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Entries from August 2014



With all the time I have on my hands since letting my emails go unanswered, you may wonder what I'm up to? Netting figs! And on a less glamorous note, I am caring more for my home and family (this last one is a "sentimental" note). Read on.

courriel (kohr-ee-el)

    : email

courriel = le courrier électronique 

Le courrier électronique existait avant Internet et fut un outil précieux lors de la création de celui-ci. Email existed before internet and was a useful tool when creating it (internet).


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

In France, a translation for electronic mail exists (for the record it's "courriel") though the majority of French people I know use the English term. French or English, email is a force that rules our our emotions, which can go up and down like a mail-truck on a montagne russe

Apart from our heartstrings, email sometimes rules our lives. After beginning this blog in October of 2002, I had the privilege and honor of hearing from people from all over the world. My inbox grew by the year and I answered every single letter, interacting with a rainbow of readers. From a retired artist in Australia to a 12-year-old in my home town of Phoenix, I got to know complete strangers endearingly. Births, marriages, retirements, illnesses, deaths--times a hundred, two hundred. Meantime, in the background, loomed my close-knit family. And then a string came undone. And another....

Sitting here now, as upright as a half-knit sock, I am trying to mend loose ends after an ambitious decade of electronic correspondence. I am trying to re-prioritise. To remember my father's birthday this year

Please excuse this erratic story. I meant to post a rerun--then make lunch, take my daughter back-to-school shopping, and prepare for a family dinner tonight (with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law, we're going to talk about my belle-mère's situation.)  

As for email, I'm signing off for good--unless your name is Mom or Dad or Best Friend or "State Lottery Official." (Just kidding! ...about the State Lottery Official.)


(Writing today's letter was as hard as saying "no." If you do reply to this post, via the link at the end, please do so with support. I need it, just as you do.)


French Vocab
montagne russe = roller coaster
la belle-mère = mother-in-law

Pomegranat tree
That pomegranate tree I told you about. The fruit needs more time to ripen, so we took my mother-in-law a hand-picked bouquet of flowers instead (bougainvillea and sunflowers. It was sweet!)

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ $10    
♥ $25    
♥ Or click here to send the amount of your choice

You can also support this journal by purchasing our book-in-progress, click here.

Guilty in French

How to get to the heart of a matter? Begin randomly. Keep going till you've peeled back all the layers. Pseudo demonstration below.

coupable (koo-pahbl)

    : guilty

se sentir coupable = to feel guilty

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

La décision de placer la personne dans un établissement de soins est l’une des plus difficiles à prendre. Vous pouvez vous sentir coupable et juger que vous n’avez pas été à la hauteur pour prendre soin d’elle.... et vous pouvez avoir l’impression de l’abandonner. The decision to place the person in a care facility is one of the most difficult to make. You might feel guilty, that you haven't been skilled enough to take care of her... and you may have the impression of abandoning her.


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE ... by Kristin Espinasse

"Random Things"

-  Searching the glove pile, Jean-Marc and Max could not find matching pairs for this morning's chores. Le côté positif?  Missing gants = many completed vineyard projects.

- Not counting spam, there are 733 unanswered emails in my inbox. Mea culpa.

-  We now have a nifty net, or filet, catching all those figs that once bit the dust on our pétanque court. Bonjour La Tarte aux Figues!

- Changed mind and chose all of you for the ALS Icebucket Challenge.

- That cute wildlife visitor that appeared at the open window? The one with the adorable wrinkling nose? On closer look it was a giant rat!

- Il faut changer de lunettes. Time to change glasses.

- Email bankruptcy exists.

- Jackie's been gone a total of five weeks and two days this summer.

- Cleaning out my nightstand, found daughter's music box. Pulled the string.

- Mementos are the least filthy and take the longest to clean.

- Buying a pomegranate tree on a whim is better than "a new shoes whim."

- Do women justify more than men?

 - Cette liste est ennuyeuse? Is this list boring?

- My mother-in-law's been in three care facilities since July 7th.

- In the beginning I visited her often.

- Lately, less and less.

- (Çela fait huit jours...)

- I could go today...

- Bring her a magnificent pomegranate. 

- Tell her

- Je t'aime

 *    *    *


Braise and the gloves pile
Braise knows a secret. Sometimes, when no glove matches are to be found, the guys wear the flowery ones.

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ $10    
♥ $25    
♥ Or click here to send the amount of your choice

You can also support this journal by purchasing our book-in-progress, click here.

Smokey in his Speedo for the ALS Ice bucket challenge: Le defi du seau glacé pour ALS.

Thank you for donating here to ALS research. Lou Gehrig's disease may one day be a thing of the past with your help.
Le défi du seau d'eau glacé , pour L'ALS

    : ALS ice bucket challenge

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

Le défi du seau d'eau glacé - a été lancé ces dernières semaines pour susciter les dons en faveur de la lutte contre la maladie de Lou Gehrig - ou maladie de Charcot, ou sclérose latérale amyotrophique (SLA) - une maladie neurodégénérative. The ice bucket challenge began these last few weeks to draw donations in favor of the fight agaist Lou Gehrig's disease - or Charcot's illness, or Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis - a neurodegenerative disease.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

Smokey and His Cohort Bare All in the Name of ALS!

A week ago I saw a headline in my Facebook feed. Dani Shapiro, a writer I follow, was about to have a seau of ice cold water poured over her pretty head. Wearing a white skirt and striped top, she stood on the lawn in front of her home shivering (so far from nerves) as she made the now popular announcement: 
"I've been nominated for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge ...."

What a great way to bring attention to Lou Gehrig's disease! I thought, laughing as the écrivain extraordinaire hobbled off stage (exiting her front lawn with a high pitched shriek). But no sooner had the home video camera quit rolling, than some people were complaining about the ecological ramification of millions of buckets of water poured out across the globe! All in the name of "The Ice Bucket Challenge" (indeed, some participants were no longer naming the cause, or seemed completely unaware of it as they stood hamming it up before the camera, enjoying some innocent summertime fun.). Still others complained about their Facebook feed being clogged with so many of these homemade videos. Some of them awkward ....

Smokey looks for ice water
                           Smokey looking for ice water...

Smokey and I considered all of these complaints when OUR number was called. (When my eleven-year-old niece, Reagan, finished her video and passed the baton to us, Smokey and I had to quickly hatch a plan ....)

Corn and flamingo
Smokey would wear his Speedo. And Smokey's cohort would wear her bikini. We would then step up into the raised vegetable bed and give the corn and the flamingo a good watering! There, now who could criticise us for wasting precious resources? 
Speaking of water, who would pour it over our heads?
Aha! Good idea Smokey, we could rig an old French pulley.... one we'd "borrowed" from a neighbor...
Old french pulley
See it? The old French pulley above a neighbor's window.
Next we'd steal (we mean "borrow") a couple of buckets from our grape harvest supplies here at the vineyard. OK, are you beginning to picture the scene?  Good, lets keep going....

Then, standing there shaking from head to toe (stage fright) Smokey and I would share as much about ALS or Lou Gehrig's as we possibly could--before one of us, with a shivering furry paw, would grab the string of the pulley...
Wait. We need ICE COLD water, Smokey! What's that? You want to use the snow in the photo? OK, first we'll need to build a time machine. That photo was taken years ago!
Plan B. Frozen water bottles!
(Ice cubes are scarce in France, remember?). Yes, frozen water bottles ought to work to cool the liquid!

Well, Smokey, we've got a good plan going and a great opportunity to bring attention to ALS! I'm only sorry for those who feel we're about to clog their Facebook feed with our own colorful version of Le défi du seau glacé pour ALS
What's that, Smokey? We have to do the ALS challenge within 24-hours? Smokey! What time is it?
You say it's "too late time"? You mean we missed the deadline? Oh! And we were so looking forward to freezing our gourdes, or heads off!

Say what, Smokey? You say if we don't make a video in time we have to donate $100 to ALS research? Hmmm....

Want to go 50-50? Thanks, Smokey. You ARE the dog!

Nomination Time! Smokey and I must now choose three people to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. We are randomly choosing three readers from among today's comment. Leave one here and look for your names to be announced in the next edition! If you don't want to video yourself, you can always choose to donate instead. :-)

Thanks, dear reader, for "watching" this written version of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. ALS research needs your support. Don't hesitate. Donate here now. (Smokey is proud to see his name on the Donation Honor Roll, see it here, bottom right. Smokey's cohort is listed, too--anonymously matching his amount).

What do you think about these ALS ice bucket challenges? Have you participated in one? Heard about the accidents and injuries? See the bloopers? Feel free to share the link to your favorite or to comment here.

My beautiful friend Melanie, in France. Last September she lost her life to this horrible disease. It's time to find a cure for ALS. Read Melanie's story, here.  

Melanie's niece, Jessica, writes:
Please join me in continuing to celebrate Melanie's life and help others suffering from ALS.  It has been almost a year since Melanie lost her 18 year battle with ALS and we miss her and her spirit everyday. Melanie was so grateful for the help she received from The ALS Association and I am hoping to continue to help her bring those services to others.  Please consider making a donation using this link:

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ $10    
♥ $25    
♥ Or click here to send the amount of your choice

You can also support this journal by purchasing our book-in-progress, click here.

Drap: On teaching your kids last-minute lessons


While out on a scenic walk with Smokey, we spotted this watercolor artist and his lazy hammock. But cloth swings aren't the topic of the day... sheets are! So read on....

un drap (drah)

    : sheet

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc Download MP3 or Wave file

Plier vos draps-housses au lieu de simplement les ranger tels quels est un moyen pratique d’organiser vos draps et de garder un maximum de rangement. Folding your fitted sheets instead of simply putting them away "as is" is a practical way to organize your sheets and to save a maximum amount of space. -Comment Plier Un Drap Housse

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

Passing my daughter in the hallway, I notice she is carrying a bundled sheet. I watch her open the nearby buffet and cram it in among the stacks of bedding stored there.

"Pas si vite! No so fast!" I say, wagging my finger.

"But it's clean!" Jackie argues. She's only used the drap housse two nights--when she and her best friend took over her brother's new studio in Aix.

"Yes, it is, and you are right to put it back," I say, congratulating my teenager on her consideration. There was a time in the not-so-distant past when I would deliver a stack of freshly-washed and line-dried clothing to her room only to find it back in the laundry basket after the clean clothes ended up on the floor--mixed in with the rest!

Thankfully those days are over. Only now Jackie needs to learn how to fold a fitted sheet. "I'm going to show you an astuce!" I say, bracing for my daughter's resistence. But before she can roll her eyes, I play the sentimental card:

"...Your great-grandmother Audrey taught me this one...."

My student is now willing, if not super enthusiastic. "Here take this," I say, shaking out the bundle. "Now find one corner and poke your index finger in its seam!" 

Jackie is less triumphant when she locates the stitched coin, but I won't let her boredom dampen things. "There! Now, in the same way, reach over and locate another corner seam. Then join your fingertips!" 

I manage to drop the sheet during the demonstration. Reaching to pick it up, I hear my daughter rouspéter with impatience.

"Jackie, this trick will come in handy one day. Imagine two years from now when you are in college....

My girl is not sold on the homemaking tip so I add some key words.

"When you are in school in Boulder you'll have a little place rien que pour toi. Then you'll be happy to organize your living space and this tip will help." I shake out the fallen sheet, but my daughter groans. Apparently a sheet-folding demonstration is as painful as a tooth-pulling!

Normally at this point I give up and do it myself. But this time I take a good long look at my almost seventeen-year-old. Her grumblings turn to silly faces as she tries to coax me out of a serious mood.

Gripping the sheet the words pour out of me. "Jackie. LET ME BE YOUR MOM.... I have so much catching up to do. So many things to show you before you finish growing up."

My eyes begin to sting and, blinking them, I feel my daughter's arms around me. Her tender voice is a lullaby:

Maman, pleure pas....

*    *    *

It's a day later now and, after the tears, c'est le sourire. Do you know, dear daughter, that when your brother was little, he used to say the same thing only with difficulty? 

"Peur pas!" he would say to you, his newborn soeurette. And now you are almost grown. Big enough to stay overnight in Aix at your brother's new digs! Max will be leaving home in a few weeks, taking over the apartment permanently, and I wonder how things will be then? Will we feel the void?

Peur pas! I hear Max's little voice. I remember it so well! And now I imagine his current 19-year-old voice: "Pleur pas, Maman. I'm leaving you my sister. And my laundry, weekly."

My nostalgic daydream bursts when I remember the 10-pound laundry bag delivered just this morning. Well! If he thinks I'm going to continue to be his personal laundress he's got another thing coming: Mom's Sheet-folding lessons. The full, unedited, teeth-pulling version!

French Vocabulary

une astuce = a tip, trick, trade secret
le coin = corner
rouspéter = gripe, grumble, moan
rien que pour toi = all for yourself
le sourire = smile
la soeurette = little sister
peur pas = fear not

sunflower seeds growing in the backyard
 After posting here, I love to go over to Instagram and upload the latest photos of our home and garden. You'll see Smokey, Chief Grape, the "kids", Jules, and the local environment here on a vineyard near Bandol. Click here to see the latest images.

Readers Comments

This comment from Cathy, in response to my covoiturage post, made me smile. It might encourage you to check out BlaBlaCar when next in France.

Having read concerns people have posted I have to say that what sold me originally on the service was that I was able to read reviews. Reviews of both drivers as well as of passengers. You can see how long someone has been a driver, what kind of car they drive. Drivers can check out passengers. I will always choose a veteran driver if I have a choice. I chose my first driver because he had positive reviews and one said he had transported their rabbit. Haha! That's who I wanted!! Turns out he's a Marseilles detective that lives in Perpignan do transits twice a week. So doing some research in advance and you can avoid a lot of surprises. Yes, it was a bit odd to climb into a car with three strange men at 1:30 in the morning at a parking area at a highway exit. But that miracle ride took me directly to Barcelona airport for a 6 am flight. Hip hip hooray for Blah Blah Car and the people who use it!

    To read the covoiturage post, click here.

Enjoy many more photos of France at Instagram

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ $10    
♥ $25    
♥ Or click here to send the amount of your choice

You can also support this journal by purchasing our book-in-progress, click here.


Ride or walk
What's your favorite way to get around France? Walk or ride? If you said "ride," then today's covoiturage tip is for you! 

le covoiturage (ko-vwah-tewr-ahzh)

    : rideshare, carshare, carsharing, carpool

Audio File and Example SentenceDownload MP3 or Wav file

BlablaCar est un service de covoiturage economique, ecologique et convivial. BlaBlaCar is a carpool service that's economical, ecological and convivial.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

Fill 'er up with passengers!

Certain members of my family are enjoying a new and inexpensive and efficient way to travel around France: le covoiturage!

This all began a few weeks back, when Jean-Marc traveled to the west coast to see about more grapevines (he just can't help himself!). Chief Grape was going to take the train, but that would limit him sur place (how to get to those hilltop vineyards?). That's when he discovered BlaBlaCar.  

"The Paris-based BlaBlaCar helps match up drivers and passengers for long trips across Europe while avoiding the regulatory issues that have tripped up Uber."

While BlaBlaCar might not help a passenger get from sea-level to the top of those hilly vineyards (the service is more for city-to-city travel), as a driver my husband could enjoy those benefits and more for his séjour in Collioure (the coastal town where he'd be lodging, not far from appellation Banyuls)! 

Faster than you can say VROOM!, Jean-Marc was loading his car with his beloved bike and a bevy of complete strangers! Finding the passagers was easy: all my husband had to do was type in his departure and arrival coordinates. BlaBlaCar then begins its interrogation: "would you be willing to pick up someone in Cassis? And in Marseilles? And in Montpellier?... All cities cited are right on the driven path, so a driver needn't go out of his way.

"The key competitive advantage of the company is that it’s much cheaper to share a ride than to take a train or a plane. The average 200 miles ride costs $25 on average." article on BlaBlaCar

You never know what kind of car you'll travel in, when you sign up for covoiturage. But if you happen to get our car (a family van) it will be a little cozier than the one above--if not as charming!

This morning Jean-Marc headed for the Alps, where he'll be roughing it for next three days (I'm staying behind, to meet a few writing deadlines--or, to say it another way: I don't do well camping all night and biking all day with large groups of people!).

My husband left an hour earlier than scheduled, after the BlaBlarCar app informed him last night of a new potential passenger--just up the road in La Ciotat. 

"You're going to get up at 4 a.m. instead of 5, just so you can have one more passenger? Is it really worth it?" I asked, amazed.

But I don't need to hear the answer, I can already understand the satisfaction of filling one's car to the brim with paying travelers! (I'm remembering back to that solo and pricy aller-retour I made to airport in Nice last month, to pick up my daughter. Instead of paying $60 in gas and toll fees, I could have cashed in on a carfull of passengers and enjoyed some company along the way!)

"There's even a social aspect to it: The app's name derives from just users rate themselves on how chatty they want to be in the car, from “Bla” to “BlaBlaBla." (Christian Science Monitor article on BlaBlaCar)

Speaking of my daughter, she is the latest fan of covoiturage. Recently Jackie opted for rideshare instead of taking the train from St. Cyr to Aix-en-Provence--saving herself 10 euros (15 euros one way to Aix, only 5 euros when you share the ride). She and her best friend were chauffered by a young law student from Sanary sur Mer. (Jean-Marc and I checked out his profile on BlaBlaCar's website and verified passenger feedback. We could also note his phone number, which is more than we could do had the girls secretly hitchhiked--as so many French kids do!)

When I called my Mom in Mexico, telling her about the new and inexpensive way to travel across France, she begged for a return visit. "I want to go to Aix... and Marseilles... and why not Paris!" Meantime she encouraged me to hop on the bandwagon. "Get out and see the world!" she cheered.

Now to get over my hang-up of sharing confined spaces. Maybe after that I'll go camping with my husband ... who'll then have to sacrifice one of his paid seats, just for me :-)

*    *    *
Post note: I wish BlaBlaCar had an affiliate program. I might have hit the jackpot after today's glowing review! Instead, the company encourages citizens to spread the word for free; in return we are making the world a little greener. How's that for compensation?

Ken kobre jean-marc espinasse

Kristi Ken Betsy Jean-Marc

What a chance to watch Ken Kobré (center) film Jean-Marc for Ken's documentary on rosé, "The Color of Wine." That's Betsy, Ken's charming wife and assistant, cradling a bottle of Domaine Rouge-Bleu. And there's Jean-Marc--can you see him in the window?

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ $10    
♥ $25    
♥ Or click here to send the amount of your choice

You can also support this journal by purchasing our book-in-progress, click here.

late bloomer in French

1-IMG_20140809_093833-EFFECTS (1)

First corn! Pictured this way it reminds me of The Good Witch's wand from The Wizard of Oz. That sure explains the magic going on around here, in the veggie patch! (Forgive me for the over-saturated photo. All that Instagraming is driving out the purist in me! More photos from our corner of France right here at Instagram.)

Today's word is in English - for our French readers' enjoyment: 

Late Bloomer

    : a late-blooming plant (une plante tardive)
    : someone who took his or her time to learn something or to bloom
      (quelqu'un qui a pris son temps pour découvrir sa passion)

Audio File: Listen to the sentence in French, below: Download MP3 or Wave file

(Today's example sentence is in honor of one of our readers, Herm, who also has a blog Herm's Rhyme Thyme)

He is what we call in English "a late bloomer." He began to publish his poetry after the age of 85.
Il est ce qu'on appelle en anglais "une plante tardive." Il a commencé à publier sa poesie après l'âge de quatre-vignt-cinq ans.

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

Sometime in May I began to notice how everyone else's tomato plants were growing and mine were not. I started pacing up and down the pathways in our garden in search of spontaneous seedlings. (New to permaculture I hoped for natural, automatic crops--raised from the ashes of last year's abundance!)
In June my husband brought home store-bought tomato plants, au cas où. Around that time, I began noticing how everyone south of Paris was racking in loads of strawberries. But my own fraisiers were no more than masses of green leaves, no berries in sight. 

By the time the neighborhood fruit stand ran out of strawberries, my plants began to show blossoms. Then came the tiny fruit. There was never enough to fill a whole basket, but it was easy to enjoy a few strawberries each morning while out pulling weeds in the would-be veggie patch.

Finally the tomato seedlings shot up! There were no tomatoes yet but that didn't matter--by then my neighbor, Annie, was delivering sackfuls from her potager!

"Compte sur moi le mois prochain," I promised Annie, pointing to those aromatic seedlings (the tomato scent was unmistakable!) which would ripen just like the strawberries--plus tard. I would then reciprocate, sharing a bounty of my own!

Now, each morning passes and I'm out in the garden, popping giant strawberries (green tops included!)  into my mouth as I go about my chores. I don't have baskets and baskets to show for it, but if you added up the incremental "harvest" or the number of times I've opened my mouth and thrown back a strawberry you could equate that to an entire farmers market stand marked "FRAISES A VENDRE!" (And if you added the times my golden assistant, Smokey, sneaked a berry, you might count a truckload!)

      Caught in the act! 

Oftentimes while digging in the garden I wonder why I didn't learn to jardiner years ago. Meantime, I'm enjoying watching my tomatoes fatten up (they still have not turned red) and can you believe those kernels of corn grew up? (Oh, I have not told you about them!) As for the maïs, I have no way of knowing whether I'm behind again this time--as no one grows corn in Provence. Either way, I've learned a thing or two about my garden and myself, namely that we're both late-bloomers. 


Roma tomato
Roma tomatoes. The yellow flower in the background is wild St John's Wort, a good insectary and a good herbal treatment for Jean-Marc's  biodynamic permaculture* vineyard. (*he'll be adding fava beans between vine rows soon!)


au cas où = just in case
un fraisier
= strawberry plant
le potager = kitchen garden, veggie patch
Compte sur moi = count on me
le mois prochain
= next month
plus tard = later on
jardiner = to garden
le maïs = corn, maize

  Strawberries or fraises
A precious few, or enough to share.

Note for annie

Now find a toothpick and recycle some stationary....


And don't worry about your French too much, just let someone know you're thinking of them:


It's just a little "kiss" to tell you I'm thinking of you. It's hot and I don't go out much. But (thank goodness) it's summertime.


Pictured in the canning jar: tarragon to fill in all the empty space, mint blossoms to add charm, fennel flowers for a burst of yellow! and a precious handful of fraises for neighbor Annie's dessert.

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ $10    
♥ $25    
♥ Or click here to send the amount of your choice

You can also support this journal by purchasing our book-in-progress, click here.

trinquer + photos of winetasting

Harvesting grapes at Domaine Rouge-Bleu
My favorite harvester, Jackie, from Scotland.

Today's Word: TRINQUER

: to clink glasses, to toast

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

Trinquer. Venez chez nous ce soir. On va trinquer à notre santé.
To toast. Come over to our place tonight. We're going to toast to our health.

Photos from our recent winetasting...

Baby vines at Mas Des Brun 

We sold Domaine Rouge-Bleu to Caroline and Thomas in the summer of 2012. Since, Jean-Marc and I have been building another vineyard and starting a permaculture garden behind our farmhouse, or mas. Little by little, we are getting our grounding here in "appellation Bandol."

Recently, we organized our first public wine tasting here at "Mas des Brun" and guests have been sending in photos ever since. What a pleasure it is to see our vineyard through another's eyes! Thank you, Dorothy and Steve Pancoast, for today's images which help us to see beyond the daily task list. Looks like those chores have added up and this place is looking snappy!

Mixed in with this group of pictures are a few snapshots from readers Nick and Jill. And, recently, Anita and Meiling, who met each other at the tasting, sent in some extraordiary shots! I hope to show you those photos at the next chance. If I forget, please bug me about it and I'll get on it dar dar!

Click here to see the photo album with some of the pictures from our first winetasting at Mas des Brun.


Photos in this post by Dorothy and Steve Pancoast. Click here to see the entire album.

Recent review of my book "First French Essais"
"Kristin Espinasse is an American from Arizona who moved to France several years ago to marry her French boyfriend, Jean-Marc who she lovingly nicknamed "Chief Grape" since he's into the winemaking business. As one who reads the author's blog, "" I pretty much knew what to expect since the "French Essais" in this book were taken from some of her blogs written over the years.

First-French-Essais-book-coverHer book (and her blog which is also written in English) take us to some of her interesting adventures in a foreign country and sometimes through trials and tribulations in living in France while trying to adapt to a new language and a new culture while raising two kids. Through Kristin's stories, we also meet some of her neighbors and colorful locals. What I didn't expect was the many beautiful photos throughout this book that the author has taken and they're all in color!"

To order your copy of First French Essais, click here.

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
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You can also support this journal by purchasing our book-in-progress, click here.

Caught red-handed in French

Kristi driving ape truck

En flagrant délit. How to say "two-timing" in French? Beats me, but the definition might be: to have a longtime commitment to one's blog ... when suddenly an obsession for another site takes over! (That site would be Instagram where I keep sneaking off to post another photo from home. Click here to follow this photographic affair and catch me en flagrant délit).

en flagrant délit (ahn flah-grahn-day-lee)

    : caught in the act, caught red-handed

Audio File & Example SentenceDownload MP3 or Wav file

Le flagrant délit ou délit flagrant est une situation où une personne est prise sur le fait au moment de son infraction ou immédiatement après et en possession d'indices démontrant sa participation à cette infractionFlagrant délit or délit flagrant is a situation where a person is caught in the act at the moment of the crime or immediately afterwards and holding clues showing his or her participation in this crime. (from Wikipedia)

First French Essais. New to this site? You might enjoy this collection of vocabulary-rich stories including the juicy background on how this site began. Click here to order.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

We had to cancel Wednesday's dégustation de vin after learning our kitchen renovation was about to start again.

Those concrete floors we had poured began to bleed, crack and spit. Then the builders ran off. Last week they called from a secret hiding place to announce their impending arrival: first thing Wednesday morning, et que ça saute! (And we'd better be ready!)

My husband is not touched by their change of heart. As for me, I hope it turns out to be a good idea to tile over that concrete. It'll add an inch or two to the already raised floor (up until now we've managed to cross over the kitchen-dining room threshold without tripping. The height has been so slight that even our feet did not detect the different niveaux.

The other night, with temperatures rising to caniculaire heights, I could not sleep and so decided to go for a midnight snack. It was easy-breezy to slip in and out of the kitchen, finishing up the rest of the herbed finger potatoes... but things may soon get complicated when a new level of difficulty arises on Wednesday. 

Heureusement God gave us "tip toes" to navigate these hazards in the road. But then He also gave us a conscience that's hard to delete each time we sneak off to eat those illicit and delicious treats! 

la dégustation du vin = winetasting
et que ça saute! = and get right on it!
le niveau, niveaux = level 
caniculaire = scorching, sweltering
heureusement = happily, thankfully

Reverse Dictionary
tip toes = la pointe des pieds

Discover more of France with author Patricia Sands.
Thank you, Patricia Sands, for the wonderful and helpful mention on your blog. I know many of us will enjoy discovering the other France-related sites that you featured on your site Everyone Has a Story. To read the post, click here.

More photos from France at Instagram

Don't forget to visit my Instagram page. It is a real pleasure to post these images from our backyard in France. Click here and once you get to the page look for the follow button.

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ $10    
♥ $25    
♥ Or click here to send the amount of your choice

You can also support this journal by purchasing our book-in-progress, click here.