Monday, August 31, 2009

This and that and Sims . . .

Since I don't have to start my WIP (I mean REALLY start it) until September 1, I've been taking some time off to read and play. For instance, my book club meets tonight and I haven't finished our book yet, so I know what I'll be doing for the rest of the day (Lord willing). :-)

But I've also been putting around the house and playing a lot of The Sims. And now that I've raised many, many baby and toddler Sims (the toughest part of the game, IMHO), I have a few suggestions for the Sims masterminds and programmers:

(Can't help it; I'm an INTJ, and it's our nature to improve things).

For Babies:

*characters should be able to buy a rocking chair with "rock baby to sleep" as an option. Babies thus put to sleep should be dead to the world. :-)

*"Bounce toddler on knee" should be an option for chairs and sofas

*You should be able to set infants on (made) beds for a short time. Toddlers, too, but toddlers should be able to fall off and be slightly hurt.

*"Kiss booboo and make it better" should be an option for toddlers who fall off the bed.

*Working parents need a day care center in the center of town where they can take children on their way to work.

*Children in the day car center should catch colds and pass them to parents who will feel bad and sneeze for two days.

*I'm still thinking puppies or kittens would be a great addition, but toddlers should be allowed to manhandle them. Gives parents one more thing to watch out for. (As if they didn't have enough to do!)

And that's my report from SimLand. I recently discovered that toddlers can read baby books by themselves, and last night I had all six of my babies reading and cooing and laughing . . . a few moments of perfect bliss until they began to get hungry and scream. :-)


Sunday, August 30, 2009

"Weekend Warrior"

Photo: master bath with the OLD lights.

"Weekend Warrior" means something different to me. It means I'm not out on a football field somewhere, but I'm usually at the house with a paint brush, mop, or power tool in my hand.

Fresh from the beach house in Georgia, where every house was a pastel shade and everything was light and bright, I came home to my bold colors and yearned for a bit of change. Not a lot, just a little. I've promised myself that I'm going to repaint the interior of the house completely after we've been here ten years, but a little change to satisfy my yen might be nice.

So I went to Home Depot and picked up some paint chips. And then I decided to replace my bathroom light fixtures.

That project has been overdue for far too long. I knew the lights in my bathroom weren't bright enough because at home, my skin looks great. In hotels, I see every fine wrinkle--enough to assure me that the lights at home are a little too dim. Plus, the shades on the first light fixtures were PLASTIC, ick. So it was definitely time for an upgrade.

How hard could it be to change out two light fixtures?

I was fortunate at the Depot, because I found two light fixtures that would work on the clearance table. Trouble was, the plate that mounts to the wall was small--about the size of a saucer. The wall plate of the original lights was rectangular and LARGE--over 36 inches wide and five inches tall. But the new fixture had four lights instead of three, and GLASS shades.

So I bought the fixtures, came home, and set them aside The sun was dipping toward the west and I knew I'd need LIGHT to install the fixtures, on account of having to turn off the power to the master bath.

So Sunday afternoon I climbed up on the tub and then stepped onto the sinktops/vanitys to unscrew and dismount the original lights. When the painters painted the bathroom (cranberry red), they left a line of paint all around the long rectangular wall mounting plate, and of course no paint got beneath it. I managed to get the lights down with not much trouble, but then I was faced with two large rectangular unpainted boxes on the wall. Fortunately, I had some cranberry paint. Unfortunately, it wasn't exactly the same shade or sheen as the original paint. I think the original was "satin." The replacement shade was "semi-gloss." Trust me, there's a difference.

Anyway, I painted the rectangular boxes one coat, two coats, three coats. I sanded the edges where the paint had raised a kind of lip, and fine cranberry dust covered everything in the bathroom. Then I struggled to get the new lights in place.

One of the lights, however (the one over my sink), had two electrical lines coming out from the wall--and lots of long wire. That's SIX wires that had to be linked, capped, and wound up in a little ball to fit beneath the saucer-size wall plate. Somehow I managed to do it, but not without lots of muttering under my breath. But as I tried to install the second light (thinking that it would be a breeze), I discovered that the sunlight was leaving me, I was tired and frustrated, and darkness was approaching.

I quit. Things would look better on Monday morning.

On Monday morning, I remembered that I have an ELECTRIC SANDER out in the garage. So I went and got it, sanding the still-visible rectangles on the wall, grinding out the spackle in the nail holes, etc. This, of course, took off much of the paint and recovered everything in dust.

So--more painting, more cleaning. Finally I climbed back up on the vanities and got the thing mounted to the wall. Furthermore, when I flipped the switch, both lights actually worked. :-)

But now I have those odd-colored rectangles on the wall. Probably no one else would notice (not at first glance, anyway), and it's not like I ever entertain people in my bathroom. But I notice. And things like that drive me crazy. :-)

So I've been thinking about repainting just that wall--maybe sponging? Glazing? Going with a teal color?

Probably the safest thing will be to sit tight for a while . . . because now I'm thinking about painting my office. :-) But this, too, can wait a while.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

One . . . single payer system

No comment necessary. This says it all!


Friday, August 28, 2009

What is that?

A father and his adult son sitting on a park bench . . .

A tip of the hat to Michael G for passing this video along. It's magnificent. Take five minutes to enjoy, please. You'll be glad you did.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Want to Glimpse Eternity?

I've always found it hard to comprehend the concept of eternity . . . of God existing before anything and after everything. But watch this video and you'll begin to see how what we see and know is but a drop in his creation . . . amazing images.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Funny Wedding Moment

My wedding had its share of snafus. First, I couldn't get the ring on my groom's finger (on account of his swollen knuckles), so I ended up wearing it on my thumb as we left the platform. Second, I was in such a hurry to leave the platform that I left my bouquet with my maid of honor. And third, I cried throughout the ceremony, which caused black streaks to run down my face.

But it was still a wonderful event. And no less binding with all the goofs. :-)


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Book Report on THE CANOPY

My friend Tracey Bateman sent me a link to her young friend McKenna's book report on THE CANOPY. I was so tickled and so impressed! Such a young girl to be reading such a grownup book! She was in the sixth grade when she did this. :-)

We got McKenna's parents' permission to share the link to the video with you, so you can enjoy McKenna's excellent work, too.

Thank you, McKenna, for your fine presentation! I loved it!


Monday, August 24, 2009

Maureen Lang's new book

Hi, everybody!

I apologize for being a little sporadic over the last couple of days. I had my vacation, then came home to a full plate, and a sick mastiff . . . Charley isn't feeling well, and I'm afraid it may be serious--cardiomyopathy, perhaps. :-( Anyway, we're heading to the vet today or tomorrow for some more tests, and the poor baby isn't himself at all. And there's a new book to begin!

But I'm happy to turn over my little soapbox to my friend Maureen Lang, who is eager to tell you about her latest book:

Greetings! I'm eager to share the news about my newest book release. Have you ever wondered how many love stories have one war or another for a backdrop? Rather than counting, I decided to plunge ahead and add a few more titles. Look to the East is the first in a three book series, each one linked by a European, First World War setting—but little else, since each one is an independent story. So come along for a glimpse back, circa early 1900's, rural France . . .

Look To The East by Maureen Lang

A village under siege. A love under fire. France 1914 At the dawn of the First World War, the French village of Briecourt is isolated from the battles, but the century-old feud between the Toussaints and the de Colvilles still rages in the streets. When the German army sweeps in to occupy the town, families on both sides of the feud are forced to work together to protect stragglers caught behind enemy lines. Julitte Toussaint may have been adopted from a faraway island, but she feels the scorn of the de Colvilles as much as anyone born a Toussaint. So when she falls in love with one of the stragglers—a wealthy and handsome Belgian entrepreneur—she knows she's playing with fire. Charles Lassone hides in the cellar of the Briecourt church, safe from the Germans for the moment. But if he's discovered, it will bring danger to the entire village and could cost Charles his life.

A note from Maureen: This book was one of those stories that just needed to be told. Inspired by actual events in a small town in France, it was a dream come true for me to travel there for research and to absorb the atmosphere. Although my book takes place nearly one hundred years ago, the same area today is similar in many ways: picturesque little villages surrounded by a lovely rural landscape. Thankfully, there were no rumbles of battle in the distance when I was there . . . My prayer is that the events of the past won't be forgotten, so we'll never again make the same mistakes. About Maureen Lang: Maureen lives with her family (her husband, three kids and their lovable lab) in Illinois. She spends her days dreaming up people in faraway places, characters who live far more exciting lives than she does within the safety of her happy home. Look to the East is Maureen's ninth novel.

Talk to you tomorrow!


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Home again!

. . . and cleaning off my desk. :-) So I'll just take a moment to share this link with you--what would you do if you looked outside and saw a bear in your backyard? I know that may not be a stretch for some of you . . . so what if he was in your POOL? LOL. This is a hoot. Enjoy!


Thursday, August 20, 2009

More from St. Simons

This post includes a photo of the house we're renting for the week.  It's really lovely, and they're currently building a new house right across the street.  The builder let us walk through it, and it's AMAZING.  (Expensive, though).  Anyway, I keep daydreaming about how wonderful it would be to have a beach house to get away to and write . . . and write and write.  I can drive to this place from my house, so it's doable . . . but I'll have to dream for a while. 

We're heading home on Friday.  I'll take Mom home (she lives on Florida's east coast), then I'll head across the state, dropping my aunt and cousin back along the way.  My son's birthday is today (Happy birthday, son!), so I need to get home and back an overdue birthday cake.  I picked up a southern recipe book that is guaranteed to be wonderful.  Can't wait to make almond pound cake and key lime ice cream. 

The first photo is the St. Simons lighthouse.  I think it's small, as light houses go, but it's quite charming.  

Well, I've been sitting in this coffee shop long enough, so I'd better round up my posse and head back to the house.  It's been a lovely week, but it's always good to come home, isn't it? 


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Vacation Report

Ahoy there!  (I'm surrounded by nautical themes here on St. Simons Island).  

Mom, Aunt Irene, Ginger and I are having a great time here on my work-cation.  We've seen sights and shopped and watched movies.  We went to see "The Time Traveler's Wife"  (I think it's better if you've read the book beforehand, as I had), and yesterday we saw "Julie & Julia" (loved it--bought both books afterward).  

Can you see the crab in the first photo?  I chased him across the beach, trying to get a close up picture.  His beady little eyes stayed trained on me, and that little guy was FAST! 

See the hat in the second picture?  $400 for that chapeau.  Really.  In an antique store.  I love hats, but not that much. 

And the final picture is our entire crew as we prowled the graveyard at Christ Church, where Eugenia Price and many of her characters are buried.  Some OLD graves, Civil War era and beyond.  Fascinating, but it was so hot and muggy you could practically wring us out like a towel.  That's me, Aunt Irene, Mom, and cousin Ginger.  

More updates tomorrow! 


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Send a man to the grocery store?

My mama sent me this video clip, and it's hilarious. I'd never heard of this lady before, but I love her Southern charm and the truth of her stories. This one's a gem, so take seven minutes, sit back, and enjoy!


Monday, August 17, 2009

You Won't Believe Where I am . . .

The other day I started outlining and researching my next novel, tentatively called "The Grandma Gene." While I was creating characters and such, I realized that I had set the novel on St. Simons Island--a lovely little island off the coast of Georgia. Eugenia Price made the island famous because 1) she lived on it and 2) she set her historical novels on St. Simons.

I've never been to St. Simons, but my mom and her sisters have gone and they loved it. So I toyed with the idea of taking a few days to rent a beach house and going up there to soak up the local color. After doing a little research, I discovered that it's the same price to go up for four days as it is just to rent a house for a week. So I decided to rent a beach house.

Then I asked myself, "Do I go alone?" I knew my husband and son were gearing up for the school year, so they'd be busy--plus, someone has to stay here and take care of the beasts. So I thought my Mom might want to go.

After a quick flurry of calls and emails, we arranged it. Sunday morning, Lord willing, I left home and drove to Lakeland, where I picked up my cousin Ginger, then we drove to Winter Haven, where we picked up my Aunt Irene, then we drove over to Rockledge, where we picked up my mom. After that, we headed straight up I-95 until we hit St. Simons. By the time you read this, we should be lazing like women of leisure, swapping stories and generational tales about the family. I am SO looking forward to this.

And best of all, it's all research for the novel. :-)

I'll try to post some pictures as the week progresses. Enjoy your week!


Sunday, August 16, 2009

My Current Project

It's official! Read details here. I wanted to tell you about the project I just turned in, but I didn't want to tell you anything until the publisher broke the news. So now I'm free to speak. :-)

I enjoyed my last project tremendously. It was a collaborative project, meaning that I'm helped someone else write her story. The lovely someone is Gayle Haggard, wife to Ted Haggard.

I don't know if you remember many of the details from 2006 when the Haggards found themselves on the cover of USA Today and many other newspapers, but I've been surprised to find that much of what I thought I knew wasn't true at all. The real story has gone untold for nearly two years, and I'm delighted and thrilled to be a part of this venture. The book, which has a working title of WHY I STAYED, will be published by Tyndale House.

I met with Gayle in Chicago a few weeks ago, and after we threw together a rough draft, she came to my house last week and we spent some more time sharing stories and taking lots of notes. You'd like Gayle--she's warm and personable and does not get frazzled when her slacks are slimed by my big dogs. In fact, Charley and Babe made her feel right at home, and they don't always warm up to people that quickly.

Gayle and I would both appreciate your prayers as this book prepares for publication. I believe the message is an important one both to the church and to the world at large. We were on a tight deadline (as always), but we made it, and now the manuscript is in the editor's hands. May the Lord bless this work for his kingdom.


Friday, August 14, 2009

The Sims Again

For the last couple of days, I've been waiting for my collaborator to go through our manuscript one more time, so I found myself playing "The Sims" . . . for hours. But it wasn't a total waste of time. I learned a few things. :-)

What I learned about writing (and life) by playing the Sims.

  1. Interesting characters have needs. Though cheat codes can allow you to fix your Sim’s needs as “static,” meaning that they will never have to sleep, eat, use the bathroom, take a shower, interact with others, or have fun, a character who is fulfilled in all those areas is BORING.

  1. You don’t need to reveal every detail. Though the Sims game is incredibly realistic, the creators don’t show every detail. When the characters “Woohoo” or “try for baby,” for instance, they slip beneath the covers. When they take a shower, bath, or use the toilet, their intimate parts are blurred. Though details are important--characters DO have to take care of ordinary physical functions--you don’t have to reveal every detail.

  1. Sometimes characters refuse to do what you tell them to do. And at other times they will surprise you. In a Sims game, the player is a sort of demi god. He or she has the power to create Sims, endow them with personality traits, decide up on or modify the Sim’s appearance, and ordain the Sim’s living arrangements. Still, free will exists, and sometimes a Sim will put his or her foot down and refuse to obey your bidding. And at other times, they will step out and do something that leaves you breathless.

  1. Setting matters. A Sim’s moods--and his actions--are directly influenced by his or her surroundings. Same for your characters.

  1. Life goes on. When you visit one house and spend most of your time in another house, you may come back to the first house and discover that the characters have gone gray, had babies, or died. This is true of life, and it should be true of the characters in your novel. Don’t let the rest of the story world go static when your character disappears from the scene.

  1. Personality determines choices. If you are playing a Sims character who has the trait “neurotic,” you’ll discover that “check the sink” and “freak out” are two readily-available actions, activities NOT available to non-neurotic characters. In the same way, your story characters should remain true to their personalities. Even though you will push them to their limits, they should not act completely out of character.

  1. Grief should not be short-changed. When a loved one dies, all the Sims in his circle will mourn for at least two Sim days. They won’t want to have fun, they won’t want to be romantic, and they can burst into tears without any provocation. Likewise, a death in your story will affect your characters, so don’t short-change the emotional process.

  1. At least one negative trait per character makes for a more interesting story. No one wants to read about perfect people who have no problems. Even in Sims, a quirk or two makes more a much more interesting storyline.

  1. Skills must be learned by reading and practice! You can’t simply wave a magic wand and expect your Sim to be an excellent cook, an expert angler, or a best-selling writer. They have to read and practice . . . And it helps if they were born (created) with a “bent” toward that skill. (Bookworms make great writers!) The exact same thing is true in writing. You can’t sit down and write a great novel just because you have a few extra afternoons and you learned how to write in high school.

  1. The Grim Reaper shows up unexpectedly. Unfortunately, this is also true in Sim world, real life, and in the publishing business. Companies get bought out or go out of business. Books are put “out of print” after a mere year on the shelf. Entire lines of books are cancelled. You’ve worked hard and suddenly--poof! The Grim Reaper is beckoning and there’s no sense in begging, the inevitable is on its way. You might as well do what a lot of Sims do--just shake the Reaper’s hand and go on your way. Because in Sim world, like in the publishing business, you can always come back and keep typing on that computer. :-)
And thanks to Leslee, who reminded me that I can make videos (except I can't hear sound--maybe I'm doing something wrong, but I LOVE the sounds!) Here are two clips from last night's game. In the first, Poppy has a baby. Poppy's elderly husband just died, so she's thinking of him as the baby is born. Smart Poppy--because she knows she can't go to the hospital without a babysitter (she has other babies to think of), she runs and gets in the pool for a water birth. I did not tell her to do that.

This next one is one of my faves because it's just so lifelike. Big sister July is trying to potty train Stormy, but he's tired and he wants none of it. :-) LOL!

And this last one isn't cute, it's strange--somehow a few pixels got mixed up or something, and I have an odd child stuck in the middle of the toy table with his head on backward. :-/ Fortunately, he did straighten himself out when I told him to go play with the doll house instead. :-) Enjoy!


Thursday, August 13, 2009


A couple of weeks ago the New York Times sunday magazine had an article on whales--fascinating!  Amazing creatures!

I've been fascinated by whales and elephants for years now, and I'd love to show you this short video, (someone else) composed in their honor.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Continuing Sims Saga

You wouldn't believe the goings on in my little Sim World.  I started with Thorton and Morgana, who didn't look like they were going to have children until Thorton had a mid-life crisis and I changed his "dislikes children" to "family-oriented."  Then they had six.  :-)  I even gave them fertility treatments, so they had twins almost every time.  

Then Thorton died and the kids took over the house.  I had to kick a few out when Thorton Jr. got married, because you're only allowed to have eight people living in a house.  Then Thorton Jr. had six kids (I'm partial to the babies), but his wife was old when he married her, so I knew she was about to go at any moment, so I moved Thorton out into a new house and found him a new wife.  (My morals in Sim World are not my real-life morals, obviously).  

Then Thorton and his new wife, Shannon, had six kids, but I didn't like Shannon very much. She was neurotic and kept checking the sinks and the oven, and she had a tendency to "freak out," even when I didn't tell her to.  Plus, she was mean.  She was athletic, and she would go out to play catch with her children and drill the football so hard that the kids were actually hurt.  I could hear them screaming in pain from my kitchen. 

So--when Olivia disappeared and I couldn't find her, I moved Shannon out into her own house and presto!--Olivia popped up again, so I let them live together.  But I love the little babies and toddlers (truth be told), so I sent Thorton over and Shannon got pregnant.  My idea was to move Shannon back into the main house, but she didn't want to go.  So I had Thorton Jr. Break up with her, and then apologize--I had read on some Sim bulletin boards that you could do this, but Shannon absolutely would not take him back.  Hard hearted, that woman.  I told you she was mean. 

So Thorton went over there and was fishing in her pond, waiting for her to stop gallivanting around town, and she showed up.  Thorton Junior was literally on his knees, expressing humiliation and begging her to come back to him, when the Grim Reaper appeared.  And you know what Shannon did?  She laughed.  I tell you, my blood boiled, because I was partial to Thorton Junior, having raised him from a pixel.  

So Thorton Junior died, Shannon has Mitchell, his baby (she named him--once they move out of your house, you can't control these people), but I'm thinking I'm going to send the two elementary kids over there and swipe her baby in the switch.  And then I'll find a cute husband for Poppy, the high school girl, because she'll be old enough to marry very soon.  Then I'll have to kick out a few more kids, so Poppy can fill the house up with babies and toddlers, but that's the fun of the game . . . 

In the mean time, Thorton III is doing very well--a real sweet kids.  Wish you could meet him. 

Oh!  Their present house happens to be my dream house.  I took one of my Southern Living books of house plans, and built the house I've always wanted in Sim World.  Now my sims get to live in it, even though I can't . . . 

Ah . . . off to escape to fantasy land. 


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

New Amish book from Cindy Woodsmall!

My friend Cindy is one of the leading writers of Amish fiction--her titles consistently make it to the New York Times bestsellers list. Her latest arrival has just hit the stores!

The Hope of Refuge

Raised in foster care and now the widowed mother of a little girl, Cara Moore struggles against poverty, fear, and a relentless stalker. When a trail of memories leads Cara and Lori out of New York City toward an Amish community, she follows every lead, eager for answers and a fresh start. She discovers that long-held secrets about her family history ripple beneath the surface of Dry Lake, Pennsylvania, and it’s no place for an outsider. But one Amish man, Ephraim Mast, dares to fulfill the command he believes that he received from God–“Be me to her”– despite how it threatens his way of life.

Completely opposite of the hard, untrusting Cara, Ephraim’s sister Deborah also finds her dreams crumbling when the man she has pledged to build a life with begins withdrawing from Deborah and his community, including his mother, Ada Stoltzfus. Can the run-down house that Ada envisions transforming unite them toward a common purpose–or push Mahlon away forever? While Ephraim is trying to do what he believes is right, will he be shunned and lose everything–including the guarded single mother who simply longs for a better life?

About the Author ~

Cindy Woodsmall is the author of When the Heart Cries, and the New York Times best-sellers When the Morning Comes and When the Soul Mends. Her ability to authentically capture the heart of her characters comes from her real-life connections with Amish Mennonite and Old Order Amish families. A mother of three sons and two daughters-in-law, Cindy lives in Georgia with her husband of more than thirty years.

What others are saying ~

“Cindy Woodsmall’s The Hope of Refuge takes the reader on an emotional journey into the heart of Amish country and the heart of a very human heroine. A compelling novel…”

–Karen Harper, New York Times bestselling author of Deep Down

I’m not a huge fan of Amish books, but Cindy Woodsmall’s novels are in a class by themselves. The Hope of Refuge is one of my top picks for 2009. Novel Reviews and I highly recommend it—a 5-star read.

–Ane Mulligan of Novel Reviews

“What a beautiful story of hope and renewal! Cindy Woodsmall’s The Hope of Refuge is an honest and moving portrayal that rings with authenticity.”

–Marlo Schalesky, award-winning author of If Tomorrow Never Comes and Beyond the Night

This book [The Hope of Refuge] was excellent! It was so good that I couldn't put it down…

Cecelia Dowdy

Order here.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Beautiful Places

So I found this web site with the "most beautiful places in the world" . . . and as I scrolled through the pictures it occurred to me that the photos with man-made stuff in them didn't please my eye as much as the photos that revealed nature alone. What God can do with some rocks and water . . . takes my breath away.

Maybe it's because I'm a native Florida girl, but there's something about the mountains that inspires me. Amazing . . . and they make me feel small, which is how I ought to feel when thinking about the Creator of it all.

Enjoy the photos. Which ones are your favorites?


Sunday, August 09, 2009

Mattress Dominoes?

So I've been thinking about getting a new mattress . . . doing some research . . . . and I ran across these mattress folks who have WAY too much time on their hands:



Saturday, August 08, 2009

VUI--Very Useful Information

Here's something you just might need to know--how to survive being accosted by a tarantula. I saw these guys loose and running around when I was in the Amazon rainforest researching THE CANOPY. Didn't have one jump on me, though--if I had, I'm not sure I'd be typing this now. :-) But the correct response is far easier said than done, no?

Do nothing. LOL. Yeah, right. I'm thinking I'm gonna scream.


Friday, August 07, 2009

The WIP (yes, there is one!)

Sat down this week to begin work on the new novel. Wrote a friend that starting a new book is like jumping into a cold pool--one will find lots of ways to avoid making that initial plunge. :-)

The present WIP is called "The Grandma Gene," and it focuses on three sisters who meet at their late grandmother's house to clean it out so they can sell it. As they go through her things, they begin to know her as a person, not as the grandma they knew.

"The Grandma Gene" refers to a propensity for marrying often -- and a couple of the sisters have apparently inherited it. Before I could even begin to write this story, I knew I would need a timeline to keep track of who did what when. So I spent the better part of an afternoon with my calculator to set down the following timeline:

Timeline for Grandma Gene

1915: Lillian Irene Harper is born.

1928: Lillian’s father dies. Lillian leaves 8th grade to help her mother. She’s 13.

1931: Lillian marries Charles Winslow. She’s 16.

1932: Lillian gives birth to Donald “Donny” Madison Winslow.

1934: Lillian gives birth to a stillborn.

1935: Lillian gives birth to another stillborn.

1940: Lillian gives birth to Margaret Shirley Winslow, the girls’ mother.

1944, June 6: Charles Winslow killed at Invasion of Normandy

1945: Lillian marries Joseph Goldstein. Donny is 13; Meg is 5.

1950: Joseph Goldstein dies. Donny is 18; Meg is 10.

June 25: Korean War begins

1951: Following father’s example, Donny signs up for the Air Force.

1952: Lillian marries Arthur Carey. Meg is 12. Donny in Korea.

1953: Three days before Korean armistice declared, Donny dies in Korea. July 24.

1954: Arthur Carey dies. Meg is 14.

1956: Lillian marries Stanislav Bobinski. Meg is 16.

1958: Lillian divorces Stanislav Bobinski. Meg is 18 and engaged to Edward Lawrence.

1959: Lillian marries Edward Gordon. She is 44, Meg is 19.

1960: Meg marries James Lawrence.

1961: Ginger is born to Meg and James.

Lillian divorces Edward Gordon; he goes to prison.

Vietnam War begins.

1962: Lillian meets and marries Thomas James. She was 47 and a grandma.

1964: Lillian divorces Thomas James, philanderer.

1966: Pennyroyal is born to Meg and Lawrence. Ginger is five.

1968: Rosemary is born to Meg and Lawrence. Ginger is 7.

Lillian marries Walter George. She is 53. Ginger is flower girl.

Vietnam War ends.

1979: Ginger graduates from high school.

1983: Ginger graduates from college.

1984: Ginger marries Michael Bishop.

Penny graduates high school.

1986: Penny drops out of college to marry Ted Thacker.

Rosemary graduates high school.

1987: Penny in vet tech school.

1987: Penny gives birth to Reese Thacker.

1988: Rose marries Harper.

1989: Ginger gives birth to Ross Bishop.

Rose divorces Harper.

1991: Ginger gives birth to Ryan Bishop.

1993: Rose marries Jonah.

1995: James Lawrence, the girls’ father, dies when electrocuted. Age 60.

1996: Penny divorces Ted.

1997: Penny marries George.

1998: Penny divorces George.

Rose divorces Harper.

Walter George dies of heart failure. Lillian, devoted wife, is 83.

1999: Penny marries John.

2000: Penny divorces John.

Rose marries Wort Dodson.

2002: Penny marries Langston.

2005: Penny divorces Langston.

Rose establishes Racehorse rescue.

2007: Penny marries Bob. She’s 37, but Bob thinks she’s 32, his age.

2010: Lillian Harper Winslow Goldstein Carey Bobinski Gordon James George dies at 95. She bequeaths her beach house to her three granndaughters, Ginger, Penny, and Rose.

There. Put another check mark in the list of things to prepare before taking the plunge. Now, off to play THE SIMS.


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Pondering about Prayer

I've been thinking a lot about prayer lately, and I've come to a new conclusion: our old definitions don't work.

I saw a YouTube video the other day produced by an atheist. He'd been on a Christian website, where he'd read that God answers prayers in one of three ways: yes, no, or wait. He then pointed out that you could pray to a gallon jug of milk, asking for a new car, and have the exact same result.

You know what? He made a good point.

So--stay with me here--I've decided that prayer is the primary process through which God conforms us to his will.

If God exists outside of time, and everything He will do is as real to him as the things he has done and is doing-- (He is the "I AM," after all)--

If every "day of my life" is recorded in his book as Scripture says it is--

Since my free will is limited by his design, and his power is limited only by his own being (he can't do only the things it is impossible for him to do)--

Then everything I would/could/do pray for has already been decreed. So why pray?

First, because he has ordained that our prayers spur his actions. That's his chosen way of operation, to keep us close and in communication.

Second, because we are to pray according to his will. (1 John 5:14) When we don't receive what we pray for, it's because we "ask amiss." (James 4:3)

When I don't receive the healing for my sick friend, it's not that God told me "no." It's that He taught me to realize and remember that my sick friend has been healed and she's alive and well in heaven. When God doesn't heal my physical complaint, it's because he wants me to learn patience in suffering, or perhaps to commiserate with others. When God doesn't bring the prodigal home right away, it's because he's teaching his precious child . . . or letting them reach the place where they have nowhere to look but up. Prayer is all about changing my character and molding me into the image of Christ . . . and that's far beyond the power of a jug of milk.

So many people think that prayer is simply presenting a laundry list of petitions to God (witness Hollywood movies like "Bruce Almighty" where the protagonist is kept hopping to answer prayers like a fairy godfather), and it's not that at all. It's unburdening our hearts to him, and then throwing ourselves upon him in faith by declaring, "your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. In my life. In my family."

I think I can live by this. :-) I know I can rest in it.


Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Could you do this to your HOUSE?

555 KUBIK | facade projection | from urbanscreen on Vimeo.

Pretty cool, huh? These hands are actually giant projections thrown onto a building. I suppose you could do the same thing to your house if you wanted to give your neighbors a scare. :-)



Sunday, August 02, 2009

Ordering a pizza in 2012--year after next.

Check out this website . . . and then wonder why, as I did, the government wants to lift the ban currently in place that forbids government agencies from placing "cookies" on your computer.


Frightening, isn't it--how much they already know about us?


Saturday, August 01, 2009

New Book from my friend Lyn

My friend Lyn Cote (pronounced like "Cody, but with a "t"), has a new book out! Here's the blurb:


TEXAS: Star of Destiny

By Lyn Cote

HER INHERITANCE FOREVER (Avon Inspire, Trade Paperback Original, On Sale: August 18, 2009, ISBN: 9780061373435, $12.99) is book two of the Texas: Star of Destiny series,

In 1836 Texas, Alandra Sandoval is the Tejano lady of Rancho Sandoval. She is determined to show the world of men that she, a woman, can run the ranch successfully without a male by her side. Yet she still longs for future love and a family. Scully Falconer, a loner, is the top hand on a nearby ranch. He has given his loyalty to the Quinn family and doesn’t ask more than honest pay for an honest day’s work. Alandra, the lady of Mexican descent, and Scully, the American cowboy, think they have very different paths set before them. But greedy relatives burst onto the scene, threatening to change their way of life. And when General Santa Anna crosses the Rio Grande and marches north to keep his rendezvous with destiny at the Alamo, Alandra and Scully’s lives will never be the same.

The Library Journal says Lyn Cote “demonstrates her skill at creating strong female protagonists in compelling stories that will captivate historical romance readers.” HER INHERITANCE FOREVERattests to Cote’s ability to create page-turning, riveting romances with wonderful historical details that also allow readers to watch the forming of the Texas state."


LYN COTE is an award-winning author of both contemporary and historical inspirational romance. She speaks at state, regional and national writer’s conferences and is an active member of RWA and the American Christian Fiction Authors. Most recently, Chloe, the first novel in Lyn’s “Women of Ivy Manor” series published by FaithWords was a 2006 Rita Award finalist for Best Inspirational as well as a finalist for the Holt Medallion and the National Readers Choice Contest. She is also one the top-selling authors in Harlequin’s Love Inspired category line. Lyn and her husband live in Wisconsin.


By Lyn Cote

Avon Inspire/An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

On Sale: August 18, 2009


ISBN: 9780061373435

I hope you'll pick up Lyn's book and enjoy it. My book club meets Monday night to discuss our book for August--it was THE HELP, by Kathryn Stockett. I really enjoyed it, so I'm looking forward to a rousing discussion!