“The Tupperware Lady” – by Debbie Ambrous

"Crazy in Alabama" was in the library upstairs behind the chimney in the big house next door.  More about this beautiful home later.

“Crazy in Alabama” was in the library upstairs behind the chimney in the big house next door. More about this beautiful home later.

Wait a minute now, you can’t pack a library of books in our luggage.”  I pleaded that I would need the guide books and other essential reading material.  I left my favorite choices behind as we thinned the contents for two carry-ons and one large suitcase.  That’s how I happened to be visiting the large library in the big stone house next to the sweet cottage where we are playing like Duke and Duchess with furniture to match our occupation, if not the wardrobe. 

Porter, the extra nice fellow you will need to contact to follow your own French dream here in Brehemont, suggested that I might like to read “Crazy in Alabama” by Mark Childress.  A blurb from The Orlando Sentinel said the author is a “…skillful storyteller who fully understands his characters’ hearts and heads … hilarity and heartbreak go hand and hand.”

Sounded like I might want some of this; I could risk the chance of it rubbing off on me.

Just right away, I was caught up in the story about Meemaw, Peejoe, Aunt Lucille and Uncle Chester.  Lordy me!  I have an Aunt Lucille who ran a beauty parlor in Birmingham, and I named my son Chester.  These folks in the story were talking about Monroeville and Andalusia.  Andalusia is where I go to shop at Walmart.  Monroeville is just a few miles past our friends John and Ramola in Evergreen.  I was off to a good start on my book one evening while Jim slept beside me – he won’t allow me to tell you that he was snoring.  All was dark except for my bedside lamp and a small light in the kitchen that cast shadows on the crossed swords above the mantle and the faded tapestry on the wall.  Aunt Lucille was just beside herself telling how she was going to get into show business and play the part of Jethro’s girlfriend on the Beverly Hillbillies.  Meemaw asked about Uncle Chester’s reaction and Aunt Lucille allowed that he wasn’t saying anything at all which evidently was not like Uncle Chester. 

Suddenly, Lucille admits that she has killed Uncle Chester, and Meemaw doesn’t believe her and thinks she is just kidding.  I’m hoping she is too, but she has done, gone and done it.  Aunt Lucille says she poisoned Uncle Chester and then cut his head clean off.   They are all shocked, and I’m thinking about hiding myself under the covers.  But you ain’t heard nothing yet!  This looney woman had Uncle Chester’s head in a Tupperware bowl.  Don’t ask me about burping it to seal in for freshness.  If I get invited to a Tupperware party in Alabama, I’m checking to be sure that none of the guests are named Lucille.  Call me crazy, but I stopped on page 26 of the book.  Gotta think about that one for a while.

Trees and fields are the greenest of green. The white horse is there every time we pass.  I think he is a tourism decoy.

Trees and fields are the greenest of green. The white horse is there every time we pass. I think he is a tourism decoy.

Tupperware-lilacs

Flowers are everywhere, cushions included.  My Granny Bryan had the most beautiful amaryllis.  I wish I could buy one of these for all of my cousins: Gayle, Becky, Pam, Linda and more.  Tag said 48 euro, so sorry girls!

Flowers are everywhere, cushions included. My Granny Bryan had the most beautiful amaryllis. I wish I could buy one of these for each of my cousins: Gayle, Becky, Pam, Linda, Judy and more. Tag said 48 euro, so sorry girls!

Next day we were riding along one of the beautiful roads in France with cows in the meadows, fields sprigged with daisies and lined with purple and white lilacs.  Clusters of farmhouses with gardens of new green vegetables tenderly reaching toward the sunshine appeared along each curve in the road.  Inside a fenced courtyard, a shiny red car was parked with advertisement for Tupperware brightly emblazoned on its side. “Stop! Turn around.  I have to get a picture of that car.” Tupperware-car Jim thought I was out of my mind when I stalked around the fence and took the picture.  I told him all about Meemaw, Aunt Lucille and Uncle Chester – especially poor ole Uncle Chester!  I don’t think he believed me because he put a damper on my fun and said, “I’m putting a limit on how much wine you drink before you go to bed.”

We reached the Chateau Langeais and enjoyed our visit immensely.  I’ll tell you more about it later.  I loved the huge tapestries hung on the walls, and I was deeply engrossed in one when Jim said, “Have you noticed the French Tupperware lady in this scene?”  Where’s a good guillotine when you need one? 

Jim pointed to the grisly head in the lower right-hand corner - in the hands of the French Tupperware Lady

Jim pointed to the grisly head in the lower right-hand corner – in the hands of the French Tupperware Lady

I hope you like the pictures.  Some may not fit the story very well, but then again you may not want to see any that fit the story.

 Oh, and Mr. Childress, if you read this I just want you to know that I’m forgiving you for scaring me to death over here in France where my toilet is the other side of the cottage with a room full of antique furniture to stumble over after the fright unsettled my bladder.  Hope you won’t mind, none at all, about appearing right here on A French Opportunity.  Thank all of ya’ll, and please come back now.

I've selected my computer desk for A French Opportunity in Chateau Langeais.  What do you think?

I’ve selected my computer desk for A French Opportunity in Chateau Langeais. What do you think?

Let's go to Chateau Langeais next time.

Let’s go to Chateau Langeais next time.

  No Tupperware Ladies with scary stuff under the lid in this book.  CLICK AND SEE!

No Tupperware Ladies with scary stuff under the lid in this book. CLICK AND SEE!

“Living in a Mini-Banquet Hall” – by Debbie Ambrous

Very French small cottage that lives much larger than it appears.

Very French small cottage that lives much larger than it appears.

We’re living in a mini-banquet hall for two weeks in Brehemont, France.   Once you see the pictures, I’m sure you will agree.  A cottage, oozing character, perfect for two people – two characters from Opp, Alabama – is the launching pad for our adventures.  We will be in a different house for a month, beginning on the third of May.

bestfireplaceWe flew from Fort Walton Beach, FL to Atlanta, Georgia, with Paris as our final destination.  After dinner was served and when I thought I would drift into sleep after changing position in my seat again and again, I thought I heard an announcement saying the plane was turning around.  Finding my hearing aids, which I had removed to sleep without the sound of the jet engine, was suddenly a priority!  Once I regained hearing capability, I learned that a medical emergency had occurred and we were flying over an hour back to St. John, Newfoundland.  Baggage for the passenger had to be removed and the plane refueled before we continued our flight.  Overall, we lost at least 3 hours, but compared to the situation of the person who had to finish the trip on an ambulance to the hospital, who could complain? Our complications of more time on the plane, losing sleep and possibly missing our train connections were much less concern.  We made our train connection since the train was late, and a railway employee rushed us directly to a first-class car. 

Photo taken from mezzanine which has two beds

Photo taken from mezzanine which has two beds

Our cozy bedroom - Could you imagine anything more intimate, romantic and French?

Our cozy bedroom – Could you imagine anything more intimate, romantic and French?

Now, we are settled into the cottage with grocery shopping done and our sleeping patterns almost adjusted.  Jim is cooking a pot roast with little potatoes and carrots while I’m writing.  My eyes are getting heavy here on Saturday at 5:30 PM, so maybe I’m not nearly as adjusted as I thought.

Jim cooked sardines on Friday night, a feast in our banquet hall

Jim cooked sardines on Friday night, a feast in our banquet hall

sardinesWe had lunch yesterday across from the Chateu Ussé, the Sleeping Beauty castle. IMG_0704 After touring on a future day, I will tell you more since it is a stunningly beautiful castle only three miles, or less, from our cottage.  Langeais, across the Loire River via a beautiful bridge, is the nearest larger town with the main stores and the closest castle (pictures later) to our cottage.

Today, we went to Chinon and walked the ancient streets with our cameras clicking in unison.  Jim has my old camera since I upgraded, so I’m expecting his pictures to outshine mine.  We purchased mini quiches and a pastry to share at a boulangerie.  Then, I worked up the nerve to ask a waiter if it was permissible to eat our food purchases at the outdoor café tables in a beautiful location if we purchased drinks from him.jiminsquare  He said certainly, so I was glad I asked.  Eating on a park bench by the river is wonderful also, but this was much better.  We are hoping our days continue this way and the weather treats us kindly.  So far, it has been cool with the sun shining while we wander around pronouncing French words with our Alabama accents.  Ya’ll come back and pray for sunny skies and kind consideration to these strange, stumbling Southerners.

Merci to this cafe for allowing us to dine with our brought goodies.

Merci to this cafe for allowing us to dine with our brought goodies.

Steps away from our cafe table

Steps away from our cafe table

Please forgive the lack of detail in the story.  I’ll work on putting my mind in gear.  We are having fun and smiling at each other like much younger lovers instead of AARP members.  We hope ya’ll are happy and healthy! Love and kisses to Miss Kitty, the lady who designed the cottage and the big house next door, the former owner of both.  We wouldn’t be here if she had not lovingly described the cottage. 

Pink dogwood from Alabama on the property, introduced to French soil by Kitty

Pink dogwood from Alabama on the property, introduced to French soil by Kitty

Thanks to Kitty from the bottom of our hearts!

Read more about this charming home and cottage in A French Opportunity.  An entire section is devoted to it.  Click here to get your copy. 

“Ugly Happens” – by Debbie Ambrous

Doesn't this just make you want to pay admission for garden beauty?

Doesn’t this just make you want to pay admission for garden beauty?

Looking down the walkway and surveying the damage, here at the tail end of winter, I see a dead-ugly sago palm with its brown stumps forming a greeting committee.  Standing in line as the second hospitality sister is the dead jasmine with no heavenly- scented bower of white flowers and canopy of green leaves on the arbor.  Naked, brittle, brown vines cover the arbor in embarrassment after the Yankee weather with cold icy winds came down South to humiliate my garden.

Barren archway showcasing my garden saga

Barren archway showcasing my garden saga of the sago

  Jim asked why I kept standing at the glass door.  You are not going to resurrect those plants by standing in the doorway moaning.   Next thing I know, you’ll be dressed in black, wailing and tossing Alabama dirt on your head!  You never liked that sago palm anyway, and I can get two more jasmine vines at Walmart.  Quit stewing about the plant life and take care of important stuff like me! Come sit down and sew this button on my shirt.” 

Yellow pansies edge my flower bed; amaryllis will open soon with huge red and white blooms; dogwood branches are aflutter with white blooms; yellow and white daffodils are swaying with their last display of delicate petals; Sweet William (Dianthus) has a few early purple flowers with many buds, just waiting to burst open and my rose bushes are lush with green leaves and fat roses to come. 

Early-blooming rose covered in rain drops

Early-blooming rose covered in rain drops

rosetrellisazaleaIMG_0572The grass is green, and the birds are singing.  Stop standing at the door and looking at that small patch of bother!  It will work itself out.  You are not the only one with a dead sago palm.  Look over it and enjoy the wide expanse of beauty all around it. 

doorwaywithbistro

Frances Mayes, a favorite writer of mine, wrote in a book of hers about a wonderful island.  She said the flowery landscape was so lovely that she would go to the poolside and “drink a cup of beauty” each day.  I loved that imagery, but I’m here to tell you that she could drink a bucket of ugly while driving some of our South Alabama roads.  Now don’t tar and feather me! I love this country as much as the rest of my fellow folks here among my kin and friends.  But just take a good long look at the discarded and rusted trucks – some with trees growing from them! Non-functioning appliances decorate front porches and outdoor plastic pools with the sides crushed and crumpled linger on the lawns with multiple rusted lawnmowers.  Just when I think I’ve seen the worst, another monstrosity smacks me in the eye which could only be described as unbelievable.  Warning signs are posted stating “No Trespassing” or “Keep Out” – like anyone would even want to enter.  Seeing it was quite enough, thank you!   Then, thinking about my own personal Sago Ugly Spot, I thought it is comparable to what Forrest Gump said, “S— happens.”  Except, in this instance, the saying would be, “Ugly happens!”

I’m still working on that stack of clothes on the bed that I mentioned last week. 

I hope you will join me again to find a "cup of beauty" in France.

I hope you will join me again to find a “cup of beauty” in France.

Our trip is coming soon now.  Mabel, a lovely friend will be looking after our house, plus keeping an eye on the ugly spot to keep me posted in France.  Ya’ll come back to visit us.