comment faire

une morsure

Antique shop front in Salernes (c) Kristin Espinasse

A butter and cheese shop in the village of Salernes. Would this be a good photo for a book cover? If so, what might the book title be? Leave your answer here, in the comments box.

Chief Grape's USA wine tour will have him in the Washington DC area on 03/10, 03/11 and 03/12 and in Madison WI on 03/14. Click here to see all the cities Chief Grape will be visiting


une morsure (mor-sewr)

    : bite

une morsure d'araignée, de serpent  = spider bite,  snake bite
une morsure de chien = dog bite 
morsure du vent, du froid = biting wind, frost

Audio File: (Oh, man, here we go again. Not a Francophone in the house to record today's example sentence. I'll give it my best... but listen at your own péril! Update: I tried, but could not do it! My American accent drowned out the French words! Waiting for Max to return from driver's school. He have to do the recording this time!)

Example Sentence:
Une morsure est une blessure faite par la bouche d'un animal, incluant les humains.
A bite is a wound made by the mouth of an animal, including humans. --Wikipedia

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

Un Mystère

Smokey made it  home first. Shivering and wet, he hopped from paw to paw until I took the hint and brought him a big bowl of croquettes.  After the two day escapade, he was affamé!

Braise arrived next. Only, as she bounded up to the back porch I noticed her head was covered in blood. Given her energetic arrival, I did not panic, but carefully parted her fur, looking for the wound.  

In addition to the tear along her ear (which must have flopped over onto her head, soaking it in sang), there were four gaping holes in her side! 

"C'est curieux," the vet commented, after we arrived at the clinic. "Normally, if this were une morsure the wound would not be so clear cut...."

I studied at the punctures in Braise's side, and wondered what--or who--could have gotten to her? My stomach weakened at the thought: Could a human have done this?

Impossible! No, she must have run into something sharp. A set of fire-stokers, par hasard? A barbed-wire fence? No, the hooked metal would have pulled at the skin. These wounds were too neat, like holes made by a tiny cookie cutter. 

The mystery was troubling, and I watched, in a state of half-attention, as the vet took care of Braise.

When the vet pushed an aiguille into Braise's front leg, I saw the patient's furry jambes slide out from beneath her until she was lying like a mop, completely anesthetized.

The petit doctor picked up our 30 kilo dog who, when lifted, all but eclipsed the vet in size. "Puis-je vous aider?" I reached for Braise's legs, but it was too late, the vet heaved her up onto the operating table. "J'ai l'habitude," she explained.
Standing beside the table, I caressed our dog. Reaching over to lift her paupières, I saw only the whites of Braise's eyes, which had rolled back. I wondered if she could sense my presence and if it comforted her?

"Vous n'êtes pas obligée de rester," the vet said. I looked over at her hands which were wet with blood. My eyes blurred at the sight of needle, thread, and dog ear.

"Oh... ça va. Je reste." It occurred to me that my presence might be a distraction, but it seemed too late to back out now. Braise had just heaved a gentle sigh. Maybe she wasn't so far away after all... perhaps close enough to be comforted?

With one hand on our dog, I gripped the table with the other. It was only a precaution... in case this new-found nonchalance dissolved into waves of queasiness... and landed me on the floor, supine as our canine! 

When the 45-minute operation was over (I lasted 10 minutes, only to end up chatting with a testy boxer dog in the waiting room), the doctor wrapped Braise's fury torso in one great bandage. 

I couldn't help wondering about those wounds, but the vet put my thoughts to rest by concentrating on the positive: "Braise was lucky. The attack could have been at a more critical place--like the throat."

(Oh, the thought of it!) 

"By the way, what about the other dog?" The vet inquired.

"Oh... Smokey... he is fine. I just hope he tried to help his mother during the attack!"

The vet studied Braise, thoughtfully. "Or maybe it was the mother who was defending the son?"

Of course! Chances are it was Braise who was looking out for Smokey. It wouldn't be the first time she saved his life.


French Vocabulary

une croquette = kibble (dry dog or cat food)

affamé = starving

le sang = blood (learn the expression "bon sang" + a dashing photo of Jean-Marc)

c'est curieux = that's strange

une morsure = bite

 par hasard = by coincidence

une aiguille = needle (learn a ton of "needle" or "aiguille" expressions, here!)

une jambe = leg

puis-je vous aider? = can I help you?

j'ai l'habitude = I'm used to it

une paupière = eyelid

vous n'êtes pas obligée de rester = you aren't expected to stay 

ça va. Je reste = it's okay. I'll stay



           "Mother Love". Photo of Braise and Smokey, taken two years ago. 

Le Coin Commentaires

To respond to this story, or to leave a comment about an item in this edition, please click here.

 golden retriever and French antiques keys

The next day I took Braise's son Smokey to the vet's... 

For the record, trying to keep a dog occupied in the doctor's (vet's) waiting room, is just as challenging as trying to keep a couple of toddlers occupied in the doctor's waiting room. The kids are grown up now, but I have a feeling that Smokey will never lose his need for one's full attention. And seriously, Smokey, how many times can one play Pat-a-cake? (Pardon me, I meant Paw-a-cake.)

Here's a French version of the game, one that Smokey particularly likes to play (keeps him busy during entire waiting room visits).


(sorry, the video is a bit dark. I found it on YouTube.)

Lyrics in French/English: Tape Tape, Petites Mains

Tape tape petites mains
Clap, clap little hands

tourne tourne joli moulin
turn, turn, pretty mill

nage nage gentil poisson
swim, swim, nice fish
vole vole papillon
fly, fly butterfly

Youpi! (Oui!)


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Katie Dyer

So glad that Smoky and Braise are home relatively safely. Jean Marc told us the story yesterday while we were sampling the Dentelles and Mistral. What a pleasure to see him again and to have another case of wine delivered.

gail bingenheimer

Le title du livre: Je ne sais plus où l'on va.
The title of the book: I no longer know where we are going.

Bill in St. Paul

Hmm, the bites weren't pellet holes from a shotgun, were they? Hope Braise recovers quickly, I think Smokey needs a mother looking after him. For Kip, in Western Massachusetts (visiting grandchildren and their parents), yesterday it was 70! Today, cooler, high of 45.


Ravages of time


France and the End of Empire: 1534-1980, Volume I


Rocco, Bobby and Co send their best regards to Braise and hope that she avoids having to wear what the film Up describes as the 'Cone of Shame'.

Bill in NYC

puisse-je vous aider? = can I help you?

Wouldn't the indicative be more likely than the subjunctive?

puis-je vous aider? Est.ce que je peux vous aider?

eileen wiley

hommage de fromage!

Deborah Carter - Melbourne Australia

Lavender,cheese & the Mistral breeze...
- Intime Provence

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Bill in NYC. On my way to fix the mistake.

Bill in St. Paul: Yikes! I hadnt thought of bullet wounds! A few of the holes were kidney-shaped. They were about the size of a coin (quarter-size).

Gus (aka The Dog Wrangler--so as not to be confused with Gus in Florida :-) -- Gus, I checked out your latest posts and love the dogs photos! Also, I was so surprised and happy to see your post about this blog & book. Thank you very much!

Katie, Thank you for buying all those bottles! Sorry to miss seeing you this time.

Thank you for the interesting book titles. Keep them coming!

Julie F in St. Louis, MO

You know me - I'd make it the cover of a photo book on the doors of France.

My heart was in my throat while reading Braise's story today. Still no idea what caused it? Your Braise is is such a good mom, I'm sure she got between Smokey and whatever danger they faced. Perhaps you should let your neighbors know what happen so they can keep their eyes open to any strange creatures in the countryside. I wondered about pellet guns, too, but the ripped ear doesn't fit.

Kristin Espinasse

Julie F., you would make a good detective--I hadnt thought about the ear and the difference in wound types. OK. Pellet guns are out....

Marshall Morton

It's All In How You Mix It!




Kristin....would love to see a video of you & Smokey playing "Tape Tape Petits Mains/Paws"


Vachement bon!


OH, so sorry to hear about Braise. Could something with horns or tusks have gored her? What a worry dogs can be!

Kristin Espinasse

Mom, you are so smart! Those puncture wounds looked like sharp tusk-edges! Is that the word tusk? Do sangliers have them? 

Rick Martorano

How about Shuttered Butter? Hello from Mesa, Arizona! Love your blog Kristin and am enjoying Blossoming in Provence. Since I found out about your site I've shared it with fellow ASU staffers who have a connection with your time here as well as your French class! Thanks so much for sharing!

Tonya in Arkansas

My heart beat faster as I read about the attack.. OMG..horrible. It sounds as if someone shot Braise when she jumped in to help Smokey! Thank God they are OK..

"Passage to Delicious!" for the book, (however, I'd add some bright, pink flowers by the door somehow.)

mhwebb in NM, USA

I'm sorry, but I think you have more enticing photos.

So sorry to hear about Braise and Smokey. I am glad they survived. Jules may be on to something. Have you thought about a book centering on the adventures of your dogs in France?

Blessings, Mary

Cassie Alexandrou

Smokey and Braise are so precious. I am a dog lover, and your story tore at my heartstrings. My dog passed away almost two years ago. He was such a sweet, loyal, and wonderful friend. Not a day goes by that I don't miss him! I will be holding good thoughts for your sweet pups.

Lisa Kennedy (with help from Nike and Maja)

Sending best get well wishes to dear Braise. Purrs and hugs to Smokey!

Sharon - Montague, Michigan

So sorry to hear about your furry angels misadventure. All the best for a quick healing. A book title for Beurres et Frommages: Essenstials of Life.

Karen from Phoenix

So glad to hear Braise and Smokey are okay.

Sunny here in Phoenix, AZ



A title for the book could be: Life's Melts and Mixes(like beurres et frommages).

Patty in Washington, DC

Hi Kristin,
Glad the dogs are healing up. Hunter - our Brittany (who thinks she owns our house) sends her best bark and yodel to say get well soon.

I like the photo. How about "Unlocking the Best of France" - Or "When one French door is closed another French window is open" (hope these are too cheesy ;)

Hope to sample Rose this weekend!

Shobha Varthaman

" Melt n Moult"


I could not read this fast enough, so full of worry about Braise..If it was a pellet gun, couldn't the pellet have grazed the edge of her ear flap and caused the tear? I'm with the others, ask your neighbors if they know of any incidents with pellet guns or wild animals.


Book title - France: On va manger!


Those sangliers are vicious if crossed. Your doggies are such playful creatures Perhaps they came across a sanglier and saw a potential playmate. I'm going with your Mom on this one. Beware of cranky sangliers. Glad Braise is on the mend. Now, sit down, take a breath and try to relax. Oh and a nice glass of wine will help too.

Andrea Robinson

So glad to hear both the pups are going to be ok! I love the photos you post of the dogs...I share them with my daughter who also loves her dogs!

Gwyn Ganjeau

Book title: "Spread Too Thin: Confessions of a Dairy Queen." I have no idea what it's about--but i think i'd buy it.

Candy in CO

Oh, les pauvres bebes! And poor you feeling so helpless with your furry children! I'm glad Braise is on the mend and I'm sure in your loving hands she will recover quickly. Hugs to all of you from a very beautiful spring morning in the Rocky Mountains. There's no place like home! (I'm sure that's what Smokey and Braise are saying!)

Herm in Phoenix, AZ

I have to go along with Jules’ Javelina theory.

They are called Javelina because of their razor-sharp tusks, Spanish for javelin or spear.

They usually travel in bands and are not dangerous when left alone but an entire band can attack if one is wounded or pursued. They are fast and quite agile and have been known to drive off Coyotes and Bobcats.

I’m glad they home and recuperating

À bientôt

Robert McGowan

Oui, si le livre est au subject des beurres and des fromages.

Nikki Cohn Tureen

Kristen, my heart went out to you, right now a single parent/grandparent to those sweet pups. I know there's no fence but just wish there were a way to keep those adventurous souls safer! Sending healing wishes to you all.

