Voir La Vie en Rose: Mom’s Secret to Facing Challenges

IMG_2225_Original
Mom always said to take a new road each day, which is how I discovered this secret square in La Ciotat. Growing up, Jules also taught me to see things that are not as though they are. More in today’s missive “La Vie en Rose”.

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Jean-Marc returns home soon, in time to begin his Provence Wine Tours. Contact him to reserve a date at [email protected]


TODAY'S WORD: VOIR LA VIE EN ROSE

: to see the positive side of things

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

The weather report was wrong. Fortunately, it wasn't pouring down rain, but there were other traveling ennuis when we drove Mom to the hospital for her eye condition. Coming out of Marseille's Prado Carénage tunnel, my daughter blared her horn. “Mais ils conduisent comme des fous!" she gasped, as the car to our right cut over, causing us to swerve.  “You would have never been able to drive here, Mom!”

“Don’t say that, Jackie! It’s discouraging. I'm sure I could’ve driven. I memorized the map all week," I remarked, from the copilot seat. Currently, we were arriving at "that building with the arched windows" and it was just as Google depicted it.  "Turn left at the BMW dealership Jackie!" There it was, exactly as the online photo in Google Maps indicated. 

“You’re a great driver, Jackie!” Jules cheered from the back. You'd never know from her words that Mom was uneasy. By focusing on the positive, she was now a voyager on an exciting ride, instead of petrified. Listening to our passenger, I’m reminded of a title Mom kept on the bookshelf when my sister and I were growing up. Florence Scovel Schinn’s Your Word is Your Wand was eventually replaced by The Holy Bible which we call "The Living Word." I find the French translation fascinating: The Word, which is considered alive and active appears as "Le Verbe" in certain editions. "In the beginning was The Word...Au commencement était le Verbe..." (Jean 1:1)

Words and vision have always been important to Mom. One of the first lessons Mom taught my sister and me was to see things that are not as though they are. Though it was hard for me to see all the D’s on my report card as A’s, or to view my crooked teeth as straight, Mom’s scripture-based wisdom proved itself in the end--with the help of long hours of study and braces. (Aide-toi, le ciel t'aidera!)

But back to our narrative in which Mom’s faith-filled eyes are, ironically, suffering from inflammation…

The doctor's assistant had already warned me that the European Hospital was in a bad part of Marseille (I guess BMW thinks as positively as Mom...). Outside our car windows, I saw boarded-up businesses and an automobile repair shop covered in graffiti, a lone pair of jeans dangling on a clothesline above. But from Mom's perspective, you’d think we were in a charming French village and not the gritty city. "I love it here. I've always loved Marseille!

"Mom, hold on to my arm!" I urged after Jackie pulled in front of L'Hôpital Européen to drop us off. “What a beautiful hospital!” Jules enthused. Looking around, I saw patients walking with mobile IV drip bags, others in wheelchairs, and some with canes. All looked pale, but to Mom, they were nearly sunkissed.

Mom winked at the giant security guard at the entrance. Meanwhile, I saw the agent de protection differently and began to envision a band of thugs hurrying past us on their way to ER following another règlement de compte.

“Did you see those handsome men pushing the wheelchairs?” Mom said, pointing to the aides-soignants. “When I check in next month I’ll have them race me down the halls and across the street for a glass of wine at that darling café!" To Mom, even the nearby commerces (including les pompes funèbres, or funeral parlor) appeared otherly. 

Having cleared security, now on our way to the first appointment in section C1 of the hospital, Mom’s enthusiasm ramped up, perhaps along with her anxiety. “This place looks like a resort!” This sunny outlook was beginning to affect me and I could now begin to see the clean, modern lines of the great hall which reminded me of a shopping mall. In fact, we were very close to the popular Les Terrasses du Port shopping center, where Jackie had gone after dropping us off. Why not see this place as a little extension of that? Therefore, Mom and I were only in one of the “department stores.” 

In the hospital’s ophthalmology unit, I pulled a number from the ticket dispenser, ushered Mom to a seat, and began rifling through my bag for administrative forms, for Mom's American passport, her prescriptions, all the while translating any instructions to Mom, in English or to the healthcare workers, in French. While Mom found each étape amusing, I sweated them all. The receptionist called our number and fell instantly under Mom’s charm, and I sighed a breath of relief (Ouf! Mom’s insurance card, set to expire in 4 days, had passed inspection). 

We were in the second waiting room when Mom’s doctor appeared with a bottle of eye drops to dilate her eyes. “Enlevez votre chapeau, s'il vous plaît," the doctor said, to which Mom removed her well-worn Panama hat—but not without a little reluctance. Her trademark chapeau is a little like her shield. I held my breath, wondering, would all of her positivity disappear now?

When next I looked over, Mom was smiling demurely. I could see she was smitten by the doctor! It was at this point that I knew Mom would get through this current trial. If there’s one thing in the world that trumps positive thinking, it’s love! 

And I knew, by the grace from above, I’d get through it too, no matter how many times I stumble as a caregiver.

Standing outside on the gritty curb, waiting for Jackie to pick us up, Mom was filled with gratitude, even as the Mistral threatened to carry off her hat. As she held on tight to her Panama and to me, she beamed. "I'm so proud of you," she said. "I'll bet these doctors are impressed with how organized you were!"

Well, I wouldn’t go that far! But then... Il faut voir les choses qui ne sont pas comme si elles l'étaient

 

COMMENTS
To leave a comment or to offer a correction, click here. Thanks in advance! 

La Vie en Rose t-shirt Sainte Ceciile les Vignes
In theme with today's word "voir la vie en rose", here's a picture from the archives. Jean-Marc, resting at Mas des Brun. His t-shirt is a play on words: "La Vie en Rosé" from Sainte Cécile-Les-Vignes.

FRENCH VOCABULARY

Today’s sound file may be difficult to hear, but you’ll enjoy the birds in the background. Jean-Marc recorded it for me in New Zealand, and sent it along with this note:

Found some internet to send you this 
It's beautiful and very wild here 
Will be with you in a week now ❤️

Click here to listen to the French vocabulary


voir la vie en rose = to see life through rose-tinted glasses
l'ennui = problem, aggravating factor
Mais ils conduisent comme des fous! = But they drive like crazy people!
le Verbe (Parole de Dieu) = The Word (Word of God)
L'Hôpital Européen = The European Hospital
Aide-toi, le ciel t'aidera! = God helps those who help themselves
le règlement de compte = settling of scores
l'agent de protection = security guard
l'aide-soignant, aide-soignante = orderly, porter, nurse's aide
le commerce = business
les pompes funèbres = funeral parlor
une étape = one step (or part) of a process or journey
ouf! = phew!
Enlevez votre chapeau, s'il vous plaît = take off your hat, please
Voir les choses qui ne sont pas comme si elles l'étaient = See things that are not as though they are


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Kristi, your posts are a joy! Merci! --Linda A.

Hi Kristi, I thoroughly enjoy reading your columns. All the very best to you and your family. --Debra H

Salut Kristi, Thank you for sharing your adventurous life with us. It is a blessing to read your stories and to learn very practical French that I can share with my students from time to time. May you be blessed with more than enough! --Dawn D.

Your posts add joy to my day, especially when they concern serepdipitous encounters like the one with Jean-Pierre in Ceyreste. They're all part of a bigger plan. Bisous bcp. --Augusta 

Kristi Jules Jackie car ride

My daughter Jackie, right, is driving (the photo is flipped around) Our expressions tell a story: The nerve-racking ride home from the hospital and a treat at the end: Jackie stopped at McDonald’s drive-thru to get her grandmother a sundae.  

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Happy birthday to Ana. As Grandma Jules says, We're so lucky to have you! (Pictured with Max and Loca.)

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

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Il devait en être ainsi: Meant to be (predestined) in French: A Chance Encounter with some Ceyrestens

Primeur in Ceyreste South of France
The sign reads "change of ownership". Today's story takes place in a town nearby: Ceyreste. FYI: The inhabitants are called "Ceyrestens" for men and "Ceyrestennes" for women.

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TODAY'S WORD(S): Il devait en être ainsi

    : meant to be (predestined)

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristin Espinasse

While French greeting cards are interesting and exotic for family back home, I wanted to celebrate my nephew Payne’s college graduation in plain English and was delighted to find a clever card on Amazon France. But, when I received an email informing me I was absent for the delivery and would have to drive to the next town to retrieve my paper-thin parcel (the card would’ve easily fit in my mailbox), that delight turned to dégout. “But we were home all day!” I grumbled to my dog, Ricci. “I’ll bet the driver took the easy route, dropping it with a lot of other packages at the nearest (for him) dépôt!”

While I had a mind to report the rogue livreur, intuition whispered to go with the flow of what Life (if not the driver) had successfully delivered: an opportunity to put my current soucis on hold and get out for some fresh air and flânerie.  At the very least, it would be the chance to practice my driving, which is rusty after all these years of being a passenger.

The Mistral wind in full force, our compact Renault Zoe swayed back and forth along the road to Ceyreste but I made it safely to the village and even found parking. What a pleasure to see the vintage Tabac sign near the church square had not been taken down, and ditto for a few other old businesses including Boucherie Jacky. I would have liked to explore more but the wind was sending my hair flying in every direction and I just wanted to get my nephew’s card and go home to my warm bed for une sieste with my dog.

I don’t know what it’s like chez vous, but in France packages that cannot be delivered to a home address are rerouted to a point relais. It’s a good way to discover and support a variety of local commerces, who go to the trouble of handling the parcels. I once collected a dog leash at a cannabis shop and une couette at a former garage turned optical. For my nephew’s carte de vœux the packet has ended up at a primeur of all places.

The green grocer’s was easy to find, I could see the colorful produce a block away. Entering the shop, there was a customer before me so I mosied on over to the root vegetables and selected a bunch of carrots (for a fresh jus de carotte for Jules every morning to help her eyes). While filling my basket I overheard the shopkeeper talking to the older gentleman:

“I’m afraid we don’t carry fougasse here, Jean-Pierre,” she said gently. “You might try the baker.”

Monsieur looked confused. After a long pause he asked for du lait.

“Sorry, Jean-Pierre. No milk here. We sell fruits and vegetables.” With that, the shopkeeper shot a conspiratorial wink my way. “But I can offer you a coffee. The machine’s in the back.”

“Do you have sugar?” came the hopeful response.

“No, I don’t have sugar….”

Monsieur looked over at me as if I might be able to produce a few cubes from thin air. “It’s not bad without sugar,” I smiled. “C’est mieux pour la santé.”

Vous savez, j’ai travaillé dans le nucléaire.” You know, I worked in the nuclear industry, Monsieur offered, out of the blue.

I gathered he meant What does sugar matter when you’ve worked around radiation? but he was only reminiscing. “I lived in Avignon…and Qatar…and Algeria….(He mentioned a few other cities but I lost track, focusing instead on his innocent eyes, the color of la noisette he would now be drinking if only there was milk in this fruits and vegetables-only shop.

“What was your favorite place?” I set down my basket to listen closely.

“L’Algérie. Oui, L’Algérie...”

“I hear it is beautiful there,” I said.

As the venerable Ceyresten struggled to convey the beauty of North Africa to his captive audience of two, I experienced that rare sensation of time standing still. In that moment, there was no rush, no rigid routine, and no pressure to produce (though there was plenty of produce, green and leafy, surrounding us). When he finished speaking, I reached over and placed my hand on Monsieur’s shoulder, without stopping to think about cultural norms or boundaries.

“That’s lovely. Thank you, Jean-Pierre. Did your sister send you out for anything else?” The shopkeeper smiled, jogging Monsieur’s memory.

“Perhaps,” he said, thinking about it. During the pause, the shopkeeper gestured towards me and I handed over a basket full of carrots. “Oh, I have something to pick up as well. I don’t know why a little greeting card I ordered was delivered here,” I shared. 

The shopkeeper sympathized, “Maybe it was meant to be.”

Driving home I thought about the errant postman, who wasn’t such a bad guy after all. Now, looking at the bigger picture, I see his role as some kind of cosmic carrier, rerouting my own, and a few others' paths that day...and also the role of the tiny parcel, in altering our schedules and so tinkering with Father Time. Perhaps that is peace: when the clock stops ticking and the heart opens up to the moment at hand.

***

I can’t end this update without sharing the message on my nephew’s graduation card: (First, picture a dachshund wearing a party hat): “Well done you clever sausage!” the card reads. Today, this message also applies to my Mom, for her cheery, positive, and grateful attitude while being poked and prodded at Hôpital Européen in Marseille on Tuesday. As we keep Jules in our thoughts and prayers, her French health insurance is set to expire this week. We eagerly await its renewal, crucial for her upcoming 4-day hospital stay and a battery of tests aimed at uncovering the cause of her inflammation.


Dachshund card

COMMENTS
To leave a comment or a correction click here. Merci!

FRENCH VOCABULARY

Audio File Click here to listen to the French pronunciation


le changement de propriétaire = change of ownership
Il devait en être ainsi = it was meant to be
le dégout = strong disappointment 
le dépôt = drop-off site
le livreur, la livreuse = delivery man, delivery woman
le souci = worry
la flânerie = stroll, ramble
la sieste = siesta, nap
le point relais = parcel pickup location
la couette = duvet, comforter
la carte de voeux = greetings card
le jus de carotte = carrot juice
la fougasse = the French equivalent of focaccia bread
le lait = milk
une noisette = “a hazelnut” means a shot of coffee with milk in a very small cup
C’est mieux pour la santé = It's healthier
j'ai travaillé dans le nucléaire = I worked in nuclear

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Thank you for your exceptional content, care and creativity. --Alison S.
Kristin , Thank you for your continued journey to share your life with readers. It is a rare treasure. --Esther D.
Merci beaucoup, Kristi, dune autre américaine d'Arizona (Tucson). --Robin C.

Boucherie Jacky Ceyreste

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

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2.Paypal or credit card
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Jamais Deux Sans Trois: Road Rage, A Flat Tire (Bad Things Come in Threes)

Jules passenger looking over the vineyard in St Cyr sur Mer
"Precious Cargo." Jules, at Mas des Brun vineyard in St Cyr-sur-Mer (That's Jean-Marc in the pink shirt, behind his tractor)

TODAY'S WORD: Jamais Deux Sans Trois

    : bad things come in threes

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A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Last week may have been the most challenging since my husband left for New Zealand. On Sunday, owing to an old and faulty serrure on our front door, I found myself locked out of the house upon returning from church. I hurried around the corner to Mom’s, put all the groceries I’d just bought into her frigo, and ran back to carefully work the key lest it break inside the lock. Forty-five minutes later, the sluggish lock relented. Quel miracle! Another answered prayer, along with the relief of stepping into a cool house! Despite the initial victory, the week was full of trials, each day punctuated by some disaster or another, whether that was Ricci busting a stitch (she nibbled the area) following her operation or the bathroom sink leaking again. And can you believe it all ended with un pneu crevé?

I was lying in bed at week’s end, agonizing about the car when my daughter came into the room. It was 11 at night and she’d just finished a long shift at a bar in Cassis. “Don’t worry about the flat tire, Mom. I'll take care of it.” The next day Ms. Fix-It bought one of those aerosol tire inflators–le dépanne-crevaison for 15 bucks (everyone should have one in their bagnole!), filled the tire with air, and drove to a nearby garage to have both back tires changed. Next, she phoned Max’s girlfriend, Ana, to ask her to drive Grandma and me to the next appointment in Gardanne. (Having unknowingly pierced the tire on the way home from Thursday’s rendez-vous, Jules and I were lucky the tire didn’t burst, sending us skidding across the autoroute!) 


Autoroute south of france
Who wouldn't be skittish when 18 lanes merge after this toll?! Better hurry over to the right, exit Toulon!

"Mom, you are out of practice. Let Ana drive you this time!” As bad as the week was, it was a lesson in asking for help, something that is hard for so many of us. Why is that so? 

Meantime, there was at least one funny moment (and a few misunderstandings) among all the little fiascos last week. The first malentendu happened when Mom showed up at the house, ready for our ride to the clinic. After Mom had carefully washed from head to toe with iodine for her clinic visit, I was surprised to see her wearing the mink hat she had found at the charity shop a few years ago.

“Mom, you’ll need to take off that hat,” I said, remembering that only sterile clothes could be worn after the special antiseptic shower.
“Well, I didn’t know my hat was controversial!” came Mom’s response.

“Oh, Mom!” I sighed, growing increasingly agitated.

It wasn’t until two weeks later that I understood Mom’s words. It was a simple misunderstanding between us (she thought I was judging her fur hat, while my only concern was the iodine bath!). I wish, instead of getting mad, I had simply asked Mom, “What do you mean by that?”

Onto misunderstanding number two and three…

Back in Marseille, arriving for Mom’s eye appointment, I was slowing down in time to look for a parking spot when the guy behind me began blaring his horn. It's been a while since I've experienced la fureur routière, or road rage, given I don't drive often. I cannot share with you here the string of four-letter words he hurled at me, this after an already nerve-racking drive to Marseille. Finally, I pulled aside, letting Monsieur Gros Mot pass. That is when I noticed another patient returning to his car. Quelle chance!

Excusez-moi, Monsieur. Vous partez?” I asked the man who was paused at the wall beside his car, his back toward me. He didn’t seem to hear me so I got out of my vehicle and began to approach when I recognized his curbed posture. Oh! Le monsieur fait pipi… 

Discreetly as possible I returned to the car and, for his dignity and my own, peeled off out of sight to the lower parking lot where, lo and behold, I ran into Monsieur Gros Mot again. I studied my pire ennemi: a thin man wearing a cap. He had found a parking spot and was now darting into the clinic, late, late for a very important date! I made a mental note to have a word with him in the salle d’attente. It might be a very awkward moment but after chauffeuring my precious cargo to her doctor's appointment, only to be raged at, my adrenaline was just ripe enough to give Gros Mot a piece of my mind.

Meantime, Mom pointed out a parking spot under the shade of a mulberry tree, and with great relief our 45-minute trajet ended. We made it to Jules' appointment on time.

The doctor, wearing a surgical cap and glasses, seemed pressed, nevertheless, he was thorough. He hesitated before leading us past a full waiting room, to an office where he had another machine. There he took the time to examine Mom’s eyes until he concluded, “I cannot give your mom the eye injection today. She has inflammation in both eyes. C'est l'uvéite.” 

The eye doctor dictated a note to a colleague before giving me the address of a specialist in Gardanne. All I could think at that moment was, how am I going to drive there, given the morning’s stressful voyage? (Thankfully Jackie and Ana would solve this problem for me later that day.)

On the way home, hesitating at a fork in the road before the freeway entrance I hit a curb and the car lurched. Ouf! That was close! I made it onto the freeway and even passed a few semi-trucks. It wasn’t until later that evening that I saw the flat tire and realized our good fortune after Mom and I didn’t have our tire blow up!

There was a lot to be thankful for including the experienced eye doctor who had taken his time with Mom. 60-something with a wiry build and longish salt and pepper hair, it suddenly dawned on me: the doctor looked just like Monsieur Gros Mot back at the parking lot….

No! He couldn’t be! I thought, of the potential ironic twist in our morning adventure. Then again both men were pressed and in a hurry... Could it be that Gros Mot was the eye doctor who was late for the afternoon shift? The thought of a villain-turned-virtuous amused me to no end. Well, speaking of endings, Tout est bien qui finit bien! All’s well that ends well. We had a caring doctor (no matter who he might have been before he walked into that office). It all goes to show it is never too late to put your best foot forward, de faire de son mieux :-) 

***
Update: Ana drove us to the appointment at the specialist’s in Gardanne, where Mom received some bad news. It is a severe case of bilateral uveitis and she’ll need to go the the hospital in Marseilles for more tests and possibly some antibiotics to treat an infection. Please keep Jules in your thoughts and prayers. And thanks to our angel driver Ana, who offered to drive us to Marseilles for an afternoon of testing, this Tuesday, for Mom.


COMMENTS
To leave a comment or a helpful correction, click here.

FRENCH VOCABULARY & OLD USA DRIVERS LICENCE

IMG_1058

Click here to listen to the French pronunciation

jamais deux sans trois = bad things come in threes
la serrure = lock
le frigo = fridge
quel miracle! = what a miracle!
le pneu crevé = flat tire
le dépanne crevaison = aerosol tire repair and inflator
la bagnole = car (in informal French)
l'autoroute (f) = freeway
le rendez-vous = appointment
le malentendu = misunderstanding
la fureur routière = road rage
quelle chance!
= what luck!
Excusez-moi, Monsieur. Vous partez? = Excuse me, Sir. Are you leaving?
faire pipi = to go pee
Monsieur Gros Mot = Mr. FoulMouth
le pire ennemi = worst enemy
la salle d'attente = waiting room 
le trajet = trip, journey
l'uvéite = uveitis, inflammation of the uvea
ouf! = whew!
Tout est bien qui finit bien! = All’s well that ends well
faire de son mieux = to put your best foot forward 

Poppies

REMERCIEMENTS
Mille mercis to the following readers for sending in a blog donation this past week. This is a reader-supported journal and I appreciate your help in keeping it going!

Lori R.
Erin K.
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I love your work! --Lori

Thank you for the fun adventures, Kristi!! And good health to Ricci and blessings to Jacqui!! --C-Marie

Ana and Max
My son Max and his girlfriend, Ana. Picture taken in a Photomaton, or photo booth. Did you catch a typo in this post? Thanks for letting me know in the comments.

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


BUTÉ: A Phantom Pregnancy, A Hysterectomy & A New Job + French word for Stubborn

Smiley faces wooden shutters La Ciotat France
Spotted in La Ciotat centre ville: Notice the little slippers, les chaussons, dangling from the highest window. Below, can you see the smiley faces on these pink pots? Smiles here at home, as well, now that our dog is feeling better after undergoing surgery one week ago. Also, read to the end to find out who got a new job!

TODAY’S WORD: BUTÉ (bew-tay)

  : stubborn

Other French words for stubborn include têtu, obstiné, and entêté

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A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

It all started with an unusual stream of yippy yelps, followed by moaning, crying, and whining. Next, came the overly amorous advances toward our couch pillows, les coussins, and the realization our chienne was acting very odd lately.

It must be the breed, I shrugged. American shepherds are highly vocal, intelligent, and need a lot of attention and care, in addition to loads of activité physique. Perhaps Ricci wasn’t getting enough exercise, now that Jean-Marc was away in New Zealand? My morning beach strolls and evening circles around the block were not enough to work out all that pent-up energy in our 3-year-old toutou.

But when the local male dogs began making a demi-tour along the boardwalk, bee-lining down to Ricci at the beach (their owners shouting “Reviens!”) we began to suspect our dog was in heat again.

Jackie figured it out first: “Elle est en chaleur!

“But it’s only been two months since her last cycle,” I said, unbelieving. 

“Better take her to the doctor,” Jackie urged.

 A trip to the véto produced more than a few surprises. The first was an encounter with a reader of this journal, who revealed herself with a soft-spoken Bonjour, Kristi.  I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard my name spoken by a stranger! Stéphanie was on her way out with her cat when, on our way in, we held open the door in time to make the connection. During a few aller-retours (there were a total of 3 cats to transfer to her car) we learned we were near neighbors! 

"A bientôt pour un café!" Waving goodbye to our new friend, Jackie and I continued to the front desk, where we were led into the examination room with Ricci—in time for surprise number two and three…

Not only was our dog in heat, she was in the middle of une grossesse nerveuse—a phantom pregnancyas evidenced by the lait maternel she was producing, and also by the échographie. The ultrasound also revealed water in her uterus. The vet explained that not only was this not safe, but it could affect fertility which made me wonder if this is why our dog—a former chienne reproductrice—was retired from breeding and put up for sale?

We made an appointment for an Ovario-hystérectomie (for a week later, the time for the "Finilac" medication to suppress or  end the lactation) and then waited nervously until Ricci came out of surgery.                                            

The past week, post-op, has been a challenge given our dog is one stubborn patient, refusing to drink enough or to "do her business" (faire ses besoins) as usual. But then this isn't business as usual, after an invasive procedure, and who wouldn't be bull-headed when struggling with a large plastic cone? While we call it an “Elizabethan collar,” the French have their own shameful synonyms for the plastic contraption designed to keep dogs and cats from licking their surgical wounds:

1) la collerette de la honte (cone of shame)
2) l'abat-jour (lampshade)

While those are amusing terms, our cone-headed convalescent is not smiling. Elle boude. She’s also refusing to come when I call her, obliging me to pick her up and haul her up and down the stairs. And, once in bed with me, she runs circles around the mattress like a bull in a china shop, her roughhousing punctuated by an abrupt KICK! as she settles beside me, finally, only to groan.

"She’s such a drama queen!" Jackie laughs, seeing through the act. Because the moment we remove the cone Ricci’s hummingbird energy instantly returns. But put the cone back on again and she reverts to a slug….

She is stubborn! In fact, I think she wins The Most Stubborn among all our feisty family members. Just to be sure, I check with Jackie…
"Who is the most stubborn? Grandma Jules or Ricci?"

"Grandma."

"Really?" I’m surprised.

"Ok, who’s next after Grandma and Ricci?

"You!"

"Me?” (And here I thought I was a pushover!) "Oh well, stubborn people rock!"

"True!" Jackie laughed. Well, that makes Grandma Jules a rock star…and little Ricci a Rockette. As for the other stubborn members in our family, I'd say Max, Jackie, and Jean-Marc tie for 4th place!

Off now to cater to our doggie drama queen. One more week of the cone, er—la collerette de la honte—and Ricci can hold her silky head high again. I think I will be as relieved as my dog when that annoying, clumsy piece of plastic is finally removed. Bon débarras!

IMG_2022_Original
My daughter, Jackie, and Boo-Boo (one of the million terms of endearment for our dog. How many do you have for your animal de compagnie?) 

And now for some good news: Jackie has a summer job bartending in Cassis before she enters business school in the fall (à suivre...to be continued...).

COMMENTS/CORRECTIONS
To leave a comment or to alert me to a typo or mistake, click here. The comments box will ask you to note a "website url" but this is unnecessary (in case you were wondering). 

FRENCH VOCABULARY

Sound file: listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the French terms below

La Ciotat = La Ciotat
le centre ville
= town center
le chausson = slipper
buté
= stubborn
le coussin
= pillow
la chienne = female dog
l’activité physique = physical activity 
le toutou = dog (in slang)
le demi-tour = U-turn
Reviens! = Come back!
Elle est en chaleur = she’s in heat
le véto (Veterinaire) = veterinarian
à bientôt pour un café = see you soon for a coffee
une grossesse nerveuse = a phantom pregnancy 
l’échographie = ultrasound, sonogram
le lait maternel = breast milk
une chienne reproductrice = breeder
réformé(e) = retired
l’hystérectomie = hysterectomy
faire ses besoins = do your business 
la collerette de la honte = cone of shame
l'abat-jour
(m) = lampshade
elle boude = she's pouting
bon débarras! = good riddance!
un animal de compagnie = pet

REMERCIEMENTS
Sincere thanks for your blog donations—every bit helps to keep the wheels of this website & its newsletter turning. As a reader in France wrote recently, after sending in a check:
"It is a very small support but as we say in French "les petits ruisseaux font les grandes rivières." Small streams become great rivers. --Odile

Tim A.
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Linda H.
Andrée M.
Martin R.
Mazzie W.
Micheline J.

Ricci dog with blow up surgical cone
I bought this blow-up cone online but it did not work for our long-nosed dog! So it is back to the plastic collerette de la honte.

MVIMG_20180823_140106_Original
La Route des Souvenirs/Memory Lane: Picture of Mom with some delightful locals taken after Jules moved to La Ciotat from Mexico in 2018. Wish Mom luck as she returns to the clinic today for another injection. (And wish Ricci luck as she'll be on her own with her big cone while I drive Mom to Marseille.)

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Bougeotte = Wanderlust, the need to move about + A New Attraction The Paris Airport

Charles de Gaulle airport paris photo by Dmitry Avdeev
Terminal 1 at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. Photo: Dmitry Avdeev

TODAY'S WORD: BOUGEOTTE

    : wanderlust, travel bug
    : restless, ants in your pants, move about

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristin Espinasse

Special thanks to those who have signed up for one of Jean-Marc’s Provence Wine Tours. For anyone interested, there are a few places left so don’t delay.  And now, if you are new to this journal, here’s a brief intro to my husband of 30 years, “Chief Grape.” 

After graduating with a degree in accounting, Jean-Marc made a career U-Turn to pursue a growing passion for winemaking. We left Marseille in 1995, after the birth of our son, for St. Maximin, where Jean-Marc became sales director for Château Ferry Lacombe. Next, a headhunter wooed him over to the prestigious Château Sainte Rosaline in Les Arcs-sur-Argens (where, incidentally, this blog began). From there our future vigneron did a brief stint at GAI (an Italian bottling machine manufacturer) before buying his first vineyard in Sainte Cécile-Les-Vignes where he made his first award-winning wines, including Lunatique. Five years later he acquired his dream vineyard near Bandol. (If you read our memoir you know how this ended.). Pulling himself back up by his rubber bootstraps, Jean-Marc stepped out of that bucket of grapes and into his first boutique, creating a successful wine shop here in La Ciotat only to develop la bougeotte, itchy feet or wanderlust, once again! When Jean-Marc suddenly sold Le Vin Sobre in 2023, he left many of us wondering just what would Chief Grape think up next? 

A little over a year later and he can finally spill the grapes….

Introducing “Bougeotte": Disco, Wine & Spirits Bar.
Combining three of his loves: travel, spirits, and dance, our intrepid traveler’s comeback is sure to make a splash at the Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport where it is set to take off this fall. Catering to wine lovers and those who are looking for something physical to do during a 2, 4, 8 or more hour layover, the disco bar will be known for its pre-departure dance-a-thons.

Needless to say, we are all doing a happy dance, given a very real risk of losing our Chief to New Zealand (where several headhunters have already tried wooing the French winemaker over to their wine cellars once his contract at Whitehaven Winery is finished at the end of the month). 

L’EQUIPE (THE TEAM)
Working together as a family, this new boogie business fits neatly with the skills of each family member: our son Max (also in the wine business), graduate of Montpellier Business School, is securing the airport rental space and the alcohol license. Our daughter Jackie (former bartender), recent graduate in web design, is in charge of the bespoke drinks menu & the website, and Grandma Jules, after a recent slumber, is ready to put her people skills to use at the hostess stand. I offered to handle the coat/baggage check, where I can sit at a desk with my laptop and write (think of all the colorful characters I’ll have for inspiration…). Ricci our American Shepherd, will be our in-house emotional support dog for weary travelers and Max’s girlfriend Ana, a kinésithérapeute, or physiotherapist, will advise on dance moves to combat the effects of long-haul travel. Finally, my sister-in-law, Cécile, a movie set builder, with skills in masonry and ironwork, will design the wooden dance floor and the main attraction: a fantastic wrought iron cage suspended in the air by a giant chain. We call it our safe haven for that customer wishing to consume more than a few drinks. Once their alcohol level returns to “well-behaved passenger” level (to be verified by a lazer wand, pictured below) a door on the cage will spring open and our tipsy-no-more traveler will make it to their gate on time!  

TRAVEL ASSISTANCE TO PARIS CDG AND BEYOND
My best friend Susan, CEO of Critics Choice Vacations, is flying in on Saturday to help set up a CCV antenna booth, where we will be able to rebook passengers who, reeling from so many dancing endorphins, have decided to extend their Paris layover in time to join us for our Dimanche Dance-a-thon (Kristi’s favorite as it is gospel music only on Sundays. Oh Happy Day!). 

That reminds me, I am also in charge of communications and my first job is to program ChatGTP to write a press release. (See below.) Oh, and for those of you who have already reserved a Provence Vineyard Visit with Jean-Marc this summer, be assured Chief Grape (soon-to-be "Chief Disco") will honor every appointment through September 23rd when Bougeotte Disco, Wine & Spirits Bar opens. Better bring your dancing shoes because he’s so excited about his new Paris project he’s liable to danser le Mia*.

*video at the end of this post

Le_Café_de_la_Danse photo by Blisten
Bougeotte Underground Disco. If you look closely, the glass wall in the back looks onto the underground Paris catacombs which extend all the way out to Charles de Gaulle. Who knew they were that far-reaching!

Cage in paris
Le Cage. That wand you see will be used to measure alcohol level via the palm. photo: Antoine Tavneaux. I leave you with our press release:

**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE**

**Introducing Bougeotte: Paris's Newest Airport Disco Set to Open at Charles de Gaulle Airport**

Paris, France - April 1st, 2024 - Travelers passing through Charles de Gaulle Airport will soon have a groovy new destination to unwind and dance away their travel fatigue. Bougeotte, an innovative airport disco conceptualized by renowned entrepreneur/winemaker Jean-Marc Espinasse, is set to open its doors on September 23rd, 2024.

Derived from the French term for a person who loves to move around or travel, Bougeotte promises to be a haven for jet-setters seeking a unique and energizing experience at the airport. Strategically located just after customs, the disco will offer travelers a refreshing escape before embarking on their onward journey.

One of Bougeotte's standout features (apart from “Le Cage”) will be its signature drinks menu, by Jackie Espinasse, curated to combat the effects of jet lag. Patrons can indulge in anti-inflammatory concoctions such as the "Melatonin Margarita" and the "Pistachio Pina Colada," specially crafted to rejuvenate weary travelers and set the mood for an unforgettable night (or day) of dancing.

In addition to its eclectic beverage selection, Bougeotte will feature a large-screen TV displaying dance moves tailored to alleviate the discomfort of long-haul flights, including the notorious "jambes lourdes" (heavy legs). Guests can follow along and shake off the weariness of travel, embracing the rhythm and energy of the disco.

Jean-Marc Espinasse, the visionary behind Bougeotte, expressed his excitement about the project, stating, "Bougeotte is more than just a disco; it's a sanctuary for travelers to unwind, connect, and immerse themselves in the joy of movement. We're thrilled to bring this innovative concept to Charles de Gaulle Airport and provide travelers with a memorable experience that transcends the ordinary—while sparing them from the usual airport money grabs, i.e. all those duty-free shops."

Bougeotte invites international travelers with an upcoming layover in Paris to join in the celebration of movement, music, and Mourvèdre. Mark your calendars for September 23rd, 2024, and prepare to experience the magic of Bougeotte at Charles de Gaulle Airport. 

For more information and updates, visit Bougeotte's website at www.APRILFOOLS.com

Media Contact: Kristin Espinasse  [[email protected]]


COMMENTS
Did you fall for this year's April Fools story? I'd love to know here in the comments.


NOW LET ME EXPLAIN THOSE PHOTOS (From Wikipedia)...
Nightclub photo (by Blisten): this is actually La salle du Café de la Danse à Paris
Cage photo (by Antoine Tavneaux): A Faraday cage in operation: the women inside are protected from the electric arc by the cage. Photograph taken at the Palais de la Découverte in Paris (Discovery Palace) 

REMERCIEMENTS/THANKS

Mille mercis to the following readers who sent in a donation following my "fou rire" post. This truly is a reader-supported journal and I appreciate your help in keeping it going!

Anne U.
Kitty W.P.
Natalia R.
Maureen D.

With thanks and love from Kitty WP, Niagara Region, Canada

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Fou rire? Éclat de rire? How to say deep belly laugh in French

Dusk in La Ciotat old port mediterranean
Dusk in La Ciotat, where today’s story begins…

Jean-Marc’s PROVENCE WINE TOURS begin again in May! Cassis, Bandol, Châteauneuf-du-Pape—don’t miss our beloved winemaker’s favorite stomping grounds for grapes! Click here.


TODAY'S WORD: FOU RIRE


    : the giggles, hysterical laughter, deep belly laugh


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

It's dusk and I'm alone at home, emptying the dishwasher. When Ricci suddenly starts barking, I look over at our baie-vitrée only to startle at the sight of a figure looming beyond the glass, on the front patio. Our dog is yipping like crazy now, causing my heart to leap. Qu'est-ce qui se passe? Qui est là?

Ouf! Exhaling a sigh of relief, I recognize the young woman wearing sweatpants and a hoodie. Back now from her boxing class, it is only my "coloc," my roommate as she jokingly calls herself. I unlock the glass door to hear laughter on the other side. "Oh, Mom! You should’ve seen your face!"

"Trop drôle!" Har, har! I say, stepping aside to usher my daughter into the house. Noticing all the groceries, I wonder, hadn't I sent Jackie for some veggies and meat, seulement? Memories of my own antics when I lived with my dad flooded back—a time when I'd occasionally sneak in a Vogue magazine or some Maybelline mascara alongside our groceries, courtesy of Dad’s credit card. 

Still, I can't help but want to audit this latest grocery haul, and my daughter, as usual, can read my mind: "What’s up, Mom?" Jackie says, in her relaxed way. After two seconds of self-control, I blurt out my thoughts: "It’s just that I hope you didn’t buy things we already have…." That said, I resolve to keep the peace, even if I'm imploding inside. I will always struggle to lâcher prise. But it’s worth asking, now and then, just what is it I'm holding onto?  

Meantime...

Given Carrefour supermarket has an extensive beauty section, I'm wondering if un masque concombre purifiant or another soin intensif capilaire got mixed in with our "groceries." I'll just have a peek, now and then, as Jackie puts away les courses and I resume unloading the dishwasher.

"Bread?" I say, looking over from the cupboard. "But we already have that."

"Mom, I want to make sandwiches this week," Jackie says, with a hint of exasperation. She's tired of my one-pot meals? But they're convenient: make once and feast for days! Next, my volunteer shopper sets down a bunch of citrons verts

"Jackie! What do you need 12 limes for?"

"I like to cook with them, and they're great in water," she explains, with a touch of mischief.

"Well, OK," I relent. "But you know I can’t bear to toss out food."

"That I know!" Jackie laughs, recalling the 5-day-old chili I ate for breakfast. "I’ll pray for you!" she had said. I was touched by my daughter’s sudden piety…until I realized she was teasing me (she'd prayed I would survive the chili!).

(Prout! Prout! [Toot! Toot!] Evidence I’m still alive!)

Next, I stumble upon some cheese. "Parmesan. But we already have some!"

"I like the grated kind, Mom. It's for some carbonara I’m making you. Allez oust! Go do something else!"

"OK. OK!” I’m a few steps out of the kitchen when… “By the way, how was your meeting at the fitness club in Marseille? Did you sign up?"

"It was great. Yes, I signed up," Jackie smiles.

"Did you pay three months upfront?"

"I did."

"You did!" I say, surprised by an involuntary, head-to-toe wiggle punctuating my words.

"Mom? What did that mean?" Jackie laughs, mimicking my wise-cracking wiggle.

"I don't know!" I play dumb, but my body language has already given me away. I can now see how uptight I am being--so much so my body’s trying to wiggle me out of it!

“Just what was that?” Jackie teases, doing The Wiggle as she speaks, easing a few giggles out of me.

“Nothing, it’s just…” I begin to laugh… “You spent the same amount on your gym membership as I just spent on groceries…and I guess I was trying to make a point!”

Wiggle, wiggle! Jackie illustrates she gets my point.

But of course, she does! She can read me like a book. Not only does she have a high emotional IQ, but she’s street smart too, having weathered her share of mésaventure. After getting scammed in Miami and returning to France, Jackie has gradually built back her savings, her self-esteem, and enough trust in others to move on. That she can laugh this way today and encourage others to do the same is a testament to her strength. I can see it as we stand there bantering in the corner "ring" of our living room:

Jackie, still in her boxing attire, still laughing, performs a left-right punch to the air, signaling to me to loosen up a bit. Her antics are disarming and by now I’m laughing so hard my stomach muscles hurt. Ça y est, I think I know what it is I’m holding onto, after all: a lot of fou rires. It is clear I need to let go and laugh more often. And don’t we laugh the hardest with the ones that know us best? Their message is the same: you’ve got to laugh at yourself, let go and let others help you to do so.

Prout! Prout! From here on out I vow to keep trying! 

 

Jackie with sunglasses
Jackie, in Bormes-Les-Mimosa two summers ago.

COMMENTS & CORRECTIONS
Thank you for taking the time to comment. Your corrections are helpful and appreciated. Click here to leave a message.

FRENCH VOCABULARY

Click here to listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the French and English vocabulary


la baie-vitrée
= glass door
Ouf! = phew!
le/la coloc = housemate
trop drôle = ha ha (sarcasm)
seulement = only
lâcher prise = let go
le supermarché = supermarket
un masque concombre purifiant = purifying cucumber mask
le soin intensif capilaire = intensive scalp treatment
les courses = groceries
le citron vert = lime
Prout! Prout! = Toot! Toot!
Allez, oust! = Go! Get out of here!
la mésaventure = misfortune

REMERCIEMENTS
Sincere appreciation to readers supporting this journal via a donation! I would be too tempted to slack off from my weekly writing deadline if it wasn't for you!

Sara S.
Linda F.
Patty C.

Chuck V.
Claudia P.
Arlette G.

Laurence S.
Marianne R.

I have enjoyed French Word A Day since about 2006. I always learn something - about French or France, about Les Espinasses, about human nature and life. It's a great blog. --Marianne R.

I really enjoyed today’s story. Your words are so visual that it feels like I witnessed the whole thing! Thank you! Linda F.

Ricci paws and pebbles
Stumbled across these artistic rocks on the beach, with beautiful handwriting. What is the story behind them? Why were they left behind? Share your guesses in the comments.

Paws and pebbles on the beach
When we were looking for a dog, Jackie suggested the name Marcel--because it is "doux" (soft). We then found Ricci and kept the name she was given, even if it sounds like Richie to me. (To think, she might have been...Marcella!)

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Une Friandise: Chocolate Sundaes following Jules's visit to the Ophtalmo

Jackie dessert
I typed the word friandise into my Google photo album search box and voilà, a photo of my daughter and one of her all-time favorite sweets appeared: strawberries with chantilly cream. 

Jean-Marc’s PROVENCE WINE TOURS begin again in May! Cassis, Bandol, Châteauneuf-du-Pape—don’t miss our beloved winemaker’s favorite stomping grounds for grapes! Click here.

TODAY'S WORD: UNE FRIANDISE

  : a sweet treat

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

In the salle d'attente at the eye clinic in Marseille, everyone is wearing shower caps. A male nurse breezes in, administers eye drops to a half-dozen patients, and disappears. A faint scent of iodine lurks in the air--evidence everyone has (hopefully) followed instructions to shower with Betadine the night before and day of the ocular intervention. So much scrubbing seems a bit drastic given patients remain fully clothed during the 10-minute procedure to treat a certain pathologie oculaire caused by macular degeneration. I wonder, did Mom remove her hat? I had a lot of questions, but having delegated Jules’s doctor's visit to my daughter, I would not know every detail of the intervention. But I did get as much info as possible, so on with our story...

Back at Clinique Chantecler, Jackie, also wearing a shower cap, is sitting beside her grand-mère. For the entire ride to Marseille, Jules sat quietly in the passenger seat, nervously filing her nails (hard as a rock from the potassium tablets the opthalmo prescribed for her eye tension). The male nurse reappears, asking all the patients to hand over the box with the aflibercept injection they were prescribed (to be stored at home in the refrigerator and brought to today's appointment). Not surprisingly, half the room has forgotten to bring the medicine. Did they leave the box beside the cheese and the cornichons... as we might have? No, too many precautions were taken here at home…in the form of numerous sticky notes strategically placed around our house, in addition to my phone alarm. While I did entrust my daughter with expediting Grandma to the clinic, I didn’t leave every detail to her. 

Jackie dug through her bag, where, beside her grandmother's medical folder, and her immigrant insurance card, she located the shot box. 
"Merci, Mademoiselle," the nurse smiled. Little did Jackie know she was earning brownie points for later, when her calm demeanor would earn her special hospital privileges. Turning her attention back to Grandma, who is feeling anxious about the upcoming needle in the eye, Jackie is reassuring: "Don't worry. I'm sure it will go quickly, Grandma. After, I’ll take you for ice cream!"

 The other patients, mostly senior citizens, seem intrigued by the two foreigners. One of them reaches out: "Votre grand-mère est anglaise?" Your grandmother is English?

"Non. Elle est américaine," Jackie answers. "Elle a un peu peur." With that, the other patients are quick to offer comforting words:

"Oh, c'est rien!" says the woman with the plastic shield over her eye. Another adjusts his surgical cap,  "Vous verrez, ça ne fait pas mal du tout." The woman with a bandage agrees: "je viens ici chaque mois." The youngest in the group, a businessman here during his lunch hour, smiles warmly, "C'est comme une lettre à la poste!"

Jackie translates each encouragement. "You see, Grandma. It'll be as easy as posting a letter!" But there was no time to explain the postal expression as Jules was soon summoned to the eye injection chamber (if words could paint Mom's imagination at this point.) 
"Mademoiselle, vous pouvez accompagner votre grandmère." Good news, the doctor just made an exception to the patients-only rule, letting Jackie assist her grandmother during the treatment.

(The next ten minutes were not so bad, Mom would later tell me. The hardest part was you had to watch the needle as it approached your eye...)

After the procedure, the foreigner and her petite-fille waved goodbye to the patients in the salle d'attente. At this point, Jackie might've patted herself on the back. But you know the saying: No good deed goes unpunished!  After helping Grandma back into the passenger seat, our Do-Gooder got locked out of the electric car! Now the challenge was for Jules, with one eye bandaged, to find the door handle. But even after the struggle to locate the poignée de porte, the punishment wasn't over. Our little Renault Zoe would not start. A few deep breaths later (and surely some bionic praying on Grandma’s part) Jackie solved the problem by removing the electronic key from its case and using it instead of the dashboard button.

The third strike came when Jules began to suffer a sudden mal de tête. Jackie, our quick-thinking ambulancière, wound the seat back as far as it would go, and soon Grandma fell asleep, only to wake when the two reached le péage in La Ciotat. Before Jules could remember her pain, Jackie reminded her of la friandise she'd promised.

Soon after, I received an update from McDonald's drive-through, "Here in 10," my daughter's text read. "The ice cream's on you, lol, I don't have the money."

I laughed, remembering Jackie had my Paypal debit card from when she did the grocery shopping earlier. I was so relieved the eye intervention was over that I couldn't have cared if the duo ordered sundaes for everyone in line--and knowing Mom she would!  Finally, my telephone chimed with a notification from Paypal that a charge for 7 euros just went through. Well, that was a good deal! After all, a medical cab would have cost many times the price, and it wouldn't have included a doting assistant or a visit to MacDo*! 

In retrospect, entrusting this special expedition to Jackie had been the right decision after all. Not only was it a needed lesson in delegation for me, but it was also an opportunity for grandmother and granddaughter to share meaningful time together. Jackie handled it all with professionalism, ensuring Grandma was in good hands throughout. And while I may not have indulged in a sundae myself, seeing the smiles on their faces was the sweetest reward of all.

COMMENTS
Corrections and messages are welcome and appreciated. Please use this link


FRENCH VOCABULARY

la friandise = a sweet treat
la salle d'attente
= waiting room
la chantilly
= whipped cream
Betadine = an antiseptic used before and after surgery
la pathologie oculaire = eye pathology
la grand-mère = grandmother
l'ophtalmo (l'ophtalmologue) = eye doctor
Vous verrez, ça ne fait pas mal du tout = you'll see, it doesn't hurt at all
la poignée de porte = door handle
le mal de tête = headache
l'ambulancier, ambulancière = ambulance driver
le péage = toll booth
MacDo = French slang for McDonald's

REMERCIEMENTS/THANKS & ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Sincere appreciation to readers supporting this journal via a donation! Your support fuels my commitment to create this column each week. Your generosity truly touches me!

Al K.
Julia G.
Lois H.

Patti R.
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Diane S.
Suzan B.

Susan H.
Sandy M.
Rajeev B.
Jeanne G.
Suzanne H
Larry & Sarah M.

Margaret M S 


Keep up the wonderful writing. Hi from Colorado. --Susan

I admire your frankness, love your photographs and enjoy the stories you share! --Diane 

Thank you. Your blog moves me to tears sometimes. Such courage and such honesty. I know that I am no longer alone in the world. --Jeanne

Un grand merci pour votre newsletter. I so enjoy seeing it in my email and learning new expressions in French. I learned French over 30 years ago and working on my fluency again. Your newsletter supports my efforts. -- Helen

Jules and Kristi painting
My precious Mom, in front of one of her paintings.

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
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2.Paypal or credit card
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Avoir du Cran (To be brave in French) + Mom and I get in a little fight & end up at the circus

Circus curtains billetterie
The curtain is now opening on today's pièce: a feisty (and sentimental) mother-daughter story. My mom loved these circus curtains, seen on a recent walk together. Jules sewed our dresses when my sister and I were little, and these rideaux remind me of our visits to the fabric store.  

TODAY’S WORD: "Avoir du cran"

    :  to have guts, grit, to be brave

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Do you believe that our behavior can provoke the universe? I can't help but wonder when, hours before her eye exam, Mom appears in my room and declares, "I do not want any more doctor's appointments!"...only to be issued, hours later, a slew of new rendez-vous.

Whether or not our conduct stirs the Powers That Be, it moves mere mortals. Not sure how to respond to my mom (or how to deal with the let-down), I choose to reason with her: “But Mom, how many doctor visits have you had in the last year?” I challenge, knowing well we’ve not suffered more than a handful--one or two times to the family toubib, to renew a prescription, and two aller-retours to the ophtalmo after severe pain revealed too much pressure in Mom's eye. But never mind the facts, Jules's mind was made up.

"I'm not going!"

"Mom!  We can't cancel. We're going!"

Sensing some sort of diatribe on my part, Jules quietly exits, shutting the door behind her, against which I unleash a string of gros mots: @#%!! @#%!! @#%!! 

Well, that got her attention. Mom returns. We exchange stubborn looks. I offer an I'm sorry but...!

I'm sorry but do you realise I've arranged my day around this eye exam?
I'm sorry but do you know how hard it is to get a doctor's appointment anymore?
I'm sorry but I am the one handling your healthcare as you don't speak French or drive!

Suddenly, Mom approaches the bed to sit beside me. After a few deep breaths, we are on a walk down memory lane as visions of our life back at the trailer park come flooding forth--including the time Jules tossed our toys out the window after my sister's and my roughhousing damaged our family’s new bean bag, spilling les haricots all over the living room. Mom had her gros mot moments @#%!! but who could blame her as she struggled to raise two girls on her own while working full-time? And yet somehow this single mother managed. Even more, Mom signed us up for Brownies, Girl Scouts, gymnastics, and band, and somehow managed to buy everything from my clarinet to my sister's first car. When my sister had a car accident Mom nursed her back to life and made Heidi return to school to finish the year, despite the scars from several broken bones, in time to go on to college. Heidi became the first one in Jules’s family to graduate from college, and with a degree in journalism! Meantime Jules's worries weren't over: her youngest (moi-même) dropped out of community college and returned home. (I eventually followed in my sister’s footsteps, graduating from college with a degree in French, and began writing after moving to France.)

First car and trailer
My sister's 1970 Camaro in front of our home. That's Shaw Butte Mountain in the background.

"All I want now is peace and quiet," Mom admits, as we sit in bed holding hands, hours before her doctor's appointment. "I am so grateful to live here with you and not to have to worry any longer."

Turning to Mom, I would like to say I understand the struggle and that, at 56, I'm tired too! But one must press on! Only, unlike Mom, I have not been worn down from the stress of trying to pay for ice skates, braces, or clothes at the beginning of each school year. Through it all, we never received the admonition, “Money doesn’t grow on trees!” Instead, Jules instilled a work ethic that had my sister and me earning first an allowance, then cash from babysitting and a paper route, and finally our first paycheck jobs by the age of 15.

"And now here we are in France!" Mom whispers, squeezing my hand. It never ceases to amaze Mom that she is living on the Riviera after surviving in the desert. (Our neighborhood was a senior citizen mobile home park, but Mom convinced the landlord to let us in as she was first to rent a space when it opened. We stayed 11 years. Before it was demolished, we moved on, and Mom eventually settled into a beautiful cabin near Saguaro Lake. Then to Mexico for 22 years before coming to live with us in France.)

“I am so proud of my daughters,” Mom says, turning to me. Jules has kindly forgotten my earlier slur of cuss words and a peaceful truce is once again underway. This wasn’t the first and won’t be our last mother-daughter fender-bender, but we have acquired some tools to hammer out the dents along the way--our shared vulnerability being one of them. Another is forgiveness. Finally, there's grit--the French call it "le cran". Indeed it takes courage and endurance to love and to keep on loving. I love you, Mom. This one's for you. xoxo

***
Update: we made it to the doctor's appointment in time for Mom’s follow-up eye exam. The good news is her eye pressure has stabilized. But she now has to undergo a series of shots to treat the edema, or swelling, inside her right oeil. For that, Jackie will drive her grandma to Marseilles. Wish Mom luck as the first eye injection is today!


Jules getting ready
A favorite picture of Mom taken from the post "Conciliabule: Living With Adult Kids and Grandma"

Jules at the eye doctor waiting room
My beautiful Mom, in the doctor's waiting room, gazing out the window to the Mediterranean. I will always be moved by Mom's strength, courage, and perseverance in the face of so many challenges, beginning in her childhood. Elle a du cran! The French would say. She has guts!

FRENCH VOCABULARY 

Click to listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the French and English vocabulary words

avoir du cran = to be brave, to have guts
le rendez-vous =
appointment, meeting
le toubib
= doctor
aller-retour = round trip
l’ophtalmo = eye doctor
la diatribe = tirade, rant 
le gros mot= swear word, cuss word
l'oeil = eye
Elle a du cran = she has guts!
le conciliabule = secret meeting, Ecclesiastical council

Heidi Jules Kristi Busters Restaurant
Heidi, Mom, and me celebrating Heidi's college graduation from NAU, at Buster's Restaurant & Bar in Flagstaff, Arizona

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Kristi and Jules at the circus trailer

Photo of me and Mom admiring the circus curtains. If you have time, read the story of how my mom sowed the seeds of books (and writing) into my heart. Click here to read "Fireside" (Coin du Feu)

COMMENTS
Your corrections and comments are welcome and appreciated. Click here to leave a message. in the comments section at the end of this post.

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

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Canular: How To Say Practical Joke in French? + Jackie & I have fun at Max's expense...

Paquerette flowers outside Chateau Lumiere
Merci for your encouraging notes following last week's update regarding subscribership. Your words revive me! Today's mischief takes place in La Ciotat (photo snapped outside Le Palais Lumière where a patch of daisies looks as innocent as a team of pranksters in hiding. Read on.) 

TODAY'S WORD: UN CANULAR

    : practical joke, prank, hoax

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Getting cozy on the couch with a cup of tea and our shepherd Ricci, I watched my daughter prepare to leave for her brother's pour rendre un service.

Grabbing the car keys Jackie turned to me, "Mom, why don't you come along to Max's? We can walk Ana's dog while she’s away.” 
Visions of climbing 4 flights of stairs to my son's condo (to lead a scent-obsessed Beagle on a kilometer-long promenade) had me sinking back into the sofa. "J'ai la flemme," I admitted.

"Energy comes in moving!" Jackie countered.

Don't you love it when young people share their wisdom? Jackie is right. I needed to shake up my afternoon routine. Some salty fresh air and, though I didn't know it yet, a little mischievous behavior, would be vivifiant for body, mind, and soul, and who could have guessed the positive effect would ripple out and tickle somebody else in the process.... 

UP AND AT 'EM! (DEBOUT ET EN AVANT!)
If my daughter managed to rouse me, the drive to her brother's fired up every nerve ending in my being as I gripped the handle above the passenger door. "Jackie, slow down! Don't follow so close to the other cars! DID YOU SEE THE PEDESTRIAN???"

Speaking of pedestrian, between beginning today's story and procrastinating its development, I came across the word "pedestrian" and was amused by its various meanings:

1) lacking wit or imagination
2) walking

Isn't it interesting how the very act of walking stirs creative intelligence? Perhaps this explains how, after marching from the car to Max's condominium and up 4 flights of stairs, a creative urge came over me. The urge to play a practical joke on my son. Normally void of ideas for these kinds of bêtises, my mind was now reeling with ideas.

A look around Max’s home revealed he’s been struggling to keep up with le ménage ever since he began his new job two months ago. On top of domestic challenges, he's been exhausted from keeping on top of a new job. A little prank might perk him up.

"Jackie!" I giggled. "Do you know what a practical joke is?"

"No..."

"I'll show you... Let's turn everything in Max's fridge upside down! Here..." I said, opening the door, “Start with the condiments..." While Jackie upended the ketchup, mayo, and pickles, I grabbed a bowl. "Let's put the jar of cornichons here in case it leaks. We just want to have fun--not flood his apartment," I said, bummed that we couldn’t turn over the bottles of beer because of their narrow tops.

As Jackie turned her attention to the shelves, putting everything the wrong way up, I carefully flipped the bowl of onions, peppers, and herbs on the counter, and then made my way over to the spices. Les épices were lined up neatly at the back of la table de cuisson, but not for long...

After we'd somersaulted everything in the frigo and around the stove, I headed to Max’s room when Jackie suggested we stop here. Elle avait raison. We'd made our mischievous mark, besides, there'd be more occasions in which to mess with Max. Especially after he retaliated--no doubt he would!

CHUT NE DIS RIEN!
With a pat on the back we left Izzy the Beagle, swearing her to secrecy: Chut! Ne dis rien! "Now Izzy, don't tell Max what you saw!" With that, we returned home for dinner.... and waited for a call from Max, eager to know his reaction. 

Finally, when the call came, our victim didn't mention anything amiss.

"Where are you?" Jackie quizzed.

"I'm in the basement, organizing some things."
"Oh, anything else new?"
"No," Max replied with a yawn. Jackie and I were feeling let down until an afterthought from Max stirred us again:  "By the way, did you turn over that bowl on my countertop?"

"No..." Jackie responded. Giving me a thumbs up as she spoke into the receiver. "I don't know what you are talking about."

"Bon," Max said, sounding bored. "I've gotta finish up here. Talk to you later." We were sure we'd get a call back, but the night wore on, and not a word from Max.

Meantime, I began to doubt our farce. Was it not clever? But then, a brilliant practical joke isn't about cleverness--its appeal lies in timing. Was this bad timing?

The next day I nearly bypassed the morning prayer to open text messages first thing. The little devil in me was desperate to know if Max had discovered the full extent of our friendly trespass. Surely by now he would have seen the contents of his frigo mis à l'envers.

Still no word from him, I tried to be coy with my message. "Hey, Son. Do you know the term "topsy turvy?"

(No response.)

"Things feeling a little upside down over there?" I persisted.

Finally, my phone chimed! "I saw your joke" the text read. My son's deadpan response killed it -- that wonderful creative buzz born of a pedestrian effort.
"But Max," I despaired, "didn't you think it was funny?" 

"Sure."

Sure

"He's just tired," Jackie remarked when I couldn't let go--until finally I did.

I let go of the fish. In French un poisson is synonymous with "practical joke" or farce. But it may as well be synonymous with "the outcome of things".  It reminds me of the would-be thrill and adventure of writing: the reward, it turns out, lies not in the untouchable outcome but in the golden nuggets we gather along the way. This story (and the fun and games behind it) was born of one child's wisdom and the other’s wisecrackery. Indeed, the old Max will be back. Once he gets the hang of his new job, he'll be back at our home, setting all kinds of traps for the family. After all, we learned these pranks from him—even more, Max has shown us time and again how les badinages and plaisanteries are a good way not to take ourselves too seriously.

Meantime, let the outcome be the uncontrollable outcome. Continue to work, love, learn, and especially to have fun. See you next week, dear reader, for another story about whatever the universe conjures up.

***

IMG_1792
Typical of Max to shake up his professional presentation...with something unexpected! (That's the cereal he and his sister used to eat when they were little). 
You might say our son has been in the wine business ages before we had our two vineyards: At the age of 10, Max rode his bike to town to buy a bottle of wine as a gift for his dad. After consulting with the storekeeper in our little French village, the boy rode home with a Côtes du Rhône!


FRENCH VOCABULARY

Click here for Jean-Marc’s vocabulary soundfile in French & English


un canular = practical joke
j'ai la flemme = I'm feeling lazy
debout et en avant! = up and at 'em!
une bêtise = mischief, tomfoolery
cornichons = pickles
le ménage = housework
les épices
 =  spices
la table de cuisson = stovetop
le frigo = fridge
elle avait raison = she was right
Chut! Ne dis rien! = hush, don’t say a word!
mis à l'envers = put upside down
un poisson = fish
le badinage
= banter
la plaisanterie = joke
une farce = practical joke
une rousse
= a redhead (see photo at the end of this post)

Jackie walking Izzy
Jackie walking Izzy the pocket Beagle on the beach

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Ana and Jackie
In today's story, I mention "rendre un service" (return a favor). After Max's girlfriend Ana dyed Jackie's hair, Jackie offered to walk Ana's dogs, who sometimes stay at Max's. How's that for bartering services? 
Jackie hair color
Looks great, Ana! After blond, brunette…we’ll see how long Jackie remains une rousse.

COMMENTS
Thank you for taking the time to comment. It is a joy to read every note! Click here to leave a message.

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Indice: Jackie's Airport Layover + A “flighty” Hint or Clue Regarding Something I’m Up To

Le Petit Prince airplane on french merry-go-round
Because airports are part of today's update, here’s one of the few pictures from my camera roll in theme with the story. It's a bit of a stretch, but then so is today's update (and that is your first clue).

TODAY'S WORD: INDICE

    : clue, hint

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

As I type this billet my daughter is flying over the Atlantic, halfway between New York and Paris. Jackie's been away 4 weeks, on the road and in the air since earning her B+3 bachelor's degree in Lyon. (Ça y est! It's official: we have a graduate!)

Such freedom after buckling down for the intensive program must feel revigorante. After receiving her UI (user interface) degree, our 26-year-old flew from Marseille to Denver, on to Palm Springs, then to Tulum (le Mexique) where she zipped around on a scooter (mama mia!), then onto her old stomping grounds in Miami, and finally to New York City where former Florida roommate, Ruby, offered a canapé to sleep on and a snuggly Shiba Inu. (Jackie wanted to sneak the puppy into her bagage cabine before leaving.) 

Soon my youngest will land in Paris for a several-hour layover. At Aeroport Charles de Gaulle she'll have plenty of time to think about her next move (more schooling? a job? Or more travel before settling down?). Meantime I'm wondering just what will she do in the Paris airport with all that time on her hands? What healthy alternatives are there to do in any international airport besides drop more money and eat at Chuck E. Cheese (Is there a Chuck E. Cheese in Paris? I know my daughter was asking about it when nostalgia had her revisiting her favorite childhood haunts on her US visit).

But back to costly airport layovers—a subject I’ve been obsessed about lately (more about that in a bit)….A visit online at ParisAeroport.fr reveals a thousand ways to spend-while-you-wait for your connecting flight. From food to fancy fringues, if you're not careful with your portemonnaie your vacation could end up costing even more than you bargained for.

Beginning with food... Brioche Dorée, Ladurée (pastries and candy…), McDonald's, Starbucks--unless you’ve managed to hijack a sandwich from the previous flight (and pockets full of pretzels from the cocktail cart) these airport eateries will be your pricey alternatives....

One could always stick to water. But have you seen the price of a bottle of H20? I don't know about Paris, but a tiny bottle of water was $6 when I landed in Frankfurt 2 weeks ago. It sent me on a nostalgic hunt for the nearest water fountain (located just across the mall from one of the Frankfurter hotdog stands).

After you’ve eaten, you might be tempted by all the airport boutiques--a most dangerous way to pass the time! One more warning: jet lag is like being drunk—your senses are not as sharp. This is not a good time to be making costly decisions. Meantime Bulgari, Céline, Gucci, Dior - line the Paris airport walkways like pricey little traps. A young woman with a credit card could get in trouble!

Say you manage to skip the overpriced food and tempting boutiques (including the glittering joailleries!)—just what is there to do for all those terminally long hours in an airport terminal, international or otherwise? Some sort of healthy activity would be ideal. But what—beyond walking in circles—is available beneath the friendly skies that won't take your wallet for a ride?

They say business is about finding a need and filling it. And this, dear reader, got me thinking about a side gig. Lately, it's been a struggle to keep this blog up and "flying", and now with a sharp decline in readership, I wonder what tomorrow holds. Fifteen years ago, at its peak, this French Word-A-Day newsletter had 50,000 subscribers from all over the world. And now I watch with growing alarm as dozens unsubscribe each week. This journal is becoming a shadow of its former self--even the old saying If you build it they will come no longer seems to apply when readers are rushing elsewhere. But where?

Part of me (the part that doesn’t take things too personally) suspects that with the growth of social media readers are migrating north, leaving the warm shores of the blogosphere for a thrilly-chilly dose of whatever the Algorithm Gods serve up on Instagram--anything to keep us addicted to bite-size bits of information. When I lament about the future of blogging, my tech-savvy daughter tells me You must keep up with the times, Mom! But how to keep up with the times as a writer? Isn't writing timeless?

And so I’ve begun dreaming up a side-gig--un petit boulot supplémentaire--something outside the writing sphere but with the familiar rhythm and beat that keeps my soul singing and my mind dancing. There you have it, dear reader--sphere, rhythm, beat, dancing--a few hints, clues, or indices regarding an idea that’s taken a seat I’m my mind. You might say a seat amidst thousands in a bustling airport terminal. In the next 5 weeks, I’ll flesh out this novel idea and report back to you beginning of April. For now, cha-cha-cha! Time to get up and make a move!

 

Dogs at the airport
One healthy, free activity at the airport during a long layover is dog watching. It's a favorite airport sport. But I may have one better... stay tuned!

FRENCH VOCABULARY

Click here to listen to the French  pronunciation

un indice = clue, hint
le billet =
post, blog post
ça y est =
that's it
survoler
= to fly over
revigorant,e = invigorating
le canapé = couch, sofa
le bagage en cabine = carry-on bag
les fringues = threads (clothing)
le porte-monnaie
= wallet
une escale = layover
la joaillerie = jewelry store
intemporelle = timeless
un petit boulot supplémentaire = a side gig


REMERCIEMENTS/THANKS & ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Sincere appreciation to readers supporting this journal via a donation!

Lowery W. 
Jackie C. 

"(For) Your wonderful blog." --Jackie
"Thank you for your letters." --Lowery

 

Ricci relaxing
It's been 4+ months since we brought darling Ricci home from a farm in Aveyron. She's gone through two separations since then: one, after I went to the States and, two, when Jean-Marc left for New Zealand. As you can see by her relaxed attitude here, she's adapting very well! Still, she's got one eye open lest her current guardian leave the room.

Jackie on bike
After touring Tulum on a scooter, Jackie rode one of these on the beach. She's now safe here at home in France, after her memorable trip.


COMMENTS
If you are reading via the newsletter, click here to comment, send a correction, or share your thoughts about today's topic. Merci!

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety