Bagatelle (c) Kristin Espinasse
(Note: photo taken last month, at our local fleuriste "Jardin et Bagatelles".)

Reminder:  If you happen to be in Paris on October 7th then we would love to meet you at the American Library!

bagatelle (bag-a-tel) noun, feminine

    : petite chose (small thing), bauble, trinket; knickknack

Example Sentence and Audio File: Download Wav or Download MP3

Sa passion pour la culture est évidente: sa maison est remplie des bagatelles et de souvenirs de voyage. Her passion for culture is obvious: her house is full of knickknacks and travel souvenirs.

A Day in a French Life...

by Kristin Espinasse

It is a little early to write about the harvest (phase two, that is) and a little late to talk about our trip to Austria (we drove there from Croatia...)... although I do have several anecdotes to share. Ce sera pour une autre fois*....

I'd like to stick to the moment. It is 7:53 a.m. and if all goes well, I will post this missive by eleven, in time to finish "finding my words," at which point I can match them to the "word of the day," which, si tout se passe bien,* will reflect the theme of this essay. (I have a hunch, at this point, that the word will be "pile". Though I am not quite certain of "pile's" exact meaning, I am hoping it means "exact" as in "exact moment" -- for this is what I wish to write about: the here and now).

Behind me is a made-up bed, covered lightly according to the season (with my grandmother Audrey's green crocheted afghan, which matches nothing in the room except this bucolic heart). Missing is a bed post and a box spring skirt (so that, depending on your vantage point, you might see so many plastic storage boxes beneath, full of sheets, pillowcases or recycled paper and ribbon. The bed doubles as a gift-wrap department -- but don't let the word "department" throw you off; organization stops there (I never get the gifts out on time).

Beside me, the length of a queen -size bed away, the porte-fenêtres* are grandes ouvertes* and a cool breeze wakes the room from its slumber. Outside, I hear the drone of a tractor (not our own). The sun is shining on the vine rows beyond, causing their heads to turn granny-apple green.

Jean-Marc is shaving in the next room. He must have an appointment. I hear the water running and the swishing and the scraping of Hurry (could he be brushing his teeth while shaving? He must be in a hurry).

Silence now fills the room and I realize that my husband has shut the porte-fenêtre before disappearing downstairs. I panic, realizing that I forgot to ask him to record the French sound file (and verify my slapped-together example sentence...) for this edition. Too late now, he and the other native French speakers in this household are on their way out the door...

Now, at huit heures vingt* (for I have been lost in thought the last few moments, trying to identify the pounding sound coming from a neighboring farm, un bruit* that was born several days ago and I still haven't figured out its connection to wine-making... unless les voisins* are making wine the old-fashioned feet flattening the fruit way.)

As I said, now, at huit heures vingt (make that 8:22, for it took two minutes to write that last sentence) it is time to search my computer for a photo to illustrate this edition....

Bagatelle (c) Kristin Espinasse

Bon. Tant pis. Ça ne fait rien:* I guess we're going to have to make this photo fit this edition. Firstly, we'll pretend that is I, the editor, and that that is my office (the bed's covers have changed...) How to you like the old-fashioned fan (in place of that "cool breeze entering through the porte-fenêtre"?).

As you can see, I am gazing, with my bloodshot eyes, in the direction of the bathroom, wondering where all that pounding noise is coming from (I know my husband is multi-tasking, what with the tooth-brushing and the shaving... but I didn't know his feet could reach out the window... to the grapes in the cellar below -- in time to press them the old-fashioned way).

Well presse-moi if I'm not impressed!


Post note: looks as though the French word "pile" didn't make the cut. Not that "bagatelle" illustrates today's rambling any better... unless one thinks of so many bagatelles / knickknacks as souvenirs, each representing a moment in time. I hope you have enjoyed this moment in time, or behind-the-scenes look at the making of this newsletter. In the time that it has taken to write it, I have had the luxury of emptying and refilling the dishwasher, filling the clothes-washing machine, clearing off the breakfast table, feeding "Maman" (aka Braise-The-Dog)... this, in my best attempt to copy my talented multi-tasking husband.

In the time that remains, I will put together the vocab section, place the sponsors (thank you, thank you sponsors!), come up with an example sentence, decide whether or not to take the risk of recording the sound file and, eventually, try to woo you with a few items in the shopping section at the end of this letter... before picking up the kids from their half-day at school. Bon, time to get a move on! Wishing you all a merry, multi-tasking moment as well!

Comments, corrections, and stories of your own are always appreciated and enjoyed. Merci beaucoup!

Optional discussion: Is today's word "bagatelle" a new favorite? Otherwise, share your favorite French word!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~French Vocabulary~~~~~~~~~~~~
si tout se passe bien
= if all goes well; la porte-fenêtre (f) = window door (French door); grand(e) ouvert(e) = wide open; huit heures vingt = eight twenty; un bruit (m) = a sound, noise; les voisins = neighbors; Bon. Tant pis. Ça ne fait rien = well, never mind, it doesn't matter

En route to Vaison la Romaine (c) Kristin Espinasse


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