Today is The Day! Something mammoth to celebrate!
Hommage: Adieu Mr. Farjon "The Plant Whisperer"

Désinvolte: Mom's new pet (and a message from Smokey?)

The sign on this quirky façade in Alsace reads Le Chat qui Pêche ("The Cat that Fishes"). Read on for a story about another smart cat...and don't miss the photo at the end of this post.

TODAY'S COOL WORD: "désinvolte"

: casual, nonchalant, detached, glib

A FEW BLOOPERS...Today's sound file, recorded by Jean-Marc, has a funny mistake. The good news is you will hear both the term and the translation (in English).  Click the link below for the audio, then scroll to the vocabulary section to check your French comprehension.
Click here for the audio file

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

I was looking for a word to describe Mom's new pet, son animal de compagnie, when Jules offered a suggestion: "ALOOF. Cats are aloof." Well that seemed like a good term to share with you today... until I saw the boring French translation:

"réservé" "distant"...

Bof! You already know those words, in French and English! Luckily, the dictionary offered an interesting synonym for aloof: désinvolte, which reminds me of "revolt" which is what Lili The Cat did when we moved into her house 5 years ago. You see, Lili belonged to the family living here before us. But they were moving abroad and were unable to transport their 12-year-old minette overseas...So we agreed to help out by adopting Lili. But when our new chat figured out our golden retriever, Smokey, was part of the Live-Together deal, she hightailed it over the border, to the neighbor's.

Then, mysteriously, the very day Smokey passed away, Lili quietly migrated back....

I almost stepped on her while watering the rose bushes. Longhaired Lili was the same color as the muddy gravel surrounding her. Lifting her up I had a shock: she weighed less than an empty sock and she resembled as much. This wasn't the neighbor's fault. Our kind voisine regularly fed her, along with the other felines living over there (including one of Lili's offspring), but Lili is a fussy eater, picky to the extreme. "And she is not sociable and won't come into the house—not even when it storms!" My neighbor filled me in on a few of Lili’s quirks as we chatted at our little “window” in the hedge between our yards..

The day Lili met Jules everything changed, for both immigrants. My mom, who moved to France 4 years ago, when her husband passed, was now grieving over the loss of her best friend and confidant, Smokey. "He used to sleep beside me, with his head on my pillow. We used to talk to each other all night long," Mom shared. I remembered their special language, and loved it when Mom impersonated a talking Smokey! 

Since Smokey departed a great void filled Jules' studio... until sock-light Lili appeared! Lili, as you know, had this reputation of being distant, unfriendly, unpredictable, ungrateful--and maybe even a little bit sociopathic...à vrai dire). So we had zero expectations when she returned after 5 years, and instinct told me to reroute the errant cat over to Jules' place, to the little studio 15 meters from our front door.

This many months later and Lili weighs almost as much as our chubby puppy (Smokey never looked his age, even at almost 13 years). "She won't eat anymore home-cooked salmon, so I'm giving her meatballs," Mom explained, during one of our daily "Lili chats". I love going over to Mom's and sitting on the edge of her bed in time to hear of Lili's latest exploits (just as we used to discuss darling Smokey antics):

"She ran off the other cat," Mom said, of the stray with the broken tail who used to eat Lili's leftovers. "And she loves to sit behind the window and glare at the two hedgehogs when they come for their dinner!" (Jules offers Smokey's unused dog food to the spiky hérissons... carefully soaking it in water first). "I can't believe she is 17 years old," Mom confides, petting her new boarder. "You love Grandma, don't you? You can have anything you want! You deserve it!"

I can't believe Lili has come this far--from misanthrope to Miss (that's "beauty queen," in French). It remains a mystery how this cat manifested in time to become Jules' new confidant. I like to think that some tubby golden-haired angel in heaven is smiling down: I promised I would never leave you alone, Grandma! Smokey is saying, in that special, human parlance he uses with Mom.


un animal de compagnie = a pet
= nonchalant, detached
bof! = meh, nah
le chat = cat
le voisin, la voisine = neighbor
la minette = kitty, kitty cat
à vrai dire = to tell you the truth
un hérisson = hedgehog
la Miss = beauty queen

Lili, beside Mom's pillow, doing her best impression of Smokey. 

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💓Dearest, darlin' Smokey💓, as I mentioned to our dear Kristi yesterday, tu es toujours dans nos coeurs. And Kristi & Jules, yay! Sweet.

Lauren Sterling

I adore this story. Since being here in France now, I have come to see that the French see un animal de campagnie sometimes differently than we do in the U.S. In our village, cats are left out all night to flâner, and of course get into mischief. Dogs, however, are kept inside at night but then let out to flâner without supervision in the day; considered independent. Oh, and pet owners seem miffed when their pets go missing. Interesting.


I always thought of Smokey as a miracle dog -and here’s just one more miracle he’s delivered! Jules certainly has her charms too-wonderful for Lili and the whole family!

Gwyneth Perrier

Awww, I love this post! I always enjoyed following Smokey's stories and was sad when he passed. It seems that Lili finally found her place with a doting companion. (Smokey is surely smiling and wagging his tail from on high!) Really lovely.

Patricia Sands

Quelles bonnes nouvelles! I'm so happy for Jules and Lili ... and thanks to dear Smokey for making it happen. One of our grandcats just crossed over the rainbow bridge a month ago ... at 22 years! Lili is still a youngster!

Beth Fiacco

Cats ARE desinvolte! C'est vrai !
Enjoyed Jean-Marc's "mess up" - and ability to laugh and not re-do it! Bien fait !


And, if Jules ever needs another cat, get a male that she can name “Verne”.

Your story today,..this testament is true — that our pets are lifesavers …we save them and they save us.


Beautiful entry as always, thank you so much beautiful Kristi.


This pulls on my heart. We just had to say goodbye to our little Mignonne. We had her since she was 4 weeks old. (She would have turned 18 in April.) She was a tiny one as well, and adored my 92 year old mom. She slept with her every night, too.

Alisa F

I went through something similar to your loss of Smokey this year. I was in Paris (my third time living in France - the other times were 2010 in Marseille and 2014 with L'Arche in Compiegne) to do an internship with the organisation for economic cooperation and development in May when my parents called to tell me my 15 year old cat was diagnosed with Lymphoma. I was devastated, but she began chemo treatments and seemed to respond well. I had told God it would not be okay if he took my cat from me while I was away in France and couldn't be by her side. I returned back to the states in late July and had a really nice month with my cat before her health declined, and in September she passed away. She was my confident and best friend and I don't think I'll ever recover from the heart-break. I read about your Smokey over the summer and shared in the heart ache of loosing a beloved animal companion.


Our dear Kristi,
I write now with tears in my eyes-- this is absolutely one of your best posts, filled with love, empathy,compassion, and above all, your unending kindness.You and Grandma Jules are beyond awesome!!
For sure God has allowed precious Smokey to have his paws wrapped around you tight(even though they are now through the form of sweet Lilli)
Blessings in profusion to all of you!
Natalia. XO

Gail Larson

Yes, Kristi, I totally agree with Natalua, one of your finest posts! My heart was delighted and also comforted to hear your beautiful words. Such love still exists in our troubled world. This moment each week when you post a piece of your amazing writing is a joy to your readers. Thank you. You are a gift to us all.

Karima Amos

Made my day, Kristi! Thanks.

Jeanine Woods

I also have tears in my eyes reading this- what a testament to the healing power of pets (and visa versa). As the common saying here in the U.S.goes: who saved who? Right now our dog is attending to my husband who just had a painful surgery. What a comfort pets are. Your post is beautifully written to relay this Kristi. And I love Jean-Marc's "faux"- actually he's just human with his non-native language, like me :)


I think that Lilli knew it was time to return and Smokey gave her a nudge. Pets are great company. One of my cats used to sleep under the covers and he loved to sit around my neck, like a collar. They can be so comforting.
But they can also be territorial. When my husband first stayed over, another one of my cats peed on the bed and then when we moved to a new home, she pooped on the bed. The other one would attack my husband’s heels. They were not happy that I had someone, besides them in my life.
Peace, Kathleen

Leslie in Oregon

Dear Kristi and Jules, I have sent the link to this post to Melissa, whose beloved Golden Retriever Scout died one year ago. Scout sent Archie, a Golden Retriever rescued from the dog meat trade in China, to Melissa. You can find Melissa and Archie, and Scout, on Instagram at @scoutgoldenretriever . (If you are not on Instagram, I can send you their Facebook address.)

*Archie is one of the dogs that Golden Bond Rescue and its partners in China have rescued, brought to the United States and placed in forever homes.

Cerelle Bolon

Animals sense our needs, sometimes in an amazing way! It seems that Smokey sent his guardian angel to whisper in Lili's ear that she was needed there. I am happy for them both and long may they enjoy each other's company! Best to you, Kristi.


Having recently lost our sweet Kit of 13 years , I loved your story today.

How silent our lives can be without our beloved pet babies who love us as much as we love them.

My little guy came to me in a wakeful dream the day after he died. He jumped in my lap, gave me a lick, then jumped onto the bed for a scratch from my husband.
That morning I knew he was telling me he was now blissful and healthy again. A cherished gift from our dear Kitty Boy.

Cherish the special love we receive from our pets.

Kitty Wilson-Pote

Sensitive, sweet, superbe! What a special post today, Kristi!
Delighted that Smokey deployed Miss Lili to bask in Jules' fond care. A perfect pairing. My senior cat Miss Daisy is on my lap this moment. Adopted her when her Human entered hospice in 2021, and we are dear friends now.
Though I still pine for past dog-darlings, Her Daisyship is truly blessing. We are Co-Purrers.
"Brava!" from us two to Lili and Jules! 😍
~ Kitty & Daisy, in Canada

Kitty Wilson-Pote

Daisy's "A True Blessing!"😸

Diane Hart

In Sept I was in alsace such a darling area. so imagine my delight in seeing your lovely picture. It was part of a river cruise I was on with vantage.


Hi Krist and Jules,
Very sweet post! I'm glad Jules has another buddy to keep her company but no cat or dog can fill sweet Smokey's shoes (paws) :-)

Judy Feldman

Kristi, this is such a lovely post! You have such a gift for beautiful, sensitive stories! I’m so glad Lily decided to come back home and settle in with your mom. It sounds like they are great companions.

Barbara Stephano

Kristi , toi et ta mère devriez écrire les histoires de Lili pour les petits enfants et les grands . Ce seront amusantes et si émouvantes!


Glad to hear Jules has another friend - she looks very healthy in her picture. My Yogi passed away little over a year ago and I still see him walking with me when I aim out getting my walk in. It is true - they are always in our hearts. Enjoy your weekend.

Suzanne in NJ

Oh, she's very pretty and a good companion for Jules.


Lili looks like our kitty Oscar, a "Maine coon" cat. When we adopted her, she put up with our two dogs, even interacting with them, even napping on the same bed. But when our dogs died and we adopted a new one, Oscar was quite put out and took up residence in the basement. He still won't come up unless the dog is at work with my husband, or until the dog has gone to sleep for the night.
Poor kitty....

Frances in Napa

I have no doubt that Smokey sent her to your mom. How absolutely wonderful that Lili and your mom are now best companions. I think Lili is enjoying ruling the roost! Thank you for sharing this happy and loving story.

Leslie NYC

I think Lili was just waiting for this moment. Amazing timing, but not surprising. She had to wait her turn, but then pounced. Animals line up to join Jules' enchanted garden. The word is out!

Joanne Fischer

I love this story! We just do not give animals enough credit for their love and intelligence! 🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱

K. J. Laramie

Lili waited a long time to be ‘the only child’ and is finally living out her dream under Jules’ doting care. To be sure, nurturing each other with love and affection in their twilight years couldn’t be a better recipe for peaceful contentment. This story is so inspiring, Kristi, and so many sweet animals and older humans will benefit from reading and acting upon it.

Stacy Lund

Another beautiful story from you! When one door closes, another one opens. It is reassuring how life brings what we need, when we need it. It warms my heart to know that Jules and Lili have found each other.

Cathia Gantz

Maria thank you! My Annie stayed with me after her passing . I didn’t see her but felt her movements. After a bit she acted out her particular rituals through a kitten I fostered. My story always fell on deaf ears but your mind is open. Cats are sensitive to our moods, spiritual , and smart. Jules is open and believes and has been blessed with Angel Lilly.

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