A lively French expression + a creative use for an old T.V.!
faire amende honorable

To humble oneself + what to give someone you've unintentionally hurt

Letter of sympathy
Russian comfrey and letter of sympathy (with misspellings), reads Sir/Mam, I offer all my regrets for the loss of your chickens. I am sincerely and deeply sorry for the pain this has caused you..." (Read on, in today's story column.)

se rabaisser (seuh rah bay say)

    : to humble oneself, to show humility or respect

Audio File: listen to Jean-Marc: Download MP3 or Wav

Je me suis rabaissée devant le potager, en visant mon plant préféré. Et puis, je l'ai arraché!
I lowered myself before the kitchen garden, and targeted my favorite plant. Next, I yanked it out! 

  At only $8 Exercises in French Phonetics is a great tool for improving your French.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

I left Annie's whimsical garden with a bag of stinging nettles and a mission: to plant the medicinal orties and, secondly, to heal an open wound--celle de ma voisine.

The orties, no matter how menacing their bite, would be easy to manage; I needed only to wear gloves to transplant them. As for the pain we'd caused our other neighbor--I was not sure how to proceed... so I followed--hanging on as my body whisked forth my soul, over to the field just below.

There in my own jardin, I landed. Walking past the flowering consoude, with its ornamental purple bells, I knew instantly it was the one. I had just given a seedling to my friend Cari, keeping the mother comfrey--all decked out now in blossoms--for myself. Even then I knew I should have given the best away, and patiently waited for the seedling to grow into another purple-belled marvel. It wasn't too late this time around....

Se rabaisser (the French translation for "to humble yourself") literally means to bow down, and this I did before the royal purple bells of Symphytum x uplandicum--the noblest subject in my potager.

I knelt not as a worshiper before an idol; I met the ground as a broken heart falling in pieces! If the act was dramatic, it encompassed more than the sorrow for my neighbor's lost chickens, it carried with it the weight of other trespasses--both personal and universal. Isn't that what it feels like to be deeply sorry, or navrée? As though the weight of a world's sins rests on your guilty shoulders. 

Kneeling there, the rocks below me drove their jagged edges into my skin. But I felt only the pain of shame as I searched for words.

 "Please let there be understanding--and forgiveness. Please heal this pain."

There was nothing I could do to bring back the stolen chickens. And only God knows how hard I try to keep our dogs inside our property lines. The best I could do was to reach out to my neighbor: apologize, ask what I could give or do, and let her see the human face behind the unknown perpetrator. 

As I stood there, now, on a foreign doorstep--my heart thumping in my throat, my arms holding out a potted plant its leaves going limp before my very eyes--my new neighbor studied me, her lips a straight line.....

 (A suivre/To be continued here in Part 2 of story)

To respond to today's story, click here

Note: highlighted links within the story refer back to previous journal entries:

Annie's garden (including part one of today's story)
Kristi's garden (picture)

celle de ma voisine = that (wound, blessure) of my neighbor
le jardin = garden
la consoude = comfrey
le potager = vegetable patch
navré(e) = deep sorrow, sadness for one's mistake

  Seeds of Hope Jane Goodall

Plants are the best gift, no matter the occasion! An olive or peach tree, aloe or comfrey! They nourish, improve the air we breathe, and are often healing. A book about plants is the next best gift of all. I am offering one copy of Jane Goodall's latest: Seeds of Hope: Wisdom and Wonder from the World of Plants.

BOOK GIVEAWAY: Here's how to enter:

Leave a comment in today's comments box.  You can say anything at all: respond to today's story, or tell us your favorite plant. Click here to comment and enter.

P.S. I can't promise, so don't hold me to it--but if I manage to get a signed book on Monday night--when I go to see Jane Goodall speak in Aix!!--then I will include the signed copy in the giveaway. Otherwise the book will be shipped to you directly via Amazon.com. Good luck!

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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That was a very nice, and brave, thing to do. You could have hidden in your house, but instead, you faced your neighbor's unsmiling face. I hope she saw how sorry you are. You are a special person.


Lyn Cooke

Kristin- dying to know if your neighbor forgave you! I hope so. I love reading your blog just as I have loved your books. I feel as though I'm right there as I read. Thank you for your beautiful words! - Lyn


As always, Kristin, I enjoy the stories that you share, this one especially but-- that you are going to listen to Jane Goodall speak is what I shall think of all day. Enjoy.

Susan Cutuis

It is very hard to forgive the owner of an out of control dog who does
such damage. I imagine your neighbor appreciates your obviously
sincere apology, but will need time herself to heal. Maybe her chickens were also her pets, as is true for my neighbor, so she has
grieving to do. And of course the best apology is always a change in
the behavior that caused the hurt. You may be making efforts to keep your dogs in, but maybe a different, more effective, effort is called for.

Patricia Sands

I can feel your pain, Kristin. Seeking forgiveness is not always as easy as offering it. We are with you on your quest and await the next chapter! (I haven't forgotten about sending you the questions for our blog visit - just crazy busy "in transit" - and will send soon.) Enjoy your evening with Jane Goodall. Wow!


How much did you determine that you should reimburse them for the loss of the chickens?

perhaps an electric fence with collars on your dogs would help

Linda Frank

Looking forward to the next part to see what the neighbor says!


Holding my breath and waiting for the next update. Reminds me of the time my neighbors' 2 boys climbed my fence and destroyed our "pet cemetery", small headstones thrown everywhere. My young son was devastated and I came down on her like a screaming, fiery storm. Be happy you don't live near me! ; )

karen kearney

Please consider hiring a professional dog trainer (only positive reinforcement) so that you can learn how to train your dogs to be civilized. The dogs are just doing what dogs do. Until they are trained I would keep them confined so they cannot do any more damage. I know this sounds harsh but it would be a kindness to the dogs, your neighbor and yourself. I love dogs, I have a dog. She is not perfect but she is never destructive because I have put in the effort to help her learn to live with people. I wish you the best in this endeavor.

Bruce in northwest Connecticut

Hey, Kristin —

If you're fortunate enough to get an autograph from Ms. Goodall, keep it! If you can ask her to sign two books, use the second one as a prize.


I love reading about your nettles- my husband was stung by them once and I'd have a hard time getting him to eat them.

My daughter and I went to see Jane Goodall in Birmingham, AL not long after 9/11. She has the sweetest presence about her. My daughter and I would love to read her book.

My favorite plant is my Solomon's seal.

David Sheegog

I wish all the good luck in the world with the orties. I've pulled them up by the roots in my yard and flower beds for about ten years now. Still, they keep coming back - everywhere. I was motivated to get them off my property when my friends' children were stung, just playing in the yard and along the river that runs through my property. They can't be controlled, only managed.

And thank you Kristin for "se rebaisser". A word only vaguely familiar - didn't actually know what it meant.

Jeanne, west coast of Florida

Kristin, I so look forward to reading the next chapitre of your ongoing saga making amends to your neighbor. You are such a gentle soul I am sure when we hear "the rest of the story" we will find your voisine blessing you with forgiveness. Enjoy listening to Jane Goodall and I echo Bruce - keep the signed copy for yourself!


Forgive yourself and understand that we are not in control of all life's happenings. Even if you have an electric fence, it doesn't guarantee that your dogs will never cross the line. I know from experience. What's important is what you are doing & being - truthful and humble. You are a beautiful human being (inside & out) & we need more people like you in the world. You are doing the noble thing by reaching out to your neighbor. There is no wound so deep that love cannot heal it. With sincere respect and appreciation for who you are Kristin!


Dogs and chickens. Hmm..I see problems ahead with this one. It is a good thing to go to the neighbor and talk to her. Hope you can resolve the issue...not an easy one for sure.
It is good you went to talk to her though!

Bruce Lane

Bonjour Kristi,

Too many plants to have a favourite. Reading the other posts I see that dog training seems useful. But I think you can replace the chickens. Either purchase young pullets or get some chicks to raise. You could keep some for yourself for the fresh eggs. Perhaps if the dogs were habituated to chickens they wouldn't attack others when they next escape.

It is almost three years since we were in France and met you and Jean Marc at Domaine Rouge Bleu while we were in Sablet. We hope to return to France in a few years, perhaps when the vines are more established at Mas Brun.

Ciao, Bruce Lane

Nancy Stilwagen

Bon courage! You are a courageous woman of honor. If all could only do what was right, the world would be a better place.

Comfrey, known here as knit-bone, is high in calcium, so is a very good aide in healing broken bones. Drink a tea, and make a compress of the leaves. It has been known to reduce healing time for broken bones.

Though I LOVE lavender and rosemary, too!

Mary Kennedy

Hi Kristin, could you have electronic collars and an electronic fence installed to keep the dogs on your property? I'm really afraid the angry neighbor (or another angry neighbor) might harm your lovely dogs. This would be tragic! I know you would be horribly upset. People in rural areas over here have been known to shoot dogs who attack livestock. Dogs that attack livestock tend to do it again and again. Nothing will stop them but an electronic fence. And even if it is only effective 99% of the time, it is still worthwhile. I hope you will seriously consider it. Wishing you all the best...

Nancy Stilwagen

P.S. Nettles are very nourishing,David. You can keep them under control by eating them! They lose their formic acid - responsible for the stings - once they are dry or cooked. A wonderful pot-herb.

Trina, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

Kristin, Your contrite heart is quite visible in your writing today...and now you are doing what it takes to move forward. I wish you the best and anxiously await Part 2. I 2nd Bruce's motion; keep the signed copy for yourself unless you can manage to get two signed. What a day you will have! My favorite plant? There are so many beauties out there. I do love tulips; my mom loved daisies. Gardenias smell so lovely and remind me of my Italian grandmother; she had a bush planted near her front door. The smell of night blooming jasmine always brings home the memory of sultry FL nights. The only time I ever kept an artificial plant, so this must say something, was when I lived in NYC. I missed bougainvilleas so much that I found silk ones and had them cascading down tall, old pots of my grandmother's that I kept on top of an entertainment center in my studio apt. Have a wonderful day!

Beth Bright

Bon Jour Kristin ~
What a gracious move on your part to take a plant to your neighbor . I hope the story turns out well. I am from the USA and we have "Bleeding Hearts" flowers here. It is a perennial here that comes up each year. The flowers are heart shape. Would have been another great choice as this I know is how you feel with the loss. Hang in here, I'm hoping the neighbor was good to and all is healed from the misfortune.
Beth Bright ~ Okoboji, IA

Yvonne Bogan

Kristen, I so enjoy your posts. Being from south Louisiana I speak some French and your Word a Day is really increasing my vocabulary. I'm keeping
A personal word a day log taken from your blog. Thanks so much!


"The Time has come the walrus said to speak of many things, of shoes and ships and sailing wax, of cabbages and kings" and mischevious dogs...who take after their owners and are free spirited...The chickens like the cats have disappeared.......
Always remember: Guilt is like crime-it doesn't pay..


Gardening is Good Therapy

Georgia, just north of San Francisco

Dear Kristin,

I understand your tender feelings regarding the dogs. As a lifetime companion to furry friends, I have had to go to a neighbor or two to apologize for one misdeed or another and we have fences. One time our dog ran next door where there is another lab and walked through the newly poured concrete leaving her footprints behind! An apology was offered as well as a repair. Thankfully, he was understanding and a contractor himself so he waved me off with a smile. Be gentle with yourself. You are doing the right thing.

I saw Jane Goodall about ten years ago. You will enjoy her and be inspired, no doubt. And I agree with your other readers who say to keep a signed copy of the book!

Joan Linneman

The problem with saying you're sorry, is that it is admitting you've done done something wrong, and in the USA, that means admitting liability, and we can't afford that... Unfortunately, few people are willing to say "I'm sorry" for anything any more, which means no one is willing to accept personal responsibility for actions, though we are certainly quick to accept the credit when things turn out well. Thanks for letting us all know that you are willing to ring the doorbell of the person who has been hurt.
Joan L.


I was lucky to see Jane in Arizona about 3 years ago. She was speaking about her Roots to Shoots program. Needless to say, she is one of the worlds wonders, a truly amazing person. I so enjoy your blog Kristin, so pure and real and from the heart. Plus, France has a special place in my life. Thank you for your work.


I can tell you are truly sorry, and I agree with several other readers, the true apology is a change in the behavior that caused the hurt. I've always had dogs and learned long ago that not everyone loves them as I do, so I don't let them in anyone else's "space." I hope you can "mend this fence" with your neighbor. Ill feelings with neighbors are not a good way to live.

Judith Cheney

Chere Kristin, I do hope the Russian comfrey will comfort your neighbor, that she will treasure it too, & forgive you. I agree with the commenter who suggested an electric fence. It would be a good solution to save your beloved dogs from being harmed themselves now they've become delinquents on the loose. Or a large dog pen area they come out of only leashed. Something must be done to keep them from more raiding & plundering in the neighborhood. They are your responsibility & care. I have had the honor of seeing & hearing Jane Goodall twice: in Florida & here in Asheville, NC. She is one of the greatest Citizens of the World. I know you will always cherish this event in Aix. Try to get 2 books--one to keep for yourself.


Those naughty dogs might have led you to a new friend . . .


I love reading your posts/blogs AND books. You are a true inspiration! I share newly acquired vocabulary words with my students of French; merci.
I admire your courage to deal so openly with all of life's issues.
Martha New Haven, CT

Caryl Witt

Bonjour Kristin,
My mother had been a widow for 25 years, and lived alone in a large condominium complex. Outside her door grew three mature bushes. One bush died and was plucked out by the gardeners, but not replaced. The next spring, an apparent weed poked its' head up out of the barren ground. My mother refused to pull it up, choosing instead to watch it mature, even guarding it with a miniature picket fence. As time passed, we realized that this bit of green was a Jack-In-The Pulpit wildflower. That, not very common plant, just happened to be my father's favorite. What can I say? Mystery, miracle, or SEEDS OF HOPE? Nurture and love the gift of flowers you hold precious.
A bientôt!

