I forgot to tell you that the night before I was charged with levelling the floor to prep for the carpet. As you may recall - this floor was not exactly level. In the way that Tinky Winky is not exactly straight. See all those changes in height on the floor there, kids?....
It was like trying to level a roller coaster. Thank goodness I'd learned my lesson from the carpet installer about how to apply this stuff and mix it on the floor. I used an ENTIRE BUCKET of the stuff and ran out. Quickly. Huge sections of the hallway - every doorway - it was NOT fun. I just kept telling Rich I was doing my best. It wasn't going to be possible to get this place flat - but I just wanted to try and get it smooth. A lot of the floor had big gouges in it - and old leveller that had cracked away - and places where the floor just dipped down a half an inch for no good reason. I slopped and spread and slopped and spread... All the white/greyish stuff on the floor... is now 'fake' floor :)
So Thursday we had ANOTHER catering gig as the clock was spinning like the Mad Hatter's alarm clock. This time we had the alumni psi oats - having already addressed the junior psi oats. While Rich and I served the meal at the theatre and did our traditional dog and pony show, Janice and Margaret worked without us over at Peckerwood.
What happens when you leave an Eckert unsupervised? A crap-load :)
By the time Rich and I were done with the lunch and we headed over there, Margaret and Janice had already cut the carpet for both bedrooms. Both of them. And as I soon discovered manipulating a giant roll of carpet ain't so easy. I started was assigned to take over and try and get the living room carpeted. At least Margaret and Janice were dealing with rectangles. This freaking room had a hallway and nooks and crannies and alcoves and crap. I was trying to fling this carpet around and crawling under it like I was being engulfed by a Burber octopus. Ok not a Burber octopus - we couldn't afford a Burber octopus.
The carpet kind of was another budgetary nightmare. The original plan had been to use the green carpet which had been in the lobby before the renovation. We had it all rolled up and earmarked for use at Peckerwood. I wasn't crazy about this idea because it was - well - green carpet. But I understood that we needed the house to be clean and nice - not out of Better Homes and Gardens. Well the green carpet might have made it look like the Gardens part. Anyway. The day before Janice and Madge and Rich had gone back the theatre while I was doing molding and lugged the stuff and started measuring. And it turned out the pieces (although gigantic) weren't wide enough for what we needed.
Carpet is just not fun to deal with. Just working on it for twenty minutes starts to kill your knees - and trying to lift and shift and shoove the stuff on the underside eats your arms, elbows and legs up like trying to exfoliate with sandpaper. But for the next two days my life was pretty much carpet. Janice was actually really impressed with how very butch I was flinging the stuff around and how accurately I managed to trim. See we had a REAL challenge in a lot of places. Normally when you install carpet you just kind of trim rough around the sides of the room - accurate but not EXACT - because you cover the edges of the carpet with baseboard to prevent it fraying and give it a clean finish. And, in a lot of places we were able to do that. But in a lot of OTHER places there were already baseboards with a zillion years of paint on them and we couldn't rip them up it would probably take half the wall with it. So along a bunch of walls I had to trim the stuff EXACTLY so that it had a clean finish just butted up against the existing baseboard. Not fun. But I managed. I was very anal. And it took me time. And I practically did it with nose-hair trimming scissors - but I did it. And speaking of buts. Since I have managed to post an unflattering picture of everyone else's ass on this blog... I've been told it's only fair that I post this picture. And i would like to point out that it was TAKEN WITH A WIDE ANGLE LENS which STRETCHES THINGS HORIZONTALLY.
Actually I found normal scissors (a cheap pair that you don't care about dulling in a single days work) worked great. For a really expensive carpet it probably wouldn't work - but with this industrial stuff it worked fine. Between those and the carpet knife (which is great for long lengths it was ok). In a new house it's not that bad because you have right angles and you can just follow the grain of the carpet weave on the underside like a guideline to do long cuts. But here...not so much. I had to be really careful every inch of the way - especially with no baseboards in places to hide a 1/4 inch error.
By the end of two days my knees were pretty raw. And it was WAY to hot to wear long pants. Knee pads....I know. Whatever. I'm still having to dig at ingrown hairs in my knees caused from laying the carpet. Yeah - sure. Too much information.
Janice had to head back to Ohio - which sucked big-time at this juncture. Margaret was also rapidly getting knee deep in her preparations for the ginormous Fourth of July Eckertalooza. Which I'll talk about eventually - but really - the Olympic opening ceremonies, kinda lame in comparison. So for a lot of the time it was just me and the Pack Leader. Which of course, in times of stress, is a recipe for an atmosphere of zen like co-habitation. Not. Actually we didn't do to badly. Rich was soooooo exhausted and I was so scared that it worked out to be a pretty good combo.
While I was carpeting he managed to get the bathroom (which couldn't be sprayed because of the shower and toilet and stuff) painted and later in the day he got the linoleum down in there.
Rich and Janice had a really nice black and white linoleum for a great price. So - one room was rapidly starting to look presentable.
And now begins my life-long love affair with pneumatic tools. I had to start installing the molding AND get the carpet secured (I had most of it cut - but not installed). So - after always being very afraid of the power nailer/stapler/anything that could shoot my eye out - I had no choice but to overcome my terror. Really - anyone who has ever seen that scene at the end of that Bruce Willis movie Color of Night knows why i'm skittish around those things. But very rapidly I changed my tune. Larry's brad nailer and pneumatic stapler SAVED OUR BUTTS. Seriously - It's amazing the time difference it takes. Without the speed those tools allowed me to work we never would have been ready in time. I want one. I want two. I want everything pneumatic you can buy. Ok - I just checked it out and there are definitely some pneumatic devices I DON'T want. Let's just say "the Wild Bronco Adult Stimulation Chair" - not so much.
As instructed, I used the stapler for the carpet. Thank goodness we had the kicker thing which Rich had found on ebay. Normally their like 100 bucks - but Rich got one way cheap and it makes all the difference
Do you know what these things are? Ok - It's this thing that has a bunch of metal teeth that you sink into the carpet and then it has a padded knee thing that you kind of butt with your knee (ever notice how you can 'butt with your knee' but not 'knee with your butt'...discuss...). And it scooches the carpet tighter in whatever direction you shoved it. INVALUABLE. There reaches a point where you just can't get your hands where you need them to yank - and this does a much better job at helping you get the carpet taught and manipulating it an inch or two wherever you need it to fit along the wall or whatever.
The brad nailer made the molding install so easy it was kind of pathetic. I actually was accutely surprised at how accurate my measurements were - I hardly had to recut any of the base or crown molding stuff. I got really lucky. And I was even able to follow my labeling system!
The ONLY problem with the pneumatic tools is that they are noisy. Noisy noisy. You're fine for about three minutes working away as it just makes it's fun little 'POW' noise each time you use the trigger. But then - when it needs to build up pressure again - it's loud. Like strapping a jackhammer to each side of your face loud. Sooo... we couldn't work past like ten pm. Which was good because we were both so tired that I probably would have accidentally stapled my lip to the living room floor.
Another reason we had to be careful at night was because of the next door neighbour. Jesus Jim. Wait, you say. Did you just say Jesus Jim. Yuppers.
In his own words, Jim is a 'well respected Christian in Huntington'. That is probably an understatement. Jim, so we learned, is pretty famous. See, Jim used to be the Viking mascot. Which I think entailed him being dressed up as a Viking. He did this for fifteen years. Jim, according to Larry, loves only one thing more than the guy upstairs - and that's sports. Eventually they had to ask Jim to retire from his mascotdom. But he still goes to all the games. All the games. All. And as a result he is kind of a colorful local character. We eventually learned this after trying to explain to a wide variety of people where the actor's house was located - and they would, after ten minutes of explanation say... "oh. It's next door to Jesus Jim". So there ya go.
Jim is very big on Jesus. Jesus talks to Jim quite a bit. Person to person. One on one. Or at least so Jim tells us. I think Jim actually manages to have more daily direct conversations with the Almighty than I have with the Pack Leader per week. Jim also likes to pray. With you. Just outside on the sidewalk. He prayed a lot for us while we were working on the house. He was very excited (as, so he said, was Jesus) that we were doing nice things for the house... and he was praying for us to finish. And - let's face it - we did finish. So - I'm just saying - What a friend we have in... Jim.
Anyway - so since Jim was pulling some strings for us with the - y'know - Lord, we wanted to try and be as respectful to his sleep schedule as possible. And Jim works sometimes works the night shift. And he was SOO patient with us - and we tried really hard not to drive him nutty. Which was not easy with the giant noise making pneumatic racket-asaurus.
Now you may have noticed that through all of this blogage there has been no mention of plumbing. How observant of you, dear reader! It is now Friday night - the actors arrive on Sunday - the plumbing is not yet installed. Rich HAS installed the kitchen sink and everything...and the bathroom had a lovely new vanity and toilet - but no...y'know.... water. The Pack Leader had kept trying to start this particular project - but every time he tried something else would go wrong, there would be another crisis, or Janice or Margaret or I would need supervision - and it just got waylaid. And of course with absolutely nothing else going to plan on this entire renovation - and everything taking longer - and each and every element being completely FUBAR - I'm sure it was safe to assume that the plumbing would go like clockwork.
This is when things got bad. Like before it was like "oh crap we're never going to get done, bad". Now it was like "Oh crap, we might have it done but unless we build an outhouse they're screwed, bad". Really. This was not a fun time. Rich managed to get the kitchen stuff working no problem. He had a heck of a time getting the cabinets level (since the floor still sloped...a lot).
Kitchen sink was hooked up and running and looking lovely in an hour or two.
And then he started on the bathroom. Which went great. No problem. And finally we thought we could actually go to the bathroom (all this time we had no running water, so we had to go back to the theater every single time. So yes - bathroom done right. Sure. Flush - whoosh. Awesome. Except about an hour later that evening....
The toilet didn't flush. Like it kind of tried to flush. But there was no big swoosh. More like a trickle. Like when you try and flush a toilet when it's still running - but this was NOT still running. It just wasn't flushing. And there is still a very long list of things to do BEFORE we can start bringing in beds and furniture and stuff. I mean we're not even close. And it's too late to go to the store and get anything to try and fix the problem. Rich tried a bunch of things and jiggling and whacking and flushing and flushing and flushing. No cooperation. At this point Janice and Bob were in Vegas for the weekend and Rich put in an emergency call to Bob. At the blackjack table. So, while HE might have had a straight flush... not so much on our end.
They couldn't figure it out. The stores were all closed so Rich couldn't even get to anywhere to get plumbing supplies. We did everything we could - nerves started to fray and tempers flared - and we just kept working at anything we could accomplish that didn't make tons of noise. Margaret and Rich managed to get the linoleum done in the kitchen - which came out great.
Finally, very late that night, we threw in the towel and headed back to the theatre. I collapsed and Rich stayed downstairs for another hour because the dressers and headboards had to be painted. We'd picked up a bunch of really nice dressers etc. at garage sales - and they just needed a coat of paint. But at this point - with this little time - there was no 'just' anything. Rich managed to get a first coat of gloss black on them, and let them dry over night. I just didn't believe we'd get it done. Seriously. Did not think it was possible. This plumbing thing was bad news. Rich still had so much to do - and this had no solution in sight and without a toilet - nothing else was worth bothering with because they couldn't LIVE THERE.
We couldn't even call out a plumber because it was a weekend. Evening. And it would have been a fortune.
The next morning a second coat of paint went on the dressers first thing. And they looked very nice. First thing at the house I started measuring all the molding for the door and window surrounds and got that stuff cut (it was a separate shopping trip for this 1x6 molding - so it couldn't all be done at once). Because the windows were all different widths and depths, this was a bitch for him to cut. And a bitch to install - and he gave me this diagram of measurements and I just did my best. Some of the pieces were 1/4" - some a 1/2" - some 1/8" - and not each side was the same because the house was old and wonky. So basically the windows got boxed in with trim. And they looked very nice when all was said and done - but considering how little time we had left it was one of those finicky little jobs that takes time that makes you lose your mind. But I managed to get that stuff installed around the windows, and the trim cut and painted. And then the rest of the windows and doors were pretty easy to do. I will give you a piece of advice. If you are dealing with a wonky room... make sure you install the header first. Because with the give that the carpet gives you after it's installed - you can end up with with the two verticals being slightly off and then the header is tilted and you look like you're in a fun house. But very low on the 'fun' part. So after prying a few off the wall, I didn't make that mistake anymore. Now that the linoleum was in the kitchen I had to do the trim for around the kitchen floor and quarter round at the base of all the cabinets.
As the plumbing debacle went on we continued to soldier away - but were forced to try and figure out some kind of backup plans. A few weeks before, Lee and Ray said that they had a spare bedroom if we were in a bind. Jean Anne's Mom, Peggy had just had to move into an assisted care facility and there was no one in her parent's house. Jean Anne was like "well if they keep the curtains closed and don't turn on any lights we can sneak them there for a couple of days". I had this vision of having to pick them up at the airport and being like "for the first week we're going to do this acting excercise for the warshow. You're going to pretend like you're living in London during the BLITZ. Lights out at six pm."
Jean Anne came to lend a hand and cleaned and set up the kitchen for us... We had silverware and bowls and glasses and stuff that all had to be put away and organized. Margaret gave us the whole day, bless her. She made the front room her priority project. See the living room, bedrooms, kitchen and bathroom HAD to be done - but we left the front room (which used to be the porch - and then was where the front door was before Rich installed the new one). Eventually it was going to be walled in for another bedroom - but for now we were keeping it open. But while we were working we had to have ONE place to keep all our paint, and tools and crap once carpet and linoleum started going down elsewhere. So they all ended up in that room. Which really was not going to be in ok shape for them in its current state. So we loaded everything we could into the truck - everything else into the closet, and Margaret started whipping that room into shape.
