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Entries from April 2012

en retard

Maybe Anne got sidetracked at the neighbor's? Who could blame the animal lover for lingering before this scene? Read today's dual-language missive written by Chief Grape!

en retard (ahn reuh tahr)

     : late

Audio File: Lisen to Jean-Marc: Download MP3 or Wav file

Anne était-elle en retard ou en avance?
Was Anne late or early?

"En retard"
...a bilingual story by Jean-Marc Espinasse

(Listen to the following story: Download MP3 -- sorry no Wav version available!)


Hier, nous avons reçu les premières visites de l'année au Domaine Rouge-Bleu. Brian & Dawn, Mia & Ulli, Carol & Bill sont arrivés à l'heure grâce au plan que Kristi leur avait envoyé.
Yesterday we received the first visits of the year at Domaine Rouge-Bleu. Brian & Dawn, Mia & Ulli, Carol & Bill arrived on time thanks to the map that Kristi had sent them.

Anne, qui avait prévu de venir avec son amie Karen, avait finalement prévenue que Karen était malheureusement malade mais, ceci dit, elle n'était pas là, à l'heure où nous avons commencé la dégustation.... 
Anne, who had planned to come with her ​​friend Karen, had forewarned us that Karen was sick, but unfortunately, that said, [Anne] was not here when we started the tasting ....

Elle est apparue avec toute sa gentillesse mais "en retard" alors que nous dégustions la bouteille "mystère" qui a clos la séance.
She very sweetly appeared, only a bit late... while we were busy tasting the "mystery" wine which ends each tasting.

Lorsque nous sommes allés visiter la cave, Anne était également "en retard" car elle était trop attentionnée à jouer et parler avec Smokey.
And when we went to visit the cellar, Anne was also "late" because she was so focused on playing with and talking to Smokey. 

Puis, tout le groupe est allé déjeuner à la Farigoule, un restaurant de notre village. Lorsque la serveuse est venue prendre la commande, Anne était à nouveau "en retard" car partie pour quelques instants...
Next, the whole group went to eat at La Farigoule, a restaurant in our village. When the waitress came to take our order, Anne was once again "late", for she had left for a few moments.... 

Évidemment, tous ces "retards" n'ont pas du tout été problématiques et c'était juste une coïncidence rigolote.
Clearly, all these "delays" were not all problematic and it was just a funny coincidence.

Anne a, en fait, été "en avance" avec nous tous car c'est elle qui a initié cette première journée de visites. Nous la remercions grandement pour cette initiative ainsi que tout ce sympathique groupe de visiteurs.
Anne was, in fact, "in advance" with all of us, for it is she who initiated this first day of visits. We thank her greatly for this initiative, and we thank our very kind group of visitors.

P.S. Anne, merci encore pour les fleurs, les bonbons, le déjeuner... Vous pouvez arriver "en retard" tant que vous voudrez =)
P.S. Anne, thanks again for the flowers, the candy, and the lunch... You can arrive late whenever you like! 

 (Anne explained that without her friend and co-pilot, Karen Graham, navigating just wasn't the same. This post is dedicated to Karen. We hope you will feel better soon!)


Our first wine-tasting of the season... but where is Anne?...

Note: That's Bill and Carol--first and third on the left. They are from Vancouver. You'll have to squeeze your eyes almost shut to see them in this snapshot (sorry to not have gotten a close-up)! Carol and Bill are living everyone's dream of a one-year sabbatical! Enjoy their stories at CrowsEnProvence (I especially loved their daughter's scarf-tying "Leçon du Foulard"

Ulli & Mia, English teachers from Hambourg, made it to our house for the dégustation... mais où est Anne?... 

Note: Mia is originally from Brussels, Belgium. However, when she set eyes on Ulli, she quickly jumped borders!

Kristin, flanked by Ann Arborians Brian and Dawn, who arrived shortly after Ulli & Mia. Still no signs of Anne de Pennsylvanie... Pittsburgh must be farther away than we figured.

Note: Brian and Dawn were married 40 years ago. We guess that Michigan has unique marriage laws... given that these sweethearts must have tied the knot around the same time they learned to tie their shoes.

"Looking for Anne" (Chief Grape there on the stripey left.) You-hoo, Anne, where are you? ohé... ohé... yoo-hoo, you-hoo... I say Anne is looking for Jules, whom she hoped to meet (sadly, Mom is in Mexico! Hmmm, this might explain Anne's delay....)

Trouvé! Found! So she didn't make a loop down to Mexique! Anne arrived and stole this seat, right next to Mr. Grape Chief. 

*Zee End*

Join us for a wine tasting! The next meet-ups are on April 6th, 10th, 17th, 24th and 26th -- at 4 pm. Leave a message in the comments box if you can make it to one of our April meet-ups!(I'll post May meet-ups soon!)

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The garden hose, The Tongue, and many other things to try and hide (or tuck back inside...) before tomorrow's guests arrive! Meantime, the wallflowers—les giroflées (f)—look welcoming. Well, that's a start!

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programmer (pro-grah-may)

    : to schedule, to plan; to program

programmer à l'avance = to schedule in advance

Example Sentence: (sorry, no time for a sound file. Our resident Francophone is busy patching up holes. Read on, in today's story)

Une visite chez nous, c'est possible--et c'est à programmer. A visit to our place is possible--and is something to schedule.

