Two brothers at Aldi and riots in France
Papillonner: Mom's butterfly chair + a fluttery French verb for you today

L'Oubli: Two accidental versions of the same story (on forgetfulness)

Cat in nyons
Ah...L'oubli! When is forgetfulness a good thing? In today's unusual edition all vocabulary is at the end. We'll restructure things next week!

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

While in the kitchen I noticed steam rising from the countertop. Approaching the messy comptoir for a closer look, I recognized the Starbucks souvenir mug (Vail edition) I'd purchased while visiting our daughter, Jackie, last year. I never did use la grande tasse for its intended purpose (it's too heavy; I prefer somewhere between dainty teacup and bol, which the French love for their café au lait). But all is not lost (even if my memory is, we'll get to that in a minute....) I regularly put the giant cup to use, mostly to measure out dried couscous: one Starbucks mug couscous plus one Starbucks mug hot water…. Feeds 6.

Recently I've found a second use for the mug: lentils! I've been sprouting the dry légumes like crazy ever since my belle-soeur Cécile showed me the simplicity of sprouting beans: no special equipment necessary. But, after forgetting the sprouted lentils in the mug last week, it was time to toss them I and set the large cup on the counter as a physical reminder to feed the sprouts to our hens.

Only now there was steam rising out of the giant mug! What the...? Staring at the cloud rushing out of the mug, I noticed another cup beside it, on the counter. It held a cold café au lait...Putting two and two together, I realized I'd put the wrong cup in the microwave!

Oh no! Not again! It was one more oubli in a streak of forgetfulness. Just this past week I had left some bread in the 450f oven. Forgetting about it completely, I headed out for a long walk. This near-disaster was curtailed when, remembering, I hurried home from my walk only to learn I'd forgotten to put the bread in the oven first place!

The bread now in the oven and my phone's timer set to the highest volume, I hurried out of the house to resume my morning exercise, oblivious to the fact I'd left the door wide open and the keys dangling from the keyhole (something clear-headed Kristi would never do, not after coming face-to-face with a cambrioleur)!

Voyons, what other forgetfulness encounters have I run into? Run into...reminds me of running into people and the fear of not remembering names. I've set up systems for this. Just the other day in church I pulled out my smartphone, went to "contacts", and discreetly as possible reviewed the list of church members (there are only 12 of us). Turns out I knew the names all along… Why second-guess myself when I would do better to have faith!

Speaking of la foi, I will end with a quote I read this morning from Corrie Ten Boom (a Dutch Christian watchmaker and author of The Hiding Place), which hints at why such forgetfulness happens in the first place:

"If the devil cannot make us bad, he will make us busy.” Indeed, if we weren't so distracted by everything around us, we might recall what is essential.

Post Note:  Like those steaming hot sprouts found on my counter...I just discovered a previous draft (from May 29) of today's story (written June 1st)!! I'm going ahead and posting both stories--we'll worry about all the edits later. I've got to eat lunch now and rest my mind! 



This morning I headed out for a walk, certain to have finally chosen the right direction. It's all about balance, I reminded myself, stepping past the garbage which needed emptying. La poubelle could wait. So could Jean-Marc's chapter, which needed editing. And there was an item I needed to return to the store…. Ça peut attendre! Why does everything feel like it has a deadline? Why all the rushing all the time?

The best way to begin this day is by clearing my mind and getting some exercise. Well, that was my mantra as I picked up speed along on the trottoir. I was a mile into my walk, when I saw a green parrot fly over. Magnifique ! This reminded me to say a prayer….

Dear God. Please clear my mind. (Deep breath. Exhale…) Make room so i may hear your voice above all "else".

All else being the deluge of information filling my head. It's the fault of overcuriosity (too much information-seeking, internet surfing, social media, email, too many demands of family who swear they don't make demands but they do!)

Dear God. Please clear my mind. Make room so I may hear your voice above all "else". I repeated the prayer until…. Mon Dieu! A response came! Here is what God said....


Oh my God! I totally forgot about the bread I had put into the 450degrees…. A while before I left for my walk.

Oh no! Not again! Forgetfulness! There was no time to scold myself for yet another oubli--not when the bread was about to catch fire (would it? What is the next stage after complete carbonization?).

I grabbed my smartphone from my backpack and called Max and he did not answer.

I called Mom. She answered!

"Mom, I need you to get your keys and go into the house and get the bread out of the oven. Be careful when you open the oven door! The mitts are in the top right drawer!"

I hurried the one mile home, running the last few blocks only to find Mom watering the garden….

"Did you get the bread?"

Mom carefully weighed her words. "You must have left it on the stovetop, Darling."

Notice Mom didn't say "forgot" ie you forgot to put it in the oven…. I hurried into the kitchen to see with my own eyes the uncooked loaf. There it was!

Placing the loaf in the oven, I quickly set my smartphone's timer to 30 minutes and upped the volume just to be sure. Hurrying out of the house to resume my walk, I unwittingly left the keys in the door and left the door wide open. (Mom gently informed me of the forgotten door when I returned from my walk.)

"I keep forgetting things. What is wrong with me?" I said to Mom.

"Kristi relax. You just need to quit policing all of us."

Policing? What did this have to do with forgetfulness? Besides, any apparent bossiness was something I was working on!

Sensing my defensiveness, Mom began to backpedal. "Well, as for me, what helps is gratitude and dying to self (that die-to-self business may sound bizarre, Dear Reader, but what Mom means by dying to self is squashing the ego). Mom began pulling weeds, to illustrate such soul-cleaning.

"I know!" I growled, putting on garden gloves and helping with the garden chores. "I know! I'm the one that gave you those books. From Francois Fénelon to Thomas A. Kempis I know all about dying to self! I read it first!"

Mom overlooked my meltdown, with this next, barely concealed strategy: "I'm not saying you need to do those things, I was only saying *I* need to do those things."

Harrumph! We continued the tug-o-war in the garden until... a clump of seedlings caught my attention:

"Hey, I should thin these zucchini don't you think?"

"Good idea!! Don't throw those out...I'll replant them over here!" Mom offered.

Ten minutes later we stood back to admire our join effort and a new row of zucchini, which Mom artfully interspersed white alliums and strawberries. Brilliant!

The hot topic of forgetfulness was but a distant memory--and so was whatever it was we were arguing about :-)


le comptoir = counter, bar
la grande tasse = big cup, mug
la belle-soeur = sister-in-law (can also mean stepsister) 
un oubli= oversight, forgetfulness
cambrioleur = burglar

Smokey snoozing
Smokey snoozing in the garden. I'm off for a bite to eat and a snooze, too. It's good for the brain! I hope you enjoyed and were not too confused (like me....) over two versions of the same story. And please don't worry about my memory. Like all of you, I have the world on my mind! Today's edition was reckless (I did not check and recheck my text as many times as usual). If you catch any typos or would like to edit my French, my English, or my grammar in either language--your help is most welcome and appreciated. Thanks in advance.

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


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Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristi,
I enjoyed both stories but especially loved the original version! Funny, I am reading The Hiding Place right now. My daughter in law recommended it and we found it in a second hand bookstore in Charlottesville when she was visiting.
I noticed my forgetfulness lately but I wonder sometimes if it is because of us over thinking all the time or always trying to remember things for others in the family too. haha
Have a great week!


Your post came timely this morning, as I readied myself for work, walked out to my car & sat down and saw my debit card sitting in the console! Whew! Was I ever glad I remembered to lock the doors! Haha

Kate Dickerson

Boy oh boy - I have noticed I am so forgetful, lately - especially with names of things and people. And last week, I put 8 eggs in a pan of water, turned on the heat, left the room and promptly forgot about it all. I remembered about a half hour later, ran to the kitchen and discovered exploded (and still exploding!) hard boiled eggs everywhere! I actually was laughing, as I was cleaning up the mess, because the trajectory of some of the explosions was shockingly far - some even hidden behind decorative posts on the windowsill - thank God I checked behind them! It's good to laugh at ourselves during times like these. I do blame at least some of it on the craziness in the world right now, which is consuming a lot of my brain's capacity! :)

Chris papworth

Thanks Kristi! I love the way every now and again you fit in some of life’s really important stuff. Thinking of you and the others in your little church group this morning. Keep up the good work!

Debbie from Baltimore

Great post, Kristi! We all do these things and probably the worst part is all the time and energy spent on wondering why and how we could be so forgetful. All the, "What's WRONG with me's?" Rather than beating ourselves up, maybe we could just take a quick note and then be thankful that our days are so full of rich and fulfilling activity.

Nancy Stilwagen

I often say that forgetfulness is a result of our hard drives (brains) being so full of information it is hard to access just one particular piece. If only we could defrag!

Amanda Akhadoff

Hi Kristin!

I hope all is well over there for you and your family. I'm a long time fan since college and just noticed your website publisher is in my hometown of Sudbury,MA!
So cool. I was wondering if you have links to purchase any books besides your first. I look forward to your journal entries to brushing up on my French and would like to get a hard copy for my dad this month for his 66th birthday. He has a bit of l'oublie when it comes to technology. :)

Thanks and please keep up the awesome updates! Be well!

chris kelly

We are all so distracted these days, even when we don't consciously think about all the bad things going on, our brains are processing them.

Soyez en sécurité tout le monde, en France et aux USA.


Thought you might appreciate this favorite poem: Forgetfulness By Billy Collins

The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read, never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue
or even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall

well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

Mim Golub Scalin

Oh yes, I'm connecting with this completely. In my book club Zoom meeting we were all bemoaning the fact that we were always so distracted, when my husband poked his head in the room and said "Did you know you left the fire on under the salmon cakes you're making?" oops. Fortunately, they didn't burn, only got crispy. But we did have a laugh, at proof of distraction.


Hi Kristi,
Thanks for the post of L’Oublie. I don’t feel so bad now that I know that others are also forgetful. I have done the egg bit of forgetting them and having them explode, starting to heat the oil in the frying pan and when it starts to smoke, finally remember it. As the poem suggests - I have forgotten the title, author and contents of a book, because I have been reading so many lately, but once someone starts to tell me plot I start to remember.
We are so preoccupied by the events lately, that they overwhelm us and our memories go to mosh. So we need to go for that walk, run or garden to settle ourselves. Cooking also seems to quell the mind and relax me.
So thank you again for you 2 posts. Your garden looks beautiful and may you have a abundance of vegetables 🌶 🥦🥬🍆🍓🍑🌽🥕🥑🥗
Peace, Kathleen

Kathleen Hogan Hughes

Dear Kristi, Your stories were so compatible with my meditation for today from a book my sister gave me called "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young. The meditation basically said 'give your mind a break from planning and trying to anticipate what will happen' as when you try to plan for every possibility, you miss the moment to moment things. I agree these are stressful times and one must continually trust their Higher Power who knows and is in charge of all things. I so enjoy your stories and as a beginning French students with only three years of French as an adult learner, your stories help me see how real people use phrases and expressions in every day conversation. Thank you.

Patricia Sands

Dear Kristi ~ We can all use stories like yours to give us reassurance about our own forgetfulness. The laughter and quiet chuckles that accompany your posts are inspirational, as are the lovely interactions with your mom. La verité!

Angie Quantrell

Oh, the distractions! I remember once, when our children were stilling living at home and life was always chaos, trying to find the milk. I knew I had just used it, but it was not anywhere in the fridge. Later, much later, I opened a different cupboard (not anywhere near the fridge). Et voila! There sat the milk. Yucky milk. Oops!


Our dear Kristi,
You are such an inspiration!You give us hope and laughter when we need it most--be it our own forgetfulness,trying to juggle life's obligations with our own while trying to be devoted mommy(to two or four pawed kids),wife,and friend.
Sometimes it all seems colassly overwhelming!
I love how you,too,lean on our Father for strength and guidance.How many times has He told us"draw close to God and He will draw close to you".
Thank you for not only this reminder,but also for another post that wraps us in hugs.
Natalia xo

Susan from San Diego

We all do it! Years ago, I put eggs on the stove to hard boil and promptly forgot them until I heard explosions in the kitchen. They managed to reach the ceiling. After cleaning up the mess, I put more eggs on to hard boil and FORGOT THEM A SECOND TIME. More eggs on the ceiling. I was out of eggs by then. Thank goodness.

Teresa from nj

As usual, you have made a delightful anecdote of one of my (and apparently most of your readers’) common problems. I have been finding myself to be especially forgetful lately. It’s definitely due to the stress of all of the added craziness related to covid. Every aspect of our lives has been turned upside down. I can’t help worrying. And planning for- what exactly?? However the wake up call for me is when I lock myself out of the house. I have to call someone to let me it. It’s so stupid!! And that’s when I know I need to step back and let some things go. On the up side, with all of my kids and husband home again, there’s usually someone around to bail me out 😆😅 I’m grateful for this blog and community of readers and wish all much love and keep the faith. Grands bisous tous le monde!

Linda R.

Well, you helped me out. I put a pan of water on to boil to make some oatmeal, got busy in other directions, sat down to read your missive and - something clicked - “The water !” No burned pan but the water was half boiled away. A timely story for me - merci❣️

Carolyn R Chase

Loved the stories. They are so much my life. Trying to keep track of all the shoulds, oughts and have to's is just another task!! All God asks, and no more should anyone else, is to do our best. If I'm with it enough in the morning to reflect on what all needs to be done, I can set priorities, and do the least fun or the most important one first. If I write the list down, it has a better chance of being accomplished, but it usually is too daunting, and just another "to do".
I can always tell when there is some task that I really don't want to tackle because a lot of other smaller unpleasant things do end up getting done (instead). LOL
Just keep on keeping on, do your best, and forgive yourself and others.
Fond regards, Carolyn


Bonjour Kristi,
This may be your best story yet because of all the other stories of forgetfulness your readers remembered! I think it terribly ironic that forgetfulness provoked so many memories! Since the pandemic and domestic terrorism crisis I no longer travel, volunteer, or attend lectures, concerts, or church choir. One would think that with so much free time I could remember 2 or 3 zoom meetings per week, but no! I have to set up reminders, oy vey!
Does anyone have a recommendation for gophers and moles in one’s garden? I am trying a product that says it contains castor oil whose odor offends these critters. I hope I am not wasting my money on this.


Thank you Kristi and everyone’s reminders that we are human ! I sometimes can be hard on myself if I forget something. These days I am making a conscientious reminder in my brain when I do something that needs attending to, so I don’t forget. However my cell phone timer is a wonderful back up. The whole month of May we were to be in France with the first 9 days in La Ciotat. Everyday I imagined myself in beautiful France (not during lockdown). I lived a month in France and didn’t even go anywhere. I am looking forward to next year and redoing my imaginary trip !! I definitely won’t forget!
Merci ...have a wonderful day


"Dear God. Please clear my mind. Make room so I may hear your voice above all else."

This is a wonderful and beautiful prayer! I will try to keep it in mind. Thanks, Kristi, and God bless you.


Well, I was going to hard boil some eggs today but I think that can wait. thanks for the laugh at myself and all of us who do these humans things. So nice to know we are not alone. I have left the keys in the front door overnight - !!! Now checking the outside of the door is part of my evening routine. Anyway, thanks and have a great day.

Gail V

My husband and I have been referring to our l'oublie as COVID BRAIN.

judi dunn

.......Thank you for posting this... it is perfection as we grow older.... Judi D.

Judith Dunn

....Dear Kristi! Fear not, all of us have 'been there, done that'... at least once. I fond overthinking and often multi-tasking tends mt add to forgetting things. When it happens, I have learned to SROP, take a few moments to settle down and just meditate... or say the clear your mind prayer. After a bit, everything seems not so bad after all! We can get on with the day at hand and not wast a lot of time castigating ourselves for forgetting something.... Carry on in the garden, as it is truly fabulous! Judi, Tallahassee...

Mary E

Hi, Kristi,
I'm a regular reader but I rarely comment...sorry!

I hear you about forgetfulness! It sometimes seems as if every proper noun I ever knew (names, titles, etc.) flies out of my head.

I was wondering if you meant to say "siphon" instead of "subterfuge." A "subterfuge" is a deception, and I'm sure you didn't mean that.

I hope you get some time to relax and enjoy your garden. It's hard to keep one's thoughts together while juggling our lives plus the weight of the universe.

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Mary, I am glad you left this comment, as it helped me to see that *deluge* is the word I was looking for...and not *subterfuge* (thank you for the definition. I was surprised by the meaning!) So good to hear from you. Off now to fix a few things in that post...

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Amanda, Thank you very much for thinking of my book for your Dad! There are 3 books available on Amazon. For the links, they are either on the side bar (if you are reading on a PC), or (if you are reading this via mobile) scroll to the end of the page and look for three book covers. Joyeux anniversaire à ton père!


Loved your stories, especially the first. However, did you promise to give us the recipe for sprouting lentils which your sister-in-law gave you, or was that just my hope?
Breathe. Get a cup of tea, and enjoy it in the garden sitting in your chair.


Hi Kristi - great post. We all forget from time to time. If I get frustrated when I forget something, I visualize being at a buffet and piling all sorts of delicious food upon my plate. But, the plate gets too full and some of the delicious food falls off the plate because there is no more room! Our minds can only process so much information at a time, so the next time your unbaked bread falls off your plate, don't be too hard on yourself. ;>)


Before I retired after 40 years of teaching, I used to say that I was glad that there were only 24 hours in a day; any more and we would just be busier. For me, names are the hardest to remember.
Speaking of "la grande tasse," I former student studying in France wanted to know if there was a way to order a big cup of coffee in a cafe, and since I don't drink coffee, I didn't know. Does anyone know, or is that just un truc americain?

Marianne Rankin


I, too, have given a spare house key to trusted neighbors, in case of emergency, but they are often away. I have another backup. In my garden, there is a small figurine of a frog. On the bottom there is a panel that slides open, and I keep a house key, enclosed in a plastic bag to prevent rust, in the small compartment covered by the panel. I put the frog amid plants so it's not very visible. That spare key has come in handy more than once.

I've done some of the things mentioned by folks in this post, and we shouldn't feel guilty. We should do what we can to prevent a recurrence, and be glad that things worked out okay (such as no one taking the keys left in the front door).

Thanks for the poem.

Twila Koehn

I also enjoyed this post! I'm constantly forgetting things & it's reassuring to know others do too. A tip for hard boiling eggs. Awhile back I read an article on different ways to hard boil eggs just right. Ever since then I have done it this way: Bring the eggs to a boil. Then turn OFF the heat, cover & let sit on the stove for 11 minutes. Done! If you stick around until you turn off the heat, they definitely won't explode if you forget about them! 😊

Kristin Espinasse

For the coffee order:
un café allongé...or
un grand café...or
un grand crème (for café-au-lait)


Dear Kristi, Your post really resonated with me as I am constantly forgetting little things exactly as you have described! My children (all university students now) tease me and my husband thinks I have become an airhead! You (and your wonderful mum) are 100% right when you say that the Devil will distract us with busyness to take our focus away from what really matters. And thank you for your excellent'translation' of the very Christian phrase 'die to self'- with your permission, I'll be using that one!



Kathy Heckathorn

I can totally relate. I often tell the same story to my daughter, my son, my mother, my beloved, and several friends, then can't remember who's heard it.

I have a story due for my writing group every other week. I think about what my story will be while I'm walking, cleaning house, gardening, or running errands. Like you, sometimes I don't remember that I've actually written it. I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one with this problem.

Of course, the fact that we're all living in a strange new world has rattled us all. Hang in there.

Judi from Lake Balboa

Loved both versions! I’ve been thinking a lot about “oublis.” And I can’t decide if my “Perdus “ are greater than my oublis -or are they just very connected at times. In any case, I have been losing things like crazy lately and it’s driving me crazy. Have I really lost something or have I just forgotten where I put it. It can make me kind of frantic at times. If I find the item, it is such a relief. I’m working on not being too hard on myself for being forgetful at times. That is the big chore, especially as we age. Others can ease that self recrimination, like your Mom did, but it’s hard to not continue to think something’s wrong with ourselves! It’s a goal to be kind not only to others but to ourselves!!

Ellen Ahrendsen

I have had this blog post up for over a week now in my laptop tab and am just now reading it! So I struggle as well! We all have too much on our minds. I like the prayer you say "make room so I can hear your voice above all else." I am going to start saying that! I have been journaling each day recently to my higher power/God as I find it easier to get everything out on paper as opposed to simply saying it in my mind. If I say it in my mind, I quickly lose focus and begin thinking of other things, completely distracted. Even though I read this post late, it was the perfect timing for me. As always, God has us on our own journey and puts things in front of us when we are truly ready for it.

Margie R.

What a wonderful poem, Barbara, and so apt! Thank you! I love Billy Collins.
Kristi, if I don't carry a timer around with me, I forget to turn off the soup, turn off the sprinklers, etc.! Don't worry, we all do it. There is just too much on our minds - and as Nancy above said too much stuffed in our brains. It takes longer and longer to pull memories out of the correct filing cabinet!

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