Friday, July 31, 2009

Barbecue Is Not a Verb.

Today's Wonder of the World is...Barbecue! Carolina Style!

Flickr photo by eekim
That's eastern North Carolina style, just between you and me. My South Carolina neighbors put mustard (mustard!) in their barbecue sauce, but don't be too disgusted. The poor dears were raised that way and don't know any better.

See the gorgeous pic above? It's the Precious Trinity of Pulled Pork Barbecue (with the proper vinegar with red pepper flake sauce,) slaw, and Brunswick Stew. (No need to fear lightning strikes for all the references to the divine; after all, God invented barbecue Himself. It's somewhere in Genesis I'm pretty sure.)

One doesn't barbecue. One makes barbecue. Or one eats it in a fine establishment like this.

Flickr photo by lumierefl
If you have no ball cap, not to worry. It's recommended, not required.
Know how to tell if a barbecue joint is promising?

Look for excessive pig statuary.
We love barbecue so much at our house that we worship our own American Idol.

Remember Mr. Pig?
Oh Mr. Pig, I adore you. I've loved you ever since I was six and had my first taste of your glorious Boston butt.
As I grew up, my barbecue appreciation deepened.
Then I became a Ramsey and experienced a whole new level of barbecue ecstasy.
It's because of this man.

That's Kerry, my father in law, the King of Barbecue, the Champ of the Pig Picking, the man who once played a practical joke on his new daughter in law by hiding an entire pig on ice in the guest bathtub. Don't worry, I was too busy staggering around, trying to give myself the Heimlich maneuver to take any photos.
Kerry makes barbecue the traditional way, by splaying the pig over a bed of hot coals and letting it cook hours and hours and hours.
It's quite an impressive undertaking. See for yourself!

Now for the fixings.
If you put barbecue in a sandwich, you must add slaw on top. It adds a nice sweet flavor and a coolness to the heat.

Flickr photo by mattlehrer
You must have a few hush puppies! What would the meal be without anything fried?

And for a beverage?
Easy! Just ask yourself What would Jesus drink?

Flickr photo by Godverbs
Sweet Tea of course!

For dessert?
You've got a choice. It's either banana pudding, nice and cold, NO MERINGUE...

Or sweet potato pie...

Flickr photo by Made in Mississippi
Or a big hunk of pound cake. I just pulled one out of the oven that I'd show you, but I want it to last the weekend. If I cut a wedge for you, boys would scurry out of the woodwork and make waste of it in seconds with their sharp little teeth. Seriously. It's happened.
Just imagine its almond-y goodness.

When we lived in France, we made the whole shebang for our French friends. They liked the barbecue (Porc Vinaigrette,) and thought the slaw was nice, but it was the pound cake that really wowed them. I'm still not sure why the barbecue wasn't the star. I can only attribute it to my lack of pig statuary.

So tell me, what does barbecue mean to you? Have you ever been to a pig picking, or are you not the barbarian type?
Have a wonder-full weekend, everyone!
Love, Becky
PS. If you're confused by all the different types of barbecue in the South, these North Carolina boys will make everything clear. In song!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Birthdays and Banana Pancakes

Today's Wonder of the World is...Birthdays and Banana Pancakes!

I can hardly believe that 17 years ago today I gave my mother quite the birthday present!
Happy Birthday Mom! Happy Birthday Ben!

It seems that just yesterday Ben was a little guy, running us all ragged with his daredevil ways,

begging for "yemonade" and to kiss us "with his yips." Now he's 6'3" and still keeps us laughing.

Plus he introduces us to good music!
Enjoy a nice plate of Banana Pancakes by Jack Johnson. With a candle on top!

Have a wonder-full Wednesday, y'all!
Love, Becky

Monday, July 27, 2009

Flexible Love and Other Cardboard Wonders

Today's Wonder of the World is...the Wonderfully Wacky Ways Creative People Use Cardboard!

Photo by
Yes, Cardboard! Want a rhino head for your living room wall? The guys at Etsy's Cardboard Safari have just what you always wanted and some things you've never thought of!
And I thought I was being so creative letting my children make a house out of the refrigerator box.
That reminds you know/have a child just learning to read? This was one of my boys' favorite books about that very subject. I highly recommend it.

