Guetter (c) Kristin Espinasse
In Gigondas: watching for intruders... or maybe a new pal or two to play with. Read about another dog in today's story column.

Smart French : learn French from real French people:

guetter (geh-tay) verb
  to watch, to guard
  to watch for, to lie in wait for, to be on the lookout for
  to threaten; to ambush

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As promised, here is the rough-n-tumble translation of "Ma Vie de Chien." The tribute was written by Marie-Françoise Vidal (a.k.a. "Aunt Marie-Françoise"), after her dog, Jaby, made it over "Le Pont de l'Arc-en-ciel".*

                                My Life as a Dog

I domesticated my animal nature : instincts, needs, rhythms, and vital joy -- in order to live in your house.

I listened and learned, ears perked, to your orders and to your intonations. I understood your codes.

I knew how to constrain myself to go gently, so as not to knock over the child, the grandmother and the "petit animal à moustaches."*

From each one of you, I knew how to take or to ask for flattery and play. I loved your company, whether playful or calm.

I was proud of my duty to guard the gate, the front step, and the household, watching for intruders.

And I still had my own secret kingdom out in the garden, or while out on a walk, where I could unleash in nature the original power of my senses.

I entered into this bond with you without fear of submission -- for we gave one another respect.

When next I had to die, it was without knowing sickness or decline. I left dignified and without complaint, all the while understanding your tears.

In our exchanges, I taught you different and specific emotions : that of animalité* : those instinctual codes that you had lost. I offered you another relationship with nature.

For all of this, I am proud, and I know that you will have other dogs so as to continue this partage.*

                                  *     *     *
If you would like to leave a message for Marie-Françoise, in response to her story, you can do so in the comments box below. She would be delighted to hear from you! Also: Read or listen to this story in French (halfway down story column in this post.)


Le Pont de l'Arc-en-ciel = The Rainbow Bridge (fictional place over which animals go after death); le petit animal à moustaches = the little whiskered animal (the cat); l'animalité (f) = animality; le partage (m) = sharing.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Gift Ideas~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A French Alphabet Book of 1814. This charming primer on the alphabet captures the essence of everyday life among the French aristocracy in 1814 in a uniquely detailed series of watercolor drawings made as an alphabet book for a young French aristocrat by his uncle.

12 French Alsace & Guignol Costumed Lollipops

Rick Steves Convertible Carry-On: Easily converts from a smart-looking suitcase to a handy backpack

Listen to French... (In music) Tour de Charme by Patricia Kaas

Durance olive oil hand cream

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