Motherhood & Max goes to driver’s school


Wine bar in Isle sur la Sorgue (c) Kritsin Espinasse

I used to dream of having a writer's room in Paris. Lately, I would rather live life (the stuff of books) rather than dream of writing about it. Writing isn't, after all, a romantic life. Life is a romantic life!

Book update: If all goes well, I will upload my book to tonight! Tamara and Erin, at TLC Graphics, are putting on the finishing touches now. Fingers crossed that Blossoming in Provence will be ready to order very soon! 

patate (pah-tat) noun, feminine

    1.  sweet potato
    2. imbecile

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc read these French Expressions: Download MP3 or Wav file

une patate douce = sweet potato, yam
un sac à patates = a dress (or something) without a shape
avoir la patate = to feel great, full of energy
en avoir gros sur la patate (from "en avoir gros sur le coeur") = to be very sad
rouler en chasse-patates = (cycling term) to be between two groups of cyclists, unable to pass the first group, while not being surpassed by the second 

Note: patate is also a synonym for pomme de terre, or potato

                                                            *    *    * 

Today, Smokey receives a letter from a long-time fan...
(note: click here for the English translation to this letter)

Cher Smokey,

Un revenant!  Dis-donc ça faisait un bail qu'on ne te voyait plus.
On commençait à se demander si Kristin t'avait mis en gage chez son éditeur.
Mais heureusement tu es bien là, pareil à toi-même: ravissant, la truffe au vent, l'oeil aux aguets, l'appétit en éveil... et tu penses: 

"Les patates douces, quel délice!...



Goûtons voir ça... un coup de langue, avant le coup de dents, ensuite... le coup de grâce! Hmm, pas mal!... Nom d'un chien, zut, foutu!... On m'avait à l'oeil!  C'est pas un cadeau une vie de chien,  j'vous jure! "
Bisous de Carol
from Carol Donnay, in Belgium (don't miss her blog!)
Note: I will put the English translation to Carol's story here, in the comments box. Please feel free to help correct my English text!
Le Coin Commentaires

Help me to thank Carol for her histoire a-d-o-r-a-b-l-e! I love Carol's letters to Smokey. You can read another one, here and here. Meantime, click here to leave a message in the comments box. 

  DSC03650   DSC03656   DSC03661 
Ca fait un bail = ça fait longtemps =  it's been a while
Mettre en gage = déposer comme garantie = to leave as a guarantee
Le coup de grâce = évènement qui achève de perdre quelqu'un déjà en difficulté = something that takes place that saves someone in difficulty (thanks to Jeff Cwiok for this definition:
'Le coup de grâce'... is 'something that takes place that "finishes off" someone (or something) in difficulty. The phrase originated in Medieval times when, after mortally wounding an adversary, it was considered an act of mercy (grâce) to end his suffering with a final blow (le coup).
Foutu = busted
Avoir à l'oeil = surveiller de près = to watch closely
A l'oeil = gratuitement = free 
C'est pas un cadeau = quelque chose ou quelqu'un de déplaisant = something or someone unpleasant


Tomatoes--two summers ago. Last summer there were little tomatoes popping up in the most unlikely places (in the middle of a flower patch, and even behind the house!). I guess the wind had spread the dried tomato's seeds... in time to give us a future bounty!

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Here's that translation I promised. Feel free to correct me--I want to give Carol's lovely words the best rendering!:

Dear Smokey,

Hey, stranger! Well, well, it's been a long time since we saw you. We were beginning to ask ourselves whether Kristin hadn't put you up as collateral for her publisher. Happily you are indeed here, always the same: ravishing, your nose to the air, your eyes on the look out, your appetite awakening... and you are thinking:
"Sweet potatoes, how delicious! ... Let's taste and see about that... just a little lick, before a little bite, then a little finishing stroke! Hmm... not bad! Oh, no! Busted! Someone saw me! It's no bowl of cherries, a dog's life. This I assure you!"

Kisses from Carol


ask ourselves - wonder?
promissory note - surety?


I, too, was very glad to see Smokey back and Carol's letter is adorable. Keep'em comin... the photos of Smokey and the letters of his many admirers.


Oh, Smokey is so sweet! Jones would have finished off that Sweet potato is nothing flat and would not have had one hint of gilt on his face. I can't wait to purchase your book; it is No. ! on my Christmas list. Be well. Mary

Robert Wildau (fellow Provencal

I don't know what it is about your dogs: they are the sweetest. From one who never imagined ever writing about another's dogs.

Suzanne, Monroe Twp., NJ

I enjoyed Carol's letter to Smokey! She seems to have gotten inside his head. I saw a similar look on my Westie, Bijou's face, as Smokey has when he was busted. Bijou's indiscretion? She gobbled up a plastic red berry that fell from a garland I was hanging in the family room. Busted and it didn't even taste good!

Julie F in St. Louis, MO

I don't know, Kristin. That patate douce looks awfully close to the edge of the table. Methinks that the whole thing was a set-up. With a good lawyer our boy could get off scot free. "I was framed, Mom!"

Alyssa Ross Eppich

Julie F., I agree! So nice to see Smokey-Dokey again. And thank you for the lovely letter, Carol.I don't know what it is about your dogs, Kristin, but they seem to cause me to write back every time I see them at the end of another article!

Suzanne Codi, Washington, DC

Your translation was perfect, Kristin, but there is no way to really translate all the cute and funny expressions she used! What a riot! J'adore la voix que tu donnes a Smokey, Carol, un vrai coquin, mais si adorable!!!
Et qui d'entre vous peut comprendre pourquoi le film de Tintin qui sort bientot s'appelle " Tintin and Snowy" ?????? The dog's name is MILOU, you can't translate a name!!! Sooo disappointed, being a lifelong Milou fan ( even had a cocker spaniel named Milou who lived to be 16, cancer and all!!

Ruth Degenhardt

I think Smokey should have his very own fan club -a subsidiary of French-word-a-day. He always makes me smile! Thanks and a Merry Christmas to you both. I do hope Smokey gets a special treat in his stocking!

Bruce T. Paddock

Hooray for the return of photos of Smokey! Clearly I'm not the only one who's missed him. Mais, où est Maman?


We give our dogs a little sweet potato from time to time. It makes a healthy sweetener for kibble.

Pat, Roanoke, Va

Love this! What a great way to begin the week: Smokey Dokey, front and center, hilarious Carol comments, and adorable photos to boot! Smokey, as a member of this Virtual Jury, I vote "not guilty, Your Honorness!"as the evidence implicates an obvious manipulation of sweet taters by an unseen hand. Now, here, darlin Smokey, a treat for you...I know, it tastes better in real life!

Bruce T. Paddock

Suzanne -

Milou has always been "Snowy" in the English translations of the Tintin BDs. And Dupont and Dupond are "Thompson" and "Thomson" in English, which I think is pretty clever. It works.

Pat, Roanoke, Va

p.s. Kristin, I too have had tomato vines volunteer from seasons past, and such a delicious surprise they are. The "Sweet 100's" --if I remember correctly -- are real floozies in the garden, and that is a-ok with me.


Can someone explain to me the difference between pommes de terre and patates? C'est la meme?

Is it a regional usage, or is it common usage everywhere?

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks for the laughs. Im so happy you are enjoying Carols letter to Mr Smoke-A-Roo. 

BTW, you can check out Carols blog here:

Enjoy, enjoy!

Fifi Flowers

J'adore the letter... and those are FABuLOUS photo... precious doggie face!!!

Sharon - Montague, Michigan

I always enjoy seeing pictures of your lovely furry angels and finding out what kind of mischief they have been in to. They are so cute! Kristin, my suggestion to you is that your next book start at the beginning of when Braise came into your lives and continue to the present day. Just have a collection of the already written stories and pictures of the lives of your furry angels and their great adventures (or misadventures) in Provence. "Bow Wowing in Provence."

(of course you can take a break)


Karen from Phoenix, AZ

I love seeing those precious pups too! Thanks Carol for the letter to Smokey. More pictures please! xoxo

gail bingenheimer

J'adore Tintin!
Avez-vous publier votre livre?
Have you had your book published?


I think that Smokey was definitely set up, so he is "Not Guilty" your honor. I too love the seeing Smokey and Braise on FWAD and it was great meeting them. While I was visiting, Smokey and Braise were chasing lizards up the wall of the house.
Thanks for bringing them back.


Bravo, Kristi, on your soon to be published tales or should I say "tails" of adventure! Now you can relax for a few days before all the Christmas hubbub begins in full! I'll have to admit to sampling a few of those lucious cherry tomatoes during the Vendange last year! Never could pass up home grown produce. Yes, I think a book on the doglets would be marvelous, except you should try your hand at children's books. Braise's Marseille tryst with Smokey's dad would fill the bill. Who could pass up adventure, mystery, romance and a happy ending all rolled into one furry package?!

Jeff Cwiok

Hmmmm...the phrase "I'm a victim of coicumstance!", comes to mind.

In the midst of all the hilarity, I did notice a boo-boo in the vocab section. The Translation missed completely the intent of 'Le coup de grâce', which is 'something that takes place that "finishes off" someone (or something) in difficulty. The phrase originated in Medieval times when, after mortally wounding an adversary, it was considered an act of mercy (grâce) to end his suffering with a final blow (le coup).


Soooo happy to see Smokey Dokes again! I've missed seeing him and his mom a lot lately. His adventures are always so much fun (well, except for the part when he almost got killed as a pup!) He has the most beautiful face...


I too adored Carol's letter to Smokey. Alas, my French is no longer fluent enough to write such a sweet letter to him... but I definitely send my love to smokey, braise, and their whole human family, too, along with Wonderful Wishes for a Holiday filled with love and joy.


Looks say it all. Smokey took one little lick and knew instant guilt 'cause he is such a good dog. Other dogs would have eaten the whole thing. (Do you think he didn't like it?) Shirley

nadine goodban

David : Pomme de terre is a potato
Patate is a sweet potato
Don't know if this had been answered since i was gone for a long while ...
Bonnes fêtes à tous ! nadine de Californie


Merci, Nadine. I also see in an online French dictionary that patate is sometimes used (especially in some regions) as a synonym for pommes de terre...
Bonnes fetes.

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks Nadine and David. I need to update this post and that part about patate being a synonym is just what I was looking for! 

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