pourboire: How to say tip in French
Need encouragement? How to say "If at first you don't succeed try try again"

Video for Aunt Liddy!

Chère Aunt Liddy,

I saw your email this morning and was saddened to learn that you needed to sign off from French Word-A-Day, due to difficulty seeing the words. Smokey and I have made you this video, in hopes of being able to read you a story or two, so that you may continue to enjoy this column—even if you can no longer see it.

Update: Sadly, the story was cut off after the video recorder ran out of room! But you will still see the two minute introduction. (The story transcript is here)



P.S. For those who are unable to see the video (in your newsletter), click over to the website, here

To comment on the video, thanks for clicking here. Would you like to see more videos? Thanks for the encouragment and feedback on this project.

Regarding the video backdrop: The scene was filmed at home, with the cabanon in the background and the olive orchard just beyond. Enjoy. (language tip: at the end of the video, before it cuts off, I am telling Smokey to "Sit down!" (Assis!) and when that doesn't work, I insist he lie down (the command is Couché!). After that the video cuts off....


A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

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


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Lee Isbell

My oh my. No comments posted yet. I was able to watch this video, but my internet isn't fast enough for many of them posted these days, so I'm reluctant to click on most of them, only to get frustrated. I would not like to see video replacing the writing.

I loved your reading of how to mourn a cat. Your experience with Smokey is a lot like trying to write with cats wandering through the keyboard. :-)

Julia - Falling Off Bicycles

Love the video Kristin! How fun to see your surroundings and famous Smokey. Happy Saturday to all!

Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR

I love Smokey ----is that a tongue? I didn't get to see/hear How to mourn a cat-----

Thanks for your effort. I think you need to do longer videos and tell a story.

Be well!

Bill Facker

Had you read about dogs, Smokey would have surely given respect .. I mean, really! :)
Aloha, Bill

Marika Ujvari

Kristi, I only heard the beginning of the video. But it ended when you started to read the cat story. How can I listen to the rest of it???

Debbie Ambrous - www.AFrenchOpportunity.com

I loved the video. Now we will be spoiled and expect more and more! I'm curious now about how it is done. You are the belle of the bloggers!
Thanks from Alabama,
Debbie Ambrous

Rebecca Q. T. in Baltimore

Very cute! Smokey just wants to be the star. I think these videos are a great idea! Looking forward to seeing more.

Larry Mason

Hail to both Smokey and Kristi! Didn't get to hear the Cat story, but think you absolutely must continue doing videos! You will be a fine reader!


Kristi, We love your video! Please keep them coming ;-)
You did great!

Lana, Omaha Nebraska

Kristin you are even prettier on video than in your photos! It was wonderful to hear you speaking English and French. Your dog is so sweet. I hope you continue to make videos and also invite your family to be in them sometimes too. Keep practicing on us!


I think Smokey should get his own blog, he is hogging yours!! Cute - good try, but do try again. I love hearing your voice.

Marika Ujvari

If today's video is any indication of things to come, we are in for a treat!!!I would enjoy your videos very much!!! You have a very pleasant voice, Kristi, and seeing Smokey in person was a big plus.


oh, so charming! please continue, Kristin! love monsieur smokey.



Julie Farrar

You're brave to try the video. I was thinking I need to add video to my blog, but if I wanted to be in front of the camera and hear myself speaking, I wouldn't try to be a writer. I certainly would love to see more videos, perhaps once a month like your very labor-intensive cinema verite used to be. I love the idea of hearing all the French vocabl you're trying to teach us. And Smokey can come in at the beginning to say hi, but then I think the little wiggle worm has to go.

Jean-Marc Espinasse

That's my beautiful wife !

Brenda Brown

Loved the video, your dog is too much. He really had me laughing. Would love to see more when you have the time. Thanks for the giggles.

Rachel LeBlanc

Kristin, I loved your video with Smokey. Made my day. I live with a Golden Retriever Mickey. Smokey and Mickey are both naughty but lovable representatives of the breed! Loved hearing you speak to him in French. Perhaps you could do a video on how to train a dog using French words if English ones don't work (or vice versa!) :O)

Judy Liddington

Loved the video, Kristin; you should do more -- I think Smokey wants his own, though! The story on mourning a cat hit home with me -- I've been through that too many times and felt every word. Judy L.

Neil Plakcy

I am releived to see golden retrievers do not obey in French either! Though perhaps I will try using Couchez and Assis with my golden.


Kristin, Re Aunt Liddy and her eyesight. I too am having trouble reading the tiny print. Is there any way to enlarge or make it darker? I do enjoy the painless review of French words as well as your interesting life.

Vada & Cinque Terre, Mon Chat

Absolutely soulfully eloquent story (completely recognize every deep feeling -having had pets) and beautiful video, yes more videos please, have Braise & Smokey on all ~ be 'Les Trois Mousquetaires'. The spiritual essence of your being shines through exquisitely.

Cyndy Witzke

Oh those goldens! If you sit on the ground, you will sooner or later have a golden trying to crawl onto your lap. This is a given! They all think they're lap dogs. And they don't know they've grown too big.

I loved the video and your easy manor, and "the little wiggle worm" is welcome for the whole of your videos, IMO. I loved his part in your first video, too, when you were making the salmon and lentil dish. Sent it to all my friends with goldens. They all laughed and suspected the video cut off before Smokes tried to jump onto the table. Oh, and we all made the salmon too!


What a great idea to post a video. Thank you Kristen. Wonderful to see Smokey in action too.









I am so LOL! Kristen, How brave you are to try and make a video with a scene stealer such as Smokey.

joy johnson

Love the videos! Re: the kitten...Having mourned many a beloved pet as well as human loved one, I know guilt is the companion to grief. But think of the love and life we have given them and they, us...loved unconditionally no matter their or our bad habits. In the end, I am comforted to know I did the best I could at the time and in the circumstances for four- or many-legged, or two legged, loved ones.

TIsh Tyler

Bonjour Kristi,

You are so kind to always think of others and this way (by video)to help Aunt Liddy and others with failing eyesight to continue to enjoy French Word a Day. Your presentation was parfait, and Smokey Dokie added a flair!

I will continue to be a faithful follower of your written word and now of your video and hopefully more to come.

And, merci for today's email. It was a wonderful surprise when I opened my email this evening!

Emailing from Powhatan VA where it was a beautiful day but chilly!

Martha Collette

Loved the video. But if Smokey wants to mourn a cat, he could do with a little more tongue in cheek! Perhaps he is wanting to get English Word a Day, for example, 'Go lie down!'
i hope you will continue making videos with subjects that please you, whether complicated or simple, n'importe quoi.
best, Martha


Smokey does not WANT you to read a story about a damn cat!


I love your video! I could only get two minutes of it and I think both you and Smokey are stars.......please keep making videos. PS I liked the background very much also.

Karen from Phoenix

Love the video. Smokey is so sweet, just wants to be loved and loved and loved. Hope you continue making videos, what a great idea.


Leslie in Portland, Oregon

Bravo on the video! Even my "old" PowerBook G4 could play it, and we enjoyed all 120 seconds. It's amazing that hearing and seeing you and Smokey in action adds so much to your already-vivid writing and photographs. Please include Smokey (and Braise) in all your videos...they are so much fun! Do you always speak to them in French? (My Golden, Henry, and long-haired dachshund, Bob, seem to respond best to commands in Russian and to particularly relish words of love in French!)

You are not alone with your tender heart. Thank you for "How to Mourn a Cat." XOXO

Linda Frederick, in Columbus Ohio

Yes, more videos, s'il vous plait! I know they're a ton of work, but what fun for us greedy readers. And on the bad-hair days (hey, even a glamorous French blogger must have a few?) the occasional audio version might be nice, too. If only as an aid to any of us whose spoken French may be ... less than parfait at this point.

But yes, your showboat chien may need his own blog soon. Thanks again!

Peggy S Baker

Brilliant idea. Can't wait for ALL the future video's to come. I think the learning curve is over, as you already have so many adoring readers, as I (and my hubby). Thank you for cheering us up and keeping us close to France, one word at a time.
God bless. OH...check out my Chateau Blog when you have a free second. Still making additions, and correcting spacing on some of the pages but you inspired me to work on something I truly love. Thank you.


Love it! your voice lends itself well to story telling. you are, comme d'habitude, so thoughtful of your readers. Smokey is a ham!


How sweet to be able to see you live. Poor Smokey wanted to be the center of attention, didn't he? But it was fun and I hope we get to see more (and hear the story, too)!

Susan Souza

I loved your video. You are a natural, as is Smokey.i


Love everything you do. Would ALSO love to have an adoring French Jean-Marc! (a rather old one, what is)

Y'all have what seems to me such a wonderful life, in a place -now - where I would absolutely LOVE to be...gotta have the coast...and love Bandol.

From the time he was a puppy my beautiful little black and tan long-haired dachshund would simply parade with pride when I would say, "Tu es le meilleur, meilleur chien du monde." And when he became almost totally deaf and blind....he still perked up to my falsetto French praise.

Thank you for always something warm and wonderful...

Georgia Schall

Oh yes, more videos would be so much fun! I could share them with my grandboys! They would love how helpful Smokey was reading the story! Tee hee!
Well, my sis has a 7 month old golden labrador with connoisseur tastes, it seems! We went out for Thanksgiving dinner and when we returned, there was a huge red stain on their light colored carpet! It appears she went counter surfing while we were gone, managed to chew on the screw top enough to make the wine leak out big time. Well, she wasn't staggering when we arrived home, but it was reported that dear Lucy slept well through the night!!! You never know what creativity our other human-like creatures will produce when their peps are out of sight (or right in front of you like Smokey was)! Bonsoir, Kristi!


I loved your video , although you weren't able to start the story ... it would be nice to have some videos once in a while...helps to learn ! xoxo from Montreal ! =)

Marcia D.

Loved the short video, hope you get the videos working better. Smokey, I see, wants to be a Star! lol

dana chapeskie

Merci beaucoup Kristi...please do post more. Lovely pooch!!

Mara in Wisconsin

How to make the print bigger, on this or most any page: Simply press the CONTROL key (lower left) and at the same time the + key. It's at the upper right, two to the right of the zero on my keyboard. Do it as many times as you need. CONTROL - will make it a step smaller again if you overdo it. There are ways to make larger print the default setting too, but they vary with browser, etc. Hope this helps Aunt Liddy and others continue reading.

Mara in Wisconsin

I wrote before watching the video, and I heard Kristen explain the same method. Oops! But perhaps for some it will be easier to have the written instructions.

Rick in Oklahoma

As I've suspected for a long time, even with all the self doubts you claim, it appears you do most of the things you set out to do very well! You seem to be a natural. Keep it up.


Thank you for the laugh. I loved it! :) Bonne chance on your next video venture!

Shannon, Alexandria, VA

CONTINUEZ, SVP!!! :) :) :) It will be so nice to have a mix of text and video to learn new French words/expressions.


Kristin: I loved the video. It's great seeing Smokey and you in "actions". You're so pretty and Smokey, a natural.

Kathleen from Connecticut

Thank you for the video. Smokey is such a ham...he just wants to be in the middle of everything.
Now if Aunt Liddy has a Mac (or maybe a PC will do the same) with a touch pad she can just expand the text with 2 fingers moving in an outward fashion.



Chère Kristi,

I think you have to be one of the sweetest people on this planet. This was so kind of you to do! And I agree with Maman Jules : finally, another video! (I always think of you when I cut into a moldy onion and the penicillin -- selon Jean-Marc -- that it contains!). Gros bisous et à la prochaine vidéo,

Lorrie Kazan

You're a natural. And you looked so pretty, as well. Loved it!


Our dear Kristin,
This just wrapped my heart in smiles and love.
How kind and caring you are!
Aunt Liddy--and all of us-- are so blessed to have you in our lives!
Love, Natalia XO

Jacqueline Gill

Your voice is so lovely. It's just what I thought it might be! You and Smokey are a dear pair. How generous of you to make a video for a reader.

Kirsten Smith

Dear Kristi,

Tish Tyler's comments above describe my sentiments exactly. I was so happy to see you reach out to Aunt Liddy in such a caring way. And we've just celebrated Thanksgiving in Virginia - and your kind video for Aunt Liddy, and many others, continues to add to the special spirit of giving thanks. Merci!

Judith Mearian

You really are lovely in every way, and Smokie is headed for stardom.

Trish et JeanClaude

Kristi, this video is a riot! Tout a fait le début propice et nous vous souhaitons "Bonne Continuation! Bises.

Dave L

Hello Kristin,

That was wonderful. I'm sorry the video was interrupted. It was such a pleasure. Smoky is just too cute and you interact so well.

Please make more videos! And let there always be at least one of your dogs in each video, please!

Happy Holidays and best wishes,

Dave L.


Hi Kristin, I was laughing out loud at Smokey! Loved the video, and I look forward to hearing the story someday. Oui, please make more videos! (And I love seeing Jean-Marc's comment.)


Love the video Kristin!

Judi Boeye Miller, Lake Balboa, CA

I was so disappointed when the video ended - I wanted MORE! Loved it. That was so sweet of Jean-Marc to comment about his beautiful wife! Such a pleasure for us all to see you, makes for an even closer community! I'm looking forward to a story from you, written or video, whichever you decide to do, it will be wonderful (and Smokey can be the star again or even a not-so-innocent bystander)!! Maybe it will be Braise's turn next time! I'm glad to see you looking so happy and healthy!


Bravo! Loved it! Smokey gets the Academy Award!

Marja van Straaten-Seep

You are a fine reader, if Smokey gives you a chance ... he just loves you to bits!! ... what a sweetheart :)

Sue Foy

You can get software to read websites aloud to you at http://www.browsealoud.co.uk (and undoubtedly many other places as well). In the UK, the RNIB provides support and advice for visually impaired people, and this can also be useful for dyslexics.


Excellent attempt at story-telling! I agree with the reader who thinks Smokey does not want to hear a story about a cat. Or maybe he was just very excited about the story-hour special. :) Keep up the good work!

Karen Whitcome (in Towson, Md)

This is a great idea. Mina cut off after "couchez", as you said it would. Not sure where the cat story is. Fpr some reason MY dog nudges my hands whenever I'm typing on the computer. Very funny

Encore! Encore!!

Eileen - Charlottesville, VA

Hi Kristin,
Funny! It's like Smokey knew you were going to start reading and stop petting! He's cute with his little tongue hanging out.
Have a nice Sunday!


Hi Kristin,
Videos are a great idea. And as for Smokey, seeing him is always a joy.

Suzanne Codi

Too hysterical, Smokey wants ALL your attention, and thinks he's a lap dog...You may want to try sitting in a chair next time! Love the video..though I never saw the cat story...and please keep doing them, it's a wonderful idea, and you look wonderful, as always.

Kathi Koegle

Hi, Kristi. Your video is an even more creative dimention to your blog. I'll bet other readers like me envision you living out the stories you share with us. To see and hear you from time to time is just pure delight! It's also a sweet reminder of the time I met you and your family a few years ago while vacationing in Provence. Having had a Golden myself, I know what charmers they are and how much they thrive on our love and attention. Clearly, Smokey is one happy and lucky chien.

Andrew Whitby

I loved the video! How very funny and just like a dog to want to be center of attention. Thanks for the laugh and please do more!


Hilary Frye

I love the video. It's so nice to hear your voice, in French and English ... and so nice to see how much you and Smokey R Dokey love one another. To have that is a huge comment on your character.

Dad in Southern California

Wonderful...can't wait to see more. You are very composed and professional for a new movie star!

Rhina Badia


I was able to see only the introduction of the video but not the story (couldn't find it or it was cut too short).

I think this is a great idea. I loved hearing your voice and it will be great to my ears to hear your stories in French (and English). I need to 'hear' more French.

Smokey is a Star. My husband knows he is my secret boyfriend and is okay with it. Please continue to have him and his mom in pictures and future videos.

The best to you with this new idea. I think it will work great. I truly enjoy your website and newsletters. You are an inspiration to all of us that love French and France.

Best regards, Rhina (Glen Ellen, CA)


I love all of the comments--Mr. Smokey just wants his MOM all to himself. Have a wonderful Smokey-filled day.

Jan Doll

I was delighted to see and hear you, i've followed your newsletters almost from the start. Yes please do continue I love the sounds of the countryside and look forward to more.

Tell Smokey that he has to start a show of his own...he definitely doesn't want to share you!!

Jan (Edmonton, AB. Canada)

Phyllis Adatto

I loved the video. It's great to see you and hear you - along with Smokey!

Cheryl Webster

Hi - I have been following your posts since a customer of mine who was getting her masters degree in French told me about it. I love it more as I am a golden retriever owner and fan and I have to say, that seeing a live video of your little Smokey, with his tongue hanging out from his puppy attack and his ever so golden personality shining through so clearly in just two minutes made me smile this morning. Thanx for including him and give him a ear rub for me!


Just adding my voice to the growing chorus of people who want to see more videos on your blog. Keep up the excellent work!


Wow, so many posts and so many kudos - the video was wonderful, you really are eye candy, dear Kristin, a very beautiful woman....Will we get the cat-mourning video this coming week?

joie in carmel,ca

I am still smiling. First how beautiful of you to consider someone who is having trouble seeing. How very much like you that the explanation of why you were making a video would take up the whole time. And Smokey was true to form wanting to be the star of the show. I hope you realise how wonderful your life really is. I think it would be delightful if every so often you did a video story. Would it be in french and then the transulation written? Joie

Vicki, San Francisco Bay area

I echo the sentiments of those who have said how thoughtful of you to consider your reader's plight and want to ameliorate it! I enjoyed the video and would love to see more! You could add acting and cinematography to your list of talents. ;-)

julie camp

Next we know, you'll have a contract for readings on TV. I agree with Marc and many of your other readers, you are beautiful. Additionally you are authentic; you write familiarly with heart, honesty, clarity, in a naïveté. that invites your readers to respond. Your following is family--yours and ours. Thanks, Kristin. -julie-

Gaelle from AZ

Awesome first video!! how fun to "see" you again. Courtesy of Smokie we even were treated to a bit of French which I'll be passing onto our dog. Oui..keep them coming!!


Loved it! Thank you for the dog training video demonstrating the commands "assis!" and "couché!". As my wife and I learn French we are teaching our dog to respond to commands she already knows translated to French. Who says you can't teach an old dog a new language?


Very cute! Fun to see and hear your voice on video. Loved seeing Smokey at his best. Don't stop writing but keep experimenting with the video. And thanks for the tip about Cntrl +. Who knew! It definitely works, as does Cntrl - for making the print smaller.


Perhaps it is best that the video cut off when it did. For how in the world could you have read that heartfelt story without grieving (and tearing up!) all over again? Then you would have had video of beautiful Smokey kissing away your tears on camera!

Would love to see more videos. A very creative idea and one that you do very well.

Tom Mundis

Great idea ! Great video ! All of us who have dogs and cats can identify with your loss and also your wonderful Smokey. Thanks for sharing part of your life with all of us.
Tom, Portola Valley, California


great idea, i acually love it! It is a great way to practice, for us obviosely, and for you, before u know ull be great at reading out loud :) i cant wait

Angela Sargent

That made me smile! Smokey wants to be a film star...Great to hear your voice Kristin and kind to make the video.

Patty in Bethesda, MD

Mara from Wisconsin is right, a lovely colleague here at work helped me with this seeing the words problem on work related items and I find this so very useful all day long no need for additional glasses. It does work on your French Word A Day. Yippee!

I get by with a little help from my friends... off to see your video : )

Patty in Bethesda, MD

The video idea is great and it is a terrific solution!


How do you say DITTO in French? Loved the video. And I also love the beauty of your creative nonfiction. Hope you will continue both.


Delightful. Smoky had me giggling.........However, I love the manner in which you write so please be flexible with the media you use - you have so many fans to please!
Bonne semaine


There is a software program called Jaws that will read aloud text from a computer screen. Perhaps someone can help Aunt Liddy explore that program or other text to speech programs?

That, of course, would not preclude more videos from Kristi.


Smoky! Cute


Quelle belle voix! Comme je suis content d'entendre cette voix.
Your voice matches your face, your heart, and your lovely writing.


Loved the short clip of you and smokey. I hope you do more in the future.

susan standke

It was so lovely to hear your voice!!!!! Your dog is wonderful.....I do enjoy listening ....it has added a dimension to you that i had not met yet......nice!!! susan


LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the video! Keep up the good work! I love your writing but it's so nice to see and hear you too!!

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