Tuesday, December 27, 2005

WHEW! That was fun!

Les and Jenny came home for Christmas. We all had a good time. I know that sounds trite, but we did. We did our annual Critique Of Neighborhood Christmas decorations (lots of brownie points for the guy who tastefully strung green lights in his palm fronds and white lights on the trunks, then had a large Nativity inside over his front door lit from within and framed by the arched clerestory window). We baked cookies and pies and did dishes and watched movies. Les and I chatted till 3 am the first night. Jenny and I baked cookies the next day. Richard and the girls discussed politics, religion, death and taxes. And Harry Potter, books and dogs.

Chant adored Jenny. Leslie told him he was ugly and he stank! He went outside and decided to dig to China to see little Chinese dogs, I suppose. Echo gleefully joined him and they both got filthy. Flint stood by and only dipped his toes in the mud. Did I mention the mud?

Seems the pool guy left the pump on discharge after he left. The pool simply kept discharging water and the back yard was flooded. Chant had an easy time in his digging. Richard (who was the only one home) claims that Chant didn't have a white hair anywhere on his body. Since the dog is predominantly white, I figure he'd been digging for a while before Richard caught him.

He cleaned up nice, though. And the whole dog pack followed Jenny around for a few hours because she kept plopping down and letting them crawl all over her.

Les brought stuff back from her European trip - jewelry, scarves, and bits fo foreign money for the little boy who's father works with me. Daniel collects coins and he loves foreign money, so Les picked up a few coins for him.

Christmas morning was leisurely. I baked and talked and sampled stuff and listened to news. We opened presents at midnight Christmas Eve so we could enjoy the day. That's one of the few times I've done that, maybe we'll do it again.

Monday we all laid around, snacked, watched more movies and chatted with friends and family online and on the phone.

A good time was had by all.

Thursday, December 22, 2005


HOME FOR CHRISTMAS received a 5 Ribbon Review from Sherree at Romance Junkies! Here's part of the review...

HOME FOR CHRISTMAS is a story that will show not only the love that a mother has for her child, but the deep love that God has for his children that have strayed. Merry K. Stahel has shown the reader that through perseverance the dreams that we have will come true. We only have to hold on to the hand of God and not let go. For the Lord hears our prayers and only wants what is best for us. I would highly recommend this author to others. I am proud to give this great author a 5 ribbon rating.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

It's Amazing...

My sewing room was a disaster earlier this evening. I had quilt pieces all over. I've been procrastinating finishing one of the quilts I'm making for Christmas because...because...oh, who knows? I also had Christmas paper scattered about, in addition to presents for folk, unwrapped, needing alterations, and other little embellishments.

And then HE called. A realtor. He wants to show the house tomorrow at 1 pm.

I shanghaied Richard into wrapping presents. I sent him off to the living room with wrapping paper, tape, scissors and boxes. I stayed in my sewing room doing what needed doing and passing stuff to him every time he finished up another wrap job.

I talked to my brother Mark, my daughter Jenny, my friend Gerrie and started putting some of the unused sewing stuff away where it belonged. I altered Mom's (MIL Alma) pants and labeled all the clothing I got her for Christmas. She lives in an assisted living facility and they insist all clothing be labeled. Mom insists here clothing fit (naturally).

I then started on the dreaded quilt. See, I hate pinning it. I have to lay the quilt "sandwich" on the floor to do that. I have to crawl on my hands and knees and pin it all around to hold the whole thing together while I quilt it. It generally takes me about 2 hours to pin a quilt. This being a small one (twin size) and the fact I'm "birthing" it instead of binding it - it took me about an hour. Birthing is a process where you sew it right sides together all around the edges, then turn it right side out and quilt it AFTER that. You have to be careful doing this because you could end up with tucks and pleats where there shouldn't be any. I did pretty good, only one block got a tiny tuck.

Anyway, when we were done - Richard had wrapped half a dozen presents, I finished Mom's alterations and the quilt is quilted.

Now, tomorrow I can clean my sewing room easily as nothing is strung all over anymore. A quick vacuum and dust and this room will look presentable!

I will mail the packages and deposit my checks and take off Christmas shopping some more!

The new puppy, Chant will be most disappointed that I'm not quilting. Like Echo and Flint, he loves when I play with fabric on the floor - he thinks it's a soft bed for HIM. I had to chase him and Flint off into the other rooms so I could get stuff done. Then Echo and Flint wanted to go to bed with Dad, and Chant wanted to keep playing. I finally collared him and brought him into the sewing room with me so they could get some sleep.

I do need to work on other quilts if I am to get them out in time for Christmas, though. I have 3 more to go. Sigh.

Off to bed!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Chantry Rides Again...

Okay, I stole the line from a Louis L'Amour novel.

Champ, the little dog my co-workers rescued from the street in September is now mine. A new puppy showed up on Monday. I captured him and was getting ready to run him across the street to the Humane Society (people drop their unwanted animals in our enclosed fence often thinking we are part of the Humane Society). Anyway, the guys took one look at this beautiful tough, dingo looking dog with big brown eyes and fell in love. HE looks like a watchdog. Champ looks like what he is - a funny, adorable little Jack Russell terrier/Schnauzer mix who would allow a stranger into the yard with a "Hey, who are you? Look, you have a sparkly thing! I'm your friend, you can pet me, honest!"

Anyway, the guys didn't want 3 dogs. But they did want Bruno (the dingo-dog's new name). So...I took Champ. Did I mention the Thursday before that we put Champ and Tiger in the kitchen in their cages for the night because it was cold? And Champ kicked the back of his cage out, escaped and promptly found a box of rat poison and ate it? Since the guys all had hotshots, I took him to the vet. He's on medication to counter-effect the poison. Either he is immune to the poison or the meds are serious miracle workers. This dog has NO SYMPTOMS and is bouncing around like the puppy he is.

Oh yeah. Our entire family names all our dogs after Louis L'Amour novels or characters in said novels. Borden Chantry is a character in two books - BORDEN CHANTRY and CHANTRY RIDES AGAIN.

So, Champ is now Chantry, Chant for short. He has not noticed the difference. He comes when called. He comes even when I call Echo or Flint. LOL

He's scheduled for the chop shop...er...to be neutered and get his shots on December 27. Merry Christmas, little buddy!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

My first review for HOME FOR CHRISTMAS!!!


"Merry Stahel is a wonderful writer who has taken a difficult storyline and written it to shine with God's love. I really enjoyed Dea's and Jesse's romance. They both felt abandoned by God and learned to love and trust Him again, and then to love and trust each other. The landscape of the story is so comforting. I imagined living at the old church and befriending Heidi and Joe—and Nate the donkey and Mary the chicken—just as Dea lived it. Santa hats off to Merry for a Merry Christmas tale!" ~ Cynthia Whitten

Friday, December 02, 2005

My Book


by Merry Stahel

If Dea Lacey can find sanctuary she might live in peace. But will the family homestead be the place, or will it bring more turmoil to her and the boy she’s taken as her own son.

Jesse McTavish struggles with the fact that life continues even when love is lost. When Dea presents him with his son, his first reaction is to shut himself off from more grief. Can he let this boy into his heart?

You can buy it as an e-book or as a print book at:

By Grace Publishing - www.bygracepublishing.com



I hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Awesome Hot Crab/Artichoke Dip

This is the recipe for the awesome crab/artichoke dip.

I got it off AllRecipes.com but I altered it for my tastes (I don't like capers and 2 tablespoons of garlic is WAY too much!).


2 cups crabmeat ( I used 3 cans of fancy crabmeat)
1 cup sour cream
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup white Cheddar cheese
2 (8 ounce) jars artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 teaspoon powdered garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried dill, or to taste
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning TM, or to
1 (8 ounce) round loaf sourdough bread

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Lightly grease an 8x8 inch square baking pan.
2. In a large bowl, combine crabmeat, sour cream, cream cheese, buttermilk, mayonnaise, Monterey Jack cheese, Cheddar cheese, artichoke hearts, garlic, black pepper and dill. Stir until well mixed. Spoon dip into prepared baking pan. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and Old Bay Seasoning TM.
3. Bake in preheated oven until top is crusty, about 15 to 20 minutes.
4. Cut the top off the loaf of bread. Hollow out the loaf and cube the top and the removed pieces so that they may be used for dipping. Spoon hot dip into hollow bread loaf. Serve immediately with bread pieces for dipping.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

I was looking for Christmas music on the Net...

And found this...


Go listen.

More Christmas things...

These are the Christmas coasters I finished today. I also made a flannel pillowcase for one of the nephews. I made a flannel quilt already that matches the pillowcase.

Richard and I went to a party last night. I made an awesome hot crab/artichoke dip, even if I say so myself. LOL. It disappeared quickly. Only a bit of leftover and I brought that home. Richard and I have already snacked on it.

People came and viewed the house yesterday AND today. It amazes me how much housework can be done by two people in thirty minutes. LOL. We zipped around making the bed, vacuuming, doing a quick swipe in the bathrooms, stuffing the dirty laundry in the washer and giving each room a quick air freshener spray, too! Richard lit the fire and I zapped some liquid potpourri in the microwave. We took the dogs for a ride, which they loved, of course.

I'm working on the next set of gifts. A couple quick quilts and soem little thigns, not sure what, yet.

Anyway, back to it!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Christmas is sneaking up on me...

Like a little ghost waiting in the wings to jump out and say "Boo!" Christmas is there...hiding...waiting...

I'm making quilted Chrismtas coasters right now. I've cut out 3 sets so far. Need two more and then that's done. They're being sold in the Calvert Hotel's antique shop. I also have to do the fabric envelopes with stationary inside.

I finished Mom's present. Both Mom and Pa's presents are done. Next up...my sister's family. I have stuff lined up and even parts half-done. The trick here is to FINISH.

Finding the TIME to finish is a whole 'nother story! But I shall continue onward.

I do love Christmas and every precious minute is worth it. LOL

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


I work for a courier service. We talk cars, trucks, gas mileage and distance all the time. Some of our drivers drive tiny vehicles because they deliver small things. Some drive larger vehicles because they deliver larger things. (Our company's drivers drive their own vehicles). The SUV debate has been touched on in our office. Its impact is negligible, because drivers know that some things requiring delivery also require trucks or larger vehicles to deliver it. Here are some questions:

1. Do I tell you where you can and can't live?
2. Do I tell you what schools to send your kids to?
3. Do I tell you what religion to practice?
4. Do I tell you what jobs you can have (and not have)?
5. Do I tell you that you can only be paid so much and never allow you the opportunity to make more?
6. Do I tell you what you can and can't wear?
7. Do I tell you whether you get to eat...or not?
8. Do you pay my bills?

If the answer to all these questions is NO...then where do you get the idea that YOU get to tell ME what I can or can't drive?

Just because your opinion disagrees with mine doesn't give you more rights than me. Driving an SUV isn't against the law. Destroying other people's property is. If your opinions are against the law, rather than breaking that law do something to change it if you feel that strongly about it.

Group think is for cults and communists.

Try not to descend to it. You might need an large truck or an SUV to deliver something vital, like an oxygen tank, to you someday.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

My Bookcover and By Grace Publishing's Online Birthday Bash...

This is my December 2005 Bookcover!

And my publisher is having an online one year anniversary party. Here's the announcement.

We're One Year Old! By Grace Publishing is celebrating a milestone birthday!

By Grace Publishing is hosting an all day party in our By Grace Publishing forum at http://www.eCataromance.com on NOVEMBER 14, 2005. The party is from 9am-5pm NY CST.

Its our birthday, but YOU get the gifts! We'll have interviews with our authors, snippets of our best selling books, games and contests. Win ebooks, and a gift certificate for Fictionwise that you can use on the ebook of your choice. Our big winner of the day will be getting an ebook basket valued at almost $18.

Come join our celebration and help us to kick off our second sucessful year.We look forward to seeing you here!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Come Chat with the By Grace Authors!

The Romance Studio is hosting a
By Grace Publishing Chat!

WHEN: Saturday, November 12


WHERE: http://www.theromancestudio.com/chat.php

Enter the TRS site using the link above.
Click on the red lettering at the bottom of the TRS screen (I am 18 and I agree).

Follow the instructions from there.

We look forward to seeing you there!

For Halloween...

Yes. The dogs had to be dressed up for Halloween and this year Echo wanted to be a Princess so I present to you...

HER ROYAL MAJESTY, Princess Echo Avalon Stahel (We are not amused!)


For your viewing pleasure, and tons cuter than Johnny Depp...may I present...THE SCOURGE OF THE SEVEN SEAS (And the swimming pool), THE DREAD PIRATE, Flint Elmo Stahel!

Yes, that is a knife in his paw and no, he's NOT happy to see ya!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Well - not really.

HOME FOR CHRISTMAS has an advance ad at www.waxromantic.com - so GO READ IT! Its all about me and the book!

Go. Now.

Monday, November 07, 2005

The Booksigning...

The booksigning....WOW. What can I say? I'll start at the beginning.

We went to stay in the Calvert Hotel in Calvert, Texas. The Hotel is a lovely bed and breakfast filled with antiques and ambiance. There's also a hair salon within the hotel.

We arrived about 5 pm. Nelson, John and Ron were waiting for me to arrive! I was as excited to see them as they were to see me. Richard and I nosed around the hotel admiring the stunning antiques and restoration the guys have done so far. As anyone who does restoration on old houses knows, it is a work in progress. I even peeked in the kitchen and harassed Ron, who graciously told me about the antique Hoosier cabinet he uses on a daily basis and let me see the bread and cookies he was making. Ahhh...the scents from that kitchen!

John explained things as I asked - does he know his antiques! He collects old hotel silver and had it all on display. Great punch bowls, serving pieces, chargers, milk pitchers, tea sets, compote bowls...he knew the history of many of the pieces and was able to tell us that, too. I asked a thousand questions and he answered them all. Many of the pieces are for sale! It was hard to not buy, but Richard and I are in the process of selling our house, so.....

Nelson showed us the rooms and allowed us to choose. Richard wanted to stay in the Robert E. Lee room, but we ended up staying in the Phillip Adkins room (I think I spelled that right). The rooms are named for their famous visitors or founding fathers/mothers.

Richard was catching a cold so he went upstairs to take a nap. Nelson and I went to a private party at the Calvert INN - another bed and breakfast down the street. Nelson took me inside to show off their restoration efforts. Oh, WOW. Restoration is a way of life in this little town and it shows. I met some lovely people and we had a wonderful time.

We came back to wake Richard and then Ron cooked us a scrumptious dinner. I basically told Richard I was gonna leave him for another man...I promptly decided to live at the hotel and let Ron cook for me, but then Richard burst my bubble and said I'd need money for that. Darn it. I'll have to make do with visits.

We went to bed and both of us slept like rocks. I heard the train go by once, butI simply rolled over before it was gone and went back to sleep. John says it goes by several times but I didn't notice. Its one of those soothing sounds, I guess.

The next day Ron cooked again - French toast and sausage...sigh. Richard and I enjoyed our breakfast without Echo and Flint hoping for sausage or kids asking for a bite. It was a mite strange to eat a whole plate of food by myself. Ron outdid himself and I told Richard I think I need to go to The Culinary Institute and learn to cook like that. He wholeheartedly agreed, the rat!

We then went for a walk around the neighborhood to look at the houses. Calvert is a tiny town but when the War Between The States was over, many of the Confederates came to Texas to settle. The town has several Confederate reenactments a year. It has the largest outdoor gazebo bandstand in the USA. The homes are lovely. Many are in various stages of repair and restoration but you can see what once was and what will be. Richard spent a couple hours taking photos later that day.

We then left to go to the booksigning. Nelson, John and I set up the tables and then I personalized them with all the stuff I brought! John brought some of Ron's cookies, too. Ron runs an eBay store called Better Cookies and sells them all over the USA. The snickerdoodles are fabulous! We all kept running between the four tables we set up to chat and compare notes.

The Hastings Bookstore in Bryan Texas has one of the friendliest staffs ever. Mara and Dena made us feel very welcome and worked hard to be sure things ran smoothly. Both deserve kudos for their efforts on our behalf. We had good traffic and I had a lovely time meeting Trana Mae Simmons, L. B. Cobb and their sidekicks. Yes, we all brought sidekicks and everyone had a great time. We sold books, made friends and laughed a lot. I got to wear a vintage tiara because this was a Pulpwood Queens Literacy Event and Membership Drive. I also met a couple Pulpwood Queens, including Suzan, who was just lovely!

We left from there and I was so sorry to go. Nelson, John, Ron and I are already plotting our next event...there's the December 3-4, 2005 Parade Of Homes in Calvert...and the Girlfriends Weekend in Jefferson for Pulpwood Queens...and...and...and...

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Christmas is coming...

I looked at the quilt I made for the grand prize for my book contest and it got me thinking. I go all out for these books promoting and marketing like mad. And this year the book is coming out at Christmas. And yes, a few people will be getting a copy as a present.

But then I kept thinking. I do beautiful homemade crafts for these books and yet, members of my family still don't have quilts made by me. One of the reasons I wanted to learn to quilt was to make every member of my extended family (husband, children, parents, siblings, neices and nephews) a quilt. Although many of my family members have quilts made by me and a couple have more than one I am far from my goal.

So I decided that this year will be different. (Ha! how many times have you heard THAT?).

With that in mind - I shall be profiling my gift making and giving this year. I am determined to make as much as I can and the gifts will be meaningful, fun and useful all at once. I'll start with the children - the neices and nephews. I have four grand-nieces, ranging in age from 2 to 7. I have 7 nieces ranging in age from 5 to 24. I have 8 nephews ranging in age from 3 to 24. I have 6 brothers and 2 sisters. I have 5 sisters-in-law.

Two of the nieces I know very well, having spent quality time with them at various points in their lives. I'll start with them simply because they will be easy. Katie is 14 and Brittany is 12.

Yesterday I went out and bought colored stock paper and today I will buy matching envelopes. Katie loves horses, so I'm making her some horse stationary which will then be put inside a patchwork fabric envelope. I made the cards today. I found a lovely picture of an appaloosa horse in a free clip art forum and made that the front of the card. I did a logo on the back of the card with my name in it. When I finish the patchwork envelope, I'll take pictures to post here.

Brittany will be getting a variation of the same thing - Brit is a girlie-girl, she likes lace and dressing up and flowers and pink and blue. It'll be fun coming up with something pretty for her - lots of choices. Once I make hers, I'll post photos.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

I just finished this quilted wallhanging this evening. It is 24" X 24".

When my book HOME FOR CHRISTMAS is published in early November, you may enter a contest to win this quilt!

I'll post details here and on my website when the time comes.

Online Author Day...

You are cordially invited to attend
The Belfry Collective 1st Author Day
Sponsored by the authors on
Tuesday, October 11, 2005, 6 am – 8 pm EST

At their Yahoo Group site: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/The_Belfry_Collective_Author_Days/

On the schedule are selected excerpts, contests
with prizes, tidbits on writing, information on how
you might obtain our books, plus other surprises.
We hope to see you there!

An advance schedule should be available at the Yahoo
site’s main page about a week before the Author Day,
so that you may attend at your leisure.

For further updates and information, please visit
the Collective’s blog:
or our home page at

To obtain an invitation ON OCTOBER 11th:

The “doors” will open wide at 6 am EST on Tuesday, October 11th.

Sunday, October 02, 2005


I made a quilt for my friend Grace's soon-to-be-born baby. She is going with a jungle theme so I found this lovely little print and whipped up a whole cloth quilt. The back is a soft blue that matches the blue between the squares.

In other news, I'm in the midst of my revisions. I finished the first round this evening and will be emailing the whole document back to my editor in a few minutes. I ended up adding some 20 pages to the manuscript due to both the revisions and adding another chapter.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

This is The Calvert Hotel (http://calverthotel.com) in Calvert, Texas. It is a 5 bedroom Bed & Breakfast owned by three of the kindest gentlemen ever to grace Texas. During Hurrican Rita, when thousands were fleeing Houston and the coastline - a frantic call from a worried mother (ME) elicited courtesy and help. I'm cutting and pasting my daughter Jenny's own tale about her escape from Houston ahead of the hurricane below.

John, Ron and Nelson, who own the hotel, took Jenny in after I made 9 phone calls to other hotels which were full. I am forever grateful for their help. Nelson is a chapter President of the Pulpwood Queens (www.pulpwoodqueens.com) and I've convinced a few of my author buddies to send autographed books, as I plan to do! John was so very gracious each time I called. When Jenny was trapped in traffic, John reassured me he'd hold her room until she got there, long after midnight. Jenny slept through breakfast, even though Ron had made her breakfast already. When she got up, Ron made her a SECOND breakfast so she'd have fresh food (okay, a Lord Of The Rings surreal moment there LOL). All three of them epitomize the grace of the personalized touch of the hoteliers of old.

If you ever need a a quiet getaway in an historic little town with just enough to do that you aren't overwhelmed, Jenny and I highly recommend a stop at The Calvert Hotel. Their antique store is divine, the food is fabulous, and the three owners are gracious, courteous and so very, very kind!

Our entire family was so very worried and I am also forever grateful to Aunt Kathy, Cousin Eileen, Cousin Dennis, my sister Margaret, Cousin Katie and Mom and Pa for helping keep Jenny awake by calling periodically through the night as she drove. It was a wonderful blessing to know I could depend on my family.

Here's Jenny's story, in her own words.

Everyone, Thank you so much for all of the phone calls! I have finally arrived in Corpus Christi. I started out fromHouston towards Dallas and Stillwater, but after driving 12 hours and only getting 47 miles, my convoy and I were discouraged. We resorted to back roads for another 8 hours or so and were faced with the same bumper to bumper traffic. The police blocked many of the exits off of the highways because they wanted to direct traffic to Dallas. This meant virtually no bathroom breaks, and little opportunity for gas. So, we drank little and filled our tanks often. Food was scarce, we only had what we brought with us. I lived on Slim Fast mealbars for the day. Most of the gas stations we passed were out of gas. The ones we could find with gas usually only had regular. I bought the last tank at one station. I felt so bad for the people who were turned away.

About half way through the first day, my car started to act up. The battery was dying. We were going so slow, and it could not support running the radio, AC, and cell phone charger all at the same time. Radio and AC were abandoned despite the 101 degree temperature. As you can imagine, after a certain point, I could no longer make it without the AC and had to run it anyway. Luckily, Grandpa and Dad gave me some tips on how to help the car support all that work. (Thank you, Grandpa! Thank you, Dad!)

For a while, due to the slow traffic, we were sure we would not make it to safety. We had heard that Rita would be of hurricane strength all the way into College Station and there was no indication we would make it. I split up with my convoy, they had decided not to go all the way to Dallas. I was able to make College Station; which I had begun to associate with saftey. From there, no matter where I went, the hurricane was not a real threat.

Traffic, however, was. After doing 21 hours of straight driving, little water, no real food, and almost 40 hours of no sleep I was sick. I had to stop at a Sam's Club and take a nap in the parking lot. It got worse. I called Mom and Dad and had them get online and call hotels in front of me as I headed North.

After 9 phone calls, they got me the last room in a Bed and Breakfast that was absolutely beautiful! I slept for 11 hours! It was fantastic! I took a shower for the first time in two days - I stayed in extra long, just cause I could! They made me BREAKFAST! Real food! I had eggs, bacon, potatoes, toast, and cantelope. I hate cantelope. It was the nectar of the gods!!

Being that I was not even half way to Dallas, much less Aunty M's I decided it was best to head inland and then south to home. The mandatory evacuation for Corpus Christi had been lifted and the hurricane had passed them up. It was safe. Best of all, no one was going in that direction. I was home in a matter of hours. No traffic jams, no problems. On the way down, I passed the First Methodist Church Disaster Recovery crew and a convoy of military vehicles going North.

Everyone was so great! Everyone was nice to each other - I saw no road rage, no squabbles for gas, no fighting in the bathroom lines. Everyone was patient and even friendly. Many offered advice, and were willing to help when they could. Its all that Texas Hospitality! :-D

Thank you to everyone who called me! As most of you know, I fell asleep twice. The second time was the worst. I actually drove off the road and hit a concrete median. But, your phone calls really did help, and the few times I started to drift off, I would call Mom and Dad or anyone I could get a hold of.Thank you so much for all of the emails as well! I really appreciate that you all care so much! I love you all, and thank you so much! Love, Jenny

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Beach Babies...

We went to the beach today because the realtor was having an open house for 3 hours. Last time we went, both Echo and Flint were terrified of everything. This time, they were thrilled. We parked back by the dunes so they'd have roaming space. Echo wandered all over for about a 100 foot radius. Flint wandered with her at first, but then settled down near us and just kept an eye on things.

The realtor had 8 couples come by and 3 appear to be very interested. We shall see.

I spent the day packing boxes for the auction one of my buddies had for a Hurricane Katrina evacuee. I'm also starting a big promotional event for my book. Details will follow as I gear up for that.

In the midst of all that, my editor has contacted me and we will begin working tomorrow, I expect. She read the book over the weekend.

And Christmas is coming...Life will be busy the next few months.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Of kids and things and bats and wings and signs and Halloween..

Back when I first started writing with a regular schedule, the girls were quite a bit younger. Leslie and Jennifer tell strangers that they thought their real names were "Go Away!" and "Leave Me Alone!" (haha!)

I am a member of an online writing community called The BatCave. We're all Bats. I started a group of writers called The Belfry Collective (www.thebelfrycollective.com) .

DH found this sign in the local Target store today. He thinks its appropriate for me. It is now hanging on my wall. Lord knows what the real estate people and their prospective buyers are gonna think.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Submitting to Publishers...

Sending your work off is a lot like sending your kid to the first day of school. There's excitement, a little sadness that the baby is growing up and fear they'll never need you again.

With a book its excitement, a little sadness that the characters you love are "finished" in a book, and fear the PUBLISHER will not want it!

I sent my proposal for a five-book Series, THE TIES THAT BIND, off to a publisher last night. And so, the wait begins. I have no idea what the turnaround time is, but I'll keep writing and see what happens.

Off to get ready for work.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


These are our work dogs, Tiger (the chihuahua/dachschund), who is our watchdog, greeter and champion biscuit eater.

And Champ - our new little puppy. Isn't he adorable? We dont' know how old he is but speculation runs between 3-5 months or so.

The guys saw him running around our work front yard all day and decided they wanted him. He was running with a poodle. The lady from the Humane Society wanted the poodle.

Patrick and I spent an hour trying to coax him to us and I was finally able to grab him near the end of the day. He's a fiesty little puppy, he bares his teeth at Tiger and snaps if Tiger gets to aggressive.

They've settled in the garage quite well and although not friends just yet, they don't growl or bark at each other, either.

i'll post more later...

Monday, September 12, 2005

I finished a quilt today. A fellow Bat's son had to go into the hospital for a bit and we all decided just the thing for a gift - a Batman quilt from those 4 fat quarters the Bats bought me at the writers conference in Reno! It took a little piecing and cutting to use the fabric wisely. Its machine pieced, backed with blue fleece and tied with blue yarn. I hope he likes it.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


Well, we ended up not making any clothes.  Seems WalMart was having a sale so off we went.  We shopped all the clearance racks to get maximum bang for our bucks.  My thought is that this clothing is temporary and will tide them over until they can get their own styles.

We found some really cute little backpack bags (in fact, I’m going back to buy some for Christmas presents for some little nieces and nephews).  We stuffed them full with toys, 2 sets of clothing and underwear.  I left the tags on and the receipt in the oldest girl’s bag so they can exchange anything they a) don’t like or b) doesn’t fit.   It is hoped that this will tide them over until they can get what they like.  

The house was viewed yesterday and will be viewed again today.  On Friday, it was viewed THREE times.  

We had a good birthday for Richard.  I bought him a new wedding ring (which turned out to be TOO big!) and Jenny flew down to be with us for the weekend.  She got him a bunch of DVDs he doesn’t have in his collection.  We had birthday cake and cards and are enjoying our time together.  

Anyway, back to cleaning!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Busy, busy, busy...

I've not blogged as often as I should lately. Between the hurricane and work and my dog being sick, its been hectic.

Echo started getting sick Saturday night. Flu-like symptoms, if dogs have such a thing. By Tuesday, I told Richard if she wasn't better when I came home for lunch, I was taking her to the vet. She must have heard the dreaded word "vet" because when I came home for lunch, she was bouncing off the walls, she was so perky. It was rather like a "See, Mom, I'm FINE!" thing. And she is. Thank God. My puppies are my babies now and Echo is Jenny's baby. They adore each other and I pray she lives to a ripe old age so Jenny can have her a good long while.

The hurricane was shattering, heartrending and terrifying. And I was only watching it. I've been swamped with doing things to aid those poor people. I don't have a lot of money, but I have time and other gifts. I made sets of Christmas coasters for an online auction a friend is doing to donate the proceeds to the people. Jenny is coming home tonight and we are spending the weekend sewing and putting together some things for her Team Supervisor's extended family, who lived in Waveland, MS - what they're now calling Ground Zero of Hurricane Katrina. The supervisor's family lived for 5 days without food, water or shelter...and one of them is pregnant. Jenny had brand-new clothes in the size of one of the young girls - she's lost a lot of weight and the clothing was bought just before and never worn - still has tags on it!

I made a small baby quilt for the unborn baby and we'll probably make some maternity tops and other things for the baby this weekend. Maybe some bags...you know, they NEED so much. Everything is gone. EVERYTHING. It makes me feel helpless when I think of the overwhelming task in front of all these people...to replace their homes, their cars, their clothes...all the way down to their toothbrushes...the myriad things it takes to run a home - all of it gone.

I remember the struggle as young newlyweds, Richard and I saving money to buy pots and pans, to buy a shower curtain, to buy bedding. When you are young and its just the two of you, its fun to decide what next. But these people have families, all the important stuff was long since bought and mostly what they bought was I guess what you'd call maintenance - maintenance of the lifestyle they already were part of. They have children now. They have lives.

The kids don't have a high school football team anymore. They don't have band and soccer practice and cheerleading. Their school colors are wherever they found shelter, not the familiar, the anticipated, the blending into a team of their friends and schoolmates. They've been ripped from something they've worked for their entire young lives, into the lives of compassionate strangers, but strangers nonetheless.

Jobs gone in a second. Many people define themselves by the job they do. The sense of worth, the self-esteem, the commitment to that employment, to doing a job and reaping the benefits. Gone. If the business is wiped out and can't relocate, these people have no jobs, no benefits and may even have lost their pensions.

The magnitude of the devastation didn't end with the hurricane. That was only the beginning.

And with another hurricane out there hovering on the horizon, I realize with even my extensive disaster preparations that I am still not as prepared as I could be. Its a sobering thought.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Labor Day...

I labored today.

Well, since yesterday. I started by making quilted coasters for an online auction for the Katrina refugees. I made 5 sets for the auction. I'll also be donating a book.

Last week I shopped for new clothes for Richard's mother who is in an assited living facility. Today, I cut out all the tags. She used to be a size small but doesn't recall the last 30 years in which she became an XL - we found out she threw away ALL the new clothes we bought her last year because they couldn't be HERS, they weren't smalls! ACK. Bras, underwear, shirts, slacks - she tossed it all even though it had her name in it...So now, I cut out all identifying size tags and write her name in waistbands, care tags or straight on the fabric.

I also printed out and cut up bookmarks, business cards and postcards for the 4 of us who are sharing promo opportunities.

I addressed all my postcards and put them out to mail with all the other stuff.

Now, I have to work on Bryan's Batman quilt and do some more printouts of promo stuff. And make a new promo campaign since Sunny's sent the new high-resolution image of her next book (doesn't that have a nice ring...next book?).

Why am I madly working when I'm usually a little bit laidback about this stuff? Because I begin working with my new editor at ByGrace Publishing with my revisions! So I'm trying clear the board to concentrate solely on that.

Echo is very sick. She had an accident last night all over the living room, dining room and kitchen. She was so scared about doing it in the house she cried and acted ever so guilty over it. I gave her an Imodium, but she' s still not feeling well. She got another tablet this morning. This afternoon she tossed her cookies...er, dog food under my computer desk. She was terrified about making a mess in the house. We cleaned it up and I've given her another Imodium tablet. If she doesn't improve tomorrow, we're going to the vet.

Back to quilting.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Shopping, giving, prepping...

The black female dog is ECHO. The white male dog is FLINT.

Richard is gonna die.

We went shopping to restore the depleted cupboards because we took a bunch of stuff to the drop-off point in town to donate to the Katrina refugees.

We bought lots of things, including more canned dogfood. See, if I have to bug out, my puppies are coming with me. I need portable food, rather than their regular homemade dogfood. Richard said, "Absolutely! If we get hungry, RoastBeef and Lambchop here will feed us for weeks!"

I told him he'd be dinner before I would eat one bit of either of my dogs! So, if there's a natural disaster and you find me roasting some meat and gnawing on a leg bone by the side of the road, you'll know who it is.

He's walking around the house calling for "Emergency Rations" and "MRE" (Meals Ready To Eat).

No one is eating Echo or Flint. No one.

He's gonna die if he doesn't knock it off.

Sometimes it just blows my mind...

In all the fallout of The Blame Game (tm) that the various people go through to justify their existence, nothing blows my mind more than the the vapid untruths they broadcast to try to a)defend their voyeurism and b) re-shape history.

The latest one? Several people and their buddies are passing around a blog wherein the blogger writing it is thrilled that Beauvior, Jefferson Davis's final home before he died, was wiped out by Hurricane Katrina. Including the Jefferson Davis Presidential Library. See, in this guy's mind, JD was a traitor, he committed treason. So having the home of a traitor wiped out is justifiable. HaHa. He phrases it much nicer, couched in semi-civilized terms, but basically, he and his cohorts think this is a grand idea. Because not only did JD become a turncoat, but he led the nation in a bloody civil war that cost thousands of lives.

Yeah, it did.

But in the same mindset - I suppose we should level the 45th Infantry Division's museum in Oklahoma City. See, its totally dedicated to the "spoils of war" that the Division looted after Adolph Hitler and Germany fell to the Allies. Hitler's table linens, his cape, many of his personal items are in the museum. Thousands of Americans died in Germany before the Division got there. There's a chapel, too. Dedicated the victims of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen and Treblinka and the other gas chambers of the Final Solution.

Using this dude's mindset, we should dismantle the Holocaust Museum. And the Vietnam Wall.

Because, dude, thousands of people died in WWII and Vietnam, too.

According the government of Mexico - Travis was a traitor. But we have the Alamo, praising his last stand. Travis was on Mexican soil, in outright rebellion against the Mexican government. The USA stood by and didn't get involved because it wasn't an American cause. The USA let Travis, Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, Susanna & Angelina Dickerson and the others fight a losing battle and didn't lift a finger to help. Of course, once Texas was theirs, they glorified the fallen heroes. But using this dude's mindset again, Travis, Crockett and Bowie were traitors. So the Alamo should be dismantled, too.

Beauvior was a beautiful home belonging to a family who supported a cause they believed in. The people who went to war behind that leader BELIEVED in that cause. They died for that cause. When the war was over and the cost was counted, both sides still truly believed in their cause. Who is this blogger to negate or deny that their true belief in what they held dear was wrong?

The blogger is likening Jeff Davis to Saddam Hussein. Apparently, he didn't pay enough attention to history in school. Slavery was the catalyst used to whip up Northern sympathy. But the real issue of the Civil War was STATES RIGHTS. Did a state have the right to sell their goods and services to anyone, including EXCLUDING their sales to other states? A friend once told me that if you look at every war in history, the underlying cause is ALWAYS economics. The South had cotton. The North had cotton mills. When the North began undercutting the price of cotton to the point that Southern cotton growers thought unacceptable, the South started selling ALL their cotton to England and other countries. The north BLOCKADED Southern harbors to PREVENT those sales. Because the North, with no cotton to mill or sell - was going broke.

Slavery was a terrible injustice to a lot of people. But comparing Saddam Hussein to Jefferson Davis is wrong. SH ordered the murder of 30,000 Kurds in a chemical warfare experiment just to see if it would work, plus he simply didn't like the Kurds. Thousands of others were rounded up and murdered if they opposed his regime.

Jefferson Davis wasn't trying to wipe anyone off the face of the earth, just to see if it could be done - he was fighting for what he believed to be his country - a country where taxation without representation, the right to pursue business without the government taking it over, and the right for states to decide their own issues in an autonomous way were of paramount importance. He felt the Constitution Of The United States was being blatantly violated and he went to war over it. And a lot of his fellow Southerners felt the same way. They knew people would die. They knew slavery would become an issue. They knew all of this and they went to war anyway.

I'm not Southern. In fact, in many ways, I don't even understand some of the idealogy of the Southerners who still believe JD was right. States rights was an issue of contention even when I lived down there in the South.

And lest we forget, one of the framers of the Constitution and the Bill Of Rights...was a slave owner named Thomas Jefferson, whom Americans owe a debt of gratitude. Why is okay to have Monticello, built and farmed by slaves for TJ's entire life, and not have Beauvior?

Hiding our history, gloating when its destroyed, is a hell of a lot more irresponsible than showing the public historically significant facts, as ugly as they are. And by seeing them, we can only pray that such a thing may never be repeated.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Planning for Emergencies...(warning: preachin')

The recent hurricane and the resulting catastrophe got me thinking. A talk with my sister, my daughter and other members of the family showed me that most people are quite ill-equipped to deal with even a small emergency.

It doesn't have to be that way. Even on a limited budget, you can being planning for anything that comes your way. It may take a while, you may only be half-prepared when the next one comes along, but half-prepared is better than nothing at all.

You first need to stock an emergency bug-out bag for each member of your family. A backpack does nicely. The basics should include idenitification, a change of clothing, any medications required, portable food that doesn't require cooking (such as protein bars), water and the means to purify water, personal hygiene supplies, baby wipes, and whatever other goods you feel necessary. Each individual's needs are different, so you may need to carry tools and batteries, a flashlight and other things, too. Decide from the various lists on the FEMA website what is right for you.

What is this?

http://www.katadyn.net/katadyn_exstream.html - the picture up there is the most popular portable water purification system on the market. It is used by hikers, campers and humanitarian organizations. You need one for every member of your family. Its little insertable replaceable filters can purify 26 gallons of dirty water.

If you can't carry it - here's another alternative...http://www.katadyn.net/micropur.html

Those are water purification tablets for your first aid kit.

And then there is this:


Its a link to the FEMA website with documents you can download so your family can be prepared for any emergency.

For years, because of our military lifestyle, my family lived in some hazardous areas of the globe. We survived 4 major typhoons in the Philippines. We survived a major typhoon on Guam, where the island's power plant was so heavily hit that the only two generators left on the island were for the hospital and the supply depot. We had an hour of electricty each morning and evening. Milk was $6 a gallon. A pair of low quality children's shorts were $50. I learned to sew out of financial need - no way could I afford that kind of price for children's clothing. We only had to survive that way for 4 months.

In Northern California, an earthquake took out a major section of hightway. A few weeks later a massive mudslide took out a section of the OTHER major highway. Prices were so high I had to get a job to make ends meet. We ate tuna and hamburger and were thanking our lucky stars we could afford it. That only lasted about 6 months.

As I wrote before, Hurricane Elena took us out for a week back in 1985.

When we lived back east in Pennsylvania, we survived the Blizzard of 93 and the Blizzard of 96. And with one - I had 5 kids and a grandmother trapped with me in our house. We ate well and kept warm thanks to alternative cooking and heating.

Here in Texas, our first year we survived massive flooding.

Each time, because of my husband's gift for planning, we were prepared. We've kept a stock cupboard since the day we married. We have food essentials, medical supplies, packed clothing, blankets and alternative methods of cooking our food and keeping warm. We keep our gas tanks at least half full (most of the time - I'm famous for letting the gas fairy fill her up on weekends when I run it out to the point the red idiot light is blinking).

The point is - we've always been prepared for a disaster. We don't wait five days before it crops up on the radar - we started preparing years before and as we go shopping we get an item or two each time "for the stockup cupboard."

Check out FEMA's website. They offer FREE classes in how to be a First Responder, free information on how to pack a 72-hour bug-out bag, free information on how to survive well in a natural/man-made disaster. Start stocking a disaster cupboard. Find all your important papers and identification and make copies to slip into a special bag that stays in the stock cupboard (and can be grabbed on the way out in case you have to leave fast). Make back-up copies of precious photos and your books (if you are a writer). Practice emergency procedures with your family. Designate a meeting spot away from the disaster.

Be prepared. It saved our lives. It can save yours.

Email me if you want more information or other websites to look at (including some radical survivalist websites with lots of excellent information, but can be a little scary with their predictions of gloom and doom).

Thursday, September 01, 2005

September 1, 2005

I'm still watching the news, watching and listening to the plight of the people in New Orleans.

I work for a courier delivery service company in South Texas. We recieved our first call today...someone asking if we had a truck to deliver aid to Baton Rouge, LA. Our drivers drive their personal cars so I had to say no.

Evacuees are coming here, as well as San Antonio. I expect they'll be delivering hospital patients, too.

My daughter phoned, she lives in northern Texas. She said evacuees were already there, too. The refugees will most likely be pouring in eventually.

I keep thinking...Food. Shelter. Clothing. And then my mind turns to jobs. These people have no jobs to go back to. They will have to live in shelters and find work here. Rebuild their nest egg. But what about the old, the infirm, the babies?

The magnitude of the problem is boggling.

I'm participating in an online auction to aid a fellow writer who is now homeless. I expect to be participating in monetary and other ways, too.

Those poor people. A lot of prayers are being sent heavenward, I know. I've added mine.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

August 31, 2005

We are watching the news like everyone else in the country. Hurricane Katrina has devastated the Gulf Coast oof Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. We used to live in Long Beach, Mississippi, right next to Gulfport. The neighborhood where we lived is gone.

We evacuated out of there ourselves when Hurricane Elena (1985) hit. At the time, it was the largest peacetime evacuation ever. We spent 2 nights in a shelter. My husband and some of his Battalion weren't there, so I was alone. When I arrived at the shelter with my children, 4 other military wives and their children, whom I'd picked up in my van because they had to bring baby things...we found ourselves sharing floor space with heavy equipment. We were in the SeaBee Battalion's warehouse for construction equipment. There were 5,000 people in there, most of them military spouses and dependents, although there were many civilians. We miltary wives came semi-prepared with blankets, snacks, drinks and games. We spread all the blankets on the dirty floor, stationed ourselves at the corners and only allowed the kids to play on the blankets. Several of us started the kids singing and playing games so they'd be entertained while we waited.

Because we were only expected to stay a few hours, no one had thought to provide water or food, except what they were carrying. I brought two 5 gallon containers of water for our group. We ended up in the shelter overnight. Little did I know that I was the ONLY person in the shelter with water. At the end of the night I was only filling baby bottles with what was left of my 10 gallons of water. The adults and older kids had to tough it out.

We were allowed to go home that morning. Within hours we were being told to evacuate again - Elena had gone out to sea for a time and then turned and decided to come back in. Police cars with bullhorns were driving through our neighborhood advising people to leave the area. By then, the outer bands were hitting and the rain and wind were already starting.

We evacuated to the shelter once more. I picked up the wives and this time we took more food and water. The Navy was more prepared, too. They had large tanks of potable water and cases of MREs. We stayed overnight again and at one point everyone clung to each other in terror as the roof and sides of the warehouse were pounded with what sounded like a million rocks. More people were in the shelter that night, too. It was hot, muggy and tense. The military dispensed MREs for dinner that night. I was the only one who got steak. I ate mine, which tasted pretty good at the time (later experimentation made me realize I was incredibly hungry and ANYTHING would've tasted good! MREs do NOT taste good in normal circumstances!).

At one point, clasutrophobia was overwhelming us. One of the military personnel opened a large garage door a mere crack to let air in. We wives took turns going over to the garage door and laying on the dirty floor with our noses up against the crack to get the merest breath of fresh air.

The next morning we were let loose once again. We came out to massive destruction. I had to drive on lawns to get people home - the streets were filled with debris.

I had filled the bathtubs with water and also all our watering cans. I had food, too. The girls were hungry so I dragged out the grill and began breakfast. I couldn't cook in the backyard, it was filled with debris. I was worried about snakes.

Next thing I know - people were coming to my driveway. Mostly neighbors, some of their friends. Except for the occasional steak or piece of chicken, they'd never cooked over open fire. I fed scrambled eggs, oatmeal and pancakes to every person who walked up. My neighbor across the street helped. That afternoon - we found two more grills and set up to feed the neighborhood. We told people to bring whatever was in their freezers, since it would begin rotting anyway, and we started cooking. Every morning and evening for a week, the neighbors and I shared food, cooking twice a day on those three grills.

At night, because of looters, I moved the girls and the cat back to the master bedroom and locked the bedroom door. I left a propane lantern running in the living room all night. We had to leave the sliding glass door in the bedroom open - it was so hot! Every morning when I opened the bedroom door the smell of propane fuel was staggering and the living room was incredibly hot. But there was no way I was leaving the light off - we lived close to the beach and the looters were ransacking dark, empty houses. I kept the gun nearby, too on the closet shelf where the girls couldn't get to it.

We flushed the toilets with dirty bathwater. I had a small plastic dishpan and bathed the girls and myself in it - wiping down in what is called a Marine bath. Then I saved the water and used it to flush the toilets. The clean water in the bathtubs was used for drinking. I boiled it first just to be sure it was safe.

A week went by with no power. Then one of our neighbors got power to her house. She left her back door unlocked and allowed all the neighbors in to do laundry. I did several loads, passing by neighbors also coming in to do loads. We simply took turns.

The next day the power came back on for all of us. The part of my hsuband's Battalion who were still in town began volunteering to help clean up the place. A bunch of civilian contractors in the area were upset because they were "losing" business from not being able to CHARGE for cleanup services and the military were ordered to stop cleanup. There was more than enough work for everyone, but these clean-up business owners saw dollar signs for months...unless the miltary cleaned it all up too soon! Many of the military men went out and volunteered on their own after work hours.

I spent the first day with power chopping up the 7 downed trees in our backyard. I piled the debris out by the curb when I finished. Everyone else did too. It was many weeks before it was picked up.

Hurricane Elena was a Catagory 3. Damage was estimated to be around 1.8 billion. God only knows if the Gulf Coast cities affected by Hurricane Katrina will recover. The thousands of people who lived and worked there...its all gone. Even with my experience, I cannot imagine what its like. I came back to a damaged but repairable home. For the victims of Katrina...they are coming back to nothing. My heart and my prayers go out to them.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Agust 30, 2005

Where did this month go?

I've been so busy and nothing really to show for it. At least, it feels that way.

On the other hand, Mom and Pa have lots to show for their time - that's Mom standing in my new driveway at Echo Ridge. Pa cleared every tree and all the brush, laid the gravel, dug a drainage ditch, installed a drain pipe, leveled the ground and then brought in a concrete truck to pour the foundation you see on the right side of that picture. Mom helped with spreading gravel and toting brush to a burn pile.

Me, I'm doing promotional materials for my latest book, JENNIFER'S CHRISTMAS GIFT (go order it here: www.lulu.com/MerryStahel). Its a sweet Christmas story about my daughter Jennifer at age 3 and how she grasped the true meaning of Christmas with a gift. You'll love it, trust me! If you send me an email - I'll send you a free bookmark and magnet, too.

Other than that, not a lot happening here. Richard and I are working long hours. Neither of us likes it much but we console ourselves by remembering that all that lovely extra money goes towards getting one step closer to our dream of living at Echo Ridge.

Flint and Echo are not enjoying being alone all day and the greetings when I get home are as if I was a long lost prodigal Mom...or a long lost meatbone...hard to tell with dogs. Flint's been gnawing on his foreleg but the hair's growing back, so I'm hoping it was just a bug bite and not some mange thing or whatever makes them chew themselves. They got a ride in the car this evening as I had to go back to work to give a new driver some keys. Echo hung out the window the whole way, Flint simply enjoyed being with his people.

Anyway, off to do some writing.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

And in other news...

This is the book cover for JENNIFER'S CHRISTMAS GIFT.

It is available for order at:



This is a 48 page paperback book you can gift to friends and family for Christmas!!

August 27, 2005

Birthdays and the weekend...

Today is my sister Michele's 45th birthday. I called and wished her a happy birthday. That's Mom on the left and Michele on the right.

Our realtor came by today to renew the contract. I spent the morning cleaning house and Richard mowed and weedwhacked. We finished just in time for another realtor to come over and show it!

We left to go pick up dry-cleaning and gave the dogs a ride, too. Came back and I decided they needed a bath. I hosed them off outside. Had to tie them to the gate because they didnt' like it one bit. However, we now have to fluffy, pretty dogs.

I finished transferring my entire blog over from one blog software to this one. Although it says its transferred in the administration area, its not hit in the viewing area yet.

@ 2005-08-22 23:33:00

Originally posted August 22, 2005

Birthdays...Today is my birthday, although we celebrated early this weekend because Jenny flew down to share it! Jenny got me a stunning knit-silk blouse and my favorite See's candy - lime truffles drenched in white chocolate. Richard bought me a lovely jacket, new shoes I've been wanting and an hour long massage at the local day spa. They bought a Tres de Leche cake - ohhhh...it was heavenly!I had a good day. Boss let me come home early and I muddled about for a while then took a nice long nap. He called before coming into work and sang Happy Birthday over the phone, with his wife. Talked to Bun-Chu in Instant Message tonight, too - she sent me some adorable felt pelicans for the Noah's Ark she's making me. I get new animals every brithday and Christmas. Leslie and Mom called. Shelly and David called to sing Happy Brithday! All in all, a good day. I've been critting my fellow writers like mad lately. Lots of fun there to read the new stories and enjoy their hard work. Anyway, off to beddy-bye!

And the picture above is why I do love my job at times! Boss came to work with that and we spent the next hour outside driving it around! I've never driven one before and had a ball! fun, fun, fun!

August 15, 2005

Hyper today...
I've been hyper today. I'm high energy anyway, but today is especially odd. Probably because its Monday. The start of the work week. Always busy at work on Mondays. I had to leave work at 10:00 am to go meet the inspectors. Yes. Today, the potential buyers sent in another inspector to "shoot" the foundation to be sure its level. I have no fear that it isn't, as the previous potential buyers already had it done and there were no problems. The engineers who came said there were only minor changes in the numbers, so all is well. Anyway, I've been wondering how to make the Batman Quilt I promised a little boy. I have four fat quarters of various Batman fabrics. I looked at them for a while and couldn't decide on anything. The repeat patterns are small on a couple, so I'd have to be careful how I did it or lose the Batman effect. Well I dreamed vivid last night and the solution came to me. Because I was hyper, while the inspectors "shot" the house, I sat down and started cutting and piecing the top. In the hour they were there, I managed to piece 3/4 of it. Which sort of makes me think I need to get in hyper mode more often. Now, what put me there? The relaxing weekend with Richard? The small worry that something MIGHT really be wrong with the house? The fact that all my stuff at work went like clockwork and I dealt with all the problems before I even came home to meet the inspectors? Who knows. And Echo and Flint did NOT like 3 men in the house even though I was there. BOTH hid under my legs, making it a bit difficult to sew. Echo finally extended a nose out when one guy sat on the floor to write while the other two sang out numbers in the room we were in. Every time he tried to pet her, she'd back up under my legs again...as soon as his attention went back to what he was doing, she'd nose out again. Anyway, back at work now and finishing up a few tasks that came up in the last 15 minutes. Its weird having the work done...wonder what I forgot? Better go check.

August 14, 2005

A lazy day...
And yet I actually accomplished something. Well, several somethings. Richard and I went to Kingsville yesterday because he had some sheds and houses he wanted me to see. The styles might do well on our property. So we went and took pictures and I do like some of the details. We're still discussing styles. He also took a picture of me in front of the metal sculpture of the javelinas at Texas A & M Kingsville. I had no idea I'd gained so much weight! I thought I'd gained about five pounds, the picture looks like fifteen! Or maybe (shudder) more! So when we got home, I did sit ups and then went into the pool and did 20 minutes of laps and exercise. Today, I leisurely spent the day making a small quilt table topper. Its not a full size tablecloth, nor does it have batting in the middle. Its meant to be placed on top of another tablecloth as a decorative. I made it for my secret pal on one of my email loops. Every year, we draw a name and we have "Christmas in July." This way, we can gift each other during a less hectic time of year. I also sent her a copy of JENNIFER'S CHRISTMAS GIFT. I hope she likes her gifts. The dogs have been quiet today, I suppose because Richard and I took the day off. We didn't do much around the house at all. He'd already done the mowing and weeding on Friday because of the potential buyers. I did my pool exercise this evening while Richard swam around in the moonlight. Its nearly a full moon, I think, or will be soon. Anyway, a quiet day and we both enjoyed the leisurely feel of it.

