Avoir du Cran (To be brave in French) + Mom and I get in a little fight & end up at the circus
Fou rire? Éclat de rire? How to say deep belly laugh in French

Une Friandise: Chocolate Sundaes following Jules's visit to the Ophtalmo

Jackie dessert
I typed the word friandise into my Google photo album search box and voilà, a photo of my daughter and one of her all-time favorite sweets appeared: strawberries with chantilly cream. 

Jean-Marc’s PROVENCE WINE TOURS begin again in May! Cassis, Bandol, Châteauneuf-du-Pape—don’t miss our beloved winemaker’s favorite stomping grounds for grapes! Click here.


  : a sweet treat

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

In the salle d'attente at the eye clinic in Marseille, everyone is wearing shower caps. A male nurse breezes in, administers eye drops to a half-dozen patients, and disappears. A faint scent of iodine lurks in the air--evidence everyone has (hopefully) followed instructions to shower with Betadine the night before and day of the ocular intervention. So much scrubbing seems a bit drastic given patients remain fully clothed during the 10-minute procedure to treat a certain pathologie oculaire caused by macular degeneration. I wonder, did Mom remove her hat? I had a lot of questions, but having delegated Jules’s doctor's visit to my daughter, I would not know every detail of the intervention. But I did get as much info as possible, so on with our story...

Back at Clinique Chantecler, Jackie, also wearing a shower cap, is sitting beside her grand-mère. For the entire ride to Marseille, Jules sat quietly in the passenger seat, nervously filing her nails (hard as a rock from the potassium tablets the opthalmo prescribed for her eye tension). The male nurse reappears, asking all the patients to hand over the box with the aflibercept injection they were prescribed (to be stored at home in the refrigerator and brought to today's appointment). Not surprisingly, half the room has forgotten to bring the medicine. Did they leave the box beside the cheese and the cornichons... as we might have? No, too many precautions were taken here at home…in the form of numerous sticky notes strategically placed around our house, in addition to my phone alarm. While I did entrust my daughter with expediting Grandma to the clinic, I didn’t leave every detail to her. 

Jackie dug through her bag, where, beside her grandmother's medical folder, and her immigrant insurance card, she located the shot box. 
"Merci, Mademoiselle," the nurse smiled. Little did Jackie know she was earning brownie points for later, when her calm demeanor would earn her special hospital privileges. Turning her attention back to Grandma, who is feeling anxious about the upcoming needle in the eye, Jackie is reassuring: "Don't worry. I'm sure it will go quickly, Grandma. After, I’ll take you for ice cream!"

 The other patients, mostly senior citizens, seem intrigued by the two foreigners. One of them reaches out: "Votre grand-mère est anglaise?" Your grandmother is English?

"Non. Elle est américaine," Jackie answers. "Elle a un peu peur." With that, the other patients are quick to offer comforting words:

"Oh, c'est rien!" says the woman with the plastic shield over her eye. Another adjusts his surgical cap,  "Vous verrez, ça ne fait pas mal du tout." The woman with a bandage agrees: "je viens ici chaque mois." The youngest in the group, a businessman here during his lunch hour, smiles warmly, "C'est comme une lettre à la poste!"

Jackie translates each encouragement. "You see, Grandma. It'll be as easy as posting a letter!" But there was no time to explain the postal expression as Jules was soon summoned to the eye injection chamber (if words could paint Mom's imagination at this point.) 
"Mademoiselle, vous pouvez accompagner votre grandmère." Good news, the doctor just made an exception to the patients-only rule, letting Jackie assist her grandmother during the treatment.

(The next ten minutes were not so bad, Mom would later tell me. The hardest part was you had to watch the needle as it approached your eye...)

After the procedure, the foreigner and her petite-fille waved goodbye to the patients in the salle d'attente. At this point, Jackie might've patted herself on the back. But you know the saying: No good deed goes unpunished!  After helping Grandma back into the passenger seat, our Do-Gooder got locked out of the electric car! Now the challenge was for Jules, with one eye bandaged, to find the door handle. But even after the struggle to locate the poignée de porte, the punishment wasn't over. Our little Renault Zoe would not start. A few deep breaths later (and surely some bionic praying on Grandma’s part) Jackie solved the problem by removing the electronic key from its case and using it instead of the dashboard button.

The third strike came when Jules began to suffer a sudden mal de tête. Jackie, our quick-thinking ambulancière, wound the seat back as far as it would go, and soon Grandma fell asleep, only to wake when the two reached le péage in La Ciotat. Before Jules could remember her pain, Jackie reminded her of la friandise she'd promised.

Soon after, I received an update from McDonald's drive-through, "Here in 10," my daughter's text read. "The ice cream's on you, lol, I don't have the money."

I laughed, remembering Jackie had my Paypal debit card from when she did the grocery shopping earlier. I was so relieved the eye intervention was over that I couldn't have cared if the duo ordered sundaes for everyone in line--and knowing Mom she would!  Finally, my telephone chimed with a notification from Paypal that a charge for 7 euros just went through. Well, that was a good deal! After all, a medical cab would have cost many times the price, and it wouldn't have included a doting assistant or a visit to MacDo*! 

In retrospect, entrusting this special expedition to Jackie had been the right decision after all. Not only was it a needed lesson in delegation for me, but it was also an opportunity for grandmother and granddaughter to share meaningful time together. Jackie handled it all with professionalism, ensuring Grandma was in good hands throughout. And while I may not have indulged in a sundae myself, seeing the smiles on their faces was the sweetest reward of all.

Corrections and messages are welcome and appreciated. Please use this link


la friandise = a sweet treat
la salle d'attente
= waiting room
la chantilly
= whipped cream
Betadine = an antiseptic used before and after surgery
la pathologie oculaire = eye pathology
la grand-mère = grandmother
l'ophtalmo (l'ophtalmologue) = eye doctor
Vous verrez, ça ne fait pas mal du tout = you'll see, it doesn't hurt at all
la poignée de porte = door handle
le mal de tête = headache
l'ambulancier, ambulancière = ambulance driver
le péage = toll booth
MacDo = French slang for McDonald's

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Jules and Kristi painting
My precious Mom, in front of one of her paintings.

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‘’winded’ is of course ‘wound’ as in down or up not to be confused with ‘wound’ as in ‘wound’ a shot in the foot.


I hope no one takes offense, but I could not stop laughing at the sequence of events beginning when Jackie got locked out of the car. As for Jules’ remark that she had to watch while the needle approached her eye, well, that was horrifying and counts as another act of stoic bravery on her part! My compliments to Jackie for her kindness to her grandmother. She gets a big star for her act of mercy.

Cynthia Rowden

I have read this blog for years, and always enjoy your honest descriptions of family life in France. However, today you gave me a story that was so helpful for totally different reasons. I thank you for all the details of the medical procedure. My mom had macular degeneration and underwent the "needle in the eye" treatment that you described. However, she had dementia, and we only ever got the description of the appointment from my dad. To my sisters and me, it sounded barbaric, terrifying and horribly painful. I always felt terrible that my lovely mom had to undergo such torture. To hear it described as no big deal was a relief -it was really helpful to read that one of the many awful things she had to undergo as she aged might not have been as bad as we thought. Thanks. And good for you to delegate and how nice of your daughter to help out this way.


Hi Kristi,

Congratulations--you raised a kind, thoughtful, wonderful daughter!

Re the car not starting: I read a Wall St. Journal yesterday about electric car batteries and how many people are having trouble starting their cars with the button (and some don't have a key alternative). Turns out EVs have TWO batteries--the gigantic lithium ion battery that powers the engine and another, much smaller 9V (in the US) regular battery that runs all the electronics inside the passenger compartment, including the start button. This battery often wears down--some say, too fast. If the problem recurs, you might want to take the car to the shop. You may need a new battery. Some people have said they have had to replace theirs even though the car was pretty new. The batteries are just not that powerful, and there are a lot of electronics in EVs.

Good luck!

Ginny Bear

Just curious, when your daughter sent the note "Here in 10..." was that in English or French or a combination? Multilingual families each have their own way of using their languages!

Kathryn Hill

Thank you so much for the update on Jules.
Please tell her I send my love from Yelapa!


Well done ladies. Tenderness, compassion, courage and ice cream!!

Kristin Espinasse

McLaren, Thank you for the edit. I've updated the post & appreciate your help.
Joanne, I'm glad you laughed and found humor in the piece, which was my intention.
Cynthia, Thanks for sharing about your mom, and rest assured, it is a relatively painless procedure.
Teresa, I appreciate the info you shared about electric car batteries. I hope we don't need a new one!
Ginny, Jackie wrote in English, though we use too much Franglais around here, most times!
Kathryn, Mom will be happy to see your note. Hugs from here.
Nancy, Lovely summary of the article. Merci!


Our dear Kristi,
Once again your wonderful post has wrapped us in hugs--and smiles-- and! Needless even to say,admiration and appreciation for the loving bonds your beautiful family shares.
Special prayers for all of you,especially now for dear Jules and her courage to endure such a ghastly scenario as a needle in your eye!!( friandise afterwards or not,I'm certain my courage would fail me!)
( some encouraging and uplifting news: We have two dear friends who have undergone this same thing,and thankfully,have had most rewarding
Arms tight around you all.
Natalia. Xo


Great job, Jackie....

Sarah LaBelle

I think you might write a post about the word “chantilly”. In my long ago trip to France, it took a long time to understand that whipped cream in English was “chantilly” on French menus. I had about 6 years of studying French by the time of my one trip, and had not come across the story behind the word. A person in a restaurant explained it to me. I was fond of whipped cream on ice cream back then.

To me, back then, Chantilly was a place in Normandy, and a word in a pop song in the US, Chantilly lace and a pretty face …

MaryCatherine Levandovsky

What a lovely picture of your mom in front of her painting. You look so much like her! I enjoyed the story of her trip to the ophthalmologist and the kind and gentle help given her by Jackie. Blessings to both of them and to you.

Chris Allin

Dear Kristi,
Jules is so lovely, as is Jackie. And I have learned (shoulder shrug) that it really is okay to hand over to a thoughtful, capable daughter. Difficult as it might be at times it is a true testament to our motherhood.
Daughters, such as Jackie, are a very much a gift. As you are to your mom…

Ron Cann

I just realized that what I really enjoy about your blog(?) has very little to do with French , although that is why I thought it was the reason I’ve been reading it for years.
Your ability to share your emotional life is very special and makes me (and I suspect, all of us), feel connected to you, your family and your grand adventure in France.
Thank you!
And glad your mom is doing well!


Hi Kristi, As always, I loved your story.
Thank you and your family for sharing so much!!
God bless, C-Marie

Karen in Northport, NY

Relating well to both Jackie and Jules. I attended my Dad's med appointments to interpret through his serious hearing loss. When he answers questions you haven't asked, it's deafness not dementia. Really skeeved by the prospect of getting holes in my eyeballs to replace the lenses. But I was very, very relaxed by something in an IV. It's glorious being able to see again!! Thanks, K, for another friandise of a story this week.

Julie Farrar

This post and and the previous one are just the sweetest. Jules is so lucky to have such a doting granddaughter.


Comme jolie-
ta mère, toi et son tableau! Maintenant je sais d'où vient ta beauté.
Jackie est un ange de miséricorde!
Bisous, Babette

Jackie Crane

Another great article! Merci! And the photo of Jules is so beautiful!!!! You certainly look like your lovely mother! She is absolutely radiant!

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