“Yard Sale” – by Debbie Ambrous

Food & Drink is usually available at Antique Sales and Vide-Grenier in France

Food & drink is usually available at Antique Sales and Vide-Grenier in France.  This gentleman had good food at Richelieu for the antique/junk sale.

YARD SALE – Saturday, April 25, 2015 – I should be sitting here with $100.00+ in my pocket, my big bucks reward from a yard sale. But it didn’t happen that way. My pink Capri pants have empty pockets except for lint and a Walmart receipt for my purple petunias and bell pepper plants. All of the stuff piled in my second bedroom plus the bicycle in the shed should be gone with folks who would be bragging about their steal-of-a-deal prices. The plan was an early, early start. Unbelievably, I woke up at dawn. The wailing tornado sirens could have been responsible for jarring me out of my comfortable bed to lightning, heavy winds and thunder, not to mention the heavy rain. No yard sale on Saturday! I shouldn’t count my chickens before they hatch, or order new shoes expecting the wise Ben Franklin on folding money to pay for my pretty new Sketchers. I had to grab the opportunity and place the order before they were gone!
To succeed, jump as quickly at opportunities as you do at conclusions.
Benjamin Franklin

Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.”
Benjamin Franklin

Last night I was pricing two of Jim’s perfectly fine suits at $5.00 each which he could wear if he would give up second helpings of the good food he cooks. Luggage that made it to France and back in the hands of Air France baggage handlers is waiting in the bedroom with no place to go, marked at $5.00 each. I starched and ironed shirts and stuck on 75 cent labels. Normally, no one could pry me from my easy chair to iron a shirt on Friday night for a paltry 75 cents! But people are not normal when they have a yard sale, or when they go to one.
“We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.”
Benjamin Franklin

I was amused to read about an Englishman who threw a big sale after his divorce. He said his neighbors were suddenly blind and came to him asking stupidly, “How much do you want for this?” despite the fact that a red-lettered sticker plainly stated the price. He kept going on with the hagglers until he was fed up. One customer stood there trying to offer money to him when he announced to the group, “Take it! Take ALL of it!! I don’t want the money. Just take the stuff and leave.” Reading this as preparation for our great sale, I knew not to go completely bonkers, but Jim does not read this helpful information. Why read when there’s always another Star Trek show to watch? That’s his motto. Live long and prosper and arrange a thunderstorm on his wife’s yard sale.IMG_3452

The French yard sales are not usually a single family deal. The vide grenier events could be spread through the center of small villages, or across a field in the country. I check the information on vide grenier (which means empty the attic) on the computer before and during my visits to France. I also look for signs along the road and visit tourist bureaus for the latest information. IMG_3463IMG_3247IMG_3467Some of the happenings have clothing, toys, household goods just like American yard sales, but their junk is different than our junk. Starting with the language difference, what manufacturer would sell a little girl’s bike with the name Pukey in pink letters and glitter? I didn’t keep notes on the exact names on the toys and other goods, so I’m making up the Pukey name, but many of the names had unusual and funny meanings in the English language.IMG_3451 It was great entertainment while I was sampling the cheese and finding bargains! The vide grenier will often have grilled meat, drinks and even dessert for sale.  It’s great fun to take a seat, eat a bite and people-watch.IMG_3454IMG_3458Maybe I could talk Jim into cooking hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill at our yard sale. More money from the food venture could pay for another pair of shoes!

“You might be a redneck if you’ve ever barbequed Spam on the grill.” – Jeff Foxworthy

Good stuff with low sticker prices is cluttering up my second bedroom like the Ann Taylor heels that I wore to my youngest daughter’s wedding. I’m figuring if any of my children get married, or re-married, at this point I will wear Dr. Scholls. Back in our tool shed is a like-new bicycle only used once by a little old man who prefers watching Science Fiction instead of zipping around our neighborhood. I asked Jim, “Could you check the weather for next weekend and see if we can schedule our yard sale again?” He said, “Could I just pay you not to have this sale?” I thought a minute and replied, “How much?” His offer was $50.00, and I turned him down. Upping the amount, he said, “How about $100.00?” Remembering the charge on the credit card for the shoes that would arrive on UPS next week, I gave in and accepted his deal. Thinking about the cash in hand, a minute later I asked, “Wait a cotton-picking minute! Where did you get this money? It didn’t come out of my top drawer, did it? Jim??!! Come back here!!

KindleBen Franklin says: “Get your copy of – CLICK HERE A French Opportunity! –  It’s the best book on France written by a lady from Opp, Alabama.”  Totally conjecture, but after a tall glass of iced tea and a plate of Jim’s barbecue I’m sure he would agree.

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
Benjamin Franklin

“My Admirer” – by Debbie Ambrous

A pottery shop, library and bistro in the caves - Turquant, France

A pottery shop, library and bistro in the caves – Turquant, France

I have an admirer. Not a handsome French fellow with an accent that makes me weak in the knees. No, my admirer is a bright-eyed, inquisitive and energetic young girl. She fires questions at me rapidly and seems to enjoy my style of berets and boots. She knows that I have hot flashes, and she noticed the fans that I flip quickly from a handbag when the heat attacks me. With thoughtfulness, she presented a lacy, orange fan as a gift, coincidentally, when I wore jewelry that perfectly matched my frilly fan. You see, I do have an admirer!

My grandchildren live far away. When I think of this, I get teary-eyed. I know that I did the same to my mother, keeping her little loved ones, her grands out of reach for a hug except a few times a year. Maybe she had little admirers. I’m sure that Mama did have little ones to lavish with love since she bought toys and clothing for children with names and faces unfamiliar to me. I purchased a ruler with templates of French words and a cat for my admirer when I last went to France. My lovely little friend listens eagerly when I talk about France. I hear about her travel to many places in the United States, and her knowledge revealed in these stories shows she is much smarter than one would expect from an eleven-year-old.

She is loved, trained and nourished at home, not a needy child. But a child’s development doesn’t stop at home. Do you remember teachers, neighbors, aunts, uncles and other special people from your childhood who took the time to play a role that caused you to admire them? Years later, I remember: Mrs. Nix who first called me Debbie, instead of Deborah, and it stuck; Mrs. Nalls who sewed many of my dresses until I was married; Mrs. Thompson who listened to all of my teenage angst; Mrs. Sasser, a retired schoolteacher, tried patiently to correct my grammar, and spent time with me in a room without air-conditioning during the hot summer; Aunt Faye who told me how a nice, proper lady should be a hostess for a party and many, many other lovely people remain with me in memories.

It takes a village to raise a child.” – African Proverb

My little admirer, Lindee, was traveling in the car with me today. I mentioned that I was considering a rental house in the French Alps for our next trip to France. Her exuberant imagination kicked in, and she said: “Wouldn’t it be fun if you could stay in a cave in the French Alps?” I replied, “I don’t know about cave houses in the Alps, but there were very many cave houses in the Loire valley, the area we last visited.” IMG_3216IMG_2545IMG_3214Her eyes widened and bumper-to-bumper questions bubbled out: “Really!!? People lived in caves? Where is the Loire? What was it like? What city was it near?”

I explained that we saw the houses all over the place in the rock-face of hillsides. People do live in the cave homes, and there were many wineries in the cool caves which we visited. There are hundreds of miles of caves in the Saumur area. Some have been converted into troglodyte homes, restaurants, museums, farms for mushrooms, a rose water distillery, a disco and even a hotel. CLICK here for Demeure de la Vignole, a 4-star hotel with twelfth-century troglodyte rooms and all modern comforts.  (Click here for a unique cave property for rent on your next vacation in the Loire.) I told Lindy about a troglo zoo where large animals live in open quarries and enclosed caves display bats!  Sorry, no, I do not have pictures!IMG_3235IMG_3232CLICK here for Domaine Des Amandiers, our favorite cave winery. (Special thanks to Marc Rideau! We loved our bottles of wine.) The community of Turquant, France near Saumur had their library and a bistro in the caves. Youngsters were coming and going with books and ice cream bars after riding bikes up the hill to the library in the cave. We enjoyed the artwork on display in the cave showrooms.

Lindee was sorting all of this new information in her fast-processing brain. She was on to another subject before we hit the next turn in the road. There will be many turns in the road ahead for her. I hope her journey is a safe and happy one. You see, I am an admirer of Lindee.IMG_3234This story and the pictures of caves in France are dedicated to Lindee. I hope you have admirers like Lindee in your life.  I would enjoy hearing about them in the comments.