Immobilier, My Sister Heidi and Word of Mouth in French
Armistice or Veterans Day & France's Wartime vegetable

Lovers Quarrel and Accidental Revenge, in French

Several olive trees have now been moved to make way for our 2016 vine planting. My husband and I don't agree on the uprooting of some of these trees, so this has been a rough week! How ironic to squabble over an olive tree when its very branches symbolize la paix. Read about prise de bec, in today's story column.

TODAY'S EXPRESSION: la vengeance est douce

    : revenge is sweet

Hear Jean-Marc pronounce today's phrase. (Update: I have been working on these soundfiles. Let me know, in the comments box, if you still cannot hear the phrase when clicking on one of these: Download MP3 or Wav file

by Kristin Espinasse

"Monsieur Sticky Pits"

After Wednesday's lovers spat, when each of us had stormed off to a random boudoir (literally: a room where one boudes, or pouts), I realized my husband had scored by getting our spacious and cozy bedroom whilst I was left to sulk beside the bidet in the bathroom!  

There in my étroit chamber of self-righteousness, anger soon turned to ennui, and boredom, for me, often leads to an attack of the munchies. I remembered the fresh-baked French yogurt cake still cooling in the oven, and suddenly gluttony overcame pride. 

Only, what if Jean-Marc were to come out of hiding, too? How now to cross the war zone in dignity? Now that my stone face had turned into a dopey pie face I was losing credibility as Mrs Mad-at-You. Leave the room now and risk not being able to keep a straight face. More close to laughing, now, than to crying, all I wanted at this point was to let this whole thing blow over in time for cake! 

And yet, sitting there on the closed toilet seat, the hunger for righteousness was still slightly stronger than the hunger for gâteau, so I waited things out a while longer, amusing myself with a visual tour of our bathroom.

There was the fresh garden rosemary I had piled against the wall, to hide the unpainted pipes from our visitors. And there was the empty laundry basket (harrumph! look who is on top of the chores around here!). And there, on the edge of the sink, was my small can of hairspray. That's odd. Why was the hairspray out? I don't remember using it.... 

And then it dawned on me:  my husband had mistaken my hairspray for his aerosol deodorant.  Ah là là!  Revenge is sweet!

I mentioned the subject of our quarrel in the opening photo of this post. Update: Jean-Marc managed to keep most of the olive trees. We lost a few, but he did spare one - and had the giant tractor gently set the old tree in my permaculture garden! To comment on this post, click here.

la paix = peace
la prise de bec = argument
le boudoir = woman's room, little office (also a "ladyfinger" or finger-shaped cookie)
le bidet = sink for washing your bottom
étroit = confined
l'ennui (m) = lack of interest, boredom
le gâteau = cake

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


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Chris Allin

Dear Kristi,

After an unusual long and sleepless night, my day has begun with a huge belly laugh. Thank you for that! Perhaps chuckles, as I think of your story, will propel me throughout the day. The fact that you can find humor in the wake of an upsetting disagreement is probably very healing.
It is overwhelming to see a noble and grand old tree being pulled from its age old place on earth. But fingers crossed that it will settle its roots into new ground and thrive under your watchful care. Perhaps it will give Smokey a shaded spot near your garden in the heat of the summer. What a mix of emotions comes from your missive today!

Kristin Espinasse

Hello Chris,  I hope you get a good nights sleep tonight. Also,  just as you imagined, Smokey went right out and sat beneath the old olive tree,  where we both enjoyed the shade.

Cynthia Gillespie-Smith

SUCH a well written post, Kristi. I am still laughing! Saw your EXCELLENT photos on instagram for the first time -- très impressionnantes!

Kathleen from Connecticut

Funny post. Food conquers all it seems.
I hope that your tree survives and produces lots of fruit. It is a beauty of an old tree.
I'm glad to see that Smokey is doing well, but I am sure he still misses his mom.
Have a great day.



Hi Kristin,

Nice! Are you and "Mr. Sticky Pits" talking now? hehe

I hope the olive tree likes the new spot and I love the picture of Smokey! :-)


Hilarious!!! We can all relate to going off into separate corners after a disagreement. Having made that yogurt cake, I can now imagine it more clearly. SO good!! Yum. Can't help but wonder at what point did Jean-Marc realize he didn't have deodorant on?! Really loved this post! That last picture is just perfection. :-)

Kristin Dinenberg

Hilarious! Love it!

Bruce in Northwest Connecticut

Can't stop laughing. Is his underarm hair stiff and crackly? Or is it well-styled?

The MP3 played just fine. I couldn't get the .wav to play, but I think that's because I lack the requisite software.

Trina from St. Petersburg, FL USA

Thanks for the laugh, along with the seriousness. I hope you are able to gather some expert advice on tending to the tree. It sounds like it will be much appreciated where it's been placed to take root.

This little post hit emotion and memory buttons for me. Emotions as I tend to a tiny myrtle out front of my mother's house.
Somewhere around 50 years ago my grandfather planted the tree for my mom. It never quite took. However, it must have just been dormant in the earth because the year she was on hospice care at home that tree began to sprout out of the ground and, at barely a foot tall, it even bloomed! Now I agonize about leaving it when I move on. Will new homeowners rip it out of the ground, unappreciative of it's still very small stature? After all this, would this lovely plant survive if I rescued it by taking it with me when I go?

The memories had me thinking of a quarrel with a beau from my 20s ... when all of a sudden we began laughing at how ridiculous we were behaving. As always, thanks for sharing and providing a pleasant start to my morning.

Cynthia P. Lewis

There is something heartrending about uprooting an old and venerable tree. Having it moved to your garden helped sooth your distress. Nevertheless, you can always find a way to involve your readers with your intuitive writing. Thanks so much for the chuckles and smiles which you sent my way!

Patricia Cowan

Today would have been my late husband's birthday...thank you once more for such great enjoyment I receive from your blog!


Kristin - your passion for the trees and plants and flowers - nature done naturally - it's inspiring. This must have been hard for you! Bravo to Jean-Marc for at least extending the olive branch by planting the tree in your permaculture garden!

I also like your new view from the balcon - you can see the hills in the distance. C'est une belle vue! And just imagine soon you'll see the vines growning there where the olive tress were! Trading one beautiful view for another. Blessings dear Kristin and Jean-Marc!

Micki W. Simms

Thinking how beautifully crafted this was to have been a story about a quarrel, I then arrived at the last time! HILARIOUS! This is a great story! One for a magazine!



Kristin Espinasse

Patricia,  thinking of you on this special day.
Eileen, yes,  alls well that ends well!
Bruce, Thanks,  and thanks for the sound file feedback!
Mickie,  Mille mercis!
Thank you all for this wonderful feedback. What a pleasure to read your words. Have a good weekend and see you next week!

catharine ewart-touzot

to destroy an ancient oak for a few more ...whatever..would be for me very difficult to recover from..I had a client once who was going on one week of non speaking to her husband for cutting down an oak, a regular oak, not a massive or live oak, just what he thought was a regular "tree" my experience of 40 yrs as a landscape designer it is usually men who want to defoliate their plot of ground..although it was my daughter who wanted to do the unholy thing of taking down a dogwood so that her blueberries would be more it seems that the bottom line here is your husband and my daughter decided that there was a real need to remove an important tree in order to achieve a better goal...which is life itself. For the record I fought for the dogwood and I would have fought for the olive tree....but in the end I loved my daughter time make it to the bedroom first!

Alice Shupe

I appreciate the "realness" of your post. Anyone married for very long (almost 35 for us now) recognizes this scenario. I've often reminded myself that it's ok to disagree, even loudly sometimes, as long as love wins out - even if it takes a little cooling off in le boudoir ou la toilette d'abord!


It all reminds me of "A time to live, a time to die, a time to laugh, a time to cry, .....a time for everything under the sun"....don't understand any of it but all part of great mystery...

Love the pics...the one of Smokey is priceless.


I remember how much effort was made a few years ago to trim those trees and make them healthy. Glad JM saved some of them.


Good story, great that laughter won out, and you wanted cake :-) And sweet of Jean Marc to put one of the olive trees in your garden. That is a healthy quarrel!



Your spat with Jean-Marc reminds me so much of little spars with Chris, where he would end up doing something sweet and touching for me, after we were both finished 'pouting' or being mad, in disagreement of how something should be. I'd give my eye teeth, and more, to have more 'spats' with him. A gentle man (sometimes stubborn), maybe a bit like Jean-Marc. :) Enjoy it all! So happy he gave you and your garden a precious peace offering!

So sorry - have not been able to hear Jean-Marc's audio for a few weeks. Something has changed - perhaps my computer as I have loaded Microsoft 10. Love your columns and miss the audio!


Our dear Kristi,
What a beautiful post and pictures!
I am especially touched by your tree de paix in your garden;it will be a rememberance for always of the strength of the love that you and Jean Marc share--
no matter what the disagreement,you have each other's backs.Forever.
Without doubt,one of life's biggest blessings.
Natalia XO

Kristin Espinasse

Sorry to hear that,  Suzanne. Have you waited long to hear the recording (sometimes there is a lengthy lapse...).

GwenEllyn Anderson

How do you say "been there - done that" in French? After a tiff with a dear friend and colleague, I stomped out to the parking lot only to find out that a plow had put a bank of snow behind my car and I needed help getting out of the snow bank. I humbly walked back to the office and asked for help. It was graciously given and we laughed at the way it works sometimes.

Deborah Zajac

ROFL! I laughed out loud! Did he fess up to making the mistake of using your hairspray? Wonder how that felt having slightly stiff underarm hair. OMG! That was hilarious.

I hope you both had a laugh over that while munching on your cake.

I also hope the Olive trees that were transplanted survive the move.

Be well, and safe!

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

I opened this on Mozilla Firefox, and both sound files worked well, sound from the start for the short sentence. Less success when I opened in the aol mail software, which is my issue not yours.

It would hurt me to lose an ancient olive tree. It is good that one was saved for your garden.

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