larguer les amarres

se moquer de quelqu'un

Sabot in the Window (c) Kristin Espinasse

An old sabot along Rue du Planet in the village of Buis-les-Baronnies (where I learned to knit the other week). Notice all the elements of a French window: painted shutters, lace curtains, tiles on window sill, wooden lintel, whimsical object (here, and old sabot... and did you see that spider web trailing out of the shoe?! ) Anything missing from this cozy, homey, fenêtre


se moquer de quelqu'un (seuh moh kay deuh kel kuhn)

    : to poke fun at somebody, to tease, to pull somebody's leg


Audio file & Example Sentence: Download MP3 or Wav file

Tu te moques de moi? Are you making fun of me? 


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

Vexé Comme Un Pou (Mad as a louse -- or Hopping Mad!)

Dear Mr. Chief Grape,

Tant pis pour toi! Too bad for you! Because of an ill-chosen word (a "term of endearment" you argue?)... you will not have le privilège of sporting my very first knitting experiment... 


...but Smokey will!!!

No. These are not garment goggles...
The headband that I had been working on for you (to keep your precious locks out of your eyes when pulling all those weeds out from between the grapevines)... that work-in-progress bandeau took a swift deviation when my knitting needles froze, midair, on hearing your flippant commentaire.

Alors -- Next time you stride into the room and notice your wife, her hands twisted like a pretzel, clutching a pair of slippery knitting needles, or aiguilles, yes, next time you see her eyes croisés in concentration, her fingers foaming from frustration... 


Resist such cheeky commentary as this: "Ça va, Mamie?"--or lose your right to wear an original, artisinal, (hysterical?) "yarn headpiece". My first!  

Voila, Mr. Chief Grape, Ça t'apprendra! Yes, that ought to teach you to hold your tongue so as to avoid doozies such as "How's it goin', Granny?" 

So now, let's be clear as cataracts: I AM NOT YOUR MAMIE!

Got that? Tu pige? Meantime, your loss is Smokey's gain! Ol' Smok-A-Roo seems pleased with his  fashion accessory, which he deems "a little bit rock-n-roll, a little bit litterary" (he hears David Bowie started the trend, after James Joyce... in fact, after a long loopy STRING! of elegant men.


Quelle allure! Yarn + fur! Smokey is a fashion victime in the true sense of the word!



Furthermore, Smokey appreciates that "rough edge", that air de mystère that the hand-knit head garment affords him.... (now if he could only afford a pair of scissors to release him from it...)


So, Mr. Chief Grape, it is bye-bye bandau! Your would-be headband now belongs to this glam ham! Smokey is so pleased with his accoutrement that he has even put in an order for another merveille ... knit from no other than "mémé"!

(He would humbly like to request a knitted sling, or une écharpe-langue for that droopy tongue of his (the aftermath, or les séquelles, of a horrible accident from his puppyhood).

Hey Mr. Chief Grape -- maybe you, too, could benefit from a homemade tongue-sling? It might hold that loose tongue of yours in place!




Related Blog Posts (click on the titles to read them)

"Learning to Knit". A shopkeeper takes the time to teach.

"Wounded": Our dog Smokey's accident.

 Related Books:

Capture plein écran 21072011 180505

Yarn Harlot: The Secret Life of a Knitter. Since the upsurge in knitting began in the early '90s, the number of women under 45 who knit has doubled. Knitting is no longer a hobby for just grandmothers-women and men of all ages are embracing this art. Describing its allure is best left to Stephanie who explains: "It is a well-known fact that knitting is a sparkling form of entertainment, as spiritual as yoga, as relaxing as a massage, and as funny as Erma Bombeck trapped in a PTA meeting." Order the "Yarn Harlot" book.



Selected French Vocabulary
(feel free to add more terms to the comments box!) 

tant pis pour toi! = too bad for you!

le privilège = privilege

le bandeau = headband

le commentaire = comment

alors = so then

croisé = crossed

une aiguille = needle (sewing)

une aiguille à tricoter = knitting needle

ça va, mamie? = how's it going, granny?

la mémé = granny

tu piges? (piger) = get it?

une merveille = marvel, wonder

bisous = kisses (love)


Reverse dictionary

to hold one's tongue = tenir sa langue


Behind the scenes... see the poised and finished photo here.

Correct Your French Blunders Correct Your French Blunders: How to Avoid 99% of the Common Mistakes Made by Learners of French. Speak and write French as if it were your native tongue! Order here.


Check out the latest prices for Kindle, click here and consider ordering today! Your purchase helps support this free language journal. Merci beaucoup!


Further Reading:
Check out Lee's story about her visit to Domaine Rouge-Bleu!

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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Larry Griffith

Good first project!...After a while, you may want to learn to spin some wool yarn. My wife can teach you if you wish...


I LOVED today's article, Kristin ... I was "pliée en deux" laughing so much. I love your humour, you and I would get on well ;-) ... having had many of the same experiences in this part of France!

Pat Cargill

Oh, Kristin, you have out done yourself this morning! This is too-too funny. Cher Smokey, Mr. Debonair of the Countryside of Grapes. I am amazed at how he will tolerate this...guess he really does like being the ham! Persevere, my dear, knitting is a wonderful hobby. I will try to find a copy of Roosevelt Rosey Grier's book Needlepoint for Men, not that he will have time to take up the needle/knitting needles, but J-M may just be jealous behind these little jabs One never knows.


Hi Kristin, I love Smokey's little (or maybe big) tongue and he is soooooo handsome with his eye-patch. Hope that your summer is fantastic. Mary

Christine Dashper

I love the knitting!!! Smokey looks tres chic!

Keep knitting Krisitn!

Maary-Anne Helms

This has been toooooo funny and a great way to start the day!!! Granny indeed......! Alas I think chief grape does not know that knitting has become very branche!!!!


Smokey the Pirate! Write a story and his many lives. Smokey the adventurer! Smokey the romantic!It could be endless and would make a wonderful children's story.
Poor Jean Marc, he really walked into that one.
Tell him some of our famous football players knit for relaxation.

Teresa Engebretsen

I have picked up knitting again after a 20 year hiatus. My husband actually wore the toboggan I knitted once... when there was a lot of snow on the ground and it was freezing. I have no idea where that work of art is now. It was not très chic... Mamie, indeed! They never learn, do they?


Learning to be a diplomatic husband is an art, just like knitting. It takes years of practice, but it sounds as though he is willing to hang in there and stay with it. He is blessed to have a good teacher - that's you, Kristin!

Jeanne Robinson

Oh, how I laughed when I read your blog this morning. I learned to knit and crochet when I was a young girl and have created numerous sweaters, scarves and doilies in my day. I am now a 64-year-old granny, but my hubby of the last 12 years has told me that if he ever sees me knitting, he will leave me! I think if we "look" old, it makes them "feel" old. Too bad for Chief Grape -- he would have looked great in that headband.

Suzanne, Monroe Twp., NJ

Ah, Chief Grape's loss is Smokey's gain. I must say Smokey looks dashing. So glad this was a funny story. When I first saw Smokey's photo with the patch I thought he had gotten himself into some mischief or had had another horrible accident! I can just see Smokey, wandering through the vineyard gloating and sporting son bandeau in JM's favorite color!

Linda R.

fun and funny. I love your story and sense of humor. One time at a Christmas party everyone was opening gifts (bring something homemade exchange)and the lady next to me received a knitted ... nosewarmer - crazy.


To be called "mamie" by Jean-Marc???
"Oui certes, Jean-Marc te taquine"!
but, "chère" Kristin.......,
you would have felt more than "ravie" (delighted) if the word had been "m'amie" or, "ma mie",
(same sound as "mamie")
- Yes, you would have felt delighted to have such a romantic husband, using old romantic French words for you.

"m'amie" used to mean "my sweet love", "my lover", "my dearest (lady) friend".
It goes back to the XIIIth century and was still used in the XVIIth century - (split in 2 words). .

"ma mie" is a contraction -> mon amie > m'amie > ma mie.
You find "ma mie" in literature, in some folk songs, when a man mentions either:
- "l'amie" (girl friend, female friend),
- "l'amante" (lover)
- "la femme aimée" (the woman he loves)

Here is a very popular XVIth century song:
Si le Roy m'avait donné
Paris, sa grand'ville,
Et qu'il me fallût quitter
l'amour de ma mie,
Je dirais au roi Henri:
"Reprenez votre Paris:
J'aime mieux ma mie, au gué!
J'aime mieux ma mie."
So, if the king would have given him Paris, and as a result he would have had to leave his sweet love, he would not have accepted the king's gift, because he loves his lady more than Paris! There is a second part in the song where we learn the king didn't give him Paris, and he sadly had to leave his beloved lady...


Thanks so much for a morning laugh! Your experience with knitting actually was better than mine. Each stitch I knit got tighter, until I couldn't move the needles. Then I gave up. You inspire me to try again.


Loved today's column -- and the patch is fabuleux!!

Bill in St. Paul

Sounds like J-M needs to read the book advertised on your blog: "Correct Your French Blunders"!

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you for your very kind comments! Any knitters here on Ravelry? I joined a few days ago...

Pat, your comment is as entertaining as I hoped the story would be. Thanks for the laughs!

Larry, one step at a time: first learning to make a decent dozen rows or so... and then I have no doubt that the learning to spin will become a new obsession! Tell Marilyn to bring her knitting needles!

Vera, thanks for "plié en deux"!

Anne, football players knit? Now to find some soccer players... that ought to win him over to the idea!

Jeanne, hope to see you on Ravelry soon :-P

Newforest, thank you for this romantic term and for the history of "ma mie"! Wonderful learning! Heck, next time the Chief struts by with "mamie" I'll sit up straight and thank him for the term of endearment!

Carol, I can relate! It is for that very reason that I put down my knitting needles several days ago... and then... just today, I cast on some extra big sloppy stitches and practiced extra big sloppy stitching. It's been a fun exercise and has given me new hope... Also, my mom read about a group of knitters who knit with no direction in mind. It's some sort of "my way or the highway" manifesto and I love the freedom in it! (Though, admittedly, I'd love the effort to resutl in a cableknit sweater...)

Bill in St Paul, MDR!!! LOL!!!

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
This was so funny! I love how Smokey is just being so patient wearing his eye patch!
Thanks for the laughs Granny!

Debbie in Canada

Salut, Kristin! I loved this story today, I started knitting again a couple of years ago to make my now-grown "fils" a requested scarf for Christmas. Now wherever I travel, I look for a yarn shop to buy "un petit souvenir", a skein of wool from that area. I have yarn from Edmonds, WA, Vancouver Island, BC, and Juneau and Ketchikan, Alaska. I even looked for yarn in Madrid, Spain, "mais malheureusement", the shop was closed - after all, it was in August!
I plan to visit some yarn shops when I am in Scotland and Paris next month.
I am on Ravelry as "debbever", I have my Papillon, Shadow, as my avatar. Also I love to read the books and blog of "Yarn Harlot", Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, a very funny Canadian writer/knitter. "See" you on Ravelry :)


You might want to try crochet if knitting starts driving you crazy! With kids and animals all over, I really hated the way knit pieces would run (especially if a pet grabbed the piece and played "keep away" from Mom). Crochet holds together much better and you can do all the same projects. They also have those great knitting looms now, too.


Poor Smokey and his tongue! But not to worry, Smokes--that tongue-hanging seems to be a Golden thing. Crosby the Golden has a special spot on either side of his mouth seemingly designed for his (whole or part thereof) tongue to slide out. And so did his predecessor, Bear. It's part of what makes you Goldens so darn cute, especially when just a little bit hangs out the front, like yours. You guys can be cute and regal all at once.

How is your mom doing these days?


Still got my mind hooked on "mamie" and what I wrote in my first post. Words, words, words... where are you leading me now?

--> "mie" used to be a word meaning "la nourrice" (wet-nurse), "la gouvernante" (governess)
for a young child, "ma mie" was the equivalent of "my nanny"

--> of course, "la mie" is the soft part of bread
- and tiny bread crumbs are "les miettes de pain"

--> About the way French children call their grandparents:
In the second part of the XXth century, "mamie" and "papi" replaced "mémère" & "pépère" and were used in the same way as "mémé" & "pépé"... but sounded more modern (!) Nothing very strict about the spelling, so, nowadays, you have mamie, mami, mamy and papi, papy
BTW, la grand-mère (grandmother) may also be called "Bonne maman" - and le grand-père (grand father) "Bon papa".


Back to your TRICOT,
here is my point of view, addressed to Jean-Marc, via FWAD:

Si le tricot était autrefois
une activité pour nos grands-mères,
il est, de nos jours,
un passe-temps très populaire,
qui ne connait pas de frontières.
Age et expérience?
aucune importance...
Alors, si Kristin se met au tricot,
Lance-lui un triple bravo!


With its endless varieties of yarn and fantastic patterns, knitting has indeed acquired a new image... which doesn't mean "le tricot" is for everyone, but, everyone is able to knit, at least, a scarf in garter stitch!

Time to go back to my knitting. I finished the second sleeve of my chunky cardigan and still have to sew all the finished pieces together. Byyyye.
and BTW,
no, I haven't yet felt the need to join Ravelry and to send pictures & notes to inform 'the whole world' about my (completed) knitting projects, and about my (future) Crochet projects, either!


The perfect prescription to the best start of a wonderful day ... laughter is absolutely the best medicine. Oh I can just see J-M slinking away at your words, similar to how Mr. Smokey-Dokey might slink away when being chastised. Oh, to be a fly on the wall when those words flew. What would we do without your dear blog, Kristi? It just simply brings me so much joy - like you. Hugs, Robin

Marianne Rankin

Re yarn from Scotland: a friend once sent me a gorgeous, intricately-patterned, handmade sweater from there. But when it was washed, it shrank, so much that it no longer fit. Be sure with wool to use cold water, and something like Woolite to prevent shrinkage. Wool (and maybe all sweaters) should be air-dried flat, and gently shaped without being twisted or pulled, on a towel.

Kristin, I suggest perfecting "easy" knitting such as a straight scarf before attempting cable stitch, which is more complicated than it looks.


Smokey looks very elegant in his hand knitted patch. Thanks for the charming story and your good humor. Happy knitting!

Nikki Tureen

Given your very public forum & strong fan base, M. Chief Grape had better not make this mistake again!!! And Smokey does look dashing.

As for the evocative window...ou est le chat gris se pelotonne sur le rebord de fenetre et une jardiniere plein des fleurs rouge?

Please feel free to correct the French & hope I caught all the funny pop up auto corrects!

Pat Cargill

Kristin, Rosey Grier was a big time pro football player and if Rosey could take up the yarn arts, anyone could. Football, soccer- close enough! FYI:

Roosevelt "Rosey" Grier (born July 14, 1932 in Cuthbert, Georgia) is an American actor, singer, Christian minister, and former professional American football player. He was a notable college football player for Pennsylvania State University who earned a retrospective place in the National Collegiate Athletic Association 100th anniversary list of 100 most influential student athletes. As a professional player, Grier was a member of the New York Giants, and the original Fearsome Foursome of the Los Angeles Rams and played in the Pro Bowl twice.

