“A Dog Named Bubba” – by Debbie Ambrous

Bubba lives a South Alabama life with his family under the shady oak and pine trees. He was rescued as an abused puppy, and raised with love and affection.

Everyone is on vacation! Folks are loading up their ice chests, water wings, suntan lotion, beach towels and children to drive to the beach.  Meanwhile, we are at home watching the weeds grow and feeding a dog named Bubba so his family can bask in the Florida sunshine on the white sands, eat seafood, and frolic in the gulf waters.  Are you feeling sorry for us since we are left behind, doing the chores and not having all of that fun?  Well, I tried to drum up some sympathy.  Bubba said it wouldn’t work.  That month in France erased any spot in your heart for feeling sorry for us.  Somehow, I knew it.

Bubba is a gentle dog and slow in trusting people since he was mistreated as a puppy.

I’ve successfully captured pictures of chickens, peacocks, donkeys, sheep, bumblebees, butterflies, hummingbirds and tropical fish.  Bubba was not impressed with my portfolio and refused to pose for the internationally acclaimed photographer.  Bubba and Jim played their usual game of hide and seek around the trees.  I lingered hopefully like a photographer waiting for the bikers in the Tour de France.  I can say with all certainty that Bubba will not be appearing in any movies or television appearances anytime soon if he has his way about it.

In case you are wondering…yes, that is Bubba’s swing in the background!

Most of the French dogs posed for my Canon in a gesture of friendliness to the American tourist.  Bubba cares nothing about international unity as long as he can dig holes under the oak trees, play hide and seek with Jim and have his meals presented on a regular basis.  Tourists can find a mule or cows in the field by the fishpond or some dumb chickens for their instagrams or blog pictures. Don’t bother with tweeting!  Those were his parting words as I drove away in the Jeep.  Don’t suppose he would be interested in posing for me in a beret either.

Attention! A French dog lives here. He or she may not understand English.

I wonder what she named her pampered pooch. The portrait hangs in Chateau Hautefort.

Would you like to see more of Chateau Hautefort?  Just click here – France -storytelling and pictures.  Don’t miss the gorgeous interior of the chateau.

Right by the cash register in this shop, a little doggie stayed with its master.  I read an article several years ago about the best employers.  One man said he wanted a workplace where he could take his hound dog, and when he sang off-key he wanted his fellow employees to sing in harmony with him.  In other words he wanted a happy place to work.  I’m not sure this “take a dog to work” concept will take on very quickly, but I would like to work with the fellow who longs to belt out a song or two.

Shopping for wine with his master in the beautiful town of Martel, France. Isn’t his coat lush?

Can you find the dog on the balcony in this picture? Looks more like a feather duster! See it in the center. It was totally amusing, bouncing around above, watching our every move.

La Prairie’s faithful pet seemed to display my sad emotions when we left this wonderful place. We will return and visit, then you can play with Jim again. Bubba might even send a “doggie bag” of South Alabama treats for you.

I hope you are enjoying your summer.  Are you going on vacation, or staying home with the dogs like Jim and me?  Why not read a book?  I would suggest A French Opportunity.  Send a postcard via the reply section down below.  Send one for Bubba also!  Have fun!

“True to My Promise” – by Debbie Ambrous

A beautiful doorway picture captured a few years ago. The lady within is the true beauty. See if  you agree with me and leave a comment for her.

Retracing my steps, we went to see villages and houses we remembered from our visit a couple of years ago.  We wondered if they had changed or remained the same as our beautiful memories and photography.  I captured village life, beautiful vistas and simple farm houses with my amateur photography then, not knowing I would use those pictures of France for my book A French Opportunity.

Jim and I walked in a village smiling and remembering how it was before.  Little had changed.  I gasped when I saw an elderly lady on her doorstep with the green French doors framing her tiny colorful figure.  Her personality was comparably vivid.  We missed this warmth previously since she was not part of the picture, but the colors shouted out a beautiful bonjour.  The bright green doors with flower pots on the steps introduce Part Four of my book with a door slightly ajar, hinting at an opportunity.  At least we did return to France for a month.  We hope the door is open for more.

Do you know someone who would enjoy seeing this petite lady in France?  Could you forward the link to a friend? Did you notice the new coat of paint on the doors except in the high spots? Do you have some areas like this??

The smiling lady held my business card and said she had internet.  I promised I would show a picture of her and her French home.  Her eyes grew big with surprise, and her smile spread larger too.  She said I must take a picture of her cat and the roses.  I suddenly noticed the large number of green-shuttered windows and doors spread along the stone building.  I asked in amazement if all of it was hers, and she acknowledged that it was.  I said, “Ooh la la!”  She laughed and shrugged like it was nothing not knowing that I would be ecstatic over just a tiny portion of it.

Would you enjoy watching village life from this window?

I left with promises of putting her picture on my website.

A few days after this we were wandering nearby streets, and I caught a glimpse of her once again on the porch watching us. She reminded me of my grandmother, Bama Bryan, who loved flowers and people with the same generosity of spirit.

She seemed to be waiting for us, and leaning forward hopefully.

Isn’t she irresistible?

Why would a cat choose to sleep on a bed of chicken-wire with a brick for a pillow?

My time for playing tourist was almost gone for the day.  I had to get to my computer and do my job for the construction company, but I knew it would be rude not to stop.  We used good manners and visited again.  I got to work on time, and now I’m true to my promise.  I stopped to smell the roses and smile at a hospitable lady, and now you can enjoy the moments with me.

One last look until we return…

You can stroll around more while I’m busy working.  Just click over to the France – storytelling and pictures page.  Enjoy “Near the Cat’s Brick Pillow” Would you like a free subscription notification?  Just enter your e-mail above in the Subscribe 2 area.

“French Laundry” – by Debbie Ambrous

Just for the record – This is not the Ambrous French Laundry!

Day 8!  Since our arrival home sans one large suitcase, we’ve called and e-mailed to Delta and Air France with no results.  We checked two large suitcases in Bordeaux, and only one followed us home.  Immediately, I complained about my lack of designer jeans.  However, now we are getting down to the bare necessities.  I was in France for a month, so I packed all of my Hanes unmentionables.  These along with Victoria Secret are in the suitcase that is lounging around France, or possibly Brussels.

Brussels airport Coca-Cola machine complete with picture of the little boy who couldn’t wait! We didn’t see the statue, but we understood the little boy’s circumstances a few times as we raced from one gate to another to make our plane connection.

If you see a fat lady in Brussels with a frown on her face, and you notice that she adjusts a wedgie when she walks away; maybe she has my bag of undies.  In France or Belgium, check the clotheslines for lavender, purple, lacey blue and pink lingerie.  They could be mine!

According to Jim, Calvin Klein is over in France with Victoria Secret.  We may never see that suitcase again!

I’m guilty of spying on clotheslines in France with my photo lens.  I hope you enjoy the results.  Perhaps my next book should be French Laundry.  You can read more about  air-freshened laundry in “A French Opportunity

Airing the bed linens keeps them fresh and smelling like a summer’s day.

String your clothesline across the end of the lane. No problem.

Can you imagine hanging your clothes with a view of the Dordogne River below?

Ya’ll come back and walk with us again! We still don’t have our suitcase, but we went to J C Penney’s “intimate apparel” section for a new colorful collection for our French Laundry.

Don’t miss the France-storytelling and pictures page!  Just click on “End of the Lane” for some lovely views down French lanes.

We could use some direction in learning the French language.  Lynn McBride, a smart Southern lady who lives in the Burgundy region has written a great book – How to Learn a New Language with a Used Brain – to help us as we blunder along.  Check it out.  I’m sure you will enjoy it. Just click on the clever book cover below.  See her wonderfully entertaining website – Southern Fried French.  You will love her recipes and beautiful photography.

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“We Are Home!” – by Debbie Ambrous

We are home!!  Sweet home Alabama!  We’ve unpacked and washed a mountain of dirty clothes.

A precious little Breton, woven-handled pot has found a new home on my fireplace mantel.

A few new purchases of French antique, junk pieces are scattered here and there in our house mixed in with my other stuff.  Some of the items I found with diligent seach in French villages are still missing, plus more.  One of our large suitcases has not arrived.  This means for those friends and family who are expecting presents, your gifts were in that suitcase.  Just thought I would let you know.  Don’t feel too disappointed.  Just think about me since all of my good jeans were in that suitcase.  An Alabama gal isn’t worth anything without her best pair of jeans!  Concentrate a big portion of your concerns for Jim also.  The AWOL suitcase belongs to his sister, and she may kill him when she hears about this and her missing present.

The most valuable items were safe in my carry-on bag – my jewelry, my makeup and the chocolate bars.  Now it’s up to Air France and Delta to find my jeans and Jim’s famous GAP sweatshirt – he has worn it on his Facebook page for years – and definitely they must find his orange Señor Frog sweatshirt!  Yes, he took it to France.  Don’t ask me why.

The charming elderly couple live in the large house to the left.

Let’s roll back time to the day before of our departure from France.  Rain was drizzling once again.  Jim met with the rental agent, and I walked down the hill to the elderly couple’s house for one last time.

The nice gentleman was driving away, but he stopped to smile and say “Bonjour Madam”

We had decided to give them all of the food we cleared from the kitchen, not because they were needy, but rather than let it go to waste.  I carried coffee, bread, butter, jelly, ice cream, cheese, salad dressing and little jars of pudding that I like so much.  I noticed when we placed them in her refrigerator that she had some of the same pudding jars, and we smiled in our mutual enjoyment of this dessert.  She asked me to sit down for a cup of coffee.  We needed to leave soon, but I decided I was not missing this moment.  It was warm and cozy inside with a couple of logs burning in her huge fireplace.  A long table covered in a bright vinyl tablecloth was placed in the center of the room, and a couple of chairs were near the fireplace.  A wooden staircase covered the opposite wall, and to the right the cooking range was next to a large china cabinet.  A door led to another room that seemed to be her storage room with shelves and cabinets.  She went into this room to get the coffee and a cooking pan.  The sink was to the right of the fireplace, and the refrigerator was near the staircase.  A fairly large television was on a cabinet in a far corner also near the stairs.  I felt privileged to sit with her and drink the hot coffee with a generous lump of sugar.  Finally I had to go, and I left hearing  “Merci beaucoup” for the grocery items.  I felt that I had received the best from the exchange.

Roses by her front door

When we drove down the hill she popped out of her house to smile and wave “Au Revoir!”

Beautiful view of Saint Emilion from the terrace at the cathedral.

We drove on to Bordeaux with a brief stop for lunch in Saint Emilion.  Such a beautiful place!  One day we will do more than use it as a drive-through for a quick meal.  We enjoyed the food and the view from Le Bistrot du Clocher.

My knight in shining armor on the right, who drove us safely on goat trails and super highways. He was IT technician for my computer and phone. Fantastic meals came from our French kitchen with Jim as Chef Incredible! He patiently waited for me to photograph cats, dogs, chickens and laundry on the clothesline. He allowed me backstage with motorcycle drivers – another story coming! Thanks, Jim!

Beautiful ancient architecture in Saint Emilion

A Best Western motel very close to the Bordeaux airport was our budget choice for the night.  The hallways to the rooms were decorated with posters of pin-up girls from the fifties.  Sorry guys, I didn’t get any photos. The dining room was themed as Route 66 with red vinyl-covered booth seating.  We had burgers and frites, and it would have seemed like the USA except the mademoiselle across from me ate her burgers and frites with a knife and fork.  I can hear you now saying that you have perfect manners and you do the same.  I don’t believe you.  I can see the salt on your fingers!

Thank you for joining us for pictures and stories for the month of May in France.  I will have more in the coming weeks.   Click for the France – pictures and storytelling page.

Read Chapter 23 – The Fun Was Just Beginning – in “A French Opportunity” to learn about my melt-down in Saint Emilion.

All pictures and stories are the property of Debbie Ambrous.

The rental agents – En Toutes Saisons –  for the rental house Moncrabou were helpful, polite and just great to deal with from start to finish, providing everything we needed.  Check with them for a rental house.  Just click on the sign below.