Ponce Chronicles the Fourth: And Then There Was Dark

We have been in Ponce for two weeks.

Everything is a blur, including some of the stray cats who dash by, nearly invisible. The to-do list has grown like triffids. Here’s Allysen’s rundown, before things started cascading:

  • I need a plumber, electrician, tree remover, fence builder/repairer, pool plasterer, mason, construction handyman, and somebody to remove the “escombros” — the old refrigerator, sink, and junk that was supposed to have been removed months ago. Our best handyman’s now working for FEMA at twice the pay. It’s Christmas. In Puerto Rico, Christmas partying lasts from day after Thanksgiving through January 6th (3 Kings’ day/Epiphany) and then some. No one returns my calls.
  • We joyfully prep the first floor of the house for painting. For five days. Joy wanes.
  • Miracles of miracles, I found someone willing to do pool repair during the Christmas season!
  • The new electrician returned my call! He can’t come until February. I beg. He relents. The plumber promised to come but has not shown up. I text. I call. I pray. The fence guy said he’d measure and give me an estimate today. No show. Can’t find anyone for tree removal. Nor masons. We’re running out of time…

She forgot to mention that the new 1000-gallon cistern for backup water isn’t working because of a problem with the pump. William, the pool guy works on it… and works on it… The needed part, of course, is not readily available. Still, he persists.

Triumph! (No, not the pump.) The pool has been replastered and refilled! Just before the city water pressure goes belly up on us again. Water has been weak and intermittent for days now.

Jayce arrives to join us, and it’s her birthday. We get cake and ice cream. Upon opening the freezer drawer on the almost new refrigerator, we find the drawer won’t close. We are blasting cold air into the kitchen. The track is jammed—as it turns out, by a small loose screw lodged impossibly far into the mechanism. No way to fix it. The freezer opening is now closed off with plastic drop cloth and duct tape. Awaiting a repair visit from Sears. Yeah. The company that’s going under. Did I mention the fridge is new?

William finally gets the cistern pump working. Cheers and congratulations! An hour later, electrical power to the whole house goes bad, complete with sparks on the utility pole. We have enough power for lights, but not much more. No pumps, no micro, no washer… The electrician says it’s a bad ground (which he can fix) and a bad line coming in from the utility, which must await the power company. Have you ever waited for the power company in Puerto Rico?

Our major do-or-die project, after repairing the swimming pool, is repainting the master bedroom. Seemed straightforward enough, even though the walls and ceilings are pebbly cement and take forever to prep. But then we find the mildew behind the skimcoat on the outer wall, and hope goes out the window. A simple paint job has turned into mold remediation, external sealing, and replastering. Not for the first time I think, I hate painting. And… if I spent half as much time fixing the walls of my own house… (No, don’t think that way. Wrong thinking will be punished.)

As always, what success we have is thanks in no small measure to our neighbor Frances, who is Miles Vorkosigan’s mother Cordelia and Aunt Alys wrapped into one. (See Lois McMaster Bujold’s novels, if that doesn’t mean anything to you.)

Let’s end with something brighter. Here’s a little fellow who found his way into the living room and stayed just long enough for me to get a picture.

View other installments of the Ponce Chronicles.

Ponce Chronicles the Fourth: Happy New Year!

Happy Belated New Year, everyone! We started our new year in Ponce, Puerto Rico, where we’re beginning another round of upkeep, repair (yes, including Hurricane Maria repair, a year and a half later), and steady upgrading of Allysen’s mom’s house here (now available for vacation rental!)

Our first action—after a drugged sleep, after landing at the airport at 4 a.m. local time—was to pick up our reserved rental car from Enterprise. What we had reserved was a small SUV. What we got—the last vehicle on the lot—was a Ford F-150 pickup truck. Not the one of the older, reasonable-sized pickups, but a monster truck. This thing was up so high you could barely see the street, and it had the approximate turning radius of an aircraft carrier. (Oh, for my little Ranger, back home!) Fortunately we were able to swap it out for a Jeep “SUV”—a small crossover, really—after a week of lumbering around in the monster.

Then we began the inventory of everything to be done…

Oh, my head. That will come in the next installment. For now, here’s a picture of Allysen in a charming little place called 19 Barios, with excellent pizza and equally excellent locally brewed IPA.

And here’s the hillside at night, from our neighbor’s balcony. The brightly lit building in the center is the Castillo Serralles, and to the right is La Cruceta, both big tourist attractions in Ponce.

View other installments of the Ponce Chronicles.

SHOCKING: I Married a Neanderthal!

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For real. Allysen’s DNA was tested by 23andMe, and the results are in, and my universe is shaking! My wife is 3% Neanderthal! She has 298 Neanderthal variants, which is more than 83% of 23andMe customers. I’m not sure what that means, but I’m sure it must be impressive.

What does this mean for me? Have all my efforts to civilize my children been in vain? They must be part Neanderthal, too. Or maybe this: Is the world actually being run by Neanderthals? There’s a sobering thought. Just think about Washington, and you know it could be true.

