Boui-boui: Jackie and I lick windows in Miami while Jean-Marc gets stuck in immigration

Signs in key west floridaKeeping this French language journal going is a joyous struggle: there is joy in writing it and there is a struggle in maintaining it. Your help is not only appreciated--it keeps me employed. One very helpful way to support this site is to buy a book for a friend, via this link. Or scroll to the end of this post for other options. Now on to today's story, packed with useful French vocabulary in context. Enjoy and bonne lecture! 

Today's French Word: un boui-boui 

   : a small, cheap restaurant, a greasy spoon

Audio File: Click here to listen to Jean-Marc read in French:  

À Freeport, une île de l'archipel des Bahamas, je me suis arrêté pendant 10 minutes dans un petit boui-boui pour avaler des ailes de poulet. In Freeport, an island in the Bahamas archipelago, I stopped for 10 minutes in a small greasy spoon to woof down some chicken wings.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

A Quick Jaunt to the Bahamas from Miami? Quel Calvaire!

***
All the mask-toting travelers at the airports in Miami, Marseilles, and Munich, made me ill-at-ease, but, apart from the coronavirus scare, our trip to Florida to visit our 22-year-old daughter went relatively smoothly.

Now relaxing on South Miami Beach, my husband suggested a day trip to the island of Bimini--a 4-hour boat ride aller-retour--I knew right away I didn't want to go. The old Kristi would've tagged along (and moaned and groaned the whole intrepid way). But the new Kristi simply released her thrill-seeking husband to court the unknown all on his own. "I'll spend the day with Jackie," I asserted, and so followed my instincts this time around...

...and was spared The 20-hour épreuve my husband would soon suffer....

On Sunday morning Jean-Marc's alarm sounded at 5:30 a.m. causing Jackie (asleep on an air mattress on the floor of our studio rental) to stir and me to ask a few pertinent questions: sun hat? water? ESTA* papers (in addition to his passport, would he need some sort of Visa or waiver)?  

Jean-Marc threw on his yellow and green Brazil soccer jersey, his old swim trunks, and donned his purple Phoenix Suns casquette in time to catch a shuttle that would take him to the port in Fort Lauderdale. As he rushed out the door into the cold dark street, I stretched cozily across the bed, enjoying the extra space and une grasse matinée. 

By 9:45, Jean-Marc was four hours into his journey to the Bahamas (and still waiting for his boat in the Fort Lauderdale terminal...). Meantime, ma fille et moi were en route to a leisurely breakfast at The W Hotel on South Beach. And quelle chance! Jackie's manager treated us to a free buffet, in thanks for Jackie's excellent service as a waitress at their establishment. Qu'est-ce qu'on est fier de notre fille! As we enjoyed les gaufres with heaps of cream, strawberries, and syrup, Jackie mentioned that Papa needed help with his odds-n-ends (yellow, green and purple...) wardrobe. "Your Dad is into vistas and not vêtements... Seashores and summits, not style or trends," I laughed, trying to imagine just where he was now in his adventure: snorkeling beneath turquoise waters? Sunning on a pristine Bahamas beach? Kissing a mermaid? (as he threatened to do when I declined to go with him).

As we ate we were blissfully unaware of Jean-Marc's own petit déj : he had only managed to down a coffee, too seasick from being stuck on a ferry boat. Turns out after that 45-minute shuttle from hell (crazy driver!) and the 2-hour wait at the port terminal, our day-tripper finally made it onto the boat for the 2-hour crossing...only to be redirected away from Bimini owing to rough waters! It was too bumpy, too dangerous to let passengers disembark. So the ship set sail to another island. 

Jackie left a gigantic tip for our waitress and thanked her manager before we left the 5-star hotel and headed to Miami's Design district to faire du lèches vitrines (that's "window licking" in French, i.e. window shopping). A few hours later we had a delicious snack before Jackie needed to head to work for her 4 p.m. shift.

By this time, still on an empty stomach, JM had earned his second pair of sealegs, having finally made it off the rocking boat. He had traveled 10 hours only to get back on a little bus that would drive him 30 minutes across Freeport island in time for 15 minutes of tourism (if you included the greasy chicken wings and beer he wolfed down at a God-forsaken boui-boui).  

Back at our cozy studio, Jackie showered and left for work while I enjoyed a few quiet hours to organize our bags for the next day's journey to Key West. So good not to have to rush! At 6 pm I put on a pretty necklace, some lipstick, fluffed my hair and headed back to the W Hotel for a solo dinner and the chance to see my daughter in action. Her colleagues gave me a grand welcome and showered my daughter with affection, assuring me she was in good company. One of the waiters opened a bottle of champagne in my honor, delivering it to my table with a flourish. I was sorry to have to refuse it, and how ironic that this happened a very special date: This week I celebrate 17 years of sobriety.* 

As I sat sipping bubbly (l'eau gazeuse) and being treated to a four-course meal (including lobster!) I did not know my poor husband, nary a chicken wing in his tummy, was about to be stuck in some hangar in Fort Lauderdale, nor did I realize he did anything other than snorkel or kiss mermaids for the day in the Bahamas....

When Jackie returned to our rental after 11 pm, her Dad was nowhere in sight. By midnight we were sick with worry until a message came through: JM was stuck in immigration. "What if they keep him?" Jackie worried, having had a few of her French friends experience the horror. 

At 1:15 a.m. our intrepid traveler returned from his bumpy ride (still swaying back and forth as he walked) and gladly ate the 5-star take-out from the dinner Jackie had helped treat me to, via her employee discount. After a glass of rosé and a full tummy, our marooned (if only in buses, terminals, and boats) daytripper sank into bed and was out like a light. The old Kristi would have been furious he was kissing mermaids in his sleep. But the new Kristi said, Let him dream his dreams. He deserves it.

Post note: Jean-Marc says the immigration officers were watching the Super Bowl, which took place that day in Miami, and that this is the reason for the delay in passport check. 

EDIT ME: If you see une faute de frappe (a typo) in French or in English, I would greatly appreciate it if you would point it out in the comments or via email. Merci beaucoup!

FRENCH VOCABULARY

bonne lecture = happy reading
le calvaire
= cross, ordeal 
un aller-retour = round trip, return trip
une épreuve
= ordeal, trial
la casquette = baseball cap
faire la grasse matinée = to sleep in, to lie in
ma fille et moi = my daughter and I
quelle chance = what luck!
Qu'est-ce qu'on est fier de notre fille! = how proud we are of our daughter!
une gaufre = waffle
Papa = Dad
un vêtement = item of clothing
le petit déj(euner) = breakfast
faire du lèche-vitrine(s) = to go window shopping
l'eau gazeuse = bubbly, sparkling water
un boui-boui = low quality eatery

ESTA = Electronic Papers for Travel Authorization

Jackie and Jean-Marc in Key West
Jackie and Jean-Marc in Key West.
Jean-Marc in Key West

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
 
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Une bêtise: You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.

View from chateau de pibarnon
We are visiting our daughter in Miami, so I have prepared this re-run for you. I hope it makes you laugh! Photo taken at the beautiful Château de Pibarnon, where our story begins....

Today's Word: une bêtise

    : a mistake, something stupid, something foolish

Improve your French pronunciation with the book Exercises in French Phonics

Audio File: click here to listen to the following French:
Faites des bêtises, mais faites-les avec enthousiasme. -Colette
You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Recently, Jean-Marc and I had the chance to help out with a French documentary about how France is seen abroad by the ones who love that country. A journalist was interested in hearing my story, after learning about our Franco-American life on a vineyard. There was one little pépin, though: we no longer live on a vineyard; thankfully this part was worked out when a kindly châtelain agreed to let us film chez lui.

We arrived at Château de Pibarnon after sunrise Saturday morning, to meet up with Eric de Saint Victor and the film crew. As Eric had a flight leaving in the next few hours, we quickly got to work...

Eric chateau de pibarnon
Eric de Saint Victor and the film crew


There is so much about filmmaking that I did not know. Naively, I figured we would stay an hour or so at the chateau, then return to La Ciotat to shoot the segment about blogging. (I had a bunch of cookies, madeleines, and other pick-me-ups waiting at home, but we would not get to those any time soon...)

Jean-marc talks wine
Jean-Marc, sharing about the difficult decision to sell our vineyard

After 5 hours at the vineyard, we peeled out of the vines in time for lunch--and not before I had made a few cringe-worthy gaffes. Gaffe number one occurred after we were fitted with microphones and instructed to drive up to the caveau de vente, or salesroom. As we reshot that scene several times, I noticed a few things about the film crew, and shared my flippant thoughts with Jean-Marc as we waited in our car for the next Action! call.

They are such a nice team, I began, buckling my seatbelt and chatting with Jean-Marc who was at the wheel. Everyone is so friendly! But I don't think the journalist and the cameraman are getting along... I grinned. 

That's when Jean-Marc looked over at me, matched my grin, and pointed to my microphone. The one I'd forgotten all about and it was recording away....

No time to die of embarrassment, the cameraman and the journalist (wearing headphones...) signaled in unison now for us to drive, and the filming began again, only this time my face was flushed red. Creeping out of the car after the scene was over, I rejoined the film crew. The soundman (wearing headphones...) discreetly pointed out to me: You have a mute button on that little box (in your pocket) if you need it....

I smiled profusely at him and the other two professionals (my eyes pleading forgiveness). Thankfully punishment came quickly enough and I could pay for my chatty sin with the following humiliation, which garnered from the others, I hope, a good inward laugh...at my expense this time.

This happened after I finally got to the restroom after holding it all morning. Once inside the WC, I tore off half my outfit only to discover the dreaded microphone in full volume recording...

A big dilemma ensued: to pee or not to pee? But oh! oh! I had to go!

Not wanting so much as one tinkle to be recorded (and imagining the upcoming remix or montage), I searched desperately for the mute button--and could not find it! I tried ripping the cord out of the unit but became confused by technology (so badly I had to faire pipi). In a last-ditch effort, I gagged the little microphone from hell, the little tattletale, with the help of my wool blazer.

And I promise to pull the wool over my own lips, next time I get the urge to gossip!! 

--
Many thanks to the very kind (and good-humored!) film crew. I will share more about the production and team members when the documentary comes out. Jean-Marc and I are one of many to participate in it...at least I hope to appear in it...after today's little story!

UPDATE: By springtime, I received an email from the director who informed me that our segment of the documentary was cut. All footage of Jean-Marc and me ended up on the cutting room floor. At this point, I'd be relieved to learn it was my recording gaffe that got us there. But I have a sinking feeling that when the camera began to roll, more bêtises ensued which makes me think I'd better stick to writing and stay away from filming!

FRENCH VOCABULARY

une bêtise = a stupid thing
une gaffe = a blunder
compte-rendu = an account of something, a report
la mise-en-scène = staging
le pépin = glitch, snag, mishap
le châtelain = chateau owner
le caveau de vente = wine salesroom
le WC = toilet, lavatory
le montage = editing session

Kristi in cdp vines
Tinkle tinkle little star. After posting this picture on social media, I did get told not to let this experience go to my head. Rest assured that before anything has the chance to go to my head, life will always intervene (as in today's story of the latrine!) But if I ever get out of line--just call me Tinkle Tinkle Little Star.

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
 
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♥ Give the amount of your choice

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Culotté: a cheeky word for you today

KINDLE Do Not Go Gentle. Go to Paris

Travel with award-winning author Gail Thorell Schilling as she jaunts alone to Paris and southern France to ransom her self-confidence and learn how to age in her engaging memoir, Do Not Go Gentle. Go to Paris: Travels of an Uncertain Woman of a Certain Age.  Rattled by fears that she is losing her keys, her job, her looks, this 62-year-old American with a little French and less money transcends mishaps ranging from botched connections to a fickle sweetheart. Her travels expose her to the wisdom of feisty Frenchwomen, still vital in elder years. Joie de vivre, she learns, has no expiration date. Click here to order the book, Worldwide distribution via Amazon.


Today's Word: culotté (koo-loh-tay)

    : cheeky, daring, sassy

Sound File: listen to Jean-Marc read the example sentence from Larousse.fr

Culotté, cela veut dire "avoir du culot, être effronté ; manifester cet état d'esprit : C'est plutôt culotté de venir sans être invité." Culotté, it means "to be cheeky, to be daring; to manifest this state of mind: It is rather cheeky to come without being invited."


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Robot Panties (or Les Culottes en Fer)

By now we are all familiar with the automated side of life, as increasingly machines replace people. But do you ever wonder how Old France is faring in this new world? In the past week, I've been surprised by the degree to which public areas are automated--from fast food to fast doctors we are going to have to have more than steel nerves to function in the coming robotic world....

For now, we must resist while we can.

On our way home from the Alps, I agreed we could stop at Mac Do (as they call it here) on one condition: we would not do the drive-through but would go inside, sit down and eat our lunch (with linens if possible...). This intention to slow down was foiled when we encountered the computerized self-service stations where extra seating used to be. Taking a deep breath, I searched for the "Royale" burger I had the last time I was here (a year ago?). Not finding it, I went to the front counter to order from a human, only to learn that was impossible. All of the registers had been removed, and the counter now served as a barrier. It wouldn't be the first barrier we would run into....

Arriving home a few hours later, I unpacked in time to accompany Mom to the doctor. At the medical center I searched for a secretary when another patient pointed to a dull gray tablet near the exit. Studying the screen I was explaining to Mom how to use the computerized check-in when we ran into another pépin: the instructions were, of course, in French.

"Don't worry Mom. If you ever have to come here alone somebody will help you!" I assured her. With that I offered a pleading look to the two patients, who smiled in solidarity.

From there Mom and I went grocery shopping only for one of us to become frustrated upon learning that every fruit/veg had to be weighed electronically and self-labeled. My feisty Mamacita, having moved here from Mexico (where she had only to reach out her kitchen window to pick papayas) returned everything to the bins and grabbed a prepackaged sack of pears. Harrumph (well, I'll say harrumph. Mom exclaimed a much more colorful word!). If this automated society is challenging for the French, it is baffling for immigrants. Thankfully we aliens could stick together on this changing planet.

On the way to the checkout, we were eager to pay and leave only to learn no humans were available (owing to a broken cash register. The newly remodeled store put in two cash registers and five self-checkouts... Mom and I headed to the second register, only to find it abandoned; we would have to use the self check-out stations. Knowing this would take a while (our motley duo attempted self check last time. If you think weighing 3 apples back at the produce section was complicated, try typing in 46 tiny digits when the scan code doesn't work). Taking another deep breath, I asked if they had a public bathroom (a pressing question since arriving to the store 45 minutes earlier...). Non, the manager smiled, they did not. Now I ask you, who smiles when delivering bad news if not a robot? Which leads me to the point I am trying to make....

Looking around the shiny new store (which included a beverage stand and snacks for sale), I wondered how it was possible to put so much effort into supermarket efficiency and so little thought into human beings? You might say the company's decision to forgo a public restroom was culotté --cheeky on their part!  Humor aside, I (and my bladder) can't help but think: In order to keep up with this futuristic society, we'll need more than nerves of steel, we may need robot panties!  

*    *    *
I leave you with an image of Mom, in her favorite place to shop--the farmers market. The warmth and conviviality cannot be weighed or labeled with a machine. And (at this one, in St Cyr-sur-Mer) the public toilettes are at the end of the leafy lane. :-)

IMG_20150526_115447

FRENCH VOCABULARY
Mac Do
= Mc Donald's
les culottes
= panties, underpants, knickers
le fer
= iron
le pépin = glitch, hitch, snag
culotté
= cheeky
les toilettes (nfpl)
= restrooms, bathrooms

Improve your French pronunciation with the book Exercises in French Phonics

Rainbow in La Ciotat
Thank you very much for reading these stories, especially via email. Each week, more people sign off the email listserver--yet another sign of the changing times. It is a crowded world out there and a chaotic inbox only makes it more overwhelming. So merci encore for hanging on, for being a subscriber to this journal. Without you I would not be writing. I leave you with a rainbow, un arc-en-ciel, spotted here in La Ciotat a few weeks ago. I am leaving, now, to visit our daughter in Miami, and hope to post some photos on my Instagram if you would like to follow me there.

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
 
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♥ Give $25    
♥ Give the amount of your choice

To purchase our book-in-progress, click here.


Cheri, did you pay the water bill? Two breakdowns in the Alps....

PastedGraphic-2
Find your “joie de vivre” in Provence this summer on our small group tour. Unpack at the villa and become a “local” in our little French village. We offer daily excursions to historical sites, (this year Nimes), the best markets, a private wine tasting/tour and to our secret lavender fields. At Lavender and Vine we make it easy for you to feel at home in Provence.


Today's word (posted in 2004): en panne

    : broken down, out of order


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Last winter Jean-Marc and I bought a tiny chalet in the Alps--so small the previous owners named it "Blanche Neige". So far, we have only tested 3 nains (when Jean-Marc, our son, Max, and friend Jorge went skiing early January). I stayed home, leaving the man trio to share the loft upstairs and the lilliputian quarters below.

This past weekend, Jean-Marc and I drove the 3.5 hours from La Ciotat to Serre Chevalier, to spend time at Blanche Neige and to be with our friends. After a nerve-racking drive in rain and in slippery ice, we made it to the mountains after dark, only to hike past the snow that had made a 3 ft wall in front of the stone cabin. What a relief to make it inside and to light a fire in the poêle à bois before taking hot showers and tucking into bed beneath the rafters.  The next day and night went well, more hot showers and enough water to boil pasta... but on Sunday morning we woke up to a worrisome panne....

I noticed it when I tried to flush the toilet. No water. No water, no flush. In the bathroom, one room over, I turned on the faucet. A few drops came out, et c'est tout! 

Returning to the loft, I made my way over to the mattress on the floor and crawled back into bed. "On a un petit problème," I informed Jean-Marc, who then began to cite a few possibilities, including our facture d'eau.

Did he just say he didn't pay the water bill?

Little stone cabin

I looked outside the windows to snow flurries and an icy winter white scene. It was freezing out and there would be no hot shower this morning. And who knew what else was in store? No water meant no coffee, no tea, no porridge. (Porridge may be an exaggeration, but it adds drama don't you think? Oatmeal sounds so boring. Both, however, require WATER!)

Back to the unpaid water bill (if this indeed is the culprit), the old Kristi would have been fuming inside. But the new Kristi (after 25 years of marriage...) stayed calm and reached for the bottle of Evian beside Jean-Marc's side of the bed. With the few ounces of water that remained, I carefully washed my hands. As for my late-to-pay-the-water-bill husband, if he was thirsty he could drink wine! But I needed to have clean hands--the least amount of comfort given the situation we were in!

We maneuvered our way out of the loft (some ducking, some squatting to get past the wooden beams beneath which we sleep). There in the one-room pièce below Jean-Marc opened a door on the floor and entered the cellar below. After fidgeting with the robinet he asked me to turn on the faucet in the kitchen sink. Nada. Pas une goutte.

Jean-marc calling for help
Jean-Marc, calling the water company


Around this time we heard our neighbors' voices and Jean-Marc went outside to find Françoise at her window and, across the street, Jean-Yves was standing in front of his house. More than sympathizing with our dilemma, our voisins quickly flew into action. Françoise texted the emergency number for our water company and Jean-Yves sent over a giant vase of hot water (a treasure better than gold!) I quickly washed up (à la bird bath) and dressed--in time to answer the door. An agent from the water company had arrived.

Quelle image! Looking out from our diamond-shaped window I saw a character from another epoch. The young man wore an unusual béret: flat as a pizza and around the same size in diameter!

"Quel beau chapeau!" I said, greeting him. Remembering the varying types of bérets (I bought an Italian one (falls nicely over the ears) for my mom last year) I asked, "Is it Spanish?" I noticed his ears were completely exposed and I had a mind to pull down the sides of the flat béret and cover them. It was freezing outside! 

"No, it is from the French army. Ça s'appelle une tarte!"

Next, his colleague arrived carrying a giant cocotte-minute and the two descended into the cellar. With the help of a tank of gas and a blow torch, the men melted the ice that had formed around our pipes and the water flowed once more!

Trap door to cellar
Trap door to the cellar full of wine and icy pipes! (And do you spy Mr Sacks?)

That evening we invited our neighbors over for an apéro to thank them for their help. Françoise brought Danièle, who is lodging with her, and who is doing ski touring with our other neighbor, Jean-Yves, an expert mountain guide. Jean-Yves showed up with un fromage de tête (a delicacy consisting of various meats (ears, cheeks... all combined with a lot of parsley and set with gelatin). As we sat before the fire, chatting, I admitted to Danièle that it is so very hard to ask for help, isn't it? If I had been here alone, I told her, I don't think I would have ventured out to knock on my neighbor's door. I would have tried, somehow, to get by. (I can only imagine, in such a scenario, how things would've looked by day two!) And to think there are people who remain in similar absurd situations...all because they are uncomfortable asking for help. 

Danièle reminded me of the French valeur of solidarity. "Especially here in the mountains, in a far off hameau like this one. We all help each other. Never hesitate to ask for assistance--that is how it works!" On that note I asked our guests about the unusual béret the plumber wore, and the trio each had something to say, beginning with Jean-Yves: "Ce sont les bérets de chasseur alpin." 

"They were worn by the military," Francoise, said. 
Danièle pointed out that these béret-porting troops were the ones who scoured the mountainside during the war both to protect civilians and defend the border.

Jean-Marc added that, since obligatory military service ended some twenty years ago, with President Chirac, certain young men wear the béret out of regional pride and to honor tradition.

My mind returned to the picture I saw outside our diamond-shaped window, of the young man in his extra-wide béret. I remember how timeless he looked. The scene could have very well been from another time and place, except, thankfully, he was only here to rescue our pipes, and, in so doing, prevent a possible guerre des rose or war of the roses. Which reminds me, my hubby did indeed pay the water bill. It was time to thank him for that...only he was already back outside, trying to fix our car which would not start. Oh no! Another panne! 

***
Many thanks for reading. Edits are most welcome in the comments, below.

Jimny suzuki
And we had just gotten our car out of the shop, remember?

Soutiras beret chasseur alpin militaire
Le commandant Soutiras, officier des Chasseurs alpins, en 1939

FRENCH VOCABULARY

Blanche Neige = Snow White
le nain, la naine = dwarf
le poêle à bois = wood stove
la panne = breakdown, out of order
et c'est tout = and that's all
la facture d'eau = water bill, invoice
la pièce = room
le robinet = tap, faucet
pas une goutte = not a drop
le voisin = neighbor
quelle image = what a sight!
la cocotte-minute = pressure cooker
un apéro = pre-dinner drink
un fromage de tête = pork brawn, head-cheese pâté
la valeur = value
le hameau = hamlet
le chasseur alpin = mountain infantry man
Blossoming cover
Book birthday! Blossoming in Provence turned 8 years old last month. This book came together during a 21-day publishing challenge. Today's challenge is to ask for help (still so hard to do!) in getting this book into the hands of someone new. Would you kindly consider buying a copy for a friend? Thank you in advance. Time now to have a piece of cake and celebrate!

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I hope you enjoyed a little bit of French history in today's story. Come to France to experience the rich culture. Photo by my friend Beth, from her Lavender and Vine Tour, info here.

Max wearing his wool hat
Our son Max, wearing another timeless hat: after the authentic béret, here's a men's newsboy cap, (more styles here). 

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
 
♥ Give $10    
♥ Give $25    
♥ Give the amount of your choice

To purchase our book-in-progress, click here.


Voir: An assumption...followed by an unforgettable encounter

Patricia Sands book Drawing Lessons
A New Year's sale from Amazon! The spirit of van Gogh lives on the pages of this touching story set in Arles and the intriguing Camargue." Follow Patricia at www.patriciasandsauthor.com or on Instagram

Today's Word: voir

    : to see, watch, look at

voir la vie en rose = to look on the bright side

Audio: Listen to Jean-Marc read the following:
La marque constante de la sagesse est de voir le miraculeux dans le banal. The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE  by Kristi Espinasse

On another of those eye-opening walks (whether for the sunset or the beauty in an encounter) Mom and I were once again enchanted by strangers.

We were halfway along our favorite sentier, when two figures appeared on the horizon. As the couple came into focus, I saw her headscarf and glimpsed his long beard. Malgré moi, my mind interpreted the incoming data:

headscarf + long beard = formal religion observed

Acting out of what I believed was respect, I smiled at the woman but carefully avoided eye contact with the man. Don't ask how I came up with such a protocol, except it was loosely based on a conversation with a North African friend who wore the same modest headscarf: "Men and women," she explained, "unless married, are not to be alone in the same car."

Surely there were exceptions to la règle. I don't doubt she could drive with her father or her son or her nephew or cousin. There was so much to learn about my friend's culture and I enjoyed those days, sipping coffee with her in my kitchen, sharing our faiths.

Meantime, back to the future, Mom and I weren't in a car, but I didn't want to take any chances and end up crossing some sort of invisible boundary when the couple, now a few feet ahead of us, passed. As Mom was unusually quiet tonight, chances were low she would strike up a conversation with the les inconnus--even if it is her joy to do so. We were just about to pass the couple, honorably so, when the unexpected happened....

The man suddenly lunged at us! Flailing an invisible sword through the air, he shouted something unintelligible.

I think Mom caught on before I did, recognizing the man's mock sparring. Turns out he was only pointing out--in a most illustrative way--my own headdress: a wide-brimmed black felt hat.

Confused, I looked at my mom who smiled back playfully at the man with the beard. Mimicking his comic gesture: she swept her own invisible sword back and forth, fashioning a "Z" in the air.

"Zorro!" She said, repeating the man's unintelligible word (or one that hadn't made sense moments ago).

Reaching for my hat, I remembered what it looked like and sure enough--along with my black jeans and black coat, it all brought to mind that sword-swinging character.

"Oui, oui, Zorro!" I laughed, looking the bearded-man directly in the eyes, breaking whatever assumptions and oddly-concocted conclusions I had drawn, letting him know his humor was spot on. Touché!

*    *    *

I leave you with a picture of my funloving Mom as she is wearing a similar hat to the one I had on that day. Enjoy, and remember: ne jugez pas un livre par sa couverture or you might miss a wonderful story! 

Jules my mom in front of coiffeur in la ciotat france
My Mom, on one of our evening walks. I have a similar hat to Mom's, only the hatband is different...see mine below.
 
FRENCH VOCABULARY
le sentier = path
malgré moi (malgré soi) = involuntarily
la règle = rule
les inconnus = the strangers
touché! = you win!
ne jugez pas un livre par sa couverture = don't judge a book by its cover
qui sait = who knows

For more French phrases, try The Penguin French Phrase Book.

Kristi black felt hat backpack
Zorro? I wear wide-brimmed hats in the winter to help keep the bright sun off my face. Mom wears hers because it keeps her warm and she likes the style. Check out these felt hats and protect your skin, as I have to. And qui sait...wearing one might lead to a mind-opening encounter.

*    *    *

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
 
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An art escape in France + a little more vocabulary for you...

PPWT-2020

My dear friend Tessa is organizing more art escapades in France, discover the itinerary at Paint in Provence. Her colorful flyer, above, sets the tone for today's topic: art.

Today's Word: MERCURIEL

    : changing (mood), fluctuating, inconstant, variable...

Audio file here, Translation at the end of post.

Le monde est violent et mercuriel--il fera ce qu'il veut avec vous. Nous sommes seulement sauvés par l'amour--l'amour l'un pour l'autre et l'amour que nous mettons dans l'art que nous nous sentons forcés de partager: être un parent; être un écrivain; être un peintre; être un ami. Nous vivons perpétuellement dans un bâtiment en feu, et ce que nous devons en sauver, tout le temps, c'est l'amour. -Tennessee Williams

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Tess came to visit this weekend! She's my longtime painter friend from England, who calls tomatoes toh-mah-toes, says things like "mercurial" (to describe the sea), and calls me Darling  (as in Daar-ling, we must get together soon!).

We decided to have lunch in Bandol so that Jackie and Tess could see each other, too. Jackie is my 20-year-old daughter and she's studying art in Toulon, and waitressing on Sundays for some argent de poche....

Jackie waitressing at Le Jerome in Bandol France with abstract figurative artist Tess Baker
Note: today's story was written two years ago. Jackie now lives and works in Miami.

After lunch, Tess snuck around the corner, with Jackie, to stuff a big tip into the art student's pocket because in France all tips are collected by le patron, and little of it ends up in the pockets of workers. Jackie insists her boss is fair about this, but Tess wasn't taking any chances, having worked in French restaurants over the 4 decades she's lived here.

Abstract Figurative artist Tess Baker in La Ciotat France painting lessons Provence

After lunch in Bandol, and before our stroll beside the--mercurial--sea here in La Ciotat, Tess suggested we sit down and paint. Quelle idée!  

Sensing my fears, Tess had an idea. "We'll paint that lovely willow tree! Let's simply focus on a section of it. We'll paint those branches..." And the way she said it ("braahn-ches") kind of suckered me into this unexpected watercolor session.

My attention was scattered as I watched people walking by our house, sometimes slowing to view the artistic activity here in our garden. Not only was it nerve-racking to be painting beside an artist, but we now had a mobile audience. One of those passers-by was my 8-year-old golden retriever, who parked himself beside my chair. Smokey wanted to play artist, too! which reminded me: just play!

Smokey golden retriever red beret artist
Artist Smokey. photo by Agnès


"Notice the light hitting the side of the leaves, Tess was saying. "Now see the darkness on the other side. Let's start with the light...." Tess had already made several vertical brown strokes on her canvas. I hurried to pick up a paintbrush but it felt as awkward as chopsticks. And which one to use? Thank God there were only two. Mimicking Tess, I picked up the big one.

Tess was painting away with a shade of green...but where was this color green in the paintbox? A childhood rhyme came to mind, as I struggled to remember color mixing...yellow and blue make green... (or did yellow and red make green?) 

"Here, you can use the color I've already mixed," Tess offered. "Just start sploshing it on!"

I glanced over at Tess's own canvas, wondering what all those verticle brown lines were for?

"Those are the branches, darling," she explained, but all I could see (ahead of me) was the green of the leaves!

"Do you need to get your glah-ses?" Tess hinted.

Oh, yes! Mais bien sûr!

Still feeling ill-at-ease before the blank canvas, I bargained with my art teacher: "OK, I'll paint--but only if I can throw it away in the end!

Tess agreed and before long I was settled in. If those paintbrushes felt like chopsticks, the act of painting felt like picking up slippery noodles with these foreign utensils, or brushes. Why was this so difficult for me? I began to think about Tess's former students, and the wonderful works of art I'd seen with my own eyes. And here I could not even paint a leaf--not even an abstract leaf (as we'd agreed to do, to simplify).

"Just let go!" Tess said. I brushed aside all the torturous thoughts and got on with the moment. When else would a chance like this come around again? A little while later I was giddily painting right over my braahn-ches and trees....with a shower of crimson wings (red for determination? Wings for freedom?). Feeling more and more relaxed, I went to re-dip my brush into the glass of water. That's when I noticed how close the cups were...

Kristin Espinasse paintbrush watercolor abstract painting in La Ciotat France French shutters

"Tess, What are the chances I've dipped my brush into my teacup?" I wondered.

But my good friend brushed aside the worry, "Oh, I'm sure I've done it dozens of times myself. Carry on, darling!

And like that, we sipped our colorful tea, and painted gleefully. The tourists strode by and the pepper tree swayed gently, mimicking Smokey's golden tail as he snoozed on and off beneath the artists' table.

 *    *    *

Post note: Later, when I went to prepare dinner, I was surprised to find my little painting tucked into the window above my kitchen sink. Tess had set it there...in case I had a change of heart. I was glad it didn't end up in the poubelle. The little work of art was, after all, a sweet souvenir of our time together.

Pepper tree paints
Need a paintbrush or some watercolors? When you purchase your art supplies here, at Amazon, I will receive, at no extra cost to you, a small commission which helps me to keep up this website. Merci! 

FRENCH VOCABULARY
l'argent de poche = pocket money
le patron = the restaurant owner
quelle idée! = what an idea!
la poubelle = garbage

Drawing lessons

In Drawing Lessons (ebook is on sale!) The author of the Love in Provence series returns to the South of France with a poignant portrait of a woman who must learn how to create a new life for herself. Order here. Sale ends January 31st.

Abstract and Figurative artist Tess Baker paint in provence France La Ciotat pepper tree
my friend Tess Baker. Visit her at Paint in Provence.

Translation of today's French quote: The world is violent and mercurial--it will have its way with you. We are saved only by love--love for each other and the love that we pour into the art we feel compelled to share: being a parent; being a writer; being a painter; being a friend. We live in a perpetually burning building, and what we must save from it, all the time, is love. Tennessee Williams 

Horse rider mediterranean sea
Our mercurial sea in La Ciotat and a chance sighting I will never forget, photos here.

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
 
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Les étrennes: This French custom will have you digging into your pockets.

IMG_6674

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TODAY'S WORD: LES ETRENNES

    : New Year's gift, tip, bonus

étrenner = to wear or use for the first time; to be first in the line of fire

Listen to Jean-Marc read from FranceTVInfo.fr:
Avec les vœux du Nouvel An arrive le moment des étrennes. Vous ne savez pas à qui donner ni quel montant consacrer à cette tradition ? Ce don d'argent n'est pas obligatoire, mais c'est un signe de gratitude qui permet d'entretenir les liens avec des personnes qui vous facilitent la vie. With New Year's wishes comes the moment of New Year's gifts. Unsure of who to give to or how much to devote to this tradition? This donation of money is not compulsory, but it is a sign of gratitude that allows you to maintain ties with people who make your life easier.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

On Saturday Mom and I were crammed between the two folding doors of the telephone booth (now a tiny, free library brimming with books). We were checking the latest titles, including Shogun, which Mom could not read because it was in French. Helping return the book, I looked out through the window of the cabine téléphonique and spotted Postwoman Marie....

"Mom! There's Marie! Should we give her her gifts now?"

Mom suddenly confessed she had eaten Marie's present. The giant champagne bottle filled with miniature candy bars had been too much of a temptation, stored as it was for the past three weeks on Jules's kitchen comptoir....

We began searching through our coat pockets for some cash, for this was the opportunity we had been looking for... Tis the season of les étrennes! Time to tip those people in our lives who make our days easier or brighter. (And I certainly appreciate it when Postwoman Marie opens our gate and drops a package--rather than putting a yellow ABSENTE slip in our mailbox for pickup at the post office!)
 
"Hurry, she's getting back on her motorcycle!" Jules and I sped toward Marie, singing Maria Maria! 
Having caught up with la factrice, we showered Marie with kisses in thanks for her warmth and realness.

 Marie pulled off her heavy casque de moto, revealing bright blue cropped hair.

"Oh, I love the blue!" Mom said, "even more than last week's green!"

"Merci beaucoup," Marie smiled. "Attendez!" She said. Having accepted our gifts, Marie pulled out a stack of calendars from one of the satchels on her yellow motorcycle. "Il faut choisir...."

Mom was thrilled by the unexpected gift, and she thoughtfully examined the selection of themed calendriers....

Il y avait des chevaux, des champs de fleurs....la mer....

Not wanting to keep our postwoman waiting, I nudged Mom to hurry up and select a calendar.

"Oh, I'd better take the kitties," Jules decided, and Marie nodded, from one animal lover to another.
Our factrice put her helmet back on, only for Mom to shower her with more kisses. And when our blue-haired postwoman drove away there were bright pink kiss prints, les bisous, all over her helmet, and hopefully all over her heart.


FRENCH VOCABULARY
les étrennes = New year's gift, tip
la cabine téléphonique = telephone booth
le comptoir = counter
la factrice, le facteur = postwoman, postman
la casque de moto = motorcycle helmet
attendez = wait
Il faut choisir = you need to choose
il y avait =  there were
les chevaux = horses
un champ de fleurs = fields of flowers
la mer = the sea
le bisou = kiss

Jean-Marc bottling his Rouge-Bleu vineyard wine
BOOK UPDATE: Jean-Marc and I began our vineyard memoir last April and completed 10 chapters online. This Friday, I will post chapter 11, about the day Jean-Marc informed me he was ready to move on....

Our story, The Lost Gardens, is for anyone who has ever chased after a dream, no matter the cost (to relationships, to one's health, to one's peace of mind).  Click here to purchase and begin reading right away.

Kristi in telephone booth and smokey
picture of the telephone booth-turned-library from today's story



When you shop at Amazon via the following links, a small percentage goes to support this French word journal. Merci beaucoup!

French Country Diary 2020 Engagement Calendar
Embryolisse - a popular French face cream for men and women
Bonne Maman variety pack - a favorite jam/confiture
All European Travel Plug Adapter Kit

Jules my mom in front of coiffeur in la ciotat france
A favorite picture of my Mom, taken yesterday. More picture on Instagram, if you'd like to follow me there.



Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
 
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To purchase our book-in-progress, click here.


Cahier? Carnet? Calepin? Harness time, dreams and goals in a BuJo (bullet journal)!

Unnamed
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 Today's Word: une liste de tâches

    : a task list, to-do list, work list

Audio file: click here to listen to the following sentence in French 

Bullet Journal est une méthode d'organisation personnelle développée par le designer Ryder Carroll.  Le système organise la planification, les rappels, les listes de tâches et d'autres fonctions organisationnelles dans un seul bloc-notes. Bullet Journal is a method of personal organization developed by designer Ryder Carroll. The system organizes scheduling, reminders, to-do lists and other organizational tasks into a single notebook. --Wikipedia

 A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

I will jump right in and tell you what's exciting me for the new year.... BULLET JOURNALING! 

I have been longing to go back to notebooks for some time, but this year--with the ever-spiraling bullet journal movement--I am going to put pen to paper and dive right in to an inky everafter.... 

Fact is I'm late to the party. Though I won't receive my carnet for another day or two, l've already begun blocking some pages--and can recopy or tape them into the agenda when it arrives! For that is the very nature of a "BuJo" (BUllet JOurnal)--we compose and assemble it any which way we please! 

To begin a BuJo (it took a while to embrace the cutsey-trendy term, but embrace I have!) any blank book will do, but it is helpful to have a dotted, grided, or lined page. You then divide the notebook into sections...with an Index at the front that corresponds to the pages you will hand number. You will do that won't you? Hand number some pages and join me in this craze? 

More like an anti-craze. Crazy are we when our minds are filled with information: to-dos, appointments, birthdays, dreams and lists. What better than to collect them all in one space--and with doodles! Perhaps this is what sets bullet journalists--les bujoteurs--apart: the unique ways in which they illustrate their calepins

Because of this, there is a plethora of accessories available to the bullet journalist, or bujoteuse (feminine of bujoteur): everything from "washi" tape and stencil bookmarks to a rainbow of pens. But I'm starting with what I have, though I did buy a brand new blank book (with dots instead of lines or grids):

41Du3sQJISL._AC_SY400_

After carefully considering a handful of journals, I chose a purple hippo. I don't know why, must have been the confusing variety of choice or l'embarras de choix! With this journal (there are several colors and you can choose another animal (I got a cerf, or deer, for Jean-Marc) a percentage goes to the WWW charity. C'est bon!

Initially, I hesitated before the bullet journal idea: I already have an organized system in place. But my Google and my notes app lack that fully creative and visual je ne sais quoi that are a BuJo's raison d'être.

My reasons for beginning a BuJo include: wanting to spend less time online, the desire to focus on what is important (family, friends, this blog, landmarks) improve my chicken scratch handwriting, enjoy the hand-to-paper transfer of thoughts, and visually see the info in my head, organized and illustrated... or simply dumped out onto the paper....Indeed a popular page in a bullet journal is the Brain Dump, which I think sounds better in French La Vide Tête:

Brain dump
By the way if you are looking closely at my list above, that eye cream is not for vanity purposes... it's chemotherapy for another skin issue (which my doctor burned off the other day. Ouf and aïe, aïe, aïe!)

I also got a bullet journal (un journal à puces, in French) for Jean-Marc-- hoping it will allow him to continue to dream, focus and find meaning in the new year. I'm hoping it will be a habit we add to our morning routine of coffee in bed and reading. A few ideas he might use to launch his journal:

He could begin the first pages with the customary index, future log (6 columns in which to glimpse the coming months), monthly calendar...and then the fun begins via "collections" (simply title a new page with something you'd like to list or track):

-- Lists of places he has been and cities he would like to see

-- His dreams( I know he would like to sail around the world...)

-- A "wine finds" section

-- A Future Project or "Someday" section....

-- Health tracker, for running, biking, swimming...

-- And why not more of his unique inventions :-)

Also, he enjoys card games and puzzles: my hope is he will discover a game he can enjoy within his journal , something to quickly draw up and play (any suggestions?).

The list of possibilities is as endless as time--which gallops on! May we all harness it in, one page at a time, in the coming year.

The bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll

In books => Read The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll 

FRENCH VOCABULARY

le carnet = notebook, book

le cahier = exercise book, notebook

le calepin = notebook

la raison d'être = reason for being 

un journal à puces = bullet journal

ouf = phew

aïe, aïe, aïe = ouch

41O7joIFmcL._AC_SY400_
I also got this book, in French, for fun and inspiration!

scripture doodle
A scripture doodle! Good for memorization... and handwriting/doodle improvement...which I need!


Dingbats notebooks
Our notebooks just arrived! I'm off to plan, dream, and doodle! If you'd like to order, here's a link to Jean-Marc's deer journal or pick the elephant...or the tiger or...

Kristin espinasse bandol cafe narval
Looking forward to bringing my BuJo to the cafe in Bandol or elsewhere. Thanks, Tanja, for this photo via Instagram.



Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
 
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♥ Give $25    
♥ Give the amount of your choice

To purchase our book-in-progress, click here.


Regaler + Papilles + Coquilles?? The delight and downfall of our our tastebuds!

Christmas dinner

Half our household is ill after Christmas (was it the fruits de mer--or a stomach bug that is going around?). Before I return to my nurse duties, I will hastily post today's story (begun before the stomach storm). If you see a coquille (typo or misprint) I would be grateful if you'd point it out in the comments below. Merci!

Today's Expression: se régaler les papilles

     : to delight, excite the taste buds


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Mom said this was the best Christmas she has ever had. She seemed most excited about Smokey's present, a new collier or dog collar that will permit her more control when walking our 30-kilo golden retriever. Though I was busy setting the table, Jules insisted I come outside with her for a spin around the block. With Smokey prancing along, on his best behavior, it was clear to see he too was back on the road again.
 
Soon Max joined us, having sped up from behind on his longboard, in time to swoop up the leash and off he stole with our golden reindeer. What a delight to share a Christmas morning walk with all 4 generations (Smokey included). Without a camera in hand, our eyes and our minds etched the joyous scene in our hearts forever.

Apetizer salmon toasts citron cedrat

Returning home our Christmas guests had arrived and the festin began! It was my belle-soeur's idea to keep the meal simple, à la bonne franquette. Cécile was in the kitchen preparing trays of toasts with homemade tarama and smoked salmon--topped with the mild and tasty cédrat lemon she's been raving about. She also brought a selection of rustic cheeses. De quoi se régaler les papilles!

In the center of the room there was the Christmas tree and a bunch of colorful gifts (this year every single cadeau was wrapped with the help of a silk écharpe or a wool foulard, which amused a few of the members of my family)....

Max opening present wrapped in a scarf

"Where did you get so many scarves?" Max wanted to know. 

Laughing, I explained, When you are a 52-year-old woman, you have collected a scarf or two over the years!

Beyond Le Sapin de Noël, Jean-Marc prepared a platter of fruits de mer and later would make a tasty brouillade with those stolen, truffled eggs. And my brother-in-law, Jacques, made the richest chocolate cake you have ever tasted, and sentimental too, for it was my belle-mère's recipe.

It truly was one of the best Christmases ever, except that, as the saying goes: Toutes les bonnes choses ont une fin. Twenty-four hours after the meal, our guests began to be ill! It was either the coquillages or le gastro (which everyone blames). So I must hurry and end this story and get back to my patients! Low on blankets, I may have to wrap their chilled, fébrile selves in scarves as well. A woman can never have too many écharpes....

Kristi new scarf
FRENCH VOCABULARY
le collier = collar
le festin = feast 
la belle-soeur = sister-in-law 
la bonne franquette = informal, simple, no-fuss meal
de quoi se régaler les papilles = enough to delight the senses
le cadeau = gift
une écharpe = scarf
le foulard = scarf
le sapin de Noël = Christmas tree
les fruits de mer = seafood
une brouillade = egg scramble
la belle-mère = my mother-in-law
toutes les bonnes choses ont une fin = all good things must come to an end
le gastro (gastro-entérite) = stomach flu
fébrile
= feverish
cloué au lit = bedridden

Jean-Marc serving seafood
Poor Jean-Marc. He had no idea that 24 hours later he'd be cloué au lit, or nailed to the bed (bedridden)!

 

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
 
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Assumptions, insults, and stings: you can't escape these (not even in France!)

Joyeux noel

A very short and (hopefully) funny story to ease you past the holiday rush. Enjoy. The regular edition will be back after Christmas. All best wishes to you however you may celebrate.


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Yesterday in church I noticed a young man (35ish?) glancing at me. Tall, with longish, rich brown hair, he was a new face at Sunday service. After a few more of his glances, perceived from the corner of my eye, I looked back at the stranger whose regard met mine, with a smile. I quickly returned to the songbook in my hands, my eyes now glued to Amazing Grace.

Before long, and a couple of he-stares later, my mind began to interpret things in a most colorful manner.  Why did he keep looking over at me? Perhaps it was the new way in which I am wearing my hair, wavy and free? My thoughts continued along that (unusually confident) theme until I corraled them, in time to focus on the words of Grace Infinie.

Ô grâce infinie qui vint sauver
Un pêcheur tel que moi!
J'étais perdu, Il m'a trouvé,
J'étais aveugle, je vois.

Next we closed our hymnals, and I settled into my pew, to listen to the pastor read from John 6, and talk about the meaning behind the bread and grape juice we were about to consume. He spoke about how various churches interpreted the symbols differently (Ouf! I wasn't the only one interpreting things!).

Speaking of interpretations, Mr Glance, was at it again... This time, on seeing I was without my Bible, he handed me his own. Gosh, he was attentive and I did not know how to interpret this attention. But when after church the tall, dark gallant (can that be a noun?) walked up to me, I braced myself, preparing to flash my wedding ring! Instead, his words rang in my ears:

"Bonjour. I haven't seen you here before."

"Oh, yes. I'm new."

"What brings you to La Ciotat?" he smiled, but before I could answer he offered a guess: "...La retrait?"

Retirement???

(At this point in my story, I may as well type LA FIN, because it really was the end of any and all illusions. All those adoring looks, those attentive glances--were surely because I reminded him of his grand-mère!)

Mr Glance's question hung in the air and, not wanting to correct (and so embarrass him), I mumbled something about my husband bringing me to La Ciotat and hurried out of l'église. I was on my way to a special lunch to celebrate my birthday, which happened to be Le Jour J, or the very day!

(My 52nd and not my 65th--or whatever the age of retirement is here in France!!!) 

On a positive note, over lunch my husband offered another possibility as a consolation: "Maybe he thought you were a rich American who came here for an early retirement?"

I'm not sure that explanation soothes my busted ego. But it does get my imagination going once again, and suddenly I see a beach, a faux pina colada, and suitcases of dollar bills--seagulls flying overhead and a gentle breeze. There, there now. Just let those words float away.
 
*   *    *

Dear Reader, when is the last time you were stung by a comment? I'll never forget the time I wore an ill-fitting dress and someone asked me when was the baby due? Tell us about an aggravating remark you once received, in the comment below. I could use a good laugh! Couldn't we all?

Birthday 52
A little older. A little grayer. A little more thick-skinned. But no where near ready to retire! (Thanks, Mom, for the photo.)

Jean-marc and kristi
At least not until I have finished my story.

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
 
♥ Give $10    
♥ Give $25    
♥ Give the amount of your choice

To purchase our book-in-progress, click here.