se livrer
avoir les chocottes

faire passer le temps

                            Scottish broom in the French countryside...

Thank you for your thoughtful notes and emails, but we do not have any test results from Jean-Marc's kidney biopsy to share with you. And today, le lundi de Pâques, means we'll have to wait another day or two!

faire passer le temps (fer passay leuh tahmp)

    : to while away the time

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the following French words: Download MP3 or Wave file

L'autre jour j'ai fait les magasins pour faire passer le temps. The other day I went shopping to pass the time.

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

"A Hell-On-Wheels Heart"

Friday afternoon, with a morale at sub zero, I was haunting the aisles of a home-decor store. This was not retail therapy. J'étais en train de tuer le temps. There were two hours to kill while my 13-year-old and her giggly cohort cruised the mall (and I wasn't up to making an aller-retour to the farm and back!).

C'était un drôle de deux heures. It was a very strange two hours spent in full martyr mode. "What a dumb decision that was!" I chastised myself about the anecdote I had just posted. "You should have written about "Adult Chicken Adoption", as you had set out to do! 'Ex-battery Hens' would have been a much better topic, DUMMY! The plight of commercial egg-layers was surely a less risqué sujet than "ego annihilation via death to self"! (Of all subjects! Of all subjects!!!)

(Later, I would have the consolation of laughter, over a telephone conversation in which I admitted to my mom that perhaps a journal titled "French Word-A-Day" was an unlikely place to talk about mortification of self!)

Mortified, I was. And, in this state, I continued worrisomely to while the time away, or faire passer le temps, falling to greater and greater depths of despairing humiliation.

Though my eyes were fixed to the blur of my mind's colorful imagination (in which scores of Word-a-Day subscribers were signing off, en masse, dismissing its author as some sort of mystic moon-bather), I somehow managed to catch a glimpse of the shopper ahead me. Her head suddenly jerked to the side... as if an invisible tug rope were tied to it. Every few moments her head jerked again...

As the woman's children bombarded her with questions, the cigar-voiced mother-with-a-tic would snap back, literally. Her violent head-jerkings were tamed only by her take-no-shit send-offs, or ripostes, which followed her visible suffering. The whole hard-edged package was wrapped up in a cropped-haired, tight-jeaned, 30-something. As tough-exteriored as the woman appeared, you could not miss the affection and protectiveness emanating from her center as her children and her mother flocked around her in time for more chattering and more head-jerking riposting. 

If I ever had a heroine, the slumbering novelist inside of me mused, she'd be a little like her. I would have liked to have studied the woman a little closer, but feared that her involuntary tic might seem to her the object of my curiosity. She could not know that it was her hell-on-wheels heart that so enamored me. 

Thanks to this unknown woman, I left the store with my very own hell-on-wheels heart. A heart with character in time to weather the fickle air, cloudy one day, sunny the next. It was just the antidote my uneasy interior had been searching for, there, of all places, in the home-improvements store. 


A hell-on-wheels heart is not cold or closed, it's fiery and has wheels! ...though it doesn't always know where it is going...

Le Coin Commentaires
To respond to today's word or story, click here.


The Bug Hug (c) Kristin Espinasse

Feeling unloveable? Go out and hug a flower! Nature will never snub or snob you :-)

French Vocabulary

le lundi de Pâques = Easter Monday

tuer le temps = to kill time

aller-retour = round trip

le sujet = subject


        Sunny façade in Cassis. All photos & text © Kristin Espinasse

In books, film, and cuisine:

French Demystified...simple enough for a beginner but challenging enough for a more advanced student.

Sara midda's South of France: a sketchbook Sara Midda's South of France is a place of ripening lemons and worn espadrilles, ochre walls and olive groves, and everything born of the sun. It lies between the Mediterranean and the Maritime Alps, and most of all in the artist's eye and passion. Read the glowing reviews, click here.

In film:  Paris Je T'aime Paris I love You.

Eiffel Tower Cookie Cutter -  handcrafted by artisans to last for generations. Order here.


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


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


I loved that story, Kristin x x x
And I'm praying for Jean-Marc ...

Bruce T. Paddock

Kristin -

A lovely, inspiring story and, as always, the photos are magnificent. There's just one thing I don't get.

What is that object attached to the wall of the yellow house above and to the left of the glass rooflet? It looks to me like a shoe painted white, but I'm guessing it isn't.


It's a sculpture of a cigale(cicada. They are a symbol of Provence, and are attached to both exterior, and interior, walls throughout much of Western Provence.

Maria Cochrane

Kristin - ne t'inquiètes pas d'avoir partager les pensées de ton coeur. On ne sait jamais comment notre Père va les utiliser pour soulager quelqu' were just having regrets for being a bit transparent or for having walked out on a limb. That's normal.
La paix soit avec toi!



Personally, I find your stories charming, and all the more so because you show a depth of character that too many today lack. Ne change rien!

Gail Jolley

Je suis d'accord avec les autres. Vous etes tres courageuse et genereux avec ton coeur.

Suzanne, Monroe Twp., NJ

Kristin, i enjoyed both posts. What are we if we are not an amalgamation of our various moods, weaknesses and strengths?! The photo of the yellow iris reminded me of my delight on Easter Sunday morning discovering that half the tulip bulbs I had planted in fall had bloomed ... hug a flower indeed! We are awaiting good news about Jean-Marc's biopsy.

About cigalles ... on my first trip to Provence I too wondered what these little insects signified ... in sculptures and walls and captured in lace and linens. A waitress in St. Remy de Provence was shocked that I didn't know what they were but soon set me straight. Now I have four cigalle sculptures in my kitchen/great room!

Jean(ne) P in MN

Dear Kristin--You have shared your all with us--strangers who have grown to appreciate your writing and your lovely photographs. We sit in our bathrobes and read of your life, your ups and downs, and we are friends, always.

Karen W  (Towson, Maryland)

HAH!! As much as I'd love to see more "mystic moon bathing" (LOVE that!) from you, I don't think that you realize that your article the other day was so very VERY much more human than holy. When we're human - there is always a lesson to learn.

Isn't humiliation (undeserved in this case) the worst thing to shake? This IS where you need a strong skin but otherwise keep soft and move through life like a tumbleweed.

I too had a question about the "cigale" on the facade. I'll have to be on the lookout for more of them in your photos.

Debbie from Baltimore

Ne t'inquiete pas, Kristin! As always, you have proven yourself to be just like the rest of us, uncertain, vulnerable...human. It's okay. Your writing is heartfelt, and that's what counts. But more than that, you also have the unique gift of a born writer to stir emotions in others. I am in total agreement with your commenter who said, Ne change rien! Don't change a thing!

Cassie Alexandrou

Dear Kristin -- You and your family continue to be in my thoughts as you await Jean-Marc's test results. I am sure most of your loyal "followers" (myself included) have also been in this nervewracking limbo. So, please do not spend one second regretting expressing -- openly, honestly, and as always, beautifully -- what was on your mind and in your heart that day.


So often I am given exactly the antidote for my despairing heart by the people that I encounter in the most mundane of circumstances. How does God arrive with such perfect timing? Be well. Mary


Chère Kristin, je t'embrasse très forte.
Cindy de Louisiane


Frankly, I think I would like to hear about ex-battery hens and their plights, but the woman in the check out line would make an intriguing story too, and I think it could be very creative.

By the way, here in the states, the longer it takes to get lab/test results back the better. If there is a problem you hear from the doctors right away. I hope it is that way in France too.

Mary Paulson

Kristin, your way with words illuminates your innermost feelings . Thats why I keep coming back to read you. You touch a very human spot in our souls. When I read this post I knew you were telling us what was really on your mind.Thats what a reader looks for. Its your gift to us.Thank you


Loved the story.
Is there an update on Jean Marc? I am praying for him.


The first thing that struck me about today's post is that 'Scottish Broom' looks exactly like our 'Spanish Broom' here in New Mexico, although the flowers on Scottish Broom look a bit bigger than the transient ones on Spanish Broom. The Scottish Broom undoubtedly receives more water than Spanish Broom does. If the scent of the flowers on Scottish Broom is as heavenly as it is on Spanish Broom, then the two are related.

I am constantly amazed that with a husband, two teenagers (!), a farm/vineyard, two dogs (perpetual children), and a house to care for that you manage to crank out three columns a week in which you teach us! I can only do one. The only reason I can think of to beat yourself up is that the rest of us are not going to do it. We admire and appreciate your effort. Merci beaucoup!

Suzanne Dunaway

Kristin, but why was your spirit at sub-zero?? Is it worry about Jean Marc? How normal that is. We all hope so much that all will be over and done with in a few days and your sunny life will continue with shopping teenagers and rowdy doggies and your plantings pushing up through the compost. Good vibes are following JM from Roma to Collioure to the budding vineyards....


Whatever is bothering you, Kristin dear, don't you DARE let it make you feel bad about yourself! You are a truly lovely person inside and out, and I and thousands of other people love reading your engaging writing about your life.

Marianne Rankin

If I were "trapped" in a mall, and didn't want to go shopping, I would bring something to read. That's how I make waiting - seemingly everywhere - bearable.

We are all different, so what works for one might not work for another. Watching the mom-with-a-head-tic might work for you. What I strive to avoid, not always successfully, is simply "stewing," wasting time complaining instead of trying to use it somehow in a better way. I've even been known, in my mind, to ask myself "How would I say this in French?" if I am stranded somewhere without reading material. When I was in France, of course (ages ago), just watching the people was enough, because it was a cultural education.

Nancy from Coronado, CA

Kristin, I can't tell you how much I enjoy and learn from your posts. Like everyone else, I have you and Jean Marc in my thoughts and trust that everything will turn out OK. I agree with the other poster who said that the longer it takes to get test results, the more likely everything is fine. That happened to me recently with a skin biopsy - it took 3 weeks to get the diagnosis and it was ME who had to call the doctor's office (twice before they responded!). All was fine - phew! On another subject, what kind of camera do you use? Your photos are stunning!

Barb Daniel

Kristin....your writing jets were FIRING girl! That was some mighty FINE writing!
Auntie Barb

Suzanne de Cornelia

Dear Kristin~

I'm so sorry for your angst over your husband. You all seem to work so hard, with such zest and appreciation, and this is rattling what you've built. I'm praying with everyone else for your husband and family. Thank you for your beautiful post, love all the yellow! And for that lady's 'hell on wheels' heart.

Hugs from Carmel-by-the-Sea

Herm in Phoenix, Az

Salut Kristin,

Fort-one thousand plus readers, and counting, anxiously await your creative writings. Educators, fellow writers and professional followers can’t all be wrong. You must be doing something right! Time for an “Alfred E. Neuman moment” . . . . “What, me worry?”!

I like to use the phrase; “This, too, will pass”.

À bientôt


I agree with Mollie and was not put off at all by your introspection last week. It did show depth in your character. Keep on writing.
I like your photos this week, especially the last 2.

Jules Greer


I know life can be though Honey, especially for a writer that feels all the emotions of life amplified in her interior editor's mind.

I am praying for JM too - you will get through this valley. Real Life always makes for great writing. This has been a difficult month for you - it's almost over. Soon I will be there with you to take care of you.

I love you Honey.



L. M. Davies

Ah, Kristin, (or as I might say here in my NY kitchen, girlfriend, girlfriend)you juggle so much with such infinite grace, inevitably noticing the beauty,humor and LOVE in daily life - no need to be so hard on yourself!It is precisely that authentic voice that so many of us love. You consistently speak to my heart, Kristin. Please don't change a thing about your writing. It's REAL!
We're all pulling for Chief Grape. I'm sure all will be well. Sending love, light and healing wishes from this side of the pond.

Diane W. Young

We are all praying for Jean Marc and for you and the children to be comforted as you wait the results. I had the same biopsy several years ago and everything was fine. The creatinine level was up a little, prompting the biopsy, but it went back down shortly. Give thanks for alert doctors who want to be sure all is well for Papa Grape. Le Bon Dieu has you all in His loving care.

Diane W. Young

oops - Papa Grape from Chief Grape. Je ne sais pas la source pour cet erreur.

gail bingenheimer

Comme il fallait attendre une heure ou deux pour voir le médicin, j'ai pu lire un tas de vieilles revues.
Since I had to wait an hour or two to see the doctor, I was able to read a stack of old magazines.

Stacy, Applegate, Oregon

I adored Friday's post (though I didn't get to comment as I had a busy day in town), as I love today's post ~ bravo! One just never knows where our next treasure will be found. I love how life continues to bring us back to the truth.

So much in life is like weather; always changing without even asking our consent! It’s not the weather that is our responsibility, but how we weather it. You do so beautifully!

I just took a moment to read today’s comments and am so moved by how wise and heartfelt they are. I wish we had a “like” button as I’d select quite a few.

You are such a lovely treasure! Hugs and prayers!

Alberta Boileau

Dear Kristin,
There is little I could add to the comments so I will just say "ditto". Your writing does reflect a very sensitive heart and soul. We are all so afraid of showing our humanity. Thank you for letting us have a glimpse at your inner-self.
There is one thing that took second place in the comments. You are also a great artist at heart. The photo of the vivid yellow wall with the red door and the blue flowers is superb. Very stricking! Tres jolie!
(excuses l'absence de mes accents)

(BERT) Alberte de l'Alberta, Canada


Hi Kristi....I have had a difficult couple of months as well and have not always been able to catch up with some of your stories....but now after a weeks break trekking (for the first time!) with my hubby I have been able to find head space to move along ...walking does wonders for the mind! Love your stories, never feel as though you say the wrong thing and hope Jean Marc gets the all clear soon...don't you hate waiting! xo

Kit Wilson

As you can see, we are your far-flung e-family, and we simply welcome, accept and cherish whatever you write from your treasury of a heart, Kristin. Trust us -- you certainly may, so I hope you always CAN!

Self-doubting moods often have no 'real' origin in events; they get our tattered thoughts hunting frantically for a cause when truly it is simply 'emotional weather'. hugs to you.

Stacy, Applegate, Oregon

Love the term "emotional weather"! At times, the clouds roll in and hide our sunshine for a spell.

Walking does wonders for my entire being...I'm heading out to hike around the lake ~~~ in the sunshine :)

Pat Cargill

I too wanted to send you an email and say, pls remove my post from Fri's blog. So many deep emotions roiling around these days on your front (and here, too) that we find ourselves wide open sometimes. Fortunately, you are encircled by a big gathering of loving hearts in the FWAD community who hold you and your dear Jean-Marc up to the Light of Love and our hopes and wishes and prayers are with you all. Hugs, Pat

Jacqueline Brisbane)

Dear Kristin, time to think about taking up "armchair yoga", aka "shopping mall yoga" aka "waiting room yoga". Ideal when your mind is too preoccupied to read or you don't want to miss out on people-watching. It's called "crochet" or "knitting".
Keep a small project, in a bag, in the car... Then you can also practice at traffic lights, in traffic jams, at the cinema (Yesss, in-the-dark!).
If you're a learner, make squares of different stitches or different colours... you'll end up with a lovely 'courte-pointe! I have discovered the peace and calm than comes from doing this when I was my mother's carer.
You crochet (or knit) your funk into a little square, your breathing becomes even, your heart rate slows down, you're "in the zone" but still people watching, or thinking....
Plus... it is a priviledge for us that you share your états d'âme with us.
Power to you. :)
Jacqueline in rainy-cold autumnal Brisbane

Carmen Clarke

Kristin, take it from a shy writer,
You are a brave writer. I admire your writing from the heart. Bravo!

Sara Larsen

Dear Kristin, I wouldn't give a fig for someone who didn't second guess themselves once in a while. You are such a dear thinker and writer. A la votre! (I hope that means "cheers"?) xo Sara

Jennifer in OR

Kristin, I love your thoughts, words, emotions...we all see a bit of ourselves in there and grow and learn. I understand the second-guessing, though; I am also terribly obsessive like that and hope to someday bury that man for good! By His grace.


Halloooo..what's the name of the potted vine on the far left of the last photo? It's got blue flowers. Thank you!


Hi Camille,

just in case you are still looking for an answer to your question:
it is a 'Plumbago'
(Plumbago auriculata)

not sure you will read this late message, but never mind - someone else might
---> More plumbago flowers on the latest Photo Gallery in "Cinéma Vérité"
Have you registered yet?
it's a perfect photographic complement to FWAD ... and a way to show your support to Kristin's efforts

catching up with FWAD ..........

I read this newsletter yesterday
Today, I decided to send a post, although it is rather late for doing so.
(at least, Kristin will read it, I think)

There is a certain 'Mystic Moon-bather' who, one day,
on April 25th, precisely,
needed to KILL the time.
(à suivre)
Kristin, you will find "la suite" later on today, in your inbox.

Just for now:
here are a few familiar expressions, connected with 'waiting'

---> faire le poireau / poireauter
= to wait for a long time, without moving, without walking.
("un poireau" is a leek)

---> faire les cent pas / marcher de long en large
= to pace to and fro, to walk to and fro, to pace up and down

---> arpenter (la rue) = to pace up and down (the street), to stride along


Hello again,

"BRAVO pour les photos rayonnantes de jaune d'or"....

As for the last one,

*the soft blue Plumbago flowers against a light ochre wall,
*the pretty "marquise" above a red front door
*the funny fish sort of door bell,

... all these charming details make the most delightful scene!

(avec retard, sorry...)

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