Cardboard might not seem like a wonder to Miss Average Human Being, but if she watched this video on Flexible Love, she might just reconsider!
What's that?
No! Flexible Love is just the slightly awkward name of a crazy piece of furniture invented by Taiwanese designer Chishen Chiu. Take a look! You'll be amazed!

See what I mean?! Stylish furniture for that cardboard house!
The next thing you know we'll be making meals out of cardboard.
Hey look...some people already are!

Flickr photo by bre pettis
Or maybe you're not hungry. Perhaps you'd rather have two bucks?

Photo by
If you're still celebrating the anniversary of Apollo 11, you might enjoy this Astro Rocket.

Photo by
Or see the stars from a different perspective in this cardboard planetarium.

Flickr photo by cicadas

Cats like cardboard too.

Flickr photo by Sharon Pazner
Why wouldn't they, especially if the cat house was designed by artist Sharon Pazner and her nephew Ron. Remember Sharon? Very cool!

Have a wonder-full Monday, y'all! Enjoy the flexible love this kitty has for her own cardboard boxes.

Love, Becky

Friday, July 24, 2009

Who you calling a Lady, bug?!

Today's Wonder of the World is...the Ladybug!

Flickr photo by porcelain duck
Or ladybird, lady cow, may bug, or even Bishop that Burneth, depending where you live.
It's sort of a wonder that we often think of ladybugs as cute little creatures, when they're really just beetles with polka dots.
I don't normally invite beetles to crawl on me, though I will do that with a ladybug. I'd even ride around in this.

Flickr photo by becaneck
I saw one of those a couple days ago and remembered this cute little ladybug.

Hey Ladybug Gillian, who was born sans antennae but with that full head of blond hair. Hey mermaids Sarah and Katherine, and Baby Penguin Ben in my arms in the background. It's hard to believe he's almost 17 and now has chipmunk cheeks from having his wisdom teeth surgically removed.

Sorry, I got lost in yesteryear for a moment.

Back to ladybugs...
So anyway, I saw a ladybug car a week or two ago and then turned on the radio and heard the latest ladybug news. It seems there's ladybug craziness in the air.
See what I mean?

It's a puzzle, huh?
Suddenly it's a Ladybug Woodstock in some places,

Flickr photo by TienAnton
And other places? Nada!
The scientists need our help to figure it out. If you've got a budding entomologist at home--or maybe you're one yourself--hop over here and join in.
Who knows, they may be coming to your town next!

Flickr photo by skadoodle83
You might enjoy the visit. Legend says that if a ladybug lands on you, you get your wish. I remember hearing in France that if a ladybug (une bête à bon Dieu=the Good Lord's beast) crawls across your hand, you'll be married within a year. What do you get if you're already married?
I doubt they'll swing by my place. A few dozen had a family reunion in my bathroom last winter and sort of overstayed their welcome. We helped them out the door for a few days and then we resorted to...well, I won't go into details. It wasn't pretty.

Speaking of pretty, do you know how to tell a boy ladybug from a girl without looking down any ladybug trousers? The Manbugs are smaller. That's it.
Oh, and they don't like to be flirted with by rowdy bar bugs.

At least Francis doesn't.

Before you fly away, fly away, fly away home, tell me, how do you stand on the ladybug issue? Cute little beast or creepy crawly beetle?
The world wants to know. At least I do.
Have a wonder-full weekend, everybody!
Love, Becky

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Demolition + Teenagers + God + Civil Rights History = An Awesome Week

Today's Wonder of the World is...A Work Trip to Farmville, Virginia!

Tell me, please, what teenager doesn't love hanging out with a bunch of other kids for a week, tearing down buildings and building them back, eating too much fast food, and seeing history first hand?
Okay, so the kids could probably skip the history part. Unless they went with Todd and Sarah on a mission trip to Farmville!
Ever since Todd and Sarah returned home and started telling me about the life stories they found there, I knew I had to share it with you. I'm not even a history buff--that's Todd's department, yawn yawn--but what happened there moved me. It may move you too.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the Beulah African Methodist Episcopal Church of Farmville, Virginia.

Flickr photo by Ireed7649
A few months ago, our youth minister, Frank Smith, went to Farmville and asked a group of pastors if any area churches could use some help with construction needs. The kids were coming to the area anyway for youth camp the week before and would welcome the opportunity for five more days of service. Anyone need 100 kids and chaperones?
Reverend Wade of Beulah AME raised his hand.
He wasn't kidding. There was a lot of work to be done.

Little did our kids know that they were about to get a history lesson. A lesson in which Beulah AME played a major part!
Back in the fifties, all the black students in Farmville went to R.R. Moton High School. Much of the school consisted of tarpaper shacks with no running water or central heat. Barbara Johns, a brave young girl, organized a protest, which led to a strike.

The families finally filed a suit against Prince Edward County which was later incorporated into Brown vs. Board of Education.

After Brown vs Board of Education ruled segregation unlawful, the Board of Supervisors for Prince Edward County refused to give any funds to the county school board for five years, thus CLOSING ALL PUBLIC SCHOOLS!
They chose to close all public schools rather than integrate! FOR FIVE YEARS! Isn't that unbelievable?

Private schools sprung up all over for white families. Where would black children go to school?
This is where Beulah AME stepped in.

Young children went to school in church basements, but what about the older kids?
The ministers worked with the administration of Kittrell Junior College, an A.M.E. supported institution in North Carolina, to enroll students from Prince Edward County. They could graduate after all!

Now, back to the work to be done.
Here's the parsonage, the oldest piece of African American property in the county built by and for African Americans.

As you can see, it needed a lot of work.

There were other work sites too. The church itself needed quite a bit of repair, and a public elementary school had a project for our kids as well.

One of the highlights of the week was the Sunday morning service at Beulah. Everyone LOVED the music and the preaching...

Not to mention the amazing lunch prepared by the ladies of the church.

It was their favorite meal of the week.
The passersby couldn't get over the huge group of teens descending on their town. They kept asking, "Why are you doing this?" A couple folks even asked, "Why are you doing this for them?"
They answered, "Don't you think everyone deserves a nice place to worship?" After all, aren't we supposed to follow the example of another carpenter?
I guess even amongst all the goodwill present today, pockets of prejudice still fester. When Todd asked a funeral home if they would loan them one of their tents in order to shade the water coolers for the workers, the lady said, "Go ask the colored funeral home for theirs." Who still uses the word colored, anyway?

It amazes me how blind people of God can be to the humanity and pain of others. My beloved church has its own dark history. At one time years ago, black students were turned away on the front steps. Things are different now, thank goodness, but there are pockets of prejudice in our town too. It's good to be reminded of the history we share.

Have a wonder-full Wednesday, everybody!
Love, Becky

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Joy of Unplugging

Today's Wonder of the World is...Stepping Away from the Computer! (For just a little while.)

Hey friends! How I've missed you!
Two weeks ago I decided to take a little blogging break. Nothing drastic, just one week to rest my fingers from the tappity tap and rejuvenate my spirit.
I imagined I might do lots of this.

It didn't quite work out that way, but it felt really GOOD!
So I gave myself a second week off. I had gotten to a good stopping place in my writing work, so why not?
Now I'm relaxed and ready to scoot all over the internet and see what you've been up to.
Before I do, I thought I'd share a few vacation pics.

Hey Dad and my sweet niece Susie!
We all met at Sunset Beach for the 4th of July weekend and had a blast.
Ah summer. The salty ocean water.
The tomatoes!

Want some? I'm happy to share!

After my first week of vacation was over, something magical happened.
My family started leaving me.
I suppose this won't win me a Mother of the Year award, but I have to admit that I enjoyed the semi-solitude. First Todd and Sarah went on a mission trip to Virginia, then Ben left for running camp and Sam left for church camp in the mountains. With all the coming and going I think I had maybe 9 hours of being completely alone, but still, the quiet was DELICIOUS!

I'm sure I sound certifiably insane, but as I dropped my boys off for camp I could hardly wait to get back home to my paint brushes and spackling paste! Who needs a South Seas cruise or a weekend at the spa? I'm been dying to paint that bathroom for two years now! Give me eight hours to work without children interrupting!
I drank lots of coffee and lengthened my To Do list. Remember my half red couch? I could finally finish the slipcover! I could paint baseboards and move the furniture around, and no one would complain!

I became a tornado of busyness.
I painted my bathroom, and then I did the BEST THING I'VE EVER DONE IN MY WHOLE ENTIRE LIFE!

Okay, maybe replacing my towel bar isn't the best thing I've done in my entire life. But you have no idea how often that thing falls off the wall onto my feet. My toes have grown afraid of it and force me into the shower before I'm completely undressed, so I had to do something. After I fixed it, I danced around for five minutes, celebrating my awesome powers of handiness.

Then I saw this.

Tanner! Naughty dog!
In case you don't know what he's wearing, allow me to explain. That floral fabric is the slipcover of my other couch, the one I had taken off to mend. Tanner had worn holes in it from wallowing around on the pillows. Remember?

Now that one of the holes had become a neckline for Tanner, it was even bigger than before. No more procrastinating. The cushion slipcovers had to be replaced.


What's that?
It's my poor half red couch, sobbing in my bedroom.

Sorry, couch. I promise I'll get to you another day/summer!

So what is on your To Do list for the summer? Does crossing things off your list give you a similar shot of adrenaline, or is my life just a little bit sad?

Have a wonderful Monday, y'all!
Love, Becky
PS Before you go, I must confess. I didn't spend the entire two weeks unplugged. I just couldn't stop watching this little guy on youtube. I want to hire him to talk to me as I work. I bet I could repaint the whole house!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Three Cheers for Volunteers

Today's Wonder of the World is...Volunteering!

Flickr photo by ssoosay
You folks do so many good things for the communities in which you live--and beyond!
Let's celebrate that volunteer spirit today, okey doke?

A couple weeks ago I mentioned my Meals on Wheels Wednesdays, and a few friends asked me to share more about that. So I thought I'd take you with me and show you around, WITH ONE CONDITION: I'll tell you about Meals on Wheels if you'll share the cool things you do where you live.
No fair keeping quiet! Tell me about the work you do volunteering in schools, in your neighborhood, in faith communities, in the world of politics, on mission trips, et cetera. Pretty please? Otherwise I'll feel like I'm tooting my own horn. We all need inspiration, not to mention ideas of new things to try!

So here's where I go every other Wednesday morning.

It's the Meals on Wheels office for Greenville County. This organization provides hot meals daily for over 1500 homebound neighbors, free of charge.
It takes over 2500 volunteers to participate.
Some work in the kitchen, preparing and packing the meals.

Not me! I just show up and deliver the fruit of everyone else's labor. I get to play Santa Claus, giving away food for free! And I get a chance to get to know some amazing people. I've had the same route for several years now and love my clients dearly.

Anyway, back to my day...
We load up my cooler

And I get their milk and juice. (Forgive my blurry photos. I must start laying off the coffee in the morning!)

And I pick up the donated bread and treats. Notice the sign: Bread is for Clients Only. It looks really good!

Then I head off for the west side of town. My route is in one of Greenville's old textile mill villages. Our town used to be known as The Textile Jewel of the South, but most of the mills closed their doors at least twenty years ago, leaving the villages to slowly decompose.
I want to protect my clients' privacy so I won't share their sweet faces, but I'd love to show you around the neighborhood.

These are typical mill houses. There's so much history here!
There are a couple of trailer parks too.

And lots and lots of cats.

See them waiting for me? We deliver donated pet food along with the people food. The kitties see me and come running!
By the way, a local spay and neuter program is beginning to work in the community as well, offering their services for free.

I wish you could meet my clients. They're funny and sweet and very tough people. They need the food Meals on Wheels provides, but they also need the human interaction, the hugs, and the conversation. Several of them have no family left and spend their days completely alone. They break my heart and lift my spirit, all at the same time.

Plus, they're just so interesting!
Look what one of my clients carries around in his pocket!

A family of monkeys his daddy carved out of peach pits years ago!

I love their sense of humor.

In case you can't read it, that unreachable mailbox is labeled Bills.

So there it is, my Meals on Wheels route.
Now it's your turn. What volunteer jobs do you enjoy most? What would you like to try? I'd love to hear about it!

Have a super weekend, everyone! I'll be taking a little blogging break next week, but hopefully I'll have a chance to drop by your place and say hi!
Love, Becky