le rosier


Mmanm's photo's 181
Where Angels Fear to Tread. The red sign says "off limits to the public". That didn't stop Mom from wandering into the junk shop's entrails.  I shouted for her to come out and, when she did, she looked up at those angels, shook her head.

bousculer (boo-skoo-lay) verb

    : to jostle, push, shove; to bump into or against; to rush, hurry up
  to shake or liven up

Bousculer les habitudes, c'est encore le meilleur moyen de faire évoluer les choses. Shaking up one's still the best way to make things happen. --Cyrille Guimard

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

In less than two weeks Mom will return home to Mexico. Of all her coming and goings, this visit has been the least eventful (apart from Le Big Fry): no riding to Marseilles, weekly, in an ambulance, no standing in the soup line (and getting chewed out by her "stickler-for-rules" daughter), no pilfering through the local poubelles for Secret Garden lawn furniture, no running away from her hostess-daughter's home, in Saint Maximin (...and again in Les Arcs....).

If my unruly Mom's larger-than-life ways are shrinking, her mind and her dreams aren't following suit. She has places to go and gypsies to see and why, darling daughter, are you so serious all the time? Follow me!

I leave you now with a story from the archives. Meantime, off to see what Mom is up to....

June 7th, 2006...
Four days from now, life as I know it will be bousculée* when a certain character takes up summer residence chez nous.* You may remember her as the one whose shirt shot up when the French cancérologue,* using his elementary English, and in a thick accent, asked to see her teef...

"TEETH!" I cried to my mom, tugging her blouse back down. "He wants to see your teeth!"

What, you might ask, was a cancer specialist doing examining your mom's teeth? Bref:*

In the summer of 2003, my mom was at the Paoli-Calmettes* cancer institute in Marseilles for a mastectomy, but what she really wanted was a few new teeth. It had been years (ten? fifteen?) since she had set foot in a doctor's office and she was making up for lost time. There was her hip (the broken one, and the reason for her séjour* in France), and the teeth that she herself had pulled back in Mexico (you know, the littlish ones to the side of the side of the side of the two front ones). In a nutshell, her most recent visit rocked my world and, just when things are getting calmed down again, the woman with the flamboyant feather in her hat is returning.

It isn't the sum of a few more malentendus* that will soon shake up my quotidien,* but one starry-eyed survivor who, by her breath, will be a constant reminder to part from my tree-hugging ways, to venture out to the end of the limb and consider the view from the tip of an unsteady branch. Only from that perspective can one understand that baring a few cancerous teefs* in life is no big deal, the important thing is to trust, to take the instructions facing you and follow them even when you can't speak the language or understand the outcome, to know people will step in to help, if you will but let them. The rest doesn't really matter much and the lesson is always the same: it is better to bare your soul than to sit clenching your teef.*

References: bousculé(e) = shaken up; chez nous = at our place; le/la cancérologue (m.f.) = cancer specialist; bref = in brief, to make a long story short; Paoli-Calmettes = cancer institute in Marseilles; le séjour (m) = stay; le malentendu (m) = misunderstanding; le quotidien (m) = everyday life, routine; teef = (made up word for 'le sein' = breast); teef = (from the doctor's slurred English, for "teeth")

Terms and Expressions:
le bouscueil = debacle
la bousculade = jostle, scuffle, rush
se bousculer = to get a move on
Listen: Hear my son, Max, pronounce the word "bousculer": Download bousculer2.wav

Conjugation: je bouscule, tu bouscules, il/elle bouscule, nous bousculons, vous bousculez, ils/elles bousculent => past participle: bousculé

French synonyms for bousculer: bouleverser (to overturn), culbuter (to knock over), heurter (to knock against), pousser (to push) (but also to grow...), secouer (to shake)

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Christine Dashper

You never cease to amaze me how beautifully you share Kristin. Thank you.

It's clear one has to listen carefully to those French accents, especially when referring to parts of the anatomy!!

Enjoy the remaining time with Jules en Frence.

warm wishes

Christine Dashper

Whoops! it really was a typo, I did mean France, not Frence.... :)

Evelyn Jackson

I wish some of your mom's devilish ways would rub off on me! I'm 'way too much a Capricorn...serious all the time. Jules is my hero. Tell her I've taken a big leap and am coming to southwest France for the whole month of Sept this year. Will she be visiting again then? Maybe we could meet for a pastis en Provence....


What a delightful tale! Reminds me of attending a chinese friend's wedding and eating 'CRAMS', and I kept asking 'What are crams?', and my husband was trying not to bust up because the man was saying these are 'CLAMS'! Indeed, malentendus make for a lot of fun, and how is it that politicians always manage to fight over one.

Tell your lovely Mom Bon Voyage for me, and how wonderful she went into the "interdit" shop.

Bon Vendredi!


Are the French using the Canadian word: “le bouscueil” you mentioned in your list of Terms and Expressions?

The made-up word "teefs" made me laugh!
The sound 'ee' in 'teefs', as in teeth is a long sound. If the same sound was short, you would get the French word "tifs".
"les tifs" = slang for "les cheveux" (hair).

I love the word “la bousculade”. It reminds me of unruly children rushing out of a classroom, running, shouting and bumping into each other to make their way to the playground! Quelle belle bousculade!

“Se bousculer” (when, in a group of people, each one “bouscule” the others). The reflexive verb expresses a natural reaction, a way to breathe and to survive if you don't want to get completely squashed and trampled by the (mad) crowd around you.
Coming to my mind right now is The Crowd (“La Foule”) sung by Edith Piaf.
...”perdue parmi ces gens qui me bousculent,
étourdie, désemparée, je reste là ...”
(... lost among these people who jostle me
dizzy, distressed, I stay there...)
Lyrics --->
Video, with translation in English --->

I know how much our life can be “bousculée” by cancer (and events beyond our control), how much faith and determination can become the best way out, how much 'loving & caring people' can help us to go more smoothly through nightmares, pains and “bousculades” of all sorts! Once the worst seems to have passed, we may still have physical/mental scars & bruises to deal with, but, we've certainly learned about our priorities in life. Easier then to readjust our approach towards our own sense of values, of humour and of happiness.

"Interdit au public"? All right, Jules read the word "public", so, why not, I suppose, stepping into what was -in her mind- a 'public place', a bit dark, but, public? She hasn't mentally registered the meaning of "Interdit" (not yet...). Hmmm, this is my version full of good excuses!
"En tout cas" (in any case), Kristin, it looks as if the angels will keep on welcoming the customers of that Bric-à-Brac shop, instead of smiling amidst the flowers in your garden or waiting in Jules' suitcase before flying to Mexico!
Jules, say a kind Hello from me to the neighbour's donkey.
Any painting in progress?
Enjoy your weekend to the full!


Dear Kristin,
Cherish these last two weeks and celebrate whatever le bouscueil comes your way:) In my mind's eye, during the midst of the turmoil, I am lately trying to take Petulah Clark's sagacious suggestion to heart to go "Downtown" and dance "the gentle bossa nova"!


Thank you for these notes, which bring giggles and smiles and more.

Newforest: in case I haven't told you lately: thank you so much for your insights into these French words, and for the colorful examples (I love "la bousculade" and those unruly childen rushing out to the playground). On my way, now, to check out the links that you included. Merci!


Second thought:
What about if, after all, the "Interdit au public" plate was simply one of the items "A Vendre" (For sale)?
If it was, then, no restriction about exploring the dark entrails of the junk shop... I know, I seem to be trying to find too many good excuses, don't I?


Good point, Newforest! (Or at least "a good excuse" next time someone wants to explore those off limits parts.)


Kristin, I want to say that I absolutely adore your blog. I don't have internet at work, but I do receive e-mails, and it makes my morning much brighter. I also adore your mom! I began learning French this year in hopes of having my two year old son learn along with me. We like to watch Mimi la Souris on YouTube and listen to kids' French songs. His favorite is "Bateau Ciseasu." Boat scissors? Like... a paper boat? I don't know. Anyhow, I have always wanted to request, since you have some lovely children, that you feature some children's things one day when you are perhaps feeling less inspired. Thanks again for all of your work.


I am with Samantha - it makes wonderful reading. And I am picking up french words here and there from reading such entertaining writing.

Bousculer les habitudes, c'est encore le meilleur moyen de faire évoluer les choses.
I like it!

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)