audio, cars, French

Parlez-vous français?  Oui, in my car

That’s dans ma voiture by the way. A while back, I wrote how I am listening to audiobooks on my commute to work. Now, I am using that time to relearn French.

Why French? Well, I took it for seven years when I was a kid starting in seventh grade. I recall reading some heavy-duty French lit in high school, but I didn’t get to be truly fluent until I went to Paris when I was a college student. I will cut to the chase, but my curiosity about the Seine got me into a sticky situation with a man I met, and I was suddenly fluent enough to rescue myself. Then, I used that skill to get me through Europe for a couple of months.

But after that, I didn’t have an opportunity to use French, and so it sunk into my subconscious.

Well, until now.

Ella, my 7-year-old granddaughter, is in her second year in a French immersion program at her elementary school. When she spoke with me in French, I realize how rusty I was. (Her mother, my daughter, Emily, is taking a French course as well.)

Wouldn’t it be fun to converse in French with my smart granddaughter? Mais, oui.

So, I found a course on Audible. “Learn French for Beginners” with Paul Noble , who takes those listening through the paces for 12 hours and 38 minutes. A native-speaking French expert assists with pronunciation.

(I am excited that he has advanced courses in French on Audible, plus basics in many other languages.)

So, at the start of my 15-20-minute trip, I plug in my ear buds and use the app on my phone.

Right now, we are on the so-called language ground rules. We build sentences, and many seem appropriate if I was a traveler in a French-speaking country. It certainly wasn’t that way when I originally learned the language.

So how is going? Frankly, I surprise myself how much I recall, that the French language is indeed inside me. The words and phrases roll off the tongue. If I run into a complicated lesson, I back track and go over it again. Paul Noble says that’s fine. He is a reassuring teacher, urging his students not to worry. He says it will all make sense when we reach the end.

But my first test will be coming soon when I visit Ella later this month. Or rather …. Je vais visiter Ella.

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: A snapshot of me in Paris a long time ago. Sorry, it’s very small photo.

THANKS: I am thankful for the readers who have bought my books and even given reviews. Here’s a link to my books in case you are curious: Joan Livingston books on Amazon.








cars, Taos

My Trusty Subaru

We have had a spate of snowy weather in Northern New Mexico — three storms in five days. Those predicted one-inchers turned into multi-inchers, especially closer the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Road conditions can get iffy here. That’s when I take the Subaru.

The Subaru, a 2003 Impreza we’ve owned since zero miles, doesn’t have a name although it should. Until the past couple of years, she (alright the car has a gender) was my constant companion on the road through good weather and some really awful weather.


The snowy scene this morning across the arroyo to my neighbor’s home.

When I worked back East, I had a 40-minute commute from a hilltown in Western Massachusetts to a newsroom in Northampton. My trip took me on a state-numbered route through three small towns. It included two serious hills — in West Chesterfield and Williamsburg — and a number of curves. The highway crews were diligent as they could be but they had a lot of miles to cover.

With three buckets of sand in the back for ballast, my trusty Subaru got me through freezing rain, ice storms, and snowstorms of varying depths.

I recall one early morning being stopped on the top of Burgy Hill by a cop who noted the highway crew was just getting there. It was black ice all the way to the bottom so I should take it slow. We sure did.

One April 1, a heavy, wet storm got past the weather forecasters. I left work early and my Subaru had to maneuver around a jackknifed tractor-trailer going up Burgy Hill. But I made it home through the cement-like snow.

These days, Hank drives the Subaru. It is the first vehicle for him that isn’t a truck or van. I got the Prius, which is heavier and does OK in the snow because it’s front-wheel drive — and is a helluva lot better on gas.

The Subaru now has 137,000 miles. Her black paint has suffered in this Northern New Mexico sun. The radio stopped working and the driver’s door lock is getting a bit funky. She got a tick in the engine no mechanic could figure how to fix a 100,000 miles ago. But she’s taken Hank twice across country and once to Vegas. When she gets going, she’s a smooth ride. She’s also got great visibility and a champ of a heater.

She’s also a dependable ride.

And so Wednesday morning she made my choice easy. I left the fancy schmancy Prius home and took the Subaru to work. I did the same at 6:30 a.m. on Friday. We already had a couple of inches on the roads. And, I felt like an old friend had come along for the ride.

PHOTO ABOVE: There she is in the newsroom’s parking lot.