Boulangerie (c) Kristin Espinasse
A bakery in the town of Camaret sur Aigues, in the heart of Provence.

fille (fee) noun, feminine
 : daughter

Telle mère, telle fille.

Like mother, like daughter.


Audio File:

Listen to the French word "fille" and the above quote: Download mp3 . Download wav

A Day in a French Life...

by Kristin Espinasse

            (We Three: my daughter, my mom, and I)

At ten-years-old:
I liked motorcycles and baseball.
My daughter likes mascara and karaoke.

We both loved swimming...

I liked to wake up at the crack of dawn.
She loves to sleep in late.

I loved frogs.
She likes ladybugs.

I was round.
She's a stick.

I ate tacos.
She eats tapenade.

When I lied, my face turned crimson.
When she lies, hers turns convincing.

I collected desert wildflowers and gave them to the neighbors.
Jackie fancies bamboo, has a carnivorous plant, and is giving in other ways.

I was once called a bible beater and went and hid.
She got called "Blond!" once and was livid.

My daughter speaks in French and in English.
I spoke in English and in Tongues.

She has a godmother and a godfather.
I had a mafia of angels.

Jackie's great-grandmother and her grandmother were Catholic and Atheist, respectively. Mine were Mormon and Jack Mormon, respectively.

Jackie's table trick is to eat the eyes right out of the fish on her plate. She
learned this from her great-grandmother, a French woman who survived WWII. My trick was a disappearing act involving any food placed in front of me (except fish eyes). I learned this from my American grandmother, an excellent cook, who smoked her morning cigarette in the trailer's "salon" and called everyone "Hon".

Jackie's mom has healthcare and a mutual.
My own mom had a mutual agreement with my sister and me: what you say is what you get and whatever you say Don't Say You're Sick!

I really, really wanted a live-in dad.
Jackie really, really wants a horse; she already has a Father Hen.

When my mom got mad at a man, she moved on, took her kids with her.
When Jackie's mom gets mad at her man, she throws (virtual) plates, then meditates.

Jackie's mom is over-serious, over-sensitive, and over-anxious.
My own mom was over-generous and, sometimes, over-the-top.

Mom let me dig up the back yard once. "What the hell, let her make a pool."
Jackie's mom is a control freak, doesn't cuss.

I had a sister who was prettier than I.
Jackie looks like her.

At my daughter's age, I once started a fire in the field behind our trailer park, almost making homeless our neighbors, mostly retirees. I admitted this to Jackie (on confiscating a lighter!), who wanted to know whether I ever told my parents. (Mom, Dad: are you reading?)

I had a crush on Doug Pearson from kindergarten through eighth grade. He had dimples, or fossettes, and did a mean impression of Gene Simmons: fake blood, black eye-liner, and all.
Jackie's heart is faithful to horses: four-legged rock-stars each and every one.

I automatically pledged allegiance to the flag.
My daughter questions whether Sarkozy will keep his promises.

Jackie and her mom wear the same shoe size: 7.5
My own mom is one size smaller, though she is larger than life.

I was a real softie, though my daughter is really not so tough as she thinks she is. (Perhaps we are not so different after all?) And, every once in a while, I catch myself following in my mom's leopard-patterned, untamed tracks. Secretly, it comes as a relief: to free-up the over-serious, under-the-countertop, once carefree fille.*

                                               *    *     *
Note: this story was written over a year ago, when my daughter was ten. She turned twelve today. As for Jules, you'll have to ask her her age. Birthday wishes are welcome in the comments box. Merci beaucoup!

Waterpark Lorgues 015

My mom, Jules, in 2003 (after her first mastectomy!). That's Jackie on the left.

Puppies and Harvesters

DSC_0023Jacqui, Kristin, Pamela and the pups.

Note: there are now three "Jackies" here at our farm: my daughter, American Jacqui (pictured here) and Scottish Jackie.

Salut from Sainte Cécile, where the sky is pouring down rain and our harvesters are braving the muddy grape bog below. The heavens are howling; between grumbles, the sky spits fire helter skelter across the Provençal paysage.

I am waiting for the soaked soldiers to return, waiting with a pile of towels, hot coffee and Nutella...


Update: (one hour later...) the harvest continues beneath the still streaming sky. I hear howling in the distance, only, this time, it isn't coming from the heavens....

"Boot camp!" that's what Mom used to call harvest time. The harvesters might call it GRAPE CAMP!

The following edition is in honor of my Mom's and my daughter's birthday (September 23rd and 18th, respectively). Joyeux Anniversaire Jules and Jackie! Je vous aime.


French Wooden Alphabet Blocks for kids. Makes a great baby gift.

Urban Crayon Paris: The City Guide for Parents with Children

My French Coach by Nintendo. Playing My French Coach for 15 to 20 minutes a day is all you need to become fluent in French, no matter your age. The simple touch screen interface lets you spend less time learning the game and more time learning French.

Streetwise Paris Laminated City Center Street Map

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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Bill in St. Paul

Happy Birthdays to Jules and Jackie!! (Jules, was Kristen's portrayal of herself accurate?? We don't want any poetic "drift" in here. LOL!)

I can't imagine picking the grapes in a howling storm - it was bad enough when I did it for only half a day in bright sunshine.

Great prose, Kristen! What a way to get to know somebody by having them compare themselves to another loved one (but I still want to know if Jules agrees with your assessments).

Erin Pooley

I really liked your story Kristy!
Also, Happy birthday to Jules and Jackie! I remember Jackie's birthday last year!


Hi Bill: great question about the accuracy of my self-portait. I'll be interested to see what Mama Jules says!

Erin: Merci! We miss you and Ross at this year's harvest!


Bon Anniversaire Jackie et Jules. Jackie I am also a Virgo...the 14th. I hope you have a beautiful cakelicious day today.


I loved the story too..Happy Birthdays!

I am sure your sister is pretty:) But prettier?

Can't be:)Different maybe..

It is amazing how different our daughters can be.. and if you have two..or three then again~


Joyeux Anniversaire Jules and Jackie. And Joyeux Anniversaire to you also, Kristin, as you brought Jackie into our world - a gift that I hope you will both rejoice in you forever.

I absolutely LOVED todays post. When my daughter was about 12 she began to push me away - or at least I looked at it that way. I cried at what I thought was a loss of relationship but it was just her strength of independence that was blossoming through and after a few more years of that "yin.yang" relationship with my daughter, I've come to admire our differences. As a consequence, I've celebrated the differences between MY mother and myself. I find that the similarities of spirit tends to skip a generation. Maybe it's reactionary? But it sure brings things full circle and I love that, don't you?

Happy Day!! (as my now 16 year old daughter used to say)


I loved reading today's post! Thank you for sharing so much of you with us!

Joyeux anniversare, Jules et Jackie!!

Linda R.

Joyeux Anniversaire, Jules et Jackie.

Our family tree is filled with September birthdays - the latest: Ila & Oskar turned 1 year old yesterday and their cousin Oliver Badger will turn 1 September 30. And in the meantime there are three 'older' celebrants today. Family - what a joy! I loved your "mother*daughter*grandmother reflections", Kristin - wonderful.

Diane Scott

Oh, Kristin, this one brought tears to my eyes when you first published it and double so today (I have become considerably more sentimental -- maudlin??? -- as I enter "that" time of life)! How beautiful you are inside and out, especially on those days like the present when you must be feeling completely turned "inside-out"!


Elizabeth Jones

Happpy Birthday Jules and Jackie! What a lucky daughter to get such a wonderful poem written about her and her mom and grandmom--something to save forever. I like the sound of all three of you, albeit different!
Vive la difference!


Great comparison! Loved the post. Happy birthday to Jules and Jackie!


Happy Birthday to both Jackie and Jules - from Martha (& Charles, even though he's there and can tell Jackie himself).

Judith L. Roth

Very evocative comparison, Kristin. Happy birthday, Jackie and Jules!

Annette Gorneau

Oh, no! My birthday is the same as Jules! And, my daughters thought I was a combination of Lucy Arnez and a 60's Hippie! However, I have been married to the same man for 44 years; always a practicing Catholic; owned my own businesses for more than 30 years; car-pooled, took them to gymnastics, dance classes and soccer practice, etc. In their case, it was a matter of perspective. In yours, well, I am so happy for you that you have what you always wanted: a house, a live-in dad, a stable family life. That life does come with it's own complications, doesn't it? But, it sure beats your younger years.

Debbie Turner Chavers

Happy,Happy Birthday! Jules and Jackie:)
I hope each of your special days are joyful.


Happy birthday to Jackie and Jules! Your Mom/Daughter is very blessed to have you in her life.

Sandy Maberly

Jackie, I hope you have a wonderful 12th birthday. Look back on these days with happiness and collect as many memories as you can. One day your own children will ask you what it was like when you were a girl.

Jules, rejoice in an early celebration and then do it all over again on the 23rd! Better yet, make it a party week and then tell us all about it!

Kristi, thanks for sharing such an intimate part of your lives. The little details of life reveal so much more than any grand achievement could ever do.

Sheila Bosworth Lemann

I love reading the family stories, but in many of the recent postings I very much miss the generous sprinkling of words in French that helped me to learn the language as spoken by a real French family. Today's posting contained only 2 words in French, "fossettes" and "fille". I would love to see a return to the very instructive and enjoyable previous format of a story set in France that utilizes French vocabulary. Merci mille fois!

Marianne Rankin

Is it better to say "Joyeux Anniversaire" or "Bon Anniversaire"? I was taught the latter in French class.

A Jackie et a Jules: Merveilleux anniversaire! Et je vous en souhaite beaucoup a venir! (= And many more!)

Let us know how the days are celebrated.

The poem/comparison was interesting and moving reading. Since I have a son, not a daughter, I can't compare in quite the same way. I like to think he has had a few things I didn't, such as a long-term environment to grow up in (same house for all of his 18 years).

We know we are of the older generation when we start talking to our children as our parents did to us. I have caught myself saying the very phrases my mother said to me. For example, when pointing out clothing to be washed or stuff to be picked up, "Who was your servant last year?" On the whole, though Mom and I got along very well.

Parents need to be careful of making their children too much in their own image. I wish my son, like me, were interested in choral singing, for example, or swimming. But he has his own preferences, and I try to respect that.

The only truly pure reason to have children is because you want to give them life. There are many, many "fringe benefits," most especially their company, and the joy of watching them grow and develop into their own unique personalities.

Jackie is poised on the edge of womanhood, but I hope she will enjoy being a kid for a while longer. And Jules, who likely is about my age - she knows that one is mostly as old as one feels.

Debby Montague

Bon Anniversaire Jackie et Jules. What a lovely tribute to the three generations, Kristen. Merci. It gave my heart a lift.


Bon Anniversaire to Jules and Jackie! Kristin, how wonderfully creative you are to celebrate your "girls" with your lovely writing. I am so sorry to have missed you this August in the south. When we landed we picked up the rental in Toulouse and took off for Sarlat as it was already so late in the day and we were so FRIED.
Next time we come though, we plan to stop and say hi! My Noelle came from London to spend 2 weeks with us....Is Jules coming this year? It is tough to be so far from loved ones, sigh...
a bientot!

Lee Isbell

Can I ask Sheila to give Kristin a little break from creating the "lesson" part of the blog while she has a houseful of soggy grape harvesters and lively puppies? I'm sure she'll be back with her good French words before long.

By the way, Kristin, if I were financially flush, I'd grab a flight to Paris for your presentation in October. "Grab a flight." Not exactly a casual enterprise from San Francisco to Paris!


I remember the first time I read this post! You truly are a gifted writer!! My two favorite lines are:
1. I had a sister who was prettier than I.
Jackie looks like her.
(your sister is pretty and I think you are just as pretty too!!! And the other day when I saw a picture of Jackie, I saw you when we were in grade school together!!)

2.I had a crush on Doug Pearson from kindergarten through eighth grade. He had dimples, or fossettes, and did a mean impression of Gene Simmons: fake blood, black eye-liner, and all.
(Didn't we all!! LOL!! He was such a cutie and a nice boy too--wonder where he is today!?)

Thanks so much for sharing your gift with us!

Betty Bailey

Bon Anniversaire Jackie et Jules. I am a Virgo... September 3.
Loved your way of telling us about your family which sounds far more interesting than mine!


Joyeux Anniversaire Indeed...Maman and fille! And so each of you is beautiful in your own unique way!
My mom's birthday was yesterday and she too is beauty in and out! Mwah!

A lovely, lovely post...and once again...those puppies are heavenly, I need to bury my face in them. I like to have armful of puppies and kittens.



Joyeux Anniversaire jeunes Jackie! Et, beaucoup plus pour vous!


The post was WONDERFUL! I really really enjoy reading them. This one really made me think about the wonderful differences between myself, my mother, and daughter...even my sister! We are all truly unique in our quirky ways, and I think that's what draws us closer.

Claire Fontaine

Bon Anniversaire Jackqui et Jules! Jackqui I hope to see you next summer and to one day meet Jules, the amazing woman who blessed the planet with Kristin.
Kristin, I can just see your determined little self digging in the hot Arizona dirt for a pool in the desert. When a girl like you makes a declaration, world watch out. You got your pool, my sturdy-souled friend, amidst lush vineyards, puppies, cigalles and wildflowers.
Much love -
aka G


Joyeux anniversaire a Jackie et a Jules! Que vous jours soient fantastiques, pleins d'amour et de joie!

I love this poem, Kristin. I'm so glad you posted it again. Thanks for sharing your heart and life with us. Your insights always inspire me. :-)

Et bon courage avec la vendange !!!


Oops. That was supposed to be VOS jours !

Lynda Laun

Joyeux anniversaires! L.K.Laun

Gregory E. Ebstein

We need a photograph of someone wearing a San Francisco Giants cap. I wish it was one of my twin boys. We loved staying at La Fare, near Beaumes de Venise a few years back.


Lovely poem, Kristi! A heartfelt thanks to your harvesters as I so enjoyed the fruits of their labor from last year's harvest. I know what their help means to your family farm!

Abundant birthday blessings to both Jules and Jackie! Enjoy! XOXO

Janine Cortell

Joyeux anniversaire Jules et Jackie:
Que cette annee vous apporte beaucoup de joie et tout ce que vous desirez.
Janine Cortell


A Big Happy Birthday to the two birthday girls Jackie and Jules...I am sending over one of my celebratory pavlovas filled with blueberries, strawberries and passionfruit for you all to share! Watch out blowing out the candles...cream might go everywhere! :-)

Fred Caswell

Three years! Just three years ago there was enough strength and endurance in this body to have given all those younger grape pickers a run for the most grapes snipped from their vines. Every day your endearing messages are read my heart grieves that my body is not there with all the volunteers and the Espinasse family whom I admire and respect so much. Joyeux Anniversaire a toi, Jackie, et a ta extraordinaire grandmere. Beaucoup d'amour de Fred



Kristin: gracias for sharing in such an intimate way about yourself, your daughter and your mom.



Joyeux anniversaire Jules et Jackie. You all all so lucky to have each other.

Cyndi White

Bon Anniversaire a Jules et Jackie ! Bon week end toute le monde !

Amities et bon fete !


Happy Birthday to Jules and Jackie! My daughter has a Mormon great-grandmother and a Jack-Mormon grandmother too, and I'm convinced that Jules and my mother would be the best of friends if they met! My mom is such an wonderful woman, a fierce advocate of family, so full of life and such a hard worker, but does it drive me crazy that we still don't know the ID of the father of her youngest three children? You betcha! (she says it's none of our business and what's in the past is best left in the past). Ah religious baggage! :-)

Your comparison poem between the three of you reminded me of another beautiful poem that you may already know, but here it is anyway:

A Poem for Emily
Miller Williams

Small fact and fingers and farthest one from me,
a hand's width and two generations away,
in this still present I am fifty-three.
You are not yet a full day.

When I am sixty-three, when you are ten,
and you are neither closer nor as far,
your arms will fill with what you know by then,
the arithmetic and love we do and are.

When I by blood and luck am eighty-six
and you are someplace else and thirty-three
believing in sex and god and politics
with children who look not at all like me,

sometime I know you will have read them this
so they will know I love them and say so
and love their mother. Child, whatever is
is always or never was. Long ago,

a day I watched awhile beside your bed,
I wrote this down, a thing that might be kept
awhile, to tell you what I would have said
when you were who knows what and I was dead
which is I stood and loved you while you slept.

[from "Imperfect Love" by Miller Williams, 1986, LSU Press]

Ed Wilhelm

As a curmudgeonly father of 2 daughters (early 20's) and a 40 year old son, and the husband of a wonderful francophile whose daughters adore her (as do I), I am forwarding to my wife and daughters this particularly touching and insightful edition of your blog. I hope that the beauty of this moment of reflection recharges your batteries which were running on 'low' upon your return from the Adriatic. Thank you for sharing your life with us. Ed W.


Happy Birthday Jules & Jackie.


Joyeux Anniversaire Jackie and Jules!
This is also the birthday of my friend Olivia in Paris!
A special day indeed!

A toast: Votre Sante!


Candice in NY

Leslie in view of Olympic Mountains

Just catching up on emails after being sick for awhile. Wow- I keep finding more and more things we have in common. My fourth daughter's birthday is this week and she's turning 12, and I must say she is as lovely, fresh, and untainted as your Jackie. Her name is Ghislaine (we call her Gigi). We also share the same godly heritage as your grandmother.
Hope your harvest goes well- we love getting our 'mains' dirty and seeing what nature produces around here. A bientot!


Hey, Jackie~
Isn't Sept. 18 the BEST birthday?!? That's mine, too :) I trust yours was extra special - somehow I have a feeling your mom is good at making that happen for you. Mine was a little different this year as I spent the day painting the walls of my oldest daughter's 1st apartment! (She is a young French teacher but this year is working for AmeriCorps in a different city and state (Lexington, KY - we live in Dayton, OH), helping refugee students.) And it just so happened that our birthday was her 'moving day' . . . memorable to be sure. Joyeux anniversaire . . . :)

Kitty Graham

Bonne Anniversaire Jules & Jackie! And once again, merci a Kristin; I'm recuperating from knee surgery (a new knee; whoopee!) and your FWAD site has brought me joy every single day during a difficult period! I'm now ready to get out & about again, and hopefully can visit my beloved France again soon. Merci, merci, merci.
Love to all; and hug & kiss those puppies for me!


Kitty, Seattle, WA


Cher(e)s Ami(e)s: I can't thank you enough for your generous and warm messages. Thanks, everyone, for the kind wishes and encouraging feedback.

We are officially done with harvest and I am late responding to email and comments -- but enjoying reading each and every word. Thank you!


Kristi, I followed your link to Jack Mormon and found the entry fascinating.. Thank you so much for info I did not know about.The comment box is such a gift to all of us. I have two wonderful daughters as different as can be. But what a joy they both are. Bon Anniversaire aussi a tous les deux!!... Patience.

Margie Cohan Lawrence

Are you the Janine Cortell who went to Hunter High and/or Hunter College?I'd love to hear from you.

Andrea Robinson

Happy Birthday to all. It is just a blessing to be alive! You and your family stories are such an encouragement to us all.
I will say it again, your mother is a beautiful, wonderful! You are all so blessed to have her in your life.

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