BUTÉ: A Phantom Pregnancy, A Hysterectomy & A New Job + French word for Stubborn
Il devait en être ainsi: Meant to be (predestined) in French: A Chance Encounter with some Ceyrestens

Jamais Deux Sans Trois: Road Rage, A Flat Tire (Bad Things Come in Threes)

Jules passenger looking over the vineyard in St Cyr sur Mer
"Precious Cargo." Jules, at Mas des Brun vineyard in St Cyr-sur-Mer (That's Jean-Marc in the pink shirt, behind his tractor)

TODAY'S WORD: Jamais Deux Sans Trois

    : bad things come in threes

Are you an expat in France (or anywhere outside the US) and need to file your taxes?
Good news: you have an automatic extension through June 17. I am using Expatfile again this year to complete mine quickly and easily, and highly recommend it. Click here.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Last week may have been the most challenging since my husband left for New Zealand. On Sunday, owing to an old and faulty serrure on our front door, I found myself locked out of the house upon returning from church. I hurried around the corner to Mom’s, put all the groceries I’d just bought into her frigo, and ran back to carefully work the key lest it break inside the lock. Forty-five minutes later, the sluggish lock relented. Quel miracle! Another answered prayer, along with the relief of stepping into a cool house! Despite the initial victory, the week was full of trials, each day punctuated by some disaster or another, whether that was Ricci busting a stitch (she nibbled the area) following her operation or the bathroom sink leaking again. And can you believe it all ended with un pneu crevé?

I was lying in bed at week’s end, agonizing about the car when my daughter came into the room. It was 11 at night and she’d just finished a long shift at a bar in Cassis. “Don’t worry about the flat tire, Mom. I'll take care of it.” The next day Ms. Fix-It bought one of those aerosol tire inflators–le dépanne-crevaison for 15 bucks (everyone should have one in their bagnole!), filled the tire with air, and drove to a nearby garage to have both back tires changed. Next, she phoned Max’s girlfriend, Ana, to ask her to drive Grandma and me to the next appointment in Gardanne. (Having unknowingly pierced the tire on the way home from Thursday’s rendez-vous, Jules and I were lucky the tire didn’t burst, sending us skidding across the autoroute!) 

Autoroute south of france
Who wouldn't be skittish when 18 lanes merge after this toll?! Better hurry over to the right, exit Toulon!

"Mom, you are out of practice. Let Ana drive you this time!” As bad as the week was, it was a lesson in asking for help, something that is hard for so many of us. Why is that so? 

Meantime, there was at least one funny moment (and a few misunderstandings) among all the little fiascos last week. The first malentendu happened when Mom showed up at the house, ready for our ride to the clinic. After Mom had carefully washed from head to toe with iodine for her clinic visit, I was surprised to see her wearing the mink hat she had found at the charity shop a few years ago.

“Mom, you’ll need to take off that hat,” I said, remembering that only sterile clothes could be worn after the special antiseptic shower.
“Well, I didn’t know my hat was controversial!” came Mom’s response.

“Oh, Mom!” I sighed, growing increasingly agitated.

It wasn’t until two weeks later that I understood Mom’s words. It was a simple misunderstanding between us (she thought I was judging her fur hat, while my only concern was the iodine bath!). I wish, instead of getting mad, I had simply asked Mom, “What do you mean by that?”

Onto misunderstanding number two and three…

Back in Marseille, arriving for Mom’s eye appointment, I was slowing down in time to look for a parking spot when the guy behind me began blaring his horn. It's been a while since I've experienced la fureur routière, or road rage, given I don't drive often. I cannot share with you here the string of four-letter words he hurled at me, this after an already nerve-racking drive to Marseille. Finally, I pulled aside, letting Monsieur Gros Mot pass. That is when I noticed another patient returning to his car. Quelle chance!

Excusez-moi, Monsieur. Vous partez?” I asked the man who was paused at the wall beside his car, his back toward me. He didn’t seem to hear me so I got out of my vehicle and began to approach when I recognized his curbed posture. Oh! Le monsieur fait pipi… 

Discreetly as possible I returned to the car and, for his dignity and my own, peeled off out of sight to the lower parking lot where, lo and behold, I ran into Monsieur Gros Mot again. I studied my pire ennemi: a thin man wearing a cap. He had found a parking spot and was now darting into the clinic, late, late for a very important date! I made a mental note to have a word with him in the salle d’attente. It might be a very awkward moment but after chauffeuring my precious cargo to her doctor's appointment, only to be raged at, my adrenaline was just ripe enough to give Gros Mot a piece of my mind.

Meantime, Mom pointed out a parking spot under the shade of a mulberry tree, and with great relief our 45-minute trajet ended. We made it to Jules' appointment on time.

The doctor, wearing a surgical cap and glasses, seemed pressed, nevertheless, he was thorough. He hesitated before leading us past a full waiting room, to an office where he had another machine. There he took the time to examine Mom’s eyes until he concluded, “I cannot give your mom the eye injection today. She has inflammation in both eyes. C'est l'uvéite.” 

The eye doctor dictated a note to a colleague before giving me the address of a specialist in Gardanne. All I could think at that moment was, how am I going to drive there, given the morning’s stressful voyage? (Thankfully Jackie and Ana would solve this problem for me later that day.)

On the way home, hesitating at a fork in the road before the freeway entrance I hit a curb and the car lurched. Ouf! That was close! I made it onto the freeway and even passed a few semi-trucks. It wasn’t until later that evening that I saw the flat tire and realized our good fortune after Mom and I didn’t have our tire blow up!

There was a lot to be thankful for including the experienced eye doctor who had taken his time with Mom. 60-something with a wiry build and longish salt and pepper hair, it suddenly dawned on me: the doctor looked just like Monsieur Gros Mot back at the parking lot….

No! He couldn’t be! I thought, of the potential ironic twist in our morning adventure. Then again both men were pressed and in a hurry... Could it be that Gros Mot was the eye doctor who was late for the afternoon shift? The thought of a villain-turned-virtuous amused me to no end. Well, speaking of endings, Tout est bien qui finit bien! All’s well that ends well. We had a caring doctor (no matter who he might have been before he walked into that office). It all goes to show it is never too late to put your best foot forward, de faire de son mieux :-) 

Update: Ana drove us to the appointment at the specialist’s in Gardanne, where Mom received some bad news. It is a severe case of bilateral uveitis and she’ll need to go the the hospital in Marseilles for more tests and possibly some antibiotics to treat an infection. Please keep Jules in your thoughts and prayers. And thanks to our angel driver Ana, who offered to drive us to Marseilles for an afternoon of testing, this Tuesday, for Mom.

To leave a comment or a helpful correction, click here.



Click here to listen to the French pronunciation

jamais deux sans trois = bad things come in threes
la serrure = lock
le frigo = fridge
quel miracle! = what a miracle!
le pneu crevé = flat tire
le dépanne crevaison = aerosol tire repair and inflator
la bagnole = car (in informal French)
l'autoroute (f) = freeway
le rendez-vous = appointment
le malentendu = misunderstanding
la fureur routière = road rage
quelle chance!
= what luck!
Excusez-moi, Monsieur. Vous partez? = Excuse me, Sir. Are you leaving?
faire pipi = to go pee
Monsieur Gros Mot = Mr. FoulMouth
le pire ennemi = worst enemy
la salle d'attente = waiting room 
le trajet = trip, journey
l'uvéite = uveitis, inflammation of the uvea
ouf! = whew!
Tout est bien qui finit bien! = All’s well that ends well
faire de son mieux = to put your best foot forward 


Mille mercis to the following readers for sending in a blog donation this past week. This is a reader-supported journal and I appreciate your help in keeping it going!

Lori R.
Erin K.
Donna B.
C-Marie P.
Patricia N.

I love your work! --Lori

Thank you for the fun adventures, Kristi!! And good health to Ricci and blessings to Jacqui!! --C-Marie

Ana and Max
My son Max and his girlfriend, Ana. Picture taken in a Photomaton, or photo booth. Did you catch a typo in this post? Thanks for letting me know in the comments.

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.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
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.


Le monsieur fait pipi...

Suzanne Dunaway

OH, hugs to Jules and bonne chance for those eyes! So awful to have your eyes out of whack and brava for Ana who will take your maman to have her check up. 1986? WOW, I wish I still had my license. Probably wouldn't recognize myself at all....

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Odile, for your help with the French. I often make the same mistake! Off to correct it!


Oh poor Jules! It’s not fun having lots of hospital appointments and tests but I know she will get through it all really well with your help, and the staff in the hospitals here are always so kind.
Lots of love to you all Diana 😘😘


Bless you and Jules! Healing vibes and gentle hugs on the wind.
Exhale! You are doing as best as you can under the circumstances.
You are a marvel. xx


Prières pour Jules! Life - the same struggles, just different locations. :-) Blessings!

Cate Salenger

My stepdaughter tells me it's Mercury in Retrograde. I hope so because that means it will change. Since April 1, my 88 year old bully, half-crazy, slightly demented husband ran his car into the front of Trader Joe's (grocery shopping). He believes it was the car's fault. This little problem resulting in his license suspension has created a fault line in our home. In the last three weeks, my washing machine broke, my microwave broke and now it's my dryer. The repair person doesn't seem capable, or is it willing, to actually fix anything.

Loved your story. Humor is everything.

Patricia Sands

Sending good wishes to Jules ... and the whole family ... thank goodness for those young drivers pitching in to help! Things can only get better! Bisous


"la fureur"


Oh my, Kristi, I am so sorry to hear about Jules' eye infection and your misadventures with circumstances and inconsiderate people. Nevertheless, you have steadfastly found the silver lining or the saving person in each circumstance. If you have never heard of Julian of Norwich (born 11/8/1342), I suggest you read a little about her because you have some of her same optimism and like you, she was a woman writer, the first woman writer in print if I am not mistaken. Julian is remembered for her expression, "All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well..." I will remember you and yours in my prayers.

Stacy Lund

What a week of “one thing after another”!!! It’s wonderful that your family is there to support and help you. Look at the poppies - proud and full of cheerful color - reminding you to cherish your roots and blossom! You’ve got this! Prayers for Jules healing!

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)