A French wine and jam contest (with a nautical theme and a seaworthy crew...)
Quinzomadaire (our secret to finishing a book) + Some news to share--all in French!

New French words, including "chamaillerie" and A Dieu to one of our chickens...

La ciotat shore
I am going to bookend this edition with beautiful photos, to help balance a sad topic today. Here is a picture of our beautiful shoreline in La Ciotat, the city we live in--with Grandma, our our golden retriever, Smokey, and our chickens. You will learn many new French words at the end of today's story, so please read to the finish.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Yesterday afternoon when our plumbing backed up and all our toilets were en panne, I had this ominous feeling that the coming week would be un cauchemar

Then, at 4 am, ce lundi matin, my hens woke me. It wasn't un cri de détresse, more of a chamaillerie. Jealous by nature--especially when it comes to food--the chickens push each other around for the best spot on the fence, where they prefer to sleep each night. Once in a while one of them gets knocked off and wanders around the garden clucking until found and helped back up on the fence. 

Suddenly I heard my Mom, who was calling for me from the porch below. I threw open my bedroom shutters to find Mom in her slippers and pajamas. "One of your chickens is loose," Jules said. "I'll get my shoes and see you outside."

I met Mom in the garden and by then she'd collected the errant poule--the rusty brown one. We put her safely back in the pen, but, the next morning when I went to feed the chickens, I saw white feathers everywhere. Des plumes partout!

Mama, my white hen, was on the ground! At that terrible moment, my own Mama ran up, sparing me of having to look too closely at our 3-year-old hen. Mom held our hen, examining her from head to talon. C'était étrange. There was not one mark on her entire snow-white body, meaning an animal hadn't gotten to her. And we do not have hawks here on our city block, though we do have hungry goélands (but seagulls are not known to attack hens). Could she have been poisoned? ...Yet all those feathers hinted at some sort of struggle.

We may never know exactly what happened to our hen, and I am very sorry to share this sad tale today. But the alternative was to crawl under the bed covers and let the heavy blanket of sadness do its thing. After the stress of our plumbing situation (now fixed, merci Jean-Marc!) it seemed the best thing to do was to keep things flowing, including these tears. 

I want to end with un grand remerciement to our snow white chicken, Mama--you brought us so much more than eggs! We called you Colette when we got you, but you quickly became "Mama"--first in pecking order and forever in our hearts.

Mama chicken hen

en panne = out of order, broken
un cauchemar = a nightmare
un lundi matin = a Monday morning
un cri de détresse = a cry for help
une chamaillerie = squabble, quarrel
c'était étrange = it was strange
la poule = chicken
des plumes partout = feathers everywhere
le goéland = seagull

Kristi and hens

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So sorry about Mama; she was beautiful!

Suzanne Dunaway

We are so sorry for your poor mama and perhaps she just contracted one of those chicken things that happen or she could’ve had a little fight with one of the others and had a heart attack or something like that but she probably did not suffer too long. Desolée..l.🐓

Arlette Jassel

I too love chickens to draw them. I didn’t know they had distinct personalities. Thank you for the lovely story.

Ally Dabis

C’est triste-désolée. I had a chicken that I brought home from school-we had an incubator in our class and this chicken followed me everywhere. We lived in a suburban neighborhood ans it was a little unusual to see a chicken following a young girl. Ralph, as he was named, soon became to big to live with us. We gave Ralph to my brother’s kindergarten teacher whose husband had a small farm. We visited once only to find out that Ralph was a female who live a good, long life there! I love chickens-they are so cute and I am sorry for your loss.

K. J. Laramie

The mysterious invader who tussled with Mama might be back for the others. Maybe an enclosed, locked nighttime coop would preclude further heartbreak. I’m so sad for your loss, Kristi and Family. Chicken heaven is rejoicing with Mama’s Divine Presence once again.

Gail in AZ

So sorry!!, sending big hugs. 💕

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristi,
I'm sorry! We lost our chickens to foxes and hawks.


It is always a sadness to lose a chicken .... when ill, it is best they die first before you tried eating them. When they quit laying, a few hours in a marinade before doing a chicken dish of some type works well. They are great pets, provide much wanted eggs, and taste good in the end. Circle of life with the chicken and the egg. Which one did come first?


An Scott

So sorry to hear about Mama. How sad to lose your treasured chicken. When I was a child, maybe about 10 yrs old, the nearby 5 & 10cent store (like a Woolworths) used to sell colored chicks at Eastertime. I took my allowance, one year, and bought 3 colored chicks. Knowing my parents wouldn't approve, I kept them in a box in my bedroom closet. I would take them outside to "play" while my parents were at work. I lost two of them to mishaps. 1 drowned in a bucket of water in my neighbor's garage, it had somehow fallen in, 1 died mysteriously. I just found it dead in the box one morning. The 3rd grew into a giant blue chicken (rooster) that I named "Bubbles". When it started cockadoodle dooing in my closet I could no longer keep it a secret. My parents made me keep it in the garage in a big box. I would let it out "to play" and would end up chasing it all over the suburban neighborhood in which we lived. In our neighborhood, "farm animals" other than bunnies weren't apparently allowed, or so my parents told me. My father, fed up with having a big blue chicken to chase all over the neighborhood, found a farm in NJ that wanted Bubbled,and one Sunday, my prents, my two brothers and I all got in the car,to take Bubbles to the farm. Sadly, I had to let Bubbles go. The lady at the farm gave me a quart of blueberries from her farmstand. I was devastated...but never forgot Bubbles. I hope he had a happy and long life. By this time, he may have crossed the rainbow bridge, as well and maybe he was there to greet Mama as she crossed over. Be well.


Replying to myself here. I think I was a little harsh in my note rather than being a fragrant aroma! My apologies.

I have lived and worked in the two-thirds world for many years. Domestic animals/birds are protein sources for very needy folks.

Once when in my passport country, a friend had a pet chicken hit the barbed wire fence and took the hen to the vet who repaired the wing for $90. The same week, chicken hindquarters were selling for 22 cents a pound. At that time, one could also have sponsored a child in school for six months with the $90 vet fee.

I still sort through and ponder these discrepancies in life.

Diane Heinecke

Kristin, so sorry for your loss. Our animal friends become a part of the family, and when one passes, we grieve. Glad you have good memories and pictures of Mama.

Chris Allin

Dear Kristi,
So sorry about Mama. It’s amazing how God’s little creatures impact our lives. Even after they have gone...

Angie Quantrell

Awwww. So hard! So sorry! Hugs!

Cheryl Matzker

Kristin, I'm so sorry to hear about Mama. She was a beautiful hen. It's always so difficult when we lose someone who has become family. Hugs.


Our dear Kristi,
Your sweet mama was a gift to you from God,and now that her work here is done, our Father wants her home again.
Please know that we share your sadness,
and are sending prayers of comfort.
Arms around you.

Cheryl Jamison

So sorry for your loss, Kristin. It’s so darned hard to lose our Girls. You gave Mama a great life. 🐔❤️

Carolyn R Chase

I'm so sorry. Always upsetting.

Karen Cafarella

So sorry, sending big hugs.

Anne Lopez-Gallego

a charming but sad story ; our cousin in a small village near Jativa i en Espagne, lost all her free range chickens to a ferocious weasel which kill just to kill, not to eat. She finally had to cage them in with a cover at nighttime. We ate delicious omelettes when we were there!


So sorry about your beautiful Mama hen. Hugs. 🥺 🐔 ❤

Patricia Baker

Hopefully soon you will share sweet memories of mama .So sorry for your loss.


Hi, Kristi.

You look pretty as a picture in your picture in your chicken coop. And if ever there was a picture of an eagle among chickens ...

It can be difficult sometimes losing a pet/animal friend & one whose personality has added its own distinct patch of colour to the mosaic of our lives and to the pattern of our household's daily routine. It's, also, sometimes, given that the other party is not human, never quite easy to put into words the relationship, and that there was one, and the quality of it, and the value it added to our lives. And, the loss we feel.

I once had a dog. Nina. She was small. A Lhasa Apso. She was completely white. Not a mark nor hint of any other colour anywhere on her body. We had always kept several dogs at the same time for as long as I could remember, from childhood. Nina was the third, and last, of three dogs that were MY dogs. Not the family's. The two who preceded her were brothers. Half Lhasa Apso and half Alsatian. They were still small dogs but about, perhaps, two and a half times Nina's size. And perhaps three or even four times her physical strength. They did NOT take kindly to her arrival.

They showed no signs of ever giving her a chance neither of halting their very threatening, menacing, hostile, hateful behaviour, though I did my best to ensure their attention from me did not wane and to integrate them all; so, I had to keep Nina with me a lot of the time, and also, she got to live inside the house, full-time, for her safety. The other dogs, the weather being tropical, once weaned, had gotten only partial run of the house during the day but had to sleep in tbeir kennel or in the fairly large yard and garden as took their fancy. With their continued threatened violence to Nina, they had to be kept completely apart; so, they didn't get to come in the house anymore, as no matter the location or time of the day, they just did not seem inclined to making the slightest attempt or barest pretense, even, at civility. Forget friendship. At that point, even mere, cold civility would have been a welcome breakthrough and state of affairs.

Perhaps somewhat like Muriel's friend in her second comment and reply to herself, I traveled to another state because that was the only place I found a vet who felt she could save the leg of one of my two half Lhasa's who had been very badly hit by a visitor's car driving in. Other vets had said his life could be saved but one of the affected legs would have to be amputated to save said life. I wouldn't hear of it. I didn't rest until a vet was found who thought she could possibly save his leg. She was in another state. I traveled there and traveled back again to bring him back home when his period of convalescence after the surgery, receiving further treatment and care, under the doctor's eyes, was over.

Nina used to cry herself to sleep, and that sleep only from sheer exhaustion, every night, for perhaps about three days (or a week?) when she first arrived. She cried until I, coming home tired after long days at work and more and more desperately needing sleep before the grind of the next day, eventually had to take her to my retired (now late) mom, who was kind enough to take her and keep her in her own room, where Nina continued to cry all night, every night. She had to stay on the veranda of my mom's room. Nina cried until she lost her voice.

I couldn't get angry at her though. No one could. She was only a little puppy who'd just been abruptly, with no warning, taken away from the mother, or parents, and siblings and home she'd known and taken to a new environment where there were dogs, strangers, who obviously hated her and wanted to do her violence and kept telling her, in the strongest terms, to go back where she came from (like her greatest desire wasn't to grant just that very wish!) and, they were bigger than her. Bigger than her mom and dad and siblings! Nina had most likely never seen dogs bigger than her parents.

In all our years of keeping dogs as pets, we had never had anything like the whole, entire situation before. New dogs adapted to each other and to the house and family immediately or almost immediately. In fact, in the earlier years of my childhood, we kept both dogs and cats. Simultaneously. They co-existed very well. And though the cats were much smaller than the dogs, the dogs had a very healthy respect for the cats. The cats ensured that.

Nina's two enemies were not only half the same breed as her but had met other dogs (or another dog?) and large-sized, in the house on arrival themselves. By every indication, they ought to have taken to her. If not like ducks to water, then like, well, half Lhasa Apsos to a full Lhasa Apso. Or, was THAT the problem? The inferiority complex of the half breed to the full pedigree? Overcompensation? Attack as self-defence before expected rejection and disdain? I found their behaviour quite odd and nothing seemed to help.

Nina, therefore, not only lived full-time in the house but since she followed me around the house all the time, and following on from her period of such tragic mourning and depression when she first arrived, she also stayed in my bedroom; the first and last dog ever to do so. I had always kept it pet-free but Nina would not sleep anywhere in the house but at my bedroom door and thus, at about 3am or 4am everyday, I'd wake up, just to let her into the room to sleep by my bed & I, also, immediately went back to sleep. If I was late, she'd whine softly to wake me and I'd feel bad that already not allowing her to stay in the room all night, I'd denied her a little more of the precious time she did have. I, also, used to take her out with me in my car sometimes when I had shopping to do, groceries, little errands to run, etc and when visiting very close friends.

