Coqueluche: My teen heartthrob & 70s fashion through a French girl's eyes
"Bisettes"- a favorite new word + photo essay with family updates

Guess Who Moved to Lyon? + A useful computer term in French

Brise-bise shutters france
One of the vocabulary words in today's story is brise-bise, for these charming half-curtains seen across France

TODAY'S WORD: un logiciel

    : software

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Good news! Our daughter will be moving to Lyon to begin a 10-month intensive program in Web Design. Since returning from Miami in September of 2021, Jackie's path has been hit and miss and the highs and lows were beginning to take a toll. So after she completed a 4-week computer coding program, a guidance counselor at Pôle Emploi suggested she apply for an intensive study in Lyon, and this is how Jackie found herself, last week, awaiting the second selection. (16 out of 50 applicants made the first cut.)

While waiting, Jackie found a room in Lyon and did as much as she could to prepare for a potentially imminent departure. Then came the call. She didn't make the second cut.... and then, as fate would have it, they called back...and she was in!

This rollercoaster of emotions came to a peaceful pause Tuesday night. After a quiet knock at the bedroom door, Mama Jules appeared waving a 50-euro billet. Jackie and I were curled up on the bed, spending precious time together before her next-day departure. 

"Buy yourself a nice plant! It will make you feel at home in your new place. And you might think of getting some of those little half-curtains..."

A good idea given Jackie's fenêtre overlooks a busy street. "They're called le brise-bise," I added. 

"Thank you, Grandma!" As Jackie hugged her grandmother, I thought about Jules' perfect timing and her abundant generosity (générosité abondante--is that an oxymoron or a pleonasm? Oh, who cares about WORDS at a time like this! Sometimes GESTURES mark the moment, and I really appreciated Jules's thoughtful housewarming gift for her petite-fille.)

This isn't the first time our Jackie has flown the nest. So why does it get harder each time? And yet it was my eyes that were dry when we parted. My 25-year-old's were full of larmes. "I love you so much I don't want to leave you!" cried our 4-time fledgling.

How to say "ditto" in French? The truth is, I love Jackie so much I don't ever want her to leave le nid familial, and surely that is not the best thing for her. For either of us. So I watched, dry-eyed as she flew off Wednesday afternoon (in fact, she took the train. And lucky for us, Lyon is only a 2-hr train ride from nearby Marseilles).

Back in Jules's studio, a two-second walk from our front door, I am comforted by our daily mère-fille moment. The air is scented with Mom's favorite, Shalimar, which brings me back to my childhood in the desert. Our tête-à-tête is presided over by Lili the Cat who arrived on the heels of Smokey's departure last summer.

Jules' hair fell in a silver braid over her left shoulder, and she wore her bonnet for extra warmth. The space heater rumbled in the background and with it came my first pang of sadness. (That rumbling blade reminded me of "brown noise"--something Jackie often talked about. Ever since living in Miami, with a loud ceiling fan in her room, she has grown to appreciate the benefits of le bruit brun and its ability to neutralize a noisy environment. We enjoyed many talks about the subject, and categorizing various sounds became a kind of game.) 

My mind drifted back from the space heater to Jules. As Mom brushed Lili with her own rat-tail comb I rattled on. "Jackie's gone from fashion design to bartending to web design. Is computer programming really for her?"

I don't remember Jules's exact words, only her wisdom: This is not about computers. It's about the people Jackie will come in contact with. It's about the next phase of a young woman's life.... 

L'École de La Vie
As I listened to Jules, a couple of doves alighted on her window sill. The feathered duo is none other than Mama and Papa, her beloved wild birds, les tourtereaux. How serendipitous. Jules was now able to illustrate her point, and she did so while gazing at the love birds: "Don't worry about Jackie or school or what will come of this. This is about continuing the cycle of life."

Jules set down her rat-tail comb and headed to the counter to use the electric mixer I gave her. She poured a half-cup of dry dog food inside (Smokey's croquettes, which are, dorénavant, sustenance for the doves). Oh, the cycle of life with its sadness and joy! Mom and I covered our ears as the machine pulverized the croquettes. I laughed, thinking this is definitely not brown noise (does "red noise" exist?). I hope Jackie will laugh too, when she reads this from her new digs. Bon courage, My Girl! You've got this! 

le logiciel = software
Pôle Emploi = the public employement service in France
le billet = bill, banknote
la petite-fille = granddaughter
la fenêtre = window
le brise-bise
= half curtain, café curtain
la larme
= tear
le nid familial = the family nest
mère-fille = mother-daughter
le tête-à-tête = conversation between two people
le bonnet = knit cap, wooly hat
le bruit brun
= brown noise
l'école de la vie = school of life
les tourtereaux = lovebirds
dorénavant = from now on
Tourterelles doves mama and papa
Mama and Papa, the two doves from today's story, alighting on a pile of pea gravel. We are finally topping up the old gravier in our yard, which may have been poured when this house was built in 1960. Your comments and corrections to this post are much appreciated. Merci d'avance!

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Well done Jackie! A bit of serendipity or fate, surely?! Enjoy your new city and your new learning opportunity and no doubt you will do well as you are full of talents!!! Who knows where they will all lead and how the dots of the various stages of your life will connect up one day....but no matter what, you are much loved and that's the important thing in life. Go Jackie, yay, you CAN and WILL do it!!! Bon courage!

andrew kleeger

Not to mention the fact that Lyon is an absolutely magnificent city! Please extend to Jackie my congratulations on her selection, as well as my recommendation that she get familiar with the area around the St. Paul catholic church and the train station.

James Brown

Lyon apparently is a tough town! I have now read twice the book DIRT by Bill Buford. An American writer searching for the secrets of the ‘French kitchen’! Lyon is the gastro-capital of the world and his tales of working in several kitchens and living in Lyon with his young family for several years is very interesting - if you want to know these things! The list of famous chefs and their inside stories, the working of a kitchen and the care in the preparation of classic French cuisine is beyond anything I ever imagined! Good luck Jackie - May you find a comfortable corner for your life there.

Sarah LaBelle

Possibly > or > for ditto ?

Pléonasm in French and pleonasm in English ?


Félicitations et bon courage à vous deux! Sounds like a great adventure and Lyons is really not too far for a visit, is it?


Hi Kristi,
Good luck to Jackie and she is not that far away so you can visit!
My daughter just took off for Thailand via Tokyo the other day and sent a photo of the cozy socks gave her for Christmas on her feet in her airplane seat!
Tell Jules thank you for her wisdom which I appreciate right now as Tara jets off to far away lands following her rock climbing dreams. It's hard not to worry though, isn't it?


Computer programming is a very good career to be involved with these days. You can't go wrong with this! Best wishes Jackie!


Thanks for the book suggestion. Downloaded to read on today’s flight!


Congratulations to the intrepid Jackie!
And such a beautiful story complete with Mama and Papa dove’s nourishment and Jules’ Divine wisdom, Kristi. I love how you connect the dots.

Historically, Lyon is where the British crown shopped for fine fabrics. The street and shop are still there. A magical place for fashion. Hmmm.


Kristin, I love this window into your lives. Many of us have a "character" with whom to identify, who peaks our interest. Of course, when you pull back the curtain and let us look in, you all become your readers' family. But, because I am of un certain âge, I feel a softness for, and a special interest in, Jules. Women still in the midst of mothering identify with you, Kristin. And young women, especially those who are experimenting with their "wings," surely identify with Jackie. (And so on, even with the men!) Yet, I feel sure that all your readers have a fondness for all les Espinasses and that's why we enjoy reading your blog. You have the ability to "paint" pictures of your loved ones and beyond with honesty and clarity. What a gift! Thank you for sharing with us all these years.

Cindy McD

Bon Chance Jackie ! We lived in Grenoble, near Lyon, which you would enjoy visiting. Lyon is marvelous ❤️ .. great food, history and beauty. Enjoy! Bisous pour chère Jules.

Kathi K

I think Jackie will absolutely love Lyon! It has an incredible vibe, and there are so many wonderful things to see, do and eat.

Bravo, Jackie...shine on!!

Debbie Glaser

Jules is my role model. I love her!


Oh, European Collared Doves!! We do see them here from time to time in the Spring.

I think Jackie is going through the Explorer phase of life. She'll find her place or maybe she'll be like me a bit of an explore her whole life.

Bonne chance, Jackie!!

Gwyneth Perrier

Wonderful - félicitations, Jackie ! I've been to Lyon more than I have to Paris and it's such a lovely place with incredible food. (We'll be living near there in a few months!) Much success to her and may you have some fun visits. ;-)


Bonne continuation, Jaquie! May the next steps be full of new discoveries about the world as well as yourself!


You are such a loving parent and grandparent. In today's crazy world it is very reassuring to read your posts. In my opinion, keeping families strong is a bedrock of human progress. Happy Thursday.


Best wishes for Jackie's success. She has an adventuresome and resilient spirit that will help her find place in the world for now and in the future. A loving family that supports her endeavors makes her transitions and explorations possible. Wishing you all well now and in the future.

Norma Plowman

At 25 Jackie has had life enriching experiences already! At least Lyon is so much closer that USA. My 35 yr old daughter in LA is still trying out different things, and I fret that she doesn't have a stable career. I will always worry! Good luck to Jackie. Keep the learning going!


Bonjour, Kristii et Bon chance, Jackie!
There is a fascinating silk museum in Lyon. It might be worthwhile to explore it together during one of your mother
and daughter reunions. Just a thought.

Karen Vigneron

Pour votre fille...notre niece a un petit resto a Lyon....


I'm with you and the other moms who commented about a daughter still working on what is really her thing. After studying hairdressing, my daughter has chosen to leave her apprenticeship and has gone back to working in childcare. The great part is that she seems so much happier--and that means she spends more time chatting with me--which I love. I think our hearts break for them when they run into the walls of circumstances or their own abilities or tolerances and have to figure out another direction to go even though this is so much a part of them finding their own way. Like a bird trapped inside the house--we long to to be able to direct them to the open door--but they truly do have to find it themselves. Those moments of a 50 euro note gift and the hugs along the way do help make it better!! And a loving home--always a safe place to land if things don't work out!

Laraine Lippe

Thank you for a beautiful blog. I loved what Jules said....wonderful, heartfelt wisdom! Bon courage, Jackie. As your mom said: "You got this!" And thank you, Kristi, for your beautiful sensitivity!

Inger Dickson

Bonne courage - tous les deux! Or maybe also: chacun de nous (certainly ive messed up the French in there)

I loved Lyon- and also have "Dirt" on my bookshelf!

Best wishes for a grand adventure! :)

Cate Salenger

Sweet and wonderful post. ♥️

Karla Ober

I'm not sure what a pleonasm is, but an oxymoron juxtaposes two things that are seemingly opposite. examples include “small crowd” (since “crowd connotes a large number of people) also, “Jumbo shrimp” Shrimp are known for being smalll; the word has come to mean “small” in slang usage.

Frances in Napa, USA

Congratulations Jackie! Enjoy every minute of your new adventure in life. I know how much you will miss her, Kristi. Thankfully, she is somewhat close via a 2 hours train ride, and I hear the food is delicious in Lyon. Many of us take winding paths in life as we find the metier or metiers that suit us the best. I love that the doves came just as you were talking. Thank you for sharing this lovely moment with us.


Interesting cultural/linguistic observation—in English, brown noise is called white noise 🤔. Fascinating.

Leslie NYC

So well-said, Susie!


This post shows how much we should value our elders who have wisdom gained from time and experience. Their wisdom is not the same as parental wisdom because they have lived just that bit longer! To have all three generations together is a true blessing since the excitement of youth keeps the elders young and each generation can learn from the other.
How eciting to be young and have so many new experiences ahead of you - Jackie, Je vous souhaite un plein succès dans vos entreprises futures!

Leslie NYC

The love running up and down the generations of your family is so moving. This post was particularly so.
And then Lili and the doves and Smokey's croquettes! Love wafting in and out of the windows and doors as well.
What strikes me about Jackie is how quickly she becomes excellent at what she tries. I remember the photo of when she worked at Baccarat and was honored with a gift for her work, & looking so chic. And the fashions she created.
Working in computers, even just to understand how modern life hums, seems like a great move. It will be a valuable piece(large or small) of the Life of Jackie.

Sarah LaBelle

Idem for ditto; the words did not appear when I put them between a try at French quote brackets.


Good luck Jackie! And such precious wise words from Jules… it so doesn’t matter what we do … it’s all just an adventure and who we meet along the way are the gifts from god/universe.

In fact if I was reading the signs through your letter with the love birds … perhaps Jackie will meet someone through her course… a love interest perhaps.

Life is a mystery! Wishing her blessings on her way.


One day later, I can totally agree with what James Brown said about this book. In a sense, it is a travel journal of a great time searching to learn French cooking. Having lived in France until recently, I've loved the parts on the interactions with French bureaucracy.

Jeanine Woods

Bon courage et bon aventure, Jackie!
Kristi, je comprend, c’est douce-amère. Mon fils a vécu en
France, en Suisse, et en Afrique et maintenant sur la cote est aux êtas unis (j’habite à la cote ouest). Il cherchait pour sa vie, et il est content maintenant. Je souhaite la même chose pour Jackie, qu’elle trouvera contentement et aussi aura une bonne aventure !

Alice Shupe

How well I know the joy and sorrow of letting children spread their wings and leave le nid familiale. Jules words are spot on! My children have been on their own for many years now, but still, nothing makes me happier when all the chicks (and grand chicks) are back in the nid, together for a time. Bon courage!

Jimm Hughey

Good for her and you. Life is full of adventure and surprises that mostly turn out joyful. She is in a sound field considering the advance of technology. Happy for all. Jimm


Your sharing has touched my heat and my memories. The very best to Jackie - I know she will do well, and you will have many fine times with each other when you visit each other! You are both so fortunate to have so much love and respect for each other!


That's awesome !
I'm moving to lyon too this month and I'm so exited !
Best of luck to all of you.


Bon courage, Jackie! I know you'll make the most of this new journey. :)

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