On the other hand, my knowledgeable Neanderthalian wife informs me that the Neanderthals were on the whole a kinder, gentler species than homo sap. So maybe the Washington argument is wrong, after all.

Whatever the case, now I know that it was not for nothing that years ago Allysen acquired the nickname Thagga. (Although I acquired the nickname of Thag, so what does that suggest about me? I haven’t been tested, but maybe I have some Cro-Magnon in me. That could explain a lot.)

(One of these pix is my wife. The other is a pic from the Museo Arqueologico Nacional in Madrid. See the family resemblance?)

[My name is Allysen. I have approved this post.]

 

 

 

Ticket to Crazy: Special on Panglor!


I’ve just arrived in Puerto Rico for another work-trip/visit to the house in Ponce. But as a parting gift to all my friends, past present future, I’ve turned down the price on the ebook of Panglor, for a few days only! (Today’s the start of my Bookbub promo.)

Panglor’s kind of a crazy dude, and he’s got problems that go way beyond being crazy. Join him for a journey to Strange, and see what got the Star Rigger universe going! $.99! How many dog biscuits can you buy for less than a dollar? What are you waiting for? Buy a whole box for your friends!

Merry Christmas 2018!

This is where I use my special timestream skills to go back and wish you all a Merry Christmas! We had a wonderful day with family, and I hope you did, too. (Even if you don’t celebrate the holiday as such, I hope the day was good to you.)

Here’s what our outdoor tree looks like this year. You can’t really see the laser display on the side of the house, which was initially intended to substitute for the time-consuming installation of lights in the tree. Didn’t quite work, though it looked pretty cool on its own, and I ended up adding to the project, rather than simplifying it. Story of my life. But I still like the magical, almost ethereal quality of the blue lights, with a bit of green.

On the other hand, our tree inside, which started all fresh and pliable and thirsty, has turned into Charlie Brown’s tree. Piles of needles everywhere. I used tree preserver, too. Where’d I go wrong?

For All Battlestar Galactica Fans

 

Here’s the perfect book for all fans of the multifaceted Battlestar Galactica! Just published, it’s called Somewhere Beyond the Heavens: Exploring Battlestar Galactica, edited by Rich Handley and  Lou Tambone. It’s a large collection of essays about the series in all its incarnations, from the original (let’s admit it) cheesy show to the far more realistic and thoughtful Sci-Fi Channel’s incarnation from 2003.

As it happens, I contributed an essay on how I experienced the show as the writer of the 2003 Miniseries novelization (which you can download here for free), and my editor wrote the story of the licensing and publishing of books in the BSG universe by Tor Books. It’s only just out, so I haven’t dipped into the other pieces yet, but I look forward to doing so soon.

If you’re looking for a gift for that BSG fan in your life, here it is. In paper and Kindle formats.

 

 

The Modern Yuppie 12 Days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
A vacation to Switzerland to ski!

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
Two Toyota Priuses…
And a vacation to Switzerland to ski!

tum de-tum de-tum…

 

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
Twelve Ivy League acceptance letters…
Eleven carbon offsets…
Ten Canada Goose jackets…
Nine yachts with paneling…
Eight NPR memberships…
Seven Revels tickets…
Six Goorin Brothers hats…
FIVE ROTH IRAs!…
Four laundry services…
Three Whole Foods gift bags…
Two Toyota Priuses…
And a vacation to Switzerland to ski!

(Courtesy of my daughter Lexi and her husband Connor, who devised it one morning while trying to get out of bed.)

© Lexi Carver and Connor Wood

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving greetings to all my family and friends! For my friends outside the U.S., I invite you to join with us in taking a moment to give thanks—and then enjoy the day with your own family and friends! No need for a formal holiday.

This may be the first year I’ve celebrated Thanksgiving with so much of my family split off in different locations. I’m in Miami for a short holiday visit with my brother and his wife; my newly married daughter is traveling with her husband, visiting his family; my wife Allysen and her mom and our other daughter (plus an honorary daughter) are roasting a turkey at home in Boston. Our California contingent, Allysen’s bro and family, are celebrating the end of the wildfires close to their house (they had to evacuate for several days).

Some things remain the same, though. I just walked the dogs. Different dogs, Chuck and Youngmee’s, but still. This is Tntn.

Have a great day, everyone!

Specials at Book View Café!

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It’s “specials day” at BVC! My omnibus/box set, The Chaos Chronicles: Books 1-3, is on half-price special—at Book View Café only. Limit time only! If you don’t have it, go thou and take a peek. Like all of the books under my own imprint, it’s DRM-free, so you can give it as a gift with a clear conscience.

Mine isn’t the only book on sale, though. The specials include deals from Mindy Klasky, Jennifer Stevenson, Deborah J. Ross (Deborah Wheeler), and Madeleine Robins! Surely there’s something for every taste!

Book View Café Specials

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