La Cuve: All About Jean-Marc's (American) Wine "Ephemera"

FrontEphemera
Thank you, Jackie Hamilton, for working with Jean-Marc's design and then doing this wonderful drawing for the Ephemera wine label. 
 
MEET-UP
Jean-Marc and I hope to see many of you at our wine tasting/booksigning in Colorado--at The Bookworm of Edwards on March 10th, at 2pm.
 
Also, Jean-Marc and Max will be attending a wine dinner in Houston at Bistro Provence on 03/21. Reservation needed at bistro_provence@sbcglobal.net or at 713 827 8008. He will also attend a wine tasting on March 23rd from Noon to 6 PM, at French Country Wines, 2433 Bartlett St, Houston. Tel : 713 993 95 00 
 
Today's Word: la cuve

    : vat, tank


EPHEMERA by Jean-Marc Espinasse
 
In September 2017, as we had just moved out from Mas des Brun and when I was still grieving about the loss of this magnificent piece of promised land, Robert Camuto, who had already related our story in the Wine Spectator, went to interview me to figure out what happened i.e. my fiasco...
 
I won't say much about this "painful" experience (you can actually read it there) but, at the end of the interview, Robert asked me what might be my next wine project...and I responded :
 
"If I had a chance to make wine in Oregon … that would be my first choice."
 
As I had already done a wine project in another place (Rosso Azzurro in Sicily), I thought I could reproduce the same idea in OR where I have built such a wonderful relationship with many people. I knew Jay Somers for many years and decided to ask him if I could make a little batch at his fantastic amazing J. Christopher winery...and he kindly agreed to make this dream come true.
 
Here is how I made this wine :
 
Screenshot_20190130_112518
Tasting berries on the wonderful slopes of Dundee Hills
 
I decided to make a light, fresh and easy drinking Pinot Noir for many reasons. First and most important is that more and more I tend to enjoy drinking these kind of wines, made only from grape juice and no other additives/intervention (industrial yeasts, sugar, sulfur, filtration...). Those kind of wines do have a high level of "drink-ability" and you enjoy them with joy and pleasure casually, like wine should actually be, for me. The other reason I decided to make this style of wine is that I was hosted by a winery where I was not going to stay more than 2 weeks and I wanted to make sure they would not have to worry and work too much on my wine. In making this short and light maceration, I knew this wine could be bottled soon and then be soon out of the winery's hands.
 
IMG_20180926_143509
"Pied de Cuve" fermenting 
 
Jay sourced for me some grapes on the beautiful Dundee Hills Slopes, grapes that would fit with the style at which I was aiming. Those grapes would bring a higher acidity and smooth tannins. And while tasting the berries, I started to collect some clusters to start what we call in France a "Pied de Cuve" or starter. This is actually a little fermentation happening in a big bucket which will permit us to start right away the fermentation once the grapes are received. The reason to start the fermentation right away is because there is no sCuveulfur addition which preserve from oxidation.
 
Actually, wineries use sulfur when grapes are in the tank to eliminate the unwanted bacterium. Sulfur is also an anti oxidant which protects the grape juice from oxidation.
 
Trumpet
My beautiful, impeccable sanitary Pinot Noir Grapes
 
Since I was certain my grapes were in perfect sanitary conditions, I did not have to use sulfur but I needed to avoid the grape juice oxidation and that is why this starter is great since it permits me to start the fermentation right away, avoiding any oxidation before this process starts since when fermentation happens, the grape juice is then totally protected by the carbonic gas produced.

Grape juice fermenting

I did 3 fermenting tanks, one with 100% de-stemmed grapes, one with half de-stemmed and half whole cluster and one 100% whole cluster.

During the first days of fermentation, I pumped over the cap to homogenize the tank and bring some air into the juice...


Pumping over the cap

 
But as I intended to make a light wine, I only kept the juice in contacts with the skins for 5 days and then shoveled all the grapes to the press machine.

 

Shoveling grapes and tasting the fermented juices

This fermenting wine finished its process without skins and after be racked to separate the lies, just a touch of sulfites have been added to protect this finished wine from oxidation during bottling, which happened early January 2019. As I am typing this note, I have to admit that I have not yet sampled the bottled Ephemera but here are tasting notes from Kory, winemaker at J. Christopher Wines and from Tim who created French Country Wines, an Importing wines business in Houston TX : Kory : "I really enjoyed Ephemera. The wine is bright and has a nice lushness in the mid pallet...light red fruited... strawberry / tart cherry. Lively and bright, lingering finish" and Tim : "Very fresh, bright & well balanced for such a young wine - thoroughly enjoyable!"
 
To finish this story, I can't help thanking Jay and all the people at the winery who helped me. Many thanks also to Eugenia Keegan and David Adelsheim who hosted me at their guest house located just a mile from the winery during the first week. Thank you Donna and Bill Sweat who own the delicious Winderlea winery in Dundee and who also took care of me when I was there, loaning me their car. Thanks a lot to Kim Dement-Smith from the famous Smith Tea in Portland and in memory of Steve who we all miss for hosting me the second week. Thanks Diana and Neil Goldschmidt who have been one of my angels in Portland, who treated me to a meal at wonderful place with a memorable 2002 Pinot Noir they made. Thank you Debby, Marc and all the Accuardi family who own the very best restaurant in town : Gino's. Many thanks for my beautiful wife Kristi who always supported me in all my wine adventurous journeys and who helped me in many ways to make this dream come true.
And my last thanks will be for the Estelle Imports team who will take care of the distribution of the few cases of Ephemera staying in OR (800 bottles) and especially to my friend of 20 years, Chris Davis who has always supported my wine passion.
This leads me to the conclusion of this post and a little secret that I will unveil now :

You think this wine is 100% Pinot Noir but this is not totally right. A few Syrah clusters from a vine planted by Chris and given by our regretted (he's passed away) common friend Jean-Jacques Clapie have been used for the "Pied de Cuve". They probably represent 0.01 % of the blend but they are so meaningful to me.

65 cases of Ephemera have stayed in Portland and are now in the hands of Estelle Imports. If you are interested in getting this wine, please contact Chris at mcadavis@gmail.com who will direct you to the best place, depending on where you live in the US.
 
The rest of this tiny production is currently on its way to France. If you live there or in Europe and if you are interested in getting some, please contact me at jm.espinasse@gmail.com
 
Cheers !
Jean-Marc
 
Update: Ephemera wine should be available in the following places:
 
Avalon Wines, 3115 NE Sandy Blvd #127. 
Tel : (503) 206-8589  
 
Division Wines, 3564 SE Division. 
Tel : (503) 234-7281
 
Providore, 2340 NE Sandy. 
Tel : (503) 232-1010
 
Pastaworks at City Market, 735 NW 21St. 
Tel : (503) 221-3002
 
BackEphemera

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Séréndipité: Meet-up with Kristi and Jean-Marc in Colorado: winetasting, booksigning, French-talking...

Bookworm of edwards vail colorado wine tasting author meetup books cafe

Jean-Marc and I will be at The Bookworm of Edwards on March 10th, from 2-5 pm. We would be absolutely delighted to meet you. For more information, visit this page...

Today's Word: Sérendipité (A bilingual definition)

Capacité, aptitude à faire par hasard une découverte inattendue et à en saisir l'utilité.
Ability to accidentally make an unexpected discovery and to grasp its utility.
 

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

My husband travels to the US every spring for his wine business. I usually stay in France to watch after les gosses, les chiens, and le vignoble, but now that our situation has changed there is leeway to get out and explore.

One place I wanted to discover is the area in which our daughter has been living and working: in and around Vail, Colorado. This wish turned into un but to reunite with other family members and I'm happy to say I'll now get to see mon père and my two soeurs, and une tante and un oncle of ours.

Next, there was an itch to meet up with friends and readers in the area, and just as I began to wonder how to make this happen... I received an email from one of Jean-Marc's importers, Zach, whose wife happens to have a bookshop in Edwards!

Talk about la sérendipité!

Mille mercis to Nicole of The Bookworm of Edwards for organizing a wine tasting/book signing event for Jean-Marc and me. We appreciate the chance to gather with locals in this beautiful café-librairie!

Bookworm of edwards cafe bookstore books read internet

Coincidentally, I was in this bookstore last fall... having coffee with my sister and a few friends. And even though I didn't voice my thoughts (I wish my books were on these shelves!) The Patron Saint of Bookshops must've been listening! 

Now if that Patron Saint would go POOF! and you all could be there with us March 10th....


FRENCH VOCABULARY

le/la gosse = kid
le chien = dog (read about Breizh)
le vignoble = the vineyard (read about our vineyard)
un but = goal, aim, intention
le père = father
la soeur = sister
la tante = aunt
l'oncle = uncle
la sérendipité = serendipity
mille mercis = a thousand thanks

Bookshop books bookworm of edwards colorado booksigning
Here again is a link with more information about our wine tasting/book signing event. Thanks for sharing this info with a Francophile or wine lover!

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Bilingual post & hommage to four young men who left us too soon.

Four bright stars above Serre Chevalier alps mountains
Stars over the Valley of Serre Chevalier. Jean-Marc took this photo on the way back from a quiet gathering to console our close friends who have lost their firstborn. Four young men lost their lives in the car accident early Saturday morning. The entire Alpine valley of Serre Chevalier is in mourning. The following bilingual post was written in the car on our way home from the funeral.

TOUTE NOTRE TENDRESSE
Une semaine après être revenus des Alpes, nous y sommes subitement retournés. Nous voulions soutenir et exprimer toute notre tendresse à nos chers amis Isild et Guillaume ainsi qu'à leur fils Edgar, leur famille, amis, proches suite au décès tragique de leur fils aîné Arthur. 

One week after coming back from the Alps, we suddenly returned. We wanted to support and to express all of our tenderness to our dear friends Isild and Guillaume as well as their son Edgar, their family, friends, those close to them following the death of their oldest son Arthur. 

Dans l'église "La Collégiale" à Briançon, aussi majestueuse que les montagnes qui l'entourent, nous étions plus d'un millier à écouter les témoignages d'amour portés par leurs* familles et tous ceux qui l'ont connu.

 In La Collégiate church in Briançon, as majestic as the mountains that surround it, we were more than one thousand (in attendance) to listen to the testimonies of love delivered by their* families and all that knew them....

L'émotion était d'autant plus forte que l'accident a coûté la vie à quatre* jeunes hommes , tous membres de l'équipe de ski de Serre Chevalier, tous âgés de dix sept a vingt ans.

The emotion was even stronger given that the accident cost the lives of four young men, all members of the Serre Chevalier ski team, all aged from seventeen to twenty years old.

Dans ces circonstances si bouleversantes, il n'y a pas de mots pour soulager nos amis. En espérant que tout l'amour présent lors de cette poignante cérémonie puisse leur apporter le réconfort dont ils ont tant besoin.

In these overwhelming circumstances, there are no words to relieve the pain of our friends. In hopes that all the love present during this poignant ceremony can bring them the comfort that they greatly need.

In honor of victims Serre Chevalier
During the long drive back to La Ciotat, we listened to the song chosen by Arthur's family. Love of My Life by Queen (click on the Eagle above to listen) had echoed through the massive La Collégiale cathedral as the light poured in from the giant entrance, sweeping across the crowded pews, gracing all in attendance.

Collégiale_Notre-Dame-et-Saint-Nicolas_de_BriançonImage Par LPLT — Travail personnel, CC BY-SA 3.0

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Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution is vivement appréciée! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
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Something 'Pink' about the French (and it's not rosé wine) + coûter la peau des fesses

Valensole France paint in provence artist art tour travel group
The lavender fields of Valensole beckon, their heavenly scent entices, and the backdrop of the mountains make me yearn to paint them. Why not come and paint them with me? Trip/tour info at Tessa's site Paint Provence With Tess or email tessabakerart@gmail.com


PQ, immanquable, le coton-tige, peau des fesses...
(Today, all the new vocabulary words are in the story...so hup, hup, let's get going....)

Learn speak understand french grammarSchaum's French Grammar--for those who want a daily workout for their French! Click here.

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

"A French Quirk?"

One thing I began to notice after moving to France was all the pink toilet paper! The supermarket shelves were full of it as were all of the petits coins de la France: it stood out at friends' powder rooms, was inmanquable at restaurants and the rest stops along the autoroute.  The ubiquitous pink tissue (more polite than 'PQ'...) dots itself across l'Héxagone in one great question mark!

In spite of being the biggest Francophile in the world, one who put every quirk of French life up on a pedestal, I could not relate to the French penchant for le papier rose. And as soon as I learned that le papier blanc did indeed exist, I begged my husband to buy it instead. Like this, our house has been free of pink toilet paper for twenty years now.

But last week my daughter did the shopping, returning with a toilet paper value pack. 24 extra big rolls of PAPIER ROSE. "They didn't have anything else," Jackie explained. So touched that she had noticed this quirk of her mother's, I all but embraced the purchase.  But Jackie's brother downright hugged it! 

"I'll take it! I'll take it!" Max--my son and starving student--volunteered. "I don't care about the color--ça coute la peau des fesses! Toilet paper costs an arm and a leg in Aix-en-Provence!"

Et comme ça the toilet paper problem was settled. It would return to school with a very grateful bachelor.

Then yesterday Tess came over with a lovely group of watercolorists, including one of my readers, Valerie, and three of Valerie's longtime friends: Meredith, Marsha, and Trilby. I didn't make it to the store in time to switch out the pink rolls, and so resolved that if anyone would be okay with pink toilet paper it would be these artists - to whom color is a vital medium (indeed many artists, like my feisty Mother, abhor white! But I am getting off topic...)

As Tess pulled up to the house and I saw all the new faces inside the car, I did my best to appear at ease, even whispering to Tess, as her group exited the vehicle, just how relaxed I felt this time. But my body was showing other signs and, as I spoke my eyes and my nose and my skin began to drip..

Reaching into my pocket, I pulled out a tissue. Having no Kleenex in the house--and certain this friendly-looking group of women would take no offense--I proceeded to dry my eyes and nose and brow with a wad of pink toilet paper. "So lovely to see you all, " I sniffed. "What a warm group!" Meantime my body poured out its anxiety, drop by drop.

Once the ladies were settled before their paint trays, I hurried up to the house to check my mascara. Given how my eyes had watered, I was sure to find black streaks running down my cheeks. But I couldn't have imagined the real disaster when I looked into the mirror.

My eyes were plastered with toilet paper! There it was--my old pink foe--stuck to my eyelashes and paper machéed to the crow's feet just beyond! Even more alarming was the realization that I had been posing with the artists for photos...I with little clumps of pink TP glued to my eyes like far-out false lashes!

Using un coton-tige to clean up the mess, I rehearsed what I could say to my guests. But I never got the chance to explain. By the time I walked back out into the sunshine, to rejoin the warm circle of artists, I had completely forgotten about it!

And from this day forth, I shall stock my bathroom with rolls and rolls of pink papier toilette--and so honor the day...that yet one more anxiety up and rolled away. 

*    *    *

Tessa Max and artists paint in provence france
Max (who scored all the pink TP), Tessa and the artists on a Paint Provence Tour that stopped at our vineyard a few years ago.

FRENCH VOCABULARY

hup, hup! = allez, come on
l'autoroute
(f) = motorway, freeway
PQ = (vulgar but popular term) for papier cul (butt paper)
le petit coin = the toilet (the bathroom)
inmanquable = impossible to miss, unmistakeable
le papier = paper
rose = pink
coûter la peau des fesses = to cost the skin of one's arse (to cost an arm and a leg)
un coton-tige = Q-tip, cotton swab

Tessa and max paint in provence france artist retreat
My friend Tessa teaching our Max to paint when he was little. For more info on Tessa's Paint Provence tours in France, click here.

Kristi and max palm tree gardening hat
Doing garden work with my son Max and my Mom (behind the camera) is a wonderful way to rest the mind and the brain. Thank you all for the helpful tips you left me following the story Petits Oublis, about forgetfulness and memory loss.

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Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution is vivement appréciée! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
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♥Send the amount of your choice

"Bonjour, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle


Petits Oublis: 'Forgetfulness', Etourderie, and verb conjugation (listen to it!)

Lavender tour
Experience a Lavender & Vine painting tour. Join our small group with professional instruction at the peak of the lavender season! 10% discount if you sign up in February. Rates and tour info here.


Today's Word: l'oubli

    : forgetfulness, oversight, memory lapse

*New: Don't miss the verb conjugation for oublier, just after today's vocabulary-packed story below...

ListenL'oubli n'est pas un ennemi de la mémoire. C'est un phénomène non seulement banal mais aussi indispensable, qui lui permet de faire le tri dans la masse d'informations qui nous parviennent en continu et qui ne peuvent pas être toutes engrangées. Forgetfulness is not an enemy of memory. This phenomenon is not only banal but also indispensable, allowing it to sort through the mass of information that reaches us continuously and that cannot all be collected.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

I am beginning to concerned about this latest series of petits oublis... so I've decided to come here to talk about it with you. I'm guessing a few of my readers are aged 50 and above, and will have a thing or two to say about the topic of forgetfulness, or  les moments d'étourderie.

When last I misplaced my key and asked Mom if she had seen it.she replied, Darling, you left it in the front door. (Was that a concerned look on her face? The walking-on-eggshells tone in Mom's voice tells me something too: Is it my mood again?) I remember responding in a nonchalant way, Oh, thanks Mom--yes, I was in the middle of bringing in the groceries, I explained.

And yet I feel anything but insouciant about memory lapses, forgetfulness, oversights, flakiness, and forgotten appointments that are becoming some sort of norm lately...

As someone who does not drink, does not take medication, regularly challenges her brain by speaking a foreign language, eats a (mostly...) plant-based whole foods diet, walks daily, prays and gets plenty of sleep how could this be happening to me? 

A few possibilities come to mind: as a ronfleur, or snorer, chances are sleep apnea may be affecting the quality of sleep... And then there is the anxiety that I arrange my life around--it is why I no longer drink alcohol and why good nutrition, sleep, exercise and, recently, therapy is helpful to me. And yet...

When I left the kitchen robinet running for 10 minutes the other day (the irony! I had been filling a bowl in which to wash mes patates...and so recycle the water afterwards!), and then left the oven on after serving the oven-baked fries... I was alarmed at the latest oversights! But panick doesn't help things, now does it? Peace, after all, plays a big part in a well-functioning brain!

So, dearest reader, please chime in in today's comments box with your own thoughts on forgetfulness a.k.a. les petits oublis. Meantime, may those of us concerned with memory lapse take heart in the following thought (whether you remember it or not!):

L’oubli favorise l’innovation, libère la pensée et stimule la curiosité. Forgetting promotes innovation, frees thought and stimulates curiosity. --Simon-Daniel Kipman


*    *    *

There are many tools to help with our memory--including the exercise of conjugating French verbs! Listen to Jean-Marc conjugate the verb oublier

Verb conjugation oublier

j'oublie
tu oublies
il oublie
nous oublions
vous oubliez
ils oublient

French country diary 2019
A tried-and-true memory aid is a good old-fashioned calendar... and this one is a beauty: The popular, beloved French Country Diary makes jotting down appointments and reminders a pleasing , mindful activity. Order one here.


FRENCH VOCABULARY
l'oubli = oversight, forgetting
les petits oublis = forgetfulness
une étourderie = forgetfulness, absent-mindedness, inattention
le ronfleur, la ronfleuse = snorer
la patate = potato, spud
le robinet = tap, faucet
insouciant,e = carefree, unconcerned, untroubled

St. P paint
Photos in today's post are from my friend Beth. Check out her popular Lavender & Vine Tour in Provence. A vacation (and all those heady aromas from the French countryside) will do wonders for one's memory :-)

Beth painting tour in provence

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Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution is vivement appréciée! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥Send the amount of your choice

"Bonjour, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle


French for peninsula + South of France Memories Tour

Memories 2019 logo

Join sixteen women for twelve unforgettable days exploring the beauty of the south of France.  Deborah Bine aka Barefoot Blogger and best selling author Patricia Sands share their passion for their favorite places with you. Spend six days in Nice and six days in Arles ... only move once! September 15 to 27, 2019.  Click here for details ... four places left!

Today's Word: la presqu'île

    : peninsula

Audio: listen to Jean-Marc read the Wikipedia entry below, click here:

La Presqu'île de Giens et les îles d'Or ont été les derniers sanctuaires continentaux de France à abriter, jusqu'en 1940, une population relique du rarissime Phoque moine de Méditerranée, aujourd'hui en voie critique d'extinction.


The Giens Peninsula and the Golden Islands were the last continental sanctuaries in France to house, until 1940, a relict population of the rare Mediterranean Monk Seal, now critically endangered.

The promise of provence
Inspiration for the South of France Memories Tour, Patricia's book.


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Avant-hier, Jean-Marc and I were tourists in a charming southern French peninsula called Giens. It's a place we took our kids every summer, to visit Jackie's parrain, Philippe, and his family who had a pied-à-terre there. Sadly, it was sold, but oh how the memories flooded back...the private beach, the barbequed mussels (Philippe's Dad's specialty), chilled Mouresques, and the decadent Tarte Tropezienne we always brought along with us to share. Here is a tiny picture of the private beach from when Max and Jackie were tiny, and already off on adventures...

Max and Jackie on bord

This recent rush of nostalgia was thanks to our son Max. Earlier in the week he helped me with some marketing matters (he's majoring in this in school...) and, in return, he slyly suggested remuneration: There's a kitesurf school near Hyeres...I'd really love to go... my 23-year-old hinted. Tu peux venir avec moi! 

A mother-son day off--how could I resist?


Giens peninsula mediterranean hyeres
When Jean-Marc found out he wanted to go too...

A 45-minute drive later, and we were cruising down the presqu'île and its familiar marais. Though we didn't see any salt marshes, the swampy area was thick with exoticism for us (residents of the straightforward seafront of La Ciotat). But here in the low-lying grasslands around the Mediterranean, you could sense all sorts of wildness--the wind being one of them!

Oh, ce vent! Il n'y a pas un peu trop? A young woman asked, entering the tiny kitesurf shop. I turned around to see the 4th participant in today's expedition. All the kite-surfers were around Max's age, and they were soon exchanging stories. Max was recounting his recent trip to Dakhla, Morroco, where he and Jean-Marc had the chance to fine-tune their brand-new kite-surfing skills. 

The group, wearing wetsuits, lifevests, harnesses, and carrying their heavy kites and boards, headed down to the waterfront, disappearing behind a row of beachfront properties, to board a speedboat that would take them out to le grand large--the wide sea in all its windy glory. Jean-Marc and I tried to follow along the coast, by car, hoping to find a gap among the string of private properties (including one that used to belong to our friends...). Finally, Papa Poule found a front row spot! (picture above).

We waited 15 minutes until we saw the four kites flying high in the sky... And there was Max's! Bright yellow, orange, and red! Jean-Marc and I shared some jumelles to watch the spectacle from our car, where the sun warmed us. Seeing Max dip in and out of the freezing waters made us cold just watching!

We would have been watching for 3 hours--which is about how long the kitesurfers braved the wind & sea. Instead, we decided to pass the time with a little sightseeing...

Port du niel
We began at Port Niel...and it was as peaceful as it looks! Here in winter, il n'y avait pas un chat! There was practically no one around. This made it challenging to find the pie and tea I was hankering for, but where there's a will there's a way. On trouvera, Jean-Marc promised.

Cafe brasserie le duc
Too bad this beautiful café (a Francophile's dream) was closed. We soon realized we would have to drive up the presqu'ile, away from the charming port, to find civilization--and pie!

Kristi and jean-marc
Me and Papa Poule. 'Father hen' stopped at every gap along the coast to look for our son, announcing, il est là! each time.

Book lending lions club
The next time Jean-Marc pulled over to search for Max, I staved off my dessert cravings by focusing on this little book lending library--a rare find in France! It was placed here by the Lion's Club. I'd love to ring them and see if they can distribute these throughout our area! Meantime, where's my pie?

Port du niel giens
It took a while but we eventually found pie and coffee at a commercial pâtisserie (even if I wash hoping for a homemade slice). I did not get a picture of the mini pinenut tart (out of 100 cakes, Jean-Marc and I chose the very same!), but you will find more pictures on my Instagram.

Max kitesurf kitesurfing france
From the look on his face, can you tell Max had a blast? Oui, il s'est régalé! (And that pain au raisin we brought him from the bakery really hit the spot!)


FRENCH VOCABULARY
presqu'île = peninsula
avant-hier = the day before yesterday
le parrain = godfather; sponsor
pied-à-terre= second home, vacation home
une maurèsque = a pastis with sirop d'orgeat (barley water syrop)
le marais = swamp, marsh 
des jumelles (f) = binoculars
il s'est régalé = he had a blast
Patricia and Deborah
Do check out the South of France Memories Tour, lead by author Patricia Sands and blogger Deborah Bines. I leave you with delicious photos from their previous tours.

South of france memories tour
South of france memories tour flowers
For more about the South of France Memories tour, click here.

 

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La Poubelle (when your work goes POOF! into the galaxy's garbage can)

Sunrise in La Ciotat
You've seen this one before...but does one ever get tired of the sunrise in La Ciotat? Besides, who wants to see a picture of a poubelle...

Today's Word: la poubelle

    : garbage can, trash can, dust bin

2000 French words
Increase your vocabulary with 2000 French phrases. Click here to order the book

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Sometime ago, when we lived at our first vineyard, Smokey and I started a YouTube channel. You may have seen us trying to make something with lentils...or viewed our Yogurt Cake Tutorial. I think you would agree that our golden boy is a natural behind the camera! And, I admit, having my dog alongside takes away some of the behind-the-camera jitters.

Open wine without corkscrew

But as far as vlogging goes, Smokey and I don't have a very good track record. On average, we upload a video every 4 years.... And so on Sunday, 4.5 years after posting How to Open A Bottle of Wine with a Book, I began to feel that creative itch to make a video. Having just returned from the farmers market with a backpack full of goodies, a topic naturally presented itself: We could call our video, What's in My Bag!

Nevermind bad lighting or a bad hair day, Smokey and I were ready to begin filming again! To distract from the gray skies (and our gray whiskers... which have appeared since the last filming...half a decade ago...) we sat within a wide frame and put the focus on the backpack beside us. Malin, non? 

If only we were truly clever we would have been able to save our 4-minute chef d'oeuvre from the ethers of the internet. Gone went the 30-second intro where we ask viewers to send us topics for future videos. And gone went the 3-minutes of footage in which, one by one, we pulled items out of our trusty sac à dos (how Smokey enjoyed grabbing for the parsley and the laitue and the fenouil Not wanting to torture him, I tossed him a datte and we concluded our video with a look at the bright green row of fèves behind us. 

Impec! Satisfied with our recording, we hurried into the house to show it to Jules, who gave it a thumbs up. Go ahead and post it!

If only we had. But no, one of us had to fuss with it (taking screenshots until poof! The footage completely disappeared. Nowhere to be found (not even in the phone's poubelle!

It was hard to let that one go, so, after racking my brain for hours behind the screen of technology, I headed out for a walk to clear my head. And that's when it occurred to me: maybe the universe was sending a message. Maybe I should NOT pursue a new year's goal of making more videos? But then who am I to interpret the universe's message? 

Next I asked my Mom's opinion, my sister's opinion, my husband's opinion--and finally my therapist's opinion. The latter answered with a question: Why are you asking for everybody's opinion?

So, Dear Reader, I won't ask your opinion... instead, I'll ask you to send Smokey and me bon courage. Perhaps we'll return to the farmer's market to refill our backpack, and refuel our dreams.

Warmup video kristi
P.S. Jean-Marc took this warm-up video of me. In it you will hear me answer Jean-Marc's question, What are you going to write about tomorrow? I promise that after viewing it (right here) you won't feel so bad about your own accent when speaking French! To see more Day in the Life videos, look for the follow button at my Instagram account, and keep your eye on my Instagram channel. Many thanks. Note: Instagram  is best viewed on a mobile phone, though you can access it by PC (only you won't see the channel. Not sure why...). Click here for the video.

FRENCH VOCABULARY
malin = smart, clever
chef-d'oeuvre = masterpiece
le sac à dos = backpack
la laitue = lettuce
le fenouil = fennel
la datte = date
la fève = broad bean
impec = impeccable 
Screenshot_20190120-132050
Here's a screenshot from the video Smokey and I made before I accidentally deleted it forever! It's been a frustrating week as far as technology goes: issues with my listserver (which sends out these emails), issues with a built-in editor (which slows down my blog composition sessions), and many discouragements. TGIF! (DMCV: Dieu merci, c'est vendredi!) Enjoy your weekend.

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Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution is vivement appréciée! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
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The Stranger, Part 2 (+ The Word the French say When Smiling for a Photo)

Eglise cathedral church france la ciotat
A series of empêchements might have kept us from bumping into a stranger. Read on for part 2 of our story...

Today's Word: ouistiti!

    : Say cheese!

A ouistiti is also a small creature, this one.

A life of her own emilie carles
A book on my nightstand, and a memoir I've had for a very long time that is even more meaningful to me now. I hope you will enjoy Emilie Carles A Life of Her Own. Click here to order.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse


After smiling ouistiti for the photo, we left our accidental amie there on the cobblestone path and headed inside the art supply store. Mom needed a special product for prepping her unusual canvases (that's a whole other story).

As Jules searched for supplies, I listened to the commerçant, who said he may have to close shop--having lost 17,000 euros since les gilets jaunes began protesting last November. Mon Dieu, this poor man needed customers! Just as that thought ran through my mind, I heard jingle bells. And there, in the shop's entrance, les cloches still swaying on the doorknob, stood our elegant new friend!

Ah, rebonjour, Madame said. I was thinking.... it would be nice to have the photo your mom just took of us, she said.

Mais bien sûr! I smiled, reaching for my phone. Madame, with a perfectly manicured thumbnail, in clear gloss, flipped open her own phone which had rhinestones on it and a tiny screen which caused her no end of frustrations. Voyons... Madame mumbled.

I began searching with Madame until she got sidetracked by a photo album and there began an impromptu vernissage (or art showing of her daughter's works). I like the coquelicot, Madame said. Ah, but I musn't go on. Say, could you send the picture here, she said, pointing to a message box. 

Equally challenged by technology, it took me a few moments to figure out how best to transfer the file, but we succeeded, managing, at the same time, to record each other's phone numbers. A round of Who's On First ensued as we looked for evidence that we had indeed called each other...and so registered our numbers.

Mindful of every delicious minute we were enjoying together in this serendipitous meeting, hélas, the time had come to say goodbye. Kisses on each cheek, and Madame disappeared beyond les cloches, the door chiming behind her.

Only to reopen 10 minutes later....

I have a little something for your Mom, Madame announced. Hanging from her wrist, there was a little lavender gift bag....

Jules thanked Madame for the kindness, and was visibly moved by the surprise. I noticed Mom did not open the gift, and guessed she was going to enjoy the suspense a little while longer....

In the car ride home, I relived the entire encounter. Can you believe it, Mom. It was so easy to talk to her about everything and nothing--and there was so much spontaneous affection. It is rare to speak to somebody this way. I can't explain it... I went on, Madame was... She was...

Mom gazed out the car window, her mind drifting out to sea as she searched for the words I had not yet found. Her thoughts returned in three giant waves, to describe Madame:

She. Was. Real.

*    *    *
(For Part 1 of this story, click here)

Screenshot_20190122-072742
I've not asked Madame permission to post her photo. But there's a snapshot, below, and here is a sketch from my Instagram. I hope you will join me over there, where I post mini-updates and photos throughout the week. I'm sorry for not posting a picture of the gift Mom received. Every story needs an element of mystery, don't you agree? 

FRENCH VOCABULARY

un empêchement = hitch, hindrance
ouistiti! = say cheese!
un/e ami/e = friend
17,000 euros = 19,340 US dollars
mon Dieu! = my God!
les gilets jaunes = the yellow vests, see yellow vests movement
rebonjour= hi again
la cloche
= bell
la poignée de port = door handle
voyons = lets's see
le vernissage = private viewing of art
le coquelicot = poppy
hélas = alas, sadly

Madame and me la ciotat backpack

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Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution is vivement appréciée! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
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"Bonjour, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle


Haphazardly in French + Serendipitous Meeting with a Stranger, Part 1

Lavender and Vine painting tour provence
Experience a Lavender & Vine painting tour! Discover the magical light of Van Gogh this summer (lavender season) or fall (wine harvest). Join our small group with professional instruction to paint in Provence. Rates and tour info here.

Today's Phrase: au petit bonheur

    : haphazardly, randomly

Le bonheur, c'est de continuer à désirer ce qu'on possède. -Saint Augustin
Happiness is wanting what you already have.

January Book-A-Thon....
For two years now I have quietly read your blog, enjoying your triumphs and trials. Unable to sleep one night, I opened your email to find a request to buy your book. It was time for me to step out of the shadows and support your cause. What a delight! I have been unable to put it down. I wish you loads of success. --Jeanne
Blossoming cover
January book-a-thon: buy a book for a friend. Your purchase supports my writing and helps new readers find their way here. Merci! Available in ebook/Kindle or paperback.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

It was serendipity. How else to explain Saturday's meeting with un inconnu?...It was, as Madame said, not par hasard the way we ended up walking, one in front of the other on a cobblestone path at the same point in time....

Time! One minute more, one minute less and we'd never have met. Earlier at home, on our way to the car, Mom had said, Do you have any Kleenex? No? I'll go back and get some. Pockets stuffed with mouchoirs, and in town now, we were stalled another 5 minutes admiring the giant seed pods on a tree we could not name. Lolling about we approached le centre ville on our way to the art supply store, when a gothic church caught my eye. Let's go look! 
Church eglise la ciotat cathedral architecture gothic
To think all of these accidental adjustments in our schedule were not accidents, but were serving to line us up at an exact point on a geographical line of happenstance. There we were, meandering down a narrow street when Mom paused, colliding with the stranger behind her... 

Oh, pardon, Madame! Mom said. Apologizing, she motioned toward the historical buildings surrounding us. 

Ah, oui! C'est magnifique, Madame smiled. At this point she might have nodded and walked off. But she stayed...

Je suis
d'ici... she offered, her raspberry red lipstick drawing us in to such glamour: silver-white hair (I don't have a lot of it, she insisted) in a lovely twist, held up with a barrette. She wore wool pants, a jazzy, printed vest, black boots (they are hand-sewn, I got them at the farmers market!) a long foulard wrapped around her neck and big dark glasses.  She reminded me of one of those characters in Advanced Style.

Mom could not help herself: Look at you! You are so beautiful! The three of us huddled closer, and a conversation ranging from hair loss to the horrors of war ensued.  

(Stranger to Mom): Ah, you were born in '46, and I in '44--when bombs were falling over France! They placed my 4 siblings in various homes, but I was still nursing. The soldiers did not believe it so they squeezed my mother's enormous... (here Madame held out two widely cupped hands for effect...). To this day I am a skinny little thing, Madame concluded. When the Mistral blows through town it carries me away! But I'm out today... no wind! 

Mom was getting cold feet--not from the war story--no, it was the frozen cobblestones beneath her Converse hightops that were making her antsy. But before we moved on, Jules really wanted a photo of Madame ...
 
Je ne suis pas photogenic....Madame insisted--only to jump into my outstretched arm and smile ouistiti! Locking elbows, I marveled at the natural affection coursing through our hearts. Ce n'est pas par hasard...Madame repeated, as she looked up and flashed that heavenly smile.
 
 
*    *    *
 
Lavender and vine painting tour in provence villages art trip europe
The photo in the opening of this post, and this one, are from Beth. I have personally experienced her hospitality during one of her organized trips in Provence. Do check it out, it may be just the adventure you are looking for in 2019! 

FRENCH VOCABULARY
le bonheur = happiness
un inconnu = stranger
par hasard = by accident
le mouchoir (en papier) = tissue, Kleenex
le centre ville = town center
le foulard = scarf, neckerchief
ouistiti! = cheese!

Kristi jules max in kitchen
Recent Instagram post: Three generations, with my Mom, Jules, and my son, Max.

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Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution is vivement appréciée! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
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♥Send the amount of your choice

"Bonjour, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle


Tabouret, fouet, penderie, bonnes idées - and a glimpse into the writing life

Tabouret de bar bar stool
It is not enough to have good ideas, you have to act. If you need milk, do not sit on a stool in the middle of a field in the hope that a cow will pass by. -Curtis Grant (don't miss the French translation below)

Today's word: un tabouret

    : stool, footstool

un tabouret de bar = bar stool
un tabouret de cuisine = kitchen stool
un tabouret de piano = piano bench

Il ne suffit pas d'avoir de bonnes idées, il faut agir. Si vous avez besoin de lait, ne vous installez pas sur un tabouret au milieu d'un champs dans l'espoir qu'une vache y passe.

Hemingway paris writer write
Hemingway's Paris: A Writer's City in Words and Images. Order it here.

My backpack sac a dosA DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
by Kristi Espinasse

The following paragraph was posted with the picture above at  Instagram....

A bar stool with a lot of memories and, sur son dos, a backpack with a lot of souvenirs. It is comforting to have familiar things out. I wore that sac à dos on the plane, in '92, when I moved to France. It somehow got shoved in the back of the closet. Lately, now that I keep it on the chair by the kitchen, I've been taking it out with me, using it for shopping. Today it brought good luck via a touching and meaningful encounter with a stranger. I think that meeting must've swept all the energy out of me (in a good way) and I'm afraid I'll be lazy and not sit down and write about it all. At times like this is good to rest, let the doubts pass, and then exercise a bit of violence with yourself (French for "give yourself a kick in the butt"!). We all need a handy whip when it comes to realizing our dreams....

 

FRENCH VOCABULARY
sur son dos = on it's back
le sac à dos = backpack
un souvenir = memory

REVERSE DICTIONARY
closet = la penderie
to go shopping = faire les courses
lazy = parasseux (euse)
stranger = un inconnu
whip = un fouet


My writing space
This is my writing desk. My computer and paperwork is hidden under that scarf--because this is also my bedroom and in order to sleep I don't want to be thinking about work. Yet, I think about work all the time. Because writing this blog is my life.

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Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution is vivement appréciée! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
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♥Send the amount of your choice

"Bonjour, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle