While filming Smokey (trotting the flower-flanked trails at a nearby calanque), my video recorder broke! For now there is a grand total of three clips at my YouTube channel. Thanks for taking a moment to view them and to subscribe to the channel. (Photo of Jean-Marc in a gypsy trailer we once tried to buy. Wish we hadn't let this one pass us by!)
: to shrink
A popular film, Honey I shrunk the kids, was translated by the French: Chérie, j'ai rétréci les gosses.
Arrivant dans notre salle de bain, j'ai realisé que tous les éléments avaient rétréci. Arriving in the bathroom, I realized that all of the elements had shrunk!
A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse
I'd just as soon park a trailer at the edge of our property—and live there—than go through the tortures of renovation. Such flighty thoughts consume me, lately, as I watch giant tractors blaze past Mas des Brun, with a grumbling preview of what's to come.
But fleeing from the chaos is not the solution. Last time I avoided a chantier I returned to find our bathroom had shrunk!
Two or so years ago, back in our former vineyard in Sainte Cécile, most of the major renovation was past us. We were now putting in wood floors in our upstairs bed and bath. The project was my husband's idea, after he could no longer look at the floor tiles there (I kind of liked them, and grew convinced they were some sort of Provençal classic—even if they were pink and flourishy, and even if you risked spraining an ankle each time you walked over the loose ceramic squares).
One day Jean-Marc breezed into the small guest bedroom where I had been holed up for the duration of the floor project (I secretly hoped to live there forever, and not have to deal with the towering mess down the hall. In fact, couldn't we just board up that side of the house, and forget about it? Just how much room did we need anyway? Besides, I wasn't getting a good vibe from the former bedroom... which was a wreck, what with the furniture piled high and wobbling with books, lamps, and whatever could be tossed up there so as to make room for the floor boards to go in. On occasion, I would venture into the room, take one look at the dusty heaps, and run out again).
When the work was nearly done, Jean-Marc was excited to tell me that the last floor board had been hammered down and would I like to see the results?
Entering our bedroom, I had to admit the place looked much warmer minus the white and pink tiles. So far so good....
But I'll never forget walking, like Alice in Wonderland, into our newly finished salle de bain. Stepping past the carpentry tools, over the saw-dusted threshold, an astonishing new world appeared. Crossing the small and narrow bathroom, it seemed as though I was walking through another dimension.
Soon the spell broke and I realized this wasn't some sort of other world, something was seriously off, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it.
Then, when I went to turn on the faucet, I didn't feel the knobs right away. On close examination, the knobs were there, only they were a foot lower than before. Le lavabo was now below my hips!
Quickly I spun around and, just as suspected, I saw how les w.-c. had shrunk, too. If it were any lower to the ground it would be a turkish toilet!
Alarmed, my eyes darted over to the tub. Rushing up to it, I saw how la baignoire now reached below my knees! My eyes swept back over to the sink, where I now noticed how the foot of sink had disappeared beneath the wood planks.... Looking around in a daze, I realized what had happened, but it was too late to go back now—the floor of our bathroom and all that was attached to it had been submerged!
Jean-Marc, who now towered over the sink like a giant in a doll house, didn't seem fazed by the petit error.
"Well, what do you think?" my husband smiled, eager for a rewarding word.
What did I think? What did I think?
"I think the plumber forgot to unbolt the toilet... and the sink, and the tub before the carpenter raised the floors!"
"I couldn't get a hold of the plumber," Jean-Marc snapped, quickly growing defensive. "And if you are not happy with the results, then why don't YOU organize these projects!"
With that, the disgruntled giant stomped out of the room. I watched as saw dust flew up from beneath his heels, adding another dusty coat to all our junk that was crammed, stacked, and teetering in the corner of the room. I wanted to close my eyes and believe that on opening them, presto!, everything would be back intact—including our standard-sized sink.
Instead, I went to sit down on the edge of the tub, to collect my thoughts.... only the tub edge was not where it used to be!
As I sat sore on the floor, shaking in frustration, I had to admit he was right. If I wanted things done to my standards (or at least standard sized), I had better get off my butt and participate.
Post note: here we are now, two years later, faced with another renovation project. You'd think we'd have learned from experience, but it seems we're off to a "passionate" start, what with our first project (talked about in the previous post).
le chantier = building site, a place that is under construction
la salle de bain = bathroom
le lavabo = sink
les w.-c. = toilet
la baignoire = tub
While we'll probably not move to a trailer at the far end of our lot, my mom, Jules, would sure like to! Look at the cozy bed in the back. She could read her novels and peek out the back window... to see how the arm-flapping, mouth-flapping, couple in the house on the hill is doing during renovation.
One year ago... the fur is fake, the scar is real. Wish me luck for this Friday's dermatologist appointment in Marseilles. (The other spot on the tip of my nose seems to be growing.)
Thank you for considering a contribution today!
Ongoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and improving this free language journal, for the past 18 years. If you enjoy this website and would like to keep it going, please know your donation towards this effort makes all the difference! No matter the weather, on good days or bad, I am committed to sharing a sunny, vocabulary-packed update with you, one you can look forward to. I hope it fuels your dreams of coming to France while expanding your French vocabulary. A contribution by check or via PayPal (or credit card, links below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!