Friday, October 30, 2009

Peter Mayer

Hi friends. Welcome back to Music Week here at Wonders Never Cease!
For this last post of the week, I had a hard time deciding who to feature. Ingrid Michaelson or Lisa Hannigan? Jack Johnson or my dear friend Kyle Matthews? Or maybe Owl City, a band I discovered a while back because one of the members is the daughter of some friends of mine--and now they're making it big! (Yey Laura!)

But in the end, my heart belongs to Peter.
The quote on his website describes him best:

Peter Mayer writes songs for a small planet—songs about interconnectedness and the human journey; about the beauty and the mystery of the world. Whimsical, humorous, and profound, his music breaks the boundaries of "folk", and transcends to a realm beyond the everyday love song, to a place of wonder at the very fact of life itself.

Oh Peter, how I love you and my most favorite song in the whole wide world, "Holy Now," which you wrote. I blogged about the song way back in April 2008, so maybe you won't think I'm repeating myself if I gush on about it again. I can't help it, people, because I'm CRAZY about that song.
It's on this CD, which I also love.

Ready? Here's "Holy Now."

I love it even more now that I've heard it in person.
Yep, Peter lives in Minnesota and doesn't get to this side of the country very often, so when we heard he was coming to Asheville, North Carolina, for a concert last weekend, of course we had to go! The hour and a half drive was a pleasure. The leaves were at their peak, as you can see in this blurry photo.

Hey! That scene sort of matches his new CD. See?

It's exciting to get to meet people who inspire me, so I'm still sort of starstruck.
And living off this hug!

It's me and Peter Mayer! The singer/songwriter of my most favorite song!
I'll stop gushing now.
I hope you have the spookiest of Halloweens.
Hey, here's the perfect Peter Mayer song to get you started! The singing starts around the 50 second mark.

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

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


It's Music Week here at Wonders Never Cease, so come have a seat on the sofa with this lovely couple. Have you met? No? Allow me to introduce you to Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn, the ultra cool musicians of Pomplamoose.
My friend Madison introduced me to them through a link on Facebook. I nearly missed clicking on the video, but the band's name caught my eye. Pomplamoose? The word looks like pamplemousse, the French word for grapefruit, but it's spelled so that when you say it, you pronounce it the French way. Sort of.
A band named Grapefruit? I must investigate. So I clicked.
See what you think.

Isn't that crazy?
I totally get the name. Grapefruit. Sweet but sour. Whimsical and sincere. (Aren't all grapefruits whimsical and sincere?)
There's so much to love here. Nataly's voice and her beautiful harmonies (with herself.) The wide spectrum of instruments they play. The homemade videos showing their recording process. Plus, they're both so interesting to watch!

Hooked by the first video, I started searching for more.
I love Hail Mary...

And their version of Nature Boy.

You know what else? They sing in French! Of course they do. They're called Pomplamoose, after all. They sing one of my favorites, Edith Piaf's La vie en rose. While playing a toy piano and doing hand clapping games. See?

If you like what you see, hop over to their myspace site and find out more.
I wish for you la vie en rose today, mon ami!
Have a wonderful Wednesday!
Love, Becky

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Whoa Nellie!

Hey y'all! Snapping fingers at the ready? It's Music Week here at Wonders Never Cease!
I thought I'd post about new music that makes me happy, okey doke? I hope you'll tell me about your latest faves too. I LOVE discovering something new to listen to.

Have you met Nellie McKay? Her last name rhymes with pie, which is perfect given the name of her latest album. (See above.) I just found Nellie earlier this month when NPR did a feature on that album, but she's been around for a while. Her debut album, Get Away From Me, (a play on Norah Jones' Come Away with Me) came out in 2003, and I can't stop singing her songs.
Like this one.

Isn't that delightful? She's clearly having a blast with that song.
I've been singing it all weekend, and it's a good thing for Tanner the Slobber Dog that I have, given his latest shenanigans. Want to see?
I noticed something strange in the backyard and headed out the door. As you can see, he was in a hurry to show off his handiwork.

