Grignoter & Cochonnerie: What it really means when your family says, "There's nothing to eat in this fridge!"
Gérer, débrouiller: How to Let Go...and Grow.

Faire bon ménage? Golden retriever and chickens & CONTROL JUICE (is it fueling you, too?)

Sussex hen and coucou hen
If you take one thing away from today's post (about letting go...), let it be this: Control Juice is for wet chickens, or scaredy-cats. (Le jus de contrôle c'est pour les poules mouillés). Let go of your fear--and your controlling nature will disappear. 

Faire bon ménage

    : to get along

Click here to listen to Jean-Marc read the following sentence

Faire bon ménage signifie bien s'entendre. Cette locution peut qualifier une bonne entente, une relation équilibrée entre deux personnes ou animaux qui vivent en harmonie ensemble. "To make good housekeeping" means to get along well. This phrase can include a good, a balanced relationship between two people or animals that live in harmony together.


"Control Juice": something to give up after wine?
(or is it time to go back to wine??)

    by Kristi Espinasse

I really mean for this to be as smooth and entire as possible--this post and, come to think of it, this life. Cette vie. I struck gold this morning by finding, relatively quickly, a phrase to sum up today's story: faire bon ménage (to get along). And then the extended meaning: more than how my chickens and my golden retriever are getting along, this is an update on how my whole family--all three generations currently living under one roof--are getting along. (Quick answer: pas mal!)

Let's start with the latter: after one meltdown, one short-lived separation, and a monumental ménace: (moi) to go back to America (this one directed at the whole group of bandits) "and you can all (Jean-Marc, Jules, Max, Jackie, Smokey and the chickens) fend for yourselves--ALL OF YOU!!! I have glued myself back together thanks to my chickens almost becoming glue (more about that in a minute)....

This morning I woke up feeling hopeful. I was seeing my entire family of banditos through rose-colored glasses... Yes, I was, until everything turned on a dime (c'est toujours le cas!). My son could not find his wallet (for the third time this week) and I instantly took on his agitation and then some.

"When you find that porte-monnaie," I barked, "put it BACK in the same place. Find a home for it!!"

Find a home for it! Find a home for it. I keep saying this to everyone. Can't find the mosquito spray? Find a home for it! Looking for your car keys? Find a home for them! Lost your swim trunks? Putain de merde. TROUVE-LE UNE MAISON!!!

My son was now running late for work and would not be able to pay the freeway toll without some fric! With my hand in my purse, rooting for money to loan him, I did not see the giant window, une baie vitrée, in front of me and so walked right into it, jarring my ego more than my nerve-endings. 

My son, unaware of my collision, continued his own tirade. "But I can't find a home for my wallet when my room has been taken!" How could I argue with that? So when Max pulled out of the driveway, late for work, I shouted, "Don't forget to close the gate so Smokey and the chickens don't get loose." This set him right off, my 23-year-old, who swore if there was one thing he did right it was to close that gate each and every time! 

Just as we were arguing, I heard squawking...

Mon Dieu! Turning, I saw Smokey had gotten out of the house and was chasing the hens! Having put every ounce of my control juice into keeping my family and my flock in order, everything fell apart in that instant.

And that was it. I mean, that did it! Having reached the End of the Rope, this post-apocalyptic scene was the burial to my nerves as I once knew them--possibly beneath a bed of feathers!!

And here is where Grace stepped in. As my son backed his company car out of the driveway, shouting the injustice (he is a gate-shutterer if there ever was one!!) to our entire neighborhood, I let go of the embarrassment of yet another public family scene... and focused on a miracle going on in the opposite direction.

Smokey was indeed chasing the chickens... but nobody was getting killed! 

Every ounce of agitation and every bit of pent-up frustration melted away--along with all of that control juice--as I beheld the beauty of the scene in front of me: creatures getting along relatively well.  

It all reminds me of the popular saying, something we nervous people and highly sensitive types are often reminded of (by our loved ones or therapists): "Did anybody die?" 

No? Then everything is going to be OK!

Postnote: Mom just strolled by on her way out to the beach. Where are my blue sunglasses? she wanted to know. (!!!)  Normally, I would suggest she find a home for them...but she stole those sunglasses from Max.... Oh, les bandits!

la vie = life
faire bon ménage = to get along well
l'espoir = hope
pas mal = not bad
c'est toujours le cas = it's always that way
le porte-monnaie = wallet
putain de merde! = dammit! (can be more or less strong depending on the situation)
trouve-le une maison = find it a home
le fric = money
une baie vitrée = large, sliding glass windows
Berina and Jules
Mom's first friend in France and a beautiful scene from last night: Berina, from Taïwan (living in Hong Kong and Cassis) and my Mom. Two funny, strong, and beautiful women who hit it right off! 

Roasted red peppers
Jean-Marc made bar (sea bass from the Altlantic, vs Loup, or sea bass from the Mediterranean. I made these roasted peppers and other cool dishes to go along with the fish.
Jean-Pierre Berina Kristi Jean-marc
Jean-Pierre and Jean-Marc go way back--they met in business school in Marseille. I only met Berina last year, and I can't wait for her to move full time to Cassis from Hong Kong. One day! P.S. look at those fans. It's sweltering in France... 
Eggs and roasted peppers
Roasted pepper recipe near the end of this post.

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Andrew K

When I was a young boy in a small town in upstate New York I had a golden retriever called Guinevere (after Camelot’s Queen). Our nextdoor neighbor had bantam chichens living in their yard (have an idea how small the town was?) ... Guinever liked chickens ... not to eat, but to play with ... she would hone her instinctive retriever skills by leaving our yard, going next door, getting a chicken, and bringing it home, completely unharmed. We would take the chicken from her and release it over the fence, and she would go get another. The chickens didn’t run from her, they didn’t even squawk! They would see her coming and nestle down to prepare themselves for the ride! It was a marvelous game for all to watch!

Kristin Espinasse

Wonderful story! Thanks, Andrew. You have given me hope. 


Just you wait, Kristin. Just when all things are in order and everything has found a home Max and Jacquie will move to their own apartment, Jules will be out and about most minutes of the day, the chickens will be napping with Smokey, Jean-Marc will be at work and there you will be, wondering where everyone and everything is!!! Enjoy the ride!!!

Suzanne Codi

When we lived in Cote d'Ivoire during my teenage years, we had a dog, a cat, a goat, a chicken and a goose...they all got along, and even ate out of each other's dishes at suppertime...never understood why a hen would want cat food and a large shepherd/doberman mix would want whatever the goat was nibbling on, mais c'etait trop drole!!! And the goat was the only one who would chase everyone else, pretty funny considering he was a pygmy goat and not that much bigger than the cat...Enjoy your little menagerie, I'm sure Smokey loves the company!!!


When I was a child, my father would always say, “A place for everything, and everything in its place!”. I thought it was kind of silly then, but as I aged, I realize how much easier it makes EVERYTHING! Your household sounds lively and fun these days!

Susan Stafford

Tiens bon, Kristi !

Bill & Lee Mears

Wonderful post! I know the feeling. How often my husband will say "Where is my__________________ (fill in the blank)! Everything from sunglasses, phone, notebook, briefcase, etc. I'll go help him search and usually find it right where it should be, but just under something else! By the way, we have been "fans" of your blog and have several of your books. I just recently came across you on facebook and it was nice to see what's happening with your wonderful family.

Edward Schwarz Schwarz

Love your posts and also the comments made by readers. Thank you Kristi!

Dave Kapsiak

I love the story. We had chickens at one time and introduced them to our short-haired St. Bernard, Freckles. With some trepidation I might add, but all turned out well as they co-existed quite well together. Blackie and Henrietta got over the massive size of Freckles, and for her part, Freckles thought they were small dogs I guess. She was more concerned with the invasion of rats that unfortunately came along with the chickens- they did not bother with the eggs, but loved the chicken scratch. As for losing things, I have sung the same litany to my kids for years- find a permanent place and always return it there.

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristi,

Are you getting eggs yet? Chickens are so fun and entertaining to watch! Smokey is just getting his exercise chasing them. LOL Stay cool! My son said it is sweltering in Germany too! You all might have to install air-conditioning!

Jackie Clark Mancuso

Big thanks for this one! From a sensitive type who was always misplacing things until recently discovering the value of a “home.”


Good morning! I ditto Jennie's comments and add - you have raised them and they are all adults so i suggest that their possessions are not your responsibility anymore. What wonderful looking eggs - so envious - fresh eggs always taste so much better than store bought. Please give Smokey a pat on the head for me. Enjoy your day living by the beautiful sea.

Chris Allin

Dear Kristi,
As your readers look at what some might consider an enviable life, you display such genuine humanity, allowing us to see that life’s little frustrations are universal, all the while revealing flashes of humor throughout. Through your writing, l just love hearing what you have to say and the way you tell your story!

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Chris. This means a lot and really keeps me going, writing.💕🌞 


I loved your post! It sounds like my house. Three generations under one roof.:)

Julie Farrar

That "eggs and peppers" still-life photo needs to be painted by your mother. I can imagine everyone is a little on edge as they learn to adjust. Just recently I had my two kids with their two dogs at home in my newly and carefully decorated new home. More than once voices were raised because this is not the house where my kids grew up and had previous dogs and their muddy feet jumping all over the furniture ('nuff said). But their new puppies will grow and I will probably be the first to spill something on the expensive couch. C'est la vie.

However, I will continue to say with exasperation "trouve-le une maison!" just like you do. Really. It's not that hard. Trouve-le une maison!

Kathleen from Connecticut

I can totally understand about having a place for everything - trouvé-Le une maison. I have cheater glasses in every room of the house, but inevitably I will carry one with me and put it down some place, but I can’t remeber where. How often we are distracted and put something down and walk off and forget about it only to not remember where we put it.
Stay cool..
The world is oing crazy with the heat, fires, etc. It really is climate change.


Judith Dunn

......remember the song 'don't worry, be happy'! Maybe you are too young... If multi-generational living is the very worst experience you will encounter in life... remember, you said ...'did anyone die'? Things will find a way of working out, however, it will try everyone's patience. I have been in this spot before and all I can say is everything passes.... Just take a deep breath and muddle on.... can you find a divided basket or shallow tray where everyone can put their 'stuff' , maybe have it near the doorway... just a thought. I might make 'faire bon menage' a little easier..... bisous et bon weekend! Judi


And life goes on, either in peace or chaos. You are in the country of "C'est la vie". I do have a solution for the "where is/are".Only because I never put my keys in the same place and was constantly searching for them, thus being late. Right near the door if at all possible, place a very small table with a basket on it....keys, wallets go there. Drop them in when entering, pick them up when room for a table ......hang a small basket on the wall and a wooden plaque with hooks on it.
Those eggs are beautiful and the chickens must be happy to produce that many....oh, that's can't eat them yet. It seems to be hot everywhere. My Swiss friends tried to escape by going up to was hot there....even the water was warm.


I loved this post. Even as I was reading it, my husband is bringing me container after container from the refrigerator. It's in a square glass container with a snap-on lid, I said, as he's looking for the leftover casserole. Is this it? (No, that's a round container.) Is this it? (No, that is not a square container.) Is this it? (No, that is not a glass container.) Well, I don't see it.

Because I was enjoying your post and the comments, I didn't do my usual thing of getting up and finding it for him. Finally he found it. All by himself. (He was looking for mustard in the frigo one time, and my daughter-in-law, sitting at the breakfast bar, started laughing. "I can see it from here!)

We have fans going everywhere. Our expat group did an 11 km hike up 5 hills today in La Dordogne. The leader (20 years younger than most of us) claimed there was shade and no hills! We were all ready to lui trouve une maison--somewhere else!

Herm in Phoenix, AZ

salut Kristi,

How about adding a pony, a cat and a parakeet to your menagerie? It would add some action to your life and keep you from getting bored. Ha!

Patricia Sands

Meltdowns are allowed de temps en temps, Kristi. Your beautiful sense of humour will always prevail. Back in the day, our dogs, cats, chickens and humans all managed to fait bon menage. Take heart!

Gail Accuardi

Andrew K's story was so delightful. Thank you.

Deborah Z

Oh, Dear Kristi,
I was laughing out loud reading this because I can totally relate. I've been there!

Even your stress about Smokey and the chickens I have with Diva Dog and our fairly new Guinea Pig; Box. I'm terrified she will eat little Box!
They've been nose to nose at Box's habitat, many times over, and calm, but Box hasn't been free or out with Diva Dog around. I'm screaming the same thing you have been, "Don't let Diva Dog in here!"

I like your chicken coop. I've been toying with the idea of a rabbit hutch for Box rather than the cage like habitat we currently have for him. I like the idea of him being outside, and having more space. Will think on it and study the possibility of that more.

You got all those eggs from two chickens? I've never had chickens so have no clue. 😕

I'm so glad all is well, and everyone is getting along. xx

Richard from Arlington Texas

Sweltering in France, sweltering in Texas, 112F two weeks ago, must have been Arizona heat.


Our dear Kristi,
You always give us hope by showing us that we are not alone when we have meltdown days. And!It is a comforting thought to realize
that other friends are also hassling stuff.
Your humor in dealing with times like this are nothing short of an inspiration.
I recently saw a most appropriate greeting card that (sporting a picture of a lady on the brinks of ripping out her hair )serenely stated in big letters JUST KEEP CALM AND EAT A CUPCAKE.
Oh boy,I wish I would've seen that before.I would goobled up the box!
Blessings,dear Kristi,and sending hugs
Natalia. Xo

Stacy - Sweet Life Farm

Dear Kristi,

So goes my week thus far (melt downs, frazzled nerves) though your story has left me in tears of relief and laughter! Leave it to the grace of friends and of nature to soothe our sometimes ragged souls.

Thank you for this break from my hectic week. I do relate and by the way, thankfully nobody has died! Hugs sent your way!

Andrew Kleeger

You're welcome. It's now 60+ years later and I still miss that dog!

Andrew Kleeger

de rien

Jan Hersh

I love the expression "shift happens." It fits with today's post. Hang in there and thanks for entertaining me.


Love this post and all the comments....and the pics & recipe! Heat index in Louisiana was 114 a few days ago...thankfully has abated!

Herm in Phoenix, AZ

In French . . . . . « c'est la vie, c'est la guere, c'est la pomme de terre »


Chris Allin

Leave it to the grace of friends and of nature to soothe our sometimes ragged souls. What a beautiful thought... so fitting in so many different situations.

Gail L from AZ

Thank you for sharing!! I too, have had 3 generations under one roof the past 5 months. I’ve lost my control juice more than once! It is a challenge! Sweltering in Phoenix too. Dust storms and monsoon season.

Catherine Berry (But you are in France, Madame)

Once again I am in awe of your capacity to always end up with a positive - and elicit such meaningful comments from your readers.

chris Papworth

One of my favourites in such disaster moments is ' It's a small thing on a big ship!'

Loved todays post - and all the French in it. Thank you.


Hang in there, Kristi!! From another Arlington, Texas fan!

Robert Powell

The doctor says; have each person in your family read this book: One Small Step Can Change Your Life. The Kaizen Way by Robert Maurer, Ph.D. This process that helped Toyota grow and organize is required reading for their associates. It will help each person to get organized and focused.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Robert. This looks great. I am reading the customer reviews now and plan to order a copy. 


Kristi, thank you for reassuring me that my personal meltdown over my family's mishaps are not unusual or abnormal. Thank you, also, for the laugh that escaped my lips and the smile that now has settled on my face for the remainder of the day. It sounds to me like Smokey and les poules will very soon become the best of friends. I'm looking forward to trying the pepper recipe in a few months, once peppers (or capsicums, as they are called in NZ) are back in season and don't cost $5 apiece. I'm glad to see that Jules is settling nicely into her new home in La Ciotat. :)

Merle Minda

I was going to ask how you were getting along with this new arrangement. Visits, even long visits are one thing, but moving in permanently is quite another. I couldn't do it and I am your mother's age. So it must be hard for you. Bonne chance! Merle Minda

Eileen Burns

I envy you your swirling, whirling, chaotic household! Treasure it. Our dear friend and upstairs neighbor of 12 years retired and moved 'home' to Virginia last week. The house is so quiet without her. Scream, yell, panic and enjoy every marvelous, crazy moment, for the days will come when your home is too quiet, too....MUCH LOVE, Eileen


Love it! I love the honesty. Life together is not easy, but there's so much blessing in it! Thanks for another beautiful post!

Linda R.

I grew up in a three-generational home and it was the best of experiences, whether I realized it at the time or not. What a treasure to get to know my grandmother, other than someone to visit from time to time. I love today's story and your final "Did anyone die?" analysis - good advice to take to heart. These hectic moments always make for fun stories and fond memories over the years.


Hi Kristi,
Please see this article about a chicken and a cat who sheltered together during the Redding fire

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