Cadeau: My Daughter’s Christmas “Liste de Voeux”

avoir des oursins dans les poches

Sea urchin oursin sea hedgehog
A sea urchin, or oursin, is very prickly. You wouldn't want to step on one while wading out to sea! Today's popular French expression has a funny take on these underwater creatures...

avoir des oursins dans les poches

    : to be stingy ("to have sea urchins in one's pockets")

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

The other day, while allowing myself to soak in a hot bath (instead of taking another one of those speed showers, this, during the 21 Day Publishing Challenge), my daughter ran into the room:

"Maman, someone is knocking on the door!"

"Then why aren't you answering it?" I snapped. How ironic that the minute you allow yourself a reprieve, Life's whirlwind suddenly picks up again!

"Oh là!" my daughter scolded, unwilling to be anyone's stress scapegoat.

I softened my tone. "Hurry over to the fenêtre and see who's there."

Jackie took her sweet time to glance out the window, to the cours below. "C'est les pompiers."

The firemen? Zut! That could only mean one thing: Calendar Sales! I felt the urge to slip under the bath water and disappear... Instead, I had another of those inspirations.... 

Don't be stupid, I thought. Now's the time to get to know these local rescuers. For so many years I never needed anybody... and then I ran into a health scare that made me wake up to my very weakness and my need for others.

I felt a little guilty about my sudden motivation to greet the pompiers. After all, my automatic response had been to get out of paying for another calendar (by hiding from the pompier-salesmen), until it occurred to me to turn the "invasion" into an opportunity.

I threw on my robe and ran over to the window, careful not to slip across the wet floor. In my most welcoming voice I shouted: 

"Bonjour, Messieurs! J'arrive! Désolée de vous faire attendre!"

"Prenez votre temps!" the firemen replied.

This time I threw on my jeans, a t-shirt, a sweater, slippers, and hurried down the stairs. There was no time to cover up the surgical wound on my forehead, so I simply assured myself it didn't matter; after all, here were the firefighter-saviors. They had seen much more than this!

That said, I felt the need to explain the "double cross" or "H" mark on my forehead, which looked, at best, like an accidental calf branding and, at worst, like some sort of freaky occult symbol! Surely the pompiers would think we sacrificed more than grapes here at our so-called "vineyard"!

"Bonjour!" I greeted the pompiers. Pointing to my head, I made what might have been a very bad joke: "I've been burned!" I laughed off the uncomfortable moment, explaining that it was the sun that had made a bad spot on my forehead and that la mauvaise tache had recently been taken off.

The firefighters looked genuinely sympathetic. I quickly switched subjects. "Alors.... voyons... qu'est-ce que ça donne, le calendrier deux-mille-douze?"

The pompiers handed me their calendar for inspection. Remembering my kiss-up-to-the-firemen agenda, I took the time to peruse the calendar, making a point to linger over the scenes of bravery featured in the months of "Mars" (a car fire) and "Juin" (a forest fire).

Still, no matter how self-motivated I was to kiss up to the firefighters, in the hopes that they would remember me in my day of need, I felt that familiar resistance to fork over the cash for the calendar. I guess I was experiencing another attack of les oursins dans les poches, in which those prickly, figurative "sea urchins in my pocket" were preventing me from reaching in for the money just beyond.

I sucked up and reached in any way, in time to finger the 50-euro note that I had grabbed on the way down the stairs. Jean-Marc had just given it to me the day before, and I had high hopes of holding onto it for a while... and then the calendar salesmen arrived!

A new dilemma presented itself: combien donner? Firemen's calendars are not priced. Kind of like restaurant tipping, each citizen gives what he or she feels like giving. This French concept has always been much too vague for me, so I asked the pompiers to spell it out, clearly:

"How much is your average donation?" I inquired.

"Les gens give anywhere from ten to twenty euros," one of the firemen answered. 

Determined not to be a cheapskate (and keeping firmly in mind my agenda...) I began to hand over the 50-euro note, and to ask, politely, for thirty back. Still, I noticed how heavy my arm felt while reaching for the cash... 

That's when I had another inspiration. Couldn't I get a little more value for my money? More than a 16-page calendar? I was a little ashamed of this devil-on-my-shoulder-inspired thought, but it didn't keep my inner radine from acting on the idea.

"Un moment, s'il vous plaît!" I hurried into the house and rooted through the pantry for a couple of unopened smoke alarms. It had been four years since I bought the détecteurs de fumée. I still hadn't installed them... I think I was waiting to buy batteries or something.

I watched as the firemen cut open the dusty boîtes and freed the alarms from the industrial-strength plastic packaging. The men checked the batteries (which, it turns out, came with the units...), showing me how to do the battery test.

I asked the firemen's advice about where, exactly, to place the alarms, and how would I know whether they really worked (again, they pointed out to me the battery-test button...). With each question, the pompiers responded with patience and encouragement. They even praised me for my foresightedness in buying the alarms (graciously overlooking my failure to install them), informing me that in 2012 such alarms would be required by French law.

Fully satisfied with the transaction, I finally handed over the cash for the calendar and the service. I figured I had gotten a lot of value out of the deal.

I did feel a little guilty about wanting to get my money's worth at the pompiers expense, but if it took stinginess to get those lifesaving smoke detectors working, then so be it! 


It's no fun to face up to one's own flaws and so I'll try to be more aware of my tendency to hold on to things (my cash? my time? my ice cream?) and be more open to occasions to put Mom's words into practice: Give! Give as much as you can at every chance! Give, give, give! Though I have literally watched my mom give away her last $20 (to a stranger), I will try to find the balance between keeping and giving. What is that balance? Does anybody know? 


Le Coin Commentaires
To leave a comment on this post, click here. Please take a minute to note what city you are writing in from (my dear dad loves to know!)


Surgery wound update! Some of you have written in, asking me to post a more updated photo of my forehead. Click here to view a photo taken just two days ago.

Book update: today Erin at TLG Graphics will receive the manuscript and begin working on my book's interior! Wish her bon courage!

French Vocabulary

la maman = mom

oh là = hang on a minute there!

la fenêtre = window

la cour =courtyard

c'est les pompiers = it's the firemen

zut! = darn!

Bonjour, Messieurs! J'arrive! Désolée de vous faire attendre!
Hello, gentlemen. I'm on my way. Sorry to make you wait! 

Prenez votre temps = take your time

la mauvaise tache = the bad spot

Alors.... voyons... qu'est-ce que ça donne, le calendrier deux-mille-douze?
So, let's see... what does the 2012 calendar look like?

mars = March

juin = June

avoir un oursin dans la poche = to be stingy, miserly; literally "to have a sea urchin in your pocket" (preventing you from reaching past it to the money just beyond)

combien donner? = how much to give?

le radin/la radine = cheapskate, skinflint

les gens (mpl) = people

un moment, s'il vous plaît = one moment, please

un détecteur de fumée = smoke detector

une boîte = box

Sea urchins oursins prepared rose wine
Jean-Marc loves sea urchins, "les oursins." Do not miss this funny story about the lengths he will go to in order to hunt them off the popular southern island of Porquerolles.


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


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Nice entry! Funny to read today, since I had a visit last night from a pompier here in Paris, and you feel so bad thinking about not opening the door, because the money is for a good cause. Plus the one they send around in my neighbourhood this year was gorgeous, so 10 € well spend!
PS I really like your blog, it is good a very sweet and informative, even for the non-Anglo:)


Talking about firemen, an expression I heard the other day was ils fument commes les pompiers, they smoke like firemen! I don't know why but it made me laugh! Don't even have a smoke alarm, but maybe that because The Artist fume comme un pompier!

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Annette! P.S. was it the calendar or the fireman that was gorgeous? ;-)

Angela, this was one reason I didnt put up the alarm: for the smoke in our house (not from cigarettes... but from the food I often burn!)


I hear this year at Ste Cecile's Fête du rosé the hats and t-shirts were offered by the organisers. Only the colour was chosen by each participants. Is it true?


Kristin Espinasse

Thomas, LOL!! I hope Chief Grape isnt reading comments today ;-) 

Barb Stork

This is so funny.

Pam Manix Woodstock, England

I am very happy that your surgery and book are going so well and the updates, etc. And all your stories are great---interesting idioms, especially! But one facet of the Grape Household has been missing of late. I am going through Smokey-Doke withdrawal. Could we have a Smokey and Braise link on the website, to keep up our semi-weekly fix of his serene visage!?

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Pam (Braise and Smokey thank you too!) I appreciate your missing the dogs! Ill see what I can do about a photo...


Our firemen came with their calendars really early this year, on 5 November - bonfire night in England and there were some firework celebrations by expats here in Brittany, so perhaps it was appropriate.

Your scar is healing amazingly well I'm glad to see.

Sandra, St Nicolas du Pélem, 22480, France.

Tom from Detroit

Ah, Kristen, what indeed is the correct balance between keeping and giving? Don't know if there is a way to be mechanical and methodical about it but the first methodical Methodist (John Wesley) gave us three rules of economics: "Make all you can. Save all you can. Give all you can." In the end this is one of those questions of individual conscience. Like Paul said, "Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind." (Romans 14:5)

Paul Heffron

Hi Kristin,

So when the French hear the word oursin are they thinking something like 'little bear'?

Best regards,


I love this: How ironic that the minute you allow yourself a reprieve, Life's whirlwind suddenly picks up again!

And so true! All I have to do is get in the bath and everyone in the whole house parades outside the door to the bathroom.


I lived in France for quite a while, and well remember the annual visit of les pompiers with their calendars. I also remember being warned that if I didn't make a donation my address would be blacklisted in case of a fire. Often wondered if there was any truth to that?
Probably an urban myth, that the pompiers do little to deny...

Julie S. from San Diego

Hi Kristin,
Your scar is healing beautifully! I remember the visit by the pompiers too! I was not sure what to give at first and have since thought that I did not give enough. Now that I am back home, I try to remember the people who do work for me throughout the year during the holidays. I think my experience in France made me think about giving.
I was so happy to see a new French-word-a-day when I turned on my computer this morning!


So, coincidentally, not too many days ago, I went through a similar dilemna, I think. A local church holds a scavenger hunt to collect items for gift boxes. Thanks to Facebook, I knew that they would soon be here. I may have debated whether my husband could find suitable choices for them in my absence, but I chose to take a hot bath that evening. Sure enough, while I was soaking away, he burst in with a bag of children's toys I save for the precious visits with my grandchildren, and other small visitors. "Can we give these away?!? "
" Oh no! not the little pull toy doggie! not the soft juggling balls! NOT the stuffed tigger!!" I struggled with the fact that most of the time these little playthings sit unused in a basket, and some little child would love them better than I. After a few pangs of guilt versus useless nostalgia for little toys, I gave in to the (almost) right choice. I kept the balls, and the doggie, but let go of the best tigger in the world. I even threw in a few of my favorite rubber duckies sitting right nearby, along with whatever else Pa had chosen. Since then, I have been down to see my darling grand babies, and during one special visit, Nelida gave to me her little bear, along with the best hugs and kisses I'll ever know.
It is good to know you are taking care of yourself. Please know that we all think you are wonderful.


Very instructional, free flowing dialogue. I don't have an H on my forehead but a zipper on my hand (squamous cell).

Jules Greer

What a happy surprise your post was this morning. I didn't think I would be receiving one of your precious stories this soon.

I am so happy you are reminding everyone to please post their city, country - I always feel so much more connected to our friends when I can really identify them by location. Plus you know how much I love Google Earth. Now I can check out Sandra in St. Nicolas du Pelem, 22480, France. As I have mentioned before I even upload Google Earth each morning right, even before email, so I always have it handy to fly around this amazing earth.

One of my favorite things to give is 'eye-contact'. I have tried over the years to stress this gift to my girls. When you take the time to really stop and give someone your full attention (especially a stranger) this is when you truly connect with each person that crosses your path of life. I am happy to see Kristi is practicing this and discovering the value each new connection will bring into her life.

What a great time we live in - the joy of connecting - I thank God everyday for all of the wonderful people I am able to pause and reflect on because of Kristi's courage to step out in her life and connect with all of you.

I'm just feeling the love this morning...I love all of you.



Jules Greer



Diane Scott

On the issue of giving: so much harder when times are tough financially, as they are these days. But always when I feel my own prickly spines in my pocket, I am reminded of the parable of the widow in Mark 12:41-43. Two mites-a fortune for a poor woman to donate into the Temple treasury. That reminder of generosity and faith is a strong motivator to risk the pinch and pull out the pennies!

Rob Tonkinson from Mahomet, IL

What a great entry today. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The issue of how much to spend, how much to save for future unexpected needs, and how much to give once you have met your own very basic needs is, in my mind, one of the great challenges of life.

Dad from Indian Wells

H or no H on your forehead, you are still the prettiest woman in France. You are healing quickly ...thanks for sharing your latest photo. Great article today. I am so happy to have "Coffee with Kristi" in the morning again. You bring much joy into the world.

Hey you readers, when you post your comments just say "Karin from Seattle" or "Mary from Melbourne". Isn't it fun to see where people are writing from? Thanks. Hi Jules...I always enjoy your comments here.

Bill in St. Paul

I think your forehead looks great and the "H" will fade over time. J-M looks great in pink - must be his color. Writing from Saint Paul, Minnesota where it's 15 degrees and sunny with about an inch of snow on the ground.

Tim Averill

The implicit threat that if you don't buy, you will be blacklisted is overcome by the appreciation of what the Sapeurs-Pompiers actually do. In the states, the police and fire hire fundraisers to do the solicitation, and I have no problem saying NO. But when an actual officer or fireman asks, I am happy to give.

As for giving in general, I use Charity Navigator and insist on a 4-start rating as well as CEO compensation that is within reason. Just turned down a food bank that pays its CEO $438,000 in favor of a women's shelter where the CEI makes $138,000 (not big money in the City of Boston for a CEO).

judith dunn

.. Hi Kristin... I used to live in Paris many years ago and remember 'les pompiers' coming to the door and 'selling ' their calanders. I happily gave them my 'francs', ( back in 1991) as I hoped if anything bad ever happened ( we lived on the sixeme etage!) they would hurry to our rescue! I think one should always give what you can 'afford', and then give a little more! Your forehead is doing beautifully. and you are blessed with the most wonderfuland amazing mother! I envy you..... Judi Dunn in Tallahassee, fl.

Julie F in St. Louis, MO

Hi Kristin. Glad to end the week with one of your posts. I feel like such a slacker because after my surgery I've given in to my fatigue and posted on my own blog haphazardly. You're a trooper. I loved your mom's suggestion to "give" eye contact. When I'm home I try to remember that when I'm in France I feel people (even strangers) are actually looking me in the eye with their bonjours, so I try to remember to say my hellos and goodbyes to store merchants and strangers with eye contact and sincerity. I think your scar is looking wonderful for only ten weeks out. You are looking wonderful. And if I'm in France during the fall ever I will remember your pompier story and and give generously if they show up at my door.

Kris Hendrickson

We had two visits from the Pompiers but I really prefer the Post Office Calendar, but how can one refuse to buy from the lovely boys they send around. I also know what a great job they do. My neighbour is a little accident prone!!!

What a surprise to read of another reader of your column in St Nicolas du Pelem, 22480. Jules I will give you a wave when you google us. We are east of the church

Kris, St Nicolas du Pelem, Brittany

Fred Lovett, Lingaglossa

Hi, Kristin. I was moved by your post today and decided to send one back. I have had a blog for several months and no-one ever uses the reply box. Then I realised that I don't use yours and I do want to encourage you.

Your blog is the only personal blog I read because it lightens my life and brings thoughts from the real world instead of the gloom and doom I normally get.

Keep it up! I do try to promote you!

Fred, Linguaglossa, Sicily.

Jan in Monument, Colorado

What a joy to read your entry this morning! The photo of Jean-Marc, pretty in pink, made me chuckle. Then came Jules' philosophical nuggets and your Dad's comment about "Coffee with Kristi", as I sat savoring the warmth of a fresh cup of coffee. I can picture readers all over the world doing just that! Then it struck me that, while I love your blog and your insights into human nature, I often find that your readers' comments hit home. I fully agree with Tim--can't feel too generous when I get a call from paid fundraisers. Where's the commitment to the cause? I'm glad to see your forehead is healing so well, although you probably don't feel it's happening quickly enough! And for your Dad, it's a beautiful (albeit cold) morning here on the front range of Colorado. It snowed yesterday and must have gotten foggy in the night. Each tiny pine needle and twig is flocked in white--gorgeous against the brilliant blue sky. I wish I could be half the photographer you are, Kristi. I'm sure you could capture the essence of this scene. I can just lazily sit here appreciating it out my window.

Lynn at Southern Fried French

Hi Kristin,
Please tell Jean-Marc he is everso pretty in pink. Ron gets fussy when I even mention him in my blog---he would have killed me for that photo. Maybe it will inspire him when I show it to him.
Our pompiers are volunteers, so I don't mind giving them a bit more. Plus, they always arrive not just with a calendar but with a loaf of brioche!
Hope you're surviving the book marathon. Bon courage.

Tom from Detroit

Kristin, sorry about misspelling your name. I have a niece named Kristen and I continually get you mixed up. I have thoroughly enjoyed today's comments. Especially, Jules'. My tag says from Detroit because that is the largest nearby city, but I'm really in Royal Oak, MI-48073. Fred, is there really a place called "Linguaglossa" or "Lingaglossa"? Did you know that Detroit may be the only place in the U.S. where one has to travel south to cross the border into Canada?

Nu Ha

I love to read your little articles. Keep up the good job!
For your dear Dad who wants to know ... I am from Dammam Saudi Arabia.

Nu Ha

Jennifer in OR

Quick hello to you this morning! Thinking how amazing it is that you have TLC along with the rest of the volunteer editors here at FWAD--really, that is extraordinary! Blessings to you today! ~Jen

Suzi Hodgson, Lima Mt

Hi Kristin,
Great story today. Positive attitude is always an inspiration, it doesn't matter if it's buying a calender or dealing with everyday ups and downs. You bring sunshine into my world each time I read your stories.
Someday I'll share with you what I remember of the young girl called Julie Kay (Jules).She had to be the most positive person I have ever met.
From Tucson for now


Wow, that was really nice of you to get out of your bath to go talk to the pompiers. It's nice to have you back and I'm so glad your scar has healed so well. Thanks for sharing the picture.


How long has it been since you have seen a US pompiers calendar? Are the French ones like them with all those rather captivating young men in them? If they are I am sure they would sell like croissants or should I say crepes.
When I first saw the picture of Jean-Marc I thought "oh, no".....he will not be happy with that one. So perhaps next week to redeem yourself you had better find another one and post it!
The balance of giving is sometimes hard. I find it easiest to "give" and give more when not asked. That way giving truly comes from within.
And last.....good morning Jules. Your positive take on life is truly catching!
Use your google and see me down on Carmel Beach in a couple of hours. If it were in true time I could write hello in the sand.
Joie from Carmel-by-the-Sea California.

Betty from Hobe Sound, FL

Ooooh la la! Chief Grape looks luscious in his a propos rose garb.
Glad to see you were at least attempting to relax in the bath.
Again, the "H" stands for HAT + Sunscreen. Enough said.
So what are you up to while the book percolates at TLC Graphics?

Carole Thrasher

Kristin--I do so enjoy the adventures of all of you at your place in France! Writing from Kansas City KS USA. (We are just across the bridge from Kansas City, MO USA!) It is only overcast and about 40 degrees-- so happy not to have had snow yet-- but we are predicted to have over the weekend! No words can truly express how much I look forward to seeing your stories, and pictures. Like others, so happy you are healing well! Carole Thrasher

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you for these wonderful replies. I am reading them out of order (in my messy inbox, where they arrive!). Just wanted to wish everyone a great weekend! 

Christine Dashper

Thanks for this entry Krisitn, I really enjoyed it, you always manage to go to the heart of the matter. I checked out your latest pic and it looks as though you are healing well, I hope you are feeling some level of peace with your progress.

As Christmas approaches, I wish you all much happiness

Stacy ~ Sweet Life Farm ~ Applegate, Oregon

Hi Kristi! I am so glad I took a moment away from the mound of paperwork on my desk to enjoy today’s post. Thanks for brightening my day with this story. We are so alike! I hear "be generous" whispered to me at every turn.... I do what feels right as the moment presents itself. Wow, your face is healing so quickly and beautifully! Enjoy your weekend! xoxo

Karen from Phoenix, AZ

Hi Kristi,

You are healing wonderfully. Before you know it, it will be completely faded. I was too so glad to have a FWAD today. I miss you when you are gone. My favorite color is pink! Have a wonderful weekend. Oh,
I too miss the doggie pictures.

Jules - love you!

xoxo Karen, Phoenix, AZ

Cynthia Lewis

.......another happy reader/fan to see FWAD in my email today. Thanks so much for the recent photo; you are looking wonderful! I wouldn't make another explanation to anyone. But apparently it is true that you shouldn't let sunlight (ultraviolet light) reach an area while it is still pinkish in color. I learned this from my grandson during the Summer when I asked him why he was wearing sunglasses while we were doing a little gardening together. He explained patiently that the sun was not supposed to reach the sutured area near his eye (due to an injury). Bon week-end, Cynthia - Salisbury, Maryland

Marianne Rankin

Kristin, I can hardly see your scar in the picture.

Jules, Kristin not only looks people in the eye, she looks with a special eye on the world around her, which makes her photos distinctive and interesting.

Today's post was an example of a vignette of French life I didn't know about. I was unaware that the pompiers sell calendars.

In the USA, or at least around here, people, who I think are volunteer firefighters, or possibly other volunteers on their behalf, come around and ask for donations, and I always write a check. No particular amount is suggested, and they will take whatever you want to give. When we first moved to our current house 20 years ago, I wondered why they were asking for money, since firefighting should be covered by taxes. Unfortunately, some of the equipment is so specialized and expensive that taxes (especially these days) don't cover everything. A firetruck can cost $200,000 or more. I figure if they don't ever (I hope) fight a fire at our house, then they might help someone else.

I could write a lot about charities, some of which are terrible nags, and I don't commit to anything over the phone. More and more, I mostly give locally, so I can keep and eye on how they are using my money. And I drop organizations that drown me with repeat mailings, a waste of my modest contributions. I give to a couple of national/international charities, including Save the Children, which uses around 90% of what it gets for meeting needs. In general, when I consider how fortunate I am, I am ready to give a little more than I think I "can."

I'm writing from University Park, Maryland, which is near College Park, Maryland, where the main campus of the Univ. of Maryland is located. It's a couple of miles from the Washington, D.C. line. Today was in the 50s; after the sun goes down, it drops to the 30s. I've already had frost on my car a few times.

Judy Feldman

Enjoyed your blog today! I'll remember your experience when the firemen call for donations..Your scar looks pretty good. Try some vitamin E on it - that keeps the skin supple. Bon weekend from Scottsdale!


Hi Kristi!
Loved your post as always :)
I'm so glad to see you are healing from your surgery, both body and spirit.
And thanks for the reminder to replace the batteries in my alarms. I wrote it down to do a while ago... :/
YOur photo at the top made me smile, thanks for sharing.

Avad Fan

I shared the 2009 Mistral with my family over Thanksgiving. We all loved it and would never have tried it without my reading your blog. Best wishes with the continued healing and the publication!

Jacqueline Gill

Hi, Kristin,
I hope you are healing just fine. The older I get, the more I want to give. I think one becomes more appreciative. If you practice being thankful every single day, you start to realize how blessed you are, and your fingers start to loosen around those dollars, or euros. Not to be carelessly extravagant, but to give to worthy causes and to give happily.I'm proud of you for your generosity. Thanks for another great story. Jackie from Beaver Falls, PA


Nice story, Kristen - and certainly les pompiers are always a worthy cause. I live in Harrogate, very near the village in North Yorkshire where The Calendar Girls made their famous nude calendar for leukemia and have collected over half a million pounds to date.


Ata girl! You get your moneys worth! The firies do a wonderful job and need supporting! They would have been very happy to sort out your smoke detectors :-)
We don't get the house to house calls but usually they hold a BBQ breakfast near the supermarket as you walk in...yum! :-)
You are healing really well and you have turned your experience into such a positive part of your life! My little 2 year old niece ran into a post at the playground (as you do) a couple of weeks ago and her doctor also used the magic glue to patch her long vertical cut. I know, like you, she will heal nicely!
Beautiful sunny morning here at Warriewood Beach, Sydney.

gail bingenheimer

Ce romancier a imaginé un lieu de délices inouïes.
This novelist invented a place of unheard-of delights.
Demain, si tu veux, on parlera longuement de cette affaire.
Tomorrow, if you like, we'll speak at lengthabout this matter.

Sandy Strong

Oh Kristin how I have missed you! I was laid off from my job about a months ago and my FWAD came to my work email address..I totally forgot about it and how much I enjoy it so I have just re subscribed. I can totally relate to your story of Sea urchins in the pockets! As always, thank you for Sharing things not many others have the courage to admit!
Sandy from San Clemente California


What a great post! So, were they at least handsome firemen? Then you would have gotten even more value for your money! :)

A Hopwood

I've been out of the loop for a couple of weeks, but read today and checked out your new post-op pictures. You look GREAT! I have to admit, I was a little taken aback when you first posted your scar after seemed pretty aggresive, but as long as the cancer is gone and you're healing nicely, I trust the surgeon had reason for being so aggresive.
You look beautiful, as always.
I was thinking of your family last night as I had a glass of Mistral!

Carol Folino

A win-win for all!Quick thinking at it's best.Now you have working fire alarms,and pics of the hot men who helped you with them!

Eileen deCamp

Loved your post today Kristin! Your post op photo looks great! Wow, Chief Grape looks great in his pink shirt and hat! We always like to give to our local rescue squad...never know when we might need them!
Charlottesville, VA


I've always thought the word should be pronounced STINGy, like you've been stung and this idiom explains exactly why I! I even wrote about this theory on my blog!


Very nice!

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