Olive Cake Recipe! Savory cakes and Cake aux Olives


Golden retriever puppy, body leash, car, travel (c) Kristin Espinasse,
Braise & Smokey's Excellent Adventure. While the kids, the husband, the mother-, brother-, sister-in-law and I visit Morocco (a trip two years in the making!), the rest of our furry family will be "séjouring" in Vaison la Romaine... Chez Ellen and Mark. Not sure if the Sullivan's will have time to update their blog... but you might check in just in case!

CONTRETEMPS (con-truh-tahn) noun, masculine
    : mishap, mischance
    : hitch; delay, inconvenience
    : syncopation (music) ... and see story, below, about " a shifting of the normal accent, usually by stressing the normally unaccented beats...." (

Expressions & Examples:
arriver à contretemps = to arrive at the wrong moment
jouer à contretemps
= to play out of time

Audio File: Listen to today's word and expressions:
Download Wave or Download MP3

A Day in a French Life...
by Kristin Espinasse

(Note: the following essay was written in December 2008)

The French word "contretemps" means, among other things, "a note played against the beat". I wonder whether that is why art means more and more to some of us lately, enough to dare us to put meaningless obligations aside in order to pursue creative activity (or "creativity"), and so make a swift turn, marching to another drum beat: our own.

Break apart the word "contretemps" and you get "against time" which explains why artists find it difficult to dabble in their division (you know, the art department). Who's got "temps" to sit quietly, waiting for the muse? And so we must make it (time and art): we shove a few things aside, allow the dust to build up, let the cat eat dog food, don't care about our hair... wear holes in our socks and dive into design when and where we can. If the muse is present, great!, if not, then ainsi soit-il!* Nothing's stopping us now.

Contretemps: Part Deux...
As commitments creep in, and you feel as though your plate were too full, duty dripping over at the sides, you might be tempted to invent a contretemps* in order to excuse yourself from the whirlwind. Who wants to be in a crowded, cacophonic room, when one's own soul-centering salon beckons? A reading lamp with a warm golden hue dancing beneath the dusty lampshade, a pile of favorite books, a jam jar full of colorful felt markers and a sketchbook by one's side... music musing in the background. When's the last time you were there, in that cozy chair?

Contretemps: Intermezzo
(We'll now take a break in the midst of this dilemma, its theme having to do, we think, with "art 'against time' or 'time against art'"--whether that be the art of writing, of painting, of singing... or simply the art of living...)

Contretemps: Conclusion
My mom* sent me a video the other day. "For Jackie and Max," her note said. I clicked open the link and found myself carried away by a quirky Canadian creator: a filmmaker, in all due respect. And I *do* respect the dues and bad days that an artist pays to get to such freedom. For isn't that the end result of art: when the viewer (reader, or listener) is liberated, from time and space? Off we fly, if not contre le vent,* then, somehow, "contre temps" and time's constraints.

I hope you'll enjoy these videos by Andrea Dorfman.* The thoughtful lyrics, by Tanya Davis,* which accompany the first video, will have you clicking the replay button again, and again.

Please forward this post to your favorite artist! Comments welcome -- click here. (Please don't forget to honor my Dad's request -- by listing your town! If you want to make my mom's day -- then add what the weather is like today, in your area :-)

ainsi soit-il
= so be it; un contretemps (m) = an unexpected circumstance (preventing one from making it to an appointment, etc...); my mom = Jules, aka Mama Jules; contre le vent = against the wind

Sponsor an edition of French Word-A-Day. Contact Kristin!

In Gifts and more...

La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange: The Original Companion for French Home Cooking.

Words in a french life Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love & Language

In French music: ZEN by Zazie!   

French for Kids: Learn French (DVD)  

French film: La Vie en Rose

sacoche, Jean-Marc, winemaker, Paris, France (c) Kristin Espinasse
Speaking of artists... here is one that creates wine! (That's my husband, pedaling his portfolio in Paris. Won't you buy his wine ... for Thanksgiving?)

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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Dear Smokey & Braise

Please stay out of trouble when mom and dad (the two legged ones) are away. When I come back from sometimes months of things in life that keep me away from visiting this blog, the story of the week is about doggies gone missing or this time puppy attacked, or once, skate boarding adventures ending in the ER. Ok, last one can't be pinned on you. All with happy endings, thank heavens.
So please please little ones, I beg you to stay safe.
xoxo- Barb

Fred Caswell

To Kristin's dad -- you must be as proud of Kristi as her mom is.

It rained beaucoup last night here in Middletown, RI. Now the sky is overcast, humidity rather high, and the indoor-outdoor thermometer in the kitchen reads 63 degrees F (outside) at 9:40am. The clock showing time on our old computer is way off.

To "Jewels", thanks for your advice on public speaking given to Kristi. I have had enough experience speaking before groups of varied sizes but was struggling with content for a talk in church; your coaching allowed me to overcome the problems, have fun, and get some laughs from the congregation in church. Many positive comments followed.


As requested:
Centreville, MD USA Cloudy, drizzly 59o F

Norma Gosling

I live in Barjac, in Languedoc Roussillon, France, and the weather here today is mild and sunny, about 19C
(don't know what that is in F)

Jules Greer

Good Morning to all of my Darling Friends at


With Kristi out of the vineyard we call all
go wild with our comments. First of all I must say I felt this post was particurily (sp) poetic...sometimes her posts seem to sing a melody, and today I felt her beat. I'll be back later with more comments, their are so many thoughts blasting around in my mind after todays - I must paint Jean-Marc walking down that Paris
street with all of his briefcases. Also another idea which came to me as I was reading Kristi's post - why don't we do a calendar of Jean-Marc and ROUGE-BLEU ??? I can instantly think of quite a few photo's she has posted in the past of him that take my breath away --- does anyone remember the one of him standing in front of the tractor covered with (I think sulfer) some kind of grey dust, and the tractor is totally covered too. What a moment in time. Then of course there was "THE KISS" I was thrilled when Kristi posted such an intimate and sweet kiss between them. Back Later,

Fresh breeze from the ocean here in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico -- 75 degrees at 8:30 a.m.



Ryan Breithaupt

Hi Kristin!
Have fun in Morocco. Do you guys have a hook-up for your wine in Canada? I would definitely buy it and spread the word. The liquor board in the province of Québec is called the SAQ (Société des alcools du Québec, I believe) and they sell lots of artisanal wine so you guys should try approaching them.

As for your pops, I live in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, bien sûr !

And for your moms, Jules, the temp here is cool, 7-9 degrees Celcius and windy. But this weekend it's supposed to go up to 17 degrees Celcius! Woo-hoo! Vive the Indian summer.


Bon matin! Il neige ici - en Edmonton, Alberta - mais il n'est pas froid.

Thanks, Kristin, for your inspiring words. I would like to experience more 'contretemps' in order to puruse artistic abilities. Unfortunately... I have a job and that takes up beaucoup de temps :(

p.s. I love the puppy stories. I nearly cried at Smokey's attack. I hope he is doing well.

Jean Lillibridge

Kristi: I read and enjoy your writings so much. I also was married to a Frenchman when I was young and lived in France 5 years. My daughter Chantal also enjoys you and she visits France every year. Jean in Shreveport, LA. 9 am temperature is 62 degrees and dry after weeks of rain.


Ici à Washington (D.C.) il pleut et fait gris, mais les feuilles sont tellement jolies! Je regarde par les fenêtres de ma salle de classe et je vois un "v" d'oies candaiennes qui volent au-dessus des arbres aux feuilles cramoisies, jaunes, rouge foncé, orange...


Kansas City - A little cold 54 and sunny!


Dear Kristin and Family:

I can't wait to read about your travels in Morocco upon your return. One of my favorites places to visit, and the best food ever.
Hollywood, Florida (USA)
Hot, Hot & Hot with some humidity


Dallas,Texas It is sunny and nice. The high will be 72F.

Diana Taylor, Pug At The Beach

I love this video on art. It's really all about what's in the art and how we choose to express that. I found these things around my town of Delray Beach, Florida, USA and posed the question ~ is this art? See the images here:

Debbie T. C.

Hi Jules and Kristi's dad :)
Murfreesboro, Tennessee, it is overcast, humid and 55 degrees today. Leaves are starting to turn brilliant colors.

Artist in Tennessee


BRRR in Boise, Idaho! It is 33F here this morning, clear as a bell... beautiful blue skies with golden, red & purple leaves left on SOME of the trees. Oui, l'hiver est arrivé !!! My brother arrives today from Phoenix - won't he be surprised at the temps?

Have a grand time in Morocco! Jacki

p.s. - could not find the video link...


HI Kristin and family (furry ones too,)

Have a wonderful adventure!
I loved the video! Are you taking any paints along? I will be looking forward to your stories painted with the words you use SO well and photos too.
I am in Montecito Ca (next to Santa Barbara)
Its cold relatively speaking and windy but will most likely be hot for a few hours later on today. The seasons are changing and it is a really beautiful time of year here. The tides have been super high.
I try to put paint brush to paper everyday ..early morning seems to be the best time or very late at night..
AND as a matter of fact we're taking a drive to LA to buy some of Jean Marc wine on Saturday!! Yipee!

Lots of Love,


Amusez-vous bien au Maroc ! Chouette ! (Et soyez sages, les chiens !)
Ici en Caroline du Nord il fera environ 70 sous un ciel bleu et ensoleille. :-)

Betty Bailey

I, too, love Kristin's word pictures and hope she will never stop "painting" for us.
I am here in the Dallas area of Texas, in a beautiful are, with many parks and lovely creeks flowing through.
Our morning temperature right now is 57 degrees.

Merrie Dail, Annapolis, MD

Have been a reader for a couple years, enjoying Kristin's stories and mostly letting others comment. An engaging way to learn new words and phrases. While my 3 yr old grandson proudly announces, 'I only speak French with Nana', I am far less brazen about my abilities...

Fred Caswell - I used to race Cape Cods out of Pt. Judith Yacht Club in the late fifties / early sixties with Jeff Caswell. Are you related to him / Caswells of Wakefield? Newport is a yearly summer pilgrimage to walk down memory lane with daughter/sister/daughter-in-law. My retired naval aviator husband and I are tucked away in Annapolis, MD

Jules - you have a lovely daughter. I escaped to Paris and Provence a couple of years ago when my daughter was studying in Lacoste. Tease her and beau they should return there when upon finishing grad school to give me a reason to continually visit. My husband did make her promise to accompany me there as a graduation gift (for whom we might ask); I have tried to raise grapes for several years and suspect he is concerned I might purchase a 'grape farm' and never return.

On morning walk with dogs, encountered multicolored leaves spinning toward the ground and squirrels scurrying everywhere; warm low sixties and rain finally moved to east.


Lovely video...we live in Pasadena, CA. It is windy, cool, and clear here. Actually very windy so much so that it broke a huge pine tree on my street. Lovely weather and hope yours is too. I hope you have a great time in Morocco.



It's day TWO of rain, rain, rain in NYC!! Chilly, but not too cold and not too I really shouldn't complain. It's a day that makes me want to take a break and escape the city rush to find creative time...


Here in central New Jersey it's cold and rainy, but the good news is that it's only another 311 days until we're back "en Provence."

Bill Facker

And Smokey lives!
And Smokey thrives!
And one day, far into the future, an older and wiser Smokey will gaze at those tormentors who maimed him .. as they bark in pathetic tones reserved only for those who have done nothing in life to warrant the strong voice of pride. Poor Babies ... no one cried for them when they were hurt. "Come on, Smoke!" is the last phrase they will hear as Jean-Marc, Kristin, and their Golden Friend round' the corner. Poor Babies.

Kauai - Weather? Once every ten years or so a big wind blows through ... followed by ten more years of perfection. Today is perfect! Aloha everyone!

Bill Facker

P.S. I forgot to comment on the video - EXCELLENT! Mahalo Nui Loa for sharing your creativity!


Içi, au mileau d'Angleterre il fait 19C, très chaus pour nous à cette époque.

Jacqui McCargar

It is a balmy 49 degrees here in Sunny, Breezy Santa Rosa, Ca. Very glad to see that Smokey is doing better. I hope to see him next year when he's all grown up. Bonne Vacance Kristi et Jean-Marc!

Marianne Rankin

That's a great photo of Braise and Smokey at the top of today's FWAD.

At the bottom, in the picture of Jean-Marc, what is he wearing? Looks like a skirt over the jeans.

Kristin, as your French continues to perfect itself, your English loses none of its flair. What a great phrase: "Duty dripping over at the sides."

For your dad: I live in University Park, MD, a few miles from Washington, D.C.

For your mom: The weather was pretty and sunny earlier today, with autumn leaves at their peak of color. Now it is overcast and may rain.

For the family: I lived in Morocco for a year when I was four years old, and still remember a bit of it. I hope you enjoy your trip. Will this be during a school break?

Braise and Smokey: seems you are getting back to normal, and we are all glad.

Bill en Libye

Such a great blog! I think I am in my third year of reading sporadically, although the last year has been daily (thrice weekly) and it just gets better. I have enjoyed meeting Jules (on this blog), amongst all you other francophiles. And the dogs! I would love to try some domain rouge bleu, but cant get it til I go home in the summer. I live and teach in the great Libyan Jamahiriya, near Tripoli. Has been very rainy last two days but looks like it will clear for the weekend and be around 20-27 celcius; in the seventies, fahrenheit.

nadine goodban

Kristin, Où donc irez-vous au Maroc? J'y suis née et pourrais vous passer quelques tuyaux ... C'est vraiment un beau pays, très hospitalier, où vous serez tentée de faire beaucoup d'achats !!! poteries, vêtements et objets de cuir, cuivres, tapis, souvenirs de toutes sortes, etc., etc... Et la nourriture, quel régal!
Très bon voyage !
nadine, Vallejo, Californie, où il fait bon vivre.

Marion, Vieille Dame de San Francisco

Kristan and Family, I have been heartbroken about the injuries Smoky suffered. I hope he will overcome them. I too suffered injuries when I tumbled onto my stone patio three weeks ago, so we are recuperating together -- though far apart.
I live on the Peninsula south of San Francisco, where it is sunny with a cold breeze. Have a lovely time in Morocco.


I hope that pretty, bright bleu harness has Smokey's name & your cell phone number (as well as temporary info with Ellen & Mark's apt address & phone number) on it...and that Braise's collar has the same. I don't think any of us could emotionally handle any more "adventures" at this time. And looking at the older posts on Ellen & Mark's blog; their apt is pretty tiny so they'll have to walk the dogs frequently.

I haven't posted any comments to the FWAD posts lately, because I've been going through quite a lot of turmoil myself.

I spent all of the month of August & half of September living in my travel trailer in Vancouver, Washington, while attending to my 91-year-old father who was dying of a scalp/head cancer that suddenly became very aggressive after years of lying dormant. It was a roller coaster month and very emotionally & physically draining. The good news is that he had no pain at any time and was cognizant up until the very last so we could share our love for each other and come to terms with what was happening. The bad news is that the tumor in his head metastasized to his brain and was pressing on his speech centers & affecting his balance and his ability to use his right hand. He was somewhat ambidextrous so could continue to do some things with his left hand, but could no longer talk or walk, or write well enough for us to recognize what he was trying to it was frustrating for all of us, to say the least. He was in & out of the hospital every week and nearly died a couple times during August, before passing away on Sept. 14th.

During that time in Vancouver, I often went to the French Word-A-Day website to take my mind off things with a little R & R, reading about the antics of the puppies and the daily events of your life there.

Then in October, back home in Keizer, Oregon...I was trying to get caught up on my life and finish taking care of my dad's final affairs, when my cousin from Vancouver called to tell me that her husband (of nearly 50 years) had died on October 15th. I felt so sorry for her because she had been the main person helping my dad over the last several years & he had stayed at her home in June while recovering from what was a grueling and ultimately "unsuccessful" surgery of his main head tumor...all the while trying to take care of her husband, who was one of the longest living heart transplant patients (23 years).

I was trying to process all these events when I went to the FWAD website on October 19th and saw poor little Smokey's stapled face and read of the gruesome attack (I'm so glad you told everyone that he was okay, right at the beginning of that post). I am so "simpatico" with dogs (I took my two elderly Bichon Frisé girls with me to Vancouver for company & the comfort they always bring me) that Smokey's ordeal and the picture of Braise barking & crying over him just tore at my heart...I started crying as I was thinking "Oh my...will these bad things never stop happening."

I have been so relieved to hear of Smokey's recovery.

Ellen & Mark look like they are accustomed to dogs and I know they will take especially good care of Braise & Smokey. But...please...tell me you remembered to put extra "labeling" on their collar/harness so everyone will know how to quickly get a hold of you should they decide (Heaven Forbid!) to go exploring in Vaison la Romaine.

D'Neal in Keizer, Oregon
where the weather is "a look'in like rain & cloudy in the West."

P.S. - I agree with your mom...Braise introduced you to the love of dogs, but Smokey is your "heart" dog (or what I call a "soul puppy"). My first Bichon was my "soul puppy."

(sorry for such a lengthy post)

Christine Jackson

I love this picture - so sweet!

Bon Voyage au Maroc!

Best, Christine in Salt Lake City, getting cold tonight (hoping the tomates don't freeze!)

Jennifer in OR

Great art post. And I love the final photo of Jean-Marc, that is classic. 39 degrees F in Central Oregon.

Evelyn Jackson

Looks like Smokey is recovering nicely...
It's thundering and rainy here in St. Charles, IA. Kind of weird weather for this time of year. I have a case of Jean-Marc's Mistral on hold over in Iowa City and once I catch my breath from my travels, I'll zip over there and pick it up. Have a great time in Morocco.

Jules Greer

My Dearest D'Neal in Keizer, Oregon,

Thank you for your post, I just read it first thing this morning and I want you to know how touched I am that you would share your story with us. Thank you for saying that Kristi's blog helped you take your mind away from your pain while you tended to your Dad. As you probably remember my Mom passed away last Feburary and I couldn't have survived if I hadn't had all the love I received from Kristi's readers here - because of Kristi's post at the time her faithful readers sent me over three hundred virtual boquets (sp) of flowers from all over the world for my Mom. Each day as I lay in bed mourning I would re-read each special collection of thoughts and flowers from everyone - I cannot put into the words the comfort I received from going to the flowers each day. I still go back to the flowers on difficult days and I am sure I will be there next Feburary 22nd.

I'm sure alot of people were touched by your story and have already placed you in their heart for special strength and healing of your heart. We are always here in the comment box, and I send you my love and I know they are doing the same.

I love your thought about Smokey - Kristi's soul put my thoughts into beautiful words.

My Love To You...


JULES - Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Pat Cargill

Chere K, "happy trails to you and yours" as you vacation in Morocco. How exciting/exoctic - sounding. Lovely photo of Braise and le pauvre puppy Smokey, such a dear brave one who is healing and has so much love surrounding him from all over the World! No wanderings in strange places you fine four-footeds. "Be good!"

We are vacationing in Charleston, SC, this week, where today's weather has been perfectly beautiful, 70's w/crystal blue skies, ocean waves pounding the shore off Isle of Palms. Enjoyed Sun Salutations on the beach this a.m. as the sun rose through brilliant blues and pinks and oranges of the eastern horizon skies. Finished with a transporting Shivasana, splayed out on the quiet beach, until someone inquired: "Madame, are you all right?" (Managed a mumbled "yes." It is nice to know someone voices their concern!)

Dunno what the weather is at home in Roanoke...too late to look this evening.

To all who are healing in body, mind and spirit, who have voiced the rigors of the journey: I wish you peace and healing; you are remembered.

Pauline Lowe

Love the photo of Braise and Smokey, the tribulations of the past seem to be forgotten. Will you ever export your wines to Australia?
A lovely 36 degrees C today in Adelaide.
Je vous souhaite un sejour agreable au Maroc.


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