Category Archives: volunteering

Galveston’s Library

One of the places in Galveston that was badly flooded by Hurricane Ike was Rosenberg Library. It’s near downtown, where 10 to 12 feet of sea water came in from Galveston Bay, and all that water completely wiped out everything on the library’s first floor. Basically, the entire children’s library. This first picture is a view looking in from the door. The spiral staircase leads up to the adult section, and the children’s library is, I believe, off to the left, if the camera’s facing the direction I think it is. You see all the CDs in the right foreground? Mud and salt water isn’t good for CDs.

They lost the entire children’s collection. Not just books, but shelving and chairs and DVDs and CDs and finger puppets and everything. The wave action picked up everything that wasn’t fastened down–and some things that were (I think I see part of the front counter in this second picture.) and tossed them around. They do not even have shelves to put books on, so they can’t really accept donations of actual books. But if y’all have a few dollars to spare–even just $5–that would go a long way to getting Rosenberg Library to the point where they CAN get books (and other materials) back in the hands of the kids.

Right now, the children’s librarians are doing mobile storytimes. It’s a “You provide the place and kids, we’ll bring the stories and fun,” kind of thing where people can call and request a librarian with a story. Even with their facility in this kind of mess (and they are beginning to get the mess cleaned out–beginning to), they’re providing services.

Parts of Galveston, like my neighborhood, escaped with very little damage. Other parts–well, they look like these pictures. (You can see the layered mud on the floor in this last picture–a lot of the books and other materials were sunk in that stuff.) There are so many needs here, so many people that need help. This is the one that speaks to me. Books have made a difference in my life. Books need to be available to make a difference in the lives of the children of Galveston.

Y’all can visit Rosenberg Library on their website, where there is a donation button, or you can send a donation to Rosenberg Library, 2310 Sealy Ave., Galveston, TX 77550. (Any donation is tax-deductible.) Anything is appreciated.

Thanks, y’all.

Life, Interrupted

But then, isn’t interruption life’s constant?

This week has been the pits as far as getting any writing done. I think I got a page on Monday. Maybe two. It was a holiday for the fella, and he didn’t stay gone as long as I thought he would. Tuesday, he had a meeting in Austin, so I went to visit the aging parents, and shopped for fabric with Mom for my costume for the Victorian Christmas festival.

Mom is getting forgetful, and kept saying things like “Oh, that will be so hot.” Whereupon I had to remind her (several times) that no, the festival is at Christmas, and it won’t be hot, but might be warm, which is why I picked a pattern with a jacket, so I could take the jacket off, if it was warm. We looked at a bunch of stores and a bunch of possibilities–black, seafoam green, a pinkish lavender (really nice suiting wool), and even a gorgeous satin in royal blue with embroidered silver butterflies. I figured I needed to pick the jacket fabric first, then pick the fabric(s) to make the dress to go with the jacket. And there wasn’t enough of the only fabric that I really thought would go with the blue and silver to make the huge, hoop skirt. (Good grief, I’m probably going to have to make a hooped petticoat too, huh?)

So, my costume is going to be red. Not a bright red, more of a dark cranberry red. The jacket is a jacquard upholstery fabric–the kind with texture in a floral pattern. But it will work for jackets too. The skirt is a darker red, almost maroon–I kept having to explain to Mom that no, I didn’t want a white or cream skirt, even though that was what the pattern showed, because this festival is outdoors, and I didn’t want to be dragging a white skirt through the streets–and the bodice will be an old-fashioned pink rosebud stripe (pink stripes alternating with pink and green rosebuds on off-white), so I think it will look very mid-Victorian-ish. The construction is VERY complicated, which is why I’m starting now. I’ve got eleven months to finish it. I’ve got six weeks to cut it out, before I can go get my sewing machine. So this is my project for the year, even though I haven’t finished projects from previous years. I will probably be putting in the miles and miles of hem the Friday night before the event, knowing me.

Ah well. Now I’ll have to give a regular “costume report” too… (It’s lined, both jacket and bodice, and interfaced, and there’s supposed to be boning in the bodice, which I don’t know if I will put in, but we will see…) Seriously, y’all, wish me luck.

