Monday, October 17, 2016

After Matthew Part II

Things are finally getting back to normal here after Hurricane Matthew. The power is back on (hopefully for good this week), our cable is working again, the roads have been cleared and we've finished cleaning up our yard mess. All my guy has left to do is chop up the one tree we lost:

My guy and I decided to take a drive down to Daytona to get away for a day and find out how they fared, and as you can see from the pictures I snapped the beach took a hard hit:

The Hilton's first floor was completely flooded, and they've had to gut every room on that level as they dry out. Everywhere we saw things that were sand-blasted, warped or buried by the storm surge. Even the boardwalk stairs down to the sand were smashed to smithereens. It looked to me like half the beach itself was gone. Part of A1A was still closed as they worked on repairing the road. But their cleanup efforts were stupendous, and the local businesses and hotels were open, so recovery is well underway.

Monday, October 10, 2016

After Matthew

Thanks to everyone who prayed and e-mailed and left messages for us during Hurricane Matthew. We made it through the storm in better shape than we expected; some of the siding on our house peeled off, and we had some roof and tree damage, but we lost only one old oak at the back of our property.

The wind was definitely the biggest issue for us; it took my guy a day to clean up all the debris that blew into our yard from other places. We have lovely neighbors who helped out without us even asking. Other than some big rain puddles we had no flooding to speak of here. The power failures, phone and cable disruptions during and after the storm could have been a lot worse, too. No one in our extended family suffered any unfixable damages, either.

Bottom line: we were very, very fortunate. Much of our part of the country was not as lucky, and we are keeping everyone in the southeast in our prayers.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Storm Hiatus

Paperback Writer will be on hiatus for the duration of Hurricane Matthew and the aftermath. I'm hoping that won't be too long, and I'll check in with you all whenever I can. In the meantime, please send good thoughts our way.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Storm Prep

The National Hurricane Center has posted an advisory here on Hurricane Matthew, which is currently a category 4 storm with sustained winds of 140 mph. The Caribbean is likely to take a hard hit, but beyond that they're not sure where Matthew will go. North is pretty much a given. You can take a look at the latest projection cone here, and I strongly recommend everyone in the southeast keep an eye on this one.

If you're ever in or around the path of a hurricane, you should know your route out if you will be facing an evacuation. Florida residents, you can find yours here by county. If you're going to stay home and hunker down during the storm, it's absolutely vital to have a disaster kit ready, including enough drinking water and non-perishable foods in the event you're cut off in the aftermath. I can speak from personal experience on this; after four hurricanes in a row hit us back in 2004, we felt very lucky that we had prepared so well in advance. We lived without power and running water for 21 days until they finally cleared the roads enough for us to drive out and restock.

I live in a rural area, so if we take a hit here from Hurricane Matthew it will probably be a while before our power and cable service are restored. I'll report in when I can. In the meantime, everyone in the danger zone please prepare for this, and be safe.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Book(s) of the Month

This week I have lots of book news, beginning with a heads-up from Library Thing that I've won a copy of 50 Ways to Wear Denim by Lauren Friedman from the September batch of Early Reviewer Program books. It might seem like an odd choice, but I've been trying to put my name in for a wider assortment of available titles. This increases my chances of being selected, and I can also test-drive some new-to-me genres and authors. While I don't own a lot of denim clothes, I thought I might learn something that would tempt me to wear what I have more often. I'm also going to have my very fashionable daughter take a look at it and share her thoughts.

I usually start talking about National Novel Writing Month in August, but being off on hiatus has me a bit behind. They've already posted the official participant badges and banners here, and, well, let's be honest: the little space guy looks like an elaborate ninja can opener. I'll see if I can put together something slightly more attractive to offer as an alternative. As I mentioned earlier this year I won't be joining in the fun, but as always I will write up some pep talks, hunt down some helpful links and otherwise shake my pom poms from the sidelines for all of you who decide to write a book in thirty days this November.

My book of the month for September was actually a short story: Second Son by Lee Child, which can be found in the back pages of his novel The Affair. It can also be purchased as a standalone e-book.

This was not a new read for me; it happens to be one of my favorite short stories of all time, so there wasn't much the other books I read could do to compete. As a very early prequel to the Jack Reacher series Second Son meshes quite well with the novels, and explains a bit of the mysterious family dynamic that resulted in Reacher becoming the somewhat psycho savior he was fated to be. It's intensely satisfying to see how Reacher deals with a bully and manages to solve two other mysteries in the process. I will caution you all that there is a particularly vicious fight scene between minors, and if bullying and violence between kids are triggers for you, you should give it a pass.

Expect some clean, spare, precise (almost surgical) depictions of Reacher and some other very interesting people. There are fascinating glimpses into the lives of children who travel with an active duty military parent. Each time I read it I fall a little in love with Reacher's father, too; his POV is presented just briefly but it makes the whole story. I think it works well as a standalone, and as an introduction to this universe (if you are one of the two or three people left on Earth who haven't read this author, start here.) It's not so long that you get mired down in a lot of stuff you won't need to know if you want to move on to the series, either. On top of that it's superbly written. I highly recommend it.

What was your book of the month for September? Let us know in comments.

Monday, September 26, 2016


I have a new e-reader, and it's a Kindle Paperwhite. The primary reason I have it is that I got it for free, along with the case, from my guy's employer. He gets points every year from work that are redeemable for stuff online, but he never uses them. If he retires next year he will lose all the points, so we decided to cash them in this year. I first tried to talk my kid into getting a tablet (he also had enough for a small one of those) but she wasn't interested in that or anything else that was available.

I've made peace with finally having a Kindle, too. I've resisted getting an e-reader for years, until the family bought me a Nook. That finally died on me earlier this year, and (even if I could afford it) I'm not sure getting a new Nook is a good idea. I worry about B&N and what's going to happen to it after the holidays. So I've been reading e-books on my desktop for the last couple of months to compensate, and it's difficult to finish anything because of the big monitor in my face.

Honestly, I'm not thrilled to be supporting Amazon, but I was already buying from them a few e-books that I couldn't get from any other bookseller, and rental textbooks for my college kid. A lot of my favorite authors have gone exclusive with Amazon, so a Kindle is necessary if I want to continue to read their work, especially when they publish in electronic format only. I can keep telling myself I didn't pay for the e-reader, so it doesn't count, but of course it does. I want to support my author pals more than I want to boycott Amazon, so it's an easy decision.

I also have the chore of transferring all my unread my e-books from my desktop Kindle reader to the e-reader. I decided to move one e-book at a time, and read it before I transfer another file, which will allow me to avoid having two TBRs. The only thing I have done is start putting my name in for ARC e-books at Library Thing when there is no paper copy available in their Early Reviewers Program. Having a Kindle may help me get more free books that way.

I'd like to take the Kindle with me when I'm away from home, too. For one thing it's a lot smaller and lighter than the Nook, and the non-glare screen is easier on my eyes. It would be nice to have some books with me when I'm waiting somewhere, or maybe sit and read at the park or an outdoor cafe. This might open up a whole new way of reading for me, especially when cooler weather rolls around soon.

Now if I could just figure out how to keep the damn thing from turning itself on . . . .

Friday, September 23, 2016

Summer Fun

It's funny that almost the minute I come back from hiatus, every other thing that pops up in my face is about two very famous people getting a divorce (and forgive me for not naming them, but I'm not inclined to join in the hen party/crow fest.) These were the same two people who got together in properly scandalous fashion back when I started PBW, so it's a little ironic that I've outlasted them. Or may not. The day I retire they'll probably get married again or have a secret baby or something. Well, at least they're not Kardashians.

What have I done that I can talk about . . . I finished quilting the lap quilt I made for my Mom's birthday:

I machine pieced it but hand-quilted it, and battled my aversion to the color yellow in the process. Yellow pretty much won me over, but it was a necessary surrender. Since Mom is spending the winter in Oregon I wanted this to invoke summer and sunshine. The pattern is Atkinson Design's Yellow Brick Road, which uses blocks made by cutting up fat quarters into strips and piecing them in different ways. Very easy to do, with nice results.

I also rehabbed a Victorian-era photo album into an art journal, which was a first for me. Here's how the album looked with its worn and torn velvet covers, and dirty celluloid flowers, before rehab:

This was a delicate challenge, because I had to carefully remove the celluloid before I cleaned the cover. I also made a new binding for it and handstitched it together. Here's how it looked after being cleaned, repaired, and bound with my journal pages:

I loved being able to show on the front some of the original blue velvet used for the covers, which the dirty flowers actually protected for a hundred years or so. Here's a peek inside:

I made all the pages with recycled papers, old calendars and some pages left over from another art journal. It turned out massive but so worth it. I have another old photo album in red velvet that I'm going to rehab in the same way.

Finally my kid and I made our annual summer pilgrimage to the no-kill cat shelter to make a donation and spend some time with the kitties. They really love her:

Even the suspicious ones were cute:

And of course I fell in love (again):

My guy and I have made the difficult decision not to adopt any more cats, as they tend to be very long-lived with us, and we're not getting any younger. We also don't want to introduce an older cat into a household that at present has two very active, nosy dogs. That and we really are dog people. But that just means I can go and visit the shelter whenever I need a feline fix.

So did you all have any creative adventures over the summer? Share your stories in comments.