Indice: Jackie's Airport Layover + A “flighty” Hint or Clue Regarding Something I’m Up To
Avoir du Cran (To be brave in French) + Mom and I get in a little fight & end up at the circus

Canular: How To Say Practical Joke in French? + Jackie & I have fun at Max's expense...

Paquerette flowers outside Chateau Lumiere
Merci for your encouraging notes following last week's update regarding subscribership. Your words revive me! Today's mischief takes place in La Ciotat (photo snapped outside Le Palais Lumière where a patch of daisies looks as innocent as a team of pranksters in hiding. Read on.) 


    : practical joke, prank, hoax

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Getting cozy on the couch with a cup of tea and our shepherd Ricci, I watched my daughter prepare to leave for her brother's pour rendre un service.

Grabbing the car keys Jackie turned to me, "Mom, why don't you come along to Max's? We can walk Ana's dog while she’s away.” 
Visions of climbing 4 flights of stairs to my son's condo (to lead a scent-obsessed Beagle on a kilometer-long promenade) had me sinking back into the sofa. "J'ai la flemme," I admitted.

"Energy comes in moving!" Jackie countered.

Don't you love it when young people share their wisdom? Jackie is right. I needed to shake up my afternoon routine. Some salty fresh air and, though I didn't know it yet, a little mischievous behavior, would be vivifiant for body, mind, and soul, and who could have guessed the positive effect would ripple out and tickle somebody else in the process.... 

If my daughter managed to rouse me, the drive to her brother's fired up every nerve ending in my being as I gripped the handle above the passenger door. "Jackie, slow down! Don't follow so close to the other cars! DID YOU SEE THE PEDESTRIAN???"

Speaking of pedestrian, between beginning today's story and procrastinating its development, I came across the word "pedestrian" and was amused by its various meanings:

1) lacking wit or imagination
2) walking

Isn't it interesting how the very act of walking stirs creative intelligence? Perhaps this explains how, after marching from the car to Max's condominium and up 4 flights of stairs, a creative urge came over me. The urge to play a practical joke on my son. Normally void of ideas for these kinds of bêtises, my mind was now reeling with ideas.

A look around Max’s home revealed he’s been struggling to keep up with le ménage ever since he began his new job two months ago. On top of domestic challenges, he's been exhausted from keeping on top of a new job. A little prank might perk him up.

"Jackie!" I giggled. "Do you know what a practical joke is?"


"I'll show you... Let's turn everything in Max's fridge upside down! Here..." I said, opening the door, “Start with the condiments..." While Jackie upended the ketchup, mayo, and pickles, I grabbed a bowl. "Let's put the jar of cornichons here in case it leaks. We just want to have fun--not flood his apartment," I said, bummed that we couldn’t turn over the bottles of beer because of their narrow tops.

As Jackie turned her attention to the shelves, putting everything the wrong way up, I carefully flipped the bowl of onions, peppers, and herbs on the counter, and then made my way over to the spices. Les épices were lined up neatly at the back of la table de cuisson, but not for long...

After we'd somersaulted everything in the frigo and around the stove, I headed to Max’s room when Jackie suggested we stop here. Elle avait raison. We'd made our mischievous mark, besides, there'd be more occasions in which to mess with Max. Especially after he retaliated--no doubt he would!

With a pat on the back we left Izzy the Beagle, swearing her to secrecy: Chut! Ne dis rien! "Now Izzy, don't tell Max what you saw!" With that, we returned home for dinner.... and waited for a call from Max, eager to know his reaction. 

Finally, when the call came, our victim didn't mention anything amiss.

"Where are you?" Jackie quizzed.

"I'm in the basement, organizing some things."
"Oh, anything else new?"
"No," Max replied with a yawn. Jackie and I were feeling let down until an afterthought from Max stirred us again:  "By the way, did you turn over that bowl on my countertop?"

"No..." Jackie responded. Giving me a thumbs up as she spoke into the receiver. "I don't know what you are talking about."

"Bon," Max said, sounding bored. "I've gotta finish up here. Talk to you later." We were sure we'd get a call back, but the night wore on, and not a word from Max.

Meantime, I began to doubt our farce. Was it not clever? But then, a brilliant practical joke isn't about cleverness--its appeal lies in timing. Was this bad timing?

The next day I nearly bypassed the morning prayer to open text messages first thing. The little devil in me was desperate to know if Max had discovered the full extent of our friendly trespass. Surely by now he would have seen the contents of his frigo mis à l'envers.

Still no word from him, I tried to be coy with my message. "Hey, Son. Do you know the term "topsy turvy?"

(No response.)

"Things feeling a little upside down over there?" I persisted.

Finally, my phone chimed! "I saw your joke" the text read. My son's deadpan response killed it -- that wonderful creative buzz born of a pedestrian effort.
"But Max," I despaired, "didn't you think it was funny?" 



"He's just tired," Jackie remarked when I couldn't let go--until finally I did.

I let go of the fish. In French un poisson is synonymous with "practical joke" or farce. But it may as well be synonymous with "the outcome of things".  It reminds me of the would-be thrill and adventure of writing: the reward, it turns out, lies not in the untouchable outcome but in the golden nuggets we gather along the way. This story (and the fun and games behind it) was born of one child's wisdom and the other’s wisecrackery. Indeed, the old Max will be back. Once he gets the hang of his new job, he'll be back at our home, setting all kinds of traps for the family. After all, we learned these pranks from him—even more, Max has shown us time and again how les badinages and plaisanteries are a good way not to take ourselves too seriously.

Meantime, let the outcome be the uncontrollable outcome. Continue to work, love, learn, and especially to have fun. See you next week, dear reader, for another story about whatever the universe conjures up.


Typical of Max to shake up his professional presentation...with something unexpected! (That's the cereal he and his sister used to eat when they were little). 
You might say our son has been in the wine business ages before we had our two vineyards: At the age of 10, Max rode his bike to town to buy a bottle of wine as a gift for his dad. After consulting with the storekeeper in our little French village, the boy rode home with a Côtes du Rhône!


Click here for Jean-Marc’s vocabulary soundfile in French & English

un canular = practical joke
j'ai la flemme = I'm feeling lazy
debout et en avant! = up and at 'em!
une bêtise = mischief, tomfoolery
cornichons = pickles
le ménage = housework
les épices
 =  spices
la table de cuisson = stovetop
le frigo = fridge
elle avait raison = she was right
Chut! Ne dis rien! = hush, don’t say a word!
mis à l'envers = put upside down
un poisson = fish
le badinage
= banter
la plaisanterie = joke
une farce = practical joke
une rousse
= a redhead (see photo at the end of this post)

Jackie walking Izzy
Jackie walking Izzy the pocket Beagle on the beach

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Ana and Jackie
In today's story, I mention "rendre un service" (return a favor). After Max's girlfriend Ana dyed Jackie's hair, Jackie offered to walk Ana's dogs, who sometimes stay at Max's. How's that for bartering services? 
Jackie hair color
Looks great, Ana! After blond, brunette…we’ll see how long Jackie remains une rousse.

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Suzanne Dunaway

You two devils are just adorable. Humor is the best cure for just about ANYTHING!!!


kristi, thank you for this wonderful viewpoint, and fun story about life... your positive attitude is just what i needed right now! also, thank you for teaching me the definition of "pedestrian".. i will keep that in my back pocket.

Beth Fiacco

Oh, I love the fun in your story today! Just two nights ago, my husband was downstairs shutting down the house for the night. He told Alexa to turn off the lights. Sometimes, he doesn't say her name first, and then nothing happens. I was upstairs and could hear him struggling with how to get Alexa to respond and thought I would have some fun with him. After two commands and beginning to get frustrated, he finally remembered to say Alexa's name first, and then the lights went out. I had my phone in my hand and with the Alexa app, turned the lights back on. He was halfway up the stairs and stopped, went back down and started the wrong commands all over again. I kept turning the light on and off, and he had no idea what was happening! I could only imagine his face as he tried to "fix" Alexa. He finally went to the light on the table and turned the switch off! When he came upstairs, I burst into laughter and told him what I had been doing. We both laughed so hard our stomach's hurt! Laughter is good medicine!


Thank you for continuing with your writing. I loved your practical joke story. And you have gotten me more than once with your April Fool’s Day stories. Can’t ever have too much fun, humor and smiles! (Jackie looks great as a redhead. I’m one too )

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Beth, I loved reading about your playful prank on your husband. Laughter is indeed the best! 

Chris Allin

Dear Kristi,
That you even thought of doing this to Max shows you definitely have a creative and playful mind! Max’s reaction amused me. Not react on purpose…a sort of revenge prank? Kind of takes the wind out of the sails of the original prankster.

It took me a long time to learn that lesson. I grew up with a prankster dad who liked to balance a bucket of water over a half open door and short sheet my bed at night. The more I reacted, the greater his glee.

I can now imagine Max contemplating what to do next. Whatever it is it will probably be filled with the humor and love your family so often demonstrates. Such a fun and delightful story brings a bucketful of sunshine to this reader. 💛


Disappointed Max wasn’t more enthusiastic about your attempt to make him smile & see the fun side of life. Love your daughters’s barter. Stress red is lovely on her.


The red!


Thank you for your continued sharing of French life and your beautiful family. Love the practical joke! What a beautiful day for a walk you had - the blue sky was wonderful. Happy Weekend.Nancy

Stacy Lund

This was a fun adventure and was just the message that I needed to hear today! xoxo!

Kristin Espinasse

Aw, thanks, Chris ! I love that your dad played practical jokes. I can picture how your reaction cheered him!


Our dear Kristi,
Once again(and as always!) your wonderful post today wrapped us in hugs--and,especially!--in smiles!
First of all!Thank you for including us in your lives,and in all of your wonderful( and fun!)
escapades.We really feel like all of you are indeed a treasured part of our family.
What a blessing and a gift!
Arms tight around you.
Natalia xo

Kristin Espinasse

Thinking of you, Stacy. 💕

Frances, Napa, CA USA

What fun that must have been! Max will laugh some day when he does something silly to you.

I love the new email format! It is wonderful to be able to read the whole email like that.

Thank you!

Sheryl Wells

I loved your post and photos of your family reunion! I always exclaim how good looking you all are.
Your trick on Max was very funny! One day, when he is more rested, he will get back at you!
I love your posts. Keep them coming! I would be sad not to receive them.

In the meantime Arizona is having amazing weather. One day very warm. One day much cooler and windy. North Arizona has tons of snow.

I am jealous of your new puppy. We haven't replaced Mulligan yet, but he is in our hearts all the time.


Chère Kristi, I am continually amazed at your melange of French and English in your stories- how well it works.

Your posts always brighten my day as I try to reover from illness. I can't express how much I enjoy your snippets of family life and the truisims they embody.
Your emal brings me cheer and laughter. I cannot imagine life without your weekly insights- please contine.
Calins et bisous,Barbara

Kristin Espinasse

Hello Babette, 
Here is to your recovery. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers, and I am touched by your note which also keeps me going. Take good care, and thank you for reaching out. Xoxo
Câlins et bisous. 


Max's very cool head would have me worrying about his return practical joke. I have a feeling that
you will likely lose a couple of days on the sofa once Max decides to strike back. I shudder to think of what's in store for you and Jackie!


Glad for your joke and Max's (lack of) response: I also enjoy your April 1st stories.
But to put another spin on it, I am someone who personally does not care for practical jokes nor surprises. There are probably more of us than you think. We are a group whose childhoods were troubled by everyday uncertainty about what was going on at home: arguments we didn't understand (often fueled by alcohol abuse), unpaid bills, sheer unpredictability about what to expect next, what "surprise" we were in for when we got home from school or our part-time jobs, jobs we took, since we knew we had to be self-sufficient as soon as possible.
So, surprises, jokes at someone else's expenses: no thanks. It's amazing how years later, the pain is gone, but the memory of the upset at "surprises" is still there.

Beth W

Dear Kristi,
I've been reading, enjoying, and learning from your blog pretty much from the start, since your kids (and mine) were really little; never realized I should actively subscribe but I've signed up now!!
Mille mercis pour tous,
Beth in Boston

Jerry Wood

Although I have been reading your wonderful posts for more years than I can recall I have seldom posted a comment. Since you wrote about so many unsubscribing I feel it’s time I wrote to tell you how much I like to read your honest post about your life and wonderful family in a country that I have always loved.
I have been to France so many time and miss it, however as I’m 89 now I think my traveling days are over. Please don’t get discouraged by a few unsubscribers. Jerry

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