se donner de la peine pour faire quelque chose

Fennel field (c) Kristin Espinasse
Cabanon and field of fennel near the town of Orange. Please note: the next word goes out on Tuesday!

se donner de la peine pour faire quelque chose

     : to go to a lot of trouble to do something

 Il s'est donné beaucoup de peine pour réussir. He went to a lot of trouble to succeed.

Audio file will return on Tuesday, with the next post.

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

Writing Lesson Number 1: Show up at the Page, Step out of God's way

Three times each week it is the same effrayant feeling. Today it was no different. Lying there asleep in bed I gradually gained consciousness. My eyes were already open when I found myself gazing at my husband's bare back. There were his deep scars (post melanoma), there was his bent hair, or "pillow head", there was that poetic point at which the curve of his torso meets the curve of his hip.

It is the most delicious part of the day, those fleeting few seconds of quiet observation--before thought ticks in, dispersing the peaceful moment. And they are the most nerve-racking, those seconds that follow.... when apprehension arrives. I turn over and peer out the porte-fenêtre, as if by shifting the body a shift in perspective will follow.

The position of the morning light falling, just so, on the grape vines, this is my alarm clock. I know it is 6:30 a.m. But the question remains: Quel jour est-il?: Saturday?... Sunday? Around this time my husband's alarm chimes in, with a hint... 

Then it hits me and there I feel it, beating at the walls of the soul's chamber! A field of butterflies begin to flap wildly and take flight. I am carried forth, with the papillons, to the following, undeniable conclusion: this is not a day of rest.... this is not a day of repos....

THIS IS STORY-WRITING DAY!!!!

The pressure is on! As a self-appointed écrivaine (when no one else is hiring, you've got to hire yourself!) with a self-appointed deadline (11 a.m. each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday)  there is the alarming realization that I now have 4 hours and 26 minutes to create une édition, one that will be automatically pulled from this blog's server and delivered to readers inboxes at around 10:59 a.m.! 

This is where faith comes in. After the initial panic (What to write? What-to-write?!-What-to-write?!-What-to-write?!) there is nothing left to do but to work. The words will come....
 
Panic subsides as I grasp at a few scraps or impressions, letting them continue to bubble up to the surface of memory. But how will the broken bits and fleeting pieces add up to a meaningful story? Temptation comes haunting--the temptation to throw in le torchon and just give up. Çela ne vaut pas la peine! 

That is when I am reminded that it is all beyond me; I need only to let go... and let the story set itself free. I am no more than the fingers through which the words will flow. That is my only job. Heaven knows.

 

 Le Coin Commentaires
What are your first thoughts each morning? Are you apprehensive or excited for the new day? Do you hit the snooze button or do you bound out of bed each morning? And what about self-imposed deadlines--do you have those too and do they help you to produce? Click here to leave a comment.

 

Do you want to write stories? Books? You can! Read and be inspired by "Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life". Buy the paperback or download the Kindle edition.


French Vocabulary

effrayant,e = frightening

la porte-fenêtre = French window

Quel jour est-il? = What day is it?

le papillon = butterfly (also, a fickle person)

le repos = rest

un écrivain, une écrivaine = a writer

une édition = (newsletter) edition

le torchon = (dish)towel

Çela ne vaut pas la peine! = It's just not worth it!


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The rocks on top of the roof help hold the tiles down when the Mistral wind blows! All photos taken with this handy pocket camera.

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romancier

Lace Curtains in Nyons (c) Kristin Espinasse
Some romantic curtains (spotted in Nyons) to go along with our "Romancier" story, by guest blogger Janet Skeslien Charles.

 

romancier (ro man see ay) noun

    : a novelist
 
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Romancier, Romancière

9781608192328[1]-1 My name is Janet Skeslien Charles. I am a romancière from Montana who lives in Paris. In 1998, I came to France as une assistante d’anglais. Like many people who end up living in France, I intended to stay just one year, yet me voilà – here I am – twelve years later with my romanMoonlight in Odessa” (Bloomsbury) just out in paperback. I feel very lucky to be a guest blogger for Kristin this week and hope that you will enjoy my posts.
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From 1998 to 2004, I taught in three different schools in Ile de France, which is what the French call Paris and its surrounding suburbs. One school was an hour away from my apartment. I spent more time underground in the metro than I did above ground in the classroom, running from school to school. After six years, I decided to stop running and work on mon roman and lead an atelier d’écriture.
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I wanted a mix of Anglophones and French adult students, but it wasn’t easy to attract French students at first. When I told French friends about my atelier d’écriture, this is how it usually went:

“I’m starting a writing workshop.”
“Bravo!” Emilie said. “Children these days need help with their penmanship.”
“It’s for adults.”
“Well,” she said. “Many adults could stand to improve their penmanship.”
“The workshop is about telling stories, not penmanship.”
“Ah, oui…”

I thought Emilie had understood, until she twirled her finger near her temple, making the universal sign for crazy. “You mean for adults who have problems.”

“My students don’t have problems!”
“No, of course not. I meant they’re… slow.”
“There’s nothing wrong with my students,” I said. “They want to be writers.”
“But writers are born, not made.”

Chantal was one of my first French students. She wrote beautiful essays about books and characters, describing them lovingly as friends. It was the first workshop she had taken and I think she was surprised by her own work and by the encouragement of her fellow writers. Each session, it is a pleasure to see people share their work, gain confidence, and improve their writing.

I believe that writing is a pleasure that we can all enjoy and that anyone who writes is a writer, whether it be observations in a journal, sharing our thoughts on a blog, or sending letters to friends. Musicians take classes to improve their technique, why can’t writers? Do you believe writers are born or made? Or perhaps a little of both?  

It is challenging to be a un écrivain, finding le mot juste, finding the heart of a story or an essay, editing our own work and finding agents or editors. Many people fear being turned down. As I tell my writing students, rejection is a part of dating, looking for a job, and getting published. I show them rejections for a personal essay called “Interview in Paris” sent to ten literary journals. The first came within hours from Boston, the last came sixteen months later, also from Boston, with a word of praise. The largest rejection was one page long, the smallest a two inch by two inch scrap of paper. Write, edit, get feedback, edit, send out your work, repeat as needed.
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It is rewarding to be un écrivain, finding the right word, finding the heart of a story, finding readers who love the piece as much as you do. Paris is a challenging and rewarding place to be a romancière. The city is nourishing yet full of delightful distractions. Here is my favorite kind: a café gourmand, a coffee served with three small desserts. Perfect as a small consolation in a moment of difficulty or as a reward to celebrate an unexpected victory.

Photo 2

My Belle-Mère was the first person to call me a romancière. We sat in her kitchen drinking coffee. She looked at me and said, “Just think, I have a romancière sitting across from me.” I loved the sound of the word. It sounded so romantic.

***

%2AIMG_3559_small[1] Janet Skeslien Charles’ debut novel Moonlight in Odessa was chosen by Publishers Weekly as one of their top ten debut novels of Fall 2009. It was Book of the Month in the September issue of National Geographic Traveler. BBC Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime featured Moonlight in Odessa for two weeks in February 2010. Foreign language rights have been sold in Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Italy, Brazil, Iceland, Romania, Serbia, Taiwan, Denmark, and Spain. Moonlight in Odessa has been awarded the 2010 Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance. 

Le Coin Commentaires
To leave a comment, click here. You might also help me to thank Janet for her behind-the-scenes essay on becoming a writer. To leave Janet a message, click here. Merci! And to order Janet's book, click here.

romancier, romancière = a novelist
un(e) assistant(e) d’anglais = an English assistant
me voilà = here I am
Ile de France = Paris and its surrounding suburbs; "one of the twenty-six administrative regions of France, composed mostly of the Paris metropolitan area. Its name literally means "Island of France", possibly from ancient Frankish Liddle Franke, "little France". (--Wikipedia)

un atelier d’écriture = writing workshop
un écrivain = a writer
le mot juste = the right word
un roman = novel
un café gourmand = a coffee served with three small desserts

DSC_0011
"Le Roupillon" ("The Snooze"): picture of Braise (left) and son, Smokey, taken last November

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avant-propos

Chaise (c) Kristin Espinasse

Pull up a chaise and let me tell you a little about this newsletter's beginnings... (photo taken in Nyons.)

avant-propos (ahvahn pro poh) noun, masculine

: foreword (to a book or a story)

 

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Sound file and Example sentence: listen to Kristin pronounce these French words:Download MP3 or Download Wav

Aujourd'hui, lisez un avant-propos de cette gazette.
Today, read a foreword to this gazette.

 

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

After the illico post, I received this request from Anne, who writes:

I am a French teacher "et bien sûr, j'adore French Word-a-Day!" It occurred to me today, as I was reading and enjoying your lovely photos of your daughter and your dogs, that I should require my students to read French Word-a-Day! I think they would love it, too. Any chance, that before September, you could make one of your postings an introduction to you, your family, your occupation, your vineyards - for those who may just be joining? (I think us old-timers would enjoy it, also!)

Thank you, Anne, for this request. I have been meaning to update the "about" page and this is a wonderful invitation to begin....

You mentioned a personal introduction... 
My name is Kristin and I have written this word journal since October 2002—the year I gave up the self-defeating folie of contacting magazine editors, daily, with writing proposals or queries. It took one hundred seventy-seven rejections (façon de parler...) before I had an inspiration: maybe this was the wrong path? Or maybe editors are the wrong audience for my writing?

DSC_0138
Making faces at Smokey, trying to get him to smile for the camera.
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Stepping off the beaten track for a mindful minute, I determined what it was I loved in life: France (I had managed to graduate with a degree in French... only I did not know what to do with it) and writing (the profession I had secretly wished to pursue, but reasoned that only "real writers" were permitted into that area).

So much for reasoning. I set out on a new path. My dog-eared copy of Writer's Market collected a thick layer of dust as my own guided-by-the-gut gazette—and the French words inside of it—began to be polished via a daily word journal titled "French Word-A-Day." Inside, I posted a French word and a story to illustrate the word (and in so doing re-ignited a writing dream....).

Since that day, I have not veered from this voie--a freer path. And though liberty comes with its own constraints (revelations! revelations!), there is nothing like being able to wake up in the morning and snap up the Moroccan jingle bells from one's doorknob—and wear them around one's waist if one so fancies.

DSC_0046
 

 


Anne, you asked me to talk a little about my family and our activities...

We moved to this grape farm in the Vaucluse three years ago, when our son Max was 12, our daughter Jackie, just 9, and Braise-The-Dog only 1 (her own son "Smokey "R" Dokey, in now the same age!).

In 2006 my husband, Jean-Marc, realized his dream: to have his own grapevines and to make his own wine!

JME in heaven
Thank you to "Wendy and Alan in Sicily" for this photo!

At the end of the month we will "attack" our 4th harvest. This year should be a little less chaotic, as the home improvements are finished (we now have doors and windows, whereas the first season we went without...). And whereas last year's harvest corresponded with the birth of sextuplets (on the part of Braise-The-Dog), this year ought to be a cake walk or une marche du gâteau. Well, we can always hope so.

***
Voilà for an avant-propos for Anne, who had actually asked for an introduction... a word that I have just checked in my dictionary:

introduction: the act of beginning something new

What a wonderful word: introduction!  I will try to address this one with each post: a new beginning. Thank you for reading! To share this word journal with your students (or friends or family), click here to access the sign-up form. Subscriptions are free.

Le Coin Commentaires
Questions, corrections, and comments are most welcome. Thank you for using the comments box, click here.

French Vocabulary
la folie = madness

la façon de parler = manner of speaking

la voie = way, road

voilà! = there you have it!

 

A Day in a Dog's Life by Smokey "R" Dokey

Smokey says: I love cake! And, thanks to surgery and bees, I've had my fill of comfort food lately. What's more, with the harvest around the corner, Gramma K  is experimenting in the kitchen! I hear her muttering something about "Perfection isn't gonna stop me now!" Stay tuned for some recipes... meantime, need any kitchen supplies? Remember, when you buy an item at Amazon, using the following links, your purchase helps support this French word journal.

Copper bowl
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Mixing bowl
Creuset mixing bowl.

<= Gramma K has big eyes for this one...

DSC_0012

We've got lots more stories, words, and photos for you. A très bientôt!

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy and look forward to these posts and want to give something back, please know your contribution makes a difference! A donation by check or via PayPal is greatly appreciated.
 
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illico

Jackie and Smokey "R" Dokey
"La Réunion": Daughter Jackie and Smokey "R" Dokey. So sweet to "re-meet".

illico presto (ee lee ko press toh)

right away

French synonyms: immédiatement, aussitôt, sur-le-champ (immediately), tout de suite = all at once

Example Sentence:

Il faut partir illico presto! We need to leave right away!

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

To the tune of  a spinning machine à laver, I try for the nième fois to write a suitable opening phrase. It looks as though it may take a while to ease back into the rhythm of writing after a three week "wandering off." (My family and I have been on vacation à la sicilienne.)

Meantime, I will try not to let so many false starts and rapid stops lead to writer's block. If there is one thing I have learned from writing it is to just keep on "applying," to plod on past the snares, hiccups, slips, and blips. Sooner or later a story will form, never mind how many times you trip.

DSC_0006

Meantime, our dogs are having no difficulty at all reinserting themselves into daily life here at the grape farm. The first thing Braise and Smokey did on arrival (home now from the Chambre de Chiens) was to plunge into this reinvigorating ruisseau, only it took some coaxing to get them there (one or two tossed sticks eventually lured them into the water's chilly midst).

DSC_0005

And with an electric blue libellule looking on, the goldens swam whilst an endeared daughter became the picture of fond.

DSC_0008
After the "bain de brook" Jackie and I scrubbed the dogs with bubble-gum-scented shampoo. (Smokey got the double dose, Braise, the one over).

DSC_0047
I leave you with a photo of Smokey showing off his new bubble gum scented fourrure before a sky of tournesol fleurs. Many thanks, by the way, to Uncle Jacques for watering all our plants while we were away. They look better now than when we left them....

Back now to easing into everyday life. I've got a second load of laundry to hang on the line and a dozen or so sunflowers to admire while there's still time.

Amicalement,

Kristin

French Vocabulary

la machine à laver = (clothes) washing machine
nième
= umpteenth
à la sicilienne = Sicilian style
la chambre de chiens = (a play on chambre d'hôte: bed and breakfast, in this case for dogs)
le ruisseau = stream, brook
la libellule = dragonfly
le bain de "brook" (ruisseau) = a bath (swim) in the brook 
la fourrure = coat, fur
le tournesol = sunflower
une fleur = flower

DSC_0043

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sieste

  Marais Cafe (c) Kristin Espinasse at www.french-word-a-day.com
 At L'éléphant du Nil (Marais, Metro St. Paul) I want to write wildly, tattooing words beneath the skin of sensibility until they tickle and touch.

Reading / Book-signing
I have told you about my amazing writing teacher, Sheila Kohler... and now some good news for those of you in Kansas... Sheila will be in Wichita, for a reading on July 7th at Watermark Books (7 p.m.). Do not miss her for the world. I am sure glad I didn't!

sieste (see est) noun, feminine

    : an afternoon nap, siesta

synonyms: un roupillon, un somme = nap,  une méridienne


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

"Salut marmotte," Jean-Marc says, bounding through bedroom. Judging from the brightness of the light which filters in through the slats in the metal shutters, I can tell the time in French: début de l'après-midi

"Tu dors toujours?" my husband questions, breezing by me.  

As with hunger and eating, I feel the need to explain my sleeping. But if I am "une marmotte" when I sleep, does this make me une cochonne when I eat? He might say it but he doesn't, because this is not how he thinks. It is how I think. We think differently. (I always think I am the guilty party.)

It is half past three in the après-midi and I am curled up in bed, covered, despite the heat, with a robe and a sheet. I like the gown's reassuring softness and am willing to sweat for it. Surrounding me like a halo are books written by the writers at the conference I've just attended:  "The Children of Pithiviers,"  "Kitchen Chinese," "Moonlight in Odessa," "Sorbonne Confidential," "Slave Hunter: One Man's Global Quest to Free Victims of Human Trafficking" and "Design Flaws of the Human Condition."

The human condition...

"Je suis très fatiguée," I explain, blaming the intensive workshop.

Jean-Marc walks back across the room, causing each plank of wood to cry out the moment he lifts his foot. With each creak, the delicious depths of sleep retreat until I reach the sober surface of sommeil. I am now wide wake.

Barefooted and clad only in swim trunks (it is too hot for clothing), my busy-bodied better half is mumbling something about cards... cartes de visite. He had collected a stack of them from the grenache symposium last week. Have I seen them anywhere? 

A grape symposium? The idea tickles me and I wonder whether some take grapes too seriously? Then why not give serious attention to siesting? Why not a catnap conference? Why not now?

And now, with lightness, in good conscience, and in peace, I can return to the guilty pleasure of sleep, when out the door my husbands walks, creak, creak, creak.

  

:: Le Coin Commentaires ::

To leave a comment, simply click here. Thank you in advance for your response to this post.
 

French Vocabulary

Salut, marmotte = Hello, marmot (a marmot is a furry rodent that hibernates)
le début de l'après-midi = beginning of the afternoon
Tu dors toujours? = Are you still sleeping?
un cochon, une cochonne = pig
Je suis très fatiguée = I am very tired 
le sommeil = sleep
la carte de visite = business card

  DSC_0094
Along Rue Saint Dominique, in the 7th (a.k.a. "Little America")



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Words in a French LifeBlogger Espinasse has taken a step backward in the evolution of media by converting selected contents of her Web log into a book. Beginning students of conversational French will profit from many of these brief entries, and supplemental tables of expressions go far to demystify French idioms for anyone wishing to speak and write more fluent French. —Booklist

 Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Spoken French

Got Nintendo? Playing My French Coach for 15 to 20 minutes a day is all you need to become fluent in French


Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy and look forward to these posts and want to give something back, please know your contribution makes a difference! A donation by check or via PayPal is greatly appreciated.
 
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entretien

  Paris Window (c) Kristin Espinasse. French-Word-A-Day.com
 Flowers from Paris...


Bedroom Paris apartment for rent. St Sulpice.
215 euros per night (min.  3 night rental)
                       Click here for more photos 

 

un entretien (ontr-tee-en)

        1) an interview 

       2) management/service (a car check-up, etc...)

(Today's word is not in theme with the story.... more later...)
 

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

"Born-Again Writer"

I wanted to send you some flowers from Paris and let you know that all is well. My writing class ended this morning, hélas! If I take only one writing class in my life... well then I have been lucky enough to have taken this one, taught by a living muse: Sheila Kohler. 

Among the countless motivational morsels, technical tips, and amazing astuces, was this one, the big one, the one that I have needed all my writing life: RISK.

(A note to Mama Jules: you will excuse me for needing to learn this lesson from another, never mind you have told me to jump off the writing cliff time and again. It has taken the heat wave of Paris to warm these cold feet. And now, as I stand at the edge of the falaise, it is a matter of right place, right time, right frame of mind. The fall is another matter (and we will worry about that "on the next page"). 

When next I return to the keyboard, I shall hope to risk a little... to rattle the repenting writer within and in so doing begin again: a newborn writer wielding a courageous pen. 

***

:: Le Coin Commentaires ::

Comments are welcome here.

 

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Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy and look forward to these posts and want to give something back, please know your contribution makes a difference! A donation by check or via PayPal is greatly appreciated.
 
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historiette

DSC_0037
                     Smokey, back from a romp with the ragondins.

historiette (ee-stor-ee-ette) noun, feminine

    :  short story

synonyme: nouvelle, récit
 

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

Last night I dialed up Mexico and listened as Mom picked up the phone at the other end of the jungle. I felt grateful to hear her voice and immediately asked whether she would like to hear about the fictional nouvelle that I had begun.  

Mom was game. 
Only, as I heard myself recount the historiette (involving a senile goat that wears recycled espadrilles), I realized--before Mom even suggested it--that I still wasn't addressing the muse... or was it that the muse wasn't addressing me?... or rather neither of us was "addressing" but rather "a-skirting". Quite simply put, we were, both of us, the muse and I, conveniently and once again skirting the heart's history. Whether or not skirts were involved is beside the point. Let's see, is there a point?

I think you use humor to deflect, Mom pointed out, in so many mom-wise words. 
Underneath the guise of comedy, lie your profound stories. 

I offered a few stuttered yah-yahs your right about thats. Mom was unconvinced. That is when she reminded me of a line she had just heard in a movie, words that stirred her heart, and maybe they would stir up my own in time to share a few true lines.

"You are God's Muse"

 "You are God's muse," Mom said, quoting the film. She left enough silence for the words to find feeling in my mind. We are God's muse.... 

Later that night, after the house had fallen to sleep, I somewhat reluctantly put my espadrille-shoed chevre aside, reassuring myself that the story could be told another time. I thought of Mom's words:
 "Remember, you are God's muse. Just fire up that computer, put your hands over that keyboard and LET IT RIP!"

I opened a new window on my computer screen. I took a sip of coffee, staring for a thoughtful while at the proverbial blank page. Finally, I typed in the title of my story. My throat tightened followed by a stinging in the eyes. Closing them, I felt wet lashes.

I looked up at what I had typed: only a word, only a heading. The title read "Naked". 

Next, I closed the word document and shut off the computer. I walked down the quiet hall to the bedroom, where I changed into my pajamas. I can't sleep without them.

  

   "Locked" in St Paul Trois Chateaux (c) Kristin Espinasse
 

                                          :: Le Coin Commentaires ::

 Click here to leave a comment, to share a story of your own, or to simply delurk in time to say "bonjour"... 

 


 

***


 

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remettre au lendemain

DSC_0001
Just learned that you can change Google's background image... with a personal photo :-) 

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remettre au lendemain (reuh-metr-oh-lahnd-euh-mahn)

     : to put off until the next day

Listen
Download MP3  or Wav  Il ne faut pas remettre au lendemain ce qu'on peut faire aujourd'hui. One mustn't put off to tomorrow what can be done today. 


  

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

One day soon I hope to have the presence of mind to write about the present. What if that day is today?
 
Well then... presently I am a bundle of nerfs. I am this way not because life has thrown a curve ball, but because I do not have on a glove with which to catch it. I don't even own a mitt and even if I did, knowing me I doubt it would be ready to receive.  Gloves need oil, something that would remain forever on my list of "Choses à Faire": 1) buy mitt oil 2) oil mitt....

Such procrastination puts curve balls in my throat. When will I learn? 

Because it is never too late to get back on track... I will exercise that goal of mine of telling you what is presently on my mind:


The inexistent 15 page rough draft that is due now! Today! Illico! 
Several weeks ago I signed up for my very first writing class: a short-story section
 which begins at the end of this month. 
Sheila kohler  I received an email from the author-instructor (her latest book, right...) this morning (cc'd to all of the students) with a reminder that the stories are due--and to "get them in as soon as possible so that we may begin reading one another's work."


The email threw me topsy-turvy into a flurry of first-liners, tripe that reignites my interest in paper-making (in which junk mail and other jetables are torn into little pieces and fed into a blender half-filled with water, to be pulped via a three-speeded mixer (the cool part is that wildflower seeds can be added to the mix, after pulping, and the future greeting card or stationery sheet can then be planted by the recipient! Talk about sustainable giving!).

But back to procrastination and those curve balls in my throat... there are a few others: French taxes, email (I owe you a big apology if you have not received a response to your letter), and a 15-year-old boy who will be voyaging solo at the end of the month...) but I'd rather talk about other things, stuff not having to do with the present moment and its pulpy, papery, anxieties. Perhaps this is a good time to talk about how to oil a mitt? Or where to buy leather softener (a.k.a. "glove stuff"?). After all, in order to catch these curve balls, one has to have a supple southpaw. Which brings us to a new mitty maxim: Never give in. Break in!

***


 DSC_0051
Lately I am experimenting with flower therapy: it seems the colorful, sweet-scented bouquets do much to keep the stressers at bay. A pack of wildflower seeds costs less than two buck (
order some), beaucoup moins cher que le psychiatre.  (Not to knock psychiatrists... only to pontificate on those perfumy preventative petals!

Dogs are said to have the same soothing effect: stress-relievers, they are also known to be good givers to those who are reluctant receivers.
 

:: Le Coin Commentaires ::

Your comments are the best part of this French word journal. Thank you for every word you share! Click here to leave a comment.  

Not sure what to write about? Why not share one of these:

Your recipe for staying stress-free or Your tip for anti-procrastination: or how to gets things done 
 

le nerf = nerve
les choses à faire = things to do 
illico = presto!
jetable = throwaway
beaucoup moins cher que le psychiatre = a lot less expensive than the psychiatrist


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Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy and look forward to these posts and want to give something back, please know your contribution makes a difference! A donation by check or via PayPal is greatly appreciated.
 
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brouillard

Sienna_italy
Monforte d'Alba, Italy. Photo taken over the weekend with this apparatus.


le brouillard (broo-yar) noun, masculine
  fog, mist, smog

La mémoire est un drôle de brouillard. Memory is a strange kind of fog. --Valère Staraselski

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

"Write it down"
 
 

Write it down while it is fresh in your mind, fresh as the hand-grated parmesan that falls over scalding hot risotto.

Write it down while it is thick, thick as the brouillard* that covers a patchwork of grapevines on the rolling hills of northern Italy in December.

Write it down while it is still chattering, like the wrinkled signores' "Bene! bene!" in the town square at Monforte d'Alba.

Write it down while it is strong, strong as the ink-black espresso that fills half a demitasse* at Marco's place in Alba.

Write it down while it is pouring, like the olive oil my husband splashes onto his plate for bread-dipping while waiting for the antipasti.

Write it down while it flows, like red Dolcetto* from an uncorked bottle.

Write it down while it is dark, like the winter sky above the foothills in the Piedmont.

Write it down while it is hot, hot as the bagna cauda* that bathes the yellow roasted peppers and halved onions in Renza's kitchen.

Write it down while it is passionate, like the lovers' quarrel that silences an entire Italian cantina but for the flailing lips of one Franco-American couple.

Write it down while it is fizzing like sparkling water, now swallowed (along with a bit of pride and an apology), at a pizza dive on the outskirts of Bra.

Write it down while it is funny, like the name of the Italian town above.

Write it down while it is sensual, like the lips of the kissing Italians. (Why do they call the twirling of tongues "French kissing"? You've not seen kissing until you've seen Italian kissing!)

Write it down while it is crisp, like the cotton sheets at Alberto's bed and breakfast in Castiglione Falletto.

Write it down before it is gone, never to return, like cappuccino foam at the bottom of a cup. Pop...pop...pop.... Poof!



                                         *     *     *
French Vocabulary
le brouillard = fog
 demitasse (or demi-tasse, literally "half cup")
 Dolcetto = a wine grape variety grown in northern Italy
 bagna cauda (literally "hot bath") = a warm sauce (anchovies, olive oil, and garlic) for bread and boiled/roasted vegetables

Audio File - Hear French: Listen to Jean-Marc recite today's quote: Download brouillard.wav
La mémoire est un drôle de brouillard.

Terms & Expressions:
être dans le brouillard = to be in the dark (unaware)
brouillard "à couper au couteau" (fog "to cut with a knife") = peasouper (or very thick fog)

 

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy and look forward to these posts and want to give something back, please know your contribution makes a difference! A donation by check or via PayPal is greatly appreciated.
 
♥ Contribute $10    
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songe

Songe
Our totally off-topic photo-du-jour: "Italian Wine Cooler". Picture taken in Alba, if I remember correctly. Note: no need to edit the photo captions. Photos will  not appear with the chapters.

Songe
 
(sohnzh)

noun, masculine 

   dream
          


A Restless Writer Dreams
When William Faulkner, famous American novelist, poet and Nobel Laureate, came to stay with us here at the farm, I offered him a fold-out cot.

I could have offered him our bed,
but, you know,
he got the other instead.

As for my lack of fuss
(no guest towel, no pillow, no spare toothbrush),
who knew I was hosting a literature buff?

That's when it finally dawned on me
that there, in a cap and a long white nightie,
was a 20th Century celebrity!

Oh Glory be, there were we...
Faulkner, yours truly
and several bottles of eau-de-vie.

"Your imagination is good," said he....
 
"But we haven't got all night,
so pull up a chair
and I'll teach you to write!"

That's when so many tablets,
not of stone...
but of wood chips,


appeared out of nowhere
to receive the writer's
savoir-faire.

Then, like Moses channeling words from above,
Faulkner wrote down truths on how to write without fear—
and always with love!

And though his words were addressed to a restless writer, 
they are dear to everyman—
so get out your highlighter!

Here is the wisdom that the prize-winning author wrote down,
on wood chips, no less,
for there wasn't any holy stone lying around!

He said:

"(one)...must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid; and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop [âme*] for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart..." He went on to say that it is a human "...privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past."


Fast, fast, fast...
I copied down the writer's words
but the clarity of my dream wouldn't last.

By the time I awoke,
my memory bank
was flat broke.

I was still the restless writer that I had always been,
without any special favors
from the man with the golden pen.

                               *     *     *

Post note: While the dream, above, was vividly real, the two excerpts, in the penultimate paragraph above, were taken from William Faulkner's acceptance speech for the 1949 Nobel Prize in Literature.


French Vocabulary

le lit = bed

l'eau-de-vie
(f) = brandy

le savoir-faire = know-how, expertise

l'âme (f) = soul

 

====Note: any text from here, on, will not be included in the book.=====

Your edits here, please!

Update! The format of the above story was radically changed (see the previous version at the end of this post!), following Nancy's helpful suggestion (see comments box). That said, I am not sure about including this story in the book compilation. Please don't be shy, send me your thoughts.

And thank you for continuing to search this story for any typos or blips or inconsistencies in formatting. I appreciate your efforts! Click here to submit corrections.

 

===And text beyond this point will not appear in the book===

If you love writing and France you may enjoy these books: A Writers Paris: A Guided Journey For The Creative Soul & Literary Paris: A Guide


:: Audio File ::
Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce these French words:
Songe. L'espérance est le songe d'un homme éveillé.
Download songe.mp3
Download songe.wav

Shopping:
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Related Terms & Expressions:
  en songe = in a dream
  faire un songe = to have a dream
  un songe-creux = a visionary
  songer = to dream
  la songerie = reverie
  songeur, songeuse = pensive (adj.); dreamer (noun)

 Here is the previous version of the story

A Restless Writer Dreams
When William Faulkner, famous American novelist, poet and Nobel Laureate, came to stay with us here at the grape farm, I offered him a fold-out cot. I could have offered him our bed, but, you know, he got the other instead.

As for my lack of fuss (not a guest towel, pillow or spare toothbrush), who knew I was housing a literature buff? That's when it finally dawned on me that there, in a cap and long white nightie, was a 20th century celebrity!

Oh Glory be, there were we...
Faulkner, yours truly ...and several bottles of eau-de-vie.
(Thank God neither of us was tipsy!)

"Your imagination is good," said he. But we haven't got all night, so, if you like, pull up a chair and I'll teach you to write!

That's when so many tablets, not of stone but of wood chips, 
appeared out of nowhere to receive the writer's savoir-faire.
Then, like Moses channeling words from above,
Faulkner wrote down truths on how to write without fear—
and always with love!

And while his words were addressed to a restless writer, they are dear to everyman—so get out your highlighter! 

Here is the wisdom that the prize-winning author wrote down, on wood chips, no less, for there wasn't any holy stone lying around. He said:

"(one)...must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid; and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop [âme*] for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart..." He went on to say that it is a human "...privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past."


Fast, fast, fast... I copied down the writer's words but the clarity of my dream wouldn't last. By the time I awoke, my memory bank was flat broke. I was still the restless writer that I had always been, without any special favors from the man with the golden pen.

In booksThe Bilingual Edge: Why, When, and How to Teach Your Child a Second Language 

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy and look forward to these posts and want to give something back, please know your contribution makes a difference! A donation by check or via PayPal is greatly appreciated.
 
♥ Contribute $10    
♥ Contribute $25    
♥ Contribute the amount of your choice