Friday, September 29, 2006
Today's word was inpired by a lesson learned in Châteauneuf-du-Pape...
How to Learn Any Language: Quickly, Easily, Inexpensively, Enjoyably and on Your Own
le museau (mew zo) noun, masculine (plural = museaux)
1. muzzle; snout 2. (informal) face, mouth
A Day in a French Life...
For once it wasn't the wind knocking us down in the old town of Châteauneuf-du-Pape but a four-legged whisper of a being... our four-month-old puppy, Braise. On the fourth day of autumn, the howling Mistral which characterizes this wine-making town was replaced by the sound of tractors as harvesters scattered to bring in the grapes before the black sky let go its celestial vessie*.
Our puppy, who had emptied her own vessie back at aunt Marie Françoise's, was a bit scattered herself at present, finding it hard to walk a straight line as my aunt, my daughter and I descended Rue du Sommelier on our way to the baker's. A neighbor lady stood on her doorstep watching our swerving quartet advance, swaying as if we'd just stepped out of the Bar des Amis.* Perhaps a furry quarter of us had; as for the rest of us, we were sobered by our reflexes, which had us weaving in and out of Braise's way careful not to get tripped up again.
"She must stay on your right, or left if you prefer, but always to one side," Jean-Marc's aunt offered. "A shorter leash could be helpful..." Aunt Marie-Françoise was hesitant about doling out advice. Back at her apartment, she had already given me a useful tip on cleaning up the dog mess, even demonstrating by stepping across the line of paper towels that Jean-Marc had arranged over the throw rug. "First, all the liquid needs to be absorbed." She illustrated this point by stepping to and fro over the perforated sopalins* which covered the wet rug. "Only then do you wash the surface." We'd gotten that part all wrong, or "tout faux," when I panicked, throwing two sponges full of soapy water at Jean-Marc who went to work scrubbing the rug after our puppy had soaked it.
"I know a truc* that works well..." Aunt Marie-Françoise continued as we wove our way toward the boulangerie.* "Take a branch in your left hand and, when Braise crosses in front of you, tickle her museau* with the branch and say "Au pied!" Heel!
This, I decided, was sound advice and, in my mind, I could just imagine tickling Braise's wet nose with a pretty, soft branch from our olive tree. With my mind's eye, I could picture her obeying. Yes, one day our dog would be propre* and éduqué,* if only I would not throw in the towel, or fling any more soapy sponges at her master.
References: la vessie (f) = bladder; le Bar des Amis (f) = Friends Bar; le Sopalin (from "Société du Papier-Linge") = paper towel; le truc (m) = trick; la boulangerie (f) = bakery; le museau (m) = face (of animal); propre = potty- or toilet-trained, housebroken; éduqué (éduquer) = trained
Listen to my son Max's phrase
Mon chien a le museau pointu. My dog's face is pointed. Download museau.wav
Related Terms & Expressions:
museler (verb) = to muzzle, to gag
musellement (m) = muzzling, gagging
une muselière (f) = a muzzle
mettre une muselière = to muzzle
le museau de porc/boeuf = pork/beef muzzle
faire museau = keep one's mouth shut
In books: Postcards & Paris
Lenore Tawney: Signs on the Wind: Postcard Collages
Paris Out of Hand: A Wayward Guide
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety