en retard


The garden hose, The Tongue, and many other things to try and hide (or tuck back inside...) before tomorrow's guests arrive! Meantime, the wallflowers—les giroflées (f)—look welcoming. Well, that's a start!

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programmer (pro-grah-may)

    : to schedule, to plan; to program

programmer à l'avance = to schedule in advance

Example Sentence: (sorry, no time for a sound file. Our resident Francophone is busy patching up holes. Read on, in today's story)

Une visite chez nous, c'est possible--et c'est à programmer. A visit to our place is possible--and is something to schedule.

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

This Ain't 'A Good Year'--or Chateau Chic, for that matter!

It didn't hit me right away, you know, les conséquences. For the moment I was operating by inspiration, and Inspiration cheered: "Vas-y! Invite everyone!"

So I did. On Friday I posted an announcement, an open invitation to readers... to visit us at our family vineyard!

It wasn't an open invite in the modern sense of the term:

open invitation (noun): something that seems to give people a reason or excuse for doing something wrong or illegal

Oh gosh, no—not that kind of invitation....

Nor was the "open invitation" meant in the traditional sense:

open invitation (noun): an invitation to do something at any time

NO, NO, NO--NOT "at any time"! Yikes, what a cirque à trois pistes that would be! My mind began to play out the following scenario: a knock on the front door at any old time of day... a jovial group of francophiles standing on our front porch... "Is this where the wine tasting is at?"

Oh no! Not here... or not now anyway! That is, not without an appointment and not until things are more or less in order....

Order? I look outside to judge the current state of our chez nous: the picnic table is broken, a mismash patash of chairs strewn round it. La piscine, the one which visitors must walk past to get to our front door, it is shot too (finally emptied of its murky waters... it is now the dilapidated pool liner that stands out)! Jean-Marc has been busy patching up all the holes, with some sort of mysterious pool glue. Well, it's a step up from the duct tape that he usually uses!

I looked past the piscine to all the flower pots which are scattered across the front porch (in desperate need of sweeping, only no time now! Hopefully Max can balayer, when he comes home from school tonight...). The flower pots are empty (the lauriers a rotten brown from this year's freeze)... and several are cracked or chipped.

Oh yes, bienvenue chez nous! Step right up and take a ticket. What would you like to see next? In ring number three there's a lop-sided trampoline... just past the clothesline, which needs re-wiring—lest the pants we hang there continue to play footsie with the grass just below. Tickle, tickle, tickle!

Ignoring the pants and the pots, I notice that the garden is coming to life... only, in the form of weeds which are busy filling in all those cracks along our front patio! I begin tugging out the mauvaises herbes... only the weeds tug right back at me! Perhaps I should begin somewhere else? Mais... par où commencer?

Where to begin? Not with the lawn! I look over to the bumpy pelouse where great patches of barren earth reveal the occasional trou: Smokey's and Braise's latest digs! I think about our guests, who might like to walk out to the edge of the "lawn", where a lovely picture might be taken. Again, my mind's eye draws up an alarming scene... ending in twisted ankles... or sticky shoes.

Sticky shoes! Forget the cracks in the wall, the holes, and the flowerless pots—I need a super scooper! 

Then there's the driveway, which would be fine (Max pruned the entire row of lavender. Good job, Max!) except for my car, which looks as though a dust-devil had passed through it. No time to wash the car... perhaps our guests will think it isn't mine? I can always pretend it's Jean-Marc's! ...then again the only other car in the driveway is as dusty as mine.

"Don't worry about a couple of holes in the garden or the cracks or the dust," Jean-Marc says. This isn't a corporate vineyard!" He is right, it's just Jean-Marc and I here, looking after things. The kids help when they can and the dogs do their best to undo the rest!

But you are welcome, chez nous, dear reader, family, and friends. Just be sure to call or email first (give us fair warning)... and maybe watch your step—especially if you plan to join us on the trampoline! After a few glasses of wine, we may be able to talk you into that....

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French Vocabulary

une conséquence = consequence

vas-y = go ahead

le cirque à trois pistes = three-ring circus

chez nous = our place

la piscine = pool

balayer = to sweep

le laurier-rose = oleander

bienvenue chez nous = welcome to our life

la mauvaise herbe = weed

mais, par ou commencer? = but where to begin



For his birthday, I made him a cake (it tasted much better than it looks...), and offered him another puzzle (no kittens, this time). It was nothing like the gifts he gave me for one of my birthdays, but the intention was the same.

Couldn't find a birthday candle...


Thanks for your suggestions on which photo software to use. I'm still having fun with Picasa. They offer many tricky ways to hide imperfections... the downside is that, with all the smoke and mirrors, people may not recognize you in real life! The tools I used for this picture are "Années 60" + "Polaroid". Here's hoping tomorrow's guests recognize us.... Better stick to the previous photo! 


  Photo (1)

 I used Picasa's "Cinémascope" for this snapshot of Katie Dyer and Chief Grape. Whoops! It kinda chopped off the Chief's locks. Photo by Fran Rorie taken during Jean-Marc's USA wine tour. Sadly, Katie's dogs (golden retrievers) couldn't attend the meet-up. Here are their names:

Nigel (Advent Meteor Flag of England, CGC, TDI)
Smudge (Advent Conflagration, CGC, TDI), Diva Golden Rethieva
Aslan (Advent Lion, Rich & Wardrobe, CGC, TDI), the Loon Ranger
Windsor (Int CH Lazyriver Repeat Performance, CGC, TDI)
Lizzie (Advent City Lights, CGC) the Lady Elizabeth
And, Katie notes:
"waiting for us... Gordon (Sunshine Hill Gordon, CGC, TDIA) 9/15/1995 - 4/9/2007"
Katie ends all her emails this way: A couch is a terrible thing to waste; have a bunch of Golden Retrievers


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