I traveled on leave from work for three weeks to France. I came back to the news that Nina had died before my return. The family informed me that from the day I traveled, Nina just used to go sit on the stairs to my bedroom every day. Deaf to all entreaties. Immune to all enticements. One day, she was discovered there dead. The vet, who cared for all our dogs, told me that very simply, Nina had died of a broken heart.

I had never heard of such a thing before.

The whole thing was unprecedented, and a great shock.

I had traveled since I was a child, with my parents, and then in adult years, on my own; we had never had any dogs die before our return.

It was in hindsight, after the cause of death given by the vet, that then, I saw. Nina had never known me to be away like that. My parents and some siblings lived in the house and staff on the grounds and they all loved her; but her life revolved around me. She was my dog. With hindsight, I saw how she was always with me, always followed me and stayed with me, once I was in the house and was also, used to being with me, sometimes when I went out. I was the sun around which her life revolved. She had never experienced my absence. Then three weeks. All of a sudden.

Cold turkey doesn't work/isn't advisable for everyone.

She probably thought I was dead. Though she probably didn't know what death was having never seen it yet. She, at least, probably thought it - my absence - was a permanent loss and separation. Like had happened in the very dawn of her life when she was snatched away from her parents and siblings and home. She couldn't withstand or survive a, as she must have thought and as it clearly must have felt, second such bereavement.

That was twenty-seven or twenty-eight years ago. I have not had any other dog since. I have not been interested. After the other two dogs died, that's been the end of my keeping any dogs or even any other kind of animal/pet.

Nina had a distinct personality. Sweet. Loving. Very lovable. Playful. But would be quiet when I needed that.

I could see everyone, family, and staff, were afraid what the effect of the news of her death would be on me (they had buried her; they had, of course, had to before my return) so I wanted to free them from worrying about me and I, therefore, just took and treated it (before them) in a matter-of-fact though very quiet manner and did not permit any discussions on the subject.

I think this is the first time I have spoken like this about Nina.

I am now going to say what had been my initial thought, somewhat philosophical maybe but what I actually initially clicked on the comments tab to say.

As saddening as Mama's death may be to you, be glad and thankful it's only Mama the chicken, and not your real Mama, the human, that's dead.

On my late and greatly-beloved dad's 60th birthday, we awoke to find our lovely Beauty, our half Saint Bernard - half Alsatian dog, dead in the garden. She had been hale and hearty and running around up until when last seen late the night before. She - her body - showed no signs of any injury, attack, struggle or anything untoward. She was an adult but not in anyway old. She was a big-sized (not overweight) dog. She was my dog. I think my late mom disputed that once though. If she was de jue meant to be the family dog, she was de facto my dog.

God used her to save my life. I was drowning in the ocean. I literally, really did "see my life flash before my eyes". It's not a myth or cliché. It really happens. In seconds. Inexplicably. GOD activated the Saint Bernard rescue dog genes in Beauty that she had never seen being used nor heard about, having also been brought to us a very young puppy.; but when the moment in her destiny that made a demand on that gift in her arrived, instinctively she just rose up and manifested in it and ran to me in the ocean.

On getting to me, she turned herself around so that she was no longer facing me but the shore and then came up close alongside me so that her long leash was by my hands and within my reach. Beauty then stood stock still in the water, waiting, until she felt my grasp and grip on her leash. Then Beauty moved steadily forward through the waves, through the water, pulling me out with her, and didn't stop until she got me to the beach, to safety on the shore.

On my dad's 60th birthday morning, she was dead. It It was a shock. It was unbelievable. I still remember my now late mother immediately, after informing me, admonishing me very stringently and pleading at the same time that I must NOT cry. I was to, instead, give thanks to God for my father's life and for finding a substitute for the arrow of death. No matter what, I was NOT to cry. Nether mourn nor be sad. I was to rejoice and give God thanks. I had never heard such a thing before. I loved my dad, however, and didn't want him to die, so I obeyed.

That was about 40 years ago.

God granted my dad to live eleven plus more years after Beauty's death.

I couldn't explain it but that morning, never having hear such a thing before, yet on some prescient level, in my heart, I knew, without rational explanation, I really did feel it. I knew that once again, God had used our precious rescue dog, to save yet another life in our family. Whether by the "arrow that flies by day" or "the pestilence that stalks in darkness" (Psalm 91), whichever way and at whatever time, in the night or first thing in the morning, that the untimely death had been sent, God had given a substitute (Isaiah 43: 3 - 4), and Beauty had taken one for the team.

So, dear Kristi, "in all things, give thanks."

Thank God it is Mama chicken who's been killed, who's dead; and not Mama Jules.

In Numbers 23: 33, the Angel of the LORD, standing with drawn sword, right in his path and blocking his way, said to the prophet Balaam: "I would have killed you but I would have saved your donkey alive; for your path is a reckless one before Me."

In Genesis 22: 13, the ram was sacrificed in Isaac's stead, and Isaac was spared and restored to his parents.

There are surely mysteries in the Word of God and mysteries in this life we do not understand nor are even aware of.

God, in His Word, along with many other metaphors, likens not only Himself to a Bird but we also, to birds. God says "I bore you on wings of an eagle and brought you to Myself." (Exodus 19: 4) "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I wanted to gather your people together, like a hen gathers her chicks under her wings but you would not let me." (Matthew 23: 37) "But they who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles."

I find it interesting that Psalm 91: 3 declares that "He will deliver you from the snare of the Fowler." A Fowler hunts and set traps for birds, for fowl. Yet God says He will deliver us from the fowler's trap.

Are we birds?

I guess, yes. Avian, especially the eagle, is apparently one of many spiritual types that children of God/believers/Christians are.

Is God a Lion (of Judah)? Is God really a Dove? Is God really a real, physical animal Lamb? Is God a Rose (of Sharon)? A Lily? Are we, Believers, Christians, actual physical sheep?

God is a spiritual, metaphorical Type. As are we types.

All this, all the above, and thank you for staying the course, just to say: Darling Kristi, your Mama chicken is dead but look on the bright side: your Mama whose - no matter how grown you get and no matter how many lil' chicks of your own you have and no matter how grown your own lil' chicks also get and no matter when your own lil' chicks start having their own lil' chicks - lil' chick you'll always be, your own unique, irrepressible, one-of-a-kind, adventurous and loving, free-spirited Mother hen, your Mama Jules is alive, and if not clucking (you may want to disagree there), at least, kicking! And how!

Mama came, she clucked, and she conquered. Your heart. And now she's roaming free-range in that great cornfield in the sky.

Chin up, old girl. Know this of God: "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book." (Psalm 56: 8 NLT) He knows. He understands. He cares. He loves. You.

"In all things, give thanks."

Robbie Lane Jackson

So very sorry for the loss of your sweet chicken. Not knowing what happened just makes it worse. You took very good care of her and they all have had a loving Mama. Lucky ones.

marti Hinman


Liza Reavis

Bonsoir Kristin,

Je viens de m'inscrire à votre site, grâce à mon ami, Emmanuel Serriere. L'idée d'apprendre un nouveau mot de français tous les jours. Mais je suis triste en apprenant ce qui se passe avec votre chère poule. Que les autres restent en bonne santé!

Par hasard, est-que vous connaissez Sebastien Espinasse, de Fabrique Délices?

À la prochaine,

Kristin Espinasse

Bienvenue, Liza! Je suis ravie de lire votre message. Je ne connais pas Sebastien. Bonjour à Emmanuel et Gwen! 

Sharon Marchisello

I'm sorry about the loss of your beautiful hen.

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