Winetasting meetup + Three ways to say "spring fever"
peau de banane: soothes the skin, whitens teeth

See you at Monday's meet-up & How to say fingernail in French


No time to go into details about this week's blog hijacking. Just happy to be back on line! Hats off to my blog provider, Typepad, and their indefatigable SWAT team! (photo of airplanes taken yesterday, from the garden)

Join Jean-Marc and Kristi for the April 28th wine-tasting in St. Cyr-sur-Mer. 10 euros. Email jm.espinasse AT

ongle (ohngl), masculine

    : fingernail

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc: Download MP3 or Wav

L'ongle peut être considéré comme un témoin du plus ou moins bon fonctionnement de l’organisme. The nail can be considered as a warning of the more or less smooth running of the organism. 

HulstonExclusive French made clothes now available to purchase on-line. Thomas Hulston Collections.

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

My husband and I were reading the morning news in bed when I caught sight of mon ongle and gasped. 

"Qu'est-ce qui se passe?" What's the matter? Jean-Marc asked.

"It's my fingernail," I said, turning it from side to side before the morning light. The top of the nail was dented and there were ridges running vertically up and down the surface. It wasn't like that before, I thought. Not this one!

"Regarde." I pointed out my thumbnails to Jean-Marc, adding that both were so deeply grooved they were beginning to crack in the middle. This I was already aware of. As a matter of fact, the "pouce problem" had caused a lot of frenzied internet searches. But the index fingernail, that was new.

"Pourquoi ça fait ça?" my husband asked.

"I don't know. I'm trying to find out." According to Google, horizontal or vertical nail ridges meant anything from disease to trauma. I'd ruled out that latter, certain not to have smashed my nails playing pétanque recently.

"You know, it's like those roses you plant at the beginning of the vine rows...." Using a familiar language, I shared with my winemaker husband what I had just learned: our fingernails are an indication of our health. "When the roses begin to whither, the vigneron has enough time to move in and treat the grapevines before they, too, drop off. Same thing with les ongles."

Maybe a nutritional deficiency was causing my nails to weaken? It's true we are eating less meat...

"On mange plus de viande rouge," I pointed out. 

"C'est vrai," Jean-Marc agreed, only his nails didn't seem to be affected.

"Mange des lentilles," Jean-Marc offered, reading my mind. He was right, there were other sources of iron besides boudin and foie de porc (two entries that ranked highest on the fer list, followed by grissons--whatever those were....).

"Et le persil--that's full of iron!" I remembered.

Jean-Marc laughed, citing all the liters of parsley pesto I'd been making lately, as if by presentiment. But my husband got an extra good chuckle when I shared yet another possible cause for the nail anomaly:

"Le vieillissement. Look, it says aging could be the culprit!"

I stared at my iPad, where a screen full of grooved and cracking fingernails haunted me. I'd done yet another "ridges in fingernails" search and was now facing the results.

"Donne-moi ça," Let me see, my husband said, reaching for my iPad.


Jean-Marc paused and I saw the concerned look on his face. He was clearly surprised that I would question for one moment his sympathies. 

Aha! I recognized the low-profile bully that still lurks within me: her name is LSE.*  She whispers stuff like "you're weird" and "who cares about your stupid little problems?" But this time I caught her! Just in time to push her off the bed and refocus on the person seated next to me.

That the half-naked man beside me wanted to look at some ugly deformed nails in an effort to understand what was bothering me--this was deeply revealing.

Something between alchemy and the laying on of hands, my husband's words were mysteriously healing. It no longer mattered what it was that was eating at me (or my fingernails). The important thing was--


 *    *    *

Comments: click here
*LSE (Low Self Esteem) can attack anyone at any age, anytime. It doesn't matter your race, what country you live in or your profession or religion. It tells you you're unworthy, not good enough. It focuses on your failures, no matter your successes. Help kick its butt by spreading love


French Vocabulary
qu'est-ce qui se passe = what's happening?
regarde = look
le pouce = thumb
pourquoi ça fait ça? = why's it doing that?
la pétanque = game of boules
le vigneron = winemaker
le persil = parsely
le boudin = kind of sausage
le foie de porc = pork liver


Some of you asked what was under the borage flowers (in a previous photo). That was my mother-in-law's tapenade! Here's more flowers and some kale too. I love to carry this seed basket to the garden, never knowing what to sow next. Yesterday it was les belles de nuit, or "beauties of the night"--which were pushed into the wet soil like girly adversaries in the mudboxing ring!

 "La Trouvaille"--a true find in Provence! Affordable vacation rental in our beautiful old stone house in the charming village of Sablet. Click here.

Provence Dreamin'? Maison des Pelerins, Sablet. A Vacation Rental Dream in the heart of the Côte du Rhone.

Book award

It didn't matter that the library, above, wrote--suggesting I enter my book for an award. I still questioned whether I wasn't an impostor. Looking at the entries before mine--intellectual books, researched memoirs--it seemed dishonest to apply. But I did! I sent in my First French Essais for The American Library's Book Award. Wish me luck! 

To comment on this post, click here. Thank you for reading, and sharing.

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


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Nyla Witmore

Two things...I also have noted those ridges on my fingers. I file them gently to be smoother which helps. There are "nail filler" products that also help. Thank you for sharing. I decided to name MY INNER CRITIQUE..."Elsie" which s a take off from your LSE. So the next time I find myself being too critical, I will have some ammunition to talk back instead of thinking of it as a clinical term. There must be a French expression for "lighten up!"

Secondly, As a painter about to travel to COLLIOURE and Languedoc Region to paint for two weeks with friends..I have passed on your wonderful blog to get everyone in the mood. Your photographs are always so crisp, colorful, and ARTISTICALLY composed? Thank you for making my day!!


Ahh yes, the old LSE. I like Nyla's name for her, Elsie. Elsie can be vicious, like a toxic friend who continues to obnoxiously provide unsolicited advice. I'll stick with spreading love! :)

Kristi, best of luck with The Ameican Library's Book Award! It's great that you applied, because your work is absolutely worthy of such an award.


I think you meant to write "on mange moins de viande rouge".

I remember my mother's nails getting ridgier as she got older and mine started to do the same some years ago too. I think it's time not diet that is doing it.


If you have lots of pictures of Smokey in your book (sorry I don't have it) then it should win. I can't speak for the American Library however, which tends to favor more elitist books - that is a compliment!

Kris en Bretagne

I hope you win, at least most people can read and enjoy your book, which is more than can be said for so many Books deemed "Litterature".

I asked my Dr a few years ago about the ridges in my nails and she just smiled and said those awful words "it is just your age".

I went through Bandol yesterday on the train to collect our car which had decided to holiday in Montpellier, and I thought of you. We have bought a renovation project in Old Nice.


Sevahn Merian from Michigan

You shall win! You are victorious!


Hi Honey,

I loved your post & photo´s this morning…funny thought about the mud boxing ring. Where do you come up with these images in your mind.

I must admit I spent an hour this morning enjoying Nyla Witmore´s web site - even before I read your post, as I like to read the comments first to see how you affected your friends with your words. I must say Nyla is a fabulous artist, I will be back at her links to drool over her creations later.

My new friend (the artist) is coming by this morning at 10:30, if you call please call after lunch. I´m starting to pack today - excitement is growing!

You are in the prime of your life, relax and enjoy - it will last at least another 25-plus years, maybe even longer since you don´t dig ditches for a living….whoops, I guess you do in the garden.




Well is it effect or affect - I´ll look it up later.

Sandy Maberly

Sending you loads of positive vibes for the book awards! That's definitely a positive note when you are asked to enter the contest! Tell "Elsie" to clear off as you now have "Connie" (confidence) as your new best friend! BTW I sent a copy of your book to a friend in Oklahoma (she has another one of your books as well) and she was already halfway through it by the time she sent me an email the next day! She's definitely a FWAD fan. I'm reading MY copy of French Essais via my friend Kindle. I couldn't wait for the hard copy to get to me :-) Best of luck, Kristie!

Herm in Phoenix, AZ

Salut Kristin,

I went through the same scenario awhile back when I noticed that ALL my nails had ridges! Like you, I went to the internet and found il n'est pas un problème (it’s no problem).

I did find out that white spots can indicate a deficiency of zinc in the body.

It’s warming up in Phoenix. . . 98 degrees recently.

À bientôt

Nancy, San Antonio, Texas

Good morning and thank you for another glimpse into your life. You have a way of turning the most ordinary things into very sweet life moments. Love is the mainstay, I agree with you totally.

So, fingernails today! One of mine developed a deep dent from bed to tip and I went to see the doctor. Found out it was arthritis but this was 10 years ago so had a minor surgery on it and the nail grew back like normal. However, as I have aged there are little faint ridges - I think of them as proof (like my wrinkles) that I have lived a good long time. And look forward to at least another 20. Next stop will be Nyla web site, always want to see what other painters are doing.

Have a wonderful day and thanks again for your writing and pictures.

Lanier Cordell

No luck required. You and your writing are both gems developed by hard work and are more than worthy, regardless of what happens with this contest, you were invited to participate. In competitions between the best of the best, there are no losers.

Barbara Andolsek

Reading your words with my morning coffee is the best way to wake up to a good day.

Aging in general is something lots of us baby boomers knew was coming. It's just a shock that's it's actually happening. The other day I finally noticed that my husband's mustache is white. When did that happen?

My grandmother used to say 'as long as the wrinkles were from smiling it was all good'. C'est la vie!

