“It’s Up to YOU” – by Debbie Ambrous

Administrative Professional’s Day is April 24th in appreciation of the important role of these multi-talented people and the important role they play in all sectors of the worldwide economy including the Ambrous economy.

I carefully arranged the flowers and the note next to the “King’s” comfortable lounge chair.

Very thoughtfully, I planned ahead and arranged a beautiful bouquet of flowers for Jim, the professional administrator of tasks for A French Opportunity.  I thought it would “inspire and equip him to attain excellence” according to the vision of the International Association of Administrative Professionals.  He showed no appreciation whatsoever!  I’m surprised the pretty bouquet didn’t wilt from his glare.  With no gratitude, he had the nerve to ask if this was “some kind of holiday” could he have the day off.  Sensing a possible “strike” and “walk-out” I agreed.  The things you must do for employees nowadays!!

Adams Garage – Founded 1946, a respected, reliable business managed with integrity.

Jim started his working life while a teenager as a part-time employee at Adams Garage, a family-operated business in Opp, Alabama.  He will always be thankful for this experience and for the guidance of his employer, Billy Adams.  Jim learned enough about being a mechanic to realize that he did not want to follow that line of work, but he did remain in Auto Parts and later the IT management of this type business.  I never met Mr. Adams, but through the years Jim remembered those days in the garage and shared stories about his boss, and I realized he had inspired and equipped Jim to develop good work principles.

Do you like the brickwork pattern and the circular window at the peak of the roof line? The architecture is definitely much prettier than the average garage.

When we were young and our old green and white Chevy broke down on a country road, I was thankful that Jim had learned enough to fix it – after kicking it severely and sounding off with unkind words, to the car, that is.  At other times, when he was in a better mood he told the funny stuff that happened in the garage.  Jim reminisced, “Billy said I was the only person who could walk into the garage and kick over an oil can on each side of the garage all in one shot.”

Could it be one of the original oil cans?

I don’t know if Billy was saying Jim was clumsy or had big feet.  Both could apply at times.


Jim visited Billy a couple of times after we had moved back to Opp.  The last time he went to visit a family member told Jim that Billy had left for a doctor’s appointment out of town.


Jim drove a Volkswagen beetle during this time, not a van like this old model fading away into the woods.  Jim always beeped his horn when he drove past my parents’ home, especially if I was on the front porch swing.  Fellas, take note of this very original and clever flirtation technique.

Jim lost his dear friend to cancer just days after the doctor visit. I heard a story after the funeral that Jim had never shared with me.  Jim said when he visited Billy earlier he had told him, “Billy, you know I never truly apologized to you for damaging your dune buggy at the beach during Spring break when I was a teenager.  You instructed me not to drive it down into the salt water, and said if I got it stuck in a sand dune that I shouldn’t try to back it out.  You said I should get my buddies to push it out or I would burn out the reverse gear. I’m so very sorry.  But I did all of it – all of it wrong!”  Jim said that Billy knew how he was feeling at the time, and he had thought about telling Jim to repair the dune buggy, but he didn’t.  He just said to pull it around back and park it.  Jim had never forgotten, and he will never forget this fine gentleman who played a key part in his life.

How did your working life begin?  Do you have memorable, helpful employers in your background? Perhaps you should give them a call or send a note of gratitude.

Rules cover the workplace now to protect the worker from mistreatment.  Still it happens.  (Ann Curry comes to mind.  I won’t make any judgments, but I’m sure you understand the comparison.) The early experiences, especially, can affect the new employee, either inspiring them or possibly ruining their outlook on life.  Bullying happens in the workplace, the same as in school.  Will you help the new person on the job?  Will you refuse to gossip, snub or allow jealousy to rule your actions?  Will you do your part to generate a happy environment? Will you be a person who is remembered fondly for many years?  It’s up to you!

I thought about Jim’s wilting look at the bouquet and decided a night out at Doc’s Country Store for a delicious meal would be a better present.

It’s worth the trip! Opp, Alabama, has some special places, and this is one of them!

Jim looks right at home, doesn’t he? He deserves a great lunch out. He does such a wonderful job, and he always encourages me with my writing. He gets up early, cooks breakfast and stays working all day long. He helps people in the community and friends far and wide. If I keep this up, he will want two days off next year!!


Doc’s Country Store has my book for sale.  Why not drop by for a meal and buy a copy of A French Opportunity? If it’s a bit too far to drive, just click on the picture below and you can purchase a copy.

I have a SURPRISE for you next week.  No, it isn’t more pictures of new grandson Daniel.  Take a guess, and if you already know you are not allowed to guess. I hope I hear from you in the Reply area below.

Look very closely and you can see my poster on the inside door. Then click on the picture for more details on “A French Opportunity”





Take a look at the old cars in France.  I’m sure that Jim’s friend Billy would have loved them.

Just click on “Old Cars in France




“All About Daniel” – by Debbie Ambrous

An ancient proverb says, “The crown of old men is the grandsons…” Proverbs 17:6   If this proverb is true, (and I’m sure it is) then Jim is wearing a golden crown studded with the finest jewels, better than his usual Burger King crown!

All About Daniel   –     Born April 3rd – Daniel Craig Castaldi
Jim said, “Daniel Craig, you’ll get the hang of a Southern accent down-pat in no time.”

Jim already wears a special crown duly bestowed when Hanna our lovely granddaughter (fast becoming a young lady) was born.  Along with the grandfather title a new name was awarded: “Na Nu Na Nu”

For the bewildered and unbelieving, allow me to explain.  When our two eldest youngsters were viewing “Mork and Mindy”, the 70’s television show starring Robin Williams, we had a family discussion with an odd outcome.  The two clever-minded children – Chet and Jessica – decided on Grandparent names that we would assume when the grandchildren arrived far into the future.  They knew I wouldn’t be a Granny, and with grand laughter they said my name should be “Mother Superior.”  With higher authority, I ruled that one down and negotiated “GranDeb” instead.  Moving on to unsuspecting Jim, they said his name would be “Na Nu Na Nu”, and so it stuck.  Now imagine Jim answering to this name in a grocery store or an assemblage of intellectuals (can’t see that one happening?) when his pretty, petite, blonde granddaughter calls! Soon Daniel will shout “Na Nu Na Nu” at the top of his boyish lungs!

            All About Daniel
Isn’t he just the most beautiful grandson?!!

All About Daniel        Check out “The Victorian Company” – 146 S. Glassell St., Orange, CA



Do your grandchildren have odd names for you?  Could you share some of your stories in the “Reply” area below? Special thanks to my friend Dianna who reminded me of the proverb.

GranDeb and Na Nu flew to California, upping the state’s oddity population with two Alabama alien visitors.  We held Daniel, watched Daniel, pushed Daniel in the stroller and walked around with goofy grins on our faces to match our names.

All About Daniel
119 South Glassell St., Historic Orange, CA

I introduced Daniel to antique shops at Orange Olde Town Historic Center with the exception of those with “No Baby Buggy” signs.  He seemed most impressed with the cute shops with French themes!

“All About Daniel”
I promised Daniel that we would sit at a bistro table together one day in Paris, as soon as he grows a little more.







Visit PARIS IN A CUP for gourmet chocolates, teas and French macarons.

All About Daniel
“Yes, Daniel, when you are a bigger boy you can have all you want. Try the coconut and pistachio. Chocolate-caramel with sea salt is extra special! GranDeb knows best!













All About Daniel
Guess who bought Kickapoo Joy Juice. Yes, NaNu swizzled it down while Daniel had his own brand of nourishment. I rarely find this Blood Orange drink, so I was delighted! I saved the bottle for a bud vase.
This picture is especially for our friend, Miss Kitty. Kitty, show it to your disbelieving doctor. NaNu recommends it highly!

Sunday afternoon.  I asked for the Travel section from the Los Angeles Times, thinking I would escape to Tahiti while Daniel napped.  Jim said, “You’re gonna love this section.  These Californians are smarter than the average rednecks!”



Spread across my grandmotherly lap, I saw ALABAMA as the feature destination in an article written by Alice Short.  She said, “When I told friends I was planning a trip to Birmingham, the reaction was universal. ‘Alabama?’ one asked, ‘On purpose?’ I shared their skepticism …”

I believe Ms. Short found much more than she expected.  In her two-page article, I read interesting history and recommendations for The Tutwiler Hotel and several restaurants.  I will definitely check out the French restaurant when I’m in Birmingham again. Chez Fonfon, 2007 11th Ave. South.  Thanks, Alice!  Ya’ll come back!  Arrange your visit when Daniel is visiting GranDeb and Na Nu Na Nu in Opp, Alabama!

Peppermint roses on an arbor. What could be more romantic? “NaNu, would you add this to your to-do list?” I adored the flowers at this California B&B!

Daniel will help water the roses when he is a big boy, wearing his jeans and boots.

It’s truly –  All about Daniel!  Click over to “Planning for Daniel in France”

Thank you for your support.  Enter your e-mail address for a free subscription and never miss a post!  Do you know a special grandmother who would enjoy this story?  Why not forward the link to her right now?  Or, is there possibly another Na Nu twin out there who could identify with Jim?  Why not surprise him with this story?  Let me give a little grandmotherly advice.  Buy A French Opportunity and enjoy!  Daniel agrees.

Product Details

“Hummingbirds are Home” – by Debbie Ambrous

Hummingbirds are home again on my front porch after packing their little suitcases for a long winter vacation in Central America.  Birdfeeder-keeping took a nosedive while they were lolling in the sun and ordering up drinks with little umbrellas.  Somehow cold weather and hard work at the computer to keep the wolf from the door pushed any thoughts of birdfeeder-cleaning from my mind. I wish I could say everything is spic and span inside my house, but the cheeky little hummingbirds hovering at my windows can see the dust on my blinds, and they probably notice the windows need cleaning too.  (See the tiny beauty at its pristine bird-feeder by clicking here on “Peach Upside Down Cake for Dad“)

The Amaryllis bulbs came from Mother, and they were cultivated from ones that were dug from my grandmother’s garden some years ago. Grandmother Bryan’s flowerbeds were glorious at this time of year. People drove past to see them, and Granny shared bulbs with many family members, friends and strangers.

Digging in the dirt, planting seed, looking through all of the new plants at the garden center and watering my new roses are much more fun than dusting and cleaning.  The same amount of bending, stretching and kneeling are involved.  Why is it so much more fun to garden than clean the house?

Notice the buzzy bee garden ornament in the tree. Bumblebees just like the ornament are buzzing in the Spring flowers.

The birds are singing “Jimmy, jimmy, jimmy and pretty, pretty, pretty.”  The first birdsong is for Gardener Jim.  I’m claiming the other song whether by right or not.  Now if I could only train them to sing, “Dust Jimmy, Dust Jimmy, Dust Jimmy.”  Poor guy!  He is already cooking delicious meals for me, grocery shopping for the best ingredients and bargain prices, splitting firewood for warm evenings by the fireplace and promoting my book “A French Opportunity” with professionalism and charm.  If I keep this lavish praise going, maybe he will help me clean the house.

Buzzy bee, a gift from my friend Cathi, is fluttering in my flowering dogwood tree.







Wildflowers – “pinks” – carpet the ground near the edge of the woods.













This birdhouse has a “vacancy” sign but my birdhouse in front is occupied. Location! Location!


Wisteria covers many of the trees in the woods, and the bumble bees love the fragrant blooms.

Notice my neighbor’s tractor at the edge of his garden by our yard covered in “pinks”.

At the far edge of the garden, my neighbor has a novel approach to gardening. Looks like a potato crop is thriving in an old tractor tire.










I showed pictures of the potato-growing venture in Billy Ray’s old tractor tires to Jim, and a tractor light set aglow in one of Jim’s brain cells.  He said, “I could line the front walkway with tractor tires and plant purple petunias in them after I put gobs of chicken manure fertilizer inside.  Then I could split a few more tires and put them around the flowering cherry trees at the front window so you could see them every morning.  I will paint them white so they will be extra pretty!  I noticed the bathtub of posies in your French pictures.  I could find some other plumbing fixtures for the yard like a nice commode, without the lid of course, so you can plant your favorite flowers to trail over the sides.  Where should I put it?”

I held my tongue and thought on that question with visions of Kohler flying through the air in the direction of Jim’s head. Forgetting that earlier lavish praise, I said: “It seems that dust isn’t the only thing around here that’s thick!  I am in charge of landscape design, and you are labor-on-demand.”   And the birds continued to mock me with, “Jimmy, jimmy, jimmy.”

I’ve saved the best for last.  I’m Debbie to most of you or possibly even Debbie@AFrenchOpportunity, but I have another name that is dear to my heart.  I’m known as GranDeb to my beautiful granddaughter Hanna.  Another special voice was added this month.

Daniel was born April 3rd, weighing 7 pounds, 5 ounces.  Jim and I are very happy grandparents!

I’m leaving my flowering dogwood plus the dusty house behind and flying away. No, not to France this time. We are flying to California – with cameras packed – to see Daniel.  I wonder if he will love France like his grandparents.