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 [email protected]

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.





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Lots of French words and watercolors in Alison Johnston's book Thyme in My Pocket.

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Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,

Thanks for this lovely post today! It's funny and lovely how someone's beautiful words (yours) can bring back a memory not thought of in awhile. I was brought back to a childhood memory of Sunday mornings after church. Our family always stopped off for donuts and the Sunday paper. At home, after inhaling our donuts, (I love Bavarian Cream) we would be on the floor with the comics and usually our silly putty making prints of the comics. My dad would be on the couch reading his paper and the sound of his rustling pages and the breeze blowing the long curtain across my head as I laid on the floor. I would usually fall asleep right there on the red shag carpet! (Remember shag?) LOL

Linda Hampton Smith

As an art teacher I was charmed by this beautifully written post, Kristin. How I love your description of the students as "lambs."

Cynthia Gillespie-Smith

I met Tessa briefly at Mas des Brun a few months ago -- she and her students seemed to be having such a brilliant time painting that I longed to join them. In the future I very well might do that! I'm sure Tessa has scouted out magnificent places to create watercolors, but few could surpass the beauty and artistic opportunities of Mas des Brun -- your turf! I can see you and Smokey there, feeling "life as light as a leaf".

Trina from St. Petersburg, FL USA

Lovely post, and I enjoyed learning there is such a dog as a Smooth Coat Collie.


What a beautiful scene you have painted, Kristin! Your guests look comfortably inspired by your magical property and I felt I was right there with the rebels and the obedient students, listening to tips about smooth coated collies and golden retrievers while studying the trees.

Karen Cafarella

What a beautiful story this morning to receive in my in-box. I was transported right there with you all. Not only longing to paint and sketch but to feel that soft fur of sweet Smokey.



Obstinate and soporific are words that can provide corroborative detail to artistic verisimilitude,,,,,,,,,!


Thank you Kristin and Jean-Marc for sharing your little piece of the world with us. It was truly a magical day at your beautiful home yesterday. Delicious wine, wonderful conversation, and a fabulous time. Mille merci!

Stacy - Sweet Life Farm

For a precious few moments, you had transported me back to that longed for state of being, light as a breeze drifting through the ancient olive branches.


Our dear Kristi,
Today's post and pictures are--again!--absolutely beautiful.
You not only captured my imagination but your words wrapped us in hugs.
I especially smiled because being in my troisieme age
(maybe even older than those lambs!)I could just picture myself cavorting with this happy bunch in such gorgeous surroundings.
What a gift! For all of us!
Natalia XO


Ha! Soporific (something that makes you drowsy) that takes me back to the early days with my baby boy. He would wake in the night for a feed and then belly full go back to sleep...but I couldn't!
I didn't want to take any medication so I ate lettuce (it's soporific) by the truck load!
Crazy things you do!
Thanks for the laugh :)

Marie Fagnou

Bonjour Kristin,
I always enjoy your posts and have shared your writing with others. We all have learned from you, merci!
I write from Saskatchewan so I was intrigued when you wrote "Ruth is from Saskatchewan." If possible could you tell me from where in Saskatchewan? In this province, there is usually a connection to someone we know whether it be a relative or at least a friend.
Thank you and continue your great writing!
My husband and I taught our 2 year-old grandson, Maxime, the word bêtise this last summer, so I quite enjoyed today's column.

Diane Young

What a wonderful picture you painted with words. I could so easily drift off right now. As my husband used to say, "feel like a lizard on a hot rock" at times like this. Thank you for your trip to dreamland.


One day I'm going to take Tess' class, and also get the pleasure of visiting with you again! Loved this idyllic post - needing peace, and expression.

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