Cairanne, France, roman numeral ancient antique Clock "E Paget et Cie" Morez-du-Jura(c) Kristin Espinasse,
A clock in Cairanne. It is time to put this word journal on automatique—but only for the next three posts. Beginning Wednesday, we will revisit the word-a-day archives—in time for our family to take a mini-break. I am already looking forward to telling you more stories dans un petit semaine.

percer (pehr-say) verb

    to pierce

percer quelque chose à jour = to see right through something
percer ses dents = to cut one's (baby) teeth
percer la foule = to force one's way through a crowd
se faire percer les oreilles = to have one's ears pierced

Verb conjugation: je perce, tu perces, il perce, nous perçons, vous percez, ils percent => past participle

Audio File & Example Sentence: Download Wav or Download MP3

Le vétérinaire a percé l'abcès.
The veterinarian pierced the abscess.

A Day in a French Life...
Kristin Espinasse

Bright and early this Monday morning I found myself barking at an elegant French woman. Talk about out of character... and how we just cannot predict our behavior from one day to the next. Mostly, like a three-ring circus, we surprise and outdo ourselves with each subsequent act, no matter how unrehearsed... There we are, dragged along with the drama of life, kicking and barking -- mouths muttering and ajar.

"ERrrr-uff. ERrrr-uff! Like that," I explained to the veterinarian. Next, I watched expectantly... only the vet just tilted her head.

There she stood, that French woman, in her black high heels and hose with her doctor's frock covering her elegant clothes. Blond locks fell in curls around her shoulders. Her eyes were a sparkle of blue powder and black mascara. Her skin was a-glow with self-control.

After another round or two of barking, I stopped to catch my breath. The veterinarian again tilted her head, this time to the opposite side.

golden retriever puppy, face, months old (c) Kristin Espinasse,
It was then that I realized to what extent our beloved animals transform us. One day we are carefully picking the lint off our shirt—tak tak tak—and the next day we are carelessly covered in puppy fur, having lost track.  We let down appearances... and become real, if only for a splendid instant; thus does our well-kept façade fall off, peel by peel.

There, in an impeccably clean office, I stood barking beside my puppy, who sat sagely on the examining table. "He is so quiet these days", I said, of our chiot.* "Since the attack, he hardly talks at all."

"ER-ruff! ER-ruff! He barks like this at feeding time. ER-ruff! ER-ruff! -- apart from that il est silencieux."*

The véto* stood, head tilted, studying me as a doctor does a troubled patient.

"C'est fini, ses soucis," His worries are over, she assured me. As for the golf-ball size abscess (which appeared just last night!) it was nothing to worry about. The vet pierced the lump and I watched, dumbfoundedly, as it disappeared. She then prescribed another round of antibiotics and assured me not to worry another minute about it. Il va bien, notre Smokey!* she said, lovingly.

I was so relieved that I felt like barking my thanks. Instead, I selected a few carefully chosen words from my well-dressed human vocabulary: Merci beaucoup!

On the way out of the vet's office, I patted Smokey's head appreciatively. I'd get my chance to bark blessed thanks to him... once we were safe, in our sound-proof car -- on the road to recovery again.

*   *   * 

Update: After the vet removed a half-dozen staples last week, she noted that Smokey's face was broken: his cracked cheekbone and brow bone would eventually heal on their own (this meant his face would be less round, slightly fallen on one side). As for his tongue, which has hung out since we found him passed out, post accident, it may stay that way forever: it turns out his jaw was displaced during the attack. I guess all this just gives "our Smokey" more character. He is awfully sweet to look at, crooked or not.

Thank you for your thoughts. All responses to this story are welcome in the comments box.

French Vocabulary
le chiot (m) = puppy; il est silencieux = he is silent; le véto (vétérinaire) = veterinarian; il va bien, notre Smokey = our Smokey is doing well

Pizza herbes

Herbes de Provence (Special for Pizza) in Crock:
Herbes picked in Provence with a blend of oregano, thyme, basil & marjoram

Pre de Provence Lavender Soap. Imported from France: Pré de Provence, literally translated, means "Meadow of Provence." Transport yourself there with this triple milled savon.

Un, Deux, Trois: First French Rhymes:
...a collection of 25 traditional nursery rhymes for children

French Exambusters Study Cards:
Over 1500 questions and answers written by certified teachers and professional translators with a focus on exam preparation. Highlights the essential French grammar and vocabulary you need to know to test well. Prepare for quizzes, tests, AP, PRAXIS II, SAT II, CLEP, and N.Y. Regents Level I-III. Helpful for travelers!


Cairanne, La Petite Jeannette, superette, window shutters (c) Kristin Espinasse,

La Petite Jeannette superette in Cairanne, Vaucluse, France

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So glad to hear the reassuring words from the vet! Yeah! Life leaves scars and dislocations on all of us, whether visible or invisible to the outside world, n'est-ce pas ? Those scars become part of our personality in one way or another. The challenge is always to find the right support and the right attitude to turn them into attributes. I hope you and your family have a WONDERFUL vacation!

Pat Cargill

"il va bien, notre Smokey" - cinq belles paroles...

Happy Vacationing!

Bill in St. Paul

That's good news about (and for) Smokey! I didn't get the email on Friday and was worried that something had happened to Smokey but using the backdoor (the Archives links) I found that all was well.

Have a great vacation, Kristin.


Dear Kristin and family,

Bon vacance!

Thank you again for the update. It is quite amazing how our pets change our behavior. As humans we like to think we are the superior beings and are in charge but any good pet worth its salt we tell you have they rule the world.

Poor little Smokey. I think, however, that he will soon be sitting around sipping wine with his friends and spinning a tale (or tail) about his war wounds and how his moms came to the rescue. He is quite a trooper for coming through all of this and probably had no aspirations to become a model since my guess is he doesn't go in for the new style of platform shoes these days so a bit crooked in the face will be just fine.

Margaret in Durham NC where the autumn color is stunning and the air is pleasantly cool after a few days of Indian Summer.

Karen - Maryland, USA

Thank God Smokey has such a wonderful mother in you, Kristin. Please give him a few friendly "er-ruffs" from me.

How can he drink water with his tongue being out of order?

Alice Halliday

Poor little chap. Once the infection is cleared he will be more bouncy, I hope. A bit like my son who has had an undiagnosed painful bone infection for 14 years (originally told it was juvenile arthritis aged 7 but then osteomyelitis after his requested MRI scan in March). Now post op and 3 months heavy antibiotics he is a 'new' and bouncy 21 year old!
Smokey looks the dearest dog. Ours died 2 years ago when he fell in a swimming pool while staying with my friend. A great character and long remembered and greatly loved by all.

Alice Halliday
Chichester, UK

Diane Scott

Poor little Smokey ... with a broken face, I wouldn't bark either; not even a yip! His rapid recovery is nothing short of miraculous, as was his escape from almost certain death. The little chap just needs a bit more time.

Alice, your story touched me as no other; a mother's suffering on behalf of her child all these years due to a misdiagnosis. What a celebration you all must be experiencing. What blessed relief!


Diane from Tallahassee, Florida, where we are celebrating a gift of cool autumn weather, at last!

Sue Johnpeter

heart rending, Kristin...An extra treat for "our" Smoky today. He deserves it.

Diane Scott

P.S. We just received our case of Rouge-Bleu Mistral. Further cause for celebration! Must now contact French Country Wines in Houston for our Dentelle 2008 and Rose. We will be keeping FedEx busy these next few weeks.


Ryan Breithaupt

Cutest puppy face ever ! XOXO à Smokey + toute la gang. Bonne vacances et reposez-vous bien!
- Ryan


Wow, American lady vets would probably love to dress like that but it would be impossible to keep tidy. I have to give our cat antibiotics twice a day for two weeks-trust me, feeding a dog antibiotics is much easier. Nice to hear that Smokey is on the mend. The tongue and facial thing will just add more character to an already loved pup. I bet Jules will bring him a huge care package when she visit you next time. Seattle-overcast, big rain drops this a.m.


Smokey will be cute no matter what. Our one cat has many scars too (not like Smokey thank God) from the feral cats in the neighborhood. Of course we would not have feral cats if people had enough sense not to put food out to attract them. Aargh! I hope puppy keeps improving and I hope you + family have a great time away.

Bonne vacances!


Jules Greer

Dearest Smokey,

I just heard the final diagnosis (sp) about
the broken face...ugh! I can just see you visiting your Pop "Sailor Sam" down at the boat dock in Marseille - excitely telling him of your first fight trying to protect MOM. Of course he will puff up with pride knowning that the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree.


Great Grandmere JULES in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Patty Beynet

That sweet face of Smokey's says it all. No matter his scars and broken bones, he is and always will be a charmer. Just remember what he went through the next time he chews a shoe or knocks over a vase! I am sure he will get back to his old barking self soon. What a guy!

Patty B


That's the cutest broken face I've ever seen. Kisses, Smokey!


Awww, Smokey is such a cutie pie! I just want to kiss his little face. Hope he heals well, but those little imperfections will definitely give him character! Bisous from Canada!


It is funny how little things affect us. I can certainly understand how seeing your poor little Smokey all tore up must have been terrifying, and then to think he might be just a little crooked in the face for the rest of his little life. The vet I take my furry friends too reminds me often that she would rather examine the pet, because she can't often tell what is wrong with the animal from the sound of its owner!

Here, I cried a minute or two today after a large spruce tree that was in front of my house was cut down and hauled away. It was sick, I knew it, and it was dangerous... but I couldn't help think about the 40 years it had been in the yard and all that it had survived (especially since I am only 36 years old). I am planning to put a new tree in its place come spring, but I shed genuine tears over my tree.

How did we get to be such softies? (And more importantly, how do we stay that way?)


Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
I'm glad Smokey is better. What a cute photo of him.
Enjoy your vacation!


Hope Smokey continues to heal. I've been interested reading about his trials. Poor puppy. Give him lots of pats.

Jules Greer

Dearest James,

It's 6:56 a.m here in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and finally I have my computer up and humming away. My routine is to always sign in through French-Word-A-Day, and then to immediately check to see if there are any new comments to Kristi. As a Mom raising Kristi - I absolutely never looked into her countless diaries as she was growing up - and I must say she was a prolific (sp) writer even at 11 years of age. Now, without sneeking around or guilt I am able to see each morning what kind of kids she is hanging around with. I am happy to find you this morning and I am so touched by your post. You tree brought tears to my eyes, I feel exactly the same way about trees and plants. I loved your question "How did we get to be such softies? (And more importantly, how do we stay that way?) My answer to your question is simple, by hanging around beautiful people here in the comments box. It's people like you who touch my heart and feed my soul. If only all of you knew how much Kristi and I talk about you over the phone, we closely hold your thoughts in our hearts long after you post here on FWAD. I am so happy I have this place to come to each morning while I enjoy my coffee - and check out who my precious little Kristi is hanging out with in her 42nd year.


JULES - Puerto Valarta, Mexico


Great to hear Smokey is getting better and I´m sure his little imperfections will only make him more unique.

Enjoy your mini-break!

Andrea - Austin, TX

ps1. Hola Jules! :)
ps2. I miss Newforest... is she coming back soon? Will you say Hola in my behalf?

Jules Greer

Hi Andrea,

I miss NEWFOREST too !!! Kristi has been very quiet about Newforest, Kristi thinks she is protecting her while she grows stronger each day. I never understood why we haven't been talking about her, but she seems to be the kind of person that draws out our deepest respect and we don't know how to react to her - we want to honor her privacy - so I just wrap my love around her each night before I go to sleep. Kristi will probably want to ring my neck for bringing this up, she doesn't want to start a firestorm of comments that Newforest may feel she must respond to. Well, that's just my thought, I really don't know what Kristi thinks - but being her MOM I think she thinks like me.




I totally understand you and I feel the same.
Let’s honor her privacy and better give her a great welcome back when she decides to, instead of a firestorm of comments while she is not here.
I just really miss her a lot. I’ll be sending my love to her everyday too.

More besitos,
Andrea – Austin, TX

Howard Tepper

Please keep us posted on Smokey's progress and include more photos of him. Thanks.

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