She spent all day working on it - two coats of wall paint - painted the trim - painted the ceiling. It suddenly looked great. It all was really starting to look so clean and nice and fresh. But there was still soooo much to do. And no toilet.
Then Larry stopped by and we had a eureka moment. Apparently the vent was plugged. See for a toilet to flush it has to vent so that the air pressure can change in the pipe so that water rushes away. Or...um..something. Anyway. The vent was plugged. Somewhere. In the only part of the plumbing which had not been completely replaced when we first bought the house. Arghghghghg. It took him hours and hours and hours and lots of four letter words... but finally it worked. A miracle. And we didn't even ask Jim to put in a word for us.
And then it was just a race against time. Furniture started getting loaded in. As the sun disappeared, Madge and Rich actually managed to get a bed moved into a bedroom. I had to do final trim in the kitchen and cut a piece of the tile board for around the stove and the other side of the cabinets. Rich now didn't have time to make the door for the utility closet (which covered the kitchen water heater). So I volunteered to give it a shot. At this point it was like nine pm AND it was raining. So I was now cutting 2x4s for this closet thing in the living room with the chop saw pointed out of the door in the rain trying to get as much of the sawdust to blow outside as possible without electrocuting myself. I managed. There wasn't much of an option. It turns out I COMPLETELY misunderstood Rich's instructions - and made it completely wrong BUT it worked and I though it was pretty darn awesome. Ok, so it prevented you being able to open a drawer or two... but really there was TONS of cabinet space :) Actually it came out pretty well - it's like a giant wipe-off board which we figured they could use as a 'quote board' (a common practice within most actor-housing/frat houses/insane asylums). I also started installing the gaggle of those metal strippy things you put at the ends of carpet in the doorways. And I learned not to start nailing them in the middle. Cuz they bend.
Margaret was now attacking the bathroom with PeGan-esque zeal. Ok, so she DID manage, in her zeal, while installing a towel rack to drill a hole right through into the next room... but hey. Rich had fixed the shower and installed a new head and faucets, so she cleaned (and boy did it need cleaned) and caulked the shower.
It was now like ten pm. And the front room had not even begun to be carpeted. The plan was to use a piece of carpet which we had bought months ago at a clearance sale. It was a really nice piece. It was lovely. It was too narrow. We discovered this at ten pm. The day before the actors arrived. The next day - even if we didn't have to go pick them up at the airport - was Sunday. We coudn't get any carpet locally. I was NOT happy. We started screaming at each other. Lots. Rich left and went to Walmart to pick up supplies that Margaret needed, and I just sat in the lobby trying to think. I finally went into the auditorium and looked at another long roll we had that we had said wasn't going to be big enough. With no options, all by my ownesome, I lugged the whole roll out of the row, up the aisle, into the lobby and unrolled it. And measured. And it fit. Just. It actually was a huge piece - very long - but just wide enough. We would have waste...but Rich agreed. We needed to use it.
So at eleven pm I STARTED to carpet the room - that was like 11x16. Luckily it was pretty much a rectangle... but the roll of carpet was really big and unwieldy. I just ended up crawling under the thing like some sort of giant gopher trying to shove the stuff into a decent position to start trimming. It took like an hour and half at least to get the thing trimmed (again it was a really finicky because only one wall got new baseboards - the rest of the carpet had to be a perfectly clean fit). So at about midnight I was able to start securing it down. With the pneumatic stapler. The LOUD LOUD LOUD pneamatic stapler. Luckily Jim didn't have to work the next day or I think he might have called in a favor and we would have been struck by lighting. Honestly the neighbours were so nice to over those last few days. I think they had all considered us entertainment sitting out on their porches watching us paint and saw and stuff. I tried to use as few staples as I could but still - every two minutes - BRRRRRRRRRRR. I really was expecting the police to show up to tell us to be quiet - but I worked QUICKLY as I could and got it overwith lickity split.
Jean Anne was going to pick up Colleen, the soprano, from Fort Wayne - and we were going to Indianapolis to get Jordan (tenor) and Katie (the alto). Isaac (the bass) was coming by car. But the fact that we had to pick them up from Indy meant we had to leave very early in the morning. So time was up. Basically we had gotten almost everything done. The construction was finished - things just weren't put away and there weren't like sheets on the beds or pillow cases or whatever. While I was doing the carpet Rich installed the TV using the Wallmount thing which had been inherited when Jean Anne got a new flatscreen for Nick's.
Margaret said she would come in the morning and do all the final paint touchups and get everything else ready. There was a curtain which we needed for the living room utility closet, which she said she could whip up at home and bring with her in the morning.
And thus... the time (whether or not we were ready) was upon us. Some people didn't seem so stressed: