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Entries from February 2008


Cousin Mike's remise (shed) in Layton. Mike & Aunt Reta made us feel at home when we visited Utah.

prévenant(e) [pray-vuhnan(t)] adjective
  thoughtful, considerate

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the French words prévenant/prévenante:
Download prevenant.mp3. Download prevenant.wav

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I have often wondered about the word "thoughtful" and what its equivalent is in French. So many times have I thought about how to thank a considerate Francophone with only this faux-amis* of a phrase up my sleeve :

"Vous êtes tellement pensif!"*

No. Pensive wouldn't be the right translation. A pensive person sits around thinking. A thoughtful person stands up and does something for someone else. There's action, and not subtraction--as in the calculating mind of one who thinks too much.

Thoughtful people tend to throw out the calculator. They aren't keeping track of anything, though they may leave their tracks behind, tracks they'd just as soon have covered up so as not to be found out for their quiet kindness or bienveillance.*

My brother-in-law's tracks are long, due to the size of his feet: feet that made a few dozen aller-retours* last week as they carried their weary worker to-and-fro from our ever-cluttered and always-encumbered patio... to a great wall along a field of vines. Beyond that wall, in a line and neatly stacked, lay the renovation bric-a-brac... the re-arranging of which almost broke Jacques' back.

My brother-in-law pulled into our driveway after picking us up from the train station. Still dizzy from our 24-hour voyage home, we were now dazzled by our de-cluttered driveway. When I asked about the clean-up, that veritable tornado of tidiness that had somehow swept through the front yard in our two-week absence, my brother-in-law brushed it off, as he had the messy patio--beyond which the once weed-whipped flower beds now glistened. I stopped to admire the freshly-turned soil shimmering beneath the late winter sun.

"I can't take credit for that," said Jacques. Who, then, to shower with thanks? A telephone call to Aunt Marie-Françoise produced the same pass-the-praise results. "Oh, we just stopped by to have a bite with Jacques while he was house-sitting... and snapped up a few weeds on our way out."

My husband reminded his family of their manners. "It isn't polite to go cleaning up another's place without their permission," Jean-Marc chuckled and so gave thanks in his own way. As for me, my mind as cluttered as the luggage that Jacques helped us carry back, I just found out in my dictionary that my in-laws' gesture was more than polite. It was "prévenant".* I suppose I won't have to wonder any longer about how to say "thoughtful" in French. I now know the answer... and knowing, I reckon, doesn't count as thinking. There we go again.

                         *     FIN / END     *

Here are some photos from the French American Chamber of Commerce event taken by Ronald Holden. Thanks also to Anne and to Betty and to others at the FACC for their warm welcome and for all the work they did!

Here's a prévenant post about the Abraxus book signing event in Seattle:

More photos on the way.... Portland, San Francisco, LA, Phoenix, and Houston... coming up!

un faux-ami (m) = a "false friend" or false cognate (words that look alike but have different meanings; Vous êtes tellement pensif(ve)! = You are so pensive!; bienveillant (adj) = kind, benevolent; un aller-retour (m) = round trip; prévenant = it was thoughtful

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~French film, music, & more~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
White Mane. In the south of France, in a near-desert region called La Camargue, lives White Mane, a magnificent stallion and the leader of a herd of wild horses too proud to let themselves be broken in by humans.

Sense and Sensibility (Webster's French Thesaurus Edition) - Read the text in English, and discover the French equivalent of thousands of words! Each page is annotated with a mini-thesaurus of uncommon words highlighted in the text. Not only will you experience a great classic, but learn the richness of the English language with French synonyms at the bottom of each page. You will not see a full translation of the English text, but rather a running bilingual thesaurus to maximize the reader's exposure to the subtleties of both languages.

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The writing on the wall in Portland, Oregon.

ronron (rohn rohn) noun, masculine
  purr, purring, hum, drone

:: Featured product :: The Francophile journal that travelled with me through the US. There's even a pocket in the back for receipts, business cards & assorted "paperasse". See it here.

:: Audio File :: listen to my son, Max pronounce the French word "ronron":
Download ronron.mp3 . Download ronron.wav

America seemed less foreign last week. There used to be a reverse culture shock when, returning to my former hometown from France, I would notice "all those big cars" and "all the heaping helpings" and "all those wide roads". Why, you could slalom through traffic without even changing lanes... that is, if you had a Citroën instead of a gas-guzzling rover, a Hummer or a "space wagon". American cars sure can take up width, just like those French Rs sure can take up breath.

I didn't stop to wonder about where the faux foreignness went. Instead, I listened to the purr of so many American accents. By the end of our trip, I could hear more than southern drawls, northern nasals, and New York "cahs".* I could hear Seattle's accent.... and Oregon's. And... what was that? Nah, there
couldn't be an accent in Utah! Even my hometown had its own particular sound. I heard Phoenix for the first time ... or was that "Valley Girl" speak? Perhaps "Valley Talk" is the politically correct term these days. A lot has changed since the 80s, when I still had a toe on American soil before parking both feet
in France for good.

Accents, drawls, and dialects aside, the one thing all that "city-slur" had in common was the slinging and "slanging" of the word "like". I listened to an elegant Uptown type salt and pepper his sentences with the word "like". (As for me, I was all, like, No way! To think that the upper crust and this Valley Girl, like, shared something! Even if it was the "meaningless verbal hiccup"* that is the word "like").

More than language, I revelled in the ronron* and hum of the Valley of the Sun.* It may have been all of those American accents, and a few, like, hiccups, that led me, linguistically, home again.

                                                *     *     *
My children's impressions of the States in the next edition... in the meantime, read more about our "love fest" (aka book signing)!: see Peggy Sturdivant's blog:

cahs = cars; meaningless verbal hiccup = ; le ronron (m) = purr; Valley of the Sun = Phoenix, Arizona

~~~~~~~~In French film & more / Shopping~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Battle of Algiers: One of the most influential films in the history of political cinema, Gillo Pontecorvo's The Battle of Algiers focuses on the harrowing events of 1957, a key year in Algeria's struggle for independence from France.

Les Portes Tordues (The Twisted Doors) is an exciting book and audio CD that teaches French by capturing and immersing students into an intriguing mystery.

Grand Livre de Cuisine: Alain Ducasse's Culinary Encyclopedia

Learn to speak French with Rosetta Stone. Proven effective by NASA astronauts, Peace Corps volunteers & millions of students worldwide.

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My Aunt Reta's roosters follow her hens, heading back to the barn.

After a whirlwind US visit, Jean-Marc and I owe many "remerciements" to those who organized, hosted, chauffeured, and flew us over (thanks again, Sandy!). Thanks also to those who took time out of their days to meet with us at the various wine/word events. Merci beaucoup! I will soon post photos from our trip.

tourbillon (toor-bee-yon) noun, masculine

La vraie pauvreté est celle de l'âme, une pauvreté dans laquelle le mental est toujours dans un tourbillon créé par les doutes, les soucis et les craintes. Real poverty is that of the soul, a poverty in which the mind is forever a whirlwind, created by doubts, worries, and fears. --Swâmi Râmdâs

We've just returned home from our two-week west coast "wine and word" tour, or "tourbillon".* To the tune of tapping and tchatching* (home renovation and friendly "builder banter" continue just outside my window) I try to find composure and closure.

Seated before a blank computer screen, I am unsure about how to summarize our sentimental Stateside séjour.* The dizziness returns and, with it, an endless surface to distill and so reduce in size. With much to ponder, and even more to pierce, I wonder where to begin? Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix... there Jean-Marc and I found 400 fellow Francophiles before fast-forwarding to Layton, Utah, where we had the chance to bask in the brilliance of my grandmother's smile.

My grandmother's smile brings us back to whirlwinds and surfaces: the one symbolizes a bustling brevity, the other, a Lord-willing longevity. Having exchanged hundreds of hellos, there now remained one gut-wrenching goodbye. The tour and the bonjours now behind us, we were about to listen
to what seemed to be another's last rites.

After so many bustling and brief bonjours with readers on the West Coast, we found ourselves, Jean-Marc and I, bowed over my bed-ridden grand-mère's* side. There, I listened to Cheryl, a Hospice-issued spiritual advisor, who read John 14 as I fought the urge to correct, point out, or clarify the surreal state that was my grandmother's and that is Everyman's impending fate. "You know," I had the mind to say, "my grandmother's last breath is not for you to speculate!"

Instead, the serenity on the speaker's and heaven-seeker's faces silenced all fear and, in fear's place, the room was filled with grace. There at Aunt Reta's guest house, where my grandmother has spent ten happy years thanks to the care of her first daughter, Uncle Rusty, Aunt Betty and the newest members of my Franco-American family gathered around Grandma Audrey. As the Hospice worker read in English, my children's French ears translated:

"Que votre coeur ne se trouble point. Croyez en Dieu..."*

And then the time came to say adieu.* Though told to do so, I did not say goodbye to my grandmother. "I'm heading back to France," I said, unintentionally kissing her soft lips after she had turned away a hollow and boney cheek and puckered up for dignity's sake.

Grandma_and_me"I will call you when I get home," I promised. Her hopeful eyes fixed on mine, and I continued: "My favorite story of yours is that one about the bed bugs. I really enjoyed hearing it again. Do you have another story for me?" I begged. Grandma said that she did. In fact, it was all coming back to her now... "Good," I said, pushing aside her blue-tinted tresses and kissing her on her firm forehead.

Faster than doubt, I left the room, unwilling to wonder about whether the words whirling in my wake would be our last.

References: le tourbillon (m) = whirlwind; tchatching ("Frenglish," or French / English, from "tchatcher" = to chat) ; le séjour (m) = stay; la grand-mère (f) = grandmother; Que votre coeur ne se trouble point. Croyez en Dieu = Do not let your heart be troubled. Trust in God; adieu (à + dieu) = until (we see) God

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Audio File~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Listen to my son, Max, pronounce today's French word in this quote:
La vraie pauvreté est celle de l'âme, une pauvreté dans laquelle le mental est toujours dans un tourbillon créé par les doutes, les soucis et les craintes.
Download tourbillon.mp3
Download tourbillon.wav

~~~~~~~~~~French film & more, in Shopping~~~~~~~~~~~
The Red Balloon. Newly restored and available for the first time on DVD, Albert Lamorisse s exquisite The Red Balloon remains one of the most beloved children's films of all time. In this deceptively simple, nearly wordless tale, a young boy discovers a stray balloon, which seems to have a mind of its own, on the streets of Paris. The two become inseparable, yet the world s harsh realities finally interfere. With its glorious palette and allegorical purity, the Academy Award winning The Red Balloon has enchanted movie lovers, young and old, for generations.

Organize your inner-francophile with these Parisian themed nesting cases.
Brie Cheese wheel - imported from France.
Limoges Bowling Pin Box : Collectors and aficionados alike covet the whimsical porcelain pieces created by the artisans of Limoges. Handcrafted in the same painstaking manner since the 18th century, these miniature boxes will delight you with their vibrant, intricate details.

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
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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 continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
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The blackboard reads: send flowers to those you love. You can do that here.

The following story appeared on May 17th, 2006 -- le jour "J" or "day of" my son's 11 year anniversary...

anticonstitutionnellement (listen to this word) adverb
  1. unconstitutionally

(better known as one of the longest words in the French language)

La corruption, le plus infaillible symptôme de la liberté constitutionnelle.
Corruption, the most infallible symptom of constitutional liberty. --Edward Gibbon

Twelve years ago, to the day, I stepped into this French life pour de bon.* Exactly one year later, a little life fell (from the heavens) into mine. Before today's birthday celebration begins, I've stolen a few moments for an interview with that little life, grown big.

KE: Max, how old are you today?
Max: Onze ans!*

KE: Who is your best friend?
Max: Tous mes copains sont mes meilleurs copains.*

KE: What is your favorite city?
Max: Phoenix.

KE: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Max: I want to be a player of basketball.
KE: That's "basketball player..."
Max: Mmmhmmm.

KE: What is your favorite subject in school?
Max: Art plastique et sport.*

KE: ... and your favorite word in French?
Max (with a sly grin): Anticonstitutionnellement.

KE: OK. That's one of the longest words in French, but maybe not your favorite! Tell me, then, what is the French Word of the Day?


References: pour de bon = for good; onze ans = eleven years old; Tous mes copains sont mes meilleurs copains = All my friends are my best friends; art plastique (m) et sport (m) = visual art and gym; anniversaire (m) = birthday, anniversary
"501 French Verbs" includes common idioms & example sentences demonstrating verb usage.
Murder in the Marais by Cara Black
Ultimate French Beginner - Intermediate (CD/Book)
Visions of France DVD: See the breathtaking beauty of southeastern France
Le Petit Nicolas never runs out of adventures on (and off) the playground (and children, as well as adults, never tire of his mischief). Check out the French and English editions available here.

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
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Chocolate shop in St. Tropez (c) Kristin EspinasseFrench Terms of Endearment, just below.

                *   *   *
On this 14th day of February, or what the French call "le quatorze février" (a.k.a. "Le jour de la Saint-Valentin"* and "la fête des amoureux"*) we begin with a string of lip-swaying nouns. Go ahead and pronounce the first line in the next paragraph and just feel your lips move to and fro--the exercise is a perfect warm up for...a kiss.

A smack, a smooch, a peck, a pash, and a bee-zoo* were once upon a time (and only in the land of lavender) known simply, humbly, endearingly as a kind of "poutoun" (poo-toon).  And in the Provence of yesteryear, Marilyn's "a kiss on the hand" might be, and rhymingly so, "un poutoun sur la main".

Given that this letter comes to you just a few beats away from the heart of Provence, not far from where La Festo di Poutoun, or "Kiss Festival," is soon to be underway, I hope you'll give today's word--un poutoun / a kiss--more than lip-service by sharing this edition with friend (or "other"...). Thank you for reading and I'll now sign off with a welcome change to "cordialement,"* "amicalement,"* "best regards," and even "cheers" :

                                        *     *     *

                 Le coeur découvre, la tête invente.
      The heart discovers, the head invents.--
Arthur Cravan

Les Mots Doux ~ Terms of Endearment

It may seem strange that the French, widely regarded as one of the most sophisticated and beautiful people on the globe, use some of the most strange (and not so beautiful) terms to refer to their belle/beau (loved one). Take, for example, "ma puce" which means "my flea" (very popular here); also "mon chou" or "my cabbage" (beau, n'est-ce pas?). Here are a few more ways to call your darling "sweetheart" in French:

mon amour (mohn a-moor) = my love
mon bébé (mohn bay-bay) = baby
ma belle (mah bel) = my beautiful (one)
ma biche (mah beesh) = my doe
ma caille (mah kahy) = my quail
mon canard (mohn ka-nar)= my duck
ma chérie/mon chéri (mah/mohn shay-ree) = my dear
mon chou* (mohn shoo) = my cream puff (sweetie-pie, cupcake)
mon coeur (mohn ker) = my sweetheart
mon lapin (mohn la-pahn) = my rabbit
ma moitié (mah mwa-tyay) = my half
mon poulet (mohn poo-lay) = my chicken
mon trésor (mohn tray-zor) = my treasure
mon poussin (mohn poo-sahn) = my chick
ma puce (mah poose) = my (little flea)
mon sucre d'orge (mohn sookr-dorzh) = my barley sugar
*from mon chou à la crème

More Love Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Amoureux
  les billets doux = valentines
  fréquenter = to see / go out with someone
  amouracher & s'amouracher de = to become infatuated with
  tomber amoureux = to fall in love
References: Le jour de la Saint-Valentin = Valentine's Day; la fête des amoureux = the lovers' celebration; bee-zoo = pronunciation for "bisou" = kiss; cordialement = cordially; amicalement = best wishes, yours

                     Selected "heart" expressions:
  un coup de coeur = a spontaneous attraction
  vider son coeur = to reveal one's feelings
  Aimer de tout son coeur = to love with all one's heart
  Laisser parler son coeur = to let one's heart speak
  Donner son coeur à quelqu'un = to give one's heart to someone
  un bourreau des coeurs = a ladykiller
  Faire le joli coeur = to seduce
  joli(e) comme un coeur = ravishing

Treasury of French Love: Poems, Quotations & Proverbs : In French and English

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
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Piazzacat_5The following post appeared two years ago...

(gree-booy-ay) verb
  to scribble, scrawl; to doodle

Citation du Jour:
L'écriture est la peinture de la voix.
Writing is the painting of the voice.


A Day in a French Life...
Jackie is lying on the couch, tucked under her couette* and watching "1, rue Sesame"* on channel 5. Her fièvre* has gone down, but now her stomach aches. I have set a plastic seau* next to her, just in case, and am presently seated beside her, trying to write in a pocket journal.

"Why don't any of the pens in this house work?" I say, shaking a ballpoint back and forth before grinding the nib into the paper again.

"Wait, mommy," my 8-year-old says as I get up, about to storm across the salon* to the vase where I stash misplaced stylos.* Jackie sits up in her makeshift bed and suggests this to me:

"Pour faire marcher un stylo--to get a pen to work...
il faut retourner la chaussure de ton pied--turn over the shoe on your foot,
et gribouiller sur la semelle!--and scribble on the sole!"

Her tip takes me back to the fifth grade, to Mr. Allison's class, where I used to kick up my heel and trace the deep grided swirls and zigzags of the rubber sole beneath (when I wasn't penning in the initials "DP"--in between hearts--on the flat spaces). I didn't scribble to get my pen to flow properly, but I sometimes used the nib to pry out a piece of chewing gum.

My husband walks into the room and I snap out of my reverie. "Did you ever use to doodle--you know, draw--on the sole of your shoes?" I ask, lifting my knee and pointing to my foot.

"Oui," Jean-Marc says. "It's a French thing."
"It's an American thing too," I confirm. "We, I mean--kids--sometimes doodle on the soles of their shoes."
"That's it," he concurs, "to get the pen to work."
"No," I explain, "we doodle... for doodling's sake."
"Oh, I haven't heard of that," my husband says.

Frustrated, I turn to our daughter, who is fully absorbed in the Cookie Monster:
"Where did you learn to write on your shoe?" I ask, hoping to shed light on this custom, French or English.
"From my teacher," she replies. "He does it to get his pen to work."

References: la couette (f) = comforter, duvet; rue Seseme = Sesame Street; la fièvre (f) = fever; le seau (m) = bucket; le salon (m) = living room; le stylo (m) = pen

Listen: hear my son, Max, pronounce the word 'gribouiller': Download gribouiller2.wav

Terms & Expressions:
le gribouille = a rash fool
le gribouillage = scrawl, scribble; doodling
le gribouilleur, euse = scribbler (pejorative term for writer)

Verb conjugation: je gribouille, tu gribouilles, il/elle gribouille, nous gribouillons, vous gribouillez, ils/elles gribouillent;  past participle = gribouillé

Books on the French language:
Tune Up Your French: Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Spoken French .
Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France
The Ultimate French Review and Practice: Mastering French Grammar for Confident Communication
Mastering French Vocabulary : A Thematic Approach
2000+ Essential French Verbs: Learn the Forms, Master the Tenses, and Speak Fluently!

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
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Today's totally off topic photo - taken in Mirabel-aux-Baronnies.

While French Word-A-Day will "break" from February 9th-25th, you might enjoy reading a few stories from the archives. To view the stories, visit the following link this Monday, Wednesday, and Friday -- and again on Tuesday/Thursday of the next week:

To be automatically notified when a story is posted, you might sign up for the RSS feed:

ronfler (ron-flay) verb
  to snore, to purr (engine)
  to roar, to boom

Verb conjugation: je ronfle, tu ronfles, il/elle ronfle, nous ronflons, vous ronflez, ils/elles ronflent  => past participle = ronflé
Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's French word and read the following quote: Download ronfler.mp3 .Download ronfler.wav

On s'aperçoit qu'on aime quelqu'un quand on trouve à ses ronflements quelque chose de musical, de tendre, de céleste. We realize that we love someone when we find in his snoring something musical, tender, celestial. --Jean Chalon


Tomorrow morning my husband, the kids, and I fly west over the Atlantic, across the East Coast and over to the wild west, mille mercis* to Sandy.*

If you are a wild westerner, then I hope to see you at one of the book/wine events* that we have organized. If you should see me, you may notice the wrinkles along the lower left side of my face: pillow impressions, those are, from the bed linens pressing into my jowl. I can explain...

Each night my husband talks in his sleep. This, of all things, is what he says:
"Chérie, tu ronfles." ("Darling, you are snoring.")

"Je suis désolée,"* I say, just to appease him, for everyone knows you can't reason with a sleep talker. To reassure my husband that peace will return, I roll over to my left side as one who snores might.

If his sleep talking continues, with his indefatigable "Chérie, tu ronfles. Darling, you are snoring," we may have resort to what the French call "chambre à part," that is: sleeping in separate rooms -- for I am worn out by his three-word repetitive phrase.

Meantime, as you can sympathize, it is an exercise in patience for me to sleep beside a man who babbles night after night after night: "Chérie, tu ronfles. Darling, you are snoring." Enough! The next time my husband says "Chérie, tu ronfles," I've a mind to answer back, "Chéri, tu REVES!"* Maybe IN HIS DREAMS he hears me snore. God knows *I* don't hear me snore. Which gets me thinking...

They do say that ronfleurs* cannot hear their own ronflements*... I wonder whether I should go on faith with this one, you know: believe in something that I cannot perceive. Then again, I remember this bit of scripture* that my mom taught me:

"Ainsi la foi vient de ce qu'on entend." Faith comes by hearing.

So if I can't hear, then how am I supposed to have faith? If "la foi vient de ce qu'on entend" then how can I be sure that Jean-Marc is telling the truth about my snoring?

Enough! Let's not lose track of the facts: my husband talks in his sleep, never mind if his nighttime vocabulary is all of three words: Chérie, tu ronfles. I wonder why HE cannot hear HIMSELF? (So busy, I suppose, is he hearing ME "snore"!).

Still... I admit to a phobia of falling asleep in an airplane. I fear that my mouth might drop open, as my head nods off, this followed by a powerful vibration that has nothing to do with air turbulence OUTSIDE the plane.

So, just in case you happen to be on the same flight as I, and you, like Jean-Marc, are a sleep talker, maybe we can work something out. At the first sign of cabin turbulence, just look over at me and say: "Chérie, tu ronfles." As for me, I'll "roll over" to my side, roll my eyes, and whisper, "in your dreams!" If you don't hear my response, you can be sure that you are sound asleep and at peace (and I can be sure that I have stopped "snoring"). That, somehow, settles that.

References: mille mercis = a thousand thanks; Sandy = see her travel blog; event (click here for more info; je suis désolée = I am sorry; Chéri, tu rêves! = Darling, you're dreaming!; le ronfleur (la ronfleuse) = snorer; le ronflement = snoring; scripture = Romans 10:17

In French Music:  Legends of French chanson join exquisite new voices for an enchanting musical sojourn to the cafes of Paris.
French QWERTY Keyboard Stickers for a regular English, American or any other PC keyboard - easily convert your keyboard to French
"Utensils" Vintage style heavy terracotta kitchen utensils pot French country style
Paris Eiffel Tower Collage 12 File Folders with Vintage Designs
My French Kitchen: A Book of 120 Treasured Recipes

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Note: French Word-A-Day will "break" from February 11th-25th!

godasse  (go-dass) noun, feminine (informal French)
   : shoe

:: Audio File ::
Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's word & idiom: en avoir plein les godasses ("to have one's shoes full" = to be weary, tired, exhausted) Download godasse.mp3  Download godasse.wav

Larousse Advanced French-English Dictionary: contains boxed notes help clarify the most common expressions, insuring the correct usage every time.

If we are boarding a plane in Paris and flying back to my hometown, Phoenix, it is thanks to Sandy. Sandy, who is a flight attendant, wrote to me for the first time last summer--around the time my grandmother began to spend more time in bed than out of it. By coincidence, Sandy wondered whether I had been back to the States recently to visit family.

In fact, it has been two-and-a-half years since I returned "home," French family in tow. Look up the price of an airline ticket from Marseilles to Phoenix, multiply that by four family members, and you'll understand why.

Sandy, in the emails and phone calls that followed that initial contact, arranged for Jean-Marc, the children, and me to fly from France to America using four of her remaining guest passes. With these passes, the price would amount to $300 per ticket instead of three or four times that. Thanks to Sandy, we will soon be with my grandmother when we fly "home" on Saturday.

GrandmaI did not set out today to tell you about one person's unique and generous gesture. Instead, I meant to tell you about my son's new pair of shoes, which he needed for the upcoming international flight. Back to those "buddy" passes, certain restrictions apply--one being not to travel in one's Speedo and one's flip flops. (We've packed the Speedos and the flip flops and will be boarding in business attire.)

Returning, now, to our original word of the day, "godasse" (shoe)... Just last night I learned a new French idiom after a long-suffering Frenchman announced that he no longer had "la tête dans les godasses": that is, he no longer had "his head in his shoes". Things seemed to be "looking up" for him. I feel certain that my Grandma Audrey now knows the feeling.

Jules, my mom, will be flying in from Mexico for this family reunion. She tells me that Grandma is now sitting up in her bed, planning her wardrobe: lining up her lipsticks and pretty dresses, "dolling up" as she would say. In fact, she's in the market for a new bathing suit. You see, after our upcoming visit, she's set her sights on Puerto Vallarta! From there, Jules tells me, they'll conquer France, where Jules has visions of Grandma adding her own farm-girl flair to the French cuisine at our harvest table.

Meantime, my sister, Heidi, is taking care of immediate needs including arranging for a regular Meals-on-Wheels delivery to Grandma. But that doesn't stop our mom from focusing on Grandma's feisty, if fatigued, spirit.

An excerpt from Mom's recent email tells of her selling the "France or Bust" idea to Grandma and hints at Mom's own re-ignited spirit:

"I threw in the incentive that once she was stronger ... we would definitely have to plan on going to France.  Of course, she jumped right onto that idea. She could finally be the Grande Dame of the French Vineyard...  I can see Grandma in our little apartment at your house, Grandma in the director's chair
telling me what to do as we prepare banana cream pie and date nut bread for all of the harvesters. I am going to have to learn to drive ... so that I can take her to the market to shop for whatever she wants to create (with me as #1 slave and sous-chef) for the dish of the day or every-other day..."

"Purpose will relieve her pain," Mom concludes, taking a swift swig of her very own medicine: Hope.

By the way, last time Grandma Audrey flew to Mexico, in addition to her oxygen tank, wheelchair, and Ensure, she had with her nine pairs of godasses! I guess Grandma wouldn't have to worry about dress codes if she were lucky enough to get a guest pass. And she wouldn't mind being seated next to handsome Frenchman, be he in a Speedo, or flip flops, or "all dolled up," as Grandma would say.

One last excerpt from my mom's last email, a passage I almost overlooked so full was I with enthusiasm for what I had just read. Regarding Grandma's visit to Mexico (one my mom is hoping for) she writes: "Time to start cleaning out Grandma's bedroom and finally look at all my junk in there, I haven't looked at it for 4 years.  This is so good for me too.  Everyone needs to be needed."

                                       *     *     *
Read about my grandmother, Audrey, in the chapter "Manquer" ("to miss") of Words in a French Life.

I will be in Seattle on February 12th. If you are in the area, meet me at Abraxus Books! More info here.

Shoes for Amélie : children's book and introduction to World War II history, inspired by the true stories of families in the Plateau Vivarais-Lignon region of France. It is the heart-warming tale of a young boy whose family who shelters Jewish refugees during the Second World War.

Applique Lady's Mule or shoe linen drawstring bag with lavender sachet French import

Le Creuset Stoneware Heart Ramekins, Dark Chestnut with Pastel - Assorted Set of 4

Cavallini Boxed Magnets Set: Paris Map 24 piece set

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

Our Seattle wine tasting event is sold out. If you are in the Seattle area and did not get tickets then we'll hope to meet you at Abraxus books. Please stop by and say bonjour! Click here for more information and to see more cities in our west coast visit.

parages (pa-razh) noun, masculine, plural
  1. waters, region(s)
  2. vicinity, area

dans les parages = in the immediate vicinity, neighborhood

:: Audio File  ::
Listen to the sound of the French word "parages". Hear Jean-Marc pronounce this sentence: "Coco est sûrement dans les parages." Download parages.mp3..Download parages.wav


After our cat, Coco, went missing last week, the kids decided to take a few precautions. A computer chip embedded beneath a furry wrist seemed too futuristic (as well as unfeasible and unfriendly) so my daughter settled for a more old-fashioned solution: jingle bells.

The kind of bell that jingles from a French cat's collar is not a "cloche" but "un grelot"* and while the latter only tickles a pet owner's ears, the sound is enough to assure us that kitty is near. In fact...

"Il est toujours dans les parages,"* my son points out. And to think we feared that Coco's spirit had a bicoastal bent. Instead, it seems he is ever in the environs.*

Speaking about being "in the vicinity," and changing subjects completely, I've been following the Recipe Poll, which is underway. Thank you for voting on what you would like to see baked or burned or blogged* about next. Looks as if luck is on my side as:

1) it is the Beginning of the Month and ....
2) those "End of Month" Croquettes are currently in the lead!

Back to luck and lieu*: absent from the near vicinity, or "parages," are a few key ingredients for the favored "End of the Month Crunch" recipe. (I suppose these ingredients are things that tend to collect in one's fridge over the course of the month, things that, by the 4th of February, haven't appeared yet
but that, by the end of February, one will be scraping together in an attempt to make edible ends meet.) Enough speculation. There is still time to vote! Please choose from the list below:

References: un grelot (m) = little spherical bell; il est toujours dans les parages = he is always in the area (around us); les environs = surroundings; blogged = (see my fledgling food blog, click here; le lieu (m) = place (area)


Valentines' Day Glitter 12 Cards boxed tin Carte Postale Cavallini Set of 18 postcards

"Learn French the Fast and Fun Way" with cartoon-style illustrations, language games, and puzzles.

French Alphabet Flash Cards Make Learning French Fun ~ vintage look boxed 1940s reproduction. Learn your ABCs and a little French with these 26 alphabet Flash Cards. Reproduced from a 1940s French childrens' book, charming vintage images accompany each letter of the alphabet and illustrate its corresponding word in French. From A to Z, these French flash cards will delight kids from age 5 to 95.

It is allergy season and you are looking for the perfect something for a Francophile: put a little bit of Paris in their pocket with these printed tissues:

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