Saturday, March 31, 2007

Publication updates

My short story, The Trees of Home, is upcoming in Sorcerous Signals:

My illustrated (Thank you, Andrea!) children's story, Why Won't Anyone Play with Me?, is being considered as a children's book.

A story I contributed to*, along with others, "Dawn, and Sunset, and the Colours of the Earth" by Michael F. Flynn (Asimov¹s, December 2006) has been nominated for a Hugo in the novelette category.  (His novel, Eifelheim, was also nominated.)

And a friend's science article about life on other planets is up: Darker Matter - Is There Life Out There? by I. E. Lester  (It's the beginning of a series, and the introduction is excellent; I love the SF classics he begins with; and he corrects the canale misconception.)

*I was a poster (Well, actually I'm two--Pagadan and Velvet) in one segment of the story.  Mr. Flynn asked posters on his AOL SF Authors board to write posts ... .  I wish people could see all the posts!  He had to edit them for length; and the way he wove them into the story with a fictional character's posts was fantastic!


Thursday, March 29, 2007

A potpourri of decorating ideas

I entered a Decorate Your Bedroom Like a Garden contest some time ago, and among other things, I used a concrete bench at the end of a bed and a bird bath for a bedside table.  The room was already stenciled with lots of flowers so that worked.  Then I brought in a potting bench and put books on it. 
Using old doors as paneling for a room is an old idea, but I came across it again recently in a Better Homes & Garden mailing.  And they said that the combination of chocolate and aqua is in.  (I'd read somewhere earlier that brown was hot.) 
And in a home magazine not long ago, they used a brightly striped pink queen size sheet as a dust ruffle.  It looked beautiful.  (Pink is one of my favorite colors.)  I've been using queen sized sheets as throws on the sofa for ages.
In the latest Gaiam Living catalog, I saw a Rise and Shine lamp.  Timed light gradually brightens the room and the sounds of nature wake you.  I like that idea!  (It includes a radio and alarm clock and costs $199.)
For decorating your food, thyme is the next trendy herb.  It can go on every course, including dessert.  (I gleaned this from the food section in the paper.)  For more recipes, go to
Btw, I didn't win the contest, but I still have a concrete bench at the end of my bed.  You do learn to move carefully around it, but it stands up well to dogs jumping on and off it.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Mysterious light/plumbing combination (discussion link)

This sounds strange and dangerous:

"When going to bed, my client turns on the dining room light, which sometimes instantly causes serious banging of the plumbing...."

Link: Pipes bang when light switch turned on - Topic Powered by eve community   (From



House engineering

Should you be worrying that your house might fall down?  There's an article, In Good Standing, by an engineer in the May issue of Log Homes Illustrated.  It focuses on log homes because "Log homes are becoming more complex....  They are now three stories tall with multiple fireplaces, ..., heated floors, ... and party-sized hot tubs on decks..."  

Footings and posts are carrying big loads!  And an ounce of prevention is worth thinking about even though it's expensive.  If you've seen those monster log homes in the log home magazines, you can see what a load is being carried.  Hopefully, the ground's been tested; I think those logs will really twist if there's much settling.  A friend who built a log home wanted a bigger back porch--and that thing is huge!--so she had to order longer beams.  I have no idea what kind of foundation she has.  I think it's sitting on the ground so there are no posts; and though it's big, it's not the lodge-type home with loads of windows that are so popular now.  Homeowners are adding more and more to their homes while often subtracting walls!  And even in a stick or masonry built home, check and see if those walls are load-bearing!   

Monday, March 26, 2007

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Architecture of the Imagination

"It had a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle.  The door opened on to a tube-shaped hall like a tunnel ... with lots of pegs for hats and coats ...."

From The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

"Lucy thought she'd never been in a nicer place.  It was a little, dry, clean cave of reddish stone with a carpet on the floor and two little chairs ... and a table and a dresser and a mantlepiece over the fire and above that a picture of an old Faun with a grey beard."

From The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis



Kitchen islands, sinks, and appliances

On the Showcase pages, What's Cooking?, also in the May 2007 Log Homes Illustrated, is a beautiful Japaneses style island with sink from Greentea Design.  It's made of solid, reclaimed hardwood with sliding doors and drawers that you can access from both sides.  I'm not sure what the countertop is; it's metal and goes with the wood and hardware perfectly.  I really love it.  I've never been interested in the trendy furniture look before.

Another article on kitchens, Kickin' Kitchens, quotes a kitchen designer, Burns Century, who says that instead of the old work triangle, "we prefer to create work stations which flow in a circle with an island in the middle,".  Another designer, Ines Hani, lists six kitchen zones: Hot Zone, Cold zone, Island, Breakfast zone, Beverage zone, and Office-desk zone.  [I think kitchens are getting bigger.]

And there are more choices for countertops, sinks, and appliances.  You can get countertops in soapstone, granite, wood, quartz, French pewter, copper, and zinc ("a beautiful alternative to stainless steel").  Sinks come in soapstone, manufactured quartz materials, copper, granite, solid bronze, and Fireclay.  And there are kickplates for turning the water on.  And there are more choices now in refrigerator, freezers, and stoves.   


Friday, March 23, 2007

Kitchen ideas

There are some interesting kitchen design and appliance ideas in the May issue of Log Homes Illustrated.  An article mentions that linoleum is making a comeback; and it's greener (more eco friendly) than vinyl.  I knew it was becoming more available, and I've been thinking that I'd like that in my next house, but I didn't know it was a better environmental choice.  And the article, Natural Cooking, mentions that kitchen cabinets are often constructed from particle board, which is strong, but can contain formaldehyde, which is released as long as the cabinet exists. 

Some countertops, the article says, are made from paper--recycled or not.  I didn't know that.  And Formica is less damaging to the environment than granite (freshly harvested) and other stone products.  The article also covers appliances; side-by-side refrigerator/freezer combos let more cold air out when the doors are open than a stacked unit does.  There's more info on lighting, heat and air circulation too. 

Rex A. Ewing's off-the-grid article, Sunny Side Up, also takes a look at appliances, and the difference between gas and electric stoves.  Does your gas range have a glow bar?  Oh, oh.  That can use a lot of electricity.  (I'd never even heard of a glow bar before!)  Remember pilot lights?  There are two different kinds.  Be sure you get the right kind for energy saving.  He also looks at slow cookers and dishwashers.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Top 10 Building Technologies (link)

PATH predicts the fortunes of 10 new building technologies.

Predicting the future is a tricky business, but that didn't stop researchers at the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH) from forecasting the fortunes of 10 new building technologies at the 2007 International Builders Show in February.

Link: News : Trends : Construction's Crystal Ball: PATH's Top 10 Technologies :

Mold and mildew in house (discussion link)

We have a four room, concrete block house, stucco over blocks. We are plagued with mold and mildew, we use clorox to clean the walls but it comes back. The roof has to ventillation fans.

Would putting vinyl siding or installing central heat and air solve this problem.  ...

Link: mold and mildew - Topic Powered by eve community  (From

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Building a new house

It's time to build a new house again.  I love the old one, but we're planning to downsize (the land, not the house) and move further north.  So, we're browsing north Florida.  We want a smaller city, but not too small... 
Update: We thought about an acre (we have five acres now), but we're really tired of planting, mowing, watering, fighting weeds and fire ants, etc., so we decided on a half acre lot that's almost perfect; and it should have privacy behind it, plus a nice view from the back porch.  (It's not real far from Gainesville.  If we'd located further west, we could have done our shopping in Thomasville, Georgia.)  Now we're dealing with the paperwork on that.
The next step will be house plans.  We decided to work with our old house plans, with a few changes.  That'll cost more, but we wanted to fix a few things; the house will be a little bigger because of that.  We found a builder who is also a realtor.  He's the one who found us our lot and drove us around the countryside looking at other lots.  (He also brought up on his computer the lots I'd found in the real estate guides.)
I was hoping that our next house would be sited the same way this one is, with the back porch protecting us (along with the cathedral oak, which I'm going to miss) from the east sun and the front porch protecting us from the west.  At least the west side of the house has fewer windows and maybe the garage will be on that side.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Study on life span of house components (link)

By any reckoning, a home is expected to last many years and serve several successive generations. But what about the individual components that comprise the house? How many years of service can a home owner reasonably expect from a roof or a door, a window or a whirlpool tub?   ...

"By polling experts in a wide range of fields, we learned that many home components are expected to last for the life of the house," he said. "Among them are toilets, wood floors, all types of insulation, and fiberglass, steel and wood exterior doors. On the other hand, some components have a much shorter life expectancy. Wood decks should last about 20 years, depending on climate, and kitchen faucets should last about 15 years. Linoleum floors have a life expectancy of about 25 years, and furnaces can be expected to last 15 to 20 years,"

Link: News : Materials : NAHB Study Sheds Light on Home Component Lifespans :

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

PVC trim

What do you do if you're in charge of PR for a company in a
sluggish industry?

That's the dilemma Kleber & Associates faced recently when the
marketing and communications company promoted its client, KOMA Trim Products, a leading manufacturer of wood alternative trim.

The trim, made of PVC, is typically used around windows and
corners of buildings. It's superior to wood and more expensive
because it resists moisture and insect damage, making it ideal
for the home construction industry.

But that industry is limping along. So Kleber suggested looking
instead at an industry that's red hot. In this case, home

KOMA targeted high-end home remodelers and issued a challenge:
How can you take a flat piece of PVC trim and reinvent it?

Enter Peter Luciani who took the challenge far beyond what KOMA could have ever dreamed possible.

"He glued boards and started turning them into ballisters,"
president Steve Kleber said. "He carved them into corbels, an
architectural bracket used to support a cornice, arch or hold up
a shelf. He used them to create cupolas and outdoor furniture."

For his efforts, KOMA anointed Peter "Building Professional of
the Year" and brought him to their booth at the International
Builders Show in Orlando in February. There, he gave media
interviews, answered questions from those who visited the booth
and discussed new interior uses for KOMA products.

"He taught the manufacturer applications that the manufacturer
didn't understand were important in the marketplace," Steve said.
"Now, they're generating new ideas."

The trade publications loved the story. Peter was suddenly a
star. KOMA's booth created a buzz at the show. And Kleber &
Associates found a clever way to promote a high-end product in a
sluggish industry by issuing a challenge to a new target

From: Publicity Hound:

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Warped wood floor in kitchen caused by leak? (discussion link)

They just finished installing our new kitchen and I have several boards in front of the sink and dishwasher that are warped/curled....

Link: warped hardwood floor - Topic Powered by eve community  (from

Practical energy saving (link)

Headlines today can put home buyers in a frenzy to contend with global warming, preserve natural resources, and help the United States become energy-independent. But according to architect and sustainable-building advocate Peter Pfeiffer, AIA, common sense, not the latest innovation, may prove a more practical approach to building economical, energy-friendly homes.

"It's about five to 10 times quicker return on the investment to do energy conservation than create a new form of energy production," said Pfeiffer during a lecture at the 2006 Energy and Environmental Building Association's (EEBA) Excellence in Building Conference and Expo. "What this means for builders is that it is much cheaper to build a home that consumes less energy than to build a home that tries to be an energy producer through solar collectors or a wind-powered system on the roof."

For more specific info: News : Trends : Green Building: Getting Past the Media Hype :

Monday, March 5, 2007


A recent issue of Remodeling & Makeovers (Woman's Day Special Interest Publications, Vol. XVII, Number 1) has two pages of innovative showerheads.  They're moving on beyond the rain showerheads to towers and ceiling panels, one of which includes a multicolored light, an internal radio, a connection for an iPod or CD player, and 96 overhead jets.  No, I don't know how that connection works.  You think 96 is impressive?  Toto has more than 130 nozzles.  And, of course, there are different finishes.  I do like the look of those new square panels--a real change from the round showerheads. 

Friday, March 2, 2007

Mushroom & mold growth in wet carpet (discussion link)

"... my little son played in the soaking tub and got a lot of water outisde the tub on the carpet. 2 weeks after I found a mushroom in my carpeted bathroom;"

Link: Mushroom growth - Topic Powered by eve community  (From

Thursday, March 1, 2007

More toilet problems & solutions (discussion link)

Bubbling toilet:

I have one toilet that bubbles. When the toilet is flushed, about three or four medium to semi-large air bubbles emerge....

Link: Bubbling Toilet - Topic Powered by eve community  (From