les chiens ne font pas des chats



The old mulberry tree and a mis-mash pistache of chairs beneath. Big, small, creaky and tall--unstable as the weather!

Jean-Marc was right -- everything would work out fine. So when the rain drops began to fall, I carried on, setting up for our 30 guests comme si de rien n'était, as if nothing was amiss.

24, 25, 26... After several aller-retours to the house and back, there were almost enough chairs... Jackie's nightstand was dragged out... It would hold two more people, just throw a couple coussins on top!  I looked down at the cushions which were spotting—plop-plop-plop—with raindrops!

In the end, the chairs remained empty as our guests filed inside. Our kitchen was bigger than it seemed, and our 30 guests were cozy as wet sardines. 

(Note: the pictures and the rest of the text from this story were lost in one catastrophic instant (oh, technology!!!) Read Jean-Marc's note, just below--in the "audio section"--and Smokey's response at the end of this quickly-patched-back-together edition).

pleuvoir (pleuh-vwar)

    : to rain 

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc (who explains what I am too upset to even talk about!) : Download MP3 or Wav file

Et bien, j'allais juste finir une édition complète avec le verbe pleuvoir quand, pour quelques raisons, j'ai fait une fausse manoeuvre et j'ai perdu la totalité du travail que j'ai fait ce matin.

Well, I was just about to finish a full edition with the verb "pleuvoir" when, for some reason, I made a false operation and I lost all the work that I have done this morning.

Maintenant, je pleure mon édition... Now I'm mourning my post...


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

(No updates here today... I am working on the story collection. For those who would like to proofread this next chapter, click here and merci d'avance!)

Le Coin Commentaires

To comment on any item in this edition, thanks for using this link.



Smokey says, "Mama said there'd be days like this, there'd be days like this my momma said! "

That nightstand I told you about. We wouldn't need the improvised seat after all... There's Max, bringing it back inside. P.S. Ever notice how the clouds disappear when the party is over? Have you ever had a surprising change of weather, and had to change your plans?

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On Sunday, we took Nina and 4 of her friends to the beach. The parents looked at us like we were a little crazy, the clouds were hanging low and dark. But by the time we got to the Côte Bleu, the weather had improved enough for our picnic. Sometimes, you just have to go through with your plans. I hope Jean-Marc is feeling better.

Bill Facker

I empathize with the loss of your writing .. just last week I suffered the same consequence after putting to paper what I thought was perfect for the moment .. only to erase everything with one miscalculated movement of the index finger! I don't know what is more frustrating, the act of erasing or those frantic mental acrobatics to recapture the same words and nuances. There may still be merit to owning that ancient machine, the typewriter .... naw, not really :)


thank you for the"one word/day"; I am a franophone searching to learn english! your comments are useful to me!


Haven't experienced the weather thing, and hoping that I don't have to as I'm getting married on 26 May (to an old school friend) and we're praying for good weather for the outdoor family party in the evening.
(Not bad for a couple of 60+ year olds!)


Ps. Love your comments on la vie francaise


That's Max?....holy moly, your "bébé" is no longer un bébé!

Lisa DeNunzio

Oh yes, weather. I am actually getting quite a reputation for planning a party on what turns out to be a 'bad weather day'. Latest was in planning an engagement party for my daughter Lucienne and her now husband John. 60 guests were invited and we were to dine outside, but the weather God's had other ideas. After a torrential downpour we sandwiched all 60 people into the house, scattered around all the rooms. Happily, no one seemed to mind. Seems I am always tempting fate, but then I always have the intrinsic belief, that all will be well, just maybe not the weather. Salve, Lisa

Julie F in St. Louis, MO

I'm so sorry for your loss. I'm so afraid of that one fatal move that I have a very time-consuming process of first typing everything in a Word document then transferring it to my blog. I too have made that ill-timed click.

I love that photo from above. And I thought Max was J-M. He's so big now.

My changing weather story: The only time my family decided to take a Christmas vacation we decided to go to Sedona, AZ. The weather was mild so we needed hats on our Jeep Tour on the second day. The third day was reserved for a bus tour to the Grand Canyon. We arrived and oohed and ahhed as we looked down at that overnight ranch at the bottom and the river and the whole majesty of it. Next was lunch and during lunch it started to snow. By the time we finished lunch the snow was so thick if you didn't know that there was a big hole in the ground you could have walked over the edge. The bus continued on the different stops in the park. Most people on the bus were grumbling, but my family had a grand time snapping pictures and imagining what it looked like, throwing snowballs, etc. We took a different route back to Sedona and in no time we were in an area that was flat and bone dry desert. There was a smattering of snow back in Sedona that paralyzed the city. The guy at the front desk said they never have this much snow this early. The next day most had melted in town so we went on with our hike.

We don't let weather stop us. It was a fabulous day at the Grand Canyon. However, I would like to SEE it some day.

Karen Whitcome  (Towson, Md)

I can't get enough of that Smokey-face!!

Pleuvoir was the word today and I think the story that made it through "pleuvoir" says it all!

I'm a big believer in STTP - Sticking to the Plan but so far the month of May has tested that belief. Lately, the days start out bright and sunny, I skip off to the shower and when I'm clean and ready to hit the deck running the clouds have moved in and another day of rain ensues. (sigh) Around here they say that if you want to know what the weather is - wait 5 minutes.

Karen Whitcome  (Towson, Md)


I'm hosting a pre-prom party for 20 kids and their parents. Fingers (plus toes) are crossed for good weather so that the barrage of parental papparazzi can use the outdoor greenery as their background for pictures before the limo whisks them off to the venue.

My question: Is the French prom scene like ours, here in the States?

Bruce in northwest Connecticut

My wife and I traveled to France in August (1999? 2000? 2001? J'oublie.) to see a total eclipse of the sun. We picked a tiny village in Picardie because it was the dot on the map closest to the line of maximum totality. We also scheduled the trip really poorly, arriving several days before the eclipse, but flying home that day, so we would have to jump in the car the minute the sun returned and dash for the airport in order to — if we were lucky — make our flight.

Two days before the eclipse, we were watching the news in our Paris hotel room. There was a long report from the unknown village we were heading to, where TV cameras were everywhere and grandstands had been set up in the town square to accommodate the tens of thousands of viewers who were expected. We immediately pulled out the map and picked a different insignificant dot in which totality would last almost as long.

When we woke up in that insignificant dot the morning of the eclipse, the sky was completely overcast. After breakfast, the sky was completely overcast. We walked past the town wall, along the river and across the beautiful iron bridge, and the sky remained completely overcast. We headed toward the local charcuterie to buy a picnic lunch, and the sky was completely overcast.

I said to my wife, "We're never going to be able to see anything. We should just go to the airport now and not risk missing the flight." She said she wasn't ready to give up yet.

Over the next 15 minutes we bought meats, breads, and cheeses for our lunch, and I tried to convince my wife we should leave. When we hit the sidewalk again, I looked up. There was a small patch of blue in one corner of the sky.

We walked to the lawn of the ruined 10th-century castle where we spread out our blanket. The sky was definitely clearing. We ate, a few other people showed up, then a few more, and the clouds almost completely disappeared. Then the sun started to disappear, too.

We had an unobstructed view of the entire 45-minute process. As soon as the sun was once again whole, we grabbed up our stuff and sprinted to the car. As we raced to the airport, we listened to the news on the radio. According to the announcer, all of France — all of Europe — had been lost under cloud cover. The tens of thousands of people on the grandstands in that little village saw nothing. No one in France saw anything. The eclipse had moved from northwest to southeast, and the first area of land that had been able to see the sun was apparently in Turkey.

Except for our insignificant dot in Picardie.

