alerte meteo

relancer + pomegranates and grandmothers c'est sympa!

pomegranate, grenadier, basket, cabanon, rush-bottom chair, and olive trees in France (c) Kristin Espinasse, www.french-word-a-day.comMiam-miam is French for yum. Recently, Jean-Marc bought some used wine-making equipment. The farmer's wife who sold it to him threw in a couple of  antique wine-presses, some old  wine barrels, and even a bucket of pomegranates! (Have you ever eaten one? Inside, there's a bunch of ruby red fruit, the size of a tooth. The French use it to make the famous grenadine syrup--but the "teeth" are fun to eat, too--just watch out for all the seeds. Do you spit them out or swallow them?)

rental in Provence

Rental in Provence Luberon. 4 bedrooms and a study with a sofa bed, each with ensuite (full) bath. This villa can comfortably sleep 7-9 adults. Inquire here.

relancer (reuh-lahn-say)

    : to bug somebody about (to remind him or her)
    : to reboot (computer)
    : to revive, or boot (economy, project)

relancer un client = to make a follow-up call to a client
se faire relancer = to receive a reminder

Thrilled to learn that a high school class has signed on to receive French Word-A-Day via email (thanks professor Engelkemeir!), I am now going to relancer my call to teachers: please keep this French language blog in mind as a learning resource for students. I've beefed up the vocab section for you today, in thanks for your consideration. (And I'll get my kids to help with the sound files, after falling behind this week!)

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

My mother-in-law called yesterday, and I had a hard time hearing her. She is no longer using a land-line, but keeps her cell phone for communication. 

"I'm sorry, could you please say that again?" I'd asked the question twice already, and didn't want to scare her away--or, worse, la vexer--by asking once again. 


"Ah! Max came by and you ate together. C'est sympa!" I was delighted to learn our 18-year-old had stopped by his grandmother's on the way home from school. This was definitely one of the perks of her recent déménagement from Marseilles. Seeing each other is a joy that is réciproque for both grand-mère and petit-fils.

grandson and grandmother, petit-fils, grand-mère (c) Kristin Espinasse, www.french-word-a-day.com
    Ten years ago, when Max was 8. He was devoted to his grand-mère even then.

"I made him a gratin dauphinois," Michele-France said and, I admit, I felt a tinge of envie that only grew with the next tidbit. "I told him to bring home les restes, but he insisted I keep it for my dinner tonight."

What a turkey! He's got his grandma wrapped around his petit doigt. Last time she made him a quiche that would have put Alsace to shame!

Michèle-France went on to say that, while Max was visiting, he took the liberty of hanging her laundry out on the line. "La corde est trop haute," the line is too high for me, she lamented. "I'd need to be three eskimos tall to reach it!"

I'm not sure whether my mother-in-law's language is politically correct, but her sentences never fail to paint a vivid scene in my mind, which is now entertained with the picture of three strained inuits totem-poled in front of the clothesline

After hanging dry her laundry, Max took his grandma grocery shopping, driving her to the market to buy "deux ou trois bricoles. And I needed to go to the pharmacy, too..." Michèle-France, pointed out, "but I couldn't make it that far. I wasn't feeling well." She didn't want Max to know she suffered from certain ailments, and so preferred to cut-short her errands rather than let on to her souffrance

"I want them to see me strong," Michèle-France always says, of her grandchildren.

I can just picture her standing tall inspite of her weakness. Straightening up her back in time to link arms with her larger than life grandson, as the two went up and down the grocery store aisles, a frilly basket in the crook of the taller one's arm. 

My mother-in-law ended our conversation on a humorous note, telling me about the bisous Max planted on her forehead, just after he finished putting all her groceries away (and setting the table for their déjeuner à deux). "He's so tall I can't reach him anymore," she sighed. "And now it is he who has to bend down to kiss me!"

Later, when Max returns home he doesn't mention that he's been hanging laundry and helping his grand-mère with her errands. "Oh, yah--I saw granny," he says casually.

As he turned to leave, I saw the smear of lipstick on his jaw line....  

I could just see her now, my mother-in-law, standing strong, standing tall--pushing past the pain to reach up high for that kiss. Wobbling there on her tippy-toes she defied gravity--stronger... taller... now the sky was her limit.
                                                                    *    *    * 

Max baseball cap

Max was a lifeguard here in France last summer. Most of his interventions involved resuscitation, mostly girls who had passed out from too much heat.

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French Vocabulary

vexer = to hurt somebody's feelings
le déménagement = moving, moving house
c'est sympa = that's so nice 
réciproque = reciprical
la grand-mère = grandmother
le petit-fils = grandson
le gratin dauphinois = French potatoes and cream casserole dish
les restes = leftovers 
le petit doigt = little finger
la corde est trop haute = the line is too high
l'envie = want, wish
deux = two
trois = three
une bricole = trifle, thing 
la souffrance = suffering
le bisous = kiss
déjeuner à deux = lunch for two

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Bicycles shopper back

Max and Jules, Mont Ventoux, Vaucluse (c) Kristin Espinasse, www.French-Word-A-Day.com
Max (two years ago, at 16) with his other favorite grand-mère, Jules. I can just hear her now. "Now, Max. Repeat after me. 'You are ze most beautiful grand-mère in ze world!' " 

rue pourquoi-pas, whynot street in Toulon, yellow home with green shutters (c) Kristin Espinasse, www.French-Word-A-Day.com
Rue Pourquoi-Pas (Why Not Street) in Toulon. To comment on this edition, click here.

Pronounce it perfectly, book, French learning, tool, www.french-word-a-day.comPronounce it Perfectly in French. 

* extensive pronunciation exercises including supplementary help based on poetry, proverbs, familiar sayings, historical quotations and humor

* A guide to French pronunciation expressed in the phonetic symbols of the International Phonetic Association (IPA) 


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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety