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.