avoir les chocottes
la honte!



Chief Grape in his tractor. (Photo taken earlier this month.) The vines are now leafy green and those bushes, in the foreground, are covered with sweet-scented, golden, Scottish-broomy buds.

Un update on Jean-Marc's test results in today's story: "Light at the end of the Tonnerre"...

Correction: The pronunciation for chocotte, or "to have the jitters" (and nothing to do with "chochotte", or "a fussbudget / fusspot"), is updated here.

le tonnerre (toh nair)

    : thunder

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the following example sentence and the expressions below: Download MP3 or Wav file

Le tonnerre ne vient pas au même moment que l'éclair.
Thunder does not come at the same time as lightning. 

un coup de tonnerre = clap, peal, of thunder, thunderbolt
un tonnerre d'applaudissements = thunderous applause
du tonnerre = terrific, wonderful, fantastic
Tonnerre de Dieu! (or "de Brest!")! = heavens above, or hell's bells!


A Day in a French Life by Kristin Espinasse

"Light at the End of the Tonnerre"

After the pounding thunderclap, I burrowed farther into my husband's arms. Lying there we looked out the bedroom window to the flash of lumière.

Out of blackness, the vineyard became illuminated, every leafy vine coming into view, the stones beneath them glistening. Overhead, a jagged hand of lightning pointed downward, like a conductor's swift command, and the field below was awash in the melody of light.

I listened to Jean-Marc count quietly: un, deux, trois...

A breath of French numbers tickled the back of my neck. 

... quatre, cinq, six...

I recognized his "distance of lightning" calculation. The seconds, divided, correspond to the number of kilometers between us and that threatening bolt.

... onze, douze, treize...

The counting trailed off. In the wait between time and space, I asked Jean-Marc to repeat the nurse's exact words concerning the test results for the kidney biopsy he had two weeks ago.  

"Rien d'alarmant."

I repeated his answer, as I had when we first heard it, and again in the hours between then and now. "Rien d'alarmant"....

"Oui, Chérie," Jean-Marc agreed, his arms reenforcing his hold on me. 

We lie there in peace, having stopped counting the distance of lightning. After twelve seconds and twelve long days that menacing thunderbolt never came.


Post note: Apart from the assurance that "rien d'alarmant" showed up in the biopsy results, we have no further details from the medical exam. Jean-Marc is to return to the doctor's in three weeks (the soonest the nurse could schedule him in) for an evaluation.  

Le Coin Commentaires
To respond to this story, click here to access the comments box. Merci d'avance! 


French Vocabulary

la lumière = light

un, deux, trois... = one, two, three...

quatre, cinq, six... = four, five, six

onze, douze, treize... = eleven, twelve, thirteen...

rien d'alarmant = nothing alarming

oui, Chérie = yes, Dear


"Flower Boy". Smokey-Doodle says: You always hear about Flower Girls...

Smokey: "Why is it that Flower Boys never get any attention? (There I am, Flower Geek, in the background...)"

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


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Kristine, Dallas

Praise God for the news of 'rien d'alarmant'! I know this brings some relief after a long period of unrest. Prayers continue for you all.

Be joyful as today is the day the Lord has made!



Oh, Kristin! First, I must say I am so happy that everything is okay! Second, after reading your blog for so many years, this is my very favorite post, not only because it contains good news, but the way you wove it in with the story about thunder was so beautiful. What a tender, touching moment - gave me chills! Best wishes for continued good health to you and your family!!

Betty (up for the royal wedding)

A world-wide exhaling of breath and giving thanks for prayers answered. Was there celebrating or just a sense of peace pervading?

Jackie Sand

What a relief. The story was very touching and tender. May the wonderful news continue.
Soyez patients!

L. M. Davies

Woot! What great news to wake up to! And you even gave us a story to cradle that wonderful news: 'rien d'alarmant' - now there's a phrase I'll remember!
Much love,


Good news, I am so glad for you both. And the fact that there wasn't an appointment for three weeks reinforces that it's "rien d'alarmant". I imagine they keep the early appointments for the people who do have "quelque chose d'alarmant".

Bill in St. Paul

I agree "rien d'alarmant" is good news. Like J-M when we're having a thunderstorm I always start counting when there's a flash of lightening, it's gotten so I can't help it. What's the "formula" for calculating how many kilometers away the lightening was? As our dear Golden Theo aged he became very afraid of the thunder. So much so that one time we had to put him in the bathroom in the basement where we thought he'd feel safe. Unfortunately, he got in the cabinet under the sink and chewed through the (plastic) pipes to the sink. Now we had an extremely agitated and wet dog!

Karen W  (Towson, Maryland)

This is such a beautiful and tender post today, Kristin. I am so happy and relieved that I want to run through the fields like "Flower Boy"!!

Paul Heffron

Great news, Kristin! What a relief!


This made me cry with happiness for what you have(relief and a great love) more than for what you don't(bad kidney news). It's a beautifully written story. Thank you for your courage, candor, and generosity as a writer.

Suzanne, Monroe Twp., NJ

Fabulous news! Kiss Jean-Marc for me (trois temps)! I think we'll pop a bottle of Domaine Rouge-Bleu rose tonight to celebrate. Like the others, I appreciated today's post and interweaving the stories.

Julie Schorr

So happy to hear the news that there is "rien d'alarmant". I know all of you must be very relieved!
I use to count during thunderstorms as well. I miss the thunderstorms in Missouri where I grew up. I don't get to experience many in San Diego. When I lived in Aix-en-Provence, I was surprised by the violent thunder storms in Provence at times. Your blog reminded me of this souvenir de Provence!


So very happy for all of you at this wonderful news. Todays story is beautifully written -- very touching and tender. Amities, Nancy

Jan in Colorado

What a relief! After such a long period of uncertainty, the good news is even more welcome. You nailed it with your story today--masterful in the way you wove the "rien d'alarmant" diagnosis into the thunderous moment. I can hear a collective sigh of relief from your blog family around the world. Now you can settle back into your "normal" life, appreciating each other even more. Cheers!

Bruce T. Paddock

Wonderful news! And once again, delivered in such a clever way. Congratulations on both counts.


Merci, Seigneur.....xo

Candy in SW KS

Smokey's romp through the flowers is a celebratory exclamation! We are all so relieved with "rien d'alarmant"! And let us all learn from Smokey how important it is to "smell the flowers" in spite of the thunder! (How's that for mixed metaphors?!) Sending hugs and blessings to you in your beautiful Provence kingdom.

Georgia Catasca

Good News.

You both inspire me .



Excellent news about the test results. And as the doctor doesn't want to see J-M for another three weeks this is confirmation that all is well. If there had been a problem a much earlier appointment would have been made.

A small typo: change 'lightening' to 'lightning.'

Georges Kirkwood

Great news for all your family. The relief must be enormous ! Several years ago I had sudden severe loin pain, diagnosed as renal colic. Further tests found kidney stones. Amazingly disolved with several treatments on an ultrasound machine. Thankfully - no operation AND no reoccurance! I was moved by the delicate way you shared your story and am delighted with the outcome. J-M is obviously Veeeeeeeeerryyy precious.


I am a new subscriber and I love it. I've been following your news. I want to say "YEAH". What a wonderful and heart felt post. Stay well and keep writing!


I have been awaiting Jean-Marc's test results and read today's post with my breath caught in my chest until I was sure "rien d'alarmant" meant what I thought it did! I am so happy and thankful for the good news!

By the way, when I was a child, my father and I would sit on the front porch during a thunderstorm and count out the seconds between the lightning and the thunder clap. This is a memory even more cherished now that my father is gone. So along with your wonderful good news, you also evoked a treasured memory. Thank you for both.


Un tonnerre d'applaudissements!
Atlanta, Georgia,US

Leah in sunny NE Illinois

Les mots, "rien d'alarmant," literally brought tears to my eyes (and I just put on my mascara, ugh!)! So happy to hear good news!

Linda Beck Cane

I didn't realize I was sort of holding my breath waiting for this post. What wonderful news, and put in the context of a storm that didn't materialize made it even more touching.
Thank you for sharing the news in such a lovely way.
Caldwell, NJ

Amy Kortuem

So tender! Lovely, Kristin. In Minnesota we had some snow-thunderstorms this winter. It was eerie and amazing to see the world all snowy and all lit up in those lightning blasts in January and February.

gail bingenheimer

Mis en bouteille au château Bottled at the chateau
Appellation contrôlée Designated growing area
La dégustation des vins Wine tasting
La vigne The vine
Le vignoble The vineyard
Les vendanges The harvest
La viniculture The wine industry
Le sommelier The wine waiter
Le grand cru Superior vintage
Un verre de rouge/blanc A glass of red wine/white wine
Une coupe de champagne A flute of champagne
Un litre de vin du pays A liter of wine (from a cooperative)
Un Bordeaux A bottle of Alsace wine
Un Bourgogne A bottle of Burgundy wine
Un Chablis A bottle of Chablis wine
Le terroir The soil, the land
La vallée de la Loire The Loire Valley
Visiter To visit
La région Sancerroise The Sancerre Region
Connu de par le monde World famous
Une ancienne tradition An ancient tradition
Les bonnes directions Good directions
Pour trouver To find
Un des meilleurs One of the best
Régionale Local (feminine)
Régionaux Local (plural)
Au moins At least
Du pinard Cheap wine
Un grand millésime A vintage wine

Jennifer in OR

Grateful the thunderbolt never came. The white flower at the bottom of your post is so pretty; the texture reminded me of crepe paper.


What a royal relief!

Suzanne Dunaway

Kristin, my husband does the same thing...uno, due, tre, quattro or in French, or in English sometimes and voila! The tonnere arrives just on time.
I am happy for your news, and await the 3 week discussion....
In each other's arms...that's all that matters.

Mary Ann Boysen

I have been praying that all would be well for "Chief Grape" and you! Thank God for good news.

Jan R.

love this post and am so happy and relieved for you at this good news!

Marianne Rankin

I looked up how to calculate how far away the lightning is. One counts the seconds either with a timepiece or by saying "one-one-thousand," etc. for each second. Take the total number of seconds between the lightning flash and divide by 5 to get distance in miles, or by 3 to get distance in kilometers. If, say, you counted 24 seconds, that would be about 8 kilometers or not quite 5 miles.

So glad J-M est en bonne sante!



I'm so happy to hear it's "rien d'alarmant!"

I hope that further evaluation brings only good news!


Dear Kristin and Jean-Marc,
I'm so happy with this news for both of you. I wasn't very worried.As in, not panicked for you. Somehow I felt it would be "rien d'alarmant!"

I wish I had some Domaine Rouge Bleu left to celebrate your good news.
Hoping for continued good news.


I have been away from things for a while and have just been catching things up. I am sorry for the health fright you both went through and wish you both the very best! Lightening seems to come awefully close sometimes and it's good to have a counting companion to help with our perspective.

Cynthia Lewis

Wonderful news!! Thank you for telling it to us in such a touching way. My wishes for continued good health, Cynthia

Sue J.

Great news! Stay well.

Jean-Marc Espinasse

A beautiful touching story from my talented writer wife and some great caring words... What can happen to me ?
Thanks a lot for your support.

Eileen deCamp

Beautiful story Kristin and great news for Jean-Marc!

Susan Carter

So glad for the good news about Jean-Marc and happy that you can breath easier now. Waiting for news is such a difficult task.


So happy about the rien d'alarmant and as Candy said, and as Smokey says "stop and smell the flowers. Now that you have the good news about Chief Grape, you can stop and smell the flowers with Smokey.


Bonjour Kristin et Jean-Marc!
Je suis un peu en retard, mais c'est chouette d'apprendre que tout va bien pour Jean Marc. Quel soulagement pour vous deux!
The photos you post are, as usual, very nice. It's always a feast for my eyes. Thank you, Kristin!

Zeiss conquest

Great story and beautiful pictures. France seems like a very beautiful country, I wish to visit it sometime before I die.

Audrey Wilson

What good news Kristin! I am so pleased for you & Jean Marc that this waiting is over .


Dear Kristin and Jean-Marc,

I've just returned from Normandie and didn't read my e-mails - a huge relief for you both and like everyone else your story fits perfectly.

xx Angela

Ophelia in Nashville

Just realized I missed this one! What a relief... Am so happy for you both. "Rien d'alarmant" is music to the ears. Love this cute story, too.


Cate Salenger

Thank heavens for the good news! I was imagining all the positive healing energy being sent your way from all of us, your devoted readers! xoxo

Marti Hinman

J'ai prie pour la sante de votre mari et le bon Dieu m'a ecoute. Pensez positivement et tout ira bien.
J'aime French Word a Day!!! et le audio avec JM.

Malheureusement mon e-mail ne me permet pas de mettre des accents.

nancy Rial

I just read this today...your best writing. Maybe read it again now, and find that peace again.

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