troisième age


hats or chapeaux in Sicily (c) Kristin EspinasseShade in Sicily. More photos of Italy in this weekend's Cinema Vérité.

enflure (on-fler) noun, feminine

: swelling (of cheek, etc)

also enfler (to swell) and enflé = (swollen)

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Notre chien a été piqué par une abeille. Sa "bosse," c'est l'enflure d'une piqûre. Our dog was stung by a bee. His "bump," it is the swelling of a sting.


A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

"Bobbing for Bees in Elizabethan France"


Smokey is doing just fine after Friday's "stitching up" chez la vétérinaire (this following his attack by two dogs last fall. The first surgery, which left him with staples across the neck and the cheek, also left behind one stubborn wound, which would not close).  

If his furry face is swollen, this has more to do with curiosity than with surgery: on Saturday morning our Golden happened upon the honey hive!

Manque de chance! I had just fitted the one-year-old rescapé with one of those plastic head cones or "e-collars,"(e" for "Elizabethan," after the resemblance of the cone to Elizabethan-era fashion). Such space collars are designed to keep a dog from licking its wounds or, worse, from scratching them.

(We won't go into details regarding the farce involved in assembling a deceptively simple e-collar. Bref, it is a wonder more pet owners don't end up wearing them—as one does a straitjacket—for by the time the enigma of all those flaps and all those buckles has been solved, Insanity's onset is apparent in the e-cone assembler.)

Having fitted the cone around Smokey's neck, I stepped outside for some needed air in the garden, where I noticed how quickly our pup adjusted, undertaking normal activities (eating, roughhousing with Mama Braise, adventuring) unhindered by the constrictive cone circling his head.


Satisfied, I turned my back on the dogs and went about a few chores in the flower patch: the belles-de-nuit were ready for seed-harvesting and the cherry tomatoes (propped up with the help of the hollyhock's trunk) had a new crimson crop on offer. I tossed a few tomates cerises into my mouth while discovering the latest developments in the jardin.

My eardrums began to tickle and I turned to have a look at the front gate. Commotion in the periphery of my gaze had my eyes darting over to the wooden beehive, where Smokey had just stuck his head! Next, I saw our dog spring backwards from la ruche! He threw his coned head to and fro, then, on hind legs, he reached his front paws forward and began swatting (in vain...). That is when I understood or "got it": our patient had bees in his bonnet!

I took off running, my own arms flailing and swatting while a high pitch issued from deep inside of me, a mad and murderous menace directed at those bees! All that shaking and shrieking soon sent the swarm to pick on other life forms. As the bees settled on the lavender and the last of the sunflowers, I knelt down to look at Smokey's face, just beyond the not-so-protective cone.  Calm eyes starred back at me.

Stoic Smokey had not so much as yelped for help—not even when the two-legged tornado chasing him and those bees quit spinning—at which point he pushed his nose past the limits of the e-cone and kissed the dizzy woman, recognizing her as his own.


Le Coin Commentaires
Corrections, comments, and stories of your own are most welcome. Thank you for leaving messages in this comments box.

French Vocabulary

chez la (le) vétérinaire = at the veterinarian's
manque de chance! = bad luck
le (la) rescapé = the survivor
bref = in brief
la belle-de-nuit = "lady of the night" flower
la tomate cerise = cherry tomato
le jardin = garden
la ruche = beehive


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Sion @ paris (im)perfect

Smokey has such a good mother in you, Kristin! Bees better watch out. Wow! Hope he heals soon. (Also, I love that photo from Sicily!)

Margaret Dennis

Dear Smokey,

Many of us who have dogs as part of our families have had one or two of them sport an E-Collar. They are never very comfortable nor terribly attractive but your story takes the cake. What a nightmare - bees in the E-Collar. Not a good way to celebrate your birthday but more proof that you are quite a trooper.

For now I suggest you do not smell the roses (or the lavendar in your case!). I hope you heal soon.

Margaret in same old hot & muggy Durham.

Bill in St. Paul

Boy, Smokey, if it's not one thing it's another. You just try to smell the flowers with your e-collar on and those darn bees start attacking you. I think you need to find a quiet place in the shade to relax and heal.

Marika Ujvari

Ktistin - please tell me about the long row of hats!!! What is that all about?


I feel bad for your poor Doggie. Those collars are more a vuisance than help. I could not keep it on my Dog.
Thanks for the french tips. Enjoy what is left of a hot Summer.


I do believe that Smokey has developed the traits of a "noble" dog. Just a stoic. One of my cats was destined to wear THE COLLAR after surgery and she was so angry that if we even glanced at her, she would hiss and growl in fury for the duration of her sentence.

Diane Dainis

Poor Smokey, thank God you were near by. Mommy to the rescue! Hope he feels better soon.:)

Karen W  (Towson, Maryland)

The poor thing is so sweet even the bees can't resist. A bee in your bonnet is never a good thing.

I'm with Marika - I'd love to know the story behind the photo. Is it perhaps taken at the site of a church, where hats are not allowed or maybe the ledge beside a shady park while a game of boules is being played?

(By the way, I love your pool!!!!)


We hope that Smokey heals quickly. But if the wound persists, you might try taking him to an acupuncturist or someone skilled in Traditional chinese Medicine (TCM). TCM is in general well-suited for dealing with chronic conditions, and an acupuncturist might know of herbs or a paste or solution that would speed the healing.


Love the chapeaux! Were they for sale? It's a great and attractive way to display them, whatever the reason. Thanks for sharing the entertaining continuing adventures of Smokey Dokey.


Awww...Sweet Smokey! Poor thing...not only does he have to deal with surgery but also with bees and is stoic through the whole ordeal. He knew you had his back :-)

Sandy in Central Illinois


What a cute story (if a little terrifying for those of us scared of bees!) Mr Smokey has a cameo on my blog today -- he's sure a great French teacher!


What a sweet face and eyes Smokey has. I loved this "Mama Bear" story and the hats, too. You have such a great eye for photos.

Lisa, Montclair, NJ

Smokey, Brave Lad, you are our handsome hero! Purrs from Nike and Maja, and a hug from Lisa.

Marianne Rankin

In the past, we've seen a fairly small mark on Smokey's face from the attack last year. In the final picture today, it looks as though there is a much bigger mark - did it reopen, or what?

Apparently you now have a pool of your own? Or were you somewhere else?

I hope Smokey recovers quickly, and I again am happy that you have such a wonderful place to live.

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
I was going to click the "like" button but I really don't like that Smokey was stung by bees after all he has been through. I can relate though because my husband has turned into a beekeeper and has two hives since April. He told me to just sit on the bench he erected nearby and observe the busy bees. I happened to be wearing L'heure Bleu, which I had wanted to try since reading a previous posting of yours. It seemed to attract the busy ones and I flailed my arms and was stung.


I'm pretty sure you took that picture in Taormina (unless there's somewhere else with just the same steps, wall, and hat display, which I suppose is very likely). If Taormina, did you walk all the way down from the town to the beach or did you wimp out, as I did, and take the funivia?


Sion and friends, thank you for the well wishes!

Marika, Karen, and Carol: glad you asked about the hats! They were for sale there, on the stairs leading down to one of the beaches in the touristy town of Taormina.

Passante: Bravo for the correct guess! And you mean to tell me now there was a lift? A LIFT? We panted our way up those stairs twice!

Daryl, natural therapies are always interesting (we tried clay...) but we had to get Smokey back to the vet's for surgery this time.

Mary, I enjoyed your funny cat story :-)

Marianne, you are right: the wound was much smaller. The vet had to reopen it and file down the piece of pointy cartilege that prevented the wound from closing. Yes, that is our pool. It wasn't such a pretty sight before (the "coque" was unfinished when we moved here, leaving a concrete "plage" all around. Jean-Marc had the idea of putting a wooden deck around it, and suddenly the area is much more inviting!

Eileen, sorry to read about your sting! Perhaps it was the blue in "l'heure bleu"? I have read that bees hate blue - even the though of it makes them testy!

Ann, thank you for the Smokey cameo! Wonderful to see him on your blog.

Thanks again for the kind wishes. I'll keep you posted on Smokey's progress.


Dear Smokey, such a wonderful guy. AND a very curious sort. Btw, Kristen, even though I am very busy this morning, I literally stopped when I saw your email and HAD to read it right then and there. I love your stories of life... thanks.

Joyce Hoover

People are so kind aren't they? I too love Smokey and his family although I missed you all while you were in Sicely/ mispelled/ I am glad you are home and back to normal. Oh yea, Whatever normal is! Joyce Hoover Hampton, VA

Candy in SW KS

Poor little Smokey Dokey! He gets back from the trauma of the vet only to end up with bees in his bonnet! I'm glad he has such a good and nurturing Maman to come to his rescue. Hope all heals well. Looking forward to rain tomorrow here in SW KS. (Rain? what is that anyway? ha!)

janet, in CT

Good luckm, Smokey with all your exploits..take it easy, ok? What does Mama Braise think of you messing with the bees...hope the collar come off, soon.

Abby Lazar

Ooh...pauvre Smokey Dokey- as if his e-cone isn't enough!! He's a real puppy prince who's lucky to have you...and you, him! What a sweetie and so good natured!

I love the way you somehow find a touching story to tell from your many adventures...whether simple, everyday things or unusual happenings. Definitely a big fan of your writing as well as your adventures in storytelling. Thanks so much for sharing your life with all of us...

Bisous to you and your family,

Kate johnson

Even in his e-collar, even stung by bees, Smokey "R." Dokey has the most loving eyes and sweet, soft mouth. What a lucky dog, what a lucky family! Kristin, we thank you for your quirky, life-affirming stories and photos, and for making of your readers a true world community, sharing the small victories, but also the challenges.


Hello Smokey,

As soon as I saw the word “enflure”, and before opening the e-mail, my brain immediately associated: “enflure” / piqûre / abeille / guêpe... (swelling/insect bite/bee/wasp). "Ça y est! Quelqu'un s'est fait piquer!” … (= That's it! Someone got stung!).
Then my eyes caught the funny photo at the top. That was enough to make me forget all about “l'enflure”. I took the time to appreciate the two rows of hats up and down the steps. I played with the zoom (clicked several times on Ctrl+) to examine the hats... I looked again at the full display and couldn't help smiling ... until my eyes jumped suddenly to the second photo, without even reading anything in between.
Oh dear! that cone around your neck!... and just above it, the word BEE! You, ... you got stung by a bee? Oh no! another event to add to your litany of bad luck! How unfair! I know, “ç'est la vie!” … still ...

I tried to spot the swelling on the photos but wasn't quite sure, so, tell me: is “la piqûre d'abeille” on the same cheek as “la cicatrice”? (just a bit further down?) Anyway, I do hope the nasty bee didn't leave her “aiguillon” stuck in your fur- I mean, the skin under your fur...
I guess that, by now, “l'enflure” has reduced and all is well. The experience may be no more than “un mauvais souvenir” but I hope it will teach your instinct not to follow the flying creatures that go “buzzzzzzzzzz” and adore flowers, and to stay away from a beehive in the future... specially if you've got that annoying cone around your neck!

Lucky for you Kristin was just around! By the way, my dear Smokey, do not go and play in the flowerbed with all these pretty “belles de nuit”. Their seeds may look like funny little sweets, but they would give you a pretty serious tummy ache as they are poisonous. OK? No more trouble... and fully enjoy life!
So pleased to see your recent surgery isn't bothering you!


Thanks to the photos, I got the opportunity to see another angle of your tournesols “en chandelier”. What did they call these sunflowers on your packet of seeds???
I love the look of the Morning Glory and thought it was such a good idea to let them climb along the sunflower stems!
By the way, what a gorgeous swimming pool!

As for “les chapeaux”,
Look at the top row,
Go right to left,
You see number six? and number twelve?
I'd love to try them on!

Suzanne, Monroe Township, NJ

Ah, the E-collar. Try putting one on a cat! My favorite part is when said cat or dog bangs the collar against a door jamb. It's enough to make you relent and take it off.

Poor Smokey. We keep Benedryl on hand for just such encounters with bees and wasps. He such a survivor.


Smokey, Smokey. Something tells me this won't be the last time you manage to get into some kind of fix. You see, I had a dog just like you. Abby was into some kind of trouble every few months for the first couple of years. At 5 months she broke some toes and had a cast for 8 weeks (actually 2 as she completely scuffed out one.). There was the bee sting, the bitten tongue(my do they bleed), the little stick wedged in her mouth, carsick (throwing up on me at a stop light so I hit the car in front.) And that was just the 1st year.
I think you are a smart dog and understand bees now, so that is out of the way. I am sure your mamam will make sure your cheek heals well. Just remember not to smell the roses!


I've been reading your French Word-a-Day forever, but this is my first comment. As a dog-lover, I've had to use the e-collar (my husband calls it 'the party hat' since it looks like a lampshade!) more than once, hating doing so everytime. I recently discovered an alternative, called The Comfy Cone. It is sold by In The Company of Dogs ( and perhaps others.
I haven't purchased one yet, but it looks like it would be a lot easier to use and more humane than the hard plastic version.

I really enjoy your writings and photos, especially those about Blaise et Smokey R Dokey!


Abby, Kate, et ami(e)s, thanks again for your encouraging feedback!

Newforest, really appreciate today's expressions! (and the hat choices too :-) Re the seed packet, I did not pay attention, but prefer tournesols en chandelier if given the choice.

Suzanne, oh those door jams! Smokey bumps into everything! That said, he has not complained once (initially, he pawed at the foreign object around his head... and that was it!)

Rosemarie, so good to see your comment and thanks for the link! So far, so good -- no need to change e-cones!

Elissa Patrick

Oh Smokey, what a true little boy you are! There is never a dull moment with you, and as always the angels above watch over you, and alert your "human-mom"! As you've grown into the dog you are today you have had more "human-mom's" out there in the world than you can ever imagine, in our hearts you have grown, and become a small part of all of us, we love you, but please Smokey, take it easy for a little while. Only cats have 9 lives!



The hats are fabulous. I love the shot. Than seeing poor Smokey with the surgery, collar and bees was so sad. C'est domage.
Two of my cats had to wear the E collar and they do not tolerate them as well as dogs. They struggle with it constantly and then watching them eat and drink is so sad as they struggle to get to the food and water. They constantly bumped into doorways and furniture but eventually they learned. It was so difficult to watch them. I was lucky that the vet put on the collars for me. I had to bring my cat back to the vet with the collar on and tried to put him in his carrier and he wouldn't fit, so I tried a pillow case, which vets recommend and that didn't work. Next was wrapping him in a towel and needless to say that also did not work. Driving in a car with a cat wandering around is dangerous. He wandered from the seat to my lap to the driver side floor and all around.
So know that it has to be difficult for Smokey also, although dogs seem to deal with things better than cats.


I always thought those e-collars (didn't know the name before) looked rather like lampshades, adding to the absurdity of the look.

But Smokey seems to be taking it like the trooper he is. Bravo, Smokey!

Herm Meyer in Phoenix, AZ

Salut Kristin,

I’ve had two “funnel-head” dogs and you were wise to avoid the discussion on putting the collars in place. Putting one of those e-collars on an uncooperative patient can put you to the test of your religious background and have you calling on the “Almighty” for guidance.

Catherine Burnett

"It's all fun and games until somebody ends up in a cone."

Poor brave Smokey! Please give him lots of hugs and belly rubs from all his FWAD friends!

(Have to agree with Rosemarie about the soft e-collar--I bought one at a dog event "just in case" and have used it several times when our pups needed an e-collar but also needed to maintain their dignity!)

Christine Slater

Dear Smokey,
We know why the honey bees were after you - inside the e-cone your blonde head looks like a big sweet flower. Many thanks to your Mom for updating us on your adventures.
We laughed so hard at this one we cried.

Ted & Christine

Patricia Flournoy

Poor dear Smokey,what an inquisitive puppy..
I love reading about your "adventures" but I have the feeling they are more enjoyable for me than they are for you! Please take care...Kristin I believe you will be the Richard Avendon of the 21st century...Your photos are wonderful! Thank you, thank you


Wow!! A lot of comments on todays story. I have to tell you that I really enjoyed the way you told the story and especially the descriptions you used. I have been away for awhile and am anxious to catch up with your other postings and see the Sicily pictures.


I originally saw this on my email and now I have looked at the website with the pictures. I love the row of hats, how artistic and clever. It makes something ordinary fascinating. I wonder where they lead. I also love the picture of Braze and what looks to be morning glories. I am continuing to read the rest of what I have missed.


Hi Kristin. There isn't a lift for the steps you photographed, but the funivia takes you from just above the bus terminal down to the street along the coast, cutting out a lot of foot-slogging.

Linda C.

Smokey, you are so brave. I'm agape in total admiration. Heal quickly now. Love, Linda C.

Pat Cargill

Smokey B. Dokey, heal quickly and swiftly and faster than a flash and remember all your fans (Smokey/Braise Fan Club International) are pulling for you and glad you have made this final (yes!) step toward total recovery after the Bad Incident. You are so beautiful. I hope I get to meet you et famille someday. Wishing you many of your favorite treats! Greetings from Maxine who has had a sting or two herself!

Julie Dufaj

Read your book and enjoyed it so much! Your readers love to learn biographical bits about you. Give us more whenever you can.

Aurélie Beaumont

Merci pour votre histoire. J'adore les chiens. Connaissez-vous un vétérinaire à Montréal?

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