Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Wherefore Art Thou, Power Washers?

I am an eternal optimist, even when the evidence is stacked heavily on the side of pessimism. Unfortunately, this leads to shattered hopes. Today is a good example:

All day long, I waited in optimistic expectation for the power washers to show up and render my home exterior as clean and sparkling as new. In theory, according to the documents that supposedly explain where my association dollars go, our triplex building is supposed to be power washed twice a year. In practice, Duloc Manor was completed nearly two years ago, and if it ever actually happens, this will be the first-ever power washing in 20 months. By my estimation, that puts us at least three washings behind.

We were notified by Town Hall that the washing would take place today. My husband and I were in Chicago, scheduled to fly in yesterday, so we hustled home frm the airport as quickly as possible to remove our screens, take down the porch swing, and clear the area of all flower pots and decorative items just in case the workers came early the next morning. Yes, I know it was insane to think they would show up at all, let alone early, but as I said, my optimism knows no bounds.

My husband had been in Chicago all last week, and I joined him over the weekend to see "Wicked." The "Broadway in Chicago" series features some wonderful plays, and that's one of the only things that can draw me from Celebration, Florida, back to the Windy City. In July, I will be winging my way north to see "Little Shop of Horrors" and "The Lion King," and I am still reeling with disappointment that "Avenue Q" is not going to have a touring company. Instead, it is settling into a permanent home in Las Vegas. But someday I vow to see that off-color send-up of Sesame Street and the Muppets; the soundtrack always has me rolling with laughter (as an example, Trekkie Monster, who appears to be a close relative of the Cookie Monster, sings a song titled "The Internet Is For Porn," while two male roomates with a suspicious resemblence to Bert and Ernie perform "If You Were Gay"). The show is wildly politically incorrect, but that's just fine with me.

In contrast, "Wicked" is very politically correct, with themes against prejudice and a wheelchair-bound Wicked Witch of the East. PC or non-PC...either way, I don't mind. I just look to stage shows for two or three hours of good entertainment.

"Wicked" was expected to win last year's Tony, but "Avenue Q" snatched it away unexpectedly. After seeing "Wicked," I can understand why. It's not that it's a bad show, but it didn't live up to its billing. I was expecting to be dazzled by special effects, but the big effect is the Wicked Witch flying for the first time. She didn't even fly on her broomstick; she was just lifted up into the air, holding her broom in her hand. The "flying" monkeys remained earthbound throughout the show. Heck, on the Disney cruise ships, Peter Pan and a friend both fly at the end of the signature show...I expect a little more from a Broadway touring company than a cruise ship show. There is a cool giant talking wizard head, but the back is decorated with what looked suspiciously like a string of old Christmas lights. The "melting witch" effect was simply a shadow behind a screen; for $85 a ticket, I was hoping for something a bit more graphic.

Happily, the performers were all strong singers, but the second half of the show seemed to drag on. There is a surprise twist that I had figured out within the first five minutes, and there were several plot points that conflicted with the movie and books. There was also an animal rights theme that confused me; I have no problem with animals rights, but it didn't make sense in the context of the play. The Wizard had spearheaded a campaign against the talking animals in Oz in order to give the people something to band together against. But it was never explained why the Wizard chose the animals as scapegoats (pun intended). Did he feel threatened by them in some way? Were they driving Oz to wreck and ruin? Were they not cleaning up after themselves in the parks? How did they forget how to talk so easily (you'd have to assume they were educated, since one of them was teaching college classes)? The answers are left to the view's imagination.

Still, it was enjoyable, and I like always like adding another notch in my theater belt. There was an understudy playing Glinda, but she did a superb job (Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, had an excellent voice, too, and turned in a powerful performance). Interestingly enough, the Wizard was played by Marcy's first husband on the old "Married With Children" show (he's the one who left and was replaced with the jock from "Revenge of the Nerds"). I never knew he could sing, but he did a very good job.

The show made me laugh a few times, which is always a plus. Also, we went to Lawry's Prime Rib, my favorite downtown Chicago restaurant, afterwards, so things ended on a high note. Lawry's serves prime rib that is prepared in Heaven and sent down by the angels in enormous silver serving carts. But as delectable as the meat is, it is really only a delivery device for the ambrosia that they call horseradish sauce. They mix horseradish into unsweetened whipped cream, along with some other seasonings. The result is a sauce so good that I always request an extra portion, which I defend to the death from the advances of anyone else at the table.

My brother and sister-in-law joined us for the play and dinner. Even though he is a "macho" truck driver, my brother spends an inordinate amount of time listening to Broadway show tunes on satellite radio. He had all of the songs from "Wicked" memorized long before he ever saw the show, and he's constantly quoting "Avenue Q," "The Producers," and other favorites.

But although it was a fun weekend in Chicago, I was happy to return home to Celebration. My husband and I flew Southwest, home of the cattle call boarding process, but we were anal retentive enough to get an exit row. We check in at 12:01 a.m. to ensure "A" boarding passes and then get to the airport early enough to secure a good place in the "A" line. Usually, there are enough pre-boarders to populate a small state on Orlando flights, but in theory they cannot take the exit rows (you're supposed to either be handicapped or traveling with a child under five to pre-board, and both of those conditions disqualify you from sitting by an exit).

This time was no different; we settled into our preferred exit seats and had a nice, leg-room-enhanced flight to Florida. When we arrived, we caught a quick bite near the airport and hustled home to prepare Duloc Manor for its "big day." I try to hose down to porch and walls on a regular basis, but it's a losing battle. My puny jet of water is no match for the intense filth that seems drawn like a magnet to the light beige, dirt-showing exterior. Finally, I would get to see what happens when a professional goes up against the muck.

Power washing is one of those "new" Florida things for me. In my neighborhood up north, most of the homes are brick, so no one bothers with power washing. I've heard of it occasionally for people who live in sided houses or those who reside in mobile homes, but it's not a common thing. When I told my brother that we had to get home to prepare for the power washing, he looked at me as though I'd lost my marbles. It was as foreign to him as saying I have lizards on the sidewalk or an armadillo rooting in the hedges or that we're stocking up on water for hurricane season. Chicago is such a long way from Celebration.

That evening, my husband removed all of the screens, and we took turns hosing them down. Normally, I love the fact that my house has a window in virtually every available inch of wall space, but my feelings are mixed when they require some type of maintenance. Then we took in the porch swing, door mats, flowers, and garden decor in eager anticipation of the next day's big event. As I looked around my barren porch, I was amazed at how large it actually is. It seemed so bare and lonely without my beloved porch swing.

The next morning, after my exercise walk, I hustled home eagerly, hoping to see the workmen. No dice. My neighbors had contacted Town Hall the previous day and were reassured that things were proceeding on schedule, so I assured myself that they would show up eventually. But as the day wore on, my optimism gave way to weary acceptance that I had been fished in. My flowers wilted in the blazing sunlight; I had moved them onto the lawn, but they are used to the shelter of the shady porch. I wandered out front like a lost soul, forgetting that I had no swing to relax in when I brought the cats outside. I called Town Hall and left a plaintive message: "Are the power washers still coming?" But alas, I received no reply.

As I type this, it's after 8 p.m. and all hope is lost. My optimism has wilted like the poor impatiens that I moved out in the merciless summer sun. I waited nearly two years for this day, and it looks like I'll be waiting a little longer. At least my neighbors in the building empathize; they, too, know the roller coaster ups and downs that go with living in a triplex in Celebration. We are thinking about forming the East Village Triplex Trauma Survivors support group.

Oh well, tomorrow is another day. They say that hope springs eternal, so perhaps my faith will be renewed along with Wednesday's rising sun.

Learn more about Celebration on my website: www.celebrationinfo.com


Rob said...


I just watned to tell you that I really enjoy your writing. Your blog is the first thing I open up Mon - Fri to see if anything new is written. It gives me a nice escape :) Im a Chicago native myself and get down to Orlando a few times a year. Its great to hear things from your perspective. Keep up the good work!

CleanFastUSA said...

Hi Barb,

I stumbled across your blog while searching for 'Power Washing, Celebration' on Google!

I know this was a LONG time ago, but did you ever get the power washing service?

I am also a Celebration resident (North Village), and funnily enough, own a Commercial Pressure Washing business that services commercial real estate throughout Florida.

Anyways, that's enough of any kind of sales pitch from me... reason I ask if you ever had the pressure washing done is that I've noticed that many areas of Celebration are looking tired. I've submittedd bids for Pressure Washing at the Georgetown and Waterstreet condos - to no avail!!

I enjoyed your post - you tell a good story!

Be well. Steven