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Feb 20

Notes From The Ice Age

It’s been an interesting week-and-change here at HarpHaven. Two rounds of freezing rain and sleet with about 5" of snow in the middle, outside temperatures that stayed in the single-digits for days, bottomed out one night at -2F, and didn’t get above freezing until yesterday afternoon. And what can only be defined as an epic failure of the Texas power grid that resulted in millions of Texans battling the cold in the dark. Without water, in many cases, or with water rendered not potable by equipment failures in many others.

We were, and continue to be, incredibly lucky. The longest our power was continuously off was about eight hours. Most of the week, power would come on for between two and three hours, followed by three to four hours without it. During the hours the power was on, we’d run the furnace, drink hot beverages and have a hot meal, hot soup, or a snack, and charge phones, iPads, camp lanterns, and flashlights. During the hours the power was off, multiple layers and extra blankets were our friends, we kept an eye on dripping faucets, and I did more reading-for-fun than I’ve managed for years. Temps in the house went no lower than 55F, except for that one subzero night when the house temp dropped to 45F. It made for a less-than-restful sleep schedule, but it could have been so much worse. The fridge and freezer both held. So, it appears as of this writing, did the pipes.

The only casualty seems to have been the cable TV box. Himself is going out later today to turn it in and pick up the arranged replacement, so my task tonight will be setting up the new box.

As I said, we were, and continue to be, incredibly lucky.

Nov 27

I Confess!

I married my husband for his cooking skills. Okay, I married him for many reasons, but his cooking skills were definitely high on the list. And yesterday’s Socially-Responsible-Quarantined-Thanksgiving-Dinner-For-Two proved, without a doubt, that he’s a keeper.

The turkey breast: moist, tender, perfectly seasoned. He brined it for several hours before slow-roasting. Cornbread dressing, that began with homemade white bread and cornbread and baked in muffin tins for a tasty combination of crunchy outer layers enclosing pillow-soft middles. Green bean casserole, because we like it. Sweet potato mashed with butter. Whole cranberry jelly. I enjoyed mine with a glass of homemade 12-year-old sweet mead. And, of course, there was pumpkin pie several hours later when we finally had room for dessert.

There are leftovers aplenty, which will be enjoyed for several days to come.

We enter the Holiday Season with very happy palettes.

Nov 25

Yeah, I Know It's 2020, But Happy Thanksgiving, Anyway!

To all the friends, fans, and "family-of-the-heart" who visit here from time to time, a very Happy Thanksgiving from the Halls of HarpHaven.

Stay safe!

Oct 3

Into The Summerlands

Egg Nog 2000 - 2020

Eggnog, last of the HarpHaven Pride and the Christmas kittens, passed beyond the Veil last night. She left us peacefully, without distress, in her sleep at the age of 20.

When our most senior cat Pixel passed (at the age of 16) during Thanksgiving Weekend 2000, we were concerned that his “little sister” Chiya wouldn’t be long in following. She was mourning, lonely, and suddenly showing her 15 years. So we went to the animal shelter and adopted two female kittens, which the pound said were about four months and littermates. Based on the time of year, we named the tabby Mistletoe for her brilliant green eyes. The one who looked like a Turkish Van, white but for cinnamon ears and tail, we called Eggnog.

Eggnog was Daddy’s Girl from the get-go, although she never slighted me in the love-and-cuddle department. Himself became an instant hit with our vet’s staff from the moment they walked into the exam room to find a big, fuzzy guy waiting with an adorable kitten on each shoulder. And Chiya, once she settled into having two kittens around, perked up and started being her own kittenish self and playing with the youngsters. I am firmly convinced the Christmas Kittens added another five good-quality years to Chiya’s life.

Eggnog, true to her Turkish Van markings, loved water. She’d play in it every chance she got, including joining me in the shower. She loved the water fountain we got several years ago, that ran a steady stream into the water bowl. Her favorite way of getting a drink was to stick her head into the stream and lap at the stream as it ran off her forehead.

When Mistletoe passed at the age of 17, almost exactly three years ago, we wondered how Eggnog would do without her. It turned out she was quite happy as a solo. Her favorite spot became the arm of Himself’s recliner, whether or not he was in it but especially when he was. I think she liked not having to share him, the water fountain, or me in the shower.

I have no doubt that Eggnog’s arrival in the Summerlands was met by Pixel, Chiya, and Mistletoe, and that the HarpHaven Pride is together again. They gave us thirty-five years of continuous laughter and love, and they have earned their sunbeams.

Jan 1

Happy New Year!

Well, will you look at that. It's a bright, shiny New Year. And, by popular consensus if not mathematical fact, a bright, shiny New Decade.

Certainly, we've got challenges ahead. When have we ever *not*? And when have we ever just plain quit? It doesn't seem to be in our nature, and that's a good thing.

Happy New Year, all. Let's go to work.

Jun 22

How The Hell Did THIS Happen?

I wasn’t supposed to live this long, according to five doctors (the first when I was 8 years old) and one unidentified staff member in the office of a sixth who predicted I’d “be dead in five years” if I didn’t do what they told me to do and take whatever prescription drugs they wanted me to take. I’ve managed to outlive all five doctors, and that unidentified staff member in the office of the sixth isn’t looking too good.

This weekend I'm turning 70, and I'm still here.

Jan 3

She's Rested! She's Ready! Bring It On, 2019!

There’s nothing quite like a quiet and enjoyable Christmas and New Year’s Eve for hitting the ground rolling on New Year’s Day. My husband and I celebrated both holidays at home, just the two of us, enjoying wonderful meals of his crafting and recharging the batteries.

Which was good, because I spent my New Year’s Day as I traditionally do, in a marathon session of closing out the books on the year just passed, setting up the files for the one just arrived, and doing some of the prep work for things like 1099s, incoming tax filing, and the paying of royalties. Despite taking breaks to watch the Rose Parade and the Doctor Who New Year’s Episode, I managed to finish and fall into bed around 3:00am with a few brain cells still firing.

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions – haven’t in decades – but I do make plans. Most of the ducks are lined up for AnachroCon 2019: Time Traveler’s Ball in February, and are beginning to assemble for Wholanta! in May. I’ve very excited about serving as ToastMistress for WindyCon 46: Space Opera in November. Other conventions will be added as things firm up.

2019 is also a milestone year on the home front. My husband and I will be celebrating our 30th Anniversary and I’ll turn 70. (Not sure how we’ll celebrate either, but we’ll think of something.)

As with any New Year, 2019 holds both promise and concern. I expect to remain active on the political and human rights activism fronts, writing and editing fiction, and teaching the occasional workshop. I may even make a dent in my to-be-read stack.

So Happy New Year, everyone. Let’s make it a good year!

Nov 22

Thanksgiving 2018

For the first years we were married, Himself and I spent Thanksgiving Weekend attending the local Mensa Gathering. Fitting, since that’s where we initially crossed paths. (Although we didn’t “officially” meet until several months later, but that’s another story for another time.) For the several years after that, we hosted dinner for friends who couldn’t get home or, for whatever reason, would be spending the day involuntarily alone. Then came several years I guested at local SF conventions held on Thanksgiving weekend.

Ten years or so ago, we started getting up in the wee small hours of Thanksgiving Day, driving down to the Hill Country, spending Thanksgiving Day in the country with a good friend, her family, and the friends she invited in for the festivities, and capped with a lovely night-time drive home. By far, my favorite way to spend Thanksgiving and the closest thing to “going home for the holidays” I ever had.

Sadly, last year and this one, logistical challenges on my end have made the trip a no-go. There’s a turkey breast happily being brined in the fridge, bread and cornbread getting just a little bit drier in anticipation of onions, celery, sage and broth turning them into dressing, a pumpkin pie about to go into the oven, and other traditional sides lining up for preparation. Himself’s culinary wizardry for the win!

However you’re spending the holiday, have a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

Jan 1

Happy 2018!

Hey! Happy New Year!

