“A French Opportunity”

I am happy to share with you some good news.  My book “A French Opportunity” is now published and available on Amazon.  It will be available on Kindle later and in other areas.  I hope you enjoy it very much and share the link with friends and family.  Jim and I wish the very best for you and your loved ones.  We appreciate all of the kind words and encouragement you have given to us along the way.




Come On, Get Up, Get Out and Look Around – by Debbie Ambrous

An old wood farmhouse, weathered over the generations, blended comfortably into the hollow next to the woods at the bottom of the field.  Oak and magnolia trees planted long ago around the house cast shadows in the late afternoon.  Did children sing and play under those trees long ago? Did little girls in pigtails and pinafores play jump rope, and little boys did they play cowboys and Indians?  Did the youngsters work hard with their parents in the field, picking and hoeing cotton?  My thoughts rambled and connected with stories my parents told me.

The house was too far away, and I didn’t have my big zoom lens with me to bring its beauty to me.  I snapped the distant picture and then poked my camera through the barbed wire fence to capture a prickly pear cactus.


Down in the lower field an old blue pickup rolled in my direction.  The gray-haired driver spoke to me when he was near saying, “I thought you were my wife.”  I said, “I don’t think that’s possible since my husband is in the red Jeep there by the road.”  He didn’t laugh at my corny joke.  Husband Jim joined me, and we learned that the driver of the old pickup, wearing denim and bright, yellow leather gloves, was also named Jim.  He offered a ride down closer to the house so I could get better pictures.


A donkey came to visit while we were talking and I was warned not to let him get behind me.  “Listen here, Mr. Donkey, I don’t need any more alignment of my behind side.  Trust me.  You don’t need to go there!”  (Read “Sweet Mr. Lee Brings Flowers” for the whole story.”)


“New” House from the 1700’s

We bounced across the field in the pickup, squeezed into the front, with me in the middle between the two Jims.  Mr. Yellow Gloves said two houses were inside the fence not one as I had thought.  One was built in the eighteenth century, and the other was constructed much earlier in the seventeenth century.  Both houses came into view as we jolted over the terraces to the home place.  He stopped so I could take a closer picture.  When I was back inside the pickup I heard something that totally surprised me.  Farmer Jim with the yellow gloves said his family descended from French Huguenots that came to America.  How did I stumble on to this by stopping to take a picture of an old farmhouse that I expected to be from maybe 1920?  He probably thought I was crazy to be so excited about his family tree, but finding France on a crisp, cool Saturday afternoon in Alabama was thrilling.

“Old” house from the 1800’s – Notice the chimney construction

I thought we had only signed on for a drive to a closer view of the house, but Mr. Yellow Gloves unlocked the fence that surrounded the house and invited us with warm hospitality.  A fox bounded away into the woods when I hopped out of the truck.  Honey, this isn’t Bloomingdale’s parking lot!  I will hush up for awhile and just let you look around.  I’ll meet you at the old well.

I told Mr. Yellow Gloves about my daddy when we stood by this well. Daddy said my grandparents would go to town and tell the children not to go near the well or the shotgun. He said when they were out of sight they got the shotgun down and played at the well. Mr. Yellow Gloves laughed at my story this time.

The Two Jim’s discussing the high price of keeping wives and livestock. Now where’s that donkey? Need to get Mr. Donkey situated just right on the right side. Just a nudge will do just fine! Keep him in line.

If you are able, come on, get up, get out and look around.  Turn down a road you’ve never traveled.  Talk to someone new,  Send a letter, not an e-mail, to a friend from your past.  Speak, smile, commend and compliment an elderly person in the grocery store.  Do the same for the young mother who is working hard to look after her little children.

My emotions were overwhelmed when I looked through these houses because I was stepping inside a place that could have been my mother or daddy’s childhood home.  This was how they lived.  I was in a cloud for a few days thinking through each room, swinging on the porch and tasting the cool water from the well.  Ya’ll come back next time, and we will go inside the houses.  Thank you, Mr. Yellow Gloves, for your gracious hospitality!

The “Welcome” sign is out. Come again. The door is wide open.

See France on the France Storytelling and Pictures page.  Maybe a trip to France will be your next get out and look around.  Place your e-mail in the Subscribe 2 area and never miss out.  Do you have Facebook?   You can click on the like button, find us and look around some more.



Finding France in Fort Walton Beach – by Debbie Ambrous

Especially for my friends Cathi & Alan:     “I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.” 
― Audrey Hepburn

The ever-patient and good-tempered Jim had promised to come along with me for some shopping at my favorite discount store – read his version as “endure another boring, lengthy, carry-heavy-bags-of-stuff, shopping marathon” – after my dermatologist’s report that my skin was youthful and unblemished.   I’m thinking that no one believes my version of the report either.

Dé France
PH: 850-314-7500 

As Jim drove to my favorite store, I was looking in all directions like those Google cameras, searching 360 degrees. I was scanning for shopping possibilities, and I gasped and put on brakes on my side of the car when I spotted a French antique store in Fort Walton Beach.  French bliss!


The signs and garden decorations outside caught my attention immediately. 

A cabinet with an Audrey Hepburn quotation spoke to me.  Interrupting my thoughts, Jim said, “Audrey Hepburn should come and see this old stuff they’ve drug up and painted with words she supposedly said.  I wouldn’t believe it unless I heard the words roll out of her mouth myself!”  “Shhh!  Audrey Hepburn won’t be coming here to personally endorse her quotations because first of all – she is dead!  Secondly, if she wasn’t deceased she wouldn’t be performing for you.”  Walking away, Jim said, “Since I’ve apparently offended all of the Hepburn family and all of the fans, I’ll just wait in the rocking chair in the shade while you finish shopping.”  “No, I might need your help since you need to buy a suitable present for one of Audrey Hepburn’s fans as an apology,” I said to halt his retreat.   Looking around suspiciously he asked, “Which fan?” Smiling my best Audrey smile, I replied, “Me!”

Now this would be an appropriate present for a Francophile writer.

“Paris is always a good idea.” – Audrey Hepburn

“You can always tell what kind of a person a man really thinks you are by the earrings he gives you.”
― Audrey Hepburn                   Or, maybe the compact he gives to you, Audrey –                                                                                   Debbie Ambrous

I found the right present.  One of these beautiful compacts will be just lovely!  “Jim, come here and see what I found.  What have you picked up now?”  With a downright sneaky gleam in his eye, he said “I’ve found the perfect present for you.”  Without a moment’s hesitation I replied, “If you don’t want to wear that “chunky dunk thing” around your neck, I would suggest you put it back right now!”

“Let’s face it, a nice creamy chocolate cake does a lot for a lot of people; it does for me.”
― Audrey Hepburn


He bought a nice present for me, and as we stood in line at the register I told him my favorite Audrey Hepburn quotations:


“For attractive lips, speak words of kindness. For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry. For beautiful hair, let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day. For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone. People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.. Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms. As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands; one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.” –  Audrey Hepburn

Jim’s pitch to get out of the doghouse was: “I’m beginning to think Ms. Hepburn is almost as smart as you are, but not nearly as pretty.”

Gretchen’s “Happy Place” is behind the counter at Dé France.
“I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person.”
― Audrey Hepburn

Wisely spoken, Mr. Ambrous.  “Let’s drive on home so we can catch the sunset on Lake Jackson and watch one of Audrey Hepburn’s movies.”

Audrey would have loved Jim! 

From the last blog story: Kelli Weiblen (left) and Jennifer Futral (right) – Kelli is a CertainTeed representative. Listen up, my Construction group! Thanks, ladies!

“The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.”
― Audrey Hepburn