Mystery solved/1

The mystery of the missing sleep has been solved! Between my neurologist and my psychiatrist, we now know why I have been averaging two hours of sleep a night for several months.

At 55, I was diagnosed with autism and obsessive-compulsive disorder. But it took until I was 69 to diagnose me with bipolar disorder. I am now on valproic acid and doing very well, thank you, if I can learn to stop going to sleep with my face in my chocolate bar. But at least I am GOING TO SLEEP. T has to go wake me up every now and then so I can get my face out of the chocolate, get the chocolate off my face, get the clothes off my back and the nightgown on, and go back to sleep, but I am sleeping again! All I want to know now is, as messed up as my brain is, how in the heck have I accomplished as much as i have accomplished?:

LEGAL NOTICE: To the spammer: You have been reported to the FCC. Every spam you send me is immediately forwarded to the FCC. You are in imminent danger of having your computer confiscated and being forbidden to use the Internet for a period of time varying from six months to permanently, depending on how long you keep this up. As you’ve already been at it for more than a year, you are digging your grave deeper and deeper. Just sayin’. The FCC will make the final determination.

Foi, I am entering that script we wrote about 23 yeas ago in a contest next month. Wish us luck.

Now I’m going back to bed. I hav a lot of sleep to catch up on.

Why Great Literature Comes From the Heart

Today we have a guest post from Sarah Philips of Degree Jungle. Please welcome her!

 I’ve been wondering whether you really need a degree in English to make it as an author. Surely a great book is great because the author has passion and experience rather than just technical ability? One way to find out would be to look at some of the famous classical writers and see what, if anything, they studied at college.

I started off with Hans Christian Andersen, the great Danish writer of fairytales. His unique imagination is what made his stories so successful, so was he also classically trained? He spent his childhood in squalid, crowded conditions in Odense, with a complete lack of privacy, which may have resulted in him finding an escape in his imagination. After losing his father when he was 11, he only went to school occasionally until his mother decided to have him be an apprentice weaver, then later sent him to a tobacco factory. He left home at the age of 14 to seek his fortune.

Charles Dickens grew up in similar poverty when his father was sent to prison for having bad debt.

Working in a factory, Charles experienced terrible conditions. He began his literary career in journalism.

Then I looked at the biography of the playwright George Bernard Shaw. Just before he turned 16, his mother left the family home and he stayed with his father in Dublin, working as a clerk. Later he moved to London to live off his mother and sister, while trying to pursue his career in journalism and writing. He was a voracious reader, a common thread among all the classical authors. But like all the others mentioned so far, he never had any formal training in English.

George Orwell won a scholarship to Eton College for his schooling, but his family could not afford a university education. He joined the Police Force in India and after five years returned to England, to try and make it as a writer.

Agatha Christie taught herself to read by the time she was 5, and was educated by tutors and finishing schools. She and her mother began to travel when her father died, and her writing career did not begin until her sister Madge set her the challenge of writing a novel. It took many years for her to get published. Her love of traveling seems to be more of an inspiration for her long literary career than any schooling she had.

H G Wells was an avid reader at any early age, attending Thomas Morley’s Academy until he could no longer afford to and had to go out and find employment, first as an apprentice draper at 14.

He did win a scholarship to the Normal School of Science in London where he studied not English, but biology and Darwinism. However, he did not complete his degree and eventually lost his scholarship.

Jack Kerouac suffered tragedy in childhood, losing his older brother to rheumatic fever. He enjoyed sport and reading as a child. The family had financial difficulties, and his father turned to alcohol and gambling. Kerouac thought football could be his way to a college scholarship and headed to New York at 17. Here he found a passion for jazz and also began writing, while working as a reporter. After a football injury, he quit the team and college altogether, working various different jobs to make ends meet.

Like many great authors, Kerouac’s life was rich in tragedy and hardship, rather than spent simply studying his craft at college. So it looks like really great authors learn to write because of their passion, life experience, and their attendance at the school of hard knocks.

About the Author:
Sarah Phillips has a degree in English from the University of St Andrews, Scotland. An avid fan of the history of literature, Sarah also loves contributing to education resource websites such as She’s never yet attempted to write a novel, but who knows what the future holds?


I hereby announce that I eschew New Year’s Resolutions. In the past, some I have succeeded in and some I have not. I am 69 years old. I hurt–badly–24/7 and will for the rest of my life. I am writing as much as I can, reviewing as much as I can, and housekeeping as much as I can. My dear cousin, and I mean that sincerely–we shared a crib at times as infants, being only six weeks apart in age, and we would have married each other if our shared genetic heritage hadn’t been so lousy; when we were kids we kept track of which states allowed first cousins to marry–has lately decided to sit on his tail-feathers and do nothing for the rest of his life, because he can no longer go on exploring trips. Good grief. I can’t even go into the back yard without an escort, but I am not sitting on my tail-feathers except literally, because I spend so much time siting at the computer.

One year our church women’s group had a goal of making ourselves more perfect. Always before I had participated in these games. I studied the goals of this one and decided I was already as perfect as I could get. So I did not participate.

This does not mean I am being negative. I am being positive. Yesterday I played hooky from what I am supposed to be writing to do research for a script-writing contest I’m entering later in the year. I asked for help from a county historian in Texas and from the LDS Church History Library. I searched the net myself and downloaded several brief articles and one entire book that directly bore on my theme. I printed the book out and read part of it, and wrote the first page of the script. Today I will be back working on my current project; my next two weeks of work on it are already blocked out and all I have to do is write it.

I am learning to cook things I have never cooked before. I have bought new cooking utensils, such as a stand mixer, which I have never had before. Believe it or not, I had never before two days ago made either waffles or whipped cream from scratch. My husband, who normally gripes about my cooking because he honestly prefers fast food to real food, was in hog heaven with waffles, cherry topping, and whipped cream. He asked for blueberry topping next time, so I bought a can of blueberry pie filling for that. I find that a half-recipe of the King Arthur flour waffle recipe makes enough waffles for two meals for T (my husband) and one meal for me. It takes a long time, too long for me to stand, but T bought me a kitchen stool so I can sit while I work at the counter.

For the last six months I have been making my own caramel corn instead of buying it. I learned to make my own graham crackers. I have been making my own bread for about six months, but I am back to store-bought bread until I finish my current writing project, which is taking a lot of my time and T and I have agreed I won’t discuss it until it’s finished. My next cooking project is pecan pralines, which I love and can’t afford to buy.  I have to order them on eBay to get the kind I like, and the recipe doesn’t sound difficult now that I have bought a decent candy thermometer.

Because I can no longer garden outside, our handyman is turning a brick barbeque grill built into what was once a patio and is now a combined storage room-den-plant room into an improved plant growing area. I used to grow plants there but since I broke my back I have been unable to carry water from the kitchen to the room, which we call “the barn.”. Manny is creating a handmade concrete sink where the grill used to be. He’s running cold water into a faucet with a short hose on it, so that in warm weather I can water the plants on the brick surround directly. Since I will not be using soap or bleach in the sink, Manny can legally run the drain to a hose faucet, and I can hook up a hose to it and use it to water the small outside garden and the fruit trees. In cold weather I will heat the water in the microwave beside the brick  surround, and water the plants with that. The plants in hydroponics have to use distilled water so the pump won’t clog with lime, so I will put one of the kitchen water distillers in the barn. The entire brick surround and the raised ledge behind it will be covered with plants, more food plants than flowers, and a lot of herbs, and a nearby built-in work table will also hold plants. Manny will add a surface going to the inside wall, with one short shelf below it to hold plant pots and one tall shelf below it to hold potting soil, which right now is in the shed that I can’t get at. I already store the fertilizer tablets for the hydroponics in the warming ovens of the built-in grill. They will remain there. So I will have my gardening back. Also, I can now be certain that no idiot will try to start a fire in the grill and set the house on fire. There was already a room there when we bought the house, and the evidence of charred timbers above the grill told the tale. But it was a filthy junk room, and after our handyman got through with it, and my husband decorated it, it turned into a beautiful and useful room which we are proud to take people to. The unusable garage became a storage room which is now insulated and well lit and well accoutered.

We are paying for the materials, and Manny owes us some money which he will repay with labor. We will pay for the rest of the labor by paying for his citizenship application. We do so want him to be a citizen. He is hardworking, diligent, and very inventive–just the kind of new citizen our country needs. We love him like a brother. He originally as a teenager came into the country illegally, but in his twenties he got smart, realized how many opportunities he was having to pass up because of his illegal status, and returned to Mexico until he could come here legally. The day we hired him he insisted on showing me his green card. As he is an entrepreneur working for many people, we pay him and he takes care of his own taxes and  Social Security. But if he worked exclusively for us we would pay him properly. We do not believe in paying under the table or underpaying. The Bible says that the workman (or workwoman, in the case of our occasional maid who comes to do the housework I physically cannot do) is worthy of his hire. We are careful who we hire to work in our home; and we do not hire anybody we do not feel safe issuing a house key to. He is in his forties now, and as strong as an ox despite gout.

Our occasional maid is extremely intelligent and diligent, and we have put them both on Angie’s List. She comes in occasionally to change my bed; she does not charge us for that, because she believes it is her Christian duty. When she comes to work for several hours she  tells us what we owe her, and we do not ask questions. T just writes the check.

Our food storage is going well; we had given away almost all of what we had, to people who REALLY wanted to work for food, and to earthquake victims in a small town that was being ignored because of the needs of the larger town nearby. We’re building it back up again.

I’m going to plant a few things outside, like tomatoes and peppers and cucumbers, and go out with my walker to tend them. I might even manage to make some pickles this year, as I prefer my own mustard pickle recipe to any mustard pickle I can buy. I’ll have to do it when my husband is home, and take my cell phone with me so he can come get me up when I fall, as I do regularly.

After I finish the writing project I am on now, and my entry for the contest, I’ll be working on  my trilogy based on Luke 8:1-3. I have all the research materials for it.

So I continue to work as hard as I am physically capable of doing. I continue to do new things and learn new things. But I am never again going to make a New Year’s Resolution. I’m just going to go on as I normally have done all my life anyway: when I decide to do something I will do it then. I won’t wait until January 1 to start doing it.

Retribution (The Lost Souls #1) by Amy Thompson Cover Real!

One curse, one exception, one chance at redemption.

Regan Edison has just moved from California, to enter her first year at Georgia State. Jacked up Chevy trucks and hunting were a way of life in Georgia. On the evening of her first day of school, Regan was walking back to her dorm when she was viciously attacked by three men. Regan was convinced she was going to die that night.

Colter Hayes is a member of the Collectors and the first wrongfully punished soul. Colter and the rest of his team, Finn, Kaiden and Devon, work for the Requiem Council whose job it is to pass judgment onto souls and reincarnate them so that the souls may fix past indiscretions.

Agro, an ex-councilman, and his soulless Exiles have other plans. Agro steals souls and hands down his own type of judgment, retribution. He punished those members of the Collectors and has now set his sights on Regan.

The Requiem Council dispatches the Collectors to Georgia to work as protectors for Regan. The Collectors must fight to keep Regan safe from Agro and work to earn back their chance at redemption, but when Colter meets Regan his world changes.

Everything he thought he knew about his curse is turned upside down and Regan seems to be the cause.

Can the Collectors find out why Regan is being targeted in time to save her from a fate they know all too well? And is Colter’s curse as final as he thought or will Regan prove to be his exception?

And now for the cover reveal!Image

About Amy Thompson

Amy Thompson graduated from Randolph-Macon College with her B.S. in Biology. She currently works as a high school teacher and is earning her M.S. in Higher Education from Drexel University. Amy is a first time, self-published author of Retribution, a mature young adult paranormal romance novel that is the first in the Lost Souls series. She lives in southern Virginia with her family and two lazy cats. Amy Thompson is currently working on the next book in the Lost Souls series and continues to be an avid reader of young adult books.

The End of the 50-pound Book Bag?

I just got some wonderful news. College textbook publisher Pearson just bought a share in Nook for $48.5 million. This means they will be publishing their textbooks on Nook. They lost market share last year, while Penguin, which already put its textbooks on ebook, gained market share.

When I was teaching and working on my doctorate, I landed in my doctor’s office about once a month for a shoulder injection for tendinitis from carrrying my 48-pound (literally–they weighted it) book bag. If I were still teaching today, I would not assign a book unless it was available in e-format, and all coursework would be required to be emailed to me and I would email it back to the student.

With today’s technology, there is NO REASON AT ALL to cripple students with overweight book bags. I want this trend to continue.

I have been a Kindle user since Kindle came out; before that, I used pioneering ebook readers no longer available. I bought a Nook HD+ about a month ago, and I am delighted with it. I still use my Kindles to read in bed, but they freeze about three times per book and have to be restarted at a cost of about five minutes. My Nook, which I usually read at my desk, has NEVER frozen.

My oldest daughter bought a Nook first and was dissatisfied and bought a Kindle. She and I, both book reviewers, agree that nowadays you really need a Kindle and a Nook both if you are a serious reader.

I look forward to the day when no student will be crippled by overweight book bags.

The Scottish Sikh

We have a guest post this morning, from my husband, Thomas Russell Wingate. He came across this information on New Year’s Eve and spent hours looking up more info and writing this blog entry.


31 December 2012  


I was inspecting YouTube’s offerings about Burns and came across a retired Sikh businessman enamored of all things Scottish. He commissioned a translation of the major works of Burns into Punjabi. He effervesces on camera when discussing Burns.

Sirdar Iqbal Singh is of interest here because he has done something no one else thought to do: he purchased an island in the Outer Hebrides and named it Robert Burns Island.

I delved into Wikipedia to find out more. I cannot learn whether the name change is official as far as the British government is concerned. Iqbal Singh talks compellingly about the worldwide importance of Burns and the fittingness of an island, a real place, named for the poet.

The island itself is 41 hectares in size.You could could set Temple Square upon it ten times. The island’s highest point is 34 meters above the Atlantic.

The official name is (or was) Vacsay. Its name is from Old Norse meaning “peat bank island.” It is off the west coast of Lewis in West Loch Roag.

Vacsay has been uninhabited since the Highland Clearances in 1827. In 1993 Iqbal Singh bought it and began his campaign to rename it.

Its “most correct” Scottish name would be Eilean Burns.

Wikipedia: “The island is Lewisian gneiss. Vacsay has an extremely complicated coastline, and is connected at low tide to several surrounding islets such as Trathasam and Liacam. It [Vacsay] is between the islands of Vuia Mor and Pabay Mor and is off Great Bernera.”

So much for the island. Let us now consider the colorful character, Iqbal Singh.

He was born in Lahore, former capital of the Sikh Kingdom of Punjab, and came to England in 1959 to pursue medical studies. He disentangled himself and ended up in real estate development. He prospered. He fit into London’s gentry.

He acquired the title Lord of Butley Manor by acquiring an estate that had once belonged to Henry VIII. (This is normal in England.)

The titles “Baron” and “Lord” embarrass him (a bit).

He keeps it unclear—and here Wikipedia is helpful and confusing—as to whether Sirdar is a given name or an hereditary title. (Many Sikhs are called Sirdars by outsiders; many Sikhs name their sons Sirdar.)

It is the same the world over: if something sounds good, it is thought to be good—but don’t ask many questions.

Maybe Iqbal Singh himself doesn’t know.

The Sikhs are a superior people—as De Gaulle said of the Jews, un people d’élite, dominateur et sûr de lui-même.

A Sikh Canadian lawyer who wrote an article for the Toronto Tribune calls him “the Sirdar.”

In 1986 Iqbal Singh, seeking a retirement home, acquired a castle in Lanarkshire. Its interior isVictorian. The nearest village is Lesmahagow (“abbey green”).

Iqbal Singh does things in a grand way.

For one thing, he has a strong-willed Swiss wife. This was undoubtedly a wise selection.

He wears a turban. No word as to whether Lady Gertrude Singh is a Sikh. If she had become one, methinks we would have heard of it.

He made sure the Scots would like him. He contributes to all manner of causes.

Around Christmas 1994, when floods displaced pensioners in Paisley, he invited the homeless into his home.

When he saw that Sikh schoolchildren in a nearby school were not wearing tartans like the other kids, he commissioned Lockcarron to design a new tartan. In 1999, the Scottish Tartans Authority officially recognized the Singh Tartan.  All the Sikh kids now have them. (All Sikhs are surnamed Singh, meaning “lion”; Singapore is the Lion City.)

While he was at it, he commissioned a family crest for himself. (My sources say nothing of any offspring he may have.)

Everyone else remarks on his modesty, and Lady Gertrude’s. I remark instead on his upward mobility and his concern for symbolic capital—self-invented if need be. He is shrewdly linking himself to Scottish cachet and distancing himself from his culture of origin. He would be well aware of the poet’s radical politics.

It happens that Lanarkshire is adjacent to Ayrshire.

He is leading a campaign to rename Glasgow Prestwick Airport, a few kilometers north of Ayr, Burns International Airport. “If New York has the Kennedy Airport, Paris the De Gaulle, it’s only appropriate that ours be the Burns.”

Bravo! Burns never set foot in the Outer Hebrides, and the island has no hope of attracting tourists.

I am sure I would like this couple if I were to meet them. I already respect them.

Another Way to Get Free Books

If you’re like most of us, you’re always on the lookout for sources of good books. Last night I read four Christian romances in a row. Two of them I cried over; one was so funny I was laughing out loud with tears running down my face, and I was afraid my husband, in another room, would hear me, think I was crying, and come running to comfort me.

Anyway, if you go to you will find another way of earning free books from an outstanding Christian publishing house. You may find yourself buying more books than you get free. I joined them about a month ago, and am extremelysatisfied. They publish Bibles and other Christian material including fiction, and everything is well-written and well-edited. Give them a visit.

If you use the code when you sign up, you’ll start off with 25 points. That’s a good deal too.