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Entries from April 2016

Let's talk about Depression : broyer du noir

 Happy Days then and now.  Photo taken in 1991


Today's Word: broyer du noir

    : to feel defeated, demoralized, depressed

AUDIO FILE - Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's word and sentence: 

Download MP3 or Wav file

broyer du noir. Quand quelqu'un est déprimé il voit tout en noir.
To feel dejected. When someone's depressed, the see everything in black.


I am discombobulated lately. Ce dernier temps, je chamboule... This happens when a series of things happen all at once. This week we are having our house painted, I have some writing deadlines, and many guests arriving. Bigger than this is my husband's recent depression (he has a history of it. It is debilitating. And you would never know it from appearances. Please pray.)

Also, I am anxious about the emails, requests and updates that I receive from readers. Please accept my sincere apologies for not answering all emails or being of much help. Please know that it is a great pleasure to read your letters, but that I am unable to answer. 

I resist writing these kinds of posts, and I fear the occasional troll response that would point out to all my readers what a perfect and priviledged life I have. Coincidentally, this is the same thing caring friends tell my husband. But it does not take away his depression. He knows he has a good life. And so do I.

Thanks for listening and for understanding. I recently read that writers write as a form of therapy. In which case, I am very lucky to have so many caring "thérapeutes" reading. Mille mercis. And thank you for praying for Jean-Marc. 




 Today in the comments let's talk about depression. Many thanks for anything you can share, any encouragements you can give. Click here to comment


Jean-marc kristin

Jean-Marc and Kristi-golfing

A random jumble of photos





 Our town hall marriage, in July of 1994

Vendange2004 013

2004. Our 10th anniversary


21st anniversary

 #ChiefGrape #Chiefforever

I've spent the past 3 months trying to think of the right words to encourage Jean-Marc. If you can think of any, thanks for sharing in the comments. CLICK HERE.

Two home-rental sites in France. Check out each one:
- for high quality vacation rentals in the heart of Provence.
FRANCE & MONACO Exclusive short-term holiday rental properties throughout France & Monaco.

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 help 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.

Common sense in French

Bonjour from sunny St Cyr-sur-Mer. I am unable to post photos today (more about that, below), and so will get right to today's useful French word: le bon sens. I'll use the definition as the title to the following story...

I am typing this post on my tablet, which is propped up on a stack of bright checkered dish towels here on our dining room table. My desk is unavailable, there being a painter in my office, aka, our bedroom. For an office-bedroom the space is surprisingly zen--in case your mind was conjuring up some sort of feng-shui disaster. No, this week's disaster took place elsewhere....

It was a quiet disaster, as disasters go, and quite a smelly one. I first caught whiff of it as our friends were leaving, after an overnight stay....

Standing beside the couch, Philippe, Laurence and 10-year-old Paul-Louis were saying goodbye when a hair-curling odor rose amongst us. As happens in these delicate situations, everyone pretended the offensive (gas? stench? ) didn't exist. And for once I didn't explain things away....

Waving goodbye to our old friends, who disappeared down the gravel driveway, I began working sporadically in the garden, punctuating each burst of effort with a short pause on the couch, located just beyond the front door (propped open before a great blue sky). I love sitting there, facing the Mediterranean pines on the hill between here and Bandol. The forest view is framed by vines hanging from the pergola over our front porch. Smokey is in the frame too, peacefully dozing--or looking longingly toward the woman who just sat down on the couch.

But each time I rested, that Saturday morning, I became aware of a sickening scent. Why is it that when guests come over our brand new septic tank acts up? I thought I'd solved the mystery, when I remembered how I always cleaned the toilets just before visitors arrive. It seems the action of plunging the brush into the toilet bowl has some sort of reflux effect. So I've learned not to pump the brush. Just scour, then flush.

Saturday continued with many advancements in the garden, each followed by a stinky couch break, and yet it never occurred to me the odor could be coming from anywhere but the toilet, in the next room (it also never occurred to me to take my intermittent breaks in another room, which proves I'm slow).

By dinnertime I swore I wouldn't have one more snack on the couch beside the reeking powder room! Anyways, I was beginning to feel nauseous.

When Jean-Marc returned from work late Saturday night, he noticed the stench right away. 
"It's the fosse septique," I informed him, before tucking myself into bed, feeling ill by now.

A little while later my husband came into the room. "It wasn't the septic tank, and the odor was not coming from the toilet. It was coming from beneath the couch! I have found the mouse that ate our rubber kitchen pipe!"

Nausea turned to horror as I pictured a pair of legs dangling in front of the skirtless couch, inches away from A ROTTING RAT! All those breaks I'd taken, right over a dead rodent!

"It wasn't a rat. It was a big mulot," Jean-Marc said, playing things down as he does, but I could already picture its wirey tail, its wide open eyes... and its little mouth slowly sucking one last breath (did I feel it on my ankle? tickling my skin?).

In the end, the horror shifted to pity, at the image of a dying creature--all alone but for an audience of zombie dust bunnies. Even Smokey, in his bed--eye-level with the doomed creature--didn't react.

There is no way to sum up this story. But it made me realize a few things, one being the value of common sense. Next time I'll do as Jean-Marc did, and instead of jumping to conclusions, use my God-given senses to get to the bottom of the problem --sniff around a little, and dare to look under the couch!


If you are looking for a place to rent in Provence, check out this one: SABLET HOME - for high quality vacation rentals in the heart of Provence
Sound file? Let me know if you find one at the end of this post... And tell me what it said, in the comments.


Mon enregistrement #8.m4a

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 help 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.

Can you drink tap water in France? Readers comment about water safety, share tips, warnings

golden retriever yellow irises stream canal reflection rhone water dog chien ruisseau
France boasts an abundant supply of water. But can you drink from the tap? Is it potable, or drinkable? Just where does tap water come from and, more importantly, What is in it?

TODAY'S WORD: l'eau du robinet

    : tap water

ECOUTEZ/Listen to Jean-Marc read the following sentence:
Download MP3 or Download Wav

Eau du robinet. Peut-on boire l'eau du robinet en France?
Tap water. Can we drink tap water in France?


Is our water in France safe to drink? (Maybe too safe?)

by Kristi Espinasse

As I type this report, it feels as though my tongue has been stripped of its taste buds after drinking a glass of water from our kitchen sink. But before causing a national panic--and before this blog disappears from the radar silenced by the powers that be--let me say that, up until 4 days ago, I have always drunk tap water in France!

And yet, I can't help but wonder: are they putting something into our water? 

Wait! Before calling me paranoid, or "one of those conspiracy hurluberlus" (true, I have been glued to "prepper" videos, lately, as I stuff our property (our prepper homestead?) with edible plants, trees and "Patriot" blueberries

Strangely, our tap water did not taste (or smell!) this way before last week's mouse-induced flood, so maybe it's our fault? But I can't picture Jean-Marc, naked in the pigeon hut, pouring cleaner down the water pipe (on second thought where exactly is the water pipe?). Before I start to suspect my husband--as well as The State of France--let's go over the facts. And here are the facts: our tap water tastes like la javel!

As I sit here sucking on my tongue (hoping to get my taste buds to stand up again after being mowed down by municipal water!), I ask myself, Is it simply a coincidence? That just as we recovered from Friday's flood, and repaired the water pipe, the nearest water treatment plant suddenly changed its recipe for tap water? Adding tons of chlore! POW this stuff is strong!!!

Meantime, we are drinking bottled water, and bottling up our tap water to be analyzed in Toulon. As for my poor bleached tongue, I can still enjoy my mother-in-law's just-made tapenade! So maybe taste buds do regenerate?

In the comments, below, share your experience with tap water. Do you drink it? Why? Why not? Do you drink l'eau du robinet when in France? Should I buy a filter? Have water delivered? Thanks for sharing all you know about eau.

Update: several of you have recommended the Brita Filter Pitcher and the Big Berkey water filter 

Tapenade olive spread green black olives triangle shapes
Michèle-France's tapenade. She makes two types, from green olives or black olives.


potable = drinkable
un hurluberlu = an eccentric, oddball, extravagant person
la tapenade = green or black olive spread
la javel = bleach
le chlore = chlorine
l'eau du robinet (f) = tap water

Eau non potable undrinkable water not for drinking
No filling your water bottle here! On an ancient fountain in Brignoles, the double warning reads: Eau non potable ("not drinking water")

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 help 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.

This Morning's Flood, Jean-Marc in the Buff, French Cussing and Visit our Winery April 15th

How many beach towels does it take to dry a floor? Read about our latest inundation and meet the culprit! 

A few times a year we open our home sweet-flooded-home to visitors. To reserve your seat for our Friday, April 15th meetup at 3 pm email me at


    : to eat, to gobble up, to stuff oneself, to pig out on

Careful! This is a slang term. Better to use "manger" for "to eat"

Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's word: Download MP3 or Download Wav

Bouffer. Ces putains* de souris ont bouffé le tuyau d'alimentation du lave-vaisselle!
To gobble. Those damn mice gobbled up the connecting hose to the dishwasher!

*Note: putain is an offensive word to some... one used often by the French.


    by Kristi Espinasse

At 6 a.m. this morning, I stumbled to the kitchen for my drogue of choice. Only, by the time I reached the front room, I noticed an unusual sound. Was someone in the douche?

No, we don't have a shower in this part of our home! 

Following the noise, which sounded like radio static at full blast, I caught sight of a glimmering floor.... WATER!!! As the tide flowed toward my sock-clad feet, I glanced out the window and saw a perfectly clear day. This was no natural disaster from heavy rains. What on earth?

Damn! My husband and his no-nonsense inventions! Last night while I pruned our avocado tree, Jean-Marc lugged the garden hose up to the boulder that towers over our home and created a DIY waterfall--one he forgot to turn off!!!

Slogging into the kitchen, mad as a monsoon #@$!, I followed the sound to the source--which was not at all what I expected.... It turns out all that water had come spraying out of a small tuyau beneath our kitchen sink. A mouse had eaten through the tube connected to our dishwasher!

Smart as wet socks, Jean-Marc and I took turns plugging the hole with our thumbs. Finally, lying on the floor in soaked pajamas, I waited as Jean-Marc ran naked out the kitchen door, in search of the shut-off valve (located, it seemed, in the third-floor pigeonnier (see opening photo--highest  window pictured).

Finally, the water stopped (the valve was there all along, beneath the kitchen sink, inches from my soggy thumb!). We spent the next hour sweeping water out of the kitchen, past the dining room and out the front door. Maybe there is a better way to dry a house? But don't ask us, or run naked to the pigeon coop!

Happy, sundried weekend to you all! 


To leave a comment or to read the comments, click here.

Quail eggs
Keep up with our daily life over at Instagram, where you'll find this snapshot and others. 

BORDEAUX AND THE DORDOGNE small group tour Sept 19-27 - culture, cuisine & wine. Click for itinerary.

PAINT PROVENCE on holiday.  All inclusive art trips. Great sights, food, wine and painting skills. Click here.

SABLET HOME - for high quality vacation rentals in the heart of Provence. Click here for pictures.           

FRANCE & MONACO We offer exclusive short-term holiday rental properties throughout France and Monaco. Click here.


We enjoyed a visit by Missouri chef Karen Blumensaadt and artist John Stoeckley. Karen brought the most delicious lemon tart from her book A Culinary Legacy: From Escoffier to Today

This book is especially meaningful as Karen wrote it in our hometown of Les Arcs-sur-Argens (we moved in 2007, and the book's beautiful photos of the medieval village bring floods (oh no, floods!) of memories). Read Julie Mautner's review of A Culinary Legacy: from Escoffier to Today:

"To those of us who love French food, is there anything more compelling than a new cookbook, one filled with mouthwatering recipes and gorgeous photos? Yep, there is one with history and mystery between the covers as well. And this is that book. Fifty years ago, Karen found a dusty recipe-filled ledger in her grandparents attic and knew even then that it should become a book. A lifetime later, she has made it happen, telling the story of her immigrant grandfather's long culinary career...through his notes, dishes, mementos, photos, menus and more. With recipes old and new, this is a loving tribute to a passionate, dedicated man...and to a very special chapter in the history of French cuisine." ---Julie Mautner, The Provence Post

A Culinary Legacy makes a wonderful present for a Francophile or Foodie! Jean-Marc and I loved the Tarte au Citron!  Click here to order Karen's book 

If you enjoyed today's column, thanks for taking the time to share it. 

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 help 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.

Back--With Exciting News From France! The Jetaiau Spectrum

My article in Paris's Journal of Applied Physics. You are viewing the April 1st edition. I stood in line for 8 hours at our local newsstand to obtain copies of this historical printing of yesterday's pivotal discovery of The Jetaieu Spectrum.

Bonjour! It is a pleasure to be back! During my two-week absense, I have had the privilege,
 in connection with France News Media, and physicists from Grenoble and Marseilles, to be able to report on the March 31st discovery that has all of us glued to our televisions. Please take a break from the U.S. media and read my first-hand report from France, which breaks down yesterday's important discovery, one that is already changing the way most of us behave.

Have you recently told a lie? Said you were one place when you were really somewhere else? The Jetaieu Spectrum will reveal more than lies--it is already revealing, live and in technicolor, everything that has ever happened since the beginning of time.  

Today's word: Spectre

    : spectrum

The Historical Past, projected in 3D before your very eyes
Given the exciting news of the existence of The Jetaieu Spectrum, which will enable us to view, via segments of imprinted molecular mass, everything that has ever happened in the history the world, it is both haunting and awe-inspiring to notice the word origin of today's word, "spectrum": spectre or ghost.  

Our Transparent Past & Future:
The Jetaieu Spectrum and why you are now undressing before 7 billion humans
    by Kristin Espinasse

France is in the news after this week's riveting discovery of The Jetaieu Spectrum. First reported in Paris's award-winning Journal of Physics, by a Franco-American blogger, the March 31st discovery may forever influence or even control human behavior.

Those of us who have been glued to the news for the past 24-hours are beginning to comprehend The Jetaieu Spectrum (TJS). 

Briefly, TJS is the imprinted "film" of history as recorded by the very atoms, molecules, or "fibers" of the atmosphere which have been here, absorbing information, from the beginning of time (according to scientific law, matter can never be created nor destroyed. Absorbant and energetic, it actively collects imprints of all it comes into contact with.) 

Think of how cartoons are created. We have all seen a demonstration of the plate-by-plate pictures that, when quickly flipped, bring to motion so many "prints". Now you understand why everyone is so excited about the Jetaieu Spectrum.

With Jetaieu technology, these molecular "prints", carefully collected and transcribed onto microfiche, are viewable in the same way we see motion pictures - with the visual image projected onto any screen (computer, wall, etc). In a nutshell, we can now view past historic events, in the same way we click on to Youtube to see a video!

To better understand this discovery, I invite you to hold out your arm. Now place an imaginary ruler between your nose and the tip of our outstretched arm. Every trillionth of a millimeter of space between your face and the tip of your finger is a specific, marked location in time and space. Whatever happened--or happens in that precise geolocation is atomically recorded just as light, hitting a leaf, leaves an imprint on the surface below it.  

Up until now we didn't know about those molecular "recordings" that encompass every inch of space around us. Today the scientific community is rushing to reveal the images thanks to the Jetaieu Field Spectrum Lazor, which "slices" through billions of layers of imprinted molecular history, to reveal, for example, just exactly what took place in the very spot where you sit right this moment. Just what existed there 600 years ago?

Thanks to yesterday's breakthrough, you can view that scene live on The Human History Cam! (If you have noticed a lag on the internet, this explains it: currently millions of people are rushing to view these visual recordings. Note: The HH Cam site crashed at 5 a.m. this morning, but is up and running now--splashing everyone's most intimate moments across the internet!)

Are you wrapping your head around this? Light hitting the subject (you, me, the leaf...) records onto these invisible fibers which make up the atmosphere around us. These imprints can never be concealed or erased - according to the laws of physics you cannot obliterate mass. To express it another way, think of this: Big Brother actually exists, in the form of molecular mass that has been recording--filming as it were--our every move (and those of our ancestors) for as long as mass as existed. It's all there, nestled into the topography of photons and electrons!

Pause now and take a moment to think about this molecular footage that scientists are rushing to transcribeIt means that whatever you do, whatever has ever been done by anyone, is and has been recorded from the beginning of time. For scientists it is just a matter of unraveling the imprints, layer by layer, at the exact quadrant along the spectrum or atmospheric field in which they happened.  Seeing these "recordings" has the scientific community racing the globe, to historic sites like Jerusalem--and to a recently discovered knife in yard in California.....

Imagine seeing Jesus walk on water before your very eyes!
Or Eve eating biting into the apple. (And for non-believers, imagine the exact moment when fish began to walk and apes morphed into humans!) Soon--perhaps as early as midnight tonight--all debated events--did OJ kill Nicole? What about the Lockness Monster?--will be viewable to all, once The Jetaieu Spectrum is transferred from molecular imprint to wide-screen for public viewing--something happening as I type this! Meantime, for those of you reading this in your underwear--I suggest you get dressed FOREVER! 

Unless you are reading this in the dark.
After dark (the absence of incriminating photo-transparent light) all historical records stop. Perhaps this explains the natural impulse for thieves to act after dark? Or why some make love at night?)

With the help of a JTA Field Spectrum Lazor, shaped like a paper fish and able to cut through the invisible layers of recorded matter, we can soon see the history of everything that ever happened in a given space. Well, maybe not in our generation, as the process of uncovering the layer of condensed matter is time-consuming (it takes 82 hours to uncover three seconds of history! But technology is changing this very moment and transcription is speeding up--enough for The Human History Web Cam to offer reels of our immediate past to anyone with an internet connection and a computer screen!) 

So if you wanted to see, for example exactly, what I've been up to over the past 12 days since last you heard from me, click on the Human History Cam, enter the date and hour in question and my geolocation at the Institute of Physics in Paris, and even scroll back to whatever scene you want to view. The scene at 6:45 this morning? Maybe not -- I was in the shower! 

This all leads to the great ethical debate: how to erase the information that is recorded--and currently viewable by anyone? 

In the meantime, I will  shower in my underwear--as I did this morning! And I am not too worried about what you will see, when you click on the Human History Cam and locate me. You can even see if my underwear has hearts or ducks or little paper fish--which in France, today, stands for "April Fools!"

I leave you with a soundfile for some of today's French words.

Atomic Love,
(French physicist and reporter for a day) 


ECOUTE-Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce Jetaieu (je t'ai eu = you've been had) and "poisson d'avril"
Download MP3 or WAV

Je t'ai eu! Poisson d'Avril!
You've been had! April Fools!

Until the Jetaieu Spectrum is discovered--and it very well may be one day, you can see what I'm doing, image by image, when you follow me at Instagram!

FRENCH CLASSIC NET SHOPPING BAG - made and knit in France!

PARIS METRO CUFF - bracelet and handy map!

TISANES - FRENCH HERBAL TEAS - My family drinks them every night, to help drift off to sleep.


LAGUIOLE STEAK KNIVES are for sale in many of the local French market stands.

FRENCH KITCHEN TOWELS by Garnier-Thiebaut.

PARIS PEACE T-SHIRT - "so many people have stopped to ask me where I got it" -Betty.


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 help 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.