Blurg.

That's the only word Rich and I can come up with to describe life since you and I last spoke.How are things? Blurg.

I just looked through the pictures from the last week and a half and looked at everything that's gone on - and it's like more stuff that previously got accomplished in my life in a year. Sorry I haven't written - but it's been busy. Not like 'oooo it's so nice to be stimulated busy'. More like "I'm about to go crazier than a production of Three Sisters starring Anne Heche, Betty Buckley and Vanessa Redgrave". And that people is some big-time crazy.

I have no idea how we got the house done. Seriously. By all actual laws of the space time continuum there is no way it makes any sense. There was actually only one point in the entire process where Rich and I started screaming at each other at 2:00 am in the middle of Peckerwood like we were doing "Virginia Woolf" which honestly - considering the pressure - was not all that bad.

The real problem was the word 'yes'. "Yes' caused some seriously deep doodoo and late nights. The Pack Leader has a very hard time with the opposite of the word yes. Just like Ado Annnie - he cain't say no. And with good reason, I admit. The things he said yes to are important. They brought in a little bit of money (not heaps....but everything helps) - got people in the building... generated buzz. And WHEN he said yes to them, we hadn't added eight zillion extra shows and thought we had plenty of time to get everything ready - so it wasn't so much of a concern. What IS now a concern was having enough hours - or even seconds - in the day to get everything done. And the events take time. Prep time... serving time...speech time..cleanup time. Time time time...arhgghghhgaaaaaa. Blurg.

Since I last blogged we've had like four major events at the theatre. FOUR. Which really isn't an insane amount if all you have to do is have events. But if you're trying to, y'know BUILD A HOUSE, it's a juggling act :) Things started getting so tight, for the first time we started taking the stuff in shifts. I'll explain in a minute.

So - Peckerwood. I now adore this house. It's cute and homey and it makes me feel good everytime I walk into and the actors have a happy nest and they really appreciate everything we've done for them to make it clean and pleasant to live in. Last week however. I did not love Peckerwood. I actually probably preferred Auschwitz as a time-share option. This house just did NOT want to CO-OPERATE. This house was like a person on Extreme Makeover who had to be strapped down, sedated and whacked over the head with a frying pan before they could get their face lift. Normally I worry the Pack Leader is overly optimistic about how much we can accomplish. In reality we probably get things done about twenty five percent to fifty percent slower than he hopes. Because these buildings are old - and they don't do what you want them too, and they surprise you. THIS building didn't only surprise us... it took glee in screwing with us. Every three seconds it seemed like something that should take an hour turned into a day long question mark. It was not funny. Like 'Ishtar' not funny.

I actually worked my butt off. And I never say that. But I was hustling booty. Because Rich was so tangled in things that only he could do (like plumbing and electrical stuff) then kept going wrong and wronger (just because it's an old evil house holding a grudge) there was stuff on his list that just wasn't going to happen if I didn't do it. And hence, the Jo Jo was forced to use a whole lot more power-toolage than normally falls into his purvue. Of course, as you feel the pressure of time, and you feel the lack of sleep it also gets harder not to make mistakes. I got really peeved at myself when I cut the only piece of kitchen paneling we had PERFECTLY but completely in reverse of what it was supposed to be - which meant having to go BACK to Fort Wayne. In fact - the lack of available time even meant that I had to get over my fear of solo long distance driving and for the first time I went to Fort Wayne BY MYSELF. Without the GPS I would be in Alaska by now...but I did ok. I just have to stop gripping the steering wheel so tight when I'm on divided highways that the blood in my arms stops circulating. And yes, at one point I did turn the wrong way onto a divided highway and realize that I was the only one going a certain direction of three lanes of traffic. See the GPS tells you if you're gong the right direction... it doesn't tell you're going the right direction in the right LANE. Luckily I managed to get the Pack Leader on the phone during the emergency. His advice was spectacular: "you need to be going the other direction". Big help.

Around this time we had what might actually be classified as our first failure. It's not really a failure. It's just not a success. Part of this, again, is simply due to being overly tired and overly pressed for time. The kitchen ceilnig at Peckerwood did not work according to plan. The ceiling looked like this:

kitchen-ceiling-before.JPG

You will now note, that since Katie's mom has ALREADY let her get on the plane, I am now posting picture of the house that shows how gross it really was. I mean, I wasn't WITHHOLDING visual information - I was just...um... carefully filtering the photographic information disseminated. :) Anyway. The ceiling in there was a pain in the keester. Those rafters would be a beeeeyatch to pull down, but they also weren't really sturdy enough to hold up drywall. So we had this idea. Not a bad idea, at that. Plain panelling. The same stuff as we used to make the wipe off board in our kitchen. It's light weight. It's a smooth surface. It's paintable. So we figured we could screw it to the rafters then mud the seams and paint.

Not so much.

Ok - it WOULD have worked. I think. But the Pack Leader was running on fumes... and he wasn't at his best. And he did it while I wasn't at the house for an intervention. What he didn't do was cut the panelling so that every edge fell against one of those ceiling joists. If this was drywall it wouldn't have mattered quite as much (it would have been the wrong way to do it and Bob would have called us morons...but it wouldn't be the end of the world). Because drywall is pretty rigid. Hence the word 'wall' in its name. Panelling is not rigid. It's floppy. Quite floppy in fact. In the world of wall coverings, panelling needs viagra. And because its floppy - if you don't have something to screw it's edges to, and it's hanging at the side where you can't screw it to anything....it droops. And that's what happened. Our ceiling was a little droopy.

kitchen-ceiling.JPG

I still mudded the seams...which because the panelling has more give, didn't go that well either (it cracked in a lot of places). It wasn't great. I was bummed. Rich was bummed. But our options were limited. We didn't have time to rip the rafters down and go up to the actual ceiling where we MIGHT be able to attach drywall. And if we took down all the panelling and tried the same thing again - but cutting it to align - then it still might be droopy. So, for the first time we had to let something go. We didn't know whether trying to texture it would make it worse... or whether the added moisture would be a disaster. So we decided to let it be. It would get sprayed along with everything else - and it would be new, and clean, and safe. And that was a big improvement from what it was before. When the actors are gone in August and we start in on the second floor of the house, we'll take that ceiling down and do it again. But for now... if we'd gotten sucked into the black hole of fixing it, they would have a nice ceiling and the rest of the house would still be a wreck. it was the right decision - and I don't think the ceiling is keeping them up at nights. Xbox is.

Moving right along... I got the last big drywall project dealt with. The hallway had a giant hole in it... so the best solution was to drywall the whole hall up to the arch leading to the porch.

big-hole8.JPG

We had to decide at this point whether we were going to put the door into that wall immediately - or if that could wait. Because we only needed two bedrooms this summer, we decide that we didn't need to build the wall plug and door frame right now... so I only needed to drywall half way down the hallway run.

hallway-sheetrock.JPG

I learned a tricky lesson with this stuff. I thought that using 10 foot drywall would make this a whole lot quicker, since the ceiling was nine feet - and it would mean I wouldn't have to jigsaw puzzle two pieces together to make the height. And it would mean fewer seams to tape and mud. Now this was true. And it was faster. BUT the trade off is that my T square is four feet long. With 8 foot drywall I can do half from one side, flip the T square to the next edge and meet up the lines at the center. With a ten foot run it's not easy to cut a perfectly straight line because I can't but my T square against the edge and use it for leverage. At some point I'm trying to hold the metal ruler in the center of the drywall with my knees and cutting at the same time. And it's tough to keep everything from shifting around. Grrr. It's tough to be the Jo Jo.

Around this time we had the Siots. No, that is not a disease related to Shingles. Siots is the 'pet name' for the Psi Iota Xi Sorority. And I know we've discussed this before - but I'll recap. Apparently in the Midwest, sororities are not only in college. In Hoosier-land there are a gaggle of sororities for adult women... and I don't think wet t shirt contests or keggers enter into the equation. Much. They're a social group that get together and raise money for charities and make cheese balls. The cheese balls are a very large part of the equation. if you think the girl scouts have the cookie racquet sewn up... they don't even hold a candle to the Siots and the cheeseball monopoly. In fact I think it's against the law to buy Velveeta and cream cheese in the same shopping cart within the Indiana state line if you are NOT a Siot. Actually they make the cheeseballs in such gigantic batches - like forty dozen at a time - and the recipe is kept secret (so I understand) because no one works on more than one stage of the process at a time. it's like a terrorist cell for cheese - you only know YOU'RE part of the equation so that no other sorority can torture you for the recipe secret.

Anyway. The Siots were coming to us. Actually they were coming twice. One night we had the active Siots. And two days later we had the retired Siots. (I think when they retire they use that ray gun in Men In Black and erase any memory of cheese ball preparation). Their even happened to coincide with the point where we had to...HAD to... get the house primed. If we didn't get the house primed, we couldn't the walls textured. Then we couldn't get it painted. Then we couldn't carpet. Then they arrived and we were screwed. The day of the Siots was the day that if priming didn't happen we were just not gonna make it in time. Janice had arrived the night before, and we spent the morning taping and masking everything... with the help of some Eckert elves that dropped by.

pegans.JPG

Please note in this picture that Gretchen has apparently been overcome by her fathers genetic makeup and is unable to be photographed without evaporating.

While the place was getting masked I finished up facing the new little living room closet which Rich had reduced down. It houses the water heater and

As we were taping and masking with eighty feet of big lots plastic we hit another snag. The living room cieilng. Most of this house has this bizarre plaster paper over all the walls. It's like this stuff that used to put on houses like giant pieces of masking tape to make sure it didn't fall apart. Well, it covered flaws at least. Rather than replaster a wall with damage or whatever they would use this stuff and it's kind of like thick plain white wallpaper. Anyway. On the cieling this stuff was peeling. And we couldn't prime the cieling if it was peeling. So I started scraping. But like everything in our life - once you stick your finger in the damn. ..the crack just gets bigger. The peel revealed about three layers of wallpaper beneath. The last layer, a lovely forest green, seemed pretty darn well stuck to the cieling - so as long as we scraped down to that I figured we'd be ok. Gretchen got in on the act and helped out bigtime.

gretchen-scraping.JPG

Gretchen was peeved at me for taking a picture of her 'pits'. I thought that we should just have her stay there for the next eight weeks so every time the actors came home they could be distracted by her arm pits and wouldn't notice their house was a construction zone :) Anyway - we peeled down to the green. Then it was time to spray the place top to bottom with primer.

Or at least that was the idea.

If the sprayer worked. Which it didn't. No air pressure coming through the hose. Lots of pressure on EVERYBODY else EXCEPT the hose. Blurg. This was not good. Like I said - no hose - no prime. No prime, no paint...etc etc etc. It seemed like something must be gunked up inside the sprayer which was truly upsetting to contemplate because the thing is not a cheap piece of equipment AND we'd been super careful to make sure the thing was always cleaned out carefully after use. And of course there's only so much we could tinker with it at the house because we didn't have any running water yet. So Rich dragged the thing back to the theatre and started trying to troubleshoot it - running water through it with the hose... burning insense...doing a rain dance. Nothing. Finally we took off a ITSY BITSY little filter piece that looked like it might be clogged....dunked it in the bucket of water...reattached it. And voila. It worked. This was a big big big relief - because although you can spray an entire house with primer in about half an hour...it would have taken us all night with rollers. So, with our time line still ticking away it meant Rich had no choice but to go back to the house and spray while it was still daylight and Janice and I would handle the Siots initiation thingy. Before departing he made me promise NOT to sing the song I had prepared:

"Siots...we've got siots.... we've high apple pie in the sky-ots".

I thought it was dandy. :)

Ok - well I'm STARTING to catch up. Jo Jo.