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: 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 - 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 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 I had drawn a cover for it a few months ago and used that, too. Here's the URL to go order it: 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 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. 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.

July 13, 2005

Bosses and Raises...
Richard got notification of his raise today! Boss and I went out today and bought a small plastic shed to keep stuff in for the drivers. I don't have to go in and babysit the goods while waiting for drivers to show up now. They can unlock the shed and get their stuff and go on! YES. Interest in the house is as strong as ever. People coming and going every day. Pa sent pictures of the work he's doing on Echo Ridge - oh, MY! He's put in the drainage pipe under the driveway, cleared the storage shed pad and compacted the soil! Plus leveled and graveled and all kinds of things I'm not quite sure about, but know are Good Things. The pictures look GREAT. He's also getting an estimate tomorrow for the concrete pour. I truly WISH I could go there to help out - even if I don't know what to do. Richard will be taking a vacation there this summer once the concrete is poured to help build the shed. I've been working on my promo stuff for the book. I've designed my bookmarks and will soon be working on my magnets. I also made some promo stuff for Sunny and Lex. Both are going to the big RWA Reno Conference and will be handing items out - including my stuff! We're all promo-ing for each other. Anyway, off to complete chores!

July 9, 2005

Book cover - oh my!
If you click here: click on BOOKS, you'll see my new book cover. If you click on the cover, you will see the synopsis of the book. My techie friend Aaron spent last night re-teaching me some of the web design stuff. That's the best I can do for the moment. I wanted to put in a textured background but haven't figured it out yet. Tomorrow the realtor is having an open house from 2 pm to 5 pm. We are taking the dogs to the beach for the duration. Not sure how that will go. We aren't beach people and the dogs aren't beach dogs. The two times we took them they were afraid of the water and the wind. So we shall see. I'll make a batch of cookies and brownies for the realtor to hand out. And some for us to take to the beach - I will make a picnic, too. Anyway, off to get some things done around here and to clean!

I'm done cleaning...
Some realtor called to view the house TODAY!I had to rush around cleaning like a mad woman. In the closet, I found Leslie's little Bissell Featherweight electric broom. I decided to try it. WOW. That thing does a tiled floor in no time! I even ran it over the walked-on spots of carpet and it fluffed them right up! A quick wipe down of the bathroom and I'm done, even for tomorrow! I made a macaroni salad and a potato salad. Richard is snarfing down the macaroni salad. Potato salad is for tomorrow's picnic, but I've had to "test it for poison" as Pa says when he wants a bite...or two...or a whole bowl!I still need to make cookies but they'll have to wait until this evening - the viewers are coming in about 45 minutes. And on that note, I'm off here. Have to get dressed.

July 8, 2005

Richard loaded MS Office on my computer and updated all my old software...sigh. In the process, my Publisher program disappeared and so did my photo editor. He promises to reload them properly when we get a chance. He wrote a beautiful little writer tool to my specifications in Access. I wanted an outline program that was set up to give me an organized way to answer specific questions about my books. There are certain things all books require that make them books - characterization, plot points, goals, motivations and conflicts. There are many "outline" type articles on the internet and I basically homogenized them all into something that works for me. I can now do a chapter by chapter synopsis in an easy format, a character chart I can click-through to refresh details as I write, and use my synopsis and summary charts to "fill-in" details as I go. I know it sounds like a lot of work but the way he laid it out for me, it is simply organized better. I like it, anyway. Pa has been working hard on our driveway. He's pulled stumps, smoothed the "road" part and it looks GREAT. We were amazed he did so much work. The driveway is wide and spacious without losing that private secluded look. I didn't think it was possible, which only goes to show how much I cannot visualize a completed project! Richard teased about putting in a centerline like on a road, but really - we love it. The neighbor down the road has one of those dinky dirt tracks into his property. Richard and I expected that's what ours would look like...but it doesn't. It slopes up gently and is wide enough for two cars to pass and Pa even made it "loop" like I wanted! I've always wanted that sweeping grand driveway that made a loop in front of the house so one wouldn't have to back up the car to turn around...well, Pa made that for me! Yippee! I really wish we were there to help. I'm not sure how much I could actually help, since I know virtually nothing about building roads or houses, but I still wish I was there. If nothing else, I could be the "step 'n fetch" person. Sigh. In other news, I have my book cover! My publisher sent a thumbnail of it because the dpi was too large to go through her server. It’s very tiny but its really pretty! I love it. When I get a larger size I'll post it. Off to write!

July 3, 2005

I sold a book!
I sold my book, HOME FOR CHRISTMAS to By Grace Publishing! Yeah! It will come out as an e-book first, then as a print book. The publication date is scheduled for December 2005.In other news, the tentative buyers of our house found very little in the inspections. A few little things need repair (the drain stop in the kitchen sink) and a few other things they felt needed repair they got estimates on...which were WAY INFLATED. We have wood pillars on the patio, one is starting to show signs of wear. Estimated cost of replacement, $500....uh...NO. The wood's only about $20 and popping it in place would take about fifteen minutes, max. Other weird things - the inspector said the bathroom tub had no, it has THREE, all in a little holder on the lip of the tub (we don't know why it has three, they came with the house and all of them work). The buyers wanted us to add some dirt to the dip in the yard where the pool guy drains the pool...their price for a professional landscaper...$1,000.00!!!! Uh...NO. You can get free fill dirt around here and dump a couple wheelbarrows full on it and be done...although when the pool is drained it will wash it away again. There were many other little things like that, oddities that seemed strange to us. Of course, we've never bought a new home so we know that some repairs or maintenance come with any home. Especially if we don't like or want some of the features - like dark painted walls, lamp fixtures or built in curtains. The first thing I look for in a home is potential. Can I live with it? Is it easily changeable if I don't like something about it? I always look for a couple things in my new home buying. A great room: I prefer this layout because it has more space and more possibilites for entertaining. Also - if the kitchen is attached at one end, it makes conversation flow much nicer. Whenever we had company in the house I grew up in - my adopted Mom had to "go to the kitchen" to prepare food or drinks and so missed a lot of conversations and news from friends. Or had to have it all repeated. This annoyed the heck out of me. So I determined that I would always have a great room that incorporated a kitchen for those times when we had company. ALSO, who uses the dining room? Even when I had a dining room and tried to use it, everyone picked up their plates after grace was said and wandered back into the great room! In 12 years of owning the dining room - we used it for dining that ONE time. Eventually, when Hedy came to live with us, I turned it into her bedroom for a year. When I turned it BACK into the dining room people who'd been to my house many times were surprised - they never remembered the room existing before! Pretty much told me that dining rooms are rather useless, at least in my family and with the friends I know <G>. Bathtubs in every bathroom: It seems strange but many bathrooms that aren't the master now only have showers. Since I never know when I'll be bathing a passel of small kids or a couple dogs, I prefer a bathtub in all bathrooms - when one has company, its necessary (can you tell I come from a big family with lots of kids and dogs?). Hot water heater: I want the biggest hot water heater I can get - too many times when family was visiting, the hot water heater couldn't handle it and in a couple instances, actually broke! I have this terrible memory of the hot water heater giving up to ghost in the middle of my shower...while I had shampoo in my dripping wet hair. It was winter. The water was ice-cold. I hate cold anyway, but it was worse to be wet and cold...and having to rinse my then long hair for 10 minutes to get the soap out <shudder!>! Since then, I check both the age and the capacity of the hot water heaters in the homes we buy! Light: Lots of light. I don't care if its hotter than the hinges of hell out there. I love light. I want lots of windows - be they clerestory (up under the roofline), picture, bay, palladium, whatever. I do not like dark houses. Wide hallways and doorways: Wider than the standard 34 inches that contractors love. I don't know if I will ever have a wheelchair bound family member living with me again, but if I do, I want the doors and hallways to be wide enough to maneuver the wheelchair. Also, the dogs use the hallway as a run - they zip up and down chasing each other for fun. A good long, wide hallway means I won't be overrun by playing dogs. High ceilings: Richard and I have become spoiled by this house. Each ceiling in each room is raised in a different way. We have barn vaulted, cathedral, a barrel vault, a widow's peak, the log cabin center beam in two rooms and so on. The feeling of space is wonderful. A patio or porch made for lounging: I'm not talking about those skinny little made-for-looks porches on many homes today. I want a big patio or porch where people can sit and watch the deer, or the stars, my solar water fountain or the firelight from my chimenea. I bought the plans for this house from the designer. We love it so much I'd love to rebuild it someday. And in fact, since we are building a home on Echo Ridge, I'm hoping maybe we can build this one again. We shall see. Anyway, off to do some writing.
The potential buyer for our home terminated the contract today. I guess he couldn't come up with the money or something. He spent around $700-$800 on getting inspections done, but when it came right down to it, he decided not to buy our house. What a waste of time and money. The house goes back on the market tomorrow. Good thing we're in no hurry to sell. We still have lots of time on our side, so really, the right buyer will come along and love our home as much as we do. And if they don't, no problem. It looks like we're staying in the area for a while after all. (Not because of the house not selling, but because of the job! Richard got a huge raise!). This means we cam begin saving for building the retirement home in earnest now. I can't believe someone would put out that kind of money and then not buy, though. The inspectors found minor things, but nothing major. When we had our inspection doen on this home three years ago, it DID have major problems, but we loved it anyway. We bought it and simply started repairing. Most of the repairing we'd planned is completely done, we still have some things we want to do, like finish up the painting, but all in all, the home is lovely, inside and out. We do have to go buy new flowers for the front, though. The periwinkles simply cannot take the heat. Off to write some more.

June 29, 2005

Inspections are done...
One inspector found a gas leak in the main line from the meter to the house. I called the plumber, praying it wouldn't be the same as last time ($400+). It was only a loose coupling! It was $65 for the guy to come out, tap the coupling to be able to turn it, tighten it and leave...he was here 2 minutes. He gave us a receipt showing he tested and the leak is gone. The inspector's not allowed to tell us his results until he's told the realtor for the buyers. But the gas leak is a safety issue, so I suppose he felt he better inform us of that. The AC inspector said there were a few minor issues with the idea what that means. He's not allowed to tell us until he tells the realtor for the buyers. Pool inspector said the heater igniter wasn't working again - he asked Richard if it was working. I had it repaired 2 years ago, but we've barely turned it on since. You simply don't really need a heater in a pool in South Texas unless you want to swim in the winter. What little winter there is...Termite inspector said nothing, I suppsoe we wait and see. Supposedly, a foundation inspector is coming, too. A strange thing happened. I made a binder with all the pluses of the house. I set it ont he kitchen table so future buyers could see it. I included OUR inspection report from 3 years ago. I also included a punch list of all the stuff we repaired that was on that reoprt, with dates and receipts from various companies. When OUR realtor was talking with us, I opened the book to show him the punch list...and it was GONE! I guess they took it to give their inspector so he could check our work...Anyway, must go to work!

June 27, 2005

So the dealer called this morning and said the truck was sold. Richard was quite disappointed...then the dealer called back and said the deal fell through! So we went and bought the truck. 1997 Tacoma X-cab, 4 wheel drive. Lot of miles, but we had a mechanic check it over. A few small things need to be taken care of but well worth the price we paid. Realtor brought the signed contract by today. The buyers will do the full home inspection tomorrow. Once that's done, we can move forward.Richard had very minor surgery today to remove moles on his leg. They've been removed there before, but they grow back. This time they were cauterized after removal. So we hope we won't be seeing them again. He's ensconced on the couch with remote, pillows and a quilt watching Harry Potter (a fave movie). Les and Jen both called as usual. All is well. Bun-Chu instant messaged to tell me she was back home. So the girls are doing fine and all's right with the world right now. I did some editing last night, but need to do a whole lot more. So off to edit. After I hem up my new jammie pants – T-shirt fabric, nice and roomy and comfy!

June 26, 2005

Life and things...
We signed the contract and the closing is scheduled for July 15. We found a nice apartment. 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a fenced patio, storage on patio, and a galley kitchen. If we get the one I want, it'll be ground floor and off to the back of the complex. I like that. And we decided not to buy the truck (I think. Richard may change his mind tomorrow). Today, I am sporadically cleaning my office/sewing room. Not much else happening.

June 25, 2005

Yesterday was negotiating day for me. First, Boss and I discussed a pay raise. I started working there 14 months ago and have not had a single pay raise. Not one. He told me that all companies aren't the same and none are required to give pay raises. I told him I've had 28 jobs due to DH's military career and maybe they aren't required to give pay raises, but EVERY single job I had gave a pay raise at 6 months AND a year (and most jobs I had, and we're talking low end of the pay scale here, gave pay raises every THREE months!). So this is just obfuscation. We dickered back and forth for a bit and he tested the waters by low-balling some figures. I basically told him I need X amount of dollars and if he can't get it, he better be darned close because I can go to an employment agency and be working next week for that amount of we shall see. Next, went to car dealership to turn Richard's car in for AC repairs. We went and looked at trucks on the lot. We looked at used ones, particularly. We found a nice one - 4wd, but some very high mileage. It was a little too much for the price. We test drove it, kicked the tires, discussed the pros and cons and went in to talk to the sales person. We dithered some more to the point he asked us what price we were looking at. I told him my out-the-door quote. He came back with THAT as the list price! Sooo...we don't know if we're buying it yet. We may. Or may not. We shall see on Monday when a friend takes a look to see if its sound mechanically.When we got home, the dog water was back in the house. We'd put the dogs in the garage so people could preview the house without Flint going psycho-fearful. Apparently, the people who looked at it this morning and last week came back while we were gone and took another peek. I know this because I found one little flint-poop in my bedroom. And the dog water was back in the house - the agent was worried they had no water and carried it back inside the house before she left. The whole point is...the viewers made an OFFER!!!! Well, we talked about it and decided no, we'd not accept, but we'd make a counter-offer. Split the difference. THEY TOOK IT. We sign contract today and closing in 3 weeks! ACK! I have to go find an apartment! So - rather than cleaning today for the Sunday showing - we aren't having a showing and will be apartment hunting instead! And that's all the news as of this morning. Now I have to go shower, make the bed and get dressed for the contract signing and apartment hunting!Back later!

June 21, 2005

The house is being shown more and more. Our realtor brought in his whole office today! Several of the ladies commented on the fact that just looking at the pool made them want to dive in...of course, its 95 degrees out today, too!Flint continues to fear poop whenever the strangers ring the doorbell and come in. He doesn't do it when we have guests, he is making a distinction between strangers and guests, even when they are guests he doesn't know (but that we know). I guess we put off "guest" pheromones as opposed to "stranger" pheromones or something. I opened a "house" savings account. We will try to increase the savings now that we have tangible evidence to go on . I heard something today at the bank. A man walked in and went up to one of the tellers, obviously one he knows well. He asked how she was. She replied "I am blessed, how about you?" She said it so naturally, so perky-like, so sincerely. I sat there and thought about it - about how asking someone how they are...what kind of answers you generally get - complaints, dry humor, whining, even. But perhaps we should be saying "I am blessed," too. I mean think on it. Maybe we don't have the best life, but we certainly don't have the worst life. We're blessed by what we do have - whether its something in our hearts or physically in our lives. We have a multitude of things in our lives that bring joy, yet we tend to focus on the things that make us unhappy or sad, or angry. I have a terrific husband and life-partner, two great kids, dogs I adore, a fabulous best friend, non-nagging parents, a bunch of quirky siblings and family who enrich my life. How am I today? I am blessed. Yes, I think I am.

June 16, 2005

I'm tired today. I was yesterday, too. I went to bed early and slept the night through both nights, except for 30 minutes last night. So I got up and wrote for a while. I'm also grumpy about a few things and I'm sure that's contributing to the cause. I need to do something about it or make the decision to let it ride. Its a work-related issue, nothing big, but it needs to be taken care of. Roy showed the house yesterday. The puppies and I drove around the neighborhood, checking out other houses. I'm very interested in houses now, in anticipation of building my own. I keep seeing architectural details, landscaping and window treatments I want to put in my house. By the time I'm done, I'll have a Georgian-Southwestern-French-Quarter Colonial-Greek-Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian mish-mash that will horrify archeological architects (and my neighbors) for years. Gonna have to keep a lid on some of it, I think . Anyway...Must. Go. To. Work. SIGH.

June 15, 2005

And on and on...
Seems like I'm standing still and yet we're doing so much these days. Richard's car is acting up again, we know there's a fluid leak in the newly repaired A/C unit. Sigh. In addition, his engine check light went on. He is taking it in Friday to be checked out and we're hoping that it will be fixed. We considered options, too. Trade it in? Buy the truck now? Yes, we'll be buying a truck in our near future, due to the fact we'll be building our own house on the property. So we went and looked at trucks last night. Of course, the one I wanted was no longer there. I'd done a web search for the type we're looking for and what is acceptable in a used vehicle for us. Anyway, we came away with good ideas but didn't buy. The pool folk came and apparently fixed the pool intake jets, finally. I'm trying to spend time in the pool, but haven't succeeded much...sigh.New work procedure. I have to come back in at 5:30 to let the drivers in to pick up car parts from our new client. I could be here anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. It messes up my day, but more $$ for the house, I suppose. Today our work ad ran in the newspaper, so I've been fielding applications all morning, too. My critique partner and best buddy is out of town this week, vacationing in Alabama with her family. Afternoons are NOT the same! The first day I kind of wandered around - I could've been writing or quilting but it was weird not talking about our current Bible study, death, politics and taxes, as usual. Yesterday was only slightly better, I did write some. I'm amazed at how set in my routine I've become! I suppose when we're both living the rural life, we won't have as much time to talk because we'll probably be out plowing the back forty or something. I went to the store yesterday to pick up whey protein. On the emergency websites, it mentions that a few meal replacement food bars are a good addition to any bug-out bag. In checking the free recipes from various websites, aside from all the usual ingredients which I have, it said whey protein would boost calories. I figure I'd rather make my own food bars or add the protein to dishes I already make. Apparently it can be added to cooked and non-cooked food, so it was a good buy. Since I'm not a chocolate lover, I bought vanilla . I spent a happy two hours surfing all the emergency and survivalist websites last night. The surplus stores do a good business, I think. Lots of military surplus to be had for good prices. I'll probably pick up some emergency-style things there, too. My downfall is that I love to have everything neat and orderly. Richard tries to steer me away from any store with displays of bags, organizing bins, shelves and units meant for storage. I love to peruse such stuff. I want to organize all the emergency stuff. Right now I'm putting it in duffel bags or various sizes but the websites recommend a large hiker's pack for each member of the family with 3 days worth of food, clothing, protection, shelter and bedding in it. That way, if you get separated in the ensuing emergency, you can still bug out on your own. Richard rolls his eyes and shakes his head when I talk of this stuff . He's of the opinion that a few essentials in the back of the car ought to do it. Reading the survival websites is quite an education. Most are of the opinion that the average folk aren't ready for minor emergencies, much less major ones. I can see their point. However, on one website, I ran across advertisements from various members. One ad was from a man who'd been in survivalist mode for 20 years. 20 years. Preparing and waiting for something bad to happen. He was selling all his stuff, because he was sick and old, now. I can see from visiting the sites where one would have a tendency to go overboard with the planning. I think I could, very easily. But that pulled me up short. Planning for emergency should be a part of your life, not BECOME your life. 20 years. Wow. And on that note, I must get back to writing.

June 12, 2005

Clean & Errand Day...
Today, Richard and I cleaned my car. It’s been filthy since before we went on the trip to Missouri and Oklahoma but since then its become more dirty! I want to put some things in the back for emergencies. I found an old plastic dog biscuit bucket to use. It has a snap on lid, so it was perfect. I put my trailer hitch, tie downs and netting in it, along with a roll of duct tape and masking tape. I was able to take this plastic box and the first aid kit and strap them down together in the trunk of the car. I have an emergency bag I keep in the car with personal supplies that I wanted to expand on. Since we were running errands, I decided to buy a larger zippered duffel bag to put more things in. I want a modified bug-out bag. A bug-out bag contains emergency supplies in case you have to leave your home because of natural disaster. Since hurricane season has started, I need to get my supplies together. This bag holds personal toiletries, towels, washcloths, a rain poncho, toilet tissue and the dogs' tie-out lines. I'll put more in it as I get more stuff. I will make two more bags for bugging out. One will hold a change of clothing and personal items for Richard and I, and the other will be ready-made packages of food items and tools. The car looks great and smells nice. We powdered the seats and carpet with insect repellent (in case we picked up critters in MO & OK). I also put one of those air fresheners in it for the time being. Tomorrow when I drive to work I'll probably have to pitch it way in back, as most times those things are overpowering. I really need to re-do the first aid kit, but for the moment, I'll leave it as is. Anyway, must go write for a while.

June 11, 2005

Been a while...
We've been very busy with keeping the house clean for people looking to buy. It’s not really hard as both Richard and I are inclined to be neat anyway. Just a matter of keeping dishes done, laundry off the floor and an occasional swipe with dust cloth and vacuum. We went to Oklahoma to help my sister move and to Missouri to visit Mom and Pa. We had loads of fun but 5 days was too short! The dogs loved running around the property at our place in Missouri. Pa had brush-hogged a "road" into our land - wow. The place is a jungle. I'll post pictures when I get time. Richard and Pa went about surveying and finding a place to build the storage unit. They mapped out where the house and garage can go later. Mom and I went shopping to her place of work - the gas station. But this is a new modern gas station which has a gift shop and a clothing store in it. And very upscale. They had fancy chocolates and estate jewelry for sale in the gift shop. I bought an antique emerald ring. I finally found jeans that fit in the clothing store - Men's slim professional bull-riders! I bought 3 pairs. And a pair of leather slip-ons. At Margaret's we got to see Tammy and Anni (and Maggie and Katie, too). Anni loved Richard because he let her hold the leash to walk the dog and she repeated everything he said. She called Echo "Eh-ho." Too cute. We managed to fill the 4Runner with stuff and also got to watch Katie ride her newest, horse - a stunning Appaloosa named Brego. I got some good pictures so I need to post them, too. We came home to cleaning and lawn-mowing chores. I also took the dogs in for their annual shots and check - Flint has an ear infection and Echo has dermatitis from insect bites. Both needed meds for those. Dogs are expensive! But they're all vaccinated against everything.More later - I need to write for a while. Or maybe read more...hmmm...

May 30, 2005

I finished my sister Margaret's pelican wallhanging quilt this evening. Its way cute! I hope she likes it. She's getting it for a belated birthday present when we go to visit. you can go here to look at it - its in the album titled Merry's Quilts 2. Last quilt.'re still having intermittent thunder and lightning. I've bene turning the computer off and on all evening. I'll probably spend some time writing tomorrow. And maybe get Billy's Star Trek quilt quilted while I'm at it. We shall see.Off to bed with nervy dogs and already asleep husband! Goodnight!

May 29, 2005

Cleaning and cleaning...
Richard was painting the baseboards and crown molding in the living room. I followed along, cleaning up after him (and the dogs). I gave the dogs a bath today. While Flint was in the tub, Echo came in to sympathize, but as soon as her turn came, she ran off. I gave them a scrub with a little bit of liquid dish soap (DAWN) to keep the fleas away. Pretty much cleaned the whole house again today so it would continue to look nice for when the potential buyers come to visit. We had several more visits from buyers and realtors. Soumya and her mom are coming over later today. Soumya's a vegan, so I made a veggie tray and then crisped some tortillas and will serve with salsa. Richard is making his famous veggie marinara with penne pasta. They probably won't stay for dinner, but just in case. No word back from the publisher, yet. Its early days and they usually take anywhere from a 2-4 months to respond. I should be getting next month's True Confession magazine in the mail anytime now. We get it early when we have a sold story in it. My story's in the July issue. Anyway, off to quilt and write.

May 27, 2005

I finished all the corrections Gerrie had for my manuscript and sent it off to the publisher last night. The house was shown again today. I drove the dogs around the neighborhood for a bit so the people could look.We were supposed to have a family barbeque at work but it didn't work out. I brought guacamole and pralines, but the others all had to be elsewhere and doing other things, so I was the only one who brought something. It’s been postponed for later. Off to write.

May 25, 2005

It's DONE!!!!
The book, that is. Yes, I finished writing it and wrote THE END last night! I was targeting an e-book publisher and it topped out at 41,750 words. This is the shortest book I've ever written. In other news, the house has been looked at twice since Friday and will be looked at again today. The Monday folk liked it and told my realtor that it was a definite candidate, then went back yesterday to look at another house that is also a candidate. The Tuesday folk yesterday didn't like the master bedroom being on one side and the other bedrooms being down the hall. Guess they have small kids. We shall see what today's candidates think. My book is DONE. It feels almost anti-climatic. I've had to struggle to get this book done, not because I had difficulty with it, but because so much is happening right now. Work is practically full-time and then some, we've been working on repairing and maintaining the house as much as we can, we moved Jenny to her current home, and now we have to keep the house spotless each day for realtor showings! Speaking of which, we got the sprinklers repaired last week. Richard mowed the lawn on Sunday. AND last night. Yes, we went out and the lawn needed mowing AGAIN. The bare spots in the grass where we pulled out the evergreens has almost grown back in. The lawn looks sparkling emerald green. Its beautiful...but it needs mowing every 2 days...every two days. Wow. Anyway, I must be off to take my shower and go to work. Oh, by the way. My book is DONE! LOL
And another ending...
I sent Katie's quilt out to be long-arm quilted since it is so big. They called to tell me it was ready to be picked up. The quilting ladies loved the luscious colors Katie chose and the horse fabric especially. I finished binding it this evening. So now, her quilt is done, too! Maybe I can get her Mom's surprise and her brother Billy's quilts done, too. We're driving up to their place on Wednesday June 1. We shall see. Gerrie edited and critted my book today. She found lots of little stuff, which I fixed.The house got shown THREE times today! The first time, I'm not sure what happened. I came home to let the dogs out and discovered that one of them had pooped all over the place! The bedroom, the hallway, the kitchen, the dining room and the living room! They have NEVER pooped in the house in THREE years, except once when Echo was very frightened by a truck out in our back alley. I rushed around cleaning it all up before the realtor and clients arrived...on my last sweep through to make sure I got it all - I saw the realtor's card on the table...they'd already been and gone!!! I am praying that whichever dog did it, did it AFTER they left, but I'm so afraid that's not what happened. Oh, well. anyone who scared my dog that bad probably didn't want my house anyway. The next two showings I was home and I packed Echo and Flint up in the car and took them for a drive around the neighborhood. They love that part!I have one other editor/critique partner looking at my book and to the publisher for consideration. And now, off to read email and boards, then bedtime!

May 21, 2005

We did it...
The house is now on the market. We even have a sign out front. We still need to paint the living room walls and trim, the dining room ceiling, walls and trim, our bedroom trim and Richard's office trim and closet.Last night, I worked on the house notebook. I put in documents the buyer will need. I included the instructions for the alarm system. I also put the engineer's report for the house inspection we had done. Then I attached the receipts showing all the repairs, upgrades and maintenance we've done. And of course, the waste management information, hurricane information, the paint color cards we used, and other stuff like that. I deep-cleaned today, vacuuming, dusting even the high spots, and mopping the floors on my hands and knees (2nd day of that!). I cleaned the grout in the kitchen, living room walkway, the 25 foot hall and the L of the hall to the garage. It took HOURS! I also cleaned up the laundry room. The house looks great. Richard landscaped, pruned and trimmed everything in the backyard. He put down more mulch, too. It looks fabulous. I really love this house and am so glad I bought the plans for it. I have no idea if we'll be able to ever build it again, but if we can, I certainly will!

May 16, 2005

Richard finished painting the living room ceiling, his office ceiling and our bedroom ceiling. The only ceilings left are the laundry room and the dining room. I spent most of yesterday writing. In between web-surfing, playing with fabric and cleaning up my office/sewing room. I threw out 2 bags of trash that had accumulated - old magazines, old bills and paper scraps of numbers, dates and whatnot type notes I write to myself all the time. I pulled out my nephew Billy's quilt top and will decide what to do with it over the next few days. Katie's quilt is currently at the long-arm quilter's. Since we are going up to visit them in June, I thought it'd be a good idea to have their quilts done. I hung SECOND STAR TO THE LEFT, STRAIGHT ON TILL MORNING in my office today. Everyone noticed, of course. I had to explain the stars, the quilt, the story. They thought it was great. Anyway, must get back to writing. I have a June 1 deadline for this book! ACK!

May 15, 2005

Yes, its almost 1 AM...
I finished SECOND STAR TO THE LEFT, STRAIGHT ON TILL MORNING. 14 quilters from all over the world swapped friendship star quilt blocks in 2003. We decided that all the stars would point to the right. On my quilt only, I decided that one star would point to the left. I set the blocks in a "spiral galaxy." The contrary left-pointed star is the second star in the center of the galaxy. I even sewed the signature blocks together on the back. I'll post a photo tomorrow on my website. Goodnight.

May 14, 2005

Today the painting...tomorrow? The painting...
Richard painted the cathedral ceiling in the living room last night. I ran off to go buy fabric, stopping in to pick up Soumya on the way. She was having a cup of coffee, so I went in to chat...and we ended up laughing and talking until midnight. It was too much fun. So today, the fabric store...eventually. LOLRichard spent the day painting our peaked bedroom ceiling. It was a little unnerving because the ladder isn't quite tall enough and he had to stand on the top step to reach the peak. He did it, though and now the room looks great. We have to do the baseboards and trim, but that's not too bad.I finished making the other two curtains for the living room window. The living room still needs molding paint, walls paint and the baseboards and trim painted. We ran out so I have to get some on my way to the fabric store. Echo was most perturbed that we were rearranging furniture and especially when we took the bed apart and moved her sleeping chair. Oh, boy. Nuerotic dog. Seriously, this dog needs to get out more. LOLAnyway, now I need to go clean up and change clothes so I can go fabric shopping. Back later!

May 11, 2005

Its getting too busy...
I'm getting too busy and yet it seems I'm standing in place.Work is going well. MEB is down in the Valley a lot lately. My hours are strange, some days I get off at 12 noon, other days I'm there until 2 pm, 3pm, 4pm, 5pm...At home, Richard and I are progressing on the house. Two weekends ago, we cleared out the attic and some of the garage, plus all the boxes stored in Richard's office (the books and stuff we packed up when we cleaned out the living room for space and painting). I came home last Friday and started right in, cleaning the now almost empty attic. We keep our moving boxes wherever we go so we don't have to buy much during moves. I swept the attic out then stacked the boxes neatly.Once that was done it was time to start on the garage. I loaded all the stuff going to the dump into my car. I loaded all the stuff going to the storage unit into the trailer. I then swept and cleaned up as best I could. I had this bright idea to put the hurricane shutters in the attic. Well. About the 4th shutter, I wrenched my back really bad. Rather than resting, I decided to keep working and just try to be more careful. Big mistake. Ricahrd rushed home and helped me take the stuff to the dump and then we went to the storage unit. He had to unload everything by himself. The next day we took off to visit Jenny. Four hours in the car going up and coming back. We went for a joint birthday/Mother's Day dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. VERY good! My back was screaming by the time Richard and I got home, though. Jacuzzi, heating pad and some aspirin did much to let me sleep through the night. On Sunday, we did a run to Goodwill and finished up the garage. It's amazing how big that garage is when its not loaded with junk! If I want to, i can park my car in there right next to the trailer! On Monday, Richard and I fiddled around the house, doing a little cleaning and packing. I went to bed early because my back was still hurting. Last night, we re-caulked the kitchen sink. Its needed it for a while, but we never got around to it. I also cleaned the music room from top to bottom and closed the door. That room stays closed while we continue getting the rest of the house ready for the real estate agent. Tonight, I made another curtain for the living room windows. I got off work late, so don't feel like doing much. I may make another curtain...or even both of them. Off to play.

Writing News...
And oh, yes! I've been writing steadily for two weeks now. I am getting up half an hour early every morning. I am doing at least 3 pages a day. I've been getting more than 3 pages in most days. Today I had some free time and ended up writing nearly 20 pages! I've also been attending some chats with various publishers and authors to get myself back into the writing world. I'm enjoying it. I have a full request from By Grace Publishing and a deadline of June 1, 2005. If the book is accepted, it will be published in the Christmas timeframe. This is a holiday story called HOME FOR CHRISTMAS. I will post further news as I get it. And I submitted another book to Cerridwen Press. The tentative title is ONE TOUGH LADY. Still waiting to hear on it. Back to work and play!

April 28, 2005

Various and Sundry...
Richard went off to a conference Sunday afternoon for 4 days. I stayed here and shopped and did some promotional stuff for my writing. My critique group had a chat with some guest authors and editors - very enlightening and fun. I made up a spa basket of bath salts, oatmeal facial soap, candles and an imported chocolate bar with a wrapper that had all our book covers on the front. I mailed them out yesterday. Work has been very busy, MEB in the Valley and me staying longer hours to cover for him being gone. We got the new windows installed today. Both my old office and my new office needed new glass windows. The old ones were double paned and water had leaked between the panes, mildewing, crusting over and basically etching the glass. All manner of solvents were used to try to clean them, but none worked. So, new windows. They didn't cost as much as I expected, but the difference in brightness is amazing. I bought fabric to make the curtains for the windows next to the fireplace. I also bought curtain rods. What's there now is very pretty, but I've never liked them. Big frou-frou Victorian drapery with pouffy valances and all of it nailed or glued to the boards and the wall! No way to ever take them down to clean. The best I could do was vacuum the drapery. Richard and the girls liked the look and I didn't want to mess with them because other things in the house needed fixing more. Now that we are moving out, I want the house to look light and bright for the sale, so now...I get to really do the curtains the way I want. The irony that I won't get to keep them long is not lost upon me. Tonight is the beginning of my editing. I am writing one novel and editing another. Trying to work on both alternately so they get equal time. What little spare time I have, that is.Off to work on writing.

April 17, 2005

Work and work and more work...
We met our new neighbors yesterday...seem to be okay folk.I completely sewed the top of SECOND STAR TO THE LEFT, STRAIGHT ON TILL MORNING together. This is the quilt that was lying on the floor. The one Echo and Flint misappropriated blocks from to play with in their wrassling. It looks way kewl. Alas! What I had intended to use as backing is NOT big enough! Sigh. Off to the fabric store one of these days to find something appropriate. The quilt's name comes from Peter Pan (the book). Peter tells Wendy that he lives at "Second star to the right, straight on till morning." The people who participated in this swap all decided to twist the points of the Friendship Stars we made to the right. I had planned to do a spiral galaxy layout and I was hoping they'd go left. When they didn't - I made ONE of my blocks with left-pointed stars. I placed it in the second position at the start of the center spiral of my galaxy set. It looks pretty cool. I found a star fabric that has tiny gold and silver stars all over it, so that's the background. As soon as I can figure out what I am doing wrong in regards to my webpage, I'll post pictures. Richard is painting the closet here in my sewing room. I have to turn on the fan, which blows the fabric around so I suppose I need to meander into another room for the duration. Or, I can go take a nap.

April 15, 2005

I knew it would happen...
So I laid quilt blocks out on the floor of my new sewing room because I CAN! I played with the setting of the Friendship Stars until I got it looking exactly how I wanted it (a spiral galaxy sort of thing). I knew, but chose to ignore the fact that Echo and Flint have a daily run...down the hallway, to tumble into this room and wrassle, then run back up the hallway to the living room to wrassle. The hallway is like 25 feet long, which is why they enjoy this, I suppose. Now, I knew they'd be messing up the quilt blocks, but I took a picture so I'm not worried about getting it set right again. But I forgot about their penchant for hauling stuff off. Anything on the floor is theirs. Neither one of them chews anything up (except paper...which Friskey, our beloved now-gone kitty did, too - so we think it’s a family pet genetic thing). Anyway, today I came in from work to find the quilt blocks all tumbled about...and a quilt block in the living room.I picked it up, looked at Flint sternly and said, "MINE!" I'm not sure, but I think he snorted. And later, he probably told Echo all about the silly human pet thinking that floor toys were hers.Richard is back from his conference. He's glad to be home! Echo was thrilled to see him. Flint was more sedate, but just as happy. Mom called me this morning. She entered a contest on the TODAY SHOW. Its called LIVE FOR TODAY and they asked people if they had the time and money, what kind of things would they like to do that they've always dreamed of. They had 55,000 entries. Mom's made it to the top 50. Now the viewers have to vote. Here's where you go vote: go vote and choose, as one of your 5 choices, SIPPING A MINT JULEP AT THE KENTUCKY DERBY. That's Mom's entry. If its one of the top 5, she will win that prize of going to the Kentucky Derby. Thank you!Off to write!

April 14, 2005

I sold a story!
Yes, I sold another story! Yippee! I'd totally forgotten about it. I got the contract in the mail today so I signed and shipped it right back out. I wrote about 20 pages last night, not sure of count because I edited out some stuff that sucked away 5 pages or so. The story is moving right along and I hope to have it done shortly. Its time to move on! I want to work on other stuff. Getting bored with this one. Not that I haven't had fun with it - but I along about 2/3 of the way through all I want to do is finish the darned thing! I'll probably write more tonight, too. Flint and Echo are having fun this evening - its such a nice day now that weather is warming up that people are going for more walks. The dogs can see right out the front bedroom windows and enjoy watching the street so they can keep an eye on things. Lots of barking and excitement as people and other dogs go by.Okay, off to write!

April 10, 2005

Now that the girls have emptied the house...
Yes, now that Jenny's moved out, we discovered the house really is empty. Nothing in Jenny's bedroom. Leslie's bedroom just became a dump-the-junk room in addition to a small corner being Richard's office. So, it's time for a change. I made my 13 X 13 office into the music room. Jenny's tiny little 1/4 violin, Leslie's 1/2 violin, and the full size violin are on stands. Leslie's 3/4 violin is broken. I need to get it repaired. I also put my bowed psaltry and guitar on stands. Then we moved the piano in there. Pa made me a toy rickshaw and a lap desk and I have them in there, too. Above the piano I hung my first quilt and my friend ElizaBeth's cross-stitch picture that says "Music is a fair and glorious gift from God." I also left the tiny color-wheel quilt on the wall. The closet will become the pantry, once I remove the sewing stuff. The room looks spacious and pretty. I moved my sewing room and office into Jenny's old room (14 X 15 feet). I moved the Singer 99 treadle out of the living room and in here because there is more room and it looks really nice. Right now, I am doing clean-up in the new sewing room/office. Once I am done in my new room, I'll start working on Richard's office. I will remove Leslie's behemoth desk and put Jenny's little portable computer desk in there. The roll-top is already on there. The room will look really nice once we get rid of the junk and the boxes.It still amazes me how little we have, compared to how jam-packed this house was. Jenny and Leslie really did have a lot of furniture and other stuff. Both had lived on their own in apartments before, so when they stopped, they simply gave it all to us to store until they needed it again. Even my kitchen and bathroom cupboards are roomier. Both girls took all their cookware and kitchen things that had been integrated with mine. I actually have empty cupboards because we just don't have that much stuff!My break for dinner is over, time to get back to work on this room.

April 9, 2005

Some days, everything works...
I got off early today, MEB's back in town. Only for the day, but still. So I decided to run errands. I went to the bank and deposited checks. I mailed my sister's now-fixed computer back to her ( on postage prices for THAT)! I ran to the bookstore to get Elizabeth Peters' latest in the Amelia Peabody series and to get Jenny the FIX IT AND FORGET IT COOKBOOK. I stopped at the music store to get 5 music stands for the guitar and the violins. My old office/sewing room is going to be a music room and library when I am done. I stopped to buy more book boxes to pack things in for the move after we sell the house (and to mail stuff to people, too). I came home to find a SALE PENDING SIGN on my neighbor's house - he sold! I still don't know for how much. I called the agent and she said she couldn't tell me while the sale was pending but that it was listed at one price and it sold for close to that. This is good news for us. I have another bedroom and a pool, so our price will be slightly higher. Jenny came home long enough to eat, take a shower and get dressed again to go out with Marissa to meet friends. She wandered in around 3 am...she had to sleep on the couch as we have no beds here now, except our own. As soon as Richard and I got up, she went and climbed into our bed. LOL. The dogs are keeping her company.I have to rouse her soon so we can head off to take her back home. She loves her apartment and is enjoying it a lot and can't wait for us to see it. We're going with tools to help her hang some shelves and pictures. Anyway, on that note, I must be off.

April 7, 2005

And so it goes...
I packed up all the stuff Jenny wanted to send to Goodwill. It’s in the trunk of my car, all ready to be dropped off. There's more in the garage, but I think I'll deal with that when I get to the garage. When I cleaned the baseboards in her room...well, they're all scratched up and need to be repainted after all. I was hoping to begin moving my sewing room in this evening, but now I have to wait until after Sunday. Richard won't have time to paint until then. Jenny rode down tonight with her friend, Marissa. They're out visiting a friend and will stay there overnight. Tomorrow, Jenny will drop by here and we'll take her back up to her apartment. That way, we get to see it and Jenny also gets Daddy (Richard) to put up some shelves and pictures on her walls. I packed up the things she'd forgotten, too. Those will be all ready to go when we head out on Saturday. We're making progress...sigh. Off to finish up the laundry.

April 2, 2005

And so, new beginnings...
Jenny is officially moved to her new place four hours up the road from here. However, she only stayed there long enough to unpack, then headed out to a bridal shower in Baton Rouge, LA for one of her buddies! She should be returning tomorrow, I think. The complex is in the shape of a square with a large inner courtyard. The outer ring of the courtyard is the parking garage. The inside is the actual courtyard with pools, plants, a Jacuzzi and other such things. Each floor has its own parking garage. Jenny's apartment is near the end of the hallway away from the garage. The manager informed her that most folk buy those little baskets with wheels to cart their groceries in. Jenny went out and bought a little red Radio Flyer wagon. She says it will be part of the decor in her apartment when not in use. I thought that was pretty cute. Richard and I had a nice day today. We had to mail the paid bills and taxes off (the only bummer!) and deposit checks. We then went to the mall and bought summer clothes for Richard for work. A quick trip to the commissary and by luck, it was case-lot sale day. We stocked up on shampoo, conditioner, crackers, bottled water, body wash and rice. We left to go to lunch and then came back on base to go to the Exchange and commissary again. I found a really nice cotton sweater in the Exchange and we bought a few other items, too. Then off to the commissary for the real groceries. Richard had decided to make won-ton soup for dinner so bought all the ingredients for that. By the time we dragged home, the dogs were thrilled to be let out in the yard to run and play while we lugged groceries in. Eventually, they settled down to take a nap with me while Richard played on the Internet and watched TV. I woke up to find him industriously cooking dinner. I helped wrap the won-tons and then wandered off to chat (online) with Gerrie. Dinner was pretty good. We both decided that although we liked the won-ton soup broth, my recipe for won-tons is actually better. Next time we'll try mine with his soup broth. I've been sporadically cleaning out the kids/guest bathroom linen closet and under-sink cabinet. Jenny took most of her stuff, leaving the bathroom cabinets surprisingly empty. I'd not realized how much stuff under there and in the linen closet was hers! A lot of what she left was half-empty bottles and junk. I've been consolidating some of it and tossing the junk. Richard will be tackling Jenny's bedroom tomorrow. He will paint the closet and possibly the baseboards and ceiling. Her walls only need a smidge of touch-up - she was careful hanging stuff once we painted it. Once he is done, I will move my office/sewing room in there and make this bedroom the music room. I will buy stands for the guitar, violins and bowed psaltry and we'll shove the piano in here, too. I will leave the bookcase to give it a library effect, too. I'll probably convert this closet into the pantry, too. This bedroom is closest to the kitchen, so it makes sense. All in all, an exciting day and more to come tomorrow.