Tarpin! A slang word in French meaning "so" or "very" or "super"

How to say lawn chair in French

balcony terrace france almost summertime (c) Kristin Espinasse 
Photo of front porch, where Mom and I will soon have coffee. The wind blew off the makeshift curtain (an attempt to shade the area at lunchtime...)

la chaise-longue (shez- lowng)


    : lawn chair 

Elle est dans le jardin, en train de lire sur sa chaise-longue. She's in the garden, reading on her lawn chair. 

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

"I could hear you girls giggling all night long!"  Mom called out.

I looked up from the flower bed, where I had been experimenting with an ice plant (could one really stick a griffe de sorcière in the ground.. and it would grow?). "Good morning Mom!" I chirped, waving the experimental cutting.

A second-story window framed my mom and the morning sun dazzled her eyes, which sparkled with life. She had her silver hair tied back and her olive complexion was as fresh as the morning dew that covered the plants beneath me. I could tell Mom was full of energy today. Perhaps we could do something special to mark this, her second-to-last day in France before returning home to Mexico?

"Come have your tea with me?" I stood up, shook the dirt from my hands and pointed to the picnic table. 

Mom was down in a flash and we were reliving the previous evening, in which I had the pleasure of spending time with Ann and Katia, a writer and a beloved podcaster. I rarely have the occasion to speak in person with people who do similar work to my own, and it was interesting to talk about the highs and lows of creative work.

Mom loved my friends and I assured her that they found her just as endearing. "I'm sorry I talked too much..." Mom apologized, as we took our cups of tea and walked from the front porch to the meadow, below, to have a look at all the plants among the olive trees. 

"Don't worry about it!" I said, feeling a little ashamed for having elbowed Mom the night before. Having realized she was three-quarters of the way through her life story, I wondered: had Mom gotten to the part where she was rescued? Strapped onto a lawn chair and lowered onto a Mexican panga boat to be transferred from the remote fishing village to a city hospital? Ironically, that would be the beginning of her nightmare.).

I was sorry to have been disrespectful to my Mom and regretted my words from the night before (along with a few other things I'd said during her four week visit to France). And now Mom would be leaving soon. Had we said and done all we had wished to say and do?

"I just want to lie here in the garden," Mom said, "here under this olive tree. I'll go get the other lawn chair."

"Stay there! I'll get it for you!" I dashed off, past the wild fennel and the bright red poppies, to the terrain de pétanque--where those "witches fingernails" I'd been transplanting grew--and snatched up the chaise longue.

We arranged the lawn chairs along the slope, until we were looking up at one of the ancient olive trees. "I'd like this one to be mine," Mom suggested. "Could you put my name on it?"

It was a lovely idea. I could then sit by the tree and think of Mom while she was an ocean away....

"Look over there," I said, pointing to a figuier I'd discovered the day before. The little fig tree (really a series of shoots from an ancient trunk) had been completely overrun by an invasive bush. The night before, I'd gotten the long-handled shears and freed it of its leafy invader and could now admire it from where Mom and I were sitting. "OK, I said, this one is Jules! And do you know what I've named the little fig tree?"

Mom's eyes were bright with curiosity. 


We sat there laughing beneath the olive tree, remembering yesteryear--before one of us moved to Mexico and the other to France. Back when we shared tall glasses of milk and those favorite fig-filled cookies.

"Fig Newtons..." Mom said, reminiscent.

"I'll call him "Newey" for short." I winked at my mom, who smiled as we gazed at our trees, affectionately. 

As the wind blew through the trees' branches, causing the leaves to rustle, our conversation carried on, lackadaisically. I no longer hoped we were making the most of our time, but knew that this cozy moment was the yesteryear of tomorrow--as comforting and sweet as those fig-filled cookies.

*    *    *

 Calanque (c) Kristin Espinasse

Making memories with Mom. After Mom befriended this guy, she handed me the ball to play.

A Jules by the sea (c) Kristin Espinasse

The game of retrieval (c) Kristin Espinasse

Don't tell Smokey and Braise... We'll bring them the next time!

How to clean a French window (c) Jules
Tidying up the house before tidying up ourselves... and heading out to explore another seaside town...

Mama Jules
Mom, "la capitaine", at the port in La Ciotat. I think it's time to name Mom's fish purse à la Mr Sacks. Suggestions welcome in the comments box!

Kristin Espinasse - la Ciotat
At the seaside market in La Ciotat, I bought a jujube tree and a few other natives to plant in our garden, beside the Mediterranean strawberry tree, or arbusier. What are some other local trees and fruit-bearing shrubs that you would suggest? Meantime, Mom and I are busy trying to identify more than trees... but all of the edible weeds and medicinal plants here in the olive field or meadow: plantain, fumeterre, fennel, lucerne, chardon de marie, pissenlit... and heaps of thyme and rosemary.

Jules in Provence (c) Kristin Espinasse
I'm going to miss you so much, Mom. Come back soon! And thank you for being my sweet maman. While her adoring husband is waiting for her back in Mexico, help me wish Mom bon voyage, here in the comments box.

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Jens from Copenhagen

Buen viaje, Jules!

By the way, isn't it spelled arbousier, the strawberry tree?

Lynn at Southern Fried French

WHAT a sweet mom and daughter story! You are so lucky to have each other. Bon retour, Jules.
I want to thank everyone who read and commented on last week's post. Both for supporting my new book and for adding the funny language bloopers. I was on the floor laughing by the time I went through them. They were absolutely priceless, merci!


Such a beautiful Mother you have! And where can I buy the top she wears here in these photos? It looks great on her. Greatfull for your reply on this.
Best regards, Chris

Kristin Espinasse

Chris, Moms husband shops for her, as Mom hates shopping. John buys her clothes in Puerta Vallarta, wher they live.




Dear Kristi,
I love your sharing Maman stories with us. Maybe one day, Jules will share her story - from USA to Mexico.
I do miss my Mama who is back home in the Philippines. She'll be 86 in August.
Bon weekend!
And bon voyage, Jules!

Pat Cargill

Traveling mercies, Jules! How wonderful for you and Kristi to have this time together--beaucoups de beautiful memories to carry with you. Sitting together under the ancient olive trees-it doesn't get much better than that. Sweet.


Pour nous filles, nous ditons, « A la prochaine, Jules » parce que nous les verrons de temps a autre…jamais au revoir. J’adore « fig newtons » aussi. Ma maman habite six heures de voiture. Je n’y habite plus.


Karen  W   -    Towson, Md. USA

Bon voyage, Jules. I know these partings are bittersweet but you return home with lovely stories for yourself, Kristin and us - this one was warm, fuzzy and giggly. Just the way we like them.

Bill in St. Paul

Bon voyage, Jules, safe travels. It always amazes me how fast the time goes and as I get older it seems to go faster. Thank goodness for intown grandchildren who slow it down a little, but they still grow up too fast.

Priscilla Fleming Vayda

Lovely writing, Kristin. And aren't mother/daughter relationships fun although sometimes challenging? You two are a dynamic duo.
Priscilla in La Nouvelle Orleans

John Walsh

It's interesting to see this definition for lawn chair here. Chaise-longue here in the U.S. means a long couch-like piece of pool side furniture that one can stretch out on, lean back(the back part tilts up)and work on a tan. It's not a small chair that is just for sitting. Curious!

Jan in Monument, Colorado

Wondering if Jules will charm the airline people into bumping her up to first class. . . How bittersweet, leaving the warmth of your French family behind, but returning to your lovely marina in PV. Bon voyage and greetings to John and Breezy.


What a lovely way to end your time with your Mom !! Some very warm and touching moments that only a mother and daughter can share. The time has gone way to fast! Wishing Jules a pleasant trip home and taking yet more memories with her .You will miss her I'm sure but have those two special kids to take up the slack now (and your handsome man...and gorgeous dogs!) Enjoy the rest of your summer.

Cindy de Baton Rouge

Jules you both look happy et so lovely! Being of the same age with a daughter close in age to Kristin, I do understand how special your visit has been. Souvenirs les plus précieux. Bon voyage chérie!


you and your daughter are so beautiful -- you are a breath of spring air! oh and i love your hats too!
so nice to see you both spend lovely moments together.


It always makes me shudder when I hear a chaise-longue referred to here in the U.S. as a "chaise lounge"!

Not very imaginative, but what about "poisson rouge" (goldfish) for the purse.


This is always the best way to start my day - when I see your blog in my in basket and I know I will be in for a treat for my eyes and my soul. And you never disappoint, Kristi! Hugs to you both and traveling mercies to your Mom until she reaches her "other" home in Mexico. Hugs, rk

Cynthia Lewis (Eastern Shore of Maryland)

Bon voyage, Jules! You and Kristi are beautiful inside and out. I have enjoyed your visit with the lovely photos (thank you so much, Kristi). We shall all miss you and look forward to your comments and advice from your lovely part of the world in Mexico. Wishing you a safe journey.....

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

Ms Fish for the purse, I think.

How lovely to have a long visit with your mother.

In the top photo, what is the mesh above the balcony? Does it catch falling figs?

Heather in Arles

Your Mom is so beautiful and vibrant--yes, that sparkling energy does shine through her eyes even in these photos. Methinks the apple doesn't fall far from the tree...I wish her safe travels back to Mexico and her happy husband even though I imagine it might be a bumpy day emotionally for you both. Oh, I always cry, yes, even at this age, when it is time to say goodbye to my Mom at the airport. For me, being so far from her is the hardest part of living in France.

And your Mom is not to blame...I experienced first hand a bubbling over of chattiness in the company of that fine duo (wrote about it too), they pull the stories out of you! :)
Bon Weekend Kristin and Jules,

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

Ooh yes much use of chaise longue on both sides of the Atlantic. Including the misplace u for those Americans who do not comprehend longue and force it into lounge.

Sandy Maberly

So sorry to hear that Jules is leaving already, although I imagine that John wouldn't see it that way! :-) How fun that you had Ann and Katia over for a visit! No wonder there was giggling throughout the night! I just pre-ordered two copies of Ann's new book, "Mastering the Art of French Eating" and then I see that you've had a nice visit with her! Such a small world. Jules, enjoy your last two days in France and have an easy trip home. One day you will have to stop over in Wales as well.



Just wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog. I found it when I first started learning French in August 2012. I also wanted to say that we really do live in a small world. Several months ago, I read a story on here about a friend of yours named Susan Sparkman. A few days later, I realized that she is the same Susan who is a member of our small French "club" in Tyler, Texas. Pretty cool to make a connection between someone here I know and someone in France. I have not had the opportunity to travel to France or Europe yet, but I will do my best to get there one day. Learning the language just gets me several steps closer..

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin and Jules,
Sounds like you all have had such a nice time together and I love the accompanying photos! I know when my mom visits, the time goes by way to fast and then it's time to say goodbye.


Safe trip home Jules. So happy you got to spend this nice long visit with Kristie & her family. Bon Voyage! Hugs.


At the port in La Ciotat you were very near the scene of my pétanque debacle. I am at the Denver airport starting my journey to Provence!


Sounds like the ordeal of a parental visit that ends pleasantly. Often that's as good as you can hope for.


Oh, the love of a mother! It never leaves us. We carry it with us in our hearts. You shared special time together, and made memories. That is priceless. You have a wonderful relationship and that is to cherish. My mother is far away too, but will see her soon and also appreciate the time and memories we create. Love your blog. Buen viaje Jules. Vuelve pronto.

Kathy en Californie

Bon voyage, Jules!

Claudette Pais

Vous etes tres chanceuse d'avoir votre maman. J'ai perdu ma maman l'annee derniere.Tres, tres triste.

Leslie NYC

As Marcello Mastroianni's character said in one of his movies, "To do nothing is a thing so beautiful!" I think most Americans grew up calling chaises longues chaises lounges, but lounging IS the idea, so maybe it helps ease us out of our puritanical love of busyness and industry!
This is a lovely, wise post, Kristin.

Jan  Hersh

Bon Voyage Jules! Seems to me that you 've both had an excellent visit.
I would love to see what pissenlit looks like...pee in the bed? !

Herm in Phoenix, AZ

Salut Kristin and Jules

Great photos today, Kristin! They make the area look very appealing and the three models add glamour to the scene. (Three models? Yes, the dog.)

Jules, if you have a layover in Phoenix on your way back give me a call . . I’d love to chat with you and hear about your latest experiences

À bientôt


Bon Voyage, Jules!

What a lovely post. Such insightful words. It makes me wish I were your I'd have someone to show me all these beautiful places!:)

Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR

Thank you Kristin for a great post & photos. Jules have a safe trip home. I wish you could move (with your hubby) near Kristin. Anyway, mothers & daughters are very special. My mom passed in 2006 and I miss her every day. Enjoy this time.

You both look so beautiful --- Jules does have a certain look --- very curious and full of life. Love it!

Be well!


Thank you so much for this love-filled post!

Sue Lennox

Bon voyage, travel home. Kristi. You must have umpteen stories of "the visit" looking forward to hearing of those adventures. (going to be 108 in Scottsdale this weekend...l'ete est arrive!)

Gwyn Ganjeau

Beautiful beeyooootiful post today. It says so much about a family and its relationships when, after 4 weeks together, the goodbyes are sad. for many families, it's just the opposite! what a thing to cherish.

It made me think of my yearly visits to belgium to see my son and his family. every year it gets harder to say goodbye. sigh. part of my heart and consciousness is there every day--imagining what we'd be doing, etc. it's like leading a double life!

have safe safe friend-filled travels, Jules. oh--i love the name-the-purse game. my contribution is "Bubbles." :)

Trina, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

Bon voyage, Jules. Lovely mother daughter stories that Kristen shares about the two of you. I 2nd the comments of Priscilla @ NO. Today's story was particularly appreciated as I sit next to my mother while she is in the hospital. I thought about all the fond memories of her visits with me when I lived in NYC. And yes, pouring it out is much better for our soul than keeping it in; there is even research to validate that. Kristen, thanks for introducing me to Ann & Katia. If you are interested in cooking with wild flowers you might want to check out an on-going conversation with the Slow Food group on LinkedIn. @Bill in St. Paul, per the late Andy Rooney " Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer you get to the end, the faster it rolls!" Again, Kristen, I cherish your stories about you and Jules - can't say that enough! You are blessed to have the relationship that you do. Best to you all.

Trina, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

Oh my, please excuse the incorrect spelling of your name, Kristin. We have a Kristen in the family & old habits die hard.


Sometimes the moments when we stop and just enjoy our surroundings and the person we are with are the most memorable. This moment sounds like that for you and Jules. I can picture you both in that meadow.

suzanne dunaway

I LOVE YOUR MAMAN!!!! Wish I still had mine.
And your stepfather is adorable....

Nicole Marcus

Loved reading this Kristin and so nice that you have such a lovely relationship with your Mom. Have a wonderful summer and many greetings from San Francisco

Bill Facker

"Henry" the fish purse .. because every fish needs a name. Thank you for a wonderful post and Vaya con Dios JULES!

Joanne Polner

Jules, You are BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is the first time in the few years that I have been reading Kristin's column that I have seen a full-face photo of you. You take my breath away! And I am a woman,in my early 70s. No wonder your daughters and grandchildren are also BEAUTIFUL!
Joanne Polner, NJ

Dave Navarrre

Darn it, you made me get all misty there at the end. Thanks again for sharing so much and so well!

Holly Smith

I was so relieved to see your mom's
youthful face today. The last letter from
you had only photos of her back, which
caused me wonderment? I believe she is
a bit younger than I, ( I am late 1945)
and Jules epitomizes my favorite style,
which i have not yet captured.


Our dear Kristi,
Today's post is not only eloquent and beautifully written, but truly fills our hearts with the loving bond that you and dear Jules share.
Just wonderful!
Love, Natalia XO
PS Wishing Jules a happy journey home!

Julie Farrar

Merci, Kristin, for sharing your maman with us. Et bon voyage, Jules. You both looked beautiful and almost like twins in the photos. As for her purse, just the simple Madame Poisson.

Bill Facker

Beautiful post Kristin! Wishing a safe journey and quick return for JULES!

Betty Doolittle Tuininga

Wishing you a safe journey my friend as you return to Mexico. May you both drink from the this cup which is overflowing with such sweet memories of the time you have spent together. Cherish the time...keep the memories close to your heart.
Thank you for allowing us to intrude occasionally into your was special.

Stacy ~ Sweet Life Farm ~ Applegate, Oregon

Oh, dear sweet Kristi, this post brought me to tears; so beautifully shared. Your cup runneth over and fills mine on days such as today.

How can it be time for Jules to return home? The tides of life... Grateful you, and Jules, are a part of mine!

Jules, blessed journey as you return home!

Carolyn  Dahm,  Sharon, MA

Bon voyage Jules! I wish you a happy and safe trip home. So glad you had a month with Kristin and the gang. I'm sure they'll miss you but before you know it, you'll be back again!

Soak up your last moments together!

Blessings to all of you....

Karen from Phoenix

Wishing you safe and easy travels Jules. Looks like you had a wonderful trip. I love to see your beautiful face. Love your fish purse too!!!!


Judy Zizza

Kristin, your mother is lovely and where can I buy that beautiful top she was wearing?
Please let us know, I am sure others would love to know, too.

You are a wonderful writer.

best ~


I'm late again!!
I checked out the pictures before I started my post. You ladies look stunning!!! How wonderful to look at the two of you after reading today's story. The story brought a tear to my eye it was so touching. Hope your visit has been wonderful. And Kristin, I have said so many things to my mother that I wished I hadn't. I guess it is time for a phone call to let her know I love her. Thanks so much for the reminder.


Bon voyage, Jules! Have a safe, eventful (only of the best kind - to have stories to tell!) and fun trip back home! It looks like you had a wonderful time with your family there! Love your joie de vive! ! ! Mr Sacks has a new friend? Miz Feesh? ? ? ? :)

Barbara Penn - Palmdale, California

Such a lovely, tender post, Kristi. Surely there are olive trees in paradise!

Some thoughts on Jules' purse: to me he is a chivalrous male, carrying all her things for her, so his name could be
"Señor Fish" (assuming he is from Mexico).

Merci beaucoup for this heart-warming post.

Ann Mah

Spending time with you all was one of the highlights the trip! And I adore Jules! I can't wait to visit again, to cook and forage with you! xxx

Debbie Ambrous -

Jules is so beautiful. I know that she has some wonderful stories to tell when she returns home. Your experiences together sound like some of my own when I visited my mom. I always went away thinking I shouldn't have said one thing or another. I just spent a month in France and this is my first day at home. It is hot and dry. Friends say they don't believe it rained for the entire month, while in France it rained almost every day. I hope your flowers and plants flourish, and I hope the same for your beautiful mom.

Diane Young

Au revoir, Jules. Hopefully, a bientot. We have enjoyed your visit through Kristi's sharing. Thanks, Kristi, for the photos, which show La Belle Mere avec beaucoup d'esprit. I think Maman has found the secret of enjoying life. Don't sweat the small stuff and wake up anticipating the new day. A pretty good outlook, n'est-ce pas?

Phil Anderson

Have enjoyed your photos and news for some time now and especially of your mother's latest visit with you but there is one question I have never seen asked and that is 'would your mother like living nearer to you and your family in France instead of her living in Mexico?'

Leslie in Portland, Oregon

Bon voyage, Jules, and best wishes for smooth re-entry into your life in Mexico!


Call it "pursson" (poisson)???

Kip in Idaho look stunning in your blue and white! I'm sorry you couldn't have stayed a bit longer in France so we could be with you.

Kristin Espinasse

Bonjour! Took Mom to the airport yesterday and am catching up on my correspondence now. Thank you for the very encouraging words you have left in the comments box. A few comments have not come through (including one of my own), but I wanted to answer those of you who asked about Moms top and where she bought it. Mom does not shop, but her dear husband buys her all her outfits. I do not know where he gets them. If I ever find out I will let you know :-)

Dana C Thomas

I'd call her purse ~ poisson de la mere. or petit poisson de la mere.....I just couldn't resist the play on words.

Jacquie P.

I missed travel day somehow and hate that I did but hope the return flight was smoothe and relaxing.
Kristin, don't believe you can remotely imagine the delight, the feelings and the wonder you share with all of us by your beautiful photography and carefully painted words. I know you realize how beautiful your Jules is but want to let you know that we, too, know. She has to be one of the most beautiful women on this planet. And that dazzling smile!!!!! Then to see that she is her very own gal is so refreshing. What an inspiration!
Thank you for sharing Jules with us and the special bond the two of you share. I know you miss her very much.
Hugs and love, jacquie

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