apocope + favorite blogs on France
ceder le passage


Dog in Villedieu (c) Kristin Espinasse
Thanks, Marsha and Dad, for such a nice visit! I hope you will enjoy this story that I wrote about it... (and here is that photo taken during our stroll in Villedieu "Town of God").

"Meet Chief Grape in Copenhagen . He will be pouring his wines at Mansted Wine May 28th, from 5 to 7 PM"

cadre (kadr)

    : frame (of picture, door, etc)

Note: there are more meanings for the French word cadre. Sorry to not have the time to list them here. Dust off those dictionaries and see for yourselves... meantime, a little bit of dust in the following story...

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse


I was driving my dad and my belle-mère, Marsha, home to our vineyard when I realized that the room I had carefully prepared for their 4-day stay had something terribly, embarrassingly out of place! 

Despite the fastidious organizing that took place in the days leading up to Dad and Marsha's visit, I had forgotten all about the oil painting my belle-mère Marsha had presented us years ago. Currently, it was missing its frame! More about that in a minute, meantime, there were other glaring oversights that were now coming to mind. For example,  I might have dusted Marsha's painting, as my own mom had, during her previous visit, when we wiped down all of Mom's paintings. I remember being astonished watching Mom wring out a dishcloth and set about scrubbing down all of her own oil paintings before placing them back on the countertops.

Mom had overlooked the fact that her paintings were not hung properly, but there was one thing that bothered her. "They need frames. Promise me you will frame them!" I nodded my head as we stared back at the paintings, which gleamed. The colors were so deep and rich after the towel bath. I would have never thought to wash a work of art!

It was during that same visit that Mom discovered Marsha's painting.  Mom admired Marsha's rendition of a typical Provençal mas. The shutters and door were beautifully painted and the climbing roses that reached up to tickle the shutters made this an enchanting scene from any Francophile's dream.

Marsha had set the painting into a beautiful wooden frame before offering it to Jean-Marc and me. When Mom saw that frame her eyes began to shine and I sensed, even before the crime took place, what calculations were going on beyond that innocent face.

"No! The answer is NO!"

"But I just want to show you what my painting would look like if you ever got around to framing it!" Mom explained.

Fast forward to the drive home, where Marsha and Dad are chatting about the countryside as seen from the car window. Another conversation is going on in my own head:

I need to get to the room before Dad and Marsha do! But how to switch Mom's painting out of Marsha's frame?—when Mom's painting is in another room!  And what a dope you are to have placed Marsha's painting there—on the ledge of the heater of all places! This is really going to look bad!!!  

True! I should have given my belle-mère's painting a more prominent place than on the heater! But it wasn't the heat that threatened to damage the painting (we never use that heater, which serves more as a shelf for books and artwork).... it was the seeming carelessness that threatened to damage my carefully soigné appearance of a mature, has-it-all-together daughter. As it was the bed was impeccably made and the en suite bath shined, as did the floors. And then there was my belle-mère's painting—which sat there vulnerably, like a beautiful woman whose summer hat had just been blown off by the Mistral... or pinched by a rascal! 

Meantime, Mom's painting of Le Quartier Juif à St. Maximin now boasted a beautiful frame! It would be one of the first things my Dad and Marsha would see when they walked in the front door.

As things threatened to quickly fall apart (we were nearing home now, just one or two blocks away from The Revealing Moment) I made a quick decision to come clean. Experience reminded me that skeletons always manage to work their way out of the closet, "Bonjour! Bonjour!", the moment the guests arrive. Besides, I have learned that the antics involved in covering up an embarrassing faux pas are often as ridiculous as the situation itself.  The skittish and bizarre behavior one exhibits while trying to mask the skeleton only makes the problem more obvious. There was no way to dart out of the car and into the house in time for a casual switcharoo without my behavior seeming weirder than usual.

Often the best course of action is to admit error and, if at all possible, to swiftly pass along the blame... 

"Marsha, there's something I need to explain... it has to do with that rascal mom of mine!"


Post note: my Mom and Marsha have an unusually peaceful relationship as wife and ex-wife of my dad, Kip.  You might say the women are as close as a painting and its frame!

Marsha was quick to forgive Mom and to assure me, "It's nothing to worry about! It's not at all important." Admiring Mom's painting, Marsha remarked, "It's just lovely." 

  Marsha and Jules

No make-up (Marsha, left) and no breast (Mom, right). I hope my moms don't mind my posting their photo, taken in 2003 after mom Jules's mastectomy. Marsha offered a loving ear back then, and the two women continue to maintain a caring email correspondence. Mom always says, of her ex, that Marsha is the best thing that ever happened to my dad. I think he would agree.


I temporarily moved Marsha's painting to my desk, for inspiration while I typed today's story. Click on the picture to see a close up and to read the other inspiration (Flaubert's words) just above.

Here's Mom's rendition of Le Quartier Juif à St. Maximin. Mom can tell you stories about one of her favorite places. Maybe check the comments box later on.... Meantime, I need to learn how to drill a hole and hang some of these lovely paintings!

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


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Gordon Lyman

Kristin, your refreshing frankness served you well in the story you relate here, just as it does regularly in your stories. I like your habitual "full disclosure" style.

Eileen deCamp

Bonjour Kristin!
I enjoyed your post this morning so much! I love both paintings and I find it interesting that the women your Dad fell in love with are both artists!
Thanks for the other meaning of cadre. I only know the military meaning:
1. (Military) the nucleus of trained professional servicemen forming the basis for the training of new units or other military expansion. A nucleus or core group especially of trained personnel able to assume control and to train others; broadly : a group of people having some unifying relationship.
Thanks and have a great day!


I read your posts faithfully, but I think this is my first time commenting. This is such a beautiful story, telling how you feel about these two important women in your life. They must both be very warm, giving people. They are also very talented!


You can find wonderful cadres at the local marchés aux puces, Kristin - old ones. Just take your measurements with you and voilà! Your mother is a real beauty - no wonder you are the stunner you are! So fabulous that both your "mères" are copaines.....

Madonna Meagher

What is so nice is you were able to make the glaring error right again. It was very gracious of Marsha to forgive what could have been interpreted as a slight. It reminded me of buying a baby bracelet for my soon-to-to be=born granddaughter last Fall while in Strasbourg. The beads were so beautiful so all I had to do was spell the name Zinaida. I couldn't remember if it was Zenaida or Zinaida, so I bought an extra i. After all the careful French gift packaging, I couldn't peek at the contents. Upon the birth, I presented the gift...no i was included, only the e and the baby's name was misspelled and lots of very hurt feelings. BUT, my friend returns home from vacation in France tomorrow, I gave her the bracelet, she was in Nice and found a baby store with just the beads and I now will be able to re-gift the bracelet to dear little Zinaida correctly spelled. phew. I hope my daughter will forgive me as Marsha did you. Graciousness and good manners I hope will rub off.

Jeanne in Oregon

I LOVE today's story. It reminds of Ethel, the very dear lady that became stepmother to my children. Because of her, my ex has been a better dad to his kids, and I so enjoy the times I get to spend with her when they visit our area from time to time. Our husbands seem a bit perplexed by our friendship, but that just makes it all the more delicious!

Sevahn Merian

Dear Kristin,

I loved this story too! Gorgeous paintings and gorgeous story! This is a true gem.

You are an inspiration and a blessing.

Karen Whitcome  (Towson, Md)

This was a very sweet and honest story, Kristin. I knew you would come clean. The paintings are lovely and what a difference a frame makes! I'm looking forward to hearing the story of your painting, Jules.

I, too, have maintained a very close relationship with my husband's first wife. It seemed silly to stand divided like the rest of the world thinks should be proper. There are way too many things in life to share where the children are concerned. Now, we holiday together, talk weekly and are like sisters, ourselves.


eh ! Christine ! why not use the photo of MARTHA's andyour computer ,etc as cover for your next book ?


Audrey Wilson

As a retired art teacher & a bit of an amateur artist myself I was very imressed with both paintings Lovely work with or without the 'cadre'!!
Your Mom is very attractive . I can see now where your looks originate .
Honesty pays eh??

Angelique Briand

Dear Kristin,
Reading your post was like having a dessert with my tea this afternoon, and no calories!
What fabulous, talented women you have in your family.
I loved the Flaubert quote, so true, every writer can relate.
Thanks for your post and also the great info to be found on your site. I'm often inspired, I never go away empty handed!
kind regards,



Darling Kristi,

I love your story today...it is always so nice to come here and know that I am reading a real moment in your life. I can just see you squirming in your drivers seat as your minds conjures up all kinds of deamons regarding how you must be the perfect daughter...such a waste of time. I am so proud of you for taking each event in the past few weeks and punching that old devil in the nose as you progress onward toward claiming your power over all forms of worry, inferiority, and the real killer 'practicing the art of pleasing.' PRACTICING THE ART OF LOVE IS SO MUCH MORE FUN...

Where on earth did you find that photo of Marsha and me - if you read the body language there is a story in itself. Of course this was the first few moments that Marsha and I met back in 2003. Marsha in all of her grace and presence was a strong magnet for my type of personality...actually thinking about that just now she reminds me a lot of my Darling Precious Husband John...

I believe just moments before the photo was taken Marsha had just jumped into the pool and completed a few laps...don't think that I didn't learn something from that fearless moment. I do think that you should post that wonderful photo of Marsha and Kip all dressed up for some elegant event that Marsha was chairman of in Sun Valley...while you are at it post the one of Kip and me back in 1967 when Kip's Mom made me take off my long and flowing hairpiece before she would let me out of the door for some event in Seattle. I laugh every time I think of that moment. Poor Annette, bless her heart - she just didn't understand me - and we must always remember this lesson when Max brings home 'THE ONE.'

Marsha and Kip - if you are reading along right now - BIG HUG - I wish I was in Paris with you - maybe next year.




I think the painting is perfect as it is without the frame to detract from it...that's just me, but I prefer to hang paintings without frames.

Judy Feldman

Kristin, I really enjoyed your story today! You conveyed your emotions so beautifully! The paintings are lovely - I can relate to Marsha's style! And the quote by Flaubert is a beauty. I think I remember reading it before. Bon sejour with your Dad and belle-mere!

Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR

Bonjour Kristin,

Great story -- beautiful paintings. Such talented Mothers! I love it!

Stay well!

Sandra Edwards

Hi Kristin!
Great story as always! How many times have we all had that same feeling of despair when we realize that some innocent oversight on our part might cause someone else to feel bad? But you handled it flawlessly and with your unique style of grace as you always do. Also, I really like the picture at the first of your story with the dog in the doorway from the "Town of God". Hope all is well. :-)

Judythe Sieck

Kristen! that photograph is incredible. . . a similar shape is manifested in the door, the dog's head, and the chair. You are a visionary wonder. Judythe

Dad in St Maxime

Kristi... I love the picture of my two wives! Your story was amusing. I know how you fret about other people's feelings. Thanks again for your gracious hospitality, your cooking, and chauffeuring. You are the best.

Ellen A.

Hi, Kristin,
I second Pierre's opinion that you should use the photo that includes your computer, Marsha's painting and the pencil cup (with artful paintbrush)as a book cover in the future. Could be for a later collection you could call "Writing in Provence." I love your Mom's painting with its moody reds and slashes of brighter light on the steps. And Marsha's is absolutely charming. How lucky you all are to have your talents and use them so well.
Ellen from BH
P.S. Love the quote from Flaubert. I'm going to put it in a card to my daughter, who is studying dramatic writing at university. Might we see the French version of the quote in a future Word-A-Day, do you think?

judith dunn

Kristin... Jules is so very right.. Practice the art of loving... not the art of trying to please everyone all the time.... today , this story, and Falubert's quote are the 'wind beheath my wings'... thank you. Judi from Tallahassee


Lovely story, Kristin. Its touched me.
kind regards,


Hi dear Kristin,
Another wonderful story!
You not only have a gift for taking us along with you... suspenseful in how we hope the story concludes (happy endings that leave our hearts wrapped in smiles),but today you showed us all a meaningful lesson in how we can/should/inspire to live together in harmony and compassion. Jules and Marsha are not only beautiful; they also are models to follow in our lives. THANK YOU for sharing them--and yourself!--with us!
Love, Natalia XO

Julie Decker-Steinkraus

Hi Kristin,

You have two moms who are artists? How lucky you are!!

Thanks for another fabulous story,


Diane Fujimoto

Hi, Kristin,
As an artist with a step-mom, I can totally relate to your story and I say, Bravo! for being up-front and honest. Too often we think that to either save face or feelings, we need to cover up something, when it works just the opposite- love the paintings too.

Karen from Phoenix

I was thinking the same thing, how your Dad married two artists. What a beautiful picture of them both.

I just received my father-in-laws paint brushes when I went to NY for a family visit. He is gone just two years and was a wonderful artist. I hope I can do the paint brushes justice.


Priscilla Fleming Vayda

I love both the story and the paintings. I'd go for a frame for each painting, as I like the way a frame finishes off a work of art. Interesting that the two artist/moms have such different styles. One loose and expressive, the other detailed and direct. And good use of color in both.
Kristin, please keep up the good writing and the fantastic photo-taking. Both art in their own right.
Priscilla from La Nouvelle Orleans

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

c'est l'amour qui fait tourner le monde
l'amour fait avancer le monde

Two ideas.

Found this along the way -- no ideas for "love makes the world go 'round", but many other phrases about l'amour

Thanks for a good story of being a hostess.

Susan Carter in Westminster, CA (for Kip)

Love the story, the paintings and the characters. You have two fabulous Mom's (hope to meet Jules someday as I met Marsha at a wine tasting)who are quite talented in more ways than one. I can picture the comedy of errors if you had tried to rectify the frame and paintings - definately a Lucille Ball & I Love Lucy sort of scene.

Lorraine Whitten

I loved this story! I love the painting! It really catches the charm and energy of where you love. Thank you for reminding of my on-going love affair with La Belle France!

Rick Spring

Kristin, your moms are gorgeous, sans whatever! Hope The Chief's grapes make it to Oklahoma someday soon.


Both painting are lovely. You have talented mom's. Yes, I agree to come clean because the truth always finds a way to the surface.


Hello, Great blog!
I am a french lover myself !
Your articles are really inspired.
For those interested i also recommend this website,
enjoy !

Kerry R. Cordis


Friend, Jim,and I will be in Provence in early September. Do you have a "wine tasting" scheduled? Would like to join in. Thanks. Kerry

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