Skin Alarm! – Debbie Ambrous

Schedule your next visit to a dermatologist near sea and sand with a seafood lunch as the beginning and volleyball on the beach as entertainment.  I did!

Before you enjoy this frivolity too much, allow me to scare you a little bit.  Believe me, I had a personal, supersonic dose, loud and clear.

Imagine a young lady wearing a new bathing suit, sunning on a beach towel on a hot summer afternoon.  She dreams of wearing a sundress that ties in little bows on her deeply tanned shoulders.  She would impress Mike, Tony, Ed and definitely – Jim!  Suddenly, the scary siren sounds its blasting alarm causing her whole body to levitate and knock over her Sundrop bottle, emptying its sweet drink on her Seventeen magazine.  Rolling like a fireball across the sultry Alabama yard the alarm scared flocks of birds into flying and shrieking bloody murder, and small children wet their pants in sudden panic.

The ear-splitting message was, “Deborah, get out of the sun!  It’s dangerous!  You will end up looking like a wrinkled, old prune!”  Now it’s time for your scare.  Consider yourself alarmed.  Mother always knows best!

Back to the fun and frivolity.  Seafood was served with an ocean view at Fort Walton Beach, Florida.


The Emerald Coast Volleyball Tournament teams were practicing.  Plan to be there next year.  Check it out:


Jim – Husband and Promotion Agent for “A French Opportunity” in the center. Jennifer and Kelli are on each side. We are not good reporters since we didn’t keep record of which side. We’ll let you know about that in Part 2 of this story. Jim wants to know why I don’t send him alone for reporting on this type story. He says, “You only send me to the Co-op to talk to farmers and down some muddy roads to take pictures of billy goats.” Now, why would I do that?

I got my exam including my sandy feet and tween the toes! Now it’s your turn.

For your “Sun and Sand” expedition in Dermatology visit:

Dr. Brian Katz, Mt. Sinai Medical Complex, Miami Beach, Florida:  305-674-7414

Coastal Skin Surgery & Dermatology, Fort Walton Beach, Miramar Beach and Destin, Florida, 850-314-7546

Enjoy!!  Tell them I sent you.

It was a beautiful day with a glorious ending. This photo was taken on our return trip home at Lake Jackson, Florala, Alabama. Campers were grilling by the lakeside. It was tempting to crash their party. See more of the sunset next week in Part 2 of this story.

Remember to click on over to the France storytelling page for French Rivers.  Sorry it isn’t the French Riviera.  Enter your e-mail address in the Subscribe area and you will never miss out.  Thank you for your wonderful comments and support.

Sweet Mr. Lee’s Flowers – by Debbie Ambrous

A gift of cockscomb flowers. When they are dried, a zillion little seed like coarsely ground pepper will produce new plants for me. A gift that keeps giving!

A colonoscopy was scheduled.  I hear OMG and Eww!!!  Don’t turn tail and hit the delete button.  Wish I could have!  Learnin’ is in this tale (pun intended), and I believe I will laugh about it in a few weeks.

Green jello jiggled on my plate, and my complexion matched.  Jim was gallant and allowed me to watch whatever on TV.  “Whatever” was on every channel.  Raymond, the bumbling husband on “Everybody Loves Raymond” was apologizing for one of his blunders at a B&B with a “shared” bathroom.  Jim was listening and considering booking a B&B with a private bathroom until my procedure was over.

Twilight stroked the pine needles of the tall, stately, evergreen trees on the day of the special event.  A woodsy patch of oak, dogwood and hickory trees shadow a tiny stream where deer leave tracks, and secretly disappear only to be glimpsed rarely.  Jim was watching.  Trumpets blared in the form of my voice, and he remembered his Princely duties.  He drove along the lanes taking me like Marie Antoinette to the guillotine with my bed-head hair piled atop my head in a copycat hairdo.  Chanel cosmetics were not wasted on this appearance. The waiting room was empty with no one to impress, and no reporters from the local newspaper or Entertainment Tonight jumped the fence for photos, so no need even for Maybelline.

Mild Disclaimer: This tale was scribbled on a Nespresso note pad during a fever and drug induced state.

Now here’s more learnin’ … According to some of the experts, the Great Writers were spilling out their tales in my very same condition!


The best part was the sleep.  The worst part was a little extra bonus –  Barium!  Here’s the learnin’!  Barium is not cosmetic surgery erasing cellulite and old age spots!  When you hear this word uttered even when offered as an extra freebie with 100,000 skymiles, matching luggage and a pre-paid platinum credit card, say “NO.”  Let me backtrack.  Grab the credit card since you may need it.  Forget your clothes and shoes even if you wore Manola Blahnik’s best.  Run with the backdoor of your gown open despite your derriere bearing no resemblance to Angelina Jolie’s.

Don’t copy my example.  I did the capital “B”.  According to the hospital experts my innards are as curvy as a Miami senorita.  According to me, they were using tubes for a macho, eighteen-wheeler truck driver instead of my special, designer, diva equipment. I was wheeled deep into the bowels of the hospital, and a cute blonde with strawberry streaks in her hair told me to “breathe” and “don’t breathe” until I said, “Honey, don’t worry. I haven’t breathed since I entered the room.”

Home!  My king-size, extra plush mattress consoled me as I lounged away my misery and drifted to sleep.


Sweet Mr. Lee is our neighbor and friend. He brings flower seeds and smiles into our garden. Mr. Lee and I have “Construction” in common. He is a soil expert, and he worked on the roads that crisscross downtown Miami.

Awakening from my slumber, I beheld through the window –  Sweet Mr. Lee!  Red velvety flowers, a gift for me was in his hands.

This flower is also called Brain Celosia. I’m sure you can see why. The leafy stems grow 12-28 inches, and the crested flower head is 2-5 inches.  Photography by Jim Ambrous

Remaining inside, hiding my ugly hair, I waited for the men.  Jim brought Sweet Mr. Lee’s beautiful bouquet to me.  Two wonderful men in my life!  I was a good girl at the hospital.

Now I could cry …

Thanks to the wonderful, caring hospital staff!!  You were so kind to me every step of the way.

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A Tale of Two Hats – by Debbie Ambrous

When the red Jeep arrives to sweep La Mama away for a ride, she never knows if she should have her immunization up to date for a third world country, or perhaps take along her finest hat and gloves.  We coaxed her into the car for an antique shopping jaunt recently, and as we helped her inside the store she settled into a comfortable antique chair covered in a faded, flowery fabric.  Mama stayed there with the antique figurines, teapots, framed pictures, lamps with fringed shades and embroidered cushions.  It seemed like she belonged there – with good reason.  Customers glanced her way like they were trying to decide if she was real, or a display mannequin.  The store owner kept an eye on us to be sure we weren’t leaving the antique human element for their display.

The agenda for the jaunt this time was a Family Reunion, Daddy’s family and hers as well, of course.  She was deciding what to wear and moving slowly, as to be expected. 

While we waited I visited her beautiful, bluest blue morning glory vines and checked the old mailbox where I used to collect letters from my boyfriends.  Nope, nothing in the box. 

Finally, she was ready, and she was lovely wearing beige pants and a blue blouse with flowers stitched along the front.  Two hats were in hand.  I asked, “Mama, why are you taking two hats?  One is raggedy with frayed edges.  You wear these for gardening.  You won’t need them anyway since we’re at a covered pavilion.”  She insisted.  Jim, sensing a squabble, stared daggers my way and hissed behind her back, “Shhhhh!  Just take them both.  It isn’t like they will weigh down the axles on the Jeep!”  I heaved a sigh!


We drove to Lake Frank Jackson for the big meal, passing fields of cotton edged with goldenrod flowers with their sneeze-inducing bright, yellow blooms.  Jim drove close to the pavilion so Mama had only a few steps to walk.  I helped ease her into a chair, and all the while I was surveying the table loaded with butterbeans, lady finger peas, collard greens, sweet corn, tomatoes, potato salad, fried chicken, barbecue pork, pecan pie, eleven-layer (count ‘em) chocolate cake (like Granny used to make except maybe her layers were less), strawberry trifle, butternut cake and more, much more!  The peach upside down cake that I baked was on the table, still warm from the oven.  I hope Daddy would have been pleased with me.

Mama was receiving attention from the family.  Hugs, kisses and “it’s so good to see you” were lavished on her.  From the cradle forward, isn’t that what we all need?  Love and “fussin’ over”…

No, this isn’t Mama! Mama shuns paparazzi. Meet her stand-in and stunt double! Personally, I think “La Mama” is holding out for a better offer.  The lady stunt double revealed to me that she is intimately acquainted with                                   Arnold Schwarzenegger, and she gave me a vote of confidence saying my book will be better than his.  We’ll be BAAACK!

The two hats remained in the car for another trip.