It's allliiiiiive. The blog lives.

Yup. Whatever insults you want to hurl at me, go right ahead. I'm sure I deserve them. But in my defense we've been a hair busy.I have lots to try and tell you about - months worth in fact. So, I'm not even sure how I'm gonna tackle this. I'm probably gonna do catchups in chapters...rather than try and do things in any kind of definite chronological way.

All right - let's recap shall we. Actors coming. Soooon. Peckerwood evil possessed place which refuses to be renovated with ease. Terribly behind schedule. Blurg.

As if we weren't backlogged enough - it was on to catering event number six hundred and twelve that week. We were hosting a graduation party for Rose's (from the Visitor Center) daughter. Now just like the Mid Western traditions of Prom baffled Janice, Rich and I (where we're from prom IS a dinner), so to the graduation rites were quite surprising. Apparently in these parts, when you graduate, you're shindig must be decorated with as much memorabia as you can POSSIBLY squeeze per square foot. The three of us were completely baffled at first when the Meldrums started delivering hundreds of photographs, stuffed animals, aprons, dresses, shoes (no, really, shoes were on display)... I think we stopped short of ultrasound pictures of Holly as a fetus... but I think Rose just couldn't find them :) Now, I must emphasize, after research (i.e. asking the Pork Queen) we determined that this was PERFECTLY normal. But for about twelve hours Janice and Rich just kept wandering around the lobby in a daze of the Holly Wax Museum saying "this is how we decorate for a wake". Rich had estimated within our insanely tight time-schedule that the setup for the party would take us about two hours. Well we were wrong. With all the paraphernalia and photographs to arrange it took Rich and Janice and Margaret and Rose and her other daughter Victoria and I like all evening. Eep.

Well - even with the cornucopia of Hollyiana on display, they still managed to lay out a glorious spread of food - some it of from Jean Anne, some homemade by Rose's culinary master of a husband, Dick, and some from a cheesecakery in Fort Wayne. I have to say I was particularly impressed by the Jean Anne watermelon basket - who clearly is after a new name "Queen of the Fruits". However, I already hold that title.

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And, particularly prescient for our future upcoming weeks, Rich manned the bar: bartender2.JPG

Or rather, served as soda jerk, since we only had soft drinks and ice tea :) The party was supposed to last until three pm at which point (at about 2:59), with a gaggle of people still milling about the lobby, Jean Anne walked into the room and shouted "What's the name of that song? The party's OVER???". She has a way with words.

The whole party was actually a lot of fun, and the family was thrilled. Holly even loved the dinosaur cake a la Jo Jo (she has a thing for dinosaurs...not dragons...there is apparently a very strong delineation). And we were very excited to do it. Except, y'know, that thing about the actors practically already having boarded their planes and we don't have a house yet. Or really, even a tenement... we had a shack. Pretty much we were at the shack stage. It would make a lovely crack den. So we had to start working in shifts. Every second we had available - somebody had to be at that house.

So Janice and I were left to handle the evening edition of the Siots (remember the grown-up sorority/Mistresses of the Ball o' Cheese) while Rich primed the house with the newly resuscitated sprayer. (BTW I'm very excited that I knew how to spell resuscitated without spell check... ok... it took two tries. But I was close). After we had served the meal, Janice and I kept hiding in the other room because we weren't sure what part of the ceremonies we were allowed to witness... Cuz it was their initiation thingy. So in between choreography, singing, naked-cheeseball-dunking and virginal sacrifices (Ok those last two I was out of the room for - so not SURE if it happened), Janice and I would zoom in and do refills and clear plates. They also bring their own doilies. Which is always the hallmark of a powerful organization. OPEC - totally bring their own doilies.

Rich stayed over at Peckerwood while we slung meatloaf, and managed to get the whole place primed with the sprayer in a couple of hours. This was the first time Rich utilized the nifty white jumpsuit-overall-thingy which Janice got him at Big Lots. I can't imagine why they were on sale.

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It's been so long that I'm really not sure of the time-line now, but I think we had about fifty seven minutes left until the actors arrived. I mean things were just NUTTY. After the first scraping job on the living room ceiling... we returned the next morning to discover that the new primer paint had caused the remaining wallpaper to buckle and peel even worse. It hadn't been helped by the fact that it rained all that evening so everything was even more damp and dried way slower than normal. So...again with no time... Rich and I had no choice but to scrape the entire living room ceiling down to the plaster. And we had to do it quickly - because we couldn't paint until it was corrected - and we couldn't carpet until we painted - and we couldn't....arghghghghghg. There wasn't time to even think about it. We just scraped.

Also before we could paint the walls, we had to get them textured. The ceiling had quite a lot of seams from the original application of that plaster paper stuff - and we wanted to try and soften those out if we could. So Rich decided we could use the popcorn texture stuff. Which he intended on applying by hand. Which, in his exhaustified state, was not the most effective plan. At around 1:00 am I tried to relieve him and give it a go myself - but it's just exhausting. The brush is heavy with the goo - you get it all over yourself - without scaffolding you can only do a two foot area before you have to get down and reload and move your ladder. So. New plan. He decided he would rent one of the popcorn sprayer things.

Now I was kind of amazed by this thingy. I thought it would be like some gigantic apparatus to rent... Nope. You actually just rent the 'hopper' (like a giant funnel looking thingy). It just hooks up to a compressor. At first Rich was having a heck of a time with it because he was trying to use our little compressor. Which is kind of the Easy Bake Oven of compressors. It did work - but it only sprayed for about five seconds and then needed two minutes to gain pressure again. So considering we had to get the ceiling of every room done quickly - this was not ideal. He would still be there. So, Larry let us borrow his He-Man compressor and Rich was off like a rocket. He did a great job - it made the ceilings look so much better and he did a great job of controlling the spray so it didn't get too far down the walls.

So now the walls were primed. The ceiling was primed. And the ceiling was textured. OMG it might actually be construed as progress. But when you think about the fact that the walls weren't yet painted... there was no trim... there was no flooring... there was no plumbing and it was five days until the actors arrived. Well...blurg. That day Janice and Rich went to Fort Wayne to pick up eight six tons of molding for the entire house, as well as paint etc. I stayed here and started taking the pages of measurements I was going to need to do all the baseboards, ceiling trim, as well as around the windows and doors. We had to get the walls painted by Wednesday which meant they HAD to be textured. We had decided very early in the process that we were not going to try and get the walls smooth. The art of mudding drywall tape and sanding it down was still something we weren't great at - and it takes time. You have to mud and sand and mud and sand - and we needed a faster process. So we decided to texture the walls, kind of like we had done our apartment bathroom and the ladies room. Even that took application time... and Margaret had this great idea. She figured the same way the texture stuff could be sprayed from the hopper onto the ceiling, why not spray the wall stuff the same way? It was a great idea - but we had one hitch. The ceiling texture material has big powdery granules in it (the popcorn stuff), the wall texture stuff is more like cake icing - smooth but gooey. It has no granules. Well the ceiling stuff comes in a dark green bucket, and the wall stuff comes in medium green bucket. And they both say texture on them. So when we started this process like at 10pm when we were already bleary-eyed and cranky, Margaret unknowingly accidentally set the sprayer up for Rich using the ceiling goo - not the wall go. As I started to try and spread the stuff on the walls I was so confused - because it was acting so differently that the way it had on previous applications. I kept saying to Rich "it's not the same", and he was tired and kept saying "it IS the same" and I said "no it's NOT". Because we were so tired it took like twenty minutes for us to realize the mistake. I couldn't figure out how to make the stuff work for us on the walls - but Rich and Janice managed to blend the stuff together so that it worked really well.

Rich was again sequestered with the sprayer. It had rained again and it was damp so he had to wait until the very late morning for everything to be dry. Again - tick, tick, tick. But within about an hour the pack leader had managed to paint the entire place, top to bottom in beige. Janice walked in and went... well at least Joel's Mom will like it now. :) Mom likes beige. Beige beige beige.

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As this was going on we set up a kind of crazy assembly line outside. We ran extension cords onto the lawn and I sat there with my measurements and a huge stack of wood and just started to cut and cut and cut and cut. Actually - I was a good boy and adhered to "measure twice, cut once" so it was more like measure and measure and cut and measure and measure and cut...but you get the idea. As I finished a piece of molding it would get tossed over to Gretchen who helped us out all day in the blazing sun with one of her buddies.

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There was so much molding that even with the energy of two youngsters brushing away, after several hours when Gretchen had to go to a volleyball game, there was still only a dent made in the job. I mean there were like five rooms - and each room had floor molding, molding along the ceiling, around each window and door... and often the walls were longer than eight feet (the length of the wood) so I'd have to cut two pieces for one length. So we're easily talking over a hundred pieces of molding carefully cut and labelled for each spot. And each piece had to be primed and then get two coats of paint... I actually had to make sure that I put on sunscreen, cuz hunched over the chop saw I would have fried the back of my neck bigtime.

Janice and Margaret took over - and we rapidly started running out of room outdoors to even prop the stuff up to dry. We had them draped on saw horses, boxes, buckets - and it spilled well out into the sidewalk.

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And I hadn't even started cutting the six inch stuff to surround the door frames. We painted well past sunset - and owed the neighbours the first of many apologies for leaving the front lawn looking like some kind of weird giant albino pick-up-stix installation.

And so we reached Thursday. Three days left. Three days left. One more chapter and we'll have actors. Who are VERY peeved that they have not become blog-famous yet :)

xo jojo