Monday, May 30, 2011

The Sink Project

Knowing that we'd have company by next weekend, I made a bold adjustment to the project schedule, essentially breaking out the bathroom sink as a separate project of its own, which meant grouting the tile, attaching the Mexican sink to the tile, installing the faucets and completing the plumbing under the sink. Otherwise our guests would not have a place to wash their hands.

Normally I'd need several meetings with the project manager to get such a drastic change approved. We'd draw up a change in scope and wrestle with the existing project plan to get the arrows, lines, triangles and colors in the proper configuration. Then there's document review, another meeting for scheduling and yet another for manpower adjustment and then final management review. And by that time, our guests would have already been here and gone.

So, even though I'm just a worker bee, I made an execute decision to finish the sink with no supporting ISO-compliant documentation. In two days the work was done.

Of course, Willow will take credit for the sink when our guests arrive. She'll brag about our adaptable and facile corporate structure. In the meantime she is not pleased with me at all.

Friday, May 27, 2011

How Tiles Get Made

Here is one of my tiles, picked completely at random from the box, tucked into the elbow of a carpenter's square (a tool that brings up a completely different memory, but I'm trying to stay focused on the tile for now). Virtually every one of my tiles are comically crooked and bent like this, curved and buckled and warped, but that's the charm, right?

My guess is that the tile maker has a square frame on her work desk somewhere in Mexico, and I imagine that she looks out from the back porch onto a vast plantation of coconut palms. It is a perfect square in all regards, but she has a fiery temper and little regard for detail on many days. She slops in a hand-full of wet clay and flattens it out, and then she removes the frame and smooths off the top edges. And then something happens: sometimes she pushes too hard or she drops it on the floor or she throws it at her husband. She is bored with the tile-making, it seems, but it is a living.

Or maybe these are cranked out in a factory. Who knows?

Because each tile is different, I had to cut and place them all into a taped grid on the vanity top, carefully so that the faucet holes and sink opening are OK. The slightest movement of one would introduce chaos. So I un-taped them and set them back one at a time.

And now that it's dry, I'll grout the top today and then install the sink and faucets tomorrow, getting ready for a visit from Cheryl's parents next week. Maybe we'll even put the toilet back into place...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

So Many Things Undone

According to some nutty guy on the radio, the world is supposed to end later today. So Willow called a special meeting at 5:30 this morning. "Wouldn't it be a shame," she said to all of us assembled in the breakfast room, "if we left this earth today, with so many things undone."

I haven't done any work on the bathroom since the fire, but now I'm ready to start again, and, coincidentally, the world is ending on the same day, and it seems that Willow and her upper management team have dreamed up this new way to keep the project on course, beginning with the early morning meeting--early, so there's no time for anyone to develop personal plans for the apocalypse.

She continued with a long pep talk, sounding like an inspired football coach who never gives up, even when the team is about to jump into a lake of fire after halftime. And she had some interesting incentive for me. Apparently, if I can get the sink tiles cut by today, Satan will not be so mean to me this evening.

So let it be recorded as follows: On the last day, management called a meeting, and I went back to work. What better way to prepare for Armageddon?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Cocktail Party

Today was a day for the closing of loose ends, for finally getting signed up with a new home security system, and for finally setting my computer so that it backs up to one of those online backup sites.

And as much as I pedal water, my chin is still wet from working with the insurance company and contractors about the house fire, expanding it now to other repairs like replacing the broken window in the guest house and the leaking window in my office. It's a never ending stream of activity that most normal people would consider just normal, but that seems like complete chaos to me. The loose ends are endless. Normality has vanished.

Cheryl and I even went to a cocktail party at a country club this weekend, a benefit for guide dogs and, if I'm not mistaken, the first cocktail party I've ever attended without being paid. A band was playing off to the side, and I was transported back in time to the days when I played in a tuxedo band for weddings and big parties like this. On breaks we would attempt to steal drinks and food from the buffet table, stuffing shrimp and buns and cocktail weiners into our tuxedo pockets until we developed permanent greasy stains.

Back in those days I never saw myself--my older self--out in the crowd. I never guessed that I would be rubbing noses with the country-club set. But then, I never saw my older self at all. And I still don't, except briefly in the mirror now and then.

The guys in the band smiled at me when I walked by with Berkeley. Me, wearing my silk jacket and walking a dog wearing a blue jacket. Sigh.

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Mother's Day Post

My hand is healing slowly, casually knitting in the new skin, cell by cell, just as the clock ticks away, with no hurry or worry about my project schedule. Every night I take off the bandages and get into the shower to scrub off the remaining cream and take a close look, then rinse off and get a fresh set of bandages. As of last night my skin, except for the odd burn on the top of my foot, was completely closed.

During the fire a piece of black bubbling ooze landed on my left sandal and petrified, fused itself into the black plastic, where it remains as a present for me to cherish. Part of that glob landed on my foot, though, and I still have a small, angry flesh volcano at that spot.

I suppose I'm writing this because I used to say things like this to get a reaction from my mom, who's not here, again, this Mother's day. I wish I could turn back the calendar at least once a year and go visit her. And show off my bandages.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Bingo: Mission Accomplished

Bingo, our former puppy who vanished without a trace into the service of the CIA about one year ago, is back to visit us, and only a few days after Bin Laden was killed in Pakistan, though of course we do not discuss such things. And yet the timing is interesting.

Consider also that now his favorite toy is a Pakistani elk antler, something he sucks on like it was a fat, expensive cigar. He's a big boy, solid, and serious, with stories to tell, except he cannot tell them.

He'll be here until Monday and then he's off again, off to do Bingo things.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Tight White Dress

What looks good in a tight white dress? My right hand. That's right. My sexy right hand.

The burn people say I've got another week or so in these dressings, but at least all my fingers are free and I can type at normal speed, making my white dressing dance.

Sexy! (But not like Michael Jackson or anything weird.)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Still not Recognized

My computer still refuses to recognize me even after the bandages are gone from my right index finger. The fingerprint sensor gives me a big X and says Failed, which tells you a little about the people who developed the software. They could have used a smiley face instead and with a nice message like "Are you sure that was your finger?"

Maybe it's because my finger is a little raw, a little pinkish and without the normal layer of dead skin. It's pink and shiny like the top of my head when I stay outside for too long without a hat. Or maybe some transformation has taken place in the hills and valleys of my fingerprint, which I doubt because John Dillinger famously tried to burn off his fingerprints, and failed, and I bet he wasn't a baby about burning himself.

So I still have to enter my password. I'll keep trying every morning until the machine knows who's fingering who.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Out of the Routine

With my right hand still pretty gimped, the bathroom project is at a complete stop, waiting within my eyesight here in the office, just as I type this, if I tilt my head to the left a few inches. The green tile is shimmering on the wall. "Have you forgotten me?" it says with a sigh when I peek.

And the other after-effects of the microwave fire continue to deprive us of our normal routine. We're shopping for appliances, evaluating new home security systems, working with the insurance company and some contractors, eating cold stuff from the fridge. And lately a software problem at work is giving me fits and consuming my other "free" time, something that I've resolved to appreciate, with appropriate regularity, as soon as I get it back.

But the hard fact is this: right now my hand is wrapped in a dressing that I can't get wet. No cutting tile with the wet saw. Maybe one more week and my burns will be healed enough that I can get back into the routine.

I'm not complaining.