So the pack leader thinks we might actually finish the new wing tomorrow. I'm not holding my breath - but it would be fantastic. He says by Friday we'll be taking our first shower. Or rather, Po Dog will - cuz she really needs a bath. Also - if Po is the first one I can document it being christened... if it's Rich...well...different kind of blog. So today was pretty jam-packed with activities outside the realm of renovation...but we did manage to get some stuff done and tomorrow is free and clear of commitments - so we should be able to put our nose to the grindstone. I managed to caulk everything in the bathroom that is installed - I can't do the floor around the molding - because the molding isn't there yet. But I did all the way around the tub and the soap dish etc. I think of this caulk stuff as being something I've gotten pretty good at...well this was HARD. Because we chose to use a light colored caulk (white or grey depending on the area), when there is a flaw, the caulk still looks dandy against the wall paint or the bathtub (also light colored) - but against the dark tile and black grout...NOT EASY. And when the white gets on the black grout - game over. I taped it all really pretty carefully last night - but the grout still managed in one or two places to slip into the grout space so I didn't get as perfect a line as I wanted. Grrr... so once this has dried I'll do a little touch up in places. But honestly, it's a huge area, and I didn't do that bad. I took picture...of course I only focused the camera on the areas that look really good :) :)
So you can see that the grey grout that we bought actually blends really really well into the wall color - so that's awesome.
And here's the same grey caulk running down the quarter round molding that finishes the wall edge. This worked really well too.
And here's the soap dish with white caulk. See this is the size of thing I'm USED to dealing with - and it was no problem at all...
So it look good in all those pictures - but honesty being the best policy - there ARE a few bumpy spots, but I'll handle them tomorrow. It was a fiddly job and took longer than expected - but it certainly wasn't that bad.
Before calling it a day I decided that I just HAD to make the leap and get those cursed kamikaze thresholds installed. And if I got them installed, then they could set overnight and there would be less of a chance if one of us accidentally steps on it tomorrow that it will get dislodged. The area where they had to slip in had to be chiseled out a little and I cleaned the surfaces really well, since they are so fragile that a piece of rubble or something, when a foot landed on it, might cause the whole thing to crack even if it was set in mortar. The first giant hurdle - and the one I was the most nervous about - was cutting the thing to fit. Rich thought we should use the tile saw - which I hadn't even CONSIDERED for some dumb reason - but it made perfect sense. So I set that up...measured the lengths needed - and then Rich helped me cut. Before we leapt into the real thing, I used one of the many, many, many shattered threshold pieces as a test. It cut fine, but at the end it kind of shattered before the saw could get all the way through (like tiles do when you're trying to cut too small a piece away). So when we did the real pieces I wrapped around the line to be cut with painters tape. Which worked GREAT. Rich supported the part of the threshold hanging over the edge of the saw (because I have NO doubt that it would have snapped right off if he hadn't. And the cutting was much, much easier than anticipated. Then I just mixed some gold old reliable thin-set and COVERED EVERYTHING NEARBY with plastic and tape (because the mortar would stain the light grey grout in the surrounding area otherwise). Then I glopped down the glop, used the larger notch trowel (no chances any more with those smaller notches, thanks) and spread the thinset. The guy a Lowes (who I am convinced was a confirmed bachelor...and if you're going to have to stick a confirmed bachelor somewhere at Lowes - tile seems as good a place as any. Other than soft furnishings. And window treatments...but tile works too) said that when you set it in place you have to push gently from the CENTRE of the threshold. Because the stupid darn things are so fragile that if you press down at opposite ends, the pressure of the thinset remaining at the center will crack it right at the middle. So, officially, my vote goes that congress should invest at least a couple million in advanced research for stronger thresholds...because for the amount of these things that get installed...c'mon people...we can figure out something that doesn't break into a zillion pieces when you sneeze on it.
Anyway - I got them both in. Safe and sound. And hopefully, tomorrow when I grout around them, they'll be sturdy and strong. Fingers crossed. And toes. So - like I said - here they are pre-grout. CROSSING THE STRESSHOLD
So before any of this excitement occurred we had two big things goin' on.
First was the INTERVIEW. (dum da dum dum dum). Which is pretty much how Rich thought I did....dum :) Well not THAT bad. See of course, after saying that I was going to talk as little as possible, I probably talked to much. I'm not very good at casual chit chat - I tend to deal with interviews as if I'm on Hard Copy... very serious, very precise. Apparently, I don't really have the down homey knack for sharing what we want to convey without making it seem...intense. See, I started out pretty mute...but then I was worried that Rich wasn't covering the stuff I thought we should (because he takes the slower gradual approach, so I know NOW) and then I wasn't covering things that HE thought we should talk about. It's just very hard. Honestly - I LOVE interviews when they email you questions. Then I seem ADORABLE. But I find it very tough. And, obviously it's mega-important to make a good impression. And Rich was right when he said it's important to make a good impression with the people at the paper...rather than be overly concerned about making sure they write the information we hope they will print. We need to continue to work with these papers and the information will get printed over time. And see, I think I kind of turn into William F Buckley's love child with Ben Stein. I cover a whole lot of detail...but I don't come across as...likeable. You know that famous Kennedy Nixon debate. I think I'm Nixon. Anyway... she was really nice...and spent a chunk of time with us. So hopefully we managed to say something lucid that makes Huntington understand exactly what we're trying to do. Which, is honestly, really really hard to explain when it's outside of what people have experienced before. Because what you can't do is compare it TO anything - even though people ask you to quantify it that way. See the primary frame of reference people have for theatre here is community/amatuer theatre. Which is great - I mean - I spent my entire youth doing community theatre and had a blast. But people who do something as amateurs (and by 'amateur' I mean the strict meaning of the word, as in "one who does something for the love of it") is a different thing than doing it as a job. So when people ask if we're going to be like one of the local community groups - it's a tricky thing to answer. Without seeming like an ass. So Rich and I have basically become resigned that most people won't really understand what the two of us do...or can do...until the curtain rises on opening night. Which is why the first five minutes of the Sound of Music are going to be more insane than any production ever. It's going to have to be like Cirque to Soleil in the Alps...just to knock people off their seats and make them realize that we are a unique product around here. So, when you're sitting there opening night and you see nuns flying in the air, alps exploding and Maria on a trampoline shooting laser beams out of her guitar...you'll know it's just cuz we wanted to make a good first impression :) But it's going to be one of the primary reasons we're going to have to try and be star driven for a while... cuz when people see "CHARO is MARIA VON TRAPP" they know it''s something... memorable?
So, we'll see. The other horrible part of it is that we couldn't really SHOW her anything we've done. Which is precisely why we wanted to hold off on our big "helloooo huntington". I mean, when the foyer was done, then it would have had an impact. But she was standing in the foyer and the auditorium where nothing's really been done. And we weren't going to take her up to our apartment - because a) that's got nothing to do with the theatre project - other than we need a place to live; and b) there's one double bed. The reason for that, of course, is that I sleep in the living room, Rich sleeps in the hallway, and Po sleeps in the double bed. So even though we've done this MASSIVE renovation in five months (well, massive for two boobs who haven't got a clue what they're doing), we couldn't really give them anything to take pictures of. We gave them a disc with pictures of us renovating, the two logos, the before and after renderings of the lobby etc... and, maybe they'll take a look at them. But, Rich did a really good job of explaining - and this is true - that a huge amount of clean-up had to take place before any construction could begin. We couldn't build dressing rooms with eight miles of wet cardboard in there. But, it still would have been a whole lot better if we could have done this in two months time. Ah well.
So the other big event was the auction. Remember those five properties that I posted some INTERESTING pictures of the other day. Well that auction was this evening. Rich and I spent last night coming up with a ceiling figure we were willing to pay for each one.. and a game plan etc. The one I really wanted honestly was the one we thought NO ONE would touch...the yellow house that had the train running four inches from it, blowing it's horn every five minutes, sat RIGHT beneath the water tower. it's actually an adorable house and would have been the perfect costume shop and even full-time housing for a costume person (if you threw in ear plugs). But this is not a place we could imagine successfully RENTING to anyone for like more than 25 bucks a week. I mean - you wouldn't get ANY SLEEP. The trains wake us up sometimes going past...and they are FIVE BLOCKS AWAY. Not five inches. Anyway - this house went for $7,500 bucks. INSANE. I mean - we were willing to pay like a grand and a half for it... because that's exactly what the realtor at the site told us the house next door sold for just recently. And this one was CLOSER to the water tower. The picture they projected up at the auction of the property was VERY carefully cropped - so you couldn't see the tower OR the tracks. And we are CONVINCED the people who bid on it had NEVER BEEN THERE. I mean there is no freakin way. But I was really bummed cuz I thought it would be super cute to have. Alas, alack.
We didn't have any luck with the other two properties either. The auction guys kept trying to get Rich to bid past where he wanted to...and it was pretty darn funny. I mean, remember Janice and the car salesman...well that's the look Rich gives someone when they try and manipulate him into bidding. The guy stopped asking after he made the mistake of saying to Rich "Do you know the math on this property...I mean you can't lose". Asking Rich if he's done the math on a property is not the right thing to ask. Suggesting to Rich that he might just show up an an auction for fun without spending about twelve hours plugging every possible tax cost, rental rate, mortgage interest, and renovation cost for multiple, multiple, multiple purchase prices...yah...not so good. So the realtor kinda got the the Najuch look of ice when he did that :) And, there are properties we need and properties that won't do us any good at all... if something can only make us money if we keep it as a slum and rent it as a slum (and trust me - these were SLUMMY buildings) then we can't use it. Because we need to be able to house people in them. People we like. People we want to talk to us again. And they have to live there for four months at a time. So some of the houses don't work no matter how much the auction jockeys kneel down and try and convince you that you're missing the deal of the century.
And folks - the auction process here...well...I wish I had it on video tape. Rich and I were seriously sitting there giggling like school girls in church. And Rich doesn't giggle during these occassions...so you know it was funny. See - New Englanders don't really have these auction type things as much. And we anglos...well... we do auctions the old fashioned way. I'm used to auctions that are along the Christie's, Sotheby's line. That go like this:
(please employ cut-glass British accent - Ian McKellan will do as an idea) "And here we have lot 8, a box of the shit variety... Ladies and gentleman a lovely, particularly dreadful abode... with enormous nastiness and ample 'not-bloody-likely' for the shit box connoisseur... May I have twenty dollars. No? Five dollars. Thank you sir, five dollars. Do I hear six? A lovely shit box, ladies and gentleman...for only six. I have five, is there six? No? Five going once, twice, sold to the extremely exhausted looking pair of confirmed bachelors who should eat less pie".
Over and done in about two minutes when no one wants to bid. This is NOT how things are done HERE. Here it's like a cross between QVC, the Bold and Beautiful and an infomercial for an ab-lounger. See, they START the auction like normal... but here...they stop. They stop, and for minutes at a time - in the MIDDLE of bidding - they will tell you that you're insane for not bidding. And they work in teams of five - the way that Joan Rivers has a buddy when she is selling earrings. Particularly hysterical was that they started the bidding at $20,000, which at this market in Huntington can buy you Buckingham Palace with WalMart probably thrown in.
And after that they drop to a more sensible price...but then it starts to go like this:
"I have three thousand...three thousand...I have three...three thousand...threee....three...three thousand...three...." (at this point an English auctioneer would say going, going, gone.... but not here....) "Three... three....I cannot BELIEVE that all we have for this is three thousand...three thousand (DRAMATIC PAUSE) Bob? Yes Ray? Bob somebody here is making a mistake... You're telling me Ray. Somebody here is going to go home and be awfully sorry that they did not take this property. I mean, Ray... Yes, Bob? Ray this is the market to buy. I mean three thousand dollars, Ray... that is WAY under... Bob, that is way under market... Ray that is WAY under market... way under. It's under... three thousand FIVE, i have three thousand five... do I have four? four thousand?... four...four...four...four....four...four...how bout you two confirmed bachelors in the front... boys...don't you want this BEAUTIFUL beautiful, property Ray. It's a beaut Bob. Beaut Ray...this beautiful property.... do I have four...gimme four...four...four..four...hey Mike? Yes Bob? Mike weren't you and Ray saying that this was a buyers market? This IS a buyers market Ray...and someone is going to be making money today. Now if you want this feller who's only bid three five... which is way under... Way under, Ray. Way under.... this feller to be the one making money that is FINE buy us... we are NOT GOING BACK... we are not gonna let you realize that you have had full frontal lobotomy before you came here and you were bidding under the effects of stupid-juice... Now, once this feller... Smart feller... He is a smart feller, Ray, hell i think he must be the only smart feller here...while this gentleman takes home this deed and starts making money on it tomorrow... Tomorrow... I guess all these other folks just don't WANT money, Bob. Four...four...four... Now, Mitchell, I see you right there in the front..now Mitchell I know you want this property. In fact if you don't bid four for this I'm gonna tell your wife to whoop you for leavin' your brains at home today...We both know when she hears you're throwin' away a chance for a Tipton street property... Tipton street, Bob. Mitchell, did you hear that....Tipton street... I have FOUR (hoo-ahh)... do I have five...five...five for this fantastic location. Have you seen this location, Bob? Ray, that's Tipton street....didn't you sell a house last week on Tipton street for 8 million five. Yes Bob I did... Now, granted...that property had a floor AND a roof and the foundation was not made of nerf balls...but I always say buy the WORST house on the block...the worst house...and Ray... Bob? Ray this IS the worst house on the block. Do i have five...because my daughters hamster could make this property turn a profit..."
And this went on and on and on. And they are BRILLIANT at it. Keep in mind during all of this... the best part...was that the female realtor (who we actually think is really cool) - she is standing behind the auctioneers saying all this about the house that she was showing that SHE WOULD NOT WALK INTO because it was sooooooooooooooooo icky. But they just keep talking until people bid out of desperation to get the hell OUT. I really thought that once an auction started you had to...like...not come to grinding halt. I mean it was AMAZING. They have this whole incredible schtick - that they probably rehearse in the board room - and it's like watching a Saturday Night Live sketch. So I just sat there in HYSTERICS. But what we've learned is that there is NOOOOO point in bidding on anything at the beginning, because it's not like you're going to miss out. Because they aren't going to stop until they've done their whole eight hour set. And all the slum-collectors that go to these things apparently know this. So they sit there, kind of like an audience forced to watch some opening act before the headliner comes out...and after letting them riff for like ten minutes...THEN they start to bid. But what sucks - is that if no one else WANTED the property - they talk them INTO it. Like seriously - they must have at least quadrupled the price of each of those properties by stalling and stalling and stalling. Which is great for them. Sucky for us. Cuz those folks that got the train house...they drank the kool aid kids. Actually, for 7,500 - they bought the kool aid factory. So - if you're in Huntington and you wanna see a show before WE open our doors... go see an auction. Better than 'Cats' people. Seriously.
g'night. jo jo.