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Entries from December 2014

bluffer + mother-daughter trip


Jackie in Milan, at the spectacular Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.


TODAY'S WORD: bluffer  (bluh-fay)

    : to surprise, impress, astound someone
    : to lie, pretend, fake something

être bluffé = to be bowled over, to be impressed, to be stunned

AUDIO FILE: Listen to Jean-Marc:
Download MP3 or wav

Pensant qu'elle irait à Paris,  Kristi a été bluffé en voyant un billet de train qui l'amène à Milan.
Thinking she was going to Paris, Kristi was surprised seeing a train ticket taking her to Milan.

Improve your pronunciation with these Exercises in French Phonics.

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

"Un Voyage Mère-Fille"

When it came time to open my present, I felt guilty knowing what was in the envelope my husband was about to give me. But he didn't seem to know I knew, so it wasn't too late for one of us to experience the magic of suprise.

Peering into my Christmas stocking, I reached for the letter and opened it--immediately recognizing the billet de train. Only, as I went to kiss my husband, my eyes caught on the destination: MILAN! 

"Quelle surprise!" I shrieked. "Tu m'as complètement bluffé! I thought we were going to Paris," I admitted.

If Paris still seemed foreign, Milan was another planet. How would we get around? They have a metro? But I clam up holding the local subway map! The idea of an Italian underground sent my mind spinning with images of dark corners, dead ends, and Milanese hooligans! 

And there wouldn't be my trusty travel companion and tour guide, the man who can navigate the most winding roads, after midnight--while driving backwards. No, Jean-Marc would not be there this time!

Any panic over this last-minute change of plans dissipated when my daughter (the little bird who'd clued me in on Paris...) appeared beside me. That's right, I had Jackie. My 17-year-old globe-trotter. She loves the chance to navigate and to flex her orientation muscles--after practicing on a few solo flights over the Altantic and across the States and back. 

"And you have Uber!" my husband chimed in, referring to the car service I'd tried out in Paris. All you had to do was send Uber an SMS, and a driver appeared at your doorstep within 10 minutes! And there was no need to scrounge for exact cash or a tip: the fee was charged on my credit card along with all details of our ride!

With my street smart daughter and a car service to back us if we fell through the cobblestoned cracks, I was as assured as a homebody could be... leaving the warmth and predictability of home for the snow and unknown of an Italian métropole

To be continued (click here for part two)..... More about Uber cabs in my story "High heels and the Paris Metro". Click here.


French Vocabulary

un voyage mère-fille = mother-daughter trip
le billet de train = train ticket 
la métropole = metropolis

Jackie and kristi

In front of Milan Cathedral, with Jackie. Wishing you a happy and healthy new year filled with all the things you love and obstacles overcome! To comment on this post, click here.

Travel Tip: Refill your water bottle!
Went through too many plastic water bottles on this trip, and have no excuse after reading Zero Waste Home during the train ride to Milan. Next time I will try to be more prepared and get a stainless steel canteen! Want to join me in this effort? Check out these water bottles


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:
1. Send a check (to this new address)
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety

Winner is announced! + faire monter la mayonnaise


As the end of the year approaches, I'm running out of steam... and so have devised a GIANT HEADLINES approach to this posting. (Photo taken yesterday, in Evanos, France.)


"faire monter la mayonnaise" = to give more attention to a subject--to stir up interest. We will learn more about this word in a moment....

AUDIO FILE: Listen to Jackie read today's definition 
Download MP3 or Wav file

Faire monter la mayonnaise--çela veut dire: donner plus d'importance à une affaire.
To stir up the mayonnaise--this means to give more importance to a subject, or to call attention to it.

My heart is beating very fast... as I am one click away from discovering the winner of our "one week free rent in Provence" contest. 

For most of these drawings I use random number generator....

This time it picked number "561". All I have to do now is comb through 10 pages of comments (100 comments per page) to find out who, among 1021 entrants, has won. Here goes.... And the winner is....


Off to match A.M.'s signature with the email address listed with this comment. A.M., if you are reading, Félicitations! I will put you in touch with Cynthia and you two can work out the details of your prize. Please take lots of photos for us when you get there!

(Update: To be clear, and in case anyone with the initials "A.M." is reading... the winner's email address begins with "abatc").

Espalier pomme reine de reinettes

Yesterday was my birthday and I received the tree of my dreams: un espalier! (Espaliers are those trees that have branches trained horizonally along a wall or support. See it, above, next to a very old, uprooted grape vine. And that is our golden, Breizh, who began having seizures last month. Keep her in your prayers!)

Almost as delightful as the arbre, is the word's original meaning: "something to rest the shoulder against." (This comes at a good time, as my arm is sore from all the ELBOW exercises I am doing lately. (See the journal entry for "luxer"

...or "pippins" are the kind of apples that will grow on this new tree! Because espaliers produce more fruit in less space, we should have plenty of fruit for une tarte tatin--a French apple pie that was born of this famous variety!  

I am reading a facinating and inspiring book by French woman, Bea Johnson. Bea has managed to turn her house into a ZERO WASTE home. Last year her family of four produced so little waste that all it took was a one quart jar to contain all their garbage (in fact, the family no longer has a poubelle, or trash can, at home!). Extreme? Qui sait? (Who knows.) I'm reading it for the books ability to open my eyes to that which I can minimize.... 

Read along with me when you download the ebook here!

The main tip in Bea's Zero Waste Home--is to refuse (of the 5 R's she lists: refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, rot -- refusing is the most important: don't even let the waste enter your home! Bea gives a wonderful example of refusing those free shampoo and conditioner bottles offered by most hotels. I shared this with Jean-Marc (a freebies collector!) and he instantly agreed to stop this compulsion! He even said that awareness about such freebies will help monter la mayonnaise--or stir up a topic many of us don't think much about. (Idem for all those free pens. As Bea says, we are offered a free stylo and immediately we think "Cool! Free pen!" but we don't consider the bigger picture: accepting freebies encourages the production of more (cheaply made) freebies, which end up in landfills across the globe.

I hightly recommend ZERO WASTE HOME. Read it for the awareness, the education, and the intention it'll stir up--like a good, homemade mayo!

I hope we know each other well enough by now that I can share the news. I've quit toothpaste! In as little as one-two-three (items, minutes) you can stir up a wonderful treat for your teeth, via this natural dentifrice:

* 4-5 tbsp French green clay, or this kind
*2-5 drops essential oil (organic grade): peppermint, rosemary, or other...
*pinches of sea salt (though some say this harms enamel, I like the taste)
*optional: water

I added enough water to make a paste (some say to stir with wooden spoon, but I used metal). And some people sprinkle the powder directly on their tooth brush and then add water.  Option: Instead of green clay you can use baking soda (food grade).

  • Green clay powder has another benefit: it remineralizes your teeth!
  • And remember when I used it on Smokey, after his attack? Story here.


New rental in Provence. In the charming village of Sablet--this spacious home is the perfect place to return to after sightseeing, bicycling or hiking. Click here for photos. 


Jean-Marc, wheeling my presents to the cash register.... The espalier is in good company: blueberry bushes to warm its feet and another kumquat tree!  

Thank you very much for reading my French language journal this past year. Your comments and encouragements helped keep this blog going!  May the following cheers keep your own dreams fueled and may you continue to live the kind of life that brings you the most peace and joy:

Allez! Continue! et surtout BON COURAGE!
Keep going! Keep on! and especially GOOD LUCK (be strong, be brave) 


Kristin Espinasse

 Photo taken in Evanos, a tiny hilltop village not far from Bandol.

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:
1. Send a check (to this new address)
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety

Pin: A Provençale Christmas story

Braveheart (c) Kristin Espinasse

Just back from a doctor's appointment in Marseilles (Youpie! No need for elbow surgery--just a lot of kiné, or physiotherapy visits to repair my coude. Today's photos , and the following post, are from 2 years ago. Meantime, it is not too late to enter the drawing for a one week stay in this Provençal village home.

The other day, while Smokey and I waited in the school parking lot for Jackie, kids filed past our car, occasionally stopping to point and laugh: "Mais regarde sa langue! Just look at his funny tongue! Ahahahaha!"

Laisse tomber! Don't worry about it, Smokey. They don't know your story and there are so many stories out there. The holidays are a time to open up our minds and our hearts. Joyeuses Fêtes.

le pin (pahn) noun, masculine 

: pine tree


le pin d'Alep = Provencal white pine
le pignon de pin = pine nut
la pomme de pin = pine cone
le code pin, le numéro pin = pin code, pin number

AUDIO FILE:  listen to Jean-Marc read todays word, phrase, and example sentence: Download MP3 or Download Wav

Cette année, notre sapin de Noël est un petit pin d'Alep.
This year our Christmas tree is a Provençal pine.


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

When Jean-Marc suggested hunting for this year's Christmas tree in the forêt behind our house, our daughter wrinkled her nose. Now there was a grimace I could translate in French or English: it said that all her friends probably had REAL Christmas trees, the kind on display at the mall!

Our daughter's reaction made my husband even more determined. It was high time to lift the consumer veil from our children's eyes: A true arbre de Noël didn't always come from the checkout lane! Not this year anyway--not when a forest dense with pines crowded our back yard.

Allez! Jean-Marc persisted, dragging our Christmas tree snob off the couch.

I hid in our room, where I'd taken refuge from all the holiday frenzy. There, in the quiet, I heard the crunch of leaves as my husband, our teenager, and the dogs crossed over the boules court on their way to la chenaîe

Not 10 minutes later and they were back. Strange.... They must have encountered les chasseurs and had to postpone their search. I sank deeply into my bed, wondering just when the tree chore would get done! Why didn't I keep the ugly plastic tree of yesteryear? It had been so easy to part with it, while cramming the contents of our lives into two economy trucks last September. What a bad decision that was! (the tree, not the cheap movers. Not one lamp broken in the deal!).

But what was the deal with our tree? I threw back the covers and got out of bed. In the living room I found Jackie back on the couch, watching TV. 

"Well, what happened?" 

My daughter smiled. "Rien". 

"But did you find a Christmas tree?"


"Well, do you like it?"

"Oui," Jackie nodded, and the stars twinkling in her eyes were proof of that. I felt a bit star-struck myself, bewildered by the peaceful atmosphere. Wasn't tree-shopping supposed to be chaotic? Et bien, we had skipped the commercial venture this time!

My daughter followed me into the entryway to our home, where a rustic fireplace and two felt-covered fauteuils have become a favorite resting spot.

There stood our Christmas tree, between the cozy sas and the dining room. Jackie knelt down on the ground to arrange the area beneath the tree. "Papa collected some mousse in the forest," she explained, as she borrowed some of the characters from the crèche, setting them on top of the deep green ground cover.

The door opened and Jean-Marc came in, his arms full of firewood for the cheminée. "Alors? Ça va l'arbre? Your daughter cut it down."

"It's beautiful!" I admitted. "What kind is it?"

"Un pin d'Alep."

I ran to my dictionary to look up the term. Un pin d'alep is a Provençal pine. What could a hopeless Francophile want more than a French Christmas?

Un Noël Provençal

And what more could our daughter want than a real arbe de Noël? From the sparkle in her eyes, it was clear: this year she got her wish.


Bonnes fêtes! Happy holidays dear reader. May the spirit of the season grab you... filling you with peace, love, and forgiveness. 




French Vocabulary

allez! = come on!

la forêt = forest

un arbre de Noël = a Christmas tree

allez! = come on!

la chenaîe = pin oak grove

les boules = the game of Pétanque, read Gary's story

le chasseur = hunter

rien = nothing

le sas = (a synonym for sas is chambre, or room, but here it refers to a small entry way)

le fauteuil = chair

le papa = dad, father

la mousse = moss

la crèche = nativity scene

la cheminée = fireplace

amicalement = warmly


    French christmas music
French Christmas Music: "Mon Beau Sapin", "Sainte Nuit", "La Marche des Rois", "Petite Ville Bethléem", "Il est né Le Divin Enfant". 
Order CD here.


Smokey has taught himself how to eat, despite his handicap. And he has a trick or two for keeping his nerve-damaged tongue in place.... So if you see him walking around town like this, he's not snobbing you--he is only trying to hold himself together!

May you, too, hold yourself together this time of year--doing whatever you need to do to enjoy the moment. Not everyone will understand your position (just look at Smokey's!), but that's not your problem. Ce n'est pas ton souci :-)

To comment on this post, click here.

Thanks for sharing today's post with somebody, and see you next week!

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:
1. Send a check (to this new address)
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety

Gagner: Enter to win a one-week rental in Provence!


Enter to win a week's stay in this 17th century village house in Provence! See details, below. Your chances of winning are GREAT ! After all, this is not the French lottery. So far the average number of entries for these giveaways is 300, but this could change given today's prize! What will your chances be in this giveaway? A vous de tenter votre chance! 


gagner (gahn-yay)

    : to win; to earn; to gain

gagnant-gagnant = win-win (situation)
gagner sa vie = earn one's living
gagner du temps = to save time
gagner du poids = to gain weight
gagner sur tous les plans = to win on all counts

AUDIO FILE:  listen to Jean-Marc: Download MP3 or Wav file

Aujourd'hui vous avez la chance de gagner la location d'une maison en Provence pendant une semaineToday you have the chance to win a one-week rental in Provence


It is a great pleasure to announce our biggest giveaway ever: a one-week stay in this charming village home near Aix-en-Provence. Borrowing the first lines of the home's listing, I can tell you this place is unique:

LES BOUGAINVILLIERS, a splendid stone 'Village House', renovated by an imaginative French architect, was once used as a location in a French film...

And a little about its whereabouts...

St. Cannat has the PERFECT location for exploring Provence. You'll be just 15 minutes from Aix and in the center of all the other historic and beautiful places you'll want to visit: Avignon, Arles, St. Remy, Aix, Marseille, Cassis, the villages of the Luberon, St. Tropez, and perhaps on to Nice and Monaco.

For this giveaway, the winner may choose between two calendar periods--both lovely times to stay in Provence!:  August 22 - 29 OR November 7 - 14. 


For your entry to be counted, it needs to appear here, in this comments box (at the French Word-A-Day blog). So come back over here after visiting the rental site, and enter!

Simply tell me which review you liked best. Alternatively, you could tell me which room in the house you liked best. Voilà! CLICK HERE TO ENTER

When you share this post with a friend, using the forward option in your email-- or one of the social media links, below--you are sprinkling bonne chance fairy dust all over your entry! So remember to do as the French do and put all chance on your side (mettre toutes les chances de son côté!).  Share on Facebook, Twitter, and at the water cooler at work.

Note: This giveaway does not include airfare or any other expenses related to traveling to or in France (or anywhere else in the universe). This prize is offered by the homeowner and shall not cause the homeowner or the blogger (moi!) to incur out of pocket expenses apart from the time and effort taken to organize and maintain this giveaway. (Veuillez pardonner--please excuse--my layman's legalease. Wishing you bonne chance!!) 


Thanks for visiting our long-time sponsors!

New rental in Provence. In the charming village of Sablet--this spacious home is the perfect place to return to after sightseeing, bicycling or hiking. 

Music & Markets Aix Easter Festival Tour, April 4 - live classical music, Provence day trips, and fabulous cuisine and wine.

Picnic with Cynthia

Photo taken last month, in Bandol, during lunch with my friend Cynthia. She produced the most charming picnic I've ever seen! I get the feeling her rental home in St. Cannat is just as stylish, so do check it out and consider staying there! But first--try your chance at winning a free week at this charming and historic home...


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:
1. Send a check (to this new address)
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety

Tirer au sort + Prize giveaways


I would have never met GUS, had he not entered to win one of these blog contests. Proof that the best part of these giveaways is getting to know readers! (Pictured: wrapping for the antique key that Gus won. Click on the hyperlink in the first sentence to see Gus receiving it!)


tirer (teer-ay)

    : to pull, to draw, to close...

Word etymology: Related to tear. Alternatively from a reduction of Old French martirier (to torture). -Wikipedia   

Thank you all very much for your helpful and very encouraging feedback. I'm deeply touched! Your comments inspired me to be more consistent in posting all sections of this French language journal. Here is one section that fell by the wayside, years ago: Expressions. Another section was "Word Etymology"...and another "Quotes"...  Though it is not always possible to get everything in, owing to time constraints, I will try a little harder. Sometimes it is impossible to include every part (ex. no sound file when Jean-Marc is away). But I am finding ways around some of these challenges... (now only if my dog Smokey could speak French! But then he'd need a smartphone to record the words....)

tirer au sort
= to draw lots, to draw a number i.e. for a prize
tirer à pile ou face = to toss a coin
tirer la langue = to stick out one's tongue
tirer un trait = to draw a line
tirer son épingle du jeu = to make it out unscathed

AUDIO FILE: Listen to Jean-Marc: MP3 or Wav

Tirer au sort: Les gagnants de ces prix sont tirés au sort.
To randomly choose: The winners of these prizes are chosen randomly.

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

You may be wondering: Why is Kristi having all these prize giveaways all of a sudden? Well, sit back and let me tell you une petite histoire...

A few years ago, while photographing Smokey in front of my Wall of Keys, it occured to me: tu pourras en donner une.... You could give one of these away (a key, not my dogs!)


It was exciting to think that a centuries-old clé would soon be travelling far away: to a reader in Perth? or maybe even someone in Phoenix? I hurried to my computer to post the giveaway at my blog, adding a suspenseful twist:

"The trésor is currently a secret," I wrote, "but here's a hint: anyone would love it: young or "wizened", man or woman. If you like French antiques, you'll love this historic memento, one from my collection... one I adore and would love to offer you!"

A total of 1537 readers entered the giveaway, after following these simple instructions:

"To win this antique simply leave a greeting here, in the comments box, along with your city. Example:  'Hola from Jules in Puerto Vallarta!'"

How exciting it was to see my comments box come to life. One by one, readers delurked!:

...Hello from Rio de Janeiro! hi from Nova Scotia! Salut from Manchester, England! Hello from sunny Melbourne!  Best wishes from Cape Town! Bonjour de Sidi Bou Said, Tunis, Tunisie... and from Alabama, New Jersey, Illinois!!!...

And then came the first critic. As go most vitriolic messages, this one came privately, in my inbox:

"Quit self-promoting!" the reader complained. "And unsubscribe me now!" 

The words stole my breath away. Next they pierced to the core,  producing a bubbling up of doubt. Then my curiosity crept in, and I googled the email address of the person who had sent such an abrupt and upsetting note. 

I discovered the complaint came from a published writer... of French-themed books (the same genre that I write). Looking at her book listed at Amazon I thought, What a shame. My readers would have enjoyed this person's work. Rather than writing me off, why didn't this author at least GET something out of me--if not a "thrice-weekly" vocabulary word. She might have written in asking me to mention her book in my blog's sidebar--where I list French-themed books). 

Meantime, self-promotion? Was that was this prize giveaway was, après tout? Did I have an ulterior motive--apart from livening up my comments box? I had to think about all this. And I did, for three long years during which time I never mentioned another prize giveaway.

And then, little by little, my skin began to thicken. This morning, while preparing today's post, I clicked back to that first giveaway, and tried once again to see where I might have offended anyone. What had I done to provoke such a reaction from this person? 

My eyes pored over the post. And then it struck me. I had book-ended the update with pictures of myself! The angered reader wasn't criticising the giveaway, she was irritated by my portrait. (Gosh, even I was irritated by my portrait, now that I look at it. If you didn't know me personally you'd swear I didn't like hugs or mud or roller skates! 

Then again, qui sait? Who knows what the critic thinks? We can't always understand what causes people to lash out. Meantime, we've got to go ahead with our own party! And as long as most people are dancing, chances are c'est une bonne fête!   

There will be lots more rumba around here -- confetti and prizes and who knows what kinds of surprises. There will be dull and awkward moments too. Whatever the mood, please stay for the ride. Your seat balances this writing vessel, and your words and comments (or silent positive thoughts) are the steam that moves it forward. 



P.S. I never got to the question I set out to explain: Why all these prize giveaways? Answer: Just making up for lost time! I hope you are out there doing the very same thing today.  Thank you and bonne journée!

To leave a comment about today's post, click here. 

Provence Dreamin'? Maison des Pelerins, Sablet. A Vacation Rental Dream in the heart of the Côte du Rhone. See photos here


petit, petite = little
une histoire
= story
tu pourras (pouvoir) = you could
une clé = key
en donner un(e) = give one away
amicalement = warmly
bonne journée = have a good day

I noticed some confusion in the recent comments, what with all those "have a nice time with Mom in Mexico" wishes. (Thank you!) I returned to France last Thursday, after a lovely visit with Mom in Puerta Vallarta... and my sister in Denver:

Here is Heidi making me another delicious meal... but it was hard to quit eating all these crackers (hard to come by in France. Update: try My American Market!)
That a seed blew from one of the sunflowers, landed in the gravel and sprouted is hard enough to believe. That it is about to bloom in December is absolutely incroyable!

Capture plein écran 10122014 085506

Behind The Scenes of this French Word-A-Day

These photo stories continue at Instagram or Facebook or Twitter. (And now at Tumblr, too!)


No giveaway prizes today. In life, everything needs a balance and it's time to recharge. When you buy a copy my book, your purchase is a great support to this free language journal.

"Faire d'une pierre deux coups"
Please consider buying a copy as a gift for someone this holiday season--and "kill two birds with one stone" (much prefer the gentler French expression above!): support this educational blog and tick off one more item on your gift list!

View a selection of my books. You can even buy all three in the "Frequently Bought Together" section--and tick three loved ones off your gift list! Three gifts at under $50!


CLICK HERE TO ORDER KRISTI'S BOOKS Mille mercis! I greatly appreciate your consideration and support. 

"Indognito," or when Smokey wears his sunglasses in public. Did they fell off when he tried to raid that ice cream stand? Smokey, I told you they were closed for winter!

See you next week with the BIGGEST giveaway yet.... meantime please share this post. It's good luck!

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:
1. Send a check (to this new address)
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety

appuyer + win this Amazon gift certificate!


Today's story begins in Mexico... and this is Mom, who taught me the example sentence in today's edition (see "audio file")...

Enter to win a $30 Amazon gift certificate when you answer the following question: Which part of this newsletter do you most enjoy: the word, the soundfile, the pictures or the story column? (Or maybe these giveaways?!) Click here to enter. (update: this contest ended in 2014)


 (ah-pwee-yay) verb
1. to press; to lean, rest (against, on); to prop (up)
2. to rely on; to support (petition)

AUDIO FILE: Listen to Jean-Marc read the following example sentence: Download MP3 or Wav

Confie-toi en l'Éternel de tout ton coeur, Et ne t'appuie pas sur ta sagesse
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. -Proverbs 3:5-6

Bilingual Bible For your Ipad, tablet, or Kindle:
Download the French-English parallel language bible (King James) Click here to order.

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

(Part one of today's story is here)

Having just been treated for my dislocated elbow and released from the emergency room--and after three days of travel--five airports, four airplanes and 3 "strippings" at airport security ("No, mam, you can't take off my arm brace!), I made it all the way to Mexico from France!

The never-ending trip included two overnight stops: one in Philadelphia--where I'd missed my flight and stood out in the rain for an hour, waiting to be shuttled to some far off, comped hotel--and one night at my sister's (originally designed to be 2 nights of rest before venturing south of the border). I'd picked up several new one-armed skills along the way: everything from opening packages with my teeth to putting on my laced shoes after yet another airport security check. (Shoe-tying tip: using your free hand, roll laces around this set of fingers and tuck the bundle into the shoe. Voilà!)

Despite a swollen and very sore elbow, and two more bouts of nausea from the pain medication, I'd gone ahead and gotten on the first flight in Marseilles! I would never have made it had my husband not done everything in his power to push me onto that plane.

Which got me thinking: Isn't he a bit enthusiastic about my departure?

Ah well, my concerns were put to rest when, once on board, I discovered a little note he had tucked into my purse: "Love you more. Bon voyage."

The petit mot was even illustrated with a big heart. How thoughtful! And how doting he had been earlier that morning, washing my arms with a soft gant and even helping me apply deodorant. It was a first lesson in humility.  And by now, having arrived via planes, trains, and automobiles to Mexico, I was a pro at letting people lace my shoes, put on my one-armed coat, cut up my airplane food into manageable bites, and even tear open those little packets of cream and stir them into my coffee! Normally I wouldn't touch the chemical-laden creamer, but this was a trip full of compromises and poudre chimique was no longer a biggy in my rigid mind.  

In a way, this accident was turning into a blessing, forcing me to be patient and much more flexible. So when Jean-Marc and I first spoke on the phone (back in Philadelphia, where I'd finally caught the shuttle and was now resting in my room with the special "handicapped" sign on the door), I was very positive:

"Oui, chéri! All is well! So far so good!"

But I was only half way through my trip at that point. And the swelling in my elbow and not yet reached my hand--in time to blow it up the size of a boxing glove!

Follow with me now, back to Mom's casa in Mexico, where I am resting on her bed, relating the whole story of my journey from ER in France to Puerta Vallarta. I had changed out of those scratchy wool pants (with the elastic waistband--no way to travel with buttons and zippers and my teeth wouldn't have been much help either) and was now almost giddy to laugh about the whole misadventure.

"Hey, let's call Jean-Marc!" I said to Mom. My husband had installed the World & You app on my mobile phone which would allow me free (with wifi...) calls to France. Only, after dialing his number, there was no answer....

A moment later I received an email from Jean-Marc: "Sorry I couldn't answer. I'm in the stadium at the Davis cup."

The Davis Cup?!! "Where's that?" I said to my mom, as the heat rushed to my chest. I think it was a tennis tournament... and it had better be in Marseilles! Two seconds later Mom had googled it.

Why that little devil! He was already north of Paris, in Lille! He must have dropped me at the security checkpoint three days ago, and skipped off to the next terminal to board his own flight TO PLAYVILLE!

That nervous tick below my eye was doing jumping jacks and my adrenaline had kicked in. Who needed 5 airplanes to get back to France? I could now poll-vault myself from Mexico all the way to The Stupid Davis Cup--in time to STRANGLE MY HUSBAND! 

"Just before he threw me on that plane, I'd asked him a simple question," I screamed to Mom. Do you have any plans this week? That's what I said. I asked him twice!"

Mom was now bracing herself again the back wall of her room, the sheer force of my delivery having pinned her there.

I continued my tirade: "And to think that I traveled all the way to Mexico with a newly relocated elbow! When I could have rested an extra day or two in Marseilles, as I had thought to do. But no! That would have put a wrench in Monsieur's plans!"

On and on I imagined all sorts of scenarios, verbalising each one aloud as it traipsed across my mind like a thinly clad adversaire. But the true adversaries, I knew, were my own personal frustrations.

Though I had made it all the way to Mexico, the truth was I was not very adventurous. And my husband was. Never one to miss the chance to "see, go, and do!" he takes life by the reins!

While I don't know how to hold the reins, I can grab onto life's skirt-tails. Like now, as my heart whips me to and fro... building an inner-strength--a work that began the day I said "I do."

"Look!" Mom announced. There is another message to you from Jean-Marc..."

Clicking open the email my husband explained his decision, that of keeping his plans quiet just before my departure.

"I did not want to tell you this earlier because I didn't want to stress you during your travels..." Jean-Marc wrote.

Reading his note, I saw the truth in it: had I known he would be absent for a few days, I would have never gotten on that flight home. I would have worried about our daughter, the dogs, the house... who would take care of them while I was away? Not one to delegate, I live with the conviction that only I can sort out these types of care-related details.

Still, I wish I had had the information in order to make my own decision to stay or to go. But then I would have missed the chance to see my dear family back home....

Jean-Marc made the right decision for, even if I had mustered the courage to get on the plane with all that information in mind, I would have suffered from worry during the entire trajet. Instead, I flew with a peaceful mind, and an unflappable elbow!

When you comment on this story, you automatically enter to win today's prize: a $30 gift certificate at Click here to comment.

(And congratulations to a recent winner, Josephine G., who won the frame Desiderata poem!)

French Vocab
le gant de toilette
= washcloth
la poudre
= powder
= chemical
= opponent, adversary
le trajet
= journey, flight, ride 


 Have you heard about all the rain in France? Weeks and weeks of it led to this: the collapse of our rock terrace, or restanque. Not sure it can be repaired. We will see....

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:
1. Send a check (to this new address)
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety

luxer + win this French Country Diary

Fetch with smokey

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luxer (loox-ay)

    : to dislocate

Listen to today's word in context: Download MP3 or Download Wave file

En promenant Smokey en laisse, Kristi s'est luxée le coude droit.
While walking Smokey with a leash, Kristi dislocated her elbow.

French Gift Idea: Contact our friends Phyllis and Tim at French Country Wines, or stop into their Houston wine boutique, for a selection of excellent vins! Email

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

The night before I was to leave on a three-flight, four airport journey home I dislocated my elbow! 

I should have listened to my daughter when she said, "Reste à la maison!" But no, I wanted to watch her and her father play tennis our last day together! I had packed my suitcase and was ready for my 3:30 a.m. wake-up call. A little exercise before the long journey would be  good! I would bring Smokey along and, after a brisk walk around the tennis club, the two of us would watch the father-daughter match.

I had a strong premonition as Smokey and I wandered forth into unknown territory. Looking around le voisinage that circled the tennis courts I noticed the houses, each with a tall fence enclosing its yard. What sorts of dogs lived behind those fences? What if one of them began to bark? My gut told me to turn back, but it was a pity to miss this chance to give Smokey some needed exercise.

Approaching a cul-de-sac at the top of the road, I was relieved to have an excuse to turn back. But wasn't it strange that not one of the houses we'd passed had a dog? What a quiet neighborhood! A little too quiet.  I wound my wrist around Smokey's leash, to tighten my grip and to assure my unquiet mind....

No sooner had I secured the leash than Smokey began to bolt, taking me hurtling towards an angry dogue de bordeaux--or what some call an English Mastiff! The dog was barking like mad from behind a tall fence.

My first thought was how am I going to land? Currently I was hurtling towards a wire fence, the gravelly ground below me getting closer and closer. This was going to be a painful meeting. Would I land face first?

A split second before the face-plant, Smokey made a hairpin turn. Because my wrist was wrapped so tightly around the leash, I made the hairpin turn right along with him! No longer was my head in danger, given my new direction (still downward!), I might break my hip--and never make tomorrow's flight!

Instinct kicked in and I threw out my arm to break the fall. Only, when my hand hit the ground--followed by the rest of my body--something snapped. I looked up to find my forearm twisted gruesomely away from me!

It was surreal to see my arm so deformed. Given the unusual angle in which it rested, I thought, It must be broken! In my current state of shock my brain overrode my usual tendencies. The tendency to depend on someone else! Besides, there was no one else! No one around to ask "What do I do? How to fix this? Help!"

My body seemed to know the answer. Quickly, my left arm grabbed my right forearm and flung it back toward my rib cage. That's when I heard the pop. The elbow snapped right back into place!

Cradling my arm I scooted across the road like a snake. And when I reached the fence I began to began to moan. Smokey ran up and I managed to used use my free hand to lace his leash through the fence opposite the mastiff (who was safely behind his own fence).

Once my elbow and my dog were secured, reality hit: something was very wrong with my arm and this meant I would not be travelling to see my family tomorrow!

NO! NO! NOOOO! I shouted, wailing from the pain and the loss. NOOOOO!

A neighbor, who turned out to be the dog's owner, ran up and began to assist me. Her husband arrived next.

"Réspirez! Réspirez!" the kind-faced woman said, when I complained of nausia.

"Je crois que je vais vomir," I said. The woman's husband ran inside to get a down coat, returning to lie it over me. Crying from the pain and apologetic for the chaos, I tried to tell them how to reach my husband. The rest was babbling: vous êtes gentils. merci. désolé. mon chien! aïe! ça fait mal... qu'ils arrivent vites!

I could now hear the speaker on the tennis courts, just behind the couple's house: "Monsieur Espinasse. Vous êtes demandé à la reception...." But when Jean-Marc arrived the question remained: How to transport me to the emergency room? What to do with Smokey? We couldn't all four of us ride to the urgences

The tennis court manager, who had accompanied Jean-Marc, suggested calling les pompiers. "It's a bumpy road all the way to the hospital, better for her to ride in an ambulance...."

Three fireman arrived next. They placed what looked like a deflated raft beside me. On the count of un, deux, trois I was lifted into the "raft" (located on a gurney). One of the firefighters began pumping air into the contraption which began to hug my entire body.

"There. Do you feel secure now? Can you move your hand?" The pompier wanted to know. 

Entombed inside the inflatable body-brace, only my front sticking out, I felt like a swadled baby. Looking down I tried to wiggle my fingers and saw that they could move.

At ER I was wheeled to the x-ray room where nurse asked me to lift my arm up onto an x-ray table and I informed her I could not move it. 

"Well I don't know the reason for which you are here!" she said, in her defence.

The rest of the staff were just as sympathetic, and when my x-rays finally arrived on the attendant-doctors desk I watched, in amazement, as she tossed them across her desk!

"I don't have time for all this now!" she complained. 

From my gurney in the ER entry, facing the giant window behind which the doctor and colleagues processed the paperwork, I watched her storm off.

Seeing my son walk into ER was a great soulagement. Then came the tears. The sum-total of this freak accident hit me. I looked at the clock which crept toward the dinner hour. I should be getting up 8-hours from now... getting on my flight.

"You have a flight tomorrow?" the doctor said, when she finally arrived with the x-rays. "Well, your arm is back in place, but you shouldn't be travelling like this. Is your trip for business or for pleasure?

"I'm going home to see my family..."

"Well, it's up to you but I would not recommend it," the doctor concluded, with a reminder that I should be seeing a specialist the next day, one who would review the x-rays and examine my arm--beneath which my tendons were flairing from pain. (The codeine only made me more nausious.)

After stopping at the pharmacy to buy a sling, or un gilet d'immobilisation d'épaule, Jean-Marc and I rode home. On the way, my husband kept assuring me I'd be just fine, each time I voiced my doubt about flying with an elbow of frayed tendons and a giant sling. But the constant encouragement to go ahead and fly tomorrow was beginning to sound suspicious.

"Do you happen to have any plans this week?" I asked, fishing for an answer to my doubts. 

"No," Jean-Marc said. "Apart from seeing all my girlfriends," he joked.

" Seriously, you seem intent on getting me on that flight tomorrow. Are you sure you don't have any plans at all this week?"

"No, there's nothing in particular..."

*    *    *  

(To be continued... Dear Reader, please excuse any mistakes in today's edition. I just arrived home and am catching up on a lot of stuff... but wanted to be sure an get this post out to you!  

Whether you respond to today's story or answer the question, below, you will be entered in today's drawing for the delightful French Country diary. Click here to comment.

French country diary 2015

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Tell me what you are celebrating this month and automatically enter to win a copy of this delightful desk diary. Click here.


reste à la maison = stay home
le voisinage = neighborhood
réspirez! = breath!
je crois que = I think that
je vais vomir = I'm going to vomit
aïe = ouch
ça fait mal = it hurts
qu'ils arrivent vite = (I hope) they hurry!
soulagement = comfort, relief
les urgences = ER

les pompiers = firefighters
un, deux, trois = one, two, three
un gilet d'immobilisation d'épaule = sling for dislocated shoulder

Brassica with smokey

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:
1. Send a check (to this new address)
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety