Hey there...OOPS - ok so Rich was going to post this blog BEFORE the last blog - and it got lost in the shuffle... so sorry bout that. The one you just read was kind of still a work in progress (which explains the lack of pics!) but I'll get another one out to you asap. So - slight time warp backwards:
It's been a while since we had a fun Huntington environ story... but this is pretty great. Rich and I were just driving back from our gourmet post house-remodel luncheon at Bob Evans. The restaurant down the corner from us, The Beach, (remember - giant shark sign eating the whole block?) has been paying some dude to stand on the main street corner by CVS holding a sandwich board. This has been going on for some time.
But TODAY there is another dude with another sandwich board which advertising "The Dog House" who apparently saw the Beach sign dude, thought it was a good idea, and said "let's do that too". But they sent their Dog Dude to the SAME CORNER as the Beach Buddy. And we seem to have witnessed the exact moment WHEN the Beach Buddy realized the The Dog Dude was ON HIS TURF. And as we were driving away we saw the Beach Buddy shaking his head in a very slow and deliberate fashion, walking TOWARD the Dog Dude with an "oh no you didn't" expression that resembled something like this...
It could not have ended well.
So I'm finally (I think???) feeling better. I got put on prednisone and another antiboitic and some nasal spray and they brought in a couple of priests for an exorcism etc. etc. So that's good news. My energy level is still in the crapper - but I'm trying to get something crossed off the list every day. I haven't managed to get any more work done on the model - and I sure want to.
All the songs for Christmas are officially picked - and I think it's a great selection with some great surprises and some really funny material. There are only 60 tickets left for the whole extended run - and it's OCTOBER!! Whoo-hoo. The cast has most of the sheet music sent to them, and we're goin' full speed ahead. I had a really hard time tracking down the sheet music for this one beautiful song that Judy Garland introduced on the Tonight Show. It wasn't in print, and I happened to know the composer. So I emailed him and he's not only being sweet enough to send me the music, he also gave me the story behind the song's creation - so it's our first 'from the horse's mouth fun-fact." How bout THAT peeps. Yes, Dan and Winston... The song is "After the Holidays" which, astoundingly, ain't in print. Even the sheet music guru of New York who supplies everyone with stuff didn't have it on file.
Work at the house is going great. I haven't been over there much at all - because of my evil flu - with all that dust I just couldn't breathe. But now allll of the demo is done and last weekend team Najuch got all the debris cleaned up. It's now pristine and vaccumed and ready for the next stages of things like the new wall for the guest bathroom etc. which they started to frame. And I took the good camera over there and got some decent pics.
All the kitchen cabinets have been delivered. And lemme tell you, those 36 inch cabinets are HEAVVVYYYYY. I'm really excited about the two tall pantries and the lazy susans.
Here's a pic of the only room we are leaving untouched for the moment. This is the front entrance stairway - and with all the woodwork etc. we just didn't want to tackle it right now. It's the only room that isn't being taken down to the studs.
The reality of our schedule is that we'll probably be moving in once the two bedrooms, kitchen and one bathroom are complete. Then, because the house has central heat - and the theatre apartment does NOT - we can continue fixin' up over the winter. So - we're hopin' by the time Santa arrives, this is the chimney he'll come down. Wait... we took out the chimneys!!! RIIIIICHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!
Rich and I are about to start rehearsals for Sleepy Hollow. I think there are only like 10 tickets left for the whole run - and those are for the matinee. I've drafted out a starting point and I'm sure in the next few weeks everything will change completely - but ya gotta start somewhere. i will say, in terms of sound effects, that the hunting calls I purchased were not a slam dunk. The crow...ok sounds like a crow. The hoot owl sounds not unlike blowing on a beer bottle... and the coyote howl sounds like someone attempting to strangle an athsmatic goose. Ya win some you loose some. Although I have to say we have a thunder effect that is pretty freakin' awesome. We're about to go to Fort Wayne to make a HUGE purchase... a keyboard for the theater. Tim isn't going to be with us anymore because of his teaching schedule at Indiana Wesleyen. We've got a fantastic new musical director from New York named Nate... and choosing the right keyboard for us was quite the stressful endeavor. But we're gonna get it tonight, because we think Rich is going to be using it in Sleepy Hollow as well.
Now the big news that I haven't gotten to share with you is about the Opera House. What the heck is the Opera House... well it's big enough news that for about two weeks it was the first thing that anyone brought up when they saw us. There is this building downtown...which people call The Opera House. The building has fantastic architectural detail, and back in Ye Olden Dayz there was, on the top floor of it, an opera house. Now, since those days the building was split into several sections and sold as separate pieces... Basically it's four buildings under one great big roof. And that roof is the problem. On one whole side of the place the roof is pretty much swiss cheese. Which made a lot of people very sad because it's a beautiful building with a lot of history for the downtown.
So there was this auction. And Rich bought two of the four buildings. For $51. Yup. $51. Now - admittedly that didn't include about a thousand bucks in real estate fees etc., but still... the auctioneer said sold at $51.00 And a Najuch knows a bargain. The third building (the middle of the block) wasn't for sale, and the one at the other end, unfortunately, had a much higher reserve price - so it didn't sell at all. So we now own two buildings. And they are LONG... here's a shot of how long the building runs - the whole block.
That are attached. It's weird. But people THINK we bought the opera house... Which would have been nice - but the reality is that the Opera House is the top floor of this place, and it runs (basically a great big ballroom - it doesn't remotely LOOK like an opera house) across all the buildings. So we basically, on the third floor, own a chunk of the opera house room... but not the whole opera house. Being on the highest floor, and therefore directly underneath aforementioned swiss cheese roof, the opera house basically is a great big mess. Which is why the building was condemned (a phrase which used to terrify me, but now I begin to understand it simply means it's not fit to live in... and frankly, with a swiss cheese roof, I can't argue). And that's why it cost 51 buckeroos.
Normally, when you buy a condemned building you have only 30 days to rectify the problem...but Rich got an advance ok from the authorities that we could have a more extended period. We've gotten quotes for the roof - and amazingly - it not as gigantic an expense for the materials as we would have guessed - and the installation isn't as impossible as you would think.
Now... what are we going to do with this honking building you may ask. Well, it's not just gonna be us. Basically we are starting a non-profit professional Arts organization which will house a kind of cultural center in the building. Rich is working with Debbie Dyer and Ann Siegried on creating the group that will run a Art and photography gallery in one half of the first floor. CALL THEM THE CULTURE CLUB
That gallerylobby will connect to an intimate theater space (about 70 seats) where, under the umbrella of the non-profit, we can work to develop new shows, present smaller cast productions, recitals etc. that wouldn't be suited to the main auditorium. The theater will occupy the whole first floor of the second buildling... which looks like this right now... FRONT (We MIGHT pick a different color scheme....whad'you think?) And then inside... STOREFRONT ENTRANCE
It will be a fantastic thing and a really important part of become a vibrant theater organization. The building will also house classroom space for lectures, workshops, classes, school education groups etc and office space for the La Fontaine Arts Council that focuses on bringing arts education into the schools. The second floor will allow for residential space which can be used to house actors during the season...but also they can have artist retreats, bring in an artist-in-residence for a few months who can work towards a show in the gallery, visit local schools and teach masterclasses. It's pretty exciting. All of this is going to need a lot of community support - and it's obviously not going to happen overnight. But Rich really believes that Huntington can become a arts-oriented destination and this will be a great crucible for that development.
It may seem like yet another thing we've bitten off - when we already were overtime on the chewing... but the reality of this economy is that we, despite our slim economic means, are able to currently purchase the real estate space that we need in order to grow into the kind of organization we want to be and help other important organizations we want to partner with. When you can buy a half a city block for fifty bucks, and you know someday in the not too distant future you're gonna need more space...then ya just have to swallow, bite the bullet, and take the leap. And we know it won't all happen overnight. And the more excuses we have to talk to Debbie and Ann, the more likely they are to feed us. :) And progress - big progress - is already bein' made.
Rich and three divas (Ann, Debbie and the no-choice-in-the-matter-diva Eva) headed over there yesterday and started yankin' crap down. And they got quite a LOT of crap down in the Gallery building. INSTANT LES MIS BARRICADE.
Eva has developed a fantastic drywall removal system which I think she should patent. It involves a shovel and some sort of particular flick of the wrist that she learned from her Dad.... she gets huge hunks of the stuff down in seconds. PRY-MATE
Ruth Marh's husband Sonny came by and was a giant help too. SONNY DAYS...EVERYTHING A-OK. They wanted to get a bunch of stuff ready for removal because today we were getting 40 teenagers to come help for four hours as part of a community service day at the high school.
Now at first Rich was a little nervous about this prospect. Because if they were like "Bite me" it could be a very long four hours. But they were AMAZING. And in particular, it is astounding, how much enthusiasm teenage boys can have for demolition. Let me tell you - the Wii has nothing on a sledgehammer.
They were LOVING it. I suppose if you had 2 million exploding teenage hormones, a good two hours of whacking walls would be a welcome distraction. We were super careful that they all had gloves and masks and goggles. Of course, one of two of them did decide it was fun to use their heads as wrecking balls... but hey, that's what permission slips are for! The karate kick method, I must say, was particularly impressive. The Vice Principle stopped by and said "Hey - works for us... the more tired they are when we get them back, the easier the day is!". But, seriously, we were all soooo impressed with them. They worked so hard and were in great spirits - particularly considering it was chilly and rainy and yucky out there.
The biggest problem we had was that they kept filling up the dump trucks so quickly. Rich had to keep calling the city to say "um... can you come empty this one?" because they were like a zillion little ants filling the things up in two seconds flat.
And they got like all the walls out - it's a huge step forward in ONE DAY. And when you see how big the space is without those walls - the gallery is going to be an amazing space. The ceilings are also really high too - which is fantastic. The drop ceiling that was in there had like eight feet in the clear above it.
By the end of the day they had gotten SEVEN dump truck loads of debris out of there. It's amazing. And, for those of you long-term loyal blog readers... we now have a return of a long-lost blog character. One-guy-and-a-bike (who has now reconciled with his former partner and returned in a blaze of glory to being Two-guys-and-a-truck) showed up and asked if he could get rid of the scrap metal. So, in addition to all the stuff the kids took out, they are now removing all the old radiators, and pipes, and airconditioners and all that heavy, heavy stuff we would have had to lug out.
The other day Po had a five hour vet visit. She's having skin issues - happens about once a year. So - we were stuck in fort wayne for long enough that we actually had time to go to...a mall. Seriously - I haven't been in a mall since last Christmas. I actually hit the sale rack at Banana Republic, and we did a little damage at Khol's too. I kind of have this wardrobe hole - I have the casual sweatshirty stuff I wear all the time with jeans...and I have my suits. But anything in between that, and I'm screwed. So I got a couple cute fall sweaters - nothing that is going to solve the problem when we are asked to go to a smart casual thing...but it's a start. We also were appliance shopping for the new house and think we found a great fridge at Best Buy and a front loading washer (which we are gonna have to have - because the laundry room roof slants, so we can't get clothes IN from the top!!! At the end of it all, Po was happy as a clam, except for the fact that I know have to give her three pills a day and trying to get her to take a pill is like trying to keep Janice out of Kohl's when she has a 30% off coupon. Impossible.
ALSO all of a sudden our little girl seems to have developed a bladder control issue. The other night she was just sitting in bed staring at us and then peed. On the bed. On me. Great. She also was having accidents in other weird places that were unusual and would sort of stare at us. Unlike the usual "Yah - I know that was bad... I'm gonna go hide now" face.... this was more of a "Um... yah... that was embarrassing. Sorry" face. So we figured it wasn't her fault. So I called the vet and they go.... "oh we gave her a steroid shot... and she's probably going to be eating more and drinking more and having bladder problems. We normally warn you of that... didn't we?" Um no. And how long will this be going on? "oh... about ten to fourteen days". Grrreeeeaaaat. So - if you see Rich and I floating down Jefferson street in a raft - it's because the weiner has flooded the theatre.
We survived hosting Miss Huntington again. It's actually a lot of fun on the day - but a heap load of work leading up to it. It sort of involves pretending like I'm writing the monologue for the Tonight Show set in Huntington and then expanding it out for two hours of yucks. I sort of hole up for two days and write the thing. And the Rich and I fight about all the jokes he insist that I cut because they are a little too risky. And then we have the whole weekend of rehearsals and stuff. And then the jokes have to pass everyone else's muster as well. Actually I got really lucky this year - there was only one gag that got the official veto... which is pretty darn good. The whole backstage tech crew for the thing are kids from the high school... which with the right kids can be really great...and the wrong kid can be... not. This time round there was one particular 'not' that Rich had to keep me from strangling with my wireless mic cord... but other than that it was pretty smooth sailing. Except for the fact that I am the opening announcer for the entire event ("wellllcommmee to the Miss Huntington Pagent" etc.) and no one thought it would be a good idea to give us a 'five minute' warning, or a 'places call' or a 'hey we're starting the show' warning. Or to actually check if any of us were ready in the wings. Soooo when they started the turned all the lights out and started the opening music I was in the bathroom. I heard the music start and HURTLED backstage to my microphone.
The only real bummer was that because there were only five contestants, the audience was very thin... only about forty people I would say. The year before they had 12 contestants and the auditorium was pretty packed. And trying to do comic banter to a 1,000 seat auditorium with 40 people in it can be a little rough-sailing. But the audience seemed to like us - and a new Miss Huntington has been crowned. And no, I did NOT win Miss Congeniality, which I felt was totally unfair. Anyway kids - it's kind of a hoot - so next year if you're free. Stop on by.
The reingning Miss Huntington's name was Mallory Bunting. And I think my favorite little chunk of banter went like this: RICH (noticing that Joel is wearing a tiara): Joel, did you try and steal Miss Huntington's tiara again? JOEL: Let's just say I was in the Holiday Spirit early this year, and strung up some Bunting. RICH: Give it back. JOEL: I just wanted to be Queen for a Day. RICH: My life would be so much easier if it was just for a day.
We managed to be on the front page for the past two days in a row. Yesterday with a really nice pic talking about Sleepy Hollow, and today an interview with Rich all about the kids and the volunteer work at the opera house. Kate Gosselin is calling Rich telling him he's overexposed.