Yeast in French... and in wine + next Bandol winetastings
A rare tornado in France over the weekend!

Betise: Our naughty visitors


Join us for tomorrow's wine tasting here near Bandol. If it's raining, we will sit around our kitchen table, warmed by the fire. Reserve your cozy seat at

TODAY'S WORD: une betise

    : a silly, foolish thing

dire des bêtises = to talk nonsense
faire une bêtise = to make a silly mistake

Hear Jean-Marc pronounce these French words
Download MP3 or Wav

Arrêtez de faire des bêtises et mettez-vous au travail!
Quit being silly and get to work! 

    Discover Exercises in French Phonics, here


by Kristin Espinasse

When artist Tessa Baker came to visit yesterday, I picked up two useful words for my story writing: obstinate and soporific (one described her students, the other, a sort of atmosphere). Though familiar, these terms were not a part of my everyday vernacular--voilà-another term learned from my readers since beginning this blog 13 years ago which is about as long as I've known Tess, who was busy, yesterday, rounding up her artistic lambs after they arrived at our vineyard for a watercolor lesson. Let's enter that scene now....

      The Little Rebel, Linda, and Tessa, in pink

"No! You are not allowed over there to paint the sea view. We are studying olive trees today! Ancient olive trees!" Tess said, reminding the brush-wielding flock of their mission. I watched, amused, as one of the little lambs--my Mom's age and every bit the rebel--staked her ground on the front porch, and boldly faced La Grande Bleue.


Michelle, Ruth, Tess, and Susan. (Ruth hails from Saskatchewan, and Michelle and Susan live in Colorado).

Meantime, I trekked down to the pétanque court, where the other three lambs were scattering--but not for long! Tess appeared in time to guide them:

 "Now sit still. Look at the tips of those branches. Do you notice how they swoop?" As she spoke, she visited each student, sometimes penciling in a guide along their canvases.

"What are those?" I asked Michelle, the newest painter in the group.

"Lines!" she explained, repeating the lesson Tess had just given. I squinted my eyes trying to decipher all the geometrical lines in the countryside before us... but quickly became distracted by the warmth of the sun, the soft fur of Smokey who had settled beside me, and the curve of my lawn chair which invited me to drift away....

 Seated beside Susan, having found a common ground (our love of dogs! Susan has two rescue dogs back home in Littleton!) I was getting as much information on her Smooth Coat Collies as I could, until we both got in trouble by our teacher after  Ruth, "the peacemaker" (painting on the other side of me, wearing my big straw hat) did her best to warn us first.

But when a soft-spoken Michelle, piped up, reminding us all whose turf we were seated upon, I was reminded of my pecking order here among the artistic fold (Top Dog! My turf!) ... and so rattled on for the rest of the afternoon about smooth coated collies, golden retrievers,  and whatever else caught my fancy. 

If you were a bird in the fig tree above us, you would have enjoyed the soft hum of chatting, the sound of brushes clinking against jam jars, the breathing of a silver-whiskered dog napping beside the lawn chair.  And you might have begun to feel an agreeable drowsiness, like you did as a child, when after lunch, and in the presence of  pages rustling softly (a father's newspaper or, as here,  artist's sketchbook) these familiar and comforting sounds rocked you to sleep as you lounged among the more industrious ones. 

Do you, dear reader, remember those carelessly lazy times? Life rustling forward, gently, whimsically, light as a leaf.

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Stay at Tessa's farm house where she will spoil you with fresh, homemade food and take you to paint at memorable destinations, like today's!). See pictures and info here.


Pictured: Michelle, Ruth, and Susan. I pulled up a lawnchair, eventually, and Smokey and I joined the group in the warm afternoon sun.





Great for traveling artists, gift giving, or outfitting any student artist.
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Lots of French words and watercolors in Alison Johnston's book Thyme in My Pocket.

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