Wishing you all the best with your book entry. As actors say with oscars, it was an honor just to be nominated.

judi dunn

Kristi... bonne chance ! You will be chosen for the Award! Have faith in yourself and embrace your success... you are so very talented! Get a buffer and buff the ridges down... works like a chatm! Bon Courage! Judi from Tallahassee....

joel Ostroff

You may want ot add a supplemental dose of biotin to your daily diet to aid in reducing the grooving of the nails over time. Remember, it will require having the present exposed nails grow out before the actual improvement can be fully recognized. The addition of biotin into you diet should strengthen your nails as well as strengthen your hair and increase its health. I would recommend a daily dose of approximately 600 milligrams. Bon Chance!


Hi Kristin,

Great (and helpful) post, comme d'hab.

A few spelling/grammar corrections so the post will also be editorially correct:

1. Anomaly (vs. anomoly)

2. "You're" weird (vs. your)

3. Impostor (vs. imposter)

JeanClaude and I wish you "Merde" with the American Library in Paris Book Award competition!


I agree about the buffer for the nails. Works for me!

Good luck, Kristin. You ARE a winner!

Susan Kellogg

Hi...I do wonder about all that parsley pesto...too much parsley is not a good thing. Also, do you get real pine nuts in France?...ours now all come from China and are smaller and leave a metallic aftertaste. Thanks for your letters! My happiest years were spent in France as a high school student and you take me right back there. Gook luck with your ongles!

Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR

Good luck Kristin! I read your new book (and the other two) from cover to cover --- love it and the photos.

Enjoy your life --- your nails are fine. Life is way too short.

Be well!


Our dear Kristi,
Another wonderful post and pictures! Once again,you have hit on something that so many of us endure,those nails! Such great tips(!)I confess,though, that I have given up and just live with it!At one point I tried painting my nails with polish(gave them an even surface) but after several applications,when I removed the polish, my nails were yellow.
GOOD LUCK with The American Library!All of your fortunate readers are rooting for you!
You so deserve this honor!Bottom line,though:to even be considered is AWESOME!!!
Natalia XO

Gordon R. Vaughan

Yes, just want to second Joel's comment, have read many times that cracked fingernails may indicate a biotin deficiency.


Kristi Darling,

I am so excited about your nomination from The American Library in Paris. I just read through all of the details and can feel my heart thumping over this great honor. I hardly know what to say - except I know you deserve to be right where you are now…you have poured your heart out for many years - hoping someone would hear your voice. Your voice is worthy of this award.

I love you


Kristin Espinasse

THANKS MOM, and to everyone here. I have been trying to respond to today's comments but my comments are not appearing. I think this has something to do with the recent attack on my blog provider, Typepad. They are doing a great job under pressure, sorting out thousands of blogs including my own.


Bonne chance!

Diane Young

Certainment, bonne chance with the award. I really enjoyed your latest book. My only complaint is it was too short! Wonder how L'homme des plantes is doing now. Bet he misses seeing you. Wish I had his pouce verte.
Time to plant some plumbargo, whose color I love. Friends say it'll grow anywhere. It if grows for me, it will be one of my few successes. I envy your being able to sprinkle seeds and have all those flowers and vegetables in sunny Bandol. We are finally getting some warmer weather in North Florida after a long winter. Predicted to be 90 this week. I only wanted 80, not summer yet. There's no happy medium here. I had white spots under one nail and have some gel to put between nail and skin. It's a sort of fungus caused by moisture getting under the nail. Hadn't had it in years until recently. Weird. Enjoy the wine tasting event.

edie schmidt


Bonne chance with the American Library Award!
I just read your latest book while on a trip to the Northeast. I enjoyed it very much especially the last part about Monsieur Farjon in French and English. I also thought the layout was especially attractive.
As to your nails, perhaps your local chemist can suggest something to improve them. Hope it's nothing serious.

Edie from Savannah

Leslie in Oregon

Congratulations on the invitation to make your book an entrant for the American Library in Paris Award. You richly deserve every honor you receive...and more!


Bonne chance! You will always have the reward of your readers for making their day a little brighter, and a little bit more French. Thank you for your stories.

Miranda R

Thanks Kristin for your ongoing blog. As a longtime student of French I really enjoy it. Today's post re LSE really rang a bell with me on another level however -- I saw clearly what you meant, and the effect this affliction can have on others. I am not sure I have ever understood this as well before. Thanks (Miranda, Canberra.)


Hi, Kristin,
I've had those ridges for years, never too happy about them, because my nails split up the ridges, and then I have to file them way down (which I'm sure they probably don't like very much!)! If you find a good cure, let me know. I've tried a few things. A friend tried Biotin but it was really hard on her stomach, but I might try it anyway! Good luck on the Library award - you deserve an award for each of your three books I've read!

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago


I think this sentence is informal conversation, where Kristin has noted that ne gets dropped from the negative.
"On mange plus de viande rouge,"

It is confusing to me, too. Add ne before mange, and then it means
We do not eat red meat anymore.

I think written French keeps the two words for negatives.

As for the ridges, I assumed it wsa something missing from my diet too, but never have figured it out. Saying it is just age, not much of an explanation, it it?

Hope the meet-up goes well.


I hope everyone has a great time at the meet up! Of course, how could they not!

And, Kristin, congratulations on the book invitation! What a lovely, lovely honor! One that is truly well-deserved! Bonne chance!

Kristin Espinasse

Miranda, so good to know this clicked with you. I was beginning to regret mentionning it. Not any more!

Nancy, Judi, and others who have mentionned the award--I am deeply touched! To know that you ate reading and enjoying the stories, right here, IS a reward!

Sarah, you are right--I wrote it in spoken French. It needs to be corrected for the written story.

Karla Ober

I loved this post, Kristin; it almost seems as if American society conspired to ensure that most of us women would suffer from LSE.
I know from experience that compliments from outside oneself don't solve the maladie, but they don't hurt, either! SO - Listen up! You are beautiful and talented, you are successfully raising children in a culture different from the one in which you were raised, and making a home in said culture while maintaining your grace and sense of humor! Kudos!

L Moore


Look at the photos of tic deformity and ask your husband if he ever sees you rubbing your nails. The latter may be too subtle for most of us to be aware of ourselves, and is an extremely common cause of rippling of the nails.

Donna Grieder

Ridges appeared on my 60 year old thumbs several years ago. I plan to investigate dietary sources of biotin, but for the moment I want to applaud you for - yet again, and as usual! - transforming some ordinary detail into a gem! Thanks, and best wishes with the writing award.

Jules Cherie

I loved this post! Thank you for sharing your wonderful message of love :) It's always a good reminder to push away LSE whenever she creeps nearby.

gwyn ganjeau

Kristin, i think entering your book for that lovely acknowledgement is an excellent way to kick miss elsie in the keester! Just putting it in the mail made you an advocate for your self. Yay! :)

Sue in Seattle

I, too, have vertical nail ridges . . . on all of my nails. When I checked the many possibilities for their cause, I "diagnosed" it to be the result of arthritis, which I have and which currently affects only my right thumb and right index finger. Just hope it stops there!

Karen from Phoenix

Congrats on your book award. What an honor to be invited and well deserved. xoxo

Joanne Wallace

Good Luck with the award, you certainly deserve it!

Kristin Espinasse

For some reason my comments are not coming through, so I will try again: only now I have forgotten what all my responses were! Thank you all for these replies. Enjoying every one! 

On Wed, Apr 23, 2014 at 2:40 PM, Kristin Espinasse [email protected] wrote:

Thanks, Laurie, and Passante, for the correction. Nyla, what a pleasure to see your art work! Katia, thanks for the cheers and for relating :-)


Sarah LaBelle -- Leaving out the first element of the negative in French -- ça je comprends bien. Actually what confused me is that Kristi writes "It's true we're eating less red meat" and then goes on to say to Jean-Marc, "On mange plus de viande rouge" which is a different statement, with or without "ne". I assumed that she was saying in French to J-M what she had just said in English (so as to advance-paraphrase/translate for us -- a standard device when mixing a foreign language in a piece of writing). Hence my assumption that it should be "moins" not "plus". If I'd read first in English, "It's true we're not eating red meat any more" it would have made perfect sense to me.


Kristi -- In bocca al lupo for the book award.

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Laurie, and Passante, for the correction. Nyla, what a pleasure to see your art work! Katia, thanks for the cheers and for relating :-)

Jennifer Coute-Carmellino

I've read a few things about ridged fingernails.
According to Oriental Medicine, vertical ridges mean that you're liver is deficient. Drink a lot of lemon-water & try to detox & nourish your liver.
Because the liver is responsible for converting thyroid hormone T4 into the more useful T3, it could also indicate a thyroid deficiency.

Mary -Audrey Mellor

Dear Kristin, you certainly lift a lot of spirits ,bringing joy into our lives by your comments on everyday events and insecurities. My nails are not so great either. Not to worry. As you say LOVE and acceptance are what keeps us going. It seems you have that in Jean-Marc.

Good luck on you book!!! Fondly, Mary-Audrey

Sandy Vichery

Hi Kristin,
I have these vertical ridges and I was told it is a sign of "low thyroid" (I have Hashimoto's disease) when I was really ill I also had no "moons" (lunula)...I would suggest you get a thyroid work up if you are having other sluggish thyroid symptoms.

Warm Regards,
Sandy Vichery

Barry stein

Funny, funny. I went through this exact routine about 20 yrs ago. Yes, it is aging. Welcome to the other side! It only gets worse.

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