Monday, June 30, 2008

More Fun to Come...

Today's Wonder of the World is...A Little Break-Y-Poo !

Hey Mom. You look awfully happy to have your head in a croc's mouth. Also, since when did you take up golf?

Anyway, I'm taking a little rest this week but don't worry! I've got some fun new posts on tap to keep you company!
There's a PUZZLE! With a PRIZE!!
Another prize?, you ask.
Yes! Yey free stuff!
There's a FUN VIDEO! And FREE FRENCHY ARTWORK for you to download and do whatever you like with it!

I'll be checking in from time to time to check on you, so please say hello.
Or else I'll miss you.
I'm addicted, I'm afraid!

Love, Becky

PS. Check the Mad Tea Party comments to see who won the door prizes! The King should post the winners at some time today. And thanks again for coming to my party! It was delightful!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Welcome to My Mad Tea Party and Carnivalee!!

Today's Wonder of the World is... a Carnivalee!


I've tidied up my living room, blown up the balloons...

And I'm all dolled up!

So welcome, friends! Are you ready for fun?

I said, "Are you ready?"

Wakey wakey! You sweet little sleepyhead! Didn't you hear the clock chiming?

It's calling you to the ball, "Put on your favorite hat, and come on in!"

Why there you are!

And you!

And you!

Shiver me timbers, what an effort you've made!

May I serve you a drink?

Welcome to my little corner of South Carolina!
Sit yourself down and let's relax!

You're so skinny! You must feel weak! Have a French pastry!

Oh please, take two!

Now isn't that better?
Oh look, here comes the traveling jester!

And there's French dancing! Take a twirl with me!

Now, how about some girls gone wild?

Looks like the little boys have gone wild too!

I'm thinking somebody drank too much fruit punch!

I'm so glad you dropped by!
Wait, I think I hear someone...

It's the King! Standing next to His plastic throne, making a proclamation!
He's saying, "Kind ladies and gentlemen of Our kingdom, please leave your name in the Comments so that We may bestow upon you a chance to win something from Our royal drawing!"

What is it, dear King?

"It's a signed copy of the Official Book of Our Kingdom, Broadway Book's French By Heart. Because you are so kind to visit, we are feeling particularly generous and will include an antique French postcard tucked inside, as well as a copy of the review in The New York Times. The author is a person very close to Us. We have two to give away."

And here are the antique postcards. This one from World War I shows a soldier in the trenches, dreaming of his loved ones back home.

And here's an Easter one with a lovely mademoiselle and her Easter eggs.

If you like, feel free to let Us know which one you prefer.
We will pull two lovely names from Our Crown on Monday, at whatever hour We feel like it, and will announce the lucky winners right here, in the comments section of this very post. Do visit Us again!

Wow, a proclamation from a King AND beautiful guests like you?!
I think I may faint!

Thank you, sweet visitor, for dropping by!
And please do stop in whenever you're in the neighborhood! The King and I love making new friends!

Love, Becky

PS. Thanks flickr friends Cluttershop, Anna's flickrcorner, and Fractal Artist, for the public photos! And thanks to Vanessa Valencia for hosting the Grand Ball!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Surreal Magnolias

Today's Wonder of the World is...the Magnolia Tree and It's Sweet Smelling Flower!

Aren't magnolias amazing? We have tons of them around Greenville and Greer, and they're all in bloom right now! The picture above was taken outside my church, while tons of people were walking by and my son was closing his eyes and saying, "Mom, please..."

I've discovered that to make him stop, I just have to turn the camera at him.

Ha. Caught you Sam.
And yes, I let my son wear Crocs to church. Rubber shoes, no socks. I've done worse.
Back to magnolias...
There were so many pretty blossoms

Even when they're a little misshapen they're beautiful.

I love the cones/pods/fruit best. (I'm not sure what you call them so I'll cover all bases.)
To me, they look like a Dr. Seuss character with those crazy curls!

(That's a public flickr shot. Thanks, flickr.)
Can't you see it? Maybe my photo paintbrush can help you see what I'm thinking.

Hey! That was fun! I've discovered a whole new way to procrastinate!
This could be dangerous.

But I will not go off on a Dr. Seuss tangent. Let's stay with magnolias, shall we?
I love their delicate petals. When I was little I used to press my fingernails into them and make little brown arcs, where I had wounded the petals. I sound like an angry child. But I wasn't.

When I worked at a preschool a couple of years ago, the children would collect the pods and the leaves on the playground. They'd turn the waxy green leaves over to their brown leathery sides, and use them for pretend dinner plates. The boys turned the pods into grenades. A few did, anyway.

In the fall, the pods look like victims of a horror movie.

But I think they're beautiful then too. (Thanks again flickr and southernbornandbredgirl!)
What? Did someone say something?
Oh, it's Miss Magnolia Podhead, and she's saying something to you...

"Just don't think about the horror movie thing, my dear. Think of those blood red seeds as fruit, not as my brains oozing out of my head because aliens shot me up with a gamma ray."

Anyway, back to Magnolias (and out of striking distance from my bizarre imagination...I think the heat must be getting to me!)

I'm not the only one inspired by magnolia trees. Look what I found!
Where else? ETSY!
Remember the Etsy post, HERE?

I saw these cute little baby booties at Joujoux's shop. HERE!
Those things are so cute that if somebody out there doesn't buy them up quick, I might just have to buy them myself! And I don't have a baby to put them on!

So hurry! Because my bored nine year old has taken to dressing our dog, and I'm thinking that those shoes might just fit.

Tanner says, "Don't buy the shoes. Those magnolias look yummy!"

Take care friends!
Have a Wonder-full Friday and come on back tomorrow for the Mad Tea Party!
Love, Becky

Thursday, June 26, 2008

What Time Is It? Time to Sing!

Today's Wonder of the World is...Freaking People Out By Unexpectedly Breaking into Song!

Let me tell you, I've taught in five different high schools and not once did I ever see the students grab their cafeteria trays and spontaneously break into a song and dance. But I usually avoided the cafeteria at all costs, so maybe I missed it!

At Christmas time I forced my students to sing Chemistry Carols, at which most of the kids just stared at me open-mouthed, or slunk down in their chairs with sheepish grins on their faces, mouthing the words to "Oh Chemistry O Chemistry," "Deck the Labs," or "We Wish You a Happy Halogen." It was fun, but it wasn't spontaneous. And it wasn't loud.
The one time I wanted my students to be loud, and they were shy as bunny rabbits!
(Wait. Are bunny rabbits shy?)

I keep hoping for the mail lady to sing to me, or the check-out clerk at the Bi-Lo, but so far, no luck. That's why I like Macaroni Grill. Have you been? Some of the servers sing beautifully! Right at your table. Or maybe even on it! That, and they write their names on the paper tablecloths upside down. That takes talent.

But I would have traded in a dinner at Macaroni Grill to sit in the food court at the mall if I could have witnessed what these folks did in this Youtube video! You''ve got to watch it! It's amazing!

The whole thing was put on by Improv Everywhere (click on the name to read about more of their crazy shenanigans.) And I guess I must be an official old person now after using the word shenanigans. By the way, I discovered the video thanks to Busy Mom and Thanks Busy Mom!

Love, Becky

PS. Don't forget to swing by on Saturday, when I'll be joining Vanessa in her Mad Tea Party with my own little celebration! I'm going to have another give- away! Not sure what yet, but it'll be French. Ooh la la!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Bridge Too Tall

Today's Wonder of the World is...the Viaduc de Millau, the tallest vehicular bridge in the world!

It's so tall that the Eiffel Tower could fit underneath it!

It's 125 feet shorter than the Empire State Building. At it's highest point, it's 894 feet above the Tarn River.

Usually I like my bridges much smaller.
Here's one out at Furman University where Sam and I took a bike ride/walk last week.

I used to be afraid of bridges. I was sure that they would fall apart right when my family was in the middle, just like in the movies.

Also I kept reliving the story of the Billy Goats Gruff.

Trip Trap. Trip Trap.
There's a troll under there, I just know it.

But hey, he's not so bad.

Here's a famous bridge you might recognize.

Know which one it is?
It's the one at Giverny, at Monet's garden. If you're feeling the least bit envious, I should tell you that at the very moment at which I snapped this shot, Sam was throwing a big fit and wouldn't get off the bridge. See him? He's in the yellow raincoat.
And the lady in the skirt to the side of Todd had just told Todd not to feel bad, that she once had her picture taken at the same spot and "I was every bit as naughty. My parents couldn't do a thing with me either."

Anyway, back to the bridge we're discussing today...

Didn't I tell you? It's in France too!

And it's through a beautiful part of France. But aren't all parts of France beautiful?

Every time we'd drive south towards the Mediterranean, (again, if this sounds too La-ti-dah for you, just picture a tiny clown car packed to the brim with children, all wanting to know When do we get there? and saying they have to pee, when there's a serious lack of rest rooms in that beautiful country!) As I was saying, every time we drove down south, we'd drive through that valley and stop just to gawk at the beauty. The green rolling hills, the rushing river. The villages. The food. (It's always the food.) And the entrance (kind of) to Provence.
Ah, Provence.

The bridge was started before we left, but didn't finish until we were long gone. As you can see by the map (yellow line) it provides a direct route south for folks from Paris, right through Clermont Ferrand. The bridge is the red dot. Maybe those Parisians will stop in Auvergne, Clermont's region, and come to appreciate how gorgeous and medieval it is!
Or maybe not. It will stay a secret for the rest of us!

I looked through my pictures and I have a terrible lack of photos from the area around the bridge. But I did find this. It's a beautiful slide show of pics of the region and of the bridge, as it was being built and after it was finished, accompanied by the incredible melancholy voice of Francis Cabrel. I think you'll like it.

Love, Becky

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Plant That Ate the South

Today's Wonder of the World is...Kudzu!
You probably know about kudzu. But in case you don't...

This, my friends, is kudzu. See how it's invading this house? A little spooky, huh?
Kudzu is a vine that we love and hate in the South. Once established, it grows about 12 inches a day! No kidding! It tends to take over things.
Like houses.

(Thanks, Jonathan VanBuren!)
And light poles.

He's playing golf.
Sometimes it changes trees into people playing Tag.

Tag! We just talked about Tag! I love it when that happens!
There's a whole zoo of kudzu animals to see HERE.

If we don't watch out, kudzu will get us too!

That man just might be a prime candidate for one of the benefits of kudzu. It's being studied as a treatment for hangovers and preventing alcohol cravings. (Just guessing here. No offense, kudzu guy.)
As wrapped up in kudzu as he is, he also reminds me of the Light People.

Have you heard about the Light People of Pelzer, South Carolina? They wrap themselves up in lights at Christmas time and wave at people passing by. Why? Because it's fun. And to raise money for Breast Cancer Research. Aren't South Carolinians great?

Anyway, back to kudzu.
I've heard rumors it's heading towards the railways!

At least its flowers are pretty!

And you can make jelly from them.
And baskets from the vines.

This is Ruth Duncan, a kudzu basket maker in Greenville, Alabama.
She better watch out. See all that green behind her? It might just be about to make its move and send her running, the green tendrils reaching for her feet, as she turns into a screaming basket case!
Or maybe not.

Be careful out there!
Love, Becky

Monday, June 23, 2008

Tag! You're It!

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

Last Thursday my sweet friend Barb tagged me over at her lovely blog, The French Elements, HERE. Now people, I haven't played Tag in a long time, so you can imagine how relieved I was to find out that this kind of tag doesn't involve running! I've been tackling a mountain range of laundry from Todd and the kids' week away and I'm just too tuckered out to chase anyone!

Before I get to answering those fun questions, let's amuse ourselves a little by thinking about the Wonder-full game of Tag, shall we?

One thing I love about Tag is that it's played around the world by nearly everybody! In France it was Le Loup (the Wolf) or Le Chat (The Cat.)

I like Le Chat best, because it reminds me of my chat, Katie, back in her kitten days when she lived for games of flashlight tag.

There she is hopping over my mother in law's couch.
Yes, we were nutso. When we were living in Washington DC, we'd drive down to Fayetteville once every couple of months for a visit and we'd bring Katie with us, as if she were our baby. Which she was.
(Sometime I'll tell you about the time she sat behind Todd's neck as he was driving and peed down his shirt. Oh that was fun.)

Anyway, back to Tag.

Did you know that in some parts of the English speaking world, tag is also known as it, had, he, tips, tig, touch, tiggy, tick, dobby, chasing, chasemaster, and my personal favorite, chasey? Well it is!

But I really love the names for Tag in other countries. In Argentina it's called La mancha, which means the stain. And in Chile it's called TiƱa, which means Ringworm. I'd run too if Ringworm was chasing me!

I may not be great at the running type of tag, but I'm amazing at telephone tag. Just ask my answering machine.

And hopefully I'll be passable at CyberTag. And hopefully I won't bore you to death with my boring life.
Here goes.

1. What was I doing ten years ago?
Here I am, ten years ago.

And I don't know why there was a lawn chair in my kitchen.
Back in June of 1998 I was nice and pregnant with Sammy, and I had just finished teaching Chemistry at Eastside High School. (There's that maternity dress that I wanted to burn by September!) I took a leave of absence, planning to stay home with Sam for a while, and thought that finally my life was going to slow down a bit.
Ha ha ha.
Little did I know that within a year we'd have sold our house and packed up all our worldly possessions for a move to France!

2. Five things on my To-Do list?
Easy question--I've got so many to pick from for the summer:

How about me, bossing you around!
2. Finish the first draft of my current book in progress. !!!I must do this!!!
(I'm hoping all those exclamation points will light a fire under me.)
3. Recover the couch I bought at a yard sale that has been half- done and in my bedroom for two years now. It is beginning to look normal to my eyes and that is scary.
4. Get all my pictures (that are stuffed in a cabinet) into albums, or at least into boxes.
5. Clean out my office drawers and files. (I didn't promise that this list would be life changing!)

3. Five snacks I enjoy?
Ooh. I love talking about snacks. Hmmm.
Pretzels dipped in nutella.

Crackers dipped in nutella.
Fingers dipped in nutella. (Ha ha. I wouldn't do that.)
Or would I?
Pistachio nuts.
Bugles dipped in hot artichoke dip. Yum.
And guacamole and tortilla chips. (Or if I'm feeling healthy or people are watching I'd use baby carrots instead.)

That's six but I was just kidding about all that nutella.
Sort of.

4. Five things I would do if I were a Millionaire/Billionaire?
1st I would sink enough into my kids' college accounts that I could relax.
2nd I would put a bunch into our retirement so I could relax.
(Sounds like I need to relax.)
3rd I've give a bunch to GAIHN, my favorite charity. And to my church.
4th I'd be selfish and get us a mountain house.
5th I'd be selfish and get my husband a really nice bike and all the biking stuff he wants.
And maybe a small plane. (He used to have his private pilot's license and it's always been a dream of his.)

5. Five places I've lived? Lucky you, you get a bonus. Not that you really care.
Here's all the places I've lived, in order.
Lexington Kentucky
Lafayette Indiana
Raleigh North Carolina
Denver, Colorado
Omaha, Nebraska
Washington DC
Greer, SC
Clermont Ferrand, France
And back to Greer.

So there you have it! Way too much information about me.

I'm not a competitive game kind of person, (ask my dad who tried to get me to join the swim team for years while I stood on the side of the pool with my arms crossed and refused) so I'm a little to shy to tag you.
But if you want to be tagged, CONSIDER YOURSELF TAGGED! Ha ha. You're it!

But stop! Don't run yet!
Watch these cool tag videos first!

This first one is one of the most amazing games of tag I've ever seen. Ben showed it to me and said he wants to learn how to do this. I pretended not to have all the breath sucked out of me. (Remember, he's the kid who has done an international tour of Emergency Rooms!) Still, it does look like fun!
(Warning for those watching with children who like to parrot words they hear--or if you are watching with a real live parrot: the song is a little PG.)

And this one is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Unless you hate babies and dogs.
If so, go tell someone, because you need a hug!

And please visit yesterday's post if you haven't already and tell me what you think. I live in a house divided, and I could use your vote!

Love, Becky