Stepmother or stepmom in French
October 9th meetup + joie de vivre

Handy tool in every French home

House in cassis

Visited Cassis last week with my belle-mère and my father. At La Plage du Bestouan we saw this charming home perched over the sea. More photos and videos of this past week's happenings--at Instagram.

la serpillière (sair-pee-yair)

    : floor cloth, mop, swab

une pompe serpillière = utility pump for draining flood water
la serpillière gaufrée = cloth with a deep waffle pattern, handy for soaking up water

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

Serpillière. Pour éponger l'eau de l'inondation nous avons utilisé des robes de chambre, des serviettes de plage et des serpillières. Floor cloth. To soak up water from the flood, we used bathrobes, beach towels, and floor cloths.

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

No Time for Jetlag!


Every since my Dad and my belle-mère left on Saturday, I've been remembering scenes from their visit. For when my family is near--even a stormy day is bright... et c'est le cas de le dire (and you can say that again!)

After Dad and Marsha's arrival and a good night's sleep, we were having café au lait near the kitchen, gazing out the window at the gentle rain when the weather suddenly changed gears. I remember sitting there, hoping for a second cup of coffee instead of a reality check, when my Dad voiced my troubled thoughts: "Do you think we ought to look outside the kitchen door--and check the evacuation drain?"

Opening that door caused one of us to begin running around the house, shouting a French version of  The Sky is Falling. Meantime my belle-mère Marsha spoke calmly. "Do you have a roasting pan?" 

(A roasting pan? To catch the sky?)

With no other bright ideas, I followed Belle-mère Marsha's example. The oven doors flew open, two roasting pans were yanked out, and we went to work sweeping the flow of water into the pans and emptying them into the kitchen sink. 

 An hour and a half later, with the help of my dad, my daughter, and a modest pile of absorbant flood tools (bathrobes, beach towels and floor rags) we managed to drain the kitchen of floodwater.

As Marsha swept the last of the water into the tilted roasting pans, and Dad and I took turns catching it, my belle-mère suggested we might invest in a utility pump for the future.

"You mean they make those?" Why hadn't I thought of it before? Something so powerfully... absorbent!

Wet dog
Old photo of Brez and Smokey. They're much bigger now, with fuller coats...

As if on cue, our two golden retrievers returned from the safety of higher ground (we'd moved them to an upstairs room for safety). Looking at all that golden absorbent hair, I finally had a bright idea of my own. Next time we wouldn't need a fancy pump! A couple of giant yellow sponges that could ring themselves out each time... ça c'est du pur génie! Pure genius!

 *    *    *
Update: Yesterday we had another storm when I was here alone. I had been monitering rainfall all afternoon, anxious that the flood doors would open the moment an important visitor was scheduled to arrive... See the story updates when you scroll down my Facebook page

Flood tools I wish I had!

Dad grele

La grêle! Just after the flood, when the sun broke through. We discovered just what kind of storm was going on outside while we were busy with the flood inside.... Here is Dad measuring the hail! To comment on this post, click here.


Smokey Golden retriever

Smokey's store is open! Today he is selling the Love You More pillows and these citrus trees--which make a home brighter. No matter which pillow or tree you buy at Amazon, when you enter the store via this link your purchase helps support this free word journal. Merci beaucoup! 

Promises to keep by Patricia SandsIn books: have you read Patricia Sands "The Promise of Provence"? The sequel is out: Promises To Keep.

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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Alison at The Gracious Posse

Not flooding from rainwater but from a washing machine hose that detached over the weekend in my daughter’s rental apartment. Fortunately we were visiting, and my husband used a dust pan to scoop the water into a bucket. It was a mess, but the dust pan made a good scoop.

Cynthia Gillespie-Smith

Kristi, I have NEVER seen a storm worse than that one, although as I was trapped inside the garage with water rising, I really didn't see much of it -- only the damage it caused. When I tried to leave the garage into the river that is normally our parking lot, the pompiers told me to stay put. Glad you had good helpers chez-toi, and the roasting pans!

Jeanne in Oregon

We have had a long dry summer with very little rain until this month (typical in our part of Oregon). As a woman over 60 who has lived in the same area all my life, I am not one who is alarmed about global warming, having seen the results of 35-40 year weather cycless for myself. Alarmists have predicted the polar caps would be gone by now and coastal cities washed away (including New York), but the opposite has occurred as they have actually grown.

The biggest change I see each year as the seasons change is the population of spiders inside grows proportionately as outside temperatures drop. I have little fear of most critters, but I can't stand spiders!

We did experience some basement flooding about 30 years ago, but we had a "French drain" installed around the house and the basement has remained dry ever since. Perhaps you could see if a similar system could eliminate future kitchen floods.

Stay dry, my friend,

Jeanne in Oregon

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
Wow, we could use some rain here! Is that why JM was digging a trench....for the excess rain? Love the top photo and the photo of your dad with the hail. I haven't seen much hail here in Virginia. Love the photo of Smokey on the porch, looks so inviting! I enjoyed reading Patricia Sands book!


I kind of wish we had that flooding problem, but we are in California and have no water to fill our lakes. The lawns are browning due to mandatory water rationing, as watering pretty green things is regarded as an "unnecessary" use of the precious liquid. So send us the excess from your roasting pans and serpillieres, s'il vous plait! Smile - what is the French equivalent of "LOL" (laughing out loud) ?

Catharine Ewart-Touzot

what a totally charming picture of the house in Cassis. The kitchen flooding certainly came at an opportune time, with your Father and Belle Mere to help..I have been through many a hurricane where we had the same problem with water pouring in through the windows and doors all night...that is when one certainly appreciates tile floors!


Our dear Kristi,
Another wonderful story with beautiful pictures!
The best part is sharing this adventure with your dear Dad and lovely(inspired!) Marsha!
Thank you for sharing it with us!
I have forgotten what rain looks like,the heavenly scent of everything after it kisses them...we are on water restriction,trying to get through a horrible long term drought.
Your words today not only give me hope,but the memory of rain itself brings a smile to my heart.
Natalia. xo

Edward Bornet

A couple of catch up notes. I love Smokey. He seems like a great dog. On my next trip to visit family in La Cadiere, I would like to visit him. You all can speak French with my french wife while I am petting Smokey.
I read that your husband was at Ch. Pibarun. We have visited there as has our son, he has been stocking their wines whenever he can get some in Texas. We usually bring some back home.
I am glad you had a fine visit from your family. It sounded like fun except for the kitchen flood. What was your dad calling an evacuation drain. I'm not familiar with that term in English, much less French.

Best to you and your family, and give Smokey a pet for me.

Joan L.

mdr (mort de rire) for lol, je pense.
I have heard of people in California painting their lawns green this year so they don't look so bad from not being able to water.
Joan L.

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