We made the flight, too.

mhwebb in NM, USA

I once sat next to a forlorn bride in an airport. Our flight was delayed. We would be missing our connection, but she was missing her wedding! She muttered, "I'm supposed to be getting married right now!" That was in the days before cell phones. She tried calling her fiance and family, but they were all at the church! I have no idea what happened thereafter. Next to her story, all others pale in comparison!

judith dunn

Dear Kristin...

Do not mourn this mornings loss
Our toys are so 'hyper-tech'
We will never be their boss
So stop and enjoy and reflect...

Not to worry... we know that everyone enjoyed being with you and JM in your home that is filled with family love! Judi from Tallahassee.... Carpe Diem!

Mike from Sedgefield

On 25 January 1981 South Africa suffered what became known as "The Laingsburg Flood". It caused havoc in that town and the Karoo generally. We were living in Cape Town and that day, a Saturday, I had arranged a large gathering at our house. The centre piece was the spit-roasting of a whole lamb on an open wood fire. I duly started cooking at midday - spit-roasting takes many hours. By 3pm the first spots of rain appeared and it was obvious that we were in for a wet evening. The lamb and its fire weighed around 100kg and I was at my wits end. Just then, two of the guests called. They had noted the rain and said they would come and erect a tent over a trellis and move the beast. They did and the party was saved!

It was actually the last of a series of annual events, arranged for fellow workers. When they arrived, instead of sitting outside in the balmy summer evening, the rain dictated that 70 guests crowded into our house. Despite this change, or maybe because of it, he event was voted the best of the series.

Audrey Wilson

Despair not Kristin. I have lost letters in this way . In fact I had almost finished my 'Round Robin' Christmas letter (photos & all), clicked on the wrong key & whoosh all was lost !!
Technology eh ? !!

Herm in Phoenix, Az

Salut tout le monde,

Here in Phoenix it has been very dry . . . only a couple of sprinkles this year. So. there were no wild flowers!

Julie F: I’ve hiked the Grand Canyon many times. One time I was coming up from Phantom Ranch where the weather was fine. It’s about a mile elevation change to the top. About half way up it started snowing. First the snow was melting and mixing with the donkey dung left by the mules that transport non-hikers up and down. What a mess! As we went higher, the snow increased and stayed on the ground. Hiking up the rest of the way was quite a challenge on the slippery surface.

I hope you’ll get to see the canyon, even go down in it. It is a memorable experience,

anne wirth

As Judi said, love that Smokey.

The dogs in the outside photo don't look upset about the rain! They just see it as something interesting happening. Oh, that we could feel that way.
See, the rain and your wine tasting created a very good story.
My motto for these happenings, "go with the flow" - into the house.

Ophelia in Nashville

Been there.... What a great supporter you have in Jean-Marc. And thanks for the expression "une fausse maneouvre." There are few things more frustrating!


Pleuvoir...I must distinguish this between the verb "to cry"! I do not want to rain about something sad and have the clouds crying!



THERE HAVE BEEN DAYS WHEN I WANTED TO THROW THIS #$%!#D (stupid) computer across the room...I feel your pain and frustration.
I do hope you will rest and follow up with some photo's of everyone on Friday....I love to see everyone's happy faces drinking Rouge-Bleu.

I laugh when I remember all the times I have cried on your shoulder about my brilliant lost posts - of course it was always the 'brilliant' ones that disappeared. You would always reply, 'Mom, when are you going to learn to do (blah-blah-blah - some formula you would rattle off which I could never understand).

I imagine your Dad and his beautiful wife Marsha will be arriving soon, I'm sure you are also stressed about trying to create an illusion that 'you finally have your act together'. I always remember when my wonderful mom would come to visit when you and Heidi were little girls....I would give you each giant green garbage sacks and we would stuff half the house in the storage shed...then later on we would forget all about those sacks only to discover them months later.

I can see in the top photo that the vines are all covered with bright green leaves and your little garden is coming to life...soon the table under the tree will be surrounded with happy sunflowers. I wonder if all of your friends realize that you all spend everyday out under that lovely tree....whenever I long for your company I picture us settled in under the tree....why haven't we ever given the tree a name?

I can't believe I am missing the opportunity to meet all of your friends.



Kristin Espinasse

Catching up, now, with these lovely comments. I have been out driving with Max, who needs 3000 hours of drive time.... 

Mom, thanks for the treasured memories. I will be filling up those same sacks... as Dad arrives tomorrow! (This time the sacks need to be filled with weeds--but I do not think I will get to that chore!) Love your stories Mom. Please keep them coming.

TRAN, welcome! So happy to have a Francophone reader to keep us on our toes :-)

Thanks to those who shared their weather stories and for the empathy for my lost post. Mom, I will now quit rolling my eyes when you lose yours -- because you did not listen to my tips on how not to lose a post! Time to follow my own advice.

Ian, Félicitations!!!

Karen, as far as I know, they do not have proms here. Can anyone else shed light on this topic?

Thanks, Angelique. Do I need to add to the definition? (My brain is foggy and I am unsure!) 

Karen from Phoenix

Love that Smokey face! xoxo


To Bruce:
The eclipse was in August 1999. We chased it through Austria and Germany, finally stopping right in the middle of the autobahn near Munich as the clouds parted to give us our glimpse of the total eclipse. Glad you got to see it in Picardie.


Hi dear Kristin,
Another wonderful slice of life that your fortunate readers are lucky to share!
Be it rain on the party or mad/frustrated/sad at the way the computer manages to delete your hard work(!),you come through it all with a smile on your beautiful face--and an example for the rest of us in dealing with this stuff with humor and grace.
Love, Natalia XO

Jacqueline Butler

We were having before-dinner drinks on the main square in Avignon. Very suddenly the sky became cloudy, the wind picked up, and the rain came down in buckets. We headed for the interior (postage stamp in size) along with many other patrons. How our waiter ever got our correct order to us in the chaos, we'll never figure out. I guess French waiters are the true professionals we had been led to believe them to be!

Stephen Mehay


Je me demandais s'il y aura une degustation de vin le semaine de 21 Mai au 26 Mai.
Merci d'avance.


joie/carmel-by-the-sea, ca.

Rain/sun/fog.......I can have sun on one side of the house and fog on the other. Sometimes it just decides to stop like a block away...and of course there are the times when the sun is shinning and it is raining. But I have finally decided....rain is just water ....isn't it?

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
I loved your Mom's post. Whenever company is coming over I always rush around clearing off counters, tables, etc. I have this wonderful old trunk I found at a flea market in Germany and I hide all the clutter in there. I seem to forget I stashed things there. I have found old bills and things.
I like the hodge podge of chairs in the photo and cute little Smokey!


Je suis d'accord avec Maman Braise qui dit "there'd be days like this!". For just a while ago, after I had finished a long letter to my dear friend and, par etourderie, I clicked on le bouton DELETE instead of SEND!

And I also relate to your dear mama Jules. I would often dump all mess in a huge plastic bag when I expected company. Then, afterward, I would go...crazy, looking for missing items. Very often, I had to pay late charge because of unpaid bills.
I can never learn! :-(

Pat, Roanoke, VA

Oh, cher Smokey R. Dokey, tu es si charmant! Here, this is a nice tasty treat, quick, eat fast and I will find another!

I, too, have disappeared hours worth of work with one fell mis-swoop on the keyboard! Foul dog!! (What I really say is worse!) It is maddening, disheartening, and a stark reminder of the "dangers" of technology. Ah the good ol' days of pen and ink, pad and paper, but then we were not "connected" as now with the internet. Our gains are greater than our losses, most times. I am just so happy to have your wonderful blog to visit. Mille mercis for all your efforts.

Teresa person

I am having a garden luncheon in my back yard in 2 weeks.... And am already worrying about what will happen weather wise. I am on vacation in Ireland right now and am mentally counting all the chairs I can use outside instead of sheep.....hoping there are enough for 30+ people....will share how it went....Tessie

Leslie Sorensen-Jolink

Smokey, I think I must be related to you...we have the same facial expressions and sense of adventure. Next time the Chief Grape comes to Portland, Oregon, come with him and we will take you on a romp through the 40 miles of trails in Forest Park!

Henry the Golden Retriever, with his brother Bob the Long-Haired Dachshund


I was in Paris on a study program with fellow Americans and a small group of us decided to visit Pere Lachaise to hunt for Jim Morrison's grave.

After we found his grave it immediately started raining steadily. A nearby mausoleum had a rusty door which was standing ajar. We took refuge from the rain inside the mausoleum and I tried not to think about the loose stones underneath my feet which might crumble and drop me onto a pile of bones.

Marianne Rankin

I have lost documents, too - and when my hard drive crashed a couple of years ago - lost almost everything. Some people I know now have online backup of their files.

To try to reduce the risk of losing things, I save constantly. I have the computer set to save every 5-10 minutes, but I manually save oftener than that. And there are times when I will, say, draft a fairly long e-mail in Word, then copy it to the e-mail when it's in final form. That way, if the message doesn't go through, I can try again.

We all appreciate the effort to produce the blog, which is undoubtedly much more work behind the scenes than we are likely to be aware of.

My rain story:

I was a senior Girl Scout, and several troops were spending a week in a national forest doing service work. It rained a lot, and water had accumulated in the tent flap that was raised at the ends by two poles to keep the tent open, and to provide a shelter for the Scouts as they sat at a picnic table underneath. We had just set the table with plates, utensils, and food, and somehow one of the poles was bumped. The flap fell down, releasing gallons of water which washed everything on the table onto the ground. We did our best to follow the rule about "A Scout is cheerful" after that.

Linda Casey

To sum up you loss: BLEH!!!!!!! BAHHHHHH!!! PFFFFFFF!!!

Gail Wolstenholme

Hi Kristin & Jean-Marc

Well we're back in the UK today and it's raining here too. What a fab day we had wine tasting on Wednesday, quite memorable, and our friends Rowland and Barbara also relished the day, despite the rain. We tasted some fine wines; learnt some facinating wine facts, and met some very friendly and interesting people! What could be nicer! It was so lovely to see you both again, and your gorgeous doggies! Sorry we didn't get to see Max and Jackie, but hey, I'm sure there will be a next time. Fingers crossed! Thank you for a lovely afternoon. Hope to see you for dinner at Chez Nous in September. All our love, Gail and Mike Wolstenholme. UK.

PS. I will send you details of how to get to our place in Loriol nearer the time.


Ha... a typical day in the Pacific Northwest, I am afraid.... We carry on no matter the weather, using the old Scandinavian saying "no bad weather, just bad clothing."

I am working in a special ed classroom and was leading a discussion on planning. I said "what do we need to fly a kite," thinking along the lines of string and a kite. One boy piped up "a raincoat!" 'Nuff said.

Malou Cole

Kristi, I was a bit delayed at reading your posts but I thought I'd add my grain of sel and tell one story of my own about rain arriving mal a propos.
We had planned our wedding in Wisconsin in the gazebo by the lake. We had repainted the structure, set up the chairs for the guests and the table for the Minister.
At 3AM I woke up to the sound of heavy rain pelting the windows and I knew we had a "situation" on our hands.
I woke up Joe and we raced out to get the chairs into our screened-in porch. That would have to do for the ceremony. Later that early morning I called a friend from across the lake who cut armloads full of flowers from her garden to decorate the porch. We were ready for the rainy ceremony, but at the precise moment when the Minister asked me "the question", I glanced at a hanging basket right in front of my eyes outside and burst out laughing. That poor pot hadn't received any water in ages and was very sad looking. I couldn't shake off the crise de fou-rire, and my maid of honor followed suit. Pretty soon the whole assistance was laughing and it took the Minister a little bit of coaching before we could resume our serious affair.
Our rainy wedding will never be forgotten.

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