Ways to say you are hurting (French expressions)
Pictures of our yard

loufoque meaning + first poppies + chapter translation!

Poppy coquelicot
If a poppy can bloom on the first of March, can a couple of errant cats appear after 6 days away? Photo taken in our field of olive trees. The flowers may have bloomed as early as the end of February!

loufoque (loo-fohk)

  1. madcap, zany, nutty
  2. wild, bizarre

Audio File: Listen to today's word and terms: Download MP3 or Wav

une aventure loufoque = madcap adventure
un chat loufoque = crazy cat
une histoire loufoque = absurd story
une idée loufoque = crazy idea

Update: Cats still gone
Thank you for your outpouring of support, after Pancho and Lily, our 5 month old kitties, disappeared. Your caring and witty and informative stories here (and again here) brought a smile in appreciation of these zany, intuitive and mysterious felines. I will let you know if they return, meantime, I need your help with something else....

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

Fear, anticipation, insomnia, giddiness, short-temperedness, perfect love.... Like the week leading up to childbirth these past days have been a roller-coaster of emotion. Publication date is fast approaching! A few more punches on this keyboard and I can turn in the final chapter of "First French Essais" to my book angels!

But, no, that would be too easy. Trop fastoche! When your alter ego goes by the name of Loufoque, you just gotta go chasing shiny objects--at the precise moment when life is calling for you to stand still, and deliver!

Like a cat who spots a glimmer of shiny foil, I've gone chasing a gum wrapper as it skips across a field of poppies, carried by the wind. It may seem no more than a flimsy reward, elusive and uncertain at that, but to me the object of this chase is most meaningful!

Enough with the metaphors, let me tell you clearly what has happened:

FE front-revised

Moments before my book was to go into publication I had an inspiration! Why not translate the very last chapter about the man on the cover of the book? This would be a double cadeau! One, readers would enjoy reading an all French chapter and, two, the hero of the chapter would be able to understand what is being said about him (Mr. Farjon does not speak English). 

Wouldn't you know this wild-haired idea would come first thing Sunday morning? Excited as I was, I didn't dare contact Erin, my book's "interior architect." After all, Erin, like me, should be observing the Sabbath

And then there was Carol, my reader in Belgium, whom I hired to do the French spell-checking. She had begun translating chapter one (for a future French edition)--but could she skip to the last chapter and get it back to us in 24 hours? C'était le défi!

Meantime, Erin and I were saying our mea culpas to God as we worked away the sacred day....

By Monday morning I had heard back from Carol, who had joined in the challenge: J'accept le défi! she answered, and was off like a rocket. Six hours later she had finished the translation!

Ouf! At this lucky point I'm done chasing shiny gum wrappers. It's time to wrap up this project. But I just need to be sure that some of the ideas in that last chapter were not lost in translation. Here's where you come in, dear reader! 

Would you mind having a look at Carol's translation? You won't even have to say your mea culpas to God--because today is Wednesday! 

For those who would like to see the French translation, click here. And for those of you who would rather leave the computer for now--to go outside and chase shiny gum-wrappers--bonne chasse. Keep pursuing those glimmers of ideas that lead you to your goals.

To comment on this post, click here.

Temple GrandinBook trivia: "First French Essais" shares a link with Temple Grandin's memoir "The Way I See It: A Personal Look at Autism and Asperger's". Here's how: the "book angels" that designed it and the previous book also designed Temple Grandin's book! (On second thought, maybe this is interesting only to me?--and other Temple Grandin fans!)


French Vocabulary
trop fastoche = too easy
loufoque = zany
le cadeau = gift
le défi = challenge
= whew!


Smokey's phrase of the day: jouer à la balle. Here's our golden returning from a game of catch. But something else has caught my eye: this euphorbia plant. They grow all over the field. I hoped this variety to be euphorbia peplus, aka, "cancer weed" (for its use in treating skin lesions), but, on closer look, it does not resemble these.

Wine jugs
Beside the boules or pétanque court, a line a slurring fans await the next match...

There you go, Smokey. You keep those boys in line!

On my way back from the poppy patch, Jean-Marc and I had a window-to-porch argument. I looked up at him, swearing those were poppies I'd seen (opening photo). But he insists poppies won't grow this early. Pfft! No use arguing with a vigneron (wine farmer). By the way, Chief Grape is staying home this year, but the USA Wine tour goes on!:

Meet-ups: The Wine Women & Kristi's in Paris!
Cousin Audrey of Domaine Banneret and Caroline Jones, new owner of Domaine Rouge-Bleu, will begin their Excellent USA Wine Tour soon. Will they visit your city? Look here!

Paris Talk! I'll join Adrian Leeds on April 8th at her Après-Midi talk. I would love to meet you if you are in the City of Light. Even if you can't make it, be sure to hit the "maybe" button on the Facebook page and I'll bring you with me in my thoughts!

Now that is a wild orchid. Just don't tell Chief Grape--or he may have something else to say!

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


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Ah Kristin . . . that beautiful red Spring surprise is a tulip!


P.S. I was so disappointed to learn that the cats are still AWOL. I hope they'll return home soon!

Kristin Espinasse

Vicky, do not be fooled. Those are poppies *pretending* to be tulips. Just like those insects that, to save themselves,take on the form of the plant--these poppies are sneaky camelions! Stay tuned... And Ill see if I can get a better picture of the paper-thin and delicate petals.

Kathleen from Connecticut

Yes it is a tulip...c'est domage.
Let's keep our hopes up that the cats will return, andif so,maybe they will remain indoor cats, mais c'est tres difficile.
I wish that our flowers were out,but the snow still covers the ground and the temperature is 20f-35f.....so cold.



It is early for tulips, too, is it not? What a wonderful harbinger of spring!!

Marie Fagnou

Bonjour, I must say how much I enjoy your postings. Thank you! The red flower you refer to today looks like a tulip rather than a poppy. Tulips will bloom even when there is still snow on the ground here in Saskatchewan, Canada, provided they are close to the house foundation and in the direct sun.

Young Paciello

Hey Kristin - It's your annoying erstwhile proof reader of French expressions...I'm heartbroken with you over the cats' disappearance but praying... It's funny that you have read Temple Grandin's book (amazing woman!) My youngest son, Zachary has Asperger's and lives with us. Don't know if he will ever be independant but God gives you only as much as you can bear... How do I get to the French translation so I can look it over as well??!

Young Paciello

BTW, tulip vs. poppy: tulips have a fairly thick petal and a long stamen whereas poppies have thin skin and no stamen, just a round middle with all those seeds... If that helps!

Kristin Espinasse

Young, the French translation is here:

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
Can't wait for your book release! I don't know girls...that looks like a poppy that hasn't unfurled yet. Did you look inside the petals Kristin? Poppy petals are papery looking too, like wrinkled, colored paper. The Euphorbia plant is pretty too.

Kristin Espinasse

Young, thanks for the added hints. Also, this flower did not have a tulip leaf. Ill have to get a picture of its poppy leaf! First I should check for that missing stamen....


Darling Kristi,

I am so excited about seeing the expression on Mr. Farjon´s face when he receives his copy of your new book. Of course I am still dreaming that we can somehow get him on the train for a little visit when I am there and you can give him the book then. He has been one of my favorite characters from your writing over the past few years…I still remember the first photo you ever posted of him before you even knew his name. Your stories are one of the greatest gifts you have ever given me.



Barbara Kornfield

I think having paragraph translations is a good idea. Those of us who need help with idioms will benefit from this format. It will be useful for both French and English speakers.

Can't wait for that book!


Kristin, Sometimes I read parallel text books in French and English. The left page is one language and the right page the other. Perhaps when you have the French translations, a parallel text book could be put together. Claudine


Our dear Kristi,
We are all SO excited for your book release!
(Have been checking Amazon daily!)
That beautiful flower in today's photo--poppy or not!--is definitely a sign of good luck!
Your idea about the final chapter also being in French is wonderful! It is so helpful(and interesting!) to read the French (and silently translate it) and then re-read it in English to determine if we goofed!
Keeping always hope for the kitties!
Love, Natalia XO
PS Temple Grandin is my distant cousin.
My brother,George,was(proudly!) the first vet in our family;Temple is the second.
She is also an inspiration!

Dana Wilson

Euphorbia is an interesting and decorative plant! Voir: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euphorbia

However, E. esula (leafy spurge) is considered an invasive species that crowds out desirable plants.


I'm never sure what's good euphorbia and what isn't.

Hugs from Dana and Lynn

Chris Allin

Dear Kristin,

Thank you for this distraction. Still worrying about two little kittens halfway across the world and especially loving the photos of Smokey. My husband and I had a chat about today's posting before he left for work. I asked him to send me his thoughts in writing so I can share them with you. He said "I vote for the stacked approach because the two languages on the same page are symbolic of Kristin's book and her effort to convey what it's like for an English speaking person to adjust to life in France. Reading a paragraph in English and then in French reinforces her essais to become a natural French speaker. Also I think it helps the reader to see the French translation right away. It contributes to the reader's learning of the language."
I had a vision that would triple the length
of the final chapter. First in English with the french words and phrases, followed by the vocabulary words, the format you have used in your books and blog. Then the stacked version, as it works well as a teaching tool and transition. And finally, in tribute to dear Mr. Farjon, all in french, whole and authentic,just as he seems to be. Whatever you do will result in a meaningful merci to Mr. Farjon. We are eagerly awaiting this book!

Chris...and George

Debby howell

It is brilliant to use the half shot of Mr. Farjon on the cover and his chapter at the end of the book. We can see in the partial picture that he is adorable, interesting, and a real Provence personality. How wonderful for his lifetime of following his love of plants to be published for the world to appreciate and learn from. I look forward to the new book as I do to all of your blog postings.
Debby in West Linn

Gay Moore

The red flower sure looks like a tulip to me!


You need a certain Monsieur Farjon to identify the red flower . . . There is a flower called a tulip poppy.

I do hope the kittens return - I can only imagine how gutted you must feel. Along with thousands of other watchers, I follow the trials and tribulations of our Scottish osprey chicks - via a webcam. Two summers ago, the only chick in the nest disappeared on its first flight from the nest - for about 4 days. It returned, much to everyone's relief: http://news.stv.tv/tayside/111822-missing-osprey-chick-returns-to-its-nest-after-four-day-venture/
May there be a happy ending to your tale.

Barbara Becker

I had a cat return after a full year away from home : )


I think your wild orchid is a wood hyacinth

Leslie NYC

Like many others, I keep checking back to see if Pancho and Lily have returned. Cats are mysterious and beloved creatures.
I envy you your corn poppies. I have tried to grow those from seed, but the only one that came up grew in a crack in the sidewalk! It was valiant and I cheered it on.
Euphorbia grows wild and does spread via seedlings. There are dozens of kinds in all shades of chartreuse, silver,gray-green, & burgundy. I have three kinds in my community garden plot and people love them. I don't think they are overly invasive, but I have been able to give away the babies. They really complement flowers' colors.

Cynthia Gillespie-Smith

Kristi, years ago there was the story (and there are many similar ones) of a cat, resident of Nice, who moved with the man of a divorced couple to Marseille. He (le chat) disappeared and was presumed lost forever near Le Vieux Port. Almost a year later he turned up back in Nice, having crossed the autoroute and who knows what else. My own cat spent a week closed up in a garage in the Luberon. Don't give up hope, but do continue to check out places they could be. Bon courage! So looking forward to your book.

Linda in Marne la vallée

Hi Kristin, I was curious about the phone number on the letter box so I looked it up via the Pages Jaunes website - and surprisingly it is the real life number of a decorating firm! Have you warned them that they might get people calling their number if they see it at random on the cover of your book? Although some might be potential customers, some might be time-wasters! Or you might want to pixel out some of the numbers to prevent people from calling it?

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