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Entries from September 2012


Pétanque and potager. Been planting lettuce, kale, and goji berries beside the boules court, turmeric, too! It looks like the Braise and Smokey are busy with a game now... OK, as long as they don't stop for a healthy snack! 

faciliter (fah-seel-ee-tay)

    : to ease, to make easier

Audio File: listen to the following example sentence Download MP3 or Wav file

Ma mère est là pour faciliter cette transition.
My mom is here to help ease this transition.

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

One of the reasons I wanted Mom to come visit, the week after we moved to Bandol, was so the kids and I wouldn't be alone while Jean-Marc was away at harvest. (He wanted to help Caroline and Thomas, the new owners of Domaine Rouge-Bleu during their ten day vendange).

The other reason I needed Mom here was for her ability to instantly infuse our new home and our environment with a unique essence: that of family, of love, of timelessness. Once Mom arrived it would be as though we had always been here forever, along with the French and British predecessors of this 19-century mas.

Indeed, as I hear Mom's voice echo throughout the meadow—where she is off on her morning walk with two happy dogs—it is as though I have never left home, whether that be the Arizona desert, where I grew up... or the bustling city of Marseilles, where Mom arrived in time to greet her first grandson... or the quiet village of Les Arcs-sur-Argens, where Jules came to help with the growing family, only to learn that tumors were growing inside of her. Mom literally left a piece of herself in France that time, before returning home to Mexico to have the other breast removed.

From the boules court where I am picking figs....

Figs-hunting with Smokey...


...I spy Mom exploring the ancient restanques and the future vegetable garden. Jules is wearing my old hiking boots and another of her loose ponchos (she never did have the reconstructive surgery, after her mastectomy--and hated those constrictive prosthesis bras which would gradually inch up, finishing the journey by strangling her at the neck! The ponchos and other loose-fitting clothing have become Mom's carefree solution).

I wave from beneath the figuier, shaking a fig at my fellow explorer down below. When Mom sees me she lights up, shaking a discovery or two of her own.

"Look!" Mom shouts, waving an exotic flower "the only one in the meadow". I don't have the heart to tell her that the delicate blue flower grows à gogo in a neighboring field. I watch as Mom returns in time to fill a shot glass with water and place the "rare" blue specimen (a chicory) on my desk. "Honey, always keep flowers on your desk," Mom smiles.

After the flowers, there will be gifts of pine cones ("look at the teethmarks!" Mom enthuses. "I wonder what wild animal was hungry for this one?"), and feathers (Mom loves to stick them in her hat, along with the wildflowers), and intricate leaves, "for your souvenir book," Mom suggests. In the evening I will tuck the leaves and the feathers into my journal, and do a sketch, as Mom suggests, of the little potager garden we are planting. I want to document where I've planted things--in case it all grows out of control! Meantime, lettuce, kale, rhubarb, turmeric, blueberries, gojiberries, beets, verbena, celery, and cilantro are coming up like like morning sun. A brand new day....

After sharing two decades of France with my Mom, I couldn't wait for her to be here to usher us into this next chapter of our lives. Like the opening paragraphs of a great novel, Mom is helping to set the scene of this mysterious and promising new beginning. It is her commencement as well; the start of a new year--her 66th. Happy birthday Mom!

Selected French Vocabulary

la pétanque = game of boules. See Herm's poem.

le potager = kitchen garden

boules (f)  = synonym for pétanque

la vendange =  harvest (definition, photo, and story here)

le mas = country farmhouse

une restanque = a support wall made of stones

à gogo = galore, in great quantity



Some family photos for you. There's Mom, outside with Max. Inside, that's my mother-in-law, Michèle-France, and 15-year-old Jackie.


Jean-Marc, Michèle-France, Jackie, and me.


Jules, Max, Jacques, Michèle-France, Jackie, and Jean-Marc, before serving Jackie's birthday cake.


La famille. To comment on any of these photos, click here.

My brother-in-law, Jacques.

A Message from KristiFor twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check (to this new address)
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety



What is remarkable, or kind of funny, about this sign above the window? Your guesses in the comments box. Photo taken in Toulon, where today's story takes place.

ouvrier (ew-vree-ay)

    : worker

Example Sentence:

Je ne suis qu'un simple ouvrier. I am but an ordinary working man.

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

Mom and I were in Toulon, yesterday, looking up at a giant monument when a man suddenly appeared, like a phantom.

"Do you know the story?" he quizzed, motioning to the statue above us.

I looked back at the plaque, to the dates, which corresponded to WWII. "Were you there?" I asked.

When he didn't answer right away, I worried about placing the man in the wrong generation (and over-guessing his age). Casually, I rephrased things:  "I mean, are you from here?"

A smile lit up his wrinkled face, and he had to hold onto his woolen hat as if to contain himself. Once acknowledged, his voice hushed a notch. "There is another memorial plaque, on the other side..." he pointed out. "For the men who lost their lives in 1911...."

Mom and I listened, one of us translating as the stranger told his story.

"The battleship was called "Liberté"..." he began. "It was a brand-new vessel and it was carrying explosives. But almost as soon as Liberté left the port, the cargo detonated.  The accident caused several hundred men to lose their lives."

As the stranger spoke, his light blue eyes shone through my own, the warmth carrying with it a tangible sense of that dramatic moment in time. So transported, we listened to the waves crashing against the burning boat, the cries of the matelots, and to our own beating hearts, we frozen bystanders, one hundred years in the future.

After the stranger finished his story, my eyes were gently released from the grip of his regard, and I found my vision wandering from the man's peaceful face, to his worn-out coat, to his scuffed purse and shoes. In his hand he held a feuille des soins, or receipt from a recent medical visit. 

Around his neckline there was a layer of debris. Discreetly, I tried to identify it. It was the kind of dust that could collect after a long cold night on the streets of Toulon... poussière from an industrial city shedding itself on the unfortunates, or sans domicile fixes, including schizophrenics, runaways, and drunkards.

I observed the stranger's eyes, which were bright--sober as a newborn. His mind was just as sharp, and we listened, Mom and I, as he began to tell us about his beloved Toulon, this time in verse.

Les arbres qui l'entourent... la mer qui l'embrasse....

Mom listened as I tried to translate the poetic words as fast as the poet spoke them, but I could not keep up. 

I couldn't help wondering if the beautiful rhymes were his own. "Verlaine?" I questioned. 

He shook his head, surprised. "Now, where was I... oh yes! Les arbres qui l'entourent... Toulon, ville de fleurs... Toulon..."

After the poetry came a bit of trivia: do you know about les Farons?

I nodded my head dumbly (really not knowing a thing; in fact, when he said "Faron", I thought I heard "Pharaoh", and was soon lost in Egypt... when Monsieur interrupted my daydream, offering that le Faron was a hill. Pointing to it, he added: "There is a zoo up there." ). 

Just then, I felt a poke to my side. "Ask him if he is a professor!" Mom elbowed me.

"Vous êtes un prof?"

"No, I am a simple worker," came the modest answer. "Juste un ouvrier."

His statement set my imagination on fire again, and I pictured everything from giant cranes to coal mines to dock maintenance.

But before we could find out his story, il a disparu. We watched the simple ouvrier walk away--until he reached the edge of the place de la liberté, at which point he disappeared—poof!—like a ghost. All that was left was the uncanny feeling... of having just received a privileged visit from a drowned Liberté sailor, or ancient matelot.


French Vocabulary

(Je sais, je sais... I know, I know... this story needs a vocab section. Meantime, feel free to define some of the words in today's story. Click here to add a definition to the comments box. Merci d'avance!)


In other stories: this stranger's words, "I am but a simple ouvrier," reminded me of another character we met in the town of Buis-les-Baronnies. Do you remember the last peasant?


We celebrated Jackie's 15th with my mother-in-law Michèle-France's chocolate cake. Uncle Jacques joined us, too.

If you are new to this blog, you might enjoy this mother-daughter story le frisson written last spring. You don't have to be a mom to enjoy it; if you've ever wanted desperately to connect with someone, you'll relate! Click here to read it.


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In other news, Jean-Marc received a very big package yesterday. He has once again chosen the maritime shipping container as a solution to our storage needs! The large unit is not visible from the front porch (ouf!) and the wine color almost fades into the scenery... where grapes will soon compete with the colorful horizon!

For more stories of Jean-Marc's original solutions to life's dilemmas, read Words in a French Life or Blossoming in Provence. Your book purchase is a great support to this journal. Thanks.

A Message from KristiFor twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check (to this new address)
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety

How to say "leash" in French: laisse

From Mexico to France. Mom, out walking Smokey R. Dokey along the boardwalk in St. Cyr-sur-Mer. Following our big move south, the dog leashes are still packed.... I know they're around here, somewhere. For our Sunday stroll by the sea, belts doubled as dog laisses, or leashes. (I thought to use the belts on our bathrobes, but 14-year-old Jackie said something like, "la honte!" (or how humiliating to been seen walking the dogs... with the help of terry-cloth leashes!)

une laisse (less)

    : leash

Example Sentence:

Merci de tenir vos chiens en laisse.
Please keep your dogs under control by using a leash.

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

After I finished setting up Mom's room, I stood back and had a look at the overall effect. The scene looked uncannily like that of my childhood salon, where Mom had her bookcases, a low-lying canapé, and all her favorite babioles. It is funny how we sometimes recreate, if unconsciously, cozy corners of the past. Do you think Mom will be snug and comfortable here? I put out a fresh bowl of fruit, to sweeten things.


Mom's room will revert to my office, in three week's time , when Jules returns to Mexico. Not thinking about that, now....

I'm a little slow going these days. Adjustment blues. In the kitchen I turn in circles... when suddenly there's a rap on the window. It's Mom--absolutely brimming with enthusiasm I LOVE YOUR HOME! I LOVE YOUR HOME! Mom's mood is contagious and I can't help but break out in one great smile. 

We were on our way to the la pépinière, to buy more mulch and some dill that I wanted to plant--when we got off track and ended up at the chair brocante's... we found two powder blue crapauds anglais--those cozy English chairs that one sips tea in while eating finger sandwiches (just a wild guess). "Mom, we can't drag those home." Mom: Sure we can! And so we did.

"Always keep a deck of cards out," Mom suggests. "It will liven up this corner." Mom is right, that petit coin was a little sleepy before that deck came out!

Meantime... Donne la patte. Gimme your paw, Smokey! Mom trains our golden. (Side note: see the room beyond? That's the  TV room. You can just spot one of Mom's paintings. It has already moved. We're just trying things out, Mom says, rearranging paintings, bibelots, and the rest. We're also trying out the powder blue chairs--but are considering making covers for them (Jean-Marc doesn't like the color).


 Mom and I take a break from decorating, and head upstairs (just past the TV room) to my bedroom. There's a balcony there... convenient for reaching the tree top! I pick a couple of figs for la goûter.

Mom eats les figues... washing them down with Bandol rosé! (The wonderful black recliner belonged to Maggie's father, a Scottish man, who moved into this mas in the 60's. See a photo of Maggie and Mike, who sold us their home, here). Maggie's father loved this chair. I hope he would be pleased to know Mom loves it, too. It has wheels! I'm just waiting for Mom to ask me to push her around--wheee! (The answer is non!--those wheels are not for racing.)

Jean-Marc says the crapauds are comfortable. Now I won't worry anymore about the spontaneous purchase. How much do you think the old chairs cost? Leave your best guess here, in the comments box.

Outside the cabanon de cochon, Jules is giving Smokey etiquette lessons. Mom can't speak French, but she's learned a few commands:

donne la patte (gimme your paw)
assis! = sit
couché = lie down
là-bas! = scram! (literally "(go over there!")


Jackie, left, missing her friends back in Sainte Cécile. Grandma Jules offers a sympathetic oreille...

Jean-Marc and Jules look at boats. The colorful ones, there, are known as "pointus"--they are the classic fishing vessels of yesteryear. Perfect for catching daurade or loup... but not so practical should you want to cruise over to the islands of Frioul. Do you want to visit the island of Frioul? Pack a picnic... throw in the anchor... go for a swim among the rocky island coast....


Voilà. It's time for me to think about lunch, then pick up Jackie to share it with. Au fait, here she is with Grandma Jules, shopping in Sanary-sur-Mer. Jackie didn't end up with the mustard yellow vest, but it sure looked cool on her! We didn't buy anything (on a fait du lèche-vitrines), but gathered ideas for her upcoming 15th birthday, on September 18th!

If you are new to this word journal, bienvenue! You can read more about Jules and Jackie and our Franco-American family in the books Words in a French Life and Blossoming in Provence. Thanks for reading!

French Vocabulary

le salon = living room

le canapé = sofa

le canapé-lit = sofa-bed

la babiole = knick-knack

la pépinière = plant nursery

le crapaud = toad 

le fauteuil crapaud = squat armchair

la brocante = second-hand shop

le petit coin = small corner (also toilet room)

la goûter = snack time

le cabanon = stone Provencal hut

le cochon = pig

une oreille = ear

la daurade = sea bream

le loup de mer = sea perch 

voilà = so there you have it

on a fait du lèche-vitrines = we went window shopping (literally "we licked windows")

au fait = by the way

bienvenue! = welcome!

ça y est = that's it


Ça y est. Jackie is the tallest female in our house! To comment on any of the photos or items in this edition, thanks for using this link.

Mom got the cool belt-leash (the leather one, with fringe. I got stuck with the nerdy one--that looks like a tie... trying to look like a belt... trying to look like a leash.)

A Message from KristiFor twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check (to this new address)
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


A kind of borie (there is a well inside) exists peacefully in the field above us, here in our new domain--where olive trees grow. Beyond, Jean-Marc will plant grapes, appellation Bandol. He'll tell you about that later. Today, read a letter from the new owners of Domaine Rouge-Bleu! The story column follows.

la fourmi (for-me)

    : ant

More fourmi terms, expressions, and whatnots (add your own in the comments box):

l'Homme-Fourmi = Ant Man, a superhero
faire un travail de fourmis = to do a job meticulously well
la Cigale et la fourmis = The Cicada and the Ant (read the famous fable in French and in English) 
avoir des fourmis dans les jambes
 = to be restless (antsy), wanting to move on; also, to have a prickling sensation in the legs or, dans les bras (in the arms)

Reverse dictionary:
to have ants in one's pants = ne pas tenir en place 

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc read the following sentence, from Wikipedia: Download MP3 or Wav file 

La fourmi d'Argentine(Linepithema humile),originaire d'Amérique du Sud, forme une supercolonie qui va des côtes italiennes aux côtes espagnoles en passant par la France. The Argentinian ant, originating from South America, makes up a supercolony that goes from the Italian coast to the Spanish coast, passing through France.

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

Aimless—now there might have been a good word of the day... but for the ants! And, anyway, instead of focusing on my current weakness (floundering), I'd do better to turn my eyes toward another's strength: that of the Argentinian fourmi.

La fourmi d'Argentine, with which we share our new environment, is anything but aimless. Watch them trail up my nightstand, about to circle the rim of my tea cup (is it the miel they're after?); see them scale the sack of croquettes de chien—to Smokey and Braise's dismay! Notice the tickling sensation as they march over your eyelids, at naptime. Gently reach up and brush them away. They're harmless enough (they don't bite).

Observe how they advance, nose-to-tail, neatly along the outdoor clothesline. I tried plucking them off one by one—tiny things!—only to give in by throwing the sheets, the shirts, the jeans and the socks right over them.  (Sounds mean but I knew they'd bounce back.) Returning several hours later to collect the dried laundry, I see the invaders have lost no time re-establishing their queue along the tops of the flung sheets. I have to brush them off as I fold the laundry, there on a table beneath a wise old olivier. (Do olive trees snicker? or is that just the rustling of branches?) Invariably, a dozen or so ants hold on, no matter how wildly I shake the linens, and are so carried into the house to be transferred into our sock drawers and our armoires. For a time the ant-agonists will be dispersed and in the dark. This much we have in common.

This time last year I had no idea our little colony would be moving. The harvest ended, autumn, too, and at the start of the new year my husband admitted he wanted, needed rather, to move on. I was very unhappy, at the time, about this decision. But it happened fast as that, fast as my swooping up those ant-laden sheets and carrying them into the house with the dried socks, the jeans and things. 

*   *   *

There in the tiroirs and the armoires, squashed between the newly-dried linens, the ants are disoriented—but quickly working themselves back into formation. Jean-Marc is too. He's got a new permit to grow vines, this time appellation Bandol, and he's quickly re-establishing his personal and professional contacts after leaving the area 17 years ago, when our son was not yet 6 months old.

I should be so industrious. Instead I avoid my computer station and wonder, instead, What I will do today? In which direction do I set out? 

If I were to opt, this morning, to march along the clothesline... and you, dear reader, were to opt to throw a sheet over me, I might just lie peacefully beneath it--grateful for the empêchement, or obstacle. (I could teach this trick to the ants!)

Not to sound sad or even regretful--oh no! I am enjoying this new environment very much--how quickly it now feels like home! And I am relieved by this current break from the thrice-weekly newsletter, which, apart from the storm it takes to create it, takes up a lot of time to maintain.

This break is giving me more time with my family--especially my daughter, who is having a harder time than anticipated integrating into a new school. As for Max, the one who was supposed to be depressed by the move, he is doing fine. He's signed up for boxing in Bandol and he is eyeing the girls at school! 

Tomorrow my Mom arrives, clad in Frida. That ought to shake things up. See you next week with the scoop. Meantime, here's another view of that cape--at the end of this post.



 To leave a comment, please click here. Thanks for your positive letters and comments. We will try to answer many of your questions in the upcoming posts!


  Bar toutous

The day of the double-signing we gathered, afterward, at the new house. Almost everyone involved in the transactions was present: our buyers, Caroline and Thomas, our sellers, Maggie and Michael, our notaire, the Safer representatives, and our realtor. It was a unique moment!

We are so grateful to Maggie and Michael Moss, and to Maggie's brother, Ian, for allowing us to buy their home--after collecting memories there for nearly half a century.

Jean-Marc opened one of those big bottles of champagne...

Another view of that borie that we saw in the opening photo. Our home is just below, to the right. We might plant fruit trees in this spot. What to you think? They might mingle with the fig trees there.

One of the fun gifts that Maggie and Mike and Ian left was a well organized store room. I delight in returning everything to its place, each time I use something new. More photos to come.

The balcony off our bedroom looks over the oliveraie. The Mediterranean forest is alive, this morning, with hunters. I think I'll be driving Jackie to school, instead of taking the little path beside the forest. Yesterday, the sound of gunfire began when we were half-way to school, and I had to sing all the way home "je passe... je passe, la-la-la... JE PASSE!" I'm passing by, I'm passing by--la-la-la--I'M PASSING BY!

Jackie, swinging from the fig tree outside our home, is doing much better. The kids at her school are so warm and welcoming. And she loves her class, feels so fortunate! It's just that she really really misses her friends. The tears just won't stop flowing. "You are such a good friend!" I tell her. It cheers her and she is looking forward to showing her longtime friends around. Always look forward, sweet girl!

To comment on any item in this edition, or to correct something, please click here. Thanks. Do you know anyone who might enjoy these stories from France? Please forward this post, which includes this sign-up link.

*    *    *

An Update on Domaine Rouge-Bleu, which we sold last month to a wonderful Franco-Australian couple. Meet Caroline and Thomas, below, and be sure to subscribe to their Domaine Rouge-Bleu Facebook page  (click here) to keep up with their first year on the vineyard--may many more follow! 

Bonjour a tous! Hello all!

Merci to Kristi for posting this little message allowing us to say a warm hello and assure you all that Domaine Rouge Bleu shall continue with the same spirit that it was given by Jean-Marc and Kristi, Max and Jackie, Braise and Smokey, and by you all, whether you have been to visit, tasted a bottle, helped with les vendanges or followed the experiences here on French Word-A-Day.

We shall continue to host tastings underneath the mulberry tree, starting with Saturday 22nd September at 4.30pm (this will be in the middle of the harvest, so you can see the winery in action). Also, watch out for a re-vamped website (coming soon). Meanwhile, feel free to contact us via email for any more information:, or

Finally, bonne chance to la famille Espinasse for their exciting new life by the sea, and thank you for entrusting us with this wonderful place. We will miss you in Sainte Cecile!

Caroline & Thomas

Don't miss Caroline and Thomas's Domaine Rouge-Bleu Facebook page -- with photos and updates about their exciting vineyard adventure.


A Message from KristiFor twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check (to this new address)
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


0812 19-001
Mas des Brun, where we moved to last week.... and where the seagulls sing (or maybe that's the neighbor's chickens?) Photo by Michael Moss, taken in December 2008 after an exceptionally rainy November (we hear the grass is not usually this green!)

s'installer (san-stal-ay)

    : to settle in

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc read the following sentence, in French: Download MP3 or Wav file

On s'installe tout doucement au bord de la mer. We're slowly settling in beside the sea.


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

It's day six at our new* home and we are settling in nicely. On s'installe tout doucement, I keep reminding Jean-Marc, who seems to want to have every box unloaded hier, yesterday. I understand his excitement, but I also know about the need for some endurance: some sprinting, a little jogging, a bit of catch-your-breath walking—and we'll soon make it to the finish line. Then we can twiddle our thumbs.

After the initial flurry to get each major item in its place (the kids' beds, the armoirs, the canapé, nightstands, dogs, and télé, we are now taking our time to déballer the rest. As I type, Jean-Marc continues a steady stream of industriousness: putting in wifi receptors, hooking up the telephones and, just now, dangling over the balcony to prune a giant, fruit-laden figuier. I watch as he takes down just enough branches to reveal a Mediterranean mosaic: from our bedroom window, I now see an olive tree, a cypress, an amandier, and several pines. Soon we'll see the meadow with more centuries-old oliviers, in groves.

Walking Jackie halfway to school this morning, I noticed the ground outside is covered with pine needles. The scent brings me back to my childhood, to weekends spent at Kohl's ranch in Arizona. Exploring these new stomping grounds, just as I explored the Arizona forest, I am as delighted as that 9-year-old, by the unexpected discoveries: the thousands of asparagus that carpet this Mediterranean floor (hello les omelettes d'aspèrges)—and there are enough fallen leaves from the old olive trees to start a mulch factory (oh happy potager! But do olive leaves make good kitchen garden soil? Maybe the fig leaves would be better... I see Jean-Marc has built piles of them!).

Another bright discovery is all the cactus growing here. After ignoring the nutritional value of those cactus pears that dotted the desert landscaping of my enfance, I can now experiment in the kitchen with the figues de barbarie that are nestled in around our new property (a YouTube search reveals that the cactus pads are edible too. Let's make nopales stew or even cactus couscous!). Having learned the hard way, I will wear gloves this time, when harvesting—to avoid being stabbed by a thousand invisible, hair-thin needles. It was no fun tossing and turning, during a noon time nap, only to discover the needles had followed me all the way to bed. Aïe aïe aïe!

Trial and error. It is all part of the adaption process. Off now to harvest some cactus for lunch. Will wear gloves this time.


 * "new" home: this mas dates back to 1875.

 French Vocabulary

on s'installe tout doucement = we're slowly settling in

hier = yesterday

le canapé = sofa, couch

la télé = TV

déballer = unpack

le figuier = fig tree

un amandier = almond tree

un olivier = olive tree

une omelette = omelet

une asperge = asparagus

le potager = kitchen garden

une enfance = childhood

la figue de barbarie = cactus pear

nopales = a vegetable made from the pads of a prickly pear cactus

aïe aïe aïe = ow ow ow


How are the dogs getting along? Just fine! They sleep inside at night. By day, they have good shelter in this former cabanon de cochon, or pig hut. Don't tell Braise, but we'd love to put a few chickens there...

Jean-Marc, pruning the figue tree.

Mom's paintings need to be hung. Meantime, they look like a work of art sitting there on an old trunk.


Some chaos and our 17-year-old, who started school today. He'll be at the lycée in la Ciotat. 

The kitchen and some swiss chard, or blette. There are maraîchers on every corner! Have you ever had a swiss chard smoothie?

A yellow canary melon, some roasted peppers, and a few thirsty dogs drinking from their gamelles.

Jean-Marc and Jackie preparing for a game of boules. Smokey and Braise looking on.

Bar toutous
Thanks, Caroline, for taking this picture of the ceremonial "opening of the new house". Caroline and Thomas, who bought our home in Ste. Cécile, were with us on this special day. Handing me the keys, were Maggie and Michael Moss, who sold us this memory-filled home. It was a tearful and exciting moment and I am so happy these women thought to make a ceremony of it, for I would not have thought to. Thanks again Caroline and Maggie! Michael Moss also took photos of this scene, as well as the gorgeous opening photo, at the top of this post.

A Message from KristiFor twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.

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