Old French "pointu" boats (c) Kristin Espinasse
Gone fishing. Home now. And so good to be back at work, putting words down on the blank page and watching a story come to life. Read today's slice o'life... and learn a trick or two!

  Capture plein écran 27072011 100956 Mas la Monaque - rent this beautifully restored 17-century farmhouse! Click here for photos and availability.

une astuce (ahss tooce)

    : tip, trick (or "recipe" for solving a problem)

les astuces du métier = the tricks of the trade

Audio File : Download MP3 or listen to Wav file

Pour éviter les piqures de guêpes, un vieux truc [ou astuce] de viticulteurs: pincer le bout de la langue entre les dents tant que l'insecte menace. Cela créée une légère tension corporelle qui le gêne, s'il vient à se poser sur la peau.

To avoid wasp stings, an old tip [or trick] from winegrowers: pinch the tip of the tongue between the teeth for as long as the insect threatens. This creates a light corporal tension that bothers [the wasps], if they come to land on the skin.


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

Uninvited Guests Guêpes

My family and I are seated around our picnic table, swatting at les gûepes that hover over lunch. I stare into my plate: no barbequed meats (the usual object of a wasp's lust)--just vegetables and eggs via a panfried omelette de courgettes.

It soon becomes difficult to eat as more wasps come hovering and, when our arms fly up and flail some more, eating turns into an aggravating chore.

"Tiens," our thirteen-year-old offers, wiggling her tongue. "Mettez vos langues comme ça." With that Jackie places the tip of her tongue between her upper and lower front teeth... and bites down.

Nodding her head, our daughter invites us to mimic her and, easily led souls that we are, Max, Jean-Marc, and I follow suit, biting down on our own tongues. 

Next, several slurry, inquisitive "Comme thahs?" exit our oral cavities as we attempt to speak through clenched teeth.

Jackie nods her head, slurs a mixture of English and French: "Yeth, comme thah". If our family were already guilty of Franglais, we were now adding a new slobbery dimension to our language crimes.

Tongues held tightly between teeth, we wait anxiously for the next invader to arrive. If Jackie's trick, or astuce, works... the wasps will fly off on arrival. The theory is that the tongue-in-teeth position creates an offensive, high-pitched vibration (undetected by the human oreille... positively piercing to the wasp's ear... hang on a minute -- do wasps have ears? Bon, bref....)

As with all sensational stunts, just as soon as the soon-to-be impressed audience arrives the subject balks. In this case, we four tongue-clamped characters are the audience, the balking subject being the NowhereToBeSeen pests.

In the seconds that intervene, Max, Jackie, Jean-Marc and I sit staring at each other, tongues protruding. "On n'a pas l'air un peu con comme thah?" Max voices our collective suspicion. "Don't we look a little ridiculous like this?"

Braise (brez) and Smokey, who are lying on the flower bed beyond, crushing the fragrant belles de nuit, look up, hoping to see something out of the ordinary, but, hélas, nothing unusual about the quartet of tongue-pressed persons with whom they share this circus, or "grape farm".

When another wasp-less moment passes, a light goes on in one of our brains:

"Thah marche!" Max declares. Then, extricating his tongue from between his teeth so that we can better understand his epiphany, our son repeats, "Ça marche!"

Only, as with every sensational stunt, the stinger-tailed artists appear in time to collect their accolades. And, in this way, we are once again surrounded by those annoying insects, who now interpret the flailing and swatting arms as high praise, or applaudissements. And, after that, as with all brilliant productions, it's encore and encore! Never mind how hard we try to boo the annoying actors off stage.


Le Coin Commentaires

Corrections, comments, or stories of your own are welcome here, in the comments box.


Capture plein écran 22082011 095958 Book Notes: I've ordered Sarah's Key and am awaiting its arrival! Click here to order a copy for yourself.


French Vocabulary

une guêpe = wasp

    => read more about guêpes in this story "affolement", in which Chief Grape's eye swells up like a cluster of raisins!

une omelette de courgettes = zucchini omelette

tiens = look here

mettez vos langues comme ça = put your tongues like this

une astuce = trick, tip

une oreille = ear

bon, bref = well, anyway...

On n'a pas l'air un peu con comme thah (ça)? = don't we look a little dumb like this?

les belles de nuit (fleurs) = Marvel of Peru (flowers)

hélas = alas

ça marche! = it works!

un applaudissement = applause

Thank you for visiting today's sponsors:

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A couple of tongue-lolling characters from today's story. Braise (pronounced "brez" like "Pez") is on the right. That's her son Smokey, left. 

  P1020013 Read on! Learn about la ruade, or kick in the pants, I received when helping my daughter at the horse stables. Click here for the short story and photos of the French horses!

We're playing a lot of board games this summer. And you? Here's a French one:


Mille Bornes. First published in 1962, Mille Bornes (pronounced "meel born," French for "milestones") is an auto-racing card game whose object, for each team of two players, is to be the first to complete a series of 1,000-mile trips.

Jean de florette And in French film, these two come highly recommended (favorites of Jean-Marc!). Click here to see the reviews.

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety