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 KristiFor twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety