Thursday, August 30, 2007

Linda in a way you've never seen her before: Down in the Dirt

The day started off early, as usual over the last two weeks. I get up at 7. I'm retired!! Don't they know that??!

But the construction guys never came. So I drove off at 8:20 am, drove past an accident (watching a woman nearly coast her car into mine because she was watching the accident -- I hate that!), went to the Lakeshore post office to mail a damn eBay poster, and then to Dawn's house. Belle forgets who I am, barks, and then acts embarrassed when the door opens. Oh, you! You practically live here!

We went for our walk around Lake Merritt, discussing the vagaries of our lives. Career decisions. Home decisions. The Stuff that is life.

Then, after 3.3 miles, and dripping with sweat as the temperature in Oakland rises steadily, we drove off to Long's (aka Payless), and looked at flowers. Well, Dawn looked at flowers. I followed along, thinking secretly that they all look alike.

I warned her that we don't have any tools, so we bought two trowels, a big and a small one. And one big plant and several little plants. I've forgotten what they are. The tags described them as sun-something, mums. Dawn said they weren't mums. Val will know.

We didn't buy enough for the two big beds, whose soil was put in by the construction crew just days ago. I had described the soil as "wood-chippie," which didn't sound appetizing to Dawn, but when she got here, she said it was great. And when we started digging holes with our trowels, the soil parted like the Red Sea. It was pliable and soft, a dream for a gardener who doesn't want to stay out there in the sun too long.

While we were doing that, Ernie came by in the truck, and took a final check from me. Actually, I'm not sure if they're done below. I think so. I forgot to ask! It seemed more important to ask about the heat duct system.

He brought in a ladder and took a look through the attic hole, saying at once how hot it was up there. He took my flashlight and looked all around, and immediately spotted two or three connections that weren't being made (the heating duct to the furnace). So, problem is diagnosed!

We'll coordinate next week on a cool morning for the crew to come out here and get that done. A couple of hours, he said. Is it free? I don't sounded free. But year-long problem will be solved BEFORE winter gets here!!

In the meantime, about one-third of the flower beds are done. We decided to concentrate on the strip next to the sidewalk. And when I find one, I'll put in a stepping stone so that we don't have to leap over the sprouts.

We hooked up the new fertilizer spread nozzle to the hose and watered the plants after they were finally in. I am supposed to do this every seven days. I think I can handle that.

In the meantime, the front yard is shaping up quite nicely, thanks to Dawn's labor and Val's input.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Cooling Off in the Hot Prospect of More Construction

I'm drinking some cold water all evening. It is bloody hot here. George and I went to the A's game today. We had these great seats right by the A's bullpen, but it was too hot to sit there for more than an inning. In fact, while we were there, a couple sat right in front of us (and I'm thinking, there goes my view!), when they rose up quickly because of the heat on the seats, no doubt, and left immediately. We joined them soon after, heading for the shade up under the overhang. Wimps we are.

So I returned home to a voicemail from Ernie, the foreman for Martinez Construction. They're not finished. The holes and anchoring system passed inspection this morning, but there's still some work to be done to finish. Well, gee, I could've guessed that. When Ernie visited this morning to pick up the check, he checked all the smoke detectors inside the house (because ALL inspectors look at that before they okay the final inspection), and then he snuck a look at the foundation stuff. I could hear him talking to himself -- loudly. And then I heard his muffled cell phone call. I could tell that all was not perfect in construction-land.

So they're coming back tomorrow to do some more hammering. I like that about Ernie. I mean, they had already passed the inspection. But the wooden structure wasn't put up well enough. So he makes it right.

And I got a survey from Martinez Construction in the mail today! Before they finished! Which leads me to think....hmmm...there is one problem with the job they did last March...

So I'm thinking of asking Ernie to give me an estimate on fixing the heat duct (which they re-installed around the remodel last year), because I'm not getting any heat in the winter-time in the master bedroom. We froze all last winter.

They finished the job in March, and I turned on the heat in November. Which means that, eight months later, after the construction, I had a problem. I thought it was too late to call them.

So....I figure....if I'm lucky and ethical considerations come into play, maybe he'll offer to do it for free...?

Gosh, just the idea of heat flowing into the master bedroom on these nights makes me cringe. I need more water.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Near the End of Another Project

The anchor project will end either tomorrow, if the inspector can be scheduled for Wednesday morning versus the afternoon, or Thursday. (Afternoon means they can't quite finish it, as there are some things that must be done after the inspector leaves.)

The 1st photo shows the little storage area under the main bedroom: they've bolstered that. The 2nd photo shows under the house. It's a hot day today, but it's strangely cool down there. No wonder they're playing hippity hop music from south of the border: it's cool enough for dancing.

This hopefully will be my last project on this house. This job cost just as much as the bathroom addition last year. Unbelievable, eh?

Thursday my friend Dawn and I will go to Payless to select some plants, mostly annuals (?), to plant in the new flower beds. Then, next year, we'll do something a little more permanent.

We hope to have the plants in before Val returns. Should be really a pretty entrance by the time it's all finished!

Monday, August 20, 2007

It Takes a Village to Build a Flower Bed

It's been about 4 hours since they started the project.

I went to my medical appointment, the bank, Costco, the post office. Lunch at the bottom of a pepperoni slice. And when I got back, all the big stones were gone.

One photo is this morning, the other is this afternoon.

The "village" is: My sweetie envisioned it, I budgeted for it and built it into a much larger project, and Martinez Construction guys are making it real. Very nice. Oh -- also, there's a dead bush that they will remove. It froze during the winter and never recovered.

I have no idea what will go in these two flower beds. Or what will replace the plant. I'm hoping my sweetie, the one with the green thumb, will take charge. When she gets a break from school, that is.

And the music is now rhythm and blues. I recognize most of the songs. Go figure.

Bolting Me to the Foundation

I'm excited. No, not about the construction project of bolting the house to the foundation.

I could do without the underground project. It's expensive. It's noisy, dusty, a crew walking around early in the morning. At one point today, there will be two jackhammers competing for my irritation.

I wasn't prepared for the constant Mexican music surrounding the house in a protective aura.

I will be glad when the underground project is done, especially if they don't find any more new problems.

But I am excited about the front yard landscaping. They're taking out the rocks and putting in a redwood framework and dirt. It should look spectacular when it's done!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Highlights of the Las Vegas Star Trek Convention

When Marguerite left a voicemail on my cell phone about meeting Rene on Sunday, I felt conflicted. I had a scheduled Photo Op with Kate Mulgrew only 20 minutes after our group started to gather in one of the Hilton hotel rooms.

I went to the 7th floor but found I was several minutes early. While I was pacing the floor in front of Marguerite’s hotel room, another couple of fellow fans joined me in the hallway, and together we knocked on the door. I recognized quite a few old friends, the ones I only see at conventions. And a few minutes later, we all went over to Rene’s room.

Marguerite introduced me to Rene, who shook my hand, explaining that I would have to duck out within a few minutes. He was very kind, gracious, but he looked confused, probably because he remembers meeting me before. I don’t know how someone as popular as Rene could possibly remember all of us, but before our little meeting with him began, he went around the room and pointed out the ones he hadn’t met yet. Amazing.

Rick called me right then from the dealer's room to tell me how long the Kate line was, and that I had a few more minutes. And I couldn’t leave until Rene finished his story about how he landed a part on Holly Hunter’s new show. Finally he finished (after a tangential comment about the L.A. fires), and I waved and rushed back out.

How kind of Rene to take the time to catch up with us personally. How amazing is his career. I have to say, meeting him in his room was the highlight of the convention for me.

Other highlights of this, the biggest of the Star Trek conventions:

*Getting my photo op with Rene and Nana, both of whom seemed to be giggling over something Rene had just said.
*Jonathan Frakes telling us that this year is the anniversary “of the worst career decision ever made by Denise Crosby.” Frakes and Brent Spiner were hilarious on stage.
*I loved it when Leonard Nimoy talked about the discrimination large women receive in this country. “It’s cruel!” he exclaimed.
*Armin telling the story about asking Wallace Shawn why they didn’t get to see the Grand Nagus more. Wallace replied, “Armin, it takes me that long to forget how bad the makeup is!”
*Taking over Quark’s Bar with a thousand other Trekkies. And then offering my table to a starving Max Grodenchik as he held his plate, looking for a place to sit.
*New mothers Terry Farrell and Nicole deBoer, going on about their babies. Nicole: “I love it. Except I haven’t slept for six-and-a-half months.”
*The fan who related a tale of being at Yale with Rene’s daughter, and saying a belated “Thanks for the beer, Odo!” when Rene had bought a round for the players that night.
*Chase Masterson telling me that she’s sorry she never answered my email when I have never sent Chase an email. Seems there’s a director’s wife with the exact same name as mine.
*Nana admitting that her acting process is sometimes painful. “You have to go to the dark places. I don’t know how to pretend.”
*Watching Nana perform in front of the Las Vegas Symphony, singing All That Jazz.
*Hearing Kate Mulgrew on stage. Always eloquent, always surprising. She held the hand of one young woman, making her promise that she won’t go to young men. Obviously Kate is living her role in her stage play, Iphigenia 2.0.
*Hearing Rene talk about Julian. “It’s one of the great miracles of life when your daughter has a child. I’m just ga-ga with love."

Monday, August 13, 2007

Never Ask a Romulan to Call Bingo

Boy, what a summer! I truly cannot remember a summer so jam-packed with action, travel, and basically the things I love. I mean, last summer was wonderful, but add a wedding to my sweetie, another world-class cruise to a part of the world I thought I'd never see, and, yes, a Star Trek convention.

The only thing I don't like about the Las Vegas convention is, well, there are a few. The 103-degree heat. The really weird fans (yes, there are a few, like the Poodle People). The seats from which you can't take photos. The parties that are included that I can't attend because I'm exhausted after a 12-hour day.

But the good things outweigh the bad. For example, one of the funniest things I've ever experienced in my life happened at this one. It happened at the Bingo "Resistance is Futile" Game on Thursday night.

Award-winning veteran actor Malachi Throne was at this convention, and the old guy drew quite a crowd in the secondary theatre. He seemed to enjoy telling us tales from the over 150 T.V. shows he has guest-starred in. In fact, he's the only star I know who starred in the original series (as a Starfleet officer in The Menagerie (aka The Cage), my favorite episode) and then came back for The Next Generation (as a Romulan senator). That range of years should tell you that Mr. Throne is getting on in years. But when they asked him to host Bingo, he more than happily obliged.

However, when it came to calling the numbers from the little Bingo balls, he couldn't see the numbers. So the young Creation helper told him the numbers. But when you're blind AND deaf, your career as a Bingo Caller is short-lived. He kept calling the wrong numbers. I have to say, as I'm laughing out loud right now, I have never heard "D 49" called at a Bingo game. And "D" came up several times.

It was one of the funniest things I've ever seen!! However, the room was filled with either people who wanted to win that$1,000 gift certificate, and were very serious about it, or Bingo purists like my nephew. Neither type was very happy with Mr. Throne's invention of Bindo.

So now I have to go off and spend an hour trying to decipher my notes and write a column for the Far Beyond the Stars newsletter, the one that covers Deep Space Nine stars Nana Visitor, Alexander Siddig, Andrew Robinson, and Armin Shimerman. And I may have to cover Rene Auberjonois in a separate report for his newsletter, too. I enjoy the reports after I finish, but it's still work.