Papillonner: Mom's butterfly chair + a fluttery French verb for you today

Smokey in the papillon chairSmokey in the butterfly chair, or la chaise papillon. Papillon--it is a favorite French word but did you know there is a fluttery verb to go with it? Perfect for today's story, about Mom's favorite fauteuil....

Today's Word: Papillonner

    : to flit around, flutter about

Click here to listen to Jean-Marc read the following sentence:
Ne te laisse pas distraire par les événements extérieurs ! Prends le temps d'apprendre quelque chose de bon et cesse de papillonner! Don't be distracted by outside events! Take the time to learn something good and stop fluttering! --Marcus Aurelius

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

"Now this is the best spot!" Mom swears, as she settles into her portable garden chair and takes in her surroundings.

"Come over here, Kristi! You've got to see the view from here. This is the best spot!"

My mind is aflutter. Mom! You said that last time. And the time before! Instead of voicing such thoughts, I accept the invitation to sit down and experience Jules's new garden digs--make that her latest garden digs: the new location for her favorite chaise.

The chair is a Mariposa, meaning "butterfly," which hints at its shape. Here in France, it's called a fauteuil or chaise papillon. A gift from granddaughter, Jackie, I wouldn't have picked this particular model, but have since grown to admire it, having noticed how much Mom uses it. The easy chair with its canvas sling and folding metal frame was conceived in Buenos Aires in the late 30s. A description of the chair's design calls it "Nature meets art." Perfect for Jules!

Papillonner: aller de-ci de-la = to go here and there

Mom drags her butterfly chair all over the jardin, parking it according to her mood. If she is blue, the Papillon is stationed behind the house, where Mom will cloud-gaze alone or stare at The Narrow Gate (a "door" of blue sky amidst the distant parasol pines).

Jules's big blue chair sat for a tired while beneath the giant cedar tree, where she mourned her husband, John, and it languished, for a time, in the far corner of the yard, where Mom cried over the loss of her little dog, Breezy, buried back home in Mexico).

Up and down, a butterfly among the flowers 

Comme un vrai papillon, like a real butterfly the chair lands in various places, taking nectar, nourishment, and hope from nature's gentle surroundings. When Mom is happy, she totes her easy chair to the front yard, and reads beside the pond, after which her big blue papillon might flutter over to the blossoming hedge of laurier rose, where she listens to French tourists walk along the trottoir just outside. (It is a good way to practice her Français!)

No matter where her chair goes, our faithful golden retriever, Smokey, follows, as do her birds--a dozen tourterelles and, since covid, all the pigeons who no longer feed at the restaurants down the street.

"Look up at the sky, Kristi! See the passage between those two giant parasol pines? That's The Narrow Gate!" (and a meaningful scene for Mom to contemplate).

"Yes. Yes, Mom, I see it!" I sound annoyed but I am only tempering Mom's enthusiasm. She is so excited about THIS spot and about THAT detail.

"Did you see the way the sun is lighting up that one sunflower? Now THIS is the best spot!" Mom insists. "Come stand over here, beside my chair. The sun is now falling on the little patch of onions! Look at the shimmer of light! You've got to see the view from here...."

Mom doesn't know it, but she is a light. And a joy to see, moving her butterfly chair from tree to tree. Beautiful, comme un papillon qui butine.

Butterfly chair in garden
Mom's butterfly chair beneath the weeping pepper tree. Mille mercis to Jackie for this gift.

FRENCH VOCABULARY

le papillon = butterfly
le fauteuil = chair, easy chair
la chaise = chair
le jardin = garden, yard
laurier rose = oleander
le trottoir
= pavement, sidewalk
la tourterelle = turtledove
butiner = gather pollen, gather nectar
comme un papillon qui butine = like a butterfly gathering nectar

Mom setting the scene
Mom, in her Jack Daniel's T-shirt (the one she swiped from Max). Thanks, Mom, for helping Smokey to pose for today's photo to illustrate this post.

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L'Oubli: Two accidental versions of the same story (on forgetfulness)

Cat in nyons
Ah...L'oubli! When is forgetfulness a good thing? In today's unusual edition all vocabulary is at the end. We'll restructure things next week!

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

While in the kitchen I noticed steam rising from the countertop. Approaching the messy comptoir for a closer look, I recognized the Starbucks souvenir mug (Vail edition) I'd purchased while visiting our daughter, Jackie, last year. I never did use la grande tasse for its intended purpose (it's too heavy; I prefer somewhere between dainty teacup and bol, which the French love for their café au lait). But all is not lost (even if my memory is, we'll get to that in a minute....) I regularly put the giant cup to use, mostly to measure out dried couscous: one Starbucks mug couscous plus one Starbucks mug hot water…. Feeds 6.

Recently I've found a second use for the mug: lentils! I've been sprouting the dry légumes like crazy ever since my belle-soeur Cécile showed me the simplicity of sprouting beans: no special equipment necessary. But, after forgetting the sprouted lentils in the mug last week, it was time to toss them out...so I and set the large cup on the counter as a physical reminder to feed the sprouts to our hens.

Only now there was steam rising out of the giant mug! What the...? Staring at the cloud rushing out of the mug, I noticed another cup beside it, on the counter. It held a cold café au lait...Putting two and two together, I realized I'd put the wrong cup in the microwave!

Oh no! Not again! It was one more oubli in a streak of forgetfulness. Just this past week I had left some bread in the 450f oven. Forgetting about it completely, I headed out for a long walk. This near-disaster was curtailed when, remembering, I hurried home from my walk only to learn I'd forgotten to put the bread in the oven first place!

The bread now in the oven and my phone's timer set to the highest volume, I hurried out of the house to resume my morning exercise, oblivious to the fact I'd left the door wide open and the keys dangling from the keyhole (something clear-headed Kristi would never do, not after coming face-to-face with a cambrioleur)!

Voyons, what other forgetfulness encounters have I run into? Run into...reminds me of running into people and the fear of not remembering names. I've set up systems for this. Just the other day in church I pulled out my smartphone, went to "contacts", and discreetly as possible reviewed the list of church members (there are only 12 of us). Turns out I knew the names all along… Why second-guess myself when I would do better to have faith!

Speaking of la foi, I will end with a quote I read this morning from Corrie Ten Boom (a Dutch Christian watchmaker and author of The Hiding Place), which hints at why such forgetfulness happens in the first place:

"If the devil cannot make us bad, he will make us busy.” Indeed, if we weren't so distracted by everything around us, we might recall what is essential.


Post Note:  Like those steaming hot sprouts found on my counter...I just discovered a previous draft (from May 29) of today's story (written June 1st)!! I'm going ahead and posting both stories--we'll worry about all the edits later. I've got to eat lunch now and rest my mind! 

 

(SAME STORY - ORIGINAL VERSION)

This morning I headed out for a walk, certain to have finally chosen the right direction. It's all about balance, I reminded myself, stepping past the garbage which needed emptying. La poubelle could wait. So could Jean-Marc's chapter, which needed editing. And there was an item I needed to return to the store…. Ça peut attendre! Why does everything feel like it has a deadline? Why all the rushing all the time?

The best way to begin this day is by clearing my mind and getting some exercise. Well, that was my mantra as I picked up speed along on the trottoir. I was a mile into my walk, when I saw a green parrot fly over. Magnifique ! This reminded me to say a prayer….

Dear God. Please clear my mind. (Deep breath. Exhale…) Make room so i may hear your voice above all "else".

All else being the deluge of information filling my head. It's the fault of overcuriosity (too much information-seeking, internet surfing, social media, email, too many demands of family who swear they don't make demands but they do!)

Dear God. Please clear my mind. Make room so I may hear your voice above all "else". I repeated the prayer until…. Mon Dieu! A response came! Here is what God said....

THE BREAD!!!

Oh my God! I totally forgot about the bread I had put into the oven...at 450degrees…. A while before I left for my walk.

Oh no! Not again! Forgetfulness! There was no time to scold myself for yet another oubli--not when the bread was about to catch fire (would it? What is the next stage after complete carbonization?).

I grabbed my smartphone from my backpack and called Max and he did not answer.

I called Mom. She answered!

"Mom, I need you to get your keys and go into the house and get the bread out of the oven. Be careful when you open the oven door! The mitts are in the top right drawer!"

I hurried the one mile home, running the last few blocks only to find Mom watering the garden….

"Did you get the bread?"

Mom carefully weighed her words. "You must have left it on the stovetop, Darling."

Notice Mom didn't say "forgot" ie you forgot to put it in the oven…. I hurried into the kitchen to see with my own eyes the uncooked loaf. There it was!

Placing the loaf in the oven, I quickly set my smartphone's timer to 30 minutes and upped the volume just to be sure. Hurrying out of the house to resume my walk, I unwittingly left the keys in the door and left the door wide open. (Mom gently informed me of the forgotten door when I returned from my walk.)

"I keep forgetting things. What is wrong with me?" I said to Mom.

"Kristi relax. You just need to quit policing all of us."

Policing? What did this have to do with forgetfulness? Besides, any apparent bossiness was something I was working on!

Sensing my defensiveness, Mom began to backpedal. "Well, as for me, what helps is gratitude and dying to self (that die-to-self business may sound bizarre, Dear Reader, but what Mom means by dying to self is squashing the ego). Mom began pulling weeds, to illustrate such soul-cleaning.

"I know!" I growled, putting on garden gloves and helping with the garden chores. "I know! I'm the one that gave you those books. From Francois Fénelon to Thomas A. Kempis I know all about dying to self! I read it first!"

Mom overlooked my meltdown, with this next, barely concealed strategy: "I'm not saying you need to do those things, I was only saying *I* need to do those things."

Harrumph! We continued the tug-o-war in the garden until... a clump of seedlings caught my attention:

"Hey, I should thin these zucchini don't you think?"

"Good idea!! Don't throw those out...I'll replant them over here!" Mom offered.

Ten minutes later we stood back to admire our join effort and a new row of zucchini, which Mom artfully interspersed white alliums and strawberries. Brilliant!

The hot topic of forgetfulness was but a distant memory--and so was whatever it was we were arguing about :-)

 

FRENCH VOCABULARY
le comptoir = counter, bar
la grande tasse = big cup, mug
la belle-soeur = sister-in-law (can also mean stepsister) 
un oubli= oversight, forgetfulness
cambrioleur = burglar

Smokey snoozing
Smokey snoozing in the garden. I'm off for a bite to eat and a snooze, too. It's good for the brain! I hope you enjoyed and were not too confused (like me....) over two versions of the same story. And please don't worry about my memory. Like all of you, I have the world on my mind! Today's edition was reckless (I did not check and recheck my text as many times as usual). If you catch any typos or would like to edit my French, my English, or my grammar in either language--your help is most welcome and appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue creating this French word journal and its newsletter, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site humming along, please know your donation makes all the difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
 
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Two brothers at Aldi and riots in France

The Green Island
L'Ile Verte. The green island, here in La Ciotat, for a peaceful image to begin today's post.

Today's Word: chercher ses mots*

    : to be at a loss for words

*I settled on this "word of the day" following the struggle in writing a story in these sad, scary, and emotionally-charged times. Thank you for reading with open hearts.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

In the parking lot at Aldi I was loading our groceries, Mom's, then mine, into our car, when I saw two familiar faces. It was the funny duo behind us in the checkout line. Turning to the brothers (who were twins?), I smiled:

Je voulais vous remercier pour votre bonne humeur. Ça fait du bien--surtout en ce moment. I hope they understood my French, and my appreciation for their funny commentary back in line, when they were snapping each other's face masks and reminding one another to keep at a safe distance from the next customer. They were regular Laurel and Hardys in the age of coronavirus!

The short, gray-haired men, so full of antics back in the store, suddenly grew shy, in a French version of Aw, Shucks! "Well," one of the guys offered, you've got to have a sense of humor in times like these!"

"C'est sûr!" I agreed, adding, "Are you from La Ciotat?"

"Oui!" 

"My mom and I are from Arizona," I shared.

The men grew thoughtful. "A lot of upheaval in the US right now..." one of the brothers reflected.

"Here in France, too..." I said, mentioning the riots breaking out in Paris and beyond.

"Non!" The brothers replied, in a possible misunderstanding (were they unaware of the émeutes?).

"Non!" They affirmed. "We are not racist!"

I think the brothers were referring to themselves--or possibly to our region? Either way, they echoed the feelings or beliefs or ideals of many.

Our conversation ended in awkward silence, one that lingered. Later that day the brothers' words returned to mind. "We are not racist." I understood what they meant. I believe they were sincere. I know I am too! My last thought came as a surprise: But is that enough? Is it enough not to be racist?

 

FRENCH VOCABULARY
Je voulais vous remercier = I wanted to thank you
bonne humeur = good humor
ça fait du bien = it does one good
surtout en ce moment = especially at this time
une émeute = uprising, riot

The coast in la ciotat
I leave you with a peaceful image taken here in La Ciotat. Thank you for reading.

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue creating this French word journal and its newsletter, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site humming along, please know your donation makes all the difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
 
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A funny French expression to help you respond "sur-le-champ"

Sos bijoux perdus
The sign near the beach reads "SOS Lost Jewelry in the water." Here in La Ciotat, there's another place where people lose things... and it also has to do with water! Learn a handy expression in today's vocabulary-packed story!

Today's word: sur-le-champ
 
    ​: at once, immediately, right away

Audio: listen to Jean-Marc read the following definition:

Une riposte c'est une réponse vive, instantanée, faite à un interlocuteur 
action qui répond sur le champ. A riposte is a lively, instant reply, made to an interlocutor [often one who has just asked a question] for an on-the-spot response.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

After packing un panier-repas for my husband's lunch, feeding the hens, and working on a chapter for our book, I knew if I didn't pause to eat something I would quickly turn into an LSB--a Low Blood-Sugared Zombie! (Do you know the feeling?) Funny, LSB also stands for "Low Surface Brightness Galaxy" which could explain our brainpower when we run out of fuel... It could also explain the inversion of letters, above, but we're sticking with LSB--for consistency! 

For le petit déjeuner, I was preparing a kiwi, an orange, and a baguette with beurre de cacahuète...when a cry sounded from a nearby galaxy (my son's room):
 
"I can't find my boot!"

"Max!" I set down my paring knife. "I thought you were wearing your Dr. Martens to work?"
 
"I can't find my boot!" The dismissive response reminded me he's as stubborn as his father. And I knew both well enough to predict the next scene....

On hands and knees, I was now searching for the LMO--Latest Missing Object. (LMO also stands for a Living Modified Organism which is what I become each and every time my family pulls me away from my own morning race...to join their own wild goose chase!) Crawling around on the floor Max and I knocked heads. Aïe! Aïe! This was no way to start a day!  What am I doing down here with the dust bunnies under the bed? I should've listened to my friend Sophie....
 
When I was newly married, Sophie (married to Jean-Marc's best friend, Nico) was my model of the Modern French Woman: feisty, sexy, Sophie also had the gift of riposte, or funny comebacks. It was Sophie who taught me How To Deal With People Who Constantly Misplace Things:
 
"When zey say, 'Where eez it?' (zees thing they are losing...). You tell zem zees: 'C'est. Dans. Le. Chiotte'." 
 
(It's in the crapper.)
 
I should have listened to feisty Sophie. 25 years later and I am still being dragged into everyone else's wild goose chase at the expense of my own treasure hunt (I could be searching for words for my next story, instead of crouching here on the floor, my head pulsing from a skull collision!)

Spotting the missing botte, I let out a victory shout. "There it is! There's your boot. Way back beneath your bed. You go get it!"
 
Dusting myself off on the way back to the breakfast table, I encountered my husband. "Next time I'm gonna tell you guys to look in the toilet! Oui! C'est dans le chiot!" I said, threatening, une fois pour toutes, to stop searching for everybody's lost stuff.
 
"Chiotte," Jean-Marc corrected. "'Chiot' means "jeune chien." Next I received a light scolding: "Chérie, after all these years in France, where have you put your French?"

Well, what was there to say for myself? "Je l'ai mis dans le chiot?" I put it in the puppy?

It may not have been a sassy response, but it was quick--sur-le-champ!
 

FRENCH VOCABULARY 
un panier-repas = a packed lunch
le petit déjeuner = breakfast
beurre de cacahuète = peanut butter
la botte = boot
aïe  = ouch
riposte = retort
chiotte = toilet, crapper
chiot = puppy
jeune chien = young dog, puppy
une fois pour toutes = once and for all
sur-le-champ = immediate

Smokey as a puppy
Which of these puppies stole my French? A young Smokey and his sisters are scolded by their mama, Breizh. 

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue creating this French word journal and its newsletter, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site humming along, please know your donation makes all the difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
 
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Two celebrations + Langue de belle-mère (a funny word for a certain party favor)

Our garden in mayGiven Mothers Day is celebrated on different dates across the globe, I will take this moment to wish all caregivers a Joyeuse Fête! Photo: the tidy side of our garden. We'll talk about the weeds--and a mother's needs--in the following story.

Today's Word: Langue de belle-mère (f)

    : party blower 

literal translation: "mother-in-law's tongue" (photo below)

 Audio file: Click here and listen to three featured words in the following sentence, read by Jean-Marc

Une langue de belle-mère, aussi appelé sans-gêne, est un accessoire de cotillon utilisé dans les occasions festives. C'est un tube en papier (parfois en plastique) avec souvent tout du long une bande en plastique ou en métal souple, aplati et enroulé en spirale, muni d'un bec en plastique avec une anche ou plus rarement un sifflet. En soufflant dans le bec, le tube se déroule et l'anche émet alors un son caractéristique. A mother-in-law's tongue, also called without shame, is a party favor used on festive occasions. It is a paper tube (sometimes plastic) with a long a plastic or flexible metal band, flattened and wound in a spiral, including a plastic beak with a reed or on rare occasions a whistle. By blowing into the spout, the tube unrolls and the reed then emits a characteristic sound.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

I was standing in the party aisle at the dollar store, fighting back a wave of resistance about buying such throwaway items, when a bag of plastic sifflets caught my eye. Red, white, and blue with stars and stripes, these musical blowouts would be a symbolic addition to the decorations I was gathering. After all, Max, our soon-to-be 25-year-old, is half-American. If any more justification were needed for buying the cheap, single-use item, I found it in the giant description on the label....

"Langue de Belle-Mère" 

Sifflets langue de belle mere party blower mirliton

What a funny and delightful name for party blowers! As someone who appreciates the playful side of the French language, this was a find! Plus, I could share the expression with my blog readers. Vendu! 

Carefully setting the mirlitons into my basket, beside the Joyeux Anniversaire banner (reuseable, n'est-ce pas?), and the balloons, I now had enough festive trim to decorate our living room and surprise Max the moment he woke up! Hélas, returning home on foot from the store, any satisfaction turned to stress...there were a number of to-do's remaining on my list in order to be ready for Le Jour J. There was the birthday cake to make, the shortcrust pastry to pre-bake, the couscous to prepare... and the cadeau to wrap, the card to write, the guest bathroom to clean and...and...

AIDEZ-MOI! Who else was helping around here?!!

Recently, during a venting session (by the way, I googled "venting" and scientific studies show it does NOT help! Best to suck up and soldier on!) in which I unloaded my current frustrations about family life, my Mom said in so many words: Face it. You are not a caregiver.

Who me? Not a caregiver? Ouch! In protest, I cited all the things I do for everybody around here all the time....

"But you do them grudgingly...." 

That did it. I was ready to divorce my entire family! Bon débarras! Mom's next words eased the you-do-it-with-a-grudge sting: "It's normal you'd feel this way! You should be done taking care of kids by now. Mom went on to say I could use a housekeeper and a gardener. But I don't want those things. I'm fine here in the dust and the weeds!

Being somewhat of a rapporteuse, I went and tattled on my mom to my son--and I didn't have to travel far as we are three generations living under one roof.

When Max's reply amounted to the opposite (that I care too much about everybody and their business) I began to notice the varying feedback I was receiving came from family members who feel either neglected...or smothered.  I suppose I may never know the answer as to just what kind of caregiver/homemaker/wife/mother/daughter I am--but this much I know for sure: Domesticity is something I value and admire in others. And what we value says a lot. Our valeurs coupled with effort is what matters.

Recently, a letter from my dad revamped my domestic energy which has been deflated for some time. (The first words of Dad's email refer to a post he was forwarding on) Dad's note begins:

A well written essay on the importance of tending the hearth and giving substance and comfort to the ones we love.  We know how hard you work to take care of your family.

I love you,
Dad
 

Dad's words had a super transforming effect! I began polishing my bedroom window after months of staring at the dusty designs on the glass. From there, I started to see other chores in a new light: the light of matter (as in this so-called drudgery matters!)

As for tending the hearth, my sister Heidi is a shining example to me. Whether tucking homemade sandwiches into our carry-ons when Jean-Marc and I fly home to France, or waking early to decorate her living room to honor a family member's birthday, my soeur ainée truly enjoys and finds peace in homemaking and caring. I called Heidi to tell her about my birthday decorations for Max. "That's wonderful!" she said. 

"I learned it from you!" 

"Thank you for letting me know that," my sister said, touched by the recognition. 

It's time to end this essay somewhere.... I'm just not quite sure where. How about I pass out those party horns? Those langues de belle-mère? And we celebrate--via a needed second wind--all caregivers and those who love them!

 

FRENCH VOCABULARY

joyeuse fête = happy celebration
le sifflet
= whistle
le langue de belle-mère = party blower 
vendu! =  sold!
le mirliton = party horn blower
Joyeux anniversaire = happy birthday
n'est-ce pas = isn't that right?
hélas = unfortunately
le jour J = D-Day, the big day
le cadeau = present, gift
bon débarass = good riddance!
un/e rapporteur/se = a tattletell
la soeur ainée = older sister

*Corrections to this blog are always welcome and appreciated. Thank you in advance!

Max friends gift shoes
Max, trying on a pair of shoes his friends gave him. Also on the table, wines from 1995 -- gifts given to Max his birth year--enjoyed 25 years later! Jean-Marc says all the wine was still good, beautifully intact! I didn't have wine, but I can vouch for the cake--my mother-in-law Michèle-France's recipe is always good! Would you like to know the ingredients in a future post?

Birthday lunch for max
Max, center, with his best friends, and we, his parents.

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue creating this French word journal and its newsletter, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site humming along, please know your donation makes all the difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
 
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Cheese needs to breathe and so do we

Smokey golden retriever lavender jugs wooden shuttersPhoto of our dear golden, Smokey

Today's Word: respirer

    : to breathe, inhale

Click here to listen to the French quote below:
Respirer Paris, cela conserve l'âme. Breathe in, Paris, it conserves the soul. --Victor Hugo

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

While preparing a plateau de fromages for today's lunch, I was surprised to see the refrigerated cheese now wore a fuzzy white coat: the Comté, the Saint-Félicien--even the bûche de chèvre--all were covered in velours blanc!

"It's still mangeable," my son assured me, taking a bite to prove his point.

"Here, hand me that!" I said, carefully cutting off the mold. "I thought this glass​​ Tupperware was a good idea for conserving cheese," I said to Max, who stood nearby, preparing pasta. (Linguines au Citron et Saumon Fumé. It was delicious with the finely minced leaves from the lime tree!)

"Cheese needs to breathe," my son explained.

Mais bien sûr! It was an aha moment, one that returned later in the hour...
 
After lunch, I went to lie down but was kept from resting after a few worries trotted through my mind: there was the weekly blog post I failed to complete, and there were a few accrochages with family members. I was feeling emotionally lessivé when a funny phrase trotted through my mind, in place of the soucis:
 
Le fromage a besoin de respirer.
 
Yes! It was the right message at the right time: cheese needs to breathe and so do humans and their projects. I've set aside the blog post I had been writing but I can give it to you in a nutshell--or in a fuzzy white coat en velours if you fancy: 

The half-written post was an update about our online memoir, and un message de remerciement to those dearhearts who responded to my recent entry: Staying Sober at Two Vineyards. Once again, I am deeply moved by your words of support, especially by the fresh perspective you offered following Chapter 14.

Now, to end on both a serious and terribly cheesy note: Regarding any doubts about continuing on a path of sobriety...I have put those doubts aside. This cheese just needed to breathe! (No wine or spirits necessary. A fresh perspective worked beautifully. Merci!)

--
Post Note: Taking some of the pressure off is vital if we are to keep our sanity and continue living healthfully. One pressure I have felt is the need to turn this online book into a hardcopy or paperback. For now, it will remain an online book, available for purchase here.


FRENCH VOCABULARY

le plateau de fromages = cheese plate, cheese platter
la bûche de fromage de chèvre = log of goat cheese
le velours = velvet
blanc = white
mangeable = edible
Linguines au Citron et Saumon Fumé = linguini with lemon and smoked salmon
mais bien sûr = but of course
un accrochage = clash, dispute, fender-bender
lessivé = whacked, worn out
le souci = worry
c'est le cas de le dire = you can say that again
(that last phrase appeared in the previous version of this post. But I'm keeping it here as it's a good one!)

Wild poppies
Wild poppies are in bloom now. Enjoy.

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Pâte Brisée : Jêrôme's 4-ingredient wine-based shortcrust pastry is easy, versatile, delicious for savory quiche or sweet, delectable pie!

lemon pie tart shortcrust pastry recipe geraniums pepper tree bistro chair
I can tell you--after seeing them in the bathroom mirror this morning--this shortcrust pastry recipe will give you les poignées d'amour. That's French for "love handles." Même pas peur? Not even scared? Good! Read on and discover a truly delicious and versatile pâte brisée. I should know...I've tested 10 of them in the past week--ever since you asked for the recipe!  

Today's Word: la pâte brisée

    : shortcrust pastry, a rich dough for making pie crust

Audio: Listen to the words pâte brisée in this soundfile
En cuisine, la pâte brisée est une pâte servant de base aux tartes salées ou sucrées.  La pâte brisée désigne généralement une pâte composée principalement de farine et de matière grasse sans sucre.
In cooking, shortcrust pastry is a dough used as a base for savory or sweet pies. Shortcrust pastry generally refers to a dough composed mainly of flour and fat, without sugar.

Jérôme's Pâte Brisée: 4-ingredient Shortcrust Pastry
(makes one large or two small tarts!)

Ingredients...
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup sunflower oil

Note: ordinary white wine is all you need. Leftover wine will work as long as it hasn't turned to vinegar. For oil, we used sunflower, but olive oil or other oils could work.
 
Optional additions to the dough: pinches of salt, poppy or sesame or flax seeds, cumin, herbes de Provence or other spices.... The sky's the limit!


Method:

Pour 1/2 cup wine and 1/2 cup oil into a cup. Heat 1.5 minutes (until very warm) in a microwave. In a bowl combine flour and baking powder. Slowly pour in wine/oil mixture, stirring as you go with a fork or your hands.

Do not over mix. The shortcrust pastry dough is ready when it is no longer sticky.

Note: Having gradually added it to the mix until a good consistency was achieved, I had about 1/8 cup of wine/oil liquid mix leftover. 

Roll out the shortcrust pastry dough on a floured surface. Or roll it out onto some cooking paper, for easy transfer to the pie pan.  (No rolling pin? You could use a bottle of wine or similar.)

Pre-cook the dough
Cook the pâte brisée at 180c (350F) for 15 minutes or until golden and firm. (No need to add weights, such as beans, to the shortcrust pastry dough).

Your pie crust is ready! Just add your favorite filling: for savory tarts try grilled vegetables, one or two eggs whisked with sour cream, salt, pepper, herbs = a good basic (cook in a 180C/350F oven for approximately 30 minutes. For sweet: fry some bananas in butter, add a little sugar (and rum if you like), and arrange in pastry (photo below). I recommend Mimi Thorisson's simple and delicious lemon tart (pictured in the opening photo, above), using Jérôme's Pâte Brisée. A winning combination!

Give this oil and wine-based pâte brisée a try and let Cécile and me know here in the comments how it worked out for you. Bonne chance et bon appétit!

Cecile rolling out shortcrust pastry dough
Cécile, rolling out the shortcrust pastry, a recipe she learned from her friend Jérôme. Little does he know what a big part of our lives his 4-ingredient recipe has become. Mille mercis, Jérôme! And a thousand thanks, Cécile, for all you gave when you were with us these past two weeks. Thank you for cleaning up our porch, for all the cooking, for repairing those broken tiles on the outdoor stairs, and for the mega project of creating a tool room in our unruly cafoutche (before and after photos coming!). You are truly my rock star sister-in-law, and you will never know what an example you are to all of us. 

Mushroom pepper cumin mustard quiche
The last quiche  Cécile made for us using leftovers in the fridge--including leftover pastry dough. There are sauteed yellow peppers, mushrooms, and she added Dijon mustard + cumin to the egg/sour cream base. Our son Max loved this one!

Tomato tart tarte tomate recipe recette
Thanks to the additional pâte brisée in my frigo (as mentioned, today's recipe will make one large or 2 small-medium tarts) it will be easy to throw together another meal. I'm off to make an All-time Favorite Tomato Tart for lunch (recipe here). Will worry about those love handles--those poignées d'amour--later. On second thought, même pas peur!  

FRENCH VOCABULARY
la pâte brisée = shortcrust pastry
les poignées d'amour = love handles
même pas peur! = not scared! (word of the day on Jan 7 2013)
bonne chance = good luck
bon appétit = enjoy your meal
le frigo = fridge
Banana tart for shortcrust pastry
Banana tart with caramel filling.

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Our mystery guest + le cafoutche = The "everything room" in France

Our cafoutche store room
Up till now, the best part of our cafoutche was the view. More about a few sweet and savory projects in today's missive. Thank you for reading and sharing this post with a friend!

Today's Word: cafoutche

  : storage room, cupboard

AUDIO FILE: click here to listen to the following quote in French


Cafoutche: De l’occitan cafoucho synonyme de cahute. A Marseille il désigne un petit placard où l’on met de tout et de rien. Peut désigner la cave, aussi bien qu’une petite pièce fermée ou un débarras. Cafoutche: from Occitan cafoucho synonymous with hut. In Marseille this designates a small closet where you put everything and nothing. May refer to the cellar, as well as a small closed room or storage room. --www.lasardineduport.fr


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Not only is our guest on the mend, she is mending! Helping, that is, to fix everything from a punctual petit creux to our unruly store room--insisting all the while, ça fait du bien de travailler. What a positive way to look at work--as something that makes us feel better! I know this is true with my writing which I often put off to a later date, making the restlessness worse and stifling the atmosphere!

Rimbaud once wrote: La vie fleurit par le travail.

Life here is flourishing at the moment thanks to our accidental helper. My belle-soeur Cécile (our guest...had you guessed?) has been busy in the kitchen, making both savory and sweet tarts. So far she has made une tarte aux épinards, une tarte aux aspèrges, and two tartes aux fraises given it is strawberry and asparagus season here in France. Using her friend Jérome's recette, which calls for white wine and sunflower oil, ma belle-soeur made the most delicious crust I have ever tasted--so good I think I could eat just the crust for lunch! 

Between delicious meals, Cécile is eager to help us with le nettoyage de printemps. It's hard to stand by while my belle-soeur is sweeping our front and back porches, so I grab the dustpan and je mets la main à la pâte (which is more reasonable than putting my hand back in the pâte, or pie crust, no matter how addictive it is...).

Done sweeping, my belle-soeur has now offered to help reorganize our cafoutche, that room where the French put everything from tools to cat food--every machin-truc that does not have a home. Cécile, being a welder and furniture maker, is not only familiar with the bits-and-bobs that I cannot identify--from méches (a piece you attach to a drill, they come in many sizes...) to équerres--she will be able to make one of those organizational boards where we can hang all our tools! I can't wait to be able to see everything! To find a hammer and a nail when I need it!

Cords  chains old door
Before putting up the wonder board I've been wishing for, to organize all our tools, we made use of the back of the old door--arranging all the cords, wires, ropes, and chains there. Everthing by theme, everything in its place! Chaque chose à sa place.

As we begin the task of sorting through the rest, piling everything on top of the ping-pong table for easier viewing, dear Smokey appears, wagging his tail, and Jules is not far behind. Noticing all the activity, all the flourishing, Mom is full of praise:

"Cécile--we are never going to let you go!"

No way we're letting my belle-soeur go! Hors de question! I can think of a few more projects we could do together...plant a potato patch, make obelisks for the garden...oh, and we still need that pie crust recipe!

Speaking of tarts, having finished this story I'm now going to sneak down to the kitchen to see about the banana pie from last night. Bye just now and remember, work is good for the soul and pie tastes best after a good sweat. (Lots of sweating in writing...chiseling words from the brain is hard labor!)


    *    *    *
 
FRENCH VOCABULARY

le petit creux = the munchies, a little hunger
ça fait du bien de travailler = it feels good to work
la belle-soeur = sister-in-law, step-sister
une tarte = a tart 
...aux épinards = with spinach
...aux aspèrges = with asparagus
...aux fraises = with strawberries
la recette = recipe
mettre la main à la pâte = to join in, to pitch in
le machin-truc = thingamajig
chaque chose à sa place = everything in its place
une méche = drill bit (also a lock of wavy hair, which a drill bit resembles)
une équerre = flat angle bracket, shelf bracket
hors de question = out of the question

Reverse Dictionary
On the mend = en voie de guérison
to put off = remettre à  plus tard, repousser
Banana pie
Ouf! J'ai bien galéré. Whew! What a struggle today's post was from beginning to end--owing to a few technical glitches at the blog, which have all been sorted out. Now to sort out that banana pie! Bye-bye!

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue creating this French word journal and its newsletter, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site humming along, please know your donation makes all the difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
 
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Prenez soin de vous + Take care of your French with a dozen more words

MVIMG_20200416_123714
A gift from our guest: dried cyclamen, a ballet of expressive flowers!

Today's Expression: Prenez soin de vous

    : take care of yourself (plural: yourselves)

Audio file: Click here to listen to today's phrase in French and English


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
by Kristi Espinasse

Someone close to us, someone young and strong, had an accident--une chute while alone at home-- followed by a trip to ER for some points!

The emotional and physical scars are there, but our bien-aimé is here with us now and will stay in time to recover from the choc. Today's short entry is a reminder to you and me to continue to check in with those who are living alone. Which of our friends are on their own? Which family members? Which colleagues? Have you seen the post lady lately?

Big, strong, young? Grand, fort, jeune? Don't forget to check on these ones! Check on everyone. Self-check. Vérifie!

I am off to check on our guest, who somehow managed--between the ER and here--to pack a bunch of goodies for us to share at the table: gingembre, poireaux, citrons, oranges--les agrumes--which have since been added to soup and put into a simple cake. The house is now smelling spicey and delicious, a comfort to all. 

Thank you for reading these weekly chronicles and in-so-doing checking in on me! Be sure to prenez soin de vous. 

Amicalement,
Kristi

FRENCH VOCABULARY
une chute = a fall
points (point de suture) = stitches
le bien aimé = beloved, loved one
le choc = shock
grand = big
fort = strong
jeune = young
le gingembre = ginger
le poireau = leek
le citron = lemon
un agrume = citrus fruit
prenez soin de vous
amicalement = yours
Smokey April 23
Prenez soin de vous. Take care of yourself. Here in La Ciotat, we are drying out after 3 days of rain. The sun feels so good! 

Sunshine  hen  parasol

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue creating this French word journal and its newsletter, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site humming along, please know your donation makes all the difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
 
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Etonner and a big surprise on Easter morning

Garden april 2020
Our up-n-coming Victory Garden--where I hang out (and try to chill) when I'm not bossing everybody around... Read today's story and please share this French word journal with a friend. That's an order!

TODAY'S WORD: étonner

   : to surprise, amaze, astonish

Audio file: click here to listen to the following sentence
Les bonnes actions sont choses fort naturelles, et pourtant elles étonnent toujours. Good deeds are natural, nevertheless they always amaze us.
Adolphe d'Houdetot ; Dix épines pour une fleur (1853)

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

"The Bearded Easter Bunny"

Early Sunday morning I headed to the poulailler to feed our chickens. Now that we have 5 poules we are collecting around 4 eggs a day. (For weeks, Mama the white hen, has laid que dalle. That's French for zilch! But this doesn't stop her from going into her straw-filled nichoir, pretending to be productive. I know the feeling, Mama--the fear of what would happen if we quit producing, performing, or otherwise making use of ourselves. We fear we might somehow be dismissed, rejected! But we'll get to that later in our story. Or try to....

On my way out of the pen, I automatically lifted the hatch over Mama's nesting box and did a double-take. 

There, atop the fresh straw, were two giant oeufs...chocolate eggs! I stood beside the nesting box, experiencing a wave of emotion. Easter eggs... for me!

Hidden eggs
The chocolate eggs (one is actually a fish...)

This tender gesture was so unexpected, so humbling. A surprise gift...pour moi? After all, most times I am seen as the Sergeant around here. Spending my days, as I do, trying to keep everyone in line. What they don't understand, this family, these bandits young and old, is that all I want is for everyone to have what they need, and for everything to run smoothly....

Wash your hands, Max. Be safe in Miami, Jackie! Don't lick the jam jar, Jean-Marc!! Lock your door, Mom. Don't nap on the lettuce patch, Smokey!

I feel everything will fall apart (or be squished!) if I don't keep "our world" together. Having written that, I am reminded of the thought (put to words by French novelist and dean of the Académie française, Jean d'Ormesson):

Si étrange que ce puisse paraître, le Monde après nous continuera à tourner. Sans vous. Sans moi!

Indeed, strange as it may seem, the World after us will continue to spin. Without you. Without me!

May as well let go...
Looking at those delicate chocolate eggs, I began to relax, in time see and receive a hint of my family's unconditional love. I carefully collected the gift and returned to bed, where my coffee was waiting and the morning devotional* was open, ready for me to read to Jean-Marc.

"Somebody left a big surprise for me," I said.

"C'etait Max..." Jean-Marc replied.

Max? I had been certain it was somebody else, sure it was Mom who hid the eggs! I had not even considered our 24-year-old. And now my mind was filled with the scene of The Bearded Easter Bunny, sneaking out at night to hide the surprise.

What is it about an unexpected gift that so moves us? Could it be we feel unworthy or undeserving? And here we find ourselves beholding a most exquisite, symbolic gift wherein we--we nagging Casse-Bonbons, we Mean-Wells (if not always seen-wells), are reminded we are deeply loved and appreciated, warts and all.

It reminds me of redemption, which so happens to be the theme of the week. Joyeuses Pâques !

Amicalement,
Kristi

Max painting  in garden
The Bearded Easter Bunny enjoyed painting in the garden on Paques :-)

Related Stories:
=> Unfit Mother
=> Control Juice
=> Casse-bonbons
*Morning devotional: La Bonne Semence. The daily message is free and can be listened to via audio, in French, here. Excellent for your French, too!

FRENCH VOCABULARY

le poulailler = henhouse, chicken coop
la poule = chicken, hen
que dalle = zilch, nothing, nada
le nichoir = nesting box
les oeufs = plural  of oeuf, egg
Joyeuses Pâques = Happy Easter

Kristi in the pen with chickens and Smokey
With all 5 chickens and Smokey the lettuce crusher.

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue creating this French word journal and its newsletter, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site humming along, please know your donation makes all the difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
 
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