Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Everything's a Miracle...

Today's Wonder of the World is my favorite song in the whole wide world. I'd love to share it with you, but first I should say that every time I see one of these little guys, I start singing it.

I asked my beautiful husband to attract more of those red-winged birds to our house, so I'd be inspired to sing it even more often. Here's what he came up with...

Isn't he creative? It's made from pieces of a wine crate and some old pencils Tanner chewed up. I do love a man who recycles.

Back to the whole reason for this post...
If I ever got the chance to send a message to the world, I'd sing this song. On second thought, I'd beg Peter Mayer to do it for me. He wrote it and recorded it on his amazing CD, Million Year Mind. He's not a religious singer songwriter, but if anyone ever asked me what holiness means, I'd tie them up and make them listen to it. Promise me you'll listen all the way through. It may surprise you. Or maybe not.

If you love it as I do, you can read the lyrics/poem, here.
But listen first. (How about me, ordering you around!)

Enough suspense.
Enjoy, my friends!
And tune in tomorrow for the wackiest thing I can't live without.

Monday, April 28, 2008


This may not be a Wonder of the World

but it tickles me.
See, the phone numbers are the same.

It makes me imagine this:

Not exactly Child Care At Its Best, but hey, at least they're corralled.

This reminds me of the old advertisement I have hanging up next to my back door.
I love babies, and sometimes I start to get this nutty idea that I'd like to have Child #4. (Yes, I'm well aware that I have a soon-to-be 18 year old, plus two other kids and a dog that thinks he's my fourth child.) So I hung the advertisement up as a preventive measure. Whenever I start dreaming about baby toes and that sweet baby smell, I look at it and come to my senses.

Plus it's funny.

Of course, if you haven't had children yet, pay this no mind.
I love mine madly.

Bwaa ha ha ha.

(I really do!)
Happy Tuesday!

American Gothic With Dog

Today's Wonder of the World is...

Todd, the farmer!
This is me and my husband Todd. I really don't deserve to be in this picture because I have nothing to do with growing anything but children.

Todd is not really a farmer. He just plays one on the weekends.
Don't laugh, but here's our back 40, as the farmers say.

Yes, our little farm is on an old coffee table.
There's a reason for that.
Here it is.

Tanner is a retriever, which means supposedly he loves to retrieve. Birds. From ponds and lakes and rivers.
There is no reason that I know of for why he likes to dig in freshly turned soil. Maybe he's a farming retriever, trying to retrieve roots or vegetables or baby seedlings that a hard working part- time farmer has lovingly planted.
Tanner loves to dig and dig and dig and get the mud between his doggy toes, and then run in the house and jump on our couch.

That is why we have to farm on a table.

Yes, we know we will have to water a lot. Many people (every person who has walked into our back yard) have told us that. We, I mean Todd, has been doing that and look at how much it's grown in just a few days!

So far Tanner has not bothered it, although he has bothered our tiny herb garden. He likes Lemon Thyme the best.

Just ignore Flat Stanley there. If you have elementary school aged children, you probably know who Flat Stanley is. My sweet niece Susanna sent him to us. He goes on adventures with us, and we take pictures and send them to her class. Last week Flat Stanley almost got more adventure than he bargained for.

Tanner almost ate Flat Stanley.
But for now he will settle for Lemon Thyme. It's not a bad sacrifice. He leaves the tomatoes and peppers alone, and I don't really know what to do with lemon thyme anyway.
It keeps Farmer Todd happy, and it's done wonders for Tanner's doggy breath.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Knock, Knock. Who's there?

Today's Wonder of the World is a heurtoir, a door knocker.

Isn't the lady's hand pretty? Hopefully that's just colored chalk it's dusted with, so that we can see the details. If not, they have a worse pollen problem than even we do in Greer. But I won't complain. A nice person, here, at flickr let me show it to you.

How I love French knockers.
Here's one I bought for cheap at a flea market.

I thought I would be funny and mount it on the inside of my front door, instead of on the outside, just as a joke. See, here it is. (Ignore the empty flower urns. I've got ivy and geraniums in the garage, waiting to be planted, but I've been doing other things. Like writing a blog, okay?)

Tanner is hoping we're going for a walk. Later, Tanner sweetie. I promise.
Anyway, if you stand by the door and knock on it, you feel as if you're standing on a porch to the outside world. When I first put it up, this struck me as hilarious. But it seems to confuse people, especially teenagers. Several have asked me, "Miss Becky, do you know that you have the door knocker on the wrong side of the door?"
"It's a joke," I always say, and they say, "Ohhhh."

Lately teenagers have not been appreciating my sense of humor.

Here's an example. Let me tell you about an embarrassing moment that happened to me just a couple days ago. (If you've read French By Heart then you know that I have a weird compulsion to share my most embarrassing stories.) It made my 15 year old Ben try to crawl under the car mat, and it embarrassed me too, once I realized that I had become one of those parents.

Ben was going to drive us to church, but as we were about to get in the car I saw a group of my neighbors at the foot of my driveway, cooing over a brand new neighbor baby. So what did I do? I yelled out at the top of my lungs, "Hey y'all! You might want to move out of the way! Ben is behind the wheel and he's coming right for you!"

I don't know why I did that.

I got in the car. Ben had his eyes closed.
"Mom." he said. 'You did not just yell that. Mom. Mom. Why?"
"I uh..I just wanted to..."
"Mom, you're becoming like Dad!"

To make matters worse, when he pulled out onto the street, I tried to make amends. I reached over him and yelled out the driver's side window, "Sorry! Now Ben is mad at me for dissing his driving."

Ben froze. We sat there for a second.
"Mom. You did not. Just say. Dissing."

So there you go. A warning to you: Do not use the word dissing in front of your children. It's not a bad word, but it humiliates them.

But then I did my Meals on Wheels route yesterday and I saw something that cheered me up. There are people who share my sense of humor. Yey!

In case you can't see it, that top mailbox, the one out of everyone's reach, says BILLS.
Ha ha. Happy Friday to you! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Le cafe!

Today's wonder is a foamy cup of cafe au lait.
Mmmm. I'll just linger here just a minute, if you don't mind.

I liked coffee before we moved to France, but while we were there? I took it as a lover.
Sorry. Did I say that?
But I do love it so. I love everything about it. The taste of course--the rich dark flavor you can only get in France-- and the foamy steamed milk of a cafe au lait that sticks to my upper lip. But not just that. I love the cups and the saucers and the tiny spoons. The sugar cubes and the sugar sticks.

Not these, so much,

Although I do like the brand name Daddy. Daddy sugar. That's funny. Not sugar daddy. (Maybe I'm just easily amused.)

I loved ones more artfully done. Like these.

Did you know that in France, people frequently collect the sugar wrappers? I found a great site for you, here. Hop over for a sec and take a look at the collections.

Wasn't that amazing?
I collected wrappers for a short while when we lived there (which was a brilliant excuse for more trips to the cafe) until one day Todd asked me if I had gone bonkers with all these papers cluttering up the drawers. Didn't I know that mice also love sugar laced paper?

This awakened a fear I'd had since a child, when my mother told me about when she was a little girl and found a nest of baby mice in a dresser drawer.

I gathered up all my wrappers, put them in our little bitty French trash can, and became fascinated with sugar bowls instead. I love the French sugar domes. Like this plain one here.

And then one day I found it: a sugar dome that made my joy complete. A French company named Pylones made it, along with a whole slew of the most fun utensils I've ever seen. I'd never been so thrilled to examine a dustpan. Seriously. Take a look at their company website, here. I think it's the most beautiful product website I've ever seen. (Play around on it when you have time and you'll see what I mean.)

Cute, huh?
Anyway, I coveted this sugar bowl for weeks, until my beautiful husband, worn down by all my hinting, bought it for my birthday. Here it is.

Isn't she so cute? Since we're American again, she holds Splenda.
Still, I wish I had some of these.

I've got to get some coffee now. Like Johann Sebastian Bach once said, "Bring me a bowl of coffee before I turn into a goat."

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Gorgeous Wonders

Let me introduce you to today's Wonder of the World! This person has an amazing smile, is easy on the eyes, and is loved by everyone he or she meets!

It's my friend Mittie!
That's her friend George Clooney beside her. I'll get to him in a minute.

Mittie works in the youth ministry office at my church and is a second mom to our big group of teenagers. She even makes time now and then to go to their track meets and games. It's just the kind of person she is. I love her.

Mittie has an especially happy look about her in the picture, doesn't she? The photo was snapped while George was playing basketball in the church gym during a break from the shooting of the movie Leatherheads, which was filmed (partly) here in Greenville and Greer. Right on my very own stomping grounds! Mittie took video of the basketball game. I've seen it and it's great. It shows nothing about his athletic ability since she spent the whole time following his lovely face around, but really, who cares about basketball?

Mittie's amazing.

Now, on to George.
Don't think I'm a stalker just because I'm showing you this.

Yes, even George is a human being with normal physical needs.

And here he is again.

Oh, Renee Z. was there too. Here they are just a few weeks ago when the movie came out. They came to thank everyone and pick up the keys to the city. I was upstairs in the library at the time, writing my little heart out. But I heard that when they spoke, they talked about the weeks they spent here and how much they loved Greenville and Greer.

What's not to love? Take a look at Main Street, Greenville. Isn't it pretty? I'll show you Greer next week. It's beautiful too.

And here's the Poinsett Hotel, which they transformed into another hotel for the movie. (On a side note, Sarah had her prom there.)

Very nice.
But the best part of Greenville is right off Main Street, the Reedy River Falls. There was an arts festival downtown this weekend and we took pictures from the bridge.

Guess what used to be at that site. A textile mill of course! This was the Textile Jewel of the South, remember?
Here's the view off the bridge.

Click on it for a better look.

Don't let George and Renee have all the fun. Come for a visit! But if you can't make the trip, this might be fun. Mittie says its cute, but she may have meant George.

Life in France Is A Oui Bit Different

The debut of French By Heart, as covered by my hometown paper, The Greenville News...
(Click on the photos for a readable view.)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I'd Like to Thank the Academy...

I'm so lucky to have such generous blogging buddies!
Thank you, friends!

Thank you Kelly!

Thank you TattingChic! You're a sweetheart!

Thank you, Jama, at Jama Rattigan's Alphabet Soup

Thank you Pamela, From The House of Edward, and Green Girl in Wisconsin!

Thank you, Tara, of Tatted Lace Treasures!

Thank you Renae from Pocket Full of Prettys!

Thank you, Couture de Papier, Barb of The French Elements, and Vintage Moon Studio !

Thank you, Tatting Chic!

Thank you, Nikki, of The Scarlett Rose Garden!

The Bookworm Award

Thank you, Tatting Chic!

Fixing things, and a sincere question for bloggers

This is not so much a Wonder, but a Wonder Why.

Take a look at my sink. See what's been stuck in there for oh...two months now?

Okay, wait a minute.

Before I get to the point of today's blog, I have a confession to make. My sink doesn't usually look this good.
I cleaned it for you. With Soft Scrub.
You're a guest in my house, and I didn't want you to see the grime, the stray hairs, the slimy bar of soap. But I really want to be honest here and not make things look better than they really are. So before I get to the point of this post, here's what my tub looks like.

Tanner says hello. He's smiling because he thinks I'm going to give him a bath. I used to think that I wanted a whirlpool tub, but have you ever tried to clean those little jets? It's impossible. The only family members that have ever used this tub are Sam, when he was four, and Tanner, who doesn't care for the jet feature.

Back to looking at my tub. I've seen much, much worse in my house, but still. There's a ring around it if you look close, and some dog hair, (but that's everywhere. ) It's full of dirty towels because a terrible stomach bug hijacked the house a few weeks ago and let's just say the bathmats were casualties. I tried to clean them, but finally couldn't take it anymore and threw them out. I'm too cheap to buy new mats right now, and so all the people who use my shower throw a towel on the floor when they get out and stand on that. I have way too many people using my shower. My youngest says the shower in the kids' bathroom is scary. I looked at it and I have to agree.

Anyway, back to the whole point of this.

See the scissors in the sink? They're stuck there because two months ago the rod for my stopper came all the way out, making the sink stopper perpetually closed. This has happened before and I've fixed it. Counting the time to find the wrench, (eight minutes,) the whole operation takes maybe ten minutes. It's not brain surgery.

But no, I don't do that. I just leave the scissors in when I want the water to drain out, and take them out when I want to fill the sink.

Are you still with me? I'm getting to my point.

The weird thing about this, the reason why I call this a Wonder Why, is that this behavior is completely opposite of how I conduct my working life. With my writing, I can't seem to control my urge to fix things. I will work on one chapter for weeks, fixing it and fixing it again, refining it when I really should move on and go back later. Often all that work is for naught, because a chapter gets thrown out in the end. Or is greatly changed.

I've been at this blog less than a week, and my urge to refine is just as bad.
Yesterday, five minutes after I posted, I sneaked back into the post and edited again. And then again. And just once more. An hour later, a bigger wave of insecurities washed over me. Did I sound too Pollyanna, talking about how the universe was full of goodness? Or too New Age? Would I scare people by mentioning God? Should I tell people I sew? I'm not channeling Martha Stewart or Betty Homemaker (not that there's anything wrong with that:) I'm just too cheap to buy costumes I can make myself.
And look at my wording! I could do a better job with just a little more time. Just one more edit. Please?

I spent all day long thinking about that dumb post, when I was supposed to be getting my writing work done.

So here's my question, bloggers, and anyone else that wants to contribute. Respondez, s'il vous plait:

How do you let go of what you send out into the internet, and not obsess about it all day long?
How do you not check for comments constantly? How do you go on with work, especially if you're like me and have no boss looking over your shoulder?

Thank you.
I hope that didn't sound too desperate. Maybe I ought to edit this out.

On second thought. NO.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Time keeps on tickin', tickin'

Here's today's Wonder of the World.

This weekend was quite a whirlwind at my house. You'll excuse me today if I get a little Sunrise, Sunset on you. It won't last long, I promise. And there are embarrassing photos at the end.

I would like for someone to please tell me how a child that looks like this last week--or maybe it was last Halloween...

Could look like this on Saturday?

It was Sarah's senior prom. Soon she'll be abandoning me, heading off on her own, leaving me stranded in a house full of boys. How will I cope? Even my dog likes to burp.

Maybe it's because graduation is quickly approaching, but in the last few weeks I've realized all the things I never taught her. Or maybe it's because a few days ago she walked into the kitchen and handed me a piece of paper, and said, "Mom, here's a list of all the things you never taught me."

I read them. She was right.

So we're working on crossing them off the list. So far I've taught her how to clean a bathroom properly--not just good enough for her, but good enough for company. We've made chicken noodle bake, learned how to change a tire and how to replace a set of windshield wipers. (Okay, so her father helped on the last two.) We still have to work on balancing the checkbook, and she wants to know about taxes and social security.

I may have missed big blocks of things, but hopefully not the really important ones. She knows we love her more than anything, that we believe in her, that God loves her, and that even though it doesn't always look like it, the universe is full of goodness. (But she should still lock her doors and never go anywhere alone at night.) And I hope I've also taught her to find her passion and follow it. (The work kind of passion, not the boy kind. She should not follow that at all. At least for eight or ten years.)

Okay, I promised you embarrassing photos.

In the spirit of prom-love, here's my handsome husband at his senior prom, 1979. Note the brown silk accents on his white tux.
I like the clouds and stars too. The prom committee worked hard on those.

I'm not sure what that big blue thing is, (I would say that it looks like an enormous breast intruding into the picture, but between the peach/hiney picture from last week you might think I was a little body part obsessed and I'm not) but doesn't Todd look good? No wonder I fell for him!

I didn't go to my senior prom, but don't cry for me Argentina. I can't remember why I didn't go, but I wasn't broken up about it. I went out with my spinster girlfriends and then went home and wrote poetry and listened to Simon and Garfunkel. (It was an old album even then. I'm not that ancient.)

But just to prove that I wasn't a hermit-child, here's a picture of me and my date at the Queen of Hearts Dance (senior year, 1982.)

Kind of a gloomy background. I think I prefer the clouds and stars.
Wait a second. I just noticed something.

Hey! Our dresses--they're remarkably alike! Sarah picked out the pattern for hers, and I sewed it up and never noticed!
Like mother, like daughter!

Since Sarah and I appear to be similarly hypnotized by yards of tulle and shoulder frills, perhaps you should help add things to our list of how-to necessities. Are there other things to teach her before it's too late? Or tell me your prom stories. I know you have them!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Happy Friday!

This is not today's Wonder of the World.

Although it is pretty wonderful.

We live in Peach Land, and this water tower is about 45 minutes from our house. Sue Monk Kidd wrote about it in The Secret Life of Bees, except she changed it to a giant peach on a pole inside T. Ray's peach farm. If you drive down I-85 through South Carolina, you can't miss it. When my brother's friend Mike first laid eyes on it, he said he wanted to marry a woman with a hiney like that. I don't know if that worked out for him or not, but every time I drive by Gaffney and see the peach, I think about Mike and his lustful desires.

No, today's Wonder of the World is what upstate South Carolina is really known for--or at least used to be. Think John Edwards.
No, not Nice Hair. Try again.
It's a textile mill. John Edwards' parents worked in one in Seneca, about 40 minutes from me.

More specifically, today's wonder is The Textile Mill Village. That's what interests me. The people and how they lived.

Not this so much.

It's not a very pretty photo.

But I do like looking at it because that mill used to be right around the corner from my house. It was the very first mill built in this part of the state, first constructed in 1820, long before the postcards described Greenville as The Textile Jewel of the South. During the Civil War it was churning out fabric for Confederate uniforms, and it kept going strong until the mid 1930's. The mill burned down in 1943.

Here's all that's left of the mill itself.

This is the mill office. They moved it across the street when they built the new road. If you look at the old photo, you can see it in the right bottom corner. When we first moved to Greer/Greenville in 1990, this building was used as a post office. The old postman didn't always have stamps, but he did give out lollipops to kids for free. I'd love to fix it up and live in it. But my husband says over his dead body.

And this is left too.

Remember the river picture from yesterday? The same river powered the mill. I think the dam is lovely.

But my favorites are the mill houses. There used to be hundreds around this mill, but now there are just a few.

I do a Meals on Wheels route in another mill community across town, and just about everyone I serve worked their whole lives in the mill. My friends say I'm awfully nice to volunteer, but they don't know that I'm just obsessed with this mill village thing. That, and I like the people. They invite me in and tell me about their lives, working and living to the rhythm of the whirring looms and the dinner whistle. It's a feast for both of us.

Have a great weekend everyone!