Sucky truck luck. March 30. 08

The Najuch truck. It ain't happy. Friday morning Rich and Bob got up early to load piles of the stuff from the boiler to take it to the scrap yard. It wouldn't start. Of course, even though Rich's only contact with the vehicle in the past six months had been, in that moment to turn the ignition...Rich clearly was at fault :) So - as we continued working away, Janice was dealing with Triple AAA and getting the car picked up. Thanks to the Nick's Kitchen network we were able to determine which mechanic to go to. Turns out it was a starter motor. Couple hours later, the truck was back and happy as a clam. Stay tuned. When the scrap yard trips were renewed, however, the 3000 lbs (not making this up) of stuff they had hauled out yielded us a $200 profit. Cash for trash people... ya can't beat it. Although since they weight the stuff in pounds, I think they should PAY you in Pounds (Sterling) which would give you a much nicer profit margin. Once Triple A arrived, Janice and I were sent out on a reconnaissance mission to Lafayette. Where is Lafayette, you ask. 'I don't have a clue' is my answer. It's like two hours away. Anyway - Rich had ebayed a good deal on an approved kitchen triple sink which we are going to want eventually when we turn the managers office into a catering space. So Janice and I headed out to pick up that fella with the help of Carmen the Garmin. We got the sink, no problem, and then on our way back started jumping around fabric stores along the route looking for the remaining fabric needed for the extra chairs we purchased (we never originally planned on having fifty seats in the lobby. We now have forty four that match (enough for rotary) and figure ebay will yield another six before July). Also we were scouting for fabric for the shades that margaret is going to make for the exterior doors - since when there are events and things, we don't want people peeking at the actors like urchins in Christmas Carol, ogling a giant goose. Although, if they wanted to purchase a discount standing-room-ogling ticket, I think something could be arranged. Anyway - we looked through several stores, with Janice yanking me away from the fabrics out the Pack Leader designated price range, and we actually came up trumps... We found a really nice brown fabric with a woven diamond pattern in the same thread that has gold accents - very simple but classy and looks great with the other chair fabric we already have. AND we found a fabric we really liked for the shades. I was nervous to just buy it without Pack Leader input (cuz y'all know how we agree about EVERYTHING), so we bought a half yard of each. We figured a swatch was too small for Margaret to tell if the fabrics would work for the shades etc. Well, we got home and everyone loved the fabrics - so here they are. It's tough to tell the detail on the brown one - but trust me - there's a diamond pattern there.

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By the time we returned Larry and Margaret were there already working away. Rich and Larry started working through the maze of wire that had to be replaced for all the exit signs and emergency lights (which Larry has now ingenously hooked up to some battery back up system so that if the power goes those lights stay lit). I particularly enjoy that the wires are run in groups of red white and green... perhaps the wire was left over from an Olive Garden install?

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Margaret on her ownsome had already managed to get one side of the balcony staircase painted. She had extra motivation though - it was her favorite brown. Originally this area wasn't going to get painted before the Rotary event, but because some of the wall had been stripped down revealing icky blue paint it needed to be covered somehow. But, much more importantly, the ceilings were so high and it's such a tricky job that we figured it was a whole lot smarter to paint those areas BEFORE carpet was installed. Janice jumped into the mix, and between the two of them, in a couple of hours they had managed to get two coats on both staircases...

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In order to reach that whole wall they had to kind of maneuver from below and above as you can see... Twister with paint. But it looked great by the time they were done.

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Plus they also did the funky little curved shelves that overhang the staircase as you're descending.

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Once that was done, though, there was still the little shelf ceiling at the top and another piece which curved up into the balcony on the left side staircase (the right one is a different configuration and a lot easier. We didn't want all the walls to be the same color, but instead I was hoping we could get each one to be a different tone of the browns from the ceiling diamonds. Which meant somehow painting detail like sixteen feet in the air. On a staircase. A curved staircase. So i asked Bob if he could whip me up a little platform thing the next day that would sit on one set of stairs with sheet of plywood bridging to the next step, so I could get the ladder on there. Bob doesn't like to wait. Bob likes to get things DONE. So... Bob takes two stacks of four 2x4s. Sits them on one step next to each other. These 2x4s are NOT screwed to each other or to anything else. He THEN takes a piece of plywood and sits it on it. Just resting. Not screwed. No glue. No spit. No peanut butter. Next he takes the twelve foot ladder and a remnant piece of styrofoam from the inside of a light fixture packing box. He smooshes the foam to the top of the ladder to prevent the ladder scratching the new paint. He insists that no one else climb up this apparatus. (whew). Instead we coral Margaret, Janice and I. Madge and I are in charge of holding on to the ladder, the plywood and the two by four. Janice is in charge of putting paint on the brush. And then Bob proceeds to paint the corner detail where our roller couldn't reach.

DESPITE HOW HIGH HE GETS, YOU HAVE TO WONDER IF HIS LADDER MIGHT BE MISSING A FEW RUNGS. ladder-insanity.JPG

While Janice and Margaret had been working on the walls I was trying to get the baseboards finished up. Doing the baseboards makes me very nervous, because I don't want to get paint on the walls I already painted. This is a job which I had very much hoped would fall to the Pack Leader - but he has too much stuff on his list, so I sucked it up and went for it. I stayed away from the gold walls all together. I had limits to my bravery - but started to paint all the baseboards that run up the stairs to the balcony (yes, dodging between Margaret and Janice like a scuttling little insect). Part of the challenge is there's very little light that reaches those stairs (something we'll address when the balcony opens). It's just hard to see what you're doing - so you end up carrying a utility light around like that dude at the Haunted Mansion.

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I managed to at least get a pretty solid first coat on them. For the top of the baseboards there was NO WAY I was gonna risk the wrath of the Jan-Jan by sullying her newly painted brown staircase wall. So I did all the tops of the moulding with a teeny tiny little square edge brush. Kind of like cleaning Madison Square Garden with a toothbrush. But it worked, and I was accurate. So there. I also forgot to tell you that the night before I had rolled around on the scaffolding with a tiny paintbrush fixing any uneven spots in the ceiling diamonds - which was a pain in the butt. But it was important. There were just some areas where two coats hadn't been quite enough and sometimes the masking tape had lifted a little bit of the paint off while masking the diamond lines. All fixed. All good.

By the end of the evening almost all the major painting had been done... and we were rapidly checking off messy pre-carpet jobs. It was late at night before we knew it... and none of us had managed to get dinner. So, just like the old pre-kitchen days, we dragged a couple of the cafe tables into the lobby and Janice warmed up some wicked awesome 'beef' stroganoff which Bob had whipped up back in Ohio for us. Every time Bob makes anything with the word 'beef' in the title, chances are that beef is actually spelled 'bambi'. But, even I had to admit this stuff was great. So, with the men folk enjoying a few Coors, yummy food, and the radio playing in the background, Janice proclaimed it our very first 'supper club'. Next time we'll try to take it up a notch :)

Next morning the Najuch's went on a supplies trip to Fort Wayne. I slept in a little and then, while they were gone, tackled those remaining tricky ceiling areas at the top of the lobby staircase. I did pretty well with the roller on the pole. Ok, let me rephrase that...WITHOUT valuable carpet beneath me while I was using the pole, I did really well. IF THERE HAD BEEN new carpet beneath me and I'd been doing this, I think I would be writing to you from beyond the grave. Cuz it was a little drippy. But that's why we did it now. :) Then I took said pole, and duct taped a brush to the end and verrrry slowly and verrrryyy carefully did the edges. It was a little nervewracking - but if you use the traction of the brush pushing along the wall and then move slowly, it ain't so bad. So, two coats, roller roller, brush on pole. Very nice. Go jo jo. The fact that these pictures aren't super clear...because the flash couldn't travel that far... shows you HOW HIGH UP these suckers go.

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And then, when Bob was gonna run and get some more supplies, the truck died again. Apparently NOT the starter motor. Not working. Not good...since Bob had to be at work the next day. Eek. Call AAA, new mechanic, new tsuris. Oy. The car was not going to be back until at least Monday, which meant Mr. Sparkle was going to Ohio. Waaaaahhhhh. Alas, alack. Janice now isn't sure when she'll be able to get back to our neck of the woods, so right now were vehicle-less. And when we do get Bob's car I'm not sure I'm brave enough to drive it. So Rich is gonna be solo pilot for the next week probably.

Also on my list of little goofy tasks - cleaning out the pinholes in the palms. Larry, it seems, got tired of having giantic metal palm fronds in his workshop (heaven knows why) so he did us the favor of sandblasting the last couple pieces which Rich hadn't managed to get to the last time (in Arctic weather, remember?). Well, they look great - here's one newly refinished:

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And it now fell to the Jo Jo to drill the pin holes clear of paint. There are, cuz I counted today, 445 pin holes per palm. Four palms. Plus the pots which probably have another hundred holes each. That's more holes than you find at Krispy Kreme.

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Last big task before Bob and Janice had to depart (and kidnap Mr. Sparkle) was the Pack Leader's installation of the new ceiling fan we have for the inner lobby.

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This thing is now officially the sexiest thing I've ever seen. And I've seen Jake Gyllenhaal right outside my NY apt in bike shorts. This thing is soooo pretty. So pretty in fact that I am lobbying heavily for us to have one in the outer lobby as well. Not only does it look great with the other fixtures, but it really gives the room a great focal point. So I'm sure I won't get a twin for it until after the Rotary, but I think that the need for added air circulation will probably prevent me from having to beg too much. And, I've already successfully won the Pegan lobby on the subject... and heck - that's like having twelve superdelates and the Pope on your side. I will say, this picture does NOT do it justice. I'm finding the light fixtures really hard to get good pictures of. So sorry.

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So then, with the fan and chandeliers in, the alcove painted, the walls brown and the old carpet ripped off the steps - here's where things stood by Saturday evening.

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With Larry, Margaret, Bob and Janice here, plus us - all making noise and chattering downstairs, somebody was feeling very left out of the action. She was peeved and took to her bed. Our bed.

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We have still done piles more crap even over the past two days... so I'll have to keep plugging away. Good lord - when we can't leave the house it's amazing what you get done!

xo jojo.