Thursday, April 30, 2009

Where in the world are Rose and Bernard?

...and 12 other random thoughts in this Thursday Thirteen

1. Have any of you "Lost" fans been wondering what I've been wondering: Where in the world are Rose and Bernard? We lost them somewhere during the time jumps that were being experienced by the island Losties. I've always loved this couple, and I do hope the writers resolve the matter of where they've been hanging out this whole time. And they darn sure better still be alive.

2. Well, well, well. Adam Lambert in the bottom 2 of American Idol...despite the fact that the show has been a virtual judges' FawnFest over him for weeks. I think Adam's legions of fans got complacent, since their beloved one had been pretty much awarded the crown by the judges and the media. They were thinking the rest of the season was just a technicality that had to be endured on the way to Adam's coronation. I'm glad to see this has been shaken up.

And no, I don't think the show manipulated anything. I think Adam fans got lazy, but I think next week they'll be voting so many times, they'll be risking carpal tunnel.

If “Star Trek” fails, Mr. (Alex) Kurtzman said, “it’ll be the biggest personal failure we’ve ever had, because we will have actually violated something that means a lot to us.”

3. A lot of sci-fans I know--and not just Trekkies--are looking forward to the JJ Abrams-helmed Star Trek movie. Here's an interesting article about it. (hat tip to

4. Is your name Matthew? And are you happier than other guys? --Dr. David Holmes of Manchester Metropolitan University believes first names can predict happiness or success. Names associated with happy people include Judy, Stephanie, Linda, Pam and Pat for ladies, and Matthew, Joshua, Jason, Terry and Barry for guys.

5. Are you freaked out by the swine flu epidemic?--So far, I would characterize my feelings as being concerned, but not alarmed. Yet.

6. People in Mexico are apparently getting pretty creative with their swine flu surgical masks. Hat tip to the Worthington Wire.

7. Facebook is Facebook and Twitter is Twitter, and never the twain should...try to be alike? This writer says Facebook is shooting itself in the foot by trying to be like Twitter. Hat tip to

8. The dog may have a little trouble fetching your laptop...Would you be willing to completely give up printed newspapers in favor of thier online versions? Many people apparently are...but not me. There's something about holding the newspaper in your hands that I would be reluctant to give up completely. Same with reading a book...part of the experience for is holding the actual book in my hands.

9. "This is not a weave!"--Oprah defends her hair. Another hat tip to The Worthington Wire.

10. Was our nation really founded on Judeo-Christian principles? It would appear so. Hat tip to Angela Hunt's A Life in Pages.

11. Don't forget: the National Day of Prayer is coming up May 7th.

12. I'm really enjoying some Dean Koontz...And I do have to qualify that. I've picked up a few of his earlier novels and been put off by content I prefer not to read...but some of his more recent works are not only incredibly page-turning, but truly inspiring as well.

Koontz's worldview unabashedly places a high value on human life, and takes a dim view of academic elites and others who clearly do not. But I can't give a blanket endorsement to all his books, because if you don't like certain non-family-friendly things, you will find those in his earlier books.

I have really, really liked the Odd Thomas books, and I'm looking forward to reading Odd Hours, the latest that's just now out in paperback.

Basically, Odd sees dead people. But despite the macabre factor there, his stories manage to be humor-filled and engaging even as they're chill-inducing.

Not for everyone...but I like 'em!

13. Any interesting or amusing links you want to pass along? Include them in my comments section. Just make sure they're family-friendly!

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The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It’s easy, and fun!

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A young girl's view of the Holocaust

Today I'm participating in a blog tour to promote an intriguing new book about a young girl who survived the Holocaust. Normally I read a book before I blog about it, but because of an extremely busy past few weeks, I wasn't able to do so. What follows is a question-and-answer post provided by the author and publisher. I do definitely plan to read this book!--Cindy

Nonna Bannister appeared to be a typical American housewife. She married Henry, the love of her life, in 1951 and together they raised three children in Memphis, Tennessee. But Nonna was far from average. For half a century, she kept her story secret while living a normal life. She locked all of her photos, documents, diaries, and dark memories from World War II in a trunk in her attic.

Tyndale House Publishers announces the publication of The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister written by Nonna Bannister with Denise George and Carolyn Tomlin (April 2009, Tyndale House), the haunting eyewitness account of Nonna Lisowskaja Bannister, a remarkable Russian girl who saw and survived unspeakable evils during World War II.

Questions & Answers

1. The Secret Holocaust Diaries is written by Nonna although she passed away in 2004. Did she write the book before she died?

Yes, she slipped up into the attic each night, translated her diaries (from several different languages), and recorded them in English onto yellow legal pads. Much later, after she told her husband, Henry, about her incredible past, she showed him the stacks of yellow legal pads on which she had translated her diaries and recorded her thoughts about her past, and he typed them up into a manuscript.

2. Would Nonna have liked to see her book published before she died?

Nonna translated her diary into English and her husband, Henry, typed the manuscript. However, she requested the diary not be published until at least 2 or 3 years after she died. Henry honored this request. (She died in 2004.) The story was very painful and reminded her of the suffering her family endured. When she came to America in 1950 she was overwhelmed by her new life. She was determined to make a new life for herself and to give her husband and children a happy home.

3. Nonna came from a privileged family. Are there any interesting stories of people her ancestors knew?
Nonna's family "ran with" the upper crust in the Ukraine and Russia. Her mother and father were educated in Russia's great cultural city, St. Petersburg. Nonna's grandmother and grandfather knew the last Tsar, Nicholas II, and Nonna kept a postcard sent by him (shortly before his death) to her grandfather, Jakob, for his birthday (dated 1913?). Jakob was killed during the Revolution while trying to help Russian families escape.

Nonna writes in her diary of living on the ”Chekov Lane” in Taganrog, the street where Russian writer Anton Chekov (1860–1904) had once lived.
The family also visited often the boy Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (nicknamed "Sasha") and his mother, Taissia. She and Nonna’s mother, Anna, were good friends. They enjoyed giving concerts and playing the violin and piano. Nonna writes of eating ice cream with her mother and Taissia, and spending the night in the Solzhenitsyn home during a thunderstorm. Alexander was older that Nonna, studying at the university.

4. Many people assume most of the people killed by the Nazis were Jewish. Was Nonna’s family Jewish?
Although it is estimated that approximately 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis, other nationalities experienced suffering and death, also. Nonna's family was Russian and owned seven grain mills and homes in southern Russia and the Ukraine. Her father, Yevgeny, and his family were from Warsaw, Poland, which included a large population of Jews. Due to border restrictions, Nonna never met her father's family. Yevgeny never told Nonna and her brother, Anatoly, if his family was Jewish. If the children didn't know, they could not let it slip. The admission of being Jewish could have meant deportation or certain death. There is speculation, but no one is certain.

5. Nonna saved many documents from her time at Nazi camps; what are these artifacts?
In a small ticking pillow she kept tied around her waist, she kept many one inch square photos of her family and friends in the Ukraine. She also kept her small childhood diary. On tiny slips of paper, she wrote her experiences (in diary form) and also kept these in the little pillow.
Later she kept all these in a small trunk, which she painted bright green.

6. When Nonna finally revealed her secret, was her family shocked?

Henry knew there was something about her past that she didn’t want to talk about. Being a patient man, he never pressed her to speak about this secret. As they grew older, he asked her to write down some things about her family—so their children would know their heritage. After months of secretly translating her diary (written in several different languages) she took him to the attic, open the little green trunk and showed him her family’s photos and the yellow legal pages of the translated diary. Henry was astonished at what he saw.

7. Why did Nonna keep her devastating secret for so many years?

Nonna kept her secret past from her family/friends because she had, at last, found such happiness with her husband, Henry, and her three children. She didn't want to express her past pain--she didn’t want it to interrupt the family's happiness and cast a shadow of despair over them.

8. The diaries themselves were written in several languages and some were on scraps of paper. How did she go about transcribing them?
Nonna learned English after she came to America in 1950. This became her primary language. She realized they should be transcribed in English so Henry could type the pages. He spent several years typing these notes after work and on weekends.
The miniature black/white photos, the diaries, the notes from the prison camp, her mother’s letters from the concentration camps, and other documents were organized and put into chapters for a book—one she hoped would be published after her death.

9. What can people of Christian faith or Jewish faith/descent take from The Secret Holocaust Diaries?
That grave injustice exists--Nonna learned that from the Red Army (who killed many of her family members) and Hitler's army (who also killed many of her family members and imprisoned her in a labor camp). But that God's love and forgiveness for those who hurt us are stronger than even Hitler's evil and injustice. Nonna came out of the whole experience with her heart still filled with love. She experienced none of the bitterness and hatred that some Jewish Holocaust survivors have held onto. She was able to marry, raise children, and bring them much joy and happiness through her own love and through introducing them to God's love.

10. Why did Nonna feel it was so important to share her story?The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister is a true story of a young Russian girl whose family was caught up in the Russian Revolution and in World War II. In spite of the injustice inflicted on her family and millions of others, it is a story of love and forgiveness. Nonna wanted others to know the horrors that occurred during the Hitler and Stalin era so that it might never happen again.
Nonna felt compelled to tell her story because she was an eyewitness to many dramatic events, and she was the only survivor of her entire family.

Late in life, Nonna unlocked her trunk filled with memories from World War II first for her husband, and now for the rest of the world. Nonna’s story is one of suffering, torture, and death—but also of incredible acts of kindness that show the ultimate triumph of faith and love over despair and evil. The Secret Holocaust Diaries is in part a tragedy, yet ultimately it’s an unforgettable true story about forgiveness, courage, and hope.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Steven Curtis Chapman: Dove Artist of the Year

"It's a hope that makes us if we could say anything as a family, a broken family, having lost our little's just, let this hope make us so bold. Jesus is coming; he can't come soon enough for me."--Steven Curtis Chapman

Steven Curtis Chapman was named Artist of the Year at the Gospel Music Association Dove Awards in Nashville last night, and in my opinion, there's no one more deserving.

It's been a tragic year for Chapman and his family, with the loss of their 5-year-old daughter Maria last May. Steven and Mary Beth have shone as examples of grace in the midst of tragedy.

They never minimized their loss or failed to acknowledge their pain and bewilderment. But they clung, visibly and openly, to the hope that Steven mentions in that quote above.

From an article on the Doves:

He (Chapman) acknowledged he likely was a sentimental favorite following the tragic death of his 5-year-old daughter, Maria, last May.

"I realize there are some unique reasons this year that I'm standing here," Chapman said during an emotional acceptance speech with his wife, Mary Beth, by his side, acknowledging the flood of support from colleagues and fans.

"We've been given an opportunity we never would have signed up for to tell about our hope . . . it's a hope that makes us bold," he said.

Chapman had performed his ballad "Cinderella," which tells the story of a father-daughter relationship through the years, a song he had written before Maria's death.

However, I don't believe Chapman won the award solely as the sentimental favorite. His talent as a musician and lyricist have never been in doubt, and the words to his songs negate the perception that all modern Christian music lyrics are shallow. In his song, "Yours," Chapman wrote from the depth of his pain:

I’ve walked the valley of death’s shadow
So deep and dark that I could barely breathe
I’ve had to let go of more than I could bear
And questioned everything that I believe
But still even here
in this great darkness
A comfort and hope come breaking through
As I can say in life or death
God, we belong to you.

And it’s all Yours God, Yours God
Everything is Yours
From the stars in the sky to the depths of the ocean floor
And it’s all Yours God, Yours God
Everything is Yours
All the greatness and power, the glory and splendor and majesty
Everything is Yours
It’s all Yours

May God bless Steven Curtis Chapman and his family.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

13 of the best cities to walk in

San Francisco’s city government devotes 12 agencies to walking issues. Boston’s patterned intersections encourage more people to walk. New York residents log the fewest vehicle miles, and Washington, D.C.’s extensive public transport system makes exploring on foot a breeze. These are among the Top 25 Walking Cities in America, according to Prevention’s annual survey with the American Podiatric Medical Association and Sperling’s Best Places. The complete findings are available at

1. San Francisco, CA
2. Boston, MA
3. New York, NY
4. Philadelphia, PA
5. Chicago, IL
6. Washington, D.C.
7. Seattle, WA
8. Honolulu, HI
9. Portland, OR
10. Pittsburgh, PA
11. Oakland, CA 24.
12. Minneapolis, MN
13. San Diego, CA

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It’s easy, and fun!

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Breathing life back into Notes in the Key of Life?

Wow! I think this is the longest vacation I've ever taken from my blog. It all started with an actual vacation to Texas, and then I just neglected it.

However, after giving it some thought, I realize that I don't want to let this blog languish and die. I've put some time and care into it, and I don't think I'm ready for its demise. So I hereby breathe new life into "Notes in the Key of Life."

The picture you see above is my little grandson, Payton, hunting Easter eggs. It was such a joy to spend Easter with him, and all the other people I love in Texas!

Both my sons live in Texas(my oldest son, Jonathan, is the one who is married to the lovely Daylyn, and the dad of my grandson Payton). Below is a pic of me with my boys, Justin and Jonathan, at a wonderful Mexican restaurant in Georgetown, Texas, called "Dos Salsas." I'm craving their salsa even as we speak.

After enjoying that meal, we were off to the Palace Theater in Georgetown where my wonderfully talented niece, Katie Walther, was starring as Sandy in "Grease." What a fun night!

It was a wonderful visit and a great Easter holiday.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Heading to Texas!

I've shamefully neglected my blog lately anyway, but just in case there are any of you that are still checking it: it's going an another short hiatus.

I'm headed to Texas today for a few days for the Easter holiday. If you're the praying kind, send up a prayer for safe travel!

I promise I'll be a better blogger after this short break. (Say that five times fast!)

Have a blessed Easter, everyone!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

13 60s and 70s TV actresses I wished I looked like

OK, so this is a repeat, but I originally posted it almost a year ago! Here we go:

I was not a beautiful junior high school student. Let's just say I went through a severe awkward stage. I can vividly remember watching TV shows in the 60's and 70's and wishing I looked like some of those actresses. Here are 13 of them:

Marlo Thomas--"That Girl"

Barbara Eden--"I Dream of Jeannie"

Tina Cole--My Three Sons

Peggy Lipton--The Mod Squad

Maureen McCormick--The Brady Bunch

Barbara Feldon--Get Smart

Sally Field--Gidget and The Flying Nun

Mary Tyler Moore--The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show

Elizabeth Montgomery--Bewitched

Meredith McRae--Petticoat Junction

Linda Kaye Henning--Petticoat Junction

Lori Saunders--Petticoat Junction

Donna Douglas--The Beverly Hillbillies

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