There's a lot to do out there. Let's get busy!

Dec 24

Merry Christmas!

from all of us at HarpHaven.

Dec 10

Well, What Do You Know

When the city told us that replacement of the alley behind the house would take two weeks, I was skeptical. Understandably so, given our experiences with previous public works projects on our block. So the day-glo green doorknob hanger that appeared late Saturday morning, advising us that the work was completed came as a surprise.

We'll still be having a conversation about the fence "repairs", and keeping an eye on the phone line going from a temporary patch to a more permanent repair, but the heavy equipment and barricades are gone. Our vehicles are off the street and back in their usual spots. And that is the sound of muted celebration you may be hearing.

Dec 4

We Have Landline Again!

Up at 6:30am this morning in preparation for the call, sometime between 7:00am and 7:00pm, telling us the repairperson was 30 minutes out. Workmen from the city began making their noise at about 7:15am. Just before 10:00am, the landline phone rang.

Yes, it took me half a beat to recognize it as the landline ringing.

It turned out to the repairman, out in the alley, telling me we were back in business. It's a temporary hook-up until the city finishes in the alley, after which the phone company will return and bury the line properly.

No, we didn't need to be home to give anyone access to the house. No, the temporary repair (or the permanent one when the time comes) didn't need access to the house. No, we wouldn't get a bill. (Ahem.)

And it's working!

Dec 2

When Contractors Attack - Again

On the Monday before Thanksgiving, in mid-afternoon, a red doorhanger appeared at the front door. It was a notice from the city advising us that work would begin on the alley behind our house on the Monday after Thanksgiving Weekend, with scheduled completion due two weeks after that. Since the work involved tearing up the existing surface and pouring a new one, vehicles in the garage and/or would have to park on the street, where trash bins would also need to be placed.

Yes, we’ve been here before. About six years ago when the city did this exact same thing, and about three years ago when extensive repairs to the three-year-old surface were needed. (Garbage trucks are destructive beasties, they are.) And, of course, there was the truly epic work done about eight years ago involving tearing up large portions of the street out front in the service of sewer repair, which lasted nearly two months, another round out front two years ago, and the fun and games this spring detailed in a previous post.

Sunday afternoon, we moved the vehicles out front. Monday morning, the destruction began at the end of the alley, with the sound of jackhammers, backhoe, and dump trucks getting closer through the day on Tuesday.

Wednesday morning, Himself had an audit gig in Ft. Worth and left the house around 7:15am, just as the sounds of jackhammers, backhoe, and dump truck started up behind the house next door. I settled at my desk, noise-canceling headphones close at hand as I happily anticipated a day of uninterrupted wordslinging. Oh, silly me.

At 8:15am the doorbell rang. One of the contractors asking for permission to go into the back yard. A scoop-load of broken concrete had gotten away from the operator and had hit the fence, and he wanted to gauge the level of damage so the crew could get the necessary supplies and make repairs. I gave him permission and directions, texted Himself, and went back to my desk. Which was when I noticed that the landline was dead. You guessed it; the crew had cut the buried phone line. I was assured the city would arrange for repair of that, too.

As of today, the fence as been repaired – sort of. Himself suspects they used nails instead of screws, which means he’ll be doing it again once the alley work is finished. The vehicles are still out front. And the phone line is still dead, thanks in part to the city’s process for arranging repairs bearing no relation to actual, functional process. We’re still trying to unscramble that one.

Stay tuned!

Sep 30

Gone Ahead


Mistletoe (a.k.a. Missy) 2000 - 2017

Jun 16

Time Flies

That old saw that "time flies when you're having fun" must, indeed, be true.

Today, I'm celebrating twenty-eight years of marital mischief with the Mighty Himself. We stood in front of federal judge, in a friend's living room, with Himself's ex-wife and my ex-husband as witness, and I promised that life with me would never be boring. So far, I think I've kept that promise.

May 29

Okay....That's Different.

This morning, our houseguest for the weekend had been gone about an hour when I heard multiple male voices outside the house. Himself heard them, too, and looked out the blinds in front. I asked what what going on. “I don’t know, but there are at least four police cruisers and a whole bunch of cops in front of the house.”

Not the answer I was expecting at all. I toddled up to the door to see as Himself stepped out to find out what was going on. One of the officers told him that there’d been an “altercation” at the nearby apartment complex, and that they just apprehended one of those involved. (And when I say “just”, I could see a cruiser across the street with someone in the back seat, in the posture of someone with hands cuffed behind him. They were now looking for a gun the suspect apparently tossed away just prior to apprehension.

Our plants and shrubs, and the ground beneath them, have never been more intensely scrutinized. The same for those of the neighors on either side. I *really* hope they found the gun.

My pulse has almost settled back to normal.

Memorial Day 2017

Today, I remember my mother’s favorite cousin and his best friend, whom my mother would probably have married if things are gone differently. They lie entombed on the Arizona.

I remember high school classmates who served in Viet Nam and died there.

I remember my first friend in college, who chose to be drafted rather admit to his family that he was gay. He, too, died in Viet Nam.

I remember all those, from all the wars, who came back broken so completely that suicide was the only path they could see.

I remember them, and I honor them in the memory.

May 27

The Joys of Home Ownership: When The Ducks Line Up

I’ll admit it. After the round of multiple phone calls, conflicting information, and details that felt entirely too tenuous re: the replacement of our dead water heater, my confidence level was not high. And rarely have I been happier to be proved wrong.

Halfway into the two-hour window, the installers arrived - with the new unit in hand. An hour later, it was happily ramping up to blissfully hot water. We’d been warned that there would be extra charges should the plumbers find changes needed to be made to bring things up to building code changes made since we’d last had this done eleven years before, and there were. But the extra charges were entirely reasonable. Another happy surprise: when Himself went to the store to settle up for the water heater itself, he found that the warranty pro-rate covered to 2/3rds of the price.

All that remains is the permit inspection, scheduled for late next week. And in the meantime, I’m enjoying nice hot showers.


May 23

The Joys Of Home Ownership: Water Heater Edition

Frankly, I thought it would be the clothes dryer, the refrigerator or, most likely, the dishwasher that would go to Valhalla next. But it was our 12-year-warrantied, 11-year-old water heater that turned up its toes sometime in the night. It started leaking, bigtime, as evidenced by the amount of water Himself cleaned up with the wet-dry vacuum first thing this morning. Fortunately, aside from some leakage into the laundry room, most of the escaping H20 went into the garage and out under the garage door.

We've spent the majority of the day looking at possible replacements and dealing with the manufacturer's warranty division, the vendor, and the vendor's installation department. It would have taken considerably less time if the three parties communicated with each other, at least to the extent what one told us about what the others did bore passing acquaintance to what the others told us they did. It took many phone calls to each, but we finally have all three agreeing on the process, a ballpark figure on what the monetary outlay will be, and a game plan and time window for the installation tomorrow morning.

Himself was able to shut off the gas to the thing, but the cut-off valve for the water intake wasn't as cooperative. So, for now and until the installation is complete, we've turned off the water at the street. Toilet tanks are being filled with buckets of water from the rain barrels out back, and we're washing our hands with bottled water.

I'm really hoping things go as planned. We have an out-of-town guest due on Thursday evening.

Apr 22


You may remember that April 2016 brought several severe storms that included large hail. One of those storms hit HarpHaven, resulting in two broken skylights and damage to roof, gutters, roof vents, and Himself’s vehicle. As it is, we got off lucky compared to most people on this end of town, and a new roof went on in June 2016.

Last night, we got hit again. Large amounts of pea-to-quarter-sized hail, with what sounded like the occasional tennis-ball-sized hailstone in the mix. Again, we were lucky. Just north of us, most of the hail was in the tennis-ball-size range. Inspection in the light of day indicates that the only thing damaged is Himself’s vehicle. No broken glass, but we’re going to be calling it Dimples again for the next little while.

Springtime in Texas.

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