jamais deux sans trois


Cat and Calvary (c) Kristin Espinasse
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Today's Word from French Word of the Day: the blog and FREE emailed newsletter :

insolite (ahn-so-leet) adjective

    : unusual, out of the ordinary

Insolite is also a noun, as in "aimer l'insolite" (to like the unusual).

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

"Heaven Bent"

What attracts my eye, in photography, is that which tickles the mind to see: the unusual, the whimsical, the eccentric and extravagant... might even say "all things heaven bent"...

I enjoy that which is "quirky" though I do not fancy the word "quirk" (perhaps because it rhymes with jerk and smirk and, especially, beurk! and, come to think of it, homework).

I like the wonder that whimsy causes—
as it stops us in our tracks... catches our eyes and draws us.

 Garde Manger (c) Kristin Espinasse

DSC_0032 A sack of patates hanging in a window sill
some leeks, and oranges, and daffodils.
Just like that my havocked heart hushes, 
and in new-found calm I walk on.

My soul no longer scattered
in an uruly tent
I have the chance to fasten my eye
upon all things heaven bent.


De Bouche à Oreille
Please share this story with a friend who loves photos, cats, France... Forward this edition or send along the link to French Word-A-Day. Also: thank you for sharing your comments.

 Cat and Calvary (c) Kristin Espinasse

French Vocabulary and Audio File: listen to Jean-Marc pronounce these French words: Download MP3 or WAV

J'aime les fenêtres insolites: les sujets inattendus comme les chats et les croix pendues.
I love unusual windows: with unexpected subjects like cats and hanging crosses.

Speaking Bettery Frenchinsolite = out of the ordinary
beurk! = yuck!
une patate (f) = potato, spud
de bouche à oreille
= by word of mouth

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I share your interest in the insolite! nice word. Your windows and doors are always artful and fascinating. I was in Chicago this weekend and forgot the chip for my camera - had the camera! I saw lots of great art deco doors. Next time. It was too cold for photos anyway - 9!!

Leslie in Massachusetts

Insolite is one of my favorite words. And I love the way you slip from prose into poetry. Poetry is a form that suits your style, you make such interesting word choices and rhythms, all the time making it look easy and casual. I love the cat, with the faraway expression and the decidedly insolite placement of the crucifix, as well as the lovely colors and textures of the photograph. Gorgeous! A treat for a cold and sunny Monday morning.

Aubrey in Florida

Wonderful! I greatly enjoy your posts and always forward them to my fellow Francophiles. You have great style, thanks for sharing with all of us. Have a happy day!

Annette Heath

What a wonderful photo to express "insolite". How I'd love to meet the person who lives inside the house. I have a love of cats, and this one is adorable. The Crucifix touched my heart. It made me think of my French Grandparents who went to Mass everyday.I have some of her religious items that were made in France, so dear to my heart. My Meme might have done something insolite, like put a Crucifix sur la fenetre.

Jules Greer

Beautiful as always Kristi - It's a good thing you posted a second photo of the cat, I missed it in the first photo. I must be
getting old. XOXO - MOM


I love this post- the crucifix juxtaposed w/ the crumbly fenetre. I like you, Jules, didn't notice the cat until later. But what a watchful surprise.

Pat Cargill

I love all things "insolite" perhaps the more-so, the better. As in certain women who ignoring the rules will present themselves in quirky and interesting modes of dress. Chapeaux are a good way to do this. By fixing a single adornment thereon, one can be lifted in a touch of whimsey. Inspiring, as is your post today. Must be that "insolite" is the root of insolence. Often it is all in the way we look at things that causes us to be either appreciative or appalled. Insolite is so much more fun!


Ah ha, so that is the secret to your wonderful photos. I will start looking for the insolite when i have my camera.

Can't wait to see your photos from the Luberon and Pernes


The cat, like Mme Alberte, is at the window, ready to see what delights the day will bring her!

Perhaps the crucifix on the window represents the way the person inside tries to view life--through God's eyes.

I love your pictures of windows, doors, and old walls, Kristin. Those have always been some of favorite subjects to photograph, too. They are so rich in history and character.

Enneigee in North Carolina - no school today!

Ali Herron

Wow, that was beautiful!!! I just lOVED your poetry!! And the word is a wonderful one to know. Mille Merci...


Lovely post and kitty, and of course I will pass along! Have a great first week of Fevrier!


joie  carmel,ca

Another "window" speciality. Love it as always. Photos of Pernes-de-la-Fontaine??? I was there and walked the village and counted every fountain....just delightful. There was also a school bbq/craft/food money raiser that we happened upon and were invited to many memories.

joie  carmel,ca

I recently passed on your blog to about 5 friends. I sent them the one with you and Smokey making the lentil soup. I laugh so much at that one. One of my friends is from Algeria and says her French is suffering these days. Another from Paris and the remaining lovers of the French way of life.

Stacy, Applegate, Oregon

Heaven bent indeed---beautiful, Kristi!

I love the title, subject matter, story and your lead photo. Though I missed that precious cat at first glance. Your writing, which has settled in to a lovely state of Grace, touches my heart.

Eileen deCamp

Ok, I am the third person who missed the cat in the first picture! Great post Kristin! I love to say "insolite"... fun word!

Kathryn Gower

I love your picture and I am looking forward to checking out your photo blog

Ellen Sue Pilger

I am returning from some time away from home and have just spent hours relishing 6 separate journal entries. I re-read the conversation with the sunflower in the window several times. "Open your eyes, your very own lense, and you will see love... if you pay attention." What a profound way to live one's life (in the moment as Robert Haine shared), "dicovering something about myself" (as Candy shared.) Thanks to all of you.

May I also add a potatoe appetizer to the collection of recipes. It caught my attention at a holiday party in December. Tiny red potatoes cooked whole in the skin were cut in half and served cold with a sprig of dill and a dab of caviar (or tapenade or pesto can be used instead.) They were so pretty and tasty.

We missed the rain entirely while away from Santa Barbara but our fruit trees are singing Horray !!

Susan Souza

I love your photos and comments, we were in the south of France a couple of years ago and have many photos of cats and dogs in windows. They seem to pose for a photo. I hopefully will return and use your blog and books as my guides. Thank you

Karen from Phoenix, AZ

I too missed the cat in the window.

How funny is that, three of us missed the cat. Our eyes were attached to the cross, thinking that was what was heaven sent
A second look gave us a surprise, two beautiful eyes

Thanks again Kristi for a beautiful post.

Karen Whitcome

Vive l'insolite and all things heaven bent!! Beautiful words, Kristin.

Suzanne, Monroe Township, NJ

Insolite! Thank you for this word. The photo of the cat is wonderful. When traveling one often runs into interesting juxtapositions. One of my favorites was in the town of Conwy, Wales. In a shop windows near the castle we spotted a sign that read "Faxes and Funerals."

Fred Caswell

Some friendships are out of the ordinary, crossing faux barriers like age, gender, color of skin, education, faith, and wealth; the latter being erased by friendships no amount of money can or could buy or replace.

I hope this comment gets through the unpredictable passageways of the web as once again my previous one, en francais, was initially rejected.

Comme toujours!


In the middle of my screen, I first saw

deux solides barreaux rouillés
2 sturdy rusty bars

une fenêtre à peine entr'ouverte
a window, slightly ajar

un chat rêveur derrière le carreau
a dreamy cat behind the window

et..., en plein centre de la fenêtre, une petite croix
and..., right in the centre of the window, a little cross ...

Another look at the first photo, a bit closer, and closer ... Now, my eyes can only see “un enchevêtrement d'angles droits” ( a crisscrossing of right angles) in dark plum and white colours - the most eminent right angles being the one made by the green enamel Cross itself, right in the middle, and the one made by the crucified God nailed to it.

Well, some people in the town of Caromb offer a plastic sunflower to the passers-by, but here, somewhere in the Lubéron, somebody is offering a cross, made of fine and colourful enamel, solidly nailed to the centre of their window frame and appearing between 2 white parallel bars covered with rust.

In the towns and villages Kristin invites us to disvover, via her Newsletters & Cinéma Vérité, we've seen little statues inside niches on the outside walls of some old houses. They reveal a traditional sense of devotion & protection, but, I never felt the 'saint-in-a-niche' pictures were whimsical or eccentric!
Here, we have 2 photos of a picturesque 'window scene', with a religious display occupying the centre of it, so what makes that window-scene so whimsical? a cat and a cross appear together, on each side of a tiny old “guarded” window - the feline and the divine, under a rather crumbling 'heaven' above.

For the people who own the cat - and nailed the cross to the centre of their window frame, for their friends and neighbours, I suppose the togetherness of the scene belongs to the 'ordinary'... but, for the weekenders and holidaymakers who keep their eyes open, and for the photographers who keep their lenses ready to catch and frame any “scène insolite”, this is an extra-ordinary reward!

Lucky us, FWAD readers!
A big thanks to you, Kristin, for sharing your latest “image insolite” with all of us.


Hi Kristin,

My previous "big thanks" to you = at least... MILLE mercis!

Now, I would like to report a technical detail that has become quite "insolite", Aaahaah! I'm wondering whether the bizarre phenomena is only affecting me, or everyone else.

Usually, clicking on a photo isolates the picture and enlarges it on the top left handside of my screen. This time, when I click on a photo, surprise, surprise.... This is what I get (I copied the top part of what I get - here is the pasting below, in between the dotted lines):

« la lunette | Main | embêter »
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Cinema Verite

Photos from a French Life...

Hmmmmmm... ???

Karen (Towson, Maryland USA)

Yes that happens to me also, Newforest. I assumed that it was because it was a photo from a previous post.

The technical detail that I am having is that my comment won't post unless I fill in my name and email address. But that may have been because I cleaned up my cache and cookies recently.

Candy in SW KS

With the words of our dear Kristin and those of my precious "new friend", Newforest, I am overwhelmed with how an alphabet of only 26 letters can be used to touch the hearts of so many. Just as I am always amazed at how a mere 13 notes have been used for milleniums to enchante us with music. And as I think about it there are only a few "basic" colors that artists can meld to create a masterpiece. I wish I were lucky enough to be able to do the last. But since I have not that talent I try to make the best with the other two. And so I drink in Kristin's photos for they are a result of "painting" and "sculpting" with the lens of a camera through the eye of an artist. Merci!

Jules Greer

Darling Candy, I have always known you were special...but your last post brought tears to my eyes. I have always hoped everyone would see Kristi's talent hid behind the sign of FWAD. Of course when NEWFOREST showed up here a year or so Kristi and I were blown away. It would be worth your time to check back-comments of Newforest' - they are all brilliant.

I'm so happy you are here Candy. Are you on



Jules Greer








Dear Kristin,

Today, you obviously had to give all your time and attention to something or somebody or to some event that took full priority.

Looking forward to your Super Saturday Cinema Vérité ... and if you've got time and can manage a Newsletter on Friday, that will be a real treat and we'll all be more than grateful!

Kristin Espinasse

Dear Mom, Newforest, and friends. The phone lines are back up at our farm and I am checking email now (and not in chronological order; please forgive this general note to all!). I look forward to posting as soon as possible. Thanks so much for your caring words.

à très bientôt,

Candy in SW KS

How did you get your photo next to your comment? Chouette! Good to hear from you (and see you!)
JULES you are so sweet and I hope our paths cross someday. In the meantime you can find me on facebook (not often, but I am there!)
Hugs to you!
Candy Manchester Witt

cynthia in the french alps

I love cats - have three myself - but I'm mostly envious that you live near these quaint, traditionally French villages with these amazing scenes. I just love looking at the photos. Cynthia in the French Alps

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Candy in SW KS. I was asking myself that same question how did I get that (profile) photo up?... when I find out, Ill let you know!

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