Well - finally I got to be crafty. Janice arrived in the late morning - so we headed over to Nicks for brunch of sorts. Over yummy special of the day, Goulash (which Janice apparently knows as American Chop Suey????) Cindy and I talked about pinata progress and I said I'd be over a little bit after her shift ended. Rich and Janice and I went to Walmart for some errands - including picking out the fabric for the Great Coal Project of aught seven. See - in the offstage right area, there is a giant coal scuttle (I think it's a scuttle - what's a scuttle?) where there are like eight tons of coal. So - Janice and Rich, as graduates of Ebay-World's Power Seller Seminar, decided that we could make a quick buck (or, probably at the end of the day, a very slow, time consuming buck) by sewing cute little christmas bags and selling pouches of coal to put in people's stockings. For an additional cost they might get a calligraphy written letter from Santa telling them they suck, with personal specifics. "Dear Rick - I know you're bonking your secretary... I want a divorce. Merry Christmas". Delightful seasonal treasures like that. So - the xmas fabric arrived at Walmart and Janice and Rich picked out about six patterns they like for making pouches. My favorite part of this process was the in-depth psychological analysis that went into PICKING the fabric. "Well - this one says 'joy' on it... and maybe that goes against the coal's THEME". You wonder why it takes us eight years to accomplish anything... it's because we actually THINK about these things. Seriously.
Anyway - while they were figuring out coal cosies, I was looking for some kind of fabric to make a template for Cindy's pinatas. In case you haven't been following her plight... Cindy is a Volleyball mom (admittedly, the delivery room nurse was somewhat surprised) and her daughter's team has some big game and it's a sort of traditional thing to decorate their lockers with fun volley-related-paraphanalia. Clearly such sports related hoo-ha is not something which frequently crosses my realm. However - Cindy wanted to make volleyball pinatas, filled with candy, that would hang on their lockers. Now - she rocked out the paper mache people... she (and her child-labor force) managed to produce 16 very, very cute grapefruit sized pinatas with candy inside. Pretty darn round... painted all different colors (which, so I have learned, volleyballs DO come in). Now - Cindy came to an impasse figuring out a way to correctly draw the complicated pattern of stitching lines on this peck of pinatas. it's a pretty complicated geometric pattern - and I - in a desperate attempt to cling to my rapidly-rusting creative juices - was eager to assist.
I thought that I could make her a template by getting some see through fabric, gluing it carefully around one of the balls, drawing the pattern once... and then she could slip it off like a kind of bag and then slide it onto the next one. So - I managed to find some cheap diaphanous (btw - I LOVE that word...it's fun to say) fabric. Then I got dropped off at Cindy's for my play date.
Gotta say - Cindy's house - AMAZING. She is a decorating fiend. Rich and I have been in a whole bunch of houses around this town... and as you have heard... they seem to be big on kid's murals here. But they ain't usually so great. Cindy's kids rooms are soooo cool. She did it the RIGHT way and got an overhead projector - shot the image up on the wall... and did like all these neat things like the Purdue logo and mascot in the boys room, and flowers in the girls room. They are bold and graphic and really neat. I was mega impressed. I would try to poach her from Nick's and appoint her our future set-dresser but a certain someone someone might poison my cube steak. :) In fact - none of this should have come as a surprise... because after all... Cindy DOES make the pie. And the hands that craft the pie - are gifted. Anyway - so we established Cindy is crafty. If we were back in NY I'd have our friend Tricia introduce her to Rosie O' Donnell (they became pals on 'Fiddler) and they could paper mache and collage their brains out.
So I arrived at Cindy's - and we whipped out the hot glue gun and got to work. My plan was a big dud. I managed to get the fabric glued around one of the balls...BUT a) it was going to be too hard to draw the pattern around all the glued seams, b) the balls were different sizes - so it wasn't going to work to have one static pattern. So the balls were proving troublesome. (BTW - as we are an up-market publication, we are going to refrain from any jokes linking experience with 'balls causing trouble' to myself, or Cindy's having five kids).
SUDDENLY LIGHTING STRUCK. I asked Cindy for a pair of old panty hose. For a brief concerned moment I think she felt the afternoon might go in this direction:
But no... here's what I did. Cut a leg of the panty hose. Slipped it over the pinata. Sketched the volleyball pattern with a pencil (this took a while - cuz it's a pain). Then marked it clearly with a sharpie (which, simultaneously, marked the first pinata with the stitch lines). Then we slid it off and had a look. PERFECT. I was soooo excited. The sharpie went right through the hose and gave her a perfect guideline to then trace over and fill in the lines thicker. BUT HERE'S THE COOL PART. Because the hose are stretchy - they adapted the individual shape of each ball. You know how tattoos stretch when someone gains weight - or their skin sags - or whatever. Well this does the same thing. The pattern just shrinks or stretches in proportion to fit each ball. And she just has to clip it at the top to hold it in place.
I was pretty psyched.
So - after my arts and crafts afternoon. Which, eventually had to come to a tearful end... it was time to start tiling with Janice.
Do you remember how I said the other day that I was pretty confident that doing the blue square sheets was going to be a lot easier than doing the white floor tile. Well, any time I say "I'm pretty confident" in the future...run for the hills. Nope. This mesh stuff just bites. My Father mentioned to me yesterday that he wished we could say 'shit' less on the blog (How, I ask you, when we have a building named the Shit BOX?...I mean... it's not MY fault it's named that. I'm a journalist. I only report). Anyway - it's a good thing Saul wasn't around, because about an hour into Janice and I fighting with this stuff, 'shit' would have been a welcome downgrade. On the expression of frustration scale we had moved from say Teletubbies to Scarface. The mesh just moves all over the place. We did REALLY well with it...but it was driving us crazy. And - what I thought would go faster - actually took far more time because we could only ensure the spacing - and the fact that the whole thing didn't start sliding together under gravity - by using a lot of the tile spacers. Not around the edge of each sheet, mind... between each and every tile on each sheet.
Plus we had a wall that we knew was slightly bowed going into it. Rich's theory had been "you can hide that with the tile" at the time. Well, let me tell ya... you can't hide NOTHING with tile. It just magnifies your problem and points it out in neon. But - with a lot of careful and subtle squishing, sliding, and smooshing, I think we figured out a system. And after about two hours we were moving really pretty fast. We worked in shifts... I would tile:
While Janice would cut the pieces I need, and hand me spacers (like a nurse at an operating table - except with a little more sass). And then when I ran out of mastic (you can only mix so much at a time or it'll start to dry out on you) we would switch and she would scrub the tiles to get the excess mortar off.
BTW you know how I told you I got a special handled sponge that had a rougher surface. It works GREAT. Janice says it requires much less elbow grease and hopefully it will be just as dramatic a difference when I grout as well. So - anyway - she runs the trowel along the grout spaces to make sure they are clear... and then she sponged. During which time I mixed more grout. And so it went. The circle of life.
We both realized - too late of course - that we could have made our life a lot easier by running the sheets in a big diagonal pattern - which would have eliminated the need to fuss with staying parrallel to the bathtub/the walls etc. Wait, didn't I mention this as a possible solution to the LAST tiling job. And wouldn't I have considered it as potential solution to THIS tiling job as well BEFORE I started. Yeah, well, bite me :)
While we did this, Rich worked away like a busy beaver in the kitchen. He did a super job sizing, trimming and installing all the end cap pieces for the cabinets. They now look finished and very, very pretty.
You actually iron those side veneers on... can you believe it? It's just like counter-top hemming tape! There's a glue that reacts to heat - and you kind of iron your cabinet until they take. So, it's supposed to dry pretty strong. After you let it 'cure' that is. Not when you are Joel and you pull on it and say "How well does it stick" and half of one peels off and Rich makes the unhappy face. Yeah, I wouldn't recommend testing them with that method. Let them dry first. :)
He also attached a lock onto the kitchen door (since for the first time, this room is part of the living quarters instead of an old manager's office). So we can make sure it's secure when our hoards of eager theatre goers pour into the building on a nightly basis. We also with haste required a better fastening system for the door for another reason. When all the hardware came off for painting (and simultaneous diet pepsi hardware dipping to remove tarnish), bob came up with a nifty little rope pull to fasten the door and to be able to grasp as a handle. This worked great for a week.
Until... someone. A certain small four-legged barky someone, managed to figure out how to OPEN THE DOOR using it. Now keep in mind this is a dog that pretends to not know the command for 'sit'. But she figured out that if she pulls the rope she can open the door. Now, if this had happened just once, we'd give it to her as dumb luck. She did it three times. We'd be downstairs in the auditorium and next thing you know we're in our own canine version Prison Break, chasing her between 600 theatre seats. Thank god for Lays' potato chips as bait. I swear - that dog could learn calculus if she thought it would get her food.
Rich also made really good progress installing the drywall in the corridor between the bathroom and the kitchen, so we can finish off the link between the old wing and the new wing.
And, as you can see, by the end of the night, we had tiled the whole wall. Except for the pieces that need cut - which come later. We definitely, definitely improved our speed... so we think tomorrow we should finish getting the tile up. And then grout on Saturday. Rich thinks it's looking really good, and after a family pow-wow we've actually adjusted our grout plan. Originally we were doing to grout between the cobalt blue tile the same light grey as the floor tile. But we think it looks so striking the way it is - that we want to keep that effect with a dark grout. So, the shower stall is going to have a very dark grey grout. The soap dish and the shampoo tray (that we REMEMBERED TO LEAVE SPACES FOR (are you shocked? I am) are white - which will help tie the whole thing together I think. Janice is also very enthusiastic about the dark grout because she knows how adept I am at cleaning house. Basically we're choosing the grout to match the color of mould. Classy.
So lots of stuff tomorrow. Thank goodness we carbo-loaded on Janice's awesome ziti.
Oh - and she likes the giant golf-ball pumpkin I found her at Walmart. Fun, right?