We stage a counter-attack. Oct 6, 07

Or rather... we attack counters.Bob and Rich made mucho progress in the kitchen today. It's really starting to look pretty darn awesome. Janice keeps saying "I can't believe how nice it looks" - which is either a positive statement of maternal pride... or an expression of total certainty that we were gonna louse things up in their absense. :) I think it's probably somewhere in between.

So almost all the cabinets are now installed... my adorable little 9 inch side-cabinets that Janice and I picked up to flank the wall cabinets on each side of the sink were axed. The reason cited was that they really was no way to secure them to the wall. Because they are such small pieces...they fall between studs, and we would have had to plan for them in advance when framing before the drywall went up. Well, sure - if you're want them to be SAFE. Yeesh. I think the real reason is that Rich found out that Janice and I picked up a nine inch cabinets for ninety dollars each.

While the boys held cabinet, Janice and I did bathroom tile prep. Don't get excited, we didn't tile yet... but we did PREP. This involved caulking the rest of the cement board seams, and covering all the little screw holes with a layer of caulk as well (the mastic and grout should make sure no water seeps through to the cement board. But this just makes sure that if it does, none of the water will ever reach the studs).

HERE YOU SEE A LITTLE CAULK IN OUR SHOWER. HOPEFULLY FOR THE LAST TIME. shower-caulk.JPG

Then we tackled the cracked areas in the ceiling above the tub. Which were my fault - remember. I'm so peeved about it - my over zealous demolition cracked some of the ceiling cement board while I was whacking at wall studs. And because this stuff is curved at a mega-weird angle - it needs to be patched. We tried facing over it - but there is nothing to which we can secure a whole sheet of new green-board (the water proof drywall). So Janice and I got out a bucket of the trusty hydraulic cement which we used to patch those holes in my office. As you can see, Janice LOVES the stuff.

CONCRETE PROOF THAT JANICE DOES NOT LIKE GOO janice-concrete6.JPG

It worked great - and Rich thinks I've done a pretty good job fixing the thing I shouldn't have screwed up in the first place :)

PATCHWORK GUILT ceiling-patch.JPG

So the cabinets are pretty much installed and the insulation set behind the ones that run along the exterior wall. The big excitement of the day was all about the countertops.

YOU'RE FROM BERMUDA...YOU CAN JUST LIMBO TO THE BATHROOM RIGHT? counter-bathroom.JPG

Rich had been really nervous about having to cut them (and I, quietly, had been twice as nervous about Rich having to do it) - but they came out PERFECTLY. I was so proud. Here was the lowdown: They ran duct tape along where the cut was going to be... straddling the cut line. Now the duct tape REALLY flumoxed me. Not the TAPE part of the equation... but I was amazed it was duct tape. Becuase duct tape has those stringy gluey fibres in it... and I thought that it would actually make matters more complicated. But no. They duct taped the place where the cut was gonna run. Marked their line. And then, using the special carbide blade which Rich was advised to get for the circular saw... he made the cut. And it didn't chip... it didn't tear... each one came out practically perfect. A smooth, crisp line. And the reason you need such a clean perpendicular cut, in case you don't know, is that there is a side facing piece of laminate you have to glue on to the edges once you've cut the countertop to size. Otherwise the sides of your counters would just be nasty old fibrous woody stuff. And this laminate has to have a perfectly smooth finish to run across - or it's gonna stink. Stink as bad as the skunks which seem to be enjoying mating season along the highway from here to Fort Wayne recently. Very stinky.

So they got almost all the counter tops cut this afternoon. Bob even got the hole for the kitchen sink cut out and the boys are going to hook it up tomorrow.

TO CREATIONIST'S DISMAY... BOB DISCOVERS 'THE MISSING SINK'. kitchen-sink5.JPG

And then they embarked upon securing the two corner cabinets and putting together the REALLY TRICKY forty five degree counter pieces that turn the corner. Now, the manufacterers make this clear in the instructions... and we DID NOT make this mistake. But having (sorta) helped put these units together now... I can tell you one thing you want to do when you are cutting these countertops to run a corner.

corner-counter.JPG

Do not trim from the side that is already cut for you on the 45 degree. Bad bad bad. Because trying to make that cut - would SUCK. Always cut from the edge that's just gonna be a ninety degree run... and let those nice people at the factory do the toughest part for you...which is getting those corner pieces to line up perfectly with each other. Which they do. And they did. After some fineggling. It was a little hairy there for a while - becuase, being an OLD building and having a zillion imperfect angles... although the prefab countertop runs at beautiful and perfect ninety degree angle - the wall does not like to comply. But with a little futzing, Bob and Rich figured it out. And, as we always say around here, 'there ain't much you can't improve with caulk." I think I heard that saying once or twice in New York too...but the pronunciation might have a been a little differnent.

So - When it came time to secure these corner cabinets - someone had to be deposited into a small tight hole inside a dead-space gap in the corner. Lowered down like a canary into a mine. Guess who. I actually thought it was gonna be a whole lot worse... I thought they were gonna make me screw the counter together from the position. And then they would have had the dilemma as to whether or not to take advantage of the moment and just entomb me. Sure after a while I might start to smell a little...but after the living room carpet debacle... Rich could handle it.

Luckily I did not get the Tutkhahaman treatment. I was supposed to tunnel back under to secure the counter to said cabinets... but we didn't have the right wrench - and it was WAY TOO out of my league MacGuyver-wise to pull that off. Bob managed to do a pretzel impression and squeeze in there. I have no idea on earth how he managed it but they got the bolts tightened. And these things are WEIRD. They are these bolts with two horizontal bars - one at each end - and they squeeze the two counter pieces together (sandwiching a special mix-it-yourself-from-a-packet glue between for extra bond) and secure them. But they are designed to fit in such a tight little area - and the bolts are so flat to the underside - that you can hardly get a grip on them to rotate the nut. And when you do turn the nut it likes to dislodge itself and going 'boing' and pop out. So - they were tricky. The main problem was that it needed a sized wrench. Not an adjustable one... but one specifically THAT gauge - so it would have been less bulky to maneuver in the little gap. Which frankly, I think it should say in ginormous letters on the box. "Yo... countertop buyer... walk down to aisle 24 and get a #4K wrench... or your life is going to be a living hell because while you trapped in a small space underneath a cabinet, making your fingers bleed trying to get these nuts to turn by hand, and cursing at these counters for being a pain in your ass, your spastic boyfriend will spend fifteen minutes wigging out that the rapidly curing glue is going to crust before you get these two pieces stuck together and you will THEN want to go buy the #4K wrench anyway just so you can bop him on the head with it".

How hard would a little helpful note like that be?

So - after a lot of tsuris, they got them together and in place. ((SCREECH BRAKES)) Sorry, sorry - for the non New York/Jewish component of our audience - tsuris (pronounced sir-rus) - translates from the Yiddish as 'Trouble/aggravation". It's one of those words that you just learn being a New Yorker and it's fun. A little Yiddish just makes conversation more fun no matter what your heritage. In fact, I look forward to the day that Jean Anne greets us at Nick's with:

"Oy - such a day I had. Some nebbish schlemeel putz caused a tsuris because his pork tenderloin wasn't kosher and spent so much time kvetching that I got mushuga. Now the specials are completely farblunget and I have gravy on my schmatta. Anyway, boychicks, you go sit on your zaftig tuchus while I get you something to nosh and I'll come kibbutz."

Give her a couple months. Our entire New England/Ohio readership just went "whaaaa??".

Ok - so you don't resent me: "I've had a rotten day. Some annoying pain in the butt caused a commotion because the pork tenderloin was not kosher and spent so much time complaining that I got distracted. Now, the specials are totally ruined and I have gravy on my apron. Anyway, boys, you go sit on your big behinds while I get you something to eat and then I'll come chit chat".

That wasn't so hard, was it?

Speaking of the Lady of the Loins... she stopped by today to check in on the kitchen progress and was very excited. I think she's a little worried that when we CAN cook Nick's might go under... but we promised that we'll make DINNER not lunch at home. And, after all, just like the old 'Cheers' theme song..."Sometimes you wanna go, where all the locals think you fla-a-ame". That was the lyric, right?

Speaking of flames and those that burn them... the work whistle rang early tonight because Rich and I had, weeks ago, made a committment to attend (drum roll)

the 2008 Fort Wayne Gay and Lesbian Dinner Dance.

Not that WE'RE gay. Jeesh. See, we understand from our research that them swishy fellers like the theeyater - so we went for research. And, you know what, it was really quite, quite lovely. It's this big HIV fund raiser thing that they hold every year... and the 'confirmed bachelors' were out in FORCE and dressed to the nines. I haven't seen that many lesbians in cocktail dresses since Jodie Foster, Helen Hunt and Cynthia Nixon accidentally got sat together at the Golden Globes. People looked great. Rich and I looked old and haggered and had caulk under our nails. But we did our best. Jo Jo had a MAJOR trauma preparing for this event... because my life is not frequently suit-oreinted. I mean - it will be more so soon - opening nights and board meetings and stuff - but until we started this wackiness... sneaker and jeans to work kids. I hadn't bought a new suit since my last year of college. And since my last year of college... there has been pie. Now - I'm not the Michelin Man or anything...or even Tobey Maguire in Spider Man 3 (sorry, Tobey, the dark brown makeup did NOT mask the doublechin...They're paying you eight zillion dollars...buy a jump rope)... but my suit is a size 28 waist. And I am not. Rich just had to go to a wedding in New Hampshire a month ago...so he was all gussied up and good to go (complete with tangerine dress shirt the confirmed bachelor at Macy's helped him pick out).

Can you believe that Jean Anne saved my little butt. Ok - medium butt. She asked me what I had to wear to this thing... and I sort of looked like a live representation of 'The Scream' - and she told me she had a suit for me to try on. It was Kenny's. Now - let's face it, kids - when you think 'matching fashion sense' you would not IMMEDIATELY pair up "jo jo" and "Harley Davidson owning construction gentleman from Tennessee". And yet... She produced from their closet this great black wool suit that Kenny wore for THEIR WEDDING. And Kenny, so she assures me (becuase I asked over and over and over and over again) does not and will not ever fit into these pants again. I am sure it has some relation to pie consumption. So I tried it on... and it was pretty darn close to perfect. The pants were a litte loose around the middle (which momentarily gave me that delightful rush of feeling petite - y'know when you try on something that's a little roomy - and you think... "well THIS is big on me... that means EVERYTHING in the world must fit me NOW". And you don't try anything else on after for a fortnight - because you don't want to burst the bubble :) Anyhoo... The jacket fit really well too. Enter JANICE... ma-in-law d'awesomeness. Janice took-in the pants in for me. Her payment was the ergonomic comfy seam-ripper that we bought for the task...she's stealing it cuz she's grown attached. As they say down at Nicks Kitchen: Mazol tov. It was a particular blessing because, get this, there is not a SINGLE 24 hour dry clean/alterations place around here. Not just in Huntington kids... in Fort Wayne too. I wish that storefront had been a little bigger... cuz there's a niche to fill, right?

So - by the time we stepped out to paint the town fuschia... I was fitted up in style. Soooo amazing of them both. Because, if it's one thing that might have sent me packing... it would have been being arrested by the INDIANA gay fashion police. I mean, really, the time to NOT have anything to wear is NOT a gay dinner dance. I mean - it's like Joan and Mellissa on the red carpet times 200 - without the bad plastic surgery. So I was very, very, very grateful.

AAHHHH - PRESTO CHANGO... INSTANT LOG CABIN REPUBLICANS! rich-and-joel-dressed-up.jpg

So - I have to share this alternate picture with you...simply because I love how Rich looks like he's auditioning for a Soprano's spin-off. Hopefully set at Olive Garden. TO BE IN THE MOB... YA GOTTA BE RICH. rich-mafia.JPG

So, anyway, the evening was very nice. The dj had clearly been briefed appropriately (Abba megamix, Cindi Lauper and Madonna...kudos) and they had a very nice digital projector which Rich coveted, and the silent auctions were really pretty cool. There was a lot of GART (my term for gay art), nifty restaurant packages, bed and breakfast getaways, pottery, and a whole bunch of stuff. The items at the silent auction that I felt could bode well for us finding a future audience were: Autographed picture of Maggie Smith Autographed picture of Liza Minnelli (Winston will take great solace in this) Large framed signed poster of Anne Reinking in 'Dancin'. Season tickets to the Huntington University Theatre shows Seaseon tickets to the Fort Wayne Civic (both of those did pretty well)

So - there ARE apparantly gays who like things that are gay. So that's a good sign for our future subscription sales. As long as we don't suck :) Now, Rich and I were both very intrigued by the vast number of signed celebrity photos... and the amount people that were bidding. It may be because we're pessimistic and bitter... but those take an awful lot of faith from my end - UNLESS you were there when it was signed. Speaking personally as someone who KNOWS the GUY who's job it is to answer all of Bea Arthur's fan mail and sign her pictures. And, having worked with Maggie Smith, if THIS was Dame Maggie's signature I'd be reallllly surprised. It was written so carefully and in such stunning penmanship it was like it was on the Declaration of Independance... not a hastily signed photo that some collector would have thrust into her hand at the stage door of "Lettice and Lovage" along with the dvd of "Prime of Miss Jean Brodie", a "Harry Potter" book, and a "Tea with Mussolinni" tea cosy. Which is usually how those glossies end up signed. Or they sit doing them in stacks of 200 at a time...where by the fifth one, 'maggie smith' has become 'blerrrrrrrrrsmllllllll'. I'm just sayin.

The 'ironic' award for the evening was during the non-silent auction, when they were auctioning off a signed photo of John Travolta as Edna Turnblatt. Which just made me kind of say 'hmmm'. Travolta a big gay advocate? Well - two out of three.

The thing I WANTED was this AMAAZZZZING quilt that went for $1,300. It was just beautiful. Which, tragically was only $1,299.95 cents out of our price range. Shucks.

So - anyway - I would like to say that Rich and I danced the night away... but that would have involved Rich being abducted by aliens and being replaced with a clone. But our feet were killing us anyway (do you know how long it's been since I had to wear DRESS SHOES??? - frankly... I probably would have fared better in heels. At least I could have gotten Easy Spirits.)

I would also like to officially report, that no matter how many times Rich smacks himself in the head and attempts to disown me in public, I am not the most colorful male to be found in the entire state. A distinguished older gentleman was wearing a "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" patterned full-length formal sequined muu muu. With a large diamante pin that said "Queen Mother". If only Kenny had let me wear his sequined muu muu.

L'chaim. Or as Godfather Rich 'The Pierogi' Najuch would say: Ciao Bella. Jo Jo.