Mea Culpa.

It's been way too long. So long in fact a number of you thought the blog was just plain dead. Today is the first day off that I actually feel is a real day off since well before Treasure Island opened... and we have been crazy. The good part of that is that so much stuff has been going on that I can't wait to show you pictures! While i was in Bermuda researching and writing the shows Rich and Bob and Janice were getting the rehearsal room ready on the new second floor. Which involved days of cleaning (since that entire floor hadn't been really in use for over 10 years), tons of painting and getting electrical and plumbing hooked up too.

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The first couple days the cast was here we were still in the lobby while the finishing touches were put on everything - but with the dance mirrors and everything it's just a fantastic place to work. It makes such a difference. We have a mock-up of the stage and everything...

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There was a while there when we thought we weren't going to be able to have a bathroom working on that floor - which would have meant going two flights down and over to the theatre when ever nature called - but Rich was emotionally blackmailed and spent a half a day getting the adjacent bathroom all hunky dory. Which then betrayed the presence of a leak that was started dripping down into the kitchen! Rich and Bob then lost another day trying to fix that fun problem which involved spending a lot of time in the basement replacing out sewage pipes. Apparently I will never, ever, ever, ever be able to do anything to even the score on the nastiness of this particular task.

While all the stuff was going on in the new building, there were also volunteer clean up days at the Opera House.... The Gallery area is now gutted and the potential is so exciting...

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The things i want to show you the MOST are the pics of all the progress that's going on over at Jolene's building. In the weeks leading up the first week of summer shows, Team Najuch was working 24/7 in order to have the new kitchen ready for use. Due to Murphy's Law, some electrical parts that were needed to hook everything up were delayed so the ovens were fired up by opening night - but the kitchen looks AMAZING and they think that everything gonna shift over there next week - which only puts them about 7 days off of their original (insane insane insane) goal date of July 7th.

So keep in mind while I'm showing you all these pictures, that allllll of this has taken place in like the last month. When the actors arrived the back area of Jolene's building was basically just a big ol' ugly shell.

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Just as they were starting to make real progress in there, Bob and Rich realized that the ceiling supports were actually sinking about a foot in the middle of the room (which also explained why the stairs going up to the third floor were a little like an Escher painting in their slantiness). So suddenly everything had to come to a grinding halt and they had to replace like 20 feet worth of the support beams in the ceiling. Because if they waited until after the kitchen was done stuff would just have to get ripped out again... so they lost about a full week in the time line. These beams were HUGE. Just jacking up the ceiling to it's original height was a logistical feat - and then getting these beams up in the air and THEN getting them slid into position. Getting the first two in (where the floor was dipping the farthest) took them an entire day... but then things started to go a lot faster.

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I have no idea how they pulled this off - but they did. And got the ceiling raised back and supported to it's proper height as well.

Then Janice went to work priming and painting... the tin ceiling came out beautifully... it's such a shame that it's in a place where our patrons never SEE it!!

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And then, ladies and gentleman, began the biggest, craziest Najuch project in the history of time. Which, we all know, is saying somethin'. This kitchen - approximately 53' by 12' was going to get tiled. In a week. Walls tiled, floor tiled. Tiled. The walls were painted first (actually painted twice, since the first color of baby poop brown was dubbed...baby poopy). So the walls were painted. And then painted again blue. And then the tiling began. Or rather, the process of figuring out the tile PATTERN began. At an auction Rich had gotten an amazing deal on five different kinds of beige and white tile. All the same size - but different textures and finishes. Some were shiny, some matt, some bumpy, some smooth. Janice was determined that this kitchen (which no one but the staff would ever ever see) was going to have a proper pattern. So using more math than I can even comprehend, they calculated the amount of each tile they had, the square footage they had to cover, and invented an alternating pattern which could remain consistent. And then the tiling began... Six foot high all the way around the room.

Rich and Janice and Cindy developed an assembly line that for about five minutes I attempted to join and my brain nearly exploded. It went something like this: White smooth Cream matt. white bumpy. Cream shiny. white matt. Cream shiny and bumpy. White shiny and bumpy. in recurring DIAGONAL lines. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

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They laid the tile on all the walls in two days. tile-almost-done.jpg

Possible for mere mortals? Nope. Najuchs? What do think. Janice did start to get a slightly crazy glazed look in her eyes and Po was pretty carefully not to pee anywhere she wasn't for a couple days for fear that she might end up entombed between shiny white and matt beige.

THEN they had to grout. This is all the first week the actors are here, and every time they'd come down on a break they'd be looking at these tiling cyborgs in complete disbelief. Meanwhile we were upstairs doing perfectly sensible normal things:

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The grouting took two days too - apparently it was way worse than the actual tiling, because (as I remember from our long-ago bathroom projects) it takes a lot of muscle to spread that stuff. And THEN they had to clean it off - like a zillion square feet. And that took like three rounds of scrubbing.

In the midst of this, George arrived and CONNECTED the two buildings. This was like the most insane thing ever. It was so weird in the process of like two hours to go from having two different buildings to just being able to walk right through... it was soooo exciting. Here's the first 'hole' that leads from the auditorium into the kitchen (eventually there will be three different connecting areas).

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If you take a look around the edges you'll notice Rich's very first masonry work! He and Bob had to brick in around the hole so that the new fire door will fit in properly.

So you get a sense of the geography, behind Rich is the auditorium... if you walked behind him and turned left you'd end up in the lobby. And just to the right of him is the door to the kitchen. In front of him will be the new restrooms... which you can see from the view of the auditorium looking INTO Jolene's... hole-other-side.jpg

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And now... the floor. Oh yesss.... Janice is gonna tile the floor too. The fabulous Rick Fischer (the brilliant faux finish artisan in Roanoke) gave us some left over mismatched commercial non-skid floor tile. The non-skid was very, very attractive since in the current supper club kitchen almost all of us have skidded and slipped like Dorothy Hamill after six Long Island Ice Teas. Now, please note I said 'mismatched'. Would this stop Janice? NOoppe. Sitting with Bob, and again, using more math that it takes to launch a space shuttle, they came up with a pattern for that too.

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And in two days (yup - two) Janice went at that floor with a death wish. She no longer has knees. She's turned into Dorf. But Cindy and George Eckert and Margaret and a bunch of folks descended like some kind of tiling inferno and helped get through the last hurdle. Janice had been using tile spacers for each and ever tile - going through about a thousand in literally the first ten square feet of floor. George came up with this system where he ripped a piece of wood the correct width of the gap and then marked in pencil the spacing for each tile - and immediately shaved days off the amount of time it would have taken.

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And then... grout. Which by accident was left on too long (it dried faster than they anticipated) which meant Bob spent eight hours with muralic acid clearing the excess grout off of 600 square feet of tile. Which involves putting on the acid... neutralizing the acid... and then washing it all clear. And so - in the end - here's the kitchen waiting for everything to be installed.

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The sliding-through-Jestsons-like dishwasher and gigantinormous ice machine are waiting to be hooked up... dishwasher-and-ice.jpg

Plus the walk in cooler area is built... cooler-area.jpg

Now, I mentioned Cindy a couple of times. After 14 years working at Nicks, Cindy found herself without a job (except when the Supper Club is running). So, she has turned herself into a Najuch so that we can get the kitchen done... and the restaurant open. Cindy without work to keep her busy is a scary scary thing. A few days she's walked out of that construction area looking like a refugee from Bosnia - but I guess it's a change of pace. People are really excited about the restaurant... and since the kitchen will be operational really soon, we hope we can get it running by the Fall. And that hopefully, in addition to my teaching at IPFW, will help us with financial stuff we need to get the auditorium progressing quickly. The restaurant now has a name and a logo which debuted in the summer program - people seem to think it's cute:

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Larry's got most of the electrical hooked up now... larry-electrical.jpg

So next week this kitchen is gonna get christened, darnit!

So - next blog i'm gonna catch you up on MY end of things and the craziness we've had getting three shows ready at once! See ya! Glad to be back. JoJo.