Saturday, December 31, 2005

Be careful in there!

On House Detective (9:30 AM EST on HGTV) today, a ceiling joist of the home being inspected was twisting because someone had removed part of a wall to make a doorway larger--way larger!  Think twice about removing walls to make homes look more open.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Tropical Storm Zeta

MIAMI, Dec. 30, 2005 (AP Online delivered by Newstex) -- Tropical Storm Zeta
formed Friday in the eastern Atlantic Ocean, another installment in a
record-breaking hurricane season that officially ended last month.

Zeta, the 27th storm of the season, formed Friday about 1,000 miles
south-southwest of the Azores islands, according to an advisory posted on
the National Hurricane Center's Web site. It posed no immediate threat to

The center said it would send out a full advisory later Friday. Tropical
storms have winds of at least 39 mph.

It was not immediately known if Dec. 30 was the latest date for the
formation of a tropical storm in the Atlantic. But earlier this month,
Hurricane Epsilon became only the fifth hurricane to form in December in 154
years of record-keeping. Hurricanes form when their winds exceed 74 mph.

Zeta is the sixth letter of the Greek alphabet, which forecasters turned to
after they used up _ for the first time _ their list of 21 proper names for
storms. The record for tropical storms and hurricanes in a season had been
21, set in 1933 before such storms were regularly named.

The 2005 Atlantic storm season, which officially ended Nov. 30, included 14
hurricanes, including Epsilon.

(Thanks, Lloyd)

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Pun time:

  King Ozymndias of Assyria was running low on cash after years of war with the Hittites. His last great possession was the Star of the Euphrates, the most valuable diamond in the ancient world. Desperate, he went to Crosus, the pawnbroker, to get a loan.  
  Crosus said, "I'll give you 100,000 dinars for it."  
  "But I paid a million dinars for it," the King protested. Don't you know who I am? I am the king!"  
  Crosus replied, "When you wish to pawn a Star, makes no difference who you are."

(Thanks, April)

Monday, December 26, 2005

Cthulhu & Kitty cartoon caption poll (link)

Curtain up!
Light the light!
Cthulhu and Kitty may have
Another fight!


Thursday, December 22, 2005

'Tis the season...

Reindeer: The Truth Behind the Legend
What made Santa choose reindeer to help him pull his sleigh all over the world in one night? Wouldn't elephants, with their huge flappable ears, make a better choice? Okay, there's the weight factor, but what else makes reindeer the right choice for the jolly North Pole toymaker on his annual voyage? Read on to learn some of the secrets of the world's most famous deer.   (From the National Wildlife Federation e-newsletter.)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Green remodeling (link)

When you're ready to start saving money and living a "greener" lifestyle, it's best to begin with the simple stuff whether you're a savvy do-it-yourselfer or a homeowner who doesn't mind hiring someone. We've collected some of the "low-hanging fruit" of green remodeling to help you get started: Green Remodeling: Start Simple :

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Book review: New Pacific

New Pacific is sort of a sequel to Pacific Empire, a Alternate History I really enjoyed.  Here's my review of New Pacific:

A truly frightening look at our future if ...,

What could be worse than politicians in charge?! Well, G. Miki Hayden gives us one answer--corporate suits who stop at nothing--using technology to stay in control; people trapped in cubicles where they live and work; a polluted, over-populated earth; and more... What can one man do? Well, with a little help from family, friends, and clones, he can try to save the earth and the moon... New Pacific: Books


Monday, December 19, 2005

Book reviews

I write book reviews now and then, and I only review books I like.  Here's one that appeared in the Writer's Digest Book Club bulletin (July 2005 issue):

The Savvy Author's Guide to Book Publicity: A Comprehensive Resource--From Building the Buzz to Pitching the Press by Lissa Warren: Carroll & Graf Publishers (2004): $14.00

Lissa Warren is a book publicist, and she takes an in-depth look at book publishing, publicity (print and broadcast coverage), and publicists. She guides you through the steps of the whole process from the author questionnaire, galley, and finished book mailings, through tours and beyond.

She shows what to expect and what to do, furnishing lists of publicists, tour companies, web marketers, etc. She covers fees and options, press releases, bios, Q & A, photos, follow-up events, ... again with lists. The frequently asked questions in chapter 7 are very helpful.

One chapter covers the interview; with tips for print, TV, radio, and web chats, including "... disdain to interviewers whom [haven't] read your book," she says, and quotes Annette Heist "...I think it is safer to assume that no one has read it."

The "Buzz" chapter includes a list of book trade shows. There's a chapter on the pitch, followed by Ten Things to Do if Your Book's Not Getting Media Attention. Then come the appendices! This book is useful!

Friday, December 16, 2005


I enjoy reading--fiction and non-fiction, and I want to bring a fun and informative book blog to your attention, so be sure to check out Tampa Book Buzz in my blog links; they're to the right under the website links.   

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Enviro-tips for your home & garden (link)

Winterize Your World
Winter is upon us, and changes in the weather can affect your house, both inside and out. From winterizing your home, to preparing your garden, join us as we scout out what steps you can take protect yourself, your house, and your wallet.  Link:  Winterizing Your Home & Garden


I finished out the mulch pile yesterday (Well, once I rake the mulch up, I'll have a pile again because it covers a lot of territory.) and ordered another load from the electric company.  It's a good thing that's free because we use a lot of mulch.  We got a lot of old carpet during the weekend; a friend brought us a pickup load full after church Sunday.  We laid that out Monday morning.  We'd already laid out the carpet Saturday afternoon that we picked up Saturday morning.  All that carpet expanded several beds.  Don't forget to lay it upside down if you do this.  We got the hint from a gardening show years ago, btw.  Our goal is to have all our trees and bushes in mulched beds for ease of mowing.  Another goal is to cover the rest of the lawn with hardscape to cut down on mowing!

Thursday, December 8, 2005

Oil vs. gas vs. electric heat (discussion link)

This is an interesting and helpful discussion; well, there is some disagreement...  oil vs gas? - Topic Powered by Groupee Community  (This is from the website.)

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Interview (link) & upcoming anthologies

I have stories accepted for two shared world anthologies, Tales from the Big Black (Cold New Planet) and Magistria II: Shards of the Goddess (Crystal Quest).  The first anthology is science fiction and the second is fantasy.  Here's a link for my interview with the editor: Authors Page

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Thinking about building a house?

After we sold our house,  we could stay there a few years. No pressure in moving; that was something I'd dreamed about. No putting the furniture in storage, renting, or moving into our mother's house with all our pets. This is just one of the things to be considered when you're getting ready to build. We thought we'd rent a POD (a container available in different sizes with a pick-up and delivery service; they bring the warehouse to you. You pack only once; they take your possessions to a PODS storage facility, or most any selected destination), if we had to; you can put them on your building site, but fortunately we didn't have to store anything. It's a neat alternative to mini warehouses.

We made a list of what we wanted, what we didn't want, and what we could live with. Too picky, said one realtor. We worked our way through several realtors, innumerable listings in newspapers and real estate guides, and open houses.  We finally decided to build... 

I learned a lot about house hunting, building, and decision making. So, three years after building our house, when we built one next door for our mother, I was ready! Well, knowing what's happening can help you to communicate more easily with the builder.

(My house book is #6 on this Barnes & Noble list: Barnes & Books - Architecture, Domestic->Amateurs' manuals )

Monday, December 5, 2005

Exciting UFO Stories

One of my SF stories, What Price a Friendly Freep, is available from Fading Shadows: UFO Stories  (My story is in issue #1.)

Sunday, December 4, 2005

This Old House Kitchens

I came across this book recently; chapters include Planning, Design, Demolition & Framing, Plumbing & Electrical, Lighting, Equipping the Kitchen, Storage, and Counters.  It's available from This Old House Kitchens : A Guide to Design and Renovation Sticker: Companion to the.: Books: Philip Langdon,Stev...   Here's an excerpt from the Library Journal review:

From Library Journal
The book is illustrated with both black-and-white line drawings and color photographs, and examples of finished kitchen areas abound. Available materials, varying processes, and essential elements are discussed in practical, nontechnical language and style. The close focus makes this book nearly comprehensive.

Thursday, December 1, 2005

Levelling a floor (link)

Backerboard to Level Floors
I live in an old log home where the floor is unlevel. I want to install a floating laminate floor throughout....  Link: Using Backerboard or something to level floors - Topic Powered by Groupee Community

From HGTVpro e-newsletter

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

House leaks (link)

Question of the Month
I have heard it said that most roof leaks are actually "flashing leaks." What exactly does this mean?  Link: HouseMaster eNewsletter

(From Housemaster e-newsletter)

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Tropical Storm/Hurricane Epsilon

We've made it to Epsilon!  It's headed west, but it isn't expected to become a hurricane.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Old house resources

Old-House Journal
A website and bi-monthly magazine that contain everything old-house owners need to know about caring for, living in and enjoying their old houses. 

Florida Victorian Architectural Antiques
Florida Victorian specializes in the salvage of antique building materials and old house parts including doors, windows, heartpine flooring, hardware, clawfoot bathtubs, old bricks and beams, mantels, doorknobs, nauticals, and movie & TV props.

The Renovator's Supply - Restoration Hardware-Plumbing-Lighting for Real estate development.
Restoration hardware, plumbing, lighting manufacturer.  Renovator's Supply online store & catalog serving you for generations

Van Dykes Restorers
We are the industry leader in antique furniture and vintage home restoration hardware and supplies - from solid oak furniture kits to fittings, hinges and restorative supplies. 

Preservation North Carolina Raleigh, NC  The mission of Preservation North Carolina is to protect and promote buildings, sites and landscapes important to the heritage of North Carolina.

I've read Old House Journal for years--great magazine with lots of resources.  I've been to Florida Victorian Architectural Antiques in DeLand--great selection.  I've bought a few things there, and I'd love to buy lots more!  I've bought things from Renovator's Supply catalog for years also.  I get the Van Dykes catalog, but I don't remember if I've bought anything from it.  I keep it on hand though.  Preservation North Carolina has a great selection of historical homes that I enjoyed looking at in their catalog.  There are lots more resources out there.  Houston has at least two preservation organizations; check your locality for possibilities.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Tropical Storm Delta

TS Delta shouldn't bother us at all; if there's another one, it'll be Epsilon.  I believe Delta makes 25 named storms. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Historic homes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE FOR MORE INFORMATION: Susan Steeley, 202-339-0744, ext 114

Old-House Journal and form marketing alliance
to promote historic real estate

Washington, DC, July 3, 2003---Old-House Journal, the original restoration magazine, and, the internet’s most comprehensive resource for buying and selling historic real estate, have formed a joint marketing venture to create the pre-eminent source for advertising historic real estate for sale nationwide.

By combining forces, the alliance is expected to provide advertisers bimonthly readership of 700,000 and daily online viewership in the tens of thousands.

These market leaders in residential historic homes, at least 50 years or older, share a common vision to encourage the preservation of our nation’s older homes. Old-House Journal, launched in 1973, this year is celebrating 30 years in the market delivering detailed advice, practical and creative home-improvement solutions and expert how-to guidance on the subject of restoring older homes or new homes built in a traditional style.

Likewise, serving the online market, was conceived by and for historic house lovers and founded on an appreciation for older properties. From projects to completed renovations, residential to commercial, West Coast to East Coast, viewers can browse through hundreds of historical properties for sale in its searchable database.

Restore Media, LLC, is dedicated to serving the information needs of the commercial and residential historic restoration and renovation industry. The company produces the Restoration & Renovation Exhibition and Conference and publishes Clem Labine’s Traditional Building and Clem Labine’s Period Homes, as well as Old-House Journal and Old-House Journal’s Restoration Directory, an annual guide to products and services.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

An Affair with a House

I came across a review of this book in the December issue of Home.  It looks interesting and helpful.  Here's the blurb from Barnes & Noble:

Affair with a House: Creating a Comfortable Country Home

FROM THE PUBLISHER For 28 years the world-renowned interior designer Bunny Williams has been involved in a passionate love affair with an18th-century New England manor house that she found in sad repair. From the moment she walked up the driveway and her palms began to perspire, Williams knew she wanted the affair to last forever. In her sumptuous new book, An Affair with a House, the venerable decorator describes in detail how she and her husband, antiques dealer John Rosselli, rescued, nurtured, renovated, and decorated the well-worn house, giving it new life as they restored each room, resurrected the abandoned gardens, and filled this weekend home with family and friends.

Through photographs, anecdotes, how-tos, and recipes, Williams provides a rare inside look at a top decorator's retreat and explains how she approached the joys, pleasures, challenges, obstacles, and day-to-day realities of creating a beautiful, comfortable country home.  ...

Link: Barnes & - Affair with a House: Creating a Comfortable Country Home - Bunny Williams - Hardcover

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Friday, November 18, 2005

Tropical Storm Gamma

Gamma should be crossing the Peninsula Monday.  The path looks similar to Wilma's.  It should be south of us also.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A new scam home builders need to watch out for

In my book, Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook, I point out things to watch for when building your home, but here's a new one I came across in today's paper. 

Officials Warn of Scrub Jay Scam  (North Port, FL)

About 10 property owners were allegedly told by builders this week their lots can't be developed because a little blue and gray bird may reside there.  Landowners say they were advised to unload these "worthless" properties and were offered $1,200 per lot, far below the market rate of $45,000.  City and county officials went on the offensive to alert residents about the scam and to set the record straight: Lots containing scrub jays or their habitat can still be developed.  Property owners just need to submit plans for federal review and pay fees before building can begin. 



Monday, November 14, 2005

Tropical Depression Twenty-seven

Looks like we may make it to Tropical Storm or even Hurricane (category 1) Gamma--or not because of shear, but it should stay way south of us.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Magazines I subscribe to and/or read

You might guess that I subscribe to home & garden magazines, such as Home, Country Home, Birds & Blooms, Horticulture, Backyard Living, Early American Life, and Country Living.  I also subscribe to Writer's Digest and Budget Living, and I read Old House Journal, Southern Living, National Geographic, assorted pet magazines, and others.

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Kitchen island--C'est magnifique!

I came across the most fantastic kitchen island I've ever seen in the October issue of Home (Kitchen & Bath issue).  It's Molteni by Electrolux Podium II Kitchen Island and is handcrafted in France; it's stocked with an induction wok and hot plate, a griddle, two refrigerator and two storage drawers, and a sink.   Stainless steel and enamel.  The color in the magazine is red.  This kitchen island costs $85,000, btw.  Here's the Molteni webpage: Molteni - Own your dream!  The picture in the magazine is better.  If you're interested, go to a bookstore or library and look at page 29 of the magazine. 

Sunday, November 6, 2005

World building

Straight On Until a New Planet

by Joy V. Smith

I love SF, and some of my favorite stories are about other worlds, including Andre Norton's adventure-filled books, Christopher Anvil's Pandora's Planet, Gordon R. Dickson's The Outposter, Anne McCaffrey's Pern series, Robert A. Heinlein's Podkayne of Mars, and Keith Laumer's Retief series.

For the rest of the article: WORKING WRITER For people who write

Thursday, November 3, 2005


For those wondering if starting and maintaining a blog (web log) takes too much time, I'd say that it takes a lot less time than a website, but you should update it more frequently; however, that's easy.  Have some name choices for your blog on hand when you're ready to start.  For more information, here's a link to my interview on blogging: Long Ridge Writers Group   and here's a list of blog hosts.

AOL Journals
MSN Spaces, August 15-22, 2005.

Technorati, a popular blog search and syndication site estimates that the blogosphere alone doubles in size every 5 months. As of the end of July 2005, Technorati was tracking over 14.2 million weblogs, and over 1.3 billion links.  (From AddMe e-mail newsletter #364 )

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Another good house building book

I came across a review of "Building Your Own Home for Dummies" by Kevin Daum, Janice Brewster and Peter Economy on the Bob Bruss Real Estate Center website: Bob Bruss Real Estate Center  (I clicked on the link in his newsletter.)

Bruss says: "This book should only be read a few chapters at a time so the content can be thoroughly digested. Surprisingly, some of the best content chapters come at the end of the book. The book's organization could have been better, but virtually all the home construction essentials are included.

The primary reason I say some of the best chapters are toward the end is that those chapters emphasize the home construction mistakes to avoid. To illustrate, Chapter 20 explains how to handle potential problems such as running out of construction loan cash, cost over-runs, not getting along with the contractor, and even the contractor walking off the job."

My house book, Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook, also includes potential problems and points out the importance of being prepared, but some things are unique to each home builder.  Fortunately, most of us won't have to worry about an eagle's nest...  Btw, it's available from: Barnes & - Building a Cool House for Hot Times Without Scorching the Pocketbook - Joy V. Smith - Paperback

Monday, October 31, 2005

Paint swatches

It's hard making a color choice for the inside and the outside of your house.  I had to repaint the kitchen (that color just didn't work with the countertops), but I caught the trim color in the Great Hall before they'd gone all the way down the hall from the front door to the back door.  (That Polo green on the doors really hit you between the eyes.) Now there's Glidden's Peel & Stick paint samples; the 4x6 inch paper swatches stick to any surface and peel off .  Sixty options are grouped into six palettes of 10 shades each; the cost is $3.00 per palette.  (I came across this in the November issue of Home.)

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Design My Room (link)

  • Use your own room photo or select from dozens of inspiring room designs.
  • Point & click to change floors, ceilings, walls and cabinetry colors to best fit your new room design.
  • Create a shopping list to take to the store.
  • E-mail your ideas to friends and family.
  • Available on CD-ROM or by download (60MB). Download time approximately 10 minutes on cable/DSL/LAN. Download is not recommended for dial-up users.
  • Link: Armstrong's Design My Room

    Design a Room (link)

    Design your own room with our inspiring room scenes (from Armstrong).

    Choose from among dozens of room scenes to envision products in room settings.
    Point & click to change floor, ceilings, walls, and cabinetry colors to best fit your new room design: Design a Room

    Saturday, October 29, 2005

    Sugar Time

    Sugar Time is an audiobook comprised of three related short stories: "Sugar Time," "Flight Test," and "Return to Neander."  It's a time travel adventure featuring a full cast, music and sound effects.  Maxwell Sweet along with two professors have been conducting secret experiments in an old Victorian mansion outside Galveston, Texas. However, the two professors have vanished and Maxwell Sweet has fallen ill. Now, it's up to Sweet's tough-as-nails niece to find out what happened to the project - a working time machine...

    Sugar Time is available from Project Pulp , and it will be available at the Hadrosaur Productions table at TusCon the weekend of November 18.

    (Note, a fourth "Sugar Time" tale entitled "Flashback" was published in print form in issue 16 of Hadrosaur Tales, also available from Project Pulp .)


    Friday, October 28, 2005

    Building a Cool House...Table of Contents

    Table of Contents  

    1. Introduction
    2. Preparation
         Searching for the Right Location
         Finding a House Plan
         Choosing a Builder
         Getting Financing
    3. The Building Process (Diary excerpts)
         Siting it (setbacks, etc.)
         Scraping, footers, foundation, slab, walls, framing, roof
    4. The Building Begins

    5. Finishing
        Punch list (for the builder)
    6. Making Choices
    7. Remodelling Your New Home

    You can buy Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pockebook from: Books: Building a Cool House for Hot Times Without Scorching the Pocketbook

    Thursday, October 27, 2005

    Tropical Storm Beta

    WTNT31 KNHC 271138
    8 AM EDT THU OCT 27 2005


    (Thanks again, LGD)

    Monday, October 24, 2005

    Choosing a "green" Christmas tree

    The November/December issue of Natural Home & Garden has an interesting look at whether an artificial or a real Christmas tree is better for the environment.  The columnist checked out the fake trees and discovered that the fake ones are PVC ("No on vinyl, and that's final.") AND that lead is apparently used to stabilize certain PVC products.   So now you have to decide between trees grown with pesticides and herbicides or organic; family operations vs. companies; buying and planting, which isn't always practical; etc.  There is a molded polyethylene tree, but it's short and expensive.  As for me, I prefer the smell of a fresh Christmas tree, which nowadays, is harder to find...


    Wilma's leaving Florida as a category 2!  It had strengthened and arrived as a 3.  It's clearing up here now, but further south they're still getting pounded.  We had minor damage (branches & plants) and got over 5" of rain, which we needed, but there's no standing water.  The holding ponds and swamps near us are way up though.  We didn't lose power; though some places did locally, and the crews were out last night restoring it!  Of course, there were a lot more power outages, flooding, and storm damage in south Florida.  And here, after Wilma left, a cold front arrived, which gave us more wind (pressure gradient difference); and we'll be in the low 50s (lows) for a few days. 

    Sunday, October 23, 2005

    Here she comes!

    We're beginning to see rain, water spouts, and tornadoes.  No winds yet (probably not till after midnight), but we've put the light outside chairs, garbage can, etc. away and laid the heavier stuff down.  We're doing wash to be caught up in case we lose power, and then we'll fill the sinks, bathtub, washing machine, buckets, pans, ...  Gotta bag more ice.  Wilma should make landfall about 8 AM as a category 2, I believe, and leave as a 1.  It should be way south of us...

    Saturday, October 22, 2005

    Another Wilma update

    Wilma is now a category 2 and is still wreaking havoc in the Yucatan.  It might speed up and hit Florida Monday morning.  Hotels are going crazy here inland as people keep changing reservations...  We should get more rain and possibly winds from 45 to 75 mph in central Florida.  And now we have Tropical Storm Alpha!  This sets a record for most hurricanes in a season.

    Friday, October 21, 2005

    Wilma update

    Wilma is still a category 4, but is supposed to weaken and cross Florida Monday perhaps.  The arrival time keeps getting postponed...   We have lots of evacuees in the area.  There were two people at the grocery store today from Ft. Myers.  One left early and made it here in two hours.  The other left later, and it took him five hours.

    Thursday, October 20, 2005

    Cthulhu & Kitty cartoon caption poll

    I've enjoyed the Cthulhu & Kitty cartoons.  I've never come up with a caption though.  Here's the link so you can enjoy the cartoon and caption nominees and vote for your favorite:

    Book signing

    I'll be signing copies of my book, Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook, at Authors in the Park at Ybor City (Tampa, Florida) Saturday, November 5.  This will be in conjunction with a new event--Knit Out and Crochet Too!  There are other vendors there also and things for children to do.  If you can't make it there, the book is available online at Books: Building a Cool House for Hot Times Without Scorching the Pocketbook

    Wilma update

    The Wednesday evening forecast said that Wilma might not even come near us, though the Weather Forecast track hadn't changed yet; the late night forecast said that Wilma had slowed down and was now a category 4, but it was back on the track headed for Florida.  The noon forecast had it wobbling and still slow and showing a clear patch that wasn't the eye, and the weathermen had no idea what that meant.  Of the 45 computer models, eight were headed for central Florida, while the majority were crossing southern Florida (Naples hasn't been hit by a hurricane since Donna in 1960, btw).  One sphagetti strand is still looping back across the Yucatan and heading back into the Caribbean and possibly into Cuba.  They are expecting it to become a 5 again, but it will exit Florida as a !.  VIPER, VORTEX, and all the other cutting edge programs are disagreeing right now.  In the past, sometimes VIPER was right and the Weather Service wasn't and vice versa.  It's still too early to tell, but schools are cancelling classes; some games have been rescheduled from Friday night to tonight, and people are stocking up and evacuating.

    A friend (thanks, LGD!) sent me a storm track blog with pictures and graphs; it's really neat, and here's the link: StormTrack - When God decides to flush the toilet, you need answers   

    Wednesday, October 19, 2005

    Hurricane Wilma

    Wilma is now a category 5.  (Wow!  That was fast!)  The cone of uncertainty covers most of the peninsula, though it'll probably be south of us, but you can't tell this early.  This year is tied for most hurricanes--12; the last time was 1969.  And this is the lowest pressure ever.  It's predicted to come across the state as a 3.  (Whoa!  I was hoping for a 2 or 1.)

    Tuesday, October 18, 2005

    Septic system

    I came across a septic sytem, Hoot Aerobic Treatment Unit.  The ad says that the product eliminates the mound and increases lot density.  You get: low maintenance, mound reduction, sub-surface drip, water recycle, requires less space, easy installation, environmentally friendly, lowers floor height, reduces set-back, larger homes on smaller lots.

    Anyone know anything about this system?  I wonder if it requires more frequent pumping out.

    Monday, October 17, 2005

    Tropical Storm Wilma

    Wilma is scheduled to become a hurricane in the Gulf about Wednesday.  It's too early to tell where it's going to make landfall.  The cone of uncertainty is big.

    The latest update (computer models) shows Wilma going north (it's going south now) and curving towards the east coast of Florida later in the week.

    Sunday, October 16, 2005


    Tropical Depression 24 still hasn't made a decision; the computer models vary.  If it becomes a named storm, it will be Wilma, and then we're out of names.  (What happened to TD23?!)

    Friday, October 14, 2005

    Favorite sci-fi movie

    My favorite sci-fi movie is Andromeda Strain.  Runners-up include Star Wars, Aliens, Serenity, ...  My choice for coolest character is Ellen Ripley; first runner-up is Newt.  And I'm still gnashing my teeth because we didn't get to see Newt grow up to be a really cool heroine!

    Here's a link to a Serenity review: Serenity - Uncle Orson Reviews Everything

    Saving money while building a house

    Here's another book with money-saving advice:

    Blueprint Affordable: How to Build a Beautiful House without Breaking the Bank

    Author Michelle Kodis includes an amazing list of helpful information, guidelines, and tips to follow throughout the planning and building process such as: keep a simple floor plan; opt for off-the-shelf stock sizes, which cost less than their customized counterparts; choose locally available materials; study your building site's climate and weather patterns, and focus on an architectural plan that shields the home from the elements; omit a basement where possible-you'll save thousands on excavation costs; do your own research and purchase your own lighting fixtures, paint, carpet, and appliances instead of hiring an outside consultant to do so.

    Budget-mindedness and beauty don't live on opposite sides of the architectural block, as the ten houses in Blueprint Affordable strikingly demonstrate. As exceptional as they are in their design, these houses all share one key attribute: from the very beginning, before their owners' dreams were transformed into exciting realities, everything from the floor plan to building materials and finishes was driven by limited financial resources.

    People who bought this book...

    I enjoy looking at lists of books on the Barnes & Noble and amazon websites--you know, the lists of other books that people bought who bought the book you're considering.  Here's the list of books on the B&N webpage for Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook:

    People who bought this book also bought:

    Not So Big Solutions For Your Home Sarah SusankaThe House You Build: Making Real-World Choices to Get the Home You Want Duo Dickinson, Peter Chapman (Editor), Ken Gutmaker (Photographer)Tuscan and Andalusian Reflections Aram BassenianCottage, Cabin and Vacation Home Plans Sunset Staff (Editor), Editors of Sunset Books (Editor)Homes Filled with Natural Light: 223 Sunny Home Plans for All Regions Home Planners, LLC, Inc. Home Planners, Inc Staff Home Planners (Editor)


    Tuesday, October 11, 2005

    Backyard Habitat TV show

    NWF teamed up with Animal Planet to create a television series called BACKYARD HABITAT. This series was inspired by NWF's Backyard Wildlife Habitat™ program.  Link: Backyard Habitat TV show on Animal Planet 

    Here's the link to my Backyard Habitat: Backyard Wildlife Habitat

    Recycling CDs & DVDs (link)

    Each year, millions of boxes of software CDs go to landfills and incinerators, and people throw away millions more CDs and DVDs; all of them can be recycled or reused  Link: Green Consumer - National Wildlife Magazine

    Monday, October 10, 2005

    Book review of house book

    A chronological compendium of events and practical advice , February 5, 2005
    Reviewer: Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WI USA) - See all my reviews  In Building A Cool House For Hot Times Without Scorching The Pocketbook, author Joy Smith draws upon her on-site personal experience with the building process involved in constructing her own home. This slender, 61-page book reveals what she learned about the thousands of decisions that must be made in order to build within a budget as illustrated by diary excepts, photos, and more. A chronological compendium of events and practical advice from planning, to "punch list", Building A Cool House For Hot Times Without Scorching The Pocketbook will prove an invaluable read for anyone contemplating building (or remodeling) their own home.

    Available from: Books: Building a Cool House for Hot Times Without Scorching the Pocketbook

    Cracker houses

    Our house was adapted from the old Cracker house style (built for the climate).  Here's an interesting article from the local paper on Cracker houses: Cracker Houses Are Reminders of Life Before Air Conditioning |

    As architect Dwight Holmes said, I am intrigued by the way that older homes in Florida responded to the environment, while the later ones seem to show no awareness of it at all."

    Sunday, October 9, 2005

    Hurricane Vince

    Hurricane Vince is apparently going from the African coast to Portugal.  I wonder if that's ever happened before.  I thought all those waves headed for the US.  Anyway, there's nothing else happening at the moment, and we have one name left--Wilma.  (Thanks, oino, for the heads up.)  Btw, I learned that apparently (in recorded history), this has never happened before.

    Saturday, October 8, 2005

    Favorite joke categories: Dog, child's quote, & pun

    Dog: If a dog barks his head off in the forest and no human hears him, is he still a bad dog?

    Child's quote: We do not raise silk worms in the United States, because we get our silk from rayon. He is a larger worm and gives more silk.

    Pun: It was one week before finals at the University of California at Berkeley, and everyone in my Comparative Religions class was frantic because of all the complex words and ideas we needed to know. The professor had just finished reviewing an Eastern concept he identified as Taoist, when a frazzled student protested, "But you said that was a Buddhist belief!" The professor looked up with a smirk and said, "I'm afraid not. You see that was Zen. This is Tao."


    Friday, October 7, 2005

    Serenity poll & trivia questions

    I see my point count has gone up on the Serenity website; it looks like they've accepted all three of my submissions.  Yes!  (See my Favorite Sites listing for the Serenity link.)

    Thud by Terry Pratchett

    I really enjoyed Thud and am looking forward to rereading it.  (I've lent it to someone who really likes it too and was tempted to take off from work to finish it.)  I also read Where's My Cow?, which I suspect Pratchett wrote after inventing it for Sam Vimes to read to his son in Thud.  I loved how Vimes sometimes made it home by the skin of his teeth to read it on time...  I enjoyed Where's My Cow? also; it's illustrated and is more of a children's book, but grownups will like it too! 


    Thursday, October 6, 2005

    Fun game (link)

    Egg Drop   (I swear some day I'm going to make it all the way through without dropping any eggs.)

    Wednesday, October 5, 2005

    Tammy and new wave update

    Tammy took off to the north like a rocket, made landfall, and is raining in Georgia.  There's another wave, which broke off from Stan, and is headed in our direction; and there's an upper level low in the Gulf, which used to be connected to the tropical wave that became Tammy...  Weather is certainly unpredictable.  Oh, there's another wave off Africa. 

    "Green" standards


    Nationally, the Department of Agriculture is responsible for certifying organic foods. The USDA Organic seal can be found on foods containing at least 95% organic ingredients. Organic crops are defined as being produced without the use of conventional pesticides, fertilizers with synthetic ingredients, sewage sludge, bioengineering, or ionizing radiation. Organic animal products are produced without the use of antibiotics or growth hormones. This production method is generally acknowledged as more sustainable, and helps to enhance the environment as a whole by enriching the soil and cutting down on the harmful runoff of pesticides and fertilizers. An added benefit is keeping excess hormones and pesticides out of our bodies. The cost of organics varies due to produce seasonality (organic produce is only available when naturally ripe) and exotic nature (the harder it is to grow something organically, the higher the price). To learn more visit Source: The United States Department of Agriculture

    FSC Certification

    To receive a certification from the Forest Stewardship Council, companies and landowners selling forest products such as timber must practice sustainable forestry management. Independent certification organizations ensure that the companies receiving FSC certification use the forest for environmental and social benefit, as well as in an economically viable manner. Around the world, there are 131 million acres of FSC certified forestland, and retailers throughout the United States carry both building supplies and paper products with FSC certification. For a list of all products and companies with FSC certification visit Source: Forest Stewardship Council

    From The Nature Conservancy e-mail

    Fantasy anthologies

    I have stories in the following anthologies:

    Magistria II: Shards of the Goddess: Magistria II  (upcoming)

    Magistria: Realm of the Sorcerer: MAGISTRIA: REALM OF THE SORCERER by G. W. Thomas (Book) in Books > Fiction & Literature > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Epic Fa...

    Kings of the Night II: KINGS OF THE NIGHT II by G. W. Thomas (Book) in Books > Fiction & Literature > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Epic Fantasy


    Tropical Storm Tammy

    That upper level low/wave did develop into a tropical storm.  It looks like it's going north.  This is the 19th named storm, tying us for 19 named storms (the last #19 was Tanya in 1995).  There were 21 storms in years before they started naming them about 50 years ago.

    Monday, October 3, 2005

    My house book is #6 on Barnes & Noble list

    List link: Barnes & Books - Architecture, Domestic->Amateurs' manuals

    6.  Book Cover Building a Cool House for Hot Times Without Scorching the Pocketbook

    Building with concrete block

    I came across an article on building with concrete block in a September/October 1998 issue of Coastal Living.  It's a good choice for building because it's econmical, and there is a wide range of choices on the esterior: paint, stucco, brick veneer, and almost any siding material.  Inside you can paint, stucco, drywall, panel, or leave the block unfinished.  (I think, though, that earlier homes were more likely to be unfinished inside; today they're usually insulated.  I lived in a concrete block home with unfinished walls; the wallpaper and paint in one bedroom peeled a lot; and during a wet period, the paint on one interior wall really bubbled.) Concrete block also evens out temperature flucuations, making the house easier to heat and cool.  I like it too because I believe it's safer in hurricanes.

    Furniture glossary (link)

    There's a furniture glossary on the House Beautiful website: House Beautiful: Furniture Glossary

    Preventing heat buildup (link)


    Prevent Heat Buildup
    I am going to construct a house in Florida. I'm from the northeast where winter heat loss is the main idea....  Link: prevent heat buildup - Topic Powered by Groupee Community



    In the November issue of Country Home, they say that this season's trends are: 1) Bold graphic damask fabrics. 2)  Worn gold & bronze finishes. 3) Natural woods--dark & light. 4) Caning. 5) Televisions taking center stage. 6) The return of small scale. 7) The color chocolate brown. 8) Dressmaker details on upholstery & pillows.

    Harmony (organic catalog)

    I got another Harmony catalog recently.  I am so happy to see some colored linens in it; they're muted, but I like that look.  They have clothes lines and racks too, along with cleaning products and house and garden items.  The website is:


    Stormscaping (book)

    Charles Reynolds, the local garden columnist, recommended Stormscaping by Pamela Crawford (Color Garden, Inc.) in a recent column; it's full of colorful photos--including storm damage photos, and it sounds helpful and interesting. 

    Tropical Storm Stan

    Well, the closest tropical wave did become Stan after all, and the other wave fizzled.  Stan has crossed the Yucatan Peninsular into the Bay of Campeche and is heading for Mexico again.  Here we have an upper level low off the east coast heading for us, and it should at least give us some rain, which we need.  They're watching it in case it develops into a tropical wave.

    Thursday, September 29, 2005


    Tomorrow's the big day, and I get to go!  (I wasn't sure I'd be able to.)  Btw, did anyone see the Serenity mention in Foxtrot today?  It's in Jason's horoscope for Libra.  Here's a link for FireFlyFans: FIREFLYFANS.NET

    Wednesday, September 28, 2005

    Storm update

    There's a tropical wave in the Caribbean (most computer models predict that it's going west); if it becomes a tropical depression, it'll be #19; and if it becomes a tropical storm, it'll be Stan.  Okaaay.  Another update: A tropical wave off Africa will probably become #19 and Stan; the wave in the Caribbean hasn't made up its mind yet, and they keep postponing sending a plane in because it's still not very strong.

    Home design software

    Better Homes and Gardens has design software for the home, landscaping, etc.  And you can design online with Arrange-A-Room.  Here's the website link:  (Arrange-A-Room didn't load for me, even after I closed the pop-up ad.  I'll try again later.)


    Tuesday, September 27, 2005

    Rita afterword

    A friend in Canada said they got a lot of rain yesterday from the rest of Hurricane Rita; there was flooding in Quebec City.  I was glad to hear that friends in Houston and Arkansas (some rain and power outages) are fine.

    My friend in Houston said: "I flew out the 2nd day of evacuations, but took all the backroads to the airport & went Very/Very early on Thursday - they closed the airport on Fri/Sat & then I came back Sun when it was back up again & the traffic was ghostly on the way back [Monday] no work or school so everyone can get back into town & they can refill the gas stations!"

    Later: Today [Tuesday], ... went out to the local post office [and] grocery [and] found the shelves were getting restocked ... Tomorrow/Wednesday is Back to Work & Back to School, so it's time to beat the heat (another day of 100 degrees) & move on as best we can."  [Btw, my friend wasn't evacuating; it was a planned trip...]

    Monday, September 26, 2005

    Wood flooring

    Hard Choices, an article in Home Planning Ideas, looks at the pros and cons of types of wood flooring: Traditional hardwood strip flooring, Prefinished wood flooring, Engineered-wood flooring, and Laminate flooring.  Bamboo wasn't included, I noticed; I wonder what category it would be in?  I believe it's not recommended for humid climates. 

    House books

    Concrete at Home         

    Concrete at Home by Fu-Tung Chen (The Taunton Press) is included in the Breaking Ground (ideas, facts, news & tips) section of Home Planning Ideas magazine (Fall/Winter 2005).  Designer and author Chen describes the art and science of creating architectural elements with concrete.  Lovely photos.  

    Good Green Homes  

    Another helpful book I found in the magazine--in Green Building, along with tips and web resources--is Good Green Homes by Jennifer Roberts.

    Storm update: A respite

    The remnants of Rita are in the northeast.  Everyone's grateful that it didn't stall out as predicted earlier.  A wave has swallowed Phillippe; there's a wave in the Caribbean; and there's another one approaching, but at least we haven't made it to Stan yet. 

    Saturday, September 24, 2005

    Evacuation: What to take

    After packing the essentials: pets, food, water, etc., what three non-essential items would I take? 

    1. Computer, disks, & CDs (my precious files!)

    2. A few assorted books (my own and my favorites)

    3. Family photos & scrapbooks

    Tropical Storm Rita

    It looks like Galveston and Houston didn't suffer much damage; and I see folks are returning to Houston already.  The gridlock stories are distressing, and I'm afraid that next time some people won't evacuate.  That happens a lot.  I still don't understand why both lanes weren't utilized for evacuaees.  Why was it impractical?   And I admire those firemen fighting fires in a hurricane.  Still waiting for news from the hard hit areas...  And there are three tropical waves from Africa heading in our direction.

    Friday, September 23, 2005

    Serenity lands September 30!

    Joss Whedon's Serenity (Firefly TV series movie) will be in theatres September 30.  Serenity review link:"

    Thursday, September 22, 2005

    Flooring basics (link)

    "Flooring can be one of the biggest expenses in furnishing your interiors, making it well worth all the planning time and attention you give it. But before you even begin to decide among the colors and textures you would like to use, consider the basics."  Link:

    Decorating : Other : Flooring Basics : Home & Garden Television  (From HGTV website)

    Rita update

    Rita's dropped from a category 5 to a 4, but seems to be strengthening again; and its course has shifted east.  Landfall is now predicted for late Friday night or early Saturday morning.  Here we're still getting rain bands; and in Houston it's 99 degrees and sunny. 

    Protecting From Rain While Roof Is Open (link)

    For new construction, it's not so much of a problem, but with remodelling...: Protecting house from rain while roof is open - Topic Powered by Groupee Community.:

    From HGTVProFile newsletter

    Wednesday, September 21, 2005

    Rita update

    Rita's already a category 5!  They weren't expecting that yet, though now they're expecting it to drop to a 4 before making landfall; and the computer models are pretty much agreeing on the direction--towards Galveston and Houston.  And gas prices are predicted to rise again.  The Texas refineries are at sea level?!  There are only four names left: Stan, Tammy, Vince, and Wilma.  After they run out of names, they will begin using Greek letters.

    Tuesday, September 20, 2005

    Katrina Wreaks Havoc on Contractors' Future (link)

    Gulf Coast builders are prioritizing repair needs: News : Industry News : Katrina Wreaks Havoc on Contractors' Future :

    Hurricane Rita

    Rita is a category 1 hurricane now, and we're getting some wind and clouds and even a little shower this morning.  The track has changed again...  I saw on the noon weather that at least one person, and his little dog too, didn't evacuate from Key West.  Btw, my parents honeymooned in Key West, and years later I got to see where their honeymoon cottage had been before a hurricane took it out to sea.  Here's a link to my radar: Tampa, Florida Radar Loop by Intellicast

    Audiobooks (links)

    Here are links to two columns about audiobooks by Kelley Hartsell:

    Fresh Fiction: Kelley's Faves  (part I)

     Fresh Fiction: Kelley's Faves  (part II: Readers' opinions)




    Sunday, September 18, 2005

    Tropical Storms Phillippe & Rita

    I've been busy the past few days and haven't looked at any weather reports, and suddenly TD 18 is TS Rita (expected to become a hurricane), which is heading for the Gulf, and TS Phillippe (named before Rita and also expected to become a hurricane) should head east. 

    Thursday, September 15, 2005

    House Market Madness (link)

    What's a house worth?  That depends on where it is!  Find out what happens when you move a house, the same house, around the country.  (You enter your house's description...)  Link: House Market Madness : Home & Garden Television

    Wednesday, September 14, 2005

    Hurricane documentaries

    The History Channel has run a number of hurricane documentaries recently.  One was about Category 5 hurricanes--very interesting.  They also had documentaries on Katrina (already!), Galveston, and the Lake Pontchartrain causeway.  I saw two different views of the Galveston weather forecaster...

    House-building anecdote

    I mention in my house book that since I lived on site, I learned that window screens aren't installed until the end of the building process so they're not damaged, so I didn't have screens in the bedroom I camped out in until a couple colorful spiders started running around the bedroom and spinning webs.  Then I put screens in all that room's windows except for the one that the temporary power line came in from the temp pole.  Fortunately Xena didn't realize she could use the windows as doors until shortly before the screens were installed in the whole house.  She had just begun jumping out of the windows when they put the screens in.  So one day, and I'm glad I was there to see it, she tried to jump out the office window--not realizing there was a screen there; and she bounced back and fell on the floor.  Even though the screen caused her to rebound off it, it did fall out.  I whipped outside and put it back in before she tried again.  I was really grateful it stopped her because escape artists are dogs who realize that if they keep persevering, they will succeed.

    Tuesday, September 13, 2005

    Katrina's Residential Impact

    Washington, Sept. 2 /PRNewswire

    The full extent of the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the overall economy and on the housing market is still unclear. The immediate focus is properly on human life and health, but the number of homes destroyed by this catastrophe is almost certain to dwarf the losses from any previous U.S. natural disaster. Past experience, together with the visible devastation, provides some basis for projecting the effects on construction activity, the supply and cost of building materials and construction labor, and other implications for the housing market.

    Loss of nearly 200,000 homes in New Orleans alone
    The number of housing units destroyed (made uninhabitable and beyond economically justified repair) by Hurricane Andrew in 1992 was estimated at over 28,000; the combined effect of Hurricanes Jeanne, Ivan, Frances, and Charley in 2004 was nearly 27,500, according to estimates by the American Red Cross. Most of that destruction was caused by winds or the immediate force of the storm surge. The number of homes with major but reparable damage was more than twice the number destroyed.

    ... the flooding in New Orleans, Mobile, and elsewhere is likely to translate into much larger numbers of homes destroyed. ...

    For more: News : Industry News : NAHB Releases Study on Impact of Katrina :

    Monday, September 12, 2005

    Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook

    Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook was on the Barnes & Noble's new house book best seller list earlier this year, and is now # 4 on this Barnes &Noble list: Barnes & Books / Home & Garden / House & Home / Home - Do-It-Yourself / Architecture, Domestic->Amateurs' manuals

    Friday, September 9, 2005

    I think I'm going to make my deadlines!

    I finished rewriting two stories for two different anthologies tonight.  Now I have to send them both off and wait to hear from the editor.  Btw, thanks to oino sakai for letting me use two of his scifaiku in my The Big Black (the SF anthology) story.

    Storm updates

    Ophelia, after lingering off Florida's east coast, is finally moving away, though it may curve back and hit us next week.  The computer models are still all over the map--east, west, north, and loop the loop.  Hurricanes Maria & Nate have left the building.

    Tuesday, September 6, 2005

    TD 16/TS Ophelia

    TD 16 will probably become Tropical Storm Ophelia tomorrow and possibly a hurricane Thursday.  There's already a Tropical Storm warning and watch up for Florida's east coast.  The computer models show it going west, north, or east.

    Monday, September 5, 2005

    Vampires of the Scarlet Order

    David Summers is the editor of my audiobook, Sugar Time; and he's also a writer.  His latest book is Vampires of the Scarlet Order.  Check out the reviews of this intriguing book:

    “We now have our very own Southwestern vampire lore and tradition thanks to the imagination and painstaking research of Summers...” S. Derrickson Moore, The Las Cruces Sun-News

    “This is a fun book to sink your teeth into and a good addition to libraries of those readers with a taste for inventive vampire fiction.”  Roy van der Aa, The Ink.  You can read Roy’s complete review at:

    Fred Cleaver of the Denver Post declares that Vampires of the Scarlet Order is a fine novel.  Read his complete review at:

    Upcoming book signings:

    Tuesday, September 20 from 5-8pm at Hastings in Las Cruces, NM
    Saturday, October 8 from 1-4pm at Borders at Winrock Mall in Albuquerque, NM
    Saturday, October 29 from 2-5pm at Borders on Zafarano Drive in Santa Fe, NM



    Wabi-sabi is "the Japanese philosophy of appreciating the imperfect, the primitive, the incomplete."  There's an interesting article on it, The Simplest Beauty, in the Fall 2005 issue of Beautiful Homes. 

    New storm news

    Maria is a category 2 hurricane now and isn't expected to make landfall.  TD 15 may become Nate.  And the tropical wave off the Bahamas and our east coast may become TD 16; models have it going north or east.  It looks like it'll be giving us wind and rain in a day or two.

    Friday, September 2, 2005

    Flipping houses

    Flipping a house can mean buying a home, fixing it up, and selling it for a profit.  It can also mean buying a home in hopes of making a profit down the line; this kind of speculation could affect the housing market statistics...  For an interesting look at house flipping, watch Flip That House on the Discovery channel on Thursday nights and other times.  Also, the October issue of Consumer Reports has a little piece on condo flipping.

    Thursday, September 1, 2005

    Storm updates

    Lee is back to a tropical depression; TD 14 may become Maria, but it should move away from the US; but the wave off Africa has the most potential.

    High tech appliances

    Oven that refrigerates
    There are several “smart” ovens on the market that refrigerate food prior to cooking, then turn on at the specified time so it’s ready when you come home. Some have an Internet connection so you can use your cell phone to delay start time if you’re stuck in traffic; others go into warming mode after cooking is done.

    Clothes-washing sink
    If you wear a lot of handwashables, here’s a sink for you. Like a hot tub, a jetted sink has a deep-basin and agitates the water, so it takes less effort to clean your delicates and small loads.

    From HomeOwner Tips e-newsletter (August 29 issue)

    Wednesday, August 31, 2005

    Katrina update

    A friend in Canada says that the remnants of Katrina are in Quebec now--wind and rain with more rain coming.  And who would have thought that it could get worse in New Orleans...

    Tuesday, August 30, 2005

    Magistria: The Realm of the Sorcerer

    My story, Seedlings, is in Magistria: Realm of the Sorcerer, which is available from lulu: .MAGISTRIA: REALM OF THE SORCERER by G. W. Thomas (Book) in Books > Fiction & Literature > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Epic Fa... 

    I'm working on the sequel, Crystal Quest, now.

    Monday, August 29, 2005

    Tropical Storm Katrina

    Katrina dropped from a 5 to a 4 just before making landfall (three landfalls all together) and is now a tropical storm.  I've seen footage of the flooding and damage, and it's devastating.  Meanwhile, TD 13 seems to be fizzling, but we have to keep an eye on TD 14.

    NYC townhouse

    Townhouse in Harlem, a neighborhood with lots of beautiful buildings.  Photo by G. Miki Hayden

    Sunday, August 28, 2005

    Your new house folder

    In your new house idea folder, collect helpful articles and pictures from magazines to share with your contractor.  (In  a recent Log Homes Illustrated (September issue) article, a contractor said that a client's articles often contained the manufacturer's information so they were able to locate the product easily.) 


    Katrina update 4

    It looks like Katrina's going to make landfall as a category 5 hurricane.  The Weather Channel says this is unprecedented.  As I recall from reports, only three category 5 hurricanes have made landfall in the US (in recorded history)--Andrew, Camille, and an unnamed storm.  We got more rain from rain bands today.  Lots of standing water around the countryside, but it's not bad here.  Even the local swamps aren't that high here.  And there are two tropical waves coming off Africa; one is already TD13 and could become Lee.


    I came across Stormscaping: Landscaping to Minimize Wind Damage in Florida by Pamela Crawford (Florida Gardening Series, Vol. 3) today at Historic Bok Sanctuary (formerly Bok Tower Gardens).  Looks good. 

    Saturday, August 27, 2005

    Architectural salvage


    If you're thinking about building or remodelling, you could start browsing architectural salvage stores now.  For more information, here's the link for Architectural Salvage News: Architectural Salvage

    We were at Florida Victorian Architectural Antiques in DeLand today, btw.  They have a huge selection of indoor and outdoor architectural pieces!  We've bought a few things there over the years, including our green 1920s pedestal bathroom sink.  (The sink is much greener than it looks in this photo.)  Here's their website link: FLORIDA VICTORIAN ARCHITECTURAL ANTIQUES | Vintage building & house materials and parts

    House specs

    Be ready to give your contractor your specifications.  What kind of flooring, walls, windows, trim, cabinets and hardware, countertops, electrical and plumbing fixtures, etc.?  What about materials, finishes, and dimensions.  Learn what the symbols on your blueprints mean.  How will everything be attached?  Find out the model numbers, etc. of your appliances.  Walk around your current home; look at everything and make notes in a notebook.  Don't let your eyes slide over the things you take for granted.  Now's the time to get the things you've been wanting for years. 

    Katrina update 3

    Katrina's a category 3 hurricane now and still heading west.  It's supposed to turn north...  We're getting rain bands--mostly clouds.

    Friday, August 26, 2005

    Katrina update 2

    Katrina is now a category 2 and may be a category 3 or 4 when it makes landfall.  It dropped south a bit before heading north.  It'll be paralleling Florida--further west than predicted.  (You can never tell what a hurricane will do.)  We're getting some rain bands or at least clouds. 

    Katrina update

    Katrina has crossed the tip of the penisula and should be heading north soon.

    Thursday, August 25, 2005

    Hurricane Katrina

    We've started getting rain bands from Katrina, which is only a category 1 now.  Further south they're getting more wind and rain. 

    Tuesday, August 23, 2005

    Tropical Depression 12

    TD12, which may have formed from remnants of TD10 (they're not sure so they named it 12), is headed for the east coast of Florida and may become Katrina and possibly a category 1 hurricane.

    Saturday, August 20, 2005

    Building glitches

    Five subdivisions are on hold here because the waste treatment plant is at capacity.  (It's in the process of upgrading.)  Some houses have their foundations up, and it must be very frustrating for them.  And it'll probably cost them financially.  I heard recently that a couple whose house was put on hold for a year got priced out of the market.  They had bought a lot, but now may have to sell it.  Lots of things to think about when you're getting ready to build. 

    Tuesday, August 16, 2005

    Does rain damage framing?

    This is a good question.  I always wonder about it when I see an unroofed house with framing.  Check out the replies on HGTVPro's webpage: Does rain damage framing? - Topic Powered by Groupee Community

    Sunday, August 14, 2005

    Flooding in Florida

    Bill Bair says in his column in the Sunday paper, "There may be disadvantages to an old Florida home, but flooding is not one of them.  The old settlers built when land was plentiful and they built well off the water...  It is rare to see a home built in the 1920s threatened by floods."  [See Hurricanes & Development post.]

    Hurricane Irene

    Irene is now a hurricane, but she's heading away from the coast; and tropical depression #10 has fizzled.  A year ago on August 13 I was eating lunch in a boarded up Cracker Barrel as Charley approached.

    Friday, August 12, 2005

    Cake vs. Pie. If there can be only one, ...

    I'd have to vote for pie--Key Lime pie (only if it's yellow), Lemon Meringue pie, rhubarb pie, ...  I've always liked pie better than cake, unless it's an ice cream cake from Baskin Robbins or Mom's carrot cake with cream cheese frosting!  OK, if I have to make a choice, it's pie.

    Building a Cool House...

    I've lived in homes which include the projects in Tampa (before A/C), a college dorm in Oshkosh, apartments in Boston, and a variety of houses.  When the opportunity came to build my own home, I knew it'd be a challenge, but I'd have what I wanted.  Moving in before the house was finished gave me an on-site appreciation of the housing process.  In Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook, I share what I've learned about the thousands of decisions you need to make while building and keeping in your budget.  The book includes excerpts from my diary (I had a lot of time while sitting in a house with only a temp power pole), photos, my house plan (well, an architect helped), and what's involved in building your home from the planning to the punch list and beyond.  (There's always something you'll want to change.  Read my book and keep those changes to a minimum!)

    Thursday, August 11, 2005

    Pretty Pink Planet cover art

    Pretty Pink Planet was the cover story in an audiobook, which is no longer available, but I always liked the artwork so I thought I'd share it.  It made a nifty tee shirt, btw.

    Wednesday, August 10, 2005

    Hurricanes and development

    In today's paper, Tom Palmer's environmental column is about the recently published book, Land of Sunshine, State of Dreams: A Social History of Modern Florida.  A proverb is quoted from the book: Hurricanes are nature's way of making Floridians learn geography.  Sounds like an interesting book.

    Monday, August 8, 2005

    Decorating quiz (link)

    From Oprah's website: What kind of decorator are you?:  'O at Home' Spring 2005

    Sunday, August 7, 2005

    Kitchen & bath workbook

    I got the NKBA kitchen & bath consumer workbook recently.  It has lots of interesting information, plus a worksheet.  I ordered it from their website: National Kitchen & Bath Association: Get a FREE Workbook!

    Sword & Sorcery anthology (edited by G.W. Thomas)

    Why don't you tell us a little about the origins and content of your new anthology? Do you think sword and sorcery readers will find it of interest?

    Magistria: Realm of The Sorcerer is a shared world collection in a day and age when books like this just don't happen anymore. I missed the old days of Thieves' World and thought why not? I came up with a fairly simple idea, a goddess burst into a billion shards, spreading magic all over the world. I didn't want to dictate to the writers but give them a jumping-off point. The concept the book is built on is that the world is ruled by different types of mages, each manipulating a single element: water, air, fire, metal, etc.

    For the rest of the interview: Sword & Sorcery - your resource for fiction, interviews, articles, information and more

    Saturday, August 6, 2005

    Tropical Depression 9

    Tropical Depression #9 is predicted to become Tropical Storm Irene and then Hurricane Irene.  It should miss us.  Btw, the line fence that got whacked by a big oak limb when Hurricane Jeanne blew through was fixed Friday.  Lots of houses still have roof tarps and missing shingles and not all the trees have been taken down...

    Wednesday, August 3, 2005

    Kitchen space (link)

    Decorating : Kitchen : A Small But Efficient Kitchen : Home & Garden Television

    Tropical Storm Harvey

    Harvey is moving away from the States and shouldn't affect us, but it's giving Bermuda rain.  This is the earliest eighth named storm in recorded history, btw.

    Tuesday, August 2, 2005

    Preparing to sell

    From the Consumer How-To Guide:

    Make sure your front entrance is clean and inviting.

    Clean your windows.

    Dispose of time-worn outdoor furnishings and trim.

    Keep the grounds neatly landscaped.

    Create a roomy feel in all parts of the house.

    Ensure that all plumbing works properly.

    Clean the bathrooms and kitchen meticulously.

    Replace worn miscellaneous items with new ones.

    Get your carpets and floors professionally cleaned.

    Eliminate dust and odors.

    Tour model homes in your area for decorating ideas.

    Look at your home through a buyer's eyes.


    Sunday, July 31, 2005

    Saving energy

    More than 90 percent of the energy produced by incandescent lights is heat, not light, so replace fixtures with more efficient bulbs. Compact fluorescent bulbs fit into an incandescent socket and operate on a quarter of the energy used by incandescents, lasting ten times longer.

    From: Home Owner Tips Newsletter

    Friday, July 29, 2005

    House framing

    This is one of my favorite photos from the house building process.  I love the sun and shadows.  (It's one of the photos in my house book.)

    Monday, July 25, 2005

    New roof options (link)

    Shopping for a new roof? You have a wide range of options when choosing a new roof. We’ll review the major ones here: HouseMaster eNewsletter

    Sunday, July 24, 2005

    Storm updates

    Franklin went east, and Gert went west, but we're supposed to get the remnants of a Saharan sandstorm, which will give us brighter sunsets. 

    Helpful house book

    This book helps you plan your new home and shows you how to save money.  You can buy it from Books: Building a Cool House for Hot Times Without Scorching the Pocketbook or Barnes & Noble: Barnes & - Building a Cool House for Hot Times Without Scorching the Pocketbook

    Friday, July 22, 2005

    Tropical Storm Franklin

    It looks like Franklin may meander and make a loop as Jeanne did.

    Wednesday, July 20, 2005

    Great American Backyard Campout!

    Discover a wild new world in your own backyard!

    Gather family, friends and neighbors-- the first ever Great American Backyard Campout is coming! On August 20th, folks all across America will come together in backyards, parks, and camps to enjoy a night of star-gazing, listening for nocturnal wildlife, and exploring a whole other world right in your backyard.

    Be part of this nation-wide event! Add your campsite today and we’ll help you make the most of your event with packing lists, recipes, nocturnal wildlife guides, exploration activities, a night sky-guide, local weather and more.

    The Great American Backyard Campout is brought to you by the National Wildlife Federation® (NWF).

    See: Great American Backyard Campout

    What the Best-Dressed Walls are Wearing

    What do chocolate brown, bright blue, and melon all have in common? Each is a color that will be gaining in popularity during 2005. As part of its annual color forecast, the Rohm and Haas Paint Quality Institute shared paint palette trends that will enliven living spaces inside and out.  Incorporating these colors certainly will keep your homes and projects on the cutting edge of design and color options:

  • Caribbean Brights. Color rich with a tropical flair will increase in use.
  • The New Whites. ... , soft whites will allow for restful and serene contemplation.
  • Deeptone Hues.This hearty palette began to develop a following in 2004. 
  • Brushed metallic surfaces. Replacing those shiny brass finishes used in the past. soft pewter, mellow copper and brushed nickel are the perfect complements...
  • From: Design Trends

    Friday, July 15, 2005

    Thursday, July 14, 2005

    The greenest home in Florida

    Casa Verde, a contemporary home in the Venetian Golf & Country Club, a gated community just outside Venice, currently ranks as the Greenest Home in Florida, according to the Florida Green Building Coalition (FGBC).  It's a display model in a community near lots of green space.  There's an interesting article on it in the spring issue of Florida Travel & Life.

    Wednesday, July 13, 2005

    House upgrades

    Discussion link: Do upgrades help you sell? - Topic Powered by Infopop



    Tropical Storm Emily

    Emily is scheduled to become a hurricane today; it isn't expected to come near Florida.

    Tuesday, July 12, 2005

    Choose your colors now!

    It's never too early to start looking at colors for your new home.

    Wildlife quiz link

    Ten questions on dealing sensibly with wildlife:  What Would You Do?

    Sunday, July 10, 2005

    Hurricane Dennis update

    Hurricane Dennis gave us 3.60" of rain and some strong wind gusts as it went by.  The pond and the swamps around us are way up; the driveway and yard is under water in some places, and we lost a few branches, but we were very fortunate; and I'm glad to see that it wasn't as strong as Ivan when it hit the Panhandle.  (I haven't heard from my relatives there yet...) 

    Friday, July 8, 2005

    Hurricane Dennis update

    We've gotten two inches of rain already, along with lightning and thunder that seemed to go on and on.  We're in a window at the moment, but I see lightning to the south.  That's probably the next band of rain.

    Thursday, July 7, 2005

    Hurricane Dennis

    Hurricane Dennis is headed in our general direction.  In a couple days we'll decide if we fill the bathtub, utility sink, washing machine, buckets, etc. 

    Tuesday, July 5, 2005

    Tropical Storm Dennis

    Bret missed us; Cindy should miss us, but "Meanwhile, Dennis, the fourth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, was centered about 355 miles south of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and moving west-northwest at about 18 mph. It had top sustained wind of 40 mph.

    It was on track to reach Haiti on Wednesday and South Florida on Friday, said hurricane center meteorologist Trisha Wallace."


    Sunday, July 3, 2005

    Kitchen and bath website

    I came across the National Kitchen & Bath Association in the August Country Living.  The website has interesting links, and you can get a free workbook.  (I just sent for one; there's a short survey.)  Link: National Kitchen & Bath Association: Turn Your Dreams Into Reality

    Thursday, June 30, 2005

    Lyn McConchie interview

    My interview with Lyn McConchie is in the July issue of the writing e-zine, Expressions: Expressions 61

    Wednesday, June 29, 2005

    Sub floor problem (link)

    "We recently pulled up the carpet in our 1903 home to find the sub floor in bad condition. Not only does it have gaps, but it goes "downhill" towards the walls,  ..."

    Link: Uneven sub-floor - Topic Powered by Infopop

    Friday, June 24, 2005

    Oasis 18 con report link

    My Oasis con report is available at the Other Worlds Cafe website: O*W*C : Resources : Conventions : Reports : Oasis 18 '05  , and it will be in the next issue of the Southern Fandom Confederation Bulletin.

    Sales glitches

    In Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook, I mention some of the problems that can hamper home building or sales.  For instance, the eagle nest that delayed the building process and cost the builders money.  Recently I learned of another possible problem.  In Washington state, Snohomish county, it's illegal to sell private property that had a known, but lost, grave site.  Especially if it was a native American.  America's Indian laws on burials are much more strict than any other race of people.  Proper burials for ancestors is a priority and enforced with multiple national laws.".  A lot of people from the previous generation (at least out there) just buried their loved ones 'out back', many never kept records of precisely where. One guy, desperate to sell, brought in bulldozers and backhoes and tore up his whole back yard before finding it.  (This was on the Tulalip reservation.) 

    Wednesday, June 22, 2005

    Concrete exterior framing

    What is the most pratical and economical concrete framing method?  Link:

    most economical concrete exterior framing practice? - Topic Powered by Infopop



    Thursday, June 16, 2005

    Saturday, June 11, 2005

    Tropical Depression Arlene

    Arlene has made landfall, and the last advisory has been issued.  We got a lot of rain and some wind.  There appears to be minor damage in our area.  And there doesn't seem to be any real potential in that newest wave in the Caribbean..

    Friday, June 10, 2005

    Helpful house book

    My book, Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook, was on the Barnes & Noble's new house book best seller list and got a rave review from The Midwest Book Review;  it was on the Reviewer's Choice list in the February issue of "Small Press Bookwatch."    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.   It can be ordered online from Books: Building a Cool House for Hot Times Without Scorching the Pocketbook and  Barnes & - Building a Cool House for Hot Times Without Scorching the Pocketbook 

    Tropical Storm Arlene

    Arlene is giving us even more rain; and flood watches are up.  We're fine here; the pond still has a way to go before it overflows; and we don't have to worry about flushing the toilet because our septic system--The Mesa--is way high.  If it ever floods here, it'll probably be covered with critters.

    Starting Small

    The High Ground column in the August issue of Horticulture is about the benefits of planting small trees and plants--something we've always done because one of the benefits is that it's cheaper!  

    Friday, June 3, 2005

    Your dog's home

    Puppies prefer to be outside, don't they? Many people believe that given a choice dogs would prefer to be outside. This isn't true - not of adult dogs or puppies. Your puppy is pack-oriented and if you're inside he doesn't want to be left in the backyard on his own. However, if you're outside, he's happy to be in the backyard - because that's where you are. If you're at work your pup will feel more secure in the house, which is his den. If your pup is left outside for extended periods other animals, or storms that he has no protection from, may frighten or injure him. Some puppies develop behavioral problems when they are turned out of their den on a daily basis. Get more information on puppies that live outside. From: Your PEDIGREE® Puppy Scoops newsletter

    Thursday, June 2, 2005

    Greener Choices link

    Greener Choices: Products for a Better Planet:

    Top Ten Short Story-SF (Preditors & Editors poll)

    My short story, To The Last Drop! (published in pseudoSF), was #10 in the Preditors and Editors Poll: Short Story: SF


    Wednesday, June 1, 2005

    Saving water

    Green Tip: Saving Water Saves Our Rivers
    A leaky sink can lose 50 gallons of water in just 24 hours. Likewise, hosing down patios and sidewalks wastes water and can carry contaminants into rivers and other waterways. Fix leaks as quickly as possible and sweep patios and sidewalks in order to minimize this unnecessary use of water.
    Learn More about Protecting Our Rivers>>
    Get More Green Tips>>

    From The Nature Conservancy e-mail

    Tuesday, May 31, 2005

    The House That Jill Built

    THE HOUSE THAT JILL BUILT: A WOMAN'S GUIDE TO HOME BUILDING by Judy Ostrow (Gibbs Smith, 9 3/4 x 9 3/4, 140 color photographs and 20 illustrations, 166 pages, softcover, $24.95, 1-558685-459-3, May): success stories, plans covering designing and groundbreaking to occupancy, and details on equipment, legalities, and resources are presented from a female perspective.

    From ForeWord This Week 6.2.05

    Monday, May 30, 2005

    Selling Your Home hint

    I read in the Smart Moves column by Ellen James Martin that "Many real estate specialists no longer advocate the use of air fresheners and scented candles.  There should be no odors or smells--not even sweet potpourri.  ...a lot of people have allergies to these scents.  And others will wonder what you're trying to camouflage..."

    Friday, May 27, 2005

    Thursday, May 26, 2005

    Tuesday, May 24, 2005

    Magistria: The Realm of the Sorcerer blurb

      Magistria: Realm of the Sorcerer, a shared world anthology, is now available in paperback.  My story in this anthology is Seedlings, and it's about Juul, a plant mage, and Skyseeker, her tree companion, other sentient plants and trees, the rescue of Lani's children after their escape, the nurturing of children and plants, and finally their battle against an evil sorcerer and his spider-like creatures as they spit acid and trample the hobble hedge to break through the barriers of the guardian plants. You can check out the anthology at: