Saturday, September 29, 2007

Tropical Storm Melissa

Melissa is in the Atlantic and isn't expected to be a threat to land.  Karen continues to weaken, but still may re-strenghten.  (Its remnants anyway.)

Update: 10-1-07: Melissa is pretty much gone, but Karen still may re-strengthen.  


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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Hurricane Lorenzo

Hurricane Lorenzo (category 1) should make landfall in Mexico by morning.  Tropical Storm Karen is weakening (wind shear), but should strengthen in a few days and possibly head for the east coast.

Update: 9-28-07: Lorenzo is now a tropical depression, and Karen has weakened further and may be fizzling out.  And there's another tropical wave coming off Africa--TD#14, which is also being affected by wind shear.  Btw, a weatherman said that the time for storm development from waves coming from Africa is pretty much over; now most storms will develope in the Carribean.

Ideas for garden rooms

I recently came across a book, Garden Rooms: Create and Decorate Outdoor Garden Spaces (Time-Life; 1999), by Catriona Tudor Erler.  It has some great ideas and lovely photos.  I especially loved the big pots and sundial on columns. (The sundial is actually on the capitol of a column.  I have a sundial on an old birdbath base; and I use old birdbath bases laid on their sides for interest in the beds.) 

Garden rooms or patios can have floors made of brick, gravel, concrete, stone, tile, etc.  (I have a brick patio and a stone patio laid on concrete.  Sometimes I wish I'd left the concrete plain; it would be more level, but we'd collected a lot of beautiful stones.)  There's also wood decking, which I avoid because of maintenance.  You can use composite materials instead, but I've learned that they can melt if you drop something from the grill on them.  You can make garden paths from those materials too, also mulch, though that will have to be replenished, and it's uneven.  

Water features are lovely and soothing--except for the maintenance and predators eating your fish.  The book has a number of ponds, including big pots, and, of course, fountains.  I loved the horizontal millstone covered with moss.  That's one I hadn't seen before.  There's also an vertical millstone that's setting inside something or else they've sawed off its bottom, which would be a shame.  The horizontal millstone is much prettier as a fountain. 

The book includes garden structures (I love Thomas Jefferson's pavilion on the edge of a terrace) and lighting.  There are types of lights and lighting of plants: uplighting, moonlighting (downlighting), shadowing (light in front), and silhouetting (light behind a plant).  You need simple, open plants or trees for this to be effective.  

The author also looks at birdbaths (I have one that's a recreation of a dinosaur footprint, btw; I got it at Historic Bok Sanctuary) and topiary.  I love the example of the fox hunt scene from Ladew Topiary Gardens in Monkton, Maryland.

I really enjoyed this book; it has references and an index at the end, which is alway helpful.  (I wouldn't have had to look through the whole book again to find that sundial if I'd known that!)  

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Clearing out kitchen clutter

I picked up some good tips for cleaning and organizing your kitchen at a Kohler website (from their e-newsletter); their ideas include getting rid of non-essential gadgets; moving dishes, utensils, etc. to the most efficient location; installing hooks and racks; putting take out menus in a folder (I really needed that one.); and thinking about a refrigerator that's easy to organize.  For more, visit: KOHLER: Planning Tips: Conquer Kitchen Clutter: Kitchen: Articles

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tropical Storm Karen

TS Karen is in the Atlantic heading north and will probably not be a threat to us.  Tropical Depression #13, which just formed, is in the Gulf and heading southwest.  It will probably become Tropical Storm Lorenzo.  See previous post for earlier bulletins on these.  You'll notice that it's hard to predict these storms.  (September is one of our busiest months.) 

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Subtropical Storm Jerry

Well, the system in the Gulf did not become Jerry, which is in the Atlantic, but it may become Karen.  And there are two tropical waves coming off Africa.  One will probably move away from us, and one is headed for the Carribean.

Update: 9-24-07: Jerry became a tropical storm (I must have blinked), and now it's a tropical depression.  The two tropical waves may become tropical depressions in a few days (the one closest to Africa is the strongest); and there's something in the Gulf that may become a tropical depression.

Bulletins:

“?”  A BROAD AREA OF LOW PRESSURE LOCATED JUST NORTH OF THE NORTHERN COAST OF THE NORTHERN YUCATAN PENINSULA IS PRODUCING A LARGE AREA OF SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS EXTENDING FROM THE NORTHWESTERN CARIBBEAN SEA INTO THE SOUTHERN AND CENTRAL GULF OF MEXICO. THIS SYSTEM HAS NOT BECOME BETTER ORGANIZED THIS MORNING. HOWEVER THERE IS A POTENTIAL FOR DEVELOPMENT IN THE AREA...AND AN AIR FORCE RESERVE RECONNAISSANCE AIRCRAFT IS ON STANDBY TO INVESTIGATE THIS SYSTEM LATER TODAY...IF NECESSARY.

 

“K”  A BROAD AREA OF LOW PRESSURE ASSOCIATED WITH A WESTWARD-MOVING TROPICAL WAVE IS LOCATED ABOUT 350 MILES EAST OF THE WINDWARD ISLANDS. THIS SYSTEM CONTINUES TO SHOW EVIDENCE OF ORGANIZATION... AND IT COULD DEVELOP INTO A TROPICAL DEPRESSION DURING THE NEXT DAY OR SO AS IT APPROACHES THE WINDWARD ISLANDS.

 

“L”  AN AREA OF LOW PRESSURE ASSOCIATED WITH A TROPICAL WAVE IS LOCATED ABOUT 675 MILES SOUTH-SOUTHWEST OF THE CAPE VERDE ISLANDS. THIS SYSTEM IS GRADUALLY BECOMING BETTER ORGANIZED...AND CONDITIONS APPEAR FAVORABLE FOR IT TO BECOME A TROPICAL DEPRESSION DURING THE NEXT DAY OR TWO AS IT MOVES WESTWARD AT ABOUT 15 MPH. ELSEWHERE...

(Thanks, Lloyd, for the bulletins!)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Tropical Depression#10

TD#10 never got a name, and now it's made landfall.  Here's a link to possible future paths: http://www.sfwmd.gov/org/omd/ops/weather/plots/storm_93.gif

I believe it made landfall in the Florida panhandle.  I got over a half inch of rain from one of its rotating rain bands when it was going over Florida.  Now I've got rain coming from what might be the next storm system; and that could become Jerry.

(Thanks, Lloyd, for the link and other info!)

 

Publication news

The two Magistria shared world anthologies--Realm of the Sorcerer (new edition) and Shards of the Goddess--have been delayed, but should be out by the end of the year.  Follow the adventures of my plant mages!
 
Here's an excerpt from a review of Why Won't Anyone Play with Me?:
 
"This story, with its animal characters, is especially appealing to younger children. Parents would like this story as it deals with a young one who is having difficulty understanding the need to play gently with smaller creatures. Why Won’t Anyone Play With Me? would be a great story for children with smaller siblings, especially for those who, like many, have a tendency to play too rough."

Link: Why Won’t Anyone Play With Me? .: BookPleasures.com

Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook is #5 on this Barnes & Noble list: Barnes & Noble.com: Books / Home & Garden / House & Home / Home - Do-It-Yourself / Architecture, Domestic->Amateurs' manuals

My audiobook, Sugar Time, is featured on the Hadrosaur Productions website: Hadrosaur Productions

Btw, I see that there are copies of The Ghost in the Gazebo (anthology) on the Barnes & Noble website.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Kitchen islands

Kitchens are getting bigger, and now more thant 50% of homes in the U.S. have kitchen islands, according to a survey from the National Kitchen & Bath Association (article in the October issue of Home).  Large kitchens may even have multiple islands--fixed or movable.  You can coordinate the bases with your cabinets and have the islands match or have completely different tops, such as butcher block, granite, engineered stone, etc.  You can vary the heights too; and they're great for workspace and storage, including wine chillers and cold and warming drawers.  Btw, no island should be more than 4 feet wide, and there should be at least 42 inches between the island and anything else. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Be careful when making plans

Before you embark on a house or landscaping project, think about it!  Do your research.  In the October 2007 issue of Home, the editorial tells about someone who had a flagstone patio installed (the pavers were cemented in), but it was on top of the septic tank opening.  Oh, oh!  That reminds me of when we put in the patio behind our mother's house.  I planned to have it set well away from the house except for the path to the back door, but when I checked on it later, the forms went right up to the house!  Yikes!  I knew the concrete truck was on its way, and I really, really didn't want to tell the crew to redo it, but I had the future to think of, so I girded up my loins and asked them to change it.  And they did--in time too.  You really can't assume that the workmen know what is in your mind.
 
And I saw a bathroom countertop in the letter column.  That beautiful Riverstone material (made from Carrara marble pebbles embedded in a polyester resin matrix) has to be sealed with a marble sealant that penetrates the subsurface.  Then you must keep it free of acidic and staining substances; wipe up any water immediately; clean it only with a pH-neutral product; and occasionally buff it with marble wax.  (See the editor's answer for the fine print.)  [I almost always choose a low-maintenance product.]
 
Kitchen cabinets & countertops link from HGTVPro.com: Cabinets & Countertops : HGTVPro.com

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Ideas for a "green" landscape

Here are a few tips from Maria Rodale's Organic Gardening-- excerpted from a Country Living (January 1999 issue) sidebar:

Think long term.  It shouldn't be 10 to 20 years, as is common in the US, but a hundred to a thousand years, as in Europe.

Think low maintenance.  Edge, mulch, and avoid constant pruning.  [And stop pollarding trees that don't need to be pruned into popsicles!]

Think natural.  What's the impact on the environment?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Hot chocolate

There's a fascinating article on the history of chocolate in the Christmas issue of Early American Life.  It started in the New World (the Mayans and Aztecs drank it cold with chile peppers), but made its way to America via Spain and Europe; and chocolate was an important part of soldiers' rations in the Revolutionary War.  There's also an article on chocolate pots (you can usually tell the difference between coffee pots and chocolate pots by the hole in the lid of the latter) and chocolate recipes.  Check out this website: American Heritage Chocolate

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Tropical Storm Ingrid

Tropical Storm Ingrid has been slowed down by wind shear, and it may become a tropical depression again.

Update: 9-15-07: Ingrid is now a tropical depression.

Update: 9-16-07: Ingrid may become a tropical storm again Thursday or Friday.


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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Tropical Storm Humberto

Humberto also seems to have skipped the TD step, and Tropical Depression 8 will become Ingrid.  Humberto is heading towards an area between Galveston and the Louisiana border and may loop back into the Gulf.  It might make landfall as a category 1 hurricane.  Ingrid is moving west more slowly than Dean and Felix did.

Update: 9-13-07:  Humberto made landfall on the Texas and Louisiana coasts as a category 1 hurricane.  It went from a tropical depression (without a number?) to a hurricane in 16 hours, which is a record.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Contemporary colors

I got the September/October issue of Lowe's Creative Ideas magazine recently, and it says that "the latest hues are drawn from bungalow style, hearkening back to the influence of ...Frank Lloyd Wright.  This palette is flexible...warm red brown, deep butternut yellow, dark olive, and chocolate brown... [or you can update them to] light taupe, soft teal blue, deep brown, and gold."  The paint colors include Deep Earth, Brown Moss, Butternut Tree, Aqua Dance, and Harvest Sun (Valspar).

Friday, September 7, 2007

Subtropical Storm Gabrielle

I'm not sure, but Gabrielle might have skipped the Tropical Depression #7 step.  Coastal watches & warnings are up along the southeast coast.  Here's a link to the National Hurricane Center webpage: Subtropical Storm GABRIELLE

And here's an earlier report:

SATELLITE IMAGES INDICATE THAT THE AREA OF LOW PRESSURE LOCATED BETWEEN
BERMUDA AND THE SOUTHEAST U.S. COAST HAS BECOME BETTER ORGANIZED OVERNIGHT.
UPPER-LEVEL WINDS ARE BECOMING MORE FAVORABLE FOR ADDITIONAL
DEVELOPMENT...AND A TROPICAL DEPRESSION COULD FORM LATER TODAY. AN AIR FORCE
RESERVE HURRICANE HUNTER AIRCRAFT IS SCHEDULED TO INVESTIGATE THIS SYSTEM
THIS AFTERNOON. THE LOW IS FORECAST TO MOVE GENERALLY WESTWARD OR
NORTHWESTWARD DURING THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS...AND INTERESTS ALONG THE EAST
COAST OF THE UNITED STATES SHOULD CLOSELY MONITOR THE PROGRESS OF THIS
SYSTEM

(Thanks to Lloyd for the bulletin and the link!)

Update 9-10-07: Gabrielle is now a tropical depression and didn't give the inland Carolinas the rain they'd hoped for.  It's heading ENE now.

 


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Book signing in Tampa Saturday

I'll be at Authors in the Park Saturday, September 8, at Centennial Park in Ybor City at the Ybor City Saturday Market.  I'll be signing my books and stories (in anthologies), which include:

Why Won't Anyone Play with Me? (my new children's book about a frisky kitten)

Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook (my non-fiction book about building your house)

Old Rex in The Ghost in the Gazebo.   (This anthology's theme is ghosts.  Rex is a ghost dog--with teeth.)

Seedlings in Magistria: The Realm of the Sorcerer.  My story is about good plant mages fighting evil mages with the help of sentient plants.  (This is the first edition.  There'll be a new edition soon from another publisher.)

The Princess Quest in Kings of the Night II.  My story is a humorous look at a quest in an anthology of sword and sorcery stories.  (This book is out of print.)

 

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Quick home makeovers (link)

"Whether you've only got one hour, one day or one weekend, get expert advice to make over your home ..."

From Oprah's e-newsletter: One Hour, One Day, One Weekend Makeovers

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Hurricane Felix

Felix is a category 1 and is apparently heading WNW toward the Yucatan.  It will possibly be a category 3 by then.  And there's a tropical wave to the east that we have to keep an eye on.

Update: Felix is a catergory 5 now and heading for Central America.