Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Hurricane cleanup

We helped a neighbor take down the plywood on the upstairs windows and put it away yesterday, and then we continued laying stone on the unpaved driveway that got rutted up during the hurricane flooding.  (We ordered six yards.)  We'll be replacing the mulch that washed away soon.  (We're starting with three yards.)  A friend who lost a roof, drywall, etc. finally got her house roofed, repaired, and repainted.  Another friend had to import roofers and shingles from out of town to replace her roof.  And a high wind the other night brought more branches down.  (There are still a lot of broken branches and trees that will be coming down in the future.)

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Time to Buy a New Home

Tips on buying a home from Southern Living: Homes: Time To Buy a Home

Wednesday, December 22, 2004


HGTVPro.COM COMING NEXT MONTH!   On Jan. 12, we throw the switch on This new website will serve builders, contractors, remodelers and discerning consumers and be filled with best practices, new products and more.   Sign up now for the free HGTVProFile e-mail newsletter and we'll keep you up-to-date on the latest site features.   Contractor's Sign Up   Homeowner's Sign Up   (From HGTV e-mail newsletter)

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Oprah's message boards

Hot Topic: Inspiration for the Home
Whether you're looking for a little inspiration or have ideas to share, talk about your home here!

(From Oprah's e-mail newsletter)

Friday, December 17, 2004

It's a Christmas gift!

Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook, was recommended in the Holiday Gift Book Round-up on the radio show, Focus, which aired last Sunday morning on the Clear Channel FMs in Colorado: KBCO, KRFX, KBPI, KFMD, KTCL.

Not So Big House

Sarah Susanka is pleased to bring you the Not So Big Showhouse 2005, where visitors to the 2005 International Builders Show will have a unique opportunity to participate in a multi-media tour that brings to life the principles of architectural design and green building practice:  Not So Big Showhouse, Orlando 2005

Building a Cool House... is hot!

Building a Cool House... is hot on the B&N list!  Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook is now #4 on Barnes & Noble's new house book best seller list: Barnes & Books / Home & Garden / House & Home / Home - Do-It-Yourself / Coming Soon/New Releases / All New Release..  

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Closet clutter

Ideas for getting a grip on a stuffed closet in an excerpt from our new book, Mission: Organization.  

(From HGTV's e-mail newsletter)

House columns from Home & Garden TV website

Read columnist Kathy McCleary's articles as she details her ongoing quest to turn a new house into a home:

(From HGTV's e-mail newsletter)

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

My favorite Christmas card

Sara Ryan of Tiger Moon Press created this Christmas card (it's an adaptation of her shepherds, sheep, and unicorns card) for me because when my audiobook, Sugar Time, came out, I thought it would be fun to have some sabre tooth tigers on a Christmas card.  She actually made four designs; I love them all, but this is my favorite.


Dwell is another new house magazine, which I haven't seen yet.

Inspired House

I got a mailing today for a new home magazine, Inspired House.  Sounds interesting, with helpful tips, house plans, and impressive photos.   

Monday, December 13, 2004

Merry Christmas!

Measure at least once

A friend was going to have her kitchen cabinets installed today--finally--but when they brought them, the cabinets were 36" and the door was only 30".  So they took them back to the shop to dismantle them.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Hurricane cleanup

Saturday was another workday at Heritage Park.  It's beginning to look really great, but there are still more trees to come down. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2004

A reader's review of Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook

"A wealth of information to make the adventure proceed with a lot more understanding ...  [It's] a thoroughly enjoyable guide to accomplishing a solid end product.  [And it] answers countless questions in a style that keeps the reader intrigued--entertains as well as educates."

Luis Hunsberger, who has built three houses!

Building a Cool House... is hot on the B&N list!

Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook is now #7 on Barnes & Noble's new house book best seller list: Barnes & Books / Home & Garden / House & Home / Home - Do-It-Yourself / Coming Soon/New Releases / All New Release..  

Tuesday, December 7, 2004

Hurricane news

I got Vanguard Views (newsletter from the school where my mother used to work) recently, and they had a lot of hurricane damage.  They were hit by Charley (category 3), Frances (category 1), and Jeanne (category 2), and lost trees and roofs .  The clean-up forced them to postpone opening the school from September 7 to October 4; and, of course, they had to make up the time somehow.  They decided to add an eighth period, and that has worked out well.  Students even requested that it be continued for electives!

Sunday, December 5, 2004

Hurricane news

Locally the city is going to do one last sweep for the big tree trunks, but many people still haven't taken all the leaning trees down or moved downed trees to the street.  Reminders of the hurricanes are going to be with us for years--bent and broken fences, sheds, etc.  I see houses being reroofed every day; some day all the tarps should be gone, but there are a lot left.  Next year's forecast (Dr. Gray) says that there will be just as many hurricanes, but fewer should make landfall...

Friday, December 3, 2004

Home organization link from HGTV

There's also a quiz:

Find more than 60 expert articles for organizing your home in our Get Organized! online feature.

Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Hurricane season ends

The hurricane season ended November 30 (and Otto became a tropical storm) so the weatherpersons had hurricane wrap-up reports with paths and statistics.  'Twas interesting going through it all again.  I still remember August 13; we had a birthday lunch at Cracker Barrel, and all their windows were boarded up for Charley. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Hurricane news

I read in today's paper that Polk county set a meteorological record for a county being hit three times in a season.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Hurricane damage at Cypress Gardens

Charlie Reynolds, local garden columnist, reports that an ancient and massive bald cypress, "The Chairman of the Board," went down in Hurricane Charley.  Their famous banyan tree lost one trunk and most of its foliage, but is recovering;and their sausage tree was knocked over by Charley, but was righted and cabled in place and survived Frances and Jeanne.  The Gardens lost much of its canopy, but a lot of overgrown vegetation was ripped apart to reveal exotic fruit trees. 

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Hurricane Otto possibility--again

Well, I wouldn't think it'd become a hurricane, and it probably won't come anywhere near us, but listening to the weather report talking about the possibility of an Otto in the Atlantic--again, does take you back...

Friday, November 26, 2004

Room planner

REARRANGE YOUR ROOMS WITH EASE   Rearranging rooms is as easy as clicking a mouse with our online Room Planner. Room options include living room, kitchen and bathroom. Adjust the size of the room and choose from a list of fixtures and furniture for each room.   Try the Room Planner   (From HGTV e-mail newsletter)

Thursday, November 25, 2004

More about house plans

There are stock plans (you can adapt them) and developers' plans (you can walk through them).  There are lots of plans in magazines and books; they often come in categories, or you can design your own from scratch.  You can work with your builder, a draftsman, an architect, ...  Make changes on paper!  If you make a lot of changes, you may have to get a higher mortgage.  Upgrades mount up and can be the ultimate sticker shock.

Make choices about appliance, windows, doors, sink, etc. placement.  Look at your current home; where would you put everything in your new home?  We made most of our changes on paper.  There's always a chance that your changes won't make it to the contractor's plans.  Keep an eye on things...

Remember blueprints are copyrighted.  Be sure to get as many as you need--maybe 8 to 10 sets.  They also come in vellum, which are better for making changes.  And I believe you can only use a set of blueprints once.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

House book news update

My book will be in the local paper's book section December 3, and I'm still on the Barnes & Noble new house book best sellers list, and here's the link for buying the book and keeping me there: Barnes & - Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook

Saturday, November 20, 2004

House at Night

Hurricane cleanup

I was pruning weed vines under the side oak today, and I discovered that a number of big branches--and a heck of a lot of little ones--had come down.  One of the big branches crashed on top of the Australian tree fern and smashed it, so I pulled it off and pruned the broken and dying fronds.  There are green fronds at the top, so I think it's all right.  Hopefully it won't be more vulnerable to freezes this winter.  Later I visited a friend's home; there are tree trunk sections lining most of the driveway, and two big root balls and trunks in the front yard.  The consensus was leave them as they are and work on them ...  Getting a back hoe and hauling them out would be too expensive. 

Friday, November 19, 2004

House plans

Someone asked if the architect shouldn't come first.  Not necessarily.  It depends on your lot size and shape, ... 

Planning involves house plans, builder, building site, and mortgage.  You want to be preapproved for a mortgage so you can grab that lot when you find it, BUT a mortgage depends on the house. 

In my case, first we got a builder and got the architect through him.  We worked with the builder and architect before we bought the land.

Stock plans can save you money, and you can change them.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

House value

The National Association of Realtors recently released a report on the "Value of Housing Characteristics." The study measured how certain property characteristics add or subtract value. Here are some of the findings:

* Each additional 1,000 square feet of living space increases selling price only about 3.3%. Each additional bedroom adds about 4% to the price, while an additional bath can add 24%.

* Houses advertised as "fixers" usually sell for 24% less than other houses.

* A garage typically adds about 13% to the price.

* Central air conditioning adds about 12% to price.

* A basement increases a home's value an average of nine percent.

* A sitting area in the master bedroom increases the price about eight percent.

* Internal features that add the most value are a family room, a dining room, a whirlpool and a security system.

This information is useful to determine the return you can expect to see on your remodeling investment. It also helps you compare property values for homes with and without such amenities.

Hurricane cleanup

I picked up a couple pailfulls of mulch this morning.  It was swept out of our tree beds during the hurricane flooding and across the road.  It's a start on replenishing the beds.  We've used up almost all the mulch we had on hand from the tree trimmer (pre-hurricane tree removal).

House book mention

Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook is mentioned in this month's Writer's Digest Book Club newsletter.

HGTV dream home video link


Saturday, November 13, 2004

Hurricane cleanup

Today was another historical society workday.  There was a good turnout and lots of sawing and hauling, but there are still a number of leaning trees that have to come down. 

Helpful house website links

Log Home Authority - Home  

House Plans, New Home Floor, Blueprints, Small, Luxury, Vacation, Unique

Sears PRS-Ultimate Home Quiz

Friday, November 12, 2004

Helping the planet

For those who wonder what exactly I do to help the planet, I compost, use native plants, maintain brush piles for wildlife, etc.; we live on a certified wildlife habitat (certified by the National Wildlife Federation, the state, and the county).  Here's the link to our wildlife habitat: Backyard Wildlife Habitat

Thursday, November 11, 2004

So, you've finally decided to buy my book!

You can purchase it at PublishAmerica: Publish America - Publishing Writers' and Authors' Manuscripts  or  Barnes & - Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook , ...

House photo

AOL Home Life chat

Thanks to all the great chatters on the Home Life chat on AOL tonight.  It was fun; lots of people are busy fixing up and decorating their homes.  So many good ideas and tips..., and I really enjoyed the pictures some of the chatters shared. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2004

Barnes & Noble's top ten list for house books

I just discovered that my house book is on Barnes & Noble's house book best seller list: Barnes & Books / Home & Garden / House & Home / Home - Do-It-Yourself / Coming Soon/New Releases / All New Release..   (I'm #9.)

Designing a Space Ship

I have a little piece, Designing a Space Ship, in the November SF and Fantasy Workshop newsletter.  You can download this month's issue free, and you can subscribe via e-mail: Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshop

Saturday, November 6, 2004

Blogging tidbits

There is an AOL journal for blogging and computer stuff called CompuTips:

I read blogs through Bloglines which is an aggregator and there's also Bloglet which sends emails of all the new entries in subscribed to blogs.

(Thanks to Shelly)


Thursday, November 4, 2004


Today I met the cutest Pembroke Welsh Corgi puppy when a friend brought her to visit.  Her call name is Stormy because she was born on August 13, 2004.  That was the day Hurricane Charley came through.  She's a sable with a mask and beautiful white markings, and she's a bundle of energy.  I'm told that at home she really runs Dancer and CoCo ragged...

Magistria comments excerpt

"I have read the stories so far and am very impressed with the quality
of the writing. ...

I liked the way the Plant Mages were visualized in SEEDLINGS.

THE METAL MAGES: Cool! As close to SF as fantasy can get.

BENEATH THE BLACK ICE: Classic S&S but with a high octane style.

(Thanks, Jack)

Monday, November 1, 2004


"It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can do little."

Edmund Burke


Saturday, October 30, 2004

Native plants

We went to the native plant sale today at the Audubon Nature Center.  We got a pygmy fringe tree, a Virginia willow, and three ornamental grasses.  As we drove in, we saw lots of snapped pines, and they told us that they lost a lot of pines and oaks and the Forestry Service worked there three weeks.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Blogging tidbit

Most blogs have rss feeds -- all AOL and Blogger blogs do, but Blogger allows you to turn that off -- and there are many other free online services that will increase traffic, with no downloading. I registered with a new service called Blog Explosion that's a lot of fun and hard to explain. :)

(Thanks to Shelly for blogging input.  She's helped me a lot with my blog, btw.  See Cyber Chocolate (in my Favorite sites column) to check out her blogs and learn more fun stuff.)


Magistria anthology news

The editor of Magistria: Realm of the Sorcerer is working on the cover now.  Check out the lettering and cover art at: Magistria, Realm of the Sorcerer .

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Hurricane cleanup

There was a comprehensive round-up of the hurricane debris cleanup in the local communities in today's paper.  The time schedules vary, but it should be pretty much finished in December.  Some people are still waiting for help to get the trees cut up and hauled to the curb.  It sounds as if most of the tree debris is being shredded into mulch; some is being burned.  The huge pieces of trunk will be dealt with later.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


There is no frigate like a book

To take us lands away, 

Nor any coursers like a page 

Of prancing poetry.

Emily Dickinson



Last Saturday we went to a plant sale and bought a wild petunia at the Heartland chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society booth and at the Historic Bok Sanctuary booth we got a bald cypress, a wax myrtle, a firebush, and a Yaku Jima grass.   I  also got two green fennel, a dill, and a parsley for the butterfly caterpillars.  (They killed off my last dill and bronze fennel, and I don't think I have many butterfly weeds left.) 

House chat

I'll be a guest on the AOL house chat the first two Thursdays (November 4 & 11) in November: Home Life at  9-10PM  (ET)  Home Improvements & Repairs -- HOST HOME KITcn & Handy to discuss my book, Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook, and answer questions.


Hurricane cleanup

Our front porch ceiling panels keep falling down even though we're re-taping them up.  I hope we don't get any storms before the ceiling's replaced.  The tree debris picker uppers were here yesterday and picked up the debris on our road.  Things are looking better--a little bit at a time.  Downed trees in woods will probably not be cleaned up.  Those big root balls are really impressive!

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Hurricanes uncover artifacts!


Hurricanes reveal ancient treasures Storms that
devastated Florida also uncovered artifacts from
ancient Ais Indian civilization.

By Martin Merzer
Miami Herald

Hutchinson Island, Fla. - Hurricanes kill, injure
and destroy, but they also can create, freshen
and reveal. Directly striking this popular
barrier island, Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne
exposed - then partially destroyed - fresh
evidence of the area's earliest inhabitants,
according to scientists ...


(Thanks to the Scifaiku list)


Friday, October 22, 2004

Hurricane cleanup update

Our porch ceiling panels with the worst damage are falling down.  We taped them up again, and they fell down again.  Sigh.  I hope we don't get any high winds before they're replaced.  Elsewhere tree cleanup continues, and sometimes roads are blocked with big trucks and forklifts picking up debris.  Lawns everywhere have big holes that are filled with dirt.  You can see homes that before were screened.  Woods are open too.  Roofers are busy, and today we passed a newly-repaired wall that had been smashed.  Fences are being repaired, but mostly they're waiting also.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Winter poem

There was a small boy of Quebec

Who was buried in snow to the neck;

When they said, "Are you frizz?"

He replied, "Yes, I is--

But we don't call this cold in Quebec."

by Rudyard Kipling, "The Boy of Quebec"


Monday, October 18, 2004

Hurricane cleanup

A lot of trees and limbs have been cleaned up and hauled away, but there are still hundreds of  trees that have to be removed; and roofs are covered with blue, green, red, black, etc. tarps, also lots of missing shingles and tiles.  I saw one roof that looked like it had been scoured to the deck.  I don't know what could have happened--a tree, branches?  And a restaurant downtown had just replaced part of the roof and cleaned up the water damage after Charley; and Jeanne wiped them out again.  I got a postcard recently from an artist friend, and she had created pictures of a nasty-looking looking Frances and her twin sister, Mean Jeanne (two very scary women). 



Friday, October 15, 2004

House book photo

Xena keeping an eye on progress.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

House book excerpt

"I am intrigued by the way older homes in Florida responded to the environment while the later ones seem to show no awareness of it at all." 

Dwight Holmes (architect who designed the Logan home in Tampa, FL)

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Matthew, Nicole, and Otto

Remnants of Matthew are expected to be picked up by an approaching cold front and give us rain; Nicole is headed for Maine and Canada; and if there's another one, it'll be Otto.  Btw, I watched Hurricane Summer on the National Georgraphic channel tonight.  They covered this summer's hurricanes through Jeanne and showed how the dome house (recommended for hurricanes) fared--very well, especially considering it's on the beach.  (What are those pilings sitting on?!)

The Princess Quest

My story in the sword and sorcery anthology, Kings of the Night II, is The Princess Quest--a fun adventure.

Saturday, October 9, 2004

Matthew update

Latest word is that Matthew's strengthening, but is probably heading towards New Orleans.  We may not even get any rain. 

Kings of the Night II cover


Friday, October 8, 2004

Hurricane Humor II

 How to tell if you are a Floridian

> You might be a Floridian if:
> You exhibit a slight twitch when introduced to anyone with the first
> names of Charley, Frances or Ivan
> Your freezer never has more than $20 worth of food in it at any given
> time
> You're looking at paint swatches for the plywood on your windows, to
> accent the house color
> You think of your hall closet/saferoom as "cozy"
> Your pool is more accurately described as "framed in" than "screened in"
> Your freezer in the garage now only has homemade ice in it
> You no longer worry about relatives visiting during the summer months
> You too haven't heard back from the insurance adjuster
> You now understand what that little "2% hurricane deductible" phrase
> really means
> You're putting a collage together on your driveway of roof shingles from
> your neighborhood
> You were once proud of your 16" electric chain saw
> Your street has more than 3 " NO WAKE" signs posted
> You now own 5 large ice chests
> Your parrot can now say" hammered, pounded and hunker down"
> You recognize people in line at the free ice, gas and plywood locations
> You stop what you're doing and clap and wave when you see a convoy of
> power company trucks come down your street
> You're depressed when they don't stop
> You have the personal cell phone numbers of the managers for: plywood,
> roofing supplies and generators at Home Depot on your speed dialer
> You've spent more than $20 on "Tall white kitchen bags" to make your own
> sand bags
> You're considering upgrading your 16" to a 20" chainsaw
> You know what "Bar chain oil" is
> You're thinking of getting your wife the hardhat with the ear protector,
> face shield for Christmas
> You now think the $6000 whole house generator seems reasonable
> You look forward to discussions about the merits of "cubed, block and dry
> ice"
> Your therapist refers to your condition as "generator envy"
> You fight the urge to put on your winter coat and wool cap and parade
> around in front of your picture window, when you finally get power and
> your neighbor across the street, with the noisy generator doesn't get electric
> You're thinking of shaving your head and getting a black Gor-Tex rain
> suit, like Jim Cantore has and so is your husband
> And finally you might be a Floridian if
> You ask your sister up north to start saving the Sunday Real Estate
> classifieds


Tropical Storm Matthew in the Gulf may give us some rain...  And there may be a Nicole forming in the Atlantic, but it shouldn't bother us.

Hurricane Humor


You all should be aware of hurricane preparations, but in case you need a refresher course: We're about to enter the peak of the hurricane season. Any minute now, you're going to turn on the TV and see a weather person pointing to some radar blob out in the Atlantic Ocean and making two basic meteorological points.

      (1) There is no need to panic.
      (2) We could all be killed.

Yes, hurricane season is an exciting time to be in Florida.  If you're new to the area, you're probably wondering what you need to do to prepare for the possibility that we'll get hit by "the big one."

Based on our insurance industry experiences, we recommend that you follow this simple three-step hurricane preparedness plan:

      STEP 1: Buy enough food and bottled water to last your family for at least three days.

      STEP 2: Put these supplies into your car.

      STEP 3: Drive to Nebraska and remain there until Halloween.

Unfortunately, statistics show that most people will not follow this sensible plan. Most people will foolishly stay here in Florida.  We'll start with one of the most important hurricane preparedness items:

HOMEOWNERS' INSURANCE: If you own a home, you must have hurricane insurance. Fortunately, this insurance i! s cheap and easy to get, as long as your home meets two basic requirements:

      (1) It is reasonably well-built, and
      (2) It is located in Wisconsin

Unfortunately, if your home is located in Florida, or any other area that might actually be hit by a hurricane, most insurance companies would prefer not to sell you hurricane insurance, because then they might be required to pay YOU money, and that is certainly not why they got into the insurance business in the first place. So you'll have to scrounge around for an insurance company, which will charge you an annual premium roughly equal to the replacement value of your house. At any moment, this company can dropyou like used dental floss.


Your house should have hurricane shutters on all the windows, all the doors. There are several types of shutters, with advantages and disadvantages:

      Plywood shutters: The advantage is that, because you make them yourself, they're cheap.
      Sheet-metal shutters: The advantage is that these work well, once you get them all up. The disadvantage is that once you get them all up, your hands will be useless bleeding stumps, and it will be December.

      Roll-down shutters: The advantages are that they're very easy to use, and will definitely protect your house. The disadvantage is that you will have to sell your house to pay for them.

      Hurricane-proof windows: These are the newest wrinkle in hurricane protection: They look like ordinary windows, but they can withstand hurricane winds! You can be sure of this, because the salesman says so! . He lives in Nebraska.

      Hurricane Proofing your property: As the hurricane approaches, check your yard for movable objects like barbecue grills, planters, patio furniture, visiting relatives, etc... you should, as a precaution, throw these items into your swimming pool (if you don't have a swimming pool, you should have one built immediately). Otherwise, the hurricane winds will turn these objects into deadly missiles.


If you live in a low-lying area, you should have an evacuation route planned out. (To determine whether you live in a low-lying area, look at your driver's license; if it says "Florida," you live in a low-lying area.) The purpose of having an evacuation route is to avoid being trapped in your home when a major storm hits. Instead, you will be trapped in a gigantic traffic jam several miles from your home, along with two hundred thousand other evacuees. So, as a bonus, you will not be lonely.


If you don't evacuate, you will need a mess of supplies. Do not buy them now! Florida tradition requires that you wait until the last possible minute, then go to the supermarket and get into vicious fights with strangers over who gets the last can of cat food. In addition to food and water, you will need the following supplies:

      23 flashlights. At least $167 worth of batteries that turn out, when the power goes off, to be the wrong size for the flashlights.

      Bleach. (No, I don't know what the bleach is for. NOBODY knows what the bleach is for, but it's traditional, so GET some!)

      A big knife that you can strap to your leg. (This will be useless in a hurricane, but it looks cool.)

      A large quantity of raw chicken, to placate the alligators.  (Ask anybody who went through Andrew; after the hurricane, there WILL be irate alligators.)

      $35,000 in cash or diamonds so that, after the hurricane passes, you can buy a generator from a man with no discernible teeth.

Of course these are just basic precautions. As the hurricane draws near, it is vitally important that you keep abreast of the situation by turning on your television if you have a generator that's working to keep the TV going and watching TV reporters in rain slickers stand right next to the ocean and tell you over and over how vitally important it is for everybody to stay away from the ocean.

Thursday, October 7, 2004


I have a story, Seedlings, in an upcoming fantasy anthology: MAGISTRIA: Realm of the Sorcerer is coming!   My story is about plant mages.

Something stirring in the Gulf

Something may be developing in the Gulf--still.  Too early to see where it'll end up.  Everyone's hoping for a continued respite from storms because there are tarp-covered roofs everywhere!  I learned the other day that some of the migrant workers are putting up tarps (for FEMA perhaps), which is a good thing since so many crops were destroyed.

Monday, October 4, 2004

Cleaning up

We've got a lot of raking and clean up to do, but it's been too hot to focus on that; and today the insurance claims agent came and looked at our porch ceilings and soffit and said we definitely need new ceilings.  She took pictures of the house (it helps her remember where all she's been) and the damage.  She came here from Punta Gorda, as I recall; she's been elsewhere and seen some really bad damage. 

Saturday, October 2, 2004

It's the sun!

We've been enjoying our sunny days even though it's hot.  The standing water is gone, though the ground here is squishy.  We're still cleaning up--lots of raking to do and then replenishing the mulch in all the beds.  As we drive around, there are downed trees everywhere.  Some are still being removed from houses; and there are tarps on a lot of roofs, and many windows are still covered with plywood.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Florida, The Snorkel State!

We got power back at 5:35 PM tonight, for which we are very grateful since there was a prediction of 1-3 weeks for some folks.  (We lost it early Sunday morning.)  Minor damage--porch ceilings and soffitt; we were up on ladders during the storm with duct tape to keep the aluminum panels attached.  Lots of branches down; we've started clean-up.  We'll do more when the water goes down.  Driving around today to get more ice there are trees down everywhere--still being removed from roads; we passed crews working.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

She's headed straight for us!

Jeanne's getting closer, and she's a category 3 now.  We're pretty much ready.  I have to fill the tub and washing machine yet and do a few chores in case we lose power later tonight.  The rain bands started this morning though it was just sprinkles then.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Good-bye Ivan. Hello Jeanne.

Ivan's off to the west, and Jeanne may be heading for us.  No one's sure where or if she'll make landfall, but it might be Sunday morning.  I'm not putting everything away yet, but Saturday's scheduled for a work day at the historical society (cleaning up debris from Charley and Frances) and errands, which include shopping.  I'm glad we got another hurricane lamp (battery operated) and batteries, etc. already.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

It's a parade!

Well, Ivan is reforming in the Gulf; Jeanne is still making up her mind; Karl is going north; and Lisa is being followed by what may become Matthew.  It's been a busy season, but I heard on the Weather Channel that there were 19 named storms in 1995.  (I do not want to break any records this year!) We got over a half inch of rain from intermittent showers from Ivan as he moved across the peninsula, btw.

Monday, September 20, 2004


A chunk of Ivan got pushed south and is spinning off the Florida east coast and is giving us rain.  We're safe from all the rest for a while.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Jeanne, et al

Well, Jeanne's in a holding pattern and may make a loop.  Karl is out of the loop, so to speak, and Lisa may be coming off the African coast.  I saw on the news tonight that the damage in Ivan's wake in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Georgia, ... is catastrophic.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Who's up next?

We're still getting rain bands from Ivan; that is a long ways up north!  Karl will probably stay to the east, and no one is sure about Jeanne's path, but it doesn't look as bad as its predecessors...  A respite would be good so everyone can concentrate on clean up.  Looks like some power outages may last longer in the wake of Ivan.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Frances and/or Charley

I got an e-mail from a friend in Lake Wales yesterday; he lost a lot of roof shingles and had minor water damage, etc.  A palm blew down, and three others are listing.  My mother gave him those palms many years ago, and she always loved to see them because they're so beautiful.

Ivan be gone

I'm very grateful that Ivan missed us; I have friends and relatives along the Gulf coast though, and I hope they're okay, along with everyone else.  And I hope the flooding won't be as bad as predicted.  This respite is helping us dry out, though we get a little rain almost every day--mostly sprinkles and showers.  We just got a shower that looks like (on the online radar) an outer band of Ivan--a loose link of cells, but it lightning and thundered here for a bit.  I actually saw the sun for a short time today, however!  Now I'll keep an eye on Jeanne and Karl.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Sammy's Beautiful Tail

Here's the cover for Sammy's Beautiful Tail; all the illustrations are by Andrea Gradidge; she did the lettering also.

Ivan update

I haven't mentioned Ivan lately because I was waiting to see if he'd made up his mind yet!  Now it seems pretty certain that he's headed for the Florida panhandle or possibly west of that.  'Course Elena in a similar situation turned east...  And here comes Jeanne...

Monday, September 13, 2004

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Why Won't Anyone Play with Me?

This is the cover of Why Won't Anyone Play with Me?  It may or may not be available from ChildrenzBooks.  It's not on a CD yet, as far as I know, but I thought I'd share it.  Thanks to Andrea Gradidge for illustrating this story and Sammy's Beautiful Tail; she also did the lettering.  (I found out that it is not available any more from ChildrenzBooks.)


It's wonderful having a weekend without a hurricane!  Ivan's slowing down and trending west, but that can change, and I remember a hurricane that made a loop.  Still, everyone's catching up with clean-up; and at Ryan's, where we went for lunch Saturday, there were a lot of tree crews and National Guard there.  The parking lot was full of tree removal company trucks.  And we come across them along the road.  We really appreciate everyone's help!

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Sammy's Beautiful Tail

My illustrated children's nature story is available on CD (Vol. II) from: ChildrenzBooks™ Books for you and your child.

Ivan, will you make up your mind?!

Well, Ivan has moved a little more to the west, which is a good thing for us.  Time will tell.  It's still raining here.  (I can remember when a hurricane would go by and suck all the moisture out of the atmosphere for days!)  We did some errands today, which included looking for lantern batteries and a hurricane lamp; we found neither, but a guy at Ace Hardware fixed our old lamp.  This is good!  Driving around we saw downed trees and flooding everywhere and way too many trees crowding power lines.

Friday, September 10, 2004

It's wriggling on the driveway! It's, it's...

On the way to the mailbox this morning, as I walked through the standing water (in just a few places) on the driveway, I saw little wriggling shapes in the water.  I checked them out and saw that they were tadpoles.  I got a little jar, filled it with water, and got a plastic spoon and caught a number of them (not easy; they sure wriggle well) and threw them in the lawn pools.  (It's possible they'll have enough time to mature.)  They must have washed into the driveway from last night's rain.

Thursday, September 9, 2004

House book cover

It's still raining!

Went out this evening and got caught in a torrential rain on the way home; and I do mean torrents.  The roads were flooded.  At this rate, the rivers won't go down before Ivan gets here...

Wednesday, September 8, 2004


Ivan, if it comes, might arrive here Monday.  I saw on the news and weather that some of the rivers that are flooding should start going down Sunday...

Plant inventory after Frances

I'm still wading in a few places, but the water is going down.  Lots of tree debris clean-up and pruning to be done, but the rain lilies are blooming.  Some ornamental grasses aren't looking happy, and the willow tree is looking brown; it got whipped around a lot.  Maybe that's the problem; it shouldn't be the water.  The pond is over its roots; and the river birches are in the pond, but they're water lovers, I thought.  The rosemarys, which hate wet feet, are probably goners.  Time will tell; but the two crape myrtles, recently planted by the patio, are putting out new growth.  We are very fortunate. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2004

Aftermath (Before algebra)

The sun came out today, though we still got some rain bands being sucked out of the Gulf of Mexico by Frances--just sprinkles for us.  We cleaned up debris, including a huge branch from an oak out front by the road.  We lopped off its smaller branches and dragged it off, with a neighbor's help.  A couple other neighbors stopped by as we were finishing up to see if they could help.  Hey, it's a great neighborhood!

Monday, September 6, 2004


I added some links.  Thanks, Shelly, for your help.  Actually, adding them was fun.  I'll try to add my book cover some day...

Hurricane Frances

We're still getting rain bands--wind and rain, with occasional tornadoes.  The pond's way up, but not over its banks yet.  Standing water everywhere.  Branches and small debris.  Intermittent power outages yesterday; we were very fortunate and grateful. 

Saturday, September 4, 2004


Frances has slowed way down.  It should arrive here tomorrow and dawdle for hours, giving us lots of wind and rain.  I'm hoping the pond doesn't flood to the road; it'll be hard to rescue the fishies...

Book cover

Yes.  It's the dreaded red X.  Sorry.  I will try to fix that.



Thank you!  OK, I'll try that, and I guess I'd better slow down with the posts.  I wanted to get some posts up in case I lose power...


My press release

Press Release   August 27, 2004   Joy V. Smith’s new book, Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook, is scheduled for release October 18, 2004.    This helpful book covers the building process and what’s involved in building your home; it  includes diary excerpts, photos, and advice from planning to punch list and beyond!  She shares what she’s learned about the thousands of decisions needed to build while keeping within a budget.    Paperback, 6" x 9", ISBN 1-4137-3521-5, 61 pp., retail $12.95  PublishAmerica.   For more information, please contact: Joy V. Smith 8925 Selph Road Lakeland, FL 33810 863-853-9472 E-mail:    


And here's a link to one of my most recent stories:

To The Last Drop! (a story for coffee lovers):


Links!  Yes.  Here's a link for Serenity--the Firefly movie, which I'm really looking forward to: Serenity


Frances has slowed down, but I see a large band getting closer to us (on radar).  Time to put the garbage can in the shed and be sure all the little things are inside.  I got some packages and mail off in time.  Publix (grocery store) is closed, but we got duct tape and batteries at Ace Hardware.  They're out of hurricane lamps (battery operated).  (Our old one is dead.)  Sun is shining through the clouds briefly; it's getting breezy..

Friday, September 3, 2004

My newest book

Today I got my two author's copies of Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook--a small thing, but mine own.  I continue working on promotion and wondering whether to buy freebies.  (I've read that it's something I should do.  One author even spent his advance on promotional freebies!) 

I've sent out press releases by e-mail and regular mail and flyers and personal notes and stopped strangers on the street...  I've had to take time from focusing on that to prepare for Hurricane Frances; and today I helped a neighbor board up her windows.  I'll finish our preparation tomorrow morning, and I hope to add at least one more entry then.  I'm hoping we don't lose power, the roof, ...