Thursday, August 22, 2013

And now ....a little something extra....JURY DUTY

When I saw the letter, I thought it was a mistake.

Jury Duty?  ME?   NOW?

I read the summons at least 6 times before I decided it was legitimate, it was for me, and it begins September to December.

All kind of bad scenarios popped into my head.....What if they sequester me before my Bat Mitzvah and I can't practice? What if I'm serving jury duty when my family comes in?  What if I'm involved in a long case after day?

I read the reasons you could write to the judge and none of them included my worries.

So....I headed off to Jury Orientation.  Maybe it was a good omen, because I got a parking spot right in front of the courthouse down town and I even had enough change for the meter.

I've never ever been on Jury I wasn't sure what to expect or even where to go.  I immediately teamed up with an older woman who had the same summons in her hand.  "Don't worry honey," she wheezed (she was very obese and unsteady on her feet), "we just go upstairs and sit in the courtroom today for orientation."

I have never been in our city's courthouse.  It has modern guts and old marble and wood bones.  It was comforting in the way old buildings can make you feel continuity in a community.  I handed in part of my summons to a woman so bored with her work, you almost felt sorry for bothering her.  Then, I followed a line of people into the courtroom.

The bailiff directed me to a row of seats.  When I hit the row, I paused, these are court seats??  It looked like row after row of seats had been pulled out of an high school auditorium.  I slid down the narrow aisle and took my place next to a young man.  He and the man next to him were complaining about the seats too.  They were wooden, narrow, and without a cushion.  We shrugged, perhaps the court system didn't really want people to be watching the trail for a long time because I'm sure after an hour in these chairs you'd be screaming out for mercy.

The room filled.  I was shocked the the whole courtroom filled up.  The bailiff, a rather handsome man, in a snug suit, started his spiel.  He was funny and repeated things at least 5 times.

"On Wednesdays, you will call the number at the top of the neon green sheet and hear a message from me. I will tell you if you are needed the next day for a trail."

"Does everyone understand that?"

"So on Wednesdays, you will call the number at the top of the neon green sheet and hear a message from me telling you whether or not you are needed for a trail the next day."

He changed the words just slightly but kept on repeating.

"Son on Wednesdays, you call in, use the number at the top of the green sheet and listen to a message from me telling you whether or not you are needed for a  trail the next day."

After the 5th time, I got it.  There was not way I was going to forget that on Wednesdays I needed to call in and see if I was needed for a trail the next day.

He gave other important instructions including one he said with an absolute deadpan place.  " You can ask me questions before or after a trail but do not ask me questions when I am escorting a man or woman in an orange suit with handcuffs."

"Again, don't ask me questions while I'm walking a man or woman down the hall in handcuffs and an orange suit."

"So you understand, don't stop and talk to me when I'm walking down the hall with a man or woman in an orange suit and handcuffs."

Okay, I will not ask questions when you're walking anyone around in handcuffs.

He must us laugh several times, telling us how lucky we were that the judge for this particular court was on vacation because his welcome speeches to potential jurors was known for it's length.

As he talked about some other details, I scanned the room.  Whatever computer program they had that picked juries was good, real good.  There was an amazing cross section of people from my city: old, young, black, white, oriental, students, businessmen, moms, professionally-dressed folks, t-shirts and jeans men and women.  For some reason, the diversity made me feel good.  Everyone was laughing at the same jokes and the crowd in general seemed to be in a pretty good mood.  The bailiff stressed how few days you really had to work in the next four months (no more than 10 days and you would be exempt for the rest of the time) and not to worry about parking-simple park at any meter and get a ticket-because the court would negate it.

He allowed a few minutes for questions but encouraged folks without any longer questions and eligibility problems to stay behind after we were excused.

I laughed at the first guy who asked a question.  White-haired, obviously retired, maybe late 60's, ironed shirt and looking like a very conservative guy.  "I have a question," he shouted.  "Will you ever call us? And if you do, what will it say on phone?  Because I have caller ID and I don't answer the phone, unless I know who it is and I'm not going to talk to you unless you tell me what your ID is."

Everyone chuckled.  It was so stereotypical this conservative looking guy sounding a bit paranoid and under no circumstances was he going to answer his phone unless you told him your handle because damn you could be a telemarketer.

The Bailiff chucked too.  " We NEVER call you."

By the end of the session, I wasn't as anxious as when I came in.  Unlike Court TV, most cases were over in a couple days, and the month long sequestration-type of case was more common on TV than in my city.

So I scheduled alerts on my computer and phone starting in September to remind myself to call in, because on Wednesdays I have to call the number at the top of the neon green sheet and see if the bailiff says he needs me the next day.

I repeat, on Wednesdays I will call the number.........

Monday, August 19, 2013

Two Months!!

OH MY GOSH.....I woke up this morning and looked at the calender and my heart jumped right up into my bat mitzvah is in TWO months!!!.    My friend and I have been studying for TWO years and now all of a sudden it's here.  

I know I am mostly ready but I get very anxious.  If the ceremony was in English (it's only half in English) it would be easy but even though I have been studying the prayers and my Torah portion in Hebrew for so long....when I get nervous....all of my Hebrew evaporates...just like that....poof!!!  

I can look down at the scroll or the prayer book and say to myself, "Who put those squiggles down on the paper?"  And Hebrew, like all Semitic languages, doesn't give you a lot of clues....if you look down at a French word....well you might be able to sound it out....but's just lines...beautiful lines...but there's not a hint lying in there.... on the rare occasion a letter MAY look similar to your familiar alphabet....but that's rare.  And when you read the Torah...all the vowels in the words are removed.  So if even if you have mastered some Hebrew when you read from the scroll you are reading words without vowels.  It's like reading a foreign text have to be familiar enough with your portion that your brain can insert the right vowels into the right word even if you don't see it.  Yikes!

