Chez David and Tessa's this weekend some of us spoke with exaggerated English accents while others of us spoke with authentic ones. (Still others of us simply clucked.)

pêle-mêle (pel-mel) adverb

    : pell-mell, higgledy-piggledy, any old way, at random, chaotically

noun: multiple photo frame

A fun synonym or two to pêle-mêle is en vrac or tohu-bohu

Audio File and Example Sentence Download WAV or Download MP3

Dans son potager elle a planté un pêle-mêle de choses qui vont bientôt pousser.
In her kitchen garden she planted a jumble of things that will soon grow.

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

I've never met anyone like her before except, perhaps, in fiction. Such a pearl of personality is penned, such a whirl of whimsicality can only be the work of a writer's imagination.

Few dare to share an eccentric interior, where art lives and gives and grows until it shows. Never mind how much we pay to stand out (cars, clothes, homes) we still take pains to restrain an eclectic inner terrain, lest we be taken as utterly-butterly insane.

Because there is a time and place for everything, there is, thank God, a time and a place for libertine: where morals remain intact, yet the restraints of society cease to rule or impact—and we are free to simply be, our tongues untamed before a pêle-mêle of melody.

Words are no longer strict
   there is rhyme sans reason
          and no verbal verdict

We then speak, some of us, in old English accents
or American ones if that is not our experience
and experience language live, anew

Words that giggle and jiggle
adverbs sweet or sour as pickles
no more subjunctive!
only perfunctive

Which brings us to make-believe terms
(those that linguists take to be germs)
they are my favorite words bar none!
in hymn, in prose, in poetry, or pun.

So special thanks to Tessa (my real, non-fictional friend!) for reminding me over the whimsical weekend that words are wonderful friends, whether real, make-believe, or jazzed-up-with-hyphens.

One of Tessa's hens (either "Ginger" or "Ruby"...)

:: Le Coin Commentaires ::
To comment on this post, click here. Can't think of anything to say? Simply say "bonjour" and tell us where you are writing in from. Merci!

More stories about Tess here:
"Mener à la Baguette"







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Help A Dog Find a Home

(Just got this latest update from Rowan at the animal shelter in Carcassone)

Morning Kristin

Thought I would drop you a quick line to let you know what is going on with our dogs!

We are having an open day next weekend,(8 and 9th May from 1400-1800) when we are hoping to find homes for some of our residents. The refuge is over full, and if we are unable to rehome some dogs, we will have to lose some of them by other means, which is totally heartbreaking. Once a dog has been there for a certain length of time without having been adopted, the view seems to be that he is a hopeless case and that he should make room for dogs who have a greater chance of finding a new family. That is hard to accept, as on many occasions it is merely bad luck. Some dogs are just not as forthcoming as others and do not get noticed, others get ignored because people assume that they are un-homeable. However the other volunteers and I make great efforts to keep the animals socialised, and even after several years at the SPA, our experience is that the dogs adapt quickly to family life. You have to remember that by far the majority of them were family pets to begin with, who were abandoned to due changes in circumstances. They quickly get back into a routine with their new owners and reward the love they are given a thousand-fold. It is heartbreaking to see them being put down.

We have one little chap, Snoop, who was taken away from his owner, a young girl, who was mistreating him. He has been with us ever since, and no one has chosen him. He will not be allowed to stay much  longer and I am really sad for him, as he has so much love to give. He is now 3 years old, and is in the prime of life, yet he spends all his days in a small kennel, dreaming of the walks he could go on and of a family who will love him.

Here he is...Isn't he wonderful? He gets on with other dogs of both sexes and is fine with children. Can anyone offer him or one of his doggy friends a home? Not all of them are on the website, but it will give you an idea of who is there.....

Best regards


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Dear Rowan,
I think your effort to save the dogs in Carcassonne is excellent. I can't help hoping, in my heart of hearts, that you ask the new owners to pledge to clean up the puppy poop when walking their dogs. I remember very clearly from spending 3 weeks in Carcassonne in 2006 the billboard campaign urging people to clean up after their pets. I will never forget the basset hound with his ears flipped up in the air in reaction to the statistics about the annual production of just one dog! Also, as an elder I was shocked when my son told me that every year dozens of older people die from the injuries sustained by falling in the stuff!

cate tuten

Bonjour!! I just read about Rowan and tried to contact the SPCA, but my email would not go through....He stole my heart. Can an American adopt him??? Any info you can give me will be appreciated.....Merci, and I LOVE your blog!!! Cate


Bonjour,from Syracuse, NY., just east of the finger lakes wineries. Always enjoy your posts, and my wife and I are very much looking forward to visiting Provence next year.

Patti Raffy

Kristin, you are so very clever with your words. I love how you put them all together so perfectly..........xo Patti

Joan Linneman

J'adore les mots: leurs sons, leurs appparences, leurs combinaisons avec d'autres mots. J'adore parler anglais avec un accent francais, mais je n'aime pas tellement parler francais avec un accent americain...
Joan L. Illinois

Sandy Maberly

Kristi, thanks to people like you and Rowan, I'm sure that Snoop will finally realize his dream to live with a family who will give him the love that he deserves. I've grown up with adopted strays all of my life and encourage anyone who is able to please share his/her life with one of these little critters or with a deserving soul in your own part of the world. How much poorer life would be if we were unable to share it with a four-legged friend! Keep up the great work as usual.

Kristin, bonjour from Beaverton, Oregon. I loved your cleverly worded blog. Especially "utterly butterly insane"! Oh how you play with words. Brings a smile to my day!

Dad in Palm Springs, CA

Kristi, I just love reading your poetry first thing in the morning with my coffee. I am so proud of you. All my love from Dad in the Desert.

Nan Morrissette

I have a collection of what most people refer to as "snow globes," those little airport souvenirs - just shake to make a blizzard. I coined a new name for them: "neigette," or "little snow." It works, n'est-ce pas?
Nan Morrissette in Dunnellon, Florida where it is VERY hot today.Time to get in the pool!

Julie F

Bonjour Kristin. You're writing is getting more and more clever as you experiment with forms. It inspires me to try on different styles myself, now. My prayers go to Snoop and all the other pets so deserving of forever homes.

It's sunny mais il est toujours très venteux à St Louis.

Stacy, Applegate, Oregon

I’ve fallen in love on this cloudy spring morning, with your fabulous photos of Tessa's hens, her farm and with your whimsical words which dance and sing!

Today's post has brought a smile and joy to my heart! Hoping for the same for sweet-faced Snoop and all his friends in need, as this will add so much to my glee.


Hello from Riga, Latvia! Also would like to thank you for your interesting stories and choice of French words. ))I enjoy both revising as English as French. ))

Caroline B,  California

J'adore les photos des poules.

joanne nixon

oh how i love your words and photos !! the chickens are so very cute or pretty. my daughter has unusual chickens...her name is kristin as well...a lover of animals.

thank you again for all the beautiful words and pictures...someday, i hope to visit france for real and not just as an armchair traveller...


Fun post today Kristin! I enjoyed the pictures of the chickens. I am waiting on my chicken coop I ordered last month and two Gingernut Ranger chickens in June. Remember Gilligan's Island? I am going to name them Marianne and Ginger.


Hi Kristin:
I've been a fan ever since I read your delightful book a few years ago; I look forward to checking in every few days. Snoop's story broke my heart; I hope he is adopted soon. My daughter volunteers at a local dog rescue; I can't bring myself to tell her about Snoop--it will break her heart as well. Love your charming photos. Writing you from Fayetteville, NY

Betty Hansen

I love your blog, especially your photos. We'll be in your area next week, staying in Suze-la-Rousse. Don't be surprised if I pop in!!!


I read this with my little rescue pup sitting next to me, and while I am happy to have saved her life, I am crushed that there are so many other dogs that need help. Best wishes to Rowan, Snoop, and all the other pets that need homes...

Bob & Mary Head

Kristin (or anyone else in Provence!)I read your emails and we are learning French (as 'Seniors). We are in Australia but are visiting provence in June and have a few days to spend near the end without a plan yet. We think of staying In Aix. Are you anywhere near there?
Cordialement Bob & Mary


Chickens! I babysat my neighbours two chookies the other weekend. One of my jobs was to put the chookies back into their shed at night and the labrador back into the house. Trying to catch the chookies was absolutely impossible! Which bit do you pick up? The chookies all of a sudden seemed to have lots of sharp and pointy bits! Once they figured I was a novice they fixed their beadie eyes on me and ran like the dickens! I gave up when the dog decided to join in the chase as well as I thought it will only end in tears, feathers and fur. So I had to leave them to their own devices strutting around the lawn. The next morning the chookies were making a huge ruckus and I thought maybe the dog ( I had already let her out early on) was playing chasing again or maybe one had become caught in the trampoline netting so I raced over to see what was going on. You guessed it... there were two proud chookies crowing over their first laid eggs gleaming in the straw. I think that gave them as much a fright as they gave me!
( You can tell I am a city girl!)

Leslie, Kennesaw, Georgia

Knowing your wit, I'm almost surprised that you didn't tell us to "cluck here" to leave comments! Loved the snapshots of Tessa's hens. They are beautiful! And I hope Rowan's open visitation goes well, especially for Snoop. What a cutie!


Kristen, your photos and story of Tessa and her chickens is wonderful.
Thank you so much for giving Rowan an opportunity to reach more potential adoptive "parents" for the shelter dogs. That Snoop is so darling. I'd give anything to be able to bring him to California! I hope you can give us an update later about the new home I'm certain he'll find.

gail bingenheimer

J'aime la nature. gail

Avril Rustage-Johnston

Love the picture of the hens in the doorway. It reminds me vividly of the house we rented in Chateauneuf de Grasse, where our wonderful Provencal landlady kept four hens in a little garden by the side of the house, "just as pets", she explained. I had never been in proximity to hens but quickly found myself making pets of them too; I would step out of the house and approach their area with scraps for them, all the while calling out in a "hen-ish" voice, "hello girls". Within a few days they learned English sufficiently to come dashing over to me and when Madame let them out of their enclosure they would search me out and follow me about, right up to the house.
Perhaps the hens in the picture are doing likewise.

joie  carmel,ca

Delightful prose...loved it. I always thought pele-mele was an English way. You used the phrase "butterly insane" today. In the last episode the word of the day was "beurre" and it's different idioms. So I decided to check out "butterly insane". These are the various translations I found. Papillon fou. Buerre fou. Butterly aliene. and Buerre insense. Is one ever able to learn the French language? I laugh to think of what I might say instead of what I mean to say.
Hope Jacquie is doing just fine.

joie  carmel,ca

I think it is wonderful that you peridiocally post a dog for the SPA there. You reach so many people and not just those here in the states. Hopefully we will soon read that he has a home. Soon I will be going to our shelters around here to find a new family member for me. It has been 8 months and I think I am about ready.

Yvette Soubirous

Bonjour! J'habite a Antioch, California. J'etudie le francais pour beaucoup d'ans et je parle un peu francais. Je parle tres lentement. J'aime beaucoup lire votre e-mails. Merci! J'ai 43 ans et j'aurai 44 ans en octobre. J'ai deux filles, 18 et 21 ans. La plus jeune fille habite encore avec moi. L'autre est dans le militaire de US Navy. (Pardon my puctuation. I love the pictures and writings and vocabulary. Thank you for the time and effort you put into your webpage. I wish I could pick up the language faster. I took 2 years in middle school, 2 in highschool, and 1 year in 2005/6 at jr. college. I'm still trudging along. God bless you and your family.) Yvette


je viens de revenir a la maison apres une absence de 10 jours pour feter le mariage de ma fille, donc, ce n'est que ce matin que j'ai eu le temps de regarder mon courriel. Qu'est-ce qui se passe avec le petit Snoop, qui est tellement adorable? En lisant son histoire, et son avenir, j'avais les larmes aux yeux. Est-ce que quelqu'un l'a adopte?


Hi Kristin,

a few more synonyms

-> noun : "un méli-mélo" (funny and evocative word, from the first 3 letters of the verb "mélanger")

-> adv. : "sens dessus-dessous" / de manière désordonnée/ sans ordre / en désordre …

which remind me that, according to Boileau:
“Un beau désordre est un effet de l'art”
L'art poétique, 1674
(such a wonderful excuse to give, when things are untidy around you!)

Un grand merci for the links. I enjoyed the 2 stories in March so, I'll be happy to catch up with more stories about Tessa.

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