Thursday, August 31, 2006

Thursday 13: Thirteen Stars of Old Hollywood

Here are pictures of 13 stars of Hollywood's Golden Age. How many of them can you identify?

I'm participating in the Thursday 13 meme! Go here to participate.

Glenn Ford, Grace Kelly, Humphrey Bogart, June Allyson, Judy Garland, Elizabeth Taylor, Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, Gary Cooper, Ginger Rogers, Gregory Peck, Barbara Stanwyck, Fred Astaire

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I do the Four Things Meme

Barbara H of Stray Thoughts tagged me with this a couple of weeks ago, and I'm just now getting around to it! Sorry, Barbara! Well, here goes:

Four jobs I have had in my life:

1. A reading monitor at an ACE (Accelerated Christian Education) school (don't ask!)in Houston, TX
2. Re-filling coffee and tea and bussing tables at a Furr's Cafeteria in Hobbs, NM
3. News reporter at KWFC Radio in Springfield, Missouri
4. News director/morning show co-host on 101QFL/Radio 91 in Rockford, Illinois

Four movies I could watch over and over:

1. It's a Wonderful Life
2. The Princess Bride
3. You've Got Mail
4. The Phantom of the Opera

Four Places I have lived:

1. Springfield, Missouri
2. Odessa, Texas
3. Hobbs, New Mexico
4. Beirut, Lebanon

Four things I like to do:

1. Read
2. Listen to music
3. Do crosswords and cryptoquotes
4. Dine out with family and friends

Four websites I visit daily:

1. The Drudge Report
2. La Shawn Barber's Corner
3. Pyromaniacs
4. Sitemeter
Four of my favorite foods:

1. Tex-Mex anything
2. Chocolate anything
3. Pizza
4. Steak

Four places I would like to be right now:

1. Round Rock, TX
2. Casper, WY
3. Ireland
4. Here, where I am

Four places I have been on vacation:

1. Round Rock, TX
2. Casper, WY
3. San Diego, CA
4. Lake Norfork, Arkansas

I'll pass on tagging anyone, but feel free to play along in my comments section or on your own blog!

The latest edition of The Christian Carnival is up:

Go here for links to some great reading!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Some things need to be remembered...

...Like Hurricane Katrina and September 11th

President Bush has declared today a Day of Remembrance of Hurricane Katrina.

For those of us far away from the affected areas, this is a good reminder. It's easy to assume that things are fine now...after all, they've had an entire year to clean up and rebuild, right?

A closer look at the progress since Katrina hit should be a good splash of reality in the face of our naivete. The devastation is such that it will take years--many years in some cases--to rebuild.

As I blogged about last week, I was able to interview Don Elbourne, the pastor of Lakeshore Baptist Church in Lakeshore, Mississippi. I had heard and read that there is still much to be done, not only in New Orleans but in the hard-hit Mississippi Gulf Coast region, but my interview with Don really brought it home.

If you haven't already read the post, which includes sound clips from the interview, I urge you to do so:

Katrina One Year Later: A Mississippi church continues to rebuild

What better way to remember, on this day of remembrance, than to hear the story of one church and to be reminded of the needs that remain?

Remembering 9/11

You may have noticed this new graphic on my sidebar:

That message is there because I'm one of 2,996 bloggers who have signed up to observe September 11th by memorializing one its victims.

The project is called, simply, 2,996. From the site: "2,996 is a tribute to the victims of 9/11.

"On September 11, 2006, 2,996 volunteer bloggers
will join together for a tribute to the victims of 9/11.
Each person will pay tribute to a single victim.

"We will honor them by remembering their lives,
and not by remembering their murderers."

On Monday, the 2.996th name was assigned, but if you didn't sign up, check the site for other ways that you can remember the victims on 9/11.

Because some things need to be remembered.

Monday, August 28, 2006

What inspired your blog name?

I recently discovered, and have since been continually delighted by, Barb's A Chelsea Morning blog.

Well, Barb has come up with a terrific idea. She wants you to post about what inspired your blog's name. Writes Barb: "Does it have some special meaning to you? Is it just a clever play on words? Do you think when people arrive at your place your blog name tells them something about you that you want them to know right away?"

She suggests you post about your blog's name, then go back to her blog and link it.

My blog's name is based loosely on a Stevie Wonder album that was popular when I was a young woman, called "Songs in the Key of Life." I always thought that was such a clever title. I knew I wanted my blog to be about, and celebrate life. The "Notes" is a play on words--it could mean musical notes or the notes I'm writing in my blog.

Truth be told, if I were doing it all over again, I would probably name my blog something more identifiable with me, as La Shawn Barber has done with her "La Shawn Barber's Corner." But I still like "Notes in the Key of Life," and it'll do.

How about you? What inspired your blog name?

Friday, August 25, 2006

Hey! I'm a blogging chick!

and this week's Cindy Swanson, CyberSnoop

Yep, I'm officially a Blogging Chick now. I know, you're probably thinking "Just how many blogrolls are you aiming to join?" I'm not really going for any kind of a record. But I've always held to the concept that if I'm going to go to the trouble of maintaining a blog, I would like for it to have readers.

You can now see the Blogging Chicks blogroll on my sidebar. Again, the caveat: I don't agree with or approve of everything written on the blogs on my sidebar. But you will find some really terrific blogs that are well worth reading.

Read my post about one church's journey since Katrina

All you need to do is scroll down a bit. I interviewed Pastor Don Elbourne yesterday, and I found the interview very moving and timely, with the first anniversary of Katrina just around the corner. Please take a few minutes to read the post, and listen to the soundclips if you can.

And now, Cindy Swanson, CyberSnoop...

Does microwaving food in plastic containers really release deadly chemicals?

Find out by listening to Cindy Swanson, CyberSnoop (2 minutes 37 seconds)

Have a blessed weekend, everyone!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Thirteen Thoughts and Questions

Completely random, but perhaps of interest?

1. We need RAIN. I thought we were going to get some today, but after some insignicant drops. it pretty much bypassed us.

2. I really like the biblical word loving-kindness.

3. Do you think Wellesley would make a cute name for a girl, or is it a bit much? I kind of like it. I've heard of little girls named Paisley, Ainsley and Sinclair. My own adorable little niece is Channing. (Feel free to share cool names in my comments section.)

4. Do you drink your tap water, or do you buy bottled? I buy bottled.

5. I love romantic comedies, like "You've Got Mail." Why don't they make more movies like that?

6. What's the best movie you've seen lately, and why did you like it?

7. Big prayer request: my son Justin needs a job.

8. My husband is just as attractive to me--even more so--than when we got married 28 years ago.

9. I could be wrong, but I'm leaning toward thinking John Mark Karr is full of it.

10. This is the part of summer where I'm actually kind of looking forward to fall.

11. This is one of the most enjoyable blogs I read on a regular basis. It's refreshingly honest and often delightfully humorous.

12. Please give me your very best diet tip.

13. And please, when you have a moment, read my post below about Mississippi pastor Don Elbourne and how his small church has fared in the year since Katrina destroyed its facilities and the homes of all its members. Can you believe it's been a year?

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

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! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Katrina: One year later, a Mississippi church continues to rebuild

"The one thing that has sustained us through this is a strong reliance on God's sovereignty and His control over all things....The ultimate, over-arching purpose is that He be glorified, and we're starting to see those thousands of purposes that are underneath that canopy...I'm saying from first hand, if I didn't have the assurance that God was in control of this, I could not have made it."--Don Elbourne, pastor of Lakeshore Baptist Church in Lakeshore, Mississippi

Don Elbourne posted this on his blog on August 31st of last year: "I am alive. My wife and two kids are alive. My family survived Hurricane Katrina. Still numb from the devastation around us, I can’t help but praise God for the safety of my family and the assurance that God’s providence works all things together for our good and his glory."

That was only the beginning.

It's been almost a year since Hurricane Katrina slammed the Gulf Coast. Lakeshore, Mississippi, bore the brunt of her fury. Don Elbourne has pastored the church, situated between New Orleans and Biloxi, Mississippi, for 12 years.

Today, Don is looking back on a year of rebuilding efforts. It's been a year of devastation and trauma, but it's also been a year of incredible faith and amazing grace.

I was able to interview Don this morning. He spoke on his cell phone as he watched people line up to receive food at the church's food distribution center, still going strong and serving some 500 people a day.

After the Storm

Don and his family, whose actual home was in New Orleans, had headed to his parents' home in Baton Rouge in advance of the storm. When he was finally able to get back to Lakeshore, he was heartsick at what he saw. There was literally nothing left of what had been three small buildings built in the early 1950's.

Don describes his first visit back the church in this (2 min 14 sec) soundbite:

After the first overwhelming days, church members had to decide what to do next. Their first order of business? Days after the storm, they set up folding chairs on the church property and, well, had church.

Don describes that first church service in this (1 min 8 sec) soundbite:

Help arrives

A year later, Don looks back on a steady stream of church groups who have come to Lakeshore to help clean up and rebuild, calling it "overwhelming in the best possible way."

The church is still meeting in temporary buildings, having made a decision to hold off on re-building its own facility until church members had places to live. Says Don, "We've learned a very important lesson that we've always given lip service to before, that 'the church is not the building.'"

Everyone lost their homes, and Don says it's going to take years to rebuild. Many people still live in cramped FEMA campers. Workers are building houses from the ground up; some 50 have been built so far. Crews are still welcome, especially skilled plumbers, electricians and the like. "The job is far, far from over, and we still need all the help we can get," says Don.

Lessons learned

What has God taught Pastor Don Elbourne and the people of Lakeshore Baptist Church through Hurricane Katrina? Don's reply: that God is sovereign, and that His purposes will be fulfilled through the storm and its after-effects. Without that conviction and assurance, Don says he would not have made it.

Don describes what God has taught him through the storm in this (1 min 17 sec) soundclip:

If you'd like to help Lakeshore Baptist Church, the best way is to give them a call at (228) 469-0110. If you can't personally help with rebuilding efforts or financial needs, prayer is greatly appreciated.

(Pictures are courtesy of Don Elbourne's website, Locusts and Wild Honey, where you can find the entire story of what has happened in the past year, and what continues to happen for Don and for Lakeshore Baptist Church.)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The easiest, most delicious banana pudding ever

While visiting Texas, I was blessed enough to be at Faith Baptist Church in Round Rock for a classic, traditional Baptist potluck--yep, a "dinner on the grounds."
You haven't lived until you've tasted the things that good Baptist women can cook up!

I was busy sampling the tasty morsels that crowded my heaping plate, when I noticed that the dessert I had been eying was quickly getting eaten up. I had seen the banana pudding while going through the line, but thought I would come back for it later.

Well, my cousin Tommy (the Family Reunion was still going strong) sent his son David to the line to get us generous bowls of the pudding. It was so delicious, I truly thought I was blowing any semblance of healthy eating. But when I got the recipe from Pam Pike, I found out that the banana pudding really isn't that sinful...and you can even make it low-fat and it's STILL delicious.

I've made it twice with the low-fat ingredients, and it's amazing. My grown kids who live with me, and are always trying to lose weight, give it a hearty thumbs-up. So, without further ado, here it is:

Pam Pike's Easy and Delicious Banana Pudding

3 cups cold milk--use skim milk to cut fat and calories

2 boxes banana cream pudding-- or use sugar-free, fat-free banana cream pudding

1 to 1-and-a-half boxes Nilla Vanilla Wafers, depending on how much cookie you like in your pudding--set aside about a half box to crush for top of pudding--I used reduced-fat Nilla wafers

4 good-sized bananas, sliced

2 cartons Cool Whip--I used Lite Cool Whip

Whisk the pudding with the 3 cups milk; set aside. Slice 4 bananas and fold into pudding mixture. Fold in 1 carton Cool Whip and vanilla wafers. Smooth another carton of Cool Whip on top; top with crushed vanilla wafers. Refrigerate overnight to give cookies time to soften.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Your kid's college: stone cold sober or partying hearty?

The Princeton Review has come out with its lists of colleges that are either the most "Stone Cold Sober" or the ones that have the biggest rep as party schools.

Topping the party-hearty list is the University of Texas at Austin; the Mormons' Brigham University is at the top of the sober list, followed by the evangelical Wheaton College. (I would imagine that famous Wheaton alumni, like Billy Graham and Elisabeth Elliot, would approve.)

Why does this matter?

Well, even if you personally have no problem with the imbibing of what Rush Limbaugh calls "adult beverages," there's no doubt that drinking is a HUGE problem on college campuses.

According to this article: "Despite the best efforts of college administrators, the pressure to drink is enormous. The results can be serious. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, college drinking contributes to an estimated 1,400 student deaths (mostly automobile related), 500,000 injuries, and 70,000 cases of sexual assault each year. Male college drinkers may have 12 or more drinks on 20 percent of the occasions when they drink."

We've all heard of tragedies resulting from binge drinking, from alcohol poisoning to traffic fatalities to sexual assaults to hazing deaths.

If you talk to the students on the "stone cold sober" list, I doubt if you'll find they're a sad and boring bunch. The fact is, hard as it may be for some to fathom, it's completely possible to have a good time and enjoy yourself without drinking. Amazing concept, huh?

You can see the complete list of colleges here.

The joy of re-reading

Do you ever re-visit a book that you read years ago? I did that over the weekend.

I checked out Madeleine Brent's Tregaron's Daughter from the library, remembering little about it except that I had greatly enjoyed it years ago.

Upon re-reading, I realized that I remembered VERY little about the plot--so much so, that it was almost like reading a brand-new book. And it was terrific.

I think I've read all of Brent's books, and enjoyed every one of them. It came as a shock when I found out, not too long ago, that "Madeleine Brent" is actually a pseudonym for...a MAN! Yes, Brent was actually author Peter O'Donnell. Read more here.

I think I've mentioned in this blog that I read "Jane Eyre" probably at least once a year.

How about you? Do you ever re-read old favorites?

Related Tags:

Monday, August 21, 2006

Monday Madness

You know the drill. Answer the Monday Madness questions here or on your own blog (and happy Monday, by the way :)):

1. Would you shave your head for any amount of money? If yes, how much? My knee-jerk response was an unequivocal "no." My hair is so much a part of who I am, I would hate to lose it for any reason. Then I thought: hey, hair grows back. And wigs nowadays look pretty good. And I could certainly use the money for college tuitions and a host of other things. So, OK. For 1-million bucks, I'd go the Demi-Moore-in-GI-Jane-route. :)

2. What "whacky" thing might you do for a large sum of money?Well, I've just said I'd shave my head for a million bucks. That's probably as "whacky" as I'm willing to go.

3. What do you think is a "large sum of money?"--I know a million dollars isn't nearly as much as it used to be, but it's still "a large sum of money" to me. So, a cool mill.

4. Do you watch "reality" tv shows?--I'm totally over the ones where people sit around in houses together acting ridiculous or just being inanely boring. But I admit to loving "American Idol" and "The Apprentice."

5. If so, which do you watch and in what order do you prefer them? If not, are there any you may consider watching?--See #4.

6. Which reality show have you thought about participating in? Why? None.

7. Share one thing you would like to do in life but have not yet done..... think about why you haven't done it and share if you wish. I'd like to write a fiction book and have it published. That's always been a dream of mine, but interestingly enough, the more I communicate with some of my favorite authors (and the internet has made that wonderfully possible), the more I doubt that I have what it takes to do that.

Writing top-notch fiction books is not for the lazy or easily discouraged--both of which I have a tendency to be. Good writers put a great deal of time and work into their craft. They also face rejection on a regular basis.

The more I think about it, the more I think maybe I'm like the sportswriter who wanted to be an NFL player but couldn't make the grade. So instead of playing sports, he writes or talks about them. Maybe I'm destined to point people to the wonderful fiction writers, not write wonderful fiction.

But I haven't ruled it out.

My other great dream: to go to Ireland. The only thing standing in my way is a lack of money. So, does anyone want me to shave my head?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Oh, the places I've been!

create your own visited states map
or check out these Google Hacks.

The red states in the map above have nothing to do with politics. They are the states that I've visited.

You can create such a map of your own here. (Hat tip to A Chelsea Morning.)

Several of the states I've visited, I've actually just passed through on the way to other places. I would love to spend more time in, say, the Carolinas, and Georgia. My mom has always talked about how beautiful Savannah is, and I used to be hooked on Eugenia Price books. And I love, love, love Colorado, especially the western Rockies, and would love to spend more time there.

And of those I've never visited? I would dearly love to go to Maine, Vermont, Washington, Oregon and Massachusetts.

We're blessed to have such a varied, beauiful country!

So...are there any US places you really want to see, or that you think I should see? Let me know in my comments section!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Is this picture for real?

Cindy Swanson, CyberSnoop; Bad Poetry Day; the Left Behind computer game; and some Thurday Thirteeners that tickled my funny bone

The stunning picture above is circulating the internet via e-mails right now, with the claim that it was taken during a spate of tornadoes in Sedalia, Missouri in March of this year. Is it for real? Find out by listening to this ( :58) Cindy Swanson, CyberSnoop:

And stuff...

Did you know that this is Bad Poetry Day?

And what constitutes bad poetry? I found this poem on a website for writers a couple of years ago:

"How To Spot Bad Poetry

A page despoiled with thee’s and thines
To hide the vacuum of the lines
Cryptic phrase and twisted verse
Trite filagree agrandized dearth

Derivative style and poorly thought
Hackneyed image baneful wrought
Playing obvious slave to insipid rhyme
Like I did in these last four lines

Word stumbles on top of word
Myriad follow the pointless first
Saying nothing new in no new way
Bowed below unearn’ed bay."

Wow, that sums it up pretty well.

The Left Behind Computer Game

I must admit, I dropped out of the popular apocalyptic "Left Behind" series after the first couple of books. I guess I just lost interest, although I'm happy for any good the books have done for the Kingdom.

However, I have a problem with what I've heard about the new "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" computer game soon being shipped to churches nationwide.

Religion Roundup reports that the game is set in New York City after the world's Christians have disappeared in the Rapture. "The player, who's been left behind, must either convert or kill unbelievers."

I have to agree with Miami attorney Jack Thompson, who is a Christian and is quoted as being dismayed that "the game is about killing people for their lack of faith in Jesus."

UPDATE: See my comments section, where Jonny has a link to a different take on the game.

Funny Thirteeners

First of all, a question. I've been participating in the Thursday Thirteen meme for several weeks now, and I try to visit quite a few of the other participating blogs and leave my "calling card" there. But HOW in the world do some of the Thirteeners garner 45 or 50 comments to their list? I think my personal best has been, well, 13.
Just curious.

Anyway,in the course of participating, I've been introduced to some great blogs (and some not so great, which I find personally offensive and I won't be visiting again.)

Here are a couple that made me laugh out loud yesterday:

Bloggin' Outloud's Thirteen Ice Breakers Not to Use in your next small group meeting

A Chelsea Morning's You Might Be a Blogaholic If...

These are instant classics, in my book!

Wish me Happy Anniversary...

Tomorrow is my 28th wedding anniversary, but I probably won't be blogging tomorrow. Happy anniversary, Wugs. I love you!

Related Tags:

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Thirteen Pics from the Family Reunion

Thought I'd share 13 pics from the 1st Annual Garrett Family Reunion--Round Rock, TX, August 2006! Just click on each photo to see a caption.

Just a note: Lisa and Bev are my sisters; Elizabeth is my daughter; Jon is my son and Daylyn is my daughter-in-law. Few of my pics turned out well, so there are none there of my gorgeous husband Doug or my handsome son Justin. Also, my beautiful mom shows up in only one pic--the "Women Be Shoppin'" one. I took these with a disposable time I'll make sure to use a digital one. Live and learn!

Anyway, the Family Reunion was awesome.

UPDATE 8/23/06:The slide show has been removed, but the pics can be viewed here.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

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! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Wednesday Stuff

Just a few random things to pass along:

The Beauty of the Philippines

Some of you may be familiar with Ganns Deen's blogs, Superblessed and Ganns Deen Online. Ganns lives in the Philippines, and he happened to mention on his blog that he is taking his wife Cathy on a birthday trip to the island of Palawan. I expressed my congrats on the trip and said something about hearing that the Philippines is a lovely country.

Ganns e-mailed me a reply that was so cool, I felt I should share it: "The Philippines is a beautiful, God-blessed place. Like any other nation, it has its pros and its cons, but there is no denying that my homeland is a breathtaking archipelago of indescribable wonder. I remember being 23 on a blustery day in Tagaytay City, looking down on Taal Volcano, a spectacular volcano within a lake, the fog gathering around the volcano's mouth, the cloudy sky above, and the still lake waters below, miles and miles of rainforest around me... I thought to myself, "Lord, I KNOW You exist. But now I BELIEVE it." That was the start of my journey to salvation. :)"

Beautiful, Ganns.

I missed Lefty Day

My left-handed friend Randy missed the official Left Handers Day on Monday...and I forgot to mention it to my left-handed son, Jonathan. Randy has some interesting thoughts on left-handedness.

(By the way, Randy's blog, Reflections in Life, is well worth checking out on a regular basis. He just started blogging recently, and his posts are always an interesting and engaging read.)

I was amazed when, at a very early age, Jon started showing a definite preference for using his left hand. No one in my family had been left-handed,although there are a few lefties scattered throughout the Swanson clan. In fact, it's said that Grandpa Gust Swanson (who died at the age of 103) was ambidexterous.

If you're a southpaw (that's a funny word, isn't it?!), any thoughts on how it's affected you? Is it a pain, or do you wear your lefthandedness proudly?

Strange Sign

My daughter and I were driving in our city the other day when we were puzzled by a sign that looked like it was hastily thrown up on a pole in a residential neighborhood. (I infer the hastiness because it was rather sloppily written.)

Anyway, the sign reads something to the effect of "The Bible says it is a sin to mark your body with tattoes."

Oh-kay. As my daughter observed, "Why, if you were going to put up a sign proclaiming a message from the Bible, would that be the message you chose? Why not something like, 'The Bible says God loves you and wants you to be saved?'"

Good question.

Quote o' The Day

Author B.J. Hoff on the literary trend of "stories without hope": "I can handle unhappy endings, even tragedy. I don’t read a novel expecting a stereotypical happy ending. Unhappiness and tragedy are all too realistic, too true to life. But the flatline character who senses no desire for connection with the world around him, who shows no awareness of the need for at least a touch of redemption–woven through a novel that’s more consumed by the author’s need to reflect his 'art,' his own brilliance, than a writer’s integrity to the story–why give it valuable hours when, having become all too accustomed to the format by now, you know you’re simply facing the same familiar emptiness at the end?"

(I couldn't agree more.)

Monday, August 14, 2006

Monday Madness

Blogging on the fly today, so just enough time for Monday Madness. Answer the questions in my comments section or on your own blog!

1. How many "people" pictures do you have displayed in your house?
About 15, not counting my daughter's room where she has several, and not counting a big collage of family pics. I plan to add at least one more collage. I love pictures of my friends and family, but don't have a lot of surfaces to put them on on areas to hang them!

2. How many times a month/year do you rearrange your furniture?--I used to rearrange frequently in my old house, but don't do it much at all in my new house. The exception: I moved the livingroom furniture around at Christmas to make room for the tree.

3. Do you check your email every day? If so, how many times a day?
Many times while at work, since much of my work revolves around e-mail. Maybe once a day at home.

4. How often do you generally look at a clock/watch on any given day?--Too often to count! My radio job is run by the clock, and away from work I often need or want to know what time it is.

5. How do you handle telemarketer phone calls?
--I haven't gotten one in ages. I signed up for the do-not-call list, plus we only use cell phones now. I answered a couple for my mom while in Texas, and I was really annoyed at them, especially the ones who try to sound real but they're pre-recorded. Instant hang-up!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Dealing with those air travel restrictions

...and other thoughts floating through my brain today, plus "Cindy Swanson, CyberSnoop"

I flew from Austin, Texas to Chicago's O'Hare airport Tuesday. I had no carry-on luggage, but I did have a bag containing a bottle of water (for some reason I get a little panicky if I don't have water on hand), a small bottle of contact solution, and some hand lotion. My purse contained liquid makeup (Estee Lauder Double Wear, 34.00 a pop!), lipsticks and cream blush, among other nonliquid items.

I was also toting a cup of Coke on ice from Schlotsky's.

Had I traveled two days later, I couldn't have taken any of those things on board, thanks to the plans of terrorists that were, thank God, foiled by British authorities.

I fly at least a couple of times a year, sometimes more. I know that's not nearly as often as my friend Teri...she works for Microsoft and flies almost every week on business.

If the restrictions continue indefinitely, those of us who fly at all will have to live with some real inconvenience. I usually fall asleep in flight, and when I wake up, contact lenses have to be refreshed. Usually someone is picking me up who hasn't seen me in a while; I don't want to look like a haggard mess, so while we're descending I'm touching up my make-up. Fairly impossible with the current restrictions...unless pencil lipliner is OK? Still...

I realize these restrictions are for our own good, and believe me, I'm grateful for security measures aimed at keeping me alive. I'm not whining. I'm just trying to get my head around what someone referred to as a "new paradigm" when it comes to flying.

Still thinking about Texas...

One of my favorite things about visiting Texas is the Cherry Limeade from Sonic. Is there any beverage more refreshing? Alas, the nearest Sonic is 158 miles away, in Champaign, Illinois. Why no Sonic in Rockford? Come on!!!

Cindy Swanson, CyberSnoop: Can you really remove a tick with liquid soap?

Find out here:

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Thirteen Things about "Copwriter" Mark Mynheir and his "Truth Chasers" Series

"Cop Writer" Mark Mynheir

I had the pleasure of interviewing Mark Mynheir, author of Rolling Thunder and From the Belly of the Dragon. The books combine realistic, fast-paced action scenes, suspense and law enforcement situations with spiritual truth.

Here are 13 interesting things about Mark and his "Truth Chasers" series:

1. Mark is a former US Marine who says a career in law enforcement seemed to be a natural transition from the military.

2. Mark didn't become a Christian until five years into his police career, when he says a health crisis involving his son caused him to reflect on his life and "drove him to his knees."

3. Mark has dealt with learning disabilities such as dyslexia and never thought he would be capable of writing a book.

4. Mark's wife encouraged him to go back to school to help deal with his learning problems and upgrade his education.

5. Mark has been a SWAT team member and worked as a homicide detective and undercover narcotics agent, and is still a working police officer.

6. Mark encourages aspiring writers to go to writer's conferences. He credits the Florida Writer's Conference with helping him find an agent and an editor, and eventually get his books published.

7. Mark's book Rolling Thunder deals with John Russell, who has to deal with the issue of forgiveness while investigating the case of a missing child.

8. Mark got the idea for Rolling Thunder while listening to a Focus on the Family radio show about a man in his 40s who was traumatized by childhood abuse.

9. In From the Belly of the Dragon, the story focuses on John Russell's partner, Tim Porter, and his daughter's involvement in a cult--as well as a case John and Tim are investigating concerning a young man missing from the cult's compound.

10. Mark has written several articles for Focus on the Family's magazine for teen boys, Breakaway.

11. Mark says technology has played a big part in overcoming his learning disabilities: "Using computers and typing have been a tremendous help in compensating for my learning disabilities. I still have to be careful because I will always struggle in this area, and I rely heavily on spell-check, but, hey, I’m writing. That’s all that counts."

12. You can find out more about Mark and his books by going to his website.

13. You can listen to a an approximately one-minute excerpt from my interview with Mark (you may need to click twice):

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A fabulous family reunion

In the photo: the grandchildren of Tommy and Imogene Garrett, minus a few

Back from Texas! And what a wonderful visit it was, and what an awesome family reunion.

The older I get, the more I yearn to reach out and draw closer to my family members. The Garrett Family Reunion was such a fulfillment of that yearning. I was amazed at how much I have in common with my cousins and their families. There really is a strong bond among people who share the same blood lines.

One of the most common traits appears to be musical talent. We had a talent show in which the cousins and cousins' kids showed off their vocal, piano and guitar skills, and it was wonderful. Several times I found myself wiping away tears. The sense of family, and the resemblance of several of my cousins to loved ones who have gone on before, often tugged at my emotions.

We ate together. We sang together. We shopped together. We worshipped together. We even took part in a Garrett Family Trivia Quiz that prompted lots of laughter.

My dear, sweet Aunt Jean was the only representative of the original five Garrett siblings of which my dad was the third. Aunt Billie, who lives in Tennessee, couldn't make it. The other three--my dad Pepper, Uncle Malcolm and Aunt Sandra have all gone one to be with the Lord.

Aunt Sandra passed away recently with a suddenness that left us all in shock. She had been one of the major movers behind the Family Reunion, and one of its biggest supporters. She had so looked forward to it.

However, the family reunion she is experiencing is no doubt more incredibly amazing that we can even begin to imagine.

Sadly, Uncle Malcolm's three kids didn't show up for the reunion, and my brother who is in Iraq just missed it.

Other Texas notes....

Yes indeed, it was HOT. Over 100 some days. I did spend some time in my son's pool.

I got to spend some quality time with my mom, my sister and her family, my brother's family, and my son and daughter-in-law.

I had incredible Tex Mex food at Chuy's and Pappasito's. And no visit to Round Rock, Texas, would be complete without Round Rock Donuts! Oh my goodness.'s good to be back...I think. :)
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