Lighthouse tinkering

Got a few minutes to spare today, so I worked on this pic a bit more.

Ignore the lighting on the house. It’s wrong. Instead, look at the spiffy foam on the ocean. I was trying to do that fishnet pattern that foam always gets, but I couldn’t make it look right. So I started erasing big chunks of it, and it wound up being that messy, foamy look that restless water has when it’s been talking to the rocks.

Also realized my lighthouse was leaning to the right, so I tried to fix that. My lighthouse still looks like it’s some kind of Cake Wreck, but it’s getting there. My architecture skills are sadly lacking. The dragon and guy are going to get some love soon, too.

Kids in the pool

Yesterday, when we went to visit Grandma’s along with the cousins, Grandma had picked up a wading pool.

My three munchkins get to play with my brother’s four kids, so it’s quite a crowd. Also the water was cold.

Introducing the artillery.

Water wars ensued.

My youngest daughter fled the scene. When you can’t walk yet, big kids with water hoses can be very frightening.

Also, my sister have me a spiffy new camera to replace my old broken one. It takes spiffy pictures. I’m still learning how to use it, but I plan to get lots of practice.

Farmhouse chats meme

I haven’t done Patrice’s Farmhouse Chats in a few weeks, so I thought I’d give it a shot today in the new location.

What’s your favorite day of the week? Why?

I like Sundays. I take a day off my various work-related things and just spend time with the kids, or playing games with my husband.

Do you have a blog? Please tell us the name of it and how long you’ve had it.

I’ve had this one for, let’s see, three years now? And the other one just as long, except I’m trying to merge them now. I’ve had my website in general since 1997. It’s taken various forms and had three different webhosts. I’m with Lunarpages now, and they have great service. Plus they’re on the west coast, so my customer service questions get answered in my time zone. Websites are great fun.

What’s the last book you read? If you’re not a reader, please tell us about the last movie you saw.

I’ve been writing reviews of all the books I’ve been reading. The very last one I just read was Around the World in 80 Days, by Jules Verne. But that’s a classic, so, should I bother reviewing it? It was a great read. I haven’t read it in so long that I’d forgotten the ups and downs of Phileas Fogg’s crazy circumnavigation.

(Check out that word! Six syllables, yo!)

Do you ever doodle with a pen or pencil while something else is going on?

Yep. It helps me pay attention. I used to draw for hours while listening to tapes or Mom read out loud.

Tell me about your bathroom towels. What color are they? Do they all match?

Pff, my bathroom towels are a mishmash. We have red ones, white ones, brown ones, green ones, and white ones with blue stripes. At least we never run out of towels. We even have extras for washing the car, or for making emergency bedsheets when somebody throws up in the night. (I learned this last time the flu went through.)

Thanks for the questions, Patrice! I hope we get to visit on your porch next week, too!

The munchkins

I’m merging my family blog into this one. No point in having two blogs and splitting my attention between them!

Anyway, here’s the munchkins.


Sitting at their table, busily building legos.

The archive of Carrolls All Year posts is available here.

The oldest munchkin is totally into Minecraft right now. He and I are debating the best way of building a zoo. He built one in creative mode so he can have a mooshroom. While I, working in survival mode, haven’t a hope of ever finding one in the wild. Just luring an ocelot back to my zoo will be hard enough. 🙂

Book review: The Tide Walker

So far I’ve only reviewed good books. But I suppose I ought to give honest reviews of bad books, too.

I picked this up when it was offered for free on Amazon. There’s a mermaid on the cover. It was listed under Christian fantasy, and it had no reviews. I thought, hey, why not?

It’s about this mermaid who falls in love with a human, but her dad Neptune gets mad and lets out the Leviathan to kill the human. But then the Ancient Man (the renamed Jesus, even though the various angels and Satan aren’t renamed) one-ups Neptune by letting loose the Tide Walker. The Tide Walker is a giant half man half fish like something from Cthulhu.

Oh yes, and all the merfolk are actually aquatic Nephilim.

Cue the headdesk. Headdesk. Headdesk.

But the story would still be interesting if not for the other story that keeps interrupting it. The other story is first person from this guy named Georgie (I keep thinking of him as Georgie Porgie) who apparently was the hero of the previous book. He’s running around harvesting lobsters and dating a girl his mom doesn’t approve of. Oh, and somebody’s been cutting his traps loose. It couldn’t be his childhood friend-turned-rival-who-hates-him-for-inheriting-money, could it?

I can’t bring myself to care about this parallel story, because the world’s not at stake. Also, everything that happens in this story, then happens in the mermaid story. He dates a girl his mom doesn’t like. The mermaid dates a guy her dad doesn’t like! And so on. Page after page of mirror story.

Other gaffes:

The mermaid’s name is Serena. Her sisters are Selena and Sabrina. When they’re all on screen, good luck keeping track of who’s who.

All the animals talk a la Disney. I wouldn’t mind this so much, if the seals didn’t all have various on Selkie, and the dolphins are named things like Dolphine and Adolpho.

The monsters, the Tide Walker and the Leviathan, spend their time eating people’s heads off and mustache-twirling about how they’re going to destroy the world. Except the Leviathan is now the Tide Walker’s whipped housewife. It’s a giant seven-headed hydra, creeping along, doing whatever the Tide Walker says, or the Tide Walker beats it up. It’s like any Saturday morning cartoon, where the two villain stooges yell halfway funny things at each other.

The props. In the underwater city, the merfolk have things like books and silk scarves and silk blankets. I kept trying to figure out how they got them, and how the things held up underwater. Then when the leviathan breathed fire underwater … I’m sorry, the book just lost me because I’m laughing so hard.

The dialogue. Ooooohhh, the dialogue. Let me give you an example.

Mom sighed and said, “Eat your supper, George and we can talk about whenever these new ideas are a little later. You know how much your Father hates to be interrupted when he’s watching the Red Skelton Hour.”


King Jubal smiled a sad sort of smile and replied, “There are times when being the king is a heavy burden, indeed. This is one of them. It will be one of the most difficult tasks I have ever undertaken, but it is my duty and a true king never shirks his duty. His subjects well-being must always come before his own ease. I will leave for Oceanus directly. Perhaps, you can find Shep and bring him along. Somehow having you both with me will make this ordeal seem easier.”

Huge chunks of exposition are packed into every character’s dialogue. Real people don’t talk like that. It made the entire book annoying and hard to read.

The story does have potential, and so do the character conflicts. But the way everything is resolved at the end left me extremely unsatisfied. I kept expecting the storylines to cross over, like have Georgie be out harvesting lobsters and have a mermaid pop out of the ocean for a quick word. Never happened.

Every character gets redeemed at the end, except for two dog-nasty evil types who are counterparts of each other in the parallel stories. But the antagonistic characters all turn out to have hearts of gold. The deus ex machina is actually a physical plot point. I was really disappointed.

Now, all this would be completely acceptable if it was a Little Mermaid fanfic. But this thing is an ebook on sale for ten bucks.


I’m sorry, if I’m going to shell out cash to read something, it’d better a heck of a lot better than this.

Book review: Lucas: Guardian of Truth

Lucas is a lonely kid with a big imagination. Then one day, the things he imagines start coming true. Strange creatures appear and watch him. A dog appears out of a wristwatch. And still his mother doesn’t believe him.

Later on, Lucas is taken to a parallel world where people “imaginate” all kinds of things, from buildings to weapons. But the Mind Master threatens the entire world and has already engulfed most of it in thick, velvety darkness inhabited by monsters. Only the Guardian of Truth can repel the darkness and restore the world to its proper state.

This is a fun, middle-grade read. I was reminded alternately of Ben Ten and The Green Lantern, because of the way the imagined things are explained (hard-light constructs). Lucas and the princess, Sariah, are clearly characterized and fun to follow as they encounter the darkness, monsters, and the Mind Master.

Toward the end, the Christianity gets a bit heavy-handed. I felt that it made the story predictable. But I’m much older than the intended age group. An 11-year old boy would eat this book up and beg for more. It has lasers, dragons, talking pets, and kids who save the day. What’s not to like?

There’s a book trailer on M.R. Anglin’s website, too!

Lighthouse progress

I’ve been working on this in short snippits of time. Here’s how it looks so far:

The lighthouse’s stripes aren’t working for me. I think it’ll have to go pure white. Some of my rocks are too uniform (you can count them, stack of five, stack of five, stack of five). So I need to break those up a bit more. But you can see the values coming up from the deep darks I started with. The darks reinforce the drawing, while the lights carry the color. It’s one of those quotes up there in the widget.

I think the guy and the dragon might be a little too understated. My thought was that the dragon is more of a sea-dragon type, with big fins, and he’s waiting for a fish for his dinner. But maybe I should make him bigger and more European. I don’t know. I like smaller, more approachable dragons.

Lighthouse color blocking

I tinkered with colors and mood for my Kinkade-copycat pic.

Here’s a sort of sky painted in. I changed my mind halfway through, which is why it’s so many colors. Still working on that. The foreground is just all the dark colors that will give structure to the light colors later.

Here’s my main references:

A real lighthouse on the sort of cliff I’m trying to draw. Notice how the rocks are all worn into triangles. That’s why I’ve got so many triangles/pyramids in mine up there.

And here’s the Kinkade:

Lots of trees, a picturesque cottage (nowhere do I find real lighthouses with picturesque cottages attached to them), and a light in every window. One thing I notice with Kinkade’s paintings is his expert use of neutrals. You can’t have light without dark to set it off, right? His darks are very gray to set off the lights.

Of course, that’s also just good color management. So this is a fun exercise for me. I’m having a nice refresher course on painting and color theory. Time to break out Gurney’s Color and Light again …