A cautionary word to our dog, Braise (right): That's no way to treat a (potential) lover. Learn the whole story in the column, below.

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My sister, Heidi, will be participating in a march for breast cancer. She is walking on behalf of our mother, Jules, our Aunt Charmly, and Tante Marie-Françoise who are breast cancer survivors. Please check out Heidi's progress (at http://no-cancer.notlong.com ) in raising funds for breast cancer research... and maybe pitch in a few dollars, whatever you can, while you're there? Mille mercis.

veinard,e (veh-narh, veh-narhd) noun, masculine, feminine

    : lucky dog, lucky devil

[from the French "veine" (vein), from the Latin "vena"]

adjective: lucky

Audio File: listen to the French word veinard and veinarde: Download veinard.wav. Download veinard.mp3

by Kristin Espinasse

When our golden retriever went into heat last month, I learned a thing or two about her romantic heart. En bref,* Braise is no uptown girl.

This all became clear the day a toothless bâtard* came calling. The scruffy, unemployed chien* might have been missing an eye, for all I know (barroom brawl?)... that untamed black mop on his head made it hard to tell.

"Mr. Black Dog," as my mom affectionately called him, was hardly taller than Braise's ankles. But that didn't disqualify him... from putting a bun in the oven.

"Mais, chéri," Jean-Marc chuckled, trying to reason with me, "nothing will happen. It's impossible!"

Locking the front door and latching the shutters, I was, once again, struck by my husband's naiveté.
"Oh, you'd be surprised!" I snapped back, eyeing our tattered trespasser, whose wet nose was pressed up against the porte-fenêtre.*

"Va-t-en!"* I shouted, from behind the window. "Allez! Oust!"*

I tried to see the positive side of an eventual "accident": Labradoodles!* Tried, that is, until Jean-Marc confirmed that the small black dog with the curly black mop on its head was NOT a caniche.*"

For two weeks straight, bright and early each morning -- a flurry of chicken feathers in his wake (and complaints from the hens who had begun their day-long "puttering and pecking" through the grapevines) -- Mr Black Dog left the neighboring farm, took a shortcut across the bright yellow mustard field, past Monsieur Delhomme's potager (now teeming with pumpkins), and arrived at our kitchen door... the happy-go-lucky "bachelor" limping like a poivrot* all the way.

His legs were so short he barely needed to lift one to leave his mark, and leave his mark he did (sprinkling little "forget-me-nots" all over the front yard). Braise was lovesick and all but fluffed her hair and powdered her own wet nose at the first glimpse of that unemployed underdog.

We did our best to keep the dogs separated; after all, we had plans of our own...

Samuel de Vichyssoise, a.k.a. "Sam", (a "blue-blooded" golden retriever and our "arranged suitor") eventually arrived, having traveled all the way from his aristocratic flat on the Rue de Paradis in Marseilles.

But things didn't go at all as planned... and we were dumbstruck by our golden girl's ghastly welcome: Braise sneered. Braise jeered. The golden boy, to our "girl," was no more than a stuffy "Earl". It seemed Braise's heart was agog for none other than the toothless, limping underdog.

Veinarde And now, as all soap operas must end with a cliffhanger... I'll let you in on a secret. Just when we thought our dog had done away with the "Earl of Marseilles" (for the purposes of this story, we'll allow a British earl into this French fable)... it seemed the two had disappeared... into a stack of hay. Oh, dear!

The only question now is "a-t-elle une brioche au four?"* and, if so, WHO is the virile veinard?*

PS: My apologies for not having a photo of Mr. Black Dog. For now, enjoy "Braise's Sneer" (photo number one) and "Braise's Happy (at last) Cavalier" (photo number two). Click to enlarge photo.

Comments, corrections,* conseils... welcome in the comments box.

*Thank you, Judith Urbanek, for the grammar help (re: my "vas-t-en"). See Judith's message at the end of this post.

en bref
= briefly; bâtard(e) = mutt; le chien (la chienne) = dog; la porte-fenêtre (f) = French window; allez! oust! = go on! get out of here!; poivrot(e) = drunk, wino; labradoodle = a labrador-poodle mix update: make that a "goldendoodle"; un caniche (m) = poodle; avoir une brioche au four = to have a bun in the oven; veinard(e) (mf) = lucky dog
Other ways to say "bun in the oven" (être enceinte) in French

"avoir un p'tit pain dans le four"
"être en cloque"
"avoir le ballon"
"avoir le gros ventre"
"avoir un polichinelle dans le tiroir"
Would anyone like to help translate those idioms? Thanks for using the comments box.

~~~~~~~~~~Gifts and shopping~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Complete Pepin: Techniques and Recipes (DVD)
In music: Paris' Most Beautiful Songs
Made in Provence: Savon et Cie Bath Salts: in calm/soothing lavender
French Alphabet Blocks -- complete with letters, numbers and animal pictures
Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love & Language

A Little Grammar Lesson in French and English:

(Sharing with you a letter that I received from Judie)

Dans l'impératif, pour le singulier (juste pour les verbes en -ER) on omet le S.  Par exemple: Va-t'en! (comme dans ton histoire ci-dessous) ou Regarde l'oiseau là-bas!  
Pour d'autres verbes le S reste.  Par exemple--Finis tes devoirs!  Descends lentement ce vieil escalier!

Bonne chance avec ta chienne!

Amitiés du Wisconsin,

In the imperative, for the singular (and only for verbs in -ER), we omit the S. For example: Va-t-en! (as in your story, above) or Regarde l'oiseau là-bas! For other verbs, the S stays. For example: Finis tes devoirs! Descends lentement ce vieil escalier!

Good luck with your dog!

Warm regards from Wisconsin,

A Message from KristiFor twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.

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