Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Splitting Hairs

I decided I wanted to get a really short haircut. How short? Short. A buzz cut.

Actually, I had decided this 'way before my retirement over two years ago. I didn't do it because, well, geez, there are a lot of reasons. I had to go to the symphony. I had to meet people. But the real reason was, I chickened out.

So when my girlfriend kept asking, "Ooooh, are you going to get that short haircut now?" I finally decided to go for it. I had admired short haircuts on some friends of mine, and, you know, no crushed look when you sleep on it wrong if it's really short. So, today I walked into the generic version of Supercuts and announced I was going to try an experiment.

I'm funny about haircuts. I don't mind spending a C-note on a nice meal. Or paying a lot of money for clothes that will last awhile. But I hate spending any money at all on something that's going to be gone -- or I should say, be back, as it will grow back -- in just a few weeks. I've heard a lot of women, including my friends, say they'd pay almost any amount of money if they could just be assured of a decent haircut, but not me. So every time I go into a cheap place like the one at the Payless strip mall, I take my hair life into my hands.

I had rehearsed what I was going to say. I knew that I'd be dealing with a language barrier, as the women who work at this place are ESL -- skillful with a razor, but not so skilled on figuring out what you want -- so, yes, a double risk here.

As soon as I walked in, one of the women practically yelled out, "Linda!" (I guess good tipping really does work.) I had to give my phone number, but the woman handling the computer couldn't find it. The other woman, the one who knows my name, helped her find me, and then the cashier woman asked me to follow her.

I knew we had a problem as soon as I said my rehearsed speech. "I would like to do something new," I said, trying to ease her into the situation. "I want it short. Very short. About an inch long, if that." So then she said to me, "Same length?" Ooops. No.

So I would speak to the 2nd woman, the woman who knows my name, and she would interpret for the first woman, the one with the scissors in her hand. It was an interesting triumvirate. She'd say something and we'd all laugh. I had no idea what they were saying.

After the first shave-through, I caught a glance of my head in the mirror and said, "Oooh." She immediately said, "All right?" I replied, "Yes!" more to reassure her. I was kind of in shock, but I didn't really get a good look. The 2nd woman with the better English skills walked by and said, "Very sexy!" Must be the first thing they teach you in hair grooming school.

So I didn't know what the result was. Until I strolled into Payless and caught a glimpse of me in one of their makeup mirrors.

Oh My God. I've never had my hair this short. Not even -- no, not even then. I guess when people mistake me for a man now, I'll have to lower my voice. My God.

You know the saying, he didn't have the brains God gave baby ducks? My hair looks like the fuzz from a baby duck. Without the brains God gave baby ducks.

I immediately bought some hair goo in Payless. Something to tame it. But there's nowhere for it to go, you know? It just lies there -- no, it doesn't lie, it's straight up, sorta.

The beauty of this experiment is that it will grow out. I think it will look just fine -- in the near future. I guess I can say, looking at it in a positive way, I finally got to do one of the things I've always wanted to do.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Remodel Hell - More Precious than the One Ring

Smeagol had just killed his brother and was gazing at the beauty of his precious, when a large truck pulled up in front of my house, its cargo more precious than the One Ring. The last rays of the sun glinted off the shiny chrome in the back of the pick-up, and my Shower Door Installer guy came to greet me cheerily even though it was sunset. He had arrived two-and-a-half hours later than he said he would, and I was glad to see him. I had just started "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" in case you hadn't guessed.

Faramir's army was headed into sheer futility at the base of Minas Tirith when Shower Stall guy finished. He warned me as he stepped out of the front door: "Don't turn on the water for 24 hours! Let it set."

I can't take a shower yet, but I can stare at it. It gleams in the tiny bathroom. And thank God, I noted to whomever was listening, the door clears the toilet. Whew.

It's done! It's done! Oh, except for the PG&E thing which will restore power to the master bedroom. But neither Ernie nor I can control that. It's done.

Oh, did I tell you I already have the next project lined up? Different company this time -- Honey Do Remodeling -- who will forge a redwood fence for me around the front part of the property. And take the old, sagging, collapsing one (in the wrong color) away. And there's also some insulation they'll plant in my attic. There's not much up there.

It's an old house, you know. Always needs work. But it's getting newer all the time.

Remodel Hell - Another Part of "The Last Day"

I got up at 6:30 this morning, but there was no need. Jose and friend from Martinez Construction didn't show up until 1 pm.

They are so funny! Jose got into the house, put down the tarp to catch paint, talked with me about the patches in the bathroom wall that obviously needed another coat, and then asked, "Where's the paint?" I thought he was kidding! He wasn't kidding.

He finally found the paint at the foot of the deck stairs. Phew. Two wild and crazy guys.

In another 2 to 3 hours, Shower Door Installer Man should be arriving! It's not a Remodel, It's an Adventure!

Remodel Hell - The Last Day?

Is this truly the last day for Martinez Construction? For remodel Hell?

I woke up at 6 this morning, wondering about a million things, but the focus was on the remodel. Ernie is sending Jose over to work the punch list, and is assuming this will be the last day. In fact, he doesn't expect it to take all day.

And at 3 pm today, give or take an hour, the shower door installer is supposed to show up (for the second time). I may actually be able to take a shower in my new beautiful shower tonight! I'll have to clean up the space, of course. There's still a large piece of cardboard lying on the shower pan because I know there will be more footprints on it before all is done.

Even after today, though, I still won't have power in my bedroom. I'm writing this by the hall light. PG&E won't get to me until after their emergencies are done, and, after 4 weeks of waiting, they're not telling us when that might be.

Is this the last day? I don't believe it. But if the shower door gets put in, I'll be happy!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Brave New World

Tonight was the first time I lit shabbat candles for myself.

It's not my first shabbat. Thanks to dear friends Dawn, Mark and Val, I have been at others' houses when they light them. But I think tonight is the day that I finally decided I was going to try to observe shabbat.

I have two very plain candles in little green glass holders. I lit them and said the blessing for the first time. I don't have it memorized yet, but I expect, with the constance of Friday evening in my future, I will learn it. I also said the blessing for wine as I lifted the glass of Chardonnay to my lips. And I said the blessing (although I'm not sure it's the right one) for the beef before I ate it.

I have to tell you: I kind of enjoy the idea of blessing food before I eat, of acknowledging the fact that I did not create this and that I'm thankful to have it. Whether or not you can wrap your arms around the idea of Adonai, you have to admit that you didn't do everything yourself. This piece of fruit is here for a reason. This bread someone made with natural ingredients and their own labor. I am thankful. The blessing slows me down and makes me acknowledge so many things.

I didn't have any challah, which kind of upsets me. And I passed right in front of the Grand Lake bakery today; I could've bought some. I had some rolls with dinner, but I don't suppose my mother's type of rolls would substitute for the tasty, twisted challah. Well, one thing at a time.

And tonight was not ideal. Ideally I would spend the shabbat evening with family and/or friends. I'm alone tonight. But that's okay because I'm practicing.

Ever since I discovered the concept of shabbat, I've been trying to figure it out. I worry about it. What do you do? More to the point, what do you not do on shabbat? I remember Rabbi Dardik's talk about shabbat vividly. He has such an expressive way of talking, and his enthusiasm is so infectious. He told our group about all the ways there are for getting around the restrictions of shabbat. Getting someone to take you somewhere. Having someone lift and carry something for you. Turning the game on with a timer set for after sundown. Rabbi Dardik is an orthodox Jew, so his shabbat rules are 'way more restrictive than that of Reform.

But the other night, Rabbi Broude said that he does not attend performances on shabbat, and he's Reform. "Performances" include movies.

Yes, yes, I can hear all of you out there telling me I should be concentrating on the spirit of Shabbat, the positive view of it, as a time to enjoy with family and friends, and not dwell on the negative of restrictions. Enjoying movies is something I like to do with family and friends, I would argue. Perhaps I could approach it that way, a way of spending time with people I love, something we both or all enjoy. (I also like to spend money and buy things, but I get it that I shouldn't be doing that on shabbat if I want to observe this day in an orthodox, reform or whatever way.)

I'm still figuring out what I should do and not do on shabbat. Lighting candles signifies the beginning. Havdallah (sp?) signifies the end. (But I haven't got there yet. I need two candles intertwined for that.) And in between, I should have a very good time. And I want to devote a piece of time to the study of Judaism -- its practices, ideals, history.

I'll be seeing "Memoirs of a Geisha" with my good friend, Bruce tomorrow afternoon. I hope that qualifies as shabbat worthy.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Remodel Hell - The Other Woman

There's another woman. I'm sure of it.

My trusty band of construction workers failed to show up after the great Lock-Out. No tap-tap-tap. No sound of drilling in the morning. It's quiet.

And now it's two days since then, and still no sign of them. I've actually started parking in my own driveway.

They're on another job. I know it. Now that the rain has stopped, albeit briefly, they can do outside work. In another part of town.

My punch list is still a mile long. I don't know whether I can take a shower or not during the day. So I still live in Remodel Hell. But it's lonely here.

Come back...

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Remodel Hell - The Shower Door Lock-Out

It's time for an update.

Ernie came over last week, and together we wrote up a 2-page "punch" list, those items that haven't been done yet or haven't been done to my satisfaction. There's a lot.

He thought that everything had been done except for (1) the installation of the shower door in the new bathroom, and (2) the attachment of the new electrical line by PG&E and his electrician (to give me power in my master bedroom). When he saw the doors off the hinges, the unfinished paint job, etc., he knew better.

The crew came out during the one day it didn't rain last week and poured concrete for the new position of the side gate (to accommodate the new electricial box on the side of the house). Then, yesterday, the crew came out again to finish the gate and start work on the punch list on the inside.

And -- AND!! -- the installation of the new glass shower door was due that day. I was very excited about that.

Except that I got a voicemail several hours later that Glenn had locked the crew out by closing the locked door when they exited during lunch, just when the shower door installer guy was pulling up....

You can imagine the rest. No shower door installed. We were put at the bottom of their list -- actually, Ernie pleaded with them and we moved up a few days. Next Monday. Another week of waiting.

And Glenn and crew couldn't continue work. They also ran out of white paint, and apparently ran out of money to buy more.

This is beginning to look like a circus, except that I have full faith that things will continue and everything will work out.

It just takes time, as it's officially 8 weeks since we started in a project that was estimated to take 5 weeks. And a great deal of patience.