Saturday, September 24, 2005

This is The Calvert Hotel ( 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 ( 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 ( .

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 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 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 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, 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? - 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...

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.