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Wednesday, June 21, 2006


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No edits; a really nice story, and well-written to boot (to boude?)!


I suggest changing "or" to "nor" in "nothing more fancy nor exciting"...(neither, nor; either, or)
I love this story!

Karen Whitcome  (Towson, Md)

I really enjoyed this story, Kristin. I'd love to hear about Germaine's life too. Is there a book there?

One tiny part stopped me in my "flow of reading" tracks. When I read, if anything trips me up I feel compelled to stop reading and ponder. Some call that "active reading" but other times I just want to read the story as the author intended instead of drifting onto another path of thought. Anyway, it was the, presumably unintended, generalization that "the French serve their food with heads and tails intact". I know they do but for some reason I envisioned ordering a beef filet and getting the entire cow, or veal and getting..... oh mercy - do you see what I mean? It's probably just me and my attention deficit.


Wonderful image: "Her husband went seaside to cast out horrific battle images along with his fishing line." On our recent trip, we met a cousin of mine in Lorraine whose husband had been conscripted to fight in the German army at the Russian front during WWII. He was one of the very few who came home alive, a changed man forever.

So which did you chose: un (tres salty) jambon beurre ou un pan-bagnat?


Absolutely LOVE this one... the imagery is fantastic and it completely left me wanting more!

Donna Grieder

I will never forget the word bouder now because of the connection to boudoir. It makes perfect sense, doesn't it? I wish a wise 'mamie' had given me that advice more than 30 years go! I do have a daughter and some future daughters-in-law to share it with.

Bill in St. Paul

Great story. The only change I saw was the one Marie-Louise mentioned.

When we were in Vaison la Romaine last year the "streets" in the old/upper town were VERY narrow and I, too, wondered how trucks got through, until I noticed that most of the exhaust vents sticking out from the side of buildings were either crushed or knocked to one side. The trucks get through but not always without "widening" the "street".

Rebecca Q.T.-- usually in Baltimore but currently in Madrid! Olé!

Dear Kristin,

This story is a jewel. I can tell you really took the time to develop it and to think it through. The way you laced together two completely separate stories and united them nicely at the end is masterful. This is one of your best.

I do have a few suggestions for minor problems.

1) In this sentence: "And why had Jean-Marc’s grandmother selected this bit of counsel, above the rest?" ... wouldn't it be better to ditch the comma? 'Above the rest' needs no separation from 'this bit of counsel.' It makes it choppy.

2) "No sooner had I recovered from the fact that the French serve their food with its heads and tails intact, than I witnessed this unforgettable eye-popping scene!" This sentence seems a bit awkward to me. I don't think you're supposed to separate the 'than' from 'No sooner'. So you can fix it one of two ways: A) "No sooner than I had recovered from the fact that the French serve their food with its heads and tails intact, I witnessed this unforgettable eye-popping scene!" OR B) "I had just recovered from [or better "come to terms with"] the fact...intact, when I witnessed this...scene!"

3) Last suggestion for this sentence, the end of which I find awkward: "Apart from Germaine’s advice not to sulk, she taught me where all those forks, knives, and cuillères belong on the French table, at once thoughtful about her bourgeois upbringing, and méprisante of it." Would it not be less confusing and more concise to say "at once thoughtful and yet méprisante of her bourgeois upbringing."

Anyway, hope the comments are helpful, glad to be getting stories to edit again!



I love it, as I love all your writings; they transport me instantly and vicariously to "la belle France" for tiny visits every week. Merci beaucoup et continuez!

Marilynn Gottlieb

Very nicely written and enjoyable story. I have a few suggestions.
You have the three asterisks before the Germaine story - I think you should also have them after the story to show we are back in the present.
Maybe I'm the only one who mis-visualized, but I didn't realize you had gotten in the car to go along. "opening the car door for me" should be obvious, but I guess I imagined it was so you could help load. Maybe add hopping into the car??
So why would Jean-Marc not know the word boudoir? Is it one of those words that, although from the French, it was adapted in noun form by the English to mean "bedroom"?
Perfect story for your book, I can now remember the word bouder, and there was a lovely story about generations and marriage.

Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR

Bonjour Kristin,

J'adore this story. I want to know more about Germaine --- she sounds very interesting and brave. Great sage advice about life & marriage! I love your stories --- keep on writing especially about the "older" stuff!

Stay well!


Another lovely story. I especially appreciated this as a reminder not to "bouder," since I have done this all too often! You're so wise to take Germaine's advice!

Some very minor edits, which, of course, are your choice to take or leave:

1) The comma after the closing quotation mark in '"bouder",' should be enclosed in the quotation marks rather than outside them. As an alternative, you could just put "bouder" in italics as you have the other French words and leave out the quotation marks. That might be more consistent.
2) Same movement (to inside the quotation marks) for the period after ' "to pout".'
3) Same for '"a place in which to sulk".'
4) In referring to "10 minutes," you might want to make both instances the same (either "10" or "ten").
5) This is really too picky, but you could delete the quotation marks in "faire la tête," also, since you've italicized the phrase.

Regarding several other edits, I think the "heads/tails" wording is fine as you wrote it. I also prefer your sentence starting with "No sooner had I..." than either of the proposed rewritten versions. In fact, I think the suggested version A is awkward (no offense intended, Rebecca!). I also prefer your original version of "at once thoughtful about her bourgeois upbringing, and méprisante of it."

Thanks again for the lovely essay/lesson!

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you all very much for these edits. I am glad I have taken the time to incorporate them, as the follow up comments have been so helpful! Ill have another look at the corrections and suggestions and make changes little by little. Wishing every one a relaxing weekend! (Max is having a huge party Saturday night... so it may not be so quiet around here!)


Hi dear Kristin,
This story is absolutely wonderful!
Not only have you touched the hearts of (us once upon-a-time)newlyweds (many of whom by now are the grand meres),but you transported us back to the hardships dear Germaine endured to feed her family--make us so very grateful for her advice,and all the blessings we now have in our lives.
WONDERFUL and perfect as is. THANK YOU!!!
Love, Natalia XO

Diane Young

Great story - wouldn't change a thing. The advice from Grandmere is spot on!

Christine Dashper

I love this story Kristin. No edits here. :)

Jan in Monument, Colorado

I love the story and the writing! How about "the French serve their seafood" instead of "the French serve their food" so one doesn't experience the visual mentioned by Karen! I'll try to keep the "ne boude pas" advice in mind and pass it along freely.


more fancy => fancier; fancier and more exciting
"not me" => not I (if you want to be rigorous ;-)

What a good story! Loved the connection between the two peddlers at the end.

Judi Boeye Miller, Lake Balboa, CA

Another great story! Sometimes I wonder if you're telling my life story or yours - so many of your 'vignettes' could be mine as well! When I'm hurt or angry, a 'bouder' seems to grasp a hold of me, je fais la tete, but then when I realize it and decide to not sulk any longer, I really feel my heart open up and I'm so much happier! (and so is my husband! :-) Fortunately, my 'sulky' self is more a thing of the past, but I can still very much remember and relate to your story.

Is there a noun for 'bouder' other than boudoir?

I know you identified 'faire la tete' as 'be in the sulks' within your story, so maybe you don't need to put in your vocab list?? - but, it's new to me - and seems like a great phrase to learn!

Hope Max' party is a great success - and you survive!!

Susan Carter in Westminster, CA (for Kip)

Really love this story and have only one small edit. In the 4th paragraph, after Estafette & the parenthetical part, I would add "as there were 6 mouths to feed" instead of making the short sentence with only that information.

Kristin Espinasse

Jan, thanks for *seafood*--this solves the problem!

Judi, good idea. Ive added the expression to the list

Susan, that sentence bothered me, too. Your suggested really smoothed it out. Thanks!

And thank you to each of you for your comments and suggestions. It is all so helpful! 

Amanda Frost

Here's a list of tiny corrections:
-After "...Belle Epoque architecture" use only 3 dots for a suspended thought.
-After "...going out today..." add a comma (...,)
-Capitalize the N in "Ne boude pas."
-Close up the space after dots between "insufferable... something"
-No comma after "upbringing"
-Put close quotation marks outside a period: "to pout." "to sulk."
-Delete comma after "place" in "I return to my sulking place and continue..."
-Let "Comment" stand alone; i.e., delete "What's that" (which by the way is missing quotation marks.

Hope these are helpful. AMANDA

Cynthia Lewis in Salisbury, Eastern Shore of Maryland

Are there women like Germaine today? I think not. Maybe Jean-Marc or other family members have recollections/stories about her which you could weave into another of your stories. Wonderful, wonderful "story telling"! I especially liked your reaction to the devouring of the fish's eyes. Come to think of it, what seafood other than a fish would have eyes large enough to eat? "Talk" like this could take your appetite. Mille mercis, Cynthia


Non, je n'ai pas boudé pendant des semaines. J'étais en voyage et j'ai loupé tant d'épisodes.
Lovely story, comme toujours, chère Kristin. I just keep reading and reading, jusqu'à la fin. Germaine made me think of my Chinese sister-in-law who would scoop out the fish's eyes and s'en délecter. She says that's the best part!!!
Boudoir has nothing to do with bouder, c'est un petit salon for elegant women in the old days. And in answer to Judi Boeye Miller, Lake Balboa, CA, noun for le verbe bouder is "bouderie", nom féminin.


Chėre Kristin: Je te souhaite du bonheur, non seulement pour ce beau jour, mais pour tous ceux à venir.
Bonne fête des Mėres!


I`m a bit late reading this blog but it is sooo SWEET! Thanks so much for sharing it!
Annel <3

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