Wednesday, November 16, 2016

La nature est bien faite

This morning was a rough one, the girls frayed my nerves after an early, cranky wake up call. They weren't grouchy for any particular reason (that I am aware of), it was just one of those days. After I finally wrangled them up, walked them to daycare, kissed them goodbye, and started walking home, a handful of emotions swept over me. Relief at having some time to get some things done around the house, then sadness-as much as I value my precious free time- it's always hard to say goodbye to those chubby, innocent faces. And then guilt for having left them. Mom guilt always has a way of rearing its ugly head, and it's not easy to just ignore.

In France, you often hear the expression, "la nature est bien faite" literally translating to "nature is well made," and roughly meaning "nature finds a way." When I was pregnant with twins, many people asked how I was "going to fit two in there." And my typical response was "la nature est bien faite." I like this optimistic saying and how it briefly describes the wondrous suprises of natural phemonena. You can say it if you see a plant sprouting, seemingly from out of nowhere, on the side of a brick building, or even if you've ever drunk lemon and honey tea for a sore throat, for example.

So as I was walking home, feeling a wave of guilt for having left my two little angels, who were behaving quite devilishly, for the day, I was reminded of this useful phrase, "la nature est bien faite." The Mom guilt didn't totally wash away, but it did rinse out a bit as I wondered if they might have both appreciated the diversion of daycare and new faces, as I needed a break from them and time to organize things at home without distractions. So that through the brief separation, nature will have found its way and we'll all be in better spirits this afternoon.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Free play

This year, vineyard work is out of the question. I've spent a few afternoons pruning, but my growing belly now prevents me from bending down too much, so I've got plenty of free time this spring. 

The growing girls renting out my belly have made it difficult to dress myself, so to avoid having to find something to wear before leaving the house, I've been opting to not leave the house as frequently as is socially acceptable.

We're moving to a more spacious apartment which permits the luxury of a dishwasher and a few extra rooms in a few weeks, but I haven't gotten around to packing, yet. Instead, I've been doing more useful things like making collages while listening to archived podcasts of the Ricky Gervais Show. 

Here's what I've come up with:

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Friday, April 18, 2014

Joyeux anniversaire

Yesterday, April 17th, was Jean Louis', my incredible father- in- law's, 70th birthday. He had prepared a few snacks for the aperitif and we popped a bottle of Champagne to celebrate..and with dinner a really nice Aloxe-Corton. For such a milestone year, it was very low-key with just 4 of us, but that's only because he's going to have a blow-out weekend with his brothers and sisters and friends in a few weeks. When I say blow-out, I'm not kidding, he's reserved a private room at a fancy restaurant and has been meeting with the chef to come up with the perfect menu for his official celebration. 

Of course, it being his birthday didn't stop Jean Louis from cooking a fantastic dinner. Among answering all the phone calls from all over France, he managed to prepare ratatouille and roasted duck for dinner. I've had Jean Louis' famous ratatouille many, many times, and I noticed yesterday it tasted different. It was SPICY! I, of course, commented on the fact and Jean Louis said that he did it for me, using the packet of Fiesta taco seasoning that I had left at their house. I thought it was a very sweet gesture, it wasn't my birthday after all, but I also think that being nice to me wasn't his only motivation. I'm convinced that Jean Louis is a spice/Tex-Mex convert! If you look at the food in the picture, you might notice a jar of salsa in the middle and the guacamole toasts. While I'm very pleased that Tex-Mex empire is expanding, it's even more exciting to see proof that it's never too late to try new things.

Friday, April 4, 2014

French paradox

Why, in one of the most well-fed countries in the world, are so many people eating at the Golden Arches? Why, in a land where farmers' markets aren't a trend, but a tradition, are there 10 McDonald's within 25 minutes of my house? It seems highly contradictory to all of the ancestral codes and reverence paid to the sacred family dining table. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The same, but different

It’s not news that the French are ardent protectors of the French language. L’Académie Française, one of the defending entities, was established in 1634 with a mission " work with all the care and all possible diligence to give certain rules to our language and make it pure, eloquent and capable of handling the arts and sciences." The Academy sets up the rules governing dictionary entries, grammar, literature and poetry as well as staunchly, in some cases controversially, preventing English words from entering the vocabulary. For example, in 1990 brainstorming became remue-ménages (literally translating to stir the brain membrane) and in 2011, hashtag became mot-dièse (literally meaning hash symbol word.)

This is totally reasonable given French is a pretty darn hard language to master and there are only 40 members (of 65 million French residents) in L’Académie Française. If I was an expert of French linguistics, grammar, literature and etymology, I, too, would do everything in my power to preserve the language out of fear of getting fired for letting another English word slip into the French lexicon. What an embarrassment that would be!

In relatively recent years, it seems there have been some slackers in L’Academie since a few English words have become commonplace in France, albeit with a slightly different meaning.

Here are the terms and their French meanings:

Parking (noun, masc.): Parking Lot. Because it’s a word often used, I’ll admit to sometimes saying it in English. Is there a parking?

Speed (adj): Someone who is energetic or hyper; to be rushed or stressed.

Mail (noun, masc.): An email. Technically there is a French word created by L’Académie Française –courrier électronique- but it’s not often used.

Playback (noun, masc.): Lip Syncing. This one really threw me off the first few times I heard it. To me, it sounds less Britney Spears and more ESPN.

Camping (noun, masc.): A campsite or campground. Forget rustic weekends in the great outdoors, campings in France are something to experience. Just watch the aptly-titled film ‘Camping’ and you’ll get it.

Fashion (adj): Fashionable, trendy. When my adorable niece Victoria was between 3-8 years old, everything she deemed cute or cool was ‘so fashion.’ I think of this everytime it comes from a French person.

People (adj. or noun, masc.): famous, trendy; celebrity. Can be used in singular or plural form. Real magazine headline “Le président de la République est-il un people comme les autres?= Is the President of the Republic a celebrity like the others?’  Another headline “Tout les actualités people” = All the celebrity news.
Babyfoot (noun, masc.): Foosball. I’m guessing it’s football for babies, its cuteness has won me over.
Jean (noun, masc.): Jeans. It’s singular in French.
Has-been (adj): In French it’s used like this, ‘He’s so has-been.’
Pressing (noun, masc.): Dry Cleaners; the dry cleaning.
Talkie-Walkie (noun, masc.): Walkie-Talkie. Confusing for me and increasingly harder to remember which is used in English, and which in French.
Tube (noun, masc.): Hit song. Maybe someone wanted to say ‘tune’ but had a cold, and it just spread like wildfire thereafter.
Week-end (noun, masc.): Weekend. This is one that traverses all languages.