"Roof Support" (c) Kristin Espinasse
Leaving France behind... in the following edition. Picture taken near Sablet and Gigondas (that's Mont Ventoux in the background); today's photo may as well be titled "How to Keep Your Roof on in the Windy Vaucluse". (Squint your eyes in time to see the rocks that are holding down the roof tuiles...)

une randonnée (ran doh nay)

    : walk, ride, outing, excursion

une randonnée à pied = hike
la randonnée = hiking
le randonneur, la randonneuse = hiker

Audio File:  Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce these French words Download MP3 or Wav

Le mois dernier, nous avons fait une longue randonnée dans le désert. Last month we had a long hike in the desert.

 Exercises in French PhonicsExercises in French Phonics bestseller on French pronunciation and how to pronouce French words correctly! (click here)


A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

Note to newsletter readers: the underlined words in the following text correspond to stories from the archive. Click on the words to read the passages.

Last month I visited family in Mexico and in Arizona and, in both countries, I had the chance to meet up with readers of this blog. The friends in Mexico taught me restaurant etiquette, or "How To Send Back an Order!"(simply complain: "These eggs are as cold as a dead man's butt!"). So far I haven't had the occasion to use the insult. Maybe you have?

Meantime, no dead butts in Arizona... where we busted ours for an early morning randonnée. The pressure was off from the get-go (the theme of the meet-up was The Horizontal Hike...)  and we walked slow enough to sip coffee as we strolled. I leave you with those photos...


One last cuppa before heading to the trail... from left to right: that's Herm, Naoma, Sharron (Herm's wife), Lynn, and Judy.   


From left to right: Rita, my sister Heidi, Karen, and Susan.


Judy, Ann, and Gaelle, whom I kept calling "Susan". Now I'm having doubts about "Ann", whose name I may be mistaking...


Chasing our shadows into the desert... In the lead, that's Gabriel, his sister Monet (left) and their mom Ronnie (behind Gabriel). C'est moi, to the right, in the beige pants.


These three to the right (Ronnie, Heidi, and Karen) were focusing in on the baby coyotes that barked or howled or yelped (???) excitedly up the hill.


This is Randy, who drove over from Cave Creek, AZ. I informed him of my short-lived waitressing job in Cave Creek (in a former life in the desert...). Randy had never heard of "The Desert Deli" and I began to wonder whether it was all a dream... one great mirage!


Stone Sculpture... Those Palo Verde branches are tickling the têtes of Ronnie, Monet, and Gabriel. Can you hear them giggling?


These two desert dwellers belong to Lynn (that's her husband, left) and Ronnie (that's her son, Gabriel, right)...

There's Lynn and her husband. And that's Ann (I think...), right. "Ann" didn't sign my guest book (or did she?). Now I'm having doubts...


There's You Know Who... and that's my sister, Heidi. Cute photo, non? I wished I had on what my sister had on (don't we always?) but my legs were "blanc comme un cachet d'aspirine" or white as a pill, so it was "no deal".


And this is Karen, left, who, along with Herm, made this French meet-up possible! Many thanks again to Herm and to Karen for everything. (And thanks, Karen, for the lovely scarf! It has that European elegance... yet there's a certain Aztec flair!)


This is Herm, whom you may know from the comments box. He occasionally shares a poem with us there. This time he shared one with me, here, as a souvenir of our Horizontal Hike. I had the chance to meet many of the "characters" in the following poem.  Herm writes:

Welcome to my space on the planet
in a secluded wash just off the trail
Join in with my friends... The critters,
singing birds and a few colorful quail

With Palo Verde trees on both sides,
It's a pleasantly cool and shady spot
Especially good in the midst of summer
when the dry winds blow un-Godly hot

Occasionally someone on their daily
hike will leave the trail to take a peek
At the rare saguaro cactus down in the
wash, a one of a kind, said to be unique

The excitement, the wonder in their eyes
and, oh, the surprised look on the face
they stand in awe... they can't believe
Siamese twins; bodies joined at the base.

--Poem by Herm Meyer

Le Coin Commentaires
Corrections, comments, and stories/poems of your own are welcome in the comments box. Tip: this is a good place to ask and answer each others questions on France and French life! Click here to leave a message.

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In film:  Paris Je T'aime & My Father's Glory

In the kitchen: Emile Henri Provençale Pie dish in azure blue! 

In the garden: I'm looking forward to planting sunflowers again this year. Why not plant some with me? Click here and choose a packet!

Az desert

Thank you, Herm, for sending in this photo. Herm writes:

Here's a photograph of a photographer photographing a photographer photographing a Stone Sculpture.....

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Delphinium or Lupine near Orange (c) Kristin Espinasse
Are there seasons in Heaven? A field of French flowers for a favorite Uncle.

Help spread the French word: if you enjoy these thrice-weekly visits to France, perhaps a friend would too? Please forward today's edition or share the blog. (Smokey would like to add: "for those who don't fancy French... then please tell an animal lover about my own column: "A Day in a Dog's Life". There's somethin' for everyone chez nous!)

tristesse (tree-stess) noun, feminine

    : sadness

A Day in a French Life...
by Kristin Espinasse

We need to keep this simple today. Simple as sadness.

For while love is sometimes a mystery...
can sadness be put in the same category?

No, sadness is simple... as love should be.

Sadness is frank. Sadness un-peels itself and off goes the coat, then the sweater, then the shirt... eventually bearing our hearts, our very hurts.

While our hearts hold on to Haiti, some people question the Pourquoi of it all: "Why would God do this?"

Adding to the tristesse is our own personal misery. My dear sweet Uncle Rusty (Jules's 66-year-old brother) passed away on Friday. Three months ago he was fine. Three weeks ago he learned he had cancer.

Along with others out there, I try to compose my thoughts about tragedy, calamity, and being taken "unawares" from this earthly "comedy". It has all happened so fast.

While others question the Pourquoi—and so slip into doubt and hopelessness, I am busy making a pact with my dear Uncle up above:

For as long as he looks down on me...
I promise to "smile up" and make him proud of what he sees.

We can choose to tangle ourselves in complexity (ever demanding Why? How could it be!) or we can get busy straightening out our arms, holding out our hands, helping others along, in love and simplicity.


Every comment is appreciated. Thank you.

Update (from my mom,  Jules):

Thank You all of my FRIENDS AT FWAD, Yes, I am still crying - your messages are helping my broken heart. Rusty was the shinning star of my life as a child, even until my 20's. I followed him around just like a little puppy, he was everything to me. Rusty was a mechanical man, when I received my first baby-doll stroller he dismanteled it in one day. He built me tree-huts and then moved on to building doon-buggies and jet-boats before they were even invented. When I was 10 and Rusty 13 a friend from California brought him the plans to build a skiff-type boat, that had a stand up bar which he held onto and a 35 hp. motor on the back. We spent all of our afternoons after school (me sitting in front of his stand-up bar with the controls mounted flying up and down the Colorado river chasing mud-hens. We looked like we were on a flying carpet-coffee table. In the evenings we would dance the jitterbug together. So many wonderful memories... XOXO JULES


French Vocabulary & Example Sentence: Download Wav  or  MP3

La tristesse ne manque pas de s'exprimer [sur Facebook]... "nous tenons tellement de choses pour acquises. Prions pour le peuple d'Haïti". There is no shortage of messages of sadness  [on Facebook]: "We take so much for granted. Pray for the people of Haiti". (FranceSoir: Séisme en Haïti)

pourquoi = why; la tristesse (f) = sadness



A Day in a Dog's Life...
by Smokey Dokey

Of all the members of our family... I am the one who most resembles our dashing Uncle Rusty. For one, we have the same color hair! Secondly, we have the same sweet hearts. Also, just as you, Dear Uncle, were a handy man, I fancy myself "handy mutt". More about those talents that I have inherited—from I know now who... in future episodes.

Love (and don't forget to forgive others, as we dogs do),


French Word-A-Day book For those of you who would like to order my latest book—and catch up on the word a day summer archives, click here.

Kindle Wireless Reading Device

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English Grammar for Students of French: The Study Guide for Those Learning French

Clean Provence. Eau De Parfum Spray

Sweatshirt "Provence-Alpes-Cote D'azur" Sweatshirt

Sea Salt by La Baleine -- a classic on every French table

crepe maker  Crepe Maker -- don't forget to buy some Nutella to top off these crepes! Nutella




French Word-A-Day in the news, er, "in the blogs":

A Taste of Garlic "Kristin Espinasse Interview" by Keith Eckstein

Blurb Blog: "From Blog to Book to Sales" by Eileen Hansen

Ann Mah's Dreaming of a French Life

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to help keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ $10    
♥ $25    
♥ Or click here to send the amount of your choice

You can also support this journal by purchasing our book-in-progress, click here.