 support ships, 864 freighters and 4,126 boats and barges land 20,000 vehicles and 156,000 men on the beaches of Normandy.

Le 6 juin 1944, 1 213 bateaux de guerre (cuirassés, destroyers…), 736 navires de soutien, 864 cargos et 4 126 engins et péniches débarquent 20 000 véhicules et 156 000 hommes sur les plages de Normandie. (Text via Wikipedia... the 'merci' you hear at the end is from Jean-Marc)

Click here to listen to today's example sentence


IN MEMORY

So many of you have stories to share about family members who braved the shores of Normandy on this unforgettable day in history; June 6th, 1944. The comments box is open, now, for anything you might want to share--in honor of those who have sacrificed their lives for others.

Gilberts family and Diane Covington-Carter

Mille mercis to Diane Covington-Carter (pictured right, with Gilbert's family), for sponsoring today's post. Be sure to check out Diane's memoirs on France, including the hightly enjoyable Eight Months in Provence.

Covington-Carter, an award-winning journalist, has attended the 50 th , 60 th and 70 th anniversaries of D-Day. She will be in France for the 75 th anniversary and will be writing many stories for magazines and newspapers. Finding Gilbert, a Promise Fulfilled is her third memoir, and you can read more about it here.

Has a friend forwarded you this post? Receive your own FREE subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution is vivement appréciée! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥Send the amount of your choice

"Bonjour, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle


To flip somebody off in French

Beach in la ciotat (2)
Today's spicy story takes place here along the boardwalk in La Ciotat...

faire un doigt d'honneur à quelqu'un

    : to flip somebody off

Click here to listen to the following sentence


The driver--a woman in her 50s--flipped us off.
La conductrice--une femme d'une cinquantaine d'années--nous a fait un doigt d'honneur.


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse


Oh, this wind! It's Day 2 of Le Mistral and this morning my husband actually said a prayer to protect us from people's humeur or moods!

Cranky, irritable, rude--my daughter and I witnessed the gamut yesterday, after Jackie invited me for Mothers Day lunch.
(Our 21-year-old is back home from Colorado and, having worked all season at The Ritz Carlton--where she won an award for excellence in service!--she is now waitressing on the beach. She'll work sept sur sept and long hours all summer, but she doesn't mind. The only thing is, we are finding it difficult to spend time together--and we didn't see each other at all last Sunday, which was Fête des Mères here in France.)

At a local restaurant here in La Ciotat, Jackie and I chose indoor seating after seeing the dining room was almost empty (nice and quiet). But once we sat down, we heard the blaring radio. So when the waitress appeared, I asked if she would mind turning down the music...just a little bit.

'Well, hopefully not so low that the rest of us can't enjoy it,' she snapped, before barging off. 

Alors, laissez-le! I snapped right back (was the Mistral wind getting to me too?). Jackie told me to shush, and we brushed off the initial greeting...but not for long.

'Vous avez de la daurade?' Do you have sea bream on the menu, I asked, searching for the familiar fish.

'Il faut regarder.' You'll have to look, came the cheeky answer, as the waitress pointed to the menu. 

'But it is usually your specialty', I countered.

'I don't know. I usually work at the bar,' came the reply. Next, the waitress stomped off to check with the chef. I widened my eyes, making eye contact with the couple in the next table, who seemed as baffled as we were.

Bon, I said to Jackie. Let's just get cheeseburgers and enjoy our time together. From that point on, we were extra nice to the waitress, who must have been having a bad day. Jackie left her a nice tip and we left, to stroll along the boardwalk, arm in arm.

Returning home, we jaywalked across the street--as every local does--only the car coming towards us would not slow down. I looked beyond le pare-brise and saw a middle-aged woman at the wheel. Jackie made eye contact, too, and added a few choice words directed at the driver who, having let us pass, abruptly blared her horn. Turning we watched the driver reach out of the window....

And flip us off!

Elle nous a fait un doigt! Un doigt d'honneur! I said. I can't believe it! Who would flip off a mother and daughter walking arm and arm? That is so bizarre!

Jackie didn't seem to find it so unusual. Laughing, she offered, Maman. Ça a pimenté notre sortie mère-fille

Looking at it from my daughter's angle, I lightened up. True, it only spiced up our mother-daughter outting.

***
Book update:
Speaking of spice, things are heating up in our memoir! Midway into chapter 4, this is the perfect time to jump in and read our book-in-progress. Read about it, here. 

FRENCH VOCABULARY
le Mistral = a cold and strong northwesternly wind
sept sur sept = seven days a week 
la Fête des Mères = Mothers Day
alors = well then
laissez-le = leave it
Vous avez toujours de la daurade = do you still have sea bream?
le pare-brise = windshield
pimenter=to spice up


WINE TASTING IN MARSEILLE
Jean-Marc will be pouring his latest wine, Ephemera, at Le Vin Sobre wine shop where he works. You can also taste a selection of some of the other wines on offer--this June 6th at 6pm.
2, av. Maréchal de Lattre de Tassigny
13009 MARSEILLE
Tél. 04 91 30 68 35 

Ephemera wine by  Eileen DeCamp
Thanks, Eileen deCamp, for this wonderful picture of Jean-Marc's Ephemera wine!

Has a friend forwarded you this post? Receive your own FREE subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution is vivement appréciée! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
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L'Herisson and... A Childrens Book?

Chateau Rochefaucauld
July 6th - 13th. Paint in the Charente - 30% off.

Paint Provence with Tess welcomes you to Limetree House in Montemboeuf, a beautiful village in the Charente near to Lakes, Chateaux, Bordeaux, rolling hills and vineyards this is a perfect time to holiday away from the heat of the South of France. Reserve here.

Book Update:
Jean-Marc and I will soon publish Chapter 4 of The Lost Gardens--a memoir of 10 passionate years on two vineyards in Provence. If you have not purchased our book-in-progress, now's the time....as one of us is about the have a Come-to-Jesus moment in Chapter 5! Pray that the writing comes together! Click here for a sample chapter and purchasing instructions.

Today's Word: le hérisson

    : hedgehog
    : a person who is easily irritated

Also:
hérissé = stand on end (hair)
le hérisson de mer = sea urchin

Click here to listen to the French words below

The sea urchin is a marine animal that is commonly called "sea hedgehog" because of its body covered with quills.
L'oursin est un animal marin que l'on appelle couramment « hérisson de mer » à cause de son corps recouvert de piquants. -Madame Figaro

In books: Don't miss The Elegance of The Hedgehog. Click here.


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

On May 17th, in the wee hours of the night--around the time our neighborhood baker fired up his four and just as the first fishing boats headed out to sea.... Our golden retriever began barking wildly.

The commotion caused my Mom to stir, there in her studio where she slept surrounded by giant leopard pillows. Peeking out from under her warm gray beret, Jules saw an object on the other side of the Arcadia windows.

Joining Smokey at la baie vitrée, Mom peered down at what looked like a football. But by the time she rubbed her eyes awake, the mysterious visitor had disappeared.

Sliding open the glass door, and following Smokey, Jules ventured out into the night, guided by the light of the moon, its rays shining down through a canopy of parasol pines trees...

"Smokey, just look at those spikes! Those are hedgehogs," Mom explained to her camarade de chambre, whose barking was overcome by sniffing curiosity. The four nightcrawlers studied one another with the help of the Gallic moon.

Scampering past the woodpile and the sleepy beehives that line our back fence, one prickly hérisson darted towards the clothesline.

Smokey and Jules having caught up, the little hedge pig now scurried to the east fence, toward the néflier tree, and on to the amandier, where it stalled among a rug of freshly fallen nuts...quel dilemme!....only to remember its pursuers.

But where was that ball of quills headed now? Farther up there was the little fountain-pond with its 7 goldfish (whom we haven't seen in while as the pond has turned a mucky-muck green...what to do? what to do?)

Stay on track with our story! That's what to do! But, having lost track of our fleeing oursin, Smokey and Jules headed back inside--to chop up an apple and fill a shallow bowl with water which they left at the foot of bay leaf tree.

At 4 a.m. Jules woke with a start... Ça y est! J'ai une idée... 

....

Herisson hedgehog (2)

Did you like the beginning of this story? I would like to continue writing it as a childrens book with my Mom's paintings as illustrations. But first things first, finish the current manuscript (we are on page 21, and have a ways to go...just like the little hedgehog in our garden!) 

MVIMG_20190519_084639
The hedghog and a painting of Mom's in the background. I will be putting up more photos and a video on Instagram. Please follow me over there to see them.



FRENCH VOCABULARY

le hérisson = hedgehog

le four = oven

le camarade de chambre = roommate

le néflier = loquat, Japanese medlar

un oursin = sea urchin, synonym for hedgehog (for their spikey resemblance)

Ça y est = that's it

j'ai une idée = I have an idea

Limetree house Montemboeuf

Be sure to check out my dear friend Tessa's next tour. She is offering 30 percent off! You'll stay at the historic Limetree House where you will have beautiful bedrooms and wonderful home cooked food from our hosts Janet and Tom. Contact Tess at tessa@tessabakerart.com 

Has a friend forwarded you this post? Receive your own FREE subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution is vivement appréciée! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
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♥Send the amount of your choice

"Bonjour, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle


Veinard, charrier, bienveillance: A colorful story by Cécile about the traditional carénage, or boat maintenance

Calfatage
Today, my belle-soeur, Cécile, shares about the carénage--that yearly maintenance all wooden boats undergo. (photo of fisherman caulking a boat, the ancient way--with rope. picture from Wikipedia, by Rmoorlag)

Book update: For those reading our vineyard memoir (we are finally telling the story. Do not miss it. Sample chapter here.), Chapter 3.5, written by Jean-Marc, will be posted Saturday....

Today's Word: veinard

    : lucky person (lucky devil, lucky duck)

Click here to listen to Jean-Marc say the following words:
Lundi si le temps le permet, il y a de fortes chances pour qu´il aille faire un tour--le veinard !


UN COUP DE MAIN by Cécile Espinasse

Il y a de cela un mois frère Jean-marc m´a proposé de lui donner un coup de main pour l´entretien annuel du pointu que lui et Kristi sont sur le point d´acheter. L´organisation de ce petit chantier nécessitait quand même de savoir quand une place pourrait se libérer pour le carénage. C´est en effet la saison où les propriétaires de pointus sortent leur bateau pour
leur faire une beauté.

A month ago my brother Jean-Marc asked for a helping hand for the annual maintenance of the wooden boat he and Kristi are about to buy.  This boatyard being very small, organization is required so as to know when a space would open up for the refit. It is in fact the season when the owners of these wooden boats take them out of the water to 'powder their noses'.

Rendez-vous pris, nous sommes attendus vendredi 4 mai á 8h45 pétantes! Jean- Marc explique qu´il faut absolument être à l´heure, une armée de volontaires est prête à nous accueillir pour sortir Chrisline de l´eau et nous expliquer toutes étapes du travail à faire. Tout ce petit monde sous le contrôle d´Henry exécute les gestes nécessaires au bon déroulement de la sortie du bateau et au calage de celui-ci.

Rendez-vous taken, we are expected Friday, May 4 at 8h45 sharp! Jean-Marc explains that it is essential to be on time, an army of volunteers is ready to welcome us to take Chrisline out of the water and explain all the steps of the work to be done. All this small world under the control of Henry, executing the necessary gestures to the good progress of (this enterprise)--everything from taking the boat out of the water to bracing it.

Une chose est intéressante à noter : Trois pointus sont en carénage, le premier a presque fini son entretien annuel. Son propriétaire est très méticuleux, le bateau est rutilant, un travail de longue haleine qui a demandé quinze jours de travail acharné qu ´il a effectué avec, on le sent, beaucoup de plaisir et de respect de la tradition. Chrisline est au milieu, chacun s´accorde à dire qu elle est en bon état. On va juste lui refaire une beauté.

One thing is interesting to note: Three wooden boats are in line for repair: the first has almost finished its annual maintenance. Its owner is very meticulous, the boat is gleaming, a lengthy undertaking that has required fifteen days of hard work that he has done with, we feel, a lot of pleasure and respect for tradition. Chrisline is in the middle, everyone agrees that she is in good condition. We just need to clean her up.

À notre droite il y a Gérard, un peu dépité, une longue maladie de trois ans l´a empêché de s´occuper de son bateau. Les dégâts apparents sont nombreux et c´est sans compter tout ce qu´il va découvrir au fil de la restauration. Il se fait charrier de temps en temps par ses collègues quand d´autres s´approchent aussi, tels des chirurgiens ou des médecins spécialistes pour un diagnostic douloureux mais pas sans espoir!

On our right there is Gerard, a little irritated, a long illness of three years prevented him from taking care of his boat. The visible damage is vast and it is not counting all that he will discover during the restoration. He is teased from time to time by his colleagues, when others also wander up, too, such as 'surgeons' or 'specialized doctors' for a painful diagnosis but not without hope!

Liste faite de toutes les fournitures dont nous allons avoir besoin nous partons faire les courses pour pouvoir nous atteler à notre tache. Poncer, gratter, enduire, re-poncer, re-gratter, re-enduire, laver, peindre...Chaque étape est cruciale, je me rends compte qu il y a quand  même du travail!

A list made of all the supplies we will need we go shopping in order to be able to tackle our task. Sand, scrape, coat, re-sand, re-scrape, re-coat, wash, paint ... Every step is crucial, I realize that there is still work!

La matinée est belle, soleil et ciel bleu au rendez-vous participent à la bonne humeur. Henry nous donne les clés du local où l´on pourra aussi prendre des outils, que l´association met à la disposition des bateaux  en travaux.

The morning is beautiful, sun and blue sky at the rendez-vous all add to the good mood. Henry gives us the keys to the place where we can also take tools that the association makes available to the boats under construction.

Sont arrivés durant toute la matinée,le président de l´association du port des Capucins et une bonne partie des adhérents dont la moyenne d´age est entre 75 et 80 ans ! Chacun vient dire bonjour, on me fait la bise , on se tutoie facilement, on a vite le sentiment qu´on se connait depuis toujours ! Il y a de la bienveillance dans ces regards et c´est plutôt rassurant!

Arriving throughout the morning, were the president of the association of the port of Capucins and a good number of the members whose average age is between 75 and 80 years! Everyone comes to say hello, give me a kiss, we get to know each other easily, we quickly feel we have known each other forever! There is kindness in these eyes and it is rather reassuring!

Si l´ancien propriétaire n´est pas là, celui qui l´était avant, André, explique à Jean-Marc que Chrisline est né en 1925 sur les chantiers navals Ruoppolo implantés à Marseille, et rachetés depuis par Trapani à Cassis. Elle aura bientôt cent ans et on dirait une demoiselle ! Cent ans d´amour pour conserver ce petit bijou et l´on peut imaginer les heures passés en mer à pêcher,les sorties en famille, les piques-nique, les apéros, les déclarations d´amours avec un joli coucher de soleil, les moments de quiétude pour apprécier le paysage, l'horizon, l´infini.

As the previous owner is not there, the one who owned it before him, André, explains to Jean-Marc that Chrisline was born in 1925 in the shipyards of Naval Ruoppolo established in Marseille, and since redeemed by Trapani in Cassis. She'll be a hundred years old and looks like a young lady! A hundred years of love to keep this gem and you can imagine the hours spent at sea fishing, family outings, picnics, aperitifs, declarations of love with a beautiful sunset, moments of tranquility to appreciate the landscape, the horizon, the infinite.

Cent ans d´histoire! Ce bateau aurait tant à raconter s´il pouvait parler!
One hundred years of history! This boat would have so much to tell if she could speak!

Durant les travaux et sous la peinture se cachait quelques petits problèmes vite résolus grâce à l´efficacité et au savoir faire d´Henry: Le pointu est en bois et l´étanchéité entre chaque planche est assurée par de l´étoupe. C´est une fibre naturelle en chanvre que l´on incruste à l´aide d´un outil nommé: fer à calfater.
le geste est précis et très technique. Tranquillement Henry m´explique que depuis l´époque romaine on n´a pas trouvé mieux !

During the work , we found some small problems were hiding beneath the paint--problems quickly resolved thanks to the efficiency and know-how of Henry: The boat is in wood and the sealing between each board is provided by the tow. It is a natural fiber made of hemp that is encrusted with the help of a tool called caulking iron. The gesture is precise and very technical. Quietly Henry explains that since Roman times we have not found a better method!

Le vent s´est mis à souffler le samedi pour devenir vraiment violent le dimanche. Nous n´avons pas relâché nos efforts, Jean-Marc, moi-même et nos voisins pour avancer dans notre mission. Kristi nous a chaleureusement préparé des petits plats et bons desserts lorsque nous rentrions manger. Une bonne bouteille de vin était toujours sur la table, de quoi donner du cœur à l´ouvrage.

The wind began to blow on Saturday to become really violent on Sunday. We have not relaxed our efforts, Jean-Marc, myself and our neighbors to advance in our mission. Kristi warmly prepared us small dishes and good desserts when we went home to eat. A good bottle of wine was always on the table, enough to give us the heart to continue the work.


De retour sur notre chantier des badauds se sont approchés pour nous demander quel était le nom de ces petites embarcations. S´il est vrai que dans le département du var on les nomme pointus, à Marseille on les appellera barquettes marseillaises. Certains ont le privilège d´appartenir aux Bateaux d´intérêt du patrimoine.

Back on our site onlookers have approached to ask what was the name of these small boats. If it is true that in the department of Var they name pointus, in Marseille they will be called barquettes Marseillaises'. Some have the privilege of belonging to the Heritage Interest Boats.

J´ai laissé Jean-Marc finir le travail car après ces trois jours, un autre programme m´attendait. Je commençais un travail dans les studios de cinéma de Martigues où j´étais embauché avec trois autre personnes pour peindre 800m2 de décors ! J´entamais l´écriture de cet article ce matin, quand mon frère m´a envoyé une petite vidéo de la remise à l´eau de Chrisline !

I let Jean-Marc finish the job because after these three days, another program was waiting for me. I started a job in the movie studios of Martigues where I was hired with three other people to paint 800m2 of scenery! I was writing this article this morning when my brother sent me a short video of Chrisline's release!

Lundi si le temps le permet, il y a de fortes chances pour qu´il aille faire un tour--le veinard !
Monday, weather permitting, there's a good chance he'll go out for a ride--lucky guy!

::::::
Many thanks, Cécile, for sharing this wonderful story!
Follow Cecile on Instagram, to see what she is doing over there at the movie studios in Martigues. You can also see the furniture she makes 

To view this touching video of our boat going back into the water, click on the arrow in the center of the image, below.

Has a friend forwarded you this post? Receive your own FREE subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution is vivement appréciée! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥Send the amount of your choice

"Bonjour, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle


What does 'carénage' mean? + What wine and boats really have in common....

The Down Low by Barbara Barrielle

My dear friend, Barbara Barrielle, an investor in our first vineyard and a longtime resident of Aix-en-Provence, has found Provence in the U.S. in her hometown of Healdsburg in the heart of Sonoma County. A well-published travel and wine writer, her travel book on Sonoma County titled THE DOWN LOW allows the reader insight into what the locals know and love in this magical and diverse part of Northern California.

Today's Word: carénage

    : boat service, boat maintenance, careening

Click here to listen to today's word (and try your luck at writing what you have heard, in the comments box below)


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

To caréner is to turn a boat on its side for cleaning, caulking, and repair--a chore made easier when two or more people are involved (two to do the grueling work, and another dozen to chat with the two workers while sharing bits and pieces of history, and when thirsty, to share apéro with rosé and olives!).

These two brave workers in question were my husband and his soeurette. You may know Cécile through her French stories here and/or through her beautiful woodwork seen on Instagram (she makes furniture out of found wood). We were very lucky to have Cécile--and her love of wood and knowledge for working with it--for the yearly carénage we were encouraged to do for a certain wooden boat....

Yearly maintenance -- that's right! One thing we learned as soon-to-be owners of an historic pointu, is that you must pull your boat out of the slip once a year--and do the weeklong maintenance work--or suffer the consequences (the guy working on the boat next to ours was facing 18 days of of carénage, to make up for 3 years of neglect.

Chrisline pointu wooden boat before
'ChrisLine' - our (almost ours) pointu, or wooden fishing boat -- the 'before' photo. Behind our boat, you can see ever-so-helpful, Henri (one of the managers of Port des Capucins) and Cécile.


BOATS AND VINES...FISH AND WINE!
This reminds me of how boat maintenance is very similar to vineyard maintenance... Just as vines need to be pruned once each springtime, so does a wooden navire. To leave those vines would mean extra labor the next year, and c'est la même chose for un bateau en bois.

And, just like our former grapevines--which Jean-Marc spent months caring for before the purchase of our first vineyard went through, we are caring for this little boat which still does not belong to us. That means (for our vines) we paid for the clippers and various pruning supplies...and for this boat there have been a lot of back-n-forths to the boat supply store (conveniently located near the old port) for paint supplies. As I said, both the vineyard and boat maintenance required a lot of elbow grease, and how can you put a price on that? Except that in the end, as Jean-Marc points out...

One pays you back in wine...and the other in fish! 

On the third day of le carénage, Cécile and Jean-Marc braved the Mistral, which sent one of the old men in our city to the emergency room (the wind knocked him right over). As for the other old-timers who belong to this particular charming port, Les Capucins, they sat en brochette on a bench, with their hunting dogs and their stories of back when...quand c'était leur tour de caréner....

***

Chrisline after photo
The 'after' photo!


P.S. Would you like Cécile to write a story, in French, about her colorful carénage experience? She was the only woman caréner in a line up of longtime mariners. Leave her a note in the comments and she just might be encouraged to share about the maintenance she did and the adorable characters she met.   

FRENCH VOCABULARY
caréner = to clean and repair a boat
la soeurette = little sister
carénage = to clean and maintain a boat
le pointu = Provencal fishing boat
un bateau = boat
en bois = wooden
quand c'était leur tour = when it was their turn

BOOK UPDATE
We've made it through Chapter Three in our memoir The Lost Gardens (about what led up to our decision to sell our vineyard). I planned to publish the chapter yesterday...when suddenly I bent that chapter all out of shape (going back in time, to Jean-Marc and my first breakup...).

Which reminds me of a subtitle I'd been itching to add to the book... The Lost Gardens: A Love Story

But we won't know the subtitle until the book is written... At which point, it could very well be called The Lost Gardens: A Rekindling... Or something entirely different.... If you haven't yet, I hope you will follow us on this memoir-writing journey. I will post Chapter 3 (no matter what shape it is in) by the weekend!

Click here to purchase our book--and follow along as we compose it and ourselves, in the process.

.

Where did Thaddeus go
Many thanks to my friend Barbara for sponsoring today's post! That is a great support and I appreciate it! Here's another book she wrote, about the adventures of a little lost dog.  Click here to buy the book. You can also follow Barbara on Facebook and Instagram @barbarabarrielletravels for travel insights and news about writing and yoga retreats.

L'Illustration_1862_gravure_Lancement_de_l'Erymanthe_le_17_février_1862_dans_les_chantiers_de_La_Ciotat
Our historic port here in La Ciotat, depicted in this illustration from 1862. It must have taken a year for that carénage!

 

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Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution is vivement appréciée! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥Send the amount of your choice

"Bonjour, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle


Today's French expression: Se donner le mot (also le pointu, manque de chance, la pissaladière...and hangry...)

Patisserie pastry tarte fraise choux wine
Are French bakers in cahoots? Read on in today's story. Also, see our book update at the end of this post.

Today's Expression: Se donner le mot

    : to pass the word around


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

by Kristi Espinasse

A few days ago, my husband and I were headed to the old port, to take out the little pointu we are trying to buy. The wooden fishing boat is not ours yet, but the owner has kindly allowed us a few sorties, or outings, until Provencal bureaucracy kicks in and we are granted the honor of purchase.

As I was saying, we were on our way to the docks... when we decided to stop for a pissaladière--a delicious pizza-like 'slice' topped with sauteed onions, anchovies, and an olive... Pulling up to the first bakery, we noticed the iron curtain was down. 'Oh, it's Tuesday!' I said to Jean-Marc. 'C'est fermé le mardi...'

There was a second bakery nearby and, manque de chance, it was closed too! Having left the seafront, we headed in to town. Oh, stop at that one! I said. 'I hear they make everything on site, and that it's delicious!' Jean-Marc parked à la Marseillais (illegally) in front of the garage next to the boulangerie...when suddenly the garagiste appeared. (Not to scold us, but to inform us the baker was closed).

Ils se sont donnés le mot? What--are they all in cahoots? Jean-Marc quipped.

(At least I think that is what I think my hangry husband said. In any case, what a picture his words painted in my mind, of so many apron-clad bakers 'passing the word': Psst! Hurry--Hide the onion tarts! Shutter the storefront! Alert the garagiste!)

That's no way to do business. But, from my experience, the French aren't always in it for business. (I'm thinking of the time the dry-cleaner turned my brother-in-law away. 'Five shirts?' she said. 'No. I can only handle two today...'

And isn't that what we love about France? It is everything on a smaller, more charming scale...just like our little red-trimmed fishing boat. I'll tell you more about that in the future.... For now, I'm off to post the end of Chapter Two of our memoir. I hope you will dive in, and read along with us.

Pointu little fishing boat wine eagle la ciotat
Jean-Marc managed to find a bakery...only they didn't have pissaladière. So he got quiche!

FRENCH VOCABULARY

lepointu
= Provencal fishing boat
la sortie =
trip, outing
manque de chance =
tough luck
a la marseillais =
Marseille style (the way the locals from Marseille drive)
la pissaladière =
Provencal onion tart
c'est fermé lemardi =
it's closed on Tuesdays
la boulangerie =
bakery
sedonner le mot = to pass the word around
vraiment faim + irritable =
hangry
lagaragiste =
mechanic

THE LOST GARDEN BOOK EXCERPT (from Jean-Marc's chapter)

And all went like in a dream, at least that is how I recall it. The wines in the tanks were delicious (one eventually got 91 points in The Wine Spectator), the family seemed happy and I felt like a rock, like the King of the World.

But in November 2007 a few weeks after the harvest, when the vine leaves started to fall, I suddenly felt like my dear leafless vines: dead. A heavy, brutal burnout/hibernation phase lasted for 6 long months, until the next Spring when the new vine leaves burgeoned once again. During that very dark time, my future award-winning wine tasted bad, flat... bland to me.  I could only see black clouds in the sky, my whole vineyard project and even my own physical life were definitely going to hit the wall. I was sure of it.

(For those who have purchased our book, read all of chapter two, here.)

To purchase The Lost Gardens, a book-in-progress, click here and scroll to the end of the post.

Reader feedback from Chapter Two:

Dynamite!!!!...Your writing seems to have one upped your sharing and it's a good balance back and forth. I'm eager to "follow along" but encourage you to take your time. After all you are living it! --John Hawke

Old boat pointu sicily
A charming Sicilian pointu, or wooden boat

Has a friend forwarded you this post? Receive your own FREE subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution is vivement appréciée! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥Send the amount of your choice

"Bonjour, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle