To be lazy in French & Why we should go to bed when the sun sets
How to say Raincoat (or Mackintosh) in French + update on our daughter!

La Voie Douce--the gentle path here in La Ciotat

Kristi in lavender patch la ciotat
Mom took my picture in a patch of winter lavender, found along La Voie Douce, or Gentle Path--a wonderful place to walk, ride your bike (or trottinette) here in La Ciotat. More about our walk, below.

Today's word:  la voie 

     : path, way

How colorful my daily walks have become since dragging Mom along with me! Even if she never wants to go: Honey, it's cold out, I'm getting back in bed, or Sweetheart, my hip hurts... are her go-to replies. But I've learned how to get her out and moving: Why don't you have a cup of tea? I say, and by the time she's collected herself, she's ready to go!

You know, Mom insists as we make our way out the front gate, I am a VERY physical person! I used to run up and down the hills at my Saguaro Lake cabin!  I nod my head, certain she is, or was, sportive (and will be again), but she--like me--gets into ruts. My goal these days is to stay out of those ruts and to take Mom with me.

Almost as soon as we hit the street Mom's got to tchatcher with everyone. I am extremely ill-at-ease but swallow my resistance and become her nodding cohort and translator: Yes, my mom is saying that you look divine! I say to the woman in patent leather shoes, walking her Jack Russell. She loves your pearls. And thinks your glasses are marvelous. Why does my mom have to be so extravagant with her compliments? The French do not compliment people in the same way!

Ah well, my job is to translate--and get over my reservations!

I can be so darned reserved. Mom might say I'm a stick in the mud (sticks are stiff, like me!) But I'm loosening up. Je me lâche. After all, who cares if we are completely out of culture or acting in a way the French don't....

Or are we? The more time I spend with Mom as she chats up the French, pointing to their fabulous coats or glorious hair or smashing shoes! the more I see them smiling back--in a childlike, happy-to-play-along way. There is something magical in the air once you cut back the barrier (the swift-walking-past with nary a nod to a stranger). Once you engage...there are sparkles. I saw them yesterday, in the eyes of the people Mom spoke to. Enlivened, you could see their spirits transcending cultural norms and rules. (And God knows, with Mom there are no rules!)

It makes me stop to consider, once again, that people are people. Just like us, they want to connect, to laugh, and to live creatively, lightly and more playfully. (Here, dear reader, I must pause my story, to tell you about a couple of French women who were just now walking past my house--only to stop in their tracks. The women are currently holding onto my fence while making clucking sounds. 

Bak bak bak BAK! they are cooing, having been amazed to discover chickens in the neighborhood. So the next time you think the French are trop elegant and untouchable, remember this scene which has given me enough joy to last the week. OK, now to finish writing today's missive...where were we? Oh yes, on a walk with Mom...

Isn't this a nice walk, I say to Mom, as we head home.

Divine. It's just divine!

Well, of course she'd call it that and, I might add, in herspeak, it was indeed fabulous, glorious, and downright smashing! Now to do it again tomorrow.

Postnote: creativity may be contagious. Along our walk Mom saw these beautiful seedpods. Studying them, I noticed they were the same silvery color as Mom's locks. Let me put them in your hair, I said. They'd make a fabulous hair ornament....


la voie = the path
= soft, gentle
la trottinette = kick scooter
sportive, sportif
= athletic, physical, sporty
= to gab
se lâcher
= to loosen up
à suivre = to be continued

Related story: Canon! How to Compliment a Frenchwoman

Mom picking passiflora flowers
Mom, taking clippings from the side of the path. That's how we almost got in trouble yesterday...and ended up meeting a new friend. A suivre...

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Rasa I love your stories with Jules. You are so blessed to have this relationship with her. It is something I would have loved in my life. Blessings to you and her.

Raisa fingers are faster than my brain....Raisa

pamela singer

lI laughed out loud reading this..My own daughter has had the same complaints about my own generous talk and complements with passerbys in the past. She is now used to it and has started the same I see.. what fun spontaneous encounters!!!!!! keep walking and stay warm.

Audrey Wilson

A lovely story ! Gives me inspiration In my efforts with my mobility . I have to overcome my dread of falling again & by walking with 'my mans' Iinked arm & stick I SHALL get there in the end
Thank you Kristi

Judith Dunn

...I must admit, I am like your Mom! I love chatting it up with all kinds of people, which sets my husband on edge. He is a very private person and always asks me not to strike up a conversation with anyone who is the server at our table when we go out. I , of course, forget his plea and go o my merry way and 'chat it up' with waiter or waitress! I have often asked them if I could take their photograph as well! I usually give them my card and tell them to look for their photo from me. Some write back all thrilled and some I never hear from... as we all know all kinds of different people make the world go around!

Marika Ujvari

I wish I could have taken that walk with you two beautiful friends!
I believe strongly in smiles, a wave or a hug on my daily walks.
Love and big hugs to you Kristi and Jules!
Marika in Colorado

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristi & Jules,

I so loved this story today! I love that you are enjoying your time together! The sea pods look lovely in your mom's hair!


What a beautiful post. I love how spontaneous and free Jules seems...breaking down barierrs always a positive thing! Bravo and carpe diem. ♥️ Enjoy.

Lisa Kennedy

Thanks Kristi for such a lovely, and loving post today. My Mum and I also live together and we encourage each other much as you describe. Like your mother, mine can chat immediately to anyone, whereas I hold back for a while. The photo of the seedpods in your mother's hair is like a painting - too exquisite for words. And the one of you among the lavender is beautiful!

Alice Farley

This story brought a smile of remembrance to my face. My mom, Charlotte, would talk to anyone and everyone- much to our embarassment. Well, she has been gone for 15 years, but, fear not, we carry on the tradition: my husband and I will talk to anyone and everyone, and find that they love it- plus, we now get to embarrass our adult children by doing so. ;-) . I am sure they will, too, follow in our footsteps someday. And, needless to say, I would give most anything to go for a walk with my mom , just to hear folks say, "Charlotte!, so nice to run in to you today!"


Wonderful story today. I want to walk with you two!! Your mother is very fortunate to have you as her encourager to get up and out-I’m sure that helps you, too! I need to find one to get me up and out-not as self motivated as I would like. I love the seed pods in jules’ gorgeous hair!

Keith Van Sickle

Such a sweet story!

Ahulani McAdam

I also am one of those embarrassing mothers who still has an eye-rolling embarrassed daughter. So I have hope from your article, Kristi! I wasn’t always like this myself. I wonder if as I have aged and my life is less full of my own concerns, I am in need of a broader connection to the world of people? Or is it just a joy to be here and to be able to celebrate others? A huge change for the better for this once introverted person!
There’s just something so yummy about being friendly and open and inviting others to meet me in that field.
When I read about Jules, I too connected to joy.
I am reminded that “enthusiasm “ means “God(ess) filled.
What did I used to be afraid of? Guess that’s finally gone. Hooray!
Thank you for a delicious post and for your willingness to find your own self. 🍂🧡🍁🐿🧡

Maureen Winterhager

.....all of the above AND how divine those seedpods look in Jules's silver hair AND how superb you look in your red jacket among that wintry lavender..... Two beautiful women; what joy you bring to us all! xxx

Natalia Radula

Our dear Kristi,
What wonderful pictures of you and dear Jules!
Two beautiful women,starting from the inside out!
Like your other readers,I too sometimes find myself being too enthusiastic with compliments,even if they are well meant.To me,outside of prayer,a kind word to brighten someone else's(or even my own!) spirits is really a welcome gift.
Maybe that is one of the nicest things about the troisieme age:you don't worry too much about things like this in favor of bringing a smile to another person's face.
Thank you,dear Krsiti,for this reminder!
Natalia XO


In the photo-you are the image of your mother ! That's Fabulous!
Tes mots d'une fille concernant sa mere--sont exactament comme les mots de ma fille de Moi !
Is there a French phrase for 'nothing changes-everything stays the same'?

One of your best postings ever....

Sarah LaBelle

Yes, those silver seed pods look beautiful in your Mon’s hair. Things that would never occur to me to do, to see the connection or wear the natural ornaments in my hair, or anyone else’s hair.



As always, you are very photogenic, as is your mother!! I do not know why Americans feel the need to compliment....maybe we want to be liked or accepted or we just like to "schmooze"!!!

Susan Ambrose

So happy to read something about your divine Mom! And I found in France people do comment on how you look, are dressed etc...Vous avez bonne mine for instance....So I am not surprised people responded very positively to her comments and compliments! And I hope they told her she looks great, too!


What a bright joy filled story. Merci, Kristi. I love your mom!


My mom used to take cuttings of plants along our walks. I was younger and it used to embarrass me. How I wish I could take those walks again.

I love hearing about your mom. Her hair is fabulous. Hurray for grey hair!


Bonjour, Kristi,
Oui, comment vous avez la voie douce chez vous. I lost my mother to cancer 4 years ago and miss our visits and telephone
calls still. Making a difference in the world begins in the family and spreads. You are sharing something beautiful
with your readers as their responses reflect. Merci beaucoup.

Judy Feldman

Great story, Kristi, and wonderful,photos of you & Mom. Thanks for sharing those lovely thoughts!

Karen Cafarella

It is so wonderful to "chat" with people. Some are more receptive than others but it is always fun to try.

Love the wonderful stories and so happy to hear about Jules.



Ahhhh, your precious JULES! She truly is a jewel - un bijou divin! Je vous embrasse de Colorado.

Maggie Grace

I love your Mom's spirit! I guess it's an American thing to be chatty. I had a British friend who said at first she was startled about how everyone chatted with her at HEB and she didn't even know them. She thought it must be a Texas thing. I think we are just very open and interested in people as a culture! My kids (boys) used to ask me, "Mom, did you know that person?" when I would chat with people in the grocery store. They got used to it, especially since they knew my dad who would talk to a fence post to pass the time of day!

It's so refreshing to read about a positive mother/daughter relationship these days!

Maggie Grace

I think it's because we aren't shy, so we go ahead and say what we feel!


Hi Kristi,

I often complement people, both women and mean about their clothes , a purse or whatever. My husband does not, but for a man to complement another man that he doesn't know is another story. I also talk with people in restaurants that are seated near us and I always talk with people when I am in a line. As one of the other responders said, she was not like that years ago and I too have been more spontaneous lately. Age does it, I guess.
Love the picture of you surrounded by the winter lavender on La Voie Douce. Where is that?


SusanIrene B

I was the lucky recipient of a compliment about my hair from a 90+ woman with mental difficulties at Thanksgiving. It still brings a smile to my face when I think upon her exclamation. I'm more the quiet type so I admire your Mother's spirit on generosity.


As always a delightful story along with great photography that makes the day shine.
My appreciation for your talent know no bounds. Thank you and best wishes.

Suzanne Dunaway

Being a Texan-cum-Francophile-cum-Italophile, I often just tell people what I think about their chilc/dog/hair etc.

They always seem to like that immensely, except for dogs. The French LOVE having someone love their dog. The Italians are mostly cold about that and yes, you must praise their children from afar but just loud enought for them to hear it. In Italy, it seems to be a given that children are beautiful but dogs are dogs. I like the French attitude!

Leslie NYC

I agree with the others—gorgeous photos of you both. I used to be embarrassed by my mother’s friendliness, then surprised and educated by the positive responses, and by how interesting other people are. I also fondly recall my grandmother saying to me one day, “Aren’t you going to make me do my exercises?” She was very wry, a little passive. One generation helps another.

Sue J.

Momspeak -- I love that. Your writing has a different energy these days, and I like it very much. Keep walking. Keep writing.


Kristi, Jules reminds me so much of my grandmother, who always sees the best in people and lives with all the passion she can muster. Like you, I tend to be reserved. I once read a theory somewhere: some people are rubber ducks who simply float in a tub of water, while others are sponges and sink easily into their surroundings by quickly absorbing the water into which they are placed. I certainly relate to the sponge types. Because of this, after moving to NZ, I found I had become reserved and was careful about what I said to the people I met. I began to adjust the way I spoke to the way they speak, thereby absorbing what was around me. However, I began to feel that I had lost an important part of myself by moving back into the shell out of which I had worked for years to emerge by shedding social anxiety. Something had to change. Slowly, I began to pay compliments to the mothers I met at the school while waiting to collect our children. Sometimes, they would reply with a polite 'thank you,' but a few other them continued the conversation.

Your words, "It makes me stop to consider, once again, that people are people. Just like us, they want to connect, to laugh, and to live creatively, lightly and more playfully," ring so true!

Thank you for continuing to share the stories of your adventures with your mom. Through your collective wisdom, you inspire me over and over again to greet each day with presence and gratitude. Oh, and when I am older, I hope my hair will look as gorgeous as Jules's hair looks in that beautifully framed photo.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, dear Katia. I am so grateful for the lovely characters here in my comments box, each and every note is a gift. It is a pleasure to see your comment, Katia. I think of you there in NZ, having moved with your family from Canada. I can relate to your trying to fit in. It can be such a lonely time. Please know I am rooting for you behind the scenes. Sending big hugs.


I LOVE this commentary. And good for your mom . My mom was just like Jules and I was like you, embarrassed by her for the same reason. She died 27 years ago and I appreciate her more and more as I grow more like her!

Diane Young

Ah, les deux femmes, Jules et Kristi, Toujours amusant! C'est merveilleuse quand vous etes ensemble. Merci pour la vue!

Rupert Suren

You are SO lucky Kristi to have a wonderful mother. I wish my mum had been like her. Love your blogs and always learn something and always miss France so much.Rupert Suren

Jan Hersh

I love this blog and walk and wish that my mother was still alive and that we could walk together as you have done. It would be a wondrous delight to be walking with you and your Mom. Who knows? Maybe we will meet.

Nyla Witmore

Just as I was reading your words, at first I did not know it was you....and suddenly I saw your face in my mind’s eye and said to myself, “ That sounds like something Marika would say..I can hear her voice.” Then I looked up and read your name and said to myself.... I wish Marika could have been there too,” Your love and friendship with both of them just jumps off the page...your genuine emotion is that strong. Hope you are well....we are in the process of moving to a senior living residence and I am exhausted. Have hardly taken a moment to myself to relax and breathe. Your words made me do that!

Nyla Witmore

I embarrassed my husband for years, since I am being like your mother, I am a “forward” person. It was not till I took him to Michigan to see my childhood haunts that he realized I was not so strange and different. Mid-westerners also are that friendly....

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