Seize the day (then write about it!) Une causerie with writer Sylvain Tesson at Château de Pibarnon
Oreilles, ecouter & 25 years ago tomorrow....

Une vue de l'esprit - what a great term in French!

Beach in la ciotat canicule heatwave

A special thanks to those of you who left a comment following the previous post, about writing. if you only knew how much your words keep me going!

une vue de l'esprit

    : attitude of mind
    : pure illusion, a mental projection



You may have heard about the current heatwave in France. Here in La Ciotat we're melting! At the farmers market, the cashiers fanned themselves with cardboard and la canicule made as good a topic of conversation as any:

C'est une vue de l'esprit, the old man bagging cherries beside me remarked. He's got a point, it is sometimes a matter of perspective.* I should know this as I'm from the stifling hot Sonoran Desert (Phoenix) and experienced the record high 122F in 1990. 

And yet I can't sleep at night! As I type this it is 92F and I've just closed our wooden shutters (we do this after opening all the doors and windows at 6 a.m., to let the cool air flow into our home). But this morning, crossing the garden on my way to feed the chickens, la chaleur stopped me in my tracks. Paused there on the scorched yellow grass, I thought back to my beau-frère's warning last week: "It is going to get so hot that there won't even be relief during the night--when things normally cool down!"

Since the heatwave began, we've lost 3 fish--all found floating on the top of the warmed water in our fountain-pond (shaded by a giant tree...). As horrible as it was to discover the fish, it is a swift reminder to keep our eyes on those who are older than us, those younger than us, and to look out for our pets during the heatwave. I keep checking on my Mom, who assures me all is well (she lived in Mexico the last 22 years--sans la climatisation!).

But what was my surprise when my daughter, Jackie, checked on me. After holding her hand against my skin, she told me to get right into a cold shower. Tout de suite!)

Earlier, I moved our hens' water dish (it hangs from the olive tree, and receives the morning sun!) to an area with full shade. Still, the hens--and all of our wild doves who Mom has trained--are panting. Have you ever seen an overheated bird? They hold their beaks open and their tongues flutter like mini fans... (Note, the hens did not enjoy being sprayed with our garden hose but it seemed a good idea--even when it almost sent them over the fence and onto the street--so desperate were they do get away from the spritz!)

Unfortunately, our domestic birds can't head to the beach at 8 a.m. as Jean-Marc and I did this morning--joining dozens of locals who were beating the heat with the help of the cool sea.

OK, that's it--or almost all I wanted to say today. Once home from the beach we began the work day. Jean-Marc has an important appointment at 11 am, only, on his way to our car he noticed it was melting! What now?

(What now? How the term brings me back to our vineyard, before we sold it and moved to La Ciotat to rest and recuperate...)

What now? we thought, seeing a thin liquid pouring from our car's carrosserie. Perplexed, both of us stuck our heads under the car, only to come away as confused as before. That's when Jean-Marc cupped his right hand and placed it beneath the car to collect the liquid. After a sniff or two, he licked his wet palm.

It's wine! he confirmed.

Wine? (Next, my husband reached into the back seat, to find one of the bottles from a case of rosé he had just stowed had broken). It all brought me back, once again, to our vineyard--where wine all but poured from our taps! Wine everywhere! (and here, now, flowing out of our car!!).

I used to say that the universe was playing some sort of joke, moving our family to a vineyard after I made the decision to quit drinking. If you have not yet begun reading our book-in-progress, now is as good a time as any to jump right in--because things are heating up, just like the canicular air inside this room where I am signing off from this latest post. Time to run through the sprinklers--and take the chickens, the dog, and Mom with me!



* a matter of perspective. The first time around, I misunderstood the man at the farmers market. He may have been saying that the heat is an 'illusion'. But I can now say, it's no illusion! Keep cool and 'see you' all in the next edition. (Then again, if I 'see you all' this heat...that would amount to a mirage!

une vue de l'esprit = an illusion
la canicule = heatwave
la chaleur = heat
le beau-frère = brother-in-law
la climatisation = air conditioning
la carrosserie = car body
amicalement = yours 

Kristi around the age of 30
I was around 33 years old in this photo, taken on New Year's Eve after a few drinks. Unfortunately for some, like me, a few drinks leads to a few more or one too many. Find out what led to my decision to quit, in Chapter 5 of our memoir-in-progress. Click here to purchase it, and begin reading right away.

I leave you with a message I woke up to this morning:

I have a special admiration for those in recovery and sobriety. Your difficult personal journey transformed you into a healthier Kristi and your commitment and work benefit not just your family but everyone, including your readers! I have been reading your blog, gosh, probably 6- 7 years, and I gleaned from the get-go a wisdom, frankness and “living in the now/one day at a time” sensibility from the start. --Julie Borders

Thank you, Julie! 

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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Dear Kristi: I don't write often, but I do read! Kudos to you for your will & strength to stop drinking; would that be said, too, for smokers. As for the climate, Sean O'Casey says it best: "The world's in a state of chassis"!!! Stay cool. Here, in New Bern, NC, it's beastly hot & humid!!!


That's funny about the wine!!! The Universe does love a good cosmic joke :-)
Melting here too in Switzerland and off to France next week, so from the frying pan into the fire I guess!

Gay Moore

We were in Paris in 2003, a year with another French heat wave, when many people died, especially the elderly in nursing homes. Neither hotels, cars, buses nor restaurants were air conditioned. Time for La Belle France to modernize----but yes, I am a huge Francophile!

jean Palmer

Hi Kristie
Sympathy for your heatwave. It is supposed to be 90 here is Massachusetts this afternoon. I'm not a big fan of heat.
I'm writing because I can't read your books. I purchased it a while back and read it then but now I don't seem to be able to find a link that works for me? Any help is most welcome!
Take care.

Kristin Espinasse

Hi, Jean, the information is on its way.

Many thanks for your book purchase.


Julie Borders said it so well. Thank you, Julie and thank you Kristin for one of my connections to France.

Sh’reen Morrison

Bonjour from Yuma, AZ.
12 August 1998 I was making my final drive from
Lexington, Kentucky into Yuma.

It was 122F.

It did not cool down until Octoberish.
So far so good this year. The mornings are cool
So my dog Sibylia and I go for a walk in the park
along the Colorado River.

France does not deserve this !

Neither do you all !!!

Hope the weather gods are preparing for a quick

Blue Butterflies to you,


Audrey Reel

OH MY GOSH! I can't get Patrick to close up the house and keep it cool! I would be sooooo cranky if I were there
so good thing I'm in Portland where it's gorgeous as usual in June. We just had a few days of lovely rain and now back to the sunshine and perfect temperatures. Not saying this to brag only to invite everyone to come to Oregon and dunk in some lakes, rivers or the Pacific to escape the boiling heat of the South of France! My home is yours anytime, Kristi!:)

Rosalind Mustafa

Was it 2002 or 2003 when we "met", dear Kristin? Your tenacity in so many things , your wit and humility have been a constant all these years. What an enduring example of perspective. I like that interpretation of une vue de l'esprit. Placing a mirror for us all to view your journey is brave and very generous. As we follow your family and look into your lives, we receive the gifts of lessons learned, love, and hope. Thank you.

Eileen deCamp

Stay cool Kristi! I agree with Julie Border's message!


Kristin, what a post!! I felt the heat as I read it. Your writing is so up close and personal, I was there, suffering in the heat. And I would have joined the chickens in their opportunity to cool off! I am not a fan of hot weather, yet I love Provence. The beauty and the people and the sea overtake the heat and I am in heaven when I am there. So, have a glass of lemonade, take a hand-held fan and sit in the shade with Jules and Smokey. Talk about the 100+ inches of snow we get every winter here in Indiana. That should turn the heat into joy!!!

Rosalind Mustafa

Oh! I almost forgot. In 2003, in Bayonne, when we experienced that scorching summer, there was a bit of relief by taking a cool shower and returning to bed without drying off. Lie on a towel. At least while the dampness cools your body, you can drift off to sleep again. Faite attention, mon ami. Stay well.


Thank you for writing even in the heat - a morning dip in the sea - how fortunate you are so close. Drink lots of water and please keep writing. You created some very funny pictures with the chickens and the car. Thank you for the smiles. It gets into the 100's here but we have AC so I cannot complain. Enjoy your weekend. Nancy

Barbara Sanchez

Hello Audrey,

I am Barbara also in Portland. I am enjoying our beautiful weather and hoping it will stay like.

This is my first time reading Kristi’s blog and must say I am enjoying it already. As I sit on my couch catching up on morning news and waiting for today’s match to commence, I am wishing the ladies will get a relief tonight when the game begins. I hope it does. It is my day of leisure for this very much anticipated match.

I am looking forward to reading more of Kristi’s blog.

Jusqu’a la prochaine fois......


Devra Long

I never take you or your writing for granted but probably don’t say “merci “ often enough!
I have been with you for so many years, from the beginning even before I knew what a blog was and because of you, I spend part of each day in France!
Also, another merci for helping me when I stopped drinking 3 years ago!
Julie Borders expressed so beautifully how so many of us feel!

Kristin Espinasse



Bonjour Kristi - hang in there! I am sorry about your little fish. I was in Paris during the heat wave in 2003 and found myself going to the supermarket section of Monoprix and standing in front of the frozen foods!
Here's hoping the heat will ease up soon and thank you for your writing. It's superb!

Carolyn Chase

My friend's son sent a photo of 42 degrees C where he is in France. Those temperatures are hard to deal with, especially if you have to work in it. Here it's been 32.8 C here in Salt Lake City, and frequently is much higher. The one thing that helps is the dry atmosphere, but much above 32.8 it's not sufficient to make it bearable.

In terms of your writing, your emails/posts are something which keep me going - I look forward to them with great anticipation, and joy when they come. Thank you for the gift you bring - yourself, your struggles, and your courage in going ahead and dealing with what comes along. It strengthens my own resolve, as well as uplifting me en route. Merci mille fois.


la canicule, (is it due to climate warming?) in many ways, does it matter when the people are under such a harsh hot weather?
i lived in South Australia and in summer, we have had +45 celsius. eggs were cooked on the pavement.
but, no matter where you are, hot is hot.
be carefull, Kristin, and look after yourself, your family and your chicken.
thank you for the instruction with each new word.



Bonjour, Kristin,
Here on the Monterey Peninsula of California we have the occasional heatwave, but mostly we have fog in the morning and fog in the evening which keeps our climate cool. Sometimes we have a night so foggy that we cannot even see the stars! Since there are already machines which make snow maybe this next generation which is so environmentally aware will produce machines which make fog for keeping cool.
Don’t forget to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
Bonne chance!


Our dear Kristi,
As always,a beautiful post today (written by a beautiful lady!)--words that fill us with admiration,inspiraton,and determination to walk life's path wearing a smile!
I have especially been keeping you all in my prayers during this heat wave.
(A weather forecaster mentioned it had come up from the Sahara?)
Our relatives in Serbia told us that there have been deaths there due to extreme heat.
Here in Las Vegas it is a" balmy"(in comparison,that is)103;we,though,are so fortunate to have a air conditioners to keep us cool.I so remember growing up in Scottsdale(suburb of Phoenix) --it was so hot that my best friend and I fried an egg on the sidewalk!(We didn't eat it ,of course,just cleaned up the mess)
Blessings always

Laura Pauli

I remember the heat wave of 2003 and 2004, the year I moved there, got pretty darn hot. I remember not needed to turn on the stove to cook an egg! stay cool! oxoxoxox

Herm in Phoenix, AZ

As I sit in my well air conditioned house in Phoenix,AZ, I notice the temperature outside is 107 degrees F. It has been an unusually cool month of June with only one day at 112.... mostly 100-103......Thank you Mother Nature. We are fortunate to have very low humidity.

Stay cool Kristi! Write up a storm. . . .maybe the rain will cool things down.

Kathleen Bidney


Stay cool, go swimming. Bring Smoky and Mom with you. Unfortunately the chickens have to stay home. I should have gone to beach today, it was 90F and I cut the lawn, trimmed and blew the debris into the woods.
We are lucky to have air conditioning Sunday that we can stay cool even when going shopping, the cars and stay res all have air.

Try to stay cool. Climate change is a bi**h.


Anne Woodyard (@MusicandMarkets)

Here's our extreme heat episode: The bottles of Prosecco we were bringing back from Italy exploded in our hotel room in Antibes! We found sharp shards of glass on the bed when we came back from dinner - glad we weren't in the room when they exploded! And glad they didn't explode in the car when we were driving! Guess we'll have to stick to champagne - no Prosecco for us!


They say the real danger is when it doesn't cool down overnight. The body doesn't have a chance to recover. Stay hydrated and cool.

Delilah Smith


It's hot here in Michigan but warmer and rainy in Fl where my husband is, but in Michigan it will only last and a week then snow LOL.


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