For those who were concerned, we are back at home. We spent seven weeks at our lovely and patient friends’ house.
Here’s a view of the courtyard of the building next door, from shortly after the fire:
The whole 22-unit building next door was demolished rather quickly. It took up a surprisingly small swath of land, which is empty for now. It used to dwarf our 2-story building, but now ours looks normal-sized.
There were several hiccups along the way. They replaced the roof; but after removing the old roof the roofers didn’t put out enough tarps, and it rained, causing water damage to our unit. They repaired this, but that caused more delay and a spray of dust that covered everything.
Just before we were going to move in, the unit below us had plumbing trouble: their sink was overflowing when either they or we used the water. This was fixed (by rodding out the line), but from that time on we had no hot water in our kitchen.
The plumbers came by, saw that the report was correct, and started taking pipes apart. They were clogged with rust. But they got to where the water comes out of the wall without getting any water flow. Apparently the riser that comes from below was blocked too. They talked alarmingly about taking out the countertop and the sink to get at the riser, which would have been a huge mess.
Fortunately they thought about this, and came back on Monday to get at the wall from the other side— which is the building’s front hall. This was no small task, because our walls are plaster, which is like rock. Plus there were concrete bricks in the middle. But with the right (very noisy) tools you can do anything, and they made nice big holes in the wall to get at the risers.
Now they discovered that there was a shutoff valve in the bottom unit… it wasn’t the rust that was preventing water from coming up, it was that the plumbers fixing the overflowing sink had turned off the valve. I’d suggested as much, but of course the customer is never viewed as a reliable source of information.
Since they’d already gone into the wall, though, they replaced both hot and cold risers. It took another day to redo the plumbing, hooking up the sink, dishwasher, and refrigerator. With a working dishwasher, it finally felt like we were at home and could relax.
They’re still working on the building— the units on the west side, facing the fire, need much more restoration, and then they have to repair the basement, which had 3 feet of water. We lost a bunch of things we kept in the basement, including the original map of Verduria City. (Fortunately I’d redone it in Illustrator.)
There’s no answer, by the way, on what caused the fire. The fire department said that any evidence was itself destroyed.
Curious fact: the bricks from the destroyed building were carefully piled up and carted away. Old Chicago bricks are valuable.
On a brighter note, looking at sales, I found that five copies of Against Peace and Freedom were sold in December. That’s just enough to make the 200 sales for which I said I’d make an Incatena conlang. It only took four years. So, Hanying it is! (Not immediately, but it’s on the to-do list.)
The China book has sold over 50 copies in the same month. The Market continues intoning that it wants me to write nonfiction.