Love the ones you're with. "Braise-The-Dog, pensive." I tried to capture Coco-The-Cat, too, but he flew out of Braise's lap so fast you'd think I was set to feed him a spoonful of cod liver oil. On second thought, what was he thinking? Certainly not "COD!"

Learn the language with Painless French: includes grammar, pronunciation, idioms, idiocies (culture) and more!

seuil (suhy) noun, masculine
  : threshold; doorstep; brink (of death)

franchir le seuil = to cross the threshold
le seuil de rentabilité = break-even point

 :: Audio File ::
(sound file follows... see story column below.)

One of the many gifts that Lily* left me was a lifetime membership to the cat and canine community. Now on "the other side" of the furry wall, a whole new world has opened up to me: a monde* filled with humanity, animalité*, and a slew of new vocabulary (words like "feral,"* expressions like "over the Rainbow Bridge"*).

Wearing my new membership badge, which hangs a little off-center, I feel something like a "straight-D" student who has been invited to a Mensa meet-up: I still don't understand how I got here or how I passed the test. And, to think: two years ago I was refusing for the quarante-troisième fois* (in twelve years of marriage) to adopt a dog or a cat into our home. The kids, Jean-Marc, and my breaks-for-abandoned-balls-of-fluff-or-feathers mom, had all but given up on me and my humanity. And now, I can't stop haunting the vacant fields and buildings that surround us, in search of homelessness.

In between time I read email, enjoying the photos and poems, and "listen" to both senior and newbie members of the Creatures Great and Small Community. I want to thank you for your empathy and for your straight-A altruism. Talk about brilliance.

The following is a moving éloge* that I received from Aunt Marie-Françoise. It concerns her beloved dog, Jaby, who made it over that Rainbow Bridge a few years ago, in time to welcome our Lily. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I have. I will post the English translation ("My Life as a Dog") on Monday.

Ma Vie de Chien
by Marie-Françoise Vidal

J'ai domestiqué ma nature animale : instincts, besoins, rythmes et joie vitale pour vivre dans votre maison.

J'ai écouté et appris, oreilles levées, vos ordres, vos intonations, j'ai compris vos codes.

J'ai su me contraindre à faire doucement pour ne pas bousculer l'enfant, la grand-mère et le petit animal à moustaches.

J'ai su prendre ou réclamer de chacun de vous les flatteries et les jeux. J'ai aimé votre compagnie joyeuse ou calme.

J'étais fière de mon obligation à surveiller le portail, le seuil, toute la maisonnée en guettant les importuns.

J'ai quand même eu mon royaume secret au jardin ou en promenade pour faire vivre dans la nature la puissance originelle de mes sens.

Je suis entrée dans ce lien avec vous sans craindre la soumission puisque nous avons échangé du respect.

J'ai du ensuite mourir sans comprendre la maladie et la déchéance. Je suis partie digne et sans plaintes mais en comprenant vos larmes.

Dans nos échanges, je vous ai appris des émotions différentes et spécifiques : celles de l'animalité ; les codes de l'instinct que vous avez perdu. Je vous ai offert un autre rapport à la nature.

De tout cela, je suis fière et je sais que vous aurez d'autres chiens pour continuer ce partage.

                                      *     *     *
Listen to this story & mille mercis to my brother-in-law Jacques, for reading it aloud!

Lily = a feral kitten now "over the rainbow bridge"; le monde (m) = world; l'animalité (f) = an animal's characteristics; feral = sauvage (in French); "over the rainbow bridge" = where animals go when they die ; quarante-troisième fois = forty-third time; éloge (m) = eulogy

~~~~~~~~~~~In Film, Music, & More~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
(Film) For earthbound humans, Winged Migration is as close as any of us will get to sharing the sky with our fine feathered friends. It's as if French director Jacques Perrin and his international crew of dedicated filmmakers had been given a full-access pass by Mother Nature herself, with the complete "cooperation" of countless species of migrating birds, all answering to eons of migratory instinct. -Jeff Shannon

Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France

Songs in French for Children: includes "Mon Père Avait 500 Moutons", "Prom'nons Nous Dans Les Bois", "Dansons la Capucine", "Picotin Musicien"...

More, in music: Faure / Durufle Requiem

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety