yak shaving: Any apparently useless activity which, by allowing you to overcome intermediate difficulties, allows you to solve a larger problem.
This whole van conversion project is a series of small yak shaving projects wrapped up in one big giant yak. Well heck, life is one big yak shaving party. At least, it has been for me so far.
Saturday’s yak shaving project was cleaning up the garage so that I have a place to work over the next few days.
The garage is my dad’s territory. When I was a kid he used to spend hours and hours out there fixing things and working on the car. Sorting through all of his old tools I teared up a few times as I realized that he would never again tinker with them like he used to. Part of me didn’t want to touch anything. The old familiar beat-up cardboard box that held his hand saws had always held his hand saws. The shelf that held his screwdrivers had always been the screwdriver shelf. Nails were kept in the nail box. Hardware was in the hardware box. I yearned to preserve the garage the way he left it (before handymen and gardeners piled miscellaneous stuff everywhere), just so that he wouldn’t be forgotten.
But the realistic side of me knew that if Dad was still lucid, he’d want to help me build Gypsy any way he could. He would’ve bought me all the best tools, and shown me how to use them. He would’ve gone to the lumber yard with me. He would have helped me draw electrical wiring diagrams and pick out plumbing hardware. And he would’ve helped me clean up and reorganize the garage. So I did it anyway, missing him terribly with every tool I picked up.
As an aside, I remember the last project that he and I did together. It was a few years ago. Mom wanted new fluorescent overhead lights, so Dad and I put them up together. The dementia had already started, but it wasn’t very apparent yet. He was still talking and interacting almost like normal, but he couldn’t reason or follow instructions very well. He couldn’t really do much besides help me move the ladder and hold it steady while I climbed around, but he was really happy to do it. When we finished we gave each other high fives and congratulated ourselves on a job well done. What I wouldn’t give to have one more day like that with him.
So the garage is now organized and ready to be used, but I chose to spend the rest of my weekend socializing and working. After a lovely brunch with Jef, his sister, and her boyfriend, Jef and I strolled down Fourth Street in Berkeley and gazed around as we soaked up the sun. Just a couple blocks from the overpriced furniture shops we found an old boarded-up house with a curious message written on it:
Immediately next to it was an equally interesting house clad in corrugated steel:
I wonder what this guy must have been thinking when he decided to do this. Did he simply get a really good price on corrugated steel? Does he have an irrational affinity for the color grey? Am I sexist in assuming that this was a man’s idea and not a woman’s? Does it echo like crazy when it rains? So many questions.
I’m probably jinxing myself by saying this once again, but I think work might slow down this week. Which means … van time! With the garage neatly organized, dad’s tools at the ready (thanks, Dad!), Jef’s hands available, and a pile of wood nearby, the potential to make a sizable amount of progress looms. I’m crossing my fingers. Sake’s crossing her paws. The yak is crossing his hooves.