Home Contractors Never to Contact Again: Crestwood Painting

So, since my ceiling collapsed, I've contacted six different contractors.  I have thus far gotten exactly zero estimates. Response has been:

  • Two contractors who called me on 7/7 and said they would call back to make an appointment. Never heard from them again.

  • Two contractors that I left messages for and never heard from.

  • One contractor that made an appointment, showed up on time, told Lut how he'd recommend fixing it, and did not give Lut a price. He said he would write up an estimate for me and send it.  That was a week ago. Never heard from him again.

And then there's Crestwood Painting, whom I'm going to call out because I am especially unimpressed by them.  On Thursday morning, 7/7, I used their web form to make an appointment.

Yesterday, I got a confirmation email from them that they would be out, to remind me to be home for the appointment at 1:30PM.

Today, three hours before the appointment, I got an emai saying "oh, your job is too small for us. We're cancelling the appointment."

Because at no point in the last 11 days could anyone look at my message and see what my request said.  Bear in mind that they didn't get any new information from me: they are responding to my original request for an appointment.

Also, PRO TIP: do not have your system send reminder for appointments you're not going to keep. >_<

In the meantime: I have no freakin' idea how to get my ceiling fixed, since "contacting firms that say they do ceiling repair" is obviously not the way.

I'm gonna try my friend who used to work in construction.  Maybe he can tell me. Oh, I could try calling my insurance agent, too.  (I have a high deductible so I doubt insurance will pay for anything, but perhaps they'll know people who don't just say they do repairs but, y'know, ACTUALLY DO THEM.)

Right now, Terry's suggestion of "just never look up" is looking better all the time.

Every Day

"Camp NaNo" takes place in April and July; it's a variation on Nanowrimo where writers set their own goals.  Because some of my acquaintences do it, and because I'm writing a book anyway, I set a goal for July.  I haven't been nearly as industrious on Birthright as I was on The Moon Etherium, so I set a modest, easily-achievable goal of 20,000 words.  I made that goal yesterday.

My brain, this month, has been measuring my productivity by the day.  If I write a thousand words or more in a day, then I've done enough for that day. If I don't write at least that much, then I'm a failure. There is no carryover; writing more on the previous day makes the previous day more successful, but today I still have to write a thousand words anyway. I begin every day as a failure and end every day as a success. The "it's 8AM why haven't you written anything yet FAILURE" train of thought is weird.

Everything about this is weird. I keep flashing back to 2002, where I'd struggle and whinge about how hard it was to write 500 words in a day.

In one way, it's easier to write faster. I can look at the draft and think "I'll be done with this in a few months".  When the end point is years away because I'm only writing a few hundred words a day, it's harder to get motivated to write even those few hundred words.  "What difference does it make? It's going to take forever to finish anyway."

I've written a couple hundred words of Birthright this morning, so now I'm going to slack off and play with dragons or somesuch. I'll write a hundred words later, and then another couple hundred, and eventually I'll get to a thousand or more and be SUCCESSFUL!

Until tomorrow, when it starts over again.


I didn't try to get Pokemon Go when it came out, but as more and more people on my Twitter feed talked about it, I decided to take a look.

It turns out I can't run it on my phone: my model is too outdated.  This is not a huge shock: I first got this phone three or four years ago, and the model was first released in June 2010. It'd be silly to upgrade just to play Pokemon Go, but it has struck me that my phone is no longer particularly good at doing the things I have always done on it. Twitter "upgraded" its native app to a version that runs so slowly on my phone that most of my Twitter usage from the phone now is "replying to direct messages".  The app can handle this. It can't really cope with reading my feed any more.  No client Twitter apps will run on my phone.  Evernote runs but loads slowly.  Google Docs is even worse. The browser is painful to use, too. I don't even like to read books on it any more. I did a factory reset a few months ago and only reinstalled the things I use all the time, but it didn't help. Everything is slow and crash-prone.

So I did a cursory web-search for my primary and inflexible requirement of a smartphone: a side-slide keyboard. One article dated June 2016 turned up
ten "current" models, and I was briefly heartened.

Then shaterri pointed out that only one of those was more recent than 2013. The one that's from 2015?  Has a physical keyboard, but it's a vertical slide, not sideways.

A less-cursory search did not turn anything more recent up.

I type at 45 wpm on my smartphone. I write books on my smartphone. I have tried using virtual keyboards and found them painfully, horrifically slow.  Maybe if I practiced with Swype or something I could get up to a reasonable speed? Because 10-15 wpm is not a reasonable speed.  That is a give-up-and-do-something-else speed.

But it's kind of horrifying to think that a signficant part of my work process is dependent on a style of device that's fallen so far out of favor it may never be manufactured again. I guess, in a year or two when my smartphone's performance goes from "bad" to "unusable", I will have to learn to get really really good with Swype or tote a laptop everywhere or something.

But I can't use a laptop while waiting in line at the store or taking a walk or using my exercise bike.

Ugh. -_-
  • Current Mood
Me 2012


This weekend I:

  • Ran three loads of laundry

  • Put away two of them (the last one is towels and can wait in the dryer until the next time I happen to go downstairs).

  • Put anti-flea powder on the carpeted stairs to the basement and vacuumed them. My indoor cat has fleas.  WHY. I got the anti-flea stuff from the vet for the back of her neck 6 weeks ago and have given her two treatments so far, but the fleas Will Not Stop.  I am keeping them in check by flea-combing her daily and vacuuming the whole house every day or two, and have sprayed several times. But the basement stairs are attached to the area where I keep the litterboxes, so I hadn't done them. When I did laundry I realized the steps were flea-ridden.  UGH.

  • Scheduled an appointment with a contractor to get an estimate for replacing the fallen ceiling section.

  • Started and mostly finished a cover painting for The Moon Etherium.

  • Watched Disc 1 of SyFy's "The Expanse".

  • Went out to eat on Saturday

  • Wrote a hundred words of Birthright

It's that last one that's making me feel like I did nothing at all this weekend. Spending ten hours on a painting doesn't count for my brain. Stoppit, brain.  Just stop.

It's not that late on a Sunday but I kinda want to just go to bed.

Anyway: no new disasters so far this weekend! \o/ So there's that. 
Me 2012

On Cover Art for The Moon Etherium

gnibbles did a cover for me!

The aspect ratio is off, so not quite appropriate for the final book, alas. }:) Although in complete seriousness, I like a number of things about it. She's using the skyline of the Sun Etherium at the top and the Moon Etherium at the bottom to frame the figures, which I had not thought of and which looks cool. And her rendering of Ardent (the satyress on the left) is charming. ♥

I am ambivalent about my skillz as an artist, particularly when it comes to realistic illustration. Silhouettes I can handle. Full color ... eh.

But I have, once or twice, done full-color portraits that approach the general vicinity of the skill level I want for The Moon Etherium cover. Moreover, the final image is going to be mainly seen at 150x250 or 300x500 or so. So I was thinking, maybe if I start with a really big file and then shrink it down a lot, it could be mistaken for professional?

I am unconvinced by this reasoning.

Still, I kinda felt like drawing this morning, and I really did not feel like writing, so I took some reference photos of myself, did a sketch, and started to color it. Not in the slapdash fashion of my quick doodles, but a serious attempt to make it look good, no matter how long it takes.

I didn't really keep track of time, but this is probably 2-3 hours in. I am abandoning it here.

Interestingly, I'm quitting not because I feel like I've proved to myself that I'm not good enough: the jury is still out on that one. From the technical "does this look like a picture of a person?" perspective, it's not that bad.

From the "does this look like an appealing character?" perspective, though, it's not working. I think Gnibbles's painting has more heart and spirit. Mine looks ... off. Not just "I need to futz more with it" (which I do), but it just looks fundamentally not-very-attractive. Possibly I could fix it without restarting entirely, but I think re-doing the underlying sketch and coloring anew will be less frustrating.


Revised version-in-progress! Got to about the same place as the earlier one, after 2.5 hours, and am much happier with it. Not wild about how it looks at thumbnail size, though. I may need to do the headband in a different color so it doesn't blend with the horns at mini-size. Or change the horn color.


June in Review

I was not totally idle while I was visiting friends (Sophrani and kagetsume) and my parents for a week, because my father goes for a two-mile walk every morning and I went with him.

Still, lots of rich restaurant food and less exercise than usual, so a mediocre month for that. Also, my bike broke at the end of the month. -_-

I put together about half of an outline for The Sun Etherium while I was visiting my parents. I was not happy with what I had so far and didn't feel like it was gelling, though. So I put it aside and hauled out  Birthright again towards the end of June, and wrote perhaps 4000 words of it.

I had a good conversation with alinsa about the problems I had with the climax of Birthright, where she gave me some enormously useful ideas. \o/ I may actually finish the draft this time! (Let's not talk about the edits. *shudder*)

The Business of Writing
I contacted two different artists about doing the cover for The Moon Etherium. Both asked for more details about it. Neither got back to me after I provided details, not even to say "No, thank you". In other news, trying to hire an artist is every bit as awful as I expected it to be. -_- Hey, okojosan, I don't suppose you want to do a fantasy/romance book cover?

I wish I could mock up a cover image that I liked even as much as I like the cover for RA, but no luck so far. I will probably try another professional or two, then give up after they also ignore me and use one I do myself. v_v

I did a lot more editing on The Moon Etherium while I was in North Carolina and before. I need to do a final read-through and there are a few more changes I might make. I decided to let the book lie for a while before that. Maybe a month. We'll see if I make it that long.

Not a lot. A couple of pencil sketches that I liked, a few color doodles that I didn't, another cover mock-up for The Moon Etherium.

My mother addicted me to Spider Solitaire (it's more interesting than regular solitaire, I promise).

I plaed some Hold 'Em poker with my father's poker group, which was fun. ♥

I spent a week in North Carolina visiting friends & family!

My vacation was surprisingly relaxing. Usually I come back from vacations feeling like I need another vacation, but this one was mellow and I had lots of time to myself to rest and play with electronics. And edit my book. It was good.

Home has not been so good, what with everything falling apart. -_-

Goals for coming month
I decided to do Camp NaNo and set my goal at 20,000 words on Birthright. I'm at 9500 now, so that's going fine. Also, I am back to counting words, since I did that with The Moon Etherium and it worked great and even came out at estimated length.

In other news, I now consider a thousand words a day to be a modest, easily-achieved goal. Kind of "minimum effort if I want to consider myself to be trying at all". So that's a thing.

Depending on how writing Birthright goes, I may or may not get back to The Moon Etherium for my penultimate editing pass. We'll see.


The man who put my lunchbag on the bus told me that he saw someone else looking through it, and didn't know if anything had been taken. "That's all right," I told him. "There's nothing of value in it but these." I waggled my leashed keys. "Which are only valuable to me."

This morning, I checked the top pocket of it, where I sometimes keep $20 for emergencies. I'd thought it was empty because I'd spent it without replacing it. But no, there was $20 still in it. Apparently, whoever went through it was only looking for identifying info. ♥


I called Rick at the bike shop at 4PM yesterday. "I forgot to mention, but the back tire had fallen off the wheel when I tried to change it and discovered the broken axle (or broke it). Will you check and make sure the tire and/or tube is okay?"

"It's holding air fine," he assured me. "Been inflated for two hours, no problems."

He repeated this when I picked it up 90 minutes later.

This morning when I got it out of the garage: completely flat.


I kind of feel like the universe is telling me, "Quit dreaming about retirement, quit living in fantasy worlds, and just PAY ATTENTION to the real one. Like a real adult."

I don't know. I've been trying to keep a positive attitude but it's wearing on me. v_v

So That Happened

On Saturday or Sunday, Lut commented, "Is it just me, or is that crack in the ceiling getting bigger?"

I looked up. A crack ran much of the length of the ceiling over Lut's side of the den. "I don't know. I don't remember it." I didn't think too much about it: cracks happen sometimes. House shifts or whatever.

Tuesday night, as I sat at my computer and my cat, Kali, sat beside me in Lut's seat, I heard distant fireworks. Guess some people aren't done with the fourth yet, I thought. I felt bad for my cat. Then there was a sound like hail. My cat looked up, glanced at the window, and the hail intensified. Kali bolted from the room, as is her wont whenever strange noises are coming from the sky. She's sure it's going to fall on her.

Then a six foot by three foot section of the ceiling collapsed over Lut's seat.


OK then.

It rained down in chunks of plaster and sheet rock. We have about 8 garbage bags partially full of the stuff now. "Partially full" because it is heavy. I'd guess that section of ceiling was 150-200 lbs of stuff.

My cat's lifetime of paranoia about the sky falling on her? NOW TOTALLY JUSTIFIED. If Lut or I had been sitting under it, we'd never have gotten out of the way in time. Kali: NO PROBLEM. She was out of the room and probably halfway down the stairs before the first chunk fell.

We have it mostly cleaned up now, though bits of dust are still settling from the ceiling boards. No signs of water damage. According to the internet, apparently ceilings just spontaneously collapse some times.


I will keep an eye out for other cracks. There aren't any in the rest of the house. I checked.

I leave you with a small section of the kind of wreckage that covered half of the room. All the electronics seemed to have survived, so that's good.


Anyone know a good plasterer?

Adventures in Fixing Things

Today was the day I tried to fix my gaffes from the weekend.

I called Enterprise this morning: they had found my phone, but I'd have to pick it up: they wouldn't drop it off for me. Rats.

My second thought was to rent a car for an hour, have Enterprise pick me up, then take the car to get my bike, drop off the car, and bike home. But Enterprise does not rent cars by the hour, and the one-day fee seemed excessive to my needs. Blah. My new plan became "take bus to the bike shop, then bike the 2.5 miles to rental car place, then bike the 3.6 miles home". This is a short ride by my standards: my usual after-work ride is around 10 miles.

I brought my backup phone to work, hoping I could write on it, but its keyboard is in terrible shape, with many keys often unresponsive. I wrote a few hundred words using the virtual keyboard, but it was just too painful to do any real work on.

I left work at 4PM, so I'd have some slack if I missed the connecting bus. The best possible time was 38 minutes, but I took an hour instead. I was ridiculously anxious through the bus trip. Not having my phone and not being able to confirm things on the fly with the net made me nervous. When I finally got off the second bus, I got half a block away before realizing I didn't have my lunch bag. I hurried back to the bus and made the driver wait while I tried to retrieve it. The bus was full of helpful people trying to soothe the crazy lady who didn't understand how buses worked and lost stuff. One nice woman who'd been sitting next to me at the bus stop exclaimed: "Oh no! Was that black bag yours? You left it on the bench at the last stop."

Oh. Well, kind of a shame she didn't ask me about it at the stop, but hey, at least I knew where I'd left it now. I thanked her sincerely and let the poor bus escape me at last. My lunch bag had nothing of value in it except for the key to the bank and the key fob, which would probably be expensive and annoying to replace if I didn't recover it. :/

I got my bike from the shop, and a new helmet because I'd forgotten mine and I was supposed to replace it anyway, and Rick threw in a bungee cord so I could tie down my purse, because I hadn't brought the bike basket along when I gave him the bike.

Then I set off for the rental car shop!

Within a mile, I already felt kind of unwell and nauseated, surprisingly so. It was a hot day, 95 or so, but I often bike in that kind of heat and it's never been a problem unless I've gone for several miles without shade. But I made it to the rental car shop without incident, collected my phone, and set off to Wal-Mart to see if my bag would still be where I left it at the stop. Even with going back to the bus stop, the whole trip would still only be 7-8 miles: again, shorter than I usually do.

I started to feel faint as I biked up a long gentle slope a half-mile or so shy of Wal-Mart. Maybe I should catch the bus at the Wal-Mart stop, and skip the last 2-3 mile ride to home, I thought.

In the last blocks before the bus stop, I started talking to G-d, which is a thing I do now and then and don't usually write about. I'm not entirely sure why I don't write about it. Because it's navel-gazey? Because I'm not properly religious? Because don't want to inflict the disquieting experience of listening to other people talk about their take on religion on my friends? These are pretty good reasons. But I will write about this bit anyway, because it amused me.

"So, hey G-d," I said, out loud because I don't care if passing cars think I'm a crazy person. "It's been a long time, and I have no right whatsoever to ask a favor of you because this entire situation is my fault and the result of me not paying enough attention to what I'm doing and the things I'm supposed to take care of. But I would still really appreciate it if my lunch bag would be where I left it. And if not, that's okay too. It only costs money, and that's what money is for." I gave a little sigh. "It seems I've been saying a lot of that lately. Anyway, that's enough about me. How are you? Work going all right?"

I don't think G-d talks to me any more than he talks to everyone else in the world, which is to say "all of the time but usually we don't understand and even when we think we're listening, we've got a good chance of getting it wrong." I didn't hear an answer, but I started grinning anyway, with this sense of G-d spreading his arms: "Hey, I've got the best job in the world!"

I laughed. "You're only saying that to cheer me up. You've got a terrible job. People are always asking You for stuff." And then I smiled more, because it didn't work. I couldn't picture G-d moping. "Okay, fine. God's job is great." I laughed. "And yes, the cheering-me-up part is totally working."

I arrived at the bus stop. My bag was not on the bench where I'd been sitting. A man standing nearby said to me, "Are you looking for your bag? I put it on the bus." He pointed to a bus waiting to leave. I marveled at my timing, hopped on, retrieved my bag, and thanked the nice man.

At this point, I should've loaded my bike on the bus's bike rack and taken the bus home, but I thought I was feeling up to biking the last few miles. This was ... true in the sense that I did in fact bike the last few miles to home, and false in the sense that I had to stop three times to rest because I was worried I was going to fall off my bicycle No idea why this ride was so grueling. Ugh.

But I made it, and I have all my possessions back, and I'm feeling back to normal. And feeling grateful to all the people who are watching out for me when I'm not. ♥
Me 2012

Self-Inflicted Frustrations

Lut and I don't have a working car, so I rent a car about once a month so we can get groceries and run errands. During most of the year, I get a car from Friday afternoon to Monday morning, because Enterprise has a $10-a-day special from autumn through spring for Friday-to-Monday rentals.

But they don't run this special from Memorial Day through Labor Day, so I only get a car for one day during the summer weekends. When I rented a car at the beginning of June, I got it from 2PM Saturday to 2PM Sunday, because I remembered my local Enterprise was open from noon to 3PM on Sunday, so I could get a ride home at 2PM.

I arrived at 1:45PM and discovered they'd changed their Sunday hours to 10AM to 1PM.


I drove home, dismantled my bike, put it in the trunk, drove back, put my bike back together, and biked home.

So this weekend, I reserved the car from noon Saturday to noon Sunday, so I'd be sure to arrive before they closed. On Saturday, I packed up my dysfunctional bike and dropped it off at the bike shop. I really only needed to leave the rear tire, but it turned out he was closing early that day because of the holiday weekend. So I left the whole bike so I could go back for it during the week by bus or whatever, and bike home on it.

On Sunday, Lut and I went out for breakfast and to get a last few things from the store. At breakfast, I commented to Lut that I could walk home from the rental car place if I had to, but it'd be an annoyingly long walk and I didn't have the bike to make it now. So I really needed to be sure to return the car before 1PM.

When I left the house to return the car, I checked messages on my phone, and put my phone in one of the cup holder slots during the drive over. At the rental car lot, I parked, locked the car, unlocked the car, did a once-over to of trunk, backseat, and front seat to make sure I'd gotten everything. I noticed my rental agreement curled in one of the cup holders, so I pulled it out. I locked the car again and went over to the building's front entrance.

It was locked.

I checked the side entrance. CLOSED FOR HOLIDAY JULY 3-JULY 4.


Guess I can walk home. It's only 4-5 miles, I thought. (Turns out to be even shorter -- 3.6 miles). I dropped the car keys in the return slot, and started towards the street. I reached for my phone: I can write while I walk!

Except that it's not in my pocket, or my purse.

Did you notice what I didn't grab out of the car when I did my final check? YES THAT WOULD BE MY PHONE.


Grumbling to myself that I wanted a do-over for the last minute, I started across the street. I kind of had to go to the bathroom, and there was a gas station a hundred yards in the opposite direction. But I didn't really have to go yet, and there was another gas station about halfway between the rental car branch and my house, so I figured I'd stop there.

Determined to make SOME use of the time even if I couldn't write, I set about plotting the next several scenes of Birthright in my head. I thought about exactly what needs to happen, and in what order, and how the climax will unfold.

About thirty minutes later, I got to the gas station. The clerk told me they don't have a bathroom.



I walked the rest of the way home, plotting out bits of novel and actually pretty happy, because I could finally see what it was that I needed to do next, and where everything had been leading. My toes started to develop sore spots -- I dunno what it is with my big toes now, but if I walk more than about 1.5 miles, I start to get blisters around the bottom joint of the big toe on each foot. I noticed this when I was visiting my parents, because my father and I went for a 2-mile walk each morning.

When I got home, I commented on this confluence of unfortunate events to Lut, and he said, "That's the kind of sequence that would make me furious if it happened to me."

But I'm actually in a good mood because I KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT IN BIRTHRIGHT NOW. I can write it! Maybe even quickly!

So the first thing I did (well, after using the bathroom), before I even wrote this, was write dump a detailed outline for the next events out of my head and into a text file. I have 950 words of outline now. Yeep.

Now I will take a little break to have a snack and relax, and then: MOAR WRITING! \o/