Friday, January 30, 2009


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

Flickr photo by zoreil
Marianne, the national emblem of the French Republic! The personification of liberty and reason!

Not to be confused with this Mary Ann.

Flickr photo by ark_phx
Though I like her too.

You may remember that I mentioned Marianne earlier in the week, when we talked about change.

Flickr photo by luxeurocoins
And then Wednesday, when we celebrated the hat, she crept into my thoughts again. Know why?

Flickr photo by
No, I'm not going to insult Marianne by comparing her to the Smurf. Look at the Smurf hats.
And then look at hers.

Photo by
They're wearing the same chapeau!
(By the way, you can find that lovely Marianne here.)
The hat is a Phrygian bonnet, worn in the Roman empire by slaves after they'd been freed by their masters, making them citizens. Perfect for Lady Liberty!

You can find Marianne in town halls and courts of law all over France.
She also hangs out in the sun...

Flickr photo by jul85
Standing up for human rights.

Marianne has changed through the ages, but haven't we all?
In 1970, Brigitte Bardot served as the model.

Flickr photo by hagerstenguy
Later she resembled Catherine Deneuve.

Flickr photo by sugarpie honeybunch
But in 1999, the mayors of France (all 36,000 of them) decided to vote amongst themselves for a new Marianne. The winner was Laetitia Casta.

She is gorgeous, isn't she? The only problem was that shortly after she became the emblem of France, she moved to London.
Also, there was a small rumor involving taxes.

After that, Marianne had a new face, a completely made up face that wouldn't move to London or have taxes to pay.
One that reflected the new multiculturalism of France, a Marianne with North African features.

Flickr photo by AlainG
Maybe this one? She's beautiful.

France has a new Marianne now. In 2003, the mayors took another vote, and boy, did it cause a raucous.

It's Evelyne Thomas, the host of C'est mon choix, (It's my choice,) the slightly trashy, very popular afternoon talk show I watched to improve my French. (At least that's the reason I told people!) The Parisian intelligentsia was not thrilled with the pick, but I think she's lovely.
Anyway, it was a fair election, and Marianne is all about liberty and freedom, right?
Besides, it's their choix!

Have a wonder-full Friday and a super weekend, y'all!
And before you go, take a look and listen to another famous lady of France, Madame Sarkozy, the First Lady of France.
The first time I heard Carla Bruni's sultry voice I was living my French life, on vacation in Corsica. We'd stopped at a potter's studio and I was walking around, admiring his work, as he sat at the wheel, talking with me. Her song came on the radio and I completely lost my train of thought. I've been listening to her ever since!
Love, Becky

PS. I'm not sure what the deal is about the man in the video. It cracks me up, but I don't think it's supposed to!

PS again What famous person would you pick to represent your country? Any thoughts?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Hats off to Hats!

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

Ever since Aretha sang last week, people have been all aflutter about her hat. Everybody wants to try it on. (Need proof? Look here!)

Perhaps it's a symptom of a great need rising up in this country. A need for change in the headwear department! America needs hats!
Or maybe not. But it's fun to think about it.

Back in our French life I used to drool over the elegant chapeaus on display in the store windows of the local millinery, but I'd wonder about how it stayed in business. When do they ever wear these pretty things?
Then I learned about French weddings.
Oh the beautiful hats!
Take, for example, the wedding of my dear friend Francois and his lovely bride Virginie... (and yes, French accent police, I know that c needs a cedilla. Send me a bill.)
I couldn't go, but my parents took pictures.
The wedding was beautiful of course! (How could it not be with such a gorgeous couple?!)

And the hats? Marvelous!

See what I mean? Elegant hats abound!

So chic!

I love that one!
I've never ever worn a hat to church or to anything fancy. I tried a few on ages ago, but I just felt silly.
Do you ever wear one?
Would you, if you had the chance?

We're not a hat wearing family, although as I write this I'm reminded that Ben spent the entire weekend wearing this crazy furry winter hat because he got his hair buzzed so short that his poor little head was cold. Tanner the Slobber Dog spent the whole weekend trying to sneak up on it, thinking the hat was some kind of rodent attacking Ben's head.

Anyway, I asked my boys at dinner to help me make a list of characters from books or film known for wearing a hat. It was a fun game. Here's the short list we came up with.
John Wayne!

Flickr photo by Rather Salty
All those witches and wizards at Hogwarts.

Flickr photo by Nebulosus Severine ? CM Pauluh

This old favorite of ours...

And another old favorite, The Cat in the Hat!

Flickr photo by Boska
Whoops! That's not exactly the image I was going for, although that photo cracks me up. Smile, lady in red! You're surrounded by cats wearing hats!
Here we go.

Flickr photo by Sparks68
There, that's better.
I'm also adding Scarlett to the list.

Flickr photo by Moncrief Speaks
She wasn't exactly known for her hats, but frankly, my dear...I hope you have a wonder-full Wednesday!
Before you scoot, tell me which hat loving characters I've left off the list!
And while we're in cat in the hat mode, would you, could you wear a hat?
While you're thinking on that one, watch this favorite scene of mine (I don't really know why I love it so much except that the song is infectious) from Singing In the Rain! Love those shower cap hats!
Love, Becky

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sum-thing Special!

Today's Wonder of the World is...Dim Sum!

Happy Chinese New Year everyone!
Did you know the Year of the Ox officially starts today? I thought we'd celebrate by honoring dim sum, (also known as Chinese brunch,) since folks all over will be enjoying it. Unfortunately nobody serves it around Greenville, South Carolina. Boo hoo. I'll just have to drool over the pictures and remember the love story... (Cue the violins--or maybe cue a Chinese bamboo flute. That would be more appropriate.)

Let me first take you to to the birthplace of my passion for dim sum.

Flickr photo by smata2
Yes! It's Calvary Baptist, our church home when we newlyweds moved to Washington DC back in the Dark Ages. (1987)
Calvary, how I love you! For teaching me that an integrated church isn't just possible, it's WONDERFUL! And for showing me how much I love working with homeless families...
But that's another story.

Back to dim sum...
No, Calvary Baptist doesn't operate a Chinese restaurant out of its basement.
But see what's right behind it?

Flickr photo by fivesixzero

So guess what we had for lunch after church each Sunday...

Flickr photo by Dan_DC
Dim sum!

Part of the reason dim sum is so fun to eat is the way that it's served.

Flickr photo by wireguy
Waitresses walk by your table with carts and you choose what you'd like to try.
It's all in the bamboo steamers or on little plates.

Oh, I almost forgot. Everything is served with hot tea, of course.

Flickr photo by Lola Blue
If it wasn't for tea, there'd be no dim sum. Dim sum actually means "touch the heart." It's not a heavy meal, just enough to touch the heart, just a few little tidbits to accompany the tea.

On to the tidbits!
There isn't room on one blog post to list all the choices, so I'll just show you my favorites.
There are steamed shrimp dumplings...

Flickr photo by chattycha

And my all time favorite, barbecued pork buns!

Flickr photo by luckyfish
(They're the white balls in the back, between the meat balls and the wrapped sticky rice.)

I like these too--money bag dumplings.

Flickr photo by tofu666

Be sure not to miss dessert.

Flickr photo by The Mooncake Box
Those are pineapple balls and sesame balls! The sesame ones are my favorite.
Shoot. Now I'm drooling.
I'm going to have to drum up the strength of an ox to fend off this dim sum craving!

Flickr photo by Samurai Shiatsu
Maybe that pretty bamboo will distract me...
Nope. I'm still thinking sesame buns.
Anybody want to take a road trip to Atlanta?
Have a wonder-full day, y'all!
And Happy Chinese New Year!

See you Wednesday!
Love, Becky

Friday, January 23, 2009

Time for Change

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

Flickr photo by misspiepie
Everywhere you go these days people are talking about change.
Even at our neighborhood grocery store, where I accidentally slipped the cashier a euro leftover from a trip to France a year and a half ago. Whoops!
I really need to clean out that purse. I guess that euro was lost amongst all those Abes.

Flickr photo by friend_cuttack
How I love you, Abe!

Anyway... I thought it'd be fun to consider the wonder of coins, and also let you in on another change on its way around here--more to come in a minute about that.

But back to coins...
When my son Ben was three, he thought coins looked delicious, so he swallowed one and then stood up and screamed, "Help! I swallowed money!"
"What kind of money?" we asked. "Was it a quarter, a dime, a silver dollar?" (I was a little paranoid back then. With good reason--Ben was wearing a full leg cast at the time.)
"How do I know? It was the circle kind!"
We took him to the emergency room and sure enough, there it was on an x-ray.
Luckily (or maybe not) Ben was a late potty trainer, so we had the joy of searching for it several days until it finally showed up in his diaper. We named it our three hundred dollar dime and I put it in my jewelry box for safekeeping.

Guess what the Easter bunny brought him in his basket that spring.

Flickr photo by campdavemorecambe
I don't know about your Easter bunny, but mine has a sick sense of humor.

I wouldn't mind some of these ancient Greek coins in my basket.

Flickr photo by smokykater
I'm not sure if they're real, but they sure are pretty.

You know what other coins are beautiful?
Old French francs.

Flickr photo by IONclad
We moved to France in 1999, and about a year and a half later, just about the time I finally didn't have to do math in my head to convert francs to dollars (6.5 francs for each American dollar, ) guess what they did? They made everyone start using euros!
People in my village were NOT excited.
"French francs are beautiful," they would say. (Really, they are!) "Euros are ugly."
But after a couple of years, people stopped grumbling.
"At least the French sides are pretty," they'd say, admiring Marianne.

Flickr photo by luxeurocoins
Do you know Marianne? She's the emblem of the French Republic. Read more about her here.

I'm still finding old French centimes (less valuable than a penny) in dresser drawers and boxes. I should make them into jewelry!

Photo by
Pretty, huh? You can find it here, at etsy of course!

I'd hate to tell my French friends, but some of the other countries' euros are just as amazing.
Take the Greek one euro coin, for example.

Flickr photo by Tiffibunny
I love how they copied the 450BC design.

Flickr photo by karahaz
But maybe I like it so much because I'm partial to owls.
Speaking of being a wise old owl, I need to get to Part Two of this blog: another type of change...

First, let me get some facts established:
1. I'm having so much fun with this blog
2. I live for your comments (yes I'm that desperate,) not to mention your friendship.
3. I've got at least 45,963,862 more Wonders of the World left to yak about.

As our new Prez says, change is healthy!
So it's time for a little change in my corner of the world. Starting next week, I'll be blogging faithfully Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, doing my part as usual to celebrate (blab about) the wonders of musical vegetables and mailboxes and whatever else I pluck out of my life to honor for the day.
I sure hope you'll still join me even if I'm not here every day of the week!

Have a wonder-full Friday and a super weekend y'all!
Love, Becky
PS. Enjoy my pal David Bowie and his ch ch ch changes!

See you Monday!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Tunnel Vision

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

Flickr photo by tanzer-art
I know it's dorky, but I still get excited to drive through a tunnel.
Maybe I need more entertainment in my life.

Do you love tunnels too?

Flickr photo by Kroka
What about tunnels of love?
Here's my favorite one of those.

Whoa, I feel some eighties big hair coming on.
Quick, help me think of other tunnels before I ditch this blog to watch reruns of Dallas.

I know! How about this one?

Flickr photo by JCook236
Do you recognize this tunnel? You might if you've ever ridden on Interstate 77 through Virginia and West Virginia. That tunnel and one other were the highlights of my many car trips to visit family in Kentucky, and every time we passed through, my brother Steve and I would have to stop what we were doing (irritating each other and whining about being hungry) and lift up our feet in the air until we came out the other side.
Does anyone out there know why we did that?
I really don't know. Does bad tunnel mojo attach itself to the soles of one's shoes if they're not airborne? If so, what about the driver? And the stewardess--I mean mother, in the front seat?

On to another tunnel I love...
The Free Expression Tunnel at NCSU!

Flickr photo by brian.s
Ah the graffiti memories! The poetry! The profanity! The little door there on the right, leading to the steam tunnels, which I certainly didn't explore with a group of upperclassmen who kept yelling Rat! Rat! just to watch me scream.
Those were the days.
That tunnel was always interesting.

Flickr photo by Perception Crisis Photography
Sometimes more than others.

Flickr photo by madrigals
I've always been interested in how tunnels are made.
Like the Metro tunnels in Paris!

Today there are plenty of methods for boring tunnels.
I asked my engineer husband about them and his eyes got big and he made me get out of my chair at the computer so he could show me a picture of one of these.

Flickr photo by
"How does it work?" I asked.
I knew I was in trouble when he said, "Have a seat and I'll explain it."
Oh, sorry. Did I doze off?
I frustrate him that way.

(If you're really curious you could hop over here.)

I don't really have to know how tunnels are made. I can appreciate them just fine as they are.
I know I'm not the only one.

Flickr photo by iolanthe
Watch out, hamster! Lift those hamster legs or face uncertain mojo!

Before you go, I'd love to put on my therapist hat and hear all about the tunnel traumas of your childhood.
Or maybe you'd rather enjoy watching these kids flying in a wind tunnel!

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