Get well soon, in French + photos from our winetasting!
Mois & May in France: two things to know

Coursier: Delivering my dog's tumor to the post office...


Do you listen to the audio files in these posts? Here are the French men who record them: my 19-year-old son, Max, and my husband, Jean-Marc. The treasure of sound files for this blog dates back to when the kids were 7-years-old. Here is a gem you must listen to and share!: A nine-year-old Max, reading Rudyard Kipling's inspiring poem, "If". Click here.

coursier, coursière

    : delivery boy, delivery girl, courier, runner

Listen to Max read these French words:
Download MP3 or Wav

Hier, ma mère a joué la coursière en amenant la tumeur de Smokey à la poste! Yesterday, my mom played delivery girl by bringing Smokey's tumor to the post office.

Improve your French pronunciation with Exercises in French Phonetics. Click here. 

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

I often feel I am, as my mother-in-law says, pedaling in the choucroute, or slogging through daily life--especially life's duties! Ever a student of self-improvement, I crave information on how to render the everyday smooth and efficient. I'm an incurable web surfer and have a shelf of books with titles such as Remèdes de Grand-mère and Comment Vous Simplifier La Vie. And when I still can't get my act together, I turn to this paper-thin book by a 17th century French spiritual advisor.

My French veterinarian is also trying to simplify her life. On Tuesday, after Smokey's operation, she handed me an express envelope, with instructions on how to mail my dog's cancerous tumor.

"Just drop this off at the post office," she said, as casually as that.

"La poste?" the bizarre order was not registering.

"They're closed now," she said, looking at her wristwatch. "But you can keep it until tomorrow."  Shaking the bag, she offered. "It's specially sealed!"

Returning home, I put our furry patient, Smokey, to bed and turned my attention to the current dilemma: WHERE TO PUT THE TUMOR? Looking around the house, I weighed the possibilites:

...I could set it on the table beside the entry. No, Breize might eat it.

...Hide it in the armoire? No, it could be forgotton!

...Stick it in the bathroom! Only to sit and stare at it. No!

...Put it on the window sill.... And risk scaring away my new friend Tanja (who was soon arriving for a walk. Yikes, il faut se dépêcher! Better hurry up!)

I stuck the tumor in the kitchen, behind the toaster, and almost passed out when returning from my walk I found someone had tampered with the package--moving it from behind to toaster... to the cutting board! AK! WORST CASE SCENARIO!!!

In the end, no harm came to the The Little Tumor. (Whoever had moved it was impatiently reaching for the stash of baguettes, just behind le grille-pain, and had simply failed to return the non-bagette to its place (isn't that the way your own family behaves when hungry? Anything else--body parts notwithstanding--is no more than an obstacle between them and the food.)

The next day I delivered my dog's tumor to the post office, which, just like my vet and myself, is always looking for ways to simplify life! They have recently  installed several automated machines, or "mail it yourself" stations. Thankfully, one window remained, with a living breathing person behind it.

Handing the clerk my dog's tissues, I may not have chosen the most efficient option (French postal workers are not known for their speed), but I trusted Smokey's tumor would soon be spirited away, as the French say, comme une lettre à la poste!


 I met Tanja and Ricard (yes, like the famous French anise pastis--see him in the fence's opening?) on Instagram. Voilà, one great reason to finally sign up to Instagram: for the interesting and wonderful people and dogs you'll meet! For the latest photos from this French life,  join me here.


 Nice to meet you! Have you recently joined French Word-A-Day? You might enjoy the story behind this language journal. Read the intro to my book First French 'Essais'

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


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I loved listening to Max when he was a child! And then the new one-reminds me how fast time will go by and my little grandson will sound like a grown up too. Is Max still coming this summer?

Linda Bertorello

Hi Kristin, We had to do the exact same thing with our dogs bone sample to find out what kind of bone infection she had. I had to go to the post office but first place a check of 44 euros in the envelope.
I would have thought that was included in the surgery and at very least they would cover the expenses of the lab as she got a bone infection from the operation. But thats France for you - hopefully Smokeys results are good and he is on his way to a healthy recovery.
Love LInda

Julie T

What a joy to hear Max as a young boy and now as a young man. I to have a recording of my twin boys singing "there's a hole in my bucket" when they were 6 years old. They are now 33. Time goes by so quickly. May your beautiful Smokey receive good news very soon.
Best wishes to you all from a very sunny Edinburgh Scotland

Heather in Arles

Eh oui, yet another "only in France"...please know that I am thinking about you and Smokey everyday...

Roger Anderson

I've never experienced having to mail anything removed by the vet myself nor have I ever heard of it here in the U.S. The vets here generally have lab pickup services for that purpose. I'm guessing it has to do with your proximity to a lab?


Pourquoi?!?!!! Why on earth would you have to mail a tumor?!! Oh those crazy Frenchies!

Judith Moore Cheney

Shouldn't it have been refrigerated or in an ice chest overnight? I hope good news comes back very soon. Max's reading is a treasure.

Kristin Espinasse

Julie,  yes,  Max is still going to work in Portland,  at Steven Smith Teamakers
Linda,  My check wad a little more, and sealed in the packet along with the tumor!
Heather, Thank you for keeping Smokey in your thoughts!

Audrey Wilson

Oh delightful to listen to young Max. How I wish my pronunciation was as good !
A bit weird to have to mail a tumour ." Ours not to reason why etc--"!
Good news that Smokey is home.He will make a good recovery sans doute

Cynthia Gillespie-Smith

Kristi, so happy the worst is behind you and that Smokey is recovering. He's young, he's got spirit, and he'll be bouncing around again soon. A très bientôt!

Kristin Espinasse

Judith, I had the same concern. But my vet said the temperature was not an issue (owing to the specially sealed pack)
Cynthia, thanks for the encouraging words and see you soon!

Julie Farrar

Ah, the French poste. I always pass by two smaller offices to go to the main post in centre ville because they are extremely helpful and trés gentile. At one of the smaller ones the worker threw a lot of angry words at me, gesturing wildly at the machines, and refused to service me because I wanted something that could have been done at a machine. It just made me more appreciative of the people at the main post office across town.

Thinking good thoughts for Smokey.

Nyla Witmore

Maybe the reason we feel so overwhelmed by so many crises and interruptions in our schedules or in our children's crises, is NOT the crises or clutter or happenings themselves. I am now thinking that it is more like we expect WE should be able to do something to FIX everything around us. (P.S. This is the curse of all us mothers, Oui?). It is indeed humbling to learn that we cannot CONTROL everything. And, being a mother and grandmother...I notice that it is the things farthest removed from us physically, (like grown children no longer under our skirts' hems or if they are in distant places), that remind us we have to pay attention to simplification. When
we feel helpless to fix... Isn't that one of the most unsettling of feelings?

Pat Cargill

Max and Papa, such a beautiful portrait. Had to say this before reading, so touching.

Pat Cargill

Loved listening to Max recite "If" en francais...another study guide source! Thinking of dear Smokey, hope he is feeling better. About your posting le tumor: quel bizzaro! Have a great weekend.


Dear Smokey,
So glad you are home and resting comfortably, surrounded by your loving family.
I am sure you will be up and about soon!
Thinking of you,



Ah, welcome Smokey, I just had a tumor removed three weeks ago today, however, here in Canada the lab at the hospital kept it!! After working with Canada Post for a long time we did get a lot of unusual things come through the mail, live animals, ashes, etc as long as it's marked properly so it's not lost.smokey and I can recoup together!!!


Max, reading Rudyard Kipling's poem, "If" is a keeper. Hearing your son's voice as a child when he's grown is pretty amazing. I remember hearing a tape of our oldest son singing, "Go tell it on the mountain!" when he was 3 years old. At the time we first discovered the tape, he was in his 30s. He became a singer and a conductor, so it was so much fun to hear his early attempts and his ability to carry a tune at that age.



I can imagine how difficult it would be to find a safe place to hide the envelope containing Smokey's tumor. Hope the results of the surgery were good. I know you will be so relieved to get an answer.


Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
I just loved listening to Max's sweet little 9 year old voice! How precious and to compare it to the grown up voice now. How nice to have these memories to look back on and listen to! Have a great weekend! Oh, darn it is only Thursday and I have to get to my job at The Happy Cook! :-)

Judy Wood

I, too, enjoyed Max's recording of "If"- so sweet. Since my French is rusty, I really appreciate the recordings that Max and Jean-Marc so kindly provide.

As for your post story, it brought back memories of the semester that I spent in Aix-en-Provence while in college. At that time, I communicated with my parents by sending them cassettes, which I mailed regularly. There were 2 post offices within walking distance, and they charged different prices for the exact same package. So I learned to go to the post office that was bon marché.

Stacy - Sweet Life Farm

Oh, dear, it seems many of us are seeking to simplify --- and we each have our own path! I am shocked the tumor was sent home with you for do-it-yourself mailing!?

Prayers for Smokey. Still giggling in Applegate….

Trina, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

Kristin, Thanks for the tip on the little book by Francois Fenelon. I will have to check that out. I have a penchant for the same sort of books as are apparently on your shelf. Those and a particular sort of memoir ... which is probably how I first came across your Words in a French Life. Continued best wishes to Smokey.

Cynthia P. Lewis

I'm certain that your vet is competent and someone who loves animals, but she/he should never have asked you to take Smokey's specimen home with you. That was a totally insensitive act.

For thirty-five years I worked as a nurse in a small rural town where the nearest hospital lab was thirty miles away. Biopsies and such were either mailed by the staff or a courier picked them up. Vets, of all people, should realize how much we love our pets and how emotionally attached we are to them. Maybe I am being overly sensitive....

Best wishes to all and especially to Smokey.


Max's "If" is precious.

Continuing good wishes for Smokey.


I think all the reader comments have covered all my thoughts (I'm a bit late in responding!) But, I have to say what a gift you have given to yourself and to your whole family with the recording of your children's voices. Such a grand idea, and one that unfortunately we can't go back and make happen. So nice you have these recordings. Wait til Max plays it for his children!! (I know, not yet!) My best thoughts and vibes go out to you and Smokey's entire family - good vibes, good results!! Loved the pic of Max and Jean-Marc!!


Our dear Kristi,
Wow,today's post reminds me of a similar scenario we just faced(FedEx instead of mail)with precious Ari's lymph node samples sent off for testing for lymphoma.Thank God,these turned out benign,and the proper diagnosis,though not a walk in the park,not life threatening.
We are continuing in prayer for this to happen for sweet Smokey....ALL IS WELL.
Also a wonderful idea to record Max (and Jackie' s ) voices with you both.My parents did that with us,and since they both passed(and one brother as well),these tapes are nothing short of gold.
Natalia. Xo

JacqBrisbane via Bruxelles und Trier

Coucou, typo advice from Landen, Brabant flamand...
- Pedaling dans la choucroute.
- Comment vous simplifier (not somplifiez)
- Armoire.
Bonne chance Smokey.


Your photos are exceptional ---I would like to see you put together a book of your photos -- even call it "Days in a French Life". perhaps.

I would buy that book in a minute......

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