Video for Aunt Liddy!
charming way to say "eye-candy" in French

Need encouragement? How to say "If at first you don't succeed try try again"

saint-peray cornas domaine chaboud wine barrel Les bouteilles (c) Kristin Espinasse
Thank you for your encouraging feedback on the recent video I made with Smokey. But after trying and failing to make a follow up recording, I'm wondering if I should just stick to photography (today's pic taken on our Rhone river cruise) instead! In times like these, I find the following saying to be particularly reassuring: 

dix fois sur le métier, remettre son ouvrage!
    : if at first you don't succeed, try try again!

(a second translation follows. See the audio section, below)


Audio File: listen to Jean-Marc read the example sentences: Download MP3 or Wav file

Dix fois sur le métier, remettre son ouvrage.
If at first you don't succeed, try try again.

Note: sometimes "vingt fois" is used. I found this example at

Nous devons mettre en pratique la maxime bien connue de Boileau, « Vingt fois sur le métier remettez votre ouvrage », c'est-à-dire revenir inlassablement à la tâche en multipliant les occasions de faire passer les messages. We must apply the well-known maxim of Boileau: "go back to your work again," that is, keep at your task tirelessly and take every opportunity to get the message across.

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

On The Workings of Inspiration

Saturday afternoon, during a restless and agitated sieste, I began to sense some kind of pull coming from within. Next, it felt as though invisible fingers had wrapped around me and were now carrying me out of my bed and over to my desk.

There, I began searching wildly for my video camera. Incredibly I found it, only to rush around trying to find a stable surface on which to set it, and so begin recording the message that was bubbling out from deep within. 

But each time I steadied the camera (on a chair or on the bed or par terre) it tipped and fell over.

Va dehors... I continued to follow the curious inner-urging, which led me down the dirt path opposite the leafy potager, past the clothesline, and over to the cabanon.

Along the way, I picked up a plastic laundry basket, already calculating the height at which I would need to place the camera. I automatically grabbed a picnic chair, in passing.

Now facing the stone wall of the shed, the camera steadied on the laundry basket, which teetered over the chair, I quickly hit "record".... 

Next I hurried around to the other side of the lens. 
Smokey followed, until we were both posed before the camera like a couple of animated puppets, brought to life by the artist behind the scene.

After only one take, the recording was a relative success (not counting the lost footage, when the camera ran out of space), so much so that Smokey and I began to entertain visions of the next Cannes film festival, where we fancied ourselves strolling the red carpet with the likes of Jean Dujardin.

Not wasting a moment, Smokey and I set out to top our first recording. Cannes here we come! Only this time, when the camera began rolling, calamity struck.

The puppets petered out! 

And so it was that, without the great puppet master, Inspiration, the two self-appointed starlets hung heavy from the strings that once supported them.

Across the path, over on the clothesline, the laundry hung in much the same way. And so I got up and went to collect it. 


Post note: the question now is, do we wait for inspiration in order to carry out our artistic pursuits?

If I waited for inspiration each time I set out to write, I would not write very many stories (today, for example, was a total no-inspiration day... a day in which I wanted to crawl back under the covers, and rot there).

But my motto has always been "don't wait for inspiration! Keep plugging away! Work past the difficulty." While this advice is good for writing, it may not work for filming—a medium which is much less forgiving.

French Vocabulary

la sieste = nap
par terre = on the floor
va dehors = go outside
le potager = kitchen garden
le cabanon = stone shack, or hut


"Maybe next time we should wear wigs?" Smokey suggests.... photo taken in Avignon

 NEWS! I am excited to be featured in Ann Mah's Tuesday Night Dinner column. It will be published today, so please check back, via this link, to see if the interview has been posted. You'll learn about what a typical evening mealtime is like here at our place!

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

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Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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Hey, Kristi! Great article, and so timely. I've been trying (no, make that procrastinating) to get down to doing some personal writing, urged on by my best friend here, who wants to edit for me. When I was at art school and felt devoid once of ideas, my supervisor said, "just do something!". Pressured, I began, and sure enough, just the act of putting myself in gear, I gained momentum and did my best work of the year. Few realise that it isn't as much inspiration as determination, passion, and dedication -- and, of course, discipline -- that are at the base of creativity, something which you have certainly discovered and mastered (for us women, is it instead "mistressed"?). Bravo, keep trying your videos, perhaps scripted or prompted, and thanks for yanking me back on track. Bisous! Cathy


Love to read and see you and Smokey in action! Even just a few minutes it takes me out of my day and brings a smile to my face....and then gets me back to my day! Thanks!


Thanks, Kristin! There is definitely food for thought here.

I've been working on my book for years - writing a bit here and there as the mood hits me. Whether it ever gets published is immaterial. It's really more a documentation of events in my life.

I find that I am most inspired when I am in France because much of the material relates to my love for the country and my desire to move there. At the same time, I write constantly to friends and am inspired as I do. Sometimes I copy these messages and file them away perhaps to be incorporated into my book one day.

The bottom line is, I guess, to keep plugging along because one will get a lot farther and perhaps realize the dream. Thank you for this encouragement!

Keep up your wonderful work, Kristin. YOU are inspiring!

Warm regards,


Lolly Golden

Please don't give up on the video!!!It was so great with you and Smokey. I loved that you had to speak French for him to understand.
Don't give up!!!


Your post was so funny, and so true. Just seeing those couple of minutes of you and Smokey in your last post brightened my day, so I do hope more films are in your future!

And I'm thrilled you are in Ann Mah's blog today! I love her blog, and her Tuesday Night Dinner has been the source of some great meals for our family. How fun now to see two of my favorite blog writers together--and to catch a glimpse of your family mealtimes! (I haven't checked it but will soon.)

Sending hugs from So. Cal. :)

Janice Jones

Hi Kristi!
I've been reading your articles for some time and enjoying following your introspections. Inspiration vs momentum or motivation? I'm 62 yrs young and am constantly amazed when I see that number associated with "me." I find myself too often thinking the "it's too late" refrain. I know this isn't necessarily true, but my heart keeps gravitating back to it. My mind, however, echoes your thoughts. If we wait for inspiration or motivation to spur us on, we may wait forever. It's the action of doing it anyway...without fear of failure, that creates new inspirations, ideas and encourages creativity. Thanks for your honest thoughts. And, for the record, I loved your video because it was so heartfelt. Best, Jan

Tom from Detroit

Kristi, regarding the video, I say "keep plugging". Only get some help from the other two-legged inhabitants of your household to control the four-legged ones while the camera is rolling.

I have found this short verse by Isaac Watts particularly helpful when the 'going gets rough.'

"If 'tis a rugged path you go,
And a thousand foes your steps surround,
Tread down the thorns, charge through the foe:
The hardest fight is highest crowned."

anne wirth

Loved your first kitchen video with Smokey and also your garden video with him. Smokey is a great straight man for your projects. He takes direction so well. You know how important that is in filming.
Keep filming your vignettes and see where it leads you.

Good Luck

Bill in St. Paul

I think Smokey needs the long-haired purple wig in the window of the last picture. I loved the imagine created by the line "the two self-appointed starlets hung heavy from the strings that once supported them" - it gives me a vision of two totally discouraged "starlets" (but I can't imagine Smokey hanging there long).


Darling Kristi,

I must admit that after our phone conversation yesterday (it was too intense for me) that this morning I found myself procrastinating (sp?) on my normal pathway to your site. I have wiled away the past two hours surfing the net - fearful of what path you have chosen to take us down today in your precious FRENCH-WORD A DAY.

Once again you have taught your old mother a new take on the old lesson of 'Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.'

Our conversation yesterday was one of the most difficult I have experienced with you as I was viewing your confusion as my responsibity to unweave the cords that had wrapped themselves around your creativity, choking the breath from within your soul.

You are a delicate and sensitive flower, this has always been my view of, after reading your post, I feel as though I have been freed from this myth I have created of you. Thank you Honey for showing me that you carry the authentic (sp?) wisdom within you and that I don't have to feel the weight of protecting you as you travel down a new path.

Now I have got that off my chest I would like to thank you for another unique and inspiring post this morning.

Several of your thoughts today I think should be added to a private file called 'Kristi Quotes' - I was stunned with your visualization of the puppets posture/clothes on the line - how lovely your mind is Kristi, thank you for this vivid impression.

I have also been experiencing a revival of my creativity regarding my painting...I am knee-deep in the representation of your 20 acres on the side of your mountain. I have attacked this canvas with the freedom of no looks like a puzzel at the moment but I have managed to place my dream cabanon at the forefront of the canvas with the view of your lower meadow, 14 giant olive trees moving up to Braise and Smokey's cabin, the kids trampoline below your clothes line, the boules court, your little garden, the outdoor table, JM's cargo container/wine storage, future fruit tree orchard, meadow above your home, and then the classic rise of terraces up the side of the mountain. Not to forget the steps of terraces falling below JM's cargo/wine storage crate.

Yes - I am totally 'LOCO' here in Mexico....but I am feeling the vibrations of creativity.....thank you Honey for setting me free.





Dear Kristen,
I woke up to your post so began my usual ruminating about that same question: wait for inspiration or keep on keeping on? It's not just for me, but for all the little first graders I'm supposed to be turning into writers... Then I saw Kate DiCamillo's short post, which I hope you can read here (I couldn't copy it on this device):

I especially like this in your post today: Across the path, over on the clothesline, the laundry hung in much the same way. And so I got up and went to collect it.

It reminds me of Jack Kornfield's "After the Ecstasy, the Laundry".

Have a most delightful, inspired or inspiring or just plain ol' day!

Linda McClure

Hi Kristi,

How about:

If at first you don't succeed,
Remove all evidence you tried.

Billy Collins, Poet Laureate said that, or something like it.

Love your writing...Linda.

Katie (

A beautifully written bit of inspiration for all of us aspiring creatives. Hopefully, the larger print will benefit Aunt Liddy as much as the video.

edith schmidt


Yes, you are right about waiting for inspiration. I find that I just have to do something else, take a walk, read a book or
just do some meaningless tasks until I can think about the photo I want to take or the art project I want to tackle.
Speaking of inspiration, I love the photo of the wig shop window. I love to window shop and have a series of photos I've taken of shop windows, even a few taken in France.

Edie from Savannah

Kathleen from Connecticut

I keep trying to get the inspiration to get back to pastels, drawing or water colors, but it is so much easier to grab the digital camera and shoot. Is that a copout or what? Plus I am so heavily invested in my volunteering for not for profits that I do not have time for the artistic side of me. Is that also a copout.
I need to retire from my volunteering and maybe do something for me. I might be afraid to find out that I have nothing to draw or to paint.



Chère Kristi!
Merci de tout coeur de ce beau texte - j'apprécie l'encouragement que me donne cette expression! Your timing was perfect :-D
Have a nice day - yours Cornelia

Jan  Hersh

It's enough to maintain one's poise in front of the camera let alone to manage behind the camera. And you need a script and an editor.
Loved reading both blogs today!
However, you managed perfectly on your own to produce a most charming debut, Madame!


Hi Kristin

I enjoyed the brief video. For a first time effort it was really good.

Tom, above, mentions two-legged and four-legged inhabitants of your household. You need another 'legged' inhabitant: a tripod for your video camera! That would save your having to find a suitable perch for your camera.

Dennis (Sebastopol, CA)

Bonjour Kristi,

Henri-Cartier Bresson said, "The three most important elements in a good photo are light, composition and momemt." When all three elements are present in a photo, you normally have a "winner." These elements are constantly in flux and one must be "inspired" to find a way to put them together.

A video is simply "moving pictures." You have a good eye and many of your shots are great. So keep at it.

Someone told me once, "If you are not having fun, you are not being successful."
This advice works for me. Having fun inspires me and beats a stressful situation anytime.