As for a book title...Why The French Drink Red Wine...especially Côtés du Rhône rouge!


What might the book title be? "Welcome to Just Butter and Cheese"


My heart went out to you, as well! So glad the animals are on the mend.

I love your photos. All I could think of was the word, Mange, when I saw the butter and cheese. I'll have to get more creative.

Do you know the book: POP by Sam Horn? (forgive my punctuation. one shouldn't write until one is fully awake?)

Btw, it's sunny and 60 something in Redondo Beach today.


C'est les petites choses!

Kathleen from Connecticut

Les sangliers are very nasty animals and they could have easily done that to Braise. Who was protecting whom? Is she wearing a plastic collar? Hope that she is better soon.

La Crème à la crème. Don't ask, it just slipped into my mind. Bad, I know.

Kristin Espinasse

Mary, so far no plans for a dog book... will keep it on my wish list!

Kathleen, I do have some of those collars (from Smokeys accident). So far Braise has not needed one. (No scratching)

Christine Dashper

So sorry to hear about Braise Kristin. Sending thoughts for a speedy recovery.


Book title: "Butters and cheeses (no, that sounds wrong...)" For me - also an Anglophone living in a Francophone country (Swiss Romand)- that about sums up the language thing, along with the butter and the cheese!


Our dear Kristin,
So glad that your four pawed family members are safe and wrapped in the warmth of your loving home!
We only wish that they could talk and tell us where they've been,what happened and what's wrong!
I think of St Francis,preaching to the birds,and know that God looks out for our animals,too.
Another wonderful post to touch our hearts.
Thank you!!! XO

Pat, Roanoke, VA

Warm thoughts and get well wishes to Braise and Smokey. Wishing you a quiet reative weekend!


French Cooking from the Heart

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
I'm sorry about the dogs and hope Braise is better! I love the cute song. The baby sure was having fun!


Titre du livre: "On doit cadenasser les beurres et les fromages après vous partagez votre repas avec les chiens!"

Joanne Silverman

A title for a book about the frustrated health conscious:
"Oh, What the Hell".

Julie Dufaj

Un avant-goût pour meurtre.

That should mean "A Taste for Murder." Guess my taste in Ruth Rendell and P.D. James murder mysteries is showing.

Julie Dufaj

P.S. The mystery would be set in Provence, of course.


Merci pour l'histoire et video! Je suis très heureuse que les chiens vont bien. J'ai une chienne qui était presque tué par un autre chien. Mais maintenant, c'est moi qui est traumatisé!



Lisa Fleur di Lis

Soft sweet kisses - butter and cheese, mais oui!

Baisers doucement doux de beurre et de fromage


Book title:
Decadent Eats from the French Countryside

Madelynne Andrews

The forgetten Life


"Melting Moments"

Martine NYC

"La Vie en Beurre."


Pauvre Braise! Quel soulagement qu'elle n'était pas mordue au cou! I hope she's now doing well. Kristin, I love your writing style. You describe any situation well. Here, you kept me in suspense until the last line.
La vidéo "Tape, tape, petites mains" ne marche plus?


The Hidden Treasures of Provence


Oh Kristin--
(My daughter's name too...)
Relieved to hear that the pup is on the mend and surely defended by Mom. I agree with possible wild boars in the countryside could have encountered the dogs. Think more
about bringing those dogs into print. We would love to hear more about your life and theirs too! Cheers!

Robyn France

OMG--such excitement with Braise--forget a cat having 9 lives, Braise seems to be on the protected path too. So glad all turned out ok.

Kristin, I have a book called Entrez--Signs of France which features many old doors with signs (photos by Steven Rothfeld)--yours would have been a perfect cover (it opens in the middle as if opening double doors. I do think your photo would be a great cover for your book. Wonderful combination of frilled letters with worn wood and paint. Which village is it in?

mary paulson

Kristin, so glad your pooches made it home. I have 2 myself. I would venture to say Momma was protecting her young. Beautiful dogs.
Once again I came to your blog and was held in suspense til your words were complete. Thanks for sharing the best, the sad and reality of life.You write it so well Kristin.

Suzanne Codi, Washington, DC

Why do these things always happen when our husbands are away????
Sooo relieved they came back, can't imagine how worried you must have been! Wonder what bit poor Braise, the good mama?
Glad it wasn't a snake or worse...Ever consider getting one of those invisible fences? You don't have to have them on all the time, and the dogs could run around free, but with limits, like within earshot of your voice calling them. Sounds crazy in a wonderful setting such as yours, but it might relieve some of your anxiety and they would be safer from predators...just an idea.
My book title is : Traditional French Cheese Recipes


How frightening for the pups and you, too. Tears here from this animal lover.

Eleonore Miller

The Mysterious Kase of Arterial Occlusion Collusion

joie/carmel-by-the-sea, ca.

I have to agree with Jules also. You said before that you have had trouble with them in the vineyard. Can you think of any other "wild animal" in your area that would do that.
I like the photo, but for a book cover it needs a spot of a box of flowers somewhere....just my thought.

Catherine Burnett

When I began to read your account, I thought this was an old story--the one when Smokey first was injured. But then I realized that this was a new/horrible/scary adventure for Braise and Smokey-Dokey. Pauvres chiens!!!

My heart is breaking for both of your puppies. Give them lots of loving and attention, and please give them belly rubs and nose kisses from their biggest friend in Virginia.

xo, Catherine Burnett

Erin Thruston

Oh, poor babies! I sure hope Braise makes a speedy and full recovery! That photo of the two of them is so sweet. I can tell it was after Smokey's accident, as his cute little tongue is hanging out. He looks so content lying next to his mom.

Kristin....I've been away from the website for a while...BIG change in my life that has been keeping me very busy, but I wanted to say that I have peeked in from time to time and I saw the medical issue you have been dealing with. You are in my thoughts and prayers, as are the two furry babies. I just want to give you all a big squeeze!

All the best,

Erin (formerly in Atlanta) now in The Bahamas

Marianne Rankin

Kristin, re the audio file, I think you meant to write "francophones" and not "francophiles" - we are all Francophiles, whether we are native speakers or not.

I agree with a couple of people who believe a more colorful cover is appropriate. I personally gravitate to attractive covers on books. The photo on today's post could maybe be on the back of the book. Alternatively, if you have a section in the book about food, including one or more stories about butter or cheese, the photo would be an appropriate one to "open" it - via the doors.

As for the title, I think it's better selected after one determines what the content will be. And I'd love to see French-Word-A Day 2, 3, etc.

I wish Braise and Smokey a speedy, complete recovery. Maybe they can be allowed to roam more when someone can go with them?


"C'est Yum" ! From another land of cheese and butter.....New Zealand


It was a pleasure meeting Jean-Marc at his wine-tasting in Washington, DC after reading about him for so long. Sampling his rosé transported me back to Provence.

I hope your brave Braise is recovering well. A mother's love and protection remain strong no matter how old the child has become.

Carolyn  Dahm,  Sharon, MA

I was so upset to hear about Braise and Smokey. Thank God they are okay. I hope you figure out what was responsible so you can put to rest the notion that some terrible human could have done it. The tusk ideas sounds like a possibility. You should mention it to a wildlife expert and maybe they would know if the vet doesn't. I pray they don't wander off again anytime soon. Please tell them we love them and we worry. I'm sure they'll listen with an open heart and mind :)
Paul and I were unable to make it to Jean Marc's tasting in Boston. I hope it went well and that other readers enjoyed themselves for us.
I hope his visits are a huge success!


How about "Portes of Call"? You have an uncanny ability to find interesting doors and windows that call out to you and inspire musings, as well as your muses. Bonne chance!

Nancy in Indiana, USA

Title: Le passé au présent

Deborah Auclair

Title for the book...Non Pasteurisé


I do hope that Braise is doing well! I can attest to the fact that keeping a dog occupied in the vet waiting room is so difficult. That picture of Braise and Smokey is precious!

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