I'm starting daily practice as of today and I have to post-it note my prayer book/siddur to open up to the right passages.   In essence when you have a bar or bat mitzvah (bar for boy; bat for girl) you are conducting the service and reading the Torah portion so there's more to do than just read off the scroll....your coordinating the whole service.  I'm glad I have a partner because we've split our responsibilities so I'm only conducting half the service.  Sometimes I wish there were a few more people with us!  But half is good....I do the first half of the service so if I get through that....I can sit in my chair and relax....sort

Tomorrow...I decide on my dresses (one for the Friday service which we have small responsibilities for) and one for Saturday.  I purchased a couple dresses online and they have been sitting in their boxes for a couple of weeks...I just wasn't ready to look at them and I have to be ready. Dang...I just realized I need shoes  Okay...tomorrow I try things on and get my outfit down so I don't have to worry.  Best make a checklist surprises for this event!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

So we built a wall, restored windows and put landscaping in our on Vacation......


Wall up on both sides.....left side done.

My daughter and son-in-law live in Ohio.....young...both working.  We helped them buy a cute cute little bungalow as their wedding present.  The wedding was small-the money saved went towards the purchase of the house.

The bungalow is about 60 years old....and had been owned by one couple. Although the house was painted inside before they purchased it.....remnants of sunny yellow and pink walls remain.  The bathroom tile and tub remains a deep pink....the kitchen counter top a rather funky speckled pink and tan.  The landscape hasn't been touched in years....the yews in the front of the house are as old as the house....and some of the wood around the windows inside and out needs to be replaced.   It's really in good shape for a home that age...but obviously was not updated by the previous owner.  It's in a great neighborhood and they bought the house during the recession so paid less than the appraisal for it.

So the house needs functions perfectly fine....but as you can image a pink pink bathroom or spotty landscaping needs to be addressed.  Since my hub and I have owned numerous homes in our life traveling around for work and education, we are pretty handy folks.  So each time we visit them.....we help them do a little work....a project or two.

Last time when we visited, we paid for a landscaper to make a plan for their yard.  No use spending money on plants or guessing what grows where especially since neither of them knows anything about gardening.  One of the crucial details for the remodeling of the outdoor landscape was the placement of a garden wall to stabilize the slope in front of their house and provide a planting bed for "easy" to grow plants.  

So I said to my handy husband, "Oh I bet you could be that're so good at things like hard can it be?  Besides I know they won't ever be able to afford putting in a wall for a while....if you did it....why we can help put in part of their landscaping."

To my surprise, my husband nodded.  I must be really convincing at on this visit to hub watched You Tube videos on wall building, read DYI on walls etc etc.  Being Mr. Math, he calculated the amount of stone....brought a few tools....and off we went.

Three tons of stone arrived the day after we got to Ohio.  It wasn't a very big pile....but the stones...whoa....each of them weighted about 80 or more pounds.  The crucial....absolutely....crucial point of any stone building projects is the first layer or has to be level...absolutely level or everything above is off ...forever.  Even I knew this point, after having watched enough History Channels specials on ancient architecture.  Those pyramids  would not be standing yet if the base was askew.

So the stones husband digs a small trench and the leveling begins.  Perhaps there is an easy way to level....but my hub certainly didn't find it.  The first stone on the slope...the key stone in the corner that everything else would be angled out from took him two hours to set.  Two hours to get it perfectly level....and to the correct depth because of the slope....and angled just right because of the driveway.  I was worried...we would only be here a week and at this rate.....things did not look good.  It happened to be a really hot and sunny we set a patio umbrella up in a stand near hand and my daughter went out to help him.  They groaned each time a rock had to be moved because of the weight.  By the end of the day hub had only about 6 stones placed on the base....and was a wreck....dripping with sweat...sunburned....and with a wild look of a man who was a little challenged by a project that may have been a bit over his head.  I suggested we call the landscape company to finish it....his eyes blazed....."No" his ego and manliness was involved.

The next day he and my daughter carefully placed more stones.  I was inside....restoring some of original wooden windows ...sanding...staining...and polyurethaning.  Slowly....little by little....the stones were placed and then I heard some shouts of joy as the first layer was absolutely stone mason level.  The rest of the wall was easy in comparison although not exactly quick work.  Stones had to be assessed for size and fit and color. Wall cracks had to be staggered.  They'd ask me to come out and assess the wall for aesthetic purposes.  I was booed....when I told them they had placed too many large stones together and had to add more stone length variety...and hence take apart a section.

4 days into the project the wall on the picture left side of the house was completed.  We shoveled a tone of dirt in....and with landscape plan in hand.....bought the plants needed to complete one section of landscaping.  Then my hub started on the other side of the house.  Because of the slope, and his recent experience, he finished the other side of the wall with my daughter in one day.  But we called it quits at that point.....our visit was ending....everyone was pooped and so the other half of the planting and yew chain-sawing will have to wait till our next visit.

We actually got to spend a day...vacationing....looking at antique shops in town and enjoying some meals out.  We marveled at all we had accomplished when we waved good-bye to the kids.  My hub did such a good job calculating that there was only one stone...about 18 inches long left over.   Out of three tons of was left.  Damn.....we need our own HGTV show!