August 8, 2005

I have a cell phone. The boss has wanted me to have one for a while. I've resisted strongly as I do NOT want to be called during dinner, driving, at the theater, etc. I have been in emergency situations many times in my life, including being stranded on the side of the road, bleeding kids and so on. Each time, I've received help or the promise of help within five minutes or less. There is NO emergency that requires me to have a cell phone. Boss says he will only use it if I have to do a route (another SHUDDER) to walk me through it. We shall see how this goes. He is paying for it, so I'll keep it for now. I will not be giving the # out, I see no reason to do so since its for work only. I've never liked phones anyway. When the Internet opened up and email and Instant Messaging became available, I LOVED it. I love it because I could control when or if I need to answer. I can answer at midnight or answer right away. I don't have to worry about it being a sales pitch or a politician looking for votes or interrupting my dinner or other activities. It is not intrusive or distracting. I like that. With phones, no matter how many do-not-call lists you sign up for, or how many phone numbers you block, the mere intrusion of sound into my quiet times is annoying and distracting. When I am home, I control my time, my activities and what I wish to do with them. If I don't want to hear ringing phones or television, I turn them off. But with phones, the problem doesn't go away. Even though I do NOT have call-waiting on my phone, it lists the calls I missed, whether it was turned off or not. I then have to cycle through, looking to see if they are important. 99% of the time, they are not. And I wasted valuable minutes looking! Minutes may not mean much to some people. But I like LIVING my life...not wasting it to check through information that was neither necessary or wanted. Every minute I spend doing what to me are unnecessary things is a minute I'll never get back. Maybe that's petty. I don't care. The point is - I should be the one to choose how to spend my time. Maybe the things I choose seem stupid or ridiculous to others, but the point is, its MY CHOICE. And one of my choices is that cell-phones are not necessary in MY life. Sigh. In other news, the potential buyers will be having inspections done tomorrow. I boxed up some fabric for a friend who will be rootling through it for some goodies and passing anything she doesn't want on to her church group. I included a variety of fabrics, thread and a bunch of the cut squares for quickie quilts. I hope she likes it. I hope her church quilting group likes it. I will have to try to carve time to start finishing up some projects. We will be closing on September 6, 2005 if this buyer decides to buy the house. We will be moving to an apartment, which means less space and my workroom will have to go...or be at least be much smaller. To do that, I need to get some things made. One of my Bat buddies sent out a plea for her son who is currently in a medical facility. He thinks no one loves him because he hasn't gotten any mail. I made four postcards on the computer tonight and will send them tomorrow. I hope he loves them. I put pictures of Echo and Flint on one. He has met my dogs when he came down to get his dog, Dolan - the schipperke from a few months back. I also did one with a photo of a snake that Pa took in Missouri, a dinosaur from a website online and a scorpion. He loves creepy crawly things and snakes. EWWW. I'll probably have nightmares. Anyway, off to do a little writing.

August 7, 2005

Another Offer...
Well, there's another offer for the house. We counter-offered and they accepted it. So, 12 days for an option period in which they have time to get inspections done and will make a final decision. I lounged around most of the day, reading two books. Richard mowed the lawn and did the trimming. I did make chocolate chip cookies to mail to Leslie. I packed up a box to send her with her contact solution, her favorite brand of jerky, brownies, cookies and magnets and bookmarks for both my books. Richard got the leftover cookies to take into the office. I also made chicken fajitas for dinner. The dogs are playful this evening. Echo's been in and out all day. Flint just goes along with her although he doesn't care for the heat. She likes to sit outside in the sun for a while before coming in. He'd rather be with his people. However, as usual, he paces between the door and me to remind me she's out there and he doesn't like it! He's very protective of her, I suppose since she is 'his' puppy. I was laying on the bed reading and Richard pounced and kissed me. Echo sprang up to check out what he was doing and to tease her, he growled and pretended to bite my neck. She went up on her hind legs and threw herself between me and him! She's been protective of me before, but its always been a passive-aggressive thing - she'd stand and stare until he backed down...or she felt I was safe. Flint, on the other hand, has tried to nip him when he feels Richard may be a threat. He'll also growl and force himself between us. Its good they are protective, BUT...I don't want them aggressing on Richard, so we shall see how this continues.In other news, had a long chat with Pa last night. He and Mom celebrated their 40th anniversary. They went off to dinner at their favorite place, stopped off to have ice cream and then went antiqueing and to Lowe's. Pa was able to use his gift certificate we sent for an electric planer. I love planers. Watching the little curls of wood being shaved off is fascinating...until you realize you've fed the whole board through over and over to see the curls..LOL.We were both excited by the fact that the concrete slab is becoming a reality. Tomorrow, they will build the forms and if there is time, they'll pour it. If not, they'll pour Tuesday. Pa ordered the gravel and the truck was able to go right up the driveway he made and dump it. He got 13 tons, I think. He says he'll take any leftovers down to the driveway and spread it to reinforce the driveway. He's taking tons of pictures so we can follow the progress. He's also doing the drawings for the building itself. From that, he will calculate the materials list. Once we get the house sold, we can order the materials and then we will work out when we can take a vacation to go up and help build. Richard is thinking two weeks at Christmas. We shall see. Jennifer is in DC visiting her boyfriend. I called tonight to see how things were going. Bun-Chu had come to town on travel for her company, so they got to go to dinner with Gabe and Igor. Everyone had a good time.Richard and I called his Mom today, too. Her best friend at the facility has been in the hospital for gall bladder surgery. She's rather lonesome and the Center also moved her up closer to the lobby and the attendent's desk. Mom doesn't like her roommate (she never does). She wants to be in a room to herself, but that's not possible. The facility only has a few single rooms and they are reserved for people who need more invalid care and privacy. I promsied to send her some pretty blouses - she loves clothes and that cheered her up considerably. I'll send some books, too. She loves to read and I'm sure she's probably cleaned out the library there, now. Anyway, off to write.

August 3, 2005

This and that...
So I get a card from the post office saying I have a package. Now, I expect two packages. One some books I ordered and the other from a friend who went to a Writer's Conference and got me some goodies for doing her promotional stuff to hand out at said conference. I'm thinking to go get the box on my lunch hour. Except work issues keep me at work longer than I thought. Plus my co-worker's 8 year old son is here and co-worker had to dash out for a hot shot. So, finally around 1:30, there's a calm and I pack Daniel (the 8 year old) up in the car and head out. The post mistress disappears. She reappears and gets a dolly (hand-cart). I'm thinking, I know the goodie box had lots of stuff, but really, it can't be THAT big (I'd only ordered a few books, no way could she be getting the dolly for them!). She tells me to meet her out front by the car. Oh boy. I get this HUGE box that has been taped to within an inch of its life. Tape ALL OVER. It looks like its been smashed flat and then puffed back out. Its Leslie's 3rd box that was "lost" in the mailing. The return address was sort of similar to ours and I am amazed the Post Office was able to discern it might belong to us (She'd not return addressed it to US - somehow they found out her stuff was being forwarded here!). Anyway, I cut the box open because it said that they'd refused it because it had "more than 16 ounces of liquid in it." Since she's traveling and wasn't sure where she'd be able to shop, she mailed herself a bunch of personal items. Shampoo, conditioner, cough meds, mouthwash, aloe gel, cotton balls, tissues, baby wipes, toothpaste, dental floss, sunscreen and various OTC meds for emergencies. The aloe gel had come open. The rest of the stuff looked like someone had slashed through it with a knife. Cotton balls were everywhere. Everything was simply jumbled back in the box with no thought of what it was. I re-packed all but the liquids and put everything in zipper bags to protect it some. I put some bottles in the box, not exceeding the 16 ounces. I also packed another box and put one bottle in it. I'll be sending her boxes for a while, I think. I guess I should feel lucky we even got the box back. I critiqued one of the Bats (my online writing group - we're Bats and we hang out in a BatCave) the last two days on a manuscript she's sold. Not strenuous and it was fun reading other work. Made a few suggestions and told her to toss them or do them, her choice. The concrete pour for the slab of the shed is supposed to happen this week. We think. The dogs are being their usual selves - happy, frolicking and generally being fun. Flint no longer fear-poops when strangers enter. Either that or all the realtors are cleaning up after him and I very much doubt that. We've found their cards when we get home, which means they've visited and Flint has let them. I'm glad. He needed more socialization about folk invading his territory. Off to write!

I go home for lunch most days, but usually am so rushed with taking the dogs out, checking email and doing various chores while on my lunch hour that I barely have time to breathe, seems like. Today, I had to do some errands, but I went home first because I left the stamps at home. I let the dogs out and wandered onto the patio to wait for them while I finished eating my lunch (a piece of cake that Richard made the other night). I'm looking at the plants and lo! and behold! After 13 years, Grandma's hoya carnosa BLOOMED! When we first went down to Florida in 1992 to visit Richard's grandmother, she had this lovely plant on her patio. It was given to her by a friend. Thick, glossy green leaves and a lovely little cluster of star-shaped flowers that were deep burgundy in the center and pink on the outer edges. Every morning the tiny little flowers would have a smidge of clear liquid, a sweet-tasting dew drop that formed in the early dawn. She didn't know what it was called, only that one of her buddies brought the plant slip back from Australia. One day I mentioned the plant on a writers forum I frequented on the Net and one of the Australian writers supplied its name, hoya carnosa. Grandma gave me cuttings to take home. I kept the plant alive for about 5 years, but it never bloomed. When Grandma passed away I took the mother-plant, too. When we moved in PA I set the plants by the front door of our tiny apartment. It was deep winter and there was a draft. Both plants appeared to have frozen to death overnight. I found a bit of green still on Grandma's plant so I placed it in root stimulator and prayed. It grew 3 leaves very slowly over several months. I nurtured that plant, babied it and watched it like a hawk. Finally it began filling its pot, ever so slow. When we brought it to Texas, I decided to place it outside on a wrought iron rack since I'd been told it was a tropical plant. In three years, It has now outgrown 2 pots and has sent tendrils of thick, glossy green leaves winding around all the wrought iron. We've given slips to neighbors to enjoy. It is so pretty, but it still never bloomed...until TODAY, 13 years after its long journey! There are two clusters of flowers and the dew drop is right in the center of each little next of petals. So that's my bit of excitement today!

July 28, 2005

Speaking of writing...
I spent most of this week proofing, editing and updating a short story I wrote a few years ago. Then, late last night, I finally took the plunge and self-published it on www.Lulu.com. I had drawn a cover for it a few months ago and used that, too. Here's the URL to go order it:http://www.lulu.com/MerryStahelI have no idea what the quality of the book will be - I had to do all the formatting and layout myself, so we shall see if I did a good job...or a bad one! The story was really written for my family and I menat to hand it out at Christmas this year along with my annual Christmas letter. So I wanted to get it done BEFORE the big Christmas rush that publishing gears up for starting now. I opened it up for public sale, too. Anyway, its called JENNIFER'S CHRISTMAS GIFT and is about something Jennifer did one Christmas when she was three years old (Before she started writing - Jennifer's letters to Santa are a scream, she was a creative speller in her younger years and also wanted some unusual stuff that left us scratching our heads at times). Anyway, now her older sister Leslie is gonna be jealous because I didn't write a story about HER. I have a few. I'm not sure they're good story material but I may gather them up and put them into family lore and permanent print. Hmmm....Off to make the promotional material for this book - I left notes for readers to email me and request a free bookmark and magnet.

July 27, 2005

I'm trying to beat the system...
But I'm not succeeding. I am very close to becoming a computer geek, I think. I'm doing promotional stuff in Microsoft Publisher and Microsoft Word (yes, Word is a rather powerful graphics program but few people use it for more than a word processor). There are glitches in the template part of the software. I want a background that will "fill" the full page - edge to edge. The program has it built in to NOT do that because paper sizes are not uniform, nor are templates and software for various paper companies (an Avery paper card is sized slightly different than another brand).So - I'm trying to skirt this issue by changing margins, borders, expanding text boxes, removing gutters, removing edge placement...sigh. Its not working. The best I've been able to accomplish is 1/8 of an inch of white space all around the paper. Gah. I'm making bookmarks with card stock. I can fit five 2.20" bookmarks on one sheet. The only problem is - the two outer bookmarks have that 1/8" white space...one on the left of the left one and one on the right of the right one. The 3 middle bookmarks are perfect - no white space at all. What I'm trying to do is make fewer cuts. If I have five bookmarks, that's 4 cuts. But the problem with the white space is two of the bookmarks need it cut off. Easy, you say, so do it. Except now the 2 outer bookmarks are NOT the same size as the other 3! Uniformity is gone. If I make a smaller bookmark (like 4 instead of five), then I have to waste paper. I'm having the same problem with the postcards, but curiously, not the business cards. Ahhh, well. I suppose I'll have to do the extra cuts and make them only 4 instead of three. Sigh.Off to geekdom to see if I can figure it out.

July 24, 2005

So, we went shopping...
I was out of dog food. Now understand, my dogs don't eat out of cans or bags. I buy 81% lean ground beef, cook it and mix it with froxen mixed veggies and rice. Flint has some kind of gluten or corn meal allergy and all commercial dog foods are made with 40% of one of the other in them. The lamb and rice formulas have little or none, but they're so darned expensive I needed a cheaper alternative. Our vet says my dogs eat better than him. Anyway, I mix up a batch and it lasts for 5 meals for each dog. So. Back when they were pups and eating grass a lot (becasue of the allergies), I figured it'd not hurt to add a little spinach or collard greens to their food. Echo will NOT eat it if I run out or forget the collard greens or spinach. Richard didn't believe me. For 4 days, she's been refusing to eat her food. He thought it was because she was living on the Old Roy munchie bones (a treat not meant to be a full diet). I told him no, it was because her food had no spinach/collard greens in it. Today I bought collard greens. I made a batch of dog food. I put it in their bowls for supper. She not only snarfed hers down, she went to Flint's half eaten bowl and ate the rest of his!No one believes me. The dog loves her greens. BTW, don't know if I mentioned this, but one day Richard was harassing me about feeding them "people food" when dog food was "healthier." I told him dogs are omnivores - they are basically carnivores but will eat greens if there's nothing else. I told him, somewhat pompously, "If God had meant dogs to eat grass they'd be out there grazing on it like cattle!"At this statement he pointed out to the yard. Echo and Flint were both chomping down the tender young shoots of grass in our yard as if they were starving. My dogs. Just like my kids. Marching to the beat of a different drummer.

July 23, 2005

House viewing...
A very nice real estate lady called last night and asked if she could view the house today. Gave me a time frame and everything. That was nice. So, I got up early and went to mail the box to Sunny and Lex in Reno with our promo stuff in it. And waited and waited and waited. The guys at the 1-Stop mail place were like 15 minutes late to work! Finally got that done, though. Came home and dived right in. Had to clean the bathrooms, the mirrors, get the laundry done, vacuum, dust, sweep and mop the kitchen floor. I just finished in time. The realtor will be here in the next half hour.Richard started yard work last night so he'd have it done by noon today. Its hot and humid out and he just finished up about forty-five minutes ago. The Belfry website is looking grand! Oh, wow, Bron did a fabulous job with it and links and author pages and everything. Wow. I have to get cracking on my gift to my secret pal on one of my loops. We exchange names and have "gifts in July" rather than doing a holiday rush in December. Its more fun that way, too. The Bats do the same thing, we have "gifts on Halloween" because we're Bats, of course. It makes the holidays easier knowing the buddies online are taken care of and we only have to deal with family (and close friends with whom we exchange cards).I need to get Maggie and Leslie's care packages put together. I've been collecting stuff for weeks but need to box it all up and get it out. I also need to send out some fabric to a close buddy whose church started a quilting group. They need everything as they will be giving these quilts out to local charities. Anyway, I think the realtor will be here real soon, must get offline for a bit.

July 22, 2005

Last night...
I spent much of last night perusing writer websites. From associations and organizations to author spots. I'm part of the Belfry Collective and we're doing a website for us. They're my critique partners. We needed links for information on writing and associated stuff. So, I sorted through my best bookmarks and provided. You can visit us here - although many pages are still under construction. http://thebelfrycollective.com/Kudos to our Aussie, Bronwyn Parry, for her hard work. Not much happening today. I don't think the house was viewed for once. Thank heavens because its getting a little dingy, even though we keep it picked up. I figure a good vacuum and real cleanup will fix it right up. Tomorrow. I took the dogs out for an actual walk today instead of riding in the car. Echo pulled as usual, but finally slowed down and enjoyed herself. Flint just trots along, happy to be with his people. Quiet night tonight - talked to my sister, Sunny and Gerrie, but otherwise, everyone seems to be relaxing for the weekend.Off to do some writing, I think.

July 21, 2005

Bon Voyage...
James Doohan - who played engineer Montgomery Scott on the original Star Trek TV series has passed away. Part of my childhood went with him. Sigh. We used to play Star Trek as kids...I was always Captain Kirk and my older sister was always Scotty. We impressed the other kids into playing the roles of Spock, Bones and whoever was flying the ship at the time (recall that Chekov only appeared after the first season). Can't tell you how many times I flipped open my communicator (whatever toy was palm-sized, this was long-before TV themed toys) and said, "Beam me up, Scotty!" Godspeed, Jimmy! Have a drink with De Kelley and The Great Bird Of The Galaxy on me. House-viewings continue unabated, despite the threat of the hurricane which has worn itself out over Mexico. We were viewed every day last week. Today, twice. Although we're in no hurry to sell, I wish it WOULD sell. Its really tough keeping everything picked up and spotless every second of the day! Richard and I are both neatniks, but wow...We do the dishes as soon as we finish eating. We toss the laundry in the washer, not to wash, but to hide it! There's no skimming out of clothes and leaving them lying on my closet floor for a day or fifteen...Every day we do a FOD walk. That's military lingo for Foreign Object Detection - a FOD walk is done across the deck of an aircraft carrier before the jets are allowed to take off. This is so nothing loose can get caught in the intake engines and cause the 60 million dollar craft to crash. So we've always done FOD walks to put things back in their place or to make sure we've not left anything behind in hotels or camp. But in the old days before HV (house-viewing) we did it only when company was coming...or Mom. Otherwise, we lived quite pleasantly in our mess, following our own pursuits and ignoring that which didn't impact those same pursuits. Dirty dishes piled higher than the cabinets? No problem. Use a paper towel. Out of underwear? Go rummage in drawers for those sexy joke thong panties that we got last Christmas and never actually wore. Books falling off shelves? Stack 'em on the floor. And so on. Its late. I suppose I should go to bed. The dogs have long since abandoned me for their favorite spots - Flint in the chair at the foot of the bed and Echo is probably warming up my leg and foot space ON the bed. That dog is such a Princess bed hog. She grunts dramatically if I dare move after she's settled. She grunts if anyone pats her while she's sleeping. She grunts if Richard gets up and kicks back the covers...even if he takes care not to hit her with them. Spoiled rotten...Anyway, off to bed...tomorrow, another day, another dollar.