“Wings and Things Jim Said” – by Debbie Ambrous

A ceremonial burning of words on a woodpile at the end of our driveway is happening today!  Jim’s set aflame “certain words” – not books.  Actually, only one irksome phrase went up in blazes – IT IS WHAT IT IS.  Interrupting the bonfire builder, I asked what inquiring minds plus a few neighbors in fear for their life and property wanted to know.  “Jim, why are these words in flames?”

Jim said, “Because I’m tired of hearing it over and over, and you told me to build a fire and put this paper on it and keep a water hose handy…something to do with your blog.” Groaning and annoyed I told him, “That is not the way I scripted your response! Let’s try again.  Why do you want to eliminate this phrase – IT IS WHAT IT IS – from the English vocabulary?”

Mr. Language Person tells his side of the story, “ Because it might be different than the asinine, irrefutable statement laid out on the table.”  I insert a thought, “You mean like wait a day and it could change, like bread dough rising?”

“How did bread come into this?  It’s more like chicken wingsThis repulsive statement is like plopping raw wings with slimy stuff oozing from the cellophane covered package on to a pretty table. How would you feel?  It IS NOT WHAT IT IS until you take those wings and marinate them with “T” Bellinger’s barbecue sauce, fire up a hot grill and cook them just right.  Then arrange them all pretty on one of your plates, so you will be happy with the presentation.  Sit back in my comfortable chair with T Bellinger and my friends and click on a football game.  Then “Mr. T” can say in his deep, booming voice “IT IS WHAT IT IS’ and that will be the final word!!!  I’m just tired of people serving up “Nekkid Wings” and telling me “It Is What It Is!”


Mr. T, please send your BBQ sauce recipe. As you can see, Jim is eating Tater Tots until you come to his rescue.

Are you tired of certain phrases?  What phrase is on the woodpile at your house?

How would you say “It Is What It Is” in France?  Does anyone know?  Just don’t say it –even in French – to Jim!

Click below to see my book.  Thank ya’ll very much for your kind comments!

A French Opportunity



“Travel with Humor” – by Debbie Ambrous

I have the privilege of speaking to the Alliance Française group about my book “A French Opportunity” March 3rd, 6:30 PM, UAB Hulsey Recital Hall.  Ya’ll come if you are in the area!  This is the link for the details:  http://www.uab.edu/languages/

Husband Jim, my biggest fan and supporter, will be there to pick me up if I faint and fall on the floor, but he could always use your help.

If you can’t attend, remember me on Sunday morning, March 3rd; have a champagne breakfast and burn some toast in my honor!

The fellow at the end of the porch brings roses to me, and he is a loyal fan. But he still will not be allowed to wear that San Francisco jacket to my speech!

See more pictures of France on “France storytelling and pictures”. Click on the tab at the top of the page.


Cindy, a professional photographer with Virginia’s Studio in Opp, Alabama, took the new photo of “Moi” in the poodle sweater. I like it very much, but I’m still rather fond of this picture taken in France!

“Japanese Magnolias” (MADE IN FRANCE) – by Debbie Ambrous

“How did you go and take pictures of Japanese Magnolias and then turn around and tell me these beautiful oriental trees are French Magnolias?” Jim asked me this question in a state of utter puzzlement and befuddlement.  He lives in this state most of the time, claiming citizenship, uncontested. 


I will admit that I also thought the trees with large, early-blooming flowers in shades of white, pink and purple were from Japan.  I planned to show pictures of Japan along with the spreading branches of beauty found in Alabama gardens.  I’ll show the pictures anyway!


I will impress you with my newly found knowledge.  Magnolia Soulangeana was initially bred by Étienne Soulange-Bodin (1774-1846), a retired cavalry officer in Napoleon’s army, at his Chateau de Fromont near Paris.  The results were so impressive that it quickly spread from France to England and other parts of Europe and on to North America.

Samurai Jim with Most Honorable Sister-in-Law Virginia

“I’m sorry to burst your bubble, oh honorable husband!  French Magnolias are gracing the gardens in Opp, Alabama, with royal elegance.  You can bow to me anytime now, Samurai Jim.”



Photography of Japan by Jim Ambrous

I’m thinking they designed this sign with Samurai Jim in mind.





“Science Fiction in the Laundry Room” – by Debbie Ambrous

My red Whirlpool duet was spinning in harmony in my French-Alabama laundry room.  Jim was peering out the window at the neighbor’s dark windows while I folded my soft, white towels.  Jim said he wondered about the neighbors and hoped they were o.k.  I let him know they were fine since I saw them leave in the car with someone the day before.  Not satisfied with that answer, Jim said, “Well, you don’t know, maybe it was an alien that picked them up.”  I told him they were happy, dressed nicely and everyone was on friendly terms – no strange aliens!  He muttered under his breath, “I would pay somebody to take me away sometimes.”  Not letting this silly suggestion go unnoticed, I said, “I heard that! Just why would you want to leave the sweet town of Opp?”

Grand Anse beach in Grenada “Isle of Spice” – France lost the island to the British in 1762. Grenada is an independent island with influences from both countries. French creole restaurants, French boulangeries and nutmeg ice cream can be found on this tropical island with its left-hand lane driving adapted from the British.

He breezed along with this suggestion, “Oh, I just wish I could be carried away to a lush, mountainous, tropical island – a French island with baguettes that you would like.  I would sway in a hammock tied between palm trees with one foot in the powdery, soft, white sand and feel the warm breezes gently caressing my nearly perfect body.”

Jim, I’m impressed!  You truly have a way with words. You really had me going there except with the fictional part about your nearly perfect body. I’m amazed.  I think I will let you take over the writing for a while.  I need a rest. ”  Jim looked a little pale and said he didn’t know anything to write about. “Just write on a subject you like.  For instance, you like science fiction.  You’ve watched every Star Trek show like a zillion times. For starters you will need characters for your story.”  Jim suggested R2D2 and Chewbaca. “You have to make up your own!  You can’t use them, but you could use another mechanical character.  What’s your idea on that? Jim looked at my red Whirlpool washer and said, “Ruby Red, the Whirlpool – the toughest woman in the dirty underworld!”

Big Ruby Red

I saved him with some legal advice: “You cannot use Whirlpool!”  Jim changed her name to – “Big Ruby Red Spinlaker”.   I asked Jim about a substitute for Chewbaca, another hairy character, and he had a different proposal. “I was thinking more along the lines of a sexy, he-man character, tough yet appealing, like Indiana Jones, but Indiana Jim instead.”


Holding my head in my hands and trying not to crack up in laughter at this preposterous idea I said, “Moving along… What’s the plot?  What’s your storyline for Big Ruby Red and the sexy Indiana Jim?

ALABAMA JIM    Call Costume Design. The SENOR FROG sweatshirt must go! Sorry, Jim.

Jim had this one cooked up also.  He said, “We could warn the islanders that the water is disappearing, the beach is eroding and the animals are endangered.  Big changes are coming in the climate.”  I nixed that one, “People don’t want to listen to that.  It’s a hard-sell! OK, I’m going to take a rest.  When I finish MY WORK, you can work in my office.”  Jim inserted a question, “Can I have a big fancy desk?”  “No, you can use my puny one, and you can start NOW!”  Jim turned and walked to his lounge chair in front of the television and said, “I’ll just watch a few Star Trek shows, purely for research. You know Jean-Luc Picard was born in France! His brother has a vineyard. ”  May the force be with you, Alabama Jim!

If I don’t die of fright, I will be speaking to a nice group in Birmingham about my book “A French Opportunity”.   I asked the lovely Kristin Espinasse for pointers, and she surprised me with a feature on her website.  A large number of her readers kindly sent their advice.  You can read their comments at: www.French-Word-A-Day.com

Could you share your thoughts with me in the comments section here at A French Opportunity?  What should I tell them?  I’m such a light-weight compared to other speakers.

Jim’s Darth Vader spatula from the dark side of his kitchen is checking out my book which is available at worldwide Amazon.com locations, but not outer space yet. Jim is working on that franchise!