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.

*     *     *

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,

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Or je suis plein. which my husband told everyone for a couple of years until told what he was actually saying.

Marianne Rankin

I found another "fun word." It's "amuse-bouche." It means a small, often artistic, appetizer. Literally, it's something that amuses one's mouth.


A few years ago, we got a rescued ten-month-old female basset who had not yet been fixed. We didn't have the money that month, so we thought one month wouldn't make that much of a difference, especially since our male dog, a very intelligent beagle/basset mix, was seven years old and had never been in the same neighborhood as a female in heat, never mind in the same yard. That didn't stop him from trying, however, and we ended up with SEVEN puppies. Granted, they were cute, and they all lived...of course, we kept the stupid one...but still, it made for an interesting few weeks.


A bit of help with some of the idioms given today.

1) un “p'tit pain” dans le four --> you can imagine the round shape of the top of a bun, and the bun getting baked inside an oven... Hence, when you are pregnant, you have “a bun in the oven”, taking 9 months to get ready!
"Un petit pain -> French equivalent to the word "bun". Same expression and same meaning with “brioche”

2) very informal and “not so sweet”...--> être en cloque
une “cloque” is a blister... and that's not fun!!!
être en cloque is a very informal way to say -> to be pregnant.
To me, this expression sounds a bit painful!

3) Polichinelle is a puppet with 2 “bumps” (front and back)
un secret de polichinelle / un secret mal gardé = an open secret
In the expression: “Avoir un polichinelle dans le tiroir “, there are 2 ideas involved --> the bump, and the idea of a secret kept in a drawer in order to hide it.
“Avoir un polichinelle dans le tiroir” is used for an unexpected pregnancy, and / or a pregnancy one wants to keep secret. The secret can be kept in the drawer until the bump becomes obvious. Once the bump is obvious, the secret has become a true “secret de polichinelle”!

Kristin.... you can forget about the fear of pronouncing & recording a French word containing a French "r" - as you mentioned last time. Your "ard" and "arde" in veinard and veinarde are so perfect!

Leda Fremeont-Smith

Good morning,

Your news always brightens the day. I hope this email goes through. Had tried to add suggestions to your auctioning your Mom's painting. Such as a sketching class with her in the summer. Now, Labradoodles: a breed that has gotten popular and popping up all over town. We had a pulipoodle: black and curly haired named Rosie to cheer up the golden years of our dachshund Max aka Maximiilan d'Asticou. A one owner lover and very much mine. When he passed on, numerous friends spoke the truth about him. Alas he was not particularly beloved by all. But we loved him, especially me. All this to say thank you for all your good humor and insight. I do sigh at your photos of the book fair -- and so many others.
Be well. Enjoy the fall.
L. F.-S.

Fred Caswell

Your translation of "batard" to "mut" reminds me of a tidbit from a teacher of french who stated that William The Conqueror was called Quilliam The Batard or William The Bastard! As for "Mr. Black Dog", this batard had no need to invade with force for he had a most welcoming area to receive his advances. Lucky bastard!

I tend to root for the "underdog" but in this case "under" takes on an added meaning.

There is no one who has never personally met "Jewels" who is more appreciative of her than I am. Given that, I am most pleased to receive one of your typically delightful "petits romans." Merci beaucoup, Kristi!

Jane Wallace

Labradoodles are the happiest dogs, they just love life and everyone in it, I've had a Labradoodle for 5 Years and every day is a Joy.


We had a male golden and bred him four times, kept one puppy. Oh I miss having goldens!


Great word! I learned it recently on seeing the remarkable French comedy called DELICATESSEN. The female lead called the male lead actor that in one of the scenes. The other best scene in this great film was the TIKA-TIKA dance scene. Watching French films (through NetFlix for example) is a great learning tool.


Thanks for 'veinard.' It's come up a couple times in conversation and I'm glad to know it doesn't have anything to do with 'viscieux'. BTW, have you done that word yet - which seems to have quite a few connotations. Trouble with the French language, just when you think you know a word, you discover it has about a dozen different levels of meaning.

Michael Morrison

Enjoyed your story about Braise and her love interests. As a suggestion: an "earl" in English is a "comte" in French.

Debbies Dog Clothes

Those are some beautiful dogs.

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