Grier is known for his serious pursuit of hobbies not traditionally associated with men such as macrame and needlepoint. He has authored several books, including Rosey Grier's Needlepoint for Men in 1973 (Wikipedia)


Loved your post-always do :)
I also enjoyed Newforests comment.
If I were you, I'd take the comment as one of those romantic meanings...

Karen from Phoenix, AZ

Love the post today. Smokey looks adorable. I learned to knit, macrame and needlepoint as a teenager. I still do a little knitting, mainly scarves. All the colorful yarns out there make it so much fun. I love the idea of getting yarn from different places you visit. I also read about Rosey Grier and was always amazed that a big football player would enjoy those hobbies. xoxo


Kristin, May I suggest that you use double ended needles (like the ones that you use when knitting socks on 4 needles?) This way, the other end could be a weapon.


Chere Kristin,
Your blogs are ALWAYS wonderful (!) but today's just filled me with smiles and made my morning! Your words painted a perfect decsription for us,your fortunate readers,
especially accompanied by Smokey's photo!
Also loved the picture of the fenetre,with its colorful details.Thank you for pointing out the special things which we might have missed!
Bon journee!

Lisa A., CA

What a wonderful way to wake up this morning...reading what you wrote made me laugh and all the comments were great!! Too much fun!! :) I too loved reading what Newforest wrote...très intéressant et romantique! All the terms were very loving...from romance to taking care of a child. Loved them all.

Now it is time to get back to "Spring Cleaning" in Summer. :) I have half of my garage still to do. Wish me luck!

Kristin Espinasse

Good luck with the spring cleaning in summertime, Lisa. -- a lot of people can relate to this :-) So hard to get motivated. Best to work with a buddy!

Marie-Louise, Dangerous socks, those ;-)

Nikki, a grey cat and pots of flowers would be a sunny edition to this lonely window sill - we'd better transfer the pretty tiles from the sill to the sill walls - not to be missed!

Newforest, thank you very much for the poem and for more incite into "mie"! Bonne continuation on your cardigan :-)

I'll sign off now with the help of Missy's OXOXs and Robin's hugs.


This is hysterically funny! I love it. Good luck with your next knitting project!

Bruce T. Paddock

Kristin -

I actually L'edOL — both at the story and at the photos of Smokey. (Fortunately, I didn't actually MDR.)



This is just too funny, Kristin! I loved reading it at work, laughing right out loud, and my employees wondering what in the world is up with the boss! Keep up the great sharing!

Suzanne de Cornelia

Smokey is such an adorable ham!

Julia Roberts, Winona Ryder, Dakota Fanning, and Cameron Diaz knit, too! So do male athletes in US. None of them are grannies!


All depends on the tone. I'm sure que JM plaisante et te taquine quand il t'appelle "mamie". Non, il ne se moque pas de toi.
Coucou, Kristin, I was an absentee, due to my recent trips. I had a lot of fun, but am now quite exhausted with the décalage horaire and many works to catch up. I'm still behind, but "je reviens te chercher". It'll take me some time to catch up with reading the previous blogs.
Your taking up knitting brings back memories of the time when I first came to USA from tropical country. My first project was a cap. I remember I was so happy and proud of my first hand-knitted cap. I learned how to knit some easy children's sweaters afterward and it was the best hobby I had at the time. I could just knit boredom away, while watching TV, in Dr's waiting room, in long car and plane trips etc... I have not knitted for a long time now, due to many other passe-temps. But knitting is a fun thing to do. Bonne soirée!


Moi aussi pliee en deux........In my home my grandchildren call me memere In the southern part of the US mamie might conger visions of "Gone with the Wind" n'est ce pas? Still sooooo funny

Jill in Sydney

A radio station here in Sydney has an annual knit in where everyone knits squares for an organisation Wrap With Love which then sends knitted quilts to those suffering the aftermath of war and disaster. It's a pretty easy pattern
- bit like what you did for Smokey. There would probably be similar organisations in France. If Chief Grape doesn't appreciate your artisanship you could knit for a worthy cause!!!

Kristin Espinasse

Jill, thanks for the Wrap With Love info... teary eyed viewing all the examples of compassion (I googled "Wrap With Love" to see images and also checked out some examples on Ravelry.) I still can't imagine how the patterns work--being so new to knitting (I love the Kangaroo square that one adds to the quilt...)

Denise, enjoyed my visit to your blog. Yummy recipes there and a very cute cat!


Bonjour Kristin,
Just wanted to add a few words to thank you for the attractive hand-carved olive wood clog! How lovely to see it giving such a friendly support to that humble "toile d'araignée" - I guess the 'hammock' spider must have attached the other side of its web to the window frame...? Clever spider!
Lace curtain, shutters... mais pas de plante. Maybe not enough space and maybe the pots of geranium are kept at the back of the house...(?)
Smokey was docile enough to accept the eye-patch, but I'm wondering whether mama Braise disapproved, or... whether the eye-patch gave her some idea about running away with Smokey to "le ruisseau" to play 'Pirates Of The Caribbean'!


Chere Kristin

I imagine all
Frenchmen in their collective consciences fear the klicking of 'aiguilles' as a sign of the sange-froid' of those ancient 'mamies' who sat knitting whilst tumbrilles and heads rolled. Vive la Revolution! It reminds them of what we women are capable of when our minds - originally set intently on learning a new skill - eventually tune into automation and multi-tasking. LOL!
Robyn x

Leslie in Atlanta

Salut Kristin,

What IS it with French husbands and all of their teasing, taunting, cajoling...and all in the name of love! I certainly appreciate your position being married to one as well, and I love that they also are willing to poke fun at themselves when the opportunity arises. We are setting out this weekend for my high school reunion--a first for both of us! I was surprised and also amused by his assessments of the pending event: "Well, she's trotting me off to an event like a prized pig who'd better win the prize!", and "Wow, what kind of green card story did he sell her!" Upon second examination, it seems he still managed to zing me, too! Kristin, we both know it will never stop, and we both love that about our men! Congratulations on your first knitting endeavor--I once got four rows into a project, didn't like the look of it, and promptly unraveled it! My "knitting" looked more like "knotting"!

Your writings have kept France in me since putting all of us in France for a few weeks wasn't possible this summer. Thanks for your beautiful words and photos!


Merci beaucoup for today's enchanting (and amusing) story. J'adore Smokey, and he looks so cute sporting his new accessory. Eh bien, it's Chief Grape's loss~

Kristin Espinasse

Newforest, Enjoying your comments on the olive wood clog (didnt realize they were made with this beautiful bois! Helpful info on the hammock spider -- will come in handy if theres ever the chance to write about him (or her...). P.S. You predicted what was on Braises mind (on seeing Son Smokey with the pirates patch). The two took off before noon for a Pirates of the Caribbean Adventure... down to the river. Poor Old Smoke will be disappointed when he realizes he left his super cool pirates patch at home. Now hell have nothing to show off!


Bonjour Kristin,
Now that was a funny, funny comeback to Chief Grape. You certainly had me laughing out loud.
You obviously have a great talent for both writing and knitting.
Have a wonderful day and thanks for making mine brighter.
Oh, by the way, is there anything cuter than Smoky??? Tres Chic!!!

Jennifer in OR

So funny, and I love the pirate dog! Have a superb weekend; we're off to hike a new trail today!

Candy in SW KS (but soon to be back in CO!)

Oh Kristin, if you could perfect a "tongue sling" you would become a millionaire!! :) I thoroughly enjoyed your "yarn" for the day! (Thought a little knitting pun might be apropos here!) Smokey looks charming, if not a bit alarming . . . And the only thing the lovely window needs is a kitty peeking out from behind those lovely lace curtains.

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