il parait + video interview on French TV

winemaking Jean-Marc Espinasse (c) Kristin Espinasse
Out of the rubble a wine is born!  Jean-Marc gave more than heart and soul when he made his first wine: he gave his blood, his tears, and an alarming number of kilos. I talk about this, and more, in an interview about the organic winemaker on a French TV. 

il paraît (eel-pah-ray)

    : it seems, it appears

synonyms: on dit (they say) or  le bruit court (rumor has it)

Example from today's video:

"Alors, son vin?" So how's the wine?
"Il paraît que c'est bon!" I hear it's good! (or Rumor has it it's pretty good!)

Click on the screen below to enjoy the following 


Portrait de Jean-Marc Espinasse pour l'émission... par BrokenArmsCompany
I am sorry not to have a transcript, in English, of this interview. I hope many of you can understand what is being said. I know I had a hard time... which led the interviewer to rephrase a question or two.

Jean-Marc Espinasse (c) Kristin Espinasse

The man who can passionately follow his vision--yet keep his eyes soft enough to see what lives and loves around him--his family, his friends--that is beauty.

Tango
Jean-Marc taking time out of whirlwind winemaking - to dance the tango with his mother-in-law, Jules.

Tango
Mom was so moved by his gesture that she captured the image forever. "Tango 62" Can you guess what 62 means?

You have captured all our hearts, may yours be bursting today, Jean-Marc, as you celebrate your 46th year. Joyeux Anniversaire!

Jean-Marc with the Arlesiennes (c) Kristin Espinasse
Have fun--but not too much fun!... Untangle yourself from those Arlesiennes and hurry home!

Thank you so much for reading these stories and for the time you've set aside to learn a French word or two. If you feel you have learned more than a little vocabulary, here, and would like to reward my efforts please know that a one-time contribution is not only a great support, but it is vivement apprécié. Simply use the quick links below (they'll take you to PayPal). Merci beaucoup! 
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sacoche

St Tropez (c) Kristin Espinasse
In St. Tropez. Look closely at the sagging object my husband is carrying. Meet Mr Sacks, Jean-Marc's lovable sidekick, in today's story column. Note: the pictures of Jean-Marc in this post span over a decade. 

la sacoche (sah-kohsh)

    : handbag, saddlebag, purse, bag

from the Italian saccoccia, or "little pocket"

la sacoche en cuir = leather bag
la sacoche d'écolier = school bag
la sacoche à outils = tool bag

Expression:
une soirée de sacoches
(Canadian expression) = girls' night out, evening with girlfriends

French Definition:
Sorte de grosse bourse de cuir ordinairement retenue par une courroie et qui se porte au côté ou dans le dos
. A kind of big leather purse usually held by a strap and worn on the side or on the back. --Wiktionnaire 


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


Ode to Mr. Sacks

I couldn't believe my ears when Jean-Marc, packing for his business trip, mentioned: "I'm not taking my sacoche with me." 

Vraiment? My husband might as well have decided to leave an appendage behind--son bras droit, for example, the one he uses to lift his wine glass. That is how vital his trusty, takes-with-him everywhere sacoche is to him.

What with increasing restrictions for carry-on and check-in, Jean-Marc's dear sidekick, Mr Sacks, is the latest victime of airline cutbacks!

Poor Mr Sacks! I've never felt sorry for the old bag before. Mostly, I've felt envious. Mr. Sacks is the one who goes on all the business trips with my husband. Mr. Sacks goes to all the local wine tastings while I sit at home guzzling tap water.  

 

sacoche (c) Kristin Espinasse

Mr Sacks in Paris... the one on the left. (Make no mistake, the other bags mean nothing to Jean-Marc!)

man purse (c) Kristin Espinasse
Mr Sacks inVentimille, Italy, watching locals play boules, or pétanque.

I do pity Mr. Sacks now that his saggy little body is pouting in the corner of my husband's office. This is the first time in his 12-year-old life that he's collected dust. Normally he's on the go....

Flower steps in Sicily (c) Kristin Espinasse

Mr. Sacks in Sicily... can't you see him sniffing the pretty flowers?

Croatia (c) Kristin Espinasse
Mr. Sacks cruising the island of Cres. Just kidding, Jean-Marc would never put Mr. Sacks in this predicament (water, not vacationing in Croatia). This brings me to the next point...

Regularly I am asked to hold on to Mr. Sacks while my husband sprints off to use a public restroom or when (as pictured above) he is practicing a sport. "Tu peux prendre ma sacoche?" He asks. And I always grumble, not wanting to hold the heavy "third wheel". Apart from tractor wrenches, he even keeps wine bottles (for his tastings) in there...

spitoon (c) Kristin Espinasse
Mr Sacks (on the floor, next to the bucket spittoon)

Some refer to Mr Sacks as a "man purse".  That always makes me snicker. Hahahahahaha! Man Bag!!! Sac Homme! I point at Mr. Sacks. But Mr. Sacks isn't laughing... 

Sicily (c) Kristin Espinasse
What do you think: man purse? Jean-Marc purchased it in une maroquinerie  in Draguignan, years and years ago. It was love at first sight.

the guilty look (c) Kristin Espinasse
Jean-Marc's got that guilty look on his face. He's always holding hands with Mr. Sacks instead of with me--and he knows it!  While others worry about the other woman, I have to worry about the old bag!

sacoche (c) Kristin Espinasse
Mr. Sacks is with him on bad hair days...

beach in St. Maxime (c) Kristin Espinasse
And on good hair days...

Avalon (c) Kristin Espinasse
And especially on family days!
 

Lourdes (c) Kristin Espinasse
Visiting the healing waters at Lourdes. Can you spot Mr. Sacks?

Burgandy (c) Kristin Espinasse
Mr Sacks in Burgundy... with the winemakers...

fountain (c) Kristin Espinasse

But old Mr. Sacks, as you can see, is beginning to sag. I worry that items inside him will begin to fly out of his slouching pockets. I especially worry that money will fall out. For this reason, I sometimes follow close in Jean-Marc's wake as he goes about his errands. I am stumbling along behind him swatting my arms back and forth prepared to catch those banknotes that might come flying out of that sagging bag. 

vintage sacoche (c) Kristin Espinasse
Mr Sacks is coming apart at the seams, which just goes to show even sacks have middle-age crisis.

Over the years I've tried to get Jean-Marc to consider buying a new bag. Nothin' doin'! "But it's a hazard," I argue (a financial hazard at that! Just think if money really were flying out of that bag). 

"I'm keeping my bag!" he always argues back.

in Italy (c) Kristin Espinasse

A couple of weeks ago Jean-Marc announced with an ear-to-ear grin: Je l'ai fait réparer, mon sac. He had brought Mr. Sacks to the leather mender's, in town. The guy did a wonderful job, Jean-Marc told me, adding that the man was nearly 90 years old. 

Any ill will or harsh feelings I may have felt regarding Mr. Sacks flew out of the picture (as those bank notes might have...). My heart smiled thinking of the wrinkled man sewing the wrinkled bag, one soul giving life back to the other, each content to be of service for as long as they were needed or wanted.

COMMENTS
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I once rummaged through my husband's sacoche and found something that stopped me in my tracks. Read the story here.



French Vocabulary

vraiment = really

le bras = arm

droit = right

tu peux prendre ma sacoche = can you take my bag?

la maroquinerie = purse, bag, and luggage shop

le sac homme = man purse 

je l'ai fait réparer = I had it fixed

mon sac = my purse 


PORQUEROLLES (c) Kristin Espinasse
Oh dear. Here is Mr Sacks and the formidable mop-spear. I hope you read about this confection--Jean-Marc was very proud of it--in the chapter "Lance". It might be worth the purchase of the book!

***

Did you enjoy meeting Mr. Sacks? To comment on this edition, click here.


SHARE IT / LIKE IT
Thanks for forwarding this edition to someone who might get a kick out of a man purse, or to someone who has a special weakness for purses or bags.

Thank you so much for reading these stories and for the time you've set aside to learn a French word or two. If you feel you have learned more than a little vocabulary, here, and would like to reward my efforts please know that a one-time contribution is not only a great support, but it is vivement apprécié. Simply use the quick links below (they'll take you to PayPal). Merci beaucoup! 
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une tribune

Pot of Flowers & Cat (c) Kristin Espinasse

Another cat picture... because we all need a bit of color and a little fur in wintertime (for those of you experiencing summer, here is a refreshing photo for you, too!) Photo taken in the town of Villedieu.

une tribune (tree bewn)

    1. platform (for speaker)

monter à la tribune = to stand up to speak

Never miss a French word or photo: receive French word updates via Yahoo, AOL, or Google

 
Audio File: listen to the following letter, read by Jean-Marc: Download MP3 or Wav file

Cher Lecteur de French Word-A-Day,

Je suis "Chief Grape" et l'heureux mari de Kristi. Elle m'a gentiment donné une tribune aujourd'hui pour vous annoncer que je serai aux Etats-Unis le mois prochain pour faire la promotion de nos vins du Domaine Rouge-Bleu. J'espère sincèrement que vous pourrez assister à l'un des nombreux évènements organisés dans les 12 villes où je vais venir. Malheureusement, Kristi ne pourra venir avec moi mais je l'emporterai dans mon coeur.

A bientôt.
 
    (Listen to this letter in French! Download MP3 or Wav file)


Dear French Word-A-Day Reader,

I am "Chief Grape" and the happy husband of Kristi. She has kindly given me a platform to announce to you that I will be in the US next month for the promotion of our Domaine Rouge-Bleu wines. I sincerely hope you will be able to attend one of the numerous events organised in the 12 cities I will visit. Unfortunately, Kristi won't be able to come with me but I will bring her with me in my heart.

See you soon.
Jean-Marc Espinasse
. 
JME


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

After a season spent indoors, hiding from the sun, I ventured back outside yesterday to toss handfuls of wildflower seeds about (thanks, Dirt Diva Doreen, for all the packets of graines!). It is a new goal of mine to spend 15 minutes each day in the garden.

Wearing a big chapeau de soleil and sunblock even on cloudy journées, I am reuniting with the plants that were abandoned when that skin cancer scare sent me scampering... out of the flower bed and into a darkened mas.

DSC_0059


I was sad to discover that this artichoke plant, which was doing so well up until a month ago (purple flowers from last summer) had been fatally bitten by le gel. Luckily, I had saved many of its seeds. I will be tossing some of those out along with the fleurs sauvages... and crossing fingers that all of the lovely flowers will return, with these handfuls of hope and scatterings of trust.

French Vocabulary

une graine = seed

le chapeau de soleil = sun hat

une journée = day

le mas = house or farm in Provence

le gel = the freeze

la fleur sauvage = wild flower

 

P1010344

Things to love about French life: "modesty curtains", or "les brise-bises". How could you not love a term that has "kisses" or "bises" in its name? Share another thing to love about French life, here in the comments box.

 

Thank you so much for reading these stories and for the time you've set aside to learn a French word or two. If you feel you have learned more than a little vocabulary, here, and would like to reward my efforts please know that a one-time contribution is not only a great support, but it is vivement apprécié. Simply use the quick links below (they'll take you to PayPal). Merci beaucoup! 
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rein

Chief Grape: Jean-Marc (c) Kristin Espinasse
The life of a grape farmer, where torn trousers, sopping-wet work shirts, and "too much on the mind" are part of making good wine!  Who has time for health? Read on....

le rein (rehn)

    : kidney

néphrologue (m/f) = kidney specialist
les reins = the small of the back
avoir mal aux reins = to have a backache (in lower back) 

Audio File & Example sentence by Chief Grape himself : 
Download MP3 or Wave file

Au Centre Hospitalier d'Avignon on m'a fait une biopsy du rein.
At Avignon Hospital Center, they biopsied my kidney.

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

"How to Write a Blog Story"

1. Begin with a drama: "Jean-Marc returned home Friday morning in an ambulance...." 

2. Change things up (don't keep talking about your new favorite pasttime (organic composting), try kidneys for a change): Jean-Marc returned home Friday in an ambulance. After having his kidney biopsy, he was required to stay the night at the hospital in Avignon.

3. Add a little humor to keep things light: Jean-Marc returned home Friday in an ambulance. After having his kidney biopsy, he was required to stay the night at the hospital in Avignon. Three lunatics greeted him, after the family fold fell apart in his absence. 

4. Forget not French folklore: Jean-Marc returned home Friday in an ambulance. After his kidney biopsy, he was required to stay the night at the hospital in Avignon.Three lunatics greeted him, after the family fold fell apart in his absence. "C'est la faute à la pleine lune," Jean-Marc explained, of our batty behavior.

5. Include one line in French: Jean-Marc returned home Friday in an ambulance. After his kidney biopsy, he was required to stay the night at the hospital in Avignon.Three lunatics greeted him, after the family fold fell apart in his absence. "C'est la faute à la pleine lune," Jean-Marc explained, of our batty behaviour. "Ouf, je croyais que c'était moi! Phew, I thought it was me!"

6. No use adding a bunch of extraneous details (see below), no matter how important they seemed to you at the time:  

Jean-Marc returned home Friday in an ambulance. After his kidney biopsy, he was required to stay the night at the hospital in Avignon.Three lunatics greeted him, after the family fold fell apart in his absence. 
"C'est la faute à la pleine lune," It is the full moon, Jean-Marc explained, of our batty behaviour.
"Ouf, je croyais que c'était moi! Phew! I thought it was me!"

It so happened to be the day that the dogs ran off, our son had a tumultuous teenage moment, and the farm turned into Grand Central Terminal with the non-stop comings-and-goings.

7. Sum things up and remember: it's never about you, it's about that up-n-down thing called Life, in which every one of us can relate to what is most important: love and health:

Jean-Marc returned home Friday in an ambulance. After his kidney biopsy, he was required to stay the night at the hospital in Avignon.Three lunatics greeted him, when the family fold fell apart in his absence. 
"C'est la faute à la pleine lune.  It is the full moon," Jean-Marc explained, of our batty behavior.
"Ouf, je croyais que c'était moi! Phew! I thought it was me!" So happy you are home, mon amour. We missed you and we love you.
 

***

P.S.:  I asked The Big Man Above to help me write today's post... and I had to shake my head in appreciation when He came up with this breezy "How To" style in which to relate a delicate subject (Jean-Marc's blood test gone awry).

Update: Chief Grape feels fine. He did not have any symptoms that led up to the testing; only, during a routine check-up, some of the results came back "hors norme" or "out of normal range". Les resultats will be ready in one week. 

Regarding the ambulance ride home: it was covered by our mutuelle (French insurance plan); as Jean-Marc points out: we pay a lot for it, but there are some interesting and unusual benefits!
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Le Coin Commentaires
To leave a comment, click here. Do you have a kidney story to share? Any healthly tips? Thank you in advance!
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"Frimousse" (c) Kristin Espinasse

Archive photo (from the Frimousse or "Sweet Little Face" bilingual edition. Read it here!)

Shop at Amazon via the following links and help to support this "thrice-weekly" language journal. Click on a link, below, to enter the store; any purchase (from dog food to diapers) will count. Merci.

 

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Easy French Reader
: A fun and easy new way to quickly acquire or enhance basic reading skills

In film:  Paris Je T'aime Paris I love You.

 

Pre de Provence After Shave Balm is enriched with shea butter, grape seed oil. 

 

Meantime in the Garden...

P1010298

Sunflower seedlings! I wonder whether sunflower seeds are good for kidney health?... 

P1010298-2

This 3-day-old seedling is modeling a sunflower "hat" made of biodegradable materials for that futuristique fashion statement.

Old sunflower
A venerable sunflower who lived here two years ago... She says to the stylish seedling, "Let your hair down, little one, as I have. Notice the golden curlicue on my forehead?  Witness how a sunflower "of a certain age" has grace." What's new in your garden? Share a few of your garden "characters" with us in the comments box, here.

 

Thank you so much for reading these stories and for the time you've set aside to learn a French word or two. If you feel you have learned more than a little vocabulary, here, and would like to reward my efforts please know that a one-time contribution is not only a great support, but it is vivement apprécié. Simply use the quick links below (they'll take you to PayPal). Merci beaucoup! 
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Joyeux Anniversaire, Chief Grape!

Jean-Marc Espinasse
"Vintage 1967"

Joyeux Anniversaire, Chief Grape! To leave a birthday wish for Jean-Marc, click here.



 

Thank you so much for reading these stories and for the time you've set aside to learn a French word or two. If you feel you have learned more than a little vocabulary, here, and would like to reward my efforts please know that a one-time contribution is not only a great support, but it is vivement apprécié. Simply use the quick links below (they'll take you to PayPal). Merci beaucoup! 
♥ Send $10    ♥ Send $25    ♥ Send another amount


aimer

Love Well (c) Kristin Espinasse
A favorite saying... painted on a modest fence; it reads...

"Pour bien vivre, bien aimer et laisser dire."
To live well, love well and let others say what they will.

aimer (ay-may) verb

    : to love

 j'aime, tu aimes, il aime... nous aimons, vous aimez, ils aiment...

 

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

Examples of Amour

It began in the black of the night. Lying there in bed, I was not thinking about my birthday and for this I was grateful. Please, God, let me think of other things besides myself and my well-being.

I must have been thinking about China in the late 30's and the heroine of the book that I am reading. Before I fell to sleep last night, she was still stirring... freeing so many tiny feet from foot-binding.

I wriggle my toes beneath the sheets... freedom all around me! What more could I want for my anniversary? And yet...

(The alarm rings...)

"Eh ben," Well, whaddya know! Jean-Marc teases.
"Ce n'est pas possible!" It can't be.
"Qu'est-ce qui n'est pas possible?" What can't be?
"43 ans!" Forty-three years old!
"Et si et c'est bien!" Yes it can and it is good! 

And with that, my husband began to shower me with cadeaux...

There was the cup of coffee he brought me... in a mug featuring a photo of Braise and Smokey....

Cadeau no. 2 was my daughter, whom he awoke... in time for her to offer me une petite boîte of dark chocolates.

Up next... a book... by a rebel nun (I have written about her here).

The gifts continued every quarter of an hour! Cadeu no. 4: a little olive tree: the one I had feared buried beneath so many weeds. How much guilt have I felt, believing I had "choked" it in neglect (leaving it there, alone, in an abandoned garden patch). And now, a second chance! I sat there with little olive tree in my lap. I sipped my coffee, stared at my chocolates, the book, and listened to the water fill my bath.

Reste là! Jean-Marc said, disappearing into the salle de bain. "Ne regarde pas!"

When all was clear and I could come in I could hardly conceal an ear-to-ear grin. On the wall I saw the metal letters that had tumbled off a year or so ago:

"A N G E"

Whereas Jean-Marc had once used duct tape to hang the letters... this time he glued them!

I stared at the French word for "angel". I do hope to act like one this year. (As my mom always says "act as if!" (by the way, she is the one who gave me the metallic "A N G E" letters).

As for the angel in China whom I spoke of earlier (busy unbinding so many tortured feet) -- I'm not sure what she has to do with my story, except to serve as a reminder of how much there is to be grateful for... and that the key to happiness is in the giving of oneself, as Jean-Marc did so beautifully with, among other things, the little olive tree.
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French Vocabulary

le cadeau = present

une petite boîte = a box

reste là! = stay there!

la salle de bain = bathroom

ne regarde pas! = don't look

un ange = angel

Birthday oustau 004
A previous birthday party (my 36th) in 2003. Jackie and Max.

Mom_velo

A favorite picture of my mom, Jules (photo taken in 2003). Looking forward to calling her today! 

Thank you so much for reading these stories and for the time you've set aside to learn a French word or two. If you feel you have learned more than a little vocabulary, here, and would like to reward my efforts please know that a one-time contribution is not only a great support, but it is vivement apprécié. Simply use the quick links below (they'll take you to PayPal). Merci beaucoup! 
♥ Send $10    ♥ Send $25    ♥ Send another amount


creux

DSC_0082
In the lava land of Lanzarote, the Canary Islands, Spain... where we relaxed after the latest grape harvest.


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

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creux (creuse) [kreuh, kreuz] adjective

    : hollow, deep, empty

le creux (inv) = a hollow, a dip, a slack period
La Creuse = name of a French river and of a Department in central France 

French Idioms & Expressions

avoir un petit creux = a little hollow in one's stomach (an empty stomach), to feel peckish
les heures creuses = off-peak hours
avoir le nez creux = to be shrewd

There are many more interesting "creux" and "creuse" expressions. Would you like to help out by posting one here, in the comments box?
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Sound File: Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the following words:
note: the sound is problematic... working on this... Download MP3 or Wav

En cas de petit creux, j'ai prévu des petits sandwiches à grignoter....
In the event of a little hunger, I've planned for a few sandwiches to munch on....

 

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

"The Sandwich Maker in Spain"

Every morning we would line up at the resort's breakfast buffet, Jean-Marc, with his shirt à l'envers, Max and Jackie, with sleepy eyes, and I with an eye on the three stomachs ahead of me.

"Jackie, did you notice the green melon?" I'd suggest, when she reached for the milk and the cereal. We could always have cereal back home, but honeydew melon!
"And did you see the bacon?" We never had bacon for breakfast and this was the chance to sample things we wouldn't normally eat this time of day, back home in France.

"Max, did you leave some for the others?" I'd remind our 15-year-old, who piled his plate with sugary viennoiseries

And Jean-Marc... "JEAN-MARC!!!!"  I'd screech. Presently my husband was making sandwiches! And I knew just what sort of trick he had up his sneaky sleeve... only any self-respecting trickster would cache the object of his trickery. Not this one! Jean-Marc was making a picnic lunch via this breakfast buffet -- comme si de rien n'était! As if everything were A-OK!

Oh no you don't! Don't you start that up here! You did that back in Madrid, for the 15 euro buffet, and, OK, it was quite expensive and you did get your money's worth... but you're not going to start pocketing your picnic here! My mind was arguing up a storm. I could just imagine what would happen to our restful vacation if my husband began to take from the daily breakfast buffet.  Peace would go out the door... along with quite a few of those pancakes, to be sure!

Meantime, Jean-Marc, calm as the cucumbers that were not present (after all, this was a breakfast buffet and not a 24-hour diner!) just kept on building his sandwiches: A little bit of sliced bread... and why not a sesame roll? Inside went the scrambled eggs, some breakfast sausages, oh, and did he fancy a tomato? They had those, too! Other sandwiches were more creative: some hash browns, ketchup, and sliced cheese on wheat (hash browns on wheat??? fried potatoes on toast. Well, whoever...!).  

I was horrified when the fellow vacationers strolled by, sure they had one eye on our sandwich-making monopoly and the other on the manageress, who had checked us in earlier, at the front counter. Would she be sending us a check once she caught sight of our "extra bite"?

"Well, what are they going to do?" Jean-Marc questioned, amused. "Throw us in prison?" With that he would look at me with soft eyes:
"Would you like me to make you one, Chérie?"

"No. No! No! No! I do not want one of your sandwiches."

I thought about my strong reaction, wondering whether my good citizenship was only a cover... for questionable qualities of my own. Finally, I decided that it wasn't pride. No! It was principles!

"Well, you'll wish you'd said Yes," was all the sandwich-maker would say. "Tu vas le regretter...."

And of course he was right. Later on at the beach, around 10 a.m., I would look enviously at the sandwich man. There he sat, beneath the "borrowed" shade (can you believe he even swiped the hotel parasol? "but I did it for you, cherie..."), staring out at the Atlantic sea, the crested waves slapping foam against the sandy beach with its black-ashed sable from volcanic eruptions of long ago. He ate with glee and reverie, those sumptuous sandwiches that now had even me dreaming.

"Would you like a bite, Chérie?"

"No, I would not like a bite!"

And with that I would roll over and pout into my book about a French woman, Gervaise, who was going to pot after "sweeting" to the slow, slovenly, saturated life. My stomach would grumble and I'd turn the page... only to read about yet another smorgasbord. 

The next morning at the breakfast table (and the mornings thereafter) it was the same industrious sandwich-making enterprise.
"Jean-Marc!!!" I began, as usual. "Tu exagères!"
"Peut-être je vais les vendre sur la plage! I might sell them on the beach!" he teased. "It might pay for our vacation!" he went on, taunt after taunt. And like that, I'd steam, right there in my seat.

DSC_0031
             The Sandwich-maker in Spain, aka "Chef Grape on Harvest Holiday"

But those sandwiches were looking good. And, true, if you reasoned a certain way, then, really, what was the difference? What with eaters like me -- who took only a piece of toast, an egg, a piece of bacon, and a slice of melon.... one of each, as opposed to the two or three of each as did the man at the next table. Why... one could rationalize! Yes, one could reason, therefore, that a little extra sandwich made from the buffet leftovers (for it helped to call them that) would do no harm....

By day three I began to make suggestions to our sandwich maker.
"I might like some fried egg and some bacon... if that one were mine..." Jean-Marc took the hint and made me up a mid-morning snack. Meantime, Max made himself a mini casse-croute (a modest ham and cheese sandwich on white... and an apple for dessert). Jackie steered clear of this shady sandwichery... preferring to wait for 2 p.m., when respectable Spaniards ate -- and paid -- for their midday meal.

By the end of our vacation my rigid rules were loosening... along with my belt... as I began putting in orders to the sandwich man, instructing Jean-Marc to go light on the sausage... or to avoid the cheese altogether. But I still could not get up the gumption to make my own sandwich. I guess this time you'd have to call it pride.  As for those "principles" I mentioned, I'd lost them somewhere between the clipped ketchup and the heisted hash brown potatoes.

Le Coin Commentaires

Comments, corrections, and stories of your own are most welcome in the comments box! Merci d'avance!
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Two Strongly Recommended Books!

While I remained glued to Emile Zola's L'Assommoir, the story about the downward spiral of the working class in 19th Century Paris (owing to alcohol, gluttony, and a fancy for free time...) Jean-Marc was in rapture with the latest book by Robert Camuto, Palmento: A Sicilian Wine Odyssey. I thought I might shove two of those sandwiches in my ears if Jean-Marc kept going on and on and on about his love for this book! But then, when my own book ran out of pages, and I'd finished L'Assommoir, I couldn't help but see what all the fuss was about... and steal glances at Jean-Marc's copy of Robert Camuto's latest. Wine and Italy lovers,  don't miss it! 

French Vocabulary

à l'envers = inside out

viennoiseries = pastries

cache (cacher) = to hide

comme si de rien n'était!  = as if nothing were amiss!

Chéri(e) = Darling

Tu vas le regretter! = You'll regret it!

le sable = sand

Tu exagères = you're overdoing it!

le casse-croûte = snack


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Family on vacation: Jean-Marc, Jackie, and Kristin

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In film:  Paris Je T'aime Paris I love You.

Thank you so much for reading these stories and for the time you've set aside to learn a French word or two. If you feel you have learned more than a little vocabulary, here, and would like to reward my efforts please know that a one-time contribution is not only a great support, but it is vivement apprécié. Simply use the quick links below (they'll take you to PayPal). Merci beaucoup! 
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conjoint

Le Bateau Ivre (c) Kristin Espinasse
A little bar/restaurant in the bay of Locmaria, on the island of Groix.


Conjoint

(kon-zhwan)

noun, masculine

spouse



Just off the coast of Brittany, on a small island habitée by Groisillons and teeming with French tourists on wobbly bicyclettes, there is a quaint port called Locmaria, where The Drunk Boat overlooks the bay at high tide (and low, for that matter, but for the purpose of this conte the marée shall be high, high as the curious individual bathing in its shallow waters)....

"Ah, nature fresh and free. Yes, freeeeeeeeeeeeee!"

I can just hear his French words echoing across the sandy beach, translating themselves in midair before reaching The Drunk Boat bar on the boardwalk above, near to which a red-faced tourist stands hesitant. Red-faced, not because she is a native of the desert, which she is, but because her Frenchman (he who bathes in shallow waters) has been caught, once again, en flagrant délit with Dame Nature. Yes, caught red-handed (and mud-in-the-hand) as you will soon discover.

It isn't the first time he has been found courting La Dame; take him to the powdery depths of the canyon at Roussillon, and he'll brush red and yellow ochre across his stubbled face. "A tradition," he explains (the earth-smearing, not the stubble). Bring him to a crowded beach in his beloved Marseilles, and he will inhale the salty waters beyond (via a noisy nose gargle). "Good for the sinuses," he exclaims. Cart him off to the wild garrigue and he will begin chewing on the local herbs (good for the gums, I wonder?). Go where he may, and he will find a way to press the earth unto himself. He's Monsieur Nature.

Back at the bay in Locmaria, it is another day in Paradise for Monsieur Nature, who can be found applying mud—sloshing it on from neck to knee—only, he calls it vase (pronouncing it "vaz," as if a neat word would render his act less, well, filthy).

Standing knee-deep in the ocean, he scoops up the smelly vase, slops it on his arms and across his chest before a vigorous scrub-down, oblivious to the audience now gathering before him: there are the seagulls, beady eyes bulging, and the little crabs looking on, astonished, and even the mussels—clinging to a nearby rock—have opened their shells for a look-see. "Get a load of this," they clatter, their long, salmon-colored tongues wagging.

This, dear reader, is my mud-faced conjoint and that curious behavior of his, in a clamshell, is the difference between him and me; the difference, I now realize, between really living life and poetically lusting after it from the boardwalk above.



*     *     *
 EDITS HERE PLEASE. Click the previous link to point out any typos or obvious ambiguities in this story. Thanks!

French Vocabulary

habitée (habiter) = inhabited
les Groisillons = inhabitants of the Island of Groix
la bicyclette = bicycle
The Drunk Boat (Le Bateau Ivre) = the name of a bar along the boardwalk
le conte = tale, story
la marée = tide
pris en flagrant délit = caught in the act
la Dame Nature = Mother Nature
la garrigue = wild Mediterranean scrubland
la vase = slime, mud, mire
le conjoint, la conjointe = spouse

French Pronunciation:
Listen to the word "conjoint" in the following sentence: Je vous presente mon conjoint. Please meet my wife (or husband). Download conjoint.wav.


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Missing a little French in your weekend? Love photos of France? Check out Cinéma Vérité.

Thank you so much for reading these stories and for the time you've set aside to learn a French word or two. If you feel you have learned more than a little vocabulary, here, and would like to reward my efforts please know that a one-time contribution is not only a great support, but it is vivement apprécié. Simply use the quick links below (they'll take you to PayPal). Merci beaucoup! 
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angoisse

Redvine
A certain redhead wowed him and that is how the love affair began. Read about my rival, below.

From a farm in California to one in France... Divisadero: a new book by Michael Ondaatje. Read more here.

angoisse (ahn-gwace) noun, feminine
  anxiety; fear

Toute angoisse est imaginaire; le réel est son antidote.
All fear is imaginary, reality is its antidote.

                                  --André Comte-Sponville
.

Column
Roland Garros* is underway here in France and my husband, a former tennis teacher, should be glued to the tube cheering Amélie Mauresmo to a victory and screaming insults at the screen after Sébastien Grosjean lost. So why is he outside talking to himself?

I let the curtain fall to a close before slipping out to the front porch across from where Jean-Marc is emptying his garage cellar, transferring cases of wine to the back of his car and muttering something about "ce con de vent!"*

"Everything OK?" I ask, for the third time since he returned to Les Arcs to visit the kids and me for the weekend and to help pack another load for our imminent move north.

"Oui, ça ira,"* he assures me. He is just concerned about our vines back in the Rhone Valley. Apart from the diabolic wind, which is breaking vine limbs left and right, certain grapevines are stricken with mildew, Jean-Marc explains, while others are in need of an immune system boost.

Though I have a hard time picturing the immune system of a grapevine, it doesn't take a magnifying glass to reveal the stress written across a new farmer's face. Since I last saw my husband, five days ago in Sainte Cécile, vertical lines have appeared across his weatherworn cheeks giving the impression that he has suffered a coup de vieux.* The deep facial lines, like fissures after an earthquake, hint at the turmoil beneath the surface. As for the weight loss, I had chalked that one up to the maladie d'amour* which is exactly what befell Jean-Marc last November when he first laid eyes on her. Or "them" I should say--all 30,000 fluttery-leafed Céciliennes,* vines which he later agreed to love and to cherish in sickness and in health.

It is the wind and the breakage that obsesses Jean-Marc the most. All those fragile broken limbs left in the wake of a méchant* Mistral. It feels as if each vine is a child and each child has fallen out of a tree to lie helpless on the ground. Jean-Marc cannot bear the silent screams any longer.

"Don't worry about the wind!" I tell him. "Grapevines have been whipped around like that for thousands of years! Besides, there is nothing you can do about it--short of attaching a splint to each and every vine!" Jean-Marc can't deny that. Instead he nods, sighs, and waits as I search the bathroom for facial moisturizer. The cabinets are almost empty now, but there under the sink, lying on its side, is a near-empty tube of emollient cream. I pound the plastic container against my palm and collect enough of its contents to fashion a thick mask across my husband's wind- and worry-ravaged face.

The mini spa soin* seems to work and Jean-Marc begins to forget about the stresses up north: the needy vines as well as the farmhouse renovation which he is supervising.

I put the finishing touches on the mask, assuring him that those deep lines will be gone in no time. I only wish I could say the same about his worries.

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References: le Roland Garros (the French Open) = tennis tournament held in Paris; ce con de vent = this damn wind; oui, ça ira = yes, it will be OK; (donner) un coup de vieux = to put years on/to age someone; la maladie (f) d'amour = love sickness; un cécilien, une cécilienne = one who lives in the town of Sainte Cécile-Les-Vignes; méchant = mean; le soin (m) = treatment

:: Audio File ::
Listen to Jean-Marc recite today's quote: Download Angoisse.wav ...link not working? Try this one: Download Angoisse.mp3 Toute angoisse est imaginaire; le réel est son antidote.

Terms & Expressions:
  une crise d'angoisse = an anxiety attack
  l'angoisse métaphysique = angst
  avoir des angoisses = to feel as if one is suffocating

French items:
Speaking of tennis...have you ever listened to former French Open winner Yannick Noah sing?  check out Métisse(s) for songs in French
French Music of the 20th Century: Poulenc/Milhaud/Messiaen
And speaking of stress... Bach's Rescue Remedy
The Jet Lag Bag
- Anti-Stress Travel Pack

Thank you so much for reading these stories and for the time you've set aside to learn a French word or two. If you feel you have learned more than a little vocabulary, here, and would like to reward my efforts please know that a one-time contribution is not only a great support, but it is vivement apprécié. Simply use the quick links below (they'll take you to PayPal). Merci beaucoup! 
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la mère porteuse

Jean-Marc Espinasse (c) Kristin Espinasse
Jean-Marc who earned the title "Chief Grape" after years of caring for his precious "babies". Read about them, in the following story. 


la mère porteuse (mair-por-tuhz) n.f.

  : surrogate mother

(One who carries a child for a couple or for a single person is also called "une mère accoucheuse")

Click on the following French sentence to hear it spoken by Jean-Marc:

La législation concernant les mères porteuses est encore assez floueThe legal position concerning surrogate mothers is still quite vague. 
--from Insider's French: Beyond the Dictionary


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

Three days each week my husband can be found two-and-a-half hours north of here, in Sainte Cécile les Vignes, caring deeply for somebody else's grapevines.

While I am needed here at home, unable to join Jean-Marc during this exciting time, he does his best to share the experience with me.

"Oh, they are healthy!" he says of the vines, like a proud mother-to-be who has just received a clean bill of health from her midwife. Jean-Marc puts the portable phone to his belly, level with the tall vines, and I can just hear our "children's" heartbeat: it is the creaking of the dormant, woody vines as the wind whips through the valley of the Rhône.

"But isn't it cold?" I worry.

"The wind is good for them--keeps them dry and free from disease!" Jean-Marc assures me, as a mother-to-be might assure her husband that all the ice cream she is eating (calcium!) is, in fact, good for the fetus.

Lately, I see Jean-Marc as the surrogate mother. While he isn't actually carrying a baby, he is caring for someone else's grape, touching and nurturing vines that we hope will one day be ours. Our new vine babies are still in the womb, so to speak, as we cannot yet hold them--or rather "hold title" to them--and while we are hopeful to get the bank loan, we have yet to sign the final purchase papers.

But back to our surrogate mom who, I might add, positively glows these days as any woman with child would. I can't help but compare these very different, yet similar periods of gestation: just as Jean-Marc was helpless to assist when I was "with child," trusting me to eat right and get enough sleep, I must now trust that he is making the right decisions for our future "children".

"I am not going to use pesticides," he declares over the phone, in yet another long-distance call from our future vineyard. It is as if he has said "I am not going to give the children antibiotics!"

"But won't they fall ill?" I fret, a couple of hundred kilometers away from being able to help out (or to intervene!).

"It is important to build their resistance!" he says, rather protectively.

Hanging up the phone, I feel a sort of envy that only helpless husbands can feel for the glowing mother-to-be, maker of so many delicate and vital decisions. I want to participate in my "children's" development, yet can't. The only one I can care for is my tired and moody, ice-cream-guzzling "wife".

Returning home after another weekly trip north, our surrogate mother complains.

"Oh, j'ai mal au dos!"* he groans, taking off his heavy pruning belt. "Be careful with your back," I warn, fixing him a cup of tea, adding an extra bit of milk....

Tired as he is, our glowing mère porteuse* has already got the "nannies" lined up (a few calloused-handed men in steel-toe boots) and has given them their orders: no harsh chemicals, only organic supplements such as copper and sulfur.

"Be sure to feed them good minerals!" he orders, wondering if he should really trust others to care for his young'uns.

If all goes according to plan, we will hold title to twenty-one acres of vines by the end of March. For now, there is nothing for a future caretaker to do but to trust and wait; I must relax, letting my wife bring those grapes to term. The needy vines will be here soon enough, hungry, crying to be held (pruned), changed (harvested), and fed a careful and regular measure of minerals--at which point I will be left with one exhausted partner, moaning about how the past two trimesters have wreaked havoc on his once lithe body: "Oh, my chapped hands! Oh, my aching back." And I'll shake my head and think to myself, Oh, women!

***
Update: 1n 2012 Jean-Marc adopted some olive trees... and is now caring for them and planting more vines at Mas des Brun, near his beloved Mediterranean Sea. Read his journal here.
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avoir mal au dos = to have a backache; avoir mal au dos = to have a backache; la mère porteuse (f) = surrogate mother

Thank you so much for reading these stories and for the time you've set aside to learn a French word or two. If you feel you have learned more than a little vocabulary, here, and would like to reward my efforts please know that a one-time contribution is not only a great support, but it is vivement apprécié. Simply use the quick links below (they'll take you to PayPal). Merci beaucoup! 
♥ Send $10    ♥ Send $25    ♥ Send another amount