Unlucky in French
A friend's gone missing. Please help. disparu - appel à témoins - avis de recherche

Say "Pink Flamingo" in French + Reverse culture shock

Sunflower and pink flamingo
Sunflowers--and come see the exotic pink bird in our garden... at the next wine tasting here at Mas des Brun, August 6th. We hope to see you! Contact [email protected] for details.

le flamant rose (flamahn rowz)

    : pink flamingo

Audio File: listen to today's word and example sentence, read by Jean-Marc: Download MP3 or Wave file

Flamant Rose. En Camargues, les flamants roses sont des espèces protegées. Pink Flamingo. In the Camargue, pink flamingos are a protected species..

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE… by Kristin Espinasse

"Reverse Culture Shock"

After missing the London-Nice connection, Jackie’s bag made it all the way home from Denver! My 16-year-old was sleeping off her long voyage when Chronoposte arrived with the beat-up valise, but when Jackie awoke her first instinct was to ask for that bag.

“It’s in the garage, Sweety. Have Max carry it up for you.” I left my daughter to root through her suitcase (sur place, for there was apparently no time to wait for her brother!). Moments later I heard a knock on my bedroom door.

“Mom, there’s a surprise for you in the garden….” Jackie said, wearing that crooked smile her father wears when he’s up to something.

I couldn’t help but wonder what my husband (assuming he was in on this) had installed, erected, or otherwise “fashioned” in the backyard. Would it be pleasing to the eye? Would it involve a thick band of silver tape as so many of his solution-inventions do?

Climbing the stone steps beside the garage I followed the girl in cutoffs, my heart swelling as her ponytail swept from side to side. How Jackie had changed in four weeks, after spending time with my sister and family in Colorado and Idaho!

“Mom. I need to take the TOEFL test. I want to go to the University of Colorado, in Boulder!” she announced, almost as soon as her plane landed….

TOEFL? Boulder? Go away from home? But that was a few years away! For now we were here together, here in a garden in the south of France--here on a treasure hunt! My eyes scanned the verger, its floor covered with paille. But nothing looked out of the ordinary … there was the comfrey and the row of chives I’d recently planted, the little plants leaning out of their toilet-paper roll jackets (which were supposed to eventually compost, according to the experts).

With an anxious motioning from my daughter, I moved on to Sector Two, where four raised beds made of local stone held a chaotic forest of herbs and vegetables. “Say ‘hot’ or ‘cold’, and help me find it!” I begged, when suddenly a bright something to my right began drenching my peripheral vision, in pink!


Turning, my eyes met a plastic pink flamingo.

"It’s from Heidi," Jackie pointed out.

Well, that was odd, I thought, staring at the unnatural object. Sort of kitch! Normally my sister has better taste than that. 

It would be necessary to hide the thing. But would I remember to pull it out when my sister came to visit? In the words of Walter Scott, “Oh! What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.” No! The whole scenario was too complicated. I’d have to fess up, and let my sister know that this one was a bomb. Not at all my style.

“Heidi said you would understand,” Jackie smiled, eager to know my thoughts.

Understand? Now it was I rooting through the pockets of my mind’s valise, trying to make associations. Pink flamingo… understand… pink flamingo? Little beads of sweat formed over my brow as I came close to failing The Recognition Test.

Was it something to do with our childhood, Heidi's and mine? My mind raced back to the Arizona desert, where coyotes and quail, and rattlesnakes roamed. Were there pink flamingos, too?

“Mom!” Jackie’s impatience woke me from my reverie. “Heidi said it’s something you (you Americans) do. You put these in people’s gardens … to surprise your friends! 

My mind began to perk up and I was back on the streets of Phoenix, rolls of toilet paper in hand, laughing with a gaggle of girls as we played a prank on a friend. Once the cactus and the citrus trees and the mesquites in the front yard were covered … we’d leap out of the yard and run like bandits.

I vaguely remembered an occasional pink flamingo in those desert gardens, but it never registered then (at 12-years-old). Except in retrospect. Yes, it was another kind of prank! Not the kind kids were good at (owing to the expense of the plastic birds.). Toilet paper could easily be stolen from the bathroom!

It was surreal, standing there in my garden, listening to my French daughter teach me a lesson in American Pop Culture. Surreal may well be the definition of reverse culture shock: when something is so intimately familiar to you that you can’t recognize it at all.

"You mean out of all the stuff you bought in America, you managed to cram a giant flamant rose in your suitcase?"

"Aunt Heidi helped me," Jackie shrugged her shoulders and that crooked smile was back.

As we gazed at the kitchy pink bird, I threw my arm around my daughter and broke out into what the French call a fou rire—a serious case of the giggles. That sister of mine. She’s priceless. And so is this cheap pink flamingo!

Would you keep the pink flamingo--and “own it” when your French compatriots come to visit, questioning your sense of style? Or would you plant it in your neighbor’s garden, and so introduce the prank to French culture--which seems to have its own version: garden gnomes! Click here to comment.



Not everybody is thrilled with this new arangement. Some are getting their feathers ruffled over it! A pink imposter?

Pink flamingo and corn
Breizh is not happy with the new setup either, and is remembering a sarcastic French expression: Tout nouveau tout beau (A new broom sweeps clean). Harrumph! Time to chew on an ear of corn, if ever it will grow.

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Deboarh Auclair

In Massachusetts (not sure if elsewhere), the pink flamingo has been used as a fund raiser. I have woken to find a pink flamingo on my lawn with a note stating "you have been flocked". Inside the note which suspends from the neck in a protective ziplock bag is the explanation. If one chooses to give, a check can be left inside the ziplock bag. Then in the middle of the night the flamingo "flies away".

joie in carmel-by-the-sea

You know of course you are going to get flack from someone about calling "Rosy" kitsch. I am not sure which is worse; that or a gnome. Personally, I have nice things in my garden.....like a very old hiking boot with flowers, a couple of concrete geese, oh and there is the cast head my sister made in college 40 years ago that ends up with oxalis growing out of her head. But I would have to draw the line with "Rosy". Have fun with it. Decorate her for holidays, or you could paint her sort of a grey color and pretend she is an egret or heron.

Lucy Ann Wines

Here, it is a birthday surprise and not one but many! What a ruckus it caused in a neighborhood where they are not allowed.
If your daughter does go to U of C, she will love it. I graduated from there and wish there had not beeen so many nurses who wanted to live in Boulder.


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. To me, it's the thought that counts. The flamand rose will remind you of Heidi and Jackie, who took the time and had fun planning the surprise for you. I would also be tempted to give it a quick spray paint of another color, like the writer above suggested.

Brenda Prowse

Hello Kristin,
I love the fun of the pink flamingo and would definitely introduce it to your neighbors! I am sure that they will enjoy the joke and want to "pass it on". After my friend and I watched the movie Amelie some years back, a gnome appeared in my garden. It always receives laughs and curious comments. Glad that Jackie and her valise are both home safely.

Hattee Christian

You must keep it, just as it is!
If you don't, you'll wake up in the night 10 years from now, screaming, "Why didn't I keep it? How could I have done that?!!!"

All you have to say is, "It was a gift from someone I love."


there must be something universal about teens and flamingos as gifts for Mom...my 15 yr old son gave me one on a certain birthday, but he made it himself out of wood and it still stands every summer 5' high guarding our hollyhocks

Sackville, NB Canada


I love it and would keep it for sure. But then I have no sense of style - which surely does simplify this sort of situation.


Love the pink flamingo!


Keep it! if only as a piece of your sister there with you in your garden. It may be gaudy pink kitsch, for sure, but it is also rather fun!

Nan Morrissette

Since it is difficult, even in north central Florida, to lure the REAL flamingos to my yard, I think the plastic ones are an acceptable sub-species. What is wrong with kitsch? I love kitsch. It is a good test to be sure a new acquaintance has sufficient sense of humor.

One day, driving around our stepford-ish community, I saw my favorite lawn ornament arrangement of all time, a row of quite large, highly colored statures: The Virgin Mary and The Seven Dwarfs. Delightful!

Tammy Straub

Yes keep it, explain to friends it's an american joke passed on from your sister. Easy peasy. Its a great story and you'll be teaching something. Plus you'll think warm thoughts of them both when you look at it. Ps, when jackie is ready to explore further south, we'll still be here at Lake Powell and she'll be most welcome!

Karen W - Towson, Maryland

One of our Baltimore filmmakers, John Waters (Hairspray) made a movie called "Pink Flamingos" in the early 70's. There is an area here (Hampden) where the pink flamingo rules, ever since. You see them everywhere - on buildings, in yards & even as hats. Yes, very kitschy. Maybe you have a kitschy garden to put it in??

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
You can buy a pack of 2 flamingos on Amazon. Start a trend in your neighborhood. I love the fundraiser idea that Deborah mentioned. My sister in law woke up on her birthday to find a bunch of them in her yard with balloons. I'm glad Jackie got her bag back!

Terry Cobb

Keep it for sure, just as it is. When anyone asks about it simply give them a crooked smile and say it's a long story!

Chris Allin

I'll bet Heidi is having a good chuckle!

Nancy Stilwagen

Yes, keep it. It seems the plants will mostly hide it, in any case. And due to the nature of plastic, it probably won't last more than a few years.


Before I retired, the graphic art and publications arm of a Department of Defense agency was one of my clients. They were located on a big Army base outside Washington DC, and it was easy to find their building because in the flower bed outside were two pink flamingos. Leave it to a bunch of artists and writers to express their collective personality on a military post!

Keep your pink flamingo. It has true retro chic.

Catharine Ewart-Touzot

My sister would give me one..hasn't yet but this is something that she would do..would I keep it in my yard..if I lived where she would see it I would..because I love her and because as she would have given it as a joke, and I would turn the joke so that she would see it daily/often...oh how beautiful/wonderful is the gift you gave me..I once gave her some flamingo plastic plates. Now if I were, like you are, living in a France, in a world that has very different jokes I don't know if I would,having to explain and bringing yet another "American" joke to France; except now your daughter is involved..and that changes the equation..she will tell her friends about this strange American joke..and if you move it you will become to her or in telling the story to her friends the person who is not willing to play the game. I guess it must stay, and as time goes on become a bit of that strange American world left behind..and people will see it and smile..for one reason or another.


bien sur, chaque jardin a besoin d'un flamant rose!

Pat Cargill

Ooh! You must keep it, prominantly displayed! It is an hororable, fun-filled garden tradition, the joke of jokes, the ultimate statement of gardening freedom! Perhaps it could move from place to place, within your beautiful gardens, even coming inside for harsh wintertime. I have put one at the top of the Christmas tree for years! You are so fortunate, dear Kristin, to have received this touch o' pink! Cheers!

Cynthia Lewis (Eastern Shore of Maryland)

By all means, keep this special flamingo which traveled all the way from Colorado in Jackie's suitcase! You could plant some bright pink flowers nearby to help him/her blend in with your garden. Bon week-end.

alicia brown matthes

your post made me giggle, as I just came across two old concrete flamingos that are not pink, but a worn white. We are collecting some pink ones now, as they are going on sale, to place in a friend's yard. She surprised us this spring with our front yard surrounded by flamingos as we arrived home from our travels in France. Yes, a little kitsch goes a long way, but it can be amusing! The fun is in the planning of it all!

Cyndie - Columbia, Maryland

Karen, I’ve lived in and around Baltimore since 1987 and never knew the history of Hampden’s flamingos. How ironic to find out through Kristin’s French blog—small world… Kristin, I’m not into kitsch but I like the splash of pink in your garden and I think it makes a great conversation piece. I would keep it at least until it starts to weather and look really tacky, in which case you could either justifiably toss it or repaint it to its original brilliance.

Cindy McDonald

Following is an interesting article concerning our affinity for plastic flamingos down 'heah in da swamps.'


An excerpt from Joceyln Donlon's article:
"When I hear 'pink flamingos,' I think of Spanish Town, my historic, delightful, kind of quirky neighborhood in downtown Baton Rouge, at the foot of the New State Capitol. Spanish Town is historic because it is the oldest neighborhood in Baton Rouge...founded in 1805, two years after the Louisiana Purchase. Residents are often interesting artists, writers, teachers, actors, and musicians. There are also politicians, lawyers, doctors, and many college students renting apartments. Back in 1981 the residents decided to 'celebrate their difference' by starting their own Mardi Gras parade, mocking people in positions of authority. A different theme each year allows the floats to make political commentary, or even to be 'tacky.' The pink flamingo is considered to be the neigborhood's mascot. Plastic flamingos are often called 'kitsch' by American society. However, some people, with a different aesthetic, prefer 'kitsch'! In Spanish Town, we really like 'kitsch'." Laissez les Bons Temps Rouler !

Jon-lynnette Charpentier

Mais porquoi pas? Guarde le. La Rose Flamant fait un bon eclat du coleur dans un jardin.

Bonnie Powers

Our daughter Darien graduated from U of C Boulder many years ago and would do anything to be able to live in the South of France! You're lucky Jackie didn't gift you the U of C mascot because then you'd have a large Buffalo minding your jardin!

Gail Lentz

What a special memory you'll have every time you see it! Colorado is captivating. My oldest son moved there five years ago. He lives north of Boulder about 20 min. I just found out yesterday my sister will be moving near there, too! I would even go myself, but too many ties and roots here in AZ. :-) enjoy your pink gift from the U.S!


It could be worse. An (adult) friend of mine once installed a pink flamingo in the garden of a fastidious friend while she was on vacation. They set it in cement.

Then there is this from the University of Wisconsin in 1979:


Ronnie Hess

The plastic pink flamingo apparently is the City of Madison (Wisconsin) official bird. The affection for it began at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. For more, including dozens of flamingos on campus, see http://photos.uc.wisc.edu/photos/15633/view

Cheryl from Denver

It's fabulous in all of it's kitschy-ness! Bet no one there has one! I'd keep it just as it is!


I say keep it... as a constant reminder of your roots! Kitchy or not... that guy/gal is awesomeness! How thoughtful too!

Betty Jacob

We have a fundraiser for our church youth group. If you don't get bird insurance, you can get flocked and have to pay to get rid on the flamingos. You can also pay to have one of your friends flocked. It is fun and at the end of our harsh winters a welcome sight. I prefer my sole peacock pot holder in my garden. Keep the flamingo and go for pranks, or display when you need some color outside.


I love the eclectic in my home or garden, and a touch of kitsch (be it flamingos or gnomes) can be endearing. In Ashland, OR one year a family had their two pink flamingos stolen from the front yard. A week later they started receiving post cards from the flamingos with photos of exotic places they had flown to. It was in the paper and very funny. Just sharing. . .

S. Hotchkiss

I'd not only keep it, I'd name it! There might even be outfits!

Bill in St. Paul

I'd keep it, it's a great conversation starter. Years ago, for a friend's 50th birthday we (his friends?) put 50 small pink flamingos in his front yard at 7am, rang the doorbell, and sang "Happy Birthday" to him. (We didn't buy the "birds", there was a place that would rent them, cheaper than buying.)




A flamingo showed up on our lawn on my husband's 30th birthday, though it was a year before we found out who did it. Then, when we lived in Michigan, there was a company that would put 40 flamingos on your front lawn overnight, plus a banner, for a 40th birthday. My husband had never heard of the service; he loved the joke (and we put hats on the flamingos and took lots of photos of our little girls next to them) but was visibly relieved when I said we had to finish our fun by noon, as that was the pick-up time: he thought I had purchased all 40 and wondered what we would do with them. To this day, we have a flamingo in our sunroom as a reminder (and most birthdays we find him a shirt or a greeting-card that carries more flamingos - he loves it! So, yes, keep it ;-) and explain the fun of silly pranks that say "I'm thinking of you."


I would be happy to show Jackie around CU-Boulder. I have worked in Norlin Library for almost 40 years and know the place inside-out. Maybe she and the flamingo would like to come and take a swim in the new buffalo-shaped outdoor pool!


Boulder, CO

Karen from Phoenix

I would keep it. It is a great conversation piece and will make you smile every time you look at it.

How fun!



I think that you should spread the American culture, and plant it in a neighbors yard! You never know who needs a good laugh. It could also be a start to a new friendship!

I'm in Arizona as well, and when my daughter was fund raising to go on a study abroad trip, we purchased 12 pink flamingos, and hung a sign on their necks that said "If you would like my owner to remove us from your yard, please contact Leah daughter's name and phone #) to make a $10 donation for her study abroad trip OR if you want my owner to come plant us in your neighbors yard you can donate $20.00.

Of course, we had many phone calls and many after dark flamingo plantings! What a fun time with my daughter and we got to know many neighbors that way too!

Bless you and I can't wait to hear where your flamingo ends up!



Keep Rosie the flamingo! She is a splash of love-color in your garden. Think of all the joy & care that went into the planning & execution of this gift. Also explains Jackie's distress at the loss of her bag. Besides, whimsy is good for the soul.

Kathleen from Connecticut

Ken, thank you for the link to Madison, Wisconsin's flamingos. Amazing!
One morning we found 2 flamingos in our yard.We'd been flocked by friends to whom we that given some logs. Well they stayed In our gardens for a while,moving here and there. A neighbor stopped by and said the she would never have one in her garden. We cherished it for a while and then one night we returned it to it's rightful owner. Now I wishI had it back.She died of cancer a few months ago.
The police department in the neighboring town got flocked one day. It just put a smile on your face as you drove by.
Yes it's kitsch, but as others stated,put it among some pink flowers or move it often and some days it might just hide in a far away garden. It will always remind you of your sister.
Aren't you glad that Jackie got her suitcase back?
No flamingos in Connecticut...

joie in carmel-by-the-sea

Well, it is quite obvious that you must keep her. American's do have a sense of humor. Perhaps you could get J-M to build a little pond for her to stand in.
My niece went of U of C in Boulder. The only bad thing is that she never moved back home. The good thing is we get to go visit there and Boulder is a sweet place to be. A real sense of community for a town that size.

Nancy Milburn

Pass it on! Share the fun...we need more laughs in our lives.

Another zonie reading your stories!


In my part of Florida it is called "getting Flocked" and usually 50-100 flamingos are put in someone's yard to mark a memorable date, century birthday or such. Then whomever puts them there usually comes a day or two later and removes the, as they are often a rental, for the big collections, not just the odd one or two.

Linda R.

If I see a pink flamingo in someone's yard, I know that it's a birthday gift-for-the-day, and they in turn will pass it on accordingly to an unsuspecting friend. It always brings a smile to the passersby.

Robin Lewin

By all means, keep your pink flamingo. Just look at the bit of color it adds to you garden. I love it! Of course, I'm from Las Vegas, what do I know?


Our dear Kristi,
I admit I'm not a (live)flamingo fan(after seeing them at SeaWorld in SanDiego),but we all have our own special taste and considering that this guy is a gift from Heidi,I think you should definitely keep it.Remembering your toilet paper escapade will always wrap you in hug when you need it most!
Another wonderful post!
Thank you!
Natalia. xo


When I lived in Montana, the Jr class at the high school started a fund raiser. It was would you believe a flock of Pink Flamingo's! The idea was to send them to a friend with some kind of note( to be posted in their front yard) happy birthday, or whatever. The class left their note that said "You have been flocked" It cost $20.00 to send to a friend and $ 10.00 to have it removed. As you can guess it was a real money maker. They paid for their whole senior trip that way! Just a little side note eight kids graduated that year, but they had a great senior trip! I would keep it, because every time you see it, you will giggle and think of how much you love your sister.


Who cares who anyone might think? I love the pink flamingo and it gives a special exotic character to your potager. Display it with price because it's priceless.

Jim Anderson

Please learn the difference between "it's" and "its"! After all, you are a published author.

(which seems to have it’s own version: garden gnomes!)

Faye Stelly

My neighbor was given a pink flamago...she didn't like it but kept it ...it is still there...she didn't understand meaning of it either.

I gave my son & his wife a solar powered owl, symbolic of a live owl that used to perch on pole overlooking their backyard but then stopped coming...was good conversation piece until storm destroyed it...maybe the same thing will happen to your pink flamago! Bonne chance!

Luann Marie

Every gift is a treasure.

Betsy Shequine

I would keep it happily. It is fun, will start conversations, will remind you of your sister, and will remind others that you are (mostly) a light-hearted, fun-loving person!


She could have brought you a whole flock and something bigger, too.


Rachel LeBlanc

You must keep it. It's a symbol of care and love from your sister and your daughter. Nuff said!

M. Scott

I'm with Rachel LeBlanc and all the rest of the keepers. it's a touch of color, but also a remembrance of your sister. It's by far "classier" to keep it than to throw it away!


It's the sort of thing some French people going to Florida on a winter break would bring back as a souvenir. Make a little pond/bird bath for it with a basin surrounded with moderate size rocks. You could add a goldfish or two for additional fun. (In real life, of course, the bird would make short work of the fish.) Funky. Fun. A garden surprise. Laura

Mary Ann

In Paris this past May the pink flamingo was the newest craze to decorate the vitrine of the boutique, Antoine et Lili on the canal St.-Martin. They aren't so cheap. They are more in vogue than you might think. For me they're a little pink reminder of Florida.

P.S. I got my master's degree from C.U. Boulder. It's a great school sitting at the bottom of a fish bowl...unless Jackie's interests change from "fashion" to another major you have no worries.


CU Boulder is a wonderful school! My parents and my older brother went there, and I graduated from its sister school in Colorado Springs. If that is still where she wants to go in a couple of years, it is definitely a good choice :-)

edie schmidt


The pink flamingo is something to smile about. I actually sent my Colorado sister a garden gnome. We were just out in the Denver area visiting family in June. I can see the attraction to Boulder. We always enjoy our visits. We love the mountains and the cooler temps in the summer. Both my sister and her husband are artists. They have done some lovely watercolors and drawings of the area.
Good luck to Jackie, whatever she decides.
I'm glad she got her luggage back!

Edie from Savannah

Pat Cargill

I imagine our published author does know the difference between it's and its, just as I know about those quotation marks. Perhaps a typo or two could be overlooked by the ever-vigilant grammer police. It wouldn't kill ya! Or maybe it would. Who nose?!

Vivian Langley

I would hide it from everyone. I would like to tell you how I wish I could come to the wine-tasting.Please tell us all about it and have a glass for me.

Cynthia Lewis (Eastern Shore of Maryland)

I'm too busy being entertained by Kristin's telling of her thoughts and experiences to pay much attention to typos and such. I agree with your thoughts, Pat. Few people have the gifts which Kristin has.


What a fun, unique gift! I think the pink flamingo looks great in your garden.


Haahahhahaa!!!! Don't you love silly sisters and daughters!!
(watch out...might pop over and wrap it in loo paper... :-) )


Also....your garden looks really beautiful..so much work!

Jan  Hersh

I have a feeling that you will find the perfect place for it. And that it will be featured again on your marvelous blog.

Chris Allin

Bravo, Pat! Well said...and you made me laugh!


Funny, fun, and a conversation piece...

Leslie in Oregon

I would keep the flamant rose, which looks beautiful with the borage in your garden. Here is Portland, where we eschew snobbery in any form, we love flamants roses and garden gnomes. We have a garden gnome who has slept peacefully in our rockery (probably startling a garter snake occasionally) for 29 years. He is not for passersby...he is for us, as he never fails to bring a chuckle when he reveals himself among the ferns. We don't have a flamingo, but that is just because I'm not much for acquiring stuff. If someone gave one to me, I'd be delighted...it would look gorgeous in our Pacific rainforest back garden. Please don't paint yours...a flamingo's glory is its incredible color!

Sharon Auckerman

Ooo! I see a lot of people commented. I am impressed with that. I think you should keep it. I think it is a good laugh and a funny story to tell. It also makes a wonderful companion for the duck.

Joanna Kamburoff

Of course you must keep it. You must embrace the flamingo. I'm sure it is totally unexpected by everyone in your neighborhood (including you) but you should not be afraid of doing the unexpected. It's fun.


Kristin, those pink flamingos are enjoying a bit of a tongue-in-cheek come-back. They are being used as fund-raisers, jokes and just to bring smiles to faces.

I think anyone who has a pink flamingo in their yard is simply showing they are fun-loving and don't take themselves overly seriously! My vote . . . keep it, just as it is! It will make you smile and think of your and your sister's youthful escapades and Jackie's delight in bringing it back to you every time you see it! I agree with the others . . . it's just plain fun! :)


For my 60th birthday, a friend set 60 plastic flamingos in my front yard on the day we were having the birthday party.

Ellen A.

"It's" is a contraction of "It is" with the apostrophe taking the place of the "i."
Like "isn't" is a contraction of "is not," with the apostrophe taking the place of the "o."
"Its" is actually the possessive form, meaning "belonging to it." For example, "The pink flamingo holds up its leg while resting."
I know it is confusing, when we use the apostrophe to show the possessive in many instances: "Kristin's dogs are Blaise and Smokey," but you can't go wrong if you always test "it's" by reading it as "it is."
In today's story, Kristin is using the phrase correctly: "It's from Heidi" reads "It is from Heidi."
I always feel sad when people who have been taught these grammar lessons improperly insist on correcting others. Where in the world did their teachers learn their English?
My other pet peeve (taught incorrectly too) is when people say "for him and I" and think they are being correct because it sounds awkward. No! It is incorrect! You say " He and I bought the pink flamingo" (because "I bought the pink flamingo" and "He bought the pink flamingo.")
However, one says, "He bought it for him" and "He bought it for me," because the words are the object of the word "for."
The only way to really understand this stuff is to study Latin or diagram sentences, but please let's (let us) not confuse dear Kristin when she is getting it right!
Re: the pink flamingo - be happy that Jackie is trying to learn some of the tongue-in-cheek humor of the States. I agree with the suggestion of making the flamingo her own little area to preside over, perhaps with a koi pond - but off to the side, just for fun.

Kitty Wilson-Pote

Such fun, the whole rigmarole to do with pink plastic flamingoes! The previous owners of my 'new' home were what we call Canadian Snowbirds of advanced age, so I was not too astonished to find two properly outrageous pink plastic leggy fowls in the back corner of the garden. They stayed there all winter, and I grew some affection for them. They are still there, only now the burgeoning hosta plants have covered them up. Yes, they are something I point out to visitors as a secret piece de resistance of this abode! You have only to name yours, Kristi, to introduce it to all comers as a stowaway in Jackie's luggage on her journey home! After all, there is a worldwide community of these preposterous pink things with their unique cachet! Love it.

Kitty Wilson-Pote

Forgot to explain what a Canadian Snowbird is, in case the term is new to you: a citizen of this wintry nation who heads to Florida USA for the cold months, returning north only once springtime is beginning!

Judy Liddington

I was delighted to see your flamingo -- I have one just like it as well as several others, large and small (faded from the sun or bright pink still). DH just requires they remain in the back yard where friends gather and don't invade the front yard where decorum (hah) still reigns.
Judy L.

Leslie NYC

This post really brought out the opinionated ones! I feel right at home with them. As I get older, I welcome any chance to take myself and life less seriously. I have plastic toys I have found on the beach in my bathroom, including a purple and green Incredible Hulk. They are nestled in among "tasteful" seashells.
In the same vein, taking things less seriously means that you can also thoroughly embrace the gift, enjoy it, and give it away in a week or a year. You can do what you like, acknowledge the fun sentiment, but not over-think it!

Christine Cormack

Kristi, keep the Flamingo. You will smile every time you see it and remember Jackie and your sister planning a little joke on you. And the fun they had doing it.
And don't worry about what visitors think! It is much more tasteful than the swans which people make out of old tyres here in Australia.
The plants will grow up around it and you won't even see it after a while. Who knows?
Ne soit pas snob, chérie! :-)
Best wishes!
Brisbane, Australia

Mary Deignan

Perhaps it could remain standing until the Mistral comes along to blow it into a neighbor's property???

Karen Whitcome  (Towson, Md)

Now, there's visual, Mary! haha

Yes, VERY small planet, Cyndie from Columbia, MD!

Trina, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

So many opinions about the flamingo! Who knew one little plastic bird would cause such a brouhaha! Perhaps Kristi's sister?

I am not fond either of plastic or kitsch, but I agree with many here - don't over think this, have fun, please don't paint it (that would just be forcing yourself to attempt to adapt it, somehow, to your surroundings rather than letting it go if that is what you truly desire). My grandparents had two of the life-sized cement versions in their front garden where they retired in FL; I loved those birds :)

Go with your heart. No hurry to decide today.

A little serendipitous note: I have quite been contemplating relocating to Boulder, CO ... a place I considered moving to 35 years ago (and lived a few other places since). What a nice surprise to discover all the Boulder comments in addition to your story.

Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR

I love the "pink" flamingo! It looks great in your yard. Embrace the sense of fun it represents. Please don't cover up the pink color -- it is lovely.

I'm glad Jackie is home & safe --- I love her future plans!

Is there anyway to just enjoy these posts without the lectures on grammar? Sorry, but that's not the reason I love the posts & the photos. Lighten up.


Keep it! It's kitch, but cool kitch in its own way.

Diane Young

Madre dios! Here in Florida they are the ultimate in tacky lawn decorations but you probably ought to keep it somewhere, hopefully covert, since Jackie went to all that trouble to bring it and it will remind you of your precious soeur. That is some kind of hot pink!

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you for the delightful feedback. Bien sur je le garde. Of course I will keep it...her, that is. Next to find a name! How about Lola?
Re its and apostrophe its, I did learn the difference years ago, thanks to readers (including Bill, who I told you about). These days when I leave out the apostrophe--or incorrectly include it--it is a typo, one that spell check cannot catch.

All corrections are welcome, in French or in English, especially when they come with helpful examples :-)
Happy weekend to all and thank you so much for your warmhearted notes and enthusiasm for these sometimes mundane topics.

Deborah Murray

Kitsch the pink flamingo may be in North America, for they're here in Canada too, but quite at home it looks in your French garden. Think of it, no one else will have one... so it will be "unique" in both the English and French senses of the word. Definitely, keep it!


One year 15 years ago I woke up to a large flock of pink flamingos in the front yard. I had just had the good news of being cancer free. It was the good fortune of the neighborhood to set out these good harbingers whenever there was good news, birthdays, etc. and I was overjoyed to be assured that my personal good news was so appreciated by the whole neighborhood. It was a gift of love.


Of course you should keep it! I vote for a placement near some deep purplish blue Hortensia/Hydrangea. Oh, and about that typo/grammar dispute: you are so lucky to have all these armchair editors. I worked forever as a public relations counsel & remember that sometimes the brain requests one word & the fingers have their own kinetic memory of a similar word. Like more than once when writing a business proposal I found and corrected a phrase regarding our services in "pubic relations" .... Oops! Spell check would never have caught that one.


You should keep it, as someone else here said, a touch of whimsy is good for the soul. In Western Australia, we do the garden gnome thing. Our gnome, by name Gnoman, was last heard of in Tasmania (we received a postcard with his picture - on holiday apparently). One of his gnomish friends, name of Vic Tim, travelled the world sending back his holiday snaps. He made a brief appearance at a friend's wedding before heading off again.
Some much silliness. Also good for the soul :)


My tropical garden would not be complete without my pink flamingos! XXOO

Chris Allin


You are one very classy lady!


Keep it! Pink flamingos have become au courant, not that they are difficult to come be.

Eileen Leahy Preston

Ah, you must keep it. Far better to have an open heart that accepts a little whimsical poke from a sister so far way than to be considered someone with "good taste."

Kathy Shearer

Our son plopped one of these in a small flower garden he made for Mother's Day about 15 years ago. At first I thought it was tacky, but after a neighbor said, "Oh, he gave it to you, so you HAD to put it out, right?" we decided to keep Pinky standing proud and tall...and that's where he stands today, a bit faded but still in charge.

nadine goodban

I agree with several comments : you are a classy lady, Kristin !
And since you did ask for corrections... So here is one :
... Bill, whoM I told you about. WHO is a subject, as: Bill who is my friend. but WHOM is the object, and even better would be : Bill, about whom I told you..... Whom here is the object of told you about, NOT the subject.
I do realize that very few people use WHOM these days, but it is the correct form.
As for the flamingo, I agree with the majority, keep it, it's big enough that it does make a witty statement !

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you very much Nadine, and for the helpful example. Bill would have corrected the who/whom right away. Your note makes me appreciate some of the letters Bill and I exchanged ... concerning who/whom . He would be rolling his eyes, to know I still have not passed the test :-) Off to fix the error....

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