The Francine Mystery

No one knows where Francine Cha came from.

Francine offers no clues to her past, and evades all questions about it.

Young Fancine

Francine Cha

A persistent rumor says that Francine Cha was adopted as a teenager by Patty Holmes and Martha Unger, and that she grew up in a house in Newcrest. Francine was single until, after a single date (her first date ever), she married their next door neighbor, Frank Redding – so says the rumor.


Patty Holmes, despite outliving Martha, and at least two other spouses, cannot be found. No one knows what became of Frank Redding. The Grim Reaper has a strict code of confidentiality, so death can be neither confirmed nor discounted. The house that Francine Cha allegedly grew up in does not exist.

If the rumor is to believed, Francine Cha seems to have simply disappeared around the same time as Patty Holmes and Frank Redding.

Francine and Frank

Francine and Frank

Years later, a teenager named Aquarius Burke answered a “Roommate Wanted” ad, and moved into a tiny San Myshuno apartment with a teenager named Francine Cha. Having never heard the Newcrest rumor, Aquarius found nothing odd in the existence of this young Francine.

Aquarius and Francine

Aquarius and Francine


Their first apartment

Aquarius’ parents had heard the rumor, however, and were concerned enough for their son’s safety, that they launched a police investigation into the background of Francine Cha.


The police later released an official statement: “Ms Cha’s evasiveness is concerning, but we have been unable to find conclusive evidence of wrongdoing. We have found evidence that a Ms Holmes and a Mr. Redding did, in fact, exist at some point. As we are all well aware, it is not unheard of for sims, or entire buildings, to disappear without explanation. It just happens. As expected, The Grim Reaper has not returned our calls regarding this investigation. We have uncovered screenshots which suggest that a house, matching the description of the rumor, did exist in Newcrest, and that a sim matching the description of the subject of this investigation lived there. That sim, however, was an elder at the time of what we’re calling ‘The Newcrest Incident’. We can therefore conclude that we have been investigating two different sims.”

The police report contained an addendum which stated that Francine Cha (Aquarius Burke’s roommate) is good friends with a sim named Daryl Robards, and are frequently seen in public together. Daryl, coincidentally (or not), is also rumored to have disappeared at the time of The Newcrest Incident.

Francine and Daryl

Daryl and Francine

Francine Cha and Aquarius Burke were both socially awkward loners. They existed well enough together as roommates in their cramped apartment. Then, after a short romance, and a date or two, Francine and Aquarius surprised everyone by getting married. They moved to a bigger apartment and raised a family.



Francine Cha outlived Aquarius. She outlived their three children. She has, so far, outlived two of her following three spouses.


Sims once wondered if Patty Holmes was going to live forever. That made her disappearance so much more mysterious. It now appears as if Francine Cha is going to live forever.

There are those who still believe that that the elder named Francine Cha who disappeared in Newcrest and the teenager named Francine Cha who appeared in San Myshuno are the same sim. No one has come up with a plausible explanation for the age reversal, however. There is a fringe theory out there that Patty’s and Francine’s longevity are somehow linked.

Patty and Francine

Patty and Francine

Francine Cha is the only sim who knows the truth.

Old Francine

Francine Cha

Sims And A Submarine

At work today, I listened to a just-published video from The Sims VIP. The video detailed a new patch for The Sims 4, just released today.

Later in the afternoon, Phillip sent me a text message. He and a coworker were going to see the movie Thor: Ragnarok after work. (Phillip knows I’m feeling a little burned out on super hero movies.)

I decided to take the bus home. I got to 4th & Pike just as a 47 was leaving. So I caught an 11 a couple of minutes later and walked home from Olive Way.

As soon as I got home, I booted up the computer and started that patch going. It was going to be a three-hour download, at least.

So, while the download was going, I completed my Yellow Submarine Lego build. And I did some reading.

The new patch for The Sims 4 is related somewhat to the new Dogs & Cats DLC, just a few days away. I’m excited about it.

My Extended Family

Mary and Henry Burke were already married when they moved into a house in Willow Creek. Mary was a scientist. Henry was a painter.


Mary and Henry

Mary and Henry have one child: a son named Aquarius Burke.


young Aquarius Burke

Mary and Henry have retired to a home in the Countryside neighborhood of Windenburg. They have both died, and have chosen to spend eternity as ghosts. They spend their retirement pay on camping trips to Granite Falls.

Henry and Mary

When he was old enough to move out, Aquarius answered a “roommate wanted” ad placed by a woman named Francine Cha. He moved into Francine’s cramped, rundown apartment in the Fashion District of San Myshuno. Aquarius and Francine were both loners. Aquarius was socially awkward. They were uncomfortable roommates.

Francine and Aquarius

Francine and Aquarius

Francine Cha has remained close to her longtime friend, Daryl Robards. They both feel as if they’d known each other in a previous life. Francine feels some romantic attraction toward Daryl, but understands that he prefers men. Daryl is now a vampire. He’s almost always asleep when Francine comes to visit.

Daryl and Francine

Daryl and Francine

Somehow, despite the awkwardness, Aquarius Burke and Francine Cha fell in love, married, and raised a family. As their family grew, they moved into larger and larger apartments in San Mayshuno, finally settling into a three-bedroom apartment in the Arts Quarter.

Aquarius Francine and family

Francine and Aquarius have three children. Their eldest, Lily Cha-Burke, married Rita Somberg, from Oasis Springs. They’ve moved in with Francine, in San Myshuno, thinking that Francine is in her last days. They have two children.

Lily and Rita

Lily (on the right) and Rita

Lily and Rita’s older daughter, Rylie Cha-Somberg, recently became a young adult and moved into a cheap San Myshuno apartment across the hall from her parents. Rylie is pursuing a career in law enforcement.


Rylie Cha-Somberg

Lily and Rita’s younger daughter, Reece Cha-Somberg, is still a child. Reece enjoys visiting her ghost great-grandparents in Windenburg. She gets excellent grades in school.


Reece Cha-Somberg

Aquarius and Francine’s second child, Spencer Burke-Cha, married his childhood sweetheart, Cassandra Goth.  They’ve moved into a modest two-bedroom house in Willow Creek. They’ve decided to not have children. They use the space bedroom as a music studio.

Spencer and Cassandra

Spencer and Cassandra

Aquarius and Francine’s third child, Chris Cha-Burke, married Wendy Ashby. They met at GeekCon. Chris and Wendy share the three-bedroom apartment with Lily, Rita, Reece, and Francine.

Chris and Wendy

Chris and Wendy

Wendy and Chris have one child, a daughter named Annie Ashby-Burke. Annie is a toddler. She is fiercely independent.


Annie Ashby-Burke

Francine Cha outlived Aquarius Burke.

Aquarius dies

After Aquarius passed away, Francine married a painter named Sam Moore.

Sam and Francine

Sam and Francine

Francine outlived Sam, too.

Sam Dies

Francine Cha currently has a new boyfriend, a much younger man named Karim Al Habib.

Francine and Karim

Francine and Karim

Francine also has a girlfriend, named Cheyanne Greenwood. Cheyanne wants to move in with Francine, and settle down. Francine doesn’t want to give up her relationship with Karim.

Francine and Cheyanne

Francine and Cheyanne

Cheyanne is also much younger than Francine. Then again, just about everyone is younger than Francine.

It seems like Francine Cha is going to live forever.

I am rather enjoying this new method of playing The Sims 4, following just one multi-generational family.




The Sims 4 Continues To Be A Buggy Game

Stuff is disappearing from our game again, and this time no one can blame it on mods or custom content. This is why I’m cautious, this go-around, about building things I might get attached to, and limiting the number of families I play. (The more I add, the more I can lose.)

This time, it’s the pool at The Bluffs. This time, unlike the time South Square Coffee disappeared, I haven’t been able to find a replacement in the gallery.

That pool was one of my favorite community lots.

Bluffs Pool before


I suppose I should rebuild it. It won’t be the same, but it’ll be better than a big empty lot.

Bluffs Pool after


Update: I took a second look at the gallery, tried a different search, and there was a replacement in there. The pool is back.

Why are players recreating the game’s pre-built lots and uploading them to the community gallery? Are we not the only ones with disappearing lots?

Waiting For Mary


The ghost of Henry Burke continued to cruise the bars and museums, hoping for a chance encounter with his ghost wife, Mary Burke. She had vanished from his life when she died, just as he had vanished from her life when he died, long ago. He understood how it was in the afterlife: Sometimes a ghost needs some time alone. Sometimes a ghost dies on a community lot, and the transition is so overwhelming that they become lost, and can’t find their way back home. In the bars, Henry met several women, and a few men, willing to start a romantic relationship with him. It didn’t matter. He was waiting for Mary. Owing to the quirks of the afterlife, a ghost can’t be contacted directly. (A ghost can call you, but you can’t call a ghost. No one knows why.) All he could do was wait for her. Someday, Mary will call him, when she’s ready to return, just as he had called her, so long ago.


Henry’s son, Aquarius, and daughter-in-law, Francine, worried about Henry. Even the dead should live a healthy life, they told him. They urged him to come out of retirement, return to a professional painter career – maybe even become a ghost cop. Henry remained in retirement, however. He wanted to be available when Mary called. His grandchildren visited him often. Lilly and her girlfriend, Rita, moved in with Henry for a while, until they were both old enough to move into their own apartment in the city. They didn’t want their ghost grandfather to be so alone.


Then, one day, it happened. Henry’s phone rang, and it was Mary. She invited him to the Humor and Hijinks Festival. They spent the whole time together, ignoring everyone else, and ignoring the whole festival. They talked, laughed, flirted, kissed, and bantered like old friends do. And yet, even though their friendship and romance levels were at their maximums, Mary didn’t seem ready to come back home. Henry didn’t know why, but he understood the concept. These things take time, and Henry had all the time in the world. They were ghosts, after all. The festival ended, and they went their separate ways. Henry was heartbroken, but at least he knew that Mary was still around.


Weeks later, it was Ghost Night at the Old Quarter Inn. The ghost of Henry was there, enjoying a discounted drink, and ducking the advances of Jade Rosa, when the ghost of Mary glided through the door. He asked her, once again, to rejoin the household, and she said yes.


Mary Burke has returned home. Their house in the Windenburg countryside is pretty much as she remembered it. There’s a new basketball hoop, and Henry has built a swimming pool. Henry’s garden is slightly larger. Aquarius’ old bedroom, which was converted to a craft room when he left home to move in with Francine, now looks as if two teenage girls had been living there. But, overall, it seems to Mary, Henry has kept the place just as she left it. Her science lab in the basement is still there.

Henry and Mary Burke will continue to live the lives of retired ghosts, taking camping trips to Granite Falls whenever they like. They’ll remain together in Windenburg until the end of time (which, since this is The Sims 4, could happen at any time).

The Sims 4 Is A Weird Game, Part 2

Stuff in The Sims 4 costs your Sims money. Except for clothes. Clothes are free. Sims don’t have to pay for clothes, or even shop for them. They just open a dresser and all the clothes that exist in the world are in there. A Sim in a cheap apartment with an entry-level job has the same clothing options as a millionaire Sim in a mansion. It’s weird.


I got this suit for free!

In The Sims 2, a Sim has to go shopping to buy more clothes. Different types of clothes have different prices, but all clothes pretty much cost the same. But, at least, clothes cost something. The more money a Sim has, the more clothes they can buy, and the more clothing options they can have. I miss the clothes stores in The Sims 2.

(I have never played The Sims or The Sims 3, so I can compare only the even-numbered Sims games.)

I think it’s awesome that, in The Sims 4, a Sim can have up to five outfits for each clothing category. But I think it’s weird that a Sim can change their clothes anywhere – even in the middle of a public park. (In The Sims 2, you need to have access to a dresser, closet, or changing booth in order to change clothes.)

I’m not complaining about either game. I’m just noting how weird a game simulation can be.

I also miss the grocery stores in The Sims 2. A Sim’s refrigerator will run out of food, and that Sim will either have to visit a grocery store, order a grocery delivery, order a pizza delivery, or starve. Groceries cost money, and the cost is based on the amount of groceries bought – measured as a percentage of a sliding scale. It’s a simplified simulation, but it makes sense.


Grocery shopping in The Sims 2

In The Sims 4, things get weird. Food cost is charged each time a Sim cooks something – and it’s the refrigerator that charges them. Want to make four bowls of chili? Open the refrigerator door, take out the ingredients, and money is automatically deducted from the household account. A refrigerator never runs out of food – leftovers can spoil, and need to be thrown out, but you’ll always be able to make dinner. (It’s like the refrigerator is some sort of food replicator, connected to your bank account.)


Magic milk!

There is free food available in The Sims 4 – sort of. Catching fish from a lake or stream is free, but cooking a fish usually costs money, since it involves a refrigerator. A Sim can grow their own food for free, but seeds cost a few simoleans. There are community gardens, and harvesting food there is free. Plants harvested from a community garden can be planted at home to grow more free food.

We have the City Living pack, and I like all the new things it offers. There are even fruit and vegetable carts that show up from time to time. It’s the closest thing, so far, that The Sims 4 has to a grocery store.


Grocery shopping in The Sims 4

The Sims 4 Is A Weird Game, Part 1

Ghosts in The Sims 4 are weird.


There are five things that make a ghost Sim different from a living Sim: Ghosts are semi-transparent, they change color according to their emotion, they can pass though walls (but often opt to use a door), they can briefly possess objects, and they don’t age.

Aside from those five differences, a ghost Sim is just like a living Sim. They get hungry, they have to go to the bathroom, they get sick occasionally, and they get sleepy. A ghost Sim can have a job, or collect retirement pay. They can go to a pub and have a drink or a bowl of chips. They can go on a date with a living Sim, along with everything that that involves. They can paint a painting and sell it to a collector. They can grow a garden. Since they don’t age, they can do all of these things forever.


Two of my current Sims, Henry and Mary Burke, retired to a nice house in the countryside of Windenburg. Their son, Aquarius, and his family moved to an apartment in the busy city of San Myshuno. Phillip, meanwhile, was playing his Sim, Darryl.

One day, I returned to playing Mary and Henry, and discovered that Henry had died. I was sad and disappointed that one of my Sims had died while we were playing other Sims. (I can’t decide if this is an improvement, or not, over The Sims 2, where time stops in unplayed households, and a Sim can grow up, leave home to start their own family, and become older than their parents, who are stuck in time until I play them again.)

What was worse than Henry’s passing was that he disappeared. He was a gray icon on Mary’s family tree, but his tombstone, or urn, was nowhere to be found. I had lost a Sim. (In the earlier game, before half of our content, including Phillip’s amazing Romani House, vanished, and Origin ignored my service tickets, and we swore we’d never play The Sims 4 again, and I had households scattered throughout every neighborhood, I had built a graveyard to place the tombstones in. Now that I’m playing just one, extended, family, and Phillip has turned Darryl into a vampire, there don’t seem much point in building a graveyard.)

So, Mary Burke was all alone in the countryside house, without even a tombstone to mourn over. Then, one day, Mary received a phone call. It was the ghost of Henry, calling to invite Mary out to lunch. Over lunch, I discovered that Henry’s ghost had a social interaction option that said, “Invite into household”. The ghost of Henry accepted Mary’s invitation, and moved back into the countryside house.


Although Mary and Henry Burke had once been the same age, Mary continued to live longer than Henry had. They continued to exist happily together in the country. Oddly, they were no longer married. (Or, maybe, it’s not so odd. ’til death do you part, perhaps.) I suppose it’s possible that they could get married again, but I didn’t try. They were happy as they were.

Henry Burke was the first ghost Sim I had ever played – in either The Sims 2 or The Sims 4.

Then, one day, I returned to the Burkes’ countryside house, and Henry was alone. Mary had died and disappeared, just as Henry had earlier. And, again, there was no tombstone, or urn, to be found.

Knowing that it’s possible to invite a ghost into a household, I’ve been trying to find a way for Henry to contact Mary. She’s on his list of acquaintances, but no interaction menu appears when I click on her icon. She doesn’t appear as an option when Henry uses the phone to call someone.

So now, the ghost of Henry Burke roams the neighborhoods, parks, nightclubs, and festivals, hoping for a chance encounter with his lost love. Maybe someday, he will receive an invitation to lunch. Maybe someday soon, The Shrieking Llama will host another Ghost Night and Mary will be there.