Bruce Lane

Bonjour Kristi,

Like the other posters I enjoy your efforts and encourage you to go any direction your muse prompts. I suggest a couple of things to make it easier on yourself. First suggestion would be to have someone close at hand be your videographer. For those times when the muse arrives and the house is empty do get a tripod for the camera and perhaps a cable release so you can get around the timer problem. We look forward to your future musings. Maggie and Bruce in wintry Procter, BC


You can't give up on the videos! They don't have to be perfect. The imperfection of you video with Smokey was what made it so charming. I agree with Bruce - get a tripod and a cable release. Don't give up so easily! The race is won by the driven not the swift.

Loy Fraser

Ah Kristin,
What you have is the old creative writing block. You get all ready to make a recording and voila you go blank.

May I suggest:
Create a story board or an outline of what you're inspired to say. Write it all down or at least in a sketchy way, like note cards. Then when you have the entire piece you want to say, then set up your camera in a senic location with all the right lighting and with your anchor note cards at hand put together your thoughts into the video, perhaps one act or scene at a time. It's OK if each scene is in a different location or at a different time. Keep scenes that are good, redo ones that you don't like, till you have a finished product :-)
Bon Chance


Kristin Espinasse

Thanks for these happy notes. When I went to write todays post, I spent the first 3 hours staring at the page, and the last hour furiously typing away. It is such a reward to read your messages, and especially yours, MOM! Last nights conversation was one of our most difficult ones, and I was moved when you did not change subjects, but bravely kept on helping me via our critique session. It is always a delicate thing, to guide a writer (and , in this case, wanna-be-vlogger).  

Danielle, I enjoyed Kate DeCamillos essay on doubt and writing and doing it anyway. Here is the link that worked for me!/note.php?note_id=425999504120219__user=684477162

Bill Facker

I want to point out this fact: Smokey speaks all languages .. he was simply helping Kristin with her commands in the video :-) JULES & KRISTIN..Your discourse today was particularly moving, thank you for sharing that very personal moment. Two courageous Women. Aloha, Bill

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

I have had what I call beginner's luck in a number of endeavors. When I try a second time, no success. A lot of those things I let go. Now I think it was lack of discipline to get to a third try. To lower my standards, learn the piece that went wrong the second time (the falling camera, for example), and keep trying. Be happy the first time worked out so well, and then fall back to beginner level, taking small steps, mastering each.

Once the use of the camera is settled (tripod or whatever method) then see if the new skill allows inspiration to flow again.

Meanwhile, your still photos are fantastic. Your eye is well trained for those. Your years of practice certainly show up in the photos you share now.

Plus it was an excellent story on that too common situation. And the laundry is done.


Hi KristIn, please don't give up the video! It was great. I have been following your blog since I returned from France and I love how it makes me feel connected to a place that is so dear to my heart. Smokey was brilliant. My Violet and Wee Angus could not have done better. You are a great team.
Keep up the good work and don't stop the posts or videos.
All my best,


Hope it's not too late to add my comment. I am just back after a several week absence to the blog and am delighted to see the video. Even if it didn't go as planned, please try until you have mastered it. I enjoyed the video so much! Thanks, Sharon

Christine Dashper

I agree with you Kristin, you just have to 'show up' each day and keep doing your 'stuff' whatever that is. Inspiration is fantastic and always welcome, but the day to day inventions are the foundation. xx

Julia - Falling Off Bicycles

Very very timely, Kristin. Thank you for this reminder.

Marianne Rankin

In regard to procrastination, I can identify; the hardest thing I do most days is get out of bed, especially, as now, when I have a bad cold and would rather sleep.

Brian Tracy, a business expert, wrote a book called "Eat that Frog." The idea is that we take something disagreeable and do that first; then the rest of the day is easy.

With regard to preparation: Abraham Lincoln said that if he had 6 hours to chop down a tree, he would spend the first four sharpening the axe.

By all means, try, try again until you perfect your videos or whatever else you want to do. Rome wasn't built in a day. I find with technology that I have to take it slow and easy.

Speaking of technology, there have been a number of posts, including today's, in which the Audio Files aren't working right. The file starts out okay, but within a second or two, there is an echo, making it difficult to tell what is being said.

Kristin, you have very high standards. We aren't as picky as you are. We're just glad that you are sharing your life with us.

Susan Carter (Westminster, CA)

Charming post & I loved the imagery it created in my mind. I'm also glad to see the guest spot on Ann Mah's blog.

Lee Isbell

As to reading How to Mourn A Cat aloud, I'm not sure either of us would make it through. I was sobbing uncontrollably within a paragraph, and wept for some while afterward. So many feelings . . .

Mara in Wisconsin

You can’t always wait for the storm to pass. Sometimes you have to work in the rain.
--Rhonda Rich in There’s a Better Day A-Comin’ 2012, as quoted in USA Weekend, Nov 9-11, 2012


I followed the link to Kate DiCamillo's essay, but it's a different essay (wonderful, but not the same!). What I'd tried to send you was the following.
"A few weekends ago, I did a reading and signing at a library in San Diego. Afterward, a boy handed me a crumpled piece of paper bearing these words: Casey the Utterly Impossible Horse.
“What’s this?” I said.
“It’s the title of a book I thought you would like,” he said.
“Casey the Utterly Impossible Horse?”
“Yep,” he said.
“I wish I had thought of that title,” I said.
“Yep,” he said. “But then you would have to write the book, too.”
“True,” I said. “Utterly impossible.”
What I wanted to say (but didn’t) was this: every book I write feels utterly impossible to me.
I fully intend to track down the Impossible Horse; but in the meantime, I am using that piece of paper as a bookmark: a reminder that the utterly impossible is (sometimes) possible."

And I do love what another reader posted: if we don't succeed, we must remove all evidence we even tried - ha!

Kristin Espinasse

Just reading Mariannes email and want to thank her, and all of you who have sent in such helpful tips on how to go ahead with a project. Mom and I were on the phone last night, discussing all of your comments here. We are always amazed at the talent and brains we meet here, and wonder sometimes how we ended up a part of this group. Thanks for caring about what we say and do, and for your encouragement to keep growing and sharing. P.S. so many names to point out, when we say thanks for these excellent video-making tips, but I am always nervous about leaving so much as one person out. This is definitely one of those comment sections that will be reread, for guidance or motivation!

Lynda House

The only way I can ever achieve anything creative is to focus on it almost exclusively. I put all my energy into it and shut out all the domestic trivia so as not to dilute my efforts. It works for me. Great artistes are usually single minded. They delegate or ignore all the tasks that eat up their precious time and dilute their efforts.

If I have to achieve something I don't want to do and keep procrastinating, then I break it down into one hour chunks and keep chipping away at it. Hey presto, it is soon done. I do this with my tax return, filing, weeding, sorting out my cupboards. But even then there has to be that focus to keep doing a bit every day!

But sometimes when I am in an unsettled place, I have to allow myself to have a few wilderness days, just to be, recharge my batteries and simply step off that hamster wheel for a while. Then I return with renewed vigour and start running again!

You have just had a big life change Kristi, perhaps you need a few wilderness days!

Mark Forster

It doesn't really mean "If at first you don't succeed, then try try try again." It's a quote from Boileau's poem "L'Art poetique".

Hâtez-vous lentement, et sans perdre courage,
Vingt fois sur le métier remettez votre ouvrage,
Polissez-le sans cesse, et le repolissez,
Ajoutez quelquefois, et souvent effacez.

So it's more about polishing and repolishing your work to get the best result.


Hi dear Kristin,
Another wonderful post!
You have once again given us inspiration to believe that if things don't always work the first time around--well,it's not cause for self criticism. Just the oppsite! Take a deep breath and go for it again with renewed determination. THANK YOU for this
wonderful lesson!!!!!!!
Love, Natalia XO


Keep at it! How I admire what you do!

Sandy Vann

Salut Kristin,
Always inspiring...revealing, merci beaucoup.
Lovely to be a part of your blog group,
you brighten our hearts and cheer us on to pursue our creative endeavors.

Hugs, Sandy and Terry in St. Remy this week! Pouring rain, tomorrow looks much better.Looking forward to les marches de Noel
and so grateful to meet you.

Donna Grieder

I just found this piece today and thought you would enjoy it.

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