Apr 13

De-Moated!

Back on March 22nd, the denizens of HarpHaven found ourselves, with all of half-a-nanosecond warning, watching big honkin’ implements of destruction tearing up a portion of our front walkway and leaving a hole in which one could conveniently hide a classic VW bug. (See entry for March 25: When City Contractors Attack.) The work in the neighborhood was supposed to be concluded by March 31st. You know where this is going.

Weather plays a big part in construction timelines, so I can’t entirely blame the contractor. Storms, some of them right nasty, have been a regular occurrence in the last several weeks. Each storm refilled the moat where my walkway used to be and kept the construction workers from their city-assigned task. When it wasn’t raining, we could hear work taking place on other streets in the area. Three plus weeks in, the front of my house was still a wheelie-no-go zone. It was getting a little old.

A call was placed to the number listed for the onsite supervisor, explaining that we understood about rain delays, but that the situation was starting to be a problem for the wheelchair-user in the family and asking when he thought they might be over this way to finish. He couldn’t give us a timeframe, he said, but would send someone over to cover the hole with something that might serve as a “bridge”. He got points for his attitude and for sounding like he at least understood the situation.

He got more points when, before the end of the day, there was *something* covering the hole. Granted, it was too flimsy for the BattleChariot and substantial occupant -- let’s just say I wouldn’t have ventured across it had the Tardis landed in the middle of the street and the 10th, 12th, and War Doctors, *and* Jack Harkness had stepped out and beckoned me aboard. But the supervisor was trying to be helpful, and that counts.

Yesterday, about noon, I looked out to see framing and rebar in the hole, and by late afternoon, concrete had been poured and smoothed into a a very nice section of walkway. That supervisor is getting a thank-you call shortly, and later today, I’m going out to reacquaint myself with the front of my house.

HarpHaven has been de-moated, and I am very happy.

Apr 8

Playing By The Rules

Somewhere – on a forgotten shelf of The Library, deep in the bowels of Warehouse 13, or hidden away in a niche on the Disappearing Seventh Level of Mammoth Cave - there is an ancient book. It’s the Universal Manual, the rules by which the universe operates, and it is a fearsome thing.

One of the rules contained therein is “An absolutely necessary tool will break at the absolutely worst possible time.” I am here to attest that, when it comes to printers, that rule is followed with fanatic zeal around these parts. Last weekend, I was printing out royalty statements and envelopes for The Ladies of Trade Town when my printer started screaming like a banshee. It went to Valhalla with the sudden and unmistakable smell of hot metal and the sound of an electric motor giving its last.

This was the printer that replaced the one that died in the middle of running galleys for Prejudice By The Pound in the fall of 2007, and it served well and faithfully through the publication of The Ladies of Trade Town and Bard’s Road, in addition to vigorous, everyday use. I certainly can’t complain that it didn’t earn its keep. I’m not thrilled that I’d just replaced the toner cartridge before starting the statement run, especially given that nothing running in residence take the same kind, but there’s probably a rule in the Universal Manual to cover that, too.

The printer normally used to print CDs finished the statements, which are winging their way, along with royalty checks, to their recipients. A new printer, with which I’m quite pleased, has been acquired and installed. Things are back to what we laughingly call “normal” around here.

And we’ve confirmed, once again, that the Rules of the Universe are still in operation.

Apr 4

Change Happens - Again

Last week, a nearly twenty-year association with SFFNet ended when that much-loved online home for writers, editors, and fans of SF&F closed it doors for the final time. Just now, a ten-plus year association ended when I deleted my account at LiveJournal.

LiveJournal was my first blog account and served me pretty well. I enjoyed reading posts from my friends and fans, and used it to keep them in the loop about developments in my professional and personal life. But little by little, it was dying. And then the rumors and reports that it had been sold to a Russian company began a few months ago.

This morning, I signed on as usual, and was presented with a “Thou Shalt Not Pass Unless You Sign The New User Agreement” pop-up. Said agreement was a translation, the agreement was governed by the laws of the Russian Federation, and the provisions, to my eye, were unacceptable. I responded the only way that felt right. Goodbye, LiveJournal.

Bard’s Fire becomes my only blog, running on my own domain. Let’s built a new community and welcome those who find their way here from there.

Mar 25

When City Contractors Attack

Last week, Himself found a notice hanging on the front door when he went for the mail around 6pm. It was from a contractor hired by the city to “rehabilitate” the city’s sewer lines. We’d seen them working on streets all around our neighborhood during the last few weeks, and this was telling us they’d finally gotten to our street. We were instructed not to wash dishes or clothes, flush toilets, take showers or baths, or otherwise send anything down our drains between the hours of 8:00am & 5:00pm the next day.

At least they gave us a few hours warning. Unfortunately, it was too late to reschedule visits from the A/C maintenance tech and the fellow doing our annual termite inspection, which meant we couldn’t do the prudent thing of spending the day in an elsewhere with useable plumbing. So we toughed it out and gave the contractor points when they did, as promised, finished around 4:00pm that day.

I should have known it couldn’t be that easy. Fast forward to this past Wednesday, a bit before 8:00am, when an otherwise quiet and productive morning was broken by what sounded like an invasion of my neighborhood by a tank division from Ft. Hood. Himself went outside to find out was going on, and came back with another doorhanger, this one hand-delivered by the contractor’s onsite contact person, who apologized that it hadn’t been delivered the day before. Work was already starting and would continue, between 7:00am and 6:00pm, until the end of the month, as they “rehabilitated” the connections between each house’s sewer line and the city’s main pipe.

The words were hardly out of his mouth when we heard a concrete saw fire up and what sounded like something Really Big about to crash through the front wall of the house. Himself headed back outside, I headed for the front window. The section of our walkway nearest the city’s sidewalk was missing and a tank-treaded backhoe, size enormous, was attacking the dirt under where the walkway section used to be. Piles of dirt were everywhere and there was a hole big enough to bury a VW bug in, nose-first.

That backhoe driver was *good*. He was working scant inches from the mailbox, with many opportunities to cause damage. As near as we can tell, he didn’t even touch it.

The racket diminished a bit as the backhoe and crew moved to the next house, and stopped around noon when the crew took off for lunch. Himself went out to take a look. The hole was still there, without barrier tape or cones. At the bottom, there appeared to be some type of fabric wrapped around the junction of our pipe and their pipe, secured with what he described as “really big cable ties”. Around 3:00pm, the backhoe and a couple of the crew came back to fill in the hole, compacting the fill dirt every so often. What was left when they finished was a hole roughly a foot deep. Himself went down the street and liberated one of their cones and positioned it in the hole “just in case”. At least no one removed it when they broke for the day.

Thursday, they worked further down the street. Friday morning, we had thunderstorms and no one showed up. But – hey! – I’ve got a moat! And now it’s the weekend.

Mar 21

Behind The Scenes

The sawdust is still flying, I'm still (figuratively) pulling my hair out, and the cats are learning a whole new and not exactly polite vocabulary, but there's been progress.

  • The HarpHaven website is up and running. Expect additions, but the basics are there.
  • This blog seems to be functional, and is being added to the website menu. Let me know if you find a problem.
  • HarpHaven Merchanter, my online store, is slowly coming together. As of right now, what with deadlines, upcoming convention travel, and other calls on available hours in the day, I'm shooting for a roll-out sometime after the middle of May.

Until then, ignore any screaming you might hear.

Mar 19

Welcome To The Bard's Fire

The kindling is just now catching, and it may be a while before we've got a blaze going, but it's a beginning.

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