Milestones: Does the concept of Project Management Exist in Israel?

When do I stop being considered new? Probably never. Our cousin Yossi, the tour guide says that to be considered old in Israel, something has to be at least 200 years old.

My Chelm blog is already 6 months old & it’s nearly a year from when our lift arrived. E-gads! We are still staring at boxes that are right where the movers left them. Other boxes have had the honor of being moved at least, and are organized and stacked by the contents, but in a place where cupboards and closets don’t come with the house, what’s a pair of packrats to do?

I started with those XL plastic shelves, in boring grey and discovered that the insides are swappable between shelves & closets, if you can get Keter to sell you the innards separately, but these are not things one really wants to stare at in the living room forever. We still have one in the kitchen for food, and one is my tool shed. Two others are serving quite nicely for his and hers matching clothes closets.

The time has come to build in real shelving, but who has time in between writing about Chelm, sending out more resumes and finishing the part time projects that have found their way to me. I had hoped to get more unpacked during a year that I could not work on the yard anyway, but each week brings new distractions and projects that somehow manage to fill the time until its Thursday, too late in the week to start a major project before Shabbat. So far I built 7 bookshelves in the living room, and unless I dump the couch, we are running out of wall space. I still have a least 3 more to build, but I have to figure out where they go first.

We did manage to get our gas balloons re-installed outside of our yard instead of right outside the front door. That was a “3 days of work” project that ended up taking over 3 weeks. G-d forbid the guy doing the new gas lines would work at the same time as the guy building the “kluv” by hand. Oh, Eli came by each day to check on the progress, as he was the “boss”, but the only thing that kept the project from going longer is that I finally pulled out my acting skills & played the part of the “frustrated wife with brand new appliances & no kitchen to cook in” act, laying it on pretty thick.

After 3+ weeks, of being “Miss Congeniality”, I finally pretended to blow a gasket at Eli, and asked him “How much longer are you going to make me wait to use my kitchen??”

Good ol’ guilt. We first called him before Rosh Hashanah & he said to call after, which we did. After a few days of telephone tag, it was already after Yom HaKippur and he said “I don’t work on Chol HaMoed unless it’s an emergency.” Having clearly lived 3 weeks this way before locating him, it was not a true emergency, but the fun of camping out in our new home was rapidly wearing off.

Finally, the 3 day (did I say week or month?) cage project began, on a Thursday, naturally. All they did was bring tools & “some” of the supplies, promising the rest on Sunday, of course. Sunday no one showed up at all, boss or worker. Monday at noon we called: no answer. Tuesday we finally reached the boss: “What? He’s not there? I’ll go by his house tonight, as he does not answer his cell phone. Wednesday at 2pm the “worker” walked by our house, on the way home from another project, claiming as he only worked for Eli on Thursdays.

You have to understand me. When I cook, it’s with a book in one hand and a measuring spoon in the other. If there’s no recipe to follow on the package I have no idea how long to let it cook. Rice and couscous are interchangeable foods as far as I am concerned. I’ve never tried to simmer couscous for 40 minutes, but I know that rice is not very good if you just pour boiling water on it. Scrubbing pots after I cook is a major chore, as something always chars itself onto the bottom of the pot. This never happens when my husband cooks.

So, here I am, Miss Chemist/Professor Bunson Honeydew in the kitchen, pretending to be pining away for my long lost kitchen: No new gas line = no new gas balloons. No gas balloons, no stove. No stove, no cooked food. No cooked food = unhappy husband. Unhappy husband = unhappy wife. Unhappy wife = even unhappier husband who wants to fire the worker that made this whole loony cycle start in the first place. If the worker gets fired, then the boss has to finish the work. The boss doesn’t want to finish the work because he’s 55+ and has a bad back.

You see where this is going. The only reason I did not do the work in the first place is because of local politics. The work needs an inspection by the gas company. If they don’t like whoever did the work, then you’ll never get an approval. Eli used to do this sort of work for the gas company, so they don’t bother sending anyone to inspect his work. At least, that’s what we were told by the person who gave us his name, and recommended him highly. In the end that was the case.

After 3 weeks of no-shows, stories and live entertainment, but still no new gas line, my husband said that the boss fellow is better than television. Eli told wild stories about the various wars (History Channel) and secret operations he was part of. He ate the funny little purple balls off of our Safafa? Tree & taught us how to eat a sabra using only a pliers and a screwdriver (Nature Channel). The truth was, I was sort of sad that we could not continue having his stories, but we were spending a fortune (relative to home cooking) eating dinner out everyday, and the stove installer was also the fridge and washing machine and dryer installer. This meant that not only were we waiting for gas for cooking, but we were also doing all of our laundry by hand.

The laundry part was not so bad, as clothes dry almost instantly in the hot sun. What we were really missing was the refrigerator. It was 220V, but had a European “Smiley Face” plug rather than the Israeli plug. When we bought all the appliances with the Israeli installation/service package, we were warned to leave everything in the boxes for the installer to see that no one had tampered with them. We spent over a week just getting through to someone for the OK from them to use the fridge with an adapter until they got here. Naturally when the installer arrived, he asked why they were still in the boxes.

A few days after my “poor wife” imitation, Eli managed to figure out where his “” had disappeared to and finished the job a day or two later. We finally called the appliance installer/service contractor to hook up our stove and change the plugs on our appliances. Life actually started to feel normal once we were able to cook in our own kitchen, but we missed the entertainment.

So when we needed help dealing with our roof leak, my husband called Eli, who knows two brothers who can do it by hand for much less than a contractor would charge. The only question is will they finish before it rains or not?