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In Mirabel-les-Baronnies, lovely tumbling roses.

luxer (loox-ay) verb

    : to dislocate

luxer l'épaule = to dislocate one's shoulder
avoir l'épaule luxée
= to have a dislocated shoulder

Audio File & Example Sentence:
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Samedi matin, j'ai fait un faux mouvement et je me suis luxé l'épaule. Saturday morning, after an awkward movement, I dislocated my shoulder.

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

In the emergency room parking lot there were people picking cherries! This, I decided, was a good sign--and not at all the atmosphere of panic that I had imagined. If all went well, we, too, would be picking cherries before long....

I drove up to the ER entrance, turned off the engine, and hurried around the car to open the passenger door, unbuckle my husband's seat belt, and help him out of the vehicle.
"Amène mon sac et mon portable,"* Jean-Marc instructed, before making his way, painstakingly, to the building.

By the time I had parked the car and entered the ER Jean-Marc was nowhere in sight, but had already been whisked away, into the entrails of l'hôpital.* The prompt secours,* I realized, was due to his injury: une luxation de l'épaule*; this, due to a faux mouvement* (an elbow-turned-all-arm jerk in response hitting his funny bone.* Talk about a freak accident! 

The last time he ended up in the ER (after he slipped at the beach in a similar freak accident) he was, surprisingly, admitted before the other accidentés*: those arm-clutching, anguished-faced, crying, and hiccuping patients that waited their turn for treatment. That's when I learned that a dislocated shoulder takes priority over, say, a feverish and howling baby or drunkenness (and the bobos* that ensue...).

On this, our most recent visit to the ER, I was as prepared as usual, c'est-à-dire,* still scrambling for paperwork after the receptionist requested "La Carte d'Identité et Carte Vitale,* s'il vous plaît". Rummaging through my husband's briefcase, I found his Carte Electorale.*

"Will this do... for now?" I asked, waving the card. The receptionist looked doubtful, but collected the voting card in order to copy down the holder's name.

"How about this?" I asked, handing over Jean-Marc's Carte Nationale de Donneur de Sang Bénévole".* When the receptionist shook her head, I flipped over the blood-donor card and offered:
"0+. He is 0 plus... in case that helps!" The receptionist once again offered a doubtful look, which got me wondering what my own blood type was. Never mind, back to rooting through the briefcase.

This time I found a Carte Fidélité* from our local pizzeria, Léo Pizza, and noticed that we were due for a free pie sometime soon. Perhaps tonight, come to think of it! We might need one; after all, who knows how long this ER wait will be? I shoved the card into my pocket and continued my search.

"Et voilà! ça y est. Trouvées!"* I announced, triumphantly handing over both the pink driver's license and the green insurance card.

"Merci," the receptionist replied, before asking me to patienter* in the salle d'attente.*

I greeted the others in the waiting room, "Bonjour Messieurs-Dames"*. There was a family of five, including a young couple, their toddler, and the grandparents. A man in sweats sat alone, crutches at his side. Another large family, the silent women wearing headscarves and long satin jackets, over long pants, sat facing me. I wasn't sure whether to exchange eye contact or not, out of respect for customs. That's when my husband's iPhone rang and, pushing every "button" imaginable, I couldn't manage to answer it. I looked over at the women wearing headscarves, who had trouble hiding their amusement at my predicament. A little comic relief seemed to be a welcome change.

One very sad looking woman was called into the ER room and I wondered whether she was on her way to see her own husband, or perhaps a child... I hoped she would return with a relieved look on her face.

An hour passed and the sad women did not return but two other women, dressed in blue uniforms, came out only to disappear into another room. One of them had hair the same color as her uniform and, for some reason, this lightened my mood. To me, any connection between Smurf blue hair and bad news was impossible or, rather, a wearer of Smurf blue hair would not be a deliverer of bad news. Now if only those women would return before my mind continued with its off-the-wall, or simply anxious, associations.

Another hour passed. I looked out the great windows to the ER parking lot, and those cherry trees, and wondered whether I might do as the others: pick berries! What's the use of waiting and worrying?

Just then, someone called my name. "Madame Espinasse? Vous pouvez venir." I followed the voice into the back room where my husband was en route, via stretcher, to a resting room. He was torso nu* save for an elastic upper-body brace.

"Il a le sourire maintenant,"* the doctor said and I flashed the same--along with a few twinkling eyes of encouragement--back to my husband.

"Il paraît que ça fait très mal," I said to the doctor, not knowing what else to say, besides merci beaucoup.
"Oh, oui!" she confirmed, showing me the X-rays, which made me shudder. So that's what a dislocated shoulder looks like?

"Just how did you get it back in place?" I questioned.
"It took five of us to do so!" the doctor answered, admitting that she was not the only one to take credit.

Back in the ER parking lot, I pointed out to Jean-Marc that the cherry trees were ripe for picking. "These are not cherry trees," my husband corrected, his speech a bit slow (was it the morphine?). "Ce sont des mûriers."*

What a pleasure, after all, to discover les mûriers!--or to identify them, at least. I may not have known the difference between a cherry and a mulberry tree, but quiz me on blood types... group A, group B, AB and O... and I can now tell you which one belongs to my on-the-mend fellow.

Corrections, comments--and stories of your own--always welcome and appreciated. Merci!


~~~~~~~~~~~~French Vocabulary~~~~~~~~~~
Note: no glossary today...
I ran out of time due to this edition's deadline! Please look up the terms (below) and note them down, here. Many thanks for your help!

Terms to look up & share:
Amène mon sac et mon portable
une luxation de l'épaule
funny bone (in French)
faux mouvement

Carte d'Identité
Carte Vitale
Carte Electorale
Et voilà! ça y est. Trouvées
Carte Nationale de Donneur de Sang Bénévole
Carte Fidélité
salle d'attente
Bonjour Messieurs-Dames

torso nu
il a le sourire maintenant

Please report any misspelled or missing words. Thanks so much!


Chambre de luxe for a luxated shoulder!

Would you like to send Jean-Marc a get well message? Thanks for doing so, here!


Three Random Words:
la verrerie = glass factory, glass-making shop; glassware
une secousse = jolt, bump (train, car), jerk; shock
poupard / pouparde = chubby-cheeked => poupard (noun) = chubby baby

Ongoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal. If you find value in this website and would like to keep it going strong, please know your donation towards this effort makes all the difference! A contribution by check or via PayPal (links below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!

♥ $10    
♥ $25    
♥ Or click here to send the amount of your choice

To purchase our memoir, THE LOST GARDENS click here.


Roupillon (c) Kristin Espinasse
See the little sign hanging from the clothespin (lower left)? The faded writing reads "Je suis couchée" ("I am in bed"). Leave it to the French to post such warnings out front their doors! Discover the sleepy town (and sleepy inhabitants...) of Mirabel-aux-Baronnies in today's story column.

roupillon (roo-pee-yon) noun, masculine

    nap, siesta

piquer / faire un roupillon = to have a nap, rest.

Sound File & Example Sentence
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Pas loin de Nyons les gens se couchent, ils font des roupillons.
Not far from Nyons, the people lie down, and take a nap.


A Day in a French Life...
Kristin Espinasse

"Naptime Near Nyons"

Over fragrant French hills and through grapevines teeming with leaves... past fruit trees, branches bowing, weighted down by cerises*... beyond, count them, un, deux--au moins trois--églises*... there lies the old tattered town of Mirabel-aux-Baronnies.

I wander up and down its sleepy streets, see a faded sundial, a fish-faced fountain, and a church steeple. In private gardens acanthus and purple lavender grow... but where, I wonder are the townspeople?

Through an arch in a stone wall I follow a path goudronné,* climb stairs up to the nestled village, traverse a few placettes*. There are lauriers-roses,* passiflore,* jasmine--and yet--where are the gardeners, where are the locals?

A clue and an answer lie just around the bend, beyond a beaten bamboo fence... where a citoyenne* lies sleeping at the front door, in the hall entrance! There, flanked by a narrow door frame, a cot has been placed; in it, a dozing dame!

I can just spot her twinkle toes, at the edge of the bed, a draped door curtain covers the rest, hiding her sleepy head.

The sweet scene is the most delightful and quirky yet -- it is everything I love about France: eccentric, original, authentic.

I tuck my camera under my arm and walk on. They say "Let sleeping dogs lie" and, of sleeping dames, well--it's not polite to spy!

*     *     *

Post note: I have only ever seen humans stand in a doorway... until I moved to France, where the French are wont to pull up a chair (or a cot) flush with door-sill, and watch the world walk by, or simply be still.

Comments, corrections--and stories of your own--are always welcome and appreciated. Click here to access the comments box.

Note: there are several photos that accompany this story. Don't miss them in an upcoming photo bouquet over at Cinéma Vérité! (In tomorrow's photo blog we'll enjoy over 15 pictures of Hyères--and another character!).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~French Vocabulary~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

la cerise (f) = cherry; un, deux--au moins trois...églises = one, two--at least three--churches; goudronner = to tar; la placette (f) = "little place" (square); le laurier-rose (m) = oleander, rosebay; la passiflore (f) = passionflower; la citoyenne (le citoyen) = citizen

In books: because today's topic touches on the art of living (something the French might have learned from the Italians?) I thought some of you language lovers might appreciate this new book:

Bella lingua La Bella Lingua: My Love Affair with Italian, the World's Most Enchanting Language
by Dianne Hales

A celebration of the language and culture of Italy, La Bella Lingua is the story of how a language shaped a nation, told against the backdrop of one woman’s personal quest to speak fluent Italian.

For anyone who has been to Italy, the fantasy of living the Italian life is powerfully seductive. But to truly become Italian, one must learn the language. This is how Dianne Hales began her journey. In La Bella Lingua, she brings the story of her decades-long experience with the “the world’s most loved and lovable language,” together with explorations of Italy’s history, literature, art, music, movies, lifestyle, and food in a true opera amorosa—a labor of her love of Italy.

Three Random Words:
nier = to deny
oyat (m) = beachgrass
PV (p.-v.) (procès-verbal) = fine (speeding, parking ticket)

Ongoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal. If you find value in this website and would like to keep it going strong, please know your donation towards this effort makes all the difference! A contribution by check or via PayPal (links below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!

♥ $10    
♥ $25    
♥ Or click here to send the amount of your choice

To purchase our memoir, THE LOST GARDENS click here.


Gypsy Caravan (c) Kristin Espinasse
I fell in love with this roulotte, or gypsy caravan, in Hyères. Don't show my mom this photo -- or she'll be text messaging me in seconds--and in ALL CAPS--instructing me to cash in the kids' college fund -- and buy the wooden trailer! Travel, Jules might argue, is the best education. More photos in the upcoming photo blog.

*     *     *

Holy moly! After Monday's ooh-ooh taboo topic, we'll steer clear of Hallelujah... Hobos & Hippies in today's word-a-day!

saisonnier, saisonnière (say-zohn-yay, say-zohn-yair) noun

    : itinerant, seasonal worker

adjective: seasonal (Also: la dépression saisonnière = seasonal depression)

Audio File* & Example Sentence:
Download MP3 -or- Download Wav file

C'est parce que le travail que recherche le hobo est par essence mobile et saisonnier (travaux publics, moissons, etc.) qu'il adopte précisément ce mode de vie et nul autre. A la difference du vagabond, pour lequel "faire la route" se suffit à soi-même...

Anyone care to translate the example sentence? Answers welcome in the comments box!

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

"...the less I have, the more I am a happy man..."

Hippies, Hobos, and How To live life. Such are the thoughts of a 14-year-old. It is late and my son should be in bed. Instead, he tiptoes down tommette* tiled stairs, to the kitchen, to join me at the dinner table, where I have sat down to a late meal, solo.

Max shares with me his day, including les rabs* he ate at the cantine* (he loved the broccoli quiche, which dispels yet another self-made myth: that the French don't like broccoli. I guess you have to team it with eggs and a buttery crust, to experience such broccoli lust). 

I notice the highlights in my son's hair, sun-kissed blond -- and, come to think of it, too long? He'll need to get it cut again soon. Then again, maybe this is the style he's after? As if reading my mind, Max says:

"I am not a hippie... but I think like them."
"Oh really, how's that?" I ask, pushing my plate over to a still-hungry boy.
"I think they are right to bring peace and love into this world," Max states, before quickly finishing off my plate. He is growing and ever hungry for food and, more and more, for meaning; I wish I could give him platefuls of it... instead of asking him to share notes.

When my teenager is not sharing sage words, it is song that he passes along. I leave you with the thoughtful lyrics to one of his favorites. Enjoy them, below, and let Max and me know what you think of the paroles. (The French lyrics follow).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~French Vocabulary~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
la tommette (tomette) (f)
= hexagonal floor tile; le rab (m) = seconds (second helping of food); la cantine (f) = cafeteria, dining hall
"Like a Hobo" by Charlie Winston

I’ve always known
Since I was a young boy
In this world, everything’s as good as bad

Now my father told me always speak a true word
And I have to say that is the best advice I’ve had

Because something burns inside of me
It’s everything I long to be

And lies they only stop me from feeling free

Like a hobo from a broken home
Nothing’s gonna stop me
Like a hobo from a broken home
Nothing’s gonna stop me

I’ve never yearned for anybody’s fortune
The less I have the more I am a happy man
Now my mother told me always keep your head on
Because some may praise you just to get what they want

And I said mama I am not afraid
They will take what they will take
And what would life be like without a few mistakes

Like a hobo from a broken home
Nothing’s gonna stop me
Like a hobo from a broken home
Nothing’s gonna stop me

Comme Un Vagabond
J’ai toujours su
Depuis tout petit
Que dans ce monde, tout est aussi bon que mauvais
Mon père m’a dit un jour de toujours dire la vérité
Et je dois dire que c’est de loin le meilleur conseil que j’ai reçu
Parce que j’ai quelque chose qui brûle à l’intérieur
C’est tout ce que je désire être
Et les mensonges ne font que me priver de ma liberté

... French lyrics from GreatSong.Net


Selected Hobo Terms
Tokay Blanket
: drinking alcohol to stay warm
Banjo : a portable frying pan
Blowed-in-the-glass : a genuine, trustworthy individual
California Blankets : newspapers, intended to be used for bedding
Padding the hoof : to travel by foot
Spear biscuits : looking for food in garbage cans not miss many more colorful terms at the Wikipedia entry for Hobo

Three Random Words:
= to burst out laughing
un hochet (m)
= rattle (toy)
un orteil
(m) = toe

Ongoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal. If you find value in this website and would like to keep it going strong, please know your donation towards this effort makes all the difference! A contribution by check or via PayPal (links below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!

♥ $10    
♥ $25    
♥ Or click here to send the amount of your choice

To purchase our memoir, THE LOST GARDENS click here.


Red Brick Window (C) Kristin Espinasse
A red brick window in Rasteau (Vaucluse)

glossolalie (glosso-laly) noun, feminine

    : glossolalia (speaking in tongues)

Audio File

(...this feature is on holiday today, along with the rest of France... meantime, anyone care to translate the following example sentence, from Wikipedia? Thank you for sharing your interpretation in the comments box.)

Pour les chrétiens, la glossolalie correspond au « parler en langues », phénomène décrit dans les Actes des Apôtres..

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

I was driving home from school the other day, windows rolled down in time to smell the sweet-scented genêt,* gigantic bouquets of which line the countryside in May, when the kids informed me there would be no school on Monday.

"Another French holiday, is it?"
The kids looked surprised until Max broke the silence:
"Mom, don't you know?"

Truth is, I didn't. But I had a hunch (given the stressed syllables in my son's reply, "don't YOU know?").

Yes, I had a swift suspicion... that the holiday-in-question had to do with religion. Like that, Sunday found me holed up in my room, flipping through a children's bible -- trying to figure out just which 3-day vacation we were observing this time.

That is how I learned about Pentecôte,* which, among other things, and depending on your religious upbringing, refers to the birth of the Church. This part is still unclear to me, as for the tongues, what a story! One I later shared with my husband:

"And the tongues descended from Heaven, like fire!" I informed him, relaying a passage from Acts as we sat at the dinner table. "...and landed on the apostles...who were then filled with the Holy Spirit":

...Des langues, semblables à des langues de feu, leur apparurent, séparées les unes des autres, et se posèrent sur chacun d'eux.*

"Do you think we are to take this literally?" I asked my husband, in a blind-leading-the-blind appeal (only three years ago did my Mom, after much thought--and a great deal of fretting--take Jean-Marc's hand into her own, and ask him to invite the Lord into his heart).

Presently, Jean-Marc looked doubtful.
"Well, I don't believe, for example, that..." and here, my husband listed, to my surprise, several of the stories that he thought should be taken metaphorically, including the marcher sur l'eau* episode. I listened, carefully, but put my foot down when he got to divine conception.

"That's just not possible," Jean-Marc declared.
"But isn't this the basis of belief? Faith?"

"And why is it that a virgin mother is so unfathomable to you? I mean, look at some of the phenomena that we've witnessed in our day."

"Par exemple?"* Jean-Marc questioned, and I was hoping he wouldn't.

Well, I didn't know, and so I shot off "cloning" and "the internet". Jean-Marc countered that such are "phenomena" explained by science and technology.

"Yes, but these things would have been unfathomable back then. Who's to say that what is unfathomable to us today, won't be an ordinary occurrence... light years away? There are things in life that we just cannot fathom!"

Jean-Marc responded simply, "What does 'fathom' mean?" and I wondered whether my husband was just trying to skirt the issue.

It occurred to me to return to science and to mathematics--the roll-of-the-dice kind--and so I brought up the avis* of two esteemed philosophers: William James and Blaise Pascal (Pascal's Wager). These two came to the conclusion that there was just no knowing.. so why not choose to believe, why not take a gamble? For what do we have to lose?  Why not bet on belief?

"And so I'm betting on God," I informed my husband, "and gambling on a Virgin Birth and, while I'm here, I'm wagering that walk on the water!" Why not?!

Literally, figuratively, smigurtively! When I think about how a scratched-together essay by one hopeful housewife will, by the click of a computer mouse--and in a matter of seconds--reach the four corners of the earth... (fast as "tongues descending like fire from heaven") then the great biblical miracles suddenly become a cinch to believe in. Amen.


Comments, corrections, and stories of your own are always welcome and appreciated.

*     *     *

UNCUT : Would you like to read the uncut version of today's essay?:

...Jean-Marc finally admitted that he believes in the big picture.... Dieu, that is.

"Well, then," I teased," isn't
that a bit surreal. Dieu? So if you believe in Dieu, the omnipotent creator, then why's it so difficult to believe in walking on water or a virgin birth?" I tried to cite science, technology... exponentiality--how what once seemed impossible to us, now is reality--but only got tangled up in topics and terms that are beyond my understanding... like the word "omnipotent"... in fact,  had I used the term correctly? No time to wonder... for these words filled my brain:

"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last."

Right. "And just what about the beginning of time?" I continued. "That, surely, is as unfathomable as a virgin birth! Reality had to begin somewhere -- only, from where did it start? (I wanted to add something about the chicken or the egg, but wasn't sure that the French used the same argument and, if so, would that be "le poulet ou l'oeuf?") 

There now... it seemed I was onto something (I know not what...) -- onto something, and in a bit too deep!

Thankfully, my husband looked at me, refreshingly. "Je ne sais pas, mon amour, mais c'était bien, cette conversation." * Well, after faith -- there's always hope!

~~~~~~~~~~~~French Vocabulary~~~~~~~~~~~~~
le genêt (m)
= scottish broom; La Pentecôte (f) = Pentecost, Whit Sunday, Whitsun; (scripture translation from, Acts 2:3) = And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them; marcher sur l'eau = to walk on water; par exemple = for example; un avis (m) = opinion; je ne sais pas, mon amour, mais c'était bien, cette conversation = I don't know, my love, but it was good, this conversation

*     *     *
Three Random Words:
plain-pied = one-level, street-level, on the same level (house)
une quinte (f) = fifth (music); quinte (fencing); quint (cards)
    une quinte de toux = coughing fit
un espadon (m) = swordfish

Ongoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal. If you find value in this website and would like to keep it going strong, please know your donation towards this effort makes all the difference! A contribution by check or via PayPal (links below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!

♥ $10    
♥ $25    
♥ Or click here to send the amount of your choice

To purchase our memoir, THE LOST GARDENS click here.