Culte: How I found out I was in a sect in France (humor)
ça tombe bien (a useful phrase) + congé or vacation

Combler: Satisfied or fulfilled in French (and in life)

Smokey Max and Jackie
10-year-old Smokey is happiest when he is in the presence of his pack, or "sa meute." More on happiness in today's post. (Photo taken from inside my Mom's studio)

Today's word: combler

    => to fill
    => to fulfill, satisfy
    => to fill a gap (in one's life)

une vie comblée = a fulfilled life
combler son retard = to make up for lost time
je suis comblée = I have everything I could want or wish for

Book News: Soon we will finish chapter 7 of our memoir about life on 2 vineyards and the toll it eventually took (having already tested our marriage). This next section will be posted soon and it is as raw and personal as the first 6 chapters.  Click here for more about our story. 


  by Kristi Espinasse

Sunday afternoon, après l'Eglise, I was sitting on a fold-out beach chair in front of Mom's place when a thought burst through my mind: Je suis comblée!

The bright pink beach chair was a present from Mom and the joyful feeling was a gift from the here and now, or l'instant présent. In this moment there was my mom, my son, and my daughter--and there was Jean-Marc who had just walked up to see why all of us were gathered.

Jean-marc  max  jackie  painting

All this activity began with Max, who had a day off from his current internship at Château de Pibarnon. Max has been repeating the same wish for months: Je veux peindre! He backed his wish by a mission: "and Grandma needs to get back to her canvas!" Finally, he went around to the side of the house, to Jules's studio, to try and drag her out of bed. "Let's go to the art supply store!" he said.

Oh but he had to tug! He had to tickle! He had to flop! In the end he managed to get Jules up and painting again! It was around 4 in the afternoon, after my own siesta, that I stumbled onto this lively scene: two easels, two artists, a dozen tubes of oil paint and a host of creatures looking on--all Mom's doves, who live in the trees above, three little hedgehogs watching from behind a stack of logs, and dear sweet Smokey.

Max and Jules
Jules and Max. I love to listen to them banter. They have a wonderful rapport or complicité.
Jackie and her grandmother Jules kissing bonjour
Faire la bise. Jackie greets her grandmother with a kiss

Max and Jackie painting
Brother and sister painting with a palette knife at the chevalet, or easel


Soon Jackie showed up. She wanted to paint too! The former art school student began by helping her brother... until the urge to begin her own toile propelled her over to Grandma, to borrow some fournitures....

"First go and change into your old clothes!" Jules said. Just like that, illico presto!, the youngest artist donned old shorts and a t-shirt over her bathing suit and was back before you could say Prussian Blue.


Jackie and portable easel oil paints
A portable chevalet purchased in Draguignan, years ago. Happy to see it come to life again..

Max jackie smokey painting with oil

Circling around my family, admiring each of their paintings, I notice all three were working from the same photo of a parrot in a palm tree. How interesting to see each artist's interpretation!

Max, totally absorbed in his work, reproduced the picture using the same proportions and similar colors. Meantime, Jules's vision was grand: a bigger bird, wider palm leaves, and vivid colors!

Jackie's 'Perroquet dans le Palmier' was as delicate as lace! Using a palette knife like her brother and grandmother, her strokes were fine and detailed. 

Jackie oil painting parrot palm tree
Jackie's painting (midway through)
Max jules painting
Max and Jules's paintings at the beginning of the session.

How the art reminded me of the artists themselves: one orderly, one generous, one delicate--all the qualities I admire in my son, in my Mom, and in my daughter....

Hélas, the painting session came to a sudden end when the mosquitos moved in! Quickly scattering, each artist hurried into the house, leaving the doves, the hedgehogs, and Smokey to admire the unfinished works. The next day, when I said good morning to our golden retriever, I noticed a splash of blue on his wagging tail. And when it came time to feed the birds in our garden, a few had crimson red nails after landing on top Mom's painting. And Jules herself had splashes of purple in her silver hair. 


après l'Eglise = after church
je suis comblée = I am filled with happiness
l'instant présent = the here and now
je veux peindre = I want to paint
un chevalet = an easel
une toile = a canvas
les fournitures = supplies
illico presto = right away (see the  word-of-the-day post, here and lovely pics of the dogs)
le perroquet = parrot
le palmier = palm tree
peinture en plein air = outdoor painting 

Max's painting midway through

A Message from KristiFor twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.

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