Category Archives: Life as we know it

day off

I had a day off today. I didn’t go to work. I didn’t go to the doctor. I didn’t go to the grocery store. I didn’t go to Mom’s. I didn’t do any chores around the house. Well, I did a couple of small things that needed doing.

Actually, looking back over the day, I can’t remember exactly what I did do. I worked on the checkbook this morning. Oh, I cleaned the windows in our living room. I got up this morning and had my usual cereal but then went back to bed and worked jigsaw puzzles on the ipad. I was going to take a shower but that never happened. Sepi and I were going to go to Costco but decided it could wait. Mañana!

We got up and had a big lunch. I was tired and she suggested I could take a nap. After I was on the bed for about 10 minutes, she came in and laid next to me. We were both fully dressed but she put a light cover over us. Eventually I fell asleep. When I awoke, she was sleeping soundly. That was very unusual for her. She likes to stay in bed as long as possible but once up doesn’t stop. I get up and want to do things early but want a nap later.

When I looked at the clock beside our bed, I was surprised to see 3:54 pm. Hadn’t we had lunch around 1? Wow, a two hour plus nap! Awesome!

The down side, of course, is trying to wake up. We both stumbled around for a while. I eventually went outside for a bit but it wasn’t until 6 or so that we could do anything even marginally useful. After our huge lunch, neither of us feel like eating dinner. We are snacking on cheese and fruit. At nearly 8 pm I am writing my first blog post of the month that is half over.

Happy Nowrooz

Today is Nowrooz, Persian New Year. Happy Nowrooz!

Unlike New Years’ Day in the US, Nowrooz is celebrated over the course of many days . We have been getting joyful messages from various relatives and friends of Sepi the last couple of days. Sepi has spent much of this morning on the phone speaking her curious mixture of Farsi and English.

For myself, I got the idea that I should learn Farsi. It’s not a new idea, but my current plan is to sign up for some kind of class. I need to have someone to report to – not Sepi – for proper motivation.

Last year, Sepi and I went to a Nowrooz celebration in San Mateo. I believe it was my first time out with her in front of her friends. Everyone seemed very nice, but I had to confess afterwards that I worried that a couple of Persian tough guys would come to visit me if I treated Sepi badly. She thought that was pretty funny. In fact, all of the Persian people I’ve met in the last year have been lovely people. After all, they are friends of Sepi!

So Happy Nowrooz everyone! Kiss a Persian today! I did!

‘Christopher’

A year ago when Sepi and I were new to each other, she told me she already had a friend named Chris so I couldn’t be Chris to her. This other Chris was a woman so she was actually Christine, but no one called her by that name.

After a little discussion, it was determined that Christopher was a good name and I would have to be referred to that way. It was a little weird because I have always gone by Chris as well.

Sepi stuck to it. She calls me Christopher all the time, not just when we’re around Chris or talking about her. She does it in a loving way which is nice. I suspect most people who have nicknames think, as I did, that the only time they hear their original names is when they were younger and their mother was mad at them.

Now I’ve noticed recently that I have been introducing myself to people as Christopher not Chris. I like the sound of it! It’s a bit clunky for all the time use, though. Actually, I like that Sepi is still about the only one to use it regularly. Even the other Chris calls me Chris most of the time. We get a chuckle out of it. If someone were to call ‘Christopher’ across a room I was in, my first reaction would be to expect my mother to be that person and that I had done something wrong.

I guess I’ve been good lately, because Mom’s been calling me Chris.

Claudia

Claudia works as an usher at Davies. She is from Italy so her name is pronounced cla-OO-dee-a.

I try to get to know the ushers a little bit. We work together in the front of the house. When there are problems, it helps for us to know one another.

Claudia has always been friendly enough although somewhat reserved. She’s there to do a job not prattle.

Last week, however, I saw her and she had a stony expression on her face. The phrase ‘thousand yard stare’ came to my mind. I don’t know her well enough to have asked directly if something was wrong so I went to the head usher.

He told me Claudia’s son had just died. OMFG. He was in his thirties, living in Italy and had a heart attack.

The house wasn’t open yet, so I was able to go to Claudia and talk to her for a minute or two. In my clumsy attempt to console her, I said that I had lost my son three years ago. She said she knew about Zach. She told me she had brought her son’s ashes back to the US with her. We swapped a couple of stories about spreading ashes.

I felt better for having gone to her. We are work colleagues but humans too.

time and sadness

It’s been ten days since Dad died. Many people have expressed their condolences to me. No doubt many more have done so to Mom and my siblings.

Yet we’re all pretty dry eyed and matter of fact about it – at least in my company. We Wood’s are famously even tempered but this is our father, for god’s sake!

So I’ve been thinking about why. ‘He had a good life.’ ‘He was ready.’ ‘He had been in a long decline and wasn’t really who he had been for a long time.’

That last is kind of my best answer. He really died a long time ago. The weird part is that it wasn’t a clearly defined event like last week. The breathing stops, the heart stops – he’s dead.

But that begs the question of who ‘he’ is. Preparing for the funeral, Tom created a slideshow for people to watch. We started with 20 or 30 pictures but it quickly grew to nearly 100. That was Tuesday. As of yesterday, it was up to nearer 150. We’ll probably keep working on it right up to when we have to leave for the church Monday.

What was interesting to me was that the exercise brought back into my mind the man who raised me – without doubt the most influential man in my life. Over the last four years that man has slowly slipped away.

I can’t help but contrast Dad’s death with the death of Zach. Two people who were as close to me as anyone could be and yet my reactions couldn’t have been more different. The circumstances were vastly different, of course, so that must be why.

The time that has passed since Zach’s death has muted my feelings. Life goes on. I still get angry about the actions of the two drivers and will approach the DA once more about reopening the case. But the overwhelming sadness that I felt for months afterwards hasn’t shown up for Dad.

The funeral is Monday. We’ll see how that goes.

Norm

I met a lot of new people last spring as Sepi and I were beginning our life together. One of them was Norm. Norm was married to a woman who had been City Manager when Sepi was Mayor.

Norm’s posture was quite stooped over in a way that reminded me of Dad so I started to talk to him about it. Unlike Dad’s, his condition had come up rather suddenly the previous fall. As recently as a year previous, he had been in robust health and was quite active.

I don’t remember if he knew at the time what it was. More likely he just didn’t tell me that it was ALS.

Norm died last week.

I only saw Norm one other time. It was at a birthday party a few weeks later. In that short time he had deteriorated markedly. He was having great difficulty holding his head up and speaking. In that first conversation, though, we bonded in a mysterious way. When Sepi shared the news of Norm’s death with me, I got choked up in a way that I didn’t with Dad.

Sepi talked to Robin yesterday. She said Robin told her how Norm had read my blog regularly and how much he had enjoyed it.

Thank you, Norm! Your friendship was brief but brilliant. Rest in Peace.

news

Why haven’t there been more postings this past fall, you may ask? Some of the issues after the wedding I’ve already written about. My boss at Davies took a 4 1/2 week vacation and I was the principal relief. Then December, always busy at Davies, happened.

The biggest reason, though, is the water leak we had on our kitchen on Nov 12th. The poly line from the sink to the refrigerator burst. Sepi was home and was able to turn off the water but the flooring around the refrigerator was soaked.

She called the insurance and the mitigators came with large fans and a dehumidifier that ran day and night. They put up a big tent arrangement around the kitchen area. There was a big zipper for the only entrance/exit. Around this time was the fire near Oroville that sent heavy smoke into the Bay Area so we couldn’t open our windows.

After a few days of this, Sepi called the insurance and told them that we couldn’t live under those conditions. They agreed and we moved out to a local hotel.

In some ways it was nice, but it was not good for writing in blogs. I only access this blog from my desktop computer at home and now I was only in the house for a few minutes at a time.

So, that’s the main reason. As of three days ago, we are back sleeping in our home. The kitchen is repaired. We are still looking through boxes and putting things away. Work has slowed just a bit. I had two days off this week.

RIP Dennis

Dennis D. died yesterday. He was 65. Dennis was a member of the Symphony stage crew for more than 25 years until his retirement in July 2016. Here’s a picture of all of us at the end of the load out on his last day. Dennis is sitting at the piano.

I first got to know Dennis when I worked with him at the Opera House in the 1980s. He was on the Props crew. I didn’t see him again until he came with the Symphony to the Mondavi Center at UC Davis around 2006 when I was the Local 50 Business Agent. The Symphony always hired a Union crew there. We had dinner together and had a good time reminiscing.

After I came back to San Francisco, I eventually started working more regularly with the Symphony at Davies Hall and was glad to see Dennis again. Despite my many years of stagehand experience, I was uneducated in the ways of the Symphony. Dennis helped me both directly by instruction and indirectly by example. There are a million details in dealing with a Symphony orchestra and Dennis knew all of them. I noticed that all the other stagehands would come to Dennis whenever they were stuck and couldn’t remember how to do some odd thing that hadn’t been done for a long time. Dennis always had the answer.

Even though Dennis was a life long smoker, he always had plenty of energy and seemed in good health. Two months ago, he went to the doctor with pain in his hip. It turned out to be a large cancerous mass and there were others throughout his body. He was determined to live until his daughter’s wedding, scheduled for New Years’ Eve, but it was not to be.

Our friend and colleague Arno was bereft last night. ‘Why do the good ones die young?’, he asked. I had no answer for him. All I could think of was Zach, but it would do no good to mention that.

Dennis, like Zach, lived life to the fullest. We should honor their memory by doing the same.

things

I made some reference in my last post about my things – memorabilia, books, clothes – that we moved last week from my apartment. I’m still busy trying to finish the floor, but boxes of my things are all over the house. I’ve found that the context has changed how I look at them. Next week the floor will be done and we will crack the garage and Sepi’s things – mostly furniture – will come out and go upstairs. There will then be lots of storage room for all of my boxes.

But now I think I will be letting go of much of it. I’ve had some discussions with friends about their experiences going through their parents’ house after their deaths. Much had to be thrown away. I’ve known for a long time that the same will be true when Mom and Dad pass on. Most of these things are interesting, up to a point. Taken in total, it’s too much.

Well, that day is not yet upon us, but my day is. We have a huge dumpster in front of our house and it must be returned by the end of the month. Many of my things will be in it.

a dose of reality

I knew I hadn’t posted in a very long time. Tonight I looked back at my last post. I said I figured by the third week of September I could relax and look out the window.

Didn’t happen.

Tonight is Wednesday, six weeks since my marriage and three weeks since my last post. I guess three weeks is my thing nowadays . . .

What happened? Saturday the 1st we got possession of the house after the tenants left. We had agreed the carpet had to go and had bought some bamboo flooring. It was supposed to be delivered that day. The delivery people were supposed to call me the night before and tell me when I could expect them. Didn’t happen. In the morning I started calling the store. No answer. Are they closed for Labor Day?? Eventually Sepi got through to someone on the corporate help line but they couldn’t get through to the store either.

Meanwhile, I pressed ahead with the removal of the old carpet. About 5 o’clock, a truck pulled up with the flooring. They had had to make a delivery in Sacramento, they said. It was ok as now I had some bare floor for them to put it on.

Well, not really bare as we discovered. Staples from 2 iterations of carpet pad were everywhere. Some of the floor leveling was still there and usable but much more had to be done. At first I was trying to leave the baseboard attached to the wall but eventually I realized I was going to have to have it off to put the floor in.

The next day, Sunday, I could barely move. In fact, beginning that day I’ve been beating my body up almost every day. Knees, back, shoulders, hands. Everything hurts. The days I went to work instead of working on the house I had to run conduit in the Davies attic. More kneeling and clambering over things. The wood had to ‘acclimate’ in the house for a week before I could start laying it.

When I started to lay it out, I immediately discovered that the long wall was not perfectly straight. I got hung up on worrying about some fractions of inches in a couple of spots. I thought maybe I should start on the other side of the room. I laid planks down across the room to see where the came out. I called the guy at the store who had said he would come over and give me some pointers. Now he’s too busy . . . All the videos I had watched showed the planks being cut with a chop saw so I went out and rented one. The rental place didn’t help me get the saw blade on so I broke it turning the mounting bolt the wrong way. No manual was supplied.

I thrashed around like this for two days. Finally, one of Sepi’s friends, a contractor, came by and offered to loan me a small power hand saw. He said to not worry about the accuracy of the cuts as they were going to be under the baseboards. He also told me to not stress over a few gaps. He also said he thought it was a ‘4 or 5 day’ job. I had thought one or two! The next morning, Chris E came over. She reminded me that, ‘Perfect is the enemy of the good,’ and suggested I get going.

So I did.

I got the big room and the front bedroom mostly done by Friday the 14th. I had originally wanted to have the whole thing finished by the 11th or 12th leaving plenty of time to finish packing my apartment and move carefully. Nope. It was another Saturday blitz.

Jack and Julian had already helped with the carpet staples. They were ready for the big move but Julian hurt his shoulder. Jack’s friend Dante came through for the morning along with the the Solano family van. Because the floor wasn’t done, we hadn’t been able to touch Sepi’s stuff in the garage because there was nowhere to put her things. I had to be very creative about where I put my things. We had some – mostly civil – discussions about what memorabilia were appropriate to keep. I promised I would review everything critically but for now I had to move it. People who had said they would come and get my old bed didn’t show up. Sepi and I had both thought we could get done by early afternoon. We closed out the apartment at 9 pm by putting the bed by the dumpster with a free sign on it. I sent messages to everyone who had expressed interest to come and get it. Some things that in other circumstances would have gone to Goodwill went into the dumpster. My car was full and it was dark and I wasn’t going to make another trip.

Sunday we just vegged. We talked at one point about going to a movie but neither of us really wanted to leave the house. Monday I had to go back to work and Monday night was jazz band. Yesterday some things happened at work and I had to stay a couple hours overtime unexpectedly. I collapsed into bed about 9. Tonight, Sepi’s contractor friend agreed to loan me his pin stapler so I could start putting baseboards back on. I got the bedroom about 90% done. I got the bookcase in from the deck and hung the closet doors. The is not as high as the carpet was so the old baseboard shows some of my board ends. I’m not sure now how I will deal with that.

Actually, I decided to let it ride until daylight and write this post. I have some pictures but I can’t remember where I put them. Another time.