ça tombe bien (a useful phrase) + congé or vacation

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The photo above has nothing to do with the word of the day, but it fits nicely with vacation....

Today's Words: ça tombe bien

    : it's a good thing, it's good timing, the timing is right


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
by Kristi Espinasse

It was late at night when an alert flashed across the screen of my mobile phone, interrupting my mindless social media scrolling. The text (a prompting from our shared Google Agenda--my husband's and mine) read:

"Massage therapist in 15 minutes"
 
The words may as well have been in verlan for they meant nothing to drowsy me, initially, but on second glance I understood my husband had scheduled a late-night massage. 
 
But he was away in the Alps... Alone in the Alps! Schedules a late-night massage?! 
 
I automatically checked the time (it was after nine...). If I had begun smoldering at that moment, my homely mouthguard would have melted!  I began to picture the not-so-homely masseuse... Thankfully my imagination didn't run off too far this time. Instead, it quickly dawned on me: my forgotten calendar entry! My friend Audrey had recently asked whether I knew of a local massage therapist, as she wanted to purchase un bon d'achat for her stepdaughter. I told her I did not know of anyone, but that I would think about it. And lest I forget, I decided to note it on my digital calendrier, which prompts me to remember things, such as: 
 
"massage therapist for Audrey"
 
My husband should be laughing by now if he is reading this story. Jean-Marc always teases me about my digital calendar entries because  I often neglect to log the hour (I simply write it in the subject line)...in which case the calendar defaults to some random time slot... usually a most-unlikely hour!
 
Like this, both my husband and I receive reminders of my 3 a.m. lunch appointment...or an alert that church is about to begin at 11p.m. or that I have a hair appointment at the crack of dawn.
 
"Chérie," my husband will say, as he shuts out the light at night, "Don't forget to take Smokey to the groomer's at midnight." With that he snickers and shuts out the light.
 
I'm glad we can both appreciate the humor there! We weren't always this quick to laugh at each other's idiosyncrasies (and we're still working on it), as you will know if you've been reading our moody vineyard memoir....

*   *   * 
Post note: Audrey, I found a massage therapist for your belle-fille. I think I'll schedule a session for myself. It may just help relax my overactive mind!
 
Bonnes Vacances!
See you in two weeks, as this journal is going on a little summer congé, or break et ça tombe bien! Thank you all for reading and for your thoughtful comments and support which mean a lot and keep me going....à bientôt!
 
Kristi ape truck
I am headed to the Alps and hope to cross over the border and visit Italy, where this picture was taken years ago. Those little trucks ("triporteurs") always steal my heart! 
 
FRENCH VOCABULARY
 
le verlan = a kind of French slang, or "backward slang" similar to pig latin
la masseuse = massage therapist
un bon d'achat = gift certificate
un calendrier
= calendar
la belle-fille
= step-daugther
le triporteur = three-wheeler
le congé = break, time off, leave
ça tombe bien = it comes at a good time
à bientôt! = see you soon!

Today's phrase "ça tombe bien" is found in the story Unlucky in French, read it in the archives, here 

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Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution is vivement appréciée! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
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Combler: Satisfied or fulfilled in French (and in life)

Smokey Max and Jackie
10-year-old Smokey is happiest when he is in the presence of his pack, or "sa meute." More on happiness in today's post. (Photo taken from inside my Mom's studio)

Today's word: combler

    => to fill
    => to fulfill, satisfy
    => to fill a gap (in one's life)

une vie comblée = a fulfilled life
combler son retard = to make up for lost time
je suis comblée = I have everything I could want or wish for

Book News: Soon we will finish chapter 7 of our memoir about life on 2 vineyards and the toll it eventually took (having already tested our marriage). This next section will be posted soon and it is as raw and personal as the first 6 chapters.  Click here for more about our story. 

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

  by Kristi Espinasse


Sunday afternoon, après l'Eglise, I was sitting on a fold-out beach chair in front of Mom's place when a thought burst through my mind: Je suis comblée!

The bright pink beach chair was a present from Mom and the joyful feeling was a gift from the here and now, or l'instant présent. In this moment there was my mom, my son, and my daughter--and there was Jean-Marc who had just walked up to see why all of us were gathered.

Jean-marc  max  jackie  painting

All this activity began with Max, who had a day off from his current internship at Château de Pibarnon. Max has been repeating the same wish for months: Je veux peindre! He backed his wish by a mission: "and Grandma needs to get back to her canvas!" Finally, he went around to the side of the house, to Jules's studio, to try and drag her out of bed. "Let's go to the art supply store!" he said.

Oh but he had to tug! He had to tickle! He had to flop! In the end he managed to get Jules up and painting again! It was around 4 in the afternoon, after my own siesta, that I stumbled onto this lively scene: two easels, two artists, a dozen tubes of oil paint and a host of creatures looking on--all Mom's doves, who live in the trees above, three little hedgehogs watching from behind a stack of logs, and dear sweet Smokey.

Max and Jules
Jules and Max. I love to listen to them banter. They have a wonderful rapport or complicité.
Jackie and her grandmother Jules kissing bonjour
Faire la bise. Jackie greets her grandmother with a kiss



Max and Jackie painting
Brother and sister painting with a palette knife at the chevalet, or easel

 

Soon Jackie showed up. She wanted to paint too! The former art school student began by helping her brother... until the urge to begin her own toile propelled her over to Grandma, to borrow some fournitures....

"First go and change into your old clothes!" Jules said. Just like that, illico presto!, the youngest artist donned old shorts and a t-shirt over her bathing suit and was back before you could say Prussian Blue.

 

Jackie and portable easel oil paints
A portable chevalet purchased in Draguignan, years ago. Happy to see it come to life again..

Max jackie smokey painting with oil

Circling around my family, admiring each of their paintings, I notice all three were working from the same photo of a parrot in a palm tree. How interesting to see each artist's interpretation!

Max, totally absorbed in his work, reproduced the picture using the same proportions and similar colors. Meantime, Jules's vision was grand: a bigger bird, wider palm leaves, and vivid colors!

Jackie's 'Perroquet dans le Palmier' was as delicate as lace! Using a palette knife like her brother and grandmother, her strokes were fine and detailed. 

Jackie oil painting parrot palm tree
Jackie's painting (midway through)
Max jules painting
Max and Jules's paintings at the beginning of the session.


How the art reminded me of the artists themselves: one orderly, one generous, one delicate--all the qualities I admire in my son, in my Mom, and in my daughter....

Hélas, the painting session came to a sudden end when the mosquitos moved in! Quickly scattering, each artist hurried into the house, leaving the doves, the hedgehogs, and Smokey to admire the unfinished works. The next day, when I said good morning to our golden retriever, I noticed a splash of blue on his wagging tail. And when it came time to feed the birds in our garden, a few had crimson red nails after landing on top Mom's painting. And Jules herself had splashes of purple in her silver hair. 


FRENCH VOCABULARY

après l'Eglise = after church
je suis comblée = I am filled with happiness
l'instant présent = the here and now
je veux peindre = I want to paint
un chevalet = an easel
une toile = a canvas
les fournitures = supplies
illico presto = right away (see the  word-of-the-day post, here and lovely pics of the dogs)
le perroquet = parrot
le palmier = palm tree
peinture en plein air = outdoor painting 

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Max's painting midway through

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Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution is vivement appréciée! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥Send the amount of your choice

"Bonjour, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle


Culte: How I found out I was in a sect in France (humor)

Painting tour artistic retreat Provence France
Discover the magical light of Van Gogh this September in Provence. Join our small group with instructor Kurt Schwarz and paint in Provence during the best time of the year. Click here for tour details (picture of Jeanne LaCasse, reader of this blog and tour participant)


Today's word: un défi

    : a challenge

lancer un défi = lay down a challenge

 

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Note: the following (humorous) story is not intended to start a religious debate. It is to highlight just one aspect of French life. Please read it under the filter of cultural understanding! As always, this is a personal journal about my life, and one aspect of that--albeit a big one--is faith.

Mom and I went to church together for the first time in 30 years. You'll like this one, I assured Jules. That said, I warned Mom not to be alarmed when she heard the word 'culte'--it simply meant 'worship service'.

It could be, Mom surmised, that in France, a non-Catholic church is referred to as a cult.

Do you think? In any case, in English we don't use the word in the same way; cult, it seems to me, is most often associated with a group whose members have been brainwashed, or undergone un lavage de cerveau. Come to think of it, some would say as much of we believers, or nous les croyants... But that is another story and we won't get (too) religious here today--lest some of you sign off before I can secretly and methodically convert you! 

Not to worry, I am primarily here to share the French language and my life, ici dans l'Héxagone, for the past 25 years. Early on, I hoped to find a church, but I never thought it would take this long. It was a chance encounter with another marcheur (along the path I take each morning) that brought Mom and me to this tiny local just off the old port here in La Ciotat.

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With all of 12 members in attendance, things went relatively well during our first visit to L'Eglise Evangélique Baptiste--apart from my singing Grace Infinie off-key, and Mom's fit of yawning (who could blame her, she doesn't understand French!) which began an hour into the culte. But by our second visit, a week later, Mom and I were in the swing of things, juggling two song books, confidently accepting the Eucharist (Ouf! It was only grape juice! wish I'd known that last week....) and having located the donation box (marked Grazie! on the side. The church's treasurer is Italian). 

We especially appreciated the young guest pastor, from l'île de la Réunion. His message on How Not to Worry and his words on positive thinking made me wish my whole family was present. So when he mentioned un défi at the end of the service, challenging us to bring one person to next Sunday's service, I began to wonder who I could invite....

Then, last night, my son and his friend Paul were here, busily making dinner. As Paul prepared homemade French fries, I sidled up to the kitchen counter and smiled. "Hey, do you want to come to church with me next week?"

Max didn't respond right away, but our frites maker chimed right in. "You go to church?" Paul seemed surprised.

"Yes. I do now! To the Baptiste Evangelique church."

"Oh..." Paul said, a sly grin on his face. Isn't that a sect?

"A sect! Paul, don't say that! No, it's not a sect! It's a Christian church." 

"Yes, well, we (French) consider it a sect," Paul said plainly.  

There followed a surreal moment in which my feet were now firmly in the shoes of every other religion on the fringes of what society deems classic, and the question begged: Did the French see me as a Jehovahs' Witness? 

Paul nodded. "Kristi, you did try to get me to come to church...your church did ask you to go out and find new members..." 

Trying to explain my denomination (Baptist? Protestant? Gospel?) to Paul via a creaky rendition of Oh Happy Day didn't work either. Paul smiled patiently, and asked, "Have you ever heard that sung in a French cathedral?"

No, admittedly. But I thought the French loved Gospel! What about all the Gospel concerts that fill up each summer? Did they consider gospel singers as part of a sect, too?

In the end, we all agreed it was a great song! And so the evening ended with Max, Paul and me belting out Oh Happy Day over a delicious plate of frites. Hallelujah for French fries and peace to all of those who's shoes we have not walked a mile in. It is better to feel empathy than to define it. I will never forget those 5 minutes in which I stood wearing, in another's eyes, a cloth that did not define me--a T-shirt market SECT. And I could see, for the first time, how things might actually look to the French, and how things could  actually feel to those on the fringes.


***
Further reading: In this blog's archives, check out Explaining your Religion in France

FRENCH VOCABULARY

le culte = service, worship
un lavage de cerveau = a brainwash
le croyant, la croyante = believer
l'héxagone = France
le marcheur = walker
le local = room in a building 
ouf! = phew!
un défi = a challenge
une frite = french fry

Artistic retreat provence france paint lavender artist
In the opening of this post, I shared my friend Beth's ad for her painting tour. Her company, Lavender and Vine Tours to Provence, makes it easy for artists to travel, as they provide easels, stools, palettes, etc. for guests. More info and pictures of the tour here.


Has a friend forwarded you this post? Receive your own FREE subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution is vivement appréciée! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥Send the amount of your choice

"Bonjour, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle