Saturday, June 30, 2007

Air conditioner cost increase? (discussion link)

"I heard on a radio talk show that the cost of new AC units will be increasing considerably come the first of next year. Does anyone know...."

Discussion link: New AC cost increasing 20%?? - Topic Powered by eve community

[It sounds like it might be because of a government-mandated energy efficiency standard.  I believe I read somewhere that this happened to washing machines; they don't get clothes as clean as they used to.]

Thursday, June 28, 2007

New flooring update

The Great Hall is almost finished; there's just enough room for me to get into my office.  Right now I'm trying to catch up with everything...  Soon I'll have to close down for probably a couple days (the tile setting and the grouting is a two-step process).  I'm not sure when the entrance tiling will be done.  Patrick's doing a different pattern for each door.  And today we told him about the dreaded "change order"!  Hey, Patrick, how about making a fancy pattern in the kitchen too?  And already he has a plan.  Keeping the dogs off the new tiles isn't easy; and Patrick had to slow down to fix a place where a dog had danced on the tiles.  (Grab his collar!) 

Monday, June 25, 2007

New flooring update

Patrick had planned to work on the tile Saturday, but he got trapped on another job with an inspector, which actually turned out to be a good thing for us because we called a dealer about selling our huge old store cupboard (so we wouldn't have to move it back), and she came today and bought it and the two theatre seats that flanked it. 

Anyway, Patrick came bright and early today and grouted the set tiles and set new ones, and we moved a lot of furniture.  He's almost finished with one side of the Great Hall, and we could move some furniture back to the other side.  Pant, pant.

After he left, the dealer came back with a man to help me move the cupboard into the van, and we did it!  It wasn't as hard as I feared, and we didn't drop it.  (Dragging the two pieces--top and bottom--on old quilts helped.  The dragging and bumping down the front steps wreaked havoc with the quilts though.  We'd taken the heavy drawers out earlier.) 

Patrick will be happy about that, I think, and the fact that we cleared the rest of the furniture out of the next stretch.  I can only hope we find everything we moved and find a place for everything that was stored in the big cupboard--books, sculptures, photo albums, Christmas lights and decorations, and a lot more!

AND I got a start on arranging the furniture that will sit where the cupboard and theatre seats were.  Hmm.  Well, I'll have to do a little more rearranging.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Home products

Closet hanging rods now include fluorescent lights (Outwater); and there are prefabricated plastic grid attic flooring panels.  The Attic Dek product fits through tight attic entries and is ready to install.  (Each panel installs with five screws.)  And there's a new countertop material from Samsung called Staron.  I have to find out more about that.  (I'm researching materials for the countertops in the new house.)

I recently read about the new decking materials in an old issue of Fine Homebuilding.  Those decks are hot to walk on!  And there's a stainproof grout from TrafficMaster.


Friday, June 22, 2007

New flooring update

Patrick made a lot of progress today; I think he'll finish up at least one side tomorrow.  I can't use my bathroom, which is off the Great Hall, but I think I got everything I need out of it.  (We chose the grout color today, btw; it matches the tiles pretty much.)  We can use the first bedroom again; we just have to avoid the grout lines.  (You touched one!)    And then we realized we couldn't reach the fan switches, but eventually--while staring in annoyance at the fan blowing on me--I saw the answer--fan pulls! 

Living in the jumble of furniture and dogs locked in the bedrooms so they don't mess up the tile and grout gives me an inkling of what it'll be like when we move and are in limbo.  But periodically we stand and look at the finished part of the floor.  It's beautiful! 

Thursday, June 21, 2007

New house project: the floor

We've been thinking recently of redoing the floor in the whole house; earlier we'd thought maybe just the Great Hall, but then you have to think about thresholds.  So, since we were happy with the kitchen countertops, we decided to have the contractor do the floors, and we discussed our options.  We decided to go with ceramic tile, and he came up with a great idea for the entrance way.  I'll have to post a picture of that when it's done.

The tile was delivered yesterday, and the contractor came this morning.  He got off to an interesting start when he moved the two Adirondack chairs flanking the front door so he'd have a work space.  Suddenly he was surrounded by wasps, and he did an impressive job of keeping them out of the house (the front door was wide open) while I ran for the wasp spray.  He got them all and the nest.  (It was a biggie.)

Then he started in the Great Hall; he'll work his way down one side and then do the other side.  One of the bedrooms is blocked off while the floor is setting, and there's furniture all over the place.  The dogs have had to be kept locked up so they don't dance on the tiles; and I'm camping out in the dining room.  Tomorrow the monster old store cupboard has to be moved.  Putting things back will be hard 'cause then you can't drag them and scratch the floor.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Building for the environment

As Dwight Holmes (award-winning architect) 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."

The above quote is from Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook (available from Building a Cool House for Hot Times Without Scorching the Pocketbook: Books: Joy V. Smith, B&N: Barnes & - Books: Building a Cool House for Hot Times Without Scorching the Pocketbook, by Joy V. Smith, Paperback, and elsewhere). 

We built for the climate--"hot and humid with possible hurricanes and subsequent loss of power."  As a matter of fact, after Hurricane Jeanne went through and we were without power for about five days (some people were without power for a lot longer than that), we were comfortable in our house, while other people went elsewhere or slept on their porches. 

Our house is an adaptation of early Cracker homes; one example of a Cracker house is Marjorie Rawlings' home.  I have an old article from The Tampa Times (September 17, 1980) by Steve Otto about Rawlings' home at Cross Creek, Florida.  He says, "The house is a typical cracker house of the late 19th century, ...  [It] was built to become a part of the environment, ..., unlike today's tightly constructed blocks that are designed to combat the elements instead of coexist.

It is actually three separate units separated by breezeways.  There are numerous windows and doors to offer cross ventilation, and the kitchen is a separate unit ... ."


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Roomba and Dirt Dog (discussion link)

"I bought a Roomba robot vacuum cleaner last year and recently reviewed IRobot's sweeping robot for the workshop and garage - the Dirt Dog .  ...

Operation couldn't be easier, ..., it criss crosses the room, vacuuming around table legs and under chairs and couches. [It] works well on both hard floors and carpets.  ...

All is not perfect. Lamp cords need to be tied up ... - the Roomba will try to eat the cord. And if you have area rugs with fringe on the ends, it doesn't like those either."

For more (from


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Office space ideas

The Write Space in the August 2007 issue of Writer's Digest looks at the offices of four writers.  One writer/editor, Vendela Vida, has two offices: her home office and the office at her magazine; she says that having a baby doesn't let her stay up late writing any more, but she's more organized.  (And her husband helps with the baby.)  
Lemony Snickett author, Daniel Handler, has a big black desk in his office because he likes "a lot of service area."  His office includes paperweights that "aren't fooling around."  (They're there to work.)  Also, a laptop computer, a can of pencils, a coffee/tea carafe, a 20-volume set of the Oxford English Dictionary, Miss Manners' Guide to Excrutiatingly Correct Behavior, and a really high-backed black chair. 
Richard Adams Carey's office includes an old Gateway computer, a dial-up modem, files, family photos, and lots of music and bookshelves.
Lisa Gardner's office has floor-to-ceiling windows and a great view in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  Her cozy and colorful (cream and deep-red walls) office has a curved desk, an upholstered chair for reading, and no phone.  She's there to work.  (She takes care of the business side of writing at her home office and uses a USB flash drive between the offices.  Great Scott!  I'd forgotten I have one!!)
I am always interested in other writers' offices.  Hmm.  I love a big desk (I have two; my computer desk, which is from the 50s, I think, and has Rosa Bonheur's The Horse Fair over it; and the bottom half of an old roll-top desk); I have only a few books in my office, and one is a dictionary; I have no music--ever--but I'm way too close to the TV; I have lots of file cabinets and four chairs, none of them upholstered.  And I was tickled to see that at least one other writer only has dial-up.  Here are my two desks; the other walls have windows, file cabinets, and chairs (in the corners). 

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Where to build

The August issue (Special Issue: Annual Floorplan Guide) of Log Home Living has a helpful article on where to build your dream home; it looks at twelve welcoming communities around the country, including Silver Cliff, Colorado; Baraboo, Wisconsin; Kerrville, Texas; Flowery Branch, Georgia; and Springfield, Oregon.  The article has photos, statistics, and reasons why you'll love it there. 

New products and home ideas

An old lantern sconce updated with electricity from Old California Lantern Company that has a sleek look, a vessel faucet from Price Pfister that resembles an old-fashioned pump, and a reproduction pie safe from the Southern Craftsmen Guild are perfect for a new or traditional home.  (I found them in the August issue of Log Home Living.)

Also in that issue is a look at various deck materials in their product guide and an article on creating the perfect patio space. (I saw on a home show recently that decks are outdated and patios are in, but it takes a long time for a trend to die so you have plenty of time to make your choice.)

If you want to decorate with a wildlife theme, they have an article on that also.  (I swear I will shriek if I see another antler chandelier; and the bedspread made from fox pelts, including their tails, is tummy turning.)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Getting rid of the smoke smell (discussion link)

"My husband and I just bought our first home! Everything is perfect however the previous owners were smokers. They have put new carpet, new paint, new appliances in. But I can still smell it."

Helpful hints: Help with smoke smell - Topic Powered by eve community   (From

We had that problem with a rental once.  We cleaned the curtains and the house and used deoderizers and Febreze, changed the AC filter, left the windows open now and then, ...

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Bathroom ideas

I came across some fun bathroom ideas in an old issue of Western Interiors and Design (May/June 2006).  One shower has a clear glass wall that looks out at the garden.  (You can close it off with recessed motorized shades.)  It's a big shower--big enough to have a huge boulder in it.  The bathroom also has floating glass countertops and sinks. 
A Vitraform ("the original glass sink") ad has an engraved freestanding basin in peach laminated glass; it's lovely, and other colors are available. 
In one bathroom, an Agape Spoon tub sits on a platform, and the floor mounted tub filler (faucet) rises from the floor; it's controlled by a lever and knob within arm's reach of the head of the tub.  [Everyone's arm?]  The adjoining spaces include a seating area with a flat-screen TV and a kiva fireplace, a meditating room, and a dressing area.  Mustn't forget the lamps, walnut vanity, vessel sinks, draperies, etc. 
Then there's the Hawaiin bathroom with the lava wall, marble basin, bamboo ladder for the towels, and more.  And there's a bathroom with a limestone wall inspired by a French castle, ...  Oh, to dissolve the boundary between indoor and outdoor space, continue the flooring outside.
Believe it or not, my bathroom in my next house is probably going to be pretty much the same as my current one.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Pex vs copper pipe (discussion link)

"I am going to build a new home and need to know the pros and cons of pex vs copper."  From 

Discussion link: Pex vs copper pipe - Topic Powered by eve community

I had never heard of Pex before.  Hmm.  I wonder what our builder plans to use...

I recently came across another discussion of Pex vs copper pipe in an old issue of Fine Homebuilding (September 2005.)  It's cross-linked polyethylene; some prefer copper...  Maybe you can find Breaktime (their online discussion group) archived on their website:


Monday, June 4, 2007

Publication news

Sugar Time, my time travel audiobook, is available from: Hadrosaur Audio Odysseys
I have a story, Pretty Pink Planet, in WomanScapes: WomanScapes: Books: Kathryn Mattingly,Editor EJ McFall
My story, The Trees of Home, is in the May/June/July issue of Sorcerous Signals: Current Issue
My children's story, Why Won't Anyone Play with Me?, is in the pipeline.  Next stop: cover design.
The anthology, Year's Best SF 12, is out now; it has a good selection of stories, including Dawn, and Sunset, and the Colours of the Earth by Michael Flynn.  A section of this story uses online posts, some of which are from Flynn's AOL SF Author's folder, when he asked for contributions from folder regulars for the story.  (I'm Pagadan and Velvet.)  He integrates those posts with the ones related to one of the story's characters.  Very well done, btw.  The story's been nominated for the Hugo and The Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, ... 

And here's an article by my friend, the science writer: Darker Matter - Faster Than Light by I. E. Lester

Friday, June 1, 2007

Tropical Storm Barry

That low to the south has turned into a tropical storm, and we're finally getting some much-needed rain!  The rivers and canals connecting the lakes are very low--some impassible; and Lake Okeechobee is the driest it's been in recorded history; and our earthen pond was practically dry.  It's full of blooming yellow lotus, however, who apparently aren't bothered by droughts.

There are tropical storm warnings and watches on the west coast, and we should be getting more rain--and wind--tomorrow.  Here's the National Hurricane Center link for Barry:   Tropical Storm BARRY        (Thanks again, Lloyd!)

Saturday update: Barry is just a tropical depression now and is losing its tropical characteristics.  South Georgia got a lot of rain, which helped with its wildfires, and rain is moving up the east coast.  We got almost two and a half inches, which I'm grateful for.  We need more, but it sounds like our afternoon rains could be starting soon.

Kitchen countertop update

Today Patrick finished the countertops and connected the sink water lines.  We'll put off using the sink and counters until everything has had a couple days to dry because I always like to be sure, but we vaccuumed and scrubbed the kitchen floor, put the rugs down, hung the calendar and phone back up (we had to get switch out with a smaller calendar because now it touched the countertop), and I cleaned under the sink, lined it, and put everything back.  I love putting things back where they belong; and I'm really looking forward to putting things back on the countertop and hanging the new curtains and being able to put food from the fridge there before moving it to a table (dining room or back porch) and being able to put the groceries on the counter rather than the dining room table and then putting them away.  Patrick gave us instructions on the care of the granite tile and grout and left us caulk and sealer.  Btw, I noticed on the Delta faucet carton that water lines were listed under tools you might need.