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Entries from April 2012

avoir tort

The French name for poppy? "Le coquelicot" Smokey has his own term of endearment for this one. Read on!

The next wine-tasting here at the vineyard is tomorrow, May 1st! If you can make it to this meet-up, please leave a message in the comments box and I'll reserve your seat and send the details.

avoir tort (avwahr-tor)

    : to be wrong

 Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc read the sentence below:  Download MP3 or Wav file

Il a tort, Smokey. Le nom pour cette fleur c'est coquelicot, et non pas smokelicot! He's wrong, that Smokey. The name for this flower is "coquelicot" and not "Smokelicot"! 


Book Update: Your Edits Needed!

After reaching the one-fourth mark on Friday, we begin this week with two more chapters for the upcoming book (working title is "Vignettes from the Var"). 

Pinceau = How to Dress during a DIY project (take Jean-Marc's example...). Begin proofreading here.

Emplette = The kids return from the supérette with an illegal purchase ... Begin proofreading here.


Mr Smokelicot (c) Kristin Espinasse

A little field of coquelicots... and a story by Smokey.

Smokey says: Today, I share with you the name of my favorite flower!


Here it is, stick your nose in!

Isn't she pretty? The flower, not the beetle!


The name is even cooler: S-M-O-K-E-L-I-C-O-T.

Enjoy the field of smokelicots and have a nice week!



P.S. Thanks for forwarding this edition to a friend! Also:


 Still reading? You might take a moment to read about Poppy Day and to learn about the coquelicots planted in remembrance for those who lost their lives in The Great War. Click here.

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
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mieux vaut tard que jamais + audio story in French!

Melange to file 048
"Vignettes from the Var"? Such a book title might not win any awards, but it would clearly suggest the books content! All of the stories in this next collection are from 2006, when we lived in the Varois village of Les Arcs-sur-Argens (pictured).

mieux vaut tard que jamais (myeuh-voh-tarh-keuh-zha-may)

    : better late than never

Note: though I do not have a sound file of today's expression... I do finally have the recording you asked for for Jean-Marc's story. Click here for that text and for the story's recording.

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

The last time I was on Facebook I saw one of those bits of wisdom that friends post from time to time. This one read:

A year from now you will wish you had started today...

Regarding the current book project, I told myself last Friday "in one week, you will be a quarter of the way through..."

It is one week later now (oh, the ups and downs in between!) but I am one-quarter through!--thanks to the diligent "red penners" (as reader Linda Casey calls the voluntary editors). 

Moving right along... here are the next two chapters to proofread:

 Briller - her patent leather shoes tell a tale. Begin proofreading here.

Libellule = one abominable guest. Begin proofreading here.

Meantime, wishing everyone a relaxing weekend!


Comments Corner
To comment on something in this edition (a word, a picture, a statement) click here



Look who snuck upstairs... and into this office! Guilt is written all over your furry face, Little Mister Smokey!

Gus Elison brought his key—and very special guest!—to yesterday's wine-tasting: 91-year-old Jeanne (a.k.a. "Charlotte"). Jeanne moved to the States in 1946. Though she visited France over the years, she only moved back recently, to be near her son.

We could have listened to Jeanne (and her lovely French accent) all day long! My favorite story was about Jeanne's mother, who spent the last 19 years of her life with Jeanne in the US. Jeanne shared about her mom's adventuresome spirit. During a cross-country road trip, in which wizened mother and daughter discovered the States, Jeanne explained, "Mom never needed to stop to eat or to go to the bathroom! She just wanted to get back into the car and take off!"

Jeanne's mom, who lived her life in France (minus the last nineteen years in the States, with Jeanne), answered her daughter's telephone with a polite, but question-stopping greeting: "I do not speak English," she said non-comitally.

Jeanne's mom wanted to join the French army... but just shy of 1 meter 50, she was not tall enough. In the picture, above, you can just spy Jeanne's lovely turquoise blue, brocaded jacket. Don't let her elegance intimidate you--she has a sense of humor that could relax a panel of politicians (which, by the way, is as much as I know to say about the current elections. I VOTE JEANNE!!!) Jeanne, come back and visit sometime!

And to anyone reading...the next wine-tastings are:

May 1st and 8th at 4pm. Let me know if you can make it and I'll reserve your seat under the Mulberry tree... unless it rains, and then we'd meet in our kitchen as pictured above.


Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
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les hauts et les bas

Be Yourself (c) Kristin Espinasse
I wanted to title the previous book "Character-building in Provence"--a reference to the "character" one builds when adapting to a foreign land... as well as a reference to the writing life--or the characters that inspire these stories! The snapshot (above) would have made an illustrative cover photo (though it was taken in Verona....)

les hauts et les bas (lay-oh-ay-lay-bah)

    : highs and lows

On l'appelle 'la vie en rose' mais, comme partout, il y a ici, en France, des hauts et des bas. They call it "the life in pink" but, just like everywhere else, we have ups and downs here in France, too. 


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

I take that back what I said about writer's block; it is not something I believe in. Rather, as with hair, there are good days and bad days. The trick is to show up (at work or school or the front door) looking, sometimes, like a super dork.

Humility is good for one's writing (if not for one's hair).

Now, back to story editing. Here are the next two chapters I am working on for the book. As usual, you are invited to get out your red pens: 

"Aisselle" - or just where to stick that French thermometre? Click here to proofread this story

"Malentendu" - on trying a little too hard to make a good first impression! Begin proofreading this story, here.


Comments Corner - to comment on anything in this post, click here.


Smokey says: "A book cover for Blossoming II? It's a no-brainer: PICK ME!!!"


Marcia and Jack visited us last week. Mom (pictured) was there with us in spirit (see, Mom, we NEVER leave you out!)


The next vineyard meetup is tomorrow: Thursday, April 26th, at 4pm. 

To reserve your seat beneath the mulberry tree, leave a message in the comments box and I'll get back with you with more info! (May 1st and 8th are the next two dates... keep posted)

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
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cabanon and delphinium or larkspur (c) Kristin Espinasse
"Blossoming in Provence Volume Two?".... Would this  photo work for the next story collection? The title could be written across the blue sky... the picture, bordered by a green cover? Your thoughts here, in the comments box.

ribambelle (une ribambelle de...)

1. a swarm, flock of (bees, birds...)

2. a string of (kids...)

3. a row of; stacks of (chairs...)

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc Download MP3 or Wav file

Autour de la table et sous le mûrier,  il y avait une ribambelle de chaises de differentes tailles et couleurs. Around the table and under the mulberry tree, there was a row of chairs of different sizes and colors.


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse 

Writer's block continues and it isn't a matter of not having a story to tell. There is a pervading dullness that creeps in each time I begin typing. Doubts begin to mount, weighing down what began as determination. Any stick-to-it-iveness... up and splits... and there's nothing left to do but to but to give up or go through.

I've been going through the 2006 story archives after realizing that a few stories were left out of Blossoming in Provence. My plan is to publish a second volume, or companion, to the BIP book... never mind that it might be a better idea to do a collection of vineyard stories (from 2007-8) or even a collection of recent stories (2009-2011), ones that might be more "mature" than the earlier vignettes?

Then again I have been reading your suggestions for a coffee table book of "best photos". I like the idea but do not currently have a good "publishing solution" (read: house publisher!) for this kind of project (the self-publishing software that I am using does not include a good template for a photos-only book). 

What with the blocks and the doubts you'd think the universe was sending some kind of big hint... such as: why not go out and play in the garden instead? Or what about a Sunday drive... on Monday? or even a ditch day??? 

It certainly could be argued that books are made of whys and whatabouts... but they are also made of hours and hours of turnout.  

Back to work, now, on two more stories for this current collection. Want to join me? Get out your red pen! Here are the next two chapters:

"Poursuivre": our puppy Braise is pursued by a big bad bistro chair! Click here to proofread this story.

 "Toile": Françoise, the art store owner (you may remember reading this rerun, a month or so ago... to begin proofreading, click here.

... and many thanks to those who sent in edits for the story "Tremper"... including the suggestion to leave this one out of the collection. Anyone else think this one should go? Or can we keep this account of an arts-n-craft-challenged maman?


Comments Corner
To respond to this post, thanks for clicking here! 


roses in Orange (c) Kristin Espinasse
Between this photo and the one at the top of this letter, which do you prefer for a book-cover image? There are three more photos (at the end of Friday's post) to compare with these. Thanks for letting me know your favorite, here in the comments.

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Thanks for forwarding this post to a friend!


Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
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couler + new book project

Pink (c) Kristin Espinasse
"Pink Corners". Photo of a child's vélo and a bougainvillea taken in Ventimiglia, Italy.

couler (koo-lay) verb

    : to flow, run

Audio file: Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce these expressions: Download MP3 or Wav file

faire couler un bain = to run a bath
couler un mot à l'oreille de quelqu'un
= to drop, whisper a word in someone's ear
couler une vie heureuse = to lead a happy life
se la couler douce = to take things easy, to have a good time
ça coule de source = it's obvious, it follows naturally
faire couler de la salive = to set tongues wagging, to get people gossiping

Easy French Step-by-Step: excellent reference book for building grammar, comprehension and speaking skills.  Order here.

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

It began with Wednesday's post and today's is the same misère. I am having un tout mini—or slight—case of "bloggers block" and rather than continue suffering so many false starts (how many times have I rewritten this opening paragraph?) I'm going to just come clean and admit it: les mots ne coulent pas ce matin!

This is as good a time as any to begin editing another collection of short stories. The previous self-published book has sold 2,084 copies in the four months since it came out. The house published book, edited by Simon & Schuster, has sold somewhere around 40,000 copies since it reached bookstores in 2006. That second sales figure is modest, by house publishing standards (and one reason my offer for a "volume two" didn't convince the The Big Guys).

That's when I went back to Little Guy publishing, last November. Self-publishing may lack the perks and glamour of House publishing, but one can always balance that... by wearing a feather boa, seductive red lipstick, and an attitude! I might do well to follow my own advice... and ditch these homely pantoufles....

Unlike the house published book, the self-published edition is not available yet in Kindle (or Nook). This would be a relatively easy process... only I have not found (or taken?) the time to do it.

For this new project I have ruled out the highly ambitious "21 days or bust!" editorial calender (quelle idée c'était!). Six weeks seems to be a reasonable amount of time in which to gather and edit the nouvelles, which appeared in the 2006 editions of this French Word-A-Day journal. 

 As with the previous project, I am inviting you to participate! You will find links to the stories in upcoming posts. Please feel free to jump in with corrections. You do not need to be a grammarian or an editor to help catch the occasional coquille that pops up in these stories. A light read-through is all that is needed. If, in the reading, something seems unclear--or you find an extra virgule here or there, simply point it out in the comments box to the story in question. Here, for example is the first story in question....

Signing off now with wishes for a lovely weekend.



Comments Corner
To respond to this letter, click here. Thanks for taking the time! 


French Vocabulary

la misère = misery

un tout mini = a slight

les mots ne coulent pas ce matin! = the words aren't flowing this morning!

quelle idée c'était! = what an idea that was!

la pantoufle = house slipper

une nouvelle = short story

une coquille = typo

une virgule = comma

amicalement = yours

The road tripLe Road Trip tells the story of one idyllic French honeymoon trip, but it is also a witty handbook of tips and advice on how to thrive as a traveler, a captivating visual record with hundreds of watercolor illustrations, and a chronicle depicting the incomparable charms of being footloose in France. Armchair travelers, die-hard vagabonds, art journalists, and red wine drinkers will all find something to savor in this story. Click here for the video and reviews


Kristin Espinasse and Kathryn Hill
Kristin with Kathryn. Mom's friend Kathryn Hill joined us for our latest wine-tasting. The tasting partipants grew to nearly 20... after Jean-Marc and I talked a group of diners into joining our dégustation

  Wine tasting at Domaine Rouge-Bleu

In the center of the photo that is Karen and John Stoeckley. Check out John's art, and their B&B/Winery. To the left of Karen (and two smiles over...)  is Marilyn. She and her husband Jim have a beautiful Provence Villa Rental that you may have already noticed here.


  vineyard in Chateauneuf du Pape

How about a countryside scene (this one, from Châteauneuf-du-Pape) for the next cover? Suggestions here in the comments box.

Or maybe something more detailed... like these cozy bikes (in Orange, France)? Comment here. More "cover photos" to come...

Then again... how can anyone go wrong with sunflowers? Photo taken near Jonquières, in the Vaucluse.

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ Give $10    
♥ Give $25    
♥ Give the amount of your choice

How to say "it's a no-no" in French?

Bonifacio (c) Kristin Espinasse
"If these chairs could talk" Photo taken after last year's wine harvest... when we stole away to the restful southern coast of Corsica. 

 ça ne se fait pas (saah-neuh-seuh-fay-pah)

    : it's a no-no

Audio File & Example Sentence
Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce this sentence: Download MP3 or Wav file

Hé toutou! Faire pipi dans le bac à fleurs chez le fleuriste ça ne se fait pas! Hey dog! Tinkling in the florist's flower box is a no-no! 

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

Little Acts of Mischief

I sometimes think of her when I find myself trying to control my surroundings, every other instant of the day

I remember the seeming command she had over herself, if not her immediate environment. Beautiful in a flowy sundress and high-heeled sandals, her caramel-colored hair was twisted up off her delicate épaules, which were level despite the bumpy ground beneath her. 

She had a funny dog. I think it was a Jack Russell. I watched it trot along the cobbled trottoir there in the seaside town, perched high over the Mediterranean. As the woman and the dog advanced, so did a gaggle of eyes....

The looks the woman garnered were a mixture of admiration and amusement (l'amusement, for the dog did its best to temper the woman's graceful presence as she floated down the sidewalk unaware of her sidekick's antics).

Whether sniffing the policeman's socks or lifting its short leg beside a florist's flower box!... the terrier's little acts of mischief went entirely unnoticed by its mistress, sparing her from la comédie in which she was unwittingly starring.

The three wrinkled men on the municipal bench watched, as did the stylish dress shop owner, whose head was craned so far out of the shop... she might have dropped. The British family at the café lowered their menus for wee look-see—as did I, yes-sir-ee!

What a lovely serene smile the woman had, one the dog mirrored... as it whizzed on the boulanger's Welcome mat. 

Hidden behind a rack of cartes postales, I watched the perfectly-put-together lady and her take-it-all-apart cohort. Each enjoyed a leisurely stroll thanks to what the pretty one did not know....



This story is dedicated to my dear friend Stacy, at Sweet Life Farm, in Applegate Oregon—in loving memory of Sweet Pea—who had nothing in common with the mischievous protagonist in today's story, aside from her terrier lineage.


French Vocabulary

une épaule = shoulder

le trottoir = sidewalk

la comédie = comedy, act

le boulanger = baker

la carte postale = postcard



Postcard rack in the town of Bonifacio, Corsica.


One of our favorite vineyard visitors, Rohan, with Smokey (left) and Mama Braise, our golden retriever.


Rohan and his family have participated in a couple of our winetastings 


Rohan's dad, Jens, his mom, Vanita, and your hosts, Kristin and Jean-Marc. (These photos were taken a year or two ago.)

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
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Just a goofy tale at the beach (in Bandol!) for you today... and a little rush, which happens while trying to write on a deadline! Thanks for overlooking some of the "missing things" in this edition, not the least of which my husband's pants!!! 

impudeur (im-poo-der)

    : immodesty

(Sound file and example sentence will return on Wednesday. Sorry!)

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

Lying face down on the beach, on top of my raincoat, I am wearing jeans, a long-sleeved shirt, sunglasses, a hat, and a thick layer of sunscreen for protection. The woman down the way may be sporting a bikini, but that is no reason, I decide, for me to feel awkward or self-conscious. Après tout, it is mid April and most of the people on the beach are fully dressed, enjoying a midday picnic.

Because I can no longer tolerate the sun, I decide to enjoy the pebbly view in front of me, beneath my shadow. In addition to the smooth cailloux, the beach is host to a zillion other fascinating sea remnants including little "brushy" bits (one could make a darling broom for a doll), beer caps (not so darling), pearly-bottomed shells, dried seaweed, tiny crab claws, sea glass, and driftwood, or bois flotté

My eyes lock on a small piece of bleached bois, one that is smooth and shapely. A collection of the wooden sticks would look neat in a tall glass vase, wouldn't it? I begin hunting for another baton de bois, using the first one as a model. It turns out that this particular size (smaller than a french fry, with a nob here or there) is rare... and it becomes a challenge to locate another. I give up, returning two sticks to the ground.

Next, I see a beautiful green pebble with spots! The color seems rare... I begin hunting for another, to test the theory. It takes some searching, but soon my efforts pay off and there, in the palm of my hand is a modest collection of 7 jade-colored pebbles ranging in size from "split-pea" to "no bigger than a dried navy bean". I picture that tall glass vase, only this time it is filled with the precious pebbles. It will take many trips to the beach to fill it!

As I stare admiringly into my green palm, a moral dilemma presents itself. I begin to wonder: what if everyone on the beach has the same inkling... to gather bits of pretty things? Suddenly, in my mind's eye, there are no more shapely sticks of driftwood, no more verre de mer, or jade-colored cailloux...

Would my 7-pebbled pillage disrupt this natural setting?  

Before I can feel any more criminal—or any more suspicious (no wonder I couldn't find any more of those lovely sticks—someone else beat me to it!) my husband appears, putting an end to the current philosophical conundrum.... and in so doing, introducing another one

How, I wonder, did Jean-Marc manage to change into his bathing suit? Last I knew he was fully dressed (his swim trunks were in the sack beside me).... Because we were sitting on coats (no towels to use for the "wrap-and-switch", in which one can manage to pull on one's swimsuit whilst wearing a "modesty towel" around the waist), there was no explanation.

The mystery quickly solves itself when, oblivious to the crowd, my husband begins to change out of his swim trunks en plein air!  (Actually, he is doing this seated, as if altitude has anything to do with discretion!)

"Jean-Marc! You can't do that here! Oh-my-gosh. Oh-my-gosh!"

"Oh my gauche? or oh my droit?" my husband laughs. I almost miss his joke, so busy am I dying of embarrassment. 

I don't dare look left or right, for fear that all eyes are on us! When there is nothing left to do but laisser faire, I squeeze my own eyes shut and endure the "cultural" moment. Yes, that is all it is after all, isn't it? A matter of culture

Regarding the feared or imagined gawkers (was the beach crowd watching?), The Paris Metro Rule swiftly came to mind. The Paris Metro Rule that states Thou shalt not stare at a fellow passenger!

Granted, these were not passengers, but beach bums... who were hopefully more rule-abiding than you or I when riding the subway—hopefully they weren't peeking!


Le Coin Commentaires
Comments, corrections, and stories of your own are welcome here, in the comments box. You might also share your observations of those "immodest French moments"... or answer the question: how many treasure can one take home from the beach (are 7 pebbles too many? Your thoughts here, in the comments box.


French Vocabulary 

après tout = after all

le caillou = stone, pebble

le bois flotté = driftwood

le bâton de bois = stick of wood

le verre de mer = sea glass

en plein air = outside (in nature)

le gauche = left

le droit = right

laisser faire = to let be


Chief Grape. The only one to swim in the sea yesterday... at a calanque in Bandol. 

Forward this edition to a friend who might enjoy these photos and stories....

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
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♥ Give the amount of your choice

le frisson

Librairie (c) Kristin Espinasse
A black-and-white photo for a change and some frissons in today's edition. (Picture taken five years ago in Brignoles, during a moody balade with Mama Jules, who was trying to wean herself off cigarettes (or Nicorette, or both...). Me: Look, Mom! A bookstore. Mom: Grrrrh! The bookworm could not be distracted, not even by books or art supplies!) 

le frisson (frih-sohn)

    : shiver; shudder, thrill

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc: Download MP3 or Wav file

Je me demande si, comme moi, elle ressent des frissons en écoutant cette chanson?
I wonder if, like me, she has chills listening to this song.

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

As I drive my daughter to her friend's to stay the week, I try to put aside any feelings of sadness or annoyance or frustration. Just what am I feeling as she sits beside me--dans un monde à elle?

At once plugged in and tuned out, she is hearing the music but not hearing me. Not that I am talking.

No, I don't want to start nagging or manipulating. I don't want to say "Why do you put on earphones when you get into the car?" (nag) or "If only you would make an effort..."

Je prends sur moi. I cannot control my daughter but I can control my feelings. As I let go, I look over to the young lady beside me.

Her wheat-colored hair is now shoulder-length. I notice how the new cut, a "carré", makes her look 18... four years older. She is not wearing too much make-up. She does look lovely. She is a lovely young lady—even with earphones and wires sticking out of her ears.

I look past Jackie to the fluorescent yellow field that is speeding beside her, beyond the window. The colza is in bloom! 

"Look!" I say, unable to control excitement. 

"Quoi?" comes the deadpan response.

Too late. We've driven past the magnificent blooming field. Tant pis.

"Qu'est-ce que c'est?"


I feel my daughter's irritation and my own prickly feelings are back.

It is a two-hour drive from our house in the Vaucluse to the friend's house in the Le Gard. I am borrowing my husband's car so that I can "profiter" from the GPS... only the onboard navigator does not seem to be working. Instead of a bold line indicating the chemin, there are many bold lines indicating many chemins. I begin to voice my frustration.

"Follow the road signs," Jackie suggests.

I know her down-to-earth suggestion is a reasonable one, but I've suddenly lost faith in non-technology. 

My daughter takes off her earphones and connects her iPod to the stereo unit (how she's found the connection is beyond me. I still can't figure out where the station dial is—make that the button. Everything seems to have a button in this pushy new world).

"Ça t'embête?" Jackie asks. No, it doesn't bother me that she wants to connect her mp to the dashboard. At least we can listen to the music together—the added advantage being that I now have a live navigator:

"Follow that sign..." Jackie says.


"Straight on now..."

"Merci, ma fille!"I say, in my best impression of John Wayne-comes-to-France: May-YER-see-maah-FEE-YUH!

My girl laughs and the life inside of her is my joy... for a precious second. She returns to her technical world, lavishing all of her attention to one of two metal-and-wire devices: her iPod or her mobile phone, where she is busy texting friends.

When the song "One Cup of Coffee" comes on, I enjoy belting it out:

One cup of coffee, then I'll go...
One cup of coffee, then I'll go...

My daughter perks up. "Do you like Reggae?" 

"It's not my favorite, but I don't mind a little of it."

Jackie laughs, only, once again our connection short-circuits... one of us is back to texting, the other is looking out the window wondering what this world is coming to? And where, amidst all of these wires and wireless connections will we meet again, my daughter and I?

 "Tiens, you'll like this one," Jackie offers, unexpectedly.

As I hear the familiar lyrics, goosebumps begin to rise... Suddenly my skin is electrified. The first four words are delivered so slowly—yet my emotions burst open:

I would only be in your way
So I'll go, but I know
I'll think of you every step of the way

I begin to wonder what the French word is for these goosebumps and if my daughter is feeling them too? Does she understand the words, wishes that I wish for her?

I hope life treats you kind
And I hope you have all you've dreamed of
And I wish to you joy and happiness
But above all this I wish you love

"Là, elle va se gaver." Jackie warns me that Whitney is about to drive it home...

And I will always love you
I will always love you

Jackie and I listen to eternal truth as delivered by the late Whitney Houston, whose words transcend the virtual or technical world, they are on our skin and somewhere beneath, or within.

I have an urge to know whether or not my daughter is feeling these truths, as I am feeling them (I've got to know: does she feel goosebumps too?), only I do not want to bore her with sentimentality. I've got to let go, to live and let live—to let the generation gap do its thing as it did for the generations before me. We are just an ordinary mother and daughter facing an ordinary gap...

...and yet, something extraordinary is about to bridge that gap.... a universal truth—one that it is encapsulated inside each and every goosebump, or frisson. Only in order for her to know that truth—she's got to feel it.

And just as grace would have it, I am spared of questioning my daughter... for her next remark is proof that Love is the universal truth governing every lively cell in her body:

"Maman," Jackie looks over at me."Est-ce que tu as des frissons aussi?"

 Comments Corner
Comments, corrections, and stories of your own are welcome here, in the comments box.

  La Ciotat Kristin Espinasse

                         When she was little... and I was big in her eyes.

dans un monde à elle = in a world of her own

je prends sur moi = I'll get a grip on myself

un carré = blunt cut, a bob

quoi? = what?

tant pis = too bad

qu'est-ce que c'est = what's is it

profiter = to take advantage of

le chemin = road, way

ça t'embête? = does this bother you?

merci ma fille = thanks my girl

tiens = here

là, elle va se gaver = there she's going to give it her all

Est-ce que tu as des frissons aussi? = Mom, do you have goosebumps too?




If you would like to visit us here at our vineyard, simply reserve your seat beneath the Mulberry tree! Leave a message in the comments box and I'll get back to you. Here are the next meet-ups:

April Meet-ups

Tuesday, 17th at 4 pm

Tuesday, 24th at 4 pm

Thursday, 26th, at 4 pm (with special guests Gus Ellison and the lovely Paulette)


May Tastings:

Tuesday the 1st at 4pm

 (more meet-ups to come. Stay tuned!)

Meantime, you might enjoy this reader-submitted guide:

What to do in Aix-en-Provence? Click here to read or add suggestions.

You'll also enjoy Lynne Alderson's blog - Aixcentric


Please forward this edition to a friend who loves France! 


Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
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etre tout sucre, tout miel

Jasmine Window (c) Kristin Espinasse
Squint your eyes and you might see the whimsical warning (beneath the flowy jasmine); the door sign reads: "Attention, Chien Bizarre!"/"Watch out for Strange Dog!" (Notice the little hearts on the ironwork. Photo taken in Brignoles, while on a stroll with Mama Jules. Imaged enhanced by Picasa's free "lomo" filter.)

être tout sucre, tout miel
(to be all sugar, all honey) 

    : to be the picture of sweetness (kindness)... or to appear to be!

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc: Download MP3 or Wave file

Une personne qualifiée comme étant 'tout sucre tout miel' montre une apparence lisse et extrêmement gentille - voire trop - mais ce n'est qu'une apparence. On utilise cette expression lorsqu'on soupçonne que derrière les sourires et l'affabilité de façade se cache autre chose, un caractère ou une envie bien moins avouables.

A person who is referred to as being "all sugar all honey" exhibits a smooth and extremely kind appearance—indeed too kind—but this is only an appearance. We use this expression when we suspect that behind the smiles and the apparent graciousness, something else is hidden: a character or a desire that one perhaps would not want to admit. —French definition from


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

The Control Freak & The Honey Harvest

This is not how I imagined it to be, waking up on what might have been a relaxing samedi. My plan was to stroll into the newly clean and orderly kitchen, make a cup of coffee in the calcaire-free coffee maker, and enjoy the morning ritual from this side of smudge-free windows. The coffee... the view... what more could a reformed slacker wish or do?

So much for four weeks of spring cleaning! And the house had been coming together so nicely... My eyes locked onto the offender, my stubble-faced soul mate. There he stood at the kitchen table, surrounded by every pot and pan in our nicked and handles-bent collection. Even the oven's roasting pan had been brought out... 

All in the name of honey!

ruche honeycomb beekeeping
                          One of those sticky frames pulled from the ruche.

It appeared to be bottling time. After three years of misses, Jean-Marc now had a hit! The amateur beekeeper had finally struck liquid gold!


"Oui!" he answered, oblivious to the mess. Jean-Marc continued to hum along to a favorite song. As he hummed he scraped the sides of the sticky wooden cadres. For this, he used our biggest kitchen knife which was now encrusted with beeswax!

Le gâteau de miel! There seemed to be more of it than the honey... and whether more or less both conspired to make one great sticky mess! The shambles continued all the way over to the kitchen sink, where a host of jam, pickle, and tomato jars were draining. But were they sterile enough to hold honey? My eyes returned to the suspicious surfaces and to the floor... where golden droplets glistened in the morning sun. 

I wasn't the only one staring goggle-eyed at the sticky drops of honey across the kitchen floor: Smokey and Braise, who stood outside, noses-flattened against the kitchen window, were already drawing up a Whose-is-Whose proprietorial map. I could almost hear Braise:

"Son, I'll take the sticky sector beneath the table. You get to lick up the floor by the sink."

"Oh no you don't!" This plan, real or imagined, would not see the light of day... not if I had it my way! I felt the remnants of a stubborn will... as it welled up from within me.... 

I looked over at the honey maker. Presently he was licking his fingers

"But you can't do this that way!" I cried. There had to be a more orderly and sterile system for bottling honey! 

"Laisse-moi faire!" Jean-Marc was calm, but firm in his suggestion. 

"But I..."

"Let me handle this!" he repeated.

I looked over at Braise and Smokey, who by now were drooling beneath their window-smashed noses. 

"Laisse-le faire! Laisse-le faire!" The dogs seemed to urge, all the while their eyes shined... as brightly as those glistening honey-drops which fell glop-glop-glop spot after spot.

The next morning I dragged my feet into the kitchen. On the stove were two great casseroles. I lifted the lids... 

Just as Jean-Marc had promised, the sticky process had worked itself out, thanks to a little heat! There, in the pan, was a perfect waxen disk. Below it, pure honey!

As I stared at the miracle of miel—and the perfect order that had arisen from chaos—the words from the song that Jean-Marc had hummed the day before came to mind. As I hummed, I thought about the control freak inside of me and how, in order to break free, one might chance to be wild—wild as honey....

You can go there if you please
Wild honey
And if you go there, go with me
Wild honey

You can do just what you please
Wild honey
Yeah, just blowing in the breeze
Wild honey
Wild, wild, wild...




                   "Mon Coeur"/"My Love" Do you see the big heart in the center?....

Please forward this edition to a friend who loves French. 

Here is that honeycomb-turned-"lid" that I found in the pan, on top of the pure honey. Please put your honeycomb or beeswax project ideas (candles? furniture wax?) here, in the comments box. Jean-Marc is looking for things to do with beeswax and ways to use this precious natural "cake". Thanks! Flowers from Anne and Karen

French Vocabulary

le samedi = Saturday

calcaire = chalky, hard water deposit

la ruche = bee hive

oui = yes

le cadre = frame

la cire = wax

le gâteau de miel = honeycomb

laisse-moi faire = let me handle this

laisse-le faire = let him handle this

le miel = honey


Fran and Katie by Alex and Joanne Polner
Jean-Marc, Fran Rorie, and Katie Dyer by Alex/Joanne Polner. Alex and Joanne took this next photo, too...


Jean-marc by alex or joanne polner

Katie dyer team fur
Katie notes: Here is a recent photo of the Team. Windsor is the smiley red boy in the back.  Aslan, half brother to Nigel and Smudge, is the silly blond in the middle, and Smudge is the naughty girl in the back row. Smudge's mother, Lizzie, is in the front next to her son, Nigel, who is Smudge's littermate.


Related Stories

  1. Bobbing for Bees - Smokey gets into some stingy mischief! Click here.
  2. "The Beehive/mailbox" - a cool idea -- but not so postman friendly! Click here.
  3. "On Entertaining Angels... or Unannounced Apiculteurs" -- another lesson in hospitality. Thanks for taking the time to read this one.

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ Give $10    
♥ Give $25    
♥ Give the amount of your choice


cabanon (c) Kristin Espinasse
La Vie en Lomo. I used Picasa's free "lomo" filter on this snapshot of a favorite cabanon here in our neighborhood. Click on image to enlarge it.

cabanon (kah-bah-nohn)

    : a little cottage, or hut, or shed (for farmer's tools, for shelter)

Audio File: listen to Jean-Marc read these French words: Wav file or MP3

Qu'est-ce que c'est un cabanon? Voici nos cabanons favoris (cliquez sur ce lien)
What is a cabanon? Here are some of our favorite cabanons (click this link)  

 Pronounce It Perfectly in French - with exercises in sound discrimination and accurate sound creation. Order your copy here.

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

Steppin' Out

When Jean-Marc announced this morning that he had some livraisons à faire—in Nyons, Puymeras, and Faucon—I heard myself asking: "Mais... je peux aller avec toi?" Never mind the gray skies outside, a change of scene is always a bright thing!

But, in order to be two places at once (ici, publishing this edition--and là-bas, enjoying the drive with Chief Livreur), I'll need to offer you a re-run.

Not just any re-run. Here is the story of the magic-glittery Frenchwoman and the flour-faced Francophile. Don't miss this insightful slice-of-life (click here)--you will learn a lot more than the French definition for 'cashier'! (As a bonus I talked Jean-Marc into recording the vocabulary list for that story. Enjoy it and 'see you' on Monday!)

P.S. by the time I finished writing today's billet, I realized that a re-run was unnecessary. That said, I hope you'll still take a minute to read the other story. There won't be a cat fight scene in it, there won't even be un chat for that matter. Oh, find out for yourself!

Comments Corner
To comment on any item in this edition, please click here.

French Vocabulary

 une livraison = a delivery

à faire = to do

mais = but

je peux venir avec toi? = may I come with you?

ici = here

là-bas =there

le livreur (la livreuse) = deliveryman (deliverywoman)

amicalement = very kindly yours

un billet = post, note, short letter

un chat = cat


Braise there, in the background, sniffing the fleurs via this optical illusion. More tricks, here, in The Magician Post (featuring this very wine barrel before it--Ta-da!--became a flower pot!) Now to teach Smokey the Disappearing Tongue trick....

THE NEXT WINE-TASTING is scheduled for April 10th. Have a seat in one of those chairs (there, above Smokey's head) and let us pour you a glass of Domaine Rouge-Bleu.  Leave a message in the comments box if you can make it to Tuesday's meet-up (note: you don't have to like wine to meet with us... we've got plenty of spring water on tap! Come, sit down and enjoy a glass.)


Margaret Bean
From Chief Grape's USA Wine Tour. Margaret Bean and Jean-Marc at Corkscrew in Portland

Thanks for forwarding this edition to a friend. 

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ Give $10    
♥ Give $25    
♥ Give the amount of your choice