What's that? Sam's favorite bear and...another $3 container of red pepper hummus.

Naughty dog.

I better put on some Nellie McKay and get happy again. Have a few minutes? Poke around on YouTube a bit. You might fall in love with her too.

Have a great Monday, y'all!
Love, Becky

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Please, Br'er Rabbit, Don't Put Me in the Corner!

Hey friends, today I'd like to introduce you to The World's Best Place to Spend a Rainy Afternoon.
It's not much to look at on the outside...

Unless the sight of crammed bookshelves makes you salivate.
The store is just a few miles from my childhood home in Raleigh, NC, so I've been slobbering over it ever since it opened back in the mid 70's. (Be assured, I was a mere babe then.)

See the shelves on the outside? Those books are sold on the honor system for 10-25 cents a piece. Just drop your change in the slot in the door, and the store will donate the money from those near freebies to NC Public Radio. Last year it was enough change to provide This American Life to the local station! That's a hefty bit of pocket change!

Before I gush on and on about Reader's Corner, I should give a little explanation/disclaimer/debate topic of the day. Here goes:
I never thought much about buying used books until I had a book in bookstores. Did you know for your average trade paperback book, the standard publishing contract gives the author 7.5% of the book's list price? So if I pay $10 for a new book at my local bookstore, the author gets 75 cents. (Cha-ching! Let's hire a limo!) But if I get the same book at a fine establishment like Reader's Corner, the poor author gets nothing. Nada. Rien. Poor little author. The world is a cruel, cruel place.

What's that you say? "But what if a book has been out fifty years? Shouldn't the author still get her 75 cents? What if it's been out twenty-one years? Your rule makes no sense."
I say, "You're right. It's a silly rule. But I had to draw a line somewhere."
"Then why go to used bookstores at all?"
Okay. But what will people do with all the old books they don't want anymore? Add them to the landfill? Stack them in big piles in their bedroom until their doors won't open all the way and their husbands have to pass them pancakes under the door to keep them from starving to death?
And what about people who really can't afford $14.95, but desperately want not just to read the book, but to OWN the book. And what about Skinflint Aunt Trudy who only buys used, so that she can afford to drive her cats to Las Vegas for her annual week of gambling and kitty massages? You want to stand in Aunt Trudy's way?

To all that I say, "I can't solve the world's problems. It's just my rule. Make up your own."

But before you turn your nose up at Reader's Corner, take a peek.

And a sniff.
Ah! Deliciously musty. The perfume of old books.

Reader's Corner was where I found Judy Blume, (we must, we must, we must increase our bust) and where I bought my first record album (Simon and Garfunkel--an oldie, even then.)

And it's where I even found a few books I hid from my mother. (No freak outs allowed, Mom. They weren't that bad.)
And now it's where Todd and I snatch up volumes of The American Guide series, put out by WPA writers. Plus other junk that looks good.

But one of the best things about Reader's Corner has nothing to do with books.
Well, almost nothing. Take a closer look around the store and you'll find photos and various oddities taped all over the bookshelves and walls. These treasures were all discovered within the pages of the used books.
Like these...

(Click on the photos for a better look.)
And this...

And these...

And these...

Any of those belong to you?
Some are bizarre, some are hilarious, and some are just plain wild.

At least they seemed wild in the 1940's.

I hope you enjoyed the bookstore tour. So what do you think about buying used books? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Have a wonderful Wednesday, y'all!
Love, Becky
PS. Speaking of the wild, I thought I'd join in on the hoopla over this book turned movie. Has anyone seen it?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Our State Fair Is A Great State Fair

When it comes to Wonders of the World, it's hard to beat the North Carolina State Fair.
(Yes, I know I live in South Carolina. Don't get your feelings hurt, Palmetto State, but I practically grew up on those fairgrounds! It was the site of my first funnel cake, my first spin on the Tilt-A-Whirl, even my first date!)

Carnival rides, fried dough, blue ribbon dahlias, and The Village of Yesteryear. What more could a girl want for entertainment? If you're a girl like me, anyway.
Plus, I got to go with Mom and Dad!

And look! They're wearing LONG SLEEVES!!!!
Yes, this excitement is worth all the capital letters and excessive exclamation points (!!!!) because it's been a long hot summer and I'm thrilled to finally feel free from sticky sweaty-ness! In fact, I'm sitting here in front of the computer FREEZING TO DEATH AND LOVING IT! AND I REFUSE TO BE REASONABLE AND PUT ON A SWEATER BECAUSE, COLD WEATHER, I'VE MISSED YOU SO!

And look again! The fair had PIGLETS!

And death defying rides that Sam rode over and over again.

I chose to sit this one out on account of the caramel apple still spinning in my stomach.
It didn't bother Sam.

In fact, the boy showed a whole lotta happy!

Even in a room full of vegetables!
I know! It shocked me too! (This is the same fellow who nearly threw up on the bus ride home from his class trip to the apple orchard because the bus smelled so apple-y.)

Maybe he was too busy reading the weird vegetable variety names to notice the scent.

Or he could have been holding his breath, waiting for the animal exhibits.

Not that they're smelly.
I'm afraid his mood changed once we got to the chicken house. He spent the whole time wandering around, looking sad and handing out apologies.

"I wish I could be a vegetarian," he whispered to me. "If only I didn't hate vegetables so much."

I tried to distract him with a trip to the pig races.

(No one mentioned bacon. Or barbecue.)
Sam's pig won, and the happy returned!
My pig lost, but that's okay. As I always say, if you can't beat them, join them!

Oink oink!

Have a wonderful Monday, y'all! And tell me, are you a fair lover, fair weather or not? What's your favorite fair feature? (I LOVE the chicken house, but I cannot tell a lie. The fried dough wins the blue ribbon for me!)

Love, Becky

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

As the Crow Flies

I love that Autumn reminds us of the beauty of dark, earthy things, like spiders and bones and crows. Have you also fallen under the season's spell, or have I just eaten a bad muscadine?
Whatever. Today I buck conventional wisdom and celebrate the Crow!
Yes, though it's commonly thought of as a pest, you must admit that it can be quite pretty, in a Halloween-ish way. / CC BY 2.0
Just ignore the fact that many crows love to sink their beaks into freshly dead corpses.
A bird's got to eat, right? Think of crows as part of the earth's clean up crew.
And try not to recall that a group of crows is called a murder.
(Don't you love that? A murder of crows!)

Crows are so complicated. Like their colorful cousins, the parrots, they've been known to mimic the human voice. According to good ole Mr. Wikipedia, we humans may find it hard to tell crows apart, but crows have the ability to recognize us just fine. They can even warn each other about the dangerous ones in our crowd!

Yep, crows are smart. Remember the Crow and the Pitcher?

It's time for me to fly like a crow out of here. I'm taking a few days to visit my parents and hit the North Carolina State Fair! Look out, deep fried twinkies-on-a-stick. Here I come!
Have a beautiful week and weekend and I'll see you Monday!
Love, Becky
PS. Take a minute to enjoy this crow animation. It's stunning!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Kidding Around

Happy Monday!
What's that face for? Is your Monday To Do list making you sad?
Why not trade it in for the list given to me Sunday morning? No matter your faith, you'll be sure to enjoy it.

A little explanation first: Sunday was Children's Sabbath at my church, and we reflected on the scriptures that instruct us that we must be more like children in order to enter the kingdom of God. But how do you do that? The kids gave us their own To Do List. Here's part of it:

1. Ride a bike.
2. Do karate.
3. Don't be so boring.
4. Stop taking naps in front of the tv.
5. Play.
6. Do the monkey bars.
7. Go to birthday parties and stay until the place closes.
8. Spend more time with your child.
9. Let a child read to you.
10. Draw more.
11. Be more imaginative.
12. Sometimes you have to put aside work for fun and creativity.
13. Get more excited about things.
14. Go back to school
15. Listen more and don't give orders all the time.
16. Ask a lot of good questions.
17. Don't freak out about the economy.

Great list, huh?
We even had homework--a picnic later that afternoon!

So what would you add to the list? What puts you in touch with your inner child?

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

PS. Need help in the fun department? Let these babies lead you!

Friday, October 9, 2009

100 Years Young!

Isn't this a handsome gent?
Would you believe he turned 100 years old yesterday?
He did! Thanks to my Meals on Wheels route, I've had the opportunity to become his friend, and let me tell you, he is quite the sweetheart.

After we sang Happy Birthday and gave him his cake, I asked him if he'd share the secret to his long life and happiness. "There's no secret," he said. "I was lucky enough to marry a pretty little girl and let her take care of me." So that's it: luck and love!
May we all be so fortunate!

And may we all take every opportunity for a free hug! (Notice the loving hand around my shoulder :) )

Have a wonder-full weekend, y'all!
Before you go, tell me, what do you hope old age holds for you?
And enjoy this little tune. My visit with the Birthday Boy makes me think they should change the words. How about when I'm ninety-four? Or maybe one hundred four!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Visit with the Granddaddy of Modern Chic

This painting inspires me, so I wanted to share it with you.
It's a scene in Nice, France, painted by Raoul Dufy in 1928.
Are you acquainted with Dufy?
I don't know much about art, but I know what I like, and I LOVE Dufy.

When he visited the States back in 1951, Time magazine called him "the granddaddy of modern chic." I can certainly see why.
He's well known for his watercolors...

Very nice, but I'm crazy about his oil paintings.

They speak JOY to me, and I love their childlike effervescence.
I'm pretty sure that's not an art term, but I don't care. His works just make me happy.
One day I'd love to see this one in person.

It's called La Feé Electricité, The Electricity Fairy. As you can see, it's a HUGE panoramic view of the history of electricity. He created it for the Pavilion de l'Electricité at the 1937 World's Fair, but you can find it now at the Musée D'Art Moderne in Paris.
It's at the tippy top of my list of things to see the next time I go to France. (I AM going, even if I have to stow away in a suitcase on my husband's next business trip!)

I love Dufy's work so much that I even attempted to copy it. (Gulp! Don't hate me, ghost of Raoul Dufy!)

The process just made me love him more.
The next one I want to try?

This is it. Don't you want to dive into those delicious colors?
How about diving into this delightful 1950's cartoon about Dufy's life instead? It captures his childlike joy perfectly!

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

Friday, October 2, 2009

An Eighties Party! Right Here, Right Now!

It's Eighties Day at Wonders Never Cease!
So get out your high top sneakers and pump up the hair!

Hey, those are some of my students from High Point High School! Who turned the clock back to 1987? Let's see. If they were 17 then, now they'd be...39 years old?

Well that just ruined my day. I'd better mosey back to my rocking chair now.

I suppose since I blasted their acid washed denim all over the internet, it's only fair I show you what their science teacher looked like.
Prepare yourself.
My big hair is deep and wide, deep and wide.
A veritable fountain flowing deep and wide.

That's a little humiliating.
Then again, it reminds me that I was barely older than they were, just stepping out as an adult on my own.
Starting my own little family.

(Help me, somebody. My hair deflated.)
And spoiling Baby Katie rotten.

Hot short shorts, honey! People, those are corduroy. Can you believe it?

Wondering why I'm doing this?
It's Spirit Week at Ben's high school and I'm trying to remind myself what makes the decade of Members Only jackets deserve a dress up day of its own.
Okay, I'm convinced now!
So I've got a challenge for you, if you're game. Post an 80's photo of you on your own blog--or two or three or a dozen-- and be sure to tell me in my comments so we can all stop by your place for a visit! We can have a little 80's party of our own this weekend! I'd love to see your eighties look, even if you were in diapers, you young'un you!

Need some more inspiration? How about this?

Have a fun weekend, y'all!
Love, Becky