I did actually think about the writing while I was there. The aging parents are getting ready to move–even though they haven’t actually put their house on the market yet–and have been going through their books. They found a copy of my old Master’s thesis on China missions, and I read through most of it, checking on my research. A couple of things I thought I remembered, but couldn’t confirm, I found in there–like the city on the Yangtze usually referred to as Wuhan is actually made up of three cities on 3 sides of the river (it’s very river-y right there), Wuchang, Hanyang and Hankow–I don’t know how they’d be spelled in the current transliteration, though. Anyway–I could remember Hankow, but couldn’t remember what the other two cities were. And they had a huge world atlas where I looked up the maps of China to check on city names and geography of my story, etc. So I did think about it. Just didn’t do any. Also judged a contest.

Haven’t done any writing today either. Had a dentist appointment this a.m. and now have very clean teeth, and no need to go back for more work. (YAY!!) Other things are developing–but I’ll share when I know more.

Think I’m going to stay in out of the cold nasty wind and rain (mostly drizzle, but it rained hard on me when I ran into the post office) and coddle the cold I’m trying to get so I can sing Sunday a.m. Good thing I essentially sing bass. I have never (knock on wood) completely lost my voice, but it has been known to drop into the cellar. I used to scare my Girl Scouts when I got hoarse, because my voice got so deep and rough. And maybe I’ll try to get a newsletter out. I’ve owed one to my subscribers for a while now…

Gigi tries to keep up

It’s interesting, the things a three-year-old boy finds hilarious. Or an almost-six year old. The simple mention of the word “fart” or even “toot.” “Tee-tee,” will send them into gales of laughter–falling-down-on-the-floor laughter. Which itself is also cause for more hilarity. In two and a half days (they aren’t awake yet today, which is the only reason I’m here writing this…), I have learned alot about preschooler potty-mouth. Yeah. I’ve got the grandboys. They’ll be here for another week.

I did get the entire ms. of New Blood gone through, but haven’t got it all into the computer yet. Need to get busy with that, maybe at night after they’ve gone to bed. They don’t go to sleep once they go to bed, understand. I have to stay up to send them back when they pop back up again. It’s a little like whack-a-mole, except without the whacking. And to carry the little one to “Wunka Bob’s bed ” when he falls asleep in mine. (He tends to annoy his big brother, who really would rather sleep, and likes Granddaddy better anyway.)

We’ve been going to the library. Summer Reading program is this week, so we go listen to someone read stories, and make things, and sing songs and eat cookies, then we check out ONE video each. (The first day we went, they had a pile of about 15 videos they wanted to check out.) And ONE book each. (Police Cat is a pretty cool book. Not so wild about The King Who Sneezed.)

I have four packed-up boxes of books in the middle of my office floor…the box of totebags is in the garage already. I’ve cleaned out the TBR books I don’t think I’ll ever read–most of them, anyway, and have packed a box of hardback contemporaries to thin out the bookshelves in the living room. Took three boxes of cookbooks, a box of paperback fiction, plus three totebags stuffed full on Monday–and there are more yet to go. And of course, more books coming in. I’ve got to have something to read, you know. Even if I’m moving… 😉

Better go get the boys up, if we’re going to make it to the library on time…

Smacked in the Head

Getting smacked in the head sounds painful, but it’s not always bad.

This morning, while I was “snoozing,” waiting for the phone to go off again (I hate lunging across the king-sized bed for the alarm on the other side, so I set my phone), I was smacked in the head by The Perfect First Sentence for a new story. And I had to get up and write it down. I wrote for 30 minutes, and got 2 pages. I just love it when that happens. :)

I’ll have to make some notes and figure out further plot and stuff, but the idea’s been churning around in my subconscious for the past 3 months while I’ve been working on finishing New Blood, so it’s not hitting me cold…the hero of the new book is a secondary character in New Blood. So I’ve got him characterized, pretty much. (I originally cast Ralph Fiennes as this character, but he sorta morphed into Johnny Depp–more as he was in The Libertine than as Jack Sparrow…) I’m using the subplot I excised from NB as the main plot of the new hero’s book. I just have to learn exactly who the heroine is, and what sort of magic she’s best suited for. OH, and I came up with what I think is the perfect title. The new hero is a conjurer who works spirit magic, like the heroine in New Blood is a sorceress who works blood magic, so the new title is OLD SPIRITS. Yeah, I guess I’m excited a little bit…

I spent the day selling sausage wraps and breakfast burritos to the 2400 competitors (from 6th through 12th grade) in the judging contest the local community college sponsors. The Friends of the Library went to serve breakfast–and lunch. I ate one of each for my lunch. Yum. I had to get all my marshmallow treats for the sale made yesterday, so I could go with the fella to the estate auction in Amarillo.

The really good stuff was going up under the hammer today, so I didn’t get the cool shamrock teapot or any of the neat things–last night they were just selling the box lots. My job is to say “Oooh, that looks cool, let’s bid on that” and then sit in the chair and read my book and not look like I’m bidding. Last night, I read Her Perfect Life by Vicki Hinze–a FANTABULOUS book, and one of the Rita finalists. I’d already picked it up, and was meaning to read it when the Rita nominations came out, so that just made me read it sooner. Loved it.

We bought a box of copper stuff, and a box of boxes (mostly jewelry boxes, but there was a Silver Jubilee biscuit tin from 1935 and a really weird rawhide earring tree thing, and a cool inlaid mosaic-type box that was the one I really wanted for me), and three boxes of books that had Tarot decks in them. I read Tarot, so I wanted the boxes with the decks. And the one with Hopi legends–there was a lot of New Age-y stuff that will be good for research, and some Santa Fe art catalogs. Oh, and we got a couple of rolling file cabinet things for $10 each. Not bad. No idea where we’ll put the file box things, but… I have stuff to fill them up. And then I got to eat dinner at the Texas Roadhouse. It’s really noisy, but we like the food.


I have signed into Blogger at least three times this week, intending to blog, and never got anything written. I did manage to blog this week, but this was three other times I came here to blog again, and never did.

I even had some things to write about. Like, how when I walked down to the bank this week, the librarian saw me heading back (the library is half a block down the street from the bank), and came out and hollered at me to come sign something. I had to sign something to send in to the State Library people. Or maybe the federal Library people. I don’t know. I did read it, but I don’t remember who it was for. I’d forgotten that she called me last week or so and asked whether I was the president of the Library Advisory Board.

I knew I was on the board, but had no clue whether I was the president or not. I’ve been on it for over a year, and we’ve met once. And when Jerri Ann said she thought I was the new president, I said, fine, I’ll be the president. Only now she tells me we need to meet and come up with a policy for the kids’ computer use at the library once school is let out. Sigh. And one of our board members lives way out of town past a couple of slidy hills and some low-water crossings and can’t get to town if it’s raining, so of course it’s been storming all week…

This is like when I agreed to be the vice president for the Friends of the Library, because I wouldn’t have to do very much. Then we discovered that we had to completely split the Friends from the Advisory Board, and the president of FoL went over to be an Advisor, and I got to be the President of FoL–and that was when the treasurer discovered that we really needed to fill out the official IRS paperwork to become an official non-profit organization (even though we barely fundraise $500 per year), AND we needed to re-do our bylaws to make them fit with the IRS papers. Sigh. This always happens to me.

I did remember to go to community choir practice this week. It was sounding pretty good when the second soprano showed up so us altos weren’t drowning out the only soprano who was there for most of rehearsal. Oh well. Performance is Palm Sunday. AKA this coming Sunday. Hopefully, whatever’s making the gunk in my throat will die and I can sing all those Fs without getting rattly. For some reason, an F (the low one–I haven’t been able to hit a high F in 25 years)(I can only hit a high E when the sun is shining, all allergens are dead and the birds are singing sweetly in the trees. E-flat is generally possible.) shakes loose all the gunk in my throat, when there is gunk, and makes me cough. It’s not where the voice breaks–that’s somewhere around an A or B–it’s just the gunk vibration note. (And I’m sure y’all really wanted to know all that…)

The daughter made an A in her probability class for her statistics PhD. The younger son made a 99 on his engineering test. (This after majoring in theater performance and theater design for 3 semesters before switching to engineering.) We haven’t heard from the older son in a while. Hmm. So, life is mostly good.

Oh, and today, we went to town and bought half-price ready made frames for a couple of paintings, and put them up in the son’s room. They look pretty good, if I say so myself. It all started when we moved out the old broken-down dresser and moved in this antique chest/armoire/desk thing (it has drawers, a door where you can hang up things, and a pull-down writing area). Then I brought in one single painting (see above) to see how it looked over the armoire/desk–and the fella said to bring out all the paintings-ready-to-hang, and we found two more that looked good. We put the “Breakfast in Tuscany” painting over the chest/desk and the one above across the room, and a big “boys at the beach” painting above the bed, but to one side, not over the headboard. Yeah, we started something.