An Elephant in the Room? Chez moi?
A lively French expression + a creative use for an old T.V.!

To ask for guidance or advice in French

Jean-Marc and Kristi-golfing

Today's metaphor involves a bowling ball. With no such picture in my photo archives, I offer a not-so-close second: la balle de golf. (In the photo--taken in 2005, near Bandol--our daughter, then 8 years-old, seems to be imitating me. In reality, she's getting ready to roll down the grassy hill. Don't worry about the ball, it won't reach her. I won't even be able to hit it off the tee).

le conseil (kon-say)

    :  advice, counsel, guidance

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc: Download MP3 or Wav file

Le conseil. La nuit porte conseil.
Counsel. Night brings cousel.

A tool for improving your French pronunciation! At only $8 The book Exercises in French Phonetics is a great deal.


There is an encouraging dicton in French that promises: La nuit porte conseil ("night brings counsel"). Turning over in bed, I stared out the window--searching for the answer. There were several problems, but I began to sense one solution that would solve every single souci!

Like the bowling ball that knocks down all 10 pins, all I needed to do was to roll out of bed and continue in a straight line, on target! Action brings reward, and no sooner did I push back the bed covers when I heard barking on the horizon. The first pin was about to tumble! It seemed our missing dogs were back from their latest fugue. But I would need to catch them before they dashed off again.

I tied on my shoes and shot up the path behind our house, where Jean-Marc was watering his newly-planted grapevines. (If my husband wasn't chasing down our dogs the moment they appeared, it is because I have more luck coaxing Braise and Smokey back home.)

"They ran that way," Jean-Marc said, pointing his hose toward the woods. My husband's words ricocheted across the vine row, which may as well have been a line of deadpans--if such a variety of grapes existed. Of course it didn't, but there was no mistaking the emptiness in his voice. Obviously he was still smarting.

I paused in my tracks, feeling all the weight of my metaphoric bowling ball. And then I remembered: Just keep rolling. I'll eventually get to that pin: first the dog pin, then the husband pin!

I continued on, direction les chiens! Halfway up the forest path, my husband shouted: "If you want to find the dogs, I told you they went that way!"

Whereas my husband's voice had been empty, this time he seemed annoyed. Oh boy. We had a ways to go before patching things up again! Even as I ran toward the dogs, I was recalculating just how long it would now take to reach the husband pin, having understood his distance! 

No number appeared--for it was impossible to estimate how many minutes, hours, or days until I would reach the husband pin. I raced into the woods, reaching our two smiley golden retrievers. Amazing how well off they always are, just when I think they've been run over by the nearby TGV!

Gripping one dog collar in each hand, I turned toward home, fully intent on rolling right on past the grumbling husband pin. Forget him! Only, owing to the uneven terrain of the vineyard, and the dogs---which yanked me left and right--this prideful bride was delivered right to her husband's side!

(Around about here my bowling metaphor has lost steam, so we've thrown in a stubborn bride to keep things alive and kicking!)

The dogs paused as I came face to face with my husband and, looking at him, as if in a mirror, I recognized something: myself. That's when the number came to me. Zero. In no time at all we could make up--if we would just see the other's pain and feel compassion.

"Thank you," I mumbled, motioning to the found dogs. It was all I could manage before Braise and Smokey yanked me away, to the left, to the right--all the way down the path towards home.

When I got there I moved the bouquet of wilting wildflowers inside.  They had sat outside in a bucket for two days--ever since my husband collected them for me, apologetically. It was time to accept them. Time to protect them.


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Related Stories:

French Vocabulary
le dicton = saying
le souci = worry
la fugue = running away
le chien = dog
le TGV = Train à Grande Vitesse, high-speed train 

 Wildflower bouquet
You should have seen these 3 or 4 days ago! The wild gladiolas have withered, but the flowers are still in good shape. Can you name some of them? Jean-Marc tells me that every specimen was taken from the field where he just planted his baby vines. In the background you can see Mom's painting of Jean-Marc's wine. And that's Jean-Marc's grandfather's couch. The neat thing about this old canapé, is the way the arms fold down. Jean-Marc's grandfather napped there, and JM likes to rest here too.

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


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Eileen deCamp

The flowers are in good shape and so is your relationship. Relationships are a lot like flowers. They need water to grow. We water relationships with communication, honesty, care, love and LOTS of patience. You can always return to the roots, what kinds of things made you fall in love in the beginning.

Roger Anderson

Uh...Kristin, that's a putter in your hands, it's for putting on the greens! :-)

Dawn Willey

Always, always enjoy sharing time with you, Kristin. Thank you again

Adeline Richarson Reunion Island

All is well that ends well! So glad for you all!
These were flowers from the heart, the loveliest!

Joanne Polner

In ten-pin bowling, rolling a ball straight down the middle of the alley, to hit the headpin straight on, will usually cause the center pins to fall away and leave two or three or four pins left standing far apart from each other--that is called a split. A split is very difficult to "convert" or "knock all down."

If you want to use the bowling metaphor, please know that a good curve ball send-off, with spin on it, that veers from the center of the alley and comes back to the "pocket" on either side of the headpin, is more likely to knock all the pins down--a strike! Success! It is sometimes good to meet problems head on, but it is often best to come to some from the side with a little bit of spin--maybe a shower of kisses or hugs or nice actions on behalf of someone--sort of unexpected goodness--you can then strike to the heart and fall back/down together in all manner of love and friendship. Joanne Polner, Franklin Lakes, NJ


I appreciate you sharing your stories with us, Kristi. We all can relate to the bowling ball metaphor, for better or worse. Your bravery is inspiring, as always.

Kristin Espinasse

Roger and Joanne, I appreciate the golfing and bowling notes :-)

And thanks for all these lovely responses. Wishing everyone a happy weekend.

judi dunn

.... His gift of wildflowers is from the heart, often easier than words to give... arrange them lovingly, display them at a place for two , make a little cheese and fruit plate, du vin, deux verres and voila... your love will grow and all will be fine... tell him how much you love and appreciate him.... Judi Dunn, Tallahassee, Fl. .. we never know what tomorrow will bring.....

Cynthia Lewis

Joanne and Judi, what wonderful words of advice and encouragement you have sent to Kristin. The bouquet of wildflowers has meaning beyond its wishes for a peaceful and loving weekend. Also...HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY !

Bon week-end à tous. Cynthia, Salisbury, MD

Chris Miasnik

The first question for advice should be "Which golf club should I use?" Of course the ball won't reach your daughter, you've got a putter in your hands.


Our dear Kristi,
What a beautiful post(and picture!!No matter how much upheaval you've been enduring,there is still love,still happiness written all over you!)
The most wonderful thing you have shown us(again!)(in your last line)is to have compassion.There was a song (LONG ago) called "Walk A Mile In My Shoes".
Easy to say,hard to do,but in a lifelong cherished commitment it's a necessity.
You have such a gift for giving us hugs!
How fortunate we are!
Happy weekend and Mom's Day!
Natalia XO

Stacy ~ Sweet Life Farm

Dearest Kristi,

Just catching up on this weeks posts and once again, I am encouraged and uplifted by your bravery, authenticity and heart. This week I implemented a plan similar to yours: one of action which is already reaping rewards. I can giggle about your fear that a messy car equates to a messy life as when faced with having someone new, or particularly tidy, in my car I am overcome with this fear (my car is orderly yet hair and dirt abound due to my dogs, my constant companions, and driving off road for hiking). Oh, now add in the droppings splattered across the outside from Mr. Bluebird who has decided to roost on my car while his mate is in the nest box which hangs on the side of my garage --- bluebirds signify happiness, right? I’ll need to deal with a bit of “dung’ in order for happiness to grow.

I love the wildflower bouquet; a sweet offer of beauty, care and love, not at all unlike the generous bouquets you offer us three times a week. Hugs and lots of love to you.

catharine ewart-touzot

wonderful gift of flowers and as wonderful being able to see another's pain and unhappiness..know you all will have a lovely weekend



THIS IS NOW MY NUMBER #1 FAVORITE VIGNETTE (sp?). You haven´t changed a bit from being an adorable 9 year old who used to keep me in stitches with your yarns. I was a true witness to all of Kristi´s escapades, she hasn´t changed….just use´s French phrases now.



Chris Allin

Dear Kristin,

After reading your missives early in the morning, my mind turns back to them during the day. With pause and reflection, new insights often emerge. More than one metaphor comes forward today. being yanked along your uneven path, holding tightly to the dogs collars to
keep up and to keep from tripping... only to find safe refuge and perhaps serenity upon arriving at home. And the wilted flowers, like injured feelings, swell with renewed strength and life with a little and nurturing. Sprinkle in your humor and the mental images you paint with your words. It is enough to help one smile through the day~

Pat Cargill

It must be much mote difficult for both spouses to work from the home, more time together, more likely for internal irritations to be transferred to the other. Very demanding emotionally. Finding time apart is helpful, perhaps even silent times. I don't know. Life is goofy, we struggle for balance in the whirl of it all. Silence - sacred time - a breather from the often constant demands. Maybe. In the big picture, love is the force which can jolt us out of our foxholes of fuming, licking our wounds. Sometimes we just need space, time, silence to be able to move forward. Sometimes I am so exasperated with my Randy-like my head is spinning in disbelief! After 30 years together we know waay too much about the other's foibles and weaknesses. It is not easy this relationship business.

Don't forget to b r e a t h e.


Chris Allin

Post Script.....Hello to Jules! From our introduction to you through French Word a Day, it seems you are very much a free spirit. As such, you must have given your little girl the freedom to soar... and we, her readers are now given the gift of her ability to express her thoughts with insight, understanding, caring and humor and most of all, honesty. Thank you for sharing her with the world. Wishing you an especially beautiful and happy Mother's Day!

Diane Young

Have a happy Mothers Day, chere Kristi. Your real life accounts are so reminiscent for most of us. Don't despair - Amor vincit omnia. (Latin for l'amour conquit tous les choses, I think.) Having two teenagers would seem even more difficult than one mari to me. And two runaway-at-leisure dogs. Give thanks that you are still sane and keep on keeping on.

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