Bike in Puymeras (c) Kristin Espinasse

France is on the road again, with a new Président de la République française, though some wonder where we are headed. Photo taken at le Girocèdre restaurant, in Puyméras

mésaventure (mayz-avohn-tewhr)

    : mishap, mischance, misadventure

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

Almost as soon as our new "France United" president was elected, things fell apart here at home. The painful mésaventure happened last night, here in our kitchen. As certain accidents go, it was both bizarre and comical (with all due respect to the injured one).

Jean-Marc had opened the kitchen cupboard to check on the new mousetrap he had set, using a big hunk of Munster* for the tempting appât. I don't like cruel mousetraps or the fact that I—having unwittingly shopped for the cheese—have contributed to a souris's demise , so it should have come as a relief to learn that the mouse got away. As it was, I was unaware of the mouse's luck or that Jean-Marc had set another trap (the details of the accident would soon be revealed as we sped to the emergency room...).

From my vantage point, I saw a man opening a cupboard door, as if to toss something into the recycle bin beyond. Nothing unusual apart from the high-pitched scream that followed:


My first thought was that Jean-Marc had pinched his finger while shutting the cabinet door (happens to me from time to time only I never scream like that!) 

"Est-ce que ça-va, Cheri?" I asked, feeling somewhat smug about my own ability to tolerate pain. 

AÏE AÏE AÏE! "C'est pas vrai!" Jean-Marc cried. "I've dislocated my shoulder again!" 

The freak accident happened when Jean-Marc went to reach for the cheeseless trap. The mouse had succeeded in getting l'appât, leaving the trap springily intact. As Jean-Marc reached for it it snapped. Startled from the snapping he jumped, yanking his arm back before his finger got caught in the apparatus. It was the unusual jerking movement that caused his already troubled shoulder to dislocate.

After three hours at les urgences in Orange, Jean-Marc woke from his morphine-induced sleep. Like the previous visit, it took four assistants to put his shoulder back into place.

At two-thirty a.m. we pulled into our driveway. The crickets were singing beneath the bright moon which lighted the path to our front door. As we walked, I looked over at my one-armed man, whose upper body was wrapped in a tight elastic bandage. 

In contrast to the peaceful night, my mind raced. I felt that familiar tightening sensation in my throat. The alarm would sound in three hours' time and the race would begin again: this time without a second driver (to chauffeur the kids back and forth), without a bottler (we have 8,000 units of wine to bottle this week) and without an expressive speaker (Tuesday's wine-tasting has grown to 30 guests!).

On second thought, knowing my husband he will be just as eloquent, even with only one arm to wave around while talking wine. Up to me to refill glasses 120 times—should he decide to serve 4 wines!

"Tout se passera bien. Ne t'inquiète pas," Jean-Marc offered, as I shared my soucis. To eloquence I think we can add that he's got terrific reassurance!

Bon rétablissement, Chief Grape!


Comments Corner

To respond to this story or to any item in this letter, thanks for using the comments box.

If you like, you can read about the previous shoulder dislocation... and the one before that, too! 

French Vocabulary

la mésaventure = mishap

l'appât (m) = bait

la souris = mouse

aïe!  = ouch! ow!

est-ce que ça-va cheri? = are you okay, dear?

c'est pas vrai! (ce n'est pas vrai) = it can't be true!

 les urgences = the emergency room

les soucis = worries

Tout se passera bien. Ne t'inquiète pas = Everything will work out fine. Don't worry.

bon rétablissement! = get well soon!


*Did you know?

*The name "Munster" comes from the word "monastère" (monastery), the peasants having taken the habit of paying part of their taxes to the Ducs of Lorraine, by giving up some of their cheese.

Le nom de « Munster » vient du mot « monastère », les paysans ayant pris l'habitude de régler une partie de leurs impôts aux ducs de Lorraine en livrant ce fromage. --from French Wikipedia


  Wash-n-Dry (c) Kristin Espinasse
"The wash and dry cycles in Provence". Photo taken in Puyméras.

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


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Bill Facker

Ah .. finally first to post! A bonus of enjoying Versailles. Sorry about JM's Mouse-mis-adventure. How is it those little monsters always seem to win in the end!








Michael Cavender

A fine slice of daily life containing the essential elements needed for a good fiction story: a simple act undertaken innocently that cascades into unexpected adventure that tests the protagonist's character.
Keep up les petit histoires; I love them.


It is a little dab of your precious peanut butter that will catch the mice.

Bill Facker

Aloha Jules .. thanks so much for the compliment AND the hug! Looking forward to a visit with your St.Cecile loved ones later in the week. Vaya con Dios

Bill Facker

May I recant .. I don't really think Mice are Monsters .. more like obnoxious people who are blessed to be born cute .. they garner just enough empathetic response that we allow them to slide through life ... and steal our cheese .. just sayin' :)

David Simmons

The results of surgery to prevent recurrent dislocation of the shoulder are excellent. Unless some contraindications exists, your husband should at least consider surgical treatment for his shoulder.

Also, if it's an anterior dislocation, as an alternative, you could learn to put it back. It would be pretty easy to teach you and often, if you get to it right away, the patient doesn't even need medication. The key elements are a patient who is capable of relaxing and a therapist who is willing to try.

Cheryl in STL

Remettez-vous vite, Jean-Marc!!

Kristin Espinasse

Mom, thanks for the wise words. I will try to listen!

Bill, looking forward to seeing you Friday!

Michael, your story feedback is most encouraging. I was not going to post today. Glad to have made the effort!

Betty, le beurre de cacahuètes -- I better not tell Jean-Marc!

David, thanks for your input. Yes, Jean-Marc needs this surgery... he just has not taken the time to do it (he unscheduled the surgery that he was supposed to have two years ago!). Interesting to read about the possibility of helping him to put his shoulder back (for an
anterior dislocation ). Although, after learning that it took 5 assistance the previous time -- and 4 this time -- I think it must be a non-anterior dislocation. I will bug him about the surgery!

Thanks, Cheryl, and to every one for the Get Well messages!

Kristin Espinasse

Michael, thanks again for your helpful words on story-writing. I think you have succeeded, in a nutshell, of helping me to understand the often complicated-to-me elements of fiction-writing. Off to copy down your note and think about the possibilities! 

Karen Whitcome  (Towson, Md)

I'm imagining the mouse back with his family, high-five-ing (or high-three-ing?) everyone - but at poor J.M.'s painful expense. That has to be sooo very painful. I'm sorry to hear this again and I truly feel the weight of those duties awaiting you.

I wish I had a Super-Woman cape to fly over to be your helper until he's mended. Bon courage!

I stumbled across a site I wanted to share with your readers. It helps with learning the language because you can easily switch between French and English:


Sorry to hear about Jean Marc's shoulder. I can't imagine having repeat dislocations like that. We love le Girocèdre restaurant in Puyméras and go everytime we are in Sablet.

Sarah LaBelle

Well, you will remember this election night, more than most, I am sure.

The mice in my life were almost never caught by traps. Plus, what did I want with a trapped mouse? Success came with a product sold in the US as D-Con. Little cardboard boxes of pellets that the mice eat, and then disappear. If there is worry of other animals eating the through the boxes, fancier plastic boxes that let only mice in work well.

Mice in the kitchen, yuck!

Michael is right about the story. Glad you were alert enough to write it.


Kristi, I was sure this story was going to involve a broken finger or two. I don't know which is more painful, of the two. I hope your Love's shoulder repairs quickly.
Wonderfully painted story!!

If your serious about aiding the mouse's exit from your cupboard, Rusty told us peanutnut butter seems to works better than cheese. Be darned if he wasn't right, LOL


Sushil from Mauritius

Hello Kristin,
Sorry to read about Jean-Marc's shoulder. To echo what David, above, wrote, it really is not too difficult to learn how to self-reduce a shoulder dislocation. The anterior type is, by far, the commonest, and the movement you described would most likely have caused an anterior dislocation. A balled-up towel or a fist in the armpit and a lot of muscle relaxation is needed; the maneuvers themselves are easily learned.
Surgery would, of course, prevent recurrence (something that seems to happen at the most inconvenient of times!)
I'm not sure whether this story is for the present book or a future one, but here are a couple of minor edits:
"rétablissement" is misspelt in the last sentence.
"8,000 units of wine to create (crate?) this week"
Best wishes to Jean-Marc
-and you.

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Sushil, for the should fix tip (I will look into it) and for the edits. I had hoped to post another story for the current project; your edits for this future book make me feel less guilty about slacking off on my goals! What is important is to keep moving (and necessary breaks, when needed)! Off to incorporate these edits (note: re creating bottles, I should have said *8000 units to bottle*; I was trying to avoid repeating the same word, I think.

Karen, thanks for the link -- great site!

Missy, thanks for a dear Uncle Rusty story! Please hug Aunt Betty for me and another hug for you and one for Janet, too!


so so sorry to hear of this issue--i could feel the pain in your words. hope he has a quick recovery . i have a mouse problem in i live in the woods--they cant resist peanut butter-so save your great cheese for you. thanks for all your work-always enjoy this taste of france.

Julie F in St. Louis, MO

Je suis desolée pour votre mésaventure. Good wishes to both you and Jean Marc during this recovery. If it's any help, this is a day on my blog where I had listed you as one of my blogging models (or rather Words in a French Life because I hadn't yet learned about your blog).

Rebecca Q. T. in Baltimore

Oh no! How painful... poor Chief Grape. I'm sure you'll pull it all off together somehow!

Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR

Bonjour Kristin,

Je suis desolee pour Jean Marc & la souris!

This story is funny, dramatic & charming. I love it.

I agree with Bill's post: ..... mice are annoying, but also cute.

a votre sante!

Marlane ONeill

Kristin - Why don't you get a cat?? They make mice disappear in a jiffy!


Please tell Jean-Marc I hope his shoulder feels better really soon. Hope your whole body isn't aching after the week you have in front of you. You will be in my prayes that all works out well. Sorry I haven't been editing as before. This is the last week I volunteer at school, so I should have more time. It has been a full time job. I only mentioned le beurre de cacahuètes as I was dashing out of the house this morning. Happy bottling!

Suzanne, Monroe Twp., NJ

Pauvre, Jean-Marc. I hope the pain dissipates soon. And good luck to you this week with the extra work. Hopefully you won't be bottling the wine without help!

Lisa A.,Los Angeles, CA

I have to agree, you must use peanut butter...they like it and get stuck in it. I got 5 that way in our cabin, saved them and returned them to the woods alive. And, one little one actually just walked onto my broom all by it's self to be carried out like a little prince. My friend called me the "mouse whisperer"...hahahahaha :) I just talked to it like it was a little dog and "Voilà" came to me.

I hope Jean-Marc feels better soon! Hugs!

Pat, Roanoke, VA

Hope J-M is feeling better soon and best wishes for the bottling. K, seems la souris created les soucis; a little smidgen of peanut butter will more likely catch the culprit. Doesn't take much.

Lisa A.,Los Angeles, CA

...I have a typo...don't look at it...hahahaha (it's...should have been itself). Sorry. :)


Get well soon Jean Marc!
P.S. I really loved the picture taken in Puymeras! Beautiful!


All the best to Jean-Marc for a quick recovery. It's hard to imagine how painful that must have been. And all the best to you, Kristin, for taking over. And all the while a little mouse is feasting on your good cheese! I hope you can round up some help for the upcoming wine tasting. How I wish I was there!!!


I know that pain! 120 glasses to fill? Where are the helpers (teenagers when you need them?) I know that all will be well--that is the only choice we have in life: knowing that all will be well. Blessings. Mary


Hi dear Kristin,
We send our prayers to you and Jean-Marc.
Wishing him to feel better soon. Know his loving family is giving him lots of TLC!
The mouse?
Well,they're cute but wow,so destructive.
And carry disease. Hard to bring yourself to choose: them or us! (this is from a woman who allowed two families of mice in our garage because I felt sorry for them!)
Such a wonderfully written story (as always!)You gave us smiles even through your husband's painful injury.
Thank you!!!
Love, Natalia XO

L. M. Davies

Ouch! Please give Jean-Marc our sympathies! Bad enough to have mice without them causing injury. As for us, I always hated those spring traps, not the least because I had no desire to deal with dead mice -- I just wanted them out of my house. Best of luck with both your challenges! Sounds like you're getting lots of ideas from these comments.
All the best,

Cynthia Lewis in Salisbury, Eastern Shore of Maryland

So very sorry that Jean-Marc is having such pain with his shoulder again. I hope that all goes well this week at your home; there never is a convenient time for ailments in busy households. My best wishes for each of you. Thanks for sharing your eloquent thoughts. Bises, Cynthia P.S. The moon did its best to guide you to your door early this morning because it is closer to earth than usual. (I don't know exact figures.)

Lee AAdams

Cher Kristin, Maureen et Moi would be glad to help with the tasting, at least we could pour!!?
See you tomorrow,
Hugs Lee & Maureen

Chief Grape

Thanks for all your thoughtful words . My shoulder is back on track. I was even able to use it to drive the tractor and open a bottle of wine.

anne wirth

Get well wishes to Jean Marc! Wish you could mobilize your wine tasting groups to help with the bottling.
Cats are great as mousers but what would Smokey and Braise think?

Janine Cortell

Pauvre Jean Marc:
What a lousy mouse!! My Maine Coon cat caught a mouse today and was so proud. You need to get a big cat. Get well soon. Janine

Stacy ~ Sweet Life Farm ~ Applegate, Oregon

Oh, Kristi, love your way of story telling! Please excuse my absence from the comments corner, though I’ve been reading bits and pieces of your posts as I can fit them in. First, sorry to hear of Jean-Marc’s re-injury! Ouch! Second, you so know how to entertain and keep me smiling in spite of the mishaps!

Keep a smile on your face and good luck this week!

K from TN

So sorry about Jean Marc's shoulder, and so glad to read his post that he is better! Who would have thought one little mouse could be the source of so much trouble? I agree that the best bait is peanut butter. However, I agree with Marlane that the very best solution is to get a cat! A few years ago my husband and I lived in a rural area where field mice were a definite problem. Traps, (which are cruel) but the alternative of being victim of mouse overrun was not acceptable. just were not keeping up. We adopted a stray cat and within three months or no evidence of even a single mouse.
Just be warned our affectionate, sweet natured cat liked to bring her dead prey to the sliding door in the den and dump them on the deck as a "love offering", which my husband had to dispose of - I refused to touch the mice, to his amusement and the cat's undoubted confusion!

Jackie Smith

Hey Kristi, where was that cat (pictured at the end of very entertaining anecdote) when needed the most? Would Smokey and Braise not tolerate a feline in their domicile? Great story and best wishes for JM's relocation of his shoulder!


others have beat me to it, but I'm going to echo the advice to use peanut butter. Rodents find it irresistible. Also I find it helpful to make use tape to make a small cardboard box (more like a tunnel) so there is only one way into the trap, preventing the rodent from nibbling away at the bait from the side.

Susan Close

Je suis desolee Jean Marc. Many years ago we experienced having to get rid of mice in our was horrible when one got caught in the trap. The little critters loved the cheddar cheese. The hardware guy couldn't understand why I kept coming back to buy more traps .. he advised me to take the dead mice off the trap and reuse it.... AIE AIE AIE - can you believe that.

Good luck with your petit souris! Jean Marc I hope you feel better real soon...

David Simmons


It's David again, a retired orthopedic surgeon, who got interested in the field because a college friend with recurrent dislocations taught him how to reduce his shoulder.

If one gets to the dislocation quickly, bending the elbow to 90 degrees in front of the chest and using the forearm as a lever, one can slowly, gently rotate the upper arm to the outside until the shoulder slips back in. It may take a few minutes and the patient may not feel it happen, but the pain disappears and a smile comes out. It is particularly useful in recurrent dislocators because the value of relaxing and getting it done.

I spent one to two weeks a year for 25+ years at the bottom of a large ski mountain in Vermont. We had one, two, or more shoulder dislocations come in almost every day, and this technique was practically foolproof. We did not medicate the patients, and the medical students and nurses passing through easily learned the technique.

If you are interested, send me an email, and I'll see if i can locate a video online that demonstrates the technique.

Il ne s'agit que de vouloir, mais il faut que le patient (Marc) et la thérapeute (Vous) en aient.


Carol Squires

I am so sorry to hear of Jean-Marc's shoulder dislocatiion. I hope he is getting much stronger every day.
Centennial, CO USA

Priscilla Fleming Vayda

Glad to hear that Jean Marc is better ... being able to drive a tractor and open wine are two very positive steps. And speaking of the positive, if I may, I would like to make a comment on Kristin's writing style. One of the things that I like best is that she has her own flow, her own way of telling a story and I would hate to see her become a stylized writer, or a predictable writer. So Kristin, I would say to keep doing what you are doing, telling stories of your life, of your family! You are not afraid of seeming vulnerable and that adds both credibility and a sense of inner strength to your writing. Keep it up! Priscilla

Ronni Lester Ebbers

Great story. Hope Jean-Marc heals quickly.
Seems, if the comments above tell a tale, I'm reading this sometime later than I thought.


Ronni Lester Ebbers


Thanks for the wine info. Was in touch with Robert Walter who was very helpful. Seems we cannot here in NC buy wine from him directly. We are speaking with some folks who have a restaurant, and one at a country club to see if they would receive the wine for us, thus keeping all legal and aboveboard.

We look forward to hearing from Robert, and mostly to receiving the wine.


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