What a paste of money and time. April 1

It's a reference to a line from 'Wonderful Town'. 20 points if you got it. Ok - so there is just so much crap going on that I'm pressed for time - and I just want to try and get it all covered for ya... so I may be a little speedy :) The carpet guys were installing on Tuesday - so Sunday and Monday were hardcore clock-ticking time. Basically every messy job had to be crossed off the list. At this point, unfortunately, were reaching lots of little technical things that are Pack Leader territory - but I tried my best to keep busy.

I got the bannisters painted and got the black caulk on them. baseboards-and-caulk.JPG

And Rich got the bannisters sprayed. We actually ran out of paint for them and didn't have the truck - but thank goodness the Pork Queen was goin' to Fort Wayne and saved our...yup...bacon.

And we got almost all the original doors painted black. They are all, as we've mentioned before, going to receive a major refinishing job...but for the Rotary we are just giving them a nice fresh coat. They'll get Extreme Makeover afterwords.

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Time to wallpaper. The Pack Leader beautifully cut luan panels for the wallpaper according to the plans I'd given him. The design of the panels changed from the original sketch because originally I had designed them about six feet tall and nine feet wide - larger than a piece of 4x8 anything. Which meant there would be a seam, and the seam would show through the wallpaper. That, plus the fact that I originally sketched 3 foot square mirrors and we could only find 2 foot square meant that we needed to slight retool of their look. Took a little headscratching, but we got there.

So the Pack Leader cut these panels, we got them primed and screwed into the wall. I thought the obvious route of least disaster would be to paper the panels before they were hung up - so no glue or anything would be in danger of getting on the walls... But, apparently it's a lot easier to hang wall paper vertically than horizontally - i guess gravity is a good thing. So Rich screwed the panels into place for us to start. It actually was a little bit of an issue how to hang them because the ceiling lines aren't completely level - so if you hang the panels level they don't LOOK level because the ceiling runs at a different angle. So it took some futzing. It also took some serious drill power - since that concrete is wicked tough - as you can see by what it did to one of our drill bits:

KILLER DRILLER drill-kill.JPG

So, while Larry and Rich worked on installing the sixteen hundred exit signs that go in the lobby, Margaret and I started to wallpapering. Originally this was gonna be a Janice job. All Janice all the time. But their schedule changed, so I was a little panicked about doing this for the first time. With this particular wallpaper. See this stuff was custom ordered from a place in LA called Bradbury and Bradbury that prints it for you to order. Which we didn't know... Art Deco wallpaper isn't easy to find, and we found this and liked it. And kind of gulped at the price - but went for it, since we weren't doing whole rooms or anything. I called them two weeks ago and said "can you rush it out to me?" And the nice lady said, "well I can have it to you in about three months." I nearly passed out. I didn't realize their stuff was all done to order. I explained our situation and she was sooooo cool and managed to get it to us in plenty of time. Snaps for the Brads.

So - I'm now faced with single handedly wallpapering this stuff by myself. Arghgh. Rich wanted nothing to do with this task, saying that he'd tried wallpaper before and he wasn't going to try it again. 911 PeGan call. Turns out Margaret had wallpapered a lot before. Color me shocked. So, we tackled it together. What Margaret neglected to tell me was that the worst knock-down, drag-out fight she and Larry have ever had was while wallpapering. Apparently wallpapering ain't exacty a kumbaya activity.

Ok. So if Hitler were alive today - I would make him wallpaper. OMG. How awful. Awful Awful. It's just so stressful. It's messy. And it's time sensitive. And you have to work fast. And it just is NOT SOMETHING THAT SUITS MY PERSONALITY. And it looks worse when it's wet...so we kept having conversations like this:

Jo jo: I think we should take that panel down. Madge: No. It's fine. Jo Jo: But there's a problem there. Madge: it'll be fine. Leave it. Jo Jo: I don't think we should leave it. Madge: We should leave it.

"THIS PAPER ISN'T THE ONLY THING AROUND HERE I'M GONNA HANG". wallpaper.JPG

I was wiggin'. See this stuff wasn't even anything like Margaret had worked with before either. Because it's all hand-made by blind nuns and stuff, they don't CUT it for you. I don't mean at the top and bottom. I mean they don't cut the sides where the pattern is supposed to match. And it's not even an overlap pattern - it has to butt up against the other piece. Which means you have to HAND CUT two edges perfectly to match - or you'll see gaps between them. Aaaaaaa. We finally developed a system where we would line them up on top of one another, cut them both at the same time, and that way achieve a matching cut. Another thing that was awful was that the hand-made aspect of it means it's not PERFECT wallpaper... so in a couple places I was totally convinced we'd made a mistake that we had to tear down and start again - Margaret was convinced it wasn't our fault - and it wasn't until we had the exact same problem an hour later that we figured it that it WAS the paper not us making the error. Well, somehow, for some reason Margaret seems to like me. Dunno why. But seriously - if you even wallpaper, I suggest a Prozac IV drip for about an hour beforehand.

Luckily the glue was not all that messy on the walls, and wiped off just fine with no residue. And, after all my panic, and the stuff drying (it kind of shrinks tighter - so places where you think it's a little lumpy actually smooth down), it looks really fantastic. I can't wait for the panels to be framed and get the mirrors - cuz they are going to really look sexy.

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Apparently, Larry well versed in the volatile chemical nature of wallpaper glue upon human sanity, kept Rich well, well, well away from any action. Every so often they'd pop their heads up from the basement and say: "oh, yup, this here's gonna take another couple hours..." When in fact they had just built a bunker until the storm passed. Turns out that while hiding, they did manage to do a phenomenal job wiring up dimmers for the inner lobby chandeliers and fan lights...

THE LIGHT IS GROWING DIMMER... I THINK I SEE A GLIMMER larry-dimmerjpg.jpg

After the stuff was up, though, they resurfaced and started wiring and installing the newly refinished palms... The method of illumination they chose was Christmas lights, with which at first I was not thrilled (Christmas lights are just one of those things that always have a certain cheezy connotation when used theatrically)...BUT I was totally wrong. They have them all concealed and they give these things a beautiful soft glow that is just gorgeous. So... jojo wrong wrong.

PALM READER fan-light.JPG

I'M FROND OF THESE LIGHTS

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And thus - by the end of the evening, things were looking not too shabby:

palm-and-paper.JPG

While Margaret and I were pasting ourselves into insanity, Rich and Larry had also tackled the great mirror hole challenge. See, each side of those wallpaper panels is supposed to have a square mirror hanging at a 45 degree angle (more diamonds) with a sconce in the middle each mirror. Lovely. Gorgeous. Very nice. But. In order to get something electrical to be electrified you have to run these things to it called...wires. Which means the mirror has to have a hole in the middle of it, which will be concealed by the mirror. This proved quite the challenge. Home Depot, who DOES cut mirror and glass will NOT cut holes in it. In fact they tell you it probably won't come out well. Rich found a circle cutting glass scorer which he thought would work, and he and Larry did practice runs on a bunch of the icky square mirror tiles that are currently in the women's bathroom...to no avail. It cuts a nice circle - and if you could whack away the outside of the mirror you'd be left with a pretty round shaped mirror. But to whack the inside (to get a doughnut type hole) - everything cracks along with it. (For some reason tile nippers are the same way - you can cut away the outside shapes...but sometimes cutting an inside shape just ain't gonna happen.)

Finally Margaret and Larry realized that they have (big surprise) a relative who might be able to help us out. In fact, Alane (Luke, the tenderloin poster child's mom) is married to a guy who they thought could help us. So, before they left that night Margaret and Larry absconded with the mirrors and a traditional PeGan "Leave it to us". Next morning. Six mirrors. Perfect holes. I mean PERFECT. Like factory smooth - perfect center - you can run your finger along it and not get cut. It's amazing. Apparently they have this water jet cutting thing that is used to cut steel. It's like a water pik of death... And this thing shoots water at like 5,000 pounds of pressure and cuts through anything. Fruitcake even. And it worked. So we need to say another huge ginormous Eckert thank you.

Margaret and Larry worked really late helping us get everything ready in anticipation for Monday. Poor Madge has a stiff neck now - either from all the painting at weird angles or from clenching her teeth so hard while I was wallpapering :)

We were actually doing pretty well. All the paint was finished. Rich had installed almost all the fixtures (there are still a couple of them left - but no biggy). In fact, it even reached the moment to take down the PeGan scaffolding upon which I felt like I'd lived for the past two months. I was actually pretty darn sad taking it down - if I'd had to do all that work on a ladder...well...I would have gone nertz.

I'D BE BAFFLED WITHOUT THIS SCAFFOLD goodbye-scaffold.JPG

And - by the time Monday night came... we were just about ready. Just about.

At eleven o clock on Monday evening we began mixing the crap for floor leveling. Before you lay down carpet (especially commercial carpet without a pad) you have to make sure that the floor is pretty level, because otherwise the carpet will show the divots and lines and bumps. So. When we got the carpet estimate, Scott - the incredibly nice guy at Caroll Furniture - said we could do it ourselves and save some money. Pack Leader like. Makes sense. Heck - we learned to do everything else right? So - we had to get this done for 10:30 in the morning Tuesday. It was left till last because it's tough to keep working in a space when you have wet concrete goo drying on the floor in patches everywhere... and apparently it was quick-drying stuff, so it wasn't like it had to cure for two days. So Monday night. Fine. Not fine. Rich started mixing this stuff. We thought it would be like concrete. Which he had done with Larry. We had a five gallon bucket, and water, and the powder - and just like the instructions said we mixed it in the bucket.

Total disaster. I have not seen anything up till now kick the Pack Leader's ass. This was not good. This was like the Floor Leveler (called, hyserically 'Dependable') was Mike Tyson, and Rich was Dakota Fanning. It did not go well. This stuff was much more like plaster of paris than concrete. I HATE working with plaster of paris - Margaret is great at it - but I find that the minute I get it the right consistency it's already dried rock hard. Rich tried making it watery - not good. He tried mixing it so that it was like oatmeal - and we could hardly get it smooth (ish) on the floor. It was lumpy... and bumpy and not helping level that much. He tried making it thicker and it dried up the bucket rendering it impossible to mix anything else in it.

The Pack Leader almost resigned from the Pack. He almost Pack-Leadered his bags and moved to Topeka. Basically Dependable whooped his butt. He got so frustrated and tired that he went upstairs. I just sat there looking at the stuff for like a minute, and figured I couldn't do worse. I got lucky. I realized the stuff was very much like mixing the tile mortar - and it's easier to work wetter and gradually add the powder in the bucket. I still had a heck of a time... and it wasn't looking pretty...but I managed to get the worst spots done. Lumpy...but done. And, when Rich came back downstairs, we agreed that it was a lot flatter than before we started. There were still problem spots, but we had handled the worst, and we just had to hope for the best in the morning. So, for once, the Jo Jo saved the day. A little.

And then... the big day arrived:

WE'RE ON A ROLL carpet-arrives.JPG

I know you wanna see....well you just have to wait. Blog can't be too long, remember, the natives get restless.

xo jojo.