A lost phone and a found skill: Max's foray into juggling

Max juggling tassels
Learn and listen to this sentence in French, below: Juggling is an exercise of skill that consists in its strictest sense of throwing, catching and relaunching objects in the air. It can be a game, a sport, an art or a religious rite.

Today's Word: lancer

    : to throw, toss, launch 

Click here to listen to the following sentence in French

La jonglerie est un exercice d'adresse qui consiste dans son sens le plus strict à lancer, rattraper et relancer de manière continue des objets en l’air. Elle peut être un jeu, un sport, un art ou encore un rite religieux. --Wikipedia.fr
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
by Kristi Espinasse

The other night I was treated to an impromptu juggling performance, after our son returned from Montpellier. Max is home for 3 weeks for his internship at Domaine de la Mongestine, and will return to the university every month to complete his final year of business school. Having found a short-term rental to share with his pals, Cameron and Souhail (also completing une année en alternance) the classmates are getting used to homework again after a year away from classes. And in their downtime, they have found a few ways to décompresser, or chill out (besides les boîtes de nuits!)...
 
Watching Max jongler was impressive. "Bravo! When did you learn to do that?"
 
"After mon portable went missing. Ten days without a phone...on s'ennuie!  Voilà -- I learned something new!"

Nodding my head in appreciation, I studied the juggler's equipment: All you needed were three small balls and you were in business! You could carry them in your backpack, and always have a form of entertainment handy--or a way to earn some cash for a starving student!

Screenshot_20191004-095102

"Hey, by the way, where did you get those pompoms?" 
 
"They fell off the Souhail's pillow..." (aha! I guess Souhail ended up on the couch). "...so Cameron collected the pompons and began juggling. That's how I learned...by watching Cameron's technique!" 
 
"That is so cool, Max! But are you sure you all didn't help that pillow to lose a few more tassels?"
 
"Haha. We came up with a second use, too... Each night after dinner, we each tossed a pompon. Whoever made a basket did not have to do dishes!"

Gosh, now I really wanted my own set of these ever-amusing and useful pompons. I don't think any of our pillows have tassels on them, so the first trick will be to look at all the objects in our house... with fresh eyes!  Maybe some wine corks would work? We've got plenty of those!

     *    *    * 
I'll take this opportunity to remind you that Jean-Marc has opened his wine shop here in La Ciotat. It is so easy to access. Simply exit the freeway in La Ciotat, take the first right and you're there--at Le Vin Sobre wineshop If Max is in, he'll share his pompons with you. There is also a puzzle you can help finish and next time I stop in I am dropping off a guitar. And there are books! This should make the shop even cozier, so stop in and enjoy a glass of wine.

Jean-marc reading words in a french life
Jean-Marc, pretending to read Words in a French Life , in stock now! :-)

Jackie Jean Marc Max Kristi at Vin Sobre Wine shop La Ciotat
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FRENCH VOCABULARY
une boîte de nuit = nightclub
en alternance = work/study training program  
décompresser = relax, chill out
une boîte de nuit = nightclub, club
on s'ennuie = one gets bored
jongler = to juggle
un portable = cell phone, mobile phone
un pompon = pompom, tassel
 
 
In this contemporary version from Paulist Productions, Barnaby ekes out a bare existence juggling in the street for coins. He is broken-hearted over the death of his wife and best friend. Barnaby drifts aimlessly until he stays in a small community where he is treated kindly. As Christmas approaches, all are making special gifts for the Lord. Click here to view The Juggler of Notre Dame

IMG_20150511_202424
Another ball game Max (second on left) loves: pétanque. Photo taken at our former vineyard, Mas des Brun. That's Jackie on the right. Wish her luck, she passes her bartending exam in Miami next week!

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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 makes a difference. A donation by check or via PayPal is vivement appréciéeMerci infiniment! Kristi

"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



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Dolphin...and other seaworthy terms in French

Coastline in la ciotat

Many people are unaware of it, but this sea is home to dolphins, whales, cachalots, and pilot whales. Learn this sentence in French, in the soundfile section, below.

Today's Word: le dauphin

    : dolphin
    : heir to the throne
    : runner-up (beauty competition)

In books: Pronounce it Perfectly in French

Click here to listen to Jean-Marc pronounce dolphin in French in the following sentence
Beaucoup l’ignorent, mais cette mer abrite des dauphins, des baleines, des cachalots, ou encore des globicéphales. --Cetus Méditeranée


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

(This story first appeared in France Today magazine)

Coucou from down South. Having shared with you the beauty of our lively port city, La Ciotat, there is now one more thing to shout about: our coastline has recently been crowned La Plus Belle Baie du Monde! And though it is physically impossible to crown a body of water, one could prop a couronne on one of the hundreds of dolphins that regularly grace our shoreline!

Our sparkling baie en croissant will boast this title all year, at which point another aquatic beauty gets to bask in the saltwater spotlight (past winners include Mont-Saint-Michel Bay and the Bay of San Francisco). For now, we Ciotadins are gazing at our seafront with a new appreciation. And what better way to experience the splendour...than from a historical boat?

Les pointus as they are called, are the colorful fishing vessels you see bobbing in the port in Marseilles, in Cassis, in Sanary, and here in La Ciotat. And after wishing for one for decades (ever since strolling as newlyweds along the calanque of Sormiou) our dream has come true! We will soon be the lucky owners of one of these barques de pêche--built in 1925! Meantime, as Provencal bureaucracy kicks in (it's like winning the lottery to get to buy one of these boats with its own slip), the current owner has granted us access.

Pointu wooden boat carenage
old wooden boats during the carénage

Recently, Jean-Marc and I enjoyed a relaxing sortie.... After packing a thermos of tea (for the chilly sea breeze), and a bottle of rosé--and some sweet and savory goodies from la boulangerie, we set sail towards L'Ile Verte--the nearest island--only 10 minutes away in put-put time. This one-hundred-year-old barquette is slow...and so close to the water you can reach over the side and touch it!

Nearing The Green Island, Jean-Marc tossed the anchor overboard and we rocked peacefully for the next hour, enjoying the magnificent scenery (including Le Bec de L'Aigle--an impressive Eagle shape in the rocky coastline), and so many gabians--that's southern French for goéland, or seagull. On this day the French airforce flew jets overhead and with a whoosh they appeared over the island's Mediterranean forest every quarter of an hour. What a show!

If only my husband had more to show from the end of his fishing line.... It seemed the arapèdes he'd hooked there were not fooling the local daurade. Even les loups turned their noses. Next time he should try cake, I thought, as I began to doze off....

Lying there on the wooden sideboard, I dreamt I was eating une galette des rois, when suddenly I bit into the fève inside! My husband, following tradition, placed the cake's cardboard crown on my sleepy head...but the wind carried it right off. Searching for it in the distance, I saw the golden glimmer just as the dauphin disappeared underwater.

Oh, indeed! I thought, waking up. The Most Beautiful Bay in the World has received its deserved crown!

Cliff falaise along coastline la ciotat

FRENCH VOCABULARY
coucou = hello
la plus belle baie du monde = most beautiful bay in the world
la couronne = crown
croissant = crescent
le pointu = wooden fishing boat
la calanque = rocky inlet
la barque de pêche = fishing boat
la sortie = trip, outing
le gabian = seagull, gull
le goéland = seagull
un arapède = limpet
la daurade = sea bream
le loup de mer = sea bass
la galette des rois = king cake
la fève = fava bean
le dauphin = dolphin

In books: Mastering French Vocabulary and 2000 Most Common French Words in Context

Yellow euphorbia and a euphoric view of the bay and the Green Island (1)
You can see many more pictures of daily life here in La Ciotat via my Instagram gallery, here.

Jeanmarc on a pointu traditional wooden boat from provence
One more reason to visit La Ciotat is to stop into our wine shop/épicérie--located conveniently off the freeway (take a right at the very first roundabout). Jean-Marc is there most days, and we will organize meetups, tastings, and a wine workshop for those interested. Thanks for telling a friend!

Parc mugel bench sea

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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 makes a difference. A donation by check or via PayPal is vivement appréciéeMerci infiniment! Kristi

"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



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Relationship tip? Keep 'em guessing! Deviner is the word of the day

Alcudia Majorca Spain Balearic Islands
For our 25-year marriage anniversary, I reserved a surprise for Kristi. Guess where we are going to go... (Listen to Jean-Marc read his sentence in French, below.)

Today's word: deviner

    : to guess
    : to figure out
    : to surmise

Click here to listen to the following sentence in French
Pour notre 25ème anniversaire de mariage, j'ai reservé une surprise à Kristi. Devinez où nous allons aller. 

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

When Jean-Marc told me he had reserved a surprise destination for our 25th wedding anniversary, the guessing began as I packed my carry-on: if we took a plane, all these toiletries would need to be under so many grams in weight (just how many?). But if we were traveling by train or via ferry boat, then this giant-size tube of sunblock could go with us. Did we even need la crème solaire?

Mais bien sûr! That much I knew about my husband: this Mediterranean likes to go where he can put his feet in the sand while setting his rosé on the table--alongside his olives and cacahuètes (autrement dit: he loves to dine on the beach--les pieds nus)!

I emptied out some hotel shampoo bottles and refilled with lotion and sunblock just in case we were boarding a strict carrier (living near Marseilles is wonderful for that: so many islands (Malta, Sardinia, Corsica) and cities (Rome, Barcelona, Palermo) can be reached via the friendly skies in under 2 hours for under $100. I packed a swimsuit and various layers to cover any situation: la pluie, la canicule, le froid... and then threw all cares to the wind, or tried to, and got into our car wearing my best version of adventurer.

Which reminds me of one of the reasons I married Jean-Marc, there would always be adventures, which is just what this homebody who likes to know what's going to happen next needs. Speaking of what's next, who knew if our car ride would be 45 minutes (to the Marignane airport) or 2.5 hours (to the Italian border?)--or an all-day journey to Croatia (we drove there once. You should have seen the look on my family's faces when, at border patrol, and after 15 hours on the road--in traffic and heat for the last leg--I realized I'd forgotten my passport)....

I have never forgotten my documents since! "But I cannot find my Residency card..." I said to Jean-Marc, panicked. (If you are a foreigner living full-time in France, you must be ready to show this extra ID card at immigration along with your passport when traveling outside of the country). When my husband wasn't concerned about the missing card, I realized we were probably not flying anywhere...

And when Jean-Marc drove right past the port of Toulon, I had to scratch "ferry boat" off the list of possible destinations. Now it seemed we were headed to the Nice airport, another 2 hours down the coast.... But just when I felt sure, my driver did a switcharoo, looping back into town. By now I was laughing. I love this! I said. The control freak inside of me must have nodded off for a siesta. Meantime, my soul was awake! Oh, the power of letting go! Freeing yourself of reservations, fears, conclusions, expectations and the rest of those monsters and party poopers.

At last we drove to the Port of Toulon, and it was crystal clear we were taking a boat over these turquoise waters just ahead. But which direction? There were three lanes leading up to the drive-on boarding: one read "Ajaccio." One read "Bastia." And the lane in the middle read "Alcudia." All boats read, in huge letters CORSICA FERRIES, leading to many assumptions....

So we are going to Corsica, I chirped. I love Corsica! And I love taking the overnight ferry! 

Jean-Marc's sideways smile told me the game of devinettes wasn't up. "If that is what you think," he said simply. Looking back at the signs, I had to admit...to not being able to identify one of those cities on a giant Map of Geography. Just where was Alcudia located? It had to be Corsica...for everything pointing to that direction. 

"Can I use my phone and google it?" I begged. 

"If you want," my driver said, nonchalant.

And that, dear reader, is how I learned that Alcudia is located... on the Spanish island of Majorca. Now I will never forget that and, si Dieu le veut, look forward to many more geography lessons in the next 25 years!

*    *    *
Mr Sacks and Jean-Marc pointu boats
Guess who came with us on this trip: Trusty Mr Sacks. He's almost as old as our marriage. More pictures of Mr Sacks over the years, click here. 

FRENCH VOCABULARY

autrement dit = said otherwise
les pieds nus = bare feet
la cacahuète = peanut
la pluie = rain
la canicule = heatwave
le froid = the cold
devinettes = guessing game
si Dieu le veut = God willing

Reverse Dictionary

carry-on = le bagage à main 
toiletries = produits de toilette
Beach in majorca spain
Jean-Marc needs sun. I need shade. We're learning to work it out. That could be our memoir in a nutshell. Chapter 8 has just been posted, and the second half of it (Jean-Marc's account) is coming soon. Thank you for reading our book-in-progress.

Church door in Roussillon France
Church door in Roussillon, photo from the archives of this blog. I just received this note--via snail mail--from Elaine: 

Kristi, So enjoy your work and finally can send a check by mail. Every best wish, Elaine

Thank you so much, Elaine! And for those of you who enjoy this journal, it is now possible to support it via a check in US dollars or in euros. Here is the information:

Le Vin Sobre
Att: Kristin Espinasse
45 Voie Ariane
13600 La Ciotat
France

Horse and cart in mediterranean sea kaki polizzi la ciotat france
The shores here in La Ciotat. Photo from the archives of this blog. Thank you very much to those who read it and support it.

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 makes a difference. A donation by check or via PayPal is vivement appréciéeMerci infiniment! Kristi

"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



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On s'aimera toute la vie

Vintage book

Chapter 8 of our vineyard memoir has been posted. Below, I am including an excerpt from the end of that chapter, which includes these charming illustrations. I leave you with today's phrase and wishes for a lovely weekend!
Today's phrase: On s'aimera toute la vie
    : we will love each other all our lives

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse
(the following passage is a postnote from the end of chapter 8...)
The title of this book (from the 50s) reads: We will love each other all our lives. Finding this vintage volume was serendipitous: I had been returning from a morning swim, having taken Jean-Marc's invitation to join him. On my way home, I stopped at the neighborhood book lending box, and was instantly enamored by this treasure looking up at me from the shelf.

I had been struggling to find a photo for this latest chapter, a passage I procrastinated on because it seemed dark (were the past chapters dragging the book down?). The illustration on the cover reminded me of the underlying theme of our book...and that is why I find it perfect for the end of this chapter.

Peynet illustration
The drawings (by Peynet) inside the book are cheeky. This one jumped right off the page and delighted me. It speaks volumes of our relationship. From the moment I married him, Jean-Marc has kept me wagging my fingers with each and every DIY impulse of his! In the moment, it really frustrates me. But looking back over all of the quirky creations and repairs he has done (he would indeed go as far as to borrow the back of my dress if it served a purpose!) I can't help but smile in appreciation for it all. "It all" being the life we have shared up until now.

The memoir Jean-Marc and I are writing will speak volumes to anyone in a relationship, and anyone who has ever followed a dream and suffered setbacks along the way. Your purchase is a great support to us as we face the next chapter, always seeking the balance between transparency--and (to use the illustration above...) not revealing too much! Click here to purchase our book-in-progress, and thanks in advance!


Drawings from the book on s aimera toute la vie

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 makes a difference. A donation by check or via PayPal is vivement appréciéeMerci infiniment! Kristi

"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



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Two Milestones: News about Jean-Marc and Jackie

Jackie Jean Marc Max Kristi at Vin Sobre Wine shop La Ciotat
Photo of our family in Le Vin Sobre wine shop--a project Jean-Marc has been working on all summer. The doors officially opened, here in La Ciotat, on Friday. (left to right: Jackie, Jean-Marc, Max, and Kristi.)

Today's word: vieille canaille

    : old scoundrel

Click here to listen to the following sentence
Bonjour, c'est Jean Marc. Je vous invite à venir visiter ma cave à vin - épicerie fine à La Ciotat. Vous y découvrirez toutes mes sélections ainsi qu'une section intitulée "vieilles canailles".

Hi, Jean-Marc here. I invite you to visit my wine shop/épicerie fine in La Ciotat. You will discover all my best selections as well as a section called "old scoundrels".*

"Old scoundrels, here, refer to Jean-Marc's old vintages, for sale at the shop.


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
, by Kristi Espinasse

Two Milestones

The picture, above, was snapped moments before we took our daughter to the train station in Marseilles.  Her voyage to Miami, where she began bartender school on Monday, was about to begin. Sometime last year our youngest began a transition, leaving behind her fashion studies in France to find work in the States. The job she found at the Ritz Carlton, serving drinks and occasionally helping as barback, awakened a longtime interest in mixology. Voilà for the first milestone which passed the week of her 22nd birthday (which is today, September 18th! Happy Birthday, Jackie!!).

The second milestone belongs to Jean-Marc, who opened his Vin Sobre wine shop here in La Ciotat on Friday! He could not have known when he began his journey into winemaking that he would end up here. But, if there is one thing I am learning, "to end up somewhere" is not in his vernacular.

There is no "end," only a day to day trek towards the future. Happy travels to all and, should you find yourself in the area of La Ciotat, please enjoy a rest stop along your journey... at the Vin Sobre wine shop, located conveniently off the motorway :-)

Le Vin Sobre La Ciotat
45 Voie Ariane, 13600 La Ciotat
Tel : 09 88 06 18 58 - 06 65 21 35 92
Instagram : @le_vin_sobre_la_ciotat
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/LeVinSobreLaCiotatCaveAVinEpicerieFine/ 

Vin sobre cave wine shop la ciotat

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 makes a difference. A donation by check or via PayPal is vivement appréciéeMerci infiniment! Kristi

"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



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Freedom & Fer: L’homme est né libre et partout il est dans les fers.

Bird tracks on the beach and the sea
Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains. Don't miss the translation, below.

Today's Word: le fer

    : iron
    : shoe, horseshoe
    : rail

les fers = chains

Click here to listen to the following sentence

L’homme est né libre et partout il est dans les fers.  --Jean-Jacques Rousseau

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
    by Kristi Espinasse

Have you ever noticed the self-imposed prisons we sometimes check into when we put limits on our freedom? Jean-Jacques Rousseau famously wrote: L’homme est né libre et partout il est dans les fers.
 
La liberté is a gift. To some it is a right. Either way it is something to be thankful for each and every day, so why would anyone ever restrict their own champ des possibilités
 
We do this in ways in which we are often unaware...
 
Out walking along the seafront this morning, I suddenly froze at the sight of a familiar figure in the distance. I felt the urge to turn around and hurry home, or else bump into somebody I was avoiding. I could have bucked up and continued on, but it would have been an awkward march forward. Which, come to think of it, is better than a bloody march forward, as those who have fought for our freedom have suffered on not-so-distant sandy shores....

Because of this absurd social dilemma I now had to change directions, which was dommage as it would curtail my daily walk (an exercise that began a year ago, with the goal of restoring peace of mind. Quelle ironie!
 
Alors, in a quick change of itinerary, I took up a parallel path on the sandy beach just below. By zigzagging up and down the narrow plage I could elongate this alternate route and--unexpected bonus-- improve my workout, thanks to the different niveaux along the beach, and to the sable, which is more challenging to walk on.
 
No sooner did I begin snaking my way home (down to the water, back to the boardwalk, and down again) than I became aware of just how dorky this looked (in comparison to the other morning sportifs, all advancing in a straight line, on a designated path), for who loops up and down a narrow beach if not a loopy person! 
 
Oh, but it was enjoyable while it lasted! even if the couple in their beach chairs stared (I swear I could read their thought bubbles: "What's up with Loopy Doop?").
 
That's when a thought bubble of my own came up: YOU HAVE GOT TO PRACTICE YOUR FREEDOM! 
 
This was true... And here! And now!

At that moment I looked down and saw hundreds of fine tracks in the sand--made up of little affirming steps just like mine! The tiny four-toed footprints zigzagged and looped up and down the beach... What was striking was who left these exquisite tracks... it was no other than the symbol of freedom herself. For who is freer than a bird? 

Allez. En avant! No matter your setbacks, keep moving forward in your own original way, thankful all the while for the freedom to be able to do so.
 
Doves by the sea in la ciotat
 
FRENCH VOCABULARY
les fers = chains
partout = everywhere
la liberté = freedom
le champ des possibilités = field of possibilities
dommage = too bad
quelle ironie = How ironic
alors = so
la plage = beach
le niveau = level
le sable = sand
le sportif = athlete
allez = go on!
en avant = keep move forward

Bird tracks on the beach

 

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 makes a difference. A donation by check or via PayPal is vivement appréciéeMerci infiniment! Kristi

"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



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Un coup de bol + ras le bol and recipe for "le pain en cocotte" (dutch oven bread)

Kristin and Jean-Marc Espinasse by Cynthia Gillespie-Smith
photo by Cynthia Gillespie-Smith

A SPECIAL WELCOME to students who have just signed on to this journal. It is an honor to have you with us! This blog began in the South of France in 2002 when our children were 5 and 7, and I worked at a  Swedish-owned winery while my husband sold Italian wine bottling machines. (I am American and he is French.) We left our jobs, focused on writing and wine and eventually bought a vineyard of our own. Currently, we are sharing a more personal story and you may follow along as we write it: The Lost Gardens goes behind the scenes of this lighthearted, cheerful (in the style of today's column, below) blog to the dark and hopeless moments that punctuated our private life. Feedback on our memoir:

"A raw, honest, and heart-wrenching telling of a trying period. So vividly told." -Janet
"Your combined story is powerful..." --Chris
"This book will be a great help to others, and a testament to the strengths you have each discovered in yourselves." -Ellen 

Anyone who has ever chased a dream while trying to hold on to their loved ones will be moved by our book's dual narrative: my husband writes about his ambitious pursuit of winemaking, and my chapters focus on our relationship as our vineyard rises.... and ultimately falls. But that is not the end of the story.... Purchase the memoir here and begin reading right away.  

Today's phrase: un coup de bol

    : a stroke of luck, a fluke, lucky break

Sound File: click here to listen to the French phrase below

Un coup de bol... à ne pas confondre avec le ras le bol (ce qui veut dire " fed up").
A stroke of luck... not to be confused with le ras le bol (which means "fed up").

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

by Kristi Espinasse

"Wonder Bread"

Quelle Trouvaille! I was hunting through the second-hand shop, with Mom, when I stumbled upon a dutch oven. Le Creuset no less. The torn white sticker read 5 euros. But it weighed a ton! Did I really want to buy this empty canon ball?

Oh, but it was canon! A real knock-out as go dutch ovens. Cherry red. A slate-black handle (so handsome you'd forgive it the first time it blistered your fingers). The retro typography L E  C R E U S E T. The creamy enamel interior. Tu vas regretter, a little voice said as I began walking away. And so I turned back...et on connâit la suite....

I am typing this with burnt fingers which reminds me to include the following disclaimer: pay attention when baking today's wonder bread and porter des gants!

Now that you've been warned, and you promise to be mindful while making this fastoche bread recipe--don't hold back! This is every bit as good as a French baguette and simple comme bonjour...to make.

IMG_20190824_140329_905

Follow the simple video instructions at the end of this post for a no-fail loaf that will wow your family and friends! If you don't have a dutch oven and can't locate one second-hand, check out these dutch ovens on Amazon.com

FRENCH VOCABULARY

le pain en cocotte = dutch oven bread
quelle trouvaille! = what a find!
canon = gorgeous
on connaît la suite = the rest is history
porter des gants = wear gloves
fastoche = easy
simple comme bonjour = easy as hello
MVIMG_20190829_120611
The antique hachoir berceuse (rocking chopper) was another find at the second-hand store! You can find these new here

MVIMG_20190829_115352
Even the underside is beautiful, reminiscent of the marbled French yogurt cake!

MVIMG_20190829_120718
I've finally run out of farine, or flour, after making so many loaves :-) Latest obsession: to add Everything but the Bagel seasoning mix to the top. So good! I leave you with the video that simplifies the steps:

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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 makes a difference. A donation by check or via PayPal is vivement appréciéeMerci infiniment! Kristi

"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



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Saudade - Just what does it mean?

Le chalet

Saudade. A word overheard on vacation (thank you, Jêrome, and Paola, from Brazil). The term "saudade" isn't French (not yet*)--but a good mot to start with as we get back to school and work (la rentrée) and back on course with our goals, dreams, and visions which so often bring us full circle to our nostalgic beginnings. Thank you for reading this journal and for sharing it with somebody who loves France. I hope these posts enrich more than your vocabulaire.

Today's word: saudade 

    : a feeling of delicious nostalgia
    : a profound emotional state, both positive or neg (gone-by days, lost love)
    : the sentiment of missing something or someone; homesickness

*Saudade is considered a Portuguese word difficult to translate, to the point that the creation of a French neologism was even considered. -- Saudade est considéré comme un mot portugais difficile à traduire, au point que la création d'un néologisme français a même été envisagée. (Wikipedia)

Click here to listen to the word saudade, as it appears in the sentence above


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

by Kristi Espinasse

My belle-mère Marsha once said: "The last thing you toss into your suitcase is the thing you end up using the most!" Was she ever right! And to think I hesitated about bringing my Kindle to the Alps.  On second thought, I reasoned, it might come in handy...what with the weak wee-fee, or internet reception, in the remote valley where I would be joining my husband, who had arrived the week before.

There in Serre Chevalier, in the Alpine hamlet of Les Boussards, I snuggled into the loft of a tiny stone chalet. Flipping open my Kindle (bought a few years ago, with high hopes of remedying my readers block), I had a look at my digital library. That's when I noticed the title As a Man Thinketh... I don't remember if or when I ever read it...


My Mom once shared a consolation about the right man at the wrong time, and the same could be said about a self-help classic! A book we tried to connect with years ago suddenly aligns with us, its words jumping right off the page and diving deep into our fertile minds. And so it was with the bestseller Tel Un Homme Pense. Over the one-week retreat to the Vallée de la Guisane I read and reread this little gem (only 65 pages) by James Allen, carefully chewing on and putting into practice its wisdom when away from the text (as when, in a pair of cheap sneakers, I followed my husband of 25 years--a soon-to-be triathlete--and our friend Nicolas up a steep mountain.

MVIMG_20190817_152044

High up with the cerfs and the wolves that hunt them, my heart beating faster than an Arizona hummingbird and my t-shirt soaked from effort--I remembered a favorite passage from the book:

There is no physician like cheerful thought for dissipating the ills of the body....

With this nugget in mind, the hike became faisable and uplifting (literally. As the body is the slave of thought, it soon came round...especially when we reached the serene lake at the top of the mount...).

MVIMG_20190817_105331

If I got to practice the book's principles while pushing my 51-year-old body to its limits in the Alps, I didn't miss the many opportunities to retrain my brain during the rest of our trip (away from the comfort and familiarity of home and into new places and new social situations...including a French marriage in which I was certain we guests were all going to sleep in a barn with no toilet. Just goes to show how past experiences (...) frame our perspective! After psyching myself for the wedding, I was pleasantly surprised when the groom showed us to our very own room and its en-suite amenities!

"Our own room!" I said to Jean-Marc, shutting the door in relief.

"But of course. What were you thinking?" My husband replied.

What were you thinking. A question we might all ask ourselves more often, as the mind tends to gallop forward, like a wild étalon. A wild stallion may be a beautiful thing, except when it bolts, taking you along for the ride.

It is time to tame our thoughts and move forward into the new year. Whether you are going back to school or back to work today, je vous souhaite une bonne rentrée. Keep nostalgia and longing in your heart--saudade--be a little more fleur bleue and continue to follow your dreams wherever they lead.

Amicalement,

Kristi

Post Note: I highly encourage you to buy a copy of As a Man Thinketh. Each time I reach the end of the book, on my Kindle reader, I start over again. And when I can no longer recall the meaningful sentences highlighted within, I've come up with a helpful two-word summary to keep on track throughout the day: Lofty thoughts! Lofty thoughts! 

As a man thinketh james allen poverty to power

The edition, above, is the one I just purchased for my Mom. It comes with an extra book:As A Man Thinketh & From Poverty to Power

If you'd like to order a Kindle, click here.

FRENCH VOCABULARY
saudade = a kind of longing
le mot = word
la rentrée = back to school, back to work (after summer break)
le vocabulaire = vocabulary
la belle-mère = stepmother (also can mean mother-in-law)
wee-fee = French pronunciation of Wi-Fi 
le cerf = stag, deer
faisable = doable
un étalon = stallion, male horse
fleur bleu = romantic
je vous souhaite une bonne rentrée = I wish you a good start (to the new (school year or back to work after break)
être fleur bleu = to be sentimental
amicalement = best wishes

Nicolas and Jean-Marc in Nevache
Nicolas and Jean-Marc at a mountain top in Nevache

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 makes a difference. A donation by check or via PayPal is vivement appréciéeMerci infiniment! Kristi

"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



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

IMG_20180312_214546_620
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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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 makes a difference. A donation by check or via PayPal is vivement appréciéeMerci infiniment! Kristi

"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



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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 

MVIMG_20190804_172600
Max's painting midway through

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 makes a difference. A donation by check or via PayPal is vivement appréciéeMerci infiniment! Kristi

"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



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