Une embuche: Obstacle, pitfall, difficulty in French + My Writing Process, deadlines, and How to finish a post
Un feuilleton: French for soap opera + recipe for Pumpkin-Ginger soup

Une sequelle: The aftermath or scars after an accident

Smokey (c) Kristin Espinasse
One of the "séquelles" that remain after the two-dog attack on Smokey (years ago!) is that hanging tongue. Read about another, in today's story. 

une séquelle (say-kel)

    :  aftereffect, aftermath scar, legacy

Une séquelle est une lésion qui persiste après la guérison d'une maladie ou blessure. Mot également utilisé lorsque l'on parle d'une conséquence plus ou moins lointaine qui est le contrecoup d'un évènement, d'une situation. A séquelle is a lesion that persists after the healing of an illness or injury. The word is equally used when talking about a consequence, more or less distant, that is the aftershock of an event or situation.

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

Dog Therapy

In the parking lot not far from the sea, the sky is barely visible beyond a canopy of parasol pines. The tall thin trees slant permanently and I sometimes wonder if it is the aftereffect of the wind, forever blowing on them?

"Look, Smokey, there's a friend!" I say, when we encounter the first hikers on our 20-minute parcours. Only, as our parties pass each other I notice the impersonal looks on the hikers' faces. As their black Labrador pauses to sniff Smokey, I smile at the different members of the group, but each set of eyes is glued to the path.

I tug on Smokey's leash, careful not to delay the hikers. "Maybe they've got other things on their mind," I explain to Smokey.  You know how it is on a hike, some people are quick to offer a cheery hello, while others are lost in thought—and still others have invisible signs marked "Do Not Disturb!" 

Farther along the sentier, we spy a trio of women. A little white dog is trotting alongside the ladies, who are already waving their hands and puckering their lips, in one warm extended greeting.

"Isn't he nice!" the women remark,  as they bend down to pet Smokey. Their encouraging words are touching. 

"It is wonderful therapy," I admit, telling the women a little about Smokey, who benefits so much from these friendly encounters. As I talk, I feel myself relaxing.

"What is her name?" I ask, smiling at the little dog with the long white hair.

"Etoile." The three women have that gentle confidence that comes from being a veteran aunt or sister or friend or caring co-worker. I feel their affection. With a spring in our step, Smokey and I walk on.  Au revoir, we say goodbye to "Star" and her twinkling entourage.

Next, we pass a bulldog who hops along, all but dragging his stomach with him. Walking alongside the wobbling gourmand a young couple is lost in a bubble of love. The lovers wake briefly when the bulldog and the golden retriever exchange growling menaces. Yanking our respective leashes, the couple and I take a moment to exchange a friendly "no worries" greeting.

For the rest of our journey it is people-only encounters and I notice how some hikers can't resist reaching out to caress Smokey while others keep to themselves. Occasionally I notice a look of distaste, and I remember to pull out my tissue and wipe my dog's slobbering face. He can't help it, all that frothing at the mouth is just one of the séquelles of the attack he endured as a puppy. 

Heading down the hill toward our car, I see a couple walking toward us. I quickly reach for the tissue and clean up my dog. Noticing some of the slobber is dripping down my pant leg, and another bit is dangling from the cuff of my sleeve I quickly brush the two together. Beurk!

"Il est magnifique," the woman with the red hair cheers and her partner, who reaches to pat Smokey on the head, assures me this is so.

I hear the woman repeat her words, adding a few more for good measure, "Il est magnifique, comme sa maitresse!"

The extra generous words take me by surprise and I can't help but be moved by the manner in which strangers reach out to one another. I have to wonder, Why us

As the strangers walk off, I bend down to examine Smokey's crooked face, as I caress his golden chest. It is easy to see why he is so loved.  And suddenly, I feel a little lucky about how, once again, some of that love has rubbed off on me. It's another of those gifts that our animals bring us: connection with the world out there.

To comment, click here. I'd love to read your thoughts about your animals. How does your cat or dog or... behave with other animals? Has your pet ever led you to a friendship? Healed you of a wound, internal or external? Click here to leave a comment or to read one.   

* To read about Smokey's attack, click here.

Dog Therapy (c) Kristin Espinasse
Have you read A Dog's Life by Peter Mayle? Click here to read the reviews.

French Vocab

parcours = training course (for walking, jogging...)

le sentier = path

une étoile = star

au revoir = goodbye

une séquelle = scar, aftermath

beurk = yuck, gross
Il est magnifique = he is magnificent

comme sa maîtresse = like his mistress 


An unusual place to write a story about quitting wine, but when my dear cousin-in-law gave me the poster, I couldn't help but smile to myself. Book update (and thanks for asking me to check in! I began chapter 2 on Friday and will continue this evening. When "blocking" the book in my head, various scenes, so vibrant and memorable, floated naturally to the surface of my mind. If each of these scenes is a chapter, this means the book will go forwards and backwards in time (i.e. the Prologue begin in 2013, while Chapter 1 unfolds in 2002. Chapter 2 opens up in 1994, just before our wedding...) My question to you now: Do you find it bothersome to read a book that goes backwards and forwards in time?

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

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


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Eileen - Charlottesville, VA

Bonjour Kristin,
I can't tell you how much I love this post. This is so beautiful and brought tears to my eyes!


No! In one word. Backwards and forwards creates a lovely ping-pong insight into the story, should I say herstory instead of history?

Linda Casey

Oh my goodness Kristin .. let me just COUNT the ways in which animals have affected my life. I can't live without them. I adore them, don't eat them and don't wear them either. You're right .. a dog's love for us is immeasurable. Give ol' slobber-face a kiss on the nose from his Auntie Linda will you?


No, back and forth in time is fine, but I can tell you (from my years of teaching literature and editing manuscripts) that it's far from the easiest narrative style to control. The transitions are all-important. Good for you, for not taking the easiest route -- but then that's what the book is all about too!


Love the back and forth style. It seems much more natural when writing a memoir. Fragments of memories floating. Lives are not linear and memories need to surface when they appear. Good luck with your opus magus.


Kristen, you write so beautifully. Taking an everyday event such as walking your beloved dog, and making it into a moving story to which we all can relate, is a special gift. The affect people have on us, the way kindness or just plain friendliness can lift our spirits, is something we experience daily.


When you asked that, it reminded me of talking about The Time Traveller's Wife. I loved it loved it. But some people I spoke to didn't, and for the very reason you said. So, I think the answer is, as most things are, each to their own. I'm sure the reason for writing it so, will keep it flowing. Bon courage. x


So moving and so well-written...
Thank you so much for sharing.


Hi again from Ellen in France: The back-and-forth is natural for autobiographical writing. It flows from "Here I am now" and next "How did I get here." And remember that this particular "Real Autobiographical Novel" will not always be read only by the people who already read your blog and feel that they sort of "know you", so it is important to fill in the background for everyone -- it can be in the guise of musing on your own memories as you confront new experiences, etc. etc. Then, finally the writing will begin taking a strong and natural "chronological" direction, and the back-and-forth will disappear.


Hate back and forth. Unless it's a masterpiece like Catch 22.


I have met more people because of our golden, Crosby, than I ever met with each baby in a stroller. AND, I've wanted to pet every single dog I've ever encountered, while I can't say the same about every human I've happened upon. I don't really trust people who've never had a pet. They seem to have a different agenda than our family. Dogs, cats, birds... we love 'em all.

Our first golden hung by my side through a summer's illness in 2006. Our second golden, who was born the day our first one died, helped us get over his death at age 13. And all our 7 cats down through the years... what can I say. They taught our sons to love animals, and they are now big, strapping 30-somethings with cats on their laps.

ann ceraldi

I, too, loved this story! Animals have always been a very central part of my life. As an infant, my mother tells me that her Siamese cat would sleep in my crib. I don't have any memory of this, but I like to think that it conditioned me to empathize with animals. Each of my four children also had a cat--or three--that liked to snuggle up with them as babies. And since all of my children love cats, maybe there is something to my theory that this early contact conditions children to connect with animals!
As a child, I always felt more comfortable with animals than with people. As an adult, I have never been without an entourage of pets. (to my husband's dismay) At the moment I have 11 cats, 4 dogs, 22 chickens, 3 ducks, 1 guinea, 2 lizards, 1 parrot, 5 horses, and 2 donkeys. Most of these are rescues. Sometimes we also have wildlife recovering from various injurious or problems such as baby songbirds or opossums. And yes, I live on a farm.
I do believe that animals can help heal mental or physical traumas. There is something so soothing about stroking an animal. They will love you unconditionally and forever. If that doesn't make a person feel at least a little better, what will?
I like the back and forth style of your writing. I think it makes it more interesting--a touch of unpredictability. I look forward to reading the entire book!


Yes, I think it is disjuctive to go back & forth. But nothing wrong with writing it that way if it comes to you in that manner. You can rearrange and transition it later.

Cheers! Charlie

Bob Dinwoodie

The back and forth style is fine . The burning question for your readers is who is going to play you and family in the film !! I agree about the dog breaking the ice . Whenever I hear " how cute " I respond " and so's the dog "


Make sure as you venture on your journey of discovery with your new book that as your zapping yourself with your life,s mistakes that you also nurture yourself too.Sounds like one of the many ways you might do this is time with Smokey,for he loves you unconditionally.

Georgane Sullivan

I enjoy a story that goes back and forth in time as long as the time period is indicated clearly, maybe in the chapter headings. Also make sure characters mentioned are also clearly defined in their period and setting.


Je veux que lire cette article en francais avant de je le lire en anglais. J'apprendre francais and je veux practice. Puis-je le voir en francais? Merci beaucoup.

Bill in St. Paul

As Georgane said, a story that goes back and forth in time is fun to read as long as the reader knows where in time we are. After our dear Golden Theo went to his reward, we got a cat (I know, I know, dog people aren't usually cat people or the reverse), but Julius was a very nice cat. However, he was very territorial with his house when it came to taking care of other animals. When my sister-in-law brought over their Golden Billy for us to take care of for a week, Julius went and sat on Billy's bed and looked at him as if to say "...and where are you (Billy) going to sleep?" Poor Billy just laid down on the carpet in front of his occupied bed!


Oui, vous etes magnifique, Kristen et Smokey. I love dogs, walks, nature and happy dog stories.

Wells Edmundson

My college aged son adopted "Buddy", a beagle/boxer mix,from the pound. He served as a veritable 'chick magnet' until I rescued Buddy from fraternity life debauchery. I like the bumper sticker that has a cartoon dog's face that says "Who rescued who?"
Wells Edmundson

Sierra Danté

So timely reading your post today. I just shared a story about My Little French Poodle. We're in transition and going through Hospice care for her. Her name is Maui, she is 18-years old. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story, I felt I was on the hike with you. Have a creative day!


My Bindi Sue is a 5-1/2 year old boxer, but I still call her my puppy. I wish I could post her picture here for you. I have it as the wallpaper on my cell phone, and I drag it out to show anyone with little to no prompting.

When we are out together, there is a very noticeable tone of voice that comes from those that see her and say "Aw ... what a cute puppy," and she instantly recognizes that she has met a new friend. Her stub of a tail wags so quickly, it surprises me that she doesn't fall over. She pulls at her leash to go give and receive love -- rubbing on their legs, happily receiving pats and pets, and, although I have tried for years to break her of it, to jump up in hopes of giving them a sloppy wet kiss. Some allow it, others gently hold her off as they laugh at her eager greeting.

Everyone wants to know her name, how old she is, and to tell me about another boxer they have known.

Oh, yes indeed! My dog has helped me make friends often. She lifts my spirits and those of others she encounters. She is a true blessing in my life.

She loves meeting other dogs, but they are often intimidated by her very enthusiastic greetings. Other boxers don't have a problem, but they and she do drool when together. Tissues are a must when walking my dog.

Love you,



Is it my imagination or are you writing more from the heart? Whatever, keep doing it. Your "sequence", or lack of, is great. That is how thoughts come to us. Persis

Julie Farrar

What a noble photo of Smokey. And dogs are always great ice-breakers. When we moved into our neighborhood a decade ago, my two dogs gave me a way to worm into a place that will, for at least another ten years, refer to my house as so-and-so's house. Because we are on the corner and my dogs have greeted (or barked at, sometimes) people passing on the sidewalk I can always say "I live in the house with the tan hound dog" and people will know because they've stopped to say hello.

As for your story, it will tell you how it needs to be told. If back and forth is what it needs, then that is how it will work. If it is compelling writing, readers will follow it anywhere.

Sophie Day

I love books that go back and forth in time. It is intriguing, kind of like a puzzle. It is also very real, since our minds are constantly pulling up past experiences while viewing the present and imagining the future. What fun you must be having, letting your creative imagination run wild.


It seems to me that you need to write as it comes to you. Choice is not necessarily a factor. We are fortunate and thankful that you choose to share with us. You are a blessing in our lives. And so is Smokey.

Sue in WI

When our son moved back home while recovering from narcotic addiction he brought along "Ardwhite Chamberlain" a 3 ft long Amazonian Arawana fish. The tank takes up most of our beautiful dining room. In the beginning I disliked Ardwhite and his colossal tank for ruining my decor. After a time I began to actually enjoy watching him and his pet; a red tail Amazon catfish named Tom Selleck due his delightful black mustachios. That's what family life is though; making room for more love, accepting the changes life brings, and blooming within those new parameters. Both son and fish are thriving. One can not rush these things. It can be difficult to explain why my son doesn't work yet; why he doesn't go to college, etc. If everyone would just accept what "is", relax, and watch the fish! (we also now have 2 African side neck turtles in another tank upstairs but that's another tale)

L. M. Davies

I always think of dogs as the best diplomats.If it hasn't been trained out of them by their owners, they always seem to be curious and eager to greet new friends, thus introducing *me* to a wider world.

And as for a story that hops back and forth in time, I think the heart has its own chronology, a logic beyond the linear. Besides, I never really worry about structure until I've marked my territory and know exactly which episodes must be included for the story to have its full impact.

I'm gonna go a little Star Wars on you, Kristin...trust the story. The story is with you.



No the back and forth makes a lot of sense since the past gives our present a "frame of reference". I love how you write and am so grateful that you are sharing more with us, your adoring readers!

Jan in Monument, Colorado

It's your book, do what you want to do. Now the real song will be stuck in my mind all day! At any rate, you don't need anyone's approval to create your masterpiece. Don't take the safe way out!

Jeanne, Maumee, OH

I love the back and forth in time but make sure we know the dates! Sometimes it's several sentences into the new chapter and I realize it's a different time! Maybe that's just me, but I prefer the date at the top! Keep up the good work. I'm only half done and can't seem to get back to it.

Pat Cargill

Thanks for this lovely post, I so much apppreciate news about ourbeloved Smoky. My miniature schnauzer, Maxie, has brought more love and joy than words could convey. She is a total love bug, and I need that in my life! I think writing your memoir non-linearly is a good idea and will enliven the telling. Continue enjoying your walks with Smoky Dokey. xox from sunny, cold SW Virginia.


As an editor, I am all for those who play with time the way that time plays with us! One of the books I edited, MRS. VELVET AND THE BLUE STRING THEORY goes in and out of time and the chapters are numbered on the Fibonacci sequence! So yes! Weave time with those words!

Pat Cargill

That was great, L M Davies! "The story is with you." Like so many things in life, if we can get the hay out of our own way, the flow will seek and find its course.

Kathleen from Connecticut


Back and forth would not disturb me at all. I think that many of us. especially women seem to be able to do this much easier than men.

I love Smokey (and Braise) and his tongue does not bother me. When I walk in my neighborhood, I meet all of the dogs and know their names, but do not know their owners (parents) names. I hadn't seen Tessie, a Golden Lab, for a long time and when I saw her after the Nemo snow storm, she just came up to me and leaned into me for her chest and belly rub. Unfortunately I do not have any animals right now. We travel too much and I am caring for a 95 year old mother. I do miss my cats, and my husband tolerated them, but did not love them as I did.


Gayle Markow

thanks for the beautiful, uplifting story this morning! I so enjoyed yours and Smokey's walk and all your encounters! Beautiful!

and, No problem with back and forth.. So looking forward to your next book!

Trina, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

Sometimes changes in time have me longing for more ... which I think is a good thing. What in the past lead the character to behave this way? Where is the new growth now? I agree with Ellen, that at some point the story will then continue to move forward ... as your internal growth did. And as Passante advised ... transitions are important (or the movement can become annoying). Love the photo of Smokey! It is interesting how animals can bring people together who may not have made contact otherwise.


I love books that go back and forth in time, as long as the dates/transitions are clear.

I will keep a long story shorter: We got our cat two years ago. Our daughter had been dealing with depression, and her therapist thought it would help her. I thought I was allergic, but was willing to take meds if necessary. Two years ago, for my daughter's 16th birthday, we found the perfect kitty--Arthur. I never had a problem with allergies (although our son did, but after a few months, they went away!)

Arthur has entered all our hearts (although my husband had been reluctant, thinking it would be a lot of work). Our daughter feeds him, and cleans up after him. And most important, she is happy and no longer depressed. Of course, it is more involved than that. But we can't imagine our lives without Arthur! He's wonderful!

Madeleine de la Fontaine

My darling cat, Sweetie Pie, was a great companion as I was undergoing chemotherapy some years ago. For hours, she would sit with me on the sofa, nuzzling up to me, purring softly, and napping right along with me. I miss this darling friend...her loyalty was amazing. She seemed to sense exactly what I needed.

Bill Facker

The overwhelmingly positive response to this post is further affirmation of the pure love we receive from our animal friends (family). I believe they will keep loving us unconditionally until we awaken and understand how to do it ourselves. They are God's Emissaries of Divine Light. We would all be wise to get a degree from Doggie University. As for the book configuration - keep walkin' and talkin' with Smokey ... you'll get your answers. Great stuff, Kristin, thank you! Aloha, Bill

Jacqui McCargar

Hi Kristi!I remember when Smokey was attacked, it was right after I left there in 2009. I loved "puppy-sitting" Smokey and his 5 sisters when I hurt my knee during Harvest. I was so glad that Smokey survived that awful attack and with basically only small scars, as we know it could have been much worse!I have my 3 Pomeranians and couldn't imagine being without them!I wish Smokey R Dokey a long and happy life being loved by family and friends alike!

Diane Young

I treasure the memories of all my pets, now gone to pet heaven. Many cats in my youth along with a couple of small dogs. German Shepherds for a lot of our married life. What a wonderful gift a pet is! They love us unconditionally and, as with you, many times are the spark of a friendly encounter. The back and forth of the time periods in your memoir seems almost inevitable and anyone who reads much will certainly appreciate the necessity of it. Do quit worrying about things like that and write what's in your heart. All will be well. We're pulling for you as always.

Debbie Swanbrow-Quenaudon

I find my eyes welling up with tears as I read you Kristi. I love Smokey from afar, from Michigan. I love your very talented writing and the pleasure "sharing a moment" with you brings to my day. C'est merveilleux! Le monsieur avait raison: Smokey ET sa maitresse sont merveilleux! Merci encore!



Thank you once again for lifting my soul this morning. So much to say but thanks to all of your precious friends they have said it for me and I can now rest after the roller-coaster ride you took us all on the past two weeks.

I still want to see 500 words a day, Monday through Friday. I am awaiting your email with today work.

Ha-Ha !!! Kristi has appointed me her chief agent and editor for the moment, til we need a real profestional...and part of my job is to put the pressure on.

I know you can crank out 500 words in 20 minutes...think of it as an exercise, like running up the mountain, and think how great you will feel when you finish.




I agree with Passante, the back and fourth narrative is difficult to control. I get frustrated when the writer does not make it clear they are moving between time periods. I have no suggestions as to how to do this, just to try to make it obvious it is being done - for us dunderheads out here. And today's post brought tears to my eyes too!


HA-HA!!! OF COURSE YOU ALL ALREADY KNOW I CAN'T SPELL, sorry about all of the mistakes.


I'm going out on my terrace to paint now - it's about 78 degrees here in sunny Mexico.


I adore all animals and can rarely resist
petting them. Your post brings to mind an incident in Paris several years ago. I had reached out to pet a small dog while at an outdoor cafe. Although I didn't fully understand her words, it was obvious that the woman holding the leash did not want me to touch the dog. I wondered if the French typically prefer that strangers do not pet their dogs. Just curious...


Beautifully written, expressing so many aspects of thought and emotion. Now I understand the story behind Smokeys' licker.
I grew up with animals, as my Dad brought home a stray from the piano store he worked at one night. Being nine years old, my Dad seemed a hero and we were the recipients of a new family member Morty. He had a tremendous underbite, teeth pointing up to his sad eyes, but we loved that dog.
A stray puppy walked into our house a few months ago and spent the weekend, as we couldn't get anyone to pick him up (because of a tsunami warning and staff unavailability.) That Monday, I drove him out to the humane society and then proceeded to cry all the way home. Long story short I adopted Fruget as my husband struggles with illness continue and I felt like we had been chosen by this special dog to care for us. He has helped me cope with my role as caregiver supporting my ups and downs, also giving me an excuse to play. My husband has never quite been a dog person, so it's been an interesting journey to see the two of them and how he is softening his resistance and learning to look outside himself. The cat was totally disgusted when he arrived, however, is looking on with interest and pacing himself closer each day. The patience Fruget has taught us is
immeasurable, the love he has given priceless. Animals bring healing to all of us.


Yes, our animals (especially our dogs) connect us. Jones was acquired to be a shop dog--people might not remember the details of the shop; but they love Jones and the love he lavishes on them. And life is found in all of the amazing connections that we make.
Say "hi" to Smokey from Jones.

Tom from Detroit


Cynthia Lewis (Eastern Shore of Maryland)

Kristin, you always write such wonderful descriptions: "wobbling gourmand" and "bubble of love". One of my most beloved dogs was a poodle named "Maggie". Once,while traveling, my husband and I were eating a quick bite when my sandwich had a little tug on one corner. I looked around and saw "Maggie" perched directly behind me. Remembering my manners, I shared my snack with her.

Karen Whitcome - Towson, Md  USA

I swear dogs expand human hearts! Especially one with a face like Smokey-Doke's! I found this to be true:

"Dog Lessons for People"
Run and play daily, Love unconditionally, Be quick to forgive,
Follow your instincts, Be loyal and faithful,
Life is short, pet often, Avoid biting when a growl will do,
Sometimes it is best to just sit close and listen,
Enjoy the simple pleasures of a walk,
Never underestimate the value of a belly rub,
Keep digging until you find what you want,
Accept all of life's treats with gratitude. ~ Anonymous

pat sala

kriston...i love what you're doing....time is non linear in my world....

Karen Whitcome - Towson, Md  USA

It isn't every author who can pull off shifting from PAST to PRESENT but if it makes more sense to you then I'm sure it will to the reader, too. My preference is to start from the beginning and have the ending be at the end. But, I tend to live within boundaries so don't listen to me!! :)

Kristin Espinasse

Just back from an aller-retour to Marseilles, to pick up my mother-in-law who is spending time here out the house. I am reading these helpful comments now, and finding the courage needed to work on the story tonight. (I am not a night writer, but will learn to be flexible -- as well as to trust the process). Thank you very much for taking the time to comment! P.S. As I type, I can hear my mother-in-law in the house, discovering all the little rooms. It is so good to have her here with me. 

Kristin Espinasse

Sharon, thanks for a new word dunderheads :-) You are so NOT that :-)  P.S. Mom, thanks for the pressure -- though I noticed you brought it down from 5000 words/day to Ann Mahs 500. Much better, especially as I have been on the road for two hours and am about to make soup with Michele-France. Jean-Marcs mom rocks! She said, after I brought her back to our house: Now go do what you have to do. Scram!

I admit that after the drive to Marseilles and back, it is good to have some alone time, drinking tea and reading these encouraging notes. 


Kristin, I have 4 dogs, and each one is a special light in my life. I could rave on and on about the unique and many gifts each bestows on me every day. I couldn't imagine my life without them.
If you envision your book moving freely backward and forward in time, that must be the way the story is meant to be told. I too would be curious as to whom you would choose to play you in a movie of your life! How about Jean-Marc? Jules?
Continued blessings to you -- Julianna


Many great stories begin "in medeas res" (in the middle of things). Like the Odyssey, yours and Odysseus', the story begins very recently, flashes back to what got you there, and finally ends with how you deal with what you have experienced. More recently, Barnes' THE SENSE OF AN ENDING does the same thing in many ways. It's got the wisdom of (our) age coupled with the excitement of re-living the past through those older eyes. I am loving this recent thread on the blog.


joie in carmel

Even if only one paragraph (as beautiful as the first one in today's post.)
As for the couples you met on the walk, it now is obvious to me that the first couple were German, the second French and the last were Italian. In 1993 while hiking in the Swiss Alps with my Swiss friends we passed many people. My friends would greet them with either "greitze", "bon jour", or "buon journo" before the approaching peoople said a word. Finally I asked them how they knew which nationality they were. Andreas explained to me that the Germans walk with their heads down not talking, the French are smiling and chatting, and the Italians are laughing and having a great time! So all these descriptions seem to fit the people you and Smokey encountered. They just expressed it to the dog. Have a truly wonderful day!!!!!!!! (I am sure there will be a backlash from any Germans reading this, but it held true throughout the trip.)


Our dear Kristi,
You are so gifted a writer that you will move back and forth in your story with no problems or lack of continuity! We are so looking forward to reading your words!
Especially loved today's post and your wonderful sentiments about Smokey (and all dogs!)
I always remember that God made them and spelled their name as D-O-G because it's His name spelled backwards.Truly man's (and woman's) unconditionally devoted companion.
Our previous Yorkie,Sweet Alice Rose, literally saved my life--as a heart patient I had an oxygen bottle on next to my bed. I had fallen asleep without completely opening the (gas) fireplace flue, and as a result, gas was filling the room, With the flames,it could've ignited. I sleep so soundly, and Rosie kept barking and barking to awaken me, finally resorting to licking my eyelids to make them open. She could've run off to save herself, but stayed to help me. Dog truly is God spelled backwards.And with an angel's wings,too.
Love, Natalia XO


haven't commented in eons because: (1) my thoughts have already been expressed so well by previous commenters and (2) i worry that you will have too many comments to read them ! but just want to send love and a big DITTO to all who have been encouraging you to follow your heart in all decisions, since your heart is very wise, and to continue to be the open, generous, thoughtful person you are. i especially love that you question yourself and ask what others think. clearly you grow and learn continually at the same time as you preserve all that is best in you.


Yes, backlash - joie in carmel - what a load of hooey! There are all sorts of Germans just as there are all sorts of other nationalities. I've encountered some pretty unfriendly French, ditto Italian, ditto whoever you are! This is no blog to vent your aggressions, thank you. Kristin spreads love and compassion and tenderness; let's keep it that way. She is never judgemental.
Kristin - yes, to zipping back and forth, it keeps a narrative zingy and readers on their toes.


This is a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing this!!


Another heartfelt and lovely post. I LOVE dogs and everything about French Word-A-Day!

miriam  in N.J.

Dear Kristie,This is the first time I have blogged you. I so appreciate your courage in writing of your best and worst times of your life. You are a beautiful, talented writer with a wonderful sense expressing emotions .Back and forth stories are fine with me. Makes me think more.
My love of dogs has intensified after we adopted a lovable 8 year old dachshund. She has made my husband such a happier man and he loves her( he who opposed having her in the first place. Their unconditional love is amazing. Miriam, N.J.

suzana rose borlovan

Kristin, I love Smokey even more now after reading your snippet of a day in his life, and you sharing it with him. Our 3 year old chocolate Labrador Lucy has been the joy of our lives, we are empty nesters now, our girls aged 24 and 21 have spread their wings and Lucy came to us at a time when my husband was recoving from extensive spinal decompression and fusion, as much as he didn't want another dog and as much as he sulked and didn't utter a single word to me for 3 weeks after her arrival into our home, he is now overjoyed and totally and utterly in love with her and her with him. She was his saving grace when recovering and she "made" him get out of bed each morning, we owe a great deal to our beloved Lucy girl.


One's life is made up of lots of vignettes - the past contributed to what we are now. It embellishes and flavours how you view things for better or worse -without it your story does not unravel your 'journey'. There should be no formula for writing-it is your voice, your style,your timeline. Let go and let it flow....
The comments are a dangerous 'addiction....

Sandy Vann

How to contribute when all of the above comments from your lovely readers, do so with such clarity and significance? Life is not linear certainly. Makes great sense to me that writing a memoire would not be either!
Cheers, bravo and oui, mille merci's for a beautiful post encore Kristin. Bon courage!

Marianne Rankin

I could write a lot about pets, past and present. This week we thought we might lose the cat we've had for 11 1/2 years, but with assorted adjustments in diet, medication, etc. etc. and assorted tests (and a fair amount of expense), he is hanging in there, and we hope for a complete recovery and a few more years of his companionship; Zip has a great disposition. People often say, "It's only an animal," when we lose a pet, or the dog/cat/other suffers - but they are so much more; they are friends and even family. Zip and our other cats were a comfort to my son after my husband died, and they have given us much free entertainment.

Normally, I don't mind flashbacks or moving around in time, as long as it's clear when the event is taking place, and the shift has a clear purpose. For example, it's not unusual to have a character stop and remember past events, or to think about future ones. For a stage of life (say a year or less) it can occasionally be distracting if the time isn't chronological, such as a friend's book I read that had Christmas happening before Halloween.

One way you could check if shifts in time are confusing is to ask one of your confidential readers (a family member?) if changes in the years made the story harder to follow. Chances are, they won't.

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

Unlike most of those who posted, I need a story to mainly move forward in time. Of course there are memories told, that are not striclty in time sequence, but pertinent to the main flow.

I am thinking of just a few memoirs I read, and they all moved forward in time, mainly. Excursions now and then, both forward and backward, to close up or clear up a point. Short excursions, not whole chapter excursions.

That is great you are sticking to a schedule and writing every day.

Neil Plakcy

I am surprised at how different my current golden retriever, Brody, (a one-year-old puppy) is from my beloved golden, Sam, who passed away at 12. Sam was friendly to every dog, always wagging his tail happily even if the other dog barked. Brody is a fraidy-cat, even when the other dog is far away, on the other side of the lake or down the block.

As for your time question -- I prefer a narrative that moves forward chronologically, with the occasional flashback, to one that hops back and forth. I think those are tougher to read.

Susan Carter (Westminster, CA)

So nice to have a story about and picture of Smokey; I've missed reading about him and often wonder how he's doing. Backe and forth is fine for your book as long as you make logical transitions.

Karen from Phoenix

My sweet Sox loved to meet and greet everyone. All the kids in the neighborhood were so sad when she passed. I still miss her so much and it has been 1 1/2 years. Still no dog yet. I just can't seem to do it yet.

As far as going back and forth in a book. I have loved some and no loved some. I know not really answering, ha ha

Give that sweet slobbering Smokey a kiss from me.


Dana (San Antonio, TX)

Bonjour Kristin!
Thank you so much for your beautiful story today. Smokey reminds me alot of my 11-year-old black lab Missy, as she always loves to make new friends as well. Both she and I would love to meet you and Smokey one day! She has always been and continues to be a wonderful companion.

As for your story, trust the process and do what is right for you. I have no doubt that we will all love it!

Barbara Bottini

I don't mind going back and forth in time with a writer as long at the author let's me know where we are in time. In fact, moving up and then back or vice versa can make the writing more interesting or exciting. Best wishes for a successful writing experience. You are quite brave to tackle this project. I wish you well.

TIsh Tyler

Bonjour Kristi,

Lovely story today. I have followed Smokey since he was a pup and the "attack". He's a very special boy - I have a 7 year old sheltie who had a stroke a year ago. She wobbles when she walks and gets acupuncture once a month, but is a very happy girl. My other dog is my walking companion.

I like the back and forth books. Sarah's Key comes to mind. Write what works for you!

Tish (Powhatan VA)

Alice Dent

Chère Kristin.
Je voudrais bien faire une promenade avec toi et Smokey et moi et mon chien, un labrador noir! I'd love to be your neighbor and go for walks every day. We could have so many adventures for you to write about! Strike and I also encounter people who are non-dog lovers, but our favorites are the dog-lovers who love to reach out.
A book that goes back and forth is fine as long as I know what the time is. It's easier for when you get to go back to reading after a break. :)


Kristin, what a lovely post that is. I send a hug to you and a pat to Smokey. I have many great stories of my pets through the years, but must share a short one about Sadie, whom we call our "nurse cat". Whenever any if us are sick, sad, or in pain, Sadie is right there to offer her quiet comfort and love. When our youngest daughter moved permanently to France, I returned from the airport and went into her empty room where I sobbed my heart out. Sadie was right there to comfort me. She looked so sad, too, and I know she misses Darci very much. The first few times she heard Darci's voice via FaceTime on my iPad, Sadie looked everywhere for her. She even looked behind the sofa! Months later, when Darci returned for a visit, Sadie actually cried out and ran to her! It was so touching.


Hi Kristi,
We, too, have an emotionally challenged bestest pet Friend named Whitey. Hew was a rescue Cat, a stray that we took in after seeing him starving and getting picked on by other cats. Whitey finally got used to people again and we moved (flew him) to Arizona and all was well. But then the Spa Guy came and there was a commotion out back with the Guy scaring Whitey by knocking an iron sculpture off our porch, and maybe it hit Whitey - we dont know -with all kinds of commotion - and he left the gate open so Whitey ran away for hours.Now he is scared to death of people again, except for Us (for 3 years now!sigh!) Quite heartbreakings and difficult when we have overnight guests.. Our pets do remember, don't they?? Trama is much harder for them to forget, no?
I too, don;t mind you skipping back and forth - it's all great reading that I so enjoy! bestest, Marie


I never realized how much I would learn by having an "indoor" dog (Millie.) Our family always had an "outdoor" dog when I was growing up. The intimacy of a dog in your home and the closeness of that environment has taught me so much and I now know that I missed out on many lessons in the past by not having a dog indoors. I now worry over many things I did and did not do with my outdoor dog. But the past is the past and I can only learn and grow from my present experience. Millie and I age together and we teach each other. I want to learn to be as accepting as she is with me in my relationship with others.


Our Labradoodle, Aries, was attacked by two adult Boxers as a youngster playing on the beach. He is now nearly 6 years old and even though we have taken great care to help him realize Boxers are lovely dogs, he continues to this day to growl and attempt to attack Boxers. This morning on the beach we were having a lovely walk when a couple approached from the other direction with their young Boxer.They were carrying a stick which I thought was a leash attached to their dog. When Aries saw him, he immediately tried to attack. I was so glad I had made the decision to leash Aries when I saw them before he realized who was approaching. This avoided a full on attack, but he was very verbal! The canine memory is long and strong.
We live in Victoria, Vancouver Island on the west coast of Canada. We are really enjoying your blog and have a French tutor who comes to the house for 1 1/2 hours every second week. This keeps our 'older' brains working and is lots of fun. When you don't use a language learned in school so long ago, it is difficult to keep it fresh. Thanks so much for your delightful stories.


Kristi...you are inspiring me to get started on one of the things on my bucket list that I have been thinking was "too hard" and keep putting off....Well time isnt on my side anymore ...so maybe I had better get with it (I want to write a memoir for my kids and grands ) If I know you are on the same journey, maybe that will keep me going (once I get started that is) I think back and forth is fine as long as we know "when" ....Good luck (Bon chance) Keep hammering out those words for all of us !!!Love them !

joie in carmel

Opps, so sorry Maureen. I really am not judgemental at all. I was just expressing what my European friends had told me. I am totally aware that there are friendly and not so friendly in every nationality. I myself am perhaps too friendly most of the time, being aggressive is so far from who I am you wouldn't believe it. Sorry I ruffled your feathers.

joie in carmel

Now I feel really bad. First my friends are Swiss-German and second I never did say the German hikers were not friendly. If I were to go into the whole description about heads being down, it was explained to me that they were very concentrated on what they were doing. The French "laisse faire"? and the Italians "Que sera, que sera". I at the time was terrified that I was going to fall off the narrow trail.

Kristin Espinasse

Joie, please do not feel bad. It is easy to misunderstand one another via email or in the comments box. If your comment were expressed in a stand-up comedy room, here in France, the audience would have giggled. My husband (Chief Grape) loves to listen to Rire Chanson (the radio station) and the comedians are always poking fun at we earth dwellers across the globe, whether we be American, French, German, Mexican, You Name It... As Maureen says, there are all sorts of us out there, within our appellation :-)  

Kristin Espinasse

Cathy, So glad you brought up indoor and outdoor dogs. I would love to hear more comments on this topic (as one of the members of my family would like our dogs to transition to Outdoor Dogs.... 


Beautiful story, and as always beautifully written. Your posts are always uplifting, (even when the subject might seem as if it should not be). Just wanted to let you know that I so often recognize myself in the events and moods you describe so well, and it reassures me that other artists and mothers wrestle with and enjoy many of the same things. Thank you!


Regarding indoor/outdoor dogs, growing up our collie/German shepherd mix (looked like collie), was strictly an outdoor dog. And our cats were indoor/outdoor. Now that we live in coyote territory, everyone is recommended to keep their cats and small dogs indoors in all the time.

I agree with Cathy. I feel like we missed so much bonding with our dog being strictly outdoors. We have loved having our cat indoors. He is truly a member of our family. I don't know if we'll ever get a dog (a second cat is more likely), but I would want it inside now.

Sherry Langevin

Kristen, in November of 2009, my husband died from cancer. I already had two very nice dogs, but two months later, I acquired a beautiful german shepherd pup. Few months after that, a miniature poodle, a year after that, two more poodles, one miniature and one standard.
Looking back, I understand,now, why I bought (also rescued during this difficult period of time) all of those dogs. I was learning how to train service assist dogs, and my idea was to teach others how to train their own. By that time, I had 9 dogs, including a few that I'd rescued, and was working with to find them homes that they deserved.
I got sick that winter and was miserable. Have a special child who needs constant supervision. I was desperate one day for a nap, very miserably sick. I knew that if I could just lay down for one or two hours, I'd feel better. I went to my child's room, where she was playing, so I could hear her if she needed me. I lay down and crashed into deep sleep. Awoke 2 hours later, looked around for my daughter. I saw all 9 dogs, sleeping next to the bed I lay in. It was the most comforting thing that had happened to me in a long time.
Dogs do bring comfort, and acceptance.


I soo do not believe in "outdoor" dogs! Unless they are hunting dogs and live in a pack and in some stable with a bunch of other *(presumably happy) animals.

Plus, I believe we, as humans, miss out so much on LOVE while distancing them to the outdoor conditions. And of course I myself own a (perfectly trained and very well travelled) dog, and to just compare the situations, I know some people (and their dogs too) who prefer to keep them outdoor. Even with the best food and care those outdoor dogs miss out soo much in life! Just as we do.

Maybe it worth training them better? They are trainable at any age. Just more love and compassion for them -- and with some training and treats, of course (they don't "work" for free:-) a dog could be even patient enough with... our wiping their paws (if that is needed to keep the house super-clean).

Here's my point illustrated professionally:

"The worst thing you can do to a dog that is an indoor pet is turn him outside," warns Gorton. "Imagine how you feel when you have been locked out of your house for just a short time. Trying to make an indoor dog into an outdoor pet is a form of abandonment and cruelty, and your pet's health will certainly suffer."

Does Your Pet Belong Indoors or Outdoors?

"..They are animals born to be part of a social structure, a pack or a family, yet this is denied them. They spend their lives on the outside, looking in. .." http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/why-outdoor-dogs-are-miserable
Why "Outdoor Dogs" Are Miserable


"Dogs, cats & other people: Don't give up: Dogs trainable at any age"

Dog trainer Matthew "Uncle Matty" Margolis is co-author of 18 books about dogs, a behaviorist, a popular radio and television guest, and host of the PBS series "WOOF! It's a Dog's Life!"


.. speaking of "wiping their paws if needed"

:-) I am smiling now remembering my dog's attitude, body language and muzzle expression :-) when she gives me her paws to be wiped or washed. She just stretches them out one by one, and absolutely has no problems with anything like that (for all those years I have been doing that.. and much more with her and ON her).. She isn't even surprised any more, I guess, if I come up with some OTHER yet idea for her to learn. She just looks at me with the expression "what do you want me to do NOW?" And she is always ready to learn, and ready to please. That is intrinsic to their nature -- we just need to remember about this fact -- and use it to make our lives together more enjoyable.


Beautiful story, Kristin! Books that go backward and forward in time are brilliant, and I believe it takes great talent to be able to lure the reader into such a narrative. The first book that comes to mind, when I think of the forward-and-backward weaving story, is The Time Traveler's Wife, which is one of my favourites. Best of luck! Your work is always such a pleasure to read!

Suzanne, Monroe Twp., NJ

Back and forth is how we think after all. so yes, it is a fine literary style. Dogs are wonderful ice breakers and if a hiker does not want to be drawn in ... no worries ... the dog's feelings aren't hurt. I love taking our Westie, Bijou and our Shih-Tzu, boomerang out to explore the world and all of its creatures.


I adore my dog. We have a perfect relationship, always delighted to see each other, even after a short shopping trip. She often comes to me when I am painting to tell me how much she loves me, and I tell her the same! After 7 years I can't imagine life without her. We also meet all sorts of lovely people out on our walks who stop to talk and tell her what a 'grand nounours' she is. I think that's the word for a teddy bear. She wakes me in the morning with a gentle nudge, and at night sleeps on my yoga mat by my bed, her calm breathing, the most soothing sound to go to sleep to. Her name is Barafu and I feel it is an honour to share my life with this most lovely of souls. Incase you are wondering, she is a Bernese Mountain dog.
Thank you for your sweet story, as always told with such sincerity, and wisdom. X Karen

Suzanne de Cornelia

Lovely story... I'm an animal lover too. We've had dogs, cats, birds, a horse, a hamster named Georgette and a snake named Fang, rabbits. I can't really say no to pets. My son even brought a French college student home from the beach when we lived in Santa Barbara. He had money enough for school and a little food but no home. Rob asked if he could stay with us. "Sure.'

My Sheltie, Ladd, made many friends everywhere we went in Santa Barbara. Everyone loved him. From Julie Child to Stewart Granger...Jonathan Winter and someone on 'Dallas' whose name I can't remember. Now I have a rescue cat. Or more accurately, she has me. Wrapped around her adorable little paw. She isn't very friendly except to me, and that is sometimes conditional.

Look forward to the next installment!

Jan  Hersh

What a beautiful place you have to walk with Smokey!

April Lane

oh my, what a beautiful little cove! is that someone's house in the upper right? what an idyllic location.

Kristin Espinasse

April, that is a restaurant... but would make a dream house!

Chris Kelly

Love your stories about Smokey. We had a sad time this week with my daughter's cat, Phoenix, who died unexpectedly from kidney failure. Phoenix was found years ago in an outdoor grill...and had part of his tail either cut/bitten or burned off (not from the grill.) But he was rescued and had 7 good years with her family!

The "Smokester" is also living the good life!

Kristin Espinasse

Chris, so sorry about Phoenix. What a lovely life he was offered for those 7 years. xoxo

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