Bougeotte = Wanderlust, the need to move about + A New Attraction The Paris Airport
Jamais Deux Sans Trois: Road Rage, A Flat Tire (Bad Things Come in Threes)

BUTÉ: A Phantom Pregnancy, A Hysterectomy & A New Job + French word for Stubborn

Smiley faces wooden shutters La Ciotat France
Spotted in La Ciotat centre ville: Notice the little slippers, les chaussons, dangling from the highest window. Below, can you see the smiley faces on these pink pots? Smiles here at home, as well, now that our dog is feeling better after undergoing surgery one week ago. Also, read to the end to find out who got a new job!

TODAY’S WORD: BUTÉ (bew-tay)

  : stubborn

Other French words for stubborn include têtu, obstiné, and entêté

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A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

It all started with an unusual stream of yippy yelps, followed by moaning, crying, and whining. Next, came the overly amorous advances toward our couch pillows, les coussins, and the realization our chienne was acting very odd lately.

It must be the breed, I shrugged. American shepherds are highly vocal, intelligent, and need a lot of attention and care, in addition to loads of activité physique. Perhaps Ricci wasn’t getting enough exercise, now that Jean-Marc was away in New Zealand? My morning beach strolls and evening circles around the block were not enough to work out all that pent-up energy in our 3-year-old toutou.

But when the local male dogs began making a demi-tour along the boardwalk, bee-lining down to Ricci at the beach (their owners shouting “Reviens!”) we began to suspect our dog was in heat again.

Jackie figured it out first: “Elle est en chaleur!

“But it’s only been two months since her last cycle,” I said, unbelieving. 

“Better take her to the doctor,” Jackie urged.

 A trip to the véto produced more than a few surprises. The first was an encounter with a reader of this journal, who revealed herself with a soft-spoken Bonjour, Kristi.  I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard my name spoken by a stranger! Stéphanie was on her way out with her cat when, on our way in, we held open the door in time to make the connection. During a few aller-retours (there were a total of 3 cats to transfer to her car) we learned we were near neighbors! 

"A bientôt pour un café!" Waving goodbye to our new friend, Jackie and I continued to the front desk, where we were led into the examination room with Ricci—in time for surprise number two and three…

Not only was our dog in heat, she was in the middle of une grossesse nerveuse—a phantom pregnancyas evidenced by the lait maternel she was producing, and also by the échographie. The ultrasound also revealed water in her uterus. The vet explained that not only was this not safe, but it could affect fertility which made me wonder if this is why our dog—a former chienne reproductrice—was retired from breeding and put up for sale?

We made an appointment for an Ovario-hystérectomie (for a week later, the time for the "Finilac" medication to suppress or  end the lactation) and then waited nervously until Ricci came out of surgery.                                            

The past week, post-op, has been a challenge given our dog is one stubborn patient, refusing to drink enough or to "do her business" (faire ses besoins) as usual. But then this isn't business as usual, after an invasive procedure, and who wouldn't be bull-headed when struggling with a large plastic cone? While we call it an “Elizabethan collar,” the French have their own shameful synonyms for the plastic contraption designed to keep dogs and cats from licking their surgical wounds:

1) la collerette de la honte (cone of shame)
2) l'abat-jour (lampshade)

While those are amusing terms, our cone-headed convalescent is not smiling. Elle boude. She’s also refusing to come when I call her, obliging me to pick her up and haul her up and down the stairs. And, once in bed with me, she runs circles around the mattress like a bull in a china shop, her roughhousing punctuated by an abrupt KICK! as she settles beside me, finally, only to groan.

"She’s such a drama queen!" Jackie laughs, seeing through the act. Because the moment we remove the cone Ricci’s hummingbird energy instantly returns. But put the cone back on again and she reverts to a slug….

She is stubborn! In fact, I think she wins The Most Stubborn among all our feisty family members. Just to be sure, I check with Jackie…
"Who is the most stubborn? Grandma Jules or Ricci?"


"Really?" I’m surprised.

"Ok, who’s next after Grandma and Ricci?


"Me?” (And here I thought I was a pushover!) "Oh well, stubborn people rock!"

"True!" Jackie laughed. Well, that makes Grandma Jules a rock star…and little Ricci a Rockette. As for the other stubborn members in our family, I'd say Max, Jackie, and Jean-Marc tie for 4th place!

Off now to cater to our doggie drama queen. One more week of the cone, er—la collerette de la honte—and Ricci can hold her silky head high again. I think I will be as relieved as my dog when that annoying, clumsy piece of plastic is finally removed. Bon débarras!

My daughter, Jackie, and Boo-Boo (one of the million terms of endearment for our dog. How many do you have for your animal de compagnie?) 

And now for some good news: Jackie has a summer job bartending in Cassis before she enters business school in the fall (à be continued...).

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Sound file: listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the French terms below

La Ciotat = La Ciotat
le centre ville
= town center
le chausson = slipper
= stubborn
le coussin
= pillow
la chienne = female dog
l’activité physique = physical activity 
le toutou = dog (in slang)
le demi-tour = U-turn
Reviens! = Come back!
Elle est en chaleur = she’s in heat
le véto (Veterinaire) = veterinarian
à bientôt pour un café = see you soon for a coffee
une grossesse nerveuse = a phantom pregnancy 
l’échographie = ultrasound, sonogram
le lait maternel = breast milk
une chienne reproductrice = breeder
réformé(e) = retired
l’hystérectomie = hysterectomy
faire ses besoins = do your business 
la collerette de la honte = cone of shame
(m) = lampshade
elle boude = she's pouting
bon débarras! = good riddance!
un animal de compagnie = pet

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Ricci dog with blow up surgical cone
I bought this blow-up cone online but it did not work for our long-nosed dog! So it is back to the plastic collerette de la honte.

La Route des Souvenirs/Memory Lane: Picture of Mom with some delightful locals taken after Jules moved to La Ciotat from Mexico in 2018. Wish Mom luck as she returns to the clinic today for another injection. (And wish Ricci luck as she'll be on her own with her big cone while I drive Mom to Marseille.)

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Hi Kristi,
Poor Ricci! Our dog Tank looked so pitiful after he was neutered and I bought a blow up collar too but it didn’t work. He could still reach his stitches!
Good luck to Jackie on her new job!
I bet spring is beautiful there! Everything is blooming here along with my allergies.

Laura Purdy

Hi Kristi,
Love your writing and amazing photos! There is something called a "dog recovery suit" or a "onesie" These are a good alternative to the cone of shame, and work quite well for some dogs. Anyway, hopefully Ricci is almost healed and enjoying life again!

Pam Horovitz

Kristi, after years of the stiff plastic cones on my pets I purchased a cone made of a softer plastic. It bends enough to make it more comfortable for a pet to eat and sleep and has reduced the trauma of the cone of shame.


I hope Ricci is feeling much better now. I recently had my cat Sophie, spayed about a month ago. They had a process (for an extra fee) where they use a laser to cauterize the incision and internal stitches. It meant she came home not needing a cone. Her behavior was similar to Ricci's, as I think she had discomfort for about a week. She was not to be jumping up or down, but who can stop a cat? I noticed when she did jump down, she groaned, so I knew she had discomfort. She was also very clingy, affectionate. She's back to her normal self now, with her hair growing back in and biting if you touch her when she doesn't want you to.

Suzanne in Monroe, NJ

Gemma had a recent problem that required the "cone." Luckily, the blow-up donut worked for her which made life a lot better. She is healed and back to normal as I hope Ricci will be soon.

Kathleen Bidney

Hi Kristi,
I have a friend who used a onesie for her dog when she got neutered. It did work, because as usual she hated the cone. When my cats had cones, they always bumped into things and could get hurt. Glad that Ricci is almost through with the cone.
Spring is coming, daffodils and forsythia are blooming, but we have had so much rain here in Connecticut. Hopefully this doesn’t mean that we will have a dry scouring summer. We need a balance.


In the end, all is for the best! Congrats to Jackie entering business school! Quick healing and reduced stubbornness for Ricci. Hope Jules injection went well. You are coping very well!💕


Our dear Kristi,
Oh!Ma chere! Bien sur vous avez les mains pleines en ce moment!! Bravo et courage!What an example you set for all of us! WOW!!!
There's only one appropriate expression I can think of here ( and apologies to Winston Churchill for changing his wording)
"When you're going through challenges KEEP GOING!!!
As always,your gifted writing and beautiful pictures made us feel so appreciated and our opinions valued.THANK YOU!!
All of you are in my prayers,and,needless to say(!) Arms are tight around you.
Natalia. Xo


Hi Kristi,
We say l'hystérectomie because of the silent H.
Hope Ricci soon recovers!

Donna Blanton

Bonsoir Kristi,

I was tickled to read your synonyms for being "stubborn". From my study abroad year in France (37 years ago now?), I fondly recall several synonyms for this "hard-headed" word: têtu, obstiné, épineux. I'm sure there are other related terms. Strangely, however, I have no idea why I would remember synonyms of being stubborn! Hmm, was that ME or other folks? Probably both! MDR!

Bonne nuit et beaux rêves!

Donna Blanton

Marilyn Whalley

Hi Kristi, our little girl Bertie was neutered 4 weeks ago aged 2. I was all prepared for the cone of shame routine but our vet had a new method, some type of surgical glue covered by a bandage , which was removed after several days. And voila. All done.
Bertie is a Cairn Terrier and very sweet natured. She took it all in her stride, but did lick the wound, which apparently was quite ok. Fancy meeting one of your readers at the vets. Life is full of coincidences. Keep well and safe Mazzie. (Alias ‘Archie’ on Instagram)

Suzanne Ridley

Hi Kristi! Try using a T-Shirt for Rikki. I used one for my poodle after her surgery and it worked really well. Head and front feet through the head and armholds, then up under the belly and on the back twist the shirt up into a knot near the tail and secure with a good wide rubber band. I've not used a "lampshade" for years on our poodles, who in deed have very long noses! Our middle child recently had an emergency hysterectomy and she is a persistent little thing, so try this! Always enjoying your columns!


How do you pronounce LaCiotot.?

Carol in LA

Anna Morris

Dear Kristi,
I have been an avid reader of your blog for about 5 years now but this is the last issue I received. Very worried that something has happened to you, or to a member of your family. Or did I just fall off your subscription list?
Please let me know.
I love the word pictures your paint and your photographs.
Take care,
Cape Town, South Africa

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