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

This Ain't 'A Good Year'--or Chateau Chic, for that matter!

It didn't hit me right away, you know, les conséquences. For the moment I was operating by inspiration, and Inspiration cheered: "Vas-y! Invite everyone!"

So I did. On Friday I posted an announcement, an open invitation to readers... to visit us at our family vineyard!

It wasn't an open invite in the modern sense of the term:

open invitation (noun): something that seems to give people a reason or excuse for doing something wrong or illegal

Oh gosh, no—not that kind of invitation....

Nor was the "open invitation" meant in the traditional sense:

open invitation (noun): an invitation to do something at any time

NO, NO, NO--NOT "at any time"! Yikes, what a cirque à trois pistes that would be! My mind began to play out the following scenario: a knock on the front door at any old time of day... a jovial group of francophiles standing on our front porch... "Is this where the wine tasting is at?"

Oh no! Not here... or not now anyway! That is, not without an appointment and not until things are more or less in order....

Order? I look outside to judge the current state of our chez nous: the picnic table is broken, a mismash patash of chairs strewn round it. La piscine, the one which visitors must walk past to get to our front door, it is shot too (finally emptied of its murky waters... it is now the dilapidated pool liner that stands out)! Jean-Marc has been busy patching up all the holes, with some sort of mysterious pool glue. Well, it's a step up from the duct tape that he usually uses!

I looked past the piscine to all the flower pots which are scattered across the front porch (in desperate need of sweeping, only no time now! Hopefully Max can balayer, when he comes home from school tonight...). The flower pots are empty (the lauriers a rotten brown from this year's freeze)... and several are cracked or chipped.

Oh yes, bienvenue chez nous! Step right up and take a ticket. What would you like to see next? In ring number three there's a lop-sided trampoline... just past the clothesline, which needs re-wiring—lest the pants we hang there continue to play footsie with the grass just below. Tickle, tickle, tickle!

Ignoring the pants and the pots, I notice that the garden is coming to life... only, in the form of weeds which are busy filling in all those cracks along our front patio! I begin tugging out the mauvaises herbes... only the weeds tug right back at me! Perhaps I should begin somewhere else? Mais... par où commencer?

Where to begin? Not with the lawn! I look over to the bumpy pelouse where great patches of barren earth reveal the occasional trou: Smokey's and Braise's latest digs! I think about our guests, who might like to walk out to the edge of the "lawn", where a lovely picture might be taken. Again, my mind's eye draws up an alarming scene... ending in twisted ankles... or sticky shoes.

Sticky shoes! Forget the cracks in the wall, the holes, and the flowerless pots—I need a super scooper! 

Then there's the driveway, which would be fine (Max pruned the entire row of lavender. Good job, Max!) except for my car, which looks as though a dust-devil had passed through it. No time to wash the car... perhaps our guests will think it isn't mine? I can always pretend it's Jean-Marc's! ...then again the only other car in the driveway is as dusty as mine.

"Don't worry about a couple of holes in the garden or the cracks or the dust," Jean-Marc says. This isn't a corporate vineyard!" He is right, it's just Jean-Marc and I here, looking after things. The kids help when they can and the dogs do their best to undo the rest!

But you are welcome, chez nous, dear reader, family, and friends. Just be sure to call or email first (give us fair warning)... and maybe watch your step—especially if you plan to join us on the trampoline! After a few glasses of wine, we may be able to talk you into that....

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French Vocabulary

une conséquence = consequence

vas-y = go ahead

le cirque à trois pistes = three-ring circus

chez nous = our place

la piscine = pool

balayer = to sweep

le laurier-rose = oleander

bienvenue chez nous = welcome to our life

la mauvaise herbe = weed

mais, par ou commencer? = but where to begin



For his birthday, I made him a cake (it tasted much better than it looks...), and offered him another puzzle (no kittens, this time). It was nothing like the gifts he gave me for one of my birthdays, but the intention was the same.

Couldn't find a birthday candle...


Thanks for your suggestions on which photo software to use. I'm still having fun with Picasa. They offer many tricky ways to hide imperfections... the downside is that, with all the smoke and mirrors, people may not recognize you in real life! The tools I used for this picture are "Années 60" + "Polaroid". Here's hoping tomorrow's guests recognize us.... Better stick to the previous photo! 


  Photo (1)

 I used Picasa's "Cinémascope" for this snapshot of Katie Dyer and Chief Grape. Whoops! It kinda chopped off the Chief's locks. Photo by Fran Rorie taken during Jean-Marc's USA wine tour. Sadly, Katie's dogs (golden retrievers) couldn't attend the meet-up. Here are their names:

Nigel (Advent Meteor Flag of England, CGC, TDI)
Smudge (Advent Conflagration, CGC, TDI), Diva Golden Rethieva
Aslan (Advent Lion, Rich & Wardrobe, CGC, TDI), the Loon Ranger
Windsor (Int CH Lazyriver Repeat Performance, CGC, TDI)
Lizzie (Advent City Lights, CGC) the Lady Elizabeth
And, Katie notes:
"waiting for us... Gordon (Sunshine Hill Gordon, CGC, TDIA) 9/15/1995 - 4/9/2007"
Katie ends all her emails this way: A couch is a terrible thing to waste; have a bunch of Golden Retrievers


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.