Joan Clark

Dear Kristn.,
Yes chickens and dogs are not the best of friends. We had chickens for years and our Golden Retriever ran with them for years and never ever bothered them. Then a couple of years ago we introduced 5 new ones to our flock but within a few weeks they began to disappear. Then one morning I witnessed our dog chasing one of them. She would not obey me and continued the chase, all the while I am screaming commands but to no avail. I finally got hold of her, put her in the house and when I calmed down I went out to garden and while digging about in my flower bed of Lavender and daisies I came upon a Chicken head just resting above the soil. My precious pooch had been killing my chickens and planting them in my garden. Now when we lived in Colorado the ranchers there took care of chicken killing dogs by tying the dead chicken around the dogs neck and after some time when the ranchers couldn't stand the smell any longer they removed it and from what I have been told the dogs never bothered the chickens again. I couldn't bring myself to do this so I just got rid of the chickens

Joan Clark

Oh yes, I must say you are the kind of precious neighbor I want and I agree, a book is the best gift of all!!!

Katherine Albrecht

Kristin, you say se rebaisser (with an e after the r)

but then the audio file shows

Je me suis rabaissée devant le potager, en visant mon plant préféré. Et puis, je l'ai arraché!

Should the audio file be je me suis rebaissée (with an e after the r, not an a)???

With curiosity ...

Jean Lillibridge

anxiously waiting to see what the neighbor said. Jean Lillibridge

Michelle C

I am in the process of building a chicken coop with an attached run. I have been interested in raising chickens for some time now and I've finally begun the process. I live down a private dirt road, without any neighboring dogs, but there are plenty of other predators; coyotes, raccoons, weasels and lots of feral cats. I have made sure to build the run strong and with plenty of room so that the chickens can be safely and comfortably confined. I can totally understand the anger and sorrow that your neighbors must feel, but it is also their responsibility to keep there pets safe. Enjoy Jane Goodall! She is someone that I truly admire.


Hi Kristin - thanks for sharing. This must not have been easy for you and I look forward to reading what your neighbor's reaction to your apology was! I know you will enjoy meeting Jane Goodall. She is truly inspirational.


I hope the apology was accepted. Are you going to compensate the neighbor for the loss of her livestock? If the chickens are part of her livelihood their loss means loss of money, just as someone's out-of-control pet horse trampling down your vines would mean loss of money to you.

How about creating a fenced dog run on your property so that the dogs have some place to play unsupervised without the danger that they will trespass or destroy the property of others? Training, as many others have suggested, is obviously a basic dog-owner responsibility but it only goes so far. In the face of chickens or other animals to chase, instinct takes over.


"It is only when we can believe we are creating the soul that life has any meaning, but when we can believe it -- and I do and always have -- then there is nothing we do that is without meaning and nothing we suffer that does not hold the seed of creation in it."

From May Sarton's Journal of Solitude.

Suzanne Dunaway

How about buying them three new beautiful chickens??? Whatever they wish. Rhode Island Reds, Aruncanas...whatever will replace their chickens.
Were the chickens pets or for the pot?
I must say, too, that a dog trainer sounds like a good start, according to one of your reader's comments.

Chris Allin

Such grace, humility and courage you have, Kristin. I hope your neighbor responds in kind~



I now have several of your books and have just recently begun following your blog. My hope is to retire in Aix en Provence in the next few years and your books and stories give me great inspiration! Hang in there!

Ellen from B.H.

I don't know how you do it, but you manage to write about your feelings in such a completely honest way that it never sounds smug or phony or self-congratulatory. We feel what you feel, both pain and relief. What greater compliment could a writer receive?
Enjoy Jane Goodall. I'm sure she will be gracious enough to sign two books - especially if you let her know you will be sharing one with your readers.


I feel sorry for both you and your neighbor. You both have animals you love and when you lose one to death it does cause heart break. I hope there is forgiveness and then a plan set in motion so this accident can never happen again.


I do hope your neighbour was able to quickly forgive and forget. I could feel my skin prickling while reading about the pain and guilt you felt while kneeling in your garden. You are such a genuine, beautiful person! I can't imagine someone staying upset with you after an honest, humble apology. Looking forward to the next installment of the story!

I'm excited for you about the chance to see and listen to Jane Goodall. How wonderful that you don't even need to take the train to Paris for the occasion, that she's going to be closer to your home! I hope you will write about the experience. J. Goodall's new book is on my long list of books to read soon.

Kathryn Winslow

Kristen - The past few days, reading some of the discordant comments concerning the dogs/chickens issue, I have wished for Jules' cool, clear voice with her unique way of zeroing in on what needs to be said. Unfortunately, the very nature of your blog leaves you open to the sometimes negative comments of others, but you handle them with grace and sensitivity. Always trust your own judgment. How timely, the opportunity to hear Jane Goodall, one of the world's experts on animal behavior and welfare! A bit of synchronicity there...
Kathryn in San Antonio


Stepping up and doing the right thing--huzzah, may your tribe increase!

Mon plant préféré c'est le "Scarlet Runner Bean." Tres jolie, et comestible aussi!

joie in carmel-by-the-sea

I have refrained from commenting for awhile....but no more. Dogs and any bird are not a match made in heaven. And you have "bird dogs". Wonderful dogs, that you and your family love very much. I know you also love all living things and are sensitive to all. I am sure what you have done to confine them better is adequate, but sometimes they can be escapees. Mine just jumped the 6' fence or one of them dug under one side of the house and I caught her under the house attempting to dig out the other side! And, maybe, just maybe your neighbor should fence in her chickens....a large yard. You live in the country....are there foxes or raccoons or bobcats? They certainly are predators. i have several friends who live in the country and ALL of them have a fenced area for the chickens. I am sure your neighbor will understand and the two of you can work something out. One of the definitions for the word "neighbor" is "any person in need of one's help or kindness"(after biblical use).
Now, as Jane Goodall's book...if you get a signed copy....you keep it. i cannot think of anyone it would mean more to.

Kathleen from Connecticut

I too am waiting for Part 2. An apology and the plant are good,but you should also reimburse them for the chickens. It would make for better neighbors and the dogs,unfortunately either need an electric fence or a larger fenced in area. I know that is it difficult because you thought that you were in a more countrified area, but I guess not.
When I was growing up, our dog (a Husky) got loose and attacked a neighbor's chickens, but I don't know if my parents reimbursed them or what. I hope so.
You don't want them harming your dogs, so be proactive and do something now to proctect them.

Bon chance!



I echo Kathryn's (in San Antonio) and Joie's comments above-- to a T. Can't really add more to their thoughts, so well-expressed they were. You are a beautiful jewel set upon earth's glorious crown. And in this dark moment you are shining bright! Bon courage... Alisa

Luann Marie

Every spring and summer I delight in growing herbs on my apartment balcony and bringing them to neighbors and to friends and to neighbors who have become friends! This year I'm trying to add some more scent to the garden with White Moonflowers (to bloom at night) along with the Morning Glorys' daytime beauty.


Comfrey! I never thought about planting some of the highly useful - and from your photo, very pretty - herb in my gardens. I will have to see if it will thrive here in Zone 4, Minnesota.

Best wishes to you!

catharine ewart-touzot

this dog/chicken affair has caused more comments than I have seen in a long time!..I know that you have provided what should be adequate restraints..I had an incident today, and I had not provided any ..my dog loves to go bark at the neighbors dog, behind the fence to say hello every morning..my dog, Hannah is 12 and this is the most fun she has, so I was content and happy for her to do so. This morning the other neighbor to the side came over outraged that he had to hear this barking every day...and I honestly never thought about him...so the moral is I have to be more aware and considerate. I think you have certainly become more aware and more considerate..perhaps you could offer to build a pen for her chickens..it would protect them from an escape by your dogs and any other predictors in the area..and you all could rest easier.

Lynne Sansone

Hi Kristin,
Looking forward to hearing what happens next ... Two of my favorite flowers are lilacs and lily of the valley or muguet des bois. Lily of the valley is a beautiful symbol of Spring -- new beginnings, fresh starts. Always remember that no matter the gift, it is always the thought that counts. For it is in giving that WE receive. Your kind gesture of giving your most precious plant will be YOUR gift in return, regardless of the outcome. Here's to a fresh start with your neighbor. Bonne chance!!!!
Lynne S.

Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR

I am so glad you went to the neighbor. And I know you will do the right thing. I've been reading your posts for awhile and I KNOW you are a kind & loving person. Hang in there ----- you are doing the right thing.

I love outdoor plants but I live on the central coast of Oregon - and I find it challenging. I have a sunroom and I have gone 100% old school ----I have collected all of the 70's & 80's indoor plants. The spider plant, asp fern, boston fern, African violets, wandering jew (can you still say that?) creeping charlie, etc. I love these plants, and I love to collect cuttings.

Enjoy Ms. Goodall! If you get her to sign the book --- keep it!!

Stay well!

Diane Young

I agree with others - bravo for having the guts to face your neighbor and apologize and gifting her with a plant. Work on some kind of pen for the Labs and offer to help build some kind of pen for the chickens. Surely they're not running loose? There are a lot of animals who would be tempted to attack them and in the country, loose dogs, etc., would be a threat. It's a complicated situation for sure. Keep the book; you need it.
God bless you for your contrite heart. Time heals all wounds, c'est vrai?

Carolyn Chase

Reaching out, one person to the next, is the best way to work anything out. Energy of one is "read" by the other, merely when in proximity. Touch unites us as common beings with all our attributes, good and bad. I hope that your encounter helped to heal in you what was not really a wrong you had committed but circumstances - crafty dogs, an opportune moment, and a temptation responded to by the dogs' nature.

Jo Ann Gryder

I just finished another ex-pat book by Amy
Thomas which focuses on les patisseries in Paris! But I am totally hooked on Kristin's writing!


Our dearest Kristi,
You have the most beautiful spirit and heart.What a wonderful gesture to your neighbors.And additionally,you are really making an important effort to make certain that these events don't happen again.(!)
What a fantastic opportunity to hear Jane Goodall speak.It for certain will be something to remember always.(I still regret missing Mother Teresa!)
I so look forward to the privilege of you sharing her words with us.
Natalia XO

Gina C.

T'es vrai, plants do make a great gift. my favourite is the Peace Lily - so beautiful, symbolic and thankfully both resilient and forgiving!

Debra Hayes

Your concern and heartache over your dogs misadventures come through very strongly. I respect your guts in facing the aggrieved party: it's not the easy thing to do, but it is the right thing to do.

Nancy, San Antonio, Texas

The dogs are just being dogs. But your neighbors chickens need to be replaced and the dogs need to be enclosed - electronic fence with collars is what comes to mind. I hate reminding you of this but you love those dogs and farmers can shot dogs that kill their stock. You would never forgive yourselves if that happened. It is a very big problem but I am sure you and family can figure out a solution.

Mary in Oregon

Sharing your beautiful Comfrey plant is very generous so I am hoping your neighbor loves it as much as you do. Perhaps you can make several starts of the plant so you will have more than one throughout your garden.
My animaux sauvage that eat everything near me are the deer! I live in a city in Oregon, but in a wooded area with tall Douglas Fir trees with little sunlight. I love to garden, but I haven't been able to do it here...
Everyone else has many ideas about the dogs/chickens so I won't add to it! Bonne chance avec ton voisine.

Angela George

My favorite tree is a Magnolia tree I have in my yard. Looking forward to reading the rest of your story.

Karen from Phoenix

What a beautiful heartfelt story today. I know how badly you feel and I am sure your neighbor will forgive. Talking it through she will see how sincere and truly sorry you are for what happened.

I can't wait to hear about Jane Goodall's talk and I agree if you get a signed copy you keep it!!!


Pamela Blair

My plant story involves you, Kristin. After you mentioned sending your friend the Survival Seed Vault, heirloom seeds, for Christmas, I went to their website and ordered both the Survival Seed Vault and the Culinary Herb Garden for my partner, who had been wanting a new project for our country garden. She's planting them this week, some in wine barrels and others in her garden. Thanks for the wonderful idea.
As for dogs and chickens, our labrador roams freely in our country neighborhood, too, and so far we've been lucky not to have had your misfortune. But I can truly empathize with how you must have felt, and the awkward situation with your neighbor. What a good idea to have given her the comfrey plant. I hope its healing qualities soothed her wounded feathers a bit.

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
It takes a lot of courage to knock on someone's door not knowing what they will do or say. I am hoping she looked at you with sympathy and graciously accepted your apology and the beautiful plant from your garden. What else is there to do? That's all anyone can ask and just the simple gesture of apologizing, will make the hardest hearts melt sometimes. One of my favorite plants is Borage which I planted for the first time last year! The bees love it! I just found out it is edible too!

Jan greene

Oh Kristin, so many different sorts of advice! I am afraid the dogs would get those chickens again and then a plant would not be enough. I must say the electric fence worked for us but you must keep an eye on them because other dogs or worse can still come in the yard. But, at least you would not have chicken worry!
We just planted impatience ( sp?) as finally Spring comes to cape cod!
Enjoy the Jane talk!

Rosalind Mustafa

Your heart would never allow you to purposely harm your neighbor or anything belonging to her. A mistake has been made, but it was just that: a mistake, an accident that if you could have prevented, you would have. May your neighbor's heart open to your apology and let your words of regret prompt a stronger bond between the two of you. You have done what you can. Now, it is up to your neighbor to extend a hand of understanding.

Dee Carson, Sarasota FL

Chere Kristin,
Que tu es vraiment une personne sincere et brave. J'attends avec impatience la reaction de tes voisins face a l'aveu de ta culpabilite. Et offrant la lettre et ton beau gage de reconciliation, j'espere que tout va bien. Et pour l'avenir aussi, que ce probleme soit résolu.
J'adore mon arbuste, le Brazilian Red Cloak. Il est en fleur et enorme Presque 9 mois de l'an.
Amities, Dee

edie schmidt


Certainly there's something to the healing power of plants. Enjoy Jan Goodall's talk. I'm sure it will be a wonderful one. She's always been a heroine of mine.

Edie from Savannah


My heart has been heavy for quite some time but I always find comfort in reading your posts. You are a very sympathetic and empathetic person and you handle each difficult situation you encounter with a special grace and humility. I can't wait to read the second half of the story and hear about you meeting Jane Goodall. How exciting! My favorite plant are irises because they were my mom's and her mom's favorite so I think of them whenever I see them. Good luck with your apology!


One of my favorite plants is Lemon Verbena. I use it for tea and to flavor buttermilk panna cotta. Mmmmm.

Debbie Houston

Kristin, don't beat yourself up. I had a dog I adopted from Humane Society who had been abused. Over course of about 10 years, she had bitten 3 people, one a child. (The child teased the dog, & I told her to stop. But she wouldn't listen.) Do you know horrible I felt? I tried my best not to allow this, but dogs & people are unpredictable. Each time, no one made me feel worse than I already felt. In fact, they totally understood why an abused dog would react the way she did, the dog only wanted to protect us. So, it was a few chickens! Apologize & let it go.


My favorite plant is Lily of the Nile. It's hardy here in hot So. California and once a year it sprouts a flower on a rather tall stem. To me it marks the coming of summer and I'm always sad to see the flower die in mid-July.

It's up to the neighbor how it will end, not up to you. If she wants to forgive and forget, she will. If she wants to hold on to the loss of you and the chickens, then that's what's going to happen. No matter what happens, that's how life goes. So don't fret either way. C'est la vie.

Janine Burge

Aujourd'hui, j'ai travaillé dans mes jardins pour quatre heures. Mon pommier est joli avec des fleurs. Vos jardins sont très beaux.

Leslie NYC

Hello, Kristin.
How many emotions must you feel at one time right now?
What if we all trusted both you and your neighbor to do the best thing?
Your writing is so successful because it makes all of us anxious and highly invested in the events of your life!
My favorite flower this month is Lily-of-the-valley. I know that friends exchange this on May Day in France. Our season is so late that they are at their peak in NYC this week. I slept with a glass of them on the bookcase behind my bed and kept thinking during the night, 'I am sleeping in the middle of a fairy tale.' Pure magic. Heavenly scent.

esther  buchsbaum

je viens de lire cet blogue, et il m'amuse bien. merci.


I have a rose that was rooted for my mother by a dear friend when she was just a girl to be planted in the garden just outside her first house. When my mother finally married, the rose was transplanted to the garden of her new house. Through the years my mother shared a little of herself as she gave cuttings to others who were moving into their very first house. With my first house, came my Mother's rose. I will soon pass a cutting on to my daughter, so even though my mother is no longer here, a little of her soul lingers in the blossoms of the roses that grow outside my house. Sharing from the heart heals many wounds. Perhaps your neighbor will choose to forgive, but if she chooses not to, you have shared a little of your soul grown wiser in the soil of your garden with the hope it may take root one day.


Has anyone ever told you that even your hand writing looks French. I lived in Paris for a year some time ago and I still cross my sevens. Thanks foe sharing such great stories.


I can't wait to hear the rest of the story! You were very brave to face your neighbor. Hoping your meeting had a good ending. I love your heart!

Aletta Penning

Looking forward to the next instalment. As one gets older I find it easier to me rebaisser than in ealier years - only I do not have any comfrey, wilted or otherwise.


I heard the first part of Goodall's speech. She is amazing but I was too upset by the long wait in line with a smoker in front of my to stay to get an autograph.

I would therefore love to win the book you had signed. My favorite plant is a yesterday, today and tomorrow - it has purple, white and lavender leaves that bud in sequence. My grandmother planted one in front of her house and my mother wanted to do the same but we could never get the transplant from Louisiana to Georgia to work. It is a beautiful, delicate, yet fragile plant. Much like Smokey I guess.

Nancy,                     Cambridge

Back in the days when one could bring seeds from France (carefully toasted, so nothing was growing on them)..I planted the tiny grains from the most beautiful largest coquillicot that I could find. For 20 years they bloomed without fail for my daughter's birthday. One year. the contracter was renovating my house, so I carefully moved the bed of flowers out of the way of the heavy machinery. Unfortunately, no one one told me that the safe place I had chosen was exactly the place they were going to dig a hole! No matter how often I look, those flowers have never reappeared again. So, I know we can become attached to flowers.
Good luck with the chicken/dog fiasco; you may end up buying some hens!


You are so brave to share with us "real life" that we all experience - loss, pain, humility. It helps us all. I must, however cast my vote for electronic collars/fence and proper training for your dogs, and replacing the chickens (or reimbursing them the value for chicks). It is the right thing to do. Do it quickly and inform your neighbor of your plan for the dogs when you present the money or chicks. I love your blog, but cannot bear to read another story about your pets wandering off. It is dangerous and not fair to them.

Elaine, Arkansas

What a cliffhanger! Kristin, whatever the neighbor's response, I know God is smiling on you for bringing 'the best'. I've had to apologize for my dogs' actions a few times over the years as well, not for a chicken feast but for getting loose/trampling gardens, etc. Sam, Daisy, and Lily Belle were always forgiven, and I think I was too. Praying that you will make a new friend in the process.


Your writing delivers a reaction to the visceral level that is immediate and powerful and my heart was pounding as I visualized you walking and knocking on your neighbors door, the suspense is building waiting for your next
blogpost; and I might add with sincerity, hopefully a happy conclusion.


Cynthia Lewis

Your readers and admirers have written such good advice and encouraging heartfelt words to you as you try to do the right thing in a difficult situation. If anyone in the world could make amends, it would be you with your kind and sensitive heart. Somehow a foolproof way to prevent Braise and Smokey from wandering must be found. If something were to happen to them, we would all be heartbroken.

Jane Goodall has to be one of the most exceptional scientist in the world; how exciting to be going to hear her speak. If you are able to obtain a signed book of hers, do keep it in your own library.

The peony has to be my favorite flower....blooms just around Mother's Day in this area. My best wishes.


WOW maybe the dogs killed your cats too? Better get a shorter leash - house pets (including cats) should not be allowed to run wild as it is too dangerous for them.

Deborah Blaz

Borage! Breaded lightly and fried.....crispy and delicious. The flowers are beautiful (and edible) in salads, too. They are the pretty blue star-shaped ones you see in the margins of medieval manuscripts.


I feel a lot of pain here lately. I hope things are getting better. You seem like such a nice person.

judith carlson

Chere Madame, SVP...
Do you not think it would be good to buy the neighbor lady some new young chickens to replace the eaten ones? Years ago, my dogs took down a neighbor's young calf and we bought him another one...kind regards,

judith carlson

PS to previous...
And many years later, we finally have a good stout fence enclosing our 6 acres...it works quite well...I recommend it highly...

Bonne chance,

Susan Kissel

We have neighbors who aren't crazy about our dogs so I feel for you. maybe she'll put a fence up. You did the right thing and hopefully your neighbor will become a friend, and dog lover. Maybe one day she will bring you some eggs.
I did not know of this book so even if I don't win, thank you for telling us about it.

Andrea Hughes

Kristin, I really do know how you feel! Years ago I managed to run over a neighbor's cat (and it belonged to a young girl!) with my car as I was heading to my house at the end of the street! It had run out from under a parked car, so I had no view of the cat at all so as to avoid it! Nonetheless I felt horrible!!
At the moment of impact I knew I had struck something but only realized what it was until I parked my car and returned to the area of impact. By that time the neighbor was already hosing the street clean of the evidence! I of course apologized on the spot!
Upon returning home I decided to write the family a letter of apology, offering to replace the family pet with a new one of their choosing. They declined the offer but appreciated the sincerity of the gesture.

GwenEllyn Anderson (amie de Michel Weddle qui a travaillé avec Jane)

Dites "bonjour" à Jane de la part de ses amis à Salem, Oregon, s.v.p.!

Zoe Willet

1. Why didn't you get her some chickens? A plant for chickens just doesn't do it for me.
2. Why don't you fence (maybe invisible) your property, or if it's too big, fence an enclosure for the dogs?

Sue Whelan

Your willingness to eloquently expose the tender parts of your soul is the reason I read your blog, as I also speak French. I hope your neighbour responds to your kind gesture. As Zoe suggested, offering to replace the chickens is a good idea. To your neighbour, they are a lost investment. I'm sure you will find the right solution.

Warmest regards from Canada,


Oh la la!
We have had similar experiences after our young dog mauled neighbouring farmers' lambs - for which we were obliged to pay. Awful situation. Hopefully the total solution is not too costly for you.
My favourite flower is a rose - flamboyant reds or so delicate pastels.
Merci, Kristin and good luck!

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