Drifting in French....(the vocabulary is in the story)

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Dear Jean-Marc,

Ha, you thought your birthday was over...but just one more thing before minuit: a letter of thanks.

Last night you said you had a surprise for me....

"But tomorrow is your birthday...."  

"Be ready by 9:30!" You countered, and though I tried I could not get you to cough up so much as a hint as to what kind of activity we'd be doing on your special day. Anything from lunch at a friend's vineyard to a glorious walk in your beloved calanques--was this a sea urchin month? I still haven't memorized the handy (you literally count the months on your knuckles) astuce that would tell us whether it was hunting season).

Don't miss the bus! You said this morning, and I began chucking all kinds of en-cas or just-in-cases into my backpack even though we might very well be going to the movies (but no, you are too much of an adventurer! I knew we weren't headed indoors). Pitching sunscreen, an extra sweater, tennis shoes and a water bottle and wearing a wide-brimmed chapeau, I followed you out to our car (ha! No bus! You were throwing me off track). Aha, you were also wearing your maillot de bain. So swimming might be involved....

As we drove along the coast here in La Ciotat the blue sea shimmered and white feathered  gabians swooped up and down the beach. Imagine that, I thought, our magnificent coastline was recently named one of the most beautiful bays in the world!

Oh, you've turned right...well, my guess was we were headed to the little Port of Capucins...to take our first ride in "Chrisline" (a traditional pointu--more about her later). You smiled, loving the game of leading me on.

After a detour in town in which we bought fresh daurade for lunch, we were heading toward our little port. Sure enough we were going to embark on the little red-trimmed boat! 

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The owner, Jean-Louis met us at the dock and after a quick rundown we were heading out to sea!

How close we were to the water in this tiny fishing vessel, a pointu just like the ones you proudly showed me when I moved to Marseilles in 1992. Since that time, we've dreamed of this boat...and now the day had come. 

You planned simple itinerary--an aller-retour to L'isle Vert... And as we put-putted toward the horizon, I noticed the ocean spray (really the sea, but does one say "sea spray"?) Well I was now soaking in it! Oh well, the pros and cons of a little fishing boat!

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With the help of many stolen kisses we reached The Green Island and pas un chat--not a cat in sight, but plenty of seagulls niched into the verdant coastline. We laughed at the memory of having lunch there, in the only restaurant on the tiny island (and it didn't have a W.-C....so the 4 of us (including Dad and Marsha) as casually as possible, filed past all the tables and, back to the dock (in plain view of the diners) slipped into the water for an impromptu swim! Ahhhhh! Never did a swim prove such a relief! Now back to the table for dessert...sly looks on everyone's faces except mine (which was as red and as embarrassed as the berries in my clafoutis !)

Having enjoyed that memory we talked about our dreams and our plans. That's when you turned off the engine and said, in French, "Let's drift." (Deriver, I believe is the verb you used.)

And so we drifted, the two of us, towards our favorite spot, La plage du Mugel. You pulled out two glasses and two different bottles. Sparkling water for me and Mas des Brun rosé for you. And we dreamed aloud, discussing a project-in-the works. If there is one thing that we love doing together, it is building something new--whether a garden or a vineyard. This time we are embarking on an entirely new path...or rather an outlet along our current path. And so we discussed the Day Tours we would like to organize for those readers with plans to visit France...

...Half-day Tours to vineyards, to calanques, and why not out to sea..on our little fishing boat?...

Just then your wine glass slid along the bow and the water began to rise up.... It's a little choppy out there, I said. 

Ce sont les moutons, you pointed out. The white-topped waves grew into a sea of "sheep" and our little boat began to rock....

We made it back to port, but I'm not sure an escapade at sea would appeal to everybody. A person would have to love the fine spray of sea (all over their body), and be able to relax when the sign reads "Pas de W.-C."....

Well, my love, we'll figure it out. Meantime, here's  to new projects and a new year ahead for you... "Mr. 52." 

Love,

Madame Pipi

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I hope Jean-Marc enjoyed this letter. You can make it even better by dropping some hints in the comments: Let us know what kind of Half-day tour would interest you:

1. A Vineyards Tour (visit one or two of our favorite places, and lunch in a café or bistro)

2. A hike in one of our scenic calanques, or sea inlets, and lunch (picnic or restaurant?)

3. A visit to one of our neighboring towns, such as Cassis or Sanary or Bandol or La Ciotat (which just this week was voted Most Beautiful Bay in the world!)

4. Cooking Together: We'll revisit our favorite family recipes and cook them here in our kitchen: La Tarte Tomate, Daurade au four, classic French salad (secrets, secrets...) and the classic yogurt cake. (Thanks, Frances, for this suggestion!)

....and, of course....

5. A ride in our Provencal fishing boat. She creaks a bit..not bad for being almost one hundred years old!

Thanks for choosing your favorite tour and adding any ideas in the comments, below.

For additional photos and videos, visit my Instagram account and be sure to hit the follow button.

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My French Garden and retirement?

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Today's words: prendre sa retraite

   : to retire

*.  *.  *

"You work too hard," my mom says. "You should retire."

Who? Me? Work too much? How could writing one or two posts a week make one a workaholic? Un bourreau de travail ?

*.  *.  *

Today marks three weeks away from my desk and it is beginning to show me something about the creative process:

Writing is 20 or 30 or 40 percent of the effort...

The other 60 or 70 or 80 percent is the "steam engine" behind the story: it is the words and sentences that file through your brain throughout the day and sometimes at night, no matter where you are--at home or away on vacation. What was the F. Scott Fitzgerald book in which two characters, a husband and wife, are at a dinner party and the wife looks over at the husband whose lips are moving as he stares at the ceiling?

"Darling! What are you doing?" She says.

I'm working! He snips.

The writing engine never stops completely (oh, the stories I've begun in my head since landing in the U.S. None have made it to the physical composition stage, and yet all of them have kept me occupied, or preoccupied).

I am not complaining about any of this, but want to highlight a little pépin, or glitch, about creation: It can slowly wear you down. 

I realize Mom is right, and now it is a matter of tweaking (I need to tweak the way I live my writing life).

My friend Kirsten took me to The Tattered Cover Book Store in Littleton, where I spied a humble garden journal. I've spent this morning (now back at my sister, Heidi's) sipping coffee and sketching my yard back in France: the fruit trees, herbs, the pond...even the bees. My niece, Reagan, shared her coloring pencils and the activity became even more enjoyable and revealing...

I had thought my garden had gone to pot, but I now see many of the plants are surviving the neglect. It gives me hope and a goal for when I return to France next week. It is a simple plan, and here it is:

Water. Tend. Visit. 

Water the plants and also the dreams you've forgotten. Lovingly tend the garden and the precious hours in your day. Visit the seedlings and other blooming things (new friendships, new interests).

I'm off now to spend time with my sister. We're going lunch together. Perhaps here in the beautiful botanical garden in Denver. It's a good place to dream and to rest before returning to my desk in La Ciotat. I have no plans to retire and, God-willing, will write until I'm ninety-five. More time to practice, to learn, and to share with you. 

Amicalement,

Kristi

P.S. Here is a link to the garden journal I bought. It has inspiring quotes and prompts (see below) on the pages.

I also picked up a book called The Writers Practice: Building Confidence in your Nonfiction Writing, as reading about writing can be helpful...when you are away from the work. 

P.S.S. Still working on my garden diagram. Click on the image below to enlarge it. MVIMG_20190321_094853

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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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♥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


Je vais m'allonger...

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Jean-Marc and I at The Bookworm of Edwards, with Hedy and Mark who surprised us. 

*.  *.  *

"Je vais m'allonger." As soon as my daughter said it, I knew it was the perfect phrase to share with you today.

Je vais m'allonger = I'm just going to lie down for a bit

This journal is on a little break, doctor's orders (actually it was my Mom who suggested some time off. And guess what? I'm listening to her)...so I'll keep today's entry short and sweet....

Je vais m'allonger, Jackie said, when she returned from work last night. She is staying with us at our rental here in Avon, Colorado.

I understand why she'd want to lie down at 6:30 p.m. I'd seen her in action earlier when Jean-Marc, Max and I visited her at work (she is a cocktail waitress at the Ritz Carlton. Voilà vous savez tout!)

Earlier at lunch, seated on a large couch facing a crackling fireplace, Max and I watched Jackie (dressed sleekly in black, wearing a Ritz apron) take orders from the family one couch over. The Mom was saying:

My daughter will have the tomato soup and grilled cheese. Can you make that gluten free? My son will have a large glass of milk...and I'm going to share the sliders with my husband. Also could we have ...

As the order grew, Max and I noticed Jackie was not jotting anything down, until finally she smiled and said, "Thank you. That'll be right out. Your room number please? (These three digits added additional bits of information, and now Max and I were really sweating it for Jackie (would she remember the gluten free bread?? Would she!), who now made her way through a crowded room to place the order--a few Excuse me Misses... along the way.

It's been thrilling to be here watching Jackie at work. And when we're not busy being awkwardly discreet guests at the cocktail lounge, we're enjoying being back in America and observing cultural differences (it is snowing here near Vail and I saw a woman wearing a mini skirt (bare legs) at the grocery store! I've also witnessed several men wearing shorts! You would NOT see this in the French Alps...unless an Englishman was there :-)

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A most-lovely group holding copies of my book Words in a French Life

Photo taken at Sunday's wine tasting and book signing in Edwards, Colorado (Thanks once again to The Bookworm of Edwards!). Jean-Marc and I were deeply touched by the encouragement and stories that attendees shared.

Whether you have read this journal from the beginning...or just signed on, I thank you for being here. It keeps me writing...and writing keeps me in awe of everyday life. (And naps help to process it all. Donc, je vais m'allonger....)

Amicalement,

Kristi

P.S. We will be in the States for two more weeks. I'm posting photos from our trip here, please hit the follow button and see the latest at my Instagram account.

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Enjoying every moment with my daughter.

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...when most of my family showed up at Jackie's lieu de travail...or place of work! And one more pic, below ..because my sister, Heidi (in green) was missing from the first photo. 

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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


Avoir un creux... Hitchcock's Blanket in France & Helping Tessa pack

Kristi Max Jackie Jean-Marc Espinasse family
My family and I hope to see many of you at the March 10th booksigning and winetasting in Colorado! More info at The Bookworm of Edwards. Click here.

Good news! Those interested in Jean-Marc's latest (American) wine "Ephemera" will now find a list of addresses for where to buy it here, at the end of this post.

Today's Expression: Avoir un creux

    : to be a little hungry, peckish

Try 2001 French and English idioms and some more useful expressions. Order here.

 

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

In the Golden List of Life Experiences I have something to add: J'ai dormi sous la couverture de Hitchcock! (I slept beneath Hitchcock's blanket!)

On Friday night, in a partly-converted barn in Lorgues--chilled from both the Mistral wind and from sleeping alone in the countryside--I fell into a deep slumber. It may have been the weight of so many couvertures piled on top of me, or the bouillottes Tessa gave me to tuck between the sheets--but I quickly fell to sleep despite all 'the scaries.'

The next morning I opened the creaky green shutters to a bright blue sky and to the immense relief of not having been murdered. My wild imagination was now being fed by softer scenes, thanks to a field of yellows and pinks: both the almond and mimosa trees were in bloom! I stepped outside onto a patio of giant pavers and went up the familiar stairs beside the old Tilleul tree whose leaves and blossoms I've enjoyed in many an herbal tea.

Hello Darling! Tessa greeted me in her kitchen, where the smell of coffee and the wagging tails of two little dogs made me smile. My friend and I looked around at the boxes we had packed the day before, and went over the game plan for the day: Let's start with breakfast in the salon, then pack the cooking and art supplies, then lunch on the terrace. And this, dear reader is some of what you need to know about my longtime friend and artist: delicious food, beautiful art, and the importance of meals beneath Cézanne's sky!

How quickly lunch arrived... Tess mentioned feeling peckish and I thought she was in pain (I myself had gotten a bloody paper cut from running my finger up the side of a cardboard box...)

(peckish = avoir un creux)

It turns out peckish means a little hungry ( I don't think we say this in American English?). And what a spread my English friend made, with pan-fried salmon over a bed of mesclun, avocados, and haricots rouge. Only Tessa Baker could manage a gourmet meal amidst the chaos and stress of un déménagement! I slathered salty butter over fresh pain complet and we settled in for a bite as the winter sun warmed the skin beneath our sweaters and jeans. Oh the feeling of a hot day in March! 

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Thomas looking down to the terrace.

With Tilly and Thomas and Bubbles (dogs and cat of the house) weaving in and out, we resumed packing. Tess has a lot of beautiful pottery from Provence and I carefully wrapped it in bubbles (not the cat...) although we used everything but the pets to cushion the china and the fluted glasses... 

You can use these, too, Tessa offered.  I was amazed to see a box full of fabric samples (for dressmaking? curtains? pillows?) in silk and satin and embroidered linen, each piece (of varying sizes) marked by a cardboard tag with information about the fiber and exquisite design. Ah well, they sure came in handy at a time like this... And how brilliant to be putting these antique threads to good use!

Having used the entire box of finecloth échantillons to wrap les faïences we turned to other possibilities for padding fragile items--everything from kitchen towels (both paper and fabric) to aprons to nappes and old blankets.

After filling a box with saucepans I looked around for something to cover the lot, when Aha! I ran back to my room to get that old blanket I'd tossed on the bed last night. Returning to the kitchen I went to throw it over the casseroles when Tessa's said, No, not that one. That was made by Alfred Hitchcock's daughter... and was a gift to my father.

I looked down at the humble blanket (it had reminded me of the afghans my Mom crocheted for me and my sister) and saw, in the afternoon light, the fine mohair...

As thrilling as it was to learn I'd slept beneath a blanket made by Alfred Hitchcock's own flesh and blood, had I known I don't think I'd have chosen this bedcover last night...when every creak and bump in the night gave me quite a fright!

*.    * .  *

Another discovery Chez Tess, was the beautiful voice of Ane Brun which filled the rooms as we packed. You might enjoy her music, here.


FRENCH VOCABULARY

la bouillotte = hot-water bottle

la couverture = blanket

un échantillon = sample, swatch (fabric)

une nappe = tablecloth

avoir un creux = to be a little hungry, peckish

le mesclun = mixed salad leaves

Tilleul = Lime (as in lime-blossom tea)

le salon = living room

le haricot rouge = kidney bean

le déménagement = move

le pain complet = whole wheat bread

la casserole = saucepan

More in Mastering French Vocabulary

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Tilly and Bubbles the cat. And, below, that's Thomas in the backseat and my friend Tessa, the artist behind the Paint Provence with Tess tours.

Tessa thomas

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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


La Cuve: All About Jean-Marc's (American) Wine "Ephemera"

FrontEphemera
Thank you, Jackie Hamilton, for working with Jean-Marc's design and then doing this wonderful drawing for the Ephemera wine label. 
 
MEET-UP
Jean-Marc and I hope to see many of you at our wine tasting/booksigning in Colorado--at The Bookworm of Edwards on March 10th, at 2pm.
 
Also, Jean-Marc and Max will be attending a wine dinner in Houston at Bistro Provence on 03/21. Reservation needed at bistro_provence@sbcglobal.net or at 713 827 8008. He will also attend a wine tasting on March 23rd from Noon to 6 PM, at French Country Wines, 2433 Bartlett St, Houston. Tel : 713 993 95 00 
 
Today's Word: la cuve

    : vat, tank


EPHEMERA by Jean-Marc Espinasse
 
In September 2017, as we had just moved out from Mas des Brun and when I was still grieving about the loss of this magnificent piece of promised land, Robert Camuto, who had already related our story in the Wine Spectator, went to interview me to figure out what happened i.e. my fiasco...
 
I won't say much about this "painful" experience (you can actually read it there) but, at the end of the interview, Robert asked me what might be my next wine project...and I responded :
 
"If I had a chance to make wine in Oregon … that would be my first choice."
 
As I had already done a wine project in another place (Rosso Azzurro in Sicily), I thought I could reproduce the same idea in OR where I have built such a wonderful relationship with many people. I knew Jay Somers for many years and decided to ask him if I could make a little batch at his fantastic amazing J. Christopher winery...and he kindly agreed to make this dream come true.
 
Here is how I made this wine :
 
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Tasting berries on the wonderful slopes of Dundee Hills
 
I decided to make a light, fresh and easy drinking Pinot Noir for many reasons. First and most important is that more and more I tend to enjoy drinking these kind of wines, made only from grape juice and no other additives/intervention (industrial yeasts, sugar, sulfur, filtration...). Those kind of wines do have a high level of "drink-ability" and you enjoy them with joy and pleasure casually, like wine should actually be, for me. The other reason I decided to make this style of wine is that I was hosted by a winery where I was not going to stay more than 2 weeks and I wanted to make sure they would not have to worry and work too much on my wine. In making this short and light maceration, I knew this wine could be bottled soon and then be soon out of the winery's hands.
 
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"Pied de Cuve" fermenting 
 
Jay sourced for me some grapes on the beautiful Dundee Hills Slopes, grapes that would fit with the style at which I was aiming. Those grapes would bring a higher acidity and smooth tannins. And while tasting the berries, I started to collect some clusters to start what we call in France a "Pied de Cuve" or starter. This is actually a little fermentation happening in a big bucket which will permit us to start right away the fermentation once the grapes are received. The reason to start the fermentation right away is because there is no sCuveulfur addition which preserve from oxidation.
 
Actually, wineries use sulfur when grapes are in the tank to eliminate the unwanted bacterium. Sulfur is also an anti oxidant which protects the grape juice from oxidation.
 
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My beautiful, impeccable sanitary Pinot Noir Grapes
 
Since I was certain my grapes were in perfect sanitary conditions, I did not have to use sulfur but I needed to avoid the grape juice oxidation and that is why this starter is great since it permits me to start the fermentation right away, avoiding any oxidation before this process starts since when fermentation happens, the grape juice is then totally protected by the carbonic gas produced.

Grape juice fermenting

I did 3 fermenting tanks, one with 100% de-stemmed grapes, one with half de-stemmed and half whole cluster and one 100% whole cluster.

During the first days of fermentation, I pumped over the cap to homogenize the tank and bring some air into the juice...


Pumping over the cap

 
But as I intended to make a light wine, I only kept the juice in contacts with the skins for 5 days and then shoveled all the grapes to the press machine.

 

Shoveling grapes and tasting the fermented juices

This fermenting wine finished its process without skins and after be racked to separate the lies, just a touch of sulfites have been added to protect this finished wine from oxidation during bottling, which happened early January 2019. As I am typing this note, I have to admit that I have not yet sampled the bottled Ephemera but here are tasting notes from Kory, winemaker at J. Christopher Wines and from Tim who created French Country Wines, an Importing wines business in Houston TX : Kory : "I really enjoyed Ephemera. The wine is bright and has a nice lushness in the mid pallet...light red fruited... strawberry / tart cherry. Lively and bright, lingering finish" and Tim : "Very fresh, bright & well balanced for such a young wine - thoroughly enjoyable!"
 
To finish this story, I can't help thanking Jay and all the people at the winery who helped me. Many thanks also to Eugenia Keegan and David Adelsheim who hosted me at their guest house located just a mile from the winery during the first week. Thank you Donna and Bill Sweat who own the delicious Winderlea winery in Dundee and who also took care of me when I was there, loaning me their car. Thanks a lot to Kim Dement-Smith from the famous Smith Tea in Portland and in memory of Steve who we all miss for hosting me the second week. Thanks Diana and Neil Goldschmidt who have been one of my angels in Portland, who treated me to a meal at wonderful place with a memorable 2002 Pinot Noir they made. Thank you Debby, Marc and all the Accuardi family who own the very best restaurant in town : Gino's. Many thanks for my beautiful wife Kristi who always supported me in all my wine adventurous journeys and who helped me in many ways to make this dream come true.
And my last thanks will be for the Estelle Imports team who will take care of the distribution of the few cases of Ephemera staying in OR (800 bottles) and especially to my friend of 20 years, Chris Davis who has always supported my wine passion.
This leads me to the conclusion of this post and a little secret that I will unveil now :

You think this wine is 100% Pinot Noir but this is not totally right. A few Syrah clusters from a vine planted by Chris and given by our regretted (he's passed away) common friend Jean-Jacques Clapie have been used for the "Pied de Cuve". They probably represent 0.01 % of the blend but they are so meaningful to me.

65 cases of Ephemera have stayed in Portland and are now in the hands of Estelle Imports. If you are interested in getting this wine, please contact Chris at mcadavis@gmail.com who will direct you to the best place, depending on where you live in the US.
 
The rest of this tiny production is currently on its way to France. If you live there or in Europe and if you are interested in getting some, please contact me at jm.espinasse@gmail.com
 
Cheers !
Jean-Marc
 
Update: Ephemera wine should be available in the following places:
 
Avalon Wines, 3115 NE Sandy Blvd #127. 
Tel : (503) 206-8589  
 
Division Wines, 3564 SE Division. 
Tel : (503) 234-7281
 
Providore, 2340 NE Sandy. 
Tel : (503) 232-1010
 
Pastaworks at City Market, 735 NW 21St. 
Tel : (503) 221-3002
 
BackEphemera

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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


Séréndipité: Meet-up with Kristi and Jean-Marc in Colorado: winetasting, booksigning, French-talking...

Bookworm of edwards vail colorado wine tasting author meetup books cafe

Jean-Marc and I will be at The Bookworm of Edwards on March 10th, from 2-5 pm. We would be absolutely delighted to meet you. For more information, visit this page...

Today's Word: Sérendipité (A bilingual definition)

Capacité, aptitude à faire par hasard une découverte inattendue et à en saisir l'utilité.
Ability to accidentally make an unexpected discovery and to grasp its utility.
 

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

My husband travels to the US every spring for his wine business. I usually stay in France to watch after les gosses, les chiens, and le vignoble, but now that our situation has changed there is leeway to get out and explore.

One place I wanted to discover is the area in which our daughter has been living and working: in and around Vail, Colorado. This wish turned into un but to reunite with other family members and I'm happy to say I'll now get to see mon père and my two soeurs, and une tante and un oncle of ours.

Next, there was an itch to meet up with friends and readers in the area, and just as I began to wonder how to make this happen... I received an email from one of Jean-Marc's importers, Zach, whose wife happens to have a bookshop in Edwards!

Talk about la sérendipité!

Mille mercis to Nicole of The Bookworm of Edwards for organizing a wine tasting/book signing event for Jean-Marc and me. We appreciate the chance to gather with locals in this beautiful café-librairie!

Bookworm of edwards cafe bookstore books read internet

Coincidentally, I was in this bookstore last fall... having coffee with my sister and a few friends. And even though I didn't voice my thoughts (I wish my books were on these shelves!) The Patron Saint of Bookshops must've been listening! 

Now if that Patron Saint would go POOF! and you all could be there with us March 10th....


FRENCH VOCABULARY

le/la gosse = kid
le chien = dog (read about Breizh)
le vignoble = the vineyard (read about our vineyard)
un but = goal, aim, intention
le père = father
la soeur = sister
la tante = aunt
l'oncle = uncle
la sérendipité = serendipity
mille mercis = a thousand thanks

Bookshop books bookworm of edwards colorado booksigning
Here again is a link with more information about our wine tasting/book signing event. Thanks for sharing this info with a Francophile or wine lover!

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Bilingual post & hommage to four young men who left us too soon.

Four bright stars above Serre Chevalier alps mountains
Stars over the Valley of Serre Chevalier. Jean-Marc took this photo on the way back from a quiet gathering to console our close friends who have lost their firstborn. Four young men lost their lives in the car accident early Saturday morning. The entire Alpine valley of Serre Chevalier is in mourning. The following bilingual post was written in the car on our way home from the funeral.

TOUTE NOTRE TENDRESSE
Une semaine après être revenus des Alpes, nous y sommes subitement retournés. Nous voulions soutenir et exprimer toute notre tendresse à nos chers amis Isild et Guillaume ainsi qu'à leur fils Edgar, leur famille, amis, proches suite au décès tragique de leur fils aîné Arthur. 

One week after coming back from the Alps, we suddenly returned. We wanted to support and to express all of our tenderness to our dear friends Isild and Guillaume as well as their son Edgar, their family, friends, those close to them following the death of their oldest son Arthur. 

Dans l'église "La Collégiale" à Briançon, aussi majestueuse que les montagnes qui l'entourent, nous étions plus d'un millier à écouter les témoignages d'amour portés par leurs* familles et tous ceux qui l'ont connu.

 In La Collégiate church in Briançon, as majestic as the mountains that surround it, we were more than one thousand (in attendance) to listen to the testimonies of love delivered by their* families and all that knew them....

L'émotion était d'autant plus forte que l'accident a coûté la vie à quatre* jeunes hommes , tous membres de l'équipe de ski de Serre Chevalier, tous âgés de dix sept a vingt ans.

The emotion was even stronger given that the accident cost the lives of four young men, all members of the Serre Chevalier ski team, all aged from seventeen to twenty years old.

Dans ces circonstances si bouleversantes, il n'y a pas de mots pour soulager nos amis. En espérant que tout l'amour présent lors de cette poignante cérémonie puisse leur apporter le réconfort dont ils ont tant besoin.

In these overwhelming circumstances, there are no words to relieve the pain of our friends. In hopes that all the love present during this poignant ceremony can bring them the comfort that they greatly need.

In honor of victims Serre Chevalier
During the long drive back to La Ciotat, we listened to the song chosen by Arthur's family. Love of My Life by Queen (click on the Eagle above to listen) had echoed through the massive La Collégiale cathedral as the light poured in from the giant entrance, sweeping across the crowded pews, gracing all in attendance.

Collégiale_Notre-Dame-et-Saint-Nicolas_de_BriançonImage Par LPLT — Travail personnel, CC BY-SA 3.0

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Something 'Pink' about the French (and it's not rosé wine) + coûter la peau des fesses

Valensole France paint in provence artist art tour travel group
The lavender fields of Valensole beckon, their heavenly scent entices, and the backdrop of the mountains make me yearn to paint them. Why not come and paint them with me? Trip/tour info at Tessa's site Paint Provence With Tess or email tessabakerart@gmail.com


PQ, immanquable, le coton-tige, peau des fesses...
(Today, all the new vocabulary words are in the story...so hup, hup, let's get going....)

Learn speak understand french grammarSchaum's French Grammar--for those who want a daily workout for their French! Click here.

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

"A French Quirk?"

One thing I began to notice after moving to France was all the pink toilet paper! The supermarket shelves were full of it as were all of the petits coins de la France: it stood out at friends' powder rooms, was inmanquable at restaurants and the rest stops along the autoroute.  The ubiquitous pink tissue (more polite than 'PQ'...) dots itself across l'Héxagone in one great question mark!

In spite of being the biggest Francophile in the world, one who put every quirk of French life up on a pedestal, I could not relate to the French penchant for le papier rose. And as soon as I learned that le papier blanc did indeed exist, I begged my husband to buy it instead. Like this, our house has been free of pink toilet paper for twenty years now.

But last week my daughter did the shopping, returning with a toilet paper value pack. 24 extra big rolls of PAPIER ROSE. "They didn't have anything else," Jackie explained. So touched that she had noticed this quirk of her mother's, I all but embraced the purchase.  But Jackie's brother downright hugged it! 

"I'll take it! I'll take it!" Max--my son and starving student--volunteered. "I don't care about the color--ça coute la peau des fesses! Toilet paper costs an arm and a leg in Aix-en-Provence!"

Et comme ça the toilet paper problem was settled. It would return to school with a very grateful bachelor.

Then yesterday Tess came over with a lovely group of watercolorists, including one of my readers, Valerie, and three of Valerie's longtime friends: Meredith, Marsha, and Trilby. I didn't make it to the store in time to switch out the pink rolls, and so resolved that if anyone would be okay with pink toilet paper it would be these artists - to whom color is a vital medium (indeed many artists, like my feisty Mother, abhor white! But I am getting off topic...)

As Tess pulled up to the house and I saw all the new faces inside the car, I did my best to appear at ease, even whispering to Tess, as her group exited the vehicle, just how relaxed I felt this time. But my body was showing other signs and, as I spoke my eyes and my nose and my skin began to drip..

Reaching into my pocket, I pulled out a tissue. Having no Kleenex in the house--and certain this friendly-looking group of women would take no offense--I proceeded to dry my eyes and nose and brow with a wad of pink toilet paper. "So lovely to see you all, " I sniffed. "What a warm group!" Meantime my body poured out its anxiety, drop by drop.

Once the ladies were settled before their paint trays, I hurried up to the house to check my mascara. Given how my eyes had watered, I was sure to find black streaks running down my cheeks. But I couldn't have imagined the real disaster when I looked into the mirror.

My eyes were plastered with toilet paper! There it was--my old pink foe--stuck to my eyelashes and paper machéed to the crow's feet just beyond! Even more alarming was the realization that I had been posing with the artists for photos...I with little clumps of pink TP glued to my eyes like far-out false lashes!

Using un coton-tige to clean up the mess, I rehearsed what I could say to my guests. But I never got the chance to explain. By the time I walked back out into the sunshine, to rejoin the warm circle of artists, I had completely forgotten about it!

And from this day forth, I shall stock my bathroom with rolls and rolls of pink papier toilette--and so honor the day...that yet one more anxiety up and rolled away. 

*    *    *

Tessa Max and artists paint in provence france
Max (who scored all the pink TP), Tessa and the artists on a Paint Provence Tour that stopped at our vineyard a few years ago.

FRENCH VOCABULARY

hup, hup! = allez, come on
l'autoroute
(f) = motorway, freeway
PQ = (vulgar but popular term) for papier cul (butt paper)
le petit coin = the toilet (the bathroom)
inmanquable = impossible to miss, unmistakeable
le papier = paper
rose = pink
coûter la peau des fesses = to cost the skin of one's arse (to cost an arm and a leg)
un coton-tige = Q-tip, cotton swab

Tessa and max paint in provence france artist retreat
My friend Tessa teaching our Max to paint when he was little. For more info on Tessa's Paint Provence tours in France, click here.

Kristi and max palm tree gardening hat
Doing garden work with my son Max and my Mom (behind the camera) is a wonderful way to rest the mind and the brain. Thank you all for the helpful tips you left me following the story Petits Oublis, about forgetfulness and memory loss.

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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


Petits Oublis: 'Forgetfulness', Etourderie, and verb conjugation (listen to it!)

Lavender tour
Experience a Lavender & Vine painting tour. Join our small group with professional instruction at the peak of the lavender season! 10% discount if you sign up in February. Rates and tour info here.


Today's Word: l'oubli

    : forgetfulness, oversight, memory lapse

*New: Don't miss the verb conjugation for oublier, just after today's vocabulary-packed story below...

ListenL'oubli n'est pas un ennemi de la mémoire. C'est un phénomène non seulement banal mais aussi indispensable, qui lui permet de faire le tri dans la masse d'informations qui nous parviennent en continu et qui ne peuvent pas être toutes engrangées. Forgetfulness is not an enemy of memory. This phenomenon is not only banal but also indispensable, allowing it to sort through the mass of information that reaches us continuously and that cannot all be collected.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

I am beginning to concerned about this latest series of petits oublis... so I've decided to come here to talk about it with you. I'm guessing a few of my readers are aged 50 and above, and will have a thing or two to say about the topic of forgetfulness, or  les moments d'étourderie.

When last I misplaced my key and asked Mom if she had seen it.she replied, Darling, you left it in the front door. (Was that a concerned look on her face? The walking-on-eggshells tone in Mom's voice tells me something too: Is it my mood again?) I remember responding in a nonchalant way, Oh, thanks Mom--yes, I was in the middle of bringing in the groceries, I explained.

And yet I feel anything but insouciant about memory lapses, forgetfulness, oversights, flakiness, and forgotten appointments that are becoming some sort of norm lately...

As someone who does not drink, does not take medication, regularly challenges her brain by speaking a foreign language, eats a (mostly...) plant-based whole foods diet, walks daily, prays and gets plenty of sleep how could this be happening to me? 

A few possibilities come to mind: as a ronfleur, or snorer, chances are sleep apnea may be affecting the quality of sleep... And then there is the anxiety that I arrange my life around--it is why I no longer drink alcohol and why good nutrition, sleep, exercise and, recently, therapy is helpful to me. And yet...

When I left the kitchen robinet running for 10 minutes the other day (the irony! I had been filling a bowl in which to wash mes patates...and so recycle the water afterwards!), and then left the oven on after serving the oven-baked fries... I was alarmed at the latest oversights! But panick doesn't help things, now does it? Peace, after all, plays a big part in a well-functioning brain!

So, dearest reader, please chime in in today's comments box with your own thoughts on forgetfulness a.k.a. les petits oublis. Meantime, may those of us concerned with memory lapse take heart in the following thought (whether you remember it or not!):

L’oubli favorise l’innovation, libère la pensée et stimule la curiosité. Forgetting promotes innovation, frees thought and stimulates curiosity. --Simon-Daniel Kipman


*    *    *

There are many tools to help with our memory--including the exercise of conjugating French verbs! Listen to Jean-Marc conjugate the verb oublier

Verb conjugation oublier

j'oublie
tu oublies
il oublie
nous oublions
vous oubliez
ils oublient

French country diary 2019
A tried-and-true memory aid is a good old-fashioned calendar... and this one is a beauty: The popular, beloved French Country Diary makes jotting down appointments and reminders a pleasing , mindful activity. Order one here.


FRENCH VOCABULARY
l'oubli = oversight, forgetting
les petits oublis = forgetfulness
une étourderie = forgetfulness, absent-mindedness, inattention
le ronfleur, la ronfleuse = snorer
la patate = potato, spud
le robinet = tap, faucet
insouciant,e = carefree, unconcerned, untroubled

St. P paint
Photos in today's post are from my friend Beth. Check out her popular Lavender & Vine Tour in Provence. A vacation (and all those heady aromas from the French countryside) will do wonders for one's memory :-)

Beth painting tour in provence

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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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French for peninsula + South of France Memories Tour

Memories 2019 logo

Join sixteen women for twelve unforgettable days exploring the beauty of the south of France.  Deborah Bine aka Barefoot Blogger and best selling author Patricia Sands share their passion for their favorite places with you. Spend six days in Nice and six days in Arles ... only move once! September 15 to 27, 2019.  Click here for details ... four places left!

Today's Word: la presqu'île

    : peninsula

Audio: listen to Jean-Marc read the Wikipedia entry below, click here:

La Presqu'île de Giens et les îles d'Or ont été les derniers sanctuaires continentaux de France à abriter, jusqu'en 1940, une population relique du rarissime Phoque moine de Méditerranée, aujourd'hui en voie critique d'extinction.


The Giens Peninsula and the Golden Islands were the last continental sanctuaries in France to house, until 1940, a relict population of the rare Mediterranean Monk Seal, now critically endangered.

The promise of provence
Inspiration for the South of France Memories Tour, Patricia's book.


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Avant-hier, Jean-Marc and I were tourists in a charming southern French peninsula called Giens. It's a place we took our kids every summer, to visit Jackie's parrain, Philippe, and his family who had a pied-à-terre there. Sadly, it was sold, but oh how the memories flooded back...the private beach, the barbequed mussels (Philippe's Dad's specialty), chilled Mouresques, and the decadent Tarte Tropezienne we always brought along with us to share. Here is a tiny picture of the private beach from when Max and Jackie were tiny, and already off on adventures...

Max and Jackie on bord

This recent rush of nostalgia was thanks to our son Max. Earlier in the week he helped me with some marketing matters (he's majoring in this in school...) and, in return, he slyly suggested remuneration: There's a kitesurf school near Hyeres...I'd really love to go... my 23-year-old hinted. Tu peux venir avec moi! 

A mother-son day off--how could I resist?


Giens peninsula mediterranean hyeres
When Jean-Marc found out he wanted to go too...

A 45-minute drive later, and we were cruising down the presqu'île and its familiar marais. Though we didn't see any salt marshes, the swampy area was thick with exoticism for us (residents of the straightforward seafront of La Ciotat). But here in the low-lying grasslands around the Mediterranean, you could sense all sorts of wildness--the wind being one of them!

Oh, ce vent! Il n'y a pas un peu trop? A young woman asked, entering the tiny kitesurf shop. I turned around to see the 4th participant in today's expedition. All the kite-surfers were around Max's age, and they were soon exchanging stories. Max was recounting his recent trip to Dakhla, Morroco, where he and Jean-Marc had the chance to fine-tune their brand-new kite-surfing skills. 

The group, wearing wetsuits, lifevests, harnesses, and carrying their heavy kites and boards, headed down to the waterfront, disappearing behind a row of beachfront properties, to board a speedboat that would take them out to le grand large--the wide sea in all its windy glory. Jean-Marc and I tried to follow along the coast, by car, hoping to find a gap among the string of private properties (including one that used to belong to our friends...). Finally, Papa Poule found a front row spot! (picture above).

We waited 15 minutes until we saw the four kites flying high in the sky... And there was Max's! Bright yellow, orange, and red! Jean-Marc and I shared some jumelles to watch the spectacle from our car, where the sun warmed us. Seeing Max dip in and out of the freezing waters made us cold just watching!

We would have been watching for 3 hours--which is about how long the kitesurfers braved the wind & sea. Instead, we decided to pass the time with a little sightseeing...

Port du niel
We began at Port Niel...and it was as peaceful as it looks! Here in winter, il n'y avait pas un chat! There was practically no one around. This made it challenging to find the pie and tea I was hankering for, but where there's a will there's a way. On trouvera, Jean-Marc promised.

Cafe brasserie le duc
Too bad this beautiful café (a Francophile's dream) was closed. We soon realized we would have to drive up the presqu'ile, away from the charming port, to find civilization--and pie!

Kristi and jean-marc
Me and Papa Poule. 'Father hen' stopped at every gap along the coast to look for our son, announcing, il est là! each time.

Book lending lions club
The next time Jean-Marc pulled over to search for Max, I staved off my dessert cravings by focusing on this little book lending library--a rare find in France! It was placed here by the Lion's Club. I'd love to ring them and see if they can distribute these throughout our area! Meantime, where's my pie?

Port du niel giens
It took a while but we eventually found pie and coffee at a commercial pâtisserie (even if I wash hoping for a homemade slice). I did not get a picture of the mini pinenut tart (out of 100 cakes, Jean-Marc and I chose the very same!), but you will find more pictures on my Instagram.

Max kitesurf kitesurfing france
From the look on his face, can you tell Max had a blast? Oui, il s'est régalé! (And that pain au raisin we brought him from the bakery really hit the spot!)


FRENCH VOCABULARY
presqu'île = peninsula
avant-hier = the day before yesterday
le parrain = godfather; sponsor
pied-à-terre= second home, vacation home
une maurèsque = a pastis with sirop d'orgeat (barley water syrop)
le marais = swamp, marsh 
des jumelles (f) = binoculars
il s'est régalé = he had a blast
Patricia and Deborah
Do check out the South of France Memories Tour, lead by author Patricia Sands and blogger Deborah Bines. I leave you with delicious photos from their previous tours.

South of france memories tour
South of france memories tour flowers
For more about the South of France Memories tour, click 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
 
♥ 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