troisième age


Shiny Happy Petals!
Sicilian photos coming soon. For now, here's our twelve-headed tournesol (around twelve flowertêtes per plant)! And never miss a photo or French word: Sign up for FREE email delivery and receive this edition in your email box.

chut (shoot)

: shhh!

Sound file and Example Sentence:

Listen to my mother-in-law pronounce today's word:

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Chut! Elle dort. Il ne faut pas la réveiller. Quiet! She's sleeping. We musn't wake her.

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

Chut! My belle-mère is sleeping and I'd like to finish this letter before she wakes up. Only a thin wall separates us, so slight that the rattling of the keys on this clavier is enough to tickle her esgourdes to a start: the start of a new day.

Ça y est. Elle est reveillée. It is time to go and play. I would hate to leave my mother-in-law alone while I pass the morning fussing and fretting over each and every word, like some kind of writer nerd.

Ça baille! There's a lot of yawning coming through the wall. It seems Michèle-France is not sold on starting the day. Maybe the sound of Vauclusian church bells in the distance will sweeten the chore? Or the peppermint breeze coming through the open window? ...or the plate of Moroccan cookies left over from last night's festin (we celebrated my brother-in-law Jacques' 40thChut! chut! Don't tell him I told you....)

Un troisième bâillement.... A third yawn... and a forth and now a fifth! Quelle marmotte! She must be exhausted after yesterday's train ride from Marseilles to Orange. Comme d'habitude, she travelled with two chocolate cakes and two pots of homemade tapenade. The only other item in her bag was a nightgown and a dog-eared copy of Télé Loisirs. She's got our number: just a couple of busybodies out here in the country. She's prepared to watch TV while her son and her daughter-in-law work like bees.

But each day presents a new chance for turning the tables, for shaking up the still waters of rigidity. I'm going to surprise my belle-mère today—with a more playful spirit, tee-hee!—just you wait and see!

Le Coin Commentaires
Questions, corrections, and stories of your own are welcome in the comments box. Click here to leave a message and merci d'avance!

French Vocabulary

chut! = shhh! shush!

la belle-mère = mother-in-law

le clavier = keyboard

les esgourdes* = ears *argot (the term may no longer be current. Any thoughts?)

ça y est = that's it

elle est réveillée = she's awake

ça baille! = there's yawning!

quelle marmotte! = what a marmot! (what a sleepy one!)

comme d'habitude = as always

la tapenade = olive spread

Télé Loisirs =  Television Leisure (magazine)

A Day in a Dog's Life... by Smokey "R" Dokey

The "Alpha" giving me a warm welcome home. Tummy pats sure beat bubble baths (see below!)


With my flying nun ears or esgourdes.

Real Dogs don't take baths... or so I tried to convince them! By the way... I turned ONE yesterday (in case you are so inclined—you might send me a line. Click here :-)

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In film:  Paris Je T'aime Paris I love You.

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Easy French Reader: A fun and easy new way to quickly acquire or enhance basic reading skills

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Please keep my book in mind for your gift-giving needs! Makes a fun and educational cadeau for a Francophile or a would-be Francophile! Here is an excerpt from the introduction:

After less than three months in Lille, fall semester ended and it was time to return home to the desert. While my classmates headed back to Arizona, I found a way to stay on in France, with permission from the department adviser to do an independent study. In exchange for college credit, I wrote about French culture as I had experienced it in Lille and in my new town, Aix, where I had moved. I was just buying time; for what, I did not know. What was sure was that I did not want to leave France. Not yet.

"Take a great trip with a memorable travel book . . . and lose yourself in the South of France."-- Real Simple

Order a copy here. Merci beaucoup!

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Margaret Dennis

Happy Birthday Smokey. What a year you have had. And congratulations to your Mom Braise since she was very, very busy on this day a year ago.

Margaret in hot and humed Durham, NC. Enought of this, we are ready for some rain or an early fall!

Margaret Dennis

Sorry, "Humed" should read "humid." That is what months of heat and humidity do to the brain.

Angela Sargent

Bonne Anniversaire Mr Smokey.Lots of biscuits for you today.

Angelain Sussex.England.A cloudy day - not what I ordered for tonight's BBQ!

Bill in St. Paul

Tough first year, Smokey, but with Mom's and Grandma Kristi's help you made it!

Two chocolate cakes and two pots of homemade tapenade - how did your belle-mère manage that on the train?! Can't wait to see the pictures of Sicily.

Karen W  (Towson, Maryland)

Dear Writer Nerd -- NOT! I love todays little story. It got me yawning, not out of boredom though. Once again I felt like I was in your house with you! All but the peppermint breeze is felt through your words as I write to you in my bathrobe and tell myself, too that today I too will "shake up the still waters of rigidity". (THOSE are lovely, non-nerdy words. Your baaaa-aaack!)

Hope you had a happy day, Smokey!! The bath doesn't look like a highlight.

Angela Sargent

Sorry,that should read "Angela in Sussex" not "Angelain"(a fancy name) - errors are catching today.


Bon Anniversaire Smokey! Thanks Kristin for making me feel each morning as if I'M waking up in France instead of NYC. I fly to Tours to study French in two weeks! I'm so excited. Your emails have been great preparation.

Robyn France

Bonjour Kristin--another adorable little tale for us--you do have a wonderful way of putting your vignettes together and I thank you for it.

Yes--it has been North Carolina's hottest muggiest summer ever here--have a wonderful trip to Sicily--first year in 20 we haven't been to France but we are enjoying it thru your wonderful stories. (Moving will do that to you).


Love the picture of the golden ears flying! So cute! Happy birthday! And hope you have a wonderful day with your mother-in-law! :-)


Happy Birthday, Smokey!

Shauneen in the Sud Ouest

Happy Birthday Little Man, also greetings to your brothers and sisters though you weren't able to have a party together.

JR Cook

Happy B-day to you, Smokey! Woof, woof and cheers from Washington, DC

Love the flying ears photograph.....


Happy Birthday to Smokey from hot south Texas. It's been a pleasure to watch you grow and I wish you a long healthy life in your great home with your great family.

Pat Cargill

Yes, you are baack and in fine form w/today's offering. Wonderful photos of Braise and Smokey - happy birthday, Smokey. A year already?! Your first was quite the adventure. The flying-ears show that you know a thing or two about birthday party fun. Let the good times roll. (And did you find some grass/dirt to roll in apres le bain?)

TWO chocolate cakes, tapenade...drool, drool. Quite the feat to carry on train. But I like Belle-Mere's style - priorities def'ly in order. Have nightgown and chocolate will travel.

Geneviève radel

Un bon anniversaire à Smokey, une caresse à braise et de gros bisous à toute la famille!

Karen Woodward

Happy Birthday Smokey!!! This year passed in a whirl & my have you grown into a fine young lad. I hope you have a great year celebrating and growing and making everyone proud of you & you look marvalous for ONE!!! :-) Keep on having great adventures in your life with your mom and your human family.
Happy Birthday belated to Jean Marc. I hope you had celebrated in grand frech style and hope this is as good as last year's.
I pray that you have a great harvest this year. I raise a glass to you and your family.
May God bless you and your vinyard always,
Karen Woodward in Sunrise, FL


Happy Birthday, Smokey guy! Have a great day and be sure they give you lots of snacks today. Tell everyone hello from Charles and me.

Patricia Anzalone

Happy Birthday Smokey! We always love hearing from you. Many happy returns of the day!!
Glad you're back too, Kristin!
Patricia in rainy VA. Thankful for the relief from the heat!


Happy Birthday. One is a wonderful age for a dog and I do hope that you enjoy every moment of it--the running, swimming, eating, squirrel chasing and so sorry about the bath issue--Jones hates his bath, too. Especially when it takes all day to cut his hair/fur.

Debbie and Shadow

Salut Smokey - Happy Birthday or Bonne Fête à toi (if I may use the informal form with you - I just turned 5 on August 3 and I detest baths too)!

My name is Shadow and I'm a black and white Papillon. I hope you received lots of tummy rubs and treats...that's what I love too.

My owner loves reading about all things French and she hopes to bring me to the south of France to live someday - we don't like the hot humid summers and long cold winters here in southern Ontario Canada. Maybe I will get to meet you.


Bonne Anniversaire Smokey. I hope that you get a special birthday treat today - one is a special year and it has been an adventurous one for you. Did you invite any of your brothers and sisters to celebrate your common birthdays? If not, then you'll have to enjoy it with your mom and human family. At least the bath was yesterday and today you can just play. ENJOY!
It was hot and humid for the month of July and August (so far) in Connecticut, but today is cooler and less humid and some of our trees are already changing color. Quelle horreur! Does that mean an early fall and winter?


We hope you celebrate your special day with lots of treats and fun with your Mom, Braise, and your loving family.
We wish you a long and healthy life filled with all the good things you enjoy doing.
It's been our GREAT pleasure watching you grow.
Louise and Holly

Marianne Rankin

So glas Smokey survived his first year - and wish him many more.

I have never heard the word "esgourdes" for ears or anything else. Maybe it is both slang and archaic, although I kind of like it.

Would Marie-France consider sharing her recipe for tapenade?

Leslie Bradshaw

Hello, Kristin. I very much enjoy your postings. I am a newly unemployed French teacher in North Carolina, and I wondered if you or anyone else out there would know anything about how to get involved with being a reader for audio books in French.

Also, I got a new MacBook, and there must be an easier way than I know to make French accents. On a PC you could use the number pad. I would have preferred to write this note in French, but I can't stand writing without using accents !

Thanks for your help and for your dedication.

Anne Wirth

Happy Birthday Smokey! The first year is the hardest but it is easy sailing now.

Are you bilingual Smokey?

Anne in Pittsburgh

Jennie Quinn

Kristen, I live in San Francisco and study French madly. After two days of French classes and a night in a French hotel downtown, I dreamed that your whole family came to visit me including the dogs. I was so excited! I kept saying, "I can't believe it. Smokey R. Dokey is here at my house."

Jennie Quinn

Lee Ann and Bailey (la chienne)

Bonne Anniversaire Smokey! Tu es adorable! Ca me fait sourire -ta jolie frimousse - même si cette frimousse est mouillé. Comme Marianne, je voudrai aussi la recette de tapenade.

Linda C.

Happy Birthday, Smokey, dear. Say thanks to your mom, and have a special day. We're so glad you made it through your first very eventful year. Many happy returns and a big kiss on the nose.

Linda in hot and humid Arizona Yes, humid. And you thought it was a dry heat!

Julianna P.

Woof! Woof! Woof! Woof! Dearest Smokey, that is the sound of my own four dogs wishing you a Happy Birthday. Lily, Siobhan, Stanley, Blossom and I all adore you and Braise, and we love love love love French Word a Day!

Marianne Gooding

Bon anniversaire, Smokey! Tu es beau comme tout, même mouillé!

Jim Steffens

According to my Collins Robert unabridged dictionary, esgourdes is still listed as a colloquial term for ears, as in "Ouvre bien tes esgourdes!"

Bruce T. Paddock

Leslie -

Diacriticals are very simple on a Mac.

For an accent aigu, hold down the Option key and hit the E key. Then release the Option key and type E again.

For an accent grave, hold down the Option key and press the key on the top left of the keyboard that has a tilde and an accent grave on it. Then release the Option key and type whatever letter you want to appear under the accent.

For a circumflex, hold down the Option key and hit the I key (that is, the "i" key), Then release the Option key and type whatever letter you want to appear under the circumflex.

For a C with a thingie under it (cedilla? I forget), Hold down the Option key and type a C.

Sorry to hear about your employment situation. I've been there for a while now myself. Stay strong; it has to get better sometime.

Sandy, Abby and Kirbey

Smokey, Many happy, happy returns! Your posts light up our days.

Love, Sandy, Abby and Kerbey

Marge Illich

Bonne Anniversaire, M. Smokey...hope your dreams are filled with lots rabbit chases tonight! (especially after eating all the birthday cake that I assume your other "mom" will make for you!).

Wishing you and your 4-legged mom a happy day and many happy days ahead.

You brighten my day!


Lovely to see you all...gorgeous photos of the sunflower and those cute dogs : ) And what a lucky mother-in-law to have you as daughter! Enjoy the rest of the week!


Sherryl Wickens

Smokey - A big high-5 on your first b'day! You've had quite the year and deserve all those tummy rubs you can get.

And a special hug to your Mom, she should be very proud of the handsome guy you've grown to be.

Karen Hadley

Smokey, it strikes me as odd sometimes that I am so fond of a young dog who lives thousands of miles away, with people I have never met. With hundreds of others, I suffered with you through your awful injury and recovery.

Through the miracle of the internet and by virtue of a clever, intuitive writer, I feel like I am friends with all these little French winemakers.

Take very good care of your wonderful French family!


How do you pronounce your last name?
ESS pee nahss
A pee nahss

joie  carmel,ca

Happy B'day Smokey....I know the year started out a little shakey, but things look pretty good right now. But, is that all they gave you for your birthday....a bubble bath? No glace or at least a nice marrow bone....


Bon anniversaire, Smokey Dokey!


Just returned from Nyons with my belle-mère... a nice tête-à-tête during the drive over and back, and an arm-in-arm stroll along the polished stone paths that wind through town.

Thank you for your birthday wishes to Smokey. He enjoyed a reasonable helping of mousse de campagne mixed in with his normal croquettes. He also liked the tarte de pommes and the Tropezienne (sp?)cream pie.

David: ESS PEE NAHSS is correct.

Bruce, thanks for the keyboard tips! And best wishes to you and to Leslie.

Jennie, funny you mention the dream. I dream about the people in this comments box too!

Jim, thanks for the confirmation on esgourdes. So happy we can use it!

Marianne, I need to get the recipe from her! One tip that I personally witnessed: once she combines all the ingredients (olives, capers, anchovy, bay leaf, garlic....) she lets them marinate overnight!)

Anne,I think Smokey understands a the tone of any language :-) Although he doesn't yet get "pee pee dehors!"


Happy 1st birthday to you Smokey! I'm new to this site so I haven't "met" you until recently but you are certainly a handsome lad. Many more happy and fun-filled days to you. From all the birthday wishes to you, you must be a very special doggy. And evidently you have gone through some hard times during your first year. My best to you and your family.


Bon Anniversaire Smokey from Jennifer in Toronto who looks forward to your Mum's musings and a little piece of France to brighten her days.

Bill Facker

So the "Smokester" has grown into a handsome Lad with his Family who loves him, and coddles him, and facilitates a beautiful existence. The ultimate survival story .. and I still hope and pray those mongrels who attacked him so long ago miraculously managed to get lucky and find a great humanoid to care for them and shower them with love .. just like you, Smokey. What a wonderful gift all you four legged creatures are to us ignorant bi-peds. Happy Birthday and Thank You, Thank You, Thank You for blessing us with your perfect love. Aloha from Kauai Everyone! Bill Facker

Erin in Atlanta

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Smokey!!! You are the cutest thing EVER!!! I simply love that little bit of your tongue that hangs out the side of your mouth. I know it was a terrible event that brought that on, but you're so darned cute! You have the loveliest face.

Big hugs and kisses! To your momma Braise also.

Erin in Alanta~~SCORCHING HOT here!

Susan Strick

Smokey, you are such a twin (though a couple months younger) to my daughter's dog Murphy (photos viewable at lifespentwagging at blogspot)! I cannot help but feel that you are kindred souls! He would love to visit you and play together....

Francine Gair

Happy Birthday, Smokey, from Jeannie, a gorgeous California Golden girl. Why don't they understand that water is fine for swimming and digging out rocks, but baths are a whole different story? Mille félicitations!

Julie F

Bonne Anniversaire, Smokey Dokey! You've live a lifetime in this single year. But you won the puppy lottery when you were born into that family. I hope the rest of your years won't all be so dramatic.

And I have to say, Kristin, that one can never have enough tournesol pictures. The ones I planted before taking off for France shot up to be 10 or 15 feet tall by the time I got back to St. Louis (I'm not kidding -- Russian Mammoth Sunflowers). We've had a good break in the weather this week in the Midwest. The 100 degree days are gone for good, I hope.

Kristine, Dallas (hot, hot, dry and ready for Autumn)

Bonne Anniversaire Mr Smokey! Glad you have made it thru your first year with such Joie De Vivre!

And Happy Birth-Day to your Mother and Grandmother! ;-)

Fred Caswell

Hey, Smokey, is that mark on your left cheek from the original surgery or from a reconstructive recent procedure?

Love to all! Fred

Susan Carter

Bonne Anniversaire Smokey from Southern California where summer just finally arrived! You are such a handsome fellow.

nadine goodban

Baiement se lirait bément. Mais Baillement est correct puisque le verbe est Bailler.
où est donc Ms. Forest ???
Bonnes vacances / Bonne rentrée à tous,
nadine de californie


Happy Birthday Smokey-R-Dokey! Congrats and Bonne Fete a toi.

Bob and Angela

Hey Smokey, if you tell your mom you're actually a chihuahua you might not have to take any more baths. We're almost five years old and haven't had to have a bath yet -- and we still smell sweet like puppies should -- but of course we don't play outside in the dirt! Happy birthday big bro!

Lulu et Noëlle

Jennifer in OR

Great to have you back. I'm glad you had a sweet visit with your belle-mere. Love the tournesol photo, and so happy to have Bruce's French accents for the Mac keyboard tips!


happy birthday, Smokey. i truly look forward to reading your emails and sharing la vie de france from the chien's perspctive. kisses.
dianna in chicago


Happy birthday, Smokey! I can't believe it's been a year since we first got to see pictures of you and your siblings tumbling around with pudgy puppy bodies and sleepy squashed faces. Now you are all grown up (sniff! tears!).

Jan Romeu

Happy birthday, Smokey! What a beautiful boy you are!

Kristin, I believe that "Quelle marmotte!" would be saying "What a marmot!". A marmot is like a fat ground squirrel that hibernates all winter and sleeps all day. This link has a great photo of a marmot so you can see what they look like: BTW, any resemblance to your mother-in-law is purely coincidental, I'm sure!

Love the blog. What a practical and fun way to expand my vocabulary and learn about French culture. We live in northern Spain near the border and go to France quite often, so I can almost immediately begin to use the new words. Thanks!

Kristin Espinasse

Merci, Nadine, pour baillement. I need to fix this. Ill check and see if Newforest has left a message, too :-)


Happy Birthday Sweet Smokey!!! You are so adorable and so is your Mom, well both of your Mom's (canine and human). Every time I see a photo of you or Braise, I smile! */:-) Thank you for being so dear!!
I love you~

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