Adieu Sweet Smokey: French for "Dog Heaven"
Piquer: Guess who moved out of our house and stole away with our stuff?

Redémarrer: Bonjour. An update from Kristi

Sunny English sheepdog
In Denver, I got to meet "Sunny", my sister's 5th chien de berger anglais ancestral, and enjoy a longawaited reunion with family. Read on and bienvenue to new subscribers. Delighted to have you with us! 

Today's Word: redémarrer

    : to restart, start again, to get moving

FRENCH SOUND FILE: Click the following link to hear Jean-Marc pronounce the French words in today's post. Then scroll down to the vocabulary section to check your French comprehension.

Click here for the audio file

The eightHave you read The Eight? It takes place in France, is loaded with history, and Mom loved it! Order it here.

by Kristi Espinasse

Et hop-and just like that-summer is over. The French call this time of year la rentrée, "the start of the school year" or simply the return from vacation for those of us heading back to work. It is time to redémarrer or restart this blog with a quick update from our home in La Ciotat.

From the Rocky Mountains to the Mediterranean Sea...
It feels good to come home to France after a solo, three-week visit to Colorado. And like anyone returning from a getaway I have a lot to catch up on including, apparently les mites! Hungover from jetlag I stood in our kitchen pointing to le plafond as my husband balanced himself atop our wobbly dining table, a sharp wooden stick in his hand. You need such weapons to scratch the buggers loose from from their encrusted nests. Allez! Oust! Begone unwelcome weevils! Get out of my oatmeal, get out of my rice, get out of my life!

It is time to calm down and focus on writing and it doesn't come easy after a two-month pause. Writing for a living means the brain is constantly churning. Everything is grist for the mill! The mind chatters possible sentences, edits phrases, rearranges ideas and words only to scatter when facing a blank page. All that brain sweat for nothing. Two summers ago I decided to go on summer break "just like teachers do," and rest my head. I still don't know whether that's a good idea or not. I think this summer taught me that writing regularly is more than a healthy discipline--it is an anchor.

There, I've said everything but what I came here to tell you. Let those previous paragraphs be a warm up and now let's sprint to the finish with a recap of my time in Denver: After 3-and-a-half years apart from my family, I had the chance to see my sisters, Heidi and Kelley, and our Dad for a belated 80th birthday celebration. While this was the highlight of my trip, so were the many hugs from my niece and nephew, and seeing the two off to college at CU in Boulder. I also got to experience a “Tailgate party” before the CU football game, and, back in Denver, savored enough Mexican food and pastrami sandwiches and Triscuits to hold me over until the next time. Oh, and we discovered Elk burgers (thanks Rondo and Tom!) and Colorado corn so good it makes organic French maïs taste like cardboard. I will need to better explore the French farmers markets during corn season--and update you.

My sisters Kelley and Heidi, our Dad, and me in Boulder.

Other highlights included a special gift delivery from a reader (see painting below), keeping up with my sister on daily walks with sheepdog Sunny (Heidi is a jet plane while I'm a hangglider) and a sober dance in the rain at a biker bar! But I'll save that one for now. A writer must always have a story up her sleeve and the option to leave it there!

Now, back to those pesky pantry invaders and to other areas needing attention and care here at home. Tell me, how are you and how was your summer? I would love to hear about it in the comments. And thank you so very much for reading these French-infused updates, moths and all!



Edits to this post are welcome and appreciated. Merci beaucoup!

Are any of the following words new to you? Which is your favorite term and which is hardest to pronounce? 

le chien de berger anglais ancestral = old English sheepdog
bienvenue = welcome
redémarrer = to restart
et hop! = and that's it! and just like that!
la mite = moth
le plafond = ceiling
allez! = go on!
oust! = get outta here!
le maïs = corn
amicalement = yours



Thanks, artist Judy Feldman, for this precious rendition of our dearly departed dog. Those eyes! That tongue! That soft, silky, golden hair... That's our Smokey! Hard to believe he's been gone two months.  


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Laura and Jim

Bienvenue - Welcome back home Kristin! Looking forward to your new blog posts! The gifted painting of Smokey is a treasure capturing his sweet essence!


welcome home, Kristi: So happy you were able to spend time with your very lovely family; love the painting of your pup! Glad that you are back to your writing; I so enjoy your stories! Amicalmente, Ann


Our dear Kristi,
Ma chere, you were missed,wished an extremely happy bonne vacance, and now welcomed back with hugs and laughter!
What a beautiful family and no mistaking you are lovingly related!!
Thank you for sharing this with us!
For certain your heart still aches for your beloved Smokey(lovely painting!)
As I was told and now accept: you never get over loosing them, you only learn to live with it.
Arms around you all.


Welcome back!

Susan Stafford

Welcome back! Everyone needs to get recharged with a relaxing break from time to time. How nice that you were able to get together with your Dad and sisters. I look forward to your resumption of your weekly musings. That portrait of Smokey is quite a lovely reminder of your beloved pet. Fondly, Susan

Leslie in Oregon

It's good to hear from you, Kristi. I'm glad you had a sojourn with your Colorado family. How is your mother?

Meredith Callahan

Bonjour et bon retour, Kristi!

I have worked at the CU Boulder Library for 50 years (!). Please tell your nieces that the library and librarians are available for any help they may need with research and more. Also, I have lived in Boulder for 50 years and am very curious about the biker bar. Possibly Rocky Flats?




Niece and nephew, I mean!

Geraldine Ventura

Missed you, Kristi! Especially since Covid began we could not visit France, and now at age 89, my husband says we are too old to do any traveling! Your blog is my life line to France so please keep writing!

Geraldine Ventura

Missed you, Kristi! Especially since Covid began we could not visit France, and now at age 89, my husband says we are too old to do any traveling! Your blog is my life line to France so please keep writing!

Patricia Sands

Bienvenue! It's a breath of fresh air to have you back here on your page, Kristi!


Your dad is 80? Wow! He looks about 50 in that photograph. Lovely that you had time with family.


Kristi--great to have you back!

Be sure to get rid of the moth/insect eggs. Tiny black things that hide on shelves under clothes (or kitchenware, in your case). That will go a long way towards solving the problem.


What a treat to see this in my email today. You were missed - his painting is perfect. So glad you were able to travel to see your state side family. Hugs to all, Nancy. Considering a new friend for your family??

Karen Cafarella

Great to have you back. You all look great!

Dawn Johnson

Bienvenue!!! What a sweet time with your sisters and family. So glad you got to get away and take a break. . Now I am looking forward to hearing about all your next adventures.


Welcome back, Kristi!
Your trip sounds delightful and I am glad you got to celebrate with family.
I think you are going to need pantry moth traps. There are non-toxic ones available. We keep one in the pantry all the time, just in case.
Best wishes!

Joanne Fischer

So happy you had such a nice trip with family just north of us! Some day we will get you to Santa Fe. We are off to Holland and France in two weeks! Been waiting 3 years to get back there.

elaine mercier

So sorry to hear about your beloved dog, Smoky. Great painting! Glad you had a nice time with your family. Missed reading your weekly writings. Welcome back!

Best wishes to you and Jean-Marc, Elaine

Carolyn Chase

I understand how precious those times together with family are - simply being together, doing ordinary things. Plus the reminiscing and dreaming, time to let go of the frantic greeting, and time before the dreaded goodbyes.
I'm sure it was hard to come back to the house without Smokey to greet you - those goodbyes are the most difficult.

Kitty W-P in Canada

Bienvenue chez vous, chère Kristi! So happy for your holiday back in the States (Love the photo -- Y'all share those fresh rosy cheeks, I see with delight. And now the battle with evil weevils -- been there; not fun. What a charming Smoky-portrait from Judy F, you lucky people.
Yep, we missed you, yet also wished you a re:energising break with time to grieve your loss of Mr. Wondrous Furball Smoky. Looking forward to hearing your tales and thoughts as autumn glows onward.
Hugs to each and all of our cherished la Famille Espinasse, including Mme Jules of course. 💖

Lois Finstein

Since you asked for edits, here’s a gentle edit of an English word—niece not neice. The spelling is the same in French except for the addition of the accent! Maybe it was just a typo.

   Cynthia Lewis

My spirit was with your family as they welcomed you home. I have missed you! However, I'm glad you had a fine visit with your family in Colorado and maybe other states, too.

What a loving and thoughtful gesture by Judy Feldman to paint a wonderful portrait of "Smokey"; it will be given a very special place in your home.

Always, my best wishes,

Joyce  Mazalewski

So happy that you had a wonderful visit with your family. . I can’t believe that your Dad is 80!!!
I’m also so happy that you’re back! Missed you this summer.
Now on to the moth problem. I had pantry moths a few years ago and once I had thrown out everything that they were in 🥲 I put basil leaves on the pantry shelves and they never returned. I don’t know if that was an old wives tale or not but it worked! Good luck!

Judy Feldman

Kristi, I thought I posted before, but apparently, forgot to send. So glad you had such a lovely family reunion! And, thank you for posting and commenting on my painting of Smokey. It was a pleasure to paint him, and so happy I could send it to you while you were in Denver! As your other readers said, we are all happy that you’re back to writing, and look forward to more wonderful stories!


Welcome back Kristi ! I’ve missed your writing and familiar energy and heartfelt words!
I went to the UK ~ London, Bath, Stonehenge, Swansea and Cardiff Wales an unexpected detour solo as my hostess had COVID) 36 hrs in Blois, France and then Edinburg Scotland. It was the trip from hell with moments of bliss, covered in grace! Everything that could go wrong did but also much kindness from strangers. Oh and did I learn so much!
Gratitude helps!


Welcome back. How nice to find something not political in my email today. The painting of Smokey is beautiful. Looking forward to hearing about the biker bar!


Looking forward to more histoires à la Kristi!

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Lois. It is so helpful to have this edit. Much appreciated!

Suzanne Dunaway

Bienvenue. You can get rid of those animals with a stickum thingy by ORPHEA, on Amazon, that you stick on your pantry walls (I use scotch tape to make sure it stays there and don't put it near anything that might stick to it as it will be hall to get loose!). Just stick them to the pantry walls or cabinet doors that close off your flour, cornmeal or whatever, and the little bugs will be attracted to the natural sex hormones for bugs on the sticky part. They work wonders. Keep flour and corn meal and oats, etc. in tight bags with a rubber band around them.

Bob Head

ORPHEA won't kill anything. It's a mix of plant fragrances and extracts that deter insects. Geraniums have the same effect. I grow them near plants that get attacked by insects. You can probably use geranium leaves to get the same effect inside a wardrobe. Certainly won't do any harm

Kristin Espinasse

Bob, Great tip regarding geranium leaves. Thank you! We have a variety of geraniums that wards off mosquitos. Do you think these leaves will work? It is worth a try!

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Suzanne. I keep most of our flour, oats, rice... in giant sealed jars, and use a lot of ziploc bags (inserting a bay leaf repellent inside) for the rest. 

Kristin Espinasse

Linda, So brave of you to go ahead and travel solo. I enjoyed what you said about grace, gratitude, kindness of strangers and learning. This, and a positive attitude, are a travelers best friend. Thank you for your thoughtful words.

Kristin Espinasse

Merci, Judy! Your painting traveled safely home with me and Jackie placed it here in our living room. We will treasure it, always.

Kristin Espinasse

Joyce, Thank you for the tip about using basil leaves in the pantry. We have some in our garden, so this is an immediate help.

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Cynthia. Thankfully, my Dad and my sister, Kelley, flew in from Seattle. I would have loved to visit other states, including Washington, but this was convenient having family fly in.

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Kitty. I will be happy to give Mme Jules your hug. 

Kristin Espinasse

Carolyn, My sister asked, while driving me to the airport: what is the first thing you want to do when you return home? My thought was: enjoy a furry, slobbery greeting from my dog, just as you mentioned. Alas, no Smokey, but plenty of kisses and hugs from family. And a sweet portrait of Smokey to unpack.

Kristin Espinasse

Joanne, Enjoy Holland and we hope to see you in France! xoxo

Kristin Espinasse

Nancy, yes, indeed! I would love to have another dog when the time is right. Hoping and praying for The One.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you Passante! I hope Dad is reading your message. The photo was taken two weeks ago, and he does look and feel amazing. He does Pilates, loves to Kayak, golf, tennis, and walk daily. Above all it is his sunny attitude! 

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you for reading, Geraldine. Your notes are my lifeline. They keep me on track with my posts and deadlines and make everything worthwhile. 

Kristin Espinasse

Gabrielle, thanks for mentioning the non-toxic option. I will look for them in our quincaillerie!


Bienvenue, Kristi. I missed you but am glad you had a chance to recharge. Redémarrer is new to me and will take some practice. I always think La rentrée is a good time to Tavel in France. There are new museum expos, the marches are filled with autumnal produce and the weather is lovely. Love the portrait of sweet Smokey.

Norma Plowman

Welcome back! It was a pleasant surprise to see you back today. We are south of Denver in Taos, NM ( I see there is someone in Santa Fe) and had a spectacular summer- while the West has been scorched with record temperatures ( glad we moved from California). Heavy monsoon rains brought spectacular fields of Cowpen flowers blanketing fields of normally vacant lands. It has been artists' dream and we have enjoyed a perfect summer. Now off to Budapest in a few weeks and of course 5 days in Paris after our Danube River cruise. I miss France!
How fortunate you got to meet up with family again. And yes, your father, looks 50!


Hi Kristi,
Welcome back and love the photo of you with your sisters and dad!
Glad you had a wonderful summer together! I bet the weather was cooler than in France too!

Kristin Espinasse

Norma, Taos sounds beautiful. Would love to visit (after seeing Joanne in Santa Fe :-) Have a lovely trip in Budapest and Paris, and enjoy cruising the Danube. 

Jeanine Woods

Welcome back Kristi. What a lovely picture of you, your sisters and dad (young looking, I might add :)). Rejuvenation is a healthy thing, for the body and the brain, and I'm so glad you made the time for it. I loved today's post- la rentrée is a new term and so appropriate as we get back to reality et pour redémarrer!

gary mcclelland

Sorry with your family schedule you didn't have time for dinner on the deck at Chez Mac. In addition to the corn you touted (although I'm betting our supplier has better corn than you experienced), we also would have introduced you to Palisade Peaches from Colorado's Western Slope and melons from Rocky Ford. Next time! Glad you had a great trip, got to see Boulder and CU, and especially got to celebrate your father's birthday with your sisters. And I sincerely hope the mites are under control and that JM didn't fall off the table!

Maria B. Cochrane

Your dad looks great! 80 will be here for us before we know it. his picture encourages me.
It must have done your soul good to hang out with family. Three weeks - a good amount of time to totally disengage.

I affirm the summer your creativity well can replenish.

Leslie NYC

Welcome back!
It is so good to start September with your blog. I agree that Smokey's sweetness comes through in the painting.
I am looking forward to being in Bandol at the end of the month for a good rest.
Bonne rentrée !

Susan M Carter

Love the family picture - your Dad looks great. I remember fondly meeting him and Jean-Marc at a wine shop in Newport Beach many years ago. Both were delightful.


Good morning, It is good to have you back. The painting is truly wonderful; such a nice gift to you. You will miss him every day. Little things remind me of our beloved family member. Summer had some tribulations but also some steps toward working through those. I just started a much needed vacation after working too much as usual. So I also spent the summer dreaming up my adventure. We had a few unwanted pests in the backyard. A rat almost ran into me while After I had just finished yoga (laying back on the mat). Thank goodness my ears perked up and heard it coming just short of my May as I sat up.

Take care

Monica G

Welcome home. So glad you got to visit family. Your dad does not look 80! The painting of Smokey is awesome. I had weevils once. I think that I just threw everything away that had them, then kept all grains in airtight containers. Maybe a little clove oil as a deterrent.


Interesting your note about the taste of corn….we are finding that the frozen peas and carrots in WA seem tasteless as compared to those we purchased at Picards!

As a retired educator, three to four works of non-work seemed to be all I could do before sitting down and getting ready for the next academic year. The only time I did more was the summer I traveled to Haiti for my first overseas trip. Even then, the last week, I was thinking through the course work for the next term!

Kathleen Bidney

Bienvenue, it is good to have you back but I am so glad that you got to visit with your family. You all have wonderful smiles.
It is good to be back in France after an absence of 5 years, but this time were are visiting Brittany. Dean and has been here before and I wanted him to see it, but I so miss Provence - Next year.
Great painting of Smokey. He will be remembered as the dog who survived the fight. Eventually another dog to help keep Jules Jules company and also both of you. A new child 👦
Looking forward to the next blog.
Peace, Kathleen


Hi Kristin,

Just a cou cou from Seattle, we met you guys many moons ago in Marseille at a wine tasting, when we lived in Les Milles and you were helping us learn French. Your blog helped us keep our vocabulary a little broader than the kids (after we moved back), but we couldn't compete with their perfect accents when we were visiting in July.

Thanks so much for your efforts and words of the day!

K.J. Laramie

You have such a beautiful family!
We all missed you. Welcome back!
Is Jules nurturing any new birds or other lucky critters who may have wandered by in your absence?


Chère Kristi, Le première fois j'ai lis votre blog était il y a vingt ans. J'ai allé sans lire pendant un certain temps et j'ai redémarré il y a cinq mois avant j'ai voyagé à Aix pour un mois en Mai. J'ai visité le charmant restaurant local au-dessus de Cassis que vous avez recommandé, j'ai vu le village de Cassis et passé une journée dans La Ciotat. Merci pour toutes vos recommendations. Elles m'ont aidé à rendre mon voyage en France spécial. Je continuerai lire!

Julia ~ Falling Off Bicycles

Welcome back, Kristi. :)
I don't recall ever having seen or heard of Kelley before. Nice to see the family photo.

Looking forward to seeing your posts again.

Diane Heinecke

I'm a little late in saying "Welcome back!" When I saw your entry on Max's very stylish condo I thought I'd better backtrack. I missed your blog so much. Glad for you, though, that you got to reunite with family. I hope when the time is right you will find another furry friend and that you will always have happy memories of your faithful Smokey.

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