Saturday, February 17, 2007

A comment I made in jest, a witty quip to begin a blog entry, turned around and bit me on the ass on Thursday. You who hang on my every word will remember that I said men in southern New Hampshire were pursuing me for my raw sewage. Well, on Thursday I was being pursued all right, not by the men, but by the raw sewage!

Let me explain. I was teaching my scenic design class from 11am until 12:30pm (brilliantly as always, of course) and when it was over and I started upstairs to my office, our technical director told me he'd just gotten a call from the boys in the MIT Press Store. The main drain out of the building across the parking lot had clogged and raw sewage was cascading down on the furniture and set pieces in one of our storage rooms. As he was rushing off across campus to teach a class in the theater himself, I'd have to handle the situation.

This, as I've often observed, is why I make the small-to-medium-sized bucks. I won't bore you all with the details other than to say that the situation was very bad, the smell infinitely worse, and that I was very grateful indeed that all this wasn’t happening in the room in which the upholstered furniture was stored.

I'd been advised to call some functionary well down the chain of command in the Facilities Department to get this problem attended to, but I've learned in life that if you think something's really serious, you go right to the top. And this WAS serious. I couldn't have either our students or our rental clients down in that basement in the condition it was in without everything being thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. We need the stock for our productions and for the rental income to professional and academic theaters all over the region which is vital to our operation. I called the Environment, Health and Safety Office, introduced myself and spoke the magic phrase--raw sewage. They swung right into action.

Within half an hour, I was meeting with the EHS Office's representative and the head of Custodial Services outside our room where the dripping had finally been reduced to almost nothing. Furniture was standing in infected water, which was standing in puddles on tables and desk tops, splashed onto the sides of antique cabinets and a genuine Boston antique fireplace mantle from the 1860s. But there was a plan--at 9:00 Friday morning an industrial cleaning company that knows how to deal with antiques was coming in to clean and disinfect all of our items in the room, and the floors throughout the basement where water had spread.

Yesterday morning an estate agent and his crew came to remove a whole lot of furniture from the house and give me a bit of money in return. It was a good bargain--I wasn't emotionally connected to any of the stuff (all the good pieces are slated for various rooms in the new house) and doing it this way saves me from trying to run a yard sale and maybe being left with a bunch of stuff that didn't sell. Also somebody else (including a very comely young man named Joey) did the hauling instead of me.

Thursday night I got home to find that the sleet and snow on my front walk had melted a bit during the day and then refrozen into a sheet of glare ice. I went out to my local hardware where they told me they were completely sold out of anything to put on sidewalks. Then they said they could save me the trouble of looking all around the neighborhood. As customers came in desperately looking for salt, sand or the new chemical stuff, they asked where they had been that was already sold out. They had a list that even includes the big guys--Home Depot, etc. Everybody was completely sold out. I had the guys coming at eight in the morning and had to put something down to make it safe. My only choice was kitty litter which I scattered liberally.

I knew what would happen--they'd get it on damp shoes and I'd be left with a clay-colored residue everywhere. And so it was--and these guys were careful and neat. But as soon as they were gone I did a serious vacuuming of all the rugs (I'll still probably have to shampoo them) and wet mopping of the bare floor areas. But now that stuff’s out of the house and I can "stage" the p ace for putting it on the market, which will probably happen on or about March 1.

I'm off to New York with my oldest friend in the world for a double header at the Metropolitan Opera today. First comes Leos Janacek’s "Jenufa,"a heart breaking story of a young girl whose step-mother will go to any lengths to protect her, even to shoving her new-born illegitimate baby under the ice on the local mill pond to save her from social ostracism in their little 1920s Moravian village. The legendary Finnish soprano Anja Silja, now in her mid 60s and still burning up the stage in dramatic character parts plays the step-mother with another Finnish Soprano, the luminous Karita Mattila as Jenufa, who finds the strength to forgive and move on in the opera' redemptive finale.

Tonight is Tchaikovsky' telling of the very Russian tale of the "Superfluous man" and the havoc he causes in the sweet provincial family to which he's introduced. The hot and handsome Dmitri Hvorostovsky and wildly popular soprano Renee Fleming star.

Both photos are shamelessly stolen from Sogalitno, the Southern Gal In The North—with many thanks, of course.

And here's another, with thanks to Gaytwogether. Those of you who love old movies will understand why my title for this is "Burt and Deborah."

Yesterday I walked to pottery class. Most sidewalks were cleared with at least a footpath of a foot and half across...the worst parts were the unplowed side streets which were treacherous.

If I ever own a real home instead of a condo, I would be sure to have a corner of the basement reserved for an ample supply of emergency rock salt or sand.

As for the picture, I would call it "Boys in the Sand." How could they ever let themselves go like that? (Of course I can see Bruce Weber's chubby fingers handling the airbrush as we blog.)
Life can be ever so messy. Sludge will happen, but at least you seem to have a positive attitude. That is the best thing.
stories of raw sewage conjure up Dickens.
Renee Fleming is a diva, to be sure. I met her once; she was rather cross that night.
I am not aware of Mr. Dmitri, so I must scope him out! any good suggestions (roles/recordings)?
A good friend of mine used to work as Ms. Fleming's personal assistant. She said that working for her was delightful, as she was very sweet and considerate -- not diva-like at all.

I would call that picture "Monty and Burt."
Kitty litter can work great for slip-proofing. I have used it myself. Salt is actually very destructive for cement driveways, and can also cause long-term ecological damage to the terrestrial and aquatic environment. Salt reduces soil permeability, and the increased salt concentration can affect the growth of plant species and diversity. Salinity also increases the mobility of heavy metals such as lead in soils. There can also be serious environmental and social consequences from using sand. These include the clogging of sewer systems and increased respiratory problems.

You might be interested to hear about a new whey-based de-icer product being developed. In addition to using natural elements such as grain dust, starch, and cellulose this product would make use of the massive qualtities of whey that is a byproduct of the dairy industry which is little used.

Okay, sorry. I'll get off my soap-box. Have a great weekend!
Man,that sounds like the shits. Terrible and nasty and gross. And a definite health hazard. Ecoli and all of that. NYC trip sounds wonderfully yummy and music to my ears.
when it hits the fan, you duck.. but when it starts leaking in from wherever.. then what?

hazmat suits are coming back into fashion i hear..

Raw sewage and ice. Ick. Hope things improve for you in NYC.
The opera sounds fun. I haven't been in ages.
I attended a Christmas concert (which I usually do not do because I just can't seem to ever get into the holiday spirit), ONLY because it was the Renee Fleming concert. She was magical and I felt as if she was singing just for me. She very engaging and her personality (very warm) came across as quite genuine.

And then